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Ohio Police Shooting Investigation; Interview With National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci; President Biden Touts 200 Million Vaccine Does Given. Aired 2- 2:30p ET

Aired April 21, 2021 - 14:00   ET

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


[14:00:00]

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But it's in process. We don't have enough to be confident to give it -- send it abroad now. But I expect we are going to be able to do that.

Thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: Are you going to watch the big SpaceX/NASA launch on Friday?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: All right, President Joe Biden there speaking about speaking about reaching that 200 million dose threshold.

Hello. Thank you for being with us. I'm Victor Blackwell, joined by Alisyn Camerota. And we have been listening to the president now announcing that achievement, 200 million coronavirus vaccine shots given in the United States.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Dr. Anthony Fauci is going to join us shortly.

But, first, Phil Mattingly has been watching the president's press conference there. He joins us now from the White House.

What did you hear, Phil?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, obviously, the headline number of the 200 million, it's the ambitious goal the president laid out, double what he laid out during his inauguration.

They have met that or they will meet that when the results come in from today's vaccinations, about eight days before the 100-day mark, which was the deadline that they'd set.

But I think what you heard from the president there, which I think is actually far more important than the 200 million number, is the idea that there the U.S. is entering a new phase, a new phase in the vaccination program.

And it underscores what I'm hearing a lot from administration officials, that the supply issue, the issue that the administration has been trying to confront and combat really for the entirety of their first 90-some odd days in office, is no longer the key problem they're facing.

There is enough supply coursing through the system right now for people to get shots, obviously. Every single state in America has opened up eligibility for Americans 16 and over. There's 28 million doses, on average, going out per week from the federal side of things at this point in time.

The bigger issue they have is people's willingness to actually get vaccinated. And that was the big point of what you were hearing the president talk about, as the U.S. moves, in his words, into this new phase.

Yes, vaccine hesitancy is an issue. It's one the White House has been trying and working to combat over the last several weeks. We have heard all about it in their efforts to deploy vaccine into rural areas or underserved communities that may not have access to it.

That is a key component of this. But something you're hearing more and more from administration officials is that it's also younger Americans, younger Americans who maybe don't feel like the risk factors are enough for them to go out and get the vaccine immediately.

And that's why you heard the president talk about the paid leave incentives that they have in place. For companies with fewer than 500 employees, there is a tax credit to essentially give any employee of that company paid leave not just to get vaccinated, but also to recover from that vaccine. That's already on the books.

It was put in place actually several COVID relief laws ago. It was extended in the American Rescue Plan. That's in place. You also have the administration working constantly, I'm told, with bigger and medium-sized businesses to try and get them to incentivize their employees, whether it's paid time off, or whether it's gift cards, whether it's something within the company to try and urge or prod their employees to go get vaccinated.

And, obviously, it has the bigger picture purpose of getting as many people vaccinated as possible. But, guys, there's also the idea in terms of the pitch the administration is making to these companies, that for the companies to get back to normal, for their business operations to get back to where they were pre-COVID, it is requisite upon them to try and get their employees vaccinated.

So I think this all underscores right now -- the president, obviously, using the words new phase, next phase. That's where we're entering right now as a country. And there are millions, hundreds of millions of people that have at least gotten their first dose. The supply is no longer the issue. The issue now is people's willingness to go get vaccinated, guys.

BLACKWELL: Yes, Dr. Fauci is with us up next.

Thank you so much, Phil.

Dr. Fauci is Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and chief medical adviser to the president.

Dr. Fauci, thanks for being with us.

I want to start with the concept that we just heard from Phil, now shifting from demand outpacing supply, instead of now there are more vaccines available than there are people who are willing or ready to take them.

How do you combat that? We learned from the Kaiser Family Foundation that we're at a tipping point in two to four weeks.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: Well, certainly we need to get as many people vaccinated as we possibly can, as quickly as we possibly can to get that veil and blanket of protection over the country -- over the community and over the country.

I mean, obviously, there is an element of vaccine hesitancy or concern that we need to address. And the American people are smart. They can figure things out. We give them the data to show that, in fact, these vaccines are extraordinarily efficacious and effective in the real world of the community. And they're really quite safe.

