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Colorado Family Business Crippled by COVID on Brink of Closing; Kansas City, Kansas Schools Move In-Person Start Date to April; GOP Braces for Trump Georgia Rally Ahead of January Runoffs. Aired 11:30- 12p ET

Aired December 3, 2020 - 11:30   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Communication with the transition is still short of a meeting that you and other leaders are calling for.

DERRICK JOHNSON, PRESIDENT, NAACP: We believe a meeting will happen. President-elect Joe Biden has been a longstanding member of the NAACP. I do believe he care about civil rights issues, but it's our job, our goal to make sure that it is front and center at all times.

The last four years have been very harmful to civil rights legislation and progress made. We must be as aggressive as possible to restore the integrity of many of our agencies.

BOLDUAN: What are you concerned about? You yourself just noted that Joe Biden has been a longtime advocate for the black community, a longtime member of the NAACP.

JOHNSON: Well, we're concerned about if you make it a priority, the conversation should have happened by now. There have been conversations with different constituency groups, there have been discussions around environment and labor and other things that have not been in the conversation about civil rights. That is concerning. If it's a priority, it's a priority. The conversation should have been had by now.

BOLDUAN: And the most important pick when you're talking about posts in the administration, right, that the most important pick that Joe Biden has made so far was his running mate and he picked Kamala Harris, the first black woman to hold the position. Are you worried, Derrick, that Kamala Harris is not going to be promoting black leadership in the administration?

JOHNSON: Well, not at all. I think Senator Harris -- I'm sorry, Vice President-elect Harris will do an outstanding job. This is not about an individual. This is not about a single appointment. This is about the policy, priorities to restore what was taken away during the last four years.

Look at the Department of Education. Betsy DeVos gutted the civil rights compliance division within that agency. If you look at the Department of Justice, we need a Department of Justice who will aggressively pursue white supremacists and domestic terrorists. This is about making sure no matter who holds the cabinet post, that civil rights is in the center of consideration because race neutral policy can be harmful. We want to make sure that all considerations are centered in a civil rights frame.

BOLDUAN: This actually reminds me of a conversation that I had just before the election with a Democratic voter, a black woman in Detroit. Let me play you what Wendy Caldwell-Liddell told me then.


BOLDUAN: Do you think the Democratic Party takes you for granted?

WENDY CALDWELL-LIDDELL, FOUNDER, MOBILIZE DETROIT: Absolutely. Absolutely they take us for granted, because they know that black women are going to help them get the big wins they need where it matters but they also know that they can give us the bare minimum knowing that we aren't going to choose the other side.


BOLDUAN: Do you think that's what's going on here? Is that what you're afraid of?

JOHNSON: No, I'm not afraid of anything. This is the classic understanding that political parties are vehicles for agendas. And so African-Americans, we must always push our agenda no matter who's in office. But, secondly, FDR said years ago, I agree with you not making me do it. This is that concept. It is not about what people wish to do or feel good about, it's about continuing the pressure from our community so that the needs and interests of our issues are met.

BOLDUAN: You have also warned about potential nominees to cabinet posts, namely Rahm Emanuel, who has been rumored to be considered -- be under consideration for transportation secretary. What would it mean to you if he was picked?

JOHNSON: It would be outrageous. You cannot select someone who intentionally hid evidence of a police murder and then release it after the election. That is not the value proposition the president- elect said he would walk into office with. And we will fight against that.

You cannot bring into aboard a Tom Vilsack who wrongfully terminated Sheila Sherrod, and yet you want black voters in Georgia to turnout in January 5th. These are value proposition conversations. That's why it's important to have a civil rights frame on discussions because you can fall into these traps and these traps can cause a backlash for your core voting base.

African-Americans is a core voting base not only for the president- elect but for the Democratic Party. It is our responsibility, not the party, to hold people account to make sure our interests, our value propositions are always front and center. BOLDUAN: Derrick, thank you for coming on.

JOHNSON: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: A programming note for all of you, President-elect Joe Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will be joining Jake Tapper for their first joint interview since winning the White House. You can watch that tonight, that full interview tonight, 9:00 P.M. Eastern right here on CNN.

Up next for us, the latest jobs report showing millions of Americans are struggling. We're going to bring you the story of one family business that is looking at and could be forced to shut its doors now because of all of this after 40 years.



BOLDUAN: Another 712,000 Americans filed for first time unemployment benefits last week. You can see, we'll show you, that's down slightly from the previous week but still historically high as the economy struggles to recover as the coronavirus pandemic surges on. Millions of Americans are struggling to pay bills, feed their families and simply stay afloat.


CNN's Lucy Kafanov met one Colorado family whose business spanning three generations is now on the brink of shutting down.


LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It's a Chavez family holiday tradition. For nearly three decades, the owners of the Sunset Inn in Pueblo, Colorado, have raised funds to buy gifts for homeless children.

GERDA CHAVEZ, OWNER, SUNSET INN: Most of these gifts, and I don't do Christmas for them, they're not going to have nothing.

KAFANOV: But now their Christmas plans are up in the air. Three generations work at the Sunset Inn.

CASSY GIBBONS, HAS WORKED AT SUNSET INN FOR 14 YEARS: It's kind of like the pillar of our family.

KAFANOV: But this bar and grill is one of countless businesses now crippled by COVID-19. Skyrocketing cases forced Pueblo County to ban indoor dining last month. The restaurant now empty, more than half their employees laid off, takeout orders barely making ends meet.

