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Minneapolis Braces For Verdict Fallout In George Floyd Case; Daunte Wright, Adam Toledo Killings Spark Nationwide Protests; Vaccine Hesitancy Causes 50 Million Vaccine Doses Just Sitting, Waiting For Arms; Afghan President Says His Government Not In Danger Of Collapse After U.S. Leaves; One-On-One With Retired U.S. Navy Admiral William McRaven; How The Pandemic Could Spur Global Action On Climate Change; CNN Hero, Heather Abbott Helping Amputees Of All Ages Receive Prosthesis. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired April 18, 2021 - 19:00   ET

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


[19:00:21]

PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: I'm Pamela Brown in Washington. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

And happening right now in communities across the United States, tensions are rising and more people are living in fear as they see more lives lost to fresh incidents of gun violence and the reality of American policing faces a critical test.

Take a look here. This is Minneapolis, Minnesota. Earlier today residents and protesters gathering at the place where George Floyd died last year in police custody. That intersection has long been the physical center of the city's frustration, but much more so now as the hours tick down to an important part of the trial of the ex-officer charged with murdering Floyd.

CNN's Omar Jimenez is in Minneapolis.

Omar, that place we just showed in George Floyd Square is hallowed ground for people demanding major changes in the way police officers work in their communities. What are people there telling you on the ground?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Pamela. I mean, when you look at this week ahead, this is the week that people have been waiting for, for almost a year now here in the Minneapolis area. And when you look at the preparations that we're seeing, businesses are boarding up, law enforcement presence is up. Even the public school system is sending everyone to remote learning midway through the week just because there has been so much anticipation around this week.

And we have seen rallies as we saw over at George Floyd Square today, but also protests outside the governor's mansion as well, wanting to keep the pressure on officials outside of the legal system and what's played out over the course of this trial. Once we get through closing statements that are expected tomorrow, the jury in this case will be sequestered or isolated and then it could take a day, it could take a week, maybe even more.

But they won't come back to the real world until they've made a decision in arguably the most important trial Minneapolis has seen in a very long time.

BROWN: And then you have people in a suburb of Minneapolis, Brooklyn Center. They are also angry and showing it. But for a different reason. What's happening over there?

JIMENEZ: Yes, Pamela, we've seen protests there every night since the shooting and killing of 20-year-old Daunte Wright at the hands of police. And those are protests that have come in a variety of forms, largely peaceful during the day, getting a little more contentious at night, but in many cases forcefully broken up by police in the post curfew hours, curfews that have been put in over the course of these nights.

And we've seen more than 100 protesters arrested, more than 100 in just one night of these protests. And we have a new curfew going into place tonight at 11:00 p.m. and the Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan put out a statement today that sums up a lot of why people are so angry and marching in the streets over the course of this. And she basically pointed to the fact that she was a mother and said as a child advocate, I am grappling with the stark reality Minnesota is a place where it is not safe to be black.

And that's the essence of the emergency she feels people here in the state are facing. And when you talk about the law enforcement response, we are on the highest level of alerts. So we have National Guard here on the streets, up to 3,000 of them available. And just early this morning, we had a drive-by shooting at members of the National Guard. No serious injuries, but two of them had minor injuries.

And again, all of this is happening on the eve of the closing arguments in the trial for Derek Chauvin, again a process that's been almost a year in the making -- Pamela.

BROWN: So consequential this week ahead. Omar Jimenez, thank you so much.

And as the nation awaits a verdict, Minneapolis police -- people, rather, are gathering in cities across the country to march and memorialize 20-year-old Daunte Wright and 13-year-old Adam Toledo, both fatally shot by police in recent weeks.

CNN's Ryan Young is live in Chicago where Toledo was killed.

So, Ryan, looks like there is a lot going on there. What's the scene like where you are?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we are marching with this group as they are moving to the city. What you're seeing here is they are obviously very upset about what's been going on for the last few months here in Chicago. They say there is a constant abuse between the police department and those in this neighborhood with Adam Toledo, just 13 years old. And of course video that is so hard to watch, police believe the young man had a gun in his hand.

