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At This Hour

More Than 608,000 Americans Have Died from COVID-19; 120-Plus Dead amid Catastrophic Flooding in Western Europe; Pfizer Expects FDA Decision on Approval by January 2022. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired July 16, 2021 - 11:30   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN AT THIS HOUR: This morning, the U.S. surgeon general is making a new and urgent plea for Americans to get vaccinated, pointing to his own personal loss of ten family members to COVID to try and convince people who are holding out. Listen.


DR. VIVEK MURTHY, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: My family members who have passed away unfortunately due to COVID, they didn't have a chance actually to get fully vaccinated, the vast majority of them. And I think so often about things could have been different if they did have a vaccine available to them.


BOLDUAN: More than 608,000 Americans have died from COVID. As the surgeon general makes clear, those deaths are now preventable and some of the families are trying to get that very message out right now.

Kim Maginn was a 63-year-old mother, grandmother and elementary schoolteacher in Little Rock, Arkansas. You see her there with her daughters. She died ten days ago from coronavirus. She did not get the vaccine.

In her obituary, her daughters write this in part, quote, COVID is a heartless and non-discriminating disease. It robbed us of the opportunity to enjoy several more years with our mom. She was in the best shape of her life when she fell ill with COVID.

And her daughters, Rachel Maginn Rosser and Noelle Collier, join me now. Thank you both so much for being here.

Rachel, I read just part of what really was a very sweet obituary that you wrote for your mother. It shows your love for her throughout. She really did seem like a wonderful person. How are you all doing right now?

RACHEL MAGINN ROSSER, LOST MOM TO COVID-19: I don't know that it's really set in yet. We have been so busy with her memorial service and just taking care of things and trying to make sure that we get everything done, but it does hit me at odd times because I want to tell her something or text her something and she's not there anymore.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Noelle, your family is faced with something that unfortunately a lot of families are faced with right now. You were fully vaccinated, you're both fully vaccinated. Your mother was not and she had made up her mind that she was not going to get it. And this is not definitely not about blaming or criticizing anyone but rather to try and understand why people don't want to get the shot. What was her reasoning?

NOELLE COLLIER, LOST MOM TO COVID-19: My mom really believed that since COVID started so long ago, she believed that if I was going to get COVID, I would have already gotten COVID. Just very ironic but she firmly believed that it had been around for so long that she wasn't going to get it until she did get it.

ROSSER: I think especially because she was a teacher and she was around people, she thought if this is going to happen, it probably would have already happened.

COLLIER: Yes. My mom was someone who went out on the town every weekend and didn't really stay at home a whole lot. So she was out there living her life and she hadn't gotten it yet.

BOLDUAN: Rachel, did her view -- I'm curious as to what those conversations were like for you in trying to convince your mom to get the shot. But also did her view -- did her view of the virus change when she realized that she had gotten it?

ROSSER: The conversations that I would have with her, a tried a few different tactics. I tried being very factual about her about what we know about COVID and that you can get it from somebody that isn't even showing symptoms yet. I tried laying out the facts for her. I tried appealing to emotional side to her, what would we do without you, you know, you don't want to have to slow down.


You're in really great shape. You're living your life to the fullest. You don't want to get sick and have to stop doing what you're doing right now.

And I don't really -- I don't know if her opinion really changed. She was -- she was stubborn and so she had made up her mind that she wasn't going to do it and so she wasn't going to do it.

BOLDUAN: I've heard from E.R. doctors who say they sense a lot of regret in patients who they are now seeing who are unvaccinated who then end up in the hospital. Did you get that sense from your mom?

ROSSER: I think I did whenever I would go to visit. I couldn't go in the room with her because she was on isolation, so I would have to stand outside of the ICU room and talk to her or text her. It was really hard for her to talk because she was so out of breath. But we did talk about the need for her after this -- after she was out of hospital to still get vaccinated. And I remember one conversation that we had when I told her, you know, even -- she said, well, why get the vaccine if you could still get sick even after you've had it. And I said, well, because of the situation that you're in right now.

I'm a direct communicators and I had that kind of relationship with my mom and told her, if you have gotten vaccinated, you might have still gotten sick and might have gotten COVID but I don't think that would be in the hospital and in the condition that you're in right now.

BOLDUAN: Noelle, you guys have a message for the country, for those who are not vaccinated. What do you want to say to people?

COLLIER: I want people to understand that COVID is not gone. It is still very prevalent, especially in our state. You still can go get vaccinated. It is no cost to you. Go out and do it. Get vaccinated. You're less likely to get sick and wind up in the hospital.

Now, that is not saying that you might not still get COVID. I'm fully vaccinated and I still got COVID but I recovered. The vaccine is worth it.

