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State Of Emergency, Curfew Now In Effect In Miami Beach; White House: On Pace For 200 Million Vaccinations In First 100 Days; More Than 5,000 Unaccompanied Children In CBP Custody; COVID Claims First Game Of NCAA Men's Tournament; Former HUD Secretary Castro On Biden's Immigration Response; Long-Haulers Tells CNN His Brain Fog Dissipated After Vaccine; Biden Fails To Deliver On Border Transparency Promise? Aired 8-9p ET

Aired March 20, 2021 - 20:00   ET




PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: We are getting incredible new video from Iceland, where a volcano is erupting. Look at that. Residents are hunkering down after this volcano, which has sat dormant for 6,000 years, suddenly burst to life yesterday, spewing out a river of lava that could be seen from 20 miles away.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The administration is racing the get these kids out of Border Patrol facilities. Now we are learning that there are up to 1,200 children expected to come to the Dallas Convention Center.

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Office of Refugee Resettlement has not been hosting, as you've noted, media tours of unaccompanied children facilities, but we remain committed to transparency.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: More vaccines go out and concerns grow about a potential new surge.

JOSEPH R. BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've nearly doubled the amount of vaccine doses that we distribute to states, tribes and territories each week.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: If we could just hang on a bit longer, the more people get vaccinated, the less likelihood there is going to be a surge.

AMARA WALKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This really is a moment for Asian Americans in America. We are a community that has felt invisible for so long. For the president to come and say I see you, I hear you, it's a cathartic moment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is an Asian issue, but on top of that, this is more than that. This is a human issue.



BROWN: I'm Pamela Brown in Washington. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM on a Saturday evening.

And the city of Miami Beach has declared a state of emergency amid a crush of spring breakers. Mayor Dan Gelber announced a curfew that is now in effect, all bars and restaurants must be closed right now. There will also be road closures in the entertainment district, which has been packed night after night. City officials will hold an emergency special meeting tomorrow.

The coronavirus isn't the only reason for these actions, but at least one South Beach hotel had already suspended its food and beverage operations over health concerns for employees and customers.

Joining me is now Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber.

Mayor Gelber, thanks for coming on.

First off, why did you make this decision today?

MAYOR DAN GELBER (D), MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA: Well, our city manager, with the advice of all of us, really believed that we had to do it simply because we're receiving too many people. Too many people are coming here. We may be one of the only destinations that's open.

And too many people that are coming are really coming with a desire to just let loose and go off. And that's creating a policing issue that is endangering, frankly, everybody, including police, bystanders, as well as the people themselves who are acting out. So, we just can't have it anymore and we're going to stop it.

BROWN: So, yeah, just if you could, bring us behind the scenes a little bit more of what informed this decision for you today.

GELBER: Well, it wasn't -- it wasn't that hard. If you have seen videos from our community, you've seen, for instance, last night somebody shot off a gun and hundreds of people started to sort of race through the streets. Another restaurant was mobbed by people who destroyed the interior.

We've had all sorts of events happen that make it pretty clear that there's just so many people. Collins Avenue, one of our main arteries, has been gridlocked from time to time. And although we have an incredible increase in a surge of police from our own city and from other areas, the county and neighboring cities as well as Florida Highway Patrol, it's still really not enough to police the area when you have, you know, thousands of people who are intent on acting out in ways that shouldn't happen in an organized society.

BROWN: This many people, the crowds of people, was that a surprise for you? Should the city have been better prepared for it? Just kind of bring us into your thinking on that front. GELBER: We've had very challenging spring breaks at other times. I mean, we're a city that's 92,000 residents but we'll sometimes have 200,000 to 300,000 other people here. The problem is at this particular time, and I think it's because of the pandemic, almost no other destinations are open. So we have been beside ourself.

We're having issues not just on the weekend but on weekday evenings. Even though we have a curfew already in the county at midnight, that's not stopping from 6:00 to midnight, you know, there are loads of people coming and doing things they shouldn't be doing.

We have been preparing, but at this point, we don't think even with an immense show of policing -- and we've been arresting many, many people every single day, more than most communities will arrest in a month or year -- it's just creating disorder and danger to our cops, to our arrestees, to bystanders.


So, we just have enough of it, frankly.

BROWN: It sounds like you're saying this is more out of control that past spring breaks perhaps because people have been in lockdown. They don't have a lot of places to go.

