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FDA Considering Emergency Use Authorization For Third Vaccine; $1.9 Trillion Relief Bill Heads For Senate After Passing House; White House Levels Sanctions On Saudi Arabia Over Khashoggi Killing; White House Move To Reopen Detention Facilities Draw Widespread Criticism, Comparison To Trump White House; "Rise Up Against Anti-Asian Hate" Rally Underway; Landlords Hit As Unpaid Rent Piles Up From Eviction Moratorium. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired February 27, 2021 - 13:00   ET



FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Could be authorized for emergency use here in the U.S. at any moment. The FDA working to finalize its decision on Johnson and Johnson single dose vaccine. If approved, nearly four million doses will be available immediately, which could increase vaccination for states by 25 percent. CNN Health Reporter Jacqueline Howard joins me right now. So Jacqueline, how soon could this be going into people's arms?

JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER: We could see shots going into arms in just a few days. But something important has to happen first, once the FDA makes its authorization, we then are going to hear from the CDC. And tomorrow, an advisory committee to the CDC is going to meet and go over Johnson and Johnson's data and then the committee is going to make recommendations on how the vaccine can be used.

So, the FDA is first going to say yes, it can be used if it's authorized for emergency use. But then the CDC advisory committee is going to recommend how it can be used, are there certain population groups that should be given priority access, for instance. And in the meantime, we also are aware of what the distribution plans might look like, here's what the rollout could look like, immediately, and that Johnson and Johnson says that it's going to have 3.9 million doses of vaccine right away, ready to be shipped out and sent to different locations.

And within those 3.9 million, we're going to see different allocations going to states you see the numbers there, then we're going to see some going to community vaccination centers, for instance. And that's what the rollout will look like in the next few days. But again, before those doses go into arms, we first need to hear from the CDC on the recommendations regarding how the rollout can continue.

WHITFIELD: And then Jacqueline, you know, how does the Johnson and Johnson vaccine compare to Pfizer and Madonna?

HOWARD: What we know from trials, we should have some numbers here. So, in global trials, Johnson and Johnson tested its vaccine among 44,000 people in the U.S., South Africa and Latin America. Those study results showed 66 percent effective against moderate to severe COVID- 19 globally, and 85 percent effective against severe COVID-19. And those numbers, I will say, raise some eyebrows because we know from Moderna and Pfizer that those vaccines appear to have about 95 percent efficacy.

Now, in the U.S. arm of those trials, just in the United States, that Johnson and Johnson vaccine appear to be 72 percent effective against moderate to severe COVID-19. And some differences between Johnson and Johnson's trials and Moderna and Pfizer's trials are that Moderna and Pfizer started in the spring and summer. Their trials were much earlier at during the pandemic, whereas Johnson and Johnson was a little bit later and Johnson and Johnson happened as we identified some of these coronavirus variants emerging.

So, that might answer some questions when it comes to the differences. But overall, doctors say that if you are able to get any of these vaccines, the one right for you is the one that's available. There's no reason to think one is better than the other. And overall, Johnson and Johnson did show to be effective against moderate to severe disease. Here's what Dr. Paul Offit had to say about this. He's actually a member of the FDA Advisory Committee that recommended the vaccine yesterday have a lesson.


DR. PAUL OFFIT, FDA ADVISORY COMMITTEE: We'll see in the second half of the year, whether there will be a second dose recommendation for this vaccine. But certainly one dose will keep you out of the hospital, keep you out of the intensive care unit and keep you out of the morgue.


HOWARD: So, you see there the vaccine shows to be effective against hospitalization and no one in the trial who got the vaccine died from COVID-19. So, that's what Dr. Offit's referring to when he says it can keep you out of the morgue. So, again, which every vaccine is available for you, doctors recommend, go ahead and get it right.

WHITFIELD: Right, that's the resonating one, you know, the access that makes the difference on everything. Jacqueline Howard, thank you so much. Appreciate it. All right, New York City officials say the single dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine will be a valuable weapon in their arsenal, maybe even allowing for at-home vaccinations.

