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European Union To Let Vaccinated U.S. Tourists Visit This Summer; Asian-American Man Assaulted In Suspected Hate Crime; Police Departments Face Renewed Federal Scrutiny; Kremlin Says Putin And Biden Eye Bilateral Meeting In June; At Least 82 Killed As Fire Overwhelms Baghdad Hospital; Glenn Close's Work To Fight Stigma Of Mental Illness. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired April 25, 2021 - 19:00   ET



PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: And his Russian counterpart. Also, the "Passion of the Christ" star now pushing crazy QAnon conspiracies.

I'm Pamela Brown in Washington. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM on this Sunday night.

And we begin with new developments as the world tries to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic. Tonight, the head of the European Commission tells "The New York Times" fully vaccinated Americans will be allowed to visit the European Union over the summer.

Now nonessential travel for most countries has been banned for the past year to slow the spread of the virus.

Joining me now CNN Business editor-at-large Richard Quest and Dr. Megan Ranney, an emergency physician at Brown University.

Richard, let's start with you. This is pretty big news that millions of Americans have been waiting to hear. They can take their summer vacation to Europe if they're fully vaccinated. People want to know where, they want to know when, and will their vaccination cards be enough proof to let them get on a plane? What do you know?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Those are all very good questions. No timeline has been set for this. But I would imagine we're talking middle to late summer rather than in the early days because there are still some technicalities to be worked out.

And while the E.U. president commissioner said, Ursula von der Leyen, what she said is that since the United States is using vaccines, all of which have already been approved by the European Medicines Agency, then there's no reason that Americans shouldn't be treated like any other European within the E.U. and have unconditional access to the union.

So, with that sort of philosophical basis, now you're really just looking at how to make it happen. And I'll give you an example. Europe is putting together what it's calling the digital green pass that will allow you to travel. Your vaccination card basically digitally held. The U.S. and the CDC is still using a little white card. How do you get that recognized particularly against forgery and the like, and fraud at the E.U. borders?

But these are modalities. These are just logistics. The important point tonight, Pam, that the principle has been established or it's being established that Americans will be able to travel to Europe starting this summer.

One note, one note, of course this doesn't include the United Kingdom. That is outside the E.U. now. However, I expect and would be shocked if the U.K. did not have a similar deal in place by then.

BROWN: That is an important note to make. So, then, Dr. Ranney, what does this mean practically, right? Because if you're going to fly to the E.U. from the United States, that's at least, what, a six, seven, eight-hour flight. We're awaiting guidance from the CDC, more guidance for traveling, if you've been fully vaccinated. But if you are a fully vaccinated American, is the time right to consider traveling to places like Europe?

They are obviously not at the same place as the U.S. in vaccinations, and slowing the virus, is it still risky? What do you think?

DR. MEGAN RANNEY, EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN, BROWN UNIVERSITY: So, I think that's a great point outside of the U.K. Malta, and Hungary, most of the European Union is far behind the United States in terms of its rate of vaccinations. However, the statement by the E.U. aligns with the statements by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention here in the United States which are that the vaccines protect you.

So if you've been waiting to get a vaccine, this is more proof that getting a vaccine is worthwhile because it protects you even in travel. As a fully vaccinated person, I have family in Europe. Iceland has already made similar rules. To me this is more proof that I actually would get on a plane and travel to Europe.

I feel that level of confidence in the vaccines, although I will of course stay masked on the airplane and still follow the CDC recommendations to make sure that I have a negative test three days before I return to the United States, and to keep an eye on myself after coming back, have another test three to five days after returning, and of course, god forbid, if I were ever to develop symptoms, would then get tested again and to self-isolate or quarantine until I had a result.

BROWN: OK. So let's take safety out of the equation, rather, for just a minute.

Richard, if I was to take a vacation to Europe this summer, are the major tourist destinations ready for tourism? Could I go to museums like cathedrals and sites in Paris and Rome and Amsterdam? Are they even open right? Or will they be over the summer?

