tv At This Hour With Kate Bolduan CNN December 30, 2021 8:00am-9:00am PST
hi, everyone. i'm amara walker in for kate bolduan. unprecedented surge -- the number of covid cases hits a level we've never seen before as cities struggle to keep critical services operating. high-stakes call. president biden will speak with russia's president in just hours as putin continues his aggression at the border with ukraine. and justice for survivors. a jury convicts ghislaine maxwell of sex trafficking. reaction from several women who survived jeffrey epstein's sexual abuse. we begin with a surge unlike anything we've ever seen. that is how one medical expert describes the alarming rise in cases as the omicron variant spreads like wildfire all across the country. now averaging moren
300,000 cases a day. hospitalizations are also climbing to more than 84,000, up 70% from last month. at least ten states are reporting their highest hospitalization numbers of the pandemic. more than 1,500 americans are dying each day from the virus, an increase of 72% in the last month. and the cdc now predicting tens of thousands more could die from covid in the next four weeks. but there is some positive news, and that is new research from south africa that a johnson & johnson booster shot provides strong protection against omicron. let's start with elizabeth cohen on these numbers. we've been talking a lot about numbers, but there really is a big concern about how this is going time pact our daily lives. >> reporter: that's right, because, you know, we've heard so much, amara, about how omicron is so transmissible, but
it tends to cause mild illness. overall, that's true, but the problem is the cases are getting so huge that even a small percentage of a huge number can still be a big number, and that's what we're seeing with hospitalizations, a relatively small percentage in the hospital, but a small percentage of a big number is a big number. the cdc does it regular forecast. let's take a look at their latest one. if we look right now, we're averaging about 9,400 new hospitalizations per day. the krlds cds's forecast 17,400 new hospitalizations per day by mid-january. if we look at deaths in the last four weeks, 39,000 deaths have happened in the past four weeks in the united states. the cdc forecasting that in the next four weeks there will be an estimated 45,000-plus deaths. again, yes, omicron milder but it's so transmissible. now, as you said, there is a bit of good news here. let's take a look at a press release from johnson & johnson.
this has not been peer reviewed but what the company has put out. they say if you get the johnson & johnson shot and a booster six months or more later, when they looked at a population in south africa, they saw it was 85% effective against hospitalization compared to those unvaccinated. antibodies, other parts of the immune system were increased, so that's good. but, a big but, the cdc is still recommending that people get pfizer or moderna both for their original vaccinations and for a booster. amara? >> elizabeth, thank you for that. so, new york is the epicenter of this huge surge. the state just shattered its record for daily cases, reporting more than 67,000 cases yesterday. the fast spread of the virus putting a tremendous strain on hospitals and causing major staff shortages among first responders in new york city. cnn's polo sandoval has more.
>> reporter: the numbers are staggering alone with new york state experiencing about a 67% increase -- rather a 65% increase in the new number of covid cases, 67,000, total number of new yorkers testing positive just yesterday. so that is certainly significant here it's a new high. many of those that have recently tested positive are some of new york city's first responders, and that's when you begin to worry about potential staff shortages. look at these numbers coming from fdny showing 37% of ems workers on medical leave, 17% of firefighters. these are double the numbers from last week. we've heard from authorities who are assuring the public they do have the manpower, they do have the ability to reshuffle some of their man pouer to make sure that no calls go unanswered, but it speaks to where we are right now amid this winter surge here. we did hear a few moments ago from eric adams, incoming mayor,
laying out his plan for taking new york city through these unprecedented infection numbers. they include keeping that very bold vaccination mandate in place that's specific when it comes to the private sector. then he also laid out that he has no plans to shut the city down again. >> today i'm rolling out my administration plan to keep new yorkers safe from the virus and keep our city open. that's the goal. we can't shut down our city again. we can't allow the city to go further into economic despair. >> reporter: adam also saying one of the items he specifically wants to look at is the number of new yorkers who have not completed their vaccination series, basically got that first shot and never came back for their second or a booster either. that's one of the areas he wants to look at. again, making that promise he does not want to close that city again and wants to explore other
options including boosting testing. amara? >> i'm sure that's reassuring to a lot of people. joining me is dr. marian bassett, the acting health commissioner for the state of new york. thanks for joining me. let's start with these staggering numbers that polo ran through. case numbers at an all-time high, hospitalizations surging, and of course more essential workers calling out sick because they have the virus. what are you most concerned about when you look at these numbers? >> you're right, the number of new cases continues to go up. our most recent number today is that we have 74,000 people who tested positive. and our hospitalizations are going up as well. i think in the midst of all the sea of numbers that we all hear swirling around us, we have to keep focused on a key message, which is that people who aren't vaccinated, now is a really good time to reconsider your decision
