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White House Warns There Could Be 100 Million Cases This Fall & Winter; Biden To Top National Security Team: Leaks About Intel Sharing With Ukraine Must Stop; Biden Announces More New Sanctions On Russia; Companies Boost Perks, Flexibility To Attract Employees. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired May 09, 2022 - 14:30   ET




ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: The White House has a warning: If Congress does not approve more money to fight COVID, 100 million Americans could contract the virus this fall and winter.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: That's the projection if no additional resources or extra mitigation measures are taken.

But the Biden administration wants at least $10 billion more for vaccines, testing, treatment and research to prevent future outbreaks.

Dr. F. Perry Wilson is an associate professor at Yale University School of Medicine. He is with us now.

Dr. Perry, welcome back.

Let's start with the current surge. Let's put up the map. We are seeing far more orange across the country in nearly every region. Some red showing 50 percent in the past week versus the previous week.


What is causing the surge that the country is living through now? Is this waning immunity?

DR. F. PERRY WILSON, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, YALE UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: Well, it's a combination of two things. One is, yes, waning immunity. We know that immunity from a prior infection lasts around four, five, maybe six months, so there are a lot of people who are getting susceptible again.

Of course, vaccine induced immunity, although some studies suggest might be more lasting, still doesn't last forever.

But the other thing we have is a new Omicron subvariant that is slightly different from the omicron that many of us were exposed to in January and February.

And all these different variants can potentially evade the antibody and immune responses that we've built up, up until now. And really that is what the administration is worried about coming down the pike.

Are these two things intersecting? Waning immunity and new variants is a recipe for more infections.

CAMEROTA: Here is another worrisome metric. Let me pull up the hospitalizations last week. So these are the latest -- this is the past week versus the previous week, this past week versus the previous week.

And if you look at the northeast there, so hospitalizations are up 10 percent to 50 percent, and a large percentage of people in the northeast have been vaccinated.

And the vaccines, you know, while we know they don't prevent infection, we have been told over and over that they do prevent hospitalizations and death.

So what's happening, Doctor?

WILSON: Well, for one thing, an outsized percentage of the people who are hospitalized are not vaccinated compared to the general population.

And so you've got in my area here 80 percent vaccination coverage, and yet only about half the people in the hospital are vaccinated.

So it is still protective, but certainly not as protective as it was in the initial phases, because these subvariants don't respond as well to vaccination.

The important thing here, also, to recognize is that testing for coronavirus is at nearly an all-time low. And the reason is people are testing at home through the use of all these rapid tests.

So I'm glad you brought up hospitalization. That's a metric that's so important. It is going up, which suggests that a lot more people than we know about are actually infected.

That pool of infected people is quite a bit larger than the daily numbers you get from CDC are telling you.

BLACKWELL: So what should happen now? Philly brought back its indoor mask mandate, I think it lasted four or five days before it was lifted again.

Should there be mandates? Should there be policy changes at the local and state level?

WILSON: Well, public health is the art of the possible. And so you can make any mandates you want, but the appetite of the public for ongoing pandemic restrictions is clearly low. We are in a state of pandemic fatigue.

But there are some things we can do. One thing I want to point out is that we have a big booster gap. Less than half of the people who are vaccinated have received a third booster and we know that is truly protective.

So when you look at those vaccinated in the hospital numbers, the vast majority who are vaccinated have only received two shots.

Those boosters are necessary. And right now. there's not enough money in the federal budget to provide boosters to everyone who might want to get them.

If we end up privatizing vaccination, the people who are going to get boosters and appropriately vaccinate are rich people. And if you want to exacerbate disparities during the COVID pandemic, that's exactly what you would want to do.

So we really do need to be able to provide these free of charge to people who need them, especially before additional variants come on board.

CAMEROTA: Dr. Wilson, thank you.


BLACKWELL: Any minute now, President Biden will sign a bill to help accelerate the transfer of weapons and military equipment to Ukraine. We'll take you live to the White House next.



ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Any moment now, President Biden will sign the Ukraine Lend-Lease bill. It's called the Democracy Defend Lend- Lease Act. And officials here have been telling me how crucial this is for them.

The bill unanimously passed the Senate last month. And it allows the U.S. to swiftly supply Ukraine with the weapons and military aid that Ukraine says it needs on request.

Meantime, a source tells CNN that President Biden is reacting to the leaks about intelligence sharing with Ukraine.

And CNN's Kaitlan Collins is at the White House for us.

Kaitlan, this has been crucial. All the intelligence saying that U.S. intelligence helped Ukraine target 12 Russian generals and target the Russian ship.

What are you hearing in terms of President Biden's reaction?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And remember last week how strongly the White House was pushing back on reports saying that they don't provide intelligence to the Ukrainians with the intent of helping them kill Russian generals.

That doesn't mean they don't provide intelligence that does in the end help the Ukrainian forces do that. But apparently, President Biden was so concerned about what was being

put out there about what the U.S. was sharing intelligence-wise with the Ukrainians, that he had three separate calls last week.

One with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, one with the CIA director, Bill Burns, and a third with the director of National Intelligence, Avril Haines.


Talking to them about the fact that this information is getting out there and it's being publicly reported what kind of intelligence the United States is sharing with Ukrainians.

And the president said he believed that was counterproductive to the ultimate U.S. goal with Ukrainians in helping them fend off the Russians.

And also said he believes the leaks need to stop, they need to come to an end, so they aren't disclosing what exactly the United States is sharing with Ukrainians.

I think one concern is how the Russians would respond to that given the level of information and, of course, given that we have seen Russian generals killed in action on the battlefield. You have seen the sinking of this Russian flagship.

All of those things, of course, that are not just the weapons they are sending to Ukraine that you were just talking about that's helping them, of course, but also the intelligence that they are providing them with on the battlefield.

BURNETT: Yes, absolutely.

So, Kaitlan, the president announced the U.S. and G-7 countries are issuing sweeping new sanctions against Russia. And I know they kept saying there's more on the table, more on the table and we're going to unleash that.

So what can you tell us about where we are now?

COLLINS: So they had this call yesterday with the G-7 leaders, President Biden. President Zelenskyy was also on that call.

Afterward, you saw the G-7 leaders recommit to this idea that they say that they want to move to end these Russian oil imports. That's what's been so critical, of course, and helps Putin so much.

But also the United States coming out with new sanctions, saying they're sanctioning three Russian TV channels. They are stopping Americans from being able to provide any accounting or consulting services to Russians.

They're also going after some executives at Gazprom, which is the Russian gas giant. They are sanctioning them for the first time. They made clear they are not sanctioning the Gazprom overall. They're

just going after some of the executives because they say they want to send a message that Gazprom is not a safe haven for them.


Kaitlan, thank you so much.

And, you know, Alisyn and Victor, to Kaitlan's point, it is amazing the U.S. has really had a step level of sanctions, one level, one level, one level.

For example, not yet sanctioning Putin's rumored girlfriend and they say the mother of some of his children, even though the E.U. has. They're waiting to step it up and step it up.

But as you hear Kaitlan saying, they're doing more of that today.

BLACKWELL: We'll see if they take that step.

Erin, thanks. We'll see you at the top of the hour.

CAMEROTA: OK. Back here, they say it's a workers' market and companies are upping their game to draw in applicants. We have details next.



CAMEROTA: A worker shortage at a Kawasaki plant has prompted the company to lure prospective employees with some very attractive incentives.

BLACKWELL: Flexible work hours, an hourly wage nearly triple the national average.

CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro traveled to Lincoln, Nebraska, to find out if the strategy is working.


EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Tell me about the job market right here in Lincoln. There are jobs all over the place. We want them to go --

JESSICA KELLY, WORKING MOM: Yes, everyone is hiring.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): Working parents like Jessica Kelly have their pick of jobs here. And what Jessica wants is a job that pays her bills and doesn't get in the way of a normal Wednesday morning.

