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New Day Saturday

Memorial Day Weekend Tests Relaxed Restrictions In U.S.; America On The Move: AAA Expects 37M Travelers This Holiday Weekend; Fallen Officers Family: GOP Sens. Are All Talk And No Action. Aired 8- 9a ET

Aired May 29, 2021 - 08:00   ET



JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER: The potting soil allows air and water to circulate better and if you are lucky enough to have outdoor space, a raised garden bed allows you to pack a small space full of nutritious fruits and veggies. Now dig in.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: Good morning and welcome to your new day. I'm Boris Sanchez.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN HOST: Good morning Boris and good morning to you. I'm Christi Paul. COVID cases falling, millions of people venturing out of their bubbles here this Memorial Day weekend. what that says about not only the pandemic, but the U.S. economy as well.

SANCHEZ: Plus, all talk no action. Loved ones of fallen Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick speak exclusively to CNN after the senate blocks a bill that would have investigated the deadly insurrection.

PAUL: And we have new details for you about the gunman in that deadly shooting in San Jose this week, what police found when they searched his home.

SANCHEZ: And meet the teenagers taking their health into their own hands, finding ways to get vaccinated even if their parents don't want them to. I'm so grateful to have you with us for the start of this Memorial Day weekend. It's Saturday, May 29. Christi, always a pleasure to see you.

PAUL: Always a pleasure to see you as well Boris as - especially since we're kicking off the start to summer here, right? We are here but people are on the move all over the place because it's the first holiday weekend where fully vaccinated people can take advantage of the CDC guidelines that say now, guess what? It is safe to celebrate at beaches, at barbecues, without fear of getting yourself or somebody else sick.

SANCHEZ: Beaches and barbecues, music to my ears, especially considering where we were a year ago. Remember that summer surge that followed Memorial Day. This year though the pace of vaccinations expected to prevent a repeat. More than 133 million people in the United States now fully vaccinated and another 166 million plus have had at least one dose of the vaccine. The President says the light at the end of the tunnel is not a fluke.

Biden's saying we're closer than ever to a post pandemic life.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Americans of every party, every race creed, have come together and rolled up their sleeves literally and done their part and look at what that means. We're not just saving lives. We're getting our lives back.


SANCHEZ: And that means hitting the road. CNNs Polo Sandoval is that LaGuardia Airport in New York. Polo, it looks like Americans are gathering and traveling in numbers we haven't seen literally in more than a year. how busy is it where you are now.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And Boris, the big hope is that those who are leaving their bubbles after all this time, that are stretching their travel legs are those are fully vaccinated. But to answer your question, it is very likely that those people who are hitting the road Boris, they're probably going to see some of those crowds that are taking us back to a pre-pandemic era.

Here at LaGuardia things are relatively smooth right now but elsewhere it is extremely busy as that post vaccine confidence builds, the volume of passengers continues to increase and that's going to put not only airlines but airports to the test this weekend.


SANDOVAL: Americans are back on the move. Fast just over 40 percent of the country is now fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is great to be out and about.

SANDOVAL: That traveler in Atlanta has plenty of company this Memorial Day weekend. AAA estimates more than 37 million others are hitting the road for the holiday. That's a 60 percent increase from what we saw during a pandemic ravaged 2020. Robert Sinclair from AAA expects what we're seeing this weekend is a promising sign of what's to come this summer.

ROBERT SINCLAIR, AAA: A lot of pent-up demand. People locked up at home for more than a year. We're seeing that people really want to get out and travel, the so-called revenge travel, where people were able to save a lot of money because they weren't traveling to work last year. And so, they're going to places, they're staying longer and doing more things and spending more money.

SANDOVAL: And more of that money, maybe going to airfare with some clear estimating tickets increased about 19 percent in April compared to last year. And if you're driving to your destination, it may not have been that much cheaper. The average cost of gas is hovering at about $3 a gallon. That's a seven year high. On Friday, the White House said that's not unusual given increased

demand. But whatever the price to fly or drive, Americans seem to be happy to pay it if it means getting back to normal.

MARSHA CROSSON, TRAVELER: I did not travel for the last year. And so I'm very grateful to be traveling this year.

SHAVAR REYNOLDS, TRAVELER: It's good to just kind of get some normalcy back. You know many people get to travel and I know people was going crazy being inside.

