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"Out-Of-Control" Chinese Rocket Weighing 22 Tons Hurtling Toward Earth; Gaetz, Greene Hold "America First" Rally Amid Scandals; Soccer Legend, Brandi Chastain, Weighs In On Pandemic Olympics; Daily Average Of COVID-19 Vaccinations Drops Below Two Million; Pfizer Applies For Full FDA Approval Of COVID Vaccine; At Least 30 Killed, 52 Wounded In Blast Near Girls' School In Kabul. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired May 8, 2021 - 15:00   ET



JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Jim Acosta in Washington.

The sky is not falling, but something really big is falling out of it, and it's happening right now. A massive piece of a Chinese rocket that left Earth last night, last week, I should say, is coming back down as soon as today, and instead of crashing in a predetermined area, it's falling out of control. This isn't a small piece either. It's about three school buses long and it weighs 22 tons.

Exactly where it will hit and when is the million dollar question. NASA is watching it and tracking it. Telescopes all over the world are pointed at it, even the U.S. military is paying attention.

Well, carefully, this is what a museum curator in Japan says is the rocket booster, this is fascinating to watch in real time, hurtling across the sky at 3:00 a.m. Japan time. And this is what everyone wants to know right now, who down here on Earth is at risk and who is safe at this point.

According to the European Space Agency, anyone and anything in the red part of this map is in a potential impact zone.

And our Pentagon correspondent Oren Liebermann is here in Washington. And he is watching it as well.

Oren, everyone telling us that the chance of this doing harm on the ground is very low, but should we be just a little bit nervous right now? What do you think?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, maybe the tiniest bit. It is very, very low, but it isn't zero. You saw the risk zone. It's not going to hit all of those places, of course, but based on what we are seeing and based on when this is expected to reenter the atmosphere, and then, of course, crash, it is going to hit somewhere.

The odds are, it will be somewhere in the ocean, right? Seventy percent of the earth is covered in water, but the rest is covered in land, but even if that, most of that is uninhabited, there is the possibility that this lands somewhere uninhabited.

The problem is that even if we're getting a better idea of the when, the where, it's still a very difficult question the answer. Right now, the Americans and the Europeans and the group called the Aerospace Organization are narrowing in on the time of when it is going to re- enter the atmosphere, and it looks to be around 10:00 or 11:00 tonight. But that comes with a plus/minus three hours.

So, we're looking for anything from late this evening, to early, early tomorrow. And given how fast this 22-ton piece of space junk is moving, even a few minutes off means hundreds if not thousands of miles. So, for example, in the two minutes we're talking here, that's 600 miles this moves. So, it's incredibly difficult right now to get that idea of where.

This is, as you pointed out, 22 tons. It will burn up mostly as it comes through the atmosphere at incredible speeds, but not completely. That is why this is a big question here, and the question of where it lands as we narrowing on the when.

We are expecting another round of updates. The current U.S. estimate on where this might reenter is somewhere in the southern Indian ocean. But as we get narrower and narrower of the time frame of when it will reenter, we'll get a better idea of where it's possible.

Right now, the possibilities of where it might reenter is way out there across the board, so it's difficult to pinpoint a location and say, this is the spot that should be worried. But with another round of updates, we'll get a better idea of when it might reenter and we're slowly narrowing it on the where as well, Jim.

ACOSTA: Joining me now is retired NASA astronaut and veteran of four space flights, Captain Scott Kelly.

I think we need to tell people out front this is not Bruce Willis and "Armageddon." We're not in that kind of situation right now.

But on a scale of 1-10, how worried should people be at this point, do you think, Scott?

CAPT. SCOTT KELLY, RETIRED NASA ASTRONAUT: I don't think people should be worried at all. I mean, the odds of it hitting an individual person, you have the likelier chance to win a lottery, so maybe buy a lottery ticket instead.

But, you know, it could hit somebody but that -- the odds of that somebody being you is very, very small.

ACOSTA: And we're talking about a chunk of debris that's ten stories tall, weighs 22 tons. I mean, this is not small piece of rocket machinery here. And I know parts of it will burn up in the atmosphere, but still what kind of damage could this do? We have seen this before and crashed into houses and that sort of thing.

