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New Day Sunday

Biden To Deliver First Joint Address To Congress Wednesday; At Least 82 Killed In Massive Baghdad Hospital Fire; Experts: U.S. At "Tipping Point" As Vaccine Enthusiasm Dwindles; Trial For Officer In Botched Breonna Taylor Raid Postponed Until 2022; New COVID-19 Cases Skyrocketing In India; Oscars Team Hoping To Beat Pandemic-Era Slump For 2021 Award Shows. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired April 25, 2021 - 07:00   ET



CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: So good morning to you, welcome to your NEW DAY on this Sunday. We're always grateful to have you. I'm Christi Paul.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Boris Sanchez. President Biden set to give his first joint address to Congress this week, and we're getting a snapshot at how Americans feel about his performance so far.

PAUL: And we have some breaking news to share with you out of Iraq this morning. More than 80 people have been killed at explosion and fire at a hospital, what we're learning about that this morning.

SANCHEZ: Plus, the haves and have notes, countries around the world in need of vaccines as the U.S. has millions of doses sitting on shelves. Should the United States be doing more to help other nations?

PAUL: And it's Hollywood's big night. How tonight's Oscars are going to look dramatically different than what you have seen before.


PAUL: Waking up on this Sunday, April 25th, we are so grateful to have you.

Hey, Boris, how are you doing?

SANCHEZ: Good morning, Christi, how is it going?

PAUL: You know, as good as it can be. Some of that wicked weather is right here. It was right here. I saw more hail yesterday than I have seen in a while. So --

SANCHEZ: Yeah, we're going to get that soon in D.C.

PAUL: Yeah, hunker down.

SANCHEZ: Yeah. And this week, President Biden is set to hit 100 days in office. He's going to get to tout what he has done so far, and what he wants to do when he addresses a joint session of Congress for the first time.

Meantime, a new ABC/"Washington Post" poll out this morning shows 52 percent approve of the job he's doing. His handling of the pandemic getting the highest marks, though a majority of Americans also say they want the president to aim for Republican support and make major changes to his proposals.

PAUL: The newest item on his to do list, by the way, is the American Families Plan. In his address, he's also expected to pitch an infrastructure overhaul. There are also those tense issues of reforming gun laws and policy.

Now, Senator Tim Scott is leading Republicans in negotiations on that police reform bill. He'll also be delivering the GOP response to President Biden's address.

CNN's Jasmine Wright is with us from the White House right now live.

We know the president has this big week ahead of him. Talk to us about what you expect to see.

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, lots of eyes will be on President Biden this week as he approaches that 100-day milestone. Now, we know that White House officials will try to really walk a delicate balance of touting his accomplishments for that 99 plus days that he has been in office, but also charting a path forward.

So on Tuesday, we know that he will give remarks on COVID. We know that the White House has hit that 200 million shots in the first 100 days mark that they wanted to hit, so he will likely talk about that. On Wednesday is that big joint session address. His first in his presidency.

Well, President Biden will begin look back at those last, I mean, those last few months but also his path forward and what he will roll out is that American families plan. What White House officials are calling human infrastructure, and it goes to paying for things like free pre-K free community college tuition, investing billions of dollars in training programs, paid family leave trying to train up this new work force.

Now, White House officials say President Biden will roll it out and he will talk about his priorities in this joint session address, not only that American families plan but also things on his mind. Take a listen to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki describe it here.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, he is currently thinking through what priorities he wants to focus on in the joint address, certainly recognizes this is an opportunity to speak directly with the American people. I also expect on his mind are issues like police reform, health and his commitment to expanding access to health care.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WRIGHT: So following that big joint session address on Wednesday, President Biden will take that sales pitch with that American families plan with his vision for the future now that they are continuing to try to turn the page on this pandemic on the road, hitting Georgia on Thursday -- Christi, Boris.

SANCHEZ: The open question now is how much of that agenda is going to get through Congress.

So we'll go from Jasmine Wright at the White House -- thank you, Jasmine -- to Capitol Hill, and CNN's Daniella Diaz.

Daniella, President Biden setting an ambitious list of goals.

What are we expecting from the Hill this week?

DANIELLA DIAZ, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Boris, it's going to be a big week in Congress, you know, with talks underway on some major issues, my colleague Jasmine just touched on some of them, but on infrastructure, immigration reform and police reform. You know, starting with infrastructure, Biden has already laid out what he wants in the first part of his legislation focusing on transportation, focusing on clean energy, but we're expecting him to eventually lay out what he wants to see in the second part on education and jobs.


