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Dr. David Kimberlin is Interviewed about the Vaccine Approval for Kids; Laundrie Surveillance Confusion; New Bar for Infrastructure Bill; Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) is Interviewed about the Biden Agenda. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired October 26, 2021 - 09:30   ET




JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Right now, FDA vaccine advisers are meeting to decide whether to authorize Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for children age five to 11. Dr. Anthony Fauci believes, if all goes well, parents could expect to begin vaccinating their children within the first two weeks of November.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Pediatric cases have been declining for seven weeks now, but they're still considered extremely high. The American Academy of Pediatrics reporting last week nearly 118,000 children tested positive for the virus. That actually accounts for a quarter of all new cases.

Joining us now, Dr. David Kimberlin, co-director of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

As we look at those latest numbers, yes, cases in children are on the decline, but still the fact that they're making up a quarter of all new cases, how much in your mind does that add to the urgency for a vaccine for children?

DR. DAVID KIMBERLIN, CO-DIRECTOR OF PEDIATRIC INFECTIOUS DISEASES DIVISION, UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA AT BIRMINGHAM: I think we all have been feeling the urgency for a vaccine for children for quite some time.

The delta variant that slammed the southeast and now is, you know, inclusing (ph) causing problems up in the Midwest and in Alaska and other regions of the United States has continued to show that children can become infected with this virus, that they can become very sick from this virus. Over 500 children have died from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the COVID infection and disease, since the onset of this pandemic. So the sooner that we have an authorized -- fully vetted and authorized vaccine for five through 11-year-olds to begin with, that's going to be significant steps forward on this path toward getting to the other side of this pandemic.

SCIUTTO: OK, so signs pointing in the direction of approval and perhaps vaccinations beginning the first half of November. The distribution will be different than we saw for vaccines for adults. In other words, for one example, they're not going to rely on these big vaccination centers, like a lot of us got vaccinated. More -- leaning more on, for instance, pediatricians.

How will that affect the rollout of this? Will it make it harder, right, to get shots as parents want them as quickly as parents want them?

KIMBERLIN: I hope anyway that it will be a smoother rollout. And the reason I say that is because when the large vaccination centers were first, you know, stood up, if you will, back in February, March and that period of this calendar year, we didn't have that infrastructure in place before. These things were created. In other words, to meet a very important need. When it comes to pediatric vaccinations, on the other hand, we have a well-established, decades old infrastructure that we can fall back on, we can rely on, and it's the pediatricians offices and family practitioner offices as well, and public health centers and so forth, places where children and their families have been going to, receive healthcare and receive vaccines to prevent normal regular childhood illnesses for a long, long period of time. And so I really think that by being able to fall back on to that established infrastructure with the established relationships we have a good chance of having this go quite smoothly.

I do think as well, I will add, that many pediatric and I think family practitioner offices are stretched right now. And that is a challenge because, you know, we're close to two years into this pandemic, and it has taken a major toll on healthcare providers. And many offices, you know, are operating with fewer staff now than they were a year ago, for instance.

So, there are challenges. I don't mean to minimize that. But I do think overall, by relying on pediatricians and family practice doctors, we're going to have a good rollout here.

HILL: Having that trusted relationship too is so important, as we've learned with the rollout for vaccines among adults, that that comfort level and a comfort with where your information is coming from is key.

I'm curious, what kinds of questions are you getting from parents and even from children, because there are a lot of kids who are old enough to ask questions in this age range about the vaccine?

KIMBERLIN: Children ask if it's going to hurt. They're interested in the shot.

Parents want to know why it's necessary. And it's a legitimate question. It's a very easily answered question, 500 plus children have died during the course of the pandemic. About, you know, one in ten will have long COVID symptoms who, you know, survive either asymptomatic infection or symptomatic disease. And we don't even know what those long-term outcomes with long COVID are for adults or for children.

So there are major risks from this virus for the child himself or herself. And I think that's, first and foremost, what parents are going to be concerned about. And that's part of the conversation.