Polo Sandoval joining me now from New York with more on this. So, Polo, how significant might this vaccination be to combating the virus?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, for the process at the vaccination site you see behind me, which is one of New York State's largest mass vaccination sites, pretty much we'll find across the country, eligible folks who have their appointments will come in and meet with FEMA. So, the good folks for men and women of the Coast Guard and the Air Force, take your temperature and then they make their way inside to get that dose of the vaccine. They're certainly hopeful that they will begin to see more of these

kinds of opportunities, especially with the addition of a third vaccine option here when you hear from those advisories on the committee of the, the FDA they're certainly stressing urgency and hopeful that the addition of that vaccine will help, especially with some of the shortages that we're seeing across the country on the backside.



JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Renews every conceivable way to expand manufacturing of the vaccine, the third vaccine to make even more rapid progress.

SANDOVAL (voice over): With a nation one critical step closer to distributing Johnson and Johnson's newly authorized vaccine, a much needed decline in the nation's new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations appears to be stalling. On Friday, the Head of the CDC warned the nation seven day average of cases is leveling out at about 66,000. That's a number that's still alarmingly high.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We at CDC consider this a very concerning shift in the trajectory.

SANDOVAL: Adding to scientists' fears, the downward slope is ending a rise in new virus variants threatening to reverse the progress. One such variant was detected in California and another in the Northeast, likely having mutated in New York City says the nation's top infectious disease expert.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE: You know, it started off just a cluster in the Washington Heights section up by Columbia Medical Center, and then it started to go through the other parts of the city, the other boroughs, and it's something you really want to pay attention to because it has some worrisome mutations in it.

SANDOVAL: The first shots of Johnson and Johnson's vaccine could be delivered and administered as early as next week. In California State officials are expecting the delivery of just over 380,000 doses to begin arriving next week.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): That single dose provides opportunities to bring those doses and vaccines to where people are because those doses don't require the storage that the Moderna and Pfizer doses require. Across the country, public health experts are urging the public, get this new version of the vaccine once, and if they're given a chance. They point to FDA analysis of trial data showing about 66 percent efficacy globally against moderate to severe illness, and as high as 86 percent protection in the U.S.

DR. SAJU MATHEW, PUBLIC HEALTH SPECIALIST: Everybody who got the J&J vaccine, no one was hospitalized, and no one died. I know we're so used to the 95 percent number with Moderna and Pfizer, but people should not think that this is a second class vaccine. It's a very good, safe and effective vaccine.

SANDOVAL: New research out of the U.K. about Pfizer's double dose vaccine suggests that even a single shot of that vaccine could offer those who have had COVID strong protection, basically serving as a booster for those who have already been infected and developed some level of immunity. Though, the U.S. National Institutes of Health is encouraged by these findings, the agency maintains a single dose approach for all could lead to unforeseen consequences.


SANDOVAL (on camera): Back here in Brooklyn at this mass vaccination site, they're certainly aiming pretty high here, Fred. They're hoping to vaccinate at least 3,000 people a day. This site now open to all residents of Brooklyn, so long as they are eligible, of course, and the numbers of those people who are being vaccinated today, they will be added to the climbing numbers that we've already been seeing here in the last 24 hours about 179,000 vaccines administered in New York State. The Governor's saying that's a new record.

WHITFIELD: All right, that's encouraging. Polo Sandoval, thanks so much. All right, joining me right now is Dr. Mizuho Morrison, an Emergency Physician in Southern California. She's also the Senior Director of Medical Education at Hippo Education. Doctor, so good to see you.

DR. MIZUHO MORRISON, EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN: So, good to see you. Thank you so much for having me back.

WHITFIELD: All right. So, how encouraged are you about this pending authorization for this Johnson and Johnson vaccine?

MORRISON: I think the medical community across the board is very encouraged. I mean, we have now a third very strong legitimate vaccine as an option, and certainly, it will increase our efforts to combat this virus.

