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White House Officials: U.S. Is In a Better Place on Covid This Winter; Brittney Briner Moved to Penal Colony in Russia; 11 New York Counties Under State of Emergency, National Guard Deployed; Trump's 2024 Announcement Already Being Felt in Georgia Senate Runoff. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired November 17, 2022 - 15:30   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Less than 5 percent of Americans live in an area considered to have a high community spread of COVID right now. That's down from more than a quarter of the population in February. Still, forecasts predict that new COVID cases will likely increase over the coming weeks while other viruses like RSV and the flu also continue to spread.

Let's bring in White House COVID-19 response coordinator, Dr. Ashish Jha. Dr. Jha, great to see you. Let's talk about COVID and what you expect to happen this winter. Obviously, we're all getting ready to celebrate Thanksgiving with our family and then Hanukkah, and then Christmas. And so, if you look back at what happened last year, exactly a year ago, things were down. COVID cases were down, and then you see a huge spike if we put up this graphic in December and January, and then it levels off again, you know, in March and April. Are you expecting to see that again this year?

DR. ASHISH JHA, WHITE HOUSE COVID-19 RESPONSE COORDINATOR: Yes, Alisyn, thanks for having me back. What I would say is we know that the virus circulates more efficiently when the weather is colder. People are spending more time indoors. And as you said, each of the last two winters we have seen an increase in COVID cases and I think it stands to reason that we're going to see that again. I'm hoping we're not going to see anything like the spike we saw in January. But we may very well still see a lot more infections in the weeks and months ahead.

The good news though is that we can gather safely. We can do all these things if people go ahead and get that updated bivalent vaccine that's available. Get treated if you have a breakthrough infection. We're just in a very different place. People can do those things, but you got to be careful and you got to be able to make that sure your vaccines and your immunity is up to date for the holiday season ahead.

CAMEROTA: Definitely, but there are other complicating factors. So, this winter there's also RSV -- which I don't think we had as bad last winter -- and the flu. So, you know, not everybody's gotten their -- been inoculated for all of that. So, how do you think coupled with RSV and the flu it looks this winter? JHA: Yes. So, here's what I know. We've got two terrific vaccines, a

flu vaccine and a COVID vaccine. That's going to keep people out of the hospital. So, if people get up to date on those two vaccines, it's going to make an enormous difference.

That said, RSV is still out there, primarily impacting the youngest kids and the elderly. What we know is RSV spreads a lot through surfaces so washing hands, keeping surfaces clean that can make a difference. I really do think we're at a point, Alisyn, where if people sort of take basic precautions, get up to date, we can manage all of these respiratory viruses and make sure that our health care system doesn't get overwhelmed.

CAMEROTA: How much space should you put between your COVID booster and the flu shot?

JHA: Well, I got them at the same time. I actually think there's no reason to delay them. I think it's totally safe. That's what I have been encouraging. I tell people, you know, that's why I think God gave us two arms. One for COVID shot and one for your flu shot.

CAMEROTA: Well, that's good, Dr. Jha because my left arm was immobile after I got my latest COVID booster. I couldn't -- it was unusable. So, I'm glad I didn't get it exactly the same day.

JHA: Well, look, I got them both on the same day. My right arm was sore for about 24 hours, but then it got better and I was done. It was a one shot. You're one and done. Obviously, if you want to space it out, that's fine, but from a health and safety point of view, both at the same time is totally reasonable.

CAMEROTA: OK. Let's move on to the shortages of important medications. So, there's an Adderall shortage right now and amoxicillin shortage as I understand it. Let's start with Adderall. Do you expect that shortages to last another one to two months?

JHA: Yes, so first of all, obviously this is an area that FDA is tracking very closely and they're working with the manufacturers. Everything we're hearing is that there are other manufacturers that also make Adderall. We're going to see this result hopefully in the next month or two. I think there is a good reason to be optimistic this is going to get addressed quickly.

But in terms of how many people rely on Adderall. I mean, obviously, kids in school rely on it in function and even people -- adults in workplaces rely on it to function. I mean, what are they supposed to do for the next month or two?

JHA: Yes, this is a -- look, this is a very good question. And what I say is two things. First of all, as a person who's practiced medicine for 20 years, we have seen this on and off where important medicines, especially if they don't have a lot of manufacturers will have these kinds of troubles. The FDA works very closely with them.

[15:35:00] If you are somebody who is really reliant on Adderall, needs it, speaking to your doctor, there are other formulations. There are other medicines. There are other ways of dealing with whatever the underlying health issue is that Adderall is addressing. None of these things are perfect, right. None of them are perfect. But what we need to do is continue to work as the FDA is doing, to get these medicines back online and get them out to Americans as quickly as possible. And to make sure that we're doing it safely. I'm sorry. To make sure we're doing it safely.

CAMEROTA: Sure, and once the danger of amoxicillin shortage?

