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Education Secretary: Teacher Shortage Now A "Crisis"; Shelling Underway At Nuclear Plant As Inspectors Visit Site; FDA Authorizes Updated COVID Boosters From Pfizer And Moderna. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired September 01, 2022 - 07:30   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: This is the national assessment of educational progress. It's known as the nation's report card and it was released overnight. And it showed the worst drop in math and reading scores in decades for fourth-grade students.

What is that telling you? Is that a repudiation of remote learning during the pandemic?

MIGUEL CARDONA, SECRETARY OF EDUCATION: You know, that is very alarming. It's disturbing but it's not surprising keeping in mind a year and a half ago over half of our schools were not open for full- time learning. The first thing we did when we got in is ensure that our schools are open for in-person learning. We went from 47 percent when the president took office to 100 percent by November.

Look, in-person learning is where we need to focus. We need to double down our efforts. I'm very concerned about those scores. And I know that we have the resources now and we need to maintain the same level of urgency we had two years ago to get our students back in, to making sure that our students get support. And when we're talking about shortages in the teaching ranks our students are going to suffer more if we don't address that right away with the same level of urgency we had to reopen our schools.

KEILAR: The real concern I'm sure that you have and many experts have is that they're looking at this -- these statistics -- is that we're talking about 9-year-olds. And when you see how 9-year-olds are doing --


KEILAR: -- you're getting this indication of how they're going to do later. And this indication is that they're not going to be able to catch up by the time they leave high school.

What is this going to mean for their futures?

CARDONA: Right. Well, you know, for me, I feel -- I was a fourth- grade teacher. I know these students need smaller class sizes. They need tutoring. They need additional support.

And through the American Rescue Plan dollars, states have the money to do that. And we're pushing really hard that they raise the bar around the supports that they need. We've fought for 250,000 tutors and mentors. So I'm feeling that we can reverse this if we do focus on what we know works and we support our educators.

You know, that piece talked a lot about lack of respect for the teaching profession. If we address that and make sure -- it's not just competitive pay, though, Brianna. We need to give our teachers what I call the ABCs of teaching -- agency, better working conditions, and then competitive salaries. I'm confident that we're going to reverse that trend and we're going to go higher.

Let me remind folks, before the pandemic, there were significant gaps in achievement. The scores weren't going up before the pandemic. We need to do a better job raising the bar in education across the board. Our students deserve it now more than ever. Our parents have put up with enough in terms of disruption in schooling.

We know what to do. Let's double down and make sure our students get the support that they need. The funding is there. We have to match it with the urgency that the president has shown and that the first lady discussed yesterday in that meeting.

KEILAR: Yes, such a critical time. We're looking here at, potentially, a generation of remediation to try to turn this around.

Secretary Cardona, we appreciate your time this morning.

CARDONA: Great to be with you. Thank you.

KEILAR: President Biden is set to deliver a prime time speech tonight and we're going to have a preview.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And shelling reported this morning near the city right next to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. The emergency protection system has been activated and a reactor has been shut down. CNN is on the ground.


SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Can we carry on, or do we have to go down again?


KILEY: Down again?




BERMAN: All right, new this morning, the number-five reactor at the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant was shut down and emergency systems activated because of shelling nearby. As of right now, just one of the plant's six reactors is functioning.

New video this morning shows a strike in the city closest to the Zaporizhzhia plant. All this as a team of international nuclear inspectors arrived just moments ago.

CNN's Sam Kiley live in Ukraine this morning. And Sam, I know you were just right near the plant. What can you tell us?

KILEY: Well, the plant has been -- now been receiving visitors from the International Energy Atomic Agency, which is an extraordinary breakthrough following allegations from the Ukrainians that the Russian have been shelling locations there very close to the plant. And now, some kind of shelling has cut off the power supply to one of the reactors there, triggering the emergency diesel generators. That is a very dramatic development and something the IEA inspectors could be expected to look at almost immediately.

But this I all coming at a time when the second-biggest reactor in the country is also under threat.


KILEY (voice-over): Ukraine's second-largest nuclear power station is under Russian missile threat, even as warnings of a nuclear disaster are causing international horror at its largest plant.

KILEY (on camera): There's just been a dramatic air raid siren. Do you know what the threat was then?

POLOVYCH (through translator): Yes. We received information from the military that the air raid alert was for the danger of flying missiles by aircraft.

(Air raid siren)

KILEY (on camera): Can we carry on, or do we have to go down again?

POLOVYCH (through translator): There are planes over Crimea with guided missiles on board. Nobody knows where they will fly.

POLOVYCH: Let's go.

KILEY (on camera): Down again?

So, the directors just said that they've got information that aircraft have been seen in Crimea. They're in this oblast -- this province -- or heading in this direction, so they pose an immediate threat.

