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New Day Saturday

27 States Report A Rise In Cases As Delta Variant Spreads; Pfizer: We're Working On A Booster, FDA And CDC Say Not So Fast; Charlottesville Removes Statue of Robert E. Lee; 3 Suspects Killed, 20 Captured After Assassination Of Haiti's President; Six States Have Banned Teaching Critical Race Theory; Richard Branson Set To Launch Into Space Tomorrow; Amy Grant Reflects On Having Open Heart Surgery During Pandemic. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired July 10, 2021 - 08:00   ET



JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER: Salads, but it can also be made into a healthy smoothie. Avocados are built with vitamins C, E and B, Omega-3 and potassium. And for a healthy summer dessert, put them all together in a fruit salad, all of your family favorites.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Well, it's good to know that you have woken up on this Saturday. It's 8:00 o'clock, at least here in the East. I'm Christi Paul.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Boris Sanchez. Welcome to your NEW DAY. As the Delta variant causes COVID cases to surge, there's new guidance on how schools should have to prep to bring kids back full- time and questions about whether those of us who've been vaccinated may soon need booster shots.

PAUL: Also, Haiti is asking the UN to send in troops to help restore order following the assassination of that country's President. And Haitians afraid for their safety are lining up outside the U.S. Embassy, hoping to be evacuated.

SANCHEZ: Plus, the countdown is on, billionaire Richard Branson set to rocket into space this weekend. We look at how this decades in the making mission is set to unfold.

We are thrilled that you are with us this morning, Saturday, July 10th. Good morning, Christi.

PAUL: Good morning to you, Boris. It's always good to have your company, especially I'm glad to have you when I thought I don't have to tell this news by myself, because this is not great news.

There is a warning from health officials this morning that the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19 is leading to some mini outbreaks across the country. We're talking about 27 states that reported an uptick in COVID-19 cases over the last week. And the Delta variant is now the most prevalent strain in the U.S., spreading in areas specifically with low vaccination rates right now. SANCHEZ: Yes, and there are now questions about how long vaccinated Americans are going to remain protected. This week, Pfizer saying it plans to seek Emergency Use Authorization for a booster shot as soon as next month. Well, the FDA says that booster shots aren't necessary at this time.

The CDC also calling on schools to promote vaccinations. Yesterday, health officials issuing guidance saying that in-person schooling is a priority this fall.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: Obviously, depending upon the age of the children, some will be vaccinated, some not. Those who are not vaccinated should be wearing masks. The CDC says they'd like to maintain the three foot distance. And if they can't, they're going to work around and do other things, make sure there's good ventilation. The message is loud and clear, come the fall, we want the children back in school in-person.


SANCHEZ: It's not just schools, states and the federal government are still working to get vaccination numbers up.

PAUL: CNN's Polo Sandoval is live in Little Rock, Arkansas and there's a reason that he is there. Arkansas is one of several states where vaccination rates are low and the number of COVID cases are on the rise. In fact, I was reading some statistics that in June, they were reporting 1,500 cases of COVID. As of right now, Arkansas is reporting more than 5,000. What are you seeing there?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Christi, Boris, in just the last few days here at Arkansas seeing an average of about 1,000 new cases a day. So there certainly is no shortage of warning signs when it comes to America's ongoing fight against the pandemic.

As you mentioned about 27 states right now seeing a rise in COVID cases and hospitalizations. And here in Arkansas it's certainly one of those here where the governor is expressing some concern not only about this plateauing vaccination rate, but also that Delta variant that he says is dealing this right left punch to the state right now.


FAUCI: Certainly, they need to listen to the CDC and the FDA.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): The nation's top infectious disease expert is saying listen to the CDC and not Pfizer when it comes to needing a vaccine booster. On Friday, this is what Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN about a phone call he received from the head of Pfizer.

FAUCI: The CEO was a really good guy, got on the phone with me last night and apologized that they came out with that recommendation. So there is no - not that apologized about the recommendation, apologized for not letting us know that he was going to do it ahead of time. SANDOVAL (voice-over): This, after Pfizer announced on Thursday it was

applying for emergency FDA authorization for booster shot to protect against COVID-19. A booster for Americans to get as early as six months after their second dose.