WHITFIELD: And then there are some officials who are concerned that some Americans may view the Johnson and Johnson vaccine as you know, second class because its efficacy rate is you know, below 90 percent unlike the Pfizer and Moderna. How should people be accepting thinking feeling about Johnson and Johnson?

MORRISON: You know, you have to look at the numbers, sort of relatively, meaning their study was done later, before Pfizer and Madonna and so therefore, their numbers are going to be a little bit off, really to know which one is most you know, superior, what you have to do is have a head to head comparative trial, right, which we've not done where you're comparing each vaccine against each other, and then against a placebo, in the same circumstances under the same conditions, and that's really the way to effectively look at this.

For now, what we know is that Johnson and Johnson, even with the variants, has about 77 to 85 percent efficacy, that's very strong and even compared to our annual flu vaccine, that's far greater efficacy. So, in terms of risk benefit ratio, the benefit of obtaining this vaccine or any vaccine for that matter, is far greater than the risk of being unvaccinated.

WHITFIELD: So, what's your message to Americans who say I want to have a choice; I want to be able to choose whether it's going to be Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson or something else, or do you just say to them, look, you just need to grab what's most available to you and most accessible because any projection, right, you know, protection.


MORRISON: That's right. As I often tell my children, beggars can't be choosers, and I think it's the same thing. Not that we're beggars, but you know, the vaccine supply is not robust. I mean, we're working on it. And obviously, we're getting millions more vaccines in the coming months. But for now, if you have the ability to have access to an injection, get it. And honestly, I don't think we can be too picky there.

The truth is, any of these vaccines are going to be far more efficacious in terms of reducing your hospitalization and death. And that's really what we care about, right? If you get a cold from COVID, OK, you get a cold, but in terms of transmitting it to those high risk patients, or suffering a complication being hospitalized, or God- forbid, dying from it, that's what we're trying to avoid. All three of these vaccines do an excellent job reducing that, so why would you not want it?

WHITFIELD: Pfizer says it's ready to begin clinical trials involving children, you know, children as young as five, and they're hoping the data will be available by the end of the year. What are your hopes, aspirations, thoughts on that?

MORRISON: Well, it's interesting, you know, I think it's important for us to study these vaccines in any patient population, particularly children, but I don't think that that needs to be a hold up for us returning to schools, certainly. And why? Because we know that children are not the high risk patient population here, right? If anything, Influenza is far more deadly to children than COVID is.

So, I don't think that we need to wait for this vaccine in children to get back to the classroom. Now, teachers want to get vaccinated, certainly I do think they should be made a priority. But I think the whole politicization of vaccination before return to school needs to end. These children need to get back to school, and the mental health, the quality, and the education lack they've been having for the last year, I think is far more dilatory to these children than waiting for a vaccine before they go back.

WHITFIELD: Yes, it's been a very hard year for a lot of families, but particularly for a lot of kids. All right, so the CDC director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky says, you know, we actually might be seeing the beginning effects of the spread of this, of these new coronavirus variants in the recent increases in the new cases across the U.S., and what should be learned from that.

MORRISON: You know, I think that we have to keep this again in mind. And I get asked this a lot, and I think we have to be as a community as a medical community, our messaging needs to be important of not overreacting, and creating sort of unnecessary pandemonium regarding these variants.

We know if you understand coronaviruses that they do mutate, it's what they do best; this is how they survive, right? But the good news is, yes, they might be more infectious, so certainly, that can sound scary, but they're not more deadly. And they're certainly not causing more morbidity or mortality, right? So, I think --

WHITFIELD: And when you say more infectious meaning they have a greater propensity of spread, they spread more and --

MORRISON: Yes, but they're not necessarily causing more hospitalizations. Again, there's more people walking around with minor upper respiratory infections from COVID. OK, I'm OK with that. You know, obviously, in comparison to now, if this was more deadly, that would be far more concerning. So, I think the way to frame this is we need to ask three really important questions. Number one: does this new variant strain cause more severe disease or death?

