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Biden Goal: One Vaccine Shot to 70 Percent of Adults by July 4th; How Should Vaccinated People Weight Their Risks; Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI) Discusses Being a Republican Target for Midterm Elections, Biden Pushing Large Economic & Infrastructure Plans; Hugh Piece of Chinese Rocket Now Hurtling Toward Earth. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired May 5, 2021 - 13:30   ET




ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Next hour, President Biden will deliver remarks from the White House about his administration's coronavirus relief efforts.

And this comes after he announced just yesterday a bold and aggressive plan to have 70 percent of the U.S. population at least partially vaccinated, with at least one shot, by July 4th.

Joining us now to discuss, Dr. Leana Wen. She's a CNN medical analyst as well as former Baltimore health commissioner.

Doctor, nearly a third of the U.S. population is currently fully vaccinated. But vaccine rates are slowing nationwide. Is Biden's plan realistic? And what needs to happen to keep vaccine enthusiasm high?

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: I think it certainly is possible it's a reach, but it's a really good goal. The rates that we will need to be at going forward is 100 million vaccines in the next 60 days. So we can definitely get to that rate.

But the next part will be harder because, so far, it has been about building infrastructure and people are going to come. These are the people eager to be vaccinated.

There are three groups that have not been vaccinated but are eligible.

The first are those that are already eager. They want to get vaccinated but have found getting vaccinated to be hard. So making it easy and convenient and bringing the vaccine to them is most important.

The second group of people have real questions and concerns. Those need to be addressed and ideally by their doctor or people in their community who they trust.

And the third group is the hardest. That's the group we have to build enthusiasm around.

And those are individuals who have not seen what is in it for them if they get the vaccine. They don't think COVID potentially is that serious. They don't see what the benefit of getting vaccinated is.

And I think we need to illustrate how getting vaccinated is our ticket back to pre-pandemic life.

CABRERA: I could not wait to get vaccinated because I couldn't wait to go out to eat. I couldn't wait to take my mask off when I am out for my runs and that type of thing.

And let's talk about the op-eds, which touches on this. This is in "The Washington Post.

And you write, "The vaccinated will make different choices about what they can do now, and that's OK."

You talk about navigating this uncertain period of what is safe and what is not with a lot of people vaccinated but still a huge chunk of the population unvaccinated.

So how should vaccinated people weigh their different risk factors? Walk us through that?

WEN: I think there are two basic concepts for individuals to keep in mind regardless of whether they are vaccinated.

One is that being outdoors is so much better than being indoors. Even unvaccinated people, we know now, can take off their masks outdoors as long as they are not around crowds of a lot of people. So outdoors is better than indoors.

The other concept is that vaccination makes everything so much safer. It's not going to be zero risk but there's going to be much lower risk.


And my point in this op-ed is that people have to make the best decisions for themselves.

And the decisions people make will be different depending on their own medical conditions and their risk tolerance. So I think we should not judge those individuals who still want to be very cautious and stay out of crowded indoor settings.

But also, there are those saying my risk of getting the coronavirus after getting the vaccine is really low, of spreading is it low.

And I will go back to every aspect of pre-pandemic normal. I want to go to indoor restaurants and bars again. I want to see my friends. And I think that also is OK.

The general concept is that those who are vaccinated actually pose very little risk to public health. And we should be focusing on getting those unvaccinated to be

vaccinated. And in the meantime, letting them know that there's still at danger for contracting coronavirus and spreading it to others, too.

CABRERA: You talked about three different things that people should be considering as they kind of weigh what is right for them and their family.

Can you, you know, talk about how you made decisions on your own family situation?

WEN: Yes. So the three different things to weigh are your personal risk profile of your household, then your risk tolerance, and then, finally, it's the circumstances of those activities involved.

And so with my family, we -- my husband and I are fully vaccinated, and our children, ages one and three, are not.

If it were just the two of us, me and my husband we would have a high- risk tolerance overall. But because our kids are not yet vaccinated, we have to be cautious.

