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States Beginning To Lift Some COVID-19 Restrictions; J&J Vaccine Rollout Plan; South Dakota Governor Bashes Fauci At CPAC; Two Protesters Killed In Myanmar Protest; State Republican Lawmakers Try To Make Voting Harder; New Yorkers Rally Against Attacks On Asian Americans; COVID-19 Exposes Decades Of Neglect In Canada's Care Homes; Irish Police Arrest 23 In Dublin Anti-Lockdown Protests; Funeral For Captain Sir Tom Moore. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired February 28, 2021 - 03:00   ET




KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Another vaccine gets approval from U.S. health authorities and there are signs that more and more Americans are ready to get a shot.

Donald Trump gets set to speak at a big conservative conference. And some Republican lawmakers are using the Big Lie to try to make it harder for people to vote. We'll look at the potential impact.

Plus we're following reports that police have opened fire on protesters in Myanmar.

Live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, welcome to all watching in the United States, Canada and around the world. I'm Kim Brunhuber. This is CNN NEWSROOM.


BRUNHUBER: The U.S. vaccination effort is about to get a big boost, thanks to the clearance of a third vaccine. Johnson & Johnson's single-dose shot has emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration. Saturday's decision allows distribution of some 4 million doses to get underway.

Here's what happens next. The CDC's vaccine committee meets today to set guidelines for who should get it. The agency's director will then have to give the final sign-off. That's expected either today or tomorrow. Then after that, shots can start going into arms.


GOV. SPENCER COX (R-UT): We expect that we will be getting several thousand doses in the next couple of days. We expect shots in arms this coming week. We know they have about 4 million doses on hand ready to go out.

They'll start shipping those out, we believe, on Monday. We should have those shots, we think, on Wednesday. And shots in arms on Thursday and Friday. That's a big deal for our state and for Americans everywhere.


BRUNHUBER: President Biden says it could help end the crisis. He released a statement saying, in part, quote, "Thanks to the brilliance of our scientists, the resilience of our people and the eagerness of Americans in every community to protect themselves and their loved ones by getting vaccinated, we are moving in the right direction."

The single dose isn't the only advantage of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Natasha Chen reports on why else this is such a big deal.


NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A third coronavirus vaccine will likely become available as soon as next week now that the Food and Drug Administration has authorized Johnson & Johnson's single dose vaccine for emergency use.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Significantly, the vaccine is highly effective in preventing severe COVID-19.

CHEN (voice-over): The Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires no complex refrigeration and only one dose. They say they're ready to ship doses as early as Sunday.

DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: Having an additional safe and effective vaccine will help protect more people, faster.

CHEN (voice-over): And more people are eager to get one. A Kaiser Family Foundation report on Friday showing 55 percent of surveyed of adults in the U.S. had either had at least one vaccine dose or is eager to get one.

That's up from early December when only about a third of adults surveyed wanted the vaccine. There's still more demand than supply, especially after last week's winter storm, sweeping through the Midwest and Texas, disrupting the supply chain all over the U.S.

CHEN: Vaccination sites, like this one, outside of Atlanta, saw none of that severe weather but are feeling the effects. This afternoon, they are seeing all the people whose scheduled second dose appointments were canceled last week due to shipment delays, caused by the severe weather.

CHEN (voice-over): More groups of people, like younger adults with underlying health conditions, are becoming eligible for the vaccine in some states.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think I was, actually, shaking. I thought, oh my gosh, I can go get it. I think I was the youngest one that had been through, so far. So they were all saying, wait, we don't know what to do yet. CHEN (voice-over): With 7 percent of the country fully vaccinated, the

number of cases, deaths and hospitalizations continue to stay lower than the holiday peak. This relative progress is threatened by rapidly spreading variants.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF COVID-19 MEDICAL ADVISER: We have variants that are in play. We must address these.

CHEN (voice-over): And the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, in many states. New York nursing homes, reopened with restrictions Friday to some visitors. Tennessee, lifting restrictions on visiting at long term care facilities Sunday. South Carolina, lifting restrictions on mass gatherings starting Monday.

DR. CARLOS DEL RIO, EXECUTIVE ASSOCIATION DEAN, EMORY UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE AT GRADY HEALTH SYSTEM: I'm worried people are lifting restrictions, saying it's over, when the reality is, we aren't over yet.


