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CDC: Fully Vaccinated People Should Still Avoid Travel; Jury Selection Underway in Derek Chauvin Trial; House Gears Up for Vote on Biden's $1.9 Trillion Relief Bill; Prince Charles Ducks Question About Meghan & Harry Interview. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired March 9, 2021 - 11:00   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. Thank you so much for joining me.

At this hour, we're monitoring several developing stories.

In Minneapolis, jury selection is under way in the murder trial of former police officer, Derek Chauvin, just one day after jurors of a potential jury pool was abruptly sent home. Chauvin is charged with second-degree and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd whose killing prompted weeks of a global reckoning on race and injustice.

We're also keep a close eye on Capitol Hill where the big question is not if the president's massive COVID relief bill will pass, but when it will pass. It is a monumental piece of legislation that is one of the largest rescue measures in the history of the country.

And also, the CDC is now facing pushback on what vaccinated Americans should or shouldn't do. You saw them announced that on the show yesterday. And now, the question is the CDC being overly cautious, particularly when it comes to air travel.

We're learning more also about what went into that decision by the CDC.

Joining me right now is CNN's Jeremy Diamond. He's at the White House with much more on this.

Jeremy, what are you learning?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, it appears that the CDC did consider the possibility of changing these travel restrictions, but ultimately decided not to do that. Two federal health officials telling my colleague Kaitlan Collins that the possibility of changing these travel recommendations was discussed but there was never really any real momentum behind the idea of changing those travel restrictions right now.

But "right now" really is the operative word here because these are interim guidelines by the CDC. And the CDC Director Rochelle Walensky made that very clear yesterday as she announced the new guidelines. We saw new guidelines here in terms of how individuals who have been vaccinated could interact with one another as well as with some family members in low risk settings, in terms of being able to start removing those masks.

But they did not change the guidelines in terms of recommending against travel for individuals including those individuals who have been vaccinated. That, of course, will result in quite a bit of pushback and some saying that the CDC is being overly cautious.

But again these are interim guidelines and it is very likely that you will see those guidelines loosened and changed over time, particularly as a larger share of the population is vaccinated and more critically as we learn more about how much individuals who are vaccinated can still potentially transmit the virus to others -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: That definitely seems to be a key part of it.

Great to see you, Jeremy. Thank you.

So the travel industry is not happy with what the CDC announced yesterday.

Let me bring in CNN's Pete Muntean. He's joining me now with what he's hearing from his sources.

Pete, what are you hearing from industry leaders?

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, the industry is really pushing back here because airlines have long thought that vaccines were the ticket in bringing people back to travel. What is so interesting here is the confusion about the CDC guidelines because the CDC has said fully vaccinated people should still not travel even though it says in the same breath that they could meet with other fully vaccinated people face-to-face and unvaccinated people so long as they are low risk.

Airlines insist that flying is safe regardless, and 27 travel groups just sent a letter to the White House to say that vaccinations should not ultimately become a requirement for domestic or international travel and that the White House should work with the industry to come up with a digital health passport to show a passenger's record of coronavirus tests and vaccinations.

All of this comes during a big time for air travel levels. The last five days have been the busiest five-day period for air travel since the holidays, 1.1 million people flu yesterday. That means about 5.6 million people have flown in five days and this is led health experts to really worry with spring break trips on the horizon, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Yeah, that's really interesting. Thanks, Pete. Appreciate it.

Joining me right now for more on this is Dr. Craig Spencer. He's director of global health in ER Medicine, at Columbia University Medical Center.

It's good to see you again, Doctor.


BOLDUAN: I'm curious as to what you think about the CDC. Right now, still discouraging travel for even fully vaccinated people. Do you think that it is safe for fully vaccinated people to travel? What do you think?

SPENCER: That is a great question.

First, I want to start by saying that I'm happy that the CDC came out with this guidance. We know it mixes the science with the reality. People who have been vaccinated, may know the vaccines are greet, are meeting, are hugging, are doing things that so many of us have wanted for such a long time.

I understand why the CDC is being cautious here. It's great that we have had a vaccine rollout that has sped up a lot. But think about this, it is less than two months and anyone has been actually fully vaccinated and right now, less than 10 percent of Americans are vaccinated, meaning at least two weeks after the Johnson & Johnson single dose or two weeks after the second dose of Moderna and Pfizer.

That means if you're on a plane or really anywhere else, the overwhelming majority of people still won't be vaccinated or be protected.


