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Flu And RSV Hit Hard And Early, COVID-19 Now Starting To Rise; CDC: Updated COVID Booster More Effective Than Prior Version; Officials: Exercise Caution During Holidays As COVID-19 Cases Rise; Philadelphia Public Schools To Mask Up For Two Weeks After Holidays; Musk Offers Banned Journalists A Return To Twitter, With Conditions; Criminal Referrals Against Trump Expected From Jan. 6 Committee; Large Lego-Style Units Used To Create Affordable Housing Complexes; Specialized NASA Engineer Team "Red Crew" Saved Artemis Launch. Aired 12-1p ET

Aired December 17, 2022 - 12:00   ET




FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST (on camera): Hello again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredericka Whitfield.

And we begin this hour with federal health officials warning about a triple threat this holiday season: The flu, RSV, and COVID-19.

The flu spreading, with 15 million cases reported so far. And while the CDC data shows influenza hospitalizations have finally dropped, officials say it's not a sign that the flu has peaked.

All but seven states still have high or very high respiratory virus activity. So, health officials are urging everyone to get the latest vaccines.


DR. ASHISH JHA, WHITE HOUSE COVID-19 RESPONSE COORDINATOR: We've got terrific vaccines against both flu and COVID. So, we can do a lot here. This -- we are not helpless or this is not a cause for concern. To me, it's a cause for action.

The message here is what happens in the weeks and months ahead is largely dependent on us.


WHITFIELD: CNN's Gloria Pazmino, joining me now with more details on all this. Gloria, so, what are we learning from the data? How many people got their flu shots this year?

GLORIA PAZMINO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, not nearly enough, if we consider what the health department puts out as a target. 70 percent of people should ideally be vaccinated against the flu. But so far, this season, only 40 percent of adults and 46 percent of children have received their flu vaccine.

And as you said, we are in the middle of this triple threat with these two -- these three viruses: RSV, the flu, and COVID.

And all of this as we are preparing to go into the full swing of the holiday season.

Now, let's put up the numbers. Influenza in the U.S., as of a couple of days ago, 15 million cases, 150,000 hospitalizations, and 9,300 deaths.

Now, things are showing a slight sign of improvement. But I do want to put all of this in some historical context, because the numbers that we are looking at have not been this high during the flu season in at least a decade.

So, Fredie (PH), we're talking about what federal officials are asking and recommending that people do as they gear up to go into the holiday season. And it's what we have been talking about for so many months now. Vaccination, testing, and masking up when possible.

Some cities around the country, especially where those COVID rates are starting to increase have issued guidance that people should begin to mask up when they are indoors. Not a full requirement yet, but just a recommendation.

So, it is certainly possible to gather ahead of the holidays, but they are recommending that people test before that gathering and that people certainly get all of their vaccinations. Fred?

WHITFIELD: All right. Gloria Pazmino, thank you so much.

And of course, keeping with that message, Hanukkah starts tomorrow. Christmas just days away, meaning, we are all gathering.

WHITFIELD: So, federal officials are urging everyone to take advantage of available resources like COVID test, boosters, to have healthy celebrations.

COVID hospitalizations have been rising since November, and roughly one in 10 people live in a high transmission area.

CNN's Dr. Tara Narula breaks down the numbers.

DR. TARA NARULA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): As we head toward the holidays and people are gearing up to see family, officials are emphasizing the importance of protective measures, testing, and treatments for COVID.

COVID hospitalizations have been on the rise since early November, and specifically for seniors, where hospitalization rates are four times higher than for any other age group.

About 14 percent of the U.S. population is still in an area that meets the CDC's criteria for high COVID-19 community level, which is up from less than five percent last week. Some of those areas include New York City, Los Angeles County and Phoenix's Maricopa County.

For the first week of December, the U.S. had the most COVID deaths in months, which was around 3,000 for that week.

Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House COVID Response Coordinator said this week, we have the tools, we have the infrastructure, and we have the know how to manage this moment. One of those tools is testing.

