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Two Dead, Thousands Evacuated As Torrential Rain Inundates California; Biden Approves Emergency Assistance For California Following Flooding; U.S. Markets Plunge After Silicon Valley Bank Shutdown; New York Prosecutor Invite Trump To Testify In Hush Money Probe. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired March 11, 2023 - 07:00   ET




PAULA REID, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning and welcome to CNN THIS MORNING. I'm Paula Reid in for Amara Walker.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Paula. I'm Boris Sanchez. Thank you so much for starting your morning with us. And thank you to Paula, for filling in for Amara. I know these hours, they're not really easy to work, but we're grateful for you being here. And Paula, stop me if you've ever heard of an atmospheric river before, are you familiar with those?

REID: I'm absolutely not. I had to look it up this morning, so I could understand all these incredible stories that we're watching this morning.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can't live like this. How do you live like this?


REID: California soaked by another round of storms. Those atmospheric rivers are washing out roads, collapsing bridges and prompting evacuations. The latest on the damage and where the severe weather is headed, next.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A lot of money is in the bag. I don't know how we're going to do our payroll. I don't know what we're going to do now.


SANCHEZ: A stunning collapse. Silicon Valley Bank folding, marking the second largest bank failure in U.S. history, leaving some business owners scrambling to figure out how they're going to pay their employees.

REID: And former President Trump is invited to testify before the grand jury investigating his alleged role in hush money payments to Stormy Daniels. Why the timing of this invitation is significant and where the case stands now.

SANCHEZ: And yet another Norfolk Southern train derails, this time in Alabama. The questions this latest derailment is raising about safety on railway tracks as crews begin the cleanup process.

And we start this morning with that severe weather, these atmospheric river's excessive rainfall impacting millions of people across northern and central California. Even more rain is expected today but it's not expected to be anything like the torrential rain that battered parts of the Golden State on Friday. Over a foot of rain fell in some spots, sending rivers rushing into homes and forcing residents to flee.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've never ever seen it this much water here in Kernville.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Scary. If that bridge washes out, we're going to be in a lot of trouble.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How do I have my kids here? How do I have my elderly mother live here where I carry her out of her house?

REID (voiceover): In Santa Cruz County nearly 700 residents are stranded after the only road in and out of one neighborhood was completely washed away. Crews are working to get a temporary road built, but it could take several days.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's unimaginable. I just could not believe, if you told me this is going to occur, never.

REID: At least two people have died as a result of the storms. President Biden has approved emergency assistance for California in response to flooding and landslides.


SANCHEZ (on camera): We want to get the latest on what is happening from a bird's eye view. So, let's go to CNN's Britley Ritz, she's live for us at the weather center. Britley, the storm is now moving to the east. So, walk us through what we're going to see today.

BRITLEY RITZ, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Absolutely, Boris, we've noticed the rain starting to taper back a bit which is great, but we do have another atmospheric river on the way late into the weekend and upcoming workweek, which is why we're still holding on to the flood threat. With that slight risk for parts of the central Sierra, Nevada region and then back on up into Northern California Saturday and Sunday with the westerly winds kicking in, but that next system continues to get closer. And additional one to three inches of rain expected in the lower

elevations higher elevations, 36-plus more inches of snowfall. That system tracks east bringing in blizzard conditions to the north and severe weather across the southeast. See the blizzard warnings in effect across the northern plains back into the upper Midwest are highlighted in orange. Winter storm warning still in effect and winter weather advisories, but those will start to taper back a bit.

There's the snow already falling across the northern plains in upper Midwest heavy snow. I'm sure visibility down to near as zeros to travel not advise out that direction but holding on to the threat for severe weather across the southeast Saturday and again into Sunday. Hail being one of the bigger concerns, but wind and isolated tornadoes cannot be ruled out as we progress throughout the weekend. Paula and Boris.


SANCHEZ: And it looks like that mess is headed straight to Paula and I in D.C. and you as well in Atlanta, Britley. So, we have that to look forward to this week. Britley Ritz, thank you so much.

