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CDC: Fully Vaccinated People "No Longer Need To Wear A Mask Or Physically Distance In Any Setting"; Gaetz Ally To Plead Guilty And Cooperate With Prosecutors; Sources: Colonial Pipeline Paid Ransom To Hackers. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired May 13, 2021 - 21:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: The situation should be resolved in plenty of time for the expected Memorial Day surge.

That's it for us. The news continues. Want to hand it over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME."

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: All right, Coop, appreciate you.

Big day! Big night! I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to PRIME TIME.

The biggest step toward normal, since this Pandemic started, was taken today. The CDC freed the fully vaccinated from wearing masks.

Masks have been recommended since April 3rd of 2020, but no more, for almost anywhere, a fully vaccinated person wants to go, alone or with others, whether the others are vaccinated or not.

Just imagine the simple ability to share a smile, to walk down the street with a cigar in your mouth, as I did today, to not rush to cover, when you see someone outside, to just be normal.

Not that masks were like wearing a suit of armor. Let's be - let's be clear. People overhyped it for too long anyway, made it too much of a burden. But it does show when we do the right thing, we make progress.

There are some caveats. There are rules, depending on buses and planes. But the biggest caveat is that this change only applies to the vaccinated, the fully vaccinated.

So tonight, let's smile mask-free at the headline, and then dive into the unanswered questions. Top of the list, what does, no masks for the vaccinated, mean, for the unvaccinated? Well, it means they have to wear masks still. Who's going to know?

What about those who have kids in their homes who haven't had the shot? What do they do? What do the kids do?

What will it mean for schools, for businesses? How do businesses, to the original point, of who's going to know, how do they police this, if there's no passport system, and the federal government says they are reluctant to have a databank? But before we get into the micro issues, and we will tonight, with someone who used to run the CDC, there is a macro issue.

There is a curse that comes with this blessing, because isn't how this happened another example of the political game being played, that we have to expose, and do better than?

Just last night, I was chasing the CDC Director about making this exact change. Listen.


CUOMO: "You're playing it too safe." That is the criticism.

DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: We have the clinical trials. We need to make sure that it's working outside the context of those clinical trials.

And importantly, we need to make sure that they work against our variants.

I'm really looking forward to updating our guidance very soon.

CUOMO: Let's do it right now on this show.

What data do you have that suggests you need to go slow, before you let people completely unmask, and live their lives, if they've gotten the vaccine?

WALENSKY: Well, we know that data are emerging have been emerging with regard to the variants.

We do want to make sure that those data are going to be out and demonstrate that our vaccines will work. And I'm looking forward to updating our guidance very soon.


CUOMO: Doctor was saying that, I was looking down because I had the list of the studies here, and I said "I don't even - I don't even know what she's waiting on."

And why didn't the CDC Director just say it last night? I don't care about if it's said on my show. We're not - don't come on the show at all. But say it to the American people.

They didn't know that they were going to change it, just a few hours later. Did they really burn the midnight oil last night? Or is this just about politics? We know it's not about the science. The science was there for some time.

Now, you're going to hear some say "This is too much at once, this rule change, this recommendation. And that's all it is. Everybody's going to have to figure out for themselves on the state, local and private levels. And that it's going to disincentivize people, this move," listen to this, "because now they can just unmask anyway." Well, people could always cheat. And the CDC Head said this wasn't done to get people to get the vaccine. Why not? All of these just reeks of the game to me. And I want you to be aware of the game, so that you can ignore it and move to what matters.

They've known for months that the vaccine works, too much too soon, the country's splitting at the seams. The CDC didn't mean this to incentivize, why not?

Look, I don't get bribing people to get the vaccine. And this million- dollar deal that's going on in Ohio, to get the vaccine, to get people to get vaccinated, is odd to justify to all those taxpayers.

But if you choose to get the vaccine, why don't you get the preference that the science suggests? I've been saying this for months.

So, this is good because it is about the science. I still don't understand why they played so safe for so long. And this is not damned if you do, damned if you don't. It's damned because you didn't until now.

Did the hesitancy fuel vaccine hesitancy? The move may get more people to get the vaccine now, but did the delay jeopardize the reality of reaching herd immunity? However, on a night like this, it is important to balance the plus and the minus, and this is indeed a milestone.


Think about what a difference five months has made. That was when we did the first vaccine, remember, to the frontline critical care nurse, Sandra Lindsay, here in New York, five months ago, tomorrow. Remember all the ifs and buts?

