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tv   New Day With John Berman and Brianna Keilar  CNN  December 21, 2021 5:00am-6:00am PST

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i don't think this lawsuit is of any significance at all. >> jeffrey toobin, thank you very much. >> okay, berman, erica. see you. "new day" continues right now. good morning to our viewers in the united states and all around the world. it is tuesday, december 21st. i'm john berman. brianna is off today. erica hill with me this morning. good morning to you. >> good morning, my friend. >> just hours from now, president biden addresses the nation on the fight against the omicron variant. now the most dominant covid strain in the united states, accounting for 73% of all cases. the president will announce a series of steps as the country faces a surge of infections this winter. >> the steps include 500 million free at home rapid tests for households that ask for them. here is dr. anthony fauci
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moments ago, right here on "new day." >> part of the president's program which he will be speaking about this afternoon is to dramatically increase the availability of testing, putting up about 20,000 testing sites, we're getting half a billion tests very quickly, literally within the next few days. and then have a situation where you can get anywhere from 200 million to half a billion tests per month. so we will be able to very soon have all the tests that people need. >> president biden will also say in his speech that vaccinated americans don't need to cancel their holiday plans, despite the rise in case counts. cnn's jeremy diamond is live at the white house this morning with more for us. good morning. >> good morning, erica. president biden will deliver a stark warning once again to unvaccinated americans today, warning them of the potential serious illnesses that they could face amid this omicron surge. he will also seek to reassure
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those vaccinated americans, particularly those who have received that booster shot, telling them they can go ahead with their holiday plans as long as they're continuing to follow smart public health measures. that is an important duality here that president biden will try to thread in his speech this afternoon. he'll also be announcing a series of new measures that he is taking in the face of this omicron wave, including sending as many as half a billion free at home tests to americans beginning next month. that's at least when the first tranche of those tests will go out. it is not clear how quickly they will get the rest of those 500 million tests out to the country. they're also going to look to increase coronavirus testing sites, beginning in new york city this week with a federal coronavirus testing site being established there. also, mobilizing a thousand military service members to help hospitals and areas that are dealing with surges over the coming weeks and months. and finally, erica, all of this is coming as president biden
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himself now being affected by this omicron wave at least the rise in coronavirus cases, we know he's now considered a close contact of a white house staffer who tested positive for coronavirus on sunday. president biden also received a test and that test so far has been negative. he will be tested again tomorrow and based on cdc guidelines the white house says the president does not need to isolate for now because he's fully vaccinated. they will continue to test him to make sure that negative test stays negative. >> jeremy diamond, appreciate it, thank you. let's bring in former biden covid adviser and director for the center of infectious disease research and policy, d dr. osterholm. a lot of people have been struggling, especially for folks vaccinated and boosted, in terms of if you're positive, what do we do about isolation? dr. fauci said there is consideration now about potentially reducing that isolation period, specifically
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for healthcare workers. should that be revised? >> well, i think it is a very important consideration right now considering the next three to eight weeks are going to be the critical time with omicron in this country. that's when this viral blizzard will hit. that's when we'll be overrun. if we have talked about all the increase in cases this week, it is going to be substantially higher in the next few weeks. one thing we're very concerned about is in healthcare systems already overstretched, breaking, now imagine taking 20 or 30% of the healthcare workers out because they now too are infected, many will have mild illness because they will have been vaccinated with all three doses of the vaccine. and, you know, we can send in fema, we can send in the military, they will be just a drop in the bucket compared to what's needed. we got to keep our healthcare workers on the front line. rather than having no one at that patient's bedside, i think someone feeling well but may be infected, it is important to get them back into the healthcare setting as quickly as possible.
