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New Day Saturday

Sources: White House Ordered FDA Chief To Authorize Pfizer Vaccine Or Resign; FDA Issues Emergency Use Authorization For Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine; Supreme Court Rejects Trump's Bid To Overturn Election; As Vaccine Approval Moves Ahead, Congress Stalls On Stimulus Package; Army-Navy Game. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired December 12, 2020 - 08:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: An absolutely critical development in the fight against the coronavirus. FDA advises recommending emerging authorization of Pfizer's vaccine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to see vaccine actually being administered this week almost for certain. About 3 million doses are going to be distributed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have a vaccine that is very safe. That is very effective.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a triumph for humans, and it's a triumph for science.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Supreme Court has spoken and it is game over for what was a long shot lawsuit, shutting down Republican efforts to stop Joe Biden from becoming president.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was still surprised at the extent to which even after a very clear defeat of the president in the election, that so many Republicans would be willing to do so much to undermine democracy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rudy Giuliani, he has lost every case so far. He will continue to lose every case. It should be over. Let's hope it is.


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, and welcome to you. Welcome to NEW DAY. I'm Victor Blackwell.

AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. I'm Amara Walker in for Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: So the FDA is expected to hold a news conference next hour on their decision to grant the first Emergency Use Authorization for a COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S. WALKER: This afternoon the CDC Advisory Committee will vote on recommending Pfizer and BioNTech's vaccine. It is a key step towards the final sign off for vaccinations to begin as soon as Monday. In the meantime, shipments of the vaccine can start rolling out.

BLACKWELL: So that's the good news. Here's the bad news. On Friday, in the U.S., more than 231,000 new coronavirus cases, more than 3,300 new deaths and more than 108,000 hospitalizations, all records.

WALKER: Well, let's bring in CNN's Polo Sandoval. And Polo there is reason to be optimistic, but a lot of reason to remain concerned?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You guys just laid it all out here. There are multiple milestones that were reached yesterday. The first one, certainly offering some promise, with hospitals across the country now being told to expect that first allotment of vaccines very soon. In fact, this hospital behind me, there I've been told, at least according to the Senior Director of Pharmacy that they could be expecting those vaccines in the next 24 to 48 hours.

But the other and certainly more grim milestone are those numbers that we saw just yesterday, record number of not just infections, of hospitalizations, but also of deaths. Over 3,300 Americans losing their life yesterday making it the third deadliest day in American history.


SANDOVAL (voice-over): A COVID-19 vaccine can come soon enough, with this weekend marking the end of the deadliest week in the U.S. when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic. On Friday, the federal government ordered 100 million additional vaccine doses from Moderna, as the Head of an FDA vote on that vaccine next week. The Pfizer's version is soon to be offered to a portion of the American public. Health experts warn we won't see any meaningful widespread impacts until well into next year.

DR. MEGAN RANNEY, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: There's still a lot of time until we get it into enough people's arms for us to have that herd immunity that we need in order to protect all of us, the people who can get the vaccine and the people who can't from infection.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): Until that happens - that's emergency room Dr. Megan Ranney, we should still stick to the basics, mask wearing and social distancing among them, anything to help slow the spread of a virus, leaving much of the nation's healthcare system in crisis.

The US Department of Health and Human Services says at least 200 hospitals reported being completely full last week, and more than 90 percent of ICU beds were occupied and one-third of all U.S. hospitals.

In California, L.A. County's health director said the county will soon experience unprecedented and catastrophic suffering and death because of the COVID-19 surge. Another 35,000 people tested positive for the virus across the state yesterday. That's 4,600 more than the previous record just days ago. Some California regions are implementing stay-at-home orders, including Lake Tahoe, likely to lead to another devastating blow for area businesses.

