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New Day Sunday
Biden To Address Afghanistan And Tropical Storm Today; Henri Expected To Bring Flooding, Power Outages To Northeast; Source: Full FDA Approval Of Pfizer Vaccine "As Early As Monday"; Four Georgia Mayors Take On Kemp's No Virus Mandates Order; Israel Lowers Age For Booster Shots As COVID Cases Surge; More Than 50 Million Under Threat As Henri Closes In On Northeast. Aired 7-8a ET
Aired August 22, 2021 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. It is Sunday, August 22nd. Thank you so much for joining us. I'm Boris Sanchez.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Christi Paul. So good to have you with us this morning.
Listen, more than 50 million people are under hurricane and tropical warnings as we speak. Henri is bearing down on the Northeast. There are dangerous storm surges and widespread power outages that are feared.
SANCHEZ: Yeah, and right now the storm has downgraded to a tropical storm from a hurricane. It is about 65 miles south of Long Island, New York. Severe weather conditions being felt across southern New England.
PAUL: And it is bringing some heavy rains and strong winds already to the region, which officials say people need to be prepared for. Here is what one New York emergency management official told us earlier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RYAN MURPHY, SOUTHHAMPTON, NY EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT ADMINSTRATOR: We have been in conversation with the power company. They are staging crews. They have crews out in the area ready to respond. I know they brought in a lot of assets from out of the area. We are hopeful we don't see a lot of outages, but people have already noticed that they should expect that power could be out for seven to ten days, maybe even two weeks if we start to see significant, you know, devastation in the way of, you know, trees coming down on power lines and a large amount of debris.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: Our team of correspondents fanned out across the Northeast and New England tracking the impacts of Henri. We are checking in with them throughout the morning, of course. SANCHEZ: Yeah, but, first the latest on the forecast. And
meteorologist Allison Chinchar joins us now in the CNN weather center.
Allison, from hurricane to tropical storm, the damage this storm can do though not really any different, right?
ALLISON CHINCHAR, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Right. I want to emphasize that. This does not change the impacts that we have been talking about. It's really just a number. In fact, I want to point out the wind gusts did not change. That was 90 miles per hour last hour, it was 90 miles per hour the hour before that. That has remained the same.
The only that has just recently changed is the sustained winds went from 75 miles per hour to 70. It's a difference of 5 miles per hour. Otherwise, not really purchase of a difference. That does make a difference of the name title. It goes from a hurricane to a tropical storm.
But the outer bands already still moving in across several states this morning. Landfall is still expected just a few hours from now. Most likely over eastern Long Island and areas of western Rhode Island as well.
So, anywhere basically from the Hamptons up to about Newport, Rhode Island would be the best target point. It's going to continue to move inland before making a very sharp turn to turn out to the east. Storm surge is significant today. For some areas it's the next several hours where the worst of the storm surge is going to take place.
The one thing to note, too, a lot of these high tides, a lot of these areas have yet to hit high tide. So, we are in that high tide cycle, meaning the water is coming up and it's a coming up as well because of the tropical system. You have that double wham there of dealing with the storm surge and the high tide.
Outer bands have been producing very heavy rain across New Jersey, but we are starting to see them spread into other states as well. Very heavy rain. Look at the yellow and red from a couple of hours ago into New Jersey stretching, over into Philadelphia as well. Now some of those other bands pushing into Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and even along Eastern Long Island we have got some very heavy bands moving through the Hamptons as we speak. This is why we have things such as flash flood watches and flash flood warnings.
And this could expand as we go throughout the rest of the day once we really get a look at where some of those outer bands are going to go through. Here is the thing: some areas have already had several inches of rain. Look at this. Brooklyn over 6 inches of rain, Central Park's already had about 5 inches of rain and the key thing is more is yet to come. They are likely to get several more inches and those wind gusts are there which likely will lead to power outages.
PAUL: All right. Allison Chinchar, thank you so much.
SANCHEZ: Let's get an update from the ground. Our CNN reporters are out in the storm. Brian Todd is in Groton, Connecticut, and Shimon Prokupecz is in New York on Long Island.
Brian, officials there expecting major power outages in Connecticut today. Give us a sense of how things are in the moment. It seems windier right now than it did earlier when we checked in with you.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Boris. That wind that Allison was talking about, a short time ago we got pounded by one of the bands of rain.