SANDOVAL: It may be a return to a pre-pandemic norm for many Americans, but it will also be a big test with more than half of the nation still unvaccinated. Health officials will be looking to see if we'll avoid a post-holiday COVID-19 search now that mask and social distancing restrictions have been eased.


SANDOVAL: Now remember, if you're going to be adding to the masses today and hitting the road, don't forget to pack that mask. Remember federal law still requires that travelers wear them when they're using public transportation.


And of course, includes if you're going to be flying and that's where there's a little bit of concern too Boris and Christi because that could potentially lead to some conflicts, especially for those people who haven't been traveling this whole time, and not quite used to wearing these.

SANCHEZ: We've already seen too many videos of passengers battling with flight attendants and such. Let's hope it's a peaceful weekend. Polo Sandoval from La Guardia. Thank you so much. As cases drop and travel booms, President Biden is celebrating this weekend, hitting the road himself to tout America's progress against COVID.

PAUL: Jasmine Wright is live in Wilmington, Delaware. That's where the President spending this holiday weekend. So, Jasmine, I'm sorry you're standing in the rain. You do it beautifully, though. We would not know it if it weren't for hearing it behind you. But we know that the President made this big speech yesterday as he's you know, trying to turn the corner from the pandemic. Talk to us about what's still resonating about that message this morning.

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, it was a message grounded in hope and optimism, Christi and Boris. And that's not something that Americans expected to hear this time last year. Frankly, what I expected to hear this time last year, but it shows just how far the country has come in the last year.

So, President Biden yesterday in Northern Virginia, he celebrated the declining COVID cases and the rise in vaccination rates. Take a listen.


BIDEN: Four months after I took office, we're further along in this fight than any possible. Let's remember what we were 129 days ago. When I took office, we were averaging 184,000 cases per day nationwide. In so many joys of life, large or small, I've been haunted by a long, dark winter.

And today, we've gone from 184,000 cases per day nationwide to fewer than 22 cases - 22,000 cases per day. Deaths have dropped by over 85 percent. 10s of 1000s of moms and dads, grandpas and grandmas, brothers, sisters, neighbors, friends are still with us today who would otherwise have been lost.


WRIGHT: So President Biden also used this time to encourage Americans to get their vaccines if they haven't yet. Get those shots into arms of the White House announced a significant milestone this week saying that 50 percent - more than 50 percent of adult Americans have been fully vaccinated.

Now, of course, officials want that number to rise. They have identified the number 116 million adults by July 4, that's the target that they want to head. But one thing that they have to worry about as Americans kind of start to return to normal and hit the road are high gas prices. And we know that is tricky for any administration.

So, looking to get ahead of it, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki tried to spin it in an optimistic way. In a statement, she said, "The administration's success in beating the pandemic and getting our economy back on track has led to increased demand for gas as the country reopens. But while prices have increased from the lows last year, as demand drastically dipped, prices at just about $3 per gallon are still well in line with what they have been in recent decades."

So Biden this weekend as we talked about will hit the road despite some of this more dreary weather tomorrow. We'll see him give remarks at a Memorial Day service here in Delaware. On Monday, we will see him back in Arlington where he will participate in a wreath laying ceremony at the tomb of an unknown soldier at the cemetery. Christi, Boris.

PAUL: All right, Jasmine Wright, thank you so much. And listen, you may have to curb your enthusiasm on that perfect beach weather weekend because Jasmine's weather behind her pretty much summed up what a lot of us are going to see. Showers, thunderstorms across the Northeast in the Mid Atlantic.

SANCHEZ: Yes, meteorologist Allison Chinchar is in the CNN Weather Center. And Alison, for some of us, not the sort of grilling weather, we'd hope to see this holiday weekend.

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I mean sure, maybe you'll get like a 10-minute break, you can run out to the grill and back inside. But yes, overall, it's going to be a little soggy for many folks. And then also in turn may cause some delays at some airports. So if you have some travel plans today, please make sure you check with your airline carrier to see because up and down the East Coast, you're going to be dealing with showers and even some thunderstorms.

We also have a separate system that's in the western portion of the country that will be looking at the potential for strong to severe thunderstorms as well. Let's begin where it's raining now and that's up and down the eastern seaboard, Boston, New York, Washington DC, even stretching down into the Carolinas. They're looking at some of those showers.

