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tv   CNN Newsroom  CNN  December 22, 2020 9:00am-10:00am PST

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hello, everyone. kate bolduan. top of the hour. countries are racing to understand the new coronavirus variant spreading rapidly across united kingdom. the cdc says it hasn't been identified yet in the u.s., dr. anthony fauci says best to assume it is probably already here. >> when you have this amount of spread in a place like the uk, you really need to assume that it's here already and certainly is not the dominant strain but i would not be surprised at all if it is already here.
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>> around the world, at least 40 countries are taking immediate action, halting travel from united kingdom. the trump administration has not followed suit. we are hearing the white house is considering options, considering requiring all passengers from uk to present proof of negative test before arriving in the country. the good news now, the ceo of pfizer's vaccine partner biontech says he is confident the vaccine will be effective fighting the new variant, moderna and pfizer are right now testing the theory. let me bring in cnn's elizabeth cohen for more on this. what more are you hearing about the variant? >> kate, let's talk about some of the basics of the variant. this is a variant found in the uk. they can trace it back to september 20th near london. you can imagine as dr. fauci referred to how much travel happened from london to the u.s. since then. uk scientists say they're
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confident that it is more transmissible. and now six out of ten cases of covid-19 in london are the new variant which has only been around a couple of months. this is important. most of the cases are in people under 60. kate, the reason why it is important is those are the people often, not always, often are asymptomatic, barely symptomatic. they don't even know they're sick and running around with this. that might be part of the reason why this variant is so transmissible. we were talking about the vaccine, biontech as well as others say they don't think the variant will be a problem for the vaccine. they think the vaccine will get it under control just fine. even if that's true, if this variant is spreading quickly, that means we have to have lots of people getting vaccinated. the vaccine needs to keep up with this quickly spreading virus in order to achieve herd
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immunity. >> something crossed, a new study taking a look at just how effective face coverings are. what does it say? >> it says that they are effective but that they are not going to be enough to curb the spread of the virus unless we also social distance. in other words, to say masks are great but they need to be paired with social distancing. what the physicists did, these are physicists, not mds, they made a machine that sneezes and coughs, simulating a real infected person. then they put various masks on the machine, cloth, surgical masks, n95, they found for all except the n95, things were still sometimes getting through. that's why you need to pair masks with social distancing. i know when i have been out and about, people seem to be good about masks but i noticed people are getting lazy about social distancing because -- i shouldn't say lazy, that sounds mean. it is hard to do social distancing. it is easier to throw on a mask.
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really, we need to pair the two of those together. >> thanks. appreciate it. also today, historic moment. dr. anthony fauci, the country's top infectious disease expert, a man the country has come to depend on for guidance throughout the pandemic, he along with secretary of health and human services and director of national institute of health receive their first doses of the moderna, covid vaccine, all before cameras. >> as a symbol to the rest of the country that i feel extreme confidence in the safety and efficacy of the vaccine, and i want to encourage everyone who has the opportunity to get vaccinated so we could have a veil of protection over the country to end this pandemic. >> i have complete confidence in safety and efficacy of these vaccines and i'm just so grateful to nih, moderna, and all of the participants, operation warp speed for bringing us to this point where we can see the light at the end of the tunnel from this dark
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period. >> shipments of moderna are going out across the country as we speak. alexandra field is at jefferson health, new jersey, where the first batch is being administered. alex, take us through what's happening there. >> reporter: hey, kate. these are three hospitals in southern new jersey that didn't receive pfizer vaccines. today is the first opportunity for their front line workers to get any covid vaccine. they're getting the moderna vaccine. they started with 30 front line workers this morning, they'll ramp up to 200 every day here on out, at least that's the plan now. kate, no matter how many front line workers get the injection, we have to remember how important it is to each of them, to their families. they sacrificed so much over so many months. renee stevens, a nurse who works on the covid floors was first to volunteer to roll up her sleeve. she reflected on what the last months have been like for her as she worked day in, day out with
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the most suffering covid patients. >> never in your mind's eye could anyone imagine what health care professionals have been going through the last nine months. we were not winning the war. it is not even close to being over. i feel like the vaccine is an essential part of this. >> reporter: she went on to say she felt blessed to have the opportunity to get the vaccine and said part of the reason she wanted to do this first and do it on camera is serve as a role model for others. she says within her church community, she learned about hesitancy toward the vaccine, she wants others to see it. she says if they follow science, it will lead them where she ended up today with a vaccine in her arm. kate? >> thanks for bringing it to us. joining me, founder of the scripps foundational institute. good to see you. it is wonderful to see more shots going out and more shots
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administered. it is interesting if you look at the numbers, millions and millions, close to 5 million doses have been distributed so far in the first seven days, but just 600,000 doses have been administered according to the tracking numbers put out. what do you think drives the disconnect? do you understand why that is? >> good to be with you, kate. i think the disconnect is really just the logistics of getting vaccines out to health care workers and nursing homes. it's going to move, to get 600,000 already vaccinated, at least first dose, is a good sign. there will be a catch up. won't be as ambitious as the initial projections were for december but as the practical aspects now are two vaccines out there move forward, the numbers will start moving pretty fast. we've got a couple hundred million to go. there's no shortage of the challenge. >> that's for sure.
