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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

ICU's Filling Up Again As Contagious Delta Variant Spreads; Frustration Grows Over Power Restoration Delays In Louisiana; Guinea's President Arrested In West African Coup. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired September 06, 2021 - 05:30   ET




DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: -- family, school, teachers, personnel in the school, surround the children with vaccinated people. We've got to protect the children. If we want to keep them physically in school -- present in school -- we've got to do everything we possibly can to protect them from getting infected.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Vaccinations, social distancing, ventilation, and mask-wearing.

The White House planned to roll out COVID booster shots on September 20th, hitting a snag. Pfizer's study data on boosters is now at the FDA, but Moderna's is not yet. And data on mixing and matching Pfizer and Moderna's boosters is at least a couple of weeks away, but they are looking into that.

President Biden spent months pleading with Americans to take the vaccine and studies show vaccine hesitancy is down, but 47 percent of Americans remain unprotected.

It is time this Labor Day Monday for three questions in three minutes. So glad to bring in CNN's White House correspondent John Harwood. Good morning, John. Nice to see you.

You know, John, there's COVID, there's Afghanistan, there's unemployment, the broader economy, hard infrastructure, human infrastructure -- all of it important, none of it going smoothly right now for the White House. What's the plan for Biden in the coming days and weeks?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Christine, this is the roughest part of the presidency because crises just keep coming at you.

The crisis that the president can choose to focus on is the one around his domestic agenda -- the infrastructure plan. That's the -- of his own volition, he's going to try to work very hard to get Democrats to pass this plan. It's difficult. We've seen resistance from people like Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema to the price tag -- to the components of it. Odds still favor them getting something substantial done.

But all the things that come at you having nothing to do with you -- the hurricane, the difficulties with this Afghanistan withdrawal spurred by the collapse of the Afghan government, the resurgence of COVID-19 which despite the president's very hard push for vaccinations, he's hit that wall of resistance. And the only thing that's bringing up the willingness to take vaccines and the rate of vaccinations now is just how awful the Delta variant is in many states. Florida, for example.

So he's got to juggle all of these things at the same time. The one thing to remember is that the key to getting the economy right again during a pandemic is to get the pandemic under control, and the White House knows that.

ROMANS: Yes, absolutely -- getting COVID under control is how the White House -- how Biden gets this back on track.

John, ironically, GOP governors are spending more time fighting mask mandates than they're spending advocating for vaccines. And I'm struck, John, by the irony. The Republicans were the ones who screamed about healthcare rationing under Obamacare -- remember -- and now are potentially the architects of healthcare rationing from a hospital system overwhelmed by COVID. It's almost as if Joe Biden doesn't have a partner in some of these states to help him get this under control.

HARWOOD: This is the worst manifestation, Christine, of how polarized our country has gotten. There is no reason why mitigation measures like mask mandates and some of the steps that were taken last year to get the pandemic under control had to land on a political axis. There's no reason that vaccinations had to land on a political axis, but they did.

And so, you have this heavy overlap between vaccine resistance and conservative Republican politics. That leads Republican governors to play to that. Republican governors want Joe Biden to fail. They want to defeat him. Some of them want to run against him for reelection. And all that is a very toxic combination to try to get this pandemic under control.

Again, the only thing that will change the behavior of some of those governors is going to be conditions getting so bad in their states that they have no other choice. And we do see that citizens, themselves, are getting frightened enough that the -- we see the rate of vaccination tick up. But it is a long slog, difficult slog, deadly slog.

ROMANS: Yes. I mean, the vaccine hesitance in my world -- people who I know or I'm related to -- they have not moved. They have not budged on this at all here. So we'll see if they can really move that needle.

You know, you say there's one policy area we aren't really focused on but should be for the rest of the year. Something not in the headlines yet but it will be. What is it?

HARWOOD: Well, it's been intermittently in the headlines but it's not top of mind because so many urgent crises are hitting us right now. But voting rights is going to reemerge as a core issue. It's very important to the Democratic coalition. It's under threat because of actions taken by many of those same Republican governors and legislatures in the state. And it's a source of intraparty conflict between the Democrats who are moderate and the Democrats who are more progressive.


And so, there's going to be increasing pressure as we move down the calendar and get into 2022 for Joe Biden to take a tougher stand to try to push voting rights and maybe even pick up the effort to roll back the filibuster to pass some voting rights legislation. That's an uphill fight. They don't have the votes to do that now.

But they may try, especially as they encounter difficulty on other issues, to say to those moderate Democrats -- see here, Republicans are not cooperating with us. We need to set the filibuster aside. We will see whether that reaches critical mass and enables them to get that done.

