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Health Experts Suggest U.S. Transition to Living with Endemic Coronavirus Instead of Seeking to Eradicate the Virus; CDC Director Rochelle Walensky Receives Criticism for Confusing Recent Guidance on Quarantining when Testing Positive for Coronavirus; House Select Committee Investigating January 6th Capitol Attack Considering Asking Former Vice President Mike Pence to Appear; Kazakhstan Government Uses Violence against Protestors. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired January 08, 2022 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Happening now in the newsroom. The Biden administration is working to give reassurance to people as coronavirus cases are soaring.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: COVID as we're dealing with it now is not here to stay.
PAUL: Across the country, hospitals and testing sites are overwhelmed.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please do not go to an emergency room and tie up the resources of those individuals so you can get a test.
PAUL: And in one of the largest school districts in the country, fierce fighting between teachers and the district are keeping kids out of classrooms right now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel like I'm completely at the mercy of the what the union wants to do.
PAUL: New developments in the January 6th insurrection probe as the committee weighs whether to ask the former vice president to testify.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I kept coming back to the terror that must have been in the mind of the young man running through Satilla Shores.
PAUL: Life sentences for the three men who killed Ahmaud Arbery, the powerful words from Arbery's mother as their sentences were handed down.
A warning from Kazakhstan's president amid days of anti-government protests.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I gave an order to law enforcement agencies and the army to shoot to kill without warning. PAUL: What's behind the unrest, and where things stand now?
The details and the saga of tennis star Novak Djokovic currently detained in Australia in a standoff over his visa and his vaccination status. What we're learning this morning from newly released court documents.
Newsroom starts right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL (on camera): Good morning to you on this Saturday, January 8th. I'm Christi Paul.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Christi. I'm Boris Sanchez. You are live in the CNN Newsroom. We're grateful to have you.
PAUL: Absolutely. And this morning, there is some new drama to tell you about inside the Biden administration regarding its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky is facing backlash for her agency's COVID quarantine and isolation guidelines as the Omicron Variant causes their surge we're seeing in hospitalizations.
SANCHEZ: Yes. Health officials say the next month could be brutal. The latest CDC forecast predicts more than 84,000 Americans could die from COVID over the next four weeks. Hospitals already on the brink as ICUs are overrun with unvaccinated patients.
PAUL: Despite the surge, some state officials are pushing to reopen schools. Georgia governor, for instance, Brian Kemp has announced he is loosening COVID protocols to get public school teachers back in the classroom for in person learning.
SANCHEZ: Let's get to CNN Polo Sandoval for the very latest on COVID. Good morning, Polo.
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Boris and Christi. We are seeing businesses and workplaces throughout the country really reintroducing many of those measures that we have seen in the past to try to curb the spread of Omicron. And then of course the issue of school districts that you just briefly touched on there, there are some that are also reintroducing those measures, while some are actually loosening them.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
SANDOVAL: It's been a week of clashes, confrontations, and a lot of angst over schools reopening. Chicago, the largest school district in the nation with classes in limbo. That's because of a standoff between the teachers' union and Chicago public schools. The union insisting on virtual learning, while the mayor is pushing for schools to stay open.
MAYOR LORI LIGHTFOOT (D-IL), CHICAGO: I think we have made significant progress over the last two days, but I want a deal done this weekend. Our kids need to be back in school. Schools are safe. SANDOVAL: In Georgia, public school teachers who test positive for
COVID-19 but remain asymptomatic no longer have to isolate before returning to school with masks. And contact tracing in schools no longer required. That's according to a letter to school leaders released Thursday from Governor Brian Kemp and public health commissioner Kathleen Toomey.
And in New York, nearly 13 percent of New York City students have tested positive for COVID-19. That's according to sample testing for the New York City Department of Education on Thursday. Health experts say the U.S. needs to change its COVID-19 strategy to face a new normal.
DR. EZEKIEL EMANUEL, FORMER MEMBER, BIDEN'S TRANSITION COVID-19 ADVISORY BOARD: The new normal is the way we live with the flu, we're going to live with the coronavirus. It's going to be around. People are going to get infected. But hopefully few people will be hospitalized, and even fewer people will die from it, and we'll be able to go about our lives as we did before.
SANDOVAL: The FDA has now amended the emergency use authorization for the Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine, shortening the period of time between initial vaccination and the booster shot to at least five months for those over the age of 18. Meanwhile, experts say vaccines need to evolve.
