Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

Children Will be Back to School; President Biden Eager to Pass His Bills; Lawsuits Filed to Hold Former President Trump Accountable; No Done Deal Between U.S. And Russia. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired January 11, 2022 - 03:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and all around the world. You are watching CNN Newsroom. And I'm Rosemary Church.

Just ahead, a deal is reached in Chicago to get 340,000 kids back to school after a prolonged fight between the teachers union and public school district.

Critical talks between the U.S. and Russia in the all-out push to stop an invasion and potential war in Ukraine.

And the cost of the climate crisis billion dollar disasters are reaching record levels. And it's not just the price tag. New insight into just how bad climate change is getting.

UNKNOWN: Live from CNN center, this is CNN Newsroom with Rosemary Church.

CHURCH: Good to have you with us.

Well, a standoff between the city of Chicago and its teachers union over COVID-19 safety protocols is over. Teachers will be back in school in the coming hours and students will return to in-person learning on Wednesday.

A week ago, record high new cases among students and adults led to the union voting to start teaching virtually. The school district responded by canceling classes altogether. More than 340,000 students missed four days of school. The union said the agreement moves toward what teachers have been asking for. It includes the standards for when schools need to be closed.


PEDRO MARTINEZ, CEO, CHICAGO PUBLIC SCHOOLS: There are some really good things in this agreement. There are some really good things that are going to continue to strengthen and build on the procedures and on the safety protocols that we have put in place. Expanded testing.

Having a stronger effort around supporting our schools whether it's contact tracing. The initial investments in PP&E. The fact that even people from the silence came finally to support us with additional resources for testing.

MAYOR LORI LIGHTFOOT (D), CHICAGO: I will always be on the side of our children and their families. I was you when I was a kid growing up in my public school. I needed my school. My school made a difference in my life. I'm not standing here today without the support that I received from so many teachers along the way.

So many people who reached out their hand to me. We didn't have much but I knew that because my parents knew that education was a great equalizer. And I'm living proof of that.


CHURCH (on camera): Ismael El-Amin is the chair of the local Chicago school council and has two children in elementary school. A six and eight-year-old. He joins me now from Chicago. Good to have you with us.


CHURCH: I'm good. So, a deal has now been reached with Chicago's mayor announcing that teachers will be back in class Tuesday and students should return Wednesday. What is your reaction to that decision as a father to two young kids?

AL-AMIN: Certainly, relief that we know what is coming. Part of the struggle has been waiting for these late-night announcements what's going to be our process for tomorrow and the next day and the following week. So, it's good to know that a decision has been reached.

CHURCH: And of course, American schools, hence, schools indeed across the globe have been struggling with reopening plans in the midst of this highly contagious Omicron variant. How much do you worry that in just a matter of weeks from now your kids might be back to remote learning along with the other 340,000 Chicago kids who have had classes canceled for four days now?

AL-AMIN: It's definitely something that's on every parent's mind. The late November and early December issues were after Thanksgiving break. We had a lot of students that were bringing in the virus into the school and we had to go into the protocol for containment and quarantine and parents who are sort of in a reactionary mode just adjusting to the virus.

CHURCH: If teachers are fully vaccinated and wearing KN95 masks, why do you think that they have viewed this as a safety issue given, we have all the tools available to us now unlike last year? And of course, in early 2020?


AL-AMIN: So, early 2021 when the discussion was being had how the early handling of COVID return was going to be prior to the worldwide access to the vaccine, there was a lot of discussion on when we would be safe enough to enter the building from a teachers and staff point of view.

I think the difference now is that the vaccine is available to youth as well five and up. And now they're looking at what is the new level of secure for the vaccine rate of the children. And the Omicron virus is, as you mentioned, is a lot different than what we've seen last year as well.

CHURCH: Yes, of course. Unfortunately, a lot of parents have been reluctant to get to their kids these vaccines. But I want you to talk to us about how difficult it's been for you, your wife, and your children.