DEL RIO: We're really, right now in a race between variants and vaccines and we have to do everything we can to shut down the virus.

CHEN: More and more groups of people are becoming eligible to get the vaccine, depending on the state. Here in Georgia, in a little more than a week, we will start seeing teachers, for example, joining the group of people eligible for the vaccine -- Natasha Chen, CNN, Atlanta.


BRUNHUBER: Dr. Stephen Parodi is the associate executive director of the Permanente Medical Group at Kaiser Permanente and joins me from San Francisco.

Thanks so much for being here. For you on the ground, you have some 4.5 million patients across 21 hospitals in California, a state that's seen plenty of vaccine shortages.

Is this a game changer?

DR. STEPHEN PARODI, ASSOCIATE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, PERMANENTE MEDICAL GROUP: I think this new vaccine is a huge game changer. First of all, it's a one-dose vaccine. It requires refrigeration instead of the freezers. So it's going to be actually much more mobile.

We're going to be able to get this into the communities in a much more ready and fast fashion. It has minimal side effects. And it prevents hospitalizations and it prevents deaths. And that is really what we've been struggling with in California and in the entire U.S.

BRUNHUBER: You say it will be deployed fast. So it's expected to roll out next week, possibly as soon as Monday.

So concretely how are you preparing? What are the logistics involved here to actually get those shots in arms quickly?

PARODI: That's right. So literally, we are hearing that, as of Monday, we are going to see up to 4 million doses being released in the United States. And we expect about 10 percent of that coming to California.

So we've been ramping up both our internal operations in the hospitals, in our clinics but also mass vaccination sites. We've been having our personnel deployed in these facilities at the mass vaccination sites.

In addition to that, we've been actually getting out into the community. So we've actually stood up community centers in churches or popup clinics in particular counties that have asked for our assistance.

BRUNHUBER: Now because the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has a lower efficacy rate, some people, they might see it as a second-class vaccine. You know, the consistent message we've been hearing from health experts is, the best vaccine is the one you can actually get.

But how do you convince people of that?

You mentioned marginalized communities.

How do you approach it, with many of them who might be suspicious that the rich or white people are getting the good vaccine and they're getting the bad one?

PARODI: I'll tell you, I have this conversation with my patients and have been talking about this the last couple of weeks in anticipation of J&J coming out. The key thing here is that this vaccine prevents death, it prevents hospitalizations, it's going to prevent you from getting into an ICU.

And quite frankly, it acts faster than even the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. So it gets you up to really the immunity that I'm talking about, in terms of preventing you from dying within four weeks, where it takes about six weeks when it comes to the other two vaccines.

So I think there's a lack of, you know, difference here in terms of when it comes to protecting you from what matters most, which is preventing death.

BRUNHUBER: We're still going to have to take all the measures that we've been taking for months now, masks, social distancing; things won't open up for a while. Unfortunately, as we see politics and COVID are inextricably intertwined, we saw more evidence of that last night at the conservative conference, CPAC.

One of the biggest applause lines was when South Dakota's governor touted her state's record on COVID, then bashed Dr. Fauci. I want to listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. KRISTI NOEM (R-SD): We never focused on the case numbers. Instead, we kept our eye on hospital capacity. Dr. Fauci, he told me that, on my worst day, I'd have 10,000 patients in the hospital. On our worst day, we had a little over 600. I don't know if you agree with me but Dr. Fauci is wrong a lot.


BRUNHUBER: We didn't play it but there was a huge applause after she said that. So I'm playing that not because it was an exception or an outlier. All throughout the weekend, all the big-name Republicans have been mocking mask mandates. The crowd booed reminders to wear masks.

That anti-expertise, anti-science attitude, they're still persistent and prevalent.

How much harder does that make your job?


BRUNHUBER: As we still have to go through all these -- go through with these measures?

PARODI: It's been such a complicated messaging campaign when it comes to the disparate messages that are out there.

Let me just tell you, I stand with Dr. Fauci. When it comes to the science, we know that the way you protect yourself is by wearing a mask, washing your hands, keeping your distance and in getting those vaccines into arms.