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>> we'll be watching for any of those changes. in terms of where we're at with the healthcare system, it depends who you talk to. there are areas as you know that are overwhelmed, but this morning, you know, the head of one of the largest healthcare conglomerates here in the state of new york told john berman they are not in a crisis right now, their numbers comparatively right now, covid patients, less than 10% of their overall capacity, less than half of what they were seeing last year at this time before there was enough vaccination. so are we overdoing it on concerns about hospitalizations when we're not seeing those surges at this point? >> well, you know, i think this is a very important point. the public is very confused now what's going on. let's break this apart. first of all, delta, delta is extracting a tremendous price right now from about 15 to 20 states in this country. if you're not in one of those states, you might say what's all the fuss about. but, in fact, they will really experience a major increase in
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cases with omicron. that is going to be a blizzard in all 50 states. you've seen it right now in countries around the world. we won't have this regional hit. we in minnesota have been in terrible shape since september. only in the last two weeks have things started to improve. now with omicron coming. take the delta situation, put that in the rear view mirror and look forward to what omicron is going to do. that's where we're going to see everyone watching this major influx of cases and we're seeing that in europe now. countries that had very little activity are now seeing major activity with omicron. >> two points then to that then, when it comes to omicron, the jump in cases is remarkable. this is now the dominant variant, about 73% of cases in the u.s., you know, a huge jump from what we were seeing last week. but, you know, berman was talking about this morning with dr. fauci as well, there is a focus or a question about a shift in focus from the number
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of cases to severity of those cases. because so far it appears that those omicron cases for the most part and certainly among those vaccinated and ideally boosted, they are much less severe. >> that's true. let's look at the numbers, okay. when you look at what's happening in south africa now, they have seen among those 60 years of age and older, about 50% of the same rate of hospitalizations we saw with delta. 50%. if you look at the entire population, about 25% of hospitalizations, what you might expect if it was delta. on the other hand, you're looking at a virus that is being transmitted many, many times more effectively than delta. you have the intersection between less severe illness, but a heck of a lot more cases. so if you add up the absolute number, that's where the challenge is right now. and so what we don't yet really know is what that means. there is a lot of people out there right now talking about this with rose-colored glasses on saying, basically, we have vaccines that we didn't have a year ago, things will be better.
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let me remind you, 70% of americans who have received two doses of vaccine did not get their third dose and we know from an omicron standpoint that third dose is critical. >> we should point out, some of the folks -- we have to remember too, hopefully they will get that booster, some of them aren't yet eligible, part of the other challenge here, if we're looking at that -- >> these are the ones eligible. >> you're talking about -- >> i'm talking about eligible. and i'm talking about the fact that the clock is ticking right now. it takes anywhere from 7 to 14 days minimum to see the impact of the vaccines on our immune system. if you think you'll get vaccinated on christmas eve morning and go to christmas eve celebrations that night and be protected, forget it. vaccinating people today will start to protect us in early january. so the challenge we have is how can we get as many people with that third dose as quickly as possible because that will make a difference in how omicron is manifest in the community. >> michael osterholm, thank you for joining us this morning. >> thank you. just ahead, how a covid
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outbreak is forcing the nhl to pause the season. >> okay. pause of a different kind at the white house. >> i saw what you did there. >> yeah. the bidens just welcomed a new puppy. first, is build back better totally dead? what each side wants to see to get president biden's plan done. nicorette knows, quitting smoking is freaking hard. you get advice like: just stop. go for a run. go for 10 runs! run a marathon. instead, start small. with nicorette. which can lead to something big. start stopping with nicorette. ♪ ♪