This is likely going to continue for the rest of the day today because you have not one but two different waves kind of riding, this front that's located here. So overall the heaviest rain will be focused along the coastal regions where you could pick up about two to four inches total.


But even farther inland, you're still going to be looking maybe up to around one inch of rain total. If that wasn't enough, you also have temperatures that are way below where they should be this time of year. Take a look at this Boston, New York, Albany, all 20 degrees below normal for their highs. A lot of these places will be lucky to even make it into the mid or low to mid 50s for their high temperatures for today.

But there is light at the end of the tunnel. Give it a few more days. By the time we get to actual Memorial Day, these temperatures are expected to rebound a little bit closer to normal. Detroit going from 63 to 74 on Monday. St. Louis starts to warm up at least on Sunday, all the others it will take at least until we get towards Monday including Washington, DC. Christi and Boris, that goes from the 50s all the way back into the 70s finally by Memorial Day.

PAUL: All righty, Allison Chinchar, thanks for the heads up as always.

SANCHEZ: So it's widely believed that COVID-19 first began in Wuhan, China but how it began is the subject of heated debate. Up next, what we know about the origins of Coronavirus.

PAUL: And listen, teenagers are taking their health, it seems into their own hands. How they're finding ways to get vaccinated even if their parents don't agree and encouraging others they say, they are to do the same.




PAUL: 15 minutes past the hour on this Saturday morning and President Biden has ordered the intelligence community to redouble its efforts to uncover the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.

SANCHEZ: New evidence is already raising questions about what China knew and when. CNN's David Culver has more.


DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President Biden ordering U.S. intelligence to dig deeper into the origin of COVID-19, putting renewed focus on the Chinese city where it was first publicly detected, Wuhan. The White House says there are two possible origin theories.

The first, unnatural spread from animals to humans, possibly amplified inside this once crowded Wuhan seafood market. The second and far more controversial possibility, a leak of the deadly virus from this Wuhan lab.

JAMIE METZI, ADVISER, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: We know that China engaged a massive cover up starting from day one involved - including destroying samples, hiding records imprisoning people asking - in China asking basic questions and placing a gag order.

CULVER: It has been well over a year since the initial outbreak and still no conclusive answers. Former President Trump made claims last spring that it started in the Wuhan Institute of Neurology lab, but never provided evidence. The Chinese along with many scientists dismissed Trump's lab leak theory as a conspiracy.

President Biden took office supporting an international approach in investigating the origin. This week three sources familiar with the matter tell CNN that Biden also shut down at Trump State Department inquiry into the origins over concerns about the quality of the evidence. But now with newly reported Intel, there are new questions of what China knew and when.

The Wall Street Journal reporting this week that a U.S. Intel report found that several researchers at the Wuhan lab got so sick, they had to go to the hospital in November 2019. That is weeks before China reported the first patient with COVID like symptoms to the WHO. It has led to mounting pressure on the Biden administration to find answers.

In January of this year, we were in Wuhan as the WHO sent a field team into China to investigate, visiting the now shuttered market, once believed to have been the original Ground Zero. It's since been wiped clean. We drove by the Wuhan Institute of Virology, heavily secured, and despite multiple requests, we were not granted access to enter.

This was as close as we got. The WHO scientists however, were allowed in. Their conclusion that it's very likely the virus spread naturally from animals. And that a lab leak was extremely unlikely.

VOICE OF DR. PETER DASZAK, WHO MISSION EXPERT: There's no evidence of that at all. But it is something that we talked about with people in Wuhan lab and got really honest and frank and good, informative answers too.

CULVER: But that's the issue with the WHO investigation. According to some of the scientists who took part. It relied mostly on conversations with the Chinese scientists, taking them at their word. Some of the experts complain China has blocked them from crucial data. And those like Peter Daszak have been criticized for their personal ties to the Wuhan lab, having helped fund and take part in research in the facility before the outbreak.

Virologist Marion Koopmans was among the WHO team in Wuhan in January. She's careful to characterize the team's work as research gathering, not as an inspection. She also welcomes Biden's efforts to get more intel on the origins, hoping he'll share the findings.

PROF. MARION KOOPMANS, WHO FIELD TEAM MEMBER: So if there's really something to it, well, then it needs to be followed up.

CULVER: Meantime, China is pushing back with its own narrative calling the U.S. efforts a smear campaign.

