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New Day Sunday

Devastating Frost Could Force Wine Prices To Skyrocket; Lack Of Supply Making Christmas Trees More Expensive This Year; Two Storm Systems Could Complicate Post-Thanksgiving Travel. Aired 6-7a ET

Aired November 28, 2021 - 06:00   ET



ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning and welcome to your NEW DAY. I'm Alex Marquardt in this morning for Boris Sanchez.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Alex. I'm Christi Paul.

Countries around the world are on high alert as new cases of the Omicron variant are emerging. Travel restrictions already in effect with more to come, as officials here in the U.S. warn the variant is likely already here.

MARQUARDT: And comply or else. A member of the January 6th committee says that former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows will have to make some decisions this week about whether he will be complying with a subpoena or face the consequences.

PAUL: And we're tracking heavy rain and snow. Oh, yes. I know millions of you are trying to head home today. We've got your post-Thanksgiving travel forecast.

All right. The last day of the holiday weekend. It is Sunday, November 28th. We are so grateful to have your company as always. Good morning, Alex.

MARQUARDT: Good morning, Christi. So nice to be back with you this morning especially on such a busy news day.

PAUL: Yes. Let's talk about it.

MARQUARDT: And let's get right to it. Yes. We begin this morning with countries around the world locking down as scientists are racing to learn more about this new Omicron COVID variant.

PAUL: Yes. More countries confirmed cases of this new variant. In fact, U.S. health experts are warning the strain could already be in the U.S.


DR. MEGAN RANNEY, ASSOCIATE DEAN OF PUBLIC HEALTH AT BROWN UNIVERSITY: There's no way that it's in this many countries across the world and it has not made it here into our shores. Now that we have our eyes open for it, it's probably going to be days until we find and confirm that there are cases here in the U.S.


MARQUARDT: But today, airline passengers around the world are rushing to make their flights before those travel restrictions go into effect. Starting tomorrow, President Biden has restricted travelers from South Africa as well as seven other African countries surrounding it from entering the United States.

PAUL: And with COVID cases already surging across the country, Vice President Kamala Harris says the administration is doing what's necessary to protect Americans.


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have been briefed and as the president has said, we're going to take every precaution and so that's why we've taken the measures we have.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think there will be any additional travel restrictions?

HARRIS: We'll take it one step at a time, but as of now, we've done what we believe is necessary.


PAUL: The U.S. health experts are still stressing that COVID vaccinations are the best protection we have, even as this new variant emerges.

MARQUARDT: And we are covering every angle of this global story with our reporters around the globe.

PAUL: So we want to start with CNN's Polo Sandoval. He's at Newark International Airport there in New Jersey. Passengers there from around the world continue to arrive ahead of tomorrow's travel restrictions because, again, remember this starts tomorrow. So, Polo, give us a sense of what it's like there and good morning.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you guys. You know, we are still awaiting the arrival of a United flight that actually left Johannesburg and on its way here to Newark. It should be arriving in the next hour here. United along with Delta are those two major U.S. carriers that are potentially being affected by this new wave of travel restrictions that have been put in place by the White House here.

Now as well -- as far as those two airlines, they released statements at the start of the weekend here saying that they do not have any plans on actually scaling back on that service that continues to connect both South Africa and the United States. In fact, United Airlines releasing a statement, actually, addressing why they plan to continue offering that service in a statement that was released by the airline on Friday. They said that they continue to monitor how the new travel restrictions to Africa may impact demand and remains committed to maintaining a safe and vital link for essential supplies and personnel to transit between the African countries -- the African continent, I should say, and the U.S. as feasible.

So, that's certainly key here. The airline say that they obviously are committed to providing those kinds of services, especially those vital supplies that various nations actually around the world need, so at this point, they don't have any plans. But that really does give you a sense, more or less, of what we're expecting.

Now, we should mention, again, those travel restrictions that would kick into place tomorrow and those would specifically affect those non-U.S. citizens, those nonpermanent residents here. So at this point it seems that this would be one of the final flights, at least for now, that would allow some of those non-U.S. citizens traveling from South Africa to enter the United States.

