tv American Voices With Alicia Menendez MSNBC January 9, 2022 3:00pm-4:00pm PST
we start tonight with the central question now before the house select committee investigating the january 6th insurrection. did former president trump orchestrate a criminal conspiracy to steal back the white house? and if so, who knew of the plot, and who helped him try to carry it out? the committee is hoping to get closer to the truth this week with plans to ask former vice president pence to voluntarily meet with them. >> i would assume that he will cooperate because he understands it's everybody's legal duty to do so, and it's really a civic obligation to do so. so the vast majority of people we've approached have been participating and cooperating voluntarily, and i think and i trust he will fall into that category. >> house speaker pelosi also sounding optimistic that pence will cooperate. >> do you think it's important for the january 6th select committee to hear from the former vice president? >> i think that they've gotten good cooperation from the vice
president from what i've seen in the public domain, and i defer to the committee on how they go forward. >> chairman bennie thompson also indicated the committee hasn't ruled out speaking to other members of trump's inner circle, including his daughter ivanka. a lot has been said about pence being put in a tough sbot on january 6th, but don't allow that to obscure the fact that what he was pressured to do was clearly illegal, immoral, and un-american. what made it tough was that there was a violent mob searching for him, one that had erected a gallows and was chanting for him to be hanged. and that mob was there in part because donald trump urgd it to be there. as the committee hones in on evidence of possible criminal activity by trump, there are new calls from some democrats to ensure the ex-president never steps foot inside the white house again. joining me now, eugene daniels, political white house correspondent and playbook co-author. he is also an msnbc contributor.
and ryan reilly, huffpost senior justice reporter. it is good to see you both. eugene, i'm going to start with you. when you listen to committee members raskin and chairman thompson talk about pence, very careful with their words. they aren't overtly threatening subpoenas. they seem to be almost appealing to his patriotism, to his sense of identity as an institutionalist. does the committee really think that he's going to cooperate? >> i think so, and i think just based on exactly what you said, how they are kind of coaxing him into it. like remember, mike, we are patriots. you love this country. don't forget they threatened to hang you on january 6th. all of those things are ways to hopefully tone down the temperature for him and make it not as tough. i will say, you know, whether he goes voluntarily or not, he is almost as key to this conversation as anyone else, right, other than donald trump. there's no other big kahuna than mike pence.
he received the most pressure, all of the anger from both donald trump and his allies throughout this process, before, during, and after january 6th. so he has a lot of the information to confirm a lot of what we've already heard that's been reported, and what more importantly the committee has already seen. i will say, though, that it's interesting since january 6th, mike pence has also been a part of the whitewashing crowd, saying that the country should be completely focused on the future, saying that, you know, us in the media are trying to demean trump supporters by focusing on january 6th. so i'm not so sure that it would be voluntary, but if a subpoena were to come, i would think that he's a pretty stringent rule follower, so that might also help. >> it is that exact political reality that complicates things here. i want you to build on where eugene left off, which is we know members of pence's inner circle have already spoken to the committee, his former
national security adviser. what more do they want from pence directly that they don't already know, or is it as eugene said, it is really about getting that first-person confirmation? >> yeah. i think getting the story correctly from sources is important here because if you step back for a moment and look at the fbi investigation, where that's going as compared to the congressional investigation, for the big picture of this, i think the most comprehensive story line of what happened happened behind the scenes at the white house and in trump's campaign is most likely to come out of the congressional investigation. if you look just a few years back, there's a lot of people in america who would argue that the reason that trump came to office in the first place was because we had an fbi that spoke outside of the, quote, four corners of the indictment. with the hillary clinton investigation, we had an fbi director who came out and said all this derogatory information about a candidate for office, right?
