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tv   New Day With John Berman and Brianna Keilar  CNN  November 29, 2021 5:00am-6:00am PST

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who don't have a voice. so many people are struggling right now. there are so many people who become political prisoners because of what they say, what they think, what they tweet, so to me, it was important bringing awareness to all those people, not just in turkey or china, but all over the world. it was important to bring awareness and to be the voice. to me it's definitely my life mission. >> well, look, on behalf of the american people, your people and let me say we're lucky to have you, mr. freedom. welcome. >> thank you guys so much. i appreciate it. >> and j >> enjoy the cupcakes. "new day" continues right now. good morning to our viewers in the united states and all around the world. i'm john berman with brianna keilar. it is monday, november 29th. major breaking developments around the world as nation after nation takes action against the new highly mutated omicron covid
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variant. it's hard to tell what's spreading faster this morning, the variant or dpfear. is it more contagious, is it more lethal? does it evade vaccines? it will take weeks to get answers. overnight, the united states banned entry for non-citizen travelers from south africa and seven neighboring countries. at least 44 other countries are also imposing travel restrictions. japan, israel and morocco have suspended all arrivals of foreign nationals, basically shutting down their borders. a growing number of countries reporting confirmed cases of the omicron variant, including canada. >> the variant has not been detected in the u.s. yet. we say yet because health officials say it may already be here. the cdc is currently sequencing coronavirus genomes, working closely with state health officials. south african epidemiologist is aleem abdul karim talked about
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what they're seeing there. >> based on the current evidence in south africa, it's transmitting faster than the delta variant and the overlap with the beta variant some evidence of immune escape from antibodies. the clinical is just basic with covid, nothing different. the second is that what they are seeing are largely younger people, but that's to be expected, because we have much higher vaccine coverage in the older people. we have a much lower vaccine coverage in younger people, so that's just to be expected. >> now this morning, president biden will be briefed by his white house covid team, then he will deliver an update on the omicron variant to the country. with more on all of this, let's bring in michael ostorholm, from the university of minnesota. doctor, thank you so much for being with us. look, i know this is going to take time to figure out how
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transmissible this is, how aggressive it may or may not be, whether this can get past vaccines. what is going into determining that? >> well, i think the most important thing to put out here is that, yes, we shouldn't be fearful of this, and i hear people talk about panic, but we should be very concerned. what's happened here has not previously happened within the covid pandemic, and that is we're seeing a variant that has the capability of high transmissibility, it's readily transmitted and that has been the variant that ultimately wins the dipping of the hill for the viruses as delta replaced alpha, which replaced previous strains, but now also we're seeing mutations that we're also seeing in previous variants that did have an impact on immune escape, whether or not the vaccine's protected as well, whether or not previous infection immunity protected as well, and now they're linked into one virus, and so it's very likely that
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we're going to see in the days ahead that the omicron virus is going to ultimately be the new king of the hill and in fact it will bring with it this ability to potentially impact an immune response. so you're right. we won't know this for several weeks. studies are ongoing right now, but new data we've gotten out of south africa in the last 12 hours is concerning, showing we're starting to see a rise in hospitalizations, and we are starting to see more serious illness manifest in people who have been infected with this virus. >> so how should americans be thinking about vaccines and about boosters for their vaccine? >> i can't emphasize this enough but this is something we've been saying over and over again, it's a broken record. first of all, for those who have not yet been vaccinated, remember only 59% of americans have been vaccinated to date. number two, we're actually growing a higher risk of the problems with not being vaccinated today because 125 million americans have now gone
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beyond the six-month period of when they were first vaccinated, and they're eligible for boosters. of those 125 million, only 37 million received their booster, so now each day they grow more likely to potentially get infected. and so we've got to get people boosted also. we know that from the previous studies with looking at the variants i mentioned that weren't as infectious but had the immune capability we did see reductions how well the vaccines worked. one thing appeared to be the case they did prevent serious illness and hospitalizations at a high rate. so getting vaccinated against delta which is still rearing its ugly head in this country in a big way will help cess us up to do whatever we can to reduce the omicron risk in addition. >> let's talk about local public health officials should be doing. for instance, i'm here in washington, d.c., which lifted its indoor mask mandate last week. we've seen at least one community that borders
