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New Day Sunday

Jobless Benefits Lapse For Millions As Trump Holds Out On Bill; December Now Deadliest Month Of The Pandemic; Biden Urges Trump To Sign COVID Relief Bill; Three Killed, Three Injured In Illinois Bowling Alley Shooting; Investigators: Nashville Blast Likely A Suicide Bombing; Black Americans May Face Roadblocks Accessing COVID Vaccine; Black Doctor Dies Of COVID After Accusing Hospital Staff Of Racial Bias; Trump's Stimulus Resistance Puts Georgia GOP Senate Candidates In A Tough Spot. Aired 6-7a ET

Aired December 27, 2020 - 06:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Millions of Americans have just lost unemployment benefits and may soon lose eviction protection. President Trump refusing to sign the $900 billion coronavirus relief bill.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Talk about leadership from both the left, right, Democrats, Republicans, I don't care. This is a failure to the people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The projections are just nightmarish. It's -- we're looking at 400,000 Americans who will lose their lives around a week after the inauguration.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's some element of being numb to the numbers are almost too big to comprehend at this point.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Breaking news out of Nashville this hour where authorities now believe yesterday's explosion was the likely result of a suicide bombing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The motivation. And that is where investigators are now.


BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning and thank you so much for joining us this Sunday. I'm Boris Sanchez. Victor and Christi have the morning off.

We start this morning with tough news for the millions of Americans who relied on an economic lifeline from the government to get through the coronavirus pandemic. The darkest days may still lie ahead. The president declining to sign a relief bill by midnight causing vital assistance like enhanced unemployment benefits to expire. To make matters worse, a government shutdown is looming early this week. And eviction protection for struggling tenants end on Thursday. Meantime, another grim milestone. December is now the deadliest month of the pandemic. Sixty-three thousand Americans have died this month alone. The authorization of two coronavirus vaccines has offered hope that the end of the pandemic might be near, but with a near record number of hospitalizations, experts fear the New Year could usher in the deadliest phase yet. CNN's Alison Kosik reports.


ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A heartbreaking milestone Saturday in the United States. The coronavirus pandemic has now killed one out of every 1,000 people. The number of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. Saturday hit 331,000. Also Saturday, data from Johns Hopkins University showing that December is now the deadliest month in the United States since the pandemic began.

More than 63,500 people in the U.S. alone have died this month from COVID. A faster spreading COVID-19 variant that originated in the U.K. is now appearing in other countries, and experts are trying to figure out how that will impact the current vaccines.

DR. WILLIAM SCHAFFNER, PROFESSOR OF INFECTIOUS DISEASE, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: Those studies are under way, but so far the predictions are that the vaccine will work against these new strains, perhaps not quite as effectively as the old strains, but those data are not here yet.

KOSIK: In California, the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California regions both have zero percent ICU capacity, a press release from the California Department of Public Health said Saturday. Some good news -- Michigan's COVID-19 hospitalizations and daily coronavirus associated deaths have continued to decline since mid-December, according to the state's COVID-19 dashboard, and hospital bed tracking web page.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday posted new guidance for people with certain underlying medical conditions who are at increased risk for more severe COVID-19. The guidance addresses people with weakened immune systems and autoimmune conditions among other underlying conditions.

They may receive an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine according to the recommendations provided they have not had a severe allergic reaction to any of the ingredients in the vaccine. However, people with HIV should be aware of limited safety data on the use of COVID-19 vaccinations and could experience a weakened immune response if they choose to take the vaccine.

Nearly two million coronavirus vaccine doses have been administered in the United States, according to the CDC. Health experts say both Pfizer's and Moderna's vaccines require two doses to achieve about 95 percent efficacy. Even then they say it's important to stay vigilant.

DR. ESTHER CHOO, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: We have to act like -- even with vaccine in our system, we have to act like we still can carry it, and pass it on to other people. [06:05:04]

So face masks, hand washing, social distancing will still be a very important part of pandemic control until we know better.


SANCHEZ: Thanks to Alison Kosik for that. Let's go now to CNN White House reporter Sarah Westwood. She's traveling with the president in West Palm Beach, Florida. Sarah, good morning.

Millions of Americans are facing financial hardship brought about by the pandemic. But at least according to his Twitter feed, President Trump seems more concerned about the fact that he lost the election.

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right, Boris. President Trump has been active on Twitter but showing no remorse for withholding his signature on a bill that is going to cost unemployment benefits for millions of jobless Americans, gig workers, independent contractors, and the long-term unemployed as a result of the pandemic.

