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Don Lemon Tonight

House Expected To Vote On "Build Back Better" Bill; Infrastructure Bill Amid The Worst Inflation U.S. Seen In 30 Years; America Is At A Moment Of Truth On Justice; Oklahoma Governor Grants Julius Jones Clemency Hours Before Scheduled Execution; Awaiting FDA Decision On Authorizing Boosters For All Adults; CNN Hero: Meet Dr. Ala Stanford. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired November 18, 2021 - 23:00   ET




DON LEMON, CNN HOST: It is the top of the hour. Here's our breaking news. The House expected to vote tonight on President Biden's "build back better" bill. Let's get you live to the Capitol now. There it is where the House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is trying to stall the vote as long as he can. There he is doing his thing on the floor, whenever he wraps up.

Democrats are set to pass the sweeping $1.9 trillion bill, dramatically expanding social services in the U.S., working to address the climate crisis and delivering aid to families and children. This is a huge part of the president's domestic agenda, but still faces an uphill climb in the Senate.

We're going to talk about all of it. First up, though, I want to go to our congressional correspondent, Mr. Manu Raju, for the very latest. He's at the Capitol. Manu, good evening to you. Very latest on the vote for the president's social safety net package. What do you have?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's uncertain because Kevin McCarthy is on the floor. They don't have filibusters in the Senate -- in the House, but he's performing what is essentially a filibuster, which is under the procedures in the House, the majority leader and minority leader have what's called the magic minute.

They're given one minute to speak, but they really can speak for as long as they want, and that is exactly what Kevin McCarthy is doing. He started at 8:38 p.m. Eastern time. We are now past 11:00 on the East, and he is still going. There's no clear sign of exactly when he will speak, but he can go for as long as he wants.

The question is, will he try to go as long as Nancy Pelosi did when she was minority leader back in 2018, when she spoke for eight hours on the House floor during a time where she was protesting the issue of immigration? But here, McCarthy is railing on the Democrats' plans, railing on the Biden agenda, talking about everything from Afghanistan to defunding the police, you name it. Kevin McCarthy is going after it. But it's not going to change the outcome here.

The Democratic leaders are expected to have the votes to actually pass this bill that they have negotiated and strenuously for months. This has been a very difficult negotiation. But they believe they're there to get it out of the House.

One Democrat, a moderate from Maine, Jared Golden, who's in a swing district, says he will vote against it. But that is the only Democrat that we know at the moment who is a "no" vote. The Democratic leadership can only afford to lose three votes to get it done. They expect they'll get that eventually when this happens.

So, when McCarthy wraps up, that's when Nancy Pelosi is expected to speak. And then after, we'll get into a series of votes that will lead to the final passage vote.

But Don, that is just one step in the process of passing this big bill. Even though we have gotten to this point, it's been so difficult for Democrats to even get to the point of final passage. It still has to go through the Senate.

Joe Manchin earlier today told me that he was not willing to commit to voting "yes" on that first procedural vote to just take up the bill for debate. And he wants significant changes, whether it's on the paid leave issues of it, dealing with the energy tax, the vehicle credits among a wide other range of other issues. He wants some changes, including the expansion of Medicare as part of this House package.

So, those negotiations will continue in the Senate. Then if they do get Manchin on board, they've got to get it through the arduous process of voting on amendments in the Senate, get it through there, pass it back in the House, get the progressives on board here.

So, while this is going to be a significant step forward for the democratic agenda, it is certainly not the last step. But the question is, when will that vote will happen? Probably sometime tonight, but Kevin McCarthy can go as long as he wants, and he's showing no signs of letting up.

LEMON: You just exhausted me with all of that. It's so much red tape in Washington. It's really unbelievable. So, look, clear path to the coffee machine, Manu. You're going to be there for a while. I appreciate it. We will see you. We may see Manu again later this hour, but definitely later on CNN as they get this done. Thank you, sir. We'll see you soon.

