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Dems Near Historic Win With Sweeping Climate, Tax And Health Bill; Interview With Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD); Jury Tells Alex Jones To Pay Sandy Hook Families Over Lies; Election Deniers Take Victory Lap At CPAC After Primaries; FDA Considering Smaller Dose To Increase Vaccinations As People Stand In Long Lines For Shots; Biden Tests Negative For COVID-19 Following Rebound Case; Israel Airstrikes In Gaza Kill 17, Including Islamic Jihad Leader. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired August 06, 2022 - 15:00   ET



JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Jim Acosta in Washington.

After more than a year of debate and delays, a major part of the Biden agenda is on the brink of becoming reality. Right now the senators are in the process of passing the Inflation Reduction Act, as it's called. In the face of fierce Republican opposition, the bill was given new life this week by Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema who offered party leaders her support in exchange for new tax proposals.

If it passes it would be the biggest legislative climate investment in U.S. history and make major changes to health policy.

CNN congressional correspondent Jessica Dean is up on Capitol Hill for us.

Jessica, earlier in the week this was about getting Kyrsten Sinema on board but now Senator Bernie Sanders says the bill does not go far enough. What does that mean?

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he certainly represents the further left of the Democratic Party and look, wrangling all 50 of these Democratic senators has been no small feat. As you mentioned, getting Senator Kyrsten Sinema on board, getting Senator Joe Manchin on board. We do know, I talked to -- we talked to Senator Sanders a little bit ago, he wants to offer some amendments.

But ultimately we do believe that this bill will move forward, Jim. The question is just when. This is a very, very lengthy, complex, tedious process that they are using, a very specific budget process that they're using to get this bill through.

Let me tell you a little bit about what's actually in this bill. There are a lot of climate provisions, about $369 billion worth of climate provisions. It represents the biggest climate investment to come out of the U.S. Senate ever. They are hoping that it will reduce carbon emissions by about 40 percent by 2030. There's also some tax incentives in there to kind of push renewables among other things. There's also some health care components in here. It would allow

Medicare to negotiate the price of some drugs, about 10 drugs by the year 2026, and then extending as the years go by beyond that. It would be the first time Medicare would be able to do that. Democrats had wanted it to be bigger but this is about what they could get. And also expanding those healthcare subsidies for the Affordable Care Act, those insurance subsidies for the Affordable Care Act for an additional three years.

Now to pay for all of this, there are some tax components to this as well, including a 15 percent minimum corporate tax that they want to build in as well as a 1 percent excise tax on stock buybacks. And again, getting Joe Manchin on board meant that they really wanted to make sure this was paid for and that it could actually bring down the deficit. So that is something that's important to them, and to that end we are now waiting on a couple of things to move forward.

Both the Senate parliamentarian needs to rule on a few more things, again because they're using this complex process. And then also we do need to get those scores back from the Congressional Budget Office. They're going to be able to score this, say how much it's going to cost, and what that's going to do to the deficit. So those are the two things we're waiting on.

Here's Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer earlier today.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): We have the bill before us that can win the support of all 50 Democrats. I'm happy to report to my colleagues that the bill we presented to the parliamentarian remains largely intact. The bill when passed will meet all of our goals -- fighting climate change, lower healthcare costs, closing tax loopholes abused by the wealthy, and reducing the deficit.


DEAN: Now as you can imagine, Senate Republicans are quite unified against this. In fact, once they move into what's known as vote-a-rama where they can go on for hours voting on amendments, Senator Lindsey Graham had a very specific way of describing what that's going to be like. Take a listen.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): So what will vote-a-rama be like? It'll be like hell. They deserve this. As much as I admire Joe Manchin and Sinema for standing up to the radical left at times, they're empowering legislation that will make the average person's life more difficult.


DEAN: All right, so, Jim, now we sit and wait for them to move forward on what's known as the motion to proceed. That is likely, likely being the key word, to come later this afternoon, early evening, but again this is very fluid at this point. We'll of course keep you updated.

