Return to Transcripts main page


U.S. Voter Suppression; Brazil's ICUs Overflow; Ship Blocking Suez Canal Has Economic Toll; Top Myanmar General Vows to Uphold Democracy on "Day of Shame"; Kenya Imposes New Lockdown on Some Provinces; Inside Hong Kong's Rough and Confusing Vaccine Rollout; Numbers of Migrant Children in U.S. Custody Rising Sharply; Boulder King Soopers Shooter Passed Background Check. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired March 27, 2021 - 03:00   ET




MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello, everyone, and welcome to Studio 7 here at CNN Center in Atlanta. I am Michael Holmes, appreciate your company.

Coming up here on CNN NEWSROOM, the lie is now the law. Donald Trump's assault on democracy now restricting voters in Georgia.

It's getting worse inside ICUs in Brazil. CNN is there as the health care system in South America's largest country collapses.

And the Ever Given nightmare at the Suez Canal, how to move a stuck ship that is as long as the Empire State Building is high.


HOLMES: Welcome, everyone.

An incredulous U.S. president took stock of the stunning new election law in Georgia and announced it "an atrocity," Biden saying he will do everything to block it and said the U.S. Justice Department will look into it. He did not mince words as he slammed this new state law.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's an atrocity. The idea, if you want any indication that it has nothing to do with fairness, nothing to do with decency, they passed a law saying, you can't provide water for people standing in line while they're waiting to vote?

You don't need anything else to know that this is nothing but punitive, designed to keep people from voting.


HOLMES: Now critics say the intent of the new Georgia law, which was fast-tracked to the governor's desk, is to discourage voter turnout, particularly among minorities. It was Georgia, after all, that narrowly went to Biden and flipped the U.S. Senate to Democratic control.

Listen to Raphael Warnock, whose election to the Senate benefited from the heavy turnout in 2020.


SEN. RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D-GA): What is the purpose behind all of this?

So, you are literally going to make public policy based on a lie, based on the feeling that some people have, that things didn't turn out the way they should have turned out?

Is that how we make public policy now?

I thought we did it based on facts and data.


HOLMES: Republican efforts just like Georgia's are, in fact, underway in more than 40 state legislatures across the country. All of them are acting on Donald Trump's nonstop lie that the 2020 election was stolen.

Trump immediately praised the new Georgia law, of course, but lamented it did not happen sooner. CNN's Sara Murray looks at the boundaries that it has created for the states' voters.


SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signing a dramatic overhaul of the state's election laws, the first GOP victory in restricting voter access in a major battleground state.

GOV. BRIAN KEMP (R-GA): After the November election last year, I knew, like so many of you, that significant reforms to our state elections were needed.

MURRAY: The law puts new voter identification requirements on absentee ballots, limits drop boxes to indoor locations during business hours, allows state officials to take over local elections boards and makes it a crime to approach voters in line to provide food and water.

KEMP: Well, it wasn't a voting rights bill. It was an election security bill that actually increases early voting opportunities on the weekend here in Georgia.

MURRAY: The legislation doesn't include earlier efforts to get rid of no-excuse absentee voting and it allows expanded weekend early voting, but advocates say it is still riddled with restrictions that make it harder, particularly for minorities, to vote.

STATE REP. DONNA MCLEOD (D-GA): This is despicable and disgusting. And it creates more barriers to our voters, so that they're not having access to the ballot box like they should. And to actually say to people, you can't give somebody food or water, that's just cruel and inhumane.

MURRAY (voice-over): It was a striking scene Thursday.


MURRAY (voice-over): Kemp huddled behind closed doors with a handful of white men designed to sign the bill.

MCLEOD: This Jim Crow 2.0 is represented in that picture. You see those man. There's no color in them. There's just pure white males trying to basically hold onto power with their life.

MURRAY: Just outside Kemp's office, Park Cannon, a black state representative, was arrested and marched out of the Capitol by several police officers after she knocked on Kemp's door, trying to gain access to the signing ceremony.

Cannon now out of jail and facing two felony charges, which her allies say she intends to fight.

STATE REP. ERICA THOMAS (D-GA): We are now -- is praying for her strength to get through this and we are definitely lawyered up to defend her in every way we know how.

MURRAY: Georgia's law just one of hundreds of bills Republicans are pushing nationwide, as they hold tight to baseless claims of fraud amid their 2020 electoral defeats.

