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Gottlieb: Omicron Looks to be Milder, Young Kids in Most Danger; Thousands of U.S. Flights Cancelled Amid Winter Storms & COVID Issues; Biden Pledges Decisive Response if Russia Invades Ukraine; Twitter Bans Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene's Personal Account; Antonio Brown "No Longer a Buc" After Leaving Mid-Game. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired January 03, 2022 - 13:30   ET



ERICA HILL, CNN HOST: Do you agree with his assessment? And if so, how concerning is that?


I haven't seen an increased risk in toddlers yet, thank goodness. And my fingers are crossed.

But the way to protect the toddlers is to have all the adults and all the older children vaccinated, of course.

You create a cocoon of protection around them so the virus has a hard time finding them. That's the way to do that.

And we still have a lot of work to do in this country to get everybody else vaccinated.

HILL: One last question before I let you go. I know messaging can be confusing. The science is changing. That's part of it.

But we heard from Dr. Fauci that, you know, we could be hearing yet more recommendations, specifically that Americans test negative before returning to work right after a test, not just for the shortened protocol but adding that testing.

Do you believe that that's the right call?

SCHAFFNER: Well, I would say it would be a helpful call, but I have some cautions.

First, we're already stressed for testing resources, right? So that will be an issue very practically.

And each test, both the PCR test, the very serious gold standard test, and the rapid test have their limitations.

We need to understand them, interpret them clearly as we go forward, and use them more widely. HILL: Dr. William Schaffner, always appreciate your insight. Thanks

for joining us today.

SCHAFFNER: My pleasure.

HILL: Well, for folks who may be trying to get home still from their, perhaps, now-extended holiday, thousands of flight cancellations to tell you about again.

And that's a double whammy for airlines. First, they are dealing with staff shortages due to some COVID issues, as you've been hearing about.

But now there's major winter weather issues stretching from Georgia all the way on up into New England. Both of those joining together to leave passengers in the lurch.

Pete Muntean is joining us from Reagan National Airport.

This is a rough day, as we know. Lots of cancellations.

And it's not just the airports where the flights are being cancelled, right, where we may think about the winter weather that's the issue. There's a major ripple effect here.

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: A huge ripple effect, Erica. And 70 percent of all flight have been cancelled here at Reagan National Airport alone, the most cancellations of any airport nationwide.

But now the FAA is instituting a ground stop for flights coming here. Also to nearby BWI where about half of all nights have been cancelled there.

Look at the numbers: 2,600 cancellations across the country today alone.

About 13 percent of Southwest's schedule, 13 percent of the schedule at Sky West, which operates commuter flights for Delta, American and United, an important connection there.

And also 10 percent of the schedule at JetBlue, which operates up and down the east coast.

Airports are trying to clear snowy runways and taxiways and ramps as quickly as they possibly can. But there's already six or eight inches of snow on the ground. And it only stopped snowing a bit ago.

And airports are trying to get the message to passengers, and airlines to passengers before they show up here that their flight could possibly be cancelled.


DAVID SLOTNICK, SENIOR AVIATION BUSINESS REPORTER, THE POINTS GUY:: It's a tough situation right now. When it's winter, it's especially hard because that can happen last minute.

With the COVID cancellations, at the very least, a lot of those are happening a day in advance, sometimes sooner. But usually with enough time that you can try and figure things out, you know, before you're heading to the airport.


MUNTEAN: You talked about that one-two punch, Erica, United Airlines says about half of all of its cancellations right now are because of flight crew shortages because of COVID, half of them because of the weather.

We've seen about 18,000 cancellations in total going all the way back to Christmas Eve. About 5,000 over the weekend.

No sign of stopping any time soon, just yet though -- Erica?

HILL: That is rough.

Pete Muntean, appreciate it. Thank you.


President Biden is sending a new warning to Russia President Vladimir Putin. We'll have that next.



HILL: A pledge to Ukraine, a warning to Russia. President Biden makes his position clear. The U.S. and it allies will respond decisively if Russia further invades Ukraine.

CNN chief national affairs correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, joining us now.

Jeff, House Intelligence Committee chair, Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff, said he fears that President Putin is likely to invade unless the White House issues enormous sanctions.

So what is the White House prepared to do to Russia if, in fact, there's an invasion of Ukraine?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erica, President Biden has said there will be severe sanctions. In fact, he said that after a telephone call yesterday with the Ukrainian president. And he that's made clear that the U.S. will act decisively.

Now it's not exactly clear what those sanctions would be. Of course, there have been sanctions, many sanctions against a Russia in the past, against the energy sector and business sectors.

But clearly, the U.S. has made clear that if there's any type of move by those Russian troops -- there are about 100,000 or so of them amassed at the Ukraine border -- there will be action. The U.S. has had repeated phone calls -- President Biden had, you

know, throughout end of last year with European allies, all in lock step on this.


But this is going to be a major flashpoint, a major challenge heading into this new year for the Biden administration.

Starting next week, there are going to be a round of talks in Geneva, Switzerland, between the U.S. and Russia, officials as well, all aimed at NATO. Russia wants to avoid any expansion of NATO in the region.

So, Erica, with everything else on this administration's agenda and plate, Russia remains a challenge here.

The president said severe sanctions and left it at that. We don't know specifically what that would mean -- Erica?

HILL: Jeff Zeleny, appreciate it. Thank you.


HILL: It's an honor given to few statesmen. Former Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, will lie in state in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda on January 12th.