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washington, d.c., reverse course on that saying look, obviously it's not the time to do that. what do you think about those indoor mask mandates being lifted? >> well, we have to keep emphasizing that the delta variant is here. it is causing major challenges. here i sit in the upper midwest where we've seen tremendous increases in cases over the past six weeks. you're part of a northeastern, southeastern combination, where we're now beginning to see cases rise substantially in the far northeast and some potential hint of it may even start to increase in the southern states. as of this week, 32 states have had increases in cases in the last 14 days. 14 states have had a 20% increase or more in cases in the last two weeks. and so we have to keep going after vaccine. we need to keep reminding people that the close contacts indoors without masks put them at increased risk for delta, something we can't forget about, and so we want to be done with this pandemic as a population,
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but the virus isn't done with us yet and i think that's the challenge we have is seeing these very large numbers of cases and we are going to see bumps after thanksgiving and christmas and people have to just be mindful of that. >> what do you think about these travel bans? the u.s. as well as other countries putting bans on south africa as well as some neighboring countries. good idea? bad idea? >> i understand initially it was really an attempt to slow down the likelihood of transmission around the world, but as you've already seen, we have at least 17 countries already reporting cases. i suspect within the end of this week, we can get that number well over 40 and at some point you have to say are we going to ban travel with every other country in the world? i think the bans will be released or relaxed. what we have to put in place, however, is a much more efficient testing program and follow-up for people who are going from one country to the other, but it won't be long here we'll be seeing sustained and
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potentially very serious transmission issues here in this country, and the question would be should other countries ban our travel from here to their country and i think ultimately these bans will be relaxed. >> all right, we'll be watching that. sir, thank you so much for being with us. >> thank you. >> i think a lot of people are confused and it's helpful to have your expertise. >> thank you. an american family says they're now stuck in south africa, just as this travel ban takes effect for the new coronavirus variant. joining me from johannesburg, lauren kennedy and her daughter riley campbell. what's happening here? you were in south africa on this long-awaited family vacation. then what? >> well, we've been waiting to be on this vacation since april 2020, was when it was originally scheduled and so covid happened and so we're book-ending it with covid obviously and we flew in from zambia, our final leg of
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our trip, and on the ground just cnn reports came through on my phone and text messages from my husband about this new variant and travel bans and the uk shutting down and so by the time we got into the terminal it was already frenzied and panicked and everybody trying to rebook their flights, et cetera. so we were swept up in the confusion. >> so you were at the airport in south africa when you got the news. you immediately tried to rebook and get out, and how hard has it been to find a way to get out? >> well, it's been really hard. we've probably, what, riley, had about ten flights booked either canceled or that we were not allowed to board the flight because most of the flights that come from johannesburg go through europe and those bans were coming in like hour by hour, day by day, that each country was closing its borders to anybody who didn't hold a european passport. i will say that we are, fingers crossed, we do have flights
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tonight going out directly to america, so you know, again, things are changing minute by minute, so we're just trying to be calm, trying to be patient and be grateful that we're together. >> yes. >> and that we're safe and we're healthy, we have our negative covid tests we took yesterday. we're all vaccinated, and we've been holing up in this hotel room for the last how many, three days, so we're just grateful to be together. >> riley, what was it like at the airport once you realized what was going on? could you visibly tell that there was this heightened level of anxiety? >> i think, yes, kind of right when we got off the plane we saw people scattering to figure out what to do. us trying to be optimistic, we were like no, it's okay. it will be fine. we'll get on a plane, and then as hours went on, we kind of realized that that wasn't going to happen. but yeah, people were, there was long lines in air france, which
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we were supposed to be going to paris, so there was a lot of people in line scrambling, trying to figure out what was going on and no one was really answering. >> nobody had any information. nobody really knew. >> lauren, what's the level of communication been from the u.s. embassy or american officials in south africa? >> well, you know, of course this happened on a weekend, of all weekends, a holiday weekend, so it's been pretty tricky. we haven't been able to talk to anybody at the consulate or embassy in south africa. we've had a number of supportive friends in america and some people within the government who have been sort of giving us tips and being really helpful about what to expect and how to anticipate the next few days, so yeah. we're just really putting one foot in front of the other right now and hopefully we'll be able to get on these flights tonight. >> just finally, riley, everyone's healthy, right? you guys have been tested, healthy, you're feeling good? >> yes, we feel great.