QUEST: I thought your question was going to be where should you go?


BROWN: Well, I would love those tips, too.

QUEST: Yes, I've spent the last seven months for "QUEST'S WORLD OF WONDER," traveling still. And I can tell you it's not fun. And until the situation gets better, it's not for the faint hearted. But you will -- there's a new Web site that's being brought out by IATA, which is the International Agency for Aviation, and the UNWTO which will show you what's open and what's not, where the museums, where the shops, the sort of general trend if you just go to the IATA or the UNWTO Web site, you can see that.


But here's the point, Pamela. You're talking -- we're talking now at the end of April where this is just starting to get going. The doctor talked about Iceland and Greece is also opening up to U.S. tourists as of May 15th. Now shuttle forward to, say, late July, middle of August, early September. By then, things will be extremely well-developed. Museums will be open. Restaurants will be open.

Will there be bargains? That I'm not sure about. Because as we've seen from other cases, the moment the people can travel, there is this pent-up demand that is basically going to push prices up, I'm pretty certain. Capacity is still low. Prices will go up marginally, maybe more. But you will be able to travel, I believe, pretty much by middle to late summer.

BROWN: All right. Well, that is good news. I don't have any travel plans as of now, but if I do, Richard Quest, I'm coming to you for recommendations.

Thank you both, Dr. Megan Ranney, thank you. Of course, we're going to be talk to you later in the hour to answer our viewers' COVID questions. So stick around for that.

But first, tonight, the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating a string of attacks on four Bronx synagogues. CNN's Evan McMorris- Santoro is live for us tonight.

Evan, do police have any suspects or motives yet?

EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Pam, as you say, this is a very disturbing story out of the Riverdale neighborhood in the Bronx here in New York City. And police are investigating some of these attacks as hate crimes already.

Just to get you up to speed really quick, police say there have been six attacks on four synagogues over the past three days. The attacks came either late at night or early in the morning when the buildings were empty. So, fortunately there were no injuries. But police say one person is behind them all. And they say that it's the same person who threw rocks at windows and glass doors at these synagogues over the past three days.

And just the past couple of hours, we've gotten this image for who police say is the suspect from an attack on Saturday around 11:00 p.m. There is now surveillance footage of that person. Police are looking for that person.

These attacks have drawn swift condemnation from the governor and from a local chapter of the ADL. And as I mentioned, the NYPD is already investigating four of the attacks as hate crimes. And I said, they may add more of the attacks that we've already seen to that list of hate crimes that they're investigating as more comes out.

But just an absolutely disturbing and terrifying story for a city that has a large Jewish population, and just coming at a time we're seeing so many of these hate crimes popping up. To see one happen so many times all weekend, just a lot of people are very, very shook up here, Pam.

BROWN: Yes. Understandably. Evan McMorris-Santoro, thank you for bringing us the latest.

And tonight, there are calls for accountability in Virginia after an African-American man was shot. The family's attorney is claiming tonight that the officer mistook the phone the man was holding for a gun.

Also tonight, more standout reporting from our Donie O'Sullivan, this time on the "Passion of the Christ" star pushing QAnon lies.

And how perseverance paid off for President Biden's youngest climate crisis adviser. You won't want to miss that interview coming up later in the show. Stay with us.



BROWN: Activists say body cam footage and 911 audio left them with even more questions after the police shooting of an unarmed black man in Virginia. 32-year-old Isaiah Brown remains in serious condition after his family says he was shot 10 times by a deputy on Wednesday. According to state police, the same deputy had given Brown a ride home just an hour earlier, and then returned to respond to a domestic incident.

In the 911 call, you hear sirens approaching, the dispatcher instructing Brown to hold up his hands. And that's where this audio picks up.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Isaiah, are you holding your hands up?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Show me your hands.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Put your hands up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Show me your hands now. Show me your hands. Drop the gun. Drop the gun now. Stop walking toward me. Stop walking toward me. Stop. Stop.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He just shot him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Show me your hands. Show me your hands. Drop the gun. Drop the gun.


