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New Day Sunday

America On Alert As COVID Surges Ahead Of Busy Holiday Week; Biden To Give Omicron-Focused Speech On Tuesday; European Countries Announce New Restrictions Amid Protests; COVID Impacting Sports World; Tiger Woods Returns To Competitive Golf; Severe Storms Possible Along Gulf Coast Amid Holiday Travel. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired December 19, 2021 - 07:00   ET



PAULA REID, CNN ANCHOR: One doctor tells CNN, quote, there's a tsunami coming.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: The Biden administration is working to reassure Americans that it's prepared for the rise in cases, with President Biden himself set to address the country this week.

REID: A busy holiday travel week is in full swing. Airports on Friday saw double the number of passengers from 2020, but storms could upend that itinerary.

NEW DAY starts right now.


REID: It's Sunday, December 19th. Thanks for waking up with us.

Boris, so great to be with you here again.

SANCHEZ: Pleasure to have you, Paula.

The start of this Christmas week, unfortunately, brings additional anxiety for millions of Americans as COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the country and the White House says that President Biden is going to address the nation about the threat posed by the new omicron variant on Tuesday.

REID: As one medical expert put it, a tsunami is coming for unvaccinated Americans. The omicron strain has been now detected in all but seven states in the U.S., but experts say the delta variant is actually the one fueling the latest wave of infections.

From New York to Miami and across the U.S., lines for COVID-19 testing are long, and results are often slow to come in.

Also, at home tests are flying off shelves.

CNN medical analyst Dr. Jonathan Reiner blames the Biden administration.


DR. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: We need to, you know, mobilize manufacture produce, hundreds of millions of these tests and make them ubiquitous. That's how you're going to keep businesses open. That's how you're going to keep Broadway open. That's how you're going to keep your kids in school.


SANCHEZ: Unfortunately, as we stare down these sobering realities, colleges, venues and businesses are re-implementing restrictions that have been gone for months.

CNN's Polo Sandoval has more.


POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): America is on alert leading into this holiday week facing an alarming surge of new coronavirus infections, hospitalization, and deaths nationwide. With this new upswell, holiday celebrations and everyday life are becoming more disruptive with each passing day.

"Saturday Night Live" canceled its live studio audience last night.

TOM HANKS, ACTOR: We do not have an audience.

SANDOVAL: With musical guest Charli XCX canceling her performance on the show, citing a limited crew.

Radio City Rockettes Christmas spectacular show also canceled because of breakthrough infections went into production. Broadway has pulled down the curtain on some shows. New York state broke the record for the highest single day COVID-19 case counts since the beginning of the pandemic for the second consecutive day on Saturday, reporting more than 21,000 positive COVID-19 cases according to the governor's office.

The NFL and NHL are postponing games as more players are asked to quarantine as part of COVID-19 protocols and some colleges and universities shifted classes and exams online to finish out the semester. As of now, experts say the delta variant is driving the latest surge, but omicron is expected to become the dominant variant in the U.S. in the coming weeks.

REINER: Oh, there's a tsunami coming. This omicron variant is extraordinarily contagious. It's as contagious as measles and that's about the most contagious of a virus we've seen. This may be the most contagious virus that civilization has faced in our lifetime.

SANDOVAL: Both cases and hospitalizations are at levels not seen since September at the end of the summer spike. In Michigan this week, COVID hospitalizations are hovering around all-time highs. The state's health department says the majority of them are people who are unvaccinated.

Dr. Anthony Fauci comparing it to a war.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: We will win this war with this virus. We know what public health mitigations work. We have just got to hang in there. We can't give up.

SANDOVAL: With Christmas and New Year's Eve fast approaching, the TSA expects more than 20 million Americans to fly between December 23rd and January 3rd and there are concerns that holiday travel will super charge a spread. If you're wondering about holiday get-togethers, this doctor has advice on what family and friends should do so they can celebrate without worries.

REINER: Get some tests for your house and use testing before you meet with other people this holiday season.

SANDOVAL: Polo Sandoval, CNN, New York.


REID: President Biden is preparing to address the COVID crisis in a speech on Tuesday.

SANCHEZ: Yeah, let's get to White House reporter Jasmine Wright. She's traveling with President Biden in Wilmington, Delaware.

Jasmine, what are we expecting to hear from the president?

