tv Erin Burnett Out Front CNN December 22, 2021 4:00pm-5:00pm PST
vaccine mandate. we will, of course, watch that very closely. to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. i am wolf blitzer in the situation room. you can always follow me on twitter and instagram @wolf blitzer. you can tweet the show @cnn sit room, situation room also available on podcasts. look for us, cnn.com/audio or wherever you get your podcasts. "erin burnett outfront" starts right now. out front next. breaking news. president biden on the defensive, and pushing back against criticism that his administration was caught off guard by the omicron variant. plus, the january 6th committee wants to speak to congressman jim jordan. trump ally who says he spoke to the former president multiple times on the day of the insurrection. will he cooperate? and a texas election official claims the state's republican attorney general threatened and even tried to indict her over the handling of the state's free and fair to
2020 election. that official is my guest. let's go out front. good evening, everyone. i'm kate bolduan in for erin burnett. out front tonight, we have breaking news. president biden, tonight, defending his administration's response to the surge in cases from omicron and the testing shortage seen across the country. in a new interview with abc news, the president saying when asked saying this when asked if the long lines and lack of testing is a failure. >> no, i don't think it's failure. i think it's -- you could argue that we should have known a year ago, six months ago, two months ago, a month ago. i have ordered half a billion of the pills. 500 million pills. i mean, excuse me, 500 million test kits that are going to be available to be sent to every home in america if anybody wants them. but um, the answer is, yeah, i wish i had thought about ordering a half a billion bills two months ago, before covid hit here. >> president biden misspeaking
there, when he was talking about tests, not pills. it comes as we have confirmed that omicron is everywhere. south dakota -- the 50th state to confirm a case of the strain. it was just three weeks ago, that the first case of omicron was detected in the u.s. now, the cdc says it accounts for 90% of all cases in parts of -- in parts of the country. for the fifth time in a week, new york state breaking its own record of infections. nearly 60% of them, found in new york city. out west in california, healthcare workers are being told today they have until february 1st to get the additional shot, as concerns are growing there of staffing shortages. but there are some signs of hope tonight. today, the fda authorizing the first oral antiviral pill to treat covid. pfizer says it reduces the risk of hospitalization and death by nearly 90% if taken within the first-five days of symptoms. the u.s. government is ordering enough pills for 10 million
americans, but it will take some time. here's what the ceo of pfizer recently told me. >> we will be having quantities of this medicine available immediately. now, the quantities will be in the tens of thousands in immediately. in january, will become to -- will go to hundreds of thousands. and then, february, march, we go to millions. >> also, experts in south africa where omicron was first identified are announcing that they are past the peak of the omicron outbreak, which started a month ago there. so, this is -- this, as two new studies add to the growing evidence that suggest omicron may cause less severe disease than the delta variant before it. amara walker is out front to start us off tonight. amara, so, therglimmers of hope a lot of concerning trends right now here in the u.s. >> yeah, that's right, kate. and this antiviral pill from pfizer could really bring down the covid-19 hospitalization rate as you mentioned.
it's supposed to be taken at home by a person infected with covid before they get sick enough to be hospitalized from the disease. but health officials are stressing that this antiviral should not be a substitute to getting vaccinated. today, the fda authorizing the first pill to treat covid-19. made by pfizer, it will be available by prescription for adults and high-risk individuals age 12 or older who have mild to moderate symptoms. but a high risk of hospitalization or death. pfizer's ceo says they stand ready to begin delivery in the u.s. immediately. >> as quickly as pfizer gets the pills manufactured and delivered, we will immediately provide them to states and jurisdictions for distribution. >> reporter: the long testing lines across the country have already begun amidst the holiday rush. in atlanta, frustrations are running high. >> like an hour and a half, the line was stretched all the way back. >> we are on almost hour three.
