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Kremlin Says Finland Joining NATO is a Threat to Russia; Russia's War in Ukraine; Jan. 6 Committee Subpoenas Lawmakers; Staggering US COVID Death Toll; Coronavirus Pandemic in China; CNN Identifies Russian General Behind Atrocities; First Image Of Our "Local" Black Hole; "Coastal Fire" Burning Across 200 Acres In Southern California; U.S. Marks One Million Deaths From COVID-19. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired May 13, 2022 - 02:00   ET




KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to all of you watching us here in the United States, Canada, and all around the world. This is "CNN Newsroom," and I'm Kim Brunhuber.

Ahead of a historic expansion of NATO, Russia warns Finland that joining the alliance will be considered a direct threat that could trigger retaliation.

Plus, an unprecedented move from the House Committee investigating the Capitol insurrection. Five Republican congressman are subpoenaed, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

And new evidence of possible war crimes in Ukraine. A CNN exclusive on the Russian general who ordered some of those acts of brutality.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Live from CNN Center, this is "CNN Newsroom" with Kim Brunhuber.

BRUNHUBER: Russia is reacting to Finland's announcement that it hopes to join NATO with threats of retaliation. Former President Dmitry Medvedev warns Russia would seriously strengthen its ground, naval and air defences on its western flank. The foreign ministry in Moscow called Finland's announcement a radical change in policy and a treaty violation that will bring retaliation and consequences.

Finnish leaders say their decision is a result of a very drastic change in the security environment after Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Helsinki admits there are no direct military threats right now and its extremely long border with Russia is secure.


KLAUS KORHONEN, FINNISH AMBASSADOR TO NATO: Finland has been a member of the European Union since 1995. For years, we have been a very close partner to NATO. So, in that sense, this step will not be such a major one that maybe the change is not as big as people might think. But, of course, it is a result of the very drastic change in our security environment after Russian aggression against Ukraine.


BRUNHUBER: In Ukraine, military leaders describe intense shelling along the front lines in the Luhansk region. New satellite images show plumes of smoke from fighting along the key river separating Ukrainian and Russian forces. Ukraine has destroyed several pontoon bridges to try to slow the Russian advance.

The military spokesman in Odesa says Ukrainian forces have blown up a Russian helicopter on Snake Island. Satellite images show one Russian landing ship narrowly avoiding a missile strike while another sinks nearby.

Farther north in Chernihiv, Ukraine reports three people were killed and 12 wounded by Russian attacks on two schools. Moscow claims it hit military command posts and ammunition depots. And Ukraine reports a number of villages are coming under fire in the Kharkiv region near the border with Russia.

G7 foreign ministers are in Germany for a three-day meeting on the crisis in Ukraine. On the agenda is discussing ways to end the blockade of Ukrainian grain that millions around the world rely on.

Let's bring in CNN's Nada Bashir live in London. So, Nada, the stakes here seem even higher than normal. What are we expecting to hear?

NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER: We are expecting to hear from the European Foreign Affairs Chief Josep Borrell in the coming hours. The G7 foreign ministers are meeting to discuss, as you mentioned, those concerns around food security, particularly around the blockade preventing grain exports from leaving Ukraine, as well as reports of Russian debt of Ukrainian grain.

There are serious concerns, according to Germany's foreign ministry. Some 25 million tons of grain currently blocked off the port of Odesa. That's raising serious concern because, of course, countries across the Middle East and Africa are heavily dependent on grain coming from Ukraine. So, that's a challenge there for the G7 foreign affairs ministers today to discuss.

There are also had been some concerns around the logistics of it all. There are some concerns raised by the Ukrainian Armed Forces that unblocking the port of Odesa and other ports in Ukraine could allow the Russian Armed Forces to further their invasion in those regions. The situation, of course, is not easily blocked by battleships in mind.

There were also logistics on the border.


BASHIR: The European Commission has already expressed that it is proposing ways to streamline the process to perhaps integrate the Ukrainian exports into the European procedure in order to allow trucks and freight carriers on the border currently stuck for hours, if not days, at a time to cross into Europe with more ease.

Those concerns are serious. We've heard from the UN World Food Programme Chief David Beasley. He appealed directly to President Putin and warned that millions of people could die. This is just one of the concerns around the implications Russia's invasion is having on the wider world. There are, of course, continued concerns around oil and gas.

