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New Day Sunday

U.S. Tops One Million Cases In Just The First Five Days Of December; Majority Of California Will Soon Be Under Stay-At-Home Order; CDC Posts Plea On Social Media: Just Wear The Mask; Republicans Fear Trump's Election Rant In Georgia Could Hurt GOP; Trump Pressured Georgia Governor To Overturn Election Results; Growing Gaps In Student Success Amid COVID-19 School Shutdowns; Russia Begins COVID Vaccinations In Moscow; COVID Relief Talks Continue In Congress. Aired 6-7a ET

Aired December 06, 2020 - 06:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The number of new cases in California just alarming, shocking really.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The bottom line is if we don't act now, our hospital system will be overwhelmed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These closures and stay-at-home orders are flat-out ridiculous.

DR SHIRLEY XIE, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF HOSPITAL MEDICINE, HENNEPIN HEALTHCARE: People are literally suffocating inside our hospitals and they are dying alone. They don't get the luxury to complain about COVID fatigue.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Donald Trump came here to Georgia with the goal of helping support the two candidates running in the runoff election here.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Everything that we have achieved together is on the line.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He spent far more of his time here in Georgia talking about the election that he had just lost.

TRUMP: They cheated and they rigged our presidential election. We can't let it happen again.



CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to all of you wherever you might be waking up this morning. It looks like the sun's trying to peek up there on the horizon in New York. 6:00 in the morning. And welcome to Sunday. It is December 6th. I'm Christi Paul. We're always grateful to have you and another person with us here, Marty.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Christi. Great to be with you. Good to be with all of you at home. I'm Martin Savidge in today for Victor Blackwell.

PAUL: We're always glad to have you.

So let's talk about this FDA committee who's meeting this week to discuss Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine. This is the first candidate up for emergency use authorization. This is a piece of hopeful news obviously to hold on to as nearly every day now sees some new coronavirus record being set.

SAVIDGE: CNN's Alison Kosik is tracking the latest for us from New York. And, Alison, you know, it's so easy to get numbed to all of these -- especially the numbers, but the numbers really are climbing. Hospitals are strained. And health officials have to make some tough choices.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. Good morning, Martin. And this is another grim milestone in the pandemic. The U.S. on Saturday saw the second highest number of people in the hospital with COVID and the rising number of coronavirus cases could wind up crippling health care systems across the country.


KOSIK (voice-over): The latest wave of COVID-19 is taking a devastating toll in the U.S. with more than one million people diagnosed with the virus in the last five days alone. Across the country, the number of people hospitalized topped 100,000 for a fourth straight day.

XIE: I think that sometimes when you hear statistics like that, you become numb to what those numbers mean. But for us, you know, the people that are taking care of these patients, every single number is somebody that we have to look at and say, I'm sorry, there's nothing more I can do for you. And it's just another family we have to call to tell them that their loved ones are going to die.

KOSIK: Cases are rising across the country. At least four states reported record numbers of new cases on Saturday. In California, some 33 million people will be under some sort of mandated government lockdown by Sunday night. Restrictions implemented as ICU bed capacity dipped below the 15 percent threshold set by Governor Gavin Newsom. Those lockdowns expected to last at least three weeks.

DR. ROBERT WACHTER, CHAIRMAN, DEPARTMENT OF MEDICINE AT UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA SAN FRANCISCO: The trend lines we're seeing now are really disastrous. They're just heading straight up in terms of the number of cases, the number of hospitalizations. So it really is time for us to pull back on the activity and see if we can turn this thing around before hospitals get overwhelmed. If they get overwhelmed, patients are going to get harmed and die because we simply will not have the ability to take care of them in the way we want. KOSIK: Officials in Colorado are warning of a dangerous December with one in 40 Coloradans already infected with the coronavirus. This before the vast majority of Thanksgiving cases have even come in. And as the number of cases and deaths escalate so does the pressure being put on the medical system and those working to save lives.