so that's not a situation that i think especially the fbi and the doj want to be in at this point. so if there's not criminal charges brought forward against the former president, we're not going to see some sort of comprehensive report from doj or the fbi saying, here's why this is bad, right? you know, it may be awful activity, but if it might be lawful activity, they're not going to speak to that. that's why this congressional investigation is so important. in the meantime, we're going to continue to have these smaller cases going forward, of these sort of political pawns who carried out what they thought was trump's agenda by bashing police officers and storming the capitol, who are going to continue to speak out and say, hey, this is why i did this, because this is what i thought trump told me to do. >> understanding there are moment tracks here, regarding reports the committee is looking into whether or not president trump oversaw a conspiracy between, quote, political elements of the white house plan communicated to republican
lawmakers and extremist groups that stormed the capitol. how significant is that in terms of any potential future prosecution? >> those communications are going to be important, i think, to see whether or not there is this direct line of communication between some of these extremist groups. i think that is what is going to be of the most valuable is if they have direct evidence that can sort of go up the chain. you can think of it as a drug investigation. it's the same sort of thing. if you're a small fish, you can roll up on somebody on top of you. i think for the vast majority of the people who are arrested, they don't have white house ties, they were just following things on the internet. that's not a position that a lot of them are going to find their way into. what's interesting is there's one case involving a conspiracy in in of these extremists where they talk about riling up the normmys as they call them. i think that's a good summary of what happened on january 6th is you had all these people who believed this lie, so there are
these extremist elements in the crowd were able to take advantage of that mob mentality and get a lot of people who live normal walks of life, who are just sort of trump supporters in pretty normal walks of life, to do something on january 6th they probably wouldn't have done in the normal course of laws. >> take a listen. >> section 3 of the 14th amendment says that anybody who is sworn an oath to uphold the constitution, who violates and betrays that oath by participating in an insurrection and rebellion against the union shall never be allowed to hold public office again. that was adopted by the republicans, the radical republicans after the civil war, during the reconstruction period. it was used then, and it may indeed, depending on what we find donald trump did, be a blockade for him ever being able to run for office again. >> rawson called using the 14th amendment a live possibility. how serious is your sense of that talk among democrats? >> i think everything -- and
they've said this over and over again, both publicly and, more importantly, i think privately that everything is on the table, right, when they're talking about what's happening here. they're hoping to make clear to the american people, to future presidents, presidential candidates that you can't do something like this in the united states and not have any ramifications. it's already very clear that political ramifications within the republican party are never coming for donald trump. the vast majority of republicans are onboard with spreading the big lie, with whitewashing january 6th. so they know that it's up to this committee and up to them using and other folks using legal avenues in order to make that very clear. one thing that i find really interesting is how they have continued to be open to interviewing donald trump, and that, i think, would be something -- one, is something that we've never seen in this country before. but i will say, you know, interviewing donald trump is probably not going to give them a lot of honest information.
i think they know, we know, most americans probably understand that donald trump is not going -- is not likely to be honest in an interview with the committee. i'd be hard pressed to see his lawyers telling him or his aides telling him to do that, to do that interview, because they know he's going to spread the same lies that he's been spreading since before january 6th and even before the election of 2020. so for folks that are getting excited that they might see trump brought in to the committee in prime time, i would caution that excitement. >> eugene, of all of the prophecies you have offered on this show, i'm going to wager that is in fact the most accurate. you are sticking with me. ryan, thank you so much for your time as always. next, the slow-moving insurrection already under way, and one of the only true safeguards that could stop it, the major push this week, as democrats try to get voting rights protections pass. plus biden's build back better agenda got put on ice just before the holiday break. the latest on the stepped-up
lobbying efforts to get senator joe manchin to change his mind. next hour, former president trump's growing legal issues is now a family affair. first, richard lui has an update on a breaking story we have been following all day. new details in on that devastating fire that tore through a high rise building in the bronx in new york city, killing 19 people, including 9 children. just minutes ago, the fdny chief delivered an update on the cause. take a listen. >> it started in a malfunctioning electric space heater. that was the cause of the fire. the fire consumed that apartment that is on two floors and part of the hallway. the door to that apartment unfortunately when the residents left was left open. it did not close by itself. the smoke spread throughout the building. thus, the tremendous loss of life and other people fighting for their lives. >> more than 60 people are hurt with smoke inhalation, many of them. the building is 19 stories high.
