tv CNN Newsroom With Fredricka Whitfield CNN November 27, 2021 10:00am-11:00am PST
♪ hello. thanks for joining me. i'm paula reid in for fredricka whitfield. we're following breaking news this hour as the uk confirms two positive cases of a highly mutated new covid variant called omi omicron. during a news briefing prime minister boris johnson said there's a great deal about this new variant that scientists simply can't know yet, but what they know is cause for concern. >> it does appear omicron spreads very rapidly and can be spread between people who are double vaccinated. there is also a very extensive mutation which means it diverges quite significantly from previous configurations of the virus, and, as a result, it might in part reduce the
protection of our vaccines over time. >> cnn is covering these global developments all over the world. we have reporters in london, arlette zientz with the president in nantucket. nada, the prime minister said there's a lot we don't know. what did we learn? >> reporter: there is a concern now that this new variant may be more transmissible and may have a negative impact on the vaccines. most of european allied population is double vaccinated. there are concerns this new variant will have a negative impact and the vaccines may not be enough and they may not have the effect on previous variants. there are investigations and studies ongoing. we heard from many fpharmacy
companies saying they're keeping an eye on that. public health officials are talking about shortening the time gap between the second dose and the booster shot. there were travel restrictions on the southern african region. they've been extended. there will also be more stringent measures on the border. people coming into the uk have to take a pcr test. they'll be required now to do it within the first two days of arriving in the country and will be required to self-isolate until they receive a negative test. those with a positive test,
there will be the contact tracing and they'll be required to isolate for ten days. there are measures coming into force. we heard from the chief scientific adviser and chief medical officer calling on people to be more diligent, encouraging people to wear face masks and not be crowding in in d indoor places. during the holiday period we expect people to gather in groups, but there is concern on the pressure this will put on the health care sector. >> david, south after has put these warnings out early, but some people are saying they're being punished for doing the right thing. what are they saying? >> reporter: they say they're
being punished for accurate science. south aftrica was able to trace and figure out this variant very early on. that's still unclear 100%. there will be some -- i don't want to say eye rolling but -- soon after this announcement came up, the uk was the first country to slap these bans on southern africa and that has been extended across the globe. the people watching the show might think travel bans, that makes sense. it's something we don't know much about. on the surface it makes sense, but public health officials i've been speaking to said travel bans when they come into place, they're not strict enough perhaps and the nature of this
virus means that variants will get through and it's only just a matter of time. they question whether it's worth the punitive effect it has on economies and trade, as well as intercountry relationships. they say things the uk will do now like increase contact tracing and testing is a smart way to deal with a po tentially dangerous variant. so much is unknown. speaking to doctors working in hospitals around this area where i'm sitting, there hasn't been a rush into hospital. >> that's a good sign, but at this point we don't know. arlette, you're with the president. u.s. officials said it could be weeks before they know more about this variant. what are they doing in the
meantime? >> reporter: well, paula, president biden yesterday acknowledged there's still so much that needs to be learned about this new omicron variant. officials are saying it could be several days, several weeks before they really understand the full impact of this strain of the coronavirus. officials have been working with health officials in other countries to try to gather more information as people are trying to learn what exactly this variant holds, whether it will cause severe illness or potentially evade vaccines. the president described his approach in implementing those new travel re-vstrictions as a cautious one. they want to be careful about what is known and unknown. dr. anthony fauci talked about a bit of what they do know about this variant and also said it's a possibility it could be here in the united states. take a listen. >> so you would predict from
looking the mutations that have been identified that it likes will be more transmissible. we don't know that yet. you have to be careful and assume that's the case. >> do you believe that omicron is already here in the u.s. likely? >> you know, i would not be surprised if it is. >> reporter: now while they're waiting for more information about this variant, president biden and his team are urging and stressing the need for vaccinations and also booster shots for americans to protect themselves against the coronavirus and any other variants. bottom line, it's an incredibly tricky subject for the administration. there will be questions about whether they enact similar measures similar to what you've seen boris johnson announce today as they're trying to learn more about the variant and