Their motive is vicious, their spokesperson says. Chinese officials have relentlessly pushed an unfounded conspiracy that the virus began in the U.S. but there's no evidence of that. Chinese state media has labeled the virus as an imported threat, even basically suggesting it came from outside China on frozen foods.

From the chaos and confusion of the initial outbreak to the surge and panic as the number of deaths soared and the virus spread to hopes that vaccines might bring us back to life pre COVID-19, we are still left with the question. How did all this really begin? Christi, Boris.



SANCHEZ: Thanks to David Culver in Shanghai for that. Let's dig deeper now with former Department of Homeland Security, Assistant Secretary and CNN National Security Analyst, Juliette Kayyem. Juliet, always a pleasure to have you on. Thanks for sharing part of your weekend with us, of course.

President Biden now demanding a report on the origins of COVID-19 to be completed within the next 90 days. Given the complexities of the case and China's stonewalling, is it going to be possible to get substantial answers in that timeframe?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, FMR DHS ASSISTANT SECRETARY: I think it will be possible at the very least to begin to, I would say, reject some theories. In other words, there's so much information out there right now that at least we can get to theories of the case. And they may be inconclusive, it may be that we don't know, in 90 days, was it the lab leak or was it a market.

I should say is, as was reported, the proponent - preponderance of the evidence still suggests that it was a wet market, but there is plenty of evidence to suggest something, maybe something happened. And so I know it's really hard for people to do this and I've been cautioning in writing and online.

This is one where patience really matters, because the consequences of getting it wrong, in terms of foreign relations, in terms of health security, in terms of the future of pandemic preparedness, are really consequential. And so a deep breath in some ways, and we wait.

SANCHEZ: Yes, I'm glad you brought up the point about patients because the potential consequences are enormous. Dating back to the last administration, there were officials, very publicly, President Trump, the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, that leaned into that theory that Coronavirus leaked from the Wuhan lab. Have you seen any evidence that would dismiss that?

KAYYEM: No, not fully. I mean, in other words, that - the problem of the - of the Trump - of President Trump throughout the pandemic was because everything was so politicized, you can't just take this comment about what he said about the Wuhan lab outside of the context of everything going on him, him going after governors, him saying to take these drugs and not that drugs.

Everything was so politicized, that that there was a political counter reaction to it may be understandable. I mean, that people thought that can't possibly be true. He just simply was not a valid narrator for a lot of things, but certainly, for COVID. I think what is interesting is the focus on the sick lab workers in November. I think the Genesis story is important, it will - ironically, it will probably require us if we learn that it came from a lab to work more cooperatively with China rather than aggressively.

We're not going to war over this. We're not - I mean, we need to work with nations in terms of transparency, in terms of protecting labs. But the one thing that is frustrating is that if true, frustrating is probably the wrong word, is damning, is that if China knew in November, think about what four or six weeks of the world knowing in terms of preparedness would have meant.

I mean, in other words, that's - that's well, before early January, when the world started to wake up that we had had a pandemic. Those six weeks, who knows what could have happened. But when you're fighting a pandemic, one of your few tools is time. Right? Is that you actually have time to prepare as this thing is coming.

That I think is in some ways, the when in some ways is as significant as the where.

SANCHEZ: Yes, that time could have meant difference between life and death for so many people.


SANCHEZ: I'm curious about your perspective on the cooperation with China, because as it stands right now, according to a Biden administration official speaking to CNN, their effort to get to the origins of COVID, have been, quote, primarily focused on rallying pressure and support for the World Health Organization's investigation to be transparent, and fulsome.

The WHO hasn't been that effective in getting answers beyond just taking the word of the Chinese scientists. So how does the White House in this situation balance cooperating with China to get information and pressuring China to open its doors to investigators? KAYYEM: Right. So with every challenge comes an opportunity. And this is where I think the Biden administration has one. The World Health Organization has - has a lot to account for not just with COVID, but I think over the last 20 or 30 years, it is - it has made itself completely dependent on countries' narratives.

There has got to be a better way. We have structures that - that can do that in terms of transparency, in terms of carrots and sticks with member nations to get them to be more transparent. I think in the end, the story will be as much about China as it is about fixing the WHO. [08:25:00]

I've been following and studying the WHO for a long time, it tends to react in the exact opposite of the way it reacted before. So in other words, it either - either swings in terms of screaming from the hilltops like H1N1, or it seems really passive as it did with COVID. There's got to be a better medium. And I think the United States is the only country that can do that. And other countries will certainly welcome it. So this will be an effort.