This is something that happens several times a day. Very often, they say the sirens are almost back-to-back.


KILEY (voice-over): The director is told that the Russian aircraft crossing the Dnieper have fired missiles. Ukraine's military are tracking them, trying to figure out if his nuclear power station is the target.

POLOVYCH: Welcome.

KILEY (voice-over): This monitor shows the background radiation remains normal. Working in this bunker has become a new normal for the teams running the south Ukraine nuclear power plant. The maintenance of Ukraine's four power plants and 15 nuclear reactors is stressed.

POLOVYCH (through translator): Part of the factory that produced spare parts were bombed by Russian army. That is at the moment, there is nowhere to make some types of spare parts.

KILEY (voice-over): And Russia has stored army trucks in Zaporizhzhia's turbine hall. It's identical to south Ukraine's turbine. Both use highly-explosive nitrogen as a coolant. Fire here could be disastrous. And Russia is accused of shelling the plant, which it denies.

This man worked at Zaporizhzhia under Russian occupation but fled in June.

OLEKSANDR, EX-ZAPORIZHZHIA NUCLEAR POWER PLANT WORKER (through translator): The Russians shoot at the territory of the plant where the storage facility for solid waste is. Where the dry storage facility for nuclear fuel is.

KILEY (voice-over): At least three Russian missiles have been recorded flying over the south Ukraine plant.

Back above ground, the director is amazed by Russia's threats to Ukraine's nuclear industry.

POLOVYCH (through translator): They were so smart they shelled the nuclear power plant. Either the military was not aware of the danger or they did it on purpose.

KILEY (voice-over): But as this plant generates 10 percent of Ukraine's electricity, and Zaporizhzhia up to 20 percent, there's no wonder that both are such tempting targets.


KILEY (on camera): Now, clearly, the focus is around Zaporizhzhia at the moment and that could get even more fraught even as the inspectors there or if they try to maintain a presence there, possibly monitoring systems. Because in the south of the country, the Ukrainians are counterattacking and the fighting could easily spread or intensify around Zaporizhzhia -- John.

BERMAN: Sam Kiley. And again, we just did get confirmation that the international inspectors have arrived at the Zaporizhzhia plant, so we will wait to hear from them -- their report on what they're finding there.

Sam, our thanks to you for all of the reporting that you have done. Newly-released body camera video showing the moment officers in Columbus, Ohio shot and killed a man in his bed in the middle of the night. The details ahead.

KEILAR: And next, we'll be joined by Moderna's chief medical officer, Dr. Paul Burton, as CDC advisers prepare to vote on updated booster shots.



KEILAR: The FDA has authorized the first updated COVID-19 vaccine booster that targets the original coronavirus strain and the highly- contagious Omicron BA-4 and BA-5 subvariants. Both Moderna and Pfizer, and BioNTech have been granted emergency use authorization for this. The CDC will vote later today on whether to recommend the use of the two vaccine boosters.

Joining us now to discuss is the chief medical officer at Moderna, Dr. Paul Burton. Dr. Burton, thank you so much for being with us.

I do want to talk about something in particular because I think it's really important that we confront some concerns people may have about this booster. Because, in particular, this -- there are no human trials needed. They're not required for these boosters that target BA- 4 and 5 before the shots can go into your arm.

Why not, and what is that -- or is that not a reason for concern?

DR. PAUL BURTON, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, MODERNA (via Webex by Cisco): So, good morning.

Look, I actually think it's a big step forward on the part of FDA and regulators to consider approving a vaccine like this based on animal data alone. To really get ahead of this virus we're going to have to move quickly. But I think I can reassure people that we actually are in human testing. We've completed a study of over 500 people with this booster and will have those data soon.

But I think, more importantly, this is a booster vaccine that is really very similar to Spikevax that we used in hundreds of millions of people around the world. It just has the Messenger RNA added to it for BA-4-5. So it's very similar.

I think we can safely and effectively protect people with this booster and we should all feel confident.

KEILAR: So, let's talk about when people should be getting this booster. A lot of people were fully vaccinated and boosted last fall. Some people may or may have not had COVID in the interim.

When should they be getting this booster?

BURTON: Yes. So look, clearly, this is a virus that continues to evolve or mutate and that's why people need boosting because it's now escaping the antibodies that the original vaccine was able to generate for us all.

What I've seen in the FDA documents is that they're recommending a period of about two months between the last booster and probably some weeks -- and I think the CDC and ACIP will talk about this today - some weeks between your last infection and getting boosted.

We know, though, that if you've been boosted previously, if you've been infected previously, and you now get this booster, you should get a very broad, deep production of antibodies. It will really protect people going into the fall and winter.

KEILAR: How much more protection do you have getting this booster versus not getting it?

