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Thousands Of Flight Cancellations, Delays As Winter Storm Hits; Today: House Expected To Pass $1.7T Spending Bill To Avert Shutdown; CDC: Invasive Strep A Infections May Be On The Rise. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired December 23, 2022 - 11:30   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: This monster storm isn't just bringing heavy snow and bitterly cold temperatures to so many spots, in other spots, there's actually a real threat of flooding. Atlantic City is warning drivers about this exact thing right now. And as you can see it's already happening, streets turning into rivers there.

Temperatures in Atlantic City are above freezing at the moment but that is going to soon change. They're expected to plunge more than 20 degrees later today, so very clearly, there could be some real serious additional problems ahead.

And millions of Americans are trying to head home or head out for the holidays. This massive weather system is stopping many people in their tracks. The snow, the rain, the ice, the winds, all -- have already caused thousands of flight delays and cancellations at airports across the country. And the ripple effects are nowhere close to over yet. Ivan Rodriguez is at Hartsfield Jackson in Atlanta for us. Ivan, what are you hearing there?

IVAN RODRIGUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kate, good morning. This is said to be a once-in-a-generation winter storm that's already affecting so many people in their holiday travel plans. We're beginning to feel that polar plunge here in Atlanta, early morning hours, it was around 48 degrees. And now this hour, I can tell you it's about 18 degrees.

You can see a stark difference there in terms of the temperature but it's not only having an effect when it comes to air travel. We're also keeping an eye on the number of power outages. Right now, across the country, there's more than a million power outages. Here in Georgia, there's at least 100,000 people without power. That poses an obvious risk for so many people across the state and the country.

Now, in terms of cancellations and delays. Across the country, we're currently seeing more than 3800 cancellations. Delays have also begun to boost up a little bit. That number is more than 3 -- 3400. That's more than 1000 -- just to compare it to yesterday, more than 1000 flight cancellations more than what we saw on Thursday. It's just real big numbers. The highest cancellations in terms of airports, we're seeing them at LaGuardia, Seattle Tacoma, Detroit, Boston, and Chicago O'Hare, and Midway airports. The FAA also considering halting or restricting traffic at airports across the country.

Now, already on the West Coast, we're beginning to see those effects. Poland International Airport had under a ground stop due to snow and ice. Seattle was under a similar grounds that they were able to now reopen at least one runway we're told after that was the ice.

Here on the East Coast, in Charlotte and Reagan National Airport or also under ground stops as well. But here at home in Atlanta, at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, minimal cancellations. I actually spoke with an airport official who tells me they're completely prepared for this winter storm.


ANDREW GOBEIL, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, HARTSFIELD-JACKSON ATLANTA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT: We pretreated our roadways, we pretreated our walkways, we didn't have to pretreat the airfield at all, so everything is fine. We had had winter weather meetings leading up to this weekend, so we made plans. We knew what to expect.

JAMES MILLER, TRAVELING THROUGH HARTSFIELD-JACKSON ATLANTA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT: We were praying that everything goes off without a hitch and that's all we can do it as you know, a situation like this. We knew the cold weather was coming in and it was just something that we expected.



RODRIGUEZ: And, Kate, it really depends on who you speak with in terms of their mood for traveling. You can obviously see the lines aren't too bad behind me. There's also music that's playing. So, it gives you a little bit of energy when it comes to this.

Live here in Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport. I'm Ivan Rodriguez.

BOLDUAN: Thank you, Ivan. I really appreciate it. Thanks so much. We'll check back in.

So, Customs and Border Patrol, they've issued a new warning to migrants, do not risk your life trying to cross into the United States right now. Then the reason today is the below-freezing temperatures along the border. Camila Bernal. She's there for us in El Paso, Texas. Camila, what are you seeing there today?

CAMILA BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kate. So, I was just looking at my watch. It's 22 degrees. It got to 17 earlier today. But these migrants, they are still here and they want to be in this country. They say there's so many hardships that they've already gone through. This is just another one to add to that pile. I want to show you what they've been doing. They've been sleeping on the sidewalk. They have now picked up essentially all of their blankets and folded them to use possibly for tomorrow again. But as you see, there's many, many people who were not able to get into the shelters last night. And that's because a lot of these migrants did not go through the immigration process with border Patrol.

So, because they didn't do that, they were not allowed in the city shelters -- the convention center. Some of the hotels in the schools, they had to be at a nonprofit, and the nonprofits, they were over capacity. So, what happened overnight here is that there was a bus. I want to show you that first. And so overnight, just some people here were able to get on the bus to warm up for a couple of minutes.

I talked to one migrant who told me. Look, I was waking people up and telling them, you're going to die. You need to get on that bus. Thankfully, we haven't seen anyone lose their lives right now. We're just seeing a lot of people coming to get food.

