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One Officer Killed, One Wounded, Attacker Dead at U.S. Capitol; Abundance of Video at George Floyd Murder Trial; Netherlands Suspends AZ Vaccine; France and Italy Begin Pre-Easter Lockdowns; Capitol Police Mourn Fallen Officer; CDC Says Fully Vaccinated Can Gather for Easter; U.N. Special Envoy to Myanmar, "A Bloodbath Is Imminent"; Medical Community Vaccinates Homeless. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired April 3, 2021 - 03:00   ET

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


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KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Another Capitol attack: one officer killed, another officer injured when a driver rammed his car into a Capitol barricade.

Totally unnecessary: a top officer describes Derek Chauvin's use of force in the trial of George Floyd's death.

Plus, in Italy, Easter Sunday will be spent in lockdown for a second year in a row.

Live from CNN headquarters in Atlanta, welcome to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Kim Brunhuber.

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BRUNHUBER: Flags at the U.S. Capitol and the White House are flying at half-staff at this hour after another Capitol Police officer was killed in the line of duty. The violent confrontation began midday Friday, when the suspect rammed a car into a security barricade.

Police say the driver then lunged at officers with a knife, stabbing one of them before he was fatally shot. Another officer was also wounded. Officer William Evans is the second Capitol officer to die on duty since the Capitol riot. His college roommate spoke to affiliate WBZ.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATT DERRY, OFFICER EVANS' COLLEGE ROOMMATE: It was real surreal to just think that I -- I mean I literally just talked to him and we shared a laugh a couple of days ago and now he's gone.

It has just been shock ever since. I mean it's been fighting back tears all afternoon and then trying to -- trying to make sense of it all and knowing that there's none to be had.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BRUNHUBER: For the latest on what we know, here's CNN's Brian Todd.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A suspect in a car rammed two Capitol Police officers at the security barrier at the Capitol complex, then got out of the vehicle wielding a knife, police say.

PITTMAN: He did not respond to verbal commands. The suspect did start lunging toward U.S. Capitol Police officers, at which time U.S. Capitol Police officers fired upon the suspect.

TODD (voice-over): At least one of the officers was stabbed, an official tells CNN. One officer died from his injuries. William Evans, an 18-year veteran of the force. A second officer was injured.

PITTMAN: I ask that you keep our U.S. Capitol Police family in your thoughts and prayers.

TODD (voice-over): The suspect, identified by sources as Noah Green, age 25, is dead as well. He was not familiar to Capitol Police, authorities said. No initial indication of ties to terrorism but the motive is unknown.

CHIEF ROBERT CONTEE, WASHINGTON, D.C., METROPOLITAN POLICE: Clearly this was someone who was actively trying to just get at whoever, whatever. We just don't know.

TODD (voice-over): A unit from the National Guard was immediately deployed to assist. Members of Congress are mostly out of town during the break. Authorities say they're not aware of a particular lawmaker being targeted. But an emergency lockdown order was issued for the complex.

The incident comes amid an increase in reported threats to lawmakers in recent months and a debate over removing more of the fencing around the Capitol, in place since the January 6th riot targeting lawmakers, and reducing the National Guard deployment. Some members on both sides of the aisle had been chafing in recent weeks.

REP. SCOTT DESJARLAIS (R): It's really discouraging to see the razor wire, the fencing, the image that it sends to the world. So if that threat no longer exists, I would hope that we could return to normal.

TODD (voice-over): Today's incident could reverse that debate.

REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA), OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: I thought once the barriers were removed, that we were moving back to some sense of normalcy. But this just shows the level of risk that there still is.

TODD (voice-over): In Friday's case, praise for the response by the police.

LT. GEN. RUSSEL HONORE, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Unfortunately, we lost Officer Evans today. But by and large, that system worked. The Capitol Police responded. They stopped him. The system worked. TODD: Investigators are still piecing together information about a

specific motive, but CNN has learned that, in the weeks before the attack, the suspect, Noah Green, had posted messages on social media, indicating that he had lost his job and that he believed the federal government was targeting him with, among other things, mind control -- Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRUNHUBER: The U.S. president and vice president are among those offering condolences to the fallen officer's family.

President Biden said in a statement, "Jill and I were heartbroken to learn of the violent attack at a security checkpoint on the U.S. Capitol grounds, which killed Officer William Evans of the U.S. Capitol Police and left a fellow officer fighting for his life.