>> we are less than a mile but hour three. >> crazy busy. it's like it was back in, you know, january-february timeframe. >> some taking precautions, as the highly contagious omicron variant has overtaken delta as the dominant strain in just a matter of weeks. omicron has now been identified in every u.s. state, washington, d.c., and puerto rico. >> there are a lot of reasons to be concerned. we know for sure about this variant is that it's incredibly transmissible. each infected person infects, on average, five other people which is much more than with previous variants. >> reporter: for those gathering during the holidays, the cdc director stressing that all guests be vaccinated and/or boosted and exercise caution in the days before they get together. >> i want to remind folks that, um, you know, so much about the safety of your gathering has less to do with the plane ride or the train ride that you are going to do to get there, and very much to do with the behaviors that you have in the week prior to your gathering. >> reporter: case rates in the u.s. are back to levels seen in
the middle of the delta surge -- the highest they have been in three months. icu beds are about 76% full. and more than one in five are covid-19 patients. >> i'm pretty worried that the surge that we are going to see in the coming weeks is going to be worse than the surge that we saw last winter. >> reporter: meanwhile, south africa has passed the peak of its omicron outbreak according to one of the country's top scientific researchers. with the rise in breakthrough cases, the cdc is actively examining shortening the ten-day quarantine for the vaccinated. >> if you do have someone who is infected, rather than keeping them out for seven to ten days, if they are without symptoms, put an n95 mask on them, make sure they have the proper ppe, and they might be able to get back to work sooner. >> reporter: now, kate, we are at a drive-up testing site in part of northeast atlanta where the employees here just tested their last customer for the day about 15 minutes ago and i got to tell you, people were getting
quite impatient understandably because some had been waiting in line up to three and a half hours to get tested. and this is likely just the beginning because demand is expected to skyrocket for these covid-19 tests thanks to omicron being extremely contagious, kate. >> amara, thank you so much for that. out front be me now is dr. jonathan reiner, former medical geyser to the george w. bush white house and the founder and director of veefrp transitional institute. dr. topple, the biden administration is now starting to roll out its new strategy to tackle this surge. and president biden, tonight, he did push back against criticisms that they were caught flat footed. let me play more of what he said. >> the vice president said in recent days that -- that you didn't see delta coming, you didn't see omicron coming. how did you get it wrong? >> how did we get it wrong?
nobody saw it coming. nobody in the whole world. who saw it coming? >> under his strategy now, you said it's a far cry from what they should -- what they should be doing and should have announced. what do you think -- why do you think this response has been inadequate? >> well, good to be with you, kate. it's unfortunate, we all in the science community knew that the virus would continue to evolve. we didn't know exactly it would be hypermutated like omicron but we certainly knew there was going to be trouble lying ahead. the problem with the administration is it's always been reactive. so here, we have this big omicron spread. we're in the second surge of delta. and now, announcing new plans. but they, unfortunately, fall short of what they could be. that is, the rapid tests that we have been waiting on for well over a year. and also, of course, the pill. the pill today being cleared but we don't have a very good supply for some time to come. >> yeah. dr. reiner, the president was also asked this evening by abc
news about the possibility of requiring vaccinations to get on domestic flights, to fly within the united states as a way to ensure safety, better ensure safety, and also, quite frankly, to probably convince more people to get vaccinated. let me play that for you. >> have you considered requiring passengers in this country to be vaccinated to get on flights? >> it's been considered but the recommendation i have gotten it's not necessary. >> even with omicron? >> even with omicron. that's the recommendation i got, so far, from the team. >> dr. reiner, what do you think of that? >> hi, kate. first of all, it's an honor to be on tonight with dr. topal, a cardiologist that i -- who i have admired for 30 years. i think the president is wrong. first of all, we require international passengers to travel -- who are traveling to the united states to be vaccinated. it's completely mysterious to
