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C.D.C. and F.D.A. Lift Pause on Johnson & Johnson Coronavirus Vaccine; Key Model Suggests Daily U.S. COVID Deaths Expected to Decline Steadily Until August 1; NC Calls for Body Camera Video to be Made Public in Brown Shooting; Gaetz Probe Includes Scrutiny Of Potential Public Corruption Tied To Medical Marijuana Industry; CDC, FDA, Lift Pause On J&J Coronavirus Vaccine; Health Officials Battle Conspiracy Theories; Biden Nears His First 100 Days In Office; Feds: Riot Suspect Turned In By Bumble Match After Bragging About Storming U.S. Capitol. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired April 23, 2021 - 20:00   ET



DR. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: American healthcare workers at risk every single day, and after spending the evening taking care of a person having a heart attack with active COVID, it just got to me and I stood in the shower for a long time.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: Understand that.

REINER: Thinking about you know where we've been, and how we need to put this away once and for all.

BOLDUAN: Doctor, thank you so much.

Thank you all so much for joining us tonight.

REINER: My pleasure.

BOLDUAN: AC 360 starts now and an Anderson, I know you're picking up on this breaking news in this very important development on Johnson & Johnson tonight.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Yes, we are. Thanks so much. Appreciate it. Great coverage. Appreciate it, Kate.

Good evening, everybody. Two big breaking items in the race between the coronavirus and vaccines that have shown they can stop it cold. Within the hour, the C.D.C. and F.D.A. made it official, they are lifting their recommended pause on the use of Johnson & Johnson single dose shot.

Also, late today, hopeful new numbers from the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation showing the effect vaccination is already having on death rates.

Now that said, the news comes as the daily number of people rolling up their sleeves appears to be dropping somewhat, perhaps in part due to initial concerns over the J&J vaccine. Concerns that tonight, public health officials are seeking to put into some kind of reasonable perspective.

Joining us as he has been from the beginning of all this, CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. So Sanjay, what specifically have public health officials decided about the J&J vaccine and why?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they are basically going to, first of all, they made a decision, because you know, they are -- no more kicking the can down the road, and the decision is to lift the pause. This pause that has been in place now for some time, and they're going to put out warnings. They are basically going to say that there is a risk of blood clotting and a condition where your platelets actually can go low. So people should be aware of that, and also clinicians, people who may take care of these patients now know that this is a rare, very rare, but possible occurrence here, and it needs to be treated a certain way.

Anderson, I'm going to put up this graphic here. Just you know, when you think about risk versus benefit, that's what really the emergency use authorization is all about. And that's what they really looked at here.

If you look on the left, that's women between the ages of 18 and 49. For every one million doses given, we saw roughly 13 cases of this condition of clotting, but at the same time prevented 12 deaths for every one million doses, prevented 127 ICU admissions, that's the risk benefit sort of ratio for women over the age of 50.

It's even -- it's even greater, the benefits versus the risks. That's ultimately what this decision was about -- Anderson.

COOPER: So, was it a mistake then to pause it?

GUPTA: I don't think so. I think there were two reasons. First of all, we knew of six women initially, but you know, sometimes these things are hard to figure out. Like you may have other people who develop this problem but didn't actually relate it to the vaccine. When they do a pause like this, it sort of sends a signal, hey, is there anyone else out there? Are we looking for needles in a haystack? Or is this the tip of an iceberg?

There were a few more women who came forward that may have this associated problem, but not a lot. No matter how you look at the numbers, it is very rare.

But there was something else. This is such a rare condition that clinicians oftentimes will treat this clot with a medication that can make things worse, a medication known as heparin. So, they needed to send a signal as well that, hey, if you do see this, this is how it should be treated.

COOPER: And clearly, they're going to try to work to get that message out that it is very rare. How soon do you think they'll be able to start or that people will start making appointments again for the J&J vaccine?

GUPTA: Well, I think they can. They'll be able to make appointments again this weekend, maybe even tomorrow morning in some places. There's nine million of these doses that have been actually already distributed to states.

So, this could happen very quickly. I mean, we saw the Advisory Committee, we saw Rochelle Walensky from the C.D.C. sign off on this so this could happen quickly. In terms of will people make appointments. If that's the other part of your question, I mean, you know, I think that whenever things like this happen, there's two sort of schools of thought.

One is, wow, they found something that occurs just a few in a million times. That's how granular their safety signal detection is. But it may fuel some hesitancy as well. So we'll see how much -- you know, how much it picks up.

