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Prince Harry And Meghan Announce Birth Of Baby Girl; Royal Caribbean Cruise Line To Set Sail Next Month; Golfer Forced Out Of PGA Tournament After Positive Test; Three-Hundred-Plus Million Vaccine Doses Administered In The U.S.; Interview With Gov. Tony Evers (D-WI); Energy Secretary: Adversaries Have Ability To Shut Down Power Grid; Nearly 90 Candidates Killed In Bloody Run-Up To Mexican Midterms; Six- Hundred-Plus Small Earthquakes Swarm Southern California. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired June 6, 2021 - 14:00   ET




FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Medical milestone, 300 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine has now been administered but can states keep up the pace to reach Biden's July 4th vaccine goal of 70 percent vaccinated.

Plus COVID on the course. Golfer Jon Rahm, who was leading this weekend's memorial tournament by six strokes forced to withdraw from play after testing positive.

And southern swarm. California gets rocked with more than 600 earthquakes in a single day.

Hello everyone and welcome.

I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

We have this breaking news. And it's happy news. It's a girl. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have just announced the birth of their second child. Lilibet Diana Mountbatten Windsor was born on Friday in Santa Barbara, California. She joined her two-year-old brother Archie in the family.

CNN royal correspondent Max Foster is joining us with more on this. So Max, this is certainly very exciting news.

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: It is. And the good news first. Both mother and child are healthy and well. And they are settling in at home.

So as you say, it happened on Friday. They are at home. So everything seems to have gone to plan, which is the main news.

You mentioned the names there. So Lilibet is actually a nod to the queen because the Queen's nickname, her pet name is Lilibet. So she's named after her. As you understand it, she will be known as Lili, though, this new baby, Archie's younger sister.

And then Diana as the middle name, obviously, Harry's late mother. So really, a huge nod to the Harry's side of the family here. Much excitement.

They talked in the past about only having two children. And obviously they told Oprah in that famous interview a couple of months ago that they would only have two children as well. So this is it. This is the complete set of four, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: Ok. Max Foster, tell us more when you know it. Congrats to the couple and the family.

And this other major milestone in the U.S.'s fight against the coronavirus pandemic. The CDC says more than 300 million vaccines have been administered in America. Just under 42 percent have been fully vaccinated, while over 51 percent have gotten at least one dose.

But experts now warn the next hurdle will be protecting children. Kids now account for nearly 25 percent of all of the COVID cases in the country.

But this week, the FDA will meet to discuss allowing COVID vaccines for children 11 and under, which would be a huge boost to returning to normalcy.

This welcome news comes as the country tries to rebound after a year of lockdowns and social distancing. More states are relaxing COVID protocols.

And now even the cruise ship industry is ready to dive back in with ships ready to depart in the coming weeks.

CNN's Natasha Chen is here with more on this. So Natasha, they are entering uncharted waters when it comes to this pandemic. How are they preparing?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, Fred, you remember in the beginning of the pandemic cruise ships were one of the first places where we saw coronavirus spread so quickly.

So there are a lot of unique challenges due to the space -- the tight spaces on board. The CDC just trying to be very careful allowing them to set sail again.

Now, most ships are still awaiting CDC approval. Some of them have met requirements and have advertised summer sailings. But these conditions hinge on knowing what percentage of the people on board are vaccinated.

And that pits the state of Florida, a huge home base for many cruise lines, against the CDC.


CHEN (voice over): The cruise industry is getting ready to set sail once again.

But a political storm brewing on land, one between Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the Centers for Disease Control, suggests it will be anything but smooth sailing.

Right now, most cruise lines are advertising new summer sailings with vaccination requirements. But Royal Caribbean abruptly changed course on Friday. Only at ships from Seattle and the Bahamas on or before August 1st will require passengers 16 and older to be vaccinated.


CHEN: But no vaccination requirements for its sailings from Texas or Florida. Florida, where businesses can be fined for requiring customers to show proof of vaccination.

MICHAEL WINKLEMAN, MARITIME LAWYER: I was surprised by the blink because I think that on the better side of it. And I think they are better off staying on Team CDC rather than Team DeSantis.

