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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Biden Announces New Measures to Ease Supply Chain Crisis; U.S. Will Open Canadian, Mexican Borders to Vaccinated Travelers; TSA: Passengers Bringing Guns to Airports at Unprecedented Levels; UNC Holds "Wellness Day" Amid Suicide Investigations; "Star Trek" Star William Shatner Makes History As Oldest Person in Space. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired October 13, 2021 - 16:00   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: A lot of people are saying it's overdue.


CAMEROTA: I mean, as you were saying, Americans were crossing but we weren't allowing Canadians and Mexicans in. So, obviously, that is big news and has just changed.

BLACKWELL: All right. Thanks for being with us this afternoon.

THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER starts right now.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: It turns out the great toilet paper shortage of 2020 may have been just the beginning.

THE LEAD starts right now.

Moments ago, President Biden announcing new measures to try to keep everyday items on the store shelves as necessities suddenly become scarce and prices skyrocket.

And the surging number of unruly passengers and now the TSA warning that passengers are packing heat more than ever before. CNN talks to the TSA chief about this potentially dangerous combination.

And the real Captain Kirk makes history. Ninety-year-old William Shatner becomes the oldest person in space. He's telling us what it felt like. He's a rocket man.

Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

And we begin today with breaking news in our money lead. President Biden just announced new measures to try to fix a global supply chain crisis. The moves are in partnership, he says, with companies such as Walmart, Target and Home Depot.

It's an effort to relieve backlogs that are threatening holiday shopping season and the nation's economic recovery. Gas, milk, rent, kids' shoes have all seen prices soar over the past year. That's in large part due to the pandemic, as well as not enough workers, as well as a cargo ship bottleneck out in California. But it also has to do with America's high inflation rate right now.

And now, as CNN's Phil Mattingly reports, President Biden is racing to try to address yet another crisis.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, we have some good news. We're going to help speed up the delivery of goods all across America.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Facing mounting disruptions and a very real threat to holiday shopping --

BIDEN: With the holidays coming up, you might be wondering if gifts you plan to buy will arrive on time.

MATTINGLY: -- President Biden rallying the private associate to directly take to widespread supply chain bottlenecks.

BIDEN: If the private sector doesn't step up, we're going to call them out and ask them to act.

MATTINGLY: The port of Los Angeles expanding to 24/7 operations, matching the port of Long Beach. Together accounting for 40 percent of shipping containers entering the U.S. the effort targeting one major impediment even as others trucking to railroads to logistics all remain significant hurdles.

Labor unions committing to provide the workforce. Companies including Walmart, UPS, FedEx and Samsung pledging to expand to 24/7 operations or increase

nighttime efforts.

BIDEN: Today's announcement has the potential to be a game changer. I said potential because all of these goods won't move by themselves.

MATTINGLY: All part of a dash to ease a crunch that's disrupted goods up and down the supply chain around the world. Critical piece of pandemic-driven interconnected economic issues serving as an anvil weighing down Biden's robust goals. Consumer prices jumped more than expected as Americans pay more for meat, eggs, milk, homes, gas and electricity.

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The fact that a lot of these issues are not as simple as a one-sentence explanation, and that different industries have different issues in the supply chains, different issues that are causing some increases in prices.

MATTINGLY: The economy just one of a series of factors ranging from Afghanistan and the delta variant to a legislative agenda stuck in the mud on Capitol Hill, driving down Biden's approval, all reflected in a new CNN poll that shows only a quarter of Americans say they will be better off if Biden's domestic agenda is enacted.


MATTINGLY (on camera): And, Jake, the president focused on one piece of that agenda, the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, saying it would be critical to dealing with supply chains making them more resilient in the long term. The White House officials have been exceedingly cautious about making anything guarantees or predictions related to solutions in the short term. They are keenly aware this is a supply train driven largely by the private sector, very interconnected globally.

As one official told me earlier today, you can't just flip a switch and turn everything back on, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Phil Mattingly at the White House, thanks so much.

