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Republican Senator Promotes Conspiracy Theories on Capitol Insurrection; FDA Calls Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Safe and Effective; Tiger Woods Recovering Following Car Accident. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired February 24, 2021 - 15:00   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: The directive effectively grounds all Boeing 777-200 planes that use the Pratt & Whitney engines.

We roll on, top of the hour. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

And we begin today with really just great news in this country's vaccination efforts. The FDA says Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 single shot means the requirements for emergency use authorization are a go. If that happens, it will be the third vaccine to be distributed in the U.S.

And the drug giant just released new data that indicates it could prevent spread of asymptomatic infections as well, which we know has been a huge factor and just how far-reaching COVID has become. A source tells CNN that President Biden's coronavirus advisers believe roughly two million Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses will be available next week, pending that authorization.

Also today, new information on golf legend Tiger Woods and that car crash. Authorities say they are treating the incident as -- quote -- "purely an accident." They say they will pull black box data to determine what happened, why this car crashed and rolled over several times. They also say Tiger Woods is lucky to have survived it.

He was buckled in and had air bags. He is awake. He is responsive today after his surgery. And here's what we know about that. Surgeons actually had to insert a rod into his tibia -- that's part of his leg -- and pins and screws into his right foot and ankle.

Let's start there with CNN correspondent Omar Jimenez, who's outside that hospital where Woods is being treated. And we will get to the latest on his condition.

But we also have just learned, Omar, that the crash is being called an accident. What more are you hearing from the L.A. County Sheriff's Office?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Brooke. And that portion is really significant here, making sure to come out

and say, the Los Angeles County Sheriff here, Alex Villanueva, that this was purely an accident, based on what investigators have seen so far. And that's because there were questions early on about whether this could have been any sort of impairment accident, whether he could have been under the influence of anything.

So, essentially, right now, investigators are ruling that out. You also touched on right before you came to me there does seem to be some sort of event recorder -- black box of sorts might be a good comparison -- that investigators are planning to go through. And they say that's going to happen quickly, so that they can determine the actual cause of this crash.

But when investigators got to the scene, they say that Tiger Woods on the day of the crash was conscious as this happened. And here's how the sheriff described what deputies found when they arrived.


ALEX VILLANUEVA, LOS ANGELES COUNTY SHERIFF: The deputy on scene assessed the condition of Tiger Woods, and there was no evidence of any impairment whatsoever. He was lucid, no odor of alcohol, no evidence of any medication, narcotics or anything like that, that would bring that into question. So that was not a concern at the time.

So, therefore, obviously no field sobriety test and no DRE, drug recognition expert, needed to respond to do any further assessment of that. This is what it is, an accident.


JIMENEZ: So, despite ruling out, of course, the impairment part of this, this is still a very serious accident.

Thankfully, Tiger Woods is awake, responsive and recovering, is what that statement has said so far. But when you look at the damage he sustained, he was pretty beat up when they found him, especially on his legs, serious, significant injuries there where his bone was fractured at multiple points, even sticking out in the open air, as we understand from a chief medical officer here at UCLA Harbor Medical.

So, he's been through a significant surgery. Again, he's in that recovery portion right now. It's going to be a long road to recovery once he gets through this, as he is expected to, and then an even longer one before discussions come over whether he will ever step foot on a golf course again -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Could be months, could be years, according to some doctors I have read from.

But, obviously, we wish him well, and, again, ruled as an accident.

Omar Jimenez, thank you so much.

PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan expressed his support for Tiger Woods earlier today.


JAY MONAHAN, PGA TOUR COMMISSIONER: Tiger is a human being. Tiger has had some really difficult injuries. The most important thing is his well-being.

It's him -- it's Tiger recovering. It's supporting Tiger's family. The golf -- when Tiger wants to talk about the golf, we will talk about the golf. All the energy right now is going to be poured into supporting him in the days and months ahead.


BALDWIN: Carl Paulson is a former PGA Tour player and co-host of "Inside the Ropes" on SiriusXM.

Carl, great to see you. Welcome.

CARL PAULSON, PROFESSIONAL GOLFER: Thank you for having me. Appreciate it.

BALDWIN: You have been a player. You have been dealt your own fair share of back injuries. You have followed Tiger Woods' career for years.


When you first heard about the news yesterday, what went through your mind?

PAULSON: Just shock.

