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New Day Saturday

Companies Begin Testing Coronavirus Vaccines On Children; U.S. Sets New Daily Record For Number Of Vaccines Administered; At Least 2 Killed, 8 Injured In Multiple Shootings In Virginia; Civil Rights Groups File Suit Over New Georgia Voting Law; Massive Cargo Ship Blocking Suez Canal Could Take Weeks To Free; Clean Up Begins After Tornadoes Kill Six Across The Southeast; 50+ Million People Under Severe Storm Threats Across The Southeast. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired March 27, 2021 - 07:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Biden saying his Justice Department is looking into the new sweeping Georgia law that restricts voting.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is nothing but punitive designed to keep people from voting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was election security bill that actually increases early voting opportunities on the weekend.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not only did this come from the big lie that Donald Trump told and followed record turnout among black voters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The CDC reporting nearly 3.4 million doses of vaccine administered since yesterday setting a new daily record.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not the time to let down our guard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We know what to do. We wait for science to rescue us. Science starts rescuing us, we start pulling back further.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The race is on to dislodge the giant container ship waged across the Suez Canal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Defense officials say the U.S. Navy is sending a team of dredging experts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The nightmare scenarios is the vessel breaks apart.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: the Atlanta fed president tells CNN that could cause temporary price spikes.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY WEEKEND, with Victor Blackwell and Christi Paul. CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Sun coming up there in Washington, D.C. as you look at the White House at 701 on this Saturday morning. We are so grateful for your company listen. If you received your coronavirus shot recently, you're part of the reason the nationwide campaign to vaccinate the country looks so good right now. COVID vaccines are being administered at a new record pace here in the U.S. which is inching closer to that goal of herd immunity.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, slow approach but getting closer. According to the White House COVID Response Team, more than 71 percent of the group most vulnerable to coronavirus people 65 and older have received at least one shot but there is a reminder of the race. We're still in. The director of the CDC says that she is deeply concerned about current trends and new cases and hospitalizations. And the US is stuck at an average of about 1000 COVID deaths each day. CNN's Polo Sandoval joins us now from the mass vaccination site in New York. And Polo, good news on the vaccine increasing that daily average of injections, but still, the numbers are concerning.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Victor was Dr. Anthony Fauci who said just this week that the U.S. is currently at the corner in terms of fighting the pandemic but not turning it yet, which certainly speaks to that growing call for authorities to continue with the mask wearing continue with the social distancing. But it's also important to recognize where to point out where we can also see these positive numbers that are coming in in terms of vaccinations that are being administered at this mass, mass vaccination site in midtown Manhattan getting ready for yet another busy day.


SANDOVAL (voice over): By now, over 137 million COVID-19 vaccines have gone into arms reports the CDC. That's a new record. With that and other promising stat from the White House Friday, which shows vaccinations are being administered at a new seven day average rate of about 2.6 million shots a day. It's the highest we've seen the White House's COVID-19 coordinator says there's a case for optimism, but not for relaxation.

JEFF ZEINTS, WHITE HOUSE COVID-19 RESPONSE COORDINATOR: This is not the time to let down our guard. We need to follow the public health guidance, wear a mask socially distance and get a vaccine when it's your turn.

SANDOVAL: About 27 percent of the country has done just that receiving at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine so far, nearly 15 percent of America's population is already fully vaccinated. A number likely to climb sharply as more states expand eligibility in the weeks ahead. You can see most of them have announced plans to make vaccinations available to everyone 16 and up no later than the beginning of May. North Carolina just one of the latest.

GOV. ROY COOPER (D-NC): So, we feel pretty good that by April 7th and the predictions of the supplies that we're going to get before then that we'll be able to handle it and get people vaccinated. What I'm concerned about is when the demand falls below the supply, and we're out working to try to get people vaccinated. Pfizer is setting sights on testing their vaccine safety and efficacy on five to 11-year-old children. Moderna continues similar trials in which to have this Arizona nurses' children are participating.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In my I'm doing this because I love them, and I want them to be safe. I want them to be able to go back to normal, and our kids to go back to normal at school.


SANDOVAL: Pfizer aiming to make their vaccine available for 12 to 15- year-olds by this fall. That's when Atlanta's public-school system plans to return to in person learning five days a week, the focus remains on vaccinating as many eligible people as possible with new case positivity rates in much of the country remaining stubbornly high. Michigan seeing among the highest infection rates in the country after experiencing a reprieve, and Vermont recorded to 51-year olds by this fall. That's when Atanta's pub infections yesterday, the highest single day total in that state since the pandemic started.


