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New Day Saturday
Zelenskyy Calls for Negotiations on Peace "Without Delay"; Biden Warns Xi not to Assist Russian War Effort; President Biden to Join NATO Leaders in Brussels Next Week; American James Hill Among Dozens Killed By Shelling in Chernihiv; Moderna Seeks Authorization for Second Booster for All Adults; Coach Krzyzewski's Legacy Off the Court Endures As He Heads into Retirement. Aired 6-7a ET
Aired March 19, 2022 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Buenos dias. Good morning and welcome to your "NEW DAY." We're grateful for having you this Saturday, March 19th. I'm Boris Sanchez.
KRISTIN FISHER, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Kristin Fisher in today for Christi Paul.
SANCHEZ: Kristin, good morning. Great to be with you. Thanks for waking up with us.
FISHER: Great to be with you, Boris.
SANCHEZ: Yes. Up first, we start --
FISHER: Bright and early.
SANCHEZ: Yes, right? We start with a message from the president of Ukraine directly to the Kremlin. Quote, "It is time to talk." President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a Facebook post this morning says it is time to meet to restore the territorial - territorial integrity of Ukraine and to provide justice for the Ukrainian people. In his words, otherwise Russia will face massive losses. He's calling for peace talks without delay.
FISHER: His message comes as Vladimir Putin steps up his brutal attacks on civilian and military targets, including a base in Mykolaiv. Russian forces also fired six missiles on the city of Lviv near the Polish border, right on NATO's doorstep.
President Zelenskyy says 130 people have been rescued from a theater hit by Russian bombs in the battered city of Mariupol, but hundreds more may still be trapped underneath all of that rubble. The U.N. says civilian deaths are up to at least 780 across Ukraine, though that number is likely much higher.
SANCHEZ: Now, the U.K. Defense minister says that Russia has been surprised by the scale and ferocity of the Ukrainian resistance and U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who is traveling in Europe, says that Russia has made a number of missteps. In a news conference in Bulgaria, just a short time ago, Austin said the smartest thing for Putin to do is end the war. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LLOYD AUSTIN, DEFENSE SECRETARY: Russia's invasion has taken a terrible toll on Ukrainian lives, including brave soldiers and far too many innocent civilians. Yet Russia's aggression has galvanized the Ukrainian people, NATO, and the free world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: CNN correspondents are covering the invasion of Ukraine from multiple angles, from the ground in Lviv to EU headquarters in Brussels, and to the White House with the latest on President Biden's phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
FISHER: Let's go first to Lviv, Ukraine and CNN international correspondent Scott McLean. Scott, you know, Lviv was hit the hardest that it has been since the very beginning of this war yesterday. What is the latest that you're seeing on the ground there?
SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kristin. Yes. The air raid sirens just finished going off a moment ago signaling that the air raid threat here has passed. They sounded earlier about 30 minutes ago. And you can bet that this city is on much higher alert than it has been since yesterday, the very first bombs struck within city limits.
Now, remarkably, officials say that only one person was injured and not seriously in that because they struck a facility out near the airport. A much more catastrophic death toll we're seeing in the city of Mykolaiv. This is a strategic city in southern Ukraine.
And dramatic video captured by the CNN affiliate Expressen who is there in the immediate aftermath shows people digging through the rubble franticly trying to get any survivors out. It looks like they actually pull one man out of the rubble and he is remarkably unscathed. However, one surviving soldier told those journalists that he figured there was about 200 people in those barracks at the time that five Russian bombs were dropped. And his estimate was that 90 percent of them likely did not survive. Now, we can't -- we're not in the position to confirm those numbers, but it is very likely that the death toll will be high there.
Meanwhile, in the southeastern city of Mariupol, new drone footages showing the scale of the destruction there. We are also seeing satellite pictures and if this is any good news, that there is a trickle of cars managing to leave the city through an unofficial humanitarian corridor that at least for the moment seems to be holding, seems to be working to get people out to safety.
We are also waiting on more word from the people who are trapped inside that theater that was bombed, some 1,200, 1,300 people may have been taking shelter in that theater. Yesterday, we got word that 130 people that were pulled out of that rubble.
