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New Day Sunday

FDA Panel Recommends Pfizer Boosters For People 65+; 14,000- Plus Migrants Living Under Bridge Awaiting Processing; Sources: CIA Warned Civilians Were Present Seconds Before U.S. Drone Strike Killed 10; Biden To Address World Leaders This Week Amid Major Challenges; Fourteen-Year-Old Cancer Survivor Pays It Forward. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired September 19, 2021 - 07:00   ET



BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much, Kristin Fisher, for that report.

The next hour of NEW DAY starts right now.

Buena dias. Good morning and welcome to your NEW DAY. I'm Boris Sanchez.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Boris.

I'm Christi Paul.

Listen, there is a humanitarian crisis unfolding along the U.S. southern border this morning. Thousands of migrants are overwhelming Border Agents and now the U.S. is ramping up deportation flights.

SANCHEZ: Plus, as COVID cases are surging, ICU beds are running out and hospital workers are overwhelmed by unvaccinated patients.

You're going to hear from a respiratory therapist who says her staff is now stretched beyond the limit.

PAUL: And here's an urgent warning. Moments before the deadly U.S. drone strike in Kabul that killed ten people, the CIA actually had warned there were civilians in that area.

SANCHEZ: And a history-making mission, an all-civilian crew splashing down to earth, the details on their return after three days in orbit.


PAUL: Welcome to your Sunday. September 19th. We are always so grateful to have your company. Hi, Boris.

SANCHEZ: Hey. Good morning, Christi. Always great to be with you.

PAUL: We love it. Thanks.

So let's talk about what's happening, the crisis along the southern border of the U.S. More than 14,000 migrants are living under that bridge you see there.

Look at that. They're waiting to be processed by immigration authorities. But you can see the tents and the blankets and this is basically their home right now.

SANCHEZ: Yeah, they're living in squalid conditions. The Department of Homeland Security is sending more Customs and Border Patrol agents to the region right now. Authorities are also taking steps to help alleviate some of the horrendous conditions in that makeshift city that they've built under the bridge.

CNN correspondent Rosa Flores has details.


ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Boris, Christi, we are starting to see federal and state resources descend on Del Rio as officials try to expedite the processing of thousands of migrants who are practically living under a bridge. DHS announcing Saturday their new strategy which includes things like a surge of 400 agents and officers, closing the port of entry, upping humanitarian action, increasing capacity of removal and expulsion flights to Haiti.

Local officials tell us one of the things they're very concerned about is the public health issue. Think about it. There are thousands of people in very close quarters living under a bridge.

Now I can't go there and show you exactly what's happening there because I can't go beyond the border fence that you see behind me, but here's what we've been able to see from where we are.

Take a look at this video and you'll see that there are border patrol agents rendering medical attention to a woman in the back of a pickup truck. I was close enough to hear what that officer was telling that woman. He was (SPEAKING SPANISH), that means, "stay with me, stay with me."

I asked the local mayor if DHS is giving him a timeline as to how long it's going to take them to process all these migrants, and he said the answer was no -- Boris, Christi.


SANCHEZ: Rosa Flores from the border with Mexico.

Let's get perspective now with Nicole Phillips. She's the legal director for the nonprofit group Haitian Bridge Alliance.

Good morning, Nicole. We appreciate you joining us today.

You said that this particular crisis at the border was preventable. Helps us understand why?

NICOLE PHILLIPS, LEGAL DIRECTOR, HAITIAN BRIDGE ALLIANCE: Good morning. Well, most of these Haitians have been in Mexico for a period of time, many, many months, often many, many years. They've been living at the U.S./Mexico border since as far back as 2016 trying to get across, trying to seek asylum.

But the border has been closed, largely to Haitians. It's been very, very difficult, if not impossible, for them to seek asylum at the border. Others have been stuck at the Mexico Guatemala border in Chiapas and have recently gotten through there.

So somehow -- we haven't figured out how -- but there is a rumor that people could cross at this Del Rio area and so people who were trying to seek asylum flocked to this area to try to get across. It was preventable because the Biden administration knew that these Haitian asylum seekers were there.


