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Stimulus Payments out to Americans This Weekend; U.S. Officials Concerned Travel Could Cause Spikes; Italy Announces New Restrictions, Easter Lockdown; Video Captures Chaos in Myanmar; U.S. and Indo- Pacific Allies Discuss China; New York Governor Won't Resign; Minneapolis Pays $27 to Settle George Floyd Lawsuit; Parents' Pandemic Stories; Harry and Meghan's Foundation, Archewell. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired March 13, 2021 - 03:00   ET




MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm Michael Holmes. Appreciate your company. Coming up here on CNN NEWSROOM:


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take off your mask.

HOLMES (voice-over): A welcome sight seen more and more across the U.S. Children being reunited with their grandparents as the government's vaccine rollout gathers steam.


HOLMES (voice-over): The same cannot be said in Italy and other parts of Europe, where a recent uptick in cases has that country headed for lockdown. We're live in Rome with the latest.

And deadly violence against protesters in Myanmar brings condemnation from the United Nations.

So why hasn't it taken action?


HOLMES: Some Americans will be waking up in a few hours to some much- needed money in their bank accounts. On Friday, President Joe Biden promoting his success in getting the nearly $2 trillion relief bill through Congress. But he also recognized there is more to be done to make sure Americans get back on their feet again.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So, there's a lot of work for all of us left to do. But I know we'll do it. To everyone American watching, help is here, and we will not stop working for you. (END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: There's money in the relief bill to boost COVID-19 vaccinations, which do appear to be improving numbers wise. The CDC reporting that more than 100 million doses have been administered so far. Now 35 million people now fully vaccinated.

And as more people get vaccinated, the CDC also releasing new public safety guidance. On Friday, officials updating their guidelines for childcare programs, advising that everyone age 2 and up should wear their masks and practice social distancing. CNN's Amara Walker with more on where the U.S. is in the fight against the pandemic.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take off your mask.

AMARA WALKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After one long year, grandparents finally able to hug their children and grandchildren.

EVELYN SHAW, GRANDMOTHER: My daughter and granddaughter came to my apartment tubes give me a little gift they said. And the gift was the prescription from the doctor. And it said, you are allowed to hug your granddaughter.

WALKER: More reunions like these are on the horizon, greater numbers of people getting vaccinated, with a he records 2.9 million vaccinations reported today.

President Joe Biden in his prime-time address to the nation Thursday setting a goal of getting closer to normal by the Fourth of July but imploring everyone to get vaccinated.

BIDEN: I need you. I need every American to do their part. I need you to get vaccinated when it's your turn.

WALKER: The president also announcing his directed all states to make all adults vaccine eligible by May 1.

ANDY SLAVITT, SENIOR ADVISER, WHITE HOUSE COVID-19 RESPONSE TEAM: Again, that doesn't mean that, May 1, everyone's going to be able to get the shot in their arm. But on May 1, you should be able to get a date in which you will have a shot your arm, if you haven't had one already.

WALKER: Beginning today, Maryland is reopening businesses, including restaurants, gyms and places of worship, at full capacity, though a mask mandate and social distancing requirements will remain in place.

New Orleans also allowing some businesses, including restaurants, to increase to 75 percent capacity, with masking and social distancing still required. It's scenes like these in Florida that experts worry will hurt progress, maskless spring break revelers gathering in crowds.

Officials in Miami Beach tell CNN they expect the highest number of tourists since the pandemic began this weekend and next.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everybody keeps saying COVID doesn't exist down here in Florida, so...


DR. PAUL OFFIT, CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL OF PHILADELPHIA: And I think we're going to get fooled.

You're going to see that, as we enter the summer months, numbers are going to go down and people going to think, great, we're good. They're going to be less interested in getting a vaccine, because they think that we have conquered this pandemic.

WALKER (voice-over): Concerns over spring break travel prompting the superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools to move the district to virtual learning for one week after students return.

The TSA reporting a spike in air travel. The TSA screened 1.28 million people on Thursday, making it the third busiest day at American airports since the pandemic started.

DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: We must really remain vigilant.

WALKER (voice-over): The CDC, however, is cautioning against travel, even for the vaccinated, saying it would consider revising its guidance once more people get their shots.

