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Erin Burnett Outfront
340,000 Chicago Students Caught In Standoff Over COVID Measures; Chicago Parents Sue To Force Teachers Back To Classroom; Top Children's Hospital Offers "Provocative" New Testing And Quarantine Guidance To Keep Children In Schools; CDC Facing Onslaught Of Criticism Over Confusion Guidelines; Cyber Ninjas, A Firm That Ran Partisan Arizona Review, Is Shutting Down; Tennis Star Djokovic Speaks Out Amid Visa Fiasco, Thanks Fans; Sidney Poitier Has Died, Actor, Activist, Icon Was 94. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired January 07, 2022 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Poitier once called his driving purpose to make himself a better person. He did and he made us all a little bit better along the way.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Sidney Poitier was 94 years old. May he rest in peace and make his memory be a blessing.
Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, the deadlock over reopening schools. Chicago's Mayor and a top union at a stalemate, now the White House getting involved tonight as one of the nation's top children's hospital releases what they say are provocative new guidelines on getting kids back to class.
Plus, the Cyber Ninjas shutting down. Why the controversial company which had Trump's enthusiastic blessing was behind the sham Arizona audit is now suddenly just calling it quits.
And upending the traditional five day workweek, one tech company now is going all in four days. Why? The CEO of that company is my guest. Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight the standoff, 340,000 kids not in school today in Chicago, waiting again to find out if they'll get any sort of instruction in the nation's third largest school district. After negotiating all day, Chicago and the city's powerful teachers union are still at a standstill. The mayor wants kids back at their desks in-person in school. The Union does not.
And now the White House is involved. The administration saying it's in touch with the governor of Illinois and the Mayor of Chicago, but there is an answer that was actually put out there today. It's from one of the nation's most prominent children's hospitals, okay. This is it. This is it.
This is guidance from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. The doctor from the hospital telling CNN the recommendations are provocative. Here's the bottom line, let me just read it to you here right off the top.
"With evidence that COVID-19 is becoming a milder infection in most children and at a time when all adults and youth in K to 12 settings have been offered vaccination, the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia supports in-person education." And now look at this, "Even in times of significant community transmission."
This is a pretty incredible thing. This is one of the most preeminent children's hospitals on the planet, okay. So how are they going to accomplish that?
Well, they suggest discontinuing required weekly testing of asymptomatic students, teachers and school staff. Okay. Well, that would get things running again. But think about it, at a time when in Chicago, the unions demanding more testing, this children's hospital, one of the top on the planet is saying discontinue weekly testing of asymptomatic kids and teachers and they continue. "Allow COVID- exposed, but asymptomatic staff and students to continue attending school in person."
Now, you may go, wait a minute, wait a minute, asymptomatic, expose people attending school in person. Let me tell you, New York schools were open today and that new rule started here. It's resulted in more kids being in school. It's working.
Now, as we've mentioned before, the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia is not alone when it comes to their bottom line, which is kids need to be in school in person right now. We have been hearing it again and again from top medical experts.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: Our updated recommendations for isolation and quarantine, and our prior publications and continued assessment of test-to-stay protocols in schools, provide the tools necessary to get these schools reopened for in-person learning and to keep them open for the rest of the school year.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: It's safe enough to get those kids back to school, balanced against the deleterious effects of keeping them out.
DR. LEANA WEN, FORMER BALTIMORE HEALTH COMMISSIONER: That teachers union is wrong and all the teachers unions that are saying that we have to delay kids going back to school are wrong. We know what it takes to keep children safe in schools. We need to get our children back at all costs.
DR. PAUL OFFIT, MEMBER, FDA VACCINE ADVISORY COMMITTEE: We need our children to be in school. Most importantly, the socialization, social development that kids so surely missed last year is absent. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And it's the same thinking from the Mayor who oversees the nation's largest school district. Today, nearly 30 New York lawmakers urged the city's mayor, Eric Adams, to provide a remote option for all schools. You know what Adams said? He said no. Holding the line. Making it clear that schools need to be open, be it in the face of a highly contagious COVID variant or snowstorm, like what hit the city today, schools were open.
