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Coronavirus Cases, Hospitalizations, and Deaths Begin Falling in U.S.; FDA and CDC to Meet Concerning Possible Approval of COVID-19 Vaccinations for Children Aged Five to 11 Years Old; Former Trump White House Deputy Chief of Staff Dan Scavino Served with Subpoena by Congressional Committee Investigating January 6th Insurrection; Authorities Still Searching for Brian Laundrie, Missing Fiance of Gabby Petito; South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem Faces Allegations of Nepotism. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired October 09, 2021 - 10:00   ET




BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Thanks so much for joining us this Saturday, October 9th. I'm Boris Sanchez.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. I'm Laura Jarrett. You are in the CNN Newsroom.

And we begin here this hour with good news. Finally, a reason for hope. The U.S. is beginning to head in the right direction when it comes to COVID. Take a look at this -- hospitalizations, cases, deaths are continuing to fall nationwide, and new COVID infections are now below 100,000 cases a day. It's still too many, but it's the first time in two months, Boris.

SANCHEZ: Yes, hospitals though in states like Alaska and Pennsylvania are still seeing a surge in patients sick with COVID-19. Community transmission remaining high in certain areas. Let's get out to CNN's Polo Sandoval who has more on this. Polo, what's the latest when it comes to COVID.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Green on that map, too, Laura and Boris, that's certainly something officials want to see in terms of when it comes to COVID transmission. Now, there is no question there that the situation is certainly improving throughout much the country, but not all. You mentioned Pennsylvania, you mentioned Alaska, but also Utah experiencing still a surge in COVID patients in their hospitals.


SANDOVAL: The nation's COVID-19 hospitalization rate is at its lowest point in nearly two months. Add to that, the average number of new COVID cases each day which fell below 100,000 this week for the first time since August, it's clear to many health experts that most of the nation is on the right path with over 65 percent of eligible Americans to receive COVID-19 shots being fully vaccinated. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are some communities that are really well

vaccinated and really well protected, and then there are pockets of places that have very little protection. And the virus isn't stupid. It's going to go there.

SANDOVAL: That is what concerns both the current White House and the last. Admiral Brett Giroir served as COVID testing czar under the Trump administration. He agrees that the nation is at a promising point, but the war against COVID is far from over.

ADM. BRETT GIROIR, FORMER COVID-19 TESTING COORDINATOR: This was associated with an increase in vaccination rate, more testing, and about doubling of the mask wearing. So the American people did the right things. But we are not out of the woods yet. As the surgeon general says, there are a lot of Americans who do not have natural immunity and who have not been vaccinated. They are still susceptible.

SANDOVAL: While most of the lower 48 is turning a corner, Alaska remains on high COVID alert. This week, state officials reported a COVID case count five times greater than the national average. According to the health department, 20 of the state's medical facilities implemented crisis standards of care. That's the last resort when medical personnel have to ration care. Pfizer's race to secure emergency use authorization for its vaccine continues for children five to 11 as will its trials according to the company. Vaccine advisers at the CDC will meet in the next couple of weeks to discuss Moderna and J&J boosters, and early in November to discuss pediatric COVID vaccination. Those reduces the likelihood that U.S. children 11 and under will begin receiving shots before Halloween.


SANDOVAL: So that means those parents of children five to 11 are still going to have to wait for that day when those vaccinations will become available. There is still hope that will happen obviously very soon. In terms of the mass debate, hard to believe, too, that is still ongoing, and in some instances even turning violent. Here in New York City, for example, at the Apple store, there is some fresh video of the scene, the aftermath of the stabbing of the 37-year-old security guard at the Apple store. We do know that he sustained only nonlife- threatening injuries. But apparently after some kind of a mask confrontation, that's when that 37-year-old was stabbed. Investigators not saying much more there. But again, this is just reminding that this remains a point of contention throughout much of the country. Guys?

SANCHEZ: And sadly, one that, as we have often seen, turns violent. Polo Sandoval, thank you so much for the update.