In economic news, President Biden is touting another better-than- expected jobs report after the U.S. economy added 311,000 jobs last month, a pullback from the 504,000 jobs that were added in that blockbuster January report. Still, though, a historically strong result.

REID: Strong, indeed, and the unemployment rate ticked up to 3.6 percent. Still, though, nearly the lowest in 50 years, and hiring was highest in the leisure and hospitality sectors with 105,000 jobs added. But, of course, all eyes are on the Federal Reserve as the strong numbers could lead to a larger rate hike later this month. And on Wall Street, U.S. markets ended the week down after the sudden collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, Friday. It's the second largest failure of a financial institution in American history.

SANCHEZ: The federal regulators, the FDIC, has stepped in. They say that account holders are going to get their money back no later than Monday, up to the $250,000 insurance limit. But with more than $200 billion in assets and the soaring interest rates, investors are worried about the potential for a ripple effect into other markets. CNN's Matt Egan has the details.

MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: This happened so fast, it is stunning. Silicon Valley Bank may not be a household name, but it held $200 billion-plus in assets. That makes this the second biggest collapse of a bank in U.S. history behind only the 2008 implosion of Washington Mutual.


EGAN (voiceover): Now, the FDIC has seized control of this bank. The FDIC says that depositors will get access to their cash by Monday morning up to the $250,000 insurance limit. But we know that some startups and individuals, and small businesses, they hold more than $250,000 at this bank. And it's not really clear what's going to happen and whether or not they're going to get all of their money back.


EGAN (on camera): So, how did we get here? How did we get here so fast? Well, shares of this bank's parent company collapsed 60 percent on Thursday, after warning of a rapid need to raise cash, and that appear to spark a run on the bank with some companies racing to pull their money. This is also a symptom of the Federal Reserve's war on inflation because we know that interest rate spikes like the one going on right now, it tends to break things somewhere in the financial market.

We also know that the Feds rate hikes have hurt the value of a tech companies, the same tech companies that Silicon Valley Bank caters to. It's also hurt the value of the bonds that banks like this one rely on for funding. Now, U.S. financial regulators they held an unscheduled meeting on Friday to discuss this bank failure, and I spoke to Treasury Deputy Secretary Wally Adeyemo, and asked him what he thinks about the situation. Listen to what he said.


WALLY ADEYEMO, TREASURY DEPUTY SECRETARY: The federal regulators are paying attention to this particular financial institution. And that, when we think about the broader financial system, we're very confident in the ability, in the resilience of the system. And also, the fact that we have the tools that are necessary to deal with incidents like what's happened to Silicon Valley Bank.


EGAN: Now, thankfully, experts I'm talking to, they're hopeful that this is more of an isolated incident than a systemic one. Most banks are not as exposed as this one to one single sector. Major banks they lend to, not just tech companies but retailers, and factories and media companies. Moody's Chief Economist Mark Zandi, he told me that he doesn't think that this failure is a sign of broader trouble in banking, and that the system is as well capitalized as ever. Let's hope so, because the last thing we need is a series of bank failures. Back to you.

SANCHEZ: Agree with that. Matt Egan, thanks so much. Let's break down all the economic news now with CNN Economic and Political Commentator Catherine Rampell. Catherine, good morning. Great to have you as always. From the White House to the Treasury and its economists they all say that this does not appear to be something widespread, a domino effect like it was in 2008. Nevertheless, when you hear it's the second largest failure of a financial institution in U.S. history, you get a big concern. So, how bad do you think the exposure is here?


CATHERINE RAMPELL, CNN ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Again, this is nothing like 2008, when there was a fear of real systemic contagion throughout the global financial sector. We are seeing some other banks, experienced some stress, depositors pulling their money out, stocks falling, other kind of mid-sized regional banks, like Western alliance, or first republic. That is the contagion effect that sometimes happens in this scenario.