"We send our heartfelt condolences to Officer Evans' family and everyone grieving his loss.

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BRUNHUBER: "We know what a difficult time this has been for the Capitol, everyone who works there and those who protect it."

And from Vice President Kamala Harris, "Officer William Evans made the ultimate sacrifice, protecting the Capitol and those who work there on behalf of the American people.

"Officer Evans, his family and all those who knew him are in our hearts and prayers. We mourn them during this difficult time."

Cedric Alexander is the former president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives and former public safety director in Dekalb County, Georgia, and he joins me now from Pensacola, Florida.

Thank you so much for being here. First, I just want to start off with your reaction to this tragic incident.

CEDRIC ALEXANDER, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, certainly our hearts and prayers go out to the officer who lost his life bravely today and those that were injured. And we certainly do wish for their quick recovery.

It is a very sad day. It is unfortunate and something that we certainly were not in no type of way prepared for, considering the most recent January 6th event there at the Capitol.

But we have to support our law enforcement in and around the Capitol Police tonight, tomorrow, because we recognize and realize they have a very difficult and challenging job in this time that we're in.

But we certainly do appreciate their bravery and we applaud them. But it was a very, very sad day, a very tragic day here in the country, in terms of what happened. BRUNHUBER: Yes.

How do you mean it's something that they weren't prepared for?

ALEXANDER: Well, we're never prepared -- not that they weren't prepared; we as Americans are oftentimes not prepared because we don't recognize the dangers that police officers, such as the Capitol Police, have to be prepared for every day.

And they did a great job in protecting us and, unfortunately, a police officer lost his life and we're all sad by that.

They train hard. They work hard and they certainly do understand the dangers that comes with protecting our democracy there at the Capitol, certainly post the most recent event on January 6th.

But we're Americans. We oftentimes are not prepared for these tragedies that just seems to keep occurring in the way that they are. We are living in a very challenging time here. We have a pandemic we're trying to overcome, and we have an economy we're trying to build back up.

We have the George Floyd case that is being nationally broadcast here in this country and around the world actually. So we're going through a lot. And then today we had this tragic event, and we are just thankful for our Capitol Police officers.

BRUNHUBER: Yes, absolutely. We heard the retired general, who led a review of the security at the U.S. Capitol after the January 6th riot, say the system worked here.

Do you agree?

ALEXANDER: Yes, it did. It did. It worked and it's the dangers that are associated with the job sometimes that is hard for us to overcome.

But whatever preparations were put in place had been in place. And new preparations that had been put in place, the men and women that were out there today did their job. But just, unfortunately, tragically, we lost a police officer today.

BRUNHUBER: Do you think, in order to prevent that happening, should there be more enhanced security?

It sounds as though, for instance, the guards were on the other side of the barrier.

Should the protocols change so that they're better protected against these types of attacks?

ALEXANDER: Well, I'm quite sure what would happen after today's event, the leadership and those that are responsible for security in and around the U.S. Capitol certainly will do a review of what happened.

They will look at video. They will assess the things that went well, and they will also look at the things that could have been done better. And we have to, you know, to improve after each one of these events.

But what make today most tragic, though, however, is the fact that we lost a life. But they're going to do everything that they can, go back, look at video, look at what we can do better to enforce the security in and around the U.S. Capitol but understanding that there's always going to be a risk associated with this.

BRUNHUBER: Thank you so much for all your expertise on this issue, this tragic day. Thank you so much, Cedric Alexander. Appreciate it.

ALEXANDER: Thank you for having me.

BRUNHUBER: The first week of Derek Chauvin's murder trial has ended with potentially devastating testimony against the former Minneapolis police officer. He's accused of killing George Floyd last year by kneeling on his neck.

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BRUNHUBER: In court, the head of the force's homicide division flat- out rejected Chauvin's use of force on Floyd. As Sara Sidner reports, the testimony capped days of raw and emotional witness accounts.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: To wrap up the first week of testimony in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin in the killing of George Floyd on May 25th, 2020, we heard yet more powerful testimony, this time from a lieutenant, who heads the homicide department.

And he says the force that was used that day on George Floyd was totally unnecessary.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your full name, spelling each of your names to start off.

SIDNER (voice-over): The man, who said he has been a Minneapolis police officer for longer than anyone in the department, makes no bones about it: kneeling on someone's neck is deadly use of force.

