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New Day Sunday

U.S. Sees Boost In Shots And Stimulus In Race To Recover From COVID; Officials Warn Of Ongoing COVID Threat As Spring Break Kicks Off; Experts Warn Vaccine Hesitancy May Delay Herd Immunity; Senate To Vote On Secretary Of Interior Nominee Deb Haaland; Parents Sue Over Remote Learning, Demand Return To Classroom; Pandemic Takes A Toll On The Mental Health Of Americans; U.K. Minister: Policing At Vigil "Very Upsetting"; Radical Disparities Persist In Vaccine Access Across U.S. Aired 6-7a ET

Aired March 14, 2021 - 06:00   ET




JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will not relent until we beat this virus, but I need you --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Health officials are also deeply concerned Americans are letting their guard down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As I was walking down the street I noticed the bars are just filling up. It seems like people have been dying to get out and party.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These are the faces of the immigration surge on the U.S.-Mexico border.

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE SECRETARY: There are more children coming across the border than we have facilities for.

GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): There is a crisis on the Texas border right now. This crisis is a result of President Biden's open border policy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In Texas tornadoes are now the latest concern.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're talking about a level four out of five. So you're talking of few tornadoes, large hail, that could be about baseball size.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my God. It's a full condensed tornado.


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

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Look at Miami, beautiful starting this Sunday morning. Good morning to you. Thanks so much for being with us. Big progress on both shots and stimulus this weekend. Of course, the goal is to get the economic aid and coronavirus protection to millions of people.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. Direct deposits of the $1,400 relief payments are hitting bank accounts now. Those waiting on paper checks and prepaid debit cards they're expected to get those before the end of the month.

Now, records in the COVID vaccine rollout we want to tell you about too. Yesterday the CDC reported nearly 3 million doses were administered. One in five Americans has now received at least one dose of a vaccine.

BLACKWELL: But is the progress at risk? Some health officials are keeping up their warnings about variants. They see states ease restrictions and air travel hit pandemic records just as the spring break kicks off.

PAUL: Yes. Experts point out that it has led to surges before. They don't want to see recent history repeat itself. CNN's Natasha Chen reports from Miami Beach.


NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The U.S. is vaccinating more people every day. Seeing lower hospitalizations, lower daily deaths and lower cases, but lower only relative to a few months ago.

Late last week there were three consecutive days of more than 50,000 new cases and 1,500 new deaths reported each day. And it's coming as states continue to loosen restrictions and in some cases lift mask mandates.

DR. FRANCIS COLLINS, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: Boy, is that the wrong time to do that. We have this slightly troubling, maybe more than slightly troubling variant B.1.1.7 that is now about 30 percent of the isolates in the U.S. and we know is more contagious. So if there was ever a time to put on the mask this is it.

CHEN: The Texas attorney general has sued the city of Austin for continuing their mask requirement after the state lifted its mandate. The mayor of Galveston said he has to honor the governor's orders.

MAYOR CRAIG BROWN, GALVESTON, TEXAS: I think each community makes their own decision. I think Austin, Round Rock, and that area there, they're one of the few areas in the state that has been pushing back on this. And we'll see how that plays out. We consulted with our city attorney here in Galveston and the consensus was that we do not have any flexibility with this order, and so we are honoring the governor's orders.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody got a mask?


CHEN: In Florida the state order doesn't allow local jurisdictions to fine people for not following a mask requirement. So all the Miami Beach authorities can do for spring break tourists is give out free masks in hopes people will wear them. The mayor told me it's a problem of mixed messaging where leaders have different attitudes about COVID restrictions.

MAYOR DAN GELBER (D), MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA: When a hurricane comes we all stand up and we point to the public and every -- from the lowliest mayor to the governor to the president gives exactly the same advice. And people when they see that, OK, I guess I got to evacuate or I got to do something to be safer. But right now I get emails every day from people still mad at me about the mask mandate.

