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New Day Saturday
U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Tops 436,000 With 25.9 Million Cases; Dems Call For Expulsion Of GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R- GA); Police, Military Confront White Supremacist Extremism In The Ranks; The Young Widows Of COVID-19; Ninety Million Americans To Be Impacted By Winter Storm. Aired 7-8a ET
Aired January 30, 2021 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Another COVID-19 vaccine could soon be available in the United States. Johnson & Johnson say his vaccine was 66 percent effective overall in a global phase three trial, 72 percent effective in the U.S. and 85 percent effective against severe disease.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are racing against the clock to get shots in arms as new variants of the virus are spreading.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE: This is a wake- up call to all of us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy planning to meet next week with Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He has a real opportunity right now to actually live up to the title to point the party in a path where anti-Semitism, racism, horrific comments have no place in the halls of Congress.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some Democratic members increasing numbers are saying they're actually frightened.
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ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY WEEKEND with Victor Blackwell and Christi Paul.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you in D.C. or wherever you may be waking up this morning. We're grateful to have you with us as always. I am sorry to have to say that the number of people who are infected with coronavirus is nearing 26 million this morning. Dr. Anthony Fauci says, that new variants seen in several states, it should be a wake-up call for us.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Now, more than 400 cases of the U.K. variant have been found in the U.S. at least two people have tested positive for the more contagious South African strain.
PAUL: And there could be new vaccines as well soon. Johnson & Johnson is applying for emergency use authorization next week. And in a UK trial, Novavax says their vaccine is 89 percent effective.
BLACKWELL: Close to 28 million COVID vaccine doses have been put into Americans arms. One White House advisors says that seven states have vaccinated at least 10 percent of their population. Let's start with Polo Sandoval. He's found in the latest on the pandemic, that Senior Advisor Andy Slavitt, said that it will be months before everyone who wants a vaccine will be able to get one. Where do things stand on supply?
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Victor, Slavitt also adding that there are two key factors here that are limiting that distribution of the vaccine one of them, of course, is supply. We've talked about that. The other though, the ability to actually administer these shots once they're produced. The president saying earlier this week that it's quite likely that most Americans will have access to a vaccine, one of them at least one of those vaccines, by the end of the summer.
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SANDOVAL (voice over): As the World Health Organization marks one year since the declared COVID-19 and international public health emergency, the U.S. is inching closer to having three safe and effective vaccines. Though, Johnson & Johnson's candidate has a noticeably lower efficacy rate than Moderna's and Pfizer's, health experts agree a third option would be a game changer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we got spoiled a little bit with Moderna and Pfizer because of their high efficacy rates. But remember, a couple of months ago, the FDA would have approved something at 50 percent. So, we're really doing really, really well with all of these vaccines, and I do think they are going to be the solution.
SANDOVAL: The U.S. also getting closer to reaching 30 million COVID- 19. vaccinations administered since the rollout began last month.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The CDC two days ago said the 3.5 million Americans have received two doses of the vaccine that's one percent of the population. We need to get about to, to 70 percent, really, to start having a major impact on this virus. And this having vaccines like this makes it much easier for us to do that.
SANDOVAL: The state of West Virginia already finished administering all second-round doses to people in long term care facilities. Next priority for the Mountain State, all West Virginians over the age of 16. That's a rare success as much of the country still struggles to get first doses to residents in the first eligible groups. Nearly 23,000 National Guard troops are in 38 states helping accelerate efforts at a rate of at least 51,000 more shots a day.
And the Pentagon is close to finalizing an agreement with FEMA to provide around 450,000 shots daily. New York State expecting a 16 percent boost to its weekly allotment of about 250,000 doses, and amid criticism over a slow rollout the state of California is revamping its efforts partly by simplifying vaccine eligibility, an action that came too late for the Jacobo family in LA. These five little girls now living with their aunt and uncle after their single mother, 33-year- old, Jasmine Jacobo died due to COVID.
CRYSTAL JACOBO, AUNT: Even though mom's not here, they have a lot of family that love them. They will always be here for them. If we can make an impact on her life. I think that our mission will be accomplished.
