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New Day Saturday

Hawaii Volcano Continues To Spew Lava After Wednesday's Eruption; Merck: New Pill Cuts Risk Of COVID Hospitalization, Death By Half; Deadline Passes For NYC Public School Teachers To Get Vaccinated; California To Require COVID-19 Vaccine For Students; Biden On Economic Plans: "We're Going To Get This Done"; Biden Goes To Capitol Hill To Urge Dems To Compromise. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired October 02, 2021 - 08:00   ET



CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Have you seen this video from Hawaii? Oh, my goodness. The Kilauea volcano is erupting still, spewing lava from several active sources. In fact, earlier this week, it was spewing five stories in the air and it formed this lava lake.

Well visitors have been going to watch the eruptions in person. No worries there's no, at least currently, there's no threat to onlookers or nearby residents.

PAUL: All right, 8:00.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, and welcome to your new day. I'm Boris Sanchez. How's it going, Christi?

PAUL: Well, I'm Christi Paul. Hi, Boris. There is a potential game changer in the fight against coronavirus. It could be key in our return to normalcy here as the U.S. reaches, we should point out, another real grim milestone 18 months now under this pandemic.

SANCHEZ: Meantime, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi forced to delay a vote on that infrastructure bill amid clashes within her own party. We'll tell you how President Biden may have given the democrats more time to deliver.

PAUL: Well, learning more too about what happened in the hours leading up to the January 6th insurrection, there are new audio recordings. What they tell us about what officers were dealing with before the Capitol breach.

SANCHEZ: And a fight over funding. Alabama's governor facing criticism from Democrats over her plan to use COVID relief funds to build prisons.

PAUL: Waking up in October. Well, you did yesterday as well, but maybe you just needed a day to sit in, Saturday, October 2nd right now. Thank you for being with us.

SANCHEZ: Yes, it takes time -- a bit of time to adjust to this weather change and how quickly this year is flown by. Look, the United States hit a grim milestone yesterday surpassing 700,000 deaths from COVID- 19. That's more than any other country in the world. But there is good news in the fight against coronavirus.

PAUL: Drug makers Merck and Ridgeback say they've developed an antiviral pill that cuts the risk of COVID hospitalization and death by 50 percent. This is according to a study by those companies. If it's approved, it would be the first oral medication of its kind could have huge implications in the fight against COVID.

SANCHEZ: Health officials though stress that vaccinations are still the key to getting through this pandemic. Let's go to CNN's Polo Sandoval, who's following all of these developments. Polo, bring us up to speed with the latest.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Christi and Boris, you know, it's only about three and a half months that the U.S. had hit 600,000 deaths. And here we are now and, of course, that new milestone number that you just mentioned a very grim one here. Now authorities do maintain that there are positive and very promising signs that things continue to improve including an improvement in the number of cases and hospitalizations.

But as you just said, they also maintain that the best tool in trying to prevent those numbers from continuing to take up, those numbers on the screen, is by getting vaccinated.


SANDOVAL (voice-over): As early as next fall, California students will be required to be COVID-19 vaccinated since the state's governor Gavin Newsom made the announcement Friday saying his state is the first in the nation to add a COVID vaccine to the existing list of inoculations required for in-person learning.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): I want to get this behind us, get this economy moving again, make sure kids never have to worry about getting a call saying they can't go to school the next day because one of the kids or a staff member were tested positive.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): The governor expects the new requirements will be phased in by groups, Grade 7 through 12 and K through Grade 6. Only after the FDA fully approves a vaccine for that cohort, parents anxiously waiting to vaccinate children under 12, remain hopeful that that may happen by Halloween.

There's also optimism about what may become the first oral medication to cut the risk of COVID-19 hospitalization or death by nearly half. Molnupiravir is not a vaccine but an antiviral designed to fight the virus early after a COVID diagnosis, according to experts. Merck, the pills manufacturer says it's seeking Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA as soon as possible.

