Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

Ukrainian Officials Announce All Women, Children, And Elderly Civilians Evacuated From Steel Plant In City Of Mariupol, Ukraine; Controversy Arises Over Reporting On Nature Of U.S. Intelligence Provided To Ukrainian Forces; American Basketball Star Brittney Griner Continues To Be Detained In Russia On Drug Charges; Biden Administration Issues Warning That U.S. Could Potentially See 100 Million Covid Infections In Fall And Winter; Three American Tourists Die At Sandals Resort In Bahamas; Abortion Rights Activists Advocate For Mail-Order Abortion Pills As Supreme Court Appears Poised To Overturn Roe Versus Wade Decision; Mortgage Rates And Home Prices Increased Significantly Since Previous Year; Preparations Underway For British Queen Elizabeth's Platinum Jubilee. Aired 2-3p ET.

Aired May 07, 2022 - 14:00   ET




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

We begin with this breaking news out of Ukraine. Ukrainian officials now saying all women, children, and elderly civilians who had been trapped at that steel plant in Mariupol have now been evacuated. And this comes after they endured weeks of relentless bombardment by Russian forces. CNN's Scott McLean has more from Lviv. So Scott, bring us more on who we believe has been evacuated and who might still be left.

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Fredricka. Fingers crossed, there is no one left, at least no civilians left. So as you mentioned, this news is coming from the Ukrainian deputy prime minister who has been leading the negotiations and the efforts to try to broker some kind of an arrangement along with the Red Cross and the U.N. to get these people out from under the steel plant.

So as you mentioned, she said that all women, children, and elderly people have gotten out. The order of the president has been done, and that means that this part of the evacuation effort is complete. We have also gotten word from one of the soldiers inside the plant as well that that evacuation effort went off essentially without a hitch. What we still don't know is, as you said, whether there's any other civilian men left behind, that is one possibility. We also don't know exactly how many civilians are still left there. The last estimate was there was around 100 civilians still left.

There was an earlier update from the local government, the Donetsk People's Republic, the breakaway separatist government in that area, who claimed that 152 people had left Mariupol, but it didn't say whether those were the people from the plant or from the broader city.

The question now is where are these people going to go. It is likely that they will end up at a Russian checkpoint, a Russian filtration point to the east of the city, and from there they will be given the option either to go into Russia or they'll go back toward Ukraine, to Zaporizhzhia.

The difficulty, though, is that on Sunday when we had the first successful evacuation of civilians from that plant, well, it took them two days to get to Zaporizhzhia. And so it is possible that journey may take a lot longer than it looks like on a map.

The other issue, Fredricka, is, of course, the people left behind, and they are all, or almost all, we think, soldiers or fighters from the Ukrainian military, many of whom are injured. It is possible that there are several hundred soldiers there, possibly several hundred soldiers just amongst the injured. They have said previously that they would very much like some kind of an agreement to get out alive, some kind of a politically brokered agreement. And the president of Ukraine says that he is working on that right now, some kind of a diplomatic option. But we don't have any word whether or not that's been successful.

They say that they will not leave without a weapon in their hand, otherwise they will fight to the death. And that looks like some of them may have to do that. The Ukrainian military's last word was that the plant had been blockade blockaded, no one in, no one out, and that the Russians have continued since those civilians left, shelling it with artillery fire and with tank fire as well, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: And then Scott, we're hearing reports of fighting near Snake Island off the Ukrainian coast. What are you learning?

MCLEAN: Yes, so this has just come in a couple of minutes ago. So Snake Island is on the very far south part of Ukraine. It was famous early in the war for soldiers who had been stationed there being told to surrender by a Russian warship then telling them over the radio where exactly they could go. It was even immortalized in a stamp. Ukrainians that those soldiers had been killed. It turns out that they had actually just been held captive by the Russians and many were returned in a prisoner exchange.

So we've now just got word, this is from the Russian Defense Ministry, the Ukrainians are also confirming that some heavy fighting took place at Snake Island. The Russians say that two planes, three helicopters were shot down. The Ukrainians say that -- it's not acknowledging those same losses, but it's saying it released drone footage showing its forces destroying a Russian landing tank on Snake Island and that two antiaircraft missile systems were also hit.


So this war seems to be shifting all the time with the air strikes away from the front lines. Snake Island also now seeing some fighting, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right, Scott McLean, thank you so much.