So, the question is, when you're talking particularly what Mattingly was talking about, about young people, you appeal to them for a couple of ways. You say, first of all, it is quite true that, if you're a young, healthy person, the chances of your getting into serious trouble with this infection is really quite low. There's no doubt about that.

But it certainly is not zero. It's a situation where what will happen is that you could get seriously. You see individuals like that all the time.

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But there's something else that's going on that's really important. And that is, if you get infected, and you do not get symptoms, but you do get virus in your nasopharynx, you could be walking around saying, well, what's the difference? The chances are that I'm not going to get symptoms.

But what you could do, inadvertently and innocently, is pass this infection to someone else, who could pass it on to someone else...

BLACKWELL: Yes.

FAUCI: ... who could then get into serious trouble from this infection. So, since we're in the middle of a really historic pandemic, we have

got to realize that we're all in this together, so that, if you get infected, and you pass the virus on to someone else, you could be causing harm to someone else.

So it's a combination of protecting yourself, your own personal protection...

(CROSSTALK)

BLACKWELL: And...

(CROSSTALK)

FAUCI: ... but also somewhat a societal responsibility of an individual to make sure they don't help spread this outbreak.

BLACKWELL: So, let me ask you about allocation.

If we are getting to a point now where we're at the tipping point some time next month, where the availability will -- the supply will outstrip demand, is now the time to allocate based on transmission rate, instead of population, as governors -- I'm thinking of Governor Whitmer in Michigan, as they're seeing the surge -- are asking to try to mitigate the spread?

FAUCI: We discuss those kinds of things all the time.

I mean, we make decisions as a group. It's not rigidity that drives it. It's the scientific data, the public health data. So, I would say everything would be on the table for consideration.

But, right now, the policy, since we're not at the point that you mentioned -- we may get there, but we're not there now -- that what we try to do is to help the states by bringing people in there on the ground to help them with the identification, isolation, contact tracing, testing, making sure we can get the vaccine that is there expeditiously into the arms of people.

If the situation reverses, like you have mentioned the possibility that it might, well, then we will take a look at that, because we are flexible in having everything on the table.

BLACKWELL: So, on Friday, the advisers to the CDC, there will be the meeting about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is still -- the distribution and the delivery is paused because of those few cases of blood clots, one death.

You expect, I have read, that there will be a decision after that meeting to move forward with how to distribute the vaccine. How do you build confidence again for people who, after the pause, are even shyer than potentially they were before it was put on a pause?

FAUCI: Well, the feelings of people are totally understandable, how they might feel that way. What you do is, you present them with the facts. And when they hear

the facts, they will make up their own mind. And the facts are as follows. This still is an exceedingly rare complication. You're talking about original six. There may be a few more that they found.

But the original reason for the pause was six people out of about seven million. That's less than one per million, which means the chances of you getting hit with lightning are greater than that happening. That's the first thing. So, it's a very, very rare occurrence.

But when I look at it, I look at it from the other side of the coin. The fact that the CDC and the FDA paused for something so rare should give you confidence that we take safety very, very seriously. And the fact seven million out of the over 133 million people who have been -- received at least one shot -- so, 120-plus million have received vaccinations.

And that same surveillance system that was so sensitive in picking up those six women are also looking at all the others, and there was no red flags at all of any concern. So, if you really want to step back and look at the data, what it tells you is that these vaccines are really very, very safe.

BLACKWELL: Speaking of safety, I want to stay with J&J.

The FDA inspected a plant that manufactures the J&J vaccine. The company that owns the plant stopped down on production after concerns last month. And the FDA report that we're reading today, the inspection found that they concluded that there is no assurance that other batches have not been subject to cross-contamination.

The concern there, will that potentially push back any approval to move forward with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine?

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FAUCI: I don't think that's going to be a factor in whether or not the CDC and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and ultimately the FDA will make a decision.

Obviously, doses will not go out until the FDA feels very confident that they are A-OK. But the decision of what to do with this vaccine as a vaccine product is not going to be influenced by that. It's going to be influenced by the data and safety, not in what's going on there.

