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The Lead with Jake Tapper
Biden Says Omicron Surge Is "Not Like March 2020"; NYC Hospital System Sees 73 Percent Increase In Hospitalizations In One Week; Democrats Scrambling To Keep Social Spending Bill Alive; LAPD To Release Bodycam Video After 14-Year-Old Girl Killed; Heavy Flooding Leaves At Least 18 Dead, Thousands Homeless. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired December 27, 2021 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: The highest seven-day average of new COVID cases in the U.S. since January.
THE LEAD starts right now.
Work needs to be done. President Biden acknowledging what most Americans already know about testing inadequacies as the omicron variant tears across the United States.
A 14-year-old girl in a California store dressing room killed by a police officer's stray bullet. We're about to get a closer look at what went so wrong.
And then, water, water everywhere. At least 300,000 people dealing with floods that have left entire communities under water and killed at least 17.
TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
We begin today in our health lead. For the first time since taking office, President Joe Biden joined his COVID team's regular call with the nation's governors telling state leaders, tell us what you need. This all comes as omicron cases surge nationwide, topping delta's peak.
And the White House continues to struggle to address the testing supply shortage during the holidays. From Miami to New York, Kentucky to Colorado, Americans waiting, sometimes for hours, to find out if they test positive for COVID.
And right now, the U.S. is averaging close to 200,000 new COVID cases every day. That's the highest number of cases on a daily rate since January 19th, 2021, before vaccinations, before boosters were widely available.
Perhaps some good news in all of this. Hospitalizations, as of right now, are not rising as much as cases, but as CNN's Tom Foreman reports, Dr. Fauci says that could be next, particularly for the unvaccinated.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You're highly protected.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Omicron is a cause for concern but not for panic. That was President Biden's message to the nation's governors on the front lines of the health care battle.
BIDEN: This is not like March of 2020, the beginning of the pandemic. We're prepared, and we know what it takes to save lives, protect people and keep schools and businesses open.
FOREMAN: With COVID cases soaring, more than 2,000 flights were grounded worldwide and nearly 3,000 delayed in the U.S. just today. That's on top of thousands over the weekend. And flight crews keep calling in sick, even as holiday travelers keep coming.
RAN LALL, TRAVELER: We actually changed our flight to a nonstop flight just to, in hopes of hopefully not having any cancellations.
FOREMAN: At sea, several cruise ships have been affected in some cases turned away from ports, in all dampening festivities.
ASHLEY PETERSON, CRUISE SHIP PASSENGER: They weren't really enforcing masks until a lot of people started getting COVID and then they were kind of enforcing masks more. I don't think I'll ever go on a cruise again honestly at this point.
FOREMAN: As the omicron variant rages, testing lines are stretching out and tests running short in some places. New York City is enforcing a COVID vaccine mandate for private businesses.
DR. ASHISH JHA, DEAN BROWN UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: No one thinks this is the holiday season we were hoping for. But contrast it to last year. It's so much better.
FOREMAN: Also better, hospitalizations are not rising as quickly as feared. And health officials are reconsidering the ten-day recommended isolation for people who test positive.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: The idea about cutting down the period of quarantine for people who have been exposed and perhaps the period of isolation for people who have been infected is something that is under, I would say, serious consideration.
FOREMAN: Still, for now, the virus keeps hammering hospitals, patients and staffs alike.
DIANA RICHARDSON, CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, TUTTS MEDICAL CENTER: We have, as of this morning, 115 staff members out ill with COVID, who have tested positive.
FOREMAN: Even the holiday fun and games are getting shaky with five college football bowl games canceled or scrambling to find new teams as COVID rips through locker rooms. Brand-new rules allow for the championship itself to be delayed or decided by forfeit if necessary, although nobody wants that.
ELI GOLD, RADIO VOICE FOR ALABAAM CRIMSON TIDE FOOTBALL: Everybody wants to play. The players are looking out for themselves. They really are.
FOREMAN (on camera): Simply put, the pandemic once again has everything in flux despite most Americans doing the right thing and getting vaccinated. And we have been living this way for a while. They predict the omicron winter surge could last six to eight weeks -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Tom Foreman, thanks so much.
