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CDC Updates Isolation Period Guidance, Testing Still Optional; Manchin "Can't Imagine" Filibuster Carveout For Voting Rights; Hong Kong's Stringent Airport Protocols Are Traumatizing. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired January 05, 2022 - 05:30   ET



LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Law enforcement is stepping up security in Washington, D.C. ahead of the one-year anniversary of the January sixth insurrection. DHS says there is no credible threat. Attorney General Merrick Garland will speak today about the Capitol riot investigation. So far, more than 725 defendants have been charged.

ROMANS: New York Gov. Kathy Hochul will propose a two-term limit for statewide elected leaders. She delivers her state of the state address today as she prepares to run for a full term in November. Former governor Andrew Cuomo was in his third term when he resigned in August.

JARRETT: Blackberrys now a part of history. The company has stopped running support for its older devices. All non-android Blackberrys, now paperweights. At its peak in 2012, Blackberry had more than 80 million users. I still miss mine.

ROMANS: I know, the crackberry.

Powerball fever spreading. Tonight's jackpot has spread to 600 -- grown, rather, to $610 million. It's the seventh-largest jackpot in its history. The last winner was October fourth in California.

JARRETT: All right, the CDC has once again changed its guidance for people with COVID after it took some heat for not recommending a test before you end your isolation period. But it's more of a cosmetic adjustment than a change to the substance of last week's guidance.

The federal agency now says, essentially, if you want to get tested after five days, go right ahead. But if you can't find one -- well, that's fine, too.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins is at the White House with more on this.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Good morning, Laura and Christine.

The CDC has now updated its guidance when it comes to what you should do after you've tested positive for coronavirus, but it may not do much to clear up the confusion that was generation last week when they cut that isolation period in half, from 10 days to five days. Because right now, the CDC is still saying that you can leave isolation after five days without taking a rapid test and having a negative result as long as you continue to wear a mask in public.

They do add some qualifiers to that now, saying that you should avoid travel, getting on airplanes. You should avoid restaurants where you obviously cannot wear a mask. And you should avoid gyms where you can't wear a mask either.

So, they are adding some caveats to that guidance but they still aren't recommending a rapid test. However, they say that if you do take a rapid test on day five and the result is positive, you should stay in isolation for five more days -- kind of making the guidance to where if you don't take a test and you don't get a positive result or a negative result, obviously, you could leave isolation and wear a mask. But if you do take a test you -- and you have a positive result, you need to stay in that isolation period.

Of course, this comes under criticism from health experts outside the administration who said they did believe it should require a rapid test to test negative to leave that isolation period. That's a model that you see similar in places like the United Kingdom and other countries; not one that you are seeing from the CDC, so far, as they faced a lot of criticism over some of the confusion that they've caused.

Of course, this comes as we are still facing a nationwide shortage of rapid tests; something that President Biden noted during a briefing with his COVID team on Tuesday. It's something that has also frustrated him.


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

It's time for three questions in three minutes. Let's bring in Dr. Ali Raja, executive vice-chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. He's also a professor at Harvard Medical School. Nice to see you again. Thank you so much for being here bright and early for us this morning.

So, the CDC, as you see, is trying to clear up the guidance from last week. Test if you can it seems. But we know that a third of people are still contagious after five days. So, what do you make of this update?

DR. ALI RAJA, EXECUTIVE VICE-CHAIR, DEPARTMENT OF EMERGENCY MEDICINE, MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL HOSPITAL, PROFESSOR, HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL (via Skype): Yes, Christine, I've got to tell you it's not all that different from last week's guidance, right? It's still five days with day zero being the day that you first start having symptoms. And so, one, two, three, four, five after that.

What they're saying is that if you're fever-free at five days and your symptoms have improved, you can come out. Now, importantly, loss of taste and smell don't count because those can last for weeks. So we're not talking about those. And you need a well-fitting mask for the next five days.

But what you and I, and Laura have been talking about for the past couple of weeks is that if you've got a test, you should take it in my personal opinion, and the CDC now supports that. If you've got a test, you can take it. But what's tricky about this is if you do have a test and it turns positive, the CDC is now asking you stay in isolation for another five days.