We're waiting for that flight to arrive. We're waiting to speak to them to see if there are new protocols in place to make sure that that new variant isn't detected here in the U.S. which authorities say is inevitable.

PAUL: Yes. Absolutely. Polo Sandoval, we appreciate it. Thank you.

So let's go to South Africa where the Omicron variant, remember, was first detected and scientists are praising health officials for acting so quickly in response to it.


MARQUARDT: Yes, that's right. CNN's David McKenzie is joining us live from Johannesburg. David, in the past 48 hours really, we've seen the world shut its doors to South Africa. What are officials there saying now?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alex and Christi. Yes, they are angry, frankly. They say that South African scientists are being punished for their good work. The latest -- the president of Malawi, who also happens to be the head of the regional bloc here saying that these restrictions need to be based on science not -- quote -- "Afriphobia." So there is a sense of frustration.

You know, what everyone around the world wants to know is just how dangerous this variant is, but there are a lot of unknowns. Here's what we don't know and based on our conversations with scientists here, where we might be getting some hints. Transmissibility, is this variant more infectious? Does it spread quicker than the already very infectious Delta variant?

You know, here where I'm sitting in Johannesburg there appears to be science say scientists that this is spreading quickly over the low base. It could be fitter in evolutionary terms, immune evasion. If you've had COVID before, does this protect you against this new variant? They just don't know.

Over the next few weeks -- and it will be frustrating for everyone, they're going to try to figure that out in a lab. And there is some sense there should be some protection, but we don't know.

The big one, vaccine efficacy. You know, again, in the lab, they will be challenging live virus, and we've seen this before in this country, to try and figure out whether there's any evasion from the vaccine. You know, the current consensus amongst South African scientists is that there might be some drop in efficacy, but it still should be protection against severe disease even with this highly mutated variant.

And finally, the big one, I think, severity. Will people get more sick because of this variant? That we just don't know.

At this stage there isn't a rush in the hospitals in South Africa. But top experts here are saying there's always a lag between infection and hospitalization. We'll have to go watch that very closely here in the next few weeks. Alex, Christi.

MARQUARDT: Yes. So much uncertainty, all the scientists and public health experts saying sit tight. We need to figure this out. This is going to take a couple of weeks. David McKenzie in Johannesburg, thank you very much.

Now Israel is going farther than most countries in banning all foreigners from entering Israel in response to these Omicron fears. The country is also taking other steps to contain the spread of the virus.

PAUL: CNN correspondent Hadas Gold joins us live from Beersheva, Israel. Hadas, good to see you this morning. What more can you tell us?

HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christi, as of right now Israeli health officials say that there are seven suspected cases. One confirmed case of this new variant of the COVID virus in Israel right now. The confirmed case is from somebody who recently traveled from Malawi. Four of the suspected cases are from people who recently traveled abroad, suggesting that three of the cases may have been transmitted locally.

Now as a result of this new variant, as you noted, Israel is taking very strict new measures, immediately shutting the borders for two weeks to all non-Israelis. This is, as you noted, much farther than other countries are doing.

Any Israeli who is returning to the country no matter where they are coming from, no matter their vaccination or recovery status, must be in quarantine for three days and take two negative PCR tests before they can be released. If they're unvaccinated that quarantine increases to seven days. Then if there is -- are Israelis who are returning from what are called red countries, this is essentially most of the African countries, except from some of the northern countries, no matter their vaccination status they will actually be taken to special quarantine hotels before they can be released.

And additionally, anybody who has a confirmed case of this new variant will have their movements tracked by the Israeli security agency, the Shin Bet, via their cell phones. You can just see how seriously the Israeli government is taking this new variant.

However, despite all of this, there will be no changes. They announced no big changes, to the Hanukkah celebrations. Hanukkah begins tonight. So there will be no new restrictions in place for events or anything like that.

