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Health Experts Urge Caution As Crowds Pack Spring Break Getaways; Duke University Issues Stay In Place Order For Undergrads All Week; Biden Set To Tour States To Tout His COVID Relief Package; Top Democrats Question Whether NY Gov. Cuomo Can Lead; Organizers Say They Have Two-Million-Plus Signatures Needed To Trigger Recall Of California Governor Newsom; U.S. COVID Cases Decline As The Virus Spikes In Europe And Brazil; London Police Chief Called To Resign Over Violent Vigil Response. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired March 14, 2021 - 14:00   ET




FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me this Sunday. I'm Fredericka Whitfield.

Signs of hope today as vaccinations are ramping up across the country. A record three million vaccines administered yesterday alone. Nearly 70 million Americans have gotten at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, which means one out of five Americans has received a shot. This as those $1,400 stimulus checks are starting to hit bank accounts.

But despite the progress being made, thousands of people are traveling and attending spring break events across the country. Many not wearing masks, no protection. Masks and social distancing don't seem to be priorities.

And health officials are warning of the potential consequences, saying the next few weeks will be critical in determining if we'll see another surge.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR ALLERGIES AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Even though the numbers have gone down, over the last couple of weeks they've plateaued. and when you see a plateau at a level as high as 60,000 cases a day, that is a very vulnerable time to have a surge to go back up.

We can avoid that, if we continue to vaccinate people, get more and more protection without all of a sudden pulling back on public health measures.


WHITFIELD: All right. Spring break for many means Florida is a state that is seeing an influx of people soaking in the sun despite those warnings. CNN's Natasha Chen is in Miami Beach. Natasha, what are you seeing there. And how are local officials reacting to the crowds?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well Fred, in talking to the people who are walking on Ocean Drive behind us, they're not just escaping colder weather, they're also telling us, in some cases, they're escaping more stringent COVID restrictions.

They say that there are people here who are more ready to have a good time and because of Florida's state rules, the local jurisdiction can't actually cite anyone for not wearing a mask, even though there's a requirement to wear one in public here.

So we're talking to spring breakers who say that they're really here to relax. We spoke to one person who is down here from Massachusetts for the next two weeks.


DAVID LAVALLE, ON SPRING BREAK: I already had COVID once so I'm not worried about it. I'd just be concerned for like other people's safeties that's why I would wear a mask in places. But personally, I'm not really worried about it. I don't like wearing a mask but, yes.

CHEN (on camera): do you feel like other people are doing their part to keep everybody safe while having fun?

LAVALLE: Not really, to be honest. Around here it seems like it's not really a concern.

CHEN: But that doesn't bother you either?



CHEN: and just a few blocks away from where I'm standing on Friday night, Miami beach police said there was a large crowd. They were trying to disperse. They got unruly and disorderly.

Two officers in that incident were injured and sent to the hospital. Miami Beach police tweeted that last night, Saturday night, they made 30 arrests here.

And the city tells me that throughout the whole weekend, there have likely been about a hundred arrests now. Issues that they typically deal with, with spring break tourists but now with COVID-19, the policing becomes twice as hard, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Still pretty tenuous situation in so many parts.

Natasha Chen, thanks so much.

All right. So currently in the U.S., there are three vaccines available and there soon may be a fourth as AstraZeneca is going to apply within the next few weeks for emergency use authorization.

But a handful of countries are taking precautions against that, partially or fully suspending the use of AstraZeneca's COVID vaccine, following reports of patients developing blood clots after being vaccinated in Norway.

Ireland is the latest nation announcing today that it is halting the use of AstraZeneca's vaccine out of an abundance of caution. AstraZeneca says it fully supports the ongoing investigation and maintains its vaccine is safe.

Let's bring in Dr. Ashish Jha, the Dean of the Brown University School of Public Health. Dr. Jha, so good to see you.


WHITFIELD: So AstraZeneca, it wants to apply for emergency use authorization here in the U.S. But with what is taking place overseas, how will that impair the road ahead for AstraZeneca?


We don't know. We don't know what their U.S. data will look like that they will present to the FDA. The U.S. FDA is probably the toughest, most rigorous regulatory bodies. They're going to go through all of that data. They're going to look at the data from Europe.

You know, my bottom line on this is that millions and millions of people have been vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccines and these clots, to the extent that they're associated at all are pretty infrequent. So we have to sort this out but I'm not worried that it's going to end up being a major problem.

