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Biden to Visit Storm-Ravaged New York and New Jersey; Recovery Efforts Underway in New Orleans; Hundreds of Medical Journals Call for Climate Action; 7-Day Average of New Cases Up 300 Percent Since Last Labor Day; Military Vows to Set Up Transitional Government in Guinea; Police Preparing for Possible Violence at Upcoming Rally. Aired 4- 4:30a ET

Aired September 07, 2021 - 04:00   ET



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church. Just ahead on CNN NEWSROOM --


TOM MURPHY, MAMARONECK, NEW YORK MAYOR: We have homes that had 12 people of water. We have people that are devastated. We have hundreds of people who are out of their home.


CHURCH: President Joe Biden will head to the storm ravaged Northeast as residents try to get back on their feet after a climate disaster.

The Taliban say they are days away from announcing a new government, but resistance forces are calling for a national uprising.

And California's recall campaign enters the final days with Gavin Newsom's political future on the ballot.

Good to have you with us.

Well, President Joe Biden is visiting New York and New Jersey today to get a firsthand look at the damage and recovery efforts in the wake of Ida's record rainfall and flooding. He has already approved federal aid for people severely affected by the storm in both states. The Westchester County area of suburban New York saw heavy flooding in last week's storm and dozens of people had to be rescued. The mayor says his community is in desperate need of federal funds to rebuild.


MURPHY: We're going to need possibly help in the future, you know, strengthening our infrastructure to withstand these storms. We've had a lot of infrastructure of the community, the fire department and mental health facilities that we have in this community that were severely damaged, so we're going to need help from the federal government rebuilding those. We have seawalls that need to be raised. We have, you know, we have sewers that were built 100 years ago. We're an old suburb.


CHURCH: In New York City, Democratic nominee for mayor, Eric Adams, went a step further, he said much more needs to be done to address climate change in the wake of storms like Ida.


ERIC ADAMS, DEMOCRATIC NEW YORK MAYORAL NOMINEE: Let's be clear, we screwed up our planet. And this is the byproduct of that screwup. And we have to be honest about how do we move our country and our cities in the next direction. And it's not going to be done by the next storm. If 300 years or 100 years ago we were receiving storms of this magnitude, we would have built differently. Now we're here and now it is time to visit all of these countries across the globe that made the adjustments, we must do the same.


CHURCH: We turn now to Louisiana where officials say 14,000 people in one parish are without homes after hurricane Ida damaged or destroyed 75 percent of the structures there. And nearly 500,000 customers across Louisiana are still without electricity and face another day of scorching temperatures. In Jefferson Parish, a curfew for residents remains in effect from 6 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. until Wednesday. There's still a lot of danger posed by storm debris and downed power lines. The Parish president made the announcement on Sunday.


CYNTHIA LEE SHENG, JEFFERSON PARISH PRESIDENT: Some of the hardest things I've had to deal with is looking people in the face who just have lost everything, and just there is a quiet desperation about them. I mean, it's almost like there's no words. You can't even console them by saying, well, at least you are physically healthy. It's almost like I feel guilty even saying that and I have no words for these people. So, getting out and meeting people that just have lost everything but we're strong people, we will rebuild, but it's just going to take some time and building the systems back together.


CHURCH: Meantime we are learning New Orleans officials have discovered five bodies inside senior apartment complexes during post-hurricane Ida wellness checks. The cause of their deaths is under investigation. The buildings they were living in were in deplorable condition. And while officials investigate that tragedy, CNN's Martin Savidge has more on how the city is trying to pick up the pieces in the aftermath of the storm.



MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Things are looking a lot brighter in New Orleans tonight. In fact, Entergy the power company says they have about 70 percent of the power restored to the city which means that they are on course to get just about all the city fired up again come Wednesday.

And it might even look like a normal night unless you look a little closer here at the median. Normally you'd have those street cars passing by. It is absolutely filled with all those first responder trucks, mainly power companies, tree cutting companies, all those people that are needed to get a major American city getting it back online. In fact, there are said to be about 26,000 power line workers that have come from some 40 states to help with the project here.

