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New Day Saturday

Biden Stark Warning Winter Of Severe Illness And Death Ahead; Omicron Spreading Faster Than Any Other Coronavirus Variant; Defense Rests After Emotional Testimony From Former Officer; Biden Forced To Punt Key Agenda Items To 2021 By Stalled Senate; Inflation Playing Key Role In Shaping President Biden's Agenda; Judge Refuses To Quit After Blaming Sedative For Use Of Racial Slurs; NFL, NBA Change COVID Protocols As Cases Rise. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired December 18, 2021 - 07:00   ET



BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Build Back Better agenda hits a brick wall. He's now turning his focus to voting rights as advocates say the right to vote is under attack in several states.

PAULA REID, CNN ANCHOR: Former Minnesota Police Officer Kim Potter takes the sand in her own defense breaking down as she walks jurors through the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright, how might her testimony sway the jury?

SANCHEZ: And Louisiana judge caught on video using racial slurs says she is not resigning. Wait until you hear what she is blaming for her racist rant.

REID: Good morning and welcome to your NEW DAY. It's Saturday December 18. Boris, so great to be with you this morning.

SANCHEZ: A pleasure to have you, Paula, I hope that alarm clock didn't startle you and that the coffee is well in D.C. this morning.

REID: It was early but the coffee is hot and tasted quite fine this morning.

SANCHEZ: Excellent. Glad to hear. So, we start this morning with the beginning of the holiday travel rush and worrying signs that the Omicron variant is fueling a rise in COVID-19 infections.

REID: President Biden issued a stark warning this week to the unvaccinated prepare for a winter of severe illness and death. hospitalizations have been trending upward for more than two months. But the US is now averaging 121,000 New COVID cases each day levels not seen since the end of the summer surge in September.

SANCHEZ: Rates are rising fastest in parts of the Northeast, Midwest and South. In New York State alone, positive COVID 19 cases jumped 154 percent in less than a week the numbers trending in the wrong direction. And now with Christmas and New Year's Eve approaching more than 20 million people are expected to fly over the next two weeks, Dr. Anthony Fauci warns it is only a matter of time before Omicron becomes the dominant variant in the United States. And getting vaccinated or boosted remains the key to keeping infections less severe.

REID: CNN's Jason Carroll reports on the growing strain on the country's hospitals.


JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Boris, Paula here at Beaumont Hospital. The doctors and nurses here are under a great deal of stress simply because at one point, they didn't have the staff that they needed to treat the COVID patients that were coming in here. It got so dire at one point; the Department of Defense dispatched a special team to help alleviate the need.


LISA MADDOX, NURSE: It's been a lot worse lately, but we do what we can.

CARROLL: The hours at work for nurses like Lisa Maddox, medics seem never ending.

MADDOX: Unfortunately, I'm not a super, superhero or I'm just on Earth.

CARROLL: Maddox is a COVID nurse working on Eighth North Team, Eighth floor, North Tower, Beaumont Hospital in Dearborn, Michigan. She's worked here since she graduated from nursing school only about a year and a half ago. Lately, the COVID unit here is seeing more and more patients, all while there are fewer nurses to care for them.

MADDOX: There's been days where I've been like I don't know how much longer I can do this and I'm brand new, you know, but then at the same time, it's very rewarding what we do.

CARROLL: The new wave of COVID-19 is flooding Michigan's healthcare system overwhelming doctors and nurses' admissions to hospitals statewide have risen 43 percent Over the past month. Currently, there are more than 100 people being treated for COVID-19at Belmont hospital. By comparison, in July, hospitalized COVID patients were only in the single digits.

The influx of patients has taxed this hospital so much, so the Department of Defense dispatched a Joint Task Force Civil Support Unit to help.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean the the pace is very, very fast. The need is, is, is constant.

CARROLL: Teresa Nowalk is a Lieutenant Colonel based out of Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. She's part of a mobile team that includes 14 critical care nurses, for doctors and to respiratory therapists. Now working at Beaumont. The team has worked at hospitals in 13 states since August, the situation is so critical here, just a few minutes into our interview, staff had to rush in to help a distress patient.

