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New Day

Federal Government Shuts Down in D.C. as Snowstorm Hits East; Biden and Harris to Deliver Speeches on January 6th Anniversary; New York City Mayor's First 48 Hours, Witnessing Assault to Defying Union. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired January 03, 2022 - 07:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY: New Day continues right now.

All right, welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world, including Australia. I'm John Berman with Brianna Keilar. It is Monday, January 3rd. Happy New Year.

We do begin with breaking news. More than 25 million people are under winter storm warnings and advisories this morning. Parts of the eastern U.S. could see significant snowfall, Chad Myers says over a foot. This is the first major winter storm of the season. Snow emergency is in effect for Washington, D.C. The federal government will remain closed today. And Washington, D.C. public schools are closed until Thursday because of the storm but also because of coronavirus.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN NEW DAY: With case numbers skyrocketing, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona says there will be bumps in the roads as schools are attempting to reopen. More than 30 colleges and universities have already announced changes to the start of the semester, and 45 states have had a 50 percent rise in cases over the past week. 28 states have seen rising hospitalizations, a number that trails the cases.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration considering, once again, changing the guidance for those who test positive for coronavirus. The new guidance in effect for only days at this point advises people can return to work and school five days after testing positive if they're asymptomatic with no requirement for a negative test. Dr. Anthony Fauci though says the agency could soon issue an update, so we will be watching that to see if there is more on that here in a moment.

I do want to begin though with CNN Meteorologist Chad Myers who is in the Weather Center. Just give us a sense how widespread this is, what we're looking at this morning.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: What we're looking at right now, some spots already have two to five inches on the ground and the winds blowing 40 miles per hour, especially through the Carolina Mountains, through the Blue Ridge up there. And this is going to be traveling across toward D.C., into Annapolis, Wilmington and then maybe toward Wildwood, New Jersey. That's where the biggest bands of snow will be, where the worst driving will be.

But we had rain overnight in many areas, change over to sleet, and now it is colder, changing over to snow and the roads are a mess. They truly are. I haven't seen roadways like this in a while, especially I guess this year, for sure, not since the last year when we first had our big snowstorm there. And the snow is all the way up even into New Jersey, not quite to New York City but the southern suburbs will get some snow, a dusting. It's cold enough, for sure.

That's where the area will be I think the lightest snow and will start about New York City and then it will down to about Rockville. And then that's where the heaviest snow will be, east toward Annapolis and then east from there.

This is noon. It's still snowing in many spots. But by 5:00 or 6:00, for the evening rush, if there is one, if you're going to work at all today, it will be gone. Things will finally move away and into the Atlantic Ocean. So, by tonight, this is just a bad memory.

But there will be snow to shovel, no doubt about it. Some of the purple areas will see 8 to 12 inches of snow. East of D.C., the Delmarva Peninsula, that's where the heavy snow will be. The Atlantic Ocean is there. And the storm is going to be spinning around, picking up some of that Atlantic moisture and putting it down in the form of snow. Cold out west, for sure. That's what we're looking at today. Brianna?

KEILAR: All right. Certainly a last-minute run for salt in my house last night, which will be much needed here in Washington. Chad, thank you.

U.S. Airlines canceling more than 2,700 flights yesterday and more than 1,700 already today. And this marks the eighth day in a row of at least 1,000 cancelations during a holiday travel season hit hard both by the pandemic and bad weather.

Joining us now is Senior Aviation Business Reporter for the travel blog, The Points Guy, David Slotnick, with us. Okay, David, first off, just what is causing all of this?

DAVID SLOTNICK, SENIOR AVIATION BUSINESS REPORTER, THE POINTS GUY: Well, it's twofold. Like you say, it's been the spread of the omicron variant. So, we've had a lot of pilots and flight attendants who have been calling out sick. And then once they test positive, obviously, they have to isolate for at least five days. And then we've just had these winter storms around the country. Today is the first real big one in the northeast, on the eastern seaboard. But we have had storms in Seattle, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Salt Lake City, I mean, cities where airlines have major hubs. And that just snarls the entire network.

KEILAR: I mean, we have been hearing these horror travel stories, people stranded for days and days. What do you do if you're stranded?

SLOTNICK: Honestly, the best thing to do is just try and change your flight yourself. In a lot of cases, you can do that. Just log into the app, look up your reservation, go on to the airline's website if that's easier. And you might be able to change your flight yourself. But it's a tough situation right now. When it's weather especially, it's hard, because that could happen last minute. With the COVID cancelations, at the very least, a lot of those are happening usually about a day in advance, sometimes sooner but usually with enough time that you can try and figure things out before you're heading to the airport.