That's according to a joint statement from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Reid spent three decades in Congress, capping off his political career as the Democratic leader of the Senate. Reid died last week at the age of 82 from pancreatic cancer.

Still to come, Twitter finally suspends, one -- one of Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene's two verified Twitter accounts. Those details next.



HILL: Nearly two full years into this coronavirus pandemic and dangerous misinformation continues to thrive and surge. Social media companies still struggling to keep that in check.

The latest casualty in that battle though, the personal Twitter account of Republican congresswoman and conspiracy pusher, Marjorie Taylor Greene.

Over the weekend, Greene was permanently suspended for repeated violations of the platform's COVID misinformation policy.

CNN's Donie O'Sullivan joining us now with more.

Donie, what was the last straw here? DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It was a

misleading graph that Greene posted purporting to show data linking the vaccine to deaths.

Look, Twitter has a strike system where they allow politicians to spout a certain amount of B.S., whether it be about the election or whether it be about COVID.

And Greene has repeatedly violated those policies, and that's why Twitter took this decision, they say.

But important to point out that they did shut down her personal account, which is the one she uses the most. But she still has access to her congressional account with about 300,000 followers.

So it's not as if Twitter has totally silenced her here -- Erica?

HILL: It also -- I spoke to someone yesterday who said, does Twitter not understand the way baseball works? Three strikes and you're out, not five?

Why is it five?

O'SULLIVAN: I think these companies -- you know, right now, Greene is saying that Twitter is an enemy of America and is censoring her.

I mean, these companies really do not want to take this sort of action, right? They want people to be able to use their platform.

So, you know, I think Twitter, in the past, has also made the point that they don't think really it's right that they should be able to shut down the account of an elected official on a whim.

They think that even speech, however ugly it might be or how dangerous it might be, that people should be allowed to make those points and be held accountable for it.

But, of course, in this case, it got to the point, much like last year when we saw with former President Trump, that these companies, in this case, Twitter, felt like they had to act.

HILL: There we go.

Donie O'Sullivan, good to see you, my friend. Thank you.

O'SULLIVAN: Thanks, Erica.

HILL: Still ahead, new comments from the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after Antonio Brown decided to quit mid-game, walking off the field after throwing his shirt.



HILL: The NFL career of Antonio Brown taking another bizarre turn. After stripping off his jersey, the now-ex Tampa Bay Buccaneer made an exit, shirtless, mid-game yesterday.

CNN sports correspondent, Andy Scholes, joins us now.

There's really two threads here, right? There's what happened on the field and what his employment of lack of employment is today.

And there are significant questions, too, about whether he may need additional help and resources, Andy.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there's a lot of people concerned about Antonio Brown's mental health right now, considering what happened yesterday.

And there was some sort of disagreement on the sidelines that sparked all of this. Head Coach Bruce Arians said earlier today that he was not aware of any injury that Brown had. And Brown did not voice to him that he was hurt.

And according to multiple reports, the coaching staff say they asked Brown to go back into the game multiple times. He refused, so that's when they told him to leave.

And that's when Brown pulled off his jersey, pads, threw his shirt and gloves into the crowd before waving to the fans and heading to the tunnel.

And earlier today, head coach, Bruce Arians, said it is pretty tough how all of this went down.


BRUCE ARIANS, HEAD COACH, TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS: I wish him well. I hope if he needs help, gets some. And -- but I -- it is very hard because I do care about him.


SCHOLES: Now Brady is the reason that Brown joined the Bucs. After yesterday's game, Brady sounded pretty concerned about his friend.


TOM BRADY, QUARTERBACK, TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS: I think everybody should find hopefully do what they can to help him in ways that he really needs it.

And we all love him. We care about him deeply. You know, we want to see him be at his best. And unfortunately, it won't be with our team.

I think the most important thing about football are the relationships with your friends and teammates. And they go beyond the field.

And, you know, I think everyone should be very compassionate and empathetic toward, you know, some very difficult things that are happening.


SCHOLES: Now Brown did not fly home with the team but he has posted on Instagram multiple times since the game. One of the posts saying, "Thanks for the opportunity."

And been a very, very turbulent few years for Brown. His time in Pittsburgh ended reportedly with him throwing a ball at a teammate.

And then he was traded to the Raiders. And after barely participating in the training camp, he asked for his release and he got it.


The Patriots then signed him but he lasted just one game there after he was accused by his ex-trainer of sexual assault. New England released him two weeks later.

And this January, of 2020, Brown was charged with felony burglary and two misdemeanors for an incident with a moving truck company. He pleaded no contest and did not receive jail time.

The NFL suspended Brown for eight games for violating the personal conduct policy.

But in October, he got another chance with the Bucs and he played well, helped them win a Super Bowl.

But this season, he was suspended three games for misrepresenting his vaccine status. And now Sunday's actions leading his time with the team coming to an end.

Erica, you know, this was already considered Brown's last chance.

So after what he did, leaving his team on field like that, it is hard to imagine another team is going to take a chance on him.

HILL: It is interesting.

Really quickly -- I have about 10 seconds -- have we heard anything from Roger Goodell?

SCHOLES: Nothing yet.

HILL: All right. Andy Scholes, appreciate it. Thank you.

Thanks to all of you for joining me this hour. I'm Erica Hill.

Stay tuned. CNN NEWSROOM continues with Alisyn Camerota and Victor Blackwell after this quick break.