Can you tell us what's happening behind us here?

LT. COL. THERESA NOWALK, ARMY NURSE CORPS POLICE OFFICER: So, if there's a patient that needs acute care, maybe has a change in heart rate, a change in respiratory rate, then generally as a care comes that have critical care experience, they come in and help, help with care for that patient. I've been in for almost 17 years, and if you would have asked me five years ago, would I be embedding in a civilian hospital to help provide care I would have I would have been like: No, you've got to be kidding me.

CARROLL: What is not surprising to the strike team or to hospital staff people needing critical care are overwhelmingly unvaccinated. Beaumont Health says 443 out of the 583 COVID patients, it is caring for statewide are unvaccinated. The vast majority of those in its ICU and on ventilators also unvaccinated.

Sara Pristavu is a recovering COVID patient. She says her vaccination status is private. She and her father who also has COVID were admitted on Sunday.

SARA PRISTAVU, COVID-19 PATIENT: I hope he's OK. He's not too far for me here. I'm not allowed to see him because of the quarantining. It's been a roller coaster. It's been -- sorry. It's been a roller coaster. Bonneville up better.


CARROLL: Pristavu says she needed oxygen when she arrived but no longer. And she credits those working the COVID unit here, both civilian and military with helping to save her life. And as for urgent pleas from those in the medical fields for more people to get vaccinated. She says this:

What do you see as the right thing and the wrong thing?

PRISTAVU: I, I really like to stay neutral.

CARROLL: Nurses like Lisa Maddox knows the stress for the eighth North team may just be beginning again.

Well, I break in three months. Well, I break in a year. Well, I break in 10. I can't I don't have that answer for you. Right now. I'm, I'm battling this with my patients. And I don't see a stop anytime soon.

I can't tell you how dedicated the doctors and nurses are here and how grateful they are to have the military team that's here. And in terms of how long that they're going to be here at Beaumont Hospital. It could be a month it could be longer all depending upon the need. After that, they're going to head to another hospital where there is more need. Boris, Paula.


REID: Incredible reporting. Jason. Thank you. Meanwhile, President Biden renewed his pledge to defend voting rights this week slamming Republicans for backing restricted state election laws and blocking federal reform bills.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've never seen anything like the unrelenting assault on the right to vote. Never. I don't think any of you have on the stage ever seen. Not a joke. And folks, as what John Lewis said, it is the only without the right to vote, there is no democracy.

SANCHEZ: Democratic lawmakers have been talking for days about how to pass a voting rights bill without Republican support, but that would require support from all 50 Senate Democrats and at least two have made clear they are not ready to break the filibuster and make a rule's change in the US Senate. Notably, there's also a battle now over redistricting.

The Department of Justice sued the state of Texas this month over the issue. They argue that new congressional and state legislative maps approved by Republicans discriminate against minority voters and responding to the lawsuit, Texas State officials call it absurd. They say it's, quote, a ploy to control Texas voters in Galveston, Texas, the Republican led county board their recently approved a map that's expected to squeeze out the only Democrat and African American on the County Commission.

And this morning, he's our next guest, Commissioner Stephen Holmes. He's held that seat for the last 22 years. We're grateful to have you this morning, Commissioner Holmes, you've argued that these new maps in Galveston are racist. So, make the case why are they discriminatory?

STEPHEN HOLMES, AFRICAN AMERICAN COUNTY COMMISSIONER: Well, thank you Boris for having me this morning. I appreciate it. Well, I think that it goes contrary t1o Section II of the Voting Rights Act. Basically, Boris, when you look at the percentages of black and brown constituents that were in precinct three prior to this redistricting process, and then you look at how they broke up every all those communities and just dispersed their vote all across the four precincts in Galveston County, it certainly bodes well for case for a violation of Section II of the Voting Rights Act.

SANCHEZ: So, you talked about the percentages, the demographic breakdown your precinct, roughly 66 percent of eligible voters are black or Hispanic. And under the new map, that number falls to roughly 30 percent. What justification have local leaders given publicly for, for changing the map this way?