The president re-upped the video that he'd made on December 22nd in which he blindsided lawmakers with his opposition to the bill. He said, "Speaking for America!" And then he wrote, "Increase payments to the people, get rid of the pork."

Now the pork that he was referring to there and that we know he's been complaining about private at Mar-a-Lago and also publicly on Twitter is not actually in the relief bill. That is in the spending bill that was the legislative vehicle for the stimulus. And it closely reflected what the White House's own budget proposal did earlier in the year. So, it's unclear why the president is now coming out against those funding priorities.

But nonetheless, as was the case during weeks of negotiations in which Trump didn't make a peep about the amount of individual relief checks going out Trump was concerned last night about the election. And he was tweeting about the Michigan attorney general as that midnight deadline came and went writing that lawyers questioning the election are -- quote -- "true patriots who are fighting for the truth," and then he urged them to fight on. That came, again, after that midnight deadline.

There are some real consequences, though, for the president continuing to refuse to put his signature on this bill. The fact that the jobless benefits for millions of Americans did lapse last night is just the start of it. On Monday, tomorrow, the government could shut down if he doesn't sign this bill because it will run out of money at midnight on the 28th.

And then on Thursday, millions of Americans could also face the prospect of losing their homes because the federal pause on evictions will expire on the 31st, that's on Thursday. So, a lot of uncertainty surrounding this bill.

But keep in mind that the president has no widespread Republican backing to do what he wants to do here which is to increase the amount of individual checks from $600 to $2,000. Two thousand dollars was a number that Republicans could not get behind. And what's in the bill now is what the White House brought to congressional leaders as their proposal.

So, it's been a really confusing situation for Republicans and Democrats alike that Trump all of a sudden after the bill was passed came out against it, Boris. And there's no clear path forward at this point.

SANCHEZ: Yes. It's almost as if the president thinks that Americans don't realize that he had a role or could have had a role in these negotiations. He had Steve Mnuchin and Mark Meadows in Congress negotiating with lawmakers to get this bill passed. And now he has more support, as you noted, from Democrats than he does from Republicans to get behind the $2,000 paychecks to Americans. Sarah Westwood reporting from West Palm Beach. Thank you so much.

President-elect Joe Biden is now calling on President Trump to sign the relief bill, warning that any further delay will have -- quote -- "devastating consequences." CNN's Rebecca Buck is in Washington with the latest. And, Rebecca, Biden knows that if President Trump doesn't get this round of COVID relief done it will be yet another major problem that's going to fall to his administration in fewer than four weeks.

REBECCA BUCK, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: That's right. Biden's plate obviously already full, Boris, when he is going to take office next month. But if this COVID relief package does not get signed by the president, if congressional leaders are not able to draft a new piece of legislation for the president to sign that meets his new standards for this bill then, yes, this is going to be one more thing on a very, very lengthy to-do list for President-elect Biden.

Now, he has been for weeks urging congressional leaders first to reach a deal and then, of course, congratulating them on getting there. So, it's no surprise that Biden is urging now the president to sign this bill and get this done.

I want to read you some of a statement from President-elect Biden released yesterday responding to the latest on this. He said, "It is the day after Christmas, and millions of families don't know if they'll be able to make ends meet because of President Donald Trump's refusal to sign an economic relief bill approved by Congress with an overwhelming and bipartisan majority.

This abdication of responsibility has devastating consequences." Biden continued that he was heartened to see members of Congress heed the message, reach across the aisle, work together. He said President Trump should join them and make sure millions of Americans can put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads this holiday season.


Now, of course, the president is not only getting pressure from President-elect Biden. He's also getting pressure from Democrats and Republicans, people in his own party. Lawmakers who drafted and reached this deal on Capitol Hill, at the urging of his administration, of his treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin. Republicans feel like they've been thrown under the bus here. So, pretty much everyone in Washington urging President Trump to sign the bill. We'll see if that pressure pays off -- Boris.

SANCHEZ: Yes, that's right, Rebecca. I believe the only Republican senator who has come out in favor of this proposal is Lindsey Graham who perhaps not coincidentally went golfing with President Trump this weekend. Rebecca Buck, thank you so much.

BUCK: Thanks.

SANCHEZ: We're following breaking news overnight. Police in Illinois have arrested a suspect in a deadly shooting at a bowling alley. Three people were killed, and three others injured in Rockford after what investigators are calling a random attack. At least two of the shooting victims are teens. Police have identified the suspect as a 37-year-old male. So far they've not disclosed a motive for the attack.

