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Police Refuse To Release Body Camera Footage Of Shooting Of Black Man In North Carolina; CDC Reauthorizes Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Distribution After Pause; President Biden Recognizes 1915 Massacre Of Armenians By Ottoman Empire, Modern Day Turkey, As Genocide; Major League Baseball Stadiums Opening Sections For Fully Vaccinated Fans To Sit Together; Coronavirus Cases Surging In India As Crematoriums Overwhelmed. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired April 24, 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]

OFFICER MELINA LIM, ATLANTA POLICE DEPARTMENT: It's taught me patience, it's taught me compassion. It's taught me everyone has story that they're going through, and it just takes one person to listen.

I will see you in a little bit. I am going to get you some food, OK.

"DOC" JAWEE BILAL FAHEEM, HOMELESS ATLANTA RESIDENT: Hey, you guys, let's have an awesome and amazing year and day.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Natasha Chen, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello, again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

We begin this hour with more questions swirling around the deadly police shooting of a black man in North Carolina. This morning, Elizabeth City officials revealing that they still don't have any details about what happened Wednesday morning to Andrew Brown Jr. Officials making a clear distinction that the shooting and the warrants involved, county sheriff's deputies and not the city's police force.

But the Pasquotank County Sheriff's Office remains tight-lipped about the pursuit and the shooting of Brown, nor has the county released any body camera footage. Calls for the release of those videos are growing louder. North Carolina's governor, in fact, tweeting his support for the video's to be shown to the public as quickly as possible.

On Friday, the city council held an emergency meeting requesting the videos be made public, and today city officials revealed that the request will be formally filed on Monday. CNN's Natasha Chen was at that press briefing involving the city mayor and city manager. So Natasha, the family of Andrew Brown is also expected to hold a press conference later on in the next hour. So what are you hearing from everyone? NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Fred that is actually

going to happen right here where we are, the Mount Lebanon AME Zion Church. And we are expected to hear from some of Andrew Brown Jr.'s family, their attorney, Reverend William Barber, as well as the head of the local NAACP.

And there has been a lot of understandable frustration, questions about why that body camera footage has not yet been released. We should mention in addition to the city council having that meeting yesterday to file that formal request for the release of the footage, that filing will happen formally on Monday, CNN is also part of a coalition of 14 news organizations who have also requested that footage, that official filing happening shortly on Monday. So everybody is waiting to see if that will happen.

Meanwhile, the public is really starting to ask for more transparency as well. And we have heard from a witness who actually lived near Andrew Brown Jr. and was on the scene when this happened Wednesday morning. We are first going to show you the 911 audio of a dispatcher describing what they saw, and then we'll show you what the witness describes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Central, advice EMS has got one male, 42 years of age, gunshot to the back.

DEMETRIA WILLIAMS, WITNESS: As they started shooting, the car started going across the grass, and it proceeded and hit the tree, came to rest at a tree, whereby then he was dead. And he was slumped over when the officers opened the car door. It was inhumane. And it was sickening to me, because Andrew Brown that everybody knew that we called Drew was not violent. He never toted a gun. So, to me, I think it was just like overkill. They murdered him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHEN: And so you can hear her and other family members telling the public that Andrew Brown Jr. was not armed, they believe. And to recap there, you heard the 911 audio of an emergency responder saying that the 42-year-old man had a gunshot wound to the back, and you heard the witness saying that she saw deputies firing at his car as he was seemingly leaving.

And so there are a lot of questions here. The city officials that we heard from this morning, they say that they know just as little as we do because they were not involved in the execution of the search warrant. Meanwhile, seven sheriff's deputies are on administrative leave, the ones who were on the scene, and then two other deputies have resigned, a third one has retired at this time, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Natasha Chen in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, thank you so much.