AL-AMIN: Sure. So, we have a six and an eight-year-old. My wife and I both work nine to five and also, we have three-year-old young, too young to go to school at this time. So, our house is a zoo at this point. You know, we have all different varieties of meltdowns and people wanting attention and we are tied to our laptops or in the middle of calls and have to turn into cafeteria workers and custodians and sometimes just be a friend to harness the energy of these children.

It's definitely been frustrating and an adjustment. We don't have our usual outlets of visiting friends and family, and you know, maybe just taking them for a walk to the park. Taking them for a break to the grocery store. You know, it's just a different time for a lot of families. And we are fortunate to kind of stay on top of this. And I know a lot of families are struggling with a lot worse scenarios than what we have.

CHURCH: Yes. I mean, a lot of single parents really don't know what to do throughout this situation. And of course, now as we were discussing we do have all of the tools available to us. So, do you understand where some of these teachers are coming from when they are reluctant to step into a classroom with 30 or so kids? Some who may be vaccinated, some not?

AL-AMIN: Certainly. So, you know, beyond the student body, you know, we are also dealing with a school network citywide where you see a lot of different discrepancies between the buildings between the resources that the schools have access to. Even the age of the building, the circulation, you know, it all goes down to a lot of different things.

When you bring the children into the picture it's just added variables. You know, who spent what time at what house. How likely was it that this child has, you know, traveled to different family members and locations over the weekend? We don't know what's coming in.

There are efforts to get people tested, to get children tested, but that testing is only as accurate as the last place the kid visited. And it's just really hard to pinpoint our vulnerabilities in the state.

CHURCH: Yes. Every state and district every state within a state has a different way of doing it which doesn't help. But we'll continue to stay on the story. Ismael Al-Amin, thank you so much.

AL-AMIN: I appreciate it.

CHURCH: Well, the U.S. CDC is considering updating its mask guidance given how easily the Omicron variant spreads. The Washington Post reports the agency is weighing a recommendation that N95 or KN95 masks should be worn instead of cloth masks.

Experts say the three-ply cloth masks don't provide enough filtration. But some people don't like the KN95 or N95 mask because they fit snug and may seem harder to breathe through.

Well, U.S. health insurance companies will have to start covering the cost of at-home COVID tests starting Saturday. People can buy them in stores or online and have them paid for at the time of purchase or by submitting a claim. New government rules call for insurers to cover eight tests a month without a doctor's prescription.

The Red Cross and other health groups are warning that America's blood supply is dangerously low. Blood centers across the country are reporting less than one day supply of some types. Rising COVID cases, declining donor turnout, and staffing problems are some of the reasons for the shortage.

Officials are pleading with people to donate blood and platelets. Anyone who has received a COVID vaccine authorized in the U.S. can donate as long as they have no symptoms.

A deadline in the battle for U.S. election reform now is just days away. Last year, 19 states passed a total of 34 laws which made it tougher to vote according to the progressive Brennan Center for Justice. And that includes stricter voter I.D. requirements. Shorter windows forgetting mail-in ballots and new barriers for voters with disabilities.


Now the U.S. president is taking a tougher approach to passing election reform legislation despite two possible Democratic holdouts.

CNN's Phil Mattingly with our report.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He is quite focused on how ensuring the American people understand what is at stake here.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A White House sharpening its message.

PSAKI: The president will forcefully advocate for protecting the most bedrock American rights. The right to vote and have your voice counted in a free, fair, and secure election. That is not tainted -- tainted by partisan manipulation.

MATTINGLY: It launches its most aggressive push yet to unlock President Biden's agenda.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Those who stormed this capitol and those who instigated and incited, and those who called on them to do so hold a dagger at the throat of America and American democracy.

MATTINGLY: With critical priorities frozen in the U.S. Senate, Biden shifting directly to bringing the fight to Republicans. All as he pushes to secure two Democratic votes.

PSAKI: Everyone is going to have to take a hard look at where they want to be at this moment in history as we're looking at efforts across the country to prevent people from being able to exercise their fundamental rights.

MATTINGLY: Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will travel to Georgia Tuesday set to make the case for Democratic voting bills that expand voting options and implement sweeping federal changes to voting laws. All the Senate Democrats prepared to vote on both as soon as this week. But with a unified GOP opposition --

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: This is a takeover that Democrats have sought for multiple years using multiple different justifications.

