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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

FDA Panel Recommends Pfizer Vaccine for Kids; Democrats Close in on Economic Package; Actor Voices Concern About Weapons on "Rust" Set. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired October 27, 2021 - 05:00   ET



LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: A major step in the battle against COVID. Kids can start getting vaccines as soon as next week.

Critical details coming together for President Biden's economic package. Can it get over the finish line before he heads to Europe tomorrow?


IAN HUDSON, ACTOR ON "RUST": There are double and triple checking our weapons after the armorer gave them to us, whether they were cold or hot.


JARRETT: And new concerns this morning about the weapons on the set of "Rust." Criminal charges are now on the table after that deadly shooting by Alec Baldwin.

Hello, everyone. It's Wednesday, October 27th. It's 5:00 a.m. here in New York. Thanks so much forget being an EARLY START with me. I'm Laura Jarrett. Christina is off today.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world.

We begin this morning with the next step towards bringing this pandemic to an end. The FDA's vaccine advisory panel has now recommended Pfizer's COVID vaccine for kids 5 to 11. The committee says the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks. This as 118,000 more kids tested positive for COVID in the last week alone.

Kids also account for a disproportionate share of new cases in the U.S. and higher numbers than other conditions like chickenpox where vaccines are already available for kids.


DR. MARK MCCLELLAN, FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER: This is a very important option, especially with so much COVID around, so many kids trying to go back to school and prevent spread within their families and within their communities. If you look around and see the cases that have happened, the hospitalizations, the long-term consequence of COVID, take a look at the data. Very few, very rare side effects and those are able to be managed. That's much better, I think, for most people given the way COVID is spreading now in the country for protecting our kids.


JARRETT: The U.S. is now at a critical stage in this pandemic with cases and hospitalizations falling sharply. But so are vaccination rates, 22 percent of eligible Americans remain unvaccinated, and that's heading into a cold winter.

So what's the next step in getting shots in kids' arms? We get more now from our senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Laura, on Tuesday, an advisory committee to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration voted to recommend emergency use authorization of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for 5 to 11-year-olds. This after looking at data of studies that were done on children to see if the vaccine was safe and effective.

Less let's take a look at the basic here. Pfizer did a clinical trial of nearly 2,000 children ages 5 to 11 and found that the vaccine was 90.7 percent effective at keeping those children from becoming sick with COVID-19.

Now, the full FDA needs to weigh in, needs to say whether or not this shot ought to get emergency use authorization. After that, next week advisers to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control will weigh in, will say whether they give a green light and then the CDC chief herself will weigh in on whether or not it should get a green light.

If everyone gives their okay, Dr. Anthony Fauci has said that he is optimistic that children could get shots starting as early as next week.

Now, children won't be getting the same dose of the vaccine as adults. Instead, they'll be getting one-third of the dose. The White House has already outlined a rollout plan that involves giving shots in schools, pharmacies, and pediatricians' offices -- Laura.


JARRETT: Elizabeth, thank you for that.

It's time for three questions in three minutes. Let's bring Dr. Chris Pernell, a public health physician and fellow at the American College of Preventive Medicine.

Doctor, nice to see you this morning.

So, let's talk about kids and vaccines. The number one concern I hear from parents isn't resistance. It's not that they're hesitant, but they do feel this whole process has been rushed. They don't quite understand how we got here so quickly.

So, what would you say to a parent of, say, a 5-year-old who says, look, the risk of my daughter getting COVID is so low, it's just not worth it given how fast this all happened?

DR. CHRIS T. PERNELL, PUBLIC HEALTH PHYSICIAN: Good morning. I'd say it's worth it because the cumulative benefits outweigh any potential risk.

And let me explain that more deeply by saying almost 700 children in the United States have died, and I believe that's a failure. With a country of this level of preparedness and the tools we have, it is important that all members of the household in the family can be protected.


So I would say we have the best available data right now that allows us to take this significant incredible leap forward in the pandemic.

JARRETT: So how should parents think about this if you have what I would think of as sort of an edge case, right? Say you have an 11- year-old, but one that's turning 12 in a couple of months. They have a birthday coming up. Is it better for that child to wait and get the adult dose of the vaccine once they're 12, they can get that full dose, as if they were much older, or is it possible that -- or is it rather, better to get the dose as soon as possible when they're still 11, say, you know, in maybe two weeks?

PERNELL: It's always best to get the dose as soon as possible, meaning as soon as you are eligible, get the dose that is authorized or approved for your age group. So, I wouldn't take that time to wait because every moment that you wait, every day that you wait, that's additional risk that the child otherwise would not have to have.