Have you spoken to the governor? Because as we all know, the governor hasn't imposed restrictions or lockdowns, I should say, in Florida for many months. There is no statewide mask mandate. Have you spoken to him?

GELBER: Well, I haven't spoken to him, but I was on his phone with his chief of staff a few minutes ago to discuss our lockdown of the causeways this evening. I'd like his help with that, because frankly, you know, the reason we're doing this is the following. We've seen close calls.

We saw a guy, you know, unleash a weapon in a crowd and a mob happened. Well, suppose he had directed it at the crowd. We don't want to wait until some horrible tragedy happens to decide we're going to act. This is preventive, but we know enough already to know that we need to act.

I hope the governor will support us in this effort. I don't agree with his COVID policies. He and I have had a lot of dispute about that, but I assume and believe that he agrees that public safety is important.

Part of the problem is, frankly, no other places are open and there's discount tickets. So, you know, tens of thousands are coming in the airport every day.

We're trying to let them know they shouldn't do this. We're using social media and signs. If you buy a ticket elsewhere, you get the word and a popup you're going to get arrested. But it's not helping because there's too many are coming because there's no other place to go to.

BROWN: OK. Very quickly, are you looking at imposing any other restrictions, by chance?

GELBER: Well, we're hoping that this is enough and we're hoping we can do it for enough time to get us through this -- you know, this very challenging month.

BROWN: OK, Dr. Mayor Gelber, thank you very much.

GELBER: Thank you. Thank you.

BROWN: Well, this move by the Miami Beach mayor comes as the federal government races to vaccinate more adults as some states look to ease restrictions.

CNN's Jason Carroll has the latest.


FAUCI: Vaccines are coming on really well, between 2 million and 3 million doses per day are going into people. If we could just hang on a bit longer, the more people get vaccinated, the less likelihood there is going to be a surge.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dr. Anthony Fauci urging Americans eager to ease restrictions to be patient or else.

FAUCI: What's happened in the past and history has shown us that when you have that plateauing, that's usually the forerunner of another surge.

CARROLL: Despite the warnings, several states moving ahead and relaxing restrictions. In Connecticut as of Friday, restaurants, gyms and houses of worship can now open at 100 percent capacity with some COVID restrictions still in place.

On Monday, Massachusetts will partially open stadiums to fans and let more people attend indoor events. Parties are still on at former President Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort. The dining room there is now closed and beach service suspended due to a COVID outbreak amongst some staff, according to an email sent to members and shared with CNN.

Meanwhile, AMC, the world's largest theater chain, says 98 percent of its U.S. theaters are now open.

JANET JACOBS, MOVIEGOER: Yes, we're glad to be back. This feels so good. It's a spring day. It feels like we're turning the corner of COVID.

CARROLL: Those in favor of in-person learning getting a boost from the CDC Friday, which issued new guidelines saying most K-12 students can now sit 3 feet apart in classrooms instead of 6 feet as long as they wear masks and community transmission is low.

The CDC still recommending 6 feet while at lunch, assemblies or sporting events, this as more states now ramping up vaccinations, the country seeing a seven-day average 2.4 million shots administered every day.

Today, the parking lot at Nashville's Nissan Stadium, home of the Tennessee Titans, turned into a mass vaccination site.

RACHEL FRANKLIN, METRO NASHVILLE PUBLIC HEALTH DEPARTMENT: There's 200 appointments per 15 minute slots. That's 800 cars an hour.

CARROLL: Jason Carroll, CNN, New York.


BROWN: And stay with us. Remarkable stories coming from the so-called COVID long haulers. Some are saying their symptoms are actually getting better after receiving the vaccine.

Ed Hornick is one of those long-haulers and I will speak to him later this hour.

In the meantime, there is another battle that is not ending quickly. Growing waves of migrants are trying to make their way across the southern border. Tonight, more than 5,000 unaccompanied children are in customs and Border Patrol custody, including hundreds obtained in the last few days.


There's no way of knowing how many more will make its way into the U.S. on their own, but we do know that it's once again leading to jam- packed conditions.

This is what Senator Chris Murphy tweeted yesterday. He said, just left the border processing facility, hundreds of kids packed into big open rooms in a corner. I fought back tears as a 13-year-old girl sobbed uncontrollably, explaining to a translator how terrified she was, having been separated from her grandmother and without her parents.