We've been telling them for years that they needed to start opening up the border, the ports of entry, to allow them to lawfully seek asylum as U.S. law and international law allows and the Biden administration as well as the Trump administration before them were ignoring this.

SANCHEZ: Why do you think that is? Did you ever get a response from them as to why these Haitians were being handled the way that they were?

PHILLIPS: Yeah. Well, historically, for decades going back to the Duvalier regime in Haiti in the 1970s and we saw boats of asylum seekers fleeing the country, the United States borders have generally been closed to Haitian asylum seekers. There's been a lot of unfair treatment of Haitians particularly compared with Cubans and now Venezuelans.

There's a lot who think that this is sort of anti-black racism policies in our immigration system that dates back and so more -- most recently with the Trump administration under Title 42, the U.S./Mexico border has been completely closed to all asylum seekers since march of last year under the pretext of not wanting to spread COVID.

But, of course, that is a false pretext because as you can imagine, when they're sending people to different processing centers around the United States and they're going to be incarcerating them, there will still be the chance of COVID being spread.

So, while they're processing people in these various different points across the United States, they could just process them for asylum and instead they're saying they're going to deport them. Most of them without even a chance for -- all of them I think the Biden administration said, without a chance of applying for asylum. This is what the Trump administration did, which is what Biden is continuing to do.

SANCHEZ: CNN learned that the Biden administration plans to ramp up deportation flights to Haiti and could be a deterrent for people planning to come to the United States. Do you think that would work as a deterrent? Is that a sustainable solution?

PHILLIPS: In the long term, it's not a deterrent at all. Haitians that have come to the U.S./Mexico border -- your footage showed awful conditions people are living in now. Nobody chooses to bring their children or even themselves to conditions like that unless they are very desperate.

And so, what's important to note what's happening in Haiti, which we've all been hearing on the news, which is an earthquake that devastated the whole south of the country and shut down many parts of the country, which is a political turmoil and violence in Haiti due to the assassination of their president.

Haiti before evens the president was assassinated, before even the earthquake, the Biden administration designated Haiti for temporary protected status, which meant they didn't see fit, it wasn't safe, to return Haitians who had arrived in the United States before July 29th.

There's no way that it is safe for these Haitians that are now in Del Rio to be deported to Haiti. The government cannot process them. Their families, many of them, have been affected by the earthquake. There's no home for them to go to. There are still loved ones that need to be buried, and there are kidnappings, particularly in the Port-au-Prince area, every day.

It's not a safe country. It's really unfortunately a spiraling country that is becoming a bit of like a Somalia, a lawless country.

SANCHEZ: Nicole Phillips, we appreciate your perspective, thanks for joining us.

PHILLIPS: My pleasure. Thank you.

SANCHEZ: So, so we know FDA advisors voted against video boosters for most Americans. That's not the end of the story. Coming up, why they are pushing still for everyone to get a booster.

We'll be right back.



PAUL: So, we've got some new information to share with you, because we have just learned that United States is now reporting nearly 2,000 deaths per day. That's the highest seven-day average since March 2nd, and that's according to Johns Hopkins. Now, health officials in Alabama were only 41 percent of the population has had their shots, said more people died there in 2020 during the beginning of the pandemic than were born.

SANCHEZ: Mississippi, which has 42 percent of all residents vaccinated, has the highest amount of deaths in the nation per capita from COVID-19.

PAUL: Yeah, the alarming data comes as a key FDA panel voted Friday to recommend an additional Pfizer dose for anyone 65 and older or anyone who is at high risk for severe illness.

CNN's Nadia Romero has more. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NADIA ROMERO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Florida, Alabama, a big-time college football showdown Saturday in the heart of SEC country, but also big-time COVID-19 country.

Florida reported fewer than 100,000 new COVID-19 cases over the past week since July 16th. The state surpassed the grim milestone of 50,000 deaths from the virus.

KEN DONAHUE, SPOKESMAN, ORANGE COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH: Ninety- six-point-six percent of those individuals were unvaccinated. So, we encourage you to get vaccinated.

ROMERO: With no masks or vaccine mandates 80,000 fans packed Florida stadium to cheer on the Gators and the Crimson Tide, raising concerns the game could become a super spreader event.