Let's get some more expertise on COVID now with CNN medical analyst and emergency physician Dr. Leana Wen. Good morning, Dr. Wen, always great to see you. You have a new op-ed in "The Washington Post" and you detail three things that need to happen for us to put the pandemic behind us. I want to show our viewers, shots for younger kids, vaccines for younger kids was the first thing on your list. And as Polo noted, we could get FDA approval for vaccines for kids five to 11 potentially next month. What advice do you give parents that are weighing that decision?

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Good morning, Boris. I think it is very good news that we do have the possibility of vaccines for this younger age group five to 11 very soon. Although, I actually wish the CDC were meeting earlier, because the FDA is actually meeting Tuesday, October 26th, to weigh this decision.


The CDC meeting is meeting a full week later. I wish they were meeting that week because it really is important for us to get the parents of younger kids the option to get their kids vaccinated. I'd say right now we are in a waiting game. We haven't seen the data from Pfizer. I would want for the FDA and CDC, our top regulatory authorities, to weigh those data. We, as parents and also as scientists and physicians want to see those data as well. And for parents who have questions, I would also talk to a pediatrician. We trust our pediatricians with every aspect of our children's health. And they are also experts when it comes to childhood immunizations. And so parents who have questions should definitely refer to their pediatrician for the time being.

SANCHEZ: And Dr. Wen, the second item on that list, readily available rapid test. The White House just announcing a $1 billion investment to boost production for rapid at-home tests. Of course, the major change in availability won't come for another couple of months. How big of a game changer would those rapid tests be?

WEN: We need to reset our expectations here in the U.S. We need to recognize that we will be living with COVID-19 for the foreseeable future. But that doesn't mean that we need to be in a state of emergency around COVID-19. There is a way for us to live with it so that it doesn't have to be driving every single one of our decisions about school and work and travel and social activities. That's why testing is so important.

In the United Kingdom, for example, every family is able to be tested twice a week free of charge if they wish. In many other countries, children are able to be tested right before they go to school and employees right before they go to work. We really need to change that expectation here in the U.S. as well. Imagine what a big game changer it would be if we make it the norm that before people get together for dinner or go to see a play that they all get tested beforehand. And so that's why that rapid testing is so important, and it needs to be widely available. It can't be something that costs $10, $20 and you can't even buy at a store when you really need it. This is something that I hope the Biden administration will do even more of in ramping up.

SANCHEZ: It will certainly give you peace of mind, especially as parents sending your kids to school and things like that.

Let's talk mixing and matching, because the FDA vaccine advisers are meeting next week to talk about Moderna and Johnson and Johnson's application for booster shots. You mentioned that you were hoping they will approve a mix and match approach when it comes to people receiving a dose of different vaccines from the one that they initially received for their booster. Why is that significant? Why is that approach needed?

WEN: So the federal regulators are going to be looking at all the data that are available. Most of the data are going come from the companies themselves. And the companies will not have mix and match data. So Pfizer is only going to testing the third dose of the Pfizer booster, and so forth. But then the NIH is doing mix and match trials. Also in other countries, they are a lot of studies done actually on the mix and match approach.

I think this should be -- this is important for federal regulators to allow people to mix and match for two reasons. One is availability and convenience. There might be some people living in hard to reach areas who don't have easy access to transportation. If they got two doses of Moderna but all that's available is Pfizer, they should have the option to mix and match for convenience reasons.

The second reason is specifically for individuals who got the one dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine, in particularly women under the age of 50. I'm one of those individuals in this category. We know that the Johnson and Johnson vaccine in younger women is associated with a very rare but very serious blood clotting disorder. The Pfizer and Moderna do not have that side effect. And so for younger women, I hope that they have the option to receive the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine as the second dose instead of a second doses Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

To be clear, these are vaccines that are safe and effective. But I also think that people should get the option at this point of a different booster should they choose.

SANCHEZ: That's a great point. Always appreciate your insight. Dr. Leana Wen, thanks for your time.

WEN: Thank you, Boris.