I mean, Tiger has been through so much in the last 10 years, some of it self-inflicted, and some of it related to body injuries and stuff, but just shock and kind of feel bad for him. He really was a guy when -- I played with him on tour, and really was a guy that was kind of shut off from the rest of the tour and the rest of the players and everything.

And once he came back from this last back injury, he's been much more open and friendly with the players and everything. And I think that everybody was kind of really embracing that side of Tiger, but just kind of shocked to, be honest with you. I mean, with as much as he's been through, it's tough.

BALDWIN: You hit on something, Carl, that I heard from every single person I talked to yesterday, who covered him, who know him, in saying that -- there's been a lot of -- stories have been told, a recent documentary on HBO about really talking about the relationship between Tiger Woods and his father, right, and how it's -- he's now almost completed this full arc with how he is with his 11-year-old boy, Charlie.

And we all saw those awesome images from December in the tournament and the monster swing that Charlie has, and just how, in recent years, Tiger Woods does seem to have changed. He almost -- it's like less maybe intense and happier. Is that an accurate assessment?

PAULSON: Yes, I think so. I think happier. I mean, when he walked off the 18th green, the 72nd hole at the '19 Masters, and he won, and that smile that was on his face, I had never seen him that happy.

And then to have his kids run up in his arms, and it really felt good to know that he was in a spot -- a real good spot personally. Obviously, the golf game was pretty good that week too.


PAULSON: But it's just real nice to see them happy. And this is just a -- it's almost a start-over struggle that's even going to be harder than anything, any one of the other injuries that he's had to come back with.

But you mentioned Charlie and Sam. And that really is the focus right now, for him to get back healthy to be able to be a regular dad and go in the backyard and kick the ball, soccer ball around with Sam or hit some golf balls with Charlie. So that that's really the focus right now. And if he ever plays golf again, that's icing on the cake.

BALDWIN: I was talking to our sports anchor here at CNN yesterday Don Riddell, and Don was saying that he had interviewed Tiger just before he made the big comeback down in Augusta in 2019 with the big smile.

And he was talking to him about, if you were to come back at the Masters, and if you were to have that Green Jacket again, do you think that'd be the biggest comeback of all time? And Tiger looked at Don, and he said: No. He said: I actually think that the greatest comeback of all time is this guy Ben Hogan, who was another golf legend who was seriously injured in a violent car accident.

He was in his car with his wife, a Greyhound bus, bang, just horrendous, horrendous injuries to Ben Hogan. And Tiger Woods at the time was, like, so impressed with him and his comeback. He went on to win six more majors.

What do you make of that, Carl?

PAULSON: Well, that was incredible. Look, all the doctors said that he would never walk again, and if he did, he would have to learn how to walk and it would probably be with assistance. So what Ben Hogan did was absolutely incredible.

If that happens with Tiger Woods, we will all be thrilled, because of what Tiger has meant to the game. To all of us that played with him, he beat us up pretty bad in those days. And all of the guys that are playing now that looked up to him have a chance to play with him from time to time. He means more to the game than anybody in our generation.

Obviously, Ben Hogan and Arnold Palmer and some of the guys from the other generations were the most important in their generations. But what Ben Hogan did was unthinkable, incredible. You can think of all the words, all the adjectives you can come up to describe what he did, and they really don't do it justice.

BALDWIN: Just almost eerie that it's his story that Tiger Woods so admired.


BALDWIN: And here we are, years later, and this is what's happened. We obviously are thinking about him, his family.

Carl, thank you so much for jumping on TV with me. I appreciate it. Good to talk to you.

PAULSON: Thanks for having me.

BALDWIN: We got some big news on the vaccine front today. The FDA says Johnson & Johnson's single-dose vaccine is safe and effective. And it could hit the market as early as next week.

Plus, voting rights are under attack here in the United States. We will talk about several new pieces of legislation that threaten access to ballots.

And a big shift in how the U.S. deals with Russia, President Biden's plans to hold Russia accountable for recent bad behavior.

You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. We will be right back.



BALDWIN: You are watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being with me.

The FDA is this close to authorizing a third coronavirus vaccine. The agency said Johnson & Johnson's single-dose vaccine is safe and effective and meets the requirements for emergency use. A panel will meet Friday to discuss authorization. And millions of vaccines could be rolled out next week.

Johnson & Johnson would join Pfizer and Moderna, who have all pledged 240 million vaccine doses by the end of next month. The Biden administration says weather-related shipping delays are over, and states can expect to receive more doses very soon.