And Republicans are already against this. They think it should have a smaller price tag, and propose their own legislation for smaller price tag on infrastructure and then you have immigration reform with Senator Dick Durbin restarting negotiations with the bipartisan group to tackle these two issues, these two bills that have passed the House on farm workers and Dreamers.

So, he says there's a long way to go on trying to pass a bill through the Senate on this issue. They need ten Republicans to support any legislation, at least ten Republicans on immigration reform to pass the Senate.

And then we have police reform. You know, Congresswoman Karen Bass, the former Congressional Black Caucus chairwoman spearheaded this issue on police reform through the House and is now negotiating on a deal with Senator Tim Scott, the only black Republican senator to try to cut a deal. They have some sticking points they're working through. You know, they're trying to cut some kind of deal before the year anniversary of George Floyd's death, which is May 25th.

And you know, mentioning Tim Scott, it's timely that he's doing this because he's expected to give the Republican response to President Joe Biden's address to the joint Congress on Wednesday. So, we're watching all of that, and Biden is expected to talk about these issues during his address -- Boris, Christi.

PAUL: Daniella Diaz, good to see you. Thank you so much.

CNN Political Analyst, Julian Zelizer, is with us now. He's a historian and professor at Princeton University. He's also out with this really great opinion piece for

What Biden's first 100 days might tell us about the rest of his presidency?

And, Julian, you write about the successes of presidents that are really judged at this 100-day mark, and they're also, which I did not know, most often compared to Franklin D. Roosevelt, and you wrote this, who had a wildly productive start to his presidency in 1933.

How does President Biden at this point size up to past presidents?

JULIAN ZELLIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it's not clear he's Franklin Roosevelt, who is the highest bar who passed 15 major bills through Congress in the first hundred days that remade what government did, but I think he's had a very substantial first hundred days. Biden pushed a major piece of legislation, the American Rescue Plan that included relief.

It included stimulus and much more and he's working on more bills. He's used executive power in areas like climate change, and he has made progress on the vaccine program. So, I think he ends this period feeling pretty good politically, and having put forward some important achievements.

PAUL: This new ABC/"Washington Post" poll that we put up earlier, I want to get your thoughts on it as well. Fifty-two percent of Americans they say approve of the president's work in office, that's lower than any president at 100 days in office since 1945. We know Gerald Ford and Donald Trump are the only presidents to have -- to be below 50 percent in that period.

But talk to us about what that rating tells you at this stage of the game, and what may be possible, what potential successes or, i.e. losses he may have from this point on. Does it tell us anything about what's coming?

ZELIZER: Well, the good news about President Biden is that his party remains relatively united around him, and his support is over 50 percent. The bad news is this might be a ceiling in an age of polarization. It might be very difficult, even for a popular president who seems to be liked personally, and who has support for his programs to really get much more support.

You live in a divided country. And this signals the kind of opposition that looms right around the corner.

PAUL: This speech on Wednesday is going to be historic for one particular reason that I want to pull out here. The two people who are going to be sitting behind him. We've got the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Kamala Harris. Talk to us about the significance of two women in those chairs behind him.

ZELIZER: Well, having two women in such high levels of power is a historic triumph for the nation, a nation where women didn't even have the right to vote when the country was created. They stand on the shoulders of many generations of feminist activists, and other female politicians who laid the groundwork. Having them there is a testament to the success of these changes and a reminder of all the progress that still is needed.

PAUL: So, we know Daniella went through the initiatives that President Biden is expected to talk about on Wednesday. What does history tell us, Julian, about the effectiveness of these addresses before these joint sessions of Congress at this point in his presidency to actuate real change in those initiatives that he's touting?


ZELIZER: They're limited. Look, most of these addresses are not actually remembered. The country moves on or they don't really become the kind of game changers that people hope for in speeches. But they can be notable.

I mean, Lyndon Johnson in 1963 famously said in the aftermath of Kennedy's assassination, let us continue, and he defined his presidency in relationship to the deceased president, or Ronald Reagan in 1981 pushed public debate to the right on tax policy and economic policy, leaving the speaker of the house when the speech ended to think I should have quit right there.

PAUL: So what do you anticipate is going to be the most watched and most scrutinized part of this address on Wednesday?