A little bit of a lull in the rain now. But we know it's coming back and it's going to come back with some force in the coming hours. Now that we have the light of day out here I can show you a little bit more of the situation here and what is raising the concern in the low- lying areas of Groton like here and in New London across the Thames River over there.
Now, over here you have a seawall by this home here. This is a seawall of 4, 5 feet high. It remains to be seen if it will be able to keep back the storm surge and the high tide in the only coming hours. That may or may not happen, but then you've got a situation like over here. This is an area they call the concrete beach here in Groton.
Our photojournalist is going to pan over and show you the concrete beach. Now, is this enough to hold back the storm surge and the high tides? There is not much that will keep that surge back from flooding this road. This is Shore Avenue here in Groton.
And these homes are vulnerable. The mayor, Keith Hedrick, yesterday ordered a mandatory evacuation of this neighborhood and an adjacent neighborhood. They had police knocking on doors telling people to get out because the low-lying area here, you have got also a lot of these neighborhoods along the Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island coast, you've got water on two sides. Here, you have, the Thames River over here and beyond that point of land there, you have Long Island sound.
So, again low-lying areas, lots of water surrounding these neighborhoods, storm surge three to five feet in the next three to four hours. You've got the high tide within three hours from now and you have got two high tides you are dealing with today. So, again, real concern here along the Connecticut coast, guys.
SANCHEZ: Brian Todd from Groton, Connecticut. We hope you stay out of harm's way. Thanks, Brian.
PAUL: Shimon Prokupecz is live for us in Montauk, New York, and he has been watching some real progress there in terms of the tide already this morning.
Shimon, what is it like this hour?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, well, you can see what's happening. The water is actually starting to get closer to the dunes more inland. That is the big concern here. You have heard from officials. You had someone on air last hour talking about the turning. That is going to be the concern here.
We are just about two hours or so away from high tide and officials here certainly bracing for what could potentially be two to five feet of water that goes inward into the neighborhood here.
There are some homes here, obviously, lots of hotels. We just saw a woman running by. So, clearly, some of the residents here unfazed by this.
But this is the story here. It's not so much the rain. It's not so much the win, at least at this moment. It is the surge. It is the waves that are coming in, crashing in along the shore here.
And, you know, we are just two hours, two hours away from high tide. So certainly officials here expecting it to get much worse. They are saying this is the main concern from them right now.
The other thing I want to point out is that emergency officials yesterday said they were going to pre-position emergency response vehicles across areas specifically in Long Island in anticipation potential water rescues. Concern is people did not leave. People are staying behind even though I was coming in here last night, I saw a lot of cars heading west along the highway here. So it's unclear how many people have stayed behind. But that is going to be the big concern whether or not officials are going to have to respond to any kind of rescues and to get people out.
The other big concern is power outages. Officials here are expecting that there is going to be many. So, they're going to be dealing with that as well. Obviously, the biggest concern, as you can see behind me right now, are the waves here and the surge and we are about two hours away from high tide.
PAUL: Shimon Prokupecz, do take care of yourself and crew there. Thank you so much.
So the storm is bringing those heavy rains and as it does so there are a lot of residents and business owners in the Northeast trying to get ready for some major flooding.
Mark Hellendrung is one who owns a brewery and taproom.
As I understand it, Mark, thank you for being with us, you are a few hundred feet from the Providence, Rhode Island, harbor?
MARK HELLENDRUNG, PRESIDENT, NARRAGANSETT BEER: That's right. We are right at the tip of the bay on the river there. Just about a quarter mile east of the hurricane barrier. So we're right there.
PAUL: So how are you feeling this morning?
HELLENDRUNG: A little jittery. Hopefully, things will go well. I remember when I saw the first news Thursday we were like a direct bull's-eye the hurricane was going to come up in the bay and hit our brewery is only about four months old. So I was a little bit nervous. Thankfully, it's veered a little bit to the west. PAUL: Wait. Your brewery is only four months old?
HELLENDRUNG: Yeah. So, well, Narragansett is 130 years ago, but I brought it up 16 years ago, and we finally built our brewery on the waterfront there.
And it's a beautiful location. Beautiful views of the river. We're right there. That's for sure.