CHEN: While some states like Florida have already allowed businesses to be fully open for months, other regions are just now relaxing more restrictions. Los Angeles County, for example, will allow indoor dining and movie theaters to operate at reduced capacity for the first time in about nine months. And with more than 35 million people in the U.S. fully vaccinated and a stimulus package passed there is hope including the teachers and families getting back to the classroom.


BECKY PRINGLE, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL EDUCATION ASSOCIATION: The smile you see on my face right now, Jake, is the light at the end of this very dark tunnel.

CHEN: Natasha Chen, CNN, Miami Beach, Florida.


PAUL: Dr. Rob Davidson with us now. He's an emergency room physician in West Michigan and executive director of the Committee to Protect Medicare. We just heard her say we are at the end -- we see the light of this dark tunnel. I have heard you say, please don't forget we are in the tunnel. Help us understand what you're thinking when you see some of the pictures coming out of Florida and Texas right now.

DR. ROB DAVIDSON, WEST MICHIGAN EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN: Yes, I think that's exactly right. We do see that light, but it's still a tunnel that we're in.

You know, just the other day, yesterday, I saw a young person who hadn't been wearing a mask because they had figured, well, it's not really going to affect me. I'm a young person. I should come through this OK. On day two of symptoms comes in with extremely low oxygen with COVID, gets admitted to the hospital. We know the worst is around day 7 or 8. So this person is in for a long rocky road.

And seeing so many people, we know tens of thousands of people in this country with this COVID long haul syndrome is what they're starting to call it, who have recovered, who have gotten out of the hospital. But I've seen a couple in the past few weeks, young people who still can't climb a flight of stairs, still can't get to work three months after they were discharged from the hospital.

This is a reality that we're in. And as we see that light, we don't want to ruin it now. We don't want to play the same game we played last year with the politics dictating rather than the public health and get into another surge.

BLACKWELL: So, let's talk about some of the restrictions that are being lifted. Movie theaters in Los Angeles County open -- reopen tomorrow, 25 percent capacity, 6 feet of space between each group in all directions. Do you think that's safe?

DAVIDSON: You know, I think everything is on a scale, right? So absolutely safe would be to keep them closed. But if you're doing it at reduced capacity, if you're maintaining distance and people are mandated to wear masks throughout and someone is checking on that and enforcing that rule, you know, I think it's relatively safe.

We all have to decide. Certainly if you've been vaccinated it's a lot safer. So we just have to know it's a dimmer switch and people have to get the communication that if things start to get bad again that they're going to shut those kinds of things down and they have to expect that could happen.

PAUL: So you just mentioned long haulers before this, people who are suffering from fatigue and brain fog and headaches. And I have to be really transparent here. This is my husband. My husband is a long hauler. He had it in July. He's still feeling it.

And I know a lot of other people are well. This is becoming more common, these long haul symptoms. Should long haulers, I've heard people ask, should they get the vaccine?

DAVIDSON: They should get the vaccine, they absolutely should. Because we don't know how long that native immunity lasts. We don't know how robust it is compared to the studies that have shown the kinds of immunity you'll get from a two-shot or a one-shot vaccine that are now on the market.

So, absolutely. We want to protect them and we want to protect everyone around them as well.

BLACKWELL: One of the side effects of the last year has been the reduction in childhood immunizations. CDC director, Rochelle Walensky, reported during the White House briefing that CDC orders for childhood vaccinations dropped by about 11 million. How does that factor into the plan to get children back into school and what will be the practical impact of that?

DAVIDSON: Yes, I think that's significant and I think we have to do a better job of letting people know it's safe to get back into your doctor's office, that these offices all have strict rules as far as masks and distancing. But in the vast majority of those cases, there is a herd immunity, the thing we've talked about with COVID that's been so elusive. There is herd immunity that exists with so many of those diseases, measles, mumps, rubella, everything these kids get vaccinated against. So there's a level of protections simply because the population is immune. But, yes, it's critical that they get back in and I'm sure that we're going to get back on track.