DR. MEGAN RANNEY, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Our hospitals are filling up and our workers are getting sick. Our floors are short on techs, on respiratory therapists, on nurses, and we are on the verge of being in a crisis state.

KOSIK: And with holiday preparations already under way and expected to ramp up in the coming weeks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had a simple plea Saturday, urging people on Twitter to "just wear the mask."


KOSIK: And the CDC doesn't just say wear the mask it implies to wear it correctly that you shouldn't just cover your mouth but cover your mouth and your nose. And the CDC is also warning that if we don't act together and do what we can to slow the spread of the virus that thousands more could die -- Martin.


SAVIDGE: Alison Kosik, thank you very much. That's where we begin this morning on COVID.

Now to politics, all eyes on Georgia this weekend, the state that will determine the balance of power in the Senate come January.

PAUL: Yes. At a debate tonight, Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler is facing off against her Democratic opponent, Raphael Warnock.

SAVIDGE: Last night while rallying supporters for the GOP candidates President Trump aired his own grievances with the election and he used the stage to push false allegations of election fraud.

PAUL: Several GOP leaders are concerned now, they really fear the president's relentless attacks on the election in Georgia may lead to a number of Republican voters staying home January 5th.

SAVIDGE: I want to bring in CNN's Sarah Westwood. She's following the latest for us from the White House. Sarah, we know several conservatives, those I've talked to here in Georgia, worry that the president will hurt Republican chances in that race. What are you hearing?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right, Martin. That was a fear that Republicans had before the president's rally last night. And certainly his performance there is not likely to make them feel any better about the harm that the president could do to the GOP prospects of retaining their Senate majority.

The president's speech last night was just littered with untrue things that he was saying about the election and taking shots at the Georgia officials that Republican voters will need to trust in order to spend their time getting out to vote on January 5th. And that's the fear that Republicans had.

The president spent the majority of the first part of his speech their airing his grievances, as you guys mentioned, not spending a lot of time in the first part of the speech when most of the people were tuned in talking about the two senators that he was there to campaign for. Again, that was the fear of Republicans. He took a lot of shots at Governor Brian Kemp, the Republican, former Trump ally, who leads that state claiming that Kemp was incompetent, that Kemp hasn't done enough to pursue the president's false election claims.

Kemp was not at the rally because he was dealing with the death of a young family friend. Perhaps highlighting the problem with all of this rhetoric, the president said that some people close to him have urged others not to votes in this upcoming special election.


TRUMP: Friends of mine say, let's not vote. We're not going to vote because we're angry about the presidential election. And they're friends of mine.


WESTWOOD: So that sort of hits the nail on the head of the inherent contradiction of what the president was trying to do last night, convincing people that the election results in Georgia were fraudulent but also that they should trust the system enough to cast their ballots in January. Perdue and Loeffler, the two senators there were invited up to speak at one point, but they were at some points drowned out by people chanting about the election results. So that is why Republicans very concerned about the message the president continues to push on the election, Martin and Christi.

PAUL: So there was an interesting development, Sarah, just prior to this rally as we learned the president called Georgia's governor, Brian Kemp, to push him to convince state legislators to overturn President-elect Joe Biden's win. And then it got into Twitter. I mean, walk us through what happened here.

WESTWOOD: Right. Those are pretty shocking development in this feud between the president and Brian Kemp who the president has been openly criticizing. But CNN learned that last night or yesterday before the president headed to that rally last night, the president called Governor Kemp and urged him to call a special session of the state legislature to try to overturn the results of that state which had already been certified after a hand recount. So they really have been scrutinized. Now Gabriel Sterling who is the director of the state's voting implementation system came out and said that there has been no evidence of widespread fraud in Georgia.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GABRIEL STERLING (R), GEORGIA VOTING SYSTEM IMPLEMENTATION MANAGER: Despite the fact that we through all of our investigations, yes, we found illegal voting, yes, there is going to be things like that in every single election, but nothing like the widespread, ridiculous claims of voters fraud we've been seeing out of the president and his lawyers and his former lawyers.