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uncomfortable enough they'll just say, okay, i'll vote for anything, just quit. guess what? i'm from west virginia, i'm not from where they're from and they can beat the living crap out of people and think they'll be submissive, period. >> joining me now, cnn political commentator, former present congressman charlie dent from pennsylvania, where, look, they don't back down either. and political commentator and former democratic congressman joe kennedy from the commonwealth of massachusetts, where they don't back either. congressman kennedy, i'll start with you. i don't get it how people always claim that in their state they do things differently. there are 50 states where everyone claims they do things differently. that aside, congressman kennedy, james carville told me overnight that he thinks build back better might be dead, but build back differently, he says, is still alive. what do you see? >> john, look, i think -- i think there has to be something still alive here. if you've been following this
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process all the way through there are significant areas of overlap between what senator manchin indicated he would support and the priorities put forth by the white house and, by the way, progressives in congress. is that going to be everything that i would want in that bill or progressives would want in that bill? no, it is not. i think we also recognized that the need for urgency -- or the urgency to try to deliver on major aspects of the biden agenda is so great that they got to get something done and they do. i think they will. it ain't obviously pretty, but i think they're going to get there. >> congressman dent, you support joe manchin in his efforts to put a pause on this. you wrote an op-ed on cnn.com, they spoke sunday night and we're told it was a cordial discussion. how much significance should we put in that, charlie? >> i put some significance in it, but i think joe manchin has been right, this is a time for incrementalism, moderation, and bipartisanship. he's been right. he's been very forth right and
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clear about where he has stood. he sent a letter to chuck schumer over the summer, which schumer signed. i think they should focus on something achievable, maybe focus on paid family leave, try to do that in a bipartisan manner. they did infrastructure in a bipartisan manner. manchin helped lead that effort. i think there is an opportunity to do something, but they're not going to get this big $1.75 trillion plan. i think it is totally tone deaf they're trying to jam this thing through. >> disagree with you on this one. look, i think what you actually saw according to the reporting that came out was not manchin's objection to $1.75 trillion bill, it was the concerns that this last version of the bill was quite a bit higher. and i think -- i certainly feel and i think my former colleagues in congress, many in the democratic caucus, believes there is such urgent and critical areas that we need to
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invest in that have been underinvested in for a long time that it is hard to prioritize. what manchin basically did was throw cold water on that notion and say, you might want to do ten different things, you're going to get two or three. so pick them. and i think that's the hard part coming back, which is going to say, okay, well, if we can get two or three, what are the two or three things we really want to do. he was supportive of universal pre-k, supportive of some of the climate provisions. he had concerns with some of the way that child tax credit was drawn. and all of those things would be slam dunks for me. but not joe manchin. and we got to take -- democrats have to take at this point the reality of 50 votes, do whatever they can do through executive action and push as hard as they can on everything else, but recognize if you need legislation, you need that 50th vote. >> charlie, where are these ten republicans you see lining up to work with the white house on all these separate issues? >> well, might be nice to invite them into the process, to be
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perfectly honest. joe biden was elected as a transitional figure, not a transformational one. we all know that. i think this has been a complete and total misread of the mandate of this election. it was not to go big. and i think they should have focussed this bill much more from the very beginning, rather than doing ten things as joe said, they should be focused on one or two things, and do them well. i was being generous when i said $1.75 trillion. according to penn wharton, it is more like 4 to $4.6 trillion when you look at all the slights of hands in the budgetary gimmicks deployed here. i think right now you -- i know that i think susan collins and others have been interested in talking about paid family leave. why don't they start having that conversation with some republicans. i know there is some interest in that one. there might be -- i bet there is probably some agreement on the child tax credit. but it is going have to be much more targeted than it is right now. but what if they begin having the conversation, the decision was made to do this on a partisan basis early on, unlike the infrastructure bill.