me, why people traveling within the united states, domestic passengers, should not also need to be vaccinated. this is a highly transmissible virus, and now we are allowing virus basically to freely fly around the united states. this is a politically-based decision, not a science-based decision. the other benefit, frankly, of requiring people to be vaccinated to fly in the united states is that it will help to convince the roughly 30% of adults who remain unvaccinated to finally get vaccinated. the same way that requirements in new york to enter restaurants, movie theaters, and theaters, really to be anywhere in public to be vaccinated have encouraged new yorkers to get vaccinated. and corporate vaccine requirements have encouraged employees to get vaccinated. it is another tool in our toolbox and this administration has made a massive mistake by not requiring vaccination for
domestic air travel. >> and i know, dr. topal, that you have been looking into this, leaning into this, um, and talking about this, as well. >> dr. reiner is spot on about that. that's one of the many things that we could be doing to really change the face of the pandemic in the u.s. but we aren't seeing these bold and aggressive actions. but there are many points of good news, kate. i mean, this pill is going to be the most important thing that's happened since vaccines in terms of being able to easily administer it, not dependent on our immune system. it's -- it's safe. it's safe as placebo in two trials and has a marked effect on reducing the viral load in a person with covid by at least tenfold very quickly. so, that's a whole new tool to add to our ability to fight the virus and -- and also, the other big thing today is we are learning scotland, england, denmark, and south africa, all, are showing at least 40 to 70%
reduced hospitalizations from omicron adjusting for all the things that we know might correlate. so, these are good things even with the problems that dr. reiner and i are citing. >> dr. reiner, the key -- we are talking about the -- the pill, the antiviral that the doctor is talking about, the key is to take this pill early after testing positive. within five days, there is still a remarkable reduction in risk of hospitalization and death. 90%. but you have to take it before you are sick enough to need the hospital, which means there needs to be access to it relatively quickly upon testing positive. there have been -- look, you have talked about the missteps we have seen with the booster campaign, testing, for example. are you concerned that the country may face similar issues with access to this pill? zbll first of all, we have to understand that although this pill from pfizer is remarkably effective, when given within five days, it has almost a 90% reduction in hospitalization or
death. you have to have access to it, so pfizer has promised about 180,000, um, doses of -- of -- courses of this pill by the beginning of january, which sounds fabulous. except, that's the same number of cases that the united states had yesterday. 180,000 cases. and if only 10% of people basically would need this pill, only 10% of cases, you can see how we would exhaust that initial tranche of 180,000 doses very rapidly. the other piece of the puzzle is that people have to be tested. you have to have a positive test to -- to take this pill. >> right. >> and you have to have access to tests. and we see we are not going to have dissemination of rapid tests to homes in the united states until probably the middle of january, at best. so, there are a lot of hurdles to get over. this pill is a very important tool in our toolbox and when we
have large stock of this in pharmacies, it will be fabulous. people will be able to get a prescription from their physician or provider, go to the pharmacy, take a five-day course of this, and largely for most people, prevent hospitalization. but we need to get there. we need more testing. we need -- and then, also, we need to have strategies in place to prevent people from hoarding this pill. from people from acquiring this therapy, you know, and just sort of stocking it on the shelf. so there needs to be safeguards in place to prevent people from prescribing this for people who are well, and not yet in need of it. >> yeah. again, glimmers of hope but still so far from being there quite yet. it's really great to have you both. thank you. >> thank you. out front for us next. the january 6th committee targeting a top-trump ally, congressman jim jordan. but will he reveal any details of his conversations with donald trump from the day of the insurrection? plus, the jury weighing kim potter's fate is still at it as
deliberations stretch into another day. what it could mean for the former officer. and incredible cam -- body camera video tonight of the moment officers find and rescue two children, whose home was destroyed in that deadly tornado outbreak. >> there you go. >> is she okay? it's the most joyous time of year. especially at t-mobile! let's go to dianne. i got the awesome new iphone 13 pro and airpods, and t-mobile is paying for them both! and this is for new and existing customers. upgrade to the iphone 13 pro and airpods both on us. only at t-mobile.
