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New Day Saturday

President-Elect Biden Meeting With Transition Team This Weekend; U.S. Shatters Daily Record With 184,000-Plus New Cases Reported Friday; "Stop The Steal" Pro-Trump Protests Planned In D.C. Today; Utah Governor Issues Statewide Mask Mandate As Cases Surge. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired November 14, 2020 - 08:00   ET



JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: But when it comes to staying, these two will be staying at the White House and a guy not known for beating his own -- will be staying and he will be thumping theirs. Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The country reporting more new Coronavirus infections than any other day ever.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Whatever happens in the future, who knows which administration it will be, I guess time will tell.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The only things time will tell is how long it takes us to turn around the misanthropic mismanagement of this pandemic.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The current administration has not been cooperating with the transition team, by sharing information, sharing plans. This is essentially a national security threat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not just stupid and petty it is dangerous internally and externally for the United States. That is not America first.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Joe Biden will be the next President of the United States. Kamala Harris will be the next Vice President.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When will you accept that you lost the election, sir?

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Victor Blackwell and Christi Paul.


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Top of the hour now live look at the White House. We'll be talking politics in just a moment, but first we've got to start with the Coronavirus pandemic. It is getting much worse.

You've got some Governors now who have issued some new advisories and some restrictions to try to get the virus under control. President Trump says that he will not enforce another lockdown but you have to remember those are enforced by Mayors and Governors. That's how it happened the first time. If it happens again, that's how it will happen.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN HOST: Exactly. Yesterday the U.S. recorded more than 184,000 new cases. Then it's the most ever recorded in a single day, and it's the fourth consecutive day of record breaking totals.

BLACKWELL: Hospitalizations are up to right now more than 68,000 people are being treated for the virus at hospitals.

PAUL: Yesterday President Trump touted his administration's unequaled and unrivaled as he said efforts to help produce a vaccine. He says it will be available soon.

BLACKWELL: And the outgoing president has not admitted defeat. His Former Chief of Staff calls the transition delay an increasing national security crisis.

PAUL: We're going to talk about all of that in just a few minutes when we're joined by Valerie Jarrett she worked closely with Former President Obama as a Senior Advisor in the White House.

BLACKWELL: First though, we're starting with Jason Carroll he is following the Biden transition in Delaware and we're starting with Sarah Westwood at the White House as well. Actually let's go to Sarah first, President Trump, Sarah, addressed the pandemic yesterday, will not acknowledge that he lost the election, not so much that he just says it the rhetorical acknowledgment, but all the steps through transition that have to happen next.

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, Victor. There's no sign that the president is ready at this moment to give a concession. We're now a week out from the moment that the networks decided that Joe Biden was projected to win enough electoral votes to secure a victory in this race.

But nonetheless the president has continued to use his social media platforms to peddle the baseless claims of voter fraud as the campaign has pursued litigation in the courts that the courts have treated skeptically up to now to say the least.

Now the president hasn't really emerged from the White House, hasn't appeared publicly since his loss in this election until yesterday when he added that event in the Rose Garden on Friday afternoon, and it was the first time that we heard the president really acknowledge that he is not going to have in all likelihood a second term in his eyes.


TRUMP: This administration will not be going to a lockdown. Hopefully the - whatever happens in the future, who knows which administration it will be, I guess time will tell, but I can tell you this administration will not go to a lockdown.


WESTWOOD: CNN has reported that the president this week was down at moments, feeling dejected as he contemplated a future in which he was leaving the White House in about ten weeks from now. He's waffled back and forth according to sources who spoke with CNN between wanting to keep up the fight that his campaign has been wagging but also recognition that he was defeated in this race Victor and Christi.

PAUL: So let me ask you about the Former White House Chief of Staff, John Kelly, because he's criticizing President Trump basically saying that this is a national security issue. Are we hearing anything from the White House about that?

WESTWOOD: Yes Christi, the White House not so far responding to this but it was a really sharp warning from Former Chief of Staff John Kelly about the dangers of delaying the transition further. Under normal circumstances that process would be well underway by now.

But Trump agencies have really slow walked the process of handing over the reins of power to the Biden transition team so really extensive process everyday counts in the march toward Inauguration Day.