Those in this neighborhood believe that he had his hands up and didn't deserve to be shot. So if you look at this now, we've been marching over for over I would say a mile right now. But look behind us, you can really see the crowd and the hundreds of people that have come out to memorialize this kid.

[19:05:08]

They're very upset. We're seeing people with tears in their eyes talking about the fact of another senseless loss in the streets of Chicago. And of course, if you add the fact that it was police involved, they really want to talk to the mayor about changing the way the police department interacts with this community. So as you look back in this direction you can see the people as they continue to try to march through the streets of Chicago to have their voices heard.

They plan to do this for the next three hours. Not sure if they'll make it that far but there's actually police walking with them. So there was a conversation between police officers and this group before the walk started. But really, the conversation has to happen at a table about how this neighborhood will continue to be policed. Some people say they want police to leave this neighborhood because they feel like they're under occupation. Doubt that will happen considering all the violence that's been around this area for quite some time -- Pam.

BROWN: I know you've been covering that for quite some time. Ryan Young, thank you for bringing us the latest there from Chicago where we're seeing that march there in the name of two of those victims. All right. Thanks so much.

And as the nation reckons with police violence and police reform, a manhunt is under way in Texas for a former officer accused of shooting and killing three people. Police identified the suspect as 41-year-old Steven Nicholas Broadrick, saying that he is likely still armed and dangerous. And we've also learned that he resigned from the Travis County Sheriff's Office last year after he was arrested and charged with sexual assault of a child.

Austin Police a short time ago gave an update on the search.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

INTERIM CHIEF JOSEPH CHACON, AUSTIN, TEXAS POLICE: At this point, we've exhausted every effort in searching this particular area for the suspect. We brought in many of our resources including our air support, our K-9 teams. Several SWAT teams have been out here and as well as our officers and officers from other departments.

I want to thank our partners who have been very strong, including the fire department, EMS, DPS, Round Rock. The U.S. Marshals and particularly the FBI. The FBI because the initial report was that it was an active shooter, mobilized and came out and has been here as a support unit. At this point we have lifted the shelter in place order. We are

telling people that they can go and come out of their businesses or residences in this area. But to remain vigilant and to be safe. At this point, I think it's proper for us to ask once again of our public please help us. If you have information about where this individual might be, please call 911. If you see this individual, please do not approach him. Call 911 and let us know if you see him.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: Police say the shooting was targeted and that all three victims, two women and one man, knew Broderick.

The U.S. has suffered 50 mass shootings since the Atlanta spa killings on March 16th, 50. We're inching closer to a rate of two per day. And this tally doesn't even include that Austin triple murder that we're monitoring since CNN defines mass shootings as incidents that leave at least four people wounded or killed besides the suspect.

Now sadly, just about every time we get ready to show this map, we have to go back and add to it. And mass shootings account for just a slither of the gun deaths suffered in America. About 40,000 people are dying from gun violence every year in the U.S. The majority of those, about six in 10 are suicides. Put it all together and average it out, more than 100 people are dying every day from guns in America.

Coming up later tonight, I get a firsthand look at the herculean effort to fight vaccine hesitancy in rural South Carolina. We have that story coming up. And then "TIME" magazine cover story writer Justin Roarland tells me why lessons from the pandemic can help save our planet from a climate catastrophe.

And a miraculous escape for the pilot of a World War II plane after he is forced to ditch near a Florida beach.

But when I come back, I am learning new details tonight about the Biden administration's push to get any adult a vaccine who wants to get one. Stay with me. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM, and we'll be right back.

[19:10:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: Well, as of tonight, more than 50 million vaccine doses are just sitting there waiting to be put in the arms of willing Americans. That's what senior White House COVID adviser Andy Slavitt told me tonight. And with all adults in the U.S. who want a vaccine able to get one beginning tomorrow, Slavitt also told me this. 90 percent of Americans live within five miles of a vaccination site.