WESTWOOD: Now sources said Trump also pressed Governor Kemp to order an audit of absentee ballot signatures. Kemp came out on Twitter and then later said, I have already called for that three times, but I don't have the authority to do so. So really open warfare between these two former allies at this point, Martin and Christi.

PAUL: All right. Sarah Westwood, we appreciate it so much. Thank you.

And despite the president's efforts, Joe Biden is expected to be recertified as the winner tomorrow. Georgia's secretary of state has also weighed in saying they've seen -- quote -- "no substantial changes in the results due to the recounts that they've done. CNN's political reporter Rebecca Buck is with us this morning. Rebecca, good morning to you. What are you learning?

REBECCA BUCK, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Good morning, Christi and Martin.

Well, it's deja vu all over again. Joe Biden once again set to be certified as the winner in Georgia after, as you said, no major significant differences found in this recount. That makes Joe Biden the first Democrat to win in Georgia since 1992 when Bill Clinton did it as a Democratic presidential candidate three decades ago.


That makes this pretty historic indeed. And driving his victory in Georgia for Joe Biden were these disaffected suburban voters around the Atlanta area who were just fed up with Donald Trump's presidency. Now the question with these voters moving forward is whether they will continue to support a Joe Biden presidency and his agenda, or whether they might turn back to the Republican Party post Donald Trump.

And this is going to be one of the key questions moving forward in the next month as we look at this Georgia Senate runoff. Two Georgia Senate runoffs, rather, between of course Senator David Perdue and Senator Kelly Loeffler on the Republican side, Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff on the Democratic side.

This is going to be a key fight, Joe Biden obviously not president yet, but this is going to be a key fight that determines the trajectory of his presidency once he takes that oath of office, determining the balance of power in the Senate and the fate of his legislative agenda moving forward. The most immediate impact, of course, will be on Biden's cabinet nominees and those Senate confirmed positions. Would a Republican Senate give its stamp of approval to some of the more controversial picks, or will he have an easier time with a Democratic Senate then moving ahead to the legislative agendas, you have questions about issues like health care, immigration, tax reform, that he talked about on the campaign trail, his priorities for him if he's president. But will Republicans in a Republican Senate be motivated to work with Joe Biden politically, especially if Donald Trump is still on the political stage as he has indicated he might remain involved.

So these are the key questions facing Joe Biden, looking at Georgia, it remains now the center of the political universe. And you can guarantee he does know what is at stake. He plans to be in Georgia campaigning on behalf of those Democrats running for Senate in the near future -- Christi and Martin.

PAUL: Rebecca, it's clear Republicans are having a hard time accepting the win of Joe Biden. According to the "Washington Post" survey they did, only 27 congressional Republicans acknowledge Joe Biden's victory. That's a problem.

BUCK: Yes. That's a really small fraction of the Republican Party, obviously, Martin. Over on earth, too, many Republicans are still maintaining that Joe Biden is not the president-elect or that this is some sort of rigged election. Obviously, those are baseless claims that we've heard from President Trump.

But in response to this list of just 27 Republicans, that's like two dozen Republicans, as you mentioned, who admit that Joe Biden is the president-elect, President Trump tweeted this weekend that he would like to see a list of those what he called Republicans in name only, RINOS, who admit the reality. The "Washington Post" actually published the list of those Republicans. Many of them, seven of them are outgoing Republicans. One of them, Denver Riggleman, tweeted that he is on the list.

He raised his hands-on Twitter confirming for the president that he's one of them. But he is one of those outgoing Republicans in Congress. So not as much to lose politically. I think the Republicans who didn't say anything in response to this question telling us a lot more about where the party is right now, Martin and Christi.

SAVIDGE: Rebecca Buck, thank you very much.

BUCK: Thank you.

SAVIDGE: Let's go now to CNN Correspondent, Kyung Lah for a preview of that very crucial Senate debate that's going to take place in Georgia. Good morning to you, Kyung.

