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New Day Saturday

Growing List Of Countries Restrict Travel To African Nations Due To New COVID-19 Variant; Black Friday Sales Up, Despite Economy Uncertainty; Small Business Saturday Encourages Americans To Shop Locally; Rep. Greene: McCarthy Does Not Have Support To Be Speaker; Thousands Without Power Due To High Wind Fire Danger; Wildfires Still A Threat To California's Sequoias; From Attorney To Podcaster And Consultant; Group Of Volunteers Build Wheelchair Ramps For Parade Attack Survivors. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired November 27, 2021 - 08:00   ET



TYLER MAULDIN, CNN METEROLOGIST: And then once we get into tomorrow, that system could produce a few air travel delays across portions of the Great Lakes going on into New England, but we're not looking at tremendous widespread delays, guys.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Good to know. Tyler Mauldin, thank you so much.


PAUL: All right, kicking off at eight o'clock hour here. Good morning to you. Welcome to your NEW DAY. We are always grateful to have you with us. I'm Christi Paul.

MARQUARDT: And I'm Alex Marquardt in today for Boris Sanchez.

We're starting with countries around the world that are restricting travel from several African countries amid fears of a new rapidly spreading variant of the coronavirus. The concerns from health officials about that and the rising number of cases and hospitalizations here in the U.S.

PAUL: And bouncing back. Americans are offended big this holiday season, big gains that we're seeing in stores and how you can help small businesses fighting to survive right now.

MARQUARDT: It is Small Business Saturday, man of the house the plan that some Trump allies are floating to make him Speaker of the House despite not being in Congress if Republicans win big in the upcoming midterm elections next year.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm not happy about 2,000 to 3,000 more dead large supporters. It's a big number.

(END VIDEO CLIP) PAUL: Saving the sequoias, climate change and wildfires are decimating these iconic trees. How scientists are innovating to save them, including extreme tree hugging as they call it.

You're on this holiday weekend we often forget what day it is it is Saturday, November 27th. Just so you wake up and know. And we are just so happy to spend some of our morning with you. Hey, Alex.

MARQUARDT: And I'm so happy to be with you, Christi and with all those all of you watching. We're probably coming out of your food comas just about now.

PAUL: Right. I know.

So, let's talk about the big headline this morning the global freeze on travel to some African nations. That's due to concerns over a new potentially more transmissible COVID variant. The United States has joined more than a dozen countries now to ban flights just hours after South African health officials announced the discovery of this new strain. It's been named Omicron. And President Biden said the variant is a major concern.


JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: I decided that we're going to be cautious.

We don't know a lot about the variant except that it is a great concern (INAUDIBLE) spread rapidly.


MARQUARDT: And the travel restrictions are coming amid a surge in new COVID cases here in the United States. Michigan is now seeing a near all time high in COVID hospitalizations, as health experts push for more Americans to get vaccinated.

Let's get straight to CNN international correspondent David McKenzie in Johannesburg, South Africa. That's where this new variant was first detected. David, South African officials have said that the this these travel bans that are growing are a knee jerk reaction and that South Africa is being punished for this.

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Alex and good morning, Alex and Christi. This is certainly what the reaction is from South African. Scientists and the government just a short time ago, the South African government coming out and saying that excellent science should be applauded, not punished. They say they agree with the World Health Organization and other public health organizations that travel bans have a limited impact, but have a very punitive effect.

Still, there are growing signs that this COVID-19 variant is spreading. A statement in Germany just a short time ago saying that they have a high probability that a traveler from South Africa has -- will test positive for this variant that they still have to do the full sequencing. A lot is not known about this variant and there's a lot scientists are concerned about.


MCKENZIE (voice-over): In a world fatigued by waves of COVID-19 now renewed fear. In South Africa, scientists identifying a troubling new variant of the virus that is dominating infections here.