MATTHEW FRANK, PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: Have you ever been trained to kneel on the neck of someone who was handcuffed behind their back in a prone position?

LT. RICHARD ZIMMERMAN, MINNEAPOLIS POLICE DEPARTMENT: No, I haven't.

FRANK: Would that be considered force?

ZIMMERMAN: That would be the top tier, the deadly force.

FRANK: Why?

ZIMMERMAN: Because of the fact that, if your knee is on a person's neck, that can kill them.

SIDNER (voice-over): And that is exactly what prosecutors say former officer Derek Chauvin did to George Floyd on May 25th, 2020.

GEORGE FLOYD, POLICE MURDER VICTIM: I can't breathe.

SIDNER (voice-over): Lieutenant Richard Zimmerman, who leads the department's homicide unit, also testified he was called to the scene to make sure it was preserved. And he was questioned about police procedure, which he could recite without hesitation.

FRANK: As an officer, according to the training, you handcuff somebody behind the back.

What's your responsibility with regard to that person from that moment on?

ZIMMERMAN: That person is yours. His well-being is your responsibility.

SIDNER (voice-over): Floyd was handcuffed. He had a knee on his neck and he was pinned down on his stomach in what is known as the prone position.

FRANK: What has your training been specific to the prone position?

ZIMMERMAN: Once you secure or handcuff a person, you need to get them out of the prone position as soon as possible because it restricts their breathing.

FRANK: What is your -- you know, your view of that use of force during that time period?

ZIMMERMAN: Totally unnecessary. Putting your knee on a neck for that amount of time is just uncalled for. I saw no reason why the officers felt they were in danger if that's what they felt. And that's what they would have to feel to be able to use that kind of force.

SIDNER (voice-over): Chauvin's attorney then questioned Zimmerman's recent field experience since he hasn't been on patrol in decades, arriving at crime scenes only after an incident occurs.

ERIC NELSON, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: You're not out patrolling the streets, making arrests, things of that nature?

ZIMMERMAN: No.

NELSON: All right.

Your experience with the use of force of late has been primarily through training.

ZIMMERMAN: Yes.

SIDNER: On redirect, the prosecution got up and asked him again. He asked Lieutenant Zimmerman whether or not the force was proper and necessary and Zimmerman answered no, it was not -- Sara Sidner, CNN, Minneapolis.

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BRUNHUBER: For more on this case, let's bring in CNN legal analyst Areva Martin in Los Angeles. She's a civil rights attorney and legal affairs commentator.

Thanks so much for being with us. I want to just flow from what we just saw there. Obviously part of Chauvin's defense will be that the restraint was necessary and we heard him, even right after the incident, justifying it. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DEREK CHAUVIN, FORMER POLICE OFFICER: We got to control this guy because he's a sizeable guy.

(CROSSTALK)

CHAUVIN: It looks like he's probably on something.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRUNHUBER: So both of those things are verifiably true. He was a big guy and he did have drugs in his system. But the testimony we just heard in that report from our reporter, from the other police officers, it seems particularly damning, right?

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Oh, incredibly damning. Two key points to make note of. The defense told us in his opening statement that we would hear that Derek Chauvin did what he was trained to do.

Zimmerman blew a hole in that theory, saying that this is not the training of the Minneapolis Police Department.

The defense also told us that this crowd somehow was unruly, distracted the officers from being able to care for George Floyd or to be able to control him.

And what we also heard from Zimmerman was that the crowd had nothing to do with it, that the crowd should not have impacted the amount of force that was used on George Floyd and that, in fact, this crowd was not attacking the officers in any way that put them in danger.

So very devastating testimony on behalf of Zimmerman as it relates to the defense's key arguments in this case.

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BRUNHUBER: So then if the justifiable use of force defense doesn't fly, they may rely more heavily on medical testimony. It's interesting to me that both sides will be using the same medical examiner's report to argue two different causes of death.

MARTIN: Oh, absolutely. In this case, it's going to come down to the reasonableness of the actions of Chauvin and then causation.

Did the actions of kneeling on Floyd's neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds -- was that a substantial cause of his death?

Because in Minnesota, it doesn't have to be the sole cause as long as the prosecution can prove that it was a substantial cause. They should be able to get a conviction on one of the three charges that have been filed.

