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Infrastructure Bill Negotiations; New Video of January 6 Bomb Suspect Revealed; COVID Cases in Children Rising. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired September 08, 2021 - 15:00   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Top of the hour. I'm Alisyn Camerota.

Right now, the president is being briefed on COVID cases just one day ahead of his major speech that the White House says will outline a plan for a way out of the pandemic. It's a vision that administration officials acknowledge has been complicated by the Delta variant.

At this point, more than half the country is fully vaccinated, but cases are still surging, mostly among the unvaccinated. Hospitals are still overwhelmed, mostly with unvaccinated patients. And masks are still a fight in many places.

Also, we have some breaking news out of Florida, one of the epicenters of the pandemic. A judge has just ruled against Governor Ron DeSantis and will allow public schools to mandate masks without suffering the financial penalty that Governor DeSantis has been trying to impose.

So far, 13 Florida districts require masks. That case is now heading to an appeals court.

So, as the mask battle rages, more children than ever before are being infected.

CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is here with the details.

What do we know about this, Elizabeth?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, these numbers are really disturbing.

Throughout this pandemic, we have said, well, children, they don't seem to be affected as much. That is still true. But these numbers certainly do give pause. What it shows is that one in four infected Americans for the week of August 26 was a child. One in four cases was among children.

Let's take a look at those numbers more closely. So what it shows is that, the week of August 26, there were more than 250,000 new cases among children. That's roughly 18 and younger. That's a 23 percent increase in just one week, those numbers down 23 percent in one week. It's the highest weekly -- it's the highest weekly increase ever.

Now, Alisyn, I can hear people already saying, well, it doesn't really matter if a child gets COVID. Nearly all the time, they recover just fine. Kids get viruses. They recover. That is true. I mean, less than 2 percent of children end up in the hospital.

But here's the problem. As you get more and more infections, that less than 2 percent really starts to grow. You're playing Russian roulette. You have no idea if this is going to be your child who ends up being the one who ends up in the hospital or, God forbid, ends up dying. It's very unpredictable.

Let's take a look at what hospitalization numbers show for children. This is more data from the American Academy of Pediatrics. That week of August 26, it found more than 800 new hospitalizations in just 24 states. That's only in half the country. That's all they could count. That's a 12 percent increase in one week, so more than 800 new hospitalizations -- more than 800 children were put in the hospital in 24 states.

That's the reason we want to keep these COVID numbers down. Also, any parent knows children are great at spreading germs. We do not want children, even though they will likely be fine, we don't want them getting their grandparents or other vulnerable adults ill -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Absolutely, Elizabeth.

I mean, I remember, for so long, we took comfort in that kids were not being hospitalized and getting sick enough to be hospitalized. And now that has changed with the Delta variant.


Now, tell us also about how the CDC just came out with some new data about who among the vaccinated is being hospitalized for COVID.

COHEN: Yes, this is very interesting, because we have been hearing, oh, people are getting fully vaccinated and still ending up in the hospital.

That's true. I want to put this in context. This is CDC data of more than 4,000 people in 13 states. So this is a very sort of robust group of data. When you take a look at it, first of all, this has to be said. We need to say this strongly. People who were unvaccinated were 17 times more likely to end up in the hospital.

So I'm going to tell you about people who were fully vaccinated who got hospitalized, but they're in the minority. So fully vaccinated people who did end up, the relatively small number that did end up being hospitalized, they tended to be older. They tended to be around 73 years of age. They tended to have several underlying conditions, like high blood pressure or obesity.

They also tended to be residents of long-term care centers. So this isn't young, healthy people ending up in the hospital after being fully vaccinated. The folks who were fully vaccinated ended up in the hospital were for the most part older and to some extent pretty frail -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, Elizabeth Cohen, thank you for all of that information.

So, tomorrow, President Biden is expected to unveil his new six-point plan to get the Delta variant under control and steer the nation somehow out of the pandemic

CNN's Kaitlan Collins is at the White House.

Kaitlan, what do we know about this six-pronged plan?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, somehow is a good word there, Alisyn, because this is, of course, a struggle that the administration has dealt with since day one of President Biden taking office.

