tv CNN Newsroom With Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto CNN December 31, 2021 7:00am-8:00am PST
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it is the top of the hour on this final day of the year. good morning, everyone. i'm poppy harlow. thanks for being with me. jim is off today. as covid cases spike, new year's eve celebrations are scaling way down. the countdown to 2022 has already reached zero in certain parts of the world. the story feels similar to where we were a year ago. this time it's the omicron variant forcing cities to reduce and in many cases cancel the festivities. in new york, the times square celebration is moving forward even as the state case count reaches a new record high. across the country, an average of more than 355,000 cases every day for the last week. that doesn't even include many of those who are testing positive at home. the rise is adding to the pressure to get booster shots. the fda is expected to authorize boosters for kids ages 12 to 15 in the coming days. polo sandoval is in times square.
it's smaller but it's on. >> reporter: good morning. happy new year. we heard from bill de blasio in his last days in office before the next administration takes over tomorrow that the show will go on despite the sharp increase in covid cases in new york, at least an 80% increase in positive cases in the last five days. that's fueling some concerns among some in the health community that this could potentially become a superspreader event. but organizers are in consultation with health authorities and feel they have multiple measures in place to keep it safe. for starters, the drastic decrease in the number of people who will be allowed in. you might see up to 58,000 people. that number now not expected to exceed 15,000 allowing for social distancing. and anybody here has to be
vaccinated. masks will also be required. >> polo, thank you very much. we are told by sources the fda is expected to authorize the pfizer vaccine booster shots for children ages 12 to 15. that cannot come soon enough as hospitals are seeing a major spike in pediatric patients. miguel marquez joins me from houston. miguel, explain this to us. >> reporter: we were at texas children's hospital. they're on their fourth wave in texas. the positivity rate is about 22%. you want that below 5%. cases are taking off here. the take-away from children's hospital is in the last week -- they're not overwhelmed yet, but in the last week they've seen a f
fourfold increase in the number of pediatric hospitalizations here and that is worrying. they believe the worst is ahead of them. here is how the chief pathologist for texas children's hospital puts it. >> this omicron variant has reached a new level in terms of infectivity, in terms of contagiousness. it is at the category of please m -- measles, one of the most highly transmissible ever. we've been vaccinating against measles and need to do the same with covid-19. >> reporter: they have beds available and are preparing. they believe in the next couple weeks -- they're not sure where the peak of this current wave is, but they believe in the next two weeks or mid-june into february may be the worst of it. and just by this -- even if
omicron isn't as sickening or deadly as previous variants, just by the sheer number of cases they expect to see hospitalizations rise. poppy? >> as a parent covering this, i wonder how striking this is for you. for me the saving grace is our children were largely being spared. but they're not anymore. >> reporter: they're not. a lot of them, especially under 5, are most at risk because they don't have the choice to get vaccinated. texas children's hospital is one of the hospitals that are participating in a study to help get those vaccinations for children under 5, but that's going to take more time. it is disturbing to be in the icu ward here and see the youngest and most vulnerable ventilated. some were vaccinated and some
weren't, but to see them suffering in that way, to see the worry on mothers' faces over the fate of their children, it is disturbing. doctors say the vaccines are proven for adults and children. get your child and yourself vaccinated. >> miguel, thank you so much. joining me is dr. andrea rowland fisher, specializing in emergency medicine in minnesota. thanks for joining me. >> thanks for having me. >> you talk about the twin cities and the hospitals there in your words bursting at the seams. has it gotten so bad you can't admit new patients? >> yeah. every day it's a struggle to find beds to put patients in, especially icu beds around the twin cities.
we're having hospitals from rural minnesota that don't have capacity to take care of sick people that can't find a place to transfer patients and patients are suffering because they can't get the care they need. >> it is my hometown. i talk to my mom every day. we embrace the cold in minnesota, but from a health perspective, here in new york it's balmy so people are gathering outside. i assume that's not happening there. so you're having more spread of infection indoors. >> yeah. this weekend, for example, it was supposed to get down to negative 13 degrees. at that point, it's really not super safe for people to be outside anyways for long periods of time. around the holidays, people want to get together and unfortunately it's not safe to do it outside.
