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New Day Saturday

New York Revolt Against Governor Cuomo, Demand Resignation; Biden And Harris Plan "Help is Here" Tour To Promote Rescue Plan; France Expresses Confidence In AstraZeneca Vaccine; Beach Towns Brace For Spring Breakers As Restrictions Are Lifted; $1,400 Stimulus Payments Start Going Out This Weekend; Blizzard Warning Issued For Portions Of Wyoming And Nebraska; Grammy Awards Ceremony Returns After COVID-19 Delay. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired March 13, 2021 - 07:00   ET



DR. SAJU MATHEW, FAMILY MEDICINE: And there was a 32 percent slowing of the decline of memory and cognition in these patients. That's huge, Christi. I had a family member with Alzheimer's dementia, they are not able to bathe themselves, they forget family member's name. So, this is promising.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, because it is one of the hardest things to watch anybody go through so much. Dr. Saju Mathew, thank you.

MATHEW: Thank you.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some of those first checks arriving in the bank accounts of Americans this weekend.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To every American watching, help is here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can we be hopeful that this is going to come to an end soon?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It seems like these in Florida that experts worry will hurt progress.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) the freedom down here. Have you heard the rules? (INAUDIBLE) COVID though.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're trying to survive this. We also worry though, that this community will become a super spreader for other communities.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A joint statement from the two Democratic senators from New York goes on to say it is clear that the Governor Cuomo has lost the confidence of his governing partners. GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): I did not do what has been alleged.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is unacceptable. The governor must resign.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY WEEKEND with Victor Blackwell and Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Live in the White House here where there was a celebration of the passage of the relief plan. President Biden is now in Wilmington, Delaware. We'll talk about that plan in just a moment. But we're going to start in New York and despite the calls from some of New York's top Democratic lawmakers, Governor Andrew Cuomo is defying calls to resign. He says that he will not bow to cancel culture.

PAUL: Senator Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand are the latest call for him to resign. They released a joint statement in fact saying this, "It's clear that Governor Cuomo has lost the confidence of his governing partners and the people of New York."

BLACKWELL: Schumer and Gillibrand joined an overwhelming majority of House Democrats in the New York delegation who are calling on the governor to step aside. As for the Governor, though he says that he wants the public to hold a judgment until the investigations have been completed. Let's bring in now CNN's Polo Sandoval is following the latest on Governor Cuomo. What else is the governor saying about these increasing calls for him to resign?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Victor, adding to that, Governor Andrew Cuomo also maintains that these accusations of harassment and inappropriate behavior should certainly be heard. But at the same time, he also maintains that he is innocent of any kind of misconduct, he is also doubling down on his, on his position that he will not step down from his position as governor. This is what he had to say during his latest press call.


CUOMO: I did not do what has been alleged, period. Look, it's very simple. I never harassed anyone. I never abused anyone. I never assaulted anyone. Now, and I never would, right?


SANDOVAL: We continue to get new allegations from a growing list of women describing unsettling encounters with the governor going back a few months. Also at the same time, we've also heard new accounts at least an additional one just yesterday from a former state house reporter, claiming that she was touched by the governor without her consent here and this amid the growing list of Democrats that are calling for the governor's resignation, they are simply too many dimensions. And you can see them for yourself here multiple not only at the state level, but also at Washington DC, including two very powerful senators, Democratic senators in as well, including Chuck Schumer, who calls these not only multiple allegations, but also credible as well. Guys, back to you.

BLACKWELL: Polo Sandoval for us in New York. Thanks so much. Let's bring in now New York State Senator Elijah Reichlin-Melnick. Sir, good morning to you.

STATE SEN. ELIJAH REICHLIN-MELNICK (D-NY): Good morning. How are you?

BLACKWELL: I'm very well, thank you. Let's start here. With the call to resign, State Attorney General Letitia James. She has just started maybe two weeks into her investigation, but you have now elevated your concern to a point where you say the, the governor cannot continue in his office, why?