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the january 6th select committee requesting a second sitting member of congress to come speak to investigators. this time, republican congressman jim jordan -- one of former-president trump's staunchest allies. someone who has admitted to talking to trump multiple times on january 6th. and just last week, the committee revealed that text messages it obtained from the former chief of staff mark meadows included texts from jordan detailing a way to overturn the election just a day before the insurrection. congressman scott perry -- the other republican lawmaker asked to appear before the committee -- he rejected that request just yesterday. jessica schn jes jessica schneider is out front for us now. jessica, what more are you learning? >> the committee is actually telling congressman jordan in this letter they know he spoke with trump at least once, if not multiple times they say on january 6th. so now, they want him to sit for a voluntary interview as soon as january 3rd. but from what we have seen here, it is highly unlikely that
congressman jordan will cooperate. he is already, in the past, warned that the committee targeting gop lawmakers in any capacity -- he said it would be met with political retribution if republicans retake the house after the midterms. and then, of course, you referenced it. we saw congressman scott perry. he lashed out at the committee's legitimacy, already, this week. and he rebuffed their request to interview him. so, so far tonight, no response from jordan. but the committee is really trying to throw his words back at him by writing him in this letter that jordan said back in august that he had, quote, nothing to hide. but there is at least that one text message of note. jordan forwarded a text to former-chief of staff mark meadows on january 5th outlining this plan for vp mike pence and here is exactly what it said, kate. on january 6th, 2021, vice president mike pence, as president of the senate, should call out all electoral votes that he believes are unconstitutional as no electoral votes at all. of course, that was all part of
a plot to get pence to block certification, which he ultimately refused to do, kate. but jordan's spokesperson has told us about that text. they say it was actually written by a former defense department inspector general and that jordan was just forwarding the text on to meadows. but of course, it is clear the admitee wants to talk about that text and they want to find out through jordan what trump was up to inside the white house on january 6th. it's interesting, kate, because the committee in this letter -- they say they know that trump was watching tv coverage of the capitol attack from his private dining room next to the oval office that day. and they say even after the crowd dispersed, that trump was still trying to delay or impede the vote count. so, there is a lot this committee wants to know. they are hoping they can do it through congressman jordan, kate. unlikely he will sit down and we will see if any sfeens follow. kate. >> jessica, thanks for laying it out for us. for more, let me bring in john dean. watergate whistle-blower and former nixon white house counsel. it is good to see you, john. so, jim jordan, who was -- who
was -- who kevin mccarthy had actually picked to put on this select committee to represent republicans at the beginning, now he is becoming a central figure in this investigation. how important do you think his testimony could be to what -- to the committee's work? >> well, i don't think it's vital testimony as the letter shows, they have pretty good idea what happened. they'd like to hear it from him. i'm sure there's much more -- much, much more he could add to what they know. but we also know it's jim jordan. jim jordan is a trump acolyte. he is not going to do anything to upset his master. it's just that simple. so, they are going to have trouble. i think they are going to have to use the subpoena and it -- it's going to be tested. >> one key question with jordan, really ever since january 6th, has been what were his communications with donald trump on january 6th? because the question has become all the more interesting as
jordan, himself, has tripped over answering it multiple times. let me play this for you. >> i have talked to the president so many -- i can't remember all the days i have talked to him but i certainly talked to the president. i spoke with him that day after? i think after? i don't know if i spoke with him in the morning or not. i ior -- i just don't know. >> of course i talked to the president. i talked to him that day. i have been clear about that. i don't recall the number of times. >> john, what do you do with that? >> well, that's not the normal jordan answer. he is pretty crisp and pretty clear on most of his answers. his mind is probably trying to calculate, well, what kind of exposure do i have at this stage in answering that question? and i think he does have exposure because of the texts he forwarded the day before, i'll tell ya, if they ever start pursuing conspiracy charges, he walked right into a conspiracy, uh, to obstruct congress. to -- was it a seditious conspiracy? may -- may well have been.