HOLMES: Well, that and you're right on those percentages Boris. That's the interesting thing about the county commissioners of my fellow county commissioners is that they've been very quiet on this subject. They have very made very few public comments even when we had the one public hearing that we had. They were very quiet and didn't say a word no responses to all the, the residents that the voters that showed up at that hearing and asked questions. That didn't respond to any of the questions or the issues that the voters had and they've been very quiet on the issue.


SANCHEZ: You had one public hearing on redrawing the maps in your county?

HOLMES: One hearing, Boris. One hearing the day that the maps were publicly presented, and that day was the day that we took a boat.

SANCHEZ: Notably, the top official on the county's Commissioner's Court Judge Mark Henry did not respond to CNNs requests for comment. Two other Republican commissioners who voted for the changes also did not respond. You are correct, and that it appears that they're being quiet on this issue. Have they told you anything personally, when you've told them this is racist, just speaking to them one on one, what do they shut?

HOLMES: And that well only, only spoke to one one county commissioner who called me before the vote, Boris, and I made the made the same statements that this was a discriminatory map. And his response basically was, well the lorry that's helping us with redistricting told me that it was not. And I said you could simply look at the numbers in the percentages and see that he did is reducing the power and diluting the vote of minorities in our county, and it's clearly discriminatory.

SANCHEZ: So, I want to make the distinction clear that the Department of Justice lawsuit challenges the state's new congressional maps in the state legislative maps, but that doesn't actually impact redistricting on a on a county level, right?

HOLMES: Yes, that is that is correct, Boris. And that's the crux of what's, what's happened without, without, without preclearance. And the coverage falls into being struck down is that you have not only my jurisdiction, but I'm sure that many other jurisdictions are experienced the exact same thing without any protection from the from the, the Department of Justice.

SANCHEZ: So, what's your message to the Attorney General and the DOJ?

HOLMES: Yes. I'm asked all the residents here, certainly, within my precinct to call the Department of Justice, let them know exactly what's happening here in Galveston County, and hopefully they will -- they will step in and follow the litigation on our behalf here in Galveston County. But the other message, obviously you'll bars is that from -- from the congressional level, we obviously need some, some voting rights legislation to be passed and help counties out like, like, don't these things aren't happening in counties like mine,

SANCHEZ: Commissioner Stephen Holmes, we have to leave the conversation there. We appreciate your time. Please keep us posted if you do hear from the Department of Justice, and there's some decision on whether to intervene or not. Thank you.

HOLMES: Thank you, Boris. Of course. REID: Former Police Officer Kim Potter takes the stand to explain to the jury that she meant to use her taser when she shot and killed Daunte Wright. More in her testimony next.

Plus, President Biden's agenda has stalled frustrating Democrats on Capitol Hill, the main sticking point that threatened to tank one of the President's signature pieces of legislation, coming up next.



REID: Former Police Officer Kim Potter sobs on the witness stand as she testifies about fatally shooting 20-year-old, Daunte Wright, during a traffic stop. Now closing arguments in her trial are set to begin Monday.

SANCHEZ: Potter says she mistook her gun for her taser when she shot Wright. The defense team said it was a strategic accident, but prosecutors are claiming that Potter was negligent and that she acted recklessly. We get details now from CNNs Josh Campbell.


KIM POTTER, FORMER POLICE OFFICER: I remember yelling "taser, taser, taser," and nothing happened. And then, he told I shot him.

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Former Officer Kim Potter testifying for the first time explaining the moment she shot and killed Daunte Wright last April. Potter describes seeing her fellow officers struggling with Wright during the traffic stop.

POTTER: He took a fear in his face. It's nothing I've seen before. We are struggling. We're trying to keep them from driving away. It's just It's just when chaotic.

CAMPBELL: Wright, who officers learn how to an outstanding warrant for a weapons violation, was initially pulled over for minor offenses pointed out by a rookie officer.

