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New Day Sunday

Passengers Scramble After Gun Goes Off At Hartsfield-Jackson Airport; First Day Of Thanksgiving Air Travel Period Breaks Pandemic Record; Closing Arguments To Begin Tomorrow In Ahmaud Arbery Murder Trial; Austria To Impose COVID Restrictions Amid Alarming Surge In Cases; U.S. Food Banks See Drop In Donations Headed Into Holiday Season; Global Supply Chain Meltdown Puts Holiday Shopping In Jeopardy; FCC Approves Texting "988" To Reach Suicide Hotline By Next Year. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired November 21, 2021 - 07:00   ET



COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Bearcats win big 48-14. The fourth and final playoff spot could be there.

And the Washington Spirit are the National Women Soccer League champs after an extra thriller with Chicago. Look at the beautiful cross from Trinity Rodman. Finally Kelley O'Hara for the header and the eventual game winner. So, O'Hara's only goal of the season but it's the clincher.

What a moment for Washington. A 2-1 win, it's their first ever title. What a year for Trinity Rodman, bypassing college to become the youngest player draft the in the NWSL. She goes on to become the best player of the field yesterday, rookie of the year. Incredible story.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Great to hear. Coy Wire, thank you so much for that.

The next hour of NEW DAY starts right now.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: We are so glad to have you with us. I'm Christi Paul.

SANCHEZ: Good morning. I'm Boris Sanchez.

Police this morning on the hunt for a man who sparked a panic at the Atlanta airport.


SANCHEZ: The latest on an accidental gun discharge that sent passengers scrambling for safety even spilling out into the tarmac.

PAUL: And it's a sprawling winter storm blanketing a good chunk of the Eastern U.S. as millions of people are preparing to travel for Thanksgiving. We're tracking them for you if you happen to be one of them. SANCHEZ: And closing arguments set to begin tomorrow in the trial of

three men charged with killing Ahmaud Arbery. What we expect to hear from attorneys before the case goes to a jury.

PAUL: And protests erupt in Austria ahead of a nationwide lockdown that happens tomorrow. We are live for you in Vienna.

NEW DAY continues right now.

Welcome to your Sunday, November 21st. We are always grateful to have your company.

SANCHEZ: I'm grateful to be with you, Christi. Thanks to all our viewers for joining us.

We start with scenes of chaos and confusion at the busiest airport in the United States. Atlanta police are now looking for a man who escaped Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport after his weapon discharged.

PAUL: Yeah, a gun went off yesterday afternoon near a security checkpoint and fears of an active shooter and temporarily grounding flights was the result. The incident sent thousands of people, frightened travelers, scrambling, running through the terminal, they left their luggage and other belongings behind.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People just came flying through and were like run, run, run. We all just ran outside this door right here and made our way across to the side of the airport and just -- it was organized chaos.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was stuff thrown about and luggage were unattended like people were just running outside and just leaving everything there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now we're relieved this kind of message will be updated to everyone right away, not hours later. Guess what, now you feel a relief and you know that no one was trying to hurt no one. No one was trying to kill someone. It was just an accident. Now we can breathe much easier.


PAUL: Now, authorities have identified a suspect here.

CNN's Nadia Romero has more for us.


NADIA ROMERO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A terrifying event Saturday afternoon at the busiest airport in the U.S. after a passenger's gun goes. Thanksgiving week travelers were lined up at the main security checkpoint at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport when the sound of a gunshot sparked panic. Crowds scrambled and spilled outside of the terminal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was at the main security checkpoint but I don't know where he was traveling to.

ROMERO: Authority says a passenger reached inside of his bag after a TSA agent began searching it and in doing so, discharged the firearm.


ROMERO: Authorities said in a press conference that after the discharge, the man was able to flee the security checkpoint with the firearm. They identified the passenger as 42-year-old Kenny Wells.

CMDR. REGINALD L. MOORMAN, ATLANTA POLICE AIRPORT PRECINCT: We have taken out warrants for carry and conceal weapon at a commercial airport, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, discharging a firearm, and reckless conduct. We are actively pursuing this individual as we speak.

ROMERO: Three people were injured as other passengers scrambled to flee the scene. Atlanta police provided details about the three injuries saying one person requested EMS from a fall that occurred away from the screening area in the airport's atrium, and two others complained of shortness of breath.