And I want to read you John Kelly's statement. The delay in transitioning is an increasing national security and health crisis. It cost the current administration nothing to start to breathe Mr. Biden Ms. Harris the new Chief of Staff in all identified cabinet members and senior staff. So as they're identified over the days and weeks ahead.


WESTWOOD: Then he goes on to say, that said, the down side to not doing so could be catastrophic to our people regardless of who they voted for. Now many Republicans are still staying silent on the fact that the president has not only not conceded but has initiated the typical transition process.

But we are hearing some of them start to express concern about the things that are being pushed back. Senator James Lankford for example other Republican said that he would intervene by the end of this week not clear if that actually happen if President-Elect Biden wasn't being given access to the presidential daily briefing in the intelligence that Trump has access to.

So we are starting to see some Republicans break. Well, time will tell if more pressure from them this next week for the president to concede and start the transition Victor and Christi.

PAUL: All right, Sarah Westwood, appreciate it so much. Thank you. CNN's Jason Carroll with us now so we know, Jason that President-Elect Biden is meeting with his transition team this weekend, what do we know about what is hindering him at this moment because he does not have access to that information from the president in a normal transition area as it would be?

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you're right. First of all, President-Elect is moving forward with his transition team. They are meeting this weekend. They are going to be talking about the cabinet picks. They do have a number of people in mind for all of the cabinet positions, including treasury, defense, and secretary and treasury.

They're taking a very deliberate approach to choosing these cabinet members. The President-Elect knows that whoever he chooses is going to come under intense scrutiny from Republican Senators and in terms of transition, yesterday on Friday team Biden was asked about transition efforts given all of the roadblocks that the Trump Administration has been throwing up trying to stop their efforts.

As you know, what we've already heard, president-elect not receiving those intelligence briefings. The general services administration has still not signed off on that paperwork which it allowed the president- elect and his team the resources. So given all these roadblocks that have been thrown up team Biden was asked about this standoff between themselves and the GSA.


JEN PSAKI, BIDEN SENIOR TRANSITION ADVISER: We're not interested in having a food fight with the GSA administrator or anyone, really, we just want to get access to intelligence information, to threat assessments, to the ongoing work on COVID so that we can prepare to govern.


CARROLL: And so given all of these roadblocks that have been thrown up by the Trump Administration, what the Biden team is basically been doing is taking some creative sort of avenues to try to get around all of that. One example of that is in their COVID plans what they've been doing is reaching out to directly to State Governors and local leaders in terms of trying to formulate and put together their COVID response.

But in terms of team Biden, it is moving forward maybe not directly in a straight line but moving forward. Victor, Christi?

BLACKWELL: Jason Carroll for us at the Hobart Beach, thank you.

PAUL: So let's talk to Valerie Jarrett about all of this. She worked in the Obama/Biden Administration. She was a Senior Advisor to Former President Obama. Also the author of "Finding my voice: When a perfect plan crumbles, the adventure begins".

That title alone is the way that we should start our day with I think every day. Thank you so much Ms. Jarrett for being with us. Let me ask you this off of what we just heard there from Jason Carroll.

Do you know the behind the scenes mechanics of all of this knowing that the president-elect is not getting the information he would traditionally get in a transition period, we're only about a week and a half out from what was Election Day.

So maybe right now it isn't critical but is there a date? Is there a period between now and January 20th when if you were in that administration and you were trying to move forward, just kind of playing off of your experience here, what would that date be when missing that information would become critical?

VALERIE JARRETT, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, good morning, Christi and thank you for having me on. Look, every day that goes by that they're not cooperating with the transition team is a problem.

Now the good news is, of course, President-Elect Biden is more prepared than anyone else to take office. He surrounded himself with a terrific team. They're moving forward as you saw forming the Coronavirus Task Force.

He's announced his Chief of Staff Ron Klain, an outstanding pick. He's announced the executive orders, a few of them he wants to sign on day one. They're about the business of forming the rest of the team, both in the White House and the cabinet but, but I have to say at this point having the cooperation from all of the different departments of agencies in the federal government, including the intelligence community to get the briefings on what could be a threat to the United States would be extremely helpful.


