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Mexico's President Vows to Protect Prominent T.V. Anchor; China's Sentencing of Canadian Businessman Sparks Outrage. Aired 2- 2:45a ET

Aired August 12, 2021 - 02:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause. Coming up this hour. The Taliban expanding their control with a U.S. intelligence assessment saying they could be just weeks away from surrounding Afghanistan's capital.

Does Evia heatwave and drought a one-two punch fueling destructive wildfires across Greece and Algeria. No word that some of those fires may have been deliberately set.

And he's has spent years vilifying reporters but now Mexico's president promises to defend journalists after a major drug cartel threatens to kill a prominent T.V. news anchor.

Well, given the speed and success of the Taliban offensive, a recent assessment by the U.S. military is shocking but not surprising. Kabul could be threaded and cut off by Taliban fighters in a matter of weeks falling within three months. Nine provincial capitals have been taken by the Taliban in less than a week. Most are in the north area, which was once strong anti-Taliban resistance.

The militants' rapid offensive has taken a toll. Afghanistan's foreign minister says 6000 people have been killed since April, including 2000 civilians. The U.S. has insisted this is Afghanistan's battle to fight. The Pentagon spokesman saying the outcome of the conflict is not a foregone conclusion.


JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: We are certainly mindful of the advances that the Taliban have made in terms of taking over yet an, you know, increased number of provincial capitals. And our focus is on supporting the Afghans in the field where and when we can and completing this drawdown. I'm not going to speak about planning contingencies or potential outcomes. And the other thing I'd say is that no potential outcome has to be inevitable,

Including the fall of Kabul which everybody seems to be reporting about. It doesn't have to be that way.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: The U.S. is pushing for a political solution and peace talks in Doha. But there are questions about how much influence Washington will have as its troops are exiting the country. And whether the Taliban on a roll and winning even want to make a deal. Kylie Atwood has our report.

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: The State Department said the progress towards a political solution between the Afghan government and the Taliban has been painfully slow, but also continued to reiterate the U.S. position that a political solution is the only way towards peace in Afghanistan. And the State Department spokesperson said the U.S. is pushing the international community to support intra Afghan dialogue.

Now, U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan is in Doha, in talks with the Taliban. State Department says that he will urge them to stop their military offenses in Afghanistan. And also urge them to engage in good negotiated political settlement. But he himself has also said that the Taliban feel emboldened by the gains that they have made on the battlefield. And there are concerns about what kind of pressure the U.S. can really apply here.

What kind of leverage the United States really has here to push the Taliban to really engage in any of these negotiations in a real way, particularly given the fact that President Biden continues to double down on his decision to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by later this month. Kylie Atwood, CNN, the State Department.

VAUSE: General Wesley Clark is a CNN Military Analyst he served as NATO Supreme Allied Commander and he is with us this hour from Little Rock, Arkansas. General Clark, it's good to see you.

WESLEY CLARK, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Thank you, good to be with you.

VAUSE: So the U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Wednesday, the U.S. has leverage when it comes to reining in the Taliban supporting the Afghan government but he doesn't want to give too much away. Here's what he said.


NED PRICE, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: When it's prudent for us to preview what we might do, but the fact is that we will not hesitate. If we think it will be in the interests of the people of Afghanistan. If we think it is an appropriate recourse to use any and all tools at our disposal.


PRICE: The one -- the one tool we have taken off the table is the reintroduction of U.S. service members.


VAUSE: And there's the rub. That's the one tool which could be effective right now, isn't it? CLARK: That's the problem. Really, what's happening in Afghanistan right now is a consequence of -- it's a tragedy, of course, for the people of Afghanistan, and for the larger region. But it's a consequence of -- in part 20 years of U.S. misjudgments and policy failures, and saying that we're not going to put troops back in as your course, just one more statement, along with the idea that you could negotiate instead of a negotiation when you announced your intention to withdraw.