The Russians may be hitting from the sky with very deadly consequences, but according to the Ukrainians and to Western military intelligence assessments, they are not winning on the ground. And so, President Zelenskyy said yesterday, the Russians would do well to negotiate an end to this war. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINE PRESIDENT (through translator): I want everyone to hear me now, especially I want them to hear me in Moscow. It's time to meet, time to talk, time to restore territorial integrity and justice for Ukraine or else Russia will face such losses that several generations will not be enough for it to rise back up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCLEAN: And Boris, Kristin, just one other thing to mention on the situation here in Lviv. Of course, this is a city that according to the mayor's office is housing some 200,000 plus people who fled other more violent parts of Ukraine, and many would like to stay. The prospects of going to Poland, going somewhere else in Europe especially where they may not know people, learn a new language, a new culture is pretty daunting for a lot of people. So many of the people that I spoke to yesterday about their safety level say that they intend to stay as long as they possibly can. Kristin, Boris?
SANCHEZ: Scott, the U.N. estimating that some 6.5 million people are displaced within the country of Ukraine. Obviously, they will start to flee westward as you noted when things get heated in the east. Scott McLean from Lviv, Ukraine. Thank you so much.
Let's pivot now to the White House and President Biden this week taking a direct step to warn a global player to stay out of this conflict. He told President Xi Jinping of China there would be serious consequences if China helps Russia in Ukraine.
CNN White House reporter Jasmine Wright is traveling with the president in Delaware. Jasmine, bring us up to speed on that conversation between Xi and Biden.
JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Boris, U.S. officials said that President Biden was direct when he described both the implications and consequences for China should it aid Russia in this ongoing offensive. But one thing that remains unclear here, Boris, is whether or not President Biden achieved at least part of the goal which was to influence China's President Xi into choosing the right path here.
And so, administration officials from the U.S. describe a nearly two- hour long call as substantive, detailed and direct. And now our own Kaitlan Collins yesterday in a briefing with White House press secretary, she answered - she asked really a pivotal question here when it comes to ascertaining whether or not the U.S. feels successful, which is whether or not it still has concerns that Russia -- that China may come to Russia's aid either military or financially in this ongoing conflict. Take a listen here. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yesterday, Secretary Blinken said the administration was concerned that China is considering answering Russia's request for more military equipment. After this two-hour call, does the White House still have that concern?
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We have that concern. The president detailed, you know, what the implications and consequences would be if China provides material support to Russia as it conducts brutal attacks against Ukrainian cities and civilians. And obviously, that is something we will be watching, and the world will be watching.
COLLINS: So that concern has not gone away following the call?
PSAKI: Obviously actions are a key part of what we'll be watching.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WRIGHT: Now, there we just heard from Psaki saying their actions will be a key part of what they're actually what they're watching, laying out an overview. Now something that Psaki did not say was that she did not get into specifically what the U.S. could have prepared for China should it do what it fears that it might, which is aid Russia militarily or financially. Neither did senior administration officials who briefed reporters after President Xi and Biden's call.
But one thing coming from President Xi's side, according to state media, that he said that it was up to both sides, both the U.S. and China to ensure peace around the globe. Kind of a vague description about where things lie. But again, really no word on the reality of exactly where President Xi stands in terms of this conflict, something that was pivotal to Biden to try to assess as there is really no known mark of where they're at.
And of course, this call, Boris, comes at an incredibly pivotal time where U.S. officials feel that China could have real influence when it comes to the trajectory of this ongoing conflicts. And of course, any decision that China makes would really potentially have grave implications for U.S. and China relations for decades to come. Boris?
FISHER: Jasmine Wright live in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware for us. Jasmine, thank you.
And so, next week, President Biden is going to travel to Europe to meet with world leaders to discuss Russia's invasion of Ukraine and to participate in a NATO summit.
CNN's Natasha Bertrand is live from Brussels. And Natasha, I mean, this has to be one of the most high-stakes foreign trips of Biden's presidency.
NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Absolutely, Kristin. It will be very, very closely watched trip.
They are not necessarily anticipating any major deliverables to actually come out of this summit next week because, of course, NATO has said that it is not going to enter the war in Ukraine. That they are not going to put NATO forces on the ground or in the air to defend Ukraine against this Russian onslaught, but it will be a chance for President Biden to show the world that the West is still very unified in defense of Ukraine against Russia's attack there.
Now, he's expected to meet with NATO leaders on Thursday and they will discuss deterrence and defense measures with regard to the war in Ukraine. Deterrence being how can we prevent Russia from escalating even further. And importantly, how can we prevent Russia from going further and further west towards Poland, towards that NATO doorstep.
