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Biden Thanks Troops in Thanksgiving Day Message; Biden Had Benign Polyp Removed During Colonoscopy; COVID Cases & Hospitalizations on Rise Across U.S. Amid Holidays; Houston "Super Feast" Aims to Feed Up to 30,000 People; NASA Launches "Spacecraft" That Will Crash into Asteroid; 100,000 Californians Without Power Amid Increased Wildfire Threat. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired November 25, 2021 - 14:30   ET




JESSICA DEAN, CNN HOST: President Joe Biden returning to a family tradition this year, celebrating Thanksgiving in Nantucket.

This morning, he went to a Coast Guard station for a virtual meet up with the troops from around the world. He also called into the Thanksgiving Macy's Day Parade.

And in the meantime, we learned doctors removed a benign but potentially precancerous legion during last week's colonoscopy.

CNN's Jeff Zeleny joining us now.

Jeff, presidents aren't required to make their checkup public but most do in an effort to be transparent. What more do we know about this?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: They do, Jessica. And certainly, when you're 79 years old, which President Biden is, he had that physical, that routine physical last week at Walter Reed.

And his doctor releasing a statement last evening saying there was a three-millimeter polyp removed and certainly precancerous there. So it does not appear to be any more than that.

But the White House clearly trying to release this on the eve of Thanksgiving, perhaps trying not to drive too much attention to this.

The president and his family spending a routine holiday here in Nantucket. Certainly, it's a place they've been many times, but never as commander-in-chief.

So he did spend some time this morning at a Coast Guard station here. And spent about an hour or so talking to servicemembers around the world.

As he left that meeting, he had this to say about the troops and what they mean for America. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've been all over the world and I've watched these people. I've watched them in the South China Sea. I've watched them in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Wherever they are, people wonder what America is. They look and they see them. That's who they see. They don't see us here. They see them. And they make me proud.


ZELENY: Certainly, the president there offering his thanks and gratitude.

But really spending most of the time here with his family. He's scheduled to likely light a Christmas tree here in Nantucket before returning to Washington tomorrow on Sunday.

I can tell you a beautiful day here in Nantucket off Massachusetts -- Jessica?

DEAN: And it looks gorgeous.

Jeff Zeleny, thanks so much.

And more now on the president's health report with CNN senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen.

Elizabeth, great to see you.

It seems to me the news we're hearing about President Biden's colonoscopy is exactly why colonoscopies are so important, to catch these potential problems before they become problems.

DR. ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Jessica. Sometimes I think when we hear the word precancerous, it means, oh, so it will become cancerous. And that's just not the case.

This was caught at three millimeters, which is very, very small. And so the thinking here is that it was caught early and it's OK. And it's going to be removed.


You know, these are quite common. I think many of us know people especially over the age of 50 who have had these precancerous polyps removed. And as you said that's why we get colonoscopies.

And the CDC says start getting colon cancer screenings at age 45 -- Jessica?

DEAN: It's good for all of us to remember.

And let's talk about, too, our second pandemic Thanksgiving. It's crazy we're now in the second one. A lot of people by this point now, including young children, have been

vaccinated. But we are seeing these case numbers ticking up again, close to 100,000 new cases a day.

Elizabeth, what do people need to know to stay safe as we go into the holidays? And obviously, it's different if you're vaccinated versus unvaccinated, I would think.

COHEN: That's right. And I want to take a second, as we all think about what we want to give thanks for on this Thanksgiving, certainly we should be giving thanks it wasn't last Thanksgiving.

Last Thanksgiving, if you remember, it was really a time of great stress and tension because people weren't vaccinated. The vaccines came out at the end of the following month.

The fact we can have this discussion what to do on this Thanksgiving when so many of us are vaccinated is really pretty amazing and something we should all be grateful for.

So if you're not vaccinated, I almost don't know what to tell you because you should be vaccinated. So if you're not vaccinated, you should be being careful in ways I don't even have the time to talk about right now.