PAUL: Oh, mark. And I understand you were surprised to learn that your business is just outside FEMA's designated special flood hazard area even though you are right there on the harbor?
HELLENDRUNG: Yeah, we are right there on the harbor. We are elevated just a little bit. As I mentioned, we are by the hurricane barrier. Providence got wiped out in 1938 and again in '54 and they built that in the '60s. So, I don't think it's been tested yet. So, if we need it, hopefully, it works.
PAUL: So, I was going to say, what does that mean for you then?
HELLENDRUNG: For today, you know, we will have a staff meeting at 10:00 and we usually open at noon. I think based on the latest I have seen, I think we are going to open today. We will keep monitoring it and hope for the best.
PAUL: So you haven't had any thoughts of evacuating? Is that right?
HELLENDRUNG: Not yet. So, we're in the city. I actually live near the water. It's been raining incredibly hard for a couple of hours. But so far, so good.
PAUL: And as I under it, you would then be, based on your location, and please correct me if I'm wrong here, depending on the Fox Point Hurricane Protection Barrier. That's, what, a mile south of downtown. But are you near that and how much will you depend on that?
HELLENDRUNG: We are totally dependent on that. So essentially there is a about a 78 -- very thin that kind of rings the harbor there, and we're about a half-mile to the east of that hurricane barrier. So, yeah, so if they close that, then we need it.
PAUL: Real quickly, we hear that it's possible power could be out for two to three weeks. How do you anticipate managing through that? I mean, what happens to this new opening of four months ago?
HELLENDRUNG: Well, fortunately, we put up a pretty serious backup power system just because we've got to keep the beer cold to keep it from fermenting. That was important for us. But, you know, obviously, everyone in the city is in a different situation and we will have to manage our way through it.
PAUL: Mark Hellendrung, we are so grateful you took time to talk to us today. Take good care of yourself and your crew there. We are keeping our fingers crossed for you.
HELLENDRUNG: All right. Thank you. Have a great day.
PAUL: You as well.
SANCHEZ: President Joe Biden canceled a weekend in Delaware to stay in Washington and closely monitor Hurricane Henri as well as the escalating crisis in Afghanistan. We are going to give you a preview of what we can expect to hear from the president this afternoon.
Stay with us.
PAUL: Seventeen minutes past the hour right now.
We are going to hear from the president this afternoon on pressing issues at home and abroad. The evacuation of Americans and allies from Afghanistan, of course, as well as the storm that is closing in on the northeast.
SANCHEZ: President Biden spoke with the region's governors pledging to help areas affected by heavy rains, strong wind and power outages.
Let's get to the White House now an d CNN White House correspondent Arlette Saenz who joins us.
Arlette, tell us more about what the president is doing this weekend. He was supposed to be in Wilmington. Instead, he is at the White House getting briefings not just on the storms but also what's going on in Afghanistan.
ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Boris and Christi.
President Biden canceled his weekend trip to Wilmington, Delaware, and instead remains at the White House where he is monitoring Hurricane Henri and that developing situation in Afghanistan. Now, an official tells me the president will be briefed throughout the day on Hurricane Henri and the storm's trajectory, but he already started preparations on Saturday.
The president held a phone call with governors from Northeastern states and joining him in that call in the oval office was the FEMA administrator, Deanne Criswell, where she outlined the steps FEMA has been taking heading into the storm, including deploying about 700 response personnel and also providing supplies to the regional like generators and food and tarps.
And overnight, President Biden approved an emergency declaration for the state of Rhode Island. It is possible we could see more of those types of emergency declarations as the day progresses, as states submit requests for those to be conducted. But right now, so much of the president and the federal government's efforts are trying to ensure that these states have resources to respond to this hurricane.
Another issue that was discussed on that phone call with the governors was the steps that power companies and utility companies are taking in preparation for the storm as they are potentially could face power outages in the Northeast.
Now, in addition to this hurricane, the president also will be briefed this morning on the situation in Afghanistan and we will hear directly from the president at 4:00 p.m. both on Hurricane Henri and Afghanistan -- Boris and Christi.
PAUL: Arlette Saenz, we will certainly bring that to everyone live when it happens, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
So let's talk about the tropical storm conditions that are starting to spread across parts of New England right now. Henri is expected to reach the Northeast really in the next few hours. Heavy rains have been swept throughout this weekend throughout that region though and local officials are just pleading with people to stay safe ahead of the expected storm surge. There have been vaccination situations, we should point out, as well.