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER; Yeah, Boris, Paula, we expect the president to announce additional steps that White House is going to take to address struggling communities in the face of these rising cases.


And we also expect them to issue kind of a direct and dire warning to the unvaccinated in the country, kind of laying out how he sees their winter time going if they continue to refuse shots. Now, it is a part of the president and the White House's increased messaging trying to project capability, trying to project that they are prepared to address these sorts of cases and protect the American people.

Now one messaging hiccup that came this weekend, came from the Vice President Kamala Harris who in an "L.A. Times" interview published on Friday, she told the paper this administration did not see the delta variant coming or the new omicron variant coming.

Now, I talked to a Harris aide afterwards and they said that vice president was not talking about variants in general as she and the president have gone through really laborious efforts trying to get more Americans vaccinated and boosted because they knew the mutations would be possible, that she was talking about this specific variant.

But still, the White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki issued a tweet, I want to read it for you. She said, that we are prepared for the rise in case levels and the president will detail how to respond to this challenge that comes on Tuesday. That tweet was issued yesterday.

Now, this all comes really kind of this increased messaging effort comes after the president was warned last week in a briefing about a looming and potentially rapidly increasing surge of cases that will dominate the country come in the winter time. So this is the president really responding to the nation that feels a bit anxious because of these rising cases. So, I think that is something we can definitely expect the president to speak to on Tuesday -- Boris and Paula.

REID: Jasmine Wright, thank you so much for your reporting.

SANCHEZ: Thanks, Jasmine.

So countries across the world are racing to confront the challenges brought on by the omicron variant.

REID: CNN's Scott McLean is live in London.

All right. Scott, omicron has become the dominant coronavirus strain there. What are you hearing on the ground?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Paula. Yeah, I mean, European leaders are taking this variant extremely seriously because of the surge here in the U.K. France has shut its door to British tourists regardless of vaccination status. Germany later tonight will do the same. The Netherlands begins today, a lockdown that will shut schools, empty stadiums, and severely restrict family gatherings this Christmas.

Here in London or in here the U.K., I should say, the London mayor says that new restrictions are inevitable but the British government seems reluctant to cancel Christmas two years in a row.


MCLEAN (voice-over): London Mayor Sadiq Khan declaring COVID a major incident Saturday.

MAYOR SADIQ KHAN, LONDON: Over the last 24 hours, we've had the largest number of new cases since this pandemic began more than 26,000 hospital admissions are going up, but also staff absences are going up by a massive levels.

MCLEAN: With cases rapidly increasing, there's a push to get more people tested and vaccinated. The U.K. vaccine minister helping distribute COVID tests at a sorting center Saturday. The government aiming to get 900,000 a day shipped directly to homes across the U.K. And long lineups at a booster clinic northeast of London, many hoping to avoid another possible lockdown by getting a shot.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Another lockdown to me does seem a bit extreme. I think everyone needs to be careful, go where you need to go and then go home.

MCLEAN: Some vaccine clinics opening 24-hour jabathons. In northern England, one pharmacy opened for 36 hours straight. Worldwide, there's a push to get young people vaccinated.

Santa Claus and his helpers visiting kids in Portugal. Germany and France giving shots to 5 to 11-year-olds Saturday. COVID putting a damper on shopping but some hit the stores from Europe to Asia on the last weekend before Christmas.

Sporting events also taking a hit. English fans disappointed as the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Burnley became the tenth Premier League fixture to get postponed this weekend due to COVID.

Later Saturday, anti-vaxxers marched in London, France, Germany, and Italy. The Netherlands announcing a strict new lockdowns starting Sunday, also met by protests. The World Health Organization announced omicron cases doubling every one and a half to three days in countries with transmissions, the battle against COVID rages on.


MCLEAN (on camera): Now, the city of Paris has already canceled its planned New Year's Eve display.

Here in the U.K., not much of anything has been canceled outside of some soccer matches this past weekend. If the government does decide to go the route of some of these mainland European countries and impose much more harsh restrictions, the reality is that Prime Minister Boris Johnson will have a very difficult time getting his own party to go along with it -- Boris, Paula.


SANCHEZ: A lot of controversy surrounding some of his party's actions around COVID restrictions.

Scott McLean, reporting from the U.K., thank you so much.