JARRETT: And to quote Former Chief of Staff John Kelly, there's no reason why he wouldn't do it. It doesn't cost them anything. If you care about our country, why wouldn't you want a smooth and orderly transition?

Having Co-Chaired President Obama and then Vice President Biden's transition, from day one President Bush and everyone on his team could not have been more helpful. Those briefings gave us a leg up. It enabled us to hit the ground running and President Obama demanded the same of us when we turned over the government to President Trump and that is what has been part of the pillar of our democracy and so to not do it puts us at peril.

PAUL: I wanted to get your reaction when we talk about the background mechanisms here and this transition period and President Trump because we know now that these dozens of secret service officers who have either tested positive or are being quarantined because they were exposed to someone who had COVID.

You tweeted about this a couple of days ago saying, putting the U.S. secret service and their families at needles risk is cruel and unconscionable. We also then heard from Dr. Amash Adalja of Johns Hopkins University a couple of nights ago who called the White House, the White House alone a hot zone is what he said.

We know that the secret service is an elite group. They probably I think based on the people that I know act much like a family. Help us understand. How does something like this affect the psyche of those people who protect the president?

JARRETT: Look, they're professionals and they'll do their job and they'll show up, but it is unconscionable to put them needlessly at risk, and for what? We would expect that the President of the United States would lead by example the Rose Garden events that he's had, the rallies, driving around in the car to get the adulation of his supporters when he was in the hospital, all of that puts both the secret service and everyone else who they come in contact with at risk.

And so you have to set yourself what is the purpose of doing that? I will say the men and women who serve in the secret service are extraordinary. They make great sacrifices. They are prepared to put their life at risk, but knowing that, why would you jeopardize them? Why wouldn't you do everything you could to keep them and everyone else with whom you come in contact as safe as possible?

PAUL: We heard from Jason Carroll there that the president is working with his transition team today. We know Bernie Sanders told Wolf Blitzer earlier that if Biden asks him to be Labor Secretary, he would certainly say yes. Here's what else he said.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): I expect that the Biden Administration will do everything that Bernie Sanders believes? No, I don't. But do I expect they will come forward and keep their word in maintaining and legislating on the proposals which we agreed to? Yes, I do.


PAUL: Do you know how open the president-elect is to this progressive wing of the party?

JARRETT: I know that he's a man of his word and whatever he has committed to do, he will do.

PAUL: Do you anticipate that the progressive policies that are being pushed may become problematic for the president-elect in any way?

JARRETT: Look, I think he has an open mind. He's going to listen to all perspectives. He's made it clear that he ran as a Democrat but he will govern as a president for all of America. So, Christi, I think he is true to his core principles and he certainly realizes he can't make perfect the enemy of the good.

He wants to make progress and that means you have to cobble together enough votes to make progress in the legislature and so he will have an open mind. But I don't - I have the sense that he's going to get hijacked by one part of the party, I just don't think is true.

He is strong. He is consistent. You can look at his track record and get a clear idea of what his core principles are. He articulated them during the campaign and he will stay true to those.

PAUL: Of course as being a part of President Obama's Administration you know the background. You know this president-elect very well. Has he talked to you about being part of his administration? Would you be open to that? JARRETT: Well, thank you for asking, Christi. No, I had the best job in the world for eight years. I have said to him and to his team I will help in any way I can from the outside. From the most important office, and that is the office of citizen.

PAUL: Yes. Just help us understand what that is like, to be in the inner circle of the president and why it might not be advantageous or attractive to go back to something like that.

JARRETT: Well, look, it was the honor of my lifetime to serve.

PAUL: Yes.

JARRETT: I can't even articulate what a privilege it was to have that opportunity for all eight years, but I'm in a different chapter of my life now so it's time to pass the baton.


JARRETT: My Former Chief of Staff is managing the transition, Johannes Abraham. He's a terrifically talented young person and I have every confidence that he and the rest of the team that the president-elect will assemble will do a terrific job.

PAUL: Valerie Jarrett, we so appreciate your insight and taking the time to speak with us this morning. Thank you so much.

JARRETT: You're welcome.

BLACKWELL: 184,000 new Coronavirus cases yesterday. More than 68,000 people in hospitals. We're going to speak to the Former FDA Commissioner coming up about what to expect with this vaccine approval process, the rollout and public skepticism. Margaret Hamburg is with us in a moment.

