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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

C.D.C. Mask Mandates For Travelers No Longer In Effect After Judge's Ruling; Russian Forces Have Started Battle For The East Of Ukraine Says President Zelenskyy; Jose Andres On The Danger And Necessity Of Feeding People On The Front Lines; U.S. Defense Official: Mariupol Remains Contested; Official: CDC Mask Mandate For Travelers No Longer In Effect After Judge's Ruling; Eight Dead, Dozens Injured In Multiple Shootings Across The U.S. Over The Weekend; Navigating COVID-19 With Young Children. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired April 18, 2022 - 20:00   ET


SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was the kindness and the generosity they experienced in Russia, the country responsible for bombing their homes and uprooting their lives. Evgeny (ph) said that he was so struck by the kindness that he went to church to pray for the people who had helped him and he is not a religious man.

Liudmyla said that this is proof that there are good people in every country, including Russia -- Kate.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: Unbelievable. Scott, thank you.

AC 360 starts now.



Two breaking news stories we are closely following in this moment. In Ukraine, President Zelenskyy says that a major new Russian offensive has begun in the east of the country and we will have multiple reports from Ukraine tonight of what will likely be a new and very bloody phase of the invasion.

Now, the other breaking story we're covering is here in the United States. A Federal Judge has struck down the Federal mask mandate for air and other travel, calling it unlawful. According to an administration official that means the C.D.C.'s public transportation mask order is not in effect right now at airports across the country.

Our aviation correspondent, Pete Muntean joins us now with more.

So what more did the Judge say in their decision?

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, this is so interesting, because this is the first time I'm here at Reagan National Airport. I've probably done dozens, maybe hundreds of live shots here throughout the pandemic wearing a mask.

This is the first time we're not wearing a mask because of this Federal Judge's decision. Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, she was appointed by President Trump back in 2020 and she said this rule essentially is void, that the C.D.C.'s authority does not include the Federal Transportation Mask Mandate.

And now we have confirmed from Biden administration officials that the mask mandate is not in effect pending a Federal review of this late court order.

It came by surprise. It was very abrupt. We know that the Federal Transportation Masks Mandate was slated to end today. It got extended by two weeks. It was to end on May 3rd. Airlines really quickly pushed back against that, and they said that this is something that is holding people back from traveling.

The history here back in February 2021, the Biden administration ordered this to be put into place extended again, and again. Now, we know the Federal Transportation Mask Mandate, one of the last big mask mandates to remain in place no longer the law of the land -- Anderson.

COOPER: So just to be clear, I mean obviously you can wear a mask on a plane if you want, but are masks still required on airplanes?

MUNTEAN: Right. This is what we're hearing from airlines. Major airlines like United, Delta, Alaska Airlines have all essentially said now, they will follow the order from the Judge here, and they say that masks are essentially optional, not only for passengers, but also for workers.

Remember this Anderson, about 70 percent of all unruly passenger incidents according to the latest F.A.A. data have to do with masks. Its employees who have been on the frontlines of this. No doubt some people will still feel more comfortable wearing a mask on board an airplane regardless of whether or not you're a passenger or an airline worker, a confined space.

We do know from some studies that they say that being on an airplane because of the confined air on board is one of the safest places you can be from coronavirus.

COOPER: Are people around you in the airport wearing masks or not wearing masks?

MUNTEAN: I'm seeing about, oh maybe 40 to 30 percent, a third not wearing masks right now. You know we have heard from folks throughout the network, people traveling today in Denver and LAX that some people didn't initially get the memo. And frankly, the Biden administration didn't really get the memo right away. They were trying to figure out whether or not this would apply to everybody or if this would be something more focused, if this was with immediacy, or if this is something that would take place later on.

So we are seeing that some people are now not wearing masks, myself included. It's legal now.

COOPER: Right. All right, Pete Muntean, appreciate it. We will have more on this later in the program. I want to go to Ukraine now. President Zelenskyy says that Russians

have begun a long anticipated battle for the eastern portion of the country.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Russian forces have started the battle for Donbas, to which they've been preparing for a long time and the considerable amount of the Russian forces are concentrating and focused on that offensive and no matter how many Russian servicemen they are bringing in into that area, we will keep on fighting and defending and we will be doing this daily.