KELLY: Well, it could damage property. I mean, that happened with "Columbia" in certain case, nothing too serious, but when "Columbia" re-entered the atmosphere and broke up over Texas, there was small amounts of property damage. So, you know, it's possible certainly if you got hit with, you know, a big piece of this that could do some serious damage. But, again, you know, I think it's very unlikely.

ACOSTA: And Pentagon, I mean, people have been asking about all the various -- different scenarios here, and the Pentagon has been asked about this. The Pentagon says they won't shoot it down.

What should they do once we know and once officials know where and when it will impact Earth? Are we having any precision, I guess is another question, too. We're not going to be able to pinpoint I guess exactly where this is going to hit.

KELLY: You know, the challenge is with this, you know, with this rocket body is that it is spinning is, and it is not in a controlled manner, so it is kind of hard to predict what the drag is going to be over time. You know, certainly as we get closer to it entering the atmosphere, we will have a better idea, but there is nothing to do to protect for it. I think that if I saw it coming towards Colorado, I would probably go outside to watch.

ACOSTA: All right. Now, of course, this is not the first time that a Chinese rocket or parts of it, the debris has come hurtling back to Earth, and even in the last few years. Why does this keep on happening, Scott, and what's going on there?

KELLY: Yeah, that is the more serious story is that, China seems to be launching these very large rockets or planning to launch more with no way to bring them back in a controlled manner. And that's not something that is normally done. I think that there is even international agreements that dictate that you need to, you know, bring back your space junk if you are going to bring it back in a controlled manner.

So it is something that we need to pressure, you know, China on to do this the right way, which is to, you know, not endanger people and property on Earth.

ACOSTA: Right. It is a small ask I would think. There is also a larger question here, Scott, in that 9,000 tons of junk orbiting the earth right now, and occasionally the junk can threaten the astronauts at the International Space Station, and you have familiarity with this, and how dangerous can it get?

KELLY: That's a much more serious problem, I think, because, you know, we are continuing to put the space junk in orbit, and you know, sometimes, the countries have been intentionally created more by doing the M.A. satellite test, and it is easier to park it in a graveyard orbit, you know, boost it a few hundred kilometers than from a geo synchronous orbit than bring it back in a controlled way. It is easier and cheaper.

But the issue is that it is going to be in the orbit for millions of years. Sot one of the big risks of going to Mars some day is going through this graveyard orbit, and we're just making the problem worse. Stuff hits space station a lot, fortunately, nothing has penetrated the pressure hull, but satellites are hit, and damage and destroyed, it's a serious problem.

ACOSTA: Just the last few seconds or so that we have you here to talk about this, Scott, as you are watching the maps, and it looks like you have some to maps up behind you in the room here of the 10-plus backdrop that we have here, when you're looking at the maps, when you're looking at how this space junk is falling apart here, and coming towards the earth to make impact, what are you looking at, at this point, and what is helping you determine or guess out where this might land?

KELLY: So, I would not make any kind of educated guess other than the fact that, you know, more than 70 percent of the planet is covered in water, and the biggest piece being the Pacific Ocean, and the biggest body of water. So my guess is that it is going to land in the Pacific Ocean.

ACOSTA: All right. That is the best possible scenario at that point, and this is what I was telling my producers earlier this week, the earth is mostly covered with water. So, we can -- we can take some stock in that.

All right. Commander Scott Kelly, great talking as always. Thanks so much. We appreciate it.

KELLY: Thanks for having me, Jim.

ACOSTA: All right. Good seeing you.

Imagine being entangled in a prostitution and sex trafficking investigation and instead of laying low, you decide to go on national tour? Enter Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz. He is hitting the campaign trail, even making light of his potential legal troubles along the way.




REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): I'm a marked man in Congress. I'm a canceled man in some corners of the Internet. I might be a wanted man by the deep state, but I am a Florida man, and it is good to be home.


ACOSTA: Speaking of that Florida man right there, he may be at the center of a federal sex trafficking investigation, but that's not stopping embattled Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz from traveling the country and peddling the big lie that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump. First up, The Villages in Florida. And right now by his side to kick off their so-called America first tour, hard core Trump supporter, Marjorie Taylor Greene.


REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): Tell me who is your president?

CROWD: Trump!

GREENE: That's my president, too. OK, I just wanted to make sure I was with friends and family and not with Antifa or BLM.

Did anybody in here vote for Joe Biden.


GREENE: Do you guys really think that he won?