Pfizer set off alarms when they released a statement saying that the immunity from its vaccine was waning. Citing Israeli health ministry data, the company said, "Vaccine efficacy in preventing both infection and symptomatic disease has declined six months post vaccination."

Hours later, however, the CDC and the FDA said fully vaccinated Americans do not need an additional dose of vaccine at this time. Another expert had this to say to CNN.

DR. PETER HOTEZ, CO-DIRECTOR FOR THE CENTER FOR VACCINE, DEVELOPMENT TEXAS CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL: In the U.K. and Scotland and in Canada there are now three studies showing over 80 percent protection. So pretty close to what we've seen. And that's the reason why we don't need to be concerned right now about getting the booster.


SANDOVAL (voice-over): This confusion coming as the U.S. is moving in the wrong direction when it comes to the number of COVID cases. According to the CDC, the highly contagious Delta variant makes up more than half of all new infections in the U.S., much of that rise in the Southeastern United States in a small portion of the Midwest.

Health experts say the best protection available from getting seriously sick from the Delta variant is still the full dosage of a COVID vaccine, and yet, about half of the country is still not fully vaccinated.

Also, on Friday, the CDC updated its COVID guidance for schools, saying they should remain open in the fall, encouraging them to keep measures meant to mitigate the spread of the virus in place.

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: What they're saying is, it's really essential for us to get our kids all back in-person in school in the fall. To do that we have to employ these layered mitigation strategies. Meaning that, we have to look at it as layers. And so if you cannot maintain distancing in schools, which many schools can't, if they want to bring everybody back, then you have to do indoor masking, you have to improve ventilation. You also have to have weekly testing if you're unvaccinated.


SANDOVAL: And just recently here, Arkansas governor actually coming to terms with the fact that these kinds of incentives that we've seen in the past, Boris, Christi, like lottery drawings or in this case fishing licenses, for example, as an added incentive, that they led to only limited progress.

So, what the governor is doing right now is basically doing these sort of town hall setting - so called coronavirus conversations, trying to talk to the people here, trying to convince them, and also calling on the FDA to issue a full authorization of the vaccines, hopefully, trying to build up confidence and get those numbers up.

PAUL: Polo Sandoval, we appreciate it so much. Thank you.

Dr. Cam Patterson, Chancellor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences is with us now. Doctor we appreciate you being here. Thank you so much. In addition to everything that Polo just talked to us about, I know that according to the latest numbers, the National vaccination rate is 56 percent. Arkansas is 43.7 percent. Help us understand what you are seeing in that state right now.

DR. CAM PATTERSON, CHANCELLOR, UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS FOR MEDICAL SCIENCES: Well, we're seeing the Delta variant really washing over the State of Arkansas. We're seeing almost a doubling on a weekly basis of the number of hospitalized patients. We tracked 300 last week. We'll break 500 today.

We're seeing sicker patients. We're seeing younger patients. Here at UAMS, 20 percent of our admitted patients are pregnant moms. This is a serious, serious issue.

PAUL: OK. So, I wanted to read a tweet, you had this thorough thread going on, but I wanted to pull this part of it out, in terms of you are talking about why you will continue to wear a mask indoors, you say this. "A much higher percentage this time in young otherwise healthy individuals. The odds are that we're going to have a much rougher experience with COVID-19 over the next several months than we've experienced in the first 18 months of the pandemic."

That is a very hard thing for people to hear and to even imagine at this point. Is your warning primarily due to the Delta variant? And how likely is it that the vaccinated people could become severely ill from that variant?

PATTERSON: The warning is because of the Delta variant. Arkansas is on the upward surge of the third wave of COVID-19 here in our state, and it is tilting towards younger people. We're also seeing breakthrough infections in individuals who are immunocompromised. I talked about pregnant women, patients with renal disease, patients who've had transplantations.

We know that people who've been vaccinated, while they're almost certainly protected against severe illness or death, can still have asymptomatic infections and can still transmit the virus to people who are at risk.

And I think given the prevalence of the Delta variant in Arkansas right now, it's prudent to go one step further beyond CDC guidance and to continue to mask up whether you've been vaccinated or not.