DR. MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR INFECTIOUS DISEASE RESEARCH AND POLICY AT UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA: What we need is, first of all, improve on our vaccines. And you're going to see a lot of work being done to try to get us what we call the next generation of vaccines. Over the course of the next weeks to months there's a much more widescale availability of these very effective drugs if given early in the illness can actually greatly reduce the likelihood of severe disease, hospitalizations, and deaths.
So, if you combine vaccines and drugs together, I think we really can put a big dent in this virus not just in high income countries, but around the world.
SANDOVAL: Nearly two third of the eligible U.S. population now fully vaccinated against COVID-19 according to the CDC. And top health experts said in order to get to a place where the coronavirus is endemic like the flu, the U.S. has a lot to do.
EMANUEL: We have to get to a situation where what we're seeing from coronavirus is not big surges. We need many more people vaccinated in this case. We need additional therapies, not just the couple of oral therapies we currently have. We need to upgrade our air filtration system. We've got to get the prevalence down, and then we'll be able to get to a new normal.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
SANDOVAL (on camera): And just yesterday California became the latest state to activate its National Guard to try to help with testing efforts. We're talking about 200 service members, Boris and Christi, that you can expect at about 50 sites throughout the state of California. They will be essentially not only assisting with increasing the capacity but also backfilling for some of that permanent staff that is currently absent.
SANCHEZ: That testing capacity badly needed. Polo Sandoval, thank you so much.
PAUL: Polo, thank you.
Former Health and Health Services secretary under President Obama, Kathleen Sebelius, with us now. Secretary, good morning to you. We're so grateful you took time to talk with us.
KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, FORMER HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: Thank you.
PAUL: Of course. We wanted to begin with the growing criticisms of CDC director Rochelle Walensky. I want to listen to Dr. Megan Ranney yesterday, what she told CNN about the missteps we're seeing and who is responsible for the information about isolation and about testing that's getting out that is proving to be confusing for people.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. MEGAN RANNEY, ASSOCIATE DEAN OF PUBLIC HEALTH AT BROWN UNIVERSITY: I love the idea of her improving her communication style. It's certainly different as a government official than it is as a private sector individual, as a practicing physician. But I don't think it's fair to put all the blame on her. She could communicate perfectly, but the reality is when grow to the CDC webpage, this policy makes no sense. One of my friends said it feels like a choose your own adventure game.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: As former secretary in this realm, can you help us understand, or can you identify why two years into this pandemic there has not been a better crafting of this response?
SEBELIUS: I would start, Christi, by saying we are seeing a virus evolve in real time. And each phase of this is different and requires a different response and a different reaction. And so, the communication has to change on a regular basis. What we've had over the period of the last month when people were involved in holidays, Hanukkah and Christmas, and trying to keep their lives organized is a lot of information coming out.
And so, I would hope that Dr. Walensky and the CDC have a restart in January. And I would urge them to do daily press conferences, daily releases, because there is so much noise in this atmosphere. We have crank information coming from all sides. We have misinformation being willfully pushed on people. We have local and state governments disagreeing with -- excuse me -- the federal government. So, the CDC on a regular basis could become the public health information. Here's what we know. We do not have enough people who have had their
second vaccination. We have about close to 75 percent with one dose, just over 60 percent with two doses. And we're at 25 percent for boosters. So, while it's great to continue to urge people to get vaccinated in the first place, let's go to the willing, the people who have stepped up and at least had one shot, and let's get people fully vaccinated an get people boosted. Who is eligible for the booster? CDC needs to make that clear because that guidance has been changing, depending on which vaccine you got. That would be an important message.
What you should do if you think you've been in contact with people, that needs to be clarified. I went to the website myself, and it is a little confusing.
Wear a mask any time you're indoors. So, some simple things that we can do, and particularly vaccines are still free. Vaccines are available. Boosters are available. I think people are very getting very confused about the difference between the lack of availability of tests and the wide availability of vaccines and boosters.
So that can be clarified by saying it over and over and over again and trying to cut through the noise with one clear public health message I think would be really important in this day and age.