The TSA says its officers have found more than 450 firearms at Atlanta checkpoints so far in 2021 and the TSA reports catching 4,650 firearms at checkpoints nationwide in the first ten months of this year.


A majority of those weapons were loaded.

Nadia Romero, CNN, Atlanta.


PAUL: And as we head into the thanksgiving week here, you know there's a lot of travel. TSA announced Friday was the highest checkpoint volume for a single day since the pandemic. More than 2 million people were screened across airports in the U.S.

SANCHEZ: Despite breaking pandemic-era records, air travel still a bit shy of the more than 2.5 million screened on the same day in 2019. This year, the agency is expecting more than 20 million people to travel over a ten-day Thanksgiving period.

PAUL: And there's a storm system to add on to this that's moving through parts of the country that could cause some travel headaches for a lot of people.

SANCHEZ: Let's get straight to CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar. She is live for us from the weather center.

Allison, I shared with you earlier that I'm headed to the airport and it sounds like I'm going to be in the way of some of this mess. How bad is it going to get?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yeah, it really kind of depends on where you're going to and from because we have a little bit of a mix of everything. We've got some rain, some snow, and some very windy conditions as well.

So let's break down for today. The earlier half of the day, Minneapolis, Chicago, Cincinnati, down to Memphis -- those are likely going to be the trigger points for some of these airports when talking about delays. By tonight, that storm system begins to shift to the east. Houston, Atlanta, D.C., New York and Boston likely to be some tough spots there. Looking at Miami, separate system, but still dealing with showers and thunderstorms down there as well.

Here's a look at the line, by 4:00 moving through Nashville, Pittsburgh, Little Rock, tonight starting to make it ways towards Charlotte and Atlanta. By tomorrow morning, if you have an early flight out of New York, D.C. or Boston this is when you're going to start to see some of the heaviest rain there. Later Monday that storm system moves off the coast but the wind starts to pick up. Notice the bands of lake-effect snow starting to pile in may cause some backups around Buffalo, Cleveland and other areas.

The first wind as that moves out. Take a look at this, Tuesday into Wednesday, the next system starts to arrive and this one is going to have much stronger winds. So that's going to be an impact for places like Chicago, St. Louis, stretching down towards Dallas. Not only on Wednesday but even by Thursday. This continues to make its way off to the east, so Thanksgiving Day you're likely going to have travel problems as well.

There's Tuesday, that first system moves out. Here's the second system. All that strong wind ahead of it. Also some rain stretching from Chicago, back down to Houston as we go into Wednesday and by Thursday we start to see that shift a little bit farther to the east.

So, on Thanksgiving Day, Boris and Christi, you're also going to have problems maybe for those hoping to wait until the absolute last minute to do their travel plans.

SANCHEZ: Sounds like a long layover at the airport bar. At least I won't be alone.

Allison Chinchar, thank you so much.

PAUL: Everybody be warned that's where Boris is going to be. Just in case you happen to see him.

Good luck with that. I hope it goes well.

SANCHEZ: Thanks.

PAUL: So after ten days of court proceedings and testimony from more than 20 witnesses and investigators, closing arguments are expected to begin tomorrow in the Ahmaud Arbery murder trial. SANCHEZ: Travis McMichael, his father Gregory McMichael and their

neighbor William "Roddie" Bryan Jr. face charges including malice murder and felony murder after prosecutors say they chased down and killed Arbery in February of last year.

Arbery's family is expressing outrage over comments Friday by one of the three defense attorneys in the case.

Kevin Gough drawing a lot of attention and sparking controversy. He motioned for a mistrial after he compared a prayer rally led by a group of black pastors to a public lynching of his client.


KEVIN GOUGH, WILLIAM BRYAN JR.'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Just because they haven't put a gallery up, what are you -- a podium up outside with a hang man's noose on it doesn't mean this isn't a trial, despite the best efforts of this court, this isn't a trial that's been infected by mob violence of a woke left mob.


SANCHEZ: Those comments made in the motion for a mistrial were defied.

Let's dig deeper ahead of tomorrow's arguments with CNN legal analyst and civil rights attorney Areva Martin. Areva was on with us earlier this morning.

We appreciate you for sticking around.