CHEN: Michael Winkleman, a cruise industry expert and maritime lawyer in Miami says the situation on cruise ships is unique. And the CDC is trying to keep people safe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They appear to be in a waiting pattern here.

CHEN: Last year a number of cruise ships remained unable to dock when coronavirus spread through tight quarters. After the CDC issued a no sail order, ships sat idle for 15 months.

Now the CDC has laid out a framework to get them back in motion. Either have trial sailings with volunteers before opening up to paid passengers or abide by certain restrictions with the most latitude on ships where at least 95 percent of passengers and crew are vaccinated.

DeSantis has sued the CDC over this with no end of the legal battle in sight.

GOVERNOR RON DESANTIS (R-FL): Make no mistake about this. Had we not done what we did -- and I think a lot of those cruise lines would admit this -- had we not done what we did by suing, you would not be talking about sailing right now.

There's not been a single elected official in this country who has done more to liberate the cruise lines from a bureaucracy that is totally out of touch.

WINKLEMAN: In my opinion, this has nothing to do with helping business. It has nothing to do with keeping people safe. It has to do with him playing to a very small but vocal base of his supporters in an effort to win in 2024.

CHEN: Winkleman says DeSantis won't likely win this lawsuit, a sentiment echoed by a Miami Herald op-ed saying the cruise industry wants to go back to work. The CDC isn't the issue here. The badly conceived vaccine passport law is. The politicking and rule changes have left passengers confused. But this travel agent, who specializes in cruises, says most people hoping to get on a cruise soon are already vaccinated or planning to be before they board.

ELAINE EDWARDS, TRAVEL AGENT, DREAMS UNLIMITED TRAVEL: I think people are just so excited. They didn't get to cruise last summer. They didn't get to cruise this winter that they are willing to -- whatever the cruise line needs me to do, I will do it because I want to get on that ship.


WHITFIELD: Yes, yes, yes. I do, too.

CHEN: -- the Florida governor's office that the state law does allow businesses to ask the question whether a customer is vaccinated but they don't have to answer and that cannot be a condition of entry.

Right now, the CDC says if you are getting on a cruise, even if you are fully vaccinated, you should be tested before and after the trip. Unvaccinated people would have to quarantine afterward, even if they test negative, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. People go on a cruise to relax but I don't know, all those conditions, it would be hard to fully relax.

All right Natasha Chen, thank you so much.

All right. Meantime, a huge upset at the PGA Memorial Tournament because of COVID. Currently ranked third in the world golfer Jon Rahm had just finished his third round when he was forced to withdraw after testing positive for coronavirus.

The Spanish pro was leading the field by six strokes when he was approached by PGA medical personnel, told his COVID test came back positive and his journey there had to end. Rahm was trying to become just the second golfer to ever win the memorial tournament in back-to- back years.

Here is the moment when officials broke the news to him.


JON RAHM, PRO GOLFER: I don't want any of it.

No way, not again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's going on?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not hearing


WHITFIELD: Wow. Obviously, distraught. That was happening on live television. Not even the announcers knew what was happening until it happened.

CNN's Patrick Snell joining me right now. So Patrick, how did this happen when Rahm was told Monday that he may have been exposed to someone who was COVID infected and that he would need to be tested daily?

PATRICK SNELL, CNN WORLD SPORT: Yes, extraordinary sequence of events, Fred, no question about that.

Just to pick up on what was at stake here for Rahm, yes, trying to become the first player in fact to win back-to-back at this event since the great Tiger Woods over two decades ago. Tiger won it for three straight years at Jack's Place, as they call it, Jack Nicholson hosting this tournament between 1999 and 2001.

But to get to your point directly, we have learned through a statement Saturday evening from the U.S. PGA tour, revealing that Rahm had been placed, you're quite right, in contact tracing protocols Monday, May the 31st this goes back to in question here, officials learning he had been in contact with someone who was COVID-19 positive.