COOPER: Sanjay, stay with us because I want to bring in Dr. Chris Murray from I.H.M.E. Dr. Murray, so your new model projects that the death rate will continue to decline between now and August 1st. In addition to the vaccine, what's contributing to that decline or expected decline? And what does it say about potential fourth wave?

DR. CHRIS MURRAY, DIRECTOR OF THE INSTITUTE FOR HEALTH METRICS AND EVALUATION, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON: Well, the key drivers there are what you said, Anderson, you know, vaccination going up, but also, we're past the peak of seasonality for the coronavirus that peaked in about February and with every passing week, as we get into the summer, we would expect transmission potential to be going down.

So those two forces working together, we believe, despite the new variants, will bring down deaths at least until August 1st in the United States.

COOPER: And Dr. Murray, and the worst-case scenario, what could cause the numbers to rise again?


MURRAY: Well, in the worst-case scenario we model that people stop wearing their mask faster and that people go back to baseline mobility faster, and what I mean by baseline is, you know, what we did before COVID came around last March.

And if that happens, the daily death rate can, you know, stay up above 750 a day right through to August 1st. So, despite all the good news about vaccination going up, we are still in that critical period where how we behave will influence the trajectory, you know, over the next four months.

COOPER: Sanjay, C.D.C. data shows that the seven-day average of vaccine doses that are administered has dropped below three million shots per day for the first time since April 6. Now, that this J&J pause has been lifted, do you expect to see the average climb again?

GUPTA: I don't know. I actually don't know. It's a good question. I can tell you before the pause, the J&J doses were about one out of every 17 doses administered. So, it wasn't a huge amount of this vaccine and we know that Moderna and Pfizer, there's plenty of that vaccine around.

As far as you know why the numbers have dipped a little bit. I think there's two things that seem to be from our reporting. One is that there are still some areas of the country that are hard to reach, even though it's become much more widely available. And obviously, everyone is eligible now. It is all adults are eligible now. There are some areas that are still harder to reach.

And in other areas, you know, you still have -- you may have some vaccine fade, you know, where people just aren't as earnest to get the vaccine. So we'll see. I don't know how much of an impact J&J will have on that. I think that's more of a bigger picture issue.

COOPER: And Dr. Murray, I mean, given what you know, about projections for infections and deaths, how concerned are you about vaccine hesitancy and also supply outstripping demand?

MURRAY: Well, we actually think that supply will outstrip demand pretty soon, in probably the middle of May. You know, Facebook runs a survey every day and we look at that data on a daily basis and that's shown that vaccine confidence in the U.S. has been slowly, but steadily going down since February, you know, not huge amounts, like a percentage point a week. But that starts to add up.

We were at 75 percent of adults saying they wanted the vaccine. Now, we're down to, in those surveys, down to about 67 percent. So that means there's a lot of people out there, and it's a growing fraction of people who are not sure they want to get the vaccine and that's really important that we sort of overcome that.

COOPER: And Dr. Murray, I mean, I don't want to put you on the spot. But you know, I guess I will. We've had you on this program an awful lot over the past year, are you optimistic about where things -- where you think we're headed?

MURRAY: You know, Anderson, I'm optimistic in the short run for the U.S., but the explosion of the epidemic in India to, you know, levels that we haven't seen throughout the epidemic, is really worrisome, because that's a new variant that we think is driving that. It's one of these escape variants that breakthrough natural immunity, and maybe even vaccine derived immunity.

And it just tells us that we're all at risk from new variants, as long as there's tons and tons of transmission of the virus around the world. And so, when we look at the U.S., things look like the next four months will go our way. But in the bigger picture, I think, you know, we have a lot to worry about COVID throughout the course of the rest of the year.

COOPER: Sanjay, what's to stop the Indian variant, the Brazil variant, which is causing havoc there from spreading in the U.S.?

GUPTA: Well, I mean, we've seen this obviously, you know, we saw b.1.1.7., the U.K. variant come and there was just a few cases, and now it's the dominant strain so that that could happen. I mean, I think if you can bring viral transmission really low, as Dr.

Murray is talking about, maybe, you know, you greatly lower the risk that any virus is spreading, whether it be variant or something else, but that's the challenge.

I think, you know, it's also one of these things where we keep saying wear masks, you know, even if you've been vaccinated and people often scratch their heads, why do I have got to do that?

Well, this is the exact reason. You could still potentially carry the virus and spread it even if you've been vaccinated. It's a lot lower likelihood, but it can still happen. If you're talking about very transmissible things, the risk goes up.

COOPER: Yes, Sanjay and Chris Murray, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Again, we'll get deeper into the problem of vaccine hesitancy, but later in the program. Right now there's breaking news in the deadly police shooting of a black man named Andrew Brown, Jr. in eastern North Carolina earlier this week.

