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At This Hour

2 Dead, 1 Hurt In Oregon Grocery Store Shooting; CDC Vaccine Advisers Weigh New Omicron-Specific Booster Shots; Serena Williams To Play Tonight A Start Of U.S. Open. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired August 29, 2022 - 11:30   ET




ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: At least two people are dead, one hurt following a shooting inside a grocery store in Oregon overnight. Police say the gunman is also dead. CNN's Brynn Gingras is joining me now. So this is just one sadly of a number of shootings over the weekend, which has been all too common for a Monday morning. We talk about all of those shootings.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Way too familiar. Yes, I mean, a police chief even said, when will it be enough? I think that's a question we're all asking all the time too.

Again, ongoing investigations in several cities for shootings, New York, Houston, Detroit, just a weekend of gun violence, and let's go back to Ben where that horrific scene took place. Two people were killed. One employee said that they were closing up the deli department. They're ready to go home when they had to run for their lives.


ROBERT, SAFEWAY EMPLOYEE: It was loud enough to make me and three other employees run into a walk-in refrigerator and close the door, and stayed there. We stayed hidden until the authorities arrived.

Thank God for such a quick response time from our brave men and women of law enforcement. When we went outside, we saw one injured shopper, and then we just kept on going out in the parking lot.


GINGRAS: Yes. Well, one witness even said they heard rapid gunfire because he guessed that the gunman was armed with an assault rifle moved through that store. Witnesses estimate fire -- he fired dozens of shots.

Authorities found the gunman's body a shotgun was found near him. Now the motive for the shooting, it's still unclear at this point. The FBI and local law enforcement, they're conducting a search of the shooter's home to hopefully find some of those answers. In New York City, get this, 16 people were shot, five killed in more than a dozen shootings all over the three-day period. One shooting breaking out on the packed Coney Island boardwalk, injuring several people, no suspect is in custody for that incident.

And another shooting and a house of worship, this time happening in Stockton, California at a Sikh temple, three people shot and injured while attending an event. No motive for that crime as well. But again, multiple cities that we've been reporting all morning on where there's been shootings breaking.

HILL: And all too common for. Brynn, I appreciate it. Thank you.


HILL: Turning now to the dangerous flooding in the south. The mayor of Jackson Mississippi urging people to evacuate as the Pearl River is expected to crest near major flood stage. CNN's Nadia Romero is live in Jackson for us this morning with the latest. What are -- what's the situation this morning, Nadia?

NADIA ROMERO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Erica, a lot of people are coming back to this neighborhood. We're on the northeast side of Jackson, Mississippi. This is an area that is just seeing chronic flooding year in and year out.

We've been speaking with neighbors who were bracing for the worst of it. But we think we may be passed that point speaking with the deputy director of the county's Emergency Operations Center, hearing from the mayor's spokesperson, saying that they are cautiously optimistic that the worst may be behind us.

And I want you to take a look at this unofficial marker that we put down on the ground at about nine o'clock this morning. This trashcan lid that floated our way yesterday, this is where the floodwaters were at nine, and you can take a look. See how much they've receded in just those few hours since then.

And you really couldn't walk through this street yesterday. This was all covered with floodwaters. It was dark, it was murky, and people were very concerned about walking or even driving their cars, that has changed, quite a different scene today just from yesterday or the overnight hours.

Take a listen to what one of the long-term residents, Deion, said to me. He's been living in this community for 20 years, and he says this morning he's grateful.



DEION THOMAS, JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI RESIDENT: We are just so grateful our prayers have been answered. As you can see, people are starting to come back to their homes. They didn't have to wait as long as they thought they would. The water is actually receding as we speak now, and it's moving fast

as if it came up. And we are just so glad like I said, our prayers have been answered. We got through this bullet. We really dodged a great bullet this time.


ROMERO: Yes. So you heard Deion there just so joyful that his neighborhood was spared this time around. Erica, we spoke with a man named Sean Miller, (PH) he says during the last major flood in 2020, and cost him about $60,000 with the damages to his home.

15,000 additional dollars he had to pay out of pocket because he was paying mortgage and rent while the repairs are going on in his home. Not the case this time around though, Erica.

HILL: Yes. And you can understand why people like the gentleman you just spoke with, Mr. Thomas, are so grateful. Nadia, thank you.

Well, unfortunately, there is more severe weather that we are keeping a close watch on, the National Hurricane Center now monitoring several tropical disturbances in the Atlantic.

Forecasters believe there's a high chance one of those will form into a tropical depression. CNN meteorologist Chad Myers is joining me now. Chad, it's been a pretty slow start to hurricane season.


