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Prince Philip Dead at Age 99; House Ethics Committee Opens Probe Into U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz; Forensic Expert Testifies Police Actions Caused George Floyd's Death; U.S. Officials Urge Fighting Vaccine Hesitancy; St. Vincent's La Soufriere Volcano Erupts. Aired 4- 5a ET

Aired April 10, 2021 - 04:00   ET




ROBYN CURNOW, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hi and welcome to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. Thanks for joining me. I'm Robyn Curnow.

Just ahead on CNN --


CURNOW (voice-over): -- from the bells of Westminster Abbey to gun salutes at sea, the world mourns Britain's late Prince Philip in the hours after his passing.



CURNOW (voice-over): And compelling testimony from the medical examiner who conducted George Floyd's autopsy, what he revealed about Floyd's death.



CURNOW (voice-over): Plus, a defiant congressman declared he's, quote, "not going anywhere," in his first major speech since reports that he faced an FBI investigation into possible sex trafficking violations.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Live from CNN Center, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Robyn Curnow.

CURNOW: Buckingham Palace is expected to confirm funeral arrangements for Prince Philip in the coming hours. The Duke of Edinburgh passed away at the age of 99. He was a World War II hero and husband to Queen Elizabeth, spending seven decades by her side.

He'll be remembered as the beloved patriarch of the British royal family and father of the heir apparent, Prince Charles.


CURNOW (voice-over): The bells of Westminster Abbey ringing out in honor of Prince Philip on Friday. Some have been placing flowers at palace gates to honor him, even though the royal household and government are asking people not to do so because of COVID measures.


CURNOW: I want to go straight to live Isa Soares at Windsor.

What's the mood there at the moment?

ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're starting to see -- good morning, Robyn, crowds, mourners appearing outside Windsor Castle to pay their respects. Yesterday, the mood was incredibly somber. We had a somber silence. Many people I spoke to yesterday described the duke as an honorable, as a loyal man.

But I've got a guest, who can perhaps give you a bit of sentiment on what people are feeling. Darrell (ph) was just passing by and I grabbed him very quickly before we came to you.

Give us a sense, Darrell (ph), why you decided to come here to Windsor today and pay your respects?

DARRELL (ph), WINDSOR VISITOR: I think in a way it's very easy. He was a great man, a great, great man.

SOARES: What made him great?

DARRELL (ph): I think he was prepared to speak his mind. My wife and I were talking earlier on about, if he had been born later, if he had been born today, he would have been a social media influencer, no doubt about that at all.

So, I think just a wonderful man who maybe we didn't appreciate that much or as much as we could do during his life. But I'm pretty sure we'll appreciate him now.

SOARES: And a man who stood just a few feet, a few steps behind the queen for many, many of his last 73 years, in fact.

DARRELL (ph): Absolutely. I think that's another area where he was maybe undervalued because every great person needs someone behind them, so that when times get tough, they have that support. And I think he did a fantastic, fantastic job there.

And, you know, I just feel so much for the queen right now, how she must be feeling. And, you know, we do love our royal family in the U.K. and I know they're loved worldwide. So, yes, we just feel for her. And that's why we're here. SOARES: Darrell (ph), thank you very much.

So that's some of the sentiments I've been hearing throughout, so many people telling me, you know, how perhaps they can't imagine what the queen must be feeling. He was, after all, her rock. He was the wind beneath her wings, her partner, her friend, her counselor.

And I think despite the fact that we heard so much, been asked the public not to appear, not to come here because obviously they want to try to avoid large gatherings because of COVID-19, I think people will turn up.

They will silently come past Windsor Castle and pay their respects and bow their head. I think it's something we'll see throughout the day as we get more details regarding the funeral in the next coming day or so, Robyn.

CURNOW: That was going to be my next question quickly.


CURNOW: What do we know about when and where he'll be buried?

