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India Scrambles for Oxygen as Daily Cases Stay at 300K+; CDC: 245+ Million Covid Vaccine Doses Administered in U.S.; U.S. Sending Medical Supplies, Aid to India; Taliban Temporarily Take Control of Afghan Army Base; Biden Administration Seeks to Reshape U.S. Standing Abroad; Funeral for Andrew Brown to be Held in Coming Hours; Four Dead After Boat Capsizes Off California Coast; Criticism Growing Over Handling of Mount Meron Tragedy. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired May 3, 2021 - 04:00   ET



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and all around the world. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM, and I'm Rosemary Church.

Just ahead, India in turmoil. The country is in need of COVID vaccines to battle the pandemic in the long run, and it's desperate for the basic tools to save lives right now.

As U.S. troops begin to leave Afghanistan, we get a reminder of the Taliban's strength and determination.

And as a suspected smuggling boat overturns off the coast of California, killing at least four.

Thanks for being with us.

Well, India is hurtling toward 20 million COVID cases as it recorded more than 300,000 cases a day for the 12th consecutive day. The country also reported more than 3,400 deaths Monday. As Indians battle to get much needed medical oxygen. People are scrambling to get vaccinated around the country. But in some states vaccination drives have been pushed back due to a shortage of shots. Several regions have imposed lockdowns and restrictions including the capital, New Delhi, where a lockdown has been extended until May 10th.

And CNN's Anna Coren is following this story for us from Hong Kong. She joins us now live. Good to see you, Anna. So oxygen is, of course, one of the greatest needs right now along with medication and then of course vaccines. What's the latest on supplies arriving from around the world and of course the situation on the ground?

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sure. More than 36 countries, Rosemary, have pledged aid for India, and that is trickling in from the U.S., from the U.K., from France. And you're talking about oxygen generators, concentrators, cylinders, all the necessary equipment. But this is a drop in the ocean. They need so much. They need it now. They needed it yesterday. People are still dying. And on the weekend, Rosemary, another eight people died because the

hospital they were in, in New Delhi, the capital, ran out of oxygen. The high court, the supreme court has intervened, saying that the central and state governments have to have a buffer stock of oxygen supply. They've also told the government that they need to rectify the shortages in New Delhi, the capital, immediately because this is becoming a joke. This is becoming a farce. This is the capital of India, and they are running out of oxygen.

You mentioned vaccine supply, and there has been acute shortage of that across the country. And yes, there have been states and cities that have had to delay the rollout program. Good news -- some good news. In Delhi today, they started rolling out that vaccine program for people over the age of 18. And they say they will continue as long as the vaccine supply comes in. So perhaps a little bit of good news there -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: Yes, and we'll take it wherever we can, of course. Anna Coren bringing us the latest on what's happening from India from her vantage point there in Hong Kong. Many thanks.

Well the U.S. is among many other countries sending much needed medical supplies to India. Anita Dunn, a senior adviser to U.S. President Joe Biden, explained the aid efforts under way.


ANITA DUNN, SR. ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: We also had our first aid flights to India land there on Friday. They will continue. We are getting them essential products that they need urgently -- oxygen, PPE. It's a global health crisis. And unfortunately what is going on in India is something that, you know, we have to worry about for the rest of the world as well.


CHURCH: Meanwhile, here in the U.S., getting more people vaccinated has been a major concern for health experts.


According to the CDC, more than 245 million vaccine doses have been administered, but the number of new shots administered has been declining in recent weeks.

Joining me now is Dr. Amy Compton-Phillips. She is the chief clinical officer for Providence Health System. Thank you so much doctor for talking with us and for all that you do.


CHURCH: So more than 245 million doses of the COVID vaccine have been administered across the U.S., and the nation is nearing the point where supply will outstrip demand, but still leaving about 25 percent of Americans refusing to get the shot. Is the CDC giving these more hesitant individuals enough incentive to get out and receive the vaccine? Should the CDC be relaxing more restrictions to show how life can return to normal if most of us are fully vaccinated?

COMPTON-PHILLIPS: You know, I think starting to release restrictions is really helpful as well as thinking about the different mechanisms to get the vaccine out to people that are a little hesitant or don't find it as convenient to get down to a mass vaccination site. So making it really easy, getting it into doctors' offices, getting it very highly available at pharmacies and drugstores and the places that people go all the time. I had one of my nieces got hers at a brew pub. You know, but really being able to get vaccines into locations where people are is going to help reduce that capacity, the barriers that people are having to getting vaccines today.