Dr. Abdul El-Sayed joins me now. He is a former Detroit health commissioner and epidemiologists, and a CNN contributor.

Doctor, great to have you on as always. It's an interesting contrast, right? You have cases on the rise in several states. But at the same time, the White House senior COVID adviser told me there are more than 50 million vaccines that are just sitting there waiting to be used. Do you think we have hit the vaccine hesitancy wall and are now seeing some of its impact?

DR. ABDUL EL-SAYED, FORMER DETROIT HEALTH COMMISSIONER: That's right, Pamela. First, always great to see you. I worry that we're starting to get to that point which we always knew existed somewhere in the horizon where the level of supply would outstrip the demand. And the real work gets started to have that conversation with the American public who is still hesitant to get this vaccine about why it is safe, effective, and absolutely necessary.

[19:15:01]

And as we slow down, if we slow down because of hesitancy, it gives more and more time for variants of concerns specifically b.1.1.7 that has ravaged states like Michigan to continue to spread and set off potential new surges in local communities. And so it has always been a race between the vaccines and the variants, and hesitancy just slows down that vaccine leg.

BROWN: And the concern of course would be that perhaps a new variant could evade protection from the current vaccines we are getting. So by not getting the vaccine, it is essentially putting others at risk potentially, right?

EL-SAYED: You're absolutely right, Pam. Every warm body, every single one is an opportunity for this virus to evolve yet further. And so what the vaccine does is it shuts off that evolution opportunity and prevents that scenario that you talked about, that doomsday scenario where we have a new variant that can slip our vaccine mediated immunity. And we're seeing this virus evolve in real time.

I mean, we've got new variants, that double variant that seems to have evolved in India. Again, reminds us that this virus is waiting for that opportunity. And so we can't be complacent. We've got to do what we can to get ourselves vaccinated to shut this thing down.

BROWN: So, many Americans are getting vaccinated, but there was this poll by Monmouth University that found 80 -- sorry, 43 percent of Republicans claim that they won't take the vaccine. Just 5 percent of Dems responded that way. I want you to hear what Dr. Fauci said about Republican vaccine hesitancy today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASE: It is quite frustrating because the fact that one may not want to get vaccinated, in this case a disturbingly large proportion of Republicans only actually works against where they want to be. And so it's almost paradoxical that on the one hand they want to be relieved of the restrictions, but on the other hand, they don't want to get vaccinated. It just almost doesn't make any sense.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: Could you have imagined how big the political divide would be on something like this that would help end the pandemic?

EL-SAYED: Unfortunately, I wish I could say I never saw it coming. But we saw -- we've seen political polarization, and in particular politicization of this pandemic since the very beginning from the jump. What is frustrating, though, is that we have to remember that these vaccines were made possible by Operation Warp Speed which was kicked off during the Trump administration. In a lot of ways, this vaccine is one of the only things that two American presidents can agree on. We need to get them into arms.

The other point that also makes this so much worse is that we know that two things tend to go side by side. Vaccine hesitancy and also COVID denialism. And so it's the very same people who are choosing not to get vaccinated are the same people who are engaging in ways that could increase its spread.

You start to see circumstances like we've seen in Michigan, the parts of Michigan which are on fire right now with the pandemic are parts of Michigan where those two things tend to run together. And we're seeing major spread of a real serious variant and young people filling up Michigan hospitals.

BROWN: Yes. That is terrifying. I talked to the head of the Michigan health care system yesterday. He said that that's what was so alarming were young people filling up those hospital beds.

I want to ask you about something Dr. Fauci had said this morning that vaccinated people still need to mask up. But let me ask you this, because, you know, a lot of our viewers watching right now wonder, what does that mean? If you're walking on the sidewalk and you pass someone, do you still need to make sure your mask is on, or do we not need to worry about a mask if we pass someone quickly?