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just been in this hotel, though, we're very lucky to be safe and healthy. >> it's true. we spent the last 12 days outside on safari and taking in this beautiful country and you know, so we've had two negative tests in the last three days, we're vaccinated, i'm boosted, along with my mom, who has got a bad knee, and of course that's been sort of the tricky part of this whole experience as well, and my niece fiona, we're good, healthy and ready to be home with the rest of our family. >> knock on wood, i hope this flight tonight works out for you. i know how hard it can be once there is this mass wave to get out of the country. >> we hope everybody else in the airport can get on their flights. a lot of people are stuck and stranded and our hearts go out to everyone experiencing this now. >> hang in there. nice to see you, lauren kennedy and riley campbell. thank you very much. so why prosecutors are
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accusing steve bannon of trying to turn his criminal case into a media circus. good-bye to the monarchy. why one nation is cutting ties with the queen in a rare move and what ancient secrets to an 800-year-old mummy hold? we'll have the stunning discovery ahead. next up, carvana. oh, boy. carvana just doesn't seem to understand howw the test drive works. they give their customers seven days. and if they don't like it, they give 'em their money back. wait, they take the e car back? that's's crazy! what if it was driven by like a zookeeper? or a mud wrestler? or a guy who's on the outs with the missus and he just needs a place to sleep for seven days? yeah. (vo) buy your car online. love it or return it. with carvana. this is the planning effect. if you ask suzie about the future, she'll say she's got goals. and since she's got goals, she might need help reaching them,
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♪ ♪ cases of anxiety in young adults are rising as experts warn of the effects on well-being caused by the pandemic. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ new this morning, the justice department is pushing back on ex-trump adviser steve
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bannon's request to publicize the evidence against him. prosecutors now accuse him of attempting to try his criminal contempt of congress case through the media instead of court. joining me is dave rothkopf host of the deep state radio podcast. you've got a piece out in "the beast" which focuses on something related to this but not the same thing, you'd like to see the justice department moving much more quickly and going after big fish in terms of the insurrection. "by failing to hold trump and company accountable garland will continue unabated to turn the u.s. into a one-party state which only republicans can win elections and any tactics to holdon to power will be validated by the inaction of garland and his doj." explain to me who exactly you want the justice department to be going after right now. >> first of all, it's not that i want them to move more quickly. it's that i want them to move
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quickly enough. i think the clock is ticking. i think if we get to the election next year and there hasn't been clear action and the republicans win, they'll get rid of the january 6th committee. i think as we move towards 2024, the ability to prosecute a case that's got such political component's going to become much more difficult. so we've got a limited amount of time and furthermore, by not taking action against the coup plotters, trump, the people around him, the people who funded this we are enabling the people supporting them, which is really the whole gop leadership to essentially say this isn't real. it's not a real thing and that enables the big lie to continue. >> the justice department in moving against the former president, i'm not aware there's any active criminal investigation into him for what he did. >> well, yesterday adam schiff said in one of the sunday shows he doesn't think there is one and the fbi director said he
