Return to Transcripts main page

New Day Saturday

COVID-19 Is Leading Cause Of Death This Week In The U.S. With One Person Dying Every 30 Seconds; Task Force Official: COVID-19 Vaccines Available To At Least 20 Million Americans By Year's End; Trump Heads To Georgia To Rally In Crucial Runoff Senate Races, While Obama Holds Virtual Rally; Scotland And Wales To Begin COVID Vaccinations On Tuesday; Judge Orders Trump Administration To Accept New DACA Applications. Aired 6-7a ET

Aired December 05, 2020 - 06:00   ET



JESSICA DEAN, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: I'm Jessica Dean covering the Biden transition in Wilmington, Delaware. This is CNN.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We end the week with sobering news about the pandemic even with vaccines on the horizon. New records being set for cases, people hospitalized and people dying.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: The leading cause of death for all Americans this week is COVID-19.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have the expectation that at least 20 million Americans will be able to receive COVID vaccines by the end of this year.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump's Saturday visit has Republicans on edge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm deeply concerned about anybody who wants to tell Georgia citizens not to go out and exercise their right to vote.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is not just about Georgia. This is about America and this is about the world.


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Look at that. It is a beautiful early, early morning, really overnight in L.A. right now, isn't it? Beautiful city lights there. Maybe you'll see some Christmas lights here or there. Regardless, we just want to wish you a happy Saturday wherever you happen to be waking up. We're glad to have you with us as always. It is Saturday, December 5th. I'm Christi Paul and look who's in with us today.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, Christi. It's good to be with you. Good to see all of you, I'm Martin Savidge in today for Victor Blackwell. We will start today with COVID-19 being the number one cause of death in the United States this week.

The coronavirus has now caused more deaths than heart disease, lung cancer or stroke. CNN's Alison Kosik is outside Mount Sinai Hospital in New York and, Alison, the stats, they are just so alarming and we know that a vaccine is on the way, but the concern is how to get these numbers under control until then.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. Good morning, Martin. We are seeing hospitalizations skyrocket across the country, hitting a new record on Friday. It's raising concerns about overwhelming hospital systems, including here in New York.


KOSIK (Voice over): As a brutal second wave strikes, coronavirus becomes the leading cause of death in America. Fourteen-thousand deaths have been reported since Thanksgiving. In a CNN town hall Friday, Dr. Anthony Fauci said we are headed for a post-holiday surge.

FAUCI: The event usually is followed by two to three weeks later, you see the increase in cases which puts it right at the cusp before the Christmas holiday where you're going to have more travel and more congregating.

KOSIK (Voice over): Numbers broke records around the country this week. Johns Hopkins reported almost 228,000 cases and more than 2,600 deaths Friday alone and experts warn the worst is coming.

DR. LEANA WEN, FORMER BALTIMORE CITY HEALTH COMMISSIONER: What lies ahead for the next few months is actually our worst case scenario in terms of overwhelmed hospitals, in terms of the death count.

KOSIK (Voice over): The University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation projects over 260,000 more people could die by spring. The CDC tweeted Friday hospitalization rates are at an all-time high, reiterating to the public wear a mask, wash your hands, avoid crowds. New CDC guidelines also urge postponing travel and in some circumstances wearing a mask at home.

In California, COVID cases shatter hospitalization and ICU records, hitting a single-day high of more than 22,000 cases, almost 10,000 hospitalized and over 2,200 in ICU. Governor Gavin Newsom imposes emergency measures with a regional shutdown order of five Bay Area counties, covering more than 5.8 million people. The order will require bars, theaters and salons to close, while retail must operate at 20 percent capacity. Masks will be mandatory.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM, (D) CALIFORNIA: The bottom line is if we don't act now, our hospital system will be overwhelmed. If we don't act now, we'll continue to see a death rate climb, more lives lost.

KOSIK (Voice over): Orders go into effect this weekend. Statewide orders are expected soon. New hope is on the horizon with pharmaceutical companies working to obtain FDA approval and states making vaccine distribution plans, but the public is urged to take immediate action.