Rahm then -- this is what's important -- this is what's important here, Fred -- Rahm then choosing to remain in the event and undergo daily testing with restricted access to the indoor facilities at the Muirfield Village Golf Club there in Ohio.


SNELL: The European Ryder Cup star subsequently testing negative every single day until further testing performed after Rahm had finished his rain-delayed second round on Saturday morning. And that is how we get to these images right there.

That is the time line for you. That's how this all played out. Now what is Rahm himself been saying about it?

Well, he is an emotional guy, Fred. I have spoken to him, been one on one with him. He pours very much his emotions out in public. Wears his heart on his sleeve.

He took to Twitter Saturday evening saying, "I'm very disappointed in having to withdraw from the memorial tournament. This is one of those things that happens in life. One of those moments where how we respond to a setback defines us as people. I'm very thankful that my family and I are all ok. I will take all of the necessary precautions to be safe and healthy. And I look forward to returning to the golf course as soon as possible."

And then a thank you. "Thank you to all of the fans for their support. And I am looking forward to watching the showdown tomorrow afternoon with you all."

And to that point, the fourth round in progress this afternoon in Ohio. The tournament continues, Fred, without him. He will be looking on. He will be following up. He will be thinking that he could have won it. But look, these are PGA tour protocols. They are there in place for a reason. And he has to abide by these rules, by the situation.

Now, of course, the next time line event for him, the forthcoming U.S. Men's open in San Diego at Torrey Pines. He's got to stay in isolation, according to the tour, until June 15th. Fred, the U.S. open starts on June 17th.

WHITFIELD: Oh, my gosh. That's a close call. But you know what? A nod to him. I mean he really is using this as a teaching moment, right, by demonstrating he is a champ through and through.

All right. Patrick Snell, thank you so much. Appreciate that.

All right. Let's talk more about all this. Joining me right now to discuss, Dr. Anand Swaminathan. He is an emergency medicine physician in New Jersey.

All right. Dr. Swaminathan, good to see you. It's interesting to hear from Patrick. He says the player chose to continue to play even though he had been told chances were good he had been in contact with someone who had COVID tested positive on Monday and that because of contact tracing protocol, he would be tested every day.

Is that usually how it should go? Or should he have been in isolation because isn't it about day four or five when perhaps you might show symptoms or test positive if after being in contact?

DR. ANAND SWAMINATHAN, EMERGENCY MEDICINE PHYSICIAN: Yes. The protocols are definitely the concern here. I'm happy to hear Jon is feeling well, that he isn't very sick. Obviously, that's a good thing. And we wish him a speedy recovery.

Of course, the protocol doesn't really make a lot of sense. It's hard to give a professional competitor the option. Obviously, if they have the option, they're going to say, I feel fine, I would like to play. And I don't blame him for doing that.

It's really up to the tour to do a better job protecting because even though this is an outdoor event, there's still indoor travel, whether it is the car on the way to the event site. Whether it's in the locker rooms. Any of those things are periods that you could expose.

And then the question is, did his other -- rest of his foursome know that he was in contact tracing? Because there was handshaking. There was the possibility for transmission with that close group that was in contact with each other throughout this.

So I think the protocols really need to be set in a way to protect everybody. And don't really give people the option. You have to kind of take that option off the table and say, this is the best thing to do to protect everybody.

WHITFIELD: Yes. What you are saying makes a whole lot of sense. And I'm sure a lot of folks, not just him, you know, were caught by surprise. And now they're trying to figure out what to do now. All right. So let's shift gears a little because the U.S. now has

administered more than 300 million coronavirus vaccine doses according to the latest data from the CDC. And more than 51 percent of the population has now received at least one dose.

So what stands out to you about the nation's vaccination effort and whether that marker of 70 percent vaccinated by July 4th could actually happen?

DR. SWAMINATHAN: What a herculean effort that hast gone into making this happen. It's really an amazing number, 300 million.

But when we get granular on that information, we do find a lot of issues that remain. 51 percent with at least one shot in the arm, that's a great number. Except that we know there are states that are lagging behind that pretty dramatically.