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the cdc on the new variant that everyone is tracking, the cdc says the new variant is not yet detected in the united states. we did hear dr. anthony fauci saying to assume it is already here. could it be here and still be undetected? >> certainly could be, kate. it has already shown up in italy, denmark, australia, netherlands. it would be likely it will show up here as sequencing progresses, it may be found. it is a variant that is clearly associated with more trans-missability. the magnitude of that isn't entirely clear. we can see in the spike protein that there's a change, a typo there accounting for that. as data is accruing quickly now, we're getting a better understanding what's driving this increase infectiousness, but not more illness.
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as everything suggests that the vaccine efficacy will not be effected. >> look, understanding it better is critical, every part of this virus because of the -- in order to be inappropriate response, not an overreaction, if you will. i am curious what you think of how dozens of countries are restricting travel from the uk in response, the united states has not. there's actually been pretty much silence from federal health authorities other than dr. fauci on the concept of travel restrictions. do you think the cdc should have spoken up by now with definitive guidance on travel to and from the uk in light of this? >> good question, kate. as you saw, canada blocked travel, most other countries have. we have another problems to have this variant with clear
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increased transmission issues isn't going to help us. i think it is something seriously worth considering, getting this travel band for a stretch, yeah. >> for a stretch. i'm curious what you think of the study elizabeth cohen pointed out, not necessarily by doctors but by physicists that what they found is masks are effective, they do help and work but they don't work completely without social distancing. and what they were looking at in the study is six feet. if you're less than six feet and wearing a mask, there are still enough droplets going through the mask, around the mask, that you could still get sick. what do you think of this? >> right. well, elizabeth did a good job describing it. basically in the new paper, physics fluid, it was simulating coughs and sneezes very close, tight in. and it was clear that masks
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don't fully protect. the distancing is also critical. as she said, we can't just think the masks are going to be giving us this sense of protection because if you're with someone that's infectious and up close as simulated, it is definitely something that's going to be a liability. >> is going from the broad to m narrow, california is seeing an explosion of cases, doctor. i just spoke with a top doc from usc medical center in los angeles, he couldn't have put it more bluntly. he was pleading with people to take care, be more cautious. he says they're overflowing with covid and trying to bail the water out as fast as they can, but he says they may not be able to keep up. what is driving the spread in california? >> well, exponential spread,
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once it gets going is hard to control it. part of the problem is there's been a stay at home order in many parts of california but it is not being adhered to. so we know in san diego if you move around, you'll see it is not any semblance of people staying home, so part of it is that, part of it is already unleash, unbridled spread. hospital resources and staffing especially are getting taxed maximally. we have to turn this around, get as aggressive as possible. >> that's for sure. doctor, thank you. >> sure. thank you. coming up for us, president-elect joe biden, he pledged to reopen most schools, the majority of schools in the country for in person learning in his first 100 days. where his possible education secretary stands on getting kids back in the classroom next. that massive cyber attack
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breached the treasury department. what he says was compromised in the suspected russian attack. ea. spend less, get way more. shop everything home at wayfair today.