curbing the spread of it. >> arlette, nada, david, thank you for your reporting and staying on top of this story. joining me now is cnn national security juliette kayhem, along with the senior director of the system wide pathogen program for new york city health. juliette, we've seen what happens when we try to enforce travel bans. this is a variant we don't know much about. why wait until monday? what's the thought process? >> implementation does matter. you have to notify airlines and airports. you have to notify the people who are traveling. they have to be able to pivot. there will be lag time. where we are right now is in a world of lots of indefinites. the tension that you're seeing
between the public health people and political decision by boris johnson or other countries is a debate between finding facts, which is always good, and buying time. i'm a little more forgiving now that there's been wave after wave. whatever we can do to buy time until we determine the extent of the transmissibility, but as importantly to the layperson, the mom and dad, and others, wondering is this the variant that's going to bypass the vaccination. that's from the nonpublic health perspective question that needs to be answered. we're seeing the tensions between weighing different priorities at this stage. i don't think anyone is right or wrong. buying time is one of the best tools we have to stop a pandemic at this stage. >> sarah, listen to something we heard earlier from dr. ashish
jha on the travel bans. >> travel bans help a little, not a lot. i think the travel ban will slow spread into america probably by a week or ten days. i'm worry about the signal it sends. we don't know if it started in south africa. they identified because they have a fabulous testing infrastructure. we don't want to create incentives against people reporting information. at most it will help on the margins, give us a few more days to prepare for what is coming. >> sarah, we know that cdc researchers found evidence that covid-19 was in the u.s. in september 2019, weeks earlier than previously thought and before wuhan had identified any cases. what are your thoughts on the effectiveness of travel bans? >> just speaking, it's not an evidence-based fact. it's more of a political
movement. it's to see if hewe can slow th spread. knowing there's probably already transmission with this variant is something we should prepare for and make sure we have a good response. i agree it's one of those double-edged swaords. you're punishing people that are doing evidence and data sharing. there's some good news here. the good news, as we talk about this variant, we can detect it through pcr testing. we're able to find out about the variant earlier on, compared to delta where it was already spreading throughout the world. as we look at vaccine effectiveness, i think our vaccines will hold up, but it's too early to tell. we've seen this with delta, they may bring it down a couple notches, but i don't think this will be the sky is falling down and we need newer vaccines. >> i certainly hope you're right. >> can i pick up on that?
>> please do. >> it's something important to hear from the medical community. for those of us just interpreting health intelligence and then we tell people what to do in terms of how to respond in a crisis, what's important while transmissibility can be bad and fast, what matters the most is can this virus or this variant escape the vaccine. i think that's really important to repeat. the transmissibility and escape are different things. in terms of how we live our lives, how we go through this -- over not just this variant, but the variants to come. we have this idea in our head this pandemic is going to end. we have to get more comfortable with the fact that there will be racheting up and racheting down and travel bans and masking requirements in certain areas. the only thing we know that works from the nonmedical
perspective is vaccine, vaccine, vaccine. more mandates, more put the pressure on, more vaccines to other country and then we begin to serve the long-term problem. >> juliette to that point, delta and united airlines are the only carriers with direct flights to south africa. neither are cutting flights to there. what is your take on that? >> i think what ends up happening is the passengers will be put in quarantine. there's this belief that what happened over the last 18 months is people weren't traveling. lots of people aren't traveling. a lot of people who were traveling were willing to do a week or two weeks for the benefit of being with family or going back home. that's likely what we're going to see. i view this travel ban as short term until we figure out --
until the science -- which is two or three weeks behind -- figures out whether it's vaccine resistant. if it's vaccine resistant, we'll be back in a place don't want to be. we just buy time at this stage from the crisis management perspective, not being a doctor. i understand the arguments. you have to extend the runway. that's all we have at this stage. >> thank you so much juliette and sarah. we appreciate your expertise. still to come, the omicron variant adds to the already full plate of problems for president biden. how the white house is handling this juggling act. plus u.s. lawmakers defy china by holding a meeting with officials in taiwan. reaction from china, ahead.