MATT BIRD, MANAGER, SONNEY'S BBQ SHACK BAR & GRILL: There's no way that we are even doing 20 percent of what we would typically do at this time of year.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): Come Monday, dining restrictions will once again tighten in New York City. Governor Andrew Cuomo with banning indoor dining temporarily as infection and hospitalization rates continue to rise.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): We have to get through this period. Right. And the faster we get through this period, the faster all businesses can open again.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): Starting today, Pennsylvania, also prohibiting indoor dining. Also on Monday, Virginia will be implementing statewide curfews from midnight to 5:00 a.m. and Delaware issued a stay-at-home advisory with a 10:00 p.m. curfew for restaurants and bars. All of these signs of life is far from returning to normal, even with unprecedented vaccine rollouts, nearly in full effect.



SANDOVAL: But back to that promising development and hospitals now told to prepare for the arrival of those shipments. Again, the pharmacy director here at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York's Upper East Side telling me that they already have those protocols in place here that among the first to be actually vaccinized when that - when their allotment arrives will be those with immediate contact with patients.

Amara and Victor, important to remember that that's not just doctors, therapists and nurses, that also includes perhaps members of the housekeeping staff here at this facility and others who would have direct contact, because obviously, the big priority would be to protect them as soon as possible so they can carry on with that vital work of treating those patients coming in.

BLACKWELL: Certainly, Polo Sandoval for us there in New York. Thank you so much.

So, in a few minutes, we'll speak with an expert who says that we'll get out of this pandemic faster if we give the vaccines less work to do. And compare that to the numbers we saw on Friday, we'll ask Dr. A. David Paltiel for his take on how to do that. Plus, how to safely and effectively roll out the vaccine program and push back against vaccine skepticism, that's coming up.

WALKER: Really important conversation. Well, overnight, the president attempted to take credit for the record development of a coronavirus vaccine. He also railed against latest failure to overturn the results of the election. BLACKWELL: Sarah Westwood is at the White House. Sarah, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows reportedly told the FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn that he has to submit his resignation if the vaccine was not authorized by last night. The impact - and this will be something I discussed with the doctor, on confidence in the vaccine that has to be part of the conversation.

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's exactly right, Victor. And that's a big reason why the FDA was really taking it's time to check every box and reassure the public that politics did not play a role in getting this onto shelves so quickly.

That authorization from the FDA last night, though, did come after pressure from the White House with President Trump and his allies even going after Dr. Stephen Hahn, the Head of the FDA personally, leading up to this authorization.

And sources told CNN that privately the president was complaining that the U.K. rolled out the vaccine earlier this week, but that the U.S. was days behind because of the FDA completing this process by the book.

He went after the FDA yesterday in a tweet hours before the authorization, calling the FDA, "a big old slow turtle." And then he said, "Get the damn vaccines out. Now, Dr. Hahn stop playing games and start saving lives." And as you guys mentioned, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows had in a phone call on Friday morning essentially told Dr. Hahn that he might as well resign if the vaccine was not approved by the end of the day.

But that political interference from the White House raised eyebrows because the FDA already was on the verge of granting that authorization for the vaccine. That could have been done without the appearance of this overt political interference. But now, that is part of the conversation as you mentioned, Victor.

Shortly after midnight, the President was touting the authorization of the vaccine, tweeting, "FDA APPROVES PFIZER VACCINE FOR EMERGENCY USE", so lot of enthusiasm there. We can expect him to try to claim credit for the development and distribution of the vaccine, which is happening on his watch, Amara and Victor.

BLACKWELL: So, Sarah, last night, the Supreme Court rejected this bid from Texas and other Republican attorneys general to try to overturn the election. What is the president with the White House saying about it?

WESTWOOD: Yes, President Trump clearly unhappy with that order from the Supreme Court. Last night, he tweeted that the Supreme Court has let him down in his efforts. Now, this was always a longshot bid. It was an effort led by the Texas State Attorney General, but which other Republican state attorneys general had also joined.

That sought to essentially invalidate millions of votes in four key battleground states, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Georgia, that President Elect Biden carried. But the Supreme Court with no public dissent said that this case did not have any legal standing to be brought, like many of the other cases that the President's legal team has brought to seek to invalidate the election results.

