Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Record Number of Migrant Children Held at U.S./Mexico Border; Biden Holds White House Event with Vaccine Makers Johnson & Johnson and Merck; Biden Says We Should Have Enough Vaccines for All Adults by End of May. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired March 10, 2021 - 15:30   ET

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


[15:30:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: An urgent message from White House border coordinator Roberta Jacobson just a short time ago. Do not come to the U.S.-Mexico border right now, just don't come. It's just one more indication that a surge of unaccompanied minor children is overwhelming an already stressed system.

CNN has learned that on average, thousands of migrant children alone are being held in Border Patrol custody for more than four days. That is a dramatic spike in the time spent in facilities. In the past three weeks Customs and Border Protection encountered and average of 435 unaccompanied children per day, that is up from a previous average of around 340 kids.

CNN's Rosa Flores joins me from Donna, Texas. And Rosa, Roberta Jacobson is still resisting calling what's happening on the border a crisis. Tell me what you've seen.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, I just talked to a federal source that is familiar with the operations going on right here on the ground and this person tells me that border authorities are encountering at least 1,000 migrants every single day. According to this source just last week in the span of eight hours about 500 migrants were encountered.

Now, these migrants are coming in large groups and they are being received under a bridge, and these migrants are waiting there for about an hour, hour and a half, and to expedite this situation what Border Patrol is doing they are beginning the processing of these migrants under that bridge, things like fingerprinting them, for example. They are encountering unaccompanied minors, families and also single adults.

Now, unaccompanied minors take priority, according to this source. They process those individuals first and then most of them are brought to the facility that you see behind me here in Donna, Texas. This facility is a temporary facility. It is new. It was set up to increase processing capacity because of what we're seeing right now.

Now, Brooke, I can tell you that this is one of the facilities that top aides visited from the White House, visited this past weekend.

[15:35:03]

That this is one of those facilities. Now we are not allowed inside the facility. I've requested access. My team and I are hoping to get access into this facility and others here on the ground at some point because that is why we're here. We're hoping to get our eyes on the situation, our cameras on the situation that's developing here along the southern border -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: I have no doubt that you and your team will secure that access and we'll talk again when you show us what truly is happening on the inside. Rosa Flores for now in Donna, Texas, thank you so much.

New details today on former President Trump's battle with the RNC when it comes to fundraising. Republican insiders are now fearing that Trump's demands will actually hurt their effort to retake the House and the Senate.

Plus, some Republicans are apparently growing tired of the antics from Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene. We'll talk about that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ALEX GORSKY, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, JOHNSON & JOHNSON: -- we really couldn't be more honored to be here celebrating this landmark collaboration today between Johnson & Johnson, Merck and the Biden administration to further accelerate production of our one-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

I want to give a big thanks to President Biden for having us here today and for his leadership effort to Johnson & Johnson's 135,000 employees and our global partners, for the really exceptional effort and expertise that have gone in to making sure that our COVID-19 vaccine reaches as many corners of the world as quickly as possible.

And also to my good friend Ken Frazier and to Merck for their partnership and for his personal friendship over the years. You know, our industry, it's realized in the early days of the pandemic, that vaccine development, it wasn't a race against each other as competitors. It's really a race against time to defeat a common enemy.

Today we're at war with COVID-19, and public/private partnerships like the historic one that we're celebrating today, well, they are a major reason that last week I was privileged enough to witness some of the very first residents in our home state of New Jersey receiving doses of our vaccines just 13 months, 13 months after we started the development process.

[15:40:00]

And when one of the residents of this senior apartment was asked how she felt after -- after she was given the shot, she looked at me and replied, safe. I couldn't be more proud.

In our new collaboration with Merck, it's going to allow us to even be more ambitious in our goals of keeping as many people around the world as safe as we possibly can with our effective one-dose vaccine.

So I'm proud, extremely proud to count Ken Frazier as an active partner as we bring our companies together in new ways on behalf of humanity. We share one common goal above all things, and that is advancing public health. So, please, join me in welcoming Ken Frazier.

KEN FRAZIER, CEO MERCK: Mr. President, I want to begin by thanking you for the steady, practical and resolute leadership you and your administration have provided. Putting people before politics and fostering an environment in which private sector, manufacturing and scientific capabilities can work in healthy partnership with government to create a force multiplier in a battle we simply must win.

