Return to Transcripts main page
New Day Saturday
Los Angeles Issues Stay-Home Order As Cases Surge; Biden Extends Lead In Milwaukee After Trump Requests Recount; COVID-19 Surge Puts Strain On Rural Hospitals; U.S. Aircraft Carrier Moving Back Into Persian Gulf; Assassination Of Iranian Scientist Could Complicate Biden Administration's Foreign Policy Ambitions; Millions In U.S. Struggling With COVID And Economic Fallout As Hope For Federal Relief Dwindles. Aired 7-8a ET
Aired November 28, 2020 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: All over the world, we found a way to lift each other up and connect through the power of music.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm called out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: And thank you to each of you who are doing little things to make this easier to handle. Go to cnnheroes.com right now and vote for this moment or any of our most inspiring moments.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): After a Thanksgiving like no other, America headed into a Black Friday like no other.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am so worried about everything that's happening over Thanksgiving, because we have a massive surge on top of another massive surge.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel good, I feel safe. There's nobody out here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unfortunately now, 2,000 deaths per day is going to be the new normal.
PAUL: The world waits for the ultimate weapon to battle the pandemic to officially arrive.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Don't let Joe Biden take credit for the vaccine.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The political theater absolutely has to stop.
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're war with a virus, not with one another.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Iran has now accused Israel of being behind the assassination of its top nuclear scientist.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is a two-fold effect. So, one is to slow down the program, the other one is make it impossible for the United States to engage Iran after January 20th.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY WEEKEND, with Victor Blackwell and Christi Paul.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Sun coming up there in New York City, 7:01 there in the city. Good morning to you. Thanks so much for being with us.
Next couple of days will be crucial. Again, this fight against the coronavirus, the most populous county in the country is now taking action to try to slow the spread.
PAUL: Yes, for people living in Los Angeles County, if you're not in the same household, you cannot get together, that's the new stay-at- home order that goes into effect. It doesn't include church services, a protest, we want to point out, but it goes into effect Monday, due to what officials there call an alarming level of new COVID-19 cases.
CNN's Polo Sandoval is following this. Talk to us about how long these restrictions are expected to last and the enforcement of them.
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: These aren't certainly temporary, but authorities making it clear that they would potentially be in place long as it takes to try to keep those threshold numbers as actually down in LA County though, it's really quite the opposite. Those numbers continue to rise.
That average five-day infection rate, that's already exceeded the threshold that the L.A. County had set for itself. So that is triggering, as you just described, these new restrictions that are in place basically restricting those gatherings both public and private. For any members outside of the household, those are now prohibited.
But as you point out, though, those religious gatherings and protests, those are certainly not included there. Multiple factors here. Not only are infections up in L.A. County, but also hospitalizations almost twice as what we've seen the last three weeks. And, of course, that climbing death rate as well.
SANDOVAL (voice-over): As of today, more than 19,000 Californians have lost their lives to the coronavirus. Until yesterday, only two states, New York and Texas, had reached that sobering milestone.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're in the most dangerous public health crisis this nation is faced, at least for the last hundred years. We're going easily to 200,000 new cases per day, it'll be accelerated because of the Thanksgiving holiday. It'll be accelerated again over Christmas, and I'm so upset about the deaths. SANDOVAL: Those death rates along with a number of infections and hospitalizations continue climbing throughout much of the country with frontline health care workers putting their lives on the line to save patients.
DR. HASSAN KHOULI, CHAIR, DEPARTMENT OF CRITICAL CARE MEDICINE, CLEVELAND CLINIC: It is disheartening to see some of our colleagues, our nurses, our respiratory therapists, our physicians, falling ill and looking them in the eyes too and see how this is impacting them. This is as real as it can be. And we have to -- we have to follow all the things that we know work.
SANDOVAL: Including mask wearing, social distancing and following post-Thanksgiving advice to quarantine when in doubt about possible exposure.