Right now, President Biden is trying to specifically solve this problem, hundreds of shipping containers at the two biggest ports in the country, in Los Angeles and Long Beach, California. There aren't enough workers to move the cargo. The cargo brought to port by ships is to then go out in delivery trucks. And then into stores around the country. And then be available to you, the consumer. Since the ships are stuck at port, the Biden administration is trying to expedite the process and break the logjam by pushing unions to work around the clock to unload 3500 extra containers every week.


Biden wants to do this for at least three months.

Let's discuss with CNN's business editor at large Richard Quest, as well as Rana Foroohar, a global business columnist and associate editor at "The Financial Times".

Thanks for joining me.

So, Rana, let me start with you. Biden's goal, 3,500 additional containers processed each week is a total of 42,000 extra over the next three months. Is that going to make enough of a difference?

RANA FOROOHAR, CNN GLOBAL ECONOMIC ANALYST: You know, I think it can make a big difference, but the problems are not going to stop with this one port and one supply chain chokehold. I mean, what we're seeing now is really a result of decades of changes in the global economy. Incredibly interconnected supply chains that crashed during COVID, came roaring back at a pace that nobody could have predicted and now labor shortages.

When you think about the jobs that the administration is going to have a hard time filling, truck drivers, longshoremen, these were jobs we were having trouble filling before the pandemic in part because of changes in the educational system that have been pulling people out of those kinds of jobs and into other areas, digital services, things like that. So this is a very, very complex problem.

And, you know, you are right. You can't flip a switch and just solve it overnight.

TAPPER: Richard, this is not just a U.S. problem. It's a worldwide problem. What are the big issues on the global front?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN ANCHOR, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS: The big issue is that the world has changed. And what we've just been through is an event like the Second World War, if you like. Nothing was the same after as it was before. There were systemic differences.

So, for instance, the U.K. has got a fuel shortage because they don't have -- they have a bad just in time poor storage facilities. Europe has a fuel crisis because of its reliance on Russian gas that's now becoming ever more obvious. Wherever we look in the world at the moment, we are seeing the results of coming out of the pandemic and realizing, as Rana rightly says, all the things we've either pushed off or ignored or couldn't be bothered with.

A good example, you saw the statistic about the number of Americans that have changed jobs. They've decided, I'm not going to stay with that job. I'm going to go somewhere else. Jake, it's dealing with these systemic -- the supply chain will solve itself in a relatively short time, months or whatever. But the bigger systemic issues of labor, of commerce, of how we go about business, they will keep coming to bite us for years to come.

TAPPER: And, Rana, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told CNN this morning that the president's infrastructure package could help with this problem. Take a listen.


PETE BUTTIGIEG, TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: We are relying on supply chains that were built generations ago. It's one of the reasons why this entire year, we have been talking about and working on infrastructure and are eager to see Congress act to get this infrastructure deal through.


TAPPER: Would passing this infrastructure deal help the supply chain issue? Might it further increase inflation?

FOROOHAR: Well, the answer could be both, but in the mid to long term, is it going to help? Absolutely. I mean, one of the reasons we're in this solution is that we outsourced our entire industrial base to Asia. And we're now trying to rebuild it. That requires better roads, better bridges, a new broadband system. I mean, these are things that need to be invested in.

And I would disagree just a tiny bit with Richard and say that I think in the short term we'll get this blip of supply chains but we're in a new world. As he said, this is not globalization of mid-1990s. We're going to be in a permanently decoupled world. I think China will go its own direction. I think the U.S. and Europe may be going in somewhat different directions. It could be a tri-polar world in which more will happen regionally instead of globally. TAPPER: Richard?

QUEST: How many of us, be honest, how many of us were surprised that some of these ports weren't operating 24 hours a day anyway?

TAPPER: Right.

QUEST: I assure you the gulf in China are not working shorter hours and they're related to this. How many of us are surprised this is a three-month agreement? I mean, this is not like we're going to fundamentally change the way this mega port that is essential to the U.S. economy.

And those are the sort of things I can hear some viewers saying, well, it's this, that and the other the reasons. But these are the reasons Buttigieg is talking about. These are the reasons that need to change, the systemic post-pandemic crisis that we're now discovering its shortfalls.

TAPPER: And, Rana, Americans are seeing inflation just about anywhere. Gas, used cars, bacon, beef, eggs, TVs, kids' shoes, on and on. Prices are not going to go down any time soon.