And so my husband and I will go to outdoor restaurants but we're probably not going to be taking our children to indoor restaurants.

And my husband and I will have no problem traveling on our own or even taking our children for short-haul flights.

But long-haul flights -- for example, our family lives in South Africa, so it's an 18-hour flight. And our 1-year-old is not able to be masked for 18 hours. That, for us, is too much at this point.

My son is going back to preschool. He's going to camp this summer. Outdoor masks options. Indoor masks required.

Those are the types of common-sense decisions that we're making at this point.

I think a lot of families are wrestling with those types of decision, too. But I think we are going to make different decisions, and all that is OK.

And the key is to try and get as many people vaccinated as possible so everything becomes safer for everyone.

CABRERA: Absolutely. I think it's helpful that you layout those examples for us to have it be more tangible.

Dr. Leana Wen, really appreciate you as always. Thank you.

WEN: Thank you.

CABRERA: House Democrats are clinging to the majority. Republicans know that and they are gearing up for a major midterm fight. One of the party's newest targets, Democratic newest targets for Republicans is Congressman Dan Kildee. He'll join us next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


CABRERA: Republican infighting may be front and center now but what a difference the midterms could make as far as reversing the party's misfortunes.

Redistricting, Democratic retirements and historical trends favoring the opposition party have the GOP ramping up for a serious fight in 2022.

And this week, the National Republican Congressional Committee added 10 more House Democrats to its list of midterm targets. There were already 47 on the list.

One is Congressman Dan Kildee, of Michigan. He is chief deputy whip for the House Democratic caucus.

Congressman, thank you for joining us.

You have won your last three elections handily. And Michigan also went for Biden in 2020. So why do you think you are on the GOP target list?

REP. DAN KILDEE (D-MI): Well, I assume they are looking at redistricting. Michigan will lose one seat. Since we have an independent redistricting commission, we have no idea what it will look like.

But I happened to be in one of those states that will lose a seat. And I think they are speculating that some of the loss might affect my seat. That's possible.

I think their misread may be that I work on behalf of Democrats, Republicans and Independents. I ran almost 8.5 points ahead of President Biden, who won my district.

So I get what they are doing. I mean, it's politics. If they are going to win, they have to try and take out members that will be tough to beat.

But I think -- (INAUDIBLE) -- of this race are going to determine it. And the fact that the Republican Party has become essentially an irrational institution, I think it will work against their interests when it comes to this election.

CABRERA: Democrats have a thin majority in the House. And we have seen a string of retirements in the party, at least a half dozen. There could be more.

Does that worry you? And what would that mean for the Biden agenda?

KILDEE: There are retirements on both sides. Every 10 years, every two years, people choose to leave. I think, in this case, it's probably elevated somewhat.

But there are certainly a lot of retirements on the Republican side where we see the opportunity to pick things up.

But in terms of the Biden agenda, we think the American people are with us. And they will think about that when they cast their ballots.

For example, they support the American rescue plan, which was passed only with Democrats. They support robust investment in America's infrastructure.


So far, Republicans haven't signed on to anything significant in that way.

What people are looking for is not what we say we are for but what we deliver for them.

CABRERA: Yes, yes.

KILDEE: And that's the difference between Democrats and Republicans.

CABRERA: Let me ask you about that, specifically. Because President Biden has been on the road this week trying to sell his infrastructure plans to voters.

Michigan gets a "D"-plus on the infrastructure report card, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers. Specifically on roads, a "D"-minus, drinking water, a "D," schools, "D"-plus, bridges, "C"- minus, energy, "C"-minus, rails "C"-minus, transit "C"-minus.

Those grades are not good. So my question to you is, if Democrats don't get this plan through when your party is in power, do you worry that could put not only your seat but the Democratic majority in jeopardy?

KILDEE: I think the real worry I have is it puts the country in jeopardy. Politics come and go. But this country needs infrastructure. Our people need good jobs. That's what is at risk here. We have to get this done.

That's why we have been willing to use every tool available. If Republicans don't want to join with us, and we have to use the tools that we have in order to do the big things that Americans want us to do, we'll do it.