JOE PHAAHLA, SOUTH AFRICAN HEALTH MINISTER: A variant of serious concern, which is now driving this spike in numbers.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): More than 30 mutation say scientists in the spike protein alone, it's a worrying sign. Scientists are working in labs like this one in South Africa, scrambling to confirm if the variant evades immunity from previous infections or crucially, if it weakens vaccine efficacy. Definitive answers could take weeks.

SALIM ABDOOL KARIM, EPIDEMIOLOGIST: We think it may be a more transmissible virus, and it may have some immune escape. Now, we don't know that for sure but that's what it looks like.


URSULA VON DER LEYEN, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN UNION COMMISSION: The European Commission has today proposed to member states to activate the emergency brake on travel from countries in southern Africa.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): But even without clear answers, the world is shutting its doors, countries all across the globe, rapidly banning travelers from parts of Africa. They say to curb the spread of the variant. Now, thousands are likely stranded.

In Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam, hundreds of passengers from South Africa forced to sit on the tarmac for hours after landing, then crowding in a COVID testing site after the Netherlands bands traveled from South Africa. The International Air Transport Association, saying restrictions are not a long term solution. They've already lost billions to the pandemic. And anger in South Africa, where officials called the bans draconian knee jerk measures.

RICHARD LESSELLS, INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPECIALIST, UNIVERSITY OF KWAZULU NATAL: What I found so disgusting and really, really distressing actually, from here was not just the travel ban being implemented by the UK and Europe. But that that was the only reaction or this strongest reaction and there was no word of the support that they're going to offer to African countries to help us control the pandemic.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): Countries in Africa, now, Israel, Hong Kong and Belgium have so far confirmed cases of the variant.


MCKENZIE: Now, those passengers that arrived at Schiphol and were pushed together like that in their hundreds and were tested, 61 of those were in fact positive after those tests of COVID-19 unclear if it is the variant, but it does show that this continues to be a massive headache as there are spikes of the virus in Europe from a previous variant, this new one certainly has a lot of people worried.

MARQUARDT: All right, David Mackenzie, in Johannesburg, thank you very much.

Here in the United States Health Officials, airlines and the White House are all monitoring this new Omicron variant, as it's been called by the World Health Organization. Dr. Anthony Fauci says that despite there being no current indication of the variant is yet here in the U.S. everyone needs to pay attention as we learn more about it. Take a listen.


ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NIAID: You don't want to frighten the American public but when something occurs that you need to take seriously, you take it seriously and you do whatever you can to mitigate against that.


PAUL: So beginning on Monday, flights from South Africa and seven other countries are banned from entering the United States. This is a preventative measures has been characterized. The travel restrictions that we're seeing are happening as both Delta and United Airlines say they do not plan to scale back and they're moving ahead with new and seasonal service to the continent.

CNN's Nick Valencia is with us now as he's been studying this. Nick, what are you learning and good morning.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christi and Alex. Yes, with news like this, it almost feels like the pandemic will never end even for some as it's escaped their consciousness. It's probably one of the President in his proclamation announcing these travel restrictions, reminded Americans that more than 773,000 Americans have died as a result of the coronavirus.

They say this is why reason -- part of the reason why they're taking proactive measures to try to limit this strain making its way into the United States. Starting on Monday, the following eight nations from Southern Africa will have travel restrictions implemented including Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini Mozambique, Malawi, and South Africa. You're seeing a list of those nations there up on your screen.

Now as of Friday, Dr. Anthony Fauci said there's no indication that this strain is already in the United States. But for some health officials, it's just a matter of time. The WHO is indicated just how transmissible and contagious this virus is, perhaps even more contagious than the original strain of coronavirus.

And I mentioned that there's some health experts saying that it's just a matter of time. It's when you consider that these two major airlines are continuing service to South Africa. Delta announcing and a statement that they are not changing anything about their travel schedule. And here's what United is saying in their statement. United continues to monitor how the new 212(f) travel restrictions to Africa may impact demand and remains committed to maintaining a safe and vital link for essential supplies and personnel to transit between the African continent and the United States as feasible. They say they don't have any adjustments to their schedule at this time.

