tv CNN Newsroom With Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto CNN December 22, 2021 7:00am-8:00am PST
very good wednesday morning. i'm jim sciutto. to be clear. no shutdowns, no lockdowns. right now the u.s. is seeing a big increase in new covid infections. with that, a major surge in some parts of the country in demand for testing. president biden laid out his plan to fight the fast-spreading omicron variant, a plan which includes several new measures to expand both testing and vaccinations. as americans begin to gather for the holidays, president biden reassured them he will not close down the country, saying those who are vaccinated can celebrate safely while sending a sharp message to those who still don't have their shots. >> almost everyone who has died from covid-19 in the past many months has been unvaccinated.
and i honest to god believe it's your patriotic duty. the choice can be the difference between life or death. please get vaccinated. >> the data is so clear. those who are vaccinated, much lower chance of being hospitalized or dying. the surge in new infections has led to an increase in hospitalization. this is important. while infections are jumping, it is overall hospitalizations we need to keep an eye on. those are the people getting severely ill. right now, to be clear, they are rising steadily but not yet speaking. let's begin with one look at the demand for testing this morning. cnn's shimon prokupecz, he's at a pop-up testing site in new york. the good thing here is people want to know their status. they want to be able to protect themselves and the people around them. more people want those tests than there is availability. how is the city responding to that? >> reporter: hundreds of thousands of people here in new york and new york city demanding -- the demand for
testing is so high, so they're going to try to increase the number of city-run sites. it's sites like this all across manhattan and new york city where private businesses, private labs have opened up these kinds of pop-up locations where people can come and get tested, rapid tests and pcr tests. people have been lining up pretty steadily coming through. there's a good system here getting tested and leaving. the positivity rate certainly concerning for new york city. it's over 11%. the latest numbers show some 14,000 people just here in new york city have tested positive, slightly down from 15,000 the day before. despite all this, jim, the mayor today really sounding positive, saying that despite all of this, people should live their lives. >> we are not telling people to hide or hunker down or surrender to this situation. we're telling people to be smart. we're not telling vaccinated
people to stop living their lives. >> and the thing, jim, obviously is he wants the mayor saying people should do things safely. the big question obviously is new year's eve and are plans going to change in terms of festivities there. he indicated this morning it looks like things will go as planned. they are going to increase some of the safety measures. he's going to let us know in the next few days what those may be. when you walk around new york city and go to restaurants and shopping, people are out and about. yes, more people are masking. indoors obviously it is required in order to go inside. even outdoors we're seeing so many people wearing masks. the safety measures are in place. but a lot of people here certainly listening to the mayor and, as you said, jim, testing is the key thing for many people. >> shimon prokupecz in new york, thanks so much.
here is an interesting question and there seems to be a possibility of movement on this, and that is the number of days you need to isolate if you test positive in the u.s. the uk announced beginning today they're cutting the self-isolation period for vaccinated people from ten days to seven days. the idea being they don't want a shortage of workers as people stay at home if they test positive. cnn chief medical correspondent elizabeth cohen joins us now. elizabeth, dr. fauci raised this possibility for health care workers on cnn's air yesterday. is this something the u.s. is considering more broadly? >> i think they're considering it very seriously. dr. rochelle walensky, the head of the cdc, also talked about it. it's been our experience when they say they're considering something, it usually does end up happening. it is for the reason you said, telling an essential worker who is vaccinated that you need to be out for ten days when maybe it might be safer to have them come back earlier and use masks
and all of the other ppe that should be used in their occupation. let's take a listen to something that dr. fauci told our colleague john berman earlier. >> that's certainly an important consideration which is being discussed right now, particularly, john, in the context of health care workers. for example, if you get a health care worker who is infected and without any symptoms at all, you don't want to keep that person out of work too very long. >> dr. fauci was talking about health care workers, other essential workers, well, the folks that keep the airlines going. the president of delta air lines wrote a letter to dr. rochelle walensky, the head of the cdc. this is what he asked her. he requested isolation for fully vaccinated people with covid-19 be shortened from ten to five days. he says, of course, there should be a test before that person ends their isolation. he noted over 90% of delta's workforce is vaccinated. jim, you mentioned the new uk