SANDOVAL: Amid concern that you COVID-19 variants could add up to 85,000 more deaths in the U.S. by May. The CDC asking if two masks are truly better than one, the agency conducting experiments to determine if double masking can, in fact, block up to 90 percent more respiratory droplets. The CDC's key guidance is still the same, though at least wear a mask.
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SANDOVAL (on camera): Staying on the topic of masks that was late yesterday that CDC issued a fresh order that's expected to kick in on Monday night about 11:59. So, just before midnight, that will require us all to wear masks while using public transportation. You're talking about buses, planes, trains, even rideshare vehicles is where, as well. Their big concern here obviously these new variants of the virus last weekend, there were at least 200 that had been confirmed that were first detected in the U.K. That number now up to 400 and climbing, Victor and Christi.
PAUL: It is something. Polo Sandoval, thank you so much.
BLACKWELL: All right. Let's talk now with Retired Army Colonel Dr. John Grabenstein, he's the Editor of the Immunization Action Coalition Newsletter. Doctor, thanks so much for your time this morning. I want to start with the variance and an element that Polo reported that the IHME, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation says, that the new variants could add up to 85,000 deaths to the U.S. number, of COVID-19 deaths. What's your degree of confidence that the vaccines we have now will protect against these, these mutations?
DR. JOHN GRABENSTEIN, EDITOR OF THE IMMUNIZATION ACTION COALITION NEWSLETTER: It's certainly a glass half full situation. We have data from two trials now, the Novavax trial, and the Johnson & Johnson trial from South Africa where this one variant is very widespread, that there's 50 percent or more protection from vaccination, and with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the South African situation, it's 85 percent effective against severe disease. So, that's good news.
BLACKWELL: Listened to Dr. Fauci here last night on the South African variant.
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FAUCI: When we were communicating with our many scientific and public health colleagues in South Africa, they were telling us over the phone, something strange is going on right now. We have people who are infected several months ago, who now with this new strain of getting re-infected, which is telling you that the immune response induced to the first infection wasn't good enough to prevent the second infection.
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BLACKWELL: How does or should that change the response, if at all?
GRABENSTEIN: Well, so, the most important thing is to mask so that those droplets don't go out, like the previous journalist just said, and the vaccine -- get vaccinated as soon as it's offered to you. Because it's going to be it's going to give you additional protection to avoid infection. So, that's the most important thing.
BLACKWELL: Are you at all deflated by the efficacy of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine saying 66 percent effective in this global trial, 85 against severe disease, what we know from Moderna and the Pfizer vaccines is that 95 percent effective against symptomatic, symptoms rather, of COVID.
GRABENSTEIN: Not deflated at all. It's going to be months before the vaccine is offered to me. And by having an additional manufacturer amped to the inventory, that means I can get vaccinated soon. So that's, that's excellent news. I'd focus on that 85 percent number rather than -- the 66 number is true, but it's 85 percent against severe disease, and that's, that that's where the value lies.
BLACKWELL: We've now got the South African variant in South Carolina, it's been reported there, people have been infected with no travel history. If your expectation that this is now widespread, if you have it with people who have not been outside the country.
GRABENSTEIN: Probably. I mean, you know, and it'll be, it'll spread more, it spreads more easily. So, just with each day that goes along, we'll, it'll spread further. So, that's why it's important to you know, for all those vaccine doses to be administered as quickly as we can, so that we can get the people protected.
BLACKWELL: So, then, what is the effectiveness from your vantage point of the Canadian strategy? Justin Trudeau there announced yesterday that they will be requiring a three-day hotel stay for a quarantine for most travelers and entering Canada. And starting tomorrow, Canadian air carriers will suspend flights to Mexico and the Caribbean for the next three months. I mean, if you get it inside the country, doesn't matter where the flights are going, am I interpreted that correctly?
GRABENSTEIN: There's a you know, closed the barn door after the horse is out kind of situation. You know, those kinds of restrictions can slow down the virus, but it doesn't stop it. And so, you know we keep coming back to the to the mask and the distance in the in the vaccines as the, as the best way the personal way of getting up getting protected.