Let's go right to one of those testing sites with CNN's Leyla Santiago where Miami residents have been waiting up to two hours for a test.
Leyla, is this the busiest you've seen this site?
LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, actually, Jake, we just talked to someone who got a test. They told us they had to wait three hours at this site. This is one of the busiest sites in south Florida run by Nomi Health.
And the health group tells me that they plans to open four to five more testing sites in the coming days to try to meet that demand. They say they have enough when it comes to supplies for testing, when it comes to workers. But they're still struggling a little bit to meet the challenge when it comes to the volume because of such high demand in testing.
I spoke to the general manager of Nomi Health, Florida. Here's what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RON GONCALVES, GENERAL MANAGER, NOMI HEALTH FLORIDA: With the holidays right around the corner we knew there would be a surge and an increase. Again, I don't think anyone predicted that between -- in comparing the delta, the peak of delta versus where we are today at our sites, we have seen a 50 percent increase in testing volumes, between those two. And we don't quite know if we're at peak yet with omicron.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANTIAGO: And, Jake, I also checked in with the Florida hospital association. They say they're seeing hospitalizations relatively low increasing slowly, but they still have many beds to treat COVID patients and non-COVID patients in Florida -- Jake.
TAPPER: Leyla, are they worried at all about running out of tests?
SANTIAGO: So I asked about supply, and they say at this point, while they don't know exactly when they will hit the peak for this omicron wave, the head of Nomi Health in Florida says they are not concerned about supply when it comes to testing materials. They are working around the clock when it comes to their labs, but the supply is not a concern at this point.
TAPPER: All right. Leyla Santiago in Miami, thanks so much.
Let's bring in Dr. Ashish Jha. He's the dean of Brown University School of Public Health.
Dr. Jha, there are now more cases of omicron than there were of delta at the height of the delta surge. But hospitalizations are less than 70 percent of what they were during the last peak around September. What does this tell you?
DR. ASHISH JHA, DEAN, BROWN UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Yeah, Jake, first of all, thanks for having me back.
I think two things. First of all, by the way, we're still early in the omicron surge. I think we're going to blow past our 250,000 number that we had last December which was our peak, probably double that, if not more. So we have a lot more infections to go. The issue is what you raise, which is our hospitalizations going to rise at the same rate? I think we have very good evidence it's not going to rise at the same rate.
A lot of these infections are happening in vaccinated people and they are suffering relatively mild disease. And that's separation between infections and hospitalizations is that essentially that's the transition we've been waiting for as we go from really an acute phase of this pandemic towards more endemic phase.
TAPPER: Do you agree with what the experts say that it could be another six to eight weeks for this omicron surge? Does that track with the data you've seen?
JHA: Yeah, it depends, a little bit. But, really, the only country we've got good data from so far is South Africa which saw peak in about four weeks and started coming down. Obviously, our country's immune profile is very different. A lot more people vaccinated. So we don't know how this is going to play out here.
My hope is, it's more like 4 to 6 weeks, which has the peak then kind of in mid-January with infection numbers declining. But it's really a best guess at this moment.
TAPPER: The infectious disease director at Children's National Hospital in D.C. said they're close to half the COVID tests being performed are coming back positive. Close to half. That includes children with symptoms and without symptoms. What does that tell you?
JHA: Yeah, it tells me this virus is really very widespread. Particularly in Washington, D.C. but it's not going to be in D.C. alone. We've seen New York, San Francisco, other big cities. It's going to be all across the country.
The fact that it's asymptomatic in some kids is great but there are still plenty of kids getting sick from this virus. One reason we've got to vaccinate our kids as well.
TAPPER: The CDC now says health care workers who are asymptomatic can return to work after seven days with a negative test. That's down from ten days.
New York state says fully vaccinated asymptomatic can return to work five days after testing positive. Dr. Fauci was asked whether the isolation period to be shortened for everyone. Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FAUCI: Certainly, we're considering it going beyond just health care workers because, you know, there are a lot of people in society that are essential for the smooth running of the infrastructure of our society, so the idea about cutting down the period of quarantine for people who have been exposed and perhaps the period of isolation for people who have been infected is something that is under, I would say, serious consideration.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: What do you say to those who think it's taking too long for health experts to update their guidance and are forced to abide by old guidance that may not be as relevant especially with omicron?