so i think he knows he has exposure, and if he ever is in front of that committee, he will probably have to take the fifth. that's probably another reason he doesn't want to go. >> yeah, you -- you can assume that. look, republican congressman scott perry. he rejected this voluntary request as well, outright. kind of slamming the committee. obviously, jordan is likely to follow suit in that. you've said that they should compel him with a subpoena. but how big of a deal would this be? because is there a risk at this point, as we have kind of seen this trend of just person after person, ally after ally, defying subpoenas that it just doesn't -- it doesn't have anything of the impact they want it to at this point? >> well, if the impact they want to get is the fact that the people who are associated with trump won't cooperate, i think they are doing a good job of showing that. and they're stacking them up, one after another. the -- if it ever comes to a showdown and jordan would
probably take this to court as others have. the -- the -- it's a different privilege this time that's in play. it's called the speech and debate clause of the constitution provides members of congress with a safe haven for anything they do is part of the legislative process. now, i don't think planning or assisting or asking to call off an insurrection is any way connected with the legislative process. but, you know, we don't know the outer reach of this privilege. it's one that's been maybe a dozen cases on it so that's what he would rely on if he -- if push comes to shove. and i don't think people really want to test that privilege too much. >> definitely seen a lot of people really testing the outer bounds of this -- of many privileges, um, in recent months and years here in washington. it's good to see you, john. thank you very much. really appreciate it. out front for us next. the jury not finding it easy to reach a verdict in the trial of a former police officer who
confused her taser as her gun. deliberations on day three have just wrapped with no decision. and doctors and nurses overwhelmed, again, as covid numbers are trending in the wrong direction. i am going to speak to two of them who are, quote, getting crushed by the increasing cases. ♪ i'm a reporter for the new york times. if you just hold it like this. yeah. ♪ i love finding out things that other people don't want me to know. mm-hmm. [beep] i just wanted to say... ♪
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tonight, the jury in the trial of former officer kim potter ending day three of deliberations. jurors have now spent 24 hours in that jury room and there is still no verdict. they are weighing whether potter's -- potter's fatal error amounts to a criminal act when she killed daunte wright saying she mistook her gun for her taser. omar jimenez is out front for us now, live, from minneapolis. omar, silence from the jury today after warning signs that they could be deadlocked. what is the latest? >> reporter: yeah, kate, so we are right -- or we ended the day, i should say, right at the 24-hour mark of deliberations, in total, over the past three days. and we got indications they may have had issues coming to a consensus based on at least one of the questions they asked the judge yesterday, which basically was what happens if we can't
reach a consensus? and now, moving forward, we are running up right into christmas eve and christmas is coming up very quickly on -- on friday. and the judge has indicated that she would not hold these jurors over christmas eve and christmas, and that if needed, we would start up again next week. so, you get the feeling that something has to give here. now, as you mentioned, what they are trying to decide on or the crux of it is whether kim potter was justified when she shot and killed daunte wright during a traffic stop back in april of this year. potter has claimed she mistook her taser for her gun before shooting wright. prosecutors have argued the mere fact that she says she meant to grab her taser shows that she didn't even think this was a situation that required deadly force. her defense, though, has argued if daunte wright had just complied, none of this would have happened. but of course, the ultimate decision is going to be left up to the jury, who still, as i mentioned, over three days, 24 hours, have yet to come to a decision, kate. >> omar, thank you for that.
out front for more on this is stephanie rawlings-blake, former defense attorney and former mayor of baltimore. what is so fascinating is what omar was laying out today is the silence. 24 hours ago, you and i were talking about the jury's questions to the judge and the possibility that they were deadlocked. and since, nothing. what do you take from that? >> kate, i take that they are doing their job. they heard from the judge that they are to do their best to reach a consensus. and they are taking that job seriously, and i applaud them. it -- it is certainly not easy. this is a very, very heavy decision that they have to make. and it is a tough call. and i am sure, um, there are jurors -- as we know from the question -- some of them are willing to give officer potter the benefit of the doubt and some of them are not. and we will see if it gets down to this horse trading that sometimes happens in a jury room. >> always wonder what more time in deliberations means for an
eventual verdict. 24 hours now, third day of deliberations has just wrapped. does that tell you anything about where this is headed? >> i think, um, it's headed towards a -- what some would call a compromise verdict. there are probably some jurors -- and we will not know until afterwards how many -- that feel that there was no possible way that she could actually confuse a gun with a taser. and that she needs to held -- to be held to account for that egregious mistake, and i'm sure that there are some on the other side that are saying listen, they are the same shape. they are the same dush-- you kn almost the same size. it was a chaotic -- a chaotic experience and this trained officer made a mistake, and i will not send her to jail for that. and -- and they're going back and forth and back and forth. and i -- i honestly feel that they will reach some sort of
compromised verdict on lesser charges. >> so interesting. so, the jury's sequestered. so, they're isolated and away from the public, as well as from their families and, of course, christmas is saturday. the judge says -- had said that they are not going to hold them over through, they will pick it back up next week. but the timing -- the -- the pressure of the timing, knowing a holiday is coming, how does that impact a jury? >> even a weekend can im -- the upcoming weekend can impact a jury, so i know with the holidays coming, these people are -- are just like us. you know, they want to get home with their families, they want to be able to prepare meals, wrap gifts, all of the things. and with this trial hanging over their head, with this verdict hanging over their head, they are not going to be able to do it. that's why i really feel they are leaning towards, you know, trading in there, horse trading. and they'll come up with some agreement. >> interesting. stephanie rawlings-blake, great to see you again. out frontal for us next, 70,000 covid hospitalizations and counting.