BLACKWELL: Dr. John Grabenstein, thank you so much for your expertise this morning.
GRABENSTEIN: Thanks, Victor.
BLACKWELL: All right, Christi.
PAUL: So, President Biden says a COVID relief package needs to be passed soon, obviously, even if it means he says doing it without Republican support.
BLACKWELL: Yes, it was a meeting with the Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in the Oval Office when he warned of the cost of inaction. CNN's Jasmine Wright joins us now. So, the administration says they want a bipartisan bill. Yes, but it's becoming clear that that's probably unlikely. Is the White House signaling how it will move forward?
JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Victor, the public message coming from the White House going into next week's COVID negotiations is still pass it with bipartisan support. But the push, as you said to do that urgently, could complicate that. Now, on Friday, Biden was asked about the potential for Democrats to go it alone for them to pass it using a rarely used budget process. That would mean that they need no Republican support to get it done. Take a listen to Biden here.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you support passing COVID relief through budget reconciliation?
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I support passing COVID relief with support from Republicans if we can get it, but the COVID relief has to pass. There are no ifs, ands, or buts.
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WRIGHT: Now, that answer no ifs, ands, or buts, as Biden says that is not Biden shutting down that possibility of using that budget process. And it's notable because it's the administration's first real response, acknowledging the fact that they just may not get that bipartisan support that they're looking for. Now, of course, Biden is going through the motions. We know that he is reaching out to Republicans to try to curry that support.
And CNN has also learned that they will do more, they will do more calls, they will ramp up that outreach from Biden sitting down to do interviews to push his message. But the question still remains, Victor, is whether or not that is going to be enough?
And if it is not enough, and Democrats decide that they must go it alone, that is going to present really an early test for Democrats, a test of unity and also whether or not they can legislate because they cannot lose any votes to get this done, Victor and Christi.
PAUL: So, Jasmine, what have you seen from Vice President Harris? What's her role in all of this?
WRIGHT: Vice President Harris has been active in this goal. She has waged a public and a private campaign to push the administration's message. Publicly, she has been sitting down for interviews in states like West Virginia, and Arizona. Those are home to those moderate Democrats that will be key votes in trying to get this passed.
Joe Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema, Mark Kelly, so a public campaign to curry the favor of those. But also, privately she has been picking up the phone as well, calling senators we know and to again, curry that favor and it's something that one dim official, one White House official said was a full court press and that action both her and Biden will continue into next week. Victor and Christi.
PAUL: All right. Jasmine Wright, good to see you this morning. Thanks for all the info. Up next, the GOP's inner turmoil. It's playing out as a series of sideshows ahead of the impeachment vote that really has divided this Congress. The question is, will the fractures impact the trial?
BLACKWELL: Plus, remembering the people behind the coronavirus case numbers. CNN speaks with four women now raising their children alone after losing their husbands to the virus. Take some time sit with this. You will want to see this story later on NEW DAY.
BLACKWELL: Republicans in Congress are continuing to push Democrats question this mantra of unity, but they are still dealing with divisions within their own right.
PAUL: Yes, the infighting is being driven by debate over how tight to keep their ties to former President Trump and by controversial members who've put the focus on fringe elements of the party. CNNs Daniella Diaz is on Capitol Hill for us. Daniella, good morning to you.
We know House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, he visited Donald Trump this week at Mar-a-Lago notably silent about the drama though, among Republicans on conference chair, you know Liz Cheney, the outrage with Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, walk us through what's happening right now.
DANIELLA DIAZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Christi, it's been a chaotic week on Capitol Hill. On one hand, you have Marjorie Taylor Greene, the QAnon supporter and freshmen conservative from Georgia. She has liked posts on social media calling for the execution of Democratic leaders including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She also has called the Parkland and Sandy Hook shootings a false flag operation.