MELNICK: Because, I think he's lost the trust of the people of New York State. He's certainly lost the trust of the New York State Legislature in which I serve. At this point, I believe we've got about 75 percent of the Democratic state senate conference has called on him to resign and it's very hard for him to help the state deal with these crises we're dealing with, with COVID, the state budget coming up and all of these other things while he's facing these allegations, not just of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior, but related to his handling of the nursing home scandal from last year as well.

BLACKWELL: So, I want to stay on this investigation and let's listen to a bit of the governor's news conference yesterday. This is Governor Cuomo.



CUOMO: The people of New York should not have confidence in a politician who takes a position without knowing any facts or substance.


BLACKWELL: So, two weeks ago, you released a statement calling for a thorough investigation. And let me read it, "In light of the deeply troubling recent accounts from Lindsey Boylan and now from Charlotte Bennett, I support an independent investigation into allegations of sexual harassment by the governor, accusations of sexual harassment and assault must be taken seriously and thoroughly investigated so that facts can be known." This, again, this investigation is just started. You're now calling for the governor to resign without getting the facts that you called for.

MELNICK: Yes, so, I think what we've learned since then, is that there were not just one or two women who have alleged behavior. And so, now we are up to about seven or eight people who have alleged behavior. And I think, again, you have to set this, this is not just about the sexual harassment allegations. This is also about the fact that the governor has had senior staff admit that they misled the public and they misled the legislature report about that the extent of the death toll in nursing homes in New York last year. Reports in the media has shown more doctors, were censored before they were released to the public. So, I think it's about much more than just the sexual harassment allegations. And so, when I issued a statement on Sunday, calling on him to resign, I was made a point to say there is, it's a overlapping set of scandals that really are looking at. This isn't just one thing.

BLACKWELL: But that too, is being investigated right?

MELNICK: They're, they're all being investigated, but this is not a court of law. This is a question of can you effectively run a state when you've lost the trust and confidence of the public and your partners in government? And I would argue you cannot. And of course, you're innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. And nobody's suggesting that you'd be tried for anything at this point. And that would be the necessity for a full investigation. But to govern, you need the confidence of people you're working with in government, and you need the confidence of the residents of your state, and I think he's lost both.

BLACKWELL: You are the the state lawmaker who I quoted in my conversation with Errol Lewis last hour in which you told the Washington Post, that he doesn't have a lot of friends in the legislature has spent years making enemies. What degree of this is that?

MELNICK: So, it's hard for me to say. I'm new to the state legislature, I was elected last year and serving my third month on the job. But I've certainly spoken to many of my colleagues and some of this isn't even inside baseball, you can find this out from reading the newspaper in New York. His style has been characterized by bullying, by aggression, by basically just pressuring anybody that isn't with him all the time, and making them an enemy.

And I think it's very much like we saw from former President Trump unfortunately, somebody I opposed very strongly, and I think you see some of this same behavior with Governor Cuomo. And, and that has certainly led to a lot of resentment, and not just in the legislature, I think, again, in the public, you know, you can see it, he's faced primary challenges every time he's run. He's been successful, because he certainly did, at that point, maintain the confidence of voters. But it speaks to the fact you don't see a lot of successful Democratic governors facing strong primary challenges every election. He's always had, always had some concerns with voters.

BLACKWELL: Governor Cuomo says that he will not resign. We just showed the, the list the growing list of the members of the New York delegation, who've now called for him to resign you and many others, state government have called for him to resign. What is the plausibility of impeachment do you think?

MELNICK: So, I think it remains to be seen, the assembly would need to initiate. I understand they've set up their Judiciary Committee and empowered it to begin an investigation that could lead that direction. I hope that he will see the writing on the wall, though, because again, when you have the (INAUDIBLE) you know, three quarters of the legislature, I think about 80 percent of the congressional delegation, our two senators and countless other people have said this is the time to step down for the good of New York state. So, we can focus on everything else we have in hand. My hope is he will see the writing on the wall and realize that there's more at stake here than just his own ambition.

BLACKWELL: New York State Senator Elijah Reichlin-Melnick, thank you for your time, sir.

MELNICK: Thank you.

PAUL: So, stay with us because President Biden is giving Independence Day a whole new meeting. He's setting that day as a target for getting this country back to some sense of normalcy.