North Carolina's Governor Roy Cooper is calling for the body cam video to be made public tweeting and I'm quoting the governor, "Initial reports of the shooting in Elizabeth City and death of Andrew Brown, Jr. this week are tragic and extremely concerning. The body camera footage should be made public as quickly as possible and the SBI should investigate thoroughly to ensure accountability." The State Bureau of Investigation is the SBI.


COOPER: In addition to that, new EMS dispatch audio has just been obtained indicating Brown was shot in the back, which is a puzzling detail in a series of them. Brown was shot as Sheriff's Deputies tried to serve him with a felony drug related arrest warrant.

They say he had a history of resisting arrest, but CNN hasn't been able to verify any such prior charges against him. What's more, those who knew him including family members and his girlfriend say that he neither owned nor carried a gun. More on that in a moment. We don't know if there was a gun present.

First. Here's the EMS audio.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... be advised, EMS has got one male, 42 years of age, gunshot to the back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have 40-year-old male with gunshot wounds to the back.


COOPER: So that's the EMS call. Because authorities have yet to release body cam videos from the deputies involved, tensions continue to be high in the community scene as Brian Todd joins us now from Elizabeth City, North Carolina.

We saw demonstrations last night, Brian, you were out there on the street. What's the latest you're learning first about the shooting?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, the frustration level here on the street in the community overall and among members of the Brown family continues to grow because authorities as you point out, they are seeming resolute in not wanting to release this body camera footage right away. And that is a source of a lot of frustration here on the street and elsewhere.

Now we did catch up to the Sheriff not long ago today, Sheriff Tommy Wooten and we asked him about just, you know, what is the holdup here? Everybody is impatient for this.

He did say that it's the DA's call even though the Sheriff's Department is the custodian of the tape. It's the DA's call. And here is what else he had to say about that.


SHERIFF TOMMY WOOTEN, PASQUOTANK COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA: He is not wanting to hinder the investigation and in many situations like this, the magnitude of this situation is very delicate. We want every piece of that video, every piece of evidence to be perfect. So, when the outcome comes, when it comes out, it's done right.


TODD: Some other new details we learned from the Sheriff a short time ago, he said there were actually multiple body cameras operational during this operation to try to arrest and search Andrew Brown. So there could be several angles of videotape that we might eventually get to look at.

He has also said that seven Sheriff Deputies are under administrative leave. We pressed him on the question of did all those seven fire their weapons. He said no, not all seven fired their weapons, but seven of them are on administrative leave in relation to this incident and three others have quit the Sheriff's Department as a result of this incident.

So, they're down 10 Deputies tonight, Anderson. You know and again, he says he understands the frustration of the community. He is determined that this investigation has to be done in his words, just the right way. But again, you know, everybody here from the City Council to members of this community to the members of the Brown family is calling and, in some cases, legally petitioning for this video to be released.

And as you mentioned, the Governor just tweeted that it should be released so the pressure is really mounting on the Sheriff and the District Attorney to release this body cam footage.

COOPER: Brian Todd, appreciate it. Thanks, Brian. Our legal and law enforcement professionals weigh in next on what we

know and what more they would like to know about that incident. There's a lot we do not know, we should stress.

Also, we'll get their take and late breaking development from the Judge in the Derek Chauvin case.

And later tonight, what CNN is just now learning about another angle in the investigation of Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz.




COOPER: We are talking tonight about the breaking news and everything else surrounding the deadly shooting of Andrew Brown, Jr. in Eastern North Carolina during an attempt to serve an arrest warrant on him in connection with felony drug charges.

Local authorities say he had a history of resisting arrest, something CNN has been unable to verify at this point. In fact, not many answers really at all tonight, only questions surrounding his death and demonstrations in the streets there.

Here to help sort through it all CNN legal analyst Elie Honig, former assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and Monica Alexander, retired Captain in the Washington State Patrol and currently Interim Executive Director of the Criminal Justice Training Commission. Elie, you heard the Sheriff saying that -- telling CNN that there are concerns that releasing the body camera footage could hinder the investigation. From a legal standpoint, does that make sense to you?

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It does not make sense, Anderson. Look, police and prosecutors need to understand the world is changing very quickly now and the old way of doing things just won't cut it anymore.

I'll tell you candidly, as recently as a few years ago, when I was still a prosecutor, the general attitude of law enforcement towards the public in these kinds of cases was, we'll give you whatever we want, whenever we want, and you'll say thanks.

And I think one of the lessons and legacies of the Derek Chauvin trial in the verdict that we just saw is that the public now expects and deserves transparency and truth and quickly.

