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Gas Price Surge, Pumps Run Dry Amid Panic Buying; Consumer Price Show Biggest 12-Month Increase Since 2008; Critical CDC Meeting On Vaccine For Kids; Dozens Dead In Worst Israel-Palestinian Violence In Seven Years. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired May 12, 2021 - 13:30   ET




ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: People are panic buying, the Colonial Pipeline hack now sparking a full-blown run on gasoline in parts of the country. Stations along the East Coast, especially in the Southeast, are running out of fuel and it is costing drivers big time prices. Climbing about $3 a gallon on average for the first time in more than six years. CNN's Nick Valencia is joining us now from a gas station in Georgia. And, Nick, officials say hoarding will only make things worse, what are you seeing?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we saw this when it came to toilet paper in 2020 right before the pandemic, the rush on toilet paper. 2021, it's the rush on gasoline here. It's a panic buying, the definition of it. Really, you look behind me, these lines are stacked up and they had been according to the manager since about 7:00 am this morning.

It's only about a 10-minute wait and according to Costco here, where people have Costco cards, they could only come and pay with credit card here, no cash. But they're only topping off here. They did just run out of premium a short time ago but if you see behind me, just beyond those gas pumps.


There's a tanker that showed up here a little while ago. They're filling up more premium, they are doing about 3,500 gallons per hour and that's well above their average. They haven't run out of gasoline, except for premium per se, but it really it's not completely out.

They're just cutting off the gasoline until before they get to their, what they call their safety stack. So it's not about running out of gasoline at some of these gas stations, more so that they're just making sure that they have enough gasoline to survive the next day.

Yesterday, according to the manager here, it was even worse. And again, you know, we have to emphasize, it's not so much a shortage of gasoline as much as it is. People coming out and panicking, thinking that there might be a shortage. So really, people are emphasizing here, the managers at Costco at this location and other gas stations in and around Atlanta are emphasizing, if you don't have to come out and get gasoline, don't do that.

They expect this to be the sort of normal here for the coming days until things get resolved with that pipeline. A lot of concern people, though, thinking that they may not have gas, so that's what we're seeing here. Most people, again, topping off their gasoline tanks not necessarily running out.

It's not so much survival mode, but the manager here says the last time he saw it like this was at the start of the pandemic when we had a lot of uncertainty. Of course, people thinking that there might be more uncertain times ahead when it comes to gasoline. Ana.

CABRERA: Wow, that image behind you really does tell the story with how many cars are packed into those pumps. Thank you, Nick Valencia.

It's not just gas prices going up, a growing list of consumer staples are getting more expensive as the US faces major supply shortages on a whole host of things. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, consumer prices here in the US shot up 4.2 percent in April compared to a year ago. And that is the biggest yearly jump since 2008.

CNN Business and Politics Correspondent Vanessa Yurkevich joins us now from a grocery store in New York City. Vanessa, what are you finding? How much more we're going to pay for food?

VANESSA YURKEVIC, BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Well, like you said, nearly every single consumer product is up right now, that includes food, especially produce. I'm here in Morton Williams, at the grocery store in New York City, and nearly every single product you see around me is up in price.

For example, Morton Williams buys boxes of lettuce. They were paying $20 just a couple months ago, now they're paying $30 a box. Take a look at strawberries, about $5 to $6 per box, that's double what it was months ago. Now, they're selling it for about $7 each. You'd look at meat, filet mignon, up from $11 a pound to $17 a pound. And chicken cutlet, $0.89 a pound all the way up to $2 a pound. And that is going to affect consumers because that price is going to be passed down.

I want to introduce you to one of those shoppers who we ran into. Sara, come on in here. So, have you noticed these rising prices in the last couple of weeks a month?

SARA STEINBERG, NERVOUS ABOUT RISING PRICES: Yes. I've definitely noticed, especially with the produce. I normally just went to the grocery store to pick up whatever but now I tend to price shop a little bit more than I used to do.

YURKEVIC STEINBERG: Is it a sticker shock for you or are you just noticing sort of a small increase?

STEINBERG: I'm noticing a small increase. I buy a lot of cucumbers, tomatoes, apples, and I've definitely noticed it on all those products. YURKEVIC: How does that affect your budget?

STEINBERG: It definitely has caused me to price shop a little more, like compare prices between different grocery stores. And now that there's a lot of online food delivery services for groceries, like it's easier to price shop.

YURKEVIC: Awesome. Thank you, Sara. Good luck with your shopping today.

So Sara is one of the customers we've spoken to here in store who has noticed these price increases. So what is the reason, as you heard from Nick Valencia, gas prices making it more expensive for trucks to bring in food, labor shortages in manufacturing. And the biggest key item, Ana, is that everything is reopening. So while supermarkets need food, so do restaurants and airlines and cruise ships.

Now, the big question for consumers, how long will this last? The folks here at Morton Williams say that this pricing is not going to be the new normal, but they say the prices are still going to remain high while the demand meets up with the supply. Ana.

CABRERA: Wow. And those examples you use, obviously, here in New York City, so prices tend to be higher. But it is really puts into perspective how everything is going up, and every little bit counts. Vanessa Yurkevic, thanks for all of that.