BLACKWELL: Plus, the massive COVID rescue bill has been signed into law now. How long until you can expect to see some of those tax credits and to see the stimulus?


PAUL: So, this weekend, $1400 stimulus checks are starting to hit bank accounts. And soon, President Biden is going to hit the road to tout nearly $2 trillion rescue plan.

BLACKWELL: We're already seeing the hashtags on Twitter: #STEMI, #DirectDeposit, also #HelpIsHere. Those three words, you're going to hear a lot repeated by Democrats and the P.R. Blitz they're going through right now. The President previewed his message at the White House celebration yesterday. CNN's Jasmine Wright is with the president in Wilmington, Delaware. So, the President's bill now passed and signed what comes next.

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Victor, the president now turns his focus on implementing this very large COVID relief bill. As he said yesterday in the Rose Garden, the devil are in the details.


BIDEN: It's one thing to pass the American rescue plan. There's going to be another thing to implement. It's going to require fastidious oversight, to make sure there's no waste of fraud, and the law does what it's designed to do. And I mean it. We have to get this right. Details matter, because we have to continue to build confidence in the American people that their government can function for that and deliver.



WRIGHT: Now, Victor, a few things are going to happen in the next few days to make this happen. On Monday, the White House will hold an event on implementation. President Biden says that he will choose someone to oversee that process. But again, it's going to be a big job because as I said, this is a big bill. This week, we will see President Biden on really a victory tour, both to educate Americans on how they stand to benefit from this bill, but also to promote it.

Right now, this bill is popular in the White House wants to keep it this way. So, we will see President Biden, Vice President Harris and really top surrogates going from places like Georgia and Pennsylvania, all to spread this message. And of course, really the closest thing as you said, Victor, #STEMI is going to be the stimulus checks that start hitting Americans bank accounts starting this weekend, says the White House.

BLACKWELL: Yes, people are sending me or tagging me online in the pictures that they show online of their stimulus being deposited. All right, Jasmine, thanks so much.

PAUL: So, up next, some European countries are pausing their AstraZeneca vaccine rollouts. We'll tell you why.



BLACKWELL: AstraZeneca is standing by the efficacy of its COVID-19 vaccine. It also says that it is safe. Now, there are concerns in Europe over whether it is causing blood clots.

PAUL: Yet the drug maker says there's no evidence to support those concerns, and they're so confident about the vaccine. They're already making plans for use of it here in the U.S. The the company is ready to apply for emergency use authorization and some reports say it hopes to roll out the vaccine by early next month, early April. AstraZeneca is getting some support in Europe though as well. This is coming specifically from France health officials their support its continued use.

BLACKWELL: CNN's Melissa Bell is in Paris with more on that show of support. So, what are you seeing the listen?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Victor, the French National Health Agency coming out yesterday, and really repeating what AstraZeneca had said about this news of this series of suspensions here in Europe, Denmark, and countries like Norway, Iceland, but also Bulgaria announcing that they're stopping the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine altogether. And a bunch of other European countries saying that they're stopping a particular batch of that vaccine from being rolled out.

And of course, the problem is that that leads to fears we know that there is a natural vaccine hesitancy, particularly in European populations, we've heard that Thailand has now stopped its planned rollout of the vaccine to await the results of those European investigations. So, what AstraZeneca and now, France's national health agency had to say is important.

Both have agreed on the idea that basically, when you look at people who've been inoculated, what they say is that the proportion of people who went on to be found to have blood clots is not very different, or even less as AstraZeneca than you would find in the general population. We also heard the other night from France's health minister who announced even as he was saying that France would carry on with its AstraZeneca vaccine rollout.

He said, look, five million people have now been vaccinated in Europe, and there are about 30, who have reported problems. So, that really gives you an idea of the scale. And of course, patient safety comes first. And of course, these things need to be investigated, but a great deal of support on the other side for the idea that in fact, there is no evidence for the time being that there is any real connection between the emergence of these blood clots and the vaccine.