PAUL: Since you're in Michigan, Dr. Davidson, I want to ask you about what happened on Friday, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced that by April 5th Michiganders 16 and older will be able to get the vaccine. So she's expanding the eligibility there.

There was an advisory to the Kent County Health Department there, Jeff Byrnes, in a report on "Bridge Michigan" who says this about that expansion. He says, "Throwing open eligibility to young adults allows the technology savvy to push inside first. You can easily have those older and sicker people lose their spot. They will be bowled over because all those eager 25-year-olds know exactly how to hit refresh repeatedly all night until they get through."

We know that some young people actually feel guilty about the potential of getting vaccinated when we know there are people who need it as well possibly more than they do. But is it a valid concern of expanding eligibility that the most vulnerable may be pushed out?


DAVIDSON: Well, I think we have to do all of the above, right? We have to be helping folks that are maybe technology constrained get vaccinated and get signed up for those. And I know that the state and the health department is working on that.

There's money from the federal government that is directed toward that and our state legislature has been holding that up over some kind of political fights. So we want that to all occur.

But, listen, the more people we get vaccinated across the board the closer we get to herd immunity in the state and everyone gets protected. So I think it's the right thing to do to open this up as long as they are sure that they're going to have the vaccine doses they need and I trust the team that that's the case.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Everyone is going to have to get this or should get it at some point. Dr. Rob Davidson, thanks so much. Enjoy the week.

DAVIDSON: Thanks. You too.

PAUL: Thank you, sir.

So fresh off a major victory on the COVID relief package, the president and Congress are looking ahead to their next challenge, immigration.

BLACKWELL: Plus, the sports announcer in Oklahoma, maybe you heard this clip. He's blaming diabetes for using a racist slur during a basketball game.



PAUL: Packed week for Congress here. Tomorrow a group of House Republicans are visiting the U.S.-Mexican border in Texas and the Senate is expected to vote on President Biden's 13 cabinet picks.

BLACKWELL: CNN's Daniella Diaz is up on Capitol Hill for us this morning. So what do we expect to see, Daniella? And good morning.

DANIELLA DIAZ, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Good morning, Victor and Christi. It's going to be a busy day on Capitol Hill this week. Starting with a group of Republicans, led by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, are traveling to El Paso to tour a migrant processing facility and this has been a major issue. Republicans have been hitting the Biden administration on this influx of migrants crossing the border in recent weeks. Here's what Kevin McCarthy had to say about this issue during his weekly press conference this week.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY(R-CA): So, on Monday I'm going to the border. I'm taking 12 members with me from the committees of jurisdiction, looking for ourselves, working on trying to find a solution. But we know the solution is quite easy because most of this is all caused by Biden's action.


DIAZ: So as you heard there, he and other Republicans are blaming the Biden administration for why this influx is happening across -- on the border. And it's happening amid a global pandemic which is an issue that they keep bringing up over and over which is why they're going to the border tomorrow to tour this processing -- migrant processing facility.

And that's not the only thing happening about immigration on the Hill this week. The House is going to take up two separate bills on immigration. The first being a bill that if passed, would allow dreamers to apply for citizenship, and the second being a bill that would reform a visa program for agricultural workers.

And not only is the House taking up those two bills for a vote. They are also taking up renewing the Violence Against Women Act. And in the Senate, they will vote on whether Deb Haaland will be confirmed to be Biden's secretary of the interior which would mark the 13th out of 15 cabinet nominations. Biden needs to have a full cabinet in his administration. So super busy week here in Washington as well as across the country and Congress.

PAUL: No doubt about it. Danielle Diaz, good to see you. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: So a high school basketball announcer in Oklahoma has apologized for using a racist epithet during a live stream of a state tournament.


MATT ROWAN, SPORTS ANNOUNCER: They're kneeling? (EXPLETIVE DELETED). I hope Norman get their (EXPLETIVE DELETED) kicked.