And going all the way back to 2001, when we intervened, supposedly to punish Afghanistan's leaders for not turning over Osama bin Laden. But we had no plan to get Osama bin Laden. And we had no real plan for what to do if the government failed in Afghanistan. So everything has been -- has been (INAUDIBLE) in there. So it's been put together on the fly. The policies have tried to match needs on the ground with domestic politics in the United States and it's failing.

VAUSE: Very quickly, the Taliban offensive has been incredibly successful, like no other the Taliban has ever ways before. Is Pakistan -- is the ISI, the intelligence service from Pakistan, advising the Taliban on strategy and tactics and logistical support?

CLARK: Well, certainly, you know, Pakistan's made no real secret of the fact that the Taliban were agents of Pakistan to some extent. Now, how much control they actually have has never been totally clear to us. Certainly Pakistan provides guidance, logistics and weapons early on. But then it's also true that the Taliban have their own leadership and probably can argue somewhat with their Pakistani controllers.

Be that as it may, the Taliban has gotten stronger and stronger. And the United States has telegraphed our moves years ago that we were coming out. And especially during the Trump administration, with old announcements of pulling back at the same time, we tried to negotiate a graceful exit. So, it's in the Taliban's interest if they really understand what the future might hold, to hold the offensive operations right now.

They've shown the half power, work a compromise with the government and seek continued international support. Whether they do that or not, none of us know on the outside. My guess would be they probably cannot control their own momentum. And so I think Kabul is in jeopardy.

VAUSE: A very quick what you just to finish up here. When armies retreat, they also leave behind a lot of weapons and material. This is CNN's reporting from Wednesday. In capturing police and military bases, the Taliban have acquired armored vehicles, Humvees and heavy weapons as well as dozens of ubiquitous pickup trucks, a steady stream of captured vehicles, many of them provided by the U.S. Lift the Kando's base on Wednesday.

So the situation now is that the Taliban not only are taking territory, but they're becoming better armed. And that advantage if there ever really was an advantage, the Afghan national forces have ahead with their U.S-supplied weapons is diminishing.

CLARK: That's right, and show the balance of forces is changing very quickly. And this is -- this is characteristic of what happens when momentum shifts in a country like this. So none of this should be a surprise. It's all to be expected. And now really the weight falls on the political leadership in Afghanistan. Can they rally together, deal with the remnants of the military, pull the military together and inspire their soldiers to fight to the death? Can they do that?

That's the question. If they value freedom, if they value the democracy that we've tried to provide, if they value the alignment with the West and safety for their families, education for their women and children, they will do this. If not, then Afghan, as we know will go back on to the Taliban control.

VAUSE: Yes. That (INAUDIBLE) seems to be the more likely part of the moment but let's hope that they will change. General Clark, thank you for being with us.

CLARK: Thank you.

VAUSE: If it's not burning or baking, it's flooding in southeastern Europe. In Italy, a 77-year-old man died while trying to save his animals. More than 100 places are burning in the Calabria region and residents are being urged to evacuate. On Wednesdays, Europe's all time heat record was unofficially set in a town in Sicily. Just shy of 49 degrees celsius. Firefighters on the Greek island of Evia are getting the upper hand.


VAUSE: At last three people have been killed there. Hundreds left homeless. Flash flooding in northern Turkey has destroyed homes, damaged roads and bridges and washed debris. Through towns power outages are reported in nearly 300 villages. In Algeria The President has declared three days of national mourning, with the death toll from some of the most destructive wildfires in the country's history now rising to 65.

CNN's Jomana Karadsheh tracking developments live this hour from Istanbul. And in Algeria, the -- among the 65 dead, it is a very high number of soldiers who've died. Is there any reason for that?

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, according to the government, they say that soldiers were deployed to the fire regions to try and assist with the firefighting effort and with the evacuation. And the numbers have continued to go up since these devastating fires erupted on Monday. More than 100 fires that were concentrated in the northern part of the country.