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president-elect joe biden will be giving a year end address and filling his cabinet with another big announcement expected soon. sources tell cnn he is expected to pick migel cordona as education secretary. jessica dean is joining us. education secretary is an important pick in a cabinet, especially in the midst of this extraordinarily challenging moment with schools shutdown all over the country. a lot of focus on the decision.
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>> reporter: you're absolutely right, kate. that's something that factored into joe biden's decision. cordona is known as a proponent getting as many kids back to school as possible, also something joe biden said is a key priority. he wants as many schools open by end of the first 100 days as possible. he is hoping that cordona can help him do that. he also, biden also promised whomever he chose would be a teacher and he is a former elementary school teacher and principal. he fulfills that promise as well. he was also endorsed by the congressional hispanic caucus. there's a lot of pressure on biden. he pledged to put together a diverse cabinet, also a lot of outside pressure on him as well. if confirmed, it would add another latino as a key member of biden's cabinet, kate. we expect formal announcement on
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this very soon. >> and biden still hasn't come to a decision on another major post in the cabinet, attorney general. is there is any indication that you're getting when he might be making that announcement? >> reporter: right. originally biden said he hoped to have the whole cabinet announced by christmas. here we are, december 22nd. it is increasingly clear that's not going to happen. he technically has six slots to fill, five we don't know who will be filling them, chief among them, attorney general, who is going to be running his department of justice. reporting indicates it is down, two top contenders are judge merrick garland and doug jones, outgoing senator doug jones. those are two top contenders as it plays out now. kate, all indications are that any announcement on attorney general will come after the holidays. >> jessica, thank you. now to a troubling new revelation about reach of the suspected russian cyber attack on the federal government.
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top democrat on senate finance committee, senator ron wyden, says hackers gained access to treasury department email accounts and systems used by the department's highest ranking officials. josh campbell has been looking into this, joins me now. what are you learning about the breach? >> good morning. investigators are investigating the fallout. we are learning the treasury department was one of the agencies impacted. as you mention, that coming from senator ron wyden, top democrat on the senate banking committee. he says in a statement microsoft notified the agencies that dozens of email accounts were compromised. additionally, they broke into systems in departmental office division of treasury, home to the highest ranking officials. secretary steve mnuchin told cnbc that the department was impacted. he said at this point doesn't look like there was any mass ex-kul trags, but important to note we talked about the what that happened here, also
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important to note why. folks may think the u.s. treasury department, russian hackers gained access to information on u.s. monetary policy. treasury department is much more than that. there's a terrorism and intelligence directate, an arm that works to sanction foreign official and regimes. past several years, several russian oligarchs have been sanctioned by the treasury department. accessing that information could prove beneficial to a foreign intelligence service. now we also know that although the president and others have been trying to down play significance, experts say it remains very serious, it has a wide reach, wide scope. president trump as he has done through much of the administration down played the attack, giving cover for the russians, saying it could be the chinese at play here. that flies completely in the face of what we hear from experts, including the secretary of state, mike pompeo, and u.s. attorney general, bill barr, saying yesterday at this point all signs point to russia. kate? >> with the scope of this being
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so massive, josh, what are you hearing how u.s. intelligence officials assess damage of such a large breach and how do they know the hackers aren't still inside the government's network. >> it is a massive undertaking. first, they have to determine what is the scope, how many systems are we talking about, how many networks. that's the first step. then they have to go through meticulously, trying to ensure the malicious code they know about that's coming from the victimized company that kicked all this off that those indicators are not still in systems. we know from past attacks that attackers are very good. they burrow into systems. remediation takes a lot of work. ron wyden said it could be months before they have the confidence, u.s. government, to ensure the hackers are out of the system. until then, investigators continue to deal with foul yaou
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and conduct assessments. >> thank you. still ahead, warnings came early and often, do not travel for the holidays, despite warnings from health officials across the board. record numbers of americans are doing just that. how do you stay safe this holiday season if you are traveling, if you are getting together with family. drivers who switched & saved, averaged $718 dollars. saving is easy when you're in good hands. call a local agent, or 1-800-allstate for a quote today.
