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Fifteen-Year-Old Drives Herself, Others Through Russian Fire To Safety; White House Warning Of COVID Surge In Fall; Oath Keepers Providing Info To 1/6 Investigations; Dry, Windy Conditions Fuel New Mexico's Second-Largest Fire Ever; Three Americans Found Dead, One Sickened At Resort in Bahamas. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired May 09, 2022 - 13:30   ET




ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Right now, first lady, Jill Biden, is heading back to the White House after her surprise visit to Ukraine.

In a major show of support, she met with Ukraine's first lady. You see Mrs. Biden giving her a bouquet of flowers. She gave her a big hug. As well as the two visited a school that is now serving as housing for displaced Ukrainians, including 48 children.

This moment marked the first public appearance of President Zelenskyy's wife since the invasion began.

And Mrs. Biden shared this message with her on Mother's Day.


JILL BIDEN, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: I thought it was important to show the Ukrainian people that this war has to stop. And this war has been brutal. And that the people of the United States stand with the people of Ukraine.


CABRERA: We turn now to another remarkable story of courage and grit in Ukraine. A 15-year-old girl drove herself and others through Russian gunfire to safety. And she did it while injured and bleeding. She is now recovering in Lviv.

CNN's Isa Soares has more on her incredible we have more on the incredible determination to not only survive but help others.


ISA SOARES, INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT & ANCHOR: This is yet another example of defiance, no matter the age.

This is coming from the east of Ukraine, not so far away from the village where we saw on Saturday 90 people sheltering in the school that was reduced to rubble. We're now learning 60 people most likely dead.

It was within the backdrop on the intensity of battle that Anastasia showed heroism.

SOARES (voice-over): This is the face of bravery. Meet 15-year-old Anastasia, a courageous and defiant teenager now recovering from her injuries in Lviv.

"What about your legs," the nurse asks her.

"They came under fire," she replies.

As her hometown of Popasna was pummeled by Russian artillery, she wanted to help two wounded men get to a hospital.

"The help was urgently needed so as not to lose a lot of blood," she says. So, she picked up the car keys.

"And I had to get behind the wheel," she says.

They made their way across the bridge desperate to get to a hospital in Bakhmut.

"We have a bridge and we had mines then at checkerboard pattern. There was no way to get through, but I somehow made it. And further along there was the corpse of a woman," she says.

Worse was to come. A burst of machine gunfire raked the car.

"I was driving the car and then the Russians fired on us," she says. "When they started shooting, the car stopped, and then I started the car again and drove on."


SOARES: Even though she was injured and bleeding, time was running out.

"The car stalled because the battery was shot through by a bullet."

By then, Ukrainian soldiers were on hand to rescue Anastasia and her passengers.

Now, they're all recovering, thanks to the courage of a very young driver.

SOARES (on camera): And Ana, this young lady has gone through so much already. She lost her mom not so long ago. But it was her mother who taught her how to drive when she was seven years of old.

Here you have a true hero, an act of heroism with Anastasia putting herself on the line to help other civilians -- Ana?


CABRERA What an amazing teenager. Isa Soares, thank you so much for that report.

I just want to put a button on a story we brought to you last bloc. President Trump has responded to a few of the allegations made by former defense secretary, Mark Esper.


In a statement to CBS, he says, "Mark Esper was weak and totally ineffective. And because of it, I had to run the military." That's a quote.

In response to Esper saying he suggested shooting protesters, Trump says, "This is a complete lie. And 10 witnesses can back it up." But he doesn't provide the specific witness names.

Act now or pay for it later. The White House warning about a COVID surge this fall if we don't prepare for it.

Stay with us. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.



CABRERA Officials tell CNN the president will deliver remarks and participate in a global COVID-19 summit on Thursday.

This follows a grim projection from the Biden administration. The U.S. could potentially see 100 million infections this fall and winter.

But the White House COVID response coordinator says that doesn't have to become the reality.


DR. ASHISH JHA, WHITE HOUSE COVID-19 RESPONSE COORDINATOR: Whether that happens or not is largely up to us as a country. If we can prepare, and if we can act, we can prevent that.

But we're going to need Congress's help. And that's one of the key messages here is we need the resources to fight that battle so we don't have that kind of a fall or winter.