ACOSTA: All right. And joining me right now is former congresswoman from Virginia, Barbara Comstock, and CNN political commentator and columnist for "The Bulwark", Amanda Carpenter.

You know, we're all -- I think we were all shaking our heads coming out of that clip out there. Congresswoman, what do you make of the fact Greene and Gaetz felt empowered enough by the base to go on tour together and just that last comment, they were - Marjorie Taylor Greene is asking people, you know, if Joe Biden actually won the election.


I mean, it's just -- I don't know how else to ask the question, except, Congresswoman, please tell us what you think about that?

BARBARA COMSTOCK, FORMER U.S. CONGRESSWOMAN: Well, you know, this is a woman who tragically denied 9/11, and talks about, you know, Jewish space lasers and other insane things. I'm on board of View Pac, which is a Republican group to get women elected. We actively opposed her. We supported her male opponent, something we usually don't do as a Republican women group. That's awful and terrible we thought she was.

But the problem now is with this whole surrender to Trumpism, which is really a surrender to sore loserism. I mean, everything that she and matt are saying is that they are sore losers. They can't get over the fact that they did not win, so they will go into their own la-la land and pretend they won.

But Donald Trump's numbers are shrinking and a new story out today points out, the NRCC isn't telling the Republicans that Trump's numbers are under water in these swing districts that would get Republicans to the majority.

So, hitching the Republican wagon to this clown car of this two, and remember, Matt Gaetz is the one who started the attack on Liz Cheney. So, this is just a nightmare for Republicans, and it's not going to end here if they put blood in the water with going after Liz Cheney.

ACOSTA: And, Amanda, they didn't kick off this tour just anywhere. They did it in Florida at The Villages. I've been to The Villages before. It is a place where Republican candidates love to go. It's a must-stop for Republican candidates running for higher office.

What do you make of that, the fact that they sort of started this, kicked off this tour in the villages?

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean, this is all just a big schtick, and the grift, and, hey, they are having a ton of fun. The whole deal that you can tell from Matt Gaetz is that the more cancelled, the bigger victim you are, the more subject you are to investigations, that is showing how hard core you are, and come join this club, and the only thing that you need to do to get into the club is to say that President Trump is forever the president, Joe Biden never won the election.

I mean, you can just see like this pure tribal politics. They don't care about anything except for rallying around the Trump flag. There is no policy, and there is no principle, but I guess what my concern is that this should be really easy to beat, and that is what Liz Cheney sees. She welcomes this fight, like if this is who we are fighting for the heart and soul for the Republican Party, bring it on.

After January 6, a lot of things broke permanently in the Republican Party. People thought we could move past Trump after he left, he just give out of office and we can reset. But because of the riot that he stoked and his supporters stormed the Capitol, that is a permanent break that cannot be repaired until the people engage in some real reflection as to why that happened. And Liz Cheney, she's going to force that conversation.

ACOSTA: You would think that that would happen, Amanda.

But, Congresswoman, here's how Republican Senator Lindsey Graham sees President Trump factoring in the party going forward. He is not talking about a clean break at all. Let's listen.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I've always liked Liz Cheney, but she's made a determination that the Republican Party can't grow with President Trump. I have determined we can't grow without him.


ACOSTA: What do you think congresswoman?

COMSTOCK: Well, Donald Trump got 46.9 percent in November of 2020, and then, you know, after the insurrection, 56 percent of Americans thought that he should be impeached, so the numbers have gone down. Those NRCC polls are showing that.

And people keep forgetting, too, when he had that big CPAC family gathering down in Florida, it was all of his people, right? It was a father gathering, and when they took the poll, and the poll done by his own pollster who said that he was going to win the presidential election, and when they did a poll of that family gathering he only got 55 percent of the vote that would vote for him again.

So, that's like, you know, if you go home, and say, hey, do you like me, and only 55 percent of the family says yes, that's not good. So even the family, the internal, and the closest circle that you can get realize that he is a polarizing figure who divided the country, and now dividing the party. And when you divide up 46.9, there's no way of dividing it and getting to 50 percent or even getting an electoral majority.

So, this is a disaster so Trumpism is sore loserism. That's what Trumpism is. It's sore loserism. It's unconstitutional. It's divorce from reality as both Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene, you know, are the best examples of.

But the idea that they are still there in the party, there is no action against them by Republicans, but they're attacking Liz Cheney.