PAUL: And later, we investigate who is behind the stop the steal movement as the president's supporters are amplifying his uncounted claims of election fraud.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's not giving up. He won't give up because he's for us.




BLACKWELL: Pfizer and Moderna appear to be at the head of this race of developing a Coronavirus vaccine. Both companies are looking for emergency use authorization expected in a couple of weeks. But there are still a lot of questions about the practicalities of a large scale rollout in addition to the lack of public trust.

Joining me now to discuss is Margaret Hamburg, Former Commissioner of the Food & Drug Administration. Good morning to you.


BLACKWELL: OK, let's start here because I wanted to start with the rollout of the vaccine. But yesterday there were 184,000 new Coronavirus cases in this country. It's the 13th day of more than 100,000 cases per day, fourth day of new records. What does that look like for the health care infrastructure in two weeks, three weeks, a month?

HAMBURG: Well, these are just heartbreaking numbers. And as you say, the numbers are going in the wrong direction. We're not just seeing increases in cases, we're seeing increases in hospitalizations and, you know many, many hospitals and health care facilities across our country in big cities and in rural areas are overwhelmed.

And, you know, we can't forget that our health care workers have been at this a long time now and they are tired yet they have to mobilize, again, to really address what is the worst moment in our COVID-19 crisis to date. So, you know, we have to take this seriously.

The next eight to ten weeks are absolutely critical in terms of, you know, every American mobilizing to do the things that we know can help to reduce infections and limit spread and decrease the burden on our health care system, reduce the numbers of deaths.

And, you know, we are not going to be able to get our economy up and going in the way that we all want to see it happen in our schools open, businesses gathering again unless we address this virus head on.

BLACKWELL: Let's talk about the vaccines now. Dr. Slaoui, who's the Scientific Head of Operation Warp Speed, said that Pfizer and Moderna they are completing phase three, likely file for emergency authorization use in a couple of weeks.

There's a lot of skepticism about vaccine or vaccines that have been - will get that EAU in such a short period of time. Explain how - what is typically a lengthy process will be as stringent considering it's been truncated so?

HAMBURG: Yes. Well, vaccine development, as you say, is normally a very lengthy process. You know, it often takes a decade or more. The fastest vaccine development to date has been four years for mumps vaccine.

This has been dramatically accelerated and it's reflected both a huge mobilization of the scientific community, but it also reflects, you know, very rapid scientific advances to understand this virus and how to target it with a vaccine.

And a systematic approach to compress the different elements of vaccine development including importantly investing in manufacturing the vaccine even before we knew for sure whether a given vaccine would make it over the finish line. So that, you know, was a risk that both government and industry took. BLACKWELL: Yes.

HAMBURG: But I can assure you that the FDA has a very serious set of scientists and reviewers that have been working hard to ensure scientific rigor in the process. Also built into the system are a number of steps where outside, independent scientists and experts are reviewing the data and making recommendations.

So I think that we can have trust that the vaccine will meet standards for safety and efficacy. In fact, the early data coming in is more promising than I think any of us expected, but we have to recognize that there may be glitches along the way.

BLACKWELL: Understood, yes.

HAMBURG: And you have to, you know, go step by step and not over promise.

BLACKWELL: So speaking of over promising, I want you to listen to what we heard from the White House about how many doses would be available by the spring?


BLACKWELL: This was what they said back in September, Dr. Scott atlas, president's favorite doctor on the White House Coronavirus Task Force, and Dr. Slaoui yesterday from the Rose Garden about how many potentially Americans could be vaccinated by April. Watch.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When do you want to see it available? What would be a time line?

TRUMP: Yes, we will start distributing it immediately.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To the general public?

TRUMP: To the general public by, Scott, what would you think?

DR. SCOTT ATLAS, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE: As I said, the high priority people will have sometime no later than January. I mean, of course it depends when things are approved if the emergency use is given.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm talking the low priority people?

DR. ATLAS: I didn't finish. And then it's anticipated there will be 700 million doses by the end of Q1. That's 700 million doses.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By the end of March?

