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Haiti Devastated by 7.2 Magnitude Earthquake; Tsunami Warning Issued in Wake of Caribbean Earthquake; Some States Running Out of ICU Beds as COVID Cases Surge; More Children Sick from Infections of Delta Variant of COVID-19. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired August 14, 2021 - 10:00   ET



MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: I don't know. I think I still like only the Lord saves more than Parent." See you next week.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. It's Saturday, August 14th. We're glad you're with us. I'm Boris Sanchez.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Christi Paul. We begin with breaking news this morning. A 7.2 magnitude earthquake has struck western Haiti. Take a look at some of the pictures we are just getting in here. Officials say high casualties are probable. The disaster is likely widespread. Look at what has happened to these buildings. They're just rubble. The shaking from the quake, we understand, was so severe that it was felt across the Caribbean. And that made people run to their homes and fear that buildings might collapse.

SANCHEZ: Yes, a tsunami threat has now been issued in the region. And we have to point out, Haiti is still recovering from the last time they experienced a 7.0 magnitude earthquake back in 2010, roughly 11 years ago. It killed mor 100,000 people.

Let's get straight to CNN's Patrick Oppmann. He's live in Havana. Also with us, Allison Chinchar who is live at the CNN Weather Center. Patrick, complicating this recovery is the fact that Haiti in recent months has been going through a lot of political upheaval, so what is the recovery like right now? What more can you tell us?

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think the recovery is just beginning, if anything. The pictures we've seen are people in the streets, understandably very distressed. Rubble everywhere. People shouting for help. And of course, one of the major issues with that devastating 2010 earthquake was that so much of the construction in Haiti is just not up to any kind of code. It is not built to withstand this kind of earthquake. And that is why you saw such a high death toll back in 2010, and that is perhaps going to perhaps lead to -- we don't know if it's going to be anywhere near the tens of thousands of dead, but certainly already it does seem to be the kind of earthquake that would likely cause deaths and injuries. And again, when you have construction like we have seen that just does not hold up to these kinds of earthquakes, something that is very common in Haiti, that leads to a higher death toll.

So we know it's 7.2 magnitude earthquake, 10 kilometers deep. It is to the west of Port-au-Prince, that's the capital city of Haiti and, of course, the main population center. So that is perhaps good news in the sense that it didn't hit as populated an area as the 2010 quake. But we'll go back to what the U.S. Geological Survey sent out a little while ago, that this quake likely led to, quote, high casualties, and, quote, widespread disaster.

So Haiti is just not a country that is set up to respond to this kind of event. They needed a lot of help after the 2010 quake. You suspect that they will need help again. In the middle of a pandemic that is going to be even more complicated. But certainly, more people right now in very, very dire straits there.

PAUL: I was wondering about the resources that they might even have available to manage something like this right now. Patrick, thank you so much.

Allison, I want to go to you now. A 7.2 magnitude, we've seen tsunami warnings in the region. Talk to us about how prominent those are and what your expectations are at this point.

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Right, so liquefication is probably going to be the bigger concern, that and aftershocks going to forward from this point on. The magnitude 7.0, depth of 10 kilometers, as Patrick mentioned. Again, comparing it to the previous one, the one that he mentioned in 2010, this shows you the distance between the two. And again, it makes more of an impact because of the fact that the previous one was so much closer to Port-au-Prince. This one being a little bit less populated. Still populated, but less than the capital city.

It's also considered a shallow quake too. That has a lot of impact when you're talking about the damage. Technically anything 44 miles or 70 kilometers or less is considered shallow, even though you wouldn't necessarily think of something 44 miles deep as being shallow. One thing to talk about, the population that felt it, you have over half- a-million people that felt very strong shaking, and 5 million people that felt moderate shaking, not just in Haiti but some of the surrounding areas.

We are likely to see what they consider an orange pager for economic losses around this area, mostly dealing with the structures that are there. And again, the images when you see what's coming out of it, it makes sense, because you're seeing a lot of the rubble coming down from these particular areas.

One thing to note, too, these structures have now become compromised from the initial quake. Now that we start to see aftershocks, more buildings could start to sustain damage even if those aftershocks are not as strong. We've already had one 5.2 aftershock, more are likely to continue, and, yes, even more of them could continue to be strong.