And we know it works, by the way. You see the contrast between the behavior that occurred with the Thanksgiving Day travel, then what happened at Christmas and New Year's, where people actually stayed home.

And what we're seeing now is actually the benefits of that. We're seeing massive decreases when it comes to hospitalizations. I think that's a combination of both the vaccination effort but, most importantly, because people have taken it to heart, that we need to protect each other by following those good public health measures that we know work.

BRUNHUBER: Yes, well said. An important message. I hope people are listening. Thanks so much, Dr. Stephen Parodi, appreciate it.

PARODI: Thank you, Kim.

BRUNHUBER: President Biden is calling on senators to pass his COVID relief bill. The House of Representatives approved the legislation Saturday morning. All but two Democrats voted for it but no Republicans.

Later Saturday, Mr. Biden said the government is one step closer to helping Americans in need but the Senate must move quickly.


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 is time to act.


BRUNHUBER: Former U.S. President Donald Trump is set to step back into the political spotlight in the hours ahead with his first speech since leaving the White House.


BRUNHUBER (voice-over): You'll see this, this gleaming Trump statue complete with star-spangled shorts and red flip-flops, tells you exactly how high anticipation is running at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

Some say the former president isn't just plotting his return, he's out for revenge and other Republicans seemed ready and willing to go along for the ride.


MIKE POMPEO, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I hear President Biden saying, America's back.

Back to what?

Back to pallets of cash to the ayatollah so he can build missiles that threaten us?

Back to apologizing when Iranians tell our sailors and soldiers to take to their knees at gunpoint?

You all know these four years are going to test us. I'll be with you in the fight.


BRUNHUBER: Scott Jennings is a CNN political commentator and joins me from Louisville, Kentucky.

Thanks for being here. All that ink spilled about how the Republican Party was looking to move past Donald Trump seems quaint, almost comical now. It's easy to make fun of the Trump statue and all that.

But are you surprised at how united they are behind him, how much friendly fire there was aimed at the Republicans who had been critical of him?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: No, I'm not surprised. I mean, Donald Trump is the most popular figure in the Republican Party. He has signaled that he wants to hang around for the next four years or more. He may even run for president again.

And there's really no counterbalance to him of equal stature in the party, at least as it relates to the Republican grassroots. So not really surprised about all of this. And we'll see how it plays out in the '22 and '24 primaries. I suspect Donald Trump's going to be around as long as he wants to be in the Republican Party.

BRUNHUBER: That's exactly it. Normally this conference is sort of a platform for future presidential candidates. But as you say, it seems hard to escape Trump's gravitational pull.

But given that, did anyone stand out to you?

JENNINGS: Well, I think governor Ron DeSantis of Florida is a rising star. Governor Noem of South Dakota is someone who made a big impact. There are always people at these conferences that make very good speeches.

In this particular iteration, Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee if he chooses to be. I mean, that's just a fact. And the rest of these folks are kind of playing to see if he decides not to run. And that's just the way it is for them. And they don't have any choice but to play along. But their fate is not in their own hands, it's in Donald Trump's hands.

BRUNHUBER: So if some of the more moderate Republicans had been there, assuming they wouldn't have been booed off the stage, what are a few of the actual issues beyond the Big Lie, cancel culture, things like that, real issues, that you would have liked them to bring up?

JENNINGS: We're not really running on much of a platform right now as Republicans.


JENNINGS: Trump didn't have a platform. The Republican National Committee at the convention didn't write a platform in 2020. Trump's issues were really nonexistent. Right now the Republicans are mostly just positioning themselves against things, against the media, which I actually think they treat more like the opposition party than the Democrats.

They're against cancel culture, they're even against some Republicans. Ted Cruz gave a speech at this conference, basically trying to lop off everybody who wears a tie and works in a cubicle from the Republican Party.

And so we're sort of anti or against things. But I'm not sure what we're for. I think that will carry you some distance in politics. But in order to be competitive in a presidential campaign, I think you actually have to be for something.

You have to tell people how you're going to move the country forward. We didn't have it in '20. We don't have it right now. But for the party to be nationally competitive, I think it needs it by '24.

BRUNHUBER: You touched on cancel culture there. I mean, it's something I hear all the time from my Republican friends.