JARRETT: New this morning, abortion in Texas is banned once again. Overnight, a federal appeals court weighed in on the most restrictive abortion law in this country, placing a hold on a lower court ruling that just days ago found that Texas law was likely unconstitutional.

Remember here, the law in Texas bans abortions as soon as a doctor finds a fetal heartbeat. That's as early as six weeks in many cases. In other words, just two weeks after a woman misses her period, before many women even know that they're pregnant. This law makes no exceptions for rape, no exceptions for incest survivors, and allows any private citizen to sue abortion providers.


This latest decision from the fifth circuit court of appeals was largely expected. This panel of judges leans conservative, and abortion providers worried Wednesday's earlier ruling would get overruled or paused, as it now has. All this means, more women will continue to flock to nearby states like Louisiana hoping to get their procedures before it's too late.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KATHALEEN PITTMAN, ADMINISTRATOR, HOPE MEDICAL GROUP: It has been a constant, constant ringing of phones. I can tell you the highlight of my day was the gratitude expressed by women as we were moving their appointments from the end of the month and managed to squeeze them in next week. One of my nurses spent the entire day rearranging appointments and confirming other appointments. So it's just been ongoing over the last few days.

Normally, under normal circumstance, about 18 to 20 percent of the women we see are from Texas. And at this point in time, we are running closer to 60 percent.


JARRETT: Just a huge jump since this law was passed. Clinic workers in other states say they too are worried what is happening in Texas could soon become law where they live as well. And Boris, it goes without saying, this case is obviously headed to the Supreme Court next.

SANCHEZ: One of many. This could be a blockbuster session for the court.

JARRETT: That's for sure.

SANCHEZ: We have got some news that we're just learning in to CNN. Sources say Trump ally Dan Scavino has finally been served with a subpoena by the January 6th commission. He had been dodging it for a few days. The question now, will he comply? More on that after a quick break.

JARRETT: And South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem denies abusing the power of her office to help her daughter's career. Now the state's review panel will decide. We have all the details for you just ahead.



JARRETT: The current president and his predecessor are squaring off now over the issue of executive privilege. It sounds wonky. It's not theoretical. It matters. It matters to getting to the bottom of what happened on January 6th, and at the center of the standoff here is this request for documents from the special House committee investigating the insurrection.

SANCHEZ: Donald Trump wants to stop the committee from seeing visitor logs and phone records from that day, and also any information on his whereabouts, even his direct messages, his DMs on Twitter. President Biden, though, is refusing to assert the privilege, setting up what is likely to be a fierce court battle.

Let's bring in CNN reporter Marshall Cohen now. Good morning, Marshall. You just learned that White House deputy chief of staff, former, Dan Scavino has finally been served with a subpoena by the January 6th committee. What details can you the tell us about that? MARSHALL COHEN, CNN REPORTER: Good morning, guys. This news just

coming in to our newsroom here from our colleague Jim Acosta who is reporting according to a source familiar that Dan Scavino has finally been served with his subpoena from the committee. The committee had been struggling a little bit to track him down, but apparently they were able to make this happen. They handed over the documents down at Mar-a-Lago. Scavino wasn't actually there, but he will now start the process of working with his attorney to figure out how he is going to respond.

Of course, this comes one day after the other subpoena recipients in Trump's inner circle had to give their responses. Steve Bannon said that he is going to put up a fight. The other two, Kash Patel from the Defense Department, Mark Meadows, who was President Trump's chief of staff, according to the committee, they are engaging with the lawmakers to figure out a way forward.

That's the latest on the subpoenas that went to the officials. But the big story in the last day or so was the subpoena that went, or the request for documents that went to the National Archives for former President Trump's official documents. All those things that you mentioned earlier, his communications, schedules, calendars, information about what he was doing on that critical day, January 6th.

So the big news was that President Biden's White House says they're not going to bail Trump out on this first batch of documents. They are not going to use what's called executive privilege to shield these documents. They are comfortable having these documents go to the lawmakers, to the committee for the investigation.

