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India's COVID-19 Crisis; Biden Selling $4 Trillion Economic Agenda; Israel Mourns Stampede Victims; Fractured Republican Party; Uruguay's Health System Pushed To The Limit; Sarajevo COVID-19 Crisis Harks Back To Bosnian War; SpaceX Astronauts Return. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired May 2, 2021 - 05:00   ET




KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): An international effort to get aide to India Fast. The coronavirus crisis shows no sign of letting up.

Also ahead Israel observes a national day of mourning. We're live in Jerusalem.

And splashdown for SpaceX, as the Dragon capsule successfully returns to Earth.

Live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, I'm Kim Brunhuber. This is CNN NEWSROOM.


BRUNHUBER: For the 11th straight day, India's COVID crisis has exploded by nearly 300,000 cases. It is a one-day record. The grim figures prompted officials to extend a lockdown of the capital region. They just announced a two-week lockdown on May 5th.

Medical supplies are now being flown in from around the world. Tragically, patients have died because oxygen supplies were depleted. On Saturday about 100 tons of liquid oxygen rolled into the capital. It will provide short-term relief but far more is needed.

Kristie Lu Stout has the latest and Isa Soares is tracking the international response.

Let's start with you, Kristie. The crisis deepens daily.

What's the latest?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: The world's worst COVID-19 outbreak continues to ravage India, reporting 3,689 deaths. This day marks the 11th consecutive day of over 300,000 cases of COVID-19.

Experts continue to point out that number is most likely underreported because of the nonstop cremations taking place. And every time we report on these grim numbers and statistics, it all translates on the ground to countless stories of tragedy and heartbreak.

Stories of families going from clinic to clinic, hospital to hospital, begging for ICU beds, pleading and begging for supplies, like oxygen and medicine. Experts point out that the best hope for India is the COVID-19 vaccine.

The drive started earlier this year but it has been woefully slow. Over the weekend, India expanded its inoculation drive. They're saying there's simply not enough supplies. On Saturday, the latest numbers out today, we learned that less than 85,000 adults in India were given their first dose on Saturday.

Vaccination supplies are coming in but India right now is up against logistical challenges. They are trying to get out of the second wave of this virus.

BRUNHUBER: Thank you, Kristie Lu Stout.

Isa, I want to pick up where you were talking about not enough supplies.

So will this make a dent in the problem or is it too little too late?

ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I have been given the picture that Kristie just painted of what we have seen in India from our correspondence on the ground, the dire situation, the 392,000 new infections, the 11th day of consecutive rises in infections.

That, I think every bit makes a huge difference. And what the international community are trying to do, as they get together to show solidarity and cooperation, is try to relieve some of the shortages.


SOARES: And principally, the shortage is for things like oxygen. So what we have seen in the last week or so is the U.K., Singapore, Saudi Arabia, shipments from Uzbekistan, Germany, arriving. We also had something like 150,000 doses of Sputnik vaccine arriving.

This is the first batch, according to Russia. It has been approved by India back in the beginning of the month so that can be administered. Shots can go into arms hopefully quicker.

A significant shipment from France arriving this morning with high- capacity oxygen generators. That will be providing year-long oxygen. Also sending liquid oxygen for five days and 28 ventilators. Take a listen to what the French ambassador to India had to say.


EMMANUEL LENAIN, FRENCH AMBASSADOR TO INDIA: This is an exceptional package we are providing, but not just package; France has provided to any country since the beginning of the crisis. It's very important because it is not only a response to short-term needs but it is also equipment that we provide for Indian hospitals.

Each of these can each provide oxygen for more than 12 years. So it will also contribute to (INAUDIBLE) capacity in India.


SOARES: The United States has been sending shipments, it continues to send aid. President Biden telling the president (sic) that the United States stands shoulder to shoulder with India and it is promising like $100 million worth of supplies, including not just PPE but also components desperately needed to make up the production of those vaccines, of course.

Only two percent of the population of 1.3 billion people have been inoculated. For a while, the United States had a ban on exports of some components. The United States was trying to strengthen its own vaccine supply at home. Now that export has been temporarily lifted so those components can to go India. So more people can be inoculated quicker.