JHA: Yeah, I totally agree with that, Jake. I do think that it needs to be shortened. I expect the CDC to come out, hopefully soon, with some new guidance on this. But that's what I'm expecting at this moment because the evidence is pretty clear. You don't need to be isolated for ten days if you've been infected, particularly if you've been vaccinated and boosted. Much shorter isolation is fine. You're not going to be contagious.
And there are ways of managing a shorter isolation, including mask wearing, which New York is asking for, or a negative antigen test which is what I've called for as a way to end an isolation earlier than ten days.
TAPPER: Testing, of course, continues to be a real challenge in this country. Inexplicably given how much experts and people like you and me have been talking about the need to have testing all over the country as much as possible. Fauci says he expects things to get better in January. But what happens until then?
JHA: Yeah, this is -- this is not where we should be two years into this pandemic. You know, look, I think the administration undervalued testing for much of 2021. They relied heavily on vaccinations, which of course are terrific and really, really important. But we did not build up the testing infrastructure we needed to manage this winter surge, and that means the next few weeks will be really tough and frustrating and rightly so for Americans. The key issue is, can we finally once and for all get it fixed once we
get into January, February. I'm hopeful that we will, but this is not what it should be.
TAPPER: So, obviously, the data all suggests that if you are vaccinated and boosted, you have a much better chance of not only surviving COVID but not having that intense a case of COVID. What about how transmissible you might be? Are people who are vaccinated and boosted less infectious if they catch it than somebody who is not vaccinated?
ASHISH: It's a very good question. We know for other variants like delta and alpha or the original strain, that absolutely, if you were vaccinated, you're far less likely to transmit because you're much less contagious. I suspect what we're going to see with omicron is if you're boosted, you're going to be less likely to be contagious, less likely to be infected. But we don't know for sure. We'll have to sort this out for omicron as we have every other variant.
TAPPER: Tell us if you don't mind sharing, how you live your life, the choices you choose to make. Do you still go out in restaurants? Do you go to a movie theater? Do you have small gatherings with friends?
You are somebody that people look up to. He wants to avoid getting COVID. What are some of the things that you do?
JHA: Sure. So I have gatherings with friends in our home. Everybody who comes in is vaccinated and boosted. I don't worry so much about the little kids, if they're over 5, they're all vaccinated as well.
I've gone to a concert. I went to the Boston holiday pops, which was wonderful. Everybody was masked and we needed to show a vaccine. Restaurants that don't have a vaccine mandate, I've been largely avoiding.
I just don't want to sit next to an unvaccinated person for two hours unmasked. That's a personal choice that I've made, that I'd rather not. I don't think it would be incredibly risky, but at the same time, if I can avoid those situations, I like to do it.
TAPPER: We just wrapped one holiday with a lot of families across the U.S. gathered. New Year's Eve is just a few days from now. Do you expect to see even more of a surge in infections? Because -- I mean, a New Year's crowd is different from a Christmas crowd. Christmas crowd tends to be smaller, people you know, family. A New Year's crowd can be a much bigger party.
Do you think that that will cause rates to go up?
JHA: I do. I mean, that's just been our experience. We saw it certainly after last New Year's Eve. We've seen it after other gatherings, other holidays we see a big spike.
So I'm worried about that. If we had ubiquitous testing I'd make sure everybody at the party is tested. Keep the party a little bit smaller than usual. It's going to be harder without those tests available. So I am a little bit worried about what's going to happen over New
Year's Eve weekend.
TAPPER: All right. Dr. Ashish Jha, thank you so much. Good to see you again.
It has been a harbinger of COVID to come. We'll check in with a doctor who runs a New York ER. Why what they are seeing could be next for what the rest of the country will go through.