And just really quick guys, U.S. residents will be exempt from these travel restrictions, leaving the opportunity open that perhaps a U.S. citizen could bring this back from their travels abroad. Alex, Christi.

PAUL: Yes, good point to distinguish there. Nick Valencia, good to see you --

VALENCIA: You too. All right.

PAUL: -- this morning. Thank you.

VALENCIA: All right, you guys.


MARQUARDT: And health experts are also worried about a rise in COVID cases in New England. Here with me now to discuss this is Dr. David Hamer who's an attending physician at Boston Medical Center.

Doctor, thank you so much for joining us this morning.


MARQUARDT: Can we just pick up on the news of this new variant about what we know and perhaps more importantly, what we e don't know. But we are hearing that it has a significant number of mutations, we are hearing something about its transmissibility. So what worries you the most about this new strain?

HAMER: I think, you know, there's at least very early conjectures that this may be more transmissible and that worries me most, although if it's both more transmissible and more able to avoid our immune response, and both innate and then acquired, you know, three antibodies, then that could be really a terrible combination.

But the potential for increased transmissibility in particular, if it's able to be more fit to spread and able to displace Delta, that would be a real big problem.

MARQUARDT: And so, how much should we be watching what the pharmaceutical companies say about how their drugs, their vaccines react to this new strain?

HAMER: I think it'd be very important for them to test you know, both the new drugs that Merck and Pfizer have come up with to see if they act against this, this new strain, but importantly, to see whether neutralizing antibodies generated by the current vaccines inactivate this virus, because if they do not, then we're going to need to tweak the vaccines, so they better target this new variant.

MARQUARDT: Up where you are in New England, at least in Massachusetts, they're seeing a big spike in COVID cases. Are the hospitals they're feeling that impact?

HAMER: Well, fortunately not. No, there's definitely been a rise in cases. And actually, some of the states surrounding Massachusetts are having, you know, steady rises, including Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. And I think they're feeling a little bit of stress in their health care systems in Massachusetts.

It's been a more gradual rise in a lot of the cases are in younger people who are less likely to be hospitalized. I think the hospitals in -- I think throughout New England are feeling stressed because of the volume of patients. A lot of people have deferred elective surgeries, elective procedures. And they're now needing attention.

And so, the hospitals are actually quite full if we end up with a surgeon COVID cases superimposed on that we could have a big problem.

MARQUARDT: Yes, speak more to that. How much more difficult does it -- does a surge make dealing with those other diseases and conditions that perhaps checkups and other procedures have been put off over the past year?

HAMER: Well, I mean, it -- you know, a year ago was March and April 2020, a lot of those procedures and activities were put off. And then it took quite a while to get back to full business as usual at most hospitals that it was really not quite back to business as usual, because everybody has to be tested before having procedures.

But I think things have returned more than normal. But if we end up with a surgeon cases, it's going to force hospitals to make some difficult decisions and have to move back to shutting down elective procedures, and certain elective surgeries and so forth. And that will be difficult because a lot of these have already been deferred and deferring them longer may not be the best for sort of individual medical care.

MARQUARDT: All right, Dr. David Hamer, we've got to leave it there. Thank you so much for your time and expertise this morning.

HAMER: My pleasure. Thank you.

PAUL: So between competition with big box stores and the supply chain crisis, local businesses are really hoping you're going to give them a little extra love because it is Small Business Saturday. Up next how the Small Business Administration is stepping into (INAUDIBLE).

MARQUARDT: Plus, they once towered over the landscape, but wildfire after wildfire have devastated many of California's majestic sequoia trees. I look at the damage and the efforts to preserve those historic trees. That's coming up.



PAUL: Eighteen minutes past the hour. Three people were shot and at least three more were injured during a shooting at a packed shopping mall. This happened in Durham, North Carolina.

(voice-over): And among those includes a 10-year-old child who was hit by a ricochet bullet. Several off duty cops were working in that mall when they heard the sounds of shots they call for backup. Authorities say the incident happened between two groups of people that know each other but most of those involved ran from the scene.