SANDOVAL (on camera): And you'll recall, the World Health Organization announced just last month that they would be launching an investigation to the origins of the virus and had noticed or at least had a revealed widespread infection in China's Hunan Province going back to December of 2019. Victor Christi, we're told that investigation is concluded that who now translating a massive report that was compiled and expected to release it in the coming days.

PAUL: Polo Sandoval, good to know. Thank you so much. Dr. Rossini Raj is with us now. She's an associate professor of medicine at NYU Langone Health. Dr. Raj, we appreciate your time. Thank you so much. I want to get to that. Some of the statistics that we were hearing there from Polo, that states are expanding their COVID-19 vaccinations to all adults that Pfizer is beginning its vaccine trials on children. Do you have any concerns about vaccinated vaccinating children at this point?

DR. ROSHINI RAJ, NYU LANGONE HEALTH: Well, I think this is actually one of the essential steps we need to take vaccinating children to achieve that herd immunity that we're all waiting for, you know, the, the idea that when we get about 90 percent of the population or close to that vaccinated, then we really see the virus start to die down and become dormant because it just has nowhere to go. There's no one to infect because everyone or most people are vaccinated. If you don't have children as part of that equation, we're not going to reach the 90 percent. So, I think it's actually very important to test and of course, make sure it's safe and effective on children, and then vaccinate them as soon as we can.

PAUL: We have a special coming up as Sanjay Gupta here from CNN has talked to so many of the doctors who were in charge of getting information and, and putting information out during the first few months, and then this whole past year, as we were battling COVID. I want to listen with you to what the former CDC Director Robert Redfield had to say to Sanjay.


ROBERT REDFIELD, FORMER CDC DIRECTOR: If I was to guess this virus started transmitting somewhere in September, October in Wuhan, September, October. That's my own view, it's an only opinion. I'm allowed to have opinions. Now, you know, I am of the point of view that I still think the most likely etiology of this pathogen and Wuhan was from a laboratory, you know, escaped out. Other people don't believe that that's fine. Science will eventually figure it out.


BREAM: What's your reaction to that?

RAJ: Well, we you know, with someone of that stature has that theory. Of course, it makes us all pause and wonder, I think it'll be very important and interesting to see the findings of the you know, WHO recent investigation into this? I mean, of course, one reaction is, if this was going on back in September, October, why were we not alerted sooner, and how many -- you know, hundreds of 1000s of lives could have been saved. But I think we just need to find out what the science actually, actually says.

PAUL: Sure, I want to ask you about something new that we're seeing now, what are being dubbed as vaccine passports, New Yorkers, we know now can pull something up on their cell phone that will show wherever they happen to be going to some event or a wedding or something in Madison Square gardens, that they have been vaccinated or that they are testing or that they tested recently negative for the virus. Do you see that is being a game changer and something that may at some point be mandated?

RAJ: Well, I do think it's going to be important to have some kind of very credible and easily verified proof that you've been vaccinated or you've had a recent tests because unfortunately, as we know, you know, there are many cases now with people fudging their -- their tests, maybe fudging the date or actually having a totally fake vaccine report.

So, we need to make sure things are actually tied to a central database. I actually downloaded my Excelsior pass, I live in New York, and I've been vaccinated. And you know, the reason I was able to do it is because they checked the database to make sure I was actually vaccinated. But we're going to need some centralization of this process. We can't have five different apps, or you know, every state has its own app and you can't kind of, you know, really match the two.

So, that's going to be a bit of a thorny issue and a logistical nightmare in some ways. But the other thing I want to point out is just because you've been vaccinated, it doesn't mean necessarily that you can't transmit coronavirus, get it and transmitted to someone else. So, we still have to be careful when you're around unvaccinated people and so this idea of a vaccine passport means you don't need to wear masks, you don't need to be careful and you don't need to worry about those around you. That's not true and I just want to make sure everyone understands that.


PAUL: such a good reminder because I think we do I've talked to a lot of people who have been vaccinated and feel like they've been freed, you know they're free now. Thank you so much for that reminder that was necessary. Dr. Roshini Raj, we appreciate you thank you.

RAJ: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: All right, let's take it to some news happening in Virginia Beach: two people are dead eight others are injured after a series of ocean front shootings. Now, eight people were heard of the original crime scene. Police are calling the situation chaotic. We know that the injuries ranged from serious to life threatening.