FAUCI: If we, as a country, uniformly do the things that we know can mitigate against spread, the simple things, the universal wearing of masks, the keeping of distance, to avoiding crowds in congregate settings, particularly indoors, wearing your masks at all time and washing your hands as frequently as you possibly can, those simple things alone, despite the enormity of the problem, can make a difference.

[06:05:03] KOSIK (Voice over): President-elect Biden said this week he will push major mitigation efforts when taking office.

BIDEN: I'm going to ask the public for 100 days to mask. Just 100 days to mask. Not forever. One-hundred days. And I think we'll see a significant reduction.


KOSIK: And New York will now begin using hospitalizations as the main metric in deciding what areas of the state remain open or closed. New York governor Andrew Cuomo is now blaming the new rise in COVID cases in the state not on mass gatherings, but on what he calls living room spread, events in the home that involve family and friends. That is what he believes is causing this latest surge. Martin, back to you.

SAVIDGE: Alison Kosik with a sobering summary of where we stand when it comes to coronavirus this morning. Thank you.

PAUL: Thank you, Alison. Let's talk to ER physician, a physician specifically in Michigan who says there is simply not enough space for patients who need treatment right now.


DR. ROB DAVIDSON, EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN: People who come in and need to be admitted for COVID, but people come in who need to be admitted for other things, who have surgeries they need, having chest pain, having strokes. Finding a bed for these folks is becoming one of the biggest challenges I've ever seen in my career of 20 years. We have a bed here or there at our hospital. We may have one bed, we may have a couple. Just left my shift and we're now full.


PAUL: Dr. Rob Davidson there. He's also the executive director of the advocacy group The Committee to Protect Medicare and he's with us now. Dr. Davidson, always good to have you back with us. Thank you so much.

I know that you've said there just isn't enough staff to handle the surge in COVID cases that you're seeing as well. I'm wondering do you think that you're starting to see this post-surge -- post-Thanksgiving surge that we were talking about? Are you seeing the beginning of that? Give us a timeline of what you expect is going to happen here.

DAVIDSON: Yes. We've been in this situation like a lot of places, particularly in west Michigan. We're leading the way, unfortunately, here in our state where, for the past two or three weeks, we've all been either full or near full nearly every day and scrambling for beds in the region, looking, you know, to our EMS crews to be driving around 24/7 transferring patients.

And that's what's so terrifying is if Dr. Fauci tells us two to three weeks after a time like Thanksgiving we're going to see a big surge, which is what we're projecting as well, yes, two, three weeks from now or one or two weeks from now at this point, it's terrifying to think where these people are going to go.

So we know we're going to end up boarding people in the emergency department for, you know, many hours and sometimes overnight and days because, you know, we have to take care of people. I want the folks to understand we will find space. It'll be in unconventional spaces and you may not see your nurse for hours because they have so many patients to take care of but, you know, we're not going to leave people in the lurch.

PAUL: Help us understand what life is like in the ER right now.

DAVIDSON: Yes. In a small world ER, you know, it's always these staff for the (ph) average, so you're always -- well, you're sometimes really clamoring for space and staff. The challenge right now is we have so many folks coming in with COVID-19 is that, you know, everybody, nearly everybody ends up in isolation and so you're putting on gowns and masks and everything, you know, in and out of rooms and then it's really the challenge of getting those people admitted.

It's our unit clerks, it's our other staff just calling around to regional hospitals figuring out who has beds, who doesn't, coordinating with our three rural EMS crews that are working 24-hour shifts on when they can or can't take patients because they still need to be around for people having chest pain, people getting in car accidents and so it's unfortunate that this kind of event, this mass casualty event at such a sustained period of time just stresses all of these symptoms and puts the public at risk in many ways.

PAUL: I think one of the things that was really striking yesterday for the CDC was when they said half of the people transmitting the virus are asymptomatic, which of course amplifies the need to wear masks and I'm wondering, the CDC is recommending that people wear masks even in their own homes.