MATTINGLY: Only one real path forward. A change to Senate rules. One opposed by Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema.

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): Being open to rules change, that would create a nuclear option, it's just very, very difficult. It's a heavy lift.

MATTINGLY: Both also not on board yet with Biden's $1.7 5 trillion Build Back Better plan.

MANCHIN: At the moment, I'm not going to talk about Build Back Better anymore. Because I think I've been very clear on that. There is no negotiations going on at this time.

MATTINGLY: Manchin's explosive decision to shut down those talks leaving the bill in the same limbo as voting rights.

At a moment, Biden's top allies on Capitol Hill are ramping up their own pressure campaign.

REP. JIM CLYBURN (D-SC): Joe Manchin has all the cover he needs to now step away and do what we need done. And that is provide the 49th vote in that vote. The 50th vote will come along.


MATTINGLY (on camera): And with President Biden and Democratic leaders really all-in on moving towards trying to change the Senate rules, one thing they are trying to avoid is a bipartisan group that trying to find some type of agreement related to voting rights. Now it's a scaled back effort, it's not a detailed effort at this

point in time but the administration has made very clear, they do not support that effort. So have Senate Democratic leaders as White House press secretary Jen Psaki said earlier today simply there is no substitute for the two proposals President Biden will be advocating for in Georgia and throughout the days ahead.

Phil Mattingly, CNN, the White House.

CHURCH: A U.S. federal judge asked him why former President Donald Trump didn't do more to stop a violent mob from storming the capitol on January 6th of last year. The comments came during a hearing on three lawsuits seeking to hold Trump, his son, Rudy Giuliani, and Republican Congressman Mo Brooks liable for inciting the insurrection.

CNN's Jessica Schneider reports.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: The first of these three lawsuits was actually filed 11 months ago. But they are now being considered for the first time from a federal judge who will answer the crucial question should the lawsuits dismissed or can they move forward?

If the judge allows them to proceed it would open up all of the defendants to sworn depositions and all kinds of discovery. That includes former President Trump, his son Donald Trump, Jr. Trump's former attorney Rudy Giuliani, plus Congressman Mo Brooks and members of the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys.

Now the people suing they include several members of Congress and capitol police officers. They contend that they were threatened by Trump and the others as part of a conspiracy to stop the election certification on January 6th. And they say Trump should be held responsible for directing the assaults.

Now Trump's legal team on the other hand, they are arguing that Trump can't be sued because presidential immunity extends to what Trump said on the ellipse that day right before his supporters stormed the capitol. But the judge in this case pushing back considerably on the idea that Trump is shielded from these lawsuits.


The judge repeatedly pointed out that while Trump asked the crowd to march to the capitol he didn't bother speaking out as the violence was unfolding. The judge noting that there was actually a two-hour window where Trump did nothing and did not tell his supporters to stop attacking the capitol.

If this judge ultimately decides that Trump shouldn't be shielded from this lawsuit because he was acting outside of the scope of his presidential duties, that would be significant. That means that Trump would likely be deposed and would finally be forced to answer crucial questions about what he was doing on and before January 6th.

Now this judge says that it won't be an easy decision but he will likely make that decision in the coming days. And then of course it could be appealed possibly all the way to the Supreme Court so it could take a while for this full issue to be fully resolved.

Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington.

CHURCH: Talks between the U.S. and Russia over Ukraine hit an impasse in Geneva. Coming up, we will look at whether talks with NATO can turn things around later this week.


CHURCH (on camera): Welcome back, everyone. Well, now to a critical week of diplomacy across Europe aimed at averting a new conflict between Russia and Ukraine.


U.S. and Russian diplomats met in Geneva on Monday. The U.S. wanted assurances Russia will pull its troops back from Ukraine's border while Russia demanded guarantees Ukraine will never join NATO.

Now CNN's Alex Marquardt reports neither side got what they wanted.


ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): High stakes discussions to pressure Russia not to invade Ukraine after almost eight hours of talks, the U.S. couldn't answer a key question whether Russia intends to draw down their 100,000 troops that are menacingly positioned all along Ukraine's borders.