PAUL: So, in a statement obtained by CNN announcer Matt Rowan said -- quote -- "While the comments I made would certainly seem to indicate that I'm a racist. I am not." He said he is a diabetic and his sugar was spiking. And Rowan claims he doesn't believe he would have made the comments if that didn't happen. The school, which was hosting the tournament, by the way, said it has terminated their contract with the broadcasting company.

OK. Up next we're taking a closer look at mental health during the pandemic. Examining how everything from shutdowns to restrictions have taken a toll on people and families, too. All families. We'll talk about that in a moment. Stay close.



PAUL: So a year now into this pandemic, we know remote learning has had a very real impact on the mental health of students.

BLACKWELL: And one frustrated group of parents they're suing to immediately get their kids back into the classroom. CNN Bianna Golodryga has more on why they believe this was a necessary step.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The garbage workers who pick up my freaking trash risk their lives, every day, more than anyone in this school system.

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN SENIOR GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST (voice-over): Across the country, exasperated parents, like this Virginia dad, are demanding more of their school boards.

KERI AVELLINI DONOHUE, ATTORNEY: It's maddening because, why is my kid suffering and other kids get to be in school? It's a game and the kids are being used as pawns.

GOLODRYGA: Attorney Keri Avellini Donohue was representing 17 equally frustrated families, pro bono, in lawsuits against two New Jersey school districts, Montclair and South Orange-Maplewood. It's been almost a year since students filled the classrooms in these districts.

DARYN SIROTA, MOTHER: This has been such a tremendous battle for all of us.

GOLODRYGA: The suit asserts that students have been denied their right to an in-person education.

SIROTA: I myself is a teacher. Children need to be in school, with their peers, with their teachers, working collaboratively.

DONOHUE: Oh, really?

GOLODRYGA: For Donohue, these cases hit close to home.

DONOHUE: The Department not responding to my own child's specific needs and realizing oh, you know, not that they're not going to open the schools and it was kind of like, I could do this, you know? I'm going to speak up for her because no one is speaking for the kids.

GOLODRYGA: Her 11-year-old daughter Mary (ph) has not set foot inside of a classroom since last March.

GOLODRYGA (on camera): What grade are you in?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm in sixth grade.

GOLODRYGA (on camera): Do you worry about when you can possibly return back to school?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I always ask Mom, "When am I going back to school?" She says she doesn't know.

GOLODRYGA (voice-over): Diagnosed with ADHD, Mary (ph) had been on an Individualized Education Plan or IEP prior to the pandemic and had been thriving.

DONOHUE: She did so well that they said when she goes into middle school, she no longer needs like the intense like special services.

GOLODRYGA: Today, Donohue says her daughter is a completely different person and refuses to participate in online classes.

DONOHUE: She's progressively declined to the point, where she's diagnosed with high levels of anxiety and depression.


And it was recommended that we put her like on antidepressants, to help her get back to a somewhat normal state. It's heartbreakingly sad.

GOLODRYGA: The family she represents in the lawsuit describes similar setbacks.

ANNA FERGUSON, MOTHER OF SECOND GRADER: He was a star pupil a year ago, thriving, happy. All of his in-school supports were helping him. My son is in emotional mess now. He's depressed. He's not interested in anything. He doesn't talk.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He wasn't even participating. He wasn't turning his camera on. And this is a kid, who had tested as gifted in the 99th percentile, now getting essentially D level grades.

GOLODRYGA: Similar lawsuits have been filed against school districts and Teachers' Unions in over a dozen states, from Maryland to Kentucky, Wisconsin and California.

BIDEN: Getting our schools back open safely. Right now-- GOLODRYGA: But while the push to reopen schools has garnered national sympathy from the White House, there's little the federal government can actually do. The majority of the country hinges on decisions made by local school districts.

For these moms, the battle is halfway over. On Thursday, the Montclair School District, one of the two named in Donohue's lawsuit, reached a deal to return to the classroom April 12th.

SIROTA: And I'm so, so grateful to her.