I don't know about you, but for me, when I'm out and about, I always get a little nervous and I, you know, put my mask on if I'm passing someone even for like a second. Is that necessary?

EL-SAYED: Well, the thing about COVID spread is it's a matter of probabilities. Right? We know that that kind of passing by someone outside, that is a low-risk circumstance. And so that's not really what the focus is.

The focus is when you're sharing enclosed space indoors for a prolonged period of time, those are the moments that even people who have been vaccinated really ought to keep a mask on because that is where we increase the probability of breakthrough infections which by the way are extremely low probability.

But that's what increases them. And so when we're talking about different probabilities walking by someone on the street is a very low probability of transmission, whereas spending time indoors with somebody, that's a higher probability moment of transmission. And so that's when even vaccinated people ought to make sure they're wearing a mask. And also it goes the other way. It's not necessarily that if you've gotten vaccinated, the only worry is that you might get a breakthrough transmission case. It's that you may also potentially pass it along. And so the most

important thing here is to remember this. Vaccinations are the most important thing we can do to beat this pandemic. We know that once you've been vaccinated, you're at substantially lower risk of getting this virus. And yet because the virus is still around, because b.1.1.7 is still around, it's important for us to take precautions in those high risk of transmission circumstances.

[19:20:09]

BROWN: All right, Dr. Abdul El-Sayed sums it up. Thanks so much.

EL-SAYED: Thank you, Pam.

BROWN: And coming up on this Sunday evening, retired four-star Navy Admiral William McRaven on the Afghan troop drawdown, the threat of domestic terrorism, and what he thinks makes a real hero. He joins me next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: In an exclusive interview on CNN, the Afghan president tells Fareed Zakaria that he is not worried about what the Taliban will do in his country after the U.S. and NATO pulled their troops out by September 11th.

[19:25:10]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: You do not believe that your government faces any imminent danger of collapse because of a Taliban attack?

ASHRAF GHANI, AFGHAN PRESIDENT: No. And the reasons are the following. First, the Afghan Defense and Security Forces have been carrying over 90 percent of the operations in the last two years.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: I am now joined by retired four-star Navy Admiral William McRaven. He knows the situation in Afghanistan as well as anyone. He oversaw the raid that killed Osama bin Laden and he is the former head of U.S. Special Operations Command. His new book is out, "The Hero Code: Lessons Learned from Lives Well Lived."

Good evening to you, Admiral.

ADM. WILLIAM MCRAVEN, U.S. NAVY (RET): Thank you, Pamela. And great to be with you.

BROWN: I read through your book, "The Hero Code," you see it on your screen, too, and there were several examples throughout the book of your time in Afghanistan and fighting the Taliban. You were on the front lines. You just heard there from the president of Afghanistan not worried his government will collapse once the U.S. leaves and if the Taliban attacks. In your view, from all of your experience, is he right or should he be worried?

MCRAVEN: Well, I do think he should be worried. But the fact is, you know, the Biden administration has come to the assessment that we can't have a military solution in Afghanistan. We're not going to have a military solution in Afghanistan. And I think that's probably a pretty good assessment.

You know, from a military -- from a senior military officer's standpoint, you know, we want to make sure that our voices get heard. So what I know for a fact is that General Scott Miller, the ISAF commander, General Frank McKenzie, the CENTCOM Commander, and of course Chairman Milley and Secretary Austin all have an opportunity to sit down with the president and express their concerns, and lay out the risks of a departure from Afghanistan.

And at the end of the day, you know, again, from a senior military perspective, that's the best you can hope for. And then when the civilian leaders make a decision, you salute smartly and move out. But what I do know is that those risks were laid out.

There is always the risk of a resurgent Taliban. There is always a risk of al Qaeda returning to sanctuary. There is always a risk to the progress the women have made in Afghanistan. There is always the risk of a mass migration out of Afghanistan. So nobody should be naive to those risks.

