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CNN NEWSROOM

Biden Pitches Ambitious Infrastructure & Family Plans; Nearly a Third of U.S. Fully Vaccinated as Pace of Vaccinations Drops; Gas Prices Rise Amid U.S. Travel Surge; India Deals with Oxygen Shortage Amid COVID Crisis; DHS May Partner with Private Firms for Domestic Terror Surveillance; 4 Migrant Families Separated at Border to be Reunited Tomorrow. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired May 3, 2021 - 13:30   ET

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


[13:30:00]

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But now people over 65 years of age, over 80 percent, have now been vaccinated, and 66 percent fully vaccinated.

And there's virtually no difference between white, black, Hispanic, Asian-American.

And so because what we've done, under some criticism, is we have expanded access to vaccinations to familiar places, 40,000 drugstores now, also all of the community health centers that are available all across the nation. Mobile units going out.

And it's getting better and better and better. So that's why we're leading the world.

When I got elected, I said, in the first 100 days, we'd get 100 million people vaccinated. I was wrong. We got 230 million people vaccinated.

(APPLAUSE)

BIDEN: I think --

(APPLAUSE)

BIDEN: I think you'll see -- and there's a debate, you know, and I'll end with this. There's a debate into what constitutes herd immunity. Is it 70 percent of the population, is it 68 percent, is it 81 percent?

The point is that by the end of the summer -- right now, every single person 16 years or older doesn't have to wait in line, can show up and get a vaccination now.

My plea to everyone, get vaccinated now, please.

Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: You just heard from the president in Portsmouth, Virginia, today selling his plans to the American people, $4 trillion worth of plans when it comes to infrastructure, education, early childhood education as well as childcare.

And you heard him really pushing how he plans to pay for it, by taxing the wealthy, saying it's about making sure everybody pays their fair share so America can be competitive moving forward.

He was also asked questions about the coronavirus. We're tracking that today. The number of cases are dropping but so are vaccination rates. So will we ever hit herd immunity?

Plus, travel surging to record levels as gas prices rise. And the experts warn it could get worse.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:36:26]

CABRERA: Welcome back.

The U.S. hit a milestone. Nearly a third of the country is now fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. And new COVID infections are down or holding steady in most states. But vaccination rates are also slowing down.

CNN's senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, is with us now.

Elizabeth, should we be worried?

DR. ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think the climbing rate of vaccination is worrisome. In other words, the people who want it got it, or are getting it.

But what about the people who don't want it? It remains to be seen whether they can be convinced.

So let's take a look at some of these numbers. So, as you mentioned, about a third, nearly a third of the U.S. population has been vaccinated, nearly 105 million people.

In addition, 147 million people are partially vaccinated. They've gotten one of their two shots.

But look at this decline, Ana. A decline of almost 5 percent in the rates at which people are getting fully vaccinated. That's the past two weeks, compared to the previous two weeks.

You don't want to see that number go down. You want to see that number go up.

Let's take a look across the country. Ana, you mentioned this. If you look at the yellow, that's half the states. Their case numbers of COVID-19 are holding steady. The green one, 17 states, those numbers are going down. That's great.

The orange ones, seven states, those numbers are going up.

So headed in the right direction. Still, important to remember, more than 600 people are dying. Approximately 600 people dying every day of COVID-19 in the U.S.

So this is not over. But headed in the right direction -- Ana?

CABRERA: There are increasing infections in the younger populations, that's the population that needs to get vaccinated.

Elizabeth Cohen, thank you.

Air travel in the U.S. is hitting a new pandemic record over the weekend. The TSA saying more than 1.6 million people went through the country's airports yesterday.

If you're hitting the road, well, that's another story. Brace yourself because you're going to pay for that.

CNN's Pete Muntean has more on this.

Pete, fill us in on all things travel right now.

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Ana, we've been talking so much about that pent-up travel demand because of the pandemic. When you talk about that, you can't not talk about road trips.

The price for a gallon of gas has shot up about 60 percent since this time last year. And we're learning that gas stations may have a hard time just getting gas.

What's o interesting is that we're learning from industry groups that the tanker trucks that bring gas to stations, like this one, about 25 percent of those are now parked.

The number has gone up in the pandemic because the number of drivers has gone down. It's a highly qualified job. More retirements, more regulation on them.

You know, I just talked to a big trucking company in Oklahoma, 800 drivers in 15 states. And that company tells me it has doubled its recruiting budget to try and stem off this problem on the horizon.