How long is it going to take for inflation to be resolved?

FOROOHAR: So again, this is a short-term issue and a mid to long-term issue.


In the short term, you know, it's going to be months of this. You know, I've got to give the bad news. I don't think that we'll see inflation going down really until the spring or summer at the very least. If we don't get policy decisions right, if we can't pass the infrastructure bill, if we can't renegotiate new trade deals that actually help us to work with partners since China is going its own way then, yeah, we could be in for a stagflation picture in the longer term.

TAPPER: And, Richard, a final thought?

QUEST: Well, on this point, we're at the most dangerous moment here as far as monetary policy is concerned. The IMF warned yesterday to be very, very careful about what's going to happen with inflation.

Jake, if the Fed gets it wrong now and doesn't stop thinking about tightening, never mind tapering and all these technical things. We are talking about at what point do you need to start using monetary policy to start dealing with this inflation? Is it sticky? Is it cyclical? It doesn't matter.

By the time it's a problem, it's too late to do something about it. When the IMF issues this clarion call, we should be listening.

TAPPER: All right. Rana Foroohar, Richard Quest, thanks to both of you. Appreciate it. Coming up next, the number of lives that could have been saved in just one month if those individuals had gotten vaccinated.

Plus, Shatner in space. What the "Star Trek" star told CNN about his historic flight to the edge of space.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our health lead, the United States is dusting off its welcome mat. Starting November, fully vaccinated travels from our neighbors north, Canada, and south, Mexico, will be allowed to freely travel across the northern and southern borders of the United States. Huge and welcome news for sequesters family and cross-border businesses. All thanks to vaccines and declining case numbers, hospitalizations and deaths.

And as Nick Watt reports for us now, new number shows Americans are being pretty compliant when forced to get the shot.


NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After more than 18 months, the land borders with Mexico and Canada will reopen for nonessential travel early November. But just for the fully vaccinated.

BUTTIGIEG: It's important news for our country, for our economy. We're talking about land ports of entry with two of our key trading partners.

WATT: Here in the U.S., five states have now fully vaccinated more than two-thirds of their populations. The thing is, they're all in New England. These 15 states are yet to even reach the halfway mark. In September alone, apparently about 49,000 deaths could have been prevented if more people had gotten vaccinated says one new study.


WATT: Yet more than 66 million eligible Americans still haven't had a shot, trying to influence people who are not vaccinated by suggesting that they have made a wrong decision is unlikely to succeed. States that report hesitate to give new data and a flattering nudge. This is something you could not have known at the time, but that you would want to take into account now as any good decision maker like you would.

Apparently the stick approach is also working.

JEFF ZIENTS, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: Every day, there's stronger evidence that vaccination requirements are working. They are driving up vaccination rates. WATT: COVID-19 is, was and will always be contentious. A survey of

over 300 scientists who have spoken publicly about it found 15 percent received death threats and 22 percent received threats of physical or sexual violence.

Meantime, the big picture --

FAUCI: Still, we are in some aspects in the pandemic phase of the outbreak. However, we are seeing now a decline in acceleration and a turn around of cases.

WATT: And the CDC predicts hospitalizations and deaths will continue to fall over the coming month.


WATT (on camera): And while the battle against this virus goes on, the World Health Organization preparing for the next so-called disease X. It is really a question of when, not if.

Now, the WHO has just formed a new advisory group to investigate the origins of these novel pathogens. First order of business is going to be to try to get closer to the truth of where this virus actually came from -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Nick Watt, thank you so much.

Joining us now to discuss, Dr. Megan Ranney, professor of emergency medicine at Brown University.

Dr. Ranney, how big of a deal is it, the opening of the borders in this timeline of this pandemic?

MEGAN RANNEY, PROFESSOR OF EMERGENCY MEDICINE, BROWN UNIVERSITY: You know, this is something that probably should have happened a couple of months ago. Our international borders have been open for a long time to folks traveling via air. Keeping those land borders closed didn't really make sense from an infection control perspective or the perspective of humanity. We have so many families separated, and we have so much trade that goes across both our northern and southern borders.