We know medical testimony is going to be key in this case. And we're going to see, going into next week, probably a battle of expert witnesses.

BRUNHUBER: So you know, I just can't remember another trial in which we got such a horrific, immersive experience, seeing this tragedy unfold up close from so many different angles.

You know, if trials rely at least as much on emotion as cold, hard facts, how influential could that be?

MARTIN: Oh, I think you are absolutely correct. This is a case where, from the very moment that George Floyd has interactions, with that store clerk, with individuals inside Cup Foods, it's all caught on videotape.

Oftentimes, we're relying on the testimony of eyewitnesses. We're relying on documents to tell us what happened with regard to a particular incident. But in this case, as you just stated, we have videotape with multiple -- from multiple individuals that give us a clear picture.

And I can't help but believe that the videotapes, the ones that we've seen of George Floyd, of him acting pretty normal, engaging in conversation, going about his business and then watching what happens to him under the knee of Chauvin, that that videotape is resonating with jurors. BRUNHUBER: Yes and resonating with those of us watching it. I mean,

obviously, the pain for the family must be unimaginable for those watching; you know, obviously on a much lower scale. But there's still pain as well.

I know many people in the Black community are getting retraumatized, you know, not just here in the U.S.; I've heard people have been identifying with this experience from around the world.

MARTIN: Oh, absolutely. And think about some of the witnesses that have come forward this week. We've seen from a 9-year-old little girl to a 61-year-old man. And we actually saw that 61-year-old man weep on the witness stand as he recounted how helpless he felt in terms of trying to help Mr. Floyd.

We saw the off-duty firewoman also weep during her testimony. We saw the very, very powerful and impactful testimony of George Floyd's girlfriend, as she recounted their use and their repeated efforts to break their addiction on opioids.

So many individuals that have testified this week, telling very powerful stories and that's what trials are about. Trials are about characters. They're about individuals telling their stories and connecting with the jurors.

And we're hearing from those pool reporters that some of these witnesses are looking directly at jurors as they testify. And jurors are taking copious notes, appearing to really connect with these witnesses.

BRUNHUBER: Yes, incredibly emotional and compelling so far. Thanks so much for your expertise here, CNN legal analyst Areva Martin in Los Angeles, appreciate it.

MARTIN: Thank you, Kim.

BRUNHUBER: The cases of COVID are rising across many parts of the European Union. Coming up on CNN NEWSROOM, why some countries are going into lockdown just ahead of the Easter holiday. Stay with us.

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BRUNHUBER: Italy is receiving more doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine even as about 30 cases of blood clotting are reported in people who recently received the shot. The European Union's drug watchdog insists the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks.

More than 1.3 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine arrived at a military base just outside Rome on Friday ahead of the Easter weekend. This comes as the Netherlands is suspending use of the AstraZeneca shot in people under 60 as a precautionary measure. It cited five cases of blood clots in women aged 25 to 65 and that followed Germany's decision to halt the vaccine for people under 60 on Tuesday.

As the Easter holiday begins, France and Italy are going into some level of lockdown. For more, let's turn to CNN's Delia Gallagher joining us from Rome.

As we head into Easter, while some European nations have changed or paused their AstraZeneca rollout, more of that vaccine is arriving in Italy.

Any worries there about the reports of blood clots?

DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Kim, back in March, Italy, along with other European countries, did suspend use of the AstraZeneca vaccine for that reason.

But then the European Medicines Agency studied the problem. They gave it the green light again, saying the benefits outweighed the risks in rare cases of blood clotting. So Italy reinstated the use of AstraZeneca and, indeed, the prime minister received the AstraZeneca vaccine. The additional problem with AstraZeneca, along with other

pharmaceutical companies, of course, is the shortfall in supplies. That's caused no end of consternation between the Italian and other European governments and the pharmaceutical companies.

Now in mid-April, Italy will begin using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which requires, of course, only one dose. That might go some way to helping them speed up their vaccination rollout. They're aiming to vaccinate 500,000 people a day. They are at about half of that right now, Kim.

BRUNHUBER: All right. So as for Easter at the Vatican, it was a scaled-down Good Friday but still some touching scenes there.

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GALLAGHER: Well, of course, because we don't have tourists here. We don't have the faithful in St. Peter's Square like we're used to seeing this time of year. Easter weekend is very busy at the Vatican. But not for that, that there weren't some poignant moments last night at the Good Friday ceremony.