In Alabama, what could be a misleading statistic, ICU bed capacity is going up, meaning more availability in hospitals there but --

DR. KIERSTIN KENNEDY, UAB CHIEF OF HOSPITAL MEDICINE: It is not because the patients are miraculously getting better and going home.


It's because they're dying. And that is really alarming for us, because again, this surge is primarily impacting those that are younger. And so, this is not what we were expecting.

ROMERO: In the last 60 days, about 60 percent of all COVID-19 outbreaks in Georgia happened in K through 12 schools.

ANNA ADAMS, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, EXTERNAL AFFAIRS, GEORGIA HOSPITAL ASSOCIATION: The vaccinated message from a Georgia Hospital Association standpoint is, you know, we want you to trust the science. If every scientist in the world has been focusing their attention on a developing a vaccine and feel it's safe and trusted, you can trust in that science.

ROMERO: The situation in Georgia is so grim that COVID is wreaking havoc at the Atlanta zoo. That's right. Primates impacted by the pandemic too, 18 out of 20 gorillas have COVID-19 symptoms. Nine of the primates have tested positive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We know there may be differing opinions.

ROMERO: Friday afternoon, an FDA advisory committee declined to recommend a Pfizer booster shot for everyone 16 and older and advised a third dose at 65 and older and high risk. Health experts weighed in on that decision.

ANDY SLAVITT, FORMER BIDEN WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISER FOR COVID RESPONSE: Really compelling data above 65, 50, but if you care about is keeping schools open, what you care about is reducing the spread, what you care about is keeping businesses open, you can justify dropping that down to a lower age.

ROMERO: Nadia Romero, CNN, Atlanta.


SANCHEZ: Joining us now to discuss all things COVID is respiratory therapist at Virginia Beach general hospital, Bea Barajas-Williams.

Bee, good morning. Thank you for sharing some of your weekend with us.

I'm just curious what it looks like in your hospital right now? Take us behind the doors. How is your staff doing? How are patients doing?

BEA BARAJAS-WILLIAMS, RESPIRATORY THERAPIST, VIRGINIA BEACH GENERAL HOSPITAL: So at Virginia Beach General and throughout all of Virginia, it's a lot of patients with COVID that are younger, 30, 40, 50 years old. My respiratory therapists and the nurses and the doctors are just stretched to our limits. We just are overwhelmed with the amount of critically ill patients at our hospitals because they are unvaccinated.

SANCHEZ: What is it like to have a conversation with a family of someone who is deteriorating? Who caught COVID and they're watching their loved one slowly deteriorate in that way? What do you tell them?

BARAJAS-WILLIAMS: It's really heartbreaking. We get to know these patients. We have conversations with them. They, you know, allow us sometimes to have FaceTime conversations with their family members, because obviously the family members are not allowed to be in the hospital with them and, you know, we get to know them and they talk about, you know, when is my family member going to come home or the patient will ask, when can I go home. I have bills to pay, I have children to take care of.

And, you know, we can't allow them to go home because they're on such high levels of oxygen. They're on 60 percent, 100 percent. Now they're dealing with, you know, this illness on top of the life outside of the hospital and what it means to be out of work for a long period of time.

SANCHEZ: And, Bea, I can tell in your voice this is something painful for you.

How are you doing?

BARAJAS-WILLIAMS: It's really difficult. I think that, you know, as a respiratory therapist, everyone in my department, we all went into respiratory to take care of patients and wanted to make a difference, and I'll tell you, you know, we get a real satisfaction from having someone, who say, for example, a trauma patient who we intubate, but we're able to get them off of the ventilator and see them recover and they come back to see us and thank us. We know we've made a difference.

This last year and a half, we just -- didn't get that any mo because they're so sick and end up dying alone and it's just one after the other after the other. Now they're just so much younger and it just -- it breaks our heart. We try to lean on each other. We try to be there for each other.

But it's gotten to the point where, you know, some people just don't want to work in this profession anymore. It's really hard.

SANCHEZ: Yeah. I mean it has to be extremely discouraging and painful for you to witness not only so much death, but so much preventable death, right? If people would get vaccinated, there would be fewer hospitalizations and fewer deaths.