[10:05:03] We mentioned liquefication. The biggest concern for that is going to be all the areas closest to the epicenter. So not necessarily Port-au- Prince, but a little farther to the west. Some of you may be thinking what is liquefication exactly. When you have the earthquake take place, the shaking destabilizing that soil that is directly underneath it, and it mixes with the groundwater, essentially making the ground liquefied. And you'll have that. One thing to add on top of that is rain. We do want to mention that tropical storm Grace does have Haiti in the cone of uncertainty over the next several days. Not only is that likely going to make any liquefaction, again, it's going to make that area just mush and mud, but it's also going to hinder a lot of the recovery efforts too in this area as they trying to clean up if they have to contend with damaging winds as well as very heavy rainfall and things of that nature, guys.

PAUL: Good heavens. All right, Allison, that's a lot to think about. We will be watching. Thank you so much.

We're going to stay on top of this for you, of course, and bring you any of the new developments as we get them. Thank you both.

SANCHEZ: Pivoting now to the coronavirus pandemic, COVID-19 cases are overwhelming hospitals across the country as infections skyrocket because of the Delta variant. There have been more than 1.5 million cases reported in the month of August alone. Listen to this, no other country in the world is seeing a surge like the United States right now.

PAUL: Look at all that red there and the orange in the south. States there quickly running out of hospital beds, we understand. In Mississippi, doctors have turned a parking garage into a field hospital. The situation is even worse in Dallas, Texas, where officials say there are absolutely, quote, no ICU beds at all for children. Here's County Judge Clay Jenkins.


JUDGE CLAY JENKINS, DALLAS COUNTY, TEXAS: In Dallas we have zero ICU beds left for children. That means if your child is in a car wreck, if your child has a heart -- congenital heart defect or something, needs an ICU bed, or more likely, if they need COVID and need an ICU bed, we don't have one. Your child will wait for another child to die.


SANCHEZ: And it's easy to just gloss over these numbers. We've been hearing so many of them during the pandemic. But it's important to remember that a lot of families are suffering because of this virus. I want you to listen to one father in Arkansas giving an emotional plea for more people to get vaccinated after his one-year-old son was hospitalized because of COVID.


KYLE BUTRUM, FATHER OF CARTER BUTRUM, ONE-YEAR-OLD IN HOSPITAL WITH COVID: The only thing you can do to prevent someone else from doing this is to get your vaccine, so that another child doesn't have to do this, and another family doesn't have to send their kid away, so another father doesn't have to stand at the back of an ambulance and wonder if that's the last time you're going to see your son.


PAUL: Anybody can put themselves in that position and try to understand what that would be like. A lot of people are listening. Yesterday the White House reported nearly 100,000 people received shots. That's the strongest day of vaccinations since before the Fourth of July.

SANCHEZ: Let's get straight to CNN's Polo Sandoval for more on this. He's been tracking all the latest headlines. Polo, what are you seeing in the numbers?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The numbers really tell a big part of the story. And perhaps one of the best ways to share that with viewers is when you see the map itself. It is perhaps one of the most compelling visuals right now, when you see which parts of the country, including where that Arkansas father is, really experiencing a bulk of these cases right now. Combining this with the most recent CNN analysis of government data showing that a combined eight states, mostly there, as you see, in the south in addition to Nevada, right now seeing over half of COVID patients.

Adding to that, the White House saying that both Texas and Florida alone, they have already accounted for nearly 40 percent of new COVID hospitalizations. And you mentioned just a little while ago that the United States in terms of globally being hit the hardest, but then you hear from one expert, Dr. Peter Hotez, which we've heard from multiple times already, saying that area from Texas to Florida, it is now the epicenter of the epicenter.


DR. PETER HOTEZ, PROFESSOR AND DEAN OF TROPICAL MEDICINE, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: This is starting to look really ominous in the south where I am. Now if you look at the rates of transmission in Florida and Louisiana, they're actually probably the highest in the world. That's how badly things have gotten out of hand.