SANCHEZ: Yeah, CNN's team of correspondents is on standby ready to bring you the very latest.
Let's start with meteorologist Derek Van Dam. He is in Newport, Rhode Island.
Derek, an emergency declaration has already been approved for Rhode Island. I'm wondering what it looks like where you are right now.
DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, if you can hear behind me, we are getting that all too family sound of an approaching tropical storm just bending around the mass of some of the sailboats that call this particular harbor home. We will get to those details in a moment.
This is a completely different Newport harbor than 24 hours ago. If you go back a couple of days, remember, we thought this storm would be fish food. Now it's arriving on the shores of Southern New England and the impacts will be felt and unfolding in the next couple of hours, as Henri makes his final approach.
Some good news. It's interacting with cold ocean water, so it is down graded to a tropical storm. We are splitting hairs when we talk about a low end category 1 hurricane and a high end tropical storm. What you have behind me is the winner of 1962 America's Cup. There's a lot of America's Cup sailboats that call Newport, and we are going talk to the owner, Steve Eddleston, from this particular beautiful vessel behind me.
I want to ask you if you don't mind how you prepare a ship of this magnitude from an on coming tropical storm.
STEVE EDDLESTON, RHODE ISLAND RESIDENT: Very good. Thank you for having me.
By the way, her name is Weatherly, which is kind of --
VAN DAM: How apropos.
EDDLESTON: Yes. So we, obviously, have been tracking the storm for the last several days. We thought it was going over towards Connecticut and now, of course, closer to here. So we will be watching the boat closely all day. As you can see we have a lot of mooring lines. We have doubled up on the lines fore and aft. We have breast anchors that go out sideways into the channel over here to keep the boat off the dock. So we have extra anchors, extra mooring lines, obviously, everything that can move on the boat has been stowed down below and we will be watching her every half an hour or so.
VAN DAM: I have been in harbors during severe tropical storms. If these things are not battened down properly they can loosen and they become a literal barge missile on open water. They can sway into things and cause destruction. I appreciate your time telling me about your Weatherly vessel, the winner of the America's Cup in 1962. Quite an honor just be able to see that and talk to the owner as well.
New England hasn't seen a hurricane in 30 years. Of course, now a tropical storm. But regardless, impacts will be real here. Widespread power outages in this particular area the main concern.
Let's send it back to you in the studio.
PAUL: All right. Derek Van Dam, we appreciate it. Take good care out there.
Alison Kosik is in Long Beach, New York, right now.
So, Alison, it may seem on the surface that since it's been downgraded to a tropical storm maybe it won't be as bad, but you are standing on the beach and in a place that knows far too well that designation doesn't necessarily mean anything at this point.
ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You're absolutely right about that, Christi. This is an area, long beach, on the south shore of Long Island that was devastated by Superstorm Sandy because of the flooding. So, yes, you are seeing residents brace for, you know, whatever the effects of Henri will be. And that at this point is unknown. We are not sure if it's going to be a hurricane when it does hit Long Island.
At this moment, Long Beach is under a tropical storm warning, a storm surge watch as well. The rain has begun to fall and we are beginning to more so than feeling it, seeing the effects of Henri. Look at the ocean. It's getting bigger, angrier, not deterring surfers from coming out here. A couple waiting to catch some waves. Of course, swimming at this beach is prohibited by the city.
The biggest concern here for Long Beach is flooding and I'm going to show you why. We are going to turn around and show you how close people live here to the beach. You see this big apartment building just beyond that is where the homes begin and that's where the devastation that I was just talking about hit for those residents after Superstorm Sandy. At this point the city has not issued any dined of evacuation order. It's not anticipated that that will in fact happen. But city officials have encouraged residents here to be prepared.
As for the storm surge, we are expecting high tide hitting here around 8:43. We will be watching for that -- Boris and Christi.
SANCHEZ: Yeah, Alison, I'm reminded of the coast guard official that we spoke to in the last hour to who was saying that nobody should be out on the water and yet there are surfers behind you trying to catch some waves. A terrible idea at this time.
Alison Kosik from Long Beach, New York, thank you so much.
