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Rising Prices Pushing Some Moms Out Of The Workforce; WHO Advises Against Using Sugar Substitutes For Weight Loss; China Sentences Elderly U.S. Citizen To Life In Prison; Researcher In Florida Keys Breaks Record For Living Underwater. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired May 15, 2023 - 14:30   ET




BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: For many parents, the cost of childcare is one of the biggest expenses each month. Think about it, you pay for a daycare, diapers, food. The list goes on and on.

Now those big costs are having a major impact on working moms trying to keep their families afloat.

CNN's Natasha Chen joins us now live with more.

Natasha, you spoke with several parents who said that the cost of childcare was making them reconsider their place in the workforce.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Boris. One woman told me that her partner makes just a few dollars more per hour than the nanny makes. They both decided to keep working, though, because she said the job comes with more benefits than just the pay itself.

But other families are doing the math and some parents, especially moms, are deciding to stay home and save money.

Childcare costs have risen 26 percent in the last decade and, post- pandemic, there are fewer providers so it's not that easy to find openings.


BRI DWIGHT, WORKING MOTHER: Let's pick out a book.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Bri Dwight says a nanny used to cost $15 an hour when her first daughter was born five years ago. Now, with her new baby, it's at least $25 an hour.

DWIGHT: It lights the moon.

CHEN: The U.S. Department of Labor says the median cost of childcare can range for more than $5,000 a year in small counties up to more than $17,000 a year in very large counties. That can mean nearly a fifth of the median family income in the U.S. per child.

DWIGHT: At first, I could not believe it. But then, you know, when you go to the store and see a loaf of bread is $7, it kind of makes sense.

CHEN: Dwight is lucky, she receives $7,500 a year in childcare subsidies from her employer, soap manufacturer, Dr. Bronner's. Even so, she'll have used it all by midyear due to high cost.

Nearly 16,000 providers permanently shut down their facilities during the pandemic, according to a report from a non-profit Childcare Aware of America.

Then, the so-called great resignation of workers quitting for better paying jobs, coupled with soaring inflation pushed up the price childcare providers need to charge.

DWIGHT: We wouldn't be able to pay $15 an hour and know that they can afford a place to live.

CHEN: The cost of operating is up at Sanderling Waldorf School in California where they offer tuition assistance to eligible families.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm going to show you the tricky ones.

ANDREW UPRICHARD, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, SANDERLING WALDORF SCHOOL: But actually, what we're finding is that gap is too big, and actually we're losing families because of it.

CHEN: Decreasing childcare costs by 10 percent could result in two and a half percent more mothers in the workforce, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

JEFF MCADAM, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, TOOTRIS: When the childcare program started to close down left and right, these working, especially moms, were sidelined. And they don't get included in the unemployment numbers.

CHEN: Jeff McAdam is with TOOTRIS, a platform for finding childcare and administering childcare benefits. He says their partnerships with companies offering these subsidies shot up 500 percent last year.

In April, President Biden signed an executive order calling on federal agencies to try to lower the cost and expand access to childcare for their workers.

And the recent CHIPS Act tries to draw semiconductor business to the U.S. by letting them qualify for over $150 million of federal funding only if they have a plan for employee access to childcare.


CHEN: MiraCosta College prepares students for those semiconductor jobs but saw a drop in female student enrollment since the start of the pandemic.

KUROKAWA: I suspect that a lot of them discovered that, by staying at home, they were saving an awful lot of money.

CHEN: So, the college is partnering with TOOTRIS, too, and got a grant to offer some childcare subsidies beginning this summer.

ADRIANNA GONZALEZ, WORKING MOTHER: And my job, we do 3-D printing.

CHEN: Adrianna Gonzalez is a MiraCosta alum.


GONZALEZ: I'm a single mom.

CHEN: She was still paying for afterschool care for her son when she first enrolled.

GONZALEZ: Even for the Boys and Girl Club, they was $50 back then. Now, it's like $230.

I couldn't study. I was thinking about my eviction notice.

CHEN: Now, she makes more money as an engineering technician and can breathe a little easier.

The hope is that future students can benefit from a little childcare assistance. But even the best subsidies can only take parents so far.

CHEN (on camera): How do you make the rest of the year work?

DWIGHT: We just are going to be cutting back.


CHEN: She says she's also worried about those childcare workers, telling me we're all just trying to survive here.

The Department of Labor says that childcare worker wages are relatively low, below the living wage in most states. And yet families can't afford more. So the Department of Labor report recommends that the government invest more in quality affordable care -- Boris?