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doesn't think there is one and yet, this is the man who oversaw it, this is the man who incited the people to move. this is the man cited by the people who stormed the capitol for being the reason to do it, and so clearly he's at the center of this, and if we don't go after the people who plotted the coup, planned the coup attempt and who actually funded it, then what's the point? we're just going after foot soldiers? >> that's what i'm going at here. you were saying in this piece, not just that you would like to see garland moving quickly enough. you think he should be prosecuting the president and who else? former president? >> i think whomever was responsible for planning this, whether it was the president, people around the president, whoever was responsible for funding this, whoever was responsible for inciting this, and that could include members of congress, you know, we have josh harley giving the thumbs up to the crowd as they stormed the capitol, the day before ted cruz -- >> you want him prosecuted for
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that? >> if, in fact t is provable what they did led to an insurrection against the united states, the only instance in u.s. history of unpeaceful transfer of power, then i think they should be prosecuted for it. i should add that the peace was also about the fact that mueller identified a dozen cases of obstruction of justice of trump and there has been no motion on that. trump was named in a case for which michael cohen went to jail. there has been no prosecution of that, and so i think we're setting a precedent that continues the past four years, which says the president of the united states is above the law, and i think that's a very dangerous precedent especially if that gentleman comes back in 2024 and sees this as a free pass. >> i guess do you know of any specific crimes committed by
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specific people surrounding the president? >> specific crimes in terms of -- well, i mean, this attempt to storm the capitol didn't come out of nowhere. the president said, there were meetings that took place, the president incited it on his twitter account. the president went to a rally and said go and send a message to congress. people around him helped bus people into this thing. people around him, roger stone, other kinds of people, met with the oathkeepers and other groups. i think we need to know what these people did, but i think the whole panaplea of trump and those close to him, goes back to 2016 and the mueller report needs to be addressed or we are a country which we are saying someone is above the law, the president of the united states. merrick garland has in one
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instance taken the side of trump and the presidency saying that it was okay that he was acting within his official duties when he defamed e. jean carroll accused president trump of rape. >> david, thank you for coming in. nice to see you in person. >> nice to see you. the former british colony about to ditch queen elizabeth as its head of state. the woman accused of helping jeffrey epstein recruit and abuse his victims, what to expect as ghislaine maxwell's sex trafficking trial starts just minutes from now. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪
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after four centuries barbados is removing queen elizabeth as head of state tonight. sandra mason, the country's 73-year-old governor-general will be sworn in as the first ever president of the island nation and prince charles is there in barbados for the
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transition. max foster joins us live from bar barbados. this is big news with friendliness i would say since prince charles will be there. >> reporter: absolutely, 55 years ago the island became independent from the united kin kingdom. this is the island breaking that last formal tie to its colonial past. that's very much the debate that we hear here. if you imagine, you know, there was inevitability, i think in this island becoming a republic. everyone is supportive of it, but it was the black lives matter movement that added momentum to that push. i think that's really what today is about. there's some concern about prince charles coming here, people saying it's inappropriate. some concern about the fact that the president wasn't elected by the people, just appointed by the parliament but generally a huge amount of excitement about this moment and not just in barbados. republican movements around the world hoping in australia, for example, that australians will look at this example and also remove the queen of head of state of australia.
