Return to Transcripts main page
NCAA Apologizes For Disparity In Workout Equipment; Biden Condemns "Skyrocketing" Hate Crimes Against Asians; New CDC Guidance Cuts Social Distancing Requirement To Three Feet; FBI Releases New Video Of Capitol Rioters Assaulting Police; Rioters Hurled Racial Slurs At Black Capitol Police Officers; Asian Americans Testify About Rise In Violence During Pandemic; Famed Tuskegee Airmen Celebrate 80 Years With New Museum; Fourteen Members Of The House Say They Are Not Vaccinated Yet. Aired 12-1p ET
Aired March 20, 2021 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SEDONA PRINCE, WOMEN'S BASKETBALL PLAYER, UNIVERSITY OF OREGON: You know it's often given and now that there has been action in place. It's all good.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: It's all good. OK, so the action is now you are getting a new weight room what you know about? What to expect and when? When it's being delivered?
PRINCE: I think it's already there. We have a weight session at one o'clock today. And so I'm really excited. We got our whole team excited for it. So we're just excited to be together and lift some weights.
WHITFIELD: Wonderful. All right, well as Sedona Prince, congratulations for making change, you know, for letting people hear and see what you were experiencing. And now, everyone, right, everybody's on board with being ready for the big games. Sedona Prince, thank you so much, all the best and good luck to you.
PRINCE: Thank you. I appreciate it.
WHITFIELD: Hello again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. We begin with the investigation to those deadly shootings at the three spots in the Atlanta area. CNN has obtained new surveillance video of the moments just before the first attack.
It appears to show the shooting suspect Robert Aaron Long parked in front of Young's Asian Massage, and moments later, four people were dead. In total, eight people were killed at three different locations. Long faces multiple charges related to the murders. But many are now calling on prosecutors to add hate crimes to those criminal complaints.
CNN's Natasha Chen is in Atlanta for us at one of the scenes where shootings took place. Natasha, do we have any more information about what may have led up to these attacks? NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Fred, the investigation continues into his possible motive. On the day after these shootings occurred law enforcement in a joint press conference told everyone that in an interview with the suspect, he indicated it was real - this act was related to what he perceived to be his sexual addiction that he said it was not racially motivated.
And we have not heard any update or development from law enforcement to indicate anything else. However, the Atlanta police have said that they are looking into all angles and that nothing is off the table. Clearly there are many leaders in the community, Asian American elected officials, Asian American advocacy groups, looking at why this isn't being called a hate crime by authorities yet?
And that's something that I talked to some of the passersby here, people coming to drop flowers and candles and pay respects to the victims of these two Atlanta locations. A lot of members of the community who live close by I asked them especially about President Biden and Vice President Harris's visit to Atlanta yesterday, where they met with Asian American leaders stopped short of calling it a hate crime. Here are their feelings about that visit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOEY CHEN, ATLANTA RESIDENT: I believe the administration is serious about stopping the violence against Asians. I am glad that all this - it takes this senseless violence for all to take for all the community to get together and supporting us. I think it's very important.
CHEN: Even if they didn't call this a hate crime themselves.
J. CHEN: At this moment - but we know it is. At this moment, I will let the law enforcement do whatever they need to do. That's their job. But in our mind is definitely no doubt is a hate crime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHEN: And there is still palpable fear and anxiety that's been increased in the Asian American community after these incidents, in the larger context of their having been a rise in anti-Asian attacks and incidents, especially in the last year regardless of the official motivation of this suspect. The feeling of that fear is real. And the result is that six out of the eight victims are in fact, Asian women, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. Natasha Chen, thank you so much for that update. So as the investigation continues, we're finding out much more about the eight victims killed and the families that they leave behind.
The owners of "Young's Asian Massage" Xiaojie Tan is being remembered as someone that made you feel like family. Delaina Ashley Yaun was mother of two children and recently married one of her children just eight months old, and Hyun Jung Grant was a single mother of two a "GoFundMe Account" has raised over $2 million for her children.
And Young - was a licensed massage therapist. The Atlanta Journal Constitution says she was thrilled to finally be back at work after being laid off due to the pandemic. And on Friday, President Biden met with several members of Atlanta's Asian community and Georgia lawmakers about the violent attacks and he made it clear anti- Asian sentiment and violence has no place in this country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They've been attacked, blamed, scapegoat and harassed.