So far, one person is detained and one weapon was recovered but the mall was evacuated. It is expected to reopen today. We'll keep you posted as we get more information.

So in Washington State, one person was shot at the Tacoma Mall and that sent shoppers scrambling for safety officials say the victim was taken to a local hospital and is suffering from serious injuries. Witnesses described the scene as chaotic as people were running away. Now one person said the terror on kids faces that was the worst part as they were seen crying and screaming. Police are still searching for a suspect there and the motive not clear.

MARQUARDT: All right, turning now to retail prices are higher but Americans are still ready to spend for this holiday season.

PAUL: Yes, there are more shoppers who showed up in stores for Black Friday yesterday than last year. And online sales they are up as you can imagine.

CNN's Polo Sandoval is with us in New York. So, what are retailers expecting this holiday season and did Black Friday? Did it do what they wanted it to do? Or you know I mean, we -- it's not surprising there were more people out than last year based on where we were, but there are still a lot of people who were concerned.


POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. Yes Alex, Christi, you better believe it's going to be a very busy day here in New York City's Fifth Avenue yet again that's because industry experts are expecting roughly 158 million shoppers to actually make some of those holiday purchase from Thanksgiving up until Cyber Monday obviously a significant increase. They're about 100 million of them that allow their shopping yesterday for Black Friday.

And here's an interesting number as well, more than half of them are making all those purchases in person, some 60% according to industry experts. Why you may ask? Those lingering concerns about supply shortages as concerns that some of those holiday gifts may not actually make it to their destination in time either because they're taking longer to get there or because some of those retailers don't have some of those sought after items in stock.

When you hear from the National Retail Federation, which is basically a retail trade group from experts, they're saying that they expected allow the bigger store. So big box brick and mortar companies have actually been working nonstop for the last several months to make sure that they are well stocked for this holiday shopping rush. Want you to hear directly from the President of the NRF.


MATTHEW SHAY, CEO & PRESIDENT, NATIONAL RETAIL FEDERATION: Retailers have been working on this, since the beginning of the pandemic, they understood the real stress the supply chain was under. They've invested billions of dollars in their teams and their systems, working with their partners to get goods here. That's why really we've survived the last 20 months and been able to get most of the things we needed when we needed them.


SANDOVAL: Now there is obviously some concern, though, about those smaller mom and pop shops as well. You mentioned a little while ago today on Small Business Saturday, there's certainly push for some of those consumers to make some of those purchases some of those smaller retailers. That's because they were basically squeezed out throughout the pandemic with their challenges.

And finally, just to put everything into perspective for you guys, here's the final number from NRF or rather what they expect to be roughly $843 billion that consumers will be shelling out for those holiday purchases. When you look at the previous years you can see it's obviously going to be a significant increase which is why the sidewalks later today are going to be quite packed so come on down.

PAUL: All right, Polo Sandoval, thank you so much. Good to see you this morning.

MARQUARDT: Eight hundred forty-three billion. Well, it is Small Business Saturday as Polo just mentioned that traditionally comes the day after Black Friday. On this day on Saturday, Americans are encouraged to visit small local retailers at the start of this holiday shopping season. Now these businesses have been especially hard hit during the pandemic, from having to close up shop to labor shortages and supply chain issues.

Now, the Biden administration says it is trying to help. We have the head of the Small Business Administration Isabella Casillas Guzman, she joins us now. Thank you so much, Isabel for being with us this morning.


MARQUARDT: So we have large retailers, companies like Amazon, they have seen money pouring in online shopping, a lot of that was fueled by some of the stimulus that so many people have been receiving. But meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of small businesses across the country have had to close. So, what is your message to Americans on this Small Business Saturday? GUZMAN: Well, Small Business Saturday is that critical day where we can push to help our local small businesses, those mom and pops who have had to pivot and adapt and struggle to survive during this time. Of course, the SBA has been here to help through our centers of advisors trying to give them strategic advice to keep on going as well as the capital that they need to ready.

