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Northern U.S. to See Coldest Air of the Season; Boris Johnson's Staff Invited to Party During 2020 Lockdown; China Puts More Cities on Lockdown as Omicron Spreads; Self-Closing Door Issues are Focus of Bronx Apartment Fire Investigation; Georgia Fans Celebrate College Football Championship. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired January 11, 2022 - 04:30   ET



ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR: Now, parts of the United States could see the coldest air of the season this week, cold enough to freeze, in fact, your eyelashes. Meanwhile, the northwest is anticipating flooding over the next few days. Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri joins us with more. That was quite an introduction. You could freeze your eyelashes. How cold are we talking? Good morning, Pedram.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Isa. We don't hear that very often. Right?


JAVAHERI: It is the coldest of the season and coldest in many years. And you know, with these wind chills, Isa, 30, 35 below zero, certainly going to be cold enough to freeze your eyelashes, but also very dangerous if you're exposed, outside exposed skin here within a matter of just minutes could receive frostbite and of course, permanent damage.

But look at the widespread coverage, of course, a lot of this across the interior portion of New England and the northeast. But 15, 25 below, and in some cases, again, 35 below zero. That's what it's going to feel like in the next few hours here as the winds howl and these air temperature sit closed to the zero-degree mark. But again, 10 minutes exposure to -30 windchill will cause frostbite and permanent damage to your skin. So, it is a very dangerous situation across this region. And then look at the time stamp, at high noon right around lunchtime. Around this period, even Boston, Massachusetts, will have wind chills down to minus 5.

So, as dangerous as it gets, a lot of people, of course, if they're out and about around these hours, is usually we see the coldest temperatures happen when you're asleep. And this go around this actually comes in the middle of the day where the coldest temperatures are in place and the winds are really going to be howling. So, New York down to around 6. Chicago will feel close to 4 degrees at this time and the trend continues for at least a 24-hour period.

But the good news is, it is going to be a short lived set up here. Temperatures go from 20 this afternoon in New York City, to almost 40. Which is where they should be for this time of year. Boston goes from 14 to 38 degrees.

But what's interesting about this, Isa, is this wave of cold air quickly moves out of here. Look at this. Look at that time stamp and going into Friday and Saturday, another round of arctic air drops in and potentially brings us right back down again, maybe even colder. Look at New York City. High temperatures on Saturday could be 19 degrees, slightly colder than where we are later on this afternoon. So, an incredible run of temperatures here.

SOARES: Get your thermals on. Pedram, thank you very much.

Now, America's college football championship has gone to the Dogs. The University of Georgia stunned rival Alabama on Monday winning 33-18 in Indianapolis. And Bulldog fans are loving it -- as you can see. It's a revenge for Georgia after a major loss to the Crimson Tide the UC championship. We'll have much more, of course, ahead from Indianapolis and CNN's Andy Scholes.

Meanwhile, still ahead right here on the show, we'll have the story of the British Prime Minister and the bring your own booze party while the rest of the country was under lockdown.

Plus, investigators in New York will focus on a couple clues actually as they look into one of the deadliest U.S. home fires in decades. Those stories after a very short break.



SOARES: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Isa Soares. If you're just joining us, let me bring you up to date with our top stories this hour.

In the coming hours, President Joe Biden will head to Atlanta to make a case for two new voting rights bills. But several Democratic groups are planning to boycott the event saying they want concrete action and not speeches.

Schools in Chicago will reopen today with students returning for in- person learning on Wednesday. This comes after an agreement between the Chicago teachers union, local officials including new COVID safety measures.

And in the last 20 minutes, a source tells CNN the Australian Border Force is investigating whether tennis star Novak Djokovic submitted a false travel declaration document ahead of his arrival in Australia. Now, pictures on social media taken about 14 days before his arrival show him in Serbia and in Spain. Of course, we'll continue to follow this story for you.

Now, 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 in May of 2020. The Prime Minister refuse to say if he attended. An investigation is already underway into claims that Downing Street held several events in 2020 despite, of course, local restrictions against them.

Let's bring in CNN's Salma Abdelaziz who joins me here in London. And here we are again, Salma, rule makers reportedly being rule breakers. Do we know whether the Prime Minister was involved here? And critically, where it's are we on the investigation front?

