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CNN NEWSROOM

Miami Beach Under State Of Emergency Amid "Overwhelming" Crowds; More Than 5,000 Children Now In Border Patrol Custody; Defense Secretary Austin Makes Unannounced Visit To Afghanistan; Crowds Across U.S. Hold Anti-Hate Rallies After Spa Shootings; New CDC Guidance: Three Feet Of Distancing Is Safe In Schools; D.C. Statehood Push Gets New Life On Capitol Hill; Men's Tournament It With Its First COVID Forfeit. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired March 21, 2021 - 14:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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[14:00:23]

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

We begin this hour with stunning pictures out of spring break in south Florida where the city of Miami Beach has declared a state of emergency.

Spring break and the use of pepper balls being fired into the crowd. The mayor calling the situation overnight "overwhelming" for local police and the neighboring police departments brought in to help.

At least a dozen people were arrested last night after multiple attempts to disperse the crowds. The situation growing so dire city officials are holding an emergency meeting next hour.

And an increase in travel to Florida and across the U.S. has health officials concerned. The TSA saying more than a million people passed through U.S. airports for the tenth straight day on Saturday. And it comes at a time when the CDC is still recommending Americans to avoid travel.

Let's go now to the unfolding situation in south Florida. CNN's Randi Kaye is in Miami Beach. So Randi, what new restrictions did the city install and why do officials believe that it's necessary?

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fred, I'll get to those restrictions in just a second but if you look at some of this video that we have been seeing here in Miami Beach, the scene has really been like something they haven't seen here in quite some time. People are partying like it's 2019, pre-pandemic.

And if you look at that video you can see that these are a lot of spring breakers. They've been cooped up for a long time, more than a year now and they want to get out and blow off some steam.

Many of them are not masked and the governor here in the state of Florida has not set out a mask mandate so they don't have to wear mask.

Although the city here would like to start to fine people who are not wearing masks but that is not something the governor says you can do right now.

So we've now just topped two million coronavirus cases here in the state of Florida, certainly not a number that officials wanted to see so the mayor of Miami Beach who has told spring breakers, look, if you're coming here to get crazy, go somewhere else, we don't want you.

There is now a state of emergency here in Miami Beach because of the scene that's been unfolding here and that state of emergency includes a new 8:00 p.m. curfew for these high entertainment zones where we are here in Miami Beach, also the causeways leading from the mainland to Ocean Drive where we are in some of these other areas.

That now closes at 9:00 p.m. except to people who own businesses here or work in businesses or residents or hotel guests in the area. The rules are going to be in place for at least the next 72 hours. As you mentioned, there's that commission meeting for the Miami Beach City Commission. They're going to be meeting about 3:00 p.m. today, we expect to get some news out of that.

But right now the city manager is saying I'm ok with this new state of emergency being in place until April 12th when spring break officially ends. So we'll see.

But the mayor of Miami Beach certainly has had a lot to say about all of this. Here's what he told CNN.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR DAN GELBER (D), MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA: Our city is one of the few destinations that are open nationally. Most other places are closed. Most other places might be too cold or both so we're getting an enormous amount of people here, more than we can handle. Too many are coming, really without the intention of following the rules.

It feels like a rock concert, wall to wall people over blocks and blocks. Last night somebody shot a weapon up in the air and there was a riot. Other things have happened that are similarly challenging and so it feels like a tinder. It feels like just any match could set it off.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KAYE: A dozen arrests last night, even after the 8:00 p.m. curfew went into place. The streets were still full. Police were having a hard time clearing the streets here in the Miami Beach area. They were eventually able to do so.

But those arrests are on top of the more than 100 arrests, Fred, from last weekend and police had to use pepper spray on folks in the street. So it's certainly a situation here. Fred, back to you.

WHITFIELD: Wow. Ok, Randi Kaye, keep us posted on the emergency meeting scheduled for next hour as well. Appreciate it, from Miami Beach.

All right. Meantime, the migrant surge on the U.S. border with Mexico continues to grow even though the Biden administration refuses to call it a crisis. More than 5,000 children are now in border patrol custody, almost 600 of them have been there for more than ten days.

And last night buses were seen driving -- arriving, rather, at the convention center in Dallas which has become a temporary shelter facility for some of the teens who are in border patrol custody.