PAUL: OK, so, Elizabeth Greenaway was a vaccine skeptic at one point, she has since changed her view. She believes the messaging from the CDC and the FDA versus Pfizer is causing some confusion and therefore a lack of vaccination, lines that we're seeing, let's listen to what she had to say. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ELIZABETH GREENAWAY, FORMER VACCINE SKEPTIC: From the beginning, the mixed messaging has been a problem and I not - I don't think it's anyone's fault. It's just that unfortunately we're watching science in real-time both with vaccines and with the virus. And so being able to communicate messages, there has to be an understanding from the public that things are going to change.


And the public just doesn't - you know, perception is reality. And so unfortunately, at the end of the day, when you have conflicting - you have two different sides saying two different things at this point, the perception is, nobody knows what they're talking about.


PAUL: And that is one of the things the fluidity of this and the fact that we're learning about it as we're going contributes to that. But if sectors of the public decide that they're just not going to believe this, what more could possibly be done?

PATTERSON: Well, we have to explain to people that this - that everyone needs to be vaccinated if you're 12 or above. That if you're above age 12, that the virus is safe. There have been over 16 million people who have been administered - the vaccine - I'm sorry - and that it's not causing serious problems.

And just put it in perspective, we've got almost 50 individuals here at UAMS who are in the hospital because of COVID complications. We've got zero people who were admitted to the hospital because of vaccine complications.

PAUL: Dr. Cam Patterson, I appreciate the work that you're doing and taking time to be with us this morning. Thank you, sir.

PATTERSON: Happy to be here, Christi.

SANCHEZ: We've been following confusion and chaos in Haiti. We still don't know the motive behind the assassination of that country's president. As a nationwide manhunt continues for at least five suspects wanted for questioning.

PAUL: And are you counting down with pretty much everybody else who's watching this, the space race - the billionaire space race kicking into high gear. Richard Branson getting ready to lift off. The latest on this historic mission.



PAUL: A developing story we're falling out of Virginia right now. A confederate statue of Robert E. Lee has just been brought down. SANCHEZ: Yes, the statue served as a flashpoint for that 2017 "Unite the Right Rally" that left one protester dead. Let's go live to CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro. He is in Charlottesville. Evan described the last few moments as the statue is coming down.

EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Boris and Christi, that statue of Robert E. Lee that stood on a pedestal here in Charlottesville for nearly a century is now on the back of a truck and will soon be driven out of here and away from this square where I stood for so long.

I'll tell you. I was here when the statue was sort of first lifted off that pedestal after the workers attached chains to it and straps to it to get it off. And the sound around me was cheering. A lot of people have come out from the Charlottesville community here today to cheer on this process, to see these statues come down.

The town didn't want to take them down for quite a long time. There were legal battles and court battles that kept that from happening. And, of course, that horrible "Unite the Right Rally" in 2017 that led to one person dying in a battle over these statues.

But the court battles are over. The Virginia Supreme Court ruled that this city has the right to take the statues down and today they are doing it. And what I can tell you is, the sound around me is jubilation from a lot of people and just very excitement that this is finally over. Boris and Christi.

PAUL: Hey, Evan, do we know what will happen with those statues?

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: That is something of an open question. The rules here say that these statues - both this one behind me, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, another statue will come down a little bit later today, has to be given somewhere else to be displayed somewhere else.

The town's gotten 10 offers of places to take these statues and redisplay them. We don't know much about those offers or what's going to happen with them. But for now, they're not going to be here anymore. They're going to be somewhere else. We all know exactly were. But Charlottesville's time with these statues appears to be over, Boris and Christi.

PAUL: Alrighty. Good to know. Evan McMorris-Santoro, good to see you. Thank you.

So, the White House says, U.S. authorities are traveling to Haiti as soon as possible. Homeland Security and FBI officials are expected to provide security and assistance with the investigation into the assassination of the nation's president.

SANCHEZ: Yes, at least 20 suspects have been arrested, including two naturalized U.S. citizens from Haiti, and several retired members of the Colombian military. Three suspects apparently were killed in a shootout. And there's now a massive nationwide manhunt for another five suspects. Right now there are people gathering outside the U.S. Embassy in Port- au-Prince with their belongings, expressing an urgent desire to leave the country out of fear of what is happening there.

Let's go to CNN is Matt Rivers. He's live in Port-au-Prince. Matt, there's a lot of concern that what we're watching is the beginning of a humanitarian crisis.