Now, more than 118 million people in this country are among the fully vaccinated, 34 percent of the population, about half what we need to get to herd immunity. That's a little scary, right? Half?

Look, we're doing better. But that's why you still see the cases in the 40s of thousands. So, there is still a way to go for this country. We still have a way to go to go for herd immunity. The question becomes, how do you see it?

Well, we've come a long way, from the days when we were told by our last president that this was all going to go away magically. The White House has now lifted its mask mandate for vaccinated staffers.

President Biden walked out maskless to announce the good news.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you're fully vaccinated, and can take your mask off, you've earned the right to do something that Americans are known for, all around the world, greeting others with a smile - with a smile. So, it's a good day for the country.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CUOMO: That is true. Now, how good? What does this mean? And what does it not mean? Let's bring in a better mind. Former CDC Acting Director, Dr. Richard Besser.

Good to see you, Doc.


CUOMO: So, help me understand. You know the politics and the policy. I'm chasing around with Dr. Walensky last night about this. And she's like, "Well, we got to make sure, we got to make sure, we got to make," and then it comes out this morning? That's just politics, isn't?

BESSER: I don't think it's politics. I think it's when was she allowed to release the information that she had.

CUOMO: By who?

BESSER: I think you've framed this in the right way. This is huge.

CUOMO: Wait, hold on a second. Hold on a second.


CUOMO: Hold on. Because I'm going to get you on this one. And then we're going to get into what really matters.


CUOMO: But she wasn't allowed to release by who? By politicians. They were just making a play on this.

And I'm saying - I don't care that she said it or not on this show. That's not the point. The point is, there is a legitimate criticism, Doc, that they've known things, and not told people, when they knew, almost like an over-parenting of the American people.

You knew about surfaces not being as big a deal. You didn't tell us. You knew about aerosolization being the main way of cooperating this and communicating it. You didn't say it right away. You knew that outdoor was more likely, like 1 percent than 10 percent, and you didn't say it right away.

That's what I'm talking about. Can you justify those delays?

BESSER: Here, Chris, when you're releasing something like this, which is a dramatic shift, you frame that right. This marks a turning point in terms of the Pandemic response in the United States, not globally, but in the United States.

I was really glad to see that she presented the data that informed that decision, because it needs to be driven by the data, and the data was strong. We're seeing steady declines in every state in the Union. We're seeing hospitalizations declining, deaths declining. We're

seeing more studies that show that these vaccines work, not just in the trials, but in real life, that in countries that are using vaccines, you're seeing declines. And there's increasing data that people who are vaccinated are not very likely to spread it to other people.

And so, I liked that she laid out the reasoning behind such a big decision. And we - even with that big decision, you're hearing a lot of people today, some are saying "It was way too slow." And some are saying "Whoa, why are you moving so fast?" I think this is the right time to make this call.

CUOMO: But remember, we're in a climate, where the negativity is a proxy for insight. So she's going to get criticized because that's what they're going to do the Biden Administration. And frankly, they made themselves vulnerable to the Right, questioning what they do, by being exposed for having been slow about it.

But my point is this. You say this now. Great. But do you think not saying it sooner risked not getting us to herd immunity?

BESSER: Well, I don't talk about herd immunity. I don't think herd immunity is something achievable.

What I like to talk about is that every single person, who gets vaccinated, gets us closer. They help reduce the transmission in community. They help protect themselves, their families, those around them.

The idea that there's this magic number that we get to, I think is the wrong way to think about it, because people tend to live around people they agree with, or people who have similar beliefs. And so, even if you hit a magical number of 70 percent. You're going to have communities that are 50 percent.

CUOMO: Right.

BESSER: And with that, you're going to be able to see places where it continues to transmit.

And I worry that saying, it's 70 percent or nothing can dissuade people from getting that shot, which actually can make a difference to those around them.

CUOMO: I agree. What do you think about the enforcement model here? With masks, it was "I'm not going to wear a mask." But you knew if somebody was wearing it or not because you have eyes? The - this is sneaky. You don't know. I don't have a mask on.



CUOMO: I say to you, I'm fully vaccinated. Federal government doesn't want to do a bank. State by state, they're kind of doing it. You have the Excelsior Pass in New York. How do you enforce something like this?

BESSER: Well, you don't. And what - the big takeaway here is that if you are fully vaccinated, your risk of having serious disease is really, really low. The data out of Cleveland Clinic, 99.3 percent of people admitted to the hospital there since January--

CUOMO: Doctor, people say, "But the Yankees! But the Yankees!"

