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White House: COVID Wave This Fall And Winter Could Infect 100 Million; U.S. To Provide $800 Million In New Humanitarian Assistance To Syria; U.S. Ramps Up Training Of Ukrainian Forces As Russia Attacks. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired May 10, 2022 - 07:30   ET




BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are on the rise and the Biden administration is warning that the U.S. could potentially see 100 million COVID-19 infections this fall and winter if Congress doesn't shore up additional resources.

Joining us now is CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta to talk about this.


KEILAR: So, Sanjay, what does it mean if we are just seeing the start of another surge?

GUPTA: Well, I mean, this is potentially an opportunity to be prepared. I mean, these are models that are looking at and anticipating what potentially lies ahead and they're specifically focused on a 5-month period -- really, October through, sort of, March of next year. October this year through March of next year -- where they're saying you could see potentially 100 million new cases. So that would be a significant surge.

And as part of that, they're saying the lessons that we have learned is if you have testing -- enough testing -- every home has plenty of testing, and people know when they are positive and can stay home. If you have vaccines -- even variant-specific vaccines, some of which are now being worked on, and you have plenty of masks. You know, we may have to wear masks indoors during times of significant surges -- then you can help blunt a significant surge like that.

So, I think that's really the message that we're hearing. I mean, we have to sort of anticipate now. We -- you know, we were in a very different position 2 1/2 years ago, but how do you best use the lessons and tools that we have now?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: When I saw that news, Sanjay, it was 100 million cases 2 1/2 years into this -- 100 million? Is that really possible?

GUPTA: Yes. I mean, to give you some context, if you look at a flu season, for example. During that same rough time period -- respiratory virus time period -- you might get about 20% of the country infected. So, you know, closer to 50-60 million people potentially. So, you know, these can be very, very contagious viruses.

But John, the thing that's also important to point out is if you look at the northeast, for example -- just take this as an example. Take the last seven days where we've had a significant surge -- increase in cases -- you see what's happened there. Cases are going up. Again, this is sort of an example of how things might look going forward.

If you look over that same time period and look at deaths, what you find is that despite the cases going up, at least so far, deaths have mostly been coming down during that time period. There is this decoupling. You're not seeing the same death rates to infections as you saw before.

The northeast has a high level of boosters as well. People are more likely to have been vaccinated and received their boosters up there and that probably makes a huge difference.

In the country overall, 100 million people have gotten a third shot making them up to date. But only 10 million people have gotten a fourth shot. And in the places where they got that fourth shot, they are more protected. That's another lesson. That's something we've got to pay attention to, especially as we go into the late summer or early fall.

KEILAR: So if you have millions of Americans who have gotten boosters at this point, I assume that is not enough.

GUPTA: Well, you know, if you -- we knew -- we know that the boosters -- the third shot -- the effectiveness of that does wane over time. So now they're saying if you're at least four months out from that third shot you should be -- you should be considering getting a booster, especially in anticipation of that surge that's coming up in the late summer or early fall.


I think that the real question sort of going forward though is are we going to have variant-specific boosters as well? Will they last longer? Will they offer more protection?

These shots seem to be very effective at keeping people out of the hospital and keeping them from dying. That's what we saw on that first graph. That's obviously good -- that's great. But in terms of preventing people from getting infected in the first place and developing more mild symptoms, they're not as effective.

So you have to sort of take this all into account. If you are high- risk of hospitalization or death getting that fourth shot is going to be more of a priority now versus at some point in the future.

BERMAN: And what is the current recommendation for the second booster, Sanjay? GUPTA: So you want to wait -- so this fourth -- three shots would be considered up to date. If you got two shots and waited five months and got that third shot. For the next shot, it would be at least four months after the third shot.

BERMAN: So it's nine months total by my albeit rudimentary math?

GUPTA: Nine months total.

BERMAN: All right. Sanjay --

KEILAR: I give up.

GUPTA: You got it.

KEILAR: Thank goodness I have Berman --

GUPTA: You got it.