ZELIZER: Well, for me, it's how much progress does he make in this speech continuing to displace Ronald Reagan's famous adage that government is the problem, with his own Roosevelt kind of vision that government is actually the solution to our problems. And I want to see in this speech how much progress he makes on that front.

PAUL: And how long do you think it would take for us to see that progress or for us to at least gauge either success or failure in that regard.

ZELIZER: Well, let's have a conversation around the midterms and I think that's when the legislative agenda will definitely slow down and we'll see some of the political effects of what Biden has accomplished, and that's when we can look back to a speech like this and say what role did it play in this part of the story.

PAUL: Julian Zelizer, it's always so good to have you with us. Thank you for being here.

ZELIZER: Thanks.

PAUL: Sure.

And be sure to tune into "STATE OF THE UNION" this morning, Dana Bash's exclusive interview with Vice President Kamala Harris. It's at 9:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. Eastern.

Listen, there is a really terrible scene at a Baghdad hospital right now after oxygen tanks exploded and set off a massive deadly fire. SANCHEZ: Yeah, dozens were killed, more than a hundred injured as

emergency crews and medical staff raced to get patients out of the burning building.

CNN's Arwa Damon joins us now.

Arwa, Iraq's prime minister saying that this is a crime and it's going to be investigated. Is there any indication that this was intentional?

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: At this stage, no, and presumably the prime minister is referring to what he believes and many others as well to be gross negligence. There has been a lot of finger pointing at this stage. What we have been able to piece together, talking to some people but also from these absolutely horrific videos is that it appears that it was an oxygen canister that exploded inside one of the rooms, inside the COVID-19 intensive care unit.

And that initial images following the explosion, you see people running away, other -- a man coming forward with a fire extinguisher, trying to put out the flames, and the other images that we see are this fire engulfed the entire hospital itself. This is the infectious diseases hospital in Baghdad, and it was largely catering to COVID-19 patients.

We had been there back in February and inside these wards you don't just have patients. Iraq actually allows two family members to be inside along with their loved ones, and with the numbers of COVID arriving in Iraq, it was extremely busy at the time, happening at around 10:20 p.m. Baghdad time.

And what is especially disturbing is that it would seem that for around half an hour, the civil defense, the firefighters, didn't show up at the scene. The head of the civil defense was on Al Iraqiya TV, state run television, saying that, you know, the reasons behind the fire spreading so quickly was that the hospital hadn't been properly maintained, that these oxygen canisters maybe were not properly secured, but that the hospital also lacked infrastructure, such as fire retardant ceiling materials and that sort of thing.

But, also crucially, according to him, the reason why the civil defense didn't respond for half an hour was that they were not notified. The hospital alarm system was somehow faulty as well. And what makes this all especially tragic is that the hospital infrastructure, the medical infrastructure in Iraq has been languishing for decades. It never recovered from the sanctions dating back to the Saddam Hussein era, and after that, of course, you had consecutive year after year of war, not to mention rampant corruption.


And all of that has now resulted in this horrific tragedy.

PAUL: Arwa Damon, we appreciate all of the updated information. Thank you. Right now in the U.S., the vaccine supply may be higher than the

demand and if so, that brings the question, should the U.S. be sharing the excess vaccines that they have with places in the world that need them?

SANCHEZ: Plus, calls for transparency after police deputies shot and killed an unarmed black man in North Carolina. Why the sheriff says he wants the body camera footage released.


PAUL: So this health warning from health experts that say by mid May, the U.S. will likely be at a tipping point where there will be more vaccines, more doses than people who are willing to receive them.

SANCHEZ: Yeah, right now, about 40 percent of the country has received at least their first dose of the vaccine.


Only about 28 percent of the country is fully vaccinated. That means it's going to be even harder for the U.S. to reach herd immunity if vaccine hesitancy grows.

CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro joins us now.

And, Evan, in some places, there are a lot of available appointments. Have you been seeing that in New York?

EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I cannot tell you how weird it is to be someone who has covered this pandemic from New York in the beginning to see what I saw yesterday outside the Museum of Natural History in Manhattan. I saw nurses standing on the street literally saying, hey, I got the Moderna shot, come on in here. I got the Moderna shot, come get the shot.

People are worried they're not going to get these shots out, and they're not going to get enough time to get the herd immunity we need. It's all part of the new push to change the conversation around to actually getting people to want to get their vaccine.