Travis McMichael said that he was acting in self-defense when he shot Ahmaud Arbery. Self-defense may be the crux of the jury's decision here potentially, and the circumstances and situation were vastly different, but Kyle Rittenhouse was just acquitted using self-defense as an argument.

And I'm wondering, from your perspective, i states with the broad self-defense laws, what do you think about the way that prosecution and defense handled the question of self-defense?


AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yeah. Good morning, Boris.

You're right. Both cases involved claims by the defendant of self- defense. I think, though, in the Arbery case we're going to see something very different than what we saw in the Kyle Rittenhouse case. Keep in mind that defense in Ahmaud Arbery started with a two- pronged defense.

One saying that the actions taken by Travis McMichael and Gregory McMichael were justified under the antiquated citizen arrest law that existed in the state of Georgia and that's what gave them the right to begin the chase of Ahmaud Arbery and then their argument pivots to once they, you know, began the chase, Ahmaud Arbery confronted Travis McMichael and Travis felt that his life was in dang e imminent harm of danger, he used the weapon, the shotgun to shoot Ahmaud Arbery.

So, it's a two-pronged defense, citizens arrest and self-defense. The prosecution in the case has done an outstanding job of nullifying both of those arguments. No testimony on the part of Travis McMichael that he intended to arrest Ahmaud Arbery. No knowledge that Ahmaud committed any crime at the day -- on the day this shooting occurred.

So, that pretty much nullifies any notion of a citizen's arrest which requires you to have knowledge or witness a crime being committed. So I don't think we're going to see the same outcome in this case as we saw in Rittenhouse.

SANCHEZ: Areva, this is a kind of an interesting situation where Arbery's mother says the district attorney told her that an attorney for one of the defendants Roddie Bryan, asked for a plea deal which was turned down. When reporters asked Bryan's lawyer about it he denied that request ever happened. Notably, Bryan did not testify in this defense. What do you think is going on with his lawyer?

MARTIN: We've seen this lawyer involved, Kevin Goff, in making these outrageous offensive, and racist comments throughout the trial. He's the lawyer that stood up and said he didn't want black pastor, didn't want pastors, black pastors in that courtroom. He's the lawyer that compared the prayer vigil to a public lynching.

So, he's been making these comments throughout the trial and the judge repeatedly strikes him down, denies his motion, so I think in some ways, this lawyer, Boris, has been trying to signal in a clandestine way to this jury, he's brought up issues of settlement and issues of other money that have been raised by the Arbery family.

I think he's trying to send a message to this jury that, you know, this is a black community lining up against his clients and somehow they should be the final arbiters to prevent what he's calling this mob attack.

I don't think it will work. I think it's, again, as an officer of a court his conduct is reprehensible in many ways.

SANCHEZ: Areva, quickly, what are you anticipating in the way of closing arguments from the defense and prosecution?

MARTIN: Yeah. I think the defense, Boris, is going to try, you know, to hammer home this point that Travis McMichael acted in self-defense. We saw Travis McMichael say that Ahmaud Arbery was the aggressor and attacked the vehicle, he attracted Travis McMichael. I think that's a heavy burden for the defense. That's the argument they have.

We're going to see the prosecution again showing that there's no evidence of justification for a citizens arrest and it was Travis McMichael that used the shotgun in an intimidating way and Travis and Greg that chased Ahmaud Arbery down, trapped him like a rat and shot him without justification.

SANCHEZ: Areva Martin, we've got to leave the conversation there. Always appreciate your expertise. PAUL: Well, Secretary of State Blinken is sounding the alarm about

Russian military activity along the Ukrainian border. Up next, why he's worried it could lead to violence such as that what we saw in 2014.

Also, growing unrest in Austria. Another lockdown is looming. We are live as the country tries to curb a sharp rise in COVID cases.



SANCHEZ: It faces an uncertain fewer if the Senate but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is taking a victory lap over the House passing the Build Back Better bill. She's praising its expansion of the social safety net. In a letter to colleagues, Pelosi writing, quote, honoring President Biden's vision and addressing the needs of the American people, this legislation presents the most historic and transformative agenda in a century.

Build Back Better will forge progress for the American people, creating good paying jobs, lowering costs and cutting taxes while making the wealthiest and big corporations pay their fair share.

A big question on a lot of diplomats' mind, is Russia planning another invasion of Ukraine? That's what the United States, and its European allies are trig to figure out.