And so far, the answers have been no, right. Second question is, are these vaccines still effective towards these strains? And so far, it seems so. There's some question about this new Johnson and Johnson one with the Brazil strain. But however, these things need to be looked into correct? And then lastly, if I've been infected once with COVID, can I get reinfected by another one of these variants? And we don't know the answer to that yet.

And so, I think with that in mind, we really need to I mean, I'll tell you what, Fred, I'm an Emergency Physician. And I see a lot of different patients, right, we've been through the whole COVID surgeon pandemic, mostly now what we're seeing is so much mental health issues, anxiety, depression from patients just being so drained emotionally from the stressors of this pandemic. And these sort of continual, you know, fear-based messaging, I think, is really more harmful for our patients in the, in the overall outlook.

So, I think we just need to keep it in perspective. Do these variants need to be looked into? Of course, certainly. But again, we need to ask those questions. Do they cause more severe disease or death? Do our vaccines still work? And then can I be re-infected? And then let's do all the smart things: wash our hands, stay six feet apart, you know, do all those things, open windows. Sure. But let's get back, kids back to the classroom. Let's get back to attempting to move forward back to our real life.

WHITFIELD: Yes, still lots of frayed nerves. Lots of anxiety out there. But your words are very powerful. Thank you so much, Dr. Mizuho. Appreciate it.

MORRISON: Thank you so much.


WHITFIELD: All right. Well, coming up, the fight over coronavirus relief now heads to the Senate after President Biden's $1.9 trillion package passes the House but there are several obstacles in the way we'll take a closer look. Plus, hate crimes against Asian Americans are on the rise in major cities like New York and Los Angeles. We're live with what's being done to stop the attacks.


WHITFIELD: Today President Biden is praising house lawmakers for passing his $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill and now urging the Senate to do the same quickly. Suzanne Malveaux is on Capitol Hill for us. And Joe Johns is at the White House. So Joe, let's begin with you the President, he was pretty short and sweet about his message, and he also said this is the first step toward a lot.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And you know, Fred, the president is getting ready to fly off to Delaware for the weekend taking time to give that very short statement under two minutes in which he essentially praise.

Of course, the United States House of Representatives for passing the bill also pushed the Senate to do the very same, pretty clear now when you look at the numbers, even though the President has decided to go the route that will get him enough votes to pass this thing with just Democrats. He's still looking for some Republican votes as well. Listen.



BIDEN: We have no time to waste. If we act now decisively quickly and boldly, we can finally get ahead of this virus. We can finally get our economy moving again. And the people of this country have suffered far too much for too long. We need to relieve that suffering. The American rescue plan does just that; it relieves the suffering. And it's time to act.


JOHNS: As we've been saying, not a single vote from Republicans in the House of Representatives, the president hoping to change that on the Senate side. So, why even give a two-minute speech? Well, the indication here, from people who work with the administration is the President is simply trying to go around the middlemen, including the media and the politics up on Capitol Hill to try to talk directly to the people there in the communities in the districts in the States, where there is opposition to try to get them, to get their politicians on the President's side. Fred, back to you.

WHITFIELD: All right. And Suzanne, on the hill, what's next?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's going to be a much more complicated battle on the Senate side. But there is a sense of urgency or in Congress, it was just after two in the morning that the House passed as 219-212 was the vote tally here. What is happening, however, is that one of the elements, the minimum wage increase to $15.00 an hour, of course, running into a snag, and that is because the senate parliamentarian already announcing that this does not comply with the reconciliation rules.

They are very strict rules regarding the budget. And if the Democrats want to push this through, with just a simple 51 vote majority, not the normal 60, then they're going to have to strip that out of this package out of the bill. There have been some progressives on the House Democrat side, saying that they want the parliamentarian ignored, removed or overruled.

There is no sign that that is going to happen. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying look, even if they don't have that minimum wage increase, they're going to sign this if it comes back to them without that, very likely that it's not going to contain that.

But what it does have, Fred, some critical elements that both Republicans and Democrats like, they're talking about $1400 in direct stimulus payments for those making less than $75,000, enhanced unemployment aid from 300 a week to 400 a week ending in August; assistance for small businesses money for childcare, food aid, aid for states, local and tribal governments, increase support for vaccines as well as schools.