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>> charlie, i want to ask you, scott perry, the january 6th committee, asked him to come in and testify. congressman perry from the district that i think bordered yours in pennsylvania. what do you think of scott perry and his role perhaps in trying to overthrow the election results? >> well, i think he probably ought to lawyer up right now. certainly i've known scott for many years. but he had contacts with mr. clark at the doj and mr. perry also has been pushing this election fraud narrative. so i think he has a problem. i think what is more interesting, this seems to be anyway so unprecedented. i've not seen a situation where members of congress have been actually asked to testify. and i suspect that scott, i don't know what he's going to do, i suspect he will not come in voluntarily. with the committee then subpoena him, which would be, again, extraordinary, and i think unprecedented, i don't know the last time a member of congress was subpoenaed to testify before
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a house committee. so i think we're kind of in an unchartered place here. and i do think that, you know, scott's got something to worry about here given the level of interaction he had with clark and meadows during the time of the insurrection. >> and also unprecedented would be sitting members of congress trying to overthrow election results if that is in fact what happens. it may call for separate measures. congressman kennedy, back to you within second here and give you a chance to respond to the idea that the biden white house hasn't reached out to republicans to try to find common ground on issues. >> look, i just don't think that's wholly accurate. you saw the infrastructure bill was an entire process to do that. and they got as far as democrats got -- in the white house got as far as they could on that infrastructure bill. that wasn't to say if republicans wanted to do more things, they weren't all of a sudden limited by the white house or the democrats working on that bill. that was as far as the ten republicans, or so that were
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part of that process and ultimately more than voted for it, that's as far as they would go. so, look, if there are bipartisan ways to address climate, child care, paid leave, investments in housing, and myriad of others in which have been systemically undervinveste for a long time, you'll get plenty of support. the reason why the things were broken in two is because it was clear we weren't going to get republican support for a number of those issues. so, look, if there is a process and pathway there absolutely that should be explored. but they have to deliver and i'm confident that when push comes to shove in the months ahead they will. >> joe kennedy, charlie dent, thanks to both of you. two incredibly kind, polite guys. this was like watching a football game. thank you, both, for being with us. >> it's early. >> thank you. just ahead, president biden's brand-new plan for free at home covid tests.
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how will that help fight the winter surge? hockey season on hold. we have more on the nhl's plan as more players test positive. ok, let's talk about those changes to your financial plan. bill, mary? hey... it's our former broker carl. carl, say hi to nina, our schwab financial consultant. hm... i know how difficult these calls can be. not with schwab. nina made it easier to set up our financial plan. we can check in on it anytime. it changes when our goals change. planning can't be that easy. actually, it can be, carl. look forward to planning with schwab. schwab! ♪ ♪ (vo) reflect on the past, celebrate the future. season's greetings from audi. when it comes to autism, finding the right words can be tough.
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mom, hurry! our show's gonna start soon! i promised i wouldn't miss the show and mommy always keeps her promises.
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oh, no! seriously? hmm! it's not the same if she's not here. oh. -what the. oh my goodness! i don't suppose you can sing, can you? ♪ the snow's comin' down ♪ -mommy? ♪ i'm watching it fall ♪ watch the full story at www.xfinity.com/sing2 today, president biden is set to announce the u.s. is buying half a billion at home coronavirus tests and will mail them to people who want them starting in january. this comes as holiday gatherings and omicron surge have fueled a massive demand for tests causing a national shortage. gabe cohen is live this morning in washington with more. good morning.
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>> reporter: good morning. this is a huge investment that the biden administration is now making in covid testing. and it is not just those half billion take home tests you referenced, which starting next month people can go online and order for free, straight to their home, the administration's also now setting up federal testing sites, more of them, the first of which could open in the next couple days. with christmas days away, americans are scrambling to get covid tests, waiting in line in some cases for hours. >> trying to play it safe for the family. >> reporter: health experts are warning people, even those without symptoms, to get tested before gath werering with loved ones. >> they could add another layer of protection or security if they got a rapid test that morning. >> reporter: dr. william schaffner. >> i'm certainly disappointed and concerned that testing is not more widely available. >> reporter: in many parts of the country, finding a test is extremely difficult.
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appointments are tough to get, and over the counter rapid tests are selling out online and at pharmacies. dr. brooke watts works with metro health in ohio. >> there isn't a rapid test to be found and the pcr tests that are offered at testing sites, the wait period is approximately seven days. >> reporter: dr. michael mina has been sounding the alarm on testing trouble since early in the pandemic gli. >> i think our testing failure is the greatest failure of this pandemic. >> reporter: in recent months, the biden administration has pledged to spend close to $3 billion to ramp up testing. they also used the defense production act several times to make millions more tests available. last week, the white house coronavirus response coordinator said they had enough supply. >> there is plenty of free testing across the country. >> reporter: days later, covid is surging and the testing supply hasn't kept up. >> we really need to flood the system with testing. we need to have tests available for anyone who wants them.
