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New Day

Dr. Angelique Coetzee is Interviewed about Covid; Germany Considers Lockdown; Biden's Political Challenge; David Cay Johnston is Interviewed about his New Trump Book; Woods Speaks about Golf Future. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired November 30, 2021 - 06:30   ET



DR. ANGELIQUE COETZEE, NATIONAL CHAIR, SOUTH AFRICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION: Means that we most probably going forward have less severe cases, less people going to (INAUDIBLE), to the doctor's, and that's (INAUDIBLE) -- no system can afford that. Not South Africa. Not the United States. No one can afford that.

So that's --

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Let me just reiterate, if I can, Doctor, can I just jump in here. Just to reiterate one point here so people hear it clearly. Now, this could change. I understand it's the early stages. But right now, the patients you're seeing with this new variant, you're dealing with very mild to moderate symptoms? You are seeing no or very little severe disease, correct?

COETZEE: Yes. Yes.

BERMAN: Have you treated patients who have been vaccinated and now are coming in with the new variant?

COETZEE: Yes, I have.

BERMAN: And what are you seeing there?

COETZEE: Yes. Same picture. Interesting enough, with the moderate -- the mild -- what we call mild, you know, symptoms, that the patients that have been vaccinated so far have no complication. They are -- you know, it is as if it's -- I don't want to use the word self-limiting, but minimum conservative measurements that they needed, and they feel fine. It seems to me it's about the first two days before they come and see the doctor, then it's about another three, four days, and they're out of it.

And so the nice thing is if you pick it up, if you make the diagnosis and you take the patient out and get them to self-isolate, and the rest of the family to quarantine, you will also spread less.

But, yes, I have seen vaccinated people and not really very sick. That might change going forward. As we say, this is early days. And this is maybe what makes us hopeful. BERMAN: No, I -- I do understand these are early stages, but I also

think it's important that people know what you are seeing. You are seeing people who have been infected who are vaccinated and they're just not very sick, which is exactly what you hope for with the vaccine in general.


BERMAN: We don't know over the next two weeks as these tests come back if maybe, maybe the omicron will find ways to evade the vaccine. But as of now, it does seem to be offering some protection. And that does seem to be key.

So, based on what you're telling me, with mild to moderate cases, with the vaccinated people who have it with very mild cases, what's your assessment of how the world has reacted to the news coming out of South Africa about the omicron variant?

COETZEE: I think it was an overreaction. I do understand that there's a lot of mutation in this virus. I do understand that it might be much more fast spreading than the delta variant. But if you look -- you know, I think what one needs to do, there's two types of -- and people who are medical -- in the medical field will maybe understand better what I'm trying to say here.

So, you get two types. You get the scientists, and we need the scientists. And it's important that we get the input from the scientists. But while the scientists wait and are busy doing their work in the background, unfortunately, the patients doesn't wait. The patients comes in. And you need to -- you need to alert your doctors and say, listen, there's something happening. There's something going on. Look at it. Look -- see what you can do.

So -- so, you know -- and then telling the world there's something out there and then being slammed by getting these -- we call it the knee- jerk reaction of closing borders and everyone and people say, yes, but I'm trying to protect my people. So then I -- the question would be, how do you know it's not in your country yet? How do you know that a lot of those infections that you are currently seeing that is severe, how do you know it's not maybe related to the omicron? How do you know? And how do the doctors know if they're not aware that the patient sitting in front of them with a bit of a scratchy throat and say, oh, you know, don't feel quite well, doctor, a bit of a flu, that's what they would normally call it.

I'm not fell -- but it's not too bad. And then the doctor would just prescribe some painkillers, not testing because they're not thinking that this might be omicron. And I think if -- for South Africa to spread the message out there, and then being slammed, that doesn't make sense. Of course, it's other people's lives as well. You know, it's a huge impact. It's a huge impact on the economy of South Africa. It's a huge impact to the people that want to come and visit family. It's a huge impact from South Africans that want to go and visit family and friends during the festive season. I just think, you know, there's other ways to do this.


BERMAN: And, again, I want to reiterate, as you have many times, it's early and we still have much to learn. But the epidemiology, when we're talking about the history of pandemics or viruses, there has been a tendency for mutations toward the more mild. There have been viruses, and there's scientific reasons for it, why they, when they do mutate, they mutate to becoming more mild. And you say it's possible that if that's what's going to happen with omicron, then it may contribute to herd immunity. How would that work?

COETZEE: Well, I would be happy if that -- if that would be the case, but only time will tell us. And, hopefully, that would, you know -- with this fast spreading of the virus, with people being vaccinated, hopefully this would be something that we can just pray for going forward. And it's not off the cards. It's not to say it's not going to happen. But, again, you know, the 30 plus mutations are very worrisome to our scientists. Actually, they don't really want us to say that this is mild at this stage. But it is what we see.