I want to bring in now Austan Goolsbee, the former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. Austan Goolsbee, good evening to you.


LEMON: So, this bill as it stands now would add to the federal deficit.


That's according to CBO. This is happening amid the worst inflation this country has seen in 30 years. Biden says this package will help fight inflation. Senator Manchin is worried that it could make it worse. Who's right here?

GOOLSBEE: I think in a way neither right. I don't -- I think the "build back better" bill has virtually nothing to do with inflation, which is a matter of the next let's call it 6 to 15 months. The bill is virtually all paid for. There's a small disagreement of about five percent --

LEMON: Well, this is $367 billion. The CBO says it's going to add to the deficit over --

GOOLSBEE: The CBO said that, but it's over ten years and it's not counting the money that would come from increased enforcement of tax cheats that the Treasury argues would add up to even more than what the --

LEMON: But wouldn't it still be a shortfall, even with that?

GOOLSBEE: No, I think it wouldn't be a shortfall. If the Treasury were right, then it would actually raise revenue. But regardless, it's fair to have an honest debate over is it four percent not paid for, is it one percent not paid for. The fact is the overall impact of a bill that's spread over 10 years in the next six to 15 months is extremely modest.

And all the rating agencies, the economists that have looked at it, say we should have a debate about "build back better" on the merits of "build back better." It's not going to have a big impact on inflation one way or the other.

LEMON: So, all this hyperventilating you think is just --

GOOLSBEE: I think it's hyperventilating.

LEMON: Okay. All right. So, listen, by so many other signs, the economy is humming along, right? Retail sales were up in October. Look at your screen, everyone. Wage growth is up over the past year. Nearly six million jobs added back in 2020. But it is -- 2021. But it is inflation, right, that so many people are worried about?

You said over the next six to 15 months. All right. So, what is going on? Why are all these contradictory signs about the economy? Why has it been happening?

GOOLSBEE: Yeah, look, it feels -- it feels in a way kind of bonkers. You know, we started the year booming and the virus coming down. Then we get into the summer, the virus comes back, the economy slows. Now, hopefully we get back some control of the virus and growth comes back. I think what's happening on inflation is that if you go look at the numbers, there has been 20 years. We reversed 20 years of trend of spending on physical products. Usually, what we spend almost all our money on are services and that went down during the pandemic because people don't want to go to the doctor, people don't want to go to Disneyland, people don't want to fly on an airplane, they don't want to go to a restaurant.

All of that kind of stuff that we normally spend our money on was replaced with buying TVs, buying pelotons, buying a bunch of physical goods at a rate that we've never had before, and the supply chain cannot satisfy that kind of demand.

So, that's why I say we've got to get control of the virus so we can go back to spending our money on all the stuff we used to spend our money on. And the fact that all the other countries of the world are trying to buy a bunch of physical goods at the same time, we are, has made this a worldwide problem.

So, Germany's got the fastest inflation in almost 30 years. China announced they've got the fastest inflation in almost 30 years. U.S.'s fastest inflation in 31 years. That's not a coincidence.

LEMON: Yeah.

GOOLSBEE: It's because it's a global supply chain and everybody is overloading it.

LEMON: I've thought about you during the segment tonight. I actually thought about you as I was walking in my door because I had all these boxes there. I actually turned to my fiance and I said, what is all this? Christmas lights.


LEMON: Coffee. You know, things you order, all coming from -- all delivered to your door now, right? And so, I thought people are spending money, Austan. And so, it's kind of weird.


LEMON: You have these contradictory signs because people are actually spending --


LEMON: The housing market is on fire.


LEMON: How much is that under Biden's control to get this under control? How much is under his control or in his control?

GOOLSBEE: Not a lot. Not a lot is under the president's control. That doesn't mean that people are going to not hold him accountable for it just because he can't control it. Certainly, the history, we haven't had high inflation that frequently in the last 50 years in the U.S. But when we have, it has not boded well for the incumbent offices. So, I think that's why the White House is nervous. But that said, you know, there are things we can do on the margin.


