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Meghan Markle Speaks Out; CDC Issues Guidelines For Vaccinated; COVID Relief Bill Heads to House. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired March 8, 2021 - 15:00   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Hi there. You are watching CNN on this Monday. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being here.

We begin today with a struggling American economy just steps away finally from seeing those stimulus checks in your bank accounts. After a high drama weekend of negotiations, President Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill heads back to the House Wednesday for a final vote.

So, will President Biden's sign it into law this week? Let's talk about that.

Also, the CDC just released really encouraging long-awaited guidelines for what Americans can and cannot do after they have been vaccinated. Here's just some perspective for you. Nearly 60 million Americans have received at least one dose and more than 30 million are now fully vaccinated.

But that is only 9.4 percent of the entire population, so obviously miles to go until we reach herd immunity.

Also, potential fallout today from Oprah Winfrey's interview with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the couple accusing the royal family of blatant racism, lack of support, and yanking their security protection.

Meghan there even revealing that there were conversations and concerns about baby Archie's skin color, she says, before he was born. More on the pressure Buckingham Palace is now facing.

But, first, let's get an update on those stimulus checks.

CNN's Jessica Dean is live on Capitol Hill.

And, Jessica, we were expecting the House vote tomorrow. It's been delayed day. Do you know why?


So, right now, Brooke, our explanation from one senior Democratic aide is simply this is a giant bill and it needs some time to process its way through the system. They're working on getting all that paperwork back over to the House. It then needs to go through the Rules Committee, and then the full House can vote on it.

So, not an unexpected development. But it certainly does delay it by a day for that full vote to now take place likely on Wednesday. Now, remember, the deadline they're up against is March 14. That's when unemployment benefits run out. That's when they wanted to get it to President Biden's desk. And they certainly do anticipate getting it to his desk far before that March 14 deadline.

So, what's in this $1.9 trillion bill? It is massive. It touches a lot of sectors of the economy. Of course, you talked about those $1,400 stimulus checks. That's certainly in there. It extends unemployment benefits $300 a week through September. There's money for vaccinations. There's money for reopening schools. There's an expanded tax credit for children.

And that's a big piece of this. It's $3,600 for the year for a child up to the age of 6, $3,000 for children over the age of 6 to 18. And the thing that is different about this is that parents can elect to get that money in monthly installments.

So, here's Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on this bill earlier today. Take a listen.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Well, the one thing I regret the most is, I for $15 minimum wage, and we didn't get the votes for that. But we're going to keep fighting for it.

Otherwise, most of the changes were not that large. The basic bill goes through.


DEAN: And that is true. Most of everything that the House voted on before is still in this bill, with the big exception of the $15 minimum wage.

That was removed because the Senate parliamentarian ruled it could not be in there under the process by which they are voting on this bill called reconciliation. They also tightened the eligibility for who's getting those $1,400 checks, and then also trimmed the federal boost to those unemployment benefits. But

generally, Brooke, the broad sweeps of this are included in that. And, again, we're expecting the full House to vote on that on Wednesday.

BALDWIN: Hugely popular bill, given everything that's in it and really an injection for Americans. Not a single Republican voted for this. We will talk about that a little later, why that is.

Jessica Dean, thank you on the Hill for me. And now to the news really that you all have been waiting for, what

you are allowed to do if you have been fully vaccinated. We have just got the news. We have got these guidelines in from the CDC, long- awaited safety guidelines.

And so they're saying people who have gotten both shots -- or, in the case of Johnson & Johnson vaccine, that's the single shot -- two weeks later, you can spend time with friends and family who have also been fully vaccinated.

Health officials hope this news will convince more people to get out and get protected, because it comes as the decline in new cases in the U.S. are beginning to plateau. And that worries Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Meantime, President Joe Biden will mark the one-year anniversary of the pandemic shut down in his very first prime-time address. That happens this Thursday.

Erica Hill is our CNN anchor and national correspondent. And she has more on today's new vaccine guidelines.


ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): More shots in arms, more hope on the horizon.


DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: We are starting to turn a corner.