[14:05:00]

WHITFIELD: Earlier today on CNN, the head of Homeland Security was asked what is being done to get these kids help more quickly?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DANA BASH, CNN HOST: When are you going to be able to have facilities up and running so that no child is in these jail-like border protection facilities for more than 72 hours?

ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, U.S. SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Dana, we established three new facilities just last week. We are also implementing new efficiencies in the HHS process so that we can unite these children with their relatives here in the United States.

We are working on the system from beginning to end. We are working around the clock 24/7.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: I want to bring in now CNN's Priscilla Alvarez, who is at the convention center in Dallas. Priscilla, set the scene for us there.

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN REPORTER: So this center has been transformed as an emergency intake site. The administration is using part of the center to start to accommodate kids who are crossing the U.S./Mexico border alone and alleviate overcrowding in border patrol facilities.

As you mentioned, we learned that there are now more than 5,000 children in border patrol custody. These are facilities meant to process adults, not to care for children. But the overwhelming number of children crossing the U.S./Mexico border has created a bottleneck as the administration tries to transfer them out to shelters.

So they are now setting up these emergency intake sites like the one here in Dallas for children to come to continue through the process. So we caught up with an immigration attorney just yesterday who described the scene inside the center.

They said there were cots set up for these kids. There was a food hall, there was puzzles and games for the children to keep them entertained as well as a set-up for them to call family either in the United States or internationally. So we have asked for access to the center. We have not been granted that access yet but again this set-up totally different from the border patrol facilities which again are not intended for children.

WHITFIELD: And Priscilla, what happens to the children once they do arrive? What's your understanding of what's in place for them?

ALVAREZ: So children are going to work with case managers who will try to relocate them with relatives in the United States. Most of them do have family here in the United States. They will then be transferred to them.

And during that time with relatives, they'll work through the immigration hearings. So eventually an immigration judge will decide whether they stay in the United States or whether they're deported but the idea here is getting them to family so they can work through those hearings.

Again, many of these kids are also asking for asylum in the United States and then work through that process through that immigration system and a judge will ultimately make the decision, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Priscilla Alvarez, thank you so much from Dallas.

Next hour, I will be joined by an immigration attorney who has been inside the convention center in Dallas and will also paint a picture for us.

All right. It is his first trip as Pentagon chief to Afghanistan. U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin made the unannounced visit today.

This trip comes at a critical time. President Biden must soon decide whether to stick with the Trump era agreement that would remove all U.S. forces from that country by May 1st.

CNN's Barbara Starr is at the Pentagon with more on this. Barbara, what is the current U.S. position on that agreement reached last year with the Taliban?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good afternoon, Fredricka. Secretary Austin at this hour on his way back to Washington after the unannounced visit. And it's all about security and it's worth noting 20 years into this war, America's longest war, he still cannot say ahead of time that he is going there because of the security situation.

We are weeks away from the May 1st deadline that the Trump administration negotiated with the Taliban to have all U.S. troops out of the country by May 1st. Now, Austin said he wasn't there to discuss the deadline per se, but to listen, especially the Afghan president Ashraf Ghani in a meeting to see what Ghani's concerns were.

Importantly Secretary Austin did not publicly, at least, commit to that May 1st deadline, and holding to that. Listen to what he had to say. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LLOYD AUSTIN, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: AND In terms of an end date or setting a specific date for withdrawal, that's the domain of my boss. That's the decision that the president will make at some point in time in terms of how he wants to approach this going forward.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STARR: and, in fact, President Biden has already indicated it may be that the U.S. is not done in Afghanistan As of that May 1st deadline. One option we are hearing is on the table is a potential six-month extension for U.S. troops there, but everyone is emphasizing no decision's been made, a lot of options to consider, but that May 1st deadline is coming up fast, Fred.

WHITFIELD: A=All right. Barbara Starr at the Pentagon, thanks so much for that.

[14:09:57]

WHITFIELD: All right. Coming up in the CNN NEWSROOM, people across America fighting back against hate after a gunman killed six Asian women in the Atlanta area. We'll go live to a rally in New York and I'll talk with the writer of a powerful new op-ed.

Plus, school staffers react to the new coronavirus guidelines from the CDC. Why a school superintendent is calling them a game changer.

And then later, behind the scenes at Buckingham Palace. After Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's bombshell interview the move the royal family is considering to address race relations.

