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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

U.S. to Allow Fully Vaccinated Tourists From Canada & Mexico; White House to Work with Private Sector to Ease Supply Chain Bottlenecks; William Shatner Headed to Space on Blue Origin's "New Shepard". Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired October 13, 2021 - 05:00   ET



LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Overnight, borders with Canada and Mexico will soon reopen for fully vaccinated travelers.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: A 90-day sprint. The White House taking urgent steps to open up the supply chain and bring prices down. We'll tell you how.

JARRETT: And we are just hours away from the latest Blue Origin mission sending a Star Trek icon into orbit.

It's Wednesday, October 13th. It's 5:00 a.m. here in New York.

Thanks so much for getting an early start with us. I'm Laura Jarrett.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world.

And brand-new this morning, an urgent push to fix the tangled global supply chain, what the White House is calling a 90-day sprint to unchoke the bottlenecks that are feeding into inflation. A senior administration official said the port of Los Angeles would move to 24/7 service. The port of Long Beach has already been working around the clock. Those two ports, they handle 40 percent of the container traffic in the U.S.

The White House also said Walmart, FedEx and UPS, three the largest goods companies in the country will move to 24/7 operations.

The supply chain nightmare is slowing the economic recovery. Banks have been slashing their growth forecast and Moody's Analytics warns these disruptions will get worse before they get better.


MARK ZANDI, CHIEF ECONOMIST, MOODY'S ANALYTICS: Obviously, it's a problem. It all goes back to the pandemic. I mean, the pandemic is disrupted all markets, you know. We can see in the global supply chains. It's not going to be next month, next quarter. I think this time next year we'll be in a better place.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROMANS: Yeah, into next year seems to be the consensus. Even if problems with the ports are fixed and could start moving, a shortage of truck drivers may be the weakest link in the global supply chain. Administration officials said the federal government working with the state DMVs to try to increase the number of commercial driver's licenses to help get more truck drivers on the road.

The White House also hopes to see the trucking and rail freight industries expand their hours.

The tangled mess has meant delays and higher prices for shoppers ahead of the holiday season. I mean, from everything, shoes, clothes, bags, artificial Christmas trees, semiconductor chips for laptops and cars all more expensive and harder to find because of the crisis.

President Biden will speak about supply chain issues today at the White House.

JARRETT: Breaking news this morning, the United States us plans to reopen its borders for fully vaccinated travelers coming from Canada and Mexico. Changes set to happen next month signals a new phase in the pandemic recovery as land borders have been closed for over a year and a half.

CNN's Priscilla Alvarez joins us live from Washington.

Priscilla, this has to be welcome news for so many families that haven't seen each other in months now.

Walk us through what is going to change and who exactly is this going to apply to wants to come to the U.S.?

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN REPORTER: Laura, this is significant not only for the families, but the businesses along the border who say they struggled economically to stay afloat during this pandemic. So now after more than 18 months, fully vaccinated foreign visitors will be able to cross the land borders, both Canada and Mexico, for non- essential reasons. That means visiting a friend or family or tourism.

Previously the restrictions only allowed essential travel like cross- border trade. So here's what officials say is going to happen. The first phase will kickoff in early November, and that's when those fully vaccinated foreign visitors will be able to cross the border for non-essential reasons. Then in January of 2022, that vaccination requirement will apply to those who are traveling for essential purposes, like cross-border trade.

The other point officials made for those who may have received a vaccine that is not approved in the United States is that they are waiting for a decision from the CDC. Now, they said that the CDC told airlines that vaccines that were approved or authorized by the FDA and who would be applicable to those international vaccinations, but they said that the CDC is still working on that decision.

Now, again, this is very significant for those border communities and we already saw reaction from lawmakers representing border districts. In fact, we heard from New York Representative Brian Higgins who called this, quote, a sigh of relief, saying this has been an important development for his community and for other communities along both borders. So, a welcome change, Laura, that many have been anticipating for a long time over this pandemic.


JARRETT: Yeah, I saw Senator Gillibrand said something like $660 million in lost revenue for one of those border communities. So, huge boon for the economy at a really important time.

Priscilla, thank you so much for following this one for us.

ROMANS: Yeah. And, Laura, the U.S. travel association said it cost a billion and a half dollars every month that that border has been closed, so it is an incredible sorts --

JARRETT: Love their outlet shopping. I'm telling you.

ROMANS: They do.

