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Michigan's Third Wave Overwhelming Hospitals; Europe Aims To Speed Up Vaccinations; Indianapolis Shooting; U.S. Gun Violence Epidemic; Alexei Navalny Dying In Prison; Czech Republic Expelling Russian Embassy Employees; Duke Of Edinburgh Laid To Rest At Windsor Castle; Discarded Masks Piling Up As Litter. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired April 18, 2021 - 04:00   ET




KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): With vaccines becoming more available, why are COVID cases surging in the U.S. and around the world.?

Plus remembering the victims of a mass shooting in Indianapolis, Indiana.

And Alexei Navalny is said to be dying in a Russian prison.

Welcome to all of you watching here in the United States, Canada and around the world. This is CNN NEWSROOM.


BRUNHUBER: We begin with a warning for every single person around the world. Despite more and more people getting vaccinated, the number of people with coronavirus is rising. The World Health Organization says the pandemic is at a critical point.

Just yesterday the global death toll from COVID reached 3 million. Since then, another 11,000 people have died from the virus. Three million people, that's about the entire population of Chicago.

Each of those three million people have a face, name and family that could not be there with them as they passed. While we have seen many milestones come and go, this number unimaginable.

In Michigan, the third wave is so severe that hospitals are running out of space to treat new patients. They're leading the U.S. in new cases with 10,000 cases reported this weekend. Polo Sandoval has more.


POLO SANDOVAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Several health care facilities here in the state of Michigan reports that their hospitalization numbers continue to climb, not only reach the levels we saw during the most recent surge, during fall and winter, but exceeding those numbers. That is the case right now at Beaumont Health, one of the more

recognized and largest health care systems, here in the Detroit area. Officials tell me, they continue to see hospitalizations there climb.

Dr. Joel Fishbain with that hospital system telling me that he is specifically continuing to notice those patients are getting younger. Many of those, admitted to him they attended large gatherings, which go against those recommendations in place, not just in Michigan but across the country.

But Dr. Fishbain also saying, about half of the patients he is seeing right now are affected with that highly contagious B.1.1.7 variant, first discovered in the U.K. earlier this year.

DR. JOEL FISHBAIN, BEAUMONT HOSPITAL, GROSSE POINT: We are seeing many more people sick and families and exposures.

And the problem and concern that I have, is until everyone is vaccinated, could there be other variants that now escape the immune system?

SANDOVAL: Recently Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer expanded the current mask requirements to children as young as 2 but there continues to be this growing call by many here in Michigan that some of the other recommendations in place, including a recommendation to avoid indoor dining, should instead be a requirement at least for now as the state of Michigan tries to drop some of these numbers.

Michigan's health authority calling the situation dire -- Polo Sandoval, CNN, Detroit.


BRUNHUBER: We are joined now by Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, an epidemiologist and a former health director.

Thanks so much for joining us.

Why Michigan and why now?

DR. ABDUL EL-SAYED, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: We're seeing a set of dynamics that hit Michigan hard first. The U.K. variant, B.1.1.7, has been in the state for awhile. And we know it spreads faster than garden variety coronavirus. That's part of it.

The other part has been policy, aggressive reopening on the part of public officials. We have dine in eating at 50 percent. We have active indoor sports. We have more gym and casino reopenings.


EL-SAYED: And we have optimism that has eclipsed the number of vaccines. We have about 25 percent fully vaccinated and we need to get to 75 percent for herd immunity. So between reopening, between the optimism about where we are with vaccinations and B.1.1.7, we have a perfect storm. BRUNHUBER: We have seen other states with that transmissible U.K.

variant. So you were talking about the vaccines there. The governor was pleading for more vaccines.

Is that the answer?

The largest increases have been in the younger age groups that are the last to get the vaccine.

Is there no correlation there?

EL-SAYED: First, it is great news that the vaccines are working. They are protective and that is great news on that front. Imagine how much worse it could be.

But we have to understand the dynamics of these vaccinations. We know it takes about 10 days between when someone is vaccinated and when their body produces the antibodies that protect them and render that immunity.

