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F.B.I. Releases First Declassified Document After Biden Order; Schools Across The Country Struggling To Manage Students Safe Return To The Classroom; Six Disciplinary Cases Filed against U.S. Capitol Police Officers. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired September 12, 2021 - 15:00   ET


RICHARD JENKINS, CEO, SAILDRONE: So, we're hoping that we can see with the camera what the water looks like.

RACHEL CRANE, CNN BUSINESS INNOVATIONS AND SPACE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The drones' sensors and cameras can send data and images in real time back to sail drones headquarters.

CHRIS MEINIG, DIRECTOR OF ENGINEERING DEVELOPMENT DIVISION, NOAA/PME: These are measurements of wind temperature, humidity, right at that interface level that may help the modelers understand the fundamentals of hurricanes better. That's never been done before.

CRANE: And more accurate models could allow emergency planners to give better direction to residents back on land.

JENKINS: We're hoping to get really precise measurements, which really drives our intelligence to predict the future strength of hurricanes and then enable people to make preparations or move out of the way with ample time.

CRANE (voice over): Rachel Crane, CNN.


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

A newly declassified F.B.I. document is shedding new light on the investigation into the 9/11 terror attacks and suspected Saudi government support for at least two of the hijackers. The release came on the 20th Anniversary of the attacks and just a week after President Biden issued an Executive Order to declassify the reports following pressure from family members of 9/11 victims.

For more now, let's go to CNN senior national security correspondent, Alex Marquardt.

So Alex, good to see you again. There are a lot of redactions in these documents, but what does it reveal?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Fred. And in fact, those 9/11 families had told the President in a letter, essentially don't bother showing up to these memorials yesterday, unless you do this.

Now, this report, this document was released by the F.B.I. on Saturday night following the events on the anniversary of 9/11. It is heavily redacted, as you say, but it does provide further insight into contact that the two of the first hijackers, the first two hijackers, who arrived in the U.S. had with the Saudi government in the form of the Saudi consulate in Los Angeles.

This is primarily -- these 16 pages that are heavily redacted are a summary essentially, of an interview that the F.B.I. had in 2015 with a Saudi national who had applied for U.S. citizenship. He had worked at the Saudi consulate in Los Angeles, and really gets into the contact that he had, significant contact that he had with Saudi individuals who had supported these two Saudi hijackers who arrived in the U.S. in the year 2001.

And one of those individuals that this person who is unnamed in this report really focuses on is Omar al-Bayoumi. He was purportedly a student in Los Angeles, although he is believed to have been a Saudi Intelligence official. And this document that the F.B.I. put out, describes his support for these two hijackers saying, he offered travel assistance, lodging, and financing to these two hijackers. It really does detail more the relationship that Bayoumi had with these two hijackers that we hadn't heard in a way before.

Now, we did hear from the families of 9/11 victims, saying that this does really provide more of a link to the Saudi government. It does not provide, Fredricka, a smoking gun, if you will, between the hijackers and the highest levels of the Saudi government or Royal family, but it does provide a stronger link between those two hijackers and the support that they received from people who were working at the Saudi consulate in Los Angeles -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Alex Marquardt, thank you so much from Washington. Beginning tomorrow, at least seven schools in the Metro Atlanta area will be temporarily moving to remote learning because of COVID outbreaks as schools across the country are struggling to manage students safe return to the classroom, the nation's largest school district, New York City prepares to go back to in-person learning for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

CNNs Polo Sandoval has more on the preparations.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're going to take your temperature,

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It is a return to class about 18 months in the making. For the first time since the pandemic erupted, in-person teaching, New York City's roughly one million public school students are physically returning to the classroom.

KEVIN JACOBS, TEACHER: We'll be as safe as we can be.

SANDOVAL (voice over): Kevin Jacobs, who teaches history and coaches soccer at a high school in Manhattan has been anxiously waiting to welcome back its ninth graders.

JACOB: It's going to be a change from what it's been, but I'm really excited to see students again. Zoom was not a great way to teach, and I think for kids, it wasn't a great way to learn.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How are you feeling?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good, good. Good. Good.

SANDOVAL (voice over): It is Meisha Porter's first year at the helm as the head of New York City's public schools. As Chancellor, she and her department have been working to reassure both parents --

MEISHA PORTER, CHANCELLOR, NEW YORK CITY SCHOOLS: Have a great year and we're here for you.