BROWN: Always disturbing to hear that. A family attorney claims the deputy mistook the cordless house phone Brown was holding for a gun.

Here is what the deputy's body camera shows. And a warning for you, some viewers may find this video disturbing.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's got this gun to his head.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Drop the gun now. Stop walking toward me. Stop walking toward me. Stop. Stop.


BROWN: Family attorneys are calling on the sheriff's office to release audio between their dispatcher and the deputy. Now, the deputy's identity, meanwhile, has not been released.

Amid protests calling for justice for all victims of officer-involved deaths, Vice President Kamala Harris today is echoing those calls for more action on police reform and racial justice. Here's part of her exclusive interview with CNN's Dana Bash.


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There is no question that we've got to put an end to these moments where the public questions whether there's going to be accountability. Questions whether there is going to be the kind of fairness that we should all expect and deserve in all of our lives and in particular as it relates to people of color with a particular emphasis on black and brown men in the criminal justice system as it relates to policing.



BROWN: And I'm joined now by Oakland, California police chief, LeRonne Armstrong.

Chief, thanks for coming on the show to talk about this. You just heard the vice president say there's got to be an end to the public wondering if there is going to be accountability and fairness between the police and the communities they serve. What do you say to that? CHIEF LERONNE ARMSTRONG, OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA, POLICE DEPARTMENT: I say

she's right. I think the vast majority of police officers know that this community that they serve want accountability, that they want transparency, that they want to feel like there's an open investigation, one in which is consistent with the evidence that they see in videos. And so I agree with the vice president. I think it is time for reform in a way that is inclusive and in a way that is diverse.

BROWN: When do you think we're going to see that?

ARMSTRONG: Well, we started here in Oakland, California, really we have a police commission that has wide authority. They provide oversight of the police department. They are a part of these investigative processes, particularly ones where we have officer- involved shootings.

In a state of California video has to be released to the public. So I think transparency is important, but also have an honest dialogue is important as well. And then universal training when it comes to de- escalation is valuable.

BROWN: We were talking to someone else, a former officer who was making that point and saying that in some shootings where there was wrongdoing with a police officer, you should also hold their supervisors, potentially, and others that are above them in the police department accountable, too. What do you think about that?

ARMSTRONG: I think that's really important, recognizing that officers have supervisors, they have command staff that are there to intervene and provide direction. They need to be held accountable as well to make sure that officers are following policy, that officers are doing what's in the best interest of the organization and the community, and that they are there as well to de-escalate situations and give officers options of ways in which they can handle it to minimize the negative impact our actions can have on the community.

BROWN: A couple of weeks ago Oakland's city council voted to restore police and fire services that have been lost to budget cuts. What happened during those months when those police services were cut when the police were essentially de-funded?

ARMSTRONG: We've seen significant increases in violent crime across the city. We've seen significant increase in activities like our slide show which is exhibition of speed in our communities. We saw our shootings increase dramatically. And so I think it was really a call to say what do we want public safety to look like in our city, but to re-imagine it in a different way. So the funding was reallocated.

But as the police department moved forward, we'll be doing our policing in a collaborative fashion, getting solutions from community, working with community about how we can solve problems with less police intervention.

BROWN: Yes. Building that trust. So, as you pointed out, your city already has seen a rise in shootings, car jackings and robberies compared to last year, and homicides are on a greater pace than last year. How much of that do you blame on the funding cuts, and what is attributable, in your view to other factors like the pandemic? One activist says that the crime spike is exposing the impact of poverty. What do you think?

ARMSTRONG: Well, I think the pandemic has had a tremendous impact on crime in a city of Oakland. I think that we've seen that the ways on which we practice our violence reduction strategies have been challenged by the pandemic and the inability to have direct communication with those that are involved in violence. Using evidence-based strategies to address crime has been the most effective way for the city of Oakland.

