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Thousands of Flights Canceled Amid Storms and Covid; Schools Grapple with Return to Classes; CDC Expected to Clarify Guidelines; Dr. Carlos del Rio is Interviewed about CDC Guidelines; January 6th Committee Claims Firsthand Knowledge about Trump's Actions. Aired 9- 9:30a ET

Aired January 03, 2022 - 09:00   ET



NADIA POPOVICI, HOCKEY FAN WHO SPOTTED CANCEROUS MOLE ON HAMILTON: And grateful to have been able to do this (ph) this (ph) together (ph).

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, look, I know it means the world to you. For Red, it means his life. And so I know that he and his family are super grateful.

Thanks to both of you for being with us this morning. Truly "The Good Stuff."

POPOVICI: Thank you.


BERMAN: See ya.

HAMILTON: And you again, Nadia.

BERMAN: That's wonderful.

POPOVICI: Thank you.

BERMAN: CNN's coverage continues right now.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: A very good Monday morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto.


As America gets back to work and school after the holidays, experts say omicron is everywhere. Just take a look at this. On the map, this map shows what cases across the U.S. look like just one month ago. On the right there you see what it looks like today. But despite the faster spread of omicron, hospitalizations, while on the rise, are not climbing as fast as cases. And new data from the U.K. in South Africa shows omicron infections may not be as severe.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: In South Africa, where they had a major surge, but as quickly as the surge went up, it turned around. We can help that a lot by the things we talk about all along, you know, vaccinations, if you're vaccinated, get boosted, careful and prudent, wearing masks in indoor settings.


SCIUTTO: So, let's take a beat here in the new year. You do have some good news about omicron. It appears, based on a number of countries that it hit first, to cause less severe illness and also that it burns out pretty quickly.

That said, as we begin the new year, infections are still rising. You are seeing some school districts begin the new year with remote learning, though most are opening up.

There is also some good news in terms of treatments here. The FDA could authorize Pfizer booster shots for children aged 12 to 15 as early as today. And that's important because boosters have been shown to really sharply increase protection.

Now, the big jump in new infections plus winter weather has forced lots of flights to be canceled. If you're traveling today, I'm sure you've been seeing this, today marks the eighth day in a row that U.S. airlines have been forced to cancel at least 1,000 flights.

Let's begin with what we're seeing in travel at U.S. airports, particularly on the East Coast this morning. CNN aviation correspondent Pete Muntean, he's live at Reagan National Airport.

So, Pete, you've got a couple things going on here. You have some winter weather, particularly around where we are, but you also have some good news, it seems, regarding how Covid is impacting airlines. And we're going to start with Pete then go to Chad Myers at the Weather Center.

But first with you, Pete.

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: You know, a bit of a double whammy here, Jim. You know, airlines were just starting to see maybe the other side of these omicron triggered flight cancellations because of flight crew shortages, and now this snowstorm has hit. You've seen the snow come down pretty good here at Reagan National Airport. In fact, about 30 percent of all flights have been canceled here, the most flight cancellations in the country right here at Reagan National Airport. Also big cancellations at Dulles and at BWI and at LaGuardia in New York.

Just look at the numbers here, about 1,800 flight cancellations so far across the country. Likely that number is going to go up. We've seen about 10 percent of cancellations at Southwest Airlines of its schedule, another 10 percent at SkyWest. That's one of those regional airlines that operates flights for Delta, American and United. About 13 percent of flights at JetBlue, which operates flights up and down the East Coast, especially with New York hubs.

You know, airlines say that they have seen these omicron related cancellations because of flight crew shortages actually stay about the same for the last few days, although we saw about 5,000 cancellations over the weekend, 15,000 cancellations -- actually closer to 17,000 cancellations we have seen since Christmas Eve. So, really, this has put airlines in a tough spot and a lot of passengers in the lurch.

This was going to be a really big day for holiday air travel, Jim, but TSA anticipated more than 2 million people would pass through security at airports across the country as everyone begins coming home all at once.

GOLODRYGA: And, of course, Chad, the weather is not helping. And we know that 20 million people are now currently under winter storm watches and warnings.

Where is the weather the worst right now?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Just south of D.C., over to about Atlantic City. So that line there. But the heaviest snow that's already fallen, that's like in the Blue Ridge and in the Piedmont of North Carolina. And the winds are blowing 30 to 40 miles per hour. So, even some whiteout conditions, hard to drive, let alone fly through some of.

