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New Day Sunday

U.S. Surpasses 12M COVID Cases As Thanksgiving Nears; FDA Authorizes Emergency Use Of Antibody Cocktail Given To Trump To Treat COVID-19; Trump Campaign Requests Georgia Recount; Biden Poised To Make First Cabinet Announcements This Week; Trump Slams Media Coverage Of Global Pandemic; COVID-19's Emotional Toll During The Holidays. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired November 22, 2020 - 07:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The U.S. has now surpassed 12 million cases of coronavirus.

DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE: This is faster, it's broader, and what worries me, it could be longer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This surge is coming just at the beginning of the holiday travel season.

ALEX AZAR, HHS SECRETARY: The safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is at home with the people you live with.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The state of Georgia will once again recount the presidential ballots as the Trump campaign requested.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to keep fighting until every legal vote is counted.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A federal judge in Pennsylvania completely tearing apart the Trump legal strategy. He called the latest case that he has dismissed like Frankenstein's monster -- haphazardly stitched together.



VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Good Sunday morning to you. I'm Victor Blackwell.

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

BLACKWELL: So Thanksgiving week is here, and so is this expanding coronavirus surge.

Consider this -- the U.S. has now recorded 12 million cases across the country. Just six days ago, the U.S. hit 11 million cases. And for the 19th straight day, the U.S. has added more than 100,000 new cases daily. A record 83,000 people are in hospitals right now, away from their families heading into the holiday.

WALKER: And the calls to avoid Thanksgiving trips aren't keeping the crowds away. Friday was the second busiest day at U.S. airports yet during the pandemic.

There is good news on treating COVID-19, however. The FDA has issued an emergency use authorization for Regeneron's antibody cocktail, which is the same therapy that President Trump received during his hospital stay.

CNN's Polo Sandoval is following this from New York.

Good morning, Polo.

What more do we know about who can access this treatment and when?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Amara, we know that the Food and Drug Administration has authorized Regeneron for emergency use on those patients that have been determined to be high risk. It does not apply to patients that have been hospitalized and had to be potentially put on oxygen because of their treatment, to fight the virus.

In terms of how soon people would potentially be treated for -- with this drug, we do know that Regeneron says that they are looking to have doses available for at least 80,000 patients by the end of this month, and potentially up to 200,000 patients by the start of the year.


SANDOVAL (voice-over): The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Saturday issued an emergency use authorization for Regeneron's antibody cocktail to treat COVID-19 in high-risk patients with mild to moderate disease. President Donald Trump received the therapy called REGN-COV2 when he was hospitalized for coronavirus.

According to the FDA, the cocktail, which mimics an immune response to infection, reduced COVID-19-related hospitalizations and emergency room visits in some patients within 28 days of treatment. It works best in patients who are given the treatment early before the virus has taken hold in the body.

Regeneron's chief executive officer said in a statement the demand may initially exceed supply, making it even more critical that federal and state governments insure REGN-COV2 is distributed equitably to the patients most in need.

U.S. coronavirus cases surpassed 12 million Saturday, an increase of more than one million cases in less than a week according to Johns Hopkins University data. Over 255,000 Americans have died, November already accounts for almost a quarter of all COVID-19 cases, and 9 percent of deaths. Almost every state in the U.S. has reported a rapid surge in cases.

In Texas, the Division of Emergency Management reports a team of 36 National Guard personnel have been sent to El Paso to help the city cope with the surge of COVID-19 deaths. Good news on the horizon, experts say promising vaccines are on the way. CDC will recommend which groups should receive a COVID-19 vaccine first.

DR. JOSE ROMERO, CHAIR, CDC'S ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON IMMUNIZATION PRACTICES: We have a number of categories of individuals that may go in the first round of vaccinations. Among those are health care providers, individuals at high-risk conditions, individuals living in nursing homes, first responders, essential personnel, individuals over 65 years of age.

SANDOVAL: As we head into Thanksgiving, airports across the U.S. bracing for increased travel amid the pandemic. With the CDC now recommending coronavirus testing before and after international flights.


SANDOVAL (on camera): We should mention Regeneron is not the only company working to advance these kind of antibody therapies. At least 70 other treatments out there are being investigated also. The Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency approval for a similar drug under similar circumstances just earlier this month, Victor and Amara.