Health officials say that's especially important if you attended a holiday gathering this week with guests outside of your household or with people not taking precautions.
DR. AMY COMPTON-PHILLIPS, CHIEF CLINICAL OFFICER, PROVIDENCE HEALTH SYSTEM: If you've expanded your bubble over Thanksgiving, the CDC asks us to stay quarantined for 14 days and so we're going to do everything we can to get as close to that as possible.
SANDOVAL: Multiple health experts are warning that this latest spike hasn't even peaked and likely to worsen significantly in the coming weeks putting a bigger strain on hospitals across the country.
DR. COLLEEN KRAFT, DIVISION OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES, EMORY UNIVERSITY: People can't get their serious surgeries if there's no ICU beds available because of COVID. So, this is really becoming a tragedy within a tragedy.
SANDOVAL: In the race to secure a safe COVID vaccine, a CDC advisory committee will hold an emergency meeting on Tuesday, voting on who would be among the first to be vaccinated frontline health care workers, those at high risk of infection likely to be prioritized. The World Health Organization also calling for more research on a vaccine candidate being developed by AstraZeneca. A dosing misshapen their trial gave a small group of study subjects less dosage, but was more effective than the planned dose, leading to questions about their trial.
SANDOVAL: It's important to mention that not all hospitals across the country are caught in a crisis. Some of them are still able to keep their head well above water, including here in New York's Mount Sinai health care system. The chief medical officer actually expressing some optimism saying that yester COVID patients, the number of them, they're certainly on the rise, but they are still well within their ability to handle those cases, guys.
BLACKWELL: Polo Sandoval, thank you.
PAUL: So, we know the holiday shopping season is one of those things we think of right now. It doesn't look the same though, and it certainly doesn't feel the same because of this pandemic, Victor.
BLACKWELL: Really. And, you know, there are some a few busier shopping centers. These are the few we saw yesterday. Deloitte Survey found that almost half of shoppers feeling some anxiety about shopping in stores, but there's still plenty of people who they say it's pretty safe heading to stores and malls. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel good. I feel safe. I feel comfortable. I like it. There's nobody out here. It's perfect, perfect clothes shopping like me.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're wearing eye masks as we should be. We decided to come early so we don't catch it like at a very busy packed time. So, that's the main reason why we got out this early as we did.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I figured the earlier you go, the less crowd you're going to have to face and I don't know about you, but I think I'm right. In terms of the crowds here, there's very few crowds here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: So, in a few minutes, we will have our medical analyst, Dr. Leana Wen. She's going to be here to talk to us about what to do after the holiday weekend, and what the impact of the holidays will have on the ongoing coronavirus surge.
President-elect Joe Biden is now working on his plan to distribute a vaccine when it's approved.
PAUL: Yes. CNN's Rebecca Buck is following the latest from Washington. Rebecca, advisors to the CDC, we know, are holding this emergency meeting Tuesday, and they're expected to vote on who they believe should get the vaccine first. What are we hearing that we expect to hear from them at the end of the day? And how will the Biden team collaborate if they do it all?
REBECCA BUCK, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, as a candidate for President Joe Biden said he intended to listen to the scientists and the experts when it comes to dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. And it looks like that's exactly what he intends to do in this case, when it comes to deciding who will get the vaccine first.
Dr. Celine Gounder, who is a member of Biden's coronavirus advisory board, said this week that she expects Biden to take the CDC's recommendation on this issue. And she predicts that the people who will be getting the vaccine first include the elderly, health care workers, people with pre-existing conditions, sort of the people who you would expect to get priority for a vaccine of this nature.
But the key here when it comes to Biden's approach to this, Dr. Gounder says she thinks is just taking the politics out of the equation. They don't want to politicize this anymore than it has been already. They want to take a new approach and look at where the data and where the experts are leading them. Obviously, it's a stark contrast to what we have seen over the course of this past year with the current administration, how starkly political this has come.