We will not give up anything what is Ukrainian. But we don't need anything what is not ours.


COOPER: His Chief of Staff called this a second phase of the war, one where the Russian forces have regrouped and resupplied. Now, a U.S. defense official tells CNN that the U.S. believes Russia has been able to add 11 battalion tactical groups to their forces in the east and south of Ukraine since last week. That would make a total of 76, which in practical terms means tens of thousands of soldiers.

And according to U.S. officials, the Russians will try to apply the lessons they've learned from its failure so far. Whether they can or not, unclear. Those failures on display as new image of that sunken Russian warship emerged today. You can see the Moskva listing to one side with what appeared to be marks from a missile strike and a large plume of black smoke.


COOPER: Russia has essentially -- had essentially blamed a storm and a fire onboard the ship for the loss of the Black Sea flagship.

There were also missile attacks in the western city of Lviv, which is almost two months into the war now recording its first deaths. We report tonight from the west and east of Ukraine, Clarissa Ward is in Dnipro, to the southeast of the capital, Kyiv; and Matt Rivers is in Lviv, which is where we begin our coverage.


MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The black smoke made a column to the sky, so we chased it source. When we arrived flames shot out of two buildings as firefighters rained down water from above.

RIVERS (on camera): Well, Ukrainian officials say at least four missile strikes across Lviv on Monday morning, three of which hit military infrastructure sites, another hitting just across these railroad tracks behind me.

Let me show you the impact crater from where Ukrainian officials say that Russian missile struck.

RIVERS (voice over): Military and first responders on the scene quickly thereafter, the explosion destroying an auto repair shop and a dozen or so cars lined up outside The explosion shockwaves blew out windows more than 500 feet away.

Maria Holovchuck (ph) showed us her building's damage.

(MARIA HOLOVCHUCK speaking in foreign language.)

RIVERS (voice over): "I got very scared," she says and "I was scared that the whole building was going to fall down. I don't know whether I should stay here in this building or if I should move to Poland and flee for my life."

Overall, the four strikes across the city killed at least seven people and injured about a dozen including a child.

Here scenes from a hospital treating victims of the strike who survived. Other victims, in body bags, outside the repair shop where they have worked.

RIVERS (on camera): The owner says they were just getting ready to open up the business for the day when the missile struck, four of his employees he says were killed and several others were sent to the hospital, in what appears to be such an obvious non-military target, it begs the question, was this a mistake by the Russian military? Or was this place targeted on purpose?

RIVERS (voice over): The owner told us the only vague connection his shop had to the military was volunteering time to make sure cars being sent to soldiers at the front were in good shape. For him, this is just another example of Russian military brutality.

(UNIDENTIFIED MALE speaking in foreign language.)

RIVERS (voice over): He says, "They destroy our infrastructure. They kill people. They want to kill and destroy the Ukrainian nation."


COOPER: And Matt Rivers joins us now from Lviv. Clarissa Ward in Dnipro.

Matt, I mean, Lviv has been a very safe part of Ukraine relatively speaking during the war. How have these strikes impacted the sense of security in the city today?

RIVERS: Yes, Anderson. It had been weeks since there was a missile strike here in Lviv, and these strikes on Monday morning here were the first time that any civilians were killed as a result of a Russian missile strike. So that has certainly shattered the relatively calm couple of weeks that we have had here.

I mean, you've been here, you've heard how common air raid sirens here are, they happen all the time. And most of times people don't even really register them, they keep going on. And yet, when we were at the scene of that airstrike today, there was another air raid siren that had gone off while we were there.

Everyone who was at that scene, everyone, the onlookers who had come to look at the remnants of those two buildings that we showed you, everyone that was there took off, started running, heading towards air raid shelters. That is a scene, I think you would not have seen in Lviv, just one day before.

So clearly, these strikes have people here more on edge, and perhaps rightly so.

COOPER: Clarissa, you're in Dnipro right now, which is to the southeast of the capital, Kyiv. Explain what you've been seeing and also, just the importance of Dnipro right now.

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, there were two missiles that struck here overnight on the outskirts of the city. This is a city of roughly a million people and it has also become the place that many of those who are evacuating the hardest hit areas in the east of the country are flocking to for some semblance of security.