DR. ATLAS: That's of Q1. We have plan to have enough vaccine doses available for use in the U.S. population to immunize 20 million individuals in the month of December and another 25 to 30 million per month on an ongoing basis from there on. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: Well, that's a dramatic difference 700 million by April 1st to 20 million in December then 25 to 30 maybe per month after that. Is that even realistic considering some of the infrastructure that will have to be built up to transport even something in the cases of Pfizer vaccine that's 94 degrees below Fahrenheit it has to be kept at. What do you think about the number of people who could be vaccinated by the end of the first quarter?

HAMBURG: Well, I think that the vaccine efforts can move forward swiftly but there has to be huge organization and there has to be a lot more transparency. The vaccine is already being made and there is vaccine that will be available. First the FDA has to actually review the data and the emergency use authorization has to be made.

There has to be clear delineation of who's going to get the first available vaccine in terms of the priority groups for vaccination. We need to know how it's going to be distributed, appropriately stored at very low temperatures in the case of the Pfizer vaccine as you know, and we need to have all of the materials to give the vaccination.

And one of the things that do worry me is that the distribution is going to be complicated. It's not going to be like the way vaccines normally roll out. And that's why this issue you've been talking about earlier this morning is so important about the transition also, because we have to be able to ensure a smooth and clear handoff of responsibilities.

States are confused about how this is going to work. States have been developing their own plans but we really need more clarity. We need clear communication. We need collaboration.

BLACKWELL: Hopefully we will start to see that from the administration. I hate to jump in here but we've got to wrap because we're at the bottom of the hour. Margaret Hamburg, Former FDA Commissioner. Thank you for being with us and offering insight and expertise into this vaccine process.

HAMBURG: Sure, my pleasure.

BLACKWELL: Thank you. Christi?

PAUL: So President Trump's claims, which are false, that the election's been stolen from him are about to hit the streets. There are protests planned in Washington later today. How the stop the still movement is directly tied, did you know, to Roger Stone?



BLACKWELL: Some supporters of the president will be rallying and protesting in D.C. today. They're supporters of the stop the steal movement. They're parroting President Trump's baseless claims that the election is being stolen from him. PAUL: Yes, and it's promoted to look like a grassroots movement but you might be surprised to find out who's really behind it? Here's Drew Griffin reporting.

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's an internet battle cry. Stop the steal has swept across in boxes, Facebook pages and Twitter like an out of control virus.




GRIFFIN: The claims that Democrats stole the 2020 presidential election from Donald Trump are all false, but the truth means little to people inundated with lies.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe that they tried to steal the election.


GRIFFIN: Stop the steal may appear as a grassroots uprising but it started more than four years ago, the brainchild of a political dirty trick artist and convicted liar who has pushed disinformation schemes for years. Roger Stone.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop the steal is posting much of this material. Here it is insurmountable, compelling, overcoming evidence of fraud.

BENJAMIN DECKER, FOUNDER AND CEO, MEMETICA: Stop the steal is actually a coordinated effort that has been revived twice by Roger Stone and allied political operatives in an attempt to gaslight the entire integrity of our voting and election process.


GRIFFIN: Ben Decker who conducts digital investigations says far from a grassroots campaign. Stop the steal is a business. In 2016 Roger Stone's PAC launched stop the which was asking for $10,000 donations reportedly then to help uncover vote fraud against Donald Trump. Stone told CNN the group was a nonprofit created to ensure the integrity of the vote.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop the steal.


GRIFFIN: Stop the steal reemerged briefly in the 2018 mid terms, then in the run up to 2020 the stop the steal campaign rebooted by a group of people orbiting Roger Stone. Cast of characters include Ali Alexander, a Roger Stone wannabe.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I actually just got a message from Roger Stone.


GRIFFIN: He began hash tagging Stop the Steal weeks before Election Day and launched a stop the steel website.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And one of the co-founders--


GRIFFIN: Amy Cramer, a tea party activist who in 2016 formed a group women vote Trump with Roger Stone's ex-wife. Cramer was behind a stop the steal Facebook group along with two people who worked on Steve Bannon's discredited rebuild the wall fund.

