Return to Transcripts main page
New Day Saturday
FDA Authorizes Second Vaccine As U.S. Suffers Deadliest Week Yet; Talks Spill Into The Weekend As D.C. Debates Aid Deal Fine Print; Health Officials Work To Overcome "Vaccine Hesitancy"; Morehouse Dean Takes Vaccine Publicly To Remove Stigma As Some Black Americans Remain Hesitant; Pence Calls U.S. Space Force Members "Guardians"; Heavy Rain And Snow Expected In Pacific Northwest. Aired 7-8a ET
Aired December 19, 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)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If things don't change, we're going to probably be rationing care.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's completely devastating. The hospitals are full, the ICUs are full, the emergency departments are full.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: U.S. Secretary of State was now going public with Washington's suspicions about who was behind the massive cyberattack on us targets.
MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I think it's the case, but now we can say pretty clearly that it was the Russians that engaged in this activity.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Clearly, the Russians do not fear us right now on this. And the question is, how far are you willing to escalate with a nuclear power?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY WEEKEND. Victor Blackwell, and Christi Paul.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Sun's coming up there. And it is a beautiful morning, isn't it? Hope you're seeing something similar where you are right now in the U.S.
There are more people in the hospital due to COVID-19 than we've ever seen before. And new cases are hitting record highs. The deadliest week yet of this pandemic is ending with news that there's more help on the way which is the light.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, and there are now two coronavirus vaccines authorized for emergency use in the United States. The FDA says Moderna's vaccine could start rolling out pretty soon. Vaccinations could start as soon as Monday. Of course, that's pending a CDC panel vote today and a final sign off from the CDC director. That's expected soon after.
PAUL: CNN health reporter Jacqueline Howard is with us now. Jacqueline, it's always so good to have you here. So, a week ago, you were walking us through Pfizer's vaccine. Now, we're looking at Moderna's How does it stack up?
JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER: They're very similar vaccines, Christi. They're both mRNA vaccines, which means their main component is messenger RNA, that's genetic information about the coronavirus, and it helps stimulate your immune system to identify and prepare for the virus in case you encounter it. They have similar efficacy, Pfizer's at 95 percent, Moderna is at 94.5 percent. And the process that they both went through to get FDA authorization was the same.
But here are some key differences that have emerged between these two vaccines. We've talked about this before as well. They have similar, again, efficacy, they're administered as two doses, but Pfizer as administered 21 days apart, whereas Moderna is 28 days apart. Their storage is also very different. Pfizer requires much colder temperatures. And when it comes to who will get the vaccines, Pfizer has been authorized for ages 16 and older, whereas Moderna is for adults, 18 and older.
But overall, the main takeaway, their efficacy and safety profiles are similar, so there's no reason to believe one is necessarily better than the other.
BLACKWELL: Jacqueline, you were up with his last weekend talking our way through the loading deck -- loading dock at Pfizer, as the vaccines are being loaded onto trucks and driven to locations or to the airport. What do we know about the rollout of these vaccines and when people can expect them?
HOWARD: Well, the rollout for Moderna, we could see shots administered early next week, so we're keeping an eye on that. But when it comes to Pfizer, it's interesting. States have been told by the federal government that they will get fewer vaccine doses next week than they initially expected.
Washington's Governor, Jay Inslee, tweeted that that state is expecting a vaccine allocation cut by 40 percent. Oregon also is reporting 40 percent. And the company Pfizer actually just put out a statement on this. The company says, quote, "Pfizer is not having any production issues with our COVID-19 vaccine and no shipments containing the vaccines are on hold or delayed. We have millions more doses sitting in our warehouse, but as of now, we have not received any shipment instructions."
So, states are having to make some tough decisions and quick changes and distribution when those vaccine doses come in next week. But hopefully as Moderna rolls out, hopefully that vaccine can provide some relief with some additional doses.