rules. in the uk they short earned their isolation from ten to seven days for vaccinated people. that's an important point. unvaccinated people with covid-19 still must isolate for ten days, yet another reason why people should get vaccinated. an unvaccinated essential worker is not very useful. if they get covid, they will need to be out for ten days. i think it's likely in the not-to-distant future that vaccinated people, their time in isolation will be shorter. >> that's a consistency. if you're vaccinated, not only are you likely to stay healthier, but you might have a shorter quarantine period. elizabeth cohen thank you. dr. leana wen is the former health commissioner for the city of baltimore and an emergency room physician. dr. wen, good to have you back. >> great to see you. >> we had dr. paul off fit on last hour. based on the data, granting it's relatively early here that we've
seen from south africa, israel, europe and early data in the u.s., do you greet with dr. off fit that omicron is looking like for vaccinated people and perha perhaps, do you share that view. >> i'm optimistic that the vaccines we have protect well from severe illness, they're protected against symptomatic milder illness, but a booster dose will help to reduce symptomatic illness as well. it's for this reason that i really agree with what president biden and many other elected leaders are saying which is unvaccinated people really need to get vaccinated. ideally they are not mixing with other people over the holidays. if you are vaccinated, you shouldn't have to cancel your holiday plans. vaccinated people have been through so much, they've given up so much. there's this sense of exhaustion all around us. we can't keep going without
seeing our loved ones and there is a way for us to do that while reducing our risk. >> president biden was very clear about that. he said, if you're vaccinated, go enjoy your holidays. >> i do wonder and granting, it's early, if this data bears out, that omicron for the vaccinated causes less severe, perhaps asymptomatic cases by and large, does that mean that the peak of this may not be as bad as some of the worst projections in recent weeks? >> well, that's the hope. the hope is that omicron, it's speaking through our population in places where it's hit. there's a very sharp rise as there was in south africa, uk and other places. but the hope is we're also going to have a sharp decline and also that there is a decoupling between infections and hospitalizations and deaths. that's what we're seeing in israel. that's, in fact, what we've seen in south africa. i hope that will bear out in the
u.s. now, this is going to be a test. there are some communities that have very low vaccination rates. it will be important to see what happens in communities with high vaccination rates and low vaccination rates. i hope that omicron doesn't cause the kind of damage that delta did in places with low vaccination rates. >> no question. this informs the next question which is, is it right in your view to be shortening the quarantine time for vaccinated people. uk is going from ten to seven. should the u.s. be the same or even shorter in your view? >> i would be interested to know if the cdc would consider this test-to-return program. in a way what uk is doing is test to return. meaning if you have a negative test, you no longer have virus, you're able to return back to work. that just makes sense to me. it makes sense for maintaining our workforce, but also right now what i'm afraid of is we're
disincentivizing people from seeking tests. they're thinking i don't even want to know if i'm positive. we're seeing the nfl stopping testing for their asymptomatic vaccinated players. i think having a test-to-return policy, shortening that period will help us to actually get people to test more. >> that's a good point. test-to-return, a good way of phrasing it. dr. leana wen, thanks for joining us. just minutes from now president biden set to meet with his cabinet and ceos from several large companies on how to deal with continuing supply chain delays. we'll bring that to you live when he speaks. plus, the white house remains adamant that the president and senator joe manchin will, in biden's words, get something done after manchin torpedoed a key piece of biden's economic agenda. did a meeting of senate democrats last night bring hope for compromise. jury deliberations in the
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right now jurors in the ghislaine maxwell sex trafficking trial are back into the deliberation room. they met for eight hours yesterday. today is supposed to be the final day of deliberations this week before the court closes for the holidays. cnn's kara scannell is in new york following developments there. kara, they sent a number of questions to the judge yesterday. oftentimes these questions can indicate to some degree what they're focusing on. what specifically are they asking? >> reporter: jim, that's right. they sent five notes yesterday, three of them on substantive
issues of evidence and the law. the first note, they wanted to see the testimony of three of the four accusers, annie farmer who testified that she was molested by maxwell in new mexico. jane who testified she was sexually abused by jeffrey epstein and maxwell in palm beach and in new york and also carolyn who testified that she was paid hundreds of dollars in cash to give epstein sexualized massages. she testified that maxwell had arranged several of these phone calls to arrange the massages. so these women all testifying that they were abused when they were 14 and 16 years old. the jury also then asked to see the fbi notes of a 2007 interview with carolyn. those notes were critical to the defense's cross examination of her because she testified about all these interactions with maxwell in the 2007 interview. she didn't mention maxwell by name at all. she only described there being an older woman with short black hair who had an accent. that's something the defense