PAUL: And there's been a disconnect, and this in another one of the criticisms, between what the CDC says, and the White House says, as well. And White house officials, actually, who aided President Biden, his transition regarding COVID, are coming out and saying this just this week. The "Journal of America Medical Association" said "Without a strategy or strategic plan for the new normal with endemic COVID-19, more people in the U.S. will unnecessarily experience morbidity and mortality, health inequities will widen, and trillions will be lost from the U.S. economy. This time the nation must learn and prepare effectively for the future."
You made such a good point. This is a fluid virus. This is something that has changed over and over again. It was a learning curve for all of us going into this. But if you were in your secretarial position again in this administration, what would you say to the president today?
SEBELIUS: I think the president has been doing an amazing job with rapidly evolving situation. The former advisers who you mentioned who put out an article have opinions. They are not the White House. They are not advising the president currently. The head of the CDC is the head of the gold standard public health agency, and she needs to be a very clear voice of public health. State and local officials listen to the CDC, cooperate with the CDC. They track and trace disease. She needs to be front and center.
We also need to urge people to get a flu vaccine, for heavens sakes. We have been dealing with that for years where 50,000 Americans a year, approximately, die from the flu. The combination of coronavirus and the flu is really difficult for lots of already compromised individuals. So, as we're promoting vaccines, we need to throw in the flu along with this.
I do think while I have great admiration for the advice that we need upgraded vaccines, we need to be ahead of the curve, we need to look at new therapeutics, all of that is wise, right now we have to deal with this Omicron Variant, which is rapidly spreading across the country, transmissible, and focus on folks who can really arm themselves. Up to children down to the age of five can be vaccinated. Children over 12 can be boosted. So, let's get people fully armored against what we know is spreading right now and get information to people on a daily basis about what they can do, how they can take care of themselves and their family, how they can continue to work and be in school.
Because if we didn't learn anything Christi, what we know about last year and the year before, frankly, is that lockdowns are not good for anybody. Children have suffered enormous trauma just by not being in schools. We know that families go into a tailspin if the income is cut off and if they can't go to work. So, let's figure out how to keep people in school, keep people at work, and make them safe and secure as possible.
PAUL: I only have about 15 seconds, but I wanted to ask about children, because there is a real debate going on right now about in- person versus remote learning. We know that remote has hurt a lot of these kids, but you have to do what you have to do. Where do you stand on that?
SEBELIUS: I think as much as possible schools need to stay open and need to stay safe. So masking, testing, vaccinating and boosting is the way to go.
PAUL: Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, always good to have your insight and your perspective. Thank you for making time for us. Stay safe.
SEBELIUS: Sure. Nice to talk to you.
PAUL: Thank you.
The House Select Committee investigating the January 6th attack on the capitol is considering asking former vice president Mike Pence to appear before the panel.
SANCHEZ: Remember that Pence certified the 2020 presidential election despite the extensive pressure campaign led by former President Donald Trump and his allies to try to throw a wrench in the process. CNN's Annie Grayer joins us now. And Annie, what more can you tell us about this potential next step by the committee to call forth the former vice president?
ANNIE GRAYER, CNN REPORTER: The committee chairman told our team earlier this week that the committee wants to hear directly from Mike Pence, and here is why. Pence, as you mentioned, certified the presidential election despite a really intense pressure campaign from Trump and his allies to not do so. That pressure campaign, who was involved, how deep it went, is a key investigative thread of the committee that Pence can provide key testimony on.
Pence is also an important witness for the committee because he was at the Capitol on January 6th and witnessed the violence unfold that day. He also was at the White House in the days leading up to the attack and privy to some really important conversations that could shed new light for the committee's investigation. Now, Thompson tell us the committee is going to be meeting later this week to discuss next steps about how they want to approach Pence and talk to him. It's important to note that this is a voluntary request the committee is going to make. This is not a subpoena that's legally binding like the committee has done with some of its other witnesses.
In the meantime, while they are figuring out when they are going to be talking to Pence, which we know is going to be coming up soon, sources have told us that multiple Pence aides have been cooperating and providing key testimony to their investigation.
PAUL: So before we let you go, I know the community has said that they're not ruling out the possibility that Donald Trump's actions amount to a crime. Is there any clarity as to whether that is something that could actually be pursued?
GRAYER: The committee is really focused on what Trump was doing on the days leading up to the attack, and specifically on that day. We know that's a key investigating threat. Specifically, they are focusing on the 187 minutes between when the violence started at the Capitol and when Trump intervened. The committee says they have firsthand testimony from witnesses, they have text messages, they have documents on file that are starting to fill in these holes of what Trump did that day.