REID: Back here in the U.S., experts are encouraging people to get tested before traveling home for the holidays, but getting a test and getting results remains an issue across the country.

Last hour, I spoke with Dr. Rob Davidson who said people need to be realistic about their risks and take precautions ahead of those family gatherings.


DR. ROB DAVIDSON, WEST MICHIGAN EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN: I think you should do your best to get a test. In our family we're all vaccinated, we're all boosted. As long as we're all symptom-free and haven't been in contact with people who are known to be COVID positive, we're very comfortable getting together because we know in our small family unit that we are taking precautions that we're not getting each other sick.

If you're venturing into places around people you don't know their status, if they're infected or not or vaccinated or not, absolutely need to be testing and taking as many precautions as possible so you don't end up spreading it to other folks. If you're going to live in the woods and not be around the rest of us

ever on planes, on buses and in stores, absolutely. You cannot catch this virus by never being in contact with other people. That's just not realistic. Where I work and live, some people do live that way and have for a while and that's just a reality, social distancing is part of life.

But for everyone else, it's inevitable that you will come in contact with the virus and the more times you do the more likely you are to get sick. In our experience, 98 percent of the people in intensive care are unvaccinated COVID patients. You know, over 90 percent of the people in the hospital in general with COVID are unvaccinated.

I think we need mandates. We're done asking nicely, saying please, thank you. It's safe. It's effective. We need to make it a part of everyone's reality.


REID: And for the latest on the omicron variant and the COVID surge, be sure to catch Dr. Anthony Fauci this morning on "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper and Dana Bash. It all starts at 9:00 a.m. right here on CNN.

SANCHEZ: Still ahead, from COVID concerns to economic uncertainty, it's understandable that a lot of people feel overwhelmed. After a quick break, we're going to talk to an expert about how to cope during uncertain times.

REID: Plus, a crisis that's closing classrooms. How the labor shortage is hitting child care providers especially hard.



SANCHEZ: So, it's been a hard year or two, a global pandemic with new variants and as we've been talking about this morning, resurgent wave, the economic upheaval that comes with that. Plus, political battles that strain the very foundation of the republic. There's a lot to be stressed about.

Fortunately, though, this morning we have an expert on how to cope with this increasingly stressful world. Psychiatrist and psycho analyst Dr. Gail Saltz joins us now. She's also the host of "How Can I Help" podcast.

Doctor, thank you so much for sharing part of your weekend with us.

Given that we're apparently on the cusp of this new wave of coronavirus cases, almost inevitably followed by death, what kind of an impact do you expect that's going to have a population that's already been through so much?

DR. GAIL SALTZ, PSYCHIATRIST AND PSYCHOANALYST: Well, unfortunately, we as you mentioned earlier, already had these issues going on and we were really in a wave already, a pandemic if you will, of mental health issues, people who are already struggling or struggling more, new people that weren't having mental health issues before are now. We've seen a tremendous rise in the numbers of terms of people with clinical depression, anxiety disorders, overdoses, lots of issues that are about our mental health.

The only good news I could say is that it has really risen the awareness of mental health issues, which I think is decreasing stigma and allowing more people to seek treatment so we have huge numbers of people.

Most of my colleagues, everybody has waiting lists, people have discovered in this time period that telehealth, teletherapy, actually is every bit as effective as in person and that is also good news, so that people can seek it even while not exposing themselves, they can seek it if they don't have somebody close to them that does therapy, they can reach out to somebody at a further distance.

But the reality here we are again with a new wave and people's willpower is on the wane. This is just a tremendous amount of stress and things that we normally cope with like being able to be with people and talk to them, is being compromised by this new wave. So, that is making it very difficult. These are the kinds of things that create the perfect storm to create more mental health issues.

SANCHEZ: And you previously mentioned even mental health professionals are feeling fatigue because their services have been in high demand over the past two years. I'm curious what you might have experience then and what trends you're noticing among your colleagues?

SALTZ: I'm definitely -- I think people are aware, health professionals of all kinds who are dealing with the COVID are actually overwhelmed, burnt out, and some are thinking about leaving, but certainly many are struggling with mental health issues.

And, you know, I'm a psychiatrist, but mental health professionals, we have brains too and that means we can have mental health issues too. It's extremely stressful because the work doesn't stop coming and because these are real things that we can't point out to people, hey, this is your perception.