In addition, you know, you mentioned before that a quarter of all cases, last week anyhow, were part -- were in the pediatric population. That indicates that if you can bring down the amount of infection and disease in that group, we have an opportunity to have an impact for their grandparents and for their parents who are on immunosuppressive drugs and people that are -- continue to be at high risk from this overall infection.

SCIUTTO: Yes. I mean that's the big message here, vaccination is about protecting yourself and others. And for some reason, months and months in, that message still hasn't gotten in -- gotten through with a lot of people.

Dr. David Kimberlin, thanks so much.

KIMBERLIN: Thank you for having me.

SCIUTTO: Still ahead, Senator Joe Manchin says he sees a deal in sight. But now some progressives, they are sounding a potential alarm. The sticking point that could derail a big week for President Biden's agenda. Sticking points, really. We'll have more, next.



SCIUTTO: Police in North Port, Florida, are admitting that they made a serious mistake in the Brian Laundrie case and investigation. Listen to this. While police were monitoring the family's home, they thought that Laundrie's mother was actually him in a baseball cap.

HILL: So that means police thought that Brian Laundrie was at the house for two days, when he actually wasn't. So, how did that mistake happen?

CNN correspondent Nick Valencia joining us now from North Port.

So, I mean, they were confusing the two. What else did that lead to, Nick, or not lead to in this case?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A lot of confusion and a lot of criticism, Jim and Erica. And throughout this entire case, there's been no shortage of criticism towards the police department and how they've handled the investigation. And at least in this instance, they're saying it's warranted, saying that they failed to keep up a proper surveillance on Brian Laundrie when he returned home alone to his parent's house without his fiance, Gabby Petito, after they went on that west coast camping trip.

But there was enough suspicions about his involvement that they believed that they needed to keep an eye on him. Remember, though, back in mid-September, he had not yet officially been named a person of interest in her disappearance, and eventually finding her dead, nor had he been given an indictment or handed an indictment on that bank fraud. But police were still keeping an eye on him late one night they say that his mother returned in Brian Laundrie's mustang, wearing a baseball cap. That led to a confusion. They said they have a similar type build.

Just listen to what Josh Taylor, the press information officer with the North Port Police Department said about their mix-up.


JOSH TAYLOR, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER, NORTH PORT POLICE: I believe it was -- it was his mom who was wearing a baseball cap. They had returned from the park with that mustang. So who does that, right? Like, if you think your son's missing since Tuesday, you're going to bring his car back to the home. So it didn't make sense that anyone would do that if he wasn't there. So, the individual getting out with a baseball cap we thought was Brian.


VALENCIA: Now, police have yet to say if this was a deliberate diversion or not, but clearly there's a lot of zeroing in right now on the parents and many wondering if they will face any charges.

We're still waiting on official confirmation of the autopsy, and, again, whether or not those parents will face any charges.

Jim and Erica, you know throughout this entire time there's been some not so veiled comments from the North Port Police Department specifically about the potential involvement in helping Brian Laundrie go on the run.

Jim. Erica.

SCIUTTO: Some real, real hard questions need to be answered.

Nick Valencia, good to have you there. Thanks very much.

And we'll be right back.



HILL: This morning, Democrats hopes for a vote this week on the bipartisan infrastructure bill hitting what could be a major roadblock.

For more let's get straight to CNN congressional correspondent Lauren Fox on Capitol Hill.

So, is this -- is this vote on infrastructure looking less likely than it was even 24 hours ago?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erica, there are a lot of moving parts right now that Democrats are having to sort through. One of them is what order once again these bills are going to have to come to the floor.

As you know, the bipartisan infrastructure bill already passed out of the Senate, but the holdup has been in the House of Representatives, where some progressives have argued they want a fuller picture of what the framework for that bigger social safety net bill is before they agree to allow a vote on that bipartisan infrastructure bill.