Already though, the Biden team in this transition has overcome one key challenge when it comes to planning for this coronavirus pandemic and their response. This week, the GSA, the General Services Administration, finally ascertained Biden's victory as president- elect, which enabled him to start coordinating with federal officials, getting access to government data and information that can help them plan for their response to the pandemic, and also this vaccine rollout.
So, now their planning is well underway. Of course, this is going to be the first big test of Joe Biden as President when he takes office next year, not only his response to the pandemic, broadly, but the logistics of this vaccine rollout. Current administration has put a lot of pieces in place, but it's going to be incumbent on Biden to finish the process, close the deal and get those vaccines to the public. So, we see that process starting this week with the CDC's recommendation and Biden's response to that recommendation as well. Christi, Victor.
PAUL: All right. Rebecca Buck, thank you so much.
BUCK: Thank you.
BLACKWELL: Wisconsin's largest county certified its election results yesterday. And after the recount that the Trump campaign requested and paid for, President-elect Joe Biden picked up even more votes.
PAUL: CNN's Kevin Liptak is with us from the White House right now. Is there any comment from the White House yet, Kevin, about that recount?
KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, no official comment, but there are indications that the Trump campaign will appeal the decision. They're essentially trying to invalidate tens of thousands of absentee votes in Wisconsin. But timing is running short. The deadline to certify the results in Wisconsin is Tuesday.
And remember the Trump campaign requested this recount, they paid $3 million for it. When the results came in from Milwaukee County yesterday, Joe Biden ended up with 132 more votes than he did before. So, this is all the Trump campaigns legal pathways, they're crumbling. The President is continuing to issue these false claims about the election, even after he said that he would leave the White House, if the Electoral College affirms Joe Biden's win, he's now seeming to put some conditions on that.
He wrote on Twitter, "Biden can only enter the White House's President if he can prove that his ridiculous 80 million votes were not fraudulently or illegally obtained. Now, of course, there are proof that the President is looking for there is -- has come in statements from the federal government, from Republican and Democratic state election officials who all say that there is no widespread voting fraud in this election.
The only person who seems to be having trouble proving anything in all of this is the President himself facing legal setback after legal setback. The latest came in Pennsylvania again yesterday, a judge there at a federal appeals court rejecting the Trump campaign's request to block certification in the state. The judge who was appointed by President Trump saying that calling an election affair does not make it so.
Now, the Trump campaign has signaled that they will appeal this decision to the Supreme Court. The High Court has indicated that it has no interest in taking these cases up. All of this is just an attempt by the president to sow doubts about the election among his supporters. But if you needed any indication that the President realizes that his term is coming to a close, it is this rash of new rules, this rash of pardons that were expected in the next several weeks. All of this assign that the President is fully aware that he will not be president after January 20th.
BLACKWELL: Dozens of losses over trolls. Kevin, thank you.
PAUL: So still ahead, the new COVID-19 struggle in America's rural hospitals.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In the spring, the concern was the equipment and the PPE. That's not where we're at now.
PAUL: Well, one hospital worker says, it's her team's biggest concern about COVID now.
PAUL: It's 16 minutes past the hour and doctors are predicting a post- Thanksgiving surge in coronavirus cases.
BLACKWELL: Dr. Peter Hotez says that without a national program, hospitals will continue to be overwhelmed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. PETER HOTEZ, PROFESSOR AND DEAN OF TROPICAL MEDICINE, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: We're going to be regularly hitting 2,000 deaths per day but then going up to 3,000 deaths and 4,000 deaths more lives than the U.S. lost in terms of G.I.s in World War Two. These are the kinds of numbers we're talking about.
Numbers that are approaching what we experienced in the 1918 flu pandemic except it's happening over a much shorter period of time. So, this is -- this is going to be very destabilizing for the country not only in terms of health, but also our economy as well as our homeland security is under threat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: Let's bring it now CNN medical analyst, Dr. Leana Wen. Doctor, good morning to you. Let's start here. Tomorrow is expected to be another heavy travel day. All the people who left on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday, many of them will be coming back to their homes in one day. What's the advice once people return? Should they quarantine? Does it depend upon the mode of transit if they flew or drove? Or the transmission rate, the place they visited? What's your advice?
DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: So, I'm actually less concerned about the travel itself than I am about what people did during the time that they were spending time with their loved ones. If you were truly outdoors only space six feet apart at all times, you probably don't need to quarantine because your risk exposure is low, but I think many people who travelled did get together with loved ones indoors who were not part of their immediate family.
In which case because there is such high level of coronavirus all over the country. I mean, essentially, the entire America is a hotspot. You don't want to be ceding coronavirus infection in the community that you're traveling to. So, I would recommend for everyone to quarantine for at least seven days and then get a test. If you cannot get a test, quarantine for 14 days. And by that, I mean, a true quarantine. So, don't go into work. Pull your kids out of school for that period of time, because you really do not want to be spreading coronavirus inadvertently to people around you.
BLACKWELL: That's especially hard for some people who took the time off to travel than to get maybe an extra two weeks plus to stay at home.
WEN: I understand, and I know that this is such a challenging time for everyone, but I am also certain that none of us want to be the super spreaders in our community. And there is so much community transmission that is occurring. Hospitals are already so overwhelmed. We don't want to be the reason why a colleague's parent ends up in the ICU or dying because we didn't quarantine.
BLACKWELL: So, let's look ahead. There's this Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices emergency meeting called for December 1st, which is Tuesday. The CDC advisory committee members are expected to vote on recommendations for who should receive the vaccine first.
Health care workers have long been at the expected top of that list. CDC counts 18 million health care workers across the country. How far down this hierarchy do you expect this vote to go, who receives it first, second, third? What moderate expectations for what we're expected to come out of this meeting?
WEN: With the CDC, I think it's a good thing that they're establishing a national framework that states can follow. Ultimately, the decision is going to be the states in terms of how they decide to allocate within their populations. Because each state is going to look different and who is the highest risk in different states and who can be reached quickly is going to be different.
I do expect that healthcare workers who are on the front lines are going to be prioritized. And that's because if we run out of health care workers, we're not going to be able to treat patients. And these are also individuals who are at the highest risk of contracting COVID- 19.
And then I would also expect that nursing home residents will be very high on the list as well. There are more than 100,000 deaths that have already occurred among nursing home residents and staff. And so, for those who are the most susceptible, if our goal is to prevent the most number of deaths, that we also have to look at populations like that.
And so, I think we'll get a general framework. But ultimately, we need to trust the decisions to states which by the way, also desperately needs funding, because state and local health departments are the ones that have to execute on these plans. And they don't have the funding to stand up and establish these vaccination programs.
BLACKWELL: The New York Times is reporting that Britain is moving potentially ahead of the U.S. to prove AstraZeneca and the Pfizer vaccine candidates, would that impact availability in the US if they're approved overseas first?
WEN: Yes, it's a good question. And so, there are a differential rates of vaccine approval. We've seen that throughout history, but we see that now and two that we see in Russia and China, they are already, it sounds like distributing vaccines and large doses, maybe not in the best way, but they are doing this.
The U.S. has already established a supply of vaccines. They've contracted with Pfizer, with Moderna, as an example to produce a certain amount already. And so just because it's approved somewhere else first won't limit our supply. We need to, now, trust the FDA to do their job to make sure that we are following the most rigorous scientific protocols, that there are no shortcuts taken to this process, because ultimately, the vaccine needs to be safe and effective, but it also needs to be trusted by the American people.
BLACKWELL: All right. Dr. Leana Wen, thanks so much.
WEN: Thank you.