Well, he was part of a tour led by the homeland security secretary. We're relying partly on the words of politicians, because journalists were not allowed on that tour.

Priscilla Alvarez joins us from right outside the Dallas Convention Center.

So, Priscilla, tell our viewers why this is considered more humane compared to the processing facilities.

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We just caught up with an immigration attorney who toured the facility at the Dallas Convention Center and she described an area of cots where children could sleep as well as a food hall. She also described games and puzzles for children and basketballs as well as a phone setup so they could contact family in the United States and internationally.

All of this notably different from the Border Patrol facilities, which are more like prison cells, because they're designed to process adults, not designed to care for children.

So, the Dallas Convention Center being used as an emergency intake site so children can be transferred here out of Border Patrol facilities. We're expecting up to 1,200 children to come to this center. We already know the first group arrived on Wednesday and we've been seeing buses pass through here today.

So, again, this facility designed to care for children as they work with case managers to get relocated with family in the United States, remarkably different from the Border Patrol facilities, which as you mentioned, has 5,000 kids in custody.

BROWN: And we're also learning, Priscilla, about another makeshift facility going up in Texas. Tell us about that.

ALVAREZ: So, again, another administration effort to really open up this bottleneck that has happened, of kids staying in Border Patrol custody instead of going to the shelter networks for them. The Health and Human Services Department has said they are going to open another influx facility in Texas where kids will be taken to work with case managers.

So, all of this happening now as the administration scrambles to accommodate these kids.

BROWN: All right. Priscilla Alvarez, please keep us posted on the very latest there from Dallas.

Well, the Biden administration has promised its executive branch would be committed to transparency and accountability. But when it comes to the historic surge of migrants, we are seeing at the southern border, Biden has come up short on that promise so far.

Yesterday, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and senators from both parties visited the border, but we don't have footage of that. Normally, a high-level delegation like that would be accompanied by members of the press, but not this time.

This is the latest part of a pattern, the Biden administration restricting media access at the border. Journalists haven't been inside facilities holding these unaccompanied children. And Border Patrol agents have been restricted in sharing information with the media in what's been called an unofficial gag order.

Here's the White House's explanation.


PSAKI: The Office of Refugee Resettlement has not been hosting, as you've noticed, media tours of unaccompanied children facilities currently due of the COVID-19 pandemic, but we remain committed to transparency.


BROWN: So, because of COVID, journalists can't go but then all these congressmen and other officials can go.

"Washington Post" media critic Erik Wemple sums it up, brutally writing: You know things are bad when Hannity doesn't even need to exaggerate.

Well, we all remember Trump's cruel policy to separate families at the border, but the media was there and that is how we saw images inside those detention facilities. In 2019, I traveled with Vice President Pence to the border and was given access to two facilities, one with families in Donna, Texas, and another in McAllen, Texas.

The Trump administration has been under scrutiny for the conditions at the border and provided access to reporters to get a firsthand look. And as you see, some of this video, the full picture that emerged was not pretty, but it was an important display of transparency.

Well, coming up this hour, Howard Holzer on the history of no holds barred battles between the White House and the media.

And then I'll ask former HUD Secretary Julian Castro if he called the situation at the border a humanitarian crisis.

But, first, COVID has just forced a cancellation of a game at the NCAA men's basketball tournament. Christine Brennan is live next to explain the fallout.

We'll be right back. Stay with us.



BROWN: It is March Madness time in college basketball. But tonight, just hours before tip-off, the NCAA is cancelling a game over COVID issues. Moments ago, the league declared tonight's matchup between Virginia commonwealth and Oregon a no contest.

The league claim the decision came after consulting with public health officials.

Joining me now is CNN sports analyst and "USA Today" sports columnist, Christine Brennan.

This is significant, Christine. What does this mean for the rest of the tournament?

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: Pamela, this is huge, because it's the first team Virginia commonwealth has now because of a positive test -- we're not getting much more information than that because of privacy issues. But because of that, they are out of the tournament, and -- the men's tournament, and Oregon moves on.

This is what everyone feared. When you're trying to play two tournaments, the men's and the women's in the midst of a pandemic, this is your worst fear. I guess it would be worse if there was some terrible health situation involving someone who has COVID. But just the fact they're trying to sequester all of these teams, 68 teams in Minneapolis, 64 in San Antonio.