Adams telling reporters today, "Children need to be in school. We don't have any more days to waste and the long term impact of leaving our children home is going to impact us for years to come." And here's the marriage just yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GAYLE KING, CBS NEWS MORNINGS HOST: You've made it clear you want them in school.
MAYOR ERIC ADAMS (D) NEW YORK: Yes. The safest place for a child is school.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Oakland's Mayor in California also standing firm, insisting they're doing what it takes to keep schools open, even as teachers they're staged a mass sickout.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR LIBBY SCHAAF (D) OAKLAND, CA: I believe our schools should be open unless it is absolutely medically necessary to shut them down. I believe the district is doing what it can to make sure that that is happening.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Mayor Schaaf and Adams, both Democrats, are right to do all they can to keep schools open, because remote learning has hurt kids. The former Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, wrote in an editorial some pretty stunning numbers. He noted that in Chicago, before the pandemic, 30 percent to 40 percent of kids failed to meet basic standards in reading and math. That is awful. That is awful. It is awful for this entire country.
But today, that number is 80 percent. That number is 80 percent. That is a tragedy. So Mayor Adams says, oh, we'll see the results for years to come. He's right. He's right. And it's going to be bad.
Adrienne Broaddus is OUTFRONT in Chicago tonight. And Adrienne, you have been following this fight between the union and the city. I know that it's literally ongoing as you're reporting right now. What is the latest that you understand? ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know what, Erin? Everything
keeps changing. At this hour, negotiations continue, but still no deal. And in the middle of this, because there is no deal we're talking about 340,000 students, students who miss school three days in a row.
And if there's no deal today or if the city and the union doesn't come to an agreement over the weekend, on Monday, school could be canceled again. Members of the Union here speaking out just moments ago, reiterating that they want more testing.
One teacher said, "Testing, testing, testing, that is what we need." We do know the State's Governor has been in touch, as you mentioned, with the Biden administration to get some extra help. We also spoke with a parent. She has a second grader. She made it clear she supports teachers and appreciates their concerns. She also said she cannot wait until class resumes. Listen in.
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LAURIE SKUROW, SON ATTENDS HAWTHORN ELEMENTARY IN CHICAGO: I will send him back five days a week with the mask on in September of 2020. I will send him back as soon as he can go back in, he's back in. My son's fully vaccinated. We have him tested regularly and you wear a mask and you send your kids to school. I feel like I have very little say in what happens. And I'm a pretty involved parent in my son's school. But I feel like I'm completely at the mercy of what the union wants to do.
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BROADDUS: And that is the perspective of one parent. Many of the teachers we've heard from represent schools on the city south and west side. And for those of you who aren't familiar. Those are predominantly black and brown communities. And these are schools and low income neighborhoods. These teachers are saying their schools are not safe and they need that extra layer of support, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Adrienne, thank you very much. All these questions about testing, as Adrian said, the union saying testing, testing, testing and we all know testing is important. But again, to reiterate from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, discontinue required weekly testing of asymptomatic students, teachers and school staff. And I will note that the Chicago Teachers Union reports that their teachers are 91 percent vaccination rate.
OUTFRONT now, Jeffrey Schwab, he is the lawyer for a group of seven Chicago public school parents who are suing the teachers union. So, Jeffrey, tell me why you are suing the union.
JEFFREY SCHWAB, SENIOR ATTORNEY, LIBERTY JUSTICE CENTER: We're suing the union because they have engaged in illegal strike.
BURNETT: So have you heard from any teachers about your lawsuit?
SCHWAB: I haven't heard from any teachers, but I have heard from plenty of parents supportive of the lawsuit. They're tired of the union unilaterally deciding whether their kids get to go to school or not and taking away their say in what their kids education is.
BURNETT: So let me ask you this, there's two issues here. And there's one that we've sort of been referring to, which is a population that has full eligibility for vaccinations, what the science says?
There's also right now with the rules with all of the testing, if someone comes up with a positive, even if they have no symptoms at all, they have to sit out. And in Chicago, I know that's resulted in, they say, 855 new cases in students, 647 among adults. And this has repercussions in terms of well, if you're forced to stay home then you have to quarantine, who's going to fill in for you.