And this idea from the sheriff that well, it's not my call, okay, get on the phone to the DA. You're the Sheriff, I guarantee you he'll take your call and if you have to go to a judge to get an emergency order, there's always a Judge on emergency duty. I assure you, there is a North Carolina Judge who is on duty right now who would be willing to take this and consider it.

COOPER: Monica, what do you make of their decision so far not to release it?

MONICA ALEXANDER, INTERIM EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CRIMINAL JUSTICE TRAINING COMMISSION: Well, I think that what happens is investigation start off in one place and end up in another and I think the way they look at it, they're trying to preserve evidence. But I agree that, you know, the community has a right to know what's going on.

The community is asking for answers, and the longer it waits, the more -- the hotter the pot gets, and I'm really concerned about what's happening all over with the relationship between the community and the police, and I think trying to give transparency, accountability, and communication and building relationships with our community through trust is what's going to help us to get to where we really all want to be.

COOPER: Yes, Elie, I mean, we learned from the dispatch audio that Andrew Brown, Jr. was apparently shot in the back. That was the initial dispatch that went out. There are now seven Deputies have been placed on administrative leave, two who have resigned, one who is retired.

Without authorities providing more information, you know, we heard from a community member last night who was out on the streets, you know, protesting talking to our Brian Todd, just saying they would -- they just want answers of what actually occurred because without answers, you know, assumptions are made based on history and mistrust.


HONIG: This is a perfect illustration of the problem of withholding and of not being transparent. With this one piece of information that we have reportedly that there was a shot to the back. Obviously, there's a lot of other factors, a lot of other facts that need to come out.

But I wish police officers across the country would accept and understand this one basic principle. You cannot use deadly force. You cannot take out your gun and shoot solely because somebody is fleeing.

There may be other circumstances that may justify it, but you cannot shoot someone only because they're fleeing. You can chase, you can call ahead. Maybe in some instances, you can use a Taser. It is dependent on all of the circumstances, but that one rule would do us a lot of good if it was observed.

COOPER: And again, we should point out, we don't know the circumstances of what occurred there.

Monica, there was a video statement in the wake of the shooting, where the Chief Deputy said that Mr. Brown had a history of resisting arrest, but CNN couldn't immediately verify that. But if authorities are going to put that out there seemingly implying intentionality or not that his legal history is germane to why he was killed. It does raise the question, why not also show the public the video?

ALEXANDER: And I think that that is a fair question. But I think only that agency can answer that question because every agency has their own policies and their own collective bargaining agreements that they adhere to. And I think it's important that the community is doing what they should do: ask the Sheriff, ask the person in charge of that particular situation, and should, you know, get answers, and we are looking --

I think that in the State of Washington, you know, we're looking at placing some laws. We are almost at the end of our legislative session and there are a lot of things that are going on. As a matter of fact, our commission is run by 16 commissioners, so I have 16 supervisors that I answer to.

And so everything that we do here is at one central location at the Academy, as far as our training goes, and our commissioners are the boss and four of those commissioners, commissioners, currently are citizens.

I think citizens want to door to have a voice, and I'm really proud of what Washington is doing right now by giving our citizens a voice. Not quite big enough yet, because they're still asking us to do more, and we are listening.

COOPER: Yes. Elie, lastly, just regarding the Derek Chauvin trial, the Judge in the case has ordered the names of jurors to be withheld for at least six months. How unusual is that?

HONIG: It is very unusual. I'll tell you, Anderson. Prosecutors like that because it does happen sometimes that jurors say things in the media after a verdict that give the defendant a basis for appeal. If they say something about the way deliberations occurred that maybe was appealable. So I guarantee you, the prosecutors are breathing a sigh of relief.

On the other hand, the Judge has to balance the need for the public to have transparency. The public interest in this case was like nothing we've ever seen. So it's a tough balancing act for the Judge there.

COOPER: Elie Honig and Monica Alexander, thanks so much. Great to have you back.

Next, exclusive new details on the scope of the investigation to Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz.



COOPER: We know some more tonight about what Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz may be up against. Already, the Gaetz story includes allegations of relationship with an underage girl and a visit to the Bahamas involving the Congressman and several young women.

Now CNN has learned what exactly others may have hoped to gain from Gaetz's taking that trip. Our Evan Perez joins us now with exclusive detail. So what else are Federal authorities looking at in regards to it? EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR U.S. JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, you

know, the Federal sex trafficking investigation into Matt Gaetz, that's been going on, we've been talking about it for a couple of weeks.