Meantime, new mega-vaccination sites are opening around the country, as cases continue to drop.

CNN's Alexandra Field is at Brooklyn, Medgar Evers College, the site of New York's largest mass vaccination that just opened today.

I see a little bit of a hustle and bustle around you. How's it going?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. Look, the shots are needed here. That is why this site has been set

up. It's being run by FEMA and by New York state. People are lining up coming here to get their shots. But you're only eligible right now if you live in certain zip codes. Eventually, though, this is a facility that will be able to serve 3,000 people a day.

That's when they have enough supply, the good news being the federal government is promising more supply is in fact on the way.


FIELD (voice-over): A third vaccine could be available to Americans as soon as next week.

JEFF ZIENTS, WHITE HOUSE COVID-19 RESPONSE COORDINATOR: If authorized, we are ready to roll out this vaccine without delay.

FIELD: The Biden administration preparing to ship three to four million doses of Johnson & Johnson's single-dose vaccine, which is likely to receive emergency use authorization from the FDA later this week.

The agency today releasing data showing Johnson & Johnson's vaccine is safe and more than 66 percent effective.

DR. ONI BLACKSTOCK, PRIMARY CARE & HIV PHYSICIAN: It will get us to where we need to be in terms of having most of the public vaccinated hopefully by the summer or early fall.

FIELD: The federal government also unveiling a new plan to send out 25 million masks to people who need them most.

ZIENTS: In the month of March, we will begin to deliver millions of masks to food banks and community health centers around the country. Many low-income Americans still lack affordable access to this basic protection.

FIELD: This as weeks of declines in new COVID cases continue across the country, but not as steeply and not enough to eliminate concerns new variants could cause another surge.

TREVOR BEDFORD, FRED HUTCHINSON CANCER RESEARCH CENTER: It could result in more of a wave in, say, April, May than we would have expected otherwise.

DR. ABDUL EL-SAYED, FORMER DIRECTOR, DETROIT HEALTH DEPARTMENT: We are in an arms race between the virus and our ability to vaccinate and shut down the avenues that it has to continue to evolve.

FIELD: Weekly shipments of vaccines are getting another increase.

ZIENTS: We have nearly doubled weekly supply of doses in just five weeks.

FIELD: States are now set to receive a total of 14.5 million doses this week, with another 2.1 million doses going directly to pharmacies around the country.

Today, Texas launches its biggest vaccination effort yet a new FEMA super site in Houston capable of serving as many as 6,000 people a day. And New York City is opening two of its largest sites.

Governor Andrew Cuomo says both aim toward more equitable vaccine distribution.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): COVID preyed on the health disparities and the comorbidities that were existing in communities that didn't have enough health care service in the first place, because it showed the underlying injustice in society.

FIELD: New analysis suggests that more nuanced allocation of vaccines targeting more specific vulnerable groups could help states save thousands of lives.

BLACKSTOCK: The disproportionate toll of the pandemic on black Americans, as well as the effects of structural racism called for black Americans to have a lower vaccine cutoff, because often we are getting underlying conditions at much earlier ages than our white American counterparts.


FIELD: And, Brooke, certainly, the possibility of this third vaccine now fueling a lot of hope, but a fourth vaccine may not be far off, AstraZeneca also hoping that they will be able to seek the emergency use authorization from the FDA.

They say that they would plan to have as many as 50 million doses ready to ship by the end of April -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Love it. We will take it.

Alex, thank you so much in Brooklyn.

Dr. Megan Ranney is an emergency physician at Brown University and the co-founder of

Dr. Ranney, great to have you on.

I want to just out of the gate, Johnson & Johnson, how huge is this?

DR. MEGAN RANNEY, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: I mean, this is just tremendous, Brooke. This new vaccine has two really great things going for it.

The first is, it is a single dose. And then, by 28 days later, we see tremendous levels of protection with no hospitalizations or deaths in the folks that got it. And the second thing is, this vaccine is so much more stable than the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. It doesn't require that special cold storage. It's going to be much easier logistically for us to get out and about, especially to some of the areas that had been hardest-hit, like tribal nations and Native American folks who have been so decimated by this virus. So, it's just going to be a great addition to our armamentarium of

fighting off COVID-19. And it's going to get us to that light at the end of the tunnel a little bit more quickly.


BALDWIN: But the other half of the battle is making sure we get those shots in arms. Do we have everything in place to do so?

