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President Joe Biden To Unveil An Infrastructure Plan And Sell It For Bilateral Support; Trial Of George Floyd's Murder Starts On Monday At Minneapolis; Dominion Voting Systems Sues Fox News For Defamation; Data On America's Mass Shootings; COVID Patients Report Long-Term Effects; Wall Street Waits For March Jobs Report; Massive Cargo Ship Blocks Suez Canal. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired March 28, 2021 - 17:00   ET




ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Thanks for staying with me. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Cabrera in New York. $3 trillion. That's what President Biden wants to spend right now on roads and bridges, jobs, health care access and clean energy.

This is all part of an infrastructure package the White House is expected to formally unveil in the coming days. A proposal that big is certainly not going to sail through Congress. The president has to sell it and his plans to pay for it with large corporations and very wealthy Americans bracing for a tax hike.

Add to that, the other pressing issues on the president's priority list, the pandemic of course and his new vaccination goal, the migrant crisis growing on the U.S. southern border, and the unprecedented attacks on voter rights from Republican lawmakers in dozens of states.

CNN White House correspondent Arlette Saenz joins us in Wilmington, Delaware where the president spent the weekend. Arlette, that is quite a to do list I just spelled out there. The president, he succeeded in getting the COVID relief legislation passed, the American Rescue Plan Act, but this infrastructure bill sounds like another animal entirely.

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It certainly is, Ana. And this is going to be a massive $3 trillion package that will certainly face an uphill climb over on Capitol Hill. But the president has stressed that focusing on the recovery is the next step of trying to get this pandemic under control as far as it goes with the economy.

Now, just to run you through some of the items that will be in this proposal. On Wednesday, the president will be unveiling the infrastructure portion of this bill back better plan. And that will include funding for roads, bridges and rail.

Also, it will have funding for climate research and development. And additionally, billions of dollars in education infrastructure. That is the first component that he's going to unveil on Wednesday. Then in April we are expecting he will talk about the care economy. And that will include universal Pre-K, spending on child and elder care. And also trying to focusing on sectors that have been hard hit by COVID- 19.

Now, the president a short while ago was asked whether he's planning to approach this legislative item by a piecemeal approach or if he will be doing and all in one package. He's not revealing his cards just yet and saying how he will go. But we have seen that there could be some bipartisan support when it comes to infrastructure.

The president has already held meetings with Republicans and Democrats on that issue, so they could try to get some Republicans on board on that infrastructure component compared to the COVID relief package which was passed with just Democratic support.

Now, the president has made clear that this upcoming recovery package will be his legislative focus. But he is also facing a lot of pressure to act on guns, especially as we have seen these mass shootings across the country over the course of the past few weeks.

And the president was asked about one element of gun legislation that could, some senators are saying could get some bipartisan support. And that's background checks. Take a listen.


UNKNOWN: Senator Chris Murphy said today that he thinks there's a chance to get 60 votes for a background check proposal. Are you prepared to make calls to Republicans try to get that over the finish line?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Sure I am. Of course, I am. I'm the only one that's ever got them passed, man. Everybody keeps wondering whether I cared about dealing with rational gun control. The only gun control legislation that's ever passed is mine. It's going to happen again.


SAENZ: So, the president was there referring to some measures that were passed when he was back in the Senate. He is also considering taking executive action on guns, as there is this pressure for him to act on that issue. And if I can just really quickly to say congratulations, Ana. We will miss talking to you here on the weekends, but we'll be cheering you on with your new show.

CABRERA: And I'm sure you and I, we'll be talking weekdays coming in just a couple of weeks. Arlette, that means a lot. Thanks you and thanks for your reporting today.

Let's bring CNN senior political analyst John Avlon and CNN political commentator and host of "Firing Line" on PBS, Margaret Hoover. Guys, it's always good to have you with us. If anyone thought Biden was simply looking to restore calm and be a post Trump place holder president, you'll need to only take a look at this next proposal, that massive $3 trillion economic plan that does include tax hikes, but promises major benefits for jobs and infrastructure. John, how transformational would this be?