BIDEN: They've been verbally assaulted and physically assaulted killed. Documented incidents against of hate against Asian Americans have seen a skyrocketing spike over the last year.
KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Racism is real in America and it has always been. Xenophobia is real in America, and always has been sexism too.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Joining me right now, one of the state lawmakers who met with Biden yesterday, Georgia House Representative Bee Nguyen, thank you so much for joining me today.
STATE REP. BEE NGUYEN (D-GA): Thank you so much.
WHITFIELD: So first off, you know how was your conversation with the president? And do you feel like he heard your concerns and is ready to help?
NGUYEN: Both the president and the vice president ahead of yesterday's visit, outspoken up against the rise in hate - crimes in the last year. But I do say that I do feel comforted and relieved by the fact that we now have two leaders in the White House, who will say that racism is real, that xenophobia is real, and that misogyny real.
And in that room, when we were sitting with President Biden and Vice President Harris, as an Asian American woman, I felt even more comforted by the fact that Vice President Harris is Asian in her class. And so she understands the intersections and the nuances of what it means to come from an immigrant community.
But as well as coming as a black woman. When we don't address the systemic issues, it does become deadly. And in fact, this week, we saw the results of what that looks like.
WHITFIELD: And how are you hoping that, you know the comfort that you described and a familiarity that also comes with that association that you just described in the White House? How do you feel that that is going to better promote some change?
NGUYEN: Again, I say, out loud, first and foremost, we live with an administration previously, which was assigning blame to a country and to Asian people in general and we were held responsible for the virus. And we also came from an administration who deny that these are very
real issues in this country, not just related to the COVID-19 crisis, but one that has been the truth, since the inception of this country, and so far, our most powerful leaders to recognize it and to say it out loud, that is the first step.
And for them to take an hour and listen to our concerns and share with us the grief and pain that is a step in the right direction. But I do hope that the administration as well as law enforcement will take this as a hate crime and will treat it as a hate crime. That is what our community needs. That is what our community demands. And it is simply that's truth.
WHITFIELD: You spoke about the shootings earlier this week from the Georgia State Capitol. And I want viewers to hear what you had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NGUYEN: We do know that there were four women who were ethnically Korean who were killed their ages ranging from 50 years old to 70 years old, and at least two of them lived and worked in those spas. This one fact alone highlights the vulnerability, the invisibility, and the isolation of working-class Asian women in our country.
And we know that vulnerability makes them targets. Because when they go missing, or when they die, the loss of their lives will not incite the same kind of rage, and they won't even be treated with the same humanity. And in this case, they've been characterized as a problem that needed to be eliminated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: I mean this is some powerful statements. And then do you feel like your sentiments really are underscored by the fact that there has been, whether it's a hesitancy or delay of any kind of hate crime, charge that has come?
NGUYEN: We've seen this before in the history of our country where a perpetrator who is white is offered an alternative narrative, often related to mental health crisis and the fact that we are so reluctant to admit that the systemic racism and misogyny in this country are very real, reflects the work that we need to do as a country.
We've also seen in the past where victims are demonized and dehumanize. You see that with police brutality, where people will say, well, he resisted arrest, and in this case, it's no different. The women who have been killed have been degraded and I am still getting messages from white people in this country who are angry that I'm calling this out as a hate crime.
NGUYEN: And instead of offering condolences to a community who is hurt and angry, they are disparaging these women who are mothers who are workers who have lived their lives in this country. And we know that they are pacifically vulnerable and invisible. It took law enforcement several days to even identify some of those
women. That means that they didn't have strong community support. That means they didn't have somebody watching their path. Here children were at home wondering where their mother was. And in some cases, their children are the only family members they have in the United States.
WHITFIELD: That is just painful to hear. Georgia Representative Bee Nguyen, thank you so much. Our prayers go out to you and the entire community. All right, the CDC is changing guidance allowing students to sit closer to each other. But how safe is that?
Plus, do you recognize these men? The FBI releases new video trying to track down the people behind some of the most egregious attacks on law enforcement during the Capitol riots.