If anything, I'm not scared for the United States. I'd be more concerned for Canada. Their vaccination rates are so much better than ours. Our infection rates are so much higher than theirs. I hope they are insisting all of our folks that come in are vaccinated as well as our insisting that their citizens who are coming in have gotten all their vaccines.

TAPPER: We just learned the CDC is developing a new policy they call test to stay where students would not have to stay at home and quarantine if there are new cases at their schools as long as they personally individually test negative. Do you think this is a good idea considering how many children remain unvaccinated?

RANNEY: I actually think this is a great idea. I'm very proud of the state of Massachusetts for initiating the trials that are leading the CDC to consider changing its recommendations.


You know, if you talk to parents, I'm one myself, one of the things that holds parents back from getting their kids tested is the fear of quarantine or isolation for their own kid as well as for the classroom. This test to stay protocol has shown to be effective, accurate and keeps kids in the classroom, which is where they belong. Anything we can do to minimize days of missed school is good. And this allows them to stay in school safely.

TAPPER: The Kaiser Family Foundation says vaccines could have prevented more than 90,000 deaths in the U.S. over the last three months. 90,000. That's during a period when 104,000 people died of COVID. That is a lot of preventable deaths.

RANNEY: You know, isn't it a staggering number to think about 90,000 people whose lives could have been saved. The thing that struck me even more about that Kaiser Foundation report is that COVID-19 was the leading cause of death for middle aged Americans.

A lot of folks have talked about this is a disease of the elderly. It's not. In August and September, we saw this became the first most common cause of death for those 35 to 54-year-olds, all of whom could have been vaccinated and who left behind families, children, jobs and communities. So, if folks take anything away from it, it's that young people are at risk and the vaccines work.

TAPPER: Just imagine if terrorists had killed 90,000 Americans. But this is Americans doing it to ourselves with refusing to get the vaccine and with disinformation. Just absolutely tragic.

According to the officer down memorial page, more than 460 police officers in the U.S. have died from COVID since the start of the pandemic. It's by far the most common cause of duty-related deaths over the last two years.

But despite that, police unions are still pushing back on vaccination requirements.

How do you think police departments should address this?

RANNEY: So I think of this in a couple of different ways. The first is it puts our public at risk. Both because of police officers are sick with COVID and are going out and stopping cars in traffic checks or going to people's houses or arresting suspects. They put the people around them at risk of infection.

But it also puts the public at risk because if our police are sick or understaffed, then we don't have public safety. We don't have the police out there doing their job, which is stopping crime and making sure that laws are enforced. I also think about the fact that COVID is four times more likely to kill a police officer this year than gunfire, right? Imagine if we said that this many police officers had been shot and killed. There would be public uproar. We should be defending the lives of our police officers which includes

helping them to have accurate information about the safety of these vaccines. Now I recognize that unions have specific negotiating requirements, but I would hope that the police unions would stand up for the health and safety of their officers and encourage and perhaps mandate them to get those vaccines.

TAPPER: Quickly, I want to ask you about the FDA today announcing that they are lowering the daily targets for sodium intake from 3,400 milligrams a day to 3,000 for packaged, processed restaurant food. That's still double the, quote, ideal limit the American heart association recommends of 1,500 milligrams.

Why ignore the American Heart Association's recommendation?

RANNEY: I think the bigger question is, is this change from 3,400 to 3,000 milligrams going to change anything? If I'm faced with a plate of fries or hamburger, I'm going to eat it and don't always think about the salt content.

If we've learned anything about public health and preventive medicine, is that we have to change the structure, as well as the psychology. Someone saying I'm only supposed to have 3,000 milligrams is not going to change much. It's about happening food manufacturers to provide food that is less salty. That will have more effect.

TAPPER: All right. Dr. Ranney, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Dramatic uptick in the number of guns caught by TSA. What's going on? Well, we talk to the agency's head.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Welcome back.

In our national lead -- at the same time of an alarming rise in air rage incidents, the Transportation Security Administration says that they are finding guns at a faster rate than ever before at airports, a potentially troubling combination.

CNN's aviation correspondent Pete Muntean just spoke to the head of the TSA.

Pete, what did he have to say?