So let's talk about if you are vaccinated. So we have heard from Dr. Fauci and from the CDC that if everyone at your table, at your gathering is vaccinated, it is OK to remove masks. That is OK to do.

Also, here's something I think we don't talk about enough, which is take special care with immunocompromised loved ones.

You have a loved one immunocompromised because of a drug they take or disease they have, take special care with them. You might want to wear masks around them.

And if you're concerned for that reason, or any other reason, open a window if you can, getting air circulation, getting ventilation.

We've found out over the past two years is so important. It really can make a difference -- Jessica?

DEAN: And you're absolutely right. What a difference a year with vaccines makes, right? Such a different Thanksgiving for so many of us, and we're all so grateful for that.


DEAN: Elizabeth Cohen, thanks so much.

COHEN: Thanks.

DEAN: Next, inside the Thanksgiving food bank making sure tens of thousands of Texans have a Thanksgiving meal.


DEAN: Houston is on a mission to feed 30,000 people today during its annual Thanksgiving super feast. And the event is even more urgent this year as families struggle to put food on the table due to the inflation and higher grocery prices.

CNN's Rosa Flores has been there all day, watching scores of volunteers give thanks by helping others.

Rosa, how are things going?


You know, it's been an emotional day here in Houston. The people I've talked to have heartbreaking stories, and they still find a place in their heart to be thankful.

So I want to show you around because this is where the feeding is happening. You can see people are in line. They're able to get their turkey and the trimmings.

According to the organizers here they cooked 3,200 Turkeys and 635,000 pounds of food.

So once participants do that, they're able to get a bottle of water. And also they're able to dine in this dining area, in this gigantic convention center.

I've talked to some of the individuals who are here today for Thanksgiving, and one grandmother in particular was so touching. She was here with her three grandchildren. And she said this is a tradition in her family.

But this year has been so difficult because of the pandemic, because of financial reasons, and because she's having to make impossible choices at this moment.

Take a listen.


KIMBERLY STUBBLEFIELD, HOUSTON RESIDENT: The decisions of light or water or, you know, just putting something aside so I can take care of other major things, you know, other important things, yes. It's really tough. It's really tough.


FLORES: Now, according to the organizers, about 15,000 Turkeys, Jessica, are also being distributed here.

So not only are people able to dine in, they're able also able to drive up, get a frozen Turkey and a lot of food so they can make their own festival -- their own feast at home -- Jessica?

DEAN: Such an operation, it's amazing. And, Rosa, this is more than 40-year tradition.

How has the pandemic, inflation, supply chain issues affected organizers ability to put this on this year?

FLORES: You know, it's a great question because, according to the organizers, they had to be very creative. Because of supply chain shortages, they say they had to start organizing this earlier in the year.

And then they also had to figure out how to get all this food and get it not in bulk because they're used to just getting it in bulk.

So they had to get creative. They had to go to smaller vendors, get it early, start planning a lot earlier, and that's how they're able to do this.

Now, it's important to note that normally they have between 6,000 and 8,000 volunteers. This year they only had 3,500 volunteers.


And again, a lot of that is fears because of the pandemic, Jessica, just a lot of people who are concerned and worried about protocols and what to do and what not to do.

Overall, as you take a look around they're expecting to serve up to 30,000 people, which is not their peak, not their max. In years past, they've done 40,000, 45,000.

But they say this is a great start, especially during the pandemic because they know that so many people are afraid to come out in large groups to be a part of events that involve the entire community.

So they say that this is a huge step, and they're very thankful for that.

DEAN: It is incredible what they're doing. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone in Houston.

Rosa Flores, thanks so much.

Well, it sounds like a Hollywood movie plot, but this is real. NASA is going to purposely crash a spacecraft into an asteroid. We're going to tell you more about that plan, next.

But first, there's a lot going on today. And here is what else to watch.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The landscape has changed and not for the last time.