Also new this morning, undocumented immigrants no longer face those mass raids at job sites. This is a real shift in tactic here. Homeland security secretary said miss allocated enforcement resources, the department will focus on the employers who he says, quote, exploit unauthorized workers with substandard wages and unsafe working conditions. Immigration advocacy groups applauding this change.

JARRETT: More than a dozen American officials working at the U.S. embassy in Colombia have reported possible cases of Havana syndrome. Some even had to be medevac'd in recent weeks including a family with a child. Secretary of State Tony Blinken is set to visit Bogota next week.

Symptoms of Havana syndrome like headaches and other weird sensations have been reported by officials in more than a dozen countries around the world since this mysterious condition first appeared back in 2016. A visit to Vietnam by Vice President Harris was delayed back in august after a case was reported, you'll remember. The who, what and how behind Havana syndrome still being investigated.

ROMANS: All right. A big company is putting science behind politics despite the governor's vaccine edict in Texas.



JARRETT: A slow-motion disaster that we should see coming, it seems efforts to undermine U.S. elections are only growing in reach these days. In Michigan, hundreds of Trump supporters rallied at the state capital Tuesday demanding an audit of the 2020 election despite having no evidence of fraud. The state has already completed 250 audits and found no issues. One Republican state lawmaker was even spotted wearing a q button at that rally. The QAnon mass delusion considered a fringe now an integral part that some GOP election was stolen. ROMANS: Why does this matter? Because former President Trump still

has a grip on the party through fear. Buying into the conspiracies is a condition for endorsement in GOP races. He's also urged former aides and associates like Mark Meadows, Steve Bannon, Dan Scavino and Kash Patel to refuse to comply with congressional subpoenas about the origin of those riots on January 6.

JARRETT: Lawmakers on the House Select Committee say criminal contempt charges are the next step here and soon. We get more now from Ryan Nobles on Capitol Hill.


RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Laura and Christine, this is a key week for the January 6 select committee as that first round of in-person depositions is scheduled to take place among that group of the four individuals who were first subpoenaed by the commission. Each of these individuals has dealt with the committee differently. Meadows and Patel have engaged on some level with the committee, but Bannon has outride said he was going to comply. That he's going to work with former President Trump to defend executive privilege.

The committee has warned these individuals that they aren't messing around. They will move forward with a criminal complaint if they don't comply.

This is what Adam Schiff said on Tuesday.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): We're not messing around. If people don't show up, if people don't provide the documents they're compelled, we intend to take up criminal contempt and refer to the justice department and we expect it will be prosecuted. Unlike the last administration, no one is above the law, and so we intend to move quickly.

NOBLES: So the question is when would the committee take this step of moving ahead with a criminal contempt complaint? Well, it probably won't be until Friday because that's the deadline of that first round of in-person depositions. The process could happen as soon as Friday or maybe into next week.

The committee not tipping their hand as to how quickly they will move, only to say that they are not going to waste any time because they fear that delaying this process will be a tactic by the former President Donald Trump and his allies -- Laura and Christine.


ROMANS: All right, Ryan, thank you so much for that.

To COVID now and major corporations defying Texas' new ban on vaccine mandates. Governor Greg Abbott's new rule puts companies in a bind. It would fine any company that requires a COVID vaccine for workers directly conflicting with the federal mandate. Now, most employers want their workers vaccinated. It dramatically reduces health care costs and sick days. Most workers say they want it, too. Now, Southwest and American airlines say they will follow President Biden's vaccine requirement for federal contractors rather than Governor Abbott's contrary order. And Dell still plans on January 4th return to the office with vaccine requirements and testing protocols in place.

Here's the mayor of Austin.


MAYOR STEVE ADLER (D), AUSTIN, TEXAS: It also seems to be inconsistent not only with the federal orders coming from the president, but this is Texas. I mean, this is a pro business state. And for us to be telling businesses in their own businesses what they can or can't do in order to be able to protect their employees and their customers just doesn't seem to be in keeping with the freedoms and liberties we talk about here in Texas.


JARRETT: This shouldn't be political, but cities and states with Democratic leaders are taking a more science-based approach in reality.


In Boston, more than 800 city employees out of 18,000 have been placed on unpaid leave for refusing to get vaccinated or be tested regularly. And Washington-based Boeing is telling its roughly 125,000 U.S. employees that it will mandate the vaccine to meet President Biden's executive order.

But in states like Florida where the governor has put politics over science, it's a very different story. The Florida health department has slapped a $3.5 million fine on Leon County for requiring employees to simply provide proof of vaccination.