WALENSKY: We are very worried about transmissible variants.


WALENSKY: A lot of them have come through our travel corridors. So, we're being extra cautious right now with travel.

WALKER (voice-over): In Miami Beach, Amara Walker, CNN.


HOLMES: AstraZeneca's vaccine could soon become the next one available to Americans. The company says it will seek an emergency use authorization shortly after it gets the results from its U.S. phase III trial. Reuters reporting that's likely to be in early April.

The U.S. has been under pressure to donate its supply of AstraZeneca vaccines to other countries since it can't use them yet. The Biden administration declining, saying it is focused on vaccinating Americans.

The European Union one of those regions that was hoping to get some of the U.S. vaccine supply, its rollout lagging far behind the one here. CNN's Melissa Bell is standing by in Paris.

Melissa, still a lot of division among nations on vaccine rollouts. The Austrian chancellor saying vaccine doses aren't being distributed fairly across member states. Tell us about the rollout and how it's been going with the problems.

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, essentially it's been ever since the European Union decided to come together on this question of vaccine procurement, which was a change from policies so far, which until then, had seen health policy left to the member states.

Ever since that decision was made and the E.U. coordinated that since last June, it's been a series of problems time after time, first of all in the signature of the contract, then in the rollout of the deliveries.

Now as you say, the Austrian chancellor complaining about the fact that the vaccines have not been distributed to the member states on the basis of populations as they should have been.

So, this adds, of course, also to the series of problems that have surrounded the AstraZeneca vaccine more particularly as well from the start.

Michael, it's been at the heart of a political row with the European Union, with problems in terms of delivery delays then questions from the national agencies in charge of health in the individual countries about what age limits should be set on the people who could receive the vaccination. A U-turn then on that decision.

And now, of course, this fresh division within Europe about whether the AstraZeneca vaccine should be suspended because of those problems that have been raised in some countries with regard to the problem of some patients who went on to develop blood clots.

Of course the company itself, the French national health agency and the European Medicines Agency all say that in fact there is nothing to suggest there is any evidence that there is any increased risk as a result of being inoculated with the AstraZeneca vaccine, that in fact the incidence of problems regarding blood clots is the same as in the general population, if not lower.

So this another real division within Europe on a question that has really divided them from the very start.

HOLMES: Meanwhile, I mean as the vaccine rollout is meant to be gathering steam, the spread of the variant, particularly the U.K. variant, has seen some pretty big upticks.

BELL: That's right. It's been the really rapid spread since the second wave that's now taken us into this third in Italy, France, Germany, is that spread of the new variants and particularly, although the Brazilian and South African variants are also making progress in those countries, it is specifically the one first identified in the United Kingdom, Michael, that has now become dominant in all three of those countries, Italy, Germany and France.

It represents two-thirds of all new cases here in France, 55 percent in Germany. That figure was 6 percent just six weeks ago. On one hand, you have that problem of the faster spread of the new variant. But there is also, the French health minister reminded us, the problem

of the fact that it seems to be more dangerous, that it seems to bring people into hospital in greater numbers and faster than the original coronavirus did.

And that, he explained, is the problem now in France. Fairly stable levels of new cases and yet more and more people in ICUs. We now have more than 4,000 in intensive care in France. That is the highest level of COVID-19 patients in ICU since November.

The fear is, we heard it from the mouth of the French prime minister just a couple of days ago, the particular pressure that is now being brought to bear on greater Parisian hospitals and the fear we might be heading towards further restrictions rather than any lifting of them anytime soon, Michael.

HOLMES: All right. Appreciate it, Melissa. Thank you. Melissa Bell there in Paris.

Now some countries in Europe aren't taking any chances. In Italy, new restrictions kicking in on Monday and the entire country set to enter a new lockdown period over the Easter weekend. CNN's Delia Gallagher joining me now from Rome to talk about that.

Italy bracing for new restrictions.

Why the increase in cases and what can Italians expect?

DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Michael, it seems to be a problem of the rate of transmission. Authorities say it has increased rapidly due to the presence of variants. The variant first identified in the U.K., they say, is now prevalent in Italy.