It was struck down quickly. There was no merit found in this case. We're really getting to the end of the line in terms of the president's legal challenges to the election, because on Monday, the Electoral College those electors will meet to affirm Biden's victory.

Now, the first chance in person that the President will have to comment on this decision by the Supreme Court will be today. He'll leave around noon for the Army-Navy Game, so we'll see if he has any more comment on that decision then, Amara and Victor.

WALKER: Sarah Westwood at the White House. Thank you so much, Sarah.

Well, President-Elect Joe Biden made a vow to use every power available to him as president to create a national coordinated strategy to beat the coronavirus.

BLACKWELL: He also says that he'll work to restore public confidence in the vaccine, stressing that scientific integrity led us to this point.

WALKER: CNN Political Reporter Rebecca Buck is in Washington this morning with more Good morning, Rebecca. President-Elect Biden also introducing his Cabinet picks.


REBECCA BUCK, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: That's right, Amara. And among the picks announced this week were some of those officials who would be helping Biden to lead the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

He said that he intends to nominate Xavier Becerra to lead the Department of Health and Human Services. Obviously, he is going to be at the forefront of this fight. And of course, he's invited Dr. Anthony Fauci to return in his administration. Fauci will be serving as Chief Medical Officer to Biden as well as his point man on the coronavirus pandemic.

And that cooperation is already beginning now during the transition, as Biden and his team plot out their plans to fight the coronavirus in their first 100 days. There's no question, they have their work cut out for them. You've seen the numbers. You've seen the trajectory that this pandemic is taking in the country right now. And his team knows that they're going to have to act fast.

One big piece of that, of course, is going to be the vaccine, distributing it, getting as many people vaccinated as possible, as quickly as possible. That's an effort that's going to begin imminently even before Biden is sworn in as president next month. But it's something that he's obviously going to have to pick up right from day one when he is sworn in as president.

His goal, he said this week, is to deploy 100 million shots - not vaccinations, but shots in those first 100 days, will also be doing something of a mask mandate within his powers of the federal government, and also looking at reopening schools, working with Congress to get the funding to make that happen.

But of course, the vaccine is the biggest piece of this puzzle and part of his job as president will be to instill that public confidence to encourage people to get out and get vaccinated as soon as they're able.

This week, he did urge confidence, saying that he believes this is a politics free zone when it comes to the vaccine, and that people can be confident that it's going to be backed up by science. Of course, we saw the FDA approving the Pfizer vaccine yesterday. And so that process is already beginning, Amara and Victor.

BLACKWELL: Yes, he hopes the vaccine program will be a politics free zone. But he's stepping right back into politics in Georgia next week to campaign for Jon Ossoff and Reverend Raphael Warnock. What can we expect from the president-elect?

BUCK: That's right, even at the same time that Biden is dealing with this public health crisis and challenge, he also has this big political fight on his hands. And there's no question that the Biden team and Biden himself are aware of the stakes in these two races.

The Senate balance of power is at stake, the fate of Biden's legislative agenda is at stake in these two Senate races in Georgia. And so, Biden is heading down to Georgia himself this coming week to campaign on behalf of Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff in Georgia, those Democratic candidates.

But it's not just about boots on the ground. This is an all hands on deck situation. And Biden's team has been doing everything they can to try to elect these two Democrats. They've raised roughly $10 million for the campaigns. And their campaign itself has also spent about $5 million to try to get them elected. So it's a push for the next few weeks to try to get these Democrats across the finish line. Victor, Amara.

BLACKWELL: Rebecca Buck for us there in Washington, DC. Thank you very much.

All right, let's turn to the coronavirus, because health experts say that there are a number of factors that will shape the success of this vaccine. Joining us now is Dr. A. David Paltiel, a Professor at the Yale School of Public Health. Dr. Paltiel. Good morning to you. Thanks for being with us.

DR. A. DAVID PALTIEL, PROFESSOR, YALE SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Good morning, Victor and, Amara. It's good to be with you.