UNKNOWN: That situation in Ukraine --

MARQUARDT: The Russian side warned of growing risks of confrontation and told reporters here in Geneva that Russia has no plans to attack Ukraine while complaining that their demand that Ukraine never join NATO is falling on deaf ears.

SERGEI RYABKOV, RUSSIAN DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER: We underscore that for us it's absolutely mandatory to make sure that Ukraine never, never, ever becomes member of NATO.

MARQUARDT: On Sunday, Secretary of State Tony Blinken told Jake that is not on the table. And Russia has a clear choice.

ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: There are two paths before us. There's a path of dialogue in diplomacy to try and resolve some of these differences and avoid a confrontation. The other path is confrontation and massive consequences for Russia if it renews its aggression on Ukraine.

MARQUARDT: Those consequences would be unprecedented expansive economic sanctions on Russia, as well as more military assets moving into Eastern Europe and Ukraine. While both sides emerged without any real victory, discussions did move forward on other issues. Including the positioning of missiles that point at each other and how the two countries could carry out military exercises with more transparency.

But it remains to be seen whether Russia is taking this diplomacy seriously or intends to invade Ukraine regardless.

ANDREA KENDALL-TAYLOR, SENIOR FELLOW, CENTER FOR A NEW AMERICAN SECURITY: We have to be prepared that Russia was using this week of diplomacy and especially the meeting with the United States as a pretext for conflict, that they very well may walk away from these discussions and to clear that diplomacy has failed.

MARQUARDT: Alex Marquardt, CNN, Geneva.


CHURCH (on camera): Jill Dougherty is an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and CNN's former Moscow bureau chief. She joins me now from Washington. Always great to have you with us.


CHURCH: So, no breakthroughs in these high stakes talks in Geneva. So where do you see all this going and how likely is it that a Russian invasion of Ukraine can be averted at this juncture?

DOUGHERTY: Well, the second question is almost impossible to say. I mean, if you talk to the Russians, they say we have no intention of invading Ukraine, so forget about that. But what we are looking at right now, you know, this is not as Wendy Sherman, you know, the deputy secretary of state said it wasn't a negotiation.

This was the two sides coming together putting out their positions each which each side knows very well and the Americans are saying, your -- Russia, your demand that Ukraine and other countries in that region can never be part of NATO is a nonstarter. It's not going to happen.

So, let's talk about some things that maybe we could agree on which would be, you know, limiting military exercises in Europe or limiting missiles, medium-range and short-range missiles in Europe. Maybe we could work on that.

But I listened very carefully to Sergei Ryabkov and his deputy foreign minister, his discussion with journalist this afternoon and what he was saying is, no, you can't peel away these individual issues. We want the whole thing. We want these security guarantees, as he put it, ironclad, waterproof, bullet proof, legally binding.

So, I don't think they got very far at all today. The Russians were saying, well, let's see what happens with the next talks with the -- with NATO and Russia and then OSCE, and then we'll figure out whether we advise our president to, you know, take the next step, have more talks or not.

CHURCH: Right. And of course, as the U.S. was preparing for these critical talks with Russia it was also signing off on a new security deal for Kiev. So how will all that likely play in efforts to avert war?

DOUGHERTY: Well, you know, Kiev, the situation in Ukraine is very, very complex. And so, what the Russians don't want obviously is for the United States to give more weapons, more military hardware or anything to Ukraine.


So that obviously would be something that Russia would be concerned about. But I think what, you know, the real difficulty here is that the conflict in the eastern Ukraine continues to wage on and it's not going anywhere. And that's all tied to what's going on in these negotiations.

You know, I think what I felt as I listened to Sergei Ryabkov it seems that the Russians are really feeling that they just want to tell the Americans what they feel, that there is a certain, I won't say hubris, but a certain almost glee and happiness that they are finally giving it to the Americans.

Ryabkov said we put our cards on the table. So, I think there's a lot of that kind of posturing. We are telling them what we really feel. But when it comes down to it you're getting a pretty much of, you know, a hard position from the United States.

