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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Former FDA Chief: Kids 5-11 Could Get Vaccines By Halloween; Qatari Foreign Minister Meets With Taliban Prime Minister In Kabul; U.S. Begins To Resettle 60,000+ Afghan Refugees. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired September 13, 2021 - 05:30   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Christine Romans. It's just about 30 minutes past the hour this Monday morning and it's time for our top stories to keep an eye on today.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): He will not have my vote on 3.5 and Chuck knows that.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): No, it is absolutely not acceptable to me and I don't think it's acceptable to the president.


ROMANS: Democratic leaders in the House and Senate are scrambling to unite their party to pass a historic expansion of the nation's social safety net. They set a Wednesday deadline to finalize the deal. They hope to advance it in tandem with a separate trillion-dollar bipartisan infrastructure package.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: It may take a lot more vaccine mandates to end this pandemic, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Last week, President Biden announced mandates for businesses with more than 100 employees. Sixty-three percent of the eligible population in the U.S. is now fully vaccinated. More on all of this in a moment.

ROMANS: North Korea claims it successfully test-fired new long-range cruise missiles over the weekend. The Kim regime says the missiles have been in development for two years and will serve as a deterrence against hostile forces that threaten North Korea.

JARRETT: Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer has a warning for lawmakers -- don't pack the court.


STEPHEN BREYER, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE, U.S. SUPREME COURT: No. If one party could do it, I guess another party could do it. You start changing all these things around and people will lose trust in the court.


JARRETT: The 83-year-old justice went on to say he doesn't intend to die on the court -- his words, not mine. Some liberals want Breyer to retire now while Democrats control the White House and the Senate to keep the court from tilting even further to the right.

ROMANS: Four people were injured Sunday in an explosion in an apartment complex near Atlanta. The blast destroyed several floors of the building. Incredibly, no one was killed. The building had to be stabilized before rescue teams could search for victims. Fire officials are investigating a possible gas leak.

JARRETT: A sex abuse lawsuit against Prince Andrew heads to a New York court this morning. Lawyers for Virginia Roberts Giuffre are expected to tell a federal judge they've had trouble serving the prince with the suit. Giuffre claims billionaire Jeffrey Epstein recruited and abused her, forcing her to have sex with Prince Andrew when she was 17 years old. He says he has no recollection of meeting her.

ROMANS: Britney Spears celebrating her newfound freedom with a new engagement just days after her father filed a petition to end her conservatorship. The pop star announced she is engaged to her longtime boyfriend. Under the conservatorship agreement, she could not be married without her father's permission.


ANNOUNCER, U.S. OPEN: There it is.


JARRETT: Top-ranked Novak Djokovic came up short in a bid to win all four major tennis tournaments in a calendar year. He fell in straight sets to second-ranked Daniil Medvedev at the U.S. Open. There hasn't been a so-called Calendar Slam since Rod Laver did it more than 50 years ago.

ROMANS: All right.

Later this morning, public schools in New York City welcome students back full-time to in-person classes -- the first time that's happened in the nation's largest school district since the pandemic began.

Meantime, parents of children too young for the vaccine are finding some encouraging news this morning. Former FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb, who is on the board at Pfizer -- he predicts shots for kids ages five to 11 years old could be now weeks away.


DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB, FORMER COMMISSIONER, FDA: In a best-case scenario, given that timeline I've just laid out, you could potentially have a vaccine available to children age five to 11 by Halloween if everything goes well -- if the Pfizer data package is in order and the FDA ultimately makes a positive determination. (END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: I know that makes you very happy, Christine.


JARRETT: Right now, the seven-day average of Americans dying is the highest in six months and it's overwhelming many hospitals around the country. Eighty percent of ICU beds are full and some places are making tough decisions about rationing care.

One hospital in Upstate New York pausing baby deliveries because some maternity ward staff quit over the vaccine mandate.


GERALD CAYER, CEO, LEWIS COUNTY HEALTH SYSTEM: If we can pause the service and now focus on recruiting nurses who are vaccinated, we will be able to reengage in delivery babies here in Lewis County. Our hope is as we get closer the numbers will increase -- of individuals who are vaccinated -- fewer individuals will leave. And maybe with a little luck, some of those who have resigned will reconsider.


ROMANS: Republican governors are pushing back on President Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers, healthcare staffs, and large companies. The surgeon general says many businesses are relieved the government took that step.

But Arkansas' governor -- Republican governor says it will backfire.


GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON (R), ARKANSAS: The problem is that I'm trying to overcome resistance but the president's actions in a mandate hardens the resistance. And we talked about the fact that we've historically had vaccination requirements in schools, but those have always come at the state level, never at the national level.