And as we have heard, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba is also taking part in this G7 meeting. He has called for maintained and increased military support. That should certainly be on the table today for ministers as well. Kim?

BRUNHUBER: All right. We'll be watching. Thanks so much, Nada Bashir, in London.

Here in the US, for the first time, the special committee investigating the January 6 riot at the US Capitol has issued subpoenas to sitting members of Congress. Have a look here. These five Republican lawmakers have all refused to voluntarily testify. House Republican leader and the four colleagues, loyal to former President Donald Trump, are thought to have critical information about events leading to the insurrection.

CNN's Ryan Nobles has the story.


RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is by any measure an unprecedented step, the January 6 Select Committee issuing subpoenas for five members of Congress, asking them to sit for depositions and comply with their investigation.

Included in this list, a big name, the House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy. They're also asking Representative Scott Perry of Pennsylvania to comply, as well as Andy Biggs of Arizona, Mo Brooks of Alabama, and then, of course, Jim Jordan of Ohio.

Now, each one of these individuals has already been asked by the committee to participate voluntarily, and they've all turned down that request. But what the committee is saying is that they've come across information in their investigation in which there are gaps, gaps that they believe these members can fill and also answer for the role that they may have played in the days leading up to January 6 or on January 6 itself.

For instance, Kevin McCarthy spoke to Donald Trump on that day. He could've spoken to him multiple times. Representative Pete Aguilar wants to know what was part of that conversation.

PETE AGUILAR, US HOUSE DEMOCRAT: We feel that the substance of those conversations is important to our overall investigation. But I would also say, with respect to Kevin McCarthy, you know, we're not sure which version of the story to believe. So, I think he has come down a couple of times in a couple of different places on this. So, I think he has an obligation to come forward and to share.

NOBLES: Now, at this point, these Republican members have yet to say how they plan to comply if they plan to comply at all. They have already attacked the committee. They believe that it is not partisan despite the fact that there are two Republican members that are a part of it. All of them said today that they need to read the subpoena to see exactly what the committee was asking for.

But what's interesting is that Mo Brooks of Alabama suggested that he may be willing to comply if it involved a public hearing. Now, the committee is not asking for that right now. They want their interview to be behind closed doors. The chairman, Bennie Thompson, said that could lead to a potential public hearing as part of those marathon hearings that are going to take place in the month of June.

But Representative Jamie Raskin told me it will certainly not be part of their negotiation. He said this is not a game. They are not playing checkers. This is a serious investigation. The subpoena has been submitted, and they expect these members to comply. The question is, what happens if they don't?

Ryan Nobles, CNN, on Capitol Hill.


BRUNHUBER: The funeral for slain Al Jazeera journalist will be held in Jerusalem in the coming hours. Shireen Abu Akleh was fatally shot while covering an Israeli military raid in the West Bank city of Jenin. Thousands of mourners, including fellow journalists, diplomats, and religious leaders, gathered to remember her on Thursday.

Palestinian leaders say they hold Israeli forces solely responsible for Abu Akleh's death and rejected calls from Israel's government for a joint investigation.

Meanwhile, "The Washington Post" reports that Israel's military has confiscated guns from some soldiers as part of their probe into the shootings in Jenin the day she was killed.

The US surpasses a staggering number of deaths during the COVID pandemic. But as we mark the somber occasion, President Joe Biden said it's also time to look ahead to possible future outbreaks.

We'll have that coming up. Stay with us.




BRUNHUBER: The US and the European Union say they will step up their efforts to provide COVID vaccines globally as US President Joe Biden and European Commission Leader Ursula von der Leyen made the announcement Thursday, the same day the US marked one million deaths from the coronavirus. The US and EU are pledging to increase vaccine equity and improve supply chains, and more commitments were also made at a virtual global COVID summit hosted by Biden. He says there's no time to wait when it comes to preparations for the next variant or the next pandemic. Here he is.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Now is the time for us to act. All of us together. We almost do more. We must honor those we have lost by doing everything we can to prevent as many deaths as possible.


BRUNHUBER: For more on this, we're joined by Jagan Chapagain, the secretary general of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. He is speaking with us from Geneva, Switzerland. Thank you so much for being here with us.

So, we heard from the summit that countries are pledging $3.1 billion to fight COVID. The US will increase its pledge to $450 million. So, in your statement to the summit, you spoke of the need for action to be louder than words. Was there enough action here since the first COVID summit last September?