WHITFIELD: More people boarded airplanes Friday than any other day since the start of the pandemic. Nearly 1.5 million people pass through TSA security checkpoints Friday, marking the ninth straight day that more than a million people boarded airplanes.
The spring break travel spy coming as experts warn that a more contagious variant is spreading across the country. CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro has more on that and new guidance for schools.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Big news for schools Friday, new guidance from the CDC having the distance most students need to be spaced in the classroom.
DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: Layer mitigation strategies, including strict use of masks among students and a distance of at least three feet between students were common factors among the schools and these studies that demonstrated decreased transmission from COVID-19.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): The new guidance heralded by local government leaders who say the updated rules mean more kids in school.
MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D-NY), NEW YORK CITY: It is going to really help us to reach more kids.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's not just throwing open the doors however, are they going to still ensure that you have good enough ventilation in those places? That's going to continue to be a priority, obviously masking going to continue to be a priority, all those things. So yes, great news, I think it's going to open the door for a lot of schools to be able to reopen. But don't forget the basics still, masks ventilation all that.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): Optimism mixed with vigilance as the Biden Administration announced a major achievement this week, 100 million vaccine doses administered in 58 days.
BIDEN: We have nearly doubled the amount of vaccine doses that we distribute to states, tribes and territories each week.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): States across the country are making the vaccine more available. And with that, some are lifting restrictions. In Kentucky this weekend, bars conserve until midnight and close at 1 am at 60 percent capacity. On Monday, Massachusetts reopens stadiums at 12 percent capacity and raises limits on public gatherings.
Signs that Americans are feeling more secure are everywhere, especially at the airport. The TSA screen more than a million passengers per day for the last eight straight days. That's a record for the year. But it doesn't mean the pandemic is anywhere near over. Dr. Fauci warning, the variant versus covered in the UK is spreading in America and people still need to take the basic measures to protect themselves.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Get as many people vaccinated as quickly and as expeditiously as possible with a vaccine that we know works against this variant. And finally, to implement the public health measures that we talked about all the time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: So now Fred, Dr. Fauci mentioned two things that we need right now to try to keep this virus in check. As we see things starting to open. The first is more vaccines about a massive vaccine site in New York City, where we're seeing the vaccine go out a pretty steady clip. There are a lot of customers there today.
And the Senator for New York Chuck Schumer said today - said yesterday that the state's going to get a lot more vaccine over the coming weeks that's happening all over the country now. So that's something that government can do is get us more vaccine and get in people's arms.
But something that we can do that Dr. Fauci mentioned is keep wearing those masks and keep social distancing, even as we may be leaving the house, even as we may be trying to enjoy some of the new openness that we've got. We've got to keep the diligence to keep this virus in check Fred.
WHITFIELD: Right, even with supply up, remain vigilant. Evan McMorris- Santoro in New York thanks so much. Alright, next, the FBI releases new and graphic video in their hunt for rioters who stormed the Capitol on January 6th.
WHITFIELD: The FBI has released new and shocking video clips from the Capitol Insurrection on January 6th where rioters are seen violently assaulting police officers. CNN's Brian Todd has more on the new evidence in this report which we warn you contain images that may be disturbing to some viewers.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As a crutch and other heavy objects are thrown at police look at the man in the spot shadow, wielding a large club he starts mercilessly swinging at officer. A slow-motion shot shows the same man the FBI says now he's wearing a red hat ferociously swinging the club at an officer's head.
The FBI believes he's the man in the picture on the left side of the screen. This is one of several video clips of the January 6th assault on the Capitol just released by the FBI specifically showing rioters attacks on police officers.
STEVEN D'ANTUONO, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR IN CHARGE, FBI DC FIELD OFFICE: You will see officers being punched, beaten with sticks flagpoles and their own shields, as well as being sprayed with a variety of unknown substances.
TODD (voice-over): Like what this rioter is doing, from the top of a grandstand he unleashes an unknown spray at several officers below, causing them to disperse. Another clip shows him spraying down at officers from a different location nearby on that grandstand.
On the left side and then full screen you get a good look at the young man's face. The FBI is asking for the public's help in identifying 10 suspects it's showing in these videos, several of them with their faces clearly visible.
