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Despite COVID-19 Surge, NYC Holds Annual New Year's Eve Celebration In Times Square; South Africa Bids Farewell To Anti- Apartheid Icon Desmond Tutu; Europe Closes 2021 With Cancelled Events, Surging Cases; Biden To Hold Weekend Call With Ukraine Leader After Putin Talks. Aired 1:30-2a ET

Aired January 01, 2022 - 01:30   ET




MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm Michael Holmes. Coming up here on CNN Newsroom.

It is 2022 in most parts of the world but New Year's celebrations clouded of course find the Coronavirus.

And in South Africa, funeral processions will soon get underway for Desmond Tutu. We're live in Cape Town.

Also, remembering Betty White to look back at The Golden Girls extraordinary life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Live from CNN Center. This is CNN Newsroom with Michael Holmes.

HOLMES: Welcome everyone and Happy New Year. And another year of living with the Coronavirus has come and gone and still of course the pandemic affecting life as we all know it. Many cities like Moscow ringing in the New Year with fireworks.

And South Korea bringing in 2022 with a light show and traditional bell ringing in the capital Seoul. But other cities canceled their big events or may do with more subdued plans to bring the year to a close.

Britain celebrating with midnight chimes from Big Ben resonating through central London.

Meanwhile, New York City welcoming the New Year with a party in Times Square. But thanks to the huge surge of new COVID-19 cases it wasn't quite the same. CNN's Alison Kosik with more.


ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Goodbye 2021, hello 2022. It is a new year we have turned the page of the calendar. And we did it right here in the crossroads of the world Time Square what a great way to do it. You know New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio got a lot of pushback to hold this New Year's Eve event because of the spread of COVID-19 cases, not just here in New York City, but around the world across the nation as well.

But this was an event that was put on with a lot of restrictions. First of all, the number of revelers was capped at 15,000 Instead of the usual 60,000 people who usually come here to see the ball drop. Also they had to be fully vaccinated and show pools of that along with their ID and wear a mask the entire evening.

You know that ball is really beautiful, that Waterford Crystal Ball all six tons of it. It made its way down a descent from this flagpole of 170 feet. And we rang in the New Year. Happy New Year everybody. From Times Square, I'm Alison Kosik.


HOLMES: South Africa is marking the New Year by celebrating the life of Archbishop Desmond Tutu. We're going to show you live pictures outside St. George's Cathedral in Cape Town. You see them there. That's where the funeral for the anti-apartheid icon will begin in about an hour and a half hour.

Our David McKenzie is in Cape Town for us joins me now live. David, so the funeral begins soon. Give us a sense of what kind of funeral it is. It's a state funeral but a very different one for most.

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Michael, I'm Happy New Year. You know, it's a drizzly day here in Cape Town. You can see St George's cathedral, behind me through the midst. And it's a sad day, but also a celebration of this extraordinary man, Archbishop Desmond Tutu who did so much for this country. And for human rights around the world.

The service will be largely in the beginning, at least we believe a traditional Anglican requiem mass. We will have hymns and famously, the arch, as he is known, was a great level of music. They will be restricted number of people at the funeral. They were looking at the guestlist late into yesterday, because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But here on the first day of the year, it certainly is a celebration of his life here in Cape Town, a city that really was defined by him in the anti-apartheid struggle, Michael.

HOLMES: And David, what do you -- what are your impressions of the last few days of him lying in state and emotional time for the country?

MCKENZIE: Very emotional and so many people I spoke to have very powerful personal reflections about the man, not just generic reflections, several of the people who were there for two days of lying in state saying they had met Desmond Tutu, that he had touched them personally during their lives.

[01:35:15] There was a very simple there. He is in a very simple coffin at his request, of course, the arch was very involved in his own funeral planning at pine casket with a bouquet of carnations from the family. And that's pretty much it in keeping with the humble nature of the man.

Let's take a look at the last few days.


MCKENZIE (voice-over): A private moment of grief at a very public farewell for Desmond Tutu at St. George's Cathedral, the People's Church. Tutu personally requested the symbol pine coffin. The Nobel Peace Prize winner, anti-apartheid hero was a global celebrity, but always a humble man, a man who touched many.

(on camera): And you seem quite emotional about this moment?

DOREEN FEBRUARY, MOURNER: I am emotional because I'm very sad that he died in an era that we did not achieve what he set out that we must achieve.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): Doreen February woke up at dawn to make it here. As a young woman, apartheid made her a second class citizen. She says tutu gave her hope.

