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White House COVID Response Team Holds Briefing; Trump's Last Pentagon Chief Blames His Speech for Capitol Riot. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired March 12, 2021 - 11:30   ET


DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: Childcare responsibilities with work responsibilities often operating in a virtual environment with limited childcare options.


We know that childcare programs and early child education are essentially to healthy childhood development. The services these programs offer are important for working parents and provide a safe, stable and nurturing development for kids to get them ready for school and develop critical, social and emotional skills.

Like other businesses and community services, many childcare programs have been challenged in their response to the pandemic. Early last year, CDC released initial guidance for childcare programs during COVID-19. As we learn more about the virus, CDC experts updated that guidance several times throughout 2020.

Today, CDC is again releasing updated guidance based on the most recent science. That science includes additional evidence showing that when used consistently and correctly prevention strategies such as mask-wearing, staying home when sick and good hand hygiene can allow childcare programs to operate safely and reduce the spread of COVID- 19.

This updated guidance is intended for all types of childcare providers, including childcare centers, family childcare homes, head start programs and pre-kindergarten programs and is meant to supplement, not to replace, other laws, rules or regulations that childcare programs must follow.

The guidance includes strategies that childcare programs can use to maintain healthy environments and operations, to lower the risk of COVID-19 clusters in their programs, to prepare for when someone is sick with COVID-19 and to support coping and resilience from their staff and children and parents they serve.

Critically, the updated guidance emphasizes the importance of mask- wearing for all children older than two years old and all staff except when eating or sleeping. It also highlights strategies, such as cohorting, where groups of children are kept together with the same peers and staff to reduce the risk of spread throughout the program. The guidance also provides recommendations on simple, low cost ventilation strategies, how to adopt the environment for children with disabilities and special needs and way to make spaces, such as making communal spaces, food service areas and play areas safer.

Recognizing that guidance can sometimes be complex. We are also releasing a suite of complementary resources, infographics and toolkits to help programs with implementation. For example, we have included quick guides and flowcharts to help you know what to do if a child becomes hill or showing signs of COVID-19 while in care.

All of these resources along with the guidance are now available at I hope that childcare providers will view the guidance as a one-stop shop for strategies they can use to safely provide care and enrichment to our nation's children.

In addition, I'm excited to know that the American rescue plan signed by the president yesterday includes $24 billion in emergency funding to help support childcare providers. This funding can be used to pay for rent, utilities and staff but also to help childcare providers implement COVID-19 prevention strategies.

I also want to stress that our childcare guidance emphasizes the importance of COVID-19 vaccination as an additional layer of prevention for childcare workers. I strongly encourage America's childcare workers to get vaccinated.

Last week, President Biden directed all states to prioritize childcare workers as well as K through 12 teachers and school staff for COVID-19 vaccination in March.

CDC is taking a leading role in helping to achieve the president's goal through our federal retail pharmacy program. We now have over 9,000 pharmacies participating nationwide, while childcare workers are being prioritized for vaccination appointments.

If you are a childcare worker and want to get vaccinated, please visit and check out the pharmacy partners that are participating in your state. Our website also provides information on where to go to schedule your appointment.

And if you are a childcare center whose workers don't uniformly have access to the web, please work with your center and your community to assist them in making appointments.

Finally, as we're talking about the impacts of this pandemic has had on children and family, I want to share with you another concerning way that COVID-19 is affecting the health of our nation, disrupting our ability to vaccinate children against other infectious diseases.

On-time vaccination throughout childhood is essential because it helps to provide immunity before children are exposed to potentially life- threatening diseases. During the pandemic, we have seen substantial declines in pediatrician visits and because of this, CDC orders for childhood vaccinations dropped by about 11 million doses, a substantial and historic decline. [11:35:15]

As we work to get our children back to school, we certainly do not want to encounter other preventable infectious outbreaks, such as measles and mumps. When planning for your child's safe return to childcare programs or to school, please check with your child's doctor to make sure they are up to date on their vaccines. As if they -- and if they did fall behind, they can get caught up by following CDC's catch up immunization schedule available on the CDC website.

This pandemic has taken so much from us already. We must work together to protect our children's health now and in the future.

Thank you. I'll turn things over to Dr. Fauci.


I would like to spend just a few minutes on updating you from something that I spoke about a couple of presses ago regarding therapy and in some respects prevention of COVID-19 disease. If I could have the next slide.

This is a slide, again, which I had shown previously and the reason I repeat it is because what I'm going to tell you over the next two or three minutes relates to things that will be very useful if one consults the treatment guidelines, which, as I mentioned, is a living document which is updated on a regular basis as new clinical data come in.

The reason why I point this out is that, recently, there has been a considerable amount of information regarding some of the monoclonal antibodies that are used in the prevention and treatment of COVID-19. Recall a week or so ago I spoke to you about the direct antiviral agents that we are pursuing in a very proactive way. What we're going to be talking about in the next minute or two are monoclonal antibodies.