You know, and a lot of these airlines are going to be in the wrong place because the one that was canceled that was going to D.C., was supposed to go somewhere else, even to L.A., but that plane's not there and so, you know, even though you have great weather out west, that doesn't mean that these planes are going to get back on track any time soon.

There is the heavy snow. Look for the purple. The purple area here, that's where the heaviest snow is falling between two and three inches of snow per hour, and that could fall for two or three more hours.


So you can do some quick math and see how quickly that could add up.

Some of the morning models that I looked at had well over 12 to 14 inches of snow in some spots across the Delmarva, like eastern shore of Maryland and on up even toward parts of Delaware.

Now, this is what's going to happen here for the next couple of hours. This is where we are now. By noon, the snow is still coming down in many spots but it's going to begin to start to pull away by 4:00 this afternoon. By 4:00 we're going to begin to see New England, Long Island, all the way through the Jersey Store still have heavy snow, but most of what's been affected here to the west is just going to get cold. Cold behind the snow. And even, yes, still about six more inches maybe to go in some spots. Could be eight more inches to go.

But the big story here is what's happened behind the snow. Bianna, it was raining, then it was sleeting, then it was snowing, and now our temperatures are 25 to 30 degrees colder than they were at this time yesterday. And that's causing those roads to freeze up.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, that snap happened quickly.

Pete Muntean and Chad Myers, thank you so much.

Well, as some schoolchildren will have the day off and enjoy a snow day, this morning the rise in new infections, especially among children, is forcing some schools in the country to start the new school year remotely.

SCIUTTO: But, big picture, most are opening up.


SCIUTTO: That's good news. New York City, one of the largest in the country. And despite a warning, or request, from one of the largest teachers union, Mayor Eric Adams says, no, schools are going to open up. They're going to remain in person.

CNN's Erica Hill following all this.

Erica, listen, New York has seen one of the biggest spikes in the country here. How are they managing to keep kids in school in the midst of this?

ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they are. They're seeing that spike in cases. They're seeing a spike in positivity, Jim. But what they're relying on are the mitigation measures that are already in place. So, obviously, the masking, the cleaning of the schools, but also enhanced testing here in New York City.

As you mentioned, this is the nation's largest school district. Nearly a million public school students in New York City, they are back to school today. The mayor has been very clear, he believes the best place for kids to be is in school.

Take a listen to him just a few minutes ago here in the Bronx.


MAYOR ERIC ADAMS (D), NEW YORK CITY: The safest place for our children is in a school building. And we are going to keep our schools open and ensure that our children are safe in a safe environment. Schools play a role of safety and stability for our children. And that is why the chancellor and I and the entire team of educators across this city, we have been so focused on keeping our schools open.


HILL: So that was the mayor just a few moments ago here in the Bronx.

Now, in terms of testing, how are they going to keep the schools open, this is really what they're relying on, Jim and Bianna, 1.5 million tests have been distributed. Every public school in New York City has rapid tests that they can send home with staff and with students who may have been exposed so that they can do that testing. Then they'll be required to test again five days later. This is part of that program we're hearing about around the country about testing to keep children in school. They did also encouraged students to be tested before returning, but that wasn't a requirement.

There are concerns about staffing, as you pointed out. The president of the teacher's union here actually sent a letter to the mayor yesterday advising that they return to remote learning on a temporary basis over concerns about staffing. The mayor said, we are moving forward. Michael Mulvey, the president of that union, saying again this morning, there are concerns about staffing. We know of one school in the city that did have to close today because of staffing. We're told -- Michael Mulvey saying he thinks that school should be open. But, again, we'll watch and see how this goes. But, so far, the assistant principal here says she's feeling pretty confident about coming back to school today.

SCIUTTO: Yes, I'm sure a lot of parents welcoming that as well.

Erica Hill, thanks so much.

And, by the way, at the top of the next hour we're going to speak with Michael Mulvey, the head of that New York teacher's union, who asked the mayor to go remote. The mayor, of course, refused. We'll press on those issues.

GOLODRYGA: Well, the CDC is expected to clarify its isolation guidance for fully vaccinated people who test positive for Covid but are asymptomatic.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: There has been some concern about why we don't ask people at the five-day period to get tested. That is something that is now under consideration. There may be an option in that, that testing could be a part of that. And I think we're going to be hearing more about that in the next day or so from the CDC.


SCIUTTO: CNN's senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is following.