So many small businesses are hopeful for this day to see those consumers come and spend a bigger percentage of that holiday shopping dollars on their small businesses. And so, when you're out today, remember those small mom and pops as well as dine small and entertain small just to make sure that we can support our the our local economies through these wonderful small businesses.

MARQUARDT: How do you make sure that that message continues? That the emphasis remains on those small businesses and so many small businesses that I've spoken to have said, you know, you need to support those businesses that you want to see stick around after the pandemic. So how do we make sure that they -- that this message continues beyond just today.

GUZMAN: And that's right, because this entire holiday season is going to be so critical for so many small businesses as they look to the future and their solvency into the new year. And so, we have to keep top of mind that we need to support those local neighborhood, beloved small businesses that we rely on for our goods and services on a regular basis so that they can continue to be there and line our streets and enliven our main streets.

Truly, these businesses really anchor so many communities. And so it is critical that we remember them during this time. They don't have the big ad budgets that the large businesses have.

So, it's important to not only when you go shopping, take your wallets and spend with small businesses, but take your phones and amplify that you're shopping at small and that there are some great deals as well as great products along our main streets so that you can encourage your friends and family to do the same on social media.


MARQUARDT: Yes, I mean, so many of those small businesses do rely on that social media marketing as you say. Now, the house has just passed this $1.9 trillion social spending bill. You say that it is going to help many of these small businesses. What exactly is in that bill that that will go towards helping and supporting them?

GUZMAN: President Biden's Build Back Better Agenda includes key investments that will help bring equity to small businesses leveled the playing field for so many. It includes really historic investments in SBA so that we can launch products to help them get the funding that they need, that critical capital to keep their businesses growing, or to start up.

And so, we will be able to launch small dollar lending programs as well as expand our network of mission based lenders who really help those smallest entities and underserved small businesses, as well as our investor networks through emerging and micro funds to support our innovative startups and other small growth businesses.

So they're really critical investments as well as investments and trying to make sure that they can level up their skills. So acceleration and incubation, their training, resources for small businesses across the country will be invested in through The Build Back Better Agenda.

And finally, most importantly, they -- small businesses create two thirds of net new jobs, they employ half the private workforce. And so, those investments in our skilled workforce our people are will be really critical for our small businesses as well as we invest in health care childcare, to get people back to work as well as just the investments in workforce development and apprenticeships, et cetera. So, we're really looking forward to the Build Back Better Agenda moving forward as it will be key for our small businesses.

MARQUARDT: But Isabel, of course, this is the second shopping holiday season that many small businesses have had to go through. Many of these businesses stayed float, thanks to aid that was provided by both the Trump and Biden administrations. But how can your -- how can the administration make sure that that the -- these businesses continue to be supported and get the financial support that they need as we continue to battle this virus?

GUZMAN: Well, a couple things. The American Rescue Plan included critical expansion of our network of advisors, community navigators, resource partners that can connect in and build bridges to small businesses so that they're aware of the resources that are available. And importantly, there's still billions of dollars in relief available through SBA disaster program.

As part of President Biden's COVID action plan, we made improvements to the COVID EID Loan, the Economic Injury Disaster Loan so that businesses could get long term, that patient capital, affordable capital to keep their businesses going with two years of deferred payments and up to $2 million to position their business for success into the future.

And so, we really looking forward to making sure our businesses who still need that relief, especially those high impact industries. Come to to apply directly for this loan, which is available through the end of the year.

MARQUARDT: All right, we have to leave it there. Small Business Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman, thank you so much.

GUZMAN: Thank you for having me.

MARQUARDT: And we'll be right back.


[08:33:06] PAUL: Talk a little bit of politics this morning. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is getting some pushback from some in his own party as he wants to become speaker if Republicans take over in 2022. Well far-right Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene who is a staunch Trump supporter says the next Republican running for speaker will have to earn her vote and right now McCarthy doesn't have it.