POTTER: We just saw just a little bit of suspicious activity. He noticed a pine tree or air freshener hanging from the rearview mirror and the tabs were expired.

CAMPBELL: Potter revealing they would not have pulled right over at all if she hadn't been training that officer then why not?

POTTER: An air freshener to me is not just an equipment violation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You did stop the vehicle, right?

POTTER: Yes, part of field training is that my probationer would make numerous contacts with the public throughout the day.

CAMPBELL: That contact would turn fatal.

POTTER: I shot him. Oh my God!

CAMPBELL: When she pulled her gun, instead of her taser. The prosecutor asked Potter about training on confusing her taser and her gun.

ERIN ELDRIDGE, PROSECUTOR: You were trained on it right?

POTTER: Yes, but it was a while back.

ELDRIDGE: So, you're in March of this year on that taser, correct?


CAMPBELL: The state pointing out.

ELDRIDGE: You never saw a weapon on Mr. Wright, did you?


CAMPBELL: Adding she did not try to save Wright or check on other officers in the aftermath.

ELDRIDGE: You didn't make sure any officers knew what you had just done right?


ELDRIDGE: you didn't run down the street and try to save Daunte Wright's life, did you?


ELDRIDGE: You're focused on what you had done because you had just killed somebody.

POTTER: I'm sorry it happened.

CAMPBELL: Prosecutors continuing to push.

ELDRIDGE: You knew that deadly force was unreasonable and unwarranted in those circumstances.

POTTER: I didn't want to hurt anybody.


CAMPBELL: And Boris and Paula, the jury has now heard from all of the witnesses who will be testifying in this trial. On Monday they will hear closing arguments for the prosecution will again have an opportunity to make their case of course all along they've said that this very senior officer should have known the difference between her Taser and her service weapon. Potter has pleaded not guilty. Her defense is claimed this whole thing was a tragic accident. The jury will be sequestered beginning Monday as they start their deliberations. Boris, Paula. SANCHEZ: Josh Campbell, thank you so much for that reporting. Still ahead, a cornerstone of the Biden agenda hitting a major roadblock. And now, the fate of Build Back Better hangs in the balance. What it means for an administration that may not be able to deliver on its promises going into midterm elections? That and more next.



SANCHEZ: The Biden administration is pivoting as the likelihood that many of the President's key agenda items diminishes the chances of passing Congress anytime soon. President Biden acknowledging ongoing talks with Senator Joe Manchin, along with procedural steps have caused Democrats to miss their self-imposed deadline to pass the Build Back Better spending bill.

REID: CNN's Daniela Diaz is live on Capitol Hill. Thanks so much for being up early with us. All right, any sign of when this proposal could potentially make it to the Senate floor?

DANIELA DIAZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Paul up, Boris, it's likely that won't happen until 2022. Because for Senator Joe Manchin, who is the key holdout here, the biggest problem for him is this price tag, especially considering that inflation is soaring right now. President Joe Biden acknowledged in a statement earlier this week, that they would have to delay the negotiations until after the new year on this Build Back Better Act.

This bill that is a priority for his administration, that would expand the nation's social safety net, because he acknowledged that he is still negotiating with Manchin. And of course, there's some procedural delays in the Senate that would have had to happen, which is why they decided to delay this until the new year. But he's not giving up. He said that they will continue negotiations, and that they still plan to make this a priority in the new year.

But for mansion, his biggest hold up with this price tag or excuse me with this bill is the price tag, namely one provision the Child Tax Credit, which is a very popular provision that helps 35 million Americans a month, which if it's over the last payment went out on Wednesday. He says he's concerned because the Build Back Better act only has a one-year extension for the child tax credit. But he knows that Democrats plan to expand this year after year.

So, he thinks the price tag should reflect a 10-year extension of the Child Tax Credit, which if that were to happen, it would drive that price tag up. But he is holding firm on these negotiations. He says he's working for West Virginia, his home state where he represents, and he acknowledges that these negotiations are continuing but he's not going to back down. Take a listen to what he told our Manu Raju this week as he was exiting the Senate.