And they're young, you know, they're 18 to 22-year-olds. And it is just so difficult to pull this off. And now, we're seeing the worst nightmare of the NCAA coming to pass in the men's tournament.

BROWN: And this is coming as there are these viral videos comparing the training facilities of men's and women's college athletes, sparking an uproar this week, I should say pictures, look at this picture right here, as many pointed out that the women had inferior equipment than the men had.

So the NCAA has since apologized for the disparity and even updated the training room. What has the reaction to this story been around the league?

BRENNAN: You know, Pamela, it has really had a viral impact. It certainly is about time to have this conversation. You know, so many people say the word tournament when there are two tournaments, use the word March Madness and that means the men's, and people forget there's even a women's tournament.

We're hearing from coaches, Muffet McGraw, the former coach at Notre Dame. We're hearing from Dawn Staley, the great coach at South Carolina saying enough is enough. They've been getting table scraps for so long from the NCAA, the women's tournament, to the point where most people don't use the word men's to describe the men's tournament.

They just call it basketball, as if the women are some kind of, you know, a little sister or stepchild, the forgotten other half of the sport. The NCAA showed now exactly what it thinks of this, lack of regard for these fantastic women athletes in the midst of Title 9, a law that mandates equality for men and women in sports.

And so, I hope maybe this will be that story that finally becomes that watershed moment to have these conversations, because it's about our daughters and our granddaughters and the girl next door. And I think it's about time people talked about equality for them as well.

BROWN: And they have worked just as hard. They have had just as tough of a year as the men during this pandemic. So, I'm glad this is shining a spotlight on that.

Christine Brennan, thank you so much.

BRENNAN: Pamela, thank you.

BROWN: Coming up later this hour, the fear right now in the Asian American community after a large number of verbal and physical attacks since the pandemic began. The incidents are drawing outrage nationwide.

I'll speak to former HUD Secretary Julian Castro about that and the situation at the border. That is next.



BROWN: This weekend, there is a growing demand for justice and a huge show of support for Asian American communities in this country. The pain and the shock is still raw from this week's deadly shooting spree in the Atlanta area. Eight people were shot dead, most of them women of Asian descent. The places where they died now memorials filled with flowers.

Crowds gathered today in Atlanta, New York City and Los Angeles. People there are protesting the rise in anti-Asian American sentiment and demanding the Georgia killings be treated as hate crimes.

And this weekend, surveillance footage emerged from the day of that mass shooting. Look at this, police say this is the man pulling up to an Asian spa outside Atlanta before killing four people inside. He would go onto two other locations and kill four more people.

With me now to discuss this epidemic of hate and more is former HUD Secretary Julian Castro. He is also the former mayor of San Antonio.

Mr. Secretary, welcome.


BROWN: I understand you spoke tonight at a protest against anti-Asian hate crimes. What was your message?

CASTRO: I did.

My message was, like the message of so many other people over the last few days since the hate crime in Atlanta, which is that we have to stand up, all of us, no matter our background. We have to stand up against this kind of hate and bigotry, and do everything that we can individually to speak up against it, and also in public life, elected officials have a role to play, in passing laws and setting examples to ensure that we encourage compassion and understanding and coming together in this country instead of the division and the bigotry that led to not only this incident, but 4,000 incidents over the last year against Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders.

We can change this in this country, but it's going to take all of us and it's going to take us holding elected officials who try and divide us accountable as well.

BROWN: So, let's talk about there's hearing, of course, on Capitol Hill this week. I want to play for you the comments of your fellow Texan GOP Congressman Chip Roy. He was speaking at the first congressional hearing in decades on anti-Asian American discrimination.

Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. CHIP ROY (R-TX): There's old sayings in Texas about, you know, find all the rope in Texas and get a tall oak tree. I'm not going to be ashamed of saying I oppose the Chi coms. 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.


BROWN: So after criticism, Roy stood by those remarks saying he was just being pro-justice and against policing speech.

What is your reaction?

CASTRO: Yeah. I mean, Congressman Roy made these comments about, you know, hanging up a rope on a tall Texas oak, that folks like that in Texas -- folks speak like that in Texas.

Look, I grew up in Texas. I live in Texas. I never heard anybody in Texas talk about that.