BRUNHUBER: Can't come soon enough, Kristie Lu Stout, Isa Soares, thank you very much, both of you.

Some public health officials say the best course of action for India right now would be another nationwide lockdown. Dr. Anthony Fauci said he believes a few weeks could make a big difference.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF COVID-19 MEDICAL ADVISER: One of the things to be considered is to temporarily shut down, I mean literally lock down, so that you wind up not having more spread.

And no one likes to lock down the country, well, that's a problem if you do it for 6 months. But if you do it just for a few weeks, you could have a significant impact on the dynamics of the outbreak.


BRUNHUBER: So last hour I played that clip to Preetha Reddy of Apollo Hospitals System in Asia and I asked her if another lockdown was realistic. Here's her response.


PREETHA REDDY, APOLLO HOSPITALS: I think the likelihood of that happening is quite high. Most people feel that it's needed and that, you know, we will be able to cope with it.

For example, even a partial lockdown, at least kind of stemmed a bit on the rise of cases and I think it should be done very forcefully in some states but definitely throughout the country.

BRUNHUBER: And then when you said you wanted to see changes in policy, specifically, then, what are you calling for?

REDDY: What we're asking is, you know, why we were able to get infrastructure, while we're getting aid, so on and so forth. We're finding a huge shortage of manpower. [05:10:00]

REDDY: I think we need to ease the norms of life for them to actually come and work alongside patients.

And we're strongly advocating that, with the governments and hopefully they will see that, you know, for a certain period of time, with just limited work to be done, we will kind of muster in more support.

We need more hands and feet, more bodies on the ground, for help and, for that, some policy changes are required and hopefully that will happen.

BRUNHUBER: And also you need more shots in arms, vaccinations. I had a noted Indian virologist on yesterday, saying ramping up vaccinations would be great, we need it obviously but it will have no impact on the current outbreak. The country won't be able to get enough people vaccinated in time.

Do you agree with that?

REDDY: Yes. I think, you know, it's much better to be late than never. And as an institution, as the Apollo Hospitals group, the largest of vaccinators in the private sector. And I think if we can garner in more support, get the supplies, ease the supply chain, we should at least be able to safeguard against the future. You know, something is better than nothing.


BRUNHUBER: That was Preetha Reddy, the head of Apollo Hospitals in Asia.

Here in the U.S., another promising sign. The seven-day moving average of daily cases dipped below 50,000 for the first time since early October. CNN's Natasha Chen has more on the progress made and what still needs to be done.


NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Even as global daily coronavirus cases reached a new peak pushed by the crisis in India and South America, the United States curve is flattening.

The improvement in numbers is helped in part by the more than 100 million people in the U.S., close to one-third of the population who are now fully vaccinated.

TIM SMITH, FEMA VACCINATION CENTER LEADER: I'm seeing a shift I think, towards that underserved population, so the ones that are maybe on the fence and are thinking about it, we have to do a little bit more effort to get the knowledge to them and to help them make the correct decision to get vaccinated.

JIM REDICK, NORFOLK, Virginia, EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS AND RESPONSE DIRECTOR: By the time they leave, they have smiles on their faces and then they share with us the reasons why they are getting vaccinated and they share them, they post them on the wall.

And it's all about doing it for not only themselves but most of the time for their family, friends and other loved ones.

CHEN (voice-over): Now the focus turns to vaccinating younger teens once they're eligible, many of whom have also missed routine vaccinations for things like the flu this past year because of the pandemic.

DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: It's going to take a truly coordinated effort to achieve both the rollout of COVID-19 vaccine in adolescents and a rapid catch up of routine vaccinations.

CHEN (voice-over): Pfizer has applied for an emergency use authorization to allow 12 to 15-year-olds to receive its COVID-19 vaccine. President Biden says school should probably all be open in the fall.

This vision of almost normal is tantalizing. New York City will allow 75 percent capacity for indoor dining starting Friday.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D-NY), NEW YORK CITY: I think "The Daily News" has it right. Here. This is going to be the summer of New York City.

CHEN (voice-over): The restaurant reservation website Open Table shows the number of customers dining out is around 20 percent below pre- pandemic levels.