BURTON: Well, look, we know that antibody levels of about 400 units are really needed for protection. We can get people to levels of 900 units, even into the 2,000 range if they previously had COVID. So, we really think that this is going to be very effective.


As I say, we've had hundreds of millions of people receive this vaccine -- the original Spikevax. It's very safe and very effective. And I think, as well, it gives us the first chance to truly get ahead of this virus and the pandemic, and I think get to once-yearly boosting as well. That will be so important.

KEILAR: When you're talking about this being effective it's about the severity of symptoms, right? Can you detail what the difference would be?

BURTON: Yes. So, we know that these vaccines and certainly, the boosters are very effective for preventing severe disease, hospitalization, and death. I think we also could hope that with this new adapted booster -- so it's now really designed to fight Omicron BA-4 and BA-5 -- we should hopefully be able to get protection against severe infection, but certainly against hospitalization. I think I'm very confident that will continue through the autumn and through the winter.

KEILAR: Moderna is suing Pfizer. Tell us why.

BURTON: Well, look, those proceedings are still ongoing and obviously, as chief medical officer, my focus is on patient care and public health. We feel very confident in the proceedings that we've brought there but I think now the lawyers and the courts will have to review that to really give more details.

KEILAR: Moderna says that Pfizer basically should be paying for using its mRNA technology. Both of the vaccines are based on that.

Will this have any chilling effect on people being able to access either vaccine?

BURTON: No. I absolutely don't think it will at all. We know that there's a big public health issue here. We've all committed to working together with governments and with regulators around the world to do the very best thing for people, for patients, and that's what we'll continue to do. And the legal proceedings will continue on their own as well.

KEILAR: All right. Dr. Burton, thank you so much. I know people have a lot of questions about these boosters as they are coming available here. We appreciate your time this morning.

BURTON: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

KEILAR: Christopher Robin and Winnie the Pooh are reuniting, but there is no hugs, there's no honey here. The new trailer for the upcoming slasher film -- you heard me right -- next.

BERMAN: And this is not the preflight announcement you would expect from a pilot.


PILOT, SOUTHWEST AIRLINES: If this continues while we're on the ground I'm going to have to pull back to the gate. So, you folks, whatever that AirDrop thing is, quit sending naked pictures, and let's get yourself to Cabo.


BERMAN: Quit sending naked pictures? A pilot threatening to turn the plane around after a naked photo was sent to passengers.



KEILAR: And now, for your Morning Pop.

Congratulations to the one-man graduating class of 2022. Davidson College holding a special graduation ceremony just for Steph Curry who left the school 13 years ago to join the NBA. Now that he completed his coursework and received his degree in sociology, they were finally able to retire Curry's number and induct him into the school's Hall of Fame.


ANA DE ARMAS, ACTRESS: Clip from Netflix " Blonde."


BERMAN: So, the star of the new movie Marilyn Monroe movie, Ana de Armas criticizing the movie's NC-17 rating from the Motion Picture Association. The movie titled "Blonde" was given the rating because of, quote, "some sexual content." de Armas told a French fashion magazine that she could name a number of shows or movies that are way more explicit, she says, and have a lot more sexual content.

The film's screens on Netflix beginning on September 23. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

Clip from Dread Central "Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey."


KEILAR: All right, that is a trailer for a new Winnie the Pooh movie that was just released, and it is terrifying, Berman. "Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey" follows a version of the beloved bear -- not so beloved here -- as he goes on a murder spree after being left behind when Christopher Robin goes to college.

The original 1926 version of "Winnie the Pooh" entered the public domain this year. Disney still owns the rights to some characters, like Tigger, who you will not see in the film. That can be extremely terrifying.

BERMAN: No -- look, I think it makes me laugh. It just made -- I think it's clever, right? I mean, clearly, kids shouldn't see it. I wouldn't take your young children to see this Winnie the Pooh movie, but I sort of like the idea of reimagining characters in a different way

KEILAR: I do like that. And I will say this could be worse because I think serial killer Tigger is really the stuff that nightmares are made of.

BERMAN: But Tigger's lawyered up. Tigger's lawyered up --

KEILAR: Totally.

BERMAN: -- and they're not allowed to use the likeness of Tigger yet in any new films.


BERMAN: All right, NEW DAY continues --


BERMAN: -- right now.

KEILAR: A high-stakes showdown in a Florida courtroom begins just hours from now. I'm Brianna Keilar with John Berman. And this is a critical moment in the battle over sensitive documents recovered from Mar-a-Lago. The issue, whether a special master will be appointed to oversee the evidence that was seized from Donald Trump's beach house by the FBI.

Trump is demanding one. The government insists there is no need for one. A judge will hear arguments from both sides at 1:00 pm eastern.

BERMAN: So in the filing a couple of days ago from the Department of Justice, the DOJ argued that the appointment of a special master would impede the government's ongoing criminal investigation.