ROMANS: All right, John Harwood, CNN White House correspondent. Thanks for joining us this Labor Day morning, John.

HARWOOD: You bet.

ROMANS: All right.

The new restrictive abortion law in Texas casts a wide net, punishing neighbors and allies for any involvement whatsoever. Now, some big companies are vowing to protect their employees.

Lyft announced it would cover the legal fees of drivers who are sued under the new legislation. Uber quickly followed.

The law, of course, affects anyone who, quote, "aids or abets an abortion," which could mean a driver who unknowingly drives a woman to an abortion clinic.

Lyft will also donate $1 million to Planned Parenthood.

Web hosting service GoDaddy took down a website that allowed people to post tips about possible abortions on this site. Imagine crowdsourcing rumors about who might be looking for healthcare in the state.

And Texas-based dating apps Match and Bumble said they would create relief funds for people affected by this law. Other companies based in the state, though -- this is notable -- have not acted. American Airlines and Dell, which were quick to come out against restrictive voting laws in Texas -- no word yet from them. Dallas-based Southwest Airlines and HP have also remained silent.

It's this tightrope executives walk over whether to become involved in an important social issue. We saw it with voting rights and now with women's reproductive rights.

A dire warning from the FEMA administrator.


DEANNE CRISWELL, ADMINISTRATOR, FEMA: I think this is going to be our new normal. We saw intense weather events in 2017. Last year was a record number of hurricanes and a record wildfire season. The U.N. had just put out here climate report and they said that this is the climate crisis that we're facing and it's only going to continue to get worse.


ROMANS: And you can see her point. Data compiled by "The Washington Post" shows about a third of Americans lived through a weather disaster this summer. That's up significantly from just a few years ago.

Louisiana faces a lengthy recovery from Hurricane Ida. Officials now confirm seven deaths at a warehouse north of New Orleans where hundreds of nursing home residents were brought for shelter. The facility became overwhelmed, then power and sanitary conditions failed, too.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why didn't you contact anybody for help -- let somebody know what was going on? Contact one person. People shouldn't be treated like that. You should be held accountable.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just feel guilty. I mean, if I had known -- I don't know. I would have done -- I would bring her with me (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I could tell she was very upset but at least I knew she was alive. And if we would have known it would have been a place like this, I would have took her with me.


ROMANS: Just awful.

Frustrations are growing as residents struggle to find food, gas, power, and in some cases, shelter. It's now a week after Ida made landfall. New Orleans started a shuttle program to take vulnerable residents to shelters with power in northern Louisiana and Texas. Under stifling heat and humidity, several parishes are being told it could be three more weeks before electricity is fully restored.

CNN's Nadia Romero reports for us from Kenner, Louisiana.


NADIA ROMERO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Christine, hundreds of thousands of people here in Louisiana still without power a week after the storm passed. After Hurricane Ida, they're now dealing with the aftermath of the storm. And that means power outages, which also means no air conditioning, and the temperatures are soaring. It's hot, it's humid, and people are fed up.

Take a look behind me. We're in Kenner, Louisiana, right next to New Orleans, and this is close to the airport. And you can see power poles that are draped all across this road. One, two, three, four, at least, blocking people in their homes. They say felt barricaded inside because they couldn't get out without encountering a power line or a power pole.

And listen to one woman. She says Entergy, the power company here -- they've been out two or three times but she says there's been no progress.

EMILY, KENNER, LOUISIANA RESIDENT: I saw them walking around and tapping on poles, and that's about it. I haven't seen anything else. They haven't moved anything that was down. They haven't given us any information as far as the people who are out here. They gave us no information about anything. They didn't try to even tell us when it was going to happen.

ROMERO (on camera): So, Emily says she lost her mother in March 2020 due to COVID-19. And she says the only silver lining here is that her mother didn't have to see her house damaged and her neighborhood destroyed by a hurricane -- Christine.



ROMANS: All right, Nadia. Thank you so much for that -- tough pictures.

Divers may have found the source of an oil spill unleashed by Hurricane Ida. A 12-inch pipeline broke away from its original location off Port Fourchon, Louisiana. Officials with an energy company helping clean this spill told CNN the pipeline is bent and open-ended. They also say the spill has slowed down over the last couple of days.

We'll be right back.


ROMANS: An apparent coup unfolding in West Africa. A military officer in Guinea says the country's president has been arrested and its constitution dissolved.

CNN's David McKenzie has the very latest for us in Johannesburg. What's happening here, David?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What's happening is this dramatic change of events in Guinea in West Africa and part of the cascading series of troubled transfers of power in that region in recent months.