And they were certainly not in the place where they had hoped to be or where a lot of people thought that we would be by the time we hit September. But, of course, now there is a new urgency facing them, as the Delta variant has wildly spread throughout the U.S., the number of vaccinations has stalled.

And you are seeing kids go back to school, and a lot of school and office -- return-to-the-office plans being appended by the Delta variant. And so that is something that President Biden plans to address tomorrow when he does speak on this.

We should note that, right now, he is meeting with his coronavirus team in the Oval Office behind closed doors to get up to speed on what exactly this plan that his team has put together is going to look like, and also the concern about other variants and whether or not they could pop up.

That is something that the CDC, we know, has been watching. And so, when it comes to this plan tomorrow, the White House is saying it is going to be a six-pronged approach to containing the Delta variant, but also increasing vaccinations.

And so, Alisyn, really what the main focus of this is going to be is the vaccine mandates that you have seen be put in place across private companies, but also across the federal government, schools as well. Federal employees, as we noted, there have already been required to get corona -- or get vaccines -- schools as well.

And then mandates and testing is going to be a big aspect of this, because, of course, you have seen testing was such a broadly, widely used thing in the beginning before there were vaccines. It has not been as much so since vaccines have been introduced.

And so this is something that the White House is trying to make a big part of their plan tomorrow. We should note that no one should be expecting the president to come out tomorrow and say there are going to be a broad swathe of vaccine mandates coming down from the federal government, because we talked to Jen Psaki on Air Force One yesterday on the way to New York and New Jersey.

They said their understanding is still that that is not something that President Biden can order from the federal government. There are limitations to what they can do, but they are going to try to find the ways where they don't have limitations and try to encourage vaccinations, try to increase testing, and also try to focus on what is happening in schools, given right now children under 12 can still not get the coronavirus vaccine.

CAMEROTA: OK, Kaitlan Collins, thank you very much for that preview.

All right, let's turn now to Dr. Patricia Manning-Courtney, chief of staff at Cincinnati Children's Hospital.

Doctor, thanks so much for taking time to talk to us.

On Tuesday, Ohio reported nearly 300 patients under the age of 18, so, in other words, minors, in the ICU for COVID. So describe what you're seeing.

DR. PATRICIA MANNING-COURTNEY, CINCINNATI CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL: Well, we're seeing exactly what you just heard from your other reporters.

We're seeing a dramatic increase in the number of children that are testing positive for COVID. We had over 800 children in Cincinnati alone test positive for COVID in the past week. We're seeing increasing numbers of children hospitalized.

And we're, frankly, seeing significant stress and strain across our health care system for children, whether that's our emergency rooms, our urgent cares, our primary care practices, our inpatient settings, our testing capacity. Everything is really feeling the stress and strain of increasing numbers of children who are getting sick.

CAMEROTA: As I have been talking about with some of our guests, for so long, for the past year-and-a-half, we had taken comfort in, well, at least kids don't get sick.

This is bad. This is horrible. We all know people who have died and who have gotten gravely ill, but at least it's sparing kids.


And you say now that entire equation has changed. When you say that kids are in the ICU, are kids on ventilators? I mean, how sick are kids right now?

MANNING-COURTNEY: So, this time last year, I took great comfort in being able to tell families that I wasn't as worried about their children, that most children didn't get sick and children weathered this really well.

And that has completely changed. We have a number of patients across Ohio in our ICUs. A number of them are on ventilators. We have had patients here on ventilators, on the highest support that is available to children and to patients, whether that's ventilators or even ECMO. And that's a very different place than we were this time last year.

CAMEROTA: I also read that you said that there is no way to predict which child will get very ill.

Really? I mean, in other words, healthy kids are getting as sick as kids with preexisting conditions or compromised kids?

MANNING-COURTNEY: Certainly, the children with preexisting conditions or other complex conditions are at greater risk. And we care deeply for them, children with cancer, children with organ transplants or complex congenital disorders.