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, he says it's a huge problem, Jake, because we have already reached the 2019 record with 11 weeks still left in the year. The TSA has found 4,650 guns at airport checkpoints across the country, 3,900 of them are loaded.

The 2019 record, 4,432, the previous record. Guns are not allowed in carry-on bags. As much as a $10,000 fine for a first offense. And TSA Administrator David Pekoske says this is a really serious issue and that passengers need to take this more seriously, too.


DAVID PEKOSKE, TSA ADMINISTRATOR: It's a huge problem. As a passenger, I don't want to have another passenger flying on a flight with me with a gun in their possession.

MUNTEAN: Why do you think the numbers are up?

PEKOSKE: Well, again, I think it does reflect society. I think more people are carrying weapons just generally across the country. And then we see whatever is happening in the country we see reflected in our checkpoint operations.


MUNTEAN: Pekoske underscores the issue of unruly passengers not only on board planes but also at security checkpoints. He says this simply shows that the system works. But remember, there's a patchwork of gun laws, both state and local. The U.S. attorney's office in Pennsylvania is now telling local sheriffs that they should take away concealed carry permits for those who violate these rules at airports.

TAPPER: So, moving forward, holidays are coming up. Obviously travel increases. Also people are starting to feel more comfortable traveling because of the COVID pandemic alleviating in many ways.

How do you see this playing out?

MUNTEAN: Well, we know the numbers are going to be really big when comes to thanksgiving and also for Christmas travel. When it comes to this issue, this is a huge inconvenience for people. When a gun gets caught in an airport security checkpoint, it really slows things down. So this is going to be a lot of long lines. People got used to airports being empty over the pandemic. That is not going to be the case here.

TAPPER: Leave your gun at home. You cannot bring it on the plane.


TAPPER: Also, more than 3 ounces of shampoo.

Muntean, thanks so much.

A college crisis. How one university is taking action over a dire issue on campus. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our national lead, the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, UNC, taking action to address what the chancellor is calling a mental health crisis on campus. Classes were canceled Tuesday. Students were encouraged to rest and focus on their mental health. The Wellness Day comes after two student deaths by suicide this


CNN's Amara Walker joins us now live.

Amara, what led to this decision by the university?

AMARA WALKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, the chancellor at UNC Chapel Hill referred to two student suicides that happened just this past month, including one reported suicide that happened on Saturday in the morning on campus at the Hinton James Residence Hall. This is according to UNC police crime logs.

Also, there was an attempted suicide reported on Sunday at 3:00 in the morning. This also happening on campus at the Granville Towers South, again, according to the school's crime logs.

Both incidents are under investigation but this is prompting and did prompt the UNC student body to call on the university to cancel classes on Monday and Tuesday to give students time to grieve, to seek out mental health resources amid what they called an already stressful semester.

So, then on Sunday, in a message that was posted online, Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz announced he met with students and faculty, decided to cancel classes on Tuesday, declaring it a Wellness Day.

He said: We are in the middle of a mental health crisis, both on our campus and across our nation, and we're aware that college-aged students carry an increased risk of suicide. This crisis has directly impacted members of our community especially with the passing of two students on campus in the past month. As chancellor, a professor and parent, my heart breaks for all those whose suffering goes unnoticed.

Now, the other suicide the chancellor refers to happened on September 4th, according to UNC police crime logs. Now, some students welcomed this wellness day while others acknowledged that this really has been a tough time for some students.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's good they're recognizing that like something is going on if there have been two suicides in two days.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just had so many conversations with people that I'm not even that close with and it's just come up with that, like, yeah, it was a phase, like it was something that I had to go through.


WALKER: And the university announced that there will be counseling services made available this week and also plans for a mental health summit later in the month -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Amara Walker, thanks so much. Joining me to discuss further, Dr. Samantha Meltzer-Brody, the

chairwoman of the psychiatry department at the UNC school of medicine. She's been helping to run community support centers on campus this week.

Dr. Meltzer-Brody, thanks for joining us.

You've been at UNC Chapel Hill for a long time. Have the mental health concerns ever been this intense?

DR. SAMANTHA MELTZER-BRODY, CHAIRWOMAN, PSYCHIATRY DEPT., UNC SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: Well, thank you, Jake. I am just struck by the mental health crisis we're facing as a society. So as the chair of psychiatry and working in the health care system, we serve the state of North Carolina. And mental health for the entire society is really, really difficult right now.