KEILAR: Are travelers entitled to compensation?

SLOTNICK: That's a tricky question. And that depends really on what the cause of the cancelation is. In the event that it's weather, no, they're actually not. Same thing if it's an air traffic control delay, which is coming up more and more because the FAA is also having staffing problems because of COVID. If it is because of the airline scheduling, them generally, yes. But each situation is a little bit different. So, it really depends. The best thing to do, honestly, is contact the airline, save your receipts, contact your travel insurance or even the credit card you used to buy the ticket. That might cover some of your expenses

KEILAR: All right, very good advice for many people who will need it. David Slotnick, thank you.

SLOTNICK: Thanks for having me.

BERMAN: All right. Breaking overnight, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has tested positive for COVID and is exhibiting mild symptoms. He's the highest ranking member of the Biden administration to test positive.

I we want to get right to CNN's Barbara Starr live at the Pentagon with the latest. Barbara, what do you know?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, John. We are told the secretary is still experiencing these mild symptoms, mainly upper respiratory symptoms. He started experiencing symptoms over the weekend. He had an initial antigen test yesterday followed by the more in-depth PCR test. It came back positive last night. And the Pentagon very quickly put out a statement. He is expected to remain at home under CDC current guidelines for at least five days, we are told.

Now, as secretary of defense, of course, he has a complete classified communication suite in his home. He can be in touch with whoever he needs to be. He is already saying that he will attend what meetings he can virtually. He will have the full authority of the secretary. He can sign deployment orders. He can approve operations. There should be at this point no interruption in the regular business of the U.S. military.

So, the last time we saw President Biden was back on December 21st. He tested negative at that point. So, there should be no issue of any close contact concern with the president at this point. The last time he was in the Pentagon briefly was on Thursday. So, contact tracing is going on. It's a reminder to everybody, Lloyd Austin has pushed very heavily for the U.S. military to get that vaccination, get the boosters. For the military, it is a readiness issue. They have to get people vaccinated. John?

BERMAN: Indeed. Look, he's offline for a few days here. He can work remotely. But it just goes to show the benefits of the vaccine that he is doing fine and will be back to work hopefully very, very soon in person. Barbara Starr, thank you very much.

STARR: Sure.

BERMAN: All right. In a new development, Michigan's Health Department has reversed its stance on COVID quarantine guidelines. After first saying it would stick to the original ten-day isolation period, it will now follow CDC guidelines, adopting the shorter five-day window.

I want to bring in Brian Peters. He is the CEO of Michigan Health and Hospital Association. Brian, thanks so much for being with us. What do you think of the decision, Michigan getting in line with the rest of the country now, the CDC guidelines, five days of isolation?

BRIAN PETERS, CEO, MICHIGAN HEALTH AND HOSPITAL ASSOCIATION: Well, good morning. We certainly welcome this development. And it's the latest example of our Michigan hospitals and the MHA working very closely with Governor Whitmer and her administration. They have been great partners. This is the latest example where we look at emerging regulatory policy, legal policy and really try to get on the same page and be consistent with the federal guidelines really with a very diverse membership here in rural Michigan, urban Michigan. We work with all of our hospitals and health systems throughout the state to make sure we are doing everything we possibly can to protect the welfare not only of our frontline hospital employees but all of our patients and visitors as well. And we think we can accomplish that through this new guidance.

BERMAN: Yes. In addition to being in line with federal guidelines, you would like people to be on the same page, why do you think, in and of itself, five days is the right decision?

PETERS: Well, we certainly know that from the very beginning of the pandemic, our hospital employees in particular have been following very, very strict protocols in terms of masking and personal protective equipment, testing, to make sure that we have the safest possible environment for our workforce and our patients and visitors. And so we know that that will continue with this new policy in place.

But the reality is we have a very significant workforce sustainability crisis in Michigan, as we see in many hospitals throughout the country. And we need to have those who are ready, willing and able to work on the job to take care of all of us, whether it's to treat COVID patients or those with very legitimate health care needs that are non- COVID related.


And that really is a front and center challenge for us at this moment. BERMAN: What is the situation in Michigan hospitals right now? How much more capacity do you have?

PETERS: Well, to give you a sense, we have approximately 875 fewer staffed in-patient hospital beds in Michigan today than we had just a year ago. And nothing happened to those physical beds, of course. The reality is we have lost so many of our hospital employees, both clinical and nonclinical employees.