ACOSTA: And of course, they're watching with baited breath over at the White House to see if this actually goes through. All right, Jessica Dean, thank you very much.

I'm joined now by Democratic Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland.

Senator, let's start with the name of this legislation. It's called the Inflation Reduction Act. You just heard Senator Lindsey Graham a few moments ago saying that this is not going to help the average American out there. What do you have to say to Lindsey Graham? Is that correct?

SEN. BEN CARDIN (D-MD): Well, first, Jim, it's good to be with you. It will help the average American. It will bring down the cost of healthcare by putting a cap on prescription drug cost, it will bring down the cost of energy in this country, saving Americans on their fuel bills and on their energy costs.


It will help deal with our climate challenges. And it brings down the deficit. All of that means it will help us in dealing with the cost issues that average Americans are facing and will be positive in responding to

ACOSTA: And we just heard from the Republicans and their complaints about this piece of legislation. As you know, Senator Bernie Sanders on the other side of the spectrum, doesn't think it goes far enough. Here's what he had to say on the Senate floor.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): We have legislation, which unlike the original Build Back Better plan, ignores the needs of the working families of our countries in child care, pre-K, the expansion of Medicare, affordable housing, home healthcare, higher education and many, many other desperate needs.


ACOSTA: Do you think there's going to be an opportunity to address some of the senator's concerns that he just specified there or is this the last big piece of the Biden agenda that's going to make it through Congress before the midterms?

CARDIN: Make no mistake about it, this bill is very, very key in moving forward on healthcare costs, on energy costs, on climate challenges, on dealing with inflation. It's a major step forward. But is it the end of what we need to do? No. There's other issues we need to address. We need to address the housing crisis in this country. We need to deal with the cost of child care, these are other issues.

But in this bill there are so many important things that we're getting done and it is a major step forward. But certainly, it's not the end of our intention to help families deal with the cost of that they're suffering today.

ACOSTA: And Senator, as you know, there were some concessions made as part of this deal to secure the backing of Senator Sinema and Senator Manchin. Are you comfortable with I guess the existing political reality here in Washington that the Biden agenda always seems to hinge on these two senators?

CARDIN: When you have a 50/50 Senate, you have to make sure that when you're moving on a bill like this you have all 50 Democratic senators together. That's not easy, but we were successful in this case. We're successful in regards to the substance of the bill that we have moving forward with climate and healthcare, et cetera. But it also the way we pay for it. It's a way that will not affect those who have income under $400,000.

It will close loopholes so that corporations that are not paying any taxes will now have to pay some taxes. It deals with collections, particularly high income taxpayers who are not paying their fair share. So it really is dealing with fairness in our system. So yes, I am satisfied that this bill hits all the points that are important and it will be a major accomplishment by getting this done.

ACOSTA: And Senator, I mean, there's no two ways about it. This has been a good week for President Biden. In addition to this economic package, climate package moving forward, there was the successful operation to kill the al Qaeda leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, the passing of the PACT Act for military veterans exposed to burn pits. We saw that jobs report just yesterday. Bit numbers in the jobs report. Gas prices are going down.

But you still here, some of this conversation going on among Democrats about whether or not the president should run for re-election. Do you think that this is going to tamp some of that down?

CARDIN: Well, this has certainly been a good week for the Biden administration. We also passed the accession of Finland and Sweden into NATO. So we got a lot done this past week. It's been a good week. President Biden has a great record. I think we're focused on the midterm elections right now. So let's get through the midterm elections before we start speculating on the next presidential elections.

ACOSTA: Does this help the midterms for the Democrats, do you think? Does this brighten your prospects? I mean, there have been a lot of concerns in your party up until this point that you can lose, if not the House, both the House and the Senate this fall. Does this legislation today, if it goes through, change that?