BOLDUAN: Thank you both so much for coming on in this horrible time for your family. I really sincerely appreciate it. Kim Maginn, your mother, may her memory be a blessing, thank you both so much for being here.

We'll be right back.

COLLIER: Thank you.

ROSSER: Thank you.



What is happening in Europe right now is one of those situations where words just don't do it justice. Take a look at all of this, catastrophic flooding, more than 120 people have died, hundreds more are still missing right now as historic floods ravage Western Europe. Germany is hardest hit.

That's where Atika Shubert is and she is joining us now by the phone en route to one of the most hard -- hit and most affected, most impacted areas.

Atika, what is going on there?

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I'm heading towards Arviler. And this is a district quite close to the Ahr River that burst its banks. An incredible amount of rain fell there in the last 24 hours, between four to six inches. This is the most rain the region has seen in over 100 years. And it really happened to quickly that it just swept through homes, pushed cars aside. And even though the floodwaters have receded where our team is in Arviler now, you can still see a lot of the destruction.

Unfortunately, we know a death toll of more than 100 in Germany and authorities have told us that is likely to rise. That includes at least nine people who were killed at a disabled care facility. They were sleeping when the flooding occurred. It happened so quickly that the caretakers were not able to evacuate them in time.

There are still a lot of area that are still stranded with roads cut off, some of them only accessible by air. A lot of the phone lines are down so a lot of people have been reported missing. The hope is that it is just about getting in touch with them and getting the communication back up but authorities have told us this is a very dynamic and fluid situation and emergency workers are still under way, so there is still a lot that could happen yet.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. And you can only imagine that the pictures are going to be coming out that are going to be worse than what we're seeing now as you head in there. Thank you so much, Atika.

Coming up for us, a new film offers a haunting and intimate look at the life and tragic death of Anthony Bourdain. I'm going to speak with the director of the film, next.



BOLDUAN: This just into CNN, a decision on full FDA approval for Pfizer's COVID vaccine is now not expected to come until January of next year.

Let's get more from CNN's Elizabeth Cohen who is joining us now with this news. Elizabeth, what does this mean?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Kate, what we're hearing from Pfizer is that the FDA has given them priority review and that they say that the goal date for an answer on whether or not Pfizer will get this full approval is January. But note the use of the word, goal. It is very possible that it could come sooner. In fact, other vaccines in the past that have had priority review, it didn't take that long. Remember that Pfizer applied for full approval back in May.

So, to sort of look big picture here, vaccines and other drugs could be approved the way they're usually approved is for full approval but because of COVID, this was done under emergency use authorization. And what is happened is that that has made some people who have -- who are vaccine hesitant say, it only has emergency use authorization, I wanted to have the full approval, I want them to spend more time looking at Pfizer's application.

So, hopefully, when and if they do get full approval, and it is very much expected that they will, that those people will say, okay, I feel better now, I will roll up my sleeves. Also employers might feel more comfortable requiring that employees get vaccinated if the vaccine has full approval and not just emergency approval. So there will be several benefits if this full approval does come through and, again, it is very much expected that it will. And now we know probably sometime in the next six months or so.

BOLDUAN: Elizabeth Cohen, thanks so much for that reporting.

COHEN: Thanks.

BOLDUAN: Up next for us, the director of the new film on the life and tragic death of Anthony Bourdain joins us.



BOLDUAN: Chef, writer, traveler, friend, husband, father, Anthony Bourdain was a lot of things and larger than life in many respects. He introduced millions of people to places and people and food that they never encounter on their own. And he did it in a way with a voice that was unmistakably Anthony Bourdain.

His passing in the summer of 2018 left a gaping hole for friends and fans across the globe who are still trying to come to terms with his suicide.

And now a new film offers an intimate look into what made Tony so unique. It's called Roadrunner, a film about Anthony Bourdain. Here's a preview.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are inspiring so many people with the show. You have a good karma.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN, TRAVELER/CHEF/WRITER: I can't believe you say that.


BOURDAIN: Good karma?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think so. Well --

BOURDAIN: Doesn't this concern you as a Buddhist, like we're sitting here in Provence? We just had this fantastic meal. We're moving to the 2011 after 2010. Life admitted, for you, has been pretty sweet.


BOURDAIN: Isn't that worrying to you? We're sitting in Provence. It's like a wine label. The next lights cannot possibly be better than this. It's probably going to suck. Enjoy every minute of this now and pray, pray, pray, that this is it. Because if you're right, and there is a next life, we are, my friend, I may come back as a sea cucumber, but you're coming back as a yorkie (ph) , if you're lucky.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BOLDUAN: Joining me now is the award winning director and man behind this film, Roadrunner, Morgan Neville. Thank you. Morgan, we were talking on the break but I just thank you for coming on to talk about this.