JARRETT: The CDC now says that severely immunocompromised people should probably get a fourth shot after their third shot, six months after. Should we just get used to this idea of boosters every six months, right? We get a flu shot every year.

PERNELL: Not quite, not quite. Basically what the CDC is saying that in those who have weakened immune systems, their immunity isn't fully competent as someone like you or myself. So that third dose really is just giving them full protection, so the fourth dose is what's acting like a booster and could be given as a booster dose.

JARRETT: Very important context. Thank you for always being here to sort it all out for us. Dr. Chris Pernell, appreciate it.

PERNELL: Thank you.

JARRETT: All right. To Washington now and Democrats racing to reach an agreement on President Biden's economic agenda before he leaves for Italy tomorrow to attend the g20 summit. As there is progress to report, Democrats are running into more roadblocks as they finish the deal. Daniella Diaz is on Capitol Hill for us.

Daniella, good morning.

Democrats are finally hoping to finalize a framework. It's always an agreement to agree, if you will, it seems like. They are hoping to do this by the end of today. What's the hold up?

DANIELLA DIAZ, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Laura, so many holdups. It's crunch time. President Biden as you said is set to go overseas, that's why they're trying to finalize this today. They have a couple weeks before the end of the year and the momentum they have to pass both this bipartisan infrastructure bill that is being held up in the house and the separate economic bill that would expand the nation's social safety net that they're trying to iron out the details for.

Now, let me talk a little about some of the issues that are sticking points here. Some of them include Medicare, Medicaid, paid family leave, immigration, and, of course, taxes. How they're going to pay for this package.

Senate Democrats are now proposing a new corporate minimum tax rate that would apply to companies that report more than $1 billion in profits to shareholders. That plan would affect roughly 200 businesses and is expected to generate billions of dollars in revenue to pay for this package. This is different than a straighten crease in the corporate tax rate. Something that Senator Kyrsten Sinema was opposed to, which is why Democrats were left scrambling to figure out how they were going to pay for this.

But she has signaled an openness to a proposal like this one. And Senator Joe Manchin told CNN yesterday as he was leading votes, he is in favor of a corporate minimum tax.

These two moderate Democrats were seen last night at the White House, still in negotiations for this. I want to emphasize these are the two moderate Democratic senators that are holding up this massive economic bill because they didn't agree with all of the provisions, and Democrats need their vote behind this, which is why they're a key negotiator here.

Now, another thing, Biden is under immense pressure. When he travels overseas to have climate provisions ready to present, which is why now the White House is privately telling lawmakers that the climate portions of this bill will likely total over $500 billion. And separately, negotiators are also on the verge of agreement over final child care and universal pre-K provisions.

But, of course, this is not going smoothly, never does. Progressives are adamant that they want to see legislation for this massive economic bill before they vote for that separate bipartisan infrastructure bill I mentioned that is being held up in the House. It's already passed the Senate. It just needs to pass the House before it goes to President Joe Biden's desk.

And they say framework is not enough. The House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pushed back on that yesterday, really, you know, governing with a heavy hand and emphasizing that they need to move forward on this. Take a listen to what she said to our CNN's Manu Raju.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Speaker Pelosi, Congressman Jayapal just said a framework agreement is not enough to vote for the BIF.



DIAZ: It's really crunch time here on Capitol Hill as they are trying to figure out how they're going to pass this framework, figure out this framework before President Joe Biden is set to leave overseas tomorrow morning.


Now, his schedule does have some cushion tomorrow in case he needs to spend some more time negotiating with Democrats on this framework to figure out before he leaves the country. But it's really down to the last couple of minutes here as they try to figure this out today -- Laura.

JARRETT: Down to the wire as usual.

Daniella, thank you. Appreciate your reporting.

Still ahead for you, more alarming details about weapons on the set of "Rust." Now, one of the actors is speaking out about safety issues even before last week's fatal shooting.


HUDSON: Brandon Lee, having died in '93, they're doing it the same way they did it 20 years ago. Got to double-check. Got to make sure.




JARRETT: This morning we are learning more about the weapon that killed a cinematographer on the set of "Rust" in New Mexico last week. The Santa Fe County district attorney now says that the gun fired by Alec Baldwin was a, quote, legit gun and possible criminal charges in this case are on the table. At least not off the table.

So, who exactly would be liable here, and for what is still under investigation. But one of the actors on the film, in his first big role, tells TMZ he was feeling exposed as a performer.

Ian Hudson said veteran actors on that set were double and triple checking weapons.