And also today, as the CDC meets to talk about recommending vaccines for kids, we're learning more adolescents have been hospitalized for severe COVID than are usually hospitalized for the regular flu.



CABRERA: Next hour, CDC Advisory Committee is expected to vote on recommending Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine for kids ages 12 to 15. Now, this is basically a formality. It's part of the process after the FDA granted emergency use authorization to that age group on Monday.

CNN Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is following today's meeting. And, Elizabeth, the timing of these vaccines for kids really can't come soon enough, as the CDC just reported today that children now make up a much larger percentage of COVID infections. What more can you tell us?


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. So, Ana, as the number of infections in older people has gone down. That means the proportion of younger people has gone up. And I think it's really important to remember, we've talked so much about how coronavirus doesn't affect children as much as it does adults and all of that is true.

But the sad reality is that children do die from COVID-19, and obviously we want to prevent those deaths, we want to prevent those illnesses. And that's why Pfizer went ahead and did this clinical trial with 12 to 15-year-olds.

I want to show you these numbers because they are quite stunning. More than 2,200 children ages 12 to 15 in this trial, 100 percent effective. It is so unusual to see that number with a vaccine. It's higher than with adults, and no safety concerns.

But some parents are still hesitant there is still work that will need to be done. If you take a look at this Kaiser Family Foundation survey, what they found is only 30percent were interested in getting this vaccine for their children ages 12 to 15. One in four said we're going to wait and see, 18percent said they'd only get it if required, such as by a school or a summer camp, and almost one in four said definitely not going to get it for their children.

The hope is, is that as the rollout continues, people seeing other people's children getting the shot and being perfectly fine, and being able to have much more freedom that people will change their minds. Ana.

CABRERA: I know. My kids can't wait for sleepovers. That's one of the big freedoms that they're excited about. Elizabeth, as cases continue to go down overall, fortunately, and more Americans are getting vaccinated. There has been mounting pressure for the CDC to change its guidelines for vaccinated Americans. What more are you learning on that front?

COHEN: You know, what I'm hearing from federal officials, as well as people from the outside, is the CDC is a venerated institution. It is the most respected public health institution in the world. But then, sometimes they need to think a little less about the letter of each and every scientific piece of data that they're looking at, and think more big picture. Are there ways that they can think about sort of loosening this mask guidance while still keeping people safe in order to incentivize people to get vaccinated.

I mean, frankly, there is not a whole lot of science around, well, you should wear a mask here but not wear a mask there, and so maybe they could be a little more flexible. Because right now, some of their advice has been confusing, their advice has not always incentivize people to get vaccinated. And so, there's sort of a debate within the CDC what can they do to incentivize people to get vaccinated without putting people at risk.

CABRERA: Elizabeth Cohen, thank you for your reporting.

Rockets and missiles filling the sky violence between Israelis and Palestinians hit a dangerous level, not seen in years. The death toll rising today and we are there on the ground.



CABRERA: Israelis and Palestinians are now getting dangerously close to full scale war, according to one Middle East envoy.


CABRERA (voice-over): Palestinian official say at least 56 people have been killed by Israeli airstrikes in Gaza, including 14 children. Rocket fire from Gaza has reportedly killed at least six Israelis. In retaliation, Israel today announced an operation that killed several senior Hamas commanders. And we are just learning Secretary of State Antony Blinken has spoken with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

CNN Senior International Correspondent Ben Wedeman is on the scene for us. Ben, I know you have been covering this for years, what are you seeing? And how does the scale and the speed of this escalation compared to previous flare ups?

BEN WEDEMAN, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We've just gotten some information from FlightAware, that tracking website, that says that the United Airlines Delta and American Airlines are canceling their flights to Israel as a result of these rising tensions, and that happened back in 2014. But that is an indication of just how worried people are about the situation here in terms of the violence.

What we've seen is another day of intense Israeli airstrikes on Gaza, where we've seen one 14-storey building completely demolished, which indicates the Israelis have decided to use a level of firepower we haven't seen much of before in the past when they wanted to target an office or residents of somebody affiliated with the military organizations. They have the technical capability to target that specific apartment.

In this case, they've been bringing down apartment buildings, three in the last 24 hours, which according to the Israeli military contained some offices affiliated with Hamas, but they also contain commercial offices and residential apartments as well.

For its part, Hamas has responded to that, this latest bringing down of a building, by launching 130 rockets into Israel this afternoon. We don't know about casualties in both of these instances in Gaza and in Israel as well, but certainly, this point to continued escalation in the situation.


Now, we understand that Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State has spoken with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He's sending an envoy to speak with both sides. The problem is, Ana, who are both sides, because of course, Hamas and the United States doesn't speak to, there'll be coming to speak with the Israelis and the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah. The Authority has nothing to do with this conflict at the moment. Ana.

CABRERA: Oh my, that doesn't sound good. Ben Wedeman, we appreciate you helping us understand very complex situation there. Stay safe.

And thank you all for joining me. I'll see you back here tomorrow, same place, same time. In the meantime, you can follow me on Twitter @AnaCabrera. NEWSROOM continues with Alisyn and Victor.