But I'm wondering with the economy, with COVID, with so many actual problems, why is that such an issue that resonates with so many Republicans?

JENNINGS: Well, I think it's because, number one, Republicans hate the media more than anything. And I'm just telling you, they think the media at large is a bigger problem than liberal Democrats. They think the media goes around trying to cancel Republicans.

They think big tech companies go around trying to cancel Republicans. And so they see this huge left-leaning ecosystem out there that is trying to silence Republican and conservative voices. And so it is a huge deal on the Right. And it's a legitimate concern.

I think the question is, though, is that enough to make you a nationally viable party in a presidential election?

It might make you regionally viable or in a certain jurisdiction. But Republicans just lost the presidential election by 7 million votes. And so it's been a long time, really, since we won the national popular vote.

I think the core question is, is something like cancel culture going to be enough?

I think it could be a component of a winning campaign but I'm not sure it's enough to make up your entire strategy or whole platform.

BRUNHUBER: Yes. And on that, many people on the Left point to the polls that suggest that Trumpism is kind of driving Republicans away from the Republican Party. But I've been wanting to ask you this for a while.

Is that just that Republicans are being driven away from the party itself but they're not being driven away from voting Republican?

They're still supporting president Trump. It's not like they're going to go vote for Democrats now.

JENNINGS: Well, I mean, the 2020 election, a lot of Republicans who usually vote Republican certainly did not vote for Donald Trump. And many of them voted for Joe Biden. Some of them voted Republican down- ticket, which tells me, in their hearts, they still want to vote for conservatives out there.

But there was something about Donald Trump that repelled them. That's the thing about the Republican brand. It has to be elastic enough to capture the moderate, as you called it, or the suburban voter or the white-collar voter, while, at the same time capturing this new blue- collar cohort that Trump has brought to the party.

There has to be some elasticity, the brand has to be big enough to capture both. When I hear Ted Cruz and others say, we want to get rid of certain kinds of Republicans out of the party, I don't understand why you would want to do that when that makes your party smaller and less viable.

If I were Donald Trump or anybody else who wanted to be boss of the party, I would be thinking, how do I get the most people in the tent, not, how do I exclude people. Because the politics of subtraction will only lead to losses in the future.

BRUNHUBER: The main event, Donald Trump speaking tonight. We'll see what he has to say. Thank you so much, Scott Jennings, we appreciate you coming on.

JENNINGS: Thanks a lot.

BRUNHUBER: Coming up on CNN NEWSROOM, police are cracking down hard on anti-coup protesters in Myanmar and there are reports of fatalities. We'll have the latest in a live report from the region ahead.





BRUNHUBER: Myanmar is seeing its deadliest day of pro-democracy protests since the military coup nearly one month ago. Reuters reports at least four people have been killed as police crack down on the protests, three in Dawei, one in Yangon.

Officers are firing tear gas, stun grenades and live bullets. Kristie Lu Stout live from Hong Kong with the latest.

Tragic scenes there with the crackdown escalating.

What's the latest?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR: A tough and brutal crackdown is underway as police open fire on anti-coup and pro-democracy protesters all across the nation of Myanmar. In Dawei, a town in the south of the country, Reuters reports three protesters have been shot dead.

In Yangon, the largest city in Myanmar, Reuters is reporting one protester has been shot dead. Additional reports out of Mandalay of an additional gunshot victim. This has become the deadliest, the bloodiest day of protests since the coup took place on February 1st.

We've learned five student protesters have been arrested and we've been monitoring social media video that shows police in riot gear advancing on crowds of protesters. You hear the chilling sounds of shots being fired, the sound of gunfire in these social media videos. You can hear onlookers screaming and crying.

This comes a day after the military dismissed the Myanmar ambassador to the United Nations after he defied the military. The ambassador gave this impassioned plea to the U.S. General Assembly, asking the international community to act to reverse the coup.

In that plea, he used the three-finger salute we've been seeing among anti-coup protesters inside the country of Myanmar. After he gave that plea he was met with a very rare round of applause among his U.N. colleagues.


STOUT: Meanwhile we're looking ahead to what's going to happen to Aung San Suu Kyi, the de facto leader of Myanmar. Monday she is expected to appear in court via video link. She faces two charges, one charge of illegally importing six walkie-talkie radios and an additional charge of violating a natural disaster agreement.