The government now saying they are reopening for a limited time, so more Americans can have access to free tests.

Each household can order up to four at home tests that will ship as early as next week.


The White House is also emphasizing that people who test positive for COVID should be evaluated for treatment with antivirals like Paxlovid, especially those 50 and older and anyone with chronic conditions.

Only about 14 percent of eligible Americans have gotten an updated COVID-19 booster. So, it's important to remind Americans about the booster, so they can begin generating antibodies just in time for Christmas and New Year's.

WHITFIELD: Dr. Tara Narula, thank you so much.

So, as schools leave for winter break, one district is taking steps to prepare for the return from the holidays.

Students and staff at Philadelphia's public schools will be fully mask for two weeks after the break, an effort to fight the surge of respiratory illnesses.

I want to bring in now the superintendent for the Philadelphia School District Tony Watlington. Superintendent Watlington, good to see you. Your district made a similar move of mask requirements in August after students came back from summer break. So, how did that go?

DR. TONY WATLINGTON, SUPERINTENDENT, PHILADELPHIA SCHOOL DISTRICT: First of all, let me say thank you, Fredricka. It's always a pleasure to be with you. Happy to be here with you today.

WHITFIELD: Thank you.

WATLINGTON: It worked well for us at the beginning of the school year, and certainly, after the winter break, we're going to do the same thing. We'll mask for 10 days for students and staff -- on staff and students return on January 3rd.

WHITFIELD: Any resistance from anyone?

WATLINGTON: Well, you know, in the -- in the -- in the climate we live in now, there is always this notion about making public health a partisan issue. We are standing with the science, we have a medical officer on staff in the school district, who is -- who works. And we work very closely with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.

Not everyone agrees with the decision. But we think it's the right decision to keep our students and staff safe, because we want our staff and students to be in school and have really good attendance when we return.

WHITFIELD: So, Philadelphia is considered, you know, at a medium, you know, level for a COVID community level spread. Are there other measures that your schools are taking to help families?

WATLINGTON: We are making free COVID test available for our students and families across schools in the district. Certainly, we're doing that.

We're also making the case for our students and staff, encouraging families to be careful during the winter break, to mask when they're indoors, to continue to use good hygiene that we've been talking about for what? A couple of years now with the CDC.

And so, I think it will take a combination of measures not limited to just masking to keep our students and staff safe, and make sure we have good attendance in the school district.

WHITFIELD: So, I mentioned that you all had this kind of measure in place after the summer break. What about Thanksgiving, where lessons learned after, you know, so many family gatherings, and people traveling. And, you know, did it invite some problems, you know, a lot of illnesses in your school district. And that's why you were trying to get ahead of the game for the Christmas break?

WATLINGTON: That's right, Fredricka. In fact, after Thanksgiving, we saw an uptick in both absences in COVID cases related right after the Thanksgiving holiday.

And it lasted for up to two weeks after the Thanksgiving holiday. Now, since the winter break is certainly longer than the Thanksgiving holiday, it makes sense for us to take these measures.

You know, in the school district, it's about protecting public health, making sure our students and staff are in school regularly.

And it's really important in Philadelphia, because we are working really hard to get dropout rates down, graduation rates up. And if we're going to be the fastest improving large urban school district, one of the things that's really important is our kids have to be in school.

So, we think this is going to protect students, they have health, and it's going to -- will have an impact on student achievement.

WHITFIELD: Yes. And then, I wonder when you look at the whole landscape of, you know, education to public education. We also have been reporting on the teacher shortages for so long. You know, what -- what's your thought about, you know, the road ahead on trying to appeal to, you know, people to go into teaching. How do you recruit more, I mean, obviously, after the pandemic, after and during the pandemic that really stressed so many teachers to a limit where they just decided, you know what? This is too much.

So, there were many who retired, who moved on. How do you address the ongoing or -- ongoing teacher shortage now?