SANDOVAL: And as we now know, the Food and Drug Administration has revised its emergency use authorization now to allow for certain Americans to now be able to get a third additional vaccine dose. Important to point out this is only for those who have not been able to build up that antibody protection after the second either Moderna or Pfizer shot.


We heard from, for example, CVS Health Care, who says their facilities are already prepared to begin administering that third vaccine. It's important again, to point out that's only for those who are immunocompromised. There are various protocols in place at various locations to make sure that those who don't need that shot right now don't get it.

PAUL: All right, Polo Sandoval there in New York for us. Polo, thank you so much.

CNN's Adrienne Broaddus is in Jackson, Mississippi, where a record number of people are hospitalized because of COVID-19, and hospitals, we're told, are on the brink of running out of beds there. So Adrienne, talk to us about what you're seeing there and what you're being told. Is there a plan?

ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The plan is already under way, Christi. Inside this parking structure behind me, the lower level has been transformed into a COVID unit. And we want to be clear, COVID patients who need critical care treatment won't be seen on that lower level of the parking garage. It is for patients who need minimal care. If you step inside and take a look where you would normally see parked cars, there are 20 hospital beds. This came on the same day the state reported more than 5,000 new COVID cases and more than 30 deaths. We heard from a state health official, Dr. Thomas Dobbs. He says the data is showing a troubling trend over the last four days. Listen in.


THOMAS DOBBS, MISSISSIPPI STATE HEALTH OFFICER: We reported the largest number of COVID cases a day that we ever have. We reported 5,023 cases and 31 deaths today, 166 nursing home outbreaks. When we look at the deaths that we've had over the past four days, I want to do a little bit of a dive. We've lost four healthy people in their 20s, two of whom were pregnant, zero vaccinated.


BROADDUS: Tough numbers for some to hear. And Christi, you talked about the challenge of not having enough bed space. The governor here, Tate Reeves, says it's more challenging that finding beds. Within the last year more than 2,000 health care professionals across the state have left the business. So they are trying to find more health care professionals to come in and treat these patients. Christi and Boris?

SANCHEZ: These scenes of field hospitals being set up in parking garages, reminiscent of the early era of the pandemic, even though 98 percent of those cases unvaccinated. It could have been prevented. Adrienne Broaddus in Jackson, Mississippi, thank you so much.

Here with us now is someone who has experienced firsthand the strain that health care workers are feeling in areas where COVID cases and hospitalizations are surging. Dr. Mark Kline is with us now. He's the physician-in-chief at Children's Hospital in New Orleans. Dr. Kline, we appreciate you sharing part of your Saturday with us. You've said the COVID positivity rate for children has risen in recent weeks with some kids needing to be hospitalized, a few even in the ICU. This virus typically doesn't harm young kids, so what's going on? Why is this happening? DR. MARK KLINE, PHYSICIAN-IN-CHIEF, CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL NEW ORLEANS:

Boris, this Delta variant really has been a game-changer. We're seeing far more infections than we have in the past in children. Within the past week, about 100,000 children were newly diagnosed with COVID-19 nationally, 6,000 here in Louisiana alone. And hospitalizations for children are at an all-time high. There are about 2,000 children hospitalized nationally. Currently here at Children's Hospital New Orleans we currently have 16 children in the hospital with a diagnosis of COVID-19. Six of those are in the pediatric intensive care unit. So this virus is not only more transmissible, more contagious than earlier variants of the virus, but we also seem to be seeing more severe disease in children.

SANCHEZ: And are the symptoms that you're seeing in kids similar to what you've seen in adults? Is there a difference?

KLINE: The symptoms are similar. What ordinarily lands a child in the hospital is respiratory symptoms, sort of a pneumonia-type picture, respiratory distress. Typically, the child will have fever, and they may have other complaints like severe headache or abdominal pain, that sort of thing, but it's really the pulmonary complications, the pneumonia, that lands the child in the hospital or in the intensive care unit.

SANCHEZ: So slightly fewer than 38 percent of people in Louisiana are fully vaccinated. It lags behind the national average. What is your message, seeing everything that you're seeing as you're trying to take care of patients, for those who remain unvaccinated?