CARDIN: Absolutely. It builds on a great record that we have. Clearly what we've been able to accomplish during this past week will help us in our midterm elections. But quite frankly, the passage of the American Rescue Plan, and what that meant in keeping our economy afloat, the creation of jobs as you saw in the job report, all that are positive ways of dealing with our economy that will certainly help us in the midterm elections. And I must tell you, the concern about a woman's right, reproductive

choice, that's going to help us in the midterm elections. So there's a lot of issues that have become front and center lately that we think will help us in keeping control of both the House and the Senate.

SCIUTTO: All right. We'll have to see about that. November is going to come up pretty quickly.

Senator Ben Cardin, thanks very much for your time. We appreciate it.

CARDIN: Thank you, Jim.

ACOSTA: All right. And new today, President Biden has tested negative after a weeklong rebound case with COVID. The president will remain in isolation pending a second test.


The president has not left the White House for some 17 days after initially testing positive on July 21st. He tested positive for the second time last Saturday in what his doctors said was a rebound case among patients -- which is common among patients who have been treated with the antiviral drug Paxlovid. The White House says Mr. Biden continues to feel very well.

Coming up next, the cost of conspiracy. A jury finds Alex Jones should pay millions of dollars for lying about the Sandy Hook massacre but while Jones claims he's broke, an expert says he just knows how to hide his money.

Plus, what on earth was this about? We're still trying to figure this one out. CPAC features some performance art you might say with a fake January 6th rioter, sobbing in a mock cell. More on that next.


ACOSTA: A Texas jury has spoken. They say conspiracy theorist Alex Jones should pay $45.2 million in punitive damages to the parents of a child killed in the Sandy Hook shooting massacre.


That's on top of the $4 million in compensatory damages they've already awarded the parents in that case. It's the first time Jones has been held financially liable for lying about the massacre. He had stoked conspiracy theories it was faked to tighten gun laws which of course is false. Jones' lawyer said the jury decision won't keep his client from doing his job on the air.


ANDINO REYNAL, ALEX JONES' ATTORNEY: Alex Jones will be on the air today. He'll be on the air tomorrow. He'll be on the air next week. He's going to keep doing his job. His reaction was that, you know, he'd been found guilty before he ever had a chance to defend this case on the merits. That the -- you know, the First Amendment is under siege. And that he looks forward to continuing the fight for freedom of expression.


ACOSTA: CNN's Polo Sandoval is following all of this for us.

Polo, how likely is it that Alex Jones pays this full amount? It's a lot of money.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jim, the reality for the family of Jesse Lewis is that it will not be easy to actually secure that compensation that this week the jury ruled that this right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones is required to pay this family for the years of torment that was caused by the lies that he spread. And that's mainly because of a Texas law that basically caps punitive damages at $750,000 a plaintiff.

You do the math and that is far from the nearly $49 million that the jury said this week that Jesse Lewis's family deserves to be paid because of the defamation, because of the pain and anguish that they had experienced. So it'll be interesting to see exactly what the next stage will be. Alex Jones' attorneys, they basically filed an objection to the jury's decision.

And in terms of what may happen next for the plaintiff's family, we heard from Elie Honig, one of our CNN legal analysts, that basically explained what might be the next step and that could be to file a counter argument that that Texas law that caps those limits that that is unconstitutional for victims such as themselves. So we'll see if that plays out as the next battle for the family gets ready to start.

ACOSTA: And Polo, Alex Jones has tried to claim he's broke. It's hard to believe anything that he's says. But let's listen to what he said.


ALEX JONES, HOST, THE ALEX JONES SHOW: Any compensation above $2 million will sink us.

$4.2 million, now that's my money than my company and I personally have. I don't have all these millions of dollars they claim I have. Hundreds of millions of dollars we don't have.


ACOSTA: Polo, what's the reality of this situation?