SANCHEZ: A delicate balance for a lot of families.

Natasha Chen, thanks so much for that report.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: So millions of Americans turn to sugar-free products when they're looking to drop a few pounds. We all do. I've done it.

But a new review by the World Health Organization found that sugar substitutes found in many diet sodas and food you see do not actually help weight loss.

CNN senior health correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, joins us now.

Elizabeth, explain why. And my next question is, because I might have a diet soda just off camera here, is real sugar better for you then? Or should you just not have either sugar or sugar substitutes? DR. ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: So, Jim, I

think less sugar in general is better. More natural food, certainly fruits -- sugar from fruits is a better alternative.

But it is interesting, Jim. I think many people are like you. They said let's try these fake sweeteners and maybe that will help me lose weight.

The World Health Organization did an exhaustive review of study after study after study. They found not only didn't it help people not lose weight but it increased the risk for certain problems.

For example, it increased the risk for cardiovascular disease. They said, gee -- and for diabetes. They said, gee, people should be staying away from those products.

We've looked at some of them here. They go by many different brand names. You can see here what the increased risk would be.

There is one exception, Jim, and this is important. If you already have diabetes, there are reasons where you might want to try these fake sweeteners rather than sugar.

But if you don't have diabetes, the World Health Organization says there's no reason to be using these artificial sweeteners and there might be many reasons to not be using them -- Jim?

SCIUTTO: Folks have said that, right? You hear when people talk about, hey, diet soda is not so good for you, so here is the WHO backing that up.

Elizabeth Cohen, thanks so much


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Well, still to come on CNN NEWS CENTRAL, China has sentenced an elderly U.S. citizen accused of spying to life in prison. We're going to have a report from Hong Kong.

Also ahead, the one-and-done Covid shot is now done in the U.S. Why Johnson & Johnson's vaccine is no longer available here. We'll have that next.



SANCHEZ: We're getting new details on a breaking story we've been tracking out of Virginia this afternoon. An attacker, who's a constituent in Democratic Congressman Gerry Connolly's district, entered his office and caused serious damage.

The congressman tells CNN the assailant entered the office and attacked two aides with a metal bat. One senior aide was hit in the head. The attacker also hit an intern who -- listen to this -- was on her first day on the job. He hit her in the side with that bat. Connelly tells CNN the man was, quote, "filled with out-of-control


Now, the Congressman was not in the building at the time but says that it took police about five minutes to respond. Of course, we'll stay on top of this and bring you the very latest details.


SCIUTTO: Just an alarming story.

Also this. An elderly U.S. citizen was just sentenced to life in prison in China on spying charges. The 78-year-old American initially detained in 2021. Key details of his arrest coming to light.

This comes at a time when relations between Beijing and Washington are at their lowest most tense point in decades.

CNN's Ivan Watson is in Hong Kong with the details.


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The first public acknowledgement that a 78-year-old American citizen named, John Shing- Wan Leung, was in Chinese custody came on Monday.

In a statement from a court in a Chinese city announcing that Mr. Leung had been sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of espionage.

The statement went on to say that Leung is also a permanent resident of Hong Kong. That he had had the equivalent of around $71,000 worth of property, personal property confiscated.

And that he had been detained for more than two years. First picked up by Chinese authorities in April of 2021.

CNN has reached out to the U.S. embassy in Beijing. It says it will not comment further about his case for privacy considerations.

Going on to state that the U.S. Department of State has no greater priority than the safety and security of U.S. citizens overseas.

A top official in the Hong Kong government has confirmed that they knew about Mr. Leung's case since 2021 but would not add any further information about this.

It's important to note that the Chinese government has been expanding its definition of espionage.

Adding an amendment to law just last month that would add for its definition of this, possession of any documents or data, materials or items related to national security and interests, and including cyberattacks against state organs or critical information infrastructure as being considered espionage.


Now, just last week, the U.S. national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, met face-to-face with his Chinese counterpart, Wang YI, for hours of talks in Vienna.

They discussed a whole host of issues. But also Sullivan raised concern about the fate of three Americans believed to be wrongfully detained in China.

There was no mention about this additional American citizen, John Yeung, who's just been sentenced to life in prison.

Ivan Watson, CNN, Hong Kong.


KEILAR: Now to some of the other headlines that we are watching this hour.

Johnson & Johnson's Covid-19 vaccine is no longer available in the U.S. The CDC says all doses expired last week and providers have been told to dispose of any leftovers. The J&J Covid shot was the first to be administered in the U.S. About 19 million people received it. That is about 7 percent of the vaccinated population.