city experts are determining whether residents can return safely to their homes during this cold, rainy night in new york city. if not, they will stay in hotels. we'll have more details later. more "american voices" right after this break. it combines shaving and gentle exfoliation into one efficient stroke, for a shave as quick and easy as washing your face. superpowers from a spider bite? i could use some help showing the world how liberty mutual customizes their car insurance. ow! i'm ok! only pay for what you need. ♪ liberty. liberty. liberty. liberty. ♪ only in theaters december 17th. ♪♪ for skin that never holds you back. don't settle for silver. #1 for diabetic dry skin #1 for psoriasis symptom relief and #1 for eczema symptom relief. gold bond. champion your skin. >> vo: my car is my after-work decompression zone.
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president biden heads to atlanta this week to push for new voting rights legislation. the white house views georgia as ground zero for gop-led election subversion tactics. you'll remember after biden's 2020 victory in the state, georgia republicans passed a wave of election provisions all based on donald trump's big lie. new reporting from politico shows the state gop isn't done tinkering with the electoral process just yet. as lawmakers push to nix voting touchscreen machines and expand probes into voter fraud. once again, there was no widespread voter fraud in georgia or any other state in 2020. this morning nbc news caught up with speaker pelosi about the gop assault on ballot access.
>> why is voting rights so important for the senate to address now? >> because it is absolutely essential to our democracy. if we do not pass this legislation, it's clear that the republicans will try to undermine our democracy, as they did on january 6th. >> now, all eyes are on the senate as majority leader schumer promises a vote on a rule change to bypass the filibuster to get voting rights legislation across the finish line. joining our panel to discuss, former florida congresswoman debbie mucarsel. virginia senator tim kaine spoke about the urgent need to reform the filibuster this morning on msnbc. >> the burden is on our shoulders because of the disenfranchisement happening across the country and the mass disinfranchisement on january 6th. we have to protect people's rights to vote. we don't have to abolish the
filibuster. both joe manchin and senator sinema have said pretty plainly they will not abolish the filibuster, but they haven't taken off the table openness to rules reforms that would be good for the senate and that could enable us to accomplish our goal. and that's what we're working on right now. >> eugene, help us understand how president biden factors into that push to reform the filibuster. >> yeah. i mean that is key to this whole thing, right? without any kind of carveout for voting rights in the filibuster, voting rights legislation doesn't pass. republicans are not signing onboard for federal voting rights legislation, any kind of legislation that protects voting rights. that much has been clear for a very long time. so we know the president's going to do on tuesday is kind of come out in support of even more than he has, be more full-throated and unequivocal about supporting a carveout for voting rights in the filibuster. we've seen kind of a drastic change in how he's talked about it over the last couple of years, even as a candidate, with
the filibuster. and now in that interview a couple of weeks ago saying he wants that to happen. so that he's going to do that on tuesday, make that very clear. and i will say they have raised expectations from voting rights advocates, civil rights leaders, and a lot of other folks who care about democracy, that something's going to happen on voting rights because people continue to watch as states like georgia and others change and make it harder to vote in those states. and also change who's in charge of counting the votes in those states and implementing laws and election laws and reforms. so that's something that's really concerning. so i think biden is going to come out in favor of that, and he has to, according to all these folks i've been talking to, be completely full-throated and also pressure joe manchin and kyrsten sinema, who i think when it comes to the filibuster, is probably a little bit more the barrier to changing than joe manchin is.