not to get vaccinated. for people who are fully vaccinated, and that's 70% of all new yorkers statewide, actually 71% now, we need you to get boosted. and for people who've gotten one dose, which is at a real high for adults, 95%, we need you to go back and get that second boost, get that second dose, get boosted. so let's keep our eye on the tools that we have and remember masking. masking is an important additional layer of protection. >> those updated numbers, you know, continue to be staggering. now you're up to 74,000 new cases. >> they are. >> what does this mean on the ground, then, especially when it comes to the health care system and people calling out sick? are there enough workers? will you have to rely on the national guard? >> well, we are, you know, tracking these very closely, and
communicating with the city about them. at the moment, we certainly have enough hospital beds but we're seeing more hospitalization. as you know, we sounded an alarm last friday on december 24th about the disproportionate rise in hospitalizations for young children, for children. so at the moment, we are okay with hospitalizations and bed availability. we're putting in place measures to make sure that we continue to be able to respond to hospitalizations. whoever pointed out that a small fraction of a big number is still a big number got it exactly right. that's been our concern. our tools remain the same, though. let's keep focused on getting people vaccinated. let's remember to wear masks, avoid crowds when we can, be careful during the upcoming holiday season about how we plan our time and plan for the most
vulnerable person in our group, make sure that these gatherings remain safe for them. >> right now, dr. bassett, you're saying things look okay when it comes to the hospitals in new york. and, you know, on that note, you know, new york shortened the isolation period for fully vaccinated health care workers and other essential workers from ten to five days. this happened before the cdc issued its new guidance. >> that's right. >> do you think that is making an impact? are you seeing the guidelinings i guess alleviate the worker shortage, at least in the health care industry? >> well, let me just explain the guidelines briefly. we apply these guidelines to people who are fully vaccinated, not just health workers, a whole range of workers, who have either asymptomatic infection, the people who went out to get tested before the holidays and found out they were covid positive, feeling fine, and people who were mildly symptomatic and whose symptoms were improving. we had a whole host of boxes for
people to check no fever this 72 hours, no runny nose. and for those individuals five days of isolation is enough. we were not telling people to go to work sick. this is people who were asymptomatic or mild infection. the best data that we have suggests that this infection comes very quickly, has a very short what we call incubation period, and people remain infectious for shorter periods of time. so this is a safe period of isolation, especially for people who are vaccinated, asymptomatic or mildly ill, and that's the recommendation in new york state. >> in new york state, the isolation guidelines specifies it's for the fully vaccinated in these industries. the cdc guidelines that were just recently updated, it doesn't different siate between the vaccinated or unvaccinated. do you agree with the guidelines in general? do you think that the vaccinated should be singled out as new
york did? >> well, you know, we're aware of the cdc guidelines. we have it by a press release and media conversations. we're hopeful that they'll give us a bit more. and we expect to update our guidelines and align with them. we always seek to align with the cdc. but at the moment, we are -- we remain with the guidelines we have for new york state, which are focused on the vaccinated worker. we know vaccinated individuals shed less virus than people who are unvaccinated. there are a whole host of reasons to get vaccinated. but probably the most important is people who are vaccinated are less sick. and this applies also to children. among the children we've seen hospitalized, the majority of them are unvaccinated. and that youngest age group, 5 to 11, who have been eligible for a vaccination for about a month now, we still are seeing
too few children vaccinated, something like 30% getting their first jab. that's a number that we really need to see go up. >> dr. bassett, you were saying that the vaccinated shed less virus, right? does it make you scratch your head that the cdc didn't differentiate when it comes to the isolation guidelines, that the vaccinated should be able to come out five days with masking versus the unvaccinated, perhaps, staying in isolation longer? >> you know, i've listened to dr. walensky, for whom i have great respect, and she's indicated that their evidence is that people simply are infectious in the days leading to the i don't know set of symptoms and just for a few days afterwards and that they're confident that these guidelines will ensure that people are not infectious when they go back to work. and for those who are, of course both of our guidelines ask that people wear a mask, a good mask,