BESSER: Yes, so let's--

CUOMO: Is it just the J&J vaccine?

BESSER: --let's talk.

CUOMO: Go ahead.

BESSER: Yes. But when you look at the Yankees, the critical piece about the Yankees is they weren't sick. And when you look at the amount of virus that the players had, who tested positive, it was really, really low.

And so, what you're going to find is that, yes, some people will test positive, they'll get infected, who've been vaccinated, but we're seeing that they're not likely to transmit to others.

And that's the critical piece there, not the fact that some people who get vaccinated will be infected. So, it supports, I think, the idea that if you're fully vaccinated, you're in really good shape.

The enforcement piece, though, is it's not enforceable.

CUOMO: Right.

BESSER: And what it says is "If you decide not to get vaccinated, the risk is primarily on you." No--

CUOMO: Right.

BESSER: We can talk about kids, because that's the one area where that breaks down. But the risk is primarily on those people who decide, "Hey, I'm not going to get vaccinated."


BESSER: And - and - yes?

CUOMO: Go ahead. I just - first of all, for the audience, eight New York Yankees tested positive for Coronavirus after getting the J&J vaccine.

But just so you know, 78 percent of the people, who got the J&J vaccine, within the Yankees organization, players, et cetera, 78 percent did not test positive after the vaccine. The vaccine's efficacy is 72 percent. So, they're still ahead of the curve.

Doc, as a pediatrician, would you advise your families to give the vaccine to their kids, 18 and under?

BESSER: Yes, I would recommend not 18 and under, 12, and up, because that's the group that has been--

CUOMO: Right. 12 to 18, yes.

BESSER: --been authorized for it. Yes, I definitely would. And I would because, that's a group where the older children get, the increased - the risk increases in terms of severity.

Although very few children have died from this, it's in the hundreds, that's far too many. And I worry about the long-term consequences. There have been thousands of kids, who've had this this unusual multi- inflammatory syndrome.

As a parent, the idea that you could get your kids vaccinated, and then not have to worry about them, this summer, I think is huge. And the idea that kids could go to high school, this fall, and it could be a normal high school year, is absolutely incredible. So, I recommend it. I recommend it for my patients.

It's children younger than that, where the rules still apply. Kids, younger than 12, should be wearing masks. They should be social distancing, when they're - when they're around people when they're indoors.

Those things still apply until there's vaccines for that age. And it's another reason why adults should get vaccinated to help protect those kids.

CUOMO: Dr. Besser, appreciate you. Good to see you. Thank you, especially on this, a big night, a milestone indeed.


BESSER: Good to see you, Chris.

CUOMO: Absolutely, always.

What does this news today mean in the context of history? How times are changing, and what this means for not just the Pandemic, but our approach to other problems? A better mind, this is a brilliant mind, next.









CUOMO: The face mask, it's been so many things in this Pandemic.

A game-changer in stopping the spread, a constant visual reminder of a virus, in our midst, a symbol used, by both Left and Right, to reflect political differences rather than what we, the reasonable, see it as, highlighting that we're all the same, we all get sick, and what one of us does, affects the others.

We are all in it together. Trite but true.

So, a milestone, let's get some perspective on what this means from Thomas Friedman, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for "The New York Times," Author of "From Beirut to Jerusalem."

Good to see you, brother.


CUOMO: What does this mean to you?

FRIEDMAN: Well, Chris, when I and my wife got vaccinated, I was personally relieved, but didn't feel it was really the end of anything. I felt personally more secure.

In hearing that announcement, from the CDC, this afternoon, I felt that we were finally at the beginning of the end of this. I felt that there's going to be a real return to normalcy for me, and my family, my friends, society.

And most of all, you know what I thought about Chris? And you alluded to it in your introduction.

We've just been through a crazy two years, I mean, crazy at so many levels, because of the past president, and the divisions in the society. I don't know what factor was politics, and Trump, and what factor was the Pandemic, and the fact that we all had to go around with our faces covered.

But I am hopeful that with people taking their masks off, we can talk to each other, in different ways, look each other in the eye, see each other smile, a wry grin, whatever, that that that too will reduce the temperature in the country, the political temperature. So, that's kind of my hope.

But I do - I do think this is the beginning of the end. It's not the end for all the reasons that your previous guest said. But today's a really good day.