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: This is a go big plan and it would be transformational for the economy on at least two major fronts. One of Biden's core focus over the course of his career really has been building back the middle class.


This has been a group that's been squeezed for decades. A big infrastructure plan would not only make America more competitive for the 21st century economy, but would go a long way towards rebuilding the middle class.

The second piece is this is sort of a sub-rosa green jobs program, helping America deal with climate change and climate crisis. So it's a big ticket investment project that goes far beyond anything Democratic presidents or Republican presidents have tried in the past. It looks like it will finally be infrastructure week, Ana, after a lot of talk, but it helped make this as bipartisan as he perhaps had hoped. Not impossible, but tough.

CABRERA: And that's what I want to ask you about, Margaret, because a leading Republican pollster told CNN about how Republicans are going to be framing this bill this, "Nobody believes taxes are only going to be raised on the wealthy. The negative tends to outweigh the positive. If we do our job, it becomes the dominant thing."

That sounds like the plan is to obstruct. So, you know, first we saw that with COVID relief. Now infrastructure. Are Republicans going to work with Democrats on anything?

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, Ana, if Joe Biden wants to get anything through, first thing he has got to do is make it very clear what he intends to do with the filibuster. Because if he is going to say, you know what, I'm the next FDR, this is my moment where he's going to -- we're going to ram through a progressive, you know, agenda regardless of whether we have Republicans or not. That's fine. He can do that. He's got 51 votes if he wants to.

But if he -- frankly, I mean, he just got to communicate clearly. If he wants to have a bipartisan agenda, if he wants to do the thing that he said he wanted to do in his inauguration speech, which was -- remember, he said the word unity eight times, okay. So, he's got to reach out to Susan Collins. He's got to reach out to Lisa Murkowski. He's got to reach out to some of these centrist Republicans. And frankly, centrists in his own party to build a coalition.

He's got to get to 60 votes, or maybe he decides to reform the filibuster. But frankly, 0no legislation is going to happen moving forward until there's clarity on the question of the filibuster.

AVLON: And look, I'll only add to that. This is one of the key questions strategically. He's got to say, look, he's going to make a good faith effort to reach out and get Republican votes. That may be one of the reasons they split these bills, tax hikes obviously very tough even for centrist Republicans. And then say, look, if you obstruct then I'll move forward on

filibuster reform, which I think would be far better than ending the filibuster, which I think would be bad for the country in the long run. But that is one of the key questions facing the president.

CABRERA: We know Republicans right now want to focus on immigration. And some GOP lawmakers have been traveling to the border, taking videos like this, from Senator Lankford, inside a border control facility. Take a listen to Democratic Congressman Vicente Gonzalez whose district is on the border.


REP. VICENTE GONZALEZ (D-TX): Where were they during the Trump administration when children were being ripped from mother's arms and caged and families were being divided? Did they all of a sudden have a softened heart to come down here and look at it?


CABRERA: By the way, Congressman Gonzalez is someone who has been critical of the Biden administration's handling of the situation, but Margaret, does he have a point there?

HOOVER: Of course, he has a point, Ana. I mean, look, Immigration is the consummate, you know, political football where each party, you know, wants to win the issue and doesn't seem to want to get any really good policy accomplished.

I mean, the last time we got very close was the Gang of Eight in 2013 and we've just never gotten there. Both sides have situational ethics around it and want to win the issue. I would love to see the Republicans in good faith say you know, we'll help you get to 60 if on just one portion of immigration. Not even comprehensive. Let's just take one slice of this.

CABRERA: Like the DREAM Act, right? Talk about Dreamers.

HOOVER: Like with DREAM Act. And by the way, that's possible. I mean, I do not think that that is beyond the pale.


HOOVER: And there are a couple of these issues. I think immigration is one. I think amending the Equality Act is one where you could actually get 60 votes and prove that you can have, you know, a real collaboration, sort of unified Senate and control, and that would be a real win for Biden and for the country.