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people are in u.s. hospitals with covid. that number is ticking upwards. as health -- health experts are warning that it's not spiking nationwide right now, but there could be a major surge coming. doctors across the country are sounding the alarm about what they are up against, already, as they brace now for what's to come. out front with me now is an emergency room physician who is ebeen treating covid patients in hospitals across the country. and a nurse on the front lines in asheville, north carolina. thank you both for being here. doctor, you're currently in miami-dade county where hospitalizations have more than doubled in the last seven days. describe for me what you are seeing. >> well, kate, it feels like déjà vu and unfortunately might even be quite a bit worse this time, based on what we have seen in the northeast. just four days ago if you asked me, i would have said wow, we are actually doing okay, especially given the horrible surge we had this last summer that we talked about. now, uh, just as of literally
three days ago, it hit kind of like the flu hits or like covid hits. all of the sudden and rapidly and intensely. getting a ton of patients coming into emergency department. a ton of symptoms and what's really upsetting is that we are just beginning of this. there is a lot more to go. people are going to be mingling during christmas, especially in a place like miami where the airports have been jam packed and hospitalizations are going to surge even worse. so it's actually a pretty stressful scenario. >> in four days. it's terrifying and remarkable. hanna, i understand at your hospital in north carolina, you had as many as 60 patients at a time waiting for beds. waiting as long as 24 hours for one to open up sometimes. can you describe the situation for me? how hard is this right now? >> it's incredibly difficult. um, we even have patients sometimes waiting up to 48 hours. we typically have four beds that we're assigned to in the er that folks are moving in and out of.
and even just yesterday, two of my beds for over half the shift were filled with critical patients, which typically, you know, that nurse would only have two patients in their assignment. and i had four with folks moving in and out all day long. um, and to have all these covid cases coming in on top of our normal, you know, other emergencies, like heart attacks, strokes, all of that, um, it's -- it's pretty overwhelming. >> even describing it the way you are, and not experiencing myself, it sounds overwhelming. like, i don't know how you keep your head above water in all the hours that you are trying to care for all these patients and give them adequate care and attention over and over, again. dr. acter, today, the mayor of miami-dade county says that florida is also facing an urgent shortage in monoclonal antibody treatments. this comes as the fda is authorizing this first pill -- antiviral pill -- to treat covid. and i am sitting here wondering, we also know that omicron is like evades two of three of the monoclonal antibody treatments so you also got a problem there.
um, what do you need most right now? >> simple answer. people to be vaccinated. that is the best treatment out th there. when the vaccine came out, the data were so amazing, it was almost hard to believe. it's still the best option out there. and now, the booster. for those of you who have been vaccinated. now, yeah. i think shortages monoclonal antibody, you basically can't find any in miami now. in emergency department, i think i gave one of our last-three doses when i gave it a couple days ago. we are now officially out. we are trying to tell people to go to the county sites. you have seen the news stories where they wait for hours and get to the front of the line and there is no monoclonal antibody left. and so, i think it's amazing timing that this was just approved. and the amazing thing is that it's not an infusion that you need to be monitored for repeatedly. it's almost like tamiflu for people who get covid and can
take the pills early enough, it can dramatically reduce hospitalization. so i am actually excited about that. i don't think i am known as an optimist, in general, on your show. but i i think the data so far he been amazing. if we could get that to people, it could dramatically reduce hospitalizations but to say, oh, you know what? i will just get covid and take the pill is like saying, eh, i will just get cancer and then get chemotherapy. cancer sucks. you don't want to get it. covid sucks. you don't want to get it. get vaccinated. >> definitely, one way to put it, doctor. you always cut -- you always cut to the chase. hanna, i was just thinking about north carolina. we are seeing covid cases really starting to surge all over the country. but the spike we are seeing in new york city, right, it's kind of the canary in the coal mine of what is gaeioing to be happeg with omicron as it wash oefrs the recollect of the country. and i am wondering, with what you are already facing, how have you -- how do you mentally prepare for things to get even worse this winter? >> to be perfectly frank, i