And because of the pandemic and the restrictions that came along with that, we weren't able to practice that in the same way. I also say that there are economic issues that as a result of the pandemic as well. Some people are out of work, some people don't have enough to eat. So there are so many other issues that drive violence.

And so in Oakland, we are working to make sure that we're doing a holistic approach, meaning that we are giving out food to families and we are offering support to families because that's how you address violence as well. It's not just through law enforcement.

BROWN: Going to the root cause. I want to ask you, body cams, witnesses with smartphones, social media. I mean, we now basically have the policing version of instant replay to see if officers made the proper call. But with people's lives at stake, what do you think, should that be a good thing that's encouraged?

How has this level of accountability changed your department knowing that every move will likely be made public through this body cam footage or a witness playing it on their phone?


ARMSTRONG: I think, I think it's been tremendously beneficial for law enforcement. I think communities of color have complained for many years that things were happening that was not seen by everyone. And so I think these incidents that have been captured, whether on body cam or through phone video, I think it has brought some things to life around police use of force that we need to address.

And so I really think that there's been a tremendous amount of information learned from these video cameras. But I encourage people because we want to use this to improve. This system has to reform, and I think the videos that we've seen, the incidents that we've all had to witness has caused us to all pause and say we need to do better as law enforcement.

BROWN: Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us tonight.

ARMSTRONG: Thank you for having me.

BROWN: And up next, on this Sunday, why are millions of people skipping their second COVID shot?

And we've got your COVID questions covered in our Q&A lightning round with Dr. Megan Ranney. Stay with us.



BROWN: If you are a fully vaccinated American, you might be able to vacation in Europe this summer. The European Union is set to reopen, according to the "New York Times." But what are the guidelines for safe travel? Last hour I spoke with White House senior adviser for COVID Response Andy Slavitt, and I pressed him on when the CDC will update its travel guidelines.


BROWN: Vaccinated people are basically trying to figure out what do I do on sidewalks if I go out on a walk? I'm just going to go ahead and travel because I'm vaccinated, I'll wear a mask? And there are CDC guidelines we keep hearing that are going to be updates to that. But can you give us a specific timeline of when we will know more about travel?

You had told CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta that the guidance would change once the U.S. is vaccinated 20 percent to 30 percent of its population. As of today we're nearly 30 percent vaccinated. What can you tell us about this, Andy?

ANDY SLAVITT, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISER FOR COVID RESPONSE: Well, look. Our jobs in the White House is to let the CDC make the decisions based on the data, the science, and their judgments. Sometimes there's not always perfect data. And the CDC I think has begun the process of being able to define how to loosen those restrictions up for Americans. There's no question that they plan to do that.

I think if you pay attention this week, you will continue to see more and more of those come into play and begin to talk about them. You know, it's going to be not as fast as people who are vaccinated want. But, remember, there are also 48 percent of Americans that haven't been vaccinated yet. And we have to remember those folks.

Folks who haven't been vaccinated yet still feel very much at risk. So we have to bring the rest of the country along with us. Most important thing we can do, people who haven't been vaccinated, make sure they get vaccinated, help them, help them get there, talk to them about why you did it. Because that's going to get it quicker and quicker.

BROWN: So what I hear from you is this week we will see more guidance from the CDC on travel and if you're vaccinated what you can do outside, correct?

SLAVITT: That's right.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP) BROWN: Federal agencies gave the green light for the Johnson & Johnson shot to go into arms again after 15 cases of a rare blood clotting condition linked to the vaccine triggered a pause. All the people who developed those complications are women. 13 are younger than 50. Three died, and seven are still in the hospital.

Some medical experts are concerned that the pause could make people more skittish about getting the vaccine. But Brown University's Dr. Megan Ranney explains why the pause if helpful to emergency physicians including herself.


