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New Day Sunday

U.S. Hospitalizations Hit Record Saturday; Colorado Governor And Spouse Test Positive; Biden And Harris To Get First Presidential Daily Brief Monday; Trump's Legal Losses Pile Up; Family Hit By COVID- 19 Raising Awareness; Progressives Oppose New Role For Biden's Chief Of Staff; College Students Forced To Return Home When Campuses Close; Mysterious Monolith Vanishes From Utah Desert; America's Hunger Crisis. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired November 29, 2020 - 05:00   ET





UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: COVID-19 hospitalizations reaching record highs.

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Essentially the entire America is a hot spot.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If we don't take it seriously, our hospitals will be overwhelmed within a matter of weeks.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Case after case brought forward by the president and his allies being thrown out of courts.

RONNA MCDANIEL, RNC CHAIR: Trust us, we're fighting. We're looking at every legal avenue.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: An historic moment for college football, Vanderbilt University Sarah Fuller breaking down barriers with an unprecedented kickoff.

SARAH FULLER, VANDERBILT COMMODORES KICKER: I just want to tell all the girls out there that you can do anything you set your mind to.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is NEW DAY WEEKEND with Victor Blackwell and Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. A live look at LAX. It may not look busy now. But it certainly will be, because today is expected to be one of the busiest days for travel during the pandemic. This is a new test for the U.S., which is already staring down a worsening coronavirus surge. CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. We're talking about a record number of

people here in this country who are now battling COVID-19 in the hospital right now. CNN's Polo Sandoval is tracking all of this.

We know vaccines are the hope that's on the horizon. But there's so much concern about what is to come while we wait.

What are you hearing?

And good morning.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That hope, good morning to you, Christi. That hope is certainly on the horizon of the vaccine, that we're slowly getting there. However, we're not there yet. It's still not being distributed, not approved by the FDA.

So the concern this morning on what is likely to be one of the busiest travel days of the year is we may see a repeat of last Wednesday, when we saw images of airports across the country, crowds not able to practice social distancing.

Remember, just over a million people flew the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. And now those people have to go home.


SANDOVAL (voice-over): With the Thanksgiving week drawing to an end, experts are warning the COVID-19 pandemic will likely get much worse in the coming weeks before a possible vaccine begins to offer some relief.

U.S. COVID hospitalizations hit an all-time record on Saturday, as more than 91,000 Americans are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, according to the COVID Tracking Project. Saturday is the second time there have been over 90,000 Americans hospitalized with COVID. Thursday was the first.

DR. BARBARA FERRER, LOS ANGELES COUNTY PUBLIC HEALTH DIRECTOR: We are continuing to see a high number of daily new cases and an alarming increase in the number of people currently hospitalized with COVID-19. This is and remains a serious cause for concern.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): In California, L.A. County will implement tighter restrictions. On Saturday, the U.S. added over 100,000 new COVID-19 cases, marking the 26th consecutive day the U.S. has topped that benchmark, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The U.S. has now surpassed 13 million coronavirus cases. Four million new cases came in the month of November alone. The CDC projecting up to 320,000 COVID deaths by December 19th.

Now the good news. The FAA announced the first mass air shipment of COVID-19 vaccine. CDC advisers will be voting December 1st on who gets the vaccine first. Most likely health care workers in high risk populations will get priority to receive vaccines when one is available, says Dr. Esther Choo, a professor of emergency medicine at Oregon Health and Science University.

As far as when children get the vaccine?

DR. ESTHER CHOO, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: That's a phase three thing most likely. Children for the most part have been doing well in the pandemic. They're on the list but we're going to try to focus on older folks and those with multiple comorbidities first.


SANDOVAL: Just last night we learned of another U.S. governor who tested positive for the virus. Certainly speaks to the fact that nobody is immune to this, at least not at this point here. Authorities confirming that the Colorado governor Jared Polis tested positive in a statement released by his office yesterday that reads, "This evening the governor and first gentleman learned they have tested positive for COVID-19."

The statement went out to say both are feeling well and are in isolation and are asymptomatic. But the concern is anybody can get sick, especially on one of the busiest travel days of the year. The CDC said, by traveling, there's a higher chance of not only getting but potentially spreading COVID-19.