The latest figures now we're seeing according to Algerian state media, they say at least 69 people have been killed in these fires. You know, if you look at those regions where the fires have been taking place, it's impacted villages, forests, mountainous areas, some of the really hard to reach. So that would also explain why they have to deploy the military. And what's really made it harder for them to battle these flames, John, is the fact that this is going on during this heatwave that has impacted the country. Algerian state media yesterday reporting that in some parts of the fire zones, they have registered record temperatures 47 degrees Celsius in the shade. So the Algerian government has reached out says two European partners, allies to try and get support. Right now we understand they say they have managed to hire two firefighting planes they say from the E.U. that will be sent from Greece where they have been active in recent days to help put out the fires in Algeria.

We also heard from the French President Emmanuel Macron, yesterday saying that France will also be sending a number of firefighting planes to assist in this fight. And, you know, john, it's not just been the soldiers and the firefighters taking part in this effort. We have seen images, really heartbreaking devastating images of civilians, people trying to desperately extinguish the flames with whatever they could find.

Tree branches, you know, carrying the buckets of water and plastic containers in spraying water on these large flames that have engulfed so much of these forested areas in Northern Algeria. The government is insisting that this was a criminal act. They're saying that these fires were deliberate that this was premeditated criminal, basically saying it was arson that started these fires.

But at the same time, listen, John, we have seen what has been going on in the Mediterranean region in recent days, in recent weeks. You've had the same story in Turkey, in Greece, Cyprus, Italy. And this is what scientists have been warning. Yes, fires most of the time are started by humans, whether it's deliberate or not, is a different case. But what we're seeing right now, the scale of these fires, the ferocity of them, they say this is the result of climate change.

And they are warning that the Mediterranean region right now is becoming a hotspot for wildfires.

VAUSE: Jomana, thank you. Joamana Karadsheh live for us in Istanbul. Well, tropical storm Fred has weakened to a tropical depression as it dumps heavy rain, parts of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The system is moving Northwest now towards Cuba. Heavy flooding already expected. There's a chance Fred could strengthen again to a tropical storm later this week. Let's go to Pedram Javaheri with the very latest on where Fred is heading. So where is it now and what should we expect?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: You know, John, it's across the island of Hispaniola right now. Important to note the islands across this region, the elevation at Pico Duarte, which is the highest elevation on this particular island sits at over 10,000 feet or 3000 meters high. So that is higher than some 37 U.S. states right here in the middle of the Caribbean. So really important to note when you're looking at this region, it is as elevated as rugged as it gets.

And that is certainly a grave site for storms. It really weakens them significantly once they interact with this sort of land and the storm system was a tropical storm at its strongest. Now back down to a depression. We still do have Tropical Storm watches in advance of it because enough interaction with where warm waters could be in place here to allow the system to strengthen. Models have a pretty good consensus on where this will end up at least in the initial phase the forecast. On the next two to three days we think it'll hug right along the northern coast of Cuba.


JAVAGERI: Just about every single model wants to keep it at least a little offshore. Some do bring it inland where there are more mountains, but the majority of them keep it offshore. So that gives the storm system essentially a fighting chance here. As it traverses across a very warm water, even though it has just interacted with very mountainous landscape. You notice once we get to the third and fourth day, so we're talking late this weekend.

Notice how widespread the models get here, but half of them want to push it off towards the west into very warm waters, among the warmest you'll find anywhere in the world and the middle 30s and others want to push it closer to the West Coast of Florida. And that really will play a role on exactly how strong the system will get. The other element that is the inhibiting factor of this is even if it fights land and stays over water, see that area indicated in blue and yellow, that is wind shear or winds that are moving at different speeds in different elevations.

So, when you look at wind shear and put that in front of a storm system, it does a great job weakening storms and pushing them and breaking them apart. So storms and tropical systems, they like to be vertically stacked. They like that inflow that well air to rise that warm moist air that rises in the center of it. But once you increase wind speeds at different altitudes, you kind of cause the system to lean a little bit and that circulation that symmetry begins to break apart.