BLACKWELL: So let me start here. After a day that set three records, more than 231,000 new cases, more than 3,300 deaths, 108,000 plus people in hospitalizations, I want to go to the heart of the finding of a recent study from your group. That the impact of a vaccine dissipates dramatically as the severity of the epidemic increases and so far that it's going to take a lot more to slow this ship, expound that if you would.

PALTIEL: Sure. Let's put it this way. If I have a bucket of water, I can put out a campfire. But a bucket of water won't put out a forest fire. Even a high-pressure hose won't put out a forest fire. The virus is currently behaving like an out-of-control wildfire in our communities.

And even with a highly effective vaccine, we still need sustained adherence to masking and physical distancing and other mitigation practices to contain the pandemic. So don't throw away that mask. We're going to get out of this pandemic mess a whole lot faster if we give the vaccine a fighting chance.

BLACKWELL: One of the elements that we've discussed this morning and you discuss in this new study, that's focused on the elements around the vaccine itself. The principal element of this is the infrastructure that's coming in the states. And you're right, that "Infrastructure will contribute at least as much to the success of the vaccination program, as the vaccination will itself." Pre-deployment are you able to evaluate the infrastructure from Operation Warp Speed, and what we're seeing in the states to determine if they are adequate at this first phase?


PALTIEL: Yes. Victor, you took the words right out of my mouth. We need an Operation Warp Speed for infrastructure. The common really used phrase among people in the vaccine world is that vaccines don't save lives, vaccination programs save lives. We need scaled up manufacturing, we need investment in distribution and logistics. We need better communication programs to promote acceptance,

BLACKWELL: Side effects aside, what is the impact of the execution, the distribution, the delivery, the storage, on confidence for those people who are on the fence who say, I'm considering it, or I'll get it, but not first this first week of vaccinations? What's the importance?

PALTIEL: Yes, I mean, responsibility for on the ground vaccine distribution has been delegated to state and local health departments. And these organizations are chronically underfunded, chronically understaffed, even in the best of times, let alone nine months into a once in a century pandemic. And the states have been warning g for months, that they lack the billions of dollars that are required to carry out the work that's expected of them.

Federal funding for distribution has been a small fraction of the amount committed by the Trump administration to vaccine development and manufacturing. The good news is that President-Elect Biden has pledged to invest the $25 billion that we think are going to be required for good distribution. And acceptance, comprehensive culturally sensitive strategies for communication, all that's going to be as important itself as the identification and approval of an effective vaccine.

BLACKWELL: What's the impact of - we just had Sarah Westwood from the White House, the impact of that call between the White House Chief of Staff and the head of the FDA in which he said, either you approve Emergency Use Authorization tonight, or resign. What's the impact of a call like that on confidence and the potential effectiveness of vaccination program?

PALTIEL: Yes, it's baffling. Approval was imminent anyway. Applying public pressure to speed up the approval was the worst possible move the White House could have made. It raises the specter of political interference with scientific approval. And, by doing it, the White House risks eroding public confidence in the vaccine. I mean, there's just no way to understand that this was truly snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

BLACKWELL: Is something like that outweighed by a change of administration mean - can that mistake or that error be tossed away with the outgoing administration?

PALTIEL: Tossed away? No. It's going to take rebuilding. It's going to take rebuilding. Fortunately, President-Elect Biden has put in place just a stellar team of experts who believe in the science, who believe in human decency.

And that isn't to say that there aren't good people in the current administration as well. I want to single out and applaud FDA Commissioner Hahn for standing up for his agency and for his scientists and for science in the FDA's work on COVID vaccines.

BLACKWELL: Yes. All right. There's a vote today and as soon as Monday, potentially, those first few shots of the vaccine in the U.S. Dr. A. David Paltiel, thank you so much for being with us this morning.

PALTIEL: Thank you so much for having me.

BLACKWELL: All right.

