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CNN NEWSROOM

Witnesses Say, Grocery Store Workers Kept Others from Danger; U.S. Health Officials Question Outdated AstraZeneca Vaccine Data; Biden will Deliver Remarks on Boulder Shooting This Afternoon. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired March 23, 2021 - 11:30   ET

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


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[11:30:00]

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN NEWSROOM: And as we're learning the names of the ten people killed in yesterday's shooting for the first time, we are also learning new details about what happened inside the Boulder grocery store as shots were ringing out yesterday.

Witnesses say that employees at King Soopers valiantly also helped get customers out of harm's way, leading customers to safety through various exits. I want to play for you what one person who was inside, what one witness to this tragedy says happened to him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RYAN BOROWSKI, SUPERMARKET SHOOTING WITNESS: We ran to the back of the store and, you know, found our way into the employee backhouse. Some people were kind of running with the pantry employees were telling people, you know, this is the exit. We went out the cargo bay and jumped underneath the loading truck that was there and ran up the back of the hill.

Somebody had their hand on my back. I had my hand on somebody's back. And we were just saying go, go, go, run. When we got to the back of the store, there were employees who still didn't know what was going on and we just told them to run.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Joining me right now is Kim Cordova. She is the president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local Chapter 7, which represents grocery store workers, including in Colorado, and including the 32 members who work at King Soopers in Boulder. Kim, thank you very much for coming in. I'm so sorry it is because of this.

We just learned that the store manager, Rikki Olds, 25 years old, was killed, is one of the victims who was killed yesterday. Did you know her?

KIM CORDOVA, PRESIDENT, UFCW LOCAL 7: Rikki was a member of Local 7. She had worked in another store and had transferred over to this store in Boulder and transferred over to the non-union side of the store. She was a member of the union at one time. We knew her. She worked in the deli and meat side of the store. Very nice, very friendly, very caring, she was always happy, just a really great person and this is a horrible day for all of our members and for all of the King Soopers workers, for our community, for everybody that was a victim of this senseless act.

BOLDUAN: Yes, 25 years old. How long, do you know, has she been working with the company?

CORDOVA: I believe she started at King Soopers, I want to say, maybe -- I know she transferred around 2018. But she had been with the company for -- I think over five years. She had been with the company for a while.

BOLDUAN: Do you know if any of the other victims were employees? We've just now learned their names.

CORDOVA: I understand that there are several employees that did pass away. We want to make sure we respect the integrity of the investigation. But we are deeply heartbroken over the loss of workers and customers and the police officer during this horrific incident. It's just absolutely heartbreaking.

BOLDUAN: Kim, that is horrible to hear.

[11:35:02]

How many -- even if obviously, we have their names here and you want to respect the integrity of the investigation but do you know how many of the victims were employees?

CORDOVA: I do. I want to make sure that we respect the integrity of the investigation, want to make sure that all of family members have been notified. I can tell you that these grocery workers have been through so much over this last year dealing with COVID-19, you know, customers, the mask issue, it's been really rough for these employees. And like your earlier report, they were heroes throughout this whole pandemic and they were heroes during this incident.

And, you know, everybody is really traumatized about, you know, the incidents of what happened. There is a lot of shock. And people are just horrified. They're scared, so senseless. You know, our members, workers just don't understand why somebody or any of us, we can't understand why this person would go in there and commit this type of act.

BOLDUAN: And I was going to ask you, I mean, what you're hearing from members who were in the store yesterday and we're hearing from witness who were in the store, customers who were in the store who were so thankful that they were being led out of harm's way by some of these employees, maybe, you know, putting themselves in peril because of it.

CORDOVA: Yes. Workers on the frontline, these essential workers, they put in -- they have been putting their lives at risk. You know, coming to work every day through COVID-19 and then now with this incident, they knew the layout of the store and, of course, you know, grabbed their co-workers and customers, you know, and made it to safety, those that were able to do that. And they were very heroic and they're heroes. They really are.

BOLDUAN: For sure. What a horrible day. Thank you for coming on. Please, thank you.

CORDOVA: Thank you so much.

BOLDUAN: I really appreciate you coming in.

CORDOVA: Thank you for having me on.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much.

CORDOVA: All right.

BOLDUAN: We're going to continue to follow this breaking news out of Colorado, the tragedy just compounding tragedy. I was really struck by the governor saying that it was just the flags have barely been raised back full after the shooting, the mass shooting in Atlanta, and now Boulder, Colorado, the state of Colorado and the country are dealing with this, flags again needing to remain at half mast.

We have much more ahead on. Plus, we have much more -- new headlines and much more coming in on the fight against the pandemic. New concerns over the AstraZeneca vaccine trial in the United States, the question raised overnight, why Dr. Anthony Fauci calls that this an unforced error.

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[11:40:00]

BOLDUAN: Unusual pushback and publicly so from the federal government to vaccine maker AstraZeneca. U.S. health officials were raising new concerns about data that the company released just yesterday. The independent review board saying overnight that the company may have included outdated information in its press release yesterday giving an incomplete view of its efficacy results. What the company released yesterday included the information that the vaccine was 79 percent effective to prevent symptomatic illness. And Dr. Anthony Fauci then said this today about the company's release.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Well, this is really what you call an unforced error. Because the fact is this is very likely a very good vaccine. And this kind of thing does, as you say, do nothing but really cast some doubt about the vaccines and maybe contribute to the hesitancy.

At the end of the day, Robin, all of this is going to be decided by the FDA. They will independently go over every bit of data themselves and not rely on any interpretation from anyone.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Here with me many now is Dr. Rob Davidson. He's an emergency room physician and Executive Director of the Committee to Protect Medicare. Doctor, thank you for coming in.