JARRETT: No evidence for that. The evidence really doesn't show that at all, as Christine is about to tell you one story about Delta.

The surgeon general told CNN that President Biden will announce more COVID measures later this month, prior to a meeting of the U.N. General Assembly.

ROMANS: So, important to note here the president's vaccine mandate won't apply to every employee of a big company. The new mandate applies to businesses with 100 or more employees, right -- but most fast-food restaurants are franchises. For example, 95 percent of McDonald's in the U.S. are franchise-owned.

And some franchisees run just a single restaurant with a headcount that exempts them from the rules. Think of a McDonald's restaurant with 35 employees. That mandate will not apply to them.

Other large companies hire independent contractors to interact with the public, including Uber and Lyft, as well as delivery services like DoorDash and Instacart. So on paper, those are big companies with lots of employees, but those are franchisees or individual contractors -- independent contractors.

But other companies are finding other ways to spur vaccination and it is working. Delta Airlines says the vaccination rate among its workers has gone up in the two weeks since it announced a $200 monthly insurance surcharge for its employees who don't have the vaccine.

While some big businesses welcome the federal vaccine mandate, others like big consumer brands still have a laundry list of questions. The group representing Coca-Cola, Kellogg, and Campbell's Soup is calling for clarity -- immediate clarity -- urging federal agencies to offer more specifics on how it would be rolled out and enforced.

JARRETT: Yes, how the --

ROMANS: But many companies are trying to find ways short of a mandate to get people to get vaccinated.

JARRETT: But what the Delta evidence shows to me is that penalties work.


JARRETT: The benefits weren't necessarily the ones that were going to do it. In fact, sadly, we needed the sticks, not the carrots.

ROMANS: And there's another stick coming, folks. I mean, for those of you who are doing the weekly testing or three times a week testing --


ROMANS: -- at some point, your company is going to start passing that cost on to you.


ROMANS: The idea is when you start to have to pay $15.00 or $50.00 or $100 for a COVID test, maybe the disincentives will get -- will make you get the shot.

JARRETT: Yes, we will see.

All right. The Taliban marked the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks by raising their flag over Afghanistan's presidential palace.

This, as Secretary of State Tony Blinken testifies this week before the House and the Senate. It will be the first chance for lawmakers to confront a top-ranking Biden official about the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

CNN's Nic Robertson is live in Kabul. Nic, the Taliban -- we know from your reporting -- wanted two things, leverage and legitimacy. Now, a visit from the top leader in the Gulf gives them both -- a top leader from Qatari -- from Qatar, I should say. Tell us more.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, sort of what you're seeing here is a glide path -- diplomacy at work if you will. Sort of a glide path for countries to move towards the recognition of the Taliban. They're not there yet.

How did this happen? If you look back to last week, the Qataris fly in planes here. The Taliban let some Americans and other foreign nationals get on those planes and leave.

A couple of days later, the Qatari foreign minister flies in and he meets with the prime minister here. He meets with the foreign minister here. I'm talking about the Taliban prime minister and foreign minister. He also goes to meet with those former Afghan politicians who have been cut out of new Taliban political dispensation here and he meets with them.

You know, one of the key people that he didn't meet with -- that the Qatari foreign minister would know well -- is the Taliban deputy prime minister Mullah Baradar. He, of course, was in Doha during all the negotiations with the United States.

Rumors have been circulating here in Kabul that he has somehow been injured or perhaps killed in Taliban infighting. Mullah Baradar, today, puts out both an audio and a written statement to say that he is well.

This does seem to point -- and a lot of people in this city think this is the case -- to infighting within the Taliban at the moment. He didn't get to meet the Qatari foreign minister. You see diplomacy and internal fighting, I think, in play here at the moment.

ROMANS: You know, Nic, a Taliban official recently confirmed that they plan to enforce gender segregation at Afghan universities. I mean, this idea of the women on one side, the men on the other, separated by a curtain so the men can't see the women.

Now that some foreign governments are at least tacitly saying that they will work with the Taliban, are we seeing what their rule will actually look like?

ROBERTSON: It's really interesting because the Taliban have put this huge focus on the segregation issue at schools. We knew that they were going to interpret Islamic law -- Sharia law -- very strictly, applying this to education.

They know that the education of women is a huge test for the international community. That if they do what they did in the past, which is completely ban women and girls from education, then they're going to isolate themselves pretty fast from the international community. [05:40:00]

So they're introducing these new laws that say women have to be separated from men, a curtain down the middle of the room. They have to wear a niqab -- a face -- a face covering -- a full sort of black abaya has to be worn as well.

So they're sort of prioritizing that but it is really the sort of only thing that a lot of people in this city are really hearing about -- that the Taliban are actually doing. And part of that does seem to speak to the infighting.