We're also getting new details this morning in the investigation of that Christmas day explosion in Nashville. According to investigators, the explosion was likely a suicide bombing. Federal agents are at a home southeast of Nashville in Antioch to conduct what they call court-authorized activity.

Meantime, CNN has obtained new video from the explosion seen from inside a restaurant on security footage. Look at that. From one moment to the next, total devastation.

CNN national correspondent Natasha Chen has been following these developments for us. Natasha, there's no manhunt at this point. But law enforcement was going in and out of that home all day. It signals they perhaps do not believe this is a continuing threat.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Boris, we were at the Antioch property yesterday for several hours watching teams work. By accounts from the neighbors, it seems like there were crews at the property pretty much all day. Now at first there was a bomb technician squad that went in to clear the property, making it safe to enter.

And then an evidence team showed up. They were documenting and photographing everything inside the house as it was. Very meticulous, going through the yard area, in and out of a side door. And we did see them take out bags of evidence, as well.

Now in talking to the neighbors there, not a lot of them that we spoke to knew the person who lived at the house, but they did recognize an RV that we showed then via Google Street View. If we can take a look at the Google Street View that property does show an RV parked there. In years past neighbors have seen it, in months past recent weeks, and the markings are similar to the one shown in a police surveillance photo when that was tweeted out by Metro Nashville Police saying that this RV that they show showed up overnight before the Christmas morning explosion.

Now a law enforcement source told CNN that they believe it may be the same one, but can't be entirely sure since the one downtown did get entirely destroyed by the blast. What's important here is that federal and local officials, as you mentioned during yesterday's press conference, emphasize that there's no manhunt under way. That they did a sweep of the area. There are no explosives in the area. And here's what the police chief said about threats to the community.


CHIEF JOHN DRAKE, NASHVILLE METRO POLICE: Let me reiterate that Nashville is safe. We feel and know that we have no known threats at this time against our city.


CHEN: And there is a curfew currently still in place to keep people away from the downtown area. But that theoretically lifts today at 4:30 in the afternoon local time. But, of course, the mayor has said that it's going to take quite some time for it to be safe for anybody to come close.

The investigators are working the area, working from the outside edges of the perimeter in. And we expect to talk to some business owners who are very troubled now about the future of their business that was right next to where that blast happened, Boris.

SANCHEZ: I look forward to hearing what they have to say. Natasha Chen, reporting from Nashville, thank you so much.

CHEN: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: So, let's dig deeper and bring in retired FBI special agent and CNN law enforcement analyst James Gagliano. James, thanks so much for joining us this morning.

You brought up the prospect of this potentially being a suicide bombing when we spoke yesterday. At this point investigators say they're not looking for another suspect. Does that mean that the threat is over at this point?

JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I think, you know, the police chief there in Nashville as well as the FBI and the ATF have been making certain to let folks know that there's no active manhunt under way.


And that's critical, right, because they believe that whatever clues that they need and the person involved is probably going to have been at the site of the blast. Now we talked yesterday about the fact that what makes post-blast analysis, bombing sites so difficult, is the fact that much of the evidence gets destroyed during the blast.

And, you know, some people have been asking why is the FBI involved if this wasn't a terrorist act, meaning somebody that was trying to kill or maim, hurt people, cause mass casualties in order to advance some type of policy that they wanted. And here's the reason -- back in 1998, President Clinton signed in a presidential decision directive Executive Order 62, and basically what it says is that the FBI has purview in these type of investigations, Boris, and works its way backwards. So the presumption is it's a terror attack until it can be proved otherwise.

SANCHEZ: That's interesting. So I want to get to this home in Antioch, Nashville. We saw an overhead view of what investigators were doing. It appeared that they were moving things out of the home. We know that the bomb squad was there, as Natasha noted, clearing the area, making sure that it was safe. Given your experience, paint a picture for us of what's happening inside. And I'm also curious about the wording "court authorized event" for officials describing what they're doing there.

GAGLIANO: Sure. As a former FBI crisis management coordinator in New York City, I had some of these folks that are doing the job there right now in Antioch that worked under my umbrella in crisis management. This is the FBI's evidence response team. And the way you can look at them is they are the forensic evidence harvesters. They're the ones that go there and collect the evidence, much like you'd see in "CSI: Miami" on TV. One of those crime scene investigation shows.