GALLAGHER: The variant first identified in Brazil is now showing small clusters in Italy. So, what they have decided to do is lock down 10 of Italy's 20 regions. That includes major cities like Rome, Milan and Venice and, of course, a total lockdown over the Easter weekend, April 3rd through 5th.

They say that any region, Michael, that exceeds a weekly caseload of more than 250 per 100,000 residents will go into automatic lockdown. So, there may be more regions in lockdown as we go on. Prime minister Mario Draghi spoke to the nation yesterday. Here's a little bit of what he had to say.


MARIO DRAGHI, ITALIAN PRIME MINISTER (through translator): The memory of what happened last spring is still vivid, and we will do everything possible to prevent it from happening again. On the basis of scientific proof, the government has adopted restrictive measures today that we think are appropriate and proportionate.

(END VIDEO CLIP) GALLAGHER: Michael, Draghi also said that he understood the effects that this is going to have on children's education, on the economy and on the psychological well-being of Italians. But he said the measures were necessary to avoid further deterioration -- Michael.

HOLMES: And meanwhile, we're talking about vaccine rollout.

How is it going specifically there in Italy?

GALLAGHER: Well, that was another point the prime minister made yesterday. He said we're doing about 170,000 vaccines a day. He wants to triple that. He wants to make it more available, saying, using all public spaces, parking lots, gyms to allow Italians to get vaccinated.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has now been approved for Italy, so that gives them a fourth pharmaceutical supply in order to carry out this plan.

The health minister said on Thursday that they expect to have 80 million vaccines for the end of the summer, so they are confident, Michael, that they will be able to accelerate their vaccine program. It's obviously key in order to help Italy get out of this lockdown -- Michael.

HOLMES: All right, Delia, good to see you. Delia Gallagher there in Rome for us.

Now right now, COVID-19 is killing more people in Brazil each day than anywhere else in the world. Brazil, we're going to show you a map here, there in red, it is a huge nation. It has been the second hardest hit nation in the world for much of the pandemic.

And cases there are still spiking. It's getting worse every day, hospitals on the brink of collapse. And officials in Rio de Janeiro have stopped vaccination efforts because they've run out of shots. Matt Rivers with more from Sao Paulo.


MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are here in Sao Paulo, Brazil, one of many Brazilian states currently reeling during what are unquestionably the worst days of Brazil's pandemic so far.

We've talked about how multiple single day coronavirus death records have been set in just the last week alone. We see a surging number of cases and, unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a lot of good news on the horizon, either.

Specifically, when you look at what is happening in hospitals across this country, specifically in intensive care units. If you look at ICU occupancy rates, that is where you see the most disturbing numbers. In 23 of Brazil's 26 states plus its federal district, ICU occupancy rates are at 80 percent or higher.

In 11 of those 26 states, ICU occupancy rates are at 90 percent or higher. All of this comes as we heard today from the state of Rio de Janeiro, they are going to be forced to temporarily suspend their vaccination campaign due to low vaccine supply. Brazil has had consistent issues procuring vaccines for its population.

Back weeks ago, when the Brazilian federal government announced its vaccination campaign plans, it had said that they would have some 46 million or so doses of vaccines available during the month of March.

Over the last few weeks, they've consistently brought that estimate down to the point where it is now. Some 26 million doses of vaccine are expected to be available this month during the month of March.

Those vaccines are desperately needed in the country when we look at the numbers of cases, the number of deaths. But the vaccine supply just not there yet -- Matt Rivers, CNN, Sao Paulo, Brazil.


HOLMES: We're going to take a quick break. When we come back here on CNN NEWSROOM, protesters in Myanmar asking for international help and so are human rights experts.

So, what's the holdup with the U.N. Security Council?

We'll explain.

Also, leaders from the U.S., Japan, India and Australia discussing China's growing influence in the Pacific region at the first ever Quad Summit. We'll have details on that as well when we come back.





HOLMES: New Zealand held a national remembrance service to mark the second anniversary of the Christchurch terror attack; 51 people, you'll remember, were killed when a gunman opened fire at two separate mosques on March 15, 2019. Dozens more people were injured in the shooting, which was livestreamed by the attacker.

Now we're hearing more reports of deadly violence in Myanmar today. Witnesses telling CNN at least two people have been killed in Mandalay after police fired on pro-democracy protesters. Several others were injured.