So, starting today, what I'm going to recommend to my patients is what I've been doing, which is buy tests if you can find them. If you have them, stock up because it's really going to make a difference whether you test positive or not --


RAJA: -- at day five.

JARRETT: What's so troubling though is what seems to be motivating this is one, you can't find enough tests, so they're sort of making it optional. And two, the CDC director suggesting that some of the rapid tests are maybe not so great in terms of actually picking up results in a reliable way, and so they didn't want to mandate it. Both of those two things scare me but I guess that's where we are right now.


I want to talk about some good news, though. Data on COVID and pregnancy suggesting women who were vaccinated while they were pregnant were at no greater risk of delivering preterm. And also, women who did end up getting COVID while pregnant -- the babies that were born seemed to have no more neurological delays than any other infant. Doctor, that seems like good news on both fronts.

RAJA: It's really great news, Laura.

Now, here's the thing. My sister-in-law is pregnant and I'm going to talk to her about that today because she's going to be really reassured, especially because we know that other viruses, from Zika to rubella can actually lead to neurologic issues with fetuses. We've known that for a while.

But here's the tricky thing about the study. What they found is that it didn't matter whether or not your kid -- whether or not you had COVID, but what mattered is that all babies who were born during this pandemic over the past couple of years were born and had lower gross motor skills --


RAJA: -- and some lower social skills than kids born earlier. And really, what that reemphasizes is that it's been so tough on everybody and the researchers are saying that this might have been due to maternal stress --


RAJA: -- during pregnancy.

So, everybody -- especially if you're pregnant, but everybody really needs to ask for help because this is so tough on all of our mental health.

ROMANS: Yes. So, along those lines, right, we have the Chicago Public Schools -- the kids are home today because the teachers and the -- and the -- and the school district can't agree on how to proceed here.

My own school, today, begins a period of voluntary virtual two weeks. Some kids are at school.


ROMANS: Some teachers are at school, some are at home. Some kids are home, some are at school. I mean, it's just kind of a soup here.

Are kids safer in school, Doctor, or are they safer at home right now with the way Omicron is spreading?

RAJA: Oh, Christine, I've got to tell you. So, our kids are going to school today. I mean, for all we know that might change in an e-mail later today.

But it really depends on how you define what safer is. Now, so far, we know that in-person -- that remote school has been tough for so many reasons and so many kids have been left behind over the past couple of years because it's so hard to shift back and forth and it's hard to be in class remotely when you're in third grade and have to stare --

ROMANS: I know.

RAJA: -- at a screen all day.

But what's really tricky is that we also know that there's a chance that teachers and staff are going to have to be out over the next few weeks simply because of how transmissible Omicron is -- maybe not in school but just as we live our lives.

And so, I think it's really important to get kids in school as possible -- as much as possible, both for their education but also because of the socioeconomic consequences for us as parents in having to take care of them if they're out. But we all need to have a backup plan -- have a contingency plan in case our schools do get shut down.

ROMANS: Yes, I thought it was interesting. The president yesterday was saying look, there's all this money that's made available for ventilation. There's masking in the schools. We have these tools. Let's remember, try to use them and get our kids back --

RAJA: Right.

ROMANS: -- in the classroom.

It's just so -- all of this is so disruptive.

OK, Dr. Ali Raja, Harvard Medical School. Thank you so much.

JARRETT: Thank you, Doctor.

RAJA: Thank you.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): Being open to a rules change that would create a nuclear option, it's very, very difficult. And so, it's a heavy lift.


JARRETT: A heavy lift from West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, essentially delivering another blow to Democrats as he signals opposition to changing Senate rules for advancing voting rights legislation.

CNN's Daniella Diaz joins us live from Capitol Hill this morning. Daniella, good morning.

New York Sen. Chuck Schumer's deadline for a vote on this rules change is less than two weeks away. The clock is ticking. So what's the state of play? Lay it out for us.