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Marty. What we are not expecting to see today in that crucial debate that you're talking about, remember, what is in the balance here is control of the U.S. Senate. These two Senate seats. Two Republican incumbents defending those seats. We're not expecting to see one of those senators, Senator David Perdue. He's already told the debate organizers that he's not going to show up. And it's not that he can't come, it's that he won't come.

We saw the senator all day yesterday kicking off a bus tour across Georgia. He met with numerous supporters. He stopped and spoke. He made several different stops, and it was a full day of campaigning, capped by the rally with the president in -- near the Florida/Georgia border.

And this is something that the senator has felt very comfortable doing, being in a safe space. He hasn't taken questions from reporters. And he certainly indicated that he's not going to show up for the debate with the Democratic challenger, Jon Ossoff.

Now Ossoff says that he will show up. So what the organizers are going to do is Ossoff is going to be at one podium and there is going to be an empty podium for Senator Perdue. Ossoff has certainly during his time on the campaign trail beaten up the senator, asking -- quote -- "Where is David?" That has been something he's said over and over again. He's even put out an ad, has anyone seen David?


So that's one of the races. The other race, the senator who is defending her seat, Senator Kelly Loeffler, she and her Democratic challenger, Raphael Warnock, they have had quite an ugly campaign so far, really slinging barbs at each other primarily through their ads. We are going to see them on one stage tonight.

She is going to talk about defending the Republican majority. Warnock trying to pivot talking more about the issues, predominantly health care has been something he has focused on. So it -- but, you know, seeing them on one stage, Marty, seeing them go back and forth is something that a lot of people in the state have yet to see and are certainly anxious to see. Marty.

PAUL: Yes. That's going to be an interesting one. Kyung Lah, always good to see you. Thank you for the wrap.

LAH: You bet.

PAUL: And remember, it's debate night in Georgia. You can watch it all live right here on CNN starting at 7:00 Eastern.

SAVIDGE: New York City will begin reopening its schools tomorrow. But new research shows student performance has already been affected by the pandemic. We'll have that next.

PAUL: Also, Russia begins vaccinating for COVID-19. We're going to tell you about their controversial vaccine and how the rollout is going thus far in Moscow.



SAVIDGE: Most New York City elementary schools are preparing to reopen tomorrow for in-person learning even as coronavirus cases in that state spike again.

PAUL: Yes. We're learning the pandemic has already caused some young people specifically students of color and those in low-income families to fall behind. CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro has more on this.


EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We're now getting data from the first full semester of pandemic school. And the deep divides among students that appeared in spring remote learning may not have been solved. Numbers on the ground are showing dramatic drops in attendance, academic participation, and grade performance among students of color attending public schools. What was bad before the pandemic for students with fewer advantages is getting worse.

JOHN KING, FORMER EDUCATION SECRETARY: The sad reality is as a country we give least to the students who need the most. So before the pandemic it was already true that low-income students and students of color were less likely to be in quality early childhood education. They were less likely to be in schools with strong, well-prepared teachers.

So we had all these gaps before. We had significant achievement gaps before, 20, 30, 40-point gaps in academic achievement and on assessments of reading and math, gaps in college access and college completion. So those were all challenges before, COVID has exacerbated those challenges.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Those challenges are on display in a Zoom room out of northeast Washington, D.C.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Next we have story time.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Student tutors from a nonprofit called Reach Incorporated are trying to close a growing gap in elementary school literacy between wealthier students and those with less privilege.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And the book we're reading is called "Deena Misses Her Mom."

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Program Director Mark Hecker says everything is harder in the pandemic.

MARK HECKER, PROGRAM DIRECTOR, REACH INCORPORATED: Our system is certainly not built for this moment. And what we see over and over is people trying their best to do what they can right now, but really struggling on all sides.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Neveah Baker is a 15-year-old Reach tutor. She's trying to go to school and teach other kids while struggling to get Wi-Fi at home. The bad connection and the frustration is obvious.

