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U.S. Congressional Delegation Makes Surprise Visit To Ukraine; Abortion Rights Advocates Holding Rallies And Marches Across U.S.; Sen. Rand Paul Blocks Bipartisan Effort To Quickly Pass Ukraine Aid; CNN's David Culver Makes First Trip Out Of China In 2.5 Years; Inflation Slams Small Businesses With High Prices; When Will Americans Feel Relief From Inflation?; Three American Deaths At Bahamas Resort Still Under Investigation. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired May 14, 2022 - 13:00   ET




FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. We begin with the coast to coast rallies that are happening right now marking a day of action for abortion rights.

Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to take part in over 200 events across all 50 states. The rallies are in response to a U.S. Supreme Court leaked draft opinion revealing a majority of justices poised to strike down Roe versus Wade.

And if overturned constitutional protections for abortion rights would likely be eliminated in 26 states where reporters covering this in several key locations today. CNN's Shimon Prokupecz is live for us in the nation's capital. Polo Sandoval is in New York and Nadia Romero is live for us in Atlanta. So, let's check in first at the nation's capital with Shimon Prokupecz. Shimon, what are you seeing?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So, thousands out here now Fredricka, as they listen to some of the speakers that have taking the stage -- the stage. Local politicians and other folks from Planned Parenthood here speaking to this crowd, really getting them fired back and then fired off. And then you can look around this entire crowd here as you see signs everywhere here for many of the people who have come here from all across the country.

Places like Seattle, and other parts of the West Coast. The people who drove here from Baltimore and from New York City. all wanting to be here to fight they say, as they begin what they say, a new phase in this fight. They are saying that they are fighting for abortion, access to concern being that many people who can't afford who are living in poverty, this will affect them the most.

And so many of them out here today, fighting -- voicing their opinion after the leak of this draft opinion. As you can see behind me here, this is the foot of the Washington monument. There are thousands even gathered back here. Later this afternoon in about an hour or so many of the people here will march to the Supreme Court where they will continue to rally.

WHITFIELD: All right. Shimon and the nation's capital. Thank you so much. So, Polo Sandoval is in New York where people have just began marching there and you're walking along with the crowd there. Make your way to the Brooklyn Bridge, then what?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Fred, this is a march that got started just minutes ago, just beyond the cameras and behind a large green banner is what can only be described as a large, passionate and really quite impressive group of people gathered here in downtown Brooklyn.

The plan is for them to go on about a mile and a half arch over the Brooklyn Bridge's symbolic gesture and then assembled in lower Manhattan where the message will be very similar to what we just heard some previewed by our colleague Shimon in Washington, D.C.

The message really twofold. Not only speaking out against that opinion, that was adjusted in that leaked Supreme Court memo. But also according to one individuals participated this group (INAUDIBLE) while ago, a man from Queens said it's also standing in solidarity with women in states that are historically not pro choice. So, I think that that's really a bulk of the message that we're getting here in New York State perhaps compared to what we're seeing in other places.

And it's a message that again, they hope the rest of the country here is so smart from Brooklyn to lower Manhattan. Just get started.

WHITFIELD: All right, Polo Sandoval. Thank you so much. We'll check back with you on -- to Atlanta now. And there's Nadia Romero, and it looks like the crowd has gathered there. What's happening?

NADIA ROMERO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Fred. Well, one of the big goals and what we're hearing from the speakers here is if say that abortion is still safe and legal in the southeast, even though we have some of the most restrictive abortion bans and laws across this part of the country.

Another big goal is to push for voter registration, not just every four years or every eight years when there's a presidential election, but in local elections and state elections to be involved to be active to know what's going on in your communities.

And so, I asked one of the organizers, why not put your energies, your efforts into preventing unwanted pregnancies and she said, well, number one, why someone might get an abortion is no one's business. That is a personal health care decision for that person to make. She then said to me that there are a lot of misconceptions that abortion is only linked to unwanted pregnancies. Take a listen.


LAUREN FRAZIER, DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS AND MARKETING, PLANNED PARENTHOOD SOUTHEAST: I actually spoke with someone who told me her story yesterday about the fact that she was pregnant. She wanted her child but at four months, there were complications. The umbilical cord, you know, was hanging out of her and she had to seek emergency care. Her only option was would have been to deliver a dead baby or to have abortion.


FRAZIER: I don't think that people are thinking about the full spectrum of reasons why someone may need to seek care.