And you know what else it's a good day for, Chris? It's a good day for science. What we've learned, it's so remarkable how good these vaccines really are. And I think it's an amazing day for science as well. [21:20:00]

CUOMO: Now, look, we got a long way to go. But the mask was a little bit of a portent for us to see where one party was headed, right? The irrationality, the investing in a lie, about the mask, was really the precursor to where we're seeing the GOP right now.

You wrote, in your latest Op-Ed, "If House Republicans follow through on their plan to replace Cheney," which of course they did, by a voice vote, "it will not constitute the end of American democracy as we've known it, but there is a real possibility we'll look back on May 12th, 2021, as the beginning of the end, unless enough principled Republicans can be persuaded to engineer an immediate, radical course correction in their party."

The problem against the premise is the reality that they are moving more in that direction, as they continue down the path of attrition. They are going for White fright. And the momentum is in the direction they're headed, not in any other direction, Tom.

FRIEDMAN: Yes, there's no question, Chris. I was thinking in preparing for our conversation that the midterm elections this year, 2022, I mean, next year, 2022, they are going to be hugely important, for this reason.

The Republicans go into these midterms, with so many advantages. After the last census, through gerrymandering, they're automatically going to get a few more seats. And historically, midterms tend to work against the incumbent party. So, they've got a lot of advantages.

What we're going to see, in these midterms, as this party that has now made it a prerequisite, to be a leader in this party, and to be a candidate endorsed by the leader of this party, that you have to embrace the "Big lie." We're going to see if they actually suffer in the midterms for that.

If they do come out of these midterms, not holding the House, not winning the House back, not winning the Senate back, I think that would be one of the most, healthy things that can possibly happen to our country now, because that then Chris will force that party to confront their Trump problem.

CUOMO: Maybe.

FRIEDMAN: I think the interesting political question, because they're going to want to survive, and if they lose the midterms, the idea they're going to go into 2024, backing him, well, that would be political suicide.

And so, I think this is a really important election. And I think that's going to be really interesting, we see these lists of principal Republicans, who've said, they're not going to support Trump. We've seen what Liz Cheney has done.

If only 3 percent to 5 percent of Republicans decide that they're not going to sign on to this, we could have a very different midterm. If we have a very different midterm, I think, there's a chance that we're going to get some decent, stable governance.

If the House Republicans, given what they have come to embrace, win the House, the last two years of the Biden Administration, they're going to be crazy.

These people, when Trump was in power, they at least had some incentive not to blow the whole government up. If Trump is not in power, their incentive is going to be to completely derail Biden. And if that happens, I mean, we just have no time to lose. And that will be a disaster for the country.

CUOMO: Well, look, I mean, Mitch McConnell told you that that's where they're headed right now. Their position is opposition.

Here's my question for you. How do you get ahead of the determinative issue of the midterms, which we know right now, which is election security? They're going to say that any race that doesn't go their way is rigged.

What should the media do, what should the system do, to prepare for that, in advance, because it's going to happen?

FRIEDMAN: Well, the scary thing, Chris, and I wrote about this, in that column you referred to, is that people have been focused on the election security laws that some of these states have passed, like Georgia. "Oh, you can't give someone in line a glass of water." That's actually a red herring.

The really dangerous thing that is going on right now is a mugging of democracy in broad daylight, is the measures that Georgia and other states have taken to actually change who gets to count votes and who gets to certify votes.

And if you look at the studies that have been done, and I quoted one, at the measures they have put in, if these measures had existed in 2020, it's very possible that Trump would have stolen this election.

So, the answer to your question is, we have to be enormously vigilant about these things. We have to oppose them.

But at the same time, my hope, Chris, is that there's a lot of voters, particularly the kind of Black and Brown voters that the Republicans are trying to disadvantage by these laws, who are basically going to say, to them, "You're talking to me? You're talking to me? You don't want me to vote? Well, I'm going to get up at 6 A.M., and I going to wear a water pack on my back, if I need to, but I am going to vote."

And I think they really better be careful because they are just sticking a finger in a lot of people's eye. And their reaction's, "You don't want me to vote? Oh, you are now going to see me vote, my grandpa vote, my grandmother vote. I am going to drive anyone I can to the polls."

I think you're going to see a lot of that reaction, "You are not going to steal this election."


CUOMO: In the interest of this being a positive night, give me that De Niro impression one more time. Give me that "You're talking to me?" one more time.

FRIEDMAN: You, talking to me?