GOLODRYGA (on camera): You know your mom is out there fighting for you.


DONOHUE: Thank you.

GOLODRYGA (voice-over): Bianna Golodryga, CNN, New Jersey.


PAUL: So we're entering a second year of the coronavirus pandemic really at this point, if you think about it, and our mental health is still something that a lot of people think we aren't talking about enough. Now we know about 41 percent of Americans have reported experiencing mental health issues related to the pandemic.

And there's a real crisis among health care workers. More than 20 percent say they have experienced anxiety and depression or some form of posttraumatic stress in the last year. How do we move forward and better manage our emotional well-being?

Psychiatrist and former president of the American Medical Association Dr. Patrice Harris is with us now. Dr. Harris, we are so grateful to have you on board with us here. I do want to ask you to help us understand the degree of which people are dealing with anxiety and depression. What are you hearing?

DR. PATRICE HARRIS, VISITING PROFESSOR, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF PHYSICIANS AND SURGEONS: Well, since March we have seen survey after survey where the participants say that this pandemic has affected their emotions. They are experiencing more anxiety, more depressed mood. They're unable to sleep. Increased feelings of loneliness and isolation and, of course, a lot of issues around grief.

We don't talk about mental health enough. And we are not talking about grief because certainly we know so many of our next door neighbors and others lost loved ones. Actually lost loved ones, particularly in black and brown communities. But there was also a disruption in our lives, in children's lives. And so they did not get to experience those milestones. Those are very important, particularly to children.

So there's no question that we have to talk about mental health. And you know, not in a doomsday manner. Not, we are all doomed, but we should be right now planning. You know, just as we need to prepare for public health emergencies, we need to prepare to be able to meet the mental health needs of folks going back to school, going back to work. That will be an adjustment. It won't be easy.

PAUL: So, are you saying that you anticipate more mental health issues as we try to swing back into some sort of normalcy?

HARRIS: Well, we are seeing those now, right? And those are not going to turn off immediately.

I appreciate the story as a child psychiatrist. I do know that children need to be back in school. Although I do want to note that there are some children who perhaps were bullied before in school and were anxious in school that might be doing a little bit better.

But that just goes to show you that there is the universe of folks who have different feelings, different emotions, different coping skills. But I hope the expectation is not that as soon as we get our children back in school there's going to be an off switch and everything will be OK.

The lingering impact of this pandemic, again, will not immediately go away. And so we will have to have the resources. We will have to have infrastructure. We have not had a well-funded mental health infrastructure in this country for years, so we are going to need all of those resources and we will need those to be ongoing.

And we need to routinize talking about this. There is still a lot of shame and stigma. I can tell you that from the health side and the health system side, we are already thinking about putting in systemic solutions to help for -- help professional burnout.


PAUL: OK. So let me ask you this because you made a great point that there are some kids that may be doing better at home than they actually did in school. I mean, this isn't necessarily across the board, this anxiety about needing to be back in school. But there are parents who fear that their children are suicidal as well.

We know that the suicide, thought, you know, that contemplation has gone up, and that -- with that anxiety and that disconnect the people are feeling. So, what guidance can you give to parents who want to get their child help, especially as you mentioned, resources are so important, and some don't have those resources to do so?

HARRIS: So, the first thing, and I'm so glad parents are listening so that they can -- and watching so that they can notice when they're children, and of course, aren't, you know, their usual selves. And actually, none of them are at this point. But when they are really sad, really tuned out, listening to where they are hinting and saying things like, I may not want to be here anymore, that is a medical emergency. And they should call 911.

You know, there are suicide lifeline, suicide prevention lines, hope lines that have been set up in states and counties. So, I tell parents to listen. Talk to their children. Let them know it's OK for them to say when they're not doing well, when they are sad, or even having thoughts that they don't want to live anymore, and then have a plan.