Let's look at this and maybe you're viewing this too negatively. A lot of negative and difficult things are going on.

So, actually, it's been a real onslaught and I would say myself, my colleagues, a lot of us are struggling. It's definitely a very difficult time.

SANCHEZ: And it has been so especially in younger people. The pandemic is having a pronounced effect on the mental health of children, notably the number of suicide attempts have increased at an alarming rate in young people.

We don't know the extent of how this pandemic might affect children until they get older, so what would you tell parents who are worried about the toll that the pandemic is having on their kids right now?

SALTZ: Well, generally speaking, I would tell people a lot of things, and those are, for children and for adults, to implement as many coping strategies as you can at this point in time. There are coping strategies that I would consider to be preventive mental health care.

So those are regular aerobic exercise three to four times a week, those are utilizing techniques like paced breathing, deep paced breathing, which you can easily look up online how you do that, how to inhale and exhale, that decreases your anxiety and stress level, you can do it as a family. You can teach your children how to do this, progressive muscle relaxation. Another way to de-stress, remove the anxiety from your body.

Make sure that your children and yourself have people that they can talk to about how they're feeling. Just being able to emote and connect with someone and be understood is very important in terms of mental health.

Practices like meditation, mindfulness. There are lots of practices one can incorporate into their day that actually really diminish stress, by diminishes anxiety which helps in terms of preventing issues like depression.

However, I also think it's important for parents to know that if your child is visibly having signs that they are struggling, what are those, maybe they have trouble sleeping, expressing anxiety, they're starting to withdraw, you're seeing their academic performance go down, if you start to see signs of that, talk to them about it and consider getting therapy.

Because the fact is, you can use teletherapy, you don't have to expose yourself in terms of COVID, it's very available, you can look to apps to do this, you can look to your local community center for referrals or primary care physicians. But basically, even in a small number of sessions, eight to ten sessions, you can really make a difference for both adults and for children.

SANCHEZ: Dr. Gail Saltz, really sage advice. We appreciate the time. Thanks for joining us this morning.

SALTZ: Thank you so much for having me.

SANCHEZ: And, of course, if you or someone you know needs to talk to someone right now, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. That number is 1-800-273-8255. Help is out there and available.

REID: For many parents, child care costs nearly as much as their salary. So, what happens when families can't afford quality child care for their children? That's next.


[07:27:35] REID: A shortage of workers is leading to a crisis in child care. About 10 percent of child care workers have left the industry since the start of the pandemic. The average child care worker earns $12.24, less than some fast food workers eastern and far less than K through 12 workers. The average cost of child care is more than $10,000 per child, for couples about 10 percent of their income.

Laura Perille, the CEO of Nurtury Incorporated joins me now. It's a nonprofit child care provider that serves mostly low-income families.

Thank you so much for being with us.

All right. You say you can't find enough workers because they can make more money pretty much anywhere else. So, how serious -- how dire is this shortage right now?


The situation in child care right now is the worst we've seen in decades. As you said the wages that child care workers earn are far too low, families already pay too much, and child care workers can choose to work almost anywhere else given the demands of the profession, even if they want to stay and be educators in early education.

REID: So my question here, though, is a little bit -- a little math isn't working out for me, child care costs so much and the teachers are paid so little. So, where does the money go? Does it get swallowed up in administration, in overhead? How is this not working out?

PERILLE: No, not at all. It really is about the amount of staff you need in child care centers and the length of the day. So, in an infant and toddler room, at Nurtury early education in Boston, we have a ten- hour day of child care for working families, which means that you need three teachers over the course of a day in every single classroom, so it's about the high labor costs, much more so than anything else, and the low rates that are paid, either by the state for the most low- income families or by families themselves at almost every other level, and it becomes very, very costly depending on where you live.

Right now, in Boston, you can earn more as a state funded life guard or working as an ice cream shop manager than you can in child care, but we can't put the full costs of that on to families.


At Nurtury early education, we've been trying to raise wages, but that's very difficult for families who have to shoulder those costs.

REID: Wow. So, this is an issue of parents in some cases not being able to find childcare and even if they do, not being able to afford it. So, what will it take to address both of those issues?

