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Pelosi Visited Korean DMZ with Congressional Delegation; Alabama Sheriff: Kidnapped Girl's Escape Leads Investigators to 2 Bodies; Biden Admin to Declare Monkeypox Outbreak Public Health Emergency; CDC Expected to Ease COVID Guidance, Including for Schools; WAPO: Teacher Shortage Has Schools Scrambling. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired August 04, 2022 - 13:30   ET



WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So Nancy Pelosi went to visit this area, the dividing line that separates North and South Korea.

It's an important thing, I think, for people so see, whether they're politicians or not, to show just how you have democracy and authoritarianism on the line. You can look over and see the difference visually.

Not to mention what we know about life in North Korea versus life in South Korea and the freedoms that people enjoy in the South that they don't enjoy in the North.

In many ways, there are parallels. That was a flash point I covered for many years. And now I feel like I'm sitting here covering another flashpoint where you have this battle between democracy and authoritarian.

In fact, that's exactly how House Speaker Nancy Pelosi laid out the whole situation when she was here in Taipei.

So this Asia trip -- and she's actually, by the way, now in Japan, where they had these Chinese missiles fall in their Exclusive Economic Zone waters. So there's a lot happening here.

Erica, the question we need to ask is, did Nancy Pelosi's visit somehow trigger this? Clearly, they didn't drop these plans overnight.

Or was this a plan that was already in place and they're using Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan as an excuse to do what they had been planning and intending to do all along?

ERICA HILL, CNN HOST: Yes, it's a good question and we'll be watching. We'll be waiting. But certainly, as you point out.

And thank you for all of your reporting in the region. We certainly are going to calling on that a lot more. Thank you.

Up next, new details in stunning case out of Alabama. A 12-year-old girl chewed through her restraints and escaped from a home with two decomposing bodies inside. The sheriff joins us with new details, live, next.



HILL: A really horrific story in Alabama just getting more disturbing by the day. A sheriff calling a 12-year-old girl a hero after she chewed through restraints to escape this homme. She ultimately led investigators to two decomposing bodies inside.

Law enforcement said the girl had been assaulted, had been kept in a drugged state for about a week. Authorities arrested a 37-year-old suspect on Monday.

Tallapoosa County Sheriff Jimmy Abbett joining us now exclusively for an update.

Sheriff, good to have you with us. Thanks for taking the time this afternoon.

As I understand it, you're now able to share more about the identities of those two bodies. What have you learned?

JIMMY ABBETT, SHERIFF, TALLAPOOSA COUNTY, AL, SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: The Tallapoosa County coroner is still at this time conducting the postmortem examination, the autopsy.

We are relatively sure that Sandra Ceja is the mother and then we have a juvenile male that are the two victims that are involved in this case.

HILL: And they're related to the 12-year-old girl who escaped?

ABBETT: They are. They are. Sandra Ceja and the 12-year-old juvenile, a female and the male subject, juvenile, they are related, mother and two children.

HILL: So her mother and her brother. Do we know the age of --

ABBETT: Well, under the age of 14 on the juvenile male.

HILL: OK. It is just -- the details we're learning are horrific as we said.

Do we know what the connection is between the suspect and the mother and her children?

ABBETT: Yes. They live there in that residence. They were boyfriend and girlfriend. And they resided there, all five of them together.

HILL: So they lived there. You said five of them. Who is the fifth person?

ABBETT: Four, four, I'm sorry.

HILL: OK. ABBETT: Four lived there, the mother, two juveniles, and also Jose


HILL: Who's the suspect. But he's not the father of these children, correct?

ABBETT: That's our understanding, yes.

HILL: What more do we know about this suspect. Because he was arrested on Monday, I believe. Did he have -- was he prior -- known to law enforcement prior to this? Did he have any sort of record? Any red flags?

ABBETT: Not in this area. The investigation revealed that they moved here in February of '22.

That's the first contact we had was Monday morning with the young lady juvenile. After that, then he was arrested in Auburn, Alabama, on a first-degree kidnapping charge relative to the information that we found from the juvenile 12-year-old.

And our investigation expanded, and once it expanded, we were able to go into the residence and found the two decomposed bodies.

As a result of that, he's been charged in Alabama with kidnapping in the first degree, three capital offenses, and also abuse to the corpse.

Yesterday, he had a first appearance hearing. He has no bond and attorneys have been appointed to represent him.