DANIELLA DIAZ, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Laura, the state of play is it really all hangs on one senator, Sen. Joe Manchin. We say this again and again with several different pieces of legislation that try to pass through the Senate.

You know, remember, right at the start of congressional recess last year, he actually torpedoed the Build Back Better act -- that bill that would expand the nation's social safety net, because he was concerned about soaring inflation.

Now, Democrats have turned their attention to voting rights legislation. That's their priority ahead of the 2022 midterms. And it is, as you said, Laura, senator -- Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer set that deadline of January 17th, Martin Luther King Day, to try to pass a rules change so that Democrats could pass this legislation using a simple majority or, rather, a filibuster carveout -- that's the other way we call it -- so they only need 51 votes in the Senate to pass voting rights legislation.

But Sen. Joe Manchin and, I should say, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, another moderate of Arizona -- from Arizona -- senator -- they do not support this carveout. They do not want to see the Senate rules change for this piece of legislation.

And it is, as you said -- you know, that sound bite you just played -- a heavy lift is what Sen. Joe Manchin called it. He is concerned that this carveout would ruin Senate rules in the future in case Democrats lose their majority in the future, which seems to be the scenario that Democrats are expecting.

But voters want voting rights legislation and the Democratic Caucus continues to be optimistic that they could pass something.


Take a listen to what Sen. Chris Coons told CNN last night about their optimism that they could continue negotiating with Manchin.


SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): As we come up on the anniversary of January sixth it's important that we realize there are substantive revisions we could make to restore the filibuster to how it was previously practiced here in the Senate that might create a path forward for passing voting rights legislation. This is very much a live issue -- something that's being discussed in the Democratic Caucus.

We are all just returning from two weeks away with our families in our home states. And I would not reach the conclusion yet that what Sen. Manchin said in the hallway today means that conversation has come to an end.


DIAZ: Laura, Sen. Joe Manchin is willing to negotiate on some rules change in the Senate -- not this filibuster carveout. But he has said he's willing to get rid of the cloture vote. Of course, this is a procedural vote that advances legislation in the Senate.

So he is having these negotiations with Democratic senators on what he can accept for changes in the Senate rules, but the bottom line here being he does not support a filibuster carveout. And that is really the only way Democrats can pass this legislation because Republicans don't support it, Laura.

JARRETT: Yes. At the end of the day, it's a lot of procedural soup but what it means is voting rights is not going anywhere right now.

Daniella, thank you.

We'll be right back.



ROMANS: To Hong Kong now. The city has prided itself as one of the safest cities during the COVID pandemic, but at what cost? The mental cost of keeping a zero-COVID Hong Kong is so high. You know, visitors are required there to spend up to 21 days in a hotel quarantine that they have to pay for.

And someone who knows this better than anyone is CNN's Will Ripley. Will, I've watched you over the past couple of years from various locations -- hotels, your own apartment. You have been quarantined so many times. Will, you've spoken to other people about this as well. Tell us more. WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, I have to draw a distinction between my quarantine experience, which I would argue is a pretty privileged quarantine, because I do have the ability to stay in a hotel that has, at least most of the time, a decent-sized room with a window.

ROMANS: Right.

RIPLEY: I've heard about people that are on a budget that are quarantining in rooms that are basically like a closet -- almost like a prison cell.

And then there's the situation that happens when people come into Hong Kong and they test positive for COVID-19, which is happening more and more with the highly contagious Omicron variant. Even though they paid for the hotel that's not where they go. They have a very different and, some might say, traumatic experience.


RIPLEY (voice-over): In zero-COVID Hong Kong, pandemic protocols have paralyzed this once busy travel hub. The arrival process that used to take minutes now drags on for hours. Mandatory testing at the airport, waiting hours for the results. The lucky ones test negative and spend up to 21 days in self-paid hotel quarantine.

Darryl Chan is not one of the lucky ones.