It was taken down by Facebook. Also shut down, a cluster of pages affiliated with Bannon that coordinated posts according to Facebook using inauthentic behavior tactics to artificially boost how many people saw their content. In all, the pages had 2.5 million followers before they were shuttered.


DECKER: Stop the steal is a highly coordinated, partisan, political operation.


GRIFFIN: Trump's this week Stone even took his message to the most notorious conspiracy theorist of all, Alex Jones.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A hoax has been perpetrated on the American people.


GRIFFIN: On Twitter researchers at Clemson University saw the hash tag stop the steal mentioned in nearly 2 million tweets. The tweets, the Facebook posts filled with unsubstantiated and false evidence of widespread voter fraud quickly caught the attention of disinformation people Karen O'Connor (ph).


UNIDNTIFIED MALE: It only took a day and a half for Facebook took the group down, but by then it was already too late.


GRIFFIN: Copy cat sites now number in the dozens and the false information initially spread by a few is only multiplying. Drew Griffin, CNN, Atlanta.

BLACKWELL: Our thanks to Drew for that report. Listen, cases are spiking across the country. In Utah the Governor there is enforcing a mask mandate. Hospitals have already reached capacity. We're going to share with you the toll of the Coronavirus pandemic on one family. It is a devastating impact on that family. You'll see the story in a moment.



BLACKWELL: The Governor of Utah and the Utah Labor Commission is enforcing a statewide mask mandate because of the rising number of Coronavirus cases there. Businesses must now require employees to wear masks, promote mask wearing to their customers and put up signs explaining the rules.

PAUL: CNN Correspondent Lucy Kafanov is in Salt Lake City. She has one family's journey we have to hear.


LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Coronavirus pandemic is ravaging the State of Utah cases skyrocketing, the death count soaring officials sounding the alarm.

GARY HERBERT, UTAH GOVERNOR: We're at the breaking point and ready to have some serious repercussions.

KAFANOV: Utah's seven-day new case average now at a record 2,738 cases, the positivity rate for the first time surpassing 23 percent and the death toll nearing 700 and climbing.

HERBERT: Those numbers should be alarming to all of us as we look at the death rates and those that are being hospitalized and the overrunning of our hospital system.

KAFANOV: The surge wreaking havoc on hospitals.

KAFANOV: Is Utah at a tipping point when it comes to COVID infections?


KAFANOV: Dr. Elizabeth Middleton helps oversee the University of Utah hospital's intensive care unit and is preparing for another surge.

DR. MIDDLETON: If you ask me in two weeks, we'll be having a different situation again, because I think we'll see our hospitalizations increase across the state. And again, it's the suffering that weighs on me the suffering of the patients, the suffering of the staff who feels helpless. HERBERT: I'm declaring a new state of emergency to address hospital overcrowding.

KAFANOV: The crisis leading Governor Gary Herbert to issue a two-week state of emergency, requiring all Utahans to mask up, despite previously resisting a mandate, banning residents from socializing with people from different households, ramping up testing across the state, even deploying more national guard to help with testing and contact tracing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's crazy to think that this lady right here is - this is what she is now, just memories. And it's heartbreaking.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is one of the last photos taken of them together.

KAFANOV: But Lindsay Wootton says those measures are too little, too late. Her grandfather died of COVID-19 last month. Days later, the woman she calls her best friend, her mom, also lost her life to COVID. Her father battled the disease for 46 days in the hospital, now home recovering and mourning the love of his life.

LINDSAY WOOTTON, LOST MOTHER AND GRANDFATHER TO COVID-19: The whole day was probably one of the harder days of my life.

KAFANOV: She recalls when doctors broke the news her mom wasn't going to survive. Moments later, she learned her grandfather was about to pass.

WOOTTON: We called my grandpa and I put him on speakerphone so he could talk to my mom. He called my mom kiddo. He called us all kiddo, but he said, kiddo, I'm not doing good. And she said, dad, I'm not either. And he said, Tray, I'm dying. And she said, dad, I am too. And he said then I'll look for you in heaven.

KAFANOV: She wants others to learn from her family's tragedy.

WOOTTON: It's frustrating that people brush it off, that it is just the flu, because for some people, it's not. For some people, it costs their life.


WOOTTON: It took my mom and that's irreplaceable. My kids - my kids don't get their grandma. My mom will never see my kids get married.