A police officer then shot and killed a man a few blocks away in a situation that police say was related to the original incident it's not clear if the man killed was responsible for the injuries of those eight victims and a woman we know was shot later and killed in a third shooting in that area and police don't believe it was related to the first two incidents a lot going on there Virginia beach police officer was hit by a car during this chaos he was taken to the hospital he's expected to survive

PAUL: We're going to talk about Georgia's sweeping new election law. President Biden is calling it quote Jim Crow in the 21st century. And now, he's calling on congress to do something

BLACKWELL: And later some developments in the boulder mass shooting, their authorities provide new details on how the suspect got his gun.



PAUL: Well, pressure is growing for Democrats to enact election reforms after Georgia passed this sweeping law that adds new restrictions on voting.

BLACKWELL: Yes, President Biden called the law an atrocity and a blatant attack on the constitution. It limits us to valid drop boxes and poses new id requirements for absentee voting makes it a crime to give people food and water we're waiting in line to vote. CNN White House Reporter Jasmine Wright joins us now. So, we know the president is ready to lay out this infrastructure proposal next week but as we said there's this growing pressure for him to do more on voting rights how the president, how's the White House navigating this?

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Victor, the White House is kind of in limbo right now. On one hand, we have President Biden who says that his Justice Department is taking a look at those restrictive measures coming out of Georgia, he himself slammed it he called it Jim Crow in the 21st century and had some harsh words on it to our own Kaitlin Collins yesterday at the White House.


BIDEN: It's an atrocity. The idea, if you want any indication, that has nothing to do with fairness, nothing to do with decency, they passed a law saying you can't provide water for people standing in line while they're waiting to vote? You don't need anything else to know that this is nothing but punitive designed to keep people from voting.


WRIGHT: On the other hand, there is no clear path forward for President Biden and the democrats because they do not have enough votes in the Senate to pass an elections reform bill. So, that brings us, Victor, to the filibuster. President Biden said voting rights is an issue that could bring him closer to trying to change that 60-vote threshold it needed in the Senate to pass major legislation.

But again, some members in his own party are not in favor of that and so it comes back to vote or frankly the lack of votes. And the options are looking kind of slim right now. So, President Biden says that he will take the case directly to the American people using this powerful building behind him that bully pulpit to make the case that this country needs voting rights to both Republicans and Democrats in the next few weeks. But before we see any push on that we are going to see him push for his next legislative really goal that infrastructure bill that big bill he will be rolling it out next week in Pennsylvania, Victor, Christi.

PAUL: Jasmine Wright, we appreciate it so much. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Thank you, Jasmine. Let's bring in now to discuss, Alice Stewart, a CNN Political Commentator and Republican Strategist, and Maria Cardona, CNN Political Commentator and Democratic Strategist for the coast of the podcast "Hot Mics" from left to right. Ladies, welcome back.



BLACKWELL: Maria, let me just start here where Jasmine left off, can the president, can this party, your party do anything at the federal level? Will they do anything to combat what we're seeing in states starting with Georgia and across the country as it relates to voting rights?

CARDONA: I think they're going to have to, Victor, especially if you see this trend continue. And we know that there have been more than 250 bills that have been filed at the state level to do exactly what Georgia and Iowa have done and that is to restrict voting rights, to suppress voters especially voters of color.

And so, yes, I do think that there's going to be mounting pressure on the White House on Democrats to pass something at the federal level to make sure that these laws -- and look President Biden was right they absolutely are Jim Crow laws and they do everything to keep voters of color from coming out and exercising their right and it screams.

BLACKWELL: You say -- I apologize for interrupting here, but you say that there is there's going to be increasing pressure. If you don't have the 60 votes to pass the house legislation in the Senate, and you don't even have enough Democrats who believe in or support any filibuster reform plan that's on the table from Democrats right now, what gets the Democrats to passing some legislation they can send to the White House?

CARDONA: Pressure from the American people, Victor? So, I agree with Joe Biden. I think his best move right now is to take this to the people. Look, this just passed last night, and so this is going to be something that is going to be a campaign issue all across the country.

You already have civil rights organizations that have filed multiple lawsuits against the Georgia law. And so, the more that you bring this to the American people, the American people are the ones who are going to be putting pressure on their lawmakers in all of the different states, Democrats and Republicans.