You know I'm an economist, so I'm going to say get rid of the stupid Trump tariffs. That will reduce prices on a whole bunch of goods. That was a tax on the middle class bigger than any that we've seen in our lifetimes. They can do some things like the strategic petroleum reserve. That's a band-aid.

You know, mostly what we've got to do is get this virus under control so that we can go back to spending on what we normally spent money on, and that will relieve a bunch of the pressures that are currently driving up the prices of physical goods.

LEMON: I hear the folks at home now when you said what can we do, and they say get off fossil fuels. In that way, you won't have to spend so much money on gas. I can hear you, guys.

GOOLSBEE: Ride a bike. You know, maybe. If you can do that.

LEMON: Mass transportation is amazing as well.

GOOLSBEE: Yes. And look, this is one of the injuries. I won't say casualties, but one of the injuries of the pandemic is in places where there's a lot of mass transit, people are like I don't want to go ride on the subway because I might catch the virus.

LEMON: I was on the subway yesterday. Masks. Wear your mask. Thank you, Austan. Appreciate it. I'll see you soon.

GOOLSBEE: Great to see you again, Don.

LEMON: Here to discuss all of this, CNN political commentator Ana Navarro and senior political analyst Ron Brownstein. Ana is here. Hello to you.


LEMON: You're shaking your head on the mass transportation part. Why?



NAVARRO: You live in New York. And if you live in --

LEMON: What that means is that Florida or Miami should get a public transportation system that serves most of its people.

NAVARRO: Honey, good luck. Right now, I'd be happy if we could get a good drainage system in our streets --

(LAUGHTER) NAVARRO: -- so that they don't flood like the Nile every time it rains.

LEMON: I've never been more appreciative of a mass transportation system than I am right now when you consider the cost of fuels and what have you and people -- and every person I saw on the subway yesterday wearing a mask. And it was almost back to the pre-pandemic levels.

Okay. So, listen, let's talk about this. The bill is about to make its way to the Senate, if it can ever get out of the House with Kevin McCarthy, and they're about to pass the social spending thing soon. Kevin McCarthy's theatrics -- Ron, why is he doing this? What is his agenda?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, first of all, wouldn't it be great if a filibuster in the Senate was this, where someone talked as long as they could, and when they couldn't talk anymore, you got to vote?

LEMON: So, are you saying Kevin McCarthy is a proponent of the standing filibuster?

BROWNSTEIN: Yeah. Look, I think he's doing it for an audience of one. I think he's trying to show Donald Trump that he's doing everything possible to resist this bill. And therefore, he is worthy of being speaker if they get the majority next year.

But look, this is -- this would be in one bill probably the most sweeping agenda Democrats have passed since the great society Congress in '65-66. If you look at the provisions of this legislation, setting us -- for one thing, the climate, $550 billion, to accelerate the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy.

But then all of the provisions, as Austan said, it's not going to directly affect inflation, but it will affect the ability of people to meet their monthly bills. I mean, you've got significant subsidies for childcare, healthcare, Medicare negotiation, prescription drugs, to bring down prescription drug costs, the child tax credit to give people more money in their pocket every month.

And one thing that doesn't get discussed about this bill very much is that the estimates are that 80 -- it's going to create about 2.3 million jobs a year is the estimate. Eighty percent of those would not require a college degree, which would put enormous economic pressure on competition for those workers, allow workers without a college degree who have basically been treading water for decades to begin to see wage increases.

And then there are about half a dozen specific provisions in this which almost never get discussed to explicitly raise wages for low- wage workers. One of the things -- I'll stop here. But the early childhood provisions -- you know, early childhood now is dominated by women of color who are among the most poorly paid workers in the economy.