PAUL: So, the COVID-19 numbers, I know, feel numbing at times. But think about it this way, the number of COVID cases in the U.S. is equivalent to the entire population of the state of Illinois. The number of people who've died in the U.S. could fill the largest stadium in the country, what you see there, Michigan stadium, almost three times. They're not just numbers, they're people, and COVID is ravaging the rural hospitals trying to save them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARA BROKAW, DIRECTOR OF NURSING, BELLEVUE HOSPITAL IN OHIO: Of people who just care about making sure that patients are taken care of. It's difficult because we are so small, that we only have a handful of staff to pull from really. If I lose, or we lose two or three nurses or workers from other departments, that can quickly become 10 to 25 percent of the team in that department.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: That's Sara Brokaw, she's the Director of Nursing at Bellevue Hospital, and transparently I'm telling you, my hometown, Bellevue, Ohio, it's a sweet rural community. It mirrors thousands of rural districts in our country, and there's been a shift in the struggle. Sara told me the problem isn't PPE now as it was in the spring. The problem today is the alarming rate at which this virus is spreading.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BROKAW: For us to go from where we would only have two or three potentially positive COVID patients in house to now 75 percent, I can't begin to imagine what our frontline teams are feeling. I see it on their faces, and I see it in their tears.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: Before COVID, gloves was standard protection, right? Add masks and eye protection now and you heard her right, yes, 75 percent of patients at Bellevue Hospital right now are there because of COVID positive, which means the protective equipment is much more cumbersome.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BROKAW: Now, they're wearing an N95 or a PAPR, which is a personal air purifying device. And they're wearing gowns, and they're wearing gloves, and they're wearing eye protection. And it's like getting dressed to go sledding every day for them. I mean, it's a lot.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: Now, they do collaborate with other rural and higher capacity hospitals such as Toledo and Cleveland to avoid reaching a point where they can't take any more patients safely. But Sara says right now, they're close to that point.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BROKAW: We have a limited number of staff that we can pull from and staff can only cross train to so many different places and be trained to do so many different roles. And it's an emotional thing for them. It's hard.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: Sara says they have incredible support from the community and from the board, but there are still a lot of people who don't understand the severity of the situation and that's one of their greatest concerns, and really most dangerous obstacles to taking care of people.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BROKAW: In different things that I've read, one thing that I've always found interesting is the studies around how facts, when somebody has made their mind up about something or has a perception about something, that facts can't change their mind, that really the only thing that can change their mind is experience. And that's a scary thought, because we don't want people to have to experience this to be able to truly understand how significant this is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: I know that I've seen people who were questioning it, and then they got sick and their mind did change. And we hope we -- hope that that is not going to be the case for people who think that this isn't real, or that this isn't problematic, because at the end of the day, we have record numbers of people dying from this pandemic. And it's going to be up to us doing what we can to try to take some of the pressure off others, those frontline responders, because they're doing everything they can.
BLACKWELL: More fallout after the killing of Iran's top nuclear scientist. We'll talk about how the country is reacting, and what this could mean for the incoming Biden administration.
PAUL: Following "BREAKING NEWS" overnight, Iran promising to respond, "like lightning" to the assassination of its top nuclear scientist.
BLACKWELL: The U.S. officials say they are closely watching this situation. The timing of the death could complicate diplomacy for the Biden administration.
CNN's Barbara Starr has more from the Pentagon.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Even with no official word from the government of Israel or the Trump administration behind the scenes, U.S. officials are calling the assassination of this Iranian nuclear scientist a big deal. The man is said to have been involved four decades in the development of Iran's nuclear weapons program.
No one can say yet who carried out the assassination. Iran very clearly pointing the public finger at Israel. Israel not responding. So, the question really becomes what happens now?
In the region, there's a good deal of concern that things stay calm. That Iran not retaliate for this assassination, even though the Iranians are already threatening to do so. For the part of the U.S., they are moving the aircraft carrier Nimitz back into the Persian Gulf region. Defense officials say it has nothing to do with the assassination, this move had been planned. But this aircraft carrier and its fighter jets on board are going to provide air cover and defense for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and Afghanistan that President Trump had ordered to be completed five days before he leaves office in January.