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WHITFIELD: In the aftermath of the shooting spree in the Atlanta area last week that claimed the lives of eight people, including six Asian women, rallies against hate are growing across the country. Protesters are demanding justice for the victims and are pushing for an end to discrimination and violence aimed at Asian-Americans.

CNN's Jason Carroll is in New York City where an anti-hate rally is under way. Looks like a pretty significant turnout there.

[14:15:03]

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, very significant turnout. We're here in Columbus Park in Chinatown where we've seen more than a thousand people who have come into this park to contribute and to attend this rally here.

And we've seen rallies like this all across the country. People coming out to speak out against hate, against Asian-Americans.

Here in New York City, Fredricka, just to give you some perspective, the NYPD last year reported 28 hate crimes. The year before that in 2019 there were three, the year before that in 2018 there were just two.

And what they're -- so we've seen a real uptick in the amount of hate crimes against Asian-Americans here in this country and oftentimes people here in this community tell me the crimes go underreported so it's hard to quantify what they're really seeing here.

But today we're seeing a number of people coming here, they're speaking out. We've heard people say things like Asian lives matter. We've seen a number of people, community leaders taking the stage, political leaders taking the stage. Andrew Yang former presidential candidate, current mayoral candidate on the stage now speaking out for the need for more people to speak out on this particular issue.

And the consensus that we've gotten from talking to people here in this crowd, Fredricka, is a couple things. First, there's got to be more police presence in these areas where Asian-Americans are experiencing this uptick in crimes. Second, more education. And third, they're hoping that lawmakers will get behind legislation to address the issue of hate crimes against Asian-Americans.

And finally just to wrap up, I spoke to one young woman who was out here. She didn't want to go on camera but she wanted this point to be known. She said that the Asian-American community has been silent for so many years in terms of dealing with this issue. She says they will no longer be silent, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right. Jason Carroll, thank you so much. That sentiment reverberating. In fact the spa shootings in the Atlanta area is a deadly punctuation to the surge in violence and attacks on Asian- Americans. It has caused many Asian-Americans high profile and otherwise to speak up.

In a CNN.com op-ed headlined, "I'm done ignoring the racism I've faced as an Asian American". Jeanine Celeste Pang writes "It's time to stop politely waiting our turn to speak as a culture that values filial piety, the deep respect and care for elderly, we must protect them.

As a culture that nurtures the next generation, we must give them a better future. And we need to do it in solidarity because when other people hear our stories we no longer become invisible."

Jeanine Celeste Pang is the writer of that heartfelt op-ed. She is the senior creative director, of brand Voice at Old Navy. Jeanine, so good to see you my friend. Sorry it's been so long but I'm so glad we are reconnecting.

Your op-ed really was so powerful. It was actually posted before the shooting. So tell me what motivated you to write this piece.

JEANINE CELESTE PANG, SENIOR CREATIVE DIRECTOR, OLD NAVY: Yes, it's so great to see you as well, Fred.

I essentially wrote this piece as a form of therapy. My friends and I had been talking about the uptick in racism for over a year but we didn't actually see it outside in the media. And it was in our own echo chambers. And so I wrote it as a way to just get my voice out there and to get some things off my chest.

WHITFIELD: Wow. And what were you and your friends talking about? What were you sharing about those frustrations?

PANG: Everything from the ways that our dad, my dad was afraid to go outside. He wanted to cancel his gym membership because he didn't want people to think he was this old man from China who was spreading the virus.

A friend of mine in New York shared that she was spat on by strangers in the streets of Soho and that her kids were afraid to ride the subway, not because of COVID but because of the bullying. and then of course all of the videos that were popping up in the Bay Area and beyond of just really terrible racist things that were being said to my community.

WHITFIELD: So your dad had concerns. I mean, your parents are Chinese immigrants. You're first generation American. And in this past year you've been dealing with the pandemic, you were pregnant. You gave birth to twins, Rocco and Astra. You're worried about your parents.

I mean talk to me about the concerns you personally had about safety, let alone the concerns of your parents expressed by your parents.

PANG: Yes. I mean I think it's really important to realize that our parents and grandparents, they came here by choice. And so when they came to America they felt so lucky and so grateful just to be here.