BLACKWELL: Indeed. Jacqueline Howard, thank you so much.
HOWARD: Thank you. PAUL: Let's talk to David Paltiel. He's a professor at Yale School of Public Health and an expert on Health Policy and Management. Mr. Paltiel, good to have you with us. Thank you for being here.
A. DAVID PALTIEL, PROFESSOR, YALE SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Good morning, Christi. It's good to be with you.
PAUL: Thank you. So, now that we're several days into the rollout of the vaccines and the vaccinations, we've seen this fall, give us your assessment of what you -- you've seen.
PALTIEL: Sure. You know, it's a common adage among people in the vaccine world that vaccines don't save lives. Vaccination programs save lives. The authorization of a second effective vaccine is a super cause for celebration, but it's just the first step. Infrastructure and implementation are looking to contribute more to the success of the vaccination program.
And you know, what we're seeing right now, you know, is terrific. It's miraculous that we have two powerfully effective authorized vaccines, but we're at risk of squandering our investment in those vaccines, if we don't build the infrastructure. So, you know, it's great that we had Operation Warp Speed for development of the vaccine. We now need Operation Warp Speed for infrastructure.
PAUL: So, based on what you've seen, what is the greatest need to get these shipments out? Is it funding? Is it staff? Is it a strategic plan? And what's in your -- in your opinion?
PALTIEL: Well, right now, the problem is that responsibility for on- the-ground vaccine distribution has been delegated to state and local health departments. And these organizations are chronically underfunded, they're 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 for months, that they lack the billions of dollars that are required to carry out the work expected of them. So, it's funding and it's also a centralized plan.
PAUL: We know that the virus is raging. Well, we know that this morning. Johns Hopkins said yesterday was the highest daily caseload we have seen since this pandemic began, almost 250,000 cases just yesterday alone. And five of the highest single day counts have all been in the last couple of weeks. So, how does -- I'm wondering, how does the severity of the pandemic affect the potency of a vaccine when it's being introduced to communities that have such high virus rates?
PALTIEL: It's a great question. And I'm so glad you're framing it that way. You know, 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. And right now, the virus, just as he said, is currently behaving like an out-of-control wildfire in our communities.
And even with two highly effective vaccines, we still need sustained adherence to masking and physical distancing, and other mitigation practices to contain the pandemic. So, you know, my answer to your question is, don't throw that mask away. We will get out of this pandemic mess a whole lot faster if we give the vaccines a fighting chance.
PAUL: I want to ask you about public confidence, or some of the vaccine hesitancy that we've seen out there. You know, in the last 24 hours, we've seen President -- Vice President Mike Pence, we've seen U.S. Surgeon General, Jerome Adams, and others getting the vaccine publicly to try to solidify some confidence in that how effective are those images to do so?
PALTIEL: Yes, it's great the public figures are getting themselves job, you know, on T.V., and in public. It makes for good theater. It certainly can't hurt. But it's no substitute for a serious, comprehensive, evidence-based, culturally sensitive messaging campaign.
We need a strategy for communicating about the vaccine and responding to widespread hesitancy, you know, particularly among communities, black Americans, for example, that, you know, have good reason to be worried about, you know, what this vaccine really entails, and that threatens the success of the vaccination effort. So, great, the public figures are doing this on T.V., but even greater if we had a centralized communication campaign.
PAUL: Do you have a good sense of what the hesitations are in terms of the vaccine?
PALTIEL: That's just not my field, and I can't.
PAUL: OK. OK. Just didn't know. So, we are watching, you know, the FDA authorized the moderna vaccine for emergency use. We know that today this group -- this advisory group for the CDC is meeting to discuss voting to recommend it and the CDC has to accept the recommendations before the vaccines can start.
What do you think the impact will be of having the second vaccine available? And does -- do the problems that we are just now hearing about potential shipments of Pfizer? Could that hinder what happens with Moderna?