Democrats want to see some repercussions for her actions. There are three efforts now underway to either censure her which means publicly reprimand her, strip her of her committees, which would render her powerless in the party, or even expel her from Congress. Now, we have also Congressman Matt Gaetz, who traveled to Wyoming to campaign against Congresswoman Liz Cheney, the number three House Republican.
He is upset with her as well as some other conservative Republicans for voting to support Donald Trump's impeachment. Where is Kevin McCarthy in all of this? You mentioned he actually went down to Florida to visit with President Donald Trump.
On Liz Cheney, he has said he supports her but has some concerns about her vote. When it comes to Marjorie Taylor Greene, we happen to know that his spokesman told us last night that he will meet with her next week. We don't know exactly how that conversation is going to go, but we will wait to see how this plays out. Christi and Victor.
BLACKWELL: Daniella. So, we're about a week out from the start of President Trump's second impeachment trial, where do things stand with that?
BLACKWELL: So, here's what we know, Victor, we happen to know that Donald Trump is building his defense team. We know that the trial will begin February 9th, and we'll see some legal briefs next week on that. And we know that Democrats want a swift trial. They want to see this proceed quickly.
Now, we kind of got a preview of this last week when Senator Rand Paul forced a vote to say that he believed that this trial, or the trial is unconstitutional. All but five Republicans sided with him those five that believe this trial should happen where the usual suspects: it was Senator Lisa Murkowski, Senator Mitt Romney. Now, Democrats need 17 Republicans to sign on to this. And right now, that looks like a very steep number, Victor and Christi.
BLACKWELL: Daniella Diaz from Capitol Hill. Thanks so much.
PAUL: I want to bringing in CNN Political Analyst, Toluse Olorunnipa, with us. He's National Political reporter for the Washington Post. Toluse, so good to see you.
TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Good morning.
PAUL: Good morning to you. All right. Let's talk about Marjorie Taylor Greene. What she said about the school shootings in Sandy Hook and in Newtown, actually in Parkland. It has caused a couple of the parents of some of those children to comment, and it's not pretty. I want to read to you what we're hearing from the parents of seven-year-old Daniel Barton.
He was a little boy who was murdered in Newtown, Connecticut. And they say this, "Having a Sandy Hook and Parkland denier on the House Education and Labor Committee is an attack on any and every family whose loved ones were murdered in mass shootings that have now become fodder for hoaxers.
We're grateful for people like Representative John Hayes, who understands that hateful conspiracy theories and suggestions that our children's violent deaths never happened have no place in our society, much less the United States Congress." We know the House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy scheduled to talk with Taylor Greene on Monday, just wondering if there are any signals from the House about what they're going to do about all of this.
OLORUNNIPA: Right now, the Republican Party is really in a bind, because they want to be moving on from the controversies around President Trump, around the all of the actions that took place on January 6th, the idea that they are a party of conspiracy theorists and White Supremacists and they think welcomed this kind of fringe theory into their party.
But when they do that, and they try to do that, they see multiple headlines about people like Representative Taylor Greene, who essentially have been furthering this argument that, you know, the Republican Party welcomes these types of conspiracy theories with open arms.
And you know, Kevin McCarthy is going to have some pressure on him to do something about it. We did see a few years back when we saw Representative Steve King welcoming in some of these fringe views, some of the views that were seen as racist, that he was recommended by Kevin McCarthy.
But the base of the party was not is not happy with the idea of splitting the party or joining this loyalty to members who have been very loyal voters when it comes to Republican issues. So, we have seen Kevin McCarthy try to strike a balance between sort of supporting President Trump and supporting some of President Trump's base, which includes people like Marjorie Taylor Greene, while also trying to move the party forward.
But so far, it seems like he is leaning towards sticking with President Trump, sticking with the base, not, you know, having any kind of punishment for people who embrace these wild conspiracy theories and harmful conspiracy theories. As we saw on January 6th, people who believe these things are taking action upon them.
They're actually, you know, attacking the U.S. Capitol and pretending as if some of these false claims, whether it's election fraud, or QAnon conspiracy theory are actually true, and they're acting on them. So, there's going to be pressure upon the Republican Party and its leadership to actually do something about this.