Even Kemp, who defended Georgia's election integrity last year, now appears to be buying into the big lie, as he braces for a reelection fight in 2022.

KEMP: There's no doubt there were many alarming issues with how the election was handled. And those problems, understandably, led to the crisis of confidence in the ballot box here in Georgia.

MURRAY: Former President Trump, meantime, still parroting his fact- free claim.

TRUMP: If you look at the last election, it was disgraceful. It was a Third World election. It was a disgrace.

MURRAY: As the fallout of the big lie spreads, FOX News facing a $1.6 billion defamation suit from Dominion Voting Systems for spreading lies that the machines were linked to election fraud.

STEPHEN SHACKELFORD, ATTORNEY FOR DOMINION VOTING SYSTEMS: FOX gave life to these lies. FOX took this small flame and they turned it into a raging fire.

MURRAY: This as former Trump legal team member Sidney Powell defends herself in her own defamation suit from Dominion, claiming in a court filing that, even though she spread voter fraud claims, "No reasonable person would conclude that the statements were truly statements of fact."

In a statement Friday night, Trump congratulated the Georgia state legislature, saying, "They learned from the travesty of the 2020 presidential election."

Meanwhile, there's three civil rights groups that are already challenging the new Georgia law in court -- Sara Murray, CNN, Washington.


HOLMES: Joining me now, CNN White House politics reporter, Stephen Collinson.

Yes, let's get through some of this. Let's start with the image of governor Kemp signing the law, because it really does illustrate for many, exactly what happened, a group of white men, in front of a painting of a slave-era plantation, signing something that massively impacts people that do not look like them.

And literally as a Black lawmaker was arrested knocking on the door.

Do you think most voters know what is happening and why?

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I think voters in Georgia probably do realize, first of all, because of the coverage of this. And there's been intense coverage, as you know. There's a very engaged electorate in Georgia.

The Democrats have done a very good job under Stacey Abrams of organizing and basically winning that state. Joe Biden was the first Democrat to win since 1992.

But there are voter suppression bills in multiple state legislatures across the country. And I don't believe voters are as aware in those states, places like Texas, Arizona, Pennsylvania, they are not as aware as the voters in Georgia are about how widespread this voter suppression effort is, based on the lies of Trump that the last election was stolen.

HOLMES: And to that point, here in Georgia, this is on top of Kemp having purged voter rolls, cutting voter locations in minority areas.

What are the real-world impacts of what are stunning changes?

Let's be specific here in Georgia, you know, as you point out, based on Donald Trump's Big Lie about fraud which didn't happen.

COLLINSON: If you talk to Democrats, there were not the strides they have made in some of the states, including Georgia, are at risk because many of their voters, potentially thousands of their voters, will not be able to get out to vote.

If you tamp down early voting. If you cut down voting hours, that tends to discriminate against lower income and minority workers, who cannot get off work in the, say, the 12 hour window or the 8-9 hour window that we will have in places like Georgia to vote on Election Day.

Those voters are taking advantage of early voting and mail-in voting. If you cut that, you potentially cut the Democratic turnout. Let's remember, the Democrats only won, Joe Biden won Georgia by about 12,700 votes.


COLLINSON: It doesn't take many people to purge from the electorate for that result to be reversed.

HOLMES: Absolutely. I mean, how might the Georgia -- as you point out, others around the country, 250 bills in 44 states, how might that pressure Joe Biden in a political sense to act on the filibuster in order to pass federal voting rights laws?

COLLINSON: Right, so, there's a massive federal voting rights law that has passed the House. It has national standards for things like early voting, absentee voting, makes registering to vote automatic in many cases. This bill is already in the Senate.

Now the problem in the Senate is, as you say, the filibusterer; you need 60 votes, a super majority really, to get any legislation passed so the Republicans can block it in a 50-50 Senate.

Lots of Democrats want Joe Biden to go ahead and get his Democratic colleagues in Senate to get rid of the filibuster rule so they can get big legislation passed.

The problem is that there are not 50 Democrats who will vote for that that. Several Democrats have said they are worried about the idea of getting rid of the filibuster and aspects of the voting rights law.

So Biden, what he has to do, is try to build public support for the voting rights legislation, to pressure those Democratic senators so they can get to 50 before they talk about changes to the Senate rules and get them to 60 and get this thing into law.