SOARES: Well, as you well know, Robyn, funeral plans are in place many, many years in advance. But given coronavirus restrictions, this has been changed. We know from the duke that he was -- he wanted -- he didn't want a fuss. He wanted something very simple. That's the kind of man he was. He didn't want attention drawn to him.

So, we know that he will actually -- the funeral will take place at Windsor Castle, St. George's Chapel, where Harry and Meghan, where they got married. The question then becomes of how many people can attend. We know on the coronavirus rules, only 30 people in funeral.

Who comes to the funeral?

Will Prince Harry come?

If he does come, will he have to quarantine, since coming from the United States?

Or will he be exempt?

These are some of the questions we're waiting to hear, word of what the funeral will be like and expect perhaps a military element to the funeral, given his military background -- Robyn.

CURNOW: Isa Soares, thank you.


CURNOW: Sarah Richardson is a professor of modern British history at the University of Warwick and joining us from England.

Hi. Good to have you on the show. The Duke of Edinburgh's life was defined and limited by his marriage to the queen. What do you think his legacy will be?

SARAH RICHARDSON, UNIVERSITY OF WARWICK: I think his legacy will be his distinguished record of service and the fact that he sort of provided a model for a consort to a monarch.

He managed to maintain this sort of remaining in the shadows while having this distinguished life of service. He was president of a number of -- well, hundreds of charities, for example, including the World Wildlife Fund but he had sort of retiring and un-presupposing nature in sort of public, even though he was a quite strong personality.

CURNOW: Yes. He was certainly a man of action and I know there was a lot of ceremony involved in his role, which became frustrating for him at times.

How did he see his role?

RICHARDSON: Well, initially he didn't know what his role should be, and he said, when he asked people, they said, we don't know. So I think it was one that he carved out himself very much.

But it was to really support the queen and to act as sort of guide and counselor behind the scenes but to try and stay -- say as little as possible in public, although he didn't always achieve that, and to maintain sort of presence behind the throne, if you like, which is difficult of someone of his personality and his character.

He naturally wants to be a leader and wants to be in front.

CURNOW: He had his own extraordinary life story besides marrying the queen. He was born to the Greek and Danish royal family. He was an exile. This is a man whose life story spanned the 20th century and, of course, beyond.

RICHARDSON: Yes. He's very much a product of that integral period post-First World War, where monarchies across Europe were in turmoil and then, obviously, a marriage coming out of the Second World War, there were huge expectations from the British public for this new, young, modernizing couple who were taking the throne.

CURNOW: And in many ways, his story is also Elizabeth's story. It is a love story. And that also will go down in history.

RICHARDSON: Yes, absolutely, you know, the longest marriage of monarchy, 73 years, and sort of demonstrates the resilience and the steadfastness of that partnership. So, I think it will very much be seen as a partnership.

CURNOW: And as you mentioned also, for a man of his generation to play second fiddle, I suppose to the queen, involved a lot of inner strength, didn't it?

RICHARDSON: I think so. And I think that's -- you know, the fact that he was able, I suppose, to carve out the role for himself meant that he had to deal with that conflict and create his own way forward.

But I think it was difficult. He was, you know, a serving naval officer during the Second World War. He was very sporty. He loved the outdoors. He founded the Duke of Edinburgh Award, which is trying to capture that spirit of adventure. So, playing a role where you're sort of one step behind the monarch is very, very difficult.


CURNOW: But he did it with grace and he was certainly a legend of a man. We all honor his legacy this day. Sarah Richardson, thank you very much for joining us.

RICHARDSON: Thank you very much.


CURNOW: And we'll have much more on how Prince Philip is being remembered around the world. We'll be live in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where, after a night of protests, there is an appeal for calm as a show of respect.

Will Ripley will join us from Hong Kong to tell us how commonwealth countries are remembering him, and Eleni Giokos is in Johannesburg a look at his legacy in Africa.

Coming up, one of the most important witnesses in the George Floyd murder trial takes the stand. The medical examiner who conducted George Floyd's autopsy is weighing in on Floyd's cause of death. We hear his testimony. That's next.