BLACKWELL: Polo, thank you.


PAUL: Thank you, Polo.

The Pennsylvania supreme court has dealt another blow to Republicans and their legal fight to overturn the election.

BLACKWELL: CNN's Kevin Liptak is at the White House and joins us now.

Kevin ,the court said that the GOP could not even reconfigure the complaints and try again. Tell us about the decision and what we should expect to see next.

KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN WHITE HOUSE PRODUCER: Well, this was a case brought by a Republican representative in Pennsylvania, essentially trying to throw out absentee ballots in the state.

The supreme court threw that out. It was just the latest legal setback for the president. Defeat after defeat for him as his legal case crumbles. But none of this seems to be stopping him from lobbing false claims about fraudulent voting, illegal voting.

He said yesterday that his case in Wisconsin is based on thousands of illegal votes. That's despite a recount that he paid $3 million for there, coming back with 132 votes for Joe Biden.

He says in Pennsylvania his case is about fraud, despite the fact his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, told a judge there, this case is not about fraud. And two courts in that state throwing out the Trump claims. The president has kept a pretty low profile this weekend. He's up at

Camp David. But behind the scenes, beneath the surface, this administration is rushing to complete a series of tasks as the president's term winds down.

Taken individually, they might not seem like all that big a deal. But taken together, this really paints a picture of an administration in a frenzied final stretch to cement the president's actions, to make them permanent, in many ways to try to box Joe Biden in as he takes office in January.

And to tick through several of them, in Iraq and Afghanistan, the president announcing troop withdrawals, setting up in a new dynamic in war zones for the president-elect to assume when he comes into office.

And China and Iran, threatening new sanctions on those countries, effectively stymieing any attempt by the Biden administration when they come into office.

On the environment, opening up drilling leases in Alaska, rolling back protections for migratory birds.

At the Treasury, pulling back funds for a Federal Reserve lending program that will be hard to get back when Biden takes office.

At the Justice Department, rushing to complete these federal executions, five scheduled between now and when the president leaves office in January.

At the Department of Homeland Security, cementing a number of immigration actions, like making the citizenship test harder for people who are trying to become American citizens, rushing to complete the president's border wall.

Federal workers, stripping some protections for federal workers that had been in place for decades, now no longer in place.

Of course, pardons. Last week we saw the president pardon his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn. Now we're told there's been a rush of lobbying for pardons from the president as he completes his term.

So all of this, an indication that the president, his advisers and cabinet secretaries are fully aware his term is ending soon, despite the claims the election was stolen from him.

PAUL: Kevin Liptak, appreciate it. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Despite the president's refusal to concede, the transition to the Biden presidency is moving forward. Tomorrow Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will receive their first presidential daily briefing.

PAUL: In the meantime, the president-elect is bolstering his COVID-19 advisory team. CNN's M.J. Lee has the latest.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) M.J. LEE, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's been a relatively quiet weekend here in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, where President-Elect Joe Biden has been spending his Thanksgiving weekend.

But the Biden transition team did announce some additional members serving on its COVID-19 advisory board. One name is Jill Jim, a member of the Navajo Nation, who also serves as the executive director of the Navajo Nation's Department of Health.

This is noteworthy is because this is a community that has been especially hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, some 8,600 cases for every 100,000 people.

This is a community that has had to go on lockdown through around December 6th. We do expect a pretty busy week coming ahead for the Biden transition team.

On Monday, Biden expected to receive his first presidential daily briefing since he became president-elect. He is also expected to announce some members of his economic team. One of those names could be Janet Yellen, who is expected to serve as his Treasury Secretary. She is the former Federal Reserve chairwoman.


LEE: We also should note that even though Biden has announced some members of his national security team so far, there have been some omissions like who is going to be named the CIA director and who is going to serve as his Defense Secretary. So those are some announcements that could also be coming in the weeks to come. Back to you.

PAUL: M.J., thank you so much.

Errol Louis is with us, CNN political commentator and host of the "You Decide" podcast.

Good morning.


PAUL: We heard about things we know Joe Biden is doing this coming week, getting his COVID advisory board together. He's expected to name some on his economic team.