HOLMES: And quick, we are almost out of time. Some of the laws may end up in the Supreme Court but, of course, that has become a conservative court, even before Trump appointees joined.

COLLINSON: Right, the Supreme Court under John Roberts has a history of being reluctant to intervene, to set rules for elections. They have given a lot of discretion to the states.

It seems very unlikely, with the extra conservative justices, the new conservative majority on the Supreme Court, thanks to Trump, that they are going to line up with the Democrats on the issue and take away powers from the state. So even if the Democrats can get the bill passed, it's only the beginning of the story.

HOLMES: A real pivotal time for democracy in America. Stephen Collinson, thank you so much, appreciate it.

COLLINSON: Thanks. HOLMES: The coronavirus pandemic hitting Brazil worse than any other

country on the planet right now. Its health care system is collapsing under the weight of surging infections. Troubling numbers underscore the crisis, Brazil adding more than 3,000 virus deaths to its toll for the second time in a week, a tragic new record.

Since the pandemic began, more than 300,000 Brazilians have lost their lives to COVID. Nearly every single Brazilian state has ICUs at or above 80 percent capacity. And doctors are going to be forced to make the decision of who to save and who to let die. CNN's Matt Rivers reports.


MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When the system collapses, it starts here. Paramedics rushing to respond to seemingly unending cries for help. This time, it's a grandmother short of breath, another COVID case limping toward a hospital system that cannot handle more patients.

RIVERS: So it's easy to spot ambulances like this one racing all over the city going on call after call after call and in some cases, going to multiple hospitals before they actually find one that can admit the patients that they have in the back.

RIVERS (voice-over): Here, a dozen ambulances with patients await outside a Sao Paulo hospital, hoping a spot opens up inside. These days though, getting inside might not help.

The person who gave CNN this footage from another Sao Paulo hospital told us, it feels like a war zone. The rampant viral spread its own mass casualty event and, across the country, a lack of medical supplies is crippling the ability to care for patients.

In this footage given to us from Brazil's federal district a nurse says this oxygen tube is leaking, taped to a wall, they're strung up all over the hospital this way. In some places, draped between windows. It's the only way to get the limited oxygen they have from its source to the patient.

Overflowing rooms are the norm in Brazil now. This Sao Paulo hospital was designated this week as a COVID only facility but it's plain to see, as we walk through, that it's filled beyond capacity, unable to accept any new patients.

RIVERS: This facility is designed for 16 patients; there's roughly double that number inside there right now.


RIVERS (voice-over): Crowded ICUs across the country have created impossible choices. This nurse, who fears he could lose his job for speaking with us, says one older patient this week was the victim of a zero-sum game. His life for another.

RIVERS: Did you even think that was possible? RIVERS (voice-over): The nurse says the patient wasn't getting better, so we extubated him and gave his ventilator to a younger patient with a better chance to live.

And for those watching this all up close, like paramedic Luis Eduardo Pimentel (ph) the health care collapse is unbelievably painful.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," he says, crying. "There is this cycle, taking a patient to the hospital, then a hearse arriving to get another body. It just hurts too much."

This video given to CNN from inside a city morgue shows coffins, bodies inside waiting to be cremated. There are so many, demand is roughly triple what they can handle in a single day. So the coffins are stacked, waiting their turn.

So many people have died in Sao Paulo recently, this week, there's been burials every few minutes, enough that they can't get them all done during the day. Cemeteries now busy, even at night.


RIVERS: We've been on the ground here reporting in Brazil for more than 2 weeks now and when we try to show in the report is what we've been seeing, which are consistent signs of collapse at just about every level of Brazil's health care system.

And when you look at what's going to happen going forward, consider that there's been hundreds of thousands of new cases recorded here in Brazil in just the last 7 days, which is why so many epidemiologists that I've spoken to are concerned that we haven't even hit the peak yet here in Brazil.

And that's on top of what we've seen so far. Consider, Michael, just over the last 2 weeks or so, of all the coronavirus deaths recorded around the world, Brazil has accounted for roughly a quarter of those deaths, an absolutely dire situation that is ongoing here in Brazil -- Michael.


HOLMES: All right, Matt Rivers, appreciate it, thank you.

Now tugboats, diggers and dredges, racing against time, trying to free a huge container ship stuck in the Suez Canal. We will go live to Cairo for an update in the situation.