CHURCH: And of course with all these excess COVID vaccines, is it time for the U.S. to start sending more doses overseas to try to prevent this pandemic getting out of control because India and South America are driving global surges of COVID cases right now. India hitting a record 400,000 new cases on Saturday.

COMPTON-PHILLIPS: Well, there's certainly capacity, particularly for things like the AstraZeneca vaccine, which we have not approved yet here in the U.S., but we have some stockpiled. And so starting thinking about how we can share that out with the rest of the world that does have it approved would be really helpful.

That said, it's not only vaccines that places like India need. It really is oxygen concentrators. It's PPE. It's the things that we needed back a year ago when we were worried about getting spiking cases and we were talking about flattening the curve. India is back there at this point that they have to be able to flatten their curve, and vaccines are not going to be the only way India gets out of the mess it's in at the moment.

CHURCH: And, doctor, how concerned are you that the Indian COVID variant will enter the United States and perhaps infect those Americans who haven't yet received their vaccine and ultimately increase the chances of the variant becoming too strong for the current COVID vaccines?

COMPTON-PHILLIPS: It is absolutely a risk. When the virus is circulating anywhere in the globe out of control, it means there's lots and lots and lots of copies of the virus being made. And the more copies of the virus that are made, the more chances there are for a vaccine variant -- a virus variant that could outstrip our vaccine. And so we as an entire planet really need to work together to get the viral replication under control so we can get behind -- you know, get this entire pandemic behind us.

CHURCH: Dr. Amy Compton-Phillips, thank you so much as always for talking with us.

COMPTON-PHILLIPS: Thank you, Rosemary.

CHURCH: An army base in Afghanistan is again under the military's control after briefly falling into the hands of the Taliban. Insurgents took the base south of Kabul, which belongs to the Afghan national army. It comes as the U.S. ramps up efforts to remove its troops by September 11th.

And CNN's Nick Paton Walsh joins me now from London with more on this. Good to see you, Nick. So how was it able to happen, and what does it signal might occur when U.S. troops complete their withdrawal by September 11th?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Yes. I mean, Rosemary, none of this should be an enormous surprise to be honest. We've seen periodically over the past years the Taliban rise in ascendancy on the battlefield, take military positions, often get kicked out as a result of U.S. air strikes. It's not entirely clear which caused this base to briefly be out of the hands of the Afghan army, or what cause. In fact the Taliban to have to later retreat. But we're going to see episodes like this happening much more frequently sadly, I think, in the months ahead as an inevitable consequence of the U.S. deciding to withdraw.

At the same time, the same weekend, U.S. troops finally removed their last vestiges from a camp down in the south of the country, Hell, man, the camp called Camp Leatherneck, would have been various different guises names over the past 20 years.


The British used to call it Camp Bastion, handed that over to the Afghan army permanently.

And the broad question now, as expressed by the U.S. chief of staff Mark Milley at the weekend returning from Hawaii, exactly whether or not this goes to the worst possible version of events or a better one where the Afghan army manage to hold control of some parts of the country, namely the city centers.

It's fairly clear that a lot of rural Afghan is now under Taliban sway. The question is so much of the population lives inside city centers that are still held by the government. Does that change in the months ahead? Well, the Taliban are often referred to as a homogeneous kind of insurgency with a unified leadership, but that increasingly not the case if you look at some of the episodes we see across the country. There are younger heads or parts of the insurgency who have different ideas.

The broader question for the months ahead is, is there a chance for some kind of negotiated settlement? That's the broad plank on which the U.S. frankly stood as it said it was absolutely leaving by September the 11th. And it's something frankly that the Taliban have pulled out from under them. They don't seem interested at this stage in a negotiated settlement. They were already supposed to be meeting with Afghan officials and U.S. officials in Istanbul to talk about a renewed settlement. That hasn't happened. The Taliban have said they are not interested in doing that.

And so we are sadly going to see, I think, in the months ahead an intensification of violence in Afghanistan as they make good on their promise to do whatever they feel is necessary given that the U.S. has not withdrawn fully by March 1st. That was -- sorry, May 1st -- that was two days ago. And that was the date stipulated by the agreement signed by the former Trump administration when it made a deal with the Taliban, saying they'd pull all their troops out by.