And I should also actually note that in just two weeks the Miss Universe pageant is expected to take place in the southern city of Eilat here in Israel. We're expecting many, many contestants, of course, all the support people, so far Israeli officials say that that will continue on as planned.

PAUL: Hadas Gold, we appreciate it so much. Thank you.

So as more countries detect cases of the Omicron variant, it's just a matter of time before it's detected here in the U.S. Dr. Anthony Fauci, in fact, said it's most likely already here.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I would not be surprised if it is. We have not detected it yet. When you have a virus like this, it almost invariably is ultimately going to go essentially all over.



PAUL: Dr. Anand Swaminathan with us now. He's an emergency medicine physician and he has been with us through so much of this pandemic. Doctor, good to see you again. Thank you so much.

We heard there about the questions that are still existing regarding this variant. We know the transmissibility is a big factor here, but in terms of the vaccines' potency, in terms of the severity of getting ill, that is still in question. How confident are you that there will be expediency in trying to determine those and even the possibility of expediency in determining those factors so we know what we're really dealing with right now?

DR. ANAND SWAMINATHAN, EMERGENCY MEDICINE PHYSICIAN: I think we're going to have answers about vaccine efficacy in the next couple days to weeks and a lot will come from bench science, from laboratory science, and it seems that there's a -- there's a good chance that, like some prior variants, having a high antibody level might be protective even though there is some immune evasion. So we'll have to look for that data to come out.

As far as severity, that's going to emerge over the next couple days to weeks as well. There's some hint from South Africa that if you've had the vaccine already, this produces a relatively mild disease. We're going to hope that that holds up, but that is very early data. It's not enough for us to really be reliant on.

And so, Christi, it really comes back to what should we be doing right now? Everyone who isn't vaccinated this should be just one more prompt to go and get your first vaccine, get down that pathway. If you're eligible for a booster go ahead and get boosted. Get your antibody levels higher so you're more resistant to these kinds of infections.

And then we need to be focused, of course, the public health interventions that we know work for all the variants. Keep your mask on, avoid indoor settings with lots of people and then we need to really embrace home testing. And, of course, we say that like it's easy. The problem, of course, is that more than half the states in this country are putting laws into place that are blocking some of these public health measures where we need to really be embracing them.

PAUL: And to your point, one of the things that we have heard consistently about just the variants that we already know about, is that most of the people in hospitals are people who are not immunized. South Africa now saying the same thing. Most of the people with this variant, with Omicron, are hospitalized and they have not been immunized.

So, we know mutations are going to be consistent. This is going to happen, we're assuming, over and over again as this virus continues to mutate. I heard one doctor say, listen, be alert but don't panic. Do you agree with that?

SWAMINATHAN: I don't think panic is ever a useful public health measure. We shouldn't be panicking. We should be thinking logically about what should we be doing to help protect ourselves.

And travel bans are probably a little bit more political theater than they're actually going to be useful. We actually believe these to be helpful we should start it on Friday. We should have been shutting down travel from everywhere. But that's not really what we did. And so I don't think that they are going to be really effective.

And I agree with Dr. Anthony Fauci that it's likely that Omicron is already here. And so, again, we have to embrace those things that we know work. But at the same time, we also have to say, why are we here and are these mutations, are these variant, inevitable?

The reason that we're here is we haven't done enough to vaccinate the globe. We haven't pushed enough for that. We've been very self- congratulatory in the U.S. about getting vaccines to other countries. We donated millions of vaccines. Many of those vaccines haven't arrived. They haven't actually gotten into the arms that need them and donating vaccines is inadequate.

We need to be pushing manufactures to share the technology for these vaccines. We need to be sharing our logistical support with other places. We have to continue to understand that the only way to get through this pandemic is to get through it together.