ROMERO: And I also spoke with another woman who told me that she had a lot of issues with fertility, and that she was trying to have a baby, was very much pregnant and wanted to be pregnant, but that she had an abortion because it came down to her or the baby's life. Now she is the mother of four year old twins. But she says she wanted to make sure that other women, including her daughter, when she's older, has the right to access to care to that health care. Fred?

WHITFIELD: All right. Nadia Romero there in Atlanta. We'll check in with all of our reporters who are really dotting the map at so many of these rallies from coast to coast. All right, I want to bring in now actress, former talk show host and documentary filmmaker, Ricki Lake, who is joining me live now from the rally in Los Angeles. Ricki, so good to see you. So what does it mean to you to see so many supporters out at the rally there in L.A.?

RICKI LAKE, ACTRESS: I wish there were more actually thank you for having me. I'm here representing. I can't believe we're at this day. It's outrageous to me. But it's a big, big crowd. I, you know, I think back I was here in 2017 for the Women's March. And I -- we need more people. We need everyone out here representing that we need to fight for our right to it -- freedom, bodily, autonomy and freedom of choice.

WHITFIELD: And, you know, back in 2017, that women's rally was really about a host of things. Now, it -- the scope is much narrower with that leaked draft US Supreme Court opinion. When you heard of that draft, what were your thoughts? What were your worries?

LAKE: I mean, you know, for me, I've switched gears. My career is about educating women about their choices, their options and access, you know, I have a new documentary, the business of birth control, which is about access and choice. And, you know, I mean, I -- we heard this was coming down the pike, the fact that we're here to this day, and the fact that this leaked and the fact that so many people are fighting about this leak and not about this issue at hand.

And I am doing my small part to be here and to represent and to talk about how we need to have access and safe abortion for all who need it.

WHITFIELD: And who is the audience that you are really trying to speak to? Are you trying to reach members of Congress? When you speak there at the rally today, is it, you know, are there households that you're trying to direct your message to? Is it the U.S. Supreme Court justices that you want to hear you? LAKE: I mean, I think it's really women. Women need to have an uprise. You know, I mean, with my first film, the business of being born, you know, we really see the impact 14 years later of women having access to information so they can be empowered in their choices that they make when it comes to their bodies and their babies.

And it's the same theme. You know, I don't know whether this is going to reach the Supreme Court justices but I can reach the every woman that grew up with me years ago when I hosted this show.

And for that, I'm hoping to just speak my voice and hopefully empower women that this is not okay for all of us. And our daughters and our granddaughters. And so, I'm doing my small part today.

WHITFIELD: And is it part of, you know, empowering women to see the importance of what it is to vote that as early as this November, how they vote can directly make an impact on this issue or others as it pertains to women's reproductive rights?

LAKE: Absolutely. Yes, it comes down to all of us showing up and, you know, we've made it so hard in this country, particularly for women of color. Yes, we all need to do what we can to tell five friends who didn't, you know, who aren't registered to vote to get in the game and place your vote because it matters.

WHITFIELD: Can you express to me what you envision if Roe v. Wade is overturned? What do you think America is going to see and experience?

LAKE: I mean, I read The Handmaid's Tale in high school, and it's just the fact that that is now a reality. I mean, just -- I can't, you know, abortion is not going to go away. It's going to be safe access to abortion. Women will always have to make decisions that are -- that are impossible ones to make. But we need to have access for legal and safe abortion in this country for all women who need it.

WHITFIELD: Ricki Lake, thanks so much for being with us today. Good to see you. Thanks for joining us.

All right. Still ahead. We'll continue to watch these rallies getting underway. And of course, we'll bring you more as they continue to ramp up. See the growth of population at any number of these rallies across the country.

Plus, a surprise visit sent to Ukraine from a group of U.S. Senators as critical funding to Ukraine is delayed on Capitol Hill.


WHITFIELD: We'll discuss next.


WHITFIELD: A surprise visit to Kyiv, Ukraine from U.S. congressional delegation. The group led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell met with President Zelenskyy. No word on when the meeting took place or if the delegation is still in Ukraine. And the visit comes as Ukrainian forces continue their counter offensive in northeastern Ukraine around the region of Kharkiv. During the Russian pullback, there are at least three bridges that were damaged.