JAGAN CHAPAGAIN, SECRETARY GENERAL, IFRC: It's really good to see that commitment and really President Biden emphasizing the need for action and not to lose time. That it's very, very positive.


CHAPAGAIN: But it's also very important to know that we need around $15 billion right now to be able to actually take those actions that are necessary to prevent the new threat of the virus. As we saw, 3.5 billion is a great number, but it is far away from what is needed.


CHAPAGAIN: If you see across the globe now, we have just received the report that the numbers are going up in South Africa. We've just received reports that in DPRK, they use the word explosive growth of COVID infections and they reported death of six people, the new quarantines in China.

So, what it shows is that is that wider progress has been made. Sixty- five percent of the population has received at least single dose of vaccines. But we still have the low income countries where the vaccination rate is below 16%.


CHAPAGAIN: So, I think it is good to see that commitment, but we need more of that. Turn the commitment to action (ph).

BRUNHUBER: So, here in the US, President Biden is struggling to get his bipartisan COVID relief deal passed, which would have a big chunk of money for global anti-COVID initiatives. So, if you are addressing those in Congress, who is also hesitating to vote yes on this, beyond what you just told us now, what else would you tell them?

CHAPAGAIN: I would basically say that let's not make health a political issue. Of course, in the politics, there can be political debates. But making health, the life of people, millions and millions of people not covered by vaccines, I think that is not the right thing. I don't want to get into the politics, but let's not make health a political issue.


CHAPAGAIN: The second thing I would say is, let's not be complacent. Yes, I think that things are looking better in the developed world, including in the US in the last couple of months, but we also saw two years ago that the virus spreads very, very fast. So, until and unless we have made every part of the world safe, we cannot be complacent. That would be my message.

BRUNHUBER: So, watching the summit, I heard Senegalese President Macky Sall call out for more help to Africa, help for Africa to manufacture vaccines there on that continent which will help not just now on this ongoing pandemic but for the future, which you mentioned, President Biden mentioned there as well.

So, when we are looking ahead to the preparedness for the next pandemic, which was another theme of this summit, what do you think the biggest need is right now?

CHAPAGAIN: I think the initiative in Africa to be able to produce vaccines so that they are available for this current pandemic but also for the future pandemic is a noble idea. But the one big lesson learned from this current pandemic is that just focusing on one thing will not help us defeat pandemic.

As we saw in some of the developing countries now, the basic health infrastructure is very, very weak. At the community level, there has hardly been much investment. So, even in some of the countries where the vaccines have been available, the health infrastructure is not there, simply not there to deliver those vaccines.

And at the same time, we have seen that the other vaccine-preventable diseases have been ignored at this time. So, investing on community level basic health infrastructure has to go hand in hand with specific investments on issues like vaccine production. And for me, this is the biggest lesson learned.

BRUNHUBER: Yeah, great point, and it just outlines the huge challenge ahead. We will have to leave it there. Jagan Chapagain, thank you so much for being with us.

CHAPAGAIN: Thank you so much, Kim.

BRUNHUBER: Government denials of a COVID lockdown have not stopped panic buying in Beijing. There were chaotic scenes inside some supermarkets late Thursday as residents rushed to stock up on supplies. Daily cases have remained in the dozens in the Chinese capital, but officials are encouraging residents to stay home until they launch a new round of mass testing.

China will be limiting travel abroad for non essential activities. The government says it will tighten its review process in the issuing of travel documents.

For more on this, I'm joined now by CNN's Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. Kristie, more frustration in China despite relatively few cases there that is causing all these lockdowns. What's the latest?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Kim. Look, it looks like China is taking its tough zero-COVID policy to the next level when you have officials announcing plans to strictly limit its citizens from travelling overseas. This is what we learned from a meeting that took place on Thursday with China's National Immigration Administration in which it announced plans to strictly limit nonessential travel outside China as well as tighten the approval process for travel documents.

These moves underscore China's fierce commitment to its zero-COVID policy, which is in full force as it battles its worst ever COVID-19 outbreak since the start of the pandemic.

In Shanghai, you have millions of people -- they are still under a strict lockdown that has been in place since the end of March.


LU STOUT: We've also learned in Beijing, right now, 20 million people have been urged to stay at home during a mandatory three-day mass testing campaign.

I want to bring up this updated graphic for you just so our viewers can have an understanding of the scale and scope of the lockdowns across China. This is according to CNN's calculations based on official data. We know, at least right now, 32 cities across China are under some form of lockdown, full or partial lockdown, affecting up to 220 million people across China.