And, Elizabeth, normally when Dr. Fauci says there could be something, he's been in these conversations, that mean something's about to happen. So, what do we expect to happen? What will that mean for folks?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. You're right about that, Jim. So it will be interesting to see, does the CDC, a, require testing to get out of isolation. In other words, if you have Covid and you're isolated, you have to get tested to get out of isolation. Will there be a distinction between those who are vaccinated and those who are not.

[09:10:04] And, also, will there be a distinction between essential workers versus people who aren't essential workers. We saw what happened, for example, with airline slowdowns when essential workers got sick.

So, let's take a look at what the guidance is now. Right now, if you have tested positive for Covid, but you don't have symptoms or if you had symptoms but they're starting to resolve, five-days isolation is the CDC guidance and wear a mask for five days after that and no test is necessary to end that isolation. So, again, it will be interesting to see if the CDC does ask for a test.

It will also be interesting to see that distinction. You know, for health care workers, they have a completely different set of guidelines. And, essentially, hospitals are allowed to do what they want. If they see a real shortage, they can get rid of all these guidelines and do what they think is necessary. Will the CDC go in that direction for other kinds of essential employers?

Jim. Bianna.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, it really is a delicate balance. You've got to keep society and the economy open, but, obviously, you want to keep these hospitals in a place where they're not inundated with cases as well.

COHEN: Right.

GOLODRYGA: Elizabeth Cohen, thank you so much.

Well, here to discuss is Dr. Carlos del Rio. He's the executive associate dean at Atlanta's Emory University School of Medicine.

Good morning. Happy New Year to you, Doctor.

So it has been a bit confusing for many people over the past few weeks, these CDC guidelines that have been coming out. Do you think that they need to be updated and do you support this idea of possibly testing after those first five days?


Yes, indeed, there has been a lot of confusion and I think, you know, Elizabeth explained it fairly well.

In my opinion, one of the differences that should have been there is whether you're vaccinated and even boosted or not vaccinated. If you're unvaccinated, I think the ways we need to think about isolation are a little different than if you've already been vaccinated. If you're vaccinated and boosted, you know, probably after five, six days you may be totally fine and ready to go, you know, back to your usual life if you have no symptoms or mild symptoms, if you have no fever, you're feeling OK.

The problem with that in testing is that some of the testing, for example, rapid antigen testing is likely going to be positive by day five and day six. Maybe by day seven you'll turn negative. So if you wait until day seven, you're pretty much gone at the day seven level. And that's where -- you know, that's what the Brits said. The Brits initially said not five days but seven days.

So I think, you know, if you go to five days plus testing, you're pretty much going to be actually looking at seven days.

SCIUTTO: Dr. del Rio, so let's talk big picture about omicron for a moment because the data increasingly show that it causes less severe illness, though it is more transmissible. Should people at home take comfort in that?

DEL RIO: Well, Jim, I think if you are, again, vaccinated and even if you're vaccinated and boosted, you know, omicron will pretty much be a cold, you know, a respiratory illness, an upper respiratory illness. The virus appears to be much more infectious in the upper respiratory tract than in the lower respiratory tract in that it will be like a bad cold.

Now, if you are not vaccinated, you may still get pretty sick with it. The problem is we're seeing still a significant number of people getting admitted to hospitals, and in particular children. I think the number of children going to hospitals is going up quite a bit and that's something we all are concerned about.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, that has been a bit alarming for parents across the country. And it's something that the former head of the FDA addressed over the weekend, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, gave his thoughts as to why he thinks we are seeing that spike in cases among children.

Let's take a listen.


DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB, FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER: It does appear now, based on a lot of experimental evidence that we've gotten just in the last two weeks, that this is a milder form of the coronavirus. It appears to be more of an upper airway disease than a lower airway disease. That's good for most Americans. The one group that that may be a problem for is very young kids - very young children, toddlers, who have trouble with upper airway infections. And you're, in fact, seeing more croup like infections and bronchitis in New York City among children.


GOLODRYGA: And what stands out there is that toddlers aren't able to get a vaccine at this point yet. So, for parents that have dealt with these types of issues before Covid came on the horizon, how alarmed should they be and when should they take their child to the doctor?

DEL RIO: Well, Bianna, I think that, you know, parents are rightly concerned about it, but I will emphasize that the chances of a kid ending up in the hospital after getting Covid is much lower than that of getting into a hospital with other respiratory viruses, such as, you know, respiratory syncytial virus or even influenza. So while I would be concerned, I will just say that what parents need

to do, and I have two, you know, young granddaughters who are both under the age of two, so they're not vaccinated, and we advise that, keep the adults around them vaccinated, prevent them from getting into situations in which there will be a lot of exposure, you know, going to places that are very crowded, et cetera. And then, you know, if they get infected, they may develop a fever. If they start developing respiratory signs, such as a, you know, croup-like symptoms, the breathing comes hard, the baby has trouble breathing, the baby has a lot of cough, that suggests more of the -- a lower respiratory infection than upper respiratory infection.