There's residents here in El Paso who brought Pandolce, who brought Tamales, the traditional Mexican Tamales for Christmas, and the sweet bread. And, of course, all of these migrants so thankful for the residents that decided to do this this morning. This has been extremely helpful for them, because of course, they just needed anything to be able to warm up.

But these are difficult circumstances. It was a very difficult night for a lot of these migrants. But the bottom line is that they want to be here and they will do anything they can for a future here and for their children, Kate.

BOLDUAN: And we were -- we were talking about the crisis -- that is the migrant crisis of the border that they're seeing in this surge right now and this now at the temperatures, another crisis on top of that. Camila, thanks for being there.

So, George Santos, he's finally saying something. The Congressman- elect tweeting out that he will address the mounting questions about the life story that he sold to voters. That's next.



BOLDUAN: Congress is on track to avert a government shutdown, and not a moment too soon, of course. The Senate passed -- the $1.7 trillion spending deal we've talked so much about they passed it yesterday. And now it's up to the House. Let's go over to Capitol Hill. Manu Raju is on the Hill for us at this hour. Manu, what's the latest on this?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Kevin McCarthy, the House Republican leader just went to the floor railing on this bill. He just finished speaking going after this plan that was actually supported by 18 Senate Republicans, including the Senate Republican leader who backed this with 50 Democrats is ultimately passed the Senate yesterday, now it's in the House. But McCarthy going after this bill as he tries to rally support for his speakership bid on January 3.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY, (R-CA): This is a monstrosity. That is one of the most shameful acts I've ever seen in this body. The appropriations process has failed the American public. And there's no greater example of the nail in the coffin of the greatest failure of a one-party rule of the House, the Senate, and the presidency of this bill here. You controlled it all.


RAJU: Now, this bill had -- was cut between a handful of members Democrats and Republicans. The House Republicans were not part of this deal. That was cut between the Senate Republican Senate Democrats, and House Democrats sweeping in its nature $1.7 trillion funding all aspects of the federal government, $44 billion in aid to Ukraine. Also includes key policy measures, including overhauling the electoral Count Act, determining how Congress can count the certified presidential election votes.

But one big area of criticism, $15 billion in projects that lawmakers have earmarked from their home districts and states. But nevertheless, Kate, it has the votes. It will pass later today and avert a shutdown at the end of the night tonight. After months of negotiation, this bill is about to become law, Kate.

BOLDUAN: All right, so there we have it, at least at this moment. I appreciate it, Manu. Thank you so much.

Right, now to this. Incoming Republican Congressman George Santos, he now says that he is ready to address the mounting questions that he's facing, questions about his life story after the New York Times and others uncovered real discrepancies when it comes to his past. Jessica Dean has the latest.


JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Incoming Congressman George Santos finally acknowledging the growing scrutiny surrounding many apparent discrepancies in his biography, tweeting "I have my story to tell and it will be told next week."

REP. GEORGE SANTOS, (R-NY): Shabbat Shalom to everybody.

DEAN: One part of the New York Republican's background now in question, his family history.

SANTOS: You know, my grandparents survived the Holocaust. I'm very proud of my Jewish heritage and very proud of my grandparents' story. My grandfather fleeing Ukraine splain -- Stalin's persecution going to Belgium finding refuge there, marrying my grandmother, and fleeing Hitler going to Brazil.

[11:45:03] DEAN: But those claims are contradicted by sources reviewed by CNN's K file, including family trees, records on Jewish refugees, and interviews with multiple genealogists.

SANTOS: As I always joke, I'm Jew-ish. I come from a Jewish family. My mother's family is Jewish. I grew up and I was raised Roman Catholic.

DEAN: Megan Smolenyak, an author and professional genealogist who helped research Santos family tree at CNN's request, sent in an e- mail, "there's no sign of Jewish and or Ukrainian heritage, and no indication of name changes along the way.

SANTOS: Today, I live that American dream.

DEAN: It's just the latest development since the New York Times first reported and CNN confirmed that Santos may have misrepresented parts of his resume regarding his college education and employment history, saying he attended schools and worked at companies that have no records of his attendance or employment. While some are calling for an investigation and potential consequences.

REP. DANIEL GOLDMAN, (D-NY): This is what is clearly a serial effort to defraud voters in his district. And if George Santos did that, and he certainly appears to have made false statements in his disclosure forms to the FEC, I think it's worth the U.S. Attorney's office looking into this.

DEAN: On Capitol Hill, Thursday, House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy refused to answer any questions about what may happen to Santos or if anything should be done.


DEAN: Santos is part of a very slim four-seat majority Republicans will hold when they take over the House in January.

And so, the looming question is really what happens next, especially here on Capitol Hill. Will they see Santos as a new member? Will House GOP leadership do anything about this? As I mentioned in my story there, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy didn't answer any questions about this as he was going on and off the House floor. Will the House Ethics Committee get involved? These are all the questions that we'll have to see play out over the next several weeks.

Jessica Dean, CNN, Capitol Hill.