So you have a chance now to offer some words of encouragement to the public, maybe for people who are hesitant to get vaccinated. What would you say?

BARAJAS-WILLIAMS: I would say please get vaccinated. I mean, we all want us to move past COVID. We all want us to, you know, have some sense of normalcy and get back to pre-COVID time and the only way that I can see is by everyone getting vaccinated.

When 90 percent of these patients who are coming in that are seeing respiratory are unvaccinated, 90 percent, so that tells you that yes, the vaccine does work.

SANCHEZ: Yeah. It's so important to remember that message and remember that for every statistic that we cite, these are actual people that have families and people that are caring for them like you that are dealing with a lot of stress and witnessing so much pain.

Bea Barajas-Williams, we appreciate your work. Thank you so much for joining us today.


SANCHEZ: Of course.

PAUL: Listen, we now know that an urgent warning from the CIA about who was in that car the U.S. military was tracking in Kabul came too late. We're live from Afghanistan for you after the break.

Stay close.



SANCHEZ: CNN is learning that just seconds before a U.S. drone strike hit in Kabul last month, the CIA issued an urgent warning saying that civilians were likely in that area, including children, possibly inside the vehicle that was being targeted.

PAUL: The warning came too late, though. As we now know, that missile killed ten innocent people, an Afghan aide worker bringing water home for his family, two other adults and seven children. The Pentagon initially said an ISIS-K suspect was in the car and carrying explosives but defense officials now admit there was no terrorist present at that time.

CNN's senior diplomatic editor Nic Robertson is live from Kabul right now.

And, at the heart of this, Nic, when we watch that video, we know this is a family and you have spoken to some of them. What have you learned about them?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yeah, this is a family, the Ahmadi family that are really still in shock. They can't understand, with all this high-tech surveillance, how the military, how the Pentagon couldn't have known that there were civilians in the area because it's a very densely populated neighborhood with tiny, narrow back alleys, and their children were out at the front when the father was coming home at the end of his day's work.

This was the moment for them to enjoy some fun time with their father and they were helping guide his vehicle into the compound and they would do what they always do when he came home with the water, which was pile in the vehicle with him, you know, have some fun with him and then help him get the water out. But, of course that was the moment when the missile struck. To go back and talk to the family now, is really just a touch and feel that pain that they're going through.



ROBERTSON: This is the blood of the children up here?

AHMADI: Yeah, yeah.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Emal Ahmadi shows me his family's shattered house.

It's just heartbreaking to see this now. And to know that they say it was just a mistake.

AHMADI: Yeah, that's a big mistake of the USA. This is also blood.

ROBERTSON: No one has had the heart to clean it up since the drone strike three weeks ago.

AHMADI: They are all of them innocent like my cute daughter that I can't forget her, she was so lively for me. I remember all of them.

ROBERTSON: The Pentagon's late admission, though, that his brother Zamarai was not an ISIS terrorist, something positive.

AHMADI: The USA has proved that they are targeting innocent people, because of that today I am so happy about that.

ROBERTSON: But he still has questions. Five children, he says, were inside the car when it was hit.

AHMADI: The U.S. know that inside this area inside the car was children. Why target an innocent person in this area, why target a civilian person?

ROBERTSON: So far they say they've had no calls from U.S. officials, hoping for help to rebuild and even relocate to America.

Can you forgive them?

AHMADI: Maybe, but how should I do, you know, I lost my family, who return them back for us.

ROBERTSON: It's impossible.

AHMADI: It's impossible. No one save us to return them back.

ROBERTSON: To the world this is a drone strike gone wrong. For the Ahmadi family, it's an irreplaceable loss.

Another brother, Ramal, shows me the family's graves scattered in the unforgiving rocky ground of a dusty Kabul cemetery. His own three children, his daughter Ayat aged 2, sons Benjamin, 6, and Armin, 7, all killed in the strike, buried here, too.

What do you want for the person that's responsible?

His answer, justice. The drone operators should go to court.

For now, prayers and the acknowledgement of their family's innocence, their only solace.