I -- we cannot go out there and advise doctors and people and say, listen, wait for the symptoms to come. You need to know what the symptoms is while we wait for -- to see what -- how this virus is going to behave.

BERMAN: Fatigue, scratchy throat, look for them. Over the next two weeks, what's the biggest question you want answered?

COETZEE: I would like to see, over the next two weeks, the biggest question would be, is it going to give us more severe disease? What is it going to do to the elderly that's unvaccinated or people with co- morbidities and vaccinated? That would be interesting to see what it's going to do.

And then the second thing that is important, we need the doctor to see how many vaccinated people got severe infections and breakthrough infections. And then the third and last one would be, how many people previously had Covid-19, whether it's beta or delta, and get re- infected? And then again, is it mild or is it moderate -- mild or severe to be -- to be admitted?

From the clinical perspective, for us, that's is important. Does it really matter for me when the patient sitting in front of me whether he's got 30 mutations or not? You know, I still need to treat him whether he's got two mutations, 30 mutations. I still need to make sure that I do what is in the best interest of this patient. So, from a clinician's point of view, we need to understand, what do we give, how do we treat, how do we pick it up, and what is the outcomes?

BERMAN: Such crucial questions. And I know you, along with the rest of the world, the scientific community, and just regular people and potential patients like the rest of us, want to get these answers. And we're going to have to be patient.

In the meantime, Doctor Angelique Coetzee, I really appreciate you telling us what you're seeing now so people understand where we are, and also understand what they should be concerned about. Thank you. COETZEE: Thank you so much. And let's see in two weeks' time how this

conversation will go.

BERMAN: Yes. Well, let's hope.

COETZEE: Thanks.

BERMAN: So, with the omicron variant raising these new questions, and you just heard some terrific questions there from Dr. Coetzee, Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta come together with Dr. Anthony Fauci for an all new CNN global town hall, "Coronavirus Facts and Fears," tomorrow at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

Obviously, this is a political challenge for President Biden. Also an administrative challenge. How do you address this situation and the uncertainty as president?

Plus, every time I look at him, I can't understand why a judge let a January 6th rioter slash "Jesus Christ Superstar" actor go home, despite globally gook claims at a hearing.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: And Barbados declaring Rihanna a national hero, the island's first act as a new republic, and why they finally ditched Queen Elizabeth after 400 years.



KEILAR: At least three cases of the new omicron variant have been detected now in Germany where coronavirus is already exploding with record numbers of new infections every day.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen is live for us in Berlin with the very latest.

Tell us what thing are like there, Fred.


First of all, I have an update actually for you that I just got in from the Netherlands, which, of course, right next door to Germany, and they're now saying that the omicron variant was present in that country a week earlier than they had actually thought. They just put out a release a couple of minutes ago saying that they have a sample from November 19th already showing the omicron variant present there.

And you were just saying, three cases in Germany confirmed. Just a couple of minutes ago, a fourth case was actually confirmed. That is the first time here in Germany that someone was confirmed to have the omicron variant who did not have a history of traveling to southern Africa and who had not recently returned from southern Africa. So, as you can see, that really apparently spreading very quickly.

And all of this, by the way, coming as Germany is already in the worst outbreak since the beginning of the pandemic. Of course, Germany, for a long time, was seen as a role model of dealing with the pandemic. Not so anymore. A lot of that has to do with a lack of vaccinations -- or people getting their vaccinations. ICUs really filling up here. We went to one of them, and here's what we saw.



PLEITGEN (voice over): Another tragic day in this ICU near Germany's capital, Berlin. This 82-year-old woman's husband just died of Covid here. Now, doctors and nurses are fighting for her life. When we ask if she's surprised that she got the virus, she shakes her head. No, she says.

That's because Germany is currently suffering through the worst Covid outbreak since the pandemic began. And most of those who end up in ICUs are unvaccinated or might have waning immunity because they're in need of a booster.

This ICU's head says she fears things will deteriorate even more with the omicron variant already detected in Germany.

We are extremely concerned, she says. We fear December, January, and February, and believe things will become a lot more difficult.

The State Department has warned U.S. citizens against traveling to Germany as the country struggles to contain the latest wave of infections.

PLEITGEN (on camera): Germany has seen massive Covid-19 infection rates for weeks now. And a lot of those patients are now winding up in ICUs like this one, and it's driving Germany's otherwise very robust health care system to the brink.