And this bill says that institutions that are getting the federal funds are going to have to raise pay for those workers to the point where they're comparable to elementary school teachers. Half a dozen things like that. So, this will have a big impact. The question is, can the Democrats make that impact palpable in people's lives?

NAVARRO: He thinks he's got a magic minute, too.


LEMON: What I was going to say is -- and listen, he explained it very succinctly there.

NAVARRO: Yeah, very well.

LEMON: But it's not a bumper sticker. It's not something that can fit -- it's not one sentence, right? It's not "build back better," but what does that mean, right? And we're not in there. If you look at what's happening with Kevin McCarthy right now, are we in that moment where people can think logically about how this helps or is it just tribalism?

NAVARRO: This is spectacle.


This is performative art, the same as what we saw yesterday, which was also spectacle when it came to the Gosar vote. I think it is Kevin McCarthy trying to exert himself, show himself as a leader, and that he is the opposition, that he is the opposition to the Democrats in the House.

Look, I'm impressed by his bladder control. He must have a healthy prostate.


NAVARRO: But, you know, at the end of the day, this is going to pass. Now, everything that Ron just said is in the bill now. We don't know what is going to end up in the bill once it goes to the Senate. And I just want to remind people how often and how many times we wrote the obituary for the bipartisan infrastructure deal.

And to Joe Biden's credit, he believed in the bipartisan aspect of it, and he had the patience to meet with Sinema, to meet with Manchin, to meet with the five senators, Republicans and five Democratic senators, and he was like the little engine that could, I think I can, I think I can, I think I can. And when the rest of us thought no, he can't, yes, he could.

So, you know, let's see how this process works itself out. It's not -- this is going to pass tonight, but it's far, far from a done deal.

BROWNSTEIN: They seem to have gotten even Sinema on board. I mean, we're really talking about Manchin at this point. And I think actually the things that I mentioned, that I talked about, I think those are going to be in the final bill. I mean, Manchin's objections are in different areas, and the real issue is whether he is ultimately willing to stand alone against literally every other Democrat.

I was talking to Tom Daschle about this recently. I mean, the idea -- what we're talking about is like, in many of these -- for example, the paid family leave provisions, which are probably among the most popular ideas in this, that you would get paid family leave for every worker in America, and Manchin alone is going to say no to that when literally every other Democrat in both chambers may be willing to do it.

NAVARRO: Have you met Joe Manchin?

LEMON (on camera): I want to get to this quickly because I think it is really important. This says everything. Ana, get your reaction to Trump's former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows appearing on a podcast hosted by Steve Bannon, who is, of course, under federal indictment for contempt of Congress. Watch this.


MARK MEADOWS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: I would love to see the gavel go from Nancy Pelosi to Donald Trump as -- you're talking about melting down. People would go crazy. As you know, you don't have to be an elected member of Congress to be the speaker. Wouldn't you see -- she would go from tearing up a speech to having to give the gavel to Donald Trump? Oh, she would go crazy.


LEMON (on camera): What is he trying to do? Because everything is not about, as you said, listening to it, it's about owning the libs. You know what I'm saying? What is that?

NAVARRO: First, I think he's trying to give Donald Trump some sort of role. I think he's trying to put Kevin McCarthy, give him a warning shot. I also think he -- you know, he wants to be in the company of the other deplorable. Remember when they used to be called the basket of deplorables? Now, they're called the basket of people who defy subpoenas from a congressional committee, which is both Bannon and Mark Meadows.

Frankly, I hope Mark Meadows keeps saying this very loudly and everywhere because it might get divided despondent Democrats to get energized and get engaged.

BROWNSTEIN: That is the point. It's very difficult for Democrats to hold the House in '22. Their best possible chance would be the idea that if they lose, Donald Trump would become the speaker.

LEMON: Good to see you both.

NAVARRO: That's exactly what you want, Donald Trump with a hammer in his hand. God help us all.