JHA: Yes, so amoxicillin, critical antibiotic. I mean again, you know, the issue here in my mind is we have seen this with other antibiotics. Good news is most of the time there's another alternative antibiotic that people can take. But FDA is really on top of this working with the manufacturers, making sure that these medicines come back online.

One of the key things that I would sort of say to my family and friends is that doing everything you can to stay healthy. Being up to date on your vaccines, taking good care of yourself, reducing the need for medicines like amoxicillin, avoiding infections, that's going to be a really important part of getting through this time period while these medicines get back onto the marketplace.

CAMEROTA: Dr. Ashish Jha great to see you. Thanks so much for your time.

JHA: Thank you, Alisyn.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner has now been moved to a penal colony in Russia. Griner's lawyer tells CNN that Griner's doing as well as can be expected and trying to stay strong. Now the WNBA star has been in Russian custody since mid- February.

CAMEROTA: CNN's Kylie Atwood joins us now with the latest. What have you learned?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well what we're learning from her lawyers is that they actually visited her at this penal colony in Mordovia which is as you said, is hundreds of miles away from Moscow earlier this week. And they said she's doing as well as can be expected, adapting, trying to stay strong in her new environment. And we really don't know much about the specifics of what her new environment is.

But penal colonies in Russia are known for very harshly treating the prisoners there. They can face torture, according to the State Department report on human rights. They can face torture sometimes that leads to death. They can face hard work in those camps, and there are instances where the authorities are getting certain prisoners to go after and to bully other prisoners. It is not a great environment.

So, we don't know the specifics here, but what we do know is that the stories, the reports from people who have been in Russian penal colonies are not great. And of course, that is of high concern to Brittney Griner and all of those who are close with her here in the United States.

Now the State Department was not informed by Russia officially that she has actually moved to this penal colony. A State Department spokesperson said that is something that they strongly protest. And this also comes as just last week, President Biden said that he was hopeful that after the midterm elections maybe Russia would be more willing to have serious dialogue with the United States over a prisoner swap to get out Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan who is another American wrongfully detained in the country. But so far, we haven't heard any positive progress on that front -- guys.

CAMEROTA: OK, Kylie Atwood, thank you for the update.

BLACKWELL: Parts of New York state are under a state of emergency and the National Guard is being deployed ahead of a winter storm that's expected to bring heavy snow. We're live in Buffalo with the latest, next.



CAMEROTA: This just into CNN. The acting police chief on the day of the Uvalde school massacre has stepped down. Lt. Mariano Pargas his resignation came ahead of a rare Saturday special meeting that was called by the city to decide his fate. Pargas's resignation is effective immediately.

BLACKWELL: There are snowstorms and then there are snowstorms. Did you get the distinction there?

CAMEROTA: Not yet. No, I don't, that's for you.

BLACKWELL: Well, 6 million people continue to listen and I'll explain. Living in the Great Lakes region could see nearly 4 feet of snow by Sunday morning.

CAMEROTA: I'm sure that CNN's Polo Sandoval understands the difference between a snowstorm and a snowstorm. Can you explain the conditions you're about to face, Polo?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And the folks here in Buffalo, Victor and Alisyn, they will probably get that pretty quickly too. Look typically, snow in Buffalo, that would hard by be a headline, but when you hear from New York Governor Kathy Hochul, a native of Buffalo describing what is expecting to take place here, not only extreme, but, quote, potentially life-threatening. Then that certainly is going to lead so some public safety concerns. And that's why starting tonight we are just expecting here some of the snowfall accumulation. At least the rate to be anywhere from potentially up to 4 inches an hour. And when you're going to continue to see this lake-effect snow for next possibly 48 hours, then the result could be perhaps one of the snowiest three-day periods that Buffalo has seen. The record back in December of 2001 with about 4 1/2 feet. So, that is

why officials here on the ground saying that a little bit of the sun that we're seeing right now, that could be a bit deceiving that later tonight is when we'll begin to see that lake-effect snow. And that's where officials on the ground including Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown is now calling on people to not only sign up for notifications so that they can stay up to speed as mother nature threatens the next 48 hours. But also, to take steps to prepare.


MAYOR BYRON BROWN, BUFFALO, NEW YORK: And I want to be very clear. This is not your normal snowfall in the city of Buffalo or in the region.


This is a snowstorm with potentially deadly consequences if people do not do the right thing.


SANDOVAL: Those lake-effect snow warnings, those are in place starting tonight, Victor and Alisyn. They will likely stay in place potentially up until Sunday. So, the main recommendation for people in and around western New York simply stay off the roads for the next few days if they can and prepare right now -- guys.

CAMEROTA: I feel like you're going to need a bigger jacket, Polo Sandoval. So, take care.

SANDOVAL: It's not so bad yet.

CAMEROTA: Right but be careful. Thank you very much for the update.

BLACKWELL: All right, let's get more on the forecast from CNN meteorologist Jennifer Gray. The National Weather Service also warning of thundersnow. Tell us about that.