CABRERA: I do want to get you both to react to another thing that came out just this week and the Michigan GOP chair made some despicable comments, calling three top Democratic women in that state witches who should be, "ready for the burning at the stake in the next election," and he quipped about assassination of two Republican congressmen who voted to impeach former President Trump. Now, he has since said this should have, you know, he should have

chosen his words more carefully and called his own comments off the cuff. But I've got to get your reaction to that, John.

AVLON: Yes, look. This is what happens in the hyper partisan hot house. He thinks he's talking to folks in his party and he goes and talks to the three women who are governor and lieutenant governor and attorney general of Michigan, describes them -- secretary of state, and describes them as witches, said to be burned at the stake. Obviously, violence and sex as well.

But then, you know, suggesting that the two Republicans at the conference who voted to impeach Donald Trump should be assassinated.


Even if it's a quip in the side (ph), assassinating members of your own party because they did what they thought was constitutionally necessary with regard to an impeachment and insurrection is outrageous.

HOOVER: I just would like to add to this because I actually have met Ron Weiser several times over the course of many years. He was very involved in the Bush administration, ambassador. I'm sure that he regrets deeply his speech. And by the way, it's not excusable.

CABRRERA: He hasn't apologized.

HOOVER: It's not excusable, and he hasn't apologized. He should apologize. But I also think, Ana, this is a reflection. This is a man who's been in Republican politics for decades. We are a long cry, far cry in the Republican Party now from the party of Ronald Reagan that said, you know, the 11th commandment is, you know, I'm never going to insult another Republican.


HOOVER: I mean, the idea that, you know, our truest enemies are other people within our party, it's just -- it reflects how hyperpolarized and how broken our politics have become. And I think Ron's comments reflect where we are as a party. And look, it's unfortunate. It's not excusable, but I'm sure he's a decent man and I'm sure he regrets it.

CABRRERA: Margaret Hoover and John Avlon, guys, thank you. Thank you so much.

AVLON: Thank you, Ana, and congratulations. We'll miss you.

HOOVER: Ana, congratulations to you. We'll miss you.

AVLON: We'll see you soon.

CABRRERA: I know. I'm going to miss this too. But, again, I keep hoping I'm going to steal you guys away and get you from time to time at least.

AVLON: We can get the band back together in the afternoons.

CABRRERA: Let's do it.

HOOVER: Congratulations, Ana.


CABRRERA: Thanks guys. Appreciate it. It is the video that really shocked the nation. It inspired summer long protests for racial equality and protests. Tomorrow Derek Chauvin, the ex-officer who we all saw kneel on George Floyd's neck for nine minutes will face a jury of his peers. What to expect, next in the CNN NEWSROOM.



CABRRERA: In less than 20 hours now, opening statements begin in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer accused of murdering George Floyd. Chauvin kneeled on Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes as Floyd cried out that he could not breathe.

The video played around the world. Floyd's death in May of last year set off months of nationwide protests and calls for racial justice reforms. Chauvin has pleaded not guilty. Joining us now, CNN's Omar Jimenez in Minneapolis. Omar, set the scene for us for this trial. What can we expect tomorrow?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, for starters this is a moment that's been a long time coming in this case. Opening statements for a trial that many see as a major step toward justice for George Floyd.

Now, based on previous court filings, the defense for Derek Chauvin will likely argue that he acted within police policy that day and did not intend to harm George Floyd, while prosecutors are going to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Chauvin's actions led directly to Floyd's death.


JIMENEZ (voice-over): The eyes of a movement. One that sparked protest worldwide in the name of George Floyd shift to a courtroom in Minneapolis.


JIMENEZ (voice-over): Now to opening statements in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer has pleaded not guilty to the charges he faces, second degree unintentional murder, second degree manslaughter, and third degree murder in the death of George Floyd.

Outside the courtroom, emotions will be running high. There have already been multiple protests throughout the city. MEDARIA ARRADONDO, MINNEAPOLIS POLICE DEPARTMENT: They've done so

peacefully and they've assembled and gathered peacefully. We will continue to expect more demonstrations.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): But the destruction that happened in May 2020 and the aftermath of Floyd's death is still fresh on the minds of city officials. And it's why the building that houses the courtroom has virtually become a fortress due to increased security measures with the mayor saying there's more to come.