So just to orient you, there are a number of monoclonal antibodies, not all of them directed against the virus itself. For example, Tocilizumab is an anti-IL-6 receptor antibody from Genentech. I'll get to that in a moment.

The monoclonal antibodies that are directed against the SARS-Cov-2 spike protein, usually the receptor binding domain are Bamlanivimab from Lilly, Etesevimab from Lilly, the VIR-7831 by Vir/GSK and a cocktail from Regeneron called Casirivimab and Imdevimab, again, from Regeneron.

So let's just go to the next slide. We'll talk about monoclonal antibodies for COVID-19 treatment. Next slide.

I had mentioned the Tocilizumab, there was a recent guideline alert from the NIH which showed that this particular antibody, in combination with Dexamethasone, for certain advanced hospitalized patients, namely patients who were exhibiting rapid respiratory decompensation, showed that it was useful in the treatment of these individuals who were exhibiting this rapid progression of disease. Next slide.

Now getting to the monoclonal antibodies against the virus itself, the combination of Bamlanivimab and Etesevimab recently, literally, a couple of days ago at the CROI Conference, which is the conference on retrovirus and opportunistic opportunistic infections, I point them out to you is that many of the researchers who have previously devoted their careers to studying HIV have now pivoted because of the emergency nature of COVID-19.

In this study reported at CROI, in individuals who were ambulatory with the question being asked, can we keep them out of the hospital. It showed a 70 percent reduction in COVID related hospitalizations and deaths by any cause by day 29 and people who received this combination as opposed to the placebo. Next slide.

There was another study by VIR, which is a combination of the VIR biotechnology company and GSK, who announced that their product, VIR- 7831, again, in ambulatory patients, reduced hospitalization and risk of death with an 85 percent reduction when you look at this compared to placebo. Next slide.

Very quickly, now, looking at monoclonal antibodies for COVID-19 prevention as opposed to treatment. In this study reported a couple of days ago, Bamlanivimab prevented COVID-19 morbidity and mortality in the nursing home setting.


What does that mean? It meant that an individual where you have infection in a nursing home and you looked at the group's, be they staff or residents, who were randomized to the placebo versus Bamlanivimab, there was an 80 percent reduction in the incidents of moderate or worse COVID 19 at eight weeks. Next slide.

Here again is the Regeneron co-antibody cocktail that I mentioned just previously. In this situation, it was within a household setting, in other words, where there is an infection in the household setting, and you're looking at the results of randomized, the family members, either to this cocktail, or placebo, to determine if you can prevent namely a post exposure prophylaxis or if you can treat early disease.

The results were really dramatic. There was 100 percent protection against symptomatic infection in the group compared to placebo and it reduced the overall infection rate by 50 percent and, importantly, those who were infected had a hundred full low viral load and shorter duration of detectible viral RNA.

Now, the reason I showed you the slide on the NIH treatment guidelines is that this is a very fluid area of research, particularly since, as I mentioned on a previous presser, that these monoclonal antibodies can be knocked out, particularly when given as monotherapy by different variants, which is the reason why, as we go on, and I will report to you at future meetings, you will see mostly combinations of these antibodies as opposed to single ones because the single ones are most vulnerable to the variants that can knock them out easily.

I'll stop there and turn it over to Dr. Nunez-Smith.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN NEWSROOM: And the White House coronavirus response team continuing with their briefing right there.

As we heard off the top, largely hitting on the messaging, reinforcing the messaging that President Biden laid out to the nation in his primetime address last night.

Let me bring in Dr. Wen once again on this. Talking more about how they're going to get to that May 1st eligibilities for all adults and how, as Jeffrey Zients put it, the country can get to a place to celebrate a more normal 4th of July, Dr. Wen. What stuck out to you from today's briefing?

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Well, I thought the comprehensive steps that Jeff Zients laid out were solid. I mean, talking about increasing distribution in health centers, in pharmacies, setting up more mass vaccination sites, increasing the supply of vaccinators, the eligibility for people who are able to do the vaccinations, think all of these are exactly the right steps and they're concrete.

They say, here is the federal government's role, here is what we need local and state health departments, here is what we need, the support of individuals of retailers and businesses. I think that more can certainly be done here to reach people where they are.

Right now, we know that the people who are very eager to get vaccinated are willing to go and sign up and wait in long lines potentially at vaccination sites, but a lot of people are eager to have the vaccine at places that they know and trust, their local pharmacy, their local doctor's offices. And so having more of that kind of outreach of making vaccination the easy choice for people, that is going to be really important for the administration going forward.

BOLDUAN: Great point. Dr. Wen, thank you so much. We're going to continue to monitor the White House COVID response team briefing, bringing the headlines that come. I appreciate it.

Coming up still for us, for the first time, we're hearing from President Trump's acting defense secretary with his view on what happened on the day of the Capitol insurrection and why he is putting the blame on Donald Trump.



