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White House Releases $1.7 Billion to Fight Variants; Report: Michigan Cities Account for 9 Out of 10 Worst Outbreaks; President Biden Welcomes Japanese P.M. to White House; U.S. Shifting Focus Primarily to China; Attorneys Prepare Closing Arguments in Chauvin Murder Trial; Prince Philip to be Laid to Rest Saturday. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired April 16, 2021 - 13:30   ET



ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Here's the situation right now. We are seeing COVID spread. Nearly half the states in the U.S. reported an increase in COVID-19 cases this past week. While 20 states reported an increase in deaths compared to the previous week.

And Michigan currently has the second most cases of that B-117 variant in the country, according to the CDC. That is the variant first identified in the U.K. It's more transmissible, as we know.

And Dr. Joel Fishbain is in the middle of it. He's an infectious disease specialist with Beaumont Health there in Michigan.

Doctor, I can only imagine how exhausted you must be. Thank you for taking the time to share with us what's happening.

Paint the picture for us. What are you seeing right now? How dire is it?


And it's pretty significant because of the number of people that are being admitted with symptoms and their age.

You probably have all heard that this variant is the predominant strain. And it does affect younger people.

And it certainly results in younger people being sicker than what we saw last year. More are on oxygen. And it's filling up the hospitals.

CABRERA: Filling up the hospitals. What are you hearing from these younger people who are being admitted?

FISHBAIN: Mostly surprise that they're getting that sick and that they're that young. I don't think anybody in those age groups, the 20, 30 and 40-year-olds

really expected to be this sick. And many of them have never been sick in their life. They're very scared. They're very concerned.

They're happy when they leave the hospital. But you can see the panic and the fear in their eyes because they're usually not sick people.

CABRERA: Yes, and beyond this new age group that you're seeing more cases that are turning serious, what do you say in terms of how this compares to earlier surges in what you all are having to deal with in terms of health care providers?

FISHBAIN: All we have is to compare to the surge from November and December time frame and then, of course, the original surge March and April.

March and April, I think, was older patients, sicker patients. More patients were intubated and more patients were dying.

It was very frustrating, too, because everything was new. We had no specific treatments. The treatments were changing on a weekly basis.

The science wasn't there to really help us. And then, as more science became available, we developed sort of patterns of treatment.

But the problem is that, now we have sick people, we still have treatments that look like they're OK. We have nothing perfect.

The good news is we don't seem to see as many intubated patients but we could get there.

If we don't control this particular surge and get it under control, I'm afraid we're going to be back to where we were last year.

CABRERA: I imagine it's frustrating. How would you describe that feeling that you all are experiencing?

FISHBAIN: That's a great word. You can add many words to that, if you'd like.

CABRERA: Add them.

FISHBAIN: What's that?

CABRERA: Go ahead and add them.


CABRERA: How would you describe it? Help us understand what you all are feeling.

FISHBAIN: Well, obviously, frustration with the fact that we're -- I'm not able to control this surge.

Obviously, we would like -- as infectious disease doctors, we love having medicines to treat infections. We have some treatments but they're not what you would like to have,

the way we have with bacterial infections, urinary tract infections, pneumonia.

There's delays in getting those kinds of treatments. That makes us frustrated.

If you watch all of the nurses, the support staff on the floors, they're exhausted, they're tired.

For those of you who have never had to put on an N-95 mask and gown and glove every time you go into a room, it adds time. It adds -- you know, it gets hot. You sweat. You want to help the patients but you're uncomfortable.

The sooner we can get this under control, the happier everybody is going to be, not only the patients but all these workers who have just killed themselves, long hours, very tired. It's just -- it's hard to watch.

CABRERA: We've seen so many other cities and states opening up in the last, you know, several weeks and months. Michigan cities, however, account for nine of the 10 worst COVID-19 outbreaks in metro areas across the nation.

What do you think is driving the uptick in cases there, specifically?

FISHBAIN: Well, all I can tell you is what we ask and talk to patients about. And obviously, you know about the B-117 variant. It clearly is much more infectious than the original virus from last year.

We are seeing -- and when you talk to families, we are seeing entire families sick, large gatherings where multiple people reported being sick. So if you talk to the patients, you find out what's going on.

And I'm just going to beg and plead for everybody to remain diligent with masking, limiting congregations of people, limiting exposure, social distancing.


You know, we're all just dying for people to please follow the simple rules. Take some responsibility for yourself and protect those around you. And everybody needs to get vaccinated.

So, you know, we see what you would expect to see with a much more aggressive transmissible variant and people who I think are just letting their guards down.

And the lack of vaccination, which takes time.


