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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

CDC Shortens Recommended Isolation and Quarantine Time; Biden Pledges Testing Help For States, Concedes Failures; Deadly Brazil Flooding Kills At Least 20, Displaces Thousands. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired December 28, 2021 - 05:30   ET



LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: This, likely welcome news for businesses across the country facing the strain of employees at home while Omicron surges.

PAULA REID, CNN ANCHOR: And a shooting spree in the Denver area has left five people dead, including the suspect. One officer was injured in a shootout with the gunman and is undergoing surgery. The motive for the shooting is unknown and the investigation is ongoing.


Newly-released LAPD bodycam footage showing the moments leading to the police shooting of 14-year-old Valentina Orellana-Peralta.


JARRETT: That's newly-released LAPD bodycam footage showing the moments leading to the police shooting of that 14-year-old girl. Valentina Orellana-Peralta was in a dressing room when a bullet apparently passed through the wall fatally striking her in the chest. Valentina's parents will speak publicly today.

REID: And the jury in the Ghislaine Maxwell sex trafficking trial resumes deliberations this morning. The panel sent its ninth note to the judge on Monday requesting transcripts of Gregory Parkinson's testimony. The former crime scene manager for the Palm Beach police was involved in a 2005 search of Jeffrey Epstein's home.

JARRETT: A fourth college bowl game canceled this season because of COVID. On Monday, the Boise State Broncos pulled out of the Arizona Bowl, effectively canceling it. The Military Bowl in Annapolis, Maryland; the inaugural Fenway Bowl in Boston; and the Hawaii Bowl have all been canceled as well.

REID: And a second time capsule has been found where the Robert E. Lee statue once stood in Richmond, Virginia. It will be opened this afternoon. And x-rays released by the governor's office show what could be inside. Details on that in just minutes.

JARRETT: All right, turning back now to our top story -- the significant change from the CDC officially revising their recommendations on how long you need to stay at home if you test positive for COVID. If you don't have any symptoms the CDC now says your isolation period is cut from 10 to five days. This change -- regardless of your vaccination status, by the way -- was made after scientific studies showed the majority of COVID transmission is coming during the early stages of the illness.

REID: The change also comes at a crucial point with workforces across the country feeling the pinch of staffing shortages.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER TO THE PRESIDENT: With the sheer volume of new cases that we are having and that we expect to continue with Omicron, one of the things we want to be careful of is that we don't have so many people out. I mean, obviously, if you have symptoms you should not be out. But if you are asymptomatic and you are infected we want to get people back to the jobs, particularly those with essential jobs, to keep our society running smoothly.


REID: The new advice from the CDC not only could help keep the economy running but may also help avoid hospitals becoming overwhelmed with COVID and other winter viruses.


DR. FRED DAVIS, EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT CO-CHAIR, LONG ISLAND JEWISH MEDICAL CENTER, NORTHWELL HEALTH: One of the interesting things we're starting to see during this surge, it's been very different than the first surge. During the first surge, we saw a majority of the patients were COVID. This surge, we're seeing a lot of sicker patients that had delayed care because of the different surges that went on. And now, we're also starting to see a number of patients presenting with very low acuity -- very minimal symptoms -- that are also coming into the emergency department to get tested.


JARRETT: All right, it's time for three questions in maybe three minutes. Let's bring in Dr. Elizabeth Murray. She's a pediatric emergency medicine physician. Doctor, so nice to have you again for us this morning. Appreciate everything you're doing right now.

First, I want to get your reaction to these new recommendations from the CDC. The CDC director says this is aimed at helping people continue their daily lives. It's always a balance, right, to try to figure out the right tipping point here, but it also relies a lot on the honor system.

Is it a smart move?

DR. ELIZABETH MURRAY, PEDIATRIC EMERGENCY MEDICINE PHYSICIAN (via Skype): It gets a maybe from me. I think the science is strong with regard to why this should work, but it requires everybody to make sure they are playing by these very strict rules, and there's two parts to those rules. First of all, you have to be asymptomatic, and then you have to wear a high-quality, well-fitted mask for an additional five days regardless of where you are.