So, all of this putting more firepower into the region, more tension if you will. With President-elect Joe Biden coming into office, having to decide what to do about it all, and everyone is wondering if the Iranians are getting the message that the U.S. is after deterrent. They want to deter Iran, as one general said, we are not looking for war.
Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.
BLACKWELL: With me now, Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, CNN military analyst, former army commanding general for Europe and the Seventh Army. General, good morning to you.
The movement of the Nimitz back into the Persian Gulf, you heard the explanation that Barbara relayed there. Is that commensurate with the job that has to be done to get the troops out of Afghanistan? Or do you believe there could be some connection to what happened in Tehran?
LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST (on camera): Yes, I believe, Victor, and good morning that this is in connection to the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. There usually isn't an aircraft carrier standing by, unless there is a huge deployment like there was during the surge in Iraq or some uh increases in personnel strength within Afghanistan.
We're talking about 2,500 people leaving Iraq right now. That doesn't require an aircraft carrier in support. What that carrier may be there to do is to react to any situation as a result of this assassination.
That tells me that some people in the U.S. government knew about it. We don't know who conducted the operation. There are some suspicions that it was Israel. But truthfully, we also have Secretary of State Pompeo in the region during the period of 13 to 23 November, talking to Israel, to the UAE, to Saudi Arabia. So, I think, what we're talking about is the potential for some coordination for this kind of attack.
BLACKWELL: So, a U.S. official tells our national security team that they do not expect Iran to strike out against the U.S. specifically in the last few weeks of the Trump administration. Do you agree with that?
HERTLING: I don't, Victor. We've already seen some strikes within Iraq, where some of the militia groups have lobbed missiles and mortar rounds into the green zone, targeting not just the Iraqi government but also the U.S. personnel that are there. That's been happening over the last several weeks as a -- as a direct reaction to President's Trump announcement that forces would be moving out of Iraq. So, I think we could see maybe not Iran, but certainly, proxies of Iran throughout the Middle East striking out at both Israel and the United States.
BLACKWELL: So, I'll ask this from a military perspective, and then we've got Jason Rezaian, coming up the next hour, and I'll talk to him about it from a geopolitical perspective.
But what's the relevance specifically to this -- of the lame-duck status or distinction of the president that this would happen in the last couple of months?
BLACKWELL: That if Israel is responsible for this that it would happen now.
HERTLING: Yes, from my perspective, it -- it's disruptive in any strategy that President-elect Biden might be considering for the region, not just the Middle East but also for Europe.
Remember Victor, Europe was a participants in the Iran nuclear deal, and they were quite upset when President Trump withdrew from that deal.
So, we're talking about the requirement for if President-elect Biden wants to re-establish some of the norms and diplomacy and military activity from both NATO perspective and a Middle East perspective, this will certainly disrupt any of those actions.
The other thing that I think is important is when you're seeing a complete withdrawal or a large withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan without the coordination that's sometimes needed with the nations that are hosting those military forces. You also have the potential for affecting the trust between allies and partners. And I think that's something that President-elect Biden is also going to have to face with this rapid withdrawal of forces.
BLACKWELL: All right, we heard from the military adviser to the Ayatollah Khamenei that there would be response like lightning for those responsible for this killing. We'll see what that means.
After the killing of Soleimani in January, there was the strike that gave 100 plus U.S. troops' brain damage, but no one was killed in Iraq. We'll see what -- if anything happens now.
Lieutenant General, always good to have you as part of the conversation. Thank you so much.
HERTLING: Thank you, Victor.
BLACKWELL: Christi. PAUL: Thank you so much.
So, I know we're all trying to reconcile what doesn't seem to make sense to us. Stocks are rising, but there are millions of people who don't have work, who are barely making ends meet. How is this happening? We're taking a look at where the economy stands, next.
PAUL: So, 12 million Americans are set to lose employment benefits by the end of the year, unless Congress acts, and they have to do so fast.