These are certainly tools that these health officials and these doctors need as they try to keep that death count, you heard out of West Texas, the National Guard called in to help perform mortuary services.

BLACKWELL: Polo Sandoval for us there, thank you.

Let's bring in now, one of those health experts, Dr. Carlos del Rio, executive associate dean of Emory University School of Medicine at Grady Health System in Atlanta.

Good morning to you.

Let's start with the authorization of the Regeneron cocktail. We know that it's to treat high-risk patients with mild to moderate disease, but before they get to the hospital. So when is that sweet spot? Is it immediately after the -- the diagnosis, or is it once they start to get the systems -- the symptoms, I should say, and how do you determine who is most at need if they're not hospitalized?

DR. CARLOS DEL RIO, EXECUTIVE ASSOCIATE DEAN, EMORY UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: Well, these are incredibly good questions, because what we know is the sooner you receive this treatment the better it is. For example, like the president received it.

So the reality is if you are over 65 and you have co-morbid conditions like diabetes, obesity, or some other, you know, immuno suppression, and you get diagnosed with COVID-19, you should be considered for this therapy pretty much immediately. The sooner within the first three to four days of getting diagnosed is the best time to receive it.

The challenge, of course, is finding it because it's actually in limited supply. And the other thing is health care systems and clinics are struggling to figure out how to administer this because this drug, you have to put -- you have to get it in the hospital. You have to give it intravenously and depending on the drug, you have to have a place where you can do it, and you can bring patients with COVID in in a safe environment.

So our typical infusion rooms where we have cancer patients are not the best part. So, we're all trying to figure out how to give it, where to give, and who the right person to give it. But they're very useful drugs, and I think it's a step in the right direction to have something to treat mild to moderate COVID. And now we have nothing.

BLACKWELL: Expectation is to manufacture enough for 80,000 patients by the end of this month, 200,000 by first week of January, 300,000 by end of January. They acknowledge that need will outpace supply. But when you have a million diagnoses a week of COVID, how big is that gap between what's available and what's needed?

DEL RIO: I mean, the gap is enormous. If you're diagnosing more than 100,000 persons per day, let's assume of those 100,000 persons you've diagnosed per day, you know, 30 percent will be eligible. That's 30,000 people every day that will be eligible for this drug, and you're manufacturing, you know, enough to treat 20,000 to 30,000 a month. I mean, that's how big the gap is.

We have to stop the spread of this virus. We're simply getting outpatient therapies, our ICUs, our capacity in our hospitals, we're getting overwhelmed. This is like trying to drink from a water hydrant.

WALKER: When it comes to vaccines, we understand that the CDC committee, there's a committee that's meeting to discuss, you know, who should be receiving the COVID-19 vaccines first. Can you tell us what these conversations are sounding like, and what you're view is on how we can ethically approach this issue?

DEL RIO: Well, I would recommend that you and your viewers look at the National Academy of Science, Engineering, and Medicine report that was issued last October on equitable allocation of COVID vaccines. This is a committee that was made of very high-level individuals, very distinguished persons, experts in the field, and co-shared by Doctors Bill Foege and Helene Gayle, some of the best and brightest in the area of vaccinology and also in public health.

And what they recommend is a tiered approach. They started saying, acknowledging we're not going to have enough vaccines to vaccinate everybody immediately. So, how do you tier vaccination.

And, you know, what they recommend is starting with first responders, with health care workers, with people living in long-term care facilities, elderly, people with very high risk of complications, then moving on to the general public. The CDC committee and meeting specialists has basically taken the report from the national academies and implementing, and they're in a way accepting the recommendations, which is really what it needs to be done.

WALKER: And, lastly, just a practical question because we've been showing the long lines that we've seen at airports. A lot of people traveling ahead of Thanksgiving. And we may see that as we head into December.

What is the right way to handle decisions on Thanksgiving? Because as you know, Dr. Del Rio, people are going to still travel -- you know, as we see, no matter what the guidelines are.

DEL RIO: Well, again, you have to think that there's a really very, very safe way to do it in a really very, very high-risk way to do it. And you have to decide what's the safest and the best for your family. I would start by saying, you know, if you're going to travel, be sure to travel wearing a mask and don't take it off, wearing a face shield or goggles, having hand sanitizer, avoiding, you know, avoiding proximity to people, so socially distanced, et cetera.


Don't drink, don't eat, don't take your mask off on the plane or when you drive.