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>> my covid-19 team -- >> reporter: senior administration officials tell cnn that president biden is set to announce new testing measures today. they'll purchase a half billion at-home rapid tests to be delivered starting in january and set up more federal testing sites including one in new york city that will open before christmas. >> this prior to the pandemic, the u.s. is, you know, light-years behind our, you know, our peer nations in terms of making these tests readily available. >> reporter: last week, cdc director dr. rochelle walensky suggested increased testing will help keep schools open. >> these studies demonstrate the tests to keep unvaccinated children in schools safely. >> reporter: another sign that those swabs could play a massive role in our return to normalcy. how far away are we from a time where we'll have enough tests to accomplish that? >> we can all hope that the testing bottlenecks are resolved quickly, but i'm rather
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convinced that this will take some time. >> reporter: now, a lot of the criticism here is not just about the quantity of testing, but it is about developing a more aggressive strategy. for example, pills that treat covid may be available in the near future, but they need to be taken within a few days of showing symptoms. so dr. mina is advising the government get tests placed in the homes of vulnerable people to catch those cases. to get them medicine, and, erica, to possibly save lives. in this latest move, by the biden administration, may be a big step to getting that done. >> could be. interesting to see those new testing sites open as well. gabe cohen, appreciate the reporting, thank you. let's bring in someone who is seeing this testing demand firsthand, dr. neil shipley, medical director of go health urgent care in new york. what are you seeing in terms of demand, doctor? >> good morning. thank you for having me. like the rest of the country, we are in the middle of a covid surge. we're seeing a rise in positive
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cases across the new york area and a serious increase demand for testing, which is a good thing. >> what kinds of people are you seeing come for tests? >> we're seeing, you know, the whole range of new yorkers coming. people who want to travel and visit their families, people who are sinck, people who think the may have been exposed. we think this is responsible behavior, people getting tested before they visit their loved ones or travel. but it posed challenges for us because demand is very high. >> i was going to ask, how able are you to keep up with the demand? >> yeah, it is a great question. we have four different modalities in our center. we this is all hands on deck. unfortunately it feels a lot like it did last year, where the demand for testing and the surge is really straining the health
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system. our job in the urgent care is to try and prevent sicker patients from ending up in the hospital, in the emergency department. and ideally diagnose as many people as we can as early on in this disease as possible. >> what do you need? >> that's a great question. i think the most important tool we have against the covid virus is still vaccine and boosting. so, you know, i think what we need is everybody who hasn't been vaccinated to think strongly about getting vaccinated. if you've been vaccinated, get boosted. the things that worked before still work. masks work, social distancing works. hand hygiene works. the challenge right now is also flu season. there is lots of other respiratory viruses out there. a adenovirus, rsv virus, and they all look like covid at the beginning. the challenge is to distinguish those from covid and get those
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people the care they need. >> look, my son, we woke up, we were convinced he had covid, all the symptoms, took him in, tested positive for flu. was sick. but it was flu, not covid. so i'm sure you're seeing a lot of that right now. do you have enough tests? how close are you to running out of the materials you need to meet this testing demand? >> right. so we don't have testing shortages right now. we're part of the northwell health system. we have, like i said, four different testing modalities in our centers. and we have the backup northwell laboratory, a reference laboratory, and they can test thousands and thousands of samples a day. so what we really need say little bit of breathing room. people who are asymptomatic, if you don't have to travel, consider not traveling. if you're asymptomatic and can get a home test, which is a challenge these days, take a home test. what we really want to do in the urgent care is test the sick and the ill and help distinguish
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those who have covid from those who don't. like your son who had the flu. so what we need is a little bit of breathing room. >> that is interesting. if you're asymptomatic and don't need to travel, you may not need a test right now. at least not in person. dr. neal shipley, thank you for being with us. >> our pleasure. thank you for having me. so how safe is it to fly during this new covid surge? can you get a refund if you cancel? a top airline executive joins us live. first, the nhl's sudden shutdown as more players test positive and the possible impact on the olympics.
