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Stimulus Payments out to Americans This Weekend; AstraZeneca Defends Vaccine amid Blood Clot Fears; Italy Announces New Restrictions, Easter Lockdown; New York Governor Won't Resign; Minneapolis Pays $27 to Settle George Floyd Lawsuit; Remote Learning Taking Toll on Children's Health; Video Captures Chaos in Myanmar; Was Harry and Meghan's Wedding Real? Aired 5-6a ET

Aired March 13, 2021 - 05:00   ET




KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Joe Biden's victory lap: the president prepares to tour the country touting his stimulus while making more big promises to the American people.

The U.S. has a supply of AstraZeneca's vaccine ready and waiting.

But what is the likelihood of approval now that some countries are suspending its rollout?

And new sexual harassment allegations, more calls to resign; we have the latest on the crisis facing New York governor Andrew Cuomo.

Live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, welcome to all of you watching in the United States, Canada and around the world. I'm Kim Brunhuber, this is CNN NEWSROOM.


BRUNHUBER: Many Americans could wake up this Saturday morning to find desperately needed relief payments already in their bank accounts. The first batch of payments were processed Friday, the same day that the American Rescue Plan was signed into law.

Now President Joe Biden and his team plan to travel the country, spreading awareness of the plan's many benefits. Here is Jeff Zeleny.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Help is here, and we will not stop working for you.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Biden celebrating his first legislative success tonight, hailing the American rescue plan as a triumph to lift the nation from crisis.

BIDEN: Together with you, we are showing it's possible to get big, important things done. That's an American does.

ZELENY (voice-over): It was a rose garden victory lap, with Biden soaking in his first official event there as president to tout a law now part of his legacy.

BIDEN: It changes the paradigm, for the first time in a long time, this bill puts working people in this nation first. It's not hyperbole, it's a fact.

ZELENY (voice-over): But he made clear the jubilation over the $1.9 trillion law that will touch the lives of millions of Americans who've endured economic pain and hardship from the coronavirus pandemic came with deep responsibility for his new administration.

BIDEN: We have to get this right. Details matter because we have to continue to build confidence in the American people that their government can function for them and deliver.

ZELENY (voice-over): Vice President Kamala Harris praised Biden's commitment just seeing the historic bill become reality, noting its focus on helping America's poor and middle class.

KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Help has arrived America. This landmark legislation will get relief to families, get support to communities and make sure more shots get in arms.

ZELENY (voice-over): The President's often repeated campaign mantra --

BIDEN: Help is on the way.

ZELENY (voice-over): -- will now be put to the test as the first stimulus checks start arriving in Americans bank accounts as soon as this weekend. For the White House, it's something of an audacious gamble, effectively circling dates on the calendar when normalcy may start returning, a year after the pandemic changed everything.

March 21, 100 million shots in arms since taking office, May 1, all adults eligible for the vaccine and by July 4 Americans can safely celebrate in small gatherings like backyard cookouts, when asked Press Secretary Jen Psaki trying to set expectations for that optimism.

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We're not talking about a July 4 celebration on the Mall. We're not quite there yet. This is a step more toward the kind of socialization and engagement with friends and family that he knows as a human being people have been missing over the last year.

ZELENY (voice-over): The White House is launching an extensive sales pitch next week with the President and First Lady, Vice President and members of the Cabinet traveling to points across the country to explain how the law can help Americans.

BIDEN: We're going to be traveling the country to speak directly to the American people about how this law is going to make a real difference in their lives. ZELENY (voice-over): The campaign is the first step in the administration's efforts to try and make permanent some provisions of the law, particularly aid to working families and others left behind.

BIDEN: This law is not the end of our efforts, though. I view it is only beginning.

ZELENY: President Biden calls the bill historic and transformational for millions of American families. But there are still questions about the price on this spending bill, $1.9 trillion. That is why he and Vice President Harris will be traveling next week trying to make the case to the American people while all this aid is necessary.

He'll be traveling to Pennsylvania and Georgia, they have not going vice president going to Nevada and Colorado, trying to make the case that this is worth it. Even as they try to keep the optimism alive on the coronavirus fight -- Jeff Zeleny, CNN, the White House.


BRUNHUBER: America's top disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci is sounding optimistic now in the fight against COVID-19.