MANU RAJU, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They're pressuring you to change your position on the child tax credit?

SEN. JOE MANCHI (D-WV): No one questions me.

RAJU: Are you going to change your position on that? The way that's in the bill. The one-year extension.

MANCHIN: I've always been for child tax credit.


DIAZ: I do want to note that mansion is a supportive supporter of the child tax credit, but he just wants that price tag to reflect a 10- year extension because Democrats do find this to be a priority for them. But look, liberals, progressives, namely we're aware that this could happen. They're upset.

In fact, Pramila Jayapal, the chairwoman of the Progressive Caucus actually told our Jake Tapper this week: "This is what we feared. It's why we tied the two bills, the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the Build Back Better Act together because she was aware that moderates would likely stop negotiating on the Build Back Better Act if they got the bipartisan infrastructure bill. But it does look like negotiations will continue. It's just not going to be you know, before the New Year. Paula, Boris.

SANCHEZ: And you have to wonder how this is going to be used by both parties going into the 2022 midterms. Daniela Diaz from Capitol Hill thank you so much.

Vice President Kamala Harris forcefully defending President Biden's leadership after she was asked by Charlamagne tha God on Comedy Central, whether Joe Biden or Joe Manchin was President listen to her response.


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I hear the frustration. But let's not deny the impact that we've had. And agree also that there is a whole lot more work to be done. And it is not easy to do. But we will not give up.

I think it's a mistake to try and think about this. Only through the lens of Democrats versus Democrats when the fact is Republicans are consistently and unanimously standing in the way of progress.


SANCHEZ: Harris also expressed frustration that even basic issues like upholding the country's democracy struggle to get bipartisan support.

REID: And as critical talks between President Biden and Senator Joe Manchin are at a standstill, it's putting the Build Back Better Bill a centerpiece of President Biden's agenda in limbo. So, I want to bring in Managing Editor for Axios and CNN Political Analyst Margaret Talev. Margaret, I'm so glad you're here. All right, let's, let's try to make some sense of exactly what is going on here. First of all, what do you make of the president essentially shelving this key bill, the social spending bill until next year is, is hope that people go home, have a nice holiday and come back with, with a new a new outlook on this?


MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, good morning, Paula. I think, you don't run the debate and vote up on a bill right onto Christmas Eve, or through Christmas Eve, and blow up the recess, unless you think you have actually a chance of getting it done, and they don't.

It's not there yet. And it's -- look, it is Manchin and Sinema are the two senators who everyone is looking at as -- the holdouts are on these issues.

But there are other issues, the -- just the devil is in the details. And, you know, there was a effort to put immigration onto the bill, the parliamentarian rejected that. They're just not ready for a vote yet.

So, I think the decision to let this slide is a reflection of the reality on the ground. This is the challenge for President Biden for the Democrats, though, it's twofold, right?

What did -- what's in that House passed Bill Back Better Act? It's everything from reducing the cost of prescription drugs right to that universal pre-K that was in that package. Real childcare subsidies that even help broadly the middle class, home care for older Americans. Some college assistance, there is the environmental and the electric vehicle, renewable energy provisions in there.

There's a whole lot Democrats want to be able to run on, right? And at the same time, it will cost a lot of money. And there are inflationary problems right now that a lot of Americans are concerned about, think that the current administration isn't doing enough about.

So, I think on some level, Democrats, know Republicans are going to run against them either way. If they could get Bill Back Better pass, Republicans will run on the political argument that this is going to impact inflation. If they don't get it done, they're going have less to run on, and they've promised these things to the American people, and said, if you keep us in power, we'll get these things done, and right now they are at an impasse.

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: That's a great point. Now, let's focus in on the child tax credit. You heard Daniela's report a few minutes ago, cutting that as a non-starter for President Biden. But you also heard Senator Manchin say, I've always been for the child tax care credit. So, is there a middle ground that can be reached here on what right now appears to be a sticking point?