That's important because right now, we have around 60,000 cases per day and even though it's not as bad as it was just two months ago, there are still 2,000 people dying per day and there are still concern that we could have more cases in the coming weeks, especially with an increase in travel, concern about variants that are spreading, and no guarantee that just because we're ramping up our vaccine at record levels nearly every day, that we're completely out of the woods. I expect that in the coming weeks and coming months, w will likely have some change in the CDC guidance, but I understand and recognize why they're trying to go a little bit slower here especially with a lot of travel around the corner.

BOLDUAN: Yeah. So when you hear other health experts say they believe this was overly cautious, they could have gone -- they could have gone further in this initial kind of announcement, you think not so?

SPENCER: I think that it was great that they came out with this guidance. This is real welcome. Look, I know we all want to travel. I travel many times a year, internationally, I want to see my family.

I'm vaccinated now, would I feel comfortable on the plane? I would, but wife isn't vaccinated and I have two kids. And so, these are different questions and different issues. You know, we can't assume that everyone on the plane is going to wear a mask the whole time, that there was not going to be someone in there that it isn't sick, and again we don't know what the actual ability to vaccines to prevent transmission themselves for vaccinated people is.

We suspect that it's significant, but we don't know that right now, and I think it's a lot harder for the CDC to walk back guidance --


BOLDUAN: I think that's the key, Doctor. I think what you're seeing is the key. We've seen with restrictions, it's really hard to walk things back even when you continue to say that the science is evolving and we're learning more and we'll adjust guidance as we learn more, it's hard to change and pivot because the public, they want to get -- they want to get their set of rules and they want to move on with their lives. So, I think that it's a really great point.


SPENCER: And the reality is that in a couple of months, you know, the overwhelming majority of people that have access to a vaccine and we will have a significant portion of the community that is vaccinated and this will be much less of an issue. It wouldn't be a topic of discussion for many communities and for much of the travel that people want to do over the summer.

BOLDUAN: You know, CNN is reporting, has an analysis out today. This is about 60 percent of Americans who are 65 and older. They received at least one dose of a vaccine and the country is -- the head of the country largest nursing home organization that I spoke with last week said something really amazing, that they are seeing zero new cases of COVID in their facilities right now.

Listen to this.


MARK PARKINSON, CEO, AMERICAN HEALTH CARE ASSOCIATION: It is absolutely astonishing. We all thought that the vaccine would reduce cases. I don't think any of us thought that we would have zero cases, but that's the case in almost all the nursing homes and assisted living facilities across the country. It's amazing and fantastic.


BOLDUAN: It is amazing and fantastic. And it started -- it has me kind of thinking, do you think there could now be a focus shift to younger populations, because as we know they get less sick generally speaking but are transmitting the virus.

SPENCER: Yeah. I think it is important to recognize that for all of the criticism that this vaccine rollout has had in the U.S., look at what we're doing right now and look at who was prioritized early on. We're reaping the benefits of starting to vaccinate in long-term care facilities and health care workers at the December -- at the end of December and you're seeing such a small number of cases and deaths in communities that made up 35 percent to 40 percent of the deaths prior to the vaccine. This is fantastic. This is great. I'm glad that we have broad coverage

for older groups, 75 and 65 and above and those with chronic conditions.

What we're going to find is that in the next month or two, we're probably going to have more vaccine than we even know what to do with, right? It's not 100 percent certain that every single person is going to want to be vaccinated.

So we're going to going to switch from some areas which we're already seeing already having excess demand versus supply to probably having more supply than demand. So, yeah, I think it is going to be really important to get this pandemic under control so people could fly and do all of the things we want to do over the summer to start focusing more on those groups, especially as more vaccine rolls out in the coming weeks and months.

BOLDUAN: It's really wonderful to hear your optimism and to see a smile just starting to creep up on your face about what it looks like on the horizon.

It's good to see you, Dr. Spencer. Thank you.

SPENCER: Thanks for having me.

BOLDUAN: I want to go now to Minneapolis where jury selection is underway in the trial of former Police Officer Derek Chauvin. He's accused of killing George Floyd last May.

It was all -- this trial was also supposed to really ramp up and begin yesterday but was abruptly delayed over continued questions about an a additional charge potentially against Chauvin.

Let's go to CNN's Omar Jimenez. What's happening there so far today?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. Kate, well for starters, jury selection is underway. It was expecting to be able to say these words yesterday at this point. But 24 hours later after that day-long delay, here we are.