CNN political analyst Rachael Bade, she's the co-author of Political Playbook is with us now. Rachael, good to see you this morning. Happy Thanksgiving, by the way, good morning.


PAUL: Thank you. The midterms and the race for speaker, I mean, they're more than a year away. So, what is the takeaway here for Kevin McCarthy? Particularly I have to point out after last night, we know that Marjorie Taylor Greene said -- she tweeted that she got off on a good call with him that she spent time talking about solving problems not only in the conference, but for our country. I like what he has planned ahead.

Two different -- two different real different points of view from her in a 24 or 48-hour period. What does he make of that?

BADE: Look, I think Kevin McCarthy has a really long year ahead of him. You're right. The midterms are far away that vote for him to become speaker is a long way off. But Marjorie Taylor Greene is just starting to realize sort of the depth of power she actually has over Kevin McCarthy.

This is a man who has wanted to be speaker for more than a half decade, he's tried before he failed to get the speakership because of conservative members like herself who refused to vote for him. And look, he needs her vote. He needs her support in order to get the gavel.

And so, I think what you're going to be seeing for the next few months for the next year, is anytime Kevin McCarthy does something that infuriates Marjorie Taylor Greene, infuriates Trump, the far-right. They're going to be lording over his head the fact that he wants to be speaker and if he wants that job he needs to please them.


One thing I think is interesting is that she tweeted last night that what they discussed please her and that, you know, she was happy with what he said. But Marjorie Taylor Greene has been pushing for him to punish members Republicans who vote on bipartisan bills, punish Republicans who voted to impeach Trump.

And Kevin McCarthy has not wanted to do either of these things. So, if he made promises that he would do either of these things that will repel moderate Republicans who may not vote for him for speaker either.

So, he's got this real bind right now. And he's going to be in this pickle for a really long time.

PAUL: There have been a lot of conversations over the last 24 hours about how the far right caucus has not seen any consequences for any actions that they take particularly in response to Representative Boebert who compared -- who said some pretty anti-Semitic things to about Representative Omar.

And Ilhan Omar, Representative Ilhan Omar took back at her on Twitter, it was somewhat of a Twitter fight. But we know that Boebert tweeted an apology, which was different from anything that we've seen thus far.

Does that apology Rachael, does it mitigate what might happen to her? And can she say well, I apologize so that's why. Or are we seeing a far-right Republican Party that is just not willing to go after one of their own?

BADE: Yes, I mean, it's a good question that in addition to Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert who you just mentioned, you know, making a lot Islamophobic comments, I mean Ilhan Omar --

PAUL: Yes.

BADE: -- she wears a turban sometimes on the floor, she wears it at her job, saying she can get in an elevator, because she does have a backpack and they'll be safe. I mean, really, sort of despicable comments from a member of Congress, things that we haven't seen in recent years, but we're starting to see more of.

I think the difference here with her is that, like you said, she apologized, that is something we haven't seen from a lot of these far right fringe, new members. A lot of them sort of fundraise off of these sorts of comments, they become popular with them and their districts, and they sort of lean into them. And so, the fact that she tweeted an apology and said that she actually called Ilhan Omar's office to try to speak with her and apologize. That's something different.

And so, you know, at a time right now, when there's a lot of partisan tension on the hill, you know, there's a lot of really ugly comments, we saw a congressman, just last week censured for tweeting a video of himself killing another Congresswoman, a liberal Congresswoman, and looses committee posts for doing that.

The fact that you actually have a lawmaker willing to say sorry, and admit, mistake, is something that I think we should all sort of applaud. And, you know, we'll have to see if she is true to her word and doesn't act like that again. But at a time when things are really heated, that's quite different.

And so, we'll see what happens when lawmakers come to town next week. Do they still try to punish Boebert for what she did? Is this apology enough? We'll have to see. But it's definitely something different from the fracture -- the friction we have seen on the Hill.