TALEV: One thing they've talked about is just pulling it out and running it separately. And that would obviously be an option that could reduce the price tag for Bill Back Better, but not reduce the price tag for the child tax credit. And you know, it -- this is just -- it's another political sticking point, and so as voting rights, and this is all going to come to ahead in the next month.

REID: Well, Goldman Sachs says inflation may get worse before it gets better, which may further erode support for the spending bill. Meanwhile, Biden is insisting that inflation is at its peak.

So, some critics are pointing to the rise in prices as a reason why it's the wrong time for Congress to authorize this $1.7 trillion in new spending. It seems like, to your point, inflation -- this bill is going to be politicized either way. But at this moment, how is inflation playing into the efforts to try to pass this bill?

TALEV: It's adding to the argument that the price tag should be managed, and that people should have a sense of the true cost of the bill. And, you know, when you talk about the economy, like we put out all these terms, right? It is inflation, it's the supply chain. That is what -- that is how people are perceiving inflation.

And right now, Americans, the polling tells us -- are perceiving their perception is that the administration isn't doing enough, the administration -- any administration actually has pretty limited measures to combat supply chain problems.

The real problem for the Biden administration -- and people are experiencing this now two weeks before Christmas, gas prices, heating costs, the availability of gifts that they want to purchase, how much the food costs for the family celebration.

The challenge, really, for the Biden administration, is that it is pretty hard to make the argument like that, what if -- what if the other guys were in power? Right? What if the Republicans were in power? For Biden to say, well, you know, it wouldn't be better than, than I'm doing right now.

The real challenge for Biden is the pandemic. It is COVID. It is the fact that COVID has taken another turn with Omicron. As long as the virus is still driving public health concerns and the economic fallout for it, this administration is going to be in a responsive mode. It's not driving the train, because it can't drive the train. The virus is driving the train. And that is a politically precarious position to be in.

REID: Politically precarious indeed. Margaret, thank you so much. It will be interesting to watch this play out, especially ahead of the 2022 midterms. Thank you.


BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Still ahead, a Louisiana judge resisting pressure to resign after she was caught on camera using racial slurs. She is now blaming sedatives for her actions. We'll tell you about that story and much more, next.


SANCHEZ (on camera): A Louisiana judge is blaming sedatives for a barrage of racist slurs used in a video at her home that recently surfaced. Judge Michelle Odinet says that she's sorry and that she's taking an unpaid leave of absence, but she insists she is not leaving the bench.

REID: Now, we do want to warn you some of the video you're about to hear contains offensive language, but we think it's important that the audience hear it to understand the full story here.


REID: CNN's Ryan Young has more.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A home video showing outdoor surveillance footage of an altercation with a burglary suspect.



YOUNG: We can't see their faces, but the people are watching and are heard commenting on the video at times using racist language.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And mom's yelling, nigger.

YOUNG: The people who are watching the video are heard using the N- word over and over, and sometimes laughing at one point, saying the suspect was like a roach.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- we have a -- It's a nigger, like a roach.

YOUNG: It all took place at the home of Lafayette City Court Judge Michelle Odinet. It is unknown who recorded the video from the inside of the home or who is speaking, and how it became public. Now, Odinet is facing calls for her resignation.


YOUNG: Local advocate and activist Gary Chambers is among those calling for the judge to step down.

CHAMBERS: This judge in the privacy of her home uses the N-word and refers to people as roaches. That's what she views certain people who come into her courtroom as, and therefore, she cannot dispense justice equitably.

YOUNG: Lafayette police say early Saturday morning, two vehicles parked on the home's driveway were broken into. The suspect tried fleeing but was caught and held down until officers arrived on the scene.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I'm the one that took him down.

YOUNG: Soon after the video became public, Judge Odinet issued a statement to affiliate KATC, saying in part, "I was given a sedative at the time of the video. I have zero recollection of the video and the disturbing language used during it. Anyone who knows me, and my husband knows this is contrary to the way we live our lives. I am deeply sorry and ask for your forgiveness and understanding."

CHAMBERS: I don't know any medicine that makes you call somebody an N- word.

YOUNG: Odinet's lawyer telling local media she is now taking unpaid leave.