We've been out for the past few days visiting towns and cities in the so-called Donbas region, which is really the center of Russia's new offensive. What we found and saw were places that have been getting pummeled by artillery as Russians appear to be sort of trying to soften up the territory ahead of this offensive.

We also saw though, that for many people, evacuation was simply not an option. This part of the country is much poorer than the capital, Kyiv. We haven't seen the same logistics and infrastructure in place in terms of trying to evacuate people. A lot of people we spoke to said we would like to leave, but it is simply not possible. We don't have the money. We don't have anywhere to stay.

And of course, they are also very concerned about leaving their homes behind, not just about the prospect of increased bombardment, but also, they have seen what happened in places in the north, outside of Kyiv and Chernihiv where Russian forces were occupying areas for weeks on end, homes completely looted, ransacked, all of their possessions were stolen.

And so there's more of a reluctance at the moment for people to leave their homes, even though they know that things are only going to get much worse -- Anderson.


COOPER: And Clarissa, with Ukraine, saying that the second phase of the war has begun. I mean, every military strategist has talked about what the battle may look like in the east versus what we have seen in Kyiv and in places previously. Can you just talk a little bit about that? I mean, some have said it's going to be much more of a sort of standard, you know, tank battles over large areas of land.

WARD: Yes, I mean, it's a dramatically different battlefield here.

When you drive around these areas. These are vast flat plains and fields. There isn't the same amount of cover for Ukrainian forces. A lot of their successes in the north were launching ambushes, taking part in skirmishes almost sort of guerrilla type tactics that wouldn't necessarily be applicable to the landscape here, especially as the anticipation according to Ukraine's top security official, Russian ground troops were literally trying to push in all across that frontline in Kharkiv, Luhansk and Donetsk regions.

Today, they were only successful in one town, Kreminna, and also a smaller town that Ukrainian authorities have yet to name. But the fear for Ukrainian forces, Anderson, is that they are now much further away from their logistics and resupply hubs. And so getting weapons to the soldiers on the front lines is more complex. We've seen Russia already targeting the railway systems in various parts connecting the east to the west. That's obviously a major way to get weapons to the frontline. And we're hearing Ukrainian forces imploring again and again, listen, we need heavier weapons, we need serious long range artillery and we cannot deal with a situation in which those weapons and that ammunition are not flowing freely and constantly being replenished.

COOPER: Matt, also, Mariupol is a city which we've obviously been watching trying to defend itself and remain standing. A Ukrainian Commander has called it hell on earth there. What more are you learning about the battle there?

I mean, it seems like Russian forces are in a position now where they may be able to, or at least, it is possible they could take the city finally.

RIVERS: Yes, and Anderson, I mean, that's kind of similar to what we've been saying for a while now. You're not wrong to say that, it has seemed that Mariupol has been on the brink of falling into Russian forces for at least days now, if not weeks. And yet what we're hearing from the Ukrainians is that they're simply refusing to give up.

It was over the weekend, on Sunday that Russia laid down an ultimatum saying any remaining Ukrainian resistance fighters in the city needed to lay down their arms and surrender by 1:00 PM local time. That didn't happen.

The Ukrainians flat out ignored that and said they would continue to fight and that happened into Monday. And we actually managed to speak to a police captain who is actually from Mariupol, he is inside the Azovstal Steel Plant, where I think this resistance has really centered over the past couple of days, if not past couple of weeks, and he told us about the sense of urgency, the sense of commitment to continuing the fight against the Russian troops.

He said there are no plans for the fighters inside that steel plant to give up anytime soon. And very interestingly, he also talked about the civilians that are also inside that steel plant.

He said, in total, we're talking about a thousand women, children, elderly people who have taken shelter in that steel plant, in some cases alongside the fighters who are continuing to do battle with the Russian forces. And in some ways, that's kind of a microcosm of what we're seeing in Mariupol overall.

You have this ongoing siege that has been going on for weeks now with horrific fighting between both sides, but trapped in the middle of it all is a civilian population that has been without food, water, medical supplies for an incredibly long time and that is why I think you hear these words "hell on earth," you know, you have these civilians that desperately need to get out, and yet for days now, no humanitarian corridors have been open, no evacuation routes given for those people, which means that this horrific situation in Mariupol will likely continue.