RANNEY: You know, I hope so. Everything that I'm hearing each day gives me--

BALDWIN: I appreciate an honest answer.


RANNEY: Right?

It's like the news that we're getting is great. These new mega-vaccine sites opening are terrific. The improved data from the federal government about just how many vaccines are there, those are the things we need.

And, of course, the messaging for populations who are most at risk, who may mistrust or have hesitancy around this vaccine, that's essential too. We're going to have to see how it goes over the next few weeks. And, of course, we also need the money for the local public health departments and health care facilities to administer these shots, which is something that we're still waiting on.

BALDWIN: The -- one of the things that people are saying about Johnson & Johnson is, when you look at the numbers, the efficacy, right, it's not as high as, say, Moderna or Pfizer.

But some pretty smart doctors I have talked to are saying, well, you need to factor in the fact that Johnson & Johnson has actually been tested on multiple variants, which may actually even the playing field. What do you think?

RANNEY: You know, it's interesting. Their data, I have read through the document that got released this morning. And it looks like their efficacy is pretty similar in the United States, South Africa and Brazil, despite the fact that it was in South Africa and Brazil that they did have those novel variants.

So that is a really good sign. It means that it has equivalent efficacy in all three sites. The bigger thing is that, if it's out there, and we can get it in arms, that, in and of itself saves lives.


RANNEY: Getting a vaccine that is 70 percent effective against moderate disease today vs. waiting for one that's 90 percent effective three or six months from now, that 20 percent difference disappears when you account for the amount of time in between the two.

So, at the end of the day, it's about getting shots in arms now, rather than waiting for something that's potentially perfect.

BALDWIN: There is a very realistic scenario, in a matter of months, Dr. Ranney, where we may have Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca.

Will there be a scenario in which we roll up to the doctor's office and we pick a shot from the menu of shots, or no?

RANNEY: It's too soon to say.

I think that, by summer, we are going to have a situation where anyone who wants to get vaccinated can get vaccinated. Whether or not people are going to be able to choose their shot is still to be determined. I'm really waiting on ACIP to meet.

So, once we get the FDA emergency use authorization, then there's the Special Committee on Immunization Practices that is going to tell us who to prioritize the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for. I think they're going to set slightly different boundaries there.

And I think that that will determine who gets which vaccine at least in the next six to nine months. Next year, it may be a different story, as we create new boosters for new variants.

BALDWIN: Yes, I don't care what vaccine I get. I just know I want a vaccine. And I will wait in line. Don't care. Roll up my arm. Take what I can get.

Dr. Megan Ranney, thank you so, so much.

RANNEY: Thank you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Let's get back to the car accident involving this man, Tiger Woods. The fact that he is awake and alert this afternoon is really being called a miracle.

But what will it take for him to overcome such devastating injuries? We will talk to a doctor.

Also, voting rights across the country under attack -- the latest on GOP efforts to limit access to ballots.



BALDWIN: Senator Ron Johnson is under fire today for pushing the lie that so-called fake Trump supporters led the deadly insurrection on January 6.

During Tuesday's Senate hearing on security failures that led to the attack on the Capitol, Senator Johnson used his time to promote wild conspiracy theories. And he wasn't alone.

So, what do we need to know before tomorrow, when the House holds its first hearing? CNN's John Avlon has this reality check.


JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, January 6, is one of those days that gets worse the more perspective we have on it.

Yesterday's Senate hearing was the beginning of getting more answers about how our Capitol was overrun by a violent mob trying to overturn an election based on the big lie.

But hyperpartisan denial is a hell of a drug. It can cause you to see things that weren't there, ignoring the obvious, while always jonesing for another confirmation bias quick fix.

Just listen to Senator Ron Johnson, who spent almost five minutes suggesting this was a false flag attack by cleverly disguised leftists.

SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): He describes four different types of people, plainclothes militants, agent provocateurs, fake Trump protesters, and then disciplined uniformed column of attackers.

I think these the people that probably planned this.

AVLON: This is pathetic.

The FBI has stated there's no evidence of an Antifa involvement in the attack, while we know the rioters have repeatedly said they were doing what Trump told them, in addition to members of the pro-Trump paramilitary groups who've been arrested and the flags and the signs.

But we have come to expect no less from Johnson, who seems to reach for partisan conspiracy theories when confronted with uncomfortable facts.

JOHNSON: This didn't seem isn't like an armed insurrection to me. I mean, armed -- when you think here of armed, don't think of firearms?