I'm also pleased to be here alongside my friend and colleague Alex Gorsky to talk about our historic collaboration. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all areas of our global community. It has created profound challenges and hardships, especially for our most vulnerable and disadvantaged people and communities.

It has also shown a light on the resilience of our first responders, scientists, health care workers and those providing essential community services, the real heroes of this challenging moment.

At Merck we are proud to contribute to the global response to the pandemic. Through this collaboration with our colleagues at Johnson & Johnson and the Biden administration, we will work together to enable more timely delivery of much-needed medicines and vaccines for the pandemic.

Now, some observers may view this corporate partnership as the coming together of rivals, but in these extraordinary times we are colleagues, not competitors. The funding made available by the Biden administration will enable us to adapt our manufacturing facilities for the production of COVID-19 vaccines and medicines, including Johnson & Johnson's vaccine. With the support of the Biden administration and specifically the DPA, we will expedite the modification of our equipment.

Again, I want to thank President Biden, Alex Gorsky, and his colleagues at Johnson & Johnson for their remarkable scientific achievements and my colleagues within Merck for helping to facilitate this important partnership.

And now it is my distinct honor to introduce the man who has brought the full weight of the federal government to bear in fighting this virus, President Joe Biden.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to thank you both for those words. You know, you and I knew one another when I wasn't president, and you weren't a chairman. We ride back and forth on Amtrak, we lived in Philadelphia. I was commuting to Wilmington. It's good to see you both here. And thank both of you for your kind words.

Now I want to thank the scientists and researchers and Johnson & Johnson for the literal heroic effort that began when COVID-19 first spread and led to the safe and effective vaccines that are now being co-produced.

Today we're seeing two health companies, competitors, each with over 130 years of experience, coming together to help write a more hopeful chapter in our battle against COVID-19. I just had an opportunity to meet with both of these CEOs and with their senior operating officers.

[15:45:00]

And to hear about the work they are doing together to produce the vaccine, substitute and accelerate what they call to -- to take it to full finish. You know, what's clear is this is historic nearly unprecedented collaboration.

During World War II, one of the country's slogans was we are all in this together. We are all in this together. And the companies took that slogan to heart. For example, one automaker didn't have the capacity to build enough jeeps and a competitor stepped in to help. Competing airline-makers teamed up and they produced parts for each other and gave the American pilots as a consequence of that control of the skies.

Today we're seeing the same type of collaboration when it comes to getting this virus under control. I said we had to treat this like a war. So I want to thank the two companies for showing how we can come together and defeat this virus by putting patriotism and public health first, and I mean that literally, putting patriotism and public health first.

Your companies have been working closely with a man you both privately bragged about, Jeff Zients. Jeff is in the front row and I want to thank you, Jeff, and the entire COVID-19 team that you put together for the coordination of our COVID-19 response. And Dr. David Kessler and his team at the Department of Health and Human Services.

You now know, when I came into office we began working with the team of J&J to accelerate and add capacity to their manufacturing and production efforts, and it quickly became clear that Merck, one of the world's leading vaccine manufacturers, was in position to be the partner that we needed in this effort, in this wartime effort.

I've not hesitated to use my power under the Defense Production Act to expedite critical materials and vaccine production such as equipment, machinery and supplies, and it's not just Johnson & Johnson and Merck. Pfizer, Moderna also worked closely with us to help speed up the delivery of millions more doses.

The result is that we're now on track to have enough vaccine supply for every American adult by the end of May, months earlier than anyone expected. And today I'm directing Jeff and my HHS team to produce another 100 million doses and purchase another 100 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. I'm doing this because in this wartime effort we need maximum

flexibility. There's always a chance that we'll encounter unexpected challenges or we'll -- there will be a new need for a vaccine effort, a vaccination effort. A lot can happen. A lot can change, and we need to be prepared, and of course, we need to match the miracle of science and the skill of manufacturing with the massive logistical undertaking of vaccinating over 300 million Americans.

Already we've gone from Johnson & Johnson vaccine authorization to shots in the arm in three days. I was telling the gentleman we were at a facility yesterday, a veteran's outreach, and -- and there were -- there were three members of the veteran's community getting shots.