PALTIEL: Yes, I think it's a miracle to have not just one, but two candidates with such, you know, surprisingly, strong efficacy reports. And Moderna's vaccine is going to more than double our supply of vaccine, it's going to place a whole lot less strain on infrastructure. You know, you just mentioned the storage issues are way easier with Moderna. It lasts better. It doesn't need, you know, some crazy subzero, you know, refrigeration.
But, again, on its own, a second authorized vaccine is only a very small part of what it takes to mount a successful campaign to bring down COVID across the United States. You know, it's an effective vaccine. Isn't the beginning of the end. It's just the end of the beginning.
PAUL: OK. Professor A. David Paltiel, so good to have your expertise with us this morning. Thank you.
PALTIEL: Thank you for having me.
PAUL: Of course.
BLACKWELL: Members of Congress are working toward a deal on a $900 billion plus aid package this weekend. They have until Sunday night to figure it out before the government shuts down. Suzanne Malveaux is on Capitol Hill this morning.
Suzanne, what has been settled, agreed upon, what still needs to be settled?
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Victor, it's really been quite maddening. The last couple of days, it's been so close to the finish line, a lot of optimism and only for it to be thwarted at the very end. There is a lot that lawmakers actually do agree on because they've jettison some of the more controversial proposals.
And, yes, they say direct checks are beneficial that they should be sent out to hardworking Americans, those who are suffering, unemployment benefits that will expire after Christmas, small business loans, money for vaccine distribution, education, more time for students to pay off their loans and to stay in your apartment before you get evicted.
All of those things are part of this $900 billion plan. And so, you can understand why throughout the week, there really was a sense of optimism and that they are still close to the finish line. Senate Majority Mitch McConnell last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): I'm even more optimistic now than I was last night that a bipartisan bicameral framework for a major rescue package is very close at hand.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: So that's one of the sticking points, is the authority of the Federal Reserve in terms of loans, emergency loans, providing aid, Republicans say, look that needs to be restricted. Democrats are saying, don't take that away from us. That is an important tool that the Biden administration needs to use to deal with this crisis. So that is where the politics comes in. That's where the two-day extension, hopefully we'll iron it out.
BLACKWELL: Yes. When it comes to direct payments, we've heard both sides of the argument, especially last night, is it now a certainty that these payments will go out? And when should people expect to see the money? And what's the argument of if it's enough?
MALVEAUX: You asked most Democrats will say no, it's not enough at all, it doesn't even come close. It's simply a down payment. But there are two senators who are taking the lead on this, Senator Josh Hawley, he's a Republican, and Senator Bernie Sanders, who I've spoken with numerous times over the week, who says $600 is nothing.
It is not even close to being enough for many Americans who are suffering. This is just a just a smidge. Just a sampling of what Sanders said last night. And what he's been saying throughout the week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): Why I think $600 is where we should be no, I think we should be $1,200 in direct payment for every working-class adult in this country, and 600 bucks for their kid, but we're making some progress. And we're going to continue that fight.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: And continuing that fight, if you listen to what he said, he did not hold up the government from being funded from this two-day extension. But he did make it known quite clear that he is not signing off on a relief package that doesn't -- that has just $600 per individual, that he wants more money out of that. That is just one of the negotiating points that we'll be hearing throughout the day. Christi, Victor.
BLACKWELL: Countdown to hours until the government shuts down without a deal. Suzanne Malveaux for us there on Capitol Hill. Thank you.
PAUL: So, checking in with President Trump. We know that he's playing golf. People are waiting to hear from him on the Russia cyberattack and other issues. We are live from the White House on what to expect from his final days in office.
BLACKWELL: Plus, the fear and skepticism in so many communities, specifically in communities of color hit hard by the coronavirus. Look, I think up to this point, we have had a woefully incomplete conversation about why this is happening. We're going to try to broaden that conversation about earning trust.