SANDOVAL: Yes, he says he's broke. Well, that's not what we heard from a financial expert that was called to the witness stand to testify as part of this defamation trial, basically saying that Alex Jones' combined companies, about nine in all, are valued anywhere from $135 million to $270 million. And not just that, as you're about to hear, that he used -- according to this expert that he used a series of shell companies to try to conceal his wealth.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BERNARD PETTINGILL JR, ECONOMIST: The way the shell company would apply in this case is an internal set of affiliates that Alex Jones set up. Alex Jones knows where the money is. He knows where that money went and he knows that he's going to eventually benefit by that money.


SANDOVAL: So this testimony certainly paints really an even darker picture of these efforts to try to conceal this money. But nonetheless, though, Jim, it is something that other families are worried about, especially as you have other pending judgments in courts in Texas and at least one in Connecticut that Alex Jones is preparing to face now.

ACOSTA: Yes, Polo. Those families wonder how long they're going to have to keep fighting at this.

Polo Sandoval, thank you very much.

And be sure to catch CNN's Special Report "MEGAPHONE FOR CONSPIRACY: THE ALEX JONES STORY." That's tonight at 9:00 Eastern right here tonight on CNN.

Coming up, CPAC becomes a showcase for the newest wave of election deniers fresh from primary victories in some very key states.



ACOSTA: Former President Donald Trump will take the stage at CPAC later tonight. The closing act to an event that has already hosted some of the biggest election conspiracy theorists as well as this bizarre exhibit.

No, this is not an off-Broadway production of the "Shawshank Redemption." This is a real-life convicted January 6th insurrectionist named Brandon Straka. He decided he would do some performance art by sitting in a cage and sobbing. He called it a way to highlight the stress he felt after being arrested. Interesting he would highlight that, and not the moment when he urged rioters to take a shield away from a Capitol police officer.

Kyung Lah has more from Dallas.


KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Fresh off a Republican primary victory for Arizona's governor, Kari Lake arrives to a hero's welcome at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas.


LAH: In her home state she is leading in every single county. Centering her campaign on Donald Trump's lie about the 2020 election. A position she pledges she will not pivot away from.

LAKE: We out-voted the fraud. We didn't listen to what the fake news had to say. The MAGA movement rose up and voted like their lives depended on it.

LAH: Trump-endorsed election denying candidates won up and down Arizona's ballot Tuesday. U.S. Senate candidate Blake Masters and Secretary of State candidate Mark Finchem who says he wants to eliminate all voting machines.


MARK FINCHEM (R), ARIZONA SECRETARY OF STATE NOMINEE: Paper ballots, hand counting on one day. We can do that. We used to do it.

LAH: Election experts say that would mean months long counts. 2020 deniers despite no evidence of widespread fraud won. And not just in Arizona.


LAH: But in Michigan this week, Republican gubernatorial nominee, Tudor Dixon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes or no, do you believe Donald Trump legitimately won the 2020 election in Michigan?


LAH: Now, Dixon is dodging that question.

DIXON: In Michigan there were some things that happened in Michigan that didn't happen in other states which are very concerning.

LAH: These wins are just the latest in the steady advance by those sowing distrust in U.S. elections being put on the November ballot. In Nevada, Jim Marchant is the Republican nominee for secretary of State running to oversee his state's elections. He told us this earlier this year.

JIM MARCHANT (R), NEVADA SECRETARY OF STATE NOMINEE: I believe it was stolen, yes. I mean, I believe that there were enough irregularities that we need to do an audit.

LAH: And then there's Michigan's Kristina Karamo, another secretary of State candidate, who doesn't believe the 2020 results.

Election liars on state ballots show Trump's grip on the GOP celebrated by far-right propagandist Mike Lindell at CPAC.

MIKE LINDELL, MYPILLOW CEO: Everybody is going to go vote these great candidates like Kari Lake and override the machines.

LAH: On the CPAC agenda --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They stole the 2020 election. LAH: It is relitigating 2020, also looking ahead to November and


SEN. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: They want to rig elections, institutionalize voter fraud. We are not going to allow it.