We also know it is three to five days between when someone is exposed and when someone is infectious. We know, even if we were to vaccinate everyone now, it would take three weeks.

We need to reduce the spread of this virus among folks and do what needs to be done here as we wait for more vaccinations. In the end, vaccinations will be the key. But they're not that great at responding to viruses.

And the governor has taken some steps to mitigate this, through the shutdowns that were so unpopular and that led to the now infamous storming of the Capitol.

Do you think that political crisis there has discouraged a stronger response and lead to the COVID crisis that we're seeing now?

EL-SAYED: There is no doubt that there is a clear link between politics and public health. And it really accounts for the fact that COVID-19 took 560,000 lives overall. What made the governor a national hero in the spring and in the fall is how quick she was to lock down even in the face of that political pressure.

We have hospitalizations at a peak and we need that same heroism now.

BRUNHUBER: Thank you, I appreciate your time.

EL-SAYED: Thank you for having me.

BRUNHUBER: At least a third of the 3 million worldwide COVID deaths are in greater Europe, where they're racing to get people vaccinated.

Melissa, where you are, it maybe best exemplifies the challenge that Europe is up against when it comes to vaccine rollouts and fighting this latest wave.

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it is a reminder of how this first British variant has been For much of Europe. There had been restrictions at the end of the second wave. And France offering some resistance at a third partial lockdown.

It has been a couple weeks since the whole country has been under partial lockdown. But we're starting to see this week, the very beginning of the fruits of that since seeing a very slight tapering off.

And that is very welcome after so many weeks of steady rises that are taking us to levels that we had not seen in a year into. That was extremely worrying. It looks like they're looking forward to May 15th for an easing of restrictions for terraces and museums that may open again for the first time in months. There is progress on the vaccination front.


BELL: But what we have seen in France is a steady rollout now. To be clear, it will have to get faster than that if you're going to reach the target of 27 percent being vaccinated by July.

BRUNHUBER: Yes, you touched on reopening there and it can't come soon enough.

BELL: An industry worth hundreds of billions of euros each year that's been at a standstill. There was a small reprieve last summer but that collapsed under the weight of the second wave. Now we're seeing Greece, Portugal, Austria, who are arguing we need a vaccine digital passport for people to travel around more freely.

But this is clearly one of the big fights for so many of these countries. Because you have to remember, here in Europe, much of that tourism is between European countries and it happened across borders that were erased.

What we saw in the months after the first wave was ad hoc putting in place restrictions, borders popping up where they had not been before. That, for these countries, is the absolute priority, trying to figure out how to get Europeans, people, moving across borders as quick as they can.

BRUNHUBER: Melissa Bell, thank you so much.

India is fighting a devastating spike in COVID cases. It is the fourth day in a row that cases have gone over the 200,000 mark. Officials say Delhi is facing a huge shortage of hospital beds.

Even though India is home to the biggest vaccine producer, they're running out of coronavirus vaccines. They're now prioritizing their own citizens instead of supplying vaccines to the global initiative, COVAX.

Indianapolis honors victims of the mass shooting just two days ago. We will show you scenes from a vigil and tell you how family members are coping.

Plus, Alexei Navalny's aides are calling for a huge rally in Russia and they say his life is on the line. Stay with us.





BRUNHUBER: Indianapolis, Indiana, is a city in mourning. People came together to remember the eight lives lost. They held a vigil in a park near where the killings took place just two days ago. One victim was a retired engineer, anticipating his 50th wedding anniversary; young women barely out of high school, and immigrants seeking the American dream.

The police chief offered the city's support to grieving families.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Indianapolis is strong. We're a great community. And we take care of our own and that's what we will continue to do as we wrap our arms around these families.


BRUNHUBER: These are the victims' names, Amarjeet Kaur Johal, Karli Smith, Matthew Alexander, Samaria Blackwell, Jaswinder Kaur, Jaswinder Singh, Amarjit Sekhon and John Weisert.

CNN national correspondent Jason Carroll spoke with some of the victims' loved ones.


JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The city held a candlelight vigil for the victims of the FedEx shooting, some of those coming out wearing orange T-shirts, FedEx T-shirts. And there were members of the Sikh community.

Four of the eight victims were from the Sikh community and, in fact, two of the victims, their family members, of Jaswinder Kaur and Amarjit Sekhon, they found the courage to speak to us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was a very, very hardworking woman. She devoted her life to her children, to her family. She was a family oriented woman. She had no issues with anyone. She was the nicest person ever.

This is something that never should have happened to her or to my other aunt, Jaswinder. We are deeply saddened by this. Jaswinder, Auntie, she was an amazing person, she always had a smile on her face. The only reason why she joined working was because she was just bored at home. She just needed something to do. CARROLL: There were eight victims; two of the victims, just 19 years

old. The oldest victim, 74-year-old John Weisert. He was about to celebrate his 50th wedding anniversary -- Jason Carroll, CNN, Indianapolis, Indiana.


BRUNHUBER: Nineteen-year-old Karli Smith was one of the youngest victims. She graduated high school just last year. She was an avid athlete.

The Indianapolis public school district said, "Administrators, teachers and classmates remember Karli for her sense of humor that often generated smiles and laughter. She will be dearly missed by all that knew and loved her."

Authorities say the Indianapolis gunman legally purchased guns he used for the attack.


BRUNHUBER: Witnesses told police he used two assault rifles he bought in July and September of last year. CNN reached out to federal officials for more information on their probe into the weapons.

Now the suspect's family gave a statement. They said, "We are devastated at the loss of life, caused as a result of Brandon's actions. Through the love of his family, we tried to get him the help he needed. Our sincerest and most heartfelt apologies go out to the victims of this senseless tragedy.

"We are so sorry for the pain and hurt being felt by their families and the entire Indianapolis community."

Four of the victims were from the Sikh community. The Sikh Coalition says the gunman deliberately targeted the community. A letter to the Biden administration said, "It was no accident that the shooter targeted this particular FedEx facility where he had worked.

"We implore the administration to ensure this is not dismissed by the media or law enforcement and acknowledge that it was a deliberate act intended to inflict the most harm against diverse Americans."

Mass shootings aren't just a problem in North America. CNN correspondents take a look around the world.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: I'm Nic Robertson in London, where gun controls are some of the strictest in the world. Handguns and automatic weapons are effectively banned. Shotguns and rifles can be held under very tight license.

Deaths from gunfire are relatively low. The year ending March 2019, 33 people were killed, that was three more than the previous year. But mass shootings are exceptionally rare; 1987, 17 people killed; 1996, 18 people killed; 2010, 13 people killed, exceptionally rare.



BLAKE ESSIG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Blake Essig in Tokyo. Here in Japan, gun violence is almost non-existent. Since 2000, gun deaths, each year, have generally been in the double digits. With the homicides involving gun deaths, often in the single digits of this from a country with a population about a third the size of the U.S.

Under Japan's 1958 firearm and swords law, most guns are illegal in the country. And under the law, possession is only allowed if special approval is obtained. And before that can happen, you must pass a background check, explain to police why you need a gun, receive formal instruction and pass the collection of written mental and drug tests.

Of all rare when it comes to mass killings in Japan, those often responsible resort to knives or arson instead of guns.



ANGUS WATSON, CNN PRODUCER: I'm Angus Watson in Sydney, Australia, where it's 25 years since the country's worst ever mass shooting forced the Australian government to ban rapid fire rifles and shotguns.

Gun ownership licenses and registrations were also tightened. It took just 12 days for the federal government to act after 35 people were killed and many more injured at Port Arthur, Tasmania, by a man with a military style semi-automatic weapon.

A federally funded gun buyback scheme and surrenders under amnesty saw over a million firearms destroyed the chances of dying by gunshot wound in Australia fell by 50 percent in the years after the ban and gun related suicides dropped by 80 percent.


BRUNHUBER: Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, is under curfew right now following the seventh night of protests over the shooting of Daunte Wright. The area is also getting ready for a verdict in a high profile case involving a death at the hands of police. Josh Campbell reports.


JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: The Minneapolis area continuing to deal with the aftermath of two controversies involving police use of force. Obviously the death of George Floyd and the ongoing trial of former officer Derek Chauvin, who is charged with his murder, as well as the death of 20-year-old Daunte Wright, just 10 miles from where we are standing, up in Brooklyn Center.

I want to share what the city is doing at this point to all of its police precincts. They've erected this fencing as well as razor wire. Obviously we've seen clashes at demonstrations outside some police buildings. That is obviously an issue. Authorities also leaving nothing to chance ahead of the verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin.

Setting up these security parameters you can see. There are also members of the National Guard as well as obviously the police department here.

I want to show you not just what the government is doing but also local businesses. You can see plywood that has been set up here. We can see this in and around town. Again, the community is certainly on edge.

And as far as what we're expecting on Monday, we will hear closing arguments in the trial of former officer Derek Chauvin. And then we expect the jury will go into deliberation. We don't know how long it will take. The judge in this case telling them to pack a suitcase.


CAMPBELL: In his words, "plan for long and hope for short."

We will be waiting for those developments as the city watches and waits for what will transpire as it's been watched around the world -- Josh Campbell, CNN, Minneapolis.


BRUNHUBER: Minnesota's governor expresses regret on Saturday for the mistreatment of journalists at the hands of police. Officers arrested 100 demonstrators during protests. Some journalists covering the demonstrations were detained and photographed by police before being released.

Lawyers issued a letter with examples of journalists, including a CNN producer being harassed, assaulted or arrested while doing their job. Minnesota governor Tim Walz says he is embarrassed and held a phone conference with law enforcement officials. He says he has directed law enforcement to make changes.

Coming up, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is near death.

Plus Joe Biden is reversing course on the immigration cap. What lead to that challenge how it will increase. We will explain, that's just ahead, stay with us.




BRUNHUBER: Thanks to all of you watching here in the United States, Canada and around the world.

The press secretary for Alexei Navalny says that his health is declining so much that he is now dying.


BRUNHUBER: Navalny has been on a hunger strike and is calling for a rally, saying it's not just for his freedom but for his life. Speaking to reporters on Saturday, President Biden said, what is happening to him is totally unfair and inappropriate.

Sam Kiley is live in Moscow with more.

A spokesperson is putting out some dire sounding warnings there. It may be hard to know what his condition truly is.

But what do we know and what has been Russia's response?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So far we don't have any independent medical evidence for the condition of Alexei Navalny. This is a man recovering from poisoning with a nerve agent back in August last year, so he had not fully recovered from his treatment he got externally in Germany before he returned he had to face trial and then jail on long-standing embezzlement charges.

Eleven deputies from different regional governments from the Russian Federation said they want to see Navalny get independent assessment and treatment and saying that his well-being is the responsibility of Vladimir Putin.

And at the same time there is an opposition camp trying to get half a million signatures. And once they hit that figure -- it is about 450,000 -- they say they want mass rallies here, which they hope will be a galvanizing energy in terms of their longer term campaign, which is to fight for legislative elections.

But they're also facing potentially being designated as an extremist organization They have also been so designated in that it crippled in their ability to campaign and the media's ability to report on them.

And it is the health of Navalny that is the focus at a time when Russia is also involved in a lot of tensions more broadly in Europe and within terms of the relations with the United States.

BRUNHUBER: Yes, we have been speaking about that for the last couple days. And now pivoting to another big story involving Russia, the Czech Republic is expelling 18 Russian diplomats over an incident from seven years ago. Take us through this.

KILEY: Yes, 18 diplomats are being expelled on the basis that, as far as they're concerned, they are parts of the military intelligence organization allegedly conducted by Russia. And they're believed to be behind cyber attacks internationally. Now 18 is a lot of people to name for agents.

This comes a few days after Poland expelled three diplomats. The United States expelled 10 in response to what United States says was an interference in the 2020 election and a massive cyber attack around the world that focused on the United States. So all of these diplomatic exchanges, of course, Russians responded in

kind with the designation of eight members or former members of the administrations in the United States as people that can't travel to Russia or the threat of expulsion.