RICHARD BESSER, FORMER CDC ACTING DIRECTOR: I'm very excited about a drug going forward to FDA for consideration. We do need better treatments. We do need oral therapy. It's not a replacement for vaccination. Prevention is the best way to go. But when people get COVID, we need to be able to provide them with better treatment.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): With about 77 percent of eligible Americans having had at least one vaccine dose, health officials remain hopeful. Those who need a second dose will get one. In New York City, the deadline for teachers to comply with the city's vaccination mandate has come and gone. More than 90 percent of the roughly 78,000 teachers in the public school system received a shot according to the city. Those who didn't include Stephanie Edmonds, who now face being forced onto unpaid leave.

STEPHANIE EDMONDS, NYC TEACHER WHO DEFIED VACCINATION MANDATE: Unless anything changes come Monday, you know, they've done decided that I'm a threat to public health. And I think that goes against some of the very basic values of this country.


Of course, we need to balance freedom and safety, but I would say this is a -- is an overstep.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): The head of the city's Department of Education tells CNN the few teachers who remain defied of the mandate can still reconsider.

MEISHA PORTER, NEW YORK CITY SCHOOLS CHANCELLOR: We hope and look forward to teach us continuing to get vaccinated over the weekend because if they do, we look forward to welcome them back into their classrooms. We want them with their students.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): In addition to considering Pfizer shots for people under 12, an FDA vaccine advisory committee plans to take up the issue of Moderna and J&J boosters in the coming weeks. Also on tap, discussions about data on a mix and match booster approach.


SANDOVAL: Back here in New York City, there were four teachers here in New York that petitioned the Supreme Court of the United States this week to actually block that vaccine mandate from taken effect. What was late yesterday, Boris and Christi, that Justice Sotomayor responded to that challenge, denied it. And now that mandate expected to take effect come Monday.

SANCHEZ: A huge decision from Sonia Sotomayor. Polo Sandoval in New York, thank you so much.

Let's get perspective from an expert. Joining us now, CNN Contributor Dr. Abdul El-Sayed. He's an epidemiologist and a former city health director for the city of Detroit. Dr. El-Sayed, great to see you as always, good morning.

Let's get straight to this antiviral pill from Merck. It's unprecedented. There are 10 million total doses expected before the end of the year, how much of a difference is this pill going to make in the fight against COVID? DR. ABDUL EL-SAYED, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, Boris, look, with all the grim news we've been having over 18 months, you got to celebrate the wins, and I would argue that this is a win. It reduces the probability of hospitalizations and deaths by 50 percent. And the way they think about it is not in competition with the vaccines, it's in competition with monoclonal antibodies, which are now used in infusion, meaning you got to go to a hospital, hook yourself up to an IV and use them.

And we know very few people have the ability and the access to do that in time. This is a pill, and so you can pick it up from your pharmacy based on a prescript from your doctor, and you can take it. It's four pills, two times a day for five days. And it has a 50 percent impact. That is a big deal, because of the difference in the delivery mechanism.

So I really hope that this gets quickly to the FDA that they issued the EUA, depending on having looked at that safety and efficacy data, but it's going to change the game yet and still. The big news here though, is don't forget, the best thing we can do, right? An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. The best thing we can do is continue to push forward on vaccines.

So if you're holding out and saying, well, you know, this new drugs going to be there for me if I get sick. Please don't. Go get your vaccine. Don't ever get in a position where you're getting sick in the first place, potentially passing it on. But it's good news that we have one more tool in the tool bag here.

SANCHEZ: Yes. Because even as you suggested, it's a coin flip, right? It's a 50-50 shot that it works. And you can avoid that altogether by just getting vaccinated.

Let's talk about the global perspective of having this pill because monoclonal antibodies are expensive. And with this pill, you can mitigate issues all over the world, right?

EL-SAYED: That's right. We know that one of the startling moral failures of this pandemic has been the inability to get vaccines into arms all over the world. And I'm thinking about places in Southeast Asia and Africa where vaccination rates are still startlingly low. But if you can get these pills out there, which of course, are a lot easier to move than the vaccines are given how cold they have to be stored at, then this is an important tool in the global fight against the pandemic as well.