FISHBAIN: It's not anybody's fault. It takes time to vaccinate millions and millions of people. CABRERA: Right. And it takes time for that vaccine, then, to also kind

of kick into gear after you get the vaccination shots, which, of course, with the two that are currently authorized, are two shots that are three or four weeks apart to begin with.

Dr. Joel Fishbain, thank you for what you do and for taking the time with us today.

FISHBAIN: Thank you very much.

CABRERA: A major week for President Biden on the world stage. Japan's prime minister arriving at the White House, just moments ago. It is President Biden's first in-person meeting with a foreign leader. We'll have much more on what to expect, just ahead.



CABRERA: This happened moments ago where we witnessed Japan's prime minister arriving at the White House. This is President Biden's first in-person bilateral meeting with a foreign leader.

And it comes in the same week he has made some major moves on the world stage.

CNN's Phil Mattingly joins us live.

Phil, the president is looking to send a strong message with today's meeting. Explain.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: There's no question about it. With the meeting today, with the meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-In next month, the recognition inside the White House is the president's focus here on foreign policy.

And that foreign policy, you could see it in the Afghanistan withdrawal decision earlier this week as well.

That is shifting the focus primarily to China, particularly as the country continues to flex its muscles in the region, with the U.S. really trying to link arms with its allies, trying to show some force in the face of a rising China in the Indo-Pacific region.

The meetings are consequential. This meeting will be a lengthy bilateral meeting. The president and prime minister will have a press conference shorts after that bilateral meeting.

But the point here is just as symbolic as it is the two leaders talking about priorities for both nations.

Obviously, the pandemic is a key issue that's addressed in everything President Biden does. Certainly, will again today.

But also about what's happening in the region and how the U.S. and its alliances in this region can push back against China. And I think it's something you've seen from the administration, not

just on the foreign policy realm but also in the domestic policy realm.

Whenever the president is talking about infrastructure, about the American rescue package, the $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill.

It is often through the lens of trying to increase American competitiveness due to the challenge the president and his team believe they face with China right now. And that is certainly the case today.

And, Ana, it's something we can watch over the course of the next several months.

It seems like, when you talk to White House officials, they make the case that very much of what they're going the foreign policy realm is directing at pushing back.

It's making clear to how the president views China, how the president views Chinese President Xi Jinping, and how the president views the necessity of alliances in that region when you look at the myriad of issues the U.S. is dealing with in China.

Whether it's the South China Sea, whether it's Taiwan, whether it's Hong Kong, there are no shortages of issues to deal with. And that's why it's become a critical issue and why this meeting is so important.

Same with the meeting next month with the South Korean president.

The administration still inside the first 100 days still facing a series of major, daunting foreign policy questions across the globe, but making clear, China is a, if not the, priority -- Ana?

CABRERA: Phil Mattingly, at the White House, thank you.

We are on the cusp of a verdict. Weeks of testimony about George Floyd's death wrapped up. And Monday, closing arguments in the Derek Chauvin murder trial. Elie Honig joins us next with the key moments, what the jury will be contemplating as it makes its decision.



CABRERA: Closing arguments in the Derek Chauvin murder trial are set for Monday. And jurors are left with weeks of testimony and pivotal moments like this.


ERIN ELDRIDGE: Mr. McMillian, do you need a minute?



CABRERA: Joining us now, CNN legal analyst and former federal and state prosecutor, Elie Honig, with his top takeaways from the trial.

Elie, powerful testimony like that played a big part in this trial. What kind of impact do you see this having?

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Ana, I've seen a lot of witnesses testify in my day. I've got to tell you, I will never forget that moment from Mr. McMillian. That was a heartbreaking moment.

And really his testimony was a culmination of a whole series of eyewitnesses who go on the stand and testified about what they saw happen that day outside of Cup Foods.

Their testimony was clear and it was compelling.

And Mr. McMillian's testimony also showed us something else we'll take out of this trial and that's the sense of collective grief, collective trauma that those eyewitnesses felt. And that many more people around the country have felt.

Combine those eyewitnesses with the video, the 9:29, I think that will be the heart of the prosecutor's argument at closing on Monday.

CABRERA: That's the one that really speaks to the heart of the jurors who are watching that. How could they not be moved?

You're also focusing on the rare testimony from the Minneapolis police chief who said Chauvin's actions were not part of training.

Let's listen.


MEDARIA ARRADONDO, CHIEF, MINNEAPOLIS POLICE DEPARTMENT: To continue to apply that level of force to a person, proned out, handcuffed behind their back, that that. in no way, shape or form, is anything that is by policy. It's not part of our training. And it is certainly not part of ethics or our values.



CABRERA: Elie, how effective do you think that will be?

HONIG: Something remarkable happened in this trial. And that's that the entire leadership essentially of the Minneapolis Police Department, up to and including the chief, took the stand and testified about the conduct of their own former officer.