EDWARD JAMES, CHAIRMAN, LOUISIANA STATE LEGISLATIVE BLACK CAUCUS: I know that there are so many people that have said, oh, she was in her private capacity. That matters not to me because a black robe does not hide what's obviously in her heart. And we all know -- the entire country knows what she thinks about African Americans at this point.

YOUNG: The chairman of the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus is calling for Odinet's immediate removal. And the local NAACP chapter issued a statement saying, in part, "We call now for her immediate and uncompromising resignation. We demand swift and immediate act by the Judiciary Committee of the Louisiana Supreme Court, removing her from office."

JAMES: We have requested from the Louisiana Judiciary Commission to place an ad hoc judge there. There is precedent. They have done it before when other racist judges have made comments.

You know, I respect the due process and I will allow for the Judiciary Commission to make their investigation and their findings. But if they don't, I'll be bringing them to the table here at the Legislature because they have to come and answer to us anyway.


SANCHEZ: Ryan Young, thank you so much for that report.

REID: The NFL and the NBA face a new wave of COVID cases. Now, they're making changes to the season. We'll tell you what it means for the athletes and, of course, the fans.



SANCHEZ: It feels a little bit like spring 2020. Empty stadiums, postpone games, a surge of positive COVID tests. Nearly two years into the pandemic sports leagues are again changing protocols as players and staff contract COVID.

The NFL is putting mask and social distancing requirements back in place at indoor practice sites. And now asymptomatic vaccinated players can return to the field quicker if they test negative.

The NBA is also bringing back mask requirements and ramping up testing as a slew of players miss games.

Let's get to CNN sports analyst Christine Brennan. She is here with us now to take a deeper look into all of these changes. Good morning, Christine. Thank you for being with us this morning. It feels like we're going back in time. But this is different. There are new protocols, and we should note that the risks from COVID are less severe. Thanks to vaccines. I'm wondering what your take is on how all the different leagues have adapted to the surge in cases.

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST (on camera): Boris, they are adapting quickly. Certainly, they have things in place because we've all been through this now for nearly two years. But as sports led the way back on March 11th, 2020, as you alluded to, that was the debt the night actually that the NBA shut down operations and really woke everyone up.

If people were uncertain about what this COVID thing was, March 11th, 2020, the same day that the same night that Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson tested positive. But the NBA shutting down, suspending operations was huge.

This of course is not that. We do have the vaccines as you mentioned, we know so much more about COVID and these variants then we would have ever known it back in March of 2020.

But sports again leading the way, leading the conversation much more than just sports but as a cultural touchstone for all of us to say OK, if you haven't been paying attention, which is hard to believe.

But if you haven't, look where sports are. Three NFL games are now postponed. NBA issues, NHL issues, college basketball games postponed. This is a big deal folks, sports again kind of sending that signal out to everyone that this is -- this is serious, and that you need to pay attention, and that we are in something here for a while that we probably weren't anticipating a few months ago.


SANCHEZ: Yes, sadly, if you look at vaccination rates in some areas, it does seem like some folks are not paying attention, unfortunately. You noted the NFL postponing three games right on the cusp of the playoffs, including the Browns-Raiders game.

More than 15 Browns players put on the COVID reserve list. Baker Mayfield, the starting quarterback included. He tweeted before the announcement that, "Actually, caring about player safety would mean delaying the game with this continuing at the rate that it is."

He said that the league's reversal in protocols doesn't make sense. There are other players that have also expressed similar frustrations, not just in the NFL. How do you think the players' unions have managed this situation?

BRENNAN: Sending these real questions about the integrity of the game. That's not as important, Boris, of course, as COVID in the conversation we just had.


BRENNAN: But, you know, if you're putting a product out on the field, people are paying for it. And it's -- you want that product to be as good as it can be it. Baker Mayfield's tweets, I think really woke people up. He -- you know, he said, why are we playing? And why don't we postpone for a few days? So, those were the words to, you know, those words were generally what he was trying to say. And I think he made a good point.