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despite warnings from health
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experts not to travel over the holidays, tsa is reporting they screened over a million people a day for the past three days, a first since the start of the pandemic. let's check in with pete muntean outside dulles. what are you seeing today? >> reporter: kate, plenty of people are still traveling, in spite of the cdc telling them not to and they're setting new records of the pandemic. the tsa says more than a million people passed through security at america's airports friday, again saturday, again on sunday, nearly a million yesterday. it is that three day million passenger streak that's interesting. numbers we haven't seen before during the pandemic, not even around thanksgiving holiday. even still, numbers are about 40% of travel numbers of a year ago, and we have been talking to travelers that feel they're still safe, they're taking every precaution to do so. here's what they said. >> we are definitely much more
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careful than usual. i brought hand sanitizer, constantly hand sanitizing, careful not to touch everything and just be careful about what we're around. >> definitely took a lot of precautions like when i got on the plane, i wiped down everything with the wipes they gave us which is nice. last thing i want to do is spread covid. >> reporter: holiday travelers from united kingdom can still come here. the faa is monitoring the situation closely. no new restrictions from the federal government. now it is on airlines to take this up. delta says it will test passengers as they arrive in the united states from the united kingdom. kate, still flights from the uk and london arriving here at dulles international airport. >> pete, thanks for the update. i want to play for you what dr. anthony fauci said is his best advice for celebrating this
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christmas. >> we don't want to cancel christmas but you have to tone down plans, try to minimize travel, try to avoid large congregations of people indoors, dinners with 20, 25 people. we know how difficult it is in a wonderful season like christmas to tone down these kinds of things but we need to hang in there. >> so how can you enjoy the holidays most safely? joining me, professor of biology at university of massachusetts dartmouth, cnn contributor. good to see you. as we heard from pete, the reality is people are traveling at record levels now. what should people do to stay safe if they're flying this week? >> yes, so it was interesting listening to what those people they interviewed said about doing extra stuff to stay safe. we're not touching things, sanitizing our hands, wiping down benches.
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that does not keep you safe. we know more than ever that infection is about the air you share. you infected by inhaling tiny droplets into your mouth and lungs. so people are still getting it wrong. if you're going to jump in a big metal tube, an airplane, with a lot of people, a million people every day flying now, you're going to be sharing a lot of air and washing your hands may help a little bit but it is not going to help with the big side of things. people are still getting this wrong, even now. it is the air we share. any space that's indoors, enclosed with lots of people is high risk for transmission. it is that simple. >> i appreciate the way you put it. it is the air we share. we are learning more how this is transmitted and that is the main take away of how we are. health officials are pleading with people to cancel holiday gatherings. what should people think about when considering whether to visit friends and family?
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>> yeah, i mean, same rules as we talked there, the air we share. one of the things that stuck out to me with my own research lately is realizing how poor the air quality is inside our own homes. inside commercial buildings there's air brought from the outside brought in, they're filtering it, taking care of air quality in most spaces. inside our house, we have them buttoned up tight. when you bring in one person, another household, multiple households in, all of you are sharing each other's air across a dining table, enjoying a drink, enjoying a meal, and that's just where we are seeing infections flourish. we need to think about how we do this smarter. that's why they're saying make the gathering as small as possible. each new household you bring in brings in risk from their particular group, their associations in the last few
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weeks. we have to keep it small. we have to keep it preferably to your own household. you also need to look at ventilation, filtration, distance. cracking a window or two can have a big effect on improving safety. you have to think about how we make it safer inside our homes. >> also comes down to a time period as well, how long you're exposed to droplets. i have been thinking about this, christmas is different than thanksgiving in that people are often getting together for longer period of time, multiple days, multiple meals. if that's the case, how do you mitigate for that? >> yeah. you're exactly right. duration is one of the things people really haven't connected. when you wear a mask, for example, you lower the amount of droplets coming out and ones that come in, and gives you longer time in that space before you can become infected. we know during holidays and family gatherings, we're not
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going to have masks, so duration becomes one of the most important things in regards to infection. so you really need to ensure if you are going to get together and you are going to have multiple families there, keep it short. as much as we love to say don't do it, don't do it, we have chosen not to do it this christmas, our christmas is virtual with our families. but you have to keep it short, keep it distant, well ventilated to keep it safe. >> which is hard because it is cold outside in so many places. this is why it becomes incrementally more problematic. is there research that colder, drier air of winter impacts spread differently than in the summer? >> yes. way out of my field, but following the work of lindsey mar, they've done incredible work in aerosols, how they persist in the air.