SANDOVAL (voice over): And staff that schools are as safe as they can be in this pandemic era of teaching. With no student vaccine mandate in place, New York school officials are seeking consent to randomly COVID test unvaccinated students on a bi-weekly basis.


PORTER: We're testing our students, 10 percent of our population, every two weeks. And we are also having all of our faculty be vaccinated. And so you know, I think doing those two things together is going to really continue to like build that level of protection around our students who are not eligible to be vaccinated.

SANDOVAL (voice over): The testing, part of a multilayer approach, New York City public schools are touting their PPE supplies, cleaning procedures, and improved ventilation. At least two HEPA air purifiers in every classroom across the board says Chancellor Porter. And starting this week, hundreds of district sites are offering vaccines to eligible students and staff.

About 74 percent of faculty received at least one shot according to Porter, the remainder have until September 27 to get theirs.

PORTER: I'm the greatest cheerleader to get everyone vaccinated, because it's not only about coming back to work and getting kids to school. That is super important. And it's so important for our community. But this is a moment where we're talking about the public safety of the entire community.

SANDOVAL: As students head back to class, inspectors head onto the streets enforcing New York City's new proof of vaccination requirement for indoor dining, gyms, and entertainment venues. The first such requirement in the country.

Monday will also mark the first day all New York City municipal workers are required to get vaccinated or subject themselves to weekly COVID testing.


SANDOVAL (on camera): And it was just this morning that Dr. Scott Gottlieb, who was the former head of the F.D.A., and also sits on the Pfizer board said that it's very possible that children ages five to 11 could possibly have access to a vaccine by the end of October, Fred, he said that they are in the process of submitting data that would eventually lead to that emergency use authorization. So we're going to have to see if this promising news actually turns out to be true here.

But it certainly is on par with what we've heard from other health officials that some of the younger Americans under the age of 12 would likely have -- would be able to get vaccinated before the end of the year.

WHITFIELD: All right. Oh, everybody's going to be waiting for the official word on that one. Thank you so much, Polo Sandoval. Appreciate that.

All right. Meanwhile, the second largest school district in the country is taking significant action this week, mandating vaccinations for all eligible students over the age of 12. The Los Angeles Unified Public School Board voted unanimously that all eligible students must have their first shot no later than November 21st. Students must be fully vaccinated by December 19th. And students who play sports or participate in other in-person extracurricular activities must be fully vaccinated by the end of October.

And it is important to note that there are exemptions for certain students, students who decline the vaccine can participate in an independent student program. A vaccine mandate for teachers and staff is already in place, along with mask requirements.

Let's talk more about all this. Joining me right now to discuss, Jackie Goldberg, a member of the Los Angeles School Board. So good to see you, Miss Goldberg. So, talk to me, what precipitated this? Can you explain the route to get to this point?


We spent a lot of time trying to keep our students safe. We went back to school, August 16th, and so we have weekly testing of 100 percent of our students. We do a hundred thousand tests a day of our K-12 students every single day. This has led us to catch a lot of cases very early on to keep them safe at home, and to keep other students from getting sick or anyone else.

But we have all these elementary school children who cannot get best vaccinated, and we decided that we had to do everything in our power that we possibly could to keep every child safe.

So, we decided that we were going to mandate vaccination for 12 and older. Why? First of all, that protects them and that is the most important thing we're trying to do, it is to protect our students. Secondly, however, many of them have younger siblings. It begins to

provide additional protection for their younger siblings. And thirdly, we have pockets of areas in Los Angeles County, which our district serves that are high still in not having very good vaccination rates. And so we're using this also as an attempt to bring vaccinations to their parents, although of course, we don't mandate those.

WHITFIELD: Well, then I'm wondering what kind of resistance along the way have you received from parents or even students, particularly the ones who were you know, in the category of vaccines now being required.

GOLDBERG: Actually, we have a student board member and she wholeheartedly endorsed this at the meeting we voted and her vote was cast in favor of this as well.

Our students on the whole believe that they want to be in school, and they believe that if this makes them safer in school on the whole, they want to be there. Now are there students who are resisting? Yes. And if they have a valid medical reason, we will, of course, let them remain at school, but they will be tested frequently.


GOLDBERG: If they don't have any reason except that they just don't want to, we will offer them our independent studies course.