you know, a well-fitting surgical-type mask or for health care workers higher-level masks. the cdc has requested they wear those for five days. so, you know, we all want to focus on the same thing, that the original quarantine and isolation periods were very long. you'll remember when we started they were at 14 days, went down to 10 days. this virus moves quickly and makes people sick quickly, and people also seem to recover quickly. >> clearly the economy is part of the equation now when it comes to public health. >> it is. >> dr. bassett, thanks for your time. best of luck to you as you navigate the tough days ahead. appreciate it. >> thank you. thank you, amara. thanks for having me. coming up, we are just hours away from president biden and vladimir putin meeting again. will it de-escalate tensions
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president biden and vladimir putin will speak on the phone in just hours from now. the call comes at the request of the russian leader and that fears that russia could invade ukraine. this will be the second meeting between most leaders this month. cnn's nic robertson live in moscow with more. nic, what can we expect? >> reporter: well, that earlier call in december, that was a video call. we're told that this time it will just be a straightforward phone call, so don't expect a lot of visuals. last time, remember, the kremlin really wanted to push -- were
happy to say they were the first ones to get the video and pictures out of that actual meeting. so this will be at a slower turn. they're also saying they want this meeting because the issues are extremely complicated. the last time that president biden and president putin talked in that december video call, president putin promised to give president biden a list of russia's -- what russia wanted. the list is pretty straightforward but very unlikely to be met in full. he wants cast iron legal guarantees that nato will not allow ukraine to become a member and he wants nato to roll back, as he sees it, its eastern expansion. on the u.s. side, the united states is looking for a de-escalation of tensions along the border with iran and the potential for russia to kind of work more closely with the united states in the ongoing discussions with iran in vienna at the moment, the iran nuclear deal. that could help and could be beneficial to both. that's the view of the white
house. that's all on the table going into this phone call. but the reality is the tough negotiations doesn't begin until 10th of january? geneva. >> thank you. joining me is leon panetta, the former defense secretary and former cia director during the obama administration. secretary, than for your time. first off, you know, we were saying this call came at the request of putin less than two weeks before these security talks. what's putin's calculus, do you believe, and why now? >> well, i think it follows a pattern that putin has used in the past of ratchetting up pressure when he's trying to get his way. he's gone through an approach that uses military displays. he shot his hypersonic missiles on christmas eve.
he's been doing troop movements. the people under him have all been pushing the same message. and now he's trying to go directly to president biden to try to get him to i'm sure agree to this security deal which i do not think president biden can agree to. >> we're just learning that the u.s. air force secretary flew another spy plane over eastern ukraine to gather intelligence about the military situation on the ground. we know that a few days ago putin had said that they had pulled back about 10,000 troops from the border with ukraine. what do you make of this move, gathering intelligence just hours before this phone call? >> well, i think intelligence only proves that putin is maintaining a pretty heavy troop presence along the border, anywhere from 100,000 to 120,000
to 170,000 troops located along the border. so i don't see putin necessarily backing off at this point. i think he's in the process of ratchetting up pressure. and what he wants to do is have this phone conversation to try to see if he can frankly test president biden. i think putin felt he had his way pretty much with president trump, and he's hoping he can try to push biden the same way. they're two very different people. biden is a lot more experienced in dealing with putin. >> putin is not naive. he knows that bide season much more experienced. and, you know, we know that some of the security guarantees that putin is demanding is a nonstarter for washington, right, including nato, you know, stopping its expansion. how do you expect this call to go then in terms of the conversation, what bide season going to say and what putin is going to say and finding common
ground? >> i think presidewhat presiden has to make clear is that nato is not going to -- neither the united states nor nato are going to agree to his request that they ensure that ukraine never joins nato. in addition to that, pull back forces from some of the forward-leaning nato countries. that's a nonstarter. and i think the united states has made that clear. the problem is that i think the president has to indicate that we're setting up negotiations with the russians. it will begin on january 10th in geneva. there's two other negotiations that will occur with nato and with the european union that those are opportunities to try
to negotiate these issues out. and that is in the interest of both russia and the united states as well as our allies to try to negotiate these issues. >> i want to play for you what president biden sed, secretary, after his last call with putin just three weeks ago. here it is. >> we have a moral obligation and a legal obligation to our nato allies if they were to attack under article 5. it's a sacred obligation. that obligation does not extend to nato -- i mean to ukraine. but it would depend upon what the rest of the nato countries were willing do as well. but the idea the united states is going to unilaterally use force to confront russia invading ukraine is not in the cards right now. >> secretary, should biden have taken up unilateral force off the table in such a public way?