The CDC director is acknowledging the agency has some work to do around vaccine education after the Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause. Dr. Rochelle Walensky says outreach efforts are underway as officials work to explain the pause after determining that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the small risk of developing rare blood clots. Officials determining that resuming the use of the vaccine would save hundreds of lives and result in just a few dozen cases of the rare blood clots at most.

[14:05:02]

Joining me right now to discuss is Dr. Rob Davidson, an emergency room physician in west Michigan. Dr. Davidson, good to see you. So do you believe this pause helps or hurts the efforts to get shots in arms?

DR. ROB DAVIDSON, WEST MICHIGAN EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN: Listen, for me, I think it is all about the credibility of the federal agencies in charge of keeping us all safe. And so I think in that respect, I think it is critical that they took the pause. They examined the data, and they came out with very clear and concise recommendations.

And I think that is good for us across the board. And then it is just up to all of us, including the CDC, but those of us in our communities taking care of patients to convey this information to our individual patients.

WHITFIELD: Listen, Dr. Jerome Adams, the former U.S. surgeon general and White House Coronavirus Task Force member under President Trump actually tweeted out his sentiment about all of this, and he said "I would be lying if I said I wouldn't tell any U.S. woman who asked me, especially smokers and those on oral contraceptives, to ask for Moderna or Pfizer."

So where are you on this? Would you encourage female patients particularly to stay away from Johnson & Johnson, to lean toward Pfizer or Moderna, do you leave that up to the patient?

DAVIDSON: The official recommendation is to consult with your health care provider. So my wife is a family doctor, I'm an emergency doctor, and so we have patients who are going to ask us these questions. What we know is having COVID-19, there is about a 39 per million risk of getting these blood clots in the brain. So that's nearly 40 out a million women 18 to 49.

It's seven out of a million, and for everyone else it's about one out of a million. If there is an array of shots sitting in front of you and available and you are a woman in that age group or a higher risk of clots, yes, you should choose one of the others. But if this is what's available, we know, and I know what I am seeing in my hospital now with people coming still getting intubated, still being hospitalized, very sick people, we want to stop the spread of COVID- 19.

So I would advise them if that is what is avoidable, the benefits outweigh the risk. If you have multiple options, of course you would choose the one with the lower risk.

WHITFIELD: And then researchers at the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation says that coronavirus transmission is increasing in 34 rates, but no other state has suffered a spring surge like Michigan. So what do you think is happening here?

DAVIDSON: It has been rough. We've had a really rough last two weeks. I just worked last night, and we are still admitting patients with COVID-19 all across the age spectrum. Michigan is unique. We had significant number of the B-117 variant which people have borne from early on. It's highly transmissible, and it has shown to be the dominant strain, and it's driving a lot of this.

But I think behavior is a big part of it. People attempted to have a mask-less march in our state capital to day which largely went unfulfilled, but there are parents in the school district --

WHITFIELD: Thank goodness, right.

DAVIDSON: Yes. But parents in the local school district recently pounding on the door of the school board to eliminate a mask requirement in schools in the midst of one of the biggest surges that we have seen around here throughout the pandemic. So it is a lot of behavior that needs to change, and we need to get more people with vaccines in arms.

WHITFIELD: A lot of people feel very confused about the kinds of messages they are getting from leadership across the country. Republican Senator Ron Johnson is actually downplaying the urgency of vaccinating all Americans against coronavirus.

He says he is skeptical of what he calls the big push to get shots in the arms because the vaccines have only been authorized for emergency use. This as the experts warn that vaccine supply will likely outstrip demand in the next few week. So how concerning is it to hear that latest message coming from the federal leadership?

DAVIDSON: Governor Abbott of Texas a couple of weeks ago said, listen, I don't understand the herd immunity, but what I think is -- and he doesn't. And Senator Johnson doesn't what emergency use means. It means we are in the midst of a pandemic that has killed over half a million Americans. It means in places like Michigan, we are seeing numbers like we have never seen before.