Let's talk more about all of this. Shawn Turner is a CNN national security analyst and a former director of communications for the U.S. national intelligence. He's also a professor at Michigan State University and a retired Marine Corps officer. So good to see you. So what concerns do you have about what's taking place with the evacuations at this steel plant, and that potentially Ukrainian soldiers, many of whom are injured, are likely still in there?

SHAWN TURNER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, thanks for having me, Fred. It's good to see you. So as I look at the developments in and around Mariupol, I think that we have to take a step back and ask ourselves, we've had so many efforts to evacuate civilians, why is it that this one is working or appears to be working today?

And I can tell you just based on everything that I've seen in talking to my former colleagues in the national security space, this is all leading up to what we've been talking about with regard to May 9th and the announcement that Putin wants to make on May 9th with regard to the war in Ukraine. I think we can almost sense his desperation to take Mariupol at this point. And so I think that's part of the reason why we've seen those civilians be able to get out.

I'll tell you, Fred, that I have grave concerns about the hundreds of Ukrainian service members who are still in the Azovstal plant, steel plant there in Mariupol, because this is all leading up to Putin putting himself in a position in two days where he can stand up and he can say that a part of what is today Ukraine is now part of Russia. And I think that's something that we've all got to be mindful of and all have got to think about and what that means for those troops that are still there.

So I'm really concerned about them. I think that this is Putin's sort of last push, his big stance to really change the game with regard to taking territory here.

WHITFIELD: Especially after seeing some of that drone footage of what it looked like with Ukrainian soldiers being rounded up, some put on the ground, seemingly hands behind their back. And there were a lot of inferences that seemed really troublesome.

Let's also talk about U.S. intel and how it's making an impact assisting in any way in Ukraine defending itself, because earlier this week, CNN reported that the Pentagon provided intel that helped Ukraine sink that Russian flagship, the Moskva, in the Black Sea. In fact, here is what Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said about that.


JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: The intelligence that we provide to Ukraine is legal, it's lawful, it's legitimate, and it's limited. And we're very careful about what we share and when we share it. But my goodness, Brianna, a few weeks ago the criticism that we were getting was, well, you're not giving them enough intelligence, it's too slow, it's not relevant enough.


WHITFIELD: And even after that, former defense secretary William Cohen said he's glad to hear that U.S. intel might be assisting in any way. What do you think?

TURNER: Look, I think from the beginning, Fred, we've done a good job providing intelligence to the Ukrainians. And I think that what's missing here is that people need to understand that not all intelligence is the same, not all intelligence is equal. When John said that the intelligence we've been providing is limited, I know what he was referring to there. There's been some discussion of United States providing targeting intelligence or targeting information to the Ukrainians.

And I think we may just be talking about semantics here. When we talk about targeting information, that's a very specific type of intelligence. It involves an analysis of vulnerabilities of military targets, an entire process that's designed to take threats to your troops off the battlefield. And I think that the concern on the part of the Department of Defense and other intelligence officials is that there is a line that you can cross, that we could potentially cross with regard to the nature of intelligence that we provide to the Ukrainians.

We are not members -- we are not active participants in this war. And as a result, what we're trying to do is provide Ukrainians with intelligence that could help them as they protect their civilians and as they conduct this war. And I think that if we talk about -- we're getting into talking about targeting information and identifying specific sort of latitude and longitude and ammunitions, then that's an escalation that we should all be concerned about.

WHITFIELD: So can you help people better understand what you mean when you say, and we heard Kirby say it, we've heard the White House say it, the Pentagon say that the U.S. is not an active participant in this conflict. Yet lots of money goes toward the arsenal, U.S. arsenal, that is being provided to Ukraine in addition to the different types of intel that you just spelled out that are being provided.


Doesn't that constitute a U.S. involvement in the, invasion, in the conflict that is a consequence of the Russian invasion?

TURNER: Yes, Fred, there's no doubt that the United States has taken a position with our partners and allies that there is a vested interest in protecting the principles of democracy and sending a clear message from the international community that we do not violate the borders of sovereign nations. And so the way to do that is to recognize when that's happening, and to rally the international community to provide support, in this case weapons and intelligence and other means, to send a clear message to rogue nations. And I think we can all agree that Russia falls into that category now, but to send that message clearly that the international community is not going to tolerate this. And so we can do that short of being active participants in what's

happening on the ground. And I think that's where we are as a nation. But at every turn, and I think that this is what we see, at every turn we have to take a look at whether what we're doing is escalating and is crossing that line and bringing us into a state where Russians can legitimately say that we are sort of proxies in this war. And I don't think we're there yet, but I think it's fair for us to continue to ask tough questions and to assess whether or not we are crossing that line.