There's an article in "The New York Times," talking about how some of the top posts he's looking at have perhaps some questionable links to funds that -- who aided funds who invested in government contractors, to being linked to working for corporate clients.

What transparency and ethics obstacles might he be facing, depending on who he puts at the head of boards?

LOUIS: I don't know if it will be obstacles. I think it's a good warning to the transition team that they're going to get the same kind of scrutiny they wanted applied to their predecessor. You can't have it both ways. You can't call the Trump administration

corrupt -- and they had a lot of ethical problems in that administration -- and then expect to skate by.

And while the claims against Biden himself are, particularly his son, were overblown and over the top and voters rejected all that, voters do not reject the idea of holding administrations accountable and making sure that all of the ties are straight.

And let's be clear. You can't raise as much money as the Democrats raised for this campaign and not have a long list of favor seekers, who are going to pick up the phone and say, I'd like to be on a commission or a panel on a board.

Even if it's going to -- especially if it's going to advantage my industry or my company. Yes, the ethics watchdogs do not get the next four years off by any means. I think this is the first indication that the transition and the incoming administration are going to have to be mindful of that.

PAUL: Who we surround ourselves with matters, particularly in politics. We're seeing that also, obviously, still, in the President Trump era, more than 30 legal actions we know from the Trump campaign that have been filed, have gone obviously south for him.

But the front page of "The Washington Post" is suggesting that there is somewhat of a feeding frenzy in the White House right now when it comes to who supports the president. Listen to this.

It is written, "However clear-eyed Trump's aides may have been about the loss to President-Elect Joe Biden, many of them nonetheless indulged their boss and encouraged him to keep fighting with legal appeals.

"They were happy to scratch his itch. If he thinks he's won, it's like, 'Shh, we won't tell him.'"

So it's not just the time. It's not just the interference or at least the delay in the transition process that this has -- these legal actions the president has taken in Wisconsin and otherwise regarding the election and what it's gone to.

But even the money, CNN reporting it cost $3 million for one of the Wisconsin recounts. When we hear reports like this, about what people are saying to him in his circle and encouraging him, what is the residual political effect, not just for those in the White House right now but on the broader scale with the GOP?

LOUIS: Yes. The broader questions are quite disturbing. I mean, it's interesting; some of "The Emperor's New Clothes" quality of what's going on inside the White House. And I'm sure there will be interesting accounts of that.

Much more important are the Republicans who are willing to go along with this. And if the outrageous opportunity to try and overturn and steal the election had presented itself, it's not clear they weren't going to go along with it.

The people who sat on their hands and kept their mouth shut while one frivolous junk lawsuit after another, one false legal claim after another was filed in courts from coast to coast, the people who sat and watched that happen have indicated, in my opinion, that, if there was some legitimate opportunity, if it looked like there was some opportunity to steal the election, they would have been fine with that.

That's really disturbing. No candidate should ever think they can get away with what this campaign tried to do as far as disenfranchising almost 7 million votes in Pennsylvania, slapped down by Republican judges, who, thankfully did their duty.

But the fact that it was attempted or there were sitting senators, perfectly fine with going along with the charade, it doesn't speak well of the individuals. It doesn't speak well of the resiliency of our process.

We have to make sure this is never attempted again. What the president has talked about and continues to talk about is absolutely outrageous.


LOUIS: And it's got to be denounced at every turn.


PAUL: And it may be showing up in Georgia. Listen quickly to Ronna McDaniel when she was in Georgia yesterday. This is an exchange with Republicans.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How are we going to use money and work when it's already decided?

MCDANIEL: It's not decided. This is the key --


MCDANIEL: It's not decided.

If you lose your faith and you don't vote and people walk away, that will decide it. So we have to work hard, trust us, we're fighting, we're looking at every legal avenue.


PAUL: They're talking about the Georgia runoff there for the Senate seats on January 5th. We know President Trump is going to Georgia.

How does he balance trying to tell people, "Yes, it was rigged but we need your vote"?

LOUIS: I will confidently predict that what could be one of the last public campaign rallies of President Trump's career is going to be focused on him and not on the importance of making sure that people come out to vote.