WHITFIELD: Ok. Let's talk about spring breakers. There's a lot of travel taking place right now. Many people in coastal communities -- you predicted that life could return to normal, you know, very soon as have a lot of experts. And that we're going to see coronavirus hospitalizations and deaths plummet in the coming weeks and months.

Nearly seven million people have boarded airplanes over the last six days despite warnings against travel. So could we see the impact of this increase in travel affect the case numbers? And kind of get in the way of a lot of optimism that had been expressed?

DR. JHA: Yes, unfortunately right now the problem is that a majority of Americans who are high risk from complications from this virus, people who are older, people who are younger but might have chronic diseases, a majority of those high-risk people have not yet been fully vaccinated. And that leaves a lot of people vulnerable.

So what will happen, what we saw last year with spring break, we've seen ins other instances, a lot of these young people get together and many of them will get infected and many of them may feel fine or have mild symptoms but they're going to pass it on to people who are high risk.

This is why we really have to be careful right now. Fred, we're probably four to six weeks away from having all the high-risk people vaccinated. We've got to hold tight until then.

WHITFIELD: Four weeks away from high-risk people being vaccinated but then if you have spring break this week and in the next week, what kind of timeline are we talking about, you know, where there could be another surge as a result of so many people congregating?

DR. JHA: Yes, we've typically seen a couple of weeks after the events of this week coming up to spring break, I expect that in two to three weeks we're going to see the effects of that.

Now my hope is that it's not going to be a big bump because again, we are doing a good job vaccinating a lot of people. But there's still so many vulnerable people out there that I do think it's irresponsible to have big spring break events right now.

I think, again we're so close to that finish line. I wish we could hold on a little longer.

WHITFIELD: All right. The CDC data showing that at least one in five Americans have now received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. You had been calling for the U.S. to delay second shots in order to get more shots in arms as quickly as possible. Are you satisfied with the progress?

DR. JHA: Yes. You know, that was -- I called for that, a few of us called for that back in early January when we really had a shortage. We're in a much better place now.

If we had done that, I think we would have saved a lot of lives. A lot of people have got infected and died in the last couple of months who we could have potentially saved.

But at this moment, given all the vaccines that are coming, the strategy is just got to be go, go, go with, you know, vaccinating more people. And I think we can do that and I think we're really close to that finish line where, again, a large chunk of high-risk folks have gotten vaccinated.

WHITFIELD: Right. And the resounding message right now if it's available to you, go ahead and get it. Don't wait.

All right. Dr. Ashish Jha, thanks so much. Good to see you. Stay well.

DR. JHA: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right. One university is already seeing another surge of COVID cases. Duke University is now asking all undergrads to stay in place through next Sunday. School officials say 180 students are in isolation following positive tests while another 200 are in quarantine based on contact tracing. That's the largest one week total on campus since the pandemic began over a year ago.

Joining me right now to talk about all of this, the editor in chief of Duke's student-run newspaper, "The Chronicle", Matthew Griffin. Matthew, so good to see you. So Duke does not have and has not had spring break this year, right? I

mean that's what's different because of this pandemic. So what might be behind this spike? What is being said?

MATTHEW GRIFFIN, EDITOR IN CHIEF, DUKE UNIVERSITY'S "THE CHRONICLE": Yes, so we don't have a full spring break. The last week we had Tuesday and Wednesday off of class and the reason that that was sort of a short break in the middle of the week was both that the semester was condensed and to try to discourage travel.


GRIFFIN: I think it's likely that some students did travel. Duke has put new restrictions in place on students who do including a mandatory sequester period until you have two negative coronavirus tests. So that's certainly one reason we could be seeing it this week.

But what Duke has been talking about a lot in official communications is fraternity rush. We saw them say middle of last week that there had been a big spike in cases and that many of them were associated with rush for the Durham Interfraternity Council, which is a group that just formed of fraternities who have broken formal ties with Duke in order to not have to follow some new restrictions Duke was putting in place on the rush processes.

And so Duke has said that these groups held in-person rush events and that that has contributed to some of the surge in cases. You saw them mentioning some of that again just last night saying selective within group recruitment was related to having to put these new restrictions in place.

WHITFIELD: I see. So it's a host of things. So then let's talk about these restrictions, these stay at home orders. How is that sitting with the student body?