PERILLE: Well, you pointed earlier to the fact that we treat K-12 education very differently in this country than we do the education for young children between 0 and 5. And it doesn't make any sense when you think about young families trying to sustain their incomes and be in the workforce that in K-12 education, you can send your child to a public school and get a free public education, but in child care, those costs are laid on families.

So, the solution is to decide to invest in 0 to 5 care the same way that we do in K-12 education to make it more affordable for families, not just the lowest income families, but working families and middle- income families, all of us struggle with child care. And at the same time, pay our workforce a livable wage so that they can stay in the classroom with young children. Our best chance to do that -- sorry.

REID: Go ahead.

PERILLE: Our best chance to do that right now is the Build Back Better Act, which is the -- our best shot at a significant shift in federal investment in public funding for child care so that we treat our young children the way we treat our school age children and believe that they should all have access to high-quality care and education.

REID: And it's interesting during the pandemic we've seen even if you can find child care and afford child care, many are shut down. It is maintaining child care even if you can afford it has had a ripple effect, specifically on women.

Can you talk about what you've seen in terms of the impact this child care crisis has had on women being able to return and stay in the workforce?

PERILLE: That's exactly right. So women are bearing the brunt of this crisis both mothers who are attempting to return to work and can't find adequate care, and the workforce in early education, which is almost exclusively women and at our centers predominantly women of color and they can't find care for their school age children either. It impacts both the educators and the families.

And what we're seeing in the marketplace is that millions of women have left the workforce, which means they're diminishing their family's income and they cannot return until they find adequate care. And at the same time, child care workers can earn more money in almost any other field and they themselves struggle to find care. That's why we have closed classrooms.

We could fill them with children if we could find more educators and pay them appropriately to keep them in our classrooms. That's the choice we have to make in this country and we could do that if we increased our public investment through Build Back Better.

REID: Laura, thank you so much.

PERILLE: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Tiger Woods returns to competitive golf with a very special teammate by his side. We'll take you live to Orlando after a quick break.


REID: COVID outbreaks are forcing the NFL to make changes to today's schedule and their protocols.


Andy Scholes is in Orlando for Tiger Woods' return to golf. But first, Andy, let's start with the NFL's answer to these new COVID cases.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. Well, Boris and Paula, the NFL sending out a memo to all the teams yesterday saying that moving forward, they are only going to test vaccinated players, coaches and staff if they are showing symptoms.

Previously, the league was testing all vaccinated individuals on a weekly basis but the league says they are now going to move to a targeted system where they just randomly test one group each week. All unvaccinated players will be tested daily, this comes as the league had to postpone three games this week due to outbreaks.

Now, the NHL is enhancing their COVID protocols as they shut down two more teams, all members of a team's traveling party will be tested daily. The Boston Bruins and Nashville Predators had their seasons put on pause until December 26th because of outbreaks. The NHL now has five teams out not playing due to COVID.

Now, the NBA is also struggling with outbreaks. The Nets adding Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to league's health and safety protocols yesterday. Kyrie was in the process of rejoining the team so that gives the Nets nine players now in the league's protocols.

All right. We did have an NFL last night. The Patriots storming back from a 20-0 deficit on the fourth quarter against the Colts but the NFL rushing leader Jonathan Taylor busting through the line here, going to go 67 yards for a touchdown. That put the game away. The Colts won 27-17, ending the Patriots' seven-game winning streak.

Back in Orlando, Tiger Woods said he had a blast yesterday in his return to golf. Tiger playing with his 12-year-old son Charlie in the PNC Championship. And Tiger looked really good. He hit it from the pro tees, took some really hard swings in the fairways.


The fans were thrilled to have Tiger back, and he said it was a great feeling to be back out on the course.


TIGER WOODS, 15-TIME MAJOR CHAMPION: We had a great time. It was just a blast, and we had a blast last year on the first round and again this year, it was the same. We had so much fun out there. After what I've been through this year, it's been a difficult year, so understanding that I'm not in golf shape, I'm not in practice shape, I'm definitely not in tournament shape. Hopefully, I will get to that point again. We'll see.


SCHOLES: Yeah. Charlie was impressing fans once again yesterday, made some great shots including this birdie on 15 to put a big smile on dad's face.

I tell you what, guys, it's just incredible that tiger is out here playing, just ten months after that devastating car crash. Tiger and Charlie only 3 shots off the lead heading into today's final round. So, who knows? We could be in for a pretty special afternoon.

