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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Incoming New York Governor Kathy Hochul "Fully Prepared" For The Job; Intel Officials Warn Kabul Could Fall To Taliban Within 90 Days; Mexican News Anchor Threatened Over Her Coverage Of Drug Cartel. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired August 12, 2021 - 05:30   ET



WHITNEY WILD, CNN ANCHOR: Today, Boston's mayor is expected to announce a vaccine mandate for city employees. Mayor Kim Janey has been criticized for not moving fast enough to require proof of COVID- 19 vaccination. The new mandate would require all 18,000 Boston city workers to get vaccinated or undergo regular testing.

ROMANS: An excessive heat warning is in effect for western Washington State. Some areas could see temperatures near 100 degrees from now through Saturday evening. But that's not the only issue. Wildfire smoke is drifting into the region. That means poor air quality conditions today and tomorrow.

WILD: In Utah, another reservoir has gone dry. The state's Department of Natural Resources announced the Upper Enterprise Reservoir in Washington County is officially at zero percent capacity. That means 32 of Utah's 42 largest reservoirs are now at or below 55 percent capacity.

ROMANS: Former Atlanta U.S. Attorney BJay Pak telling investigators he quit before then-President Trump could fire him for rejecting claims of widespread voter fraud in Georgia. Pak testified Wednesday before a Senate committee investigating how the former president pressured the Justice Department to take a more active role in trying to overturn the American election.

WILD: Four people were killed and at least one person is missing after powerful floods swept through parts of Turkey. So far, 616 people have been rescued and evacuated from areas hardest hit. The floods Wednesday leveled homes, damaged roads, and collapsed at least one bridge.

ROMANS: All right, a new vaccine requirement for schools in California. Governor Gavin Newsom said teachers and school staff must be vaccinated against COVID or submit to regular testing -- the first statewide requirement.

The U.S. Education secretary said he would support a vaccine mandate for every teacher in the country.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MIGUEL CARDONA, EDUCATION SECRETARY: If the vaccines are safe, then, yes -- and they are safe. They're proven to be safe. So, yes, I would favor the vaccine being required.


ROMANS: The debate over masks also heating up as students return to school. In Florida and Texas, numerous school boards are defying their state's governors by requiring masks be worn by children in school

Jacqueline Howard has more.


JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER (on camera): Christine and Whitney, I spoke with the National Education Association, which has been tracking school openings. And the group says that in places where schools are working closely with public health officials and following guidance, like wearing masks and distancing, classes are ongoing with no hiccups. But in places where schools are banned from requiring masks or making other mitigation policies, that's where we're seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases in schools and some classrooms having to return to virtual learning because of cases.

Now, here's how CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky explains it.

DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, DIRECTOR, CDC: The places that are having a problem, the places that are having disease that is transmitted in the schools are the places that aren't taking prevention strategies -- the places that aren't masking. The places that you're seeing kids in the hospital -- the footage of kids in the hospital -- are all places that are not taking mitigation strategies to keep our children safe.

HOWARD (on camera): And so far, Texas and Florida are two states where we're seeing mask mandates in schools becoming politicized.

In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott prohibits mask mandates, but two judges there have issued restraining orders temporarily blocking the enforcement of Abbott's order.

And then in Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis says parents should be able to decide if their children wear masks to school or not, essentially blocking mask mandates. He has even threatened to withhold the salaries of superintendents and school board members who impose mask mandates.

So the battle over masks is very telling and all of this is happening while more schools nationwide gear up to reopen.

Christine and Whitney, back to you.


WILD: A 14-year-old girl in Missouri spending five days on oxygen after getting COVID. Marionna was unvaccinated and had early symptoms like headaches and fatigue. Then one day, she couldn't breathe. Gary Tuchman has this story and the message Marionna's mother wants to share with other parents.



GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A children's hospital in Missouri, and sitting on the couch is Angel Baker, a mother who has gone through a horrifying week. Her 14-year-old daughter Marionna tested positive for COVID, got very sick, and was put on oxygen for five days.

Angel says her daughter has received excellent treatment here at the Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital in St. Louis.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It might make you cough but that's what we want. That was a good one. Oh -- I warned you. Good job.

TUCHMAN: Marionna and her mother live about 150 miles away in southern Missouri. She started feeling ill at home. It quickly got worse.

ANGEL BAKER, MARIONNA'S MOTHER: I was scared. I was panicking Monday, the second -- August the second. I decided to take her to urgent care because she told me she couldn't breathe.


TUCHMAN (voice-over): The decision was made for Marionna to be transported by ambulance to this renowned children's hospital. For Marionna, it was like a nightmare.


TUCHMAN (on camera): And when you saw her struggling to breathe with the oxygen what was going through your mind?

A. BAKER: Just praying, asking God to bring her back and keep her safe.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Were you afraid she wasn't going to make it?

A. BAKER: Yes, sir.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): The 40-year-old mother says she received the COVID vaccine but says her daughter did not.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Why didn't she get vaccinated?

A. BAKER: I don't know. She -- I left -- I left it up to her and she decided she didn't want to get vaccinated.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Now I don't mean to make you feel badly but you've gone through so much.

A. BAKER: Yes.

TUCHMAN (on camera): My guess is -- and I'm making an educated guess -- that you wish you had insisted upon her getting vaccinated.

A. BAKER: Yes.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): There are currently children as young as 2- years-old in the pediatric intensive care unit and the regular patient rooms at this hospital. Of course, children under 12 cannot yet get the vaccine.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Last year at this time, doctors here say the typical numbers of children with COVID coming into the emergency room on a daily basis were zero -- one or two. Now they say that daily number is usually 11, 12, or 13.

Dr. Wail Hayajneh is a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the hospital.

DR. WAIL HAYAJNEH, CARDINAL GLENNON CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL: We're seeing more severe cases, we're seeing more cases in the ICU, and seeing more cases that require longer duration of treatment in the hospital.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Dr. Aline Tanios is the surgical unit medical director here.

DR. ALINE TANIOS, CARDINAL GLENNON CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL: It's agonizing sometimes, especially when you see some of these sick -- some of these kids spiraling down before they head to the ICU.

TUCHMAN (on camera): How many children who are ill with COVID in this hospital --

HAYAJNEH: Yes, yes.

TUCHMAN (on camera): -- have gotten the vaccine also?


A. BAKER: You ready to get up?

M. BAKER: Yes.

A. BAKER: Yes.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Marionna has turned the corner and is looking forward to recuperating at home and then being well enough to start her life as a high school freshman. She left us with this message.

M. BAKER: Get a vaccine so you won't have to be in the hospital bed and can't breathe.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): And her mother has one, too.

A. BAKER: Please, parents, get vaccinated and get your kids vaccinated. It's real. Don't let no school, no governor, or nothing -- it's real.

TUCHMAN (on camera): And Christine and Whitney, we have some really good news. Marionna has been released from the hospital. She is now home recuperating with her mother by her side.

She is supposed to go to high school a week from Monday. That's not going to happen. But her mother is hoping by the end of September she is healthy enough to go back to school.

And then there's this interesting note. Marionna has a 12-year-old sister. Her 12-year-old sister was not vaccinated. The mother, Angel -- who was here with her older daughter Marionna -- on this past Friday drove two hours back to Sikeston, Missouri where they live to get her younger daughter a vaccination -- Christine, Whitney.


ROMANS: Oh, Gary, thank you so much for bringing us that story and for Marionna and her mother for telling that story. It's really important.

WILD: Right.

ROMANS: You know, there are all these laws about privacy inside hospitals and I feel like a lot of people don't really understand what's happening in these hospital ICUs. And to tell that story, I think is really important.