CUOMO: Ooh, that's good. That's good. That's - got the hair on the back of my neck, all three of them.

Tom, take care. Thank you very much.

FRIEDMAN: Take care, Chris. Thanks.

CUOMO: Tom Friedman, ladies and gentlemen.

FRIEDMAN: Pleasure.

CUOMO: Developments on the Matt Gaetz front. Remember, we told you his friend had to be cooperating with the Feds. This was not about inside information or even great reporting. It's how the system works.

Joel Greenberg, who is also under criminal indictment, is going to plead guilty, in days, because that's what you do, if you want a plea deal. There are other things that had to happen for us to reach this moment, and ask the question, what does it mean for Matt Gaetz?

And we know them all. So, answers ahead, from a former FBI big-shot, next.









CUOMO: All right, we have developments tonight in two big MAGA world criminal investigations.

You have new court filings that tell us that Congressman Matt Gaetz's so-called wingman, and indicted sex trafficker, Joel Greenberg, is going to plead guilty, Monday.

"Ah!" No, not so much. But you have to understand why the fact that it's not a surprise doesn't make it very important. And I'll explain why. The Wall Street Journal has reporting on the Feds turning up the pressure on long-time Trump money-man, Allen Weisselberg.

Now that is a little bit more of a "Ah!" because it has been an open question, as to whether or not they thought they could pressure Weisselberg, who is the CFO, OK, the Chief Financial Officer, not just for Trump, but for his father.

So, he has such profound understanding of where money went, and why that if they really believe they can get on him, that is a key man for any reckoning of anything they want against the former president.

We've spoken with key players on both of these situations on this show. Let's unpack where we stand with Asha Rangappa.

It's good to see you. Let's start with Gaetz. This is about Gaetz's friends and the women. If the women speak, and say, "I was underage," he's doomed. If they speak, and say, "I was paid to go and do things," he's got trouble.

This guy, Greenberg, checks the friend box, and knows the girls. Him pleading guilty is what we have to see for him to get a plea deal, right?

ASHA RANGAPPA, CNN LEGAL & NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT, LECTURER, YALE UNIVERSITY: Yes. So, if they're giving him a plea deal, he is likely giving cooperation and giving information. And here are the pros and cons, Chris.

Greenberg has kind of the - he's the storyteller here, like if there are financial transactions that investigators have, for example, a payment that's intended for tuition, or salad, Greenberg is the one who can say, "Yes, this is what we meant by that."

CUOMO: He's one of the ones.

RANGAPPA: If there are travel records--

CUOMO: He's one of the ones.

RANGAPPA: He's one of the ones.

CUOMO: With his Venmo transactions--

RANGAPPA: He's one of--

CUOMO: --he can say it. But there are other guys and other transactions.

RANGAPPA: He can narrate this (ph).

CUOMO: Right.

RANGAPPA: This is where we went. This is what we did. The problem with Greenberg is that he's facing a 33-count indictment.

CUOMO: Right.

RANGAPPA: One of the counts of which is for falsely accusing someone of engaging in pedophilia. So, he's not the most credible witness. And so, they need other people. And this is where getting either, victims, people, other people who are present, Matt Gaetz's ex-girlfriend to corroborate that information is really important.

I'll also point out here, Chris, that there is another piece of evidence, where Greenberg had written a letter to Roger Stone.

CUOMO: Right.

RANGAPPA: "The Daily Beast" reported that, where he was trying to angle for a pardon, and he kind of--

CUOMO: Right.

RANGAPPA: --confesses to these activities before he's cooperating with federal prosecutors.

CUOMO: Right.

RANGAPPA: In many ways, this is kind of against his interest, and kind of lends more credibility to this implication that Matt Gaetz was involved with this activity.

CUOMO: Right. And look, Greenberg's not credible, but documents are. And if he can direct them to what other kinds of transactions other people had, with Gaetz and women, that's only as good as the proof that they can get, but it's a hell of a direction.

I just want people to understand he's pleading guilty, not because he's changing his mind. It's because he had to, to get the deal. And he'd only get the deal, if he had already been cooperating.

And in the Middle District, where this is happening, in Florida, cooperation, going forward, is mandatory. So, he is definitely going to keep helping them. The only question is how.

All right, now the other one that is much more intriguing, if they get Weisselberg - now, a judge won't grant a subpoena to get a witness to flip, right? So who does - so why does who pays for school matter?