We have not received very many calls or letters from students. We have received some from adults, but even in their letters to me, hundreds of them, they don't identify themselves as parents of our students. They call themselves citizens or neighbors or friends or graduates of our district. I do not believe that there's a sincere, deep seated opposition to this, though, of course, in a district our size, there are people who are not in favor of vaccinations.

WHITFIELD: Right. So you're not necessarily anticipating anyone taking you all to court. No parents, who are --

GOLDBERG: Oh, of course, we get sued by everybody. We get sued by everybody. All big districts do.

WHITFIELD: Okay, but you're not worried about that.

GOLDBERG: But I don't think they'll stand. I'm not worried because we looked at the case law, and the case law is on our side. Schools have been requiring vaccinations for children for over a hundred years. It's why there's no more polio.

See, I'm old. I remember polio when I was in school. I remember us all worried about being near each other, about someone going to a swimming pool. I remember polio. I had people that I was in school with who didn't come back to school from the hospital.

But other people older than me remember measles outbreaks. Remember, diphtheria killed 100,000 Americans in one year. So, we know that vaccinations save lives, and we have always vaccinated at school to save lives. This is not new.

WHITFIELD: So do you feel like other school districts will be watching the Los Angeles Unified District very closely to see what kind of success rate you have in this and whether they will likely follow suit?

GOLDBERG: Yes, I hope so. I hope all of us do this, because you know, we've been open four weeks with 600,000 students and we have not closed a single school, not one, and we haven't even come close to closing a single school. Why? Because we're doing everything we can right now to keep it out of our schools. But the best way to keep it out of your schools is to have everyone in your schools vaccinated.

WHITFIELD: Sure does make a whole lot of sense, Jackie Goldberg.

GOLDBERG: We think so.

WHITFIELD: Yes. Some good commonsense. All right, thank you so much. Appreciate it, and all the best in this school year.

GOLDBERG: Thank you very much, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right. All right, coming up. Some of their actions were called heroic, but now, several Capitol Police officers are facing discipline for what they allegedly did wrong during the insurrection.

Plus, black mothers dying while trying to give life. Lawmakers on a mission to fight what some are calling a sign of systemic racism.



WHITFIELD: All right, several U.S. Capitol Police officers could face disciplinary actions for their actions on the day of the January 6th riot. Suzanne Malveaux is on Capitol Hill for us. Suzanne, what more are you learning about this?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, according to the Capitol Police Department, in a statement they issued this weekend, it is six cases of misconduct -- alleged misconduct.

It started at 38 internal investigations that was whittled down where they were able to identify 26 officers. They say of those 26, twenty of those cases they were found no wrong doing, so it is a very small number of cases here.

They include, Fred, three cases of conduct unbecoming of a U.S. Capitol Police, one failure to comply with directives, one improper remarks, and one improper dissemination of information. None of this conduct is deemed criminal by the Justice Department or needs any further action. That is according to the Capitol Police.

You may recall that it was in February, there were six officers who were suspended with pay, and you might wonder well, what are they talking about here? Well, dozens and dozens of video evidence showed during the January attack. One officer allegedly taking a selfie with some of the rioters, another one who donned and put on a Trump supporter hat. These are the kinds of things that they are looking at here.

Nevertheless, the department wants to stress that there were 1,200 U.S. personnel who were there, many of them beaten, Tasered, and tortured by these rioters. They say in the statement, "The six sustained cases should not diminish their heroic efforts of the United States Capitol Police officers. On January 6th, the bravery and courage exhibited by the vast majority of our employees was inspiring."

And you might recall, Fred, that there were five who died, one who suffered from a stroke and died; four, by suicide after that January 6 attack. A big worry, Fred, is what's coming up on Saturday, September 18th. That is a rally involving sympathizers of those who were the attackers and the rioters who have been charged. They will be back at the Capitol and so tomorrow, we'll see House speaker Nancy Pelosi and her counterparts, Republican and Democratic leadership meeting with the Chief of the Capitol Police to discuss and prepare for Saturday, what might occur, including potentially getting that fencing back up around the Capitol -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Suzanne Malveaux on Capitol Hill. Thanks for that.

All right, coming up next, a fellow Democrat is putting President Biden's negotiation skills to the test. Senator Joe Manchin reveals why he is not voting for the President's massive economic bill.