NAVARRO: By the way, it is -- this is the first time we're back on set in almost two years and it feels great. It feels great to see you in person. It feels great to have the staff here, the team, the crew, people manning the makeup department. It's a little bit of normalcy, and I'm so excited.

LEMON: Yeah. Everyone but our floor director, Kevin.


BROWNSTEIN: As long as you get on the subway.


LEMON: Thank you both. This country is on edge over big trials in Wisconsin and Georgia. Why the justice system is under a microscope and what it all says about America.



LEMON: The country paying close attention to two major trials in Wisconsin and Georgia. The jury in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial leaving after a third day of deliberation with no verdict. And in Georgia, the defense resting for three men charged in the murder of unarmed jogger Ahmaud Arbery. So, what do they tell us about where our country and our system, our justice system stand in 2021?

So, joining me now to discuss, Peniel Joseph, professor of history at the University of Texas at Austin, and Chris Stewart, a managing partner at Stewart Miller Simmons Trial Attorneys. So good to have both of you on. Listen, I haven't seen you in quite some time, Chris. So, thank you. Peniel, I've seen you more recently.


LEMON: It's been a while. Hello to both of you. Peniel, when you think of these cases, the Ahmaud Arbery murder trial, the Rittenhouse trial, do you ever ask if some of the roles were reversed, what would it be like?

PENIEL JOSEPH, PROFESSOR AT UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS, FOUNDING DIRECTOR AT CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF RACE AND DEMOCRACY AT THE LBJ SCHOOL OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS: Absolutely. And I'm reminded of the exoneration of two of the alleged killers of Malcolm X by the Manhattan D.A.'s office after 56 years. One had been released since 1985, Mr. Aziz. The other, Mr. Islam, was let go in 1987, but since passed in 2009.

But when we think about the unequal justice with Kyle Rittenhouse, just the grace that Kyle Rittenhouse received from the police in Kenosha in contrast to Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia is really remarkable.

LEMON: Chris, you make the point that Black people never get the benefit of the doubt in America. Talk to me about what you mean about that and how do you see that play out in our justice system now.


STEWART: Yeah. Well, good to be back, man. Missed you, buddy. You know, it's one of those situations where we are prejudged all the time. We don't get the benefit of the doubt that you're just simply jogging in a nice neighborhood. You know, you're casing it.

We don't get the benefit of the doubt that we're just shopping and we're not going to shoplift, or that we're lawfully carrying, as I do, as a Second Amendment advocate, but, you know, there may be something wrong.

Kyle Rittenhouse clearly got that benefit of the doubt and that's the dichotomy that we see playing out in these trials. As you know, I've been there in these cases. When I had Walter Scott, there was an air that we were fighting to prove he wasn't guilty, not that the cops were guilty.

Same thing with George Floyd, when I was there in court every day. We were fighting to prove George Floyd wasn't guilty of his own death. Same thing with Ahmaud Arbery. But with Rittenhouse, we see there's an air of innocence watching it and that's the best dichotomy.

LEMON: Yeah. And also, it being made out to be a hero in some corners, especially with some media. Chris, in the Ahmaud Arbery, in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, it wasn't until video surfaced that the three defendants were even arrested and faced charges.

For Rittenhouse, he was able to leave the scene of the shooting still armed, walk toward officers with his hands up. The police passed him without even arresting him. He was able to go home that night. What does that -- does that just sort of reinforce the point that you were making?

STEWART: Yeah, that's a perfect example. I mean, Ahmaud was unarmed, jogging, and was hunted down. But while Kyle could walk with an AR through crowds and not be stopped by anybody, you know, that would never happen if you're African-American. You're not going to walk through a crowd with a weapon. You're not even going to open carry for the most part because of fear of being judged or assumed that you're doing something wrong.

You know, it's just an ill that we could fix, but, you know, as time goes on, we'll start figuring out what unity is.