PAUL: Yeah, Secretary of State Antony Blinken says the U.S. is concerned about Russia's unusual military activity near the border with Ukraine.


ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: We don't know what President Putin's intentions are, but we do know what's happened in the past. We do know the playbook of trying to cite some provocation from Ukraine or any other country and use that as an excuse to do what Russia was planning to do all along.


PAUL: CNN international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson has been watching this as well. So, we know Secretary Blinken says that U.S. has been in close consultation with partners throughout Europe about the situation already. What does that communication tell you about what could be ahead in the level of concern not just in the U.S., but in some of those other countries they're consulting with?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yeah, that Russia is potentially here putting the squeeze on Ukraine, either to annex some more territory or for other reasons.


You know, looking at that troop buildup, close to 100,000, there's heavy weapons that were prepositioned there from the -- Russia's last troop buildup there earlier on this year, under international pressure then took away the troops but left the heavy equipment, special forces there, their military and domestic intelligence services there, so all of that is a concerning picture. What isn't in place right now are the sort of indicators that any large-scale advance into Ukraine is absolutely imminent. That would require a sort of a supply chain, a tail, a military tail, if you will, for that force being in existence and it's not there at the moment.

But absolutely, in European capitals this is a point of concern. The U.K.'s Defense Secretary Ben Wallace was in Kiev last week talking about and initiating a stronger support for Ukraine's military, for the Army, but in particular the navy.

And the Navy is important because back in 2014 Russia came into Ukraine and annexed Crimea, where it keeps its naval black sea fleet, its only naval fleet that has access to warm waters that it can be used 12 months of the year, that is a key strategic asset for Russia and Putin says he won't give it up. The international community says clearly he has annexed it and they'll never recognize Russia's ownership of it.

So, is Putin at the moment thinking about a way to solidify his control of the areas of Ukraine around Crimea? This is the difficult guess. But absolutely that buildup is causing concern. We heard today in Europe, but we heard today from President Putin's spokesman saying conversations that we're having here are deliberately whipped up hysteria and is telling NATO to back off on its military and political expansion close to their borders.

SANCHEZ: And, Nic, compounding the question of Putin's intent, is this congressional source telling CNN that there is an intelligence blind spot when it comes to trying to nail town what Putin is trying to achieve with this buildup, that's an enormous problem if they don't know whether he's seriously intending to invade further into Ukraine?

ROBERTSON: There are several things at play here. Over time we've seen a shift from intelligence assets, people, physically on the ground, spies being able to recruit, you know, other spies in other countries, Russia's intelligence services, we've seen a diminution of that, and an increase in sort of electronic eavesdropping, cyber, ways of sort of knowing what enemy is doing. Putin is able to cut itself off and we've seen, as the diplomatic relations between Russia and Washington have sort of worsened, worsened, we've seen, therefore, people from the embassies in both countries expelled from the country.

When you do that, you reduce your ability to have those on the ground spies. All of this sort of bigger context here, Putin being particularly a paranoid and cautious leader who has been in power for a long time, he's ring-fenced himself off from the prying eyes of intelligence agencies and that's a blind spot. Typically, you want to know what a leader is really thinking, and that's hard to calculate with President Putin. He does a lot for domestic gain.

Just, you know, again this conversation, Secretary of State Blinken's comments as well, play well for Putin at home. He's able to say look, we're under attack, under a siege, helps cement his leadership. In some ways, it's a win/win game.

These troops are thousands of miles from their normal bases in the world. This is not a typical time to have troop buildups and military exercises a long way from home, a long way interest their bases, so what is the intent? This is abnormal but Russia also points to the U.S. Navy and the British Navy operating in the black sea doing training maneuvers there as, again, the black sea around that Crimea, important naval base for Russia based on that, a concern for them.

So there is -- there is a military game if you will going off. It's that reading of Putin's mind, where does he want this process to end, and that's a hard calculation.

SANCHEZ: Undoubtedly a hard calculation. Nic Robertson, thank you so much for walking us through that.

PAUL: Nic, thank you.

SANCHEZ: Staying overseas, Israeli officials say a 35-year-old man was killed and four others were wounded today in a shooting in Jerusalem. The gunman was shot and killed by police on the scene. Israel identified him as a member of the political wing of Hamas.