Now the responsibility of the military is to follow the orders of the president and do everything they can working with the Afghan government to mitigate those risks.

BROWN: And if you had been one of those advisers, what would you have said?

MCRAVEN: Yes. You know, my preference would have been to have left a small footprint in Afghanistan, probably about where we are. But having said that, I understand the president's decision. And frankly, I support his decision. But, again, had my -- had they asked for my advice, I think it would have been consistent with what I think the other commanders have put forth to the president.

BROWN: Do you have any doubt in your mind the Taliban will turn it into the way it was pre-9/11 and rule the country? What do you think?

MCRAVEN: Well, there is absolutely some doubt that they can turn it around, and the reason there is doubt is because, you know, over the last 20 years, we have had the opportunity to train the Afghan National Security Force. There are 350,000 of them now.

You know, the Afghan people see what the future and what the promise of Afghanistan can be. So my hope is that they will fight for their own democracy there in Afghanistan, and I hope President Ghani is correct. I hope they can kind of hold off the Taliban, a resurgent Taliban.

Do I think the Taliban will try to come back into power? I do. And that is one of the risks. But I'm hopeful that the central government can keep them at bay.

BROWN: So how does the U.S. prevent Afghanistan from becoming a terrorist haven?

MCRAVEN: Yes. Actually, I think that's the easiest part of the problem here. You know, if I were the commander and given the task of ensuring that al Qaeda did not have safe haven in Afghanistan again, I think we could do that from over the horizon.

Now again, would it be challenging? Sure. But we would have the ability to have drones in the air. If we have some sort of intelligence apparatus on the ground, we'll have a sense of how al Qaeda is growing.

We can do that, you know, over the horizon and to some degree remotely in terms of al Qaeda. The bigger problems again are the resurgent Taliban.

BROWN: And when you look back, you reflect on all these years that the U.S. was in Afghanistan, would you say the U.S. won the war in Afghanistan? Is this a modern-day Vietnam War? How do you sum it up?

MCRAVEN: Well, you know, we're not going to have a victory ceremony on the USS Missouri. But here is what I will offer to you is, you know, all the great soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, the intelligence professionals, the foreign service officer, everybody that served over there, nothing they did will be diminished as a result of the outcome of this war.

[19:30:00]

Their sacrifice will not be diminished, their heroism will not be diminished, their patriotism will not be diminished, no matter how this war ends, you know, none of that will be diminished, certainly not in my eyes, and I hope not in the eyes of the families that sacrificed so much.

BROWN: So in your book, you tell so many illuminating stories about the female service members with these heroic qualities, you say they were crucial on the ground in Afghanistan. You mentioned Ashley White, who was killed in action. How important are women serving in the military in your view?

MCRAVEN: Well, they are essential. You know, and I love the story of Ashley White, because it really does kind of highlight, you know, her personal courage, and not just on the day that she gave her life for her fellow soldiers, but her courage in in going into a combat environment every single night.

You know, combat scares you. When you're in a war zone, you have this fear and most of the great warriors take that fear and they bury it down deep inside and they cover it with every emotion they can because they know they have to go back out and do their job.

We needed the Ashley Whites of this world. You know, we need every person we can that comes to the war to try to do their best and she was certainly one of those great heroes.

BROWN: All right, and Admiral McRaven stay with me. I've got more questions for you when we come back, including your most powerful memory from the Osama bin Laden raid. We're going to talk about that at the other side of this break. Thank you so much.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:35:44]

BROWN: I want to bring back retired four-star Navy Admiral William McRaven, who has his new book out, "The Hero Code."

I have to say, reading through this, Admiral, one thing that did stick out to me that I didn't know you actually went through summer BUD/S, not winter BUD/S. I hear that a summer BUD/Sis a lot easier.

MCRAVEN: Yes, don't tell Adam.