Dr. Fauci calling this an unforced error on the part of AstraZeneca. I mean what do you think of this and what impact it will have?

DR. ROB DAVIDSON, EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN: Well, I think that whatever the numbers end up being, that will all play out, and we don't know that for sure. But, honestly, I choose to look at this as a promising note that says that the FDA, as they issue these emergency use authorizations, is not just a rubber stamp approval process to get these things out in the market.

Yes, it's a pandemic. Yes, it's critical. We want more vaccines. We want options. But we also need to know that what we're getting is safe, it is as effective as advertised. And I think the FDA is showing us they're independent and we can trust what is out there. And if they eventually decide that they should approve this and it's safe and effective, we should believe that as well.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Dr. Fauci is saying that FDA review board will look at every piece of data that they have, not looking at every word, if you will, from press release.

[11:45:06]

They will be looking through the data themselves. That is their job and that's why you can trust it.

I have heard many smart people saying that soon the problem is not going to be for the United States, a supply problem with vaccines, instead, going to be a demand problem. The Biden administration is concerned about vaccine hesitancy. They're launching a public campaign to tackle that. How serious of a problem do you think this actually is? I mean, what do you hear from your patients?

DAVIDSON: Yes. I hear patients asking, and I ask them all time, have you been vaccinated? If not, are you going to get vaccinated? And if not, do you have questions? My wife is a family doctor. She gets messages in her inbox from patients every day, dozens of them. And we have national organizations, we have a statewide organization of family physicians here in Michigan who are asking for vaccines in their offices because they are the best messengers. I think there has been really good data out there showing that hesitancy exists particularly among Trump voters and Republicans but those people trust their doctors.

So we need to get those frontline doctors, myself, my wife, others who are taking care of patients who have earned their trust over the years so we can be the messengers for this. And think that is going to be how we get to that last group of people eventually.

BOLDUAN: Doctor, is there one question you get most? Is there any kind of commonality in why people are hesitant and why people are nervous to get a shot?

DAVIDSON: There is definitely groups of hesitancy. There is a lot of folks who just say, I want to wait and see. But the folks who seem to be the most dug in have a common theme. A, they never quite believed this thing was very serious, you know, the lasting effects of the downplaying of the virus for about a year by a group of folks, particularly former president and others. And so in that, they, you know, say any degree of question about safety or, you know, any kind of effects they're not sure about, they're just not it's worth it.

So I think we need to keep talking about things like long COVID, the number of people who have died, the suffering that people have endured and then also talk about the FDA and how they are showing us that they take these studies seriously, that they're going to only get us things that are effective and most importantly safe.

BOLDUAN: Yes, it isn't just the sniffles. It doesn't last for only a couple weeks. For some, it's lasting longer than a year because of long COVID and the long haul symptoms that they're having to deal with with no end in sight.

Doctor, thanks for coming in.

DAVIDSON: Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, seven mass shootings in seven days. Now the Biden administration is facing new pressure to do something to stop this.

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[11:50:00]

BOLDUAN: We are back with the breaking news. Sadly, the breaking news, all ten victims of yesterday's mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado, have now been identified. Their names just released in a news conference that we followed very closely.

We have also just learned that President Biden has been briefed on the killings, and just moments ago, he ordered that all flags at the White House and the White House complex be flown at half staff in honor of the victims. This is the second mass shooting like this that this president must now confront in just one week.

Joining me now is CNN's John Harwood for more on this. John, what are you hearing from the White House and when are we going to hear from the president?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, the president's traveling to Ohio today for another purpose, which is to tout his COVID relief bill on the way it strengthens the Affordable Care act, 11 years after that bill was signed. But we do expect him to address the shooting in Boulder as he leaves the White House, around 1:00, a little bit more than an hour from now.

We've already heard from Vice President Kamala Harris this morning. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KAMALA HARRIS, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: It's tragic. It's absolutely tragic. It's tragic. Ten people were going about their day, living their lives, not bothering anybody, a police officer, who was performing his duties, and with great courage and heroism.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARWOOD: Now, of course you can expect to hear similar remarks from the president about this horrific event, expressions of empathy for the victims but the real question, as you know, Kate, is going to be how does this change the president's agenda, what does he actually do about it?

BOLDUAN: And that is the question right now. We heard it from, you know, the microphone at the press conference that we were just listening to, when -- with members of Congress saying enough is enough, and what are we going to do now? I mean, this clearly puts new pressure on an agenda item for the White House, but one we haven't heard so much about, which, of course, is gun safety laws.

What are they going -- how are they going to push this? Do you have any sense of the conversations that are going on?

HARWOOD: Well, I think they're going to do some things. The question is how fast and how much? They've been -- the White House has been talking about some executive orders that could strengthen, for example, weaknesses in the existing background check system, talk about enforcing gun laws more stringently than they're being enforced right now.

[11:55:05]

The legislative question, of course, is tricky. Both things like background checks, overwhelmingly popular in the country, an assault weapons ban is also highly popular, very difficult to pass legislatively so long as you've got a filibuster in place, assault weapons ban, which the president pushed as a senator during the Clinton administration successfully but then it expired. That is something that would be difficult to pass even if you only depend upon Democratic votes.

The background check is one that you need to break the filibuster in order to pass. The question is, is the president going to see this as motivation to try to seek that step as has been discussed earlier for things like voting rights.

BOLDUAN: Yes, that's a good question. John, thank you.

Coming up for us, we're going to have much more on the tragic mass shooting, the massacre, in Colorado, including new details about the victims that we were just now getting in. We'll be right back.

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