DEL RIO: And at that point in time is when should take the kid to the ER.

But before that, I would strongly encourage you not to take them to the emergency room just because they have a fever or a cold-like symptom because that's really not necessary. And, again, the ERs are pretty inundated with patients right now.

SCIUTTO: And that's notable for you to say, that the incidence of hospitalizations among folks with -- the kids with this kind of infection, similar to -- with others during regular flu seasons.

Dr. Carlos del Rio, thanks so much, as always.

DEL RIO: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Coming up next, the January 6th panel says it has, quote, significant testimony, about what former President Trump was doing and not doing as his supporters attacked the Capitol. Details on the pleas from his daughter, Ivanka, to stop the violence.

GOLODRYGA: Plus, President Biden says the U.S. is ready to, quote, respond decisively, if Russia invades Ukraine. What he told the Ukrainian president ahead of a critical meeting between U.S. and Russian officials.

And, later, two people are still missing after a wildfire tore through parts of Colorado. We'll take you there live.



SCIUTTO: As the nation prepares to mark the sad one-year anniversary of the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol, let's take a look at where we were one year ago today on January 3, 2021.

The red flags were already there three days before the insurrection. U.S. Capitol Police had shared an internal intelligence bulletin warning of possible violence. According to "The Washington Post," the memo said, quote, unlike previous post-election protests, the targets of the pro-Trump supporters are not necessarily the counter protesters, as they were previously, but rather Congress itself.

GOLODRYGA: One year ago today, the Department of Defense confirmed with Capitol Police that there was no request for support and the acting defense secretary met with select cabinet members to discuss the potential of future support needed.

It was also on January 3, 2021, that then President Donald Trump held some key meetings, one with then Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and former DOJ Official Jeffrey Clark. It was called an apprentice-style showdown according to testimony from top officials with Trump opening the three-hour meeting by saying, quote, one thing we know is you, Rosen, aren't going to do anything to overturn the election.

The House committee investigating exactly what happened January 6th says that they have firsthand significant testimony that the White House, quote, had been told to do something during the insurrection, that former President Trump ignored those pleas.

Here's Republican co-chair Liz Cheney.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): The committee has firsthand testimony now that he was sitting in the dining room next to the Oval Office watching the attack on television as -- as the assault on the Capitol occurred.

Members of his staff were pleading with him to go on television, to tell people to stop. We know Leader McCarthy was pleading with him to do that. We know members of his family -- we know his daughter -- we have firsthand testimony that his daughter, Ivanka, went in at least twice to ask him to please stop this violence.


SCIUTTO: Joining us now, CNN special correspondent Jamie Gangel.

And, Jamie, what's remarkable here is that it appears that it is well documented now, the former president's inaction that day for a number of hours, from multiple sources, firsthand sources.

You have new reporting. What are you learning?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: So -- so, first of all, let's just put it out there, this is bad news for Donald Trump.

So, in addition to what Congresswoman Cheney said, a person with knowledge of the investigation has told me that the January 6th committee has information from multiple sources with firsthand knowledge, so not just one source, and that these sources describe what President Trump, as you said, was saying, doing and not doing during the riot.

The source said, quote, there's a collection of people with relevant information. Translation? Firsthand indicates someone with direct contact or knowledge. It could be someone who was in the room, someone on the phone, someone with just direct, firsthand information. Bottom line, the committee has broken through Trump's wall.


And, Jamie, do you have any indication as to who some of these people might be?

GANGEL: So, we don't know about a lot of people. More than 300 people have testified. But there's one witness who has publicly given a deposition to the committee, and that's Keith Kellogg, former Vice President Mike Pence's national security adviser, who was actually with Trump in the White House when the riot was going on. The national security adviser, the normal one, Robert O'Brien, was on the road. So Kellogg was filling in.

And our colleague, Alex Marquardt, reached out to Kellogg, who told him, he confirmed that he testified under oath to the January 6th committee. He is cooperating. But he declined to comment about the substance of his deposition.

Just for context, Kellogg is an interesting witness because he's considered a Trump loyalist. But he's also a retired general who I'm told takes his testimony seriously. Again, he was in the room with Donald Trump during the riot.