RANGAPPA: So, what prosecutors are looking at is whether The Trump Organization was paying the tuition for Weisselberg's grandchildren, and whether that would have been - had to have been declared as income on taxes. And if it wasn't, then there might be some tax implications.

CUOMO: It has to be income--

RANGAPPA: I know that tax--

CUOMO: --it has to be income for them, or booked as a gift by Trump.

RANGAPPA: Right. And so--

CUOMO: Somebody had to book it.

RANGAPPA: So, yes, it has to be declared. It has to be characterized as something. But the key here is you have potential tax implications.

And what I would say, Chris is that when you have state tax liability, there is also a likelihood that you may have federal tax liability. And once you get the IRS involved, then that also potentially increases the pressure.


Why this is important? Because this can create leverage on Weisselberg. And Weisselberg knows where the bodies are buried, so to speak. So, as you said, he's been intimately involved with Trump's finances.

And the reason that this is really problematic for Trump is that unlike things like obstruction of justice, with the Mueller investigation, for which he has, say, constitutional defenses, Article II defenses, or the incitement issue, which has, you know, he has First Amendment defenses, and these are all federal.

These are potential state charges, and these predate the presidency, and they have a paper trail. So, I think that this is where Trump potentially has the most criminal liability. And the person, who can spill all the beans--

CUOMO: Right.

RANGAPPA: --is Allen Weisselberg.

CUOMO: And to be clear, it's not that they're going to get Trump for paying for these tuitions or whatever. It's going to be that those grandkids--

RANGAPPA: Other things that he can talk about.

CUOMO: Right.


CUOMO: And the grandkids are Weisselberg's grandkids, which means this is his sons.

RANGAPPA: Correct.

CUOMO: And his ex-daughter-in-law, who was married to one of his sons, told us on this show, she thinks that Weisselberg is going to turn on Trump. And when I said, "Why," "The sons have too much liability." Maybe she was talking about exactly this. And she would know. She was the mom.

Asha Rangappa, thank you very much. Appreciate you.

All right, as you heard us talking earlier, with Dr. Besser, eight New York Yankees have tested positive for COVID. "Ah! Vaccine doesn't work!" No. I don't think that's what it tells us. I don't think it's what it tells us.

So, what do we learn from eight Yankees being fully vaccinated? Well, I'll tell you what we learned, right after this.









CUOMO: "The Yankees! The Yankees!" Let's talk about the Yankees, all right? Let's separate the yap from what matters.

We do know this. They can almost fill a starting lineup with the number of players that have had breakthrough cases, which means they were vaccinated, and still got COVID. You have shortstop, Torres - Gleyber Torres is now the eighth member of the organization to test positive, after being fully vaccinated.

So, what does this mean? Well, only one person is showing symptoms. See, and that's the key to being vaccinated, is that you may still get it, but you won't be that sick. And you're certainly not going to get hospitalized the same way, or God forbid, die.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which was what they got, which is the one shot, and the J&J has gotten some dings that I think are unfair. But that's not about this. The overall efficacy of the J&J single-shot is 72 percent in the United States, all right?

Now, with that as context, let's get after it with Dr. Ashish Jha.

It's good to see you.

I see the Yankees as a red herring, and as a false flag to be scared. Why? Because 72 percent is the cumulative efficacy on this, and 78 percent of the people they gave it to, within the squad, have been fine. I mean, isn't that the end of the discussion?

DR. ASHISH JHA, DEAN, BROWN UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Yes. So Chris, first, thanks for having me back.

Look, we're going to see things like this. I agree with you. It's a false flag in the sense that this is not some, like game-changer about how the vaccines work.

We've given these vaccines to tens of millions of people. We're going to see little outbreaks like this. We're going to see breakthrough infections. Nobody has gotten really sick, one person with mild symptoms, seven other people with no symptoms at all.

Imagine what would happen, if those people weren't vaccinated? We would have seen a large outbreak, lots of people getting very sick. So, I see this as a success story too.

CUOMO: The case counts, we are all watching, I wonder if they are all off, because the CDC isn't tracking breakthrough cases. And the only way you'd know is if you got tested and were symptomatic. And most of these breakthrough cases are non-symptomatic.

So, do we even know what the heck we're talking about with this, out of these 9,245 cases at a 95 million? You know what I mean? Like, is that worth anything?

JHA: Yes, well, there are two parts of that question.

First of all, we did in the clinical trials do a lot of testing in people who are vaccinated. And we know from the clinical trials that vaccinations reduces asymptomatic cases by 80 percent to 90 percent. So, we know these vaccines prevent transmission pretty substantially.