HILL: Before she was able to escape, this 12-year-old girl, as I understand it, had been bound to a bed. She was kept drugged. How is she doing at this point?

ABBETT: She has been placed in the custody of the Alabama Department of Human Resources in our county. She's doing well.


She is in custody, protective custody, and also being provided all the needs that she has, the medical attention that she needs or anything. Her placement's there.

She, right now, has been, by the courts, awarded to the state of Alabama until the other placement or what may happen to her after this, you know.

HILL: The descriptions here are -- I don't think horrific or gruesome actually can really encapsulate what it is just to even read about it.

I'm just curious, have you ever come across a crime like this? It's just so awful on so many levels.

ABBETT: Yes. In our area, we're a rural area. Like you said, violent crimes do not occur here frequently. This is probably the most horrendous I've witnessed over my career involving the abuse to the corpse.

HILL: And it's tough to ask, but when you think about what this young girl must have witnessed and what she lived through in that week, and potentially even prior, has she been able to share much about what the conditions were like before this happened or how long the bodies had been there?

ABBETT: Our estimation on the investigation is that the deaths occurred on July 24th. She came forward on Monday, which was the 1st. So you're looking at seven days.

She is a very strong young lady. As I said earlier, I call her my hero.

She has been taken care of in our community here. People have reached out to our Human Resources to provide her needs. You know, that's one of the things we're doing now.

And then we're also, with the investigation, you know, moving forward with the system to move our case through the court system against this individual.

HILL: It is a lot to process, but she is an incredibly brave young woman. That's for sure.

Sheriff Abbett, I appreciate you taking the time to join us this afternoon. Thank you.

ABBETT: Thank you.

HILL: Across the country, a lot of families are preparing for back to school. Still got a pandemic going on, right? But there's some new CDC guidance that could be coming your way. What does it mean? Less testing perhaps? We'll take a look at that.

Plus, a nationwide teacher shortage with long-term impacts. A new report says some school districts even moving to a four-day workweek because they just don't have the staff.



HILL: This just into CNN. We learned the Biden administration plans to declare the monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency, potentially making a declaration as early as today.

CNN senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, is with us.

This would change some of the information sharing that would goes on, specifically about vaccines, but it's also something that other health officials have been pushing for, for some time here.

DR. ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Some states have been declaring their own public health emergencies. It may seem like it's just a name, but what declaring an emergency can

do is increase funding. It can cut down on government red tape because there are so many different agencies involved in this.

And it could also, as you were saying, it requires states to submit certain kinds of data to the CDC. That's been a big problem. When they don't submit to the CDC, it's harder for the CDC to do what it needs to do.

Let's take a look at monkeypox cases in the United States right now. If you take a look, the states that are red, they have the highest case counts.

And the cases are going up, up, up. Right now, about 6,600 cases. Last week there were far fewer. There's been about a 42 percent increase in just the course of one week. That is a lot for one week -- Erica?

HILL: Yes, it certainly is.

We're learning there are potential changes when it comes to CDC COVID guidelines. Some involve schools. What do we know about some of those changes?

COHEN: What we know is some of the things we should got used to hearing about over the past two years will be going away. This is an announcement that will happen, if not tomorrow, in the coming days.

So let's take a look at what's expected. CNN obtained documents from the CDC.

And this what they say. This could change, but at the time the documents were written, the CDC says we're going to remove the six- feet social-distancing recommendation.

All those stickers on the floor, those could go away, have to be, I guess, scraped off.

And they say, if you were exposed to COVID, you do not need to quarantine. It was true for vaccinated people. Now it's true for everybody.

Also, they say, if you have COVID, you do still need to isolate. They're not changing that.

One thing also they're not changing, they're not changing their masking recommendation to any great extent.

So let's take a look at a map of the United States. Every county you see in red here -- half the counties in the U.S.-- those people, still, it will be recommended they wear a mask indoors.

We know that's not happening. I think the CDC knows that's not happening. But they still want to recommend that it happen.

If you're at high risk, if over 65, immunocompromised, have certain illnesses, according to the new CDC guidance, you should be wearing a mask if you live in any of the red or orange counties, and that's most of the United States.

We'll see if people start masking again based on this. I doubt it. But the CDC is still going to stick with that -- Erica?

HILL: Elizabeth Cohen, I appreciate it. Thank you.

COHEN: Thanks.

HILL: COVID is not the only issue that could complicate back-to-school plans. The "Washington Post" is reporting many districts simply don't have enough teachers.


