tv CNN Newsroom With Fredricka Whitfield CNN January 1, 2022 9:00am-10:01am PST
advanced security helps keep your family protected online. pause wifi whenever for ultimate control with the xfinity app. and family-safe browsing gives parents one less thing to worry about. security, control and peace of mind. with xfinity xfi, it's all built in at no extra cost. hello, everyone and happy new year. i'm fredricka whitfield. many travelers in the lurch this new year's day as the number of canceled flights grows amid skyrocketing cases of covid. for the fourth time this week the u.s. shattered records for
its seven-day average of new infections soaring to an average of more than 386,000 new cases a day. in only one state, maine, cases are down. iowa is holding steady, but the vast majority of the country seen in dark red here is struggling with a surge of 50% or more in new infections. hospitalizations and deaths are lower than their 2021 peaks, but the avalanche of new cases has the cdc predicting that more than 44,000 people could die of covid-19 in the next four weeks. and that underscoring the anxiety of millions of parents who will send their kids back to school as early as monday. some school districts facing a spike in child hospitalizations and they have already announced at least a partial transition to online learning. cnn's nadia romero is covering the pediatric surge, but first let's get with pal low sandoval on the airline cancellations.
it is a real nightmares for travelers. >> reporter: it certainly is. airlines continue in their efforts to try to mitigate the efforts of not only severe weather but of course omicron and the explosive transmission we have seen across the country that has affected airline workers, many having to call in sick and recover at home. because of that airlines forced to cancel thousands of flights. let's give viewers an idea of where we stand as of today. about -- today alone, just over that amount of 2,300 canceled over the country bringing the total to just over 13,000 since christmas alone. you can imagine what the travel nightmare has been. chicago, midway, canceling over half of their flights at o'hair. almost 40% of their flights have been canceled. and in detroit, for example, authorities there saying one in their five flights have been canceled thus far. delta airlines weighing in here saying that -- warning travelers, obviously, that this
is likely going to continue for some time here, projecting that they could potentially cancel from 200 to 300 flights a day. that's out of their total 4,000 departures. we heard from the faa recently, fred, saying that it's likely only going to get worse with some of their own employees also calling in sick. industry travel experts, though, do have high hopes that once this omicron surge begins to slow and lower then the airlines have an opportunity to sort of hit the reset button and finally catch up. >> for now, a horrible situation. polo, thank you so much. nadia, you are in atlanta where the children's health care system is simply overwhelmed. so what are health officials saying today? >> reporter: well, fredricka, we heard from six major health systems across metro atlanta that all released a joint statement. i mean, this was a big moment because they said basically they're dealing with all the same thing. they're seeing adults and children coming into their hospital systems at an alarming rate. they're asking everyone to take
the precautions they've been telling us to take, the vaccinations, the boosters, social distancing because they are overrun. that's what's happening here in metro atlanta, but we are seeing it happen all across the nation, fredricka. a 48% increase in pediatric hospitalizations in just the past week. that is concerning. listen to one doctor talk about why he expects to see more pediatric hospitalizations in the coming days. >> you're certainly going to see a lot of pediatric hospitalizations more than we have ever seen. here going to be the other tough piece for the next few weeks, keeping the schools open. because of this high transmissibility, especially if you start seeing absences of schoolteachers, bus drivers, cafeteria staff, that's all going to feed into this. i think the bottom line is we have to explain to americans that this is going to be a difficult time, be patient. >> reporter: and if we dive deeper into the state of georgia, the numbers are just