WHITFIELD: Shawn Turner, good to see you, thank you so much.

TURNER: Thanks, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Questions persist. What is happening to American Brittney Griner, still detained in Russia? The WNBA season, in fact, tipping off last night without one of the league's biggest stars, Brittney Griner. Tributes to the Phoenix Mercury's all-star center showing up on the court and in the stands. The WNBA honoring Griner by displaying her initials and jersey number 42 along the sidelines at all 12 home courts this season.

Griner was arrested in Russia back in February, accused of smuggling significant amounts of a narcotic substance. The U.S. now says she is being wrongfully detained. CNN's Brian Todd has more on where this case stands.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Basketball star Brittney Griner's case facing a new sense of urgency from the U.S. government. The State Department now classifying Griner as being wrongfully detained. It means the U.S. now won't wait for Griner's case to move through Russia's legal system.

How aggressive will the U.S. government now be in this case?

THOMAS FIRESTONE, FORMER RESIDENT LEGAL ADVISER, U.S. EMBASSY IN MOSCOW: They'll certainly be more aggressive. I assume this will mean intensified diplomatic negotiations with the Russians and probably more specific discussions about who might be released from a U.S. prison in order to secure her release.

TODD: Biden administration officials say Griner's case will now be handled by the president's special envoy for hostage affairs, Roger Carstens.

NED PRICE, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: He will go anywhere, he will talk to anyone, if it means we'll be able to come home with an American.

TODD: The Biden team's shift in strategy on this case comes just days after American Trevor Reed was released from Russian custody.

FIRESTONE: I think it certainly raised expectations that they would do more to get her out. They succeeded in getting Trevor Reed out. That means it's possible.

TODD: Vladimir Putin's regime has detained Griner since mid-February when Russian officials claimed they found cannabis oil in her luggage after she landed at a Moscow airport. She's been charged with smuggling narcotics, punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Christine Brennan reports in USA Today the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee is lending its support to try to get Griner, a two-time Olympic Gold medalist, released.

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, SPORTS COLUMNIST, USA TODAY: It's adding another layer to know of the support that is there. But is it having an impact right now to get Brittney Griner home? I think the answer would be no.

TODD: In late March, former WNBA star Lisa Leslie said she was told not to make a, quote, big fuss publicly over Griner's case. Leslie didn't say who told her that. Does the new classification for Griner's case change that approach?

BRENNAN: My sense is we will see people speaking out more. We will see WNBA players speaking out more. We will see her friends and her colleagues speaking out more.

TODD: Griner's agent has just issued a statement saying it's their expectation that the White House will do whatever is necessary to bring her home.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


WHITFIELD: Coming up, the White House warning the U.S. could see 100 million COVID-19 infections this fall and winter. We'll discuss with an emergency room physician, next.



WHITFIELD: The CDC is now investigating a COVID outbreak on a Carnival cruise ship. The Carnival Spirit returned Tuesday from a two- week voyage through the Panama Canal with orange status. The agency guidelines designate the orange threshold when 0.3 percent or more people on board test positive, including crew members. Both Carnival and the CDC say there were no serious health issues among those who tested positive and that most guests were asymptomatic. The ship is one of 62 cruises currently sailing at orange status.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration is issuing a new warning that the U.S. could potentially see 100 million COVID infections this fall and winter. The White House is sharing these estimates as officials renew their push to get Congress to approve additional funding to combat the virus, and as the nation approaches a coronavirus death toll of 1 million.

Dr. Anand Swaminathan is an emergency room physician. Good to see you. Oh, my goodness, we're not even in the enjoyment of summer yet and already we need to brace for another potential surge. What do we need to know about this, how do we protect ourselves?


DR. ANAND SWAMINATHAN, EMERGENCY MEDICINE PHYSICIAN: When we think about the number that we're talking about, 100 million infections in the fall and the winter, it's an incredibly large number. And even with a very small overall mortality rate, it's going to be a lot of people who are going to be suffering from this.