MCMORRIS-SANTORO: CDC data says more than 225 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in the U.S.

DR. MIKE SAAG, ASSOCIATE DEAN, GLOBAL HEALTH UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA AT BIRMINGHAM SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: This vaccine is our ticket to ride. This is our ticket to freedom, of returning back to normal life as we knew it before the pandemic. MCMORRIS-SANTORO: The challenge now is making sure more American

adults want to get one. The seven-day rolling average of administered shots is showing a recent dip. Some administration officials worry it might be a sign that hesitancy is slowing the pace of doses. In New York, around 30 percent of adults are now fully vaccinated. That's a good number. But it's nowhere near what experts estimate is needed for herd immunity.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: It's somewhere between 75 and 80 percent of the population where you have a combination of people who are vaccinated and people who have recovered.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: A new tactic is offering incentives at the American museum of Natural History in Manhattan get your shot along with a free museum pass of four.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK CITY: This is one of the indispensable places in this city and that's saying a lot. A city full of magical places.

ANITA REYES, SITE LEAD, AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY: We want to make sure New Yorkers understand the importance of getting vaccinated, but also that we get people to feel comfortable in the setting.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Other vaccine incentives range from free donuts to free beer. After the CDC and FDA lifted the pause on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, there's a hope among health experts that this cautious approach will convince more Americans to get vaccinated is safe.

DR. HENRY BERNSTEIN, MEMBER, CDC ADVISORY COMMITTEE OR IMMUNIZATION PRACTICES: When that system works as it did in this case, it identifies signals that potentially could be problematic and require further investigation. And so, we will be monitoring this going forward.


MCMORRIS-SANTORO: So there are two big questions moving toward, the first is will that pause in the J&J vaccine cause more people to be wary of the vaccine. We just don't know the answer to that yet. I asked people yesterday in Manhattan. They said look, it's too early to tell about that.

The second one is do people like companies and governments have the right incentives to get folks to get these vaccines. If they don't, we may never reach that herd immunity, and that could be a big, big problem moving forward as we try to move out of this pandemic -- Boris and Christi.

SANCHEZ: Evan McMorris-Santoro, we appreciate your reporting. Thanks.

A devastating wave of COVID-19 cases in India is pushing that country's hospital system to the brink, 1.6 percent of India's population has been fully vaccinated. India is in desperate need of doses as countries like the United States now have plenty of vaccine supply on hand.

Here with us now to discuss is Lawrence Gostin. He's a Georgetown law professor and director of the WHO Center on Global Health Law.

Sir, thanks so much for spending part of your weekend with us. We appreciate it.

I want to share with our viewers something that you tweeted. You wrote, quote, it's a bitter irony, India was going to be the vaccine engine of the world. Now, it desperately needs vaccines itself. This pandemic spares no one.

You go one: We need billions of doses. We need equity and justice.

There are a lot of people sitting at home right now who might feel that the World Health Organization failed in getting answers from China about the origins of COVID-19, and they'll hear your arguments and they'll say, well, what about China? What about Russia or Europe? Why aren't they doing more to help developing nations?

So, what incentive do you think the United States has to lead this effort?

LAWRENCE GOSTIN, PROFESSOR, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY LAW CENTER: Well, just to begin with, the Chinese and Russian vaccines are not ones that I have a lot of confidence in but they actually have been exporting their vaccines to other countries. I think they have been very mercantile and geo strategic in doing it. So, I'm critical of that.

But whatever China and Russia does is not America's model.


America in my view has lost its moral voice. We were the ones that really prevented a horrific AIDS pandemic in Africa. We through our PEPFAR program and support of the global fund for AIDS, TB and malaria. We led on Ebola in West Africa, on Zika.

We just lost our moral voice. I think we have because we suffered so much, that we can't see the suffering in the rest of the world. But it's palpable how badly the rest of the world is suffering.

SANCHEZ: Aside from the moral reasons that you have presented, aren't there serious medical risks down the line if COVID-19 is left to fester and mutate in other parts of the world?

GOSTIN: Yeah, that's a really great point and it's an important one, because the United States, it's in our national security interests to help be a vaccinator for the world, because think of it this way, there are a lot of forest fires out there. And many of them are raging.

