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Rust Armorer Suing Film's Gun and Ammo Supplier; Biden Updates Administration Response to Omicron Surge. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired January 13, 2022 - 10:30   ET




JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWSROOM: There was a new allegation in the deadly shooting on the set of the movie rust. The armorer for the film is suing the gun and ammunition supplier for negligence in the shooting death of the cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins.

In the complaint, Hannah Gutierrez, the armorer, Hannah Gutierrez- Reed, accuses the supplier of providing live bullets mixed in among the dummy rounds. Bianna, that's remarkable if it's true.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, and coming months after the actual shooting. The filing also claims that Alec Baldwin never responded to the armorer's request to attend a training days before the shooting.

So, let's bring in CNN's Lucy Kafanov for more. And, Lucy, as Jim said, a lot of alarming and disturbing allegations in this complaint.

LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, a lot of allegations in this 24-page lawsuit which was filed on Wednesday. Hanna Gutierrez- Reed in this accuses Seth Kenney, the weapons provider for that low- budget western, of making false representations and causing live rounds to be introduced in that New Mexico set. The suit alleges that he supplied a mismarked box of ammunition containing live rounds in a box that was labeled dummies even though it contained seven live rounds mixed in with 43 dummies.

Gutierrez-Reed also said on the day of the shooting she and two other prop assistants handled the guns out of a safe. The armorer said she remembers cleaning the gun that Baldwin had used, placed what she thought was another round from that dummy ammo box, and then spun the cylinder for the assistant director, Dave Halls, showing him what she thought were loaded blank rounds.

The armorer said Halls told her the gun was not going to be used for the scene or for the rehearsal, so she left the gun inside that church set while she attended to her other duties outside. According to the complaint Halls was supposed to alert her if Baldwin or anyone else used the gun because she was required to re-inspect it. But about 15 minutes later, Gutierrez-Reed claims that halls gave the firearm to Baldwin and shouted cold gun, which signified that that firearm was empty or contained blank rounds.

And let me read you a portion of the complaint. It states, quote, had Hannah been called back in, she would have re-inspected the weapon and every round again and instructed Baldwin on safe gun practice with the cross draw, as was her standard practice on set and under circumstances where Baldwin did not respond to Hannah's request on October 15th to schedule a cross draw training and the gun had been out of her possession for 15 minutes.

Now, Gutierrez-Reed also alleged that Kenney tried to shift the blame on to her and that the ammo business owner has tampered with the ongoing investigation. CNN has reached out to Seth Kenney, to Alec Baldwin, as well as the attorney for Halls for comment but did not immediately hear back, guys.

SCIUTTO: Remarkable development here. It will be interesting if they can present evidence of that allegation. Lucy Kafanov, thanks very much.

From food to used cars to gas, inflation is wreaking havoc on many Americans' budgets. A look at what exactly is fueling the inflation rate the most, that is coming up.



SCIUTTO: Lives pictures here, President Biden set to speak on his administration's response to the omicron surge. Let's listen in.

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: -- and our FEMA director for joining me today. We were joking earlier, not really joking, when you need something done, call in the military. FEMA will make sure it gets done.

Look, we're about to get a COVID-19 briefing from military medical teams on the ground in Arizona, Michigan and New York. They're part of a major deployment of our nation's armed forces to help hospitals across the country manage this surge in the omicron virus. This surge has an impact on hospitals. Like all health care workers, they are heroes and I'm grateful for what they do.

But before we begin, I want to provide an update on our fight against COVID-19 and announce new steps. First, the update, I know we're all frustrated as we enter this New Year. The omicron variant is causing millions of cases and record hospitalizations. I've been saying that as we remain in this pandemic -- this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated. And I mean by this right now both vaccinated and unvaccinated people are testing positive, but what happens after that could not be more different. If vaccinated people test positive, they overwhelmingly have no symptoms at all or they have mild symptoms. And if you're unvaccinated, if they test positive, you are 17 times more likely to get hospitalized.

As a result, they're crowding the hospitals, leaving little room for anyone else who might have a heart attack or an injury in an automobile accident or any injury at all. And, yes, the unvaccinated are dying from COVID-19. But here's the deal. Because we've fully vaccinated nearly 210 million Americans, the majority of the country is safe from severe COVID-19 consequences. That's why even as the number of cases among the vaccinated Americans go up, deaths are down dramatically from last winter.