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what we know, when it is colder, droplets that you breathe out evaporate quickly, lose water around them that makes them lighter and they stay in the air longer whereas in more humid conditions, they don't evaporate as fast and fall to the ground. so it does change things over winter just in regards to relative humidity. we know cold allows it to survive longer. part of the reason we move efficiently in meat packing facilities, it allowed the virus to stay viable, infectious in the air and surfaces for much longer. >> this is important. i appreciate it. thanks, aaron. >> you're welcome. coming up, congress passes a $900 billion coronavirus relief package. it includes more money going directly to millions of americans. who will be getting the long
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congress finally pushed through a covid relief package. here's what's in it. the $900 billion deal provides direct payments of $600 for some adults and their children, the plan also pays out an extra $300 per week in unemployment benefits. $284 billion is earmarked for small business, and there's more money for vaccine distribution.
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and an extension, albeit brief, on the eviction moratorium. the question is when and how will people see the help? christina, what do people need to know first and foremost about getting the $600 payments? >> reporter: it is a critical question, kate. before we get into the details, i want to say this is a welcome news for many americans around the country but simply not enough for millions that are facing food insecurity and housing insecurity. on those details specifically people, this should happen automatically for people that filed for the 2019 tax returns, if they're receiving social security, they should get payments automatically. also if they registered for the first round of payments through the irs portal, they should be getting those automatically. word of caution, first time the
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payments were done that the irs did miss 12 million people, so there's going to be some friction finding people for sure. direct deposit will be the quickest way to get your money. if your bank account is on file with the irs, those payments will hit first, followed by paper checks and prepaid debit cards. secretary mnuchin was on air yesterday talking about the fact that checks should go out before the end of the year. as we discovered last time around, it will be weeks before most people will see checks. you have to be eligible for this benefit. anyone making under $75,000 will be eligible. it is double for couples. and starts phasing out after reaching that 75,000 income level. 99,000, the benefit, completely phases out and those people will not be eligible. >> this deal also includes $25 billion in rental assistance.
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who gets that benefit? >> reporter: so just to be clear, this money is funneled through state programs but the federal government did set some conditions on this, among them you have to make 80% of the average income in your area, one or more members of your household has to be experiencing some kind of financial hardship or unemployment because of the pandemic, and one or more members of the household have to be facing risk of eviction or homelessness, kate. this is a dire circumstance for many people in this country and there's no doubt about the fact that the biden administration is going to want to do more when it comes in after january 20th. >> a lot of details people need to know as you go through it. thank you very much. up next, a new report, senior military officials are worried about what could come next from the white house. why some are so concerned about president trump's final days in office.
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the we have to find just nosomething good luck! what does that mean? we are doomed. [laughter] that's it. i figured it out! we're going to give togetherness. that sounds dumb. we're going to take all those family moments and package them. hmm. [laughing] that works.
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growing concern from inside the administration over president trump's obsession with overturning the election in his last month in office. cnn's barbara starr reports that anxiety is felt among senior ranks of the military. almost a dozen current military officers describe concerns from senior commanders about actions the president might take. one officer at the pentagon saying we don't know what he might do. cnn is reporting senior military leaders are avoiding the white house at this point in hopes that they won't be drawn into
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the president's orbit, and what he is focused on. joining me, lieutenant general mark hurtling, military analyst. good to see you again. what's your level of concern what the next 30 days could mean after what you have seen playing out? >> good to see you too, kate. what i would say is right now during any transition, that's what we're in now, the military commanders across the board are very concerned about preparing for the new commander in chief. president-elect biden is going to have quite a few questions for them. at the same time, they're concerned about as you said being pulled into the further lunacy of what's going on in the trump administration because they've seen it happen already in many instances, the border wall, transgender issue, some changing of budgetary requirements, bringing people who are in court marshal off the
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line. all these things have concerned the military and they're hearing the kinds of things coming out of the white house that are being reported by you and others and certainly that concerns them because they don't want to be drawn into this chaos. so they're preparing for the next president and at the same time hoping they don't get pulled into twhat the current administration is doing. >> when you hear the conspiracy theory attorney and michael flynn being in there, former retired general, former national security adviser, former director of defense intelligence agency, what do you make of the fact he is floating this idea of sending the military into battleground states to rerun the election. >> yeah, kate, i'll be careful commenting on general flynn, he was a colleague when we both served together. all i will say is he is a bitter man now, and has been given a platform to voice his bitterness and that's unfortunate.