ROBERTSON: I think that sense of getting justice and just wanting to see justice happen in U.S. courts, and this was a family that had a lot of connections to the United States, a brother I was talking to had worked for a U.S. company, his brother who was killed worked for a U.S. NGO. They really feel connected to the United States.

So it's not a -- the country, American people, are not an alien concept to them. So, they really have trust and faith in the U.S. justice system, but they would like to see it come into play for the Pentagon to go thoroughly through what happened and for anyone who made a mistake or should be held accountable for that process to happen.

PAUL: Nic Robertson, we appreciate it so much. That's hard. That's hard.

You know what, there's some of that feeling here in the U.S. family and friends were gathering in California yesterday to say their final farewells to three U.S. marines who were killed last month in an attack outside Kabul airport. This was, of course, during the American evacuation in Afghanistan.

Look at the people just packed this church in Palm Springs. They were honoring the life of 22-year-old Corporal Hunter Lopez. In fact, she was a "Star Wars" fan who in the days before the bombing had just saved two young girls who were being crushed in that panicked crowd.

A service was held in northern California for Sacramento native Sergeant Nicole Gee. The 23-year-old marine who posted online days before she died she, quote, loved her job helping Afghans evacuate.

In Riverside, California, here, 20-year-old Corporal Kareem Nikoui, whose pastor said he died doing what he loved, helping people.

SANCHEZ: President Biden set to address the U.N. General Assembly this week. What is his message to world leaders going to be? We have a preview next.

Also, be sure to catch CNN's "Champions for Change" series this week, for stories that spotlight everyday people who don't make headlines but still inspire others.


ANNOUNCER: Join your favorite CNN anchors for a special week.

ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Immigrants enrich our country and they're proving it.

ANNOUNCER: Sharing stories of change makers.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: This is one of the most devastating and yet preventable issues of our day.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: He helps the defenseless learn to defend themselves.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Theater teaches courage, confidence and trust.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: She saw a need and every day she sets out to fulfill that.

FREDERICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: He is using scuba diving for a better environment.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: She is a trail blazing black woman.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Preserving the ocean for our children.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Empowering women for financial independence.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: No one should drown because they don't know how to swim.

Very good.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: Small steps can lead to a big impact.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: We are hope and help kids in school and beyond.

WHITFIELD: He is a champion --

CABRERA: She's a champion --

BLACKWELL: For change.

BROWN: Change.

KEILAR: Change.

GUPTA: Change.

ANNOUNCER: "Champions for Change", all this week on CNN.




PAUL: So, President Biden is hoping to recapture some momentum for his agenda this week as a series of unexpected setbacks obviously are putting his administration on some shaky ground, not just at home but abroad.

SANCHEZ: Yeah, the president set to address some key challenges with world leaders at the United Nations this week.

CNN White House reporter Jasmine Wright joins us now live.

Jasmine, what are we expecting to hear from President Biden in the coming days?

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yeah. Well, President Biden steps firmly on the world stage this week, really after a rough couple of days here in Washington.

When we see President Biden on Tuesday address the general assembly at the United Nations for the first time as president, he does so, Boris and Christi, really under the shadow of the multiple problems that his administration has to address, from that drone strike in Afghanistan that the U.S. military says tragically killed ten civilians instead of that intended target, to the overall chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan and the fallouts to the spat with France over the sale of nuclear powered submarines with Australia to the ongoing pandemic to, you know, potentially his economic agenda, just to name a few.

So, when we see President Biden on Monday, he will return from his weekend in Rehoboth where he will travel to New York to meet with the secretary general of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres.

On Tuesday, the president will speak to the general assembly and potentially hold bilateral meetings with allied nations on the sidelines really taking advantage of the U.N. being back in person.

On Wednesday, President Biden will convene a virtual global vaccine summit where he will urge leaders to collectively commit to vaccinating 70 percent of the world's population against COVID, sources tell CNN, and an ambitious goal. He faces criticism globally about the booster plan as his administration prepares to administer shots while other -- prepares to administer third shots while other nations have yet to provide their first to some of their citizens.


And on Friday, he will host a first ever in person Quad Leaders Summit with the leaders of Australia, India and Japan, as he stares down again that conflict with France.