[05:45:02] You had heavy military presence, mostly Special Forces, surrounding the presidential palace on Sunday, nabbing the 83-year-old President Alpha Conde and then whisking him away. He looked dazed and confused at the situation, as you might expect.

The new leaders of Guinea appear to be led by a Special Forces commander, lieutenant colonel and former French Legionnaire. And in fact, has had at least some training by American Special Forces. He got up on state T.V. draped in a flag, surrounded by his compatriots, saying they're doing this for the Guinean people.

Now, the outgoing president, who won a heavily disputed election last year, was clinging to power, according to many assessments, and accused of corruption. But at this hour, it's unclear how they will consolidate their power, if they will consolidate their power.

There's been condemnation from the U.S. State Department, saying that it might call into question the foreign assistance of that country, as well as the regional bloc in the African Union.

But they have closed the borders and have installed a curfew, so it's unclear what impact foreign nations can have on this dramatic turns of events -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right, David McKenzie for us in Johannesburg. I know you'll keep following it for us. Thank you very much.

All right, to California now, where firefighters made significant progress against the Caldor Fire over the weekend. Some evacuation orders in the Lake Tahoe region were downgraded, but three new fires ignited in Amador County, near where the Caldor Fire is burning, along with Placer County and San Diego County

Fires fueled by record drought have charred more than 1.9 million acres in California this year. Almost half of that comes from the Dixie Fire, which has claimed its first life over the weekend.

Just over a week to a recall election that could cost him his job. California Gov. Gavin Newsom trying to nationalize his statewide race. If Newsom gets 50 percent support he remains governor. But anything less, he's out of a job and someone with a fraction of his support could be elected in a wide-open race.

CNN's Dan Merica reports from Los Angeles.


DAN MERICA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER (on camera): Yes, that's right. As the recall here in California enters its final days, Gov. Gavin Newsom is fighting for his job by nationalizing the race, focusing less on his job handling and the leadership of California and more on the national implications of this race.

Behind us, he just finished a labor rally in Los Angeles where he compared his leaning Republican candidate, Larry Elder, to Donald Trump, a man who lost this state by roughly 30 points in 2020. Take a listen to what the governor said.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D), CALIFORNIA: If we don't vote no on this recall, Larry Elder is the next governor of California. And by the way, this is not an exaggeration at all. He is to the right of Donald Trump. How's that even possible?

MERICA: That national message is being echoed by a number of national Democrats who have come to the state to campaign with Newsom -- Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts senator; Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota senator. And later this week, Vice President Kamala Harris, who represented California in the Senate, will come and campaign for Gov. Newsom as he looks to avoid being recalled.

Dan Merica, CNN, Los Angeles.


ROMANS: All right, Dan. Thank you for that.

Five Navy sailors who were killed in a helicopter crash off the coast of San Diego have now been identified. A.R. Lt. Bradley A. Foster of California, Lt. Paul R. Fridley of Virginia, Air Crewman James P. Buriak of Virginia, Hospital Corpsman Sarah F. Burns from Maryland, and Hospital Corpsman Bailey J. Tucker of Missouri. The Navy says their chopper crashed last week 70 miles off the coast of San Diego during a routine flight operation.

Let's get a check on CNN Business this Labor Day morning. Looking at markets around the world to start the week, you can see big gains in Asian shares, and Europe has also opened higher.

Wall Street, though, is closed today for Labor Day. But Friday's jobs report could still rattle through markets when they reopen. The economy added 233 -- 235,000 jobs in August, a major slowdown from the hiring boom in the summer.

The report could put a damper on the Federal Reserve's plans to taper back the financial support it has been providing the economy. And, of course, any future action by the Fed is going to guide sentiment on Wall Street.

The major averages kicked off the month with record highs, but September is historically the worst month for stocks.

Blocked for studying misinformation. Researchers at NYU say they were deplatformed from Facebook after discovering new data on the spread of misinformation. From August 2020 to January 2021, misinformation got six times more clicks than posts containing factual news. Misinformation also made up the majority of engagement with far-right posts.

Facebook said the decision to deplatform the researchers was related to a separate study on political ads.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) Scene from Marvel's "Shang-Chi."



ROMANS: Marvel's newest hero smashing Labor Day records at the box office. "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings" brought in a record $71.4 million over the weekend, a much-needed boost to the movie industry. "Shang-Chi" is one of the best debuts of the pandemic.

The Delta variant is putting a damper on Hollywood's recovery. Box office sales nowhere near their 2019 totals and it could take some time for them to fully recover. The variant most likely means more hybrid streaming and in-person releases as studios try to recover.