But you can be assured and the American public can be assured that no vaccines are going to go out of there unless the FDA is quite confident in them.

BLACKWELL: On masks, the guidance, potentially, you have had some pretty heated exchanges with members of Congress on the question of, if you're vaccinated, when can we stop wearing the masks in public, in grocery stores, in movie theaters?

What's the potential or the plausibility for transmission-rate-based guidance, that states that have lower rates, you can now lift those mask mandates, but states like Michigan, like Pennsylvania, where we're seeing surges, you have to keep those in place?

The last time the CDC or an administration gave those out, this was at the start of the pandemic. States didn't follow them. Could that happen now?

FAUCI: Yes, so I'm -- you're making a really good point.

And that's one of the reasons why we live in a very large, great country that is very heterogeneous, and you're quite right. There are different sections of the country that have different dynamics of infection.

I believe, if we can get -- and not just me, but all the public health figures, the CDC and others, who have many, many, many, many fine epidemiologists, feel very strongly that, if we get the level of infection down to below a certain level -- and we will know that.

I mean, you will see the infection rates start to drop. When you're in an area that has that degree, where the risk of infection is so low, obviously, you're going to see pulling back on many of the restrictive public health measures that we all want to go away. Every one of us have COVID-19 fatigue, and we want to get back to normal.

But we want to make sure that we don't pull back prematurely. And if a particular region is really, really very low and doing really, really well, certainly, I think there's going to be a differential in being able to say one can do certain things or not. That's always under consideration.

We think about and talk about these things every single day, because we all want to get to the same goal, get the level of infection really very, very low, get as many people vaccinated as we possibly can, as quickly as we can, and let's start getting back to normal.

BLACKWELL: Now, considering the disparities between the transmission rates in -- across the country, when can we expect some clarity, some guidance for those states that are doing exceedingly well with mitigating the spread of the virus?

FAUCI: Well, that will be according to the CDC recommendation.

They have epidemiologists thinking about that, looking at the data in real time essentially every day. And I can't give you a particular day when they will come out and say, now we can do this. But we already have the recommendation that they made about masks. People who were vaccinated can congregate in a home with family who are also vaccinated, as well as those who are not vaccinated.

You don't have to wear a mask. You can have physical contact. The CDC then came out and said, even though we don't recommend that you fly unless you necessarily have to, however, if you do, the risk is considerably lower if you are vaccinated.

And I fully expect that, as the time goes by, hopefully sooner, rather than later, the CDC will continue to come out with recommendations that would then pull back a bit on some of the restrictions, provided the level of infection starts going down, because I don't anticipate the CDC is going to be making recommendations to loosen things up when we're having an average of 60,000 infections per day, which is where we are right now.

BLACKWELL: Yes.

Finally, Dr. Fauci, new CDC ensemble forecast projects as many as 30,000 additional COVID deaths over the next four weeks. Why is that number so high, where the president just announced 200 million doses in the first fewer than 100 days in office, and still so many deaths per day?

FAUCI: Well, the deaths, as you know, are going down.

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We're still getting hospitalizations that are at a level that is troublesome. There is always a lag. I think people need to understand, if you look at three separate components, people getting infected, people in hospitals, and people dying, there is a lag between the infection. A few weeks, the hospitalizations will reflect an increase or a decrease in infections. And then a few weeks after that, the deaths will reflect the hospitalizations a few weeks later.

So, you're going to still see deaths based on things that happened some time ago. Every single day, when we get three to four million people vaccinated, we get closer and closer to what inevitably will be a diminution in hospitalizations and a diminution in deaths, no doubt about that.

Every single day, we get closer and closer to that, when we vaccinate about three million people a day.

BLACKWELL: All right, still so much work to do.

Chief medical adviser to the White House Dr. Anthony Fauci, thank you so much for your time, sir.

FAUCI: Good to be with you. Thank you for having me.

CAMEROTA: OK, Victor, we have some breaking news right now on the shooting death of that teenage girl in Columbus, Ohio.

The interim police chief is speaking at this moment on the investigation and also sharing some new bodycam video. We are reviewing it.