joe biden has to push them continuously, privately as well as publicly. >> congresswoman, i want to turn to comments from jim clyburn on senator manchin's support for the filibuster. he says, quote, the 15th amendment was not a bipartisan vote. it was a single party vote that gave black people the right to vote. manchin and others need to stop saying that because that gives me great pain for somebody to imply that the 15th amendment to the constitution is not legitimate because it did not have bipartisan buy-in. what is senator manchin missing in his defense of the filibuster in the name of bipartisanship, debbie? >> yeah. good evening and happy 2022. we've gotten through the first week so far, and let me say that it gives me great optimism to know that president biden is going to be addressing this fundamental issue. there's nothing more critical to our democracy right now than protecting the right and the freedom for every american citizen to be able to vote and for their vote to be counted. like eugene said, we have seen a
massive effort by the republican party, more than 400 bills nationwide trying to suppress the vote of americans. and i think representative clyburn is right on, and i think what senator manchin is missing is there is some naivete, if i may say, on what has happened in other countries. having come from latin america, i recognize the parliamentary tricks that the republicans are using to suppress the vote. we are in a point in our democracy that if we don't pass legislation that protects the freedom and the right for every american vote, we will lose our democracy. we are in more danger now than we were on january 6th, and republicans have taken advantage of that. i think that is why we are starting the year taking advantage of the fact that we democrats stand for democracy. it's the only -- the only line that we have between authoritarianism and our democracy and the values that we hold so dear. >> eugene, talk to me about the role that vice president harris
is going to play in this push for voting rights. >> yeah. this is something that's on her plate and has been for months. and she's done tons of meetings with the different constituency groups to basically work on the pressure campaign, the outside pressure campaign, for senators and other members of congress on the filibuster and on voting rights. we saw on thursday when they had the january 6th speeches, president biden talked about voting rights a bit. but she talked about it a lot, right? this is something that is really near and dear to vice president harris. she's talked about -- she was the one that asked president biden to take on this job even though she knew that it was going to be tough, not being able to do it through budget reconciliation or anything like that. so she's right there with the president, continuing to talk to these groups. i will say she had a meeting at the end of last year with a lot of different black women, black civil rights leaders who are women, and they talked about how she wants to make it clear to
people that this is connected to every single thing, right? it's not just about democracy. it's also about your ability to live in this country, how you can be free walking around this country. so that's something i think we're going to see her do and continue to do publicly. but she is out front on this issue and has been for months. so whether or not we're going to see any kind of movement on this is going to be up to her and president biden being able to convince either publicly or privately some of these senators to get onboard with doing some kind of carveout to the filibuster, unless by some miracle they're able to convince ten republicans to get onboard, but that one i'm not seeing. >> not seeing that either. debbie, eugene, you are staying with me. next, the white house revives efforts to get build back better across the finish line before the mall midterms. former biden advisers urge the president to change the national strategy to combat covid. i'm going to talk with one of them about what it is they're proposing in just a few minutes. breaking news out of new
york city. a devastating high rise fire in the bronx has killed at least 19 people. 9 of them are children. fire officials say they found victims on every floor of the building. we're going to hear from some of those officials coming up. ting . or sunday afternoon in the produce aisle. these moments may not seem remarkable. but at pfizer, protecting the regular routine, and everyday drives us to reach for exceptional. working to impact hundreds of millions of lives... young and old. it's what we call, the pursuit of normal. ♪ ♪ inner voice (kombucha brewer): as a new small business owner, i find it useful to dramatically stare out of the window... ...so that no one knows i'm secretly terrified inside. inner voice (sneaker shop owner): i'm using hand gestures and pointing... ...so no one can tell i'm unsure about my business finances. inner voice (furniture maker): i'm constantly nodding... ...because i know everything about furniture... ...but with the business side...