Here is why. Boris and Laura, take a look at this. I want to read for you a quote from the White House Counsel, President Biden's White House Counsel. This is why they're OK with doing this unprecedented move to hand over the documents, quote "The Constitutional protections of executive privilege should not be used to shield from Congress or the public information that reflects a clear and apparent effort to subvert the Constitution itself." That, of course, is a reference to President Trump's effort to undo the election, overturn the will of the people, and cling on to power. The Biden White House says basically if you are trying to subvert the Constitution, you can't use the Constitution to protect your records. Guys?

JARRETT: All right, Marshall Cohen with all the twists and turns. Thank you, my friend, appreciate it.

SANCHEZ: Thanks, Marshall.

JARRETT: Joining us now on all this is Ross Garber. He's an attorney, impeach law expert, and professor at Tulane Law School where he teaches political investigation, some very relevant to this conversation. Nice to see you again, Ross. Let's start here with the Bannon situation. He is stiffing the committee, saying that former President Trump wants him to claim executive privilege. Have you ever seen that work with someone who wasn't even in the executive branch during the time in question? To be clear, Bannon was fired in 2017, and we're talking about events that happened in 2021. ROSS GARBER, IMPEACHMENT LAW PROFESSOR, TULANE UNIVERSITY: Yes, and in

addition to that, Laura, this is an invocation of the privilege on behalf of somebody who is no longer president. The short answer is no. Here is what Bannon I think is thinking.


He looked at the House investigations during the Trump years, and he saw that all of these witnesses effectively stiff-armed the House with virtually no consequence. And so he is betting that he can just stiff- arm the committee, ride it out, play it for time, and that there won't be any consequences. I think he may be in for a rude awakening, though.

JARRETT: Why do you say that? Because I wonder what Merrick Garland is thinking this morning. Obviously, the attorney general is going to be the one who decides if Congress actually refers this for criminal contempt proceedings. How is that going to play out?

GARBER: The House essentially has three options here. One is file a civil case. That's what they did during the Trump era. Those cases essentially went nowhere and took up tons of time. The witnesses and Trump won those essentially. The second option is to send the sergeant at arms to go out and arrest these witnesses. That hasn't been done since the 1930s or 1940s, and that is unlikely to happen here.

The third option is make a referral to the Department of Justice, say that these witnesses or any witnesses not complying are in criminal contempt, and ask the Department of Justice to initiate a prosecution. And as you say, Laura, it's up to Merrick Garland to make the decision about whether to do that.

Here, I think there is a good chance, at least as to Steve Bannon, that the Department of Justice does initiate a prosecution for contempt of Congress, because, as you say, Trump is no longer in office, and Bannon at the time was not even an official. So I think Bannon is in significant danger of a criminal prosecution.

JARRETT: And if they don't do it, it makes you wonder do these ever have any teeth anymore, right? It sends a signal to the rest of the world that you can basically ignore a duly authorized subpoena, which I'm not sure that this current Justice Department wants to do, certainly not something Congress wants to do when they want people to take these seriously.

Let's talk about the other batch of documents here, these documents that are actually held by the National Archives that the former president also wants to keep under wraps. Last time I checked there was no attempted coup exception to the rules on executive privilege. So if you were Trump's lawyer, what is his best argument for keeping them secret?

GARBER: The best argument here is that these are very sensitive, excuse me, confidential documents. There's significant information about communications between the president and his senior advisers, and that current administration shouldn't be able to wave it for the previous administration. Remember, the whole point of executive privilege is to facilitate confidential communications between the president and his advisers, the notion being that they're confidential, the president is going to get better advice. And the concern I could see Trump's lawyers articulating is that if a subsequent information can essentially dispose of the privilege, then that defeats the whole point of the privilege. I think Trump has a very, very uphill battle, but again, part of it may be just playing for time.