COOPER: Clarissa, the Luhansk region military governor said that there are, in his words, no safe places left in the region. Are people able to evacuate at this point?


WARD: It's tricky, Anderson, because the question is how do you evacuate people often from these small villages that are coming under fire, the roads are often impassable. They are heavily mined in many cases as well.

And as I mentioned before, a lot of people are really reluctant to evacuate because they are so frightened that they will never be able to return to their homes if they do so.

In addition to that, you have the issue of the elderly, the vulnerable. As Matt just mentioned, a lot of the people who are still trapped in Mariupol are people who simply didn't have the wherewithal, the means, the resources, and the support to get out safely.

We met an 86-year-old woman called Lydia, who was living in the town of Avdiivka on her own in a wheelchair, no heating. She had no windows, they had been blown out from the force of blast nearby. No running water, very spotty electricity, her son was in Russia. And after our piece aired, there was a sort of huge outpouring and we were able to work with volunteers to get her out and get her to a nursing home in the relative safety of the city where we are in Dnipro.

But what you have to understand is there are so many more Lydia's and others like her who are out there who don't have the support, they don't have the resources. And as I mentioned before, the infrastructure here is just not in place in the same way that we saw it being organized so effectively in those suburbs around Kyiv earlier on in the war -- Anderson.

COOPER: Clarissa Ward and Matt Rivers, appreciate it. Be careful.

More on the intense fighting in Ukraine ahead tonight, a kitchen in Kharkiv that had partnered with the humanitarian relief organization, World Central Kitchen suffered a missile strike. I will talk to the founder of that organization, Jose Andres, in a moment. We'll also return to our other breaking news story with our medical

team weighing in on the Federal Court order striking down the travel mask mandate in the U.S.



COOPER: Russia's air campaign, a critical part of its second phase of the war, now extends to all parts of the country. Over the weekend, in Ukraine's second largest city of Kharkiv, a missile strike hit a kitchen partnering with the relief group, World Central Kitchen, the charity founded over a decade ago by Chef Jose Andres. His CEO, Nate Mook made this video after the strikes occurred.



I'm outside of Yaposhka, one of our restaurant partners here, less than 24 hours ago, I was standing right here picking up meals for the WCK team and meeting Vera and the Yaposhka staff.

Not too long ago, a missile hit here, and as you can see, tremendous amounts of damage. Still fire in the building there. Right here is the kitchen area, it goes back. There is a lot of damage to the kitchen as well.


COOPER: Now, four staff members were injured in the blast. Nate Mook later tweeted this picture of three of them saying that they are recovering.

Today, World Central Kitchen posted another picture. It's from just outside Kharkiv showing them at work providing hot meals and produce.

Just before airtime, I spoke with Chef Jose Andres about the attacks.


COOPER: Jose, it's good to see you. First of all, how was everybody who was working in that facility that was struck in Kharkiv?

CHEF JOSE ANDRES, WORLD CENTRAL KITCHEN: So we were able to see the video that the CEO, my very good friend, Nate Mook did for -- with the people that were wounded. Four team members of one of our restaurant partners, their spirits are high.

Obviously, they have some bruises. But let me tell you what happened today. They began putting -- that was good to start being used again. They are putting that equipment in a new facility. Tomorrow, those men and woman of that -- will be cooking.

The Ukrainian people are fighters. They come up and said, we are here for our people. We're going to keep fighting this war in the only way we know, which is feeding people. We are food fighters.

COOPER: It's amazing that they are going back to continue the work. Did you ever think -- I mean, look, you've worked all over the world and you've worked in Ukraine now for a while since the beginning of this thing. Did you ever think something like this could happen that a partner, you know, a restaurant that you partner with would be hit?

ANDRES: I mean, Anderson, in the moment we came to Ukraine, we knew that something like this could happen. I mean, we need to understand one thing. We have more than 400 restaurant partners all across the Ukrainian operation, many of them are inside Ukraine.

We are in more than 80 cities. We are we are delivering food in more than 2,000 different points each day, many of them inside Ukraine. We are in Kharkiv, we are in Kharkov. I was in Bucha within hours of being liberated.

We are feeding inside Kherson which is under Russian occupation, and we have restaurants that are doing the best they can to take care of it very much, I will not say in the frontlines, but even beyond the frontlines.