GRIFFIN: Yes. So what Duke has done is they put rules on when on- campus students can leave their rooms. When off-campus students can come to campus. How students can gather. And I think students generally think that these rules are reasonable. That it's an important step to take to protect public health.

Students have really expressed, though, that they're frustrated with the people who broke Duke's COVID protocols in order -- and contributed to the spike in cases that made this necessary.

And also we heard some frustration last night about the speed at which this kind of came down from the administration of students saying they felt kind of blindsided by this happening. I mean, we had known things were not great with the COVID situation but this felt sudden to a lot of people.

WHITFIELD: So, has it been the feeling of the majority of student body has respected, you know, restrictions? Most people have been safe? I mean, overall do you feel like everyone has been, you know, responsible and safe about all the restrictions? GRIFFIN: Yes, that's the sense I've gotten. I mean, we had several

weeks of really low cases leading up to this. We had a pretty successful fall semester after some big gatherings that sort of initially took place at the beginning.

And I do think we wouldn't have made it this far without those students respecting Duke's rules and trying to keep the community safe, yes.

WHITFIELD: So just ahead of March Madness, Duke is always a major player. And now with the stay at home orders in place, with overall restrictions, how is the student body approaching what typically is a time to get together, gather, celebrate, whether they're at a game or whether they're watching it on TV?

GRIFFIN: Yes, I mean, that's been one of the most sad parts of this season is, you know, just watching with a couple of friends instead of in big groups or in Cameron Indoor Stadium. And so there definitely has been a lot of the hype has been sucked out of the season, but, you know, it's always fun to watch basketball.

It was really crushing when we had to pull out of the ACC tournament on Thursday. As we understand it, we could still play in the NCAA tournament, if we were invited to go. But that's looking pretty unlikely because we had to skip the rest of the ACC tournament.

WHITFIELD: Yes. So now you just have to root for somebody else.


WHITFIELD: Delicately.

GRIFFIN: Yes. I'm picking Gonzaga, I think.

WHITFIELD: Ok. Very good. All right.

Matthew Griffin, thank you so much. All the best to you, of "The Chronical at Duke University.

GRIFFIN: Thank you. You too.

All right. Still ahead, Biden declares help is here as he prepares to hit the road to push his coronavirus relief package to several states. His strategy to build support, next.

Plus, a fall from grace for two once-beloved governors. How early praise over the pandemic for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and California Governor Newsom has virtually disappeared.

And crowds of protesters gather outside of London's police headquarters after officers crack down on a vigil for a woman who had been murdered. Details straight ahead.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WHITFIELD: President Biden is set to hit the road to tout the passage of his $1.9 trillion COVID relief package this week. The president's tour comes as stimulus checks begin rolling into bank accounts of Americans.

Our correspondents are covering angle. CNN's Suzanne Malveaux joins me from Capitol Hill with more on what is next on the legislative agenda. And CNN White House correspondent Arlette Saenz is traveling with the president in Wilmington, Delaware.

So, Arlette, you first. What are you learning about the tour this week?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, the White House will essentially be engaging in this full court press as they try to promote this COVID relief package across the country.

So you will see the president, the vice president, and others deploy to sell the elements of this plan. From those $1,400 stimulus checks to the child tax credit and unemployment benefits.

And take a listen to how the president describes their mission for the coming weeks.


Joe Biden, President of the United States: In the coming weeks Jill and I, and Kamala and Doug, and our cabinet, with all of you, members of Congress, 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 and how help is here for them.


SAENZ: So they want to emphasize to Americans exactly what they will be receiving from this plan. And over the course of the next few weeks, the president and vice president and their spouses will be fanning out across the country.


SAENZ: If you take a look of the map of where they are going, there is Pennsylvania where the president will be on Tuesday. Vice President Harris is heading out west on her first solo trip as vice president. She'll be in Nevada tomorrow, in Colorado on Tuesday.

And then later in the week, the two will link up down in the state of Georgia. Now, five of those states that they will be traveling to this week also have competitive senate races coming up in 2022.

So part of this is also trying to sell this package looking ahead to the midterms. Even though no Republicans supported this measure up on Capitol Hill, the bill does have popular support across the country when you look at polling. So the Biden administration wants to reinforce to Americans what exactly they will be getting from this bill. Another big question is implementation. The White House has said they will appoint someone to lead the oversight of implementing this plan. Those details could come this week, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Arlette, thank you so much.