And you can clearly see the sections of the bridge. The bridges rather that were taken out. CNN Congressional Reporter Daniella Diaz is live for us on Capitol Hill. So Daniella, I mean this visit coincides with President Biden's push to get his aid package through Congress but Senator Rand Paul delayed until next week, right? Any kind of approval of that additional $40 billion to Ukraine. So, what's going on?


DANIELLA DIAZ, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Fred, Senator Rand Paul, that Kentucky Republican, very conservative, basically blocked that vote in the Senate. A fast-track process that both senate leaders, Senator Mitch McConnell and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer hoping would happen, he blocked it because he was hoping that a measure would be added to that $40 billion bill that would help Ukraine.

A measure that would create a special inspector general to oversee how the Ukraine military aid is spent. Now he was offered a vote on the amendment, but that was not enough for him. He wants that measure added to the underlying bill. So, the problem here is that the senate was unable to fast track that process vote on it, even though it's a bipartisan bill, very rare here on Capitol Hill. The majority of the Senate supports that legislation and it would pass.

So instead now Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is going through the process to file cloture on that legislation is going to take a few days. So fortunately for Ukraine and President Volodymy Zelenskyy that aid is not coming as quickly as they were hoping. You know, he actually put out a statement all the information that we've gotten from this delegation, from Republican senators that just visited Kyiv came from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

He put out a statement where he said he urged the Senate Republicans to pass that funding, that he really needs that $40 billion. But of course, Senator Rand Paul was not on that trip noticeably, and he was the one blocking that legislation. But of course, those two leaders, Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer continue to work on trying to pass that legislation as soon as possible to help Ukraine and it's already passed the House.

So, once it's passed in the Senate, which we expect to happen this next week, it will go to President Joe Biden's desk for signature just taking a little longer than of course, Ukrainian president wanted it. And of course, what -- who -- what senate leaders wanted as well. Fred?

WHITFIELD: So then one still has to wonder what were the conversations like with the senators and President Zelenskyy knowing about the delay in additional funding?

DIAZ: That's exactly right, Fred. And I do want to make clear that we still have no details from the U.S. senators that were on this trip. They have not provided any statements, any photos, any details. We have no idea whether they're back.

All the information we're getting on this trip is coming from Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his official office, he provided the photos. He posted on Instagram, that video that we were showing of him shaking hands with Mitch McConnell.

Still lots of comments that we're waiting for from those U.S. senators and whether we're -- they're going to debrief President Joe Biden, of course remember, just two weeks ago, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi led her own delegation to Ukraine and she debriefed President Biden. So, we are not sure yet whether these Republican senators are planning to do that. But it is notable and does show bipartisan support for Ukraine that the senators visited the country.

WHITFIELD: All right, Daniella Diaz on Capitol Hill. Thank you so much. All right. The crowds are beginning to gather across the country and the marches are getting started as well. Hundreds of thousands of abortion rights supporters are expected to attend all of these rallies today. A live report next.



WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back. We're continuing to monitor more than 200 abortion rights rallies today across all 50 states there in response to a leaked draft U.S. Supreme Court opinion that would strike down Roe versus Wade. CNN's Camila Bernal joining me live now from Los Angeles. And Adrienne Broaddus is following the event from Chicago. So Camila, you first. What's happening?

CAMILA BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Fred. So the event here just started about 20 minutes ago. These are the people in the front row. And at the moment we're hearing from Mayor Eric Garcetti right on the stage we just heard from the first lady of California Jennifer Newsom. And you're just seeing a crowd that is listening to these speeches, and standing by to do anything they can to support women having the right to an abortion.

Organizers expected about 50,000 people here. They say this was an event that was scheduled even before the draft opinion was leaked. But they said that after that leak, they begin ramping up their efforts to try to gather more and more people here. Organizers also telling me about the importance of California in their views because they say that women are already coming to California and will continue to come to California in order to have access to an abortion.

Remember here in the state of California an abortion is protected until the fetus is viable. And so, that's going to be key no matter what happens over the next couple of months. I talked to the founder of the Women's March Foundation. And here's what she told us.


EMILIANA GUERECA, FOUNDER, WOMEN's MARCH FOUNDATION: In Los Angeles and California, the fight is to help our sisters in Texas, in Georgia, in Missouri because we're safe in California. And we can't take that for granted because if no woman is safe across the country, how are we safe in California? So we take that personal to make sure that we fight for the other women across the country, fight with them for reproductive rights.


BERNAL: Now, Fred, they say the goal of all of this is to get people to the ballot box. They say they're going to fight and they will continue to hold these events for the next couple of months until they get what they want and what they want is the access to abortion. Fred?