[14:19:57]

PANG: But they don't actually pick up on a lot of the microaggressions and a lot of the otherness that they do experience. They're just simply lucky to be here and to have sacrificed to give us a better life.

And so when I did become a mom, and in the year of COVID, I had so much time to think and to reflect and to ask myself what kind of mom did I want to be?

And I felt this need to not only protect our elders and to protect my parents and also to make sure that my twins were really proud of who they were and that they didn't have to experience this kind of racism that we did growing up.

WHITFIELD: Wow, and I think your explanation, you know, of appreciating two cultures in your op-ed, it's so powerful. And I'm quoting you. You say "Over time you shrink the parts of self that feel other." I mean, you just you know, touched on that.

And so even instinctively, you know, with the birth of your twins, you gave them Chinese middle names, you sing to them in Chinese, you fed them congee. And you celebrated the Lunar New Year by parading them around in red and gold.

So tell me about, you know, what you are trying to impart on them? And also more publicly exhibit the pride that you speak of. PANG: Yes. I mean, I just want to impart on them that, you know, they

should not grow up resenting the shape of their eyes or being afraid of bringing lunch and having kids, you know, bully and say that their lunches are smelly.

What I realized after writing this op-ed is so many people have reached out to me. So many people in my community and otherwise that have resonated. There is actually this incredible note from a leader in my company who said "your story is my story and every immigrant's story".

And so I think that there was just something so powerful that, you know, my story is one in 21 million. And I want my twins to be able to speak up. I want them to voice and not shrink parts of themselves to society.

WHITFIELD: And you're also now using your business prowess to challenge companies to invest in fighting ignorance and fighting hate.

PANG: Yes. And I think the word "invest" is really important and I'm so happy you used that word. I think there's a difference between investing and donating. Investing really, to me, is doing more than just posting about we stand in solidarity.

It is actually really thinking about the structures in a business, thinking about how we are boosting representation on all levels, thinking about how we can create safe space conversations.

You know, we are a culture who generally do keep a low profile, right. And, you know, we in general have been invisible for this long and the racism that we've experienced has been invisible. But now the spotlight is turned on us.

So what is it that we want to say and what is it that we want to keep pushing forward is really important to me.

WHITFIELD: Really important, all right, to all of us. Jeanine Celeste Pang, so good to see you. And beautiful picture of you and your kids, too. All the best.

Thank you so much for writing that and really enlightening so many. Really appreciate it.

PANG: Thank you so much, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. For more information on this conversation join Anderson Cooper, Amara Walker, Victor Blackwell and Ana Cabrera for our CNN special "AFRAID, FEAR IN AMERICA'S COMMUNITIES OF COLOR". That is tomorrow night at 9:00 right here on CNN.

WHITFIELD: All right. Still ahead, will more children be allowed in classrooms now that the CDC cut social distancing rules from six feet to three? An important conversation with the San Antonio Schools superintendent.

Plus the NCAA is leveling the playing field after these photos showed a major disparity between the men's and women's facilities.

[14:24:02]

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WHITFIELD: All right. New numbers from the CDC show that nearly a quarter of the U.S. population has gotten at least one COVID vaccination. Just over 81 million people have received their first dose. About 44 million Americans are now fully vaccinated.

Parents across America are waiting to see how their schools are going to implement the new guidelines issued last week from the CDC, calling for just three feet social distancing instead of six in most cases.

Joining me right now is Pedro Martinez, the superintendent of the San Antonio Independent School District. He's also the board chair of Chiefs for Change.

Superintendent, good to see you.

PEDRO MARTINEZ, SUPERINTENDENT, SAN ANTONIO INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

WHITFIELD: So classrooms in your district have been open since the fall, but you call the new guidance a real game changer. Will this allow you to bring more students into the classrooms?

MARTINEZ: Absolutely. I think it's one additional factor that's supporting us. We need more children in person.

We know, Fredricka, that the majority of our children need to be in school, need to in in-person. That virtual instruction isn't ideal for them. What has been troubling for us and really confusing is just vagueness in the guidance.

And so even though our data has shown that schools have been safe not only in my district but across the country with all of our safety procedures, the six feet social distancing requirement was limiting how many children we could bring in, for the most part up to about 50 percent.

The three feet will allow us to go up to 80 percent, and maybe even above that depending on the size of our classrooms.