What he did was excessive force. It was not consistent with our training. It was not consistent with our policy. And I think the chief drove home, it's not consistent with anything that we are about as law enforcement officers.

Now, the defense is arguing, well, there's a lot of subjectivity. Things are happening fast. It's hard to second guess someone after the fact.

I think the prosecution is going to respond during closing, yes, but there's a limit. That doesn't mean that anything goes.

So look for the exchange on closing as well.

CABRERA: Then we have the testimony from renowned pulmonary critical care doctor, Dr. Martin Tobin, who offered this frank assessment.


DR. MARTIN TOBIN, PULMONOLOGIST: Mr. Floyd died from a low level of oxygen.

That's 91.5 pounds that is coming down directly on Mr. Floyd's neck.


CABRERA: How do you think the jury will weigh that?

HONIG: I felt, watching Dr. Tobin, I was understanding human breathing for the first time.

Again, he was the culmination of four medical experts, a cardiologist, pulmonologist, two medical examiners, that said, unequivocally, the cause of death here, either the primary or only cause of death was Derek Chauvin's knee to George Floyd's neck.

CABRERA: What did you make of the defense arguments we heard?

HONIG: Let's remember, the defense doesn't have to win. All they have to do is establish reasonable doubt.

They called their own expert witnesses on use of force and on the medical causation issue. Look, I didn't think either held up.

I think on cross-examination, both of them were exposed for having faulty opinions or opinions that were really not based on data or science or even common sense.

Ultimately, that will be a determination for the jury.

CABRERA: Closing arguments come Minnesota. In 30 seconds, what happens next.

HONIG: After the parties close, the judge the give the jury the formal legal instructions. And then they go into a black box and deliberate.

We will not know what's happening in that room. There will not be cameras in the room.

They will send notes. We will see those notes. They can ask legal questions. They can ask to see certain pieces of evidence.

Sometimes just mundane matters. They want lunch. They want the air- conditioning turned up.

Eventually, they send a note saying we have a verdict. And then, just like you may have seen on movies on the TV, they will come out, the judge will ask, what is your verdict, they will say guilty or not guilty.

I can tell you, from experience, everyone's hearts will be pounding at that moment. That's an incredibly dramatic moment, the culmination of this whole trial.

CABRERA: And I know you and I were speaking earlier, it could take hours, as you've experienced in some of your career, or it could take days, possibly even weeks. It's just so hard to know.

Elie Honig, good to have you with us. Thank you. Good to see you.

HONIG: Thanks Ana.

CABRERA: The world is set to say farewell to Prince Philip tomorrow. But this will be a royal funeral like no other.



CABRERA: A final farewell for Britain's Prince Philip. He will be laid to rest tomorrow. And we are learning new details about his pared down funeral service.

CNN's Max Foster is in Windsor where this service will take place.

Max, this will certainly be a funeral like no other the royal family has ever seen. What can we expect?

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Prince Philip didn't want a big state funeral. He wanted a rather muted affair. And I think, because of the pandemic, he is going to get that. It's probably going to be a strong tribute towards him because of that.

You'll see, you know, the military man being honored. The man promoted causes around conservation, for example.

But also, crucially, the consort to, arguably, one of the greatest monarchs in British history. He was her closest adviser.

I think it's going to be very poignant to see the queen sitting two meters apart from other guests in the church, wearing a mask, and mourning for her husband.

She's deeply religious. He was deeply religious. I think it's going to be quite a somber affair. But also a celebration of the life.

There's obviously some family politics which is getting a lot of focus here in the U.K. between William and Harry, in particular.

You will see the procession with them walking parallel to each other but with their cousin, Peter Phillips, in between. People reading a lot into that.

But I think really what they are trying to do, everyone involved here, is trying to take focus away from that tension, that rivalry, and focus instead on the duke and the funeral.

We also know that people are going to be -- royal members -- members of the royal family will be wearing suits rather than military uniforms.

Again, to prevent Harry being embarrassed by not being able to wear a uniform because he was stripped of his titles -- Ana?

CABRERA: OK. Max Foster, thank you for that preview.

And we will have special live coverage right here on CNN tomorrow morning during all of that.

I have to say my heart is so heavy today for so many reasons. But one reason is especially personal. We just learned our colleague Rene Marsh's 2-year-old son, Blake, passed away Wednesday after battling cancer.

And in a touching message to her son, Rene says, "Blake mastered the ability to bring laughter and happiness into whatever room he was in." And that he taught her "endurance and the depth of love."


Our thoughts and prayers are with Rene and her whole family. We are with you. And we love you.

That does it for me on this Friday. Thank you for joining me this week. I'll see you back here Monday.