SANCHEZ: Yeah, and Charlie's sharp, man. Even with the mannerisms, you can see so much of his dad in him and he's so young. It's great to see.

Andy Scholes from Orlando --

SCHOLES: It was funny, Charlie would actually get upset when his dad hit some bad shots yesterday. It made you laugh.

SANCHEZ: Was he chirping at his dad?

SCHOLES: Just a little bit, yep.

SANCHEZ: Well, the cost of excellence.

Andy Scholes, thanks again.

So millions of people are expected to travel over the holidays and many have already packed their bags, but will the weather cooperate? Your forecast is next.



REID: Closing arguments are set to begin tomorrow in the manslaughter trial of a former Minnesota police officer. Kim Potter shot and killed 20-year-old Daunte Wright in a traffic stop back in April. The defense rested on Friday after emotional testimony from Potter. She spent hours on the stand breaking down several times while she described chaotic moments.

When asked if she knew deadly force was unreasonable and unwarranted, Potter apologized and said she didn't want to hurt anybody. If convicted she faces at least ten years in prison.

SANCHEZ: Another big court case we're following after three months of testimony from over 30 witnesses, the criminal fraud case of Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes is in the hands of the jury. Holmes is accused of deceiving investors, doctors and patients, claiming that her blood testing technology could change the medical world. The technology failed and test results were unreliable. That, despite $945 million in funding.

Holmes now faces sign counts of federal wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

The holiday travel season is here and it is looking a lot busier this year compared to last. TSA says it screened more than 2 million people at airport security checkpoints on Friday, a bigger number than we saw Thanksgiving. Still, a tad lower than pre-pandemic levels.

REID: So, let's check in with CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar to see if the potential storms may impact all those folks traveling over the next week -- Allison.

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yeah. So, the trouble spots -- good morning -- are really going to be along the coast. We've got a system that's making its way in the Pacific Northwest and another system along the East Coast of the U.S. So, those are really going to be where the trouble spots are now.

The one spot in the East Coast, this is a system that started today that brought rain and snow, basically from the Northeast all the way back to Texas. That's going to be pushing through, bringing a lot of rain to the Carolinas, Georgia, Florida, but it does finally exit this evening.

But right on the heels of that, we've got the next wave pushing in. That's going to ramp up in Texas and then begin to surge a lot of that moisture into the southeastern states over the next several days. It's not a fast moving system. So, for some of the states, it's going to be multiple days of rain, which is why we're likely going to see a couple inches of accumulation for areas of Georgia, the Carolinas, as well as northern Florida.

Still not quite as much moisture as we're going to see out to the West. The first wave moved in yesterday. The second wave coming in today, mainly focused across Oregon and extreme northern California. Then the third wave begins to arrive, ramping up on Tuesday of the upcoming week, and that's going to push a lot of the moisture into central and even southern California.

Overall, the next five days we're talking about a tremendous amount of moisture into the west. Several inches of rain along the coastline, guys, and in the mountains, we're going to be measuring the snow in feet, rather than just a few inches.

REID: All right. Allison, thank you so much for that.

SANCHEZ: So, "Saturday Night Live" wasn't exactly live last night. The show originally planned to do their Christmas special, but it went without a live audience because of the recent rise in COVID cases.

REID: The show did go on with some new taped sketches, as well as some from the past and with Tom Hanks greeting a nearly empty studio.


TOM HANKS, ACTOR: COVID came early this year. So, in the interest of safety, we do not have an audience. And we sent home our cast, most of our crew. But I came here from California. And if you think if I was going to

fly 3,000 miles and not be on TV, well, you got another thing coming.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, we thought we'd read these dumb jokes anyway just to see if we make these guys laugh.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah. Are you guys ready?

Hanks, are you ready?

HANKS: I'd rather you didn't.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And can we confirm that you have never heard these jokes before?

HANKS: Not a once except the two you blew in rehearsal.



REID: "SNL" pulling its audience as just the latest live event in New York City to be disrupted. In addition to the cancellation of Broadway performances and the Radio City Rockettes Christmas spectacular shows.

SANCHEZ: I would not be surprised if we saw more shows changed or canceled. We do want to leave you on a light note. People often take the ability to speak for granted. For some, it's not a given. One Texas teenager created a web application determined to give his nonverbal sister a voice. And now, that app has taken on a life of its own, helping people across the world.