So, I don't know where all of this goes because Vladimir Putin does not want to step down and he doesn't want to backtrack and that is a very difficult -- very difficult to see what you do if they don't return the Russians as Wendy Sherman has said to their barracks.

CHURCH: And Jill, as you mentioned, NATO will hold talks on Wednesday in Brussels with Moscow. What can we expect to come out of that given NATO's reach into Eastern Europe has been at the center of all of this as far as Russia is concerned?

DOUGHERTY: I think it's going to be almost exactly what you heard from the Americans today, which is, you cannot, you, Russia, cannot dictate what we do in NATO. If you want to talk about some objective issues yes, we're, you know, we are open. Again, the military exercises and the missiles in Europe but they are not going to budge on that and I think the Russians know that too.

So, the scenario that is worrisome is this idea that Vladimir Putin may be setting this up knowing that he won't get any agreement and using that as an excuse to invade. You know, I tried, I couldn't do it, they wouldn't agree, therefore I had to go in. Now, that obviously could happen or maybe it won't happen. It's very -- that's the hardest thing to judge, I think at this point.

CHURCH: Yes. We just don't know where this is. Jill Dougherty, thank you so much as always for your analysis. I appreciate it.

Well, we are tracking developments in Italy where the president of the European Parliament has died. David Sassoli was in the hospital for more than two weeks. he fell ill with what his office says was a serious complication with his immune. There are reports the Italian center-left politician was also treated for pneumonia in September. European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen says she is saddened by the death of a great European and proud Italian.

Still to come, Novak Djokovic says he is now focusing on playing at the Australian Open. But his participation may not be guaranteed. We'll explain why.

Plus, new questions about whether Downing Street flouted the COVID rules they told others to live by.

And China sends thousands of students to quarantine facilities. We'll go live to London and Hong Kong. Back in just a moment.



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): The world's top tennis player, Novak Djokovic, back on the courts in Melbourne Tuesday. Training for the Australian Open. As Australia's immigration minister considers whether to remove him from the country.

On Monday a judge overturned his visa cancellation. Authorities had revoked his visa when he arrived in Melbourne last week. They determined he did not qualify for an exemption from the country's COVID vaccination rules.

Earlier Djokovic tweeted this photograph saying he is grateful and wants to compete next week. Another win would give him a record 21 grand slam titles.

And for more on Novak Djokovic's case, we want to turn to Ben Rothenberg, he joins us live from Melbourne. He is a senior editor at "Racket Magazine" and the host of "No Challengers Remaining" podcast. Good to have you with us.

BEN ROTHENBERG, TENNIS EXPERT (on camera): Thanks for having me.

CHURCH: So, how likely is it that Australia's immigration minister will decide to throw Djokovic out of the country?

ROTHENBERG: Certainly they have made it clear they still reserving that right and still weighing the issue very carefully. Referring to a sort of due process and wanting to take some due diligence and time not to make a rash decision. But it will be potentially a pretty unilateral decision that is reserve to this immigration minister, Alex Hawk, who has this power under the Australian laws to overturn this decision fairly unilaterally by himself.

The question is will this be something that the Australian government wants to pursue politically? Is this a sign going to be seen as something expedient to do to keep pushing this Djokovic story which obviously has gone on longer than they would have wanted with more twists and turns? But the fact is in terms of where they got to are in the case now, the

victory that Djokovic won in his appeal was very much on procedural grounds. Not so much on the substance of if he's exemption really was worthwhile and should be accepted under the current federal Australian laws on vaccination.

But instead more that he wasn't given enough chance to contact the people who could assist him, while he was being detained at the airport. It was middle of the night, they weren't awake. Those are sort of sympathetic issues from the judge that gave Djokovic this reprieve. But not necessarily change in the facts of the cases as they are.

CHURCH: Right, and Ben, what's being said about Djokovic testing positive for COVID on December 16th but still attending a series of public events on that same day and the following day without wearing a mask while surrounded by children and adults. And what does that reveal about Djokovic?

ROTHENBERG: Yes. When Djokovic came forward with his version of events and came forward with documentation for a positive test that he took and also received results for on the 16th, myself and others are looking to see what he was up to at that time.

