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The Lead with Jake Tapper
Wall Street Plunges One Day After Big Gains; Commander Inside Steel Plant: "Fierce Bloody Combat is Ongoing"; CNN: U.S. Sharing Intel with Ukraine on Russian Forces, Communications; Analysts: Abortion Pills Next Legal Battleground if Roe Overturned; W.H.O.: Nearly 15 Million Pandemic Related Deaths Worldwide; At Least Three Dead After Suspected Terror Attack in Israel. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired May 05, 2022 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Last stand in a key Ukrainian city.
THE LEAD starts right now.
Russian troops have broken into part of the Mariupol steel plant. But will the remaining innocent Ukrainians trapped inside actually be given a chance to get out alive?
Then, how this little pill could be the next target for the anti- abortion movement when and if Roe v. Wade fails.
Plus, tragic new figures about just how many people died from COVID around the world. Turns out the suspected death toll is higher than reported. Much higher.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
And we start with breaking news in our money lead. A huge selloff on Wall Street today. The Dow just closing down 1,059 points. The Nasdaq and S&P also taking huge hits. The losses coming one day after big gains.
Let's get to CNN's Richard Quest, the host of "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS."
Richard, what is behind today's massive selloff?
RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS EDITOR AT LARGE: Reality check, Jake. The reality that the fed is going to have to raise rates, and maybe harder and faster than anybody thought, and that is going to slow the economy.
Now, many economists who said duh, we knew that was coming, why all the shock? The reason is because there had been a hope, a prayer, whatever, that they were going to get this soft landing. It's looking less likely now. And that means inflation will be -- remain high for the foreseeable future. We may see an uptick in unemployment over the longer term and we may see a recession into next year. That reality has finally dawned on the market.
TAPPER: Richard, should we continue to expect stocks to stay in this roller coaster pattern for the immediate future?
QUEST: Absolutely. Take that to the bank. When the market is looking for a bottom, it's waiting for that moment when things become so cheap, you even buy them to make soup. It's -- the market is simply now -- they've not panicked. It is turmoil, trying to determine what the future direction of economic activity is. How far will Jay Powell have to go? High how high will interest rates go and how quickly?
And until we get clarity on that, look -- I know, listen, you, me, everyone, 401(k)s tonight, you're starting to think, what do I have to do? If you don't have to do anything, don't. This will play itself out. And the last thing you want is looking down the freight train of the market heading towards you.
TAPPER: All right. Richard Quest, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
Turning to our world lead now, and a Russian breach at the Mariupol steel plant where Ukrainian fighters are making their last stand. That's according to a Ukrainian commander on the ground at the Azovstal complex who tells CNN that, quote, fierce, bloody combat is ongoing.
The Ukrainians are accusing Russian forces of violating a truce today, which would have allowed more civilians to escape the steel plant. The United Nations says another evacuation convoy is on it base to the plant right now and scheduled to arrive by tomorrow morning in hopes Ukrainians will be able to get out alive.
North of Mariupol, in the town of Kramatorsk, at least 25 people were injured after a series of Russian missile strikes overnight.
CNN's Sam Kiley toured the damage earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They have had clearly a devastating impact. This is a heating -- a pumping station, sewage area. The sides of the building could indicate it was in no way could have housed any kind of military equipment. But the scenes here are absolutely extraordinary. The way that these trees have been completely decapitated, torn to shreds. And the same goes also for these homes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Also, today, a heartbreaking reminder of the cost of this war on innocent Ukrainian civilians. A 15-year-old volunteer has been killed at a zoo in the town of Kharkiv, while helping his parents evacuate animals from incoming Russian fire. Zoo officials say this is the sixth member of their team killed since Russia's invasion began. CNN's Isa Soares starts off our coverage today from Lviv in western
Ukraine with a closer look at the desperate efforts to help save more civilians from the besieged plant in Mariupol.
ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ukrainian soldiers trapped in the Azovstal plant sing the army's battle hymn.
It is sweetest for us to die in battle than to live in chains as dumb slaves, they sing in the darkness.
A few of the dozens of Ukrainian fighters defending the last patch of Mariupol not in Russian hands. Above them, the bombardment continues. Relentlessly.