The second question is do you even care about that other 10 percent to 20 percent? If somebody gets a little bit of a breakthrough infection, they have very low viral loads, that means they're not sick, they don't have any symptoms, and they can't spread it to others.

You sort of have to ask yourself, "OK, we're going to have a few of those. I don't know how much I care if I've missed some of them."

CUOMO: What do you make of this argument that "Well, now you did it. You told people they can take the masks off? Now everybody's going to take them off, and just say they were vaccinated?"

JHA: Yes, look, CDC is between a rock and a hard place. I actually I agree with the CDC's decision today. They're staying with the science. And the science is that if you're fully vaccinated, you can be indoors.

Now people are saying, "Well, how am I going to know who's fully vaccinated?" You're not, which is why I think we should not be lifting the indoor mask mandate quite yet. I've been asking governors to hold off for another month. That gives everybody who wants to be vaccinated a chance to get vaccinated.

After that, look, people who are unvaccinated don't wear the masks--

CUOMO: Wait a minute. Why are you telling them to hold off for a month when the CDC has said - the CDC just said you can do it now?

JHA: No, no, no, CDC said fully vaccinated people don't have to be masked indoors.

CUOMO: Right.

JHA: What I'm saying is there's still lots of unvaccinated--

CUOMO: Oh, OK, I got you, I got you.

JHA: --that got to be vaccinated.

CUOMO: I got you. I got you. So, just as a general rule.

So, if somebody walks in, and says "No, but I'm vaccinated," you just want them to be patient?

JHA: Yes, I want them to be patient because I want everybody who wants to get a vaccine, I want them to have had a chance to get that vaccine, and be fully vaccinated.

But the truth is you're absolutely right. We're going to end up having unvaccinated people indoors, unmasked, and there's not much we can do to prevent all those people from harming themselves, or harming other unvaccinated people. That's the unfortunate reality of where we are.

CUOMO: I hope you also tell the governors "Have your own state pass. You've got the rolls of who got the vaccine."


We have the Excelsior Pass here. It's not perfect. There's a little bit of a lag time. I think, if they - they catch up with who got it, you have to wait till 14 days until after. But it's a nice tool to have. It's a nice tool to have.

Ashish Jha, thank you very much, Doc. Appreciate you.

JHA: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: President Biden is trying to ease fears on another front, OK? He's got a lot on his plate. People are spooked about gas prices. And they are spooked about how vulnerable the infrastructure is, because of this pipeline attack. And you know what? They are right.

He says panic buying is only going to slow the process of getting things back to normal. He's true. But guess what? We are weak. And this is what we do. Haven't you seen us in the Pandemic? Weak people make for hard times.

So, where has this hit the hardest? Where do gas prices stand now? And what do we see coming, as a result?

Look who's here, the man with the numbers, the Wizard of Odds, next.









CUOMO: New details emerging about the Colonial Pipeline cyber-attack. Sources tell us the company has paid the ransomware group known as "DarkSide." We know the criminal gang, based out of Russia, demanded nearly $5 million in ransom. We don't know how much was paid or when.

But, after a six-day shutdown, we do know that the pipeline is back up. It's going to take time though before things get back to normal. Stations all across the southeast are still facing outages.

New data tells us that panic buying is not the only problem in the crisis. So, what are the other factors? Harry Enten, the Wizard of Odds is here.

What are we seeing in terms of who got hit hardest?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER AND ANALYST: Now, you put up correctly in your opening there, it's the southeast United States. And what's so interesting, it's throughout the South in places that weren't necessarily seeing these fuel shortages, say yesterday, are now seeing them today.

So, Washington, D.C., look at this, 73 percent of gas stations without fuel, North Carolina, 70 percent, South Carolina, 53 percent, Virginia, 50 percent, without fuel, even down in Florida, 29 percent without fuel.

And what we've seen, throughout the last couple of days, is sort of as the news has gotten out, about these shortages, more people are panic buying. And these numbers have been rising in a lot of these different places.

CUOMO: I was looking at GasBuddy. You can't cross-index for income. And I always wonder whether or not this type of distribution of pain is also indexed by socio economics, like if you go into poor areas, I wonder if the stations there stay at the same percentages, or even higher.

Despite officials trying to urge calm, as you just said, panic buying is going. And it's pushing prices, how much?

ENTEN: It's pushing prices to the highest level since 2014.