The rules of business are being reinvented with a more flexible work force, by embracing innovation, by looking not at current opportunities but ahead to future ones. Resilience is the ability to pivot again and again for whatever

happens next.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People who know, know BDO.




DEAN: Hollywood has already imagined a killer asteroid hurdling toward earth several times actually. But say it happens in real life and Bruce Willis isn't available to help prevent Armageddon?

Well, NASA wondered if an asteroid could be blasted into changing its course. And this week, the space agency launched a first-of-its-kind mission to test the theory.

CNN's Kristin Fisher has the details.


UNIDENTIFIED NASA ANNOUNCER: Three, two, one and lift off of the Falcon 9 and DART.

FISHER (voice over): The launch of NASA's first ever planetary defense mission. Instead of carrying satellites, telescopes or people, this SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is launching a spacecraft to test a technology that someday could save the world.

BILL NELSON, NASA ADMINISTRATOR: It may be the way to save Planet Earth if there's ever an inbound big asteroid that could really challenge our existence as a planet.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: It's what we call a global killer.


FISHER: Even NASA Administrator Bill Nelson agrees it sounds like a scene out of the movie Armageddon.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: The United States government just asked us to save the world. Anybody want to say no?


FISHER: But instead of destroying a killer asteroid with a bomb, like Bruce Willis, NASA's DART mission, short for the Double Asteroid Redirection Test, is using something called kinetic deflection.

That is a scientific way of saying that this DART spacecraft is on a kamikaze mission to smash into an asteroid and try to push it off course.

NELSON: Then if it is successful, then if we had a real inbound killer asteroid, we could do that with it and it would miss us.

FISHER: It will take the DART 10 months to reach its target, the (INAUDIBLE) asteroid and it's moonlet, which is about the size of the pyramid of Giza in Egypt.

It's so far away that NASA says it will not create a dangerous debris field in low Earth orbit, like last week's test of a Russian anti- satellite weapon.

NELSON: The DART mission is creating an explosion and a debris field way out, millions of miles in space, where it is not harming anything.

FISHER (on camera): Now, this asteroid is not a threat to earth. Nor is any other asteroid that we know of. Though it is likely only a matter of time. But just in case, NASA did invite Bruce Willis to this launch.

Kristin Fisher, CNN, Washington.


DEAN: Fascinating.

Thanks, Kristin.


A hundred thousand Californians without power right now. We have a live report. That's next.



DEAN: Strong winds in southern California are raising the threat of wildfires and leaving more than 100,000 people without power this Thanksgiving.

I want to get straight to meteorologist, Tom Sater.

Tom, if you are in southern California, is it safe to even deep fry a Turkey today? Sounds like the conditions are terrible there now.

TOM SATER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Jessica, you took the words out of my mouth. Unfortunately, for the 100,000 without power, they may not have an option.

The winds right now are really kicking up. Santa Ana winds, sure they occur, high pressure in the Great Basin. As these winds fly into southern California, over the mountains, they compress.

Humidity levels are in the single digits and winds have been outrageous. In fact, I'll show you. This will continue tomorrow. So critical fire weather again for southern California.

This number just 30 minutes ago was at 93,000 without power. So the numbers are going up. And the reason the power companies cut power is because they don't want to spark to ignite a fire.

So I'm sure thousands will be trying to, you know, deep fry a Turkey. Please stay away from the home, stay away from trees, grass, and never drop a frozen Turkey into that oil.

Look at these winds. Airport at Burbank, 67 miles per hour. Heavier winds were really last night into this morning but they will kick up again. Red flag warnings today and tomorrow.

Out west, the fire season is now 105 days longer than it was back in the 1970s. It is extremely dry. Single-digit humidity. They do increase at night and that is good news.

But again, even into tomorrow, you will see numbers like that. So again, 7 percent areas of around Irvine.


As we look to where the rain is, it is in the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia. So if you are around the table giving thanks, say an extra prayer for them.

Especially in British Columbia.