Now, the things that are critical -- there's two things. One obviously is the physical evidence that could tie itself to the potential bomber, that's what this person who lived in Antioch is. The other thing are basically three things that I talked about yesterday -- the digital exhaust. The FBI's looking for internet searches.

They're also using the internet and, Natasha pointed it out at the top, Google Earth shows a RV that looks very similar to the one that was in Nashville at this location. Now this person's house is not being considered to be a suspect or target in the investigation, but a person of interest.

Number two, cell phone records. Trying to patch together who did this person call, who were they in contact with. And, lastly, surveillance cameras. Look, there's not an inch of the United States really unless you go out very far in the rural areas that aren't covered by surveillance cameras, license plate readers and toll record collections. So, those are the things the FBI's evidence response team are going to be looking to collect.

SANCHEZ: Yes. And specifically with the RV, I'm glad you mentioned that. You could see it on the street view on Google Maps. It appears to match the one that we saw near the crime scene in closed-circuit camera footage. As a main piece of evidence, what methods are there to verifying that it's the same RV? Is there a physical way to do that, or do they have to rely on video evidence?

GAGLIANO: Well, I want you to think back in 1993, the first World Trade Center bombing. Remember in that cavernous hole, and I stood over the hole the same day that the explosion took place, the FBI was able to find a partial VIN number to track down the bomber and the bombing conspiracy. In this instance it's the same thing, they're going to be sifting through the debris. Now thankfully there were three injuries in this, but there were no casualties. No -- nobody was killed during this blast.

So the FBI is going to be doing a lot of things. They're going to be trying to determine whether or not was this a simple device or a more sophisticated device, and most importantly, was this a single bomber, or did this bomber receive any material aid in support in the conspiracy to do this. They don't believe that as yet. But I'm certain we'll find out more today when they give a press conservatives later this afternoon.

SANCHEZ: Yes. I look forward to hearing what investigators have to say. Really appreciate your insight. James Gagliano, terrific as always, thanks so much.

GAGLIANO: Thanks for having me, Boris.

SANCHEZ: Of course. Next, a snapshot of the global movement to end the pandemic. As the coronavirus hits more than 80 million cases, we'll take you to Europe as several countries there begin vaccinations.

Plus, how racial inequality is challenging the coronavirus vaccine rollout. CNN reports from Chicago on the barriers that African- Americans are facing and the fight to eradicate COVID-19.



SANCHEZ: Welcome back. Around the world the coronavirus cases have hit 80 million as new restrictions are rolled out in response to a new variant of the virus, a new mutation. Israel has discovered five cases of it there. And in less than four hours, it's going to enter its third lockdown.

Also starting Monday, new travel bans are being implemented. In Japan, no foreign nationals will be allowed to enter the country. And travelers from the U.K. where the variant was first discovered will be required to have a negative COVID test before heading here to the United States.

Right now, parts of Europe are joining the U.K. in giving people the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. Italy is among the countries taking part in this rollout, administering its first doses to health and emergency workers over the past few hours. Barbie Nadeau is live in Rome for us. Barbie, thanks for joining us. Talk us through how the vaccine was rolled out earlier.

BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You know, it's really, really a monumental day here. And it really does bring things full circle here. The hospital behind me, the Spallanzani Infectious Disease Hospital, is where the first two cases in Italy were treated back in January. Italy, of course, became the epicenter -- first European epicenter outside of China for the pandemic. And this morning, five people were vaccinated at 8:00 a.m. These are

people -- health workers, two doctors, a nurse, a researcher. They're going to be now be part of the team that helps vaccinate the other health care workers in this hospital.

Italy though only has 9,750 doses of the vaccine so far. They're hoping to get about 450,000 a week as they roll out this massive vaccination process across the country. It's going to be a free vaccine for anybody who wants it. And they're going to be setting up gazebos in small towns across Italy to make sure that everyone who wants the vaccine is vaccinated. They're hoping to have it done by September, Boris.

SANCHEZ: Barbie, Italy went through such a difficult time in the spring. And there are worrying new numbers now during the holiday season, all these months later.


Walk us through those concerns.

NADEAU: Yes. I mean, Italy has more than 71,000 deaths. That's the highest number in Europe. And what's really concerning is that more than half of those deaths occurred during the second wave, not the first wave when everybody was so focused on what was happening here.