HOLMES: Companies are now looking to reroute ships blocked from transiting the Suez Canal because of the massive cargo vessel stuck in the waterway.

Here is a satellite image of the problem and it's clear, isn't it?

Since Tuesday it has been lodged in a narrow area of the canal. Hundreds of other ships are stranded on either side and the global economy is taking a hit. Billions of dollars' worth of goods going nowhere. CNN's Ben Wedeman joins us from Cairo with the latest.

What is the update on the state of efforts to free this ship, the hopes verse the reality?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there are high hopes that perhaps that the ship will be floated, the Ever Given will be floated today on this, its fifth day stuck in the canal. But so far, Michael, those efforts have been frantic but fruitless.


WEDEMAN (voice-over): The race is on to dislodge the giant container ship wedged across the Suez Canal since Tuesday. The canal authority estimates up to 20,000 cubic meters of sand and mud need to be removed to refloat to ship.

As dredging work continues, a fleet of tugboats stand by, hoping high tide will provide the vital window in which to free the free the carrier. Almost as long as the Empire State Building is tall, the Ever Given got stuck during a sandstorm in 40 knot winds. Blocking a crucial supply chain, that waves around 12 percent of global trade through the quickest maritime link between Asia and Europe.

SAL MERCOGLIANO, MARITIME HISTORIAN: The potential for this is to magnify. If this goes on for a long period of time, worst-case scenario, this goes on for a month to clear the vessel, that's going to cause a massive disruption in the economy.

We saw what happened with a global recession almost that took place in early COVID when all of a sudden, we were not able to move goods in a clear efficient way.

WEDEMAN (voice-over): Roughly 30 percent of all global container volume transits daily through the 120 mile waterway carrying vital fuel and cargo.

Incoming ships will now be made to anchor in waiting areas in the Red Sea and Mediterranean. More than 200 vessels are backed up in either direction with more than 100 en route over the weekend. Their only alternative is to divert around the southern tip of Africa, adding about a week to the journey.

Japanese shipping companies who own the Ever Given told CNN they're bracing for lawsuits but insist their priority right now is refloating the ship, possibly as early as Saturday.


WEDEMAN: And of course, we are at Saturday now and, as I said before, there's very scant optimism or confidence that the ship will be floated today.

Now keep in mind, of course, that every hour, under normal circumstances, around $400 million worth of goods passes through the Suez Canal and, already, Michael, we are seeing ships are being diverted away, because there doesn't seem to be a lot of confidence that today, Saturday, will be the day when this problem is solved.


WEDEMAN: In fact, the Ever Given's sister ship, the Ever Greet, has been diverted around Africa to avoid the canal.

And another bit of local, regional information. There's a tanker that left Kuwait on its way to Lebanon to deliver oil, fuel to that country. But -- and, of course, Lebanon, we suffer from long and increasingly longer power cuts. And now, it seems that the little fuel that does get to Lebanon probably won't -- Michael.

HOLMES: Yes, yes, and it is a long way around, if you are not going to go through the Suez. And Ben, quickly, it really does show how brittle the system is, if a sand storm can knock a ship sideways and everything can grind to a halt and all the knock-on effects that it entails.

WEDEMAN: Yes, and it's a bottleneck of world trade. What is interesting is that apparently, you know, these massive ships, the super tankers and the super container ships, are the result or came about as a result of the closure of the Suez Canal between 1967 and '75.

It was to avoid the Suez Canal, to on go around that. But to do that, you have to make it worth the money, cost effective. So they came up with the huge ships that are now back to going through the Suez Canal and maybe not anymore -- Michael.

HOLMES: Yes, exactly, and here we are. Thanks, Ben.

And for our international viewers, "AFRICAN VOICES" is up next. For viewers in North America, I will be back with more CNN NEWSROOM after the break.





UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.

HOLMES: We are getting more word, word of more deaths amid the protests ongoing in Myanmar. Ivan Watson following it from Hong Kong.

There was a chilling warning from the military earlier, a direct threat to shoot to kill civilians and now, word of what, more than a dozen deaths?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that is right, Reuters reporting at least 16 people killed in clashes around the country today. And this on a day that is supposed to be celebrating the military, which overthrew a civilian elected government on February 1st and put its leaders in detention.

Among those, the daughter of the founder of the Myanmar military, is supposed to be celebrated today.