WATLINGTON: I think we have to do a couple of things, Fredricka, and I'm glad you're asked that question. Because across the country, the number of students who graduate from high school, who are choosing to go to a four-year public or private institution to become a teacher is down by about 50 percent.

And here in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, that number is down by 66 percent. So, we are expanding our recruitment of teachers, to include predominately white institutions, historically black colleges and universities all over the United States.

And we're making the case to teachers that we are going to recruit you, we're going to -- we will meet your needs. We're going to make sure that you have what you need to do the job.


And we're going to support you because we want to retain you. Because it's so important that we recruit and retain great teachers because it's the future -- it impacts our future.

And so, I'm glad you mentioned that. And the pandemic caused a lot of unsettled situations across the country not limited to the school district of Philadelphia.

But, we just have to wrap around -- arms around teachers, let them know we appreciate them and we're going to support them with the great work that they do every day.

WHITFIELD: Yes, our teachers -- I mean, invaluable. And -- you know, and too many feel underappreciated and not enough can be done to help convey how much people really do appreciate the commitment that teachers bring every day.

Philadelphia Superintendent Tony Watlington, good to see you and happy holidays.

WATLINGTON: Happy holidays to you as well. Thank you so much.

WHITFIELD: Thank you.

WATLINGTON: Good to see you.

WHITFIELD: You, as well.

All right, only making matters worse on the virus front is that many Americans are going to be inside as the bitter cold settles in. Heavy snow is threatening parts of the Northeast today as a powerful nor'easter moves across the region. The storm already dumped nearly two feet of snow in parts of New England, tearing down trees and power lines, and leaving 1000s without power.

More than 5 million people are, in fact, under winter weather alerts today.

Let's bring in CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar. So, it sounds like it's going to get worse before it gets better.

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST (on camera): Yes, I was going to say, at some point, you're going to have roughly 80 percent of the population of the lower 48 with temperatures at or below freezing over the next seven days.

And for some of those folks that begins this weekend. Right now though, we're just kind of trying to wrap up some of the snow that just kind of seems to be lingering across areas of the Northeast, and the Great Lakes region.

The heaviest right now was focused across portions of Maine. But you also have some of those heavier lake effect snow bans coming across, especially Ontario, as well as Lake Erie and Michigan.

Overall, most of these areas likely to pick up an additional four to six inches of snowfall, that's going to be your most widespread common amount.

But the highest is actually going to be right here across portions of upstate New York, areas of Pennsylvania, we're picking up an additional one foot of snow is not out of the question. And this is on top of what we've already seen.

But we talked about that cold air. Again, the surge is really going to start in the north central portion of the country before spreading across really much of the eastern half of the U.S. at some point over the next week.

Looking at the temperatures Take for example Fargo, this is the high temperature on Sunday, will tap out at four.

Then, the high temperature on Tuesday only makes it to minus six. And then, you have to factor in the wind chills on top of that, likely going to be about the minus 25 to minus 30 range.

And then again, it begins to spread. So, you're going to see Chicago's temperatures drop. Minneapolis temperatures drop, but even places farther east and farther south are going to get on in this mix. It's just going to take it several more days.

So, take for example, Atlanta, still warm in the early portion of the week. 52 for the high on Thursday, but by the time we get to Friday, that temperature plummets down to 25, and even staying cold through the weekend.

Washington, D.C., similar scenario. Those temperatures in the 40s for much of the week, dropping back, Fred, down to only 29 next Saturday.

WHITFIELD: Oh, scarves, hats. Yes, pull them out. Get ready.

CHINCHAR: Yes, all of it.

WHITFIELD: You're going to need all of it. All right, Allison Chinchar, thank you.

All right. Coming up, families are being a priced out of homes as rising inflation and lack of inventory make the search for affordable housing increasingly difficult.

Ahead, a look at one company's innovative solution to the problem.