And I think what we need to really be focused on once again is making sure that as many people as can get vaccinated, that people have access to vaccines, to tests, to treatments. And we really do have to refocus on funding. The fact that we are having trouble passing a funding bill during a pandemic is absolutely incredible. The toll of 100 million cases is only going to be that much larger if we don't have the proper funds to actually fight that pandemic when it starts to hit us.

WHITFIELD: And when we talk about the funding to help fight the pandemic, we're talking about, again, access to vaccines?

SWAMINATHAN: Absolutely. That $22.5 billion that is being requested for pandemic, that's the money that we need to pay for vaccines, to pay for treatments like Paxlovid, to pay for us restocking the tests that we're going to need come fall and winter. It also is going to be for the second generation vaccines that are already being developed. And Fred, what we're talking about is that if we don't have the money to pay for those second generation vaccines, we're not going to have access to them. They're going to go elsewhere. They're going to be sold to other places instead of us having access to the best vaccines, the best treatments that we have available.

And it's going to bring up massive issues of equity, because I think what those in Congress who are opposed to this bill are arguing is that the private insurances will pick up all of this money, they'll pick up all of this expenditure. We can't rely on private insurance to pick up that expenditure. And there are still tens of millions of people in this country who don't have private insurance. That's a huge equity issue that tells us those people aren't going to have access. What we're going to see without that funding is we're going to see people without vaccines, without treatments. We're also going to see hospital systems that are going to start to crumble as they're not able to access those funds to continue to support them.

WHITFIELD: So the FDA announced Thursday that it is limiting the emergency use authorization of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to people 18 and older for whom other vaccines are not appropriate or accessible because of the risk of a rare and dangerous clotting condition. Does this hurt the overall messaging on vaccines?

SWAMINATHAN: Overall, the J&J vaccine has been a very small part of our vaccine push in this country because we have access, we have the privilege of having access to the other vaccines that are more effective. I think it's important for the public to see that the FDA continues to review this data and to keep the safety of the public in mind. This is a very rare side effect. I think those who have the J&J vaccine shouldn't be too worried about this except to say, well, if you need to get a booster and you haven't gotten your booster yet, go ahead and get a booster with one of the MRNA vaccines instead of getting another J&J. We think that that is probably better for overall protection anyway. But I think this really does, or should send the message to the American public that the FDA is continuing to protect the public with the best available evidence that we have.

WHITFIELD: We also saw new polling this week from the Kaiser Family Foundation about parents of young children and if they will get their children vaccinated. When it is released, only 18 percent said they would. Is that unsettling or surprising to you?

SWAMINATHAN: It's very unsettling, although not surprising. And that number may change as we get close to actually getting an EUA for the under five group. But this is a really important thing that we need to pay attention to and start that messaging now. We expect that an EUA will be available early in June. And we want to get that group vaccinated before the fall comes because of that surge that we expect to see in the fall and the winter. So we really need to start talking to parents now. Pediatricians need to be on top of this, when people are coming in for their well visits, talking to them about the fact that once this is available, they do recommend, if it's approved by the FDA for EUA, that kids under five get this.

This is a really critically important thing to protect our children from severe disease, from hospitalization, but also to stop transmission, to stop spread, to stop massive outbreaks within schools, which is going to result in us having more school closures come fall and winter. So this is a really important thing for us to be on top off.

WHITFIELD: So I also have to ask you, just shifting gears a little bit, about the CDC announcement yesterday that it is also investigating 109 cases of severe and unexplained hepatitis in children, in 25 states and territories, that may be linked to a worldwide outbreak. And among them, 14 percent needed transplants of those who testified positive, and then five children actually died. What do you think is at the root of this?

SWAMINATHAN: I wish I had an answer for that, Fred.


We are actively investigating a lot of different scenarios that could be causing this. Whether it is linked to a virus, a non-COVID virus, whether it is linked to COVID itself, whether it's linked to some kind of an herbal supplement, whether it is an environmental exposure, we are investigating all of these different areas to try and figure this out. It's such a small number of cases that it makes it difficult sometimes to actually figure out what's going on.

But this is where we need to really understand why we need further funding of organizations like the CDC, further public health funding, to figure out what is the causative agent for this hepatitis, and then, of course, how do we actually fight it, how do we stop kids from getting this. We have so little information still, but we are actively investigating, when I say "we," the scientific community around the globe is investigating what's causing this, and how can we stop it.

