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CDC Cuts Recommended Isolation and Quarantine Time in Half; Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) Says, Biden Should Use Executive Action on Build Back Better Plan; Hundreds More Flights Already Canceled Today. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired December 28, 2021 - 07:00   ET



CAROLYN MANNO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Talk about baptism by fire, big moment but he wasn't ready.

Jaylen Waddle, on the other hand, had a pretty big night, 92 yards receiving in a touchdown on this misdirection play right here. So, the Dolphins pick up the win. In fact, they have now won seven straight after losing seven straight. No team in NFL history has had streaks like that in the same season.

And, John, just one other note for you, with the CDC shortening of isolation guidelines, the NBA is now allowing vaccinated players and coaches to shorten their time in quarantine as well from ten days down to six if they are tested and no longer deemed infectious.

JOHN AVLON, CNN NEW DAY: All right. Thank you so much, Carolyn.

New Day continues right now.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. It is Tuesday, December 28th. I'm John Avlon with Kaitlan Collins.


AVLON: Good morning.

And we begin with the CDC cutting the recommended isolation period for many infected Americans in half. The agency now reducing the number of days from ten to five if you are asymptomatic. The CDC is also now recommending the same amount of time for vaccinated people to quarantine if they are exposed to the virus with no quarantine at all if you are boost.

Dr. Anthony Fauci says the new changes are part of an effort to get people back to work faster amid major concerns about staffing shortages at hospitals, airlines and businesses across because of the omicron surge.

COLLINS: President Biden is now grappling with the failure that could have been foreseen as the omicron wave has exposed shortages in the U.S. and access to testing. Many frustrated Americans are now waiting in long lines for tests if they can get them at all. Speaking to governors on Monday, the president conceded that steps he took to scale up testing capacity weren't enough to meet the demand.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: 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 is not enough. It is clearly not enough. If I had -- we had known, we would have gone harder, quicker if we could have.

We have to do more. We have to do better. And we will.


COLLINS: The president has pledged to distribute 500 million test kits beginning in January, but some health experts say that will be too late for this week's holiday crunch.

Let's get to CNN's Leyla Santiago, who is live outside a Miami testing site, where, Leyla, we know some people were waiting for more than two hours yesterday.

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kaitlan. When we arrived this morning, there were still those very, very long lines wrapped around this park, one of the busiest testing sites in South Florida. We talked to one woman who told us that she arrived at 3:00 in the morning, she waited three hours to get that test.

The health group that runs this testing site told us they were expecting an increase in demand because of omicron, because of the holiday season, but what they are seeing right now is unprecedented. So much so that they are actually opening four to five new sites in Miami-Dade County to try to meet that demand.

We've been talking to people in these lines, listen to what they told us.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is way more chaotic now. Everybody is freaking out. But that is like the same thing that happened right before the first shutdown, you know, like everybody is like going everywhere about it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is a spot right by my House where I would go. It would take less than five minutes. I would just walk there and that is it. And now the line extends until like the next street, it is crazy.


SANTIAGO: So, that is kind of a compare and contrast of how things have changed in a matter of weeks, in a matter of days, really.

I should point out that this site is not just a testing site. They also have vaccination here. And we are clearly seeing much more activity when it comes to testing over vaccination. And these are on- site tests. When it comes to those take-home tests, Miami-Dade County distributed more than 150,000 in their public libraries over a two-day period. They have now run out and have requested more from the Department of Health.

COLLINS: Yes, people are desperate to get their hands on those take- home tests. Leyla Santiago, thank you so much.

AVLON: Now, let's bring in the chief of infectious diseases at John Hopkins All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida, Dr. Allison Messina. Dr. Messina, good to see you, thanks for joining us.

So, first of, what do you think of the new CDC guidance for folks with asymptomatic infections and for folks who are fully vaccinated and exposed to COVID, because there's some differential there but a major change?

DR. ALLISON MESSINA, CHIEF OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES, JOHNS HOPKINS ALL CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL: Yes, definitely. I think that probably a lot of people were surprised about that. I do think that though the CDC is very carefully looking at the science behind this pandemic in that that the truth is we're dealing with a different virus than we were before.


And we're looking at evidence that the incubation period of this may be shorter and adjusting those recommendations accordingly.