All of this international activity, though, is happening here in America comes as his administration is looking to get a jump-start as you said, Christi, as you said, Boris, on their domestic issues, really looking to find some common ground between the moderates and the progressives of the Democratic Party to come together on President Biden's proposed $3.5 trillion social spending bill as this administration is really, really looking for a political win this week -- Boris, Christi.

PAUL: Jasmine Wright, we appreciate the wrap-up, thank you so much.

So here are some of the other stories we're following this morning.

Two years after that devastating fire ripped through the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, we all watched it together, right, it was shocking to watch. Well, officials say, guess what? It's on track to reopen so we can go back and see it if you happen to be able to get there.

Going to have to wait until 2024. Official have completed the first phase of repairs, including removing burned scaffolding, stabilizing some columns and protecting the theater's gargoyle statutes. The next phase of construction is set to begin in the coming months.

SANCHEZ: The first all-civilian space mission ends with a splash down off the Florida coast.




SANCHEZ: Cheers and applause as the Dragon capsule with its four- person crew returned to earth last night after three days in orbit. The mission being billed as the beginning of a new era of space travel, making it more accessible to the public.

PAUL: Now the crew members, there they are, dubbed the inspiration 4, they gave the thumbs up sign after returning to earth. During their stay in space, these are civilian astronauts, they conducted scientific research focused on how their bodies responded to being in space. Of course, they spent some time enjoying the view.

SANCHEZ: Not a bad view at all, right.

So, this morning the 16th storm of the Atlantic Hurricane season has been named. Tropical Storm Peter is now traveling through the Atlantic. It's got sustained winds of about 40 miles an hour. Right now, officials say the storm is not a threat to land and there are no coastal watches or warnings in effect, so that's good news. Peter is expected to track north of the Leeward Islands on Monday and Tuesday. It may approach Bermuda by the end of the week.

We have something special after the break. You're going to meet an incredible teenager who not only has beaten cancer three times but he is helping others who are facing long hospital stays.

Stay with CNN. We'll be right back.



PAUL: September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and right now, you're going to meet a kid who has beat cancer three times and now he and his mom want to do something to help families go through what they've gone through.

We're talking about 14-year-old Ryan Alarcon was first diagnosed with leukemia when he was 3 years old. He relapsed at age 9 and again just in the last year at age 13. He understands the pressure of rushing to the emergency room in a really dire situation and needing to just grab a bag full of necessities to go.

So, this is why Ryan and his mom Christi decided they were going to launch Got Your Backpack. They raised money to put together go bags with hospital necessities like toiletries and extra sets of clothes and personal items for other kids who are fighting cancer and understand the journey.

Fourteen-year-old cancer survivor Ryan Alarcon and his mom Christy are with us.

It is so good to see you two.

Gosh, Ryan, I mean, there are people who wish they could have survived three times and you're only 14 years old. Talk to me about how you do that? How do you beat cancer three times? I mean, the strength.

RYAN ALARCON, THREE-TIME CANCER SURVIVOR: There's no really magic to it. You just can't give up on yourself. You have to always realize who you're fighting for and who like who wants you to survive. That's basically what got me through.

PAUL: You have a lot of people supporting you?

R. ALARCON: Uh-huh. PAUL: Yeah. Christi, the other thing I think that is the takeaway for

people who are watching this is, I mean, as parents, we can not even begin to understand what this journey has been like for you, talk about some of those moments or one or two of those moments when you really had to fight yourself.

CHRISTY ALARCON, MOTHER OF THREE-TIME CANCER SURVIVOR: I think the hardest thing is like just it feels so never ending when you're in it. And, obviously, as a mother, when you see your child sick or hurting and not able to do anything about it or help them in any way, is extremely painful.


And we did have some really close calls through the years, and it's been extremely difficult for sure.

PAUL: Ryan, I understand you were on life support at one point. What do you remember most about those times in the hospital?

R. ALARCON: Mostly just felt like I was trapped, like I couldn't get out, and even though there were like nice people that came in, they also got to leave, so it was kind of hard.

PAUL: It was hard to see them leave? Yeah.