And amid these tightened restrictions in China, cases are actually not falling. In fact, we just got the latest COVID numbers out from the National Health Commission. They say on Thursday, cases in Shanghai rose from 1,449 to 2,096, while Beijing remains at its daily average of 50 cases.

Look, it was just earlier this week we heard from the director general of the World Health Organization saying that China's zero-COVID policy is not sustainable. China fired back, calling those comments irresponsible. China is not showing any indication that it is willing to give up on this tough zero-COVID policy. In fact, just the opposite. It appears to be ramping up this controversial policy. Back to you.

BRUNHUBER: All right. Thanks so much, Kristie Lu Stout. I appreciate it. LU STOUT: You got it.

BRUNHUBER: The president of South Korea is offering to help North Korea with its COVID outbreak with medical vaccines and supplies. The reclusive nation reported 18,000 cases of so-called fever on Thursday alone and six deaths.

So far, North Korea has identified more than 350,000 cases and more than 187,000 people are being isolated. Leader Kim Jong-un has ordered all cities into lockdown, calling it the most important challenge facing the ruling party.

Evidence of possible war crimes are found everywhere across Ukraine. Now, CNN has identified the senior Russian general who ordered some of those atrocities. We will have our exclusive report just ahead. Stay with us.




BRUNHUBER: The world has watched in horror as Russian artillery has devastated Ukrainian cities and Ukrainian lives seemingly with impunity. The US and the international community have accused Russia of war crimes in Ukraine. But what's been difficult is tying specific generals to specific crimes, which is the key to actually carrying out war crimes prosecutions.

In Kharkiv, CNN has seen the aftermath of the attacks using indiscriminate cluster munitions, which is a war crime. In two-month long investigations, CNN can reveal the commander responsible for these attacks and the string of atrocities he has committed not just in Russia's latest war in Ukraine but also in the 2014 war in Donbas and Syria.

Chief international investigative correspondent Nima Elbagir has this exclusive report, and just to let you know, you might find some of the images in her sport disturbing.


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A devastation of civilian homes and lives. Throughout the last two months, we have witnessed atrocities in Ukraine.

(On camera): More mortar strikes very, very close. They want us to start moving.

(Voice-over): While we know these are Russian actions, it's been difficult to draw a direct line from individual atrocities to a specific Russian commander -- until now.

CNN can exclusively reveal that this man, Colonel General Alexander Zhuravlyov, commander of the Western Military District, is the commander responsible for this.

Munitions targeting civilians in the city of Kharkiv, East Ukraine -- a war crime under international law.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You can see more artillery rockets apparently be firing from Russian territory towards the territory, I would say, around Kharkiv. I don't know if you can hear this right now.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): This is the start of the war. CNN's senior international correspondent Fred Pleitgen witnessed artillery being fired from inside Russia within Zhuravlyov's district toward the city of Kharkiv. Sam Kiley was in Kharkiv and could hear the shelling moments later.

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Could feel the concussion against the glass.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): We soon learned from experts these were Smerch rockets. Built in the early 80s at the end of the Soviet era, this multiple rocket launch system scorching the earth as it fires is a pride and joy of Russia's armaments, as seen here in this propaganda documentary.

This is what they are capable of delivering. Cluster bombs, one Smerch rocket releasing many smaller explosives, scattering bombs, amplifying the devastation.

These attacks captured on social media both in Kharkiv and both from the same day are a clear example of their indiscriminate nature. When used in this fashion against civilians, it's considered a war crime.

The use of Smerch rockets is key in our findings of who is responsible, because they are unique to one unit here, one commander.



NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): One commander. After months of forensic work, we can reveal the trail of evidence leading to Zhuravlyov. Using social media videos to guide us, we return to some of the scenes of the attacks focusing on February 27 when three civilian targets were hit, and eight more on February 28. We start in the Pavlovo Pole neighborhood of Kharkiv.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Speaking a foreign language.

ELBAGIR: This is shrapnel from those missiles that fell on our neighborhood, Lilia tells us. This shrapnel was found in one of the rooms. Lilia takes us to see a Smerch rocket that fell 200 yards from her apartment block in this once affluent area.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Speaking a foreign language. ELBAGIR: I remember the whistling sound of the missiles. I know that the missiles were flying and that they were accompanied by fighter planes or drones. You can see the hole that it came through, you can see the way that the rocket buckled when it hit the car. You can also very clearly see that this is a Smerch.