Mike Smith is a public high school history teacher and a representative for the Chicago Teachers Union. And he talked to me about why these absences are mattering. Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE SMITH, CHICAGO TEACHERS UNION REPRESENTATIVE: But when you drop your kid off, a parent is expecting to have a teacher there that they know to go into a building that they trust where everything is working. But today we drop kids off at some schools, some schools don't have heat. There's rodents in places. The teachers aren't there. They're being taught or a stranger is in front of them, sometimes security guard, people who aren't qualified to teach kids.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Now, putting aside the heating issue and the rodent issue, because that obviously has nothing to do with COVID. What about the point that he's making that kids could be going to school and there's - it might be a security guard teaching them who is not qualified to be a teacher that if that's what your kids being offered in person that that's not okay.
SCHWAB: Well, I think the point of our lawsuit is that the union has engaged in illegal strike and therefore they get to be the sole decider of whether kids go to school or not, rather than an engaged community and parents getting their say, and principals and teachers. Obviously, if there's a situation where a classroom or a school, it isn't safe for them to go, I don't think parents want them to go.
But what the union has done in this case is they've unilaterally shut down the entire district 340,000 kids can't go to school, because they have engaged in a strike that violates the law.
BURNETT: Yes. All right. Well, I appreciate your time, Jeffrey. And again, I'll just make the point that Mayor Bloomberg made. If you've got 80 percent of the kids in the district falling short of basic state standards, that is a crisis. That is the crisis of greatest concern. Thank you very much, Jeffrey, I appreciate your time. I want to go now to Dr. David Rubin. He's Director of the PolicyLab at
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. And obviously, everyone, you heard me go through these recommendations. So Doctor, I know that you all took a lot of time with this. You published the new guidance, which is, I'll read it again, supportive of keeping schools open even in times of significant community transmission.
You, with your medical expertise, go farther than the CDC. You would allow exposed but asymptomatic children and staff to return to school, discontinue weekly required testing of asymptomatic individuals. You put a lot of thought into this. You don't do this lightly and this is the conclusion you came to.
DR. DAVID RUBIN, DIRECTOR, POLICYLAB AT CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL OF PHILADELPHIA: Yes. Not just me. I think this is a consensus statement from the leadership at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Our center as well as our clinical teams at CHOP have been following the emergence of the Omicron variant and the COVID-19 situation now for two years. And we know there's a lot of anxiety out there as we have a swift moving variant moving across.
And let's face it now, Erin, everyone's exposed right now. It's very hard to distinguish who's exposed and who's unexposed. Fortunately, though, we're at a point in this pandemic where we've been offered vaccination, particularly adults and most children. And we're fortunate enough to have a milder variant that is not making most children ill. I think most families this past week have had firsthand experience seeing that most individuals who get this do not get that sick. It's just that we're all getting it at once and so it's still sort of taxing our healthcare systems, particularly our adult systems and we're also seeing some more kids in the hospital.
But when we reviewed the data on the kids in our hospital, we're actually seeing fewer kids in our intensive care unit. We're seeing the types of seasonal illness that we take care of every year. And I have a lot of empathy for folks who teach throughout these districts and I understand the anxiety people have, but we really felt the need to kind of reset perceptions about where we are right now to help people start to think about this more like they do other seasonal viruses.
BURNETT: Right. For which, as the Chicago Public Schools have said, that you don't shut schools down for the flu. But if someone's symptomatic or sick, they need to stay home. And to this point, I actually want to ask you something because there's become this obsession about testing. And I've sort of wondered to myself testing for what purpose.
If you find out that you're positive for something, but you're fully vaccinated and asymptomatic, taking yourself out of society and isolation not going to work, that can be really tough. So I noticed in here that you said specifically that you would recommend discontinuing weekly testing of asymptomatic students, teachers and school staff.
Obviously, the Chicago Teachers Union, they want constant testing to stay in the classroom. So can you lay out why you think this discontinuing in this situation makes sense?
RUBIN: Well, first of all, I'll say I don't say that lightly because we've run one of the largest in-school testing programs in the country that's informed a lot of the CDC efforts throughout the pandemic around testing in children. And what we do covered is in most schools it was very hard for them to initiate in-school testing.