But as much as they've made success in New Orleans, they're still got a long way to go in Louisiana. About half a million customers are still said to be without electricity and they actually could be the more difficult and long-term process. Because many of them are in the more distant and more rural Parishes where the population centers aren't as large and where getting at the power lines and the damaged equipment is much more difficult.

Meanwhile there is also concern about bad weather that could be moving in and that will be a problem because many of the storm drains and the drainage areas are clogged with debris from the hurricane. City officials do worry about the potential for flash flooding and about more damage to people's homes and businesses.

Martin Savidge, CNN, New Orleans.


CHURCH: Meanwhile out West, California's battle against wildfires rages on. Firefighters in the northern part of the state made significant progress over the weekend against the Caldor fire which has burned at least 87,000 hectares. But as residents there began to breathe a sigh of relief, through new fires ignited in the state Sunday. Firefighters are also bracing for a heatwave forecast for this week. Tyler Mauldin joins us now with more on all of this. Tyler, a heatwave, this is not going to help with this dreadful situation with fires.

Tyler Mauldin, CNN Meteorologist: And you add in a record drought and that spells more in the way of a fire risk out West, and that's on top of what we've already dealt with and continue to deal with. At the moment we have 81 large active wildfires spanning 11 states. Thus far we've seen more 2.8 million acres burned because of these fires. And of course, we're going to continue to see that as we go through time because of the type of situation, the type of environment that we're currently dealing with out there.

Look at this, Dixie fire has scorched more than 914,000 acres and it's only 58 percent contained. So, it could easily jump into the number one spot for the largest wildfire that we've seen in California history and it could do that really soon.

Because of those 81 wildfires out West, we have terrible air quality in some areas. Look at Wyoming, the entire state is under an air quality alert. We mentioned the record heat or the above average extreme heat, some of us could break records though. And look at California, look at Las Vegas, Nevada, going into portions of Arizona, we have excessive heat watches. And warnings and heat advisories up in this area too. It's going to get dangerously hot out there.

And speaking of dangerous heat, well down in southeast Louisiana, we have almost half a million people still without power, four Parishes in southeast Louisiana have 95 percent of the customers still without power. Now, this area has been dealing with not just some hot temperatures, but also extremely hot heat indices. And that's going to continue for yet another day. At the moment we don't have a heat advisory in effect, that could change though.

We got all this Gulf moisture streaming in and with all of that Gulf moisture streaming in, it's going to make those temperatures feel even hotter. Oh, and by the way, you add in a little frontal boundary right there. We could definitely see some scattered thunderstorms push over areas that are still flooded. We still have standing water in some areas of southeast Louisiana. So, this will just add insult to injury.

Now you may have heard us talk about a little disturbance, Rosemary, that could become our next named storm, we're still watching it. If it were to develop, it would develop over the state of Florida or in the western Atlantic.

CHURCH: Unbelievable. Thank you so much, Tyler Mauldin bringing us the very latest there on the forecast, appreciate it.

Well, hundreds of medical journals have published a united call for action on climate change. The editorial points to established links between the climate crisis and a wide range of adverse health effects over the past 20 years.

It warns: The science is unequivocal, a global increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial average and continued loss of biodiversity risk catastrophic harm to health that will be impossible to reverse.


The editorial says: Current climate action is insufficient and that despite the world's necessary preoccupation with COVID-19, we cannot wait for the pandemic to pass to rapidly reduce emissions.

Earlier I spoke with the British Medical Journal's Dr. Fiona Godlee. Her publication ran the editorial and she told me if the world doesn't take action now, extreme and deadly weather events like we saw in the Northeastern U.S. will only happen more often.


DR. FIONA GODLEE, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, BRITISH MEDICAL JOURNAL: We've got the problem of extreme heat which in some parts of the world is making, you know, life almost un-survivable. You can't work in those kind of temperatures. And people are dying in greater numb number. And then you have the broader issues that climate change, climate emergencies is bringing which are things like the floods in New York, the floods in Germany, the fires in Western North America, in Australia, in Greece. And these are events that are increasing in scale and in frequency.


CHURCH: Dr. Godlee also said many of the current solutions are not enough. Instead, she said governments need to think about more radical changes to cities, transportation, health systems and other elements of daily life.

