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Key Inflation Report Released; Florida Deviates from CDC Guidelines; Dr. Leana Wen is Interviewed about Covid Testing; Trump Blames McConnell; Australian Officials Investigating Djokovic; Man Invades Cockpit of Plane; Medical Chopper Crashes in Philadelphia. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired January 12, 2022 - 09:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: On your last semester. Study hard.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Invite us to your graduation.

BETTIS: Absolutely. And you know I'm going to walk, that's for sure.

BERMAN: You should wear the yellow jacket, the Hall of Fame jacket, along with the (INAUDIBLE).

All right, Jerome Bettis, thank you very much.

BETTIS: Thank you.

BERMAN: CNN's coverage continues right now.

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. I'm Bianna Golodryga.


The breaking news this hour, new U.S. inflation numbers are out. They show consumer prices continuing to rise, up 7 percent over the past year alone. It is the steepest climb in prices since 1982.

The White House is attempting to calm concerns. More on what it means for that in the months ahead in just a moment.

GOLODRYGA: Plus, in a fiery speech, President Biden urgently call on the U.S. Senate to, quote, protect the heart and soul of the nation by changing filibuster rules to pass new voting rights legislation.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've been having these quiet conversations with members of Congress for the last two months. I'm tired of being quiet!


GOLODRYGA: And a frightening scene when a man storms the cockpit of an American Airlines flight and tries jumping out of the window, just moments before takeoff. It's all caught on video right there.

But, first, let's get right to our top breaking story and bring in CNN chief business correspondent Christine Romans.

And, Christine, the White House was more or less expecting a high number, but I guess the question is, will it moderate in the coming months as some have predicted. Have we reached peak inflation?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and that is the biggest question out there, right? And these are numbers that are not news to the American families who are paying more for just about everything. Let's walk through these numbers.

Seven percent, this headline year over year inflation number for consumer prices. That is a big number. And that second number to the right, that would be 0.5 percent. Sorry, that didn't get updated, but 0.5 percent just from November to December. That is also a big one- month move.

When you strip out volatile food and energy, the so-called core rate, that was 5.5 percent from December 2020 to 2021. And from November to December, 0.6 percent. So you can see these numbers are still running way too hot. This is the hottest inflation in decades.

I look inside these numbers, just from November, December, used vehicle prices up 3.5 percent. Anybody trying to buy a used car knows that these numbers are running really, really fast here. Apparel prices up. Household furnishings, new vehicle prices up just 1 percent.

And, Bianna, as you know, those are big numbers for just a November to December -- just for a one-month gain. So we are still in the teeth here of an inflation problem.


ROMANS: The inflation fighter is the Federal Reserve. The Federal Reserve has said they are on the case and will start raising interest rates this year to try to keep this from becoming an entrenched problem.

And we'll see how quickly this year the Fed begins raising rates. Of course we would all feel that, mortgage rates, credit card rates, et cetera.

ROMANS: Yes. Right.

SCIUTTO: Christine Romans, great to have you on. We know we'll be talk with you more about this.

Later this hour, we will get reaction to this inflation report from one of President Biden's top economic advisers. You'll want to see that interview. It's coming up in just moments.

SCIUTTO: Pandemic politics coming to a head in the state of Florida. The Florida Department of Health is deviating from the CDC when it comes to guidance on Covid testing.

GOLODRYGA: That's right. The CDC recommends that people should get tested if they have had any of the following, close contact with someone with Covid-19, have Covid-19 symptoms, or if they are not vaccinated. But Florida health officials now recommend that only those with symptoms and risk factors for severe illness get tested. Health experts in the state say the changes could be a recipe for disaster.

SCIUTTO: CNN correspondent Leyla Santiago joins us now from Miami.

And Governor Ron DeSantis is giving himself accolades now for his handling of the pandemic. What do the numbers in the state of Florida show us?

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, let's take a look at south Florida, for example, Jim and Bianna. You talk to the mayor of Miami- Dade, and she will point out that the seven-day positivity rate here is 35 percent. That's pretty high when you look at the rest of the pandemic and where that rate has stood.