There were children who wrote and read the prayers, and, after the ceremony, a small boy went up to the stage to give the pope a hug, followed by other kids, with the beautiful Sistine Chapel choir singing in the background.

So a poignant moment and perhaps a moment, we could say, of beauty in all of the difficulties and sufferings that we have to report on and that people are living nowadays. The pope will be holding his Easter vigil tonight and an Easter mass as well on Sunday but, of course, without the presence of the faithful, Kim.

BRUNHUBER: All right. Thanks so much, Delia Gallagher. Appreciate it.

India's cricket legend, Sachin Tendulkar, has been hospitalized with the coronavirus.

He wrote on Twitter that he was in hospital out of a, quote, "matter of abundant precaution" and hopes to be back home in a few days.

He announced last week that he'd tested positive. At the time, he wrote his symptoms were mild and he was recovering from home.

Coming up next, if you're an international viewer, you'll be watching "AFRICAN VOICES CHANGEMAKERS." If you're joining us in the U.S. and Canada, I'll be right back with more news. Stay with us.

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(MUSIC PLAYING) BRUNHUBER: Welcome back. I'm Kim Brunhuber and you're watching CNN NEWSROOM. More now on our top story, the Capitol Hill attack that left one police officer dead and another wounded.

Officials are investigating what may have led a 25-year-old man to ram a car into the officers Friday. The suspect was then killed after officials say he lunged at police with a knife.

Flags at the White House and Capitol are at half-staff in honor of the slain officer. William Evans was an 18-year veteran of the police force. Here's the moment that news of his death was shared.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ACTING CHIEF YOGANANDA PITTMAN, U.S. CAPITOL POLICE: Two U.S. Capitol Police officers were transported to two different hospitals and it is with a very, very heavy heart that I announce one of our officers has succumbed to his injuries.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRUNHUBER: Capitol Police are processing this latest blow, less than three months after that deadly insurrection attempt at the U.S. Capitol in January. CNN's Pete Muntean was in Washington Friday, as law enforcement officers across the district honored their fallen colleague.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A sad, powerful procession here for Officer Billy Evans here at George Washington University Hospital. Police here really as far as the eye could see, not only from U.S. Capitol Police but also the U.S. Park Police, the Metropolitan Washington Police Department, also the Secret Service.

It was really hard to spot a dry eye here, especially as the hospital staff came out on the street from inside to pay homage to Officer Evans. I saw one female police officer at the top of 23rd Street here, standing in solemn salute as that procession pulled away.

I also saw the head of the Metropolitan Washington Police Department, Robert Contee, hugging other police officers here. And as that procession left, what became clear was this was also part crime scene. The ambulance bay was covered in crime scene tape.

And beyond it, you can see a U.S. Capitol Police cruiser that was being inspected by D.C. homicide detectives. They were also taking photographs of that police cruiser. Still not totally clear how that was involved. But that will come out in this investigation as it unfolds.

What is clear is that yet another officer from the U.S. Capitol Police has been killed in the line of duty in a few short months of 2021 -- Pete Muntean, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE) BRUNHUBER: Baseball's All-Star game won't be played here in Atlanta this summer as planned. The league made the announcement Friday as a response to the state's restrictive new voting law.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said, "Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box."

The L.A. Dodgers' manager, one of two Black managers in the league, agrees.

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DAVE ROBERTS, LOS ANGELES DODGERS MANAGER: I support it. I'm not completely versed on everything but I do understand -- and my takeaway from the bill -- was essentially to suppress voting for colored people, people of color. And with that, that's something I fundamentally, intrinsically disagree with.

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BRUNHUBER: Republican governor Brian Kemp, who signed the law, is ripping the decision, saying the league, quote, "caved to fear, political opportunism and liberal lies."

Meanwhile the Atlanta Braves say they are, quote, "deeply disappointed," adding, "this was neither our decision nor our recommendation," adding, "it had hoped our city could use this event as a platform to enhance the discussion."

Now there's no word yet on where the All-Star game will now be held.

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BRUNHUBER: More than 100 million people in the U.S. have now received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. That number is from the CDC and it comes 109 days after the first shot was administered in the U.S.