We know the risk we are taking, but one thing is very clear, the Ukrainian people are fighting on behalf not only of Ukraine, but on behalf of the freedom of democracy, of liberty. The least we can be doing -- we can be doing is being next to them. So we know the risk that we took, World Central Kitchen is a young organization. This is the first time we are in a real war zone, and we are trying to make sure that everybody is safe.

But the most important is that we're going to be next to the people that need a plate of food. The children, the women, the elderly -- that's what we're trying to do every single day.


COOPER: It's got to be incredibly hard to assess where you can go and then also how long you can stay in an area, when you have to pull out depending on what is happening on the battlefield.

ANDRES: Obviously, it is something that we keep assessing. I will say not even hour by hour, but hurry continuously. Obviously, I'm going to be myself as Nate is in the north, in Kharkiv, and making sure the operation there is very sound.

I just came back from Chernihiv where it is also very close to the Belarussian border and we have a good operation there. We see that everything right now is moving into obviously, the Donbas area. We see that Zaporizhzhia, Dnipro are becoming almost like the new Lviv, there is a lot of people leaving the Donbas, a lot of refugees arriving there. We need to be there making sure that operation if anything, just keep growing to cover the local needs one meal at a time.

So yes, the situation is very fluid. We keep -- obviously, this has been going on already for more than 53 to 53 days. We have been here from the 12th hour after the Russian invasion began. We are going to be here in the long run next to the Ukrainian people making sure that food will not be one of the issues they need to be thinking of.

We cannot cover everything, but we are next to the Ukrainian people making sure that we reach the places that they are in the most need.

COOPER: Chef Jose Andres, as always, World Central Kitchen. Thank you.

ANDRES: Thank you very much.

COOPER: Just ahead, what one Ukrainian Commander calls "hell on earth," the latest in the besieged port of Mariupol, next.



COOPER: We're now in the fight for Mariupol which as we mentioned earlier as a place when Ukrainian commander is called Hell on Earth. He said it in a letter to Pope Francis pleading for help. Civilians are said to be holed up in a massive steel factory as Dan Rivers was talking about earlier, along with Ukrainian fighters and control of the cities remain contested according to a senior U.S. defense official. It's a strategically important city for both countries, which explains the ferocity of the fighting.

More now from Matthew Chance. We want to warn you some of the images you'll see are disturbing.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These are the kids Ukrainian officials say are at ground zero in the battle for Mariupol. This video posted on government social media but which CNN can't verify shows dozens of children said to have been sheltering for weeks in a basement in the city, where Ukrainian forces are holding act against Russian attacks. Kids distracting themselves from the battles above.

We play with these toys, build things and imagine things this little boy says. Do you want to get out of here? They're asked. Yes, yes, they all shout. But the adults here know, that's unlikely to happen anytime soon.


CHANCE (voice-over): I'm with my three children and conditions are not the best here, this parent says. There's no way to study, not much food, and my kids teeth are starting to spoil, she says. But the alternative surrender to Russia may be worse.

Above ground, Mariupol has borne the brunt of Russia's brutal invasion. Latest images show the extent of the devastation. One Ukrainian commander has called this hell on earth. But troops defending the city concentrated at the vast Azovstal steelworks are refusing to surrender. Ukrainian officials say they will fight until the end. DMYTRO KULEBA, UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: The situation in Mariupol is most dire militarily and heartbreaking. The city doesn't exist anymore, it seems from the way Russian army behaves in Mariupol, they decided to race the city to the ground at any cost.

CHANCE (voice-over): But Ukrainian forces in Mariupol are making sure that erasure is painful. This video shows a counter attack against Russian forces by the Ukrainian Azov (ph) battalion, with their soldiers throwing grenades at Russian forces in the city. It is an act of resistance, but the outcome may be unchanged.

Already, the human toll of this battle for Mariupol has been appalling, with thousands, including many civilians killed. But Ukrainian officials say another Russian offensive is now underway. Posing another deadly threat to those trapped inside.


COOPER: We're joined now by Matthew Chance. I mean, you see those kids in, you know, living underground like that. Can you just talk about why taking for Russians taking Mariupol is so important?