SANCHEZ: So for the first time since June, the CDC's ensemble forecasts is projecting that new COVID deaths are likely to decrease over the next four weeks. But we're headed into the winter months and flu season on top of that. We saw a spike last year around this time getting into the part of the year where folks have to be inside where this virus thrives. How concerned are you about another spike down the road?

EL-SAYED: Well, let's look at us here. We're talking about COVID and we've got a string of good news. I remain concerned. Obviously, this virus has figured out how to dip and dodge and evade a lot of our best thinking here. Nobody had figured on a Delta surge starting in the summer.

That being said, right, one of the things that has happened over time is because delta has been so efficient at transmitting itself between people. What you have is, in effect, an increase in immunity across the population. Of course, 70 percent of eligible people, about 55 percent of the population overall, we expect these childhood vaccines to start making a real dent in children between the ages of 11 and five.

But then for other folks who've been holding out in the vaccine, unfortunately, right? They've been acquiring immunity the harder way, which is getting sick and, in a large proportion of them, winding up the hospital. A large proportion of them die, but a large proportion of them as well acquiring that immunity.


So across the population, we actually have a far more immune population than we'd had going into Delta. And Delta made sure of it and handy vaccine and vaccine hesitancy made sure of it. But what that is as created as a space where actually as a population, we're a lot closer to that idea of herd immunity than we had been, which should protect us from what we would expect to see, which is a fall and winter search.

SANCHEZ: And Doctor, you mentioned the authorization for the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer for kids five to 11, how that can have an impact. Indications are that only about a third of parents actually feel comfortable getting kids that age vaccinated. What would you say to the other two-thirds that are -- or somewhat hesitant?

EL-SAYED: Look, I've got a three-year-old, she's going to turn four in November. And I really wish that that authorization was 11 to four, so that she could get vaccinated. But look, as a physician, my wife and partner is a physician, and both of us can't wait to get our kids vaccinated. We know that these vaccines are safe and effective.

Obviously, we're waiting on the FDA to authorize that, but these are well-characterized. Now, hundreds of millions of people have received these vaccines. And it's the freedom that I want for my daughter without having to worry about whether or not she's going to get sick, because it's something we did even though we're both vaccinated and wear masks indoors, or that something might have happened at her school. And so, this is that freedom from COVID that all of us want, particularly for our most vulnerable people.

And don't forget, right, we know that these kinds of viruses have had a history of harming kids in ways that, you know, healthier adults aren't even affected by. This one, of course, we know that it was less likely to affect kids, but this Delta surge change that, right? 1/5 of children are being hospitalized for COVID-19 at some -- I'm assuming (ph) 1/5 of people being hospitalized for COVID-19, at some point, were kids.

Let's do our best protect them. None of us wants to be in a situation where we watch our most vulnerable person, the people who hold our hearts everywhere they go every day, potentially at risk. And a vaccine is the best way to protect them from COVID.

SANCHEZ: And who knows what the next variant may bring in the way that it affects kids. Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, thank you so much for the time. We always appreciate it.

EL-SAYED: Appreciate you, Boris.

SANCHEZ: Thanks.

Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh has tested positive for COVID-19 during a routine COVID test. Kavanaugh is fully vaccinated, and he tested positive Thursday night. Fortunately, the Supreme Court Justice has displayed no symptoms.

But as positive diagnosis means that he will not be on the bench Monday for the start of the Supreme Court's new term. It would have been the first in-person session with all nine current justices since the start of the pandemic.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett was sworn in last year during the height of the pandemic, as we recall.

PAUL: So President Biden and his old stomping grounds yesterday, what he said surprised a lot of people, but did it surprised Democrats he's trying to rally to support his economic agenda. We'll talk about it.

SANCHEZ: Plus, what happens when star athletes refuse to get vaccinated or even share their vaccine status? Do they have a responsibility to fans and teammates? That story just ahead.