Later, one of the commanders with a message for the world. It's been the third day that the enemy has broken through the territory of Azovstal. Fierce bloody combat is ongoing, he says, accusing the Russians of violating the promise of a truce and preventing the evacuation of civilians who continue to hide deep in bunkers at Azovstal.
The U.N. and Red Cross organized the evacuation of one group of about 100 civilians at the weekend. Sense then, none have left. Now there is hope of another convoy reaching Mariupol.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As we speak, a convoy is proceeding to get to Azovstal by tomorrow morning, hopefully, to receive those civilians remaining in that break hell that they have inhabited for so many weeks and months and taken back to safety.
SOARES: Speaking to me earlier, the military governor of Donetsk was much more cautious.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would like to be frank that with all due respect for the U.N. and their assistance and the International Committee of the Red Cross, the conditions that are such that the occupier keeps changing them and the Russian Federation does everything sometimes in a way that these -- the agreements keep changing. So I would rather speak of results of the second stage in evacuation.
SOARES: The Russians and their allies, the separatists of self-styled Donetsk People's Republic are showing off their newly won territory, or at least the ruins they fought to seize. This commander points to a massive crater outside the Azovstal plant. He said the bodies of Ukrainian soldiers are everywhere. We find more and more of them, he adds.
Amid the ruins of Mariupol, once a thriving city of 400,000 people, the new authorities are changing the road signs into Russian. The Ukrainian officials expect they will organize a parade on May 9th, when Russia celebrates its victory in the Second World War. Whether the Azovstal plant is quiet and empty by then or still being pulverized, no one knows. What's certain are the scars that will remain.
SOARES (on camera): And, Jake, what is clear as you look at those images is that it's a brutal and a bloody fight there for Mariupol. And it is ongoing.
I think it's worth reminding viewers that this is not a video game. This is not a movie. This is real life. And there are people inside. More than some 200 people, 200 civilians. Some 30 children who haven't seen sunlight for some 60 days or so.
So hopefully, through the U.N. and the Red Cross, that evacuation can take place early tomorrow. Of course, we have been here before. And the Russians have broken their promises. But U.N. clearly hoping that this will be the day that they can actually leave the U.N. envoy calling it a hellhole.
TAPPER: Isa Soares reporting live for us from Lviv, Ukraine. Thank you so much.
Today, the White House is pushing back on a "New York Times" report that claimed U.S. intelligence is providing information about the whereabouts of Russian generals, giving that information to Ukrainian forces so those generals can be killed.
CNN's Kaitlan Collins joins us now live from the White House.
Kaitlan, what exactly are Biden administration officials saying? Are they making an outright denial?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Jake, they are denying it but they are stating what we know and what we have reported here at CNN, which is that, yes, the U.S. is providing Ukraine with intelligence to help them on the battlefield. That they are adding a very important caveat after this story was published saying, quote, we do not provide intelligence with the intent to kill Russian generals, of course, saying with the intent there to kill Russian generals is a lot of leeway for this White House who is saying they are not providing specific intelligence to these Ukrainian forces to help them assassinate Russian generals, which we have seen several of the Russian generals killed since this invasion began.
This is obviously something that the Pentagon has asked about today during their briefing. Here's what the Pentagon spokesperson said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: We do not provide intelligence on the location of senior military leaders on the battlefield or participate in the targeting decisions of the Ukrainian military.
Ukraine combines information that we and other partners provide with the intelligence that they themselves are gathering. (END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: So, Jake, basically their argument is that, yes, we provide Ukrainians with intelligence. They have their own intelligence operation, of course. And what they do with that when they put two and two together, is up to the Ukrainians, not coming at a U.S. directive.
We should note, Jake, this comes as a top Russian officer visited the frontlines in this invasion in Ukraine. So that's what makes this obviously so important, while the White House is weighing so much.
TAPPER: Yeah, it doesn't seem like a denial, telling them where the Russian general is. But they can do whatever they want with their information. Whatever they think they're going to do with the information.
But moving on, Kaitlan, today, U.S. officials announced another crackdown on Russian elites, friendly to Putin to the tune of $300 million.
COLLINS: Yeah, Jake, this is a yacht that was seized by authorities in Fiji, at the request of the Justice Department. Young see the yacht here. It's $300 million, 348 feet long. The White House says they did this at the request of the Justice Department, got the authority there is in Fiji involved, because it is owned by a Russian oligarch who made his fortune from gold.