really capitalized on. that was something that they asked -- the jury is asking to see, but that is not in evidence. the judge did not send that back. when carolyn was asked by prosecutors, she said the reason she didn't mention maxwell is because no one asked about her. also, the last note of the day, the jury said they wanted to know whether they could consider the testimony of annie farmer when looking at some of these conspiracy charges. the judge said they absolutely could. that could hit the other way for the defense. it's very hard to interpret what the jury is thinking here. a bunch of notes, an active jury. they've been deliberating now for about ten hours. this deliberation could continue today obviously until they reach a verdict. the judge is giving them the option to return tomorrow if they want to. we haven't heard yet if they're going to do that. jim. >> kara scannell outside the courthouse, thanks so much. let's speak to jennifer rodgers, former federal prosecutor herself. good to have you here.
it's like reading tea leaves when you look at these questions from jurors. given your experience, do you see anything indicative in the questions they've asked so far and the issues they're focusing on so snar. >> it's really only possible to know they're working through the charges. whenever they're asking for evidence, it means jurors are debating. there will be some jurors who believe the victims and are leaning towards guilty, others who maybe are more skeptical. what they do is they say don't you remember the testimony of carolyn, for example. let's get that and that may convince you. so that's the sort of thing going on. luckily they haven't said they're having any problems, that they're unable to reach a verdict, anything like that. it seems to me they're doing their work, going through the charges. we'll see what happens. >> fair enough, enough said. some lawyers have noted that jeffrey epstein's original plea agreement with federal prosecutors barred future prosecution of co-conspirators.
does that raise the possibility of any verdict reached here would be challenged on appeal? >> no, because those issues were litigated pretrial. when the case was first charged, there was litigation about whether or not the indictment was appropriate because of that agreement. that issue is resolved as to the trial part. she can raise any issue she wishes to on appeal if she's convicted. but the trial court did a thorough investigation of that. so i wouldn't expect that to be a problem down the road. >> other trials we're following, of course, one being the trial of former minnesota police officer kim potter, but also the elizabeth holmes case. potter first. her defense in effect is i made a mistake, but i'm remorseful. i'm sorry for it. legally -- by the way, juries respond to emotions, too. they're human beings. legally where does the defense stand here? >> not a strong case for the
defense legally. there was more than sufficient evidence to show that potter was at least negligent if not reckless which means she would technically be guilty, but they really did play the emotion card here. juries can always do what we call nullify which is to say, it may be the evidence, but they want to find her not guilty because they're swayed by the emotion she showed on the stand. >> another trial under way, deliberations, elizabeth holmes accused of fraud in the therenos case. she testified in her own defense, told a story about being sort of under the sway of her chief operating officer, she was having a personal rip. h relationship. how do you view that case? >> it's interesting we have all three women defendants we're
watching. very unusual. she testified, holmes, for a week and laid the feet at something else. that victim card, does that work with someone who was supposed to be such a genius, the head of this company. that's kind of a contrast there. potter i think played on the emotional heart strings. holmes was goings for something a little different. it seems it might not be successful given the other evidence of her acumen and leadership of that company. >> we'll see where the juries end up. jennifer rodgers, thanks so much. in moments we expect president biden to speak ahead of a key meeting to tackle the ongoing supply chain delays. we'll be there live. that's coming up. hi, i'm ladonna. i invest in invesco qqq, a fund that gives me access to the nasdaq-100 innovations, like real time cgi. okay... yeah... oh. don't worry i got it! become an agent of innovation with invesco qqq
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cnn has learned senator joe manchin is vowing to continue discussions with his fellow democrats after frankly infuriating many of them by sinking the build back better act. he says he still has issues with the plan in its current form. president biden believes the two can eventually reach an agreement. >> maybe i'm not -- don't hold a grudge. i still think there's a possibility of getting build back better done. >> did senator manchin break his commitment to you? >> senator manchin and i are going to get something done.