So a lot is going to continue to move here. The broader question is how much of the country can the Afghan security forces hang on to? Do they lose some city centers? Kabul seems totally invulnerable for now, but there is of course this issue of whether a negotiated settlement becomes something the Taliban feels they'd like to enter into once they're in a position of greater military strength on the battlefield and also to quite what the U.S. does as it withdraws.

President Biden's speech held out the possibility they might counterattack if they or their partners were set upon during this withdrawal period and if the U.S. of course finds itself threatened during that time, we may see some U.S. action. But this slow march sadly of the Taliban through various parts of the country is something we're like to see more of in the months ahead -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right, our Nick Paton Walsh bringing us the very latest live from London. We appreciate that.

Well the Biden administration is looking to show the world America is here to stay as a major player on the world stage. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in London right now. He's there for talks as part of the first face to face meetings of G7 foreign ministers in more than two years. Both U.S. and British officials have raised concerns over China and Russia. In an interview with CBS's "60 Minutes," Blinken says the U.S. will defend its interests abroad against any threat.


ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Our purpose is not to contain China, to hold it back, to keep it down. It is to uphold this rules- based order that China is posing a challenge to. Anyone who poses a challenge to that order, we're going to stand up and defend it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's China's goal?

BLINKEN: I think that over time, China believes that it can be and should be and will be the dominant country in the world.


CHURCH: CNN's international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson joins me now live from London. Good to see you, Nic. So China and Russia clearly the top of the agenda here. What is expected out of those talks?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: I think we can really put Russia -- rather, China, right at the top of the agenda. I mean look at the lineup at the G7. The G7, as we know is the gathering of this sort of economically most powerful democratic nations. But the invitees list gives us a real clue to the focus of what they hope to achieve here,. Invited along is Australia, China, South Korea, South Africa also there as well. And the chair of the ASEAN nations at the moment as well. That's the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

This is important when you look at those countries that are coming because so many of them are in that sort of Indo-Pacific region around China. That's important for the United States, important for that narrative of the United States working with its allies, with democratic partners who support the global world order, the rules- based world order as it is today. Respecting human rights, not engaging in intellectual property theft, all these allegations that are leveled at China.


So this morning Secretary Blinken meeting with the Japanese foreign minister, South Korean foreign minister, the Brunei's foreign minister as well, before meeting with the British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Dominic Raab this afternoon. That meeting, again, China on the agenda, and Dominic Raab had words to say about that just this weekend.


DOMINIC RAAB, BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: We want a constructive relationship with China, but on things whether it's intellectual property theft or standing up for human rights in Hong Kong and Xinjian. Obviously, we're going to be clear on our values and Russia as well. I think we've seen obviously with the Novichok attack and the imprisonment of Alexey Navalny, and the saber rattling on the border with Ukraine and all of these areas, we want to be absolutely firm.


ROBERTSON (on camera): Well another thing that will be on the agenda at the G7 and that is women's rights and trying to enable women's rights around the world. $15 billion being put aside for that, the aspiration to try to help 40 million girls get into education, get into sort of 12 years of education and to have 20 million girls under the age of 10 able to read. So some lofty aspirations, but really the big issue that's going to dominate the agenda is definitely China -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right, we'll see what comes of it. Nic Robertson bringing us the very latest there from London. Many thanks.

And coming up here on CNN NEWSROOM.


CROWD CHANTING: No good cops in a racist system.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No good cops in a racist system.


CHURCH: Demands are growing for police to release the body cam footage in the killing of Andrew Brown. We will find out what his family's saying just ahead. [04:20:00]


CHURCH: Just hours from now, the family of Andrew Brown Jr. will lay him to rest without many of the answers they're seeking in his death. Brown was shot on April 21st as deputies were trying to execute an arrest warrant. Civil rights activists are demanding transparency and accountability.



CROWD CHANTING: Say his name!


CROWD CHANTING: Say his name!


CHURCH: On Sunday, the family led a march for criminal justice reform. CNN's Natasha Chen has more.


NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Protesters marched Sunday afternoon starting from here at the waterfront all the way to Andrew Brown's house where he was shot and killed by sheriff's deputies on April 21st. Then they moved on to the Pasquotank County Sheriff's Office, all the while demanding transparency.

At this point family members and the Brown family attorney tell me that only two family members have actually seen the 20-second footage from the body camera that was shown to them last week. At this point a judge has said that the family may see more body camera footage in the coming days but that it should not be released to the public at this time.