BRUNHUBER: He told late night host Stephen Colbert. The virus won't be with us forever.


STEPHEN COLBERT, CBS HOST: Can we be hopeful that this will come to an end soon?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF COVID-19 MEDICAL ADVISER: Well, yes, not only hopeful, you can be absolutely certain that this is going to end, and we will get back to normal. The question is when.


BRUNHUBER: U.S. coronavirus case numbers have been dropping and the country is making strides on vaccinations. About 20 percent of the population has had at least one vaccine dose. And those shots are enabling people to visit loved ones they haven't seen in months. Erica Hill has more.


ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Her first hug in a year.

EVELYN SHAW, HUGGED GRANDDAUGHTER FOR FIRST TIME IN A YEAR: It was blissful. It was wonderful and it was something I'm going to remember for the rest my life.

HILL (voice-over): Across the country, families reunited.


HILL (voice-over): Offering hope for what lies ahead. To get there the White House promising more shots in arms and easier access to COVID-19 vaccines.

DR. MARCELLA NUNEZ-SMITH, CHAIR, COVID-19 EQUITY TASK FORCE: Up to 700 new community health centers coming online, a doubling of pharmacy locations and a surge in vaccinators. We're ensuring that equity remains at the center of our response

HILL (voice-over): As experts stress it's not just about the vaccine.

DR. ABDUL EL-SAYED, EPIDEMIOLOGIST, FORMER DETROIT HEALTH COMMISSIONER: We've always needed vaccines in the context of tried and true basic public health blocking and tackling.

HILL (voice-over): And yet, more of those public health measures are being phased out. As of 5:00 p.m. today, most Maryland businesses can operate at full capacity, masks still required but quarantines for out-of-state travelers are not. New York state will eliminate them for domestic travelers starting April 1st.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D-NY), NEW YORK CITY: I don't know if that's the state's idea of an April fool's joke but it's absolutely the wrong thing to do.

HILL (voice-over): Nearly 1.3 million people passing through TSA checkpoints on Thursday, the third busiest day since the start of the pandemic.

DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: Every single time we have escalations in travel, right after that we have a surge.

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Travel itself is not the problem. It's more about what happens when people get to their destination.

HILL (voice-over): The seven-day average of new cases is at its lowest level since mid-October, down 47 percent in just the last month. Average daily reported deaths down 48 percent in the last month, gains no one wants to lose.

DR. ASHISH JHA, DEAN, BROWN UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: I think May and June are going to be really good months and July is going to be terrific, but we do have to get through the next six weeks.

HILL (voice-over): A well-known model now predicting U.S. COVID deaths could approach 600,000 by July 1st. That's an increase of more than 22,000 since its last estimate less than a week ago due to increased mobility and a drop in masking.

WALENSKY: We need every individual to do their part. We can provide the guidance, but if -- if people are not doing their part to keep the infection rates down and to get themselves vaccinated, we are -- you know, this is in our control. HILL: More than 101 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in the United States. Some 35 million people are fully vaccinated. That is just over 10 percent of the population.

And all of this happening almost exactly three months to the day since the first dose was administered on December 14th -- in New York, I'm Erica Hill, CNN.


BRUNHUBER: In the last hour I talked with Dr. Shoshana Ungerleider, an internal medicine physician at the California Pacific Medical Center. And I asked her what her thoughts were on the recent guidance from the CDC for fully vaccinated people. And this is what she had to say.


DR. SHOSHANA UNGERLEIDER, CALIFORNIA PACIFIC MEDICAL CENTER: The most exciting update is, of course, that fully vaccinated people, meaning if you're two weeks after the J&J shot or the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, can visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing. That is a huge departure from where we have been.

We still don't know if those who are vaccinated can spread the virus to those who haven't been vaccinated. So the recommendations don't change when you're out in public or have a friend who is unvaccinated. We all need to keep wearing masks and avoid indoor gatherings.

What we do expect to happen very soon is new guidelines on travel for vaccinated people, which are coming soon and will help us, you know, slowly return back to normal life.

BRUNHUBER: Now we could soon have another vaccine as part of the arsenal. We were told AstraZeneca was looking for approval for its vaccine here in the U.S. maybe this month or in April.

What are we to make of the number of countries that have suspended using the vaccine because of reports of blood clots?