And when we've reached the stage of the pandemic where we have such high rates of children have either been exposed or staff have been exposed or kids getting sick with viral symptoms, it's nearly impossible to do and we're starting to create a system of the haves and the have nots and we're sort of chasing milder disease in most individuals.
We do, however, provide sort of a middle compromises. Even though we don't think that people with milder disease nor individuals are asymptomatic, necessarily need a test to decide to just go home when they're sick. We understand there are people who have family members, who have chronic conditions. We understand there are some students who may have chronic health issues.
If they need to still take that weekly test, we can offer that. But we don't have to do this as a matter of requirement anymore. And we need to recognize that we're all exposed and so therefore, if you're asymptomatic, you should go to school, wear your mask until the worst of this is over. And if you're sick, stay home for a few days. And I think that's consistent now with CDC guidance.
BURNETT: All right. Well, I really appreciate your time, Doctor. I hope everyone will download this and read it, because it is just so clear. Of course as a parent, I care deeply but I think everyone in this country should care deeply. It's about kids and it's about the most critical resource we have which is their education. Thank you so much. I appreciate your time.
BURNETT: And next, COVID confusion. There is growing frustration tonight by messaging from the CDC with criticism now coming from actually inside the White House.
Plus, the controversial company that was behind Arizona's sham audit completely shutting down, why now?
And tennis star Novak Djokovic breaks his silence after being told to leave Australia because he's not vaccinated. We'll hear what he had to say.
BURNETT: Tonight, Dr. Rochelle Walensky holding the CDC's first independent briefing since last summer. CNN learning she wanted to take questions head on as the agency faces massive criticism for its quarantine and isolation guidelines.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALENSKY: We're in an unprecedented time with the speed of Omicron cases rising, and we are working really hard to get information to the American public.
This is hard, and I am committed and - to continue to improve as we learn more about the science and to communicate that with all of you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Dr. Walensky making those comments as CNN learns Biden administration officials have been repeatedly frustrated with the messaging from the CDC. And some CDC scientists themselves inside the organization are unhappy with how the guidance is being crafted.
OUTFRONT now, Dr. Jonathan Reiner, who advised the White House medical unit under President George W. Bush. Dr. Reiner, look, this matters a lot because the CDC kind of had that gold stamp right, the imprimatur of credibility when they spoke. And I know obviously the pandemic has been very challenging.
But a former senior Biden administration official tells CNN that the CDC now is 'guilty' of being in a little bit of a bubble and overthinking things. Now, look, you have raised this point about the CDC since the beginning of the pandemic, but here we are and it's really confusing.
JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Yes. I think CDC has really missed the mark, not just on messaging, but also on policy. And I think Dr. Walensky is fabulous when she simply describes science to the public. She's gifted at doing that. But she falters when she has to explain politics or a policy that is heavily laden with politics, such as the recent isolation changes and that's really the prime example.
The administration was under great pressure to shorten the isolation period, because industries such as airlines were having to cancel flights and close businesses, because employees were out. Ideally, to do that, one would do that with testing, but they didn't have enough testing.
So rather than then craft a totally science based plan, they crafted a plan that bow to political realities. And she has difficulty explaining that. And in the process of explaining that, she made matters worse, because she cast doubt on the efficacy of testing and she sort of tied herself into a Gordian knot.
So I don't think this is really a problem that she doesn't know how to message. The problem is that she has difficulty explaining imperfect policy.
REINER: And she's really taking one on chin for this administration. BURNETT: Right. And obviously it's like Children's Hospital of
Philadelphia can come out and say what they think and lay it all out and have it be data-based and science-based. And the CDC is just not able to do that. I guess it's frustrating in many ways.
But part of all of this is the Biden ministration is, as you know, Dr. Reiner, fighting for these vaccine mandates. And it appears that the Supreme Court is getting ready to reject Biden's vaccine requirement for businesses with 100 or more employees. So oral arguments were today.
And I want to play an exchange that we heard with the conservative Justice Samuel Alito, essentially, the argument here was that unvaccinated employees should be able to assume their own risk. It's up to them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUSTICE SAMUEL ALITO, SUPREME COURT: Maybe very foolishly, but they want to balance the risks presented to their health in a different way and OSHA says no, you can't do that. And that applies when you're on the job, and also when you're not on the job, and for the rest of your life, because you have to take these vaccines, unless the testing option is viable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So what do you say that it should be at their own risk? I mean, I guess then maybe if you're out sick, because you have COVID and you're unvaccinated, the company doesn't have a right - they don't have to pay you. I mean, I don't know how all that gets fed through, but what do you make of what he's saying?