And in a statement Hamas called the attacker a heroic martyr.

Today's shooting comes days after a 16-year-old Palestinian was shot dead after stabbing two Israeli border police.

PAUL: And new this morning, protests in the Netherlands over coronavirus restrictions. They turned violent as you can see on the left-hand side of your screen. Dutch police made dozens of arrests in The Hague and other towns after rioters set bicycles and wooden pallets on fire.

Now, The Netherlands went back into partial lockdown last Saturday. It's now planning to ban unvaccinated people from entering certain venues as well.

And authorities in Vienna, Austria, say an estimated 40,000 people matched in protest yesterday during anti-government demonstrations there against COVID-19 restrictions.

SANCHEZ: Tomorrow, Austria is going back into a national lockdown amid a surge in new cases. You see it on your screen. In an unprecedented move the country plans to be the first European nation to make COVID vaccinations mandatory for all citizens.

Let's go to CNN's Salma Abdelaziz. She's live in Vienna, Austria, for us this morning.

Salma, set the scene for us. What did the unrest look like and what does it look like where you are?

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: Absolutely. Let me start with where I am, in central Vienna, just outside a vaccination center, because that's what the government says is the issue here, Boris and Christi, is there is not enough people vaccinated. Austria is unique in that only 66 percent of people here have been immunized.

That means one in three people walking around the streets have yet to get their shot. And when the government announced on Friday that this country was going back into lockdown because of these huge unvaccinated populations, there was a big and loud opposition against it.

I know we have those pictures to show you. 40,000 people, the police tell us, were on the streets of Vienna yesterday in opposition to lockdown n opposition to mask mandate, not wanting this vaccine mandate, the first of its kind in Europe, to go into place and that's why the chancellor says this country is seeing unprecedented numbers in its hospital. He says the ICU wards in some of the hospitals here are overflowing with COVID-19 patients.

You have a very untenable situation here. Some people, huge population here, pretty big number of people, not wanting to get vaccinated, angry at the government for putting new restrictions into place. This lockdown rolling out on Monday and at the same time you have the rising COVID-19 numbers.

We just spoke to an expert who told us the government has to begin to change its public messaging, winning hearts and minds. Otherwise, we could continue to see these numbers rise. For now, Monday, lockdown begins. Christmas markets across Vienna shutting down, normal life closed for at least 10 to 20 days, and then it will be under review by the authorities here.

PAUL: Salma Abdelaziz, we appreciate the update. Thank you so much.

SANCHEZ: First, it was the pandemic and now surging food prices have more families relying on food banks. We're going to talk about the struggles that organizations are having when it comes to keeping up with increased demand.



PAUL: So, we're less than a week away from Thanksgiving, of course. Ongoing global supply chain disruptions could mean food banks nationwide are going to have less to give to people who really need it this year. Soaring food prices, plus a decline in donations has made this holiday season particularly challenging.

Lynne Telford, the CEO of Care and Share Food Bank for southern Colorado with us now.

Lynne, it's good to have you with us. We need to get the word out here. I know that you say you're spending a lot more money just to buy food to make up for those donations. People at home can certainly relate because they're doing the same thing. Talk to us about the difference in what you're spending and what your most current needs are.

LYNNE TELFORD, CEO, CARE & SHARE FOOD BANK FOR SOUTHERN COLORADO: Well, some of our staples like peanut butter have gone up about $13,000 for a truckload and, you know, kids, especially, love peanut butter. Tuna has gone up by about $10,000 a truckload. Mac and cheese, has also gone up. Mandarin oranges, canned corn.

So many things are going up in price for us, and even donated food is costing us more because the cost to get it here, we, for example, a truckload of produce coming from New York is costing about $7,500 for us just to get it here. The food is donated, but the costs are really escalating.

PAUL: Yeah. I think I read that even dry oatmeal is up 17 percent. So, when we hear you talk about $13,000 for peanut butter, we have to remember that's a truckload but what we're feeling at the store is what you're feeling even more so there.

What is the list of people in need? Has that grown as well?

TELFORD: Well, we are seeing some new people in because with the costs at the grocery store going up, we are hearing that people now need to be supplemented by the food that we're able to offer. At one of our sunny side markets, for example, one mother told us she couldn't afford the ground beef at the grocery store and she was so grateful that we had some available for her at our pantry.