Number two, once you get to the place you're going to be at, be sure that, you know, you get tested before you travel, and you get tested after you travel. Then I would also say, keep it to small number of individuals. No more than ten.

Number four, you know, if you can do it outside, do it outside. Outside is always better than inside. You can do it inside, have -- have a good ventilation in the room.

And finally, be sure to spread people out when they're eating, when they're getting together. The more you can keep people apart, the better it is. So, you know, avoid as much hugs and in proximity as you can possibly do. And if you're not going to be eating, you know, put your mask on, it's not a bad idea when you're having strangers with you.

So, I think if you do all those things, at the end of the day, you can stay safe.

WALKER: And just quickly, the time frame of testing before you travel -- is it one to three days?

DEL RIO: You know, my recommendation is people get tested one to three days after they travel and then they get tested three to four days after they travel, as a way to -- it's not 100 percent sure, but it decreases your risk that somebody, you know, asymptomatic is going to come in into the media (ph). And this is really important for college students, if I have a college student returning home right now, I would take that person, I would keep their mask on, and you know, three to four days after they arrive I would get them tested.

WALKER: Dr. Carlos del Rio, appreciate your time this morning. Thank you very much.

DEL RIO: Happy to be with you.

WALKER: This week, Georgia will count ballots cast in the presidential election for a third time. The Trump campaign is requesting a recount as expected after the vote was certified on Friday.

BLACKWELL: CNN's Kevin Liptak is live at the White House.

Kevin, Georgia counted the votes and then audited the count, and now the Trump campaign wants the state to recount the audited votes -- I mean, what is the end game here for the campaign? What do -- what do they want? What's the expectation?

KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, it really seems at this point like they're delaying the inevitable, putting off what will happen in January which is that Joe Biden will become president. They are facing a disappearing legal pathway.

In Georgia, as you said, they've requested a recount of those ballots. The margin in the state is still short, small enough, to meet the threshold for this taxpayer-funded recount. As you mentioned, there was a hand recount of ballots last week. Technically, it was an audit. That did not significantly change the results in Georgia.

This recount will be conducted electronically by scanners, so it will go much quicker. But given what happened last week, there's no expectation that the results in Georgia will change.

Now, these attempts to delay the results come as the president's case is collapsing, the latest was in Pennsylvania. Yesterday, a judge not only denying the request to block certification of votes in the state, but essentially laughing them out of court, saying that their efforts led by Rudy Giuliani were disjointed, calling them strange legal arguments without merit, speculative accusations, and essentially saying that the Trump campaign was trying to disenfranchise millions of voters in Pennsylvania.

Now, Rudy Giuliani had kind of taken the lead on the case there. This is one of the most important ones given how many electoral votes are at stake in Pennsylvania. He made his first courtroom outing it decades last week. It was a shambolic appearance for the former New York City mayor. Clearly the judge saying yesterday he didn't think very highly of it.

As these legal cases fall apart, this was at least the 30th -- more than 30 cases withdrawn or dismissed from the Trump campaign. He is increasingly turning to Republican legislators to try and convince them to delay certification of votes or possibly to switch their electors from Biden to Trump.

He summoned the Republican lawmakers from Michigan to the White House on Friday. They explained to him the process for certifying votes in their state. They came out afterwards to see that they had seen nothing that would change the results in Michigan.

Nevertheless, the Republican National Committee and state Republicans in Michigan are asking for a 14-day delay of certification in that state, as the county audit -- as the state audits votes in the state's largest county, Wayne County.

So, all of this, delaying the results, challenging the legal -- the legal cases in courts, even as they fall apart. It's much more about casting doubt on the selection. Putting Joe Biden in this frame of an illegitimate president, all of this trying to rile up the president's base even as the inevitable will happen, Joe Biden will become president in January.

WALKER: Yeah, I mean, even with these legal challenges, I think you said 30 or so that have failed, are we going to see more -- any more Republicans come out and say, and acknowledge that, you know, the President Joe Biden is the president-elect -- I should say President- elect Joe Biden?


LIPTAK: We did see yet Pat Toomey. He's the Republican senator from Pennsylvania. He praised the judge in that case who he called a conservative Republican. And he congratulated Joe Biden on becoming the president-elect.