CURNOW: I want to take you to the U.S., where embattled congressman Matt Gaetz is responding to news of the House Ethics Committee will investigate him. It plans to look into numerous allegations, including that the Florida Republican may have violated sex trafficking laws.

Gaetz's office is blasting the probe, saying, quote, "Once again, the office will reiterate, these allegations are blatantly false.


CURNOW: "And have not been validated by a single human being willing to put their name behind them."

Now all of this comes as Gaetz spoke to a conservative women's group on Friday at a Trump resort in Miami, Florida. Here is Randi Kaye with more on that.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Congressman Matt Gaetz taking to the stage under a cloud of suspicion, promising he is built for battle and not going anywhere.

REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): The smears against me range from distortions of my personal life to wild and I mean, wild conspiracy theories. I won't be intimidated by a lying media.

KAYE (voice-over): Still, the accusations against Gaetz have at least one member of his own party calling for him to resign.

Why does Representative Adam Kinzinger think he should go?

The accusations are stacking up. "The Daily Beast" now reporting that Gaetz sent two late night Venmo transactions in May 2018 for $900.00 to his friend, Joel Greenberg, a former Seminole County, Florida, tax collector, an accused sex offender.

The next morning according to the outlet, in an eight-minute span, Greenberg used the same app to send three young women money totaling the same amount.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Extremely young, meaning what?

PAGLIERY: Well, one just turned 18 about six months before that happened.

KAYE (voice-over): CNN hasn't independently confirmed this report or what the money was used for. From the start, Gaetz has denied doing anything wrong.

GAETZ: It is a horrible allegation, and it is a lie.

KAYE (voice-over): And there is more. Separate from the allegations of sex crimes, "The New York Times" is also reporting investigators have been told of a conversation, where Gaetz and a prominent Florida lobbyist discussed arranging a so-called sham candidate in a state Senate race last year to siphon votes from an ally's opponent.

They cautioned that aspect of the inquiry was in its early stages. Gaetz did not respond to "The Times'" request for comment on the allegations.

All of this starting to hit closer to home for the congressman in an unavoidable way. A liberal political action committee has put up this billboard in the Florida Panhandle, which reads, "Matt Gaetz wants to date your child."

KAYE: This event was put on the group Women for America First so there were a lot of cheers, a lot of love for Matt Gaetz. This was friendly territory for him. The woman who runs this organization is a long-time supporter of Donald Trump. And Matt Gaetz really tried to bring the crowd to his side even more

so, making them feel as though it was all -- they were all in this together.

He told the crowd, "When you see the leaks and the lies and the falsehoods and the smears and insiders forecasting my demise, they aren't really coming for me. They're coming for you."

Gaetz told the crowd this was a week full of encouragement and plenty of donations -- Randi Kaye, CNN, Doral, Florida.


CURNOW: Dozens of protesters gathered in Minneapolis on Friday night to demand justice for George Floyd and an end to police brutality. They could be heard chanting, "I can't breathe."

Those were some of the last words Floyd said before he died in police custody last summer. The protesters have been demonstrating at the courthouse throughout the murder and manslaughter trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin. He's also charged with Floyd's death after kneeling on his neck for more than nine minutes.

The second week of the murder trial wrapped up on Friday with some of the most highly anticipated testimony so far. Sara Sidner is following the trial from Minneapolis -- Sara.


SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): One of the most important witnesses in this case for both the prosecution and defense took the stand today.

JERRY BLACKWELL, PROSECUTOR: You conducted the autopsy on Mr. George Floyd?


SIDNER (voice-over): Unlike all the other medical experts Hennepin County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Andrew Baker is the only person to testify that he did an autopsy on George Floyd's body, he determined the cause and manner of death.

BAKER: The law enforcements of dual restraints and the neck compression was just more than Mr. Floyd could take.