And the university represents a microcosm. We know that rates of depression, anxiety and rates of suicide in young people in college- aged people is at an all-time high. And this is a national crisis. And what we're seeing at UNC is representing a microcosm of the mental health crisis we're facing as a society.

TAPPER: When you talk to students, what are they telling you that they think is behind this? Is this a lot -- is a great deal of this related to the pandemic and stress from the pandemic?

MELTZER-BRODY: Yeah, I think for all of our young people, the stress of the pandemic and the fallout of the pandemic has been enormously difficult. The social isolation, the disconnection, people everywhere are feeling exhausted. People's resilience is down.

And so I think that we really have in many ways a traumatized population and we're seeing this nationally.


We're seeing this in all of our kids. High school kids, college kids, college-aged kids whether in university or not. And I think we need a large-scale national public health response to this. And universities are now going to have to respond in ways that's very different than what they were asked to do before.

TAPPER: Yeah. I mean, there are a lot of stories in our show today that are all kind related. We'll be talking about the opioid crisis later in the show. We talked about air rage just before this. Now, we're talking about student suicide. They're all kind of related having to deal with mental health.

Suicide, of course, is the second leading cause of death for Americans age 10 to 34. There are 2 1/2 times as many suicides as homicides in the U.S., according to pre-pandemic CDC data. Why do you think that is?

MELTZER-BRODY: Well, the pandemic has stressed us in ways that are unseen in any of our lifetimes. And mental health has always been undervalued and underfunded and under-resourced, as a society in this country. The mental health resources for kids and adolescents have been particularly bad for a very long time everywhere.

And so this is a societal issue and everything with the pandemic has really made us see the cracks in our systems and in our society. And so I really feel as we think about my job in responding to taking care of people in North Carolina and now partnering with our colleagues on the main campus, how do we make this a priority and how do we say we have got to do something different that where we are in 2021 is not where we were in 2019. And there need to be new approaches.

TAPPER: Some students wrote messages of grief or encouragement outside the student union. These are pictures from twitter that we're showing right now.

How are these losses hitting the student body?

MELTZER-BRODY: Well, the student body is deeply impacted, as you can imagine. It's heartbreaking. As someone who has two college aged students myself, this is something that hits so close to home and is every parent's worst fear. What's been really amazing is seeing how the community has come together and I have been so inspired by the broad outreach across campus, how we're putting together this community response with psychiatry, psychology, social work, broadly bringing in mental health professionals to help work with our colleagues on campus.

The students are doing a brilliant job with their peer program supporting each other, reaching out in ways, big and small, but there really is a sense of coming together. And also an appreciation of the societal mental health crisis that's now hitting campus and not just this campus but all campuses, that there has to be a new path forward. That's what we're hoping will happen out of the summit that comes as really innovative and novel approaches to addressing this mental health crisis that we're all facing.

TAPPER: UNC is such a special place, it's good to hear people are banding together.

What is your message to any students out there who might be having suicidal thoughts or other critical mental health issues right now?

MELTZER-BRODY: Well, the primary message is you're not alone and there is help to get and reaching out that there is hope. And I think people can feel isolated and feel they don't see hope. They don't see a path forward.

Reach out to a friend or family member to a suicide hotline that there is hope and that we care about you and things can get better. We appreciate that for so many of our young people they're not able to see a path forward, but we have to connect with each other and they need to reach out for help. And there are people that deeply want to help.

TAPPER: There is help. There is love for those who are in a tough spot right now. Dr. Samantha Meltzer-Brody, thank you so much.

MELTZER-BRODY: Thank you, Jake.

TAPPER: If you or someone you know needs that help, please take a moment to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, that's 1-800- 273-talk, that's 1-800-273-8255. Or you can text the word "HOME" to 741741.

Coming up -- William Shatner makes space history and gets a little emotional. What he told CNN about his flight to the final frontier. That's next.



TAPPER: That was the moment that science fiction and science reality successfully came together to send Captain Kirk, iconic actor William Shatner, into space.