There's going to be more mutations, more variants of concern. They will eventually recede themselves back in the United States, and it might jeopardize our health and welfare, particularly if those mutations evade the current vaccines that we have. So, you know, this is a pandemic. It's not an epidemic or an outbreak

in the United States, and unless everyone is safe, no one is safe, and so it's absolutely crucial. And there are things we can do. We actually -- it's within our power to make a huge difference in the world.

SANCHEZ: So, I wanted to ask you from the perspective of the drug companies. They have argued that the technology to produce some of these vaccines, that mRNA technology was extremely expensive to put together. They can obviously be used to create an array of other vaccines and drugs.

So, from their perspective, this was not only an enormous expense, but it could cost them dearly to give it up. It may, they argue, hinder research and development going into the future.

So, what do you say to that argument?

GOSTIN: You know, I'm not a pharmaceutical company basher. You know, I recognize what wonderful things they have done and particularly in generating this vaccine.

But I make a couple of really obviously points, the first one is that a lot of the research and development money and also through Operation Warp Speed were provided by the taxpayer, by the American taxpayer. So, they have been publicly funded.

And secondly, and much more importantly, this is not the time to profit. It's not the time to profit in a global public health emergency. There's a huge global consensus, including by virtually all of our allies that this is not the time to profit.

And believe me, you know, you go to places like India, Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, they won't soon forget that there was a shot that could save their lives. And we refuse to share. And it's not just sharing the dose, you give one dose and you save a life, which is great.

But if you transfer the technology to a country like India, which is highly competent, you save a country. You save a world. Ultimately, you save ourselves.

So it's the morally right thing to do, but it's also in our interests to do it.

SANCHEZ: Yeah, it certainly seems to be a great opportunity for the United States to, once again, take a leadership role in the world and guide the world in places where other countries could not or would not.

Lawrence Gostin, thank you so much for the time. We appreciate your perspective.

GOSTIN: Thank you.

PAUL: Great conversation there. OK, we didn't go to the movie theaters this past year much, did we? We

could still watch some pretty incredible films as home, as you know.

Ma Rainey's "Black Bottom" starring the late Chadwick Boseman and Viola Davis is just one of the films that could be taking home a golden statue tonight. We have a preview of the Academy Awards and talk about where movies go from here after 2020.



SANCHEZ: We have some new developments to tell you about in the trial connected to the botched police raid that killed Breonna Taylor. The trial was originally set for this summer in August, but now, it's being pushed back until 2022, in February. The judge citing a backlog of delayed cases because of the COVID-19 pandemic as her reasons for pushing back the trial.

PAUL: Taylor, there you see her there, a 26-year-old aspiring nurse was shot and killed by Louisville officers in her own home during that raid last March.

Now, the judge denied that request from the officer's defense team to move the trial out of Louisville. They said due to too much publicity.

SANCHEZ: A motion to release the body cam video of a police shooting of a black man in North Carolina last week could be filed in court as early as tomorrow.

PAUL: The family of Andrew Brown Jr. with civil rights leaders by their side made a public plea yesterday for immediate release of that video showing Brown's death. The sheriff now saying he also wants that video released. The family's attorney talked with CNN's Jim Acosta.



BENJAMIN CRUMP, ATTORNEY FOR ANDREW BROWN JR'S FAMILY: What we believe is transparency is essential. It is essential, Jim. Why did the taxpayers pay all of this money to retrofit these officers with body cam video if when we needed it most, when it mattered most, they would not let the public see what has transpired.


PAUL: CNN's Natasha Chen has more for us.


NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It has now been more than three days since Andrew Brown Jr. was shot and killed by Pasquotank County sheriff's deputies Wednesday morning as they were executing a search warrant and an arrest warrant which the sheriff says was issued by an alcohol and drug task force. Now, the public has been calling for the release of the body camera

footage, including the family of Andrew Brown, Jr. And they're comparing this process to the speed at which other jurisdictions around the U.S. have released their body camera footage after similar police use of force cases recently.

It seems that other places have released video much sooner than this county here. The sheriff in Pasquotank County here explained on Saturday afternoon that it is not up to him. In a Facebook video that he posted, he explained that it requires a judge to grant the release of that video, and that if he gets the assurance of the state bureau of investigation, that releasing the video would not hinder the investigation, the county would also formally file a request on Monday to have that video released.