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new overnight, the nhl is pausing its season for the holiday break. joining me, elliott friedman, nhl reporter for sports net. thank you for being with us. what led the nhl and the players union to make this decision? >> well, john, good morning. basically what happens is every year there is a three-day break over christmas built into the schedule. it is normally the 24th, the 25th and the 26th. and they decided to move it up as you said the cases were growing. and one of the reasons they do it is they test every day, and you can't test, however, on what is called an off day or a non-workday. what they did was they're trying to play games on the 27th, and if they wanted everybody back in on the 26th to test, technically they couldn't do it if it was part of the christmas break. so this way they made the 26th a working day, and in return they
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moved their break up earlier to get everybody their time off over the holidays. >> i do get there are specific logistical concerns. there is also this concern that, look, omicron is just bursting into the reality for a lot of people, in sports and out of sports. i'm curious, what happens when they start testing again if huge numbers still come back positive? >> well, what we're basically seeing is last weekend there was a rumor that they would potentially shut down until the winter classic, on january 1st, major event on the calendar, which their outdoor game. what i was told was, look, they're going to try -- try to play every game they possibly can. if you look at what the nfl is doing, and you look at what the nba is doing, they seem to have the same rules, try to play every game you possibly can. and there is no guarantee they're going to be able to play or resume their full schedule next week. so i think what they're doing is just calling a brief time-out, giving the players the time and
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the staff and the time they normally get, and we'll see where we are on boxing day. i think it is just play it by ear and try to play as many games as you possibly can, but as you see every league right now, john, that's the rule they're basically using. >> the nfl is adjusting its rules at this point. they're not testing asymptomatic player as regularly. the isolation period they may try to reduce that for asymp asymptomatic, fully boosted players. is that something the nhl will try to do? >> there is a challenge with that here. the nhl has an issue that the nfl doesn't have and the nba only has with one team, that is canada and the canadian border. we started to see more players and staff call for that. the hall of famer steve yzerman mentioned that, ryan o'reilly, the captain of the blues, in 2019, when they -- now the captain of the blues and they won the stanley cup in 2019, they -- some of those players have said, people have said
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should we consider that? but the canadian government is not thrilled with that idea. and you have to cross the border, right. so until they know they could be able to do that, i don't think that's going to be possible in a broad stage in the nhl. >> what is going to happen with the olympics? where there were plans for nhl players to go? >> yeah, we're expecting an announcement. it could be as soon as today, but it is on the radar to happen at the nhl and the players will officially announce they're not going. on sunday when there was a shutdown of the -- across border games. so canadian teams and u.s. teams could couldn't play each other temporarily. the nhl let it be known it triggered an option of theirs to leave the olympics because there had been a material disruption of the schedule, so in the last couple of days what the league and the players association have been doing is discussing how they want to make the announcement, they're going to officially let the ioc know but the players are aware and the
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teams are aware they won't be going to the olympics. >> that big news. but i think all the players have come to accept the reality of that. terrific having you on. thanks so much. >> thank you, john. my pleasure. here's what else to watch today. holiday travel in full effect. will the airlines have enough pilots to deal with the holiday
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travel rush? we'll ask united next. a first look at the new first dog. a puppy at play in the white house. hi susan! honey? yeah? i respect that. but that cough looks pretty bad... try this robitussin honey. the real hononey you love... plus the powerful cough relief you need. mind if i root through your trash? now get powerful relief wiwih robitussin elderberry. ♪ fresh flavors... classic dishes... ♪ and a new seat at the table. ♪
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the surge in covid cases is not stopping millions of holiday travelers from getting on a plane for that much awaited getaway for many people, maybe a
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family reunion they missed last year. the tsa says it expect to screen 30 million travelers over the next two weeks alone and just logged 2 million screenings for the fifth straight day in a row. joining me is josh earnest, chief communication officer. as we look at the numbers, both the numbers of travelers and the rise in cases that we're seeing, any changes because of this increase from united in terms of its policy to cancel or change your flight if you have a positive test? >> well, erica, the policy we put in place more than a year ago, we got rid of change fees. if there is a reason people want to make a change to their plans, more flexible than it ever has been to travel with united. what we're seeing this year is a lot more confidence in the safety of air travel. we're seeing more people vaccinated, and all of united's customer facing employees are
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vaccinated. united was among the first to put in place a mask requirement for people who are traveling on board our aircraft. thing we learned over the course of the pandemic, the aircraft environment, the way the aircraft -- the air is circulated inside the plane, with hepa filters, screening out pathogens in the air, being inside an aircraft is actually about the safest indoor public place that you can be. so there is a reason that people can travel with confidence, if they take the right measures this holiday season, and, you know, reconnect with those loved ones that many of us didn't get to connect with. >> i heard you say that people have also gotten used to the mask requirements. as you know, as we saw, sarah else in nelson testifying last week, it is a real challenge. and i know you know about this for flight attendants at united as well. do you think the message is starting to get through to passengers that it is not the time to take this out on flight attendants, on the flight crews, the gate agents, is that message getting through?