And unless we really recommit ourselves to true global vaccination, then yes, we will continue to see these variants emerge. But if we double down on vaccination around the globe and within the pockets in the U.S., we can shut those variants down. PAUL: So we heard from David there as he was saying, you know, South Africa and the officials there are concerned and they're angry because the world is essentially shutting them out. Talk to us, though, about the fact that South Africa has been very open about this, had it not been for their transparency and candidness, this could have been a lot worse, could it not?

SWAMINATHAN: Not only have they been very open but they've been extremely good in detecting these things. You know, in the -- in the states the reason we haven't detected Omicron is probably because we're not as good about genomic sequencing. We don't have those things in place.

South Africa has done an incredible job. We should be congratulating them. And instead of closing our borders, putting in travel bans, we should really be reaching out and saying, "What can we do to help? What else can we do to help you to get more of this science, more of this data" -- because they're doing such an incredible job right now. And by really reacting this way, the way that we have with travel bans, it really does penalize people from sharing that information wide.


And it's not just about this pandemic, but it's about future pandemics as well. We don't want countries to think, "If I share the data that we have about something emerging, we're going to get penalized for doing that." So that's really a big concern that we need to look at, not just right now, but going forward as well.

PAUL: Yes, very good point. Dr. Anand Swaminathan, we appreciate your expertise and you getting up early this share it with us. Thank you, sir.


MARQUARDT: And feeling the heat, House leader Kevin McCarthy is -- House minority leader, we should say, is trying to rein in his members, but is it enough? Coming up next, why moderate Republicans are not happy and more opposition could spell trouble if McCarthy is hoping to be House speaker if the GOP takes back the House next year.

Plus, she's earned the nickname Iron Gran. Later this hour we'll be catching up with the oldest woman in Britain to have competed and completed an Ironman competition. That's coming up.



MARQUARDT: The Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is doing cleanup duty for the far right wing of his party. The top House Republican says that he spoke with Congressman Lauren Boebert on Friday after she made bigoted anti-Muslim comments about her Democratic colleague Ilhan Omar. Though Boebert didn't apologized directly to Omar McCarthy says that she is hoping to do it privately. McCarthy says that he reached out to Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer to set up a meeting between the two congresswomen. He said that it was so -- quote -- "So that Congress can get back to talking to each other and working on the challenges facing the American people."

PAUL: And former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows could hear from the January 6th committee soon if he continues to evade the panel's subpoena. Committee member Pete Aguilar wouldn't directly say whether the group will issue contempt charges as they did with Steve Bannon but he did imply the window is closing for Meadows.


REP. PETE AGUILAR (D-CA): There's still a small window in which he can still comply here and so we're keeping an eye on the calendar ahead this week. And if Mr. Meadows does comply with the subpoena that he has been given, then we can prevent some of those steps. But if he doesn't comply, the committee has made very clear, just as we did with Steve Bannon, that we're willing to use whatever means necessary. And so I think that that's something that we'll have better clarity on here in the next week.


MARQUARDT: It's going to be a busy week up on Capitol Hill and to get into all that we are joined now by "Politico" congressional reporter Nicholas Wu. Nicholas, thank you so much for being with us this morning.


MARQUARDT: Let's start right there where the congressman left off. What do we expect from former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows? Because the committee has, as we saw with Steve Bannon, fired a shot across the bow and shown their willingness to ask the DOJ to indict on criminal contempt charges. So what do we expect from Meadows?

WU: Meadows is a slightly different case than Bannon just because, as the committee sees it, Bannon was very much an extreme case here. Not only, you know, was he not a White House official of any kind at the time of January 6th and all the other events that committee is looking into, but he also did not engage at all with the committee for the most part. He did not respond to subpoenas. He did not show up. He did not even try to, you know, show up before the committee to plead the Fifth or invoke executive privilege. So, you know, there was a stronger case there for this contempt of Congress charge.