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: Very important questions, Isa. I think it's hard for the British public to even keep up with the amount of accusations, the amount of social gatherings that are now in question. So, this is yet another one as you mentioned. This is a leaked email, first seen by I-TV, but CNN's has independently confirmed the contents of it. Inviting 100 staff members, nearly 100 staff members to socially gather at the Downing Street garden in May of last year. It was written in a very jovial way, exclamation point, bring your own booze.

Here's the issue. The country was under lockdown at the time, Isa. Mixing outdoors for household, that was limited to only two people at a time. The official guidance for workplaces at the time was very clear. No meeting face to face until it is absolutely necessary. So, this appears to be yet another violation of COVID restrictions, of COVID rules.

And you mentioned that investigation. Well, that investigation itself, Isa, it is also mired in scandal. Remember it started at the Cabinet Secretary was responsible for investigating multiple accusations of other social gatherings, parties, apparently that took place during the holiday season last year when the country was, again, under strict lockdown.

The Cabinet Secretary had to be removed from that investigation, replaced by a senior aide because the Cabinet Secretary himself was accused of having knowledge of these parties, of being involved in some way. So far Prime Minister Boris Johnson with the latest accusation, this bring your own booze party, has said, he has refused to comment. Has said that the matter is under investigation.

But, again, Isa, this is just snowballing. It is spiraling. It is growing because Prime Minister Boris Johnson's very credibility, his very reputation is in question and it keeps taking hits -- Isa.


SOARES: Let's see where the investigation goes from here. Salma Abdelaziz there for us in London, thanks very much, Salma. Good to see you.

Now, China has moved more than 4,000 students into quarantine after roughly a dozen cases were found. The images posted on social media are stunning. Students of all ages wearing full hazmat suits while being loaded onto buses. It comes as more cities are put on strict lockdown and mass testing is ordered for millions. CNN's Anna Coren joins me now live from Hong Kong. And Anna, it's not just the COVID cases are up and restrictions being added in mainland China, but also in Hong Kong where you are.

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Isa. It basically is a situation where authorities are anticipating a fifth wave to hit Hong Kong. Hence today, the city's Chief Executive Carrie Lam decided that schools will be closed as of Friday for kindergarten and primary school students. This comes on top of flight bans to eight countries where there are significant Omicron outbreaks as well as other sort of social distancing restrictions.

You know, Hong Kong adhering to this zero COVID policy. But on the mainland in China, you saw those images of those schoolchildren being taken into quarantine. Thousands of them in Anyang city. This is in Hunan Province where the largest outbreak is happening. This is in central China. That city along with Yongzhou, another city in Hunan Province, complete lockdown.

But for Chinese authorities, Isa, their focus really is in Tianjin which is 130 kilometers, 18 miles from the Chinese capital Beijing which, as we know, is hosting the Winter Olympics in just over three weeks. That's going to take off on the 4th of February. Now, authorities will do everything in their power to ensure that there is not an outbreak of the Omicron variant in the Chinese city.

But we know since Sunday there have been 45 cases already reported in Tianjin. People have been told not to leave the city. They're going to need permission if they want to do so. But this is of grave concern obviously for authorities. They don't want any mishaps before the Winter Olympic Games -- Isa.

SOARES: Exactly, and you have the Lunar New Year just around the corner as well. So that's important, too. Anna Coren for us in Hong Kong. Good to see you, Anna.

Coming up right here in the show, the desperate search for answers. How a faulty space heater ignited a New York City apartment building killing 17 people including eight children. That is next.



SOARES: Now, authorities now say 17 people were killed, including eight children when flames broke out in a New York City apartment building on Sunday. The National Fire Protection Association says this is the second deadliest U.S. home fire in nearly 40 years. CNN's Jason Carroll has the latest on the investigation.


JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A community in mourning as the investigation into one of the deadliest fires in the city's recent history focuses on a key safety measure, why two self- closing doors required by law were not working properly and if they could have saved lives.

ERIC ADAMS (D) NEW YORK MAYOR: This painful moment can turn into a purposeful moment as we send the right message of something simple, as closing the door.

CARROLL (voice-over): Investigators say the fire was sparked by faulty space heater in an apartment duplex located on the building's second and third floor. The city's fire commissioner says the building did have self-closing doors installed but the front door to the apartment in question malfunctioned, not closing when it should have. The question is why.

DANIEL NIGRO, FDNY COMMISSIONER: As they left, they opened the door and the door stayed open.