But the idea that I just said the idea that - I mean just to say the idea that there's some hostility, that the reaction to learning that happened in the lab is going to be the solution is conflict with China is the exact opposite. The solution is going to be we have countries that have to be more transparent, and we have to find ways to get them to be more transparent. And that's going to take cooperation more than antagonism.

SANCHEZ: Yes, it certainly doesn't ease tensions, right?


SANCHEZ: And now what's expected to be the story of the century, the conflict between a rising power in China and the established one in the United States? Juliette Kayyem, we have to leave it there. Always appreciate the perspective.

KAYYEM: Thank you for having me.

SANCHEZ: Thanks.

PAUL: So the mother of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who was killed an insurrection on January 6 says, she's not surprised there won't be a bipartisan commission to investigate the riot that led to her son's death.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We knew they weren't sincere. They weren't sincere.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And they didn't want to get to the bottom of what happened.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, no, and I don't understand it. I - we - they are elected for us, the people and they don't care about that. (END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: You'll hear more in moments. Stay close.




PAUL: We're learning some new information about the gunman in the mass shooting in San Jose, California. Huge cache of weapons was found in the home of this man, 57-year old Samuel Cassidy.

SANCHEZ: Yes, now authorities are saying the shooting that took nine lives was planned in advance. CNN's Dan Simon reports.


DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The shooter here in San Jose had three semiautomatic handguns in his possession when he carried out the mass shooting. He also had 32 high capacity magazines. The guns were purchased legally the magazines are illegal in California.

But in addition to those weapons, we're learning that he also had an incredible amount of weaponry stashed at his home. The Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office releasing some stunning photos, showing the items that were collected at the home. They include multiple cans of gasoline, suspected Molotov cocktails, at least 12 more guns and 22,000 rounds of ammunition, 22,000 rounds.

And it is believed that the shooter took some of that ammo, put it in a pot, put it on the stove, surrounded that pot with some accelerants and then started the stove. And that's ultimately what caused the home to set on fire. Now at this point, there's no definitive motive in terms of what led the shooter to carry out this shooting but one thing that we are learning, one theme that has emerged is that this is somebody who is highly disgruntled, very upset with his workplace.

You take all of that uncontrollable rage, you mix it with easy access to weapons and then unfortunately you have the recipe for the kind of mass shooting that we saw unfold on Wednesday. Dan Simon, CNN, San Jose, California.


SANCHEZ: Those killed ranged in age from 29 to 63. Authorities say the shooter targeted these nine victims and a witness told CNN affiliate KGO that he bypassed certain people during the shooting.

PAUL: Well, House Democrats are expected to launch a select committee to investigate the January 6 insurrection after a bill to form a bipartisan commission failed. Now the attack on the Capitol, remember left five people dead, 140 police officers were injured.

Democrats and Republicans negotiated for months on the details with Democrats giving Republicans really everything they wanted. But yesterday just six Republicans joined Democrats voting 54 to 35 to form that commission. The bill needed 60 votes to advance.

11 senators including two Democrats didn't even vote, didn't even bother to show up to vote.

SANCHEZ: Now supporters of January 6 commission pleaded with Republican senators ahead of that vote yesterday. Two Capitol Police officers and the mother and partner of Brian Sicknick who passed away after the January 6, attempted insurrection, went to Capitol Hill and met with Republican senators ahead of the vote. Sicknick's family say they are disappointed but not surprised at this outcome.


SANDRA GARZA, BRIAN SICKNICK'S GIRLFRIEND: Well, I was very disappointed, obviously. I was very optimistic and hopeful yesterday, but for you know, obviously, you know, some of them, I was not surprised that voted no. But still clinging to that hope, based on our passionate pleas to them.

But I think you know, it speaks volumes to how they really feel, not only about the events of that day, but they're also speaking volumes to their constituents, you know, and how much they really care because it's not just our pleas about how we felt about Brian, and you know, his brothers and sisters in blue and everything that they did that day, but also the safety of them and everyone else that was in the Capitol that day.

If they can't do their jobs, if something happens to them, that also speaks volumes about you know, how they feel about our democracy in general. How can they do their job if they are no longer here?