KLINE: Boris, the sad reality is that children have become the collateral damage of adults who have made a personal choice not to be vaccinated. These children who are falling ill have been infected by unvaccinated adults who are in their environment. That can be their parents or an aunt or an uncle or just some other adult in their environment that they come into contact with.

Children under 12, of course, are not yet eligible for vaccination, so they're completely vulnerable. And even in the adolescent age group, 12 to 17 years of age, here in Louisiana only about 13 percent of those adolescents have received vaccination. That's much lower than the national number of about 33 percent or 34 percent.

So as adults and as a society, we have an obligation, I think, to protect our most vulnerable members, and those are children who don't have an opportunity to take a vaccine and protect themselves. So I would encourage adults, all of them who are eligible, to take the vaccination. And as an interim measure, masks are the next best thing. And we all need to be masking up, and that includes in the schools where we know that universal masking is very effective at preventing transmission. And so kids and teachers and staff in the schools need to be masking up.

SANCHEZ: I want to ask you about getting kids under 12 vaccinated. The FDA recently asking Pfizer and Moderna to expand their clinical trials. The surgeon general telling CNN this week that it could be authorized for young children before the end of the year. Are you frustrated at how long the approval process has taken, or is that just baked in, that there needs to be a collection of data to ensure that it can't harm kids long term?

KLINE: Boris, I'm less frustrated than I am impatient. But this is a movie that we've seen before. No matter what rules are put in place and what incentives are given to the companies that produce the drugs, it seems that over and over again we've seen examples of lifesaving medications that were approved for use in adults, and then there was a long lag before those medications or vaccine in this case, were approved for children. We just, we've got to do better.

And the risk-benefit calculation is changing daily. So while we don't want to cut any corners with safety is concerned, we've got more and more children falling ill, being hospitalized. We know that the deaths will lag behind hospitalizations, but it's probable that we're going to be seeing more deaths among children. We've got to get this moving. And it would be nice to know that it's not being delayed because of bureaucratic hurdles.

SANCHEZ: Certainly, especially when you think about the fact that until now one of the silver linings of this is that children have been spared the brunt of the virus, and now it sounds like that is potentially starting to change. So hopefully more people will heed your advice and get the vaccine. Dr. Mark Kline, we have to leave the conversation there. Thank you so much for your perspective.

KLINE: Thank you.

PAUL: Listen to this number -- FEMA has announced it's doled out more than $1 billion to help families of coronavirus victims having to bury the people they love. And this is just since this past April when the program began. The federal disaster agency said the program has helped 150,000 people. The money can cover a burial plot, casket, cremation, other expenses. The effort is the largest of its type for the agency, which normally provides aid to families during natural disasters.

The other major issue consuming the White House's attention this morning is Afghanistan. President Biden under pressure as the Taliban blitzes through town after town, and U.S. personnel at the embassy in Kabul are told to destroy sensitive material.



SANCHEZ: Afghanistan is teetering on the brink, as Taliban fighters make gains seemingly by the hour. Intelligence suggests that the capital city, Kabul, could be isolated within 72 hours to one week.

PAUL: Now, the Taliban already control more than half of the country's provincial capitals. The Biden administration is deploying 3,000 troops to evacuate diplomats from the U.S. embassy as the situation is continuing to deteriorate at this point. CNN White House reporter Natasha Bertrand is with us live. Natasha, so

good to see you. What more can you tell us about this embassy evacuation plan?

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, Christi, as you said, the Biden administration is sending about 3,000 marines and soldiers to Afghanistan as well as additional 4,000 to the region to help with that massive evacuation plan to get U.S. diplomats and employees out of Kabul and leave only a core diplomatic presence there.

But in the meantime, they are instructing all employees at that embassy in Kabul to destroy any sensitive materials, including anything that could be used for propaganda purposes, like American flags, for example. Remember, this is not only a diplomatic outpost. This is also a very important and major intelligence-gathering center. And so anything that remains there that the Taliban could get their hands on could pose a serious national security threat.

So burn bins, incinerators, those are being made available to embassy staff in a real sign that they are concerned that Kabul could be isolated within the next two or three days or, more optimistically, within the next week or so.

