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CDC Releases New Guidelines for Vaccinated Americans; Jury Selection on Hold in Derek Chauvin Trial; Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Make Stunning Claims in New Interview. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired March 8, 2021 - 11:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


DR. MARCELLA NUNEZ-SMITH, CHAIRWOMAN, COVID-19 HEALTH EQUITY TASK FORCE: From continuing to claim lives, strain our health care system and weaken our economy.

[11:30:04]

But by working together, we believe we can hit the mark.

So, we thank you for your time. And with that, I'll turn back over to Andy.

ANDY SLAVITT, SENIOR ADVISER TO WHITE HOUSE COVID-19 RESPONSE TEAM: Thank you. As we covered a lot of ground in our report, before I turn for questions, I just want to maybe briefly summarize a few things that we heard today.

Today, I think we have begun to describe what a world looks like where we move beyond COVID-19. Dr. Walensky outlined a first step for those of us who have been vaccinated, and I think it is important to note that as more and more people get vaccinated, Dr. Walensky will continue to update us and the list of activities will continue to grow.

Dr. Fauci outlined ongoing strategies to allow for a life post-COVID to become safer and safer. And Dr. Nunez-Smith, I think, importantly points out that this recovery is not an even picture, and, in fact, we cannot fully get back to a place where we are approaching where we were before COVID, unless we do an important and good job reaching equity.

So I think a very hopeful morning but with some continued warning signs and hope for the future.

So with that, let's take some questions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks, Andy, we're running a few minutes late so we're going to have to take a couple less questions. But, first, we'll go to Ed O'Keefe at CBS.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, everyone. Happy Monday.

REPORTER: Hi, guys.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: International Women's Day.

REPORTER: Obviously this is -- we're overlapping with the -- can you hear me?

SLAVITT: We can hear you both, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The first establishes the White House --

SLAVITT: All right. We'll go ahead and go to a question. Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to Zeke at A.P.

REPORTER: Thank you, all, for the call.

For Dr. Walensky, I was hoping you can clarify why the CDC hasn't -- what the limiting factor is in CDC not putting out guidance to the effect of those who have been fully vaccinated not having to wear masks and being able to travel and things like that? What is the limiting factors in the background cases of the virus in a community? Is that not enough people are -- are vaccinated just yet to get there?

And then could you just provide potentially a step of sort of what the next set of guidance is going to be and what the triggers would be for people who are fully vaccinated being advised to be able to remove their masks in public and go about a somewhat normal life?

DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: Yes, thank you for that question. I think it is important to realize as we're working through this that still over 90 percent of the population has not yet been vaccinated and it is our responsibility to make sure in the context of 60,000 new cases a day that we protect those who remain unvaccinated and remain vulnerable. So we're doing our best to do that.

I think it is also important to remember that people who are vaccinated, there is increasing data now that suggests that they might get breakthrough infections with lesser amounts of virus, lesser amounts disease, lesser symptomatic disease, milder disease. However, we're still waiting for data to emerge about whether they could transmit that virus to other people.

So our next steps in terms of putting out the guidance, as I mentioned, is really to see larger swath of the population vaccinated, we're actively on our way to dig that, as well as to hopefully see further cases decline, waiting for new data to emerge. So we're hoping it in time, but we do need to see more new data as well.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN NEWSROOM: All right. We've been listening to the White House coronavirus response team. Dr. Walensky, the CDC director, saying -- and you could see the relief and happiness as she's delivering this, saying, we are starting to turn a corner, as the CDC puts out guidance for the first time on what fully vaccinated people should and shouldn't do, can and can't do and what that means for the rest of the population.

Let me bring back in Elizabeth Cohen as well as Medical Analyst Dr. Jorge Rodriguez. Dr. Rodriguez, I just want to get what you think of what we just heard.

DR. JORGE RODRIGUEZ, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Well, what I think is this is a good first baby step. And what I heard also from the question that was being asked, everybody is so anxious to just completely go back to 100 percent normal. This does not say that. So we can't be that anxious and just rush out. What basically it is going to be very good for families and groups that are vaccinated and have been vaccinated.

Let me caution people as happened with the HIV world, a lot of people might say that they are vaccinated or not just to try to get into groups so you have to also vet the people that you're going to be with.