Well, a league leak at a Ford assembly plant near Detroit caused 1,400 gallons of gas to spill into the city's sewers. Officials are not sure how far the gasoline has traveled in the system. Nine homes, a school and a business were evacuated last week as a result. Teams have gone door to door recommending people in 465 homes to voluntarily evacuate because of potentially hazardous fumes. But some residents say they don't have enough information to decide whether to leave their homes.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have no idea what the levels are, how far it spread. Nobody is talking. You see people running around with meters and dropping them in the storm drains to get the readings but they are not posting them and we have no -- nothing to base our decision whether we're going to evacuate or not.


CHURCH: Texas Governor Greg Abbott is set to sign a controversial new election bill into law today. It restricts early voting, establishes new I.D. requirements for mail-in voting and allows for increasing partisan poll watchers. Democrats call it a blatant attempt to suppress the minority vote. Republicans claim the new restrictions will make it easier to vote and harder to cheat.

Well, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland is pledging to protect women's clinics in Texas that may do under attack. It's part of a Justice Department effort to counter the state's controversial new ban on abortions up to six weeks pregnancy. Garland plans to use the FACE Act, which stands for freedom of access to clinic entrances. It prohibits the use of force, intimidation and interference outside clinics. Last week the U.S. Supreme Court refused to block the Texas abortion ban from going into effect.

A man in Texas died from COVID-19 while his family fought to have his hospital administer the controversial drug ivermectin. According to our affiliate KTRK, Pete Lopez had been in hospital for nearly a month fighting the virus and was eventually put on a ventilator. His family won a court appeal to have the hospital give ivermectin to Lopez but the family claims doctors still refused to do so. The hospital says it can't comment on pending litigation. Ivermectin has been approved by the FDA to treat some parasitic diseases but not COVID-19.

The United States marked the unofficial end of summer over the weekend, but the country's COVID crisis is far from over. Just take a look at these numbers. The U.S. is now averaging nearly 164,000 new cases each day. That is a 300 percent increase compared to last year's Labor Day. Hospitalizations and deaths are also up compared to a year ago. On average more than 1,500 people are dying from COVID every day in the U.S. and surging hospitalizations are straining the nation's health care system. Experts say American's rush to return to normalcy is partly to blame.


DR. PAUL OFFIT, MEMBER, FDA VACCINES ADVISORY COMMITTEE: Our behavior is not as careful this year as we were last year. When you think about it, remember the sort of the biker's rally in Sturgis, South Dakota last year was all the news.


Now you know, we have full packed stadiums and, you know, we have birthday parties and weddings and we're going back to life as normal and so we're not as careful.

If you're going to have a real effect on this pandemic, you're going have to figure out a way to vaccinate the 60 million, 70, 80 million people who are unvaccinated. I mean, you are -- you have a 25-to-30- point greater risk of being hospitalized or dying if you're unvaccinated and vaccinated. It's the unvaccinated that is spreading the virus in this country. It's infecting others. And that should what we take on and we should talk about it every minute of every hour of every day because we'll never get on top of this pandemic until we do that.


CHURCH: And despite that, only 53 percent of Americans have been fully vaccinated. That's well short of the minimum threshold for herd immunity.

Meanwhile extra financial benefits because of the pandemic have come to an end for about 11 million jobless Americans. More than 8 million people are now left with no unemployment compensation at all. Another 2.7 million are losing the weekly $300 federal supplement but will still receive state payments. And another 2.7 million were already cut off from some or all of their benefits when about two dozen states ended their programs in June and July.

Well, Cuba says that it will reopen its borders starting in November. The country had suspended all international travel since April of last year because of the pandemic. But now believes that its vaccination rate is high enough to take the chance. Cuba's tourism ministry says travelers won't need to present a negative COVID test, only proof of vaccination. Cuba is currently seeing its highest number of new daily cases and COVID deaths since the pandemic began.

Well, coming up, the Taliban say an announcement could be coming soon on the formation of a new government. We'll have the latest just ahead. And hundreds of rioters are facing charges after the January 6

insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Now police are gearing up for the rally in support of those who are still jailed.