NEVEAH BAKER, TUTOR FOR REACH INCORPORATED: Most kids are not doing as well virtually because they don't understand. They'll get overwhelmed and then they will -- they'll like break down and cry, shut down. They won't want to do it. I can tell that from experience because that happened to me and my sisters.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: The D.C. literacy crisis is real. Stark numbers from the city's public school system show students of color being left behind in pandemic school. The D.C. numbers are not uncommon. National data is starting to show a tale of two very separate education experiences in the pandemic.

A study of more than four million tests completed by students in grades three to eight by the educational assessment nonprofit NWEA found an overall drop in learning that was less than they expected. In the words of the researchers, there was some good news in the overall numbers. Not so fast, say experts like John King, a former Obama administration education secretary.

KING: I'm very worried about some of the recent studies that where the descriptions of the findings to my mind understate the level of impact that COVID has had on kids' education.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: The authors of the NWEA study actually agree with this. They note that fewer students participated in assessments this time, and the students least likely to be counted were students of color and those from economically struggling school districts. Researchers said they don't know where those missing students are. Their school may not have had the technology required to administer the test, students could have skipped it or they could have dropped out of the system altogether.

So what's not in the data could be as indicative as what is. People like King saw this coming. And now they say the results could be dire.

KING: There is a real risk here of a potential lost generation of students. If you aren't a strong reader by third grade, your prospects of graduating from high school go down. Your prospects of going on to post-secondary education go down, and your long-term career and earning potential goes down.


SAVIDGE: And our thanks to Evan McMorris-Santoro for that report.

Next hour, how do we keep our kids safe as more schools attempt to return to the classroom? We'll debate the impact virtual learning has had on children, teachers, and parents, and how to best serve students during an unprecedented pandemic.


That and a whole lot more just ahead.

PAUL: So the United States is preparing this enormous vaccination campaign to fight COVID-19. It's already started in Russia.

SAVIDGE: That country began vaccinating its high-risk citizens in Moscow yesterday. Officials there say that they're off to a good start.

PAUL: The vaccine isn't without controversy. Here's CNN's Matthew Chance.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Moscow has launched a mass vaccination campaign, opening 70 vaccination centers across the city, according to officials, where residents can get injected with Sputnik V. The vaccine developed by Russian scientists which is still to complete phase three human trials, remember. Officials say priority will be given to designated high-risk group, but as vaccine production is stepped up, everyone in the Russian capital will be eligible for the jab.

The mayor of Moscow has suggested early participation has been enthusiastic, saying more than 5,000 people registered for vaccination in the first five hours. The campaign was announced after the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, ordered large-scale vaccinations with Sputnik V to begin across the country from next week. Officials say over 100,000 people have been vaccinated already, and there are enough doses that have been produced to vaccinate another two million people across Russia. Matthew Chance, CNN.


PAUL: Thank you, Matthew.

Well, Republican leaders have some real concerns about President Trump, that he may be turning voters away from the polls for this critical runoff election next month. We're going to break down all the political headlines with CNN political commentator Errol Louis. He's up next with us. Stay close.



SAVIDGE: Coronavirus relief negotiations are underway on Capitol Hill. But sources tell CNN that Congress will need at least another week to try to reach a deal.

PAUL: Yes. The sticking points appear to be twofold. Republicans want better liability protections for businesses and workers. Democrats are demanding more funding for state and local governments.

SAVIDGE: On the table so far, enhanced unemployment benefits pauses on student loans and evictions, and could be another round a paycheck protection program for small businesses.

PAUL: And the relief package being floated could be up to $900 billion this time around.

SAVIDGE: So joining me now this morning to talk about all the political headlines is CNN Political Commentator Errol Louis, Host of "You Decide," the podcast. Good morning to you, Errol. I haven't had the chance to talk to you in awhile so it's good to see you.

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's been awhile. Good to see you, Martin.

SAVIDGE: Let's start where we just left off. President-elect Joe Biden called the latest stimulus plan a downpayment on recovery. Coronavirus, of course, is surging. Things are getting worse. So what will a Biden administration have to do in the first 100 days in order to help this economy?