JENNIFER GRAY, CNN AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, so we are going to potentially see thundersnow. Sometimes when the snowfall rates get so high, you'll hear thunder. There will be lightning just like we get in a very strong thunderstorm when the rains are very, very heavy. But basically, the winds are going to steer where this snow is going to go because lake-effect snow is caused by the warmer water temperature, and the difference between the colder air above it. So, when those cold winds flow over the lake, it generates all these clouds and then the snow falls on the east side of the lake when the wind is from that direction. So, we're going to see the snow continue to fall. The winds are basically going to eventually steer it into Buffalo by the time we get into tonight and that's when it's really going to intensify.

We're going to look at anywhere from say like Polo was saying, 3 to 4 inches an hour. We could see 2 to 4 feet of snow around Buffalo and the latest National Weather Service discussion came out saying we could see up to 5 feet. So, this could definitely be historic. We've already seen more than nearly a foot of snowfall in some places, and so guys, this is going to be a big deal. This is going to run through Sunday.

CAMEROTA: Wow. OK, thank you, Jennifer Gray. Now I understand the difference. Now I get it. OK, thank you very much.

So, former President Donald Trump has been a 2024 candidate for less than 48 hours, but his announcement is already affecting the Georgia Senate runoff. Details next.



CAMEROTA: Donald Trump's 2024 presidential run is already affecting Georgia's Senate runoff. Incumbent Senator Raphael Warnock has now released a new attack ad aimed at his opponent Herschel Walker that includes a snippet of Trump's speech.

BLACKWELL: CNN's Gabby Orr is here with more for us. So, how is the Warnock campaign using the Trump announcement?

GABBY ORR, CNN REPORTER: Well, Victor, with less than three weeks to go until this Georgia Senate runoff contest, the Warnock campaign has released a new appeal for campaign cash, trying to use Donald Trump's presidential announcement speech on Tuesday night to really energize the Democratic voters and small dollar donors. Take a listen to a little bit of what the ad says.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Herschel Walker, get out to vote for Herschel, and he deserves it.

He is an incredible athlete. He'll be an even better Senator. Get out and vote for Herschel Walker.


ORR: Now this is exactly what the Trump allies who spoke to us over the course of the week leading up to Trump's campaign announcement had feared. They felt that him announcing a presidential campaign before this runoff contest takes place, would backfire and energize Democratic voter and work to the fundraising advantage for incumbent Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock. That seems to be a strategy that the Warnock campaign is deploying by featuring Trump front and center in their latest campaign advertisement.

Of course, the former president does praise the Republican candidate Herschel Walker in the ad, but at the end of the day, this is definitely meant to jive Democratic fundraising and to bring home the Walker campaign -- the Warnock campaign -- guys.

CAMEROTA: I'm just not am not sure it is as damning as Democrats think it is. All he's doing is saying get out there and vote for Herschel Walker. I thought that it was going to be something that said something more colorful.

BLACKWELL: If you elect Herschel Walker, then were going to do this.

CAMEROTA: Yes. So, we'll see. Gabby, you'll lot us know if it works for fundraising for Democrats. Thank you very much.

BLACKWELL: All right, end of the era in the Democratic Party, Speaker Nancy Pelosi says that she will not run for leadership in the Congress. CNN coverage continues after a short break.



CAMEROTA: Attention all you Swifties, we have breaking news for you. Ticket master just canceled the public sale of Taylor Swift tour tickets because of overwhelming demand. That's confusing, it's counterintuitive. The website being heavily criticized over the sale including from lawmakers.

BLACKWELL: Ticket Master says they sold more than 2 million tickets on Tuesday. The most ever sold for an artist in a single day, causing and near meltdown on the site and among fans. It caused site to crash several times. Some fans reported waiting for up to eight hours only to find they were too late to buy tickets. How many stops are on this tour?

CAMEROTA: I don't know.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The amount of gas lighting that ticket master does -- the website just crashed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, it went down again!


CAMEROTA: Truly melting down about this.

BLACKWELL: 2 million tickets --


BLACKWELL: -- that is crazy.

CAMEROTA: It is incredible. Her talent!

BLACKWELL: All right, in other music news, there is going to be no "Queen of Christmas" title for singer Mariah Carey, "The Washington Post" reports the U.S. Patent Office denied her attempt to trademark her nickname that is associated with her because of the '94 hit "All I Want for Christmas Is You." Oh, wait, I think I hear it now.

CAMEROTA: I think I hear it.


MARIAH CAREY, SINGER: I just want to call my own, more than you could ever know, make my wish come true

CAMEROTA: It is so good. It's just so good. Carey reportedly wanted to use the name "Queen of Christmas" to brand items like perfume and dog leashes. Two singers that have used the phrase in their songs accused Carey of trying to monopolize the name "Queen of Christmas."


The trademark office also rejected Carey's applications for the phrases "Princess Christmas" and "QOC." I don't care what you call her as long as you keep playing that song. It is so good.

BLACKWELL: But once he got to do with a dog leash?

CAMEROTA: It's branding, Victor. It's just branding. I got him every gift.

BLACKWELL: All right. "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.