TIM CLEMENTE, FORMER FBI COUNTERTERRORISM AGENT: The FBI and law enforcement as a rule has access to a variety of different facial recognition tools. What that allows law enforcement to do is find other photographs of that person. It might be a driver's license photo, which clearly identifies them with name, address, date of birth and everything else, or it could be social media posts.
TODD (voice-over): Some clips show rioters at reverse angles like this man in the Czech jacket beating police with a club and this man spraying officers then throwing his canister at them. At a reverse angle he's seen swinging a police shield at officers.
This man is shown at two angles pounding his fist into an officer's face shield. This clip shows the brutality of some attacks, a rioter violently pulling it the gas mask of DC Metropolitan Police Officer Daniel Hodges, who was also crushed in the doorway.
DANIEL HODGES, DC METROPOLITAN POLICE: There's a guy ripping my mask off and he was - he was able to rip away my baton beat me with it. And you know he was practically foaming at the mouth so just these people were true believers in the worst way.
TODD (voice-over): That day black police officers also had brutal racial slurs hurled at them. U.S. Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn told CNN he was called the N word several times and relayed what happened to a fellow black officer who was carrying a long gun.
HARRY DUNN, U.S. CAPITOL POLICE: Group of terrorists came to him and said, you think you're a tough N word with that gun? Put that gun down and we'll show you what type of N word you really are.
TODD (voice-over): Acting Capitol Hill Police Chief Yogananda Pittman recently said after speaking with several officers in the field that day that many of them are suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. She has asked Congress for help in providing them ongoing care. Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
WHITFIELD: And still to come, a hearing on anti-Asian hate gets emotional as lawmakers respond to a surge of attacks across the country. My next guest testified at that hearing on his experiences with hate. He'll join me next.
WHITFIELD: The tragic shooting spree in the Atlanta area that claimed the lives of six Asian women. It comes at a time when violence against Asian Americans is on the rise in the U.S. The surge in attacks in anti-Asian rhetoric has coincided with a COVID pandemic and is putting a national spotlight on these troubling issues. This week, Asian American leaders testified before Congress about their growing concerns.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN C. YANG, PRESIDENT & EXEC. DIR., ASIAN AMERICANS ADVANCING JUSTICE: For a year now, Asian Americans have been fighting two viruses, the COVID-19 pandemic affecting all of us, as well as this virus of racism. Asian Americans, like all Americans have suffered the economic and health consequences of COVID-19. But at the same time, Asian Americans have been at the frontlines as essential workers, in grocery stores, in delivery trucks, in custodial services as well as in health professions.
Unfortunately, Asian Americans have also been fighting the second virus, this virus of racism. We have long struggled for visibility and equity. And now our communities are faced with this additional physical and mental harm that is arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: John Yang is the man that you just heard testifying this week at that House hearing. He is the President and Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice. John, good to see you.
YANG: Thank you for having me.
WHITFIELD: So President Biden met with members of the Asian American community here in the Atlanta area. Just yesterday, he also urged Congress to pass a COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act to deal with the rise in hate crimes during this pandemic. Are you satisfied? Are you at all hopeful with the approach this White House is taking?
YANG: I am hopeful that this White House is taking a proactive approach with respect to the Asian American community. And let's be real, it is a 180 degree difference from the prior administration.
Look, there's going to be a lot of work that needs to be done. Certainly the COVID-19 Hate Crimes bill will be part of the solution. The President's executive memorandum that he issued a couple of weeks ago is also part of the solution. But there's so much more education, so much more prevention that needs to happen to keep these racist attacks from continuing.
WHITFIELD: What have you been feeling like in the past year, during this pandemic, and then it only hitting another apex with this spate of killings this week?
YANG: Yes, thank you for asking me. Our community is feeling frustrated. We're feeling tired. We're feeling fatigue. But part of it is all of us are feeling that because of COVID-19 and the health consequences and the economic consequences. But if you add this additional burden on our community, it is at times overwhelming. But I also feel a very deep urge to move forth change to make sure that we make something positive happened at this moment.
And when I say something positive, it's not just for the Asian American community because we're all fighting this virus of racism, we're all in this struggle together. And so that's what I want to use this moment for as well.
WHITFIELD: So, you know, a Congress introduced this, you know, hate crimes as COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act a week before that, you know, series of shootings. Do you feel that, particularly as a result of the shootings, that that will perhaps expedite the process that this act will be seriously considered if not passed?