And, you know, if you are Elise Stefanik, do you want Matt Gaetz' endorsement? He gave it. That's the kind of endorsement you say, please, get away, do not talk to me, I do not want your endorsement.

ACOSTA: Absolutely. But, Amanda, your former boss Ted Cruz became the latest Republican to head down to Mar-a-Lago, and kiss the ring of the former president, he posted a photo of the two of them having dinner. In response, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who nothing like reminiscing about attempted coups over a bouquet of flowers, it does look like sort of an insurrectionist bromance there, Amanda.

CARPENTER: Listen, all of the possible 2024 contenders are going down there to kiss the ring, because they know that the nomination is Donald Trump's for the taking, and the only way they have any chance of competing in a primary and maybe getting it is if Donald Trump serves them that nomination on a silver platter.

I think this shows a complete lack of imagination, a lack of leadership in trying to figure out what a new coalition could look like. I mean, they're really admitting that they are weak candidates, they are weak leaders, because they cannot figure out a better path to Republican victory than the losing path Donald Trump pursued in 2020.

ACOSTA: All right. Fascinating discussion, and we have to leave it there, but we will have you back on another time.

Amanda Carpenter, former Congresswoman Barbara Comstock, great discussion. Thanks so much. We appreciate it.

And a little sad news to report. Former Barack Obama has just announced that the family's beloved dog Bo has died. Obama writing, quote, Bo tolerated all the fuss that came with being in the White House, a big bark but no bite, loved to jump in the pool in the summer, was unflappable with children, and live for scraps around the dinner table, and had great hair. He was exactly what we needed and more that we ever expected. We will miss him dearly. Obama's got Bo just a month before they move into the White House, and he stayed with the family there through all eight years of the Obama presidency. I remember seeing Bo and Sunny around the White House covering the Obama administration myself, and the dogs were friendly, and come up to us the reporters to pet them from time to time.

So, pretty sad news, sorry to hear about that, Bo passing there, and the Obama family telling us that just a short while ago.

In the meantime, Japan is supposed to hold the Olympics in less than three months. But is it ready? These hospitals are overrun with COVID patients and less than 1 percent of the people there are vaccinated. Calls are now growing to cancel the games.

I will get reaction of what is it like for someone who knows what is it like to train for years and soccer star and Olympics gold medalist Brandi Chastain, there she is right there, on the field, where else would she be?

She joins me next.



ACOSTA: With less than three months to go until the Summer Olympics, Japanese leaders have once again extended the state of emergency in Tokyo, as the country battles a fourth wave of coronavirus. Right now, less than one percent of Japan's population is vaccinated and with hospitals overrun, questions are mounting over how the games can be held safely.

An online petition calling for them to be canceled has already gathered nearly 200,000 signatures. And my next guest knows all about competing on a global stage. You know her from one of the most iconic shots and all of sports, there is right there, soccer legend, Brandi Chastain, kicked the winning goal that gives Americans the victory in the 1999 FIFA World's Cup Final, Women's World Cup Final.

She's also a two-time Olympic gold medalist, we can't forget those images at all.

Brandi, thanks so much for joining us. She's joining us now from California.

Brandi, great to see you. We appreciate your time so much.

If you were an athlete, an Olympic athlete this year, would you feel comfortable flying to Tokyo and competing with that country still trying to get a grip on this pandemic?

BRANDI CHASTAIN, 2-TIME OLYMPIC GOLD-MEDALIST SOCCER PLAYER: You know, I thought this over for so long and for so hard, and I think I'm landing in the absolutely, I would want to be going. The lifetime commitment that it takes to be ready for an Olympic Games is no small feat. What I do know is that the IOC, all the NGOs and the athletes are

doing every single thing in their control. And we always talk about control in athletics. You know, what you can and can't control, and I'm sure that they were all doing exactly what is needed for them to be safe.

Will there be questions about it? Of course. This isn't a really unanswerable time, right? Should we or should we not go? But I think everybody is doing their best to make sure it will be safe.

ACOSTA: Yeah, and you recently tweeted about getting your vaccine, and saying that stepping up to take this shot will win me the ability to hug my granddaughters for the first time since the younger has been born and more than a year, and many things have been missed, but the wait is worth it to be safe. This shot is definitely as impactful as 1999.

First of all, Brandi, I can't believe your grandmother is just putting that to the side for the moment.