WALKER: A family of lifelong Republicans left devastated by the mother's death, calls out the local politicians they say put her at risk by not following the state's COVID restrictions.

BLACKWELL: And measures intended to control the spread of the coronavirus, it made it more difficult for artists struggling to survive. We'll take a look at how the live performance industry is struggling with this pandemic.



WALKER: Lawmakers appear no closer to compromising on a relief package for the millions of Americans suffering because of the coronavirus pandemic.

BLACKWELL: Yes, there's this bipartisan group in Congress that's trying to finalize $908 billion spending package. The liability projections for companies and aid for states and local governments are still sticking points. The Senate Leader Mitch McConnell has said he is in favor of passing a more limited stimulus package without addressing those issues. But Democrats have said a scaled back package is not an option.

The coronavirus pandemic has led to a crisis at concert halls and entertainment venues across the country.

WALKER: Artists are often in the spotlight, but an army of support staff is just off stage and as Natasha Chen reports, they are in desperate need of help.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, yes, take it.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The term starving artist has always been around...


CHEN (voice-over): But this pandemic has now created an entire sub industry, starving stagehands, light crews, promoters. According to the National Independent Venue Association, 95 percent of a live performance industry is furloughed.

DARRIN SCHUR, REGIONAL DIRECTOR OF PROMOTION, ELEKTRA: Everybody just wants to come see a great rock show. But they don't realize the amount of support staff it takes to facilitate those shows.

CHEN (voice-over): This food drive for those workers was held in a garage beneath Center Stage, an historic Atlanta music venue around since the 1960s.

CHEN (on camera): When was the last time someone performed on this stage?


CHEN (voice-over): According to Josh Antenucci who runs Center Stage, this space is hosted Katy Perry, Kid Rock, Lady Gaga, the legendary Elton John spent four months inside these walls recording an entire album. But today, it's empty.

ANTENUCCI: We're often compared to the restaurant industry in the opportunity for to go drink sales and just recently to set up sidewalk dining. Those things don't work for live events. There's no such thing as to go in a concert world.


CHEN (voice-over): Even in places like Georgia which allow live performances, there are social distancing requirements. Antenucci says operating at 10 or 20 percent isn't financially viable. Center Stage let go of 65 part time workers and nearly a dozen full time employees.

Venkman's is another music venue in Atlanta let go of more than 40. PETER OLSON, SINGER IN YATCH ROCK REVUE: The thing that we've given up, that we've all given up is - are the things that mean the most to me, the times that I've been here and seeing someone propose or a large group celebrating a birthday.

CHEN (voice-over): Peter Olson is not just the owner of Venkman's. He's also a member of the band at Yacht Rock Revue. Yacht Rock Revue was in California on a national tour in March when COVID-19 began wreaking havoc. Now, nine months later, they've traded the amphitheaters for their living rooms, the energy of the crowd for a socially distant Facebook Live concert.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know what dude?

CHEN (voice-over): Olson says they'll be ready to rock again as soon as it's safe. But in the meantime, he's worried about his venue. If this is the end, at least we can say that it took a pandemic to shut us down.

CHEN (voice-over): Natasha Chen, CNN, Atlanta.


WALKER: Still ahead, a shocking look at the reality inside a hospital in Iran. Doctors there are struggling with the Coronavirus crisis made worse by U.S. sanctions.



WALKER: Iran may be the Middle Eastern country suffering the most during the coronavirus pandemic. They've not only grappled with more than a million reported COVID-19 cases, but also crippling U.S. sanctions putting incredible pressure on doctors there.

BLACKWELL: Hospitals are overwhelmed so are cemeteries. Iran has reported more than 50,000 deaths because of COVID-19; 10,000 in November alone. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh takes us inside a hospital there pretty hard hit in Tehran.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR (voice-over): A bleak winter outside, as was Tehran's summer and spring before it. Relief is scarce. Over 750 have died from coronavirus in these corridors. Another, a young woman as we arrive, just turning the corner marks the start of the ICU here. Two dead is a good day, four average and nine bad, doctors say.