REINER: So what the Justice astonishingly seems not to realize is that this is not simply about individual risk. If you are locked in a room forever, yes, you can take a risk and not get vaccinated. But this is a public health issue. I mean, what he say, geez, if you want to take the risk and drive 140 miles an hour up by 95, well, take the risk.
Well, it's not just your risk. It's everyone else on the road and that's what the Supreme Court is failing to really appreciate. The Supreme Court in 1905 dealt with this issue in Jacobson v. Massachusetts. And they did rule that individual liberty could be constrained in the interest of public health.
Now, I'm not a lawyer. I don't even mean pretend to be one on television. But they've tackled this before and they've made the right decision and it seems like they're going to make the wrong decision here.
BURNETT: We shall see. Doctor, thank you so much.
REINER: My pleasure. BURNETT: And next, the Cyber Ninjas just completely closing shop. Why
the company behind the Arizona sham audit is now done, all of its employees suddenly let go?
Plus, one company tonight shrinking its workweek. They're going from 40 hours to 32, that is four days. Why? Well, the CEO of the company is going to tell you.
BURNETT: Tonight, Cyber Ninjas, the controversial company, you know the name, right? They oversaw the sham audit in Arizona's Maricopa County, is completely closing down. Now the company actually raised nearly six $6 million in private donations to fund its audit, 6 million.
But they're now closing down shop completely. Everyone's been let go, because they say they're in debt so they spent that plus more.
It comes as Maricopa County officials have released a 93-page report debunking, in detail, claims made by the Cyber Ninjas that raised doubts about the election.
Sara Murray is OUTFRONT.
And, Sara, I know you have been covering this and this company was touted multiple times by former President Trump, finished the so- called audit despite sustained criticism from Republicans in the state, as well as Democrats. But they are only shutting down now.
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, that's right. And I think, you know, problem-plagued does not begin to describe this company or this audit. As you point out, they have faced criticism for months over the shoddy practices of the so-called audit, of its partisan roots.
And then, you know, things have gotten even worse for the country this week. As you pointed out, Maricopa County officials put out a report where they essentially refute, you know, the big report that came from the Cyber Ninjas, point by point. There was also a judge who said this company is being held in con contempt ever court and being sanctioned to $50,000 a day in fines for refusing to turn over documents related to this review to the "Arizona Republic".
So, we reached to the company today, representative said $2 million in debt from the Arizona audit and endless legal and character attacks on the company by those who opposed the audit make it untenable moving forward.
So there you have it, Erin. They say they're in debt. They say there is too much bad press, perhaps not -- not a surprise after what we have seen over the last year from this company.
BURNETT: Yeah. All right. Well, Sara, thank you very much.
And, of course, should be lost on no one despite all the false allegations they made, their final count increased the margin by which Biden won the state according to their sham audit.
For more on this, I want to bring in Republican chairman of Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, Bill Gates. And, Bill, of course, you were with me just last night as we were talking about your report, refuting the Cyber Ninjas' work.
The report says, quote, we determined that nearly every finding included faulty analysis, inaccurate claims, misleading conclusions, and a lack of understanding of federal and state election laws. Pretty basic and comprehensive stuff. I mean -- and, two days after you put out that report, along with your colleagues, Cyber Ninjas completely folds, shuts down, lets everybody go. What's your reaction to that?
BILL GATES (R), CHAIRMAN, MARICOPA COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS: So, Erin, thanks for having me. My reaction to that is that it's very troubling. This is the organization that was put out there by the state Senate as supposedly being experts, would be able to handle this inquiry. Obviously, they bungled it completely.
And now that folks are trying to find out information, basically what was behind their conclusions and what were the communications that they were having with elected officials here in Arizona, now all the sudden, they're disappearing. And it's sure seems like they are trying to avoid all of us finding out the facts of what exactly it was that they were doing.