PAUL: So President Biden is vowing, "We are going to get this done". That was a direct verbiage from him. He's talking about the massive infrastructure and the budget proposals that form the cornerstone of his agenda.

SANCHEZ: The President says he's confident despite a high stakes week that ended with not much to show for Democrats, no agreement in place and ultimately no vote on those key elements of his agenda. He visited Capitol Hill yesterday to urge Moderate and Progressive Democrats to find some common ground.

PAUL: We're following developments with Daniella Diaz, who is on Capitol Hill. Arlette Saenz is at the White House. Good to see both of you. Daniella, let's start with you. What do we know about the status of this right now?

DANIELLA DIAZ, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, the status is not much improvement on this. There are still two bills waiting to be passed through the House. Of course, this bipartisan infrastructure bill that is already passed, the Senate has Republican support in the Senate and just needs to pass the House before it goes to Biden's desk. And he signs it and it becomes law. This is what Moderates want. And then on the other hand, you have the Progressives that want this economic bill, this massive $3.5 trillion bill that, by the way, has already been written by House legislators. And Progressives want this bill because they would expand the nation's social safety net, it would do things such as combat climate change, it would expand the child tax credit, it would have funding to combat climate change, paid family and medical leave. These are important priorities for Progressives. And this is something President Joe Biden promised Americans he would pass is expanding the nation's social safety net.

So Moderates and Progressives have different goals here. Moderates were fighting to get this bipartisan bill passed through the House this week. Progressives don't want to vote for that bill until the economic bill details are ironed out. So that is what President Joe Biden and Democratic leaders faced this week.

This is why he visited Capitol Hill to try to negotiate with them. And he made it clear this week that-- yesterday, during a Democratic caucus meeting that they need to work with each other in order for both of these bills to pass and for them to be able to get their priorities passed through this Congress. This is a major, major test for Democratic leaders as they tried to enact the Biden's historic agenda.

But, look, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, she is the head of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. She told Anderson Cooper yesterday she was incredibly optimistic following this meeting with President Joe Biden. Take a listen to what she said.



REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA-7), CHAIRWOMAN, CONGRESSIONAL PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS: Six minutes, six days, six weeks, we're going to get this done. We need a little time to negotiate. There was a lot of time to negotiate the infrastructure bill. And, you know, there were skeptics like me who said, I don't think it's going to get done and I was wrong. I'm happy to be wrong about that.

Now, we need a little time to negotiate on this Build Back Better Act. And I believe we will be able to do that.


DIAZ: Bottom line here is Democratic leaders are trying to work with both sides of the caucus, Progressives that want the economic bill, Moderates that want the bipartisan infrastructure bill that would improve roads and bridges, so that both of these bills can pass.

SANCHEZ: Daniella Diaz reporting from Capitol Hill, thank you so much.

So what did President Biden accomplished with his visit to Capitol Hill? Let's get to CNN White House Correspondent Arlette Saenz, she joins us now live. Arlette, ultimately, what was President Biden's goal, and did he achieve it? ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Boris, President Biden's trip up to Capitol Hill to speak with those House Democrats really marked his most public engagement yet, as he is trying to get his legislative agenda across the finish line. And the President went into that meeting speaking to those House Democrats for roughly half an hour, and really offered them a reset after we've seen Moderates and Progressives really warring over the course of the past few weeks about both that bipartisan infrastructure proposal and the larger, more massive $3.5 trillion sweeping economic agenda.

And the President really said to them, I tried to remind them that Democrats are united in their priorities of what they are trying to accomplish, and also suggested that they need to continue these negotiations. And the President spoke to reporters as he was leaving that meeting yesterday and really expressed optimism that his agenda would eventually be passed. Take a listen.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Imagine there's 1,000 different questions and they're all legit. I'm telling you, we're going to get this done.


BIDEN: It doesn't matter whether it's in six minutes, six days, or six weeks. We're going to get it done.