I spoke to a doctor from Florida Atlantic University yesterday who told me that it is too soon to sort of throw in the towel or in any way applaud or think that this pandemic is over, mostly because of community transmission, especially at a time when not all children are eligible for vaccination, and then when we talk about the strained hospital system. Right now, bed capacity, not a huge issue right now in Florida. But you know what is? Well, when you talk to the health systems, they'll tell you staff shortages. Right now they are dealing with that as a major challenge because of burnout, because staff is getting sick, and yet that was not at the center of the address from Governor Ron DeSantis yesterday.


He was focused on criticizing the federal government and its response to the crisis.



GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): We have protected the right of our citizens to earn a living, provided our businesses with the ability to prosper, fought back against unconstitutional federal mandates, and ensured our kids have the opportunity to thrive. Florida has become the escape hatch for those chafing under authoritarian arbitrary and seemingly never-ending mandates and restrictions.


SANTIAGO: And I spoke to an epidemiologist as well this week who pointed out, you know, I'm -- right now I'm at a testing site, one of the largest ones in south Florida, and she says we should be focused on testing. We should also be focused on vaccinations because if we want to get back to that normal living with Covid approach, it will take getting the community vaccinated.

Jim. Bianna.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, Leyla Santiago, thank you so much.

And, Jim, there really does seem to be a disconnect from what we just heard from the government and what we're hearing from healthcare officials, right, at hospitals around the country.


GOLODRYGA: Well, meantime, the Biden administration is now announcing new initiatives this morning aimed at keeping schools open as Covid cases surge. The administration plans to distribute 10 million Covid tests each month to schools as part of the Department of Health and Human Services expanded testing program. It's certainly a start. But those only cover a fraction of the tens of millions of students enrolled in K-12 public schools across the country.

SCIUTTO: CNN medical analyst, former Baltimore health commissioner, Dr. Leana Wen joins us now.

And, Dr. Wen, I want to ask you a big picture question here because when you hear from public health officials, such as Dr. Anthony Fauci, saying the reality is most of us will get omicron. It's just so highly transmissible. Is there an argument to test only when you're symptomatic or have health conditions that make you particularly vulnerable to severe illness, is there an argument for that rather than testing everyone regardless of symptoms or health conditions?

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: It depends on what the goal is here, Jim. If the goal is to actually try to contain Covid-19, then we should be testing people who are asymptomatic because we know that you are maximally infectious one to two days before you develop symptoms and at least half of the transmission is from people who have no symptoms. And so if the goal is to try to reduce the level of Covid, then you should be testing asymptomatic people.

But, on the other hand, if your goal is to say, hey, omicron is going to spread no matter what we do, let's just let it spread, then I could see why you would be testing the vulnerable individuals because you want to provide those individuals with early treatment.

However, I and probably most other public health experts do not think that that is a sound approach, especially when so many of our hospitals are getting overwhelmed at this point. Remember, at the beginning of the pandemic we talked about flattening the curve. The entire idea was that even if a lot of people are going to get infected anyway, let's at least try to spread out the infections over time so that we're not straining very limited healthcare resources.

Well, we're at that point now. We may all get omicron, but the later that we can postpone some people getting omicron, the better it is that we can preserve the functioning of our hospitals.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, and to that point, you have a piece out this morning talking about just that, given how transmissible omicron really is.

There are conversations being had where people are asking, should I just get it now and get it over with. And you're pointing to the data that you just -- that you just mentioned, that these hospitals are inundated and that should not be the protocol even though people may just think, hey, we're going to get it, so might as well do it now, right?

WEN: Right. I think there are a lot of people, including a lot of previously cautious individuals, saying, well, if I'm going to get additional immunity from omicron and I'm vaccinated and boosted, so I'm not going to get that sick, so why not just get it over with and then I can do whatever I want to, at least for a brief period of time. And while I understand the rationale behind that argument and also the wariness, that's really driving people asking this question.

I think there is the societal argument of preserving our hospitals, but also an individual argument as well as in, nobody really wants to get sick, nobody wants to be out of work and unable to care for their kids, nobody wants to inadvertently infect other people around them.

The other issue is, right now treatments are really limited. And so if you end up getting severely ill and you may need monoclonal antibodies, or oral pills, there really aren't that many treatments available for you now, but there will be in a couple of weeks or even months.

SCIUTTO: It's never pretty. It hasn't been pretty throughout the pandemic. But I want to ask you this, is there some silver lining here? And, by the way, I'm not -- I'm not downplaying what we're seeing in many hospitals around the country. But schools are largely staying open now, right?