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for president biden. the dow tumbled more than 900 points driven by fears of a new covid variant. the biden administration is struggling with rising inflation, supply chain issues and tumbling poll numbers. joining me now is cnn commentator. david, good to see. >> hey, paula. >> now the president is restricting travel from south africa and seven african countries due to concerns about the new covid variant. in the last hour we heard from boris johnson who addressed the uk about his concerns and the steps he's taking to stem the spread of this variant. we heard from president biden yesterday. does he need to take a similar approach, come out and lay out his plan to respond? >> paula, i think the president does, but it's okay if he waits until monday. that sort of informal question
and answer session yesterday was good for the moment. he will need to give a more specific address as the week starts next week. the important thing i think for the administration is that they made a decisive decision here. they were a little waffly in the spring about mask guidance. in the fall there was confusion about boosters. this time, at least on the politics, the administration got it right by making a decision early on and deciding to act out of an abundance of caution. i'm not a doctor. i go with dr. lena wen who tweeted basically this is an unfortunate step, but a step needed out of an abundance of caution. >> we just opened our doors after a year of travel lockdowns and now they could be back in place. politically how do you see the confidence in how the biden
administration is handling this pandemic? even over the past 48 hours, how do you see this playing out politically? some of our experts have said the travel bans are more about politics than public health policy. >> i heard dr. jha say it only reduces spread on the margins. on the politics and in terms of leadership this is the move they have to make to act out of an abundance of caution, even if it only helps on the margins. they have to get the public's confidence going into the winter season they have a handle on the omicron variant and any uptick in cases. we're getting close to 70% of age 12 and up vaccinated. we need to get closer to 80%. maybe we'll get there now that children 5-12 are getting vaccinated. the administration has done all they can do.
it's about making decisions in a timely way and communicating clearly to the public even if every move is not what people want to do in terms of getting life back to some sort of normal. >> while they don't know that much about this variant, the one thing we keep hearing from public health officials is that folks need to get vaccinated. despite mandates, the plea for americans to get vaccinated. there's a large swath of the public who are neglecting to get vacc vaccinated. what can the biden administration do to help getting people to get the shot? >> paula, you have that sort of you're not the boss of me contingent that have kept the vaccination rates down. the federal government can't really implement anymore mandates. at this point it's about showing
they have a firm hand on what comes next. hopefully with children 5-12 getting vaccinated and showing people 12 and up that vaccines are working, that probably will get their numbers up to 80 and hopefully 90% in terms of overall vaccinations in this country. >> another big issue touching most u.s. households, the price of gas. the biden administration is releasing 50 million gallons of oil from the nation's stockpile. it's supposed to help lower the price of gas. what do you make of this move? we hear mixed things from experts about whether this is the right step. >> i think it's fine the president did this to show he's being proactive about gas prices. as many economists have said, it's a literal drop in the bucket. the u.s. consumes millions of barrels of oil a day.
this is 50 million barrels. it's not going to fundamentally change the oil supply and it's not going to put pressure on the oil exporting countries, especially saudi arabia to increase production. it's fine to do it, but it's not going to solve the problem. president biden probably needs to find ways to put pressure on those oil exporting countries that have nothing to do with releasing our own supply. >> holiday shopping season is under way. we have supply chain issues, rises prices. shoppers can expect to pay more. how concerned should the white house about these troubling economic signs? >> i was in long beach visiting family and i could see those ships out there on the horizon waiting to be unloaded. it was quite a sight to see. on the other hand, they've got to deal with this supply chain issue. it has to be an all hands to the
pump solution. right now at least in the short term they can rely on some good economic indicators. unemployment is below 5%. the stock market took a beating wednesday. overall it's been pretty steady during president biden's first year. the administration has to get their arms around the policy. figure out what's going to happen with inflation and how that's going to affect interest rates and communicate to the american public what it wants to do over the next year. have a plan and communicate it. >> david, thank you so much. appreciate it. >> thanks, paula. another likely add to the president's long list of challenges, rising tensions with china. that story ahead.