You've got rising physical moves, troops on the border, the greatest number since the Russian destabilizing effort there is in 2014 and the illegal annexation of Crimea and the moves in the Black Sea. So raising tensions both in the cyber and diplomatic realms and on the land and at sea.

BRUNHUBER: Yes, it's those little stories to keep tabs on.


BRUNHUBER: Appreciate it, Sam.

President Biden is increasing the country's refugee cap after he said he wouldn't. On Friday he said he would keep it at a low level and that sparked fierce criticism from progressives and advocacy groups. Arlette Saenz has more.


ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President Biden acknowledged Saturday he would increase the number of refugees allowed into the United States after some back and forth on that number on Friday.

But the White House said Friday that the president would keep a current cap on refugees, which is at 15,000, a record low number set during the Trump administration. This was -- ran counter to what President Biden promised in the campaign and earlier when he said he would be lifting that number to over 62,000.

And this announcement from the White House faced fierce and swift backlash. Within a matter of hours, the White House reversed course and announced that the president would be announcing a new figure for refugees allowed into the U.S. by May 15th.

They told refugee advocacy groups that number could come much sooner. But the White House said they don't believe they will reach that 62,500 number that the president had originally proposed.

It highlights some of the problems that the administration has been having with immigration, dealing with the refugee system and unaccompanied minors and the migrants coming to the southern border.

These are two separate systems. But the president suggested they were interconnected, saying people working on refugee resettlement here were also focusing on those migrants at the southern border -- Arlette Saenz, CNN, the White House.


BRUNHUBER: The U.S. and China agreed to collaborate on tackling climate change. They agreed to work together to strengthen the Paris agreement after two days of talks. commitment involves strategies aimed at carbon neutrality.

They said the U.S. and China are committed tackling the climate crisis that must be addressed with the seriousness and urgency that it demands."

It was a final farewell fit for a prince. A look back at the funeral for Prince Philip.





BRUNHUBER: Bells rang out in the Canadian capital of Ottawa as the nation paid respects to Prince Philip. He served the crown and the commonwealth for more than seven decades. He was laid to rest in an understated but elegant funeral.

CNN's Anna Stewart takes us through the emotional day of heartbreak and some reconciliation as well.

ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. I think elegant is a perfect word to describe the funeral. It felt very elegant and simple. It was a perfect way to celebrate Prince Philip, his life and all he cared about.


STEWART (voice-over): An old-school prince going out in his own style.


STEWART (voice-over): The duke of Edinburgh was heavily involved in the planning of his funeral, which began with a short procession from Windsor Castle to St. George's Chapel.


STEWART (voice-over): It was steeped in military tradition. His sword and naval cap laid on top of his casket, which was carried by a modified Land Rover he helped design.

A decorated veteran of World War II, more than 700 military personnel took part in the ceremony.

The duke's much-loved carriage and pony stood by. His cap and gloves left poignantly on the seat.


STEWART (voice-over): The prince was a family man. His children, grandchildren and members of his personal staff walked behind dressed in mourning suits instead of military uniforms. (MUSIC PLAYING)

STEWART (voice-over): Brothers Prince Harry and Prince William walked with their cousin, Peter Phillips, between them.


STEWART (voice-over): The lines of mourners and military guards a somber contrast to the queen's arrival, stepping out alone and taking a seat by herself in the chapel --


STEWART (voice-over): -- waiting for the partner who stood by her for more than seven decades.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are here today in St. George's Chapel to commit into the hands of God the soul of his servant, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

STEWART (voice-over): The ceremony was pared down to just 30 people due to coronavirus restrictions. It included members of the royal family and the duke's German relatives.


STEWART (voice-over): The choir sang a selection of music, hand-picked by Prince Philip.


STEWART (voice-over): His casket was then lowered into the royal vault where it will stay until Her Majesty dies, when they'll be reunited.


STEWART (voice-over): A bugle sounded the last post and then a naval battle cry --


STEWART (voice-over): -- action stations.


