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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Flu Outbreak; FAA to Review 787 Dreamliner; Biden Meets Video Game Reps Today;

Aired January 11, 2013 - 06:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hospitals swamped. The flu in full swing. We've got the early word on what doctors from the CDC plan to say about the flu later today.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Vacation tragedy. Americans are among the dead after a resort hotel in the Pacific goes up in flames.

BERMAN: And a daring demonstration. Two men strolling down the street with assault rifles in broad daylight. They're doing it just to prove a point.

SAMBOLIN: What could possibly go wrong there, right?

BERMAN: All right. Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. I'm John Berman.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. Happy to have you with us.

Thirty-one minutes past the hour. We're going to go on here to our top story: the flu outbreak. It is spreading across the nation. Take a look at this map that we have for you. It's brand new information this morning from or Elizabeth Cohen. Six more states are reporting widespread activity. That brings the total to 47 states. That's up from 41 the week before.

This is a sneak peek at the new CDC numbers that they're going to reveal later on today. So, we don't know yet which states were added, but we are going to find out later on this morning.

And here is a look at individual reports that we've received from the states. Minnesota Health Department says 27 people have died from flu-related complications, South Carolina reports 22 flu-related deaths this season. That is compared to one for all of 2011.

Pennsylvania is also reporting 22 deaths, six people reported dead in Illinois. In Oklahoma, eight are reported dead. In Indiana, 15 reported dead. Arkansas, seven are dead. In Massachusetts, 18 flu- related deaths.

And also in Massachusetts, in Somerville, near Boston, all 720 doses of free flu vaccine, which was supposed to last the entire season, it's already run out. So, joining us now is Dr. Anthony Fauci, of the director of National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health. That is a mouthful.

We are happy are you with us this morning. Some of this information is confusing to us. We're wondering if it's good news or bad news on some front. Can you explain these numbers to us and what we should be concerned about?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY & INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Well, this is a dynamic situation when you talk about widespread, you're talking about throughout the United States, and then have you high activity or medium activity. The CDC will be coming out this morning with the latest of the numbers -- of the epidemiological numbers.

What we really do know is that we are now in, as we have known for a few weeks, in a situation with a flu outbreak that's a significant outbreak. I mean, if you compare it, for example, to last year, which was very, very mild. This year, as we see from the charts, the number of cases have gone up earlier than in previous years.

We started off at the very beginning of December, usually you see this kind of going up at that trajectory in mid to late January. Peeks and then goes of into well into February and into march.

Right now, we have a considerable amount of activity, and from week to week, you may see some modification of it. So I think we should wait until we get the CDC numbers today, and then you could look at the patterns of how they've evolved.

But, clearly, we are having widespread activity through most of the United States.

SAMBOLIN: Well, Dr. Fauci, the numbers that I just went through on the deaths, incredibly alarming. People are concerned here. We've talked about this being an epidemic. Is it an epidemic and what does that mean?

FAUCI: By the very, very strict definition of the CDC, which is really the definition of an epidemic, is the percentage of pneumonia and influenza deaths that occur on a given week in the 52-week year. The epidemic threshold for the CDC, for week 52, which was last week in December, is 7.1. At that point, the number, the percentage of death was seven. So, it doesn't quite reach the strict definition of an epidemic.

But, really, it's widespread outbreak and there are some people, generally from a semantics standpoint, interchange the word epidemic with outbreak. By the strict, strict definition of the percentage of pneumonia and influenza deaths, as of week 52, last week in December, didn't quite make that. It was a percentage -- fraction of a percentage point less.

SAMBOLIN: And we're calling this the H3N2 virus. How does it compare to other strains of the flu? FAUCI: Right.

SAMBOLIN: Is this more deadly than other strains?

FAUCI: Usually, the H3N2 is more serious of the influenza A strains that circulate. You can give an example. The H1N1, which was the cause of the 2009 pandemic that we had, we had spillover of that last year. And the 2011-2012 winter season was predominantly H1N1 and a very mild season.

Generally, when you get H3N2, you have more serious disease. For example, in 2003 and 2004, we had a season quite similar to what we're seeing now, an early uptick of cases and predominantly H3N2. That is really foreboding of a moderate to severe seasonal influenza, which it looks like we're going through right now.

SAMBOLIN: And, Dr. Fauci, we've covered a couple of cases. And two in particular, there was a young man, a teenager who died, a very healthy young man, and then he got the flu, he got better, and then he died.

And then a little boy in the hospital that Elizabeth Cohen has been following.