The U.S. says on this affidavit when they seized this vote, he was placed on a U.S. sanctions list, he evaded and broke those sanctions by using the U.S. banking system for the expenses that came with this 300-foot yacht. They have, of course, since seized it, and the deputy attorney general says it should tell every Russian oligarch they cannot hide, not even in the most remote part of the world, Jake.
TAPPER: And Kaitlan, just a few minutes ago, the White House announced who is going to replace Jen Psaki when she leaves next week. Tell us more.
COLLINS: Yes, Jake. This is, of course, significant. Jen Psaki has been expected to leave for several weeks now. She will leave on May 13th. And the principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre will be replacing her as the next White House press secretary, Jake.
And it's notable because she is replacing Jen Psaki at the lectern. It's also notable because she will be making history with this role, becoming the first black person to hold this title as the chief spokesperson for the White House. Also, the first openly LBGTQ person to hold this role. She will step into that role formally in the next coming weeks, Jake, though, people will be familiar with her because she's taken over for Psaki at the lectern several times before.
She's often in the room when Psaki is taking our questions. And, of course, remember, she filled in on President Biden's trip to Europe when Psaki tested positive for COVID-19. So she will be the new face of the administration. Of course, we reported Psaki is expected to leave for cable news, Jake. TAPPER: All right. Kaitlan Collins at the White House, thank you so
Joining us now to discuss, Democratic Senator Chris Coons of Delaware. He's on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Senator, let's start with the White House pushback today on that "New York Times" story. The U.S. wants Ukraine to win this war. Why would it not be part of the U.S. strategy to openly help Ukraine defeat the Russian forces that invaded them and are committing these crimes against humanitarian by killing Russian generals? Why is that something that we would hide?
SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): I'm not really sure what the motivation is behind that parsing of our intelligence partnership with Ukraine, Jake. But I support strongly President Biden's leadership in sending more and more sophisticated and heavier weapons to support Ukraine's defense against Vladimir Putin's unjustified invasion. There is an additional request in front of Congress right now that I hope we will take up and pass next week to provide billions more in funding, both military assistance and humanitarian assistance.
As you know, Jake, Ukraine is often called the breadbasket of Eastern Europe. It is one of the world's largest producers of wheat and sunflower oil. We need to be providing support, not just for the brave and patriotic fighters who are defending Ukraine, but for the tens of millions of Ukrainians who will be hungry both inside the country and those who are displaced and now living in other countries around the region.
I think President Biden has provided strong support and so has the rest of the West, whether it's intelligence or weapons or material, and I think that's an important part of the West coming together behind Ukraine.
TAPPER: So the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, spoke with the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson today. The UK says that Zelenskyy asked for, quote, longer range weaponry to prevent the bombardment of civilians, unquote. Could the U.S. be giving Ukraine even more? And is this aid that is sitting in Congress right now waiting for Congress to act, these long-range weapons?
COONS: Well, to be clear, Congress takes up and passes legislation authorizing and appropriating money, and then the president authorizes the Department of Defense to transfer and deliver weapons or other support to Ukraine. Right now, the Department of Defense is delivering weapons that we funded, and the president approved weeks ago.
For example, 155-millimeter howitzers, far more sophisticated, longer range artillery than we had provide. A new class of drone, so-called ghost drones, as well as switchblades, drones that can carry a larger payload and go farther. There's other systems that we can, and I think should deliver. And some of our key partners in NATO, our Eastern European partners,
are also providing heavy weaponry, multiple launch systems, longer range artillery, the Stingers and Javelins. Both surface-to-air and anti-tank missiles that have been used so effectively by Ukrainian defenders over the last six weeks, as well as anti-ship missiles that Ukrainians have used successfully to sink Russian ships in the Black Sea.
TAPPER: I want to switch topics and ask you about abortion rights in this country, in the wake of this draft opinion, showing that the U.S. Supreme Court appears poised to strike down Roe v. Wade. Joe Biden is calling on Congress to act and pass laws protecting a woman's right to an abortion. It appears the Democrats in the Senate simply don't have the votes to pass this bill. I'm not even sure you have 50 votes, much less 60.