This film is about Anthony Bourdain's life.


But right out of the gate, it's him talking about death, his death. And it hits you right in the face. Why open the film that way?

MORGANI NEVILLE, DIRECTOR, ROADRUNNER, A FILM ABOUT ANTHONY BOURDAIN: Because I had to acknowledge it upfront to know that we were eventually going to go there. Because the whole beginning of the film, I want you to feel like you're on this ride with him, and I had all this incredible footage we found and to really tell this story of this unexpected success he had in middle age that totally transformed his life and made him a world famous traveler and T.V. personality and writer.

And I just want to remind people to be patient. We will get around to the end of the story too. But until then, kind of enjoy the kind of energy and excitement and humor that comes in the early part of his story.

BOLDUAN: And it is a ride. I mean, overall, the film is both so dark and so sweet at the very same time. We all know this story ends with his death by suicide, but what was the intention going in? And what surprised you in this process?

NEVILLE: I mean, you're describing Tony, dark and sweet. Those were his flavors. And I think he could be so funny and so cutting and have such a black sense of humor, but at the same time be such a humanist and just seeing him reaching out and touching other countries and breaking bread with people, which was something he was good at doing.

But for me, he was a hero because he was somebody who was showing the world to the rest of the world. I mean, he was doing really kind of the best work one could do in television, which is trying to humanize people and that felt like I needed to tell that story.

BOLDUAN: And have authentic connection.

And you did an interview with The New Yorker, Morgan, about the film where you shared that there were a few lines in the film that you used A.I., to have Bourdain reading his own words, his own writing. And that's gotten some people talking. Talk me through this choice. Why do it, and what do you say to any controversy that it's created?

NEVILLE: Sure. Well, part of the experience of watching his television show was his narration and his presence. And I knew I wanted that from the beginning in the film. And so I went through everything he said in podcasts and interviews and books on tape and was able to stitch together almost everything. But there were a few sentences that he wrote that I wanted him to say, and rather than getting an actor to do it or another technique other documentaries use, I tried this new A.I. technique. And, again, this was less than 45 seconds with the material just a few sentences that he wrote. And I think it was a way of just keeping his presence going all the way through the film.

BOLDUAN: And they're pivotal sentences. I mean, that is a -- it's a crushing moment in the film when that happens.

The ending of the film, Morgan, is so powerful. I'm not -- I will not give it away for folks because I really do want you to watch it. But did you struggle with how to wrap it up? I mean, like the final images, the final music, that final impression that you're left of Tony?

NEVILLE: Absolutely, but that's part of the journey of making a film. You don't know exactly how it's going to go. And the ending, when you see it, just presented itself almost as you see it in the film, in having conversation in one of the interviews.

BOLDUAN: Which I love it that way. You really feel it. You feel it happening with you. Yes.

NEVILLE: And that's exactly how it happened. It was an idea that came up and then we just went with it. And that's the kind of thing that Tony did all the time, just being in the moment, being real, pivoting with whatever is actually happening rather than what you were -- what your plan was going in.

BOLDUAN: And so those who love Tony and who Tony loved, it's clear they're at a loss and confused and struggling to understand why. This is the thing about suicide for so many. Did you find that this entire project ended up being, I don't know, as much about or just as much about the survivors as it did about telling Tony's story?

NEVILLE: That was something I didn't expect going in, but the experience of getting to know these people and really liking them and seeing the grief they were going through made me feel like I really had to address that. I had to feel the kind of -- the crater of grief he left behind when he died because that's something I confronted in making the film and just to honor those people.

So, you know, I just wanted to repay the vulnerability and trust they gave me in telling the stories. So it definitely evolved that way in making it.

BOLDUAN: The crater of grief, I mean, it was the fastest film -- I could not believe how fast it went when I watched it. It is such a ride and such journey, and one that I was thankful to be on. I can't tell you, Morgan. thank you very much for doing this.

NEVILLE: Thanks so much, Kate.

BOLDUAN: It's a real tribute, and it could have a real impact, I think, for everyone who struggles with depression or struggles when it comes to suicide of others. It's so important. Thank you for doing it in your special way. The film is Roadrunner. You will want to see it. I promise you, you will be impacted. Morgan Neville, thank you so much.


And an important note to leave on. If you or a loved one is struggling with depression or thoughts of suicide, if you need to speak with someone, the National Suicide Prevention lifeline is here to help 24 hours a day. You see the number on your screen, please use it. Thank you so much for joining us at this hour. John King picks up right now.