That is what is slated to happen with Fred once we get to this weekend when it approaches the United States. So again, gives us a better opportunity here hopefully to keep the storm system at bay. But the forecast models again, once you get to Saturday into Sunday, want to see gradual strengthening with it, will maybe take it up close to 100 kilometers per hour, but we hope that wind shear keeps it at bay.

Now, if it does want to veer a little farther off course and push back into portions of the Gulf, that is a different story. Shear is less there, waters are warmer there and that would be very concerning scenario. But at this point, John, we can thank high pressure as it parks their clockwise flow around this high pressure wants to steer the system potentially closer to land and into wind shear.

And all of this will keep it really weak through its entire lifecycle if it plays out as such. So, this is exactly what we're hoping for at least with this storm, John.

VAUSE: Pedram, thank you. We appreciate the update. Thank you.

JAVAHERI: Thank you.

VAUSE: Well reopening to the world. New Zealand will soon lift border restrictions which help the country avoid the worst of the pandemic. Details on that when we come back.


VAUSE: Despite increasing supplies of vaccines, COVID cases globally continue to rise. The World Health Organization says by early next year, the total number of infections will hit 300 million up from the current 200 million. And the real world number is much higher. So four million new cases were recorded just this week, many in North America. Mexico registered its most deadly infections ever on Wednesday.

Nearly 23,000. That brings Mexico's total number of cases to above three million. New Zealand is now set to ramp up vaccinations ahead of a phased reopening of its borders starting early next year.


VAUSE: Manisha Tank joins us live from Singapore. So, Manisha, New Zealand has been the sort of world leader in pandemic control. Does this decision to reopen the borders come with like a mixture of relief and anxiety?

MANISHA TANK, CNN JOURNALIST: I think it comes with a bit of apprehension. If the prime what the Prime Minister had to say is anything to go by apprehension around getting it right, really. And in some senses, you could say that New Zealand has done that since the beginning with the pandemic, they locked down very quickly, took advantage of their geographical position. And have managed to limit the overall case numbers of COVID-19 in the country to just 2500.

You may add our viewers know just what a low number that is, relatively speaking, and in the context of the numbers you just shared about current global cases. But it's a softly, softly approach. Yes, they want to ramp up vaccinations in order to open up come early next year, but they will do this in a tiered way. So people coming in from low-risk countries, we don't know which countries those will be yet, if they're vaccinated will not have to serve quarantines.

And those coming from high-risk areas, they will have to serve a 14- day quarantine. But it is all about vaccinations. Let's talk about the softly, softly approach. It was something that was made very clear by Prime Minister Jacinda Arden as New Zealand keeps its eye on what's happening in other countries. Let's see what she had to say.


JACINDA ARDEN, NEW ZEALAND PRIME MINISTER: We're not in a position to fully reopen just yet. When we move we will be careful and deliberate. Because we want to move with confidence and with as much certainty as possible. Rushing could see us in the situation many other countries are finding themselves and we're after sustained periods of case, numbers falling due to vaccination they're finding them rise again, after relaxing these sittings and opening the borders.


TANK: So step by step, and with confidence and certainty these were the big words coming out of a press conference. The statement coming from the Prime Minister. So, it isn't like a rush to travel to New Zealand just yet. And we have to wait and see which countries will be on which list I'm sure that in itself will be a Moveable Feast job.

VAUSE: Yes, absolutely. But at least there is progress being made. I guess that is a positive thing. But across the Tasman, a very different story from New Zealand in many parts of Australia. The lockdown, for example, which started in Sydney continues to be extended geographically to other areas. And there are very, very low vaccination rates. So this has been a bit of a -- the -- along with the Delta variant has been the main problem that they've been facing.

TANK: Yes, that's right. So you have states outside of New South Wales, which is where Sydney is. Looking at what's happening there, looking at the surging case rate and saying, OK, we don't want that happening in our state. Now, this has had some ramifications, actually, for the athletes who've just come back from the Tokyo Summer Olympics because at least 16 of them who come from South Australia, which is a state neighboring New South Wales, they've already done 14 days quarantine or in the midst of it in Sydney.