He's now the oldest person to reach that final frontier, doing so aboard a ship from Jeff Bezos' company Blue Origin.

CNN's Kristin Fisher takes us through this historic "Star Trek".


KRISTIN FISHER, CNN SPACE AND DEFENSE CORRESPONDENT: And with that, 90-year-old "Star Trek" icon William Shatner became the oldest person ever to travel to space. Shatner and three other passengers were propelled through the desert of west Texas to the edge of outer space aboard a New Shepard spacecraft developed by Jeff Bezos' company Blue Origin. It's the same spacecraft that took Bezos to space this summer.

Bezos, a life long "Star Trek" fan, flew Shatner as a guest, along with Blue Origin executive Audrey Powers and two paying customers.


The out of this world adventure lasting just ten minutes from takeoff to landing. Shatner and his crewmates experienced about three minutes of weightlessness before the capsule started its descent back to earth.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There go the parachutes.

FISHER: The flight live stream captured Shatner sharing his post- suborbital trip thoughts with his shipmates.

WILLIAM SHATNER, ACTOR: That was unlike anything they described.

FISHER: After landing safely, a Blue Origin team secured the capsule and Bezos himself did the honors.

Cheers as each of the four passengers walked out of the capsule, including Captain Kirk himself.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Captain Kirk himself, the great William Shatner.

FISHER: Shatner telling Bezos, it all happened so quickly.

SHATNER: It was unbelievable. Unbelievable. I mean, the little things. The weightlessness. But to see the blue color go rip by you and now you're staring at the blackness.

FISHER: Shatner clearly taken aback by the gravity of the moment.

SHATNER: It was so moving to me. This experience, it's something unbelievable.

FISHER: William, you've had one of the most interesting lives that any human could possibly have. Where does this stack up on your list of life experiences?

SHATNER: This is enormous. I'm overwhelmed. And it takes more than a little thing to overwhelm me.

FISHER: You said everybody in the world needs to see it. Why? What do we need to see?

SHATNER: But it's not tourism. Everybody in the world needs to have the Philosophical understanding of what we're doing to earth and the -- and you hear this so often, the necessity of cleaning our Earth, stopping right now the apocalypse that's coming our way. But until you're up there and you see the blackness --


FISHER: Now if anyone thought that William Shatner was perhaps exaggerating just how profoundly he was impacted by his time in space, watch what he did while he was weightless. This is video that was just released by blue origin of those four precious minutes of weightlessness.

And other people are kind of floating around and whatnot but you can see William Shatner in just a moment, right there, just pressing his face in front of the window as he said he wanted to do. In just a minute he'll turn around and say, wow!

And so Shatner telling everyone that he wants them to have this experience, too, but blue origin still will not say how much a seat actually costs on one of those New Shepard rockets. I asked both of the paying customers today how much they paid for their seats. They wouldn't tell me but they did say whatever they paid that it was worth it -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Kristin Fisher, thank you.

Encouraging new signs that we may be seeing the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, the loosening restrictions on travel next.

But, first, in honor of William Shatner's journey into space today, we want to take a moment to share just some of the special rendition of Elton John's "Rocketman" from the Science Fiction Film Awards in 1978.


SHATNER: Rocket man burning out his fuse up here alone. And I think it's going to be a long, long time. Till touch down brings me round again to find, I'm not the man they think I am at home. Oh no, no, no, I'm a rocket man. Rocket man burning out his fuse up here alone.

Mars ain't the kind of place to raise your kids. In fact it's cold as hell, and there's no one there to raise them if you didn't.




TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

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Leading this hour, encouraging signs in the battle against coronavirus and some good news for travelers eager to visit the U.S. The Biden administration says they are planning to ease travel restrictions from Canada and Mexico, but only for fully vaccinated visitors. The U.S. has been limiting nonessential land travel at its northern and southern borders for the last 18 months.

Joining us live to discuss, CNN's Priscilla Alvarez.

Priscilla, how will these new rules work?

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN REPORTER: The administration is going to take a phased approach to this. So, what that means is that starting in early November, foreign visitors who are fully vaccinated will be able to travel across the U.S. land borders with Mexico and with Canada for nonessential purposes. That is visiting friends or family or passing through for tourism.