SAENZ: So the President acknowledging there that this is not going to be a quick, easy solution as these negotiations are ongoing. Now, some Democratic lawmakers have expressed some concern, they wish that the President had maybe stepped in a bit earlier to get more involved in these negotiations. But the White House has defended his role for the past few weeks saying that often the deal making is accomplished in the very end.

So the President this morning is expected to depart the White House in just the next hour to head to his home in Wilmington, Delaware, where he is expected to remain engaged with Democratic lawmakers as these negotiations continue. He will be traveling across the country a little bit later in the week to try to sell some of his proposals. But so much of the focus behind the scenes for the President and his top staff here at the White House will be trying to cajole and prod along those negotiations, as they are really trying to get these two legislative items across the finish line and offer the President a bit of a legislative win.

PAUL: All right, Arlette Saenz, we appreciate it so much. Thank you.

So CNN's Patti Solis Doyle is with us now, CNN political commentator, former manager of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. And good to see you again. It's been a while, Patti.

PATTI SOLIS DOYLE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, and nice to see you, Christi. Thanks for having me. PAUL: Absolutely. Thank you for being here. So, President Biden says six minutes, six days, six weeks, this is diametrically opposed to the urgency we seem to see from Speaker Pelosi this whole week. Talk to us about really how imperative is this timeline?

DOYLE: Well, it's quite imperative. You know, failure is not an option here. This -- you know, President Biden and Democrats across the country -- hello?

PAUL: Go ahead. We still have you.

DOYLE: I'm sorry.

PAUL: That's OK. No problem.

DOYLE: President Biden and Democrats across the country ran on Build Back Better. Americans across the country voted for Build Back Better. So, they have to deliver on this agenda. And, frankly, not only for the 2022 midterm elections next year, but for 2024. And more importantly, than all of that for the American people, because this -- the two packages is a transformational historic pieces of legislation that will affect real people, real working families. So failure is not an option.

PAUL: So he met with Democrats late yesterday afternoon. Right before that, though, there was some criticism from Democrats saying they wanted more from him. Let's listen to what some of the lawmakers had to say.


REP. AMI BERA (D-CA): I still feel like the President ought to weigh in and make specific asks of us to get this done. It's his agenda.

JAYAPAL: Would I have preferred that he, you know, engaged sooner on the reconciliation bill? Sure.

REP. STEVE COHEN (D-TN): I think the President should be involved. I think very few of us have seen the President in nine months he's been president, and I think he should come to a caucus.



PAUL: So essentially, he did. He showed up yesterday. What is missing here? I mean, do Democrats feel that the President isn't taking aside? Is that potentially what they're waiting to see from him?

DOYLE: You know, President Biden spent 36 years as a U.S. Senator, he spent eight years as vice president to President Barack Obama, where basically played a role of dealmaker on the Hill. I think there's probably no one on the planet, except for maybe, Nancy Pelosi, who knows the art of compromise and deal making, particularly when it comes to the legislative process. So, as we all know, you know, the art of compromise is delicate. And oftentimes, you have to sort of get the two parties together first before you can roll up your sleeves and really deal with the nitty- gritty. And I think that's what we saw last week.

While it was a hellish week, by all accounts from people on the Hill, and people from the media where we have both sides, the Progressives and the Democrats flexing their muscles, and frankly, with the margin so slim, and both the House and the Senate, both sides have a lot of muscles to flex, we did see a lot of progress. We did see both sides coming to the table, both sides willing to roll up their sleeves, and both sides willing to compromise.

So I think now, this is where the President can step in and have a real impact on the negotiations. Yes, it was a hellish week that, you know, as the song says, sometimes you got to go through hell to get to heaven and I think that's where we're headed.

PAUL: So, when you say compromise, it's the same thing that the President was saying. He said, now is the time to compromise. What does that look like when you look at this Reconciliation Act, when you look at the $3.5 trillion and its health care and its child care, and its education, and its things that affect regular, everyday Americans every single day? So where is there -- what's vulnerable in this act?