WHITFIELD: Dr. Anand Swaminathan, always good to see you, thank you so much.

Still ahead, police in the Bahamas are investigating the death of three American tourists. We'll have details, straight ahead.



WHITFIELD: Welcome back. Three American tourists are dead at a Sandals Resort in the Bahamas. The only thing officials are saying is that there was a health emergency at the Sandals Emerald Bay Resort in Exuma. They are not saying how the Americans died. CNN's Polo Sandoval is live for us in New York with the very latest. Polo?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fred, at least we have an answer to one of those key questions that we usually have in these cases, which is was there any foul play. And at this point, authorities there in the Bahamas say that there was not. A lot of the information that we're getting right now is from Sandals Resort as that company releases a statement about what actually. They confirmed that three of their guests died while at their Emerald Bay Resort in Exuma. This happened yesterday.

The company releasing a detailed statement, and in it they wrote a health emergency was initially reported, and following their protocols they immediately alerted emergency medical professionals and relevant local authorities. Sandals goes on to write they are currently actively supporting both the investigation as well as the families of these U.S. citizens, and also because of privacy reasons they cannot release a whole lot more information.

There is a little more information that's being released by authorities there on the ground in terms of the acting prime minister confirming that the dead include two men and a woman, that there was a fourth person, a woman that was actually hospitalized, had to be airlifted from that location where their condition is unknown.

But look, Fred, this is certainly not the first case of U.S. citizens dying in the Bahamas. When you look at the statistics from the State Department you see that a majority of the deaths that have been reported are due to drownings or accidents and other things of that nature. But again, the important thing to mention here is that there's no foul play suspected in the deaths of at least three U.S. citizens while at this particular resort in the Bahamas. And autopsy results will hopefully release, or at least yield more details about what led to the deaths of these three people, Fred.

WHITFIELD: It is very curious. But in one of the statements from the local authorities there, that a common thread was that they felt ill, that there was reported vomiting involved and nausea.

SANDOVAL: Correct. We have seen various reports from local officials that we're actually working to confirm at this hour, and among those reports they do kind of paint a clearer picture of what was found in the villas of these -- two separate villas, one of them containing a couple that was pronounced dead at the scene and a second villa that had that third individual which was a man. So it's certainly going to be important to try and confirm those details, because they will provide those crucial clues about what led to these mysterious deaths.

WHITFIELD: Right, very curious. Polo Sandoval, thank you so much.

SANDOVAL: Thanks, Fred.

WHITFIELD: The death toll continues to climb after a hotel explosion in Havana, Cuba. At least 32 people were killed in a powerful explosion, four of those were children. Dozens more injured. People are believed to still be trapped in the rubble. CNN's Patrick Oppmann has the latest from Havana.

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fred, we're in front of the Hotel Saratoga, or what is left of it. You can see very clearly the kind of force that would have ripped apart this hotel. Authorities say it was a gas leak that caused this explosion. Standing here in front of the hotel, it's really something of a miracle that the hotel is even standing.

The death toll, unfortunately, continues to rise here. Cuban officials say that at least four children have died when the explosion early Friday which ripped through this hotel. They continue, though, to search. You can see rescue workers in front of the hotel meeting right now. They say that they believe, that they hope there may be survivors under the rubble. There was word at one point that there might be a woman trapped in the basement of the hotel, that she had called relatives, but they have not at this point been able to reach the basement.

So very clearly here as the death toll continues to rise, it is a case of Cuban rescue workers racing against the clock, trying to find anyone left who could be alive under all this rubble. Fred?

WHITFIELD: Horrible situation. Patrick Oppmann there in Havana, thank you so much.

Coming up, abortion rights activists are turning to mail-order pills. Why they say it is the most effective and discreet way for women to terminate their pregnancies.



WHITFIELD: With the U.S. Supreme Court seemingly poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, analysts say the next frontier in this fight will be the availability of so-called abortion pills by mail. And some states are already pushing back. On Friday the governor of Tennessee signed a bill criminalizing mail-order abortion pills that are sent by anyone besides a qualified physician. As CNN's Tom Foreman reports, suppliers of these medications say they intend to continue sending them to the U.S. no matter what. (BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For those intent on ending abortions in parts of the United States, the biggest barrier may now not be politics but pills, which researchers say are effective, available, and now used for more than half of all abortions.