SCIUTTO: So this is a consistent message from the committee.

GANGEL: Right.

SCIUTTO: Why in particular are they underscoring this right now?

GANGEL: Right.

So, my understanding is this is part of the committee's strategy to let Trump know. They are sending a message that people who are in the room, possibly his inner circle, are cooperating. It's a warning to Trump, that even as some people like Steve Bannon are delaying, trying to defy the committee, the committee is still getting critical firsthand evidence.

And I would also say, it sends a message to others in Trump world that key people are cooperating. They should cooperate, too. That's not to say the committee doesn't want information, like the documents from the National Archives. Clearly, they do. But this is a warning to Donald Trump that pieces of the puzzle are coming together from behind the wall.

GOLODRYGA: Yes. And perhaps more people than he even knows have come forward and revealed information.

GANGEL: Absolutely. Absolutely.

GOLODRYGA: Jamie Gangel, fascinating, as always. Thank you so much. GANGEL: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Joining us now to discuss, Scott Jennings, he's former special assistant to President George W. Bush, also worked for a long time for Mitch McConnell.

Scott, always good to have you on. Good morning.


SCIUTTO: So I should note for our viewers that you, as well as your former boss, McConnell, have been -- have publicly condemned January 6th and also criticized Trump for his role in that. Although, of course, McConnell did not vote to impeach here.

I wonder, as you hear that reporting there about the pieces coming together, about at a minimum the president's inaction on the day of January 6th, are there enough puzzle pieces to come together in your view for the Republican Party, for the leaders across the board to step away from Trump?

JENNINGS: Well, it's a great question. I think the reckoning on this will come in 2024, if he seeks the nomination for the presidency again. I mean, look -- look, I voted for him twice. I'm quite pleased with most of the policy outcomes of the Trump administration. But what's become clear is that he violated his oath of office. And I think we already knew a lot of this. He did not act on that day to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. It is in his oath of office. And so, as a party, Jim, what we're going to end up having to reckon with here is, can you return someone to the White House, will you support someone going back to the White House, who, in a moment of crisis, chose to violate their oath of office? It says, to the best of my ability. And I don't think, based on this reporting and based on what we already know, anyone could argue that he acted to do his oath of office to the best of his ability.

GOLODRYGA: And, Scott, according to at least Liz Cheney, the answer to your question as to whether he can return to the Oval Office and become president again of the United States given his inaction is no. But it's not just from people like yourselves, or Mitch McConnell that we heard condemn those inactions. The days and the hours following the insurrection, we heard from Kevin McCarthy, now we heard thanks to Liz Cheney over the weekend saying that Ivanka Trump went in twice to tell her father to do something. And the same with Mark Meadows getting text messages from Donald Trump, Jr., having his dad stop it if he can, please. And yet just days and weeks after that, the situation seemed to change. Why do you think that is, and what message are voters and Trump supporters sending?

JENNINGS: Well, I mean, obviously, Donald Trump has stayed on his course and stayed on his message that the election was stolen. And he is the most influential Republican in the country. The grassroots of the Republican Party see him as the leader of the party and they are more inclined to believe what he says about this matter than, you know, anyone in Congress or me or anyone else for that matter. And so as long as that is the case, that is going to be the prevailing opinion.

It's not everybody's opinion in the Republican Party, but, yes, if you go out to a party meeting these days, you'll find a lot of people who not only agree with Donald Trump that the election was stolen, but believe, you know, he should be returned to the presidency.

Now, I assume we're going to have a big primary about this in 2024. If I had to put money on it today, I'd say Trump's the odds-on favorite to be the nominee. But surely somebody will stand up to this man and say, I like a lot of what you did, but January 6th was an unforgivable day.

SCIUTTO: So I suppose the question then is who, right? I mean over the weekend, Peter Meijer, one of the ten House Republicans who voted to impeach former Trump and now drawing ire from the former president and some of his supporters said, echoing you, at the end of the day, there's no other option right now in the Republican Party. It's a sad testament.

Is there really no other option? Handicap this if you can. Who could stand up?

JENNINGS: Well, I -- and I totally -- yes. Yes, of course.


JENNINGS: Yes, I totally disagree with the statement. I mean I understand his analysis, which, at the moment, if a primary were held it's obvious Donald Trump would be the nominee. But we have a number of people who could not only execute the same policies you loved about Donald Trump, but also not violate their oath of office in the process.


I mean you look at the governor of Florida, DeSantis. You look at Tim Scott of South Carolina. You look at Nikki Haley. You look at Ted