At 7:30, daughter number one off to a student council meeting, 7:45, back home for daughter number two, and another school drop-off.

KELLY: Wow, the sunrise is beautiful this morning.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: And 8:00, finally, time for coffee.

KELLY: I can't be somewhere at 7:00 a.m. to start working or even 8:00 a.m. would be -- unless if I made other arrangements.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: She's had lots of jobs.

KELLY: I worked at a garden center. I worked at Dillard's --


KELLY: -- department store, I was there for nine years. I was a manager there. It was a pretty decent salary and I was working quite a lot of hours though, nights and weekends.

I love you. OK.

They're my kids and I just want to be there for them.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): This single mom may finally have found the job she's looking for thanks to this economic moment.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (on camera): If they didn't have this 9:00 to 2:00 shift and this $19 an hour wage, would Kawasaki have gotten you to walk in the door?

KELLY: No, no. No, I wouldn't -- that's the only thing that brought me in was when I saw that, I was like, oh, wow, that's a lot more than I'm getting paid at the garden center and its perfect hours.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): Kawasaki has been making things in Lincoln since the '70s.

BRYAN SECK, KAWASAKI CHIEF TALENT MANAGEMENT STRATEGIST: We made all the different lines of -- for the jet ski.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Lately, this factory has a problem, it needs more workers.

SECK: We needed to think about how can we find more people. If the folks who are available don't fit in the side of our normal shifts, let's think about how to be creative.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Bryan Seck says he had to recruit people who don't usually work in factories.

SECK: What we discovered was, we talked to the community, we talked to the schools. And they said, hey, what about a shift around the school schedule?

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: The factory had to figure out how to put them to work.

SECK: It is an engineering challenge to create a new assembly line with a new shift because it has to balance, it has to all work together.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: No evenings. No weekends. Steady hours.

(on camera): So, what job did you have before this job?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was working in a deli.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have two other jobs.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've been a stay-at-home mommy for 15 years.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): It's a big change for these people.

(on camera): There wasn't a lot of part-time employees here before, right? These are all new.


JOHN MCCARTER, ENGINE LINE SUPERVISOR: None, really. Until a few months ago.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (on camera): So, when you heard that was happening, what was the thinking?

MCCARTER: You know, a little apprehension.


MCCARTER: Just because it's something totally new. You wonder how it's going to work. If it's going to work.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: So, what have you learned?

MCCARTER: I've learned that there's a few that don't take it as seriously, but more do than I thought would.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): This is a time of low unemployment across the country. In Lincoln, it's even lower.

Employment experts say those numbers have given workers across the country and across job sectors, power to ask for what they want.

BRUSHAN SETHI, PEOPLE AND ORGANIZATIONS JOINT GLOBAL LEADER, PWC: Employers are looking for anything they can do to attract and retain their talent. Whether that's pay, working conditions. And flexibility, and working schedules are a big part of that.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (on camera): You do see that stretching into the future?

SETHI: If businesses have to make hard choices, those businesses that can actually try and protect jobs, increase their people's skills, increase their people's well-being will be better positioned as the economy turns. MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): Some workers on the line in Lincoln say they're definitely better positioned.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can go from here straight to my kids' daycare and school, pick them up.

SECK: We've got two things right away. The people who we hired were successful. People who wanted to come to work, do their job, learn, and then in turn train other people.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (on camera): But that's the bell, that's it?

SECK: That's it.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: So, when you hear that bell.

SECK: Yes.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: What comes to your mind?

SECK: We started something new here. We started something that's helping people be successful with their families.



BLACKWELL: A lot of happy people there.

Our thanks to Evan McMorris-Santoro for that report.

CAMEROTA: Meanwhile in Ukraine, the search for survivors continues after the Russians dropped a bomb on a school, killing dozens of people. We have a live update next.