You know, we talk about families having a plan when there's a fire. I want families to have a plan to talk more, just routinized these conversations about mental health, how are you feeling, it's OK. And let's have a plan for help. If you don't have insurance, let's make sure we have the 1-800 number available. Let's make sure we have three or four numbers available. There are new apps, there are new text lines, but you should have those plans in place ahead of time.

So, I urge all families to have a plan, have a mental wellness, mental health plan right at the moment just as they have a plan for when there's a fire in the house or when there's a medical emergency in the house.

PAUL: That is such brilliant information and what a great idea. Dr. Patrice Harris, listen, we know this has been stressful on you and the medical professionals as well, so we're thinking about you and we are absolutely grateful for your insight today. Thanks for taking time for us.

HARRIS: Thank you for having me.

PAUL: Of course.

BLACKWELL: Up next, a show of solidarity for victims of sexual harassment and assault after a woman is murdered in London while walking home.



BLACKWELL: All right, so we've got this snowstorm that's coming this weekend. seven million people under winter weather threats right now. Blizzard warnings in effects for parts of Wyoming, Nebraska and South Dakota.

PAUL: Yes, let's talk about the south, Texas. Look at this tornado outside of Amarillo. It overturned a tractor-trailer on the highway. You can see the tractor-trailer there, not the tornado, but that is just one of several reported trucks that turned over.

BLACKWELL: Meteorologist Allison Chinchar is with us now with the forecast. So, what can we expect?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Pretty much more of the same that we saw yesterday. And in some cases, especially when talking about the snow, the worst is actually yet to come. The severe side however, that's a little bit different. The good news there is the worst of it was definitely yesterday. And we had a very busy day, 11 total tornado reports, 17 damaging wind reports and 12 large hail reports all from yesterday mainly focused around Texas and Oklahoma. Today, the threat shifts east, but the good news is it also decreases

a little bit as well. Now, we still have the potential for some isolated tornadoes and damaging winds mainly focused around areas of Western Mississippi and Tennessee, portions of Arkansas and northern Louisiana. And that's really going to be the focus for this afternoon and into the early evening hours as the storm finally starts to actually begin to shift east.

If you recall, Friday and Saturday, it really didn't move all that much, but now we're going to start to see some of that forward progression. The western side of the storm where we're getting all of the snowfall, as we mentioned, today really could be the worst day for a lot of these areas. Some snowfall rates of around two to three inches per hour are expected across areas of Wyoming, Western Nebraska, and even portions of Northern Colorado.

But also notice now, you're starting to see some of those watches and warnings creep into areas of the Midwest because again, this system is going to start to slide east. So far, we've had at least about nine or 10 inches or so pretty widespread across areas of Colorado, Wyoming also picking up about eight to 10 inches, Denver picking up 7.2, Cheyenne, Wyoming picking up about eight. But again, a lot more of it is expected today in a lot of those same locations.

Here's a look at the forecast for today. Again, notice that -- a lot of that snow really starting to spread into the High Plains and also areas of the Midwest today. Places like Des Moines, Minneapolis Chicago, likely to get some snow showers out of this. The southern side of that, however, all focused on rain.

But looking at this, Victor and Christi, again, still about a foot of snow expected at least around that Denver to Cheyenne area, and then about eight to 12 inches spreading into portions of the Midwest.

PAUL: All right, Allison Chinchar, thanks for the heads up.

BLACKWELL: The British government is calling for an investigation after police aggressively broke up a vigil last night for a woman who was killed in London.


PAUL: Yes. U.K. ministers calling scenes like these that you see here. This is a visual for Sarah Everard is calling them "very upsetting." and another is demanding a full report as to what happened.

BLACKWELL: CNN Europe Editor Nina Dos Santos joins us live from London. So, what do we know about what happened there?