Now that's after a night of more police brutality. Security forces firing at protesters in Yangon, killing two people. The U.N. special rapporteur to Myanmar says the military junta is unleashing terror and lawlessness against civilians.

But that's not been enough to force the U.N. Security Council into actual action. Richard Roth explains what's holding them up.



RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR U.N. CORRESPONDENT: The people of Myanmar currently under the gun in the streets of their own country should not really be hoping for immediate outside intervention by the U.N. or any other force.

That is because the global organization just doesn't function that way. There's too much division inside the 15 member U.N. Security Council, especially the big powers. In order for Western countries to get the first formal condemnation of the coup on the books, Russia and China insisted that the wording of the statement not include the word "coup" and it should not include any threat of further measures, should the Myanmar generals failed to comply.

So, in order to get that compromise that many countries wanted, they had to give in on that very significant wording.

So, whether the Myanmar generals really get any kind of hint to do something to protect their own people is highly unlikely. And the U.N. is just set up in a different kind of labyrinth.

You will hear headlines that the U.N.-hired human rights representative in Geneva announcing Myanmar for potential crimes against humanity and that something, a message has to be sent to the generals so that they know there's no impunity, the problem is that that is not the full U.N.

It's really the Security Council that causes action, legal action under the charter of the U.N. So you cannot be fooled when you see headlines about U.N. condemns Myanmar generals. It doesn't necessarily mean it will lead to action -- Richard Roth, CNN, New York.


HOLMES: Earlier I spoke with Kayleigh Long, a Myanmar researcher for Amnesty International. I asked her about the protesters' determination to resist military rule despite the very real threat to their lives.


KAYLEIGH LONG, MYANMAR RESEARCHER, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: It is important to remember that people are just exercising their rights. They are allowed under international law to express themselves freely, to have freedom of assembly and association and those rights are being trampled on by the military.

HOLMES: Knowing the people as you do, are you surprised the protests have gone on this long, despite the military violence?

Or not surprised?

LONG: I think there is a real determination from protesters, that what has been shocking is the brutality of the response of the military. HOLMES: Talk about the role of the military chief, the general, and

why he is responding this way, because this is very much about him and his ambitions, his position.

According to many observers, his personal financial interests as well.

What to make of him and his role?

LONG: Jen min Aung Hlaing has had command responsibility for a number of atrocities in recent years. Obviously, there was the Rohingya crisis in 2016 and 2017, but this is a military with a long history of impunity, in particular in ethnic states.

The difference this time around is that we're seeing it meted out in cities and towns all around the country on camera.

HOLMES: How strong, as you've seen this unfold, how strong is the evidence against the military in terms of its use of force and tactics?

One imagines that the smartphone pictures that have been documenting the crackdown could result in increased pressure but also possible evidence for what might be to come in terms of international action once this is over.

LONG: As you say, there has been a pretty constant stream of information coming out, shocking images and footage. Each day, while the internet is on, as you know, they've been shutting it down at night.

So, it's really shocking to see this conduct caught on camera. Whether that will be serving as evidence in the future for criminal procedures, I don't know. But certainly, at Amnesty we have been trying to piece together who is responsible for the killings and violence we've seen on the streets.

HOLMES: Kayleigh Long with Amnesty International, really appreciate you coming on with this very important issue. Thank you.


HOLMES: Now the United States says it will be restoring humanitarian aid to northern Yemen, an area largely under Houthi control. This coming as the country is on the verge of what could be the biggest famine in modern history.

The head of the World Food Programme telling the United Nations he was frustrated by many things, including the lack of coverage it's receiving.


DAVID BEASLEY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, WFP: The demands are catastrophic right now. And, you know, you turn on the media, the United States right now, it's all about Harry and Meghan. I mean, OK, that's fine. But, my God, I have people dying right now. (END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: The director also said he spoke with Houthi leadership about a cease-fire plan that the U.S. presented a number of days ago. He says an agreement is imperative to prevent more deaths.

Leaders from the U.S., India, Japan and Australia have committed to supply Asia with up to 1 billion COVID vaccine doses by 2022.


HOLMES: It was one of many topics discussed at the first so-called Quad Summit. The meeting also taking a hard look at China's growing influence on the global stage. CNN's Selina Wang reports.


SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The leaders of the U.S., Japan, Australia and India met in virtual talks on Friday. It marks the first-time talks have been held between the heads of state of the four-member Quad Group.

The leaders were expected to discuss increasing capacity for COVID-19 vaccines, economic cooperation, collaboration on climate change as well as securing the Indo-Pacific region.

Beijing has denounced the quad as an anti-China bloc, emblematic of a, quote, "poisonous cold war mentality." In recent months, relations between China and Quad countries have plummeted.

Here in Japan, there's been increasing alarm over China's incursions into the disputed waters of the east China sea. Australia and China tensions have increased, and relations have soured since Australia called for an open investigation into the origins of COVID-19.

China has since slapped tariffs on a variety of Australian commodities. China and India tensions have simmered ever since the border crisis. But even though this meeting does break new ground, analysts tell me there are limits to what the Quad Group can achieve.

The Quad nations may share a mutual concern over a rising China, but they've struggled with differing priorities and strategic ties to China. However, Rand analysts do say that, if China steps up military aggression in other countries, there is a possibility that the Quad could evolve into a more robust military alliance -- Selena Wang, CNN, Tokyo.

HOLMES: And you've been watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Michael Holmes. Up next for our international viewers, "AFRICAN VOICES." For those in the United States, I'll have more news after a quick break.



[03:30:00] (MUSIC PLAYING)

HOLMES: Welcome back.

In a news conference on Friday, New York governor Andrew Cuomo denied allegations of sexual harassment and called on investigators to do their work.

But both of the state's senators, Kirsten Gillibrand and majority leader Chuck Schumer, now say Cuomo should step aside. There are also questions about the handling of data on nursing home deaths during the pandemic. Brynn Gingras with more.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): I did not do what has been alleged, period. I have not had a sexual relationship that was inappropriate, period.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo digging in his heels, reiterating he's innocent amid mounting allegations and ongoing investigations into his alleged misconduct.

CUOMO: Look, it's very simple. I never harassed anyone. I never abused anyone. I never assaulted anyone. Now and I never would, right? My statement could not be clearer.

GINGRAS (voice-over): Even as a majority of the New York Democratic Congressional Delegation are calling on Cuomo to resign.

Congressman Jerry Nadler saying in a statement, "The repeated accusations against the governor and the manner in which he has responded to them have made it impossible for him to continue to govern at this point." The governor making it clear in an afternoon press briefing, he isn't going anywhere.

CUOMO: People know the difference between playing politics, bowing to cancel culture and the truth. Let the review proceed. I'm not going to resign. Part of this is that I am not part of the political club. And you know what? I'm proud of it.

GINGRAS (voice-over): Cuomo now facing three separate ongoing probes, the latest one from state lawmakers who launched an impeachment investigation.

ZOHRAN MAMDANI (D), NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY: In a time when our state and New Yorkers need us the most, we are unable to focus on the issues at hand because we have a Governor who is lying to the public and a governor who is refusing to face up to what he has done.

GINGRAS (voice-over): The judiciary committee's investigation is the first step toward possibly removing the governor from office.

Lawmakers will be able to subpoena documents, request records and conduct interviews. The attorney for Charlotte Bennett, a former aide who accuses Cuomo of sexual harassment says she would testify in those proceedings.


GINGRAS (voice-over): Bennett is one of several women who, in the last month, have publicly made allegations of inappropriate behavior or sexual harassment against Cuomo.

The New York Attorney General's office is leading that probe and has set up a website calling for tips to help with its investigation. Cuomo maintains he didn't do anything wrong and apologized, saying he didn't know he was making anyone feel uncomfortable.

CUOMO: There are often many motivations for making an allegation. And that is why you need to know the facts before you make a decision. There are now two reviews underway. No one wants them to happen more quickly and more thoroughly than I do. Let them do it.

GINGRAS (voice-over): And in a separate probe, CNN reports federal prosecutors in Brooklyn and the FBI are scrutinizing the handling of data surrounding COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes. A senior adviser to Cuomo said in February, the administration has been cooperating with that inquiry, which started last year.

CUOMO: We are talking about a public health emergency.

GINGRAS (voice-over): Three investigations proof of what a difference a year makes when this time last year Cuomo star was on the rise as one of the nation's leading voices in the early days of the pandemic.