And yeah, he was, had a pretty full event schedule in the 16th for sure. And then on the 17th, he continued the next day when we had to think he would have notice results by now, you know, being at a trophy ceremony with children and his academy, the Novak Tennis Center in Belgrade, that is a big center he has made in his honor, posing for photos.

And then on the 18th, again he didn't interview with (Inaudible), the French sports outlet and also did a photo shoot with them. Not really doing anything in the, you know, sense of isolation that we all consider an automatic after a positive test at this point in the pandemic.


So Djokovic has real questions to answer their. And they certainly raised more questions about the whole timeline that he has brought forward here.

CHURCH: Yeah. Certainly interesting behavior for someone who is apparently infected with COVID. Ben Rothenberg, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it and will continue to follow this story, of course.

Well, China has moved more than 4,000 students into quarantine after roughly a dozen cases were found. The images posted on social media stunning. Students of all ages wearing full hazmat suits while being loaded on to buses. It comes as more cities have put on strict lockdown and mass testing is ordered for millions.

Meanwhile, there's new trouble for British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, over another party at Downing Street during the country's first COVID lockdown. A leaked email from one of his top officials invited staff to a bring your own booze party in the Number 10 Garden on May of 2020.

CNN's Anna Coren is in Hong Kong. But first let's start with Salma Abdelaziz, she joins us live from London. Good to see you, Salma. So what more can you tell us about this new accusation against the British Prime Minister?

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN PRODUCER (on camera): Yet another allegation Rosemary. This is really snowballing, spiraling, growing scandal around Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his administration's social gatherings that occurred during now more than one lockdown last year.

This latest allegation is a leaked email. A leaked email coming from Prime Minister Boris Johnson's senior aide, an email titled, "Let's get together and have a drink," essentially. I'm summarizing here but that was the idea, an email that went to about 100 staff for May 20th of last year calling for everyone to come and have a drink, bring your own booze, exclamation point, a very jovial spirit there.

Except here's the problem, Rosemary. The country was under its first lockdown at the time. Households were limited. They were not allowed to gather outside. The max was two people outside. And the official guidance for workplaces was clear, no in-person meetings unless it is absolutely necessary.

In fact on that very day because it was one of the warmest days of the year in England, the Met police tweeted remember the rules. If you want to be outside, be alone. Exercise with caution, remain at a distance.

So, there is a very clear issue here, Rosemary. The allegation being that Prime Minister Boris Johnson's staff, yet again are being accused of gathering socially despite COVID rules in violation of the restrictions that this very government put into place.

Now Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that matter is under investigation. He has refused to comment on whether or not he was himself in attendance at this bring your own booze party in May of last year. But again, Rosemary, it is not the first allegation.

There are allegations or Christmas Party scandals last year, plural Christmas parties and even the investigation itself has been mired in scandal. The first person that handle it, was the cabinet secretary, he had to step down because he's found have knowledge of one of this party as well. Look, Prime Minister Boris Johnson's very reputation, very credibility is on the line here and it keeps taking hits.

CHURCH: Yeah. That is what we are seeing. Thanks for that. And Anna, China has probably the most draconian measures in place putting more cities under lockdown. What is the latest on efforts to contain COVID and those images we are seeing of students?

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Yeah, those images that you saw of students that is in Hunan province in Central China. That is where the major outbreak is taking place right now. Two cities, (inaudible) and Yuzhou have been completely locked down. A total of almost 7 million people placed in lockdown, Rosemary.

But for Chinese authorities, the real concern is Tianjin which is just 130 kilometers, 18 miles from the Chinese capital, Beijing, which will be hosting the Winter Olympics just over three weeks' time. These locally transmitted cases of omicron that were detected within Tianjin, this port city obviously of great concern.

We know that there has been 45 cases reported there since it was first detected on Sunday. You're talking about a city of 14 million people. Tens of thousands of people from the city would travel daily to Beijing. They lived in Tianjin, they worked in Beijing. That fast train which would get people there within 26 minutes has been suspended. Most train services have been as they try to contain this.