CHANCE: Well, it's partly geographic, partly strategic. I mean, look. Mariupol is a coastal city, which lies smack between the area of Donbass, which is controlled by Russian backed forces and by Russia itself. And Crimea, which is annexed by a bit of Ukrainian territory has been annexed by Russia. If Russia wants to establish a land corridor between those two Russian controlled areas, it has to take Mariupol and that's one of the reasons why the Ukrainian forces have been so determined not to back down and to defend that, that patch of coastal territory.

And unless that land corridor is established, Vladimir Putin is not going to be able to turn around to the people of Russia. And say that look, you know, we have achieved some kind of victory in what he calls his special military operation in Ukraine. He wants to achieve a victory like that before May the 9th which is a very important day in Russia, it's the day of the Victory Day parades across the country in which they celebrate Russia's military prowess, some sort of commemorate the end of the Second World War in the country. He wants a victory by then and that's why there's this big push underway right now I think to establish control over Donbass, and to really push out the last remnants of resistance for Mariupol as well, Anderson.


COOPER: Matthew Chance I appreciate the report. Thank you.

I'm joined now by retired Major General James "Spider" Marks, a CNN military analyst.

So General Marks, I mean, if Mariupol falls in the coming days, weeks, what does that mean for Russia and Ukraine strategically and psychologically, obviously, as Matthew was saying, it's if you want to connect those two parts, Russia, unhealed parts, you need to control Mariupol. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS RET., CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Yes, the very first step for Russia to declare some type of an immediate victory, bearing in mind that they won't be done, if they can secure Mariupol and sadly, it looks like it's, it's inevitable. But Mariupol is strategically important. And tactically from the military perspective, it's important to grab Mariupol, because as the Russians then turn to the south and westward Kherson and then ultimately, the Russians would love to get across the Dniper River and get their hands on Odessa. That's the ultimate goal here. But you have to grab Mariupol.

And it also allows Putin to go back to his population and say, look, we've expanded beyond the Donbass, we have moved into Ukraine, we now have a handle on Mariupol. And we are continuing on our offensive, exactly as Matthew laid out. And I have to take the opportunity here, Anderson looking at that, that film of those absolutely beautiful children underground. I mean, I was blessed, we've been blessed over this Easter weekend, I spent it with three of my five grandchildren who looked just like those kids. It's absolutely heartbreaking.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, it's sickening to see any children in this kind of situation.


COOPER: The Russian forces they, according to President Zelenskyy have started today the battle for Donbass. What does that battle look like? Obviously, you know, we've heard a lot about it being much more heavy artillery tanks over a long, you know, open plains. Isn't much more kind of some people compared to its kind of a World War II style battle.

MARKS: It's going to be far more conventional than what we've seen to date up to the Kyiv area and certainly at Kharkiv, where the Russians tried to walk into urban terrain and got completely waxed, this will be open terrain, and it will come in phases. The Russians are not unlike the Soviets in that when you see artillery, you can't get enough of it from the Russians, they will pound and pound and pound and try to shape the conditions for the movement of their heavy units, which is their tank units and their infantry units, that is going to come.

Now the Ukrainians have some capabilities that they've demonstrated to engage tactically with the Russian forces in these fights, these tactical engagements. There is very little they can do to reach deeply to try to conduct what's called counter fire against these artillery and rocket barrages, which are happening right now. They've demonstrated the Ukrainians have the ability to strike deep, and that's how you shape the engagement. You can win tactically in front of you, but you must shape and you must start to attract what the enemy can then bring forward to reinforce with that next echelon.

So Ukrainians know how to do this. They just got to get about the business of doing that.

COOPER: Yes, General Marks, appreciate it. Thank you. Up next, more on our other breaking news this evening, including new statements from major U.S. airlines about today's court ruling overturning mask mandate for planes and other transportation.



COOPER: Returning to other breaking news tonight. In the last few minutes several U.S. airlines including Delta, United and Southwest along with Amtrak said that masks are now optional after a federal judge overturned the mask mandate for planes and other public transportation. Administration officials said the travel mask mandate he is currently not in effect while the decision is under review.

Joining me now former federal prosecutor and CNN chief legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin. Also joining me is former Baltimore Health Commissioner, public health professor at George Washington University, CNN medical analyst and author of Lifelines Doctor Journey In The Fight For Public Health, Dr. Leana Wen, and a mom too.