I think if he denounces the process as flawed and broken, all of the Republicans who run that system in Georgia, by the way, and who are trying to turn out the vote for the January 5th special election, are going to be harmed.

And will that bother the president?

I don't think it's going to be in his top three concerns. I think it's going to be all about him and I think it's not going to necessarily work to the benefit of the Senate candidates. They're going to have to work extra hard to overcome what the president is probably going to do.

PAUL: Errol Louis, good to see you this morning and thanks for getting up extra early for us?

LOUIS: You got it. Thank you.

PAUL: And do not miss "STATE OF THE UNION" today at 9:00 am. Jake Tapper is talking to Admiral Brett Giroir and Missouri senator Roy Blunt.

BLACKWELL: Seven members of one family in Minnesota all contracted COVID-19 and they were shocked by the diagnosis.



KIRSTIN JOHNSON-NIXON, COVID-19 SURVIVOR: I thought, how could this happen to us?

We are doing all the right things.

BLACKWELL (voice-over): And now they vowed to educate the hardest hit communities about this disease so others will not share that experience.


PAUL: Also it's like something out of a sci-fi movie, an alien-like monolith discovered in Utah has mysteriously disappeared.





PAUL: A family in Minnesota is giving thanks this holiday weekend for surviving a COVID-19 outbreak that really ripped through their home. BLACKWELL: All seven family members caught the virus at the start of

the pandemic. Some are still suffering some effects. Now they're working to warn others, you, now about just how dangerous COVID is. Adrienne Broaddus has the story.


ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When Charles and Kirstin Johnson-Nixon pledged for better or worse, the Minneapolis couple didn't know where life would lead.


BROADDUS (voice-over): -- and they had no idea the coronavirus --

K. JOHNSON-NIXON: I've had pneumonia before, I didn't feel what I felt with COVID.

BROADDUS (voice-over): -- would write life's most painful chapter.

CHARLES JOHNSON-NIXON: My father-in-law tested positive and was hospitalized. My mother-in-law tested positive and was hospitalized. My wife and I tested positive.

K. JOHNSON-NIXON: I'm a Black woman, I am overweight, I have some underlying issues. But I thought how could this happen, you know, to us? We are doing all the right things.

BROADDUS (voice-over): The virus attacked everyone in their family including the couple's three boys. And while recovering, this family received a call they hoped would never happen.

K. JOHNSON-NIXON: I felt hopeless --

BROADDUS (voice-over): At this hospital, Kirstin's father William was placed on a ventilator.

CALEB JOHNSON-NIXON, COVID-19 SURVIVOR: My grandpa was in the hospital for 50 days. The doctors kept saying that when a person over the age of 80 years old went on a ventilator, they usually didn't come off.

BROADDUS (voice-over): According to the COVID Tracking Project, Black people in the U.S. are dying at more than double the rate of white people. Native Americans and Latinos are also dying at significantly higher rates than whites and Asian Americans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Apart from our friends --

BROADDUS (voice-over): Charles feared he wouldn't be around to watch his kids grow up or see them play another lacrosse game.

CHARLES JOHNSON-NIXON: That for me was my biggest fear. You know, I'm -- I lost my father when I was young and one of my goals when I became a father was to make sure that I was going to be here for my kids.

And the idea that this thing could turn on me and take me away from them was the hardest thing to deal with.

God kept me here for my boys and got me through this.

BROADDUS (voice-over): So in this season of Thanksgiving --

CHARLES JOHNSON-NIXON: -- you can cut the apples when we get home.

BROADDUS (voice-over): -- the Johnson-Nixon family overflows with gratitude.


K. JOHNSON-NIXON: I'm also thankful that my parents are alive.

BROADDUS (voice-over): Six months have passed since Kirstin wrapped her arms --

K. JOHNSON-NIXON: It's hard not to hug him --

BROADDUS (voice-over): -- around her father.

K. JOHNSON-NIXON: -- or to kiss him.

BROADDUS (voice-over): He still needs oxygen.

K. JOHNSON-NIXON: I'm glad I still get to, you know, hug and kiss these guys, so.


BROADDUS (voice-over): Charles and Kirstin say for better or worse, their work isn't done.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The cough, loss of appetite --

BROADDUS (voice-over): They're speaking on panels and vow to educate the hardest-hit communities about a virus that changed their lives.