One was getting each of the three vaccines, and the guy in the middle, a veteran was getting his, and I was standing about as far away as I am from you and standing up, and he was sitting down, and as the nurse put it in his arm, he went J&J, just one.

Well, there's millions of people that are going to feel that way and be proud to have -- be in a position that they have the ability to get the kind of help they need.

Seven weeks ago only 8 percent of the seniors, those most vulnerable to COVID-19 received a vaccination. Today 60 percent of the people over the age of 65 or older have received at least one shot, and that's because this is the population that represents 80 percent of the COVID-19 deaths.

We've opened -- we've opened support and opened -- excuse me -- and supported more than 500 community vaccination sites. That's more than -- and then they are administering hundreds of thousands of shots a day, and for folks who aren't near a pharmacy or mass vaccination center, we're deploying mobile clinics like vans that go into places to meet the folks where they live.

We're also supplying vaccines to community health centers to reach those who have been hit the hardest and suffered the most, especially black, Latino, Native American in rural communities.

[15:50:00]

And this is important because we know we have more to do to ensure everyone is treated with equity, and those most impacted get the care they deserve.

On Saturday we hit a record of 2.9 million vaccinations in one day in America. And beyond the numbers are the stories. A father says he no longer fears for his daughter when she leaves to go to work at the hospital. That children are now able to hug their grandparents. The vaccines bring hope and healing in so many ways. Again a vaccinated American is the only way to beat the pandemic, get our economy back on track, and for us to get back our lives and our loved ones.

You know, that's why the American Rescue Plan was so critical. I want to thank Speaker Pelosi and the House of Representatives today for passing the bill. And I will be signing it into law shortly. This bill represents an historic, historic victory for the American people. I look forward to signing it later this week. Everything in the American Rescue Plan addresses a real need, including investments to fund our entire vaccination effort. More vaccines, more vaccinators, and more vaccination sites.

Millions more Americans will get tested, including home testing. Schools will soon have the funding and resources to reopen safely -- a national imperative. The American Rescue Plan, the partnership between Johnson & Johnson and Merck proves we can do big things, important things in this country.

Let me conclude with this. Tomorrow night I'm going on prime time to address the American people and talk about what we went through as a nation this past year.

But, more importantly, I'm going to talk about what comes next. I'm going to launch the next phase of the COVID response and explain what we will do as a government and what we will ask of the American people. There is light at the end of this dark tunnel in the past year.

But we cannot let our guard down now or assume that victory is inevitable. Together, we're going to get through this pandemic and usher in a healthier and more hopeful future so there is real reason for hope, folks. There's real reason for hope, I promise you.

May God bless you all. May God protect our troops, and may God ease the pain in the heart of so many who have lost so many people in this pandemic. Thank you and I really -- we're going to do this. We're going to get it done. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, what will they do with the surplus?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, when will you do a press conference?

BIDEN: The surplus, if we have a surplus, we're going to share it with the rest of the world. We've already decided we're going to work with the outfit COVAX, we've committed $4 billion to help get the funding for more vaccines around the world.

This is not something that can be stopped by a fence, no matter how high you build a fence or a wall. So we're not going to be ultimately safe until the world is safe. And so we are going to start off making sure Americans are taken care of first. But we're then going to ty to help the rest of the world. Thank you.

BALDWIN: OK, so what a huge day for this White House. You know, number one, we saw the full vote, his, you know, huge COVID Relief Bill passing. He's going to be signing that on Friday.

He had mentioned that prime time address that he will be having tomorrow night. Saying, you know, patriotism and public health come first. And listen, he knows that, you know, this White House and his legacy and his success hinges upon beating this virus. And having a successful, healthy, U.S. economy.

So let's talk about everything we just heard, starting with Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath. Because doc, you know, we were talking earlier about the vaccine supply -- which you know so much about, right -- and he's saying, we've heard him say this that we should have enough vaccine supply to have every American vaccinated by the end of May.

Then he's, you know, ordering up these extra 100 million doses of Johnson & Johnson and then if they have extra, you just heard him say, you know, that we're going to take care of us and that we're going to help, you know, share the wealth and pass around these vaccines if there's a surplus to the rest of the world. How do we get these vaccines in arms?