But the largest banks in the United States, the Bank of Americas and JP Morgans in cities, they've been affected a little bit if you look at their stock prices, but they're much better capitalized, they're much bigger, they have a much more diversified portfolio. And it does seem unlikely that you would have the same kind of, you know, really scary domino effect that we saw during the financial crisis in 2008.

SANCHEZ: Yes, definitely feels like we've had enough contagions over the last few years. Catherine, how much is this failure of SVB related to interest rate hikes?

RAMPELL: They're very closely linked. So, there were a few things that happened with Silicon Valley Bank. One is that it invested in these longer dated mortgage bonds and treasury bonds that kind of pay reliable safe returns that make a lot of sense when interest rates are low. But when interest rates go up, there are other things that look a lot more attractive.

And the, end the price of those, those longer dated assets, those you know, sort of safe and stable things starts to go down. So, essentially, what happened here was Silicon Valley Bank made some investments that in a completely different economy would have made total sense, in an, in an economy where interest rates were rising. You end up having people worried about the value of the things that the bank holds.

And then, that can -- if, if, like people start chattering about, I'm not sure that that bank is worth as much as we thought before that can feed on itself and become a self-fulfilling prophecy because people start pulling their money out of the bank, and you end up with a bank run. You know, it's sort of similar to It's a Wonderful Life. You know, I'm oversimplifying, but it's the same kind of idea that that kind of panic about is that am I ever going to be able to get my money out, I better get it out today, feeds on itself.

And you know, it's not the intended cause of rate, rising interest rates, but it is a risk. And beyond that, you know, a lot of the companies that banked with this institution, were also themselves affected by higher interest rates, you know, higher interest rates have made the business models, a lot of, a lot of these startups much more challenging. So, all of these things compounded.

SANCHEZ: Yes, and as we've seen over the last few job reports, including the one that came out yesterday, tech is going through this sort of weird rolling-ish recession. I wanted to get your thoughts on the inflation number that we saw yesterday: 6.4 percent, down 0.1 percent from December, still much higher than that two percent target that the Fed has said. How are you going to cool inflation if the job market is still overperforming?

RAMPELL: Yes, it's a funny problem to have. Normally, one would think, oh, the more jobs the better; the more wage gains, the better. But in the current economy, the fact that all of these numbers keep coming in month after month, much stronger than forecast, is actually a little bit problematic, because it means that the economy still looks like it's overheating no matter what the Fed does, almost.

The Fed has raised interest rates again, eight times in the past year, and you still have this really, really strong demand. And so, the question right now is how much more does the Federal Reserve need to raise interest rates to, to cool down that demand and therefore hopefully, cooled down price growth. Now, the more that they raise interest rates, obviously, the more that battle, you know --


REID: What this means for where the case stands and whether he's likely to appear.

And another Norfolk Southern train derailment, this time in Alabama. CNN is there as the cleanup gets underway, plus the questions now facing the company after just the latest accident.


REID: A source tells CNN that former President Trump is meeting with his legal team this weekend to consider his options after being invited to appear next week before a Manhattan grand jury. The panel is investigating his alleged role in a hush money payment scheme involving adult film star Stormy Daniels. That invitation is a sign that a decision on indicting Trump is probably next.

Joining us now, Defense Attorney and former Federal Prosecutor Shan Wu. Shan, you're the perfect person to talk about this with. I want to start out by talking about the timeline. This investigation has been going on for five years, suddenly over the past several weeks we've seen this uptick in activity in this grand jury. Do we have any idea why now?

SHAN WU, DEFENSE ATTORNEY AND FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: No. One could speculate that there's some public criticism of Bragg after Mark Pomerantz has published his book. Obviously, there's been a lot of publicity about Georgia and maybe being the first was Danny Willis' investigation to indict Trump, but we really don't know.

And Alvin Bragg in the past has not shown any appetite for taking on Trump, when they had the, they inherited the case from Cyrus Vance, which had been worked up over a course of years on the financial crimes.

And Bragg, apparently, from public reporting killed that case. He went after the organization and took sort of a weak plea from Weisselberg. But now, suddenly, he seems very interested in pursuing a case that's really been languishing for all this time. That's not his fault, but the sudden interest, it's mysterious.