Plus, new details in the tragic death of a 14-year-old girl. Police body camera about to be revealed filling in the picture of the police officer's fatal stray bullet we're told.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: In our health lead, as the United States braces for an increase in hospitalizations because of the highly contagious omicron variant, New York is giving us an early warning sign of how bad it could get in the rest of the country. The Northwell Health Hospital System in New York City, in Long Island is seeing a 73 percent spike in COVID hospitalizations, 73 percent in just one week.
Let's bring in the emergency department co-chair at Northwell's Long Island Jewish medical center in New Hyde Park, Dr. Fred Davis.
Dr. Davis, thanks for joining us.
What are you seeing in your emergency department right now?
DR. FRED DAVIS, EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT, CO-CHAIR, LONG ISLAND JEWISH MEDICAL CENTER, NORTHWELL HEALTH: Thank you for having me. I think one of the interesting things we're starting to see during this surge, it's been very different than the first surge. During the first surge, we saw a majority of the patients were COVID. This surge, we've seen a lot of sicker patients that had delayed care because of the different surges that went on and now we're starting to see a number of patients presenting with very low acuity, very minimal symptoms. That's all coming in to the emergency department to get tested.
TAPPER: Oh, interesting. Who is -- other people who are being rushed into the hospital with serious COVID, which is doesn't sound like is a tremendous percentage, but other people being rushed into the system with serious COVID, can you describe them in any trends? Are they unvaccinated? Are they older? Do they have underlying conditions?
DAVIS: I think the majority of the patients that we're seeing that are coming down with more of the serious symptoms, those having difficulty breathing, requiring oxygen supplementation, the majority of them remain unvaccinated. We are still seeing some breakthrough. But those tend to not be as sick as those that are unvaccinated.
TAPPER: So what is the biggest strain in your hospital right now?
DAVIS: I think there's a number of things we look at. So, both the volume which is coming in, both seeing the patients that are critically ill, requiring emergency care, but also seeing a significant increase, especially after the holiday, the recent holidays of those coming in with minimal symptoms presenting to the emergency departments in order to get tested.
TAPPER: And how are you and your fellow doctors and nurses and health support staff, how are you all dealing with this most recent wave that's starting for any number of reasons because of the burnout. You must -- many of you must be experiencing because of two years of this. And also just psychologically treating so many people who had the option to get vaccinated but have not.
DAVIS: I think there's always the fear in the back of our mind of what we all went through during that first phase and how horrific it was and having to deal with a lot of really sick patients that became sick very quickly. I think what's helped us through that is we've developed that family, kind of do that in any hospital setting but particularly the emergency department we bond together to really tackle those difficult situations together as a team.
And I think we've learned to lean on each other during this time and while we fear that this is something that's just starting, we also know that we can get through it because we got through something just as bad if not worse.
TAPPER: What are some signs for the people out there who get COVID and have symptoms. What's a sign for them that it's time to go to the emergency room? Are oximeters that measure blood oxygen levels, you can pick them up at CVS or Walgreens. Is that -- is that the best indicator?
DAVIS: I think that's a great point. I think one of the things we want to do is we don't want to over-utilize resources that are out there so that those that need them have access to them. And that is one of the ways to really check to see how sick somebody is, because in many cases from an emergency standpoint, what we're looking at is, are you requiring extra oxygen? Do you need oxygen outside of what you're able to breathe in?
So, a pulse ox, which is easily accessible now, is one of the best ways to look at that. We also look for how hard it is to breathe. When people say they're having short of breath and breathing very quickly, that also suggests your body is working hard through this to possibly need extra resources to help with that care.
TAPPER: So if I remember correctly, the very first COVID vaccination administered in the United States was at your hospital. So give us a 30,000-foot view of that hopeful moment to where we are now.
DAVIS: Yeah, I think that was a moment in time that we saw a break. You know, dealing with the volume of which we were seeing of really sick patients that continued to come in without anything that we could do to really prevent a lot of that. I think having and seeing that first vaccination being given, gave us
hope to even get us to this point where we are today where we have vaccinations and booster shots, and shots for children. I think it was a moment.