Now, Derek Chauvin is in court. He filed in early this morning. Even an hour before jury selection began because he and his attorneys and the prosecutors were working out this pretrial motion with the judge before the jury was actually called in. So everyone is seated in there, masks up as they begin to question some of the jurors.

Now to remind you what he's been charged with. He's facing second- degree unintentional murder charges. He's facing second-degree manslaughter charges. The third-degree murder charge is what is so much in question right now. It was initially filed in the criminal complaint last year and it was dropped by the judge in October.

Then the -- an appeals report ruled that the district court should reconsider re-adding this charge and just a few moments ago we learned or a few hours ago at this point we learned that the attorneys for Chauvin filed a petition with the state Supreme Court over whether the district court will have jurisdiction to potentially bring this charge back in.

So while all of that is happening, prosecutors did not want to proceed with the jury selection process until that was resolved and that was why we saw the delay but the judge in this case said we are going to continue while we wait for that appeal and no word from that appeals court yet, Kate.

BOLDUAN: All right. Omar, thank you so much. Appreciate the update.

Coming up for us, it was -- it will be one of the largest and most consequential bills to be passed by Congress in a very long time. Congress is getting ready to vote on the COVID relief bill. When families could expect to start seeing some of this aid, that's next.

Plus, Prince Charles is asked about the huge criticism leveled by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in their interview with Oprah. The prince's response is ahead.



BOLDUAN: As Congress is set to give approval to President Biden's massive COVID relief bill, it is truly striking how much has gone into fighting this pandemic in the last year. When this $1.9 trillion package does become law, that will be something like $6 trillion that the federal government has thrown at this crisis and that is in one year. It is amazing.

The money is urgently needed by millions of Americans. We know that. We've seen that across the country. It's really hard to overstate how monumental this piece of legislation is.

A lot of focus up to this point has been what's not in the bill or what's been taken out. But let's focus now on what is in the there and what it means.

Joining me right now is CNN chief congressional correspondent Manu Raju and CNN's chief business correspondent Christine Romans.

Manu, what is happening with the bill in terms of timing and in terms of support right now?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we do expect it to pass. Now it is expected to pass tomorrow morning. The House Democratic leadership is setting the stage for a vote tomorrow. This came after the House had been waiting since Saturday to get formally get the paperwork from the Senate over to the house in the aftermath of the party line vote in the Senate by 50/49 to advance that $1.9 trillion package.

So they'll begin some of the procedural steps today in the final passage vote tomorrow. The Democrats are still confident that they do, in fact, have the votes to pass this bill. They have a very narrow majority in the House. They can't afford to lose more than four Democratic votes assuming all members show up and that the expectation is they probably wouldn't lose more than two.

There are not concerns that the progressives may revolt in any way because of changes to the bill in the Senate, namely the removal of the $15 minimum wage. There is support among the progressive members of the caucus and there's not an expectation that more moderate members maybe balk at the price tag. Only a couple voted against it last time.

But we do expect Republicans to vote in opposition in lockstep against this plan, concerns that they have about the size and the scope of this sweeping proposal and it's you mentioned it, Kate, such a dramatic amount of money being spent to throw at this crisis, everything from money for schools to vaccines to direct payments to individuals and extending the jobless benefits set to expire in a matter of days. A lot riding on the vote expected tomorrow and then soon head to Joe Biden's desk where he'll sign it into law, Kate.

BOLDUAN: And as Manu digs up, let's dig into this bill. "The New York Times" is right about it. It has the makings of a policy revolution especially when it comes to families. What can people expect from this?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: You know, it's historic and families can expect thousands and thousands of dollars. That's the difference here, and this is legislation that is geared toward low wage workers. So you're going to see under the guise of COVID relief or under the umbrella of COVID relief you're going to see an attack on income equality and child poverty.

Let me show exactly what this means there. The Tax Policy Center estimates that low income households with kids, their benefit is something like $7,700 this year. That's a 35 percent increase in after tax income. If you do back of the envelope tax credit here, when you look between the stimulus checks and the child tax credit, that is a huge benefit here.

Two parents, two kids, you add together all four of them, the child tax credits, that is $11,600 in a benefit. A single mom with one kid, you're talking about a couple of stimulus checks there and the child tax credit that will be paid out monthly, that's the goal here, that is what the legislation said, that is $5,800 for a single participant earning less than $75,000 a year, and that's not counting more generous earned income tax provisions in here.

So there are a lot of different ways that working families are going to feel this.