PLEITGEN (voice over): So bad that the German military has been called up to fly patients out of hard-hit areas. One reason for the disastrous numbers, experts say, despite having scientist Angela Merkel as its leader, Germany has some of the lowest vaccination rate in all of western Europe.

Anti-vax groups are extremely strong here. And a recent study found that infection rates are high in strongholds of Germany's ultra right- wing AFD party, which opposes measures to combat the pandemic. While the government has now made booster shots widely available, medical professionals are calling for more drastic measures.

TOBIAS KURTH, INSTITUTE FOR PUBLIC HEALTH CHARITE BERLIN: I'm afraid we have to go into a lockdown. Hopefully a hard, short lockdown with a clear vision of what to do after.


PLEITGEN: And that certainly is something that could happen very, very quickly. In fact, 15 minutes from now, Brianna, Germany's outgoing chancellor, Angela Merkel, is meeting the incoming chancellor, potential incoming chancellor. And they're going to speak about new measures. So, a lockdown could be something that could be in the cards for this country pretty soon.


KEILAR: Yes, as you mentioned, community spread in Germany unrelated to travel, and the Netherlands had its first case that it had noticed 11 days ago now, it seems.

Fred, thank you so much for that breaking news. Appreciate it.

BERMAN: So, obviously, omicron poses a new administrative and political challenge for President Biden here in the United States. So, how is he positioned to deal with it?

Joining me now is CNN's senior data reporter Harry Enten.

And, Harry, the difference between where Biden is on coronavirus now and January is pretty big.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: It's very big. The coronavirus, his handling of it, was one of the big reasons he won in 2020. And when he entered back in January, look at that, his approval on the coronavirus was 64 percent. Now, just 49 percent. The split between approval and disapproval, look at that, basically the same. There was this huge, well over 30-point gap in January. So I think there might be some issues for Biden having to rally the American people. Many more issues for him now versus back when he started his presidency.

BERMAN: And approval of how government in general is handling the pandemic isn't great either, right?

ENTEN: No, it's not. You know, look, trust for accurate Covid-19 info. Look, Biden, this is a slightly different question from IPSOS. It's down 58 percent back in January when Biden took office, now down to 47 percent. But even in the state government, look at this, from 55 percent to 50 percent. So there's just this more distrust of government in general, and Biden is showing that even more.

BERMAN: And in terms of the people who probably need to trust him or society would benefit from them trusting him, there's a real issue.

ENTEN: There is a huge issue. So, trust Biden, a greater/fair amount for accurate Covid-19 info, look at this, among the vaccinated, it's a majority, 51 percent. But among the unvaccinated, just 18 percent. And, of course, these are the folks that Biden and the federal government and state governments at large are trying to reach the unvaccinated, to get them to take a vaccine. But this is a big reason why they're not taking it, because it's just 18 percent actually trust them for accurate info on the coronavirus.

BERMAN: These are the people getting the severe illness. These are the people fueling the outbreaks. They don't trust the president anyway.


BERMAN: Hard for him to reach them. Big push for boosters right now. May not be easy. ENTEN: No, I don't think it's going to be as easy, you know, as it was

to get people to actually take the first few shots. You know, look back in January, 66 percent said that they would, in fact, either have gotten or likely get a Covid-19 vaccine. But now you look at an October poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation, and just 50 percent of Americans said that they would likely or had gotten the booster. So there's a lot fewer people who are convinced that they need the booster. And I think this is what the campaigns to convince people actually do so will try and get at because there's, simply put, fewer people willing to go along with it.


BERMAN: That's all -- all before omicron though.

ENTEN: That's correct.

BERMAN: So maybe that number would go up.

However, in terms of people's overall attitude about what they want in life out of this pandemic, that's changed a lot too.

ENTEN: Yes. That has changed a lot. You know, if you're telling people, look, this is a new thing, they've got -- you've got to switch up your life, you have to go perhaps go back into your homes, there are a lot fewer people willing to do that.

Now, again, this is before omicron. But, look, back in January, should healthy people without symptoms lead their normal lives? It was just 33 percent. Stay home as much as possible to stop the spread. Look, though, clear majority at 67 percent. Now, in October, those numbers have completely flipped. Lead their normal lives, 59 percent. Stay home as much as possible, just 41 percent. So people are a lot less willing to give up what they like doing.

BERMAN: What about masks?

ENTEN: Yes, what about masks. This is just another way in which people have changed. You know, back in January, always or sometimes wearing a mask in public, it was basically everybody, 92 percent. Some of that, obviously, was sometimes and not always, always. But now down to just 67 percent. And the people who were always wearing a mask, it was a majority back in January. It is now a clear minority of this always sometimes.

BERMAN: All right, Harry, clear challenges for the administration.