CABRERA CNN's senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, joins us now.

Elizabeth, to those who may be thinking, I'm vaccinated and boosted and perhaps maybe I've another infection, this doesn't apply to me. Explain, why does this matter for everyone?

DR. ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, Ana. If that's the way you're thinking, you need to change your thinking. Unfortunately, these three shots that you got, it may have been months

and months ago, and that immunity may have waned. And you may be asked to get a shot in the fall, even if you also had COVID at some point over the past two years.

So having those three shots is good. It may have saved your life. It may have saved other people's lives. But it may not protect you this fall and winter.

So let's take a look at what the White House is projecting for the fall and winter. As you mentioned, they're projecting 100 million potential additional infections.

And remember, with that huge number. Sure, some of them are going to be mild. But some of these people are going to end up in the hospital, the more cases, the more hospitalization. That assumes that a huge number assumes that no extra mitigation measures are being taken.

So there are things that we can do so we won't hit that 100 million number. We can already see kind of the beginnings of this in the past week hospitalizations have gone up 12 percent.

Now, I want to show you that in a slightly different way. Let's take a look at the map of the United States. This represents hospitalization increases over the course of the first week of April, from April 1st to April 9th.

Focus on the red states. There's only six of them. In the first week of April, we were only seeing six states with increases in hospitalizations. That is good. That's the right direction.

But take a look at this. The first week of May we are seeing 24 states that are red. Increases in 24 states. So what you can do is, you can do on the CDC's Web site. They have a county map. If your county is in red, that means that the CDC says you should be wearing a mask indoors.

CABRERA That's a good reminder that this isn't over.

My kid's schools, both classes have had increase in cases there. We all know people who I think have been infected recently.

Elizabeth Cohen, thank you for that update.

January 6th investigators are now getting information from a source you might not expect, from leaders of the far-right extremist group, the Oath Keepers.

According to multiple sources, leaders of this group have been sharing information with the FBI about their efforts to overturn the 2020 election. They've also turned over phones and digital files.

Attorney Kellye SoRelle, Stop the Steal organization, Ali Alexander, and Oath Keepers leader, Stewart Rhodes, are among those providing information, we've learned.

CNN crime and justice reporter, Katelyn Polantz, joins us live.

Katelyn, how significant is this, and what more are you learning about the kind of information authorities are getting from the Oath Keepers?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN CRIME & JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, Ana, this just shows how sweeping and active this investigation is that there's a massive amount of data that the Justice Department is collecting as they're prosecuting the Oath Keepers and continuing on.

They're getting information directly from firsthand witnesses. They're also getting lots and lots of digital data. Hundreds of thousands of text messages, for instance.

So you mentioned Ali Alexander, Kellye SoRelle, Stewart Rhodes as people providing information to the Justice Department or who were, at least in Rhodes'' case, before he was arrested for conspiracy.

There's also eight criminal defendants in the Oath Keepers' case or related to the case, who have signed up as cooperators. They're providing information.

We also learned last week in court that there's an informant who turned over a recording of a key call that prosecutors have said is evidence of Rhodes' obstructing the vote or at least planning to obstruct the vote on January 6th.

On that call, Kellye SoRelle was a speaker, according to a transcript we have, and she brags about her communication with the Trump campaign at that time.


CABRERA: And Katelyn, quickly, does this suggest the scope of the investigation is changing in any way?

COLLINS: It does, actually. Essentially, it shows us that it's expanding in a way that is roping in the Oath Keepers' potential contact with people in political circles or their interest in reaching Donald Trump directly -- Ana?

CABRERA OK. Kaitlan Polantz, you are all over this. Thank you for your reporting.

A vacation mystery at a resort in the Bahamas. Three Americans are dead. Another was airlifted to a hospital. Where this investigation stands, next.



CABRERA: There's little to no chance of firefighters gaining control today of the monster Hermit's Peak/Calf Canyon Fire burning in New Mexico. Officials say the incredibly dry and extremely windy conditions currently fueling it could only lead to more, quote, "extreme behavior and rapid spread." This fire is already the largest in New Mexico's history and has been

described as a, quote, "nightmare.'

CNN's Lucy Kafanov is joining us from Las Vegas, New Mexico.