Do you think, one, that is realistic that they would expect to do so and, two, what people in particular who may have certain illnesses already, I mean? If you're going to be at home, why would you need to wear a mask? What reasoning would it be? What case would be necessary to do that in your own home?

DAVIDSON: Well, certainly I think if someone in your home has been exposed -- had a high-risk exposure, exposed for more than 15 minutes to someone with COVID-19, that person should be in quarantine, but we had two of our kids in schools. Now they're remote, but when they were in person, who had to come home and quarantine and they had their mask on even in their room. We said, please, you know, do your best as much as possible. I know if -- my wife and I are both physicians. We're high-risk individuals with what we do.

[06:10:00] If anyone in our home was on chemotherapy or was at advanced age or had particular high-risk factors, we would, you know, exercise the same type of caution. So I think it has to be in case by case because certainly it's not going to be universal, but I think those are the kinds of cases where people should really consider this.

PAUL: I want to ask you about the vaccine because we've had reports from several people, we've talked to them, in the medical field who say they have colleagues in the medical field who have trepidations about getting the vaccine. Will you?

DAVIDSON: I will 100 percent. If it's allowed, I will have them record me doing it and I will try to document how I'm feeling, particularly the day or two after because that's when we're told we should expect that our immune systems will be revving up to fight COVID-19 and we're going to feel the effects. So yes.

Every colleague of mine is anxious to get it, anxious in a way that we're just ready. You know, we're ready to do this so we can continue to provide the care people need and hopefully lead by example in our communities so more people can get the vaccine.

PAUL: So you obviously have faith in the vaccine. What about the testing right now? I understand that you say that's become an issue again.

DAVIDSON: Yes. I mean, testing has been an issue, but it waxes and wanes. I mean, right now in our -- in our system, in our whole region, asymptomatic people who have been in contact cannot get tests.

Their employers ask them to come in and get tests so they can go back to work and we just don't have the availability. So people are asked to go home and quarantine for 14 days. Well, that's hard for people to do when they're trying to put food on the table and so just a simple thing like that.

The other piece is the rapid turnaround tests are few and far between and people who have COVID symptoms, but aren't sick enough to be hospitalized are getting tests that aren't coming back for three to five days and again, those folks are having to go home, avoid work, avoid school if they happen to be in school and these are just challenges that so many people just can't endure.

PAUL: Dr. Rob Davidson, we appreciate all the work you and your teams are doing there. Thank you so much.


SAVIDGE: Yes, we do definitely appreciate it. President Trump is heading to Georgia today to campaign for two Republican senators.

PAUL: Kelly Loeffler, David Perdue facing off against Democratic opponents Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff on January 5th. Now, here's what's at stake -- the balance of power in the Senate. SAVIDGE: But the president's trip is worrying some Republicans. They fear that he might do more harm than good after sowing doubt with baseless claims about the election being rigged. Sarah Westwood's at the White House this morning for us and, Sarah, the president's rally is going to be his first since he lost the election. He's railed against the voting system and the governor in Georgia and called him hapless in recent weeks. So what do you -- what should we expect to hear from him today?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes. Good morning, Martin and Christi. And today will be a big moment for President Trump. It's really one of the first times that we've seen him in the month since Election Day. It'll certainly be one of his most high-profile appearances since his defeat in the election and he's been spending a lot of that time attacking the Georgia officials who are also working to reelect these Republican senators that the president is going to rally for today.

That's caused some concerns among Republican officials that Trump could actually end up depressing turnout. He's been spending all this time claiming that the election in Georgia was fraudulent somehow. There's no evidence for that, but there's a fear that Trump voters who might otherwise go out and cast their ballots for Senators Perdue and Loeffler on January 5th might just stay home because they buy into the president's rhetoric that their ballot won't be handled securely.

So that is a concern among Republican officials as the president heads to Georgia, heads to that rally setting where he tends to go off script and surely the election is going to be a topic that we hear come up.