PAUL: Yes, I'm going to move on here to the CNN reporting that George W. Bush is going to be calling his, Vice President Dick Cheney, later today to wish him a happy birthday and to also tell him, and this is a quote from President Bush's Chief of Staff to "thank him for his daughter's service."
Obviously, talking about Representative Liz Cheney, who has faced so much backlash for voting to impeach the president. So, with that said, you know, we haven't heard a lot from President Bush in the political realm since he's left office, but just wondering how powerful is his voice in the party now?
OLORUNNIPA: Well, it seems like he's trying to reassert the level of power within the party. As he sees what's happening to his party. He sees people like Liz Cheney, who are trying to pull the party back, away from the fringes away from the conspiracy. theorists away from President Trump who essentially incited a riot in the violent mob a few weeks ago and back towards conservative principles, and Liz Cheney is losing out the vast majority of Republicans in Congress are on President Trump's side and not on any side.
And I think that's why former President Bush is trying to weigh in trying to use whatever cachet has within the party to say, we need to move the party away from President Trump away from these conspiracy theories and move back towards the normal conservatism, traditional conservatism that's represented, represented by Vice President Cheney and his daughter, Liz Cheney. But right now, it seems like that's a losing battle, and he's weighing in pretty late in the game, and it remains to be seen whether or not he's going to be able to move any Republican votes.
Right now, the power in the party continues to be with President Trump with his allies, and those allies include members of the conspiracy theorizing groups like QAnon, and Representatives like Marjorie Taylor Greene.
PAUL: All right. National Political Reporter Toluse Olorunnioa, good to have you with us. Thank you.
BLACKWELL: Ahead, how the deadly Capitol Hill riot has brought renewed attention to concerns over extremism in the country's military and law enforcement agencies?
BLACKWELL: The growing number of current and former military and police personnel charged in the attack on the Capitol is bringing some new focus on the problem of extremism in the military and in law enforcement.
Now, this is not a new problem for the Pentagon or for police departments across the country. But my next guest says, now it's time to do something about it. Dr. Rashawn Ray is a professor of sociology and David Rubenstein fellow at the Brookings Institution. He studies white supremacy and law enforcement. And Richard Brookshire is a former army medic and the co-founder and executive director of the Black Veterans Project.
Gentleman, welcome. And Rashawn, I want to start with you. You wrote in your latest piece in the -- about the insurrection that -- and let's put it up on the screen. "America should be honest about the fact that while many people are attracted to law enforcement because they truly want to protect and serve, there are others who seek out these jobs because they want to enforce white supremacy ideologies." Expound that.
DR. RASHAWN RAY, DAVID M. RUBENSTEIN FELLOW, THE BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Yes, I mean, that's exactly right. I mean, the research that we've conducted at the Lab for Applied Social Science Research at the University of Maryland overwhelmingly shows the way that white supremacy ideology has infiltrated law enforcement, and there is a history to this.
I mean, we have to be honest that law enforcement in the United States started with slave patrols. We also know that white supremacist sects then popped up during the civil rights movement, and then, even more recently under former President Obama.
One of the things that I always say is that bad apples come from rotten and trees and policing. And even though I know that overwhelmingly such as the police officers in my family are going out trying to do their job, there are others they don't. And the people that stormed the Capitol, who were military personnel, who were law enforcement, the police officers who were opening up -- opening up gates, who were taking selfies with them, who were (INAUDIBLE) and (INAUDIBLE) with them come from, oftentimes, white supremacy ideology.
That ideology is about controlling and -- controlling and protecting people and spaces, whether they be in the Capitol or whether they be saying that people are here to serve them.
BLACKWELL: Richard, let me turn to you and I want you to listen to the congressional testimony. This is of the deputy director of the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations Law Enforcement talking about white supremacist and neo-Nazi and other extremist groups. This was in February. It shocked me. I want your reaction to what we learned here.