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are people starting to behave better? >> people are starting to behave better. people are getting used to wearing masks. we have seen our mask-related incidents decline pretty dramatically over the course of this year. they're down 60% since the beginning of the year. that is an indication people are getting more used to wearing masks. but mostly i think this is a testament to the professionalism of ur flight attendants who do a good job of de-escalating the incidents, ensuring that people follow the rules, and do it in a way that keeps everybody safe. and thanks to the professionalism of our front line employees, particularly our flight attendants, the number of incidents that we have seen about this have declined. and, again, that should give people confidence that when you show up to the airport, people are going to be following the rules. there is a mask requirement in the airport, mask requirement on board the planes, people generally -- overwhelming majority of people follow those rules.
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>> wunited was first major u.s. airline to institute a vaccine mandate. you're encouraging boosters at this point. will they be required? >> we're going to continue to watch the data and sort of see exactly whether or not that requirement is necessary. we do have in place requirement for all of our employees to get vaccinated. we are recommending that our employees get boosters. and i know a lot of our employees have gotten boosters. so that we do know that as -- that puts in place a important protection to keep people safe. and, look, we're really proud that we were among the first major companies and certainly first major u.s. airline to successfully implement our vaccine requirement. we did that because nothing is more important than the safety of our people and the safety of our customers. and that has certainly saved lives. we're really proud with the way our employees have responded to this. and it is going to make everybody safe in this holiday season. >> united ceo said 1100 00 plan
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were grounded because of a pilot shortage. should people be concerned this week as they start to travel for the holidays that there may be a pilot shortage, that their flight may not take off? >> what scott kirby, our ceo, was talking about is as we sort of think about the next couple of years in the airline industry, airlines are going to have to change the way they operate because there is a shortage of pilots. one thing that we're doing at united to address this longer term problem is we are the first major u.s. airline to own and operate our own flight training academy. this means that we can recruit pilots from sort of all walks of life, make sure they go through a rigorous training program that is up to the high standards established by united air d air that we proudly fulfill. that will improve the flow of pilots to our airline. the other thing we can do is we can take important steps to begin to diversify the cockpit. what we have said is over the next ten years, as we admit
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people to that pilot training program, we're going to -- we want to make sure half of those people are women and people of color because diversifying the cockpit is something long overdue. it is going to be necessary to address this shortage of pilots. if there is an industry wide shortage of pilots, we can't keep going to the same universities and recruiting from the same places. we need to expand the pool of candidates and there are a lot of qualified people out there and if we keep those rigorous training programs in place, we can make sure we keep people safe when they're traveling. >> before i let you go, something that came up in the discussion, there were concerned raised, is that something united has been discussing with various airports and would you like to see a ban or reduction when it comes to go alcohol sales? >> one of the things that -- one of the rules already in place, erica, is that people are not allowed to bring on board their
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own alcohol and consume it while they're traveling. so to go cups for alcohol are not allowed, unsurprisingly. >> but they can be in the gate area. >> i'm sorry? >> but they can have them in some airports in the gate area, you can have them before you board. >> that is true. we are actually allowing alcohol sales on board the plane because, again, we're pivoting back to customer service. and we do want people to have a comfortable journey. but we also want people to do it safely. i think the evidence we have seen about the pretty dramatic decline of mask incidents over the course of the year is a good indication that our professional flight attendants are doing an excellent job of maintaining safety on board the aircraft, but also making people a little more comfortable had they travel. >> josh, appreciate it, thank you for joining us. happy holidays. >> happy holidays, erica. nice to see you. i want to take a moment this morning to remember a lovely man and a great reporter. wayne slater, the retired long time bureau chief and political