LOUIS: Well, they're going to have to persuade Congress to go ahead with what a majority of the people actually want, which is to have Congress use what is after all our money, our taxpayer dollars, to get the economy running again. And that requires putting multiple trillions of dollars into the economy the same way we did at the start of the pandemic, to make sure that people don't just fall off a cliff, that they don't lose their homes, that they don't get kicked out of their apartments, that they don't continue to lose their jobs and end up at soup kitchens and so forth.

The burden on Biden, of course, is going to be to make people understand that this is what their sworn duty is. The Republican leadership in the Senate in particular seems to be hiding from this reality.

SAVIDGE: You know, the ability for a Biden ministration to push through any kind of economic reform or economic program, look at hinged on what happens in Georgia, because I'm talking about the two very important Senate run offs next month. Do you think that the consistent claims of election fraud from the President is hurting the GOP chances?

LOUIS: Well, it appears to be. If you look at the fact that one of the two Senate candidates, David Perdue, is running away from actually attending a debate tonight. This is an indication that they're being put into an impossible situation.

Donald Trump is asking the Republican base to simultaneously put pressure on their Republican governor, their Republican Secretary of State, the Republican State Legislature, and asked them to overturn the results of the election. And at the same time, tell them to come out and vote on January 5th.

This is a lot of cognitive dissonance that they're putting out there, Martin, and a lot of folks have really sort of interpreted the message is saying the President is more important to me, let's disrupt all faith in the election, let's overturn the recently completed election. And that's a very hard message to take into a closed campaign, which is what the January 5th runoff really is.

SAVIDGE: Yes. The headline in the AJC, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, this morning was Trump tells GOP to vote in rigged election. I mean, talk about a mixed message there. The problem is, though, that, of course, if Republicans don't turn out and Democrats win, then you've got an administration that will be in full control of the Senate. They'll be able to push through. And clearly that's something Republicans would not want.

LOUIS: Well, one would think the gap between what voters are being asked to do and what they're probably going to get on the other side, is really dismayingly large, Martin. Because, you know, the reality is, if the Democrats control the Senate or the Republicans control the Senate, if it's a matter of one or two seats, it's going to basically give almost every senator the ability to weigh in on lots of different issues. It's going to be very hard to get much of anything done.

It's not as if a one seat or a two-seat majority by the Democrats is going to lead to sweeping legislation rushing across the President's desk. It's going to be a hard long slog either way we go. And that's the nature of the partisan deadlock that has really crippled the country for so long.


SAVIDGE: Real quick, and I'm going to let you go after that. The President was in total denial of the outcome of the election. Is this the way it's going to be until he's gone?

LOUIS: Oh, sure and long after, Martin. I mean, you know, I really do feel sorry for the staff at Mar-a-Lago. They're going to have to hear this every night, night after night for who knows how long.

But yes, the President has sort of put a stake in the ground. He ran against reality, reality beat him. He's still not going to concede, not just to Joe Biden, but not going to concede to reality. Where that leads him? Well, sure. He's managed to dupe a lot of people into sending him lots and lots of money, and that seems to be what the goal is going to be.

SAVIDGE: The money which I believe he gets to keep, yes. Errol Louis, good to talk to you. Thank you.

LOUIS: Thank you, Martin.

PAUL: So, Brian Stelter is up with us next talking about the President's election denialism and how it's impacting society and democracy, and all of us really. And the danger of us becoming numb to all the numbers we're seeing as the COVID crisis deepens, stay close.



PAUL: So as more Americans continue to die from COVID-19 and really than anywhere else in the world, this has become something that people get numb to in regards to the sheer volume of numbers we're talking about. It's called psychic numbing. It's a phenomenon. It causes the loss of compassion as the number of death victims in a tragedy increases.

