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U.S. Braces for Final Days of Chauvin Murder Trial; Chicago Protesters Demand Justice After Police Shooting; All U.S. Adults to Become Eligible for COVID Vaccine; Greece Dropping Quarantine Restrictions for Some Travelers; Navalny on Day 20 of Hunger Strike, Aides Say He's Dying. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired April 19, 2021 - 04:00   ET



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello to our welcome to our viewers joining us in the United States and around the world. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM and I'm Rosemary Church.

Just ahead, Minneapolis, Minnesota on edge ready for the final moments of the murder trial of Derek Chauvin. We are just hours away from the closing arguments.

Today is the deadline for states to make all American adults eligible for the COVID vaccine. The problem not all adults want the shot.

And Russia on a collision course with the U.S. and its allies. Serious concern over the health of imprisoned dissident Alexey Navalny, just one of many thorny issues.

Good to have you with us.

Well in just a matter of hours, closing arguments get underway in one of the most closely watched police brutality trials in decades. And Minneapolis is a city on edge. Its bracing for potentially massive protests after a verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin. He is the former police officer facing second-degree murder and other charges in the death of George Floyd last year, which sparked global demonstrations. National Guard troops are now deployed in Minneapolis. Barriers are up around some government buildings, and other U.S. cities have taken similar measures. Activists and community members gathered Sunday at the place where George Floyd died. Sara Sidner was there, and she has a look at the mood on the ground in Minneapolis.


SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At George Floyd Square, the day before the closing arguments in the trial against the former officer accused of murdering him, this place has turned into a place of solidarity between black folks and Asian folks, Latino folks and white folks. It is also a place to mourn. And I want to give you a look at what this place looks like.

This has been here since the day George Floyd died. Some of the things are new. You see the name of Daunte Wright here. Daunte Wright killed by a police officer who now faces manslaughter charges. George Floyd's image is still everywhere here. Over everything. And people come here to mourn his death. They come here calling for change. They come here like the mother who is speaking now to talk about their children who have been killed. Hers in a jail. Some of the others that sit behind her, their children were killed by police.

And so this is really a place where people come hoping for change, begging for change, demanding change. And right here is where George Floyd took his last breath. And you can see the outline they have made his body outline but given him wings. And you see those candles there, some of those laid by his girlfriend the day before she testified in the Derek Chauvin trial.

This is a place of gathering. And sometimes it's a place that is sways in violence. It is a place that is constantly changing but there's always here -- people are always here tending to the memorial to try to make sure that the memory is never forgotten what happened here outside Cup Foods in Minneapolis.

Sara Sidner, CNN, Minneapolis.


CHURCH: Police say disturbing acts of vandalism appear to be connected to the testimony of a defense witness in Derek Chauvin's murder trial. Barry Brodd's former home in California was smeared with pigs blood on Saturday. Another act of vandalism took place at a nearby mall where this large hand statute was smeared with pig's blood. Brodd testified that Chauvin, a former officer, was justified in pinning Georg Floyd to the ground with his knee for more than nine minutes. Santa Rosa police believe the vandals were targeting Brodd for his testimony.

In Chicago protesters have been demanding justice for 13-year-old Adam Toledo who was shot and killed by police. Last month's shooting was captured on newly released video sparking protests across the city. CNN's Ryan Young reports.



RYAN YOUNG, CNN U.S. CORRESPONDENT: It's been a tough week for the city of Chicago. You can see behind me the spot where 13-year-old Adam Toledo lost his life. That is the memorial back there. All these people have shown up to participate in a protest in his memory. They're calling for justice. They are calling for a change in the streets of the city of Chicago. The mayor made an impassioned speech about the idea that the city has failed Adam, and they want to more curb the violence on streets. We talked to one person who's out here for this, and he said more absolutely has to be done to curb the violence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Although it hit me, it was tough. It's tough. You know, kid was real young and these cops have a big history of treating us brutally. Anybody that is nonwhite, we get treated brutally. And you can feel it in the whole community. You know, it's a tougher community than anything on the north side. And yeah, that's how we grow up and you set yourself for failure right from the beginning.

YOUNG: We talked to a lot of these marchers today, they said they want more action when it comes to how CPD interacts with them on a day-to- day basis. They said they want to see real change and they want to see an open investigation when it comes to how the 13-year-old was handled.