RANNEY: Making physicians like me aware that this happens when people are coming into the ER now telling me that they have headaches or severe belly pain a couple of weeks after the J&J vaccine, I now have a different set of things to look for than I would have two weeks ago. It also changes how I treat clots if I find them.


BROWN: Dr. Megan Ranney joins me now. Welcome back, Dr. Ranney. Your experience with these virus-related issues makes you such a great source of knowledge. And so I want to get some of your answers to these questions that have been coming into me from viewers of the show. And our first viewer question is on in-person learning.

Michigan is seeing its highest rates of pediatric hospitalization so far in K-12 schools are the leading site of transmission. Does @MeganRanney believe it's safe to continue in-person learning?

RANNEY: So, I love that question, and it actually came from a local school teacher here in Rhode Island. There's a couple of important things to know. The first is, yes, the rate of kids getting infected is increasing in Michigan. But it's increasing in parallel to the overall level of community spread of this virus just as it has across the country throughout this epidemic. So it's not actually that the schools themselves are serving as transmission sites.

Rather, as folks in Michigan are loosening restrictions in general, kids are getting exposed to the virus at athletic events, at sleepovers. And, in fact, many of these cases of transmission have been from personal or family contact. So that's a second important thing is that it's not happening in schools. The third thing is, would closing schools make sense? Perhaps if hospitals are getting overrun.


But only if you're also closing all those other activities where the virus is spreading, things like restaurants, bars, against sporting events, movie theaters, those are the higher risk activities.

So as a parent, the answer is make sure that your kid masks up, but it's safe to send them to school for now, and get them tested if you have the option at your school. BROWN: And we have another question on classroom safety. This viewer

who is a teacher says, I currently have 19 kids seated three feet apart wearing masks. There are five different adults that come through my classroom almost every day to work with kids. Is it true that it is safe as long as they only stay for 15 minutes or less?

RANNEY: So that 15 minute rule is not quite arbitrary, but it's not like if you were there for 14 minutes, versus 16 minutes that somehow your risk is magically decreased. The more time that you spend, the higher your risk.

However, hopefully most teachers and staff at this point have had the opportunity to get vaccinated, and if those teachers and staff are vaccinated, the chance of them getting infected, even if they're spending hours in the classroom is tremendously low.

That risk goes down even further if everyone is masked, and it goes down even further if the school is able to have adequate ventilation either through filters or fans or keeping windows open.

So that 15-minute rule isn't a hard and fast one, the more important things are those other protective measures, particularly vaccination.

BROWN: I want to ask you about the variants of COVID. One viewer messaged me and asked, is it possible that with increased transmissibility, the new variant has a lower incubation period, for example, lower than the 14 days for the initial variant?

RANNEY: It is a great question. We don't fully know yet. What we do know is that this virus spreads more easily and the amount of time that it incubates really depends on the person. Some people show symptoms five days later, some people, it is up to 14 days.

The recommendations continue to be that if you've been exposed to someone who is positive, you should quarantine, excuse me, for about a week, and that you should get tested five to seven days after your last exposure to make sure that you haven't turned positive yourself and that holds true whether the person was infected with a variant or with the regular virus.

And honestly, most of us aren't even going to know which type of virus we were infected with.

BROWN: That's a good point, too. So here's a question about the side effect in vaccination. My sister had a light case of COVID-19, but has not been able to taste food for four months. That's awful, right? Many of my family members are anti-vaxxers. She is on the fence. Would getting the vaccine improve the taste situation?

RANNEY: So there have been some reports about people getting the vaccines and having clear up some of the long COVID symptoms that many Americans have been living with. But there's no hard data yet that getting the vaccine will return their sense of smell.

And I'll say, I have such sympathy. My own sister had caught COVID back in the winter and still does not have her sense of smell either. For the anti-vaxxers in the family, I'll say the argument there is get vaccinated so that you too don't lose your sense of taste or your sense of smell or God forbid have something worse happen, like getting COVID pneumonia or getting hospitalized or God forbid, dying.