ADAMS: It is our obligation to reinforce the concept of close the door, close the door. But what we don't want to do is just to add more trauma on a family that was simply trying to escape.

CARROLL (voice-over): The fire commissioner says the self-closing door on the building's 15th floor leading to a stairwell did not function either. 17 people, including eight children, the youngest just three, were killed. 63 were hurt, some critically, by the maze of blinding smoke that quickly spread throughout the 19-storey building, preventing some from finding their way-out early Sunday. This man is praying for his brother and sister-in-law. They lived on the 18th floor. He still has not heard from them.

YUSUPHA JAWARA, BROTHER MISSING IN BRONX FIRE: I'm totally worried and devastated that -- not me alone, but the whole community and the family at large. Everybody is like worried. We don't know what's happening.

CARROLL (voice-over): Daisy Mitchell survived by running down a darkened stairwell after first opening her door and smelling smoke.

DAISY MITCHELL, BRONX FIRE SURVIVOR: I went to the stairs and opened the door. It just blew back in the house. And I panicked and I told my husband, let me in the house. I can't see. I'm blind. I can't see. I can't see. If I stayed out there for another three seconds, I would have been gone too.

CARROLL (voice-over): an outpouring of messages of support now coming from across the globe. Many of the residents here have ties to Gambia and the Dominican Republic. The White House reaching out, offering support while members of the clergy gathered asking everyone to keep victims in their prayers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lord God, we know that you are the God that can rebuild and you can restore.

CARROLL: When it comes to so many fires like this, you hear so much about alarms not working. In this particular situation, the alarms throughout the building were working. Again, the focus of the investigation on those self-closing doors and why they malfunctioned.

Jason Carroll, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE) SOARES: We are learning more about the circumstances surrounding the death of actor and comedian Bob Saget. A police report reveals Saget's family contacted security at this Florida hotel where he was staying after they were unable to reach him. This set into motion the discovery of the actor who was found dead by security inside his hotel room on Sunday. Meantime, the cause of Saget's death is under investigation. That report may take up to 12 weeks to complete, according to the Orange County medical examiner.

We also now have more information on the actress Betty White's death. According to a Los Angeles County death certificate, she suffered a stroke six days before she passed away on New Year's Eve. The beloved actress would have turned 100 next week. She was best known for her TV roles on the Golden Girls, and the Mary Tyler Moore show, and was a fan -- a fan favorite, of course, adored right across generations. CNN NEWSROOM returns after a very short break.



SOARES: Now, the final game of the college football season turned into sweet redemption for the Georgia Bulldogs. They beat conference rival Alabamia decisively to win the national championship. CNN's Andy Scholes has more on how the Dogs got their bark back.


ANDY SCHOLES, CNN WORLD SPORT: Well, 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 hump, beating Alabama for the first time since 2007. And breaking the seven- game losing streak to the tied coming at a great time as it delivered the school their first national title since 1980.

For much of the game it looked like it was going to be a typical brutal loss for Georgia at the hands of Bama. The team coming through in the fourth quarter. Stetson Bennett who walked onto Georgia as a freshman left to play at a junior college, 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 forever going to be a Bulldogs hero.


And this is a huge win for Georgia head coach Kirby Smart. He beats his old boss Nick Saban for the first time, and in the process now owns a national championship.

KIRBY SMART, GEORGIA BULLDOGS HEAD COACH: Ultimately, it's those guys in the room, the blood, sweat and tears, you know, 200 and something workout, and 160-something practices. I appreciate them so much.

STETSON BENNETT, QUARTERBACK GEORGIA BULLDOGS; Resiliency, toughness, composure, you know, connection. And I knew that those guys beside me had my back and I had their back, too. SCHOLES: And there are thousands of Bulldogs fans taking to the

streets here in Indianapolis celebrating their title tonight. They've 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.


SOARES: Congrats to the Bulldogs.

Now, an American man is reportedly doing well several days after receiving a pig heart in a first of its kind transplant. According to University of Maryland School of Medicine, the patient, who is 57, had terminal heart disease and the genetically modified pig heart was the only available option before the transplant. The genes that cause 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. We'll stay on top of that story for you, of course.

That does it here for me on CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Isa Soares in London. Our coverage of the Chicago school reopening continues on "EARLY START" with Christine Romans and Laura Jarrett. Do stay in touch. I'll see you tomorrow. Bye-bye.