As for Mark Meadows, you know, his lawyer has made a show and the committee has talked about being in negotiations with him over these past couple of months. But, you know, it's been over two months since the first subpoenas were issued for him, and they haven't had a whole lot to show for it. His lawyer had offered to do some sort of written answers to questions for the committee, but the committee has signaled that would not be sufficient for them. So, you know, they're inching closer towards a contempt referral, but as we heard from Congressman Aguilar just now, no final decisions have been made on that. MARQUARDT: What do we know about what the committee is hoping to get from Meadows? Because we do know that Chairman Bennie Thompson has written a letter outlining their goals about the information they're hoping to get from Meadows. What do we know about that?

WU: Chairman Thompson had told me and other reporters that this letter had been drafted and this was all part of the paper trail that the committee is trying to leave behind before they inch towards a contempt charge. Showing that, you know, they've gone back and forth. They've made an effort in good faith to reach some sort of accommodation and show what they wanted and exactly, you know, how they would go about doing so.

And Meadows, in particular, is someone -- he is particularly big fish for the committee, so to speak, because, you know, he was the chief of staff to the president at the time, and as they see it, he could shed -- his testimony could shed light on what exactly the president was doing on January 6th and what efforts were done to try to get him to call off the violence or anything else, really, that was going on in the White House at that time, much of which we still don't know about.

MARQUARDT: Let's look ahead to next year. We've got the midterms obviously next November and there's already some talk about Kevin McCarthy and his chances of becoming House speaker if Republicans take back the House.

A moderate House Republican told CNN just yesterday that McCarthy is actually taking the middle of his conference, of his caucus, for granted. There's so much focus, of course, on the far right on the Matt Gaetzes, on the Marjorie Taylor Greenes. Do you think Kevin McCarthy is making the wrong calculation here?

WU: There's certainly some concern from more moderate House Republicans about that, from what I've heard around -- from House Republicans and elsewhere, is that there's this real concern that, you know, with all this talk from Marjorie Taylor Greene and other Republicans on the further right that, you know, people in the middle need to be punished for their votes for the infrastructure package and so on, that, you know, McCarthy -- yes is in fact taking these guys for granted and just sees that they'll go along with the conference no matter what, which, of course, is no real guarantee here as we've seen with people bucking leadership in the party and elsewhere.


MARQUARDT: And there are a couple big deadlines coming up, Nicholas. They have to figure out a way to get the government funded by the end of this week. We, of course, have the clock ticking down on the debt ceiling. What is it going to take to get all of this done?

WU: This is a classic problem in Congress. So you save all the problems until the last minute and then try to clear them all at once. So, yes, we have all these deadlines piling up at the end of the year. The debt ceiling, government funding, defense policy bill, not to mention Democrats trying to pass Build Back Better through the Senate and then back through the House again. And so, you know, the biggest deterrent here to any kind of major stalemate is the fact that a lot of lawmakers really don't want to stay in Washington through the end of Christmas. And so, you know, that's often something that can force everyone to the table and bring a compromise together, if anything, just so lawmakers can get out of town.

MARQUARDT: All right. Well, as we said, it's going to be a busy week in Congress, Nicholas Wu. I know you'll be following all of it. Thanks so much for being with us this morning.

WU: Thank you.

PAUL: This is being called an agricultural disaster. Now how wine makers in France working to save what's left of the harvest and what it could mean for wine prices in the future. We'll tell you what's happening. Stay close.



CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Well added to the list. Wine prices could soon be going up after cold temperatures devastated grape harvest apparently in key French vineyards.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: It was such a bad frost that the country was forced to declare what they called an agricultural disaster. CNN Paris Correspondent Melissa Bell has more.


MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: At around $900,000, it was a record, A barrel of Corton-Renardes Grand Cru sold for charity and a break from the glam of a difficult here in Burgundy. So difficult that France declared an agricultural disaster.

The hauntingly beautiful candlelit vineyards this spring, a symbol for winemakers of catastrophe, a desperate attempt to save some of the most precious burgeoning vines in the world from some of the worst frost burgundy has seen in decades.

But those candles could only do so much. In the end, those freezing nights of April led to this. Here in the cellars of the Hospices de Beaune, normally the barrels are piled two layers high. This year, there are only 350 that will be up for auction, half the usual amount.