PAUL: So is your suggestion here for those of us watching who maybe aren't in Colorado but to keep in mind for places near us, is it best if it's available to donate directly to you at your facility? Is that even possible for most places?


TELFORD: Well, there are 200 feeding America food banks across the country, and all of us are in need of donated food and also monetary donations. We're purchasing more food than we've ever had to in our history.

Typically, we've been able to get almost all of our food donated and to have to go out and purchase food now is a change in the way that we've been doing things. We did get a lot of generous donations during the pandemic, but as those are tailoring off, we're looking at how do we sustain the current model going forward.

PAUL: So talk to us really at the end of the day about what specifically your needs are right now for food, for the people that come to you?

TELFORD: The people who come to us need all kinds of food. The food banks need money to be able to get that food, but the people that are coming want staples, the things that all of us have in our pantry and our pantries right now don't have everything that they need, so right now, we're really short on pasta and rice and some really basic kinds of things that people use to make meals. PAUL: Okay. Lynn Telford you're doing important work, thank you for

what you do and we're wishing you the best, and we hope that we can help you sustain these families. Thank you.

TELFORD: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: So this year, you may not want to wait until the last minute to do your holiday shopping. Up next, why experts say you should get your gifts now before it's too late.



SANCHEZ: You might have gotten the message, the dreaded "out of stock" stacking up on sites all over the internet as the global supply chain meltdown causes product shortages and price hikes ahead of the holiday shopping.

PAUL: Yeah, I tried early and experts say if we haven't done it by now, we need to start.

Here's CNN's Tom Foreman.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would you like --

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Over 2 billion times, that's how often the words out of stock came up as researchers tracked just 18 different product categories online in October. That's worse than last year and much worse than two years ago. Among the hardest hit items according to adobe analytics, electronic, jewelry, clothing, home wares an pet supplies.

The trend has been driven in large part by months of people sitting at home shopping online in the pandemic and the holidays are amping it up.

JONATHAN GOLD, VICE PRESIDENT, SUPPLY CHAIN AND CUSTOMS POLICY, NATIONAL RETAIL FEDERATION: The demand for the products as well as the materials to make the products is just outpacing the available supply of the materials and what's needed to move the products through the supply chain to the consumer.

FOREMAN: Imported goods are especially vulnerable, not only are manufacturers and shippers navigating a maze of periodic shutdowns, but even when their cargo arrives, they are piling up in ports waiting to unload.

Rosemary Coates is a supply chain expert.

ROSEMARY COATES, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, RESHORING INSTITUTE: There's a shortage of truck drivers, there's a shortage of warehouse space and workers all along the supply chain, so this is not, you know, a snap your fingers and organize a solution. FOREMAN: That means for consumers the day after Thanksgiving could be

more like bleak Friday, with some products hard to find and prices rising. Best tips, shop early, if you see what you want --

GOLD: Buy it now.

COATES: Buy it now.

FOREMAN: And have faith, just like many retailers, that the holidays will wind up happy anyway.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, are you ready to fly to grandma's?



SANCHEZ: Thanks to Tom Foreman for that report.

Making help accessible to everyone, that's the goal of allowing people to text the national suicide prevention lifeline. Details on this new effort after a quick break.


PAUL: With the pandemic exacerbating the nation's mental health crisis, the Federal Communication Commission unanimously voted Thursday to require text messages sent to the number 988 be routed to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by July of next year. That expands access to the critical 24/7 national hotline.

Right now, phone carriers are in the process of nationwide implementation after the FCC finalized the three-digit number last year.

So, let's talk to the director of the behavioral health division of the Council of State Governments. Ayesha Delaney-Brumsey is with us.

Ms. Brumsey, thank you for being here.

I want to point something out that a lot of people may not know. Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the nation. Essentially one suicide death every 11 minutes is what we're looking at. With that said, what is the expectation in terms of how text messages might be able to thwart some of those numbers?


So the idea with implementing 988 is you want to have an easy to remember number (AUDIO GAP) people can call or text when they're in that moment of crisis or feeling distressed. You want to lower as many barriers as possible to people getting help, so being able to text 988 can be really crucial for people who are more used to communicating over texts. Young people might be more likely to want to text than to call. Or

even in situations where people don't live alone or have the privacy to call in to the suicide prevention lifeline and instead would prefer a text.