This should not just be a Democratic issue, Victor. This has got to be an issue that is of concern for all Americans. And that is the point that Joe Biden is going to make. And look at the end of the day, he doesn't see movement on this, then there could be pressure for the filibuster to change.


BLACKWELL: Go ahead, Alice.

STEWART: Look, I think it's really important to understand the goal of this Georgia law is to make the elections more transparent, more efficient, and more effective across the state. And keep in mind, Governor -- listen --

BLACKWELL: How do you -- go ahead, finish. I'm sorry. Go ahead. Go ahead.

STEWART: Governor Kemp and the constitutional officers in Georgia, Republicans mind you, got increasing heat and tension from President Trump, because they certify the election results. They acknowledged early on that President Trump lost Georgia and Joe Biden won Georgia. And so, to say that this is a way to help President Trump is quite laughable.

And what it actually does is it makes the election process more efficient. People saying they're restricting the ballot boxes, the drop boxes, the ballot drop boxes that were put in place for an executive order under Governor Kemp during COVID. And what this actually does, is certifies that the boxes are remaining in place, otherwise they would have gone away.

BLACKWELL: Or should put in them inside, though. In the point of having to drop boxes that can just drop by. If you put them inside, I'm not able to get to them at off hours. But let me ask you about this concept that this is extending or offering the franchise had probably less of a restriction. You had record turnout and you've got strong ties to Georgia, Alice. You know this. Record turnout in the primary. Record turnout in the general. Record turnout in the runoff. No widespread fraud. Why change anything? Isn't that what every state is trying to reach?

STEWART: Oh, absolutely. And look, yes --

BLACKWELL: So, what's the argument for changing anything from 2020?

STEWART: To make it more transparent and more efficient and more effective. And as I said, the, the drop boxes are a key provision of this --

BLACKWELL: And you want to make it more efficient and more effective. You had record turnout in three consecutive elections with no massive fraud. Isn't that the endpoint?

STEWART: The goal here, Victor, as I continued to say, I was on the ground in Georgia back in December. I saw the people coming out. There are certain components of the election process that did need to be addressed. I've said earlier --

BLACKWELL: Like, giving them water?

STEWART: There was no, there was no widespread voter fraud in Georgia, there was none whatsoever. But there were areas that needed to be addressed. And that's exactly what these lawmakers are. As for handing out water, as for handing out water, election workers can hand out water while voters are in line.

BLACKWELL: But why make it a crime for volunteers to come up and give people water? Listen --

STEWART: Election volunteers can give water. Election volunteers can give water.

BLACKWELL: Alice, they are running the election. Alice, they are running the election, so they have jobs, right? People who are volunteering just to help people who were standing in line, and let's remember where these people are standing in line? In Gwinnett, in DeKalb, in Cobb, in Fulton, where there are majority black voters or a large number of black voters, the concentration of voters who put President Biden into the White House. So, the eight-hour lines are not often in the other 156 counties in this state. To give somebody water you make that a crime.

STEWART: I think this that aspect of this bill was not necessary. The key is what they wanted to make sure was that people were not giving out food and water to people in line that had a political message. That was the goal. So, what they did instead was to completely eliminate people working on a campaign or with a political message or agenda.

BLACKWELL: It says anyone. I've got the bill up right here. Let's just be clear, but I want to get back, I want to get back to another topic I want to get to immigration. But let me just read from the bill. No -- it says that no person shall solicit votes and goes on to say nor shall any person give, offer or participate in the giving of money, food gifts, not limited to food and drink to an elector.

So, it's not just people with campaigns. I can't walk up and give a person who is standing and walk in line for eight hours, a bottle of water. It is a misdemeanor. Let me go to immigration and come to you Maria on this. I want to listen to the president and an exchange over transparency. The Trump administration was criticized for not allowing people to see inside some of the border facilities back in 2018. Here's what President Biden said about allowing the American people to see what's happening at the CBP facilities along the border.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's to be able to have access to the facilities. We've obviously been allowed to be inside one, but we haven't seen the facilities in which children are packed together to really give the American people a chance to see that. Will you commit to transparency on this issue?

BIDEN: I will commit to transparency and soon as I am in a position to be able to implement what we're doing right now.


BLACKWELL: I'll let you see it after I cleaned it up. How was that a commitment to transparency, Democrats were livid when there were descriptions of kids in cages and that the, the administration the Trump administration would not let cameras inside, how was that acceptable?