PAUL: So, Israel is battling a surge in COVID cases, even though a majority of citizens are vaccinated. What they are doing to combat the spread. A live report for you from Jerusalem, next.
SANCHEZ: We have an update for you on civil rights leader Jesse Jackson and his wife Jacqueline. They had to be hospitalized after testing positive for COVID-19. Reverend Jackson's group says that doctors are monitoring their conditions but they have not released any further information about their status. We know that Reverend Jackson received at least one dose of the Pfizer vaccine back in January.
PAUL: Meanwhile, for the third day in the row, the CDC says more than a million Americans received a COVID vaccine. We could possibly be a day away as well from the FDA fully approving the Pfizer vaccine.
A source tells CNN full approval can happen, in fact, as soon as tomorrow.
CNN's Nadia Romero is live in Miami and she is talking about COVID.
Nadia, what is the latest that you're hearing? And good morning.
NADIA ROMERO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christi and Boris.
Well, I sat down with the pharmacists and an emergency room doctor here in Florida and both of them said, listen, getting FDA approval would only help to strengthen our argument as we're trying to convince people to take the vaccine. But as we know, if you are 12 and younger, you are not eligible to take the vaccine. So there is a lot of concern across this state where we are seeing spikes in COVID cases about kids going back to school. And there is an ongoing debate on whether or not kids should have to wear a mask in the classroom. So, listen, to how two governors describe what they think should happen in those classrooms.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: The parent really needs to be the one that is making the decision. And I think that that's the better way to do it.
GOV. JOHN BEL EDWARDS (D), LOUISIANA: You cannot keep schools open and children safe today without masks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMERO: So two very, very different opinions from two governors here in Florida. Governor Ron DeSantis saying he is going to strip the funding or salaries away from school districts that have mask mandates and some of the biggest ones, Alachua County, Broward County and then starting tomorrow, Miami-Dade County public schools will mask mandates. You can only opt out if you have a medical reason.
And the governor is pushing back on them and we are seeing this back and forth, we are waiting for Broward County to respond to the governor's go telling them at the beginning of the weekend they had 48 hours to allow an opt out so parents could say their kids didn't have to wear a mask in the classroom. We will monitor that and update you as soon as we learn more.
SANCHEZ: Complicated situation in Florida. Nadia Romero from Miami, thank you so much.
We want to take a look at Georgia now where Governor Brian Kemp signed an executive order that allows businesses to ignore COVID-19 restrictions. That action comes as a doctor in Atlanta is describing the number of patients flooding hospital and energy rooms as a tsunami.
Now, a group of Georgia mayors sent a letter to the governor pleading for stronger measures to slow the vicious fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
Joining us now is one of those mayors, Mayor Van Johnson of Savannah, Georgia.
Mayor, thank you so much for joining us this morning.
We appreciate you coming on. You are asking Governor Kemp -- of course, you're asking Governor Kemp to impose a mask mandate inside state buildings.
Here is part of the letter that the four mayors sent to the governor. Quote, while Governor Kemp may find it politically necessary to hue to the course of others who live in the shadow of the former president, we are more concerned with the health and livelihood of friend we see in the grocery store, at the schools where we bring our children each morning and who we encounter as we head into work.
Mayor, how do you expect Governor Kemp to respond?
MAYOR VAN JOHNSON (D), SAVANNAH, GEORGIA: Like he has been doing throughout this pandemic. Not to respond at all. I want to just thank Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta, Mayor Hardie Davis of Augusta and Mayor Kelly Girtz of Athens. These have been mayors who have just taken on the mantra of doing what it takes to protect their citizens when we have a governor that doesn't seemed to be interested in that at all.
SANCHEZ: So if he doesn't issue the mask mandate that you are requesting, what are you going to do next?
JOHNSON: Well, I mean, we have done that in our cities already. If you remember, Governor Kemp tried to sue Mayor Bottoms both professionally and personally. Of course, you know that did not work. Georgia ranks 48th nationally in fully vaccinated people over the age of 12. We rank seventh in COVID cases. We rank 12th in COVID deaths.
He issues an executive order essentially saying ignore local government and keep businesses open, but then on the other end of it, the state Department of Labor has been closed now for months. The governor's mansion remains closed. And we're just trying to protect our folks.