UNGERLEIDER: You know, Kim, I think it's important to point out in this situation, when you vaccinate millions and millions of people, as we have across the world, medical problems turn up by chance for people in proximity to receiving a vaccine.


UNGERLEIDER: But they don't have anything to do with each other. So, in the case of the AstraZeneca vaccine, for example, millions of people have received doses without any problems. There's actually no evidence of any causal link between the vaccine and blood clots.

We do have extensive data showing that this vaccine is safe and effective and especially good at preventing severe illness and death. And in many places across the world, it's the only shot available. And I think most importantly, the risk to people's health and safety

from getting COVID is much higher than the risk of extremely rare adverse events from this vaccine.


BRUNHUBER: So, as I discussed it with Dr. Shoshana Ungerleider, AstraZeneca's vaccine could become available to Americans soon. Sources tell Reuters News Agency that the company plans to seek U.S. authorization after it gets the results from its U.S. phase III trial.

Meanwhile some countries are suspending it because of blood clot concerns. But the World Health Organization is still administering the shot while waiting on guidance from vaccine safety committee.

Denmark is among a handful of countries pausing the vaccine, but others are standing by the shot. Melissa Bell is joining us now to explain.

We spoke yesterday about all the confusion surrounding this AstraZeneca vaccine and the fears of blood clots.

Is there any more clarity today?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you say, some countries suspending either the entire rollout or some of its batches, others standing by it.

And we heard last night from France's national health agency, pointing out that it believed that the vaccine should continue be rolled out from the European Medicines Agency as well, who said that there was no evidence of any connection for the time being.

And, of course, from the company itself, that pointed out that the vaccine for the time being has shown no evidence of increased blood clots but in fact the numbers may be lower than in the general population. So all of these things have to be investigated and that's what is happening in those countries where the national agencies have expressed doubts.

But of course, it won't help Europe with its vaccination rollout, already so far behind so many other parts of the world. It will not help those supply issues that we've been seeing.

There is, of course, one piece of good news here on the European vaccination campaign front and that is approval on Thursday of the European Medicines Agency Johnson & Johnson single dose vaccine, of which the E.U. has purchased 200 million doses. That has been approved by France's national agency so should become available here in the next few days and in other European countries when their agencies have approved it as well.

So, there is that news that there will be one more shot on the market. But that trouble with AstraZeneca is that it has been beset by problems ever since it was launched, political rows, delivery delays and now these questions about safety in some European countries. So, we await the results of those investigations. Denmark has given

itself two weeks to look into the issue before making a decision on what happens next.

BRUNHUBER: Appreciate the update, Melissa Bell.

Most of Italy will be facing new restrictions on Monday as it tries to stem the recent rise of COVID cases. It is also plans a nationwide lockdown over the Easter holiday weekend. Italian officials are worried that more contagious variants are gaining ground. Let's bring in Delia Gallagher.

So, Italy set to impose new restrictions. Take us through why that is happening.

DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it does seem to be a problem of the variants. Authorities are saying that those are increasing substantially. The rate of transmission, the variant first identified in the U.K., they say, is now prevalent in Italy and the variant first identified in Brazil is showing small clusters in Italy.

So that seems to be the underlying reason for taking these measures. What they are doing is they are doing a lockdown for 10 of Italy's 20 regions starting on Monday. And that includes big cities like Rome, Milan and Venice. And then they're doing a total national lockdown for the Easter weekend.

But they say we'll see how it goes. Any region which is going to exceed weekly cases of more than 250 per 100,000 residents will go into an automatic lockdown. The prime minister Mario Draghi spoke to the country yesterday, here is 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.



GALLAGHER: And Draghi also said that he understood the effects that this is going to have on children's education, on the economy, on the psychological well-being of Italians. It has been a very, very long year only to head back into lockdown.

But he said that it was necessary and that he is also planning on tripling the number of vaccinations that Italy is currently doing. They are currently vaccinating about 170,000 a day. And the prime minister wants to expand and accelerate that vaccination program; obviously, a very important thing for Italy to be doing right now.

BRUNHUBER: Thank you so much, Delia Gallagher. New York's governor is rejecting all suggestions that he should resign

following a flurry of accusations of sexual harassment, but it is the members and leaders of his own party that are now calling the loudest for him to step down. Those details straight ahead.