REID: Mysterious, indeed. Now, I also want to talk about another important part of this case, which is Michael Cohen. If they were to indict the former president, he would be a big part of this case. As it has been widely reported, we know he is a convicted liar. But you've pointed out correctly that plenty of times cooperating witnesses have complicated past, previous convictions. But I also want to ask you, I mean, in addition to be a convicted liar, for the past five years, Michael Cohen has run to every camera available to disparage his former boss, is that going to be a problem if he is put on the witness stand?

WU: It may or may not be a dispositive problem for conviction, but it certainly gives a lot of ammunition for the defense attorneys to weigh in to them in terms of his bias for one thing, as well, of course, as his credibility.

Anytime you have a witness who has made a lot of prior statements, it gives the defense some fuel to go after them and go, and as you pointed out, has been doing nonstop talking, on this point, begging for the prosecution to happen.

So, he'll experience some tough cross examination. I think on the facts, his timeline has been pretty consistent, though, and he obviously has had a lot of experience testifying under oath even in Congress. So, I think he should hold up well with that.

REID: Now, we did invite one former President Trump's attorneys to come on today. They declined. But I want to ask you, if you are representing the former president, would you encourage him to go before the grand jury to accept this invitation?

WU: Absolutely not. Most, most defense counsel would not want that to happen. And also, Trump, like many very powerful people believes himself to be great at handling himself with questions, marketing, making his pitch. It's not like that in the grand jury. He doesn't really have control over what he's being asked.

And if he rambles on, he tends to just incriminate himself and look bad. There have been many instances of people, particularly executive types, thinking that they're going to do well in front of a jury or grand jury, and they're usually wrong about that poll.

REID: All right. Shan, thank you so much for joining us. Appreciate it.

WU: Good to see you.

SANCHEZ: They are competing for the presidency, but also the future of the Republican Party. Declared Republican candidates Nikki Haley and Donald Trump and likely presidential candidate, Ron DeSantis, all making stops in Iowa. DeSantis is holding off on announcing his candidacy, but according to sources, it is clear that he is running. We get the story now from CNN Chief National Affairs Correspondent Jeff Zeleny.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on his maiden voyage to Iowa. GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): I bring greetings from the free state of Florida.

ZELENY: Riding a wave of lofty expectations to the state that opens the Republican presidential contest in less than a year. People lined up to catch a glimpse of the governor who technically is promoting his book.

DESANTIS: This is the number one best-selling non-fiction book in the country.

ZELENY: But actually, is testing the White House bid that he intends to make official by summer.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Welcome to Iowa. This is your first trip.

ZELENY: DeSantis has told advisers he will wait until the Florida legislative session ends. So, he can campaign on an even bolder agenda, one that is delighting supporters and alarming critics.

DESANTIS: I always tell my legislators, you watch Iowa, watch that, watch these -- do not let them get ahead of us on any of this stuff. So, we've got our legislature in session now. So, buckle up, the next 60 days should be fine in Florida.

ZELENY: He's stoking the culture wars in schools.

DESANTIS: We're also leading on ensuring that our school system is focusing on educating our kids not indoctrinating our kids.

ZELENY: And beyond.

DESANTIS: We've got to fight. If we see it in medicine, or the universities, or the corporation, you can't just say let it go, because then we're going to be living under an oppressive Woke-cracy.

ZELENY: Holding up his Florida record as a blueprint for a national platform and presenting himself as a doer, not a talker.

DESANTIS: A leader is not captive to polls. We don't have palace- intrigue, we don't have any drama, it's just execution every single day. I'll build the wall myself. I'll do it. This let me at them, we'll get it done.

ZELENY: That was a subtle, yet unmistakable distinction with Donald Trump, who visits Iowa on Monday. The 2024 Republican campaign is intensifying, with former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, urging Iowa voters to keep an open mind.

NIKKI HALEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Whatever the polls tell you today, that is not where the polls are going to be a year from now.