Now we are in total lockdown across Italy right now. Just like we were in March. You're not supposed to leave your home unless you have, you know, health care issues or you get groceries, things like that. We are in a lockdown over the holiday season to try to mitigate the spread and to try to avoid having a third wave.

The numbers here are still very, very high, 18,000 new cases yesterday. This is the country of 60 million people, that's about a sixth the size of the United States. Those numbers are really big for this population. And the number of deaths is really, really, really disturbing. And those deaths aren't going down either -- Boris.

SANCHEZ: Barbie Nadeau, reporting from Rome, thank you so much for that.

Back to the United States now. As the coronavirus vaccine continues to roll out here, some in the black community say they are worried they will be left behind. CNN national Correspondent Omar Jimenez spoke with them in West Side, Chicago.


OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: How long have you lived in this neighborhood?

ROCHELLE SYKES, LIVES IN CHICAGO'S AUSTIN NEIGHBORHOOD: All my life, 55 years. It's changed a whole lot.

If they're going to roll out a vaccine, and they're going to roll it out to grocery stores and pharmacies, I see a problem. JIMENEZ: You feel, just because the vaccine is available, it's not necessarily going to be accessible?

SYKES: That is correct.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): Rochelle Sykes lives in the predominantly black West Side, Chicago neighborhood of Austin and is in a zip code that has among the highest COVID-19 death rates in the city. And the barriers to getting a vaccine are already taking shape, ranging anywhere from distance to pharmacies, confidence in health care, and even personal safety, as Austin is also among the city's most violent neighborhoods.

SYKES: Is it even worth the time, OK? You hear gunshots. You got to get out and get in your car. They're doing carjackings. And if you don't feel safe, then you just don't do it.

JIMENEZ: Just down the street, Loretto Hospital was host to the city's first COVID-19 vaccination and the first to set up a West Side community testing site back in April, one they plan to soon turn into a community vaccination site.

DR. AFYA KHAN, DIRECTOR OF INFECTION CONTROL, LORETTO HOSPITAL: In order to stop this virus eventually, we all have to do our part. And we want to make sure we involve everybody. We're experiencing three types of pandemics. And that's violence, racism, as well as COVID-19.

JIMENEZ: It's an issue leadership continues to wrestle with.

DR. ALLISON ARWADY, COMMISSIONER, CHICAGO DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Where any part of the city is not supported enough, it indirectly impacts the entire city, not just that this is a, let's make sure that we treat COVID. It's about, what are the root causes that have made these neighborhoods, these subgroups in Chicago more vulnerable.

JIMENEZ (on camera): Parts of the downtown Chicago area have a life expectancy of up to 90 years old, according to an analysis out of NYU. Then, just about 10 miles down the road, near here on Chicago's South Side, the life expectancy goes down to 59.9. That's a difference of about 30 years, which that same NYU analysis says is the largest gap in the country.

EMMA WASHINGTON, LIVES ON CHICAGO'S SOUTH SIDE: All of a sudden, this virus came and took my sister away.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): Emma Washington is almost 80 years old. She lost her sister to COVID-19 in September and her brother to COVID the day before Christmas Eve.

And now she's considering what getting a vaccine is going to look like with her pharmacy over a mile away and no car to get her there.

WASHINGTON: I have to take one bus, and then I had another bus, because there was only one place around, Walgreens, around my area.

JIMENEZ: Now she mostly has her medication delivered. But this isn't a new phenomenon. One study, based on data from 2000 and 2012, found over 50 percent of the city's black communities were so-called pharmacy deserts, low-income neighborhoods where pharmacies are far from the population, and people don't have regular access to vehicles, compared with just 5 percent in white communities.

ARWADY: This is not something that's going to get solved in a year or in five years. But how do we take the COVID conversation and turn it into the conversation that links to chronic disease and homicide and infant mortality and HIV and opioid overdose?

Those are the five main drivers of our disparate life expectancies in Chicago. And COVID has indirectly impacted all of those.

JIMENEZ: But when it comes to COVID, for Sykes, along with those in Washington's community, the vaccine shot is about more than medicine. It's about getting a fair shot, without it being a long shot.

SYKES: We are in a lifeboat. They are on a cruiser. If you can come up with a vaccine within a year, why are we sitting in a community where there is no grocery store with fresh fruits and vegetables?


JIMENEZ: Omar Jimenez, CNN, Chicago.


SANCHEZ: Omar, thank you for that report. Let's bring in Dr. Chris Pernell. She's a Public Health Physician and self-described justice warrior. Dr. Pernell, thank you so much for joining us early on this Sunday morning, a holiday Sunday morning.