And again, that controversial element that provision of minimum wage likely to be taken out Fred, they're looking at a deadline or at least a goal here Of March 14th. That is when some 11 million Americans will run out of the enhanced unemployment aid. They're hoping that this will get on the President's desk by them Friday.

WHITFIELD: All right, Suzanne Malveaux, Joe Johns, thanks to both of you. Appreciate it.

All right, straight ahead, a new report finding the Saudi Prince approve the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. So, why won't President Biden do more?



WHITFIELD: The Biden administration is issuing sanctions against dozens of Saudi officials and departments for their role in the murder of Washington Post Columnist Jamal Khashoggi. The sanctions follow the release of a declassified U.S. intelligence report about the 2018 killing at the Saudi Arabian embassy in Istanbul, Turkey.

The report specifically implicates Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as the one who ordered the operation. But the sanctions do not specifically target MBS, which is drawing some sharp criticism. Journalists Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times said this, "Mr. Biden, it's not a human rights gesture to sanction MBS.

Jamal was a practical man who didn't believe in mushy gestures, but he did dream of a more democratic Arab world that would benefit Arabs and Americans alike. And by letting a murderer walk, you betrayed that vision." CNN Diplomatic Editor Nic Robertson joining me now. So, Nic, how is this being interpreted the release of their support, and the U.S. not necessarily going after MBS in particular. NIC ROBERTSON, CNN DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: In the region by Saudis, allies who have heard from Kuwait, from Bahrain, from the UAE, from Yemen, from, from Oman today, all saying that they support Saudi Arabia's position and the very strong pushback that came from the Saudi Foreign Ministry saying they reject the conclusions of the report. It's based on it's based on wrong conclusions, and, and it doesn't match with their own investigation.

I think set that to one side. This is a very complex, difficult political situation for President Biden. On the one hand, you know, Saudi Arabia is the largest and most powerful country in the Gulf. It's been an important ally and remains an important ally in the fight against terrorism. It's an important strategic ally against Iran. And if the United States pulls out of that or draws back, its support, then there's no doubt Saudi Arabia will look for support from Russia or from China and we're no longer in a world where the United States is the lasting dominant superpower.


China is on the rise economically and militarily and will continue to challenge the United States more aggressively and to allow it the opportunity to get a foothold and influence in Saudi Arabia.

For President Biden, strategically looking forward for the United States, that's a very difficult decision.

And the reality is the crown prince is the day-to-day ruler of the country.

The king has made him so because the king is, despite -- the crown prince and the king -- despite the problems they've created, are trying to move the country forward, reduce their power of the conservative clerics in the country, and bring some changes, positive changes, economic changes, employment changes, opportunity changes for the young population.

So they are trying to change the country. So this is -- it's a very complex picture.

But in essence, yes, President Biden has said the United States' power in the world stands, in part, on its adherence and support for human rights around the world.

And in this case, it has called Saudi Arabia out but isn't punishing the man it says is responsible. These two things are very hard to square.

WHITFIELD: Nic, shortly after taking office, President Biden proclaimed that America is back, diplomacy is back. And we saw this week Biden called the Saudi king before this report was released.

What is the message being sent, what's the message received globally about the U.S. posture on the global stage?

ROBERTSON: Yes, let's just take some of the United States, European allies, for example.

The United States has stopped supplying weapons under President Biden to the Saudis for their campaign in Yemen. Britain still does. France still has good military contracts with Saudi Arabia. Germany has pulled back a little bit.

These are three countries that have come to their own assessment about the killing of Jamal Khashoggi. Didn't sit on intelligence reports, didn't release them either. But they have their own assessments of who was responsible. And they live with that assessment.

President Biden's made it public and he's going to stand by it. And that is that the assessment that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman authorized the killing or capture of Jamal Khashoggi.

I think, when European nations, in particular, look at the United States, part of their calculation on what President Biden is doing is already baked into their relationship with Saudi Arabia.