I want to ask you to take me to that moment when you heard for the third time that you had beaten this thing. What was that like? What did they say to you?

R. ALARCON: I don't remember the third time as much as the second time.

PAUL: Oh, that's okay. What about the second time then?

R. ALARCON: The second time I was playing with a friend of mine, and then, like, my mom got a call and then like she said I was cancer-free and I started like bawling basically.

PAUL: Okay, Christy, how about you?

C. ALARCON: Well, the thing about blood cancer is that, I mean, at least with Ryan, it's been pretty easy to get him in remission. It's keeping him in remission which has been the tricky part. His cancer likes to hide out and wait five or six years before it comes back.

So for us hearing that he's about cancer-free has, of course, been amazing and such a relief. But when it comes to leukemia, at least AML, acute myeloid leukemia, it's the getting him in remission is just the first step basically because then after that then you do have to go on to the bone marrow transplant.

So it's kind of that bittersweet, yes, you're super excited that he doesn't have cancer and that he's in remission, but that's just the first step to lead you to the next steps. PAUL: So you understand part of those steps is grabbing something and

going to the hospital because you've got to get there, and it is life- threatening.

Tell me real quickly, we only have a couple of seconds left. Tell us this Got Your Backpack program. What do you hope people will do?

C. ALARCON: We're hoping to put together go bags for people who either don't have the time or the funds to do it themselves. We found it invaluable to have that on the go, and it was super helpful to not have to think about what you were going to grab. You just grab the thing that's right by the door.

PAUL: And that's just where you keep it obviously.


PAUL: Because you know the time is going to come when you have to grab and go.

Ryan and Christy Alarcon, we are so happy you're better. We'll be following you, Ryan, you know that. We're praying for you, buddy.

And, Christy, you guys are -- you're fierce and you're an inspiration.

C. ALARCON: Thank you, Christi.

PAUL: And we just wish the very best of everything for you.

C. ALARCON: Thank you.

R. ALARCON: Thank you.

PAUL: Absolutely.

Grab your backpack program -- Got Your Backpack program, excuse me. Get your go bag there and you can find it online so you can get some more information to help them out with their mission. Thank you so much.

SANCHEZ: So inspiring.

PAUL: They're pretty amazing people. Thank you so much for sharing your weekend with us is and we hope you make good memories today.

SANCHEZ: Always great to be with you.

PAUL: You, too.

SANCHEZ: Thank you so much for joining us.

"INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY" is up next with Manu Raju.

But, first, from racism to sizism, studies show many people don't go to the gym because they don't feel welcome there, but now some folks are trying to fix that. Here's this week's staying well. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTFIED FEMALE: We're redefining what wellness looks like.

UNIDENTFIED FEMALE: We'll all meet in our downward facing dog.

UNIDENTFIED FEMALE: We are a black women owned body positive yoga studio located in Brooklyn, New York.

UNIDENTFIED FEMALE: Come right back to your warrior two. Beautiful.

PARIS ALEXANDRA, CO-FOUNDER, BK YOGA CLUB: I was in so many different yoga spaces where I is was only black woman or the only plus size woman.

ALICIA FERGUSON, CO-FOUNDER, BK YOGA CLUB: So for us it was creating a space where we were actually able to be ourselves and cultivate this space for other black and brown folks to come and do the same.

UNIDENTFIED FEMALE: Hold for one breath.

UNIDENTFIED FEMALE: The clientele is about 80 percent women of color and that's reflected, too, in our teaching staff.

CARLOS DAVILA, SPORTS PSYCHOLOGIST & DIVRESITY AND INCLUSION OFFICER, FHITTING ROOM: It's even more important for marginalized communities to have a space where they can get healthier, built a sense of community, because tend the community that are dealing with more health issues.

Before beginning with the fitness, the most important thing, is, A, making sure that medically, you're okay and, B, finding a space that resonates with who you are as a person.

ALEXANDRA: Your journey doesn't have to look like anybody else's journey.


And you'll eventually find people that reflect who you are, and affirm that.



MANU RAJU, CNN HOST: COVID confusion. Why an FDA panel said, no, most Americans don't need COVID boosters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We didn't think there was enough data. Protection against serious illness remains high.