So realistically speaking, is there anything Congress can do?
COONS: Jake, we are going to have a vote on the floor of the Senate next week so the American people can be clear on which party stands where on this core and defining issue. This is the first time in my adult life that the rights of Americans, the rights of tens of millions of American women, to make choices about their own reproductive health care will be rolled back. The right to an abortion, which 50 years ago, the Supreme Court put into our law through Roe versus Wade, even though it's been modified over many years, it has stood as one of the pillars of our understanding of that balance between privacy, making one's own decisions in reproduction, and the role of the federal government.
So frankly, we need a bigger pro-choice majority in the Senate for us to be able to have an impact on extending federal protections, and that's going to be one of the issues I expect we'll be talking about over the weeks and months to come here in the Senate.
TAPPER: Quickly, if you could, some of your colleagues have said that Justice Kavanaugh and Justice Gorsuch were not honest about their opinions when it came to Roe v. Wade as a precedent. Do you agree? Do you think they lied to congress?
COONS: I'd say that several of the justices who I questioned and interviewed during the confirmation process gave the strong impression that they would respect precedent, that they would not overturn a long-established, well-respected, broadly well-regarded precedent like Roe v. Wade without some surprise or change or cause. So I certainly feel that they were not being fully forthcoming in suggesting that they would suspect stare decisis.
I voted against both of Justice Kavanaugh and Justice Gorsuch in part because I found it hard to believe that, given the opportunity, they would not reverse Roe v. Wade based on things that they had said and written. My strong hunch was that even though this is one of the pillars of modern constitutional law in the United States that, given the opportunity, they likely would vote.
And although this is a leaked preliminary draft, I urge everyone watching to read it. The language is bracing and clear. And there are other long-established rights, like the right to access contraception, like the right to same-sex marriage, which might also now be up for reversal by this activist, conservative majority.
TAPPER: All right. Democratic Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, thanks so much for your time today.
Chief Justice John Roberts speaking publicly for the first time since that leak of the Supreme Court draft opinion indicating Roe v. Wade is on the precipice of being overturned. What the chief is saying, what he's not saying about the bombshell leak. That's next.
TAPPER: In the politics lead, moments ago, the first public appearance of chief justice of the United States, John Roberts, sends shockwaves from the Supreme Court when someone, somehow leaked to "Politico" a draft opinion indicating that the Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade as soon as next month. The 1973 decision is guaranteed constitutional protection for women seeking an abortion for the first 23 to 24 weeks of a pregnancy with possible restrictions, depending on the state for almost half a century in the U.S.
CNN's Ariane de Vogue is in Atlanta where Chief Justice Roberts just spoke.
Ariane, this week, Roberts confirmed that the leaked draft opinion is authentic, and he called for an investigation by the marshal of the Supreme Court. But I understand he said a whole lot more just now.
ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: Right. These are his first comments in public, and he called that leak absolutely appalling. He said it would be foolish for people to think that it's really going to affect how the court does its job. He really praised the Supreme Court's workforce, and he said he hoped that one bad apple wouldn't change the public's perception of the court.
But whatever he says that leak is absolutely stunning. And the breadth of the opinion, even though it's a draft opinion, put forward by Alito is really broad, calling Roe v. Wade egregiously wrong, saying that this issue needs to go back to the states. That's really bad news for supporters of abortion rights, who point out that nearly half the states have laws on the books that either restrict or abolish abortion all together.
The fallout, as we have seen since the leak came out, has been very broad on both sides, even some demonstrations. But you have some people question, what's going to be next, including the president, because Alito, in that opinion, he tries to really wall it in and say this is just about abortion. But a lot of the legal reasoning that was used in Roe, Jake, was also used in other cases, particularly in that same-sex marriage case. So their fear, supporters of abortion rights is that this court, this conservative court, has just gotten started.
And lastly, all of this comes really at the court's busy season, because they're not having oral arguments anymore. But they are working behind the scenes not only to finish this abortion case, but there's a big Second Amendment case, religious liberty cases, environmental cases. Those are all pending.
They take frank conversations between the justices. And after this leak, you can see how justices would be nervous, that their closed- door deliberations are somehow going to leak out and make it on the front pages, Jake.