joining me now ron brownstein, senior editor at "the atlantic," senior political editor. you've watched washington for a few years. >> yes. >> can biden and manchin get something done? >> if manchin wants to make a deal, there's a deal to be had. the question is whether in the end he wants to get to yes. certainly core to his brand from the beginning, his first race for federal office in 2010 has gn the guy he's the guy who stands up to liberal democrats and tells them no. remember, his first campaign he ran an ad with him firing a rifle literally at obama's cap and trade bill. so this step was in character for him to go as loudly as he could on fox and say that he's saying no. now, whether he can get to yes after that substantively, there is a deal certainly to be had. there's always a deal to be had. if he wants to remain in the democratic party, you certainly expect him not to sink their
core economic agenda. the critical question is does he want to reach a deal because there is a deal if he wants it. >> let me ask you this, because mitch mcconnell was on hugh hewitt's show this morning talking about what i would imagine is his dream, a switch of joe manchin to the republican party. first of all, he hasn't said he's going to do that. secondly, there's the possibility he could go independent caucus with democrats. there's the possibility, if he take over the majority, he could chair the energy committee, big to a guy from west virginia. do you see that as a realistic possibilities, either changing parties or leaving the democratic party? >> there is a precedent in 2001, jim jeffords of very month voted to cut back george bush's tax cuts. the white house punished him by not inviting him to a ceremony of teacher of the year.
he caucused and made democrats the majority. he was the 51st vote. manchin would be in the same position. right now he's the 50th vote. all roads run through manchin. if he makes republicans the majority, they have 50 votes on their own. they don't need him. his power is immediately diluted as well as he voted twice to convict donald trump and voted against the trump tax cuts, which he's more determined to reverse than kyrsten sinema is. it's hard for me to imagine his future as a republican. >> he's voted for a good 40 federal judges -- folks forget. manchin's deal is now climate change provisions from bbb, universal pre-k and subsidies
for the affordable care act. set aside child tax credits. should democrats say let's take that and worry about child tax credits later? should they take what they can get? >> they certainly should take what they can get. they shouldn't assume what's on the table is all they can get. don't forget in june manchin came out full guns blazing in the same kind of way against the voting reform bill, h.r.1, denouncing it up and down. democrats then negotiated with him over the summer and reached a surprisingly congenial agreement in the fall on the bill that is still hanging fire depending on weatherman chin and cinema, again, all roads lead back to them, will change the filibuster, let democrats pass it. in a state like west virginia, the projections are it would cut childhood poverty in half. jim, their strategy always assumed they would have to pass it on a stand-alone sooner or later.