K. JOHNSON-NIXON: It's important to wear your mask, to wash your hands.

CHARLES JOHNSON-NIXON: It makes you want to yell out and be on a mission to bring awareness to people and say, hey, we have to take this serious because we're already dealing with all the other problems that we have to deal with in being Black in this country.

2020 will be gone soon, thank God.


CHARLES JOHNSON-NIXON: 2021, hopefully, will -- will give everyone the opportunity to rethink how they do things, change how they do things if they need to.


BLACKWELL: Our thanks to Adrienne for that report.

PAUL: Yes.

So a lot of college kids might be home for Thanksgiving and not returning to campus after the break. We're going to talk to one family, who prepared for an extended visit quite appropriately. Stay close.

BLACKWELL: And overnight, British actor David Prowse, who played Darth Vader in the original "Star Wars" trilogy, died at the age of 85. We'll have more on his life coming up later this hour.




BLACKWELL: Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar are backing a petition to stop President-Elect Biden from nominating his former chief of staff to run for the -- to run, I should say, the Office of Management and Budget.

So far, a lot of the president-elect's nominees have been confirmed by the Senate in the past. They're also largely considered experts in their respected fields.

Our next guest writes, "By turning to experienced government officials, Biden is trying to reassure the American people, along with our allies, that the country is in safe hands during this moment of crisis."

CNN Political Analyst, Julian Zelizer wrote that, he's a historian and a professor at punitive, also author of the book, "Burning Down the House: Newt Gingrich, the Fall of a Speaker and the Rise of the New Republican Party."

Julian, good morning to you.


BLACKWELL: Let's start here because I know, back at the start of the Trump administration you and I had a conversation on air about how each president compensates for a perceived deficit in the previous president, not so much in the rhetoric or how they sell themselves to the American people.

But you can point out what one president brings that the previous president did not. You make your point in your new op-ed, what is it the Biden president brings that the Trump administration did not have?

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Deep experience and expertise. The Trump administration became the epitome of the outsider running government with people who weren't the best equipped to handle the situations that we have. And I think what President-Elect Biden is trying to show is that he

himself brings the kind of deep experience we haven't had since George H.W. Bush and Lyndon Johnson before him and also someone who will respect the value of expertise, people who have worked in their areas of policy. He's bringing all that to the table.

BLACKWELL: That expertise has seen some pushback. We heard from Senator Marco Rubio in a tweet after a few of the president-elect's nominees were announced.

"Biden's cabinet picks went to Ivy League schools, have strong resumes, attend all the right conferences and will be polite and orderly caretakers of America's decline."

He says, "I support American greatness."

President Trump appointed a Director of National Intelligence who had no intelligence experience, a secretary of state with no diplomatic experience. Betsy DeVos as well, judicial nominees who never tried a case.

When you read this from Senator Rubio, what do you deduce that reaction is about?

Is it about the experience or something else?

ZELIZER: Well, I think it's a familiar Republican refrain about the elitism of the Democratic Party. This has been an argument we've heard for years.

Obviously President Trump himself went to an Ivy League school. So that doesn't necessarily bear out.

But I think the arguments he's making don't resonate with a lot of people. I think we go to physicians who know how to treat our bodies. We go to auto mechanics who know how to fix our cars. There's an argument to be made that some of the people handling policy in government should know how the institutions work.

BLACKWELL: More than the president going to Wharton School of Business, Mnuchin went to Yale, Esper went to Harvard, Barr to Columbia, Pompeo to West Point and Harvard Law, Chao to Harvard, Navarro at the White House, Harvard, Azar to Dartmouth and Yale. And the list goes on and on.

So if you're pointing out one cabinet Ivy League degrees, you should check the one that's already there.

There's also pushback from Democrats as well. I talked about what Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, their petition, Mike Morell getting pushback for his defense of interrogation methods. He could be backed as CIA director.

Some of the more progressives say that that experience and the policies that came out of it are exactly what's wrong with the party and, in some respects, the country. ZELIZER: Well, I think those are two of the pertinent criticisms that

the Biden administration will have to deal with; one, with experience, often comes the kind of group mentality that keeps you making the same mistakes over and over.

