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Daily Vaccination Rate Soars: One In Five Have Received First Shot; CDC May Change Guidance For Schools From Six Feet To Three Feet; TSA: Numbers Show Four-Day Pandemic-Era High For Flying; Duke University Under "Stay-In-Place" Order Amid Surge; North Korea Not Returning Biden Administration's Calls; Biden Orders FEMA To Help With Thousands Of Children At Border; Biden: "Shots In Arms And Money In Pockets" Are Arriving. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired March 15, 2021 - 14:30   ET




BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Millions more Americans are getting vaccinated against the coronavirus in a race against time, the pandemic, and worrying variants.

One in five Americans now received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine. A record three million shots were given on Saturday alone.

The U.S. now is averaging more than two million shots a day. And nearly 70 million Americans have received their first dose. More than 37 million Americans are now fully vaccinated.

All 50 states and D.C. allowing teachers to get the vaccine starting today, a critical benchmark for President Biden's back to school by 100 days promise.

The CDC director saying today she is looking at whether to cut the six-foot guidance for social distancing in schools in half to three feet.


DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: As soon as we put out our guidance among the biggest challenges, we were aware of was the fact that schools were having a hard time with the six-foot guidance.

That, of course, prompted more studies to say, is six feet necessarily in the context of mask wearing? We are looking at data carefully.

The question actually prompted more studies to be done. We know more are forthcoming. We're taking the data carefully and RCHG guidances in that context.


KEILAR: In the meantime, Americans are once again taking flight with more people traveling by air in the last four days than any four-day period since the pandemic began.

The TSA says it's screened more than five million passengers between Saturday Sunday and Thursday, the most since March 15th last year. The surge comes as airports in the Washington, D.C., area began offering COVID tests to passengers.

CNN's Pete Muntean is at Washington Dulles International Airport with more on that.

Tell us about this, Pete.


PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, this came out at a critical time for airlines Brianna. They hope the numbers are a sign of recovery. And 5.2 million screened by TSA in four days. The busiest four-day period of the pandemic.

And the CDC says all those people should be getting tested before and after their trip. And that's where the new COVID testing site comes from a company called Express Check opened at Dulles International Airport this morning. It's before security.

You may recognize the name because the company runs this also runs the Express Spas at airports across the country. This company partnered with United Airlines.

It's reminding passengers this is an option when they book the ticket. And the hope is more options come online like this and get people coming back to flying.

We're it excited to see some of the positive momentum and customers coming back. We're ready to welcome them onboard when they're ready to travel and hope that the back half of the year is stronger and see good signs in booking trends right now.

You know, Brianna I took a test, paid for it $200 for a rapid test. Not cheap. Nigh results luckily negative. Although, if somebody is positive, they are referred to the CDC, taken to federal health officials and they are placed on the CDC's independent no-fly list.

The hope is somebody testing positive will not be able to book a plane -- Brianna?

KEILAR: That's interesting, $200.

All right, Pete. Thank you so much. Pete Muntean, live from Dulles.

Duke University is ordering undergrads to stay-in-place all week because COVID cases have been speaking.

Right now, more than 180 Duke students are in isolation after testing positive with -- for COVID, with another 200 under quarantine based on contact tracing.

So this is the largest one week jump in cases at Duke since the pandemic began.

CNN's Jacqueline Howard is joining us on this.

This, Jacqueline, after Duke's men's basketball team cancelled the season last week because of the virus. Besides the stay-in-place order, what is Duke doing to combat the outbreak?

JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER: Brianna, the stay-in-place order is the main approach here. What that means is that in-person classes are now remote.

Students on campus, in dorms or apartments, must stay in their dorms or apartments. And then students living off campus are not allowed on campus.

And, Brianna, in a letter to students Duke University said that any violation of these rules or repeated violations will be consideration for suspension.

The letter says specifically, quote, "if it feels serious it's because it is. This stay-in-place period is strongly recommended by our medical experts. The restriction of student movement gives us the best path toward curtailing further spread."

And, Brianna, it's really interesting, previous studies by the CDC showed that a rise in COVID-19 cases on a college campus can sometimes spread into the surrounding community.

So we can imagine that the medical experts here, who are advising the university, are probably not only concerned about the spread of COVID- 19 on campus but also in the surrounding community as well -- Brianna?

KEILAR: Yes. A very good point.

Jacqueline, thank you.

Next, the White House confirming they have reached out to North Korea to start a new round of diplomacy. But so far, Kim Jong-Un is not returning calls.

Plus, President Biden directing FEMA to step in and help as Border Patrol struggles to process thousands of migrant children. What we know about the conditions in the tent shelters.



KEILAR: It appears North Korea has not yet warmed to the new president in the White House. Today the White House admitted that repeated efforts by the Biden administration to reach out to Pyongyang have so far been met with silence.

CNN's Kylie Atwood at the State Department with more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, last month, the Biden administration launched a behind the scenes effort to engage with North Korea. But North Korea has so far been unresponsive according to a senior administration official.

They said the effort was part of one to try and reduce the risks of escalation. We don't know specifically what was in those messages.

But they did note that they come off the heels of more than a year where there hasn't been active dialogue between the two countries. That is even in the waning months of the Trump administration there was not active dialogue.