with omicron it's not safe inside either. >> reporter: hospitals in texas and ohio have said they've run out of the monoclonal antibody treatment, the only one effective against the omicron variant. are you also facing a shortage? >> not that i know of. our state department is well set up. the department of health gets people plugged in with that. you have to sign up through the website. the state calls you back. other states, i would see that could be a problem. >> we heard miguel marquez reporting at texas children's hospital about pediatric hospitalizations. what are you seeing in minnesota? >> we haven't seen tons and tons
of hospitalizations for omicron specifically. we're still early in our surge. we have seen the most testing we've ever seen in our state in the last few weeks. it will probably get worse in the next few weeks. >> the band of omicron we're seeing on the east coast is moving west and is about to hit the center of the country? >> definitely. fortunately, as far as hospitalization goes currently, we're not as bad as we have been at kind of the peak times of covid. we have the ability to get there by how many positive cases we're seeing right now. >> doctor, thank you for all that you do. i hope you have a healthy and happy new year. >> thank you. you as well. still to come, we are live
from boulder, colorado, where a huge wildfire has destroyed hundreds of homes. how long till emergency crews can get these flames under control? also, democrats and republicans are heading into the new year with a lot on their agendas. what can they get done? we'll ask about the four biggest political questions of 2022. and then new year's eve is typically a big night for restaurants and bars but the covid spike is giving owners a feeling of deja vu. some saying it's worse than last year. a san francisco chef and restaurant owner joins me ahead. a triple-lift serum with pure collagen. 92% saw visibly firmer skin in just 4 weeks. neutrogena® for people with skin. i brought in ensure max protein, with thirty grams of protein. those who tried me felt more energy in just two weeks! (sighs wearily) here i'll take that! (excited yell) woo-hoo! ensure max protein. with thirty grams of protein, one gram of sugar, and nutrients to support immune health.
fire in colorado. it's destroyed nearly 600 homes and forced thousands to evacuate. this is superior, colorado. it shows homes ungulfed in flames and a state of emergency is in place. natasha chen joins us from there this morning. the winds that were so fast and whipped up those flames have subsided somewhat. what are you seeing? >> reporter: these were hurricane-force winds that brought flames through neighborhoods. we can see remnants of fires across town from this builder's eye view. you can see puffs of smoke next to completely blacked-out areas, burned-out neighborhoods. this is overlooking superior. we came from the town of lewisville. you can see the nature of those winds where they can pick up flames from one spot to another rather randomly in cases. we saw hotspots and flames
popping up on certain property lines standing right next to houses that were untouched, that still had christmas lights up. of course this has been an absolute nightmare for these residents. here's the colorado governor and a resident talk about that evacuation process. >> very little time to get out. very little time to get even the most important parts of your life. yes, its will be a difficult process for colorado families who were directly affected to rebuild their lives. >> we're all on a group text. do we leave, do we stay, what's everybody doing, everybody is rushing around with their phones taking videos of their home inside just in case. never saw this coming. >> reporter: thousands had to flee. some are talking about losing every material possession they
have. even those perhaps not affected, maybe their house is still standing. the general experience around this area is there are road closures everywhere to keep people safe. you can smell the ash in the air. it's a little better up here where we are. but definitely near those neighborhoods it is a very difficult air to be breathing. >> thank you. with me on the phone is a storm chaser aaron raese who captured harrowing images of these fires. aaron, can you hear me? >> i can hear you great. >> good morning. thanks for joining us. we're watching this video. it's terrifying. so destructive. you called this the closest thing you've seen to an
apocalypse. >> especially areas looking down on the city and you could see all those spot fires and where the main fire started. it looked like something i'd only seen out of a film. >> the governor was saying the fire was moving so fast that it was the pace of a football field a second. how did you stay ahead of them? >> it was extremely difficult. i had to position myself to where the fire wouldn't be in my direct path. you had to keep your head on a swivel. one wind shift could be bad. i wanted to document the fire as safely as i could. you could see it charging up the hillsides and unfortunately overtaking several homes. it was interesting going through some of the neighborhoods, there would be two or three houses on fire and the rest of the neighborhood was fine. then four or five more houses on fire as well.
you could see where the wind was driving the hot ashes and embers. you're a storm chaser, this is what you do, but it was so shocking to you. >> we're used to wildfires in colorado, typically july even into october, but to have this kind of devastating wildfire is such a rarity. a lot of the times these wildfires will start up in the mountains. tuch it start next to a densely populated area, it's almost unheard of. unfortunately, the snow that will be coming across this area is coming about a day too late. when that wildfire started we had high wind warnings in effect and gusts of 106 miles an hour. it is the worst-case scenario that came to fruition.