[11:35:07]

I know that that is a weird thing to say but it is also true.

Now, these are small gatherings. It's, again, what their saying, mostly for families, and also if you're going to meet with groups that are unvaccinated, you have to be sure again that it is a small group and that it is people that are not as risk for acquiring COVID, because people that are vaccinated, even though they're going to be safe, we still don't know how much can be spread to other people. So this is a small baby step, but an important one.

BOLDUAN: And, Elizabeth, just even one of the examples -- smile, hearing the CDC director say vaccinated grandparents can visit, this is just, for example, could visit their daughter and family who have not been vaccinated as long as they're at low risk to the disease.

I know it is a baby step but, man, I mean, I guess we just need to take hope where we can get it and that is just really wonderful to hear.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Kate. I completely agree. I got a smile on my face when I heard that as well. Does it mean that we could all do whatever we want if we're fully vaccinated? No, it doesn't. But after the year we have had, to be told, hey, if you're fully vaccinated and you're a mother or a grandmother or a father or grandfather is fully vaccinated, you can hug them, that feels huge. That feels priceless, right now.

BOLDUAN: It does. And, Dr. Rodriguez, you mentioned this before, it was talked about kind of in what the limiting factors are, that Dr. Walensky made clear there is going to be more guidance. The more people are vaccinated, there -- things will open more. But also when more data comes in that they seem about how if and how much someone who is vaccinated can transmit the virus.

RODRIGUEZ: Correct. I think that's very imrpotant, because we still don't know -- only a small percentage. And with these variants, we really don't know how they are going to come into play, how they are going to be affecting the infectivity of people that have been vaccinated.

One thing that I wish they had touched upon, and maybe they don't have information, is what about people that have already had COVID. Are they to be considered equal to vaccinated people? At this point, from what they're saying, no. And I think that is very important, because people that have had COVID, a lot of people go around and say, hey, I have antibodies, that is not necessarily true.

So if you have had COVID, from these guidelines, it is not equal to having been fully vaccinated.

BOLDUAN: That is definitely a key area. They say more research still needs to come in. But I know I'm just going to say it again, I'm going to take good news when we can get it, and today feels like one of those moments, when we're getting that good news.

Thank you. Elizabeth, thanks for the reporting. Dr. Rodriguez, thank you so much. It is good to see you as always.

Coming up for us, it has been nearly since George Floyd's death set off a movement for racial justice. Now, the trial for the officer, the former officer -- it was just put on hold. We'll be right back with those details.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:40:00]

BOLDUAN: Today is the first day of the first trial into the death of George Floyd. And already it is on hold. Former Police Officer Derek Chauvin, he is on trial. He's the officer who was seen kneeling on George Floyd's neck for nearly eight minutes last summer, even after Floyd was unconscious. Chauvin now faces second-degree unintentional murder and manslaughter charges. Jury selection was just getting started when the judge then dismissed everyone from the courtroom.

Joining me right now is CNN's Omar Jimenez. He is in Minneapolis. He's been following all of this for us. So, Omar, what is happening?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So you touched on the most important part right now, is that we are in a delay. Specifically, we're in recess right now until the appeals court, that we're dealing with this in district court right now, but until a higher appeals court rules on whether jury selection should be delayed while they decide whether to reinstate third-degree murder charges. And that is the real dispute right now.

In fact, the judge in this case, at the district, Peter Cahill, said that we don't need to delay this so that we can move forward with jury selection. Prosecutors felt differently and that the appeals court should decide and they have now filed a motion with that appeals court and that is what we are waiting on.

So, the jury selection process that was supposed to begin officially at 10:00 A.M. Eastern Time this morning, has been delayed at least until tomorrow, as jurors have been sent home. But here is what is on the table right now. Bottom line, Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer seen kneeling on the neck of George Floyd for nearly eight minutes last May, he's been charged with second-degree unintentional murder, second-degree manslaughter, and the judge dropped the initial third-degree murder charge back in October, but, of course, that is what is being disputed and brought back up right now.