Disneyland Resort in California, the only one of the global Disney parks left closed since last March reopened with restrictions to California residents on Friday.

CDC director Rochelle Walensky says falling case rates and rising vaccination rates mean a full reopening of businesses by July 1st is a reasonable target, though she also warns the virus has tricked us before and the U.S. has not reached herd immunity.

Oregon governor Kate Brown on Friday designated 15 counties entering extreme risk level with harsher restrictions as the state recorded five straight weeks of at least 20 percent increases in new cases and a near doubling of hospitalizations in the past week, particularly among younger people.

GOV. KATE BROWN (D-OR): Economic relief is something I can do as your governor to help Oregonians impacted by this fourth surge. What I can't do is bring back someone's life lost to this virus.

CHEN (voice-over): With similar caution in mind, the Biden administration will restrict travel from India for non-U.S. citizens starting Tuesday with some exceptions. So with much to celebrate on the cusp of normalcy, there's also the reminder of what can happen with too much too soon -- Natasha Chen, CNN, Norfolk, Virginia.


BRUNHUBER: Israel is marking a day of national mourning for those killed when a religious festival turned into a deadly stampede.

And U.S. President Joe Biden has started to sell his $4 trillion economic agenda. Some on Capitol Hill have a lot of questions about it. Stay with us.





BRUNHUBER: Israel is observing a national day of mourning for dozens of people that were killed in a stampede. The prime minister is asking people to pray for the injured.

While funerals for the victims continue, so does the blame and questions over who is responsible for the deadly disaster. Let's bring in journalist Elliott Gotkine from Jerusalem.

Tell us about the mood there and the growing calls for accountability.

ELLIOTT GOTKINE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Still in shock as to what happened in the early hours of Friday morning. As you say, it is a very somber mood. Flags are flying at half-mast at the army bases and missions around the world.

Now 45 people were killed. Those bodies have now all been identified and we understand from someone familiar with the list of fatalities that it is expected that at least five of the 45 are or were U.S. citizens.


GOTKINE: Funerals began on Friday afternoon. There were more last night after the Jewish Sabbath and more expected to happen today. There are still a dozen people in hospital, two of them with serious injuries.

And amid the sadness and sorrow, questions are being asked and there's anger as to how such a tragedy could have taken place in the first place. The police has launched an internal inquiry to look at the stampede. And they're looking at criminal negligence.

Some are calling for a full state inquiry to get all of the facts leading up to the disaster and who is responsible and how they can ensure it never happens again. They'll be paying attention to comments and reports that have emerged in the last 48 hours, suggesting that there weren't many warnings in previous years as well, warnings that went unheeded, suggesting it was a ticking time bomb waiting to happen.

The public minister is an ally. He said, look, he takes responsibility but he doesn't take the blame and this could have happened in any one of the previous years this took place. Indeed, in previous years there were many more thousand people, suggesting up to 400,000 people attending this event.

Against that backdrop, Kim, it's almost a miracle it didn't happen earlier and with an even higher death toll.

BRUNHUBER: Elliott Gotkine, thank you.

President Biden has a big proposal to sell a package worth $4 trillion. He'll need the support of voters to make it a reality. CNN's Arlette Saenz reports.


ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President Biden is revving up Air Force One again next week as he is taking his sales pitch for his sweeping economic proposals out directly into the country.

The president is hoping he can earn support for his measures from voters across the United States, who he hopes will then, in turn, urge their lawmakers up on Capitol Hill to get on board with these plans. On Monday, the president will travel to Virginia, along with the first lady.


SAENZ: The two of them will be visiting schools as they are looking to promote that American Families Plan that focuses on child care, education and paid family leave.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the vice president heads to Wisconsin and Rhode Island. And then President Biden will travel down south to Louisiana on Thursday, with stops in New Orleans and Lake Charles, a community that was devastated by Hurricane Laura back last summer.

The president, these trips are following on his visits this past week to Georgia and also Pennsylvania, where he made a direct pitch for his infrastructure proposal at an Amtrak station and argued that these investments will help keep America competitive with the rest of the world. Take a listen.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have a huge opportunity here to provide fast, safe, reliable, clean transportation in this country.