She was ousted in this military coup in February. Since then, for about 23 consecutive days, anti-coup and pro-democracy protesters have been taking to the streets. And with the military and police using truncheons, water cannon, stun grenades, rubber bullets, live ammunition, they have been risking their lives to protest to ask for the restoration of democracy, for the reversal of the coup and for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi.

BRUNHUBER: We'll keep following that developing story. Thank you so much, Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong.

Donald Trump's Big Lie about a stolen election is finding fertile ground in statehouses across the country. Ahead, Republican lawmakers now intent on fixing a problem, large-scale voter fraud that doesn't exist. And Trump supporters are all in, as they await his return to the political spotlight.


DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN TECH CORRESPONDENT: Everybody keeps saying Trump has a plan. When they lost the election, they said, he has a plan --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Trump didn't lose the election, sir.

O'SULLIVAN: But he did.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Trump did not lose the election. And that's where we differ.





BRUNHUBER: Welcome back to all of you watching here in the United States, Canada and around the world. I'm Kim Brunhuber and you're watching CNN NEWSROOM. [03:30:00]

BRUNHUBER: Donald Trump can expect a rock star reception when he closes out the annual CPAC meeting later today in Florida. The speech will be his first public appearance since leaving office. Chances are it will solidify his iron grip on the Republican Party.

This year's Conservative Political Action Conference has attracted Trump's most die-hard supporters. They've been primed for months with bizarre conspiracy theories and fake information about the 2020 election.

When Trump takes center stage this afternoon, he's expected to feed them the Big Lie one more time. CPAC speakers have been laying the groundwork for two days.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On January the 6th, I objected during the Electoral College certification. Maybe you heard about it. I stood up and I said -- I said, we ought to have a debate about election integrity.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The reason that people stormed the Capitol was because they felt hopeless because of a rigged election.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Democrats, not Republicans, installed ballot drop boxes on sidewalks where nobody oversaw them.

How many fraudulent ballots got deposited in these boxes unchecked and then counted?

Who knows?


BRUNHUBER: Of course none what was you just heard there is true. Each of those talking points has been thoroughly refuted and debunked.

But the Big Lie, as it's often called, is having a more insidious effect closer to home. It's given state Republican legislatures the cover to propose ways to discourage Democratic voters under the guise of fixing voter fraud that doesn't exist. CNN's Dianne Gallagher explains.


DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The 2020 election is over, but Republicans in dozens of states are still using the baseless claims surrounding it, spread by former President Trump and his allies, to push new restrictive election bills.

Experts say the link is clear.

JESSICA HUSEMAN, PROPUBLICA: It's just as much about keeping people who will not vote for them away from the polls, as it is energizing their own base and getting them to be angry about election security, which is exactly the playbook that Trump used in the last year.

GALLAGHER (voice-over): The Brennan Center for Justice says it's tracking at least 253 restrictive voting bills in 43 states. That's roughly six times the number from this time last year.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The bill receiving a constitutional majority is declared to have passed the house.

GALLAGHER (voice-over): In Iowa, both Republican-controlled chambers passed a bill that would reduce early voting days, Election Day poll hours and make it harder to absentee vote. That now awaits the governor's signature.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The bill carries and is on its way to rule.

GALLAGHER (voice-over): In Georgia, the house and senate are advancing bills that would drastically change election laws and restrict access to mail-in voting, even eliminating early voting on Sundays.

In Arizona, voting rights activists are sounding alarms.

ALEX GULOTTA, ALL VOTING IS LOCAL ARIZONA: There are bills that would really harm access to voting, particularly for people of color, for low-income families, for Native Americans. And they're rushing through because we have to fix a problem that doesn't exist.

GALLAGHER (voice-over): Most of the voting-related bills proposed in the Grand Canyon State focus on the mail-in voting process. Popular for decades in this sprawling scenic state, more than 80 percent of Arizonans voted by mail in 2020.

One bill would require mail-in ballots to be notarized; another lets voters request a ballot by mail, but you'd have to make the journey to turn it in in-person. A bill that zeros in on the state's permanent early voter list advanced out of committee just this week.