But again, in the meantime, they are considering actually relocating the embassy in Kabul to the Kabul airport in case they have to employ a full evacuation of all U.S. diplomatic staff there.


That, of course, would allow them to have a swifter evacuation out of the country in case things really start spiraling out of control.

PAUL: Natasha Bertrand, we appreciate the update. Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Back in the United States now, a top official with the Department of Homeland Security is warning that online calls for violence are similar to the buildup we saw before the January 6th insurrection. Homeland Security intelligence chief John Cohen telling CNN that the rhetoric being spouted by online extremists is rooted in theories of election fraud and other conspiracies. Cohen said the agency has observed comments like, quote, the system is broken, and bring out the gallows. They remarks come after DHS issued a new terrorism bulletin warning the public about volatile online threats.

PAUL: All of this is happening as some defendants accused of breaching the U.S. Capitol in support of former president Donald Trump are still defiant. The judges presiding over their cases have been increasingly speaking up, even as some Republicans continue to push lies about what happened that day.

SANCHEZ: CNN's Marshall Cohen joins us now to discuss. And Marshall, why are some of these judges deciding to speak out against what happened during the capitol riot?

MARSHALL COHEN, CNN REPORTER: Good morning, guys. I think it's partially because of what you just mentioned, that the climate out there is still a lot of people whitewashing what happened on January 6th, pushing their own narratives of what they think happened. A lot of these rioters have said that they feel like they were invited in. They didn't know that they were doing anything wrong.

And judges, they're really not having it. And they're also not liking what they're hearing from Congress, especially from Republican lawmakers that are downplaying the attack. Let me read for you a quote from one of the judges who's overseeing many of these January 6th cases. Her name is Amy Berman Jackson. At a recent plea hearing, here's what she said. Quote, "You called yourself and everyone else patriots, but that's not patriotism. Patriotism is loyalty to country, loyalty to the Constitution, not loyalty to a head of state. That is the tyranny we rejected on July 4th."

So she, the judge here, is invoking the American revolution and the values that were fought for in the revolution to say this was not about one man, Donald Trump. You think you're a patriot, you think you're doing the right thing. You were not. Now you have to possibly go to jail or face a sentence over this.

So the judges are speaking out, sort of carrying the torch of democracy, while other people in Washington are kind of letting it die out.

PAUL: Interesting. Marshall Cohen, thank you. We appreciate it.

SANCHEZ: Thanks, Marshall.

As the COVID-19 rampage continues across the country, more restaurants and businesses are requiring employees and customers to be vaccinated. And there's one way, an easy way you can find out which restaurants are doing this. Yelp is allowing users to search by vax requirements. We'll speak with a representative from the company after a quick break.



PAUL: You know the Delta variant is driving more businesses to go beyond state and federal mandates. They're requiring vaccinations for their employees, and even their customers in some cases. When you want to go out and eat safely, how do you know which businesses are making that tough call and which aren't? Review website Yelp rolled out new features last week, proof of vaccination required, and all staff fully vaccinated filters. Those two filters that allow users to search for restaurants based on COVID safety. So the vice president of user operations at Yelp is with us now, Noorie Malik. Thank you so much for being with us. Good to have you here. First of all, were these filters embraced by the businesses when you started?

NOORIE MALIK, YELP, VICE PRESIDENT OF USER OPERATIONS: Good morning, Christi, it's good to be here. Thank you for having me. Yes, thanks for asking this. The response has been overwhelmingly positive to these filters. So it's been great to see how quickly the vaccination attributes are being used as a communication tool by both business owners as well as users.

In a little over a week, more than 9,000 businesses have added proof of vaccination required and/or all staff fully vaccinated on their Yelp page. We're also seeing consumers using these search filters. In fact, the vaccination attributes are now within our top 15 most used filters on Yelp. And this really just shows us that it was the right thing to do to help people make more informed decisions.

PAUL: So I understand, and correct me if I'm wrong here, that this was in response to something called "review bombing," basically overrunning a business page with one-star reviews from people who really haven't even been to the restaurant. To what do you attribute that review bombing, and how prevalent is it?