JARRETT: And I think about is like a crime, fraud exception for attorney-client privilege, right? You don't get to use the privilege as a shield to prevent evidence of criminality from of coming forth. And we don't know exactly what would turn up in these documents. And that's part of why the House wants to get to the bottom of it. But we'll see whether this goes to court. I assume that that is where this is headed next now that the former president is resisting it. So thank you so much, Ross, appreciate it.

GARBER: Good to see you.

SANCHEZ: New this morning, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is at the Vatican for a meeting with Pope Francis. Newly released video shows the two greeting each other and posing for pictures. The Speaker describing the experience as, quote, overwhelming. Pelosi first arrived in Rome on Thursday for a G-20 Parliament speaker summit. She also met with the Italian prime minister during her visit.

JARRETT: Almost four weeks and counting now, and the hunt for Brian Laundrie is still on. Now police explain why they focused on this nature reserve in the first place.



JARRETT: The manhunt for Brian Laundrie inside a Florida nature reserve is intensifying. But authorities say so far they have found no physical signs he's there.

SANCHEZ: Search teams have been searching the Carlton Nature Reserve ever since Laundrie's parents told police their son planned to hike the sprawling wilderness there. There is information, though, about the parents behavior and what police were doing with Laundrie in the days before his and his deceased fiance Gabby Petito's disappearance. CNN's Nadia Romero is in North Port, Florida, for us. Nadia, what details have we learned about the way that the family was behaving before Brian disappeared?

NADIA ROMERO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Boris and Laura, we have learned some new developments, right. So originally, Boris, we heard from the Laundrie parents that they last saw their son on September 14th. But then just this week saying actually it was the day before on the 13th. So now we're coming up to a full month since the parents last they last saw or heard from their son. Some have questioned if the family is telling the whole truth or if they intentionally misled the investigators. But the attorney says it was a simple mistake, that they just misspoke on the right date.

So now that we know they say that they last saw and heard from their son on September 13th. They told investigators that he was headed to Carlton Reserve, which is not far from here.


This is the Laundrie home behind me, and this week, we saw the father, Chris Laundrie, leave his house, go over to the reserve to assist the FBI there. His job was to tell them where his son liked to hike, where he might have gone. And that was something that the attorney says that the parents were able to participate in and participated in that search effort that happened just this week with the FBI. And then very quickly, Chris Laundrie came back to his house.

Now, there have been many questions about how this timeline all unfolded, right? So if we back up to September 11th, that was the date that Gabby Petito's family told police that she was missing. On that same day, North Port police officers came to this house and they say that they questioned Laundrie's parents. But they had their attorney on the cell phone, and when they were asked about Gabby Petito, they did not answer. And that made investigators a bit suspicious.

So we're learning more information about the timeline since the August 12th domestic dispute in Utah, since Gabby Petito was declared missing by her family, since Brian Laundrie disappeared. That date has changed. And that is what has made this case so interesting and so confusing at times, because the dates have changed, and the details have changed as well. The FBI says that their investigation into finding Brian Laundrie is still ongoing this weekend, although we have not seen much police activity in the weekend or over at the Carlton Reserve. Boris, Laura?

JARRETT: Yes, the family's response here is still just so baffling. This is somebody that they knew well, and when they're asked about Gabby Petito, they don't have any response. It just doesn't all add up. Nadia, I also want to ask you, does the family have any plans to assist law enforcement officials any further? Are they taking a lie detector test?

ROMERO: Laura, a lot of people have been wanting them to take law detector tests because we've had hecklers out here for weeks saying that they believe that the parents know more than what they are telling. But the attorney told CNN that there are no plans for the Laundrie parents to participate in any more efforts to help in the search of their son, and they as of now don't plan on taking a lie detector test. But there are so many unanswered questions, right, Laura?

JARRETT: Many. Many, many.

SANCHEZ: Indeed. Nadia Romero, thank you so much, appreciate it.

JARRETT: Thanks, Nadia.

Now to this controversial surrounding South Dakota Republican Governor Kristi Noem. She's facing accusations that she abused the power of her office to help get her daughter certified by the state as a real estate appraiser.