BLACKWELL: President Trump has fewer than five weeks left in office. And right now, instead of confronting the pandemic or instilling some confidence in the vaccine, he's spending his final few days pushing conspiracy theories about the election that he lost more than a month ago.
PAUL: Yesterday, Vice President Mike Pence received a shot, his vaccine, on T.V. to try to reduce skepticism and fears about the vaccine. This is happening while the New York Times reports distrust of government is fueling vaccine skepticism among a large number of Trump supporters and Republicans in general. CNN's Sarah Westwood's following the latest for the White House. So, Sarah, good morning to you. Do we know if or when the President will take the vaccine?
SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Christi. And there are some complicating factors when it comes to when President Trump will take the vaccine because he's not quite out of that 90-day window.
Public health experts say that people should wait about 90 days between when they get infected with coronavirus and when they receive the vaccine. And so, doctors aren't necessarily recommending that he get it right now.
But we aren't hearing much from President Trump in the meantime. In fact, he's done very little to promote the vaccine, to encourage people to receive it once it becomes available for them to do so. That's really a proactive role that's being taken on by other members of his administration as Trump remains focused on his election-related grievances and largely out of the public eye during what should be a triumphant week for him and for this White House as the vaccine is rolling out in states across the country.
Now, Vice President Mike Pence, as you mentioned, received the vaccine on camera yesterday and he assured people speaking afterwards, that the science behind the vaccine is sound.
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Vigilance and the vaccine is our way through. And building confidence in the vaccine is what brings us here this morning. While we cut red tape, we cut no corners.
WESTWOOD: Now, this comes as the administration is confronting what the experts call vaccine hesitancy, that is people's reluctance to get in line for the vaccine when it becomes available. And the New York Times is reporting that is most prominent among Republicans that polls show that Republicans are the most skeptical of receiving the vaccine, but could be perhaps the most receptive to an overt move by President Trump to promote that vaccine.
Yesterday, Surgeon General Jerome Adams and the Second Lady also received their vaccine. And Adams tweeted yesterday that he hopes mistrust and misinformation would not lead people to make poor decisions when it comes to the vaccine. So, there is that effort to overcome the misinformation that have led people to be skeptical of taking the shot.
Trump, meanwhile, has no public events on his schedule this weekend. So, we -- he is expected to remain largely behind closed doors again, as the vaccine continues to roll out. Victor and Christi.
PAUL: All righty. Sarah Westwood, we appreciate it so much. Thank you.
BLACKWELL: Sarah, thank you. Listen, when we come back, we're going to have a conversation about the concerns about taking the vaccine in the black community. This is more than about the large broad atrocities of the Tuskegee experiment and others like it.
There are small slights that happened on a regular basis in medical offices that are behind some of this hesitancy. We're going to bring the proof, have a broader conversation about how interactions now can impact the willingness of some to take the vaccine. We'll be back in a minute.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEROME ADAMS, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: And as the U.S. Surgeon General, and a black man, I am equally aware of the symbolic significance of my vaccination today. As I've discussed with faith leaders as recently as last night, the creation of these vaccines is a gift from above.
But vaccines, even ones that are 95 percent effective will not alone in this pandemic. We must now do the necessary work to go from vaccines to vaccinations. It would truly be the greatest tragedy of all if disparities in COVID outcomes actually worsened because the people who could most benefit from this vaccine can't get it or won't take it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: That was the U.S. Surgeon General addressing the concerns surrounding the vaccine. Black Americans are among the hardest hit in this pandemic and have a lot of skepticism about this vaccine, has a long history and we've discussed it for weeks of deceptive experiments and dismissals by medical professionals. They've left a lot of black Americans skeptical of the field and worry about this vaccine.
So, let's talk about this with CNN race and equality reporter Nicquel Terry Ellis and Dr. Yves Duroseau. He is the chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. Welcome to you both. Dr. Duroseau, let me start with you. You've had your first injection. Tell us about it. And what you're experiencing if anything remarkable.