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14 countries outside the uk still have the queen as head of state and the palace simply saying this is a choice for the barbadian people. midnight the island will transition from a royal realm to a republic, and it was the 1620s that the brits first arrived here, made huge fortunes on the sugar trade and the slave trade and this is about breaking that history and renewing the island's independence. we'll wait to see what happens later on with the celebrations. >> it's going to be something to see. berman? >>ing it to see is the beach where max is standing. i will say that. max, this is a crucial time for the crown over the next several years. we see a lot of these realms asking these questions, not just barbados. it's jamaica, canada, it's australia, countries that think it might be time to move on. >> reporter: yes, and you go to australia and jamaica in
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particular and very strong republican movements. what you do experience, we had these conversations with people, there's a real commitment to the queen personally, and people don't want to oust the queen. i think that's why prince charles is here today. i think the big question for the royal family is when prince charles is king and whether or not there's the same commitment to him personally, and wanting to have him as head of state. i think a lot of these places, they wouldn't invent the monarchy today but it's about how you replace that monarchy, how you replace the queen and it's interesting, we're going to speak to sandra mason hopefully later on. it's a big thing, isn't it, how do you replace the queen? she's got that duty here but got full support, that's what i'm finding. >> quite a racket max is running there on the beach in barbados. not bad. >> thanks, max. so a team of archaeologists unearthing a mummy in peru estimated to be at least 800
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years old. researchers have reason to believe the mummy may not have been just an ordinary citizen. pat patrick oppmann with the latest. >> reporter: a discovery by archaeologists of a mummy in peru, believed to be 800 and 1,200 years old, found tied with ropes and hands covering its face, what is believed to be a common southern peruvian funeral burial customs. now these researcher also be ka a carrying out specialized testing including carbon dating to narrow down when this person lived and more details about their identity. >> thanks to patrick oppmann. matthew mcconaughey made a major career decision, what he says about a possible run for governor in texas. and the all tdeaf football team defying the odds and playing for a championship. t, w,
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protection. the sex trafficking trial of ghislaine maxwell begins in new york with jury selection. maxwell is accused of grooming girls for sex with her former partner the late jeffrey epstein. she's pleaded not guilty to all charges. a 26-year-old man is found alive inside the landing gear of an american airlines plane at miami international airport on saturday. the flight was traveling from guatemala to miami and u.s. customs says he's been taken to a local hospital for assessment. matthew mcconaughey announced he is not running for governor of texas. in a video message on twitter, we'll focus on the private sector. mcconaughey is not ruling out a future bid for office calling it a humbling and inspiring path to ponder. ♪ i left my heart in san francisco ♪ >> tony bennett in a moving final concert.
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the tv special was filmed in august, one last time and evening with tony bennett and lady gaga. bennett and his family revealed he is suffering from alzheimer's. >> that was great. ♪ to be where -- ♪ >> those are the five things to know. more on the stories at cnn and cnn.com and download the 5 things podcast, go to cnn.com/5things. the transportation security administration reports air travel hit a new pandemic high as people return from the thanksgiving holiday. the agency screened more than 2.4 million people sunday, that is more than double the number that they saw on that same day last year. cnn's pete muntean live at reagan national airport with more. that is a lot of people and probably telling us something about what the christmastime is going to look like as well. >> reporter: brianna, the numbers are huge. no major issues at the airline like were feared going into this
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holiday. look at the numbers, 2.45 million people screened at airports across the country just yesterday, a new record of the pandemic. the previous record set the wednesday before thanksgiving, that's about 85% of where we were back in 2019, when 2.88 million people were screened the sunday after thanksgiving so the numbers keep going up and up. the sunday after thanksgiving 2019 is the all-time air travel record, all of this means about 20 million people in total. it was a lot of concern airlines couldn't handle the onslaught of people. airlines got smaller during the pandemic, major scheduled meltdowns in october at american and southwest airlines but coughed up extra money for the flight crews paying time and a half to flight attendants. no major weather issues over the holiday weekend as well. all of this amounts to about 83 cancellations according to
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flight aware nationwide. now all of the attention turns to the winter holidays and omicron's impact on all of this. travel restrictions just went into place today for those coming into the u.s. from south africa and seven other countries, so we'll have to wait and see how that plays out, brianna. >> we should know more in the coming couple of weeks. pete, thank you so much for that report. president biden addressing the nation this morning on the new coronavirus variant. we'll have live coverage here on cnn. and the deaf football team inspiring fans and trouncing opponents.
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time for "the good stuff."