surely alarming. let's take a look at the cases first. the cases of how many kids are coming down with covid-19, we saw our lowest daily numbers back in november 28, now on december 31st, just yesterday, we're seeing that number reach almost the peak. when was the peak? well, the peak was back in august when kids were all coming back to school again. we're also seeing a dramatic increase in hospitalizations for kids as well. we know that at least one school district, fulton county school district one of the larger ones in the state of georgia says that it will be back to remote learning starting on monday at least for the first week of january, could be longer if they don't see those numbers going down. so, fred, this is exactly what people were hoping wouldn't happen, that we would be here again talking about remote learning, talking about pulling kids out of the classroom. >> here we are back to a dicey start of the year. polo sandoval and nadia romero, thanks to both of you. my next guest says the surge
fueled by the omicron variant is unlike anything the nation has seen during the pandemic. dr. james phillips is chief of disaster medicine at george washington university hospital in washington, d.c. good to see you again after quite a long time of not talking to you. glad to be back -- glad you could be back with us. doctor, how is your emergency department and staff holding up in all of this? >> well, you know, emergency health care providers are resilient by their very nature. before they even choose a specialty it chooses them because of their resilience. we're managing, but we're getting sick, and it's a staffing issue for our hospitals right now, particularly our emergency departments, where doctors, physician residents and especially our nurses are really being affected themselves by becoming infected and having to be out of the workforce. we're seeing a surge in patients again, unprecedented in this pandemic. it's fortunate that the majority of them are not sick because if we had the transmissibility of
omicron and the deadliness of delta we would have already seen the absolute collapse of our health care system in the national capital region and some other parts of the northeast. i'm thankful for that and i'm glad we're starting the new year with at least that sort of news, but what's coming for the rest of the country could be very serious and they need to be prepared. >> how concerned are you that so many people who are testing positive are vaccinated, particularly ones of recent and maybe among some of your colleagues that you speak of, how concerned are you about the rapidity of the breakthrough cases? is something different about what we're seeing right now and do you attribute that mostly to omicron or something else? >> yeah, absolutely. this is a completely different disease. there are two different pandemics happening right now. there is the delta pandemic that is still happening and is the primary driver of hospitalizations and illness, in probably half the country. in places like washington, d.c., we are all in agreement that
omicron is clearly the driver of the increase in patients coming because with delta you see pneumonia, you see this lower respiratory tract infection, it causes low oxygen levels, brings you to the hospital because you're very sick, gets you admitted if you're very sick and potentially die. omicron is an upper respiratory infection and while that can lead to illness and death in some people with a lot of comorbidities or those who are just simply unlucky, for the vast majority of people this seems to be equivalent to a very bad cold or a very mild flu. we have to hope that that stays that way throughout the country and i don't want to minimize it in any way, shape or form by saying that people are -- people are going to die from this, but it sure is -- it sure is good to see that it doesn't have the deadly bs that delta and the prior variants have had so far. >> meantime, let's talk about the pediatric hospitalizations that this nation is seeing, and right now across the board it's the highest this country has
really seen during the pandemic. are you at your hospital, george washington university hospital, saying more children admitted or when you see children, i mean, what do you do? are you passing them on to children's hospital? what's happening? >> that's a great question. it's important to know that not all hospitals treat and admit pediatric patients. we are one of those hospitals that primarily focuses on adults. prior to coming on today i reached out to my colleague, dr. jill simpson, she is the chief of emergency medicine at children's national hospital here in washington, d.c., and while she says they're holding their own they are seeing both the typical surge of pediatric admissions that happens every winter due to circulating cold, viruses and the flu. they are definitely seeing an increase in patients coming in for testing and for mild symptoms, which can be attributed to omicron, and compounding that is the loss of staff that's happening because those people are getting sick with omicron despite being vaccinated and boosted.