So, it's that -- it's that second half that I'm a little nervous about because we know from the data that the majority of cases are exactly what was previously stated -- the most virulent period is early on. However, there are some cases that can get transmitted later on and that's why that second half is going to be so very important.

As long as we are careful with our essential workers and make sure that people are able to follow the rules and not being unduly pressured to get back to work if they are, in fact, symptomatic, then this is -- this is a great thing. This is helpful for so many people who want to quote-unquote get back to our normal lives.

REID: As --

JARRETT: Yes. But the concern, of course, is this is a place that does not have universal paid leave. And so, the quicker that some people can get back to work, the more they're going to be incentivized to try to do that.


Go ahead, Paula. Sorry, I cut you off.

REID: No, it's a great point.

As for kids, we know that pediatric COVID cases are skyrocketing right now. So what are you seeing in your E.R.? This appears to be different from previous surges. Is it? What's going on with COVID in kids right now?

MURRAY: Yes. So, for some national perspective, there was about 200,000 pediatric cases last week -- the record being 250,000 cases in a week set back in September. So that is a concerning number that we are certainly approaching. I will say that my top three infectious diagnoses during my last shift were COVID, and then respiratory syncytial virus, and then a terrible stomach bug that is going around.

In the Northeast and the Midwest, the pediatric numbers are definitely climbing. I will say that the feeling of the E.D. was different. There was many families who were sick and they were bringing their child in because they had taken a rapid test at home and it was positive, and they just wanted to make sure.

There was much more of a sense of this is very real now, you know. That so many people kind of relied on kids don't really get that sick and I think many interpreted it as kids don't get sick. That was never the case. We always knew that children could get sick. The severity of the disease was less; however, the numbers are just quite high right now of children becoming ill with COVID-19.

JARRETT: So, Doctor, as all of this is happening, in just a few days, kids are going to be heading back to classrooms in person. If you are the parent of an unvaccinated child -- and I have a personal interest in this -- how should you approach your child going back to in-person learning? My son, for instance, is going to have to test 48 hours before he goes back to school. You think that's enough?

MURRAY: Well, I think it needs to be a multiprong approach. That's always been the thing with this pandemic. We don't have one quick fix.

The good news is that school-aged children five and up -- for the most part, they can now be vaccinated. So, if you have a 5-year-old child or older, take this week and get them vaccinated -- at least get that series started. There are so many opportunities to do that in every community.

But when your child heads back -- hopefully, everybody has been making some smart decisions during the break and then that kind of 48 hours leading up to school being back in session, kind of laying low at home, decreasing exposure so it decreases your chance of bringing COVID back to the classroom.

And then we need to see children in high-quality, well-fitted masks. There are lots of cool masks out there for children that fit very well that are either the -- kind of the surgical-grade quality or even a KN-95 mask. You want your child in a well-fitted mask. And, of course, watching very, very closely for symptoms.

Rapid testing is now a great addition. We have it but it often needs to be done at least two tests separated by about 12 hours.

But I think that schools have historically proven that with safety guidelines, masking, distancing, testing, that they can keep kids in school safe and successfully.

JARRETT: Yes. My household is basically doing multiple tests a week at this point.

Doctor Elizabeth Murray, thank you so much for your work. Appreciate having you on.

REID: And President Biden admitting to the nation's governors that his administration should have done more to speed up the availability of rapid COVID tests. His promise of 500 million kits coming too late to help with this week's holiday rush.

CNN's Jeremy Diamond is traveling with the president in Delaware.


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Good morning, Paula and Laura.

With coronavirus cases skyrocketing across the country, President Biden, on Monday, huddled with the nation's governors to get on the same page about the spread of the Omicron variant. The president making clear to those governors that he will get them all the support that they need; they just need to ask for it.

But what he also did during this meeting was acknowledge what has become an obvious failure to meet that coronavirus testing demand across the country.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Seeing how tough it was for some folks to get a test this weekend shows that we have more work to do. I know the lines have gotten very long in some states. That's why I ordered FEMA to set up pop-up sites in places with high demand to shorten the wait.