SANCHEZ: No one contends that she never sought special treatment for her daughter, but the state's attorney general and even lawmakers from her own party are now looking for answers. CNN's Lucy Kavanov has details.


GOV. KRISTI NOEM, (R) SOUTH DAKOTA: It is such an honor to be with all of you here today.

LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem has been basking in the national spotlight.

NOEM: People had no idea who I was six months ago.

KAFANOV: Trumpeting her laissez faire approach to the coronavirus pandemic.

NOEM: My people are happy. They're happy because they're free.

JOE SNEVE, SENIOR POLITICS REPORTER, ARGUS LEADER: I think it is clear that she wants to be president and she intends to run for president in 2024. She spends more time than any governor in recent history has spent out of state. She is inserting herself in issues that don't directly impact the day-to-day lives of South Dakotans.

KAFANOV: Now controversy over a closed-door meeting in the governor's mansion threatens to derail those ambitions. Noem called the meeting on July 27th of 2020 with state officials.

NOEM: These are my kids, Kassidy, married to Kyle.

KAFANOV: And her daughter Kassidy Noem Peter. According to the Associated Press, Peters was facing a denial of her certification as a real estate appraiser when the meeting took place. Four months later, she got her license. While the woman who oversaw the appraisal program for decades, Sherry Bren, says she was forced to retire. In this age discrimination complaint filed last December, Bren said she was told the reason was her inability to change gears. She settled with the state for $200,000.

STEVE HAUGAARD, (R) SOUTH DAKOTA STATE HOUSE: Privacy is for individuals, but transparency for government.

KAFANOV: South Dakota Republican Representative Steve Haugaard says the meeting flaunts Noem's own campaign promise.

NOEM: Being transparent, making sure that all public meetings and agendas are posted.

KAFANOV: Haugaard says any issues with the state's appraisal system should have been handled in the legislature, out in the open.

HAUGAARD: There's been three years of sessions that that could have taken place. So that's where it should take place.

KAFANOV: Not by some closed-door meeting?


NOEM: I never one asked for special treatment for Kassidy.

KAFANOV: Noem defending her actions, saying her daughter completed the same requirements as every other applicant, adding that the state's appraisal system needed to be reformed.

NOEM: It was way too difficult. Appraisers weren't getting certified and South Dakotans were having to wait much longer to buy a home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nepotism in South Dakota's statehouse.

KAFANOV: It's not the first time Noem has been under the microscope over allegations of nepotism. Hiring her other daughter, Kennedy Noem, in 2018 fresh out of college.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kennedy Noem became a policy analyst, and her salary rose nearly $10,000.

KAFANOV: Governor Noem's office said her daughter was fairly compensated, but government ethicists say Noem's actions in the latest case leave the door open for doubt.

DAVID GOLEMBOSKI, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS, AUGUSTANA UNIVERSITY: I think we can only hope from the governor that she recognizes that she made missteps in conducting the meeting this way and involving her daughter in the process and engaging personally in the process while she had a personal stake. The issue of conflict of interest, the issue of appearance of impropriety remains. And those are problems that I don't think there's a retroactive fix for.

KAFANOV: A state legislative committee and the attorney general have announced plans to investigate the July, 2020 meeting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think she has done an excellent job.

KAFANOV: But is it making a dent with voters?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That meeting, I feel like her daughter just shouldn't have been in there at all.

MIKE SHAFT, SIOUX FALLS RESIDENT: In South Dakota, I think family first type things. So I think any father or mother would probably do something to help her daughter.

SETH RATH, SOUTH DAKOTA VOTER: Most people that are going to support her are going to support her anyway, and I think people that are looking for a reason to not support her are just going to use that as another reason not to support her.


JARRETT: Great reporting there from Lucy Kafanov. Lucy, thank you for that.

Still ahead for you, calling all executives, hand up the ties, grab an apron. As the U.S. economy tries to bounce back, restaurants across the country are struggling to find enough workers. Now one restaurant is calling on corporate staff as try their hands as fry cooks and cashiers.