WHITFIELD: New today, just 48 hours after banning several prominent journalists from Twitter, Elon Musk is now offering them, you know, some kind of return but only under certain conditions.

CNN's Donie O'Sullivan -- O'Sullivan, rather, was one of those suspended abruptly on Thursday. Donnie, what is Musk saying now? Are you back on or not?

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): It's a -- it's a complicated answer, Fred. This is turning to quite a saga.

So, most -- few days ago, suspended a number of journalists from national outlets here in the U.S., including myself, and all of whom, we were reporting on Musk, and reporting about his kind of obsession with this account that tracks the location of his private jet.

We didn't share his location we didn't share where his -- where he was in that precise moment. But nevertheless, Musk shut us down.

Anyway, it initially was supposed to be a permanent ban, then Musk ran a -- unscientific poll on his Twitter account, and people said, you should leave the journalists back on.

So, right now, if you log on to, you know, my Twitter account, you can see it. It looks like I'm on the platform, but I'm not actually able to tweet at the moment.

I want to show you what I see when I log in. It's a demand for us -- for me to remove this tweet that says it violated our rules against posting private information.

As you could see there, that was a tweet where I was reporting about this ElonJet account. I linked to another Twitter account which had been banned, which had posted a link to ElonJet. I didn't post a direct link to ElonJet at all.

So, right now, unless, I agree to remove that tweet at the behest of the billionaire, I won't be allowed to tweet on the platform. There is an option to appeal. So, that's what I'm doing. And we're -- we'll see what's happening. And my colleague, Oliver Darcy has been reporting on this, this morning.


And I also spoke to the Washington Post journalist Drew Harwell, whose also been banned. He too, I believe, is appealing this.

So, we'll see -- we'll see what happens. It's all getting a bit absurd.

WHITFIELD: And so, what does this all say about Musk and his idea of free speech in journalism? And, you know, perhaps the overhaul future of Twitter?

O'SULLIVAN: Yes. You know, obviously, for somebody like me, I have a platform here on CNN. And I can also post on other social media platforms. You know, I mentioned during the week that it could be concerning for independent or freelance journalists or journalists, who cover Musk and his other companies like Tesla and SpaceX.

And what my colleague Oliver Darcy has reported this afternoon is that, that's appears to be kind of now what is happening.

Another journalist, Linette Lopez, who has covered Musk for years, had her account suspended, and is not entirely clear why her account was banned.

So, look, I think this could potentially have a chilling effect on how people report on Musk. But again, Twitter is a private company. You know, Musk can do whatever he wants. He can ban whoever he wants.

But it is, of course, somewhat hypocritical of him to, you know, hold up this free speech, mantle while also shutting down journalists.

Briefly, I would just mention, to be fair to Musk, you know, the idea of people being able to track your private jet, you know, could be concerning, and of course, could be a safety risk.

But the kind of mental gymnastics that they're going through here to shut down reporters who are reporting about this, there's a lot there.

So, look, and finally, I will have to say, obviously, ElonJet was using publicly available information to track the whereabouts of his private jet.

WHITFIELD: All right. Donie O'Sullivan, thanks so much.


WHITFIELD: All right. Nearly two years after starting their investigation, the January 6 committee is days away from their final report.

We've just learned they are expected to announce multiple criminal referrals to the DOJ against former President Trump. Details next.



WHITFIELD: Nearly two years after the Capitol insurrection and a major move by the House committee investigating the attack, the January 6 select committee is expected to refer at least three criminal charges against former President Donald Trump to the Justice Department.

CNN's Sara Murray has more on what could happen at Monday's final hearing.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: -- doing. We will never give up, we will never concede. It doesn't happen.

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The January 6 committee considering asking the Justice Department to pursue criminal charges against former President Donald Trump.

TRUMP: And we fight. We fight like hell.

MURRAY: A source telling CNN, those charges include obstruction of an official proceeding, and conspiracy to defraud the federal government, and there could be more.