the reconciliation bill that passed the house only extended it for one year. they were betting they could come back and pass this later no matter what. if that's what it comes to get the climate, health care and universal pre-k investments, there may be democrats in the white house who say let's take that risk. >> just very quickly here, biden is saying again manchin and i, the other joe and i can come to a deal here. but biden had already promised, reassured democrats, progressives, moderates, i got this, right? joe didn't come through. what is biden's credibility among democrats right now on this? >> right. look, most of the eyre is at manchin at the moment. most democrats are saying not that joe biden misled them, but joe manchin misled joe biden. that history looms over this. when biden says we're going to
do this, as you say, he's said that before. there is a deal to be had. it's not clear to me how it isn't in manchin's interest to kind of sink the democratic prospects in '22 and '24. don't forget he's on the ballot in '24. the issue is not only the question of enthusiasm among the base that would be depressed if their core domestic economic agenda is derailed. you've probably recorded on, you've seen the estimates from the wall street economists that growth would be significantly affected. there would be a manchin slowdown in 2022 and 2023 if this bill is sunk. it's hard to see how this is ultimately in the interest of any incumbent. he told democrats he prefers no bill but recognizes that doing so would sink the biden presidency. if that's still operative, there's a road to a deal. if not, it's a brick wall. >> ron brownstein, thanks so much. still ahead, a look at how the rest of the globe is
tackling omicron. france taking steps to get children vaccinated as well. we're going to be live in europe. it's the season of smiling. and at aspen dental, we make it easy to gift yourself the smile you deserve. new patients, start today with a full exam and x-rays, with no obligation. if you don't have insurance, it's free. plus everyone saves 20% on their treatment plan with flexible payment solutions for every budget. we're here making smiles shine bright so you can start the new year feelin' alright. call 1-800-aspendental or book today at aspendental.com
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we have the vaccine already here. how is it being taken there. >> jim, i know across the world people are bracing for that storm of omicron. here in the uk it's already arrived. we are absolutely in the eye of the storm. record-breaking case numbers in recent days. tens of thousands of people testing positive for covid-19. the prime minister has vowed no new restrictions before christmas. health officials taking steps to bolster their defenses against omicron. you mentioned one of the key ones there, young people aged between 5 and 11 now approved for a child vaccination from pfizer. authorities are going to start recommending that to children in that age group who are particularly vulnerable. you also now have the covid isolation period being reduced from ten days to seven days as long as you test negative on a lateral flow test for the sixth and seventh day. that's to keep the country running essentially because so many critical services are not running due to the number of positive cases.
that's particularly important in the health care industry. you also have the uk government today securing two contracts. that's going to bring about 4 million -- more than 4 million doses of antivirals that will be here in the country who are covid positive from winding up in icu, winding up seriously sick. the key thing is the booster program. it's like a wartime effort here. you have troops involved, thousands of vaccinators fanned out across the country. if you see a line outside anywhere, it's not about christmas shopping, it's people getting booster jabs. here is the big question, jim. we simply don't know. we have tens of thousands of positive cases every day. we don't know how many will wind up in hospital in a couple weeks' time. i know everyone watching, how the uk health system fares because we're ahead of the curve on this one. in france the country is reporting nearly 73,000 new
infections, similar to what we're seeing in the u.s. and their push to vaccinate children. cnn's cyril vanier, i'm curious what the takeup is there. you had a lot of parents who were reluctant to do it. >> reporter: absolutely. there are a lot of parents here in france also wondering whether they're going to vaccinate their children. as of today, children age 5 to 11 are eligible to receive a pfizer vaccine here in france. until now children with weakened immune systems were eligible. now that's been opened up to the entire age group. i have children age 8 and 11. i'll be one of the parents asking myself that question. anecdotally i've seen my son has been sent home from school twice already since the beginning of the year because their class had to be shut down on account of multiple infections within their level. the teachers also being
infected. we can see that schools, a place, a venue where covid circulates widely. it's one of the reasons government wanted to open up vaccination to 5-11-year-olds, that and the fact they want to widen the pool of people who can get a vaccine generally. france is 75% vaccinated. we know about 10% of the country roughly still resistant to getting a shot. that leaves 15% of the country. now a lot of them, these children, 5-11 can also get it. the government hoping to increase that 75% vaccination coverage over the coming months as parents start to get their kids vaccinated. the health minister took example after the u.s. saying, look, they've had 7 million children vaccinated there. only a handful of serious side effects. >> the data has been very good.
cyril vanier, thanks so much. two of the airplane's largest airplane manufacturers are asking the president to stop the roll out of 5g, why they say the new technology puts some flight systems in jeopardy. first, here is a look at some other events we're watching today. ♪ all the gifts you really, really, really, can't wait to unwrap. ♪ joy. fully. ♪ ray loves vacations.