But it's important to note that's a long way off from being able to prosecute a crime, and it's important to note that the committee does not have the power to prosecute. That's not within its mandate. Its job is to write a report about what happened leading up to and on January 6th and investigate those facts. If along the way it comes across crimes in its investigation, it has to refer those crimes to the Department of Justice who then would decide if they're going to prosecute. In the meantime, the committee can put out legislative recommendations to prevent the attack from happening again.
But as you can see, the committee is far way off from being able to connect the dots between Donald Trump, a crime, and January 6th. But this is clearly a theme that members on the panel want to keep talking about.
SANCHEZ: Annie Grayer, thanks so much for your reporting.
So new details are emerging this morning about the world's number one tennis player. What court documents are revealing about Novak Djokovic and his vaccine fight.
PAUL: Also, how Russia is helping to restore order in Kazakhstan after the president of the country sent a deadly warning to protesters. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
PAUL: The president and first lady be in Las Vegas, Nevada, today to attend funeral services for former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The Senator died late last month at 82 after a battle with pancreatic cancer. The president, who served with Reid in the Senate, will deliver remarks, and former President Obama is expected to deliver the eulogy.
The Biden administration is warning of, quote, severe consequences if Vladmir Putin launches an invasion of Ukraine.
SANCHEZ: White house officials are considering tough sanctions. But some in the administration are concerned that Russia could retaliate, damaging the economies of the United States and its allies. CNN White House reporter Natasha Bertrand joins us now live. Natasha, walk us through the sanctions that the administration is considering using against Russia.
NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Boris, it's a whole range of potential penalties that the administration is considering right now. And those range from sanctioning Russia's energy sector, which of course is major part of their economy, to blocking them from the swift international payment system, to denying them access to bond markets, a whole range of considering here.
But the reality is that these sanctions are not going to be imposed, according to the administration, unless Russia does go ahead and move to invade Ukraine. So what they're talking now, however, is the fallout, the potential economic boomerang effect that this could have on the U.S. allies and the United States itself.
One of the major concerns here, and this was laid out in an analysis conducted by the Treasury Department and the State Department over the last several weeks, is that this could cause a spike in global energy prices, that this could severely hamper European trade and investment with Russia. And the kinds of economic penalties that the United States says that it's prepared to impose on Russia if it does invade Ukraine would be extremely severe and could have that ripple effect on the rest of the global economy. So the administration says that this is just good governance. They are trying to figure out the best way here to impose these penalties while mitigating any spillover effects. But they are concerned about the potential ramifications.
PAUL: OK, so talk to us about the ramifications, about how Russia might try to retaliate.
BERTRAND: They're particularly concerned about the Russian actions in cyberspace. The Russians obviously would want to impose significant cost on the United States economy if the U.S. and its allies did move to impose those sanctions. They have warned already to President Biden directly that it would be a huge mistake, a catastrophic mistake to impose those sanctions. So there are concerns right now, and they have been briefing the private sector, the government has, about the heightened risk of Russian cyberattacks against critical infrastructure in the United States that could significantly hamper our economy. So the private sector now watching really closely to see if there's any evidence of those cyberattacks happening as the situation escalates.
SANCHEZ: Natasha Bertrand, thanks for walking us through that.
Vladmir Putin, meantime, and the president of Kazakhstan discussed restoring order to the country in the wake of demonstrations that turned deadly, which started as a protest over rising fuel prices escalated into violent clashes. At one point the Kazakh president ordering security forces to shoot to kill without warning.
Let's discuss with "Washington Post" columnist Josh Rogin. He's the author of "Chaos Under Heaven, America, China, and the Battle for the 21st Century." Good morning, Josh. Always glad that you could join us.
In a column this week, you wrote that Vladmir Putin could not afford crisis in both Kazakhstan and Ukraine. And you've called for the west to take advantage of the instability in the former Soviet Republic. Why is Kazakhstan so important to Putin, and how does the west use it to slow his aggression in Ukraine?
JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, as you pointed out, we don't know exactly everything that's going on on the ground in Kazakhstan. The Internet has been cut off. There's no good media outlets that are left to remain. But what we do know is that Putin has got a problem on his southern border. What we do know is that he sent 2,500 troops to help the president of Kazakhstan crush protesters. And that should tell us something is that he really can't afford to let this country on his southern border get out of his grasp.