SAVIDGE: Let's bring in our Chief Media Correspondent and the Host of "Reliable Sources" Brian Stelter. And, Brian, you know, we try all the time to try to, you know, put the severity of this pandemic into perspective for our viewers. But frankly, it just seems that people have a hard time making the connection. They're really hard to care about the numbers. BRIAN STELTER, CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: And this is something researchers have found for years, normally in a theoretical sense. Normally, researchers study this by conducting experiments. Right now, we're seeing a live version of this reality, where the larger the numbers get, but in some cases the smaller the impact. And that is understandable in some ways.

As you said, Christi, psychic numbing, it's a challenge for storytellers and journalists, and for medical experts. And I thought what you all did yesterday was powerful, pausing for 43 seconds in order to point out that is a very short amount of time in between those times a life has been lost in this country right now.

And then, when I woke up this morning, looked at the corner of our screen, saw the number 281,000 deaths. It used to be that at these milestones, 100,000, 200,000 there was major attention. And, of course, as these numbers grow, there is a numbing effect. I think it's important for everyone to be aware of that reality.

PAUL: I'm assuming that part of it is, and I spoke to somebody at Bellevue Hospital in Ohio last week who said, if you don't experience it yourself, it's just hard to grasp. So wrap it -- with the exception of the family members or the healthcare workers on the front lines, people have a hard time connecting that number to a life. I mean, is that part of the problem here?

STELTER: Yes, and we're not seeing death up close. This is also an aspect that I've been interested in. I was speaking with grieve expert David Kessler about this the other day. You know, when you don't see images from funeral homes, you don't see funerals, because in many cases, funerals are being restricted or being limited. It is harder to perceive that this is going on. People are all grieving, but we're not seeing that grieve happening in the hospitals are at the funerals, et cetera. And that's a major factor here as well.

Again, that's a challenge for storytellers. The more that doctors allowed journalists into hospitals, even though there are important rules about privacy, the more that we can see what is actually going on.

SAVIDGE: Yes. You know, I think there is the creation of where one person just doesn't feel like they can make a difference in all of this because of the sheer numbers. And yet, of course, as we point out, if you just wear a mask, we could bring those numbers down significantly.

STELTER: And also, many Americans, most Americans aren't doing the right thing. And sometimes you're scrolling through Instagram at home, being careful yourself at home, you might be seeing friends or acquaintances out party, and that can be really frustrating.

And yet, when you are at home by yourself, social distancing, you're not visible. You're not posted on Instagram. So there's a dynamic here as well of recognizing that many Americans are stepping up in this fight, even though it can be very frustrating to see others maybe not doing the same. PAUL: And we have to keep in mind these people who are grieving, as you said.

SAVIDGE: Oh, yes.

PAUL: And they're grieving in a way that isn't always normal either, because they can't get that support system they normally have because of where we are. So we're going to have a lot of recovery to do once we are able to get back together but that's what's important.

Brian Stelter, always appreciate you so much, buddy. Thank you.

STELTER: Thanks.

PAUL: Of course. And you can watch him, of course, later today on "Reliable sources."

SAVIDGE: Up next as COVID forces people to cut back on festive outings and gatherings, Christmas is really coming home for a lot of people this year.



PAUL: There are so many challenges that families are going through right now, obviously. One of them as well is how COVID is impacting our holiday season.

SAVIDGE: Yes, absolutely. Well, the virus may be limiting a lot of the usual fun inside the home, some people are getting pretty creative outside. Tom Foreman explains why it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.


TOM FOREMAN, CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The holiday rush is on at the Owens House in Virginia. More decorations, more weeks ahead of the celebration.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Lighted reindeer.

FOREMAN (voice-over): And more coming.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I went out of my way and spent money that I wouldn't normally because we're not traveling

FOREMAN (voice-over): Coast to coast countless others appeared to be doing the same, charging into Christmas Hanukkah pick your holiday like never before. From this holiday shop in California --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With everything people have been through this year from not only COVID but murder hornets, goodness. We are ready for some joy.

[06:50:00] FOREMAN (voice-over): To this tree farm in Oregon where sales are five times higher than usual. While some businesses remain shut down by the virus, others are reporting early and sustained surges.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can't have a Christmas without a Christmas tree. So we're getting it started today.