Suzanne, Republican Senator John Barrasso is calling for bipartisanship as lawmakers on Capitol Hill turn their attention to infrastructure this week. Not one Republican voted for Biden's relief deal. Will infrastructure be any different?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's going to have to be different, Fred. There really is a sobering reality among Democratic lawmakers that for the COVID relief bill there was definitely a sense of urgency here so they pushed it through. But they're going to have to negotiate more, they're going to have to comprise more. And yes, they will need Republican support to get infrastructure through.

There are a number of big challenges and they realize this is going to take weeks to actually unfold. The first thing is what is going to be in the infrastructure bill, there's already debate within the Democratic party itself. Will they focus more strictly on building roads, bridges, and broadband?

That's something that moderates as well as some Republicans will get on board with. Those who represent districts of fossil fuel or gas industries.

Or will they focus on climate change, clean energy policies? That is something that's more the progressives are looking to push for than infrastructure.

Secondly, how is it going to be paid for? Obviously, the price tag is going to be in the trillions of dollars. We have heard from Majority Whip Jim Clyburn who rejected the idea of a gas tax but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was asked about it this morning, how would they pay for such a thing? Could they raise taxes? She demurred and said potentially that everything was on the table.

And then finally, Fred, how is this bill going to get through the Senate? That is really the critical battle where that is going to play out. Are they going to be able to break the filibuster -- the 60 votes necessary to push it through as normal? Or will they use the process of budget reconciliation? Just a simple majority 51 votes to do that, which would require the senate parliamentary to jump in and to approve all the provisions inside of this massive bill.

So these are things that are going to take weeks. Democratic law makers are looking at potentially September to roll out an infrastructure bill because they know there's going to be a lot of behind the scenes negotiations, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Suzanne Malveaux and Arlette Saenz, thanks to both of you. Appreciate it.

All right. Still ahead, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo fighting to stay in office as more of his former allies question whether he can lead effectively. We're live with the latest next.



WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back.

A defiant Governor Andrew Cuomo is trying to plot his political survival as allegations of misconduct and inappropriate behavior threaten to derail his career.

And this morning the top two Democrats in Congress are weighing in.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: People have to look inside themselves and say, and Governor Cuomo also -- how effective is their leadership in leading the state under the circumstances that are there. But I do think that the women deserve to hear the result of these investigations as does the governor.

SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Governor Cuomo lost the confidence of his governing partners and of so many New Yorkers. So for the good of the state, he should resign.


WHITFIELD: Athena Jones is at the state Capitol in Albany.

So Athena, the governor denies the allegations, you know, saying he has no intention of resigning. What is giving him confidence that he can survive this?

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi Fred, that's right. Governor Cuomo has said repeatedly that he is not going to resign and he has repeatedly urged the public to wait for these investigations, multiple investigations now. Two of them just in the issues of sexual harassment and misconduct, these allegations against him.

He wants the public to wait for those to play out, to wait for the facts. And he said over and over again politics did not elect me to office. The people of the state of New York elected me to office.

And so I'm going to continue to do the work of the people and for the people of the state of New York. And he also was asked at a couple of press conferences recently whether all of this is too much of a distraction.

And he argued, look, I've handled distractions before. You know, we had to deal with negotiating the budget in the midst of the -- in the height of the pandemic in New York last year. So certainly, I can still negotiate the budget this year.

He said, you know, there have been investigations that lasted years long years -- years in the past and we've been able to carry-on. That is how government works. Government, you keep handling multiple issues. You walk and chew gum at the same time.

But look, as you said, he has lost the support of a majority of New York's congressional delegation, of prominent names. And now two New York senators, you just heard from Senator Schumer, the Senate Majority Leader and also Kirsten Gillibrand, New York's second senator both coming out saying that the governor should resign on Friday.


JONES: And now "The New York Times" in an editorial is asking whether he can continue to lead. They say look, they say, "The governor has jeopardized the publics' trust at the worst possible moment. At this point, it is hard to see how he can do the publics'' important business without political allies or public confidence.

So, that is the theme we're hearing over and over again, that the governor just doesn't have enough allies and friends. People don't think he's going to be able to stick this out. bit we'll have to see. He does not look like he's going to resign. We'll have to see what happens -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Athena Jones in Albany, thank you so much.