That even in the midst of this tremendous surge, do you think some things are happening right in terms of the way we're responding overall to this latest challenge?

WEN: Yes, I do think that schools remaining open is really important. We saw that we can do this, even with the delta wave that was so overwhelming, and that was before pediatric vaccinations came online, 99 percent of schools were able to be in person. And I think there is growing recognition for the simple truth that other countries have been able to adopt, which is that schools should be the last to close and the first to open. And I really want to commend our school administrators, teachers and parents for doing this.


WEN: Vaccination, masking and testing when possible, that's what it takes to keep our schools open.

GOLODRYGA: As you mentioned before, we have more tools this year than we did last year during previous surges.

Dr. Leana Wen, as always, thank you.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is apologizing today for attending a party during government lockdown. Johnson's apology comes after emails surfaced yesterday that one of his leading officials invited staff to the socially distanced event in May 2020 in the back garden of Ten Downing Street. He says he thought he was at a work event at the time.



I know the rage they feel with me, and with the government I lead, when they think that in Downing Street itself the rules are not being properly followed by the people who make the rules. And though I cannot anticipate the conclusions of the current inquiry, I have learned enough to know that there were things we simply did not get right.


GOLODRYGA: The leader of the opposition party called Johnson's excuse offensive and asked Johnson to resign.

SCIUTTO: Back here in the U.S., the January 6th committee has now issued a new round of subpoenas. This time targeting a speechwriter who wrote Trump's January 6th rally speech and two advisers who were in communication with Donald Trump Junior and Kimberly Guilfoyle. The committee wants both testimony and records from all three. More subpoenas could be on the way, including one for the president's former personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.

House Select Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson told CNN, Giuliani is an integral part of the ongoing investigation. They will seek information from him, Thompson says, at some point.

Former President Donald Trump's stranglehold on the Republican Party appears to have at least one weak spot, and that is Mitch McConnell.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, that's right. Aides and allies say Trump is coming to realize that he can't oust McConnell despite recent calls to do just that. Republicans simply aren't willing to turn their back on the enate minority leader to appease Trump. Still, Trump is continuing to unload on McConnell.


STEVE INSKEEP, HOST, NPR'S MORNING EDITION: Why is it that you think that the vast majority of your allies in the United States Senate are not standing behind you? We did have that statement by Mike Rounds.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Because Mitch McConnell is a loser and, frankly, Mitch McConnell, if he were on the other side and if Schumer were put in his position, he would have been fighting this like you've never seen before. He would have been fighting this.


GOLODRYGA: Well, let's now go to CNN reporter Gabby Orr for more.

And, Gabby, we should note that later on in that interview the president hung up on Steve Inskeep.

But back to the point he was making, is Trump going to back off from criticizing McConnell or is this what he's going to continue to do going forward?

GABBY ORR, CNN REPORTER: Bianna, I think that the posture that we've seen from former President Trump toward McConnell so far is here to stay. He has been increasingly hostile toward the Senate minority leader and has been calling on Republican candidates who are running for the Senate to declare that they would not vote to re-elect Mitch McConnell as majority or minority leader if they made it to the U.S. Senate in November.

Of course, what we have seen play out is that very few Republican candidates have actually made such a declaration, even as they continue to seek Donald Trump's endorsement in their different primaries. Take Ohio, for example. You have at least four candidates who are running, who are all trying to get that coveted Trump endorsement, and yet not one of them has come out and said that they would definitively vote against re-electing McConnell as the top Republican leader in the Senate. And yet they are trying to get Trump's endorsement.

And so what we're seeing for really one of the first times in the post presidency of Donald Trump is a check on his ability to influence Republican candidates and influence Republicans in the Senate.

SCIUTTO: Gabby Orr, thanks so much.

Coming up next this hour, President Biden is shaming Republican senators over voting rights, challenging them to be, in his words, on the right side of history. Does he have a path forward to get a bill passed?


We'll get an update on Capitol Hill.

GOLODRYGA: Plus, tennis star Novak Djokovic admits to doing an in- person interview after he knew that he had Covid-19. And we're getting new details about the documents he used to get into Australia ahead of a major tournament.