BROWN: Okay. Yes. I won't tell him, although he was the one that wanted me to bring it up. But I want to ask you, as I said in the last segment, we are just weeks away from the anniversary of the mission that you oversaw, the raid that led to Osama bin Laden's death. As you reflect on that time on that experience, what is your most powerful memory from that operation?

MCRAVEN: You know, I think it was the remarkable teamwork in the government. I mean, from the President, to the C.I.A., to the N.S.A., to the military, you know, everybody had one objective in mind and that was to bring justice to bin Laden.

And so you know, there was -- in the meetings I was in, there was no rancor, there were people just trying to do the right thing. And then, of course, the President gave me the latitude to do the military portion of the mission. And I greatly appreciated that.

But the one memory that stands out the most, Pamela, is when the guys got back across the border after the mission and they were all safe and sound back in Afghanistan, because as a Commander, you want to make sure you get the mission done, but you want to make sure you get the mission done and bring the boys home safely.

BROWN: And you did. And as someone who fought for America's democracy for so many years, what was it like for you to watch the January 6 insurrection?

MCRAVEN: Well, you know, like a lot of people, I was watching it on TV, and it was incredibly disturbing. And it was a -- it was a sad, sad day for democracy. And it really unfortunately kind of showcased the worst of America. But I would also offer that it showcased the best of America when you look at the Capitol Police and what they tried to do to stop these insurrectionists.

The fact the matter is, we have to work for democracy every single day, from the local to the State, to the Federal level, we have to work. We have to do everything we can to preserve this democracy, and I was so proud of the Capitol Police as, as challenging as it was that day, there were some real heroes out of this horrific event.

BROWN: So many real heroes, and you know, one of the qualities in your book reflects what they were demonstrating that day, and that is duty. They fulfilled their duty.

You wrote this poignant story in the book about an airman fulfilling her duty under General Order Number one. You wrote -- you write, it says: "I will take charge of my post and all government property in my view." It means that you're responsible for your actions and the actions that affect the things around you.

That was reflected by the actions of those Capitol Police officers that day and others. Can you just expand on what you mean by the sense of duty and how we all, everyone even watching this right now have a duty in our lives?

MCRAVEN: Yes, you know, in that particular chapter, I talk about two duties. I talk about the duty of John McCain, who when captured and held by the North Vietnamese exercised his duty, his code of conduct to make sure that he didn't take preferential treatment. I mean, that was the highest form of duty.

And yet, I also talk about the importance of this airman on the airfield in Bodrum, when I had to make a rush visit to see President Obama, but because I wasn't on the list, she wouldn't let me through. And we had this kind of great standoff, and she held her ground. And after I finally got in and had a chance to meet with the President, I came back and I thanked her.

I thanked her for the incredible work she did, and she turned to me and she said, "Sir, I was just doing my duty." And you know, the importance of your duty, I mean, whether you are flipping hamburgers at McDonald's, whether you're guarding a gate, whether you're you know, a healthcare professional, doing your duty is important to you, it's important to the people around you.

And if we just do our duty, if we just do our jobs to the best of our ability, we can find heroes out there because it is an incredibly noble quality.

BROWN: It is so noble, it can have such a signal can impact and I have to say that was one of my favorite stories in the book.

Before we let you go, I just wanted to ask something about -- that's in the national conversation right now and that is obviously these mass shootings we've seen and gun violence and so forth.

[19:40:13]

BROWN: I want to ask you, because you have a unique perspective on guns, right? Being in the military, training with guns and so forth, you have said, you are a pro-Second Amendment conservative. What do you think America needs to do to stop the gun violence epidemic?

MCRAVEN: Yes, I think the first thing we have to do is to continue this conversation and move the conversation forward. You know, I am a gun owner, I've probably got more guns than any single man ought to have, but I am a responsible gun owner and there are millions of responsible gun owners out there.

But we have to be very, very careful about guns getting in the hands of people that are mentally imbalanced. People that have, you know, ideations to hurt people. And every single day, my heart breaks when I see these mass murders going on. And of course, I'm here in Austin, and we just had a shooting today.