ZELENY: But for many Republicans, the Florida Governor stands as a beacon of hope for those who admire Trump, but are eager to move on.

BECKY GRIESBACH, REPUBLICAN VOTER: I would love to have him as our next president.

ZELENY: Becky Griesbach was among those eager to see DeSantis close up.

GRIESBACH: President Trump has been an amazing president, but he alienates too many people with what he says. And I think just Governor DeSantis is doing a good job in appealing to Americans.


ZELENY (on camera): The Florida governor on Friday was met with an enthusiastic response from Iowa Republicans, particularly those who are eager to turn the page from Donald Trump. But it should be pointed out: Donald Trump, of course won the state of Iowa in two general elections, 2016 and 2020. He has a deep reservoir of support here as well. He comes to the campaign in the state on Monday. Jeff Zeleny, CNN, Des Moines.


SANCHEZ: Jeff, thank you so much for that report. Still ahead, it is the third the third Norfolk Southern train to derail in just over a month. This time it happens on the same day the company's CEO is testifying before Congress. We're going to have the very latest, next.



SANCHEZ: We got a quick check of your morning's top stories.

A senior advisors say that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is itching to go home. He's eager to be discharged from the hospital after his recent fall.

Doctors are treating the 81-year-old for a concussion after he fell and hit his head during a fundraising dinner on Wednesday in D.C. and had to be taken to the hospital.

His adviser said the Senate's top Republican is acting normally and working from his hospital room.

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): And the SpaceX Dragon Endurance is headed back to Earth after more than five months in space.

The spacecraft and its crew undocked from the International Space Station early this morning, carrying a crew of four. Endurance is expected to splashdown off the coast of Florida tonight.

REID: And a recent string of train derailments in the U.S. is putting a spotlight on rail safety. Officials say they believe there are nearly 700 rail cars nationwide that could have an issue with defective, loose wheels, similar to the train derailment in Springfield, Ohio last week.

SANCHEZ: And right now, cleanup efforts are underway in Alabama, where another Norfolk Southern train derailed earlier this week.

CNN's Ryan Young brings us the latest.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Boris and Paula, you can see behind me this train derailment that happened here in Alabama.

YOUNG (voice over): The locomotive sitting right there, those toppled over rail cars really nearby. This isn't a rural area, about 70 miles away from Birmingham.

But this is the latest train derailment that has people in the country asking questions about how and why so many accidents are happening.

But it's really from the air that you get an understanding for how massive this site is, because there'll be more than 30 rail cars that toppled over.

The good news here, it appears that there's no sort of chemical agent on board, and there's no environmental cleanup.

But obviously, it's a big mess. And this train track has been blocked for quite some time. This happening around 6:45 a.m. on Thursday morning.

The NTSB is investigating, and they are talking about how they're going to take care of this in the next few days.


CONNOR SPIELMAKER, CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER, NORFOLK SOUTHERN: We'll work as quickly but as safely as possible. Sometimes it can be, you know, a matter of hours. Sometimes, typically, with an environment like this, where it's a little bit more challenging to get to the site, and we will make sure that everyone is on the same page. It could be a little bit longer.


YOUNG: Yes, you can see some of the heavy equipment that's been brought in to sort of make things right here.

They've also brought in new rail tracks that they're going to put in place once this is all been sorted out. But still just a lot of questions, especially in rural America about these trains that are moving through their communities and what's causing them to have so many accidents. Its answers have people hope to have sometime soon.

Boris and Paula?

REID: Yes, we need those answers and soon.

Coming up, for the first time in two decades, the FDA is issuing new mammography requirements. What doctors will soon have to tell their patients? That's next.



SANCHEZ: This is a really important story. It has been more than a year now since Congress passed a law requiring the U.S. military to step up efforts to prevent suicide among service members.

REID: And more than a year later, it has yet to be implemented. CNN's Oren Liebermann went looking for why.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice over): On June 25th, 2018, Brandon Caserta set the law that would bear his name into motion.