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house speaker nancy pelosi says she sees a path to passing president biden's key build back better act despite senator manchin's opposition. >> well, i have spoken to the senator over time. i do think there's an agreement to be reached. it's so important for our country. >> manchin earlier this week denying any progress on build back better talks after withdrawing his support for the bill just days before the holiday. >> there's been no conversations after i made my statement. i think it's basically, you know, and i was very clear. i just -- i feel as strongly today as i did then. i'm really not going to talk about build back better any more
because i think i've been very clear on that. there is no negotiations going on at this time, okay? >> "the washington post" reports manchin is no longer willing to advance his own version of build back better. according to "the post," manchin's $1.8 trillion counteroffer excluded the child tax credit but made room for other white house priorities from universal pre-k to climate change funding. back with me now, former democratic congresswoman debmy mucarsel-powell and eugene daniels. some dems now saying it is time to break up this bill. i want you to take a listen. >> we know that we don't have the votes for the package that was talked about at the end of the year. >> right. >> but the elements have support, and so what we've got to do is put together the elements that we can pass, and it will be very significant for people. >> debbie, you have been in the room as these policies get pulled apart and put back together. how do you see that strategy playing out? >> well, i can tell you that the majority of democrats in
congress -- i have spoken to several of them. they have the will and the desire to do whatever it takes to pass some of the provisions in this bill. they understand that their constituents, representatives that are all over america in both red and blue states need those investments. families need investments in universal pre-k. they need investments in home care, health care, seniors that need help at home and also people living with disabilities. we need investments on climate action to reduce climate pollution. i can tell you here in florida, it's an issue that really unites floridians, both republicans and democrats. so i think it's a smart move, but i also think there's an opportunity to talk with republican senators. i've said this before, alicia. we have put all of our eggs in that one manchin basket, and we have to be able to bring other people to the table. maybe mitt romney, there are things he would be interested in negotiating with the democrats. let's try to do that.
we have to show the american people that when democrats are in power, we can govern. and that's what they're waiting for. they don't want to hear the intrick assies of one bill versus the other. we want to make sure we show the american people we're investing in them, in families and in our children. >> speaking to this sort of third way forward that doesn't potentially involve manchin, help me make sense of the optimism we heard from speaker pelosi and then that clip we heard from senator manchin saying that no talks have resumed. >> yeah. i will say speaker pelosi tends to usually be pretty optimistic. we've seen her pull a lot of rabbits out of hats over the years. so you didn't have to speak against her optimism when it's there. but i will say joe manchin has been kind of unclear throughout this process. one thing he has been clear about is his price tag and this $1.8 trillion counteroffer that he gave the white house in
december, that has a lot of what democrats want. so they have to make a decision if they want to come back to him with those things because the conversation has taken a back seat to voting rights. the white house contends and has continued to contend that they can walk and chew gum at the same time, something that washington, d.c. is not very good at. so i think we'll see, you know, them try to tackle voting rights and get back into build back better because one of the things that joe manchin has had concerns about is inflation. so what the white house and some of their economists have said is that they are hoping that inflation will tamper down later this year, so maybe into the spring and the summer. they've talked about that over and over. and if that's to happen, then we might see joe manchin more ready to have these conversations and get onboard. but the kerfuffle that happened at the end of december where the white house basically called him out in press releases as being the barrier for build back better really, frankly, pissed
him off. so what we're seeing is kind of an emotional response to that and whether or not they're able to bring him back to the table and have him sign off on whatever it is, it will be what joe manchin kind of wants it to be at this point. >> debbie, i got to ask you before i let you go because all of this is playing out against an ongoing pandemic. there was a big headline from your home state. nbc news reporting governor ron desantis allowed up to 1 million covid testing kits to expire. as i saw that headline, i was like, i got to know what debbie thinks about this. >> well, alicia, it's pure incompetence and negligence. we are imploding with covid. hospitalizations are rising, and desantis is completely in denial. and worse than that, he's actually helping spread misinformation regarding the effectiveness of tests and vaccines. he's trying to shut down testing centers. he is not providing that support to open up state-sponsored testing sites. he thinks that tests don't really help during this pandemic. we have a surgeon general also