All right, Notre Dame holds off Florida's -- Florida State's upset bid in an overtime thriller. Carolyn Manno has this morning's Bleacher Report. Hey, Carolyn.


Yes, we've got our first full weekend of college football in the books and the best game turned out to be the very last one. It looked like ninth-ranked Notre Dame was going to walk away from this one with an easy win. The Irish were up by 18 late in the third quarter.

But backup quarterback McKenzie Milton was actually back on the field after almost three years away because of a devastating leg injury. He provided a spark for Florida State. The team had the ball first in overtime but they were really just unable to move it. So kicker Ryan Fitzgerald had a chance and misses wide right. It came down to the leg of Notre Dame's Jonathan Doerer. He connects from 41 yards out. So, Notre Dame escaping with a 41-38 victory, but it was close.

Meantime, Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady is one of the many Americans who has battled coronavirus. The quarterback revealing that he tested positive shortly after his seventh Super Bowl win. Brady telling the "Tampa Bay Times" he contracted the virus back in February after the team's championship boat parade. At this time, no confirmed link between attending that parade and the positive test.

Brady and the entire Bucs organization now fully vaccinated against the virus. Tampa kicking off the regular season on Thursday against the Cowboys.

A very bizarre scene in Sao Paulo, Brazil as the World Cup qualifying match between Brazil and Argentina was stopped just minutes after kickoff. Brazilian health officials went onto the field. They claimed that three Argentinian players who were already on the pitch broke quarantine rules.

Officials saying that the players made false statements upon arriving into the country, omitting the fact that they had been in the U.K. within a 14-day period before entering the country. And under Brazilian rules, they would have had to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival if that had been the case.

So the game ending -- being suspended. Very strange.

Golfer Patrick Cantlay holding off top-ranked Jon Rahm by one stroke to win the Tour Championship and claim the $15 million FedEx Cup Playoff top prize. A back injury nearly ending the 29-year-old Californian's career. He was away from the game for three years.

And our Don Riddell sat down with him after his comeback win.


PATRICK CANTLAY, 2021 TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP WINNER: For a long time, everything just went great growing up. I felt like I got better and better at golf and life got better and better. And then it got as bad as it could have been. I felt as low as it could have been for a little while. And so coming out on the other side of that, I feel like I am a better person having gone through those dark days. I'm just very grateful to be where I am and I'm so satisfied with all the hard work paying off.


MANNO: And this year's U.S. Open in tennis featured upset after upset. Leylah Fernandez's star continues to rise after beating Naomi Osaka. The teenager's latest upset coming by way of another multiple Grand Slam winner, Angelique Kerber. The win coming a day before her 19th birthday, which is today.

The unseeded Canadian moving on to the quarter-finals of a major for the first time. She's going to face Elina Svitolina tomorrow. But she is a fan favorite, no doubt about that.

ROMANS: It's so fun to watch, and with big careers ahead of them, too.


ROMANS: So that's so awesome.

About Tom Brady. Didn't he say that this year could be really disruptive because of COVID and we should be prepared for that?

MANNO: He did. He said it's going to be a real challenge -- maybe more challenging than last season because of all the protocols that were in place and everybody really drilled downed. He said that with the stadiums evolving and people finding this middle ground coming back -- and you saw it in college football over the weekend -- it's going to be a real challenge.

ROMANS: And only two NFL teams fully vaccinated.

MANNO: Correct.

ROMANS: I'd like to see some more leadership in playing for the team on that one, right? MANNO: It might be on the way.

ROMANS: All right, thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans this Labor Day Monday. "NEW DAY" picks it up now.



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm John Berman with Brianna Keilar on this new day.

No holiday for the Biden administration. The multiple crises facing the president as he tries to get his domestic agenda on track.

Plus, breaking overnight, the Taliban declaring another victory in Afghanistan as CNN gets exclusive access into the war-torn country to show what life is like outside the capital.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Plus, Tom Brady says he had COVID and he believes the pandemic could cause even more trouble this upcoming season.

And she's stayed out of the spotlight but for how long? CNN's new reporting about Melania Trump and her plans as her husband ramps up speculation for another run.

BERMAN: Good morning to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. It is Monday, September sixth. This is a special holiday edition of NEW DAY -- Labor Day.

No celebration for the Biden administration this morning, just major challenges that have eroded the president's political standing. Afghanistan is smoldering, COVID resurgent, the job recovery severely decelerating.

And this morning, there are growing questions about when a vaccine booster will actually be available. Top health officials have warned the White House that more time is needed to review all the data.

School is back in session as the U.S. is now averaging more than 160,000 new coronavirus cases a day.