BROWN: Just really quick. I've gotten so many questions on autoimmune disorders. Is it safe to get the vaccine if you have an autoimmune disorder?

RANNEY: It is safe, but know that it is going to be -- the data suggests that if you're on immunosuppressants like steroids or methotrexate, or long term prednisone, that the vaccine may be less effective in people on those immunosuppressants.

So you should still make sure that you mask and you should make sure that everyone around you is vaccinated as well to help protect you.

BROWN: So the only difference is if you're on the immunosuppressants. Okay, good to know.

Dr. Megan Ranney, this was so interesting and enlightening. Thank you. We appreciate it.

RANNEY: Thank you, Pamela.

BROWN: "The Passion of the Christ" star now preaching QAnon conspiracies? Our Donie O'Sullivan's latest reporting on this is coming up next.

And the likely date for a meeting between President Biden and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin. We will tell you when after a quick break.



BROWN: New details tonight about a potential Summit between President Biden and his Russian counterpart President Vladimir Putin.

According to a Kremlin aide, the bilateral meeting may happen as early as June. CNN senior international correspondent, Fred Pleitgen is in Moscow with more -- Fred.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Pamela. We picked this up this evening on Russian state media. It was a senior aide to the Kremlin called Yuri Ushakov and he went on Russian state media, and there he said that right now, they are eyeing June for a possible Summit between President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

He even said that there are specific dates that are being talked about, however, he refused to actually name those dates.

Now, the Biden administration for its part has not given any sort of update on this matter, and the Russians are also saying that right now, there are no working level meetings yet to try and hash out what exactly these two leaders are going to be talking about. And then, of course, also what progress could be made as well.

However, all of this doesn't sound implausible as you do have President Biden going to Europe in June and he is going to be going to the G-7 Summit in the United Kingdom. He is also going to be going to the NATO Summit in Brussels.

So he is certainly going to be in Europe at that point in time. And of course, you know, we've been reporting about it over the past couple of weeks, it is a period of heightened tensions between the U.S. and Russia, the Biden ministration, hitting Russia with some really tough sanctions for the 2020 election meddling, also for the SolarWinds hack, the Russians then retaliating, for their part, banning an array of top U.S. officials.

And then of course, you had tens of thousands of Russian troops at the border with Ukraine. A lot of those now starting to actually withdraw and Alexei Navalny, the opposition politician, the U.S., of course, remains very concerned about his state as well -- Pamela.

BROWN: All right. Our thanks to Fred.

Meantime, conspiracy theory types in the QAnon world have a celebrity friend. Actor Jim Caviezel, who played Jesus in the film "The Passion of the Christ" is out there pushing bizarre theories. Here is CNN's Donie O'Sullivan.



JIM CAVIEZEL, ACTOR: The adrenochroming of children, the -- I mean, look, we're where we're at right now, hopefully we need your prayers.

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER (voice over): He may have played the role of Jesus Christ in Mel Gibson's 2004 movie, "The Passion of the Christ," but now it seems actor, Jim Caviezel is preaching a different kind of gospel, echoing the gospel of QAnon while speaking to a right-wing convention over the weekend.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said adrenochrome?

CAVIEZEL: Essentially, you have adrenaline in your body, I'll just simplify it and when you are scared, you produce adrenaline. If a child knows he is going to die, his body will secrete this adrenaline.

O'SULLIVAN (voice over): Followers of QAnon are obsessed with the idea without having any evidence that Hollywood celebrities and other famous people torture children to extract adrenochrome, some believe to use in satanic rituals.

It is bizarre and baseless, but it is the same kind of conspiracy theory that children are in imminent danger that in 2016 led a gunman to a pizzeria in Washington, D.C. that was the target of false online claims about child torture.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The fact that you guys are attacking us and making us look like we're crazy when we're just trying to save some [bleep] children pisses me off.