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there's no doubt and I think it's important to remember that things were really horrific here in Haiti before this happened. People were leaving this country before this assassination. And yet for some in this country, they're looking at what's happening, they're looking at the fact that there is a power vacuum in this country at the moment, and they're wondering how do things get better? And that answer is not clear.


RIVERS (voice-over): Haitian police wasting no time, as the countrywide manhunt for the final suspects in the assassination of President Jovenel Moise intensifies. Less than 48 hours after his murder, authorities released details about the suspect, some of whom they claim are in this video.

Police say there are a total of 28 people involved in the attack. Three were killed, 20 are in custody, and now they're looking for the final five. Authorities say they have identified at least 18 of the arrested suspects as Colombian and two as Haitian Americans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: DEA operation everybody stand down.


RIVERS (voice-over): This audio recording that CNN has not been able to independently verify allegedly captures the moment when the assassins gained access to the private presidential residence the night of the attack. Officials say the men posed as U.S. Drug Enforcement Agents to get in.

As police clean up the scene of a shootout, they had with some of the assassins, all that remains burned out cars, bullet holes and bloodstains.

RIVERS (on camera): So this is all that's left of one of the cars that officials say suspects in this assassination were using when they engaged in a shootout with police. This car as well was involved, and you can see a bullet hole here that was left over as a result of that shootout.

RIVERS (voice-over): The aftermath of that night shaking the country's already fragile political state. Confusion abounds over who is actually in charge. In the hours after Moise's murder, Haiti's interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph assumed power and took command of the police and military, declaring a "state of siege." Temporarily putting the country under martial law. Experts say it's not clear if he can do that. But Moise appointed a new prime minister just days before he died, Ariel Henry, who was supposed to be sworn in this week. Henry says he should be the one leading the mourning nation right now, though it looks unlikely Joseph will step aside.

CLAUDE JOSEPH, ACTING HAITIAN PRIME MINISTER: The Constitution is clear. I have to organize elections and actually pass the power to someone else who is elected.


RIVERS: And just to make things more complicated, last night, the Senate here in Haiti or what remains of it, actually voted to elect its president - the Senate president to serve as Haiti's interim president. So that's where we stand this morning.

It's not clear if either of those two prime ministers that we just talked about in that package will recognize that. It's unclear where the opposition stands. It's unclear what the people of Haiti exactly want here. This is a place where there has been a lot of political unrest.

Going back before this assassination, there have been protests for months and months over proposed reforms to the Constitution. How things move forward over the next few days, undoubtedly, will have a big impact not only on the short term future here in Haiti, but also have a big impact on the long-term as well.

PAUL: Matt Rivers, thank you so much for walking us through what's happening there and the importance of it, we appreciate it.

SANCHEZ: Still ahead, why some Republicans are vowing to keep what they call critical race theory out of school curriculums and why others think the classroom is the right place to talk about race. An important conversation, a few minutes away.



SANCHEZ: Critical race theory remains a hot button issue among Republicans, riling up activists and leading to heated moments at school board meetings all over the country. Some on the Right argue that teachers are using it in school curriculums, exposing children to the idea that the United States is a racist country by teaching them about ideas like systemic racism.

Critics say that these claims are overblown. Here's one of the founding scholars of critical race theory, Kimberle Crenshaw, explaining it to CNN.


KIMBERLE WILLIAMS CRENSHAW, FOUNDATIONAL SCHOLAR OF CRITICAL RACE THEORY: Traditional critical race theory focused on law, how law was not simply a discourse or an arena that created equality. It was a discourse that actually created the inequalities that are associated with race.

So critical race theory proper is a legal concept. And for that, I want to say, I am not aware of any school districts that actually teach critical race theory. What I am aware of is teachers and board of education across the country that are responding to last summer's reckoning by saying, this isn't simply a problem of an individual caught doing a bad thing to George Floyd.

This comes out of a history of policing, policing began in this country with slave patrols. The idea that certain people are dangerous, inherently threatening, have superhuman strength. These are all stereotypes that are deeply associated with slavery, deeply associated with insecurities that are at the core of American policing.

So that's what is really at in play now, understanding racism historically. Not in terms of bad people, not in terms of bad thinking, but in terms of institutions that are in disrepair.