TAPPER: Let's turn to -- there's an opinion article in "The Times" by journalists living in the Netherlands, warning about policy failures there with coronavirus surges, such as this one. And she writes, quote: Hospitals gave dire warnings of "code black", meaning they're running out of beds. Some patients were transferred to Germany. And on top of all this, omicron currently up to 15 percent of infections is expected to cause another spike. But haven't we learned enough in the last two years to avoid stop/start lockdown as a gut reaction pandemic response? Unquote.
So policymakers here like to say they are, quote, following the science. Do you think the U.S. should go into a full lockdown or what's your opinion?
DAVIS: I think we learned from our past experiences, and I think that there's times when that was needed. However, as we're starting to see now and as we move forward and try to predict this ever-changing virus, I think we've seen that most of what we're learning from either South Africa or even what we're seeing currently in our own hospitals is that this variants of omicron seems to be less severe. That those aren't requiring as much of the hospitalizations as we saw during the alpha variant.
And I think that's really where we're concerned. We're not straining the resources of the hospitals at this point to really necessitate those things.
TAPPER: All right. Dr. Fred Davis, thank you so much and thank you for what you and your fellow health care workers do. We really appreciate it.
DAVIS: Thank you.
TAPPER: Is a breakup what Democrats need to ultimately come back together? A new idea looking to find the votes to deliver President Biden's big economic agenda. That's next.
TAPPER: In our politics lead, some Democratic optimism today saying that they might be able to pass build back better after all. One Democratic senator says the party is considering breaking that massive social safety net bill into smaller pieces to try to get it across the finish line.
CNN's Jessica Dean is live on Capitol Hill for us.
Jessica, is there any momentum behind this idea of breaking up the bill and wouldn't that require ten Senate Republicans to join them? JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That is exactly right, Jake. And
that's where this plan gets really complicated, and it's hard to have a lot of optimism for that particular path forward, because to date, there's been no outreach of support, very, very, very little, on any of these issues. And as we head into 2022, which is now just five days away, remember, we're going into an election year where Republicans are not going to want to help out Democrats, not give them a win.
So to parcel this out into smaller individual items and try to pass it through with ten Republican votes is extremely difficult. So then what is the other option? Well, we heard, as you mentioned, from Senator Ben Cardin earlier today on our air and he talked about, well, potentially they can slim down this bill and get it to the point where Joe Manchin would be on board with it.
The fact remains that the vast majority of Senate Democrats, and that's 49 out of 50, want to see build back better passed. But the question is, what will Joe Manchin accept and is there anything that would be acceptable to him that is slimmed down that they can get over the finish line with just those Democratic votes? And that's what we just don't know yet, Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Jessica Dean on Capitol Hill, thanks so much.
Here to discuss, Democratic Congressman Jason Crow of Colorado.
Congressman, good to see you. I know you had a recent bout of COVID and I'm glad you're feeling better.
So, what do you think of this idea of breaking up Build Back Better into smaller pieces to try to get Senator Manchin or even maybe ten Republicans on board to get them passed that way?
REP. JASON CROW (D-CO): Hi, Jake. Thanks for having me. It's good to be back.
You know, first of all, I think we should recognize that the entire bill in its entirety remains extremely popular with the American people. People love it.
When you explain what it does over 70 percent of Americans support it. So I think we have to continue to stay focused on trying to pass that bill or a substantially similar bill. You know, I haven't been around Congress for that long, but I've been around long enough to know things can come back to life, things can be reanimated.
So, I think we're going to have to see what happens after the New Year, discussions with Joe Manchin. If we can't get the bill in its entirety passed, yeah, we have to look at options to get separate pieces of that passed. And that is challenging. There's no doubt about it.
TAPPER: So if you pare it down a bit or at least enough to get Senator Manchin on board, is that even possible? Is there a version of this that Manchin would support? I guess he doesn't support extending the child tax credits the way some progressives want. Is there legislation that progressives can support that Manchin would support?
CROW: Well, I think what we have to do is make the case to Senator Manchin that West Virginia and West Virginians will benefit from this. From the extension of Medicare and dental benefits, to child care benefits, to transition support for coal miners to -- housing support, all the things in it are things that his constituents, my constituents, people across the country will benefit.