JACOB FREY, MAYOR OF MINNEAPOLIS: Residents should be expecting a gradual increase in law enforcement and National Guard presence as we progress through the trial.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): The first step in this trial --

CAHILL: How does that make you feel?


JIMENEZ (voice-over): Was getting through jury selection, which lasted exactly two weeks.

CAHILL: You will serve on our jury.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): Resulting in 15 jurors, 14 of which will be a part of the trial.

CAHILL: The 15th juror was to make sure that we got to have 14 people show up on Monday.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): Their identities remain unknown for now. Attorneys for the Floyd family are pleased the trial can now proceed and wrote, "This is not a hard case. George Floyd had more witnesses to his death than any other person ever."

And it will be witnesses who now come to the stand, called by both prosecutors for the state and defense attorneys for Derek Chauvin. Among what we know will be talked about, a portion of a 2019 George Floyd arrest for which he was never charged, but one where he ended up being sent to the hospital instead of jail, an interaction with police defense attorneys for Chauvin argued was similar to May 2020. A paramedic from that day in 2019 is also expected to testify.

CAHILL: The whole point here is we have medical evidence on what happens when Mr. Floyd is faced with virtually the same situation. Confrontation by a police at gun point followed by a rapid ingestion of some drugs.

RICHARD FRASE, CRIMINAL LAW PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA: Our system of justice is a bit on trial. Can we give Mr. Chauvin a fair trial because that's essential? Can we give the state a fair chance to find him guilty under the law in the evidence?

JIMENEZ (voice-over): The trial is expected to last up to four weeks, all the while a city, a family, a movement watches anxiously over what criminal accountability looks like in the death of George Floyd.


JIMENEZ (on camera): And there will be a vigil later tonight with the family of George Floyd, a reminder of what many feel is at stake with this trial.


Now, despite all of the eyes and the pressures that are going to be on this, really at this point the only thing that matters is what happens within the walls of this courtroom, specifically when it comes to the cause of death for George Floyd and the intent from Derek Chauvin.

It's also important to note all of these charges are going to be considered separately. So, Derek Chauvin could be convicted on all of them, some of them, or none of them. Special assistant attorney general Jerry Blackwell will give the opening statements for the prosecution when court resumes and everything gets going at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time tomorrow morning. Ana?

CABRERA: Omar Jimenez in Minneapolis for us. Thank you.

And so let's talk more about what we can expect in this trial during our weekly "Cross-Exam" segment with CNN legal analyst and former federal and state prosecutor Elie Honig who is here to answer your legal questions. And one viewer wants to know, Elie, how does the Chauvin jury compare to the population where the charged crime occurred? And how can the court ensure a fair jury for both sides?

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, Ana. So all eyes are on Minneapolis. We now have a jury. We have 15 jurors total, 12 of them will decide the case and three of them will be alternates. As it turns out, this jury is actually substantially more racially diverse than Hennepin County itself.

Hennepin County has about a 13 percent African-American population. If you look at this juror, four of the jurors are black, two of them are mixed race according to their own self-identification in court. Also, another thing that jumps out at me, this is a young jury. Ten of the 15 total jurors are in their 20s, 30s, and 40s.

In my experience trying cases, juries usually tend to be substantially older than that. We'll see how that plays out. And finally, Ana, each side here has a set number of peremptory strikes which they could have used to remove jurors they were not comfortable with.

As it turned out, both sides left some of their challenges unused. The prosecution had 10 strikes. They only used eight. The defense had 18 strikes. They only used 14. That tells me both sides are comfortable with this jury and its ability to do fair and impartial justice.

CABRERA: Georgia just signed this law we've been talking about all weekend long, making it more difficult for people to have access to vote. This law now limits the use of drop boxes for early voting. It makes it illegal to give people food or even water for those who are waiting in long lines. Another viewer asks, is there anything that can be done legally to challenge these restrictive voting laws?