But we should note, Pat Toomey is retiring. He doesn't necessarily carry the same weight that other Republicans do in terms of having to appease the president, appease his supporters. We also saw Liz Cheney yesterday come out and say that if Trump can't prove the allegations, he needs to move on and uphold the sanctity of our elections.

But if you're looking for any reason why Republicans might not be speaking out, look no further than the president's Twitter feed. He went after Liz Cheney last night.

BLACKWELL: Kevin Liptak at the White House, thank you so much.

Rebecca Buck, you're up next, CNN political reporter.

Rebecca, good morning to you.

Let's talk about the Biden transition now. And I understand that we're getting more about the cabinet picks and some announcements coming this week.

REBECCA BUCK, CNN POLITICAL REPORETER: That's right. It looks to be a big week for the Biden transition. They are not waiting around for Trump to be satisfied with the election results to placate Trump in any way.

They are moving full steam ahead and, in fact, that is intentional. Initially, the Biden transition and -- president-elect, rather, Joe Biden, had talked about waiting until the balance of power in the Senate was clear, until the Senate runoffs in Georgia had resolved, and they knew whether Republicans or Democrats were going to control the Senate next year when he takes the presidency. But they decided that they were going to move ahead with their cabinet right now, as soon as possible, to send a strong message to President Trump and his supporters and the country that Joe Biden will be president next year. He's continuing to make those preparations.

So, we are going to see some cabinet picks this week. We're expecting them as early as tomorrow to begin. And we could be looking first at treasury secretary, Joe Biden saying he already picked the person he has in mind for this position to nominate, one of the frontrunners we are reporting is Lael Brainard, who is on the board of governors for the Federal Reserve, someone who would be a consensus pick for that position.

That gives a sense of how Joe Biden is going to go about the process. He was a moderate candidate in this election. I think that's probably a hint as to how he's going to govern and be making these types, as well -- Amara and Victor.

WALKER: All right. Rebecca Buck, appreciate it. Thank you very much.

BLACKWELL: Georgia Senator Kelly Loeffler is isolating. She received mixed results from recent coronavirus tests.

WALKER: Yeah. Loeffler tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday, but then on a second test on Saturday, it came back inconclusive. She and fellow Republican Senator David Perdue are both in runoff elections in January, and have held summer rallies together in recent days on.

On Friday, they rode on a bus with Vice President Mike Pence to two campaign stops. And on Thursday, they campaigned with Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton. The audience also not socially distanced, and many people not wearing masks.

BLACKWELL: In 59 days, world leaders will be dealing with a familiar name, but a new administration. How will they react to this new President Biden?

WALKER: Plus, for many, Thanksgiving will be very different this year. We're going to discuss ways to protect your mental health during the holiday season.



WALKER: Right now, there are millions of Americans who are hungry and without food. And the coronavirus pandemic has only made food insecurity worse. Food banks are seeing a dramatic increase in people showing up in need of help.

Joining me now is Kyle Waide, the president and CEO of the Atlanta Community Food Bank.

And, Kyle, I know you're seeing an increase in the number of people who have been coming for assistance. Talk about that increase and also the fact that there's so many people who are showing up at the food banks for the very first time.

KYLE WAIDE, PRESIDENT AND CEO, ATLANTA COMMUNITY FOOD BANK: Well, thanks for having me this morning. We have certainly seen a dramatic increase in demand at our food bank and the same is true for food banks around the country. We estimate that there's about 30 percent more people who are facing food insecurity today than did prior to the pandemic.

And at our food bank, we're distributing 70 percent more food than we did back in March before this all began. We know that communities that were already vulnerable prior to the pandemic are even more vulnerable right now.

But as you said, many of the people who were showing up, 50 percent of them, are coming for the first time in their lives. That's a result of lost jobs, lost employment. They are now where before they were volunteers at these food pantries, they're now in the line getting help so that they can have the food that they need.

WALKER: Wow. What a tough situation to be in. I know a lot of us in the same boat. I have so many friends and family who've been impacted economically in some way, either being laid off or, you know, going through these financial hard times.

You mentioned -- you guys are giving out 70 percent more food. Any concerns of running out at some point? I mean, how are you keeping the pantry stacked?

WAIDE: So we've received tremendous support from private Philanthropy, individual donors, from federal stimulus resources. And that's allowed us to respond very aggressively.

We're well-positioned to continue that activity indefinitely. And we think this is going to be a marathon in terms of the recovery. But that said, we think it's critically important that Congress and the federal government find ways to authorize additional stimulus funding so that we can add to the resources that are available.