And as Natasha just pointed out, we're entering into tense negotiations with Moscow over Ukraine. That should change Putin's calculus. What I argue in "The Washington Post" is very simple, that we should make it tougher for him to have his cake and eat it too. Putin is going to try to crush the protests in Kazakhstan and start a war in Ukraine? That's a lot. Can he do it? We should make sure that he doesn't try, and we can do that by taking a tough line in negotiations and giving the Ukraine military a lot of weapons that they need. Not just weapons, other things they need to resist a Russian invasion. And the situation on the ground has changed. And that's a tragedy for Kazakhstan, but it's an opportunity for the west and for Ukraine to show Putin that he can't fight two wars on two fronts, and that he really shouldn't try.
SANCHEZ: Josh, in that piece you outlined an array of military weapons and support that the United States could provide Ukraine. I'm not going to list them all now. It's a long list. But you pointed out that so far what the U.S. has supplied in recent months in essentially two patrol boats. Why do you think that there's such a hesitation from the United States to arm Ukraine when clearly Vladimir Putin has aggressive intentions on that border? ROGIN: Right. I think it goes back to what Natasha just reported so
excellently is that the Biden administration is scared of what Putin is going to do back. They're afraid of escalating even further. They don't want to leave their European colleagues in a situation where Russia attacks Europe because we helped Ukraine.
I get that. That makes sense on paper. But what it leads to in reality is us just pulling all of our punches and not standing up to Russian aggression. And coming up with this crazy calculus, oh, well, let's give them three helicopter and not six helicopters. Or we'll give them the good radar but not the great radar because we don't want to anger Putin anymore, which is sort of like a crazy way to think about protecting the things we believe in and standing up for our allies.
So again, what I argue is let's just see Putin for what he is, as a thug who is trying to threaten us to giving him concessions, and then let's realize that his position is not really as strong as he wants us to think it is. And then let's strengthen our position and stand up for our allies. And by the way, we could also stand up for the things that we believe in in Kazakhstan, if we wanted to, which is to fight corruption and to support the people in their struggle for better agency and better rights, which neither of the two warring factions in the government there are providing them.
But that takes energy. It takes the Biden administration to put more time and effort into getting involved in this region. It doesn't seem like they really want to do that. And we'll see what happens when the Biden team gets to Geneva to meet with the Russians on Monday. And that's when this will come to a head. But my two cents is don't give in to Putin's threats and realize that all these strongman dictators talk big, but eventually they all eventually die. And that means that we should stand with the people in the countries and not the rulers.
SANCHEZ: Conceding to a bully often simply emboldens them. You mentioned energy, and I want to ask you about a specific kind of energy, and that is oil, and the relationship that Russia has with German and the way that Putin has tried to drive a wedge in NATO by leveraging his energy deal with Germany, the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, I don't get the sense that German, as a part of NATO, as a key western ally in this united front to keep Russia out of Ukraine, is eager to shoot itself in the foot by shutting down this pipeline in order to protect Ukrainian sovereignty. Is that a fair assessment?
ROGIN: That's exactly right, Boris. We've had this crazy situation in Washington for two years where we're trying to deal the Germans not to do the deal on the Russians on the pipeline, but the Germans are like, no, we want the pipeline. We're like no, you can't have the pipeline. And they're like no, don't tell us what we can and can't have. We want the pipeline.
And so it's a little awkward to be telling our ally that they shouldn't do something, and who we are to tell them they shouldn't do it. But the implications are clear, that if the Russian-German pipeline called Nord Stream 2 goes into effect, then Ukraine will suffer. Russia will have more power over Europe, and it's just going to be real problem that we can never fix and that Russia is going to will have more power over us than they did before. And that seems like a bad thing. And we'll have to see how the Biden administration and Congress deal with that.
SANCHEZ: It seems like a simple schoolyard lesson. If you keep giving the bully what he wants, he's only going to want more. We've got to leave the conversation there. Josh Rogin, as always, great to have you. Thanks.
ROGIN: Any time.
PAUL: So as schools across the country are struggling to keep up with the COVID cases and the changes and the fluidity of this virus, a superintendent in Boston is making headlines for stepping up when a school really needed her. We'll talk to her next.
PAUL: So this morning, the debate over coronavirus safety measures in schools is really taking a turn. The CDC reporting a record number of children hospitalized with COVID-19 here in the U.S. It's all hands on deck as schools try to keep students learning.