Now, this news is coming as Secretary of State Tony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin are traveling in the region. They are meeting in Japan, in South Korea, with U.S. allies there. North Korea is definitely going to be something that they discuss.

Now, the Biden administration hasn't ruled out their full North Korea policy. And I'm told by administration officials that is expected in the coming weeks.

We'll have a little bit more meat on the bones how the Biden administration plans to go forth on address the challenge of North Korea.


KEILAR: Kylie Atwood, thank you.

Right now, a group of Republican lawmakers, led by Kevin McCarthy, can at the southern border with Mexico. They are there to get a firsthand look at the growing migrant crisis.

More than 4,000 children are now in Border Patrol custody. Now the Biden administration is ordering FEMA to step in and help. But even though, they still don't want to call the situation a crisis.

CNN's Priscilla Alvarez is following this for us.

Priscilla, what are the conditions like for these kids? Do we know what FEMA is going to be tasked with here?

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN IMMIGRATION REPORTER: Brianna, the primary task for FEMA is going to be to move unaccompanied children who are in Border Patrol custody out of those facilities and into shelters that are run by the Health and Human Services Department.

This is a step the administration is taking because it is having a hard time keeping up with the number of children crossing the U.S./Mexico border alone.


As you mentioned we now know there are more than 4,000 children in Border Patrol custody. These are facilities intended for adults and processing adults. They are not designed to care for children.

And we know from lawyers, who spoke to about a dozen children, they are worried, upset, in some cases, haven't been able to get the hygiene, like showers, for example, or reach their parents.

And, again, it boils down to they're not supposed to be in these facilities. But until the administration can find the shelter capacity for them they will stay in these facilities.

So, again, FEMA stepping in here to help with the process so that it moves quickly -- Brianna?

KEILAR: All right. Priscilla, thank you so much for the latest on that.

Next, a Pennsylvania mom is accused of making deep fake videos to cyber girls on his daughter's cheerleading squad. Details just ahead on that.



KEILAR: A woman in Pennsylvania is accused of making deep fake image as to cyber bullying members of her daughter's cheerleading squad. They say the woman altered pictures from the girls' social media accounts and texted them to the team's coaches.

CNN's Jean Casarez is following this for us.

Jean, this is highly unusual. What more do we know about these deepfake video?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: According to the criminal complaint, it started, last summer and into the fall, when part of a cheerleading team in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, started getting messages and texts, one message to one of the girls allegedly is, "You should kill yourself."

The visual images, according to the complaint, were the actual faces of the alleged victims, but they were superimposed on bodies that were not theirs. Some were nudes, some were in bikinis, some were drinking, some were vaping.

Investigators decided they needed to find out because it was an anonymous number. The pictures were also sent to the head coach of the cheerleading team. They needed to find out who sent them.

They did an investigation and there was a company called Deepfakes, where you can purchase a phone number, you're not associated with it, but you can send and you can text from it.

They then got a court order from Verizon to find out who was the one that was doing this. According to the complaint, they found out that it was the defendant, Raffaela Spone. And they correlated the timelines with the numbers and with her. They

got a court order to be able to subpoena all of her electronic devices and they said that really firmed it up.

Now she's been charged with three counts of cyber harassment of a child and also harassment.

Now, her attorney says that she didn't do any of this at all. And that she is actually now getting threats to her life so she is having to go to police.

But she will make her first court appearance at the end of March. These are misdemeanors. These young women could have been taken off the team.

According to her attorney, the defendant's daughter was a member of the cheerleading team, but left it in 2019 -- Brianna?

KEILAR: Any idea -- are they saying, Jean, what the motive is for all this?

CASAREZ: It's very interesting because the complaint doesn't state a motive of why she would do it at this point, allegedly, if she did it.

Prosecutors don't even have to prove a motive. They have to prove the elements of those two crimes, the cyber bullying for harassment of a child and harassment.

If this goes before a jury, juries always want to know a motive, why she would do it. I think there are many, many questions that don't have answers yet.

Remember, according to the defense, she didn't do any part of this.

KEILAR: We'll see what the case is.

Jean, thank you so much.


More on our news just in. A review by CDC showing some of the Trump administration's pandemic health guidance wasn't rooted in science and had questionable influence. We'll have more on that ahead.



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Hi, there. Thank you for being with me. I'm Brooke Baldwin. This is CNN.

Shots in arms, money in pockets. That is the promise from President Biden today, addressing the nation from the state dining room at the White House just last hour. There he was.

Really just trying to instill confidence in the relief bill he signed last week, and perhaps, even more urgently, in the vaccines.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The thing that has more impact than anything Trump would say to the MAGA folks is what the local doctor, what the local preacher, what the local people in the community say.

So, I urge, I urge all local docs and ministers and priests to talk about why, why it's important to get that vaccine.


BALDWIN: Alongside that plea to local doctors and officials, we are also learning about a $250 million education effort being run by the Department of Health to combat vaccine hesitancy.

It will include nationally syndicated advertisements and a podcast hosted by a, quote, unquote, "well known person outside of the government."

Let's begin with Kaitlan Collins.

Obviously, with Biden today, how else did he promote this $1.9 trillion plan?


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think they want to be able to walk through the other steps of it that are not just the most easily digestible ones.