And then timeline for this, again, was supposed to begin with jury selection officially this morning at 10:00 A.M. Eastern Time and go until no later than March -- beginning on March 29th and the entire trial process -- what what will happen to the overall timeline based on at least is this hour's delay right now that we're seeing is still -- at this moment, is that both the prosecutors and at least the district judge, Peter Cahill, in this want to wait and see what the appeals court decides in regards to whether these third-degree charges can be reinstated and whether this trial should be delayed in the jury selection process while that is being decided.

[11:45:07]

So, a lot of different factors, a lot of legal jargon playing out right now.

BOLDUAN: But so many people watching, as we've seen, people were gathering even this morning. So, so much, so many eyes and so much importance, of course, on this. Omar is on the ground, thank you, Omar.

And joining me right now is CNN Legal Analyst and Civil Rights Attorney Areva Martin.

Areva, what do you -- Omar laid out kind of like where we are in this moment. What is your reaction to this recess as we wait and as we wait here to start back up with jury selection?

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Not surprised, Kate, that there is a brief recess as the appellate court makes the decision about reinstating those third-degree murder charges, as Omar said. The prosecutor wants to have those charges reinstated. There was a Minneapolis police officer who was charged and convicted on third- degree murder just in 2019. He is serving more than ten years.

So I think the prosecutors see those third-degree murder charges as being pretty important. Because, as we know, very difficult to get a conviction of a police officer in a shooting such as this -- or murder death, in this case, the kneeling on George Floyd's neck. So the third-degree murder case, as seen by the prosecutors may be the safe harbor that they need.

So I think for the prosecutors, a day is not going to be significant, more significant charges are added back to the case.

BOLDUAN: That is interesting. And when they do start back up with jury selection, it is expected to be about three weeks. When it does resume, and, of course, Areva, everyone would hope for an impartial jury in every setting, but what are the prosecutors and the defense team looking for in jurors here?

MARTIN: You know, it is a very good question, and, of course, they're not going to find any juror that is likely not have watched that videotape or has some knowledge of this case, given the massive amount of media attention that it has gotten. But they're both looking for jurors that can set aside preconceived notions and biases and walk into the courtroom and look at the evidence and the arguments that are made in the courtroom. And base their deliberations and their ultimate decision on what is presented before them, not what they've seen in the media, not what their friends or family members may have talked about.

Very unlikely that people have not already formed their opinions. But the question is can you -- we know from the questionnaire that has been presented -- even before they start voir dire, they've been asked personal questions about politics and issues of race, do they support Black Lives Matter, have they participated in marches, how many times have they actually witnessed or watched that video of the kneeling on George Floyd's neck.

These are unusual questions typically, the question and questionnaires have to do with demographics, your race, your gender, your age. So, both sides really trying to get what's maybe some of those deep rooted biases and opinions that people hold around bigger political and social issues.

BOLDUAN: That is really interesting, how unusual and deep -- I don't know if intrusive is the right word, but kind of driving those questions are. That is really interesting, Areva. Thank you very much. We're going keep an eye on when things pick back up if they, in the courtroom today in Minneapolis.

But still ahead for us, racism, family rifts and thoughts of suicide, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle sit down for a remarkable interview about why they left the royal family.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:50:00]

BOLDUAN: There is no response yet from the palace for British royal family after Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's interview with Oprah Winfrey last night. It is an interview for the history books, deeply personal and brutally critical of how Harry and Meghan were treated by what they call the firm, charges of racism and so much mar. And it got so bad according, the Meghan Markle, that she said she even considered suicide and was essentially pleading for help but got none. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MEGHAN MARKLE, DUCHESS OF SUSSEX: I knew that if I didn't say it that I would do it and I just didn't -- I just didn't want to be alive anymore. And that was a very clear a real and frightening constant thought.

And I remember -- I remember how he just cradled me and I was -- I went to the institution, and I said that I needed to go somewhere to get help, said that I have never felt this way before, and I need to go somewhere. And I was told that I couldn't, that it wouldn't be good for institution.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Joining me right now is Katie Nicholl, Royal Correspondent for Vanity Fair and author of Harry and Meghan, Life, Loss and Love.

Katie, this is an interview that people knew would be hard on royal family but nothing like this. I mean, what is the impact of this, Katie?

KATIE, NICHOLL, ROYAL CORRESPONDENT, VANITY FAIR: Well, Kate, it's huge. I think it is immeasurable at the moment.