And transit is part of the infrastructure. And like the rest of our infrastructure, we're way behind the rest of the world right now. We need to remember, we're in competition with the rest of the world.

People come here and set up businesses. People stay here. People grow because of the ability to access; access transportation, access all the infrastructure. It's what allows us to compete.


SAENZ: Now as he makes this pitch out on the road, the president must also court lawmakers back in Washington. But Republicans and some moderate Democrats have expressed some hesitancy with the price tag and pay-fors in this plan.

The president has said he is willing to sit down with Republicans to hear their ideas. And one of those senators that he has already had a direct conversation with is senator Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican of West Virginia.

The president has invited her and other Republicans to meet with him at the White House to hammer out some of the details of these proposals. And the president must also keep his Democratic coalition together, as he is hoping to get these measures passed -- Arlette Saenz, CNN, traveling with the president in Wilmington, Delaware.


BRUNHUBER: A Republican Party divided over Trump's legacy looks a little like this. Senator Mitt Romney booed by fellow Republicans at a convention in Utah. Listen to this.


SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): I don't hide the fact that I wasn't a fan of our last president's character issues and I'm also no fan --

BRUNHUBER (voice-over): The catcalls came just as Romney mentioned Trump.


BRUNHUBER: Of course, Romney has long had a strained relationship with hardcore Republican activists in his state and there's obvious anger over the former president's impeachment.


BRUNHUBER: Even though a resolution to censure Romney for his votes in the Senate to convict Trump on the impeachment trial failed, here's how a Democratic lawmaker sees all this.


REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA), OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: He was the nominee of the Republican Party eight years ago.

Could you imagine president Barack Obama going before a Democratic audience and getting booed?

It's as analogous that Romney ran against Obama be booed and it just shows the Republican Party right now has an identity crisis. And anyone who departs from the party line, who even dares to criticize president Trump, is going to be ostracized by a large part of that party.


BRUNHUBER: As you remember, Romney often criticized Trump during his presidency. India struggles in the grip of a brutal second coronavirus wave.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (from captions): I am so angry, because of disorganization.


BRUNHUBER: The frustration, the fear, the heartbreaking desperation on the ground in New Delhi, that's just ahead.




BRUNHUBER: Welcome back to all of you watching here in the United States, Canada and around the world. I'm Kim Brunhuber and you're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

India has reported more than 300,000 new COVID cases for an 11th straight day. More than 3,902 deaths were reported on Sunday.


BRUNHUBER: Several states are imposing new lockdowns and restrictions.

Now aid from around the world is rolling in, including shipments from Germany and France that arrived today. CNN chief international correspondent Clarissa Ward has more now from New Delhi. We should warn you, her report has some graphic content.


WARD (voice-over): In Delhi now, you are never far from heartbreak. Almost everyone in this city has been visited by grief.

At this crematorium, the loss weighs heavily in the smoldering air and the dead are piling up.

WARD: There are bodies literally everywhere you turn here. I've honestly never seen anything quite like it. And the organizers say that, pre-COVID, they might cremate 7 or 8 people in a day. Today alone, they have already cremated 55 bodies. And it's not even lunchtime.

WARD (voice-over): Just months ago, India's leadership boasted that the country had effectively defeated COVID. Now it has set global records for new cases as a terrifying second wave ravages the country.

Jatinder Singh Shunti (ph) says he and his men don't even stop to take breaks. And still they can barely cope with the flow. A volunteer approaches. They have run out of tables for the bodies, he

says, then adds that his mother died from COVID the night before.

WARD: You must be tired?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (from captions): Very. But this time is not for the rest.

WARD: Do you believe the government figures, the death tolls, the COVID figures that they're giving?

Or do you think the real figures are much higher?

WARD (voice-over): The numbers that you're seeing on television are the numbers of people who are dying in hospitals, he says. They are not factoring in the people who died at home in isolation. If those numbers are added, the actual number will go up by 3 times.

To keep up with those mounting numbers, the crematorium has been forced to expand, creating an overflow area in a neighboring car park.

Shiam Sharma (ph) is saying goodbye to his 45 year old younger brother.

