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Some Senate Democrats Press White House on COVID-19 Testing Shortage; U.S. House Candidate in Alaska Leaves GOP, Cites Attacks on Democracy; "Reframed: Marilyn Monroe" Premieres Sunday at 9P and 10P ET/PT. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired January 14, 2022 - 15:30   ET



VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: We've got new details about how you can get one of those free at-home COVID tests that President Biden has promised you. The White House says that starting January 19th, that's Wednesday, you can go online to and request up to four tests per household. That's the initial phase of the program. When will they arrive? That's the thing. The test will ship within 7 to 12 days of being ordered.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Yesterday, President Biden announced he will purchase an additional 500 million at-home tests for distribution. Well, five Senate Democrats sent President Biden a letter criticizing his administration's COVID-19 response, and they specifically called out the testing shortage, and asked why more steps to get at-home testing did not happen sooner.

BLACKWELL: All right, here to discuss is Dr. Perry Wilson. He's an associate professor of medicine at the Yale University School of Medicine. And his article, "Testing Could Help End The Pandemic If Only We Had Tests" is published this week. Doctor, thank you so much for being with us.

First, let's just start with the update on these tests coming out. You can get four per household in the first phase, but they'll ship seven to twelve days after you order them. Your thoughts?

DR. F. PERRY WILSON, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE, YALE UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: Right. So, well, hey, it's a good start. So, credit where credit is due. It's good to see this. But of course, these are tests that you're going to need to get in advance. You need to have them in your house when you start developing symptoms so that you can test rapidly. So, this isn't the kind of thing that you can get quickly when you're traveling, when you feel symptomatic or when you might be visiting someone vulnerable. So, I recommend to everyone, when the web site opens, try to sign up. Try to get them sent out?

CAMEROTA: Dr. Wilson, isn't another big issue whether or not these tests are reliable? I think every single one of us, and everyone watching right now probably has some story of someone, a friend or a family who was exhibiting symptoms, had had an exposure, took one of the rapid at-home tests and it came back negative. WILSON: Yes, so we're starting to learn exactly how these tests are

best used and for the at-home tests in particular. When the Omicron variant came, it became clear that people have infection, and may even be infectious, able to transmit to other people for several days before those tests turn positive. They're not a great early indicator of infection. What they're great for though is once they turn positive, following the result to see when you are no longer infectious, when they're negative again. That would have been a great criteria to leave isolation for people who had COVID-19.

The CDC didn't add that criteria, and I think, frankly, they didn't add that criteria because there simply weren't enough tests to allow people to do that. Hopefully that's starting to change. But yes, we need to use the tests in the proper way.

BLACKWELL: Do you think that we're relying too much on the PCR tests and we should focus more on the rapid at-home antigen tests?

WILSON: Well, they each have their use. So, as I said, those antigen tests are great to tell you when you're sort of done, when you can leave isolation. That's identity deal use for them. The PCR tests are great to detect the disease early, before the antigen tests turn positive. Now, there's a problem there too. Testing is so backlogged right now, that for many people, they're getting the PCR tests, they're not getting results for four to five days later.

So sure, it can tell that you were infected, you know, early in the course of the disease. But if you only find out four to five days from them, the public health impact is quite minimal. So, we really need to work on the testing infrastructure, so you can get results quickly, so that if you are infected you can protect people around you.


CAMEROTA: I mean, you wrote this piece basically that we might be able to test our way out of this pandemic, but how would that work?

WILSON: Well, the idea is we need to slow the spread of the disease, and the number one thing that we've focused on for much of the pandemic has been vaccination, which has been incredibly successful. There are breakthrough infections with Omicron, but vaccines, even with the advent of the Omicron variant are quite protective against severe disease and death. That is a success story. But we're honestly maxing out how much benefit we can get out of vaccines.

The way you slow viral spread at this point is by taking people who are infected and preventing them to the extent that they are able and willing from spreading it to other people, and the number one way you can do that is just letting them know you're infected. Especially with vaccinated people, with breakthrough infections who might be minimally symptomatic, we need to be able to tell them, oh yes, you're infectious, you'll be fine, but why don't you stay home for a few days while the infection clears so that you don't infect someone who's vulnerable.

Dr. Perry Wilson, really helpful information, thank you. WILSON: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Well, a Congressional candidate says he can no longer be a Republican because of what the party is doing with democracy. He's going to join us live to discuss leaving the party, next.



