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CDC Guidance Offers New Freedoms to Vaccinated People; Brazil Reports Over 80,000 New COVID cases in One Day; Vaccinated Israelis Getting Green Passes, more freedoms; Malaya Yousafzai Announces Deal with Apple EV+. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired March 9, 2021 - 04:30   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Well, here in the United States the CDC has just issued new guidelines for people who are fully vaccinated. That applies to more than 30 million Americans right now. The CDC says fully vaccinated people can safely visit other vaccinated people indoors without masks or social distancing, and they can visit unvaccinated people from a single family who are at low risk for severe disease. Many grandparents, of course, are part of this growing group.


DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL: If grandparents have been vaccinated, they can visit their daughter and her family even if they have not been vaccinated so long as the daughter and her family are not at risk for severe disease.


CHURCH: But vaccinated Americans will still need to wear a mask in public or in many other settings with unvaccinated people and travel is still being discouraged for now at least.

So joining me to discuss all of this is Dr. Scott Miscovich, a family physician and national consultant for COVID-19 testing. Thank you, doctor, for talking with us and all that you do.

DR. SCOTT MISCOVICH, FAMILY PHYSICIAN: Hi, Rosemary. Good to see you.

CHURCH: You, too. So the CDC has issued these guidelines on what fully vaccinated Americans can and can't do. The guidance is tied to the vaccination rate, of course, so will change. But what's your response to these much-anticipated guidelines?

MISCOVICH: You know, there's mostly pros with a few cautions. And I think the pros are it does hopefully encourage Americans to go out and get vaccinate.

[04:35:00] Most of us agree that a one shot in the arm is just saving lives with the new J&J, and Pfizer and Moderna. So we're very pleased about that.

Now there are some looseness in the guideline. What is severe disease? Does the average American know what severe disease is, severe risk? So if you are slightly overweight and you're a smoker, and someone comes in, does that mean you're going to run and put on a mask? I think there's a lot of definitions that we need to clarify. But in general I'm very pleased with this and very pleased that there is now guidance especially with the grandparents who have been vaccinated to be able to reunite with families. That's the biggest thing we're hearing from the field. People want to give a hug to their family.

CHURCH: Do you worry though that some people will look at these guidelines and think they're too restrictive or perhaps lose hope when they say even when they're fully vaccinated, they can't travel or do other things that they had hoped they would be able to do. And what's discouraging is there's a lot of people not following any of these guidelines at all.

MISCOVICH: Exactly. I believe that the CDC should be talking about encouraging traveling. I think that, for example, in Hawaii, my home state, we are very much looking to put a travel passport for vaccinated individuals in play. So I disagree with that component. I believe that vaccinated individuals should begin to have some freedoms. So I hope that they can take a step further.

Now in defense of the CDC, we still are watching the science. We don't have the full science to know exactly what the risk is. One study showed that you still can be spreading it therefore masks are still going to be important. And let's talk about the other problem and that is what about the percentage of individuals who are at risk who are deciding that they're sitting on the fence and not getting vaccinated. Let's hope to get those people over.

CHURCH: Yes, very important, of course. And of course meantime, variants are spreading across the country. And Texas and Mississippi are ditching mask mandates, lifting COVID restrictions. Some people in Idaho even holding bizarre public mask burning events with their children. What do you think as a doctor when you see this happen? Particularly knowing that when these people get sick, they're going to rely on you and your medical colleagues to save their lives.

MISCOVICH: Oh, yes. When we see some of those images, whether it's the mask burning in Boise or the parties up in Boulder and the Miami spring break and spring breaks occurring everywhere across the country. Well those really do concern us, where people are throwing their masks down. And we know that they're not vaccinated, that large group.

So then you've, oh gosh, all of us are still worried. Like Texas is a perfect storm. They now have all five of the major variants have been identified in Houston. And now we have the governor dropping mask mandates? There is still significant risk in the United States, and we could see a spike in the spring, and we need to worry about the variants. And we know 20 percent or more of our samples in the United States are the U.K. variant. And then we have the T-1 variant in California, plus we have the South African variant even starting in the United States. So we still have to be careful.

CHURCH: And let's hope that most people do the smart thing, keep their mask on out in public and stay safe until they get vaccinated. Dr. Scott Miscovich, thank you so much for talking with us. Appreciate it.

MISCOVICH: Thank you, Rosemary.