But interestingly, Rosemary, it is only a partial lockdown in Tianjin. They are telling people they can't leave the city, they need permission if they do want to leave but this is their attempt to try and manage the outbreak and ensure that they ease no omicron outbreak before the Winter Olympics on the fourth of February, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Alright. Thanks to Anna Coren and Salma Abdelaziz. I appreciate it.

An American man is reportedly doing well several days after receiving a genetically modified pig heart in a first of its kind transplant. According to the University Of Maryland School Of Medicine the patient who is 57 had terminal heart disease and the pig heart was the only available option. Before the transplant, the genes that caused the human body to reject pig organs were removed from the heart and human genes that help the immune system were added.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted emergency authorization for the surgery 11 days ago. Doctors will need to monitor the patient for weeks to see whether the transplant works. Incredible.

Well, coming up, temperatures so low, boiling water could turn into frozen mist in seconds. The latest on the deep freeze sweeping the northern U.S. ahead.

Plus, from wildfires to hurricanes and tornadoes, the 2021 climate disasters that cost the U.S. billions of dollars and hundreds of lives. That is next.


CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Well, the climate crisis is costing the U.S. hundreds of billions of dollars. From hurricanes out of season tornadoes and nonstop wildfires the price tag for last year's weather disasters was higher than previous years both in dollars and human life.

CNN's Rene Marsh breaks down the numbers.

[03:45:07] (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): From a rare winter fire storm and historic drought, to devastating hurricanes and unusual late season tornado outbreak, and unprecedented snow and ice. The full range of billion dollar weather disasters seen across the nation in the past 12 months is now quantified in a newly released climate report.

2021 was deadlier than 2020 and one of the most expensive years, $4 billion weather disasters. That is according to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration. Nearly 700 people died in 20 separate billion dollar disasters. That is more than double 2020s deaths. The staggering economic toll totaled $145 billion. The new data crystallizes the human and financial impact of climate change now.

RACHEL CLEETUS, UNION OF CONCERNED SCIENTIST: It is an alarm bell and I should point out why we should have taken action years ago. Now absolutely we have to do this.

MARSH: The new report only captures the most costly disasters which is only about 80 percent of the total economic loss.

Hurricane Ida a deadly category four storm that slammed Louisiana and triggering tornadoes and flooding as far north as New York City was the most expensive. Costing the U.S. $75 billion. The winter storm that froze the Deep South, including Texas' last February was the second costly as the $24 billion. And the Western wildfires crossed the U.S., $10.6 billion.

CLEETUS: We cannot adapt to runaway climate change. That is why we have to sharply curtail are heat trapping emissions.

MARSH: In 10 years these disasters have cost the United States just over a trillion dollars. To put this in perspective that is double the cost of the currently stalled climate legislation. The climate provisions in the bill aimed to slash greenhouse gases by half of 2005 levels.

UNKNOWN: If the Build, Back, Better bill passes. Those are all tools to make sure that we are truly leveraging our dollars and our taxpayer dollars to have more communities be safer.

MARSH: FEMA, the Federal Disaster Response Agency is now doubling down on helping communities better prepare on the front end. Issuing grants for more weather resistant infrastructure. But climate change, it's also spawning unusual weather phenomenon and weather whiplash that is difficult to predict and prepare for.

Like this rear event in Colorado late last month. Flames fueled by warmer temperatures, drought conditions and 100 mile per hour winds were smothered less than 24 hours later by several inches of snow. Scientist say if we don't cut emissions, the root cause of climate change we are facing a losing battle.

CLEETUS: Let's make investments ahead of time so we are not just picking up the pieces.

MARSH: Well, the other part of the devastating impact of climate change in the United States is the compounding impact of the frequency of these climate events. In the 1980s these events were happening every 82 days. And now they happening every 18 days.

Rene Marsh, CNN, Washington.


CHURCH: And parts of the U.S. could see the coldest air of the season this week. New York and Boston ae expected to be in deep freezes, cold enough to freeze your eyelashes. Meanwhile the northwest is anticipating flooding over the next few days. Coastal Washington could see several inches of rain.