But there's a whole lot more to it that we're told that part of what prosecutors are looking into is whether Gaetz took gifts including travel and paid escorts in exchange for political favors. Sources told us that the Justice Department is scrutinizing this 2018 trip to the Bahamas that involved Gaetz and several young women specifically, looking into whether this getaway was part of an orchestrated effort to illegally influence the Congressman on the medical marijuana industry.

Now CNN has previously reported that Gaetz is under investigation for having a relationship with a young girl who was 17 at the time. Gaetz attended parties in Orlando with other prominent Republicans in that area that were involved, that involved women, money, sex for money, and drugs.

CNN has learned that investigators already have one key witness who is cooperating. That's Joel Greenberg. He is the former Seminole County Tax Commissioner down there in Florida and he is a close friend of Gaetz who also was attending some of these parties.

He was indicted last year on multiple Federal charges that includes sex trafficking, and he is expected to plead guilty in the coming months -- Anderson.

COOPER: You reported that a number of his close associates have ties to this industry.

PEREZ: Well, that's right. So Gaetz has a long history of advocating for medical marijuana and has introduced legislation, both at the State and Federal levels. He has been looking to loosen the laws regulating the industry.

Now according to reports, Dr. Jason Pirozzolo, who is a Florida doctor, who founded a medical marijuana advocacy group went with Gaetz on this 2018 trip to the Bahamas. Gaetz has referred to the doctor as one of his best friends.

The pair have repeatedly intersected over this medical marijuana issue as far back as 2014. Gaetz at the time was a State Representative in Florida, and he introduced a medical marijuana legislation two weeks after vacationing with Pirozzolo in the Florida Keys.

Now, one week after that legislation was passed Pirozzolo launched a medical marijuana consulting company, and in April 2018, when Gaetz introduced the medical cannabis research legislation, a source tells CNN that the Congressman hand delivered a fully written draft of the bill to his staff which overlapped significantly with the agenda of Dr. Pirozzolo's group.

Now, neither Gaetz nor Pirozzolo have been accused of by the Justice Department of any wrongdoing. They have not been charged with a crime. Pirozzolo's lawyer declined to comment for this story and we did get a comment from Matt Gaetz's spokesman and he says that: "Matt Gaetz is a longtime policy expert on medical marijuana and that he passed legislation as far back as 2013," as for the sex allegations, Anderson, the Congressman has repeatedly said that he has never paid for sex.


COOPER: Evan Perez, appreciate it. Thanks.

Perspective now from the Washington Post, Matt Zapotosky, who's reporting really put this story on the map.

Matt, what do you make of this new CNN reporting about investigators looking at a potential medical marijuana pay to play scheme in connection with that trip that Congressman Gaetz allegedly took the Bahamas?

MATT ZAPOTOSKY, THE WASHINGTON POST: I think it's interesting. I mean, I still think that the primary focus for investigators here would be on, you know, the trafficking of an underage person of a minor. I think that's sort of a good target for them. On public corruption cases are tough. You know, it's tough to substantiate federal public corruption charges, you need a very explicit link between something a person is giving an elected official, and then the thing the elected official is doing for them.

It sounds from your guy's reporting, like investigators are interested in that question here with respect to this 2018 trip to the Bahamas was that sort of a bribe, that could be a tough case. In recent years, the Justice Department's Public Integrity section has struggled with these. You have the former governor of Virginia, Bob McDonald, they charged in a corruption case similar circumstances that kind of pay to play. The Supreme Court said that didn't amount corruption. More recently, you had Senator Menendez in New Jersey charged in a corruption case that also collapsed and the Justice Department sort of abandoned that, interestingly, that involved private planes too.

So, we'll see sort of what happens here. But those cases are far more difficult than sex traffic.

COOPER: You mentioned the federal authorities are having investigating whether Gaetz had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl which gets denied. Do you know where that part of the investigation stands?

ZAPOTOSKY: Well, Mr. Gaetz has not been charged yet. I think the next shoe to drop is this person that the feds are trying to get on side as a cooperator a guy named Joel Greenberg, this local tax collector in Florida who is thought to have also had a relationship or had sex with this woman. He's already charged with that conduct. He's in pleat talks with prosecutors now. And they sort of have a May 5th deadline to either reach a plea deal with him or to go to trial.

So, the investigation and Gaetz on that charge is very much ongoing and kind of the next thing to happen is will Joel Greenberg come on side? And what information can he possibly provide sort of help investigators advance that case?

COOPER: Yes, and that's not clear exactly what information he I mean, obviously, I assume text messages that they would have had are already in the possession of authorities now.