YANG: I certainly hope that it will help expedite the process. But I also want to give a special shout out to Congresswoman Meng who introduced this legislation. If people watched her testimony, it was courageous, it was real. And hopefully her fellow colleagues in the House saw that because that is what the community is feeling.
Again, it's not the only solution that we need. But certainly, we hope that there is momentum towards the understanding of what the Asian American community needs at this moment and have a deeper understanding of how we fit into districts all puzzle of racism here in America.
WHITFIELD: And in your testimony this week on Capitol Hill, we heard during that hearing, Texas Congressman Chip Roy saying some very offensive things, and then defending his right to do so. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. CHIP ROY (R-TX): I'm not going to be ashamed of saying I oppose which I can. I oppose the Chinese Communist Party. And when we say things like that, and we're talking about that we shouldn't be worried about having a Committee of members of Congress policing our rhetoric, because some evil doers go engage in some evil activity, as occurred in Atlanta, Georgia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So what do you do with that approach, that sentiment, that mindset? I mean, he's not alone, right?
YANG: Unfortunately, he's not. But the thing is, he is conflating two things. No one is criticizing him for opposing the Chinese government or some of their policies. Many of us agree with that aspect. But what he is conflating is using terms that offend the Asian American community here in the United States, Americans here in the United States.
And look, you know, leaders have an obligation to model behavior that they want the community to follow. And with respect to the terms that are being used, like China virus or Wuhan flu, everyone has agreed medical experts, et cetera, have all agreed, there's no medical benefit to using these terms.
YANG: But there's a clear cost to the Asian American community. So from that perspective, it should be simple. Let's use terms that make sense, that are medically accepted, and don't stigmatize and put a community at risk.
WHITFIELD: Right. And it's just so sad that the realization of how harmful it is, that realization wasn't made, you know, at the initial utterance of those words that it had to take this long. And sadly, we're all talking about this at a very -- with the backdrop of some very tragic incidents happening. John Yang, thank you so much. Appreciate it. Be well.
YANG: Thank you very much.
WHITFIELD: Coming up, America's first black military airman celebrating 80 years this month with a new home for their museum. There may be fewer than 20 Tuskegee fighter pilots still alive and I'll talk to one of them next.
WHITFIELD: This year marks the 80th anniversary of the iconic Tuskegee Airmen, the first black pilots in American military history. The airmen flew missions during World War II and got their name from the airfields in Alabama where they were trained. One of the places they were trained today there are about 20 airmen still with us. And this week the Tuskegee Airmen National Museum will celebrate its new home in Detroit and mark the anniversary.
I want to bring in Lieutenant Colonel Harry Stewart Jr., who was a Tuskegee airman, continues to be a Tuskegee airman. He flew 43 combat missions, scoring three kills all in one day, while escorting and protecting heavy bombers to their targets. He is a storied real deal, top gun pilot. And Dr. Brian Smith is the President of the Museum, so good to see both of you.
BRIAN SMITH, PRESIDENT, TUSKEGEE AIRMAN NATIONAL MUSEUM: Thank you Fredricka.
LT. COL. HARRY STEWART JR., TUSKEGEE AIRMAN: Good to see you too.
WHITFIELD: And of course, fantastic. And of course, this topic is very close to me, my dad, Mal Whitfield, was a Tuskegee airman. As a member of the 100th fighter squadron of the 332nd Fighter Group, he and Lieutenant Colonel Stewart were great comrades, so good to see you. Lieutenant Colonel, give me an idea. What does this feel like to be in a position of reflecting on your days of World War II and beyond?
STEWART: Well, it's awesome seeing, you know, both ends of the spectrum there going back 80 years as far as my -- as far as the beginning of the Tuskegee Airmen there and even further than that, before I went into the service. So it's rather an awesome thing to be able to see the beginning and compare it to what we have today.
WHITFIELD: It is. And tell me about this Tuskegee Airmen National Museum in its new home at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit. What are your impressions of this newest display?
STEWART: Again, it's awesome, Fredricka, the display, historical display is in this museum. It's a beautiful edifice, and it will be opening on Monday, a day after tomorrow. And we also have a part of that museum and that's the physical, large physical part of it with the aircraft and that type of thing out of Coleman Young Airport on the outskirts of Detroit.