BLACKWELL: Here with us is CNN business and politics correspondent Cristina Alesci. Cristina, good morning to you. How do -- I mean, stocks keep rising the record, surpassing 30,000 a couple of days ago. And so many people are just struggling to buy food and pay the rent.
CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Victor. The stock market is yet another example of the two economic realities that have existed throughout this pandemic.
Now, what investors are looking at is that they're looking past the next couple of months of pain and suffering in the real economy. They're looking at vaccine distribution and the peaceful transition of power. That's why the Dow hit that 30,000 milestone this week. And it's part of the reason that it may have -- it is on track to have its best month since November 1987.
But those benefits, the benefits of a stock market rally will flow disproportionately to the higher-income people in this country and the wealthy. And that means that, you know, we'll continue to have this: housing boom, retailers are looking forward to three -- between three and five percent more in terms of retail spending.
Meanwhile, the stock market rally will not help feed the 50 million Americans in 2020 that may go hungry. It's also not going to help the 778,000 additional people who filed for unemployment benefits this week, initial unemployment benefits, I should say, last week. That is the second week in a row that the number of claims has gone up.
And as you mentioned, 12 million people are at risk for losing unemployment benefits. These are gig workers, and people on unemployment for a longer-term if Congress does not act. That is the harsh economic reality for millions of people in this country, Victor.
PAUL: Hey, yes. And we can't forget about that Cristina. We do know too that President Trump took credit for the Dow reaching the 30,000 milestone this week. I mean, is he correct to claim it?
ALESCI: Well, there is no doubt that Operation Warp Speed definitely helped and supported the vaccines' record development. It was developed in record time, there's no doubt about that, and that's why investors are cheering. But this milestone was hit on a week that it became abundantly clear that Trump is on the way out and Biden is on the way in. Biden spent the week nominating his Cabinet, and investors were paying particular attention to his nomination for treasury secretary Janet Yellen, who is crisis tested. She was the chair of the Federal Reserve during the 2000 -- actually, after 2008 when the economy was recovering from that economic crisis, that economic and financial crisis and investors see that as a positive sign.
Additionally, the peaceful transition of power which they were very concerned about heading into the 2020 election. Christi, Victor?
PAUL: Cristina Alesci, really appreciate the walkthrough there. Thank you so much.
Every Saturday, we're highlighting cities across the U.S. with resources to aid those of you who need it. So, grab your phone or a pen and a piece of paper right now, so you can write this information down either for yourself or for someone you may know.
Let's go to Montana first. If you're concerned about the ability to make your mortgage rent or your monthly rent or your mortgage, I should say, payment, the state's asking residents to contact Montana Housing.
Although their emergency housing program has ended, they are providing additional resources to you to help tenants and homeowners there.
In Nebraska, the Lincoln Food Bank has made it easy to find the food distribution pickups, statewide with an online calendar now. So, the web site's on the screen there.
The next food giveaway is in just two days. Monday, November 30th, it's at the Lancaster Event Center in Lincoln from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m.
And in Nevada, state officials are working hard to ensure that anyone who needs a COVID test can get one. To find the nearest testing center near you, you can go to Nevada's health web site or you can call Nevada 211, just so you know.
We recommend calling each location, of course, before you go to confirm service hours and requirements. But we want to make sure that if you are in need, there are places you can go and that you are aware of those places because we want you all to be safe and healthy.
BLACKWELL: Rough weather coming for some folks. From strong to severe storms from Texas to the Carolinas are possible this weekend. CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar is up with us next to talk about how much rain folks could see.
BLACKWELL: A storm creeping from Texas to the Carolinas could cause some flooding problems.
PAUL: Yes. CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar has the latest. What are you seeing Allison?
ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Hey, good morning, guys. A lot of heavy rain is out there and it's actually been there for at least 24 hours. The main focus for today is going to be right here along the gulf coast region. That's where we have the biggest potential for some flooding.