But they're being told they have to do another 14 days when they get to South Australia. And that really reflects for you the sort of trepidation that is around this, the concerns that are around the surging numbers in New South Wales. The Australian Olympic Committee, well, they've not been happy about this. And they've said that this policy is cruel and uncaring towards those athletes who obviously have been out there representing the country.

And they've also talked about the kind of thing that isolation can do to their mental state and their well-being. But no backing down from South Australia, the state, they are very concerned about the caseload in New South Wales. And meanwhile, in the capital, Canberra, we've heard about the first COVID case in a year. And on the basis of that, Canberra is going to be locking down for the next seven days taking this very seriously and bringing back mandatory mask wearing.

So I think that gives you a sense that some of the different states have slightly different policies, but they are very concerned about that Delta variant for sure.

VAUSE: One case among 300,000 people locked down. Interesting. Manisha, thank you. Manisha Tank there live for us in Singapore. Well, students in the United States are heading back to the classroom and some experts are warning that perhaps the most vulnerable group right now in this pandemic. Children under 12 are still not eligible for a COVID shot. That means they're most at risk for infection.

And that's a shift from earlier in the pandemic when the elderly were the most vulnerable. Dr. Anthony Fauci is not surprised.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR NATIONAL, INSTITUTE FOR ALLERGIES AND INFECTIOUS DISEASE: So when you look at a highly efficient virus and transmission, and you look at the relative proportion of vulnerable people, relatively speaking, the young are now more vulnerable, because they are in the cohort who's under vaccinated either children like 12 to 15, 12 to 18 who are eligible, who are not yet gotten vaccinated when they should or the children who was too young to get vaccinated.


FAUCI: So when you look anywhere in a hospital, you are seeing a relative proportion of people who are sick. A leaning much more towards the younger group. And that's not surprising.


VAUSE: Well, babies in Poland have passed two bills which have drawn criticism from the United States. The first is that media reform bill which threatens TVN24, the country's most watched Independent News Channel. The network is owned by a U.S. company has been critical the Polish government, but the new bill would ensure that companies from outside Europe cannot own Polish broadcasters.

The other measure passed makes it harder for Jews and other Holocaust victims to recover property. Seized by Nazis or Poland former communist government. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken says these pieces of legislation run counter to the principles and values for its modern Democratic nations stand.

It's now looking much more likely that the former leader of Sudan will stand trial for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Sudan's new government has taken a big step towards sending Omar al- Bashir to the International Criminal Court to answer for atrocities in Darfur more than a decade ago. We get details out from CNN's Scott McLean.

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Former Sudanese President Omar al- Bashir is already locked up in Sudan after being convicted for corruption in 2019, and is also facing trial there for the 1989 coup that brought him to power for the next 30 years. The indictments against him in The Hague pertain specifically to the Darfur conflict in the mid-2000s which killed hundreds of 1000s and displaced well over two million.

There are 10 charges in total covering war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. Al-Bashir specifically is accused of directing Arab militias to put down non-Arab rebel groups in Darfur, who were attempting an insurrection. But in the process, those militias also targeted innocent civilians, and prevented aid that was desperately needed, like food and medicine from getting in.

In February last year, Sudan, which is now run by a military transitional government promised it would handover al-Bashir to the International Criminal Court. And now the foreign minister is making good on that by signing on to the Rome Statute which allows the formal handover of al-Bashir to take place. One of his lawyers told CNN that the government's decision to hand him over to the ICC is a conspiracy.

And warn that if he is extradited to The Hague, it will be a disaster for Sudan. He also indicated that there are legal steps that the defense can take to drag out the process. And so, it is not clear when that handover could take place or how many others might go with him. Scott McLean, CNN, Nairobi.

VAUSE: Mexico is one of the world's most dangerous countries to journalists. And up next, the newest concern a prominent T.V. anchor receives a direct threat from a notorious drug cartel. More on that in a moment.



JOHN VAUSE, CNN NEWSROOM: Welcome back, everyone, I'm John Vause, you are watching CNN Newsroom.