I want to get your reaction to the piece we just saw, African Americans voicing concerns about access to the coronavirus in areas that don't have access to things that are basic. Grocery stores, pharmacies, et cetera.

DR. CHRIS PERNELL, PUBLIC HEALTH PHYSICIAN: We've been describing these deserts for years. Actually, we've been describing these deserts for decades. And as you heard in that piece and I like to say myself, we're grappling more than with more than one pandemic. We have this fast pandemic, which is coronavirus, which is an unprecedented public health crisis. But likewise, we have the slow pandemic, the system systemic racism.

And systemic racism has left certain neighborhoods and communities historically excluded and disenfranchised, which allows them not to have the full access in the form of eligibility to the fullness of health and well-being. And if this pandemic has taught us anything is that, as long as one community suffers, our whole nation suffers.

SANCHEZ: Now, doctor, I wanted to ask you about a specific story out of Indiana. And as a physician on the front line, I must imagine that this personally must have struck you, it's Dr. Susan Moore. She recorded a message from her bed where she was being treated for COVID- 19. And she accused the hospital that she was staying at basing her treatment on her race. Listen to this.


DR. SUSAN MOORE, COVID-19 PATIENT: I put forth and I maintain that if I was white, I wouldn't have to go through that. I was in so much pain from my neck. My neck hurt so bad. I was crushed. He made me feel like I was a drug addict, and he knew I was a physician.


SANCHEZ: That is incredibly painful to watch and I'm curious to get your reaction.

PERNELL: It's infuriating and unfortunately, I've had similar experiences. Look, I'm a woman with a chronic health condition and I remember when I was first diagnosed, I had to go into my doctor's appointment with a journal article in order for my doctor to hear me, to believe me and to validate my symptoms. Black people have been facing this sense of institutional racism implicit bias within the American healthcare system.

And actually, this is rooted in that same slow pandemic that I was describing, the systemic racism. And we have to speak Dr. Susan Moore's name. But more than speaking her name, we must begin to dismantle and disrupt that racism that disallows and prevents all people from having the full access to life until a livelihood that keeps them healthy.

Look, I fought for my mom when she was sick. A black woman who had severe Parkinson's who at one point had showed up in the emergency room, and actually had a ticking time bomb in her belly. He had a splenic artery aneurysm, but the physician said there wasn't anything wrong with her and discharged her.

This is a historic problem. And until we can face it together collectively as a nation, racism will continue to be a public health threat, and racism will continue to be a national security threat. We can't be hold prosperous and be the fullness of the American ideals that we tout, unless we deal with issues like these.

SANCHEZ: Yes. And given that historical injustice, specifically when it comes to health care, the way that the African American community has been treated historically, specifically around the issue of vaccines, now presents the issue of skepticism toward vaccines in that community. How do you go about bridging the gap now when getting people vaccinated that's so important in eradicating this virus?

PERNELL: You have transparent and authentic conversations. I've been having these conversations in community whether it's virtually, whether it's on the phone, or whether it's in small group setting. And you start with speaking the truth and speaking the names, the names of those who have suffered at the hands of these injustices. Then you begin to validate concerns, validate fears. You meet science with empathy.

And you begin to explain just what allowed us to be able to produce these vaccines in the speed that we have, what allows these vaccines to be considered safe and effective. You describe the technology but you don't forget the history. You don't forget the lived experience.

And, yes, we talk a lot about that historical trauma but it's the cases like Dr. Moore's that black communities, brown communities that they see. They only -- don't see the history. They see these ongoing issues.


So we want to hear, yes, this vaccine is safe but we also want to hear what is going to be done around those social determinants of health, what is going to be done around making available quality health care to all persons. That conversation has to be held in tandem if we're going to erase or eradicate the skepticism.

The last thing I'll say, it's not just about building trust, because that takes time, but it's about demonstrating trustworthiness. And that's the conversation and dialogue that we have to take into community.

SANCHEZ: And, Dr. Pernell, I also wanted to get your thoughts on the time of year and the fact that with so many Americans traveling Christmas behind us, New Year's just around the corner. Health officials are bracing for another surge to come in a few weeks. What would you say to people out there about celebrating the holidays safely given what we're expecting to come in January?

PERNELL: You know, I'm going to repeat something I heard Governor Cuomo say because I think it's spot on. We have to celebrate smart. We have to celebrate smart so that we can be with our loved ones into the New Year and well into the future. Everyone has to do their part. We all have a part to play in solving this economic, this public health crisis.