It's not the only rocket coming from this direction on this day, less than a half-mile down the road, another hit. Helping to situate us, this kiosk, that water cooler their key landmarks, the bodies landed here down this road. Those blue doors you see that's where the cluster munition shrapnel embedded.

This video is filmed moments after the attack where four people including a child were killed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Speaking a foreign language.

ELBAGIR: Another Smerch, launching cluster bombs. We know this because one of the unexploded bombs was found on the -- 280 yards away. Notice the date 2019. Russia stopped selling arms to Ukraine in 2014. This confirms this is a Russian cluster bomb. One and a half miles away, another strike, more suffering, and no sign of any legitimate military targets.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Speaking a foreign language.

ELBAGIR: People were queuing for food and then something just hit. People started running here she says. This is the exact moment of impact. Look at it again. Frame by frame, you can see the scale of the rocket and proximity to innocent civilians.

We are here Kharkiv. Notice the five hits along this line from the 28th. They're pretty much in a line apart from three here, which line up with the hits from February 27. We can trace these lines 24 miles to a point of convergence here across the border in Russia well within the range of a Smerch rocket. Well, we have a satellite image from the 27th showing the launching position. Notice the plume of smoke and the telltale burn marks of a Smerch launch here, here, and here. In collaboration with the Center for Information Resilience, we can also tell you who is firing from this position, the 79th Russian Artillery Brigade, part of the Western military district which borders Ukraine and is under the command of Zhuravlyov.

According to open-source information reviewed by CNN, military experts, and intelligence sources, they are the only unit in this district equipped to launch Smerch rockets. And only the commander has the authority to order the 79th Artillery Brigade to launch the rockets. And this was just in the two days that we analyzed. These stills shared exclusively with CNN by Kharkiv prosecutors show the Russian armaments raining death among them, many Smerch remnants. Experts say this is among the heaviest bombardments in recent history.

Zhuravlyov is no stranger to these brutal tactics, atrocities targeting civilians, very similar to what we saw in Syria in 2016. So it shouldn't come as a surprise that Zhuravlyov also led Russian troops during the siege of Aleppo. He is the architect of the devastation you see here. For leveling Aleppo, he was awarded the highest honor granted to Russian Officers, hero of the Russian Federation, yet Syrians have documented his war crimes. Russian?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Speaking a foreign language.

ELBAGIR: Despite the direct line from the impunity the world afforded Russia in Syria to the atrocities suffered by civilians here today, the question remains what will the world do to stop this cycle? Nima Elbagir, CNN Kharkiv.


KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR: And we have asked the Russian Ministry of Defense for comment as well as the Kremlin but we are yet to receive a response.


BRUNHUBER: And CNN shared with the U.S. State Department our findings noting the lack of action taken against Colonel-General Zhuravlyov and other Russian generals and they wouldn't comment on the specific acts or any other information reviewed. That said they continue to track and assess war crimes, and reports of ongoing violence and human rights abuses. We'll be right back.


BRUNHUBER: Astronomers have given us our first look at the supermassive black hole, what they call the beating heart at the center of our swirling galaxy the Milky Way. Sagittarius A-Star is 27,000 light-years from Earth. Black holes themselves don't emit light, so what we're seeing here is the glow of light bent by its crushing gravity. Astronomers say this black hole is 4 million times more massive than our Sun.


BRUNHUBER: Now the image was captured from these observatories around the world which formed the Event Horizon Telescope Array.


LIA MEDEIROS, EHT GRAVITATIONAL PHYSICS WORKING GROUP: And so all of these telescopes worked together like a team and everybody looked at these sources at the same time, and everybody worked together to create an Earth-sized telescope so that we could create such an incredibly high-resolution image.


BURNHUBER: Now, even though Sagittarius A-Star is massive, it's actually cosmically puny, a thousand times smaller than M87, which is in a different galaxy and seen here on the left. Now, M87 was the first black hole to be imaged.

I'm Kim Brunhuber at CNN Center in Atlanta. For our viewers on CNN International, World Sport is next. For our viewers here in North America, I'll be back with more news after this quick break. Please do stay with us.



BRUNHUBER: Evacuation orders remained in place for neighborhoods in Southern California, where a fast-moving wildfire has destroyed some expensive real estate. Dozens of homes have been damaged and hundreds of firefighters are still trying to bring the fire under control. In the last report, the coastal fire is about 15 percent contained. CNN's Nick Watt has more.


NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Multi-million dollar mansions are eaten up by fast-moving flames. This is one of California's most affluent neighborhoods.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Feel like it's the end of the world honestly and I just hope we can all get through this.

WATT: Hundreds of homes as well as a luxury Golf Resort evacuated. Firefighters dousing homes in the hope of saving them, some using water pulled from the country club pond, two firefighters injured.

T.J. MCGOVERN, ASSISTANT CHIEF OF FIELD OPERATIONS, ORANGE COUNTY FIRE AUTHORITY: We have a fresh group going out today. They're going to be out there for 24 hours.

WATT: This is no backcountry fire. This is near the beach and densely populated Orange County just south of LA, damage assessment already underway in the ashes. Basically, this is what happened. The winds whipped in from the Pacific across that golf course and then push these flames through the canyon up the hillside threatening these ocean view ridgetop mansions right here, destroying some of them, including this, a $10 million home. Winds are gustily pushing the flames but the winds aren't terrible or unusual. It's the acres of bone dry brush. That's the major problem.

BRIAN FENNESSY, CHIEF, ORANGE COUNTY FIRE AUTHORITY: With the climate change, the fuel beds in this county throughout Southern California throughout the West are so dry, that you know fire like this is going to be more commonplace.

WATT: The fast-moving fire seer through that dry brush ballooned to roughly 200 football fields in just a few terrifying hours. January, just 1 percent of this state was in extreme drought. Today, it's 60 percent. The January-April 2022 period was the driest on record for California, so says the U.S. Drought Monitor.

MCGOVERN: This fire is not controlled or contained yet we saw a lot of work to do. It's very steep terrain out there. We're going to get a little more heat nothing significant. We are going to get those west winds again. WATT: This fire broke out yesterday afternoon. The cause of the spark is yet unknown. Nick Watt, CNN, Laguna Niguel, California.


BRUNHUBER: The White House says it's working to address the serious supply shortage of baby formula in the U.S. that announced limited steps on Thursday like cracking down on price gouging and importing more formula from overseas but there's no quick fix for desperate parents. Here's what some of them have been facing.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's very stressful. It gets very stressful.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Terrifying. It's terrifying when that's the only true source of nutrition that your baby gets.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Really scary wondering about the next meal, am I not going to have the formula I need?


BRUNHUBER: Now, the White House didn't seem to have clear answers about what parents should do if they can't find a formula to feed their children, only offering advice like this. Listen.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We would certainly encourage any parent who has concerns about their child's health or well-being to call their doctor or pediatrician.


BRUNHUBER: Former President of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Dr. Lee Savio Beers appeared on CNN earlier, and here's what she said parents should do if their supply is low.


DR. LEE SAVIO BEERS, FORMER PRESIDENT, AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS: One of the things you can do is really check a lot of different stores. We're finding that some of the smaller stores actually may not have sold out quite as quickly, so that's one thing. I think another thing and this is important, you can check with your pediatrician if you have questions, but for many babies, there are only -- there are -- there are certain formulas that are out of stock, but others where there are -- where it is in stock. And so for most babies, you can actually substitute another formula and do just fine in the meantime.


BRUNHUBER: On Thursday, the U.S. reached a Coronavirus number that's difficult to believe, 1 million deaths from COVID. 1 million mothers and fathers, grandparents, sons, and daughters, lost to the pandemic. CNN's Wolf Blitzer spoke to America's top disease doctor, Anthony Fauci, and got his reaction to the staggering toll.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, U.S. NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: This is really unimaginable, but unfortunately, true. You know, back about a year or more ago when we were talking about the potential for this catastrophic pandemic, I had mentioned that I was concerned that we would have 200,000 deaths.


FAUCI: And I was being criticized for being too alarmist at the time. And now look at that. We have five times that and that's a landmark that really is truly tragic.


BRUNHUBER: Now, each of the million lost was someone's parent, child, relative, or friend. Jake Tapper looks at some of the U.S. pandemic victims and the memories they left behind.


NICOLE SPERRY, LOST 10-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER TO COVID-19: She made a point, make sure to make friends with everybody.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR (voiceover): You are my sunshine, and I love you, lovingly drawn in red and blue crayon. These are some of the last drawings by 10-year-old Teresa Sperry. Last fall, she came home from elementary school with a headache.

NICOLE SPERRY: We thought it was just a simple headache.