HILL: The CDC finally offering some long-awaited guidance today for the more than 30 million people in the U.S. who are now fully vaccinated, including visits with other fully vaccinated folks, no mask or distance required, visits with unvaccinated low-risk individuals from a single household also OK, also no mask or distance required, plus no need to quarantine or test after known exposure to someone who tested positive, but is asymptomatic.

WALENSKY: The science of COVID-19 is complex, and our understanding of the virus continues to rapidly evolve. The recommendations issued today are just a first step.

HILL: Travel still discouraged. Masks and physical distance still recommended in public even if you're fully vaccinated.

DR. JORGE RODRIGUEZ, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: You have to keep an open mind. And we have to realize that, right now, the floodgates are not open and we have to come out cautiously, cautiously.

HILL: While the pace of vaccinations is improving, the U.S. now averaging more than two million shots a day, equity remains an issue.

DR. MEGAN RANNEY, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: The data continues to show that black and brown Americans are being vaccinated at like half the rate of white Americans. That's just not acceptable. DR. MARCELLA NUNEZ-SMITH, CHAIR, COVID-19 HEALTH EQUITY TASK FORCE:

Achieving equity is not an aspirational goal. This is mission- critical. Absent equity, we will not be able to stop this pandemic from continuing to claim lives, strain our health care system and weaken our economy.

HILL: Key virus metrics continue their decline, hospitalizations cut in half over the last month, deaths also dropping, average new cases now at levels not seen since October, but:

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIAID DIRECTOR: Plateauing at a level of 60,000 to 70,000 new cases per day is not an acceptable level. That is really very high.

HILL: Plus, fast-spreading variants on the rise. And yet more states are easing restrictions, many dropping mask mandates, despite the science.

GOV. TATE REEVES (R-MS): We have to get our economy rolling, so that individuals can get back to work. I actually trust Mississippians to make good decisions.

HILL: Masks not mandated in Idaho, but even the recommendation of face coverings too much for some, who felt the need to burn masks at a rally over the weekend.

GOV. BRAD LITTLE (R-ID): It's not helpful for people to be burning mass. We want people to choose to make the right decision to wear a mask.

HILL: Masks and vaccines, the keys to ending the pandemic for everyone.


HILL: And on those two fronts, Brooke, we are learning eligibility increasing, expanding in a number of states, Ohio about to expand eligibility.

But we also learned today that Wyoming is another state that's going to be getting rid of the mask mandates in that state, the mask requirements, the governor saying they're going to stay in place for K-12 schools, but he's really hoping that people will exercise their personal responsibility, make smart decisions.

But, again, masks won't be required. In some ways, Brooke, I have to say, after a year, I'm feeling a bit like a broken record today.


BALDWIN: Yes. We all are. We all are. But it's important to repeat it over and over.

Erica Hill, thank you so much. We all are on the same team. We want normalcy at the end of this whole thing. Let's talk about this with Dr. Leana Wen. She's a CNN medical analyst

and emergency room physician at G.W. University and the former Baltimore health commissioner.

So, Dr. Wen, good to see you.

Simple question. Can you just explain -- if we're talking about these vaccines, explain to me by people who have been fully vaccinated can't just walk around like normal?

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Well, here's what we know about these vaccines, all three of these vaccines that have been authorized so far. They are safe, they are extremely effective, especially at preventing severe disease, preventing hospitalization and death, which is wonderful for protecting the individual.

And there is now growing evidence that getting the vaccines also reduces your likelihood of being a carrier. We don't know exactly how much this reduces that risk, but it's probably substantially lower. And that means maybe, in theory, you could be asymptomatic yourself, but could infect others, but that chance is still much lower.

And so that's actually why I wish that the CDC guidelines went a lot further than they actually did.

BALDWIN: Wow. Wow.

Well, what about -- I know that, on the point of travel, because everyone's thinking -- I'm putting myself in that category -- all right, whenever I get vaccinated, that means I can finally really feel safe jumping on a plane and going to see certain family members.

The airline industry today is really pushing back against these new CDC guidelines that fully vaccinated people should actually still avoid travel. Why is the CDC encouraging people who have been fully vaccinated not to travel?

WEN: So, this is one of these examples where I think the CDC is being far overly cautious in a way that defies common sense, because look at what they're saying about quarantine.