We think the demand is only going to grow from here. We see what's happening with the virus around the country. We think the economic consequences of that are going to intensify.

So this is by no means over. We need to continue to be supported, and we need additional stimulus funding to help augment what we're doing with food banks.

WALKER: I'm still struck, Kyle, by what told me about the volunteers who were helping at the food pantries who are now the ones who are standing in line. I can't imagine just how emotional it must be for them to be in this position now.

WAIDE: Well, it's very humbling. You know, every time I go out to a food pantry and meet with the staff there, the volunteers there and the people who are receiving food, I run into someone who -- who just a few months ago felt like they were in a very solid position. Now the rug has been pulled out from under them. And they're trying to scramble to keep their family together.

That's particularly painful right now during the holidays when we're coming together to be thankful and to be with family, to have fellowship, and so, it's really important that our food bank and the entire community come together, put our arms around our neighbors who are struggling now.

WALKER: Yeah. The holidays usually a tough time for a lot of people in general. Then you put the coronavirus pandemic on it, and on top of the financial difficulties, and it's exacerbating a lot of the struggles.

Appreciate you joining us, Kyle Waide. Thank you for your time.

WAIDE: Thanks for having me.

BLACKWELL: So President Trump participated in his final G20 summit yesterday. But his attention was focused on the election results. The meeting starts at 8:00, and 8:13 you start tweeting. Are you really paying attention, Mr. President?



WALKER: President Trump touted the U.S.' response to the coronavirus during his last G20 summit. But about two hours after the start of the opening session that's virtual this year, he skipped on a session on pandemic preparedness to go golfing. President Trump has not commented on the surge in cases in the U.S. over the last week, but he did find time to blast the media.

BLACKWELL: Yeah. He falsely claimed that the news media was not covering how the pandemic rapidly spread outside of the U.S. and you know this is not true. CNN and most other news sources have regularly covered the pandemic's impact around the world.

Let's bring in "Time" magazine contributor and CNN global affairs analyst Kim Dozier.

Kim, good morning to you.

Let's start there. The bold hypocrisy from the president who blames the media for not having a conversation about the global impact of COVID-19 and when the global leaders are having that conversation, he is on the golf course.

KIM DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, good to be you with, Victor and Amara. What this shows world leaders is how little he is focused on the job that he is still doing through the end of January. And yes, it's an insult, but at the same time, many of the diplomats I've spoken to are relieved that they're about to get a change in the Oval Office. They're already looking forward which is why despite President Trump's insistence on recounting votes. They are already reaching out to vice president and President-elect Biden.

One of them even complained to me that Biden won't discuss future foreign policy saying there could only be one president at a time. And foreign leaders are good and ready for him to be on the job.

BLACKWELL: Let's talk about that move forward because what it will not be -- although some people voted for the president-elect expecting a return to normal. Anthony Blinken, his national security adviser for a long time, says that it's not like you can treat the Trump administration like some severable anomaly. This is -- this is a new normal. Explain how and why this just will not be going back to Jnuary 19th, 2017.

DOZIER: Well, the major thing that's going to change is tone. Biden is known for his relationship with a number of world leaders that has stretched over decades. But also his outreach has been toward compromise, cooperation, let's have behind-the-scenes -- as I understand it -- sort of folksy, down-to-earth chats with people to reach common ground, with someone who is very informed on the issues already.

But there were some things that the Trump administration has done that are going to tie his hands. Things like they pulled out of the Trans Pacific Partnership which was going to be a trade agreement with U.S. allies across the Pacific, that was supposed to help offset China's predatory trade practices.

The problem is, China has just now minted one of the largest free trade agreements in the world with its regional partners, including Australia and New Zealand, who are U.S. allies. That is going to make it harder for Biden to put the screws on China because now there's going to be this relationship that makes it a lot easier for those countries to trade amongst each other and cut the U.S. out.

BLACKWELL: For so much of the talk of being tough on China, the abdication from the U.S. to back away from the TPP put together the largest trading bloc in the world, as you said, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, as well.


And that's going to be something, as you said, that the president- elect will have to deal with. Let's talk North Korea, as well. Pre- Trump administration, the Obama strategy was strategic patience. But the engagement of Kim now through the summits between President Trump and Kim Jong-un, and Kim traveling to Russia and to -- to South Korea and to China, as well, what -- how will that impact what Kim will accept moving forward from a Biden administration, strategic patience seems like it will be difficult to continue.