You had the new military dictator, the commander in chief of the armed forces, addressing the troops, who were parading in the capital, promising to hold a new round of an election sometime in the future, calling for an end to violence and justifying the coup, saying that the jailed civilian elected government that he overthrew were guilty of corruption and had committed crimes.

He did not seem to address the fact that the military owned TV station warned that protesters could be shot in the back of the head or in the back if they are out on the streets.

The military is clearly trying to crush this uprising as it heads into two months since the coup. Some facts about the military is that it is -- it's run by a 64 year old man who faces sanctions from governments around the world.

The Tatmadaw, the armed forces, have about 406,000 active duty soldiers and 10 percent of the government's budget goes to supporting the armed forces. That does not include the proceeds that come to the armed forces from its significant economic holdings in the country.

And two of the largest conglomerates in Myanmar both came under sanctions from the U.K. and U.S. governments, which accuse them of propping up the militaries. They have stakes in everything from tobacco and beer breweries and hotels to oil and gas extraction, jade mining and telecommunications -- Michael.

HOLMES: Yes, it's not your average country's army.

How is the opposition responding to, you know, armed forces day on a day when the armed forces is killing its people?

WATSON: Well, they had planned to organize another day of protests. I spoke with one protest leader in a neighborhood in Yangon and he said that everybody was going to be standing in front of their homes and protesting in the morning and then they might try to march around town.

But he also conceded that there were more hardline factions within the opposition movement, who were calling for violent acts against military and police targets. He described a codename for this, "car wash operations;" by that, he meant throwing Molotov cocktails at military vehicles.

And the protest leader said that he does not support the acts, they could split support for the opposition movement, which has succeeded in a way that Myanmar has perhaps never succeeded before in a work stoppage/labor strike movement called the civil disobedience movement, which has managed to grind a lot of affairs in the economy and society to a halt.

The railroads, for example, the financial sector; meanwhile, they are increasing calls for an alliance between the protesters and the cities and the ethnic militias that have controlled territory in border areas and fought against the military for decades.

We have some details about these militias. Myanmar is a very complicated country. There's 135 official ethnic groups. The Bamar are the largest group and there's smaller groups.


WATSON: And many of these smaller groups have their own armed movement. CNN spoke with the leader of one of the largest militias and he had this to say about the military. He also said that Myanmar today after the coup is essentially a failed state. Take a listen.


GEN. AWD SERK, SHAN STATE ARMY COMMANDER (through translator): We will stand with the people. It means, if they are in trouble, they come to us seeking help and we will take care of them.

If the military continues to shoot and kill people, it means the junta will, have simply, transformed themselves into terrorists. They simply do not care about the people. We won't sit still and we will find every means to protect people.


WATSON: Now already since the coup, Michael, we are hearing about leaders of the ousted government, who have been fleeing to these ethnic border areas for shelter. Some of the protest leaders who have been fleeing to those areas as well.

There's clearly support coming from the largest ethnic militias, at least vocally and in the form of some equipment, such as flak jackets and telecommunications equipment, flowing to protesters in the cities.

And there's calls for united military action between protesters in the city and in the ethnic militia areas.

But I think you are going see some real reluctance and you are hearing that coming from the leaders of the militia, who don't necessarily want to throw their forces into urban warfare against armed forces they have been battling decades.

HOLMES: Ivan Watson, a lot happening there. Thank you so much.


HOLMES: Now Germany is now classifying all of France as high risk, as it struggles to keep its third coronavirus wave under control. Starting on Sunday, travelers from France will have to quarantine upon arrival in Germany and have a negative test that is less than 48 hours old.

A big part of France already under lockdown and, now in those areas, classrooms will have to shut down if there's just one positive case. CNN's senior international correspondent Jim Bittermann is joining me live.

Germany classifying France as a high risk area.

how concerning are the developments where are you are in France and Europe in general?

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SR. INTL. CORRESPONDENT: Well, in fact, Michael, the numbers in France are just skyrocketing and it's something that the authorities are worried about.

The move by Germany points it out and stresses the fact that -- Germans say it has nothing to do with politics; it has to do with strictly the numbers. They look at the incident rate, which is the number of new cases per 100,000 people.

And in France, it's now up 200. The Germans say that's the threshold and, at that point, the border controls go into effect. And the French, as you mentioned, will have to have COVID within 48 hours of arrival and quarantine for up to 10 days once they are in Germany.