>> have you been talking to any officials on the ground? >> i have. estimated home loss is 600. i haven't heard confirmation on injuries or fatalities, which is a good thing for now. they are allowing a few people back into their homes where the wildfire unfortunately has gone through. but overall, they still very much have pretty much all of superior on lockdown. >> thanks for calling in and for the footage you sent. stay safe. >> absolutely. thanks for having me. >> those same areas hit by the fires are expecting snow. meteorologist jennifer gray, good morning. when is it coming? >> it starts today and will last throughout the day.
when you look at the wind totals of 110-plus miles per hour, it falls in line with a category 3 hurricane strength. winds have died down but the snow is going to help. 67% under severe or extreme drought. they that would their latest first snowfall in denver december 10th and it wasn't much at all. during the last six months they've only received about an inch of rain. it will linger in the area. we could see 4 to 8 inches of snow for some of the lower elevations. several feet of snow for the higher elevations. this will be welcome for colorado, but for folks trying to get back to their homes, it could be cumbersome. >> jennifer, thank you. next week marks one year
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they could potentially lose their slim majorities in both the house and the senate? 2021 was a mixed bag of legislative wins and losses for democrats. what is to come next year? amber phillips, political reporter for "the washington post" political blog recently wrote a column titled "the nine biggest political questions of 2022." let's talk about them. good morning. >> hey. poppy. it's will the democratic party get president biden's main spending agenda done. democrats in washington are pretty happy with the things they have passed so far. but they have not delivered for their base, addressing climate change, paid family leave, expanding the government safety net, and passing voting rights legislation they hope will help
them win key states next year. democrats don't know how they'll do that. if senator joe manchin is the boss, and it seems he is, they'll have to drop a lot of key priorities they've been promising for years or decades to get this done. >> do republicans capture majorities in both chambers? >> yeah. 2022 will be a year of political transition. we're no longer in president biden's first year in office. at the very end of this year, there are midterm elections where voters decide who's in power from your local legislature on up to congress. historic trends suggest that the party in power loses seats in congress. it's almost certain based on the last century of elections. republicans have a good chance to capture majorities in the house and the senate as well. even capturing one chamber would completely stop president biden's first term. >> a huge question, three, is
what does the january 6th b committee find? they know they're against the clock. >> exactly right. if republicans capture majority in congress next year, they're worried that come january 2023 when they take hold they can shut down the committee. kevin mccarthy has not been friendly to this committee. they're racing to get stuff done, possibly by the summer. the main question they're trying to answer, and we don't know if they have an answer -- they've interviewed hundreds of witnesses, looked at tens of thousands of pages of documents, spoken with people in the justice department, they're still trying to answer is did president trump attempt a coup against the united states? and with what help? >> thanks for joining us. have a happy new year. >> thank you.
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restaurants have not received federal aid and are in danger of closing for good. that could put an estimated 60 million jobs in jeopardy. the owner of two restaurants in california joins us. he was on the show about a year ago. he's also a member of the independent restaurant board's coalition board of directors. thanks for being with me. i mentioned that you were on a year ago because we thought things would be so much better now. is it worse now for you guys? >> it's worse by virtue of the fact we've been living this entire time with spikes and then, you know, lulls, and we still haven't received federal aid, especially for the majority of our industry. so we're -- i would say that's significantly worse right now considering the amount of debt that a lot of us have had to take on. >> normally your famous restaurant in san francisco would be booked solid for new year's eve but you've had to
close because of the spike in cases and cancel all your reservations, all of that income just gone? >> yeah. so, i mean, normally a restaurant raunts like that and a lot of restaurants are booked solid for new year's eve. it's the biggest revenue night of the year. many of us have had to shut down completely because of the spike. and, you know, right now we feel abandoned by congress because they're on vacation and restaurants all over the country are dying whether if you're in a republican state or a democratic state. we're on the verge of collapse. >> quite a statement to say you feel abandoned by congress. there was the $28 billion in frantinfo grants from congress for the revitalization back in may. i understand a number of restaurants didn't get that money, butd they did take that action. what more are you asking congress to do now? >> that's a great question, poppy.