But similar to adults, we have children who are healthy, who have no other conditions who are getting very ill, whether that's because of COVID pneumonia, or what we have heard about, MIS-C. Their immune systems reacting very strongly to COVID the way that some adults do.

And so it's true. We can't -- I can't promise any family that their child wouldn't get very ill if they happen to get COVID.

CAMEROTA: The kids in your ICU, are they unvaccinated teenagers? I mean, 12 and up can get vaccinated. Are these unvaccinated kids?

MANNING-COURTNEY: So, without going into specifics, I can say, across Ohio, that children that we're seeing hospitalized are children who either can't be vaccinated because they're under age 12, or they are not vaccinated, despite being eligible for vaccination, again, similar to adults, that the large majority of children -- this is why children are at such risk and why it's such a scary time for them, because so many of them can't be vaccinated.

And the vaccination uptake rates in 12-to-18-year-olds is not great right now.

CAMEROTA: And what do you think is going to happen, now that schools across the country are beginning in earnest really this week? I mean, I know many districts had already started, but now it's back in full force.

What is going to happen in your hospital?

MANNING-COURTNEY: We're bracing. We're really bracing for the worst.

We are bracing for increasing volumes of children. We're already seeing these volumes in our emergency rooms and urgent cares, in our primary care practices. We are very concerned that the numbers of children needing hospitalization will go up.

I mean, even during this broadcast, I'm getting messages about children that need to be hospitalized and transferred to our hospital. So we're really concerned. We really wish we didn't have to be. But it's a concerning and frightening time period.

CAMEROTA: We were just talking to Kaitlan Collins about what President Biden is going to say tomorrow. He's going to give an address on all of this.

Is there anything that he can say that you think would turn this around or would help you all?

MANNING-COURTNEY: So, the things that we're saying to our patients and families is, to reiterate what you have said already, if you can get vaccinated, get vaccinated.

If you have a child in your life, your vaccination creates a shield of protection for them. And we depend on you for them. If you are going to school, if you work in a school, if you're a student in school, wear a mask, whether your school mandates it or not. That is a huge an easy form of protection to help the children's hospitals and the adult hospitals around you manage the huge volumes that they're seeing and be able to take care of everyone.

I mean, this affects the care of everyone. So we would just continue to emphasize those messages and urge people to do what they can and to please help us.

CAMEROTA: That's such a great perspective. Do it for the doctors and nurses in your community. Even if you think that wearing a mask, you don't need to, if you think that, or you think it's a huge inconvenience to yourself, do it for the doctors and nurses in your community who are overwhelmed.

Dr. Patricia Manning-Courtney, we really appreciate you coming in, taking the time to tell us all of this.


CAMEROTA: We have some breaking news.

The FBI has released new video of the suspect who planted pipe bombs the night before the attack on the Capitol.

Plus, a disturbing and stunning claim from Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott. He attempts to defend his state's controversial strict new abortion law, and he makes some claims about rape and rapists that we will play for you.



CAMEROTA: We have some breaking news out of Washington.

The FBI has just released new video of the suspect who planted multiple bombs ahead of the January 6 riots.

CNN's Jessica Schneider joins us now.

What do we know, Jessica?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, this is significant because this is the first time that the FBI is releasing new details and new video since March.

But it's also notable, considering that it's been eight months since the Capitol riot and eight months since this bomb suspect placed two pipe bombs, one near the DNC, one near the RNC right near the Capitol, and still it seems that the FBI does not have any solid leads on a suspect.

So what is new today? Well, first of all, the FBI has released this new video. It shows what they're calling a more frontal view of this suspect. It shows him near the DNC, where one of those pipe bombs was placed.


And the FBI is also releasing new video that they have put together, pieced together based on surveillance video that they have acquired over the past eight months, showing the movements and the map of this -- where the suspect moved for just about 45 minutes between 7:30 and 8:30 the night before January 6, so January 5.

The FBI is also giving a little bit of more details here that they have gleaned from interviews with people in that area and tips that have come out over the past eight months. So what they're saying is that they believe the suspect here was operating in the vicinity of Folger Park.