ZAPOTOSKY: Yes. So that is how investigators sort of first got onto Gaetz seizing Joel Greenberg's records and seeing, you know, seeing something in there that flagged them to Gaetz, they certainly would already have those messages. But if you're thinking about building out a federal case, messages are one thing receipts, you know, maybe Venmo transactions or other cash app transactions, they sometimes need someone to explain them, you know, to say, hey, if money was going to this person, and that's possibly what Mr. Greenberg (INAUDIBLE).

COOPER: And obviously, I mean, federal authorities not in the business of handing out plea deals for nothing, somebody has to have useful information to trade with them. And useful information I assume about somebody in a different position than they are I mean, that it's somebody sort of higher up or perhaps more prominent. Is that how it works?

ZAPOTOSKY: Yes. So, Mr. Gaetz is definitely a higher profile target. And I think that's what Mr. Greenberg would see as his value. Hey, I'm giving you a U.S. Congressman, I'm just a local tax collector. But to your point, he does have to have information that could meaningfully advance their case. And Joel Greenberg is facing a lot of charges, just in his own right stealing from the tax collector's office, defrauding a Coronavirus Relief Program. He is charged with sex trafficking of a minor.

This is a person who the feds are not just going to wipe away all his charges so that he can give them a congressman, he's really going to have to provide a lot of valuable information, corroborated information to make a deal with him worthwhile.

COOPER: Yes. Matt, I appreciate your reporting. Thank you so much.

ZAPOTOSKY: Thank you.

COOPER: Matt Zapotosky from Washington Post.

Just ahead, returning to breaking news the Johnson & Johnson vaccine may now be used again. Researchers say it's incredibly important to get a vaccine to get us all closer to normal.


Meanwhile, Republican Senator Ron Johnson has chosen to promote baseless conspiracy theories about vaccinations. He's done it again. We're keeping them honest, next.


COOPER: The resumption of the Johnson & Johnson vaccinations in this country comes at an auspicious moment. As we reported earlier a well- known model for the virus says that the slow erosion in vaccine confidence is a cause for concern. Virus transmission, it also says is increasing in 34 states.

We've also learned that vaccination rates seem to be declining, meaning it's not the time for people like Republican Senator Ron Johnson to start fanning conspiracy flames about vaccine passports, also telling people to not get vaccinated. That is what he did, though, in an interview Thursday.


SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): From my standpoint, because it's not a fully approved vaccine. I think we probably should have limited the distribution to it to the vulnerable, to people that really aren't, you know, to the very young. I see no reason to be pushing vaccines on people.


COOPER: Now, keeping them honest, pretty much everything he said is wrong and dangerous. Vaccines save lives and the vaccines approved in this country have all been shown through testing to do just that safely. Now as someone who sits on the Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Johnson should know very well the plight India is going through right now with a second wave that's cripple the country. It's kind of pandering no, nothing ism is something no country can afford. But Johnson who has actually had COVID wasn't done.



JOHNSON: The science tells us the vaccines are 95% effective. So, if you have a vaccine, quite honestly, what do you care if your neighbor has one or not?


COOPER: Well, one answer is herd immunity. The more people who are vaccinated, the less likely the virus can spread from one person to another. The more people who are vaccinated, the fewer people end up in hospital and die.

Otherwise, just as a human being, you would think that you would care enough about another human being that you would care if your neighbor has been vaccinated or not because you wouldn't want them to die or get sick. Maybe Senator Johnson hates his neighbors, but I doubt that and even still, I can't imagine he doesn't care if they live or die. The faster people are vaccinated, the faster society as a whole can get back to work in life. Perhaps we should not be shocked though by the senator statements After all, this is the man The New York Times called the quote Republican Party's foremost amplifier of conspiracy theories and disinformation. They also called them quote, all access purveyor of misinformation on serious issues, end quote.

By the way, that was not in the editorial page. That was their news division. But what's really strange about all this, is remember this guy? (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, FMR PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: And then I see the disinfectant where it knocks it out in a minute, one minute, and is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning?


COOPER: Remember listening to that all day? That was one year ago today. The then president of United States wondering if we can study ways perhaps to inject people with disinfectant and he was turning to his medical team to actually, you know, get them to look into it. One year, he later claimed he was being sarcastic, which wasn't one year and more than 570,000 Americans dead. That's how long it was. And that's what's happened over the last year.

Still, even today, people like Senator Ron Johnson continue to spread lies and disinformation some things sadly, it seems never changed, but let's hope they do. One important reason for a Republican like Ron Johnson maybe to support vaccinations is that vaccine hesitancy is still prominent in this country, and more often among Republican voters.