DR. YVES DUROSEAU, CHAIRMAN, DEPARTMENT OF EMERGENCY MEDICINE AT LENOX HILL HOSPITAL: Yes, I had my first injection on Monday. There was some minor soreness in the arm. Currently, I'm feeling absolutely well. I'm here in New York City, I shoveled my yard on Thursday with absolutely no discomfort whatsoever.
So, I think it was very important for me to do that to show others that the vaccination is safe, especially in communities that are reluctant. In minority communities, this is especially important, because we've had three times the death rate from COVID.
BLACKWELL: Nicquel, let me come to you because you've done some reporting on some of that reluctance. And there's this Kaiser Family Foundation study that's out recently that's getting a lot of attention. The details why some black Americans, specifically, are reluctant or hesitant about the vaccine. What did you find?
NICQUEL TERRY ELLIS, CNN RACE AND EQUALITY REPORTER: Yes, so what does Kaiser study shows us, Victor, is that 35 percent of black Americans do not want to go out right away and get the vaccine when it becomes widely available next year. Their key concerns here are possible side effects from taking the vaccine, possibly getting COVID-19 from taking the vaccine, or just a general distrust in all the vaccines.
We also know that other studies have shown us that black Americans are largely concerned about the nation's history of racism in medical research. And so, for that reason, they don't want to go out right away and get the vaccine. They don't want to, quote unquote, be the guinea pigs for the vaccine trials either.
But there was one sign of hope. The same study found that 85 percent of black -- of black Americans say that they would trust vaccine information from their personal doctor. So, that means that family care doctors may have to be the ones to convince people that the vaccine is safe and effective.
BLACKWELL: Let's come back to that in a moment. And Dr. Duroseau, let me come to you on this. We've talked about the Tuskegee experiment, where for decades black men in Alabama were given syphilis without their knowledge, without their permission to study it and what the impact on them, dozens of them died, some went blind, they spread it as well.
As horrific is that is, there are other contemporary examples of why black people likely are skeptical. This is 2015 study from the American Journal of Public Health that details the biases. Black people are kept waiting longer for assessment. Health care professionals spend more time with white patients than patients of color. They speak to patients with more dominating or condescending tone.
There may not be one historical event that explains this, but just the compound impact of years of the incremental sleights that black people, they experience from the health care industry that could be more illuminative, what's your take.
DUROSEAU: Yes, so I guess, in a -- in a nutshell, what you're describing is implicit bias, and that that's something that, you know, we've been dealing with in the health care environment.
You know, I want to find a silver lining around this. And I think, for the first time, you know, we were having meaningful conversations about it. It's a confluence of what's happening in the broader society with the racial tensions, et cetera. It's all coming together.
And hopefully, that silver lining is that we're going to continue to have these conversations and be open and honest about it in how do we deal with implicit bias, and you have to recognize it. You have to recognize it to be able to deal with it. And we're doing a lot of that teaching in the medical profession with medical students, with physicians, and we hope to move past this. So, when a -- when a minority is a reluctant to deal with the health care system, we have to acknowledge that this does exist, and why they're reluctant. And if we don't do that, they'll never trust us and we'll never be able to collaborate with them in terms of getting this vaccination.
BLACKWELL: Yes, it's important for every optometrist, gynecologist, podiatrists, physician's aid to know that the interaction with people who are skeptical right now because they don't believe that may -- this may be in their best interest.
Those exchanges, those interactions are influential on will they get the vaccine over the next year or so.
Nicquel, let me come back to you. This study also found the kinds of study I'm talking about. 48 percent of black respondents say they were not confident that the needs of black people were considered by the developers.
I know you're covered the dean of Morehouse School of Medicine, Dr. Montgomery. And Dr. Fauci as well pushing that there are black professionals in the room on the research and development teams of this, this vaccine.