DOZIER: Strategic patience is going to be tough, especially when Kim now has up to a dozen weapons thought to be able to reach major cities in the United States. And he has this understanding from one of the first summits with Trump that the U.S. and North Korea have an agreement whereby North Korea will denuclearize if the U.S. denuclearizes. Now, that's not what the U.S. believes it agreed to. But because the wording was so vague and because of some of the

statements that Trump made, that has created expectations in Pyongyang that now won't be matched by this coming administration. That's going to make it much harder to reset. And traditionally one of the major countries that the U.S. has relied on to make North Korea heel is China. And right now, Biden's coming in with not a lot of leverage to get Beijing to do something like that.

BLACKWELL: One of the immeasurable contributions, I'll put that way, from the Trump administration has been the use of fake news, that phrasing. We've heard it from Erdogan in Turkey, from Assad in Syria, we've heard from Duterte in the Philippines, to deny facts, to suppress the media.

Discuss if you would the rhetorical change globally that we're seeing at the end of a Trump administration.

DOZIER: Well, one of the things you're going to see which we haven't seen so much is more what's called messaging discipline. What comes out of the Oval Office is most likely now going to match what's coming out of the Pentagon, CIA, the State Department.

Whereas with the Trump administration, many of the officials had been afraid to speak publicly because they'll go out and get press conference with what they think is the policy, and then President Trump will speak to someone from a news outlet, et cetera, change his mind, and tweet something that makes that one of his own officials look ridiculous.

Now, that's not going to happen like it used to. We'll be back to trying to find the seam between what we've heard from the White House and the State Department. It will be very difficult to see who's disagreeing with whom.

That said, President Trump is not going to go away, and his movement and also all of the media outlets that parrot or support what he's saying, that sort of echo chamber is going to continue with a global footprint.

So, across the world, I think you're still going to have foreign leaders, dictators able to say, well, America's just not the place it used to be.

BLACKWELL: Kim Dozier, always enjoy the conversation. Thank you so much. Enjoy this Sunday.

DOZIER: Thank you.


WALKER: And be sure to watch an all-new episode of the CNN original series "FIRST LADIES." This week highlights the life of Hillary Rodham Clinton. Here's a preview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, FORMER FIRST LADY: Over the years we've influenced each other. We have a wonderful relationship going back to our days in law school.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The couple met at Yale where Hillary was one of only 27 female students in a class of 235.

GAIL SHEEHY, AUTHOR, "HILLARY'S CHOICE": There was this tall, handsome, Southern man with Elvis sideburns and hickey boots who would follow her after classes, kind of panting at the back of her neck. Couldn't wait to get to know her.

KATE ANDERSEN BROWER, AUTHOR, "FIRST WOMEN": He would tell friends she's the most captivating, compelling person I've ever met.

SUSAN BORDO, AUTHOR, "THE INTRODUCTION OF HILLARY CLINTON": He had never been with a woman who was his intellectual equal, and I think that excited Bll enormously.


WALKER: And "First Ladies" airs tonight at 10:00 p.m.



BLACKWELL: Well, as this pandemic continues, the thought of celebrating the holidays alone or at least without family, we know that that can cause anxiety and depression for a lot of people.

WALKER: That's right.

And here is psychiatrist and former president of the American Medical Association, Dr. Patrice Harris.

Thank you so much for joining us.

And I think there is a topic that we really should be talking about. Emotions are going to be running high for a lot of people this holiday season. A lot of people alone feeling lonely, unable to see their loved ones or their close friends.

How should we be coping? What are the best ways to do so?

DR. PATRICE HARRIS, FORMER PRESIDENT, AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION: Well, thank you for having me, and thank you for this topic. We so often neglect mental health and our psychological health, and it's such an important part of our overall health.

And so, the first thing we want to make sure is that we give ourselves the grace and the space to feel whatever we are feeling, loneliness, sadness, anxiety, and then remember self-care. We are not hopeless. We should call on our usual coping skills, whether that be prayer, yoga, meditation. We should make sure we're getting plenty of physical activity, at least 15 minutes a day. And we should try to make sure we're getting enough sleep and eating

as healthily as we can, although this week we'll give ourselves a pass for our Thanksgiving Day meal. Next week -- those are just a few things.