And later, how did this man get inside the cockpit of an American Airlines plane? What we know about this scary incident. That's coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) SCIUTTO: Tennis star Novak Djokovic is still waiting on a decision about his visa from the Australian immigration minister. In the meantime, however, he's still practicing, like he will get to play in the Australian Open. New details are emerging about inconsistencies in his entry documents, as well as his movements after he tested positive for Covid-19.


GOLODRYGA: Yes. This is raising only more questions.

So, let's go now to CNN's Paula Hancocks in Melbourne.

And, Paula, what has Djokovic been saying about all of these new information that's coming out?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Bianna and Jim, we have had a lot of new developments. So let me go through them one by one.

We've heard from Novak Djokovic himself. He has given a statement on social media. He's talked about when he tested positive for Covid-19, pointing out that on December 14th he was at a basketball match in the Serbian capital of Belgrade. He said many people tested positive after that. So on December 16th he decided to take a PCR test. December 17th he then took a rapid antigen test as well, which was negative. And he had a number of public events which we saw him at maskless and in some occasions surrounded by many young people. And he said that it was only after those events that he discovered that he was, in fact, positive.

But, December 18th, he still went ahead with a media interview and a photo shoot, saying he didn't want to let the journalist down. He has pointed out that on reflection this was an error of judgment.

Now, also, when it comes to that travel declaration, he has admitted there is an error on that front as well. He pointed out that with this declaration he didn't fill it out himself, it was his support team that did it. But when they asked whether he was traveling or had intention to travel in the 14 days before coming here to Australia, the no box was ticked and in actual fact it's understood that he was in both Spain and Serbia during those two weeks. But he did point out that it wasn't him that did it, saying, quote, it was human error and certainly not deliberate.

What we do know, though, from a source close to the investigation, is that the Australia border force is expanding its investigation, looking at possible inconsistencies in documents related to the PCR results.

Back to you.

GOLODRYGA: This growing scandal really is continuing to threaten the tournament itself as it approaches.

Paula Hancocks, thank you so much. Well, ahead, a medical helicopter crashes on the way to a Philadelphia

hospital with a two-month-old baby on board. What we know about the crash and the survivors, coming up.

SCIUTTO: And we are moments away from the opening bell on Wall Street. Futures actually pointing higher this morning after a key inflation report this morning showed consumer prices continuing to rise, up 7 percent over the past year. We will speak, coming up, to a White House economic adviser on what the Biden administration plans to do in response to these numbers. That's coming up.



GOLODRYGA: An American Airlines flight headed to Miami from Honduras was held up last night after a passenger stormed into the cockpit, demanded flight controls and tried to jump out of the window.

SCIUTTO: Listen, the pictures of this, just alarming, and the fact that this could happen.

CNN's Pete Muntean joins us now.

Pete, how is American Airlines explaining how this person gained access to the cockpit?

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, some pretty big questions here about how he got into the cockpit. You know, this all took place during boarding, American Airlines says, of American Flight 488 (ph). It was on the ramp in Honduras, going from Honduras to Miami. And American says this all happened as the passenger came down the jetway, then stormed the cockpit. The door was open during that time. And we have heard from American Airlines that this passenger did damage some equipment inside the flight deck. More on that in a second.

Now, you can see in the video here, from a passenger in the terminal, of this man hanging out of the flight deck window. You can slide that open in a 737. It can be used in an emergency. Used to ventilate the cockpit. Pilots can get down using a rope if they have to in an emergency. It's a pretty long way down. And this passenger ultimately did not jump, but, thankfully, he was arrested.

Although because that plane was damaged, American had to fly another airplane in, and that flight ultimately landed in Miami about eight hours late. Pretty frustrating for the 121 people on board.

You know, this has been an issue for months now, Jim and Bianna, I've been covering it for a long time. You know, the issue here is that there are just so many of these unruly passengers, over and over again. 5,981 incidents reported by flight crews to the FAA just this year alone -- sorry, in 2021 alone. Many of them have to do with masks. Although, in this instance, we did not know the motivation behind all of this. We're waiting to hear that.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, this incident really taking it to the next level, though, going into the cockpit and breaking that window.


GOLODRYGA: It's just horrifying watching that video.

Another story that we've seen in video, which is pretty incredible, the NTSB investigating a medical helicopter crash that went down while carrying a pediatric patient outside of Philadelphia yesterday. There you see the images. What more are we learning?

MUNTEAN: Well, this is really incredible, Bianna, because four people were on board, including a two-month-old baby.