Ryan Young, CNN, Chicago.


CHURCH: And community members in Indiana are mourning eight people killed in a mass shooting at a FedEx facility last week. People gathered Sunday in Beech Grove for a vigil. The city's mayor had a personal connection with one of the victims and was visibly emotional as he spoke to the crowd.


DENNIS BUCKLEY, MAYOR OF BEECH GROVE, INDIANA: She is one of our bright, young citizens who has been called home. I'm never going to question why but she was. Now she is standing on the right hand of God looking down on us. And that is refreshing to me -- (CRYING) -- I'm sorry.


CHURCH: FedEx has now donated $1 million to survivors and families of the shooting victims.

Well the CDC is now reporting half of all adults in the U.S. have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. And a quarter of the population is now fully vaccinated. Nearly 3.5 million doses were administered since Saturday. But despite all that, cases are surging in some parts of the country, including in Michigan. CNN's Polo Sandoval has the latest.


POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Monday is the day when the Biden administration wants states across the nation to open up COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to all adults. But vaccination efforts have slowed. CDC data showing a drop in the number of vaccines administered. The drop was not unexpected due to allocation issues, but now, distribution of J&J's vaccine is on pause due to concerns about blood clots.

The nation's top infectious disease expert is expressing hope the J&J option will soon return albeit with conditions.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I don't want to get ahead of the CDC and the FDA and the advisory committee, but I would imagine that what we will see is that it would come back, and it would come back in some sort of either warning or restriction. Again, I don't know, I don't want to be ahead of them.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): It's getting easier in some parts of the country to secure a vaccine appointment. Walkup options are being offered across the country for most, including in Atlanta's Mercedes Benz stadium, where you don't need an appointment anymore. In Ohio, vaccine supplies outpaced demand in some parts of the state, forcing the closure of several drive-through locations.

There is perhaps no greater need to get people vaccinated than in Michigan, where the test positivity rate is now over 12 percent.

GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): 15 months of this and people are tired and dropping the protocols.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): COVID-19 patients in the Wolverine State are, once again, lining in some hospital hallways, says the state's top health authority. And in Beaumont Health, the Detroit area's largest health care system, frontline health care workers are struggling to keep up with this third surge.

JOHN FOX, CEO, BEAUMONT HEALTH: 13 months is a long time to be dominated by this one disease.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): Dr. Joel Fishbain noticing this time, COVID patients are younger and many of them extremely sick. He said some of them have admitted to having gathered in large groups.

DR. JOEL FISHBAIN, MEDICAL DIRECTOR FOR INFECTION PREVENTION AT BEAUMONT HOSPITAL, GROSSE POINTE: I have not seen my kids in well over a year. I get it. I really do. But if we don't stay diligent and really continue to follow the general simple practices that we started last year, we are going to potentially be doing this over and over again.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): The doctors plea to fellow Michiganders, as some of continue enjoying aspects of pre-pandemic life.

Polo Sandoval, CNN, Detroit.



CHURCH: Joining me now is Anne Rimoin. She is a professor in the department of epidemiology at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. Always good to have you with us.



CHURCH: So Dr. Anthony Fauci predicts the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will likely be made available again by Friday but with restrictions or warnings attached after those very rare blood clots in women. What will those restrictions likely be, do you think?

RIMOIN: Well, it's going to depend upon what the data shows. And so, there is a potential that there could be restrictions, for example, for women on birth control pills or on hormone-replacement therapy. Or it could be a subset of adults that have certain conditions if the data bears out that there are actually conditions that make people more susceptible to these kinds of rare blood clots. Again, these are very, very rare in the general population and only six instances out of almost 7 million doses. So very rare. If the link proves to be true, and so we're still waiting on data.

CHURCH: Yes, they are being very cautious in this instance, as you're saying, incredibly rare. But despite COVID cases surging in some states here in the United States, the good news is that 50 percent of the U.S. adult population has had at least one COVID vaccine dose. 25 percent are now fully vaccinated. But so far polls show still about 25 percent say they don't intend to get vaccinated. One particular Fox anchor is helping spread falsehood about vaccine safety, which, of course, is increasing that sense of hesitancy. How concerned are you about that? And what could be the consequences, if a quarter of the population doesn't get vaccinated in the end?