FEBRUARY: He gave us confidence that one day we will be free.

MCKENZIE: Chiming for a man that fought his battles from this pulpit, and out on the street, railing against the racist and justices of apartheid, with great physical bravery, and moral clarity.

REV. MICHAEL WEEDER, DEAN OF CAPE TOWN: He brought intellect. He brought compassion. He brought a way of emphasizing this is how humanity. This is a face of humanity, presenting an African faith, but also universalizing and say, God is for everybody.

MCKENZIE: He would always come back to this church to St. George's preaching only as Desmond Tutu could preach.

(on camera): So what lesson do we have for the way he lived his life and interacted with people?

DR. MAMPHELA RAMPHELE: While he'll say, don't take yourself too seriously? Why are you having such a glum face? We need to continue to remind ourselves that life is not about carrying burdens. It's about celebrating joy.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): A celebration, and final goodbye for a loss that will be felt by a nation.


HOLMES: And David, tell us more about the locations and George's cathedral and its significance. MCKENZIE: Well, as I said, it's the people's cathedrals and George's was really a place of worship and of activism for many years during the years of apartheid. Desmond Tutu, as Archbishop here of Cape Town, would preach his sermons on Sunday railing against the anti-apartheid -- railing against the apartheid police.

In particular, there was a protest famously on the street that I'm standing right now, where police would come and arrest people, spray them, in one case, famously with purple dye. And this cathedral is just part of the life of this city. Every day this week for 10 minutes or so they've been ringing the bells at noon. The Table Mountain has been lit up in purple, reflecting the vestments that Archbishop Tutu would wear. When he was out there, fighting the good fight at funerals for activists for many years.

It's also worth remembering after the transition to democracy, Desmond Tutu was critical in his role in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to try bring some kind of reconciliation and peace and forgiveness to this country.

And since then, he has been a very active voice on many social issues. He has, he did retreat from the public eye for around 10 years, but still people felt he was there and would chime in when needed, and I feel that moral voice that has been lost in this country will be a very big loss, Michael.

HOLMES: Yes, thank you. David Mackenzie there in Cape Town. Appreciate it. We'll be checking in with you when the ceremonies get underway. Thanks so much.

Well, in northern India, at least a dozen people were killed during a stampede at one of the country's holiest Hindu shrines. Police say 16 people went to the hospital with injuries and investigation has been ordered into the cause of the stampede.

Now it happened just after midnight on New Year's Day when thousands of people had gathered at the shrine. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was saddened by the loss of life and tweeted his condolences to the families -- of the victim's families.

Coming up here on CNN NEWSROOM.


The party atmosphere of your is significantly diminished as the world rings in the new year. How Europe scale back as COVID cases soared.

Also President Vladimir Putin delivered -- delivers his New Year's address one day after he and the U.S. president exchange warnings over Ukraine. We'll have the latest from Moscow when we come back.


HOLMES: 2021 going out in much the same way it came in with suring COVID cases, shattering records around the globe. The pandemic shows little sign of slowing. The seven-day global average on Friday stands at more than 1.2 million new cases a day.

The French president Emmanuel Macron says he hopes 2022 will see the end of the pandemic. He urged the 5 million unvaccinated in France to get their shots.

In January, the vaccine maker Novavax plans to request emergency use authorization for its COVID shot in the US. It's also developing a vaccine targeting Omicron specifically, and expects to begin trials in early 2022.

A study reported in the journal Nature found that immunity wanes against Omicron both -- in both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines but not as much as natural infection. Researchers say their findings showed the need for Omicron specific vaccines.

Countries in Europe are having to forego traditional New Year's celebrations as Omicron spreads almost unabated. CNN's Salma Abdelaziz in London with the details.


SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER (on camera): Europe ring in the new year under the shadow of the Omicron variant. Here in the U.K., Prime Minister Boris Johnson used his year and message to urge everyone to be cautious about their New Year's Eve gatherings and to call on people to get their third shot, to get boosted. He called the country's booster campaign a success so far, but he had a direct message for those who have yet to be vaccinated.

BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: And I want to speak directly to all those who have yet to get fully vaccinated. The people who think the disease can't hurt them. Look at the people going into hospital now. That could be you. Look at the intensive care units and the miserable needless suffering of those who did not get their booster. That could be you.

ABDELAZIZ: Now the U.K. is not alone. France also seeing record breaking cases. The French health minister saying he gets vertigo looking at the data. There's going to be new restrictions rolled out in Paris starting December 31st. You must wear a mask even outdoors it comes after the fireworks display in Paris the one over the Champs- Elysees, that's canceled this year.

