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Chick-Fil-A Worker Rescues Mom & Baby During Attempted Carjacking; Damning Report: Pandemic Response Was "Massive Global Failure"; World Health Organization Chief: End Of COVID "Is In Sight"; FL Governor Send 2 Planes Of Migrants To Martha's Vineyard; New "Little Mermaid" To Be Disney's Second Black Princess. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired September 15, 2022 - 07:30   ET




BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Police in Florida are praising a Chick- fil-A restaurant worker for intervening and rescuing a mother and her baby from a would be carjacker. Here's this moment.




KEILAR: Now, official say the worker, Michael Gordon, this is him. He ran to help the screaming woman after the suspect grabbed her keys and tried to take her car just as she was getting her child out of the vehicle. 43-year-old William Branch has been charged with carjacking and battery. The woman and her baby are fine.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So you are blowing the COVID response. That sentiment expressed to former President Trump from Melania Trump. According to a new book set to be released next week, the former First Lady was rattled by the virus and convinced that her husband was messing up. "You're blowing this, she recalled telling her husband," the author's write. "And this is serious. It's going to be really bad and you need to take it more seriously than you're taking it."

So he, apparently, according to the book, dismissed her saying, "You worry too much," she remember him saying. "Forget it." Is all part of a new book coming out next week, "The Divider" Trump in the White House, 2017 to 2021" written by Peter Baker of The New York Times and Susan Glasser of The New Yorker.


KEILAR: The pandemic death toll is a, quote, profound tragedy and a massive global failure at multiple levels. That is a conclusion of a new report published yesterday in the medical journal, The Lancet. To break down the findings, let's talk now with CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. So Sanjay, the coronavirus death toll, of course, it's now at more than 6 million. What did the Lancet Commission cite as the biggest missteps here?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there were some significant criticisms, as you might imagine. If you look at the numbers overall, globally, as you pointed out, Brianna, more than 6 million people have died in the United States, you got 1 million of those 6 million. So, you know, we're not even 5 percent of the world's population in the United States yet accounted for that proportion of deaths.

So this was -- these are -- there all sorts of things the Lancet Commission looked, at what point did scientists, government start using evidence that was coming in? Were there adequate supplies of personal protective equipment? How quick was the response, even in terms of declaring this a pandemic.

You may remember, Brianna, that CNN, for example, you know, cited that this was a pandemic before the World Health Organization just based on the data and the evidence that was coming in. One thing I'll just tell you quickly, Brianna, they really focused in on, was this idea that the virus was being spread airborne, versus just respiratory droplets.

You may remember initially, you know, there was just all this talk about, hey, keep, you know, 6 feet away, and it's only going to spread via respiratory droplets. But what this commission really said is that basically, since January of 2022, there was evidence that this could spread airborne.

You remember the Diamond Princess in the spring of 2020, that they -- there was plenty of evidence then that people were getting this virus, they were getting infected, despite the fact that they had no specific contact with people with the virus. So it must have been spreading airborne.

But really, if you look at the timeline, despite all the evidence that was accumulating, it wasn't until the end of last year, December of 2021, when the WHO finally said, yes, this does seem to spread airborne in all sorts of different settings. That could have made a huge difference in terms of how this was approached, could have made a huge difference in terms of the recommending of masks, and specifically, you know, N95, or KN95 masks.

Those were the types of things that the Lancet Commission really focused on. But again, the idea that this was a worldwide problem, there were obviously countries that were more effective than others. But there are a lot of lessons learned here.

KEILAR: Did the report praise anything?

GUPTA: Yes, I mean, there were a couple of things. I think the biggest thing was really the vaccines. And just, you know, you may remember that before the vaccines were authorized, the fastest, the quickest that a vaccine and ever been authorized in the past took several years, four years at least. And typically, they took a decade. So the fact that you could get vaccines authorized within a year, that was one of the biggest sources of praise.

But you know, look at the vaccination rates around the world, United States around 67 percent. Europe around the same, but in Africa, still about a quarter, 25 percent. That's an issue, because one of the things that comes up when we talk about infectious diseases, and they mentioned this is that outbreaks anywhere can become outbreaks everywhere. So you really have to think about vaccines as much praise as they got more equity in terms of distribution because, you know, that affects the entire world.

KEILAR: Yes. When you look at that number in the U.S., right, that's not a number of availability. That's the number of the people --

GUPTA: That's right.

KEILAR: -- who wanted it got it. You look at the number in Africa and it's an availability issue that you see there. So a slight shift in tone we've seen the World Health Organization Director General delivered this more hopeful message during the latest briefing. I want to take a listen to this.