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: You know, we hear a lot about backing the blue from politicians especially, we talk about the importance of backing our men and women in blue who protect us. What does it mean in that sense when because you know, you're going to hear some of these 35 Republicans talk about in the future, how important it is to back are men and women in blue? What will you think when you hear that?


GLADYS SICKNICK, BRIAN SICKNICK'S MOTHER: Unbelievable that they think like that. You know, if they had a child that was hurt, or was killed on a day like that, they would think very differently. Or if they were hurt, I mean, they could have very well - somebody could have been killed, one of the congressmen, one of the senators, but apparently, they just think well, you know, we're safe because of the men in blue.

They don't think any further than that.


SANCHEZ: Brian Sicknick's loved ones speaking exclusively to our colleague, Jake Tapper. Hey, don't go anywhere. New Day continues after a couple minutes. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)



SANCHEZ: With COVID vaccines now approved for those as young as age 12. Health officials are urging parents to take advantage. Despite that new guidance, some parents are still hesitant to let their kids get vaccinated. A new Kaiser study shows that only four in 10 parents say their child has or will receive a COVID-19 vaccine. So now teens are teaming up with one another to help each other get vaccinated. Joining us now is Arin Parsa. He's the founder of teens for vaccines. And also with this Crystal Strait. She is a board chair for Protect Us.

Now Arin, you started 'Teens for Vaccines' back in 2019. After learning about Ethan Lindenberger. He's an Ohio teen who shared his story on Reddit. He got vaccinated despite being raised with a mom that had antivax beliefs. Tell us what struck you about that story and about the goal of your organization.

ARIN PARSA, FOUNDER, TEENS FOR VACCINE: Well, first of all, I'm just extremely excited to be on here. Thank you for having me on. And about Ethan's story, just his - first of his courage to speak up and, and make the decision for himself. And it's part of the struggle for teens who want to have their own sort of bodily autonomy.

So Ethan asking his question on Reddit, coming forward with his story and making his own decision. That's what kind of appealed to me about it, just his - the strength of his decision. And - and the goal of the organization, is to increase immunization rates generally, because, you know, no one should live in fear or get sick or die from, from these vaccine preventable diseases.

And we just want the world to be a safer place.

SANCHEZ: So how are you counseling teens that might be in that position? What sort of help are you able to offer them?

PARSA: So first off, we tell them that they are super brave, because they are, it's not easy to come forward with their fears and anxieties about the up about these issues. And you'll find some teens that are well, afraid of needles, you'll find some teens that - who are looking for resources to convince their parents to allow them to get vaccinated.

And others like the teens of extreme antivaxxer parents, they are living in fear. They're just sad and frustrated, because they can't - because they can't protect those around them because they can't get the vaccine. Their grandparents might be susceptible to COVID and they can't protect them. And because of other teens are getting vaccinated, they are feeling lonely, because while other teens are enjoying their summer graduation, they are - they can't so it's not OK that one teen is allowed to be happy and full of life while another is just sad and alone. That's simply not right. And when it comes to resources, we share know for teens who are

looking for resources, we share these easy to read doctors blogs, on LinkedIn contacts from Immunization Coalitions. We - and for teens of extreme - we also encourage them to talk to their parents, doctors, their teachers and school nurses and for children of extreme antivax parents, we direct them to vaccines on minor consent law guide on per stage.

And we want to let these teens know that they are not alone in their in their fight, that we are all in this pandemic together ultimately.

SANCHEZ: Yes, so important. And Crystal, a big part of this is arming yourself with the right information. You're the Board Chair of Protect Us and your mission is to battle misinformation, to advocate for evidence-based health policies. How can we better fight the lies and misinformation that spreads on social media specifically about the COVID-19 vaccine?

CRYSTAL STRAIT, BOARD CHAIR, PROTECT US: Yes, well, today I'm here as a cheerleader for Arin and these teens because as you said it Protect Us, we really want to create space and the answer to battling misinformation is creating space for people to advocate for public health, right? And get real information out there. So I hope people and adults can hear what Arin's asking today which is, you know, teens want to be heard.


They want to be a part of these conversations. They're smart. They're good at collecting information and talking to each other. And, and so really, if you're an adult or parent watching, we really hope, listen to your teen, talk to them, go to the CDC, use trusted sources, right?