the fact of the matter is senator schumer said very specifically that was a down payment on what he knew was a grossly underestimated amount. we had been fighting the entire time for $100 billion, which is what we estimated to be needed for the majority of our industry. what was shown is that was so oversubscribed that over 100,000 restaurants were able to take advantage of that. that left out 177,000 restaurants that signed up for it that weren't able to get it. that puts congress in a position of picking winners and losers, and we just can't have that. we need is senator schumer and the rest of congress to make good on their promise to refill the restaurantrevitalization fund and get us the rest of the money so we can make it through disaster. >> i hear you 100%. i think other people watching in other industries will ask, okay, and what about us? whether you think of the arts,
for example, right? airlines, who also got a huge amount of money from congress. i mean, we don't know if omicron is the last variant, right? we don't know how many more shutdowns or reopens will be. what about people who ask where is the limit? >> i don't argue against any other industry, but show me the other industry that employs 16 million people and adds as much to the gdp, that adds as much to the collective tax base of any city we're in. show me the other industry that you can be a high school graduate or sometimes not even have a high school degree, you can get into, you can work your way and open a small business restaurant for yourself and make it into the middle class. our industry is perhaps one of the most important industries in the entire country, especially
independent restaurants. think about the variety of people we m ploy. you could be formerly incarcerated, newly naturalized, in college getting a master's degree. we have a job for you and they're good jobs. >> an important way to put it. look at your trajectory and how you were able to work your way up and open up these two restaurants. i was struck when i learned that you have spent i think $5,000 out of your own pocket to buy rapid tests for your employees. even despite all of that, there was so much of a spike you had to shut down for new year's. is there a message for the biden administration specifically on testing? >> that's $5,000 this month we've spent on that. >> wow. >> because of overly inflated price gouging on tests. my message to the biden administration is a few things.
one is you need to get tests out to these businesses that you depend on, especially things like restaurants, supermarkets, places where people cannot do anything but work in person. you need to get them in our hands and it needs to be quick. the biden administration can play a major hand in getting the restaurant revitalization fund and push the hand of congress. this is something that's had wide bipartisan support. you look at cities and what activates streets, bars, restaurants. you think of your city or block without all of the restaurants without their lights on, that is not a city you want to live in. >> david, thank you so much. i hope you can open back up and you get to a much healthier place and everyone can gather
and enjoy. thanks very, very much. >> thank you very much, poppy. have a great new year. >> you as well. more ahead on cnn including these events we're watching today. ♪ feel stuck with credit card debt? ♪ move your high-interest debt to a sofi personal loan. earn $10 just for viewing your rate — and get your money right. ♪
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this is what bringing in the new year looks like in north korea. thousands gathered near pyongyang to watch fireworks and performances. off in new zealand, this light show replaced the annual fireworks display that was canceled because of covid. in australia, they rang in the new year with fireworks over sydney's world-famous harbour bridge. cnn is counting down the top stories of the year as we close out 2021. jean casarez has a look at headlines that captivated the
nation. we warn you, some of the video very disturbing. >> reporter: a musician behind bars, a manhunt that gripped the nation, a call for social justice finally answered, all part of some of the most gripping crime and justice stories in 2021. number ten, in june, prominent south carolina attorney alex murdaugh says he discovered the bodies of his wife and son shot dead outside the family's home. three months later, he told police he had been shot in the head. >> a prominent attorney in south carolina resigned from his law firm and entered rehab. police say murdaugh admitted for arranging for a hitman to kill him so his son could collect millions in life insurance. >> deaths, murders, allegations, millions of dollars from his former law firm and clients. >> reporter: murdaugh is facing criminal charges, and more than two dozen financial crimes. but the murders of his wife and
son remain unsolved. he denies any involvement. next at number nine -- >> bill cosby is a free man this morning. >> reporter: in june, pennsylvania's supreme court overturned bill cosby's 2018 conviction of aggravated indecent assault, charges he repeatedly denied. the case marked the first high-profile celebrity criminal trial of the me-too era. >> they say cosby was originally promised immunity in exchange for testimony in a civil case. a decade later, a different prosecutor used his testimony against him in a criminal trial. >> well, i'm sad and i'm feeling like this is a loss for me and for the other women who came forward. >> reporter: in a rare move, prosecutors are now asking the u.s. supreme court to review the overturned conviction.