WHITFIELD: A key Democratic senator says he will not support the price tag for his party's massive economic bill. Today on CNN, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin once again called for a pause on the Democrats massive $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill. He also wants the cost of the bill dramatically reduced.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): He will not have my vote on 3.5, and Chuck knows that and we've talked about this.

We've already put out $5.4 trillion and we've tried to help Americans in every way we possibly can. And a lot of the help that we put out there is still there and it's going to run clear until next year, 2022.

What's the urgency? What's the urgency that we have? It is not the same urgency that we have with the American Rescue Plan.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WHITFIELD: CNN's Arlette Saenz is at the White House for us. So

Arlette, this bill is a major part of President Biden's economic agenda. Can it move forward without Senator Manchin?


ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, Democrats hold the slimmest of majorities in the Senate, which makes these comments from Senator Joe Manchin, that moderate senator a bit troublesome as they need to hold and have all Democrats united on this bill in order for it to move forward.

Now, the West Virginia senator had already called for a pause in this legislation, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer had indicated that they will be plowing ahead with this bill. They are hoping to have the House version written by Wednesday and a vote in the House by next week.

And Senator Bernie Sanders, the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, pushed back on those comments from Senator Joe Manchin today. Take a listen.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): No, it's absolutely not acceptable to me. I don't think it's acceptable for the President, to the American people or to the overwhelming majority of the people in the Democratic Caucus.

Look, we worked with Senator Manchin to pass the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. I believe we're going to all sit down and work together and come up with a $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill.


SAENZ: Now, the President for his part has said that he believes Senator Joe Manchin will be on board with this at the end. So, we will see if there are any further negotiations to try to bring him to the table over the course of the next two weeks.

For the President's part, he is traveling to Denver, Colorado on Tuesday where he will promote more of this economic sweeping agenda that he is trying to get passed up on Capitol Hill, and the White House has really been speaking with this sense of urgency that the time is now for this passage -- for this bill to be passed for the middle class to be impacted by it.

But the White House is also keenly aware that so much of the President's domestic economic agenda hangs on the way things play out over the course of the next few weeks, and there is no room for error really as this bill proceeds up on Capitol Hill.

WHITFIELD: All right, Arlette Saenz on White House grounds there, thank you so much.

All right, let's talk more about this Julian Zelizer as a CNN political analyst and a historian and Professor at Princeton University. Julian, so good to see you.

So Senator Manchin, I mean, he is digging in his heels here. You know, Biden said, however this week that I think we can work something out, talking about, you know, his relations with Manchin. Does it seem to you that the President is demonstrating, you know, that he is now in a place where he is taking a tougher stance, whether it be on Afghanistan, COVID vaccination requirements for employees? You know, is his style going to help his agenda succeed?

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Certain areas, it will. I think with vaccines, it was very important for him to shift to a more proactive position.

But with Senator Manchin, it's unclear. I'm not sure President Biden can lean into Manchin through negotiations and pressure without grassroots pressure in West Virginia and have this all work. And I think the administration is probably more concerned than they're letting on.

WHITFIELD: Okay, on the issue of the vaccines. I mean, you wrote an op-ed for, roughly two months ago, urging the President to impose vaccine mandates. Well, now he finally did. You know, is this soon enough in your view?

ZELIZER: Well, it should have been sooner. And I think we, as a nation, are paying the cost of vaccine resistance as we're still dealing with the delta variant and hospitals overloaded, and schools are still in a somewhat perilous state.

And so, it would have been better months ago, but it's never too late, and I think the administration is now waking up to the fact, there is an unpersuadable portion of the population. And that's what drove this shift in decision, and I don't think Biden really had a choice if he wants to try to normalize the country.

WHITFIELD: And he's been, you know, the message has been conveyed to him that there is still, you know, the fight that remains against his recent decisions. Republican governors, in fact, in several states are threatening to sue Biden because of those mandates. But listen to what Biden said about that this week.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Have at it. Look, I am so disappointed that particularly some Republican governors have been so cavalier with the health of these kids, so cavalier with the health of their communities. This is -- listen, we're playing for real here. This isn't a game.


WHITFIELD: So, what does that posture tell you about his confidence right now?