And I want to tell you about something that happened this week. The superintendent of public schools in Boston took that hat off, her superintendent hat off, and she put on the hat of a fourth grade teacher. That is her teaching the fourth-grade class. She is with us now, Superintendent Brenda Cassellius. We appreciate so much you being with us. And obviously, the work that you're doing inside the classrooms, I know that last week, there were more than 1,000 teachers and school staff members that were out. What was happening in that moment that made you to decide, that prompted you to say I'm stepping into this role?
BRENDA CASSELLIUS, SUPERINTENDENT, BOSTON PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Well, thanks for having me on, Christi. We have been dealing with this surge. And I was meeting with my team the entire day. And went into my car at 9:00 p.m. that night, and my chief of schools was still in the garage. And I know he leaves sometimes early because he gets up really, really early. So I gave him a call and said why are you still here? And he said I'm still trying to cover one school. And so I said, that's OK. I got it covered. I called up my chairwoman as well because that was the school that she went to school at when she was just little and said would you substitute the kindergarten, I'll take the fourth grade. And so we stepped in because it's all hands on deck here.
PAUL: Wow, it takes a village. So I understand that Boston public schools alone reported more than 1,170 positive cases since December 30th. Help us understand your confidence level for testing in your area right now. Do you have enough?
CASSELLIUS: We could certainly use more testing. Our state has been providing and working with us all year on school testing as well as test and state program here to keep kids in school. But yes, we need more tests available. We need our teachers to be included in those tests because right now vaccinated students and teachers are not included in those tests. So we do need some shifts in policy, particularly when we are in times of surge.
PAUL: How are the children holding up?
CASSELLIUS: Well, the ones I taught had a great day. And then yesterday they had a snow day, so that brought them a little bit of joy. I got some texts from parents of them sledding and making snowmen, and it was wonderful day for us here in Boston yesterday.
But I do think overall, the strain of the past two year have been very difficult both for the adults and the children. Particularly, it has been challenging for our high school children and our middle school students who have had significant isolation and dis-regulation due to mental health issues. And so we were fortunate here in Boston to add social workers to our teams. We had nurses in every single building. We have our counselling staff and our crisis team that we deploy. So we have just a wonderful set of educators here and school leaders who work every single day to make sure our children get what they need.
PAUL: Are you -- do you have a more permanent solution, I guess, at this point? Or do you anticipate that you're going to be going into the more classrooms for the foreseeable future?
CASSELLIUS: Well, we have been working our central office team. And I was one of many of our central office colleague who is are licensed to go into our schools. We deployed our central office team, so I can't thank them enough to be able to go in. We also deployed secretaries and accountants, and just all of our curriculum staff who went in and covered recess and school lunches time and gave teachers breaks during the day. So that is something that has been incredibly heartwarming and inspiring to see this week.
PAUL: No doubt about it. As much as this is keeping people apart, it's bringing us together in really unique ways. Brenda Cassellius, superintendent there for Boston schools, we appreciate all the work that you all are doing, and we're thinking of all of you. Thank you for being with us.
CASSELLIUS: Thank you so much, Christi.
SANCHEZ: Still ahead, the family of Ahmaud Arbery didn't hold back during the sentencing of the man who murdered.
Very emotional moments in court, and what's ahead in the case, after a quick break.
SANCHEZ: So after nearly two years of waiting, Ahmaud Arbery's mother says her family finally got justice after all three men convicted of killing her son were sentenced to life in prison. PAUL: Remember, Arbery, a 25-year-old black man, was chased and shot dead while he was running. This was back in February of 2020. It took the release of video of Arbery's killing, though, and national outrage for prosecutors to even bring charges.
Here is CNN's Ryan Young.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUDGE TIMOTHY WALMSLEY, SUPERIOR COURT, CHATHAM COUNTY, GEORGIA: Today the defendants are being held accountable for their actions.
RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Two of the three men convicted of killing Ahmaud Arbery sentenced to spend the rest of their lives in prison. Travis and Gregory McMichael received life without the possibility of parole.
WALMSLEY: After Ahmaud Arbery fell, the McMichaels turned their back to get a disturbing image, and they walked away. This was a killing. It was callous.
YOUNG: William Bryan Jr. sentenced to serve life with the possibility of parole after 30 years.