HONIG: Yes, Ana, there is. So, the constitution tells us that the states gets to control the manner of voting, but the U.S. Congress can override the states if it passes federal legislation. For example, we have this bill H.R. 1 out there.

Now, if you look at the Georgia law, one of the aspect of the Georgia law is that it really restricts mail-in balloting. H.R.1, if it passes, does the opposite. It actually expands and protects mail-in balloting. So, if it passes, H.R.1 will override that Georgia law.

But, there is a political problem here because it's passed the House, but in the Senate, as Margaret Hoover was just talking about, there will be a filibuster meaning Democrats need 60 votes. That's why you hear the president and other talking about possibly altering or getting rid of that filibuster rule.

President Biden has said that DOJ is taking a look. DOJ could file lawsuits challenging the Georgia law, but keep in mind, if it gets to the Supreme Court there's a solid 6-3 conservative majority. None of those conservative justices have shown any inclinations over the years to expand voting rights. So this is going to be both a political and a legal battle in the months ahead.

CABRERA: Speaking of lawsuits, Dominion Voting Systems, the voting tech company that was the target or one of the targets of the big election lie just hit Fox News with a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit. The company alleges the network recklessly disregarded the truth in that it even aimed to make a profit from these lies.

So, one viewer asks can Dominion sue media outlets that spread false information about election fraud. In other words, how much trouble is Fox in?

HONIG: Yes, this is real trouble for Fox, Ana. So, Dominion has to prove two things here. One, that the statements were false. There's no question. We know there was no election hacking. It was not rigged. Second, that Fox acted with malice, meaning they knew it was false or they were recklessly ignorant of the truth.

Now remember, Sidney Powell, the attorney who was one of the leaders of this ridiculous election fraud theory, she has now defended herself in court by saying, my lies were so outrageous that no reasonable person could have believed them. That puts Fox in a tough spot. Either Fox basically admits, yes, we put out these things we knew were lies, or we were so gullible that we actually bought into these lies.

Finally, Ana, Dominion alleges that Fox's motive here was the bottom line, was profit. It was viewership. They say Fox started losing viewers after the election because they were seen as not pro-Trump enough and so they intentionally put out lies according to the lawsuit in order to win back Donald Trump and win back those voters and those viewers.

CABRERA: That is a lawsuit we will all be watching very closely. Elie Honig, thank you for today's report. It's been a long ride and I'm going to miss you and miss these weekend segments.


I'll hopefully still see you and still get your great legal analyst, but these "Cross-Exam" segments are something I've look forward to every week.

HONIG: Thanks. Me too, Ana. I will come hang out with you 1:00 p.m. on weekdays any time. You just say the word.

CABRERA: Okay. Sounds good. Call it a date.

All right, turning to the horrific mass shootings that we have been covering over and over and over again, back-to-back attacks are, again, forcing people to ask why America has more mass shootings than anywhere else in the world.

Well, "The New York Times" looked at the data and says the research is clear. The answer, it found next. You're live in the "CNN Newsroom."



CABRERA: Funerals are getting underway following this week's horrific supermarket massacre that left 10 people dead in Colorado. Twenty- three year-old Neven Stanisic was laid to rest this weekend. And on Tuesday, Officer Eric Talley, an 11-year veteran of the Boulder Police Department will also be laid to rest.

Officer Talley was the first officer on the scene and within 30 seconds led a response team into the store. Police say his brave actions saved lives.

As for the suspected gunman, we are learning he passed a background check before purchasing the gun used in this attack. His motive, as of now, remains unclear.

Just days before Boulder, it was spas in Georgia that were targeted by a gunman. Two weeks, two mass shootings, far too common in America. Atlanta and Boulder now join Columbine and Aurora, Charleston and El Paso, Newtown and Parkland, Las Vegas and so many others.

There is now a renewed focus on what causes mass shootings and why it may be worse in America than anywhere else in the world. "The New York Times" looked at the data and puts it this way. "Why does the U.S. Have So Many Mass Shootings? Research Is Clear: Guns."