who is spreading misinformation, who shows up in hospitals and takes his mask off. i mean this is pure negligence. and in order for us to move forward, to reduce the rate of virus in our communities, we need to expand testing. we need to encourage people to get vaccinated. we need to make sure that we have the resources available, and that includes those 1 million tests that, when he was missing in action for a couple of weeks before the new year, he had them on stockpile and denied that he had any knowledge of it until the news broke out that, in fact, they had close to 1 million tests that they were saving, i don't know for what party they were going to have. but let me just say, alicia, that it's really disconcerting to be living in a state where i can assure you that many floridians know that desantis has gone completely off the deep end. he's not leading. he is hiding behind a crisis, and i have called him on that. i think it's borderline criminal. >> debbie, eugene, thank you
both for spending some time with us. next, teachers are at a breaking point. so are parents as the omicron variant disrupts in-person learning yet again. plus what we can do as a country to prevent another insurrection as the world watches and take notes of the strength of our american democracy. first here's a preview of what's coming up in the 9:00 p.m. eastern hour of msnbc tonight. i'm ayman mohyeldin. tonight on ayman, from my podcast american radical, lana and justin cave, the brother-in-law and sister of rosanne boyland who died in the attack on the capitol, will join us in their first television interview together. that's tonight, 9:00 eastern, on msnbc. like the splash they create the entrance they make, the surprises they initiate. otezla. it's a choice you can make. otezla is not a cream. it's a pill that treats plaque psoriasis differently. with otezla, 75% clearer skin is achievable.
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tonight is a night of tragedy and pain, and tomorrow we begin to rebuild. we rebuild their lives and give them hope, especially those who came all the way from africa in search of a better life right here in this great borough, the borough of the bronx. they're part of our family. >> new york governor kathy hochul just moments ago with a promise to the families in the bronx who are grieving tonight. she promised to support them, help them rebuild their lives. so did mayor eric adams and senator chuck schumer. 19 people were killed, 9 of them children, an unspeakable tragedy
just days into the new year. this was an immigrant community, many of them from africa, trying to make a better life for themselves in new york city. we do know at this hour the fire started in an apartment on the lower floors of a 19-story apartment building. a malfunctioning space heater appears to be to blame. fire officials say flames and smoke quickly spread through the building because the door to the apartment was left open. those who did escape said it was terrifying. >> well, i got woken up out of my sleep, saying that there was black smoke coming inside of our apartment. then i look out my window, and it's flames coming out of the window. >> what was it like seeing the flames? >> it was nerve-racking because they were telling us we were okay, but it didn't feel like it. >> you said the firefighters escorted you down a ladder? >> mm-hmm. >> what was that like for new. >> i was shaking so scary. >> there are many questions tonight about smoke detectors and fire codes and how this
happened. investigators will try to find answers, and we will continue to follow this story. it looks like we could be headed toward another crisis, teachers joining the great resignation. for a brief moment, there was optimism this school year would go much smoother. but teachers and students returned to buildings that lacked adequate ventilation and protective equipment, and they became entangled in contentious debates over vaccine and testing requirements. 1 in 3 states has already prohibited covid-19 vaccination mandates in school, a move that seems to be entirely political considering other vaccines for measles, polio, and chickenpox are still required. all of this coupled with low wages has caused teachers to quit in droves. the rapidly spreading omicron surge is only complicating things, making many teachers more adamant about covid safety protocols. some schools have returned to remote learning or completely canceled classes. chicago public schools have been
in the headlines due to a highly contentious debate between the teachers union and the school district. teachers are pushing for remote learning while the school district says in-person learning is necessary. as a result, chicago public schools closed down for several days last week. >> we know that the safest place for kids to be is in-person learning in schools, and we've spent hundreds of millions of dollars to make our schools safe. they are safe. we've got the data to demonstrate that. we've got to get the teachers union to get real and get serious about getting back into in-person learning. >> cdc director rochelle walensky agrees with the chicago mayor that safety protocols are already in place. >> i want to remind people that in the fall of this year, we had a delta surge, and we were able to safely keep our children in school before we had pediatric vaccination. fast forward to now, we have pediatric vaccination.