The annual wine auction at the medieval Hospices de Beaune also act as a bellwether for what 2021 burgundy wines might fetch. And this year, the bidding was fierce. Alberic Bichot is one of the region's biggest wine producers. He says the record frost cost him 70 percent of his white wines and 40 percent of his red.

So, you've lost in quantity, but what we think is that the prices will go up. Will they compensate for what's been lost? ALBERIC BICHOT, PRESIDENT, FEDERATION OF THE BURGUNDY WINE HOUSES:

They will not compensate for sure. Totally for burgundy, it's almost one billion euro of lost within three nights. So, it's kind of drama for all of us.

Pommard, Meursault, Nuits-Saint-Georges, villages whose names resonate throughout the world, but from which there will be far less wine in a couple of years when the 2021 harvest is ready to be drunk. Meanwhile, Alberic Bichot opens a bottle of his 2013 Vosne-Romanee. As for the 2021 harvest, he explains that a small one can also have advantages.

BICHOT: We have a high concentration of the juice both for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. So, we are still, still early to know. But what we're testing for the moment makes us very optimistic.


BELL: Melissa Bell, CNN, Burgundy.


MARQUARDT: Our thanks to Melissa Bell for that reporting.

A programming note, you can join Fareed Zakaria for an in depth look at China's leader, China's Iron Fist Xi Jinping and the stakes for America. That begins tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern time.

Now, clinging on to a plane's landing gear for hours, officials say that a man did just that in Miami. What we're learning about this apparent stowaway. That's coming up.



MARQUARDT: Welcome back. Here's a check on some of our other top stories this morning. An apparent stowaway is in custody after he was discovered on a plane at Miami International Airport. The man is 26 years old. He was hiding in the landing gear compartment of a flight from Guatemala. American Airlines says it's working with investigators. The man was taken to a hospital to be checked out. He seemed to be dazed, but otherwise all right after surviving the ordeal.

PAUL: That is extraordinary man. And listen to this one. There's a toddler who's become this internet sensation. She was filmed snowboarding. She's 11 months old. And she hit the slopes at a ski resort in China. Look at her go. She hasn't even, her parents say, quite mastered walking yet.

They say they put her on the board. They were surprised to see she was able to stand on her own and they kept encouraging her. She wears protective gear even inside her snow clothes, obviously, because she's only 11 months old. And their parents have hired a professional coach now to help train her. Good for her. I think we'll be seeing some more of her. I'm just saying. That's pretty good. So, I don't know. Is your Christmas tree up yet? Alex, did you put one


MARQUARDT: No, no. I was actually thinking about doing that today, in fact.


PAUL: OK. So, apparently, good luck. I mean, we did get ours right before -- right before our Thanksgiving. But apparently, it's going to be harder to find one this year.

MARQUARDT: Yes. This story has me worried. I'm going to go somewhere near here after work to go check it out. And the reason that this might be trouble is because Christmas tree sellers around the country are saying there just aren't as many of the real trees to go around. The supply chain has made both real and fake trees more expensive.

And reporter Justin Hinton from our affiliate WJLA has more on this Christmas tree -- Christmas tree potential catastrophe.


JUSTIN HINTON, REPORTER, WJLA: What makes for the perfect Christmas tree?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, that's always a debate between our family is to get the skinny tree or the fat tree.

HINTON: And the search isn't always easy.


HINTON: Especially for Deb Carl.

CARL: That's the one.

HINTON: She and her husband have already made two pitstops at area nurseries.

CARL: They had, oh my goodness, maybe a third of the supply that we've seen in past years. And they're tiny. They're cute, but they're like Charlie Brown trees. So, we decided to come here.

HINTON: Here is a parking lot in Centerville where Mount Rogers Christmas tree farm has set up shop. And she's convinced this is the right spot.

CARL: Our tree is here.

HINTON: Part of the reason she's struggling has to do with the Christmas tree shortage. Something owner Rodney Richardson is familiar with.