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5g cell service is set to launch in the u.s. next week. experts say it's faster, more reliable and could change the way people live and work. america's largest aircraft makers are warning it could interfere with some flight instruments and, therefore, make flights unsafe. cnn's pete muntean explains why they want the biden administration to at least delay the rollout of 5g service. >> reporter: it's the newest issue that could impact your safety in the sky. airlines are warning that radio waves from soon to be turned on high-speed phone service could interfere with key instruments pilots use to land. in this simulator, i saw how automatic warnings could stop and flight displays give
confusing mismatched readings. >> what would you do? just go around -- >> and figure it out. >> and cause a big bottleneck. >> reporter: in a new letter, the ceos of boeing and airbus are telling the biden administration that interference from 5g trance mighters could adversely affect the ability of aircraft to safely operate. on capitol hill airline executives called it their number one issue. >> how concerned should passengers be? how scared should they be? >> the passengers will be safe, but it will be really damaging to customers. hundreds of thousands of customers a day impacted by this. >> reporter: providers such as at&t and verizon plan to turn on 5g in just weeks on january 5th with the promise of speeding up cell data in 46 markets. major airlines say the signals could slow down hundreds of thousands of flights. a new analysis from industry group airlines for america says 345,000 flights could be delayed
or diverted each year, affecting 32 million passengers. breaking in here, this is president biden addressing supply chain issues in this country. let's listen in. >> -- any president in the last 50 years, nearly 6 million new jobs, a record number for a new president because of my staff and cabinet. unemployment down to 4.2%, three years ahead of the predicted time it would take to get to that number. applicants for new small businesses up 30% compared to before the pandemic, and the fastest economic growth in nearly 40 years. there's more as well. today america is the only leading economy in the world where household incomes and the economy as a whole are stronger than they were before the pandemic, even accounting for price increases. the economy i inherited nearly a year ago wasn't just in crisis.
it wasn't working for working people. that's the reason i ran. it's about time the middle class and working class people got a shot. year after year economic growth is too low, wages for the middle class were stagnant, and the number of people starting new small businesses was declining. over this year we've acted, from the american rescue plan to the bipartisan infrastructure law, to change this trajectory, to build an economy from the bottom up and the middle out. by the way, when that occurs, wealthy people do very, very well. we're not trying to punish anybody. they do very well. working people in this country, the wages and benefits they deserve, it's about time they start to see it. to create an economy with more innovation and faster growth, and we're making progress. we've got a way to go, we're making progress. still atop of mind for me is what is top of mind for so many families. the pinch of prices and the
cost. look, addressing these costs has been and will continue to be my top priority the entire administration. the way to do this is not to slow down our economic turnaround, not to step back from all this progress, but to build on it. we can and we will address prices by expanding productivity capacity in our economy, so we move more goods to market, get more americans working, encouraging more investments in innovation and making sure american consumers see those benefits at the store and at the pump when they go to fill up their cars. let me describe three specific areas i'm focusing on. first, supply chains, and i owe a lot to the business people on this call, on this zoom. earlier this fall, we heard a lot of dire warnings about supply chain problems leading to a crisis around the holidays. so we acted. a lot of recommendations of the people you see on the screen
here. i i wish we were able to do this in person. we brought together business and labor leaders to solve problems, and the much-predicted crisis didn't occur. packages are moving. gifts are being delivered. shelves are not empty. experts in this field look at two statistics for retail inventories which is how many good retailers have on hand and the phrase on-shelf availability which measures how many goods are actually on the shelves there to be purchased. today retail inventories are up 3% from last year. inventories are healthy, and on-shechl availability before the pandemic was about 91%. today it's at 90%, 90%. i'm shirure you can find a shel that's empty because the gift's
popularity. delivery times for fedex, ups and the u.s. postal service are faster than before the pandemic, even as americans have purchased a record amount of goods. this in part due to the progress we've made at our nation's ports which are now moving historic amounts of goods. after working with our administration, the ports of los angeles and long beach have nearly cut in half the number of those great big containers you see sitting on a doctor more than eight days. this is striking progress since november. in fact, right now the number of containers moving through our ports is higher than ever. it's because we've sped up -- when i sat down and talked with the folks running the ports and the longshoremen, they agreed to speed up every step in the progress. the ports, the train, the trucking. my bipartisan infrastructure law, there's $17 billion to