And so that means we have to get as many people vaccinated. We need community immunity, not just individuals being immunized, or else we are never going to steer our way out of this. So I really wish that Senator Johnson would focus on his reelection if that is his choice, and stay out of public health and just stop making it harder for us.

WHITFIELD: It must be frustrating for doctors like you?

DAVIDSON: It is. I tweeted something out about Senator Johnson's comments that was maybe less than gracious, but it's how I felt in the moment. I wish he would just keep his mouth shut and let the public health stay in the sphere of the people who understand public health.

WHITFIELD: Dr. Rob Davidson, thank you so much, we appreciate your view. Appreciate it. DAVIDSON: Thanks, Fred. Thanks.

WHITFIELD: Stay well.

New today, a swift reaction from Turkey after President Biden becomes the first U.S. president to call the massacre of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire a genocide. Live to Istanbul straight ahead.

[14:10:00]

And President Joe Biden gives his first address to a joint session of Congress. Join Jake Tapper, Abby Phillip, Dana Bash for CNN's special live coverage starting Wednesday night, 8:00 p.m.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: Today President Biden declaring the massacre of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire a genocide. Although it happened more than 100 years ago in middle of World War I, getting a formal acknowledgment from the U.S. has always remained a key priority for Armenians. Joe Johns is traveling with the president and joining us now from Wilmington, Delaware. So Joe, why today and why this president?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, there are a bunch of reasons for that, and I definitely will get to that, but the most important thing is it is done. Now the president has issued that expected statement referring to the atrocities committed against Armenians in Turkey 100 years ago as genocide, getting to the issue of genocide at the beginning of the statement.

[14:15:03]

He also says this, "Over the decades Armenian immigrants have enriched the United States in countless ways, but they have never forgotten the tragic history that brought so many of their ancestors to our shores. We honor their story, we see their pain, we affirm the history, we do this not to cast blame, but to ensure that what happened is never repeated."

This is a step that a bunch of American presidents have not taken, number one because Turkey is such a strategic ally, also because Turkey has always denied that genocide as defined by international law ever occurred.

So Fred, as you ask at the top, why now, why did Joe Biden go there when so many other presidents have not? Multiple reasons, as I said, probably number one, this was a campaign promise for Joe Biden, but also, he has been trying to reestablish the United States as a leader on the issue of human rights around the world.

And then there is the personal relationship. The president did get on the phone with Turkish President Erdogan on Friday to tell him that this was going to happen. This was described to CNN's Kevin Liptak as more or less a tense call. I also have to say Joe Biden has been a critic of President Erdogan for some time. He has referred to him as an autocrat and even suggested, Fred, that

the United States should back an opponent politically of Erdogan in Turkey. Back to you.

WHITFIELD: Joe Johns in Wilmington, thank you so much.

So Turkey had a response ready for President Biden's announcement, almost immediately rejecting it and calling it political opportunism. For decades past U.S. presidents have worried about just that kind of diplomatic tension. CNN's Arwa Damon joins us now from Istanbul. So Arwa, as we heard from Joe there that it was a tense phone call between the two leaders. What do you know about this?

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, not entirely surprising at all given what they had to talk about. And what was especially interesting, Fred, was that in the readouts from both countries, from the White House and from the Turkish presidency, neither of them mentioned this particular issue.

Now, Turkey did come out with a fairly harsh statement quickly. This came out of the foreign ministry where they were calling it a vulgar distortion of history and basically saying that they are not going to be taking lessons from their own history, their own history from anyone. But this has been quite a topic of debate, very contentious for quite some time now.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

DAMON: For decades, Armenians have lobbied and pleaded to have the mass killings of their ancestors recognized a genocide. The exact number of Armenians who lost their lives more than a century ago is in dispute, but experts put the numbers between 600,000 and 1.5 million.

The campaign against Armenians in Ottoman lands included forced migrations, massacres, and starvation. For many Armenians, recognizing the brutality endured by their ancestors is a crucial step in righting a historic wrong.