>> well, i think it's very important for the president to make clear that the russians are going to pay a price if they do, in fact, decide to invade, and that that price is going to be economic, it's going to be with the number of additional sanctions, that it's going to involve some of our -- even our military assistance to the ukraine to try to help the ukraine in that effort. and i think it is clear that while we're not going to put our combat forces on the ground in the ukraine -- and i think the president frankly was right in making that clear because it's obvious that that would not happen -- but at the same time make very clear that the united states is going to do everything necessary with our allies to try to make sure that the russians pay a very heavy price if they invade. the russians can lose a lot here too. i mean, having russian body bags
going back to russia as a result of a war in the ukraine is not exactly something that putin would like to see happen as well. so i think there is room here for negotiations between the united states and russia. >> glad to hear your optimism, secretary. the u.s. in a delicate position striking a balance between helping ukraine and not threatening russia in a way to force them to act. thank you so much, former secretary of defense leon pan panetta. appreciate your time. coming up, survivors of jeffrey epstein's abuse are reacting to the continue vision of ghislaine maxwell. while they say justice is still a long ways off. hear from them next.
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new this morning, relieve and grateful, the words of annie farmer, a survivor of jeffrey epstein's sexual abuse. after the conviction of his longtime associate ghislaine maxwell, she was found guilty on five of six counts in her sex trafficking trial. cnn's sonja moogi live in new york with more reaction from survivors. >> reporter: this has been a day many the making and coming and wished for by so many of these survivors for years. many of them believed that they wouldn't be believed by law enforcement, by the public with these allegations against such
powerful people including jeffrey epstein and ghislaine maxwell. many survivors were dealt a huge blow with jeffrey epstein dying by suicide weeks after his arrest. annie farmer described the abuse she dealt with. she testified on the witness stand in front of ghislaine maxwell, which was a very difficult thing to do. here is what she said this morning about how she feels about the verdict. >> it's a very rare opportunity to be able to be in court and tell your story and to see the person that perpetrated the abuse held accountable. i felt that was not just for me but for so many of the other people involved in this case that didn't have that opportunity. this is one important step towards justice, and i think, you know, in this particular case, there are, you know, there were other people involved and other perpetrators, and we
certainly hope there will continue to be investigations so that other people will be held accountable. >> that's one thing that many survivors of this abuse say that they want. they want to know that the other people of power who have been named in the trial, some who weren't named in the trial, will be held accountable. one woman called this verdict -- she did not get to testify, but she said her soul yearned for justice for years and that she will not forget the day this verdict came down for the rest of her life. >> i'm sure she won't. the courage of these survivors is just incredible. thank you so much, sonia moghe. joining me the cnn criminal analyst and criminal defense attorney joey jackson and former u.s. assistant attorney elie honig. elie, your reaction to the verdict and its potential impact on other cases going forward. >> the first thought has to be with these victims. four of them testified at this trial, but really they spoke on behalf of dozens of dozens of
victims victimized by jeffrey epstein, ghislaine maxwell, and others over the years. it's important to remember that prosecutors initially gave jeffrey epstein essentially a free pass over a decade ago down in florida. and really the only reason we were able to see justice here after all these years is because of intrepid, really effective local reporting down in florida and because the southern district of new york stepped up and pursued justice for ghislaine maxwell. i think victims are right to point out this is a partial step towards justice. one person has been convict preponderance of the evidence way more than one or two people involved in this. we'll see. the prosecutors have the evidence and the will do to go after those people. >> so powerful to hear the witnesses say they didn't think they would be believed. joey, maxwell's lawyers are saying they're planning to appeal, as is her family. any chance of that succeeding? >> amara, good to be with you
and my friend elie. it's early at this point with respect to appeals and how that goes. you're appealing a verdict but not really. you're appealing the information the jury got to gather the verdict. very thin distinction, but here's what it is. in the event that the judge made judici judicial errors, allowed evidence before the jury that he shouldn't have, made rulings that were prejudicial or hurt miss maxwell, those are the issues being appealed. certainly the attorneys throughout the course of the trial, the defense attorneys, made a record of what those are and they will appeal that. always an uphill battle when you move to appeal. one quick thing, pifltdivoting that, the government has a lot of leverage. why? they may have the government look to speak to miss maxwell, and she wasn't speaking about it then. you can remember how defiant she was when she was asked by the judge, do you wish to testify?