And it's not just state to state, but it's county to county within states and even town to town within counties where we see vast discrepancies in the number of people who are vaccinated and that's an issue.

And this comes back to a number of different problems that we've been seeing throughout this vaccination which is things like access. Access remains an issue. There are people who don't quite understand the fact that this is free. That that messaging hasn't been done as much as it should be.

There are people who have had issues with getting time off of work, which needs to be a mandatory thing, paid time off of work to get your vaccine.

Now we have the Biden administration stepping in to help to support that effort as well as childcare. That's great. I wish we could have had it earlier. But people need to take advantage of these situations and get their vaccine.


DR. SWAMINATHAN: And then there's so much hesitancy out there as well. And you know, I can put it on the lay people and say there's a lot of lay people hesitancy.

But U.S. healthcare workers are lagging behind. Only about 50 percent have been vaccinated, which is mind boggling to me --

WHITFIELD: And why is that?

DR. SWAMINATHAN: -- in what we saw last year.

There are so many different issues here. Fred, I tell you, I have a conversation almost every day with someone in the health care industry talking to them about why they need to do this.

There's so much different reluctance. I already had it. I didn't get it for the year. Why do I need to get a vaccine now? There's a lot of reluctance. And I think that health care workers really need to be out front leading on this particular issue.

It's a hard burden to shoulder. We have been leading on so many different things. But we need to continue to lead. And a lot of places are moving. A lot of private hospitals are moving to making it mandatory, which I think is the right way to do things because we can't afford to lose more health care workers to this pandemic.

But these are real big issues. And within all of that lagging, when you look from, you know, that town to town, state to state, what we also see is that the same places where adults are lagging, teens are lagging, too.

And we have a recent CDC report showing that a lot of teenagers are getting infected. It's a significant portion of our total number of infections. And about a third of those that are getting hospitalized are ending up in the ICU.

When that data was collected from -- we didn't have these vaccines approved for 12 and up. Now be do which means that every single one of those hospitalizations, every single one of those kids that was in the ICU, can now be prevented.

My 12-year-old got his second shot on Thursday. He has a group of friends that have gotten their second shots. They are all texting and talking about when they're going to be able to do their sleepovers, how close they are to getting back to that normal socialization.

And the hardest part of that is, of course, is that have a 9-year-old who is sitting there extremely jealous about the fact that she can't do all those things.

I think we need to really be out there messaging the people that kids are getting affected by this. They are getting very sick. And Every single one of those kids being hospitalized is preventable now.

WHITFIELD: And it was only a few weeks ago we both shared that our kids had gotten vaccinated, not together, but in close proximity, different, you know, localities as well. And my 16-year-old, he is getting his second shot this week. So yay for young people.

All right. Thank you so much.

DR. SWAMINATHAN: Really wonderful.

WHITFIELD: That's right. Dr. Anand Swaminathan, thank you so much. Appreciate it.


WHITFIELD: All right. Still ahead this hour, the 2022 midterm race is on. And the former president is back on the trail. Why Donald Trump's big lie is far from over.

Plus, dozens of Mexican political candidates killed in cold blood ahead of that country's midterm elections. We are live at a polling site in Mexico City. [14:17:37]


WHITFIELD: All right. Another move for former president Donald Trump. He returned to the campaign trail last night in North Carolina, claiming his lost election was nothing but a fraud. As you might expect, slammed President Biden and Dr. Fauci in an attempt to reassert himself as kingmaker on the national stage.

Here is CNN's Martin Savidge.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The former president's speech was a collection of his lies, of his fear mongering of the falsehoods that he has become known. And it really starkly outlined once again how Donald Trump could be a potential threat to the American election system.

He, of course, went back and praised just about everything that his administration had achieved. And he criticized just about everything that the Biden administration has done so far.

He also went on to say and obsess, you could say, over the outcome of the 2020 election, which he said was the crime of the century. He lost that election.

And the other thing that he seemed to work very hard on was reframing what many believe to be the greatest failure of his administration which was the handling the pandemic.

He praised himself for the vaccine but then he seemed to ignore the fact that hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of thousands of Americans died while under his watch.