STEWART (voice-over): This was the funeral Prince Philip wanted.

Although, one part he didn't orchestrate was perhaps one of the most moving, Prince William and Prince Harry, walking together and chatting after the service, a sign of unity that would have made their grandfather proud.


STEWART: Yesterday you asked me whether or not this might be an opportunity for Prince Harry and Prince William to heal their rift. I think it was. It was heartwarming to see the royal family after the service, looking like any other family, really, united by grief.

BRUNHUBER: I have a simple question for you but I imagine the answer won't so simple.

What now?

STEWART: That is not simple at all, is it?


STEWART: Well, the queen just lost her husband of 73 years. Over the years, we have already seen something of a transition and the queen taking on less of certain types of engagements. I think we will continue to see that through the pandemic, more being taken on by Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge.

I think we will see this and I think the queen will want to spend more time here at Windsor Castle and just spending holidays in Balmoral and Sandringham. So I don't expect to see her as much at Buckingham Palace.

I think the family will be standing around her, comforting her in the coming weeks.

BRUNHUBER: Anna Stewart, thank you so much.

Before go to break, we want to show you the picture of Prince Philip tweeted out by the family after the funeral. And it is a tip of the hat by the Duke of Edinburgh and a final farewell from those who will miss him the most.

You're watching CNN. We'll be right back.





BRUNHUBER: The first super typhoon of the season is breaking records in the Philippines, equivalent to a category 5 hurricane. An alert has been issued.


BRUNHUBER: More than a year into the pandemic and a new report shows the sudden mass production of PPE is already causing a waste problem around the world. Some are finding creative solutions to save the planet.


BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the early days of COVID, the dire shortage of PPE left many front line health care workers painfully vulnerable. Now so many masks are made each year they can cover an area the size of Switzerland.

ILYSSA GORDON, CLEVELAND CLINIC: Now everybody is aware of PPE and more people are being asked to use PPE.

JON UTECH, CLEVELAND CLINIC: We have almost 70 million people potentially wearing a mask every day. The number we needed went from two operating theaters to 70,000 per day.

WEIR (voice-over): That is one hospital, already a staggering amount of waste coming from our health care system.

PEYINA CHU, HEALTH CARE PLASTICS RECYCLING COUNCIL: We estimate it is around a million tons per year in the U.S., probably about the same amount in Europe and Asia. Unfortunately, today, I would say the majority of it is still going to landfills.

WEIR (voice-over): If we're lucky. The Ocean Conservancy collected more than 100,000 pieces of PPE in the second half of 2020 alone.

BRETT STEVENS, TERRACYCLE: Manufacturers went into overdrive to produce billions of pieces of PPE. Personal protective equipment has always been around but due to COVID is it is now a monster waste stream.

WEIR (voice-over): Private recycling companies like Terracycle are taking aim at the discarded consumer PPE but contaminated materials like those coming from hospitals are not a simple process.

STEVENS: Waste coming from certain areas like hospitals qualifies as hazardous waste in many cases.


STEVENS: Which means legally we can't touch it.

Recyclers are afraid to take materials from hospitals. There could be a syringe in there. Recycling is third on the hierarchy. First is to reduce the use of plastic, second is to reuse and third is to recycle.

WEIR (voice-over): It's forced the Cleveland Clinic to rethink and look for other ways to reduce their plastic footprint.

UTECH: We found a local company that started making the sanitizer for us. And we have a combination of plastic containers and we're refilling these things constantly.

GORDON: We had a collection early of PPE that we could resterilize. And nobody ever imagined that that was even a possibility.

UTECH: We found seamstresses in the city of Cleveland and we sourced a really good cloth material and produced cloth masks.

WEIR (voice-over): As masks help fill our landfills, all the faster, the flow of plastics into the oceans is expected to triple by 2040. More than two-thirds of U.N. member states are open to a Paris-style agreement that might stem the pollution now found in every link in the food chain.

The U.S., so far, has been notably silent -- Bill Weir, CNN, New York.


BRUNHUBER: We'll be back in just a moment, please stay with us.