KEILAR: -- to do my math for me, Sanjay.

BERMAN: That's why I'm here.

KEILAR: Thank you so much.

So, we are continuing to follow the news out of the Ukrainian port city of Odessa. Crews working into the night to put out flames sparked by Russian missile strikes on tourist areas there.

BERMAN: And the biggest reservoir in the United States just drying up. Disturbing discoveries there uncovered.



BERMAN: All right. Moments ago, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations wrapped up a speech in Brussels.

Let's get right to Kylie Atwood live in Brussels with a new -- and windy Brussels, I should note, Kylie. There's a new commitment from the United States. Why don't you explain what was said there?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. Eight hundred million dollars in new humanitarian aid that the ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, announced for Syria. And what she said today is that assistance is going to go to these Syrians who have been displaced by that ongoing civil war that's lasted for over a decade, John.

And she also called on the need to maintain the corridor from Turkey to Syria that allows that humanitarian support to continue going into the country. There is only one of those corridors that is still open and that agreement to keep it open is going to expire in July. There are concerns about Russians potentially blocking that corridor from remaining open, so that's going to be a focus at the United Nations for her when she goes back to New York.

And she also said that this renewed U.S. support for the humanitarian crisis in Syria is not going to impact the ongoing U.S. support for the Ukrainians and, of course, the ongoing crisis there.

And she did talk about President Biden calling on Congress to act swiftly, to act immediately to pass that supplemental funding bill that will allow the U.S. support for the Ukrainian crisis to be continued. And she said essentially that she believes that Congress, given their bipartisan support for how President Biden has approached this conflict, does understand just how high the stakes are.

Listen to what she said this morning.


LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Both sides have been supportive of the president's initiative and I think that they all understand that if we are not there to continue that support what it would mean for the Ukrainian effort to defend themselves against the Russians.


ATWOOD: And, of course, we know that the amount of funding that the Biden administration currently has is going to run out in about 10 days, so time is of the essence here. And Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield said that this money is necessary to make sure that Ukrainians are able to continue defending their democracy and their people -- John.

BERMAN: Look, the aid package is a huge aid package and there really does seem to be a new push in Washington to get it through quickly.

Kylie Atwood in Brussels for us this morning. Kylie, thank you so much.

KEILAR: The U.S. military is ramping up its weapons training for Ukrainian forces, but those on the ground say they're lacking some basic items like batteries, tools, and even manuals that are written in Ukrainian.

We're joined now by Anton. He is a Ukrainian-American volunteer who trained Ukrainian soldiers on these weapons systems. Anton, thank you so much for being with us. You're joining us from Houston but you're just back from Ukraine where you spent time in the east.

Can you tell us what you were finding to be the biggest challenge for Ukrainian forces who were training, especially on Javelins?


You know, just being there on the ground, I -- the things that we saw -- the need that we saw was really that the -- we're really, really grateful for the West in supplying multiple varieties of anti-tank systems, and we're really grateful for that. One of the problems we ran into is that the units that are assigned

those items -- they didn't know how to use them, and there wasn't training that came with it. They gave the Javelins, gave the rockets. They didn't say how many batteries you're supposed to have. They didn't give them rechargeable batteries so they can practice.

They -- there was a lot of things -- there was a lot of gaps there and this is something that myself and other people like me have been trying to fill the gap in the last two months.


BERMAN: Well, has it been rectified now? I mean, are the forces on the front line -- are they -- do they have the weapons they need, and do they know how to use them?

ANTON: After several months of work -- like I said, there's more people like me. There's hundreds of people like me that go around the country and they help in any way they can. And we've trained over 120 Javelin operators as well as trainers. They can train others who have been multiplying that knowledge as far as it would go. We also have translated a manual and helped Ukrainians get their hands on that.

And also, Mark Hayward has been a friend of mine and we have been working together. He's been petitioning and lobbying in his -- in his senators to increase the amount of training equipment that's going to hit the country. So we're hoping that that's going to really take root and we're looking to make a big difference.