MALIK: Yes. So review bombing incidents are primarily focused on people's stance on specific issues, for example, COVID vaccinations rather than their actual experience with a business. All Yelp reviews must be based on a firsthand consumer experience, so we may place unusual activity alerts on Yelp pages when we have an increase in activity in response to a business gaining public attention for their public stance on a particular issue. Tackling review bombing incidents have just been an increasingly significant issue in the online review platform ecosystem, which is why Yelp has always heavily invested in addressing this phenomenon for years.


PAUL: So what is the protocol if you spot something that's questionable? And how do you decipher that other than the volume that you might see in terms of the reviews that are posted, particularly negative?

MALIK: Yes, I can speak to a specific phenomenon. And I'm so glad you asked this question. At the start of the pandemic, we actually introduced special COVID content guidelines to protect businesses from reputational harm over their health and safety precautions. If a review is primarily focused on criticizing a business's vaccination policy, we will remove those reviews from Yelp.

PAUL: OK. So what have the businesses told you at this point about the new filters? Do they believe it's actually helping keep people safe? Are they seeing a lot of backlash, maybe even outside Yelp?

MALIK: The good news here is that businesses have reported -- have responded very positively to these filters. And to answer your other question, what we are seeing on yelp is essentially out of the 9,000 businesses that have taken on these filters or have added these filters, we've only removed about 30 or so reviews that didn't meet our content guidelines.

PAUL: OK. Well, Noorie Malik, we appreciate you being with us so much and explaining it to us. Thank you for taking time with us this morning.

MALIK: Thank you for having me, Christi.

PAUL: Of course, of course.

SANCHEZ: Still ahead on Newsroom, a search of migrants at the U.S./Mexico border at a level not seen in over two decades. Excessive heat and COVID two factors adding to the uptick. We'll take you to Texas for a report after a quick break. Stay with us.



PAUL: It's 41 minutes past the hour right now. In Texas, a federal judge is blocking an executive order by Governor Greg Abbott. The governor tried to stop the transportation of migrants recently released from custody. Instead, the judge extended a temporary restraining order for another two weeks. The order was originally framed as a public health measure to address COVID-19, which is surging in Texas.

SANCHEZ: Right now, the United States is seeing unprecedented numbers of migrants illegally crossing the southern border. Customs and Border Protection reports more than 212,000 people crossed in July alone. That's up from June to a rate not seen in over two decades.

PAUL: The Homeland Security secretary now says the pandemic has made the situation even harder to control. CNN's Nick Valencia is in McAllen, Texas, with more.


ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: We are facing a serious challenge at our southern border, and the challenge is of course made more acute and more difficult because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A surge in migrant traffic unseen in over two decades. An unprecedented number of migrants are escaping worsening conditions in their home countries, braving the summit of the sweltering summer heat. Global temperatures in July, the hottest on record. Last month alone, over 212,000 apprehensions were made along the border during a time of the year when numbers historically drop. The astronomical numbers were helped by repeat offenders. An estimated 27 percent of July crossings were made by those who tried and failed to cross in the last year, due to a Trump era policy that allowed authorities to turn migrants away at the border. Pleas from the secretary of Homeland Security to migrants not to come to the U.S., warning they will be denied entry or expelled not enough to deter those seeking refuge.

MAYORKAS: It is critical that intending migrants understand clearly that they will be turned back if they enter the United States illegally and do not have a basis for relief under our laws.

VALENCIA: Customs and Border Protection also managing an unprecedented wave of unaccompanied children, with almost 19,000 arriving and arrested at the border in July, surpassing the previous record set in March, when border facilities were overcrowded and flooded with minors who waited on average over 120 hours in Border Patrol custody.

MAYORKAS: Just as we did with the challenge of unaccompanied children in March of this year, we have a plan. We are executing our plan, and that takes time.

VALENCIA: The Biden administration has been careful not to call the border surge a crisis, instead insisting the real problem involves diagnosing and addressing the conditions the migrants are fleeing.

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The crisis in Central America, the dire circumstances that many are fleeing from, that that is a situation we need to spend our time, our effort on, and we need to address it if we're going to prevent more of an influx of migrants from coming in years to come.


VALENCIA: But for some who live along the southern border, that is not good enough.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hire more immigration judges, more asylum officers to process these asylums faster.