PATRICK CASERTA, FATHER OF BRANDON CASERTA: He said, I'm depressed. They said, suck it up and get back to work. And you can't have that. That's not how you deal with that.

LIEBERMANN: The young sailor bullied and hazed in his Navy unit, according to the letter he wrote his parents, took his own life at Naval Station Norfolk.

The Brandon Act became part of the National Defense Authorization Act, signed into law 15 months ago.

If a service member seeks mental health services or self-reports a problem, the Brandon Act requires a mental health evaluation. It also allows service members to seek help confidentially, outside the chain of command.

TERI CASERTA, MOTHER OF BRANDON CASERTA: Basically, his letter led us to this. He wanted us to do something about suicide and the toxicity that happened in our military system. That's why we created the Brandon Act.

LIEBERMANN: But the Defense Department hasn't followed through and issued guidance for the military services, which means there's no process in place to enact the requirements listed in the law.

REP. SETH MOULTON (D-MA): Hey, how are you?

LIEBERMANN: Democratic Congressman Seth Moulton sponsored the Brandon Act and worked with Caserta's parents to craft the legislation. He met with them again on their trip to Washington to pressure DoD to move.

MOULTON: We hear the rhetoric all the time, but we need action. They've been sitting on their hands, and more Americans die every day as a result.

LIEBERMANN: 519 service members died by suicide in 2021, the latest year for which numbers are available. That's a slight decrease from the previous year's 582. But any amount of deaths by suicide is too many.

Last year, three sailors assigned to the USS George Washington died by suicide in a single week.


Then, in December, four sailors at a facility in Norfolk, Virginia, died by suicide in a month. The Brandon Act could have been named after any one of them.

MOULTON: It doesn't require any more legislation. It just requires the secretary of defense and his department to do their job.

LIEBERMANN: CNN has reached out to the Pentagon about the delay in implementing the Brandon Act.

Last month, the Pentagon's Suicide Prevention Independent Review Committee unveiled 127 recommendations to combat military suicides. The Pentagon promised to review the recommendations closely.

BRIG. GEN. PATRICK RYDER, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: Even one suicide is too many, and we will exhaust every effort to promote the wellness, health, and morale of our total force.

LIEBERMANN: For the parents of Brandon Caserta, it sounds like more consideration and reviews and waiting when they have the Brandon Act ready right now.

P. CASERTA: It's painful as this has been, had someone else done this before us, our son would be alive. So, we want to be that person that saves lives later on.


SANCHEZ: Oren Liebermann, thank you for that important reporting.

And we want to let you know that if you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, there's help available 24/7. You are not alone, you are cared for, and you can just call the number you see on your screen right now. It's 988. To get the help you deserve.

REID: An important reminder. And still ahead, allergy season is starting earlier, lasting longer, and getting more intense. I certainly feel that. So, what can you do to manage the sniffling and sneezing? We'll discuss next.



REID: The FDA is making a critical and possibly lifesaving update to its mammography regulations for the first time in 20 years.

Soon, mammography centers will have to notify patients about the density of their breasts.

SANCHEZ: And this is a big deal because women with dense breast tissue are four to five times more likely to develop breast cancer. And about half of women over 40 have dense breast tissue. CNN health reporter Jacqueline Howard explains the reasoning behind the decision.

JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER (on camera): Boris and Paula, the FDA now requires mammography facilities to notify patients about their breast density. And that's among other updates to the screening process as well.

So, here in the United States, we know that nearly half of women have dense breast tissue. And having dense breasts can make mammograms harder to read and increase the risk of breast cancer.

So, these updates from the FDA, they're required to be implemented within 18 months. By then, most women will notice this update in their mammogram reports and they're encouraged to talk to their doctors about them as well.

Boris and Paula, back to you.

SANCHEZ: Jacqueline Howard, thank you so much.

Spring has arrived early for parts of the southern and eastern United States. And while that may be good for trees and flowers, and all the woodland critters, it's terrible news for people like myself who suffer from allergies, and those who suffer from asthma.