Now, the defense, of course, how can we shore up these eastern flank allies who are feeling very, very vulnerable and threatened right now by Putin's aggression in Ukraine. As you mentioned at the top of the hour, Russia has launched attacks of roughly 10 miles from Poland's border. So, obviously, the conflict is getting closer and closer to that doorstep there. And they are essentially on the front lines of this conflict if it does come further west.
So that will be the main priority of those conversations. And then with EU leaders, when he meets with them on Thursday, they will also be discussing the state of the conflict and of course, arms assistance to Ukraine, those - those weapons deliveries that Zelenskyy has been asking for over the last several weeks and months. So a lot on the agenda here. Of course, it will be a very closely watched engagement. Kristin?
SANCHEZ: No question about that. Natasha Bertrand, live from EU headquarters in Brussels. Thank you so much.
FISHER: The U.S. Defense secretary tells CNN that Russia has made a number of missteps in its invasion of Ukraine. And the assessment comes as the Pentagon chief was in Bulgaria meeting with U.S. and NATO troops ahead of the president's visit to Brussels next week.
SANCHEZ: Our colleague Don Lemon sat down for an exclusive interview with Secretary Lloyd Austin. Here's a portion of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: What is your assessment of Russian forces now? Are they stalled? Are they regrouping so that they can increase their assault or increase their violence on Ukraine? What's your assessment of the Russian military?
AUSTIN: It's hard to tell, Don. I think, you know, they have not progressed as far -- as quickly as they would have liked to. They -- I think they envisioned that they would move rapidly and very quickly seize the capital city. They've not been able to do that. They've struggled with logistics. So, we've seen a number of missteps along the way. I don't see, you know, evidence of good employment of tactical intelligence. I don't see integration of, you know, air capability with the ground maneuver. And so, there are a number of things that we would expect to have seen that we just haven't seen in the Russians. Really have had some, have presented them some problems. So, many of their assumptions have not -- have not proven to be true as they -- as they entered this fight.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: Let's get some more expert analysis now. CNN military analyst and retired Air Force Colonel Cedric Leighton is with us. And the president of The Global Situation Room, Brett Bruen also joins us. He was the director of global engagement in the Obama administration.
Colonel, let's start with that assessment from Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. It coincides with British intelligence saying that the Kremlin was caught off guard by the scale and ferocity of the Ukrainian resistance and that leads to the belief that the strategy will shift for the Russians. They're going to look at a war of attrition now, essentially winning by any means necessary. What does that look like on the ground in Ukraine?
COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, Boris, good morning. That is going to be one of the most terrible developments of this war frankly. You know, I think the - you know, as the secretary of Defense mentioned and the British intelligence assessment also pointed to, it's very clear that the Russians wanted to do something like they did back in 1968 in taking over Czechoslovakia. They basically did it in two days when they - when they came in and replaced the communist government of Dubcek in that country.
You know, when it comes to Ukraine, we are going to see the pounding of cities. We're going to see the use of artillery, the use of indiscriminate air strikes. We're going to see some more cruise missiles being lobbed into the country from various locations. And that is going to, I think, really point to the fact that this war is going to enter a new and unfortunately brutal -- more brutal phase.
SANCHEZ: And, Brett, let's dissect the idea of an off-ramp for Vladimir Putin. This morning, President Zelenskyy of Ukraine warned that Russia's losses would be so huge that several generations would not be able to rebound. At this point, though, it doesn't appear that Vladimir Putin is eager for an off-ramp. It seems like he is moving toward, as the Colonel pointed out, a strategy of more bloodshed.
BRETT BRUEN, FORMER DIRECTOR OF GLOBAL ENGAGEMENT UNDER PRESIDENT OBAMA: It does not. And one of the things I think we have to be aware of and on the lookout for is Putin, if he is going to drag this conflict out will also try to sow divisions and to deplete the unity of the West and the NATO alliance. So we also should be looking out for Putin's efforts potentially even to open a second front in this conflict. It could be in a place like Georgia or Moldova where Russia already has similar separatist regions and the question then becomes will NATO, will the West stand up with the same level of support that we've seen in Ukraine? Putin is a master of the art of distraction. And I think we have to be conscious of that and we have to be ready to respond.
SANCHEZ: Russia and Belarus have sent tacit signals about Moldova specifically. It's notable that you mentioned that.