ZELIZER: Well, I think he is ready for the legal challenges. There's a lot of precedent for requiring vaccines at the state and local level. We've done it for a long time. We've done it in the military and through the Interstate Commerce Clause, I think, the administration is pretty confident that they could withstand the challenge, and politically, they're betting on the fact that there are more Americans who want COVID to end or at least be significantly contained than there are those who oppose the requirement of vaccines to enter and work in certain places.

And given the polls, that's a pretty safe bet right now.


WHITFIELD: All right, we are on the 20th Anniversary this weekend of 9/11.

9/11 happened early in George W. Bush's presidency, and listen to what he said in Shanksville yesterday on the anniversary of that event.


GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And we have seen growing evidence that the dangers to our country can come not only across borders, but from violence that gathers within.

There's little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home. But then there is disdain for pluralism, in their disregard for human life, and their determination to defile national symbols.

They are children of the same foul spirit, and it is our continuing duty to confront them.


WHITFIELD: I mean, he was giving a reality check. I mean, it shouldn't be the case that at its 20-year mark, we should be talking about, you know, the evolution and the strengthening of a democracy. And instead, he was underscoring that, you know, we as a nation have devolved.

ZELIZER: We should be talking about that, and in many ways, we've moved in the wrong direction and white domestic extremism is a major threat. We've seen it play out on January 6, we've seen it play out in many other instances, and it's important to have a Republican, a prominent Republican and the President who was in charge during 9/11 now speak out against one of the biggest threats we face.

The question is, how many other Republicans will join him? How many other Republicans will say, yes, this needs to be a national security priority in 2021? And I don't know the answer to that. He is still a lone voice right now.

WHITFIELD: All right, Julian Zelizer, appreciate you. Thank you so much for being with us this weekend.

ZELIZER: Thanks for having me. WHITFIELD: And this programming note, join Jake Tapper as he asks

some pretty tough questions about America's longest war. What went wrong in Afghanistan -- among them. This new CNN Special Report begins tonight at 9:00 p.m.

All right, still to come, more trouble for people along the Gulf Coast, Tropical Storm Nicholas threatening to bring more rain to Louisiana two weeks after Ida and thousands of people remain in the dark.


WHITFIELD: Another tropical storm threatening to add to Louisiana's misery after Ida. Tropical Storm Nicholas could also bring torrential rain and flooding to Louisiana later on this week. In fact, much of the state is still without power two weeks after Ida ripped through the state. More than 100,000 customers still can't get electricity.

Gordon Dove is the Parish President of Terrebonne, one of the hardest hit areas in the state of Louisiana. He's joining us by phone. So Gordon, we spoke about a week ago and it was pretty miserable. Is it better today?

GORDON DOVE, PARISH PRESIDENT, TERREBONNE, LOUISIANA: Yes, we have about 80 percent of our water restored, you know, running water restored in Terrebonne Parish and we have after today, we should be about 40 percent of our utilities. The Bayou region which is the lower reaching areas of Terrebonne Parish was the hardest hit, that will still be two or three weeks more before you get power down there.

WHITFIELD: So what are people doing? Of those who, you know, still don't have power, they don't have clean water, how are they managing? What can you do to help? What can others do to help?

DOVE: Well, we've got quite a few PODs, you know, point of distribution. And we need some volunteers to the National Guard and to the, you know, that we throughout the Terrebonne Parish that are distributing food, water, baby food, diapers, meals. There is a lot of cooking teams down there, and a lot of, you know, like I said they, the northern region of Terrebonne, from the central through the north, a lot of that, the power has been restored.

And you know, you've got the restaurants opening, some gas stations and convenience stores open and supermarkets open, you know, from the central to north Terrebonne.

The lower Terrebonne, is -- you know, it is still under heavy construction and trying to get the power lines back on.

WHITFIELD: What are your biggest worries about, you know, those who are still doing without -- whether it is power, you know, access to sufficient necessities? How much longer can they handle this?

DOVE: Well, you know, we've been meeting with F.E.M.A. with this temporary housing and we have F.E.M.A. -- basically, we are asking F.E.M.A. if they can step it up and try to get us some, you know, some housing for the people who did lose their homes or their homes are in disrepair and so you know, if F.E.M.A. is listening to this, I sure wish they would try to move as quickly as possible because our biggest hurdle right now is housing, short term, and then of course long term housing for people to rebuild, you know, the houses that were destroyed.