He criticized Dr. Anthony Fauci saying that he was not a good doctor but that he was a great promoter. And then he said China should pay for the coronavirus. Here is that moment.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But Fauci is perhaps never been more wrong than when he denied the virus and where it came from. The time has come for America and the world to demand reparations and accountability from the Communist Party of China.

We should all declare within one unified voice that China must pay.

SAVIDGE: Then after repeating all the lies about the outcome of the 2020 election, Trump actually said, quote, "Remember, I am not the one trying to undermine America. I am the one trying to save it."

Of course, there are many who see that exactly the opposite. One glaring omission from the former president's speech last night was the fact that there was no mention of the January 6 insurrection, which many blame the former president for. As far as that speech went, it never happened. Martin Savidge, CNN -- Greenville, North Carolina.


WHITFIELD: All right. With me now to talk about this and more is Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers. Governor, so good to see you.

GOVERNOR TONY EVERS (D-WI): Thanks, Fredricka, for having me today.

WHITFIELD: All right. So you just heard the former president determined to be involved in the GOP and defiantly defending the big lie.

And then just yesterday, you announced your re-election bid. So that is the kind of messaging that you will be running against. How do you combat that?

EVERS: Well, certainly, you know, the president spent a lot of time here during the 2020 election. And he lost. And he lost fair and square. We have had numerous lawsuits that have been -- gone through our courts. Every one of them thrown out.


EVERS: So people in Wisconsin get it. But that's sad. Our Republicans in Wisconsin are chomping at the bit, to make changes in our, you know, relatively good election laws.

And the good news is, I will veto every single one of them that -- you know, We're in a democracy. We should be hoping to have people to vote and not preventing them from voting.

So I still have a veto pen. And we will stop any effort to suppress the vote here in Wisconsin.

You know, He can talk all he wants. But the fact of the matter is it's the people of Wisconsin that are voting. And his role in that is pretty limited.

WHITFIELD: And if you look back and think of what's relevant today, President Trump lost Wisconsin by 20,000 votes and out of the more than 3.3 million votes cast, only 41 cases of possible election fraud were found.

So how concerned are you about Donald Trump and the wave of Republican-led legislatures which are adopting restrictive voting laws, how concerned are you that all of that might be undermining the confidence in U.S. elections overall?

EVERS: There's no question that that's happening already. That's happening -- that happened in Georgia, I happened in Texas, it happened in Arizona. But regardless of what our Republican legislators come off with in Wisconsin, if it does indeed prevents people from voting when they certainly should be able to vote, that will be a veto. And I will veto that. and that will happen before my re- election. And no matter what Donald Trump does in Wisconsin, that's not going to change my view of the world. But you are absolutely right, Fredricka. This is something that concerns me greatly just from the national stage.

But I feel the stage in Wisconsin is set for us to move forward in a really good way, making sure that people have the opportunity to vote. And that's my goal. And that's what we will be doing going forward.

WHITFIELD: Today Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia wrote an op-ed and explained why he is voting against the "For The People Act" which expands voter registration and access. He wrote this in part, "Unfortunately, we now are witnessing that the fundamental right to vote has itself become overtly politicized. Today's debate about how to best protect our right to vote and to hold elections however is not about finding common ground but seeking partisan advantage.

So what's your response to him? I know you just talked about your veto, your promise to veto if you see anything that would suppress the vote from your legislature. But is the effort to maintain free and fair elections a politicized one as Senator Manchin says?

EVERS: Well, it's a big issue. Now, I have heard him speak on this numerous times. It's just my observation -- this is from little old Wisconsin. But he seems pretty set in his desire here. And HR-1 is going to be difficult to pass.

Do I hope it does? Absolutely. Governors we just have to be prepared. This is an extraordinarily important issue in all across the country. We can't have, you know, the big lie -- I even hate to categorize it as a big lie. It's just taking away people's votes.

We are in a democracy here and that democracy thrives best when people have an opportunity to vote. Am I concerned about this nationally? Absolutely. Am I concerned about it in Wisconsin. If the Republicans bring it on, bring it on and I will veto it.