DARRYL CHAN, TESTED POSITIVE FOR OMICRON IN HONG KONG: I've had both of my jabs. I've been boosted. I didn't think -- didn't ever think that I would be -- that I would actually test positive on arrival.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Thirteen hours after landing in Hong Kong, Chan was in an ambulance; his luggage left at the airport. He tested positive for the Omicron variant. Even without symptoms, his minimum hospital stay is nearly a month.

RIPLEY (on camera): Do you worry about your mental health as these days turn into weeks?

CHAN: Yes, absolutely, because I've never been in a situation like this before.

DR. ELISABETH WONG, HONG KONG PSYCHIATRIST: In general, there is increased sense of isolation, anxiety, and in some severe cases, even post-traumatic stress.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Hong Kong psychiatrist Dr. Elisabeth Wong says longer quarantines can be more traumatic.

WONG: And then we have a lot of changes between the seven days and the 14 days, and the 21 days, and that was when people reported more stress, especially with the longer period of quarantine.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Darryl's day begins with a wake-up jingle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Attention, please. It's --

RIPLEY (voice-over): He takes his own vitals. Calls and messages with friends and family help pass the time.

CHAN: Social media has really helped, actually. You know, it definitely makes you feel less alone.

RIPLEY (voice-over): One of his greatest struggles, sharing a room and a bathroom with two strangers.

CHAN: But I think what has definitely impacted me the most, so far, is the feeling of just not having the freedom and regressing into almost feeling like you're back at school, you know, with a controlled wakeup and bedtimes, not being able to control what you can eat.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Hospital meals often consist of mystery meat. The bigger mystery, Chan's release date. He's supposed to start a new job -- a new life in Hong Kong.

RIPLEY (on camera): What's the worst part of this?

CHAN: I think the worst part is not knowing when I'll be able to get out.

RIPLEY (voice-over): For now, all he can do is wait. From his hospital bed, freedom feels like a lifetime away.


RIPLEY: Darryl arrived before Christmas. He's still testing positive. And even after he tests negative twice, it's still a 14-day isolation period after you're released from the hospital.

And, Christine, instead of just in the room with two strangers -- because of Omicron they now have six people in his room. Six strangers, all positive, all there together --


RIPLEY: -- sharing one bathroom.

So, I racked my brain and ask is 21 days by yourself in a hotel room better or worse than that? And I have to say I think I will take being by myself, testing negative in the hotel room, despite the isolation and despite the --


RIPLEY: -- weird adjustment to being released. And all of a sudden, I didn't realize how averse to crowds and crowded places I became after spending almost five months of my own life in quarantine.

But I really am rooting for Darryl.

ROMANS: Me, too.

RIPLEY: He's still testing positive. Still a long way to go before he gets out.

ROMANS: I mean, it's so exciting to have a new job opportunity and be moving across the world for a new job, and then what a snag.

All right, Will.



ROMANS: I appreciate him telling his story so that we can see sort of what's happening.

Thanks. Nice to see you, Will.


JARRETT: Back here in the U.S., I-95 in Virginia has finally reopened at long last after being shut down and logjammed with so many cars at a standstill for more than 24 hours. This fast-moving winter storm left drivers helpless in the frigid cold for miles there.

Sen. Tim Kaine was on his way to Washington when he got stranded for about 26 hours.

Meanwhile, Amtrak passengers were delayed about 30 hours by downed trees on the tracks near Lynchburg.

ROMANS: All right, looking at markets around the world, let's take a look at what's happening in the financial sector.

You can see a mixed performance in Asia, though Hong Kong down -- Shanghai down one percent. And Europe has opened higher here. On Wall Street, stock index futures at this hour -- they are pointing to an indecisive open, I would say.

Look, it was a split-screen for stocks yesterday. The Dow hit a record high because of a rise in industrial and bank stocks, but big tech stocks fell and that dragged the Nasdaq lower.

And we have this news -- really important news about the state of the labor market. Folks, a record 4.5 million Americans quit their jobs in November. That's according to the BLS. The largest quit rate was in hospitality.

And look at what we've seen since May. Millions of people are jumping ship for better-paying jobs, sometimes in different sectors altogether. Those low-wage industries -- people are just saying take this job and shove it.