You know, there was a police commander up in Mazar-i-Sharif and he was asked what guidance are you getting from Kabul about how to enforce new rules and regulations. And he said I'm not getting any guidance. That's what people here on the streets and other parts of the country feel as well.

The Taliban's putting the focus on education. We're getting an insight into their thinking there. But they really haven't gotten around to a lot of other things. And again, this speaks to divisions and a lack of cohesiveness in this government they're putting together.

ROMANS: All right, Nic Robertson for us, live this morning in Kabul.

And we're showing now the pictures of the separated classrooms, which just seems -- I don't know. That's what life is going to be like under the new --


ROMANS: -- old Taliban.

Nic Robertson, thank you so much. Nice to see you this morning.

We'll be right back.



JARRETT: With the biggest military evacuation in history complete now, the Biden administration will resettle more than 60,000 Afghan refugees inside the U.S. over the next few weeks, and the challenges here are enormous.

CNN's Priscilla Alvarez has been taking a closer look at all of this. Priscilla, one Defense Department official says eight military bases have basically been turned into small cities. What more do you know about that?

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN REPORTER: That's right, Laura, and these are military bases that are receiving Afghans who fled when the Taliban seized power of Afghanistan. So they are receiving medical screening, as well as additional processing and other services while on these bases. And as that defense official put it, they are turning into quote "small cities."

We already know that babies have been born on bases. Just last Friday, two babies were born at two separate bases.

We also know about Fort Dix, one of the other installations being used. Their barracks have been turned into villages. Each village has housing, a health center, cafeteria, as well as a place where people can pick up donated clothes.

Councils have also been set up with Afghan leaders who can meet jointly with military officials.

All of this really pointing toward people staying at bases for longer periods of time. I spoke to two senior administration officials who said they expect Afghans to stay on these bases for a least two weeks.

Laura, this is a massive undertaking for this administration. They anticipate around 65,000 refugees to arrive by the end of September, as well as 30,000 over the next 12 months. The last time the United States did something like this in such a short period of time was the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam -- Laura.

JARRETT: Yes, just an incredible humanitarian effort here. Thank you for staying on top of this part of the story for us.

ROMANS: All right.

England is abandoning its plan for a vaccine passport system. The plan would have required guests at nightlife venues or crowded events to present proof of vaccination, a negative COVID test, or proof of the required self-isolation after a positive test.

The U.K.'s health secretary says the requirements are not needed right now because of the country's high vaccination rate, new treatments, and increased testing and surveillance. But he is reserving the option of a passport system in the future.

All right, let's get a check on CNN Business this Monday morning. Looking at markets around the world to start the week, a mixed performance -- a mixed close for Asian shares. And look, in the -- in Europe, markets have opened higher. Stock markets have opened higher.

On Wall Street, stock index futures, right now, are also leaning higher. But it was a lower close on Friday, capping five straight losses for both the Dow and the S&P. That's the longest losing streak for the S&P since February. August's disappointing jobs report prompted the fall last week.

This week, Wall Street will get a key inflation measure. The Consumer Price Index is really critical here to track how much higher costs are being passed along to consumers.

All right. Following the record-breaking success of Marvel's Shang- Chi, Disney says it will release the rest of its 2021 films exclusively in theaters before streaming on Disney+. Disney is signaling optimism that people will return to theaters despite concerns of the Delta variant. The theater-first releases will include the animated film "Encanto," Marvel's "Eternals," and a remake of "West Side Story."

JARRETT: But if horror movies are more of your thing, one company is offering to pay $1,300 to anyone who can handle watching 13 scary movies in the month of October. FinanceBuzz is hoping to get a read on a person's heart rate to determine whether or not high-budget movies deliver stronger scares. That's the release's words, not mine. Applications are due by September 26th.

ROMANS: I do not like scary movies.

JARRETT: Oh, I do.

ROMANS: Really?


ROMANS: Oh my gosh. I don't like -- I don't like -- I don't like scary movies -- I don't.

All right, 49 minutes past the hour.

The Ethiopian winner of the Vienna City marathon disqualified because the soles of his shoes were one centimeter too thick. After Derara Hurisa crossed the finish line, officials later realized the soles on his shoes were five centimeters thick instead of the maximum four centimeters. They say the rules left them no choice but to disqualify him. The Kenyan runner who finished second was declared the winner.

Lost by a millimeter.

JARRETT: That's a bummer for him.

Hurricane Ida may have forced the Saints out of New Orleans, but they looked right at home in Jacksonville against the Packers.

Coy Wire has this morning's Bleacher Report. Hey, Coy.


Folks in the southeast -- Louisiana -- they haven't had much to cheer about, right, in the wake of the catastrophic hurricane just over two weeks ago, but the Saints are giving them a little hope as they rebuild their homes and lives.