CUOMO: I have a job to do. I've been doing it for 11 years. This is probably the most critical time in the state's history.

GINGRAS: And a new accusation, this one coming from a former Albany reporter, who covered Cuomo back in 2014. She penned an article for "The New Yorker" and, in it, she says that she never got the feeling the governor wanted to sleep with her. But it wasn't about sex; it was about power -- Brynn Gingras, CNN, in Albany, New York.


HOLMES: In one of the biggest settlements of its kind in the U.S., the City of Minneapolis will pay $27 million to the family of George Floyd. He, of course, was the Black man whose death sparked global protests against police brutality.


HOLMES: Following the announcement, Floyd's brother had this message for the world.


PHILONISE FLOYD, GEORGE'S BROTHER: Everybody around this world who helped march with us on the front line or on the couch, it doesn't matter. Your heart was in a good place and I'd like to thank everyone for that. Thank you all so much. May George live in power. (END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: Former police officer Derek Chauvin was caught on tape, kneeling on Floyd's neck for almost eight minutes. Jury selection is underway for his trial. He has pled not guilty to various murder and manslaughter charges.

Now a shadowy extremist group with links to a confidant of former president Donald Trump is facing increased scrutiny in the investigation of the U.S. Capitol insurrection. Some members of the Oath Keepers are among the more than 300 people who have been charged so far and prosecutors say more members will likely face charges. CNN's Jessica Schneider reports.


JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In what is shaping up to be the largest and most complex criminal probe in American history, prosecutors are zeroing in on members of the extremist anti-government group the Oath Keepers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Going to the Capitol, overran the Capitol.


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): They're gradually building out a major Capitol riot conspiracy case against nine members. A federal prosecutor telling a judge Thursday that new charges are coming against more members, all while the group's connections to Trump ally, Roger Stone, are becoming apparent.

ROGER STONE, TRUMP ALLY: This is nothing less than an epic struggle for the future of this country between dark and light.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): An FBI agent telling a judge in Alabama that a member of the Oath Keepers named Joshua James chauffeured Roger Stone as part of his security detail surrounding the Stop the Steal rally on January 5th, one day before the insurrection.

James' wife testified that her husband was paid around $1,500 by the Oath Keepers for his security work in at least two events, including that rally.

Prosecutors say Oath Keeper Robert Minuta was seen screaming at police on the steps of the Capitol just hours after he appeared to stand guard by Roger Stone's side outside the Willard Hotel in Washington.

Minuta wore a VIP guest credential to the Trump rally before the attack, along with an Oath Keeper's hat and patch. He was identified by the FBI inside the Capitol, wearing ballistic goggles, a radio with an earpiece and possibly carrying bear spray, according to an FBI affidavit.

Stone has denied having advance knowledge of the Capitol breach and said he only accepted security from the Oath Keepers because of death threats. And prosecutors are now revealing in new court filings the vast scope of the insurrection investigation, a criminal probe unlike any other in American history.

Federal investigators are poring through a mountain of evidence. They are reviewing more than 15,000 hours of surveillance tapes and police body camera footage, about 1,600 electronic devices and they have conducted hundreds of searches of electronic communications like emails and text messages.

More than 900 search warrants have been executed in almost every state around the country and prosecutors expect at least 100 more people will eventually be charged, adding to the nearly 300 people already publicly identified and charged.

SCHNEIDER: And late Friday, a federal judge ordered the release of one of the alleged Oath Keepers charged in the Capitol riot. That's 65- year-old Thomas Caldwell. He's a military vet and he was charged with conspiracy.

But Judge Amit Mehta now says there is no direct evidence Caldwell ever planned to storm the Capitol. And that, in addition to Caldwell's declining health, is what prompted the judge to release him.

Caldwell will now have to wear a GPS monitor at home, and he is barred from communicating with other members of the Oath Keepers -- Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington.


HOLMES: Many parents are fed up with waiting and waiting for schools to reopen. How some are trying to force the issue by heading to court. We'll have that when we come back.





HOLMES: Welcome back.

Beginning Monday, teachers in all 50 U.S. states will be prioritized to receive vaccines and children across the country are going back to the classroom to learn in person.