You look at that Tax Policy Center analysis and it shows that the last big tax reform, that was really geared toward middle class a little bit and then wealthier Americans and then companies. This is almost all, 70 percent of the benefits of this law are going to low income working Americans.

BOLDUAN: Yeah, really, it's heading to the White House and that is going to be happening very quickly.


BOLDUAN: Thank you both. Really appreciate it, guys.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, a royal crisis for the first time, Prince Charles faces the allegations coming from his son, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in their interview with Oprah.



BOLDUAN: This morning in London, Prince Charles made his first appearance in public since son Prince Harry and Meghan Markle leveled charges of racism and neglect from the royal family during their interview with Oprah. A reporter asked Prince Charles for his reaction to that interview. Watch.


REPORTER: Sir, could I ask what you did you think of the interview?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much.


BOLDUAN: Very clearly, his answer was no answer, at least not yet.

But CNN's Max Foster reports that the British monarchy has been rocked by this interview.


MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This morning, the royal family in crisis. That's according to the British tabloids, with headlines like "So sad it has come to this," "Worst royal crisis in 85 years," and "Palace in turmoil over Meghan's racism claims."

OPRAH WINFREY, TV HOST: Did you leave the country because of racism?

PRINCE HARRY, DUKE OF SUSSEX: It was a large part of it.

FOSTER: The duchess of Sussex's estranged father, Thomas Markle, dismissing his daughter's allegations of racism, saying in a television interview this morning he does not think the royal family is racist.

THOMAS MARKLE, MEGHAN MARKLE'S FATHER: I think don't the British royal family are racist at all. I don't think the British are racist. FOSTER: As the fallout continues, after Prince Harry and Meghan,

duchess of Sussex, leveled bombshell accusations against two of the Britain's most recognized institutions, the royal family and the press.

A deluge of stories focused on Meghan revealing she's had thoughts of suicide and the allegations of dysfunction and racism in the palace.

MEGHAN MARKLE, DUCHESS OF SUSSEX: I just didn't want to be alive any more. And that was a very clear and real and frightening constant thought.

FOSTER: One paper calls the interview self serving, another nicknamed the couple's rift with the royal family Megxile. While American outlets appeared somewhat sympathetic, some U.K. tabloids seem to be venting their anger.

And on television, reactions range from shock to dismay.

PIERS MORGAN, TV HOST: This is a two hour trash-a-thon of our royal family, of the monarchy.

FOSTER: Many rushing to the couple's defense, calling out the U.K. tabloids, including Hillary Clinton.

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: The fact they did not get more support, that the reaction was, you know, let's just paper it over and pretend that it didn't happen or it will go away, just keep your head down. Well, you know, this young woman was not about to keep her head down.

FOSTER: The U.S. largely more empathetic, with even a show of support from the White House.

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: For anyone to come forward and speak about their own struggles (AUDIO GAP), that takes courage and that's certainly something the president believes.

FOSTER: But the insidious undercurrent of racism, perhaps the most damning claim and the most explosive interview to rock the royal family since his mother's interview with Martin Bashir.

PRINCE HARRY: What I was seeing was history repeating itself, or perhaps more definitely far more dangerous because you add in race in.

FOSTER: One of the most jaw-dropping accounts in the raw, emotional interview with Oprah Winfrey, that unnamed members of royal family were worried about the skin color of Harry and Meghan's son. The couple say they if they felt they had the family support, they would have gladly stayed. The very tabloids that Harry and Meghan say drove their mental health to the brink, swift to get the splashy headlines.

"The Daily Mail": Harry twists the knife" and "What have they done".

(END VIDEOTAPE) FOSTER (on camera): Meanwhile on TV, more than 12 million people tuned in to watch the interview last night on British television, that is half of the audience, at that time, everyone is watching it, everyone is talking about it, everyone has got an opinion.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. And that kind of leads me to wonder more than I did yesterday, Max, how long could the palace go without responding to this?

FOSTER: Well, we're beginning to wonder, actually. The palace did communicate in mysterious ways. It's not old always in the form of statements. So the fact that we saw Prince Charles out today on an engagement which is in the diary carrying on, business as usual effectively, not taking a question on this massive interview that everyone is talking about. It does make you wonder whether or not they're going to come out it a statement.

I think inevitably, they'll have to say something. But what I hear from the palace, they don't want to be rushed. They're rising above this.

They don't want to respond probably to Harry and Meghan. But particularly, they don't want to respond.