WHITFIELD: Yes, meaning -- I mean, meaning you want to see some trailers come in. I mean, what is the answer to some temporary housing? How do people, when so much of it is uninhabitable right now, in what form should the Federal government or state be bringing in housing availability?

DOVE: Well, I've been in contact with Governor John Bel Edwards who has really been staying on top of everything and you know, and we're looking at two alternatives. One is marine housing because there's a lot of marine vessels and a lot of waterways throughout Terrebonne Parish that we could bring in housing and there are a lot of marine housing available on these marine vessels.

Another one is of course, portable buildings and affordable residential homes, and of course they always had the trailers also. So you know, we are asking F.E.M.A., whichever one they could pull the trigger the fastest and can give the people someplace to stay.

There are no hotels available in Terrebonne Parish, and I mean, we would put them in hotels if we could find some, but the hotels are just, they are all take -- all our hotel rooms.

WHITFIELD: Oh, my goodness. All right, well, the sooner the better. That message loud and clear.

Gordon Dove, President of Terrebonne Parish, thank you so much for your time. And we are hoping the best with, you know, in the most -- in the quickest way for everyone there.

DOVE: Thank you very much. Thank you all for keeping the public in touch.

WHITFIELD: We haven't forgotten about you. Thank you so much.

All right, straight ahead, a new C.D.C. study finds black women are three times more likely to die during childbirth. We'll take a closer look why.



WHITFIELD: A new C.D.C. study is raising big concerns about mortality rates of new mothers. In the U.S., black women are three times more likely than white women to die during childbirth.

CNN correspondent Adrienne Broaddus went to Minneapolis to talk to new mothers about their experiences and what needs to change. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): On a playground with their children, Minnesota mothers marvel.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Were you liking it?

BROADDUS (voice over): Because these moments almost never happen.

NISAA BORER NELSON, MOTHER: I honestly felt like I was going to die. I did.

BROADDUS (voice over): Nisaa Borer Nelson was six months pregnant when she was diagnosed with COVID-19. She said the hospital staff denied her oxygen as she watched her unborn daughter's heart rate climb.

NELSON: My baby's heart rate is up. My heart rate is up. Blood pressure, everything is up and you're telling me I don't need oxygen, I can't breathe.

BROADDUS (voice over): Bore Nelson survived and delivered Joy in June. But the 34-year-old feared she would become another statistic.

Since 2003, the rate of pregnancy related mortality in the U.S. has steadily risen, and black women are three times more likely to die from pregnancy complications than white women according to the C.D.C.

DR. WANDA BARFIELD, DIRECTOR, C.D.C. DIVISION OF REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH: Each year, about 700 women die due to a pregnancy related complication.

DR. LISA SAUL, PRESIDENT, MOTHER BABY CENTER, ALLINA HEALTH AND CHILDREN'S MINNESOTA: I think what people want to try to do is pin this on a socioeconomic issue and the issue of black maternal mortality is not a socioeconomic issue. It is an issue of culture and race in our society.

BROADDUS (voice over): Dr. Lisa Saul is the President of the Mother Baby Center at Allina Health and Children's Minnesota. She says solving the problem requires examining structural racism in the healthcare system and C.D.C. research backs that claim.

SAUL: In some instances, the reasons why we're seeing disparities in black versus white women in pregnancy related deaths is due to discrimination, racism, bias, issues of quality of care.

BROADDUS (on camera): Do you think you and your unborn children almost died because of racism?

NELSON: Yes, yes, most definitely.

BROADDUS (voice over): First time mothers, Brittany Wright and Adinike Chon both say doctors didn't listen to their concerns.

BRITTANY WRIGHT, MOTHER: Despite me saying something was wrong, my doctors didn't actually believe me and so my body started convulsing and I lost the ability to speak.

ADENIKE CHON, MOTHER: The morning my son was born, he was taken via emergency C-section because his heart rate was nonexistent and I had an abruption and his placenta had detached from the uterine wall, meaning I was bleeding internally.

BROADDUS (voice over): At birth, John said her son was smaller than a can of soda. Thirteen years later, he lives with hydrocephalus, a condition causing fluid to build on the brain.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our nation is facing a maternal health crisis.

BROADDUS (voice over): Several bipartisan bills introduced in Congress this year aim to address implicit bias in maternal health. The MOMNIBUS Package currently before Congress is the most comprehensive and calls for funding for states to collect improved data about maternal health.