But one year into this pandemic, the progress is still too slow for millions of kids stuck at home. Now the result: frustrated students and struggling parents, millions of whom can't afford access to high- speed internet or childcare.

Now CNN asked parents to make video diaries to help everyone get a sense of the COVID and educational challenge that they face. Here's Cortni Alvis. She's a mom of two in Indiana on what it's like to homeschool her kids while working full-time from home in a pandemic.



C. ALVIS (voice-over): We have two kiddos ages 3 and 6.

C. ALVIS: It's time for school.

C. ALVIS (on camera): Today, you will see a day in the life of us when it comes to homeschooling our children. One is in a public school and we luckily have the option to have him do in-person with a few e- learning courses throughout the calendar year.

C. ALVIS: Good job.

NORMAN ALVIS, CORTNI'S HUSBAND (on camera): It's been a major transition as far as us converting our basement, to the home office, as well as we created a little niche, to make it a classroom-setting as much as possible.

N. ALVIS: Love you guys, bye.



C. ALVIS (on camera): E-learning days are very challenging, honestly. I'm trying to get things done for work and hurry up and get them done in a timely manner, because that's when my husband then has to tap in. It's hard to hold meetings, to do conferences.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you please help me with my homework?

C. ALVIS (on camera): This is a prime example. He needs help with his homework assignment.


HOLMES: Tough, isn't it?

But for other parents, their outrage over schools not offering in- person classes has taken them to the courtroom. CNN's Bianna Golodryga spoke with a group of New Jersey mothers suing their school district.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The garbage workers who pick up my freaking trash risk their lives, every day, more than anyone in this school system.

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN SENIOR GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST (voice-over): Across the country, exasperated parents, like this Virginia dad, are demanding more of their school boards.



DONOHUE: Because, why is my kid suffering and other kids get to be in school?

It's a game and the kids are being used as pawns.

GOLODRYGA (voice-over): Attorney Keri Avellini Donohue was representing 17 equally frustrated families, pro bono, in lawsuits against two New Jersey school districts, Montclair and South Orange- Maplewood. It's been almost a year since students filled the classrooms in these districts.

DARYN SIROTA, MOTHER: This has been such a tremendous battle for all of us.

GOLODRYGA (voice-over): The suit asserts that students have been denied their right to an in-person education.

SIROTA: I myself is a teacher. Children need to be in school, with their peers, with their teachers, working collaboratively.

DONOHUE: Oh, really?

GOLODRYGA (voice-over): For Donohue, these cases hit close to home.

DONOHUE: The Department not responding to my own child's specific needs and realizing oh, you know, not that they're not going to open the schools and it was kind of like "I could do this, you know? I'm going to speak up for her because no one is speaking for the kids."

GOLODRYGA (voice-over): Her 11-year-old daughter Mary (ph) has not set foot inside of a classroom since last March.

GOLODRYGA (on camera): What grade are you in?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm in sixth grade.

GOLODRYGA (on camera): Do you worry about when you can possibly return back to school?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I always ask Mom, "When am I going back to school?"

She says she doesn't know.

GOLODRYGA (voice-over): Diagnosed with ADHD, Mary (ph) had been on an Individualized Education Plan or IEP prior to the pandemic and had been thriving.

DONOHUE: She did so well that they said when she goes into middle school, she no longer needs like the intense like special services.

GOLODRYGA (voice-over): Today, Donohue says her daughter is a completely different person and refuses to participate in online classes.

DONOHUE: She's progressively declined to the point, where she's diagnosed with high levels of anxiety and depression. And it was recommended that we put her like on antidepressants, to help her get back to a somewhat normal state. It's heartbreakingly sad.

GOLODRYGA (voice-over): The family she represents in the lawsuit describe similar setbacks.

ANNA FERGUSON, MOTHER: He was a star pupil a year ago, thriving, happy. All of his in-school supports were helping him. My son is in emotional mess now. He's depressed. He's not interested in anything. He doesn't talk.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He wasn't even participating. He wasn't turning his camera on. And this is a kid, who had tested as "gifted" in the 99th percentile, now getting essentially D level grades.

GOLODRYGA (voice-over): Similar lawsuits have been filed against school districts and Teachers' Unions in over a dozen states, from Maryland to Kentucky, Wisconsin and California.