SANCHEZ: That was Nick Valencia reporting from McAllen, Texas. Thank you, Nick.

We are continuing to follow some breaking news out of western Haiti. Just a short time ago the nation hit with a 7.2 magnitude earthquake. You're looking at new images we just received of some of the destruction. Officials are saying that there is a high likelihood of a large number of casualties. The disaster likely widespread. Of course, it's important to remember that Haiti is still recovering from the last time they experienced a 7.0 magnitude earthquake back in 2010. Remember, that killed more than 100,000 people. We're going to keep watching the situation and bring you any new details as we get them.

PAUL: Stay with us. We know that Broadway is getting ready to reopen at full capacity only to people who are vaccinated here. We're talking with Tony award-winning actress Ali Stroker after all of this after a quick break.



PAUL: You may like this news. Broadway theaters can reopen at full capacity next month as long as audiences and cast members are fully vaccinated. It's been a long road to get to this point, right? Broadway first shut down in March of 2020, about a year and a half ago obviously. The journey to get to the reopening has been documented in a new book. It's called "When the Lights are Bright Again." It was created by Andrew Norlen, filled with over 200 essays and reflections from people who work in the theater district. And one of those artists, Tony Award-winning actress Ali Stroker, is with us now. Ali, good morning to you. We're so glad to have you here.


PAUL: Of course. So I want to just ask you about that moment. Take us back to that moment when you heard Broadway is going dark. What was that like for all of you?

STROKER: I remember reading the press release that Broadway was closing, and I was shocked. I never thought that we would be shut down for this long. I think we all thought it was going to be about two weeks. So when it continued and here we are a year-and-a-half later, everybody is just so, so shocked by this.

PAUL: And the work that you do to get to where you are on Broadway, you know, the competition, and you work so fiercely to get there, help us understand what that was like for you when it was gone and you had to decide, now what do I do?

STROKER: Being a Broadway performer is basically like my life. And for everyone who works on Broadway, not just the performers, right, but the people who work backstage, ushers, producers, directors, choreographers, everybody was sort of unsure about how to move forward because we perform live. And that was no longer possible. So we all really had to pivot, and so much of my community did virtual performing this past year and tried to stay connected to the community. But it's been really, really difficult.

PAUL: What has been the most difficult part for all of you?

STROKER: I think the most challenging piece of this is not being able to be in person. Live theater is so unique. And not being able to be on stage and working together, collaborating, not having audiences, you're really left alone. And that has really, really been hard.

PAUL: It's true, the collaboration part of it is different when you're virtual as opposed to when you're in a room with everybody and you're face to face. I know that that's different. This book that we're talking about, that you're quoted in, is dedicated to actor Nick Cordero. He died of COVID. Of course, he was just 41 years old. How did that affect the theater community?

STROKER: Everyone is so devastated about what happened. And Nick made such an impact on the Broadway community. And nobody will ever forget him. He is so special to all of us. And so that really rocked everybody.

PAUL: Yes. And he left behind, I know, a very young son, a year old, and his wife. But hopefully there's this newfound freshness that is going to start since it looks like things are going to reopen. And you've got your project, one of my favorites, I have to say, "Wicked." Talk to us about that.

STROKER: I am going to be a part of the "Wicked" special on PBS. And I'm really looking forward to it. There's many performers and singers that are going to be a part of it. And I hope that audiences really enjoy it. And it will be on PBS. PAUL: OK, we will be looking for it. Ali Stroker, welcome back to the

stage. Thank you so much for taking time for us today.

STROKER: Thanks for having me.


PAUL: Of course. Best of luck to you.

And be sure to join CNN for "We Love New York City, The Homecoming Concert." This once in a lifetime concert event starts next Saturday, 5:00 p.m. eastern, exclusively here on CNN.

Thank you so much for spending time with us. We appreciate your company, and we hope that you make good memories today.

SANCHEZ: And we hope to see you again tomorrow starting at 6:00 a.m. But don't go anywhere. There's still much more ahead in the next hour of CNN newsroom. Fredricka Whitfield is up next.


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone, thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. We begin this hour with breaking news.