SIDNER (voice-over): But prosecutor Jerry Blackwell asked if drugs or Floyd's heart disease caused Floyd's death.

BAKER: Mr. Floyd's use of fentanyl did not cause the subdual or neck restraint. His heart disease did not cause the subdual or the neck restraint.

SIDNER (voice-over): Without those two things done by Derek Chauvin and the other officers, Mr. Floyd would not have died, he testified. But the defense tried to poke holes in his determinations. ERIC NELSON, DEREK CHAUVIN'S ATTORNEY: And so, in your opinion, both the heart disease as well as the history of hypertension and the drug, the drugs that were in his system played a role in Mr. Floyd's death?

BAKER: In my opinion, yes.

SIDNER (voice-over): Also, on the stand --

BLACKWELL: State will call for their first witness Dr. Lindsey Thomas.


SIDNER (voice-over): -- veteran forensic pathologist Lindsey Thomas is unequivocal in her assessment of how George Floyd died.

DR. LINDSEY THOMAS, FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST MEDICAL EXAMINER: There's no evidence to suggest he would have died that night, except for the interactions with law enforcement.

SIDNER (voice-over): She agreed with Dr. Baker's autopsy report that Floyd's heart was enlarged and that he had drugs in his system. So, Chauvin's attorney then asked a hypothetical question.

NELSON: You find a person at home, no struggle with the police, right? And you -- the person doesn't have a heart problem. But you find fentanyl and methamphetamine in this person's system at the levels that they're at. Would you certify this as an overdose?

THOMAS: Again, in the absence of any of these other realities, yes, I could consider that to be an overdose.

SIDNER (voice-over): But on redirect, she testified that is not how George Floyd died. The cause of death was the law enforcement dual restraint and compression, and the manner of death is homicide.

SIDNER: The jury heard over and over again those two words, "restraint and compression" as the cause of George Floyd's death. And the prosecution pointed out the only way that that was happening to his body was because of the officers, including Derek Chauvin, who is on trial for his murder, their actions that day -- Sara Sidner, CNN, Minneapolis.



CURNOW: Angela Rose Myers is the president of the Minneapolis chapter of the NAACP.

Angela, thank you very much for joining us at this hour. What has been the impact of the trial on people in the community this week?

ANGELA ROSE MYERS, MINNEAPOLIS NAACP: Yes. So, I've talked to, you know, families who have been impacted by police violence. Even this morning, I had a community conversation with a number of Black community members in North Minneapolis, which is the predominantly Black area here in Minneapolis.

And, you know, many people are traumatized. Many people are triggered. They, you know, either watched the trial very intensely, very closely, or are trying to actually not watch the trial for their own mental health, because, you know, every day, we still have to go into work. We still have things to do. Life goes on.

And so, it's been a really tough time to balance, you know, the inner workings of the trial, the day-to-day trauma that is brought up, the videos from different angles of George Floyd's death. And so, it's hard. It's definitely hard for the community right now.

CURNOW: Absolutely, because watching that video over and over and listening to the medical experts explain in detail his last agonizing nine minutes on Earth no doubt feels perhaps like a secondary trauma for many people.

People who walk the same streets as Mr. Floyd did are policed by the same cops.

Is there a sense of hopefulness that there will be justice, at least?

MYERS: Well, yes. I mean, there's definitely hopefulness. And I think that also, one of the things that we've seen, as we've seen communities step up during this time, there's a number of healing sessions that are going on, just like the conversation I mentioned this morning.

It was facilitated at a local church with mediators and folk who are trained in doing mental health, administrating mental health services. So you know, there's actually a lot of people in our community who are stepping up right now, being the hope, being the change, being the community that we want to see.

And the truth of the matter is that, you know, the justice that we want to see for Minneapolis does not start nor end with this trial. We still have a lot of work to do when it comes to policies, when it comes to changing the culture of the Minneapolis Police Department, when it comes to transforming the culture of white supremacy within our nation.