LEMON: Yeah. Listen, we know that the way forward is not always smooth, right? You have some hiccups. But Peniel, I have to be honest, it feels like -- you even wrote a book about it -- it feels like the country was at an inflection point a year ago amid the George Floyd protests, police reform and the talk of that and social justice. What do you think has happened? What's happened? Are we still there?

JOSEPH: Well, I think we're there but our democratic institutions are not, Don. And your book talks about this, and we talked about this a lot in the last year or so. I think what this shows is that casting a spotlight on the criminal justice system is going to be part of the solution, but it's not enough. We need to transform the criminal justice system from root to stem and that means judges, juries, prosecutors. We need to decarcerate. And we really need to give each other much more grace, meaning that law enforcement has to see Black people as human beings.

And we have to institutionalize the policies to get us there, because I think the sad part about Ahmaud Arbery is that, you know, this young Black man could be jogging unarmed in the United States and be killed by vigilantes, and this 17-year-old counterpart, Kyle Rittenhouse, can cross state lines armed and end up shooting three people, killing two of them, and become this hero of certain parts of the far right in the United States.

We need -- we need everyone to receive grace, right? We need Ahmaud Arbery to be alive, George Floyd, Sandra Bland to be alive. And I think what it shows us is that last year's racial and political reckoning, it's an important step but it's not enough, because until we can transform the way in which these institutions actually treat us so that these institutions have equity and equality and that we can survive and live and not be punished and face premature death, we're not going to have seen the change we want.

LEMON: Peniel, Chris, thank you. Gentlemen, be safe and be well. I'll talk to you soon.

STEWART: All right, brother.

LEMON: Just hours before he was set to be executed, Julius Jones granted clemency. His mother and best friend are here, next.



LEMON: Okay. I said last night and I'll say it again, you want to pay attention to this, a huge update to a story that we brought you last night. Oklahoma's governor sparing the life of Julius Jones just hours before he was scheduled to be executed for a murder that he says that he did not commit. Jones will have his sentence commuted to life in prison without the possibility of parole. He was on death row for nearly 20 years.

So, joining me now, Julius Jones' mother, Madeline, and his best friend, Jimmy Lawson. Hello, hello, hello to you. So, what do you think? How are you doing tonight?

MADELINE JONES, MOTHER OF JULIUS JONES: I'm sitting on top of the world.

LEMON: That's it? You're sitting --

JIMMY LAWSON, BEST FRIEND OF JULIUS JONES: Sitting on cloud nine. Such an amazing feeling. You know, we accomplished something that hasn't been done before. We saved a man's life today, right, just hours before they were trying to execute my best friend. So, you know, I always like to use the basketball analogy that the clock is running down, and man, we need one more bucket to get the win.


And what an amazing win today to actually see and feel the world and all the pressure that was paying attention to this case and then at the last minute we get that bucket and we saved Julius Jones's life today.

LEMON: The death sentence was commuted with just a few hours to spare. However, he's going to receive a life sentence but with no parole. So, what is next? The fight continues?

JONES: Oh, most definitely. We may rest for a moment, but the fight goes on. I was told that we have homework.

LEMON: Meaning?

JONES: Meaning that we will fight another day and we're going to keep going forward. We should not turn back.

LEMON: Did you hear anything personally, you know, from the governor?

LAWSON: No. He didn't reach out to us. We found out probably just like a little majority of the public by watching it on TV. So, that's kind of how we found out.

LEMON: The governor didn't even bother reaching out to you, the family? It just seems odd. Madeline?

JONES: Unreal.

LEMON: You say that you never lost faith and that you will continue to fight. What options, right? You said you have homework. What are your options, though?

LAWSON: You know, I think we have -- first of all, we have an amazing attorney team. Shut out to Dale Baich and Amanda Bass and all of the supportive group under them. They are amazing people, amazing professionals. There's no doubt we have not pulled what we pulled off today without their expertise and knowledge. So, they're coming up with an amazing game plan of what we can do going forward.