And of course, beyond that question of encouraging or enabling vaccine hesitant hesitancy, there is also the problem Victor here in Europe of the fact that the rollout has been slow because of supply problems. The fact that one of the three vaccines now available in the European Union, in some countries will not be able to be delivered is only going to make that worse.

BLACKWELL: Yes, supply an issue most countries around the world. Melissa Bell, thanks so much.

PAUL: So, you've got you the calendar, you know what time it is beach communities are getting ready for these spring break crowds they expect. This is still a critical time. Doctors say millions of doses of vaccine are administered each day fortunately, but health experts are finding this increasing number of those more transmissible, deadly or COVID-19 variants.

And that's raising fears that weeks of partying could potentially lead to another spike and COVID-19 cases. Miami Beach Mayor, Dan Gilbert, is with us now. Mr. Mayor, good to have you with us. Thank you so much for taking the time. I know that you are a busy man. What, what kind of spring break activity are you seeing right now?

DAN GILBERT, MIAMI BEACH MAYOR: Well, thanks for having me. We're seeing too much Spring Break activity. We've got a problem with too many people coming here. We've got a problem with too many people coming here to let loose in ways that are just simply improper. And of course, we still have the virus and we have the British variant in here more here than anywhere in the country according to the sequencing that goes on by the CDC. So, you know, it's almost a triple threat for my community. And we are concerned and it's very challenging.

PAUL: So I know earlier this month, you said and I'm quoting you here: "Don't come here if you think this is and anything goes environment, we will arrest you and it will ruin your time here." You cited some numbers as well that I want to share here with, with people in a recent address on vaccinations and on spring break. In terms of those arrests, 11 percent of them were from Miami Beach residents, 41 percent were Florida residents, but 48 percent were residents of other states. I know you've banned alcohol on the beach, you bound let you know loud music, are these arrests provide violations of that sort? [07:25:14]

GILBERT: Yes, they're well, they're both. There's -- over the last few weeks, we've collected I think 59 weapons, from cars that are licensed by readers and other stops we've had. There have been more serious crimes. And about a third of them are felony arrests.

It's really very ungovernable. And a lot of the problem is, you know, our governor has said everything's open. And he's also discouraged, and almost discouraged enforcement of mask ordinances. And at the same time, they're cheap flights, and there's cheap rooms, and there's not other places open or they're too cold. So, we're getting not only to larger crowd, but an unruly crowd. And the result has been, we have a youth through social media told people don't come here.

If you're planning on doing that, here are the rules. We've got big sign saying, you know, loud, it's arrestable to play loud music, we're trying to do everything we can to create some sense of order. But I don't know that we're doing a sufficient job because last night, it was incredibly unruly. You know, one of the worst nights we've had since spring break has started.

PAUL: It's, it's really alarming to hear you say it's ungovernable or at least it feels like that to you. Certainly, Governor DeSantis, we know this week, he invalidated those fines that local governments can, can use against businesses that violate COVID rules. And I'm wondering, where does that leave you, Mr. Mayor?

GILBERT: You know, I don't I'm sort of perplexed by the governor because I understand the need to open up businesses and retain jobs. But our businesses, our hotels and our restaurants realize that opening up safely is a smart idea, even for business. The governor seems to at a time when we're still seeing massive deaths.

We had 52 deaths in one day, earlier this week in just my county. Think about that. Just Dade County one day, according to the Department of Health, he seems intent on messaging out that you don't need to wear a mask, you shouldn't wear a mask, I don't want anybody enforcing that. And that's sort of outrageous.

We have, you know, we have people out there hospitality Goodwill Ambassadors handing out masks, we have tents set up for masks. Our park rangers are giving them out. We're asking our businesses to do it. We're closing them down, frankly, if we see something that's improper and violation of our executive orders.

But you know, people are -- the problem is there's just so much mixed message and when the leader of the state is sort of sending out a message like Hey, don't worry about it, don't wear a mask, it's really hard for local officials like me at the bottom of the food chain to be urging compliance. It's, it's just very frustrating.

PAUL: I want to listen with you to former Florida Governor and Congressman now, Charlie Crist, as he is suggesting that the Justice Department investigate Governor DeSantis.