TERRY ELLIS (on camera): Yes. So, I think that when you saw black leaders out this week actually getting the vaccine during live event, that was very notable. You have the nurse in Long Island, Sandra Lindsay, who received the vaccine during a live event that was administered by a black doctor.
We had another black doctor in New York who received the vaccine earlier this week, and he came out afterward and said that he hoped that by him getting the vaccine that he would be influencing other black Americans to get the vaccine as well.
The dean of the Morehouse School of Medicine also very notable she received the vaccine during a live event yesterday, and she came out yesterday to your point and said that black doctors and scientists have been helping with develop this vaccine. They've also been on the CDC and FDA advisory boards approving this vaccine.
So, I think the hope is that given that black people have been a part of this process that, that will help to build the confidence in Black Americans as well.
BLACKWELL: Yes, Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett is one of the developers who's leading some of the research, one of the high profile members of the team who's been on this network.
Dr. Duroseau, what are the ethics behind matching the disproportionate spread of COVID In the black community, the disproportionate number of hospitalizations, the disproportionate number of deaths with a disproportionate distribution of the vaccine? In so far, the communities that have been hit harder should get more access or eligibility for these vaccines.
DUROSEAU: Yes. So, the word I'm hearing around in the health care community is equity. And I'm happy -- I'm happy to be hearing that, and I think that it's really putting a light on all of the things that we mentioned that we have to get these vaccinations to points where people of color live and reside, and can access the system. We have to make it very easy for them to access it even if it's not in the physician's office. But this still the problem remains that they have to be willing to take it.
The other thing I would add to all of this is, at least, for the Pfizer study that's been done. When I pulled the literature on that, nine percent of the participants in the studies were black. And if you add another, you know, 15 or to 20 percent or so, were Latinx, and I think that's a Hispanic descent.
I think that's very important to let them know that these patients in the studies did very well and there were no deaths attributable to the vaccination.
BLACKWELL: Nicquel, I want to wrap it with you. You talked about the trust in one's personal physician. An element we've not discussed that I've seen is the role of the church.
BLACKWELL: We saw the dean of the Morehouse School of Medicine get the vaccine. But how influential would it be if it were the senior pastor of a megachurch in Atlanta, or Baltimore, Oakland, or Chicago? And are you hearing anything about employing, welcoming in the faith community in getting the vaccine, and helping to convince some skeptical people?
TERRY ELLIS: Absolutely. Actually, there was a group of prominent black pastors who met with Dr. Fauci earlier this week to learn more about the vaccine and to discuss rolling it out to the black community.
The hope is that they will connect with the nation's top health leaders get all they can get as far as information, and then, educate the black community more about why the vaccine is safe and necessary.
Black people will be looking to their trusted leaders to not only take the vaccine first, but tell them all that they know about the vaccine as far as, you know, what the side effects are, as far as, you know, what the efficacy is. And so, I think this is very important, it will be crucial moving forward and getting people to actually step out and get vaccinated.
I also want to note that you have had HBCUs, sororities, and fraternities who are also wanting to be on the front lines to helping spread the word about this vaccine. So, it's going to take a concerted effort by all the people that are trusted in the black community to come together and educate the black community about the vaccine to make people feel more comfortable.
BLACKWELL: Nicquel Terry Ellis and Dr. Yves Duroseau, I appreciate the conversation. Thank you both, enjoy the weekend.
TERRY ELLIS: Thank you.
DUROSEAU: Thank you. Be well, be safe.
BLACKWELL: You too. Christi?
PAUL (on camera): So, listen, the scope is widespread as we've been talking about. A massive ongoing cyberattack against the U.S. What's being done right now to protect the country?
BLACKWELL: Also, it's a year since President Trump announced the creation of the United States Space Force. And now, its members officially have a name. We've got that for you.
BLACKWELL: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says that he believes Russia is behind a massive cyberattack against some Fortune 500 companies, the U.S. government, including Homeland Security cybersecurity division, and the Departments of State, Commerce, Agriculture, Energy.