Well, last night, the leading progressive of the Progressive Caucus in the House, Pramila Jayapal, she told us that she wanted to see a fuller framework and that she wanted these votes on both the social safety net bill and that bipartisan infrastructure bill to happen within a tight time period. So, that puts a lot of pressure on leadership to make sure they have all the details ironed out on that bigger social safety net bill.

As we have said, there are still a lot of sticking points on that piece of legislation. Whether it is how to pay for the bill, what the top line will be for it, what programs will be included, whether that is a Medicare expansion, an Obamacare expansion, there are a lot of moving parts right now. And Democrats just don't have consensus. They're trying to get it on issues like climate and how to pay for this bill, but right now there isn't a final deal, in part because of opposition from some moderates in the Senate, like Senator Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema.


HILL: Oh, a lot of moving parts. That is certainly one way to put it. A lot going on there.

Lauren Fox, appreciate it. Thank you.

SCIUTTO: All right, so what's happening? Joining me now to talk about all this, Democratic Congressman Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey. He's co-chair of the Problem Solvers Caucus.

Congressman, good to have you back on the show.

REP. JOSH GOTTHEIMER (D-NJ): It's great to be here. Thanks for having me, Jim.

SCIUTTO: All right, so Nancy Pelosi says she's enthusiastic about the party's prospects for a deal. Dick Durbin says he believes you can get a deal by this week. Joe Manchin says it could be reached imminently. Do you believe that, deal this week?

GOTTHEIMER: I'm talking to a lot of folks, and I agree with all them. We're incredibly close. What is clear is that we need to vote this week. We've got to vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill this week. There's no reason to hold it up anymore. You know, it passed out of the Senate in early August.


All I do at home is hear, we've got to get shovels in the ground and people to work. SCIUTTO: Yes.

GOTTHEIMER: President Biden was in New Jersey yesterday actually at a train depot to get kicked off a huge infrastructure project between New York and New Jersey called the Gateway Tunnel, it's a train tunnel --


GOTTHEIMER: Stressing the importance of getting it done. So I think we all agree that we've got to move here and we're very close on the -- on the social infrastructure bill, on the Build ack Better bill and now we've just got to get both over the finish line.

SCIUTTO: OK. To be fair, we had you on a month ago, September 22nd. You were confident then of a vote on the infrastructure deal by that past deadline, September 27th. Why should we trust your confidence this time?

GOTTHEIMER: Well, first of all, I -- you know, given the conversations I had then, I was optimistic. And, you know, I'm sorry that I'm an optimistic person. Somebody who's around the table who believes we've got to get this done. And what we're hearing from our leadership is their belief and we heard from the president his belief of moving this forward.

Of course, you know, there's always asterisks next to that. And when you hear some comments out of some of my friends on the left about their concerns, you understand that, you know, that might be a holdup. But the bottom line is you're starting to hear that consensus and I believe the pressure is clearly mounting from our folks back home and from hardworking men and women of labor because you're talking about 2 million jobs a year from people who are just saying, let's get this done, let's not hold this bipartisan infrastructure bill, roads, bridges, rail, water infrastructure --

SCIUTTO: I get it.

GOTTHEIMER: Trains, climate resiliency, all the things we believe in and get a win for the country. I think that's why I'm optimistic because it just doesn't make any sense to hold it up.

SCIUTTO: OK. Let me ask you this, because we again have this pickle, right, in that some are talking about voting for the infrastructure when you just have a framework but not a -- not the language for the budget bill. We've been there before, right? Are progressives and other Democrats going to vote for the infrastructure bill based just on sort of an outline of the budget bill?

GOTTHEIMER: I think this is a matter of whether or not the president feels comfortable with that agreement, that framework, and whether or not the speaker does, you know, and starts whipping votes and saying to people, I feel good enough of where this is and I think we're really close to where that -- to that framework.