We have to remember self-care. By the way, when we are no longer coping well, we are not fulfilling our role, obligations, there is no shame in seeking professional help. In fact, that's the ultimate in self-care.

BLACKWELL: Yes. My favorite certainly helps me.

Listen, you know that O.J. song, Dr. Harris, "Christmas just ain't Christmas without the one you love"?


BLACKWELL: You know, that's a romantic reverence. But in a familial way, does it help to pull out the tree and the ornaments with all the memories, to try to create an environment for yourself and then face the difficulty of doing it alone? I wonder, is there any general advice for make it feel like Christmas even though you're not going to have the people that you love there with you?

HARRIS: You know, I think so. Many of our routines have been disrupted, especially our holiday routines. But again, here's an opportunity to develop new routines. And absolutely pull out those decorations. Pull out that tree, decorate.

Do it in new ways, though. Make sure, though, that you stay connected with family and friends. We have technology today, right? We have the old-fashioned telephone if you don't have a data plan.

So make plans. Schedule a time where folks can be together either on Zoom or conference call. Plan to make the favorite mac and cheese, everyone do their own version of mac and cheese.

So, absolutely, I think there will be new routines and new ways to celebrate this year, but we can do that. And we do that in these new ways see that next year, we can all be together again.

WALKER: Yes. That is the hope. Fingers crossed. I don't know if you noticed this, Doctor, or you, Victor, driving around and talking to friends -- my husband and I were having this debate, when to put up the Christmas tree or the holiday decor. And a lot of people are already doing it, because, usually, it's after Thanksgiving. And my tree is already up, and I think it's because we've been feeling so down, we just want to feel better again. And I think that lifts a lot of people's spirits.

Lastly, Dr. Patrice, if you could talk about the psychological toll in general this year, this entire year has put on us. You know, just anecdotally, talking with friends and co-workers, I feel like as well as so much pressure now on marriages and relationships. You know, I feel like 2020 was a year where we've learned a lot about who we are, especially under these strained circumstances. HARRIS: 2020 has been a year that has put increased pressure on us

all. And on top of that, again, the pandemic, the social unrest, the police violence, on top of that, we don't have our usual modes of escape, right. Usually we could do things, we could travel, we could escape, many of us are in our homes together, and it's important to talk, to be open, again, to give ourselves grace and space to be honest.

But you know what? Also, not to be perfect. One of my favorite memories is the mom who early in the pandemic said, you know what, I can't do this all. I can't be the perfect mom, the perfect teacher, the perfect employee.

So we have to make sure that we're having open, candid conversations, setting boundaries, and again, getting help when we need it.

And yes, let's put the tree up early. Let's celebrate Hanukkah early. Let's do all of the things, any little thing that brings us joy in the moment.

BLACKWELL: Dr. Patrice Harris, thank you so much for being with us this morning. I haven't decided yet if I'm putting the tree up --

WALKER: Really?

BLACKWELL: Putting the whole thing up for myself and taking it down alone a month later -- I just -- I don't know.


I will consider it more now that you've given that good advice. Thanks so much, Doctor.

HARRIS: Thank you for having me.

BLACKWELL: We'll be right back.


WALKER: A holiday tradition returned to New York city with a few changes.

BLACKWELL: The ice skating rink at Rockefeller Center opened yesterday with some restrictions because of COVID-19. Visitors now will have to undergo health screenings and wear masks the entire time. This year's ticket also comes with a limit of 50 minutes.

Also, a Thanksgiving gift from Zoom. They're lifting their 40 -minute time limit on video calls for the holiday.

WALKER: That's nice. In a tweet, the company said they'd offer the unlimited meetings globally on Thanksgiving Day, so family gatherings are not cut short.


Are you putting up the tree? Have you decided?

BLACKWELL: I still haven't decided. Listen, I started by lighting a Christmas tree scented candle hoping it would put me in the mood. I'm trying to get there. I'm trying to get there, Amara.

WALKER: OK. Well, doing it by yourself, I mean, the labor involved, I get it. I wouldn't want to do it by myself.

BLACKWELL: It's a lot.

WALKER: Yeah. Thanks for joining us this morning. Enjoy your holiday.

BLACKWELL: "INSIDE POLITICS" with Dana Bash is up next. Happy Thanksgiving.