So they're saying that, if somebody knowingly is exposed to an individual with COVID-19, and they're fully vaccinated, they don't need to test or get quarantined.


If you're sitting on a plane, you're not necessarily sitting next to people with COVID-19. You're wearing a mask.


WEN: Ideally, you're keeping distanced.

And so it just doesn't make sense that you can't travel, especially if you now can get together with loved ones. I think a lot of people are eager to see their grandkids who they don't necessarily live with. And so I think it's really important to give the guidance about travel.

And I actually would go further and say that people who are fully vaccinated should be able to travel, should be encouraged to travel. And that's one of those incentives that we can give as a way for restoring freedoms, that you are now able to travel and go visit your loved ones and go to museums and cultural institutions once you're fully vaccinated.

BALDWIN: And put money back in the economy, because, goodness knows, these businesses need it right now.

Dr. Leana Wen, thank you very much. Good to see you.

We have to talk today about these allegations of racism, thoughts of suicide and really a royal family extremely divided, this explosive interview from Prince Harry and Meghan Markle that turned out to be even more revealing than advertised, we will talk about it.

And New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is still refusing to step down after more of his Democratic colleagues are urging it is time to go and more women are coming forward alleging inappropriate behavior.

Also ahead, another potential wrench in Republican hopes to win back the U.S. Senate. Incumbent Missouri Senator Roy Blunt announces he will not seek reelection.

So much to talk about. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

We will be right back.



BALDWIN: Did you watch?

One of the most anticipated interviews from the royal family in years. Meghan, the duchess of Sussex, and Prince Harry sat down with Oprah Winfrey to talk about their lives as British royals. And in this one stunning moment, Meghan revealed that there were conversations within the royal family about her than not-yet-born baby's skin tone.


MEGHAN MARKLE, DUCHESS OF SUSSEX: In those months when I was pregnant, all around this same time, so we have, in tandem, the conversation of, he won't be given security, he's not going to be given a title, and also concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he's born.

OPRAH WINFREY, PRODUCER/PHILANTHROPIST: What? There's a conversation with you?

MARKLE: With Harry.

WINFREY: About how dark your baby is going to be? MARKLE: Potentially, and what that would mean or look like.


BALDWIN: Life within the gilded royal confines apparently got so bad, according to Meghan, that she says that, when she was pregnant, she contemplated suicide.


MARKLE: 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 and 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 the institution.


BALDWIN: There is so much here.

Let's start with our CNN royal correspondent, Max Foster, there in Windsor, England.

And, Max, you have covered the royal family for years. Is there any reaction yet from the royal family, from the palace to this interview?


Of course, they watched it. Of course, they're discussing it. I have spoken to some, but they're not commenting yet. What do we read into that? Well, I don't think it's going to be a no comment. Some of these allegations are so severe, they really do have to answer them.

So, we can only assume that either they're giving this interview some space to breathe -- it hasn't been broadcast in the U.K. yet -- or that they are formulating some sort of response.

The two clear sound bites I think that you just played there, really, the racism allegation, effectively, the institution being accused of racism, we don't know who those conversations were with in the royal family. We do know who it wasn't, because Oprah's confirmed it wasn't Prince Philip or the queen -- does make the likely candidate so the conversation a lot smaller group.

Who is that? How are they going to respond to that? But, also, that duty of care that they clearly failed in with Meghan, a vulnerable woman in a vulnerable mental state asking for help. She didn't receive it. It wasn't so much rebuffed. They just said they couldn't help her. That sounds extraordinary, feels extraordinary.

And they're going to have to answer those questions. And they are just two of the talking points in this epic interview which covered so much.

BALDWIN: You say it hasn't been broadcast in the U.K. yet. It will be. You and I will have a conversation about that and the fallout tomorrow.

Max Foster, for now, after 8:00 at night there in Windsor, thank you, sir.

In this interview, Meghan also talked about the British tabloids and how toxic she feels that they are. She said a turning point was when the tabloids went wild with a claim that she had made her sister-in- law Kate, Prince William's wife, cry in the run-up to her wedding with Prince Harry.



MARKLE: A few days before the wedding, she was upset about something pertaining -- yes, to the issue was correct about flower girl dresses. And it made me cry.

I don't think it's fair to her to get into the details of that, because she apologized.