And so, you know, the trial, I think, is an example of essentially the type of white supremacy that works within our country right now. But I don't think that justice is going to end particularly with a conviction right now. We still have a lot of work to do to see the justice that our community wants to see.

CURNOW: Well, it is rare for officers to face legal consequences in the killing of civilians. I mean, Minnesota's first case of an officer being charged was in 2016, I think. I mean, there certainly seems to be a lot of work that needs to be done locally.


CURNOW: Again, I know you talk about hopefulness and a community coming together. But is there a sense that a white police officer will go to jail for

the death of a Black man here?

Or is there cynicism, perhaps, about the process?

MYERS: Yes. You know, I've seen cynicism. I've seen hope as well for just the argument laid out.

But I want to make clear as well there's a distinction between our laws right now as -- a conviction of guilty or not guilty does not really mean what Derek Chauvin did wasn't wrong. We all saw what he did was wrong. And the whole world condemned his actions.

And so, if our laws -- and if he is not guilty, found not guilty, that means that we just need to do that work policywise to make sure that -- and when another officer goes up on the stand or when another officer is in that same position, that they are guilty, then also that it doesn't happen again, right?

The ultimate change and the ultimate place that we want to be in, in our country, is that nobody is ever murdered by the police or by the state.

CURNOW: Thank you very much for joining us, Angela Rose Myers there, I really appreciate it. I know it's going to be a difficult week next week. But thank you for joining us here on CNN.

MYERS: Thank you very having me.


CURNOW: One Georgia vaccine site is pausing Johnson & Johnson inoculations and a few other locations around the country are doing the same. Coming up, the latest on America's fight against COVID.

Also ahead on CNN, leaders around the world, including from the Commonwealth countries, are reacting to news of Prince Philip's passing.





CURNOW: Welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world, I'm Robyn Curnow. You're watching CNN. It's 30 minutes past the hour.

British members of Parliament are expected to pay tribute to the late Prince Philip in a special session on Monday and, in the coming hours, gun salutes will be fired across the United Kingdom. Buckingham Palace says the Duke of Edinburgh passed away on Friday at the age of 99. It's expected to confirm the funeral arrangements soon. Prince Philip became a household name after marrying then Princess

Elizabeth. To the queen, he was her, quote, "constant strength and guide." Here is how his children, including Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, remember him.


CHARLES, PRINCE OF WALES: I think he'd probably want to be remembered as an individual in his own right, really.

ANNE, PRINCESS ROYAL: He treated everybody as an individual and gave them the respect that he felt that they were due as individuals.

PRINCE ANDREW, DUKE OF YORK: It's so difficult to put a legacy on somebody like that because he's been in society, for society, with society alongside the queen for so many years.

PRINCE EDWARD, EARL OF WESSEX: My father was always a great source of support and encouragement. It was -- and guidance all the way through and never trying to curtail any of the activities or anything we wanted to try to do but always encouraged that.


CURNOW: Well, Salma Abdelaziz joins me now from Belfast, Northern Ireland, that's taking part in tributes to Prince Philip. But violent protests have been going on for more than a week now. Salma, tell us what's happening on the ground right now.

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN PRODUCER: Well, I'm standing here in front of city hall in Belfast, Robyn, and the flag is at half-staff. But there has been, as you said, a week of terrible violence here.

Dozens of policemen have been injured; what started out as actions against local authorities, against the police by Protestant communities, turned into these communities, Protestant and Catholic turning against each other.

There were Molotov cocktails, bricks, fireworks being traded over peace walls between these opposing communities. But yesterday, of course, when Prince Philip's death was announced, we heard from all sides, all factions, that peace, calm was needed out of respect for the death of Prince Philip.

I was actually on the steps of city hall yesterday, when a senior member of Sinn Fein, a nationalist, reached out to the other side and said, it's important that we acknowledge that people are mourning right now. We must take a pause.