This is -- this isn't new territory. But it's unexpected territory that we're back here in this way. And I think the leak is they've got protocols in place the NFL, has obviously hasn't stopped thinking about this.

But you know, the problem, I think for some of us looking at the NFL is when you've got a guy like Aaron Rodgers, who is really the face of COVID in the league still, one of the biggest names in the sport, you know, being so cavalier, lying, misleading, obviously, he couldn't care less about getting vaccinated. It does lead you to wonder about the seriousness of others.

The NFL is serious, but Aaron Rodgers, clearly, is not serious about this. And that's a problem because he really is the poster child, so to speak, of the NFL and COVID, because he's the biggest name and one of the best players on one of the best team.

So, you know, we have questions and we'll be asking them.

SANCHEZ: Yes, Christine, very quickly, I do have to ask you about Tiger Woods. We only have like a very short 10 second window here. Returning to the green after that devastating car accident in February. What do you think?

BRENNAN: Hard to believe. Less than 10 months after that accident, he's back playing golf. It's a -- it's an exhibition, basically. It's fun. He's playing with his 12-year-old son, Charlie. And this is a great way for him to kind of get back to the game. It by no means means that he's ready to play tournament golf, but it's a wonderful thing to see.

SANCHEZ: Yes, it absolutely. is Christine Brennan, thank you so much as always.

BRENNAN: Thank you, Boris.

SANCHEZ: Of course.

REID: There is much more ahead. But first, a skater in Oakland, California is looking to inspire everyone to get rolling in today's "THE HUMAN FACTOR".


ANDY DURAN, FOUNDER, CHUB ROLLZ: I love skating. I just feel very free to be in my body and to be myself on a skateboard.

When I was skating before, it was in the late 90s and early 2000s. I was a fat kid growing up. During the pandemic, I really wanted to get back into skating. There was not really any information online for fat skateboarders. Not only could I not find pads and gear and my size, but I also had difficulty with just seeing any other folks like me, which felt alienating.

We start putting our own videos up and then we're immediately hit with fatphobia, comments about our body size. I wanted to create a space where we could all come together and not be judged.

The Chub Rollz started as a space for fat, plus-size, chubby, skaters, have a safe place to learn together and skate together.

We have our monthly physical event by helped -- to kind of show people how to stand on a skateboard, how to gain their balance, how to ride, and what kind of information they may need for getting the right gear.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Being around a bunch of people who look similar to me really makes it feel more comfortable to learn.


DURAN: A lot of times when there is plus-sized groups, they tend to be focused on weight loss, and the reality is that not everybody who is bad is actually looking to change that.


ANNOUNCER: "THE HUMAN FACTOR" brought to you by Pfizer, breakthroughs that change patients' lives. Visit to hear more from Meredith Vieira and the inspiring men and women living with MBC.


REID: It's shaping up to be a busy travel week as millions had to their holiday destinations. The CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar has the forecast. All right, Allison, what can we expect out there?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST (on camera): Some pretty soggy conditions, especially in the southeastern portion of the country. We've got a lot of heavy rain that's going to be sliding in.

On the northern side of this same system, we're talking about snow, and yes, even some ice which we obviously know is very dangerous to drive on. In addition to some of these areas, getting a little bit of a mix of all three. The greatest threat for ice is going to be across portions of the Northeast. If you're traveling on Interstate 90, I-88, I-87, please, please, give yourself extra distance and extra time if you plan to be out on the roads.

Widespread totals of snowfall more likely about two to four inches, but the higher you go into elevation and the farther north, you go, those numbers are going to pick up pretty quickly -- four, six, even eight inches.

Down to the south and east, this is where we're talking about the heavy rain and even the potential for some severe storms mainly focused along the Gulf Coast region. The main threats there are going to be tornadoes, damaging winds, and the potential for some hail. Again, the main focus is really going to be right there along the Gulf Coast region, but all of these areas have the potential for some flooding as well, especially, if you get some of those consistent bands that make their way through some of these areas.

And we're also keeping an eye on another system, making its way into the Pacific Northwest as well.