So we have to focus, I think, less on the dollar amount because when we hear this talked about, they say, oh, this is a spending bill. Well, this isn't a spending bill. This is a bill for working families.
This is a health care bill. It's a jobs bill. It is a Build Back Better bill. That's what it needs to do. We need to focus the discussion around what it does and what it is we need to have it do for the American people instead of looking at the dollar amounts.
TAPPER: So the House Progressive Caucus is calling on President Biden to push forward some parts of this bill through executive action.
Do you think that's the right way forward?
CROW: I think we should look at that. I mean, certainly there are elements of this that we can get done under executive action and if the Republicans in the House and Senate are going to lock up and not do anything, not even do the things their constituents overwhelmingly want them to do, just because it's election year politics, then, yeah, we need to look at what the president can do through executive action to get things done because we do have the support of the American people. It always comes back to that.
We have the support of the American people. This is what President Biden campaigned on. This is what we all campaigned on, and we have to make sure we're delivering because people expect that.
Now, if Republicans, people on the other side of the aisle are trying to make both arguments. They're trying to say, you know, well, you can't pass this bill because it will be unpopular if you do. It's too expensive and at the same time if you're trying to say, if you don't pass this bill, you'll be penalized at the ballot box -- well, which one is it?
I know which one it is. It's that people want this bill. They know it's paid for. They know it's actually going to reduce inflationary stresses. They know that it's what the country needs to take us into the 21st century.
TAPPER: I want to ask you about the latest out of Afghanistan where, obviously, you deployed as an army ranger. The Taliban told CNN that they've dissolved the country's independent election committee and its state ministries for peace and parliamentary affairs saying there was no longer a need for them. What was your reaction to that when you heard that news? CROW: Well, the Taliban continues to move in the wrong direction
which is not a surprise to me or you, Jake, or anyone who else has been paying attention to the Taliban for many decades now. But we have to do is stay focused on the people of Afghanistan.
You know, we fought and died, spilled American blood, spent American treasure not for the Taliban, to counterterrorism, which we still have to do, but also to help the Afghan people achieve peace and some prosperity.
We cannot give up on the Afghan people who are looking at a disastrous famine right now. They want to have democracy and I think they have to be willing to fight for it in the future. But we have to get them through this winter.
So, that's why I led a letter along with several of my colleagues, Tom Malinowski and Peter Meijer, bipartisan effort that is signed by several dozen members of Congress that really outlines the way that we can provide aid directly to America -- directed to the Afghan people without providing support to the Taliban. There's a way to get this done and we continue to push the administration to do.
TAPPER: Yeah. I mean, it's a real humanitarian crisis unfolding there. Is the Biden administration doing enough?
CROW: We continue to push them to do more. We think that there is a way to put financial structures in place to allow some money to flow because there's a liquidity crisis. It's really an economic crisis that's driving the famine. So, we need to increase liquidity. We have to make sure that we prop up the economy.
There is money that's willing to flow. It just can't because of the sanctions regime. So, we have to continue to ease some of those sanctions in a way that does not help the Taliban but does help the Afghan people -- I'm sorry, the Afghan people -- and there's a way to do that that we've outlined in our letter. So, there's more to be done.
TAPPER: Today, President Biden signed the NDAA, the defense funding bill, which includes a multi-year independent Afghan war commission to look at the war in Afghanistan after the U.S. military withdrawal.
What are the biggest questions you want answered by that commission?
CROW: Well, Jake, I want to have answered, I think the penultimate question is, how did we let this happen?
Twenty years of war. Thousands of American lives, tens of thousands wounded, tons of American families that have had their life altered, and we've had general after general, administration after administration, Republican administration, Democratic administration, multiple congresses that always said we could do this.
We can just -- if we had more troops, if we had more soldiers if we pushed more, we could do it. We weren't going to be able to do it. And we should have known that a long time ago. Not in the way we were trying to do it.
So, why don't we take a step back as a nation and say, how can we stop this cycle of these decades-long wars? How can we do this very different? There's got to be a very different model for ensuring our national security, for promoting democracy overseas but not doing it using the military as our primary tool.
I believe there is a new model that can be found and I'd like a robust conversation with this commission with the American people about what does a new national security and foreign policy look like for the decades to come.