He's basically referring to lynching. Not only was it insensitive and inappropriate, this is one more example the fact that today's Republican Party is addicted to bigotry. It's addicted to intolerance. And he had an opportunity to correct himself and correct the record. And he didn't do it because he believes that that kind of talk appeals to the very base that he wants to win over.

This is what Donald Trump did for years. And this is what Donald Trump did that helped incite the kind of violence we saw in El Paso against Mexican-Americans in 2019. And what we saw the other day in Atlanta against Asian-Americans.

BROWN: I want to turn to immigration. There was a lot to speak about on that front. Obviously, we're seeing the numbers of undocumented migrants surging at the border, 5,000 unaccompanied minors now in CBP custody, 1,200 of those kids now being cared for, or at least headed to the Dallas Convention Center. What is the Democrats' plan to mitigate this crisis and these record flows? What is the endgame?

CASTRO: Look, this is a challenge at the border. I don't agree that it is a crisis.

BROWN: It's not a humanitarian crisis. You don't believe it's a humanitarian crisis?

CASTRO: I believe it's a challenge that is being managed. Of course, everyone wants to make sure that, that people at the border as their -- as their take it in, we have a responsibility to make sure that they're treated humanely. What we were seeing during the Trump years was exactly the opposite, the separate families, the keeping of people in conditions that shouldn't be in.

The differences that Donald Trump, his administration left on immigration in tatters through unprecedented actions through metering, through his remain in Mexico program. We're using Title 42 to expel people summarily.

Joe Biden is trying to pick up the pieces of a human rights catastrophe that Donald Trump left at our doorstep. So, the administration right now is taking swift action to try to make sure, for instance, that -- minors are able to -- stations and go to better housing accommodations, and more quickly get to host families who are here in United States --

BROWN: Right. But there are still 600 kids who are under CBP custody for more than 10 days that is well over the three days allowed. Why -- do you think that the Biden administration should have been better prepared, should have better anticipated that capacity needs here, that HHS should have been better prepared for this?

CASTRO: Number one, I think like Secretary Mayorkas has said that that's not acceptable. And that that needs to -- the challenges that the Trump administration left in tatters our ability to actually put people through this system and get them where they need to go. That's why, right now, the Biden administration is ramping up capacity at other housing facilities, so that people have better accommodations.

Here's the difference, though, between Trump and Biden. Number one, the Biden administration is actually confident they can manage these things, whether it's the vaccine distribution or the -- and then secondly, they're actually compassionate. They care about how these children are treated. Donald Trump had a dark heart when it came to -- he did not care.

In fact, he wanted to show the world how badly he was going to treat these kids, because he thought that it would deter more families from -- and that didn't work --

BROWN: So, let me ask you this then. Let me ask you this, because critics would say that the Biden administration's more humane approach is part of why we are seeing higher numbers of unaccompanied kids and families trying to cross the border. Do you think that the Biden administration should send a stronger signal that our borders are not open to everyone to come over?

CASTRO: I mean, they've sent that signal from the president.

BROWN: But is it -- is it enough? Is it enough? Are they doing enough to send that signal to go to these countries and get the message across?

CASTRO: Yes. The President has continued to tell folks look, you know, stay in your home country, do not come to the United States. But more than that, I think what's important that they're working to expect the ability of people actually claimed asylum in their home country than of doing it here.

And then secondly, and this is something that President Biden has been working on for years. He started when he was vice president under President Obama, is actually working with those northern triangle countries to make sure that people have opportunity and safety there so they can stay there in the first place and not have to make that dangerous journey to the southern border and, you know, have the opportunity and safety and prosperity that they want. I think that's a win-win for everybody.


The difference is the Trump administration tried to cut funding for that initiative, and Joe Biden understands that we're going to be investing, we need to invest that so that we don't see this surge of people, this wave of people presenting themselves in other -- that's both the effect and the humane thing to do.

BROWN: All right. Thank you so much, Julian Castro. This discussion will of course continue on this really important issue. We really appreciate you coming on the show.

And be sure to join Anderson Cooper, Amara Walker, Victor Blackwell, and Ana Cabrera for our CNN special, "Afraid: Fear in America's Communities of Color" Monday night at 9:00.