So, we have got to stop talking and we have got to start taking action. And I hope both sides come together to figure out what can we do to continue to protect the rights of those people that believe in the Second Amendment, and yet to ensure that we do something about this terrible gun violence.

BROWN: Right. We've got to do something because one thing everyone agrees on is that, it is unacceptable.

Retired four-star Navy Admiral William McRaven. It is an honor to have you on the show. Thank you so much. And again, your book, "The Hero Code." Appreciate it.

MCRAVEN: Thanks, Pamela.

BROWN: Well, if you question climate change, watch this. See how dramatically places like Greenland have changed in less than 40 years.

Coming up, I'll talk to "Time" Magazine senior correspondent, Justin Worland about how the climate is going to change everything.

The new CNN original series 'The People v. The Klan" tells the true story of Beulah Mae Donald, a black mother, who took down the Ku Klux Klan after the brutal lynching of her son, Michael. Don't miss the powerful conclusion of these back-to-back episodes tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:46:34]

BROWN: Well, for the past year, the coronavirus pandemic has dominated global headlines. Next, it is climate change's turn. That's according to the cover story of this month's "Time" Magazine, "Climate Change is Everything."

It reports how the pandemic is a wake-up call to world leaders and a horrifying reminder of the perils of taking science for granted.

Joining me now is the author of that cover story, the magazine's climate correspondent, Justin Worland.

Justin, thanks for coming on. What makes you say that the pandemic is causing world leaders to wake up to the climate crisis?

JUSTIN WORLAND, SENIOR CORRESPONDENT, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Yes, well, thank you for having me on. I mean, I think a lot of it is just hearing, seeing the response in terms of the way the conversation has shifted, right?

So you think about the way in which science was neglected, say at the early stages of the pandemic, and then sort of a recognition that it needs to be taken more seriously, that came, you know, throughout the course of the pandemic, and that's something that maps pretty clearly on to climate change.

And then you just look at the way in which they're talking about it, and really sort of anchoring a lot of economic policy around it. So in the U.S., the Biden administration has a $2 trillion infrastructure package, which is supposed to stimulate job growth, and they are talking about the ways in which climate is embedded into all of it.

In the E.U., the E.U. is spending hundreds of billions of euros to invigorate their economy, and is taking climate change and sort of sprinkling it throughout that package as well.

And so when you think about just those two countries, and those hundreds of billions of dollars, that we're talking about trillions of dollars, really, and the way in which climate is embedded in it, it's really taking a bet, leaders taking a bet that climate change is going to be central.

And so you see that, all of that is happening as a result of the pandemic.

BROWN: You write in this article that, "When COVID-19 hit, the climate conversation took a backseat as hospital beds filled, but in the midst of the crisis, interest seemed only to grow as the pandemic reminded people of the risks of ignoring science and the world's interconnectedness."

But is that true? Help us understand that, because when COVID first emerged, a huge percent of our country refused to act even as they watched Italians filling mass graves and New York hospital beds overflowing. Face masks are still controversial to many and so is the vaccine. How convinced are you that people are actually waking up to these warnings from science?

WORLAND: Well, I think the problem is very similar to the COVID crisis problem, which is that there is a segment of society, which still does not accept the science around climate change, while there are others who are very concerned.

And so you can see that in some of the polling numbers for Democrats last fall, climate was a serious concern. It was one of their top concerns, and you know, for Republicans not as much. So there is this bifurcation that is very similar to the COVID crisis.

But among the people that are concerned, they are more concerned than they were before and that has trickled, you know, again, trickled up in some ways to policymakers, the people who actually are able to make policy decisions that shift society.

But they, at least in the U.S., at the moment, do recognize that challenge. BROWN: And part of shifting society is of course what corporations do.