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN EUROPE EDITOR: Well, good morning to you. What we saw yesterday evening was essentially a peaceful vigil that had been canceled by the organizers because the Metropolitan Police had already warned them that it was in breach of COVID regulations. It was allowed to take place for an hour or so before finally the police force moved in and removed female protesters from that stand behind me. This is a bandstand in the area of Clapham in South London from the

area where Sarah Everard disappeared from 10 days ago. And the scenes were really quite poignant here. What you heard was many men and women arriving here, thousands of them with floral tributes that you can see behind me to essentially remember the life of a young woman who died senselessly at the hands of male violence here on the streets of London.

We spoke to people who said that they fear walking these streets in this area and other parts of the Capitol every single day. And also men expressed their desire to try and affect change. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Essentially, women have a curfew now.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As soon as it get dark out, you either have to be with someone or you have to be home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Often more men need to be, you know, held accountable for not just like the obvious things like, you know, following a girl or catcalling someone or anything like that, but like just the little things as well. You know, being in a group of just mates and maybe just like if somebody says something sexist or mildly sexist or a little bit along those lines, and they call them out.


DOS SANTOS: Well, what made things so emotional was the fact that the suspect in connection with Sarah Everard's kidnap, and her death was actually a serving member of the same Metropolitan Police force that stepped onto that stage to arrest women. Four women we know were arrested in connection with the events yesterday for having breached those COVID regulations.

That has prompted all sorts of condemnation from all sides of the political spectrum in the U.K. with demands for an urgent investigation into why the police force did what it did yesterday evening. Back to you.

BLACKWELL: All right, Nina Dos Santos for us in London, thank you so much.

PAUL: So, if eligibility for vaccine increases, race and ethnic disparities, they're continuing. Up next, how one county in Birmingham, Alabama is fighting pro-vaccine access.



BLACKWELL: This weekend, a health clinic that primarily serves a low- income black neighborhood in Birmingham, Alabama is finally scheduled to start administering doses of the Coronavirus vaccine. This is months after the vaccine rollout started, of course.

Now, the clinic just received its first vaccine shipment from the state last week. Critics say it's one of many examples across the country of inequality when it comes to vaccine distribution and vaccine access.

Joining me now, Sheila Tyson. She's a county commissioner in Jefferson County. That's where Birmingham is located. She's been highlighting the lack of vaccine access for black and brown people. Commissioner, thanks for being with us this morning.


BLACKWELL: So, the latest state numbers, and I've got them up on my laptop. I just checked again. In cases among were races reported in Alabama, 55 percent of the people who've received the dose of the vaccine have been white, 11 percent had been black. That's 16 points below the black population statewide. Why is this happening so many weeks still into this rollout?

TYSON: You know, because they didn't have a plan. It was never a plan for testing for the black and brown communities are the -- they consider as the low income community. It was never any plan for the vaccine to be given out within our areas. We had no one at the table to represent us doing these planning sessions.

So, when we started complaining about it, they had no idea of what they were doing. So, they could not even tell us when we will get the shots, you know. So, we never really -- they receive -- the ARMS receive shots from the Jefferson County Health Department. They never have gotten their shots for their clinic on their own yet.

They receive 200 -- I think 200 shots from the Jefferson County Health Department. Now, our Congresswoman Sewell, she has just got them from shots from the federal government that will be coming down to ARMS clinic. And that's in a black and brown community.

BLACKWELL: You know, when we've had this conversation, and we've been having it even before the first emergency use authorization, this conversation about hesitancy, and that is real for some people not as real as it is for white Republicans and that's we learned from the governor of Georgia. We'll talk about that next hour.

But access, access to the vaccine, you've talked about how some people that you represent don't have internet access, and that's a real barrier to getting the vaccine. Talk about some of the -- I guess, the elements that we don't usually discuss.

TYSON: Well, from the very beginning, the state knew the condition of the broadband within the areas that they were trying to give out the vaccines the little bit that we were receiving. The plan that they had was for people that had internet access. No concern, no preparation for people that was low income, without the internet service. They know how bad the internet service is within these areas. They had no plan. They was not prepared for transportation. A lot of

these areas are so far from the main downtown are from a health facility, they will -- still, they will take them some people up to an hour to drive just to get a vaccine shot. So, we had -- we had to deal with that, and it still is not worked out.