what's really critically important if there's one important message i'd like to say today is that if you only have mild symptoms or especially if you're only coming in to get tested, do not come to the emergency department if you can avoid it. if you have any alternative means to get tested for mild symptoms or a person with low risk factors please do it outside of the emergency department because it's overwhelming our system and putting others at risk. >> so then i wonder if you are in agreement, then, with so many districts who are delaying now in-person school, back to school after the holidays. many districts were expecting to see kids back monday, tuesday, but then now they're asking that many of them are doing, you know, at-home learning. are you in agreement with that? is that the best precaution to take at this juncture? >> there's no right answer. i will preface this by saying that i have a three-year-old and one and a half-year-old, both of whom go to school and day care and they are both going to be
affected by this with delays. we're damned if we do and we're damned if we don't. the economy is going to suffer and the workforce is going to suffer, more kids are going to get sick. there is absolutely no way to keep omicron out of the schools. no way. it's more transmissible, it passes through and looks just like a cold and what we're going to be relying on is testing in addition to the standard practices of masking, social distancing and hand hygiene. but the testing that we're using, these antigen tests at home, simply are not sensitive enough to keep omicron out of our schools. even if they're picking up 80%, 5 85% of the cases and that's with parents doing their best to test correctly, read it correctly or having the willingness to do so some cases of omicron is going to slip through. even if it's not enough students getting sick enough, the teachers they are at risk of getting sick and i think that's why schools are going to close
in the places most affected by the virus. >> dr. james phillips, good to see you again. instead of happy new year i have to say hopeful new year. let's hope we're only going up from here. >> good to see you again, fred. >> good to see you, too. still ahead, now snowfall in colorado after devastating fires in that state for hundreds of families returning to their homes all that's left, ashes. we will hear from one of those families next. and later, a jury finds ghislaine maxwell guilty of sex trafficking young women for jeffrey epstein. what her conviction may mean for a civil case against prince andrew next. look, serena williams... matrix... serena... matrix... serena... matrix... ♪ ♪ ♪ get your tv together with the best of live and on demand.
welcome back. colorado officials now say at least two people are missing after wildfires fueled by high winds which happened through the boulder area. the fires leaving hundreds of residents to start the new year without homes. at least 500 structures were destroyed. as the flames moved in, shoppers in one store, you could see right there, running for their lives. some residents say they had just minutes to escape before the fires ripped through the neighborhoods. now a reprieve for residents
and emergency workers as snow is falling in the area. cnn's natasha chen joining me now from superior, colorado. you spoke with a family who lost everything and, natasha, what a contrast. i mean, i don't know if this snow is really a relief, it's just yet another, you know, blanket of a tough dose of reality. >> reporter: fred, it definitely helped in terms of quenching these flames, but it is going to make cleanup a little more difficult here. there's not much i can show you right now because everything is covered in snow. it is much needed moisture that this area really did not see this fall. some residents here told me that it was so dry it was like a tinderbox environment when this fire ripped through. this family we talked to they had never seen anything like this, the flames that were coming so close to their home, they had minutes to just get out of there, taking nothing with them except their cell phones and chargers.
this is the delaware family, here is the girlfriend of one of their sons, she grew up in louisville. here is how she described those moments. >> i mean -- >> i mean, i was getting pushed over. i had to turn around. like i could not look in the distance and see what was going on at a certain point. he was helping us walk to look at the smoke at the open space, if that says anything about the feeling of it, but as far as the looks, it was a red sky, orange, quickly was turning into black smoke, things were moving so quickly, white suddenly started appearing and just the sound of the wind. it honestly sounded like a hurricane of smoke and fire. >> reporter: and she said she was getting pushed over, that's what i heard from other folks as well, unable to even open their car doors at a certain point because the winds were that strong. they were hurricane force winds. when you talk to this family about what they've lost, i mean, i think you're seeing a video there that they took yesterday when they walked through the
remains of their neighborhood. they have such an amazing spirit about this. they said they're going to rebuild a home that their home was filled with love, they're going to build a new one and fill that with love, too. >> those are going to be some tough days ahead. thank you so much for bringing their perspective to us, natasha chen in colorado. appreciate that. so the beginning of 2022 is looking a lot like 2021 for president biden and a good bit of the country. coronavirus cases are soaring, there are concerns over inflation and supply chain issues and the president is still trying to get his massive domestic agenda passed. we will talk about that next. s . 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. it's your home. and there's no place like wayfair to make the morning chaos, organized chaos.