CARDONA: He should let people in, absolutely. I think that he absolutely should let the media in as soon as possible but, but there's a big difference in what happened under trump and what is happening under President Biden. What happened under Trump were policies that were specifically put in by his administration to hurt the families that were coming here, to separate children from their mothers we heard the nightmare stories.

President Biden is trying to fix all of that and the fact of the matter is, is that President Trump one of the other things that they did that that administration did was completely eviscerate any infrastructure that could have been used to house these families and these children safely. That is what president Biden is trying to fix. He needs to do it very quickly and then he needs to let the media in immediately. I absolutely agree that he needs to be more transparent on that and he agreed and promised that he's going to --

BLACKWELL: So, you agree with the "let me clean it up first and then I'll show you what's happening?" You agree with the let me clean it up first and then I'll let you in approach? CARDONA: I think his priority needs to be the safety of these children and that's what he's doing, that's what he's focused on, that's what he's changing. He needs to, he needs to make sure that the horrendous policies that were in place before are no longer there and that he's able to put up the infrastructure that he was enabled to before he was president.

BLACKWELL: But you can do both of those, you can change policy and let the American people see what is being done in their name. Alice, good ahead.

CARDONA: Going to do that as soon as possible.

STEWART: The takeaway, the takeaway is that there is something that needs to be cleaned up before they will allow for full transparency. And look, if he wants to roll back the Trump-era policies at the border, he's certainly welcome to do so but he did so way too quickly. And I'll agree with President Biden, he was Mr. Nice Guy.

CARDONA: I'm glad he did that.

STEWART: People came to this country because that they saw that he was going to be welcoming to them, that's why they came here and caravans with their Biden t-shirt.

CARDONA: That's not why they came here.

STEWART: But you are going to incentivize these people to come to this country, you need to be prepared for them and they were there --


BLACKWELL: Alice, what do you mean incentivize? Asylum is a legal process that is afforded under U.S. law. What's the incentive here?

STEWART: Incentivize them by coming here. He campaigned on and transitioned into this White House and has led in this White House by acknowledging that this administration will be more welcoming than the previous administration. That is all well and good, but when you don't have a plan in place to process these families at the border, you end up with what we have right now, which is a crisis of --

CARDONA: I need to respond, Victor.

BLACKWELL: Quickly. 15 seconds.

CARDONA: What Biden said was that he was going to put in more humane policies that will equal our American values. That does not mean that he was welcoming people to come in here. What it does mean is that he was going to put in place the asylum laws that President Trump eviscerated. People do not come here because her president is nice; people come here because they are desperate for a chance at a life, not a better life, a chance to survive.

BLACKWELL: Maria Cardona, Alice Stewart, I enjoyed that. Thank you both. CARDONA: Thank you, Victor.

BLACKWELL: That's a podcast right there.

CARDONA: There you go.

BLACKWELL: That's a podcast. Thanks so much

PAUL: Yes, it is. It's always good with those two. OK, still ahead, the tanker, the size of the empire state building, think about that, the size of the empire state building is blocking the Suez Canal, and it could be there now, we hear for weeks. We're going to go to Egypt for the latest on this incredible challenge.



PAUL: 33 minutes past the hour. There's an unprecedented situation unfolding at one of the world's busiest waterways, and this has affecting shipments around the globe now.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): Right now, a massive $224,000-ton shipping vessel is stock in the Suez Canal in Egypt, as at least 200 other ships are just waiting for that blockage to be cleared.

PAUL: It's delaying shipments of consumer goods from Asia that are headed to the U.S. and agricultural products moving in the opposite direction.

BLACKWELL: Along with disruptions already happening before this, billions of dollars are being added to supply chain cause, which could mean higher prices for you, or possible shortages in days to come.

CNN's Ben Wedeman has more on this.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The race is on to dislodge the giant container ship wedged across the Suez Canal since Tuesday. The Canal authority estimates up to 20,000 cubic meters of sand and mud need to be removed to refloat the ship.


WEDEMAN: As dredging work continues. A fleet of tugboats stand by hoping high tide will provide the vital window in which to free the carrier.

Almost as long as The Empire State Building is tall, the Ever Given got stuck during a sandstorm and 40-knot winds.

Blocking a crucial supply chain that waves around 12 percent of global trade through the quickest maritime link between Asia and Europe. SAL MERCOGLIANO, MARITIME HISTORIAN: The potential for this is to magnify, and you know, this goes on for a long period of time. Worst case scenario, this goes on for a month to clear the vessel. You know, that's going to cause a massive disruption in the economy.