KEILAR: We had Mark on the program last week and the Pentagon watched the interview with interest, they said. So, they'll probably watch this one, Anton, with interest as well.

Can you tell -- if you were talking to them specifically and you wanted to tell them the things that Ukrainians needed, whether it was a manual that is in Ukrainian instead of English so they aren't using Google Translate for a highly-technical manual -- you know, what would your list -- what would your list include? Or even it was coordination they need to do with the Ukrainians to make sure that certain things accompany these weapons systems, what would you tell them?

ANTON: There's already an existing program out there in Poland where they move the Ukrainian troops to Poland and then train them. However, that's not the most effective way to do this.

The most effective way is to have mobile training teams -- people like myself. Volunteers not associated with military or anything like that. We come, we go where the troops are. We provide them the training on the spot within 10 kilometers from the front line. Then they pick up those weapons, they head straight to their line, and then they're ready to start making a difference. That's the most effective way.

Say you took 100 guys and split them into teams of two and made 50 mobile teams. You can travel -- in two weeks you can hit every major battalion on the front line and you can provide them that vital training. BERMAN: Well, it sounds like you were pretty close to the action and you learned a lot about the Ukrainian forces. What have you learned about the Russians and their capabilities?

ANTON: That's an excellent question. It is my personal belief -- and I'm a civilian so take this with a grain of salt -- but just my personal belief the Russian army is incredibly incompetent -- incredibly. If they couldn't kill a civilian like me that's why they struggle. That's why they struggle to advance and that's why they're dying by the hundreds every day.

And the only reason why they have success is just the sheer amount of ammunition that they have. That is really, honestly, the only reason. They come, they shoot at everything that moves, and sometimes they hit something. And they're very, very good at just -- at just wasting ammunition on our cities.

KEILAR: Anton, you have family in Ukraine -- close family, including engaged in the fight. Can you tell me about that? Tell me about what your worries are?

ANTON: You know, like I said, we very, very much appreciate Western support. It's been amazing. And it's not just the United States -- don't get me wrong. Europe has been -- has been really, really great with the help of volunteers, and everybody's been trying to help.

So my biggest worry about is my family is fighting there on the front line. I mean, they are as close as it gets.

And my biggest worry is that we not only need things like Javelins, but we also need drones. We need night vision. We need things that are not basic equipment. Things that are kind of higher-level equipment that really makes a difference in fighting at night, fighting at longer distances. Surveillance identifying the enemies -- where they are and their approaches before they get close.

So those kind of tools are really, really critical. And I wish whoever is listening, if you have the power to do it -- drones, night vision, thermal -- all those things are -- make a huge difference at the war.

And it is my -- I'm going to end this. It is my personal belief if our friends continue to supply us the ammunition and the weapons systems, Ukraine will not only be able to stop the enemies where they are, they'll be able to drive them all the way back to their borders.

KEILAR: Anton, thank you. Fort Texas, l believe, is how the Ukrainians called you while you were over there. Anton, we thank you for being with us.

ANTON: That's correct.

KEILAR: A very unique perspective that you're bringing having been with the forces over there, and we thank you for sharing that with us.

ANTON: Thank you. KEILAR: CNN in the Black Sea following along as NATO special forces train there. How they're navigating the waters as Russian and Ukrainian forces fight for control.


BERMAN: And soon, President Biden will announce the steps his administration is taking to further curb rising inflation. This, as gas prices hit a record high this morning. A key member of his economic team will join us.


BERMAN: When the United States made its hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan the Taliban made a number of promises about how it would rule that country. Have those promises held up?

John Avlon with a reality check.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Remember Afghanistan? You know, America's longest war. Almost 20 years of fighting the Taliban, which ended in that chaotic withdrawal from Kabul.

It was big news last summer and ended up being a tipping point for President Biden's poll numbers. Look, I know -- our attention is elsewhere, like the Russian invasion of Ukraine and attempts to overturn Roe v. Wade. But just because we turn away doesn't mean the problems go away.