On Monday, we're going to potentially see a number of entities do the same thing. The Elizabeth City Council met in an emergency meeting on Friday to also request for that video to be released, and a number of news organizations, including CNN will also formally file for that video to be released. A lot of questions could potentially be answered by seeing this video. The family discussed that at a press conference Saturday afternoon where we heard from the oldest son of Andrew Brown Jr.

KHALIL FEREBEE, SON OF ANDREW BROWN, JR.: With all of these killings going on, I never expected this to happen so close to happen, like, he left a close and tight family with each other every day talking to each other every day, and we, my brothers, my sisters, we is what drove him as a person.

We is what made him better. And now I got to live every day, my newborn without even getting a chance to meet him at all. And that's going to hurt me every day. I just want justice.

CHEN: At that press conference, community leaders also referred to the 911 audio that has been publicly released where emergency responders are heard saying that Brown was found with a gunshot wound to the back, which is very concerning, of course, for the family, especially when a witness also told CNN that she saw deputies firing at Brown's vehicle as he was allegedly driving away.

So, again, many questions that could potentially be answered and helped by seeing the video which so far no one has seen, not the family, not city officials in Elizabeth City, and so people are eagerly awaiting those formal filings on Monday.

Natasha Chen, CNN, Elizabeth City, North Carolina.


SANCHEZ: Natasha, thanks so much.

In India, the COVID crisis is so desperate that people are being told to bring their own oxygen tanks to the hospital. More on a surge that could affect the world, next.



SANCHEZ: So this was part of our conversation earlier, and now we're going to dig a bit deeper because the situation with COVID in India is out of control. India is setting another world record for daily new infections yesterday.

PAUL: Take a look at this graph. It shows the skyrocketing increases in just the last few days, and this is happening so fast, think about it, just six weeks ago, India's prime minister declared the country was in the end game of the pandemic.

CNN's Anna Coren looks at how an oxygen shortage in India is making things so horrible right now.


ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christi, Boris, India is facing a national emergency as the second wave of COVID continues to set global records for a fourth consecutive day. On Sunday, the health ministry announced almost 350,000 daily infections and more than 2,700 deaths. Although health experts believe the real number could be five times higher as crematoriums operate around the clock, and hospitals continue to suffer from an acute shortage of oxygen.

One hospital chief we spoke to in New Delhi, where 20 critically patients died because the oxygen supply ran out. He was now turning away COVID patients unless they brought their own oxygen cylinders, and families could supply the oxygen. In the capital where half the cases of the more contagious variant now appearing in the U.K. and Switzerland, authorities have extended the citywide lockdown for another week.

And with less than 2 percent of the population fully inoculated, people over the age of 18 will now be allowed to receive the vaccine from the 1st of May despite there being a mass shortage of vaccine supply.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the second wave in his monthly radio broadcast saying that after successfully tackling the first wave, the nation's morale was high, it was confident, but this storm has shaken the nation.


All that confidence he's referring to is the government dropping its guide, becoming complacent and allowing life to resume as normal, which many say is the reason why India is now facing this catastrophe.

Back to you.


PAUL: Anna Coren, thank you so much.

NEW DAY continues in a moment.


SANCHEZ: Like the rest of the world, Hollywood was rocked by the pandemic. Theaters had to be shut down, new movie releases were either put on hold or released online.

PAUL: Yeah, and the producers of tonight's Academy Awards say it's still going to be like anything in Oscar history, the cinematic experience.

As Stephanie Elam reports, it may not be enough to attract what the industry really needs most right now and that is a big audience.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From struggle --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am a revolutionary!

ELAM: -- to desperation --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I need work, I like work.

ELAM: -- the times are felt in this year's Oscar nominees.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you concerned about an overreaction from the cops?

ELAM: But so is the silence, including from viewers, whose lack of interest made most award shows this year a bomb.

MATTHEW BELLONI, FORMER EDITORIAL DIRECTOR, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: If the ratings continue to decline, you're going to see some changes. I think some awards shows might go away.

ELAM: The Oscars want to reverse the trend. Gone is the internet remote access feel that hindered shows like the Golden Globes.

BELLONI: It ended up being like a bad version of an office meeting, and the Oscars don't want that.

ELAM: Enter Steven Soderbergh and Stacey Sher, the team -- ironically -- behind the film "Contagion." The pandemic will be a big theme, they say, but Soderbergh wants a show unlike any other.

BELLONI: And he has said that he wants the Oscars to feel like a movie. They're going to have shots from behind shoulders of people, moving cameras.