WHITFIELD: Oh, fantastic. It's going to be so exciting when things really open up that people can be there and see it. They will be in attendance for this virtual, you know, ribbon cutting on Monday. But Dr. Brian Smith, you know, how is this helping to elevate the profiles of this, you know, amazing Tuskegee history after 80 years?
SMITH: Well, we're hoping that the new exhibit will, you know, tell the world about the history and the struggles that the Tuskegee Airmen had during World War II. And also bring light to what we're doing with youth here in the city of Detroit. We're inspiring young people to go into careers in commercial airline pilots, aerospace, finance, and flying drones.
WHITFIELD: Oh, it looks like we're losing our signal with you, Doctor. So Lieutenant Colonel, you know, this virtual grand opening --
SMITH: -- shed light and helps to bring in donations to our partner.
WHITFIELD: Oh, boy, our signal was really terrible there. So Lieutenant Colonel, give me an idea of what feelings are you having about this museum? Does it kind of take you back, you know, to these very vivid memories and recollections?
STEWART: Well, feelings of course, nostalgia, and the beginning of this thing and now of gratification of having the Tuskegee Airmen recognized, not only recognized, but seeing that now we're virtually and 1941 prior to World War II, we had no African Americans flying within the airlines and involved that much with the air industry they are today we have an every airline, we have captains who are flying the aircraft throughout the world, and also the providers like FedEx and UPS who have black pilots and black crewmen that are flying throughout the world, as far as their job is concerned.
WHITFIELD: Oh, the legacy is strong. And you and your comrades open the doors for so many. But particularly at this time, do you think it's particularly poignant and hopeful -- oh, Dr. Smith, you're back with us, great.
Then this is for you, Dr. Smith, I'm wondering, you know, are -- particularly at this time, this climate, you know, of our country. Do you think this is a particularly poignant moment for this museum to be opening so that generations, you know, can appreciate and have a better understanding of what these amazing men did?
SMITH: (INAUDIBLE) paying attention to the plight of African Americans in our history, and opening of the museum just further expands upon what we have done, what we can do. And so America is learning about, you know, the troubles that we have had, and the struggles we've had, and the success in promoting and getting more African Americans into careers in aviation and aerospace science.
WHITFIELD: It's an amazing reflection of American history, and of course, an amazing stepping stone for the future. Harry Stewart, Lieutenant Colonel Harry Stewart, Dr. Brian Smith, thanks to both of you. Thank you so much all the best on Monday's grand opening in Detroit.
STEWART: Thank you Fredricka.
SMITH: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: All right. Coming up, CNN looks at why all lawmakers still are not vaccinated after months of access to shots on Capitol Hill. But first, the ongoing pandemic has made indoor life a little bit more challenging to say the very least but many have found solace in house plants, which can help relieve stress and make us more creative. In today's Start Small Think Big, this husband wife duo is on a mission to turn serial houseplant killers into the ultimate green thumbs.
BRENDAN COFFEY, CO-FOUNDER & CEO, STEWARD: Steward is a plant app that takes the guesswork out of growing. We combine technology with friendly guidance so everyone can partner with nature.
ALEXI COFFEY, CO-FOUNDER & CEO, STEWARD: I'm Alexi.
B. COFFEY: And I'm Brendan. And we're the founders of Steward.
A. COFFEY: We first bonded over our love of nature. A couple years into our relationship, we had a chance to go to California and live at NASA.
B. COFFEY: We were invited to do research around climate change and technology. That was when we started building Steward.
A. COFFEY: Ninety percent of plants struggle for very preventable reasons. We wanted to create plant maps so that you could see your space and understand its plant potential.
B. COFFEY: The first step is to scan your space then we create your custom plant maps.
A. COFFEY: We invented plant maps so that you could visualize what can grow in your space to make it simple to match the right plants with your lightened environment. Every plant map is unique. If you already have plants, we'll help you take care of them. If you're looking for new plants, we'll help you find the happiest healthiest plants local to you.
B. COFFEY: One of the most important measures of success is whether people can keep their plants happy and healthy. We launched with a success rate of over 95 percent.