CHARLIE CRIST, FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: What this is doing is in essence, picking winners and losers in Florida, those who get vaccinated those who do not. They're targeting what they call pop ups in wealthy, white Republican neighborhoods in Florida, and doing so for the political gain of the governor.


PAUL: Now, this is in regard to reports that his office was holding vaccine drives that benefited him politically. Excuse me, do you believe that there needs to be an investigation into that?

GILBERT: But listen, if it's true, it's terrible. But until I know the facts, I'm not going to -- I'm upset with the governor about what he's been doing. But I'm not going to accuse him of something until I know there's something there. I think congressman Crist, former Governor Crist, is a great guy. And he's very sensible guy.

So, I trust what he's doing. But I don't I don't have any facts to make that accusation. I do have facts, though, by what's happening in my city because of the governor's mixed messaging on sort of how to get through this pandemic. I do not know why he's embracing his unhealthy lifestyle, because it's not helping any of us and it's certainly not helping our residents.

PAUL: Yes, I know, I feel that I think we all hear the frustration in your voice mayor, Dan Gilbert. We so appreciate you taking time to be with us today, and best of luck in these next few weeks.

GILBERT: Thank you very much, Christi.

PAUL: Of course.

BLACKWELL: Not one Republican lawmaker backed President Biden's plan to rescue America during the COVID crisis, but it's getting support from some of their most devoted voters.

After the break, you're going to hear how some Republicans feel about the lack of support from their party's leaders.



VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): If you qualify for the stimulus payments, and I'm betting that you know if you do, keep an eye on your bank account because those $1,400 payments are starting to head out this weekend.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): Yes, the payments are just one piece of this massive aid that's being injected into the economy because of President Biden's $1.9 trillion rescue plan.

The CNN's Alison Kosik has more, not just on that, but on the details as to who's eligible and for how much. ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Good morning, Christi and Victor. Now that the $1.9 trillion relief plan is law, Americans will start seeing stimulus payments hit their bank accounts as early as this weekend. Up to $1,400 for people who are eligible.

How fast you get the money depends on if the IRS has your banking information on file. If so, you'll likely be among the first to get the money because it will be directly deposited into your account. Everyone else will have to wait for paper checks or pre-paid cards in the mail.


KOSIK (on camera): How do you know if you'll even get the money? It's based on your most recent tax return. That's 2019, in case you haven't filed for 2020.

KOSIK (voice-over): The full $1,400 goes to individuals earning less than $75,000 a year. The checks then phase out, capping at those making $80,000. Families get an extra $1,400 per dependent. And unlike previous rounds, that includes adult dependents. That means a couple with two children could receive up to $5,600.

Also, for families, the relief bill beefs up the child tax credit, available for single parents with an annual income of $75,000 and joint filers, making up to 150,000 a year.

The key change here, the tax credit will be fully refundable. Plus, households can receive monthly payments rather than a lump sum once a year.

KOSIK (on camera): The help can come soon enough for struggling Americans, especially those disproportionately hurt by the pandemic.

KOSIK (voice-over): According to a new Associated Press poll, during the pandemic, black and Hispanic Americans have experienced more job and income losses compared to white Americans. About six in 10 Hispanics and half of black Americans say they're still facing a financial impact. Only four in 10 white Americans say the same.

KOSIK (on camera): But now there's hope for what's ahead. As the U.S. recovery gains momentum, economists are upgrading their growth forecasts for the U.S., with some predicting the economy will grow more than seven percent this year. That outpaces China's economy which has topped the U.S. for decades.

Economists cite enormous demand from eating at restaurants to going out to the movies, to traveling, Christi and Victor, things I can't wait to do.

PAUL: All of us are right there with you. Look at Victor's smile here. I'm just waiting, yes. So, I -- we want to thank Alison there, and remind you, the president's rescue plan did not get any support on Capitol Hill from Republicans. There is bipartisan backing, however, for the nearly $2 trillion in relief elsewhere around the country. BLACKWELL: And that includes Mingo County, West Virginia. 85 percent of voters there back former President Trump in 2020. The county also faces an unemployment rate above 11 percent.