Folger Park is just east of where the DNC and RNC and also the Capitol Hill Club, which was notable in some of the video they have already released. And then what they gleaned from these interviews with people who live in that area, because, remember, this is a residential area -- a lot of people live on Capitol Hill, and presumably have given some of their surveillance footage to the FBI.

The assistant director in charge, Steve D'Antuono of the Washington field office here, he says they have conducted more than 800 interviews. And what they have gleaned from those interviews is that it's likely the suspect is not from around this area.

So, as we're seeing, the FBI is having an extremely difficult time pinpointing who this is, in part because now we have learned it doesn't look like the suspect is from the Washington, D.C., area. And in this video that they have released over the past eight months, most recently today, but you can see that the suspect has a hoodie, also has a face mask.

They previously released some close-up pictures of his Nike shoes, hoping that it will lead to some sort of clues to pinpoint who the suspect is, but the FBI having a very difficult time here getting to this suspect.

I mean, these were two pipe bombs that FBI officials have said were viable. They had to be detonated by robots. They were placed one night before January 6. We have learned that they were eight-inch galvanized pipes. They also had kitchen timers and homemade black powder.

So it's remarkable that these didn't detonate, that these didn't cause any damage and that they were found before they went off. They were found on January 6, a day later after that they were placed.

So, Alisyn, we're getting more details from the FBI here, but it's still not much. There's probably consternation and disappointment at the FBI that it has been eight months and a suspect still has not been pinpointed. They're releasing more video here, in hopes that someone will again recognize something new that they might not have back in March when they last released a video and might give tips to the FBI.

The FBI noting that they have collected more than 23,000 video files here and also assessed more than 300 tips. So people are talking, but so far not leading to who the suspect is -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: I mean, you're so right that someone is going to have to recognize the suspect's clothing, or his gait, because you can't see his face.


CAMEROTA: Or the suspect is going to have to start talking some -- have to start spilling the beans at probably a bar some night. And that could be a break in the case.


SCHNEIDER: Presumably, they have stayed quiet for eight months possibly. It's been a long time since those pipe bombs were placed, and still no real leads on exactly who the suspect is, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Yes, we can imagine how frustrating that is for the FBI.

Jessica Schneider, thank you for that breaking news.

So, today, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says it's full speed ahead on the Democrats' massive $3.5 trillion budget bill. But Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia is pumping the brakes, reportedly telling colleagues that, if the president wants to pass a plan through the Senate, he should be prepared to lower the price tag by a lot.

CNN's Manu Raju is on Capitol Hill.

Manu, do we know what number Senator Manchin wants?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he's floated anywhere from $1 trillion to $1.5 trillion. That's what he's discussed with his colleagues.

But that is a fraction of what liberals, particularly in the House, including many in the Senate, say is needed. Of course, 3.5 trillion is the most that they can spend. But the price tag is just one of the many differences that still exist within the Democratic Caucus, both in the House and the Senate, over a wide range of issues, whether it's health care, whether it's about climate change, what about taxes, how to pay for this plan.

Those issues still have not been resolved. And there is a key deadline. The Democratic leaders have set next week, September 15, as when they want to get these disagreements resolved, and actually have a proposal presented and which actually could be voted on later in the full House and then come over to the Senate.

But those disagreements remain. And one basic disagreement, Alisyn, is when Joe Manchin said, there should be a -- quote -- "strategic pause" in the consideration of this larger effort. Today, Chuck Schumer, the Senate majority leader, said there will not be a strategic pause. He said they're moving full steam ahead. Yesterday, Nancy Pelosi, who is the House speaker, said that she disagrees with what Joe Manchin is saying here.


So, there's a difference about the policy, the price tag, the time frame. And there's no margin for error here, because 50 Democrats are needed to get it through the Senate. They all have to stay united. All Republicans are going to oppose it.

And riding along all this too, Alisyn, that $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan that passed the Senate last month. That needs to pass by August -- September 27 in order to get both out of that chamber out of the House at that point. Uncertain whether that will happen -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, Manu Raju, thank you for your latest reporting.

So, Republican Governor Greg Abbott has a stunning response to those who are challenging his state's radical new abortion law. We will tell you what he said next.