Investigators are trying to determine what if any government data may have been accessed or stolen in the attack?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
POMPEO: There was a significant effort to use a piece of third-party software to essentially embed code inside of U.S. government systems and it now appears systems of private companies and companies and governments across the world as well. This was a very significant effort, and I think it's the case that now we can say pretty clearly that it was the Russians that engaged in this activity."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: So, we're learning this hack was carried out over a time period of months. But the scope of the cyber espionage campaign only became clear in the past couple of weeks. Here is CNN's Alex Marquardt.
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Good morning, Victor and Christi. We are getting new information about what was known and when. And it was several months ago that U.S. officials who monitor for threats to critical infrastructure when they first noticed suspicious activity. That's according to three sources speaking to CNN.
That suspicious activity we now know was linked to what we're now reporting as one of the largest hacking operations in history. But at the time, they weren't able to tie what they were seeing to the software which we know the hackers used to get inside.
The activity that they saw was classified and it did not provide conclusive evidence that the networks had been compromised. But it still did worry top cybersecurity officials that there were potential vulnerabilities.
Then, fast forward to 10 days ago, the top cybersecurity firm FireEye revealed that it had been hacked. That was then followed several days later by the U.S. government, admitting it too had been targeted and what we now know is the biggest breach it has ever seen.
We are learning more every single day about what these hackers who are believed to be connected to the Russian intelligence services, what they had access to. But given the sophistication, there is still so much that needs to be learned. What data was accessed? What was done with it?
18,000 customers use this software that the hackers rode into these networks on. It's from a company called SolarWinds. All those clients, including many in the U.S. government all need to do a forensic analysis. That could take months or longer. We may never know the full extent of what the hackers did.
Now, the U.S. cyber agency which is called CISA has also said in a statement that there were other methods that were used to get in as well as techniques that have not yet been discovered. The scale and sophistication of this operation that has gone on since March and is still going on cannot be overstated. Victor, Christi?
PAUL: All righty, thank you so much.
So, from cyberspace to outer space. Victor was wondering if I was going to say it.
BLACKWELL: It was so corny. It was so corny.
PAUL: There is a (INAUDIBLE), and I just thought I'd -- I've given it to him.
PAUL: Listen, you just wait to see what you have to read. It may have once have been the final frontier. Listen, this day -- these days' feels a lot closer to home. The U.S. Space Force marking its first year as part of the military. And, of course, to celebrate the occasion, vice president there, boldly gave the force members a new name.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PENCE: As I mentioned, we just returned from the Oval Office. And so, it is my honor on behalf of the president of the United States to announce that henceforth the men and women of the United States Space Force will be known as Guardians.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: Original. Yes, a lot of people pointed out on Twitter that the galaxy already has guardians. Yes, they're fictional -- you know.
BLACKWELL: There's a walking tree, there's a grumpy raccoon. But they got there first. The director of the movie Guardians of the Galaxy even wondered if they could sue the vice president.
PAUL: I don't know -- I don't know about that. That might be a little -- that might be a little out there.
BLACKWELL: I'm just imagining the meeting that that they all kind of huddled around and said, I got it.
PAUL: How did it go with Guardians?
PAUL: Guardians. And you know, the Guardians of the Galaxy now is just going to be the thing that people talk about. All righty.
So, there's a little bit of your fun news this morning.
BLACKWELL: There you go. All right. So, New York is digging out from this huge snowfall.
BLACKWELL: And now we're tracking a new east coast storm, watching another big storm across the west too.
PAUL: So, you know, if you in the northeast, you got hit know if you were in the northeast you got hit with a historic snowstorm. Now, rain and snow are expected from the Great Lakes down at the Gulf Coast.
BLACKWELL: Yes, CNN's Allison Chinchar is with us now. Allison, are we going to see more of the amounts, the accumulation like we saw in the northeast this week?
ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST (on camera): Yes, you are. And it's going to be today and also tomorrow as this system continues to make its way off to the east.
So, today, the main focus is really going to be from the Great Lakes stretching all the way down to the Gulf Coast. Obviously, on the southern side, this is all going to be rain. It's the northern side of this system that has the potential to be a little bit of a wintry mix.
So, here's a look at the timeline. Again, notice the focus today from Michigan, stretching down towards Texas, then, it slowly begins to push off to the east. So that by the time we get to tomorrow, now you're talking the focus of the northeast stretching down towards Florida.
That northern portion we talked about, that little bit of a wintry mix. So, there'll be some rain, some snow, and a little bit of sleet. The good news is having that mix will help limit how much actually accumulates across portions of the northeast, but you still may likely end up getting an additional one, two, or three inches on top of what some areas already have.
Again, the flood threat is going to be the biggest concern down to the south, especially coastal regions of Louisiana and Texas. But it's not the only place we have the flood threat, we are also looking at the potential out to the west areas of Washington State and Oregon. You're talking widespread totals of three to five inches of rain, but some areas could pick up some isolated higher amounts than that.
Here is a look, rain already began last night now starting to spread off to the east. But notice a lot of the snow that's also going to come in across portions of the mountain west, even areas of the Cascades.
Some of these areas, Victor and Christi, you're going to be measuring this in feet. The concern there is that there is going to be the potential for some avalanches across some regions.
PAUL: Wow! All right, Allison Chinchar, thank you so much.
So, the pandemic as you know brought the music industry to a halt. It couldn't stop musicians from doing what they love, and that includes recording a live album across the southern border.
BLACKWELL: So, that's from the documentary Fandango at the Wall. CNN's Chloe Melas spoke with the people behind that.
CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER (on camera): Good morning Christi and Victor. Fandango at the Wall is a music documentary that features a live concert being recorded at the U.S.-Mexico border. I got a chance to speak with the filmmakers about why this film's message is so timely.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Son Jarocho musicians from Veracruz that touch everyone who sees this movie so deeply are no different from the families at the border wall that are currently being torn apart by the current administration's policy of putting children in cages.
So, when we read about 666 children who have permanently been separated from their parents, those are no different than the families that touch our viewers of Fandango at the Wall so deeply.
KABIR SEHGAL, PRODUCER, FANDANGO AT THE WALL: What attracted me to this project was, well, Fandango at the Wall. Fandango was something that's harmonious and beautiful, and the wall is something that's not. Both are man-made.
So, we really have a choice to create the world we want to see, and that's what this project's all about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELAS: The film follows Jorge Francisco Castillo as he takes the filmmakers to Veracruz, Mexico to meet the local musicians who put on the annual Fandango Fronterizo music festival.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JORGE FRANCISCO CASTILLO, FOUNDER, FANDANGO FROTERIZO: For me, music is like a medicine. It's a healer. Every time I go through something, it's -- music is there to save me and to cure me. And when we play music like Son Jarocho, it's totally a community prayer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELAS: The film's director also spoke about being able to complete the film amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VARDA BAR-KAR, DIRECTOR, FANDANGO AT THE WALL: I'm just grateful that, you know, the themes of the film are being communicated, but we're also kind of spreading the love and the joy. And we're giving people an adventure -- a cultural adventure to be able to experience during this time of, you know, lockdown.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELAS: Christi and Victor, this film is currently airing on HBO, which like CNN is owned by Warner Media. And I'm telling you, this one definitely pulls at your heartstrings.
BLACKWELL: Spreading the love and the joy. We love that. Chloe Melas, thank you.
PAUL: Yes, we do.
So, as the U.S. moves closer to having two vaccines to fight the deadly coronavirus, talks are spilling into the weekend now into today on this relief package for people who are struggling. The latest on when you might see a second stimulus check.