CNN's Gary Tuchman spoke to some people who live there and a lot of them say that they are waiting for help with hope.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Economic life has long been challenging in the mountainous towns of West Virginia coal country. The COVID outbreak has made things much worse.


KEVIN JOHNSON, COAL MINER: It's tough for my kids, for, you know, my wife. My whole family, in general, I mean, I got my -- a lot of my family's out of work.

TUCHMAN: Kevin Johnson is a coal miner, but like many other people in this area lost his job.

JOHNSON: I love the mines. I mean, it's good money, really good money. Good money, good living.

TUCHMAN: How hard is it right now?

JOHNSON: It's a struggle right now.

TUCHMAN: Here in Williamson, West Virginia, the seat of Mingo County, the COVID relief bill is a huge relief for so many people. Garland Thompson is a restaurant dishwasher.

GARLAND THOMPSON, RESTAURANT DISHWASHER: I'm excited about it. You know, anytime you can help areas depressed as Mingo County and West Virginia, and give people $1,400, hopefully, that will -- it's going to help a little bit.

TUCHMAN: Help you?

THOMPSON: Yes, sir. Help me, yes, me, and my wife.

TUCHMAN (on camera): There is great awareness among people in Mingo County that their senior U.S. Senator Joe Manchin could have brought down this bill if he wanted to. That he is in effect a kingmaker and many people we talk to here like that.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Charles McGuire (PH) says he almost always votes Republican, including for Donald Trump. But he respects the political moves made by his conservative democratic senator.

CHARLES MCGUIRE (PH), VOTER: Most of the time he just speaks his mind and he speaks what is true.

CHARLIE HATFIELD, MAYOR OF WILLIAMSON, WEST VIRGINIA: I think Senator Manchin has done very well in helping us do this.

TUCHMAN: This is the mayor of Williamson, Charlie Hatfield, who was a descendant of the famous Hatfield family that feuded with the McCoys in this very area back in the late 1800s. The conservative democratic mayor who doesn't want to reveal if he votes democratic or republican in national elections does reveal he very much likes this bill.

HATFIELD: I think it's a good thing and I can tell you from what I'm saying that the city alone will probably get about a million dollars of --


TUCHMAN: And what the portion of your budget is that?

HATFIELD: Oh, it would represent almost a third. Yes, it's -- yes.

TUCHMAN: So, this is big money.

HATFIELD: It's big money.

TUCHMAN: We did meet a couple of people in town who agree with Republicans in Congress who all gave the bill a thumbs down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't like -- then, this afternoon right now, there's a lot of waste in the money.

TUCHMAN: But almost all we talk to here feel differently. Sherran Ray Justice has a disability and hasn't been able to find a job.

TUCHMAN (on camera): How do you feel about the fact that no Republican senators voted for this COVID relief bill. They all said no to it.

SHERRAN RAY JUSTICE, RESIDENT, MINGO COUNTY: Yes, that's some move. That's some hogwash move -- there. I mean, they should.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sir, watch it on --


JUSTICE: I mean, yes, apologize for my language. But they should loosen up a little bit, you know what I mean.

TUCHMAN: Kevin Johnson, the laid-off miner says he voted for Donald Trump and usually supports Republicans. But disagrees with how the GOP has handled this. With this aid, he says, he will now be able to --

JOHNSON: Pay up the rent and pay up the bills because people were behind, you know. As well as everybody else, I'm sure, I'm not the only one that's got a tough time.

TUCHMAN: Tough times for so many, and now the hope things will start getting better soon.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Williamson, West Virginia.

(END VIDEO CLIP) PAUL: Well a historic spring storm is expected to bring snowfall and record of it; flash flooding, tornadoes. And it could affect 20 million of you this weekend. We're tracking it for you next.



PAUL: All righty. So, some of you, yes, are getting ready for some beautiful spring break weather -- not so much in the central part of the country.

BLACKWELL: Yes, because a major historic springtime snowstorm is coming, heading towards a couple of states, and could impact millions of people. And the same system could also drop rain, maybe tornadoes down on the south.