But in terms of the Olympics and the 11,000 athletes traveling in to Japan at this point, you know, vaccines are encouraged but not mandated. Should they be? What do you think?

BRANDI CHASTAIN, SOCCER PLAYER & TWO-TIME OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST: You know, gosh, I'm proud to be an American where we have liberties and freedoms, where we get to make choices.

What I do know, having lived in Japan for a year, playing there in the mid '90s, is that they're quite accustomed to wearing masks and being safe. That's a part of the culture.

So I feel comfortable and confident that they understand how severe and serious this virus is.

And that everybody who is involved with the IOC, I am obviously -- would be hoping as an athlete, they, too, are doing everything manageable to make sure that the protocols needed upon entry into the country, about staying there, about how to migrate around whether there's a village or not, you know, is safe.

The vaccine decision, you know, it was my choice. It was what was going to allow me to be closer to my family. And I don't pretend to make the decisions for anybody.

But what I do know is that the Olympics are a great -- they're the glue that keeps people together, that brings people together to celebrate through athletics. We have great opportunity to be - to see the globe as one team.

And if we can do --

ACOSTA: Right.

CHASTAIN: -- what's necessary and possible to make everybody safe, that's what we should be doing.

ACOSTA: You're setting a great example there. No question about it.

Everyone has endured their version of pandemic life give us the athlete's perspective. You're out there on a soccer field right now with your team.


ACOSTA: What's it been like coping with this? Athletes spending their whole lives training for something only to have the games postponed last year and now 11 weeks to go from now.

What is it like for an athlete? What's going through an athlete's mind right now?

CHASTAIN: There's a lot of things that could be going through their minds.

And of course, one thing we learned with the U.S. women's national team is that we must be agile and flexible.

The game will never be the same twice. We have to adjust to problems presented, whether we see them coming or not.

I think athletes are more likely than not to be able to endure moments like that.

Now, for some of the athletes, time is of the essence. It could be your only chance. It could have been your only chance last year.

And so there are some hardships that will take place. And I feel very deeply for the athletes because of the commitment.

But again, sports is not a guarantee. We don't know who will win the game before it starts and that's why we play.

And the Olympics is about the spirit of competition. Yes, we all want to win gold and that's the objective of every athlete. But going there to be your best at the time is really what it is about.

ACOSTA: Yes. Spectators from overseas are banned from the Tokyo Olympics because of the COVID risks.

How would it have changed the Olympic experience for you, instead of playing in front of tens of thousands of fans, you were playing in a near empty arena? What does that do to the athletes if they play in an empty stadium?

CHASTAIN: That's a really tough question to answer because, although I did grow up anonymously in soccer, meaning there weren't big crowds all the time when I played.

But when you get used to having that noise around you and the energy and the excitement and the enthusiasm for your team or the game itself, there's something that is missing. But, again, we all start playing sports for the same reason, which is it makes us feel good. It puts a smile on our face. We love competition. We love to try to challenge ourselves. And that doesn't change depending on the fans.

But we do, I will say, look forward to a time when we can all be back in stadiums.

ACOSTA: Absolutely. No question about that.

As someone that used the platform to fight for issues you care about, what do you make of the Olympic committee upholding this rule that bars athletes from staging protests, like raising a fist or taking a knee?

CHASTAIN: It's hard. Here's what I will say, because I have been in this moment myself.


CHASTAIN: Sports conjures up emotions we don't plan on. And I will say that that is a wonderful platform that sports allows us, right, this emotion that we have in the moment.

I think we need that. I think it's paramount to what sports is about and the essence of sport.

And so I -- if something is not preconceived, not meant to change the environment in which the sport is being held, I feel that the emotional response that is spontaneous should be embraced.


I think we all need to be ourselves and our best selves and that's what the Olympics is about.

ACOSTA: Absolutely. And who can forget when you were back yourself in 1999 --


ACOSTA: -- when you celebrated that moment there. Sometimes things happen spontaneously in that moment and you have to live it in that moment.


ACOSTA: Brandi Chastain, such a pleasure. Such a great honor to have you on the show. Great to see you again.

Take care of the grandbabies. Stay safe. And hope to see you again soon.

CHASTAIN: Thank you so much, Jim.

And I want to send out my best to every Olympian who will be in Tokyo. Please go, play your heart out and bring your best selves so that the world can celebrate. We need it right now.

ACOSTA: That's right. And go USA.