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a group of u.s. lawmakers are meeting with officials in taiwan. it comes as tensions between taiwan and china are rising to levels not seen in decades. the side trip came after the group met with troops after thanksgiving in south korea. danielle, what has been china's reaction to this side trip? >> reporter: once the chinese embassy found out they were taking this trip to taiwan, the congresswoman from michigan
tweeted she got a message from the chinese embassy. she said my office received a blunt message from the chinese embassy telling me to call off the trip. the auto industry's largest supplier of microchips is in taiwan. supply chain issues are on the aye ag agenda. taiwan holds a position in the d deteriorating relationship between beijing and washington. beijing sees the island as a part of its territory. the news of this trip came a day after the biden administration extended an invitation to taiwan for its summit for democracy which will take place next month which the chinese government dubbed a, quote, mistake that he did that. this group of four democrats and one lone republican was led by
the house veteran affairs chairman. they felt it was important to visit taiwan because of their critical rule as a global semi conductor supply chain. taiwan is in the middle of this fraught relationship between washington and beijing. beijing did not see this visit as a welcome visit considering their relationship. paula? >> danielle, thank you very much. joining me now is a former senior advise for for the state department and a professor at georgetown university. is it important for u.s. lawmakers to be making these trip ts to taiwan? >> whether or not it's important right now, i think it's
important for u.s. lawmakers, those who represent the people of the united states, certainly to meet with taiwanese counter parts. as was mentioned, taiwan is frankly the global producer of semi conductor chips. this is a crucial issue in the global economy and is affecting every single american life. this is in the interest of the united states and u.s. lawmakers have the right to visit taiwan if they so choose. >> we know china has been doing military fly overs of taiwan in recent weeks. is there a danger here of an unintended conflict breaking out? >> this has always been the danger. we're reminded of the taiwan missile crisis in the 1990s. look, if there is miscalculation
it would be one of china's own making. let's also be clear, number one, these are standard chinese maneuvers. secondly i don't think the u.s. government representatives or americans for that matter necessarily have to bow down to what chinese demands are. it's very clear that china -- well, china is making demands not just on the united states, but on any other country in the world, does not recognize taiwan. i don't think that's acceptable to most countries. in fact, two weeks ago the europeans are clearly also proceeding with engaging with taiwan in a manner that is actually historic. even the europeans are no longer willing to stay on the sidelines. >> the u.s. keeps trying to walk this fine line. they recognize the one china policy, but also maintain
relationships with taiwan. how long can the u.s. keep doing it this way? >> i think it's really up to china to decide how long it wants to continue to have everything, in other words, demand what it wants from the world, but also to participate in the global economy and to demand that it has a proper place among the global players and really be a global leader if it continues to behave in a manner that frankly most other countries in a global society simply won't accept. i don't think it's really a matter that the united states and other countries have to play china's game. i think perhaps we ought to reshift the entire debate. >> speaking of china's game, earlier china downgraded its diplomatic relationships with lithuania after taiwan opened an em
embassy there. what type of resistance are they meeting? >> this is the kind of pressure china has been putting on, essential as its power has grown over the decades. we know this blew up just last week with this tennis star on the global stage. suddenly this became one of the biggest international sports issues. this is an issue that has been simmering for decades. we can now look at international crises around the world. right now there's one going on in the solomon islands. it has to do with china's control and its attempt to try and control what other countries in the world and their relationships with taiwan. this battle among the citizens of the solomon islands is about their displeasure about the central government's decision a number of years ago to switch
its diplomatic recognition to china. this is very much china's attempt to pressure every country around the world to recognize it instead of taiwan. >> thank you so much. truly appreciate it. >> thank you. be sure to join fareed zakaria for his special "china's iron fist." it starts tomorrow at 9:00. [uplifting music playing]
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turn at two shopping centers. authorities say a shooter in durham, north carolina, injured three people and three others were hurt during the evacuation. one person was detained. in tacoma, washington, one person was hospitalized after a shooting. police are still searching for a suspect. a home depot in california was also hit friday. police say the suspects made off with hammers, crow bars and other tools. it's the latest in a brazen string of thefts targeting retail stores across the country. paula sandoval joins me now. you hear this and i can't help but think about the people who work in these stores. you go to the stores and you're worried about shootings, covid and mall violence. what type of effects are these
robberies having on workers and shoppers? >> reporter: many are these broad daylight smash and grabs that end up in scary moments for everyone. it's not lost on investigators that what was stolen in home depot were many of the tools that these individuals are using for the smash and grabs. across the country authorities are on a higher alert, increasing their numbers especially in california and the san francisco bay area where police are increasing their presence there. whether it's having an impact on shoppers, really look at fifth avenue right now. there's no shortage of foot traffic. stores are packed. then you also look at the numbers that are coming from some of the industry experts showing they're going to be roughly 158 million shoppers
making some of those holiday buys by the time cyber monday comes around. a majority of those are turning to in-person shopping experiences to get their goods. why you may ask? there's that lingering fear of supply chain shortages. there are a lot of shoppers out there, especially those who have saved during the pandemic. they would like to spend, but they're also worried their gifts won't make it to their destinations in time. they're making their way out to some of the stores. as we heard from the head of the national retail federation, he's confident that the big box retailers have loaded up on inventory ahead of the holiday shopping season. that organization is confident they'll be able to have those goods that consumers are looking for. it's more of those small mom and pops that may get hit hard this holiday season, those that are lower on the list of priorities
when it comes to manufacturers that are providing the goods. that's obviously why today is certainly in place here, where they're encouraging consumers to turn to small businesses. whether you head to your neighborhood store or fifth avenue, it's clear americans will certainly be spending roughly $843 billion this holiday season. that's according to industry experts. >> that's a fascinating report. thank you for that. supply chain issues driving people out to shop this year despite the other issues they may face. thank you so much. it may be a year away, but republicans are confident they will take back the house in the midterms. how much of a role could redirecting, the redrawing of congressional maps play? cnn breaks it down next. boss. re thr's new mucinex instasoothe.