HILL: Although I know NOAA says hey, we're still expecting big things, it could actually change this week.

MYERS: Oh, absolutely. We haven't even made it through halfway. We're about 35 to 40 percent through what we would consider the main area of convection, the areas of thunderstorm activity across the Atlantic, but the waters are still technically very, very warm out there.

The big area you see here, the red jelly bean, there's an 80 percent chance of that growing into something likely with a name really, as we work our way into the weekend. These are five days out. These aren't immediate storms. They're just trying to get their act together. The water is one or two degrees above normal.

Watch the storm here. There it is. This is the European model trying to take it to the United States. I don't want to go any farther than this because I hate when people do that and say oh, look at the 10-day forecast. That doesn't work. Don't even worry about it.

What happens, at least so far, is the storm turns to the right and away. Both of the models are doing that and I realize how long-term this is out. But we just want to show you what's going on. If it gets a name, it'll be Danielle.

It will be the fourth name. There is the peak. We're only about 10 days away from the peak. That's the good news because that's the big long slide we're waiting for. HILL: Yes, all right. Well, we'll watch it. I won't look too far out though, Chad. I promise. Chad Myers, thank you.

MYERS: No, please. Not more than five days.

HILL: OK, it's a deal. Thanks, Chad.

MYERS: Thanks.

HILL: Coming up here, the U.S. government is ending its free at-home COVID test this week. That program made them a new decision looming for booster shots. Let's catch up on the latest on the pandemic next but first, you know playtime isn't just for children. Dr. Sanjay Gupta explains why it's critical for adults too in today's "CHASING LIFE."


SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta, host of CNN's "CHASING LIFE" podcast. You know, play is an essential part of a child's daily routine. But as we get older, the act of playing becomes less of a priority. Life gets busy and making time to play can feel like a waste of time. But it turns out that play is just as important for adults as it is for children.

Dr. Stuart Brown says our play nature is deeply embedded in us, even possibly preserved in our brain. So it's only natural that we tap into this instinct. And that can be done in different ways, whether it's physical play, like running, social play, like joking around with friends, or object play, like building something new. The goal is unfettered joy.

And believe it or not, you can even play when you're at work or even exercising. Brown likes to call it a playout instead of a workout. I like that. Figure out what kind of play works for you and make it part of your routine.

You can hear more about how to optimize your health and chase life wherever you get your podcasts.




HILL: It is an important week in the battle against Coronavirus, vaccine advisors for the CDC set to meet Thursday to discuss whether to recommend new Omicron-specific booster shots before human trials are completed. On Friday, the U.S. government will end its program of mailing you free at-home COVID tests.

Joining me to discuss, Dr. Peter Hotez. He's the dean of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. Dr. Hotez, always good to see you. Let's start on these boosters if we could. So the fact that they could be authorized without clinical trial data from humans, is that concerning to you? [11:45:00]

DR. PETER HOTEZ, PROFESSOR AND DEAN OF TROPICAL MEDICINE AT BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: Well, it's a bit surprising. I think they're basing it on what happened -- what we do with influenza vaccines, which is we have a lot of experience with the technology.

And so each new flu strain, each new flu vaccine is tailor-made to the variants that are around at that time and thinking that we have enough experience over decades to administer it on a yearly basis without doing additional human testing. I understand that.

My issue with mRNA vaccines is still relatively new when we don't nearly have that wealth of experience. So I agree, we absolutely need boosters, adults over the age of 50 will eventually be third boosters, meaning fifth immunizations, those under the age of 50 will need second immunizations for -- as boosters.

The question is whether we move forward with the original lineage or pair those two together, and that will be under discussion at the ACIP meeting at the CDC.

HILL: Yes, and Dr. Paul Offit, who is, you know, quite well as on the FDA's Advisory Committee expressed concerns about even using that flu shot comparison. When we look at this, though -- two-part question for you. Number one, based on what you know, so far, does it appear that this booster which is specifically targeting Omicron is going to be effective?

HOTEZ: Well, that's the big question, right? And likely, yes, but you'd certainly like to have some human data, something beyond mouse data to justify that.

HILL: Yes.

HOTEZ: So the thing is, BA.5 is starting to go down now. And I think the thinking from the FDA is that if we're going immunized against BA.5, now's the time to do it. Also, as we move later into the fall, if we have a new variant of concern, it might look more like BA.5 than it does the original lineages. But there are still a lot of question marks about that.