SANCHEZ: Lawmakers in at least six states have passed laws to ban critical race theory and certain discussions about race from the classroom. Some local school boards have also considered taking legal action, disciplinary action as well against teachers who have conversations about CRT. Even though school officials have repeatedly maintained it's not something that's taught in K through 12 schools.

My next guest is Randi Weingarten. She's the President of the American Federation of Teachers, Teachers Union, and she's promising to defend members who face any backlash from these policies.


Randi, we're grateful to have you this morning. First, I want to ask if you are aware of any K through 12 curriculum that teaches critical race theory or implements it in the classroom in any way?

RANDI WEINGARTEN, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF TEACHERS: No. I mean, there's - there - we teach - look, I also start as a history teacher, who has taught history and in the teaching of American history you talk about race, you talk about the Civil War, you talk about what happens in the aftermath of the Civil War. You talk about Jim Crow, you talk about the 1960s civil rights movement.

So, obviously, the issues around race and discrimination are issues of American history. But so are the good things in American history. And so are the fact that we actually fight these things, as Kimberle said, in terms of an analysis of legal principles.

This right now, CRT is a term that most people would not have heard of five years ago, or even six months ago. It's something that is an analysis and a theory that's taught in law school. What we teach in high school, in elementary school, in middle school, is history.

SANCHEZ: So then, why is it necessary for you, as the leader of a union, to put out this message that you'll defend teachers who may come under fire from activists.

WEINGARTEN: Because what started to happen, just like in so many of these other unfortunate culture wars in the last several years, is that this is becoming - that states are passing laws, or doing other things to try to silence the teaching of accurate history. So I'll give you an example.

In Tennessee, in the last few days, there is a school board, or activists that are attempting to stop the teaching of Ruby Bridges in a book that is about her. It's like 100 years after the Scopes Trial to modern day era censorship of things that we have to teach kids.

In Texas, they've made a law that has said, in essence, that you have to teach slavery as if it was a betrayal of the founders. That's clearly not true. Look, I love Thomas Jefferson. I thought he was an amazing founder, but he was a slave owner. And so we need to actually deal with some of these uncomfortable truths.

And what I would say to any parent who's watching that it's - it makes us stronger, it makes our kids more resilient when we get through this uncomfortable truth and show that America is about making things better for all. That's what the civil rights movement was about. That's - look, right now we have a vice president, who's African- American. With the arc of the moral universe does end up bending towards justice, even though sometimes it's really tough.

SANCHEZ: So why is it that you think that this has become such an issue? If it's not something that is actually being implemented in K through 12? classrooms? Why is it then that this has been elevated to the national discourse the way that it has?

WEINGARTEN: Why did Dr. Seuss become such an issue? Why did Mr. Potato Head become such an issue? Why are things that - we have people - this is what I think is going on. People after 16 months of being home of COVID, there's a lot of uncertainty, there's a lot of chaos, there's a lot of confusion, there's a lot of what are we going to do to make our lives better again.

And frankly, we had a president - President Trump, who stirred this up every single day. You've got people in the Congress who stir this up every single day. And instead of the country coming together, and saying, let's make things better for all of us, let's make things better economically for all of us. Let's make things better educationally for all of us. Let's make sure everyone, particularly our kids can thrive, you're starting to see the exploitation of (inaudible) and anxiety, and it's just wrong.

Do we have problems in the country? Yes. But what we need to do is we need to reopen schools, make sure all of our kids have a safe and welcoming environment. Make sure that we meet their needs. And part of their needs is to become critical thinkers and to be able to deal with things that are uncomfortable, including parts of our history.

SANCHEZ: All right, Randi Weingarten, we appreciate your perspective. Thanks so much for sharing part of your weekend with us.


WEINGARTEN: Thank you.

PAUL: So tomorrow is the day a lot of you are going to be watching, I know, and waiting for Richard Branson trying to make history by reaching the edge of space. We're live from the launch site, next.


PAUL: Listen, it is going to be history making and it is decades in the making. Tomorrow, Richard Branson set to head into space on that supersonic space plane that was built by his company, Virgin Galactic.


SANCHEZ: And if he's successful, he's going to beat former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos by nine days. Sir Branson says he cannot wait.


RICHARD BRANSON, FOUNDER, VIRGIN GROUP: Yes, never been more excited my life and the wonderful team who are coming up with me are equally set.


