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COVID Cases, Hospitalizations and Deaths Rising in U.S. Again; WHO Report: Virus Likely Came from Animal, Not Lab; U.S. Among 14 Nations Expressing Concern over WHO Findings; White House: More Seniors Getting Vaccinated, But Not Time to Relax; Funeral Today for Officer Killed in Boulder Mass Shooting; Dozens of School Shootings Thwarted by Community Tipoffs. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired March 30, 2021 - 13:30   ET



ERICA HILL, CNN HOST The warning signs are all there. Cases, deaths, hospitalizations, all ticking up. Experts sounding the alarm for weeks now. And increasingly concerned that the U.S. is on the brink of a fourth surge.

The number of new daily cases is up 23 percent over the last week. We haven't seen that kind of increase since the last week in January.

And take a look at the map. Twenty-four states now reporting a rise in new cases. Those are, of course, the ones in orange and red.

In deep red is Michigan, with a dramatic in the number of young people getting sick.

That's where we find CNN national correspondent, Miguel Marquez, live in Detroit.

The numbers have been spiking for several days. But do we know why? Is it the variant or is there something else at play here?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's a lot of things at play. They have identified two of the variants here. And that U.K. variant, B-117, is fairly prevalent here.

They don't have enough testing, which is part of the problem as well. They'd like to get more testing done to figure out where it is.

But it's a range of reasons why things are starting to tick up here.

The economy is reopening. People are sick and tired of the pandemic. Schools are reopened. Kids are playing sports. That may be why you're seeing more young people getting sick and getting the virus.

But the most concerning bit of this are the hospitalizations. And the Michigan Health and Hospital Association came up with some numbers from March.

Just March, just the first few weeks of March, for 30 to 39 years old, the hospitalizations are up 633 percent. For 40 to 49-year-olds, it's up 800 percent.

And then you can see on that graph, at about 59 or 60 or so, you can see vaccinations go up and the number of hospitalizations go down very, very sharply.

So -- but the answer is -- the point is, of vaccinations work. But the concern is people are just not paying enough attention due to social distancing and doing all the things to make it through to the end of this thing without getting the coronavirus.

Put very simply, you do not want to be the last American to be hospitalized, to be intubated, or to die of this thing.

And that's what officials are concerned with now, that too many people are not paying attention to the rules or, in some states, just dropping the rules all together and acting like we're already at the finish line -- Erica?

HILL: We are definitely seeing that much to the dismay of so many experts and officials.

Miguel, thank you.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization releasing its report on the origins of the COVID-19 virus in Wuhan, China. And already pushback from people not just outside but also within the agency.

CNN international security editor, Nick Paton Walsh, joining us live from London.

As we look at this what's the big takeaway from this report? What are the findings?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: In short, they still don't know where it originated from or how it got into humans, the coronavirus.

That's not a huge surprise because when you're looking for the beginning of an epidemic it's an incredibly hard task to find that one singular moment.

But they essentially say, of all the four different possible scenarios people keep talking about, one is the most likely to them. And that's the idea that it came most likely from bats where it originated through what's called an intermediary animal.

That's another animal, possibly traded in the wildlife trade in China, and then got into humans. That point possibly to minks or cats as maybe being susceptible to the coronavirus in this instance.

A lot of the other options, that it goes straight from bats to people, was it in frozen food as the Chinese government keeps talking about, or was it a lab leak? They simply discard those as less likely.

I have to say, though, quite extraordinarily, you've heard a lot of Trump-era officials talking about the lab-leak theory, that it was inside the Chinese biological virus lab and somehow leaked.

Interestingly, the head of the World Health Organization Tedros said during a press conference: "I do not believe that this assessment about the lab leak was extensive enough. Although the team has concluded a laboratory is the least likely hypothesis, this requires additional investigation with additional missions, specialist experts that I'm ready to deploy."

Essentially saying, even though his team has concluded it's not likely, he's still willing to have another go looking at it.

That may be because how political this whole discussion has been with U.S. officials still. Former CDC Director Redfield pointing towards a lab lead recently, talking to Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

And he also did say, and it was clear talking to people on the panel for WHO, that they did not get the access to raw data they wanted.

This was a panel that got access to things that China wanted them to see, the data that China said it was OK for them.

They made that clear this their press conference.

And indeed, a statement from a number of nations, including the United States, says there needs to be clearer access to raw data. And indeed, they want more.

But there are lots of things in this report that were interesting and suggest the disease was more widespread in December 2019 than China initially let on.

There was a rise in influenza-like illnesses this that time in provinces, possibly completely unrelated, but also possibly making it harder to find the first signs of coronavirus, but also possibly to an initial sign of the beginning of that coronavirus outbreak.