O'SULLIVAN (voice over): And the conspiracy theories continue to spread. In October, QAnon believers marched in Hollywood repeating baseless claims.

O'SULLIVAN (on camera): What's going on with Tom Hanks?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You guys just want me to explain everything today, huh? Dude, it's all suspicion. That's -- that's a suspicion.

O'SULLIVAN: How do you know that? Tom Hanks says --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you not know? You're reporting a non-fact because you don't know the information you're saying it is a fact that they are not.

O'SULLIVAN: How do you prove a negative? But neither -- but neither do you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're in an impasse then. Because we are reporting literally the same thing.

O'SULLIVAN: But neither do you. But you have him on your sign. You're calling him a pedophile?


O'SULLIVAN: But you don't know that for a fact.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How did they get to that position of power?


BROWN: CNN's Donie O'Sullivan, thank you so much. Wow.

Meantime, a teenager goes from protesting climate change outside the White House to being invited inside to help fight it.

Jerome Foster joins me, coming up. You're in the CNN NEWSROOM. We'll be right back.



BROWN: At least 82 people were killed this weekend when a massive fire broke out in a large hospital in Baghdad. Initial reports say it likely started after an oxygen tank exploded there. Here is CNN's Arwa Damon with more.


ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The person filming cries out in horror. There is the sound of another blast from within the inferno. A woman screams. It is Baghdad's Infectious Diseases Hospital filled with COVID-19

patients and their family members. Hussein Salem was inside caring for his mother. He was urging her to try to eat something.

"I couldn't save her," he sobs. "We tried to evacuate my mom. But once we reached the door, we were blown away by one of the blasts," he remembers. The pain still so raw, so incomprehensible.

He is at the Baghdad morgue waiting for her charred remains, along with the others whose loved ones either suffocated to death or were burnt, some beyond recognition.

His father's anger seeps through his sorrow. "When tragedies happen, government officials always give bogus reasons. They always try to justify their devilish ways," he says.

As seen in this CCTV video, the explosion believed to be an oxygen tank that blue came from inside one of the rooms. People start to run. Someone, it looks like a patient, an elderly man is pulled out.

The flames appear to be getting larger. A man arrives with a handheld fire extinguisher, but with no fire proofing. It was not enough.

That blast led to a series of others. The fire alarm was faulty. It was half an hour before the Civil Defense says it got a call.

By the time they responded, so many were dead, so many wounded.

Residents in the area had taken it upon themselves to try to help, breaking through windows to save those inside.

Back in February, we filmed at this hospital in the intensive care unit. We spoke to doctors and family members about people's reluctance to come to hospitals, about the lack of faith in Iraq's healthcare systems, who have yet to recover from sanctions dating back to the Saddam Hussein era, and then nonstop war and rampant corruption.

This, this is what all that has led to. Murta just stares at his hands, cut up from breaking glass to let in some air. His aunt and grandmother perished inside. He could not save them. "No one could imagine this could happen," he says.

But tragically, Iraq has a way of delivering the unimaginable, and with it, unimaginable pain.

Arwa Damon, CNN, Istanbul.




BROWN: Well, the Academy Awards are tonight and Glenn Close is up for Best Supporting Actress for "Hillbilly Elegy." But she is taking this moment to shine her spotlight on a very personal issue. When her little sister, Jessie, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder,

Glenn made it her mission to end the stigma and discrimination.


BROWN: She co-founded, Bring Change 2 Mind, a nonprofit that brings mental health awareness and support to schools and communities. This week, CNN Heroes shares her family's story.


GLENN CLOSE, ACTRESS: I've always said that mental health is a family affair. When my sister, Jess, came to me and said, "I need help because I can't stop thinking of killing myself." It was like a bolt out of nowhere.