HILL: Are you concerned at all, that the knowledge that this booster you know could be given the green light without that human clinical trial data? Are you concerned at all about how that could feed and fuel vaccine skeptics?

HOTEZ: Yes, that's the big worry. I mean, for myself, I'll likely -- I will take it because I know about this technology, I have an intellectual curiosity about it. But, you know, the fact that Americans are not accepting boosters in general, only 30 percent got the first booster, only 30 percent of those over the age of 50 got the second booster, it's not like people are knocking down the door to get it.

And so there's a lot of advocacy that needs to be done. And it's not going to be easy to sell this to the American people. So having some human -- additional human clinical trial data, I think would have helped. As I said, I'll take it. I have a comfort level, but I may be the exception.

HILL: Yes. When we -- when we look at too what else is changing here? The federal government has said it's ending this -- you can sign up online, and they will mail you the at-home tests for free on Friday because federal funding is running out as we know.

Do we have a sense of how much testing is still being done at home because those are results that don't have to be reported? They don't necessarily figure into the case counts that we see right now. Is it your sense of people are still using those tests?

HOTEZ: Anecdotally, yes. I think certainly among -- my friends and colleagues, absolutely, it's the case. Look, this is not the time to take the foot off the gas pedal. We're still losing four to 500 Americans a day.

COVID-19 is still the third or fourth leading killer of Americans. And we're heading into later in the fall, and we might be experiencing another new wave. And so I think, you know, Congress is getting weary. Everyone's getting weary. But the truth is this third year of the pandemic in the United States has been an awful one and we're still not even close to being done with it.

HILL: Yes, unfortunately. Dr. Peter Hotez, always good to have you here, thank you.

HOTEZ: Thank you.

HILL: Just ahead here, all eyes on Serena Williams tonight as she makes her return to the U.S. Open. Could it be her last match? I am hoping it is not, Serena, but we'll discuss it next.



HILL: 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams is set to play tonight, opening day of the U.S. Open in New York. This could be the final tournament in her remarkable tennis career. CNN's Carolyn Manno joining me now. So Serena has said, Carolyn, she wants to -- she's evolving away from tennis after the Open this year, there is so much focus on this match tonight.

CAROLYN MANNO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: There is. It's the most highly anticipated first-round match we've ever seen at the U.S. Open, and there's a little bit of recency bias, but it just feels so enormous.

So if it feels enormous for us, you can imagine what it feels like for her. And even though she knows what it's like to be here, she's managed a Grand Slam before, she has a resume that's incredible, but it doesn't mean that she is not immune to the emotional aspect of this. And so for her, it's going to be managing the moment versus the match,

trying to compartmentalize, trying to separate the two but this is going to feel like a finals tonight.

I mean, the stars are going to be there, the crowd is going to be sold out and they are going to be wheeling her to victory. And I wouldn't be surprised if you hear things like we still love you, Serena, don't leave us, Serena, you know, hopefully not in a point or in between a point.

But the crowd does that for her. They go crazy for her. And so they're hoping that that will be an equalizer at least in some degree for her opponent as well because you don't -- you don't want to play your final match and kind of have all that pressure but you also don't want to be the person that's playing Serena Williams in her final match either.

HILL: No, we've got what we don't. That's --

MANNO: That's a tough --

HILL: It has -- it has a place to be -- I mean you're --

MANNO: That's tough sledding.

HILL: They're both in a tough position. She's not -- we should point out because her singles match tonight, but she is playing doubles as well.

MANNO: She is, her and her sister Venus Williams. And there's really beautiful poetry in this, hopefully, if they can make a really deep run. And remember Coco Gauff is now the top rings -- doubles player in the world too.

And so if there is a storybook ending here where she could meet Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula alongside her sister, that would be the perfect ending to two women who came into the sport and fundamentally changed the sport and then have a reflection of their legacy on the other side of the court at the end of her career, I think would just be really wonderful.


I mean, those two, you cannot quantify and I'll put Venus with Serena together, the impact that they have had on this sport and beyond, it is truly remarkable and she deserves all that's going to come her way tonight.

HILL: She really does. I mean, talk about the code. There you go.

MANNO: There you go.

HILL: Right there.

MANNO: Oh, yes.

HILL: And just because she may be moving away from tennis as we know, she has not done.

MANNO: She'll be around.

HILL: Serena Williams is a busy lady, so there will be much more to come.

MANNO: Sure, there will.

HILL: Carolyn Manno, this starts your favorite two weeks of reporting I think so. There you go, my friend. Thank you.

Thanks so much for joining us today. Stay tuned. "INSIDE POLITICS" with John King starts after this short break.