WHITFIELD: The "For The People Act" HR-1 did pass in the House. But of course, many believe it's an uphill battle there in the senate.

Senator Manchin also went on to write in his op-ed, "I believe that partisan voting legislation will destroy the already weakening binds of our democracy. And for that reason, I will vote against the "For The People Act". Furthermore I will not vote to weaken or eliminate the filibuster."

So you know, Senator Manchin saying he wants bipartisanship, you know, but where is there evidence that that is even possible on Capitol Hill?

EVERS: Yes. And it's very difficult at the state level, too. We are in a partisan time. There's no question about it. Should one of our goals be to be bipartisan and to reach consensus? Absolutely. But I will just -- I hate to keep bringing it back to Wisconsin. But the issue here in Wisconsin is, we have gerrymandered maps in the state of Wisconsin. We need fair maps. [14:29:48]

EVERS: At the state level, all the statewide elected officials are Democrats, and the Republicans hold a two to one advantage in the legislature. That does not make sense.

We do have to have things be fair.


We do have -- we want to have competitive races. We want to have bipartisanship.

But if that is not going to happen, we have to -- we have to protect the people that voted -- that voted for us, and we have to protect our democracy. It's pretty simple.

WHITFIELD: So, then, on the issue of the filibuster on Capitol Hill, do you believe there should be an end to it?

EVERS: Yes, I do. I think it's -- I think we have some critical things -- we're at a really defining moment as a nation, not only around our democracy but all sorts of other things that are really important, that, you know, we need -- we need infrastructure money. We need to make sure our schools are safe.

There's a good role and important role that the federal government has to play. And if that's the case that we need to get rid of the filibuster in order to make these things happen, we pro -- we need to do that.

I just -- I'm skeptical of that, but I am -- I'm focusing on our state. Given all the things that I see going on in Washington, D.C., the things I can control, I will be able to do that.

WHITFIELD: All right. Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, thank you so much for being with us this Sunday. Be well.

EVERS: Thanks, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: Thank you.

And we'll be right back after this.



WHITFIELD: Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm today warning in stark terms that the U.S. grid is vulnerable to attacks.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Do you think that adversaries of the United States have the capability right now to shut down the power grid?

JENNIFER GRANHOLM, ENERGY SECRETARY: Yeah, they do. I mean, I think that there are very malign actors who are trying even as we speak.


WHITFIELD: White House reporter Natasha Bertrand joining us now.

Natasha, do Granholm's comments echo the level of concern inside the White House?

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Definitely. The White House is very concerned about ransomware as a national security threat and has made it a key priority for this administration, especially following two major ransomware attacks against critical infrastructure companies in the U.S. And President Biden does plan to raise this issue with Russian President Vladimir Putin when he sees him in Geneva later this month, because many of these ransomware groups that have waged the attacks are based, according to the intelligence community, according to the administration, in Russia.

But the administration is a little bit tied here in terms of what it can. While they are taking steps to deter and disrupt these ransomware operations, their hands are tied in certain sense because these are private companies that hold so much of key critical infrastructure here in the United States. And while they are trying to get these companies to lockdown their networks, some are saying that they should go further than that.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner saying there should be some level of liability for companies that don't completely lockdown their networks and live up to certain cybersecurity standards. Take a listen.


SEN. MARK WARNER (D-VA): We do need higher cybersecurity standards. There ought to be penalties of -- I think many of us remember a few years back when Equifax lost all of our information, in that case, it was to the Chinese. They were totally negligent. So, there does need to be, I believe, some level of liability for companies that don't hit the standards.

But the truth is, when you have a tier one adversary like Russia or China, not so much these cyber criminals, but a tier one adversary in terms of their spy services, it's tough to be 100 percent perfect all the time.

That's why if we have an incident reporting requirement, mid-attack -- give the company some limited liability protection. And that needs to come to the government but share with the private sector. Microsoft, Amazon, the cloud providers, the other cybersecurity companies. We need to have a public/private response team to this. That's going to require that mandatory reporting.


