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CNN10 2021-09-15

CNN 10

Down The Middle Look At Debate Over Vaccines In The U.S. Workplace; Extinct Animals; Coral Reef Restoration. Aired 4-4:10a ET

Aired September 15, 2021 - 04:00:00 ET


CARL AZUZ, CNN 10 ANCHOR: Hi, I'm Carl Azuz. Welcome to the show. Todays down the middle coverage starts with a controversial facet of the corona virus pandemic. Should American workers be required to be vaccinated? In an effort to pressure more Americans to get one of the country's three available COVID vaccines, U.S. President Joe Biden announced new rules last week.

Among them concerns all businesses that have 100 or more employees, they have to require these workers either to get vaccinated or to be tested for COVID every week. This could apply to 100 million workers or 2/3 of the American workforce according to the president. At hospitals or other medical care facilities that get government healthcare funding, roughly 17 million workers will have to be inoculated. Federal government employees will have to get the vaccine without the option of regular testing, but the new mandate does not apply to members of Congress.

So, representatives, Senators and the people who work for them will not have to get a vaccine. President Biden blames politics and unvaccinated Americans for spreading COVID-19 and threatening the hinder the recovery of the American economy, but critics point to CDC data that shows more than 11,000 Americans have been hospitalized and more than 2,600 have died even though they were already vaccinated.

Many Americans still have concerns about the health effects of the vaccines and because they were developed last year, any long-term effects they may have are unknown. One of America's top infectious disease specialists says, many more vaccine mandates may be necessary to get the corona virus pandemic under control, but there are a lot of questions about whether people can get exemptions to the mandate for medical reasons or religious beliefs, or if they've recovered from the virus and have natural immunity.

The responses from employers have been mixed. Some large companies like Amazon and Walmart support the mandates and hope they'll lower their healthcare costs and reduce the number of sick days their employees need to take. But others are concerned about losing workers who refuse to get the vaccines, at a time when many businesses are struggling with a shortage of workers to begin with.

A number of lawsuits have been filed against companies that require vaccines before the government mandate was announced, and at least 19 Republican governors have spoken out against the Democratic president saying a government mandate will only increase the determination of some people not to get vaccinated. And that workers shouldn't lose their jobs over a personal medical decision. Again, this is just one example of one debate concerning corona virus in America, we expect the subject to be in the news for months to come.

10 Second Trivia. Which of these animals was the last to go extinct? Saber-tooth tiger; Wooly mammoth, Megalodon or Eurasian cave lion.

Scientists believe certain wooly mammoths survived until 4,000 years ago, long after these other animals were thought to have gone extinct.

Can scientists use genetic engineering to bring back the wooly mammoth, and should they? This sounds like something out of "Jurassic Park", but scientists can't directly clone a wooly mammoth. The DNA they've gotten from these animal's remains has deteriorated too much, what they are hoping to do is use genetic engineering to create a hybrid of an elephant and a mammoth that would look just like the extinct animal. A biosciences and genetics company has raised $15 million to do this, and it says it hopes to have calves walking around in four to six years, but there are still a lot of questions about how this would happen.

For one thing, researchers say they'll have to make 50 changes to an elephant's genetic code so it's able to survive in the Arctic. And even then, critics say this won't create a mammoth, just a hairier, fatter elephant. They're also concerned that the possibility of using elephant mothers to carry a genetically engineered baby could be unethical. Supporters hope the project will create a lot of new interest in genetic science. It's just not known whether it will work or what the consequences would be.

Next, we're talking about coral, Carl? No, coral, specifically coral reefs. They cover less than one percent of the ocean floor, but they're home to more than 25 percent of known marine life. Pollution and mining have destroyed much of the coral off the coast of Hong Kong, but a company that makes clay tiles is seeing some success in restoring coral. Creating the tiles takes a lot of energy and produces a lot of carbon dioxide. The costs and challenges of getting the materials may keep them from being a large-scale solution, but there are upsides.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As diving destinations go, Hong Kong might not boast the most spectacular views. But for marine biologist Vriko Yu, these murky waters offer more than initially meets the eye.

VRIKO YU, MARINE BIOLOGIST: It's a lie if anybody tells you coral in Hong Kong are pretty because they're not, but they're always there. In fact, we do have more coral species than the entire Caribbean.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hong Kong's corals are persisting against the odds, surviving centuries of land development, coral mining and pollution. But for more coral to grow, there needs to be stable bedrock, something Hong Kong's degraded ocean floor is lacking Yu says. Working with other scientists and architects from the University of Hong Kong, new developed technology to restore Hong Kong's coral reefs using 3D printing.

YU: We were thinking about what's the best material or what kind of structure would best provide a foundation for corals to grow.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The teams makes the hexagonal tiles out of clay, a material non-toxic to ocean life, while 3D printing allows them to mimic the complex surface structure of corals that are already suited to Hong Kong's environment.

YU: The design of the inaudible (ph) tiles is actually inspired by the brain coral, where they have this inaudible (ph) of patterns and that looks cool but also effective in attracting marine life. So we're now in Coral Beach. This is our experiment site where we deployed about 130 reef tiles.

Inaudible (ph) which is right down there, to see how the corals are performing. What is surprisingly good is that inaudible (ph) all of them survived.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They installed the first tiles in 2020. So far, four times more coral has survived on the clay tiles than on traditionally used structures like concrete blocks, says Yu. But coral doesn't grow overnight, Yu predicts it will take at least three to five years for the reef to mature. In the meantime, Yu and inaudible (ph) Professor David Baker have founded start-up archiREEF to expand the project beyond the university. They're refining the printing technology and studying coral behaviors to prepare for their next installation, where paying companies can adopt a reef tile and follow its progress.

DAVID BAKER, MARINE BIOLOGIST PROFESSOR AND CO-FOUNDER OF ARCHIREEF: We don't want to be a -- a company that is simply fabricating an object that people put in the ocean and walk away from it. We have to engage with our clients across that whole spectrum from consulting to installation and to monitoring and management.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: archREEF isn't the only start-up restoring coral. Coral Vida grows coral fragments on the land-based farm in the Caribbean where the company says it can develop faster than in the ocean and replants them onto degraded reefs. But Baker believes that archiREEF can help re-grow coral in areas where it has entirely disappeared, a situation which is becoming increasingly common.

BAKER: Creating that new hard bottom can help overcome that problem, and kind of reset the clock on these coral communities.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: While the startup will need to overcome challenges before it can implement its technology at scale, including lowering the environmental footprint and cost of producing the tiles. Yu says the demand is there, as people in Hong Kong become increasingly conscious of their impact on the marine environment.

YU: We live by the sea and everything that we do is closely tied into ocean. All the pollutants that we have in our daily life, will potentially end up in the ocean at some point. Restoration's not only what the government should be doing, or academics (ph) or scientists. It's really about everybody.


AZUZ: Fantastic fair food favorites for me. Corn dogs, popcorn and fried oreos, but on the healthier side there are veggies and they're good for the people and the bears that eat them. The giant veggies that farmers grow and compete with at the Alaska State Fair are later brought to the brown bears in a wildlife conservation center. For the animals, it's a chance to gorge themselves and maybe even roll in hundreds of pounds of vegetables.

Some can't "bear" to eat their veggies, others grin and "bear" it or just "bearly" choke them down. But if you've been "berated" for "forbearing" to "bear" your greens, take some "insbearation" from the animals because they "hibern-ate" all of them. D.C. International School. Thank you for watching from Washington, D.C. Our web producer picks the schools we mention from YouTube.com/cnn10, nowhere else. I'm Carl Azuz.