So I would just say to people I understand. I understand that you want to be around loved ones. I understand that you want to breathe. We're all fighting to breathe, right? We're all fighting to experience what we consider to be our normal lives. But if we take risk, if we cut corners, we're only going to prevent the future that we're so desperately fighting for.

SANCHEZ: Well said. Dr. Chris Pernell, thank you so much for the time this morning.

PERNELL: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Of course. They voted in support of the bill but at the last minute the President rejected it. The President's refusal to sign the COVID relief bill could put Senators Purdue and Loeffler in a tough spot with Georgia voters ahead of next week's decisive runoffs. We'll be right back.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) [06:40:27]

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel good this time, got my smile on shine and I'm guessing that tomorrow going to be all right.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): With all eyes on Georgia and the two January Senate run offs, dozens of musicians came together Saturday for a one- day virtual concert to get out the vote. The Georgia comes a live concert included performances from artists like the Foo Fighters, Dave Matthews and Musiq Soulchild.


SANCHEZ: President Trump's refusal to sign off on billions of dollars in COVID relief is leaving the Republican candidates in those Senate races in a tough spot. Incumbent GOP Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler are both running on their close ties to Trump. Both of them voted for the bill that he is refusing to sign. Perdue even ran ads promoting it saying that he delivered money that is now not coming.

But he has yet to say if he agrees with the President's call for direct payments of $2,000 rather than the $600 already in the bill. His opponent, Jon Ossoff has called for his campaign to take down those ads since the President never signed the bill. Purdue's campaign has not responded to CNN's inquiries about the status of his ads.

Meantime, Senator Loeffler saying that she is open to that idea of $2,000 checks, but she argues that other parts of the relief package would have to be cut to accommodate the expense. Both Democratic opponents in the race support the bigger stimulus checks, which means they are more in line with the President than many of his own senators.

Here with me now is the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun- Times, Lynn Sweet. Lynn, thank you so much for getting up early for us and joining us this morning.

Now, the President is still saying that he wants those $2,000 checks for Americans. Is there any chance that Mitch McConnell and other Republicans in the Senate are going to sign on to it now that Lindsey Graham is behind it?

LYNN SWEET, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Well, there is a chance it could happen but things are very complicated bow. The President has not signaled what he wants to do, which makes it harder for Mitch McConnell to figure out what to do on his end. Of course, the Senate Majority Leader could do what he wants, Boris, independent of the President.

But I think and analyzing what is going to happen very soon, is you can't discount that President Trump is more focused on overturning the election right now than in doing the work, it needs to get Republican senators on board with Lindsey Graham, to pass the legislation that not only has a whole package of COVID-related benefits for the nation, but also it's packaged with a piece of legislation that keeps government open. SANCHEZ: Yes. And obviously unemployment benefits set to expire, millions are on the brink of evictions. What is at stake, ultimately, if Congress doesn't pass anything, doesn't act on this wave of COVID relief?

SWEET: Well, you know, there could be -- if Trump does nothing, then the bill becomes law within 10 days of it being formally passed and enrolled, so that's why this is a very tense, dramatic and tough situation that the President has thrown the nation into. If he just vetoed the bill, then it could go back to Congress and there would likely be enough votes to override it.

That's why the inaction of the President is one of the most unpresidential things he is doing now. OK, he could have negotiated the deal, Boris, he didn't. Put that aside, he changed his mind. Now he wants the $2,000. There are still things he could do to get it done that he's not doing, because if you check his Twitter feed, you'll find that he's been spending the past hours, even late into last night, into trying to get people to go to the Capitol to demonstrate on the day, January 6th, that the Congress counts Electoral College votes, by the way, that's the day after the Georgia election.

SANCHEZ: Right. And getting to the runoffs in Georgia, the two candidates on the Republican side which will ultimately determine control of the US Senate, they've yet to say if they agree with that figure, that $2,000 that Trump wants, nine days left in the race. How is that going to impact voters?


SWEET: Well, confuse, but the Democrats have the chance now to portray themselves as not only populist but in line with President Trump, in case there are any swing voters left out there still undecided about what to do.

Georgia voted for Joe Biden. The voters are there having this uncertainty probably advantages, the Democrats, because if you don't focus on a lot of issues as a voter, but you know that you have nothing right now. You could have had $600, maybe even $2,000, but it's the Republicans who are blocking it. Then, it may give an advantage to the two Democratic Senate candidates.