speed up and modernize our ports. tomorrow the department of transportation is going to announce over $200 million in grants to ports nationwide. we're making significant investment in freight rail as well. between the ports and the stores by getting more trucks moving all around the country. we've heard a lot about the need for more truck drivers, and it's real. we've gotten to work to address that. for example, i see marty walsh, my labor secretary. marty, you've done a hell of a job, pal, cutting the red tape so companies can set up registered apprenticeships for truck drivers in two days instead of two months which it was before you took over. this apprenticeship will help drivers get and retain drivers in a field that has a lot of turnover. so i'm eager to hear about the new partnerships with trucking
companies and states to get more truckers on the road and into good paying jobs. we also need to build resilience into our supply chains. we can never again be left vulnerable the way we were in the early days of covid-19. one important way to do this is to make more things here in america. that has been a goal of mine since day one of my administration. we've gotten more than 300,000 u.s. manufacturing job, more than 300,000 added since i took office january 20th. we're going to keep at it, because the more of what we buy in america should be also made in america. the second area of protecting american consumers. take gas prices. months ago i saw oil production wasn't keeping up with demand as the world started to get moving again which could drive up prices at the expense of our consumers. that's why i worked with international partners to
coordinate the release of oil from our oil reserves and theirs. now gas prices are coming down, more than ten cents a gallon nationally. gas prices in 21 states now are at their historic averages before the pandemic, historic averages. that's good news for americans hitting the road this week. beyond energy, we need to make sure there's a robust competition across industries. competing is what encourages companies to innovate, encourages them to invest, to build and offer lower prices. i'm going to be convening my competition councilorly next year, after january, to keep pushing for more bold action because healthy competition is the hallmark of healthy capi capitalism. thirdly, i'm working to reduce the largest cost burdening household budgets, and the
biggest weapon in my arsenal is the build back better. it reduces what people pay for prescription drugs, health care, child care and so much more. the bill is paid fully, fully paid for. it won't increase the deficit and nobody making less than $400,000 a year will pay a penny more in federal taxes. top economic forecasters from wall street firms reinforced just this week that failing to act on the build back better plan will mean less economic growth. let me say it again. not a liberal think tank, wall street. failing to make these investments is going to slow growth, not increase it. look, if we, in fact, seize this opportunity, i think we can lower costs for families getting more people working and lower price pressures long term. we're going to keep working on all these fronts because it is
so clearly what american families need right now. i'm going to now turn this over -- there's much more to say, but maybe i've said too much. i want to have an interchange with you guys. now i'll turn it over to brian deese to begin this meeting. >> thank you, mr. president. we will move immediately into the first section of the agenda to focus on ports and logistics, the progress made and additional steps to go forward. we'll hear from -- >> you've been hearing the president there meeting with ceos to discuss on going challenges to the global supply chain. our chief business correspondent christine romans with me now. christine, you heard president biden there describe progress in fixing supply chain bottlenecks. is that what we're seeing out there? >> we are seeing the through time start to get quicker.
we're seeing government provide funding for pop-up container yards to get things moving. on the other side of that, you have inflation running at a 40-year high. there's a real imperative to work with industry to try to clear up the bottlenecks. bottlenecks are the downside of a pandemic reopening so quickly. we've never seen a situation like this. the president ticking through all the reasons to be optimistic in the covid economy. he's right about growth this year. it's very, very strong. the jobs market is strong but people don't feel it because of inflation and some of the paipains that we feel in the everyday economy. >> that's the headline of the "wall street journal" is the u.s. economy is booming and outpacing europe and china and contributing to the supply chain issues. >> and people don't believe that the economy is booming, too. that's one of the things i think you're hearing the administration try to pivot to say -- hey, it's not like the last administration where the
president would take personal credit for a stock market high. this white house doesn't do that. they're trying to calibrate and say things are good and we're fixing the parts that aren't. >> i'm jim sciutto. "at this hour with kate bolduan" starts right now. hello everyone. i'm kate bolduan. here is what we're watching at this hour. testing troubles. the white house promises hundreds of millions of covid tests are on the way. that's not soon enough for the millions of americans who need answers now amid the surge. bracing for impact. the omicron variant not just a threat to public health. it's now threatening america's economic recovery. more on that in a second. an incredible story of love and war. an award-winning journalist loses her fiancee, a son loses thei