Also, Germany canceling its big fireworks displays in Berlin in limiting social gatherings on New Year's Eve.


Health officials across the region extremely worried, extremely concerned about parties and social gatherings during the New Year's Eve could make that surge in cases driven by that Omicron variant even worse, It's why here in the U.K. the National Health Service has plans in place, they say they are on a war footing. That's the words of the National Health Service as they set up potential surge hubs for preparation plans for potential wave of Omicron patients. Salma Abdelaziz, CNN, London. (END VIDEO TAPE)

HOLMES: Dr. Kent Sepkowitz is a professor of medicine and infectious disease for Cornell Medical College. He's also the Deputy Physician in Chief of Sloan Kettering. He joins me now from New York City. Good to see you again, doctor. And Happy New Year. How worried are you that New Year's Eve celebrations around the world where they've been held, just got to add to the spread of this virus?

DR. KENT SEPKOWITZ, MEMORIAL SLOAN KETTERING CANCER CENTER: It will certainly happen. Omicron has shown us that it knows how to spread. It knows how to spread better than any variant we've seen. Thankfully, it still does not seem to be particularly severe in terms of hospitalizations, and deaths.

That said, just about everybody I know has caught it except for me. And so the bulk number of cases is unimaginably high. And as you say, New Year's Eve is going to do it no favors as people party and hang out together.

HOLMES: You just -- you raise -- you raise a great point there. I mean, there are such an, I mean, I'm amazed at how many people I know have caught it as well. There are such a huge number of Omicron crisis. And -- but, as you point out, even if there are fewer severe cases, percentage wise, that's still going to be a big number for hospitals to deal with, right, a smaller percentage of a huge number is a lot of people?

SEPKOWITZ: Yes, 1 percent of a million is the same as 10 percent of 100,000. Right? So, if you have a million people with it, and it's only 1 percent trouble, it's just as bad as a much less transmissible that has a higher rate.

And, you know, hospitals are getting bombed. More importantly, and I think there have been a lot of stories about this. Hospital staff is sick. And subway staff is sick. And airline staff is sick, not desperately ill. But they're out for a week or two and that is hitting the function, the practical functionality of all these services hospitals, airports.

HOLMES: Yes, that is a great point. And certainly --

SEPKOWITZ: It's different -- yes. Yes, it's a different attack on sort of everybody's life.


SEPKOWITZ: The happy news is that very few are dying, but people are dying. I don't think we should think of this (INAUDIBLE) ain't nothing. It's a something.

HOLMES: Yes, there's multiple plane crashes a day equivalent in the US. And you can imagine what would be happening if that were the case. I mean, another thing that crossed my mind with so much home testing, isn't it likely that the case numbers are in fact, much higher? People test positive at home -- SEPKOWITZ: Yes.

HOLMES: -- and then they fail to eyesight?

SEPKOWITZ: Absolutely. Yes, absolutely. And there's no way right now to correct for that. I think we can absolutely add a sprinkle, if not more of people who are home test positive. That said, I do think the bulk 80 percent plus are being captured by the public health reporting.

The people who can afford to home tests, the people who choose to home test is a vocal (ph), but quite real minority. And the people standing in line, even as we speak, for 20 minutes and 30 minutes and an hour and two hours to get the government test are still overwhelmingly the bulk. But you are right, that there's even more than as bad as it is. There's even more.

HOLMES: You know, I was going to ask you personally, I was boosted back in September. Now, with evidence of waning vaccine protection over time, can you see fourth shots, second boosters in the not too distant future?

SEPKOWITZ: Yes, the Israelis are doing that now studying it, it looks like it's going to be necessary. There are two different reasons for boosters. One is to just bring up the whole amount of immunity. The other is to get hyper high from the vaccine. So that the marginal benefit against Omicron that our vaccines have is over -- is compensated. So in other words, you don't -- we don't -- the current matches not particularly good with our vaccines but if you put it in overdrive it can do enough to prevent severe disease.


And that's different than the waning immunity thing, I think. But either way, I bet we're going to be at number four in the next couple of months. And it's the right thing to do till we have better focused vaccines, these messenger RNA vaccines are incredible.

And this the one we're all getting is focused on this part of the virus. This part is not the real part anymore. It's this part. And so they're building vaccines that will focus on this part of the virus. And, you know, in a few months, we'll have those. Until then, we can just bulk up with a fourth vaccine that will get us through safely, even if it's a little, you know, a little messy.