Members huddling behind closed doors to put the finishing touches on the final report they plan to unveil next week.

REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): I've spent countless hours along with the other committee members going through the report and the appendixes, looking at the footnotes, editing.

MURRAY: Chairman Bennie Thompson, saying the committee will lay out its top line findings in Monday's public meeting.

With plans to share an executive summary of the panel's sprawling investigation. And perhaps, even the bulk of the report, if it's finished in time.

REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): We have made decisions that criminal referrals will happen.

MURRAY: The committee also planning to reveal who they think should be held accountable. With referrals for possible state bar discipline, referrals for possible campaign finance violation, referrals to the House Ethics Committee, and referrals to the Department of Justice for possible criminal prosecution.

THOMPSON: We have left no doubt, none, that Donald Trump led an effort to upend American democracy that directly resulted in the violence of January 6th.

MURRAY: Lawmakers especially focused in their hearings and public appearances on Trump's potential culpability.

REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): I think he's guilty of a crime. He knew what he did. We've made that clear. He knew what was happening prior to January 6th.

MURRAY: While the referrals will lay a marker for posterity --

KINZINGER: Where I think this work is going to actually echo the loudest, though, is not even necessarily tomorrow, not even if the Justice Department does, it's going to echo through the history book.

MURRAY: Trump is already facing scrutiny from the Justice Department in its probe into the attack on the U.S. Capitol in efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

Some of his top allies in the scheme, lawyers Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, and former DOJ official Jeffrey Clark, all faced investigations from state bars.



MURRAY: Clarks home also searched.

CLARK: Going to put pants on first?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, you got to clear the house.

MURRAY: As he faces DOJ scrutiny as well. An unsealed court filing this week revealing federal investigators have accessed e-mails between Clark and Representative Scott Perry, who refused to talk to the January 6 committee.


MURRAY (on camera): Now, when it comes to the committee, in addition to referring to DOJ that they pursue charges of obstruction of an official proceeding and conspiracy to defraud the federal government, we're also learning they are expected to refer to DOJ or charge of insurrection.

Now, these are all mostly symbolic. The Justice Department does not take its cues from Congress, of course. But lawmakers on this committee have felt like it's important for the historical record and to sum up their work.


They say they have found evidence of criminal activity and they feel like it's important to put that forward to the Department of Justice.

Sara Murray, CNN, Washington.

WHITFIELD: All right, let's talk further on this with me now to talk about it is Michael Zeldin. He is a former federal prosecutor and host of the podcast, That's It With Michael Zeldin. Good to see you, Michael.


WHITFIELD: All right, so let's look at these what is expected to be the three charges that sources say the Committee is expected to announce against Trump, obstruction of an official proceeding, conspiracy to defraud the federal government, and insurrection. What's your view on these?

ZELDIN: Well, they track the evidence that the Committee has presented to us over these many hearings. The first two charges are very similar. They both stem from the effort to prevent the certification one by defrauding the government they won by obstructing the actual count and designation. The last one insurrection is really best seen as incitement? How did Donald Trump or whoever else they refer, incite the crowd to do this? We saw the speeches ellipse. Those are a little bit challenging, because they may have First Amendment issues connected to them.

But then there was this event where Trump tweeted after Mike Pence said he was not going to deny the certification. And Trump essentially said to the troops, let's go, it's time to act. And I think that's a very easier case for incitement. So I think there are solid grounds for these three counts and we'll see if Trump gets referred and who else gets referred?

WHITFIELD: Do you believe there might be other referrals?

ZELDIN: I think that there's a good chance that there could be contempt of Congress. Remember, Donald Trump, private citizen, had no right to refuse to appear. In my estimation, he had no good faith basis, to object and he just flat out refused. There could be contempt charges there. Similarly, with members of Congress, we've seen that tweets to Mark Meadows where they're saying, you've got to stop this, he has to declare martial law. That may be stuff that could be seen as contemptuous, or obstructionist.