And all of this is happening as those around the president are starting to acknowledge this reality that Trump is not getting a second term. Yesterday, Vice President Mike Pence was in Georgia campaigning for these same senators and he said that Perdue and Loeffler could be the last line of defense next year, a potential acknowledgement there from Pence that that could be occurring in a Biden administration. Take a listen.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And we need to send them back because a Republican Senate majority could be the last line of defense, preserving all that we've done to defend this nation, revive our economy and preserve the God-given liberties we hold dear.


WESTWOOD: And although much of Trump's cabinet has remained silent about the fact that the president is continuing his refusal to concede the election, we also heard yesterday from CDC head Dr. Robert Redfield make an acknowledgment also in Georgia that he and other cabinet members may not be here next year.


DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, CDC DIRECTOR: They will continue to guide our nation's response to the pandemic after we're gone.


WESTWOOD: Now, CNN reported last night that many White House staffers are also heading for the exits as they see that their jobs are not going to be here in January, but Trump appears to be the only one maintaining that there's still a possibility that he could win this election at this point, Martin and Christi.


PAUL: So Sarah, let me ask you this because we're learning the Trump administration is preventing President-Elect Joe Biden's transition team from meeting with top Pentagon agencies this week. What have you learned about that?

WESTWOOD: That's right, Christi. CNN reported that Biden transition officials were prevented from meeting with their counterparts at defense intelligence agencies. The Pentagon intelligence agencies, that includes the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, some really crucial meetings there that were prevented from taking place.

Now, there were senior level meetings where policy and military issues were discussed, but they did not get into intel and a Trump loyalist has been installed as the head of the Pentagon transition effort for the Trump administration and he's put some restrictions on that transition effort, including requiring the Biden transition people to submit their questions in advance when it comes to Pentagon intel agencies and to submit a list of the people they want to attend those meetings.

And then he and the general counsel get to review and make decisions on that transition process. So it's just one more way that the Trump administration is working to stymie the Biden transition, even though many areas of the transition are finally running smoothly after weeks of delay, Martin and Christi.

PAUL: Good point. All right. Sarah Westwood, always good to see you. Thank you, ma'am. So former President Barack Obama has been campaigning for Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock in Georgia. President- Elect Joe Biden also says he plans to visit the state. CNN political reporter Rebecca Buck is following that story. Talk to us, Rebecca, and good morning to you, about what we heard from the former president, former President Obama, yesterday when it comes to Georgia.

REBECCA BUCK, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Good morning, Christi. Well, as you can imagine, President Obama very much invested in this fight happening right now in Georgia because it really is the first major political fight of Joe Biden's presidency. Even though Biden is six weeks away from taking the oath of office, this, of course, is not only going to decide the balance of power in the Senate, but also the faith of Joe Biden's legislative agenda.

And so the challenge for Democrats is to turn out their voters once again, the same voters who propelled Biden to a narrow victory and a surprising victory in the state of Georgia just a month ago in November. They're hoping that they can get those same voters to take -- to pay attention to this unusual runoff race as well and essentially endorse a Biden agenda.

And so at the same time that we've seen Republicans campaigning in Georgia, you mentioned Mike Pence and President Trump just a few minutes ago, we're also seeing Democrats doing the same and President Obama has been a part of that effort. He held a virtual rally for Warnock and Ossoff just recently and I want you to take a listen to what he had to say about the stakes in this race.


OBAMA: The special election in Georgia is going to determine, ultimately, the course of the Biden presidency. You are now, once again, the center of our civic universe because the special election in Georgia is going to determine, ultimately, the course of the Biden presidency and whether Joe Biden and Kamala Harris can deliver legislatively all the commitments they've made.


BUCK: So you heard Obama there laying out the stakes here in this election. He said Georgia is no less than the center of the civic universe right now and that the Biden presidency hinges on this race. The question, of course, is whether Georgia voters and particularly those suburban voters who came out in November to vote essentially against Donald Trump will care about endorsing the Biden agenda and supporting the Biden agenda.

And so that's a major question here for Democrats, a major challenge for them to essentially make lightning strike twice in a state like Georgia that has been historically red. Joe Biden himself saying this week that he plans to get down to Georgia and campaign on behalf of these two candidates as well. We don't know yet exactly when that will be, but we'll be watching for that sometime in the next month, Christi and Martin.