The other issue too is, of course, as was mentioned in the previous segment, this is a very contagious virus, and if we are going to be faced with some fairly significant staffing shortages if we don't respond to that. So, I think for those reasons, that was the reason the CDC changed those guidelines.

COLLINS: Yes, we know Dr. Fauci has said that was really a driving factor in this process and why the CDC made these changes. But we are seeing cases rise, of course, exponentially across the United States and some health experts have said that's going to continue for weeks, maybe peaking in mid-January, maybe not even until mid-February. And so I'm wondering what you are seeing at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital.

MESSINA: So, we are seeing a definite increase in cases over the last few weeks. I would say we have not seen the worst of it yet, however. Remember that at a children's hospital, we're obviously dealing with that population, and the fact of the matter is children aren't in school right now because it is still the holiday break. I think that what we're going to see is once children go back to school within a week or two of schools opening is when we're going to see our highest numbers, and we're bracing for that.

AVLON: So, that is significant. I mean, I've got two young kids and it's one of the questions parents talk about all the time. What about going back to school? You're saying that when kids go back to school, you expect a further increase in childhood cases and hospitalizations, which are already above what we've seen previously, is that right? MESSINA: Yes. I mean even if you look at respiratory infections every winter, even pre-COVID, we always saw a lot of activity within the week or two of schools starting up again after the break. So, we expect to see that again.

As far as how high or what we're going to see in terms of kids needing to be hospitalized versus kids that are well enough to go home, that remains to be seen. We hope that even if we do see those big numbers that the majority of patients will be well enough to go home. But we know that when it is this widespread, we know that it's going to increase our hospitalizations and we're getting ready for that.

COLLINS: Yes. And we've seen that in some other places where those children who are being hospitalized, it is continuing to rise. The good news is some health experts have said that they have not been really severe cases.

According to the CDC and the Department of Health and Human Services, last week, there was an average of 262 kids hospitalized per day, that's a 35 percent increase since the week before that, but it's still below those numbers from late August and early September. And so, of course, children under five are the last group ineligible for vaccines in the U.S. And so what is your advice for parents who are watching this and want to know the best way to protect their kids right now?

MESSINA: Yes. I would say that, you know, certainly, if your child is age five and up, it is vaccination, vaccination, vaccination. We can do better in these age groups. Not a ton of kids who are eligible for the vaccine have had it. So, that is huge. For the kids that are under five, you really only have masking, distancing and trying to keep those children protected by vaccinating everyone else in the family that is old enough to be vaccinated. And those things are really the same measures as we have been, you know, describing even earlier in the pandemic. Those pieces of advice still apply.

AVLON: Vaccinated, vaccinated, vaccinated, that is still the best advice.

But give us a little more granularity about what you're seeing on the ground at your hospital, do the kids you're seeing in the hospital with COVID tend to be vaccinated or unvaccinated? Are they older or younger? Where are those dividing lines?

MESSINA: Yes, that is a good question. When we talk about in particular the children with the most severe disease, by and large, they are older and unvaccinated. So, I think that we can make a real difference if we get those children who are eligible their vaccines.

Right now, even the oldest children, the 16 and 17-year-olds, can even be boosted now if it has been six months since their second dose of their Pfizer vaccine. In that age group, they are all getting Pfizer at the moment. So, that is an option too. If you have a high school kid who is about to go back to school and they are eligible to be boosted, please think about that, as well. COLLINS: And one, of course, of the big shortages that we've been talking about is that people cannot get their hands really on these at-home rapid tests. They are certainly not easily and they are not as accessible as a lot of medical experts hoped they would be. But they are also not inexpensive.

And so I wonder what you have heard from parents about that, if they want to be able to have these at-home rapid tests for their kids, be able to test them, have you heard them talk about how expensive it is given the cost can really add up if you are buying a lot of these tests?


MESSINA: Yes, certainly, that is a barrier. There are two things right now. I mean, right now there is a shortage of them, they are harder to find even if you do want to pay the money to get them. But, yes, they are expensive. I think that there is some push to get these tests free at local libraries or health departments. But I think the supply right now is limited. So, that is a challenge.

You know, the other thing too is that, you know, you may not have to just do it once. You may have to do it multiple times. And I think a lot of people are doing that for gatherings, you know, for their holiday gatherings, testing everybody, but we need a steady supply of them because it is not just -- you don't use them once. You may have to use them again and again.

So, I think that that is going to be a significant challenge. And if we can overcome that supply challenge. and also the cost challenge and also the cost challenge, I think that will help us tremendously.