can't spend a lot of time thinking about it because it's hard enough to go into work right now knowing that, you know, my hospital administration is not doing everything that they can to retain our staff that's in north carolina working. um, so i just try to get through, honestly, each minute at a time in my shift. um, and not focus on the future too much because we are overwhelmed, as it is. and covid's not even, you know, as bad as it was at our surge earlier-this year. um, so i honestly don't have the capacity to think about it that much. >> doctor, how do you wrap your mind at this moment around where we are, what you have just said? i feel like this is a conversation you and i had a year ago. um, when we were just starting to -- to -- to speak in the midst of the -- what we -- was then the worst of the pandemic. how do you wrap your mind around this is where we are now two years in? >> honestly, there's a level of defeatism, unfortunately. i think we have been even saying that for a while now, where we
are losing hope. and it's really unfortunate that we could have beaten it, and now consensus seems to be that we need to live with it. now there is optimism that in the virus's favor if it's a milder variant, we don't know that for sure but if it really is milder, as dr. topal was saying earlier on your show, then it's possible that it becomes kind of like what the spanish flu became. eventually, an endemic rather than a pandemic. but the flu stinks, too. i don't want to get the flu. and so, in that situation now where it may become seasonal but until we get to that point, it is going to be really rough on hospitals and, yeah, personally, even if i feel normally, i was just telling somebody earlier today that every time i go to my d dentist's office, he asks me what are you doing to your teeth? and turns out, the stress is so bad that i am grinding my teeth away. and i feel i have actually gotten pretty lucky on this p pandemic being able to work with
the people i have been able to work with. i can only imagine what it is like for healthcare workers and everybody else across the country who just keep getting hit with this groundhog day and not in a good way. so, i do think it is a level of defeatism. i hope we can turn the corner but i have been hoping for a year and a half now and we just haven't gotten there. >> it makes me sick to my to mange because i am hearing from this you in miami now. i heard it from dr. zimmer in south bend, indiana, last night. it's just over and over and over. thank you, guys, very much for coming on. >> thank you vhaving us. out front for us next, a texas election official with a warning tonight about a threat to america's democracy. she says the state's republican attorney general tried to intimidate her after last year's election. and witness the very moment a tiny baby was found in a bathtub, alive. surviving that massive tornado outbreak in kentucky.
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happy holidays from mercedes-benz. ♪ ♪ you are my fire ♪ ♪ the one desire ♪ ♪ you are, you are, ♪ ♪ don't wanna hear you say... ♪ ♪ ♪ i want it that way ♪ tonight, a texas county elections chief revealing the state's republican attorney general tried to intimidate and threaten to such an extent, even tried indicting her over her handling of the 2020 election.
the state ag, ken paxton, who himself remains under indictment for securities fraud and reportedly under a federal investigation over whistle-blower complaints. that same ken paxton has accused her of obstructing a poll watcher. a charge that was ultimately dismissed but which could have meant up to a year in prison. that local election official is now speaking out, warning of the intimidation she and other election officials have faced over lies about election fraud. intimidation, that threatens the next elections and poses dire consequences to american democracy. outfront now is travis county clerk, the democratic elections chief targeted by paxton. thank you for being here tonight. your story is really remarkable. this trumped-up charge was thrown out. but that's not without doing damage. why do you think you were targeted? >> well, i think there are several reasons. i think i made a good target because i fought back.
i felt like it was more important to protect the election workers who were working the counting station to tally ballots, than it was to allow some out-of-control poll watchers to try to infect these innocent workers and that's what seemed to be going on at the counting station when these folks came in. sadly, they refused to wear masks and here we were, in the middle of a pandemic stage five and they wanted to hover right on top of these workers. so, i prevented them from getting that close. and therein, was the subject of the dispute. so, i entered into a conversation with the republican party and its poll watchers, and we agreed that the way we were going to do this was that people would be able to get closer, see whatever they wanted if they wore masks and observed basic science. and after a few meetings, we solved that problem and -- and so, the workers had access all the time.