PAUL: CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar is tracking the storm's path. Allison, all right, just give it to us straight. Where's it going to strike first?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, this is a pretty impressive system, and it's going to end up impacting a lot of people, but it starts across portions of the eastern Rockies. That's were the main focus is today. That's also where you have the main potential for historic snowfall totals. Then, on the eastern side, the main concerns are going to be flooding, and also the potential for severe storms.

But let's start out west where the concern is going to be the snow. Notice as we go through the day, storm doesn't move all that much, and that's key because that's why we're expecting potentially historic snowfall numbers. Because the same places are going to get dumped over and over again with very heavy bands of snow.

This, unfortunately, is going to lead to near-impassable travel conditions across portions of southern Wyoming and portions of Colorado as well. Widespread totals over afoot, some spots, two, even three feet of snow, especially as you go higher in elevation.

For Denver, specifically, the forecast calling for about 18 to 20 inches. If they end up getting that, this will -- this will end up in their top five snowiest March's on record. So, again, a big system there.

The eastern side of the storm. Now, let's switch gears and talk about the severe potential because this is a pretty big severe threat. We're talking about a level four out of five for severe weather, OK? So, you're talking a few tornadoes, large hail that could be up around baseball size, and some damaging winds. This includes places like Amarillo, Oklahoma City, Dallas, even stretching down toward San Angelo, Texas.

The timeline is mainly going to be in the afternoon and into the early evening hours for most people. With that said, Oklahoma City and Dallas, the threat could continue into the overnight hours. So, please make sure before you go to bed, you have all your devices charged, just in case you lose power, and that you have a way to get those emergency alerts once you go to sleep.

One of the other concerns is going to be the intense amount of rain with the storm. Widespread two to four inches and some spots could pick up as much as six inches of rain in a short period of time.

So, you do have the flooding concern for areas of Nebraska, Kansas, and also as you stretch into Arkansas.

On the southwestern side of the system, however, Victor and Christi, now, you're talking critical and elevated fire weather risk because of the dry conditions and the wind gusts up around 40 to 50 miles per hour.

PAUL: Wow. All right, Allison Chinchar, thank you so much.

So, be sure to tune in to the latest episode of CNN original series "STANLEY TUCCI: SEARCHING FOR ITALY". He explores the beautiful region of Tuscany. Now, the art, the food, the culture. Here's a preview.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, a little more. No more. I didn't know how to cook when we got married. Didn't even know how to boil water.

TUCCI: While she was here, my mother was also inspired by the spirit of the renaissance and set out to discover the art of Italian cooking.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When we lived in Florence, when everyone was in school, I would learned to make different recipes. I loved it.

TUCCI: My mother soon found the key that unlocked so much of Italian cooking. A simple combination of carrots, celery, and onions; fried up together, it's called the sofrito.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Looking good. What do you think, Stan?

TUCCI: Yes, it's good.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Show the tomato in?

TUCCI: It's the base of countless Italian dishes, including today's offering, a Tucci family favorite called Salsa Maria Rosa.

Add some water in it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A little bit of water in it, yes.

TUCCI: It's a delicious vegetable sauce and we named it after our beloved neighbor here in Florence, who showed my mom how to make it all those years ago. (END VIDEO CLIP)


PAUL: How sweet is that? "STANLEY TUCCI: SEARCHING FOR ITALY" air Sunday night at 9:00 right here on CNN. We'll be right back.


PAUL: So, the biggest night in music is one day away. Grammys, they're tomorrow in L.A. They're featuring the hottest names in the industry: Taylor Swift, BTS, Billie Eilish, just few.

Why are you laughing?

BLACKWELL: Because I don't know songs by any of these people.

PAUL: I guarantee you. You know a song by Billie Eilish. I guarantee you. You've heard --


BLACKWELL: I don't. I don't. I don't know one, BTS, I don't know any new Taylor Swift. So, maybe I should watch.

PAUL: I only know those two because of my children.

BLACKWELL: OK, see? And I have no kids. All right.

PAUL: It's OK.

BLACKWELL: So, the show is going on after being postponed back in January because of a surge in COVID cases. CNN's Stephanie Elam takes a look for us.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From Bad Bunny to Black Pumas, Thee Stallion, to Styles.