Martin Savidge tonight, examines the efforts and failures to battle conspiracy theories and get people vaccinated in one southern state.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At Covid-19 vaccination sites in Mississippi, they're seeing something new, boredom. By Friday, the state had more than 74,000 open slots on its scheduling website through the middle of May.

(on-camera): This is the drive up lane of a mass vaccination site in Jackson. They say they can handle up to 1,200 appointments a day so far, they've got about 275 scheduled, but they admit some people just don't show.

(voice-over): It's not that everyone 16 and older is got the shot. Far from it. Thirty percent of Mississippians have had their first vaccine dose, the national average is closer to 40%.

(on-camera): It's pretty quiet.

NELSON ATEHORTUA, ASST. PROF. SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH, JACKSON STATE UNIV.: Yes, I mean, today is quiet. But it hasn't been like that all the time.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): So what's going on? Experts worry the drop off suggests a lot of people don't want the vaccine and fear what's happening here could jeopardize reaching herd immunity, which doctors say wouldn't be achieved until at least 70% of the population is vaccinated. Besides Mississippi, other states significantly lacking when it comes to percent of adult population fully vaccinated include Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee, states that a more rural and more Republican. A population more skeptical of the vaccine.

(on-camera): Do you continue to fight misinformation?


SAVIDGE (on-camera): Even though?

ATEHORTUA: Every day, yes, every day.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): Public service campaigns encouraging vaccination are overwhelmed by a flood of false information on social media. It's what caused Haile Coleman to delay getting her vaccine.

HAILE COLEMAN, STUDENT: It just felt like everywhere I looked I was seeing somebody with a new conspiracy theory or just a reason not to get the vaccine.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): Those false fears were only fueled when the Johnson & Johnson vaccine distribution was paused due to concerns over a rare type of blood clot. In Mississippi since that happened, health officials say projected vaccination numbers have fallen off a cliff.

(on-camera): That incident fed into the fears of those who are hesitant.


SAVIDGE (on-camera): It was, I told you so.

KENT: Yes, yes. It was like OK, see.


COOPER: And Martin joins us now. So, do you think any of the people you spoke with will change their minds about the vaccine now that J&J, the pause has been lifted?

SAVIDGE: No, primarily because there are two broad groups when it comes to the hesitancy here in Mississippi, African-Americans who have strong distrust historically of the medical system. And the reason for that all you got to do is look at the horrors of the Tuskegee syphilis study. And then conservatives who have in general a distrust of government.


So, the fact that the government and that medical experts have now decided that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause can be lifted is not likely to reassure either one of those groups. And I should point out, Mississippi has a number of challenges when it comes to the vaccine, not the least of which it's one of the poorest states, if not the poorest state.

So, there are a lot of people who don't have access to the Internet, and you need that for information or just to make an appointment, or they can't afford transportation to a vaccination site, or they simply just can't take time off to get vaccinated. Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. Martin, well, I appreciate you being there. My dad's from Mississippi. I love the state and I hope people get -- more people get vaccinated there.

SAVIDGE: It's great one.

COOPER: Just ahead, a look ahead at what the White House has planned as it nears the end of its first 100 days of President Biden's term in office and approaches his first address to a joint session of Congress.


COOPER: President Biden will mark 100 days in office. The week will also include his first address to a joint session of Congress. Expectations for him to tout vaccination rates and the economy, but also lay out a roadmap for his future goals.


Bloomberg Businessweek new cover summed it up this way, move fast and fix things, President Joe Biden went big in his first 100 days now comes the hard part.

I'm joined now by our chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins. So, what is the latest you're learning about how President Biden and the White House is preparing for next week?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I think often Anderson with these first addresses to Congress, there's a lot to put in there, especially when, of course you have taken over governing during a pandemic. And vaccinations have been their number one goal is has been pretty clear to everybody as they've ramped up. But I think what you're going to hear from President Biden next week, as he does make this first address to Congress is a lot about what he wants to see happen in the next 100 days, because that's going to come that address one day before he hits his 100-day mark.

And so, I think you'll see him not only lay out that American family plan, that's next part of really, what he envisions in addition to following that Coronavirus Funding Bill, the infrastructure proposal has now laid out this is going to be a part that's really focused on child care, and health care, all of that kind of aspects folded into there. So, I think you should expect him to focus on that. Of course, he will also talk about his infrastructure plan. And coronavirus, of course, will be a major topic for the President.

COOPER: Kaitlan, stay with us. Just want to bring David Axelrod who is obviously former senior adviser of President Obama, CNN senior political commentator.