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ROBERT S. GRABOSKY, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, UNITED STATES AIR FORCE OFFICE OF SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS LAW ENFORCEMENT: The Department in the Air force has a written punitive policy pertaining specifically to participation in extremist activities. It's important to note that the Air Force policy dictates mere membership in the organization is not prohibited.
REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D-CA): You're saying active participation equals something like a tattoo, but active participation does not equal being a member of one of these extremist organizations. And I find that astonishing.
GRABOSKY: According to Air Force policy right now, active participation is actually being attending rallies, fundraising for them, and or actually being part of the organization and actively involved in it.
SPEIER: But if you're a member, that's a level of activity. I think we need to look at that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: I found that stunning. Richard, let me come to you because you write in your piece for The Root that you witnessed some servicemen posing with swastikas, the inclusion of Confederate symbols. Do you expect that if you reported any of this that there would have been reprimand at all?
RICHARD BROOKSHIRE, CO-FOUNDER AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, BLACK VETERANS PROJECT: Absolutely not. I mean, we know one in four troops stated they've seen white nationalism is espoused within the ranks. And the military is very not forthright about the results of racial bias surveys, we know that the EEO system, the equal opportunity system in the military is broken.
So, no, I'm not surprised by that at all. And the military has been deliberate about obstructing access to data around this.
BLACKWELL: Rashawn, you lay out what you suggest should happen after the acute reaction in response to the Capitol siege that there should be background checks for law enforcement and for the military to include the evaluation for the presence of anti-black bias and links to white supremacy groups beyond just searching social media, looking for tattoos, and an interview which anybody can float their way through. What should that look like?
RAY: I mean, look, what it looks like, so, one example would be we have an innovative virtual reality lab. They can examine police officer's implicit biases, their explicit biases, and their physiology.
So, while they might not necessarily mean putting someone out of the police academy, it might mean doubling down on trainings. So, we have to make sure that within law enforcement and the military that the background checks are expanded to include addressing anti-black racism and white supremacy, and more broadly at the federal level.
RAY: Look, and we just saw this with what you just put up. It's extremely important people to recognize that our hate crime laws are watered down. They need to be strengthened. We also need a federal hate crime group registry.
Anyone who is on those registries should not be allowed to be in the military or be a part of law enforcement because for all of the officers and military personnel go on and try to do their job, there are others who obstruct that. And that ideology gets in policy and ends up spilling over into the streets to impact people.
BLACKWELL: Richard, we now have in charge at the Pentagon, retired General Lloyd Austin. The confirmation of a black secretary is not going to make the military anymore post-racial than the inauguration of a black president makes America post-racial.
But what do you expect that leadership will mean for the racism that has been found in some parts of the military?
BROOKSHIRE: Well, hopefully, General Austin -- and I'm confident that he will, will just double down, right? We know that the last four years that it hasn't been a priority, and so, the military has been a training ground, really. And you do mention last segment about President Bush. I mean, he planted the seeds of a lot of this with misinformation leading to the war in Iraq. And that planted seeds of distrust, seeds of conspiracy, and so, he has to take accountability for that.
And hopefully, you know, General Austin also take seriously, you know, provisions that Senator Gillibrand is trying to push around allowing service members to have access to their civil rights. They have to forfeit that.
They don't -- they're not -- there's no federal statute that bars discrimination, which is absolutely ridiculous. So, the DOD has been largely left to its own devices and we need to have more accountability -- greater accountability.
And so, something like Title VII applying, you mean, we've seen how it's been affected on the civilian side and certainly, the military should have to abide by that.
BLACKWELL: Yes, Senator Gillibrand suggesting the Title VII protection be expanded to include the military to prevent discrimination.
Rashawn Ray, Richard Brookshire, thank you so much for the conversation this morning.
RAY: Thank you.
BROOKSHIRE: Thank you so much.
PAUL: So, listen, do stay with us here because we'll introducing you the four young women, each of them, suddenly lost their husbands who are in their 30s and 40s from coronavirus. And now, these are all moms who are trying to navigate a new life as single mothers and enduring the isolation of COVID. It is a gripping story. Stay with us next.