We went from no over-the-counter tests in January to 46 million in October, 100 million in November, and almost 200 million in December, but it's not enough. It's clearly not enough. We have to do more. We have to do better and we will.

DIAMOND (on camera): The president taking steps, though, to immediately ramp up the supply of coronavirus tests and the availability of testing across the country, signing a memorandum authorizing emergency funds to help the Department of Health and Human Services stand up more testing sites across the country in partnership with state and local governments.

And in a sign of just how fast-moving this pandemic and the federal government's response to it has been, we saw the CDC on Monday shorten that isolation period. The president, just hours before that, had said that he would follow the recommendation of his medical experts if they advised the change to that. But just a few days earlier, on Friday, President Biden said that it was not yet the recommendation of his medical experts to shorten that period.


Beyond, of course, the science evolving, it's also clear that there are economic implications here. Those airlines, for example, that have had to cancel flights -- they've been putting a lot of pressure on the government, as have other industries, to make a change there because of the economic ramifications -- Laura, Paula.


JARRETT: Jeremy Diamond, thank you for that.

We've obviously been talking about COVID all morning but cases of the flu also spiking across the United States, according to the CDC. With the Omicron surge, the country now faces the dual threat of these viruses. Last year, there were very few cases of the flu, mostly because more people were wearing masks and we had more indoor capacity limits and more social distancing.

Now, researchers say one of the main flu viruses has mutated and current vaccines may not do much to prevent infection. But -- and this is key -- getting a vaccine should prevent severe illness, whether it is the flu or COVID.

REID: And back on the ground. The Justice Department is closing out 2021 with a surge in grants for public safety programs in cities across the country. Many of those cities are struggling with an increase in the homicide rate.

Whitney Wild has more from Washington.


WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Laura, Paula, the Justice Department is announcing that hundreds of communities and organizations are either getting or can apply for some of a $1.6 billion pot to help reduce crime as a lot of cities grapple with a pretty significant surge in violence.

These grants follow a very tumultuous period for many cities. They struggled with protests last year in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. And in response to those protests lawmakers in some cities, like San Francisco, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, and New York City, proposed cutting back on their police departments' budgets to redirect those funds into community programs.

The Justice Department officials say that even the federal government intends to provide funds to help local authorities deal with a rise in crime in a variety of ways. Among the cities and their surrounding areas on the grants list includes places like Seattle, Chicago, Philadelphia, Baltimore, New York City, and Los Angeles.

And Paula and Laura, these grants can be pretty hefty sums. The largest state recipients include around $19.5 million to California's Board of State and Community Corrections, $14.5 million to the office of the governor of Texas, and nearly $11 million to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement -- Paula, Laura.


JARRETT: Whitney, thank you.

We'll be right back.



REID: Another case of ugly behavior on airplanes.


PATRICIA CORNWALL, DELTA AIRLINES PASSENGER: Stand your ass up. Stand your ass up.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE). You're going to jail. As soon as we get in Atlanta, you're going to jail.




REID: That Los Angeles woman, 51-year-old Patricia Cornwall, is facing a federal assault charge. She's seen on video hitting and spitting on another passenger on a Delta flight from Tampa to Atlanta.

JARRETT: So, this all started when Cornwall asked for help finding her seat. The flight attendant told her just grab an open one until the drink service was finished, to which Cornwall responded, quote, "What am I, Rosa Parks?" This is all according to a complaint, by the way. The other passenger told Cornwall that was inappropriate. It escalated from there.

Cornwall now faces one year in prison and a $100,000 fine.

According to the FAA, there have been nearly 5,800 unruly passenger incidents so far in 2021, most of them mask-related.

I think saying unruly is sort of putting it mildly at this point, Paula.

REID: Right. People need to calm down. Have some peanuts, a drink, and just chill. It's not that long a flight, Tampa to Atlanta.

JARRETT: You can't even get a drink now but maybe that's a good thing. I don't know.

REID: They need to give people (INAUDIBLE). That would make it worse.

Anyway, overseas, demonstrations against coronavirus restrictions have turned violent in Germany again as the divide grows in Europe over how to handle Omicron. Some nations are tightening up while others resist imposing more rules.