And that's why this headline caught my eye -- "Taliban decree orders women in Afghanistan to cover their faces." That's right -- the burka is back in Afghanistan, along with requirements that women stay mostly indoors. But this might seem like a surprise to you unless you've been paying attention to all those Taliban promises that they'd changed during their peace negotiations.

You see, during the diplomatic rounds in Doha with the Trump envoys, the Taliban took pains to present a new image. They said they'd be more inclusive and responsible. But not everyone bought into the act. As one analyst wrote in The Washington Post, "Yes, the Taliban has changed -- it's gotten much better at P.R."

And here's one tale. The core agreement with the Trump team was that the Taliban would not harbor terrorists. A Taliban spokesman even said it on CNN.


SUHAIL SHAHEEN, TALIBAN SPOKESMAN: We know it is not in the interest of our people and of our country that anyone use the soil of Afghanistan.

(END VIDEO CLIP) AVLON: Here's the thing. A 2020 U.N. report showed that promise was already being broken by the Taliban by keeping close ties with al Qaeda.

Now, when the Biden administration began following through withdrawal and the elected Afghan government fell, the Taliban assured observers that it would protect women's rights and media freedoms, and offer amnesty to their Afghan opponents. Guess how long that lasted? Within days, the U.N. reported the Taliban was going house-to-house hunting down their opponents.

And so much for freedom of the press. More than 200 local news organizations were forced to close by December.

But the oppression of women remained a Taliban signature. Their promise to allow girls to pursue an education was stopped literally the day schools reopened. And not only that, the Taliban's ministry for the propagation of virtue and the prevention of vice -- real name -- also decided to ban the presence of women on all T.V. dramas, soap operas, and entertainment shows.

And, of course, there were other assaults on equality, like bans on women driving unaccompanied and uncovered for long distances. As The Economist says, "The Taliban are shackling half the population."

And their draconian policies have resulted in the return of the '90s era music ban, while reports of violence against the LGBTQ community have spiked since the Taliban retook control.

But the ideological cruelty is matched only by their governmental incompetence, with economic collapse and widespread starvation. And their old destruction of monuments and soccer stadium massacres may not be far behind.

So it's easy to see why CNN's Nic Robertson memorably described the rural conservative Taliban as the "most unlikely of populists: brutal, myopic, the epitome of intolerance."

Populism, fundamentalism, authoritarianism -- they're all related in their belief that might makes right -- a rejection of maturity (ph) and self-determination.

So why am I mentioning this now? Because it's happening and because it's a reminder of some basic truths. First, U.S. withdrawal from the world does not increase peace, prosperity, and justice but frequently does the opposite.

Second, progress is not permanent or self-sustaining. The educational gains of a generation of women and girls are being wiped out by fundamentalists in Afghanistan. The war on women is not some bumper sticker there. It's an everyday assault on freedom and equality.

And finally, fundamentalists never really want to change. After all, they're fighting change. What they want is power. And the return of the Taliban is a bloody reminder of what Maya Angelou once said. "When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time." And that's your reality check.

BERMAN: All right, John Avlon. Thank you very much for that.

And NEW DAY continues right now.

Good morning to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. It is Tuesday, May 10. I'm John Berman with Brianna Keilar.

And this morning, economic anxiety growing across the country. Gas prices hit a new nominal record this morning -- $4.37 a gallon. This comes as prices for everything from groceries to plane tickets continue to rise.

Meantime, stocks -- the stock market taking a huge hit amidst all the uncertainty.

KEILAR: Today, President Biden is set to deliver what's billed as a major speech on his plans for inflation. A preview suggesting he also plans to attack Republican plans.

Joining me now is the chair of President Biden's Council of Economic Advisers, Cecilia Rouse. Cecilia, thank you so much for being with us.

You know, as these gas prices are hitting this record high, I wonder when you're expecting that's going to ease so that Americans can get some relief.