SHIAM SHARMA (PH), BROTHER OF COVID-19 VICTIM: Last night I was thinking that his health is improving last night but suddenly the phone of doctor came on my mobile phone that your brother has expired.

WARD: Do you think his death could've been prevented?

SHARMA (PH): Yes, yes, I think we can save him in a better health hospital.

WARD (voice-over): India's health care system is at a breaking point; unable to cope with the scale of the crisis, its people to fend for themselves. This crowd has been waiting for 6 hours for the chance to get some oxygen. They can't rely on the state.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (from captions): My mother.

WARD: Your mother?

How old is she?


WARD: is her oxygen very low?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (from captions): She's in very critical condition.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (from captions) -- and we are trying since morning but we are not getting the oxygen anywhere.

WARD: How many places have you been to? UNIDENTIFIED MALE (from captions): 19.

WARD: 19?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Since morning, since 6:00 am.

WARD: Have you tried taking her to the hospital?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are no beds.

WARD: There are no beds?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (from captions): Before four days we have tried so much but we didn't get any beds.

WARD (voice-over): Pria Shavastiva (ph) was lucky enough to find her mother a place in a hospital, only to find out there was no oxygen.

PRIA SHAVASTIVA (PH), DAUGHTER OF COVID-19 PATIENT: (INAUDIBLE) and I am so scared whenever I think of my mom.

WARD: Are you angry?

SHAVASTIVA (PH) (from captions): I am so angry because of the disorganization. Our government is so careless, they even don't care about what public is suffering. They don't know what India is suffering. And there are so many people who are standing over there and fighting for this thing.

WARD (voice-over): Her mother is now in critical condition. Like many here, she feels completely overwhelmed.

For those who can't source their own oxygen, this is the only option, a drive-in oxygen center by the side of the road. A woman arrives unconscious in a rickshaw.


WARD (voice-over): Several hospitals have already turned her away. They simply didn't have the beds. Now she is relying on the kindness of strangers. Her sons work desperately to try to revive her.

WARD: This isn't a hospital or even a clinic. It's a Sikh temple. But for these people who have already been turned away from so many hospitals, this is their last chance at survival.

The leader of the Sikh charity that runs this facility says it gets no support at all from the government. He says he already had COVID twice. But he and his volunteers continue to work 24 hours a day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (from captions): We want to save their lives. This is our heart's voice.

WARD: It must hurt your heart to see the way your people are suffering.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (from captions): Yes, madame, many times we cry also. What is going on?

WARD (voice-over): It is impossible to escape the tragedy of this vicious second wave. Coronavirus is ravaging the old but it has not spared India's young. The prime minister has announced that everyone over the age of 18 can get the vaccine. But with less than 2 percent of the country inoculated, that offers only a distant hope.

So India's capital continues to burn. Suffocated by the rampant spread of this deadly virus, the city and a country brought to its knees, praying for respite -- Clarissa Ward, CNN, New Delhi.


BRUNHUBER: Devastating but great reporting there.

South America is also in the grip of a resurgent pandemic. We'll go to Uruguay to shine a light on one of the most underreported stories in the pandemic.

And in Sarajevo, COVID is taking the lives at an alarming rate at a pace not since the Bosnian war almost three decades ago. We'll find out why.





BRUNHUBER: The world's attention has been focused on the pandemic disaster unfolding in India. The numbers there are staggering. But the virus is also surging far away in South America. CNN's Rafael Romo show us the toll it's taking on doctors and nurses in Uruguay.


RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SR. LATIN AFFAIRS EDITOR (voice-over): Intensive care unit Dr. Monica Laudi (ph) says some patients are hard to forget.

"It's hard to cope with what I've seen. I can't get it out of my mind," she says.

Laudi (ph) works at one of the main hospitals in Montevideo, Uruguay's capital. The country is now dealing with a new wave of COVID-19 cases. And even though these doctors say they try their best, their survival rate at this hospital is not very encouraging.

"Eighty percent of those with a ventilator die," he says. The mortality rate for those without one is 50 percent.

For most of April, Uruguay, a country with 3.5 million, had the highest infection rate in the world. It still remains near the top and, according to Uruguayan Intensive Care Medical Unit Association, ICU admissions tripled in the last month. This situation forced hospitals, both private and public, to increase

the number of beds equipped with ventilators by 23 percent in an effort to avoid a collapse.