That's exactly what we saw happen last night. Yes, there were small scrimmages that we witnessed in parts of North Belfast but, by and large, the streets were quiet. This is violence these communities have not seen in years. So it was a much-needed break.

But will it last? That's really the question here, Robyn.

Or was this just a brief quiet, a brief ease, out of respect for the death of this royal? -- Robyn.

CURNOW: Salma Abdelaziz, thank you.

Leaders around the world are praising Prince Philip and lamenting his passing. Here is some reaction from Commonwealth countries, most of which are former British territories.

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi says my thoughts are with the British people and the royal family on the passing of Prince Philip. He had a distinguished career in the military and was at the forefront of many community service initiatives."

And New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern says, "Prince Philip will be fondly remembered for the encouragement he gave to so many young New Zealanders through the Duke of Edinburgh's Hillary Award."

And Australian prime minister Scott Morrison says, "Prince Philip was no stranger to Australia, having visited our country more than 20 times. The Commonwealth family joins together in sorrow and thanksgiving for the loss and life of Prince Philip."

Well, for more now on global tributes, Will Ripley is in Hong Kong, Eleni Giokos is in Johannesburg.

Will, hi, to you first.

What's the reaction where you are?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, here in Hong Kong, this is a former British territory. People still remember, Robyn, when Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth sailed on the royal yacht Britannia into Victoria Harbor.

But his loss is especially being felt in the 54 countries that are now part of the Commonwealth, as you said, this family of nations that are joining together, mourning the Duke of Edinburgh. Those are countries here in Asia Pacific all the way to Africa, the Americas and Europe.


RIPLEY: People are talking about the 73-year marriage between Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh, 65 years as royal consort, the longest serving in British history. For the leaders who have met the royal couple over the decades, their thoughts are really with the queen.

She is the head of state of 16 nations today, including here in Asia Pacific, New Zealand and Australia. She made more than 20 visits to Australia. And there was a 41-gun salute for Prince Philip in Canberra. There are gun salutes planned across the U.K. and the commonwealth. You also have flags that are at half-mast right now in many of these

countries, including at the Sydney Harbor Bridge. The New Zealand prime minister talked about philanthropy and the hundreds of charities that the Duke of Edinburgh has been involved in and the Duke of Edinburgh's Award, which has touched the lives of tens of thousands of young people in 144 countries and territories.

And then there is even an island in the Southwest Pacific, Tanna, one of the islands of Vanuatu, where the late Prince Philip is actually worshipped as a god. They, for decades, have had this religion that formed, where they believe that the duke descended from their own ancestors.

They have been praying for him to go back to their village because they think he'll bring prosperity. He never made it to this village but Prince Charles did back in 2018. Some are saying that now their worship of the Duke of Edinburgh may extend to his son, Prince Charles.

But, Robyn, the mystique, the impact of this loss is being felt pretty much in every corner of the world but, particularly, the Commonwealth family of nations, who feel like they have lost a key member of their family.

CURNOW: Will Ripley, thanks for that. Live there in Hong Kong.

I want to go to Johannesburg now. Eleni Giokos is standing by.

We have more reaction from where you are. Of course, Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth learned she would be queen in Africa. They heard of the king's death in Kenya. There's a long history with the royal family and Africa.

ELENI GIOKOS, CNNMONEY CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. Actually, that trip to Kenya, Robyn, was when his life changed irrevocably, because that, as you rightly say, was the moment where Princess Elizabeth, then, found out that she was going to be ascending to the throne.

Prince Philip had to then give up his military career and, of course, stand by his wife and serve the crown. So a big milestone. And, of course, the relationship between Africa and the monarchy has been really strong. So, 54 commonwealth countries and 19 are on the African continent and most have been colonies.

What we have also seen in the South African context is Princess Elizabeth's very first trip as princess was to South Africa. Interesting, very tumultuous relationship between the monarchy and South Africa.

South Africa left the union in 1961 and then rejoined in 1994. That is when both when Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth met with Nelson Mandela and they were on a first-name basis.