Colonel, back to you. The latest from Ukraine, there are reports that indicate that dozens of Ukrainian troops were killed in a strike in Mykolaiv, that's in the southern part of the country, somewhere between Odessa and Mariupol. You've talked extensively about the significance of the Black Sea as a strategic point for getting supplies into Ukraine. Help us understand that the focus of the Russian military going into this part, the southern part of Ukraine. Why does it matter so much?
LEIGHTON: Yes, Boris. The southern part of Ukraine is key because once the southern part is taken over, that's basically the coastline. So on the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, those areas if they are taken over by the Russians completely, what that means is it cuts off any access that Ukraine has to the sea, and towards their exports, their ability to get resupplied from the military standpoint and it makes it far more difficult for Ukraine to be a viable country if that area is taken over.
So the event in Mykolaiv is one in which they're really using a strategy of encirclement and decimation as it goes forward. And what they're going to be doing is that, you know, further movement towards the West from that area towards Odessa. And the idea there, because Odessa is the major port, is to cut everything off and go all the way to the Romanian border.
SANCHEZ: And Brett, we talked a little bit this morning about the phone call between President Biden and President Xi of China. From an incentive perspective, China benefits from playing both sides, giving very sort of light criticism of the invasion, while simultaneously not really going after and condemning Vladimir Putin, in fact, securing recently a deal for oil that lasts 30 years, and boasting of this eternal partnership between these two nations. What do you expect the United States to do to try to deter Xi Jinping from getting involved in this conflict by supplying Russia either with military aid or financial relief from sanctions?
BRUEN: Well, clearly, China represents a potential lifeline, perhaps the most significant potential lifeline for Moscow. And so, what you're seeing from the White House are efforts to signal to Beijing that there will be economic consequences if they choose to provide that direct support.
Now this is one of those points though, Boris, where I think it will be a challenge for the administration to try and bring along some of our other allies with this. And it will be a test of American diplomacy if we are able to rally the world not only against Russia, but should China come to the aid of Putin. Will we be united similarly in our response? I think China currently is trying, as you said, to sit on the fence, and on the one hand to inflict some damage on the West and on international order, while on the other hand certainly trying to benefit from its position that suggests that China deplores the violence, deplores the situation in Ukraine, but is not going to do anything to come to the aid of the Ukrainians or bring the conflict to a quick end.
SANCHEZ: Yes. It will be interesting to see how some of these European allies that have forged very close ties with China economically might respond if Xi, in fact, provides Russia with weapons in Ukraine. Colonel Cedric Leighton, Brett Bruen, we got to leave the conversation there. Appreciate you getting up early for us this morning.
LEIGHTON: Thank you, Brett.
FISHER: Four U.S. soldiers are dead after a U.S. military aircraft appears to have crashed during NATO training exercises in Norway. That's according to Norway's prime minister. The Osprey aircraft was spotted on Friday by a rescue helicopter after what authorities called a mishap that caused quote, "major damage." We will continue to bring you updates, of course, as we get them.
Meanwhile, more than 3 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia's invasion began.
Coming up. How one group is working to resettle refugees here in the United States.
Plus, new details in the death of American James Hill who was killed in Ukraine this week. His chilling account detailing the deteriorating situation in Ukraine before his death. Up next.
SANCHEZ: Plus, remember the COVID pandemic? It's not gone. Moderna seeking authorization now for a second COVID-19 booster as doctors are warning that a new variant is emerging overseas that could wind up in the U.S. over the next few weeks. Stay with us. We'll be right back.
FISHER: Russia's invasion of Ukraine has caused a new refugee crisis. According to the U.N.'s Refugee Agency, since February 24th, 3.2 million people have left Ukraine, another 2 million are displaced inside the country. Countries in the immediate area are dealing with the refugee crisis and leaders around the world are moving to help. The Biden administration is considering taking steps to make it easier for Ukrainian refugees to join family members here in the United States.
Joining me now to talk about the situation is Melanie Nezer. She's a senior vice president with HIAS, which is a non-profit organization that works with the government to resettle refugees here in the United States.
So Melanie, thank you so much for joining us this morning. I can imagine you're quite busy. And I'd like to start by just asking you to share some of the stories that you're hearing from Ukrainian refugees who are perhaps trying to get to the United States. What specific problems are they encountering?