After working long shifts and days off for months, only one word can describe how health professionals feel.

"Overwhelmed," she says. That's the word. If there is a sliver of good news, it's that all of these doctors and nurses, as well as those in charge of maintenance and cleaning, are fully vaccinated.

But that doesn't make their jobs any easier, especially, they say, because their work entails walking a very fine line between life and death. Life outside these ICU walls is also getting increasingly hard to live, Dr. Laudi (ph) says.

"It always takes me a while to realize that I am no longer here and to embrace my life outside the hospital," she says.

Once out of the hospital, nurses and doctors at this ICU say something that especially bothers them is the fact that many people fail to realize that the pandemic is not yet over, crowding parks, shopping centers and stores that have reopened.

"It's 2 different worlds," she says. "People seem to be oblivious to our reality inside the hospital."

"Sometimes I wish people would come here and walk in our shoes so that they understand what is really going on," this ICU nurse says.

According to the Pan American health Organization, one in 4 global deaths from the virus has occurred in the Americas. Uruguay, together with Peru, Bolivia and Argentina have reported a sharp rise in infections.

Back in the intensive care unit, doctors and nurses remain focused on saving lives. They keep on trying their best because they know some of these patients may not be here when they return tomorrow -- Rafael Romo, CNN.


BRUNHUBER: Uruguay's giant neighbor to the north, Brazil, has the second highest official death toll in the world. But that didn't stop thousands of Brazilians showing up in Sao Paulo to show their support for the president, Jair Bolsonaro.

Bolsonaro has been widely criticized for downplaying the severity of the pandemic. Former president Luis Ignacio Lula da Silva is expected to run against him in next year's election.

Hospital scenes in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia, are looking familiar. Now people are dying from COVID-19 at the same pace as the Bosnian War. CNN's Scott McLean reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the hills of Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina's war dead are marked in row after row of uniform white graves, where the markers of one war end begin the headstones of another kind of war.


MCLEAN (voice-over): Last month, this cemetery in central Sarajevo could not keep up with the pace of burials, as a steady stream of caskets arrived from hospitals that were overwhelmed with victims of COVID-19.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You couldn't see your enemy and a lot of people are dying because of that virus. That is really a war.

MCLEAN (voice-over): Dr. Ismet Givronka Petonovic (ph) is caring for the casualties of that invisible enemy, a quarter century after treating the gunshot and shrapnel wounds of the Bosnia war, a bloody conflict that raged for more than 3 years, killing thousands, leaving much of the country in ruins and bitterly divided along ethnic lines.

Today Sarajevo's been largely built but the country's ethnic divisions, invisible from above, are still entrenched down below in the system of government that requires Eastern Orthodox Serbs, Bosnian Muslims and Catholic Croats to share power.

Some observers say the complex system designed to end the violent conflict and enshrined in the country's constitution has made it harder for the government to end this health care crisis, with regional governments struggling to coordinate a response.

During the, war 11,000 people died in Sarajevo alone but in recent months the pandemic has been taking lives at an equally shocking pace.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) completely surrounded, a lot of injury and a lot of troubles but also in the last three months, in compared, it was also a very similar, so difficult situation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Best doctor, best husband, best father, best brother, best son you could imagine.

MCLEAN (voice-over): Mediha Slatina's (ph) husband was an ER physician. In November, he battled the virus from a hospital bed for 16 days before succumbing. She not only lost her husband but also her father and mother-in-law all within the same week.

MEDIHA SLATINA'S (PH), WIDOW OF COVID-19 VICTIM: I don't know what to say. It was very hard, it was very difficult period of my life and we are still recovering.

MCLEAN (voice-over): Facing a record high spike in cases in March, local governments imposed curfews and restrictions. But the fragile economy can't afford to stay closed for long. At the first sign of declining case counts, shops and cafes reopened. Some now even serve indoors Sarajevo's mayor is frustrated by a lack of vaccines. The government seemed to pin its hopes on the COVAX initiative and surplus shots from the E.U. that haven't materialized.