But if not, if not a referral to the DOJ, there could be referrals to state bar associations with the lawyers like Giuliani, and Eastman, and it could be referrals to the House Ethics Committee for members of Congress for violating the code of conduct of the Congress.

WHITFIELD: So these referrals would largely be symbolic, right? I mean, the DOJ doesn't need the referrals in order to proceed. Is it your view that the DOJ already has similar evidence, or perhaps even plucked some evidence from the Committee's work that they are combining into their ongoing investigation?

ZELDIN: I think the latter, I think that the DOJ because it has subpoena power, broader than the Committee probably has been able to gather evidence that the Committee has not been able to get they've, as you know, had Cipollone and other DOJ lawyers into, and White House lawyers rather, into the grand jury, and House couldn't get them.

And the House, though, has gotten a big head start on DOJ with its deposition. So I think that DOJ will hear these referrals as a serious act of view of by the Committee that there is criminal activity, they'll combine it with their grand jury evidence, and then they'll make a final determination.

WHITFIELD: And when Committee Chairman Thompson says to CNN that in addition to these criminal referrals, there may also be quote, other categories of referrals that the Committee makes, what would that mean?

ZELDIN: Well, with respect to anyone who's a lawyer, that has involved -- been involved in the effort to prevent the certification or put forth the false electors, I think their law licenses could very well be in jeopardy. We saw that Rudy Giuliani's law license has already been suspended in New York. He's pending revocation of that license in D.C. I think the same will be true for Eastman and Clark, and all those who are involved in that effort.

And I think as I said a moment ago, I think that some of the members of Congress who were tweeting Mark Meadows to encourage Trump to impose martial law, they will have violated the standards of conduct of the House, and that could be referred to the Ethics Committee for some sort of sanctioning.

WHITFIELD: So after being appointed just last month, Special Counsel Jack Smith's team, maybe a lot of folks aren't even remembering him, but he has been, you know, appointed as a special counsel here. They have sent subpoenas to local and state officials in seven key states targeted by Trump in his attempt to overturn the 2020 election. He's also brought in Number of Trump allies in before a grand jury how big is this getting in your view?


ZELDIN: It's really getting big and small at the same time. It seems to me that they've cast a wide net, around a very specific set of charges, specifically defrauding the government through this false electoral scheme. So you set out a big net, you gather as much evidence as you can, and you then laser focus it on the statutes that it violates. So I think we're seeing both things here. We see what they have in mind with these defrauding types of offenses. And then we see how they're casting this wide net to get as much information as available to them as possible.

WHITFIELD: All right, Michael Zeldin, always great to see you, happy holidays.

ZELDIN: Happy holidays, Fred.

WHITFIELD: And thank you.

ZELDIN: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: And don't forget, thank you again, you can watch our live special coverage of the January 6th hearings starting Monday at noon Eastern. And we'll be right back.


WHITFIELD: Welcome back, many Americans are struggling to find a place to live, according to data released from RealtyHop, Miami, Los Angeles and New York are the least affordable cities in the U.S., with homeowners paying over 80 percent of their income just on housing. It's forcing some to look for creative alternative solutions. CNN's David Culver shows us the so called sophisticated Legos.


LARRY PACE, COO & CO-FOUNDER, FACTORY OS: So this is where the floors and the volumes themselves get built.

DAVID CULVER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Keeping up with Larry Pace --

PACE: Don't touch it.

CULVER (voice-over): -- is not easy.

PACE: Excuse me, fellas.

CULVER (voice-over): He moves through the floor of Factory OS --

PACE: What are you all doing?

CULVER (voice-over): -- with the sense of urgency.

PACE: All right, come on.

CULVER (voice-over): Located just outside San Francisco, this space was first designed to build U.S. Navy submarines.

PACE: This space is built for World War II.

CULVER (voice-over): Eight decades later, it's now transformed to fight a worsening crisis on American moment front.

PACE: This is a war we're in. We're in a war to combat the affordability and the housing prices.