SAVIDGE: Rebecca Buck, thank you very much. Everybody knows, Christi, that turnout's going to be key.

PAUL: Absolutely. Listen, still ahead, the U.S. hasn't authorized that COVID vaccine yet of course. Martin, we've been talking about it so much. There is a country that has, though. We're going to take you there, to where people are soon going to get that shot in the arm.

SAVIDGE: Plus, an open Parler on social media, why this app is attracting Trump supporters online.




PAUL: Twenty-three minutes past the hour right now. So glad you're with us. You know, America's leading name in infectious disease prevention says it is vital to keep sticking to public health measures despite this optimism so many people have regarding a COVID-19 vaccine.

SAVIDGE: Absolutely. Dr. Anthony Fauci says even though a vaccine may prevent sickness, that is not the same as preventing infection, altogether a crucial difference to bear in mind.


FAUCI: And even if you are vaccinated, you may be protected against getting sick, but you may not necessarily be protected against getting infections. So you may have some virus in your nasal pharynx. It wouldn't bother you and maybe it wouldn't even infect anybody else, but it could be there. That's the reason why you can't abandon all public health measures. You can gradually attenuate them.

The more and more people that get vaccinated, the less and less the threat in society is until you get to the point where, if you have the overwhelming majority of people vaccinated and you have a good umbrella of herd immunity, then I think you could get back to as close to normal as you would really want.


PAUL: All right. Let's talk about what's happening in the U.K. because that is the country that's pushed ahead with its COVID-19 vaccine program right now.


SAVIDGE: Vaccination's set to begin Tuesday in Wales and in Scotland. No word yet on England and Northern Ireland.

PAUL: Yes. CNN's Cyril Vanier is in London.

Cyril, so good to see you this morning. What do you know about how they're going to roll out these vaccinations?

CYRIL VANIER, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR & CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christi, the process is currently underway even as we speak, even though it's currently hidden from the view of the cameras and, look, this is a major, major undertaking. It is the biggest campaign of mass vaccination that this country has ever carried out according to the prime minister.

The first doses are here. They're in country. They came, they were delivered from Belgium to the U.K. and they came in unmarked trucks. They were stored in undisclosed locations, all of this for security. Then they were checked, right? They were checked because we're talking about the Pfizer vaccine here and as is now familiar to our viewers, it comes with a specific set of logistical challenges. It needs to be kept at minus 70 degrees Celsius.

So when they arrive in the U.K., those doses are checked to make sure the quality and the integrity of the vaccine hasn't been compromised. Then, this is what's happening now, they're going to be fanned out to some 50 vaccination centers, hospitals essentially, across the country that will serve as vaccination hubs.

Staff, meanwhile, are being prepared because, again, logistical challenges that come with those super cold, deep freeze temperatures. It takes several hours to thaw the doses and then a little while longer to prepare the doses for actual administration.

So that's all happening now and as you said, in Scotland and Wales, they believe that if everything goes well, if all goes according to plan -- and by the way, that's not guaranteed -- they will be able to start administering doses on Tuesday with England and Northern Ireland probably in the same time span. Currently we're talking about some 800,000 doses this week. That's enough for 400,000 people to be vaccinated.

SAVIDGE: Cyril Vanier in London. Nice to see you. Thanks very much for joining us this morning.

PAUL: So I know you may have learned about the coronavirus vaccine maybe on Twitter. Well, there's a whole world -- a whole other world, we should point out, that's out there when it comes to communication apps. One in particular is proving highly attractive to people who support President Trump right now.



PAUL: Well, a federal judge ruled just yesterday that the Trump administration has to reinstate the DACA Dreamers program. It's that Obama-era program meant to shield undocumented immigrants who come to the U.S. as children, to shield them from deportation.

SAVIDGE: President Trump has been trying to end DACA since 2017. But in June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against his administration. And this latest order builds on the judge's previously ruling last month that Chad Wolf was not legally serving as acting Homeland Security Secretary -- excuse me, when he issued a memo limiting DACA applications and renewals.