But modern day Turkey that rose from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire has long maintained the killings were not systematic, were smaller in number, and do not meet the legal definition of genocide. In fact, the word "genocide" and the legal framework around it only entered the mainstream after World War II.

The word was coined by a Polish lawyer to describe the Nazi's systematic attempt to eradicate Jews in Europe, what we now call the holocaust. Turkey has softened its position over the years, with Turkey leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2014 issuing a first ever statement, calling the events of 1915 a shared pain, and offering condolences to the descendants of the killed.

Turkey still argues the events need to be put in historical context, that hundreds of thousands of people from other groups also lost their lives in rampant killings, some of which were carried out by Armenians. The historical debate has long been overshadowed by politics in recognition of the Armenian genocide. For year, Turkey's allies in the west had sidestepped the label of

genocide in order to keep Ankara in the fold. As Turkey's ties with the west became rockier than ever, a slew of genocide recognition bills have been passed in European capitals. Turkey's rivals like Russia and Syria also jumped in to recognize the genocide label. One of the remaining holdouts has been the United States.

[14:20:00]

But with U.S.-Turkish relations strains to new lows over the last two years, momentum has been building in Washington to recognize the events as a genocide. During his term, President Obama shied away from using the term "genocide," choosing to call it "Metz Yeghern," an Armenian term meaning "the great calamity." In 2019, both the Senate and House passed a resolution to recognize the Armenian genocide, but President Trump refused to call the events a genocide.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

DAMON: And now President Biden has done it. The Armenian leadership recognizing this as being a historic moment, and many among the Armenian community believe that this is the righting of a grave wrong. The question right now, though, is what is this potentially going to do to those already fractured U.S.-Turkey relations.

WHITFIELD: Indeed. We will see what that next chapter is. Arwa Damon in Istanbul, Turkey, thank you so much.

As the investigation into the Capitol insurrection continues to unfold, a curious development. A suspect is identified by one of his matches on the dating app Bumble. We'll explain.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:25:42]

WHITFIELD: Nearly 400 people have now been charged with federal crimes in connection with the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol, and one of the latest suspects was arrested after the FBI got a tip from a surprise source. One of his matches on the dating app Bumble turned him into authorities. Let's go to CNN's Marshall Cohen in Washington for more on this. So Marshall, what more do we know about this rather unusual case?

MARSHALL COHEN, CNN REPORTER: Hey, Fred, yes, it's kind of a funny one. This man from New York, his name is Robert Chapman. According to federal prosecutors, he was on the dating app Bumble, got some matches, and at one point just decided that the way to move the conversation along was the brag about what he did on January 6th, said that he was inside of the Capitol. He claimed that he had been in Statuary Hall, spoke to reporters on the scene, making it seem maybe like a cool thing that the did there.

But the other person was not having it. They took screenshots of the chat, sent it immediately to the FBI. The FBI looked. You can see the screenshot right here. The FBI compared his Bumble pic to surveillance footage from inside of the Capitol. They also compared it to bodycam footage from some of the officers there that day.

They thought that it was a match, and eventually they came knocking in his home in Yonkers, New York. He was arrested and released from jail. He's not charged with any violent crime, so most of the people not charged with violent offenses have been released.

But Fred, it really just goes to show you, a big part of this insurrection, a big story here has been people incriminated themselves online. You've seen time and time again people posting to Parler, TikTok, Twitter, Snapchat about what they did in the Capitol, and over and over it keeps getting them in trouble, and now you can add Bumble to the list, too.

WHITFIELD: Oh, my gosh, that is stunning that the bragging took place after the fact, and then trying to get the date, whereas I thought you were going to report to us and say it is the other way around, and somebody was very astute and matched the pictures. Wow. OK, Marshall Cohen, thank you so much for that.