So, on the other side of the country, another once-celebrated governor is feeling heat. Organizers looking to recall California's Gavin Newsom now say they have more than enough signatures, over 2 million. They have until Wednesday to keep taking names.

Let's go to Paul Vercammen now in Los Angeles.

So, Paul, much of this anger at the governor stems from his COVID response, which early on was celebrated. What happened? And what's about to happen?

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, a myriad of factors and many of them are economic and we should know that midnight tonight, there's tradition, it's Los Angeles restaurant, Casa Vega, is going to be able to reopen for indoor dining, 25 percent capacity, and it's been a long ordeal for many of these businesses.

So, we're going to bring in Christy Vega. She is the owner of this restaurant. Let me just get over here on the side, and you'll give us a quick tour.

You've heard that we're talking about what's happened to your businesses during the pandemic.


VERCAMMEN: How much did you lose in terms of profits? How much did you lose in terms of furloughing employees?

VEGA: Business and profits went down 90 percent as soon as they shut us down. We furloughed 98 percent of staff, unfortunately, when that happened.

VERCAMMEN: Sorry to hear that.

VEGA: Yes.

VERCAMMEN: We should note, Casa Vegas is always had this sort of secret motif where the lightning here looks like partial eclipse of the sun.

VEGA: It is, it is. It's very old school.

VERCAMMEN: So, now to the seriousness of the governor's approval, you're a Democrat.

VEGA: Yes.

VERCAMMEN: You think the governor should be recalled? Why?

VEGA: Absolutely, because he's handled the pandemic awfully. There's other states that have had the same numbers as California and they did not shut down their small businesses and kill their economy. So, I don't believe the massive shut downs did anything, frankly, for the numbers.

VERCAMMEN: And what would you to some of those as well, wait a minute, this is just an extreme right attempt to get the governor out of office?

VEGA: No. I think that if you talk to people in California, right, left, moderates, everybody is upset with the way Newsom has handled this. And they're just out of touch. These politicians don't live in their same reality. They get their full pay, they didn't have to worry about how to pay their Christmas trees or Thanksgiving meals. And, unfortunately, all my workers did, and I think they don't understand.

VERCAMMEN: Yeah. As you look over your right shoulder, though, because of Newsom and others, you're going to be able to open up this booth for first time in months this is where Tarantino and Brad Pitt sat once upon a time in America. What does it mean to you that, finally, you'll be able to tell customers, including 80 years old that they no longer have to eat outside, they can come back inside?

VEGA: It means everything. It's the first step getting into normalcy and we're so excited to be able to have this opportunity and we hope that the state doesn't yank it from us again. But to have customers come back, like you said, that have been here, coming here for decades, six decades. And be able to sit where they love means everything in the world to us.

VERCAMMAN: And your father Raphael Ray started this. Just super quick, we're sorry for your loss.

VEGA: Thank you.

VERCAMMEN: I know you lost him to COVID-19. And we're glad to hear that you're coming back online, if you will, and celebrating here at Casa Vega.

VEGA: Exactly. We're doing it for him.

VERCAMMEN: Great. Thank you so much, Christy.

VEGA: Thank you.

VERCAMMEN: There's perspective, Fred, from a California restaurant owner, one of these L.A. icons, Casa Vega reopening as well as many other restaurants throughout California for indoor dining for the first time in a long time. Back to you.


All right. You've got all the threads in there. Paul Vercammen, thank you so much.

All right. Next parts of the world now imposing new restrictions as health officials fear a surge ahead of Easter weekend. We're live in Italy, straight ahead.

And winter storms are threatening more than 7 million people. 2,000 flights have been cancelled and now, a high avalanche warning has just been issued in Colorado.

Jennifer Gray is in the weather center with the latest.

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hi, Fred. That's right. We do have avalanche warning for that area shaded in red. That's mainly for the Front Range and those back country ski areas. Of course, be very careful. Blizzard warnings in effect, as well.

We have the low that has been sitting over Colorado stationary all up- and-down. I-25 has been relentless snowfall through Denver, all the way up to Wyoming. So, we are now able to measure the snow in feet, about 2.5 feet of snow for portions of Wyoming and to Colorado. About a foot of snow and it's still falling.


Of course, we'll be right back after the break.