Mexico's president has promised to protect a prominent T.V. anchor after her life was very publicly threatened by one of the country's most notorious drug cartels. Earlier this week during her regular news program, Azucena Uresti said she would not stop doing her job, which is covering cartel violence from Milenio T.V.

CNN's Matt Rivers has more now reporting from Mexico City.

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, one of Mexico's most powerful criminal groups, Jalisco New Generation Cartel, has directly threatened an extremely prominent journalist here in Mexico by the name of Azucena Uresti. She works as an anchor hosting a show for Milenio, a pretty big channel and media group here in Mexico.

And it was earlier this week that this criminal group posted a video that circulated widely on social media, where they directly threatened the life of Uresti, with one of the group's leaders saying in this video that CNN cannot independently confirm its authenticity. But in this video, this alleged leader says, quote, I assure you that if you continue talking about me, Azucena Uresti, wherever you are, I will get you and I will make you eat your words even if they accuse me of femicide because you don't know.

Uresti didn't respond to this video on her own show. Here is a little bit of what she had to say.


AZUCENA URESTI, MILENIO T.V. ANCHOR: I have joined a federal system of protection from the government. I repeat, our work will continue to based on the truth and with the intention of providing information on the reality of a country like ours. And as also has happened on other occasions, I express solidarity and support to hundreds of colleagues who are still threatened or will have had to leave their areas, but who keep on showing the value of information and their love for this profession.


RIVERS: And you hear her there talking about the threats that other journalists here in Mexico face. This is one of the most dangerous places in the entire world to be a local journalist. Mexican journalists here routinely risk their lives just doing their jobs.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, since the beginning of 2020, 13 journalist have been killed here in Mexico. Going back ten years, 76 journalists, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, have been killed here in Mexico. It is an incredibly dangerous job and what we are seeing with Uresti is a high-profile example of the threats that journalist face here every day.

Matt Rivers, CNN, Mexico City.

VAUSE: Outrage is growing in Canada after China sentenced Canadian Businessman Michael Spavor to 11 years in prison for espionage. His case along with of another Canadian citizen are considered to be politically motivated after a Huawei executive was arrested in Vancouver three years ago.

CNN's Paula Newton has details from Ottawa.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Certainly troubling events not just for Michael Spavor but also Michael Kovrig, who has also been found guilty of espionage. His sentence is yet to come down. This is the case of the two Michaels, both Canadian citizens who have been detained in China, really, since a Meng Wanzhou, a Huawei executive, the daughter of the founder of Huawei, was detained in Canada on an extradition request from the United States. And by all accounts, this is really all interconnected.

Now, certainly, Canada condemned this latest sentencing as unjust and completely unacceptable. The foreign minister going as far as to say it was a mock trial and saying that this was arbitrary detention, and that it was in the interest of all countries to make sure that China does not get away with this.

What is crucial here though is that Canada's foreign minister says that there are what he describes as intense discussions behind the scenes to try and come to a resolution. Take a listen.


MARC GARNEAU, CANADIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: I can assure you, and you heard President Biden comment back in February, that the detention of the two Michaels was completely unjustified, that they were treating them as though they were American citizens and that they are working with us to try and find a solution for the release of the two Michaels. And I can't go into any further details but those intense discussions continue.


NEWTON: What's interesting here is that these negotiations involve the United States. It will depend on what the U.S. Justice Department decides what they want to do with Meng Wanzhou, that is all connected to the case of the two Michaels, Michael Spavor and MICHAEL KOVRIG, who Canada says have been basically detained for no reason at all, with no transparency to the trial and no evidence.


It is those intense negotiations on which everything hinges right now.

And, remember, the calls have been louder to Boycott the Winter Olympics in China if these kinds of issues go any further. It is realistic that in the coming weeks and months, perhaps we will see some kind of negotiated resolution.

Paula Newton, CNN, Ottawa.

VAUSE: The UAE 2020 final will be remembered to England's heartbreaking finish and for the racist abuse hurled at players on social media. Now, the U.K. government says that the platforms need to shape up or pay up. More on that in a moment.