Iran's heroism in the pandemic a little fiercer, as they're doing it under the maximum pressure of the Trump administration's sanctions. They are as proud of what they've done with the equipment as they're angry, but it's all they have.

WALSH (on camera): One of the hardest-hit countries in the Middle East by the coronavirus, they're suffering, they say, so much more acute because of the impact of sanctions led by the United States.

WALSH (voice-over): Khalif doesn't look it but is much better.

KHALIF FARAHANI, CORONAVIRUS PATIENT: One day I went to the - for excursion of site in one of the parks and there I think - there we got the coronavirus. I'm better than before, but very pain in my chest. Sanction - sanction, it is cruel upon America - cruelty, yes.

WALSH (voice-over): 300 medical staff have died in Iran on this job, we're told. But like all numbers there, it is at the mercy of limited testing equipment and exhaustion. But even in that numerical chaos, 10,000 officially died in November alone from COVID-19 and seem here to be getting younger, we're told.


WALSH (voice-over): The most bitter day was when I had a 47-year-old mother of three here, he says. She didn't respond to treatment. When she died, that was the most terrible, bitter day for me. I could not save her. It's stuck in my memory.

And if you have lost the fight, you often head south across the city to where there is both little and plenty of space in the Behesht-e Zahra cemetery. Economy and scale - every final hope measured precisely, even as the bodies arrive.

The Imam's prayers here caught in a loop of loss reverberating into and over each other day in, day out. Each of a dozen Imams leading about 30 funerals a day. A woman's scream, which would normally freeze everyone here, almost lost.

Nobody wanted to talk but the stories off-camera were similar - diabetes, late-50s, coronavirus. The vulnerabilities that underpin the fond memories of the departed and fuel each final tender ritual.

Care is all around. These are tombs, not holes. And even the grim process of decay handled meticulously. The outside world may never see the full picture of Iran's battle with the same enemy we've all faced or appreciate how much more crippling, a deliberate tightening of sanctions made it.


Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Tehran.


BLACKWELL: Thanks to Nick Paton Walsh for that story. One grieving family living in Trump country is fighting back against COVID denials and asking their community to help stop the spread, even if the local officials won't.

WALKER: And we have a new episode of "This is Life" tomorrow night. Lisa Ling meets families of victims and survivors of gun violence who are joining forces to support each other. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LISA LING, CNN HOST (voice-over): Compounding the family's grief, Terrell's case remains unsolved and the injustice of his death still haunts Pam.

TOM BOSLEY, LOST SON IN GUN VIOLENCE: The police spent probably the first week investigating Terrell's background to see what type of kid he was. Was he gang related? And they finally came back and said, well, you know...


T. BOSLEY: We can't find anything.

P. BOSLEY: They could have been pulling film and found out who shot Terrell, but they took a week to find out his character. So the perception that when a black man is shot is always gang related. My son wasn't in a gang. He wasn't selling drugs. He was in college. He was very active. And then the next thing you know, he's dead.


WALKER: "This is Life" with Lisa Ling airs tomorrow night at 10:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.



BLACKWELL: With COVID-19 cases and deaths and hospitalizations surging across the country, the incoming Biden administration will have to figure out how to combat this pandemic.

WALKER: Another likely hurdle, how to deal with Republican counties and officials who refuse to enforce measures to slow the spread. CNN's Lucy Kafanov takes us to Weld County in Colorado where one grieving family is fighting back.


She was scared. She said, she caught me Netty. She said, Netty, am I going to die? And I said, mom, no you're like this fighter, you defy the odds all the time and you're not going to die.

LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When her mother May Bunjes was infected with COVID-19, Jeanette Strumpf thought she would pull through like always.


KAFANOV (voice-over): May survived a dual lung transplant.

MAY BUNJES, DIED OF COVID-19: Come, come mommy, daddy.

KAFANOV (voice-over): She loved singing BUNJES: Hold them, Broncos, hold them.