WHITFIELD: All right. Camila Bernal in Los Angeles, thank you so much. On to Chicago now, Adrienne Broaddus is there. What's happening?


ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good afternoon, Fred. Similar scene here. I want to start by showing you the message demonstrators are trying to illustrate. There's a sign here that says, only the people can stop them.

And that's the message they want to send to the Supreme Court. Another sign says, we will not go back, as well as multiple signs across the plaza, talking about a post Roe world and they're saying no to it.

Over here, you'll see chains lying on the ground. This will be part of a visual demonstration that's going to take place late -- later. The organizer tells me that they want to break the chains. This after that leaked draft opinion by the Supreme Court. Behind us, you see some demonstrators have already started walking right here in the heart of downtown Chicago with their message.

They say they want to take this message from the street to the Supreme Court. And they're hoping the message that is sounded here, not only in Chicago, will be heard across the country and influence those who can make decisions. For those of you who are not familiar, earlier this week, the city's mayor Lori Lightfoot pledged nearly $500,000 to support reproductive health care here in the city of Chicago.

And the state's Mayor J. B. Pritzker back stat. He's even calling on the U.S. Senate to step up and defend women's rights. In Illinois, iIt's one of the most liberal states in the Midwest when it comes to abortion rights. Fred?

WHITFIELD: All right. Adrienne Broaddus, Camila Bernal, thanks to both of you. Appreciate it. All right. Still ahead. After 2-1/2 years on the front lines of the global COVID crisis, CNN's David Culver finally able to leave China's strict lockdown. His incredible journey next.



WHITFIELD: Officials in Shanghai, China, say the overall trend of daily COVID infections is improving. And the government is working on a plan to gradually reopen supermarkets, schools and transportation.

But they warn the city still needs to work hard to prevent a possible rebound in cases.

CNN's David Culver just left China for the first time in two and a half years and filed this report.


DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Leaving Shanghai today is a one-time one-way journey. I've not had this much freedom in 50 days.

(on-camera): But here we go, off to the airport.

(voice-over): Heading out for the first time since mid-March, it all feels so strange.

(on-camera): A few people you see out and about, most of them are, head to toe, in hazmat suits. As you look on the streets, the ropes are still blocking off a lot of the sidewalks. Stores basically all closed.

(voice-over): With a government-permitted driver, we pass through checkpoints, our documents thoroughly inspected, including a letter from the American embassy. Many expats like me needing diplomatic letters just to leave our apartments.

Once vibrant and rich with energy, Shanghai was forced into an induced coma.


CULVER: The rolling lockdowns began in mid-March. But by April, this city of more than 25 million people was under a strict, harsh lockdown. Most of us sealed inside our homes.

Community COVID tests after tests after tests, and in between, at-home COVID tests.

(on-camera): I've done quite a few of these.

(voice-over): Early into the lockdown, I packed to go-bag for me and for my dog. If I tested positive, I'd likely end up at a government isolation center like this, or worse, like this.

Most of us would prefer just to recover in the privacy of our home. But in China's zero-COVID world, that is not an option.


CULVER: Shocking scenes of people shouting, "We are starving. We are starving."

(SHOUTING) CULVER: Heartbreaking stories of people being rejected medical care, some of them later dying, all because hospital workers feared breaking unforgiving zero-COVID protocols.

Witnessing Shanghai's handling or mishandling reminded me of Wuhan. On January 21, 2020, we traveled into the then-epicenter of what was a mystery illness.

(on-camera): It's the wildlife and seafood market.

(voice-over): Still fresh in our minds, the perseverance of those in Wuhan who lived through the original lockdown. Some losing loved ones to COVID early on.

(on-camera): Just give him a second.

(voice-over): They risked their freedom to share with us their painful stories, furious with their government for not doing more to stop the initial spread.


CULVER: Chinese officials maintain they were transparent from the start. And in recent days, President Xi Jinping has reaffirmed and praised his country's zero-COVID efforts vowing to fight any doubters and critics.

Over the past two years, we've lived through China's military like mobilization, rapidly building hospitals, mastering mass testing of tens of millions at one time, designing a sophisticated contact- tracing system, essentially sealing off their borders to the outside world.

(on-camera): Sure. Mic check, one, two, three.

(voice-over): Wanting to keep on this story, I have not left China since 2019. Making this departure a long overdue homecoming visit.