WHITFIELD: While the COVID vaccination rate in the U.S. is accelerating and cases are on the decline, it's a much different story in some parts of Europe and South America.

Let's check in with some of our international correspondents around the globe.



More than a third of European countries have now partially or fully suspended AstraZeneca vaccinations. Ireland becoming the latest E.U. member state to do so on Sunday after multiple reports of patients developing blood clots post inoculation. One vaccine recipient died in Austria and another in Denmark which prompted several countries to hit pause pending an investigation.

This is precautionary. There's no evidence that the deaths were caused by the vaccine. A majority of European countries including France, Germany, and Spain are using it, and the European Medicines Agency is looking into the situation does not recommend suspending AstraZeneca vaccinations.


As to the vaccine-maker, AstraZeneca says its product was extensively tested in clinical trials and is well-tolerated.

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Matt Rivers in Sao Paulo, Brazil, just one of many Brazilian states reeling during what are unquestionably the worst days of this country's pandemic so far.

Multiple single day coronavirus death records have been recorded in just the last week alone. There's not a lot of good news on the horizon, it would seem, when you look at hospital occupancy rates, specifically in intensive care units.

Of Brazil's 26 states, 23 states are reporting ICU occupancy rates of at least 80 percent or higher, 11 of them are at 90 percent or higher. This at the same time as the state of Rio de Janeiro was forced to temporarily suspend its vaccination campaign due to low vaccine supply.


Italians are getting ready to head into another lockdown on Monday. Half of Italy's 20 regions will be on full lockdown. That includes cities like Rome, Milan, and Venice. Easter weekend, we'll see a national lockdown.

Now all though this is not yet an emergency situation in Italy, the hospitals are still managing. They are seeing their numbers of daily cases rise. They are particularly concerned about variants increasing the rate of transmission.

So, the Prime Minister Mario Draghi saying these measures are necessary to avoid a further deterioration. The prime minister is also promising to accelerate the vaccination program and they aim to have all adult Italians vaccinated by the summer.


WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks to our international correspondents.

For more on the latest lockdown in Italy now, let's bring in CNN producer Antonia Mortensen in Milan.

Antonia, so good to see you. I mean, it was right about this time last year when we were talking

fairly regularly in Italy when it was in its lockdown and then you had just had your baby and one of your only allowances to leave your home during that lockdown was to visit your baby in the hospital. How are you and the family doing?

ANTONIA MORTENSEN, CNN PRODUCER: So good to see you again, Fred.

We're good. We -- the baby -- my daughter is actually home. We had quite a rough time. She was in the ICU for six months. And, of course, it was during the lockdown, so that was a really, really tough period for us.

Luckily, you know, she's doing much better. She's still under care at home here, medical care. She's doing a lot better and very, very happy about that.

WHITFIELD: Very relieved for you and the family.

MORTENSEN: Yeah. And the hospital staff were amazing battling through this horrific period in this country. And we have to give them so much credit for everything they've done for us as well.

WHITFIELD: Oh, amazing. I know all hands were on deck. So now it's almost like a repeat performance, right?

You have a lockdown in place now. How are people responding to that? I mean, do people feel like it's, you know, one step back? A couple of steps back? Or is it simply, you know, everyone accepting it's necessary right now?

MORTENSEN: Look, I think -- I think there's a lot of fatigue. I think people felt like we had passed the worse so we were closer to the end. And with this new lockdown coming in, starting tomorrow with most of the country going into the toughest restrictions, it just feels like there's no end in sight again. I think that's getting to people and really getting them down. The people I speak to are like, God, you know, here we're going to have another lockdown again.

But we thought we had, you know, we had passed over the worse. I think people are just feeling really hopeless.

WHITFIELD: Oh, gosh.

And is there any -- is there any reasoning as to why? I mean, why -- why in Italy do you feel like you're having to be in this position again? What transpired? What are the experts saying about what put you in this place again?

MORTENSEN: Well, we were in a position that where the rest of Europe a couple of months ago and the rest of Europe just after -- after the Christmas holidays or the rest of Europe was locking down, you know, the restrictions here were being eased because the infection rate was, at that time, it seemed like it was under control. And the vaccination process had started. So, you know, it was quite good then. So, the restrictions were eased

and people are going about daily business a lot more freely than they were I would say this time last year. However, then, according to the experts and what we've seen is that, you know, the variant, the U.K. variant and the other variants had a big impact on the number of cases rising again.