So, as Mama Jones said, you know, we've got a little time to rest, but we've got more work to do.

JONES: And also, I would like to shout out to Cece Davis-Jones. Jones-Davis. Sorry about that.

LEMON: This case drew widespread attention with many -- there were many high-profile people coming to his support. You believe that your best friend has been wrongly accused, Jimmy, and imprisoned for all these years. What about all the people who say that they're innocent who don't receive this attention? Who's going to stand up and fight for them, do you think?

LAWSON: You know, that's a great question because we're a living example of how powerful your voice can be. You know, my advice to the world out there, if you've got a friend or family member that you have to be a voice for, you have to do it. You have to be the single, single person that can save that person's life.

And we are a living example today of how powerful a voice can be. We had a whole world. We had a whole world watching today. That could not have happened, Don, if we didn't decide to stand up, have some faith over fear, and use the power of our voices.

LEMON: Ma'am, I'm going to give you the final thought here. Listen, you still -- you don't have your son with you, but he's still here. What are your final words?

JONES: Amen. That I have hope. I'm looking forward to the future. I know God is real. And we're pressing forward. And as he said, we're going to push. We're going to keep praying until something greater happens. And it's already begun.

LEMON: Thank you both. I appreciate it.

LAWSON: Thank you, Don, for having us.


LEMON: Thank you. Doctors warning of another COVID surge. The FDA and CDC talking about authorizing boosters for all adults. What you need to know before getting together with your family this holiday season, next.



LEMON: Coronavirus cases rising again as doctors sound the alarm over fears of another COVID wave. And as families travel across the country to gather for Thanksgiving, they are more than likely to find themselves in a high transmission area. That as we are awaiting word from the FDA on the approval for booster shots for anyone over 18.

Joining me now, CNN medical analyst Dr. Jonathan Reiner for our house call. Here we are, back to house calls. Honestly, I love seeing you, but I hope these house calls, doctor, are short-lived.


LEMON: Okay, good. So, the holiday is just around the corner. Getting colder. People are moving indoors. We're also waiting the big decision about this booster for people over 18. Given where we are right now in this pandemic, where do you see this going?

REINER: Oh, it's going up. Today, the United States is averaging 94,000 cases a day, up 33 percent in the last two weeks and it's going to continue to rise. We've been following what happens in Europe since the beginning of this pandemic. We've trailed by a few weeks the trends in Europe.

So, look at what's happening in Europe. Germany over the last couple of weeks has seen about an 80 percent increase in cases. And they have vaccinated about 10 percent more of their population than the United States --


LEMON: Let me put up the graphic for you, so you can speak about it. Vaccination rate is 68 percent. Ours is close to 59 percent. Today, Germany is seeing the highest case rate over the course of the entire pandemic.

REINER: So, we probably -- to get what we've been calling community, immunity or herd immunity, we probably need to vaccinate more than 85 percent of the United States population.

So, even though we have vaccinated a spectacular number of people in this country, over 200 million people, there's still over 100 million people, some of them kids, and that number should decline, but a lot of adults have refused to get vaccinated. And that's the dry tinder for this fire and that's who's going to get sick now.

The other piece of this is breakthrough infections, which are becoming more frequent the further we are out from second shots. The vaccine efficacy certainly does wane, we know that, not just for infections but also for serious illness. And I think that's why tomorrow, the FDA will approve boosters for everyone over the age of 18.

And what I've been saying for weeks, they should have done this months ago, but what I've been saying now for a while is that if you got your second dose of an MRNA vaccine more than six months ago or a J&J shot more than two months ago, you are not fully vaccinated now unless you've been boosted.

So, if you're looking to protect yourself and protect your family, get boosted. There's plenty of doses in the community. That's what we have to do. And the good news -- look at what's happening in Israel. Israel has boosted about 60 percent of its population and there have been three days this week where there have been no deaths in that country from COVID.