COHEN: Thanks, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Still ahead, baseball with sections for fully vaccinated fans only. The new reality at some MLB stadiums.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:32:14]

WHITFIELD: All right, this is just in to CNN. The CDC says more than 225 million coronavirus doses have been administered here in the U.S., more than 93 million Americans are now fully vaccinated, making up just over 28 percent of the population. The news comes as sports teams in Los Angeles prepare to unveil seating sections reserved for people who have been fully vaccinated to attend games this weekend.

CNN's Paul Vercammen joining me now from Los Angeles. So Paul, what are you hearing from the fans?

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, they are out of their mind excited. Look behind me, L.A. Coliseum. So the L.A. Football Club is actually giving vaccinations, these are for future fans, along with the USC pharmacy and the county.

And then you come right over here, and both the Dodgers and the L.A. Football Club are opening up these fans who are vaccinated sections today. And I can tell you that when you talk to the fans, you are going to get a sense of their excitement just now. They are thrilled. One of the rules, you have to keep your mask on except when you are eating.

If you're between two and 15 years old you have to show that you had a recent negative COVID test. But otherwise, these fans will once again be side by side. John and Eddie are part of a cheering section here at the LAFC that is notoriously loud and rowdy, that stands the whole game. And Jonathan, what is going through your mind right now? JONATHAN RIEMER, FULL VACCINATED LOS ANGELES FOOTBALL CLUB FAN: I

think we are just excited to get back in the stadium, back to putting in work. This is such an integral part of all of our lives, such an important piece of what makes us whole. And the fact that we have been separated from this experience for so long, it means so much to us to just get back in there and be able to celebrate this team, this community, this culture.

VERCAMMEN: And Eddie, what do you make of a vaccinated only section?

EDDIE MAGANA, FULL VACCINATED LOS ANGELES FOOTBALL CLUB FAN: I think it's great. I think it shows that we're taking the proper procedures to get back to normal. and a lot of fans are working hard to make sure that thE 3252 is where it should be here in the stadium, so I am happy about it.

VERCAMMEN: Great. For those of you outside Los Angeles, the 3252 is this group of supporters that stands and sings and makes noise. So what happens when you start to bang your drums and get together, about 200 of you today?

REIMER: Well, it is going to be loud, and it is going to be non-stop for 90 minutes plus. We both represent the District 90 Ultras, one of the supporters' groups in the 3252 umbrella, and it is our job to make sure that every fan that enters this stadium and every person who watches this broadcast gets to hear nothing but singing and support for this team for 90 straight minutes. Rain or shine, we are going to be out there screaming.

VERCAMMEN: And let me ask you this, how did you get this vaccinated- only section ticket?

MAGANA: You know what, you have to go through the proper procedure. You have to submit your I.D. You have to submit forms, and you have to make sure that you can prove that you're fully vaccinated to the 3252, and then the club approves of it and makes sure through the city.

[14:35:04]

VERCAMMEN: Great, I thank both of you for taking time out. Enjoy your game. It will start later on, 6:00 eastern time.

All of this, by the way, was worked out in detail with the County of Los Angeles. Yes, it is a grand experiment, and the Dodgers are going to follow the same protocols. They expect about 500 fans later tonight, and the Dodgers, of course, are an important barometer, because they have traditionally led the Major Leagues in attendance over the last few years.

So a lot of excitement throughout L.A. And don't forget, why we are here and why are we doing this? Well, an extremely low positivity rate, Fred, it's just over one percent.

WHITFIELD: Wow. Paul Vercammen, thank you so much, and thanks to your guests there, and especially the one who has the very creative mask, that's always fun to see. Thank you. All right, India's health care system is reaching a breaking point as

that country tackles a second devastating coronavirus wave. India's government said today requests for more oxygen along with 500 additional care center beds have been granted, but wood and space for cremating bodies are scarce with officials warning cremations might have to take place in the streets. With cases surging to record highs for a third day in a row, India braces for likely more heartbreak to come.