Here's what they told me.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOLLY MCCORMICK, GROENDYKE TRANSPORT, NATIONAL TANK TRUCK CARRIERS: People are wanting to get out. And, trust me, everyone's tired of having to stay at home. So I think, once more and more people get out, that's only going to exacerbate the problem.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MUNTEAN: So many more people are flying now as well. You know, the TSA says it screened 1.62 million people across the country at airports yesterday.

That is a new record in the pandemic. That number nearly 10 times higher than where we were a year ago. So airlines are rebounding, pulling more airplanes out of storage.

And now they are filling every seat on every airline. Delta Airlines was our last airline to cap capacity on board. Its policy now done. It ended on Saturday -- Ana?

[13:40:03]

CABRERA: Pete, thank you. I see $3.09 behind you. We know on the west coast, in parts of California, they're already seeing $4 a gallon. So keeping it all in check.

Thank you for bringing us this update.

There are new concerns about whether the Olympics will go on as scheduled. We are learning six people working on the torch relay course for the Tokyo summer games have tested positive for coronavirus.

The Tokyo Olympic Committee says all six were performing traffic control duties and they were all wearing masks.

We're just over 80 days away from the opening ceremony and Japan's vaccination rate is far behind the U.S. But for now, Japan seems determined to go ahead with the summer games set to begin on July 23rd.

In India, the situation remains absolutely dire. The explosion in coronavirus cases there has led to an oxygen crisis. Hospitals are running out. And people are dying waiting in lines like this for oxygen.

CNN's Sam Kiley has the latest from a makeshift clinic in New Delhi.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Ana, I'm joining now from a dusty back street, an improvised oxygen clinic run by a local NGO.

And without these cylinders, people would have been in a very, very sorry state. The tragedy now is that all of these cylinders, bar one at the end there, are now empty.

So they've been turning away dozens and dozens of desperate residents of this city, the capital city, I should stress.

There's an elderly lady here who's using an oxygen concentrator. That doesn't deliver the level of oxygen she really needs but there's no other alternative for her. Other patients have simply left because there's no point being here

because there's no more oxygen.

Now, the people running this improvised facility are saying that they are hoping to get deliveries from 1,200 miles away, from Mumbai.

A lot of these cylinders, as I just pointed out, have come from 500 miles away themselves.

That is the extent of the collapse of the logistics in this country even though, Ana, there's been substantial donations from the international community.

The United States giving 100 million from the Biden administration, $100 million, huge amounts of equipment, of concentrators.

Facilities to produce oxygen are being sent into India but, for now, they're simply not able to respond sufficiently well -- Ana?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CABRERA: Great reporting.

Sam Kiley, thank you.

Domestic terrorism is on the rise and, right now, the Biden administration is mulling one tactic to help track the extremists online. But could it go too far?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:47:35]

CABRERA: The Biden administration is considering a new idea to monitor domestic extremists online using outside firms to help track extremist chatter.

That would mean an expanded ability to gather intelligence and increase surveillance of groups like the Proud Boys or the Oath Keepers.

Right now, federal authorities are limited in how they can monitor citizens online, only browsing through unprotected information on social media and other open platforms.

So Juliette Kayyem will join us now. She's a CNN national security analyst. She's also a former assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security.

Juliette, do you think this is a smart move?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I don't think it's a smart move. And I don't think it's necessarily well thought out. We may be hearing about an internal debate.

First of all, it's not a smart move because January 6th was not an intelligence failure. The rise of white supremacy was not an intelligence failure.

Often, after things happen, any government likes to claim, oh, we had no idea. We knew exactly what was going to happen.

So at first blush, is there actually really a need?

The second issue is, of course, the idea that the government, domestic intelligence agencies would direct outside firms is not adequate and not appropriate.

But if those firms have public information that they're willing to put out to everyone, the government should be totally free in reading it and determining various threats.

So I think it sounds like it's a policy that's being internally debated.

If -- I think the right way forward is, DHS has appropriate authorities. This was not an intelligence failure.

This was a failure of execution and preparing for something that a lot of people in government under the Trump administration didn't want to believe was going to happen or were perpetuating it happening.

CABRERA: But to be clear, this idea involves relying on researchers who already are monitoring such activity online.

And DHS officials say that any of the materials provided to them, to officials would consist of broad summaries or analysis of narratives that are emerging.