Shanghai's Pudong International Airport, once among the busiest in the world, is now a lonely experience.


On the departures board, only two international flights slated to leave on this day.

On the floor, sleeping bags and trash where stranded travelers have camped out. They wait here for days or weeks for a flight out.

Outside on the tarmac, strict COVID protocols and sanitation in place, ground crews spraying each other with disinfectant.

Boarding the near-empty plane, it finally starts to feel real.

(on-camera): Now the take off.

(voice-over): The disorder --


CULVER: -- despair, the chaos, the anger, the exhaustion --


CULVER: -- all of it feels so distant now.

With a sigh of relief and a bit of survivor's guilt, leaving behind a country amidst almost unprecedented changes, I wonder if China's tightening zero-COVID restrictions, coupled with rising tensions with the West, will keep its shuttered doors from ever reopening.


WHITFIELD: Wow. That is an incredible reality check.

Thank you so much, David Culver.

All right. Still ahead, you see it right here -- food, clothes, transportation, gas -- it is a long list. Things in every part of our lives are costing so much more than they used to. We'll talk about when Americans could see some relief, next.



WHITFIELD: As inflation drives up prices, small businesses with tight profit margins are finding themselves at the thin edge of the wedge.

CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich has more.


VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS & POLITICS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What is a French fry without a side of ketchup?


YURKEVICH: For Clodagh Lawless, owner of The Dearborn Restaurant in Chicago, it's a huge cost savings.

LAWLESS: Let's say we do 200 covers and 100 of them want an extra ketchup, that's 20 cents, 25 cents, which doesn't seem like a lot. And multiply that by a week, by a year.

YURKEVICH: Ketchup and nearly every other ingredient used at The Dearborn has become more expensive in the last year. Inflation is pushing meat prices up 13.9 percent, butter up 16 percent, and eggs up a whopping 22.6 percent. Big increases for small businesses.

LAWLESS: I thought, at this stage, that we would be in a better position financially. But it's been very difficult, mainly because of where we're at right now with inflation. YURKEVICH: But some good news perhaps. Prices rose just 0.3 percent

last month. And food prices rose less than 1 percent. With energy dropping 2.7 percent. But an 8.3 percent year-over-year inflation still stings.

LAWLESS: We're still reeling financially, to be honest, from the effects of being closed for -- on and off for two years during COVID.

YURKEVICH: And despite a strong jobs report adding 428,000 jobs in April, small businesses lost 120,000 jobs.

Even with restaurateurs like Lawless raising wages, it's often still not enough in the fierce competition for workers.

LAWLESS: We are seeing a lot of people starting with us for two or three days and then going somewhere else where they can get $2 or $3 more an hour.


YURKEVICH: Salon owner, Michaella Blissett-Williams, isn't losing employees but she can't find more. She's also trying not to pass her increased cost to customers just yet.

(on camera): What are you experiencing price increases on here as it relates to the salons?

BLISSETT-WILLIAMS: Oh, everything from gloves to foils. Things that we need to do the service have definitely gone up. And now just with inflation, it's just some products are double digits.

YURKEVICH: What does that mean for your bottom line?

BLISSETT-WILLIAMS: Less profitability. It's a Catch 22. It's either less profitability or lose business.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): She's banking on inflation continuing to cool, especially as she renovates two of her salons. Construction costs are up 11.7 percent on average in the last year.

BLISSETT-WILLIAMS: Doubling the price of a renovation, not doing price increases, it eventually adds ups. And that's when it feels very overwhelming.

YURKEVICH: Back in Chicago, Lawless says she's waiting to turn a profit again. With already slim margins, higher costs have made that an impossibility.

LAWLESS: I thought there was a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel. And really it just depends on how long that tunnel is.

Vanessa Yurkevich, CNN, New York.


WHITFIELD: And joining me now to talk more about inflation is David Kelly. He is the chief global strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management.

David, so good to see you.


WHITFIELD: We need some good news from you. Everybody does.

So we just heard from a small-business owners who were hopeful that inflation will begin to cool. Should they be that optimistic?

KELLY: Well, it will. It is going to take a little longer. We were hoping that it would be cooling now. But this year, we got hit by the war in Ukraine, we got hit by outbreaks of COVID in China, and that is slowing the improvement here.

I do think -- right now, you said inflation is 8.3 percent year-over- year. I believe that a year from now it is going to be about 4 percent. So we'll see some improvement. But it is a long tunnel.