So to deal with that shortage, the districts are getting creative. "The Post" reporting some are looking at four-day workweeks, a boost in salaries, better pay, retentions bonuses. Others bringing in college students to teach who haven't finished their studies yet.

Daniel Domenech is the executive director of the School Superintendents Association and joins us now.

So, we know there's this deficit, a couple hundred thousand teachers across the country. Why is it such a big number this year?

DANIEL DOMENECH, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENTS ASSOCIATION: Well, what we're seeing, really, is an accumulation of the problems that have been developing over the last couple of years ever since the COVID started.

The issue has gotten to the point where teachers are so stressed, not only with dealing with the pandemic but dealing with a lot of the social and political issues that they're facing.

The fact that the behavior of the students coming back is very different. Behavior issues are at an all-time high in the schools.

And they're simply tired. And many of them are quitting.

And also, the shortage of employees in the private sector has the private sector offering teachers jobs with higher pay without necessarily the headaches that they feel that they're facing.

So we not only have an immediate problem in terms of the shortage, but when we look at the schools of education around the country, they're also experiencing a severe downturn in the number of students that want to be teachers.

I mean, you've seen some of the questions, some of the surveys that the teacher associations have done where teachers indicate that they're telling their kids that they shouldn't be teachers.

So, we have a major problem that we're going to have to deal with. And that's reflected in the shortage of teachers that we see all over the country. HILL: Yes. I mean, look, as the -- full disclosure -- proud daughter

of a public-school educator for her entire career, the teachers have always had to deal with a lot, but they're dealing with a heck of a lot more these days, as you point out.

When you talk about what's to come, that there are not as many people who are choosing to go into education, and with no quick fix here, what does this look like? Not even just this year but a couple of years down the road. I mean, we're looking at a different school model at this point?

DOMENECH: Yes, we are. And that's exactly what our association is exploring with universities that have schools of education like the Arizona State University.

A different model that really is more like what we see in the corporate world.

So instead of just a teacher being in a classroom all day long with 25 or more students, what we're talking about is a group of -- a team of individuals that can incorporate student teachers, can incorporate the classroom aide.

Can incorporate other staff in the building that are not necessarily teacher certified to pick up a lot of the work that teachers do and let them focus strictly on teaching and instruction.

And that's a model that districts are beginning to implement around the country, particularly in Arizona.

HILL: What's your biggest concern right now?

DOMENECH: My biggest concern is that school's going to start in September, and we're going to find that because of the absence of so many teachers, we already see what some of the districts in Texas are doing, cutting back on the number of days.

That's not going to be popular with parents. We saw during the pandemic that the parents want their kids in school.

So, they're going to have to have either larger class sizes, they're going to have to group classes together in order to be able to deal with the shortage of teachers but still have the kids in school learning.

HILL: I was also fascinated. Like, one thing that I notice in this "Post" article is that there's a, quote, "whisper network of superintendents."

Basically, alerting people, oh, I've got people moving to California or maybe Virginia where you are.

Is that really happening? Are you part of that?

DOMENECH: Yes, it is happening. And as a matter of fact, I just today -- I got at least three emails from people that read the "Washington Post" article from teachers that are looking to move to other parts of the country and wanting me to put them in contact with those districts.

So, absolutely, that's going on. But the numbers aren't enough to take care of the problem.

It's good to be able to do that and refer teachers to where there's a need, but that's not going to be enough.

HILL: Right.

Really quickly, before we let you go, how much do you see this shortage and the changes coming impacting the quality of education?

DOMENECH: Well, that's the problem. When you see states like Florida and Arizona, in essence, saying that individuals in Florida, for example, that -- individuals that have served in the armed forces can go into, if they have a certain number of college credits, and teach.

And in Arizona, a similar kind of thing where non-certified individuals can come into the classroom and teach.

You know, anybody that thinks that teaching is easy and anybody can do it, I invite them to spend just one day in a classroom with about 30 kids for about six or seven hours and then tell me how easy it is.


HILL: Yes. I think that is a perfect place to end, because it's an excellent, excellent point. There's a reason that teachers go to school for a long time and that they are trained and they have certification.

Dan, appreciate you taking the time to join us today. Thank you.

DOMENECH: Thank you for having me.

HILL: Thanks to all of you for joining me this hour as well.

Stay tuned. The news continues with Alisyn Camerota after this short break.