And he'll have to make sure his group doesn't have that kind of group think. And B, the diversity of your cabinet really matters, particularly after the last four years. So I think there's many picks to be made and President-Elect Biden will have to be cognizant that the cabinet looks like the United States, as he has promised throughout his campaign.

BLACKWELL: We heard from House Majority Whip James Clyburn that, so far as it relates to Black nominees, he's not satisfied. We'll see if that changes as we get more announcements in the coming week. Julian, thank you so much.

ZELIZER: Thank you.

PAUL: About 6 million people traveled by air here in the U.S. ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday. And a lot of them were college students. They had to leave school. Campuses closed for the semester due to the pandemic.

And then the families had to figure out how to navigate an unfamiliar situation this time around. CNN's Bianna Golodryga spoke to one student who is taking extra precautions.


BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): University of Michigan sophomore Elliot Boz took an extra test before leaving campus and reuniting with his family in San Mateo, California, for Thanksgiving. A negative COVID test.

We first met Elliot on campus last week.

ELLIOT BOZ, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN STUDENT: My family's at home and, you know, grandparents are back, so I want to make sure that -- you know, that I'm cleared before I come back home.


GOLODRYGA (voice-over): Despite a late plea from the CDC advising people to stay put, he's one of the hundreds of thousands of college students who traveled home for the holiday, because staying put wasn't an option.

The University of Michigan and many other universities nationwide ended all in-person classes for the semester this week.

E. BOZ: I think everybody's kind of in the same situation. I'm not unique in any way in that sense. It's just an extra level of thoughtfulness. So I had to go out of my way, get the test, be diligent about, you know, wearing a mask, washing my hands and so on. GOLODRYGA (voice-over): These are the scenes health experts desperately wanted to avoid, some 4.8 million travelers passing through TSA checkpoints since the CDC guidance came out last week.

E. BOZ: It's pretty tough because I think students kind of around the country are -- are -- might be thinking differently about this and everybody wants to see their family. So I think in terms of travel, everybody is trying to do their best about how to travel safely.

GOLODRYGA (voice-over): Universities across the country set their own COVID testing protocol before students left campus. There are no federal guidelines in place, leaving health officials frustrated.

A. DAVID PALTIEL, PROFESSOR, YALE SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Young, asymptomatic individuals, the so-called silent spreaders, are fueling the epidemic in this country and so colleges have a responsibility to ensure that they don't unwittingly unleash ticking time bombs into the nation's airports, train stations and Thanksgiving dining tables.

GOLODRYGA (voice-over): Elliot's dad, Mike, says the family is comfortable with his son's decision to come home.

MIKE BOZ, ELLIOT'S FATHER: He is a responsible kid and so he got tested and so that alleviates the concerns. So, you know, overall I -- there is -- there is always a risk, but -- but the risk is minimized as much as possible.

GOLODRYGA (voice-over): Elliot's parents and his 81-year-old grandparents will be together this Thanksgiving, but his older brother, Shura, a college senior in Los Angeles, is not coming home from school.

GOLODRYGA (on camera): So what is this Thanksgiving going to be like for you. I bet a little bittersweet having your younger son home but, obviously, the full family can't be together.

M. BOZ: It's going to be a -- kind of a partial family. We had other -- other family members who were wanting to come and they're not coming anymore because of the spike in COVID. And so it's not just -- just my older son, it's other family members.

GOLODRYGA (voice over): It's exactly the kind of holiday precautions Dr. Fauci and other experts are pleading with Americans to make.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: To the extent possible, keep the gatherings, the indoor gatherings, as small as you possibly can. We all know how difficult that is because this is such a beautiful, traditional holiday. But by making that sacrifice, you're going to be -- prevent people from getting infected.

GOLODRYGA (voice-over): Sound advice that will extend far beyond Thanksgiving for families with college students home for the rest of the year.

E. BOZ: In terms of the grandparents, it's really being thoughtful about when I see them and how I see them, talking with them, sitting apart, you know, or when giving them a hug, you know, just being thoughtful.