TAPPER: Ariane de Vogue, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
Thousands of women don't go to a doctor to get an abortion, they take a regiment of pills. Would that be at risk if Roe v. Wade is overturned? We'll take a closer look, next.
TAPPER: In our politics lead, with the Supreme Court seemingly poised to strike down Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 case that guaranteed the right to abortion nationwide, analysts say the next frontier in this struggle will be the availability of abortion pills by mail. More than 54 percent of all abortions in the United States were induced by pills in 2020. That's according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports abortion rights.
And as CNN's Tom Foreman reports for us now, suppliers of these medications say they intend to continue sending them to the U.S. no matter what state laws say.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For those intent on ending abortions in parts of the United States, the biggest barrier may not be politics but pills, which researchers say are effective, available, and now used for more than half of all abortions.
SUE SWAYZE LIEBEL, STATE POLICY DIRECTOR, SUSAN B. ANTHONY LIST: Abortion activists have been quietly building a whole new business model to target young women on their phones. To click -- get information and receive abortion drugs by mail.
FOREMAN: The Food and Drug Administration approved mail order supplies of the so-called abortion pills with a prescription this past December for women in the first ten weeks of pregnancy. Advocates insist it's less invasive, more discrete, and just as safe as surgical abortion.
DR. JENNIFER VILLAVICENCIO, AMERICAN COLLEGE OF OBSTETRICIANS AND GYNECOLOGISTS: And oftentimes, people choose this for various reasons. They want to be able to manage their abortion with their family, you know, around, in a surrounding they're comfortable with. DR. REBECCA GOMPERTS, WOMEN ON WAVES: We have seen an incredible
increase of requests for help. People are being really scared of what's going to happen.
FOREMAN: That's why some abortion rights supporters, such as Women on Waves based in the Netherlands, say they're already facilitating shipments of the drugs for women in far flung corners of the U.S. and they're promising to step up the efforts no matter where these women are or what state laws say.
GOMPERTS: What I'm doing is legal where the laws I work from. And actually, I have a medical oath to do this. I'm a doctor. My oath is that I help people that are in need, and that is what I'm doing.
FOREMAN (on camera): The states that are trying to stamp out abortion are writing all sorts of little lines in their law to try to attack this, going after websites, going after out of state providers, over foreign providers. They're doing everything they can.
But Jake, the proponents of abortion rights say this is someplace where they think they may have an edge. It may be hard for some women to figure out the websites, but once they do, they say what it's going to be is states trying to catch up with five little pills making their way to a woman they see as being a need. They think will be almost impossible for the states to enforce.
TAPPER: Tom Foreman, thanks so much.
Here to discuss, Florida State law professor Mary Ziegler, the author of the upcoming book "Dollars for Life: The Anti-Abortion Movement and the Fall of the Republican Establishment."
Professor Ziegler, thanks for joins us. What are some of the laws already on the books that might make it illegal to sell medication such as this, that induces abortion?
MARY ZIEGLER, LAW PROFESSOR, FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY: Well, there are already 19 states that ban telehealth abortion, which would be the through the mail scheme that tom was describing. Of course, if Roe v. Wade falls, as we expect after this leaked draft, we would expect up to 26 states to criminalize abortion outright, and that would, of course, include abortion by pill. So that would mean not only there could be restrictions on use of these pills but outright bans.
Whether those bans would be easily enforceable raises a much more difficult question.
TAPPER: With the laws that already exist ban medications such as the morning after pill, or Plan B, do you think lawmakers will try to outlaw everything?
ZIEGLER: Well, the definition of abortion has been historically contested. So, if for the most part, when states have actually got around to defining abortion, they try to make clear they're not banning contraceptives.
But that's not a view that's universally held within the pro-life or anti-abortion movement. There are people, of course, during the debate about the contraceptive mandate of Obamacare who took the position, as you mentioned, that IUDs or the morning after pill are steps in fertility treatment were all abortion inducing drugs. So I would expect to see a live debate about that in states as they ban abortion.
I would expect to see more states being willing to define abortion expansively in a post rural America that we might see today.
TAPPER: But if that happens, I'm not sure how familiar everybody is with birth control pills or IUDs or the morning after pill, if that were to happen, were these legislatures to ban these pills, does that mean -- I mean, wouldn't contraception get caught up in that?