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all right. it may be a new year, but many of the challenges facing president biden are all too familiar. he is trying to get his domestic priorities across the finish line, namely his signature build back better spending plan after negotiations in 2021 were dashed. there's also the ongoing tensions with russia over its troops on the ukraine border. president biden spoke with russian president vladimir putin on thursday and had this to say about their conversation. >> i made it clear to the -- president putin that if he makes any more moves and goes into ukraine we will have severe sanctions. we will increase our -- our presence in europe with our nato allies and it will have to be a heavy price to pay for it. >> biden is also entering 2022
with uncertainty in the economy and raising inflation. don't forget, all of this is happening as coronavirus cases surgery to all time highs. here to talk about all of this now managing editor for axios ma gr greta margaret talev and david swirly. i'm going to say hopeful new year instead of happy. all right. margaret, let's begin with you. what has to be the president's priority right now as we get this year started? >> i mean, fred, on a very basic level i can biden's biggest challenge and biggest priority is how to get accurate information to all americans. the economy obviously is the thing that most americans are worried about, combined with coronavirus, the two are inextricably intertwined at this moment, but for the president the truth is that the economy actually is growing and that
there has been a pretty historic recovery so far, but it's bound up in these concerns about inflation and the supply chain, and in really negative media coverage for those voters, those american voters who primarily get their news from conservative outlets or from alternative media. getting accurate information to americans about the virus and the pandemic and how to protect themselves also was a real challenge for the president in this bifurcated moment that we're in as a society. that means it's going to be hard for him to get credit for what he's doing well on the economy and it may be hard for him to get the pandemic under control among the sectors who aren't listening to the same messaging that he's trying to deliver. >> david, do you agree? messaging is big. once upon a time people would rely on information coming from the white house to, you know, just set the record straight, but as margaret just spelled out
there are lots of obstacles for this white house and this all comes as the white house is expected to unveil details about the rollout of its 500 million free at home tests that the president promised last week. so how far will that go to show the american people that his administration is trying to make a difference and set the record straight on what to believe? >> yeah, happy new year, fred, happy new year, margaret. i agree with margaret that everything for this white house in 2022 has to do with looking down the road, seeing around the bend, having a plan for what they see and clearly executing on it in realtime. what plagued the administration in 2021 was too often they were seen as being caught offguard by events. so whether it's the build back better bill, trying to resuscitate that, or if it's dealing with covid, they have to act more decisively and they have to anticipate. they should have had these 500
million tests ready to go months ago. now they're going to get them, but it's going to come as we're already in the midst of this omicron wave and they need to address that and then also address what they think might happen with covid in the coming months as we head into spring. americans want children to stay in in-person school, they have these economic concerns that they have and they have concerns about what's on the horizon with the midterm elections just one more thing i will say is like margaret said, they have a good economic story to tell, fred. unemployment is below 5% or around 5%, they've had historically low requests for unemployment assistance, the stock market is doing fine, not rocketing, but it's plateaued and steady, but they can't get this message out because of the other things going on. >> and then there's this persistent problem abroad, the tension between russia and ukraine. it's certainly getting the president's attention.
biden spoke with putin again this week, margaret. so how much could that situation impact biden's domestic priorities? >> i mean, they really are separate issues, but if vladimir putin were actually to decide to go for it and invade ukraine, it would force biden's hand and nato's hand and all the western allies' hand to do what they've been threatening to do which is really bring down the hammer on sanctions. that would on the one hand be a distraction from biden's domestic agenda on the other hand it could give the american president an opportunity to reassert leadership skills abroad if he responds decisively. coming out of afghanistan, again, there was this expectations setting flub where americans did not understand that this was going to be a very, very bumpy exit because the white house didn't prepare americans messagingwise.