BURNETT: So, you know, they -- they are shutting down, right, after they pushed these baseless fraud claims that raised doubts to voters about your elections. And now, see, Bill, here is the thing, the damage that was done. Now, you have got two Republicans who pushed the big lie about the election now running to be governor for Arizona and secretary of state -- obviously, crucial position, oversight of elections, as part of their responsibility.
Here is what they have said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KARI LAKE (R), ARIZONA CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR, ENDORSED BY TRUMP: This was a shady, shoddy, corrupt election. I will be damned if when I am governor, we're going to have another election run this way.
MARK FINCHEM (R), ARIZONA CANDIDATE FOR SECRETARY OF STATE, ENDORSED BY TRUMP: Maricopa County 2020 election was so full of discrepancies and crimes, that it cannot be considered reliable. By removing the fraud, Donald Trump won.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: These are -- they are running for secretary of state, governor, in your state. Trump's endorsed both of them. How concerned are you that they could be running your elections?
GATES: I'm concerned about it. And that's why I hope -- I mean now that we have brought this all to an end, we've debunked all of this. That now, my fellow Republicans here in Maricopa County in Arizona will speak out about against this garbage and say this was an effective, safe, and secure election in 2020.
And by the way, I do find it ironic that people who say that we can't run safe elections -- safe and secure elections in Arizona want to run for office in Arizona. So, that is -- that is a little ironic to me. But I am very concerned, and that's why I think we need to have responsible, serious conservatives running and winning in these races in 2022 here in Arizona.
BURNETT: So, the Cyber Ninjas allege that more than 23,000 mail-in ballots in Maricopa County were cast illegally by people who moved just before Election Day or before.
And they got to this conclusion looking at last name, first initial type of thing. You went through every one of these claims. So, in your rebuttal report you explain that in a county with more than 4 million people, this is clearly not sufficient. In one case, they identified twins as the same voter and then crucially, of the 23,000 mail in ballots, you found exactly zero instances, zero, of a voter submitting more than one ballot. And yet, the allegations persist.
GATES: Yeah, you are absolutely right. So they looked at three items like you said. First name, last name, and year of -- year of birth. We looked at seven items. We went down into great detail and like you said, debunked it. Zero.
And in fact, Erin, the Cyber Ninjas claimed that there were 53,000 questionable ballots from the November 2020 election. We've determined that there were less than 100, less than 100 out of 2.1 million ballots.
This should, once and for all, end this discussion and we can all move on to the 2022 election.
BURNETT: All right. Bill, appreciate your time. Thank you.
GATES: Thank you.
BURNETT: And next, one tech company now embracing a shorter work week. Is a four-day workweek within the nation's grasp for real?
Plus, tennis champ Novak Djokovic speaking out as he waits for an Australian court to rule on whether or not he can compete in the Australian Open without being vaccinated. Tennis Hall of Famer Pam Shriver is OUTFRONT.
[19:40:33] BURNETT: Tonight, tennis star Novak Djokovic speaking out for the first time since being detained in Australia saying, quote, thank you to people around the world for your continuous support. I can feel it, and it is greatly appreciated.
The 20-time grand slam winner is thought to be hold up in a Melbourne hotel. He's awaiting a court ruling on whether he can compete in the Australian Open without being vaccinated. Those are the rules, of course, for playing tennis. They gave him an exemption but his visa, which Australia granted him, is very clear, you have to be vaccinated to enter the country of Australia. There are no exceptions.
Tennis Hall of Famer Pam Shriver joins me now. She is seven-time Australian Open doubles champion. Played the WTA tour for 19 years.
Pam, it is an honor to have you. Thank you so much.
You know a lot about Australia, obviously. Should Djokovic be allowed to play in the Australian open or not?
PAM SHRIVER, ESPN AND TENNIS CHANNEL ANALYST: Well, he never should have been granted the waiver from the Victorian health panel that gave him what he thought was the green light to fly Down Under. It's been very, very clear that the country of Australia -- they have fought COVID hard. They have mandated vaccines. All the other players that are there, minus one or two that had a health exemption that was deemed as legitimate, they ever all been double vaxxed.
And I think it really would have set a bad example for all of Australians who have suffered through more lockdowns than virtually any other country. So the federal government and the state government of Victoria really got signals across and it's put tennis and Australian Open and Novak Djokovic in quite a mess.