Here is CNN's Anna Coren.

ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: India's COVID catastrophe continues to worsen as a hospital in the New Delhi, the capital, ran out of oxygen, claiming the lives of 22 critically ill patients. It comes as India records more than 346,000 daily infections, and more than 2,600 deaths another global record as the second wave turns into a tsunami.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

COREN: The rituals of death light up the sky across India. A second wave of the coronavirus which began mid-March is spreading through the country, leaving grief-stricken families desperate for ways to perform the last rites for their loved ones. The country's crematoriums are pushed beyond capacity. Some facilities using their parking lots and piles of wooden planks to meet the demand.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): There are so many bodies coming, we are running out of wood. If it continues like this, then in four to five days we will have to cremate the bodies on the road.

COREN: One man forced to keep the body of his mother at home for nearly two days before coming here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Nobody helped in time. We were running here or there for a ventilator. She died after the oxygen ran out.

COREN: Volunteer groups are working morning to night to receive the bodies of those who died from the virus whose families are unable or unwilling to take them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): When the body comes to us, we inquire about the person's religion, and if the person is a Hindu, we perform the funeral as per the Hindu customs. But if the person is a Muslim, we do the funeral accordingly.

COREN: Grave diggers in this cemetery in New Delhi say too are struggling to bury the dead with 15 to 20 bodies arriving daily over the past few weeks. They say it's overwhelming and can't be sustained for long.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Now the condition of our graveyard is that if the death toll keeps rising, then in the next two, three days, we will have to close it down. There will be no space left here. COREN: For many of these victims, the virus taking not only their

lives, but also the dignity they deserved in death.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

COREN (on camera): Approximately half the cases in New Delhi are the result of this more contagious variant detected late last year, afflicting younger people. The government says that if you're over the age of 18, you can now register for the vaccine. The problem is it is in drastically short supply. Health experts say that of the 3 million jabs being administered every single day, that will have to rise to 10 million a day to flatten the curve.

WHITFIELD: Anna Coren, thank you so much. Very disturbing and sad.

As a recall looks more likely for the governor of California, there is a new candidate eyeing the job. Caitlyn Jenner is tossing her hat into the ring, saying California is worth fighting for.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:43:48]

WHITFIELD: All right, from gold medal to the top of the golden state, the race to become California's next governor is heating up, with someone who knows a thing or two about races. Former Olympian and reality T.V. star Caitlyn Jenner announcing on Friday that she will enter the expected recall election to replace Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom. Jenner is a longtime Republican and no stranger to the spotlight. In a tweet she wrote "I'm in. California is worth fighting for."

Here with me now, CNN senior political analyst and senior editor for "The Atlantic" Ron Brownstein. Good to see you.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Hey, Fred.

WHITFIELD: So where does this recall stand?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, people really need to understand the recall process. It is highly likely that there will be enough signatures gathered to put a recall on the election later this year. But the recall itself is a two-step process. First people have to vote whether they want to recall the Governor Gavin Newsom or not, and then they will vote on who they want to replace him if they do vote to recall him.

And the problem that everyone angling for the job has right now is that in the most recent polling, 56 percent of the state say they do not want to recall Newsom. So if the recall itself fails, no matter who else is on the ballot, that is the end of it.

[14:45:07]

And it's a very different situation from 2003, when, as you recall, Gray Davis, the governor, actually was recalled, and then Arnold Schwarzenegger was picked to replace him. Gavin Newsom today has a much better chance of defeating this in the first place. And so if that is the case, we will never get to the question of who should replace him.

WHITFIELD: So a lot of things have to happen first. Jenner feels pretty confident, is a Republican, but at the same time a very different conservative. She has spelled that out, while she likes some conservative policies, she also separated herself from the Trump administration when at first being a big fan of the president. How difficult is it going to be for her to sell herself, if indeed there is a recall?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, I think that the right now, the share of the state that supports idea of recalling Newsom is essentially the same share that voted for the Republican in the last election, only about 40 percent. The big decision facing Democrats is do you put an alternative on that list of candidates that will include Caitlyn Jenner in case the recall somehow does pass, because right now, there is no Democrat running.