You know, you're talking about important things here like childcare and fighting climate change --


GOTTHEIMER: And reinstating the (INAUDIBLE) tax deduction. A lot of priorities that matter to a lot of us -- the folks back home. So, you know, I think when they start getting behind it and pushing hard, I believe enough folks will come on board and we can get this done.


GOTTHEIMER: I'm hoping it's -- and I hope it's bipartisan, too, and I think there will be Republicans voting for that bipartisan infrastructure bill as well in the House.

SCIUTTO: OK, so -- because there are a lot of pieces here. I'm going to ask you some in and out questions here. In or out questions. Expanding Medicare, is that going to be in or out?

GOTTHEIMER: There's a lot of things still being negotiated, so I'm not sure I'm going to answer all your in and out questions. But I feel -- but -- but--

SCIUTTO: OK, so that's still --


SCIUTTO: That's still under negotiation. OK, how about the state and local tax deduction, raising the cap? Is that in or out? And it is necessary to be in.

GOTTHEIMER: I feel very -- I feel very good, based on my conversations, including last night, that that's going to be in.


GOTTHEIMER: I mean it's got to be in if they want the votes of some of us, yes.

SCIUTTO: Gotcha.

OK. How about this billionaires' tax as a way to replace some lost income due to opposition among some Democrats to, for instance, raising the corporate tax rate? Is that going to be in?

GOTTHEIMER: There's still a lot of conversation going on around that and a lot of debate still happening on the specifics. So I think you'll see some counterproposals coming up.

SCIUTTO: OK. Big picture, messaging-wise. As you know, the president's approval rating is down. I mean down in the low 40s, averaging mid to low 40s based on CNN's poll of polls. But this particular number stuck out to that. Recent polling shows only 36 percent of people believe the Build Back Better plan will help them and their families. Only 41 percent believe it will help the national economy. And just like a sliver above those who think it will hurt them.

It doesn't seem like your message is getting through on this.

GOTTHEIMER: Well, I can just tell you what I'm hearing back home in northern New Jersey, right, people want us to get the physical infrastructure bill, the roads, the bridges, the rail, broadband, they want us to get lead out of the water. They want us to get that done. I hear about it all the time. People are coming up all the time about getting that done. And they're also talking about getting SALT reinstated and getting tax relief for them and fighting climate change and child care and universal pre-k.

So when I talk to people about these issues, I'm hearing a lot of positive -- a lot of positive news. That's why we have to actually, Jim, to your point, get it done. This is why this week is so important. If you don't get it done, obviously people can't get -- the country can't get the victory it deserves. So that's what this is really about and why this week is so important and why I'm going to keep pressing.


GOTTHEIMER: You know, I know, as you pointed out, that I'm -- that I'm optimistic about it.


I'm optimistic because I know how important it is for folks back home. And I believe, at the end of the day, we've got to do what people want and people want us to do back home. And I'm hoping everyone shows up and votes for it for that reason.

SCIUTTO: If you don't get it passed quickly, do you sink Democrats' chances in the midterms and do you threaten Biden's presidency, yes or no?

GOTTHEIMER: I mean I'm not going to entertain that because I'm going to say, we're just going to get it done.

SCIUTTO: OK. We'll --

GOTTHEIMER: We have to get it done.

SCIUTTO: We'll be -- I'm never going to -- I'm never going to question your optimism. I love to talk to optimists. We'll see --

GOTTHEIMER: Well, who wants to -- who want it.

SCIUTTO: We'll see if it bears out this time.

GOTTHEIMER: I don't -- there's plenty of people -- there are plenty of people to be negative. It's OK to be positive occasionally, you know?

SCIUTTO: I hear you. I hear you.

Congressman Josh Gottheimer, always good to have you on the show. Thanks so much. GOTTHEIMER: It's great to see you, man. Take care.

HILL: Just ahead, new details in the fatal shooting on the set of that Alec Baldwin film. According to "The New York Times," ammunition was found in multiple places on the set, including a fanny pack. More coming up.