MICHELLE UGENTI-RITA (R), ARIZONA STATE SENATOR: If you are not voting, then you're not going to notice being removed.

GULOTTA: IT's not just one bill, it's 50 or more bills, right? And so it's the cumulative effect of all of them. Will they all get through? Probably not. Will a coalition of scrappy advocates be able to stop all of them? Probably not.

GALLAGHER (voice-over): Now some Republicans are skeptical of the more extreme proposals.

RUSTY BOWERS (R), SPEAKER, ARIZONA STATE HOUSE: Some of them I think are valid, we need to clean voter rolls and make sure that people are here to vote, that's pretty standard stuff. But other things are not as acceptable to me.

GALLAGHER (voice-over): Dianne Gallagher, CNN, Phoenix, Arizona.


BRUNHUBER: Nate Persily is a professor of law at Stanford University.

Thank you for joining us. Many Republicans have acknowledged essentially that, the fewer people that vote, the better Republicans do.

But now there's new cover for the strategy, right?

The Big Lie.

So how central is that to this large-scale national move to restrict voting?

NATE PERSILY, PROFESSOR OF LAW, STANFORD UNIVERSITY: Well, we're seeing several laws, in fact, over 100 or over 200 bills that have been proposed in different state legislatures, trying to make it more difficult for people to vote.


PERSILY: Many of them are, as you say, trying to deal with the vote fraud problem that was given a lot of amplification but without a lot of evidence, over the last three months. But that is the strategy here, which is to use an anti-fraud rationale to try to make it harder for people to vote.

BRUNHUBER: Right, but they're trying to stop something that never actually happened, right?

I mean, this is not borne out by any research.

PERSILY: That's right. As you say, it is the Big Lie. But it is a pervasive one and it's one that close to 30 percent or 40 percent of Americans believe, that there is widespread belief that the election was illegitimate. And it's taken hold, unfortunately among a large sector of the U.S. population. Now politicians are feeding that lie in order to pass some of these vote-suppressive bills.

BRUNHUBER: Many of them seem to be targeting minorities almost specifically. Here in Georgia, how high turnout among minorities, we saw in the election, African Americans particularly, they can be so instrumental.

And now we're seeing those Republican attempts to, for example, cut Sunday voting, which is when many churches hold those Souls to the Polls events to get people to vote after church.

So how is the minority vote being targeted specifically with these laws?

PERSILY: I think that is a critical component to this, which is that, while they are articulating an anti-fraud rationale, you cannot justify these laws, based on a fight against fraud.

So as you mentioned, the restriction on Sunday voting, which has been traditionally used, particularly in Black churches, that's in-person voting. This is not -- you can't sort of say that this is a way of stopping mail voter fraud or the other kinds of fraud that were being alleged.

This is simply a way to make it harder for certain categories of people to vote -- and African Americans and Latinos in particular.

BRUNHUBER: Democrats, on the other hand, they're trying to expand access to voting. But in Congress, if they want to get anything done, they have to get rid of the filibuster.

Then in terms of local and state control, which is obviously so vital on this issue specifically, do Democrats have a shot to stop this wave?

Who has the upper hand here?

PERSILY: Well, it really does depend on the state. So there are Democratic governors in many of the battleground states -- Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, North Carolina -- they're able to veto laws like this that may come out of those legislatures.

But Arizona and Georgia, as you mentioned, the two tightest battleground states, have unified Republican control. So it's possible that, if the Republicans all vote as a bloc on these bills, that they might pass.

But these are legislators who are looking over their shoulders as well and they know what criticism they're going to get. So these are still bills in the hopper. They haven't been passed. So we need to make sure that they understand what the implications are if they were to pass these bills.

BRUNHUBER: And then the Supreme Court next week is going to hear a Voting Rights Act case.

So should Democrats kind of prepare themselves for disappointment, given that the court has a recent history on this issue?

Now with the new balance of power in the Supreme Court, that will further enforce that.

PERSILY: Yes, I think there's a good chance that the Democrats or the plaintiffs in the original case are going to lose at the U.S. Supreme Court. But you can lose badly or you can lose in a better way. And I think they're hoping that this doesn't gut Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which is a way of trying to get at laws that have discriminatory impacts, whether they be voter ID laws, some of these Sunday poll closing laws, restrictions on absentee balloting.