GOLODRYGA (voice-over): Bianna Golodryga, CNN, New York.


BLACKWELL: So I'm not the most passionate football fan but I understand why this is a bad thing. A team is heading into a big game but they don't have a quarterback. That's what the Denver Broncos are dealing with today. Find out why -- next.





PAUL: A monolith discovered in a remote Utah desert last week apparently has become an international hit because of the history surrounding it. Nobody knows who put it there or why.

They've been wondering, is it an alien, was it an artist?

Now the mystery is, who removed it?

BLACKWELL: The people at the Public Safety Department in Utah say it was installed illegally and that it was removed by, as they describe this, "an unknown party" sometime Friday night. They insist they did not take this down. OK.


So the Denver Broncos aren't going to have a quarterback on the roster today when they face the New Orleans Saints.

What do you do with that?


CAROLYN MANNO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: A lot of college football on Saturday. But Vanderbilt's Sarah Fuller may have been the highlight. She became the first woman to play in a Power 5 conference football game.

Fuller's kickoff to start the second half was the only time that she got on the field as the Commodores were shut out by Missouri 41-0. Fuller got her shot at football after several players were ruled out due to COVID-19 contact tracing. And she certainly made the most of her opportunity.


FULLER: Honestly, it's just so exciting. The fact that I can represent the little girls out there who have wanted to do this or thought about playing football or any sport, really. It encourages them to be able to step out and do something big like this. It's awesome.

I just want to tell all the girls out there that you can do anything you set your mind to. Like you really can. If you have that mentality all the way through, you can do big things.


MANNO: And lastly for you this morning, Mike Tyson back in the ring for the first time in 15 years, taking on Roy Jones Jr. in L.A. Both former champions showing flashes of their younger selves during the eight-round exhibition.


MANNO: But the bout ending in a draw. The 54-year old says he would be open to doing something similar again.

How's that for some post Thanksgiving motivation?

54 and looks pretty good.

BLACKWELL: I woke up to the tweets about a draw? Really?

A draw?

Yes. He did look great. He got right back into shape. Carolyn, thank you so much.

PAUL: Thanks, Carolyn.

So a new season of "THIS IS LIFE" with Lisa Ling starts tonight. You're going to see prep school students visit a prison and they form some unlikely bonds. Here's a preview.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I bet you every man in blue here has been told the same thing here: be a man, be a man, be a man. We're taught this through so much multigenerational dysfunction.

My dad beat into me not to cry, a grown man hitting a kid. Violence was the answer to everything at that time. And I look at the youth and like, you guys should not be learning that kind of lesson. You guys don't need that.

It took coming to prison for me to understand that a man is loving, a man is understanding. A man treasures his family and friends. A man is selfless. These are things that you should be taught. We weren't. So now, I teach them to you, today.


PAUL: "THIS IS LIFE" with Lisa Ling premieres with back to back episodes tonight at 9:00 on CNN.

BLACKWELL: We're seeing so many pictures and the videos of the long lines at food banks. You see the cars but in those cars are people.

Have you heard their stories?

We're going to hear from a mother struggling to feed her children after losing her job because of the pandemic.





PAUL: We're seeing tributes this morning to an actor whose presence took us to the dark side of our imaginations and he never had to say a word.


MARK HAMILL, ACTOR, "LUKE SKYWALKER": He told me enough. He told me you killed him.


PAUL (voice-over): James Earl Jones may have spoken the line but it was David Prowse who filled the suit and gave Darth Vader his stature.

BLACKWELL: He was an English actor and former bodybuilder who died at the age of 85 after a short illness.

Mark Hamill, who played Luke Skywalker, tweeted this.

"He was a kind man and much more than Darth Vader -- actor, husband, father, member of the Order of the British Empire, three-time British weightlifting champion and safety icon, the Green Cross Code Man. He loved his fans as much as they loved him."


BLACKWELL: So this devastating economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic has millions of people in this country relying on food banks this weekend and for weeks up to this point. By one estimate, 50 million Americans will go hungry this year.

PAUL: And as CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich reports, it's going to take 8 billion meals to feed them.


VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The journey to get food through the cold and COVID-19 has been long and hard for Regina Status. REGINA STATUS, NEW YORK CITY RESIDENT: Got to take one day at a time. And as long as you have for today, you save for tomorrow. When tomorrow gets here, something's going to happen.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): And it did, just in time.

STATUS: Thank you.


YURKEVICH (voice-over): Days before Thanksgiving, Agatha House Foundation, a local food pantry in the Bronx, New York, made a special Thanksgiving delivery, filled with everything she needs for her and her two teenage daughters.

STATUS: It's just a relief that I don't have to purchase all of that.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): Over 50 million Americans like Regina won't have enough to eat in 2020. In part, because of the pandemic. Feeding America, the largest hunger relief group in the U.S. projects that 8 billion meals will be needed next year to feed food- insecure Americans.

CLAIRE BABINEAUX-FONTENOT, CEO, FEEDING AMERICA: About 40 percent of the people who right now are turning to food banks for help around the country are people who've never before relied on the charitable food system.

STATUS: Onions.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): Regina is out of a job. Her car was totaled months ago. And she's not receiving unemployment. She now relies on a once-a-week delivery from the Food Pantry.

YURKEVICH: Day to day, is your pantry stocked, or what does it look like day to day?

STATUS: Just surviving. That's all I can say. You just have to survive it.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): The 15th congressional district here in the Bronx has the highest food insecurity rate among children in the country.

At Agatha House, they're hoping to take the stigma our of needing a little extra help.

JEANETTE JOSEPH-GREENWAY, FOUNDER, AGATHA HOUSE FOUNDATION: We have to look and try to imagine ourselves in the position, what we would want for ourselves. Not just to give them a cardboard box but to make them feel loved, special.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): This small operation says it's seen 100 percent increase in need.

JOSEPH-GREENWAY: Even with the that they get, hopefully, there's someone in their building or one of their neighbors that they can invite for a plate of food.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Got to give Miss Mamie some stuff.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): Despite her struggles to put food on the table --

STATUS: You welcome, Miss Mamie.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): -- Regina is sharing what she has with her neighbor and remains grateful for this Thanksgiving.

STATUS: Even if we didn't get to Agatha House or we were just having regular chicken every day, just to say that you're alive to eat it, that's a blessing in itself.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): Vanessa Yurkevich, CNN, Bronx, New York.


PAUL: Puts it into perspective.

BLACKWELL: Sure does.

PAUL: And she has got a heck of an attitude. We could all learn from her.

All right. Let's talk about L.A. They're under new stay at home orders this morning as coronavirus cases and deaths and hospitalizations reach record levels.

BLACKWELL: And actor Sean Penn is helping lead a massive free testing campaign there.


BLACKWELL: He spoke to Paul Vercammen.


PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sean Penn won Best Actor honors for "Mystic River" and "Milk," where he played the activist then slain politician Harvey Milk. He has launched fully into his new role as running CORE, along with his partner, Ann Lee.

They have tested more than 3 million people across the country. Much of it done here in Los Angeles.

We saw earlier today, this is the Veterans Administration campus, about 4,000 cars came through here. Dodger Stadium gets a lot of attention. But this is another very vibrant and active test site. And Sean Penn wants to remind everybody, he says, that testing and contact tracing works.


SEAN PENN, ACTOR AND ACTIVIST: The testing and the contact tracing, it is a misnomer (sic) that contact tracing isn't working because where it is working, for example, on the Navajo Nation or in Fulton County in Georgia, where we have a direct hands-on door knock team doing it.

It is -- President-Elect Biden knows what to do. I've heard him speak to it. What I would say to President Biden is that CORE stands by, ready to do all we can to help him do it.


VERCAMMEN: Another thing Sean Penn is talking about is perhaps, when we go into the future here, in terms of testing at schools, he wants to sort of enlist the role model of the NBA, to have constant testing before students go into schools, teachers coming out, a very aggressive grassroots organization here.

CORE now has exploded with volunteers and employees spread out across the country.


PAUL: Thank you, Paul.

Now from hunger to the risk of losing their homes, there are tens of millions of Americans suffering because of COVID-19. Head to for more ways to help and thank you for doing so.

BLACKWELL: The next hour of "NEW DAY" is coming up in a moment.