WALMSLEY: He had grave concerns that what had occurred should not have occurred. And I think that does make Mr. Bryan's situation a little bit different. However, Mr. Bryan has been convicted of felony murder.
YOUNG: Before reading sentence, Judge Walmsley paused for one minute.
WALMSLEY: I want us all to get a concept of time. And so what I'm going to do is I'm going to sit silently for one minute. I kept coming back to the terror that must have been in the mind of the young man running through Satilla Shores.
YOUNG: And the court heard powerful statements from Ahmaud Arbery's family.
WANDA COOPER-JONES, AHMAUD ARBERY'S MOTHER: I laid you to rest. I told you I love you, and someday, somehow, I would get you justice.
YOUNG: His mother spoke directly to her son and to the men responsible for his death.
COOPER-JONES: These men have chose to lie and attack my son and his surviving family. They each have no remorse and do not deserve any leniency. This wasn't a case of mistaken identity or mistaken fact. They chose to target my son. And when they couldn't sufficiently scare him or intimidate him, they killed him.
YOUNG: Taking aim at a defense attorney's comments during the trial.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His long, dirty toenails.
YOUNG: About her son's toenails.
COOPER-JONES: I wish he could have cut and cleaned his toenails before he went out for that jog that day. I guess he would have if he knew he would be murdered.
YOUNG: Arbery's family was clear, they wanted the maximum sentence possible.
MARCUS ARBERY, AHMAUD ARBERY'S FATHER: Me and my family, we've got to live with his death the rest of our life. We'll never see Ahmaud again. So I feel they should stay behind them bars the rest of their life because they didn't give him a chance.
JASMINE ARBERY, AHMAUD ARBERY'S SISTER: The loss of Ahmaud has devastated me and my family. So I'm asking that the men that killed him be given the maximum sentence available to the court.
YOUNG: Last November the McMichaels and Bryan were convicted of murder after chasing 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery in their vehicles while he jogged in the Satilla Shores neighborhood, killing him after they saw they thought they saw Arbery inside an unfinished home on February 23rd, 2020. It took two-and-a-half months before arrests were made after video Bryan took of the murder was released and went viral.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
PAUL: Thank you to Ryan Young for the report. We'll be right back.
SANCHEZ: We're following new developments in the COVID saga of world tennis champion Novak Djokovic. He is currently confined to his hotel in Melbourne, Australia. Meantime, another tennis star has left the country because of complications with her visa.
Djokovic's lawyers say he's unvaccinated, he tested positive for COVID last month, and that he was granted a medical exemption to play in the Australian open, but the Australian government cancelled his visa.
SANCHEZ: Let's get to CNN correspondent Blake Essig, who joins us now live. And Blake, where do things stand with Djokovic right now?
BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Boris, Christi, at this moment, nine time Australian Open champion NEW DAY has been detained by the Australian border force and taken into immigration detention pending his deportation from Australia. While Djokovic and others who have had their visas revoked are free to leave at any time, the men's world number one tennis player is waiting for an Australian court to decide his fate. That decision is expected on Monday.
While there's clearly a disconnect between Tennis Australia and the Australian government that has led to this current situation involving the world number one player, there are also a lot of questions regarding the medical exemption he received from Tennis Australia to compete in the Open earlier today based on court documents filed by Djokovic's lawyers appealing for him to stay in the country. We learned that the tennis superstar is not vaccinated and that he was granted a medical exemption by Tennis Australia on the ground that he had recently recovered from COVID-19 after testing positive for the virus on December 16th. On that same day and the day after Djokovic was photographed mask-less at events, those pictures were posted on social media.
All this being said, Boris and Christi, the Australia government told Tennis Australia back in November that unvaccinated players with a recent COVID-19 infection would not be allowed to enter the country based on public health guidelines, and seemingly that would explain why Djokovic wasn't or isn't being allowed into the country.
PAUL: All right, Blake Essig, you cleared it up for us as much as you can. We appreciate it so much. Thank you.
SANCHEZ: Thanks, Blake.
Before we go, we have got a special programming note. Be sure to catch Carole King and James Taylor in an unforgettable concert film. "Just Call Out My Name" airs tonight at 9:00 p.m. right here on CNN.
Thank you so much for spending part of your day with us. We appreciate you watching.
PAUL: We absolutely do. We know that it's a little dicey out there, so we hope you can go out and make some good memories today. Thank you for being with us. Fredricka Whitfield is up with you next.