RIMOIN: Well, Rosemary, you brought up an important point. We are at a really great moment that we've reached 50 percent of all adults getting vaccinated or getting at least one dose, which is really fantastic news. But we've always known that this last mile is going to be the hardest. And we should make it clear, you know, this isn't just about people who are all absolutely dead set against getting the vaccine. There are people who are hesitant. And it's OK to have questions about the vaccine.

As you know, I've been running studies on vaccine hesitancy in health workers and first responders and expanding into other populations. And we know there's always a percentage of people who just are concerned. They have questions. They're waiting for these questions to be answered. And so, I think it's going to be incumbent upon the public health community to do a really good job of listening to the questions that people have and finding a good way to be able to respond to them.


CHURCH (on camera): And that was UCLA's professor of epidemiology Anne Rimoin speaking to me earlier.

Well Greece is dropping quarantine restrictions for some travelers. Starting today visitors from the European Union, the U.S., U.K., Israel, Serbia, and the UAE will no longer be required to self-isolate on arrival, as long as they've been vaccinated or tests negative for COVID-19. And French President Emmanuel Macron says EU countries are working on a special pass to facilitate travel inside the block for U.S. citizens who are vaccinated or can show they've tested negative for the virus.

CNN's Melissa Bell is following travel develops from Paris. And Elinda Labropoulou is in Athens covering Greece's fans. Good to see you both. Melissa let's start with you. How will this special pass of vaccinated Americans and other tourists work exactly?

MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: So the idea the priority for Europeans to be able to get themselves across each other's borders. We'll be seeing over the course of the last few months the restrictions essentially made that difficult. Essentially the European Union tourism industry has been at a standstill. So the idea, first of all in the priority for Europeans is to be able to get themselves across each other's borders. And what we've seen over the course of the last few months are all these restrictions have essentially made that really difficult. Essentially the European tourism industry have been at a standstill. After that small reprieve we saw last summer, Rosemary.

So the priority is to create a European digital passport that will allow people to show that they've either been vaccinated or are immune because they've recently had COVID-19 and, therefore, to able to avoid the kind of quarantines that have really made things difficult these last few months.

France also now looking beyond May 15th to start reopening terraces and museums, all of those things have been shut here, Rosemary, since the month of October. The idea is that even as Europe starts to get its vaccination programs a little bit more up and running, trying to improve the pace of those that at least the free movement of people will begin to increase amid that. So much needed help for Europe's battered economy -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: A step in the right direction. Isn't it? Thanks for that. And Elinda, Greece plans to lift quarantine rules for vaccinated tourists. How will this system work? And what level of proof will be required from those various countries?

ELINDA LABROPOULOU, JOURNALIST: Well Greece has just opened to over 30 countries including the EU, the USA, U.K., Israel, Serbia, and the UAE. So as of today no quarantine will be required for those arriving in Greece. Instead a vaccination proof or CPR test 72 hours prior to arrival is required, and there will be targeted testing as entry points.


Now the Greek tourism ministry has been very careful about describing this as baby steps to an official opening in four weeks from now May 14th. It has given an official date. But it says this is the way to test the system.

For those coming into Greece before then it's the same rules as for locals will apply. So there are some restrictions concerning mobility and Greece also hopes that this EU green pass that we've just heard about will be ready as soon as possible. Officials here have been putting this possibly as a date of being sometime in June.

Greece has been a very strong supporter of the pass. It's a country heavily dependent on tourist. About 20 of its GDP, 25 percent of jobs, and you know, during this time, this whole week, I've been traveling from the very north to the very south discussing tourism with people. It seems to be on everyone's minds simply because so much, so much of its economy is so dependent on it.

Small islands have already been vaccinating their population. Now Greece is moving its vaccinations to bigger areas, as well. And industry experts say there is a slow start. They see travel resuming in July. They see a lot of last-minute bookings. They're hoping that slowly, slowly, you know, bookings will pick up, the official opening will take place, and then Greece will be open to all.

CHURCH: All very welcome and encouraging news. Melissa Bell in Paris, Elinda Labropoulou in Athens. Many thanks to you both.

And coming up here on CNN NEWSROOM. European leaders first the Russian government to help Alexey Navalny now. His supporters say his life is on the line. We'll have more on that in just a moment.