They know what's happened. But they're continuing with their military ties to a significant degree. I think that's one part of -- I think that is one part of the picture.

The other part of the picture here has to be that, you know, what President Biden has said in Saudi Arabia, we won't support you in your military campaign in Yemen but we will support you defensively.

In the last half an hour or so, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, this evening. there have been reports of a Houthi missile intercepted in the skies above Saudi Arabia.

The truth is, those are the forces in Yemen that are backed by Iran fighting Saudi Arabia that the United States says it will protect Saudi Arabia against.

These reports have been reported in Saudi Arabia media, on social media in Riyadh at the moment. We haven't gotten to the bottom of them. But they're not that uncommon.

This is indicative of what the Saudis face as well. If they want to part company with the United States, then they'll be short of some significant ballistic missile deterrent systems that they absolutely use and rely on, on a daily basis.

So this is not an easy situation for either country to walk away from, an historic relationship that goes back to Eisenhower and the founder of the Saudi kingdom over 70 years ago.

The relationships had ups and downs. Right now, it's definitely having a wobble and a shake. Where does it go from here? Let's see in a few months.

WHITFIELD: Very complex situation.

Nic Robertson, thank you so much, from London. President Biden, meantime, promised a humane approach to the

immigration crisis but recent moves by the administration have critics saying this is just more of the same. Next, I'll talk to a Catholic priest who has spent a lot of time on the border.

Stay with us.



WHITFIELD: The Biden administration is facing criticism from both sides of the aisle after a series of moves this week on immigration.

As thousands of unaccompanied migrant children arrive at the border, the White House is reopening the kinds of detention facilities that Democrats, including President Biden, called inhumane when it was the Trump administration overseeing them.

Officials say pandemic protocols and a major influx of migrants left them no choice. But for every move at the border, there are real human consequences.

Father Bruce Nieli has been volunteering at the southern border for years. He's joining us now from Austin.

Good to see you, Father.

The Biden administration has called for a fair and humane approach to immigration. In your view, what does that mean?

FATHER BRUCE NIELI, MISSIONARIES OF MERCY OF POPE FRANCIS: It means basically that the United States returned to our roots as a people open to those yearning to breathe free.

And even in the last 24 hours, Fredricka, positive moves have been made. Groups are now being escorted, you know, by humane organizations, and reconnected with families here in the United States for family unity.

Even in the last 24 hours, enormous strides have been made by Catholics, Protestants, Jews. It's kind of a renewal of the civil rights movement.

And speaking today to some of my friends in the campamentos, they're waiting for their turn to seek the freedom of our country.

WHITFIELD: So some family reunifications are among the things that some believe is real progress, you know, reunifying some of these children with their families.

But in your view, the reported reopening of detention facilities, much of which got a lot of criticism during the Trump administration --

NIELI: Right.


WHITFIELD: -- do you feel like it is the same -- these are the same measures --


WHITFIELD: -- the same facilities being reopened?

OK, you describe for us --

NIELI: Absolutely not.

WHITFIELD: -- what you believe it is.

NIELI: You see, there's a lot of misinformation. No. The facilities are like the Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen, the shelter in Brownsville, Texas.

And the facilitators are people like my dear friend, Sister Norma Pimentel, and Team Brownsville. Religious people, humanitarian people facilitating the presence and the unification of these families.

So it's not the cold, you know, in-caged atmosphere of times past.

But this is waiting for reunification and using cell phones in those facilities to connect with families here in the United States.

And having participated in this before the pandemic, I know exactly what's happening. No, this is a totally different chapter.

WHITFIELD: And then last week, you know the first group of migrants that had been forced to stay in Mexico under a Trump-era policy --

NIELI: Right.

WHITFIELD: -- were also allowed to come into the U.S., 25 of them, I understand.

What did that mean, in your view, to the thousands who are waiting to come into the U.S.?

NIELI: Then, you've got the report -- and, again, I'm in contact with some of the people there in the campamentos -- why them and not us, kind of an impatience.