And the man whose research was included in that piece is with us now, Adam Lankford. He is an assistant professor of criminal justice at the University of Alabama. Adam, this is such an important study that you've been doing. First, can you just give us some perspective on how the United States compares to other countries when it comes to mass shootings? What have you discovered in your research?

ADAM LANKFORD, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE, UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA: Sure. Well, I did a study of 171 countries to really look at where do public mass shooters attack most frequently and why? And despite having less than 5 percent of the world's population, United States had approximately 30 percent of the world's public mass shooters, really like six times as many as we should have if things were evenly distributed.

And in addition, we have more than 40 percent of the world's civilian firearms. And so to your point about guns, firearm access seemed to be a critical explanation here. You know, I looked for a bunch of different possible explanations, but really, what the data said was that firearm access explains why people here, when they want to do something bad, do something so terrible compared to people with bad intentions, but less access in other countries.

CABRERA: Politicians often throw out various factors to try to explain mass shootings in America. And one of those is mental illness. Take a listen.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): Let's target the bad guys, the felons, the fugitives, those with mental disease. Let's put them in jail. Let's stop them from getting guns.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): The real challenge here is mental illness and identifying people who are likely to do this kind of thing in advance is very, very difficult.


CABRERA: Adam, what did your research find about whether there is a correlation between mass shootings and mental illness?

LANKFORD: Well, so I think it's important to acknowledge that certainly, you know, if you look at individual mass shooters, they often could benefit from mental health treatment. But that doesn't explain why the United States is so different from the rest of the world.

So, one of the things I looked at was suicide rates. Suicide and mental illness are closely correlated, and the United States does not have anywhere near the worst suicide problem in the world.

And if you think about treatment and services, you know, there are a lot of countries around the world who wish they had our treatment services, our medication. So, you know, ultimately the key is what makes the United States different as a factor that could explain why we're so different when it comes to this form of violence? And mental illness just isn't it.

CABRERA: What about some of the other factors that people bring up to explain mass shootings here in America like violent video games or crime levels in general or not being tough enough in defending America's borders? How much do those factors contribute to America's mass shooting epidemic? LANKFORD: Well, I think those in particular are not particularly

compelling. If there is one cultural factor I would point to, it would be too many Americans really prioritize becoming famous and getting attention as their number one goal.

And unfortunately, we have seen that among a lot of mass shooters who really want fame and attention and think that by killing, that's the only way they can get it, you know. So, if there's one cultural factor that would be good to tamp down in terms of the unhealthy affects, it would be the fame and attention and the copycat attacks that that leads to. But ultimately, you know, even when people want to do bad things anywhere, the key is are they able to do it and that brings us back to firearms.


CABRERA: In the Atlanta spa shootings that just happened a couple of weeks ago, investigators believe the suspect purchased the weapon he used in that attack the same week. Also in this last mass shooting, the one in Boulder, the suspect we've learned purchased the weapon six days before the shooting. In that case, this was according to the arrest warrant.

I know you're currently conducting some new research that looks into the timing of when these killers purchase the guns. What did you find?

LANKFORD: Well, you're exactly right. And looking at the timing can be so informative. You know, I thought about it as this kind of question. You know, what came first, the chicken or the egg? In this case is what came first, the desire to kill or the acquisition of the firearm?

And the answer was the desire to kill in many cases. So, many of these shooters are not lifelong gun owners or hunters, you know. And if you're a hunter or a lifelong gun owner, I feel your pain. You shouldn't be unfairly blamed.

The problem is these perpetrators, they're going into a gun store and they've already decided that they want to kill. And they're looking across the counter and they're just waiting for someone to give them a tool that can make that possible.

So, really the key is like, given that we know sequentially that they already want to kill when they purchase that firearm, can we do something to stop that transaction?

CABRERA: And does your research at this point offer any solutions?

LANKFORD: Well, so, the good thing is, you know, we don't have to read the minds of these perpetrators because they're often kind of so bubbling with this desire to do something dramatic and to harm others that they let it out.