With Drew Brees off in retirement, New Orleans had a new starting quarterback for the first time in 15 years. Jameis Winston dominating. He torched Green Bay's defense for a career-high five touchdowns. He said afterward, this win was for the city.

The game was so out of hand, Laura, that the Packers benched their star quarterback Aaron Rodgers with more than 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter. Rodgers didn't look anything like a reigning league MVP.

The Saints' defense grabbed two interceptions from them in a 38-3 blowout win, handing Green Bay their worst opening day loss since 1970. Rodgers says it's not time for cheesehead nation to panic, though.


AARON RODGERS, QUARTERBACK, GREEN BAY PACKERS: It's just one game. We played bad. I played bad. Offensively, we didn't execute very well. It's one game. We've got 16 to go.


WIRE: How about those Chiefs -- off to a slow start against Cleveland in a rematch of their playoff game from January, down 22 to 10 at halftime.

But Kansas City's magician, Patrick Mahomes, went full David Blaine on the Browns -- under pressure, rolling out, heaving that ball to Tyreek Hill for a 75-yarder in one of his three passing touchdowns on the day. He ran one in, too.

And when it mattered most -- down with seven minutes to go -- Mahomes tosses this one to tight end Travis Kelce, who plows through three defenders for the go-ahead score. Kansas City hangs on to win 33 to 29.

Rams fans getting their first look at their new $5 billion SoFi Stadium and their new Q.B. Former Detroit Lion Matthew Stafford putting on a show against Christine Romans' Bears in primetime. Two of his three passing touchdowns went for more than 50 yards, matching the Rams' total of such TDs from last season. Rams dominate 34-14.

Maia Chaka making history, becoming the first Black woman to officiate an NFL game. She's the third on-field female official in the NFL, joining Sarah Thomas and Shannon Eastin.

Chaka said, quote, "It's a privilege that I've been chosen to represent women and women of color in the most popular sport in America."

To the U.S. Open final where Novak Djokovic is denied the first calendar year Grand Slam in men's tennis since 1969. Instead, it's world number-two, Daniil Medvedev, delivering a straight-set stunner, winning his very first career major title.

Djokovic showing all the emotions. You see him there smashing a racquet in the second set. And then in the third, he's burying his face in a towel as tears started to flow, realizing it just wasn't meant to be. Afterward, Djokovic said he felt relief it was over, felt sadness in the defeat, but also gratitude to the crowd, which had been cheering him on during the entire match.

And fireworks in the Yankees-Mets game. Top of the seventh, Yanks down two. Giancarlo Stanton launching one -- the game-tying homer -- over the wall. But mid-trot around bases he stops for heated words with Francisco Lindor who was making a whistling motion. Both benches cleared.

Lindor said afterwards he can't accuse the Yankees of whistling during at-bats to tip off pitchers to their hitters, but -- pitches, rather -- but he believes something out of the ordinary was going on.

In the end, Lindor's bat did the biggest talking. He sent his third home run of the game whistling right over the wall, giving the Mets the 7-6 win and keeping Mets fans' playoff hopes alive there in New York -- Christine.

ROMANS: Look at that young Yankee fan. He looks like he's going to be sick -- oh.

All right, thanks so --

WIRE: Sorry about your Bears, Christine. It's already (INAUDIBLE).

ROMANS: They're her Bears, too.

WIRE: There's always next week.

ROMANS: You like the Bears. Are you a Bears fan?

JARRETT: I would say this, I'm from Chicago. How about that? We'll just leave it at that.

ROMANS: All right.

WIRE: Well said.

ROMANS: Thank you so much. Nice to see you, Coy.

Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

JARRETT: I'm Laura Jarrett. "NEW DAY" is next.



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. It is Monday, September 13th. I'm John Berman with Brianna Keilar.

On this new day, a growing number of Americans support vaccine mandates at workplaces and schools. This is according to a brand-new poll just out from CNN. More than half the country back mandates for schools, sporting events, concerts, returning to work, though there are divisions along party lines.

President Biden just sent out a series of new vaccination requirements, including a mandate for testing for vaccinations for any company with more than 100 people. The surgeon general tells CNN that this will benefit businesses and improve public health, but Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson argues that the requirements could backfire.


HUTCHINSON: The problem is that I'm trying to overcome resistance but the president's actions in a mandate hardens the resistance.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Sixty-three percent of eligible Americans are now vaccinated and the seven-day average of new coronavirus cases appears to be declining nationwide, although certain states are still experiencing surges. Hospitalizations also appear to be leveling off, even as the average number of daily deaths continues to climb.

BERMAN: Well, let's talk about the brand-new poll numbers showing a majority support for vaccine --