But first, the new CNN original series "Diana" introduces viewers to the person behind the princess and reveals a life more complicated and fascinating than the world knew. "Diana" premieres tomorrow night at 9:00 on CNN. Here is a preview.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was always different. I could always see inside me that I was going somewhere different.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was going to marry her dashing prince like all the stories she'd read.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was iconic. She was box office.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to dance with the princess tonight?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If she would like me to.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pre Diana, there was zilch interest in the royal family.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think anybody has grown up in public like Diana has.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Diana provided a very public model for defiance and truthfulness.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Isn't it normal to feel angry and want to change a situation?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was able to recognize an inner determination to survive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A new CNN original series "Diana" premieres tomorrow night at 9:00 on CNN.




SANCHEZ: The release of the disappointment September jobs report highlights that the nation's economic recovery still has a long way to go. Just 194,000 jobs were added last month. That's less than half of what was predicted. This comes as employers all across the country are having trouble filling open positions. The workers shortage is especially bad in the restaurant industry, and that's forcing companies to get creative, including the fast food chain Raising Cane's. It's now asking members of its corporate staff to work as fry cooks and cashiers. Joining us now, A.J. Kumaran, the co-CEO and COO of Raising Cane's Chicken Fingers. A.J., so grateful to have you this morning. Why did your company make this decision to bring in corporate staff into the restaurants? Are you putting on an apron and frying some chicken?

A.J. KUMARAN, CO-CEO/COO, RAISING CANE'S CHICKEN FINGERS: Yes, sir. Co-CEO, COO, fry cook, and cashier. All of us, when we join Cane's, we go through extensive fry cook and cashier training before we go on to do what we do, whether that is finance or what have you. So we know how to do this, and times like this, we need the help. And we are one family. And it's the right thing to do. So this is more of a volunteering versus calling up. So it has been good.

SANCHEZ: I'm wondering if you've had any resistance from your executives. I don't know that they anticipated that they would wind up in the kitchen even though they had that training.

KUMARAN: They wind up every year, they go through a one-week certification to be back in their executive roles again. But that's it. These times we need to do what it takes. So Boris, looking at numbers, we are down about 10,000 crew members. That is how many we are going to hire over the next 50 days. We called it 50-50, get to 50,000 crew members in 50 days. So we all know we need to put our aprons on, be a recruiter, host job fairs, interview people, do whatever it takes to get us staffed up. And that's what we're doing.

Honestly, nobody pushed back. And people are having fun with it. I get tons of pictures and pictures from drive-through windows. Although I don't like my executives in drive-through windows. They slow it down a bit.


SANCHEZ: That may affect the drive-through line if they're taking selfies, right. How long are you expecting the corporate staff to be needed in the restaurants?

KUMARAN: As long as it takes. It's not a calling for a second or anything like that. So we did set a goal together that we started last week, in the next 50 days, let's get to 50,000 crew members. Obviously, we are going into holidays. Retail pressure is going to go up. You're going to have a lot more temporary job hiring and stuff like that.


Me, personally, I believe in about 30 days, we can get staffed up to where we need it to be. But we will do all it takes. We have 750 corporate staff and they are all over the country. In fact I am away from my hometown right now working in for other markets. SANCHEZ: And A.J., what has been the biggest issue when you sit down

with prospective employees and they turn down potential openings, what are they telling you?

KUMARAN: Number one, Boris, wages have gone up. From the beginning of the year, we have seen almost 20, 25 percent inflation. In fact, for us at Raising Cane's, we did a $25 million wage increases for our front line at the beginning of the year, followed that up with about $17 million in thank you bonuses. Now following that up with $70, seven-zero, million in wage investment going in the next three weeks. So wages are big part of it.

I don't know where some of the people just vanished, if I would say that. You are generally seeing lower applicant flow. And we are one of the best places to work recognized by our own crew members, so once we get them in the door, we generally get them into the back of the kitchen or the front of the counter, what have you, but generally, applicant flow has been pretty weak.