Pollen exploded from plants much earlier than normal this year after an exceptionally warm February. And as the planet continues to warm, researchers say that allergy season is starting earlier and lasting longer.

So, let's discuss with Dr. Mitchell Grayson. He's chair of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America's Medical Scientific Council. Doctor, thank you so much for sharing part of your weekend with us. We appreciate your insight and perspective. Let's start with the basics. Why does pollen made my head hurt?


The reason why pollen makes your head hurt is because you're allergic to the pollen. And so, what happens is when you breathe in that pollen, your body actually reacts to it.

And that causes, for example, your nose tissues to swell, making your nose get congested, maybe, making your sinuses start to hurt, and that's why your head hurts. Or maybe your nose runs or you sneeze.

SANCHEZ: I guess the hard part for some folks is determining what is allergies versus what is potentially something else; a cold or any of a number of ailments.

GRAYSON: Yes, it's hard to discern those things. What we usually tell people is if you're allergic to something, you'll have symptoms every year during that season.

And as you mentioned, the seasons changed a little bit. But essentially, we're talking about if you're allergic to tree pollen, for example, it usually is sort of from the middle of February until April or so.

Like we said, it has -- it's a little earlier, as you said, this year than in previous years. Grass is a little bit later than that, sort of April May into June. And then, weeds are sort of in the middle of August until the first hard frost.

If you're having symptoms outside of that, unless it's something like dust mites or cat and dog, it's probably something like a cold and not actually allergies.

The other thing is that if it's cold, it usually lasts for, you know, a few days, and then gets better. Allergies will usually continue for that whole season unless you treat them.

SANCHEZ: Yes, I'm glad you mentioned the different kinds of allergens, because there are different kinds of pollen too. You mentioned tree pollen, grass, weeds. How do you figure out other than obviously, the timing, what you just mentioned?

How might you be able to figure out what the problem is for you?

GRAYSON: Well, I mean, I'm an allergist. So, the easiest answer is, go see an allergist. What we can do is we have the ability to test for various different pollens to see what you might be allergic to.

But I'll be honest, in general, the seasonality is actually pretty good, giving you a good indication of what you might be allergic to.

And like I said, in terms of whether it's in that early spring, middle spring, or it's sort of the middle -- late summer, into the end of the fall.


But what we do have the ability to test. We do skin testing or blood testing. And that can tell us exactly what you are allergic to.

SANCHEZ: I always appreciate some seamless self-promotion, doctor. So, I liked that. I did have. I did have another question for you. I use a number of over-the-counter products; pills, and sprays, and stuff.

Are there any specifics that you recommend that people should look out for? Are there other things people can do to find some relief beyond medication?

GRAYSON: Sure. So, in terms of the medications, what I would recommend is that there is nasal steroids, and there is non-sedating antihistamines that are available over the counter. And those actually work quite well for most seasonal allergies.

What I would say though, the first thing that we always recommend to people are what we call environmental controls. And so, that is if you are allergic to a pollen, we want to limit your exposure to that pollen.

So, in general, trees, grass, plants actually pollinate early in the morning, which is around 3:00 or 4:00 a.m. And then, sort of late in the afternoon, again, around 4:00 or 5:00 p.m.

So, I tend to tell people to try and avoid being outside during those times. Obviously, the early morning is not so hard thing to avoid, late afternoon a lot harder to avoid.

As well as during those times. So, if your tree pollen allergic during that sort of mid-February until April, make sure you keep the windows closed in your house and the windows closed in your car and run your air conditioning or your heat so that the air is pushed through a filter. And make sure that you change that filter according to the manufacturer's instructions.

So, the idea is basically, the pollen is getting sucked into your air conditioning unit, caught in the filter, not coming through your windows and filling your house.

And so, once you've done all of that, then we sort of moved to the next step where we would then say try one of these medications. They do work quite well as well.

SANCHEZ: All good bits of advice. I will follow them and hopefully I can breathe a bit easier this spring. Dr. Mitchell Grayson, thank you so much.

GRAYSON: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Of course. Stay with CNN THIS MORNING. We'll be right back.