WILD: Absolutely. I know it's a really scary time for parents. But the only thing that you can do is assess the facts --


WILD: -- and make the decision that is right for your family irrespective of anybody else's opinion.

ROMANS: That's right.

WILD: I mean, that is the only thing that you can do in this very difficult moment.

ROMANS: All right, 38 minutes past the hour.

The incoming governor of New York is promising to turn the page on her former boss' toxic work environment. Kathy Hochul speaking out for the first time since Andrew Cuomo announced his resignation, and she distanced herself from the outgoing governor.


LT. GOV. KATHY HOCHUL (D), NEW YORK: I want people to know that I'm ready for this and it's not something we expected or asked for but I am fully prepared to assume the responsibilities as the 57th governor of the state of New York. I want to stand right here at the end of my term, whenever it ends. No one will ever describe my administration as a toxic work environment. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Our Brynn Gingras spent some time with her in Albany, New York.


BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Christine and Whitney, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul giving her first news conference since learning that she will be assuming the role of New York governor in less than two weeks. That's when she will become the first woman to lead the state.

The longtime Democrat saying she spoke to Gov. Andrew Cuomo who promised a smooth transition. But Hochul making it clear her administration will not be the same as her predecessor, saying she plans to bring in new staff.

HOCHUL: I think it's very clear that the governor and I have not been close. No one who is named -- who is named as anything -- doing anything unethical in a report will remain in my administration.

GINGRAS (on camera): Hochul saying she spent recent weeks talking to labor unions, business and faith leaders, and will make the state's response to the pandemic a top priority.


And while she will hold the office for the remainder of Cuomo's term, Hochul telling CNN in a one-on-one interview that she does plan to run for a full term. But for now, her priority is running the state -- Christine and Whitney.


WILD: Brynn, thank you.

New this morning, intelligence assessments are warning that Afghanistan's capital could be cut off and collapse within 90 days. The Taliban making rapid gains in the country and experts say it's possible Kabul could fall in a matter of weeks.


JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON SPOKESMAN: We continue to monitor the situation in Afghanistan closely. We are mindful of the deteriorating security situation. And our focus right now remains on supporting the Afghan forces in the field, where and when feasible we can from the air, as well as completing our drawdown in a safe and orderly way.


WILD: Nick Paton Walsh joins us now. Nick, after 20 years of the U.S. military campaign in Afghanistan, major cities there continue to fall -- 10 in under a week. So what do you make of this, and do you think this represents a defeat in that part of the world? NICK PATON WALSH, INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Yes. I mean, look, when President Joe Biden said they would be leaving unconditionally, it was likely there would be a Taliban resurgence or significant grab of territory. I just don't think anybody really thought we'd see this much movement in under a week.

We've learned this morning that the second really major city to befallen to the Taliban, Ghazni, has happened after not much fighting that some had thought might have been the case. And that increasingly imperils the capital of Kabul.

Yes, you said that 10 provincial capitals now -- two of them significant cities. Many other cities significantly under threat, particularly in the south. The sort of second-largest city of Afghanistan, Kandahar, experiencing an enormous jailbreak yesterday in which 1,000 criminals were apparently released, according to prison officials. That will be significantly straining the security services down there.

And now, of course, eyes turning to Kabul. Unthinkable, I think, for many -- as little as a month ago that we would be talking this summer, already, about how long Kabul might be able to hold out against the Taliban. It's a city of six million, so no small feat in the slightest. The question, I think, isn't really how much effort security forces are able to put in, how secure that city can be kept, what conditions will be like inside of it. And that U.S. assessment absolutely stark, suggesting it could be encircled in as little as a month.

Deeply troubling times but many see this as the inevitable consequence of the U.S. decision. You heard there they are repeating very familiar points from the last decade while simply city after city seems to be falling to the Taliban.

Back to you.

WILD: Nick Paton Walsh live in London for us. Thank you.

ROMANS: All right, 43 minutes past the hour.