DR. TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, WHO DIRECTOR GENERAL: We have never been in a better position to end the pandemic. We're not there yet. But the end is inside.


KEILAR: What do you think of that, Sanjay?

GUPTA: W ell, it's the first time we've heard Tedros talk like that really, you know, since the spring of 2020. So it is a more hopeful message. And, you know, it does match at least some of the data that we're seeing. If you look worldwide, at just overall debts, you do see that the -- you know, you can look at the trend line there.

I mean, we created these graphs going back to sort of give you a vision of the entire pandemic. So going back to sort of January of 2020. Yes, I mean, look where we were, before this all started, look where we are now. It hopefully will stay there. And even if you look in the United States specifically -- and I've always said as, you know, Brianna, that hospitalizations is probably the truest metric of things because that's getting you a better idea of exactly what's going on and the impact on hospitalizations.


That's where we are in the United States right now. So we're in a much better position. I think some in the public health community were a little surprised by Tedros's remarks, because, you know, we are going into a cooler and drier season in the fall. And that is typically when you start to see surges, but nevertheless, trend lines that we've been following for more than two years now. At least at this point, Brianna, all look like they're going in the right direction.

KEILAR: Yes, that is good news. Sanjay, thank you so much.

Next, we'll be joined by Massachusetts State Representative Dylan Fernandes with reaction to migrants being flown to Martha's Vineyard.

BERMAN: And actor Ryan Reynolds reveals he lost a bet that might have saved his life.



KEILAR: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, taking credit for sending two planes carrying undocumented migrants to Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts. The statement from his office said, quote, "Florida can confirm the two planes with illegal immigrants that arrived in Martha's Vineyard today were part of the state's relocation program to transport illegal immigrants to sanctuary destinations."

An estimated 50 migrants arrived on the island Wednesday afternoon. Local officials were not notified ahead of time, and the community scrambled to accommodate them. Joining us now is Democratic State Representative for Martha's Vineyard, Dylan Fernandes. He is on the ground helping set up shelters for migrants.

Sir, thank you for being with us this morning. Can you just tell us what happened and how the island is mobilizing to respond to this?

DYLAN FERNANDES (D), MASSACHUSETTS STATE REPRESENTATIVE: Yes, it's good to be with you. This is an island community that sprang into action as soon as immigrants arrived. We put together shelter, we put together 50 beds, food, water, health care services, and I've been marshaling resources around interpretation services, immigration attorneys, trying to get people the help and support that they need.

There was no heads up that these people were coming. But as soon as they arrived, this community came together as a community that supports immigrants. And right now, everyone, is healthy, has the resources that they need, are being served breakfast right now by the church. They're going to have lunch being served by their school system here. And so we're doing everything we can to support this children, women and families that showed up.

BERMAN: How are they doing, if you had a chance to communicate with these some 50 people of all ages, including children?

FERNANDES: Well, look, a lot of these people are confused. Some were told that they were going to New York, they were told that when they got here, they'd be met by people to give them jobs and a place to live. When these plans arrived, there was no there heads up to the local community at all. And so these people had to walk several miles just to get to a place, Martha's Vineyard Community Services, to alert them that they needed help.

I mean, just think about that. Think about the governor of Florida. So one of the largest states in the nation, spending his time hatching a secret plot to ship up 50 immigrants here families, children as young as four, and use them as political pawns, just so he could get on Tucker Carlson and beat his chest about his -- about how he's tough on immigration.

He is a coward. And the real story here is about the island community that has rallied to come together to support these people. They represent the best of what America has to offer.

KEILAR: And look, there are people who live on Martha's Vineyard year- round. It's also a very exclusive vacation destination. And it's made famous by the fact that former President Obama has a very luxurious property there, as do a number of well-known people. Why do you think the governor chose Martha's Vineyard?

FERNANDES: Well, it shows it just as a political talking point. The truth is, this is an island of immigrants. A third of our school system here is minority. We have 20 percent of our students here, who our ELL students, English as a second language students. The growth and population here over the past decade from the last census is almost entirely from immigrants. This is an incredibly diverse and welcoming community. We always will be, and we're going to continue that tradition.

BERMAN: Representative --

FERNANDES: And so --

BERMAN: I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt. I was just reading some of the things you've been writing over the last several hours. And you've been talking about the faith of some of the people who've been making these decisions. What do you mean exactly?

FERNANDES: Well, look, we have, you know, a person here and Republicans who claim to be of the Christian faith that claim to be wanting to help one another, help the most vulnerable, and to ship families here, children here on a lie, and use them as political pawns is a truly inhumane thing to do.