We heard from Cyril Ramaphosa today, the president of South Africa, saying that Prince Philip was a remarkable public figure, who lived an extraordinary life and will be fondly remembered by many people around the world.

And we're seeing so many sentiments and best wishes and well wishes because of the passing of Prince Philip. Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta coming out and saying he was a towering symbol of family values and the unity of the British people as well as the entire global community.

Importantly, Robyn, as well, Prince Philip was a patron of more than 780 charities and many of those were on the continent. He focused a lot on literacy. He was really important during state visits, accompanying Queen Elizabeth, and pivotal in creating a strong relationship with many African leaders and the monarchy.

CURNOW: Eleni in JoBurg, thank you so much, and to Will in Hong Kong.

So you're watching CNN. We'll be right back.





CURNOW: It's 42 minutes past the hour. Welcome back.

And Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccinations are on hold at a Georgia inoculation site after at least eight people had bad reactions. Now officials say they are pausing the shots out of an abundance of caution and they insist there's nothing wrong with the vaccine itself.

Georgia is at least the fourth state with a Johnson & Johnson vaccine incident; Colorado, North Carolina and Iowa also evaluating some patient reactions. Here's Alexandra Field.


JEFF ZIENTS, WHITE HOUSE COVID-19 TASK FORCE COORDINATOR: And we're working to put this pandemic behind this as fast as we can.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): But the spread of new COVID-19 cases is also yet again moving quickly.

GOV. JAY INSLEE (D-WA): Vaccine's great. But if these numbers skyrocket, that vaccine is not going to bail us out.

FIELD (voice-over): Nearly 80,000 new infections reported across the country on Thursday.

GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): The year-end we all know what works and this has to be a team effort. We have to do this together. Lives depend on it.

FIELD (voice-over): The governor of Michigan urging high schools to go remote as her state faces among the highest number of new cases per capita in the nation.

Part of a surge in the Upper Midwest, where some cases are tied to youth sports and the prevalence of more transmissible variants.

ZIENTS: We will be offering to states with significant increases in cases a set of additional tools to help them to stem the spread.

FIELD (voice-over): In part that means making sure every distributed dose of a vaccine is administered. One quarter of American adults are now fully vaccinated.

DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: Our vaccination efforts this week have continued to accelerate.

FIELD (voice-over): The White House Task Force saying there is enough supply to maintain the current average of about 3 million daily shots in arms, that despite a Johnson & Johnson manufacturing setback that's slowing their output and worrying governors over depending on their shipments.

GOV. LARRY HOGAN (R-MD): We were told two days ago that we were going to have an 85 percent cut in the doses of J&J was about 80,000 dose reduction for us.

FIELD (voice-over): Still health experts predict we could soon be at the point where supply outpaces demand.

DR. VIVEK MURTHY, SURGEON GENERAL: As more and more Americans gain access to the vaccine. I'm happy to share that vaccine confidence is rising.

FIELD (voice-over): There are however, some concerns over the AstraZeneca vaccine which isn't available in the U.S. Several vaccine advisors to the federal government now saying they wouldn't take the AstraZeneca vaccine themselves if given another option.

Dr. Anthony Fauci says he doesn't foresee a need for the AstraZeneca vaccine in the US, but officials insist more does need to be done to combat vaccine hesitancy in order to get to herd immunity.

MURTHY: Millions of people still have questions about the vaccine. And misinformation and disinformation continue to spread.

FIELD (voice-over): Amid a handful of reports of breakthrough infections, illnesses and deaths among elderly people who are fully vaccinated.


FIELD (voice-over): Fauci responding by saying that in very small numbers is expected.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: There's nothing there yet. That's a red flag. We obviously going to keep an eye out on that very, very carefully. But I don't see anything that changes our concept of the vaccine and its efficacy. FIELD: Also, a major step forward in the push to get more people vaccinated, Pfizer announcing it has applied to the FDA to allow for use of its COVID vaccine among 12- to 15-year-olds.