And I think for small business owners, you got to have the nerve to actually increase your prices. You have to say, look, I'm providing a really good service but my costs have gone up so I'm going to have to push up my prices.

A lot of businesses have gotten away with that. They actually have to do that in order to survive in many cases.

WHITFIELD: So while you're hopeful that, right now, it's 8 percent, that it'll going down to 4 percent. What is it going to take to lower inflation?

KELLY: Well, I think we have to understand what caused this. What caused this is we had a global supply chain problem because of COVID. And then we piled demand in the U.S. economy.

Between this administration and the last administration, we ran budget deficits the last two years of $6 trillion combined. That is a massive amount of money, a massive amount of demand going into an economy with not enough supplies so, of course, prices go up.

But the good news, I suppose, is that the deficit is coming down a lot this year. It's going to be less than a trillion dollars we believe. So as that demand comes out -- it is painful for people losing money, but as that demand comes out, that will I think cause inflation to ease.

So I think it will ease any way, but slowly.

WHITFIELD: According to AAA, gas prices just hit another record high today. The average gallon of gas is now $4.45 a gallon. That up from $4.07 a month ago and $3.04 a year ago.

I know I felt it when I filled up yesterday. I was like, wait a minute, why did it get so high? And it was high the week before that.

So how do high gas prices impact consumer spending overall? And how does it impact the economy? Are people having to make choices about pain -- I'm not going to fill up my tank. Maybe it is only half and then I have to put my money or resources elsewhere?

KELLY: Or you cut back elsewhere. We are seeing that.

I think, as you wedge into the new year, particularly as the child tax credit expired, and you have these high gasoline prices, we actually saw the first-quarter spending on food and real spending on clothing fell in the first quarter.

To me, that is a real sign that people at the bottom and the middle are struggling here. And high gas prices are part of it.

The one silver lining on this is that we are self-sufficient in oil right now. So the money consumers are losing, at least it is staying in the economy.

At least it's actually going into the hands of producers who will ramping up and are ramping up shale oil production. So it not only helps with supply but also keeps the money within the economy and stops it from going overseas.

That is one positive today relative to gas shocks we've seen in the past.

WHITFIELD: And then what is your forecast on what will happen with the nation's supply chain current problems? When will we, you know, turn the corner?

KELLY: Well, I think it will happen reasonably fast. Within the United States, it going to happen pretty quickly. I think some of the overseas stuff is a little bit more difficult.

But just as one example, the number of people working in transportation warehousing is now up 12 percent than from before the pandemic. So we're hiring truck drivers as fast as we can. And that will deal with the problem over time.

High prices do tend to fix themselves because, if people get paid a lot to do a job, more people flock into it.

I do you think that is temporary. But it is very painful obviously for people dealing with it today.

WHITFIELD: Yes. I mean, I'm still seeing empty store shelves. And it is not just about the empty store shelves of baby formula. But a host of items are still just not there in the stores.

KELLY: Yes. The pandemic just disrupted consumption patterns so much. But businesses just couldn't compete. In fact, everybody is just trying to be flexible until this problem is gone.

It may be next year when this problem is really sort of faded. WHITFIELD: Wow. We have to pack a lot of patience.

All right, David Kelly, good to see you. Thanks for joining us.

KELLY: Any time.

WHITFIELD: And this quick programming note. In a new episode of the all-new CNN original series, "NOMAD," with Carlton McCoy, he returns home to Washington, D.C., and discovers a new side of the capitol.


CARLTON MCCOY, HOST, "NOMAD": My neighborhood was a tough place to grow up in but there was a lot of positives. We had a strong connection to our community and culture. And part of that enjoying D.C.'s signature dishes.

D.C. Smoke House has some of the city's best.

(on camera): So this is a very D.C. thing.

NATALIE HOPKINSON, PROFESSOR, HOWARD UNIVERSITY & FOUNDER, DON'T MUTE D.C.: D.C. food is very American. But it is also influenced by every part of black diaspora. That is what makes it delicious.

MCCOY (voice-over): That is Natalie Hopkinson. She's a go-go scholar and pioneer of Don't Mute D.C., an organization dedicated to keeping black culture alive in the city.

(on camera): It is ground more course than a normal sausage. There's more texture and a ton of spices. And it is smoked.


MCCOY: And it is super unique to hear.

And how do you have something this delicious and nobody knows about it.


HOPKINSON: And nobody knows about it.