But, first, we want to get to Athena Jones, who is live for us in Columbus.

What is the police chief saying?

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Alisyn. Well, we're beginning to learn a little bit more information. The police chief, the interim police chief, Michael Woods, releasing two 911 calls, as well as three body-worn cameras, the footage from three body-worn cameras of the officers who arrived on the scene.

We know that police responded to a call yesterday at 4:32 p.m. It was a call from someone indicating females were there trying to stab them and put their hands on them. That is one of the 911 calls we just heard from what sounds like a very young girl. We don't yet know who it was who made that call.

We assume this is something that will be addressed at this press conference that is going on right now, as you mentioned.

But I want to show you the slow-motion video that was released yesterday. This was the first video to be released. It's from the officer who was the first to arrive on the scene. That is the officer who shot Ma'Khia Bryant.

And you can see in this disturbing video -- I should mention the -- it's police policy to blur the faces of minors in an incident like this. But the video shows Bryant quickly moved toward a girl with what appears to be a knife in her hand. That girl falls to the ground.

You can hear the officer yell, "Hey, hey, hey, get down." Then we see Bryant appear to lunge at a second girl, you can see, against the car there. Her arm is raised with a knife in her right hand. The officer then saying, "Get down, get down, get down," and then firing four shots in the direction of the teenager.

And then, as you can see her there on the ground slumped against the car, at one point, you can see what looks to be a steak knife on the ground near her. We also see one of the officers attending to her, trying to perform lifesaving measures.

Now, police have again not said who made the 911 call. They have not released the name of the officer who shot Ma'Khia Bryant. But we know from a press conference last night with Mayor Andrew Ginther, he said: "We know based on this footage, the officer took action to protect another young girl in our community."

And we know from the interim police chief that defense of self and defense of another, these are two just -- reasons for a justifiable shooting. And, as of right now, that is what authorities think happened here.

Now, it's important to mention that, here in Ohio, these investigations are handled independently. This is going to be carried out by the Bureau of Criminal Investigation. That is part of the Ohio attorney general's office.

So, this is completely separate from the police department. They have an investigation going on right now. But one thing we have seen the mayor and the police chief stress, both last night and tonight, is the need for transparency, to make sure the public has all the information they're able to provide as quickly as possible. And I should note, again, yesterday, last evening, video was being

posted on social media just in the aftermath of the shooting, hours before we heard from the authorities, hours before they released that first initial body camera footage.

And so we also saw a crowd gather at the scene beginning to protest. And so it was very important for authorities at this time of heightened scrutiny of police action, especially in black and brown communities, to put the information out as soon as they could.

As of right now, they believe that this was a shooting, the officer trying to prevent this young woman, this young girl from injuring another, but we will see what comes out of this investigation and also what comes out ultimately of this press conference that's going on right now -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Look, I mean, I know these are very early hours, but from that bodycam video, it just looks like it's chaotic, and it does look like the officer had to make a split-second decision, as officers so often do.

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JONES: Yes.

CAMEROTA: So, it is very disturbing to watch, just like the George Floyd video is very disturbing to watch, but it's also so different. I mean, it's not that -- you don't get the nine minutes and 29 seconds.

This is in a millisecond, he has to decide what to do. And so what's the status of that officer while the investigation goes on?

JONES: Right. That officer has been taken off the streets while the investigation goes on. That is policy, as the Bureau of Criminal Investigation carries this out.

We know that, after that investigation, then there'll be an investigation that goes to the Franklin County grand jury, and also the Columbus Police Department will carry out its own internal review, looking at the actions of all of the officers on the scene.

But, as you mentioned, in that -- in the normal speed video, it's very hard to tell what's going on. Only by slowing it down can you see what was happening there. And it was a very quick decision. But, as you mentioned, this is -- not all cases are like the George Floyd case and not all shootings by police are unjustified.

And, certainly, authorities here think that this one, as of right now, they believe, was justified -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Athena Jones, thank you. Thank you very much.

BLACKWELL: Coming up: relief and a renewed push for police reform. Reaction continues to come in after the conviction of Derek Chauvin in the murder of George Floyd.