SANCHEZ: Not just a creative corporate structure, but a really hands- on boss. Raising Cane's sounds like the kind of place I may want to work if you are a teenager or you're looking for something. Any pitch to kids that are looking for work that may want a job there?

KUMARAN: We are a great place to work. We serve no alcohol. We work hard. We have a ton of fun. In fact, we are one of the only restaurants who play music in the back of the house and do a little dancing when you are cooking chicken fingers. So come join. It's a great day to get your career started whatever you may end up doing in the future.

SANCHEZ: I appreciate your time. A.J. Kumaran, thank you so much.

JARRETT: Get that corporate staff to see what it's like to actually have to suit up for cooking chicken. Very cool.

Look at this, streaming from Spain's La Palma volcano. These images captured earlier today. We have an update on what's happening there just after the break.



SANCHEZ: Captain Kirk is headed to space. On Tuesday, "Star Trek" actor William Shatner is going to blast off from Texas for a suborbital trip to space. He is going to join three other people aboard Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket for the company's second human space flight. The voyage is expected to last about 10 minutes total. But at 90 years old, Shatner is going to become the oldest person to have flown into space.

JARRETT: And check this one out. Volcanic lava devouring even more homes in the Spanish island town of La Palma. Look at these incredible images. The lava pouring down hillsides. Officials say the Canary Islands volcano has become more aggressive in recent weeks, if you can believe that. Officials discovered a new crater just last Saturday. There have been lightning strikes as well. More than 1,000 homes have been destroyed since the volcano first erupted. Toxic gasses and clouds of steam at times have forced local residents into lockdown. A very scary situation.

But here in the states, we're already looking at the season's first snow. I can't believe it. It's only October.

SANCHEZ: You haven't even gotten your pumpkin yet, Laura. And already there are Christmas tree decorations at stores. We'll talk about that some other side.

On the flipside, extremely warm temperatures heating up the plains in the U.S. Let's go to CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar. She is tracking what's ahead. Tell us about this snow, where can we expect it?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: right, so this video behind me is from Lake Tahoe, California. This was taken yesterday. But this is the same system that we're talking about for today and tomorrow. It will be moving through into the intermountain west. So the focus for today is really with this first system. I say first because there is actually going to be two. And the second is right on the heels. That is the one that is going to be pushing into the pacific northwest today. So one right after another making its way through the western U.S. Once both systems will push through, now you are looking at some pretty decent snowfall totals.

In the lower elevations in the valleys, like just a couple of inches. But once you start to go up in elevation pretty quickly, those numbers also jump. Eight, 10, even 12 inches not out of the question for the several day total.

You can't get snow without cold temperatures, and we've got a lot of them. Take for example Salt Lake City and Reno. Both about 15 degrees below average for their high temperatures. Those low temperatures also very chilly.

But on the other side of that front, it is quite the opposite. Record temperatures are possible not only today, but also tomorrow. Take a look, Kansas City, and Oklahoma City, both about 20 degrees above normal. Those highs getting into the 90s. Now, when you take a look at some of those areas, look at this. Over 30 possible locations could break record highs today and even into tomorrow. The problem is when you have that clash of cold and warm temperatures, it is also fuel for severe storms. So we have the potential for some severe weather in the upper Midwest today, guys, and down into the southern plains as we wrap up the rest of the weekend.

SANCHEZ: Allison Chinchar, thank you so much for the update.

JARRETT: I'm still holding on to fall. I'm not ready for snow yet.


JARRETT: Let's not rush these seasons. [10:55:01]

Thanks so much for joining us this morning. Thank you, Boris, for sharing this Saturday with me. We'll be back tomorrow at 8:00 -- 6:00 a.m., I should say.

SANCHEZ: Of course, 6:00 a.m. Make sure you set your timer correctly.

JARRETT: Exactly.

SANCHEZ: Still much more ahead in the next hour of the CNN Newsroom. Fredricka Whitfield is up after a break. Thanks.


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.