You write that corporate bosses were struck by the pandemic, but there were some companies like Amazon that have benefited massively over the last year. Their business interest seem to diverge with the rest of the world's, on tackling the pandemic. Do you think climate change will be different?

[19:50:10]

WORLAND: Climate change is going to make -- it's going to completely ripple across the corporate sector in a way that we don't really know what the effects will be. But one thing I can say for certain is that many companies, including the companies that are -- some of the names like Amazon, et cetera, the big giant corporations are thinking about how climate change is going to affect their business.

They are thinking about what do their supply chains look like? Are they located in places -- or do they run through places that are likely to be affected by climate change?

They're looking at the possibilities that regulation that comes as a result of tackling climate change might affect their business. And so of course, you know, when a company says we're moving to go net zero and eliminate our emissions, of course, that's a positive green message. There is a PR element to it and they want to do something good.

But there's also the element of you know, they are preparing for the possibility that the government might mandate them to do that at some point.

And so how exactly climate change affects corporations is yet to be seen. But clearly, it's going to have a huge effect and there are going to be winners and losers, just like with the pandemic.

BROWN: All right, Justin Worland, thank you so much. Again, your article issued in this latest version of "Time" Magazine, and it's on the cover. Thanks so much.

WORLAND: Thanks for having me on.

BROWN: And still ahead on this Sunday night, I traveled to South Carolina to see the issue of vaccine hesitancy up front and what is being done about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: What was the experience like compared to how you built it up in your head?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thinking about it, you know, I'm thinking I'm sitting waiting in a long line and, you know, filling out document after document. I was literally in here for five minutes and I'm out of here.

And also, that was -- you know, it was quick, it was painless, and you know, I'm ready to go back to work now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: Plus stunning images from South Africa, an out of control forest fire is burning in Cape Town even spreading to a university there. We're going to have the details on that just ahead. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:57:08]

BROWN: Eight years ago this week, the world watched the deadly bombing at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Three people were killed, more than 260 were injured.

This week's CNN Hero is one of the survivors of the blasts. Heather Abbott's life was forever changed by the injuries that she suffered, yet she found a way to turn that tragedy into triumph.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HEATHER ABBOTT, SURVIVOR, BOSTON MARATHON BOMBING: I heard the first explosion just ahead in front of me. The next thing I knew, a second explosion occurred just to my right and that was the last thing I knew before I landed in the restaurant on the ground.

I was in the hospital for several days while doctors were deciding whether or not to amputate. It was hard to come to terms with the fact that I am an amputee at first and had my injury not happened in such a public way where there was so much assistance available, I never would have been able to afford multiple prostheses.

Some of our recent beneficiaries.

So I decided to just do what I could to help people get those devices that simply couldn't get them because they were out of reach.

It has been life changing for them, and a lot of them remind me of that.

He is a crazy man.

It feels very rewarding to be able to do that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: And to see Heather's full story and how she is helping amputees get custom prostheses, go to cnnheroes.com, and while you're there, nominate someone you think should be a CNN Hero.

Well, there is a massive effort underway to battle an out-of-control fire on a famous landmark, South Africa's Table Mountain began burning this morning and the flames quickly spread.

Hikers overlooking Cape Town were quickly evacuated from the park along with students at a nearby university. Now, more than 100 firefighters are battling that blaze. A statement from the park says a fire left unattended by a homeless person may have sparked the flames.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The downtown looks like the green zone in Baghdad, almost.

BENJAMIN CRUMP, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: The outcome that we pray for in Derek Chauvin is for him to be held criminally liable for killing George Floyd.

Killing unarmed black people is unacceptable. We have to send that message to the police.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can now report that there have been at least 50 mass shootings in the United States in the last month.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are fewer excuses for Americans who still don't have a definite date for getting their shot. Lock up options are being offered across the country.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: So it's almost paradoxical that on the one hand they want to be relieved of the restrictions, but on the other hand, they don't want to get vaccinated. It just almost doesn't make any sense.

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