CNN's Barbie Naudeau is live at a pop-up testing site in Rome where Italians will see new restrictions for New Year's. What are you seeing there on the ground?

BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, these restrictions are in full force already. We have to wear face masks outdoors all across Italy.

But they've pretty much canceled New Year's Eve celebrations. There will be no fireworks in Paris. And here in Rome, there will be no massive concert. They've even made it -- they've even banned people gathering on public squares and that's turned a lot of people indoors.

A lot of the people that are standing here in line to get tested behind me aren't symptomatic. They just want to make sure they're safe if they're going to a friend's house for New Year's Eve.

We've also seen in France new restrictions there will be coming into effect on January third. They're going to allow people to do things on New Year's Eve, although there are no public events. And in England, though, they said they're not going to have any new restrictions even though cases there are upwards of 100,000 new ones a day.

So you're seeing all across continental Europe a varied approach to how they're trying to deal with this. How they're trying to get through the holiday season so that they can get kids back to school after it's over so that they can hopefully bring these numbers down again after the holidays are over -- Paula.

REID: Thank you so much for that report.

JARRETT: All right, deadly flooding in parts of Brazil leaving at least 20 people dead. Nearly 40 cities feeling the pain; another visceral reminder of climate change in a country where the president continues to deny science.

CNN's Matt Rivers reports now from Mexico City.


MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Well, in many of the worst-affected towns there are residents who have told reporters that this flooding -- this level of flooding is worse than they have ever seen -- in some cases, people who have lived in these places -- for decades.

RIVERS (voice-over): In the streets of Brazil's northeastern Bahia state, some are resorting to rafts and jet skis to get around. Others can only trudge through the fast-moving waters. Locals doing what they can to cope and finding ways to carry on while deadly flooding surrounds them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It's very sad to see our town like this. It's very sad. I have never seen anything like it in my life.


RIVERS (voice-over): For weeks, a tense rain has been pounding the area. Then, in recent days, two dams gave way, overwhelming towns that were already swamped. Since the start of November, more than a dozen have been killed, scores injured, and tens of thousands forced from their homes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): There is a bridge over there. It's crazy. It's like the sea. There was a wave of almost two meters high.

RIVERS (voice-over): Water now stretches as far as the eye can see -- homes, roads, cars, and land partly or entirely submerged. In the wake of the devastation, one of the towns' mayors blames human-caused climate change.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We know rain can be seen as a blessing from God, but because of the ecological imbalance that we human beings have caused there can be too much of it causing serious damage.

RIVERS (voice-over): While heavy rain in northeastern Brazil is not uncommon this time of year, local leaders say this is the worst in recent history. According to weather officials in Bahia's capital, December's rainfall is already six times greater than average.

And as rescue operations continue, emergency crews work to find anyone who may be trapped, hoping to stop the deadly rains from claiming another life.

RIVERS (on camera): And according to CNN's weather team, there are some localized areas in Bahia state that could see an additional four, even five inches of rainfall before all of this is said and done -- Laura, Paula.


JARRETT: Matt Rivers, thank you. Important reporting there.

Well, COVID has forced Boise State out of its bowl game, but their opponents already have found a new game to play in.

Carolyn Manno has more in this morning's Bleacher Report. Good morning, Carolyn.


This is a bit of musical chairs but it's not nearly as fun as that game. I mean, bowl organizers are scrambling right now to keep their games from getting canceled, and we've seen cancellations already.

Boise State, the latest team forced to miss out. They were supposed to play in the Arizona Bowl against Central Michigan on Friday. Arizona Bowl officials trying to scramble to find a new opponent for Central Michigan, but they decided instead to take the Sun Bowl slot that was vacated after Miami had to withdraw due to its own COVID issues.

So, Central Michigan is going to now face Washington State in El Paso on Friday. The Arizona Bowl is canceled.

In coordination with the CDC's shortening of isolation guidelines for those without symptoms who tested positive for the virus, the NBA is now going to allow vaccinated players and coaches to shorten their timeframe in quarantine if they test positive. A league memo obtained by CNN says that the quarantine can be reduced from 10 days down to six if testing determines that a player or a coach is no longer deemed infectious.