SUE SWAYZE LIEBEL, STATE POLICE DIRECTOR, SUSAN B. ANTHONY LIST: Abortion activists have been quietly building a whole new business model to target young women on their phones to click, get information, and receive abortion drugs by mail.

FOREMAN: The Food and Drug Administration approved mail-order supplies of the so-called abortion pills with a prescription this past December for women in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. Advocates insist it is less invasive, more discrete, and just as safe as surgical abortion.

DR. JENNIFER VILLAVICENCIO, AMERICAN COLLEGE OF OBSTETRICIANS AND GYNECOLOGISTS: And oftentimes people choose this for various reasons. They want to be able to manage their abortion in their own home, with their family, and surrounding in an environment they're comfortable with.

DR. REBECCA GOMPERTS, WOMEN ON WAVES: We have seen an incredible increase of requests now. People are really, really scared of what's going to happen.

FOREMAN: That's why some abortion rights supporters such as Women on Waves based on in the Netherlands say they are already facilitating shipments of the drugs to women in far-flung corners of the U.S., and they're promising to step up the effort no matter where those women are or what state laws say.

GOMPERTS: What I'm doing is legal under the laws where I work from. And actually, I have a medical oath to do this. I am a doctor. My oath is that I help people that are in need. And that is what I am doing.

FOREMAN: In many states where lawmakers are trying to stamp out abortion rights, the simple truth is they have written a lot of special lines in their laws to keep outside providers of these pills from accessing their population. But abortion rights defenders say it's only five little pills, and they believe there is a way to get them to the women they see in need.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


WHITFIELD: And now, you would never know it to watch her on the court, but a University of Miami basketball player had a medical issue in high school that almost kept her sidelined. CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta reports on how she's bouncing back in today's "The Human Factor."


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: The basketball court is a second home for Ja'Leah Williams.

JA'LEAH WILLIAMS, UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI BASKETBALL PLAYER: If something happened with a familiar member or you're just emotional or depressed, sometimes I just come here and just shoot and listen to music. Basketball gets my mind clear.

GUPTA: Earlier on Ja'Leah figured out that she was a little bit better than most of the people she played against.

WILLIAMS: What made me fall in love with basketball is I would take the ball from somebody. I would just run up the court but they couldn't catch me. So I would just make the lay-up. Not even. I'll miss it, and I'd still have a second chance to go back up.

GUPTA: It's a sport she's lucky to be playing.

WILLIAMS: My mom, as I got older, she saw that I would have a little lean, and my bone was popping out, and she eventually got it checked out.

GUPTA: The diagnosis, scoliosis.

WILLIAMS: It was like a snake. I was tilted.

GUPTA: Ja'Leah had a severe curvature of her spine. Surgery was her only option. The surgery was a success, and there was an unexpected upside to the operation. She was a couple inches taller.

WILLIAMS: I think it really helped, because the inches and the way I jumped, it helps. I get rebounds. I'm trying to dunk, that's what I'm really trying to do. It just feels amazing that God just gave me a chance to play the game I love again.




WHITFIELD: Mortgage rates keep climbing, knocking some buyers out of the market while increasing the urgency for others. The 30-year fixed rate rose nearly two-tenths of a percent this week alone. That's the highest it's been since 2009, and more than two points higher than this time last year.

This comes as the Federal Reserve announced another interest rate hike of a half percentage point to cool red-hot inflation. CNN's Camila Bernal is live for us in Los Angeles. So Camila, how will rates affect the real estate market?

CAMILA BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Fred. So it's now a lot more expensive to borrow, and if you're buying a home, it means you have a lot less options, or you're going to have to spend a lot more money, increase your budget.

Look, we're all going to see the higher interest rates when it comes to your credit card, your student loans, your car loans. But the most tangible way of really looking at all this is mortgage rates, because if you look at the average, just in the last week of April, on a 30- year fixed rate, we're talking 5.1 percent. And you look back, say November of last year, it was below three percent. That makes a huge difference for anyone trying to buy a home. It means a lot of money for people who are looking.

I talked to Alexa Jensen. She is a first-time home buyer. She's been looking with her partner for about a year. They're ready to start a family. They've put in 16 offers here in Los Angeles. Still no luck. And so the increase in interest rates is making it even harder. Here is what she told us.