Look at this, over $3 a gallon. That's up $0.17 from where we were a month ago. A year ago, when we were right in the heart of the Pandemic, right at the beginning, we were under $2. We're even above where we were two years ago, right, at $2.86.

So, what we're seeing is this is a regional story, yes, in terms of where we're seeing the gas shortages, but it's also a national story, in terms of that, that it is spiking the fuel prices, in a lot of different places.

And we're seeing this indication here right now, over $3 a gallon. As I said, we haven't seen it since 2014. It's just part of that national story. The regional story has become national.

CUOMO: You and I talk all the time about how important gas prices are, on a national level, in terms of household economics. Now, I said, in the office, when you were scarfing down my dinner, that well--

ENTEN: It's good.

CUOMO: --this is going to happen. And then it's going to end. And this is a scare, and it's worth it.

You say "No, it's not just a scare. We're going to see this throughout the summer, and not just because of prices." How so?

ENTEN: Yes, to me, this story is so interesting in so far, it intersects with a lot of different things.

Remember, last week, we were talking about people - there was a supply shortage for jobs, right? People weren't necessarily applying to jobs. This applies here too. And it has to do with the people, who actually drive the field of the different stations.

What do we see? Fuel tanker drivers that are parked, because there're no drivers, we're expecting 20 percent to 25 percent of the fuel tankers to be parked because of no drivers. That is significantly higher than we were two years ago, at this point. It's just 10 percent.

So, this is a story that really intercedes with a lot of things. So, even though, look, the pipeline is going to get back up, it's very possible that we could see elevated gas prices, because we're not getting the folks in those trucks to actually drive the fuel to the gas stations.

CUOMO: There may be correlation, but not causation, at the pipeline thing. They just may have a labor shortage. I think we have to go back to that story.

Every person I talked to, and remember, the reach is great, you know? Yes, sure, I live in New York City. But I have a radio show on S XM and, two podcasts now. So, I have a lot of reach--

ENTEN: Congratulations.

CUOMO: --in terms of people coming at me.

ENTEN: We're very proud.

CUOMO: No, that's not what it's about.

What I'm trying to say is I have a lot of people telling me what I don't know. And the point is, they say, to an employer, "I can't get them to work because they're making more money at home." That is becoming the dominant narrative on why people coming back.

And I watched the read there - I read the work at CNN and other places. Do you think that that is becoming the main reason that they can't find service industry labor?

ENTEN: I'm sure it's part of it, right? It has to be at least part of it. But I don't think it tells the entire story, right?

I think the Pandemic, for one thing, has changed a lot of people's minds on what they necessarily want to do for a living. They've stayed at home. They've realized certain things.

CUOMO: But they can't stay at home, if they can't live. And they're getting paid to live. That's why you see states trying to short them on the unemployment. What do you think of that move? And what do you think the reality is about how many are just living fat and happy off the extra vig from the federal government?

ENTEN: Look, it's certainly the case that it's some of it. But it's - look, if you're driving a truck, it's one thing, right? You're pretty isolated.

But if you are going to go back to say, a place in which you're interacting with a lot of people, and you don't know whether or not they're vaccinated, and maybe you haven't gotten a chance to get the vaccine, because you might have to work hard, there's a possibility you might get COVID from there. So, that's one factor. That's certainly a lot.


Another factor that I think we pointed out last week is that I think there are a lot of people, who don't necessarily know the jobs that are available to them, from time to time.

And the, you know, I just think that there are a lot of different factors that are interceding here. Yes, it is possible that folks are staying at home because they're getting that unemployment insurance.

But as we spoke about last week, it's just one of many factors that I think were at play. And I think it's sort of this easy crutch for people to lay upon, just pointing out that, when there are a lot of different factors that are going on.

CUOMO: I mean, saying that, living off the dole, makes people not want to work is not a new trope in politics. And it is often discriminatory, and doesn't get the whole picture.


CUOMO: We'll see here.


CUOMO: Quick, go.

ENTEN: One little thing I'll just point out, also, get the kids back in school, because there are a lot of parents--


ENTEN: --that have to stay home, because they have to take care of the kids. Getting the kids back in school, I think, could really put at ease, at least in terms of the larger picture.

CUOMO: Strong point!

Harry Enten, Wizard of Odds, thank you.

ENTEN: Thanks.

CUOMO: We'll be right back.


CUOMO: All right, that is it for us tonight. We have the big show now, "CNN TONIGHT" with the big star D. Lemon.