Is it -- are people who are healthy as susceptible as those who are ill? Because it seems -- this is unusual, when you see a perfectly healthy young man die from the flu.

FAUCI: Right. That is unusual. Generally, perfectly healthy people do not die from influenza, but it does occur. For the most part, when you talk about high-risk individuals, who are more prone to getting the complications, namely, pneumonia and sometimes death, it's generally the elderly, very, very young children, pregnant women, people with chronic, chronic debilitating diseases, people on certain immunosuppressive drugs.

But it is not unheard of it all to see a perfectly healthy young person die from influenza, although that is a rare event.

SAMBOLIN: It is so tragic.

Now, you're still recommending that folks get the flu shot if they have not gotten it, right?

FAUCI: No doubt about it. It is not too late to get the flu shot. Even though we are in January right now, and it would be best to get the flu shot in the fall, in October, and early November, or even in September, it is not to late to get the flu shot.

And people who have not gotten the flu shot, and the CDC recommends anybody over six months to years old should get it, particularly people who are in situations where they are at high risk for complications.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, thank you so much for your time this morning.

FAUCI: You're quite welcome.

SAMBOLIN: I'm going to get a flu shot.

And coming up on STARTING POINT, we'll talk with Dr. Sanjay Gupta about how you can protect yourself.

BERMAN: Thirty-seven minutes after the hour right now.

And some Americans believed to be among the dead in a hotel fire in the northern Philippines. This happened at the Dryden Hotel in Olongapo City. The hotel owners says six people died of smoke inhalation, including at least two Americans. The fire reportedly destroyed seven rooms, some offices, a communications center and a computer room.

Investigators are trying to nail down a cause. But initial signs suggest it may have been an electrical fire.

I want to take a look at some of the top CNN trends this morning.

Former NFL great Junior Seau had a brain disease that was brought on by multiple hits to the head. That's what National Institute of Health reports. Seau was just 43 years old when he took his own life last May. He suffered from the type of brain disease that can only be diagnosed after death.

His family donated his brain for research after his suicide. This just continues the questions about concussions and football.

SAMBOLIN: A judge in Chicago could decide today if a lottery winner's body should be exhumed. Forty-six-year-old Urooj Khan died suddenly last summer, about a month after he won a million dollar jackpot. So, first it was thought that he died of natural causes. But it became a murder mystery after a test showed a deadly amount of cyanide in his system. Investigators say more tests can tell him how the poison actually got into his system.

BERMAN: Two Oregon men chose an odd way to educate people about legally carrying weapons as they claim was their goal. They hoped people would engage them in conversation. Instead, frightened residents in Portland called 91 when they saw assault weapons strapped to their backs. Despite the panic they caused, the men, they really didn't break the law because they are licensed to carry the weapons.

SAMBOLIN: It's the little film that could, and she's the little actress that did. Nine-year-old Quvenzhane Wallis was nominated for an Oscar for her role as Hush Puppy in "Beasts of the Southern Wild." She is the young youngest best actress nominee ever. She told us her reaction when she got the good news.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUVENZHANE WILLIS, BEST ACTRESS NOMINEE: In the hotel room, half asleep, saw my name just rolling down like this. And on the inside I was exciting -- I was excited, and just sitting there, boom! I hear stuff just speaking about the film, you, me, stuff like that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: How sweet is she? "Beast of the Southern Wild" received four Oscar nominations in all. Including one for best picture and one for its director as well.

BERMAN: A lot of buzz about that film. A lot of people telling me that's a great, great movie.

SAMBOLIN: Such a perfect 9-year-old reaction, right? There is my name scrolling.

BERMAN: Forty minutes after the hour right now.

And turbulence expected today for Boeing. Coming up, reports the FAA about to take a long, hard look at this much-hyped Dreamliner jet.

SAMBOLIN: Plus, what's the deal with this red dust cloud?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: So, it's supposed to be the next big thing in air travel, but Boeing's 787 Dreamliner having trouble getting off the ground. Two more mishaps overnight on separate flights in Japan. That follows three incidents earlier this week involving the jumbo jet. It adds up to serious safety questions. There are reports that the FAA plans a review of the Dreamliner.

CNN's Rene Marsh is following this development. She is life in Washington this morning.

Good morning, Rene. There are these reports that the FAA will announce a special review of the Dreamliner today. What do you think we can expect from this announcement?

RENE MARSH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. Well, we know that "Bloomberg News" is reporting that the FAA will indeed announce plans to review the jumbo jet's overall design and manufacturing of other parts.