And up next, COVID long-hauler, Ed Hornick who suffered a year of living hell tell us -- tells us how he is feeling now that he's had his first shot. We'll be back.



BROWN: Some potentially good news for the so-called coronavirus long- haulers, some of their symptoms are getting better after they've gotten the vaccine. Those symptoms have been wide-ranging making it even harder for health experts to pinpoint and a very frustrating situation for patients.

Last month, I spoke to long-hauler, Ed Hornick, and he told us that he suffered from debilitating brain fog, headaches and fatigue for over a year. He described it as Groundhog Day, waking up not knowing if it will ever go away. Have a listen.


ED HORNICK, COVID LONG-HAULER: That is something a lot of long haulers like myself are grappling with, are we permanently disabled or are we, you know, going to wake up one day and find out we have all this energy?

BROWN: Right.

HORNICK: And that is something that is really just remarkable.


BROWN: And Ed Hornick joins me now. Ed, good to see you. You have gotten the first dose of vaccine. Have you woken up yet and had all this energy as you've been hoping for? HORNICK: It actually happened, which was --


HORNICK: -- like I said in my earlier statement, remarkable. It was very interesting, because I got the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on March 8th. And I had a pretty strong reaction to it. I had flu-like symptoms for about a week. I was in bed pretty much for about a week. And then about Friday night into Saturday, I woke up and I had all this energy.

And I noticed that my brain fog had dissipated. And I noticed that I just had more energy, I felt clear headed. And I felt like I was able to sort of put things together again in my head. And it was kind of an eye-opening experience because I had just seen a story, you know, in the post about some other long-haulers having very similar experiences. And I was like, is this happening to me?

I still have, you know, some fatigue and some other, you know, long- haul, you know, symptoms. But for the most part, I mean, the brain fog is gone, which is -- I can't even tell you what a miracle that is.

BROWN: Definitely. And I know when we talked last time, you were scared, you didn't know if it was ever going to go away. And so, this was the first time since you contracted COVID, right? That finally the brain fog went away and you woke up with energy, right?

HORNICK: Yes. And it was quite a weird feeling. Because I hadn't felt that way, probably since before I contracted COVID in January of 2020. And I was like -- didn't know what to do with this newfound energy. I was like, what should I do? What should I -- should I go walking?

BROWN: (INAUDIBLE) of the house.

HORNICK: Yes. But I -- but I also realized that I have to also conserve it because I think I pushed myself a little hard that day because I was like, a little over, you know, excited about it. And, you know, I noticed that later that night, I had sore lungs and I -- and, you know, I had some heart palpitations. But for the most part, the energy level has sort of stayed the same for about a week after that.

And my fatigue while it's still there, it's not as bad. And the brain fog has simply gone away and -- you know, I would like to say, you know, there's a reason but I don't know what the reason is. And I don't know if scientists know what the reason is.

BROWN: Yes, but anecdotally, you and others, as you pointed out, have had this experience. Have -- you are long-hauler and then you got your first dose of the vaccine and things are getting better. I hope they continue to trend in the right direction, Ed Hornick. Thanks so much.

HORNICK: Thanks, Pamela.

BROWN: Well, the year after the COVID-19 pandemic swept America, around 30 million Americans have struggled with the virus and more than 530,000 have died. But behind every number is a story.

CNN National Correspondent, Miguel Marquez introduces you to some of the people and the families behind the statistics and how vaccine hesitancy is playing a role. Here's a preview.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My dad worked his entire career for the Public Health System of Georgia.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, when COVID-19 came along, he took it seriously.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He did and he will tell me that if him or my mom got COVID, it was not going to be good.

MARQUEZ: Why was he extra worried about himself and his wife?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My dad had some pre-existing conditions. He knew that it would not be good because of his respiratory situation.

April 2019, my mom, in a single day, had two brain aneurysms.

MARQUEZ: Sad to hear.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And then she had a stroke in the surgery to fix the aneurisms. It left her with left side paralysis. My dad was her primary caregiver since that happened.

My dad put a sign on the door, said no visitors.


MARQUEZ: But there was at least one, which may be how the couple got COVID.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My dad did a great job nursing my mom back to health, but all the while his health was going down quick with COVID symptoms. He knew that he had it, but he wasn't going to leave my mom and it finally got to the point. When I said, Dad, I need you to go to the hospital. Well, who's going to be with your mom and I said, I'm in the car right now and I'm headed from New Jersey to Dalton, and my dad drove himself to Atlanta two hours to the hospital.