SANCHEZ: Mayor, let's talk about vaccinations. I want to show you and our viewers some stats. Right now, the ICU bed capacity at hospitals across Georgia is at 94 percent. There is not much margin for error. You can see in this graphic Georgia COVID hospitalizations over the last month have skyrocketed.
What is your message to folks who are still hesitant to get the vaccine?
JOHNSON: My message is that we have prayed -- last year we were praying for a solution. We got that in three vaccines that are proved by the FDA for emergency use. Too many people are getting sick. Too many people are dying, more than before.
That we don't have to go through this, the data is very, very clear. And so we just need people to do the right thing, take care of themselves. They would much rather suffer any side effect from the vaccine than they would from getting COVID itself, and again it's just been a very rough time for us.
We have great regional hospitals here. We are at capacity. Some locally here are on diversion.
That means some people who are sick, if they are not as sick, some decisions have to be made in terms of who to treat and not to treat.
So for us, again, we just want people to be well. I don't think that's too much to ask. And since we have a governor that, obviously, doesn't want to work with us, we have to take it on a local level.
SANCHEZ: Such an important point. The rate of COVID hospitalizations doesn't just affect COVID patients. It affects other people that need care for other ailments. I want to ask you specifically about one county in Georgia, Lamar County schools.
They've announced that schools are suspended for two weeks. They're going to return to virtual learning because of a skyrocketing number of cases of COVID. The district announced Friday afternoon that the county is having the fourth highest rates of COVID-19 cases in the state over the last two weeks.
When you see this kind of situation, does to make you worry about the rest of the school year and what it's going to be like for students in Georgia moving forward if they may have to continue pausing and staying away from the classroom because of outbreaks?
JOHNSON: Absolutely. Here in the Savannah Chatham Public School system, we are still open. So far I think they have done the best they can at being able to identify, isolating, communicate with those that have been infected or exposed to COVID. But this is going on across the state.
You know, our young people are getting sick. And a lot of it is because their parents are not vaccinated. And so that creates a bigger issue for us. We would just wish that our governor would partner with us and try to keep our young people safe, older folks safe, keep our communities safe instead of issuing unenforceable executive orders that really do no nothing but just show his unwillingness to be a part of our solution.
SANCHEZ: And we've heard from experts over and over again that masking is an effective strategy to mitigate the spread of COVID. So, it just makes you wonder why it's so hard to just allow people to mask up.
JOHNSON: So, the reason is because taking -- he has taken a public health issue and made it political. This is not political. We don't care if you are a Democrat or Republican, independent, libertarian. Just wear a mask. His own health department says to wear a mask.
Yet Georgia, which we're right next to Florida, which is among the hottest in the nation, we are -- we have no mask mandate at all statewide. So, therefore, cities are having to do it.
And so, you know, we hate that we have to do that. We would love to see some leadership to try to protect our folks from our governor. Unfortunately, that has not been the case as we've seen the race towards the bottom.
SANCHEZ: Mayor Van Johnson, and hopefully, things turn around soon. We appreciate your time. Thanks for joining us.
JOHNSON: Keep us in your prayers. Thank you so much.
SANCHEZ: Will do. Thank you. Israel is struggling right now with a surge in COVID cases. Despite
that country having some of the highest vaccination rates in the world. New case numbers have been rising in recent days.
And the Israeli health ministry is opening up COVID booster shots to Israelis ages 40 and up.
CNN correspondent Hadas Gold is with us now.
So, Hadas, can you get us into what is happening in Israel? Considering the fact that most of the -- the majority, as we understand it, of the country is vaccinated. This is a alarming.
HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christi, that is alarming. I am at a very busy Maccabi health care clinic in Jerusalem administering the third doses of the COVID vaccine. A spokesperson for this clinic telling me that demand has been incredibly high, they are vaccinating around 700 individuals per day. They allowed anybody over 40 people, teachers, health care workers, people who work with vulnerable populations including people who work in nursing homes.
And this is coming as you noted the case rates in Israel are alarmingly high despite the very high vaccination rates. In recent days, positive cases have hit above 7,000 cases per day. There are 650 people still critically ill in hospital. These are numbers that Israel has not seen since the beginning of the year.
And just a few months ago, it seemed as though Israel was out of the pandemic. The restrictions were off. They had a handful of positive cases per day, but then came the delta variant.