For example, before the vaccination requirements the United States -- I should mean the United Airlines was averaging one employee dying a week from COVID-19. After implementing this requirement, it's led to 99 percent of its employees being vaccinated, United had 3,600 employees test positive but zero hospitalizations, zero deaths in over eight weeks. But as long as we have tens of millions of people who will not get vaccinated, we're going to have full hospitals and needless deaths.

So, the single most important thing to determine your outcome in this pandemic is getting vaccinated. If you're not vaccinated, join the nearly 210 million American people who are vaccinated. And if you are vaccinated, join the more than 80 million Americans who have gotten the booster shot with the strongest protection possible. Vaccines are safe. They're free. And they're widely available. So, do it today, please, for your sake, the sake of your kids, the sake of the country.

Now, I don't like to outline the next steps we're taking against -- I like to outline the next steps we're taking against on the omicron variant. Vaccinations are obviously the most important thing we're doing. But they're not the only important thing. First, masking, masking. Masking is an important tool to control the spread of COVID- 19. When you're indoors in public places, you should wear the mask.

And there are a lot -- you know, lots of different kinds of masks out there. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the CDC, says that wearing a well-fitting mask of any of them is certainly better than not wearing a mask over your nose if it's well-fitting over nose.


And it's about one-third of Americans report they don't wear a mask at all.

As I've said in the last two years, please wear a mask. I think it's part of your patriotic duty. It's not that comfortable. It's a pain in the neck. But I've taken every action I can as president to require people to wear masks in federal buildings and on airplanes and trains because they're cross state lines. I've made sure that our doctors and nurses and first responders have the masks they need. Never again we're going to have our nurses using homemade masks and garbage bags over their clothing for hospital people because they don't have the gowns. We've more than tripled our stockpile on the most protective, specialized N-95 mask since coming into office. This is going to make sure that there will be an ample supply of health care workers and first responders.

We also have helped make sure that high quality masks are widely available and ample supply, at affordable prices sold online and in stores, but I know for some Americans, the mask is not always affordable or convenient to get. So, next week, we'll announce how we are making high quality masks available to American people for free.

You know, I know we all wish that we could finally be done with wearing a mask. I get it. But they're a really important tool to stop the spread, especially of a highly transmittable omicron variant. So, please, please wear the mask.

Second, testing. We're seeing real improvement in testing. When I got here, we were doing fewer than 2 million tests a day. Now -- and it's changed. None of these tests were at home or rapid tests. This month, it's estimated that we will hit approximately 15 million tests a day and we'll have over 375 million at-home rapid tests in January alone. That's huge leap. We've taken a number of steps, including invoking the Defense Production Act as early as last February to ramp up production. And we're on track. We're on track to roll out a website next week where you can order free tests shipped to your home.

And in addition to the 500 million, half a billion tests that are in the process of being acquired to ship to you home for free. Today, I'm directing my team to procure an additional 500 million more tests to distribute for free, I mean, a billion tests in total to meet future demand. And we'll continue to work with the retailers and online retailers to increase availability.

And for those who want an immediate test, we continue to add FEMA testing sites so that there are more than -- more free in-person testing sites. For those of you with insurance, you can get reimbursed for eight tests a month. For those without insurance, we have over 20,000 free testing sites all around the country. You can find the nearest testing sites for you by Googling COVID test near me. Google COVID test near me.

And to help lead our federal program, I've tapped Dr. Tom -- I hope I pronounce it -- Inglesby, correct? Is that right? And he's one of the world's leading infectious disease experts, and I'm grateful for his willingness to help us tackle this challenge.

Third thing, today, we'll discuss our hospital response efforts. Just since Thanksgiving, over 800 military and other federal emergency personnel have been deployed to 24 states, tribes and territories, including over 350 military doctors, nurses and medics, helping staff the hospitals who are in short supply. This is on top of more than 14,000 National Guard members that are activated in 49 states.