So it wouldn't be used to target specific individuals. So that's sort of what they're saying in terms of the criticism about whether this is impeding --

KAYYEM: Right.

CABRERA: -- on privacy issues.

But is there harm in that if they have more information to work with?

[13:50:01]

KAYYEM: No. There's no harm if that's information that the organization or that the private entity was willing to do -- was doing anyway.

Think of a research arm at a university, and where I'm at. They're doing something. We're investigating something. We're looking at information and we put it out to the public and the government to assess.

The question is: Is DHS going to be allowed to direct what an organization is doing, which would mean they can pick not just the bad groups that we view as Proud Boys. But in future governments. So future administrations, groups that we might not view as bad, like, you know, or ones that are try trying to undermine the government.

So -- I'm all I'm -- like this across administrations. I worked in Democratic administrations. Which is everyone wants to change the law after something happens and give government authority.

Can we take a deep breath and realize actually what happened? Which was people on the outside, people in the media, people following this online all knew what was happening leading up to January 6th, let alone the last four years.

Until government makes a case that it was hindered by legal authorities, maybe we should get our act together and prepare for, as we are -- and prepare for, you know, the years ahead of white supremacist extremism.

CABRERA: If the problem isn't access to the information, how do you get ahead of it? How do you get ahead of situations like we saw on January 6th?

And perhaps, if there's an idea that is bubbling online, wouldn't you, in the intel community, want to know that as soon as possible?

KAYYEM: Yes, you would. I mean, look, our -- how can I say -- our homeland is insecure for a good reason often, which is we do have privacy rights. We do have free expression rights. Even the horrendous people who you wouldn't want over for a beer.

So what you want is a system in which there's a triggering event that would allow government to go from just knowing that really bad people are thinking really bad things to actually planning.

Those authorities reside not -- not in the intelligence agency but, of course, at the FBI in terms of the ability to open up an investigation.

So the way it should work honestly is DHS is assessing threats throughout the homeland, through resources they have, plus also public information, telling state and locals how they should think about the threats.

And when the threats get specific, you move over to the FBI and make sure they can make a case.

It's not ideal in the accepts, like, yes, sure you could lock up a lot more people. But we have the homeland that we got. And it's worked relatively well a long time.

And so, you know, whether a Democrat is in office or a Republican is in office, we should be wary of expanding domestic intelligence capabilities.

CABRERA: Juliette Kayyem, it's always good to see you. Thank you.

KAYYEM: Thank you. Talk to you soon.

CABRERA: They were separated at the U.S./Mexico border years ago. But CNN is learning four migrant families will be reunited this week after President Biden's executive order.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:58:02]

CABRERA: We are seeing some small progress this week in the effort to reunite migrant families separated at the U.S./Mexico border.

The Biden administration has been trying to track down the family members of hundreds of children separated during the Trump administration. And tomorrow, it's expected that four families will finally be reunited.

CNN's Priscilla Alvarez joins us now.

Priscilla, what can you tell us about this reunion and the ongoing effort to try to make families whole again?

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN REPORTER: Ana, President Joe Biden condemned the Trump-era policy that led to the separation of thousands of families at the U.S./Mexico border. Now, his administration is taking its initial steps to start to reunify the families.

As you mentioned, the Homeland Security secretary announcing this morning that four migrant families who were separated at the U.S./Mexico border under the Trump administration will be reunified this week.

Now, the secretary did not disclose too many details about these families to protect privacy. But he gave two examples.

One, a mother from Honduras who was separated from her children at the border in late 2017. And another, a mother in Mexico -- from Mexico separated from her children in late 2017.

So two mothers who have not seen their children in more than three years will be reunited tomorrow.

Now, all of this stems from that task force that Biden set up only weeks into office to identify and reunify the families.

Here is what the secretary had to say about the task force this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: President Biden said we must reunite these families. He directed the creation of a task force of multiple departments and agencies in an all-of-government effort. We have hundreds of left.

UNIDENTIFIED NEWS ANCHOR: How many kids left? MAYORKAS: We have hundreds of families left and we will reunite them

all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALVAREZ: So, Ana, the administration has its work cut out for them as they sift through thousands of records to continue those reunifications in the months to come.

[13:59:59]

CABRERA: Hundreds of children and families left to be reunited.

Priscilla Alvarez, thank you for the ongoing reporting on all those issues around immigration.

And thank you all at home for joining me. I will see you back here tomorrow at 1:00 Eastern. Follow me on Twitter, @AnaCabrera.