[14:30:01]

WHITFIELD: Yes. And most families want their kids in school, but the issues were about safety. You know, how do you make sure that they are there safely.

So, the CDC's updated guidance still says in addition to maybe the three feet now you still have to wear masks, you got to hand wash, you got to do contact tracing and testing.

Will that be easy to enforce, especially since the Texas Governor Abbott lifted mask mandates? How do you enforce and make sure everyone is still wearing masks in school?

MARTINEZ: You know, so, what I have seen right here in San Antonio and across even most of our state is that my colleagues are continuing to enforce mask mandates. In fact, we're about a month away from having all of our staff fully vaccinated. But even then, we're still going to have mask wearing requirements for all staff and children through the end of the school year.

And so, we know that mask wearing are washing hands every day, we have COVID testing with community labs across every one of our schools, those are the safety procedures that are keeping our schools safe and because of that, we have seen very little cases in our schools, and even with quarantined individuals because of cases from the community, we see -- we see almost no spread or virtually zero spread.

WHITFIELD: Do you have any concerns, any worries, or resources, you know, at all a problem, kids, everyone having access to, say, masks?

MARTINEZ: You know, because of the federal packages that have been passed, and just wanting to make sure that every state does the right thing and passes those resources on to their districts, the resources are there. We have amazing community partners. We've seen a significant amount of foundation given, and philanthropic given to help with either masks or other ppe needs that our districts may have. I don't see that as an obstacle anymore.

WHITFIELD: OK. So while kids can be three feet apart in school, the CDC is still recommending that adults maintain six feet of distance with both other adults and children, how difficult or easy, for that matter, might this be for you?

MARTINEZ: You know, for adults it's a lot easier because the majority of our schools in our country, they're actually pretty large. Our classrooms are large, you know, for the majority of our classrooms it's only the teacher. Sometimes we have a teacher and aide, some special ed classrooms have multiple adults but also have less children.

So, we have not seen that initial. I'm optimistic as vaccines are rolling out more, in our district we're a month away, from having all of our staff fully vaccinated. You're going to see the same level of progress across other districts around the country.

WHITFIELD: With all of these -- with the new guidance, and with combined with your existing approach, do you see that come fall, perhaps, it will be going to school as normal, or as people recall it being, before this pandemic?

MARTINEZ: Well, I want it to be better. Not just normal. You know, we had our challenges before with achievement gaps, so all of my colleagues agree they have to make it better but I do believe the vast majority, our goal is at least 80 percent of our children to be in person. We will have children that will have to start -- they won't have an approved vaccine for them. Making sure we partner with health care providers to prioritize communities that need the vaccines. Many of our high poverty communities as you know even today are still

not getting equitable access to vaccines so we need to ensure that that gets better so that our children feel safe so that -- because they're not going to come to school if they're going to put a household member at risk.

WHITFIELD: Superintendent Pedro Martinez in San Antonio, thank you so much. All the best to you.

MARTINEZ: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

WHITFIELD: Absolutely.

MARTINEZ: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right. Still to come, should D.C. become the nation's 51st state? Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes-Norton makes her case next.

Plus, don't miss an unprecedented event with Dr. Sanjay Gupta when the medical leaders on the war on COVID break their silence. CNN's special report, "COVID War: The Pandemic Doctors Speak Out" begins next Sunday at 9:00.

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[14:39:04]

WHITFIELD: The fight to make Washington, D.C. the 51st state is getting new life as hearings get under way on Capitol Hill tomorrow. The District of Columbia doesn't get a vote in Congress despite being among the most taxed citizens in the country. Congress also has control of the city's local laws, and its budget. D.C. voters tend to lean Democrat, and some critics suggest that statehood is just a power grab for more Democratic seats.

Here's how the White House press secretary said President Biden might respond to that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think he would say that the half a million people who live in D.C., am I getting that number right?

REPORTER: A little more than that now.

PSAKI: A little more than. It's grown since I left and went to the suburbs, would argue with that point and so would he. I mean, he believes they deserve representation, that's why he supports D.C. statehood.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: So more than 700,000 residents, and more than 600,000 of them are full-time.

[14:40:01]

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton can correct me on that one. She is the Democrat representing the District of Columbia and is also a member of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, which is holding tomorrow's hearing.

So, good to see you.