PAUL: No doubt. And I need to correct myself, I think I said anti- Semitic, I don't know where that came from, an anti-Muslim. Yes.

Thank you so much. Rachael Bade, good to see you.

BADE: Good to see you.

MARQUARDT: Well, during the 1920s, the Osage people of Oklahoma were among the richest in the world. But as Lisa Ling uncovers, that wealth also made them a target. Discover the horrific plot carried out to steal Osage land and their money watching all new "THIS IS LIVE WITH LISA LING," that's tomorrow night at 10:00 p.m. right here on CNN.

And we'll be right back.



MARQUARDT: Thousands of electricity customers in Southern California had their power cut off on Thanksgiving nights. The region is battling dangerously dry conditions and high winds coupled with gusts topping over 70 miles per hour in some areas. The strong winds and low humidity increased the risk of power lines falling and then sparking wildfires.

PAUL: Yes, California fires have already destroyed thousands of sequoia trees. Experts believe nearly 20% died just in the last two years.

Here CNN's Stephanie Elam.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We're on a hike in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. But this is a tour of Sequoia destruction.

CHRISTY BRIGHAM, CHIEF OF RESOURCE MANAGEMENT & SCIENCE, SEQUOIA & KINGS CANYON NATL. PARKS: I'm not happy about 2,000 to 3,000 more dead large sequoias. It's a big number to me.

ELAM (voice-over): That's 3 to 5% of the remaining monarch sequoias in the world. According to a preliminary report by the National Park Service, killed in the KMP Complex Fire that turned through Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks and the windy fire further south. And that big number is on top of an even larger loss of mature sequoias last year in the castle fir, part of the sequoia complex that wildfire eviscerating 10 to 14% of the world's giant sequoia population.

Brigham says this means in just the last two years, up to a fifth of mature sequoia trees that have stood for at least 1,000 years, if not more, have been lost to wildfire.

BRIGHAM: That's not sustainable. That is not getting wildfire and climate change resilient forests.

ELAM (voice-over): It's a conflict of concerns these scientists never thought they would see. The threat made worse by another year of drought leaving the sequoias dry and vulnerable.


GARRETT DICKMAN, BOTANIST, YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK: That means its water source has been there for over 2,000 years. That that water's not there means that the climate and the world around it has changed.

ELAM (voice-over): But lessons learned last year help save some sequoia this year.

BRIGHAM: Before the Castle Fire, we had never seen losses of large trees like we had in that fire, 7,500 to 10,600 large sequoias loss in a single fire event. And that really changed what we decided we were willing to do to protect trees if we could.

ELAM (voice-over): And what they were willing to do called for innovation in the face of fire.

From literally throwing what they could at the threat, like sprinkler systems that spray trees 35 to 40 feet in the air and dropping fire retardant gel from aircraft into hard to reach groves to extreme tree hugging swaddling some of the world's largest trees like General Sherman and General Grant and structure wrap.

BRIGHAM: We had hand crews going in and doing this kind of raking and fuel removal around individual trees in grove. We did backfiring operations to change fire behavior.

ELAM (voice-over): But the loss of any sequoia such rare and majestic beauties is one too many to lose.

BRIGHAM: It is dead, that tree is dead. It is not coming back. This tree that is at a minimum 1,000 years old and has survived many, many, many previous fires and should have lived another 1,000 to 2,000 years is dead, is gone.

ELAM (voice-over): Stephanie Elam, CNN, the Sierra Nevada mountains.


PAUL: So the pandemics prompted a lot of people to reset, to move out of their comfort zones. Well, host of the podcast Lessons From A Quitter, says one question from her husband was the lightbulb moment she needed to leave a job she hated. What she wants you to know, next.