BERTRAND: So, the White House did send out a letter to private companies last week urging them to take certain steps to protect their networks, to protect themselves, because obviously, a ransomware attack on these companies affects the entire country.

And, of course, the administration is still sticking with the advice to companies that they should not be paying the ransom during these attacks, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Natasha Bertrand in Washington, thank you so much.

All right. Coming up next, nearly 90 candidates murdered just because they were on the election ballot. We'll tell you where, next.



WHITFIELD: Right now, National Guard troops are watching over poling stations across Mexico as voters cast their ballots in the largest election ever, one that has also been plagued with gruesome, bloody violence.

Here is CNN's Matt Rivers.


MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Here is Abel Murrieta, a candidate for local office in the Mexican municipality of Kaheme. Crime was his number one issue.

ABEL MURRIETA, MEXICAN CANDIDATE (translated): Enough of the drugs that steal our kids and destroy our families. I am a man of the law. I'll lay down the law. My hand isn't shaking. I'm not afraid.

RIVERS: But just one day after filming this ad, he was dead, shot and killed May 13th in broad daylight on a busy street while handing out campaign flyers. State authorities say Murrieta was deliberately targeted but don't know by whom. Suspects or not, though, it's just further proof that in Mexico, politics can be deadly.

From September of last year through May 25th, at least 88 politicians or candidates have been killed according to Mexican consulting firm, Etellekt Consultores. They're a part of the more than 565 politicians, or candidates overall, that have been targeted by some sort of crime, ranging from murder, to assault, to threats, the firm says.

The government says it believes both numbers are actually far lower, though they don't say how they tally their numbers. But still it admits there's a problem.

It's a difficult time for these campaigns, says Mexico's president. We're going to keep protecting them.

Though Mexico has consistently failed to protect its candidates, political assassinations have been a problem for decades, but this year is particularly bad.

ANA MARIA SALAZAR, PUBLIC SECURITY EXPERT: I do think that this is going to be considered one of the most violent elections in Mexican history.

RIVERS: Security experts, like Ana Maria Salazar, says politicians are killed for a number of reasons, but it most often involves organized crime.

In many cases, she says criminal groups want their preferred candidate in office and so they might target others they don't like, especially candidates who make crime a centerpiece of their campaigns.


SALAZAR: Candidates that talk the way Abel Murrieta speak clearly are going to run bigger risks.

RIVERS: Murrieta was known for challenging criminal groups and drug cartels. As a private lawyer, he was also representing the LeBarons, an outspoken family with dual U.S.-Mexico citizenship that lost nine of its members when they were murdered by suspected cartel members in Mexico in late 2019.

Adrian LeBaron tweeted shortly after Murrieta was killed saying in part, quote: They have killed my defender. What do we call this? The rule of law?

RIVERS: Do you believe he was killed because of his opposition to the cartels?

ADRIAN LEBARON, FAMILY KILLED IN MEXICO: Yes, he was always exposing them. To me, he died a martyr.

RIVERS: Authorities have not identified any suspects or motive in Murrieta's murder, but the victim seem to know he was at risk saying this a few days before he died.

MURRIETA (translated): I am serious and going in with no fear. To do this, you have to be very conscious of what you're going to do and not be scared.

RIVERS: He went on to say the streets belong to the people, not the criminals. And some of those people turned up here to his funeral in Kaheme. They gave him a standing ovation as his coffin was let out.


RIVERS (on camera): And, Fred, we are outside a polling place here in Mexico City. All calm today. It hasn't been calm over last week. Update the numbers for you. In the last three days, including yesterday with another death of a politician, another candidate, the number is now 91 politicians or candidates that have been murdered since last September.

Yet to that criticism of the federal government doing -- not doing enough, earlier this week when asked again about what's happening in Mexico, the Mexican president actually said there's peace and tranquility in all parts of Mexico, despite the fact that indisputably, the levels of violence right now in Mexico are as high or nearly as high as they've ever been -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: Matt what about witnesses to that latest death? It looks like a busy street. Is it the case that witnesses wouldn't -- fear speaking, wouldn't want to talk?