Take a look at, for example, where that rain is going. It's going to start initially in Texas and spread off to the east. As you mentioned, all the way over towards the Carolinas in the next 48 hours.
Houston, for example, has already picked up two inches of rain in just the last 24 hours. Now, we could be adding another two to four inches at least on top of what they've already had.
So, obviously, some localized flooding is likely to happen. But it's not just in Houston, again, this whole area here from Corpus Christi to New Orleans has that potential for some very heavy rainfall, at least through the weekend.
Now, that one system that we have in the southeast is actually going to combine with another system that's coming down from Canada, and they're going to meet up right around the mid-Atlantic and the northeast region. And when they do, they have the potential to dump a pretty tremendous, not only of rain but also snow.
So, let's take a look at the systems. Because as we go through the weekend, the main focus is really going to be on that southern system. But by the time we get to Monday, this is when you really start to see this system ramp-up.
The heaviest rain from when the two of them combined will be right there along the eastern seaboard. Especially the northeastern seaboard, specifically where we could end up getting several inches. But the snow will be focused on the backside of this particular system.
Especially, say areas from Detroit down through Cincinnati, that's likely where we're going to get some of our heaviest snow. In those places, you could end up picking up at least six inches of snow if not potentially higher.
Most of the rainfall, as we mentioned, the northeastern seaboard region, that's likely to be about two to four inches of rain total.
Temperatures are also going to start to cool down. And we're not just talking in the northern tier of the U.S. where we normally see those temperatures cool down. Even into the south, you're going to see that cold air really start to spread down. Which means even southern cities, take for example Atlanta, likely going to see their temperatures dip almost 70.
For the high temperature for today, dipping down to a high, Victor and Christi, of only 45 on Tuesday. If you do still have some plants still out in Atlanta, may want to bring them in this week.
BLACKWELL: Oh, the mums have long headed on up the road.
BLACKWELL: Long been dead. Allison --
PAUL: Is that because of the weather, Victor?
BLACKWELL: No, I water my mums. Don't start that rumor.
Allison Chinchar --
PAUL: Allison, thank you.
BLACKWELL: Thank you.
PAUL: I think that's the line of the day. I water my mums.
All right, listen, there is a woman in Missouri who's using chalk and her imagination to try to make us more hopeful right now in this pandemic.
BLACKWELL: We, of course, need that.
BLACKWELL: First, "THIS IS LIFE WITH LISA LING" is back tomorrow night. You'll watch prep school, students visit a prison, and inform some unlikely bonds.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LISA LING, CNN HOST (voice over): How are you guys, feeling?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A little nervous now. We're inside.
LING: Guiding Hudson and the other students through security gates is the boy's English and theology teacher, Jim Micheletti.
LING (on camera): Do you talk much about what the boys are about to embark on before they go in?
JIM MICHELETTI, TEACHER OF THEOLOGY: Well, it's tricky because we don't want to give away too much. We want to be a surprise, we want to be a healthy shock. Geography matters, getting kids out in the community matters. I'm always telling students, don't let school get in the way of your education. A lot of good stuff to see out there.
(END VIDEO CLIP) [07:54:52]
BLACKWELL: Back-to-back episodes of "THIS IS LIFE WITH LISA LING", premieres tonight at 9:00 on CNN.
PAUL: Here's --
BLACKWELL: So, before the break --
BLACKWELL: I want to correct something I said.
PAUL: Oh, that's right, sorry.
BLACKWELL: Yes. That "THIS IS LIKE WITH LISA LING" is actually on tomorrow night at 9:00. I said tonight. We'd love you to be here tonight at 9:00, but the show is actually on tomorrow night at 9:00 right here on CNN. Wanted to clear that up. Sorry, Christi, go ahead.
PAUL: OK. No, no, no, that's good.
Let's talk about this woman in Missouri. She's found a way to spread some positive messaging while she's maintaining social distance. She's leaving messages of hope in parks across Saint Louis. And she's been doing this since April.