CAMEROTA: A GOP lawmaker who voted to impeach Donald Trump announced today that he will not seek reelection. Congressman John Katko is now the third GOP impeachment backer to throw in the towel along with Adam Kinzinger and Anthony Gonzalez. The Republican Party's continued embrace of Trump's big lie is causing many in the party to feel alienated. And that includes Gregg Brelsford.

I've been told this week he was a Republican candidate running for Alaska's sole U.S. House seat. But he announced he's leaving the party and running as an independent. And Gregg Brelsford joins us now. Mr. Brelsford, thanks so much for being here. We really -- I've been look forward to talking to you. Is there something in particular that is driving you out of the Republican Party?

GREGG BRELSFORD, SWITCHED FROM GOP TO INDEPENDENT IN U.S. HOUSE RACE IN ALASKA: Thank you for having me, Alisyn. To clarify, I didn't leave the Republican Party so much as the Republican Party left me. I was raised by deeply religious Republican parents and I ran for the state -- I ran in the Republican primary for a state of the state house in 1994, but the Republican Party of those years is gone. Today's Republican Party --

CAMEROTA: What is it -- yes, I mean, tell me what it is, that's upsetting you most.

BRELSFORD: Well, today's Republican party is consumed with relitigating past elections and not with resolving real problems for real people and working families, but worse it's attacking democracy itself.

CAMEROTA: Yes, you wrote an op-ed this week in which you talked about how concerned you by how many Republicans are embracing Donald Trump's ongoing lie and that they are trying to compromise election integrity and democracy. I'll read a portion of what you say.

You say: In 2021, Republican legislators introduced bills in Arizona, Missouri and Nevada that would allow the state legislatures to nullify and veto their voters voices and directly or indirectly reject presidential or other election results.

As you know, President Biden has been trying to fight this. He was trying to pass these, you know, voting rights legislations. It doesn't look like it's going to happen. And then minority leader Mitch McConnell basically rebutted that and said there was nothing to worry about really, so let me play that for you.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): He invoked the literal civil war and said we are on the doorstep of autocracy. This will not be repaired with more lies, more outrage, and more rule breaking.


CAMEROTA: So, what's your response to that?

BRELSFORD: Well, I think that's an example of the Republican Party hiding its head in the sand. The Republican Party has lost its (INAUDIBLE) by only going from bad to worse. In my opinion, there's a serious threat to democracy by the Republican Party and I ran -- I switched to an independent to show Alaskans and the country and our young people how to protect, vigorously protect democracy from possible collapse.

CAMEROTA: And why do you think Republicans have their head in the sand? Why do you think so many people have signed on to the demonstrably false lie that President Trump didn't lose the 2020 election?

BRELSFORD: Well, I think public officials have a high duty to provide accurate information. That's when a failing of the majority of the Republican leaders in our country, and the state, they're not providing accurate information. And so, a number of people are hearing that information and they're relying on it to the detriment of the country.

CAMEROTA: Do you think you stand a chance running as a an independent? I mean, obviously, you do, let me reframe that. Do you think it makes your chances harder?

BRELSFORD: I think it makes my chances better. I think there are a ton of people in Alaska and the United States, who are increasingly not at home in either party, but particularly conservatives are becoming less and less at home in the Republican Party. And I think both -- people from both backgrounds or all backgrounds are looking for an independent to bridge those differences, particularly in Alaska, and that's what I intend to do.


CAMEROTA: I mean, but then you see all of these examples of people who have tried to be rational, have tried to fight the lies, have tried to speak the truth. I mean Congressman John Katko are just the latest who are getting out of Congress. They don't feel that there's any place for them. Liz Cheney, as you know, is under pressure from all sorts of sides, who say that, you know, she doesn't deserve to be in leadership there anymore. So, what do you say to that?

BRELSFORD: I say that let's not give up. Let's keep fighting. Let's not stand on the sidelines. Let's get in the game and keep trying to strengthen democracy.

CAMEROTA: Gregg Brelsford, great to talk to you, thank you for sharing your perspective, we appreciate it. We'll obviously be watching your race. And we also want to let our viewers know that we have reached out to the other primary candidates who are running in Alaska. So far one of them has taken us up on an offer for an interview. And we look forward to that conversation in the future. Mr. Brelsford, thank you.

BRELSFORD: Thank you, Alisyn, bye-bye.