Also, investors, today, getting a glimpse of December's labor market with an ADP private payroll report.

Also today, the White House will tout a record-breaking holiday shopping season. Supply chain bottlenecks raised concerns but the White House will say the delivery times from the Postal Service, UPS, and FedEx were actually shorter than before the pandemic, Laura.

JARRETT: All right, let's get a little sports now.

Australians are outraged that Novak Djokovic has been granted a medical exemption to play in the Australian Open.

Andy Scholes has this morning's Bleacher Report. Andy, he's been a little bit cagey, I think, about his vaccination status and vaccine. So how did he get this exemption?

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Yes -- well, and that's one of the reasons a lot of people are pretty upset about this, Laura. And, you know, Melbourne -- it was one of the most strict and locked down cities in 2021 due to the pandemic. And there are a lot of people upset that Djokovic is getting a medical exemption from getting vaccinated in order to play in the Australian Open.

Players -- you know, they were told they had to be fully vaccinated in order to participate this year or have a medical exemption granted by an independent panel of experts. And Djokovic has not revealed his vaccination status or what his condition is that led to him applying for the exemption.

And Djokovic being allowed to play has led to outrage in the Australian community. One lawmaker called it a disgrace and described it as a kick in the guts to everyone who has endured months of lockdowns during the pandemic.

One of Melbourne's most famous former Australian Football League stars, Kevin Bartlett, tweeted, Australians "have been taken for fools."

And Australia's chief executive officer, Craig Tiley -- he encouraged Djokovic to explain how he got this exemption.


CRAIG TILEY, CEO, TENNIS AUSTRALIA: And it's ultimately up to him. And yes, I would encourage him to talk to the community about it because it will not only help him but it will help the community. Because we have been through a very tough period in the past two years and we would appreciate some answers to that.


SCHOLES: Yes. The Australian Open begins on January 17th.

All right, to the NBA. And LeBron James just continuing his incredible run against the Kings. Picking it up fourth quarter, Lebron is going to drive to the basket. He this the bucket to go, plus the foul. Then he had some words for the Kings' bench.

LeBron had 31 in the game. He's averaging 34 points in his last nine games.

The Lakers got the win there 122 to 114. All right. Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts, meanwhile, wants answers

after fans in Washington fell out of the stands, nearly landing on him on Sunday. Luckily, no one was seriously injured. But after reflecting on what happened, Hurts sent a letter to the Washington Football Team and NFL to see what follow-up actions are being taken.


JALEN HURTS, PHILADELPHIA EAGLES QUARTERBACK: It kind of didn't hit me until after the fact -- having some time to reflect on it and think about it. So, I just wanted to -- just wanted to see what could be done to make sure it doesn't happen again. That's all I really care about.

That's a very tragic incident and it could have been much, much worse -- much, much worse. But I just don't want it to happen again.


SCHOLES: Yes, and the NFL did release a statement on Tuesday saying "We appreciate Jalen's concerns and have been reviewing the incident with the Washington Football Team."

And while the Washington Football Team reviews what happened with the railing, they did finally announce when they will have a new team name. They're going to unveil the new branding on February second, Groundhog Day. Now, they're probably not going to be called the groundhogs.


And the team president, Jason says they won't be the Wolves or Red Wolves, either. Oddsmakers have the Red Tails and Renegades as two of the favorites.

And you know, guys, they've spent 19 months mulling this decision, so fans pretty excited to see what it will finally be.

ROMANS: I know, but Washington Football Team has really grown on me, you know? I mean, it really --

SCHOLES: It's a mouthful, though, if you have to say that every time. I need a team name.

ROMANS: All right, we'll see what it is.

Thanks. Nice to see you, Andy.

SCHOLES: All right.

ROMANS: All right, thanks for joining us this Wednesday morning. Have a great rest of your day. I'm Christine Romans.

JARRETT: Christine Romans, a true football fan.

ROMANS: You know, that team from Washington. JARRETT: I'm Laura Jarrett. "NEW DAY" is next.