Right now, they set up a phone line, but it still has not like, penetrated the community like it should have.


BLACKWELL: Let me ask you about signing up online, because I have a friend actually from Alabama who pointed this out to me. For people who have internet access and control room, it's full screen too. If you try to make an appointment to get a vaccination at your local county health department and go to the Alabama Department of Public Health, they see this. Let's put it up.

This is a map. And all those little red dots are locations at county health departments where you can get a vaccine across the state. You see that hole in the center, that's Jefferson County. That word that maybe you can make out, that's Birmingham, the blackest big city in the state 70 percent black.

How is it possible that in Birmingham, and all these little counties around, you can do it online, you can't do it in Jefferson County to make an appointment to get a vaccination at the county health department?

TYSON: Well, even with that, when they are -- when they are administering the vaccines, the Jefferson County Health Department got the less amount of vaccines within the state. So, I think they first -- amount of vaccines --

BLACKWELL: Commissioner, let me ask you about the access. If I go onto my Web site, and you're a county commissioner, is this not under your purview to make sure that the county health department or the commission to make sure that people who can get access can go on to the Web site in Birmingham, in Jefferson County to make an appointment?

TYSON: Yes, it is. And that's why we addressed and made extra -- get on the phone system put in. Right now, they do have a phone system which is mandated through customer service agency. So, we have that set up now. But we just got to activate it this week.

BLACKWELL: But when are you going to make the change for the Web site.

TYSON: We are trying to make the change for the Web site right now. But that goes directly under the health department and the health department is a standalone agency.

BLACKWELL: All right, Jefferson County Commissioners Sheila Tyson, thank you so much for your time this morning. We'll be right back.


PAUL: Well, it's back, Selection Sunday, people. We missed it last year, we're getting it back now. College basketball's mad dash to a national champion, it starts later today.

BLACKWELL: This is my week to shine. Coy Wire is here.

PAUL: Is it?

BLACKWELL: Yes it is. Coy, I am -- you know, I started off really strong. I get really close to the end and then somehow it kind of falls apart. But it's a good week for me.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there are not many who are better at picking brackets than you. So, flag me some advice if you can. Good morning to you and Christi. Look, there is no need to wait for the tournament. March Madness is already here.

And let's talk about Georgetown, one of the best stories in college this season, The Hoyas, picked to finish last in the Big East preseason polls. They only had nine players -- they have nine players who've left the program, but they've won eight of their last 10 games to be crowned the Big East champs.

They're coached by NBA Hall of Famer Georgetown Legend Patrick Ewing. The Hoyas blasted number 17 created by 25 in the title game, 49 years through the day after Ewing's alma mater hired this coach and mentor, the late great John Thompson who passed away seven months ago. Ewing says it feels like fate. Listen.


PATRICK EWING, HEAD COACH, GEORGETOWN: It was ironic that 40 plus years ago, coach Thompson was hired at Georgetown. And it was on this day that he was hired. And you know today, we won the Big East Championship. They had us rank last, you know, and I keep talking about that Drake song.

And I'm sure Drake, you know, he's probably getting a lot of money, some more money now since I've been saying that so much. We started from the bottom, and now we're here. We started at the bottom, now we're number one.


WIRE: All right, now, let's go to a Hall of Fame Coach Rick Pitino back doing what he does best, taking teams dancing, this time Iona College. Five years after being forced out of Louisville after a federal corruption probe found that members of his staff helped funnel money to recruits, Pitino leads the Gaels to the Metro Atlantic title in his first season at the school.

Despite having more than a third of their games this season canceled due to COVID, Pitino becomes just the third coach ever to take five different schools to the NCAA Tournament. And now, it's a team with one of the most uplift coaches in college hoops. Check this out.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Coach, you're a champion, man.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm so proud of this guy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You had this championship, man.


WIRE: Georgia Tech Coach Josh Pastner getting love from his team there.