i think in the coming days and weeks we may she what messages the president is trying to tell both americans and russians and europe about what to expect, but a lot of that depends on vladimir putin. again, it's not central to the u.s. challenges or to what voters care about heading into the midterms. this is not lining up to be a foreign policy midterm election, but what putin does or doesn't do is going to set off a chain of reactions and it's going to put biden in a real moment of a leadership test. >> and then, david, back to the big domestic item for the president, we're talking about his build back better social spending program. senator joe manchin, you know, torpedoed the talks, but white house officials are hopeful that talks can be revived on a more limited bill, or perhaps even a set of bills. so what is most realistic? >> fred, if i could, i just wanted to say one thing about
russia which was i margaret but the white house should look at what the worst-case scenario is and work backward from there with their allies, germany, france, uk and, again, decide in advance what they're going to do, if they're going to renegotiate the inf treaty, if they're going to do sanctions. whatever they're going to do decide now, don't wait for the worst to happen. in terms of renegotiating the build back better bill at this point heading into an election year i think democrats are going to have to move even further towards senator manchin, even though that disappoints, really enrages progressives because at this point they've got to get a legislative win on the board and then turn their attention back to covid, even if they only get, let's say, $1 trillion on this, you add that to the $1 trillion for the hard infrastructure bill that already passed, $2 trillion you're talking about real money. what they can't do is go into the midterms with this hanging over them as a loss. in case i'm mincing up my sports
metaphors here, but if you can't get a touchdown you have to get a field goal, you can't go into the locker room with a goose egg. >> all right. i think you summed it up well. david swerdlick, margaret talev, thank you so much. >> thanks. now that ghislaine maxwell is facing a potential life sentence in jail for sex trafficking, will she cooperate with prosecutors to implicate other high profile people involved in her crimes? we will discuss that straight ahead. but first, a quick programming note. tomorrow on cnn carole king and james taylor in an unforgettable concert film "just call out my name" tomorrow 9:00 p.m. on cnn. we will be right back. some of my best memories growing up, were cooking with mom. she always said, “food is love.” so when she moved in with us, a new kitchen became part of our financial plan.
attorneys for ghislaine maxwell say they will appeal her conviction this week on five charges related to sex trafficking. a new york jury found her guilty of grooming underaged girls for sexual abuse by her long time associate jeffrey epstein. the maximum sentence carries up to 65 years in prison. vicky ward is an executive producer and reporter on the docuseries "chasing ghislaine" and deborah is a professor of law at northwestern industry and the author of "credible: why we doubt accusers and protect abusers." vicky, you have investigated and written about maxwell's life and the alleged crimes, now convicted. what was your reaction to the verdict? >> so i wasn't surprised. i was in that courtroom every day of testimony and at the end despite the fact that ghislaine
maxwell's very expensive, very good defense lawyers really brutally cross-examined the accusers and they were a little bit helped in that endeavor by the fact that these women had been previously interviewed when the government was targeting jeffrey epstein, they had been interviewed by the fbi and the government about jeffrey epstein, and according to those notes that are called 302s, those women said things about ghislaine maxwell that were different when being interviewed about jeffrey epstein than what they said about ghislaine maxwell after jeffrey epstein had died and obviously they were all true civil lawyers suing the epstein compensation victims' fund and they got paid money. that was the defense's argument that this was all about money and manipulation. the problem ultimately with that
was that there was still this great question mark left really about two main things, why had jeffrey epstein or accounts in his name wired ghislaine maxwell a staggering $30 million in total, thereabouts, and why had ghislaine maxwell stayed with a man who we heard through various testimony hadn't always treated her particularly well and yet she stayed in some sort of capacity. it was never quite clear what, over ten years. prosecutors in the end told the jury to use their common sense. they said why would these four women have come up here, faced this brutal cross-examination, told stories that were eerily similar just for the heck of it. use your common sense. and i think that's what the jury