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gerrymandering, when politicians manipulate congressional district boundaries to favor one party over another happens every ten years in united states. cnn takes a closer look at how some stays are redrawing their maps this time around and what it means for the 2022 midterms. >> we are roughly halfway through the redistricting process. when we look at it nationally, it appears republicans will make what we should expect to be some gains before voting even occurs. the reason i say we should expect it is because republicans control more state legislatures and more governors officers. while not every state uses those people to draw the lines in each
congressional district, the vast majority still do. let's look at a few states where each party has moved their partisan advantage. in illinois, one of the very few states where democrats control the whole process, new york is the other big one. in illinois, democrats have pushed the envelope. the state is slated to lose a seat population grew slower than the national average. they will lose a seat. their delegation will shrink down. as a result, democrats have really tried to put republicans in difficult places. particularly, in down state illinois. that's the place are lots of republicans are going to be forced into tough choices of whether they run or they don't run or they run in other district. the map that republicans drew is very aggressive and really trying to drive down democratic
gains in the state. barack obama won the state yes but state is generally speaking but republican state, including two wins for donald trump. already we have seen some impact from this map drawing. gk butterfield who will is a democratic member of congress said he's not running again because hi district went from safely democratic to a toss up. wo we'll see what other decisions get made there. two states to look at. two big ones. one is florida. this is state that republicans control all the mechanisms of redistricting. we expect them to sure up the gains they made in south florida in the 2020 election. make those districts a little more solid. maybe go after seat like charlie crist. he's running for governor in the 13th district. val demmings is run for the senate. then there's california. california is the largest delegation in the country.
the largest state by population in the country and has not been all that competitive. they have an independent redistricting commission. no politicians at all. they are not supposed to look at incumbency as a factor in drawing lines. why is that important? you draw the lines and put incumbents where ever you want. it doesn't mean we protect incumbents. we can get a bunch in a bunch of different places. that state because it's california, there's so many congressional districts is one other to watch. this is a process most people don't pay much attention to. it's down the radar but it's a process that matters as we go forward. >> thank you very much. we're following breaking news out of the uk where there's two confirmed case offense the new variant. live to london just ahead.
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>> my name is sam. >> i'm winter. our business is third culture ba bakery. >> it's my favorite. >> sam wanted to make pastries from his childhood and i wanted to use ingrediented from my childhood in taiwan. it's sam's creation and that comes from a pas pastry that he made growing up with mom in indonesia. we started one oven and now we have a 3,000 square foot kitchen. we have one location in berkeley and a cafe in denver. we just opened a store. >> i came out do my parents. they just did not accept me for who i am. when i first publicly shared that part of me, so many people came up to me and said i'm in the same boat. i'm glad you have created this bakery and this space so people
know we're enough. so many asian gay kids and just gay kids in general that still are in a position that they're not accepted by their families. >> third culture bakery was started by two men who fall in love and whether you come in for that or just for a muffin, you're leaving with a piece of our love story. thanks for joining me. breaking news, officials in germany have identified two cases of an alarming new covid var variant. it follows a similar announcement from the uk a few hours ago. the british prime minister held an emergency press conference where he gave this sobering warning. >> it does appear that omicron spreads very rapidly and can be spread between people who are double