MELANIE NEZER, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, GLOBAL PUBLIC AFFAIRS, HIAS: Well, first of all, Kristin, as you said, this is the fastest pace of displacement since World War II. When you think about the increase in population of Poland, they're talking about 20 percent population increase in just three weeks. That's the equivalent of about 60 million people coming to the U.S. in three weeks. So you can imagine how overwhelmed and stressed the receiving countries are. Not to say that they have not been warmly welcoming Ukrainian refugees, but there does become a point where these countries do become overwhelmed.
And just to also note that while we are not in the neighborhood of the crisis, there is a concept in international refugee law and policy called responsibility sharing. So when countries are receiving large numbers of refugees, other countries around the world do step up to accept some of those refugees to ease some of the stress on those countries.
FISHER: And so, what specific stories are you hearing now from Ukrainian refugees, from people here in the United States who have families in Ukraine. What sorts of stories are you hearing from them and what problems are they encountering as they try to make their way here?
NEZER: Well, again, there's no quick way right now until the administration takes some action for refugees to join with their family members in the U.S. And while most refugees in the region will want to stay there because, as you know, they left their husbands, brothers and sons behind in Ukraine and are very worried about them, some of them do have family members here, whether it's sisters, brothers, cousins, parents, children. And instead of forcing them to remain in countries where they have no ties, rent is very expensive right now in Europe, it's very hard to find apartments because of the influx of refugees, food is expensive, many fled with just a backpack, they don't have anything with them. We think that it's really important for those people who have family in the U.S. to be able to join them and wait out the crisis here in the U.S. If that's what they choose to do and if that's what's safest and easiest for them.
FISHER: The Biden administration is facing increased pressure to do more to help these refugees. And if you look back to just this summer and the situation with Afghanistan, the Biden administration made quite a few special accommodations for those refugees. There were things like humanitarian parole, special refugee designations. Do you think that the Biden administration will and should apply those or similar types of accommodations for Ukrainian refugees?
NEZER: Well, the situation is very different. And the situation, the evacuation will be very different. You know, this was -- in Afghanistan, of course, the country fell, and it was a massive Afghanistan from planes that were in the region. This is much different.
But there were some great things that the Biden administration did and there were some mistakes. One of the mistakes was to admit Afghans not in refugee status but in something called parole, which is a temporary status that doesn't allow people to have a permanent path to residence here in the U.S. So that is something that only Congress can fix.
We think that the Biden administration should consider, like the U.S. has done in the past, for example, with Kosovo Albanians in the Balkan crisis, allow people to be admitted as refugees. So do the initial paperwork overseas, finish processing here in the U.S. But give them some kind of a path to a permanent status so they're not in limbo for many, many years while they wait for Congress to act. So that's one of the things that we're strongly recommending.
But basically, you know, families should be together, especially at this time. If you can imagine what it would be like to be displaced and know that you had a brother waiting for you in another country that could have you in his home, that could support you, that's where you would want to be. And that's what we think the administration should act on very quickly.
FISHER: Melanie Nezer, thank you so much for your time this morning and certainly hope you get all the help that you and your organization needs.
NEZER: Thank you so much.
SANCHEZ: An American from Minnesota is now among the dead in Ukraine. We'll show you how he's being remembered by those who knew him best after we come back from a quick break.
FISHER: The State Department has --
Excuse me, confirmed that a Minnesota man, James Whitney Hill, was among dozens killed Thursday during attacks by Russian forces. Known to family and friends as Jimmy, his sister says that he was in Ukraine with his partner who was being treated for multiple sclerosis.
SANCHEZ: CNN national correspondent Camila Bernal has his story.
CAMILA BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): "Bombing has intensified. No way out." That was the last post from American James Hill before confirmation of his death, his Facebook detailing a chilling account of his last days in Ukraine.
"Intense bombing, still alive. Limited food. Room very cold."
KATYA HILL, JAMES HILL'S SISTER: At one point, a missile went by him and landed at a distance.
BERNAL: According to his family, Hill was waiting in a bread line with several other people when they were gunned down by Russian military snipers. His body was found in the street by the local police. Hill was in Chernihiv with his partner Iryna, who is Ukrainian and battling MS.
HILL: He was not going to leave Iryna's side in her condition.
BERNAL: We're hanging in there, he wrote on Monday. "Very cold inside. Food portions are reduced. Bombings and explosions most of the night, hard to sleep. People getting depressed." In his post, he describes feeling helpless, hungry and cold, while narrating a war. Intense bombing last night for two hours, it was close to hospital, machine gunfire could be heard. It stopped just after midnight.