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there's something wrong with this individual that he is suggesting things that all of us in the military know violate constitutional norms and regulations and laws. i think again, he's in a position where he's influencing the president and it is unfortunate that you have an individual like this doing just that. the thing i remind everyone, i think we have a good indication of who general flynn was, last july 4th, he swore an oath to qanon. that was the final straw to me. as much as i would like to say he did rise to the highest ranks in the military and people are questioning and painting the military with a broad brush because he was allowed to rise to those ranks, something has happened to that individual and it is unfortunate. >> while this is happening, i want to get your thought on the fact that the president is threatening to veto the annual bill that sets defense spending
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priorities. look, that can sound boring, mundane, but it is hugely important. what is the impact of that? >> yeah, i'm telling you from a former theater commander perspective, when i commanded in europe, we were waiting desperately for congress to sign the budget and get it to us. we have now delayed this probably every year for the last ten years. there's never been a budget given on time. from the operational perspective, it influences negatively the kinds of things we're doing in the military. let's take it down to a personal level. because that budget wasn't signed before the 15th of the month, soldiers and sailors, marines, airmen across the board didn't get mid month pay. there are some financial institutions saying they'll cover soldiers during that period of time because they didn't get a mid month paycheck and that's unfortunate, but truthfully, kate, what i say, too, it is not just the
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president, this is congress' fault. it is their primary responsibility to pass a budget and they haven't done it in a long time. i wou i would hope elected officials could show actions rather than words. >> thanks for coming in as always. up next, thousands of trucks stranded at ports and airports in the uk. the country remains cut off in europe over fears of the new variant of the coronavirus. we'll get the latest from the uk next. when you shop with wayfair, you spend less and get way more. so you can bring your vision to life. for small prices, you can build big dreams. spend less, get way more. shop everything home at wayfair today.
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the white house is considering plans of providing a negative covid test as 40 countries are already taking action, halting travel from the uk. uk itself imposed new emergency measures inside the country. what's the latest you're hearing on this? >> reporter: we heard from one of the uk's largest supermarket chains, taking the extraordinary step of placing purchasing limits on some essential products. they're so concerned about shortages in the leadup to christmas that they're going to put a cap on what customers can purchase. the worry is it still won't be enough, kate. whatever happens, unless there's resolution to the ban, unless a deal is reached around potential testing for all truck drivers coming into the uk, which is an
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extraordinary number, there are 3,000 of them stuck down in ports as we speak. unless there's a way to meaning fully test them, we could seafood shortages after christmas. this is in a g8 economy. it begs belief for so many. >> the images of striking, how things are lined up, stuck and clogged. dr. anthony fauci has called the travel bans from other countries draconian measure. is there any sense there this is an overreaction? >> reporter: unfortunately the sense is the reaction wasn't strong enough. for months, medical experts called on the government to put in place stronger measures. even a few days ago, we were talking about potential of households to mix for christmas. now the government back pedalled on. the sense is throughout that the government have not listened to data. whatever the scientists are
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saying about this being a strain that has higher transmission, this is a strain more difficult to deal with, it is still relying on human behavior to spread it, kate. >> good point. wonderful to see you. thank you very much. thank you for joining us. hello, beand a gold reeg a in for brianna keilar. welcome to viewers in the united states and around the world. we begin this afternoon with a warning, new variant of covid may already be in the united states. now dr. fauci says it is probably in the u.s. as well. >> when you have this amount of spread in a place like the uk, you really need to assume that it's here already. it m