I spoke with the head of the Israeli COVID advisory group and he said while the high case numbers are concerning, he is a little bit optimistic now because of the booster shot.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. RAN BALICER, EPIDEMIOLOGIST: I am much more optimistic than two weeks ago. It seems like that the third booster shots are doing what they were supposed to do. They are reducing morbidity and severe illness among the elderly that received them and now that we've opened the vaccine to everybody over the age of 40 and I, myself, got the shot today, I think that we will see not only reduction in severe cases, but actually a reduction in the basic reproductive number in the transmission rates in all age groups.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLD: And so, now, there is a question of when will the eligibility for the booster shot be expanded. There is the expectations that pretty much everybody, they will go down the ages, will be eligible for this third shot of the booster vaccine in the coming weeks with the hopes that will help bring some optimism back and brings some of those numbers down -- Boris, Christi.
PAUL: Hadas Gold, we appreciate the update. Thank you.
SANCHEZ: Thanks, Hadas.
PAUL: We'll be right back.
SANCHEZ: The "We Love New York City: The Homecoming Concert" was a great time while it lasted. Thousands of people came out to celebrate the return of New York amid its pandemic progress in Central Park yesterday.
Unfortunately, it was interrupted by heavy rain and lightning ahead of Hurricane Henri, and it came as Barry Manilow, Christi's favorite --
PAUL: I know.
SANCHEZ: -- was on the stage in the mid middle of his set.
PAUL: I feel like I jinxed it talking about how happy I was to see him yesterday. We have a look at some of the amazing performances.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK CITY: This is the greatest concert in the history of New York City. You are all there.
ANNOUNCER: Due to severe weather, all persons should move quickly and calmly to the nearest exit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: Before we go, I want to get you an update on Tropical Storm Henri as it's closing in on the Northeast there.
SANCHEZ: Let's go to CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar. She's been tracking the storm all morning.
Allison, what's the latest?
CHINCHAR: Right. So, we already have several thousand power outages across several states in the Northeast as Tropical Storm Henri continues to push those sustained winds of 70 miles per hour and gusts up to 90 miles an hour inland. And that's where we expect the storm to go. Landfall is still expected a few hours from now, most likely somewhere between the Hamptons and Newport, Rhode Island, before making that sharp turn to the east, out into the Atlantic.
The outer bands hitting New Jersey, Rhode Island, Connecticut, as well as New York. You can really see some of those heavier bands affecting the Hampton, South and Western portions of Connecticut. This is likely to continue through the rest of the day. Airport delays as well. We have several hundred airport delays in effect for places like Boston, New York. That includes both Newark, as well as LaGuardia. A few Cancellations and delays out of Philadelphia. That may change as we go through the day.
Remember, as more of those rain bands begin to push back in you're going to start to notice those conditioning deteriorating. Flooding one of the biggest concerns. You have flash flood watches as well as flash flood warnings in effect. Those could even expand, guys. Remember, this doesn't just affect the coastal regions. It will also be upstate New York as well as Vermont and New Hampshire.
SANCHEZ: A lot of people in the path of that storm.
Allison Chinchar, thank you so much.
PAUL: Thank you, Allison. Thank you for spending part of your morning with us. We hope you make good memories today.
SANCHEZ: "INSIDE POLITICS' is up next.
But, first, here is this week's "Staying Well".
TIFFANY FITZGERALD, FOUNDER, BLACK GIRLS GOLF: Nice!
I get so much out of golf.
Look at that. I came up with Black Girl's Golf because my own experience of playing golf. I found out once I entered corporate America that golf was the one thing that other people was doing that I wasn't.
But once I got better I started enjoying the game more.
Many studies show that golf can increase your life expectancy when played routinely. Walking 18 holes can burn up to 2,000 calories.
Golfers tend to have higher HDL, which is a good cholesterol. It also increases your core muscles. You're getting a full rotation.
Golf can be a good stress reliever.
You're with friends. Most golf courses are so beautiful. And it helps calm you. When playing golf, you release hormones that are great for your mental health.
It is more about mental endurance and skill. So you can play golf for a lifetime.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There it is.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You should consult with your doctor if you have prior medical problems before playing golf.
FITZGERALD: Even if Black Girl's Golf is not something for you, find golfers you can go have fun with.
(END VIDEO CLIP)