Lucy, what is happening where you are right now? Clearly, it's super windy.

LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, you can see just how strong and powerful these winds are. Nightmarish weather conditions for the firefighters battling the blaze.

Winds predicted to go up to 55 miles an hour in some areas. And this is significantly limiting the use of air resources like those much- needed helicopters that are able to do water drops. Some of those are grounded at the moment because of these wind conditions.

Now, as you point out, this is the second-largest wildfire in New Mexico's history. It is affecting thousands of people, thousands of homes. Nearly 190,000 acres scorched, 43 percent contained thus far.

An official I spoke to said the number of people affected is a largely moving target because of the unpredictable conditions in this fire.

We know about 12,000 homes are under mandatory evacuation order, but the official said we don't know how many people are living in those homes, how many of those homes are vacation properties and, frankly, how many are heeding orders to get out.

Officials did tell me that they are expecting significant fire activity and fire growth today, both in the north part of the fire area, as well as the south.

And again, everything depends on these wind conditions. Nearly everyone in this part of New Mexico is affected in one way or another, Ana, and it is still early yet in the fire season -- Ana?

CABRERA Right, it's just the beginning of May, just barely into springtime right now.

Lucy Kafanov, stay safe. Thank you for the update.

Now to the mysterious deaths of three Americans in the Bahamas and a fourth who was hospitalized. The victims were all staying at the same Sandals Resort. One woman, who had to be airlifted, is being treated back in the U.S.

Let's get to Polo Sandoval who is following the story.

Polo, do investigators have any theories as to what may have happened?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ana, just in the last hour, we heard from the head of the Royal Bahamas Police saying it's too early to establish the cause of death for these three people. That will have to come after autopsies are performed later today. In the meantime, they did publicly identify those two couples that

were affected by this. The first identified as Michael and Robbie Phillips, both in their mid-60s. This is a couple that was pronounced dead in one of the villas there at the Sandals Resort in the Bahamas.

At a nearby villa they found Vincent Chiarella and his wife unconscious. Mr. Chiarella was pronounced dead at the scene. She was hospitalized over the weekend and then transferred to a hospital in Miami where we're told she continues to recover right now.

Obviously, what she has to say to investigators, the blood that is drawn from her, will be crucial here, as there were no signs of any sort of foul play. That was immediately ruled out.

Now, they're taking a good hard look at the facility itself, at the hotel where they were staying. We do understand the hotel is certainly cooperating with investigators.

But one of the key pieces of evidence that we heard before and just heard again from investigators in the last hour is not two but all of them had reported feeling sick, vomiting and experiencing some nausea the days leading up to the discovery of these three individuals.

And, of course, that fourth individual that was sick and still recovering right now. They were treated and then allowed to return to their lodging.

So as you can imagine, there's a big question right now about what the circumstances were there.

We understand that samples have been taken from the villa. And autopsies will be performed later today on those three victims. And that in the next week is what authorities say may tell them a little more.

But for now, they say -- or at least investigators are calling this an isolated incident, so are health officials as we wait to try to find out more.

But this is certainly getting the attention of many around the world as it is certainly a very popular tourist destination.

So it's not just puzzling, Ana, but it's also extremely heartbreaking for the families of these couples.

CABRERA Polo, did you say that that resort is now closed?

SANDOVAL: We did not get any indication that the entire resort was closed. However, the villa where it happened, police did say that it's still roped off and they're obviously not allowing guests to stay there, at least right now.

CABRERA We're going to stay on it and get some answers

Polo Sandoval, thank you.

SANDOVAL: Thanks, Ana.


And finally, before I leave you, I have to say a quick congratulations to my senior producer, Robert Auoad. He and his wife, Lauren, just welcomed this beautiful baby boy on Friday.

There's little Roman, weighing in at seven pounds 12 ounces. We're told so far he's very laid back. Whether it stays that way, of course, is TBD.

Dad says big sisters, Monet and Bella, are obsessed. And both Roman and mom are doing great. How beautiful. Wonderful, beautiful boy. Congratulations to everyone.

Robert, we are so happy for you and your fam. Enjoy your time together.

That does us for us today. I'll see you back here tomorrow, same time and place. Until then, you can always follow me on Twitter, @AnaCabrera.

The news continues after a quick break.