ELAM: To pull it off, the show is moving to a smaller venue, here to L.A.'s iconic Union Station, itself a star in Hollywood films like "Catch Me If You Can" and "The Dark Knight Rises."

ELAM: And with vaccines out and fewer restrictions, the biggest challenge may not be the pandemic, but the movies themselves. Absent of any theatrical hits like years past, this year, the best films come mostly from streaming platforms.

BELLONI: It's very different than choosing to go to a movie theater, buy your popcorn, sit in the theater and watch a movie. People just become attached to those movies in a way that they don't when they're on streaming.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please call me Mank.

ELAM: "Mank" leads with 10 nominations, but no "Nomadland" is the frontrunner for best picture.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, I know what I'm doing.

ELAM: Chadwick Boseman is expected to win a posthumous award for best actor, but the pressure to win may just be on the Oscars themselves.

BELLONI: Will they be able to get that audience back when there are movies in theaters, or is this just accelerating a trend that already existed, and those audience members are not coming back?

ELAM: In Hollywood, I'm Stephanie Elam.


PAUL: Zachary Pincus-Roth is with us, features editor for "The Washington Post" style section.

The Oscars -- I mean, they're called the Hollywood's biggest night for a reason, the star power and that the passion that's there. What is the expectation for actual eyeballs on it tonight?

ZACHARY PINCUS-ROTH, FEATURES EDITOR, WASHINGTON POST STYLE SECTION: Yeah, I think this year, that's the real worry. I think that people will not be really watching the Oscars this year. I mean, last year, it had 23.6 million viewers which is the lowest ever. And this year, I think there's the expectation that it will be even lower. All of the other award shows have had rating declines.

And this year, a lot of the movies are not well-known, a lot of them premiered on streaming services, and we cannot really be in the theaters as much as we have in the past. I think if you total up all the worldwide box office grosses for the best pictures nominee, it equally only $40 million.

So I think that will be the expectation that many fewer people will be watching the Oscars this year.

PAUL: So after years of protests, including the Oscars so white movement, there are a lot of people that feel the major nominees are a step forward in terms of diversity this year. But what key nominees stand out to you and are in that specific conversation.

PINCUS-ROTH: Yes. I mean, it's the first year that women have been nominated for best director. Emerald Fennell for "Promising Young Woman", and Chloe Zhao for "Nomadland". Chloe Zhao is actually expected to win, and that will make her the only second woman ever to win the best director in Oscar.

In addition, there is also in the past people feel that Asian actors have been sort of ignored by the academy. Last year, "Parasite" won best picture and none of the stars were nominated. This year, we have Juh-Jung Youn for "Minari", expected to win best supporting actress, and Steven Yeun is nominated for best actor.

And, in fact it could be that all four actors to win the acting categories are people of color. As you heard, Chadwick Boseman is expected to win a posthumous Oscar from Ma Rainey's "Black Bottom". Viola Davis could very win for Ma Rainey's "Black Bottom". Daniel Kaluuya is expected win best supporting actor for "Judas and the Black Messiah".

So, you could have all four actors be people of color.

PAUL: Yeah.

When we're talking about the fact that this was not the year to go to the movie theater, obviously, and how streaming services and those options really came up to -- to be the new opportunities here. Do you think that there are films that are getting recognition that maybe would not have had we not seen what happened in 2020 with this pandemic?

PINCUS-ROTH: Well, yeah. I mean, a lot of people talk about how the movies in this sort of -- this cohort, this year, are kind of a little less of a spectacle than in the past. You now, like "West Side Story", for instance, this movie from Steven Spielberg, the remake, was pushed to next year. So it wasn't competing at the Oscars this year.

And so "In the Heights", was another one that got pushed.


Those are sort of bigger musicals. And so, this year I think some of the smaller movies got to shine. And I think in the past, yes, as well some of the smaller movies do usually get nominated by the Oscars. But I think, this year, even more so, we saw movies that were kind of -- a little less of a bigger deal than the past years.

PAUL: OK. Zachary Pincus-Roth, we appreciate seeing you this morning. Thank you so much. We know you'll be watching.

PINCUS-ROTH: Thank you.

PAUL: And thank you for starting your morning with us. Make some good memories today.

SANCHEZ: Always great to see you, Christi.

PAUL: You too.

SANCHEZ: Another weekend in the books.