There are very safe sources, like the CDC, like your own physician, you know, that you can go to because if you hear what our teens are asking, they want this, they want the freedom, they want the safety of the vaccine, but really, they want to be heard, and they want to be part of all of our effort to crush COVID.

SANCHEZ: Yes, it is an enormous effort. And we appreciate the work from both of you. The website, Arin Parsa, and Crystal Strait, thank you both so much.

STRAIT: Thank you.

PARSA: Thank you and there's one thing I could say before, before I go. I just want to say that, you know, that each vaccines, you know, we are a youth collective. But there is a groundswell of teens from states like California, Nevada, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, Connecticut, and so much more. There is you know, and we want to hashtag Crush COVID so parents, please talk to your teens about vaccines and everyone if you could please join our hashtag Crush COVID campaign so we can crush this virus. I'd be - I'd tremendously appreciate it. SANCHEZ: Yes, by a lot of people, we appreciate your passion. Thank

you both so much. Stay with New Day. We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)



PAUL: Well, May is mental health awareness month and Soniya Soni tells us discovering that you may need help is nothing to be ashamed of.


PAUL: The first time Sonia realized something felt off. It was the summer between fifth and sixth grade.

SONIYA SONI, OVERCOMING DEPRESSION: I started having thoughts and feelings about what would life be like if I didn't exist? Would my family's life be better if I was not there? I grew up in an abusive household. My dad was abusive.

MANKAMAL SONI, SONIYA'S MOM: There's a certain personality change in somebody who wants to go out and meet people and all of a sudden, she's struggling to even get out of the bed. As a parent, I think we understand our child enough to see that something is not OK.

SONI: In my, I guess, progression of my symptoms of depression, I was suicidal, I ended up being hospitalized for a suicide attempt. And it was probably the hardest moment was when we were in the ER and my mom had stayed with me overnight because it's this feeling of helplessness and I'm just trying to get through what I'm feeling.

PAUL: Sonia's parents separated and she started therapy. She was diagnosed with major depressive disorder and given mandatory therapy. She saw a therapist three times a week.

SONI: When my parents first suggested putting me in therapy. I thought I was crazy like if I'm being incredibly honest, I thought I was crazy. I thought there was absolutely no need for it. And this is after years of being depressed, self-harming, feeling suicidal. It was through that intensive therapy where I had a therapist who was validating my feelings and telling me what I was going through was OK.

Where I met kids my age in group therapy, who had also gone through similar things that made me feel like I wasn't alone. And where I was given access to language and the space to talk about what I was going through in a safe setting, that I felt comfortable saying to the world, hey, I'm depressed, this is what I'm going through, and I have nothing to be ashamed of.

I think the most important thing about going to therapy and going through treatment is recognizing that it doesn't get better in a day or a week or a month. I'm - it's been six years now and I'm still in therapy.

PAUL: I asked Sonia, what would you say to people who feel like they need help, but they don't know how to ask for it. She said we need to recognize the first therapist who may not be the best fit for you and that's OK.

SONI: Something I didn't have access to was competent therapists who understood my background as a South Asian woman. My therapists were wonderful and fantastic and did their very best to understand but there were of course gaps. There are a lot more therapists that look like you than you think. And there's a lot of power in being able to talk to someone who knows where you're coming from.

PAUL: She contends that therapy has been the key to her journey to wellness and recovery. And it shows. Soniya just graduated from college with a degree in Psychology and Criminal Justice Studies. She's working full time at a mental health tech startup and is preparing to apply to graduate programs for clinical psychology.

SONI: I am in a place where I did not think I would be, five-six years ago because I didn't even think I would survive out of that, out of that headspace I was in. I think my journey is a testament to what accessible and helpful and culturally competent treatment looks like. It was after I started getting competent therapy and realizing how much it was helping me that I was like, this is so powerful and I just want to be a part of it.



PAUL: Listen, she's amazing. She says she received help from Morgan Stanley's Alliance for Children's Mental Health. They recently launched the Innovation Awards to identify and disperse funds for mental health help to children. So if you or someone you love would like to speak to someone, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline day or night on 1-800-273-8255.

SANCHEZ: This was an important story. I'm really glad you did that, Christi, thank you.

PAUL: Thank you. Smerconish is up next, we're going to see you back here at 10.