TAPPER: Democratic Congressman, Jason Crow, thank you so much. Good to see you. Happy New Year to you, sir.
CROW: Thanks, Jake. You as well.
TAPPER: An innocent 14-year-old girl killed while in a store dressing room. New body cam video could shed light on the police officer who fired that fatal shot.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: In our national lead today, authorities have now identified the 14-year-old girl killed while in a dressing room with her mother in Los Angeles. Valentina Orellana-Peralta was fatally struck by a round believed to have been fired by an LAPD officer. Police say the incident happened after they responded to multiple calls about a possible shooting in progress. Los Angeles police say they plan to release body cam video of the incident today.
CNN's Josh Campbell joins us now live from Los Angeles.
And, Josh, what is the department saying about the shooting?
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, tragic and devastating, Jake is how the city's police chief is describing that incident and to remind our viewers, this happened last Thursday. Authorities received reports of a 911 calls of an attack in progress at this department store. As officers were on their way to arriving, that call was elevated to possible shots fired.
As officers arrived, they encountered a female who was bleeding. Witnesses say a man was beating her with a bicycle chain. Authorities made contact with that suspect and something caused one of the officers to open fire on that suspect. He was shot and killed.
However, when authorities did a sweep of the building looking for other potential victims, they found something truly heartbreaking. Take a listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ASST. CHIEF DOMINIC CHOI, LOS ANGELES POLICE: The call was upgraded to possible shots fired. Officers encountered the suspect and during that encounter an officer-involved shooting occurred. We found a hole in the wall, and behind a -- the dry wall, solid wall that you can't see behind, we went behind it. It turned out to be the dressing room.
And what we did is we were able to locate a 14-year-old female who was found deceased in that dressing room. Preliminarily, we believe that round was an officer's round.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMPBELL: Truly devastating there. This 14-year-old girl shot and killed by a stray round fired by one of those officers. I want to show you a memorial that's been set up at that department store. Members of the community bringing in cards and flowers and balloons to remember that 14-year-old girl.
As you mentioned, we are awaiting any moment for the LAPD to release a series of videos, as well as 911 audio and CCTV footage from inside that store that day, Jake. We're hoping that will provide us some answers to some of these key questions about what the officer saw when that officer opened fire. Killing that suspect and, obviously, resulting in the tragic death of this 14-year-old girl, Jake.
TAPPER: And, Josh, I understand the California attorney general has also announced an investigation into this tragic incident?
CAMPBELL: That's right. The state's attorney general has launched a team of state investigators to come and do an independent review of the incident. This actually follows a law signed last year by California Governor Gavin Newsom which requires the state AG's office to investigate any officer-involved shooting in which an unarmed person dies.
Now, we understand that after that investigation is complete, those results will be handed over to the state's special prosecutor's office. They will determine if any charges are warranted -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Josh Campbell in Los Angeles for us -- thanks so much.
Streets and houses under water in nearly 40 cities. These massive floods are washing away lives. We'll have the dramatic images coming up next.
Plus, we're following some breaking news. The CDC just announced big changes to the isolation period for some people who test positive for COVID.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: In our "Earth Matters" series now, massive flooding in Brazil has concerns grow more could be on the way. Authorities say nearly 40 cities in the northeastern part of the country have been affected, leading at least 18 people dead and tens of thousands homeless. The devastating torrential rain is causing two dams to burst over the weekend, threatening the region with additional flooding and landslides.
CNN's Matt Rivers is following the story for us.
And, Matt, what are authorities saying about the danger of more flooding?
MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they are saying it's a distinct possibility right now because it's still raining, Jake, in many parts of Bahia state. It's that state in Northeastern Brazil that is most affected, where almost all of those 40 cities that you just mentioned are.
And the interesting thing about all of this rain is that it's really been going back weeks now. You're talking about rainfall that's been torrential basically since November and so it built up and built up and built up, which eventually caused this culmination, these two dams to burst over the weekend. And that just inundated many of these communities with a flood of water that they simply have never seen before. One of the mayors of these towns said in his 50 years living in this one city he's never seen anything like this.