Now, other reports suggesting the jet's power system will be closely looked at. It will be scrutinized. This would come, of course, just days after an electrical fire in the belly of an empty Japanese airliner 787 on the tarmac at Logan Airport in Boston on Monday.

Now, one of the jet's high-energy lithium ion battery exploded, causing flames and heavy smoke. That's what we saw on Monday.

Now, we spoke with a Boeing spokesperson. They said in part, quote, "We are actively working with the FAA daily, across all of our product lines." They also went on to say, we are absolutely confident in the reliability and performance of the 787.

So this morning -- you mentioned it at the top there, John. We received word of a crack in a cockpit window of a Dreamliner. This is not uncommon in passenger jets but it's just yet another incident there. And we're also hearing about an oil leak which was discovered on another Dreamliner.

Both Al Nippon Airways planes, both landed safely in Japan. And in case you're counting, John, that's five incidents in just as many days.

BERMAN: There's been so much anticipation over the 787 for years. I mean, this was Boeing's plane of the future. So what do all these problems mean for Boeing right now?

MARSH: Absolutely, I mean, we're talking about lots of pending orders here; some 800 orders still have to be delivered to airlines here. It was a very hyped up project here. They talked about how comfortable the air cabin would be, the larger overhead compartments, the larger windows, so there was a lot of hype around this new jetliner. They had lots of promo videos. And then you have a week like you had today, and let's not forget, we had some incidents in the past as well with engine problems, things of that sort -- not what you want.

Still, though, Boeing is standing by their product. The chief engineer got on a conference call with members of the media saying that he still believes, despite these issues, that the jet is 100 percent safe to florid fly. He says he flies it and he categorizes these problems simply as growing pains for any new jet.

We'll have wait and see what the FAA has to say later on today.

BERMAN: They seem like uncomfortable growing pains for Boeing right now. Rene Marsh in Washington, thanks very much.

SAMBOLIN: All right, it is 46 minutes past the hour. These pictures look like something the Mars rover would send back, right? But take a look at this. That's not Mars; that is Down Under. A huge red wall of dust towered over the coast of Western Australia. Meteorologists there say a storm had picked up tremendous amounts of sand dust and dusted it -- just passed over the land. A cyclone several hundred miles away has been stirring up severe weather in that area. That looks menacing, doesn't it?

BERMAN: Yes, a lot of weather issues down there.

Now, closer to home, from 12 inches to rain to 12 inches of snow, a lot of weather around the country. Alexandra Steele is here with a look at all that. Hey, Alexandra

ALEXANDRA STEELE, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hey, good morning, guys. All right, two sides of the coin. The East Coast warm and wet. And the West Coast is cold and will become very snowy and even potentially blizzard conditions developing.

So let's first talk about the wet side. We've seen an inundation -- it's literally three days -- an inundation of rain here in Louisiana, between 6 and 12 inches of rain. That white? That is over 10 inches of rain. So you can only imagine. And in addition to the rain, which for the most part is over, we had three reports of tornadoes yesterday, and really ample damage. So it's been a very rough few days. The good news for the most part, the worst of this is over. All of this rain now moving to the north. You can see just a few showers moving through New Orleans, but certainly not that rain and that training rain, with the rain going over the same areas over and over again.

Cinci, rain for you. Why? 60 degrees. It should be 20 degrees colder than that. And Cleveland all the way to Buffalo, you can see, of course, is predominantly rain because temperatures are 20 degrees above average. Washington, D.C., look at this. 66. We're going to see the cherry blossoms begin to come out. In Atlanta, 70 for the weekend.

So you get the picture; the East is warm, thus we're seeing rain.

But it's a whole different story out West. Temperatures 20 degrees below average; actually an ice storm warning in Minnesota. So temperatures even that far north are kind of just on the edge. But here's where we're seeing it: Salt Lake City to Billings, anywhere between about 6 and 12 inches of snow coming in. And there, temperatures well below average. Look at this. 18 in Salt Lake for the weekend; sShould be almost 40 degrees.

So a little bit of everything happening around the country.

BERMAN: All right, Alexandra Steele, have a great weekend. Thanks very much.

STEELE: You too, guys. Bye-bye.

SAMBOLIN: Soledad O'brien is going to join us with a look at what's ahead on "STARTING POINT". Oh there you are. Good morning.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR, "STARTING POINT": Hey, good morning to you. The vice president, Joe Biden, the NRA, had the meeting over gun control. So how will one of the most powerful lobbying groups in Washington, D.C. affect Biden's efforts to prevent gun violence? We're going to talk this morning to the Illinois Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky. Richard Feldman, he met with Biden as well; he's with the Independent Firearm Owners Association.