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this is beyond good. there are some good football games this weekend including alabama's win in four overtimes and michigan's historic win over rival ohio state but perhaps no game as meaningful and special as the one that nick watt went to in california. nick joins us now. nick, this is just a lovely story. >> reporter: it is, john. this is a team entirely made up of deaf students, their coaching staff entirely deaf and this was the finale to really what has already been an extraordinary season for these guys. this was the championship game of the southern california high school eight-man football league, eight-man because these schools are small. this school is the california school for the deaf in riverside and the team is the cubs. the cubs in their school 68-year history have never ever not even
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once made it to a championship game. and here they are. their opponents faith baptist have won this southern california championship about a dozen times in their history. they're good. tickets for this blockbuster game sold out in 45 minutes. they had to move it to a nearby high school, bigger bleachers, to seat the growing fan base. many of them are standing. >> today is the biggest crowd i've ever seen. it is just, because you have not only people that come to this school, but deaf people from different schools. whenever there's a deaf event, people just want to be there. >> reporter: now, we caught up with the cubs for the midweek
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team talk. >> great job. >> reporter: and practice. the voice you'll hear is a sign language interpreter. >> translator: we're making history here, and if we do lose, i'm incredibly proud of this team. if we win the championship game, that would just be that much more awesome. >> reporter: here is the already awesome back story. the csdr cubs in the past lost a lot. >> translator: the team stunk, quite honestly. csdr were often viewed as kind of the laughing stock, right. we're always going to have these lousy seasons but this has not been the case this season. >> reporter: first game, 68-0 victory. yep, that's a 6. this is not a well-funded fancy pants program. why are you guys doing so well? what's the secret? >> translator: we practiced strong and worked together and got this sense of brotherhood amongst us. we're a family. >> reporter: next up, the
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drubbing and then a shellacking. their season so far? 12-0. you're not just a good deaf football team. you're a good football team. >> translator: exactly right. exactly right. we've played against other good teams, let me say, but we just keep beating them. >> reporter: back at the championship game, second quarter, the cubs are down 28-0. oh, boy. >> translator: typically for our games, we are winning by a pretty, 20, 30-point margin by halftime and this is definitely a very different vibe. >> reporter: and then hook and ladder play sparks a startling rally. suddenly it's 28-22. the crowd's going nuts. how do the players feed off that? with their eyes. >> translator: during your breaks, during halftime you look around, they're cheering, their
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hands are waving in the air. you see their energy and that's just, that feels so good. >> reporter: the cubs average winning margin this season nearly 50 points. have you yourself scored any touchdowns this year? >> translator: more than 15. i lost count. >> reporter: [ laughs ] nice. these kids were already confident. they didn't need this historic run to prove their worth in the world, but some opponents underestimated them. badly. >> translator: i think they do dismiss us oftentimes, they think we're a deaf school, no big deal. it's a lesson deaf people out there in other programs can do better than they are doing. >> reporter: back to the championship game, halftime, valencia touchdown king is iced, out. kadem adams is limping, the coach's son and his brother,
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starting quarterback trevon takes a hit. his night is over. the limping caden has to take his spot. now to many of us, football game sounds like this. for these kids, well, turn off the sound. that could be a disadvantage. they make it an advantage. >> translator: during the game, we're able to throw up exact plays hearing teams don't understand what our plays are, what's being shared on the field. >> translator: tree is the part of the play is tree. watch the ball. watch the ball. >> translator: this is our first language, this is our native language. we're using our native language on the field. visual acuity is more alert than your hearing opponents typically so we use it as an advantage,
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yeah. >> reporter: to go from laughing stock to media darling, moving merch. >> translator: tv producers, movie producers reaching out to us. it's endless. definitely feels like we reached celebrity status. >> translator: i don't think the media and everything is getting to their head. they're just focused on the game. >> reporter: but with two key cubs stars sidelined, those burrly faith baptist boys proved too much. a second half blowout. the cubs destroyed. they weren't in this for a heartwarming story about deaf kids against the odds. they were in this to win. >> translator: and i'm very proud. they defeated us? yes, but they've taught us a lesson. that means that the expectation is going to be higher next year. >> reporter: get this, there