So, again and again, research is showing by the FBI, by the Secret Service, research I've conducted with colleagues as well, that often these perpetrators tell someone that they're interested in committing mass murder and they're exhibiting all these red flags and warning signs.

So, I guess what I'm hoping is, you know, only less than half of the United States has red flag laws or extreme risk protection orders now. Let's do something where we can actually stop those dangerous people from purchasing firearms.

CABRERA: Adam Lankford, really appreciate all this amazing research you've done and the information you're sharing with us. Thanks for being here.

LANKFORD: Thank you.

CABRERA: We are just hours away from an unprecedented event, when the medical leaders of the war on COVID break their silence. The CNN Special Report, "COVID War: The Pandemic Doctors Speak Out" begins tonight at 9:00.


UNKNOWN: Hi, Sanjay.

UNKNOWN: In an unprecedented event, the leaders of the war on COVID break their silence.

DEBORAH BIRX, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: I wanted to make sure that we stopped saying that the risk to Americans was low.

ROBERT REDFIELD, FORMER CDC DIRECTOR: I finally had a moment in life where I said, you know, enough is enough.

UNKNOWN: What they saw.

STEPHEN HAHN, FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER: That was a line in the sand for me.


UNKNOWN: What they believe.

REDFIELD: People are not being transparent about it. I could use the word cover up.

BIRX: I knew I was being watched. Everybody inside was waiting for me to make a misstep.


UNKNOWN: And what's next?

ROBERT KADLEC, FORMER HHS ASSISTANT SECRETARY: As bad as this was, it could be worse. And there will be another pandemic. Guaranteed.

UNKNOWN: Join Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

GUPTA: We were not testing enough.

REDFIELD: Agree with you.

GUPTA: Why not?

UNKNOWN: CNN Special Report "COVID War: The Pandemic Doctors Speak Out" tonight on CNN.



CABRERA: We have this just in. England will lift its stay-at-home order tomorrow. The country has been in lockdown since the beginning of January because of a new, more transmissible variant of the coronavirus. But beginning Monday, people are able to gather in group of six outside, organized sports teams can also practice outside.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson did say the country must still remain cautious though. The coronavirus cases are still rising across Europe.

For some patients diagnosed with coronavirus, the symptoms can linger for months. They are known as long haulers. And their cases have really baffled medical experts. In fact, new findings from the Dana- Farber Cancer Institute found that a third of patient who had to be hospitalized with COVID have long term physical symptoms.

And here with us is the lead author of that study and a medical oncologist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Dr. Kartik Sehgal. And doctor, thanks for being with us. As we try to solve the mystery of these long haulers, your study found that coronavirus was causing organ damage in these patients who couldn't shake their symptoms. Tell us more.

KARTIK SEHGAL, MEDICAL ONCOLOGIST, DANA-FARBER CANCER INSTITUTE: Thanks, Ana, for having me on the show. I think it has been a concern which is brought out by patients and we felt compelled to listen to their stories and wanted to look at the literature which was available, which was published. And we did find that at least one in three patients who required hospital admission for infection had these symptoms which is lingering weeks to months afterwards.

In fact, I would also like to add on recent studies now seem to suggest that patients who had mild illness may also suffer from these persistent symptoms. While the exact magnitude of the issue still remains to be determined, I think it's important to pay close attention to that, especially with multiple new waves of infections coming in.

CABRERA: We're talking about thousands and thousands of people it sounds like. Did you find any trend or commonality in the type of person who becomes a long hauler?

SEHGAL: That has been the million-dollar question trying to identify which patients are at highest risk for getting these persistent symptoms of lung COVID. While there is some suggestion that patients who required intensive care admission are patients who had medical conditions such as asthma or obesity maybe at higher risk for acquiring these syndromes.


But still, we have emerging data would seems to suggest that patients with milder illness, including younger people, may also be at risk for these persistent symptoms. So while we can conduct more research on understanding this phenomena more, again, it's important to get vaccinated when patients are -- when people are eligible and to try to mitigate these cases.