And then many people think when Lance Armstrong sits down to talk to Oprah this week, he's going to confess to doping. Does he need to admit to the allegations before he's able to do anything else with his career and his life? We're going to talk this morning with "The Daily Beast's" Lauren Ashburn and Howie Kurtz, the host of CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES" of course. Kurtz says Armstrong's a liar.

Then she shot to fame in the 1990s with the singing group TCL. Now, after she battled a brain tumor and sickle-cell anemia, singer T-Boz is trying to make a comeback with a new reality show. It's called, "Totally T-Boz". She's going to join us to talk about that, live this morning.

We'll see you all right at the top of the hour.

SAMBOLIN: That young lad is a survivor.

O'BRIEN: Oh, I love her.

BERMAN: Don't go chasing waterfalls, Soledad. Don't go chasing.

O'BRIEN: Scrubs.

SAMBOLIN: Thank you, Soledad.

Fifty minutes past the hour. Coming up: chaos in a convenience store. A clerk versus an armed attacker.

BERMAN: Plus, high anxiety. Some hikers involved in a hair-raising rescue.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Good morning, New York.

SAMBOLIN: Look at that beautiful shot. That is worth coming over to the TV set. That is gorgeous!

BERMAN: I knew there was a reason to get this up morning. It's a beautiful sunrise in New York City right now.

SAMBOLIN: Oh, we have lots of different views for you.

BERMAN: Fifty-three minute after the hour here in New York.

SAMBOLIN: Vice President Joe Biden's gun control task force will deliver its recommendations to President Obama by Tuesday. Today, he meets with representatives of the video game industry. He's already met with people on the various sides of the issue, as you know. The former head of a movie industry group argued movies do not cause violence, while the NRA called it an agenda to attack the Second Amendment.

BERMAN: Planned Parenthood goes to court in Texas today to fight for funding. The state kicked it out of women's health program, of its women's health program. And a new law says Texas doesn't have to spend tax dollars on women's health clinics that are linked to abortion providers. Planned Parenthood is hoping a federal judge will intervene so it can keep providing state-funded health services to poor women.

SAMBOLIN: Thief pulls knife; clerk pulls gun. Police in Milwaukee looking for the guy in the hat in the surveillance video who held up a convenience store at knifepoint. He grabbed the cash register, but took off when the clerk took out the gun that she keeps right under the counter.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERNESTINE ALDANA, STORE OWNER: I actually feared for my life that night. I mean, if I wouldn't have had the gun, I believe I would have been hurt. (END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: My goodness. Well, the cash went all over, but he did not get away with a dime.

BERMAN: That's the dude who literally took a knife to a gun fight. Right there.

All right, caught between a rock and a hard place for real. Firefighters rescued two injured hikers stranded in a canyon outside Denver. Apparently what happened, they left the trail during a descent down the mountain. They got trapped; they broke some bones in the process. One hiker took pictures of the area with a cell phone and that helped rescuers find them, luckily.

SAMBOLIN: Very smart thinking. All right, 55 minutes past the hour. Today's Best Advice from a Victoria's Secret model. That's coming up.

BERMAN: Plus, the latest on the flu outbreak that has so many of you home sick today. Soledad is joined by our Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Just a couple of minutes before the hour right now, and as always, we wrap it up with Best Advice.

SAMBOLIN: Miss Christine?

ROMANS: And today we hear from a model who made headlines by telling young girls -- a model -- who told young girls not to follow in her footsteps. Here's Cameron Russell.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAMERON RUSSEL, VICTORIA'S SECRET MODEL: When I was a young girl, I wanted to be president, and I told every single person I knew that I wanted to be president. And eventually I met someone that knew Bill Clinton, because he was president when I was a kid, so I met him and asked him how to become president? And he said meet as many different types of people as you can and stay in school.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Stay in school.

BERMAN: We met her the other day. She is extraordinarily interesting and smart. She talks a lot about beauty privilege, and talks about how being good-looking can get you ahead and how it's not fair in all cases, obviously. And she's really a very, very interesting person.

ROMANS: And her advice is to meet a lot of different people and learn from them.

SAMBOLIN: That's good advice across the globe.

ROMANS: Totally, whether you're beautiful or not. BERMAN: And she's from Boston and a Celtics fan, which means -

(LAUGHTER)

SAMBOLIN: That makes her perfect?

BERMAN: That's all for EARLY START, everyone. I'm John Berman.

SAMBOLIN: I'm Zoraida Sambolin. "STARTING POINT" with Soledad O'Brien starts right now.