CHURCH: And still to come, get a vaccine, get more freedoms. Details on the green passes Israel is offering to those who are fully vaccinated against COVID. We'll explain.



CHURCH: The COVID crisis in Brazil is worsening. It reported more than 80,000 new COVID cases in one day. The largest daily increase in two months. ICU's are being stretched across the country. Rio de Janeiro hospital system is close to collapse with ICU occupancy at 96 percent.

On Monday, President Jair Bolsonaro said he has the power to issue a national lockdown, but he will not do it.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is following this story for us from London. He joins us now live. So Nick, how bad is the situation in Brazil? And why is the president refusing to do anything that's going to help people?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The numbers, Rosemary, even at this very late stage in the global pandemic are quite chilling for Brazil. It was last week on Tuesday they reported their highest singular death toll of 1,910 lives lost in just 24 hours.

Remember, Brazil's numbers are not always the entire complete picture. And in the last 24 hours over the Sunday period, in fact they seemed to have recorded over 80,000 new cases. The largest single daily uptick in two months. Now that shows that the virus is again picking up intense pace.

We're seeing some measures, some local governors striding a sperate path away from the President Jair Bolsonaro. Certainly in Brasilia, they're putting in a curfew at nights. San Paolo putting in red emergency measures. But President Bolsonaro himself, despite the fact that many of the ICUs in his country are over at 90 percent occupancy. Essentially flashing a red warning light, saying any time soon we're going to have to start turning patients away. Horrifying scenes we've seen in Manaus, the Amazon city I visited last year, where they've had to put bodies in mass graves because of how bad it's got. Jair Bolsonaro even at this late stage, they're saying, I have the power to decree a lockdown in Brazil, but I won't do it.

All part of the broader issue that the disease is not something as serious as people are being told elsewhere in the world. He had it himself, remember. It was a relatively mild case. Even at this point he's saying he will wait to take the vaccine until the more needy get it first.

He went on to say, talking to agricultural workers, you didn't stay at home like cowards. We have to face our problems. Stop being sissies. Enough whining. How long are they going to keep on crying? We have to confront the problems. And he talks about how they need to look out for the elderly and those with acute conditions that could make them more vulnerable.

But startling comments though that feed into every population's desire not to do the difficult things like mask wear, adhere to lockdowns, socially distance. But possibly contributing enormously to this staggering example in Brazil of quite how bad it can get, if part of your government is telling you, you don't really have to worry that much about the virus -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: Yes, it is a tragic message. It does not end well for people.


Nick Paton Walsh joining us live from London. Many thanks.

Well Italy is now the sixth country to top 100,000 COVID deaths. The Prime Minister says there's also an uptick in new cases linked to COVID variants and that the strain, first identified in the U.K., has become prevalent in Italy. Meantime Italy has approved the AstraZeneca vaccine for those over 65 just as other European countries have done. Almost 5.5 million people across Italy have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine.

With Israel's vaccination program moving at lightning speed, the country is easing more restrictions and issuing so-called green passes giving those who have been vaccinated more freedoms.

Live now to Jerusalem and CNN's Sam Kiley. Good to see you, Sam. So you talked to some Israelis who are now using these green passes. How do they work exactly?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rosemary, the green passes are issued online to people who have had both shots predominantly here in Israel of the Pfizer vaccine. Yesterday the 5 million Israeli having had the vaccination, 40 percent of the population has now -- just over 40 percent has had both shots of this vaccination. Meaning that people are now being issued with these green passes that allow them to do things like go to pubs, restaurants, hotels. Hotels have opened, and the increasing number of people able to go back to university. And this is how it looked just as it was getting rolled out on Sunday.


KILEY (voice over): An hour before reopening, Israeli celebrity chef, Assaf Granit, is on site for the renaissance of the kitchen at the center of his restaurant empire. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's like a re-branding. It's like reopening all over again. Let's see it's going to -- I think lunch will be, slowly, picking up. And then they're already booked. So, it will be a long, and happy day.

KILEY: It is so surprising really that there's a party atmosphere here in Mahane Yehuda. It's perhaps the most famous restaurant in the city, famous for its high energy music, high energy food, high energy chef. But also, it's going to be working at 75 percent capacity. Patrons have to be 6 feet 2 meters apart that is going to be policed, and vigiated by extra member of staff. And this is all going to be a result of the introduction of the Israeli queen passport, the vaccinations certificates that means that slowly, at least, this economy could recover.