ZIEGLER: Absolutely, yeah. Because the line between abortion and contraception has never been as undisputed and clear as we may think it is. In a world where abortion can be criminalized, that's going to become quick in a hurry, I think. States may have both constitutional reasons, because there is constitutional precedent on the right to use contraception. They may have those reasons to avoid this, then they think politically it's a bad idea to wade into regulating what some view as contraception.
But we know from the contraceptive mandate, this is an issue which conservatives feel strongly. So there's no saying that states won't sweep in contraception as well as abortion.
TAPPER: There are situation where is there is a medical problem with the fetus or it's in the wrong location for the body, forcing a woman to seek an abortion for a very wanted pregnancy. What do we know about the legality of that going forward? Would those also be banned?
ZIEGLER: Yeah, most states don't have exceptions for really any scenario, other than the life of the pregnant person. Even that is a narrow exception, because as young imagine, if you're a doctor facing a felony charge and the loss of your license and a serious period of imprisonment, and you're not sure if something is going to be criminally penalized or not if you're treating someone who's had an incomplete miscarriage, some doctors are likely to refuse care on those instances, too, because there will be a chilling effect of these criminal laws.
And the reasons authorized under the laws for abortion as I mentioned are exceedingly rare. They don't include some of the kinds of cases you mentioned. I think some states are considering conditions and compatible with life or ectopic pregnancies as exceptions. Other states are not, though.
So, we're talking about very narrow range of exemptions.
TAPPER: And lawmakers in some states are adopting so-called abortion travel bans, which would make it illegal for someone to leave their state to get a legal abortion in a different state. Is that even constitutional?
ZIEGLER: The short answer is, we don't know, right? So there are questions this raises about the constitutional right to travel, which has a very impeccable pedigree, as well as the so-called dormant commerce clause which affects -- which regulates how states affect commerce in other states. But neither of those areas of the law is very well-developed. We know we have a conservative Supreme Court that is skeptical of the idea of a right to choose abortion, but we have little guidance.
So, if states do wade into this area, we're going to see a brand new round of the abortion wars, the elimination of Roe v. Wade won't be the end of one chapter, but the beginning of an equally messy chapter.
TAPPER: All right. Mary Ziegler, author of the upcoming book, "Dollars for Life: The Anti-Abortion Movement and the Fall of the Republican Establishment" -- thanks so much for your expertise.
Coming up, deaths from COVID could be three times more than previously thought. What is behind the new estimate, and are we at the start of a new deadly surge in the United States?
Stay with us.
TAPPER: In our health lead, disturbing new estimates on the staggering worldwide death toll caused by the COVID pandemic. The World Health Organization is now estimating that nearly 15 million people died as a direct or indirect result of COVID between January 1st, 2020 and December 31st, 2021.
Joining us now to help break down these numbers is Dr. Saju Mathew.
Dr. Mathew, thanks for joining us.
So the WHO says there were 9.5 million excess mortality deaths during that time frame.
Help us understand the discrepancy with this reported number, what's going on here?
DR. SAJU MATHEW, PRIMARY CARE PHYSICIAN: Yeah, so excess mortality is going to be an extremely important number for people like me, because what that really means is you take the number of deaths that happened during the pandemic and you subtract that from a year where the pandemic didn't exist. And those excess numbers can be attributed to COVID-19.
In fact, to be honest with you, Jake, I'm surprised that it's actually that low. I think that this number has been grossly underestimated because, firstly, if you look at countries like India, where people were dying on the streets, couldn't get oxygen, people were dying actually in rural areas, none of those people have been included in that number. And I have close ties with Nigeria where I was born and raised.
Look at Africa. This continent I thought would have been hit really hard. But fortunately, even with low vaccination rates, their mortality rates are lower. So this number is going to be a very important number for us to understand.
And here in the U.S., Jake, I had a good number of my patients who were trying to make it to the ER for a heart attack and stroke but actually ended up dying in the ambulance because of COVID surges.
So they need to be included, as well in this overall excess mortality rate.
TAPPER: Let's talk about what's going on in the U.S. right now, because hospitalizations are up for the second straight week. The CDC says the number of hospitalizations and deaths are forecast to rise over the next four weeks. This is the first time the CDC has predicted an increase in deaths since February.
Why is this happening? How concerned is the public health community?