PAUL: Yeah, that privacy is definitely an issue. When you dial or when you text 988, what will happen then? Just so people know.

BRUMSEY: Absolutely. When you text 988 or if you call or if you are chatting online, you're connected with a trained crisis counselor, and that person can provide support, help you, reduce your distress, help think about what are some of the next steps to keep you safe and make sure that you have ongoing support, whether that means connecting you to a trained behavioral help professional or otherwise, to make sure that if you are feeling suicidal, or even if you're just feeling very anxious or depressed, that you get the help that you need.

PAUL: Talk to me about the training here because normally, if you call, you get some sense of tone from that call and we all know just from personal experience, sometimes texting tones -- the tone of a text and what's written can be misconstrued sometimes. Is there significant training that some of the advocates are getting to be able to communicate optimally via text?

BRUMSEY: Yes. Crisis Text Line or National Suicide Life Line counselors are trained to support people in crisis whether they're computer chatting, texting or calling with them. And to your point, there are differences when you're talking with people over the phone or over text, but counselors are trained to support people over all of those different mediums.

PAUL: Do you as we've heard, do you find that you get more calls over the holidays? And how is that handled?

BRUMSEY: I will say that there's a theory that you see increased suicidality over the holidays, but that's actually not the case. Holidays are and actually can be stressful for people. We know that whether it's more time with your family can be stressful to some folks. It can be if you are feeling more isolated over the holidays or for a number of reasons.

And so, it's always really important that if that's the case no matter what is causing your distress, that you are willing to reach out. And whether that's calling the suicide prevention life line or texting the existing crisis text line, which is available right now to text 24/7, all of those are important resources to make sure people can get the help that they need.

PAUL: OK. Thank you. I was just wondering. I was checking on the time line there as to when that 988 will -- in terms of texting will be available nationwide. Thank you so much. Ayesha Delaney Brumsey, this is really important work that you're doing and we appreciate your explaining all of it to us. Thank you.

BRUMSEY: Thank you for having me.

PAUL: Absolutely.

And, listen, if you know someone who might be at risk of suicide, here are ways to help. As she said, 1-800-273-8255 is the number to call to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. It does provide free and confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

SANCHEZ: We do want to leave you with an uplifting story as we get closer to the thanksgiving holiday. A woman with COVID defying doctors by waking up from a coma on the exact day her family was going to take her off life support.

Sixty-nine-year-old Bettina Lerman went into a coma after two months on a ventilator. Her family was told she was not going to make it. They planned her funeral. They donated her belongings. They began to grief. And then on the day that they expected she might die, they got a call from the doctor.


ANDREW LERMAN, SON OF BETTINA LERMAN: He goes, well, I need you to come up to the hospital right away. I'm like, what? Is something wrong? And he goes, well, your mother just woke up. I literally dropped the phone. I was like, what?

I mean, because we were supposed to be terminating life support that day.


SANCHEZ: Absolutely incredible.

PAUL: Wow.

SANCHEZ: It gives you all the feels.

PAUL: Yeah, absolutely. Never give up hope. That's true.

Thank you so much for starting your morning with us.

"INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY" is up next. We hope you make good memories and happy Thanksgiving.

SANCHEZ: But before we go, here's this week's "Staying Well".


DR. ROBERT WALDINGER, DIRECTOR, HARVARD STUDY OF ADULT DEVELOPMENT: On average, people who are in happier, more satisfying relationships live longer.

I am the director of the Harvard Study of Development. It was started in the late 1930s and it's continuing to this day.

The most important predictor who is going to be a happy healthy octogenarian was how happy they were in their relationships.


JOHN HUMPHREY, LIFESPAN RESEARCH FOUNDATION: The study has had a big impact on how I have framed my life. I used to think that the key to a long and healthy life was diet and exercise. I now know that it is diet and exercise and relationships.

WALDINGER: We think that loneliness is a big stressor. It makes us more anxious. It makes us more depressed. It keeps our bodies in that chronically stressed fight or flight mode and that social connections really help us regulate our negative emotions.

HUMPHREY: I actually do make play dates. I try to have two lunches with somebody who's in the area every week. My goal is to live to be 100. And part of the way I believe I will do that is by attending to relationships in my life.