So the fact that, like, with the more infections spreading, like, the infection curve has gone up. There's a direct correlation, according to the experts, and, of course, the vaccination process is not as fast as anyone expected. You know, this is a country of over 60 million people now. Right now, 6 million doses have been administered.

And that means that only 2 million people out of 60 million have been vaccinated up to this point.

WHITFIELD: Oh my goodness.

MORTENSEN: So according to experts, you know, those are the two main factors, which have got us to this place again.

WHITFIELD: So there's that impact on people's personal welfare and then there's the economic impact that all this has made.


WHITFIELD: You have looked extensively into what it has done to livelihoods, big business. Explain.

MORTENSEN: You know I think going back to, like, we have been playing ping-pong here. You know, the restrictions being lifted for one month and put back in. I think for the government, it's been a very challenging balancing act between protecting citizens' health and reviving the country's economy.

You know, while the human cost has been hard hit, and, you know, you can't forget over 100,000 people have lost their lives since the beginning of the pandemic. On a daily basis, for months on end, we've seen more than 300 people dying every day. And that economic cost is also really high.

According to the bank of Italy to a recent survey that they did, almost half -- more than half of families had lost income here. So it's speaking to people I know businesses and my friends are -- it's been tough for them because while in the periods where the government has, you know, lifted restrictions and allowed businesses to reopen, they've managed it get some of their business back.

However, as soon as the restrictions are put in, a lot of them like can't work anymore.

WHITFIELD: Yeah, a new setback.

MORTENSEN: And, I mean, what does it mean for the everyday person? It means that families are really some families are struggling. And we visited some welfare centers here and that were mainly visited by migrants before the pandemic. And now, what you're seeing young people and families visiting for the first time, Italian families who are asking for help. It's the first time ever they've had to do that.

WHITFIELD: Yeah. It was already going to be a long road to recovery and now it's that much longer.

Antonia Mortensen, thank you so much. Best to you and the family.

MORTENSEN: Thank you very much.

WHITFIELD: And we'll be right back.



WHITFIELD: In London, a peaceful vigil for a woman kidnapped and murdered turned violent and ended in four arrests.

So, police clashed with large crowds last night for breaking COVID protocol. The vigil was meant for mourning murder victim Sarah Everett. Well, London's police chief faces calls to resign following the conflict. The vigil was canceled by organizers Saturday but people showed up to peacefully pay tribute anyway, including Kate Middleton.

Everett disappeared earlier this month while walking home, sparking a national debate about female safety on Britain's streets. A London police officer was charged with allegedly kidnapping and murdering the 33-year-old woman.

CNN's Nina dos Santos has more from London.


NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN EUROPE EDITOR: London's main law enforcement body, the Metropolitan Police, has been coming under increasing pressure since scenes like these on Saturday night when despite the fact that protesters were peacefully holding a vigil in memory of a young London woman who was snatched from the streets ten days ago, they still felt the need to intervene, pinning masked women down to the ground, handcuffing them, and leading them away. This because, they said, the protest was in breach of COVID regulations and presented a health hazard to the public.

Well, the death of Sarah Everett, a woman just walking home from one residential part of the capital to another at 9:30 p.m. has galvanized the entire country into a broader conversation about toxic and dangerous misogyny and the consequences of that type of behavior. Many women shared their stories of feeling unsafe on the capital's streets and many men also thoughts about what to do to help their plight.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Essentially women have a curfew now. As soon as it gets dark out, you have to be with someone or you have to be home. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People need to be held accountable for not just the

obvious things, like, you know, following a girl or catcalling someone or anything like that, but like just a lot of the things as well, being in a group of just mates and maybe just somebody says something sexist or mildly sexist or a little bit along those lines, you know, you call them out.


DOS SANTOS: The suppression of these protests during the U.K.'s third lockdown at a time when public gatherings have been banned for so long on health grounds has proved to become something of a political hot potato. There have been calls for the first woman to run the metropolitan police now to resign. And both the mayor of London and the home secretary have demanded an urgent explanation.

Nina dos Santos, CNN in London.


WHITFIELD: All right. Back in this country now, live pictures from Colorado, where blizzard warnings have been extended and runways at the Denver International Airport are closed because of poor visibility. We'll take you there, straight ahead.