LAH (on-camera): I see your hat there.


LAH: How important is it for you to talk about 2020 as we look at 2022?

MYERS: He won. He won in 2020, hands down, across the nation.

LAH: What does this say about where the Republican Party is in this country?

KIMBERLY HILL, TEXAS VOTER: MAGA. They're with MAGA, they're with Trump, they're Trump followers.


ACOSTA: And our thanks to Kyung Lah.

As mentioned there, former President Trump will speak at CPAC tonight as a new CNN exclusive reporting reveals his lawyers are in direct talks with the Justice Department about the January 6th probe. Sources tell CNN that Trump's lawyers have warned him indictments are possible but while Trump has grilled his attorneys on whether they actually believe he will face charges, a source says Trump has expressed some skepticism that he will actually be indicted.

Joining me now, former Nixon White House counsel and contributor to CNN, John Dean.

John, great to see you as always. You know, Trump --


ACOSTA: Hey, it's great to see you. I mean, he can be dismissive on one day, he can be totally freaked out the next, I suppose it depends on which Donald Trump you're dealing with that day. But how real is the possibility do you think that he'll be criminally charged?

J. DEAN: I think it's very real. You know, I had the trouble with Nixon in trying to convince him that the potential of criminal activity or criminal jeopardy was real for him, too. And he was in denial, denial, denial. We see these men get above a level and they think their power will save them. It's not true. And I think Trump is in jeopardy, just based on the evidence we know. God knows what it's going to be like when they really have a grand jury focusing on what happened on January 6th, and before.

ACOSTA: And, John, these talks between Trump's lawyers and the DOJ revolve around whether executive privilege to some extent can shield some of these conversations that Trump had with people in his inner circle from these, you know, federal investigators who want to find out what was going on in these conversations. I mean, this is an area that you know pretty well. Can Trump hide behind this, do you think?

J. DEAN: The law is very well settled in the District of Columbia. And I think what's going on is after Trump sued the National Archives in a case called Trump versus Thompson, the head of the Archivist, the court ruled against him unanimously, said we don't care the fact that he's a former president or if he was currently president, he would still not be able to hold onto the papers that he was due to turn over to the select committee.

So there was a -- however, not a dissent but a note from Kavanaugh that said he would give a former president power to invoke executive privilege. Well, that isn't the law. That's just an opinion of one justice. And I think Trump is trying to figure out how in the hell can we get to the Supreme Court and maybe Kavanaugh can bring along a majority. But it's not going to happen. It's an overwhelmingly the law is settled. His staff is going to have to testify, and if called he'd have to testify.


ACOSTA: And you tweeted that it was a huge deal that Trump's former White House counsel, Pat Cipollone, had been subpoenaed by a grand jury.

Help us understand that. Why are you saying that's such a big deal?

DEAN: Well, back in my era, when Nixon was the -- had the full attention of a grand jury, people were called.

And that -- at that time, when he tried to withhold his tapes, the Supreme Court ruled that when a grand jury wants information in a criminal investigation, every man has an obligation, including the president of the United States, to provide that information.

So this is settled law and it's never been changed. In fact, it's only been strengthened in other areas. During the Clinton presidency, all of his staff had to appear before the grand jury.

So I don't see any basis that they can even get to the Supreme Court. And these people are going to have to testify.

I think that Pat Cipollone, the game he played with the Select Committee was he threatened to sue. He threatened to tie it up in court and they don't have the time to mess with it.

So he leveraged that threat when he really didn't have a very good case. He didn't have any case, other than the threat of a case.

ACOSTA: Let's talk about Congresswoman Liz Cheney, the vice chair of the January 6th committee. She said, essentially, if there's evidence for the Department of Justice they have to act no matter who it is. Let's listen to that.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): We'll continue to follow the facts. I think the Department of Justice will do that. But they have to make decisions about prosecution.

Understanding what it means, if the facts and the evidence are there and they decide not to prosecute, how do we then call ourselves a nation of laws?