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DIANA ORDONEZ, LOST HUSBAND TO COVID-19: For weeks after he passed, I would wake up suddenly in the middle of the night and I would reach for my phone, thinking I missed the call. I missed the call from the hospital. And then you realize, you know -- you know, he already passed and you have to like to tell yourself the story again.
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BLACKWELL: Every day on the side of your screen, we show you the number of new COVID-19 cases, the number of deaths in the U.S. Each number represents a family that's changed forever because of this pandemic. PAUL: CNN's Poppy Harlow spoke to four women. They're all members of this club that no one wanted to join. Each of their husbands only in their 30s or 40s have died from coronavirus.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
ORDONEZ: He just always carried on this, like, light into a room.
KRISTINA SCORPO, LOST HUSBAND TO COVID-19: Frank was like a huge teddy bear.
PAMELA ADDISON, LOST HUSBAND TO COVID-19: He was going to take me to a lighthouse on our sixth anniversary, but it was a total surprise, and I didn't even find out about it until he passed away.
WHITNEY PARKER, LOST HUSBAND TO COVID-19: He just -- he made me a better person.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Whitney, Pamela, Kristina, and Diana have never met. But they have had to welcome each other to a club none want to be a part of.
PARKER: He called me and he was like sobbing, and I've never heard my husband cry. And he just said he's so scared.
HARLOW: Their husbands, all young, only in their 30s or 40s, are all now dead.
PARKER: I just remember going, I just got a call two days ago. He was doing better, like, why did it all happen so fast?
HARLOW: These are the women COVID has left behind. The widows left to pick up the pieces after the pandemic shattered their world. They are also all mothers. Strong for their children and kept strong by them.
ADDISON: He just loved being a dad. That was his biggest joy of his life.
MARTIN ADDISON, DIED TO COVID-19: Row your boat gently down the stream.
HARLOW (on camera): I just wonder where you find that strength, Pamela.
ADDISON: So, because I know that Martin would want me to be happy and live my life, I kind of think about that every day with the kids.
They are running in the huge yard that our house has, and that was what he envisioned when we bought this house.
ORDONEZ: He was such involve that he did everything from, take her to the zoo, to take her to the little gyms.
I never had to ask him to help me with anything. He thought the floors weren't clean, he would just sweep them. He would --
PARKER: He sounds amazing.
HARLOW (voice-over): Diana's husband Juan was taken to the hospital in the middle of the night. He never came home. For their 5-year-old daughter Mia, it changed everything.
ORDONEZ: She tells me, you know, I'm afraid that something is going to happen to you. I'm afraid you're going to die. And so, she -- you know, she just can't go to sleep.
PARKER: I just remember calling her in the room and I -- you know, I was crying, and she was just like, what's wrong? Is daddy OK? I was just like, daddy, daddy passed away, he is not going to come home.
But she is so much like her dad. So logical, like, well, you know, daddy is not here, but I don't -- I don't think he wants us to be sad all the time. And I am like, yes, that's true. How are you teaching me about grief?
HARLOW: Kristina Scorpo's husband Frank died on Easter Sunday. Their baby boy was just 6-months-old. His older brother Francesco, not even 5.
When Kristina read that Pamela Addison had lost her husband Martin to COVID, she put pen to paper and wrote to a woman she'd never met about a grief she knew all too well.
SCORPO: She knows exactly how I feel, and I know exactly how she feels.
ADDISON: I felt so alone after Martin died. So, I thought I was the only young widow. And you really weren't hearing the stories about the young people dying. When I opened up her card, I think one of the first things she said is, like, you're not alone.
And at that moment, the weight of feeling alone was like lifted because now there was someone else who understood.
HARLOW: Because of that letter, Pamela started the Facebook group, Young Widows and Widowers of Covid-19.
ADDISON: She's my inspiration for why I decided to do it.
HARLOW: It became a place for Diana Ordonez and Whitney Parker to go after their husbands Juan and Leslie died quickly from COVID.
HARLOW (on camera): You, Diana, called Juan, the other half of my soul. How do you cope with that now with Mia, with your little girl?