MATHEW: I'm really concerned. I don't want to say I told you so, Jake. But I've definitely been one of many that was really unhappy about lifting the mask mandates. I know a lot of people would say oh, hear goes Dr. Mathew again with the masks.
But if you look at how people live in this country. It's like the pandemic doesn't exist anymore. People are getting infected left and right, they're not testing. Most people are getting tested at home. So, again, those numbers are not included.
In Georgia, the cases are not being reported consistently. So there's a lot of underestimation of the daily cases. When we say there's 50,000 per day, I think it's probably five or tenfold higher.
And currently, there is a surge in most states. Hospitalizations are ticking up. I was in an urgent care yesterday. Talked to one of our PAs. She saw 70 patients in a ten-hour period, 30 of them were positive. And the people that are unvaccinated were sicker.
But we still had a good number of people who were vaccinated and boosted, Jake, that also tested positive for COVID.
TAPPER: Dr. Saju Mathew, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
We have some breaking news now out of Israel, where there's been another terrorist attack. We're going to go live to the scene, next.
Stay with us.
[16:51:22] TAPPER: Breaking news from Israel in our world lead, another in a series of deadly terrorist attacks that have left in totality at least 18 Israelis dead since March. The latest, three deaths happened today, in an attack north of Jerusalem, in a town called Elad.
CNN's Hadas Gold is there.
Hadas, tell us what happened.
HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, today is Israel's Independence Day. And this is a quiet, mostly orthodox town in central Israel. Around 8:30 p.m. tonight, two alleged attackers began attacking people on the street. Police say they believe they used a rifle and possibly a knife and/or an ax. And then they fled in a vehicle.
There's now a massive manhunt underway for these alleged attackers. We've been hearing police helicopters hovering above us since we got here. And there are police roadblocks on all of the roads leading into the city. There's a very, very heavy police and military presence. Now, so far no one is -- no main militant or terrorist group is claiming credit for this attack, although Hamas, the militant group that runs Gaza, immediately put out a statement praising the attack, Jake.
TAPPER: And, Hadas, as we said, this is the latest in a series of terrorist attacks across Israel and the West Bank that started in March.
GOLD: Yah, Jake. This is the sixth attack targeting Israelis since late march, 18 people now dead, if you count the three people who were killed tonight. I should note that four people were injured in this attack.
And it's been a sense and violent few months. Israel stepped up their military operations in the West Bank and those clashes led to at least two dozen Palestinians being killed. We have seen clashes at the Al- Aqsa Mosque compound, also known as the Temple Mount, a place so holy in Jerusalem to both Jews and Muslims.
And while many people were hoping that the end of Ramadan would bring some calm to the situation, Israeli officials said they were preparing for more violence, more tension, more deaths, because today is Israeli Independence Day, and next week is the one-year anniversary of that 11-day war between Hamas and the Israeli army.
TAPPER: All right. Hadas Gold, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
On the run for almost a week. Coming up, the new clues and the manhunt for the missing murder suspect and the corrections officer who took off with him.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
At this hour, it has been seven days since an Alabama corrections officer was seen leaving jail with a capital murder suspect. Are investigators closer to tracking down the wanted pair?
Plus, more questions than answers about what is happening on board a United States aircraft carrier where seven sailors have died, at least four by suicide in the past year. CNN talks to sailors who have been stationed on the troubled USS George Washington.
And leading this hour, there's been a breach by Russian forces at the steal plant in Mariupol, where Ukrainian forces have been resisting the Russian advances and bombardment for months. But the fate of the innocent civilians who've been sheltering inside the plant, that remains unknown.
And now as CNN's Scott McLean reports from Lviv, United Nations say another evacuation convoy is on the way to Azovstal.
SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the last bastion of Ukrainian resistance in Mariupol. The Azovstal steel plant, under what a city official calls non-stop shelling and assault by Russian forces. Inside, an untold number of civilians are still trapped as the battle rages. The commander of Ukrainian troops in the plant saying Thursday, fierce combat is ongoing after he says Russian forces breached the compound's barrier.
The commander begging for transport of the bodies of soldiers who died in weeks of violence at the complex. He pleads for more evacuation of civilians trapped inside. The United Nations says it's hard to know exactly how many remain, but they are trying to send help.