Plus, the City of Minneapolis agrees to compensate the family of George Floyd over his death in police custody and offers one of the biggest cash settlements ever paid. We'll have those stories and more when we return.





BRUNHUBER: In a news conference Friday, New York governor Andrew Cuomo denied allegations of sexual harassment and called on investigators to do their work. But both state senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer now say that Cuomo should step aside.

There are also questions about the handling of data on nursing home deaths. Brynn Gingras has 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.


BRUNHUBER: The family of George Floyd has reached a $27 million settlement with the City of Minneapolis over Floyd's tragic death last year while in police custody. It is one of the largest such settlements ever paid. About half a million will be used for the memorial that marks where Floyd died while a police officer knelt on his neck.

After the settlement was announced, Floyd's brother said that he was deeply grateful for the support his family has received.


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.


FLOYD: And I'd like to thank everyone for that. Thank you all so much. May George live in power.


BRUNHUBER: Floyd died last year on Memorial Day. The graphic circumstances of his death at the hands of police sparked weeks of protests and unrest, all rallying around the message, Black Lives Matter. Attorney Benjamin Crump said the large cash settlement shows that the message is finally being heard.


BENJAMIN CRUMP, ATTORNEY: When you have the city leadership and Mayor Frey agreeing to pay the family $27 million, it speaks to the fact as when we met with President Biden, we said, it's not just enough to say America says that George Floyd life matters. They have to demonstrate that George Floyd life matters by our actions.

And I believe the city leadership of Minneapolis demonstrated that George Floyd life matters and that Black Lives Matter to them.


BRUNHUBER: The settlement comes as jury selection is underway in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, the former officer seen pressing his knee into Floyd's neck for nearly eight minutes.

The pandemic is taking a toll on children's ability to learn. But that might only be part of it. We'll take a look at the devastating effect it could have on their physical and mental health. Stay with us.





BRUNHUBER: Welcome back to all of you watching here in the United States, Canada and around the world. During the past year, we've heard stories from parents and educators

concerned about the toll remote learning is taking on their children. But it is not just their education.

Compared to the year before, emergency room visits by children for mental health issues were up by double digits since last April of last year. And that has experts concerned about children's physical and mental well-being.


LAURA ROSS, FIVE FORKS MIDDLE SCHOOL: I've seen increased anxiety, I've, you know, definitely seen more sadness, maybe depression. And our students need so much emotional social support.

I'm in a middle school, so that social connection is so important for them at that age. It is really how they start to understand themselves in the world. And so, getting them reconnected with peers and building that community again is something that we have to focus on.

DR. ALICE KUO, UCLA: From a physical perspective, many of us are seeing tremendous amounts of weight gain because of lack of physical activity. The American Heart Association recommends 60 minutes a day of vigorous physical activity for school aged children.

And during the pandemic, many are not receiving that. So, I have seen children as young as 8, 9, 10 years old, gain 30, 40, even 50 pounds during this pandemic. This will have detrimental effects on their cardiovascular outcomes further down the line.


BRUNHUBER: Parents of school aged children say they are fed up with the schools in their area still being closed. And now some are expressing outrage with lawsuits. Bianna Golodryga spoke with those getting their schools reopened.


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.

KERI AVELLINI DONOHUE, ATTORNEY: It's maddening 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.


GOLODRYGA (voice-over): 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.


BRUNHUBER: Miguel Cardona has been the U.S. Education Secretary for less than two weeks but already he's facing a monumental task in trying to reopen all public schools without jeopardizing public health. He says one big challenge is trying to keep students engaged until classrooms can reopen safely. He spoke earlier with our Jake Tapper.


MIGUEL CARDONA, U.S. EDUCATION SECRETARY: our students have worked twice as hard, as you saw in that segment earlier, trying to stay engaged.

And if we do provide summer opportunities, which I think are critically important, we need to make sure that they're not more of the same. We need to make sure that our after-school programming, our summer experiences, are enriching experiences where students are getting out, visiting museums, doing things to build community, and learning in the process.

So, I do think we should have summer opportunities for our students to engage in learning.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: When do you think, in this country, there will be an opportunity for all schools to offer five-day-a-week in-person education?

When will that be?

Will that be in the fall?