ACOSTA: John, Trump clearly believes that running for president again is his best defense against being prosecuted. He made that clear.

I'm sure you hear the same thing when you talk about to folks, I talk to folks all the time who are doubtful that the attorney general, Merrick Garland, is going to act and there will be an indictment of Trump.

And part of it is because they think the Justice Department is worried about this all being thrown into politics and setting a precedent of going after a former president.

What do you make of that? Do you think, at the end of the day, the Justice Department will do what Liz Cheney was saying? And if they see a case, act?

DEAN: I think they will. I think that Merrick Garland is a career Justice Department man. He has a very good sense of what it's like to be in that department.

And he knows that that -- those staff attorneys would revolt if he just turned aside a clear case that was sitting out there against this president.

I think he's got to. His other alternative, of course, is to appoint a special prosecutor because he thinks it's political and try to delay the decision by going through that process.

But the other thing is, Merrick Garland wants to get the Department of Justice back where it was when it had respect before the Trump team sort of tore it apart and depressed a lot of attorneys. So they want to do this internally.

I think Garland will do that. I think he's given two press conferences now where he said anybody and everybody who's involved criminally will be dealt with. He's all but said, if it's the president, I will indict the president.

So I think we have to give him the benefit of the doubt. And I have very few doubts.

ACOSTA: Very interesting.

John Dean, thanks so much. Great talking to you, as always. Appreciate it. DEAN: Thanks, Jim.

ACOSTA: Changing the rules on monkeypox. The FDA now considering a way to stretch the limited supply of vaccine as CNN gets an emotional firsthand look at those desperate to get a shot.


Plus, join Anderson Cooper for a new investigation, "WHAT REALLY HAPPENED IN UVALDE." The CNN special airs tomorrow night at 8:00.


ACOSTA: The U.S. monkeypox case count now has passed 7,000 and continues to grow. Since there isn't enough vaccine to meet the demand, the FDA is considering a rule change to allow health care providers to use a one-dose vile of the vaccine to administer up to five separate doses.

As CNN's David Culver reports, people are lining up in the middle of the night desperately hoping to get vaccinated before current supplies run out.


DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We started early, just before 6:00 a.m. Our destination, familiar to our Uber driver. We were her third passenger that morning also headed to San Francisco's Zuckerberg General Hospital.

As we arrived, so, too, the sun, revealing a line with dozens, mostly men, camped out, waiting, some nearly all night.

CULVER (on camera): Security guard telling me that this line started building around 2:00 in the morning.

CULVER (voice-over): All of them wanting to be vaccinated against the monkeypox virus.

Cody Aarons tells he's been trying for weeks from New York to now here in the bay area.

CODY AARONS, WAITING FOR MONKEYPOX VACCINE: It definitely shows that people are concerned about it.

CULVER: And willing to stand in hours-long lines that spill onto the sidewalk.

Inside, exhausted hospital staff face another day's surge in vaccine demand. COVID-19, still raging, and now monkeypox.

MERJO ROCA, NURSE MANAGER, ZUCKERBERG SAN FRANCISCO GENERAL HOSPITAL: I think one of our biggest challenges is really just the inconsistency of the supply.

CULVER: Here in California, nearly all of those who have reported probable or confirmed cases, more than 98 percent are men, with 97 percent of patients identifying as LGBTQ.

While deaths are rare, the symptoms are visible and painful.


KEVIN KWONG, RECOVERED FROM MONKEYPOX: I had between 600 and 800 lesions. It was like someone taking, like, a hole puncher all over my body right under my skin. So, there are points where I couldn't walk, I couldn't touch things. Really difficult.

CULVER: Kevin Kwong, says his symptoms lasted some two weeks. He chronicled his recovery on social media.

KWONG: I think I really just didn't want to be alone. I wanted to connect with people and see if other people were also experiencing what I was.