PAUL: Yes, there is this new app that's promising to be an unbiased and violence-free platform for especially social media.

SAVIDGE: That is proving to be popular with a large group of people in this country, Trump supporters. CNN's Donie O'Sullivan has more.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's been about Twitter a few times --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because I got sick of Twitter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He got censored too much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Censored! UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was in jail every other day it sounds. Twitter jail.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We just want to exist. We just want to be able to be a part of the conversation. We want to be able to speak on the platform without being labeled, without being besmirched. I mean, it is -- it is toxic out there.

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN POLITICS & TECHNOLOGY REPORTER (voice-over): Convinced that tech companies are biased against conservative views, some Trump supporters have turned to Parler. It touts itself as a free speech, social network, one with far fewer rules than Facebook or Twitter.

JOHN MATZE, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER & FOUNDER, PARLER: Every time Twitter or Facebook takes authoritarian steps to curate content and act as a publication, it drives more people to our platform which is a town square.

O'SULLIVAN (on camera): So, how is Parler different?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can have free speech. You can say whatever you want. You can voice your opinions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As long as you're not getting people riled up to go out and actually make threats on people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And incite violence, which we don't. Never have, never will. Then we just go in and have our free speech on there.

O'SULLIVAN: What is something you can say on Parler that you wouldn't be able to say on Facebook?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That the coronavirus is not as deadly as everybody says it is.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you could literally post that on Twitter and get in Twitter jail for that.

O'SULLIVAN: But you can post it on Parler?




O'SULLIVAN: And the CDC says we should be wearing masks. You don't accept that?



O'SULLIVAN: You said you were in Facebook jail.


O'SULLIVAN: Could you explain to our audience what Facebook jail is? And how did you end up in there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's see, I posted something about the Proud Boys. It was taken down as racist. I wasn't allowed to post for about -- I don't know, I think it was 48 hours. You know, it's every time you write something that they disagree with.

O'SULLIVAN: Why have you been suspended from Twitter?


O'SULLIVAN: I mean, have you said racist stuff? I mean, there's ways to get suspended from Twitter being racist, sharing hate. Do you share stuff like that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, absolutely not. Absolutely not. No, it's just -- it's just stating a disputed opinion.

O'SULLIVAN: Give me an example of a disputed opinion in the case of you getting suspended.


O'SULLIVAN: Ben, what is Parler?

BEN DECKER, ONLINE RADICALIZATION EXPERT: Parler is the latest alternative social media platform.


O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Ben Decker; an online radicalization expert compares Parler to a dive bar.

DECKER: Before the pandemic, we used to get out to baseball stadiums and watch games as a community. If you started cursing or infringing upon the experience of another fan, you were removed from the game. And where did you go to watch the rest of it? At the dive bar next door where the behavioral standards are lax and it's OK to share opinions that aren't OK to be shared around others.

O'SULLIVAN (on camera): So, if somebody is pushing very hateful, maybe dangerous rhetoric, do you worry that, that could lead to offline violence and having a platform that allows for people to post and promote certain Facebook viewpoints, that, that could be dangerous?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, obviously, anything can be dangerous. I live with my mind free enough to know that any situation can spiral out of control, but the whole idea of people sharing their ideas with each other and -- I don't see how that leads to real world violence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Spokesperson for the El Paso mayor's office --

O'SULLIVAN: But violent speech online can lead to real growth violence. 8chan, a platform that preached free speech but let hate run amok was linked to mass killings in El Paso, Texas and Christ Church, New Zealand.

DECKER: In other echo chambers like Parler, there are no dissenting opinions, so constantly believes, ideas, new narratives are just further reinforced by others, and this is -- these are the kinds of places that facilitate an unintentional radicalization process.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Facebook and Twitter denied their bias against conservative ideas and instead are cracking down on misinformation and hate. But Parler has seen a spike in downloads since election day and most of its users appear to be on the right.

(on camera): Have you started using it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, but I messed around a little bit, but it's never any fun when it's just us. You know, it just turns into an echo chamber, and it's never any fun because we can't mess with guys like you, you know what I mean? It's no fun when it's just us, you know, saying what we know to be true to each other.