that's in your province alone. she said no, i'm not going to testify because the government has not proven their case beyond a reasonable doubt. guess what? here we are and they have. so the issue now is whether she will be inclined to speak knowing that she's facing a very stiff sentence and what, if anything, the government will do for her by gleaning other names and others who could be held accountable if she decides to speak now. that's an open question, but i think the government's leverage with regard to others being held accountable is huge at this point in time. >> elie, you mentioned that as well, because you were saying this is partial justice because we're only seeing one person convicted thus far. how do you see this playing out then? do you think maxwell will move to name names, high-profile figures to get her sentenced reduced? >> reporter: that's the big question as joe says. and you need two parties in order to cooperate. first question is will ghislaine maxwell be interested in cooperating now. like joe said, her incentives
have changed. she's guilty, looking at maybe the rest of her natural life behind bars. will chef an incentive to cooperate? perhaps. but she may be fearful, she may not want to cooperate. maybe she thinks she's innocent. on the other hand, will prosecutors want to cooperate with ghislaine maxwell? it's very late in the game now that she's been convicted, but you can still corroborate with somebody after trial. i've done it, not often, but the only way the section dny will give her a cooperate deal only if they are entirely convinced she'll give up everything she's done and anybody else in this ring or elsewhere has done. if she does flip, amara, that will be a game changer and that will be the best road to achieve full justice here. >> i'm sure there are some high-profile figures who are shaking in their boots right now watching this play out, uncertain how it will go. appreciate you both. joey jackson, elie honig, than so much. >> thanks.
up next, a wild year on wall street despite uncertainty with the pandemic. will 2022 be the same? we'll discuss next. [microwave beeps] [ahh] ♪ ♪ ♪ i'm so defensive, i got bongos thumping in my chest ♪ ♪ and something tells me they don't beat for me ♪ ♪ i love romance, but i got eggshells around me ♪ ♪ don't step on 'em, don't step on 'em ♪ ♪ don't step on 'em, don't step on me ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ he'd better not take the ring from me ♪
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so, yes,er, pl esxplain the dis. >> reporter: the stock market is clearly ending the year with a bang. the s&p 500 is up by 28% so far this year. the dow started the year at 30,600. it's getting close to 37,000. and also we're seeing a flurry of record highs. the s&p has notched 70 record highs, the latest one coming just yesterday. now, as you mentioned, this is all happening despite covid and a lot of pessimism on main street. for the real economy, the biggest positive is clearly the jobs market. we learned this morning that jobless claims fell many the latest week. they are holding near 52-year lows, but that's often getting overshadowed by the high cost of living. in a recent cnn poll, nearly two-thirds of americans rated the economy as in poor shape. the big disconnect here is the fact that the companies that
make up the s&p 500, they often have the resources and the flexibility to pass along higher costs to consumers. and so that's why companies are able to protect their bottom line. amara, the big key in 2022 is how the economy and companies deal with covid, because that clearly poses a risk for the stock market going forward. the other big key is that the federal reserve is removing the punch bowl to fight inflation. it plans to raise interest rates, end its stimulus program, and that is going to be another risk for the stock market. amara? >> so much uncertainty ahead. thanks, matt egan. appreciate it. now to this developing story. a tiger is dead and a man seriously hurt after putting his arm into the tiger's enclosure at a florida zoo. the man was employed by a third party to clean restrooms and the gift shop at the zoo in naples. police say the man entered an unauthorized area of the
enclosure after hours and was either petting or feeding the tiger. the collier county sheriff's office says their deputy was forced to shoot the tiger when other attempts to free the man's arm did not work. the tiger is a critically endangered species and it was killed. coming up, strategy shift. the white house looks to change its coronavirus messaging as we enter the third year of the pandemic. we will discuss next. but first, carole king and james taylor in an unforgettable concert film, "just call out my name," premooerg sunday at 9:00 p.m. on cnn. here's a preview. >> our challenge was to figure out how to do an intimate show in a really large arena. >> we wish everybody could be close in. one way to do that is to perform in the round. >> what we came up with was the idea that we would basically have a club in an arena where
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hours of 2021, we are seeing alarming record-breaking numbers of covid in america. the u.s. is now averaging more than 300,000 cases a day as we prepare to enter the third year of this pandemic. the highly infectious omicron variant, pandemic fatigue and slowing vaccination rates are leading the white house to consider shifting its strategy. joining me now is cnn political commentator dr. al sayyad, an epidemiologist and former detroit health commissioner. always good to see you, doctor. like we're seeing, we're seeing the administration making some shifts when it comes to pandemic strategy. what -- what do you want to see more of? >> i'll tell you this. it's not so much about a strategy that has failed but an execution on past strategy.