CULVER: A familiar sentiment for long-time LGBTQ advocates living and working in San Francisco's famed Castro District.

CULVER (on camera): You get a sense that there's this growing uneasiness around monkeypox. For a lot of people, that's eerily reminiscent of what they experienced here in the early '80s with the AIDS crisis. There's fear, there's anger, there's anxiety, and there's stigma.

(voice-over): It's personal for Tyler TerMeer. He runs the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and lives with HIV.

TYLER TERMEER, CEO, SAN FRANCISCO AIDS FOUNDATION: We have a responsibility to not further stigmatize or politicize this issue for a community that has long-faced many issues dating all the way back to the earliest days of the HIV epidemic.

CULVER: Facing mounting criticisms for its handling of the outbreak, on Thursday, the Biden administration declared monkeypox a public health emergency.

RAFAEL MANDELMAN, SAN FRANCISCO BOARD OF SUPERVISORS: The feeling that this is not getting the attention that it would if it were impacting straight people, you know, is real.

CULVER: Back on San Francisco's front lines, Cody Aarons makes his third attempt to get vaccinated against the virus.

Off camera, a hospital staffer updates the crowd.

CULVER (on camera): I hear him announcing something. I don't know if you can make out what he's saying.

CULVER (voice-over): Just 45 minutes into the hospital's distribution --

AARONS (ph): Oh, no guarantee for vaccines.

CULVER: They had already reached their daily limit. David Culver, CNN, San Francisco.


ACOSTA: Joining me to talk about this, Dr. William Schaffner, a professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Dr. Schaffner, great to see you again. It's been a long time.

The first case of monkeypox in the U.S., it was May 18th. And here we are less than three months later, more than 7,000 confirmed cases across the consultant.

We were watching the video in this piece a few moments ago and it is devastating what can happen to people who come down with this. How bad could this get?

DR. WILLIAM SCHAFFNER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Well, Jim, it's out there and it's spreading person to person. Still largely in the community of men who have sex with men.

Now this virus can get out. It doesn't care what your sexual predilection is. And given time, it will do that. But it's still focused on the MSM community at this point.

And public health departments are reaching out to the community, working with them, educating them so we're -- so that the entire community is better informed, and trying to get vaccine to them just as quickly as it becomes available.

Everyone would want much more vaccine. You know, there's only one small manufacturer of this vaccine in Denmark. And there are countries all over the world who want some. Fortunately, we have contracts with them. More will be coming in over time.

ACOSTA: We were just showing moments ago images of these long lines. You know, people who are just desperate for this vaccine.

And I have to ask you, what do you make of this strategy? We're looking at this line in San Francisco.

Bhat do you make of the strategy of taking a one-dose vile and breaking it up so more people can get the vaccine so more people can be vaccinated. Would that as effective if you break up the doses like that?

SCHAFFNER: The regular regiment for this vaccine is two doses separated by at least three weeks. What the public health community is doing now is giving everyone one dose because that will clearly provide short term protection.

And as more vaccine comes in later, people can then avail themselves on the second dose, which will give them longer term protection. So that's the first strategy. Then the second one is the one that you mentioned. Could we divide up

the usual one dose into five little doses and inject it not through the skin but into the skin.

We call that intradermal. That's like that skin test we used to get for tuberculosis. We need to see the data on that to see whether it is really effective.

We'll have to be especially careful for the people who are immune compromised because, obviously, they're not going to respond as well. So we need to see more data.

And the other thing is that intradermal inoculation, that's tricky to do. Not every nurse and every doctor can do that. So we have to have well trained people administering the vaccine if we choose to go down that road.


ACOSTA: Right. That is very important.

I want to turn to COVID because President Biden had tested positive for seven days in a row after a Paxlovid rebound. Finally, today, he tested negative. He has been confined to the White House for a good part of, I guess, the last 17 days because of all of this.

What are the chances he'll have another rebound? And how concerned are you about this?