These deployments, in my direction, and thanks to the American Rescue Plan, are fully paid for by the federal government. We've shipped over 5.5 million pieces of personal protective equipment, gloves, masks to protect frontline health care workers. We're shipping more treatments of COVID-19, which includes antiviral pills, than at any point during this pandemic. In addition, I've directed FEMA to work with every state, territory and the District of Columbia to make sure they have enough hospital bed capacity.


Today, I'm announcing our next deployment of six additional federal medical teams, a total of more than 120 military medical personnel to six hard-hit states, Michigan, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Rhode Island.

And let me close with this. It's been a long road. But what's clear as we get through this when everybody does their part, no matter where you live, no matter your political party, we've got to fight this together. Unfortunately, the military stepping up, as they always do, there are others sitting on the sidelines and were standing in the way. If you haven't gotten vaccinated, do it. Personal choice impacts us all, our hospitals, our country.

I make a special appeal to social media companies and media outlets, please get rid of the misinformation and disinformation that's on your shows. It has to stop. COVID-19 is one of the most formidable diseases America has ever faced. We've got work together, not against each other. We're America. We can do this.

For the military medical teams on the ground, thank you for all and everything you're doing and I'll stop here so we can get the briefing started. Thank you for taking the time.

REPORTER: Mr. President, do you have a message for vaccinated Americans who are wondering why they have to continue to restrict their activities given your health officials say most Americans will get COVID at some point?

BIDEN: Folks, we'll talk about that later. Come on.

REPORTER: Why should Americans trust the administration with --


GOLODRYGA: And you've just been listening to President Biden lay out measures that the administration is taking to combat the omicron surge. We heard him talk about the need for more masks in this country, something that the administration is working on, delivering free higher quality masks to the public. And some news was made there, in addition to the 500 million at-home tests that are going to be sent out as soon as next week, the president said that an additional 500 million, so a total of 1 billion tests, in the coming weeks will be distributed to the public.

Clearly, a lot of pressure to get more testing out, but, Jim, no denying it, his main focus from the start to the end there was those who were unvaccinated, blaming them for the surge that we're seeing in hospitals that are being so overwhelmed right now that military personnel are being sent out.

SCIUTTO: I mean, he said, we're America, we can do this, but it requires effort, vaccination and also wearing the mask.

We have Sanjay Gupta with us. And, Sanjay, he spoke to the point we referenced when we spoke to you earlier, which was getting more antiviral pills, treatments out to people, shipping them out. Based on that answer, did that give you the answer you were looking for?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: There are still some questions I think about exactly how that's going to plays out. I mean, when it comes to some of these therapeutics, like Paxlovid, a name that most people are going to become familiar with, this antiviral pill, very effective, more effective even than something people have heard of, Tamiflu, for the flu. Again, this oral pill that you take at home. You don't have to go to the hospital. It requires a fair amount of production, talking to the people who are producing these types of therapeutics. There's lot that goes into it. It can take six to nine months to produce that.

So, it's tough to ship it out unless you started that production process half a year to nine months ago. So, exactly how that might speed things up I think is still a little bit unclear. But it's good that those three big topics, masks, potentially free masks, he said, going out as early as next week. What does that mean? Are they going to come in the mail? You have got to pick them up? The testing, he says the goal now, 15 million tests per day, that will be roughly 450 million, 500 million tests a month. That's a lot more, obviously, than we're doing. Probably still not enough, though. I hate to say that because it's so much better, yet, you know, we talked about the fact that every American could potentially test themselves twice a week. So, if you're thinking about, that you're talking about 600 million tests a week, roughly, as opposed to 500 million in a month. And then, as you mentioned the therapeutics, you know, angle is something that I think we need to hear more exactly how that's going to play out.

He did mention at the end, as well, I don't know if you caught that at the very end, making an appeal to really cut down on misinformation in various media channels. So, I think that was an important message as well because there are still a lot of misinformation about the value of vaccines and masks and all those things.


SCIUTTO: Yes, mis and disinformation, right, deliberate misinformation that affects people's health and endangers their lives. Sanjay Gupta, so good to have to break it all down.

GUPTA: You got it. Thank you.

SCIUTTO: And thanks so much to all of you for joining us today on yet another busy news day. I'm Jim Sciutto.

GOLODRYGA: And I'm Bianna Golodryga. At This Hour with Kate Bolduan starts after a quick break.