CNN's Wolf Blitzer has that story.


ARCHER CALDER, CREATOR OF FREESPEECH: You were telling me how you wanted a scooter from Santa, how you wanted a scooter for Christmas, is that true?

VOICE: Scooter.

A. CALDER: Yeah, you want scooters?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST (voice-over): This is Della. The 14-year-old was born with a rare genetic condition that impacts her agility to speak.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We didn't really realize there was an issue until she was 1 and she wasn't meeting her milestones. So difficulty sitting up, crawling. We also noticed there was no speech. She's completely nonverbal.

VOICE: Train. A. CALDER: You want to go ride the train?

BLITZER: Della's brother Archer has been developing a web application to help his sister communicate.

A. CALDER: She wants to communicate like everybody else and just imagine how hard it would be if you couldn't communicate by talking to people.

BLITZER: The website lets users program buttons with images of their choice that represents words.

VOICE: I like you.


A. CALDER: Nuggets. Okay.

VOICE: Train.

A. CALDER: Now we're going to the train.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll still going to the train.

CHAD CALDER, DELLA AND ARCHER'S FATHER: In the past when we had to run errands we just took her. She was never really consulted and, I mean, now today outings start with us just asking, hey, you want to go do this? You want to go do that? Yes, I want to go do that.

VOICE: Cho-cho.

A. CALDER: You want to go fast?

VOICE: I want to go faster.

A. CALDER: You want to go faster?

Whenever I made the first application I spent an hour or two coding the tile path for her and making sure it had all of her favorite fun and stuff. I remember like I gave it to her, I put them on her iPad and she opened it up until like, you know, one or two things, she closed it out and watching. All of it amounted to a small interaction but it was a big deal, seeing her communicate with my application. I want everyone to have a moment with their nonverbal sibling or friend.

So I have a nonverbal sibling. Now, that being said, a lot of the apps on the App Store are made for people who can't talk, are extremely, extremely expensive.

BLITZER: That's why Archer made his app free for anyone to use.

A. CALDER: When I had first made my first video I only expected it to receive a few dozen, a hundred views.

When it received a million views, I got a lot of comments. A lot of comments congratulating me and originally because I was such a junior developer and I knew it, I kind of felt this sense of imposter syndrome. The good part of it, you know, I got a lot of eyeballs on the project and a lot of contributors who wanted to contribute their code.

BLITZER: Archer made his software open source which means other coders can add new features.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today, I'm going to show us how we can control Freespeech with eyes on the iPad using an awesome application called Hawkeye Access. I will then look at the word hello, blink --

BLITZER: While the app is still a work in progress and it's still only accessible through a website, it's already helping people across America and the world find their own voices.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The fact that he's motivated to help other people, he takes in the comments that they have, he takes in the suggestions. It's what any parent wants for their son. They want their child to grow up to be empathetic. Here he is in a very tangible way helping other people.

VOICE: Wolf Blitzer, CNN, Washington.


REID: An amazing story.


REID: Well, thank you for starting your morning with us.

SANCHEZ: And thank you for joining us, Paula. Appreciate having you this week end. Come back any time.

You shouldn't go anywhere. "INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY" is up next. But, first, a skater in Oakland, California, is looking to inspire everyone to get rolling in today's "The Human Factor."


ANDY DURAN, FOUNDER, CHUB ROLLZ: As I'm skating I feel very free to be in my body and to be myself on a skateboard. When I was skating before, it was in the late '90s and early 2000s.

I was a fat kid growing up. During the pandemic, I really wanted to get back into skating. There was not really any information online for fat skateboarders. Not only could I not find pads and gear in my size, but I also had difficulty with seeing any other folks like me which felt alienating.


We started putting our own videos up, and then we're immediately hit with fat phobia, comments about our body size. I wanted to create a space where we could come together and not be judged. This started as a space for fat, plus size, chubby skaters, have a safe place to learn together and skate together.

We have our monthly physical event to help show people how to stand on a skateboard, how to gain their balance, how to ride. And what kind of information they need for getting the right gear.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For being around a bunch of people who look similar to me really makes it feel more comfortable to learn.

DURAN: A lot of times when there's plus size groups, they tend to be focused on weight loss and the reality is that not everybody who is fat is actually looking to change that.