BURNETT: And, you know, you got several tennis players around the world, the Australian tennis Nick Kyrgios, and American John Isner showing support for Djokovic now actually. Kyrgios tweeting, this is one of our great champions, but at the end of the day, he is human. Do better. John Isner tweeting he followed the rules, was allowed to enter Australia, and now he is being detained against his own will. That, of course, these are not government officials.
Now, that contradicts what Rafael Nadal said yesterday, obviously. And look, I am aware Djokovic isn't exactly a beloved player among peers, but tonight, he is getting some support from big rivals. Kyrgios is no fan of Djokovic in the past. He's called him very strange and a tool. He's openly said he doesn't respect him. But I am literally quoting, called him a tool.
So do you find the support for Djokovic surprising at all?
SHRIVER: Well, what I think the support is for social media to treat one of tennis's greatest ever champions with respect and a very difficult time for everybody. I mean, you can be critical of somebody for being anti-vax and showing up in a country that made it really clear you need to be double vaxxed, but in the end of the day, I think we all want people in our sport to be treated with respect.
SHRIVER: With empathy. And I think that's been done for the most part. Obviously, Monday is a big day. See what the judicial system does but the federal government has made it clear, the border patrol people have said his exemption did not warrant entry into the country.
BURNETT: Right, right. And, of course, he came in on a visa, which did not allow any exemptions, right? I mean, that was the actual he had. And Australia has never messed around with that sort of thing.
Djokovic, the context here is he has had a history of saying controversial things that are anti-science, right? Among them, he said positive energy can purify food and water. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NOVAK DJOKOVIC, 20-TIME GRAND SLAM WINNER; I have seen people and I know some people that through that energetical transformation, through power of prayer, through power of gratitude, they managed to turn the month toxics food or maybe most polluted water into the most healing water.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: I mean, Pam, now that there is a hard line being taken, right, he is realizing repercussions to his decisions, do you think anything will change?
SHRIVER: Well, I hope so, Erin. I think that the best result for everybody would be is if Novak can find some is trusted scientists, medical professionals probably in his home country of Serbia who can really explain to him that this vaccine that's now a year in -- in people's arms and with great results, helping fight this pandemic.
And you can not be a global athlete, entering other people's countries, putting other people at risk if you are not vaccined to the maximum.
And that's what the other tennis players are following, all the fans, the employees.
SHRIVER: They have to be double vaxxed, as well.
So I just hope Novak can find the right people to help get him vaccinated. Otherwise, we might have tennis history written in a different way because of this pandemic and that would be too bad.
BURNETT: Well, it would be and I want to ask one other thing, Pam, because I know you spent a lot of time thinking about this. Just made me think about Peng Shuai, right, the Chinese tennis star who accused a senior communist leader of rape. And then, she wasn't seen for weeks. And then, when we did see her, it was sort of orchestrated videos and then she retracts the allegation. You know, it's all in an effort to make the story go away.
So you have got incredible outcry for and against Djokovic around the world. But look what China's done to Peng Shuai. Nowhere near the same international outrage or -- or people speaking out even amongst players. Why do you think that is?
SHRIVER: Well, I think the ranking beside, Novak Djokovic, number one in the world, just the last major U.S. open, he was going for the calendar year grand slam. Peng Shuai hasn't played a tournament now in almost two years.
But the WTA tour will not let this be forgotten and, Erin, you have been great to keep this story in your show the last six, seven weeks. Steve Simon's been very brave, pulling tournaments from China.
BURNETT: He sure has.
SHRIVER: And when the Winter Olympics hit in a month, the story is going to come up again and, of course, once that Novak Djokovic story dies down, I think Peng Shuai's question marks will be return.
BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you very much and certainly, second your thoughts there on Steve Simon and speaking out. Not easy to do. And he put all the money behind it.
Thank you so much, Pam. Thanks.
SHRIVER: Thanks. Thank you, Erin.
BURNETT: And next, one company moving to a four-day workweek. Are they on to something? Well, the CEO will make the case.
And we remember the life of Hollywood's first black-leading man, legendary actor Sidney Poitier.