About a quarter of those who got the shot got it sometime in the past two weeks, as more and more states have been expanding vaccine eligibility. The CDC says people can safely hold indoor Easter gatherings without masks if everyone is fully vaccinated. CNN's Alexandra Field breaks down the new guidance for us.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get set, go.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just in time for the Easter holiday weekend, new guidance from the CDC. Tens of millions of fully vaccinated Americans can now celebrate, indoors, without a mask and get back to traveling, at low risk to themselves.

[03:35:00]

DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: The science, on COVID-19, is constantly evolving.

FIELD (voice-over): The CDC says, people who are at least two weeks past their final dose of the shot don't need to test before travel or quarantine after. For those traveling internationally, a negative test is required to return, back, to the U.S. A second test, three to five days after arrival is recommended.

WALENSKY: All travelers, regardless of vaccination status, should continue to wear masks.

FIELD (voice-over): Steps forward but not quite a green light.

WALENSKY: While we believe that fully vaccinated people can travel at low risk to themselves, CDC is not recommending travel, at this time, due to the rising number of cases.

FIELD (voice-over): New COVID-19 cases continue to climb. Partially, fueled by variants. 79,000 new COVID-19 cases reported, Thursday. With about half the states in the country continuing to see increases in the past week.

GOV. CHARLIE BAKER (R-MA): Like many places around the country, we've seen an uptick in new cases. And as I mentioned earlier this week, the largest growth in new cases in our state is occurring in people under the age of 40.

FIELD (voice-over): More vaccines can fix that. Today, a milestone. More than 100 million Americans, with at least one dose of a vaccine. An average of 2.9 million shots, now going into arms every day.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're vaccinating more people than any other country on Earth.

FIELD (voice-over): Today, Johnson & Johnson begins a clinical trial of its vaccine for children, ages 12 to 17. That, on the heels of a big announcement from Pfizer. Data from its small clinical trial shows its vaccine is 100 percent effective among children ages 12 to 15.

DR. VIVEK MURTHY, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: The good news is that the vaccines that we have, today, have proven to be, both, safe and effective. Including, against the variants.

FIELD (voice-over): But with so many, still, unvaccinated, infections are still spreading. And perhaps, more quickly than we know.

DR. JEANNE MARRAZZO, UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA/BIRMINGHAM: This is happening, in the face of us, generally, testing less frequently. We have diverted a lot of our resources, from testing, to, appropriately, ramping up vaccination.

FIELD (voice-over): Testing, across the country. Falling now to an average of about 890,000 daily tests. That's less than half of the testing high point we hit over the winter.

FIELD: The virus has been spreading the fastest in Michigan. The U.S. surgeon general is now saying that vaccinating more people isn't just about protecting more people. It's, also, about preventing the virus from mutating, even further -- in New York, Alexandra Field, CNN.

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BRUNHUBER: The CDC has updated its guidance for cruise ship operators in U.S. Waters. The new guidelines don't say when cruises can start again but they do provide directions for dealing with onboard outbreaks.

And operators have to practice with volunteers before taking on paying customers. They have to report new COVID cases every day now rather than every week and they have to include vaccinations for crew and port staff in their plans.

All right. Coming up on CNN NEWSROOM, Myanmar's military has killed hundreds of its own civilians since it took power in February and they're waging battles with specific ethnic groups as well. That's next.

And we'll find out what authorities in Taiwan say caused the worst rail disaster in decades. That's just ahead.

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BRUNHUBER: We're seeing more bloodshed in Myanmar. An advocacy group for political prisoners says the military has now killed at least 550 civilians since the February 1st coup. But they say the true number is likely much higher. The violence is touching every part of the country, with the military targeting ethnic groups as well.

Ivan Watson is following this story from Hong Kong.

The military cracking down yet again, not just in person but online as well.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, but, you know, Kim, I just looked at the military-run newspaper and the top story there is the military dictator, general Min Aung Hlaing, attending an exhibition hall in the capital to see the sale of pearls and gems.

Meanwhile, we have reports of more than 500 people killed; at least seven people killed Thursday or Friday, according to one main non- governmental organization. A growing number of governments calling on their citizens to evacuate from Myanmar.

And everybody I talk to in the country is talking about the state descending further and further into chaos.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) WATSON (voice-over): The deepening crisis in Myanmar is starting to spill across borders. Thousands of civilians crossing the river between Myanmar and Thailand to escape airstrikes carried out by Myanmar's warplanes.