did. >> and, deborah, you know, you wrote in the "new york times" this week that maxwell's conviction represents a new front in the me too era, holding enablers accountable as well as abusers themselves. explain why in your view her case could prove particularly impactful. >> first, it's important to say that this is a long overdue measure of justice for jeffrey epstein's victims, for the women who testified in court and for those who have described outside of court what they endured. but the other significant aspect of this case is that it's the first time in the me too era that a high profile abuser who was enabled, who was assisted by someone else, had that enabler, that assister also be convicted and also be held to account. if we think about the men in the me too era who have gone to
trial, if we think about bill cosby, if we think about harvey weinstein, r. kelly, even larry nassar who pled guilty, we can see a web of enablers around these men. we can think about the relationships and the systems that helped them to abuse so many victims over so many years, and yet until now we've really not seen a criminal prosecution, a successful prosecution, of one of these enablers. and it's not a surprise that it would be ghislaine maxwell who would be that individual because she was so central to the abuse. she wasn't an onlocker, she wasn't passive, she didn't just look the other way. she was really at the heart of jeffrey epstein's scheme and i think that's why this case is the one that is getting us to talk about the criminal justice
system's role in holding enablers to account. >> right. i mean, the message is loud and clear, a willful participant, not seemingly, but a willful participant. and then i wonder, too, deborah, because lawyers now for the british royal prince andrew are trying to get a related civil case against him dismissed. how does maxwell's conviction impact the outlook for that case? >> i think that case will go forward. maxwell's convictions, you know, certainly doesn't stand as an obstacle and if anything outside of the courtroom, right, there's been this validation of the women who have come forward, that may not directly impact the case, the civil case, but i do think it gives some momentum to this -- to this move to hold alleged abusers in this case to account. >> and then, vicky, real quick, you mentioned those incongruities and we know that ghislaine maxwell is trying to
appeal. do you believe the inconsistencies in the testimonies or perhaps even maybe the payments that you spoke of are going to be central to her attempt to appeal? >> you know, she has always maintained that she is innocent. that was, you know, people have said why didn't she try to cooperate. she didn't cooperate because cooperation would have meant that she was admitting some degree of guilt. her story is she did nothing wrong. there's no halfway house give or take here and, you know, i don't know what their argument is going to be, but they're going to try to make it. >> all right. vicky ward, deborah, thanks so much, ladies. appreciate you both. >> thank you. >> thank you. all right. well, although britain's prince andrew was not at the center of the ghislaine maxwell trial, he is facing a civil lawsuit from a woman who alleges that she was trafficked by jeffrey epstein and sexually abused by the prince. these allegations and other
public challenges helped make for a rather complicated time for the royal family. here now is cnn's max foster with this year in review. >> reporter: for the royal family 2021 was punctuated by loss. >> in the months since the death of my beloved phillip i have drawn great comfort from the warmth and affection of the many tributes to his life and work. >> reporter: husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, the man she described as her strength and stay no longer by her side after 73 years of personal and professional partnership. one image lingers from his funeral that spoke not just to her loss, but to that of so many others who were left on their own because of covid. but it didn't slow her down. the queen back at her desk while she was still officially in mourning. until doctors advised her to
rest in october following a hospital stay and preliminary investigations into an undisclosed condition. later, compounded by a back sprain. >> it's an extremely punishing schedule for someone who is 95 and i think no one would criticize her and everyone would support her in stepping back and doing a bit less. >> reporter: she gave up international travel some years ago so prince charles represented her in barbados in november for a ceremony to replace her as head of state by a locally-appointed president. it marked the end of 396 years of british rule and a long awaited reconciliation with the is island's colonial past. >> the appalling atrocity of slavery which forever stains our history, the people of this island forged their path with extraordinary fortitude. >> reporter: it wasn't the first time that race came up as an issue for the family in 2021. >> concerns and conversations