COLLINS: Yes. I think that it has been a big question especially since you've seen other countries make them either free or basically free, a dollar a test, that kind of nature. Dr. Allison Messina, thank you so much for what you are doing and for joining us this morning to just catch our audience up on what is going on.

MESSINA: You're welcome.

COLLINS: Meanwhile, the skies not so friendly or really even close these days.

I can't even imagine being on that plane. And we will update you on the federal charges that woman is now facing for spitting and hitting an elderly unmasked man.

And a top progressive is urging President Biden to focus on Build Back Better, saying that he should use executive action, if he has to, to pass his plan. The deputy whip of the Congressional Progressive Caucus is joining us next.

AVLON: And ahead, LAPD released body cam video of a police shooting that killed a 14-year-old bystander while she was in a store's dressing room with her mother. What we're now learning about how the chaos unfolded in this tragedy.



COLLINS: In a new op-ed, the chair of the House Progressive Caucus, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, is asking President Biden to use executive action to deliver on the priorities laid out in the Build Back Better bill, which seemingly is without the support of Joe Manchin, dead. Jayapal writes, we are calling on the president to use executive action immediately. Taking executive action will also make clear to those who hinder Build Back Better that the White House and Democrats will deliver for Americans.

Joining us now is Congressman Adriano Espaillat of New York, the deputy whip of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

And so, Congressman, in your view, do you think that executive action is a viable path forward for the priorities that were included in that plan?

REP. ADRIANO ESPAILLAT (D-NY): Eventually, we may have to get there. But right now, I still see a window of opportunity perhaps by bringing the bill to the Senate. And Manchin has been back and forth on the Build Back Better Act. At one point, he gave our president is counteroffer. He has been at odds with his public and private statements. So, I think there is still time to continue to push, to see if there is a way to get to a consensus here.

COLLINS: So, this seems maybe like a last resort if they did have President Biden take executive action. But I do have some questions on what the details of that would look like because Jayapal had said that she would release a plan explaining what actions could be taken. And so do you know any details of what exactly that would look like?

ESPAILLAT: We'll wait for our chair's report to come out. But, certainly, presidents have in the past resorted to executive action when the law permits it and when Congress has been unresponsive to their request to have some proposal adopted there. So, certainly, this is one juncture in history as we still fight the pandemic, as the pandemic continues to sweep the country, where we have to look at all possible options. And that is certainly one of them.

COLLINS: Do you know when they plan to release that plan?

ESPAILLAT: We have no idea yet but we'll be working on it. And the progressive caucus has been an entity that continues to push for Build Back Better program as big as we can make it happen. And there is a bunch of proposals there, provisions in the Build Back Better Act that I think are good for the American people, for families, for children, to have to access child care for seniors and have to get eye care and hearing care, and for people to be able to negotiate the costs of their prescription drugs.

These are all important things to the American people and we should address them either legislatively at the floor of the U.S. Senate or eventually through an executive order.

COLLINS: And Jayapal seems to agree with you, that legislation, she says, is the best path for delivering enduring action. Of course, keyword, enduring there, because there are some concerns about executive action could be easily overturned if a Republican president is in office next.

So, is there still a sense in your caucus that you can revive the Build Back Better bill as it was?

ESPAILLAT: I believe so. I think that West Virginians will be hurt if we don't pass this bill. We'll have to speak to the parents of 94,000 kids that will not have child care available. You know, there are over 25,000 students that will access Pell grants. You also have 105,000 low wage workers that would get a boost in their earned income tax credit. These are all West Virginians that will be dramatically hurt if this bill doesn't pass.


So, eventually, Manchin will have to answer to them as well.

COLLINS: What is the latest that you've heard from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on this?

ESPAILLAT: Well, we speak on a regular basis, and I spoke a couple days ago with her. She has been very responsive. She continues to push the Senate to act. I think it is important that each senator tells the American people with their vote how they feel about this particular important piece of legislation that will help us bring long awaited relief and help us emerge eventually out of this pandemic.

COLLINS: We know Senator Manchin has made it clear he is a no on how this is, as it stands right now. But if there was a scenario where he comes back to the table to talk about doing something, with reconciliation, which is that path, where it is only Democrats voting for this bill, would you see yourself agreeing to narrow down the bill just to a few priorities, as Manchin has suggested, if it would mean getting him on board and getting it passed through a legislative method instead of executive action?