DOYLE: Well, that's, I believe, what our legislators, Democrats both on the Progressive side and the Moderate side, are going to have to hammer out over the next days, weeks. As the President said, not in the next six minutes, maybe not in the next six days, but hopefully within the next six weeks. That's what they're going to have to hammer out and it's going to be a negotiation, you know, what's going to get completely, but what can be phased in sooner? What can be sunsetted later?

These are all details that are going to have to get hammered out. But make no mistake, Christi, you know, the Manchin's opening salvo was $1.5 trillion, but that was a negotiation number. It's going to be somewhere between $1.5 and and $3.5. And that is a historic number. Let's say it's $2 trillion, that is a historic number not since FDR. And it's going to have real impact on real American people, working families, whether it's childcare combatting --

PAUL: So --

DOYLE: -- climate change.

PAUL: So, I'm sorry, real quickly, because we only have a couple seconds left. But with that said, because it is significant, where the Republicans fall in this? I mean, if it passes, and if it's viewed as a success, and there aren't Republicans behind it, what does that mean?

DOYLE: Well, the infrastructure is a bipartisan --

PAUL: Right. DOYLE: -- idea. So that's -- you know, Republicans and Democrats alike are going to take that infrastructure bill and campaign on it. And the reconciliation bill, you know, it's probably going to have to be done through reconciliation, you know, and that means it can get done with with Democratic votes. But there is no way that even the constituents in Republican districts are not going to get the value from that bill.

Again, childcare combating climate, the lower prescription drugs costs. It's a bill that will affect all Americans, Democrat, Republican, Independent.

PAUL: Patti Solis Doyle, good to have you this morning. Thank you for being with us.

DOYLE: Thanks so much.

PAUL: Sure.

SANCHEZ: The same NBA player who once question whether the world is flat, says he needs to do more research before getting the COVID-19 vaccine. We're going to talk about Kyrie Irving and the NBA season at risk, next.

But first, a reminder to watch the new CNN film, "The Lost Sons". What would you do if at 10 years old, you were told that you had been kidnapped from the hospital as a baby? It happened to Paul Fronczak. Hear his story tonight at 9:00 p.m. only on CNN.



SANCHEZ: The NBA preseason starts this weekend and already the league finds itself tangling with one of its biggest stars holding out on getting the COVID vaccine. Here's Brooklyn Nets' point guard Kyrie Irving.


KYRIE IRVING, BROOKLYN NETS: There's a lot of questions about what's going on and, you know, in the world of Kyrie and I think I just -- we'd love to just keep that private and, you know, handle it the right way with my team and go forward together with the plan.



SANCHEZ: Irving has recently been liking posts on social media related to vaccine conspiracy theories. And some of his family and closest advisers have spelled out his reasons for being skeptical about the vaccine, not much of it based on science. The NBA does not have a vaccine mandate, but unvaccinated players risk missing games and paychecks in cities with strict requirements like New York.

Let's get some insight now from Matt Sullivan. He's reported on anti- vaccine sentiment in the NBA for Rolling Stone. He also got unprecedented access to Irving and other Marquee players for his new book, "Can't Knock the Hustle", is a tremendous piece of sports journalism detailing the Brooklyn Nets during the 2020 season.

Matt, I want to ask you specifically about the role that race plays into this. The United States has an ugly history of medically abusing African Americans, and one of the consequences is now a distrust of institutions among many, and communities that for generations, endured suffering because of racism. Kyrie being a leader on social justice issues. I wonder how much of that activism informs his motivation on this issue. Does he see this as a form of activism?

MATT SULLIVAN, CONTRIBUTOR, ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE: I mean, you may recall that Kyrie Irving said the Earth was flat, which it isn't. But he also bought a house for the family of George Floyd last summer while trying to boycott the NBA's COVID bubble science experiment to go and protest instead. Now, Irving also sits on the board of the NBA players union, which is definitely not down with the NBA's desire for a vaccine mandate. So much for America's most progressive sports league, right?