about how dark his skin might be when he's born. >> reporter: prince harry and meghan the duchess of sussex went rogue not just leaving their royal roles but telling all to oprah winfrey on why they felt the need to get out. >> it raised very serious allegations of racism, but also of rivets within the family, difficulties between prince harry and his father, the differences between him and his brother. it really was a very -- opening up of things that have traditionally been kept private by the royal family. >> reporter: the queen issued a statement acknowledging the allegations and commit to go address them whilst also pointedly knowing recollections may vary. the rest of the family kept calm and carried on until william was fired an unsolicited family. >> are you a racist family, sir? >> we're very much not a racist
family. >> reporter: prince edward spoke to cnn but wouldn't be drawn on the sussex saga. >> we have all been there before, we have all had excessive intrusion and attention in our lives and we've all dealt with it in different ways. listen, we wish them the very best. >> reporter: the palace has continued to distance itself from prince andrew publicly, pursued by the fbi in recent years for sexual abuse allegations. accused of virginia robert due fray filed a civil suit claiming the royal assaulted her when she was 17. prince andrew has repeatedly denied all wrongdoing. regardless of how the impending trial unfolds, royal commentators expect the institution to survive intact. >> i think the royal brand has taken quite a battering in 2021 from all sides. you know, we have had the fallout from the oprah interview, we have had prince andrew's ongoing legal issues. these are all things that really should have dented the monarchy,
but i think that the key players have kept calm and carried on and done some really good things. >> in february 2022 the queen will celebrate her platinum jubilee, the only british monarch to do so having first ascended the throne 70 years ago in 1952. the firm is keen to focused attention on that and the success of the queen's entire reign, rather than a tumultuous 12 months. max foster, cnn, london.
betty white, beloved actress and comedienne passed away friday. just days before her 100th birthday. with a hollywood career that spanned over eight decades she became one of the most enduring and iconic faces of television. cnn's stephanie elam looks back at her incredible and extraordinary career. ♪ >> reporter: betty white's cheerful hollywood career began in her teens and by her 20s she was a fixture on television with her own daily talk show. ahead of the times, white co-founded her own production company in 1952. she worked on a variety of television and film projects over the years before burning a 1973 guest appearance on "the mary tyler moore show" into a permanent role. white was a scene steeler as the man hunger sue ann nivens. >> i think a man should be viral and macho and just reeking with
masculinity. >> her second signature role was on the beloved series "the golden girls" as the comical rose my land. >> and they attacked chickens. >> i don't care about chickens, rose. she didn't call me chicken, she called me peacock. >> you look more like a chicken when you're angry, your neck sticks out. >> with "the golden girls" i got to play with those silly ladies every week and i loved rose . she wasn't the sharpest knife in the door but she wasn't done, she was just terminally naive. >> reporter: off screen white married three times, she called her third husband allen ludden the love of her life. they were together almost 20 years before he died of stomach cancer in 1981. >> and you never remarried. >> nope. when you have had the best who needs the rest. >> reporter: a devoted pat lover white has a long time advocate for animal welfare. she called television her hobby
and animals her work. her hobby kept her busy, white's talents were in demand well into her senior years. following a grassroots facebook campaign in 2010, white became the oldest person ever to host "saturday night live" at the age of 88. >> you know what's an accomplishment? staying awake on the toilet. >> reporter: the show earned huge ratings and white her seventh emmy award. later that year white took on another role on tv land's "hot in cleveland." >> i thought that you weren't coming. >> i ran out of vodka and i thought i would come over here and freshen up my drunk. >> reporter: in her 90s white was as popular as ever with several ongoing film and television projects. >> how lucky with a 90-year-old broad be? i have no idea. and i'm still working, that's the thing that's such a thrill. >> reporter: love for her warm smile, whit and off-color humor, white didn't miss a beat when asked if there were any hollywood projects she'd still like to do. >> i usually answer that