That's part of the chocolate city, I think. One those things is the beautiful, delicious chocolate bubble that is D.C.


WHITFIELD: Yummy. Sign me up.

All right, be sure to tune in to an all-new episode of "NOMAD," with Carlton McCoy. That airs tomorrow at 10:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific, right here on CNN.



WHITFIELD: All right. More than a week later and it's still a mystery. Police continue to investigate the puzzling deaths of three Americans who were vacationing at the Great Exuma Resort in the Bahamas.

CNN's Jason Carroll has more.


JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These two picturesque beachfront villas in the Bahamas likely hold answers as to what killed three vacationers last week and nearly took the life of another.

Michael and his wife, Robbie Phillips, were from Tennessee and own a travel agency. Robbie's travel blog says their agency was preferred by Sandals Resorts. And she appeared to actively promote their properties.

Vincent Chiarella and his wife, Donnis, were from Florida. The two couples were not vacationing together. The Phillips were staying in one villa at Sandals Emerald Bay. The Chiarellas, in the neighboring one. Both villas share a common wall and have separate entrances.

Last Thursday, police say the couples ate at separate restaurants at the resort and settled in for the evening.

(on-camera): That night, police say both couples were not feeling well. In fact, they felt so sick, they had to be treated at a local medical facility. Their symptoms included nausea, and vomiting. At one point, they felt well enough that they could return here at the resort.

The next morning, police got an emergency call from the staff here at Sandals, saying that they had found an unresponsive male in one of these villas.

Then another call saying the staff had also found an additional unresponsive male and female in a second villa located right next door.

(voice-over): In the first villa, police found Vincent Chiarella lying on the floor and he was pronounced dead. His wife, Donnis, was alive and transported to a hospital in Miami, where, as of Monday, she was in fair condition.

Her son said this: "She woke up and my dad was laying there on the floor. Her legs and arms was swollen and she couldn't move. And she screamed to get someone to come in the door."

In the neighboring villa, police found Michael Phillips slumped against a bathroom wall. His wife, Robbie Phillips, was found still in bed. Both were pronounced dead.

(on-camera): So the question is, what happened? Police say foul play is not suspected. And they say the deceased showed no signs of trauma. But they say two of them did show signs of convulsions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's sad. And it's still a mystery, a scary mystery.

CARROLL (voice-over): This woman says she used to work at Sandals as a housekeeper for five years. She did not want us to use her name or show her face because she says she still has family and friends who work there.

(on-camera): What do you think happened?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I don't think its food poisoning or anything like that. Because like I said, if it was food poisoning, the whole establishment would have been sick. Not just those four guests.

They're roomed side to side. So whatever happened in their room. They using one water heater, one A.C.

CARROLL (voice-over): Investigators say they have collected several samples from the premises to try to determine if any chemicals were present.

(on-camera): When asked if poisoning could have been a factor from, say, a faulty air unit in one of these villas or pesticides could have played a role, the Royal Bahamas Police Force spokesperson referred us to comments that the commissioner had made at a press conference earlier this week.

PAUL ROLLE, COMMISSIONER, ROYAL BAHAMAS POLICE OFFICER: We have collected several samples from the premises there. And the forensic examination should be able to help us to determine what type of -- whether or not there was a chemical or whatever it was. We're hoping that that will be able to answer for us.

CARROLL (voice-over): The former Sandals housekeeper we spoke to says she was surprised Sandals has continued to stay open while an investigation into the cause is still ongoing.

While we were there, resort guests appeared to be staying at a villa near where the Chiarellas and the Phillips had stayed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I just pray and hope that they get to the bottom and find out exactly what happened.

CARROLL (voice-over): Sandals released a statement saying the resort is "working to support both the investigation as well as the guests families in every way possible, but could not disclose further information."

Information two families are now waiting on.

Michael and Robbie Phillips' daughter said this, "Our hearts are grieving and broken but full of hope. We know our mom and dad are experiencing the fullness of joy in our Heavenly Father's presence."

(on camera): In terms of the investigation, autopsies were performed on Monday. Authorities here are still awaiting toxicology and pathology reports and are working with a lab in Philadelphia.

When all is said and done, authorities here say, it could be weeks before an official cause is known.

Jason Carroll, CNN, the Bahamas.



WHITFIELD: Hello again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredericka Whitfield.

And we begin this hour with this top story, the coast-to-coast rallies happening right now marking a day of action for abortion rights. Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to take part in the events across all 50 states.