There's discussion about the border areas along the German border. There's a number of people who commute every day. And there's a lot of truck traffic back and forth. So I think there's still things under discussion.

But by the same token, it's clearly a sign that things in France are getting worse and, in fact, the Germans themselves are quite concerned. I said it was 200 per 100,000 in France; it's 119 per 100,000 in Germany. So they are looking at the numbers and worried how they are going to get it under control. That is what has them worried and led to new restrictions on the French.

HOLMES: Jim, thank you so much, Jim Bittermann in France for us.

Now strict new COVID lockdown measures are in affect for much of Kenya. Movement in and out of Nairobi and surrounding counties has been banned, trying to stop the spread. Eleni Giokos Is following the story.

So what triggered the president to make the move, how bad is this uptick?

ELENI GIOKOS, CNNMONEY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, Michael, last night, the president said that the country is firmly in its third wave and they anticipate that actually, the country went into the third wave beginning of March.

Now as you say, the entire country is not in lockdown; it's 5 out of the 47 counties in the country now that account for 70 percent of the cases.


GIOKOS: And Nairobi accounts for 60 percent of the caseload. So those surrounding counties are the ones that are being targeted. And they call them the disease infected areas of the country. So no movement of people in and out.

A curfew between 8 pm and 4 am, the numbers are staggering if you look at the overall infection rates and positivity rates in Kenya. It shot up to 22 percent from 2.6 percent at the end of January. Hospital admissions have been rising significantly as well.

Since March the 12th, hospital admissions have risen by over 52 percent. I spoke to a doctor yesterday and he said that the people that are seeking medical attention, non-COVID related medical attention, are being turned away. It's putting a strain on the entire health system.

Overall the country is taking a different approach to the lockdown and taking a look at where you are seeing the biggest cases. Vaccine roll- out underway in Kenya so hopefully they will be able to bring that number down. And one doctor said that it sounds like it's an effort to create a circuit breaker in a system that has seen a huge increase in cases and the highest number of daily deaths since the start of the pandemic.

HOLMES: Eleni Giokos, there in JoBurg, thank you.

Coming up, we will look at Hong Kong's vaccination disaster. So far it's been leading by example with daily case numbers just in the double digits. But when it comes to vaccines, it's a textbook example of what not to do. We will be right back.




HOLMES: Welcome back.

So far, Hong Kong has been able to keep COVID cases to a minimum.


HOLMES: And now, it has plenty of vaccine doses to go around.

So Hong Kong's vaccine rollout should be pretty easy, right?

Well, not exactly, as CNN's Kristie Lu Stout explains.


KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hong Kong should be an easy vaccine success story. It has secured 22.5 million doses from Sinovac, Pfizer BioNTech and AstraZeneca, more than enough to inoculate a population of 7.5 million.

A widely praised online booking system in place and a vaccine rollout has been underway but the rollout has been rough. Due to concerns over packaging problems, health officials have suspended the use of two batches of the European made BioNTech vaccine, distributed by Fosun Pharma.

In a statement, they said that, "So far, BioNTech and Fosun Pharma have no reason to believe that there is a risk to product safety."

Before the suspension, vaccine hesitancy was already high. According to a University of Hong Kong study, only 50 percent said, in January, they intend to get vaccinated, much lower than elsewhere.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of the reasons for, that is our success, in controlling COVID in the past year. We've only had 11,000 cases in 7.5 million people, less than 1 percent of people in Hong Kong. I think that means we don't necessarily see the risk as the U.S. and Europe.

STOUT (voice-over): Another factor behind the hesitancy, fear: at least 8 people have died after getting the Chinese made Sinovac vaccine, although official investigations found no direct link with the inoculations.

At least one death of a patient who received the BioNTech vaccine is being investigated. The fatalities have spooked many in Hong Kong but experts insist there's no reason to be concerned.

DR. CHRISTOPHER HUI, RESPIRATORY AND CRITICAL CARE SPECIALIST: Don't be afraid, get vaccinated. What we have seen is there has been a lot of information. Sometimes, with a lot of information in the open public, it creates a kind of analysis paralysis. People, perhaps, are beginning to overthink.

STOUT (voice-over): Sinovac has yet to be approved by the World Health Organization. A lack of data could also feeding public reluctance to get that shot. The government said that the benefits outweigh the risks and accused critics of smearing the Chinese made vaccine.