If you have bought anything in the past few months you know prices are rising for just about everything. A key government inflation report confirming that prices are still rising in America. Consumer prices up 5.4 percent in July, flat compared with June. That's important when the index hit a 13-year high.

Stripping out volatile food and energy prices, costs rose 4.3 percent, slightly below June's rise. So those are some signs of moderation from a very brisk pace.

It's the downside of a booming economy and something the president's critics are calling Biden inflation. But the president is focusing on the overall strength of the economy and his agenda.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: -- making the administration the first-ever to add four million jobs in the first six months in office. And then, in the past 24 hours, we've seen the Senate advance two key pieces of my economic agenda.


ROMANS: The major momentum for the Biden agenda on infrastructure and on a $3.5 trillion Democrat-only spending package with political hurdles ahead. The White House saying investments in infrastructure and in families won't overheat the economy but make it more efficient.

You'll be hearing more about Biden and inflation, I think --

WILD: Yes.

ROMANS: -- from his critics here because prices are rising at the grocery store and just about everywhere.

WILD: Yes, and everybody's feeling it.


WILD: Everybody's feeling it.

ROMANS: This programming note, by the way. Join CNN for "WE LOVE NEW YORK CITY: THE HOMECOMING CONCERT." This is a once-in-a-lifetime concert event Saturday, August 21st, exclusively here on CNN.



WILD: Journalism is a high-profile and truly dangerous profession in Mexico. A popular television news anchor is now facing death threats in response to her coverage of Mexico's drug cartels.

CNN's Matt Rivers has more from Mexico City.


MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Well, one of Mexico's most powerful criminal groups, the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, has directly threatened an extremely prominent journalist here in Mexico by the name of Azucena Uresti. She works as an anchor hosting a show for Milenio, a pretty big channel and media group here in Mexico.

And it was earlier this week that this criminal group posted a video that circulated widely on social media where they directly threatened the life of Uresti, with one of the group's leaders saying in this video -- that CNN cannot independently confirm its authenticity.

But in this video this alleged leader says, quote, "I assure you that if you continue talking about me, Azucena Uresti, wherever you are I'll get you and I will make you eat your words, even if they accuse me of femicide -- because you don't know me."

Uresti did respond to this video on her own show. Here's a little bit of what she had to say.

AZUCENA URESTI, MILENIO T.V. ANCHOR, THREATENED BY DRUG CARTEL (through translator): I have joined the federal system of protection from the government. I repeat, our work will continue to be based on the truth and with the intention of providing information on the reality of a country like ours.

And also, as has happened on other occasions, I express my solidarity and support to hundreds of colleagues who are still threatened or who have had to leave their areas, but who keep on showing the valley of information and their love for this profession.


RIVERS (on camera): And you hear her there talking about the threats that other journalists here in Mexico face. This is one of the most dangerous places in the entire world to be a local journalist. Mexican journalists here routinely risk their lives just doing their jobs.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, since the beginning of 2020, 13 journalists have been killed here in Mexico. Going back 10 years, 76 journalists, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, have been killed here in Mexico.

It is an incredibly dangerous job. And what we're seeing the Uresti is a high-profile example of the threats the journalists face here every day -- Whitney, Christine.


ROMANS: All right, Matt Rivers for us in Mexico. Thank you so much for that, Matt.

Meantime, Tropical Storm Fred has weakened but it's still on track to reach the Florida coast by tomorrow. Here's meteorologist Pedram Javaheri.


PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST (on camera): All eyes across portions of the island of Hispaniola as what is left of Fred right now is kind of a weakening shell of itself from yesterday where it was a tropical system -- tropical storm. And this is because of the elevated terrain across this region as high as 10,000 feet is kind of breaking the system apart.