BENJAMINA KARIC, SARAJEVO MAYOR: I think that the worst possible thing is that this could be stopped the same way as the war could be stopped during the '90s. So I think that now we can buy vaccines, we have money to buy vaccines but we do not have a system.

MCLEAN (voice-over): It was only January before the government began negotiating directly with vaccine producers, falling well behind the European average, just as the country records more deaths in the first few months of 2021 than in all of last year. Last month, help came from an unlikely source: tens of thousands of

Bosnians streamed across the border to Serbia after it offered foreigners the chance to take the shot for free. But it will take a lot more than just goodwill to finally stop the virus and this invisible siege on Sarajevo -- Scott McLean, CNN, London.


BRUNHUBER: It was a textbook splashdown for NASA and SpaceX. Just ahead, they spent five months in space and now they're back on Earth. We'll have the latest on the return of SpaceX Crew One.






UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have visual confirmation of the Crew One --



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- this is excellent news. We have splashed down.

BRUNHUBER (voice-over): SpaceX Crew One is now safely back on Earth after a historic mission to the International Space Station. They splashed down about three hours ago, NASA's first nighttime splash down since 1968.


BRUNHUBER: The astronauts spent more than five months on the International Space Station. A flotilla of ships was position in the Gulf of Mexico and rushed to the spacecraft. Within moments the capsule was retrieved and hoisted onto the recovery ship. The hatch opened and there you can see the crew exit the capsule. In a news conference moments ago, NASA said all four astronauts are in

great shape and doing well. Michael Holmes has more about their mission.


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Space is supposed to be vast unless you are one of the 11 space explorers, posing elbow to elbow recently, on the International Space Station.

For NASA and SpaceX, it's one crew starting and another one ending, adding 2 cosmonauts and a NASA astronaut, who arrived on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft in April and it was, officially, a full house in the floating space lab.

For over a week, the 11 stellar roommates bunked together in a place NASA said is the size of a six-room house. The number record of people aboard the ISS is 13 set back in the space shuttle era. Still, French astronaut Thomas Pesquet (ph) from Crew Two, says it was a tight squeeze.

THOMAS PESQUET, CREW TWO (through translator): Six sleeping spots for 11 members of the crew, that means 5 camp out. There are people scattered around the entire module. We try to be mindful. People have been trained on that.

HOLMES (voice-over): Wiggle room will return to the ISS, with the departure of SpaceX Crew One. Astronaut Shannon Walker says she is proud of what her team accomplished since they arrived last November.

SHANNON WALKER, ASTRONAUT: I think about all of the science that we did and the repairs that we made and, boy, did we make some good repairs --


WALKER: -- we got it rewired.


HOLMES (voice-over): Crew One's return is the first night splashdown of the U.S. crewed spacecraft since 1968. But Walker says, her time aboard the space station is something she won't soon forget.

WALKER: What really is going to remain with me is the camaraderie and the friendship and the time that we've spent together. The laughing that we do over dinners, the movie nights that we've had, had truly made this very special.

HOLMES (voice-over): And if any returning astronauts feel a little nostalgic, they only need check out the images posted by Crew Two's Shane Kimbrough for a peek at the Earth's few Earthlings get to see firsthand. Crew One's completed mission is the first of 6 crew rotations to the ISS by NASA and SpaceX. Plans that should keep the ISS a busy place for years to come.


BRUNHUBER: Moviegoers are mourning the loss of a great character actress, who once said she loved the chaotic, loving mess that was her life.


OLYMPIA DUKAKIS, ACTOR, "CLAIREE BELCHER": Here, hit this. Go ahead, M'Lynn, slap her.


"BELCHER": Hit her.


BRUNHUBER (voice-over): Olympia Dukakis could command the screen, here ordering costar Sally Field to slap Shirley MacLaine in "Steel Magnolias." But it was her role as Cher's mother in the 1987 film "Moonstruck" that won her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

She's appeared in dozens of films and on Broadway and TV. Her family said Olympia Dukakis died at 89 after many months of failing health.


BRUNHUBER: Great actress.

Well, that wraps this hour of CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Kim Brunhuber. For our viewers in the United States and Canada, "NEW DAY" is just ahead. For everyone else, it's "Road to the Future."