REP. ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON (D), DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Good to see you. And it's 712,000 full-time residents.

WHITFIELD: All right. There you go, okay, see, then the number is even higher than that.

So you've been fighting for statehood for maybe at least 30 years, do I have that right? I think I was a college intern the first time I had an opportunity to interview you about that. So it was somewhere in that 30-year period.

So you've been at this for a very long time. Why do you feel like you are closer now than ever?

NORTON: We're closer now forever frankly because we have a Democratic majority. For most of my terms in the Congress, I have been in the minority. Now we have a Democratic majority in the House, the Senate and in the presidency. That puts us much closer to statehood than we've ever been since I've been in the Congress.

WHITFIELD: And the president, as a the vice president, expressed that he's all for, you know, statehood. His mind has been unchanged.

Help people understand what statehood will mean for residents there. I mean, they are, unfortunately, enjoying some of the highest per capita taxes but how might life change, what kind of input besides having representation on Capitol Hill, voting representative, what will statehood mean?

NORTON: Yes, and you just said some of the highest taxes per capita, let's put that number out there, the highest federal taxes per capita, in the United States are paid by the people I represent. Now, you ask what are the -- I'm sorry. State that question again.

WHITFIELD: What are the benefits? How does statehood change the lives of -- yeah, those full-time residents?

NORTON: The benefits, and you indicated that the Congress interferes with the district's ability to govern itself. I have to, in fact, go to the Congress and keep that interference from occurring. But the primary benefit is that we'd have two senators. We'd have a voting representative. I vote on every matter in committee. I can chair committees.

I even vote in the committee of the whole on the floor but on that final vote, there is no vote for the District of Columbia on the House floor, even when the matter involves only the District of Columbia. And no votes in the Senate, I have to go to the Senate to find allies. Fortunately, I'm often able to do so.

What we want is equal representation with other Americans. And we are very, very hopeful that that is occurring because the latest poll show that after the last hearing, 54 percent of the American people support statehood for the people of the District of Columbia.

WHITFIELD: Well, tomorrow, potentially, the start of a new day for you and for D.C. residents, right? At least that's how hopeful you are about tomorrow's hearings.

NORTON: Very hopeful because if it does for us what the last hearing did, that 50 percent will go up even higher, particularly when people find out we pay the highest federal taxes per capita. At that point, you even get something like 42 percent of the Republicans for statehood. I think that's because the reason that this nation was formed in the first place, was taxation with representation.

These hearings are telling the American people what they don't know. The more they find out what they don't know, the more they come toward statehood. Our goal is to raise that 54 percent even higher after this hearing.

WHITFIELD: And I think a lot of people wouldn't think -- they're thinking D.C., it's small, but the population is tantamount to Wyoming or even Vermont. So it may be small in terms of square footage or miles, right?

NORTON: Yes, larger than those two states and about the equivalent population of seven states.

WHITFIELD: All right. We are going to leave it there. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, thank you so much. I know we'll talk again very soon.

NORTON: My pleasure.

WHITFIELD: We'll be right back.

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[14:49:17]

WHITFIELD: All right. For many reasons, this year's March Madness tournaments are unlike any other. For one, despite the NCAA enforcing a strict COVID protocol, the first round game in the men's tournament between Virginia Commonwealth University and University of Oregon was declared a no contest on Saturday because of COVID-19. Plus, a series of first round upsets busting brackets, including mine, yours truly.

I want to bring in CNN's Andy Scholes who's in Indianapolis for us.

Tell us what happened with this VCU team.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fredricka, this really was a scenario the NCAA was hoping to avoid, having to cancel a game and a team withdrawal from the tournament. You know, they set up this controlled environment with strict protocols here in Indianapolis, hoping to keep COVID from disrupting this tournament.

[14:50:04]

But VCU head coach Mike Rhoades says his team actually had multiple positive COVID-19 tests over the last couple days due to contact tracing, the team didn't even have five players available to take the court so they were forced to withdraw from the tournament which meant Oregon just moved on without having to play last night and the decision came just hours before tipoff and, you know, definitely hard for the Rams players, and staff to swallow.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE RHOADES, VCU HEAD COACH: It was devastating. It was heartbreaking. Not a lot of -- no dry eyes. This is what you dream of as a college player and a coach. To get it taken away like this is just -- it's a heartbreaking moment in their young lives and, you know, I told them it -- a lot of times in life, it's not fair, and this is one of those -- one of those times, and let's just -- you know, we're going to deal with this together.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: Now, teams continue to be tested daily here in Indianapolis, and we're down to 32 teams now here in downtown. By Tuesday, we'll be down to just 16 teams, and a familiar face is going to be staying around.