They're from a region controlled by the Karen national union. It's the oldest of dozens of armed ethnic militias that have fought off and on against the military in Myanmar for generations.

This is a patchwork of just some of the militias that operate in Myanmar's border regions. Two months after the coup, the deadly crackdown on anti-coup protesters in the cities have sent people fleeing to these militia enclaves, including the one controlled by this man.

WATSON (voice-over): Yawd Serk is the leader of the Shan state army. In an interview with CNN, he denounced the coup.

SERK (through translator): If the military continues to shoot and kill people, it means the junta have simply transformed themselves into terrorists.

WATSON (voice-over): In the cities and towns of central Myanmar, the death toll amid the anti-coup protesters continues to grow.

WATSON: Do any of you have the training or background to lead a grassroots political protest?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, none of us. I work in an office. I was department head.

WATSON (voice-over): This man, who asks not to be identified for his safety, is the leader of the protest movement in a neighborhood of Yangon. In just two months, it's gone from organizing festive but passionate gatherings, with costumes and signs, to desperate efforts to defend barricades from the heavily armed security forces.

The protest leader says he's hearing growing calls for armed attacks.

WATSON: Do you support violent attacks on the military?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, not at all because, like I said, it won't accomplish our goal.

WATSON (voice-over): He said some demonstrators have made largely unsuccessful attempts to carry out what they call "car wash" operations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A car wash operation is throwing Molotovs at a moving or stationary vehicle or whether there's army personnel in it or whether it's an empty truck.

WATSON (voice-over): Demonstrators in Yangon tell CNN there are some efforts being made to arm anti-coup protesters and to send activists to receive combat training in enclaves run by militias, like the Shan state army. [03:45:00]

SERK (through translator): If they won't have training, we will train them.

WATSON (voice-over): Myanmar's military doesn't want to keep fighting these well trained rebels. Instead, on Wednesday, it called a unilateral cease-fire for one month. No such mercy for civilian protesters, who soldiers and police continue to kill with impunity, driving ordinary people towards radicalization.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When ordinary civilians like us, all these workers like us, started taking arms and get maybe training for six months and start shooting people, I guess civil war would be unavoidable.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WATSON: Kim, in the last 72 hours, I've spoken to a man who used to be a business consultant working in marketing, who told me he had spent the last three weeks in a jungle training camp, learning to use IEDs and automatic weapons, hoping to eventually infiltrate back into the cities to fight the military on the ground.

And CNN has spoken with the commander of one of the armed wings of the Karen national union, who has also confirmed that that militia is now training protesters from the cities, conceivably for future battle with the military on the ground.

All ominous red-flag warnings of Myanmar potentially turning into a full-fledged conflict zone and failed state -- Kim.

BRUNHUBER: All right. Ivan Watson in Hong Kong, thanks.

Prosecutors in Taiwan are seeking a warrant for a construction site manager whose truck is believed to have caused the train crash that killed at least 50 people. According to authorities, the brakes on the truck weren't properly set. The truck then rolls downhill onto the tracks, causing the crash.

For more, let's bring in journalist Andrew Lee, who is joining me from Taiwan.

Andrew, what more can you tell us about what happened here?

ANDREW LEE, JOURNALIST: OK. Going back to the cause of the crash, this would be the train and this would be the tunnel. Before the train entered the tunnel, a truck, as you've just told our audience, it wasn't parked correctly. It had no brakes on.

It slid off the slope, skidded onto the train tracks and the train driver had only a split second, I was told, only 0.1 second to respond, to hit the brakes. So it wasn't in time. The train didn't stop.

The train smashed head-on into the truck and the momentum of the train, because it was traveling at 100 kilometers per hour, still brought the train into the tunnel. So right now, inside of the tunnel, we have carriage eight, seven, six and five. Carriage five, four, three, two, one are outside the tunnel.

And all the wounded and the victims has been accounted for, so right now they're bringing in the heavy machinery to remove the wreckage from the train tracks. Now the four carriages outside the tunnel will be easily removed.

However, the hard part is the wreckage in the tunnel. It's going to take about a week. In addition to that, the train tracks have already been twisted, so it's going to take a lot more time for traffic to resume here in the train system of Taiwan.

And we're looking at a four-day holiday here in Taiwan without train service for that section of eastern Taiwan -- Kim.

BRUNHUBER: All right. Thanks so much for that, journalist Andrew Lee in Taipei, Taiwan, for us.