We will find out how the Floyd family is reacting to the DOJ investigation of Minneapolis police next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAMEROTA: We do have some breaking news right now.

This is the press conference out of Columbus, Ohio, where the police chief -- I believe this is the mayor, though, who is now joining the press conference, talking about the investigation into the police killing of this teenage girl.

Let's listen.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

ANDREW GINTHER (D), MAYOR OF COLUMBUS, OHIO: We don't yet have all of the facts.

But we do know that a 16-year-old girl, a child of this community, tragically died last night. We released the officer's body-worn camera footage as soon as possible. We will release all other information that we can as soon as we can.

We also need to be careful about not compromising the investigation being conducted by BCI. We believe that transparency with the public is the utmost priority during this difficult time.

Bottom line, did Ma'Khia Bryant need to die yesterday? How did we get here? This is a failure on part of our community. Some are guilty, but all of us are responsible.

BCI will determine if the officer involved was wrong. And if he was, we will hold him accountable, as we have other officers who have committed wrongdoing, criminally or in violation of the policies and procedures the Division of Police.

Transparency, accountability absolutely critical to our community during this time of crisis. We have a bigger societal question. How do we, as a city and a community, come together to ensure that our kids never feel the need to resort to violence as a means of solving disputes, or in order to protect themselves?

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We remain committed to ensuring accountability in all violent interactions between police and our neighbors. The BCI investigation is the first step in unraveling what led to the tragic death of yet another child in our community.

This is what we have done thus far. We released officer-involved body- worn camera footage within hours of the incident. We updated stakeholders throughout the evening of the incident. We are releasing remaining body-worn camera footage from witness officers here this afternoon.

We will release cruiser cam video either later today or early tomorrow morning. We continue to meet with faith leaders, community leaders, and the media to share everything we can without compromising the investigation, because we know how critical, timely, full transparent information is to the public right down.

Invite Safety Director Pettus to come forward and share a few words.

NED PETTUS, COLUMBUS, OHIO, PUBLIC SAFETY DIRECTOR: Thank you, Mayor.

I understand the outrage and emotion around this incident. A teenage girl is dead. And she's dead at the hands of a police officer. Under any circumstances, that is a horrendous tragedy.

But the video shows that there is more to this. It requires us to pause, take a close look at the sequence of events and, though it's not easy, wait for the facts, as determined by an independent investigation.

We have to ask ourselves, what information did the officer have? What did he see? How much time did he have to assess the situation? And what would have happened if he had taken no action at all? We don't yet have those answers.

But these are some of the questions that are asked and addressed in disciplinary hearings that come before me. As Chief Woods has indicated, a fully independent investigation is being conducted by BCI. The results will be public.

So, I plead with the community, let us not rush to judgment. As I said last night, fast facts should not come at the cost of complete and accurate facts.

The loved ones of Ma'Khia Bryant have my most sincere sympathies. And we as a community should wrap them in love. And we should allow the process to play out.

Thank you.

MICHAEL WOODS, INTERIM COLUMBUS, OHIO, POLICE CHIEF: Again, I am limited in the information not only that I can share, but in the information that I have.

As I stated earlier, the Division of Police, our responsibility is to provide information, not to conduct this investigation. So, I will try and answer some questions that you have.

QUESTION: Chief Woods, who is on that first 911 call? Is that Ma'Khia Bryant's voice?

WOODS: We do not know that. Again, that will be BCI interviewing all the witnesses to determine who made those phone calls.

The Division of Police did not interview any witness or anyone that day. And we will not interview them.

QUESTION: Did anyone on the scene say it was Ma'Khia?

(CROSSTALK) WOODS: I do not have any of that information.

QUESTION: Chief Woods, who are the other people in that video, for example, the woman on the ground or the woman in pink? How old were they and what were their relationships...

(CROSSTALK)

WOODS: Again, those are witnesses, so they were referred to BCI.

So, BCI would have that information. But, again, that's part their investigation. We don't come in. We did separate the witness. You saw that, with the officer placing individuals in the backseats of cruisers.

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