SCHAFFNER: Well, the president is a fairly typical recipient of Paxlovid who then has a rebound. It's a minority of people who have a rebound. But most have very few symptoms or mild symptoms that quickly then get better.

The test can be positive for a longer period of time. We're not always sure whether that indicates that the live virus is there or whether that is just viral remnants, so called dead soldiers.

But, yes, I would not anticipate that this test would then revert positive again. And he should do well and finally be allowed out of isolation.

ACOSTA: Yes. It sounds like he's out of the woods. Let's hope so, for the president's sake.

Dr. William Schaffner, thanks very much for your time. We appreciate it.

SCHAFFNER: My pleasure.

ACOSTA: Coming up, missile fire lights up the sky over Gaza escalating tensions between Israel and Palestine militants. That's coming up.





ACOSTA: The Israeli military launched airstrikes against suspected militant targets in Gaza and rockets have been fired from Gaza into Israel as tensions rise.

Palestinian officials say at least 17 were killed in the Israeli strikes including a 5-year-old girl. Israel says most of those killed were militant.

A senior military commander in the militant group being targeted is reportedly among the dead.

CNN's Ben Wedeman joins me from Israel.

Ben, it does seem like things are ratcheting up there. What's the latest?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, certainly since the sun went down, what we've seen is an intensification of not only Israeli airstrikes on Gaza, but also rocket fire from Gaza into Israel by Islamic Jihad.

There are reports, of course, of an Israeli airstrike, according to Palestinian officials, on a house in the northern part of the Gaza Strip in which, according to the Palestinian Health Minister, seven people were killed, four of them children.

There's also been a strike on a refugee camp on the southern end of Gaza Strip. Unclear how many people were killed or wounded in that strike.

But it appears at least 24 people have been killed in Gaza since the outbreak of this latest round of hostilities early Friday morning.

On the Israeli side, 21 people have been taken to hospital. Two slightly injured by shrapnel. The rest, either people injured while running for shelter or being treated in hospital for panic attacks.

Now, the Egyptians apparently are trying to mediate some sort of ceasefire. We've seen, Jim, in previous rounds of violence between Gaza and Israel that the Egyptians were key in bringing the two sides together to work out a ceasefire.

But the Israelis say this could go on for as many as seven days in total. It doesn't appear that the Egyptian mediators are making much progress at the moment -- Jim?

ACOSTA: And, Ben, what do we know about the 5-year-old girl that Palestinian officials say was killed?

WEDEMAN: She apparently was just in front of her building playing when that strike happened. That was on Friday, yesterday.

And what we've seen is that, yes, there have been Palestinian militants killed. But Gaza's a crowded place. If you hit a building, you're likely to hurt many and kill many innocent people.

And it appears, in this case, this 5-year-old girl was one of them -- Jim?

ACOSTA: All right, Ben Wedeman, sad news there. Thank you very much. Appreciate it.

This week's "CNN Hero" struggled to get assistance when her son, Jason, was diagnosed with autism. Now her non-profit provides families in underserved areas out of Chicago with the support services and community education they need to thrive.

Meet Debra Vines.



DEBRA VINES, CNN HERO: Being a parent of a child with autism in the '80s and the '90s was very, very challenging.

The support groups that I found, I was the only black woman there. We had color barrier, income barrier, equity barrier. Period. All types of barriers.

Good morning.

Everything we provide is a blueprint of what I was missing as a parent.

So we have the support. Kids go to their classes. We're a family.

I'm very adamant about educating the community because people are afraid of what they don't understand.

We want to make sure first responders are trained to deal with our children.


UNIDENTIFIED LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER: How long has your mom been doing this kind of stuff?

VINES: Because he's smiling, he makes it easier.

But what if you get ahold of someone who is not smiling? And they're running around and they're biting themselves?

Advocacy is a gift. I'm good at it. And it makes me feel so good.


ACOSTA: And to see Debra's full story and find out more about her work, go to