BURNETT: Tonight, the U.S. economy reporting new records. Unemployment rate hiding a pandemic-era low of 3.9 percent, 199,000 jobs added in December. Now, that's far fewer than what economists had predicted.
President Biden, though, looking at the positive side of it. Pointing to the total number of jobs added in all of 2021, which was 6.4 million coming on the heels of the pandemic and all the jobs lost, it's the highest gain since records began in 1939.
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JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it's historic day for our economic recovery. Americans are moving up to better jobs with better pay, with better benefits. That's why they are quitting their jobs. This isn't about workers walking away and refusing to work. It's about workers able to take a step up.
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BURNETT: Now, many companies are preparing to offer raises this year, and changing benefits. One tech company is now permanently moving to a four-day workweek.
OUTFRONT now, Ryan Breslow, he is the founder and CEO of that tech company Bolt.
And, Ryan, look, I appreciate your time. You know, I just wanted to have this conversation with you because I feel like as -- as we come out of COVID, a lot of the hesitation people feel is that they -- they -- they want a different workplace than the one they left in March of 2020. And, a lot of companies aren't there yet.
So let's talk about what you are doing. Today is the first Friday that most of your employees are off since you officially adopted a four-day workweek. So -- and you tested it for -- for a few months before you did it formally. Why did you feel like you needed to do this?
RYAN BRESLOW, CEO OF BOLT: Well, lot of our employees come up to me and say hey, this is a generous thing for the company to do. My response is this is a selfish thing that we're doing because our hypothesis was that not only would employees be more engaged and healthier, but they'd be more productive at work and that's what we found. We found that the four days that they're here, they're overwhelmingly more productive than your traditional five days a week.
BURNETT: So, you are not -- and -- and I mean, in some cases, perhaps they are working few hours. But in many, many cases they are probably not, right? I mean, they are doing more on the days they are in, they're working longer. I know that people can do things on Friday, right? It's not as if they can't.
But, you know, I know during the trial, what is it, close to 90 percent of your employees said they were more efficient.
But here is my question for you, if they knew they were in a trial to get four days a week, you know, I can see why they would say they're more efficient. Do you have any concerns you could see a drop in productivity as time goes on?
BRESLOW: I don't because we measure what's important in the company. So, we don't measure the amount of time you spend at work, how you work, where you work from. We measure the impact that you deliver to the company.
So, we keep it very simple for employees. What impact are you delivering? And so, in a loft other companies, we see this work theater which is a lot of people working to show that they are working, rather than delivering impact. So, here, we are like how far you impacted the company? We don't care if you worked ten hours or 40 hours or 60 hours. What impact have you brought? BURNETT: So, it's -- so it's on performance, right? And not so much
So, President Biden you know you heard him. He said people are quitting their jobs, more Americans are quitting their jobs than ever before, that's the fact but he says because they are moving on to jobs with better benefits.
How much did that play into your -- your business? Now, look, I know, you're -- you are a tech company. It's financial services. But did -- did you feel that this was something required to attract the talent you wanted?
BRESLOW: So at Bolt, just to give some context, we do one-click check out for the Internet and we spend a ton of time on company culture. We have launches conscious.org, which is a conscious culture foundation, showing other companies how to work consciously.
So we've always been on the leading edge and four-day workweek only had one objective, which was to improve the culture inside our company. Because we know that when we do, our recruiting goes up, our retention goes up, our employee happiness goes up and that's why we did it.
BURNETT: All right. Well, Ryan, I appreciate your time. It's fascinating and I think a lot of people are going to be watching it really closely. Thanks, again.
And OUTFRONT next: Remembering Sidney Poitier.
BURNETT: Sidney Poitier has died. He was 94. He was the first black man to win Oscar for best actor. That was in 1964. He came at the height of the civil rights movement in this country, a movement, in which he was a prominent force.
Poitier also embodied grace and decency, as a person, and as a human being. As an actor, an inspirational person, it's hard to overstate his impact. Poitier will be remembered for performances in "Lilies of the Field", "To Sir with Love", "Guess Who is Coming to Dinner", "Raisin in the Sun", unforgettable for me, and other great films.
President Biden offered condolences to Poitier's family. Our sympathies as well.
"AC360" begins now.