of course jurisdiction is going to have to make these decisions locally, but what i will say is the most important thing we can do is get our children vaccinated, get our teachers vaccinated, get our teenagers vaccinated and then to practice all of those layered mitigation strategies that have been proven to work. >> amidst all of this, white house covid advisers say we need to change our strategy when it comes to dealing with the pandemic and start learning how to live with the virus as an endemic. we're going to have more on what that strategy looks like after the break. offer prescription copays as low as zero dollars? ♪ ♪ so you won't have a medicare in the world. ♪ ♪ plus, 90-day refills and same day delivery. larry? that's even less to medicare about. fill your medicare prescriptions with walgreens and save. ♪ ♪
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former white house covid advisers are calling on the biden administration to change its approach to the covid-19 pandemic. instead of aiming to eliminate it, they're calling on the white house to update its strategy to help americans cope with living with the virus, writing, quote, covid-19 must now be considered among the risks posed by all respiratory viral illnesses combined. without a strategic plan for the new normal with endemic covid-19, more people in the u.s. will unnecessarily experience morbidity and mortality, health inequities will widen, and trillions will be lost from the u.s. economy. this time the nation must learn and prepare effectively for the future. joining me now, one of those advisers, dr. celine gounder, is an infectious disease specialist. also with us, dr. uche blackstock, founder and ceo of advancing health equity and an msnbc medical contributor.
two of my favorites. thank you both so much for being with us. dr. gounder, paint a picture for us. what would this change in strategy look like, let's say, in the next month? >> well, i think we've been very focused on vaccination as the way out of this. don't get me wrong. vaccination is number one, number two, number three most important tools in the toolbox. but understanding that we cannot eliminate covid, we cannot eradicate covid, we will have to continue to coexist with it if we want to bring the levels of hospitalizations and deaths in line with what we've had pre-covid from other respiratory illnesses. right now we're at about ten times as many deaths as we were seeing in a bad year pre-covid. we really are going to have to make use of other mitigation measures. so that's masking, indoor air filtration and ventilation, testing both to isolate infectious people as well as to treat people. we're going to have to make
total use of all the tools in the toolbox. >> can you just explain to me, i think there were a lot of people that sort of wrapped their minds around that, and then the omicron variant completely scrambled that sense of what a new normal could look like. i think we're all clear it's probably not going to be the last variant that we are grappling with. as new variants enter the system, to what extent does that complicate and change the equation? >> it certainly does complicate things, particularly if you're talking about a variant like omicron that, one, is somewhat immune-evading. so the immune defenses we've built up either from vaccination or perhaps from prior infection are simply not as protective. but also this is a highly infectious variant. it spreads very easily from person to person, and it has a very short incubation period. and so those three characteristics are really this triple whammy that makes omicron particularly problematic and challenging. >> dr. blackstock, i want you to
help me paint a picture for our audience because i think there's both what the white house needs to do, what this administration needs to do, and then there's the expectation setting for what those of us who are just average americans are going to be facing. so as covid-19 moves to endemic status, what should we expect living with this virus to actually look like in our day-to-day lives? >> right. so alicia, i think it's important for people to understand what a public health response involves. and it involves commitment from every individual in society. so we have to do our part on an individual level, so it may mean that when we do have outbreaks, we'll have to bring out those masks again. we may have to go for a rapid test -- rapid test ourselves or go for testing more often. we may have to refrain from large gatherings or indoor public spaces. essentially, we have to modify our behavior. we're definitely not near endemic phase yet.