BROWN: That special airs next at 9:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

Another effect of the pandemic has been the sharp rise in mental health issues among children and adolescents. And tomorrow, we'll examine how school districts in Long Island, New York have teamed up to better address this growing crisis. That Special Report airs tomorrow night at 6:00 Eastern right here on CNN.

As the Biden administration is called out for a media blackout of the border, my next guest says it is just the latest battle in the long war between reporters and the White House. Historian, Harold Holzer, joins us next.



BROWN: New details tonight on the extent of the Biden immigration response, ICE has paid for hotel rooms to shelter over 1,200 migrants as it waits for their cases to move through immigration courts. Part of an $87 million contract with a Texas based hospitality nonprofit for shelter processing services and health assessments, including COVID testing.

But as the situation at the U.S. Mexico border gets worse, the media is being kept from it. Despite calls of transparency for the Biden administration, reporters and photographers have not been allowed inside the facilities where thousands of unaccompanied children are being kept similar to jail-like conditions.

This is what White House press secretary Jen Psaki said earlier this week.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We do want you to be able to -- or a pool of media to be able to have your own visuals and get your own footage of these facilities.


BROWN: It hasn't happened yet. But even yesterday when Homeland Secretary -- the Homeland Security Secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, toward the border, media access was restricted.

Joining us now is Harold Holzer, a Lincoln scholar at Hunter College and author of "The Presidents Versus the Press." Good to see you.

Let's talk about this, President Biden ran on a promise of transparency, but between what's happened at the border and the fact that the President has not yet held a former press conference, this battle with the press appears to be entirely of their own making.

HAROLD HOLZER, LINCOLN SCHOLAR, HUNTER COLLEGE: And should anyone be surprised. Thanks for asking me on.

This has been going on since -- really since the days of George Washington, the battle between transparency and control. And, look, Lyndon Johnson allowed reporters to cover Vietnam. And it proved his undoing, certainly in the modern era. Ever since then, access has generally been restricted and fought for at -- by the press.

Think of George W. Bush's restrictions on coverage of Iraq, and Barack Obama's lack of transparency. Although he too ran on a promise of transparency. I think it's a mistake in the end, because things always open up eventually and these grudges exist. But it's, again, we shouldn't be surprised or think it's that remarkable BROWN: And we know as a reporter, I've been a reporter for more than 15 years, you always find a way to get the information. And in this case, we're going to find out exactly what's going on, you know, on the border and these facilities and so forth.

HOLZER: Of course.

BROWN: I want to talk about tomorrow's episode of "Lincoln: Divided We Stand" if Lincoln had lived. Do you think that we'd have the same racial divide from Jim Crow, desegregation to the civil rights era to Black Lives Matter that we have today?

HOLZER: Well, that's certainly going to be considered in the final episode tomorrow night. But, you know, in his last speech, Lincoln talked about voter expansion. We don't think of Republicans doing that today. They're talking about voter suppression. He talked about giving African-Americans the right to vote no president had ever done so.

John Wilkes Booth was in the audience that night, and turn to a friend and said, that's the last speech I'll ever make. Now, I'll put him through. And three days later, he shot him to death. So, Republicans of the 1860s were fighting for black rights, certainly opening doors that had never been opened before.

And I -- you know, I, of course, it's who knows, but I'd like to think that Lincoln would have perhaps too slowly for many people, but eventually gotten where we needed to be on equal rights.

BROWN: All right. Harold Holzer, thank you very much.

HOLZER: Thank you, Pam.

BROWN: And you can watch the all-new episode of "Lincoln: Divided We Stand" tomorrow night at 10:00 Eastern right here on CNN.

And coming up tomorrow on CNN NEWSROOM, I'll talk to Andy Slavitt, President Biden's Senior Advisor for COVID response. I'm going to ask him about the new guidelines for reopening schools and the push to get every adult American vaccinated quickly.

BROWN: Thank you so much for joining me this evening. I'm Pamela Brown. Don't forget that you can tweet me at and you can also follow me on Instagram with the same handle. And I'll see you again tomorrow night starting at six Eastern.


"The Human Cost of COVID" hosted by Miguel Marquez premieres next.