But the COVID-19 pandemic has had an awful lot to do with that. And, again, it's created vacancy rates that are at record highs in many of our member hospitals throughout the state of Michigan. We need everyone that possibly can to be on the job to provide that very critical care.

BERMAN: And people have just left the field over the last two years. And you can understand why with all the stress, and in some cases, all the threats they're facing.

We just put a chart up on Michigan hospitalizations, which actually began to dip last week. You had a big delta surge but then hospitalizations began to go down. What are you expecting in the next few weeks?

PETERS: Well, we are still hovering very close to our all-time record high. And you're right, we did see perhaps a peak of the delta surge. But now we're on the very cusp of an omicron surge that may not peak until later this month. And, in fact, we are still dealing with a rise in flu cases. In fact, we have more flu cases in our hospitals here in Michigan right now than we had at any point during last year's flu season. So, that's a real point of concern as well, as well as all of this pent-up demand for care that was delayed during the earlier stages of the pandemic. So, it is a very, very delicate situation we have right now.

BERMAN: Well, Brian Peters, we wish you the best of luck. Thank you so much for being with us this morning.

PETERS: Thank you. Stay safe.

BERMAN: So, one in three Americans thinks that violence against the government can be justified. Michael Smerconish joins us on this.

Plus, why New York City's new mayor had to call 911 in his first hours on the job, an eventful 48 hours in office.

KEILAR: Plus, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez clapping back at opponents, calling them creepy weirdos.



KEILAR: President Biden and Vice President Harris are set to deliver remarks this Thursday on the one-year anniversary of the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also plans a moment of silence on the House floor and a prayer vigil on the steps of the Capitol.

Let's talk about all of this now with Michael Smerconish, our CNN Political Commentator and Host of CNN's Smerconish. And, look, we have disturbing new polls that we really want to discuss with you and get your perspective on, but, first, I'm just wondering what you were looking for on Thursday when you have these speeches from the president and vice president but also speech or comments, remarks from former President Trump at Mar-a-Lago on Thursday.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So, I -- Brianna, first of all, Happy New Year.

KEILAR: Happy New Year.

SMERCONISH: And I'm sad to have to say it looks to me like the first week of the New Year will have us resorting to our respective silos, that you will see a split screen on CNN come Thursday where half the country is going to be in mourning, in reflecting on those momentous events of January 6th, and other folks will be elsewhere and listening to the former commander-in-chief as he tries to offer some level of justification as to what occurred one year ago on Thursday.

BERMAN: Yes, celebrating what happened. And, yes, Michael, happy freaking New Year to you as well with all this.

On that note, I want to talk about these polls, which I know caught your attention. And this was a poll that came from The Washington Post and University of Maryland and asked, is it ever justified for citizens to take violent action against the government? 34 percent, 34 percent said yes. That's the number that I think grabbed a lot of people's attention. A third of the country thinks it's okay to take violent action. But you dig deeper and think what, Michael?

SMERCONISH: Well, I was alarmed by the figure. And looking at the data, you see that in the mid-90s, I think it was 13 percent. So, something has changed in the last couple of decades. I was alarmed to see that roughly a third of Americans would think violence justified against the government, until I realized I'm probably one of them.

In other words, what's really interesting about this data is that, initially, you might assume that that's a third of Americans who reflect on the events of January 6th and see some justification for storming the Capitol. But when you delve into the numbers, you see that it's 40 percent of Republicans. It's 41 percent of independents. It's only 23 percent of Democrats.

And there was a follow-up question which was open-ended. And it asked people, okay, in what circumstances would violence against the government be justified? And what you find, John, is that people are coming from opposite ends of the political spectrum. And so then some people are saying, well, it would be justified if we were oppressed. If it would be justified if there were a commander-in-chief who were in office by a virtue of election result that he wouldn't recognize and the military supported him.

So, I start to say to myself, if an election were stolen and a commander-in-chief refused to leave office and was supported by the military, might I be someone who would take up arms against that kind of an outcome? If the rule of law were failing, it's conceivable that I might.


KEILAR: I also wonder, though, Michael, because a lot of people, they may actually think that it's true even when it's not. I mean, I would hope that as you evaluated a situation like that, you would be doing it based on facts. But you hear the perception of so many people, maybe on both sides of the spectrum, depending on who is commander-in- chief, and they do feel like those conditions are basically all met. So, what does that mean?