KAFANOV: Now dozens of people in Lindsey's family were affected by COVID, so much so that part of her mom's funeral had to be broadcast by zoom so they could be a part of it, too. Her story is unfortunately a microcosm of what's happening to families across the State of Utah as well as across the country. Her message, this isn't political. If something as simple as wearing a mask could save even one life, please do so Lucy Kafanov, CNN, Salt Lake City, Utah.





UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's calling me from this ER room where she's stuck with another woman. They don't have a laboratory. They're using a bedside like la latrine type of thing. It was horrific. She spent 30 hours there. And I just started bawling my eyes out. I couldn't believe it.


PAUL: It's down - there and it was about seven months ago we were looking at that when he was telling me about his mother Francesca. She died from the Coronavirus earlier this year. She was just 72. Here's the thing about Dom, his landlord also died that same week that he lost his mother.

He had several friends who have lost their fathers, and I talked to him about the reset. You know, how he has changed because of COVID? He calls COVID - and I'm quoting here a cloud of darkness, and he believes it's hanging over all of us.


CHRISTI: I don't know anybody that's suffered through this as much as you all have.

DOM PORCO, LOST HIS MOTHER TO CORONAVIRUS: I hope you never do, Christi because it's a living nightmare. It's like you think when it goes away like it pops up, you know, like I'm still - I think I need to go through therapy soon because I'm getting PTSD. Like I get flashbacks of those 11 days my mother was on a ventilator,

you know, doctors calling me in the middle of the night. I'm going through my mother's belongings and trying to hold on to like shreds of her life all those sentimental things.

A few months ago my wife and I were like screw this, we're going to move to Italy, we're going to buy a dream house there, a house in the Mediterranean and to stick up and start there. Then reality sets in, you can't leave the country and the bureaucracy of another country is terrible. So you hold onto these little dreams that kind of get you through every day.

PAUL: He said something else that's been really hard is to not let fear dictate his relationships.

PORCO: Now I have to take care of my father, and he's an hour away. My father also lost his business. My father was a tailor in Manhattan for 30 years, established this amazing business, and he had to like give it up because of COVID, you know, and he was thinking about carrying on, but I'm like, dad, I lost one parent.

You tested positive for COVID antibodies. I can't risk losing another parent. Even though I've had some family that, you know, after having witnessed my mom going through this, like they're like, oh, yes, this is still a hoax. I've had to cut off some people.

I will tell you faith, the rosary and praying, if I did not have that during COVID or when - during my mom's hospitalization I don't think I'd be here.

PAUL: Do you still have faith?

PORCO: You know, some days I get mad at God, and I'm like why? Why did you take her? Then I look at my dad and my dad is the miracle I asked for because my dad had COVID, you know. So he didn't take away my father.

There are days where like I still say a prayer before I go to sleep. I say it privately for my mom's soul and for many other people who are suffering or dying. If I didn't have faith, I don't think I'd be where I am right now.


PAUL: Dom Porco there, by we wish the very best and I hope I can bring more of his story because it is really so spectacular. But I want to hear yours as well. Tell me how the Coronavirus and quarantine has changed you, changed the priorities that you have, the decisions that you're making.

You can find me on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and thank you so much because I really do love to hear your stories.

BLACKWELL: Absolutely. Tonight CNN will highlight the story of Joe Biden, his long journey from receiving the Democratic Party Presidential Nomination this summer to becoming President-Elect.

See his ambitions, his tragedies, his dramatic fights in the race of his lifetime. It's "The fight for the White House: Joe Biden's long journey" airing tonight at 10:00 eastern. We'll be back in one hour from now.

PAUL: Mm-hmm, yep, we sure will. We have a lot coming up in that hour. First, we know you're waiting for Smerconish, and he is coming up with you next. Do stay close. We'll see you in just a bit.



MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST: The election is over. Now comes the hard part. I'm Michael Smerconish in Philadelphia. When President-Elect Joe Biden is sworn in on January 20, which will pose a bigger challenge to accomplishing his agenda?

Will it be Mitch McConnell, the notoriously obstructionist Senate Majority Leader or the more progressive wing of Biden's own party? Think Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and the squad.