David, I mean, you obviously know what it's like at the White House that head of one of these major addresses to the nation. How higher the stakes for President Biden? I mean, does it matter much? DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, I think it does matter much. You know, these things can sort of fade in their importance over time. But there are very few chances to speak to an audience of this size. And make no mistake about it. He may address Congress, but he's talking to the country, he's going to tell the accomplishments that he's had. But the real purpose of this is to build public support for the phases that have yet, to come to pass this American jobs plan, and to tout this American Family Plan that he's going to unveil, perhaps at that speech, and build support to try and put pressure on Congress to pass it.

And so, I think that will be a principal goal to tout what he's achieved, but to build momentum behind the pieces that have yet to come.

COOPER: Kaitlan, the White House says he wants to see progress in climate change on infrastructure, gun safety, police reform. I mean, it's a long list and not necessarily traditionally what some people think of as infrastructure. Does the President's team think he can actually win over skeptical members of Congress next week? Or is this just about making the pitch to the public?

COLLINS: I think it's much more about making the pitch to the public that has is what you've seen them really focus on, and they've seen this Republican resistance to some of their ideas. I do think they are making a different effort, this time with infrastructure and whatnot, to reach out to Republicans and to hear their ideas. Then you saw the Coronavirus Relief Bill, which of course, they passed with only Democratic support.

And so, I think this is kind of a two fold thing. But I don't think they think that they're magically going to win over a lot of these Republicans who are not for what President Biden considers infrastructure during this speech, I think it's going to be much more focused on selling it to people and explaining what his vision is for it and why he thinks some of these things are infrastructure.

And earlier, when I was talk about the American Family Plan, I said health care I'm it's going to be really focused on education and child care. And that's his next step is to not only what he believes fits in his agenda, but also this next step of this economic recovery that he's pursuing.

COOPER: David, what do you make of this White House's kind of definition of infrastructure?

AXELROD: Yes. Well, it's obviously defined broadly. And some of it I mean, he's going to talk about human infrastructure, relative to this next plan, the American Family Plan, there was some of that in his infrastructure plan. But some of it, you know, infrastructure has changed. And, you know, we wouldn't have been talking about broadband some time ago, for example.

One of the smart things I think they've done Anderson is to pitch it as a competitiveness issue, to say we have to do these things, because we live in a competitive world. And we can't have a third world infrastructure and be a great power and compete with China, which is investing deeply. I think he's trying to tap into some of that. But, you know, one of the things that's also impressed me is the duality here, he is pushing very hard to get things done quickly, even if it has to be on a partisan basis. But he is not using partisan language. He is not vilifying his opponents, as we saw during the last administration.

And he is -- if he may not get part of bipartisan support, but he's going to get caught trying. And I think that tonal difference, especially after Trump has really benefited Biden in these first 100 days.

COOPER: You know, and David to Kaitlan's earlier point, do you think -- I mean, obviously, the, you know, President Biden was has been in the White House in the Obama administration. Do you think this White House had a grasp about how hard it would be to win over lawmakers who are so clearly beholden to the former president?

AXELROD: Oh, well, I do think that, look, they did go through the Obama years. I think they had a sophisticated idea, which is why they went right away to budget reconciliation, which only required Democratic votes to pass what they wanted to pass. But we should point out we talked about his appeal to Republicans for support. He needs to get 50 Democrats in the Senate. He doesn't have that big margin in the House.


And so, I think these proposals are going to change. They may be moderated, because he needs a Joe Manchin, he needs a Kyrsten Sinema from Arizona, who are more moderate and have raised concerns about some of these issues and some of the spending. So, I think you're going to see, you know, some of the effort here is designed to try and create public support around them.


AXELROD: To get them on board.

COOPER: David Axelrod, Kaitlan Collins, thanks so much.

Up next, how one alleged capital, insurrections Bumbled is in the dating site right into the arms of the law.


COOPER: Nearly 400 people have now been charged with federal crimes in connection with the January 6 attack on the Capitol and the latest suspect was arrested after the FBI got a tip from a surprise source one of his matches on Bumble a dating app. Robert Chapman of Carmel, New York faces several charges including trespassing and disorderly conduct. A core documents show that one week after the insurrection, Chapman told another Bumble user quote, I did storm the capital adding quote, I made it all the way into Statuary Hall. The unnamed match apparently was not impressed, quote, we are not a match the person wrote to which he replied I suppose not. Prosecutor say the Bumble match immediately gave the FBI the screenshot of the conversation. Investigators then corroborated Chapman's claims by comparing his Bumble profile picture to body camera footage from police officers who are inside the Capitol.


The news continues. Let's hand over Chris for "CUOMO PRIMETIME." Chris?