ALEXA JENSEN, FIRST-TIME HOMEBUYER: With the new interest rate hikes, we don't really know what our bottom line is anymore. That's a moving target.


BERNAL: And we talked to experts who say, look, this is stressful and difficult for the buyer, for the seller, for the real estate agent.


It is making it a lot harder for those that are having to put offer after offer with no luck. I talked to someone with more than 20 years of experience, and here is his perspective on that higher interest rate.


OPHIR ADAR, MANAGER, COMPASS BEVERLY HILLS AND HOLLYWOOD: It means that the affordability index goes down, and that means they can afford less in a property, right. So we're literally having buyers right now who have to adjust what they're looking for if they want to get into the market right now.

BERNAL: They no longer can afford --

ADAR: They cannot afford what they used to be able to afford.


BERNAL: And keep in mind that home prices have also gone up drastically just in 2021. We saw a 16.9 increase in those home prices. So you're talking about expensive houses and then higher interest rates. When you add those two together, it makes it really difficult for those looking not just here in Los Angeles but all over the country, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Yes, very painful prospects. Camila Bernal, thank you so much.

Coming up, Queen Elizabeth will soon celebrate her platinum jubilee, but the crowd won't be seeing some of the famous royals on this balcony.



WHITFIELD: -- spokesman from 20th Television told CNN the actor and director was discussion missed following an investigation into several unspecified allegations of inappropriate conduct. The statement said he was terminated as an executive producer and director for the series revival. The nature of the misconduct was not disclosed and the CNN's request for comment from Savage has not been returned.

The U.K. is getting ready to celebrate the Queen Elizabeth's platinum jubilee, but some prominent family members have not been invited to join the other royals on the famous Buckingham Palace balcony, including Harry and Meghan. And it's still not clear if the Queen herself will even attend. CNN's Nada Bashir has all the details from London.


NADA BASHIR, CNN PRODUCER: Preparations are under way for the Queen's platinum jubilee which will see members of the royal family gathered together to celebrate the Queen's 70th year on the throne. Why have learned that while Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are expected to travel to the U.K. to join in on the celebrations, they haven't been invited to join the Queen on that famous Buckingham Palace balcony along with other senior members of the royal family.

According to the palace, this is because Harry and Meghan are no longer working members of the royal family. They, of course, stepped back as senior members of the royal family in 2020. They no longer take part in royal duties and have since relocated their family to California.

But the decision has raised some eyebrows because Prince Andrew has also not been invited to join the Queen on that balcony at Buckingham Palace. Prince Andrew has, essentially, faced sexual assault allegations laid against him by Virginia Giuffre. And while the civil lawsuit was settled and Prince Andrew has consistently denied those allegations, he did have his royal title removed as well as his royal duty. So he too is no longer a working member of the royal family.

While Harry and Meghan won't be invited on the balcony, they are expected to be taking part in other events and celebrations around the jubilee. We can expect to see them taking part in church services, for example, to mark the jubilee.

And we do know that they are traveling to the U.K. with their two children, Archie and Lilibet. And this will, of course, mark the first time that the Queen has had the chance to meet her great granddaughter, Lilibet. She was, of course, named after the Queen's family nickname. So this will certainly come as a welcome first meeting on this very special occasion for the Queen.

But the Queen herself hasn't yet been confirmed to be in attendance at those jubilee celebrations. According to a royal source, the queen is looking forward to the jubilee and hopes to take part in those celebrations. But her attendance won't be confirmed until much closer to the event or perhaps even on the day of those celebrations.

And of course, we know that the queen has faced some health concerns in recent weeks and months. She suffered from some mobility issues. She tested positive for coronavirus in February and has since expressed feeling tired since testing positive. And she has been forced to step back from some royal engagements.

She has, of course, recently celebrated her 96th birthday. She is marking 70 years on the throne, so there are some health concerns for the Queen. But of course, that royal source saying she is looking forward to taking part in those Jubilee celebrations, and many royal fans will still be hoping to catch a glimpse of the British monarch on that occasion.

Nada Bashir, CNN, London.


WHITFIELD: Nonetheless, it's going to be quite the affairs.

Thank you so much for joining me today. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. The CNN Newsroom continues right now.

JESSICA DEAN, CNN ANCHOR: You are live in the CNN Newsroom.