So we'll see whether the court issues an expansive ruling on those issues.

BRUNHUBER: We'll be following. Thank you so much for your expertise on this, Nate Persily, we appreciate it.

The pandemic is exposing how some seniors in Canada have been mistreated for years. Just ahead, shameful stories of the elderly wasting away, hungry and in pain. And another disgraceful aspect of the pandemic, the drastic rise in

hate crimes against Asian Americans.


WILL LEX HAM, NEW YORK CITY RESIDENT: Many of my family members are living in fear or anxiety. The attack just a couple nights ago, a man was stabbed in the back, randomly. It's just not a way to live, that -- to walk with our backs against the walls, always in fear.

Something must be done and 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.






BRUNHUBER: In New York City Saturday, people turned out to rally against a surge of vicious attacks against Asian Americans. These crimes have spiked dramatically since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Last year, the NYPD recorded 29 racially motivated crimes against people of Asian descent, compared to just three in 2019. Former U.S. presidential candidate Andrew Yang told CNN that, while he hasn't personally been a victim of any attacks, the feeling of fear is very real.


ANDREW YANG, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: This is a heartbreaking and devastating time for so many people in the Asian American community. I talked to the family of one of the victims this week. and there just so much pain and confusion and a desire to feel safe.


BRUNHUBER: And a devastating story out of Canada. The horrible treatment of seniors, which was being compounded by the pandemic. In some care homes, they were basically left to die, starving.

It was so bad the prime minister had to call the troops in to help. CNN's Paula Newton met with families who have lost a loved one and they want answers.


PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For days and weeks and even now, COVID-19 has mercilessly killed thousands of Canadian seniors living in long term care homes. At one point, as seen here, even the military was called in to help.

Many families say it was not just the virus, it was gross negligence by the nursing homes and governments that regulate them.

NADIA SBAIHI, GRANDDAUGHTER OF NURSING HOME VICTIM: It was quite shocking to see that that was happening. There were, for several days, people could not get a hold of their loved ones.

NEWTON (voice-over): Nadia Sbaihi's grandfather, Rodrigue Kennell (ph), died of COVID-19 last April at his nursing home, just outside of Montreal.

Dozens of others, dying there as well, as nursing home employees, overwhelmed and understaffed, were on their own.


NEWTON (voice-over): Because the government banned all visitors, even family, as the virus was spreading.

SBAIHI: I regret those last days. That, to me, is something that we were robbed, particularly in the first wave, where we were not allowed to see our loved ones. And our loved ones died alone.

NEWTON (voice-over): Hilda Slaugherov (ph) did not die of COVID-19. But she did suffer just the same, her family says; 102 years old, living with dementia an in room camera, placed there by her family, painfully documents how she wasted away. Unable to feed herself, too weak to even hold a glass of water and her family says staff was, seemingly, too swamped to notice.

NICOLE JAOUICH, DAUGHTER OF NURSING HOME VICTIM: I was looking to my mother through the camera and she was breathing so heavily and she was -- and she was -- you could see, she was in pain.

NEWTON: How upsetting is it for you to know that your mother, essentially, starved to death?

JAOUICH: It was heartbreaking for me to know that I wasn't there. And that when the last 6 weeks of her life, she starved. Nobody was there to comfort her, to explain to her. That was the most heartbreaking for me. And to think that she really felt abandoned, that's, for sure.

NEWTON (voice-over): Government investigations, some still ongoing, found dramatic staff shortages of residents neglected and without adequate medical attention. The situation that so many of these care homes were so grave, Canada called in troops, in the spring of last year, to help with what was becoming a humanitarian disaster.

Prime minister Justin Trudeau calling it a national tragedy.

JUSTIN TRUDEAU, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: In Canada, we shouldn't have soldiers taking care of seniors.

NEWTON (voice-over): Yet, what the soldiers said they found, shocked many. A scathing report, detailing chronically understaffed facilities, with little protective equipment, rotten food and the elderly, bewildered and neglected.

PATRICK MENARD, LAWYER: Multiple people, did not receive even the most basic care, including help to feed themselves or to drink or baths or anything. Many people died as a result of that.