CABRERA: What are the most common long term symptoms of COVID?

SEHGAL: So it has been a heterogenous presentation with multiple symptoms and involvement of multiple organs, but the most common symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath, cognitive issues such as brain fog or inability to concentrate or make decisions, as well as mental health side effects such as depression and anxiety.

CABRERA: Adding to the mystery, some long haulers are reporting now that their symptoms disappear after they were vaccinated. What do you make of that?

SEHGAL: So it's important to emphasize that these reports are still anecdotal and will need to be confirmed in larger studies. But it is another reason for people to get vaccinated. There are certain hypotheses that can explain that, such as if the virus is lingering behind or some genetic imprint of the virus lingering behind.

The vaccine can help take care of that. So, another reason for us to kind of promote vaccination in people, but at the same time, we need more studies to answer that question definitively.

CABRERA: It's all so fascinating. Thank you for your research and for sharing it with us, Dr. Kartik Sehgal. Good to have you here. Thanks.

SEHGA: Thank you so much.

CABRERA: It's a saga that has inspired a thousand memes and cost hundreds of millions of dollar already. An update for you on the drama unfolding in the Suez Canal, next.

But first, Wall Street awaits a critical March jobs report. CNN's Christine Romans has your "Before the Bell Report." Christine

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi Ana, our increased vaccinations driving more hiring. We'll find out this week when the Labor Department releases the March jobs report. Last week a hopeful sign, first time unemployment claims fell to a pandemic low, but 684,000 people still filed. That's a stubbornly high number.

Economists hope jobs growths will get better as more people get vaccines and the stimulus starts to take hold. Investors are weighing in improving economy against the threat of inflation. Last week marked the one-year anniversary of the bull market.

The S&P500 climbed about 76 percent during that time. That's the biggest first-year gain since 1945. History shows the hotter a bull market starts, the longer it typically lasts. But second year returns tend to be a little bit less dramatic, around 12 percent. In New York, I'm Christine Romans.



CABRERA: Welcome back. I want to bring you up to speed now on the efforts in the Suez Canal where about a dozen heavy tug boats are trying to dislodge that giant container ship, the size of Empire State Building. It's been stuck since Tuesday. And this ship is paralyzing one of the worlds' busiest and important waterways causing a traffic jam of more than 320 ships carrying billions of dollars of cargo. CNN senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman has the latest.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Ana, Egyptian authorities continue to dredge around the stranded Ever Given and new tugboats have arrived to try to nudge it free, but so far, progress has been modest at best. Officials with the Suez Canal Authority say they were able to move the ship ever so slightly but nowhere near making it possible to resume navigation in the Suez Canal.

Meanwhile, there are hundreds of ships waiting to pass through either in the Mediterranean, the Red Sea or in the canal itself. In preparation, perhaps for the next tactic to try to free this ship, Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has ordered that steps be taken to begin to remove containers from the ship.

The idea is that that will lighten it and allow it to flow free, but it's a complicated operation. It would involve bringing floating cranes to Egypt. There are none here. And the idea that officials are talking about is to remove around 600 containers from the Ever Given.

But keep in mind, there are 18,300 containers onboard at the moment. So, it's going to be a costly and complicated operation and much time and money has already been lost. Ana.

CABRERA: Ben Wedeman, thank you.

And I sign off this evening for the last time anchoring this weekend show. What a journey the past four years. And I just want to take a brief moment to say thank you.

First, thanks to my entire team for all the hard work, all the sacrifice. These are some of the faces you don't see in front of the camera but they are the best. It is hard to put into words the passion and all the dedication this group shows every single weekend. This crew has so much heart. I know Jim Acosta is in great hands as this team becomes his next weekend.


And I want to thank you. You have been with me. We have been through a lot together. Thank you for turning to us and for trusting me to bring you the news. I know I have learned a lot during our many weekends together, I hope you have as well and I hope you will continue to join me as I move to weekdays.

You can catch me at 1:00 Eastern in the CNN NEWSROOM starting Monday, April 12th. Until then, I wish you love and light. Have a great week.