KAFANOV (voice-over): And cheering the Denver Broncos

FRED BUNJES, LOST WIFE TO COVID-19: She used to sit right there in that chair.

KAFANOV (voice-over): But now her family is mourning. The 71 year old matriarch died of the Coronavirus last month.

STRUMPF: My mom is maybe no more special than the other 280 what 6,000 people who have died now. But she's as just special as every one of those people.

KAFANOV (voice-over): Jeanette was able to be with her mother in her final moments. Her dad and sister never got that chance.

JAIME BUNJES, LOST MOTHER TO COVID-19: It's horrible to sit there and watch my mom gasp for air as she is dying. And when they took out that tube, it's horrible. And we can't do anything for her. She had perfect beautiful new lungs, and this monster virus killed her.

KAFANOV (on camera): What were your last words to May?

F. BUNJES: I love you. I want you to come home, but it never happened.

KAFANOV (voice-over): May was a longtime resident of Greeley, Colorado, where she spent decades volunteering.

STRUMPF: People of this community are profoundly affected by my mom's death. She meant something to people here.

KAFANOV (voice-over): Weld County home to Greeley is solidly in the red, both politically and on Colorado's COVID-19 dial. Nearly 58 percent voted for President Trump in this election.


KAFANOV (voice-over): But despite a surge in coronavirus cases, Weld County commissioners last month announced they would not obey the state's new COVID-19 restrictions on the area.

SCOTT JAMES. COUNTY COMMISSIONER, DISTRICT 2, WELD COUNTY: Ultimately, this fall boils down to personal responsibility to voluntary compliance, Folks, you know the best ways to combat COVID

KAFANOV (voice-over): The county has no mask order, its Sheriff saying he would not enforce one anyway.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just want everyone to wear a mask please, and thank you.

KAFANOV (voice-over): The family has launched an initiative called "Mask Up for May" to prevent others from experiencing the pain of losing a loved one. Although, they say they are lifelong conservatives and Republicans, they also say they feel let down by their county and the White House.

STRUMPF: Our own president saying the day after the election that the coronavirus would disappear. Well, guess what, Mr. President, my mom died 15 days after your election, and it didn't disappear. It didn't go away. It's not going away. It's not a joke. My mom died 15 days after your flippant remarks, and I am devastated.


WALKER: It's just heartbreaking. Still to come, tons of dry ice will be needed to ship the COVID vaccines. What dry ice makers are doing to meet that demand?

BLACKWELL: Army-Navy opponents on the field, but brothers in arms off the field. Next, how one player who should have been suiting up for the rivalry game is being honored.



BLACKWELL: So, by now, we all know that the vaccine has to be kept in extremely cold temperatures. And in order to do that, you need a lot of dry ice.

WALKER: You do. So that people in Western Washington who manufacture, process and distribute dry ice are scrambling to make more and have it distributed around the world. CNN Affiliate Reporter, Gary Horcher has more.


GARY HORCHER, REPORTER, KIRO 7: When you talk about extreme cold in here, the dry ice capsules, you see here these pellets are 109 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. That is enough to freeze your skin on contact if I'm not wearing gloves. This could be really dangerous. But it will take literally tons of this to deliver the ultra-cold Pfizer vaccine around the world. There has never been more demand in history for a product to save lives.

HORCHER (voice-over): It's a chilling industry you probably never considered before. But very soon with the promise of a vaccine, which must be kept at 94 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, all of our lives will depend on the heavy lifting from the men and women who have quietly made, cut and shoveled tons of solid carbon dioxide.


Reliant Dry Ice, Manager Caleb Stone has been around the dry ice business. But he never imagined the sudden critical role dry ice will play in keeping the vaccine stable and safe for deliveries to millions of people waiting to resume their normal lives.