we're going into year three and we still don't have enough tests for the american basketball. and the fact that our hospital systems are still facing overwhelm and we're still trying to flatten the curve. you look at the vaccines and efficacy that the vaccines have had, that's been amazing, and what i would like to see, the two big things i would like to see out of the administration, a pivotal way to say that two vaccines have been vaccinated, and the second centerpiece that we need to recognized that we have enough n-59 and surgical masks to go around, and the evidence suggests that they do a much better job preventing the spread of this variant and this disease, so we really should be calling masking, a surgical mask or more, n-95, kf-59, places where we can do a lot better in terms of preventing illness. >> i do want to ask you since you were a public health commissioner. i guess the difficulty balancing, right, the economy
and also public health and how you see them doing their job, and michelle walensky admitted that to update the guidelines had as much to do with the economy it is a did with the science. do you agree with that, or should it be strictly based on data? >> will, my frustration is that this is theed did for disease control and prevention and the real focus ought to be about controlling the spread of the virus. that being said, it's really important to recognize that a potential consequence of a public lockdown has public harm. having been able to do basic things to make sure people are tested before being let out of isolation, it's frustrating to see that this was the first step taking. it's clear that omicron is
spreading quickly and it will have implications with our society. we have to weigh that in. with that we have to go with the science first and there are other potential tools on the table if the administration was able to make this available so rather than trying to limit isolation which could, of course, allow people to be passing on virus before they fully cleared, it i would have rather seen an upgrade in the vaccine requirement to be three shots instead of two. i would have seen an upgrade in terms of masking required in public places to be more than a cloth mask or to be a surgical or n-95 mask. those things prevented the spread of illness and prevent and save lives rather than leaving people potentially at risk. >> we have less than a minute. our team has been talking about and a lot of children have been asking questions and returning to school. new york city, the mayor there saying kids went back on school on monday and no negative students and d.c.'s mayor taking a different approach. all three have to show a never
test to return to the classroom. what do you think about the approach considering that code of tests are in short supply. are negative tests required to get kids back in school? >> getting kids back in school has to be number one, but doing so safely has to be critical. requiring a negative test is an important prudent aproench and we can't keep bending to the fact that we don't have enough tests because the tests we do have should go to the school because that is a priority for us, so i do think that requiring a negative test before going back to the classroom is a prudent approach here. >> doctor, always great to have you. thank you so much. >> thank you, amara. "inside politics" is up next." phil mattingly is in for john king. it starts right after this break. and long-lasting gain scent beads. try spring daydream, now part of our irresistible scent collection.
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are. hello and welcome to "inside politics." i'm phil mattingly in for john king in washington. a numbing pandemic first. omicron pushes the average u.s. daily covid case count above 300,000. now the variant has some states rethinking when and how kids will go back to school. just hours from now, president biden and russian president vladimir putin set to speak again. biden wants to back putin off ukraine's border. so far, there's no indication that he also, and low unemployment. stock market records. the demise that looks very different on paper than the reality. first the rapidly spreading omicron variant is shattering pandemic records across the u.s. the daily case rate topped 300,000 for the first time yesterday. in many states hospitals are filled with more covid patients than ever before, and in maryland covid hospitalizations run more than 30%