BLACKWELL: TV star and comedian Bob Saget will be laid to rest today. Details about how his family and closest friends will say good-bye, next.



BLACKWELL: Just into CNN, comedian and actor Bob Saget will be buried today. According to a source close to his family, a private service and burial will take place in Los Angeles. A public memorial will be held at a later date. Bob Saget was 65 years old.

His "Full House" co-star John Stamos tweeted: Today will be the hardest day of my life.

CAMEROTA: Fondly remembered as America's TV dad, Saget was found dead in his Orlando hotel room on Sunday. Officials who performed his autopsy said there were no drugs or foul play, but an official cause of death has not been released.

BLACKWELL: Movie star Marilyn Monroe was the original blond bombshell and she was adored by millions.

CAMEROTA: Well, now the new CNN original series "REFRAMED: MARILYN MONROE" looks at the ways the sex symbol was also a feminist trail blazer and how she challenged the misogyny of the old Hollywood studio system. Here's a preview.


CAMEROTA (voice over): The world knows her as the movie star. The original material girl. The provocative bombshell. But now, after a reckoning in Hollywood, many say it's time to reframe the way we see Marilyn Monroe.

JESSICA CHASTAIN, ACTRESS: Marilyn challenges what it means to have agency as a woman and what it means to be a feminist.

CAMEROTA (voice over): Marilyn arrived in Hollywood in 1946 as Norma Jean Doherty and quickly became her transformation into a superstar. It did not take long for Marilyn to understand the patriarchal studio system governing Hollywood.

MIRA SORVINO, ACTRESS: I think Marilyn accepted that she was going to have to date people in order to get what she wanted. CAMEROTA (voice over): But Marilyn rebuffed Harry Cohen, head of

Columbia Pictures and one of the most powerful men in Hollywood and outed others in an article titled "Wolves I Have Known."

When nude photos of Marilyn surfaced --

SARAH CHURCHWELL, PROFESSOR, AMERICAN LITERATURE: Marilyn was hauled into Zanuck's office to account for herself. And she was put in front of, you know, all the powerful male studio heads.

MARILYN MONROE, ACTRESS: They said, did you pose for a calendar? And I said, yes. Anything wrong?

ANGELICA JADE BASTIEN, FILM CRITIC: Marilyn's decision to own her nude photo shoot calendar is brave. It's bold. It's very modern.

CAMEROTA (voice over): And it worked. By then, Marilyn was a bona fide superstar. But she grew tired of all the dumb blond roles she was forced to play. So, she walked away from her contract with 20th Century Fox. Launched her own production company and kicked off a year-long battle with the studio.

ELIZABETH WINDER, AUTHOR, "MARILYN IN MANHATTAN: HER YEAR OF JOY": Marilyn had no idea if this entire experiment was going to end in complete humiliation and disaster.

CAMEROTA (voice over): But her strategy worked. Fox offered her a new contract with a raise, director approval and the freedom to make films through her own production company.

AMY GREENE, FRIEND OF MONROE: She got everything she wanted. Everything. Which was unheard of in 1955.

CAMEROTA (voice over): Tragically Marilyn's life was cut short just seven years later.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, of course, her early death is a tragedy but that doesn't overwrite everything that she achieved up until that point.

CAMEROTA (voice over): Her legacy, not just as an actress but as a feminist trail blazer lives on.

SORVINO: She became the biggest actress in the world and the biggest cultural icon of the 20th century. I mean she really was truly extraordinary.


CAMEROTA (on camera): "REFRAMED: MARILYN MONROE" premieres Sunday at 9:00 p.m. only on CNN.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLACKWELL: Cate Blanchett has a confession. Now, she told talk show host Graham Norton that because of COVID restrictions she didn't have a makeup artist in the Netflix movie "Don't Look Up" so she wore an old set of fake teeth and a wig.

But she and Tyler Perry should confess something else. Who do they look like?

CAMEROTA: I don't know. But --

BLACKWELL: You can't tell me that's not us.

CAMEROTA: They do say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. And, by the way, why does she have an old set of teeth lying around her house? That's one of my first questions.


But they now say that this is the number two, according to Deadline, most successful movie of all time on Netflix. So, shouldn't we get a cut of the profits?

BLACKWELL: Netflix, run us our money. Send us our checks.

CAMEROTA: Clearly, we're the inspiration. It's obvious.

And "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.