There were lots of different variations of the virus early in that December too, suggesting it had been around a little bit longer.

And also, too, that Wuhan seafood market that people keep talking about, that was clearly, it seems, part of an outbreak, but only a quarter of the early cases only came into contact with that wet market. Half of the cases came into contact with that wet market and others as well in the city.

So a lot more things coming out here. A lot more questions to be answered. A lot of detailed information, frankly, in this over hundred-page-long report.

And now many more questions for China to answer. Will they give the raw data? Will they give extra data being asked for? And how quickly we can we get to working out how it began to make it less likely it happens again -- Erica?

HILL: In many ways, what it's pointing out is how much we still don't know. As you point out, still so many questions --


HILL: Yes.

Nick Paton Walsh, appreciate it. Thank you.

As Nick mentioned, the U.S. and 13 other nations expressing concerns about that WHO report because of the lack of access to relevant information. They're calling for more transparency when it comes to future reports on outbreaks.

I want to take a closer look with CNN medical analyst, Dr. Jonathan Reiner.

Dr. Reiner, as we look at this, I have to say, after listening to Nick go through everything that we do and we don't know and the questions from this report, what is the takeaway, just that we're still a year in don't have an answer?

DR. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: That's right, Erica. I think the takeaway is that there's still a lot more that we don't know than we do know.

I don't believe in coincidences. But I do believe in facts.

And right now, we don't have the facts that would support Dr. Redfield's claim in the -- in Sanjay's report from the other night where Dr. Redfield basically states that it's his opinion that the virus escaped from a research lab in Wuhan.

Now, you know, it would be a big coincidence that the virus starts in a city that has a research lab studying coronaviruses. But these things -- but coincidences do happen.

And we right now don't have the facts that point in any convincing way that this was a lab accident or escaped the lab.

But what we must have is greater access inside China. And the Chinese need to be much more transparent.

The committee that wrote that WHO report, half of the folks on that committee were Chinese scientists. And you can imagine the pressure they must be under to issue a report favorable to the Chinese government.

So we need greater transparency.

HILL: It will be interesting to see if that transparency, if that access is granted. Meantime, let's talk about what's happening here in the U.S. As we

look at this rise in new cases and deaths and hospitalizations, there's a lot of concern about a fourth surge.

White House adviser for COVID response, Andy Slavitt, weighing in earlier today on CNN. Here's what he had to say.


ANDY SLAVITT, WHITE HOUSE COVID RESPONSE SENIOR ADVISER: I think there's a lot of people that feel like, if I haven't gotten it so far, I'm immune, or I'm relatively healthy, potentially immune.

We don't understand this virus as well as people pretend to. We think they've lived with it for a year. Older people now are increasingly more vaccinated. That's the great news.

But what does that mean? That' means those hospital beds are still there and there for people who are going to get infected.

We are lulled into this false sense that this thing can't get to us. But as Michigan is showing and other states are showing, it's not true and it's not done yet.


HILL: You know, as we're lulled into this false sense of security, as Andy Slavitt is saying there, what's fascinating is that a year on, we're still stuck with mixed messages, although, it seems like the roles are a bit reversed this time.

The president and the White House are saying, listen, the science tells us we are not done with this, you need to continue to mask up, it's too soon to reopen. And then, hours later, you're seeing more states announce, hey, you know, we're done with the mask mandate.

I mean, at this point, what do you do, right, to stop that false sense of security? How do you get through to people, a year later, when we're still seeing things change on a daily basis, and states say, we're good, come on in?

REINER: Well, the big difference from a year ago is that we have a federal response that is singing off the same page. There are multiple voices coming out of Washington. We don't have the president essentially fighting with his task force about the recommendations. So that at least is comforting.

But we need to get the states on board. And what we've seen the last few weeks is multiple states, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, remove mask mandates or indoor gathering restrictions.


We've had other red states like West Virginia do more sensible easing where they've opened up retail establishments to greater occupancy but have kept mask mandates. I think governors need to be smart. Governors need to react to the

facts on the ground. And if cases are starting to surge or increase in their states, they need to understand that they have tools.

And it's not just vaccines. The simple tool of continuing to wear masks, continuing to have social distancing, you know, has borne fruit and will continue to bear fruit until we have a critical number of folks vaccinated. We need to do that.

I also would suggest that we're getting to the point now where, in states where we're seeing surges, we need to start surging vaccines into those states. We should be pouring vaccines into Michigan.

The surges that we're seeing around the country, in many instances, are being propagated by young people. And now we need to really step on the gas pedal and get vaccines into young people.