BOLDUAN: In a new interview, the former acting secretary of defense is blaming -- says blame for the January 6 Capitol riot is on the former president of the United States, Donald Trump. This is really the first time that we've heard from Chris Miller since the insurrection. He was the acting defense secretary at the time, the man not only in charge of America's military but also the man who had final approval on sending in the National Guard to stop the violence on that day, to send in reinforcements. Here he is speaking to Vice.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think the president was responsible for what happened on the 6th?

CHRISTOPHER MILLER, ACTING DEFENSE SECRETARY UNDER TRUMP: I don't know, but it seems cause and effect, yes. The question is, would anybody have marched on the Capitol and over on the Capitol without the president's speech? I think it's pretty much definitive that wouldn't have happened. So, yes.


BOLDUAN: Joining me right now is the former deputy FBI director, Andy McCabe.


So, Andy, what did you think when you heard Miller lay the blame at Trump's feet? Did this surprise you?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it did, Kate. You know, it's always extraordinary when you hear someone who was that closely intertwined with the previous administration to come out and call out what many of us can see in plain sight. So I think it is surprising and significant that former Acting Defense Secretary Miller is being that clear about the fact that it was Trump's words that caused the riot.

However, I will say that later in the interview, he kind of hedges his bets a little bit by floating the idea that, well, it's not clear that Trump knew what he was doing or knew that his words would have that effect on the crowd, which I find to be much less believable.

BOLDUAN: Yes, considering everyone said that his words were going to create violence and cause violence for months ahead of time.

MCCABE: That's right.

BOLDUAN: Miller also said that he did not speak to Donald Trump on the day of the insurrection as this was all happening or even after. The secretary of defense did not speak to the commander in chief on the day that the seat of American democracy was being violently attacked. I don't know, maybe I'm naive, but did you find that surprising?

MCCABE: Well, it is. It's ridiculous. On the day the Capitol gets sacked, the secretary of defense has no communication with the president. However, when he answered that question, the question was, did you speak to the president or anyone else in the White House during the attack, and he said, I didn't speak to the president.

So I think it's still an open question as to whether or not he did make contact to maybe the president's chief of staff or other White House personnel. But, still, that call should have been to the commander in chief, and it should have been to figure out how they were going to repel that attack, and clearly that didn't happen.

BOLDUAN: And just to remind folks, I mean, Miller has been criticized for potentially slow walking approval in a critical time period about sending in the National Guard, the head of the National Guard. You and I were on together and talked about this. He raised this question while testifying before Congress when we learned that approval to send in the Guard where Chris Miller is the final approver took more than three hours.

I want to play for you how Chris Miller responded to that in this interview.


MILLER: It comes back to understanding how the military works. This isn't a video game, it's not Halo, it's not Black Ops: Call to Duty.


BOLDUAN: It's also not three hours and 19 minutes. I mean, does this answer this key question stemming from what were the failures exposed on January 6th?

MCCABE: It does not. And, look, no one was asking Chris Miller whether or not he thought the -- you know, the events that took place on January 6 were out of a video game. The fact is his folks, his staff were on that joint call with the Metropolitan Police Department, Capitol Police and the D.C. Guard, in which they pushed back on the request for reinforcements and allegedly because they didn't like the optics of it. His Defense Department also withdrew the authorization that the D.C. Guard normally has prior to the event to be able to deploy assets during a crisis and to move folks around.

So there was clear obstruction here on the part of the Defense Department. He is responsible for the Defense Department. So I think, you know, we have a lot more questions that we need to get answers to.

BOLDUAN: I was going to ask you that, because I've heard senators tell me that they want -- Chris Miller is one of the people they want to have testify after this interview. I mean, there are clearly more questions to be asked.

MCCABE: That's absolutely right. You know, testimony in Congress is good. It gives us some idea of what happened, but we're not going to know this until we have a real investigation.

BOLDUAN: Yes. And testifying before Congress, as much as we say, you can't lie to the press, well, you definitely shouldn't and can't lie to Congress when you're under oath. It's good to see you, Andy. Thank you very much.

MCCABE: Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, President Biden is getting ready to hit the road to push his relief plan as he makes a pledge to get back to pre-pandemic life. But, first, before we go to break, COVID-19 has forced many people into isolation, including those living with disabilities, of course. This week's CNN hero is paralyzed and struggled for years to attain a healthy lifestyle, but he did. And now he's helping others do the very same.

Meet Wesley Hamilton.



My main goal is to teach people how to take control of their lives. Take full accountability and embrace your reality.

When we go through our program, it's only the beginning. I want to be there through your whole journey because I want to see you successful.

There we go, one more.

I gained so much from my injury and I want other people to have that same mindset.

You're learning that you're about to do more.


I believe that once we help someone now, they have the ability to help someone else. This is something that has to have a ripple effect. We're coming together, empowering each other, being an inspiration for one another.


BOLDUAN: To learn more, please go to We'll be right back.