We saw what happened in -- with a global recession, almost that took place in early COVID, when all of the sudden, we were not able to move goods in a -- in a clear efficient way.

WEDEMAN: Roughly, 30 percent of all global container volume transits daily through the 120-mile waterway, carrying vital fuel and cargo.

Incoming ships will now be made to anchor in waiting areas in the Red Sea and Mediterranean. More than 200 vessels are backed up in either direction with more than 100 on-route over the weekend. Their only alternative is to divert around the southern tip of Africa adding about a week to the journey.

Japanese shipping companies Shoei Kisen KK, who own the Ever Given, told CNN they're bracing for lawsuits, but insist their priority right now is refloating the ship possibly as early as Saturday.


WEDEMAN (on camera): And time is of the essence as data from the shipping expert Lloyd's List suggests nearly $10 billion worth of goods is disrupted every day, raising the question, who will bear the cost?

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Cairo.

BLACKWELL: Coming up, President Biden threatens to take action against North Korea. If Kim Jong-un continues to escalate tensions after a series of missile launches this week. I will take a look at how the president could respond next.



BLACKWELL: So, President Biden is, as we discussed, facing a lot of diplomatic hurdles and foreign policy decisions in the coming weeks. He's up against a May 1st deadline to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan, a deadline that the president concedes will be hard to meet.

There's also North Korea which carried out two missile tests this week, also warned of more in the days ahead. Now, the president warned that there would be quick responses if North Korea continues its tests.

Let's bring in now Kimberly Dozier, CNN global affairs analyst, and contributor for Time magazine. Kimberly, good morning to you.

KIMBERLY DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST (on camera): Good morning, Victor. BLACKWELL: So, you say when North Korea wants attention, they launch these missile tests. The president sees this as a kind of missile tantrum, but he promised that there would be a response if they keep at it. Watch.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're consulting with our allies and partners. And there will be responses if they choose to escalate. We will respond accordingly.


BLACKWELL: So, that seems like he's walking away from the Obama administration strategy of strategic patience. What's on the table potentially?

DOZIER: Well, I think you could see something like stepped-up exercises -- the military exercises that the Biden administration is already restarted with South Korea, that irritate the North so much.

You also might see more moves at the U.N. Security Council by the U.S. to try to increase sanctions pressure on Pyongyang. But I don't think you're going to see anything like a fire and fury response. The Biden administration knows that you don't have a lot of options with the North.

One of the main countries that they normally use to discipline North Korea is China, and China isn't in a mood to compromise much or make things easy for Washington right now.

On the other hand, China doesn't want the North to get out of control. So, the Biden administration may have to rely long term on Beijing, telling Pyongyang, we don't want you to push things too far just because of Beijing's own interests, not because it does anything for the Biden administration.

BLACKWELL: And that actually puts North Korea in China's hand. It is their card because that statement that came out on Monday in which there was a cooperation between Kim and Xi on, you know, keeping -- I'm paraphrasing here, are moving forward in diplomacy on the peninsula.

It looks as if when the president says that he is going to pressure China to put some -- to influence North Korea, it's actually China that is using North Korea to try to pressure the U.S.

DOZIER: Exactly. In the past, every time the North has launched these missiles, there have been some harsh words, especially behind closed doors between Washington and Beijing. Because Washington feels like Beijing has such control over Kim Jong-un.


DOZIER: Whether that's necessarily the case, that is the perception. And it also serves the Biden administration, well, right now in terms of its messaging, mostly to the American public and to the Republicans that it's going to be tough on China. That it sends this kind of missives out to the world and to Beijing.

BLACKWELL: You know, before the pandemic, Kim Jong-un was a dictator about town. I mean, he was meeting with President Moon of South Korea, with Putin, with Xi in China. I wonder now if having that experience leaving North Korea means that kind of ignoring and not having any public diplomatic exchange with North Korea is an option for the U.S.

I mean, maybe not returning to those multilateral talks soon, but can the Biden administration have a hands-off, no communication publicly, strategy with Kim Jong-un?

DOZIER: You know, the thing is that's a little bit dangerous because one of the things that Kim Jong-un feels right now is a sense of bitterness. You've been able to get so far with the Trump administration.