FOREMAN (voice-over): In Illinois.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have never seen anything like this.

FOREMAN (voice-over): This family started building their light display three months ago thrilling local crowds.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because of COVID-19, I mean, we're all stuck in the house. I mean, some might just be wearing a mask in your house.

FOREMAN (voice-over): And at this garden center in Maryland, the calendar has been racing forward with a jingle.

FOREMAN (on-camera): So normally you don't switch over to Christmas until November but this year, it was October. It was very early, gosh.

COLIN KUHN, GENERAL MANAGER, AMERICAN PLANT: We noticed that right away, people were purchasing Christmas merchandise because we can't spend as much time doing the things we used to, whether it be retail or restaurants or travel. They want to make the home feel like a special place to be.

FOREMAN (voice-over): All of that enthusiasm may really pay off with holiday spending predicted to rise as much as 5% higher than last year. A big boost to businesses hit by the pandemic slump.

FOREMAN (on-camera): And some psychologists say it can be pretty good for the rest of us too. The lights, the decorations, the whole holiday vibe, and lift spirits like nothing else.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am assembling our fake three piece Christmas tree.

FOREMAN (voice-over): So if you haven't hold out the holly, you might get busy. Because the socially distance party has already started.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's one thing that COVID cannot take from us and it's definitely the Christmas spirit.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Tom Foreman, CNN, Falls Church, Virginia.


PAUL: Griswold (ph) is alive and well, is all we can agree on, right? So maybe winter isn't the season for you. Here's a proposition think about this one, maybe spending some time in Hawaii. That state is offering free round trip tickets people, but only under very specific criteria. We'll tell you more.



PAUL: So we want to introduce you to the eight organizations CNN Heroes is highlighting this year. Anderson Cooper tells us how each one of them is working to make the world a better place.


ANDERSON COOPER, HOST: The Center for Disaster Philanthropy provides strategies to help donors increase the impact of their contributions during global crises like COVID-19.

Chef Jose Andres and his World Central Kitchen feed the needy in times of crisis, using the power of food to heal and strengthen communities.

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

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

GLENN CLOSE, FOUNDER, BRING CHANGE TO MIND: : I challenge every American family to no longer whisper about mental illness behind closed doors.

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

The Make-A-Wish Foundation provides life changing experiences for children battling critical illness, restoring --


COOPER: -- a sense of childhood and giving normalcy to their families.

The Equal Justice Initiative fights to end mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States by challenging racial and economic inequity, and protecting basic human rights in the prison system. has helped change the lives of millions of people access to safe water and sanitation in 17 countries around the world.

And finally, IssueVoter is increasing civic engagement beyond the voting booth. Helping people share their views on new bills with their elected officials with just one click.

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

SAVIDGE: Want to learn more, go to and click donate to any of this year's organizations to make a direct contribution to their GoFundMe Charity Campaign. You'll receive an email confirming your donation which is tax deductible in the United States.


PAUL: And don't forget to watch "CNN Heroes: All Star Tribute." It's Sunday, December 13th.

SAVIDGE: Finally, the year that has been less than golden. Sometimes there can be some unexpected silver linings and opportunities that might once have seemed impossible.

PAUL: Oh yes, like this. Hawaii is offering free round trips, people, to any of you working remotely, who might want to live there temporarily. Now, you have until December 15th to apply for this temporary residence program is what it is. And if you're selected, you'd need to spend at least 30 consecutive days there.

SAVIDGE: The plan is designed to help diversify the state's economy with travel and tourism, of course, massively impacted by COVID-19. Which is why, come January, you will be able to see my daily reports from Waikiki.

PAUL: I was wondering, could I work from (inaudible) to Hawaii.

SAVIDGE: Yes, how hard would that be?

PAUL: I don't know. We could make it happen, Marty.

SAVIDGE: OK, we'll do it.

PAUL: Your next -- no. Your next hour of NEW DAY starts right now.