All right, Brandi, great talking to you.

CHASTAIN: And go USA. Thank you.


We appreciate it.

On tomorrow's brand-new episode of "UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA," W. Kamau Bell travels to Atlanta to explore the lack of equity and representation in science and technology.

Here's a preview.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome to your digital world.

Looks like, if I live here, I'm single, I've got some tech money because there's a lot of space.

Oh. My hand. I have a white hand.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There you go. Why do you have white hands as a black man? Right?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a fault that the company has. If you don't press anything and give us information, this is who we presume you to be and we're saying this is OK.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have all lived and understand the premise of Jim Crow. But I think the new idea is this thing called Jim Code.

With implicit bias, we're creating technology that is going to disenfranchise people, particularly black and brown people who simply aren't in the room when these things are being thought of.


ACOSTA: And be sure to tune in. "UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA" airs tomorrow night at 10:00, right here on CNN.

And we're back in a moment.



ACOSTA: This just in. The daily average of COVID-19 vaccinations has dropped below two million for the first time since early March. Back then, it was because there wasn't enough supply. And now it's because there's not enough demand.

This comes as Pfizer becomes the first vaccine maker in the U.S. applying for full FDA approval. That would be a step up from its current emergency use authorization, a development that doctors hope will reduce vaccine hesitancy.

Now, nearly 150 million people have had at least one dose of a COVID- 19 vaccine. But the daily average daily pace continues to drop.

And I want to bring in CNN medical analyst and infectious disease expert, Dr. Celine Gounder.

Dr. Gounder, are we going to hit herd immunity through vaccinations if this trend stays the way it is right now?

DR. CELINE GOUNDER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Jim, I think we have set the wrong target with herd immunity. Herd immunity has a very specific definition, which is that the virus has no place to go once you get enough people vaccinated.

And we think that's in the ballpark of 75 percent to 85 percent of people.

But even before you hit herd immunity, if you get enough people vaccinated, especially the highest risk persons, people over 65, people with chronic medical conditions, you start to see hospitalizations and deaths plummet.

And what we are already seeing in certain parts of the U.S. where the vaccination coverage is high.

And it's also a trend that we have seen in the U.K. and Israel, which are a bit ahead of us in their vaccination coverage.

ACOSTA: How important would it be for Pfizer to get that full FDA approval do you think?

GOUNDER: What's the difference between FDA emergency use authorization and approval, it's really time and money.

But for some people seeing a full approval from the FDA will give them more confidence that the vaccines are safe and effective.

And they are safe and effective. This is why doctors, when given the opportunity to be vaccinated, almost all of them have gotten vaccinated.

Over a billion doses of COVID vaccines have been administered around the word, 250 million doses here in the United States.

And it's important to understand that the CDC and the FDA will continue to do safety monitoring even after a full FDA approval. That's just business as usual.

ACOSTA: And New York City, once the epicenter of the COVID crisis here in the U.S., will allow Broadway to reopen at 100 percent capacity in September.

It's kind of staggering to think about that. Do you think that's an appropriate timetable? I want to go back to see Broadway shows. Everybody wants to go back to seeing Broadway shows. But is that too soon?

GOUNDER: I think it depends on the finances of Broadway theater. It's very difficult for them to reopen at partial capacity. They need to be reopening in full at full capacity.

Two-thirds of their customers are usually tourists.

And I don't think you're really going to see Broadway shows open until the fall because they want to wait until people feel safe, sitting crammed in an indoor theater, shoulder to shoulder with other people.

And there are other things that remain to be seen. Will they still need to wear masks? Will vaccinations be required?

But I think we are a little ways away from Broadway theater life returning to normal.

ACOSTA: Now the Kevin Bacon question. As a COVID precaution, the mayor of Washington, D.C., has instituted a ban on dancing at wedding receptions. Guests have to remain seated and socially distanced.

A lot of people have wondered if that's too extreme. I thought this went away with the movie "Footloose." Maybe I'm wrong here.

What do you think, Doctor?

GOUNDER: I think this goes back to the rule that the CDC put out there as guidance, which is, if you're in a group of people where some are vaccinated and some are not, stick to that two out of three rules. The three things are outdoors, masks and distance.


And so if you're outdoors and masked, I think you could dance safely in a group of people.

ACOSTA: Very good.

Dr. Celine Gounder, I'll see you on the dance floor one of these days.