Hitmakers are lined up to perform live at the 63rd Grammy Awards.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hosted by Trevor Noah.

ELAM: But who will be watching? The pandemic era Golden Globes and Emmys were far from ratings gold, yet the Grammys has one advantage.

JEM ASWAD, DEPUTY MUSIC EDITOR, VARIETY: You've got a whole lot of performances interspersed with awards, which is awesome because that's what people want to see.


ELAM: The show is also coming off a tough 2020, which saw the recording academy accused in a series of scandals, including questions about its nomination process. The Recording Academy denied the accusations, the controversies then eclipsed by the death of Kobe Bryant, the morning of the show. This year, the noms controversy is back, swirling around, The Weeknd.

ASWAD: The Weeknd not getting a single nomination is the biggest snub in Grammy history.

ELAM: In response, the singer calling the Grammys corrupt.

ASWAD: Just the song, Blinding Lights, it's been in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, the greatest metric of a song success, for a year, and no record has ever done that before.

ELAM: The Recording Academy responded, saying they understand his disappointment. The interim CEO adding, "I was surprised and can empathize with what he is feeling.

Queen Bey leads the nominations with nine. Roddy Ricch, Taylor Swift, and Dua Lipa are each up for six Grammys, including, song of the year.

ELAM (on camera): Moving from its usual home here at Staples Center, most of the Grammys will be filmed in and around the Los Angeles Convention Center right across the street. And the only audience members that will be in attendance will be other performers and some of the nominees.

Stephanie Elam, CNN, Los Angeles.


BLACKWELL: Megan Thee Stallion, I know some of her music.


BLACKWELL: Beyonce, of course, you know.


PAUL: Beyonce, of course, yes.

BLACKWELL: Black Puma, Bad Bunny, I don't -- I don't know her (INAUDIBLE).

PAUL: Listen, I'm not cool. I -- if it were not for my children, I would know nothing. Nothing.

BLACKWELL: I'm not cool. Don't say that, Christi. You're cool.

PAUL: I just say like it is to thank you for the love. I appreciate it. So --

BLACKWELL: All right. So, one sure sign that, you know, brighter days are ahead -- just days after the U.S. marked the one-year anniversary of the pandemic, there are some tears of joy.

PAUL: Yes, I mean, families who've been separated are finally beginning to reunite now that they've been vaccinated. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And take, take off your mask.




EVELYN SHAW, RECEIVED PRESCRIPTION FOR A HUG: My daughter and granddaughter came to my apartment to give me a little gift they said, and the gift was the prescription from the doctor, and it said, you are allowed to hug your granddaughter.

I was definitely not going to let her into my apartment even though I had completed my COVID -- my vaccines. I was stuck in, in COVID land. And having this prescription from my doctor gave me the courage to let her in, just hugging, and hugging, and crying, and crying -- for the first time in a year.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, a lot we don't even not have get in.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I miss you too. I love you, guys.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love you too.



PAUL: That got me.


PAUL: I miss my mom and dad. But listen, let's give Saju (PH) a little love here. I know that you've seen this. He's proposing a national post-pandemic hug day once we reach 85 percent full vaccination marks.

So, he's got the information on his Twitter account, but Saju, great idea.

BLACKWELL: It has been so tough, and you and I have discussed this off-camera about not being able to see our parents.

PAUL: Yes.

BLACKWELL: And your parents in Ohio, and having to make the drive, and not wanting to fly. It's really -- and you know, I was not a fan of people just hugging me.

PAUL: You didn't hear us, they were saying, you should go next door and hug Victor because you know he doesn't like it.

BLACKWELL: You know, but I -- over this last year, I have really missed that expression. I haven't --

PAUL: Be -- just wait.

BLACKWELL: I snuck off and saw my mom in October and I would love to go back and just hug my mom again.

PAUL: I hope you can very soon.

BLACKWELL: And for you too. All right. Let's start the next hour.

PAUL: Yes.

BLACKWELL: Right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some of those first checks arriving in the bank accounts of Americans this weekend.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To every American watching, help is here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can we be hopeful that this is going to come to an end soon?