ESPAILLAT: We'll have to see what those details are if and when we get there. It may be a combination of both, building consensus around Senator Manchin and others, and then some executive action for President Biden. But, certainly, we need to ensure that the American people get the help they need as we continue to see omicron sweep the nation. I think it is very important.

For example, in my district, 77,000 families benefit from the child tax credit, over 123,000 children benefit from it. That is so important to lift children out of poverty. So, these are the kinds of provisions within the Build Back Better Act that are critical at this juncture as we try to recover.

COLLINS: And we know that child tax credit expired in December, so there are big questions about what the future of that looks like. Of course, you said, and you think that there could be maybe a legislation path and one for executive action.

Congressman Adriano Espaillat of New York, thank you so much for joining us this morning.

ESPAILLAT: Thank you, Kaitlan. Thank you so much.

COLLINS: An ugly incident in the sky where a fight on an airplane was captured on video. These videos aren't so surprising, but we are seeing more and more of them lately.

AVLON: We sure are.

And what secrets could a newly uncovered confederate statue time capsule hold in Virginia? A fascinating story, next.



COLLINS: If you are on the way to the airport, this is likely not the news you want to hear because another frustrating day could be shaping up at airports across the country. The FlightAware site that tracks airline data shows that nearly 700 flights inside and around the U.S. have already been canceled today. Nearly 3,000 flights were canceled over the last two days. And the airlines are blaming COVID-related sickouts and bad weather for the headaches.

Meantime, Dr. Anthony Fauci says a vaccine mandate for domestic flights is something that's under consideration but not likely to happen anytime soon.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Right now, I don't think that people should expect that we're going to have a requirement in domestic flights for people to be vaccinated. When I was asked that question, I gave an honest answer. It is on the table and we consider it. But that doesn't mean that it's going to happen. I doubt if we'll see something like that in the reasonably foreseeable future.


AVLON: Joining us now to discuss how to deal with this travel nightmare is Senior Aviation Business Reporter for The Points Guy David Slotnick.

David, we need practical guidance. What is the checklist that folks should follow if their flight is canceled?

DAVID SLOTNICK, SENIOR AVIATION BUSINESS REPORTER, THE POINTS GUY: Good morning, thanks for having me. So, really, the trick here is to just stay on top of the problem. If you are flying, best thing you can do is check your reservation periodically. Say, you are flying New Year's Eve, I would be checking your reservation once a day at this point. Just log into the smart app or on to the website, make sure your trip is okay.

A lot of these scheduled changes are proactive, so they are being canceled a little bit in advance, so you can have some time to deal with the situation.

AVLON: All right. Well, that leads to the question, how can folks plan ahead? If you find out your flight is canceled and you are about to be stranded for multiple days, what do you do to make sure you can eventually get back home? What is your best advice?

SLOTNICK: Sure. So, the best thing is if you do find out early, it means you have time to contact the airline. A lot of the time you will be rescheduled automatically and sometimes that is great and it works and you are done. New flight works and everything is perfect. But sometimes it is not an ideal schedule. So, in that case, you need to contact the airline.

The best thing to do usually in that case is just try and call -- use a callback feature, message them on social media, and it could take a little while, but at least you are home, you're not stuck at the airport, so you can deal with that on your own time.

AVLON: Well, the very thin comfort that comes from realizing that it could be worse.

Now, if your flight is canceled the same day, it is a little different. You might need to go find a customer support agent at the airport, find someone in uniform and just get help that way.

Well, I will say that the callback feature is a God send. But if folks are stranded at the airport, that seems like the worst of all worlds during this pandemic. Because, usually, look, holiday season, flights get canceled because of bad weather, we got that. But now we've got that and a pandemic. So, just give folks some perspective, how does it all compare with holiday travel delays in the past?

SLOTNICK: Well, so far, it is a little bit really on par with some blizzards that we've had. It is actually not even the worst holiday travel season that we've seen. If you remember back to 2013, there were a series of blizzards that just absolutely knocked travel out. You mentioned before that we're at about 3,000 canceled flights right now. In 2013, it was actually 10,000. So, the situation has definitely been worse. Right now, this compares with fairly moderate to major blizzard.


But let me ask you this, if folks find out their flight has been canceled and they are stuck at the airport during a pandemic, what should they do?