Thanks so much. We appreciate it.

Coming up, a scene of horror in Afghanistan. Abandoned backpacks and dozens dead. The gruesome attack today near a school for girls in Kabul. That's next.



ACOSTA: Now to a developing story out of Afghanistan, where at least 30 are dead and more than 50 people are wounded in a blast near a girl's school in Kabul.

You can see here, backpacks and books strewn all over the ground.

Let's get straight to CNN's Nick Paton Walsh.

Nick, what do we know about the attack and how it unfolded?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Looking at the wreckage there, it's quite clear that, confirming frankly, some of the ghastly reports coming from the scene.

That many of the victims were schoolgirls as they emerged at the end of their school day in this school on the outskirts of west Kabul in an area predominantly populated by Shia minority who are often targeted by extremists in Afghanistan.

And girls at school are too often the targets of extremists who believe they shouldn't be offered an education at all.

It seems this blast tore through the car that you can see it here in the aftermath footage there. That may have been the source of the explosion.

And quite devastating scenes, in a capital that is almost inured to attacks happening quite regular of this sort of horrific intensity.

Why this particular time? As Kabul has seen, over the past months, it was quite unclear whether the peace negotiations the U.S. was hoping for would get under way.

But now we're seeing an intensification of violence, pretty much at the same time as the U.S. is now beginning its withdrawal from Afghanistan, which will end by September.

The Taliban has said this was not them. They pointed the finger at other extremist groups. And it really isn't clear who's behind this at this particular stage.

But in that one tweet alone, the Taliban really can't speak for the entirety of the insurgency, all of the hardline extremists and terrorist particular groups within parts of that.

This would, of course, leave many deeply concerned about the future of women and their education, moving forward, in Afghanistan, if the government increases to lose its grip on different parts of the country.

And also to the general security vacuum that we could see across the country as the U.S. begins to slowly diminish its forces there.

President Joe Biden's decision to take U.S. troops out is, frankly, a difficult one, an ugly one in terms of its consequences. Very few people believe something good would come of it.

And now of course, it's down to Afghans, particularly in the capital, too, which may not succumb to the insurgency because it's so well fortified to see exactly what level of violence is meted upon them.

And usually, with the violent summer months ahead, this particular summer, though, particularly troubling, because of the absence of U.S. support moving forward for Afghan security forces.

But an absolutely shocking day in the Afghan capital -- Jim?

ACOSTA: Absolutely. And, Nick, unfortunately, we may be seeing more scenes like this as the U.S. withdraws from that country.

Nick Paton Walsh, thanks so much for that report. We appreciate it.

When a 22-year-old Amanda Gorman recited her inaugural poem at the Biden/Harris inauguration, the world took note. Also watching was a proud "CNN Hero" who first met Amanda as a young girl of 14.

Keren Taylor's organization, WriteGirl, offers thousands of teens support, guidance and the tools to have their voices be heard.

This week, "CNN Heroes" catches up with Taylor to see how far her group and the girls they serve have come.


KEREN TAYLOR, CNN HERO: Many of our girls come from environments where they're really struggling with unstable family situations. Violence in their communities.

Our goal is to really try and reach the most teens we can that are in the greatest need.


Since receiving the hero award, we've expanded to include programs for boys and co-ed groups, to clarify our definition of girls, nonbinary girls, trans youth.

Developed more programming for youth who are incarcerated or are systems impacted, on probation.

We are always encouraging our girls to share their own story, what is going on in their world. Because they're the only one who can write that poem, tell that story, write that song.

AMANDA GORMAN, POET: And a time where a skinny black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother --

TAYLOR: Amanda Gorman joined WriteGirl when she was 14.

When we saw her perform at the inauguration, we could see the same things that we really embody at WriteGirl represented in her, confidence, being willing to really be present.


TAYLOR: What was really exciting to know was that she represents not only every girl that's ever been in WriteGirl, but she also represents every young woman in this country.



ACOSTA: And to learn more about the story, and to nominate someone you think should be a "CNN Hero," go to, right now.


ACOSTA: Some sad celebrity news this Saturday afternoon. A star of classic MTV videos and '80s comedy movies has died.





ACOSTA: Her real first name was Julie but the world knew her as Tawny Kitaen. Probably best known for dancing in the White Snake video "Here I Go Again," with lead singer, David Coverdale, who she would later marry.