SANCHEZ: Yes. And it makes you curious as to why the President is doing this, if there is a political motivation or if he's just lashing out over the election.

I also wanted to ask you about the President's pardons very quickly. He's issued several dozen of them and we are anticipating more. What are some big names still out there that you think might receive a pardon from the President, Lynn?

SWEET: Well, the biggest names, the two that we were expecting, of course, in Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner's father. So, I think there still might be a few of Muller investigation people out there. I would look for the biggest names, of course, would be Ivanka and -- Ivanka Trump, her brothers and her, you know, and if there are any other related family members that Trump thinks may be part of a federal investigation, and (inaudible).

SANCHEZ: Yes. Certainly, one of the most dramatic lame duck presidents that we've had in many, many years. Lynn Sweet, thank you so much.

SWEET: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: There is some magic some, Fitzmagic in the air in Miami this morning. The Miami Dolphins calling on their grizzled backup quarterback pulling out a prime time miracle. You will not want to miss these highlights when we come back.



SANCHEZ: The Miami Dolphins are one game away from their first playoff game since 2016. All thanks to Little Fitzmagic. Coy Wire joins us now with the Bleacher Report.

Coy, I don't say this because, as you know, I'm a huge Dolphins fan. That was one of the most incredible plays I've ever seen.

COY WIRE, SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: It really was. This game was incredible. Congrats to you, Boris, the Dolphins can feel those playoffs. They control their own destiny. Last night, felt a little bit like fate.

Rookie starter, Tua Tagovailoa, is struggling for the Dolphins. So coach switched the flippers, in comes Ryan Fitzpatrick. And he flips the switch from Miami, 183 yards in the fourth quarter and this TD in relief of Tua, who fits humbly mentored after being replaced by him earlier this season. And then came the moment, Boris, down two with 90 seconds left. The 16-year vet shows why they call him Fitzmagic.

One of the most incredible passes you'll see despite nearly having his head ripped off. He's somehow connected on that deep ball that set up Jason Sanders for the 44 yard game winning field goal. Dolphins went 26-25, and wait to hear how Fitz found out he was going in the game.


Ryan Fitzpatrick, Miami Dolphins. The tunnel thing was weird because it's the first time in my 16-year career I've had to go to the bathroom so bad that I had to go during the game.

And so I ran in there to take a pee, and then I came back out. And when I came back out Flo said, hey, get ready. You're going in.


WIRE: And he went all in, all right. Tom Brady continuing to defy the laws of time, the 43-year-old tossing four first half touchdowns in a 47 to 7 beat down with the Lions yesterday. His 36 touchdowns on the season, breaks the Bucs' all time record. TB12 is also now the first player in NFL history to make 12 straight playoffs. He leaves the Bucs to snap a 12-year playoff drought. While without him, his former team New England misses the playoffs for the first time in 12 years, Boris. It was a great day of NFL football, another huge slate of games today with playoff implications.

SANCHEZ: That's right. If the Dolphins squeeze in, you and I may have to make a bit of a wager. They'll be taken on the Buffalo Bills if they make it.

WIRE: Well, you know it.

SANCHEZ: Coy Wire, thank you so much. Stay with us, we'll be right back.



SANCHEZ: Look, it's been a rough year. Many of us are banking on a reset when we ring in 2021. And if there's any band that knows what it takes to put on a brave face and stick your tongue out to the world, it's KISS. CNN's Chloe Melas spoke to them about their rocket ride out of 2020.

CHLOE MELAS, ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER: Good morning, Boris. The legendary rock band KISS wants to rock and roll all night by sending 2020 off with a massive concert on New Year's Eve that they're calling "Kiss 2020 Goodbye."


PAUL STANLEY, CO-FOUNDER, KISS: We thought here's an opportunity for us to have some fun and try to break some Guinness World Records, and we will. We have a million dollars worth of pyro. We have an enormous stage. There'll be 3,000 people there who are safely distance from us and we'll be playing all the songs everybody's known for the last, my gosh, it's almost 50 years. That's crazy. But this will be a night to remember.


MELAS: The concert will be held at the Royal Beach in Atlantis Dubai, and it has been months in the making. Organizers say there will be a COVID screen audience, and for everybody else it's going to be live streamed all over the world.

SANCHEZ: Chloe Melas, thanks for that. Don't go anywhere, NEW DAY continues after a quick break.