DR. MICHELLE MCMURRY-HEATH, CEO, BIOTECHNOLOGY Innovation Organization: Well, the COVID Relief bill that passed both houses earlier today is a huge step in the right direction. And this is a banner day.

Let's just soak this in for a minute. You know, two of our top member companies are there at the White House holding hands with the administration, figuring out how to partner together. And that's what we've seen throughout this COVID response. Our companies are working together to try to find ways to expedite getting solutions to patients. But the COVID Relief bill is going to have a huge impact.

[15:55:00]

Not only does it have things that we fought very hard for, including making sure that people in Medicaid and SCHIP, the Children's Health Insurance Program have, you know, free or no-cost access to not just COVID vaccines but also COVID therapeutics that -- drugs that might help them if they actually happen to get sick.

But then we also see billions of dollars put towards testing and tracing, almost $50 billion in this bill for that effort. And lots of additional funding for the CDC as well, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which will allow them to go out and set up more COVID vaccination sites. So all of this is steps in the right direction to get more shots in arms.

BALDWIN: Dana Bash, big day for President Joe Biden.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: No question. You know, if he were designing a day in his presidency when he was running for president, this would be the ultimate in terms of the top goal that he promised that he would achieve. Which is to end the pandemic and all of the things that are hurting society when it comes to health, when it comes to economic hardship and education and everything that comes with it. He would create today.

Maybe he wouldn't even be able to dream about today because of the combination of the things that have happened just in the span of hours. Obviously, the big bill that the doctor was just talking about, but also what we just saw was -- look, it was the kind of leadership that he promised to have. You know, this is what presidents do in war time.

They get and they harness the power of the private government -- excuse me, the private sector to work with government. And they convince competitors to work together for the public good. That's what we just saw here at the White House.

BALDWIN: He talked, Laura, about the prime time address. And he'll talk about what, you know, comes next. And we know according to Phil, our correspondent at the White House, that they plan to -- he and members of the administration plan to go out around the country and really sell this COVID Relief bill, this plan, this cash injection, the stimulus payments. What do you know about what they plan to do the next phase of this?

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "POLITICO": So we know that the president himself, first lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, as well as members of the cabinet are going to go out across the country and really explain, as Biden said, the next phase is explaining this bill and everything that's in it, from the stimulus checks to the vaccine distribution to other aspects that shore up the economy. What it does and make sure that the public understands that.

Because one thing this administration is learning from the last time Biden was part of a White House team when Obama was in office, was that when the 2009 stimulus package was passed, the Obama administration had announced and said that they didn't do as good of a job in terms of explaining what was in that bill to the public.

And so you're hearing President Biden saying today that he's going to make sure that all aspects of this bill and how it impacts everyone's life is -- that the public is aware of it and that they know exactly what it does.

BALDWIN: We're having this conversation earlier -- and Dana, this is back to you on just the enormous popularity of this COVID Relief bill among Americans across the country and how not a single Republican voted for it. Not only that you have Liz Cheney, Republican who went to say that this COVID Relief bill was a tragedy. A tragedy?

BASH: Look, I mean if you are a conservative, like Liz Cheney and others who, you know, have gotten, you know, on the wrong side of the Trump base, something that is as bread and butter as economic -- the economic issues that they claim are wrong-headed with this bill, first and foremost, just the big cost of it, then you're going to take every opportunity to say so. And that's what we heard from Liz Cheney.

And that's what we heard from other Republicans, including and especially those who, you know, are in trouble with their state parties back home and with the base back home and others, that this is something they're going to use to talk about maybe fiscal responsibility.

Having said that, you know, Nancy Pelosi said a version of this earlier today, and I remember Laura talking about the stimulus, how many times Republicans were out in their districts, even though they trashed the stimulus and sometimes they won their seats or did well based on the fact that they were critical of it, but then touting the benefits that came from it in their districts. And it's very likely that we're going to see similar dynamics this time.

BALDWIN: All right, I thank all of you ladies very much. We've got to go to Washington now. Thank you. Thank you. I'm Brooke Baldwin here in New York. To Washington we go. The Lead with Jake Tapper starts right now.

END