Hill even encouraging political action. Posting this on March 7th -- "for my American friends and relatives, please pressure your local representatives to expedite American visas for Ukrainians, especially for families with children and skilled workers."
HILL: My brother was the helper that people find in a crisis.
BERNAL: But while he wanted to help others and find a way out, it was too late.
HILL: We don't know where my brother's body is. So that kind of closure, the family won't have right now.
BERNAL: And this, of course, devastating for his sister, for the rest of the family and for his friends. Many who are now describing him as a caring, loving person who always had a positive attitude, who loved the outdoors especially fly fishing. He kept in touch with a lot of these friends via Facebook, one of them even telling CNN that she essentially got a chance to say good-bye. Now, his social media is filled with condolences, people honoring and remembering a friend, a brother, a teacher, and a brave man. Boris, Kristin?
FISHER: Well, here's a question we all want an answer to. Will adults need to get another booster shot to remain protected against COVID-19? We're going to bring you the very latest and try our best to answer that question right after this break.
SANCHEZ: Taking a look at some of your top stories this morning. We start with some sad news. Alaska Republican Congressman Don Young has passed away. Young was the longest-serving member of the current Congress. He was 88 years old. In his 25th term, he won his first one back in 1973. Young was the only representative from Alaska. He served on the House Natural Resources Committee. His office remembering him today as a fierce defender of Alaska who died with his wife at his side.
FISHER: In Alabama near the Gulf Coast, six people are injured after severe storms ripped across the southeast causing strong winds, hail, even tornadoes. Cleanup continues this morning after the damage seen here. The Escambia County Sheriff's Office said that the six injured are being treated at a local hospital.
And Moderna is now seeking emergency use authorization for an additional COVID booster shot. But unlike Pfizer and BioNTech, which are only seeking another dose for people over 65, Moderna wants approval for all adults to get a fourth shot.
SANCHEZ: Joining us this morning is primary care physician, Dr. Saju Matthew. Doctor, thanks for being up with us this morning. Should all adults be preparing to get another booster shot?
SAJU MATTHEW, PRIMARY CARE PHYSICIAN: Yes, good morning Boris and Kristin. I think that we should. You know, this BA.2 variant is already gaining steam. The W.H.O. declared that it's about 75 percent of the cases worldwide already. And in the U.S., we're about 23 percent, 25 percent. We also know that the BA.2 variant is more contagious than its cousin, Omicron, which is already probably as contagious as measles.
And Boris, with low vaccination rates in the U.S., and, by the way, we only have about 30 percent of Americans boosted, I think number one, we should make sure that people that are not boosted should get that first booster shot, and most likely, we're going to find out that 65 years and older will need a second booster shot because of waning immunity.
FISHER: And so, how about Pfizer? Do you think that company is going to end up amending its request to include all adults as well?
MATTHEW: I think so. I think that what Moderna is trying to do is actually be a pretty smart is, they're going ahead and saying, hey, listen, we make a recommendation for all populations, all age groups so they don't have to piecemeal the data so-to-speak. I think ultimately, Kristin, all of us will require those that are eligible to require vaccinations, will that second booster shot for the reasons that I just mentioned.
I got my booster shot back in October, so I'm pretty much at that six- month mark where my antibodies are probably waning.
And I think we absolutely have to take heed. We had five other warnings from Europe, what happens in Europe a few weeks later happens here in the U.S. So, I think we should be prepared for a possible booster shot or second booster shot for, first of all, adults 65 and older.
SANCHEZ: On that note, doctor, as cases of the BA.2 variant are rising in the United Kingdom and across Europe, what should the United States and the CDC be doing now to prepare for a potential surge?
MATTHEW: Right, I mean, you know, Boris, I've been very outspoken on social media, number one, for CDC's mask guidelines, where they said if you live in a low community level, you can take your mask off. I definitely don't think that it was worth taking our masks off as Dr. Raynard(ph) had mentioned yesterday for a month. It didn't make sense. Masks are basically the basic measure that we should keep to prevent the transmission of the virus.
And we need to get prepared with these oral antiviral pills. The oral antiviral medication called Paxlovid by Pfizer really does help people who have COVID, who are recovering at home. But I have to call about five pharmacies the other day to get it for an 82-year-old female. So, do we have enough supplies? Do we have enough antibody infusions? And guess what?