SANCHEZ: CNN's Rachel Crane is live for us in New Mexico this morning. Rachel, a big moment, not just for Branson himself, but for space tourism as well.

RACHEL CRANE, CNN INNOVATION AND SPACE CORRESPONDENT: That's correct, Boris. I mean, this first suborbital flight of Richard Branson, also Jeff Bezos' suborbital flight that's coming up on July 20th, the first crewed flight of New Shepard, it really signals a new era of spaceflight.

That's because it will hopefully be ushering in this new era of space tourism, democratizing space, allowing, what they say, average citizens - albeit very wealthy average citizens at this point, to experience weightlessness and travel to the edge of space.

Right now Virgin Galactic has sold around 600 tickets, but each of those, Boris, is around $200,000. But let me tell you about where we are right now. We're at Spaceport America. This is where the space flight of Richard Branson, the three mission specialists and the two pilots will take off in a little over 24 hours from now.

And I got to tell you, it's been a bevy of activity here at Spaceport America. We were actually behind the gates yesterday and they had buses and tents being erected and fences, a jumbotron. So, it's important to remember that there's this space flight event, but there's also in typical Richard Branson fashion, the event around the event. So there's going to be musical performances tomorrow. Stephen Colbert will be hosting the webcast of this flight. So there's a lot going on here. And it's important to also remember that this is still a test flight, so Virgin Galactic has two additional test flights following this first flight of Richard Branson before they begin their commercial operations in 2022. Boris, Christi.

PAUL: All right, Rachel Crane, thanks so much.

So the spaceplane VSS Unity has taken five employees into this skies on previous test flights. Branson is becoming the first founder of a space company to get there in a vehicle that he helped fund. This is going to be a live streamed event hosted by comedian Stephen Colbert, and singer Khalid will be on hand to debut a new song at the landing site.

So we have someone who's got plenty of experience at spaceflight with us now, Commander Chris Hadfield, retired astronaut, and former Commander of the International Space Station. He's on the Space Advisory Board for Virgin Galactic. It's so good to have you with us. Thank you for taking time for us, especially at this time when, I know, that you are all probably in a bit of a tizzy watching this.

There is this element of entertainment surrounding it. But this is serious business at the end of the day. What do you think Sir Branson should expect on this flight?

CHRIS HADFIELD, FORMER COMMANDER, INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION: Yes, good morning, Christi. And I think Rachel summed it up very well. Essentially, yes, you're right, it's a dangerous, complicated, very technical experience. But at its real core, it's a human experience.

To be able to get up above the dawn sky here out in the desert, and to get up into the blackness of the rest of the universe, and to be able to then see the world from a whole new perspective, be able to look at the curve of the world. That's the real essence of it.

That's - I was talking to Richard at length yesterday about it. And that's the real essence of the experience that he and the rest of the crew are going to have. And I've lived half a year above the atmosphere. It changes your perspective of Earth itself and I think that's the historic, really important part of this.

PAUL: You've lived there for a long time, he will, as I understand it, just be weightless for a few minutes. So talk to us about - there won't be the same kind of - when you get back down to Earth, trying to acclimate yourself, the way that you have to do when you're in space for a long time. But will there be maybe some uneasiness once they get - once they return to Earth?

HADFIELD: Well, it's a complicated flight. They're flying a rocket. There's a big rocket in the back of their plane. So that's a lot of forces, and then they're weightless for several minutes, and then they're kind of crushed down into their seat as the air slows them down again. So it's a pretty physical ride they'll be through.

But I think the real - the real effect of it will be psychological and mental. Some physical and you got to get ready for that. But seeing the world that way and experiencing it - as still there's been less than 600 people ever leave the Earth this way. And so, the newness of it and the perspective of it, I think that's what's going to really stick with them the longest.

PAUL: Talk to about - to us about other risks that you may be concerned about with something like this.


HADFIELD: Well, as Rachel said, it's a test program. This is still early on. These are Virgin Galactic employees, including right up to the boss himself that are going flying here early tomorrow morning. And we're not taking paying passengers in a vehicle like this yet. So I think people need to remember that.

I think a lot of people just see it as a joy ride. But this is still brand new. And in any of the previous space vehicles, there's always been a great amount of risk - the ones that I flew. And you have to be ready for that. Occasionally things will go wrong.