CULVER (voice-over): The Factory OS puts home building onto an assembly line and out the door within two weeks. These modular units when combined make apartment buildings. Think sophisticated Legos.

Production starts with a high-tech expedited design process. You're looking at the plants for Beacon Landing, an 89-unit affordable housing complex to be built south of downtown L.A. Insulation and dry wall, flooring and fixtures all prefabricated right here in the factory.

(on camera): I mean, does it all work?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would like to think so.

CULVER: So look down this line and see what we're doing for the community is mind-blowing.

(voice-over): The need also overwhelming. In Southern California, look past the glamour of Los Angeles' Hollywood hills, the tents speak to desperation. According to 2019 figures, the state needed an estimated million more homes just to meet housing demand. Nationally, the home shortage jumped to roughly 3.8 million. That's more than double the number from a decade ago.

(on camera): But it's more than just boosting housing inventory, inflation, zoning inequalities also contributing factors to why people just can't buy homes.

(voice-over): To purchase a house in more than 75 percent of the nation's most populous cities, an average family spends 30 percent of their income. In cities like Miami, New York, or L.A., it surges to more than 80 percent of an average family's income. It's forced folks to seek other options for moving in and converting garages and smaller units on someone else's property, to expanding a civil rights-era approach that helps promote home ownership, particularly among minority groups.

IXCHEL HERNANDEZ, COMMUNITY LAND TRUST MEMBER: It shouldn't have to be that way where you're going to, you know, have to move so far out of, you know, L.A. to be able to have a home.

CULVER (voice-over): Ixchel Hernandez's family moved here when she was about four. At one point, they had six people crammed into their one- bedroom apartment.

Thank God we never fell short on rent, her dad says. But as renters for more than 20 years, they constantly worried about a new landlord wanting to sell the property or raise rent. That is until this year, when the Hernandez's and their neighbors joined a community land trust or CLT as they're known. A CLT is essentially a nonprofit that buys the land on which a building sits, allowing the communities' residents to collectively manage it. Some residents eventually form a co-op and take ownership of their buildings, paying rent for the land.

HERNANDEZ: It may not seem like a lot to a lot of folks that have money or come from money. It's just, you know, we are just as much trying to build that generational wealth.

CULVER (voice-over): Today, there are at least five community land trusts in Los Angeles with more than 200 nationwide and counting. What's important is that we're now owners, her mom says. It was not easy, her dad reminds them.


CULVER (voice-over): About an hour's drive south from the Hernandez home, we watched as the modular units arrived from the bay area, hoisted from a truck and placed onto a cement foundation, block by block. That beacon landing design we showed you earlier is quickly coming to life, affordable housing coming summer 2023. It's not only the nonprofits trying to help, Factory OS also aiming to ease the housing burden and commute time for its own employees. MATTHEW JOHNSON, FACTORY OS EMPLOYEE: Just to be able to like, OK, I'm going to wake up, I'm going to take a walk down the street and come to work, you know, I mean, that's awesome.

CULVER (voice-over): The company planning to convert this vacant lot nearby into employer-assisted housing. But to successfully fight the dire housing crisis nationally, Larry believes it will take the government mobilizing now.


PACE: We all need to work on it together and we can reverse this tide.

CULVER (on camera): The war is not lost.

PACE: The war is absolutely not lost.


WHITFIELD: David Culver, thanks for bringing us that report.

All right, straight ahead, a CNN exclusive. The third time was a charm for the historic NASA Artemis moon mission launch but a liquid hydrogen fuel leak almost scrapped it. How a wrench and three very brave members of the Red Crew saved the Artemis mission.



WHITFIELD: This is probably something you didn't know as the most powerful rocket ever built prepared for liftoff last month, a highly flammable fuel leak threatened to upend the multibillion dollar launch, until a specialized team of engineers known as the Red Crew, save the day. Kristin Fisher has this CNN exclusive.