Sister Jean, and Loyola Chicago, the first team to punch their ticket to the sweet 16. The Ramblers, they had a dominant effort against one- seed Illinois today. They didn't trail the entire game, winning 71-58.

You might remember in 2018, Loyola Chicago, they shocked the entire world and made the final four as an 11 seed. This year they're an 8- seed. And, you know, Fred, they busted a lot of brackets today beating 1-seed Illinois.

Sister Jean had an all-time great prayer before the game, Fred, where she talked about scoring early, making the opponents nervous, even talked about some stats. She's going to have to extend her stay in Indianapolis and Chicago Loyola headed to the sweet 16.

WHITFIELD: Gladly, I'm sure. Super Jean is a super fan. I love that.

Andy Scholes, thanks so much.

All right. On now to the women's March Madness tournament after receiving so much criticism, well-deserved, over the disparities between the men's workout facilities and the women's, the NCAA revamped the women's weight room from a stack of dumbbells to a full- fledged fitness facility.

An Oregon player Sedona Prince whose viral video exposed the disparity in the first place told me yesterday that she is thrilled with the change.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEDONA PRINCE, CALLED OUT NCAA OVER WEIGHT ROOM DISPARITY IN VIRAL VIDEO: Honestly, I had no idea it would be this level. I just made a TikTok and I put it on Twitter because I wanted to get more exposure. And then, I -- you know, I didn't know if there was a change or not but now that it has been, I'm really happy and all the rest of the girls here are very excited to use our new weight room.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: And Sedona and her team face off with the South Dakota Coyotes tomorrow night. Good luck to them all.

All right. The pandemic has created a lot of anxiety for people who must go to medical facilities.

And in this, start small, think big, we take a look at a small business in Atlanta that is taking the stress out of going to get an X-ray.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DEREK LUCCHESI, FOUNDER, NOMADX MOBILE X-RAY AND IMAGING: At NomadX, we provide medical imaging in the comfort of your home.

Good morning. My name is Derek, I'm the technologist here.

I started out with a man and a machine. Six technologists and specialists that are going in circles around the Metro Atlanta are doing X-rays, ultrasounds, EKGS, echocardiograms, venous Dopplers, you name it.

OK. Slow deep breath, hold it, hold it.

The x-ray we did in the home is processed right here and they're processed right in the van. They're actually on their way to the radiologist, that provided a written report, usually within only a couple of hours.

The images came out great.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Perfect.

YISRAEL, PATIENT: It's a very good experience, especially with people who are home-bound and for people who are concerned about going in to hospitals, to be able to have just one person coming into my house is better than my going into a place with thousands of people going through their halls.

LUCCHESI: When the pandemic hit and the orders started coming in, we responded by working longer hours, working weekends if needed. Just to meet the demand that was needed for these patients.

There's a lot of vulnerable patients either with preexisting conditions or their age. I like to think that we did our part. We were still able to provide this service without them having to go out and risk that exposure. Felt really good.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:59:06]

WHITFIELD: All right. On the heels of that bombshell interview from Harry and Meghan, CNN has learned the royal family may be bringing in a new voice.

CNN'S Anna Stewart joins me now from Buckingham Palace.

So, Anna, what are you learning?

ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: Well, we've had an interesting development really. Days after that interview had a statement from the queen saying the royal family was concerned by issues raised, but they were going to deal with it privately.

But, of course, there's so much more to the royal family than the family. There's a huge institution, hundreds of people working for them.

What we were looking for today from lots of media reports was an announcement about a diversity chief being appointed. Now, we haven't had that confirmed yet. Royal source told us it's too early to make the announcement.

But they did tell us this. Diversity is an issue which is being taken seriously across the royal households. We have the policies, the procedures and programs in place, but we haven't seen the progress we would like in terms of representation, and more needs to be done. We can always improve.

So we got a real clear acknowledgment here from the institution of the palace that more needs to be done.