Will that be not until 2022?

Give us an idea of what you're thinking.

CARDONA: Jake, as soon as possible. And I'd like to think that in many places, we can do that this spring.

I know schools that are functioning all day, every day, five days a week, for all students currently. And we need to continue to grow and make sure that we're giving students an opportunity to be in school as much as possible.

There is no substitute for in-person learning. So, my biggest priority is making sure that we're doing everything we can to move from remote learning to in-person learning.


BRUNHUBER: And countries around the world are struggling to bring students back into the classroom. Here is how two countries are tackling that challenge.


ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Isa Soares, in London, where Prime Minister Boris Johnson has made the opening of schools the first stage in his cautious four-step roadmap out of lockdown. But the reality looks very different for students returning.

Very strict coronavirus rules, from one-way corridors, to hand sanitizing stations, to face coverings that have to be worn at school and in classes by students as well as teachers. They'll also have to have regular rapid coronavirus tests.

The plan here, say authorities, is to be able to track and isolate those pupils, who are asymptomatic, to make sure that doesn't have an impact on England's infection rates.

SAM KILEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Sam Kiley, in the Cliffs Spring School, in North Tel Aviv. Now, there are about 500 children here, all of whom are being accommodated in the school. There is no distance learning for the kids here.

It is different for other children around the country. There's 2.4 million children trying to get back into school. If they're in areas, where the infection rates are high, they can't do it. But here, and in other areas of Israel, where the infection rates are

relatively low, they're able to get at least some of the children back, others in distance learning, and all of the teachers have been vaccinated.


BRUNHUBER: The U.S. has given Yemen Houthi rebels a cease-fire.

But is there a chance of ending the civil war?


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Do you trust America to take forward negotiations to bring peace here in Yemen?

BRUNHUBER (voice-over): Coming up, Nima Elbagir will speak with a top Houthi official about what it will take to stop the conflict and the humanitarian catastrophe it has brought.






BRUNHUBER: Witnesses in Myanmar tell CNN that two people were killed in Mandalay when police fired weapons during a street protest. Two others were killed during a protest at a police station late Friday reportedly.

The U.N. estimates at least 80 civilians have died so far in the recent crackdown. The ongoing violence has prompted the Biden administration to offer temporary sanctuary to people from Myanmar who are already in the U.S.

The United States says that it will be restoring humanitarian aid to northern Yemen, an area largely under the control of the Houthi rebels. It comes as the country is on the verge of the biggest famine in modern history. The head of the World Food Programme told the United Nations he was frustrated by 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) BRUNHUBER: The director also said that he spoke with Houthi leadership about a nationwide cease-fire plan that the U.S. presented a number of days ago. He says an agreement is imperative to prevent more deaths.

In an exclusive interview, a senior Houthi official sat down with CNN in Yemen. He told our Nima Elbagir that the Saudi-led coalition is responsible for the humanitarian crisis in Yemen and denied that the Houthis are responsible for worsening conditions east of the capital.


ELBAGIR: Do you trust America to take forward negotiations to bring peace here in Yemen?

MOHAMMED ALI AL-HOUTHI, SENIOR HOUTHI OFFICIAL (through translator): Today, America is seen as a murderer by whole of the Middle East and Islamic world and most of the countries that it has reached. We consider America as the murderer of our people.

First of all, President Biden were a partner of President Obama. And during the time, they declared they would join the coalition against our country.

They also agreed and gave the green light for the coalition to perpetrate the killing in our country. Trust is created by actions, not words. Trust must come about as a result of decisions. So far, we have not seen any decisions.

ELBAGIR: What is your responsibility for the humanitarian crisis? There are half a million displaced people within that city while the fighting is happening on and the offensive continues?

AL-HOUTHI (through translator): The humanitarian crisis involves 18 to 19 million, all who are on the areas under our control, because they are suffering because of the shortage of water, shortage of medication and shortage of food.


AL-HOUTHI (through translator): And they are suffering from the suffocating and restricting blockade. Sick people are dying here every day.

With regard to the children, according to statements from certain reputable organization, a child dies in Yemen every five or 10 minutes as a result of the suffocating blockade.

ELBAGIR: In terms of the peace process, you said that so far, the American administration has not actually done anything, practically, it hasn't come forward with a plan, it hasn't come forward with any points to bring about a resolution to this conflict.