PAUL: So this is the reset as we're almost two years into the pandemic, which has prompted a lot of people to kind of reset priorities. Do you remember -- so let me ask you this. You remember a moment when you knew something just didn't feel right about where you were in your life?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOLI KALKHORAN, PODCAST HOST, LESSONS FROM A QUITTER: I think like a lot of people, when you're in a career where you know, it's not for your -- you're in a situation that you know, deep down, I hate it, right? This isn't for me. I didn't like that for a number of years as a lawyer. But I think in our society, especially once you're successful, it's like OK, well, this is it. You just, you know, you buckle down and work isn't supposed to be fun. And this is you know, you're an adult now. Congratulations.


PAUL: So that's Goli Kalkhoran, she spent 10 years going to law school and practicing as a lawyer. But you heard her she hated it. She says her husband said one thing that woke her up.


KALKHORAN: He said, so you're going to waste the next 30 to 40 years of your life doing something you hate, because you don't want to waste the 10 that you put in? And it was an instant, like, oh, my god, he's right. By holding on to something that I already wanted, didn't want, but I was scared, right, because of the fear, I was holding on so tightly to something that I, you know, had created. I was giving up so much more.

You know, I was giving up 30 or 40 years of possibility of trying new things or finding things that lit me up, you know, of exploring and growing and becoming more of myself.


PAUL: Goli is now the host of the podcast Lessons From A Quitter. And she also started a consulting business and says she found so many clients who have accomplished significant success, but still do what we're all guilty of doing at some point, letting that voice of our past tell us who we are now.


KALKHORAN: We start focusing that lens on everything we're bad at, everything we're failing at, everything we're not good, you know. And so, we start creating the story about ourselves like, I'm a hot mess, I'm a mom, and I'm, you know, not you, I'm not smart enough to start a business. And it's just a story. Because there's equal amounts of evidence to prove that, like, you have figured out incredible things.

You don't need to go out and do a bunch of things to build confidence, you need to look at what you've already done, you need to give that same, you know, airtime in your brain, to the fact of like, look how much I have endured. Look how much I have gone through.

The pandemic was one of the clearest examples in my lifetime, that there's a lot I don't control. And I think a lot of times we have this illusion that we have control in our lives. They only control me, I control how I show up, I control my thoughts, I control my feelings, I control my actions. (END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: Goli says choosing to be brave, even when she was terrified, brought on one of our greatest joys, which is helping people recognize one thing we can control is what we tell ourselves.


KALKHORAN: We have bought into this lie that we can't trust ourselves because we look at maybe one or two decisions that didn't turn out the way we want it to. And we don't look at the millions of decisions we've made every day that were wonderful and responsible and caring and the person we want to be. You're never going to, you know, hit a home run on every single decision. That's just not the way life works. And that's not how you learn and grow.

And the more I can see that in my past, the more I'll have the confidence to keep like listening to that voice instead of, you know, trying to get everybody else's opinion and get other people to make that decision for me.


PAUL: I'm telling you, she is so candid and so honest, I had the best time learning from her. She's on Instagram and Twitter by the way. So (INAUDIBLE).

MARQUARDT: And so many people are having that kind of thinking because of the pandemic.

PAUL: Yes.

MARQUARDT: It really has prompted a realignment for in the minds of so many, so many people.

PAUL: Yes. And she is leading the way and she helps to put it into words. It's fun when sometimes we can.


MARQUARDT: Yes, she was great.

All right well we close out this hour with what we call some "Good Stuff" where in Waukesha, Wisconsin a group of volunteer craftsmen are making sure that survivors of that deadly Christmas parade attack have one less thing to worry about. They're going home by home, building wheelchair, wheelchair ramps for those who need them.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're very thankful for everyone that is part of this. Waukesha is a very strong community. We're a small or small city, but when this happened, everyone just came together.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MARQUARDT (voice-over): Home Depot donated all of those building materials for that project and several other local businesses are also chipping in.

PAUL: It's good for them.

MARQUARDT: And that'll do it. Yes, good for them. That's -- it's really terrific that that community certainly deserves it.

And that will do it for us this hour. I hope you'll join us again at 10:00 a.m. Eastern time.

PAUL: Yes. "SMERCONISH" is up with you next. We'll see you in an hour.