We have, over the last 10 years, learned a tremendous amount about stigma, about how toxic it is. We have found that the best way to start ending stigma is to talk about it. Bring Change 2 Mind is a nonprofit organization that fights against the stigma that surrounds mental illness.

As a chronic illness, it is not who you are. It's something because we have this amazing wondrous fragile brain. It is part of being a human being.

And especially now, because our collective mental health is under such stress. It should be something that really connects us, this need to take care of our brains, it makes us human.


BROWN: Couldn't agree with her more. Learn more about the Close family's mission to de-stigmatize mental illness and nominate a CNN Hero at

Well, students in California's university school system will need more than books and computers to return to campus this fall. The biggest public school system in the U.S. says students, faculty and staff will all need to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

CNN's Bianna Golodryga has the details.


JOHN HERMITT, RUTGERS UNIVERSITY STUDENT: And I was happy. I was -- I already wanted to get vaccinated. I have no problems with getting vaccinated.

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN SENIOR GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: For these Rutgers University students, any chance at normalcy would be a real shot in the arm.

CAITLIN SNEE, RUTGERS UNIVERSITY STUDENT: Have more students come back, be in person. And hopefully, like, get a real college experience. ANTONIO CALCADO, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT FOR STRATEGIC PLANNING AND

OPERATIONS AND CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER AT RUTGERS UNIVERSITY: We feel vaccine is the game changer for us to bring back as many people as we can.

GOLODRYGA (voice over): School officials like Antonio Calcado say mandating that all students be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 before returning to campus in the fall is the best and safest way to bring students back.

CALCADO: They deserve to have the experience that they have been looking forward to, and we think that this is a small price to pay to do it.

GOLODRYGA (voice over): Rutgers was one of the first, but they're not alone. Nearly 75 other universities including Duke, Georgetown, Brown, Cornell, Notre Dame, and Syracuse, are requiring that students get vaccinated.

CALCADO: Students will be required to upload their vaccination cards.

GOLODRYGA: Calcado compares the policy to proof for other vaccines, such as measles and mumps, required in public and private schools across the country.

CALCADO: We already require and mandate a number of different vaccines. So we have a policy in place.

GOLODRYGA (voice over): Similar to other vaccines, exemptions for medical or religious beliefs can be requested.

DORIT REISS, LAW PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA HASTINGS: Vaccine mandates in education go back a long time and traditionally have been upheld by court, because the increased safety in an area that's vulnerable to outbreaks.

GOLODRYGA (voice over): Despite that history, other schools are taking a different approach. The University of Colorado at Boulder says it is not requiring vaccines at this time, because they are being administered under the F.D.A.'s Emergency Use Authorization, or EUA, but is strongly encouraging students to get them.

REISS: There's a legal question: can you mandate the vaccine under any way? And the law isn't clear in that.

GOLODRYGA (voice over): State policies may also impact a school's decision. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued an Executive Order banning businesses from asking to see proof of a COVID-19 vaccine, one day after Nova Southeastern University announced it would require vaccinations.

The school says it is now reviewing the order.

Then there are schools like Ohio State, which are avoiding mandates altogether, instead saying everyone is encouraged to get vaccinated as soon as they are able to do so. The vaccine has been proven to be safe and effective.

Many schools have yet to announce a vaccine policy, perhaps an indication of just how complicated the issue is, as students remain hopeful for a return to campus normalcy.

BELLA FUSCO, RUTGERS UNIVERSITY STUDENT: It gives me hope that things will be more normal than they are now.

HERMITT: So I'm just happy to get back, and I'll be able to see all my friends again.

GOLODRYGA (voice over): Walking alone through a still deserted Rutgers campus, Calcado has no regrets over their decision.

CALCADO: The fun component is literally pulled out of it.

GOLODRYGA (on camera): And your view is, the key to get back to fun is through vaccine.


GOLODRYGA (voice over): Bianna Golodryga, CNN, New Jersey.