Just recently, Congress cut $15 billion in the vaccine and pandemic preparedness plan that the White House had put forth. So, I think that we're not really taking heed, we're not getting prepared. And as I mentioned one time as well on air, I think that we are all what we always do in the U.S. is react. We should be proactive and make sure that we're prepared ahead of time.
FISHER: Well, speaking of reacting, doctor, as you know, most states have already dropped almost all of their COVID restrictions. But Dr. Fauci says that the country must be able to go back to -- and I'm quoting here, any degree of mitigation that is commensurate with what the situation is. So, I'm curious what you think. I mean, at this point, do you think that people are actually going to go back to masking, social distancing, perhaps even remote learning if they're asked?
MATTHEW: To be honest with you, Kristin, I'm not trying to be pessimistic, but I think that is going to be a hard sell. You know, it's been really difficult already. I think that for most of us, we've always been on our own to decide, you know, what should I do? The CDC has sent out a lot of mixed messaging, a lot of late messaging. And I think the current mask guidelines being prematurely lifted is just one way that America is saying, we're tired of the pandemic.
But I've always said, the virus is not tired of us. We should still have the basic mitigation guidelines. I agree, if the cases are down, we should be able to backup, but a mask is a basic mitigation guideline, vaccines are basic, booster shots are basic, and we should still live our lives, but we must do it cautiously.
SANCHEZ: Dr. Saju Matthew, appreciate the expertise as always. Thank you, doctor.
MATTHEW: Thank you.
SANCHEZ: Legendary Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski is chasing a sixth and final national championship before he leaves the big stage. But as he heads into retirement, his greatest impact will be off the basketball court.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI, HEAD COACH, DUKE UNIVERSITY: When a youngster, a young boy or a young girl comes through our doors, we want them to feel like there's hope, that there's somebody who is going to help them, but even more importantly, there's somebody who is going to believe in them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FISHER: Coach K's final run at a national championship has officially started. And after more than four decades, the 75-year-old is retiring after the NCAA tournament. So, Coy Wire is with us now. You know, Coy, Boris and I, we had to go to bed pretty early last night. So, bring us up to speed --
COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: They did --
FISHER: How did Duke do last night?
WIRE: They did. All right, you didn't miss much, Kristin, good morning to you. And Boris, we may never see something like this ever again, what coach Mike Krzyzewski has done. It'd be like a new coach leading a team until the year 2064, winning five national titles along the way. And whether he gets that sixth national title will be determined over the next three weekends. Couldn't have started any better.
The second-seeded blue devils taking down the big west champs, Cal State Fullerton 78-61, all five starters scoring double digits in this one. Now, Coach Mike Krzyzewski is a difference maker who's led generations of Blue Devils to excellence, including the 100 percent graduation rate that his teams routinely register.
But it goes beyond that, he's center for individuals from low-income families and power students from first grade through college, changing lives forever, dedication to education was instilled in him as a kid. Listen.
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KRZYZEWSKI: You know, my mom passed away in 1996, she only had an eighth-grade education. She was a -- she used to clean offices in downtown Chicago, but she believed in education. And so, we were not poor, but we were a low-income family. And basically, the center is built on that. You know, there are a number of parents who are -- believe in education from low-income families.
And we try to help them to fulfill their dreams of getting an education. When a youngster, a young boy or a young girl comes through our doors, we want them to feel like there's hope, that there's somebody who is going to help them, but even more importantly, there's somebody who is going to believe in them.
And as they learn through education, you know, they get better. They also learn to believe in themselves. And that's what you see today with these students who are in college right now and are flourishing as a result of the help they've gotten here at the Emily Krzyzewski Center.
To me, you don't have to say anything when you walk in the center, you feel the center. Especially when the kids are here, it's -- there's a feeling like everybody is happy. Everybody is helping one another. It's a great team.
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WIRE: Coach K., difference maker. His Blue Devils face Michigan State in the round of 32 tomorrow. Back to you.
SANCHEZ: Coy, how is your bracket doing? Is it already busted?
WIRE: It's doing great. Stanford still winning -- oh, wait, that's the women's side. Men's side, busted. Can't play with that --
SANCHEZ: Yes, mine was busted before I even filled it out. Coy Wire, thanks so much --
WIRE: Good to see you --
SANCHEZ: Always appreciate it. So, at the top of the hour, we're going to take you back to Ukraine. President Zelenskyy calling for immediate peace talks. We'll be right back.