LEMON: Yeah.

REINER: And we can get there. We just have to follow their lead.

LEMON: I was going to ask you as a doctor what's your advice for people to prepare for Thanksgiving. I think you should -- you just gave some of it. But should everybody be at the table? And if you're going to be there you have to be fully vaccinated and boosted, right?

REINER: Yeah. So, I think -- well, ideally, yes. Now, it's a little late to be -- to get the full effect from the boost if you get it tomorrow, but if you're --

LEMON: You could be ready by Christmas.

REINER: -- and you'll definitely be ready by Christmas. But I think we should have a strategy that -- to borrow an old phrase, we should trust but verify. So, I think everyone needs to be vaccinated. And I think if you're having guests in your home, you and your guests should take an antigen test, do an antigen test. These tests are terrific. They're easy to do. You can get them at the local pharmacy. And they'll tell you with a high degree of precision whether you are infectious.

So, if you're looking really to protect the people you love, get vaccinated and then get tested the day you go to somebody's house. This way you know. I've been to two weddings in the last month. One really large wedding in Washington, then a small wedding in Florida. Both places required all the guests to be vaccinated and both required all the guests to be tested. And neither of these events was there a transmission of COVID.

LEMON: Yeah. I actually went to a big concert. Everybody, you had to show your vaccination proof and all those things and not a super spreader event because everybody -- there was a vaccine mandate there. Thank you very much. I appreciate it.

REINER: My pleasure, Don.

LEMON (on camera): NASA is preparing to launch a powerful new space telescope that it hopes will answer complex questions about the origins of our galaxy and the possibility of life on other planets. Now, the new CNN film "The Hunt for Planet B" provides a revealing look at the historic mission. Here's a preview.


UNKNOWN: Anyone wants to know why there's life out there. I guess because we're kind of a lonely species.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): When we started, we didn't even know if there were any planets beyond our solar system.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): In our own milky way galaxy, we have hundreds of billions of stars. Another earth is undoubtedly out there.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): This is the huge eye in the sky.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): It's going to see deeper into space than any other telescope in history.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): We have enough sensitivity to detect a child's nightlight on the moon.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): The point of looking out there for life is to realize just how valuable the life is we have here.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): We're betting on the fact that life can originate and evolve anywhere.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): What are we expecting to see?

UNKNOWN (voice-over): We have a lot more searching to do.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): The quest for another earth begins.

UNKNOWN: I think there's life out there. Can we find them in my lifetime? God, I hope so.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): "The Hunt for Planet B" premieres Saturday at 9:00.





LEMON: The top 10 CNN heroes of 2021 have been announced, one of whom will be named the CNN "Hero of the Year" by you. So, as you vote for a few weeks more, we're going to be reintroducing each of our top 10.


Since the start of the pandemic, people of color have been devastated by COVID-19, dying at a much greater rate than white Americans. One top 10 CNN hero saw what was happening in her hometown of Philadelphia. She is a pediatric surgeon who has built trust and is bringing testing and vaccinations to those in need. Meet Dr. Ala Stanford.


ALA STANFORD, CNN HERO: African-Americans were dying at a rate greater than any other group in Philadelphia. So, I jumped in. We were intentional about getting Black and brown communities the access and care they needed. Those who are the most vulnerable, they need to have the support.

UNKNOWN: I'm done. I feel great.

STANFORD: Just seeing folks come out day in and day out, their presence says everything.

Yes, and she is smiling!

There was all this narrative, Black people don't want the vaccine, but they were lined up. We had to earn the trust of the people. You know it's saving lives. The data shows it. I could not allow one additional life to be lost when I knew that I could do something about it. Everything we did was for them. To make sure they can get the care they deserve.


LEMON (on camera): Nice work there. Go to to vote for your favorite CNN hero of the year.

Thanks for watching, everyone. Our coverage continues.