If they did come to you with key points, would you be willing to go back to the negotiating table?

AL-HOUTHI (through translator): We're always pro-peace, I have suggested and presented many initiatives to the Republic of Yemen. We have requested that the shelling on us stops, that the shelling on them stops and the blockade be lifted. We asked for the fight to cease on all fronts but they refuse to stop it.


BRUNHUBER: Allegations of racism are now swirling around the British royal family. When we come back, we'll talk to a British American broadcaster about what Harry and Meghan's interview made her realize. Stay with us.





BRUNHUBER: Much of the world is still gripped by Oprah's bombshell interview with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Now a YouGov survey reveals how Britons and Americans reacted to it. And no surprise, the gulf between them is enormous: 20 percent of Americans surveyed thought the interview was inappropriate.

But in the U.K., that number jumps to 47 percent. Also, three in five Americans surveyed believe that Meghan's race played a role in how other members of the royal family treated her. But those numbers don't differentiate between the ethnic backgrounds of those questioned. So it's a challenge to understand the full fallout from those allegations of racism.

I talked with Bonnie Greer, a British American author, who she says an illusion about the U.K. has been broken.


BONNIE GREER, BROADCAST JOURNALIST: It's caused a great deal of consternation here. People are running all over the place.

But they don't really grasp how deeply this family is embedded in their own consciousness, in their own lives. So it's a matter of people who decide they want to blame the family and people deciding that they want to exonerate the family.

But it's all this very deeply personal stuff. And I think that's the crisis here, more than the family itself.

BRUNHUBER: I mean, this is one of those stories where people have literally stopped me on the street here in Atlanta to talk about it. The reaction in the U.K. to the allegations of racism seem to be mainly, you know, shock and surprise.

But many people here I've spoken to, particularly African Americans, are surprised so many people are surprised.

I mean, has the reaction been similar among people of color there?

GREER: Absolutely. And, I mean, that's divided, too, because people of color here are British, too. So there's a divide running down that as well.

I've met members of the royal family and, I mean, you know, for a couple of minutes or whatever, they didn't seem racist to me.

But -- and that's what a lot of Black British people are saying, who have met them or worked with them. But they still exist on the same divide. The issue becomes, after this queen passes, if there will be a commonwealth, particularly among the countries of color. So that is going to be interesting, too.


BRUNHUBER: Queen Elizabeth has made her first appearance since that explosive interview with Prince Harry and Meghan. Anna Stewart is joining me.

So, take us through the latest.

The queen, I understand, back at work.

ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, isn't it interesting the palace released this video of the queen back to business.

And the queen is lighthearted. You get the impression that she isn't dealing with, of course, a huge royal rift at home. And don't forget, her husband, Prince Philip has been in the hospital for well over three weeks and we have not had any update on his health for over a week.

And we heard from the queen, where she said, amongst other things, that they would handle the issues that were taken very seriously but they would handle it privately. That is kind of the approach that they are going for.

Although Prince William did appear to break with that when he answered a question, saying that they are not a racist family. It has been a very busy week. And there were so many bombshells in that interview that we really haven't had the time to unpick, including the secret wedding. Have a watch.


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.


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

OPRAH WINFREY, ACTOR AND ACTIVIST: Ahh. 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?

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.


STEWART (voice-over): 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: Ultimately the royal wedding was a spectacular occasion, an opportunity for the world to celebrate the union of two people, whether or not they got married a few days before and I'm not sure that we'll ever have a sort of, I don't know, a decisive answer on that.

Now other bombshells that were dropped -- and there are so many that can't be ignored -- the fallout when it comes to the debate on racism and mental health in the U.K. is raging on.

And we've seen some high profile exits this week, not least Piers Morgan from ITV. He had to leave after many complaints after he portrayed the interview of particularly Meghan.

I think this week has been one that will go down in royal history. We'll never forget it and I suspect that it will make, one day in the future, a jam-packed episode of "The Crown."

BRUNHUBER: Yes, exactly. Well said. Thank you so much, Anna Stewart, appreciate it.

That wraps this hour of CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Kim Brunhuber. For international viewers, "CONNECTING AFRICA" is next. For those in the U.S., "NEW DAY" is just ahead.