CHURCH: The Russian government is under pressure from world leaders to keep jail opposition leader Alexey Navalny alive. The outspoken Kremlin critic is on day 20 of a hunger strike. And his allies say he's very close to death. The U.S. promises there will be consequences if he dies in prison. Navalny's supporters in Russia say there's no time to wait. They are planning a massive nationwide rallies for Wednesday.

And Sam Kiley joins us now with more from Moscow. Good to see you, Sam. So the U.S. has warned Russia of consequences should Navalny die in custody. What's the latest on this in the Navalny's current condition do you know?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rosemary, this morning came to Dana Bush on CNN from Jake Sullivan, the national security advisor to the Biden administration, who would not be drilled on what the consequences would be. These are consequences, obviously, applied by the United States, but that warnings had been directly conveyed between the White House and the Kremlin that should Alexey Navalny pass away as a result of his hunger strike and, indeed, the attacks on his health following the nerve gas attack or nerve agent attack on him back in August of last year, there would be consequences for Russia or certainly for the Putin regime.

There have been similar voices of concern of come from the United Kingdom, from France, and the EU more widely. Because there is a great deal of international concern generated by, Rosemary, information coming from Navalny's camp. And we only have Navalny's camp word on this. But they are citing independent analysis by professional medics, doctors who are saying, that among other things, his potassium blood levels -- or potassium are very high and that there is concern that he may suffer renal failure or some kind of heart disease as a consequence of the hunger strike that is now in the 20th day.

Although, of course, we have to keep reminding ourselves, this is a man whose health has already been undermined by that Novichok poisoning back in the summer. He is anticipating that you will get a visit from his lawyers later today. They don't know whether or not lawyers will be admitted to the prison where he's being held, about two hours outside of Moscow.

In the past, they've frequently been allowed access, but they have not been allowed access for him to independent medical treatment. Really that is at the center of his hunger strike. More broadly, though, his supporters are bringing forward their plans for national demonstrations to Wednesday and this is over concerns that he is now in such frail condition that his health may not hold out long enough -- it may not have held out long enough for them to reach what has been the peak or tipping point of half a million signatures in an online petition before they triggered demonstrations.

These demonstrations have now been brought forward to Wednesday. Which coincidently or not coincidently, here maybe deliberately is also the day that Vladimir Putin's due to address his Parliamentarians in the sort of annual kind of face the nation session that he has. So a lot of coinciding issues coming ahead here domestically and internationally over Navalny. But of course, there are a lot of other issues that Russia is facing more widely on the international stage -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: Yes, and Sam, what more are you learning about the Czech Republic expelling 18 Russian embassy staff and the likely consequences of that?

KILEY: Well Russia has announced the consequence of that in the bilateral sense, which is that they have given 20 Czech diplomats 24 hours to leave the country as of last night. So that is a tit for tat expulsion. Unusually in some senses the Czech expulsion of these 18 diplomats comes with the added piece of information that in the view of the Czech authorities, every one of these 18 were members of one of two Russia intelligence organizations.


One of the organizations that has been blamed by the United States among others for mass cyber-attacks around the world. And on top of that the GIU, a military, an overseas military organization with a sort of paramilitary role. But among others, the British have blamed for the Novichok attack on Sergei Skripal in 2018. But this comes as the Poles have expelled three Russian diplomats. The United States expelled ten.

The Russians are seeing this as something of a sort of result of American pressure in the new dispensation under the Biden administration. But there is a glimmer of hope being offered by the Biden administration in the form of an offer of bilateral meeting between the two leaders somewhere in Europe, perhaps sometime in the summer.

CHURCH: All right, Sam Kiley joining us live from Moscow. Many thanks.

Well what was once a lifeline for dozens of kids is now gone. Why a church in Texas is worried for these unaccompanied migrant children. We'll take a look there. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHURCH: Police say the man who carried out a mass shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis last week used two assault rifles in the attack, both of which were purchased legally. That is despite being investigated by the FBI months earlier due to his potential for violence.

Mass shootings in the U.S. are becoming all too common an occurrence. In the past month, 50 mass shootings have taken place across the country, and that number rises to 150 since the beginning of 2021. CNN considers an incident to be a mass shooting if four or more people are shot, wounded, or killed excluding the gunman.