ENTEN: Clear challenges. A very different environment politically and just in the way people are leading their lives, January versus now.

BERMAN: Thank you, sir.

ENTEN: Thank you.

BERMAN: Brianna. KEILAR: All right, a new book is pulling back the curtain on just how much former President Trump enriched himself and his family while he was in office, finding that nearly $1.7 billion in revenue flowed through him and his organizations during his four years as commander in chief.

Joining us now, investigative reporter David Cay Johnston, and author of "The Big Cheat: How Donald Trump Fleeced America and Enriched Himself and his Family."

David, thank you so much for being with us. A really fascinating look here as you weave together all of these different data points to paint, I think, the most complete picture that we've seen of this. Tell us how much Donald Trump profited, and how you were able to get to this number.

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, AUTHOR, "THE BIG CHEAT: HOW DONALD TRUMP FLEECED AMERICA AND ENRICHED HIMSELF": Well, Donald Trump had to disclose his finances as president. All top federal officials do. Now, several of them filed very incomplete and misleading forms. Donald, in fact, asked through his lawyers if he could final his financial disclosures without signing under penalty of perjury. And he was told, no, you have to sign under penalty of perjury.

And of this more than $1.6 billion that flowed across the books of the Trump Organization and to Donald, after expenses for those businesses, this is before -- I'm sorry, before expenses of the businesses, a lot of it came from the taxpayers. Donald did everything he could to make sure that the taxpayers were putting money into his businesses, hundreds of millions of dollars.

KEILAR: Yes, it's fascinating. The Secret Service, as you -- as you mentioned, was charged a regular rate during the pandemic at hotels that were largely unoccupied. And, you know, you also talk about it, just before the 2020 election and then on his way out the door with stop the steal fundraising, he rakes in $500 million. He spends less than $9 million on lawyers. The rest of the money he can use how?

JOHNSTON: Oh, he can spend it on himself. And I expect that once he is indicted in Manhattan and perhaps other jurisdictions, a lot of that money will go to criminal defense lawyers.

KEILAR: Really fascinating.

You know, one of the examples that you highlight in his stop the steal profiteering that really stands out, I know that's why you focused on it, has to do with someone named Stacy Blatt (ph) of Kansas City. And this is someone who, as you mentioned, was ripped off by Trump's uncheck the box swindle. So you said while in hospice care, Blatt heard Rush Limbaugh tell his radio audience that the Trump 2020 campaign needed money urgently. Blatt gave $500, half of his monthly income, via WinRed, a commercial enterprise that Trump used to process gifts. Over the next month, Trump's campaign tapped Blatt's bank account six more times, taking the dying man's last $3,000.

I mean, David, just put into perspective how unusual that fundraising practice is and if there's going to be any ramifications for it.

JOHNSTON: Well, essentially, they were stripping people of their assets as fast as they could because they were running out of money in the campaign. It ought to be treated as a criminal matter. I don't expect it to. Just as I show in the book how Trump put our national security at risk with the efforts of his son-in-law to refinance 666 5th Avenue in New York, and we became in the bizarre position of the president of the United States attacking Qatar, where we have our most important military base in the Middle East, and aiding the Saudis, who did end up ultimately helping the Kushner family.


The profiteering that went on here, particularly by Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, is just extraordinary and, in any previous administration, would have been dominant front page news day after day after day. And yet a lot of this was sort of lost in the background, Brianna.

KEILAR: Yes. And you make it clear, look, this was not, obviously, to the benefit of the United States and its position in the world. It was to the benefit of the Trump family for sure.

David Cay Johnston, fascinating read. Thank you so much for being with us.

JOHNSTON: Thank you.

KEILAR: The demonization of Anthony Fauci escalating. This time it's a Fox host comparing him to the Nazi angel of death doctor. We have a "Reality Check" ahead.

BERMAN: Plus, one of history's greatest golfers says he will never play full time again. Tiger Woods breaks his silence after that horrible car accident.


BERMAN: Tiger Woods speaks out for the first time since his car accident about his health and his future in golf in pretty stark terms.

Andy Scholes has this morning's "Bleacher Report."

Hey, Andy.


So, in his first interview since that devastating leg injury suffered back in February, Tiger Woods, he told "Golf Digest" that he hopes to play on the PGA tour again, but he accepts that being on top again isn't realistic.


TIGER WOODS, 15-TIME MAJOR CHAMPION: And I can't participate in the game of golf, but I can still maybe, if my leg gets good enough, maybe kick off a tournament here or there. But as far as climbing the mountain to get all the way to the top, I don't think that's a realistic expectation of me.


But I think something that is realistic is playing the tour one day. Never full time ever again.