RODNEY RICHARDSON, OWNER, MT. ROGERS CHRISTMAS TREE FARM: We do wholesale but we've cut our cash burn back a little, you know, about 10 percent of each customer, and we're not taking on any new customers because we just don't have the trees. And that's pretty well the scenario for all growers down the hall.

HINTON: Part of the reason, about a decade and a half ago, growers had too many trees. Then the financial crisis of 2008 hit and people weren't buying them, making it worse. So, growers planted less.

Since it takes about a decade to grow the trees, the demand is now much higher for the supply that's available. Then, add in increased cost for fertilizer, fuel, and labor shortages. It all makes for a challenging time.

Even fig trees are harder to come by thanks to the supply chain shortage. But when it comes to selling the trees he grows for retail, Richardson, is not letting any of that slow him down, keeping his sense of humor along the way.

RICHARDSON: I thank you for looking around, sir. Our quality is pretty good. And when you're a grower, you can keep that quality, sell it to somebody else (INAUDIBLE).

HINTON: One thing you might notice when looking for that perfect tree is that you might have to spend a little more than in years past.

RICHARDSON: Production cost is up so the price has to be up a little bit, you know.

HINTON: So, the key to finding that perfect tree, start early, have patience, and expect to pay a little more.


MARQUARDT: A skinny or a fat tree, that is the annual question of this time of year. Well, today is one of the busiest travel days of the year as millions of Americans returned home from Thanksgiving holidays with their families and friends. And many will be met with rain while others are getting a taste of winter a little bit early. We'll be looking at the areas that are impacted. That's coming up next.



MARQUARDT: On one of the busiest travel weekends of the year, heavy rain is pounding and drenching the Pacific Northwest as well as the Gulf Coast.

PAUL: Yes, and parts of the Northeast seeing those snow flurries and gusty winds this morning. CNN Meteorologist Tyler Mauldin live from the Weather Center. So Tyler, how bad is it going to get?

TYLER MAULDIN, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Christi. Good morning, Alex. Let me start you off with some good news first. You see the map behind me? There's nothing but green. That means there are absolutely no weather delays at the moment. That could change though as we go through the rest of today because

you see the systems at play here. We got a system down to the south, we got the system up here to the north, and we've got the system across the Pacific Northwest. Any of those systems could cause a few minor weather delays as we go later on into today and on into early Monday.

Case in point, yesterday, Pittsburgh had a weather delay due to de- icing the airplane. So, we could see some minor delays but nothing too significant on the Sunday. Starting off up here across the Pacific Northwest, you can see rain is going to continue across portions of -- portions of Washington going on into Canada. And atmospheric river is impacting the area right now.

And take a look at this. Once this one pushes out and we get into Monday and Tuesday, we see a second atmospheric river. That is just a plume of moisture that is going right into the Pacific Northwest. And that means more in the way of rainfall all the way through Tuesday.

We could see up to about six inches of additional rainfall through Tuesday. And then the higher elevations could see up to 12 to 18 inches of additional snow. And speaking of snow, we've certainly had significant snows across portions of the Great Lakes and also the Northeast.

And as you can see, we got one system pushing through and then another system on its heels as we go into the beginning of next week. That means we can see an additional three inches and parts of the Great Lakes and New England, downwind of the Great Lakes specifically Erie, we could see up to about additional six to eight inches.

And then down here across the southeast, this is where we have this upper level area of low pressure moving over. And what that is doing is giving us plenty on the way of rainfall down here gloomy conditions across the deep south on into the peninsula of Florida.

And then in terms of temperatures, sure, we got a contrast and temperature here as well. Up to the north, well below average, temperature hovering around 40 to 45 degrees, which is about 10 degrees below average for New York City. And then down here across the south, we're also below average. Temperature should be -- assuming we're above average, the temperature should be in the low 60s. But we'll actually be in the upper 70s in parts of the Deep South. Guys?


PAUL: It is bizarre. Tyler Mauldin, thank you so much.