A. COFFEY: The pandemic has made all of us have to adapt, so many of us are at home, and so many of us are thinking about our relationship with nature. And we get really excited by the fact that we do get to be this peace of joy in people's lives. And that's something we all need right now.
WHITFIELD: All right, this just into CNN. The NCAA has just unveiled a new weight room for the women's basketball teams participating in the March Madness tournament officials just setting up a room with a full set of workout equipment there.
As you see in this first image we're getting. This is officials that admit that they fell short after the men's teams were given a full set of equipment while the women, you can see on the left, they were only provided a set of free weights and some yoga mats. One of the players who called out the double standard and joined me earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEDONA PRINCE, CALLED OUT NCAA OVER WEIGHT ROOM DISPARITY: I was a little bit disappointed, me and the rest of my team were like, come on, you know, we deserve more than this. We lift more than this. And so it was surprising. It was shocking that that's all we got. But, you know, the video put it out there and everyone was like, you know, now we have a new weight room that we just got. We have a weight session at 1 o'clock today. And so I'm really excited. We got our whole team excited for it. So we're just excited to be together and lift some weights.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Just in time they deserve to get better and now they have better despite having had access to COVID vaccine last year. CNN has learned through surveys and interviews that many members of Congress still have not been vaccinated, most of whom are Republicans. Vaccination reluctance on Capitol Hill is cause for concern for the White House and health officials as they are trying to encourage as many Americans as possible to get vaccinated. CNN's Lauren Fox has the breakdown from Capitol Hill.
LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Since December, lawmakers on Capitol Hill have had access to the vaccine. So CNN decided to conduct a survey of the entire House of Representatives as well as track how many senators were actually vaccinated. What CNN learned was that there are still 14 members who on the record told us that they are not vaccinated in the House of Representatives.
Thirteen of them are Republicans. One of them is a Democrat. CNN also learned that every single member of the Senate Democratic caucus is vaccinated as well as the two independent members of the Senate. Meanwhile, we confirm that there are five Republican members of the Senate who still have yet to be vaccinated.
Now some of those members who aren't vaccinated say that they decided not to go ahead and get the vaccine now, because they are waiting until constituents back home can go ahead and get their vaccine first. They didn't want to skip in line.
Now there was also a number of offices that simply didn't respond to our request. There were nearly 150 Republican offices that simply did not respond to whether or not their boss was vaccinated or not compared to just 29 Democratic offices that didn't get back to us.
So over the last several days, my colleagues and I have been trying to ask members, whether or not they got the vaccine or not. Some of them told us simply it was none of our business to be asking.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FOX (voice-over): Congressman, have you been vaccinated?
REP. MARKWAYNE MULLIN (R-OK): I appreciate that. But don't ever answer any medical questions.
FOX (voice-over): Can I ask why you don't want to talk about being vaccinated?
MULLIN: It's none of your business. It's personal.
FOX (voice-over): Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOX: This isn't just a question of personal health or whether or not a member should or shouldn't get a vaccine to set a good example to their constituents back home to show it safe. This is also a question of logistics on Capitol Hill. Right now, a vote in the House of Representatives is taking about 45 minutes to conduct.
Now House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said that number could drop but only if more members are actually vaccinated, Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader has said repeatedly that there are about 75 percent of members who are vaccinated, 25 percent who aren't.
He's citing a statistic his office says he got from the office of the attending physician. But Pelosi says in order to get that number of how long it takes to vote down from 45 minutes to a shorter time period. She says more members have to go ahead and get the vaccine.
On Capitol Hill for CNN, I'm Lauren Fox.
WHITFIELD: All right, Stanley Tucci experiences true Sicilian hospitality as he indulges in some incredible dishes with unforgettable people, the new CNN original series, Stanley Tucci, Searching for Italy tomorrow at 9:00 Eastern and Pacific.
Hello again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. This just in to CNN up to 1,200 migrant children are now expected to arrive at the Dallas Convention Center, which is serving as an emergency intake site for unaccompanied minors who crossed the U.S.-Mexican border CNN's Priscilla Alvarez has been reporting on this and she's at the convention center right now. Priscilla, what do we know about this increase in the number of kids heading there?
PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN REPORTER: The administration is racing to get these kids out of border patrol facilities. We learned this week that there were more than 4,500 children in those facilities intended for adults, not for kids.