Dr. Wen -- or Jeff, let me start with you on the legal front. I mean, the judge who handed down this ruling wrote that the CDC had exceeded its authority by implementing the mask mandate. Is she right?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: I don't think she's right. But this case illustrates just how politicized our judiciary has become. This Arizona group goes all the way to Tampa to find a judge who was appointed by Donald Trump in the last days of his presidency, found unqualified by the ABA. And she was 33 years old when she was confirmed.

COOPER: That's the American Bar Association.

TOOBIN: The American Bar Association. So, they found it the most conservative judge they could find, and even though many other judges have found that this mandate was legal. She not only rules about Florida, where she's the judge, she imposes a nationwide mandate. It is a crazy way to have a judicial system. But judges -- of plaintiffs are cherry picking their judges in ever increasing ways because the judiciary is now so polarized.

COOPER: So, Dr. Wen with a mask mandate no longer in effect, does it raise the risk of travel, especially as COVID cases are climbing here in the U.S.?

LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Honestly, Anderson, I am not surprised by what happened today because it was only really a matter of time before the Biden administration lifted the mask mandate themselves. I think it probably would have happened in the next two weeks. Yes, BA2 cases are rising. But we're not seeing a concurrent rise in hospitalizations, which is really good. And I think this actually signals a broader shift by the Biden administration away from mandates and top down decision making by the government moving to empowering individuals with the choices that they have. And so in this case, people should remember that just because you're not required by the government to wear a mask, that doesn't mean you shouldn't wear mask. I'm definitely going to be masking when I go to planes, on trains in airports. Make sure if you're masking wear an N95 or equivalent masks because you have to protect yourself in one way masking works very well even if others around you are not masking.


COOPER: Jeff, the ruling it can be appealed. The mandate was set to expire in two weeks anyways as Dr. Wen was indicating. And it was I mean, it was unclear at best it was going to be renewed. What do you think happens next year? Do you think this is just a done deal?

TOOBIN: Well, it looks like it's a done deal. I mean, the administration rather than saying they were going to appeal right away and try to get a stay, they basically acquiesced in the decision. And it may be a good idea to get rid of the mandate now, but this is why we have medical professionals in the government. This should be up to the people who have some expertise in this area, not to federal judges, who are just pushing a political agenda that they don't like masks. I mean, that's the legal issue as I see it. I certainly defer to the experts on whether it's a good idea or not, but it should be left up to the experts, not federal judges.

COOPER: And Dr. Wen for travelers out there who have small children can't be vaccinated or in a high risk category. What's your advice for them if they have to travel or want to travel?

WEN: It's really difficult for parents with little kids who are not yet able to mask. That frankly, that was a problem even with a mask mandate was in place because people were wearing flimsy cloth masks or wearing them around their neck and it wasn't really doing much good anyway. Before everybody else for people who are able to mask make sure that you're wearing an N95, KN95 or KF94 mask. If you're wearing a mask wear one that's really protective, not a flimsy cloth mask. Also wear a mask during the times that are the highest risk that is boarding the plane and deplaning because that's when the ventilation system is not turned on.

Also, take other precautions, make sure you're vaccinated and boosted of course, but then if you're then going to visit somebody who's vulnerable take a test before seeing them that day.

COOPER: Yes, good advice, Dr. Wen. Jeff Toobin as well, thanks so much.

Eight people were killed dozens more injured after a violent weekend across the country with shootings, disrupting gatherings in a mall in the Easter celebration and parties. Our Randi Kaye tonight has details, next.


[20:51:18] COOPER: From Easter celebrations to house parties, it was a violent weekend across the U.S. with multiple shootings leaving eight people dead. This weekend's violence added to the years growing total of mass shootings, the Gun Violence Archive says there have been 144 mass shootings this year. And it's not even four months old yet. Both CNN and the Gun Violence Archive define a mass shooting as one that injures or kills four or more people not including the shooter.

"360's" Randi Kaye gives us a look into this weekend's tragic attacks and we want to warn you some of the images you'll see are disturbing.


RANDI KAYE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Pittsburgh, a massive search for what police believe are multiple suspects. This after an early morning shootout on Easter Sunday killed two people and injured 13 others. Officials say it happened at an Airbnb rental during a large party with as many as 200 people, many of them under age.