BIDEN: Getting our schools back open safely. Right now--

GOLODRYGA (voice-over): But while the push to reopen schools has garnered national sympathy from the White House, there's little the federal government can actually do. The majority of the country hinges on decisions made by local school districts.

For these moms, the battle is halfway over. On Thursday, the Montclair School District, one of the two named in Donohue's lawsuit, reached a deal to return to the classroom April 12th.

SIROTA: And I'm so, so grateful to her.

GOLODRYGA (on camera): You know your mom is out there fighting for you.


DONOHUE: Thank you.

GOLODRYGA (voice-over): Bianna Golodryga, CNN, New Jersey.


HOLMES: Now in the next hour, CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta looks at how students and educators are using science to tackle safety concerns.

But just ahead, Queen Elizabeth making her first appearance since that explosive Oprah Winfrey interview with her grandson, Prince Harry, and his wife, Meghan. We'll have that in a live report when we come back.




(MUSIC PLAYING) HOLMES: Welcome back. Prince Harry and Meghan are trying to bring

about change after that interview with Oprah Winfrey. Their foundation -- it's called Archewell -- is now throwing its weight behind organizations dealing with racial justice, mental health and the media. CNN's Anna Stewart is in London for us.

And, you know, I guess, amid all this family turmoil, bring us up to date.

At least the queen's been out in public, right?

ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. We've seen the queen for the first time since that interview broadcast. Up to this point really, we just had that statement from Her Majesty, which said amongst other things that they were going to deal with the issues raised by the interview privately.

The palace is showing us here that she is back to business. She took part in a WebEx celebration, Michael, of British Space Week and she raised some laughs.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She said It was actually my birthday yesterday on the 9th of March but Yuri Gagarin, the first human to travel out into space, was also born on the 9th of March.

And I believe, ma'am, that you met him.

Can you tell us about that?

ELIZABETH II, QUEEN OF ENGLAND: I did indeed, yes. It was very interesting to meet him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What was he like?



STEWART: He was Russian.

Back to the day job for the queen, who is nearly 95 years old. She's dealing with a royal rift at home and her husband, Prince Philip, remains in the hospital here behind me. He's been there now for over three weeks.

The interview had bombshell after bombshell and we really haven't had time yet to dig into all of those revelations, such as this one: a secret wedding?


STEWART (voice-over): It was a fairy tale wedding watched by millions around the world. And yet in Oprah Winfrey's explosive interview. Meghan revealed a secret. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MEGHAN MARKLE, DUCHESS OF SUSSEX: You know, three days before our wedding we got married.


MEGHAN: No one knows that. We called the archbishop and we just said, look, this thing, this spectacle is for the world. But we want our union between us. So like the vows that we have framed in our room are just the two of us in our back yard with the Archbishop of Canterbury and that was the piece that --



STEWART: They exchanged vows but were they really married?


STEWART: This revelation has caused some confusion. Church of England weddings require two witnesses. And they can't take place outside.

STEWART (voice-over): The world witnessed a wedding take place in St. George's Chapel, and they saw the couple sign the register, the part of the wedding that makes a marriage official.

As well as confusion, it's caused some consternation. Following the interview, some tweets called the royal wedding a fake. Others said the couple should refund the taxpayers who paid the royal wedding's security bill.

OMID SCOBIE, "HARPER'S BAZAAR": This wasn't a legal ceremony. This was just a way for the couple to actually remember their vows and the blessing that they had from the archbishop. I think both are feeling quite nervous that they wouldn't really remember a second of the big day, which, of course, went out in front of millions.

So this was just a personal touch for them. It carries no legal significance. It doesn't change the royal record. It was something that they could keep just to themselves, much like their engagement, which also happened months earlier than when it was announced to the world.


STEWART: The fallout from the interview is going to continue for many weeks to come, I mean, particularly in terms of some issues raised on mental health and racism. I feel like this week is one we'll remember in royal history for a very long time. And, Michael, it's provided a lot of content for a jam-packed future episode of the crown.

HOLMES: Yes, absolutely. Quite right there. Anna Stewart, good to see you. Thank you, my friend.

Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Michael Holmes. Kim Brunhuber is up next.