But now, as I'm saying, in the last 24 hours, all of that's been alleviated because now people are aware that there's a process, that groups are going group by group, and eventually, the entire campamento will be empty, thanks be to God.

The "Remain in Mexico" policy has been eliminated.

I'm from the civil rights era. You and I have something common, Howard University.

WHITFIELD: You are a fellow Bison, I understand. NIELI: Yes, you know. And I went to Howard through ethics and politics

in the black community because I was involved, as a seminarian, in the aftermath of the King assassination and then working in the neighborhoods, the African-American neighborhoods.

I wanted to get to know what this is all about. Let me tell you, it was an inspiration in terms of what it means to be an American.

My great-grandfather was an abolitionist on the Underground Railroad. Let me tell you, my -- paternal grandfather --

WHITFIELD: It's in the blood for you.

NIELI: -- was an immigrant from Sicily. Put it together and you spell freedom.

WHITFIELD: Then, Father Nieli, you know, on the Biden administration's immigration policy, or what you have seen of it, thus far --


WHITFIELD: -- how are you encouraged or what are your expectations in the days or weeks to come?

NIELI: Well, of course, I'm -- I would like to see even more.

And again, I've been on the border. I'm involved with the border since the Salvadoran Civil War. There's was movie made, "Romero." And since Oscar Romero's day, I've been motivated to help these people struggling for freedom and justice.

So I would like to see a much quicker path to citizenship, a much more willing acceptance of the rest of us in the United States.

You know, these families are doing so much to encourage our country to grow and to be the land of "E Pluribus Unum."

And it's not a melting pot, Fredricka. It's a stew where you have delicious ingredients coming together to form something ever more delicious, the United States of America.

WHITFIELD: All right, fantastic.

Father Bruce Nieli, always good to see you. Thank you so much for being with me.

NIELI: God bless you, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: Thank you. And you, as well.


And this programming note. Stanley Tucci explores the city that many call the food capital of Italy. He travels to Boulogne on the new CNN original series, "STANLEY TUCCI, SEARCHING FOR ITALY." That's tomorrow night at 9:00 Eastern and Pacific. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


WHITFIELD: Attacks on Asian-Americans in New York City are on the rise, jumping to 29 in 2020, according to New York City police.

While in Los Angeles, police are investigating an attack this month on a Korean-American man as a hate crime.

Authorities have linked many of the incidents to the reported origins of coronavirus, leaving the Asian-American community fearful and anxious.

The Asian-American federation organized a "Rise Up Against Anti-Asian Hate" rally this afternoon in New York City.

And CNN's Jean Casarez is there for us.

Jean, a lot of officials, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and New York Attorney General Letitia James are expected to show up.

What are you seeing?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There are a lot of notables here. And the Asian-American community has really come out in force because of the escalation of anti-Asian crime.

Mayor Bill De Blasio was just speaking. Before him, was the attorney general of New York, Letitia James. She said that an attack on Asian- Americans is an attack on all of us. Senate Majority Leader Schumer spoke also, reiterating that.

And the statistics cannot be ignored. As you said, in 2020, according to the New York Police Department, there were 29 cases of anti-Asian crime. In 2019, there were three.

Let me just tell you, Thursday night, right in this vicinity -- and we do have some video of this because surveillance video is catching a lot of this -- an Asian-American man was just walking along and a perpetrator came and stabbed him in the torso from the back. The Asian-American man is now in critical condition in a hospital.


Now, three hours later, there was an arrest. The alleged perpetrator is in custody at this point.

But one night later, Friday night, last night, there were four Asian- American men in Brooklyn that were all stabbed. One of them is deceased at this point. Three of them have substantial injuries. One just had some puncture marks.

People that I talk to here tell me that they are afraid.


UNIDENTIFIED NEW YORK RESIDENT: I walk out the door and I brace myself. I prepare myself. And just -- I make sure I no longer listen to music when I'm walking around. I no longer listen to podcasts. I'm not distracted in any way. I want to make sure I pay attention to whatever might be happening around me. That's where I am right now.