And the video shows you how inundated some of these parts are with water. You're talking about hundreds of thousands of people in the state of Bahia being affected. At least 35,000 people have had to leave their homes as a result of this. At least 18 people dead going back to November, 280 injured.
But, of course, that's not the full picture because authorities can't reach a lot of these places that have been so inundated so quickly with so much water, Jake. So, authorities still trying to get a broader picture of what's happening here, but what's happened so far is just horrific.
TAPPER: And, Matt, what do experts and authorities there have to say about whether or not climate change is impacting this at all in terms of the extreme flooding?
RIVERS: You know, I had a conversation with our CNN meteorological team who said there's no doubt these extreme events can be caused by climate change. If you talk to officials in Brazil, the mayor of one of the hardest hit towns directly attributes what's happening right now to climate change.
He said, unfortunately, water is often a gift from God but he said in this case, our actions causing climate change has made this happen. He said this has never happened before and climate change is happening now. So, clearly, these things are correlated in his opinion.
And this rain is going to continue, Jake. We know in some parts of the state of Bahia, there could be 100 millimeters or roughly four inches of rain that will fall over the next 24 to 48 hours, which means that as bad as this has been so far, it might get worse as the next days continue.
TAPPER: All right. Matt Rivers, thank you so much.
In our national lead, we note the passing of a legendary U.S. warrior and counterterrorism operator, Richard Marcinko was the first commander of Navy SEAL Team 6. The famously secret unit jumping into the spotlight by killing Osama bin Laden in 2011. It's a unique that has a fascinating history.
Marcinko was a Vietnam war combat veteran. He helped form SEAL Team 6 in 1980 after the U.S. military's failed attempt to rescue U.S. hostages in Iran. At the time, the Navy had only two SEAL teams. Marcinko named is SEAL Team 6 to make the USSR and other nations worry that the U.S. had more special operations teams that they knew about. Marcinko led the SEAL team 6 through 1983 and he retired ultimately from the navy in 1989.
His son tells "The New York Times" that Marcinko died Saturday with the family believes was a heart attack. He was 81 years old. May his memory be a blessing.
We're tracking breaking news. The CDC just announcing they are shortening the isolation period for some people if they meet certain conditions after they've contracted COVID. What you need to know. That's next.
And if you are trying to fly home from your holiday trip, you better pack your patience. COVID causing havoc with the airlines.
Stay with us.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
And we start with breaking news in our health lead. Moments ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced it is shortening the isolation period for Americans who test positive for coronavirus, reducing it from ten days to five as long as one is asymptomatic at that point. The CDC says the changes are driven by science, which shows that the majority of COVID transmission happens in the first few days of illness.
This announcement comes just hours after President Biden finally conceded publicly what's been obvious since 2020. The federal government first under Trump, now under him, has not done nearly enough to scale up testing to provide the safest way possible for Americans to live our lives. Right now in some parts of the country, Americans are waiting hours to find out if they're positive.
And as CNN's Alexandra Field reports for us now, nearly 200,000 Americans are testing positive each and every day.
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DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: We're certainly going to continue to see a surge for a while. I hope we peak and come down quickly.
ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The strain of omicron's surge already being felt by many.
DR. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: I think we're going to see, you know, half a million cases per day easy some time over the next week, week to ten days.
FIELD: As infections spread rapidly, health officials still believe those who are vaccinated and boosted should remain well-protected from severe disease but there are consequences affecting everyone.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We still have tens of millions of unvaccinated people. And we're seeing hospitalizations rise. It means our hospitals and some places are going to get overrun.
FIELD: President Biden announcing last week the federal government is deploying hundreds of FEMA ambulances and EMS crews and mobilizing a thousand more military doctors, nurses and medics to help staff hospitals overwhelmed by the surge.
DIANA RICHARDSON, CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, TUTTS MEDICAL CENTER: We have, as of this morning, 115 staff members out ill with COVID who have tested positive.
FIELD: Federal emergency response teams are already working to ease the burden on health care workers in Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, Vermont, New Hampshire and New Mexico. As COVID-related staffing shortages cripple even more industries.