To boost confidence, Hong Kong's top leader receiving her first and second Sinovac injections on camera. But a quick vaccination drive may be a long shot;, as of Wednesday, only 5.5 percent of the population has received a dose.

STOUT: Hong Kong experts say that 70 percent of the population need to be inoculated to achieve herd immunity, paving the way for the city to relax social distancing restrictions, resume international travel and reboot an ailing economy. But some say it may take 300 more days for the city to reach that goal.

STOUT (voice-over): Before the suspension, the BioNTech vaccine was taken up at a faster rate. Many of the newly inoculated shared celebratory selfies of their first jab. But these moments of relief and joy, including my own, are happening at an even slower pace as hurdles and hesitancy hamper the rollout -- Kristie Lu Stout, CNN, Hong Kong. (END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Do stay with us. When we come back, we are getting new information about the mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado. We will find out what brave actions the police officer took just before he was killed. We will be right back.





HOLMES: More than 18,000 unaccompanied migrant children are in U.S. custody and nearly 1,000 arrived in one day. Let's have a look at a video that senator James Lankford tweeted out Friday, he is one of several Republicans that visited the border this week.

The images are alarming; you see people crowded into an overflow facility, some crammed together on the floor. Two lawmakers have two different stories to tell about the crisis.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): The facility is a giant tent city, built with a capacity of 250. It has nearly 4,000 people in it. We saw cages after cages after cages of little girls, of little boys, lying side-by-side, touching each other, covered with reflective emergency blankets. REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO (D-TX), MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: The Biden

administration inherited a system that had been dismantled. The system for processing and settling asylees in the United States had been dismantled by Donald Trump. And so the Biden administration is in the process of rebuilding that. And that does some take time.

So they are building out the capacity to essentially hold people for short periods of time before you place these kids with their family sponsors in the United States while they wait for their court dates.


HOLMES: Now both Republican and Democratic lawmakers toured border towns this week and President Biden said he is committed to prioritizing immigration reform. But Congress has not been able to muster the bipartisan support needed to pass legislation.

And we are learning more about the brave actions of a police officer in Boulder, Colorado, before he was killed on Monday during that mass shooting. The police department said that Eric Talley led a team of officers into the store within 30 seconds of arriving on scene.

Talley was hit when the suspect shot at the team before he was taken into custody. The district attorney announced that more charges will be filed but as CNN's Kyung Lah reports, the suspect's motive still a mystery. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With flowers and emblems of grief covering fallen Officer Eric Talley's police vehicle, the Boulder police chief says what is haunting investigators, the killer's motive still unknown.

CHIEF MARIS HEROLD, BOULDER POLICE DEPARTMENT: Like the rest of the community we, too, want to know why, why that King Soopers, why Boulder, why Monday?

And, unfortunately, at this time, we still don't have those answers.


LAH (voice-over): What they do know: Ahmad Alissa purchased the semiautomatic Ruger AR556 pistol here at the Eagles Nest Armory, six days before the shooting.

The owner says the sale was legal, adding, "Regarding the firearm in question, a background check of the purchaser was conduct as required by Colorado law and approval was provide by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation."

The gunman also carried a 0.9-millimeter handgun, but police say he did not use it in the rampage.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 136, we have multiple shots being fired.

LAH (voice-over): The first responding officers did exchange gunfire.

MICHAEL DOUGHERTY, BOULDER COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: They charged into the store and immediately faced a very significant amount of gunfire from the shooter who at first, they were unable to locate and they put their lives at risk.

That will be reflected in additional attempted murder charges that will be filed by the district attorney's office the next couple of weeks.

LAH (voice-over): Funerals will begin next week for the 10 victims, people who were just in their neighborhood grocery store, where officers are now counting the bullets one by one.

DOUGHERTY: You picture a supermarket, picture all the shelves, all the products, everything. They are going through every single shelf, pulling everything off the shelves, looking in the walls. And that is going to continue throughout the weekend.

LAH: The Boulder police department released more details about those first arriving officers. Officer Talley led that first contact team in to the store within 30 seconds of arriving on the scene.

The suspect immediately started shooting at the police officers, killing Officer Talley and those police officers say the suspect kept firing on them until he was apprehended. As far as everyone in the store, no one else was shot or killed as officers took on all that gunfire -- Kyung Lah, CNN, Boulder, Colorado.


Thanks for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Michael Holmes. Robyn Curnow will be back after a short break.