There are only Republicans running. So in that sense, Caitlyn Jenner would be competing with other Republicans on that secondary ballot, again, if it ever gets that far.

And I think it is going to be a lot of pulling and tugging among Democrats about whether there needs to be an alternative failsafe on the ballot, or whether, as the Newsom folks argue, that would divide the Democratic electorate to begin with and make it more likely that we get to that question.

The big wild card here, right now you'd have the say it is unlikely that the recall is going to pass, but as our colleague Maeve Reston has written, I think the big wild card is if the schools don't open in the fall, that could be something that could endanger Newsom.

But right now, California has the second lowest positivity rate on coronavirus in the country. He is probably in an even stronger position than he was when that that poll was taken in early April, and at that point, 56 percent opposed recall.

WHITFIELD: I want to turn to another important issue. You wrote an op- ed for CNN.com this week about the far right talking point of replacement theory. Essentially, it's the idea that immigrants will replace the so-called real Americans and their culture, whatever that means. So you argue that the supporters of this idea have it all backwards. What do you mean?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, look, replacement theory is like many ideas that were germinating solely in far right, white nationalist, white racist forms and are migrating toward the GOP mainstream in the Trump era, and it basically argues, as you say, that Democrats want immigrants to replace native-born Americans in society, and that is a danger.

The real danger, actually, is that immigrants won't replace native- born Americans in the tax base and in the workforce, because what we know from the Census Bureau projections is that with or without immigrants, the number of seniors in our society is going to grow dramatically in the next 15 to 20 years as the baby boomers retire. In fact, we're going to have 40 percent more seniors in 2035 than we do today. That means there's going to be a lot more people who need Social Security and Medicare.

The problem is that without immigration, the Census Bureau projects we're going to have little or even negative growth in the working age population, the number of people in the workforce who are there to pay the taxes that fund Social Security and Medicare for those older folks. So if you have a lot more seniors and no more workers, there is just pressure for either enormous tax increases or cuts in benefits.

Fred, one of the great ironies of 21st century America is that the older white population that is the most drawn to these Trump-like arguments against immigration will be relying on an increasingly non- white workforce to fund their retirement. That is the reality of interdependence that we face, but our politics is pushing very much against that reality.

WHITFIELD: All right, Ron Brownstein, good to see you. Thank you so much.

BROWNSTEIN: Thanks, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, if there is ever a neon sign that life is starting to get back to normal following the pandemic, it's Las Vegas, which will soon be operating at 100 percent. We will talk about that next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:54:25]

WHITFIELD: All right, the Oscars red carpet is back, sort of. Tomorrow night the 93rd Academy Awards ceremony. The ceremony will mostly be in person after COVID concerns caused the delay, which also meant the eligibility window expanded to movies released in 2020 and in the early months of this year.

Five of the eight movies nominated for best picture primarily played on a streaming service. And depending on how the night goes, it could give Hollywood some much-needed feedback, or closure perhaps, on how to shape its role in a post-pandemic society.

[14:55:03]

After more than a year of devastating COVID restrictions, the Las Vegas Strip is set to fully reopen at 100 percent capacity by June 1st. But, as CNN's Lucy Kafanov explains, the Vegas economy still has a way to go to get back to the high-rolling days before the pandemic.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In Sin City, entertainment and excitement are back. Last March the coronavirus pandemic turned one of the busiest places on earth into a ghost town. Las Vegas casinos were ordered to shut their doors, costing thousands of jobs and billions in lost revenue. But a year after the iconic strip went dark, the glittering lights and sounds are once again dazzling visitors. Many tourists feeling safer and rolling the dice. Blackjack tables packed, slot machines paying out.