NELSON: Let's just be honest, I feel like if I was a white woman, a white young lady in there, I would have been treated differently.

BROADDUS (voice over): Adrienne Broaddus, CNN, Minneapolis.



WHITFIELD: This weekend, some of the most touching tributes came from those who were born after September 11, 2001. They are the young people who lost fathers, mothers, aunts, and uncles in the attack. Here is a look at some of those moving messages.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, we know you through stories told and your legacy, but I will make sure to let that legacy live on and to never forget you. I am proud to hold your first name as my own and I am mostly proud to be able to carry on said legacy for generations to come.

We love you and we miss him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And my uncle, Jayceryll Malabuyoc de Chavez, we love you and we miss you. Thank you for being our guardian angel.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And my hero and my guardian angel, my uncle Lieutenant Jeffrey P. Walz, FDNY Ladder 9, Great Jones Street, although I never got the privilege to meet you, so many people tell me that I remind them of you in so many ways. And I'm so honored to have your name as my middle name. We love and miss you dearly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And my uncle Christopher Noble Ingrassia, even though you died more than eight years before I was born, your memory lives on through me and so many of your family and friends.

Now Grandpa's in heaven with you, too. May you both rest in the peace of His Kingdom and may God bless America.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And my grandfather, Philip T. Hayes, even though I never had the chance to meet you, you will always be my hero. I've heard so many amazing stories about you and I am blessed to have such a great role model as my Grandpa. I miss and love you so much. You are forever in our hearts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And my uncle firefighter, Joseph Patrick Henry from Ladder Company 21, I wish I had the chance to meet you Uncle Joey, I heard you were a great person.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And my grandfather, David Francis Ferrugio, we all miss you. And even you know I did get to meet you, I still love you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And my uncle Robert G. McIlvaine, although I wasn't lucky enough to have met you, your spirit lives on in myself, my brother and sisters, and all those who loved you.

I'm honored to carry your name that I'm living proof that life loves on.




WHITFIELD: Mostly unvaccinated COVID patients are pushing hospitals to the brink and deaths are rising to levels we have not seen in the U.S. since March. Despite those concerning numbers, all 32 NFL teams are playing their first games of the season before packed crowds with no capacity restrictions.

CNN's Nadia Romero joining me now from Atlanta. So Nadia, what's the scene?

NADIA ROMERO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fredricka, football is back, but the pandemic never left. So, fans are going to have to try to juggle that balance between safety and cheering on their favorite team.

So, we're here in Atlanta right outside Mercedes Benz Stadium, and for Falcons fans, it didn't end up the way they wanted to against the Philadelphia Eagles today. But we learned that the Atlanta Falcons were the first team to be fully vaccinated all of its players. But there's no NFL mandate on vaccinations, but there are harsh penalties.

So here's how it breaks down, if there is an outbreak of COVID-19 amongst unvaccinated players, that team will have to forfeit its game and the players just simply won't get paid. But the fans say that they're having to deal with whether or not they should come to the stadium and cheer on their team or if it's safer to stay home. We're back to full capacity at all those stadiums.

When we spoke with an Atlanta Falcons fan who left the game early because of the score and she said that she was apprehensive about it. She said about 90 percent of the people around her were not wearing a mask and there is no mask mandate. As long as you're outside in Mercedes Benz Stadium, you don't have to wear a mask. But when you go inside of a clubhouse or many of those retail shops, you are supposed to wear a mask.

Now, there are three stadiums where you have to have a COVID-19 vaccine or have a test -- that's the Raiders, Seahawks, and the Saints. But other than that, it's up to you to decide -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: Oh, okay, the power in the hands of the fans. All right. Nadia Romero, thank you so much.

All right, a perfect ending to what could have been a scary situation in Miami. Watch this.


WHITFIELD: That was not a stuffed animal. That was the real deal. A cat. Fans at the Miami -- University of Miami Hurricane game, scrambling to catch that falling cat with an American flag at Hard Rock Stadium. It's unclear how the cat got loose in the stadium and how it ended up hanging by a wire off that upper deck. The cat did not appear to be hurt.

The stadium made a donation to the Miami Humane Society and encouraged fans to do the same.

Bottom line that could have been a catastrophe. But it wasn't.

He scratched his way to save the day.

All right, thank you so much for joining me today. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. The CNN NEWSROOM continues with Jim Acosta right now.