number eight, r. kelly convicted. >> breaking news in our national lead, disgraced r&b superstar r. kelly was found guilty late this afternoon. >> reporter: jurors found r. kelly guilty of racketeering including acts of bribery and sexual exploitation of a child along with separate charges of sex trafficking. kelly has been defending his innocence for years, but now he faces up to life in prison at sentencing, which is scheduled for next year. number seven, the rise of shocking incidents involving airline passengers becoming violent, some over refusing to wear masks. and attacking flight attendants. this man even needing to be duct taped to his seat. >> sit down now. >> reporter: the faa has announced abusive and unruly passengers can face federal penalties as high as $45,000.
trend. 2021 is on pace to be one of the worst years for deadly gun violence in decades. >> at least 150 americans are dead and more than 380 wounded after an outburst of gun violence over the weekend. >> a tragic milestone for the city of philadelphia. 500 homicides so far this year. >> cnn analysis of more than 40 of the most populous cities in the u.s. shows nine to have already set homicide records before year's end. >> reporter: law enforcement expects point to a mix of factors including high gun sales, fewer cops and shifting police resources, changes in the court system and the pandemic. it was a mystery and a manhunt that gripped the nation. number five. >> hello, hello. good morning. >> reporter: in june,
22-year-old gabby petite to and her fiance brian laundrie set out on a cross country road trip. >> petito's text messages stopped about two months after they left. >> reporter: bloggers through the tetons discovered they had a clip of laundrie's van. laundrie returned home while petito was missing. >> law enforcement have confirmed that the remains found are those of brian laundrie. >> reporter: the story ignited calls for other missing persons to garner the same attention. number four, a killing spree in
georgia that rattled the asian-american community. 21-year-old robert aaron long allegedly opened fire on three asian spas leaving eight dead, six were asian women. >> at the moment, you can just see the palpatable anxiety of this community. >> reporter: he was charged in two counties, in one, long has already pleaded guilty to four counts of murder and was sentenced to over four life sentences. but in another prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. our next two stories high-profile trials that put race and justice, self-defense and vigilanteism in the spotlight. number three -- >> breaking news in the national lead. the jury finding kyle rittenhouse not guilty on all charges. >> rittenhouse was 17 years old when he fatally shot two men and
wounded a third with an ar-15 style rifle. >> reporter: dozens of witnesses came to the stand over the course of six days. >> there's not a crowd, a mob that was chasing me. i continued to run after hearing people say -- people were saying cranium him, get him, kill him. i didn't do anything wrong. i defended myself. >> reporter: after 25 hours of deliberations -- >> we the jury find the defendant, kyle h. rittenhouse not guilty. >> reporter: the jury acquitted rittenhouse on all charges. number two, it was a trial that nearly never happened but a mother and a movement made sure it did. ahmaud arbery was shot and killed while out for a jog in georgia. at the time, no charges were
filed. >> it took 74 days. 74 days to get an arrest. >> the three men who shot and chased arbery claiming self-defense. >> this isn't the wild west. >> we the jury find gregory mcmichael guilty. >> reporter: the day before thanksgiving those three men were convicted of murder. their claim of self-defense rejected by a nearly all-white jury. and number one -- >> find the defendant guilty. >> this feels like we can breathe. it feels like something new. hopefully a new day in america. >> reporter: the trial of derek chauvin. the former minneapolis police officer found guilty of murdering george floyd. this spring the trial, video of chauvin with his knee on floyd's neck for over nine minutes while he cried mama played over and over for jurors. >> i don't have a mama.
>> if a police officer can do this, what can't they do to us? what can't they do to our children? that's what's at stake here. >> the former police officer, derek chauvin guilty on all three counts. >> reporter: chauvin never took the stand in his own defense but jurors would go on to tell cnn that it would not have made a difference. >> george had no choice but to give up because he shut all the oxygen off in his body. my brother, man, he didn't deserve it. but he has changed the world. >> jean casarez, thank you. thanks to all of you for joining us. i'm poppy harlow wishing you a happy and healthy new year. "at this hour" starts after the break. you booked a sunny vrbo ski chalet. with endless views of snow-covered peaks.
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out of colorado where a state of emergency is in effect right now. two massive wildfires have destroyed hundreds of homes and forced tens of thousands of people to evacuate with very little warning. the fires are burning near boulder. they exploded out of nowhere thursday. fueled by winds as high as 115 miles per hour. officials say these fires are likely to be the most destructive wildfires in the state's history. colo