ROMANS: Playing politics with this pandemic has life or death consequence. On Sunday, Nicole Sperry said good-bye to her 10-year-old daughter killed by COVID. Less than 24 hours later, she was combating misinformation at a Virginia school board meeting.


NICOLE SPERRY, TERESA SPERRY'S MOTHER: COVID is not over. No matter what people who have been standing up here have said. Ii was sitting next to my healthy daughter's death bed. She died five days after showing symptoms.


ROMANS: Thankfully, the members are starting to trend down, but there are 1500 children in hospitals with COVID across the U.S. kids now represent 25 percent of weekly reported cases. These are children who are not old enough to get an authorized vaccine. It's the grown ups who are old enough. It's the grown ups who are responsible for protecting the children. The people who are not vaccinated are basically incubators.

JARRETT: They're playing a dangerous game.

And these lower case numbers, though, they're prompting Coachella and the stage coach music festivals in southern California to ease policies on COVID vaccinations. They will not be required to present proof of full vaccination. Instead, concert goers will be allowed to show proof of a negative COVID test within 72 hours. The festival's parent company said it has seen low transmission rates at other events. Coachella is scheduled for mid April in Indio, California. Stagecoach will be held on April 29.

ROMANS: So, what message are workers sending to employers?


ROMANS: Johnny paycheck at 5:00 a.m. the number of Americans quitting their jobs. We'll tell you why.



ROMANS: The 90-year-old actor William Shatner is about to go where no 90-year-old actor has gone before. The beloved Captain Kirk from star trek is on Blue Origin and lift off is five hours away.


KRISTIN FISHER, CNN SPACE AND DEFENSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine and Laura. I don't think Captain Kirk had to deal with weather delays on star trek, but the actor William Shatner had to deal with two wind delays here at launch site 1 in Texas. Shatner said the delays have extended his feelings about the flight which rocked from total excitement to sheer terror, and at 90 years old he will become the oldest person to ever fly in space.

He'll be joined by Audrey Powers, Blue Origin's vice president of mission and flight operations, and two paying customers, both tech entrepreneurs. The four have been living and training together at the astronaut village since Saturday. If all goes according to plan they will enjoy 4 minutes of weightlessness during a roughly 11-minute suborbital trip in space. Blue Origin had 17 successful consecutive flights. It has a solid track record.

But the FAA is reviewing s concerns brought up by current and former blue origin employees complaining about a toxic work environment where professional dissent is actively stifled. There is a lot of attention on blue origin right now, both good and bad. But sending the original Captain Kirk up into space, I mean, that's something even "Star Wars" fans have to get behind -- Christine and Laura.


JARRETT: All right, Kristin, thank you for that. Now to America's gun epidemic. Two U.S. postal service employees

killed Tuesday at a facility in Memphis, Tennessee, the suspect also a postal worker died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. One of the victims was a 37-year-old mom.


STEVEN S. DORTCH, JR., FATHER OF VICTIM: She was a hard working young lady, always had been hard working. And she's a good mother to all her kids.

REPORTER: What makes someone do something like this?

DORTCH: My god, I can't answer that now. Too many people with access to guns.


ROMANS: Just awful.

In Chicago, a 14-year-old girl and security guard were shot yesterday at a Chicago high school. The girl is in critical condition. Police have not made an arrest. So far there have been 559 mass shootings in the United States.

JARRETT: Still ahead for you, the world saw a fairytale, but trouble was brewing from the start. Go behind the scenes of the royal wedding on the new episode of the CNN original series "Diana" Sunday night at 9:00 only on CNN. You don't want to miss that.



JARRETT: Good Wednesday morning, everyone. This is EARLY START. I'm Laura Jarrett.

ROMANS: Yeah, halfway through it.

I'm Christine Romans, 29 minutes past the hour. Time for our top stories to keep an eye on today.

The U.S. plans to reopen the border for vaccinated travelers from Canada and Mexico in November. A ban has been in place 18 months because of the pandemic. The change could be an economic boost with shopping and gambling around border towns.

JARRETT: A 90-day sprint. The White House has an urgent push to fix the tangled supply chain. The port of Los Angeles will unload ships around the clock. There is a push to get more driver's licenses for truck drivers.

ROMANS: The first authorization for the FDA, the agency doesn't say the products are safe, but sees the benefit of help smokers lower the risk from traditional cigarettes.