But when you look at the models and where it is forecast to end up, a pretty good consensus that over the next 24 to 48 hours it parallels the northern coast of Cuba. But once you get to Saturday and Sunday, a little bit of disparity between where it ends up. Some models saying it will hug the west coast of Florida, some pushing it into Florida, and others kind of pushing it back closer towards the eastern Gulf of Mexico. So we'll follow this carefully. You'll notice winds generally going to be very light here, about 40 to

50 miles per hour, depending on how much land interaction you see. And we have quite a bit of wind shear above this storm also breaking it apart. So at this point, it looks to be a tropical storm, not a hurricane. That, of course, can change.

But regardless, look at the rain amounts across parts of Florida. As much as five, maybe eight inches with isolated totals up to 10 inches in the forecast for the state of Florida -- guys.


ROMANS: All right, we'll watch that. Thanks, Pedram.

Let's get a check on CNN Business this Thursday morning. Looking at markets around the world, Asian shares closed down. Europe has opened mixed. And on Wall Street, stock index futures this hour are also narrowly mixed here.

It was another record day for investors, though, after inflation data showed price increases moderated a bit in July. The Dow closed up 220 points. That's a record high. The S&P 500 also finished at a record. The Nasdaq slightly lower.

Speaking of inflation, sending gifts this holiday season may be more expensive. The U.S. Postal Service is proposing holiday surcharges for individuals and businesses to help offset rising delivery costs. The fees start at 25 cents for smaller packages and rise to five bucks for larger, heavier items traveling longer distances.

Now, the temporary rates won't go into effect until October third through December 26th. The Postal Regulatory Commission must approve those fees.





WILD: Oh, one of the best movie lines. One of the best --

ROMANS: I know.

WILD: -- delivered movie lines of all time.

ROMANS: The other really good one is "If you build it they will come." That's the other one. I couldn't decide which one was the better bite, but they're both so good.

WILD: That's a good one-liner --


WILD: -- for many moments in your life.

More than 30 years after the movie put Iowa on par with heaven, "Field of Dreams" is making its Major League debut. The New York Yankees and the Chicago White Sox will play tonight in Dyersville, Iowa in a specially-constructed stadium adjacent to the iconic diamond from the 1989 film. The nationally televised game was originally supposed to happen last August but it was postponed -- another casualty of the pandemic.


WILD: But now it's on.

ROMANS: Players from both teams and the 8,000 fans -- this is so cool. They're going to enter the Field of Dreams stadium walking through the corn.

Actor Dwier Brown, who played Kevin Costner's father in the film -- he'll be part of the crowd. Costner, himself, will throw out the very first pitch.

Dwier Brown will be a guest later on "NEW DAY."

It's one of those great baseball movies. There are a lot of good sports movies. That's really one of the best sports movies, I think.

WILD: Think -- OK, so as evidenced by this week, it's not the game I always love -- like, when it comes to baseball. But it's the stories. I mean, that's an example of like the stories and the drama --

ROMANS: Right.

WILD: -- surrounding sports. It's absolutely one of the best --


WILD: -- movies -- yes, exactly -- movies -- sports movies of all time.

ROMANS: Nineteen eighty-nine feels like yesterday. But, I know it -- if you build it they will come, and they are --

WILD: Yes.

ROMANS: -- tonight.

Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

WILD: I'm Whitney Wild. "NEW DAY" is next.



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to viewers here in the United States and around the world. I am Brianna Keilar with John Berman on this Thursday, August 12th.

And hospitals across America are on the brink this morning as unvaccinated Americans fill them up at an alarming rate. That includes Mississippi where there is a dire warning that hospitals there potentially days away from failure.


DR. ALAN JONES, COVID-19 CLINICAL RESPONSE LEADER, UNIVERSITY OF MISSISSIPPI MEDICAL CENTER: The number of new positives that we're seeing, the rate of the testing positives, and the rate of hospitalizations based on what we are seeing -- if we continue that trajectory within the next five to seven to 10 days, I think we're going to see failure of the hospital system in Mississippi. I mean, hospitals are full from Memphis to Gulfport, Natchez to Meridian. Everything's full.