President Trump had even agreed to the North Korean statement of future denuclearization of the entire Korean Peninsula. Now, this might sound like diplomatese but it's important. That means not just the North giving up its nuclear weapons, but also the U.S. withdrawing its nuclear umbrella that's now protecting the South.

The administration has come in, and immediately said, no, no, no, no, we want denuclearization of the North, we're not promising anything about what we're going to do in the South, and that has been a reset that has really upset Kim Jong-un.

BLACKWELL: All right. Kimberly Dozier, thanks so much for being with us this morning.

DOZIER: Thank you.


PAUL: So, we have these deadly storms that slammed the south. One Alabama woman is pointing out to this cross, you see it there. She calls it a miracle. We'll tell you her story, still ahead.



PAUL: There's a slew of recovery efforts going on right now after 23 tornadoes formed across the southeast between Thursday night and Friday morning.

BLACKWELL: Yes, six people are dead, some communities have been -- look at this, badly damaged. But there's one sign of hope that has emerged. Here is CNN's Derek Van Dam.

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN INTERNATIONAL WEATHER ANCHOR (voice-over): Violent tornadoes leaving a trail of devastation across the southern U.S. and leaving communities in shambles. In Birmingham, Alabama, roofs, torn off of homes, some others ripped from their foundation, and residents like Dena Cook left racing to protect precious memories.


DENA COOK, RESIDENT, EAGLE POINT: I didn't even think. I couldn't -- I couldn't think that -- I mean, it's just -- I really couldn't think past that moment. I didn't think about what was gone, I just wanted to get all my pictures out of the house.

VAN DAM: Others just remembering the precious lives lost.

KELVIN BOWERS, LOST HOUSE AND FAMILY: And it's terrible, man. Like to know my family was in this stuff like they gone.

VAN DAM: Shelby County search and rescue teams described the damage as catastrophic, with the twisters indiscriminately destroying homes while leaving others untouched.

After the storms cleared, providing a short break for residents, the cleanup process has begun. But unfortunately, this will be short-lived for another round of severe weather as possible this weekend across parts of the same region. Locals became volunteers helping those hardest-hit by providing basic necessities to get through this natural disaster.

With all the heartache that has been witnessed here, a glimmer of hope as we approach the week of Easter. This cross and this purple scarf remaining virtually untouched as homes were destroyed around it.

After riding out the storm in her closet, Cook noticed and rearranged the scarf out of respect, a truly symbolic image for believers who observe lent. Cook says she may have lost the roof over her head, but she has not lost her faith.

COOK: And my cross is still there because God was with all of these people, and us.

VAN DAM: I'm CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam, reporting in Birmingham.


PAUL: Wow and thank you so much to all of those folks who are out there volunteering and helping people who, who really need it right now. And on that note, there are some 50 million people who are right now under severe storm threats across the southeast. We're talking about large hail, tornadoes, damaging winds. Those are expected in Tennessee, Arkansas, and Mississippi.

BLACKWELL: Allison Chinchar is with us now for a look from the CNN Weather Center. What should they be prepared for and when?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, the unfortunate part is a lot of them were getting out, they're trying to do cleanup from what happened just a few days ago. And the key thing is they're going to have to keep notice of the forecast in case they have to go inside and seek shelter yet again. The main focus for today in terms of severe weather is going to be across those states you mentioned, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, but then it spreads over the next 24 hours farther to the east, hitting a lot of the same states that were just hit less than 48 hours ago.

The main threats for today will still include a few tornadoes, large hail, damaging winds. This includes cities like Nashville, Memphis, Little Rock, Huntsville, Alabama stretching down toward Jackson, Mississippi.

Notice again, we already have some showers actively right now across the Memphis greater area, but that's going to continue to spread off to the east as we go through the afternoon and especially into the evening hours.


CHINCHAR: By the overnight time frame now, you're starting to talk cities like Atlanta, Charlotte. Raleigh starting to see some of that activity push in as we go into Sunday. A slightly lower threat for tomorrow but not zero. And I emphasize that because there is still the potential for some damaging winds, isolated tornadoes, and even hail across this area stretching from the mid-Atlantic, all the way back through the deep south for tomorrow.

Another concern too is the flooding, because a lot of these storms are going to what we call train, that they're going to go over the same spots over and over again. Widespread, Victor and Christi. Four inches of rain. Some spots could pick up six inches total before the system moves out.

PAUL: Wow, thank you for the heads up. Allison Chinchar, appreciate it.

And the next hour of your NEW DAY starts after the break.