KILEY (voice-over): First in line, 30 minutes ahead of their booking, a couple from Tel Aviv, proud of their vaccine passes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have it on the phone, but here, you can see.


KILEY: Why are you so excited?


KILEY (voice-over): 40 percent of Israelis have had both vaccine shots, and can now enjoy new freedoms to attend concerts, hotels, restaurants, bars, even universities with some limits on total numbers. But the fears of another lockdown loom over even the most optimistic. Renewed restrictions would be ruinous.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (translated text): Let's hope they don't close us. They won't close us again.


KILEY (voice-over): About 5 million Israelis has have the first dose of the vaccine. A world leading level of take up. Even though ultra- orthodox Jews, and Israeli Arabs, are lagging behind. It's an achievement that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud Party will trumpet in a couple of weeks remaining before elections here.

KILEY: How does it feel to be opening?

ETHAN PADNOS, MANAGER HATCH BREWERY: A little scary and very exciting.

KILEY: Why is it scary?

PADNOS: First of all, opening up, getting customers again, it's been a year.

KILEY (voice-over): He's screening customers for vaccine certificates.

KILEY: And what if people don't have it?

PADNOS: Then they can sit outside.

KILEY (voice-over): Not a bad option. After all, spring is in the air.


KILEY (on camera): Now, Rosemary, of course, who is not getting much of access to vaccines, well that would be the Palestinian population on the West Bank and in Gaza. They have had a limited number of vaccines delivered through the COVAX program and from nations from elsewhere.

And Israel is now agreeing to vaccinate some 100,000, 120,000 Palestinian workers who work inside Israeli territory or in the settlements, the Jewish settlements on the West Bank. That have been light in self-interest perhaps there since they're going to be working alongside Israelis. But Israel has been criticized for its refusal to participate in a vaccination campaign and what the U.N. experts call the occupied territories -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right, our Sam Kiley bringing us the very latest on those green passes from Jerusalem, many thanks.

Well a longtime advocate for young women's empowerment is expanding her message. Coming up, a new TV deal for Malala Yousufzai. We'll have the details on the other side of the break.



CHURCH: More than 60 police officers and 19 civilians were injured after clashes at a women's day march in Mexico City. Ten people were taken to the hospital for treatment. Nearly 20,000 people were on the march protesting gender violence and promoting equal rights on International Women's Day.

Also on International Women's Day, a new deal was announced between Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousufzai and Apple TV to expand her message of female empowerment. Entertainment reporter Chloe Melas has the details.


CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER: Malala Yousufzai is teaming up with Apple TV to create what she says will be empowering content for the streaming platform. The multi-year deal in partnership with her production company Extracurricular, will include everything from documentaries, comedies, to children's programming.

MALALA YOUSUFZAI, ACTIVIST: I'm really excited about it because I had been -- you know, there's my own story and I have been telling that and I have helped so many girls. And I have, you know, I have been able to build a platform where they can tell a story.

[04:55:00] But now it's time to grow even more and to do even more into, you know, get this platform up, the story telling and bring in new perspectives.

MELAS (voice-over): The news of the deal came on International Women's Day and she told me her message for women everywhere.

YOUSUFZAI: On International Women's Day, you know, every year we highlight the issues women are facing to this day, from like harassment, or inequality to discrimination based on their gender, to an equal faith. All of these things are important, and we need to keep working on it.

But I also want to take this moment to remind all of those amazing and incredible women out there just to take a break. They have done so much and right now, you know, some of them are studying from home, some of them are looking after their kids and parenting and they also have jobs to do. It's just so much. There's so much on their shoulders. And they carry all of that with grace and with dignity. So be proud of yourself and be proud of all that you have done and achieved in your life. So, you know, let's celebrate. Let's be proud of who we are and what we have done for women and for everyone around us.

MELAS: Back to you.


CHURCH: Thanks for that.

Well reports of aggressive behavior at the White House have put two of its not former residents in the doghouse. The Biden's German Shepherds, Major and Champ, have been shipped back home to Delaware. A source says it happened after Major bit a White House security guard and showed other signs of aggression. Major and Champ were the first pets to live at the White House since the Obama administration. No word on whether they'll get to come back after some additional training. We'll keep an eye on that.

Well thanks for your company. I'm Rosemary Church. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @rosemaryCNN. "EARLY START" is up next. You're watching CNN. Have a great day.