CALEB STONE, MANAGER, RELIANT DRY ICE: Delivering the hospitals, delivering the medical clinics and things like that, is something that we're used to, HORCHER (voice-over): But dry ice is constantly fogging itself back into a gas. So 10 pounds of dry ice literally disappears within 24 to 36 hours. That's why it'll take a lot of fresh dry ice to keep the vaccine stable during transport and storage.

STONE: It's an honor to be a part of it. And we're just taking one step at a time. There's still a lot of unknowns. But my phone has been ringing off the hook. I've been getting a lot of emails, a lot more than usual.

HORCHER (voice-over): The demand on this industry to save our state and our country will be historic. And Caleb says they're ready.

STONE: We want to be that spoke in that wheel that helps protect lives.

HORCHER (voice-over): He says it might take more workers to keep up, but they won't know every detail about the staggering need until the vaccines are here.

STONE: And we're just hard-working guys who are wanting to do our part to help in that.


BLACKWELL: Thanks to CNN Affiliate Reporter Gary Horcher for that report.

WALKER: The Army Navy game is this afternoon, known for all of its rich traditions and pageantry.

BLACKWELL: And one of the more recent additions to the custom uniforms both teams wear for the game. Of course, CNN's Coy Wire has at least one of the helmets I saw. What do you have for us this hour?

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Victor, this is become known as perhaps like the best fashion show in all of sports with this tradition, with the uniforms. And let's show you Army's first, and we can critique, see what you think here. Army is honoring "Tropic Lightning," the 25th Infantry Division and the 27th Infantry Regiment Wolfhounds for their heroics in the Korean War.

Fun fact, my grandfather was serving there and my mom Jane was born right here at West Point. Now, the Naval Academy is paying tribute to its 175 years of leadership. And the helmets, they depict the marble that you see in iconic buildings on campus.

And each player is also going to carry the image of David Forney, who you see here. He passed earlier this year of cardiac arrest at 22 years old. first-team all-conference NFL talent. This would have been his last Army-Navy game. His number 68 Jersey will be worn for the first time in about a year by fellow offensive lineman Billy Honaker who got permission from coach and David's family to pay respects in this way.

More than just a game, Forney is going to be missed, as well many of the traditions that make this rivalry so special. But our very own CNN Contributor and West Point legend James Gagliano, Class of 87, tells us that this game is still the biggest and best of all.


JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Army Navy is bigger than anything else. And it's bigger than Alabama-Auburn, it's bigger than Ohio State-Michigan. It's bigger than UNC-Duke. It is America's game.

WIRE: So, James, tell me how you're going to be watching this year? Anything special planned for the game?

GAGLIANO: No, we're probably going to be staying home and being responsible like most Academy grads are. We understand that this a different year and we're lucky and we're blessed that the Army Navy contest is even going to be played.

I live about five miles north from there. So when army scores its first touchdown and the cannons go off, my house will shake and I'll take a glass and I'll tip it to the long gray line, boy.


WIRE: Now, James, the army superfan that was his bath robe he was wearing from his cadet days in the '80s. Also he said that he was trying to change his password to Navy, Victor and Amara, but Google told him it was too weak. The trash talk well underway, cadets and midshipmen are starting to come down. They're going to fill this stadium behind me. Kickoff just hours away for Army-Navy game

BLACKWELL: Am I to believe that he kept that bath robe for 30 years? Is that true?

WIRE: It's true. He had all kinds of paraphernalia around. And he probably - he's watching right now. Hey James Go Army! And he is yelling Beat Navy! right now I heard him. He's really excited for this game, as are many.

BLACKWELL: All right. Thank you, Coy.

Hey, the FDA is expected to hold the news conference at any moment now on their decision to grant the first Emergency Use Authorization for COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S.

WALKER: And we will have the details from that news conference when you join us for CNN NEWSROOM at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. But SMERCONISH is up next.



MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: The Supreme Court comes up short. I'm Michael Smerconish in Philadelphia. Last night, the Supreme Court ruled against Texas and President Trump when turning away and attempt to overturn election results in four states. The court issued a short, simple, unsigned order that ended what Trump had called, "The Big One."