SANCHEZ: The interim CEO of Starbucks has now agreed to testify before a Senate committee about the company's labor practices after he previously refused to do so.

SANCHEZ (voice over): The Health, Education, Labor and Pensions panel wanted to talk to Howard Schultz as the company fights a growing wave of workers that are attempting to unionize.

Earlier this month, a judge ruled, Starbucks showed egregious and widespread misconduct in its dealings with employees. And they ordered the company to reinstate fired workers and compensate them for lost wages.

CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich, spoke to some of those employees who say they're ready to get back to work.


VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN DIGITAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): How is it for you being here today?

ANGEL KREMPA, FIRED FROM STARBUCKS: Every time I come to the store and it's only been about four times since I've been firing -- fired, it's been very emotional. YURKEVICH (voice over): On April 1st Last year, Angel Krempa was fired from her barista job at this Starbucks in Buffalo New York.

Starbucks says she was fired for violating the company's policies, Krempa says it was retaliation.

YURKEVICH (on camera): Why do you think you were fired?

KREMPA: I think that they illegally fired me because I was leading the union effort at the store.

YURKEVICH (voice over): Last week, a judge agreed. In a 218-page ruling, a national labor relations board judge, said Starbucks displayed "egregious and widespread misconduct" to employees unionizing at 21 locations in the Buffalo area.

Several workers, including Krempa, must be reinstated, according to the judge's order.

YURKEVICH (on camera): Do you want to go back and work here again?

KEREMPA: I would love to come back and work here again. It's the best job that I ever have.

YURKEVICH (voice over): Starbucks said the order is inappropriate and are considering all options to obtain further legal review.

Since the success of the first union in Buffalo in 2021, there are now 280 unionized stores across the U.S.

To date, Starbucks Workers United says it's filed 600 charges against the coffee giant for alleged federal labor violations and illegal firings.

And Starbucks has filed nearly 100 unfair labor practice charges against the union for failing to bargain in good faith. Howard Schultz, who is leading the company until he steps down in April spoke to Poppy Harlow last month.

HOWARD SCHULTZ, FORMER CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, STARBUCKS: If a de minimis group of people, which now is about 300 stores, file for a petition to be unionized, they have a right to do so.

But we, as a company have a right also to say we have a different vision that is better, more dynamic, and we have a history to prove it.

YURKEVICH: But Starbucks barista Michelle Eisen and shift supervisor Gianna Reeve disagreed. They were some of the first employees to organize, calling for a seat at the table, to have a sane health and safety policies, seniority pay, and staffing levels.

GIANNA REEVE, MEMBER, STARBUCKS WORKERS UNITED: I do think it was the only way to make our voice heard.

YURKEVICH: Both women say they were retaliated against for union organizing.

REEVE: I remember days of just nonstop surveillance on the floor. Retaliation where I would no longer be given shift supervisor positions and my location.

YURKEVICH (on camera): Why stay?

MICHELLE EISEN, MEMBER, BARISTA, STARBUCKS: And I was presented with this option of working from the inside with my co-workers to make this company a better place, to be a part of building the policies and the safety procedures that would protect me.

YURKEVICH (voice over): And now, Starbucks must compensate Reeve and Eisen for lost wages, according to the judge's order.

KREMPA: It's a very turbulent thing in your mind.

YURKEVICH: For Krempa, she was out of a job for six months after she was fired by the company.


She says she almost lost her home and went into debt. A returned to Starbucks, the highest paying job she's had would help her get back on her feet.

YURKEVICH (on camera): How will you feel if you get that opportunity to step back in there, put on your apron, and start being a Starbucks employee again?

KREMPA: My aprons are hanging in the same spot that they were left in in April 1st of last year, waiting for me to put them back on. And I'm ready to take it off that hook and put it back on and walk in and just smile at my coworkers and be like, I'm back. I'm here. Like, we did it.


SANCHEZ: Vanessa Yurkevich, thank you so much for that. The next hour of CNN THIS MORNING starts right now.