TAPPER: She passed away just a few days later, just weeks before children her age became eligible for the vaccine.

JEFF SPERRY, LOST 10-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER TO COVID-19: At one time she was happy, she was healthy and strong, and it took her in less than five days. If they can take her, they can take anybody.

TAPPER: 39-year-old Naomi Esquivel died on July 2, 2020. At her funeral, her husband of 24 years, Carlos Garcia said goodbye with their two sons, 14-year-old Isaiah, and the 11-year-old Nathan. Less than a month later, the boys were attending their father's funeral.

NATHAN GARCIA, LOST MOTHER AND FATHER TO COVID-19: I didn't get to say goodbye to my mom, or my dad. No. And that's what hurts me the most.

TAPPER: The boys' uncle and aunt took them in. Jonathan Coelho, a cancer survivor was just 32 years old. His wife, Katie, found a goodbye note he had written on his phone to her and their children shortly before he passed away.

KATIE COELHO, LOST HUSBAND TO COVID-19: And they'll only ever know their dad through pictures and memories and videos and this no -- and to me, I feel like that's the worst part of this is that they won't feel the love that I felt for the past 10 years.

TAPPER: Mary Schneider, 91, and her husband George, 88, had been married for 63 years. They passed away within three days of each other. They love the Phillies and attending orchestra concerts.

Ben Luderer was a coach and teacher. He was just 30 years old. He was discharged from the hospital after receiving oxygen for his initial symptoms. A few nights later, while isolating at home, he texted his wife.

BRANDY LUDERER, LOST HUSBAND TO COVID-19: He said, you know, I'm struggling like this is -- this is hard. He finally settled in after taking his bath, the humidifier was on and it was ready to like, try the night you know, go to sleep, you know. So I came back out to the couch and I could hear through the door that he was still breathing and I fell asleep and then you know, when I woke up that morning, he wasn't with us anymore.

TAPPER: Hadwick Thompson was the uncle of lead producer Blake Jones. Hadwick served in the U.S. Marines during the Vietnam War and was awarded a Purple Heart. For the next 16 years, he was an Oakland police officer. In his free time, he loved windsurfing and sailing on the San Francisco Bay, and riding his motorcycle.

Barbara Birchenough was a nurse for 46 years who was just days away from retirement when she was admitted to the same hospital where she cared for patients.

82-year-old Sarah Washington loved singing and playing music, serving as a high school choir director for 25 years. This little light of mine was one of her favorite songs.

For Joan Bartlett, the smell of her 84-year-old father's aftershave still brings her comfort. Her dad, John Richardson was a math teacher and special Ed coordinator for more than 20 years.

JOAN BARTLETT, LOST FATHER TO COVID-19: I want the world to remember my dad, just the contribution that he made, raising a beautiful family and having a strong work ethic and a good human being and a person that care for others.

TAPPER: Robert Bobby Grimaldi passed away this past February from complications due to COVID. His daughter, Angelica, the senior editorial producer for our show, says he made friends everywhere he went.

Florida siblings Byron and Mikayla Hicks traveled to Orlando right before they got COVID in June 2020 and passed away just days apart.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Byron was a gamer. He loves his game. He loved his family. Kayla was the light of the family. Her smell can light up a room.

TAPPER: Miguel Moran was an immigrant from El Salvador. He washed trucks for a living. His 23-year-old son, Daniel, prayed at his hospital bedside wearing protective gear and a face mask, a final farewell to his father dying of COVID. 16 days later, Daniel had a fever and trouble breathing. He climbed into an ambulance, passed out, and then he died too. He was buried in the same grave as his father.

42-year-old Joe Lewinger was a basketball coach, Assistant Principal, a father of three, and a husband who left love letters in his wife's lunchbox every day.

MAURA LEWINGER, LOST HUSBAND TO COVID-19: My husband gave 110 percent to everything he did.

TAPPER: When he was hospitalized, the doctor called his wife to tell her Joe did not have much time. She asked to FaceTime him.


MAURA LEWINGER: I thank him for being the most amazing husband and for making me feel cherished and loved every single day. I thanked him. And then I prayed. And then the doctor took the phone and he said, I'm sorry, but there's no more pulse. And then I played our wedding song for him. And then -- and then that was it.

TAPPER: 1 million Americans gone, so much loss.


BRUNHUBER: Wow. 1 million tragic stories like that. I'll be back in just a moment with more news.