KRISTIN FISHER, CNN SPACE & DEFENSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At T minus three hours, 17 minutes and counting until the third launch attempt of the most powerful rocket ever built, NASA's Launch team detects a problem.

DERROL NAIL, NASA: The launch team is tracking an intermittent leak.

FISHER (voice-over): Highly flammable liquid hydrogen fuel is leaking at the launch pad. And there's only one way to stop it.

NAIL: The only way to fix it at this moment is to send a Red Crew.

CHAD GARRETT, ARTEMIS RED CREW SAFETY ENGINEER: That's when they said, OK, Red Crew, we need to send Red Crew.

FISHER (voice-over): Chad Garrett is a member of the Red Crew, a team of highly specialized engineers trained to work inside the blast zone.

GARRETT: They asked my lead who's your Red Crew person? And he asked for a volunteer and I said I'll go.

FISHER (on camera): This rocket is basically one big bomb on the launch pad. You're volunteering to go into a very dangerous place.

GARRETT: Well, yes. Yes, I guess it was dangerous. But that wasn't really in my mind. The urgency in my mind was let's try to get this resolved so we can continue with the countdown.

FISHER (voice-over): With the launch on the line, Chad and two other members of the Red Crew, Billy Cairns and Trent Annis made the four mile drive to the launch pad. Billy had been on the team for 38 years. But for all three, it was their first time going inside the blast danger zone and standing next to a fully fueled rocket.

GARRETT: It is hissing. It is venting. You kind of get this feeling that it is a living creature that it's, you know, that's a lot of energy. You can just sense it and feel it.

FISHER (voice-over): As Chad monitor the air quality to make sure the leaking hydrogen wasn't exceeding the lethal exposure limit. Trent got to work trying to save a multibillion dollar rocket launch by tightening the loose valve with a good old fashioned wrench.

GARRETT: He really had to work in there and really do some delicate tinkering to get that bolt torque down to the right pressure.

FISHER (voice-over): It took 30 minutes of dangerous work. But they stopped the leak.

NAIL: The work is complete. Three, two, one, boosters and ignition, and lift off of Artemis 1.

GARRETT: I just, I get choked up when I think about it and talking about it. It was just a magnificent, wonderful spectacle.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right now we're actually joined by members of the Red Crew. And the three of you guys really, I would say save the day today.

FISHER (on camera): What was more nerve wracking, being out at the launch pad or being interviewed on T.V.?

GARRETT: Probably being interviewed.

I was very, very comfortable, very confident in the test team and the procedures and our training. We did a great job.

TRENT ANNIS, RED CREW CRYOGENIC ENGINEERING TECHNICIAN: It's pretty scary. So on zero deck, my heart was pumping. My nerves were going but, yes, we showed up today. I think as soon as we walked up the stairs, we were ready to rock and roll.

FISHER (voice-over): NASA Administrator Bill Nelson thank them for what he described as their heroism and professionalism. Well, astronaut Nicole Mann up at the International Space Station, told CNN that the Red Crew exemplified why spaceflight is a team sport. NICOLE MANN, NASA ASTRONAUT: It's the team of people that come in the last minute and make those faces and make those corrections so that we can launch and be successful. It's really a effort of thousands and thousands of people.

GARRETT: They all started cheering and clapping and telling me, you know, you guys save the -- save the launch, you saved the space program and all these things. I thought they were just pulling my leg, it was very flattering and humbling because like I said, I've been any one of my teammates could have done exactly what I did.

FISHER (voice-over): Kristin Fisher, CNN, Washington.


WHITFIELD: Congratulations. Wow. What a great story that is.

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ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Anderson Cooper each of this year's top 10 CNN Heroes proves that one person really can make a difference. And again this year, we're making it easy for you to support their great work. Just go to and click Donate beneath any 2022 Top 10 CNN Hero to make a direct contribution to that hero's fundraiser. You'll receive an email confirming your donation which is tax deductible in the United States.

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