GEORGE MARKANTONIS, PRESIDENT AND CEO, THE VENETIAN LAW VEGAS: People want to do business face to face.

KAFANOV: The president of the Venetian Las Vegas says daily bookings are exceeding pre COVID levels. After a year on the rocks, the economic tide seems to be turning.

Tourists are come back on the weekends but what's the missing piece?

MARKANTONIS: The missing piece are the business travelers for the conventions and the Expo center.

KAFANOV: Conventions bring in big bucks and weekday bookings, contributing more than $11 billion in 2019 alone.

Wow. It is huge.

STEVE HILL, PRESIDENT AND CEO, LAS VEGAS CONVENTION AND VISITORS AUTHORITY: Well, it's 30 acres under roof.

KAFANOV: The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority gave us a tour of its newly expanded convention center, which will host America's first large-scale post-pandemic event in June. CEO Steve Hill says dozens more are on the books.

So conventions are critical for Vegas to come back?

HILL: They really are. And without that we can make it, but we can't thrive.

KAFANOV: The new player in town, Virgin, took a gamble opening a property last month during the pandemic. It's the Vegas you know with a safer twist.

This is just one of the many COVID-19 safety measures casinos are putting into place, betting big on a Las Vegas comeback.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're completely betting big on a Las Vegas recovery, and frankly, I don't think it's that big of a bet. I think it's a sure thing.

KAFANOV: The Vegas jobless rate shot up to 34 percent last April, one of the worst in the nation, dropping down to roughly nine percent in February. But not everyone is cashing in. Thousands of workers who kept the casino resorts operating are still out of work.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good boy. Come here.

KAFANOV: Matthew Seevers spent 15 years bartending at Station Casino but was let go last March.

MATTHEW SEEVERS, BARTENDER WHO LOST HIS JOB DURING PANDEMIC: Never would I have thought a year from now we would be still here waiting to get our jobs back.

KAFANOV: Others tired of waiting are picking up a new trade. The CEG Dealers School which trains aspiring casino dealers promises jobs to almost anyone who wants to work.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Vegas is making its comeback. The energy here at the school, you can tell right now, a lot of optimism, a lot of positivity.

KAFANOV: A promising reminder that in Las Vegas the chips are never down for good.

The busier sidewalks are a welcome sight after a brutal economic year, but some worries remain, that another surge in COVID-19 cases or a new variant could put the brakes on Sin City's comeback.

Lucy Kafanov, CNN, Las Vegas.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

WHITFIELD: Thanks, Lucy. Forgive me, I've got a cough drop in my mouth, so hopefully it doesn't go flying.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau received his first shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine on Friday. Just over 1 million people are now fully vaccinated in Canada as world leaders rush to get shots in arms. New COVID cases are rising in Canada, but one local business owner says there's still a lot to celebrate. The owner of a local pharmacy in Toronto going viral after setting off mini-confetti cannons to mark administering 1,000 doses.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's 1,000 shots!

(CHEERS)

(MUSIC)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: That's some fun there. The pharmacy owner says they'll do a small celebration every time they finish a 10-dose vial of the vaccine. He says they vaccinate between 40 and 90 people every day and have not wasted a single dose. Very fun.

And finally, this is fun too. Tiger Woods says he's making progress on his rehab, his physical rehab. It has been two months since that severe car crash in California. But isn't it so nice to see him smiling in this photo posted on Instagram? He's on the green, leaning on crutches instead of clubs, and with his faithful four-legged rehab partner, Bugs.

He's at his Jupiter Island practice facility, by the way, in Florida. Tiger posting this, "My course is coming along faster than I am, but it's nice to have a faithful rehab partner, man's best friend." Wishing him the best recovery.

I'm Fredricka Whitfield. Thank you so much for being with me today. The NEWSROOM continues right now with Jim Acosta.