RIVERS: Yeah. There's a ton of reasons that these crimes are not solved. Everything from local corruption to what you said, people are scared about talking. The impunity rates for murder in Mexico are sky high, something about 0.3 percent of all murder cases where a prosecutor presents charges to a judge. So, that signals to criminals around this country, murder a politician, murder a candidate, you have an overwhelming chance of getting away with it.

WHITFIELD: Oh my gosh, Matt Rivers, thank you so much, in Mexico City.

All right. Still ahead, a swarm of more than 600 earthquakes striking California. Why this is happening and scientists' concerns coming up next.



WHITFIELD: All right. Quite the shakeup. Residents in Southern California have been dealing with a swarm of earthquakes this weekend. More than 600 have been detected in a remote part of the state near the border with Mexico.

CNN's Tom Sater joining me now from the Weather Center.

So, I hear 600 and that sounds alarming. Is there reason to be concerned?

TOM SATER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It is. Well, the experts, Fredricka, will tell you, it's almost too hard to predict the big one. But it is concerning, obviously, with this many what we call for foreshocks because the once day magnitude 5.3 would become the earthquake now.

But let me show you this Google Earth Image to let everybody know what we are talking about on a grand scale here. Get down in southern California, close to the border of Mexico. You can see San Diego and east of there on the southern end of the Salton Sea is where we had our 5.3.

Yes, it's along the San Andreas Fault. There are numerous faults in California. Everyone is wondering, what is the forecast if we have had this much energy being released from the Earth?

This 5.3 is relatively shallow. When you look at 3.6 miles deep, that's considered very shallow considering many around the world are hundreds and hundreds of miles deep.

However, when he look at the activity and the shaking today, a good 1,000 people you see in yellow felt strong shaking, 9,000 moderate. So, again, even though this is a 5.3, the weaker ones can be felt. But a 5.3, Fredricka, is strong enough to do some damage, even to

masonry buildings. Around the world, if you look at a 5.0 or greater, we have about 1,300 of them a year. But this is concerning. So, we look at the aftershocks -- I should say the quakes that have happened, because today's 5.3 is the earthquake, you can see in areas of yellow, those are in the last 24 hours, the colors of orange are in the last six hours.

Now, the forecast now from the USGS is there's a good chance we could have 10, 20, even 30 aftershocks that are 3.0 magnitude or less. However, there is a 10 percent chance, Fredricka, that they say we could have one or two in the next couple of days that could be greater than a 5.3.

Now, if that happens, then they redo the forecast, and they will continue. They are going to taper off over -- in the next couple of days.


But again, 10, 20, 30 at 3.0, that's going to keep people on the edge of their seats.

WHITFIELD: Wow, appreciate all of that.

All right. Fingers crossed for everybody.

Tom Sater, thank you.


WHITFIELD: All right. In this week's "Off the Beaten Path", we kayak up right to the Shoshone Falls' breathtaking splash zone.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Shoshone Falls are the Niagara Falls of the West.

Most people see the falls from the observation deck. But a very unique way to see the falls is to kayak to the base of them.

Kayaking in the Snake River Canyon is an absolutely beautiful adventure upon itself. You will be passing along a bunch of waterfalls that are cascading hundreds of feet down along the canyon rim. Along the way, you will pass underneath the Prime Bridge.

You will get to see base jumpers from around the world that are parachuting down to the south side of the canyon. This is the only place in the country where you can legally do it.

Halfway there, we come across Pillar Falls. In my eyes, Pillar Falls it's our true hidden claim to fame down here in the canyon. The way the river cuts through the rocks over the centuries and constantly changing channels, making new pools. It truly is a wonder. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We usually come down to get a nice little hike in.

Good exercise, but it's beautiful as you can see. You can hike out on it. The water is refreshing if you want to take a little dip.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you get around the corner and the falls come into view for the first time, it's absolutely breathtaking.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is how you see Shoshone Falls.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You feel it in your chest, the falls thundering over. You can feel the spray. It's a beautiful, unique experience.