MAULDIN: I'm just a messenger, OK.

PAUL: You are and we appreciate it because we need it. Thank you, Tyler.

MARQUARDT: And our thoughts with everyone out there on the roads today. We will have a lot more in our next hour as we continue to monitor the -- monitor the omicron variant as it spreads around the world.

PAUL: Yes. We're live in Rome with a look at the impact it's having there already and other parts of Europe as well. That's just ahead. First though, the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2021 have been announced. And one of them will be named the CNN Hero of the Year by you if you vote. There's only two more weeks to do so. And until then, we're sharing their extraordinary stories.

MARQUARDT: They really are extraordinary. This week's hero is a woman who knows what it's like to deal with really unimaginable grief. And she's not alone. The world has lost more than five million people due to the COVID 19 pandemic. And of course, waves of grief have been suffered by those left behind.

Knowing just how difficult and isolating that is to lose a spouse, this top 10 CNN Hero created a community of widows who can heal together. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would tell the nurse, tell him I love him, put the phone by him because they would not let me in. Sometimes I just go sit in the parking lot just to be close to him. You know, April 13th, they told me he was gone. I needed someone to understand what it was like to be widowed.

MICHELE NEFF HERNANDEZ, TOP 10 CNN HERO 2021: Initially, you imagine that when someone dies, the worst day is the day they die. And the truth is that living without them is the hard part. But you have to make your way through.

Thank you for being here and showing up for each other. We help people live and live through something that many times they did not think that they would survive.


PAUL: We love to see that strength in people. To learn more, go to We'll be right back.



PAUL: So, this holiday, police in Atlanta are doing what they can to create more opportunities for risk kids in their community.

MARQUARDT: Yes, that's right. They're going beyond the call and making it their duty to motivate the next generation. CNN's Nadia Romero has more.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: First up. First up. Let's go.

NADIA ROMERO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Over 120 kids participating in Prison Fellowships Angel Tree program in Atlanta. A day of football and fun for kids with at least one parent incarcerated. And Atlanta's Police Department stepping up coaching and motivating on the field.

The day was the launch of Opportunity Kids, an initiative to change mindset and the label at-risk youth to Opportunity Kids.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want these kids to grow into the God-given potential that all of them have.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right get back. Good job.

ROMERO: And 13 Atlanta Police Department off-duty officers were right there leading the day's event.

VINCENT SIMS, SERGEANT, ATLANTA POLICE DEPARTMENT: On a Sunday morning, they're here because they want to be here. They're here because they love kids, they love youth engagement, they love youth interaction.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you drop that ball, it's OK. Let's play. Catch it next time.

SIMS: My overall statement to the youth is we're here for you because we are.

ROMERO: Juvetta Lindsey was there with Desire and Mario, her niece and nephew whose father has been incarcerated for 13 years. She's now their caretaker.

JUVETTA LINDSEY, CARETAKER: It was just important for me to show them support. They can actually see that I'm actually watching, taking videos.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Power on three. Power on three. One, two, three.

KIDS: Power.


ROMERO: Ashlee Shiffer with her 10 year old son Jace.

ASHLEE SHIFFER, MOTHER: Jace is so excited. He definitely was like up and ready to go this morning.

ROMERO: They moved from Illinois to Atlanta about two years ago.

SHIFFER: Jace's dad has been incarcerated since he was 1-year-old, so we've always kind of been a tight-knit family and it's really important for me to be there for Jace since his -- one of his parents is absent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody ready?

KIDS: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody ready? KIDS: Yes, sir.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The one with the dreads.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir. I think it.

DESIRE MARSHALL, CAMP PARTICIPANT: I feel incredible. I'm like, wow. They really took their time out to come to help us today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on. Come one. Right here.

SIMS: Do not fear the police. We are not to be feared. We're here for the community and we're here for you. We actually care.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And honestly, I had a great time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Give it up for the coaches.

ROMERO: Nadia Romero, CNN, Atlanta.