LEE: Thank you.

BRUNHUBER: All right. Coming up, we'll show you how doctors in California are working to bring coronavirus vaccines to some of the state's most vulnerable people. Stay with us.

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[03:50:00]

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BRUNHUBER: Even though more than 100 million Americans have had at least one COVID vaccine dose so far, one large group of people may not be getting enough access to vaccines -- the homeless. Dan Simon has details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HESHIMU COURTNEY, VACCINE RECIPIENT: This is where I stay. My home right here.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is squalor beyond imagination, 49-year-old Heshimu Courtney showing us the abandoned car he's been living in for the past five years on the streets of Oakland. Dead rats littering this encampment.

SIMON: Does the car drive?

COURTNEY: Once upon a time it did. It doesn't move. And I wish it did because the rats and stuff come, want to find a home, too. So they come.

SIMON: Where did you find the car?

COURTNEY: It was here.

SIMON (voice-over): With the unsanitary conditions and sporadic mask use, encampments like this have been ripe for the spread of COVID.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've really seen COVID infiltrate into this population that's so marginalized from society.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's it.

SIMON (voice-over): But the trend lines may be changing, thanks to programs like this one, bringing vaccine doses directly to the streets and those experiencing homelessness.

SIMON: What's it like living over here?

TERRY CLICK, VACCINE RECIPIENT: I hate it. You never get used to it.

SIMON (voice-over): Sixty-six-year-old Terry Click jumped at the chance for a shot.

CLICK: I read two newspapers every day. I do keep tabs.

DR. JASON REINKING, LIFELONG MEDICAL CARE: We flip the medical paradigm on its head. We essentially bring care directly to people instead of waiting for people to come to come to care.

I'll go ahead and do some paperwork with you.

SIMON (voice-over): Dr. Jason Reinking is a street medicine doctor. His organization, Lifelong Medical Care, has a health clinic on wheels to provide the lifesaving doses. Not everyone says yes.

REINKING: Not going to happen?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.

REINKING: Maybe next week?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Maybe next week.

SIMON (voice-over): Hesitancy can be common.

REINKING: Many are marginalized from friends, family due to severe mental illness or other things. People have great, great mistrust of systems in general and medical fits into that paradigm.

PORSHAY (PH) JONES, VACCINE RECIPIENT: At first I was against it but, I guess, when I learned more about it, I guess I'm doing the right thing.

SIMON (voice-over): Twenty-seven-year-old Porshay (ph) Jones, a mother of two, is getting the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's it.

JONES: It's over? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's it.

SIMON (voice-over): It's now used exclusively in the mobile clinic.

REINKING: Us being able to find people a second time can be quite complicated or get the second dose on time can actually be really complicated.

[03:55:00]

SIMON (voice-over): Beginning March 15th, California included those experiencing homelessness as eligible to get the vaccine. Nationally, the picture is mixed. According to the National Academy for State Health Policy, at least 31 states and Washington, D.C., are now vaccinating the unsheltered or all adults in general.

BOBBY WATTS, CEO, NATIONAL HEALTHCARE FOR THE HOMELESS COUNCIL: Many states have discretion and they have really pushed people experiencing homelessness pretty far down the chain. From a public health point of view, that is not good.

SIMON (voice-over): In many cases, though, cities and counties make their own decisions. Back in Oakland, Heshimu Courtney says he's grateful now to be fully vaccinated.

COURTNEY: We're not worthless. You know, a lot of people think we're worthless or, you know, we were somewhere before we came here.

SIMON: There are no reliable statistics on how many people experiencing homelessness have died of COVID-19. But a recent UCLA study found that homeless people across the nation who did contract COVID-19 were 30 percent more likely to die than the general population.

Another reason why advocates say it's so important to have programs like the one we profiled, with medical staff hitting the streets and giving those shots right on the spot -- Dan Simon, CNN, Oakland.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRUNHUBER: Dolly Parton has received her second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. The country music legend posted photos on her social media accounts, thanking doctors from Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Tennessee, where she got the shot.

In the tweet, Parton joked that she got a second dose of her own medicine. Last year she donated $1 million to COVID-19 research, which was partially used to fund Moderna's vaccine.

All right. That wraps this hour of CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Kim Brunhuber. I'll be back in just a moment with more news. Please do stay with us.