MARKLE: And I forgiven her, right? What was hard to get over was being blamed for something that not only I didn't do, but that happened to me, and the people who were part of our wedding going to our coms team and saying, I know this didn't happen. I don't have to tell them what actually happened.


MARKLE: But I can at least go on the record and say she didn't make her cry. And they were all told us to stay--

WINFREY: So, all the time this story's out that you had made Kate cry, you knew all along and people around you knew that that wasn't true.

MARKLE: Everyone in the institution knew it wasn't true.

WINFREY: So why didn't somebody just say that?

MARKLE: It's a good question.


BALDWIN: Let's start on this point with Leslie Carroll. She is the author of "American Princess: The Love Story of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry."

Leslie, what she's detailing there, this is just one of the examples of just the vastly different ways that Meghan and Kate are treated by the media. Why?

LESLIE CARROLL, AUTHOR, "AMERICAN PRINCESS: THE LOVE STORY OF MEGHAN MARKLE AND PRINCE HARRY": Well, first of all, thank you for having me, Brooke, and happy International Women's Day.

BALDWIN: Thank you. Same to you.

CARROLL: You're welcome.

Now here we are talking about two strong, very different women who are the youngest and newest members of the royal family, which is the longest-running soap opera in British history, nearly 1,000 years. And the chroniclers of this soap opera are the British tabloids.

And, as Meghan said in some of the outtakes of this interview that didn't make it to air, the tabloids don't report events, they create them, they don't report the news, they create it.

And in a soap opera, you have heroes and villains, and they really created a zero sum game. And as Meghan said last night, you don't have to -- if you love me, you don't have to hate her, meaning Kate, and if you love her, you don't have to hate me.

And what the tabloids have done since Meghan really entered the royal family, as -- making history as the first American bride of mixed race -- and the royal family has a very ugly history with colonialism -- is, they created a villainous, a long-running story with a deluge of--

BALDWIN: Well, Oprah points that out. Leslie, if I can just jump in, Oprah points out in the interview just the way that British tabloids treat Meghan, it is so different than the way you look at the tabloids and the papers here in America, especially as they're receiving this interview.

I mean, the headlines in the British tabloids today are already calling Meghan a liar. And you have Piers Morgan. He's obviously not one to hold back -- he's not -- what he thought of the interview. Watch.


PIERS MORGAN, TALK SHOW HOST: I didn't like it. I thought it was two hours of disingenuous, horrible, one-sided, self-serving, delusional claptrap.

I think it was the acting performance of her life. It was designed to portray her the ultimate victim.


BALDWIN: Why, Leslie, do you think there is such a difference between the way the U.K. and the U.S. covers her?

CARROLL: All you need to know -- well, again, we go back to Britain's history of colonialism and racism and the fact that Meghan is painted as the outsider and the interloper, and they need to create a villainous for this ongoing soap opera because she's different and other.

And if you listen to people of color in the U.K., their response to this postmortem is very different from white people in Britain. And I -- again, I have been reading all of this and listening to the responses in the U.K. vs. the U.S.

And all it does is reinforce why the Sussexes needed to leave, and why -- how -- you could understand how intolerable and, as Meghan said, unsurvivable her position became, because when you look at that deluge of constant negative press, which relies on how Meghan said -- the coms team said, they promised that they protect me, and they didn't.

Especially with incidences that she says the institution knew were wrong, and they did nothing to protect her and nothing to rebut those lies.

BALDWIN: Yes, there's so much more to this. And, obviously, there's some nuance here. But I'm going to be talking to a good friend of Prince Harry's in just a little bit to just -- I'm curious how much of this he knew vs. he didn't and his thoughts on precisely what we're talking about.

Leslie Carroll, thank you so much for your perspective.

And we played the clip a moment ago of Meghan. During the interview with Oprah, Meghan details her struggles with mental health.


So, just I want to sit here and note this. If you are watching, if you or someone you know is in need of health, there are resources. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255 you see there on the bottom of the screen.

We will come back to this in just a minute, but, first, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is not budging. Even as members of his own party say he should resign, Cuomo says no way.

And New York City public high schools are getting ready to reopen their doors for in person learning. We have more on that just ahead.