UNIDENTIFIED NEW YORK RESIDENT: Many of my family members are living in fear and anxiety. The attack just a couple of nights ago was a man stabbed in the back, randomly, you know? So this is not a way to live. You know, to walk with our backs against the walls, always in fear.

You know, something must be done. We're going to look to our elected officials, and our government, and really society at large to understand and recognize this problem and do something about it.


CASAREZ: Now, New York City is not the only area. Anti-Asian-American crime is taking place all over this country, notably Chinatown in San Francisco.

But the New York City Police Department Asian Hate Crime Task Force is in force. They say that this is very important to them.

Crime has gone up all over New York City. But against Asians, the vulnerable, it is something that is priority -- Fred?

WHITFIELD: It's incredibly disturbing.

Jean Casarez, in New York City, thank you so much for that.

Still to come, as the House passed President Biden's COVID relief package overnight, which would extend eviction moratoriums until the end of September. But is it too little, too late for more than a million mom-and-pop landlords?



WHITFIELD: This week, a federal judge ruled that the CDC moratorium on evictions is unconstitutional. While millions of renters have received a break, landlords across the U.S. are struggling.

CNN's Natasha Chen explains.


PATRICIA BOWMAN, STONE MOUNTAIN, GEORGIA, LANDLORD: This has been the biggest trial of my life.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Patricia Bowman says she hasn't seen rent from her tenant in nearly a year.

BOWMAN: I saw my savings dwindle down month by month. CHEN: Small investors like Bowman own 16.5 million single-family

rental properties in the U.S. And a rough estimate from HUD suggests some 1.3 million of those mom-and-pop owners are struggling to pay their mortgages due to missed rental payments.

With the CDC moratorium on evictions during the pandemic, Bowman was stuck, unable to evict the tenant. She finally got a court hearing in February.

UNIDENTIFIED JUDGE: Ms. Bowman, judgment is in your favor for $7,650, plus court costs.

CHEN: A judge in DeKalb County, Georgia, did order the tenant out in seven days, with one catch.

BOWMAN: After the writ has been filed, will the marshals still come out to actually do the eviction?

UNIDENTIFIED JUDGE: They will once the moratorium has been lifted by the CDC.

CHEN: Biden's American rescue plan now passed by the House would extend the moratorium until the end of September.

Her tenant hasn't left since the judge ordered him out. And this means he could stay in her house for another six months, even if he continues to not pay rent.

BOWMAN: It's been like a perfect storm of events that have happened, you know, where I feel like now that, you know, I am in jeopardy of losing my own residence.

CHEN: Bowman says her banks allowed her to put this house and her own home in forbearance. That means her mortgage payments may be on pause, but she'll still owe the money late.

She could apply for rental assistance herself, now that landlords are able to directly submit for the aid approved by Congress in December. But they still need the tenant to sign off.

TINA BROWN, NEW YORK LANDLORD: I don't understand why I would need her approval to pay for the rent. I don't understand that.

CHEN: Tina Brown says her tenant hasn't been paying rent, all while Brown lost her own job during the pandemic, temporarily moved in with her mother, then finally moved into the basement of her rental property, right beneath her non-paying tenant.

BROWN: Being strapped financially, dealing with COVID, dealing with not knowing where you're going to live, and then also dealing with the possibility of losing your property, it's terrifying.

CHEN: But more help is likely on the way with the stimulus package passed by the House.

SUSAN REIF, DIRECTOR, EVICTION PREVENTION PROJECT, GEORGIA LEGAL SERVICES: If you're a landlord and you're at the point where you're extremely frustrated, which, you know, the circumstances would justify, now is not the time to try to evict.

CHEN: Because no one will receive rental assistance if the tenant is kicked out, Reif says.

She says advocating for tenants is also advocating for smaller landlords, too, who provide most of the scarce affordable housing in this country.


REIF: It's a timing issue right now between getting this rental assistance to the landlords in time to save the affordable housing.

CHEN: Natasha Chen, CNN, Atlanta.