We talk to a cousin and an aunt of Andrew Brown, Jr. who told us how difficult this moment has been.

LILLIE BROWN CLARK, ANDREW BROWN, JR.'S AUNT: I just don't understand, you know, what are they trying to accomplish. What is the purpose of having the video, what is the purpose of having taxpayers pay for body cameras if they're not going to be seen? I think we are grieving but we are doing what we have to do because of the way the things happen. We have to be here. We have to support. We have to protest. We know that we have a long road ahead. This is literally just the beginning.

CHEN: The Brown family walked at the front of Sunday's march. At the same time there was a public viewing for Andrew Brown's body. And there will be a funeral held Monday at noon at the Fountain of Life Church where Reverend Al Sharpton is expected to speak.

Natasha Chen, CNN, Elizabeth City, North Carolina.


CHURCH: At least four people are dead after a suspected smuggling boat capsized off the coast of San Diego, California. Authorities say there were about 30 people onboard when the vessel crashed against a reef on Sunday. Most people made it to shore, but six had to be rescued from the water. Nearly two dozen have been taken to the hospital. San Diego lifeguard lieutenant Rick Romero spoke to CNN about the chaos at the site of the accident.


LT. RICK ROMERO, SAN DIEGO FIRE & RESCUE LIFEGUARD: I was one of the first responders on-scene, and it was a big mess along the coastline. There were people actively drowning, getting pulled out by rip currents. There were people on the base of the shoreline there. Did not -- at first support there was bystanders doing CPR down below.


CHURCH: U.S. Customs and Border Patrol say they'd been beefing up patrol operations after a recent increase in maritime smuggling attempts.


JEFF STEPHENSON, U.S. CUSTOM & BORDER PROTECTION: We're putting more resources out on the water to interdict vessels like this, and we announced it in advance to try to deter as much as we could. To kind send the message to smugglers, the sea -- the ocean is inherently unsafe. The reality is crossing the border illegally is unsafe no matter the method, especially at sea. With water temperatures being what they are and as the lifeguard described, high surf, it's a very dangerous scenario, and the smugglers really just don't care about the people they're exploiting.


CHURCH: Authorities say the two suspected smugglers onboard will face federal charges.

Well, later today, Israel's Parliament will hold a memorial for the 45 victims killed in a stampede Friday at a religious festival. New video has emerged showing desperate scenes where the stampede happened as the crowd tried to make its way to the exit.


We've also learned that six U.S. citizens were among those killed in the tragedy.

And for more on this, we want to bring in journalist Elliott Gotkine who joins us live from Jerusalem. So Elliott, what more are you learning about what went wrong here and of course the likely ramifications of this tragedy? ELLIOTT GOTKINE, JOURNALIST: Rosemary, well we've just seen this

harrowing video of people just pinned and unable to get out of this stampede, which resulted in the deaths of 45 people. You can hear their pleading and you can see that the pain and despair on their faces as stewards and police officers tried to get them to stop pushing forwards. But it seems they were unable to avoid doing so.

At the same time, we've also learned more details about the victims. At least ten of them were under the age of 18 and perhaps one of the most heartbreaking stories, two brothers, the youngest age 9, Yehoshua Englander, and his 14-year-old brother Moshe Natan were among those who died.

Now, later today there will be a memorial ceremony held here at the Knesset in Jerusalem. After which there will be a debate. Each member of the Knesset will have the chance if they want to, to speak for up to three minutes. And it will also be the first opportunity for some of the ultra-orthodox lawmakers to address criticisms that they faced for allegedly being involved or in some way complicit with this event that took place in the north of Israel.

At the same time, the leader of the opposition, Yair Lapid, is likely to officially call for a state committee of inquiry. And I just want to give some final thought about the backdrop here, which is of course we're still in a sensitive situation in terms of the election. The Prime Minister Netanyahu's mandate to try to form a coalition is almost done. So politicians may be inclined to either stick their necks out more to try to curry more favor with some parties or perhaps temper their responses when they have a chance to speak in order not to offend someone that they might need as a political partner -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right. Elliott Gotkine joining us from Jerusalem with the latest on that tragedy, appreciate it.

Infighting and bullying within the U.S. Republican Party is tearing it apart at the seams. Why they've suddenly turned on even high-ranking party members. That's when we return.