ORDONEZ: Really, you know, I try to remember, I can almost still hear what he would say to me in certain situations. There's this empty silence where his words would once be, you know. I don't know if it's coping, but I just kind of I let myself feel that.
SCORPO: I'm thankful that I have the boys. Yes, because ultimately, every piece I have in here with me. They're half of him. So, I got lucky that they're here with me. And I'm forever grateful for that. That's -- its -- part of my life is them, and he was the one who gave them to me.
HARLOW (voice-over): A shared grief, but without a shared embrace, able only to comfort each other through the cold, hard screens of their computers.
PARKER: He was only here for 31 years, but he really did so much in those years.
HARLOW: As the months pass and the world keeps moving on, these four women are left with their acute pain accentuated by their isolation.
ORDONEZ: For weeks after he passed, I would wake up suddenly in the middle of the night, and I would reach for my phone thinking I missed the call. I missed the call from the hospital. And then you realize, no, you know, he already passed, and you have to like to tell yourself the story again.
HARLOW: But alongside their profound grief is their deep belief that each of their husbands is looking down on them.
HARLOW (on camera): Is there anything you want to say to them?
ORDONEZ: Everything I do every day is to honor him.
PARKER: I'm so glad to have spent the last 11 years of my life with him.
SCORPO: Every time I hear (INAUDIBLE) say dada, it's like, Frank sitting on the couch having a cup of coffee.
ADDISON: Thank you for Elsie and Graham. They're my sunshine.
HARLOW (voice-over): Their healing is only beginning but at least they now know they are not alone. Separated by a pandemic but connected by their collective grief, they persevere.
Poppy Harlow, CNN, New York.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
PAUL: So, 90 million of you are under a winter weather alert this morning. We're talking about from North Dakota to North Carolina. That is a massive storm system pushing east.
BLACKWELL: And that winter storm could bring the nation's capital as much as 10 inches of snow by Monday. Let's bring in Tyler Mauldin, he's been tracking the weather system. This will be the first big winter storm this year for a lot of cities across the northeast. TYLER MAULDIN, CNN METEOROLOGIST (on camera): Yes, and Washington, D.C. hasn't even seen an inch of snow or more in about 709 days, believe it or not -- believe it or not. So, we're going to change that completely for us over the next 72 hours.
It's all about the system right here in the center of the country. This system is quickly developing as it going to bring a mixed bag of weather from the Midwest all the way to the East Coast. That's why we have the winter weather alerts up for 90 million Americans from the Dakotas to the East Coast.
This is where we have the heavy snowfall band developing, where we could see it areas pick up eight inches of snow in some areas even a little bit more than that. But down to the south, we're going to see on the warm side the system heavy rainfall, possibly some stronger thunderstorms.
And where that rain meets up with the cold air, we're going to see ice accumulation of the Appalachians on into the mid-Atlantic. So, that is definitely going to disrupt travel for us over the next 72 hours.
And eventually, that system does push up the East Coast, it impacts the mid-Atlantic, it impacts the northeast, and it develops into a fairly formidable nor'easter. And that nor'easter is definitely going to be felt once we get into Sunday night and on into the first half of next week.
We're talking about heavy snow, so, strong winds, and yet that could lead to some power outages and some rough travel out there as well, guys.
PAUL: All right. Thank you for the heads up, Tyler Mauldin. Appreciate it.
Still, to come, President Biden says his COVID stimulus bill, it needs to pass. No ifs, ands, or buts here. So, what does that mean for his pledge to govern in a bipartisan way?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Another COVID-19 vaccine could soon be available in the United States. Johnson & Johnson says its vaccine was 66 percent effective overall in a global phase three trial, 72 percent effective in the U. S., and 85 percent effective against severe disease.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are racing against the clock to get shots in arms as new variants of the virus is spreading.
FAUCI: This is a wake-up call to all of us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy planning to meet next week with Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has a real opportunity right now to actually live up to the title, to point the party in the path where anti- Semitism, racism, horrific comments have no place in the halls of Congress.