O'SULLIVAN: Fans on the libs when there's no libs on the platform.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't want to own libs, I want to have a discussion. I want to talk to people. You know what I mean? I want to -- I want to -- I want to engage. I want to -- I want to have, you know, a discussion, but it's totally -- it can't happen the way things are going.

O'SULLIVAN: And can you not have that discussion on Twitter or Facebook right now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not if you want to keep your account.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Donie O'Sullivan, CNN, Atlanta.


PAUL: You know, few people in the sports world have been touched so tragically by COVID-19 than Karl-Anthony Towns. The NBA superstar is talking about it now after losing a staggering number of family members to the pandemic. We'll have that for you. Stay close.



PAUL: You know, we're less than three weeks from the tipoff for the new NBA season. One of the league's biggest stars though is going to be playing through a really heartbreaking personal tragedy.

SAVIDGE: It really is. You know, you wonder how much heartbreak a family can endure. Coy Wire is with us this morning with the "BLEACHER REPORT". And Coy, it only proves that no matter how famous you are, no one is immune.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS REPORTER: Yes, that's right, Martin, good morning to you, and Christi as well. Timberwolves will start Karl-Anthony Towns, that's who we're talking about. Two-time all-star, he's heading into his sixth NBA season with a heavy heart.

Back in April, he revealed that his mother Jacqueline Cruz Towns died due to complications from coronavirus. But Towns says that six other family members have passed away because of COVID-19 as well, including his uncle this past Thursday.


KARL-ANTHONY TOWNS, BASKETBALL PLAYER, MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES: I've seen a lot of coffins in the last seven months, but -- eight months, but you know, I have a lot of people who have in my family, in my mom's family who have gotten COVID, and I'm the one looking for answers still, trying to find out how to keep them healthy. So, you know, it's just a lot of responsibility. You know, a lot of responsibility on me to keep my family well informed and to make all the moves necessary to keep them alive.


WIRE: Nearly a month before his mom died, Towns announced he was donating $100,000 to the Mayo Clinic to help by increasing COVID-19 testing. He says he's humbled by all of this, and that he doesn't want others to feel the way he does. All right, now, to former Arizona state basketball star Tarence Wheeler who has made it his life's work to create positive change in his hometown of Detroit. He tells us some of the ways he's making a difference.


TARENCE WHEELER, FORMER ALL-STATE BASKETBALL STAR: Growing up in the city of Detroit and playing basketball, basketball is a very competitive sport. It's something that has allowed me to travel this entire world, to meet great people. What basketball taught me was responsibility, accountability, how to work well with others, how to be a good teammate.

Look, we got a scholarship to Arizona State University, played overseas for a number of years. And that's really where my humanitarian endeavors kicked off when I was in Brazil and Venezuela and Colombia, when the coronavirus first started, we drove around to a high school seniors and provided meals for them as a way to show that we still care.


Although, you're not in school, we still love you, we still care about you. And then from there, where there was ideas thought of, well, how else can we help the entire family? So, we started the mobile food pantry every Wednesday, and people were coming from near and far, and we're feeding over -- we provide over 510,000 meals for our community. We started the mobile food pantry at 9:00 a.m. People were lining up as early as 5:30 a.m., so they can make sure they're in line.

What I see is high levels of anxiety. I see despair. I see hopelessness. I see young, old, white, black, disabled individuals. When I was younger, me and my mother sit in a food line, so we receive food when we couldn't eat. And so, that's near and dear to my heart.

The new face of poverty is no longer the bum on the street. The new face of poverty is the working poor. It is the person that makes too much money to get assistance, but not enough to survive. Introducing the 44th president of the United States of America is arguably one of the greatest moments of my life.

WHEELER: The 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama! I know how proud my mother would have been had they lived to see this moment, to see where I came from. From growing up in a dope house to be able to now introduce the 44th president of the United States of America in my home city.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Give a big round of applause for Tarence Wheeler for the great work that he's doing each and every day.