What is humane is our local church here, St. Andrew's Parish, that put these people up, that has housing 50 people overnight that is serving them breakfast this morning. We are helping our neighbors here. We are helping the most vulnerable. And we're an island community. And we're a state in Massachusetts that is proud to do that.

KEILAR: State Representative Dylan Fernandes, we appreciate you being with us this morning. And we'll keep an eye on this story as Martha's Vineyard is obviously figuring out this process of accommodating these migrants if they were not told we're coming. Thank you.

FERNANDES: Thank you.

KEILAR: Ahead more on the tentative deal that was reached after 20 consecutive hours of negotiations to avert a freight rail strike that would have had huge ramifications.

BERMAN: And the reactions to live action "Little Mermaid" keep pouring in.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Run, Ariel. Run, Ariel. It's cute.




BERMAN: Disney is planning to bring an Israeli superhero to the big screen. Sabra has made numerous appearances in Marvel Comics over the years, including with the Incredible Hulk, Iron Man and the X-Men. Now she's set to feature in a new Captain America film next year. This is a move that has offended some people.

CNN's Hadas Gold has the story.

HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, while their fans excited for a Jewish-Israeli superhero, who was first introduced to the Marvel world in 1980, there's also been backlash. Palestinian activists and analysts say the character Sabra is insensitive and dehumanizing to Palestinians and worry will spread offensive stereotypes about Arabs as violent terrorists.

And then there's the issue with Sabra's name and the timing. Now, Sabra was named after the nickname for a person born in Israel. It's the Hebrew word for the prickly pear fruit, but it's also similar to one of the names of a Palestinian community and Lebanon where in 1982, a massacre of more than 1,000 civilians was carried out by the Lebanese Christian militia that was working with Israel during the Lebanon-Israel war.

And the 40th anniversary of that massacre is this week. Marvel said in a statement while our characters and stories are inspired by the comics in the MCU, they're always freshly imagined for the screen. And today's audiences and the filmmakers are taking on a new approach with the character. So there will be a lot of critical eyes watching when the film premieres in May of 2024.

Hadas Gold, CNN, Jerusalem.

KEILAR: Disney introducing its first ever live action black princess.




KEILAR: The new "Little Mermaid" will be played by Grammy nominated singer and Beyonce protege, Halle Bailey and children are just over the moon about this.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Run, Ariel. Run, Ariel. It's cute.


KEILAR: All right, joining us now is CNN Digital Senior Entertainment Writer, Lisa France. I kind of get a tear in my eye just watching their little, you know, their little eyebrows go up in recognition as they see someone who looks like them on the screen. It's just amazing to witness that joy.

LISA FRANCE, DIGITAL SENIOR ENTERTAINMENT WRITER: It is this. This is what we mean when we talk about Black Girl Magic and Black Boy Joy. I mean, I'm about to weep like a ocean full of tears. It's just so uplifting and sweet. And I need more content like this, is basically what I'm saying. It's just beautiful.

KEILAR: You see how it matters when you just sort of put it there and wait to see what happens. Here's the thing, and this is kind of I think one of the ugly sides of this, though, is this isn't totally well received.

FRANCE: Not at all.

KEILAR: And I don't get this, Lisa, why. Because we see -- I mean, the Little Mermaid isn't real, right? The Star Wars characters, they aren't real. Hobbits, they aren't real. Why are people, you know, why -- I mean, I know why. But you have people who get so upset about this total -- it's not like they're changing some sort of historical figures. So I just don't even get it.

FRANCE: Well, you know, what is real. Racism is real, unfortunately.


FRANCE: And people get so offended. I mean, and those who say we're always trying to make things about race, people make it about race when they're online. And they're trying to debate the fact that, oh, she couldn't have darker skin because she's a mermaid and she's under the water, and the sun wouldn't be able to reach her. That's about race.

So, you know, to say, oh, we're not making it about race, we just don't want to see this remade. There was no reason for it. I just wish people would keep the same energy for racism as they do when they get called out about racism. That would be -- I want to be a part of that world, actually.

KEILAR: Yes. We're just an -- we're in a new era of representation. Hamilton, you know, for instance. I do want to ask you, though, if we're talking about the Little Mermaid. What are they going to do about this kind of age-old criticism of this is a woman who gives away her voice at least temporarily, for a man.

FRANCE: Again, it's fiction. It's a feel-good movie. It's, you know, it's one of those things where if you take it super-duper seriously, you kind of stripped the fun out of it. And we don't know yet how they're going to deal with that because as we're seeing in a lot of remakes, they're trying to speak to the political correctness of our age and also empowering young women. And so, you know, we don't know.