So, let's turn to our meteorologist, Pedram Javaheri, joining us with more on all of this. So Pedram, unbearably low temperatures and floods ahead. What are you seeing?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST (on camera): It's incredible. You know, across the Northeast the most densely populated corner of the U.S., we are talking about these very dangerous readings that will last for at least 12 to 24 hours in some of these areas. And these wind chills, -25, -30, -35 in spots, that's cold enough to lead to frostbite that can set in in as little as 10 minutes. This will cause permanent damage to your skin any exposed skin in these 10 minutes or so exposed to these temperatures.

So, really it speaks to how dangerous the air mass is in place across portions of the northeastern U.S. And climatologically we are is the coldest time of year but we are running about 20 to 25 below seasonal averages. And all of these cold air, if you take a look at the perspective, the 11:30 forecast into later this morning, 6 below. That is almost lunchtime.

We will feel like outside in Boston, New York City wind chills close to five degrees and again sets in place there for at least 24 hours. We do expect a warming trend to be restored back to seasonal average by Wednesday and Thursday.

But notice what happens. Friday into Saturday another round of arctic air potentially develops and the temperature trend goes back to where it started. Again, going from 20 up to 40 in New York and then before you know it, back down to 19, that would be Saturday's forecast high. So an incredible ride of temperatures over the next couple of days.


On the Western U.S., an incredible amount of rainfall here, 5 to 10 inches possible on top of freshly coated mountains here (inaudible) have this snowfall. The snow level on the rise, we are getting an atmospheric river pattern and it's kind of looking at the numbers across areas such as Seattle. Since the 1st of November, going from the 1st of November to January 7th, up to 67 days span, Rosemary, it is either rain or snow on 62 of those 67 days shows how wet it has been across this region. So any additional rainfall is going to lead to flooding across this areas.

CHURCH: Unbelievable isn't it? As we watch all of these play out, Pedram Javaheri, many thanks, as always.

Well this season's U.S. college football championship was a rematch of the SCC title game, but with a very different outcome. We will hear from the Georgia Bulldogs' coach and quarterback after the short break. Stay with us.


CHURCH: In the world of U.S. College Football Monday's playoff championship turned into redemption for the Georgia Bulldogs. UGA beat Alabama 33-18 after being clobbered by the Crimson Tide at the SCC title game.

CNN's Andy Scholes has more on how the dogs got their bark back.



ANDY SCHOLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): After the slow start, the 2022 national championship game between Alabama and Georgia getting hot late and in the end, Georgia finally able to get over the hop, beating Alabama for the first time since 2007.

And breaking the seven game losing streak to the Tide, coming at a great time as it delivered to school their first national title since 1980. Now for much of the game it looked like, it was going to be a typical brutal loss for Georgia at the hands (inaudible), but the team coming through in the fourth quarter.

Stetson Bennett, who walked on to Georgia's as a freshman left to play at a Jr. College and then came back to the school as a scholarship player. Making a huge touchdown pass to give Georgia the lead in the fourth quarter. Bennett two t-passes in the final nine minutes. He's now going to forever be a Bulldog's hero. This is a huge win for Georgia head coach, Kirby Smart, he beats his old boss, Nick Sabin for the first time. And in the process now owns a national championship.

KIRBY SMART, HEAD COACH, GEORGIA BULLDOGS: Ultimately it is those guys in the room, with the blood sweat and tears. And you know, 200 something workouts and 160 something practices. I appreciate them so much.

STETSON BENNETT, QUARTERBACK GEORGIA'S BULLDOGS: Resiliency, toughness, composure, you know, connection and I knew that those guys beside me had my back and I had their back to.

SCHOLES: And there are thousands of Bulldog's fans taking to the streets here in Indianapolis celebrating their title tonight. They have been loud and proud all weekend long. They wanted this title so badly. And now for the first-time in 42 years they can call themselves champs.

In Indianapolis, Andy Scholes, CNN.


CHURCH: Well done. Thanks for your company. I'm Rosemary Church, have yourselves a wonderful day. "CNN Newsroom" continues now with Isa Soares.