They've got some of the world's best test pilots flying that ship. I'm confident they're making the right decision. But they don't take that decision lightly. And, and I'm part of that process as one of their advisors also.

PAUL: Commander Chris Hadfield, we appreciate your expertise sharing it with us. Thank you so much.

HADFIELD: Nice to talk with you. And I'm looking forward to launch.

PAUL: OK, we are too. We're there with you. Thank you, Commander.

So the pandemic put some music on pause. Well, now singer, songwriter Amy Grant, she's making her way back to the stage. My one-on-one conversation with her about how the pandemic changed her life.



PAUL: So a tour that COVID canceled in 2020 is fully in motion as of today singer, songwriter Amy Grant on stage for the 30 year anniversary of her hit album "Heart in Motion." She had one heck of a reset during COVID, though.

Like a lot of us, we took an honest look, didn't we, at what we might want to shift in our lives, what we really care about, I call it the reset. She felt it on a very raw level, because she was actually in the hospital last year, but for open heart surgery.


AMY GRANT, SINGER/SONG WRITER: As I looked at the numbers growing in our city, I just kept thinking, I know what it feels like to be in the hospital. I know what it was like to be on a bypass machine. I was on a ventilator, not because of COVID, but - I mean, I set my alarm every night for 8:15 and I would think about and pray for those caregivers. Because when you've been there you go, they change everything.

I just felt that I was given the gift to slow down and sit outside with my shoes off and talk to my kids and, and reset.


PAUL: Amy said that it also taught her a lot about her own limitations and the necessity of community. And it prompted her to look at everyone and in an even more profound way.


GRANT: I just found myself seeing people, just like it takes about five seconds of really looking in somebody's eyes to go, "Well, there you are, hi."


PAUL: And she's hoping that not only do we look at each other just a little bit longer in each other's eyes, but that music heals us the way that it heals her.


GRANT: I just know the first time I stepped back into a vocal rehearsal and everybody was singing, I just wanted to weep. It was like, this doesn't - you can't get that beautiful energy flow, over Zoom. When you're in the room with somebody, everyone participates in the evening. Everyone's energy is just like this beautiful infinite figure eight, it flows from me to you and from you back to me.

Music brings us together. It just crosses political lines. It crosses lifestyle lines. It's just such a great welcome table. It's easy to look outside yourself and go, well, that's not very loving, that's not very loving. But in the last 18 months, I think we've had a lot of time also to look inward.

Because really, we're all just a bunch of fire hoses, and we have the option of opening ourselves up to be filled with love, the love of God, good things, good thoughts and just, Woo! just let that pour out on the world. Or we can give in to all that hideous chatter that sort of flirts with all of our minds and we can just fill up our channel with that and spew that and that goes nowhere.

I guess, I - this last year has just been a reckoning for me as well to say, "Am I living with love toward everyone?" And - because I want to be.


PAUL: She says hit it right there on the head, didn't she? Amy Grant, her tour starts today and some new music on the way as well, Boris. So not just some of the old stuff that I know, the oldies but goodies.

SANCHEZ: Some new stuff to look forward to. A really powerful message there, and you can see we're getting emotional. Look forward to her getting back out on the road in front of fans.

Thank you so much for joining us this morning. We will be back though in one hour.

PAUL: Yes, we're not let loose yet. "SMERCONISH" is up next for you. But we do have a preview for you of CNN's brand new, original series, "History of a Sitcom." It premieres tomorrow night at 9:00.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You come home turn on that television. What do you want? You want comedy?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And there you go, situation comedy.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Laughter opens you up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What you're talking about Willis?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We get to know these sitcom characters. They're your friends.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We all share these experiences.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Laughter is a great way to deal with a very tricky world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Discussing race in a sitcom, you're able to kind of take in new ideas.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, hi, neighbor.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You hope that you'll have those kinds of relationships in your life. It was revolutionary.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Laugh out loud funny.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's one of the great accomplishments of the modern age.

ANNOUNCER: The stories behind the moments we shared, "History of the Sitcom" premieres tomorrow night at 9:00.




(COMMERCIAL BREAK) MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: Is it necessarily racist? I'm Michael

Smerconish in Philadelphia. The reason the controversy about Rachel Nichols and Maria Taylor at ESPN received so much attention this week is that the issues transcend the sports cable outlet and offer a window into so many of our workplaces.