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were only two seniors on this cubs team. next year maybe, just maybe. and you saw the coaches there, clearly so proud of their team at the end, but during that little huddle, they also started talking about next season. one of the coaches says "i want you guys to be benching 200 pounds before next season begins" and the head coach there called this just a glitch in the cubs' story. guys? >> all because of the hook and ladder, the comeback because of the hook and ladder. what a wonderful story, nick, and also you're such a brilliant storyteller. i just hope that they have taken a moment to be proud of themselves for what they accomplished. >> reporter: i'm sure they will. but listen, as i said at the end of that story, they weren't in this for the heartwarming story. they were in this as football players to win. the fact that they were deaf,
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the fact they are deaf is an aside and another interesting thing one of the parents told me after the game. she said, we heard analysts talking about the brotherhood, the family this team's created. one of the mothers said sometimes if a child is born deaf and the parents are not deaf and the parents don't speak american sign language, can't do american sign language, that child can feel slightly isolated. they go to a deaf school, they join a deaf football team and that then really does become so much more of a family, because they can communicate so freely with each other as you and i do through speaking, because we are hearing people. this was beautiful. the school was inspired. the community was inspired as one of the mothers said. deaf people were coming from other schools around the state, even from out of state to watch this game. it meant so much for them as deaf footballers but also as footballers. guys? >> nick, in any other state, this would be a state championship game, right? because california is just so
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huge, this may be the southern section, but this is representing such a vast area. it's a huge accomplishment. >> reporter: totally. in fact, there was some talk of that after the game. we were like listen, this is still huge. this is southern california but yeah, california is 40 million people. and again, remember, in 68 years, they've never even made it to the championship game. the coach said at the start of the season he knew that this was a good bunch of players. he didn't know quite how good they were and it is extraordinary also that there were two seniors on the team, jory valencia we were talking to, he's a sophomore, 6'2". when we saw the faith baptist team come on, you could see, they were big, i would imagine, i don't know, i'm not casting any aspersions but a lot of them were seniors, so this team that has played together a lot for many years as they've come up
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through the grades, next year they really hope that they can take it all the way, and i don't know. i mean, i certainly would not bet against them. >> sign me up for season tickets. i want to be there for this. what a wonderful story. the part that got me when they described looking into the crowd and seeing everyone cheering with their arms raised, and how much that meant, so that's what we're doing now, standing up and cheering for them so they can see it. thank you so much for that wonderful story. >> reporter: thanks, guys. so what do scientists know so far about the new coronavirus variant that has already led to the new travel bans? we have key cnn coverage ahead. and just in to cnn, the first lady revealing this year's holiday theme at the white house. we'll have more on that next. ♪ ♪
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so just in to cnn, first lady jill biden revealing the white house holiday theme, cnn's kate bennett live at the white house. kate, what is it? >> the theme is gifts from the heart, john, and this year, jill biden wanted to reflect unity, the things that bring us together, lots of the trees had nods to first responders, front line workers, families, basically giving thanks for the things that she feels the pandemic has taken away, things people need to remember.
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jill biden is going to thank the volunteers, the hundred or so volunteers who came to decorate the white house later this afternoon in person. basically felt like more subdued white house holiday decoration than in years past. of course we are coming out of this pandemic, we hope and the bidens wanted to reflect that thankfulness they're feeling, the gratitude. there will be no controversial red trees, let's put it that way. there's nothing in the decorations that's going to really cause a massive amount of conversation, but jill biden was very much involved. she picked the theme, she picked some of the ornaments. she decided she wanted to hang stockings with her grandkids' names on the hearth in the state dining room and placed the final person in front of the ginger bread setting in front of a school house, it was a teacher, of course she's a teacher so she is very hands-on, very involved. white house still closed to
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visitors but we anticipate it opening up to see the holiday decorations. >> that would be amazing. do we know anything about the ornaments? sometimes they're fun or come from particular kids. >> reporter: they're made from all over. there are thousands of ornaments on the trees. a lot of them from the archives and hand selected by jill biden yourself. >> thank you so much, kate bennett. cnn's coverage continues right now. good monday morning. i'm erica hill. >> and i'm jim sciutto. happening now experts are trying to learn more about the new coronavirus variant known as omicron. these are the three big outstanding questions this morning and going forward. first one, is it more transmissible? second, is it more dangerous but also this, how much do existing vaccines protect against it? we should be clear here, we don't know the answers

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