question with robert redford. no, i think i've been lucky enough to do just about -- so much that i -- if i start complaining about anything under the sun, throw me out of the business. >> and aren't we also glad that she had that kind of longevity in the business. what a life and a legacy. we will bring in now sam reuben, an entertainment reporter for cnn affiliate ktla and joins me live. good to see you, sam. you are one of the lucky ones you've actually interviewed betty white many times over the years. so what most resonates with you in terms of your memories of her? >> well, i tell you what, fred, good morning to you, this authenticity of betty white. the fact of the matter is you can't fool people for a long period of time and this seven, eight-decade career she was authentic. betty white was really what you saw on camera was who she was off camera. there was just this enormous
affection. this is such an extraordinary heart-felt loss for people because we felt like we really knew her and we did. this is exactly who she was, the nicest person you would ever want to meet and sometimes i think we tend to polish the halos of those who have passed but in this case betty white well deserved of every tribute and accolade and there are so many. >> she certainly seemed to really embody goodness on every level. so when you think about now with all the interactions that you have had with her, are there any in particular that really stand out, one more treasured moment than the next? >> well, i remember on the set of "hot in cleveland" and one thing that was so interesting, commonality between sue ann nivens and the character she played on "hot in cleveland" these were roles originally written as a one off. she was to appear once but she was so popular with mary tyler moore and "hot in cleveland" that she became a permanent character, a fixture on the show. i remember on the set of "hot in
cleveland" she was looking around and was like i was only supposed to be here for a week and, look, it lasted many, many seasons. i thought betty white had this enormous gratitude and people appreciated the fact that she appreciated the fact that she had been around for so long, so successful for so long and so well thought of for so long. >> she certainly seemed to have a way about kind of stealing the screen, the scene and really becoming the focal point of everything. so now just, you know, days from now would have been her 100th birthday, there were big plans for a big celebration for her and i understand in some ways there will still be that. >> indeed, fred. those plans will continue. it's a theatrical event, you can buy a ticket to go to movie theaters around the country and sort of participate in a betty white 100-year celebration, i think producers initially upon hearing about her death couldn't quite decide whether to go forward, but the fact is people still want to celebrate the life, good works, wonderful
living of betty white and so on january 17th her 100th birthday this event will go forward. of course, she graces the cover of "people" magazine this week, it's all perfectly appropriate for somebody who entertained so much of us for so long. >> well deserved, we will continue to celebrate the great betty white. sam reuben, thanks so much. appreciate you being with us. >> you bet, fred. thanks. still ahead, thousands of flights canceled amid covid surges and at one of the busiest travel times of the year. what you need to know next. plus, take a look at this, a tornado watch is now in effect for some of the same parts of southern kentucky and western tennessee that saw those devastating tornadoes just a few weeks ago. both the cities of nashville and bowling green are included in this watch. the storm prediction center says there will be likely intense thunderstorms with damaging winds and the possibility of a strong tornado.
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are you a christian author with a book that you're ready to share with the world? get published now, call for your free publisher kit today! all right. the nhl is putting on its winter classic tonight and it's certainly going to be rather wintry out there. they are expecting subzero temperatures in minneapolis for the annual outdoor hockey game. it could get under 20 degrees below zero with wind chills. so cold that the stadium has to heat the ice to even play the game. so the minnesota wild and st. louis blues, they might want to layer up over those pads tonight.
all right. hello again, everyone, and happy new year. thank you so much for joining me, i'm fredricka whitfield. all right. a new year, well, it's not bringing relief to the pandemic's relentless hold on the u.s. today airlines struggling with sick outs are canceling thousands of flights, that's on top of the 13,000 flights canceled since christmas eve. many american parents are feeling anxious this weekend over their children's return to the classroom, some on monday. some school districts facing a spike in child hospitalizations are already announced at least a partial transition to online learning. the u.s. is in the grips of a record shattering surge of new infections. the seven-day average of new cases has soared to 386,000 and many experts warn it will only get worse. the vast majority of the country seen in dark red here is struggling with the surge of 50% or more in new