HUDSON: Everyone on the camera crew was protected by shields. And the camera was protected by a shield. So that made me question me being in front of the camera and sort of in between all that fire.

I could feel the wind from the shotgun, you know, being discharged. It was heavy. It was strong. I would talk to my fellow cast members afterwards and we all agreed how intense that was, and how scary and real it was.


JARRETT: Overnight, Deadline also reported that the film's producers have hired their own legal team to investigate the shooting. And a crew member is sharing what is believed to be the last photo of Halyna Hutchins in a church where that shooting took place.

CNN's Josh Campbell reports from Santa Fe.


JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Laura, we are learning new information about the status of the state's investigation into that fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins by actor Alec Baldwin. Officials here in Santa Fe with the district attorney's office tells me that their investigation remains active. They say that they have not yet ruled out any potential criminal charges in this case.

That's obviously key because one question has been liability. Will any one person or group of people be held responsible for her death? Again, an official with the D.A.'s office tells me that investigation is ongoing.

We are also learning new information about what the sheriff's department actually found on the set of that shooting after that incident. According to court records, we are learning they found three pistols as well as cans of ammunition, a fanny pack containing ammunition, as well as spent rounds. Left unstated in that warrant, one key question whether any ammunition was actually live.

Now, we are also awaiting information from the medical examiner's office. I talked to an official there today who said we are still potentially weeks away from them completing their autopsy report. That is so important because we all want to know what was inside that weapon that Alec Baldwin fired. Was it debris? Was it a live round?

The sheriff's department says that they are looking to the medical examiner's office to help answer that question -- Laura.


JARRETT: Josh, thank you. A long-time Hollywood prop master says he turned down an offer to work

on that movie "Rust" because producers asked him to fill two jobs. One as an armorer, and another as an assistant key prop master. Neal Zoromski said he felt that approach was flawed.


NEAL W. ZOROMSKI, HOLLYWOOD PROP MASTER TURNED DOWN JOB ON "RUST" SET: It's just an awful lot of landscape for even a seasoned professional to cover. If you're loading you're up next to the camera. If you're an assistant key prop master, you're loading the wagons, checking the bridles. Making sure the trunk is being loaded and off loaded and repeated over and over again.

There are so many things that go on between the foreground and the background. And to have to cover that amount of territory and do it well is challenging for even a seasoned professional.


JARRETT: Zoromski says he also had misgivings about the job offer after speaking to the production team about budgeting and staffing issues there. But a source close to the production tells CNN there was no budget issue with that film.

Okay. A state race with national implications so clear, the president himself is on the campaign stump.



JARRETT: So maybe you're curious just how much the White House cares about the Virginia's governor race. President Biden himself campaigning for the Democratic nominee, rounding off a week of heavy hitters stomping for Terry McAuliffe. Education is shaping this race in important ways here, with parents fighting over schools and masks and critical race theory.

But the White House knows there are national ramifications.

CNN's Jeff Zeleny reports from a rally in Arlington, Virginia.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Laura, President Biden coming to Arlington, Virginia, on Tuesday night to campaign for Democrat Terry McAuliffe. Now less than one week remaining in this closely watched governors race.

Now, more than 740,000 people have already voted in this race, and the next coming days of early voting are also going to be critical. That's why President Biden was coming to try and draw attention to this campaign. But he also is trying to link Republican Glenn Youngkin directly with Donald Trump. JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Virginia, you know terry.

You know his record. He was a great governor. How well do you know Terry's opponent?

Well, just remember this. I ran against Donald Trump. And Terry is running against an acolyte of Donald Trump.

Extremism can come in many forms, can come in the rage of a mob driven to assault the Capitol.


It can come in a smile and a fleece vest.

ZELENY: And President Biden was taking great delight in talking about Donald Trump and talking about Republican Glenn Youngkin, essentially saying they're the same person.

Of course, Virginia voters are in some respects rejected that argument because this race is a dead heat with less than a week to go. Of course, President Biden carried the state by 10 percentage points. So a week from now we could be waking up to results providing that all the votes are counted, that will answer a question of how Democrats are doing in these off-year elections.

Now, one thing President Biden did not come to Virginia with was his economic agenda. He essentially came empty-handed. That is one of the things that's complicating Terry McAuliffe's race.

Laura, no question, all eyes on Virginia for the next six days, the closest race in the country -- Laura.


JARRETT: Jeff, thank you.

Well, a little programming note for you here. The tell-all book, the accusations, break down of a royal marriage, watch a new episode of the CNN original series "Diana" Sunday night at 9:00 only on CNN.