WIRE: Round of applause indeed. To learn more about how Tarence is being a difference-maker in his community, you can go to Back to you.

PAUL: It's nice, wow --

SAVIDGE: A great story. Great story really, thank you. Snow, wind, rain. The season's first nor'easter is threatening parts of the East Coast. Next, Winter weather alerts affecting more than 10 million people.



SAVIDGE: More than 10 million people are in the path of a rapidly intensifying nor'easter that could possibly turn into a so-called bomb cyclone. CNN's Tyler Mauldin has the very latest for us this morning. Tyler?

TYLER MAULDIN, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Martin. Good morning all of you at home, this is the first weekend of meteorological Winter. And like clockwork, we have a rapidly intensifying nor'easter making its way to New England and the northeast.

A multi-faceted system bringing heavy rain, wind and snowfall to the area. That's why we have the Winter weather alert up from Connecticut all the way to Maine. Boston, this does include you. You can see at the moment, we're just dealing with some good old-fashioned rain across the mid-Atlantic and New England.

But it's beginning to transition to snow across the interior portions of the area. We expect that transition to continue over the next several hours, and by the time we get to this afternoon and this evening, we are looking at heavy snow for many across interior New England and the northeast.

Boston, you'll actually see your rainfall transition to snowfall later today. The big story will be up here across Maine though, where through tomorrow morning, you could pick up upwards -- get this, of 18 to 24 inches of snowfall over the next 24 to 36 hours.

So, that's where the big event will be located. You push down a little farther to the south, Boston, you could be dealing with about 6 inches of snowfall, New York City, just rainfall, all right? Now, you take a wet, heavy snowfall, you combine a 60 mile per hour wind, and we are definitely looking at power outages.

So, be ready for that. Polar opposite conditions on the West Coast in southern California where we do have a heightened risk for fires, Martin. Now, these conditions aren't ideal, but they are better than what we were dealing with.

And that means that we should be able to get better containment on the bonfire. We do expect conditions to go right back downhill though on Monday and Tuesday.

PAUL: Tyler Mauldin, we appreciate the update. Thank you so very much.

MAULDIN: Absolutely.

PAUL: Speaking in California there, there are new restrictions taking effect in that state just as California shatters records for cases and hospitalizations. We'll tell you what's happening now. Stay close.



PAUL: All right, give you a little inspiration here to introduce you to the eight organizations "CNN HEROES" is highlighting this year. Anderson Cooper tells us how each one is working to make the world a better place.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN (voice-over): The Center for Disaster Philanthropy provides strategies to help donors increase the impact of their contributions during global crisis like COVID-19. Chef Jose Andres in his role Central Kitchen feed the needy in times of crisis, using the power of food to heal and strengthen communities.

JOSE ANDRES, CHEF: We need to be part of the solution.

COOPER: Adopt a Classroom advances equity in education by giving teachers and schools access to the resources they need.

GLENN CLOSE, ACTRESS: I challenge every American family to no longer whisper about mental illness behind closed doors.

COOPER: Co-founded by Glenn Close, Bring Change to Mind is working to end the stigmas surrounding mental illness and encouraging dialogue and raising awareness, understanding and empathy.

The Make a Wish Foundation provides live-changing experiences for children battling critical illness. Restoring in them.


COOPER: A sense of childhood and giving normalcy to their families. The Equal Justice initiative fights to end mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States like challenging racial and economic inequity, protecting basic human rights in the prison system. has helped changed the lives of millions of people, with access to safe water and sanitation in 17 countries around the world. And finally, Issue Voter is increasing civic engagement beyond the voting booth, helping people share their views on new bills with their elected officials with just one click.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We can create the world that we want to live in through representative democracy by making all of our voices heard on the issues.

COOPER: Want to learn more, go to and click donate beneath any of this year's organizations to make a direct contribution to their GoFund me charity campaign. You'll receive an e-mail confirming your donation, which is tax deductible in the United States.


PAUL: Be sure to watch "CNN HEROES" all-star tribute, it's Sunday, December 13th.