And the most expensive private jewelry collection to appear at auction just fetched $196 million.

The controversial gems from the late Austrian billionaire, Heidi Horton, went under the hammer despite concerns from Jewish groups about the source of her wealth.

Her first husband was a German businessman who bought Jewish businesses sold under duress during the Nazi era.

And a 13-year-old Michigan boy is being praised for saving his little sister from a would-be kidnapper. Officials say he used a slingshot to stop a 17-year-old who invaded the family's backyard where the 8-year- old was playing.

The big brother heard her screams and fired the slingshot from his bedroom window hitting the teen in the head and the chest. He fled the yard and was eventually caught by police.

Which prompted, Boris, a conversation at my house, perhaps we should teach our children to use a slingshot.

SANCHEZ: Always good to be able to defend yourself even with a slingshot, right?

A Florida scientist has broken the record for time spent living underwater. We'll speak to that scientist who hasn't moved out or up to land, next. Stay with us.



KEILAR: He calls himself Dr. Deep Sea. That's what we'll call him, too. Diving explorer and medical researcher, Joseph Dituri, just broke the record for the longest time living under water and under pressure.

Today is day 76 of living in the undersea lodge in Key Largo, Florida. Part of his research is what living 22 feet underwater does to the human body.

Joseph Dituri joins us live now from his underwater lab.

How are you feeling, Doctor? What do you think this does to the human body?

DR. JOSEPH DITURI, DIVING EXPLORER & MEDICAL RESEARCHER: I am so good. Personally, I'm very honored to be on your show. Thank you so much.

So what do I think it does to the human body? We had an old hypothesis that we would get better sleep and increase or decrease our inflammatory markers in our body.

And the first round of blood tests came back and said, yes, that's absolutely true. We decreased every inflammatory marker in my body and my sleep has been so much better.

About 60 percent deep in REM sleep so we're very excited about that.

KEILAR: That's significant.

What are the factors that you think are contributing to that, the things that you don't have under water or that you don't have under water this we experience and maybe stress us out a little bit at surface -- at surface?

DITURI: Right. Well, it's the second consequences that come from being in a hyper, meaning more than, baric, meaning pressure, environments. So I'm in a hyperbaric environment right now.

And this is the exact same depth and pressure at which I treat traumatic brain injuries and PTSD.

So we knew the inflammatory markers would go down because that's the mechanism of hyperbaric medicine.

I'm actually at the pressure of 25 pounds per square inch, which is why I treat TBI and PTSD, so.

KEILAR: We're watching some of your daily routine, but take us through what it is like throughout the day to live under water as you do?

DITURI: Easy. So I usually wake up between 4:00 and 5:00 a.m. Only because I'm an early riser. Always have been. I'm a New Yorker. I've always gotten up early and it's my mom's fault. Blame her.

I take a cup of coffee and science does not happen without coffee. And we're doing EKGs, EEGs, blood samples, urine, saliva and all of that stuff on a daily basis.

And I'm trying to find out what happens in an extreme environment, which is very much akin to space travel.

So if we'll be stuck in that tube for 200 days to get to Mars, this is just a preliminary experiment to figure out what happens when you're stuck in a tube under water for a hundred days. And half the time we need a couple of more times on this, so.

KEILAR: What other reasons? If this could be a test case for what it is to travel to Mars, what are the other reasons that you need this research and this experience?

DITURI: Oh, the one thing that was a totally intended consequence is the stem outreach to kids. We are so excited about that.

We've reached over 2,500 kids, person to person over Zoom calls, with people in landlocked states, and kids out there that are thinking about careers in science, technology, engineering and math.


And we're talking to them about preserving, protecting and rejuvenating the Marine environment.

And 60 percent to 70 percent of the oxygen comes from the world's oceans and we need to have those kids start taking better care than we did, unfortunately, better care for the ocean so it can give the life- sustaining oxygen that we absolutely need.

Plus, science is cool. Maybe I'm not quite so cool, but science can be very cool and you can do it in a fun environment like in the water.

KEILAR: Science is cool. And 60 percent REM sleep is cool, too. I'll tell you that.

Dr. Dituri, it is wonderful to have you from your undersea lab in Key Largo, Florida. Thank you for joining us.

DITURI: Absolutely a pleasure. Thank you for having me.

KEILAR: Thank you, sir.


SCIUTTO: I don't think that's ever happened before. An underwater interview. My colleague, Brianna, did it.

Well, another story we're following this hour, a Democratic Congressman says that members of his staff were injured by a man who entered the office wielding a baseball bat. New details coming up.