SMERCONISH: It's frightening, Brianna, because when you get into the cross tabs of the data and you look, for example, at what percentage of Americans think that former President Trump bears a I great deal of responsibility for the events of January 6th, the number overall is 60 percent. But when you then look at Republicans or Trump supporters versus others, it's significantly different. It's roughly two-thirds who say, no, he really doesn't bear much of a responsibility.

So, we're really hunkered down. It's two pictures of America who have opposite interpretations of what transpired a year ago and how those events should be regarded today. And that's why I say you can't just paint with a broad brush of who are the one-third who think in some circumstances violence could be justified.

BERMAN: I do get what you're saying, Michael, but one of the issues is that perception is not reality always in this case. In this poll, for instance, what, 71 percent of Republicans say the election was not legitimate, that Joe Biden was not legitimately elected, 71 percent. So, that's the perception. It's just not reality. It's just not reality. And if these 71 percent who think it's -- you know, that he wasn't legitimately elected, if a portion of them starts to think, well, then violence is okay, then you see the problem.

SMERCONISH: No doubt about it. And so those would be folks who would be without justification on the facts supporting something where they think violence could be justified against the government. Well, if they got their way, John, you'd have a whole other part of the country. I mean, this is some scary stuff, but you would have a whole other part of the country saying, wait a minute, that's not factually based. We need to follow the rule of law. Elections have consequences. That individual that they're supporting cannot maintain the office.

We need to take up arms. That's what I'm saying. You have a third of Americans coming to the same conclusion but for significantly different reasons.

KEILAR: I also think that when you see the capacity of people to take up arms, most recently on January 6th, you're also seeing a number of elected officials or elevated figures who take advantage of that, Michael. It is not like people have completely stepped back from seeing, oh, there is a propensity for people to take this too far. They are kind of inflaming it. SMERCONISH: And I think, Brianna, it's going to be the litmus test issue for the midterm and probably to the detriment of Republicans who, I think, as the year begins, have been dealt a very strong hand. But now, each and every one is going to be questioned as they try and seek their party's nomination. Do you believe that the election result was legitimate? And the die will be cast about their candidacy right out of the gate in terms of how they answer that question.

I think many Republicans in red states feel obligated tethered to the former president because they don't want to be at odds with them. And so an election that frankly if I were advising Republicans should be all about inflation, should be all about the border, should be all about COVID, et cetera, et cetera, is still in a lingering sense going to be about how you reflect on the election of 2020.

BERMAN: So, Michael, I'm going to leave on a more positive note because you have disturbed me substantially on this first Monday morning of the New Year. I want to ask you about the Eagles, the Philadelphia Eagles, their playoff chances and the fact that not only do they have football teams playing against them but they have stadiums falling down literally all around them during their games. Your take?

SMERCONISH: I thought that that moment -- I don't know if you're showing the B roll. But I thought that that moment was the most exciting moment of the game and the aftermath. And the way that the fans then rallied around Jalen Hurts and everybody took selfies was just a classic Philly moment.

By the way, if you want to talk about real disruption, I cannot imagine your car ride. I give you such credit. But the idea that you were going to fly to Florida and now the Berman clan is all in the car, it like harkens back to something in the 70s when we were parents' station wagon. I'm just glad you survived.

BERMAN: It smelled like the '70s. And by that, I mean as if like the door hadn't been opened since the 70s by the time we were done. It's a long time in the car. I love my children still, mostly.

KEILAR: That says something.

BERMAN: Yes. Thank you, Michael. I appreciate that. Great to see you, and Happy New Year.

SMERCONISH: Great, guys. Happy New Year.

BERMAN: All right. Just ahead, the dramatic moment when New York City's brand-new mayor witnessed a crime in progress.


KEILAR: Plus, a fan spots something concerning about the appearance of an NHL staffer during a game, and she may have saved his life. They're both going to join us live.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KEILAR: New York City Mayor Eric Adams attempting to back up his words with action by getting stuff done. He has already witnessed and reported an assault. He mapped out a snow response plan. He defied the city's teachers union by keeping classrooms open, and it's only his third day on the job.

CNN's Athena Jones live in New York with more. A lot has happened here just in the last three days, Athena.

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning, Brianna. A very busy first three days. Mayor Eric Adams paid homage in a tweet overnight to the city's first black mayor, David Dinkins, pledging, as he did, never to lead by dividing.


This as he tries to hit the ground running with the focus on battling COVID, jumpstarting New York City's economic recovery from the pandemic --