CHURCH: Welcome back everyone. Well, Guinea's coup leaders are promising to establish a transitional government. They met with senior government officials Monday after ousting President Alpha Conde. The military offered no details on the makeup of the government or when democracy might return. Sunday's coup was widely condemned by the international community. It is the third takeover in western and central Africa in the past five months raising concerns of a slide to military rule and a move away from democracy.

Brazil's president has introduced new regulations by decree targeting social media. It's aimed at stopping what's described as the arbitrary removal of accounts and content. Critics say it would make combatting misinformation almost impossible. The decree comes on the eve of Brazil's Independence Day and a series of planned rallies both for and against the president. Mr. Bolsonaro is expected to lead demonstrations against the country's voting system in front of the Supreme Court in the coming hours.

Washington, D.C. police are bracing for potential violence at the U.S. Capitol on September 18, that's when a right-wing rally will be held in support of jailed rioters who face charges for the January 6 insurrection. And as CNN's Jessica Schneider reports, security is ramping up.


MATT BRAYNARD, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, LOOK AHEAD AMERICA: We're going back to the Capitol, right where it started on September 18th.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Former Trump campaign operative Matt Braynard is blasting out plans to get hundreds to the U.S. Capitol next Saturday, to support the 600 plus rioters who are now facing federal charges. Braynard calls them political prisoners who have been wrongfully prosecuted even though many of them were caught on tape January 6th.

BRAYNARD: We're going to push back against the phony narrative that there was an insurrection.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Braynard's plans are prompting security concerns on Capitol Hill, especially after succession of violent incidents post-January 6. In April a car slam into a police barricade killing one officer and injuring another. In mid-August, a man claiming to have a bomb set off a five-hour standoff with police before surrendering. No bomb was found.

CNN has learned D.C. Police will be fully activated on September 18th days off cancelled for officers and civil disturbance units will be on standby. The department is monitoring online chatter and travel bookings to gauge the possible crowds. CNN HAS learned Capitol police have already requested support from neighboring police departments in Maryland and Virginia to be fully prepared even if the crowds don't materialize.

CHIEF TOM MANGER, U.S. CAPITOL POLICE: We don't know what to anticipate and it could be if 5,000 people show up instead of 500, we need to be prepared for that and so, we're going to -- we're going to make sure we have enough folks in place to handle the demonstration.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And we'll not accept political persecution ,,,

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Braynard supporters have staged small rallies around the country, including in Washington in recent months. Prominent Republicans have also echoed the false narrative.

REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R-TX): Are we housing political prisoners? We need to know the answers.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Braynard insists September 18th will be peaceful and says he wants members of extremist groups to stay away.

BRAYNARD: If you're a member of another organization, this isn't the day to wear that clothing. What we're looking for is pure patriotism.

SCHNEIDER: There is question and concern tonight about whether members of the Oath Keepers or Proud Boys could show up at this September 18 rally. One extremism expert I talked with said there is some doubt that this rally will attract any big numbers. But despite that there is serious talk of rebuilding that temporary fencing that surrounded the Capitol complex for months after January 6 putting it back up potentially as a precaution, that's according to law enforcement sources.

Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington.


CHURCH: And still to come --



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These are my children, not political pawns. You do not have the right to make medical choices for my children.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If we are indeed created in God's image, we would not be wearing masks for 18 months. Have you seen pictures of Jesus or whomever is your God wearing a mask?


CHURCH: Pandemic politics are dividing some parents as the summer ends and schools reopen. How the classroom is becoming another battle for the mas wars. That's next. But first, America's top diplomat travels to Qatar to sit down with senior officials about the situation in Afghanistan. The details of that meeting in a live report from Doha, next.


CHURCH: Some of it started with high hopes due to the COVID vaccines is ending with a surge in COVID cases and deaths. The U.S. is seeing a rise in new infections over the past few months and you can see from this graph the dramatic surge in hospitalizations now compared to Memorial Day.

As more students around the country return to school this week, we could see those case counts rise and it's likely to be made worse by patchwork safety measures. CNN Sunlen Serfaty reports on the pandemic politics.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our children, our choice.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our children can't be vaccinated. Mask up.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You hit me in my mouth. You don't hit me in the mouth.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't spit on you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You did so, you had your mask on --


SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These ugly scenes are happening outside schools and in school board meetings all over the country.