So I am convinced we will get something big on infrastructure. And that the president will be able to see his vision through because we are going to put the votes together to get there. That's what the American people want.

The politics are what they are. The most important thing is we deliver for the American people and then let the politics go wherever it goes.

CABRERA: But you even have some Democrats, like Senator Joe Manchin, who we've talked about before, who say pump the brakes on this new spending. As you see the economy is improving. Unemployment is dropping. The

stock market is roaring. Businesses are reopening. And we just reported the U.S. economy grew at 6.4 percent annualized right in the first quarter.

How do you sell trillions of dollars in new spending with all of these signs pointing to the economy improving?

KILDEE: Because that's when you invest. You invest when you are going to have a robust economy that you can build upon.

Most of this will be paid for by economic growth. And when we have a chance to really accelerate that growth, to super charge the growth that we are already beginning to see, because President Biden's plan to get us back on track is working.

Shots in arms, it's working. We are going to be able to reopen.

This is the time where we really take this and run with it and create the kind of growth that will not only help more Americans get good full-time, well-paying jobs, but also pay off some of the costs of this investment that we think is so necessary.

CABRERA: Some of the costs. It can't pay for all of it based on just the basic math.

KILDEE: Well, yes, some may have to be offset with changes to the tax code. What the Republicans did in 2017 blew a big hole in the budget by letting the richest Americans off the hook, by letting big corporations off the hook. Not really paying any taxes or very few. And that has to be connected.

So if we can get that fixed and then continue to spur growth with people getting back to work and making good pay at good jobs, then we will be in a good position.

The only way we've actually -- going back to World War II, the only way we have every been able to dig ourselves out of the deficit hole is by expanding the American economy.

And you don't expand the economy by trying to compete in the 21st century with 19th and 20th century infrastructure. Our competition is not doing that and we can't either.

CABRERA: Congressman Dan Kildee, I appreciate your time. Thank you for being here.

KILDEE: Thank you.


CABRERA: And right now, a huge piece of a Chinese rocket is out of control. It's hurdling towards earth's atmosphere. We know it's set to come this weekend. What we don't know is where it will land.


CABRERA: Bracing for impact. What we just don't know where, and we don't know exactly when. A large piece of Chinese rocket is out of control and is expected to reenter earth's atmosphere this weekend.

Barbara Starr has more on how the Pentagon is tracking this.

It's quite a headline, Barbara.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is, Ana. In fact, the Pentagon seriously is tracking this around the clock now.

This is a Chinese rocket. It's about 100 feet tall, 22 tons in weight. It is huge. It is massive.

It's traveling at 18,000 miles an hour. And it's headed for uncontrolled reentry into the earth's atmosphere as soon as Saturday.

This was a rocket that put up part of their Chinese space station several days ago. The rocket now spinning out of control in space.

So starting Saturday, looking very closely to see where it may reenter, the USS Space Command says they will only be able to project an impact point just several hours before the point of reentry. So this is part of their effort to track it.

You know, look, everyone certainly hopes it falls harmlessly into the Pacific Ocean, 70 percent of the world's surface. So there's a good chance it may just fall into the ocean.

But the problem is nobody can say that for sure. And because it's so massive, that's one of the big concerns.

It may not break up. It may not burn out. It may, may hit earth in an area on land. Nobody knows the answer to that question right now.


It is interesting to note the U.S. military regularly tracks about 27,000 manmade objects in space.

Why do they do that? Well, we are so dependent, all of us, on space- based technology. Your laptop computer, your cell phone, all based on global positioning satellites that are very precise.

Space is very crowded now. Uncontrolled rockets not exactly what the Pentagon wants to see. They want it all nice and orderly up there -- Ana?

CABRERA: Don't we all. This is something totally out of our control right now with this rocket. We'll keep watching.

Thank you, Barbara Starr.

STARR: Sure. CABRERA: Any moment now, we're going to hear from President Biden on

the progress of his COVID relief plan. We'll bring that to you, live, next.

Thanks for being with me today.