HOLMES: Right, right. Yes, we don't have time at the moment. But I know you and I have talked about and you worry about this, too. We're talking about fourth doses, a whole chunk of the world hasn't had any or one if they're lucky. And that's a major issue. We'll have you back on to talk more about that. Dr. Kent Sepkowitz, thanks so much, as always.

SEPKOWITZ: Happy New Year, Michael.

HOLMES: And to you.


HOLMES: The U.S. President Joe Biden expected to call his Ukrainian counterpart on Sunday to brief him on Thursday's phone call with Vladimir Putin. The Russian leader did not directly mention that conversation in his annual New Year's address. Instead, his remarks mostly focusing on the ongoing challenges posed by the pandemic. CNN's Nic Robertson explains from Moscow.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (on camera): Look at this red square, it's minutes to midnight, and normally this will just be chock full of people at the funfair ready to see in the new year. But because of COVID, the government is keeping it off limits tonight.

The president, President Putin has made a speech to the nation. In that speech, he offers condolences for those who's lost loved ones, he said it's been a tough year. One of his biggest issues that phone call with President Biden just 24 hours ago, that issue of NATO and Ukraine. That was a subject to the phone call.

President Biden telling President Putin that if he doesn't deescalate, doesn't move his troops, then there will be stiff economic sanctions. The Russian president saying that would be a terrible decision that would lead to a rupture in bilateral relations that would be felt for generations.

President Putin saying that he wants to keep his troops where they are right now just he says as the United States would if Russian troops were close to the United States border. The standoff the red lines for those talks in January the 10th, they set the phone call really lined it all up. Nic Robertson, CNN, Moscow.


HOLMES: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. We'll be right back.


HOLMES: Some sad news to end the year. The beloved wisecracking actress Betty White has died at 99 years old just weeks away from her 100th birthday.


CNN's Stephanie Elam takes us back through Betty White's life.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Betty White's cheerful Hollywood career began in her teens, and by her 20s, she was a fixture on television with her own daily talk show. Ahead of the times, White co-founded her own production company in 1952.

She worked on a variety of television and film projects over the years before turning a 1973 guest appearance on The Mary Tyler Moore Show into a permanent role. White was a scene stealer as the man hungry Sue Ann Nevins.

BETTY WHITE, AMERICAN ACTRESS: I think a man should be virile and macho and just reeking with masculinity.

ELAM: Her second signature role was on the beloved series The Golden Girls as the comical Rose Nylund

WHITE: And they attack chickens.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't care about chickens, Rose. She didn't call me chicken, she called me peacock.

WHITE: You look more like a chicken when you're angry, you're Next with --.

With The Golden Girls, I got to play with those silly ladies every week. So that and I loved Rose Nylund, she was positive and she was -- she wasn't the sharpest knife in the drawer. But she wasn't dumb. She was just terminally naive.

ELAM: Off Screen, White married three times. She called her third husband TV host Allen Ludden, the love of her life. They were together almost 20 years before Ludden died of stomach cancer in 1981.

LARRY KING, CNN HOST: And you'll never remarry?

WHITE: No. When you've had the best who needs the rest.

ELAM: A devoted pet lover, White was a longtime advocate for animal welfare. She called television her hobby and animals her work. Yet her hobby kept her busy. White's talents as an actress and comedian were in demand well into her senior years. Following a grassroots Facebook campaign in 2010, White became the oldest person ever to host Saturday Night Live at the age of 88.

WHITE You know it's an accomplishment staying awake on the toilet.

ELAM: The show earned huge ratings and White her seventh Emmy Award. Later that year, White took on another role on TV Land's Hot in Cleveland.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thought that you weren't coming?

WHITE: Well I ran out of vodka. I thought I'd come over here and freshen up my drunk.

ELAM: In her 90s, White was as popular as ever with several ongoing film and television projects.

WHITE: How lucky can a 90-year-old broad B, I have no idea and I'm still working. That's the thing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You loved working. ELAM: Love for her warm smile, wit and off color humor. White didn't miss a beat when asked if there were any Hollywood projects she'd still like to do.

WHITE: I usually answer that question with Robert Redford. No, I think I've been lucky enough to do just about so much that I -- if I start complaining about anything under the sun, throw me out of the business.


HOLMES: Thanks for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Michael Holmes. "Stanley Tucci: Searching For Italy," up next. I'll see a bit later.