SCOTT SCHUBERT, CHIEF, PITTSBURGH BUREAU OF POLICE: Here we are Easter and we have multiple families, too that won't see a loved one.

KAYE (voice-over): Police say more than 90 rounds were fired prompting some party goers to jump out the windows. Many suffered broken bones and lacerations.

Also on Easter morning, a mass shooting in Furman, South Carolina about 50 miles north of Savannah, Georgia. At least nine people were injured according to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division. The shooting happened at Kara's Lounge in Hampton County during an Easter party. According to WTOC.

JASASI WILLIAMS, SHOOTING WITNESS: That was scary and we just tried to get the safety. We didn't know where the shots was coming from. We just are trying to get the (INAUDIBLE) everybody was running and screaming.

KAYE (voice-over): No suspects have been identified.

And this wasn't the only mass shooting in South Carolina this weekend. The other took place at the Columbiana Center Mall in Colombia on Saturday.

BAYRONE BILLUPS, WITNESSED GUNFIRE AT SC MALL: We started running and falling all over the place, everybody was falling in running on top of each other pushing and shoving.

KAYE (voice-over): Police say 14 people were injured in that shooting, nine of them struck by bullets. The others were hurt attempting to flee. Police say the shooting started around 2:00 p.m. and that they believe the shooters knew each other.

WILLIAM H. "SKIP" HOLBROOK, CHIEF, COLUMBIANA POLICE DEPT. This was not a situation where we had some random person show up at a mall to, you know, discharge a firearm and in this injured people. KAYE (voice-over): The victims ranged in age from 15 to 73. Two men are under arrest including a 22-year-old man for unlawful carrying of a pistol, according to Columbia Police. They are still looking for another man who also may have fired his gun at the mall.

About 900 miles north of there, another shooting in Boston's Chinatown neighborhood. The gunfire early Sunday morning left two people critically wounded.

GREG LONG, SUPREINTENDENT-IN- CHIEF, BOSTON POLICE DEPT.: Both of these males were transported to local area hospitals and both are currently listed in critical condition with life threatening injuries.

KAYE (voice-over): Police say three suspects were taken into custody after the vehicle they were fleeing in crashed and that a gun was recovered at the crash site.

And out west a weekend house party in Las Vegas turned violent police say leaving two adults and two minors shot. They are still searching for the gunman.

SYLVIA DOUSE, NEIGHBOR: It's scary. It's a little scary and very close to where we live.

KAYE (voice-over): And getting closer to close for so many.

Since January 1st, 151 people have been killed in shootings in this country. More than 600 hurt. That's according to the Gun Violence Archive.

Randi Kaye, CNN, Palm Beach County, Florida.


COOPER: Well coming up next as you may know, I was out last week with COVID which one of my kids got as well. Luckily I had some experts to talk about parenting while sick with. I have details on that coming up next.



COOPER: I'm happy to be back working tonight, thankfully feeling fine after being home with a week with COVID. My son Wyatt unfortunately also got the virus and aside from the sniffles and some interrupted sleep schedule, in fact, he doesn't know how to blow his nose which is actually kind of really cute. He's doing well.

Our experience is not unique. Many families have been having to manage the virus while trying to navigate work and childcare and quarantine, you name it, and certainly all new to me. And I learned a lot but I also had a lot of questions. So while I was at home and actually sick, made it the topic of this week's episode of my "Parental Guidance" show on CNN+. Here's a bit of it.


COOPER (on-camera): My oldest is not yet two years old. So, you know, there's no really explaining to him why he's, you know, coughing. And thankfully his symptoms aren't that bad. But how do you with kids who are a little older and how do you explain to them what's going on?


AMANDA SUPLEE, PEDIATRIC PSYCHOLOGIST: It's important to use simple honest language. I think we have a tendency to want to shield our children from the scary things going on in the world. But the reality is we're all living through this. And so, having a plan ahead of time, like Dr. Wen mentioned of just what are you going to say to your children, so Daddy is sick right now and he can't be in the same room as you or we have to wear masks right now because we're sick.


COOPER: The episode be available on CNN+ on Wednesday. Hope you can check it out.

The news continues. Let's hand over Laura Coates and Jim Sciutto in Ukraine.