[11:55:00]

As you say, we haven't heard from the palace. We don't know whether they are going to respond. Every courtier that I have tried to call today has had their phones switched off.

The last time that happened, announcement from the couple to step down their senior roles. At that point, every member of the household was in a serious crisis meeting, which suggests the same as is probably happening now.

The fallout has been absolutely a mammoth. And I think we were all exempting revelations. I don't think any of us were expecting the revelations that came. I mean, it was bombshell after bombshell.

And I have watched it twice. I listened to the clips endlessly. Even when you play it back now, it is astonishing to hear the desperation that Meghan clearly felt, that she felt suicidal when she was pregnant with Archie, and astonishing that she went to the institution and wasn't helped.

There is a big issue for the palace to address here. But, of course, there is the race issue to address as well.

BOLDUAN: I want the play that, actually, because there is the other -- and there was a lot in it, but another just devastating part of this one. When they say that there were conversations in the palace with Harry about how dark Archie's skin would be at birth and the impact of that. It is uncomfortable to even say it out loud.

Here is when Oprah asked Harry about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRINCE HARRY, DUKE OF SUSSEX: That conversation, I am never going to share. But at the time -- at the time, it was awkward. I was a bit shocked.

OPRAH WINFREY, AMERICAN HOST: Can you tell us what the question was?

PRINCE HARRY: No, I'm not comfortable with sharing that.

WINFREY: Okay.

PRINCE HARRY: But that was -- that was right at the beginning, right?

WINFREY: Like, what will the baby look like?

PRINCE HARRY: Yes, what will the kids look like?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: He's not telling who, but Oprah told CBS this morning that Harry did want to make clear to her that it was not his grandmother, the queen, or his grandfather that were involved in these conversations. And on both of these points then, Katie, I mean, Meghan's cries for help and this, I just want to know what level of person in the palace could have been able to say this to Meghan and Harry?

NICHOLL: Well, we understand it to be a family member. And as he cleared (ph), it's not his grandfather or his grandmother, the queen. I mean, it has been so accommodating meeting their new great grandson, Archie, with (INAUDIBLE) on the background and a historic picture. And you just thought, this is progress, this is the monarchy modernizing. And that's all just being stamped on it in this statement.

It doesn't really matter that it wasn't the queen or the duke of Edinburgh. The fact that someone senior in the royal family has said it. The buck stops with the queen. She is the institution. She is the head of state. And any suggestion that she is presiding over a racist monarchy is incredibly damaging, indeed.

Now, I expect the palace will -- we don't know when but I think they will have to address these allegations. They are all so very serious.

BOLDUAN: Well, that's what I was going to ask you. I mean, we are really hour -- just for context for our viewers in America, we are just hours away from the British public being able to see this entire interview for themselves, really, because it is playing in a different way over there. Can the palace -- I mean, is there any view that the palace could remain silent and not respond to this?

NICHOLL: The queen's mantra has always been never complain, never explain, and it served her very well for the best part 70 years on the throne. She's about to celebrate her platinum jubilee. But I think on this one, I think the palace will feel that they have to respond.

And I also know from many of the aides that I speak to on a regular basis that they feel there are two sides to this story. And I must point out, there is a discrepancy, and I'm not taking away from what Harry and Meghan is saying, but there is a discrepancy. Harry said that the comment was made early on. I take that to mean early on in the relationship. Meghan says it happened when she was pregnant with Archie. So there does seem to be a discrepancy there.

I think the problem is that in many of the answers they have given, it leads to more questions. And without a doubt, they have opened a can of worms. The witch hunt is going to be on, isn't it, to name that royal. And if it turns out -- if it turns out to be Charles or William, then that's -- that's a big problem for the monarchy, given that they are both future kings.

BOLDUAN: Look, I mean, and you and I, I remember us talking about how this next generation of royals is just -- how they can really bring the monarchy into the 21st century with the next generation of children being born, and the weddings and everything, and you can see that the circumstances that Meghan and Harry are describing here is just the absolute opposite of that.

Katie, thank you. It is good to see you. And I will talk to you soon. I really appreciate it.

NICHOLL: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Now, if you know someone who needs help, this is always an opportunity.