That decision of the government to prevent family caregivers from going in and to not provide for adequate personnel, provide even the most basic care, that decision is completely unforgivable.

NEWTON: Nothing will bring back their loved ones.

But what do they hope will happen now?

MENARD: I think we need to take a very long look at ourselves, collectively and think about the way that we have treated our elderly population, not just during the pandemic but over the past 10, 20, 30 years.

NEWTON (voice-over): And that is the reason that families continue to speak out. Government leaders, across the country, are now vowing to change the way seniors are cared for, acknowledging that this pandemic has laid bare a system that, families say, was inhumane. Nicole says it was what her mother would have wanted of her.

JAOUICH: I held her hand and they were so cold and I was warming her hands and she squeezed my hand 3 times. This was such a moving moment for me. I told her, Mommy, I did not abandon you, I tried my best to be with you.

NEWTON (voice-over): I asked Nadia if it bothered her that her grandfather's last days were not what he deserved.

SBAIHI: It's not about my emotions, that's not why I'm doing this. It's not what this is about. It's to give a voice to those who don't have one. Voices weren't heard.

NEWTON (voice-over): Paula Newton, CNN, Ottawa.


BRUNHUBER: That's hard to watch.

Coming up, honoring one of the U.K.'s latest national treasures. We'll show you how Captain Sir Tom Moore is being remembered.





BRUNHUBER: Anti-lockdown demonstrations turned violent in Dublin on Saturday. Police arrested 23 people in clashes with protesters on a main shopping street. Three officers were injured. Ireland's lockdown is one of the strictest in the world. Earlier this week the prime minister announced that restrictions will be extended until at least April 5th.

Britain is honoring a man who spent his life helping others. But when coronavirus hit, Captain Sir Tom Moore walked straight into the history books. He raised millions of dollars for charity and grabbed the world's attention with his hopeful message.

He died earlier this month. Now his family and his nation are giving him a loving sendoff. Scott McLean joins from us London to tell us about it.

It would take a heart of stone not to be moved by his story. And what a fitting tribute.

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you're absolutely right, Kim. This was a pretty unlikely hero of the pandemic. This was a 99-year- old man, who set out to raise just 1,000 pounds by his 100th birthday.

Well, he ended up raising millions by, as his daughter said at his funeral service yesterday, walking into the nation's hearts. Before he died he wrote that, not that long go, his funeral might have only attracted a single line in a local newspaper.

But because of his overnight fame that he got over the last 10 months of his life, it was watched by people across the country.


MCLEAN (voice-over): This is the last lap for Captain Tom Moore. With his casket draped in the Union Jack, it was the final farewell for the 100-year-old national hero.

He died on February 2nd, after testing positive for the coronavirus. He was a father, a grandfather, military veteran. But he is remembered most for walking the lengths of his garden 100 times, with the aid of a walker.


MCLEAN (voice-over): A challenge for him to mark his 100th birthday and inspiration for the rest of us, during some of the darkest days of the pandemic.

He raised nearly $45 million from donors in 163 countries for National Health Service charities. He earned international fame and a knighthood for his efforts. Members of the Yorkshire Regiment, the modern version of the unit he served in World War II, carried his coffin.

The firing party performed a salute. And a plane from the World War II era, did a flypast. Only his immediate family could attend the funeral, because of coronavirus restrictions. A quiet service, for a man whose small act of service, resonated around the world.

LUCY TEIXEIRA, MOORE'S DAUGHTER: Daddy, I am so proud of you. What you achieved, your whole life and especially in the last year, you may be gone but your message and spirit, lives on.


MCLEAN: In keeping with his wishes, Captain Tom's funeral ended with a song that he says described the way he lived his life, "My Way" by Frank Sinatra.

Moore liked the line in the song that says, "Regrets, I've had a few but, then again, too few to mention."

Captain Tom wanted his ashes taken to his family plot in northern England and he wanted a simple white military headstone, with the inscription, "I told you I was old," hoping it might one day make people smile.

BRUNHUBER: It's making me smile right now. What a man. Thank you so much for that, Scott McLean in London.

I'm Kim Brunhuber. I'll be back in just a moment with more here on CNN NEWSROOM. Please do stay with us.