um, unfortunately, though, we ended up with some of our poll watchers who were -- who did not go along with that, who refused to wear masks and ultimately, there was a big in the middle of the counting staying station because these folks had to be escorted out. now, the rest of us were happy with the outcome, with the agreement that we had between the workers and the poll watchers. so ultimately, there was no reason to pursue this any further. nevertheless, ken paxton decided that he would single me out in order to make an example of what is probably one of the most liberal voting areas in texas. >> well, and -- and again, to reinforce -- this was thrown out after, you know, tens of thousands of dollars of legal fees that you had to take on in the beginning by yourself. you know, i have to say, dana, we reached out to the attorney general's office for comment. they responded with a statement saying, in part, quote, normal procedures were followed in the case at issue, and also adding
this. local election officials can ensure fewer investigations in the future if they run their elections with transparency, security, and honesty and in accordance with state election laws. clearly, they're suggesting you did not do that. though, again, the case was thrown out. what do you say to him? >> well, it was first thrown out by the supreme court, and then it was thrown out by a grand jury. so, he's been twice defeated in his attempt to misportray this as a problem on our part. it was quite the opposite. i was not obstructing poll watchers. they were, in fact, obstructing the work of trying to tally ballots and that is where the problem arose. um, it was not unfair to allow these workers to come in and try to intimidate workers and this is what happened. one of the poll watchers even as she was leaving the polling station that night stopped by,
took her mask off, threw it in the face of the receptionist who was at the exit point, and said, here, i've already had covid so i'm -- i'm gifting you with my antibodies. >> and this gets to -- and this gets to the bigger issue that i wanted to ask you about. you know, you're retiring in january after 35 years, not related to this. important to say. but the attorney general is a big supporter of donald trump and his lies. he's pushed -- he's pushed that and made that very clear when in terms of pushing election fraud. but still, you know, in texas, texas lawmakers have passed laws already making it harder for people, like you to do your job. what are you afraid that this means for future elections? >> it -- that -- that is the point. um, we -- what we have is a situation where now this new law has made it easier for poll watchers to have what's called free movement in any of the
places where voting is happening or tallying is happening. and yet, the election workers are denied the basic right for a safe workplace. that's not okay and that's what we were trying to accomplish. and the local gop here and i agreed on a way to do that. we didn't need the interference and the intimidation from the attorney general to disrupt that agreement. what i hope for the future is that we will all focus on an equal level of concern about election workers so that we can continue to recruit good, civic-minded people who want to help with elections and we don't have this intimidation factor for people who are working inside the polling places. those are our guardians of democracy. those are the people we need to treat better. >> well, that's yet to be seen how well that holds next time. thank you very much for coming on. i appreciate your time. out front for us next. dramatic new video of a rescue of two little children after that deadly tornado outbreak.
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tonight, incredible video emerging from the es rescue efforts after deadly tornados swept through kentucky. one of the tornados tearing apart a home and throwing a bathtub -- throwing a bathtub with two infants inside. their grandmother had put them inside the tub with a pillow, blanket, and bible. and here is the moment two sheriff's deputies and neighbors found the first infant alive, still inside the tub. >> 329. we got the fem -- i think a 15-month-old. central, can you send us med center? >> try to get 'em to you. >> it's okay. >> there you go. is she okay? he. what do we got? >> good there. no cuts on the leg.
>> oh, my god is right. and there's more. a sibling, an infant, was pulled to safety right after that. the babies were reunited with their grandmother. amazing and remarkable. and a reminder of what matters this season. we keep the people of dawson springs and so many of the other communities hit by these storms in our hearts this holiday. thank you all so much for being here. a "ac 360" starts now. good evening. breaking news to report and it is an impressive array of good news tonight. involving what the data suggests about the path of the current coronavirus surge as well as the fight against that quickly-spreading new omicron variant. that in just a moment. because just a short time ago, president biden spoke at length about criticism of his administration's fight against covid, and specifically about what vice president harris said in a recent interview that the administration didn't see the omicron variant coming. here is the exchange with abc's david muir