The acting chairman of the FDA's vaccine advisory committee saying it is highly likely that the FDA will allow for that and that the FDA could act fairly quickly -- in New York, Alexandra Field, CNN.


CURNOW: So France is further shying away from using the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine for a younger age group because of blood clot concerns. It says people under 55 who already have received a first dose of AstraZeneca will now be offered an alternative for their second shot. Let's go to Jim Bittermann, who joins me from outside Paris.

What more can you tell us about this?

Hi, Jim. Good to see you.

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SR. INTL. CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Robyn. In fact, this is one of the things that's causing a little confusion here this morning. Basically, the health authority, the high health authority, said yesterday that people under the age of 55, who have gotten one shot of AstraZeneca, will not be -- or at they're least not recommending they get a second shot of AstraZeneca.

In fact, they'll be given another vaccine of similar kind, a similar kind, like, for example, Pfizer or one of the others. In any case, that applies to about a half million people who already had one shot of AstraZeneca, were waiting for their second. The time between the two shots in AstraZeneca's case is like 12 weeks.

So they're in this time period and they are now going to be offered shot of a different kind of vaccine. However, that strategy of mixing up vaccines is not exactly the kind of thing that's recommended by everybody. Some doctors disagree that it's the best strategy to follow.


DR. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Splitting vaccine doses between two different vaccines is completely untried. We don't know -- first of all, we don't know whether it is effective, and we don't know whether it is safe.

In an environment with more variants, you really want to know that the vaccine you are getting will not promote the production of more variants.


BITTERMANN: That question about the efficacy against the various variants is something that's becoming a big question because some of the variants are not -- are not vulnerable to the vaccines like AstraZeneca and others.

Some variants are less susceptible to the vaccine. And so, as a consequence, there's not an -- it's an unknown territory we're into, with mixing up the vaccines like this. So Robyn, they're proceeding ahead.

France relies heavily on AstraZeneca. They've just pumped out 1.3 million doses to the various pharmacies and doctors that are administering the vaccines. And so, they're going to continue to rely on it.

But there is this mixup again; the people who had one shot of AstraZeneca, at least, if you're under 55, they're recommending not to get their second shot of AstraZeneca -- Robyn.

CURNOW: OK, further complication. Jim Bittermann outside Paris. Thanks for that, Jim.

So coming up, a volcano on a Caribbean island has erupted and could continue to do so for weeks. After the break, a live report from our meteorologist.





CURNOW: So parts of St. Vincent in the Caribbean Sea are being covered by smoke and ash after the La Soufriere volcano blew its top. Scientists say the eruptions could continue for weeks. The University of the West Indies Seismic Research Center says there were at least two explosive events on Friday alone, sending huge plumes into the air.



CURNOW: Back to our top story, Prince Philip. He was a champion of charitable causes all around the world, one in particular was close to his heart, the Duke of Edinburgh International Award. For the past six decades the program has reached students in over 130 countries.

He also gave his name to The Prince Philip Gordonstoun Foundation, an endowment which helps lower income children access the school he attended as a boy. He was one of Gordonstoun's first students in 1934 and was head boy in his final year. He regularly returned throughout his life to meet with children.

And then, the relationship between Prince Philip and the queen is considered one of the greatest royal love stories in modern times. They were married for more than seven decades after first meeting as youths in the 1930s. One of the queen's cousins said he was, quote, "her rock" and was

barely and rarely far from her side when it came to everything, from visits abroad to celebrations like the Diamond Jubilee, which marked an incredible 60 years on the throne for Queen Elizabeth.

The prince himself once said the essential ingredient to any marriage is tolerance, something he said was especially vital when times get tough. And few relationships have ever been so closely in the public eye as theirs.

So that wraps this hour of CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Robyn Curnow. Thanks so much for joining me. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram. CNN NEWSROOM continues with Paula Newton. That's next.