And while the CDC demographic with the kind of most consistently slow uptick in vaccination is the black American community, I think you've got America's most progressive cities, saying hoopers now need to get vax. So, of course, Kyrie Irving, this kind of humanitarian provocateur, this ultimate influencer, he's going to test the bounds of the NBA and science and the law by potentially just refusing to play games here in Brooklyn.

Look, he said it's a personal decisions, so as LeBron James, but there's this fine line between an excuse activism and an abdication of leadership.

SANCHEZ: Humanitarian provocateur, I like that. On the issue specifically of his belief that the Earth is flat, he eventually admitted that he went down a YouTube rabbit hole and he apologized to Science teachers over his stance. I wonder you having had such close access to him. How persuadable do you think he is on this issue, perhaps, listening to someone like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar?

SULLIVAN: I mean, he's definitely swayable but he's also likes to push buttons. And I think this is going to be a real acid test of whether an influencer has gone rogue who, as I detail in my book, that head of Instagram told me that Kyrie Irving had more engagement on Instagram with people of all ages than even Donald Trump, at least when Trump was still allowed on there. And yet, the head of Instagram said, it's good for our provocateurs, our role models to have counter, contrary and kind of viewpoints, and then fans attach themselves where they may and they find the authentic influencers among them.

The next paragraph in my book also has a teenager from Kyrie's old high school team -- a middle school team, saying, I love all of Kyrie's Instagram posts, even the weird ones. And so we're in kind of a cycle of not only influence and leadership, but also misinformation and how that makes its way to the next generation. SANCHEZ: Yes. Let's look more broadly at the NBA. I want to play a sound bite from Draymond Green yesterday speaking to the press. Listen to this.


DRAYMOND GREEN, GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS: We're dealing with something that to me feels like has turned into a political war when you're talking about vaccinated and non-vaccinated, that goes against everything that America stands for, or supposedly stands for. And so I don't think -- now I know, I'm not in any position to go tell him what he should or should not be doing.


SANCHEZ: Draymond, a hugely influential player. So in this era of player empowerment, how does the NBA and the Commissioner Adam Silver, how do they manage this? It is a public health crisis after all.

SULLIVAN: We're talking about a war on, as Draymond, says kind of personal freedom versus public health. You know, these guys are sweating on each other and yelling at each other and it's not like the guys around you or the refs or the coaches aren't susceptible to Delta breakout cases, which has led the NBA to kind of override these personal freedom mandate from the players union by requiring masks.

And look, they're up to, in the NBA, 95 percent of players vaccinated, the league told me this week.


But the league really finds itself in kind of a race against time and some conspiracy theories that are reported for Rolling Stone to get players vax some time for opening night. I mean, we're only talking about 30 or so players at this point. But when you've got folks like LeBron James retweeting that clip from Draymond Green, you know, it's kind of a selective leadership here.

And I think the big questions for the NBA going forward are, will vaccinated players almost guilt trip their teammates into literally taking one for the team or will the Draymonds of the world kind of step back while his teammate refuses to get vax and thus refuses to play? And will the NBA's new COVID rules that I can get away would kind of make the lifestyles of the rich and famous so uncomfortable that they give into the shot, or might we face a really completely preventable outbreak here?

SANCHEZ: All right, we got to leave the conversation there. Matt Sullivan, appreciate the time. Thank you.

SULLIVAN: Thank you.

PAUL: We have more for you ahead. First, though, do not miss the new CNN original series called "Diana". It reveals the person behind the princess and a life that was more complicated and really fascinating than the world knew. "Diana" premieres Sunday, October 10th at 9:00 p.m. right here on CNN.



PAUL: Well, you, I'm sure like us, were glued to the television on January 6th, as we watched protesters clash with Capitol Police. What we're learning now is that this wasn't the start of the violence that day. New audio shows police confronted unruly crowds that morning hours before the insurrection began.

SANCHEZ: So could those confrontations have been an early warning for what was to come? CNN's Whitney Wild joins us now with that audio.

WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: Christi, Boris, what this audio shows is that the U.S. Park Police was dealing with this dynamic and evolving situation throughout the morning that began actually several hours prior to the riot. And what it shows is that there were pro-Trump supporters who were coming to Washington and based on their gear, and based on the observations from Park Police were prepared for a fight.

For example, Park Police observed people in riot gear wearing gas masks, in some cases, carrying a pitchfork. In other cases, they made clear on the radio transmissions that they were overwhelmed, in one case, saying that they were completely surrounded as they had retreated inside the Washington Monument with someone that they had arrested. And all they could do was wait for backup to try to get them a safe exit out of the monument. Meanwhile, as I said, there's this crowd surrounding them.

This was seven hours of audio obtained by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. It is enlightening. Here's just a quick snippet of that more than seven hours of tape.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a mob of onlookers inside the flag circle right outside the entrance to the monument. So, just be advised when you are coming up to tell that prisoner to standby for now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have an arrestee inside the Washington Monument. We are going to temporarily close it right now so we can further assess what we need to do with the prisoner. There's a large crowd surrounding the monument right now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The prisoner is inside the base of the monument with multiple Park Police officers. That they are completely surrounded with protesters and they are trying to figure out a plan on how to get the arrestee down to the wagon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have individuals with shields and gas masks at the statue.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. They are at the Lincoln statue with shields and masks? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And for influencers (ph) taking pictures right now with a flag that says -- Antifa. Myself and 21 directs for the units at 141 monitor only do not take any type of enforcement action. Let it happen.


WILD: Further, what Park Police was dealing with were little flare-ups throughout the city. So there were issues at the Washington Monument, there were issues at the Lincoln Memorial. And on top of all of that, hundreds of rioters tried to get into that "Stop the Steal" rally with backpacks which were prohibited. And so. those people just left them on the sidewalk. Unattended bags are so well-known as being a security risk.

And so Park Police was on the sidewalk, basically, looking at this pile of backpacks. They'd said, at one point, had grown to 1,000 backpacks, trying to figure out what to do with it. So there were all of these security issues popping up at around the same time. Again, it was a very dynamic situation and that was hours before the riot took place. It was a signal of what was to come. Christi and Boris.

SANCHEZ: Whitney Wild, thank you for that report.

So, Alabama received millions of federal dollars to ease the effects of the pandemic. But instead of spending that money to help communities recover, the state is building two new prisons. We have more top stories for you just ahead.



SANCHEZ: We are 53 minutes past the hour and we want to check top stories for you before we go. Alabama is one of the states that's been hardest hit by COVID, but they're not using all of their federal COVID relief funds to fight the pandemic.

PAUL: Instead, Republican lawmakers are allocating up to $400 million from the American Rescue Plan to build two new prisons. Democrats have raised questions over the legality of the funding. Others are questioning its morality.

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed the bill yesterday and said, "This is an Alabama problem. We're going to give it an Alabama solution."

American Airlines says all its U.S.-based employees must get vaccinated if they want to keep their jobs. The airline announced last night, the Biden administration's vaccine mandate for all federal contractors does apply to the airline. American did not say when the requirement takes effect. It did say that, while religious and disability related exemptions will be available, there will be no provisions of regular testing alternative.

SANCHEZ: And check this out, a new drone capturing footage inside Hurricane Sam as it barrels toward the Atlantic. It navigated through 50 foot waves and winds up to 120 miles an hour to capture this dizzying footage.


PAUL: It's something, isn't it? No, it says this is a world first. It gives us a completely new view of a hurricane. Data from this drone, by the way, and others like it should help predict how and when hurricanes strengthen. So not only good to look at but, obviously, getting some really valuable information.

SANCHEZ: All right, so we will see you again in just about one hour in the CNN Newsroom.

PAUL: We sure will, stay tuned. Smerconish is with you next.


MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: Senators Manchin and Sinema, the problem or the solution. I'm Michael Smerconish in Philadelphia. It's been a roller coaster of a week in Washington, as Democrats tried to advance a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill passed with bipartisan support.