VAUSE: The U.S. state of Missouri has one of the lowest COVID vaccination rates in the country. But the same time in recent weeks, the number of children diagnosed and admitted to hospital with COVID has dramatically increased there. And there's the rub. The adults who choose not to be vaccinated are a major reason why children who are not eligible for vaccination are falling sick.

Here's Gary Tuchman.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A children's hospital in Missouri, and sitting on the couch is Angel Baker, a mother who has gone through a horrifying week. Her 14 year old daughter, Marionna, tested positive for COVID, got very sick and was put on oxygen for five days, and just as her daughter has seen excellent treatment here, at the Cardinal Glennon Hospital in St. Louis.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It might make you cough but that's what we want. That was a good one. Oh, I warned you. Good job, sis.

TUCHMAN: Marionna and her mother live about 150 miles away in Southern Missouri. She started feeling ill at home. It quickly got worse.

ANGEL BAKER, MARIONNA'S MOTHER: I was scared. I was panicking. Monday, August the 2nd, I decided to take her to urgent care because she told me she couldn't breathe.

TUCHMAN: The decision was made for Marionna to be transported by ambulance to this renowned children's hospital. For Marionna, it was like a nightmare.


TUCHMAN: When you saw her struggling to breathe with the oxygen, what was going through your mind?

A. BAKER: Just praying, asking God to bring her back, keep her safe.

TUCHMAN: Were you afraid she wasn't going to make it?

A. BAKER: Yes sir.

TUCHMAN: The 40-year-old mother says she received the vaccine but says her daughter did not.

Why didn't she get vaccinated.

A. BAKER: I don't know. I left it up to her. And she decided she didn't want to get vaccinated.

TUCHMAN: I don't mean to make you feel badly, because you've gone through so much. My guess is, and I'm making an educated guess, that you wish you insisted on her getting vaccinated.

A. BAKER: Yes.

TUCHMAN: There are currently children as young as two years old in the pediatric intensive care unit and the regular patient rooms at this hospital. Of course, children under 12 cannot yet get the vaccine.

Last year at this time, doctors here say the typical numbers of children with COVID coming into the emergency room on a daily basis were zero, or one or two.


Now they say that daily number is usually 11, 12 or 13.

Dr. Wail Hayajneh is a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the hospital.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are seeing more severe cases, we're seeing more cases in the ICU and I'm seeing more cases that require longer durations of treatment in the hospital.

TUCHMAN: Dr. Aline Tanios is the surgical unit medical director here.

DR. ALINE TANIOS, CARDINAL GLENNON CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL: It's agonizing sometimes, especially when you see some of these kids spiraling down before they head to the ICU.

TUCHMAN: How many children who are ill with COVID in this hospital have gotten a vaccine also?


TUCHMAN: Marionna has turned the corner and is looking forward to recuperating at home and then being well enough to start your life as a high school freshman. She left us with this message.

M. BAKER: Get a vaccine so you won't have to be in the hospital and can't be able to breathe.

TUCHMAN: And her mother had one too.

A. BAKER: Please, parents, get vaccinated and get your kids vaccinated. It's real. Don't let no school, no governor, nothing, it's real.


TUCHMAN (on camera): There are certainly wonderful people who work in this hospital but it's a sad and solemn place to be. And that's why the news I'm about to tell you is very nice. Marionna has been released from the hospital, she is back home recuperating with her mother by her side. She was supposed to start high school a week from Monday. She won't be able to go to school just yet. But her mother says she's hoping she will be able to attend school perhaps before the end of September.

One more interesting note, Marionna has a 12-year-old sister who also had not gotten her vaccine. Her mother, Angel, was here by Marionna's side at this hospital. They drove this past Friday more than two hours to their hometown Southern Missouri and took her younger daughter to get her vaccination.

This is Gary Tuchman, CNN in St. Louis, Missouri.

VAUSE: Thank you for watching CNN Newsroom. I'm John Vause. Please stay with us. World Sports starts after a break.