They are the vectors of the continued transmission in this country.

HILL: Yes, as we just saw from --


REINER: -- strike teams to go in with vaccines and vaccinate young people all over the country.

HILL: As we saw, Miguel showing us, just a short time ago, that graph out of Michigan, right, as the vaccinations go up, the hospitalizations drop dramatically for those who've been vaccinated.

So listen, we'll be watching for that as more vaccine is made available.

Dr. Reiner, always appreciate it. Thank you.

REINER: My pleasure. Thank you.

HILL: Just ahead, we're going to go live to Colorado where a memorial service is under way for the police officer killed in the shooting rampage at a supermarket there. His fellow officers have also found a unique way to honor him and the other nine victims.

Stay with us.



HILL: Right now, the funeral is taking place for the police officer killed in last week's mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado.

CNN's Lucy Kafanov is in Lafayette, Colorado.

You're there for the memorial, Lucy. What more do we know about today's service? LUCY KAFANOV, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Erica, there was a massive,

massive procession to escort the body of fallen officer, Eric Talley, to the church for his memorial service.

The procession is still ongoing. I'm still seeing vehicles pull up, more than 500 law enforcement vehicles from across Colorado and the rest of the country.

You know, we were standing on the road, you could see flashing lights for miles. It was a solemn procession.

We saw people lining the roads, holding American flags. Some had their hand over their heart, silent, solemn. You could hear a pin drop.

We know inside, we saw visuals of the Honor Guard lining up around the casket of Officer Talley. They escorted the casket into the sanctuary along with bag pipe and drummer players.

Inside there, were officers from all across the country, as far as Cincinnati, New York, San Francisco.

We actually received a program for Officer Talley's funeral. And so we know that Boulder police chief, Maris Herold, is going to be speaking. The Governor Jared Polis will also be speaking.

There will be music. They'll be playing "Cats in the Cradle," "The Last Good-bye," by Billy Boyd.

And also very moving, inside this program, there's a poem that Officer Talley's children wrote to their father. He was a father of seven.

We also know that the Boulder Police Department has decided to place the names of all 10 victims on the police vehicles. And we actually saw that as they were rolling in through this process.

He was 51 years old, one of the 10 people who tragically lost their lives on Monday's massacre last week.

And this is now a special service to honor his life and to remember the life that he gave to protect the people in Boulder -- Erica?

HILL: Lucy Kafanov with the latest for us from Lafayette, Colorado. Lucy, thank you.


The Secret Service says dozens of school shootings have been prevented thanks to tipoffs from the community since 2006. And a new report showing how important vigilance in the community is. But also how difficult this can be for authorities to control. Josh Campbell is live with the details for us, next.


HILL: The Secret Service is out with an alarming new report showing dozens of school attacks have been thwarted over the last two decades. And in every one of the cases outlined, it was a community member, a

parent or a fellow student who spoke up to flag behavior from a would- be attacker.

CNN security correspondent, Josh Campbell, joining me now.

Josh, give us a sense, what more is in this report? There were a couple of moments that really stood out to me.

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Erica. The key takeaway here is that so much gun violence is preventable but it requires vigilant members of the public.

That according to this new study from the Secret Service. They went back and looked between 2006 and 2018 at thwarted plots targeting schools. And they found that in 67 incidents of violence directed towards schools, they were stopped because someone spoke up. Someone intervened.

And folks may be wondering, what can I do? What should I be looking for?

This study actually talks about one example where a mother of an 11- year-old noticed that a set of knives were missing from the kitchen. She immediately called the kid's school.

They pulled the kid out of the classroom. In his backpack, they found knives. They found a handgun. They also found over 400 rounds of ammunition.


So the key findings here are that parents and teachers and students should be on the lookout. They should be looking for these key signs. Students are best positioned to identify and report concerning behavior.

We're also learning that removing a student from school is not simply the best way to mitigate a threat. You don't just simply expel them. They found that some of those threats continued to remain.

And finally, we know this isn't theoretical. After each of these mass shooting events, we look for key signs and indicators of what could have been stopped.

Look at that Boulder shooter we've been reporting on, Erica, and in that incident, we had two family members that said they noticed things that were concerning, to include behavior, to include the suspect playing with a machine gun two days before the attack.

HILL: Right.

CAMPBELL: You just have to wonder what could have been prevented had they not intervened.

HILL: Yes, an important reminder. Josh Campbell, thank you so much.

Thanks to all of you for joining me this hour.

Much more ahead. Our coverage continues right here on CNN, including more on the COVID crisis and the Derek Chauvin trial, next.