we're still in crisis mode. so we need those individual behavior changes, but we also need to put policies in place, policies that are needed to implement these mitigation measures so that we can definitively head into that endemic phase. >> here's the thing, dr. blackstock, which is i am sure both of you already are doing those things. will those efforts work if you do not have people onboard at scale? >> that's such a great question, alicia. that's why we need policy. that's why policies are so incredible important. so to tell people go get vaccinated, to tell them go wear a mask, i think it only has so much of an impact. that's why we do need data driven mask policies. that's why we also need vaccine mandates as well and upgrades in air filtration and ventilation standards for buildings. i cannot emphasize how important policy is. that's why we do need our local,
state, and federal leaders onboard to implement those policies and to do it with clear messaging and explain what is the evidence and the data behind these changes. i think that is an area that we have been remiss on over the last two years. the messaging piece is incredibly important. and it should be part of any successful pandemic response. >> i'm so sorry, i thought that you were done there. dr. gunder, what does this look like for schools? and let me be even more specific, which is there is now a vaccine that is available for children 5 and up. so there's sort of that piece of it. there's also the fact that a lot of those children, like in my own home, perhaps, and yours, have a sibling who is too young to be vaccinated. that is going to continue to be our reality for a while, so for schools, how do they need to be thinking about this? and for families that have some
member of their households who is not yet eligible for vaccinations, how is that all going to work? >> alicia, is it safe for kids to be in school for in-person learning? is it safe for teachers and staff to be in school? absolutely, yes. if everyone is getting vaccinated, everyone over the age 5 and up can get vaccinated, is eligible to get vaccinated, and absolutely should get vaccinated right now. and in addition, they should be layering some of those other measures. in particular, mask wearing is really important right now. particularly in the face of omicron. and we're really counselling people to up their masking. so use higher quality masks like a kn-95 or a full n-95 mask. those are available now unlike at the earl -- in the early days of the pandemic where there were shortages. that is not a reason today not to wear one of those masks. they are widely available. yes, we should make them cheaper. yes, we should make them more
readily available, but it does eliminate most of the risk. in addition, you have funding in the c.a.r.e.s. act, the american rescue plan, the infrastructure bill. hundreds of billions of dollars for k-12 schools to improve their indoor ventilation and air filtration, for whatever reason, schools have not spent the funds in that way. and that is an area where i think we really do need to hold schools accountable. >> dr. blackstock, i have about 30 seconds left but i want to give you the final word. >> in terms of schools, i agree with dr. gunder. i think schools can be open, but they need to have the tools and they don't have the tools. that's a challenge. many children are not yet fully vaccinated. many of them don't have access to masks. many schools don't even have access to rapid tests. so schools can be open, only if they have all the tools to keep -- to stay open safely. i don't think we're there yet.
i do think that depends on the area, depends on economic background of the students, that we should consider remote learning option for certain communities. i think that's an equity focused answer to some of the school issues we're having. >> thank you both so much. >> following breaking news out of the bronx. at least 19 people have been killed in the worst fire in new york city in more than 30 years. nine of them children. fire officials say it was started by a faulty space heater in one of the apartments. we're going to continue to bring you updates. at the top of the hour, why our neighbors to the north are sounding the alarm about a, quote, terrible storm coming from the south. that's us. a conversation about how we prevent another attack like january 6th. and why our current political climate is concerning for canada and other countries. europe with viking, you'll get closer to iconic landmarks, to local life and legendary treasures
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this hour, how to prevent america's next insurrection. extremism on the rise, fake news flooding social media, what must change now to protect our democracy? >> plus, abbott wants another round as texas governor. former hud sector julian castro how a man can defeat the mainstream politics. >> and from his business to his time in office, are the walls closing in on donald trump. new details that could spell legal liability for the former
president and his family. >> plus, an update on that breaking news in the bronx. 19 lives including children lost. after a fire swept through their high-rise. officials a short time ago revealing what sparked it. >> a new hour of "american voices" begins right now. thanks for being with us. i'm alicia menendez. we begin this hour with what the world is saying about us. they worry our democracy is being dismantled. while republicans would have you believe falsely that one of the greatest threats to our country comes from our neighbors to the south, it turns out our neighbors to the north, canada, same feeling about us. they fear we, the united states, are making global democracy less secure. here's how an op-ed in canada's top newspaper puts it. by 2025, american democracy could collapse, causing extreme domestic, political instability. including widespread civil violence.