In the meantime, the NHL returns tonight after a weeklong COVID hiatus. Three more games were postponed yesterday. That's now 70 games that have been impacted so far this season.

And the NFL confirming 96 of its players tested positive for COVID yesterday. More than 100 players have been placed on the league's reserve COVID list since Christmas. So it's happening all over the place.

The Saints had 20 players on the reserved COVID list last night against the Dolphins and it certainly showed. Ian Book, the Saints' fourth starting quarterback of the season, harassed all night long by the Dolphins' defense. He was picked off twice. He was sacked eight times.

Jaylen Waddle had a really big night -- 92 yards, receiving a touchdown on a misdirection play as well.

So, the Dolphins win it 20-3. They've now won seven straight after losing seven straight. No team in NFL history has had a streak like that in the same season. Pretty wild.

And a wild moment here at last night's Hornets-Rockets game. Christian Wood trying to throw a cross-court pass -- look at this. He missed it so badly. Two-handed overhead chuck and it hit an unsuspecting woman in the stands. He couldn't believe it.

Now, the fan would be OK. She seemed to shake it off pretty well. He said on Instagram after the game that he would offer the fan courtside seats to a Rockets game of her choice.

He had 16 points in the loss to Charlotte. But that right there, Laura and Paula, is the play that everybody's talking about this morning. I'm just glad that she was OK. That's not what you sign up for when you go --


MANNO: -- to a basketball game.

JARRETT: No, not at all, but she handled it well.


JARRETT: She shook it off.

MANNO: Like a champ.

JARRETT: And now she gets courtside seats -- not bad.

MANNO: It's a win-win.

REID: Yes, not bad at all. Thank you so much.

JARRETT: Thanks, Carolyn.

REID: A second time capsule has been found where the statue of Robert E. Lee once stood in Richmond, Virginia. It will be opened this afternoon.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We found the original time capsule.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where -- did you all find it? Yo, that's what's up.


REID: The Virginia Department of Historic Resources says the copper box weighs 36 pounds.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eventually, we got down to the bottom and we found all this harder material. It seemed like it was -- it was fabricated. It was harder to move. So, obviously, it was trying to protect something. That was our theory. So, eventually, we got the large excavator with the thumb and the capstone slid off and there it was.


JARRETT: X-rays released by the governor's office show what could be books, buttons, and even ammunition from the Civil War inside.


If this all sounds familiar, a similar container was discovered almost two weeks ago when the statue's 40-foot pedestal was being dismantled. Inside that lead container, an 1875 almanac, two withered books, a coin, and a cloth envelope.

REID: I'm curious to see what's inside the new one.

And the power of social media helps a lost wedding band find its way back home. Bob and Katy Mann were eating at one of their favorite Florida restaurants when Bob dropped his wedding ring. Thankfully, a woman named Michelle Heiser found it.


MICHELLE HEISER, FOUND WEDDING RING: I'm walking and all of a sudden I look down and I see a gold ring. And I said to my husband -- I go that looks like someone's wedding band. And all I thought to myself when I saw the ring was oh my God, what if it was my ring or his ring, you know? I would want someone to try and find a way to get it back to me.


JARRETT: So, Heiser posted a photo of the ring on social media, and when someone recognized it they alerted the Manns. The couple got in touch with Heiser and described the inscription on the ring. That was key. Heiser sent them the ring just in time for Christmas.


KATY MANN, HUSBAND LOST WEDDING RING: I asked him if he had lost a ring and he said no. He said wait a minute, I don't have my ring on. It must be -- he thought it was in the bathroom and he couldn't find it. It was just great that they would follow through like that.

BOB MANN, LOST WEDDING RING: I think they were more enthused than we were.


JARRETT: Heiser says she now plans to get her husband's ring inscribed just in case.

Sometimes social media is used for good. I like it.

REID: Absolutely. And those inscriptions, they can come in handy, as we've seen.

Well, thanks for joining us. I'm Paula Reid.

JARRETT: I'm Laura Jarrett. Great to have you, Paula. "NEW DAY" is next.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to our viewers here in the United States and around the world.