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writer for "the dallas morning news" was killed in a car crash yesterday and it is such a loss. he joined the austin bureau in 1985, covered ann richards and george w. bush. i got to know him in 1999 and 2000 when bush ran for president. wayne and other members of the texas press corps were our tour guides through the intricate world of lone star politics for a generation of young reporters. we were punks. wayne was a prince. so generous, so kind, so dogged. i scoured my files overnight trying to find a picture of us together. i couldn't. maybe because he was a step ahead of me. but i found this photo i took of him at a bush rally in texas in 2000. it is perfect. wayne, under a press riser, in the rain, wearing cowboy boots, writing. that is what he did so well. my thoughts are with his family, may his memory be a blessing.
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all right, time for the good stuff. introducing the newest member of the first family, commander. >> hey, pal. how are you doing? how are you? ♪ >> president biden and the first lady have a new puppy, a purebred german shepherd who comes with music, apparently. commander was a birthday gift to the present and arrived at the white house yesterday. you know who broke this story?
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cnn's kate bennett. >> yeah. >> live in washington, with all of this and more. kate? >> you know, look at those ears, though. what an adorable puppy. so, yeah, so the president had a birthday last month, his brother and sister-in-law got him this dog. and commander is born september 1st, about 3 1/2 months old. you know, sad news for major, i'll preface this by saying all dogs are good dogs. but major did have some issues, you know, living at the white house and part of yesterday's news i was told is that major is living with family friends full time. they really tried to acclimate him to the white house, just didn't work out. so hopefully commander will have a better time there. and also i will say a lot of people said the cat people out there said what about the cat? jill biden had been promising this cat for a long time. and i was told yesterday that the cat will arrive in january at the white house. so expect the cat, a female cat,
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it already has been picked out, it is being fostered by friends locally. they're just waiting for the right time to bring it to the white house. it is nice to see a puppy and animal activity at the white house. i know the president and the first lady miss champ who passed away in june and so after 13 years, so this is nice to see a little life there. >> berman is excited about the cat. >> lots of people are, berman. you're not the only one. >> you're not alone, berman. >> i don't understand why you need both. take a stand, right? >> no. we had a dog and a cat forever who loved each other dearly. jake and lulu, may they rest in peace. >> i have two dogs and a cat. >> this is going well. this is going very well for me. the president does like german shepherds. they are a breed he's been a fan of for a long time. >> he does. i'm not under the impression this dog is a rescue. i think this gift to him is more like champ was, you know, the
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first lady told me, i spoke to her after champ died, she said champ would follow us to every room, and so i think he's looking for a companion again and german shepherds provide that for him. >> they're such good dogs and those ears, they're adorabdorab >> they're cute. >> thank you. >> mm-hmm. berman, i'm sure kate will let you know as soon as the cat arrives. >> i'm sure. >> cnn's coverage continues right now. very good tuesday morning to you. i'm jim sciutto. the omicron variant is now already the dominant strain of coronavirus here in the u.s. and it is only been 21 days since the first case of it was detected. take a look at this chart, it shows it visually. the yellow bar shows how delta accounted for nearly 100% of cases, four months until a couple of weeks ago and just in the last two weeks you see omicron shoot up from just a smal

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