BOLDUAN: Jessica, thank you for that.

So, the CDC is out with a new warning today to keep an eye out for a severe type of strep infections in kids -- that's showing up in kids. What's driving this jump in infections? We're going to get at that next.


BOLDUAN: There is a new health warning for parents this morning. Strep infections may be on the rise. The CDC says that they are seeing what could be an uptick in Strep A infections among kids. The concern being that this could lead to more severe disease than your typical strep throat. So, what is going on with this?

Joining me right now is Dr. Megan Ranney. She's a professor of Emergency Medicine and Associate Dean of Public Health at Brown University. It's good to see you, Dr. Ranney. Invasive Strep A is how they're describing it. What do we need to know about this, and why is the CDC alerting doctors to this right now?

DR. MEGAN RANNEY, PROFESSOR OF EMERGENCY MEDICINE: So, back in the early fall, we started seeing a small increase in the number of what we call invasive Strep A cases in Europe. Those are now being reported in a few states in the U.S. And so, the CDCs advisory basically tells doctors, hospitals, laboratories, to keep an eye out for this. It's not yet a full-blown outbreak here, but it's giving us a heads-up.

Here's the good news for parents. We're all struggling with a horrible season of viruses. This invasive group A Strep is still quite rare. It is far more common for our kids to come down with flu or RSV or COVID, or some other piece of viral crud that we're all dealing with. But it is an alert to kind of keep your eyes open.

So, here's the thing that parents need to know. First is, if your kid is sick, if they have a high fever, if they're not able to keep down fluids, call your doctor and bring them in to get tested. Second, group A strep is treatable. There are antibiotics that work to get it better.

And the third thing is the best treatment is prevention. Get your kid up-to-date on all their shots because viral infections increase the risk of getting this invasive group A strep and make sure they wash their hands, stay home if they're sick, all the normal things that we already know how to do.

BOLDUAN: Yes, absolutely. The people are describing this Strep A being kind of on the tail end of other when your kid is getting over one virus or actually that's when you see them getting sick again, and that's when Strep A, they've been saying it set in. This -- with a wave of cold and flu, there is the shortage that we were seeing of common pain meds for kids.

Dr. Ashish Jha from the White House, he was on this morning and he said that it's not a supply issue. They're just seeing unprecedented demand right now. And he said he hopes that the shelves in you know your local pharmacies are all going to be fully restocked in the next couple of weeks. But what should parents do in the meantime?

RANNEY: So, I'm telling parents to check your medicine cabinets, make sure you have a bottle of acetaminophen or Tylenol, and a bottle of ibuprofen also known as Advil or Motrin, just in case your kid comes down with something. If your kid does get sick, and you can find these fever and pain-

reducing meds at your local pharmacy, you can try in a couple of different pharmacies. They are in short stock in many places across the country. And know that it's not an emergency if you run out of one or the other.

The point of these really is to help your kids feel better. They don't actually treat the underlying illness. So, if you only have one, you'll be OK. The bigger thing, Kate, is that it's crazy to me that we are in this situation again. How many times do we have to go through the same cycle of running out of medications in parts of the country before we stand up a supply system that can respond to these predictable increases in-demand?


BOLDUAN: I think you're saying a lot. I mean, people can understand unprecedented demand, but just being here again, seeing empty shelves, I think you're speaking to a lot of parents and non-parents alike on what we're seeing on the shelves.

We also though still have COVID to contend with, Dr. Ranney. The number of adults getting the new bivalent booster shot. It's pretty bad. I think it's about only about 14 percent of people eligible have gotten that updated shot. I want to play what Dr. Jha had to say about this this morning.


DR. ASHISH JHA, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: 45 million Americans have gotten the COVID shot. That's the new bivalent booster and that's good, you know, but we need more Americans to do it. And I think there's still -- people are learning about the fact that we have you know moved from getting your shot once and being done to really needing that annual shot.

I don't count on my flu shot from last year to protect me this year. Same thing for COVID. Keep protect your -- keep count on your shot from last year to protect you this year. And just getting that message out to Americans is really important to get that shot this year right now.


BOLDUAN: What do you think of that, Dr. Ranney?

RANNEY: So, I almost always agree with Dr. Jha, and this is certainly a place where I am in agreement. Particularly for folks who are aged 50 plus or people with other chronic diseases, things like diabetes, COPD, cancer, high blood pressure, it is so important to get that bivalent shot to up your immunity to get you through this season so that you don't end up in my ER for the holidays.

BOLDUAN: Yes. It's great to see you. Thank you so much.

RANNEY: Thank you, Kate. BOLDUAN: I want everyone to want to take a look at these live pictures from Erie Pennsylvania, snow falling, wind chills there, well below zero. Coming up. We're going to have the very latest on the storm. I'm going to tell you which areas can maybe we think some relief by Christmas time. We'll be -- we'll do that next.