What's your biggest fear when it comes to the Sunset Inn?

CHAVEZ: Losing what we built all these years. Having the fear somebody else has it after we walk away and us not being here anymore. That's -- sorry. That's my most fear.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For over 15 years, the Sunset Inn was a favorite in Pueblo. But then in 1996, Chuck Chavez added sloppers to the menu.

KAFANOV: The menu rising to national fame after being featured in an episode of the Travel Channel's Food Wars.

GIBBONS: The Sunset to me is my whole family, our whole life.

KAFANOV: Their troubles began when the pandemic hit in March and Colorado effectively went into lockdown.

GOV. JARED POLIS (D-CO): We're resorting to this measure, to this extreme measure at this time to make sure that people know that they need to stay in their homes.

KAFANOV: The Sunset stayed shut for three months. Then in October, disaster struck.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Outbreak and possible community exposure to COVID-19 at the Sunset Inn.

KAFANOV: 11 family members infected with COVID.

CHAVEZ: We wiped everything down, we complied with everything and we still ended up getting it.

KAFANOV: All recovered but the business is still struggling. Before the pandemic, the family says the inn could pull $5,000 on a good day. Now, they're lucky to make $400. Emergency relief funding helped them stay afloat but barely. And if things don't change, they say the inn may have to shut its doors in three months.

New COVID restrictions imposed last week could in Colorado's hardest hit counties, including Pueblo, could make a return to normal a long way off.

How has the hardship affected you?

CHAVEZ: Not sleeping at night, my hair is turning gray, constantly worrying about if we can pay the bills.

KAFANOV: A fear echoed by the family and thousands of small business owners across the nation.

GIBBONS: My mom and dad are the hardest working people I know. And it's just emotional to know that we don't know what could happen, you know, if it was to continue like this.


KAFANOV (on camera): Now, this story, this family's experience is just a microcosmic look at what is happening to small businesses all across America during this pandemic. The Chavez family knows how dangerous the virus is. They had COVID. They understand the restrictions. At the same time, the Sunset Inn is more than just a business for them. It is their life, their livelihood.

Now, Colorado did just wrap up a special legislative session passing nearly $300 million in relief spending. But in the absence of a new federal stimulus, Kate, even the governor here in Colorado, Jared Polis, is warning it's not enough. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Lucy, thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

Coming up for us, more school districts pushing back plans to resume in-person classes. Kansas City, Kansas, just made that call. We're going to take you there, next.



BOLDUAN: The head of the CDC once again making clear that the science has shown it's possible to open and keep schools open safely.


DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, CDC DIRECTOR: We now have substantial data that shows that schools, face-to-face learning, can be conducted in K-12, particularly in the elementary and middle schools in a safe and responsible way.


BOLDUAN: Even so, millions of students across the country are still facing schools shutdown and classes only operating online. That includes the 23,000 children in the Kansas City, Kansas school district, where the school board just voted to push back their planned reopening day, push it back to April.

Joining me right now is the mayor of Kansas City, Kansas, David Alvey. Mayor, thank you for being here.

What's your reaction to the school board's decision to push back in- person classes? It was first going to be in January and now we're looking at April 5th.

MAYOR DAVID ALVEY, KANSAS CITY, KANSAS: Well, I think this is just another piece of the continuing saga of what we're dealing with with the virus and the pandemic, that we have to continue to look at the data, consider the data and always keep in mind that the welfare of our students and staff and the community itself.

BOLDUAN: You hear Dr. Redfield, the Head of the CDC, we've heard other doctors and public health officials looking and saying that the science they're seeing more and more is that it's -- you can keep schools open safely. You can keep kids in the classrooms safely, more safely than people thought at the beginning of the pandemic. Why can you not when it comes to Kansas City?

[11:50:01] ALVEY: Well, we can. And it's -- the problem is not in our community. The problem has not been spread within the school itself. We have four school districts within the Wyandotte County, and only Kansas City, Kansas, has not opened for in-person yet. But what we experienced is what's happening in the community. So, the concern is that the community spread is going to be brought into the schools.

Again, the students within the school setting, we can control that, the protocols are very well-established and all the school districts have been very compliant with that. So that's been successful. But the problem is what's happening in the community at large and that's being brought into the schools.

And so my assumption and my understanding is that the Kansas City, Kansas school board took a look at what was happening at large, and was concerned about staffing, whether they could staff up enough, get enough substitute teachers because of quarantines and sicknesses that is happening the community at large.

BOLDUAN: All valid concerns. And you're also looking at some of the restrictions that are in place in the area. And as I understand it, your city, you are requiring like bars to close around 10:00 P.M., but they are still open, right? They're not shutdown until April. How do you square that?

We've talked about this here in New York City. They're the same thing, people can go to a bar, but kids can't go to school.

ALVEY: Right. Well, I think, basically, the issue is this, as part of a larger metro area, we in Kansas City, Missouri, and the state of Missouri just being on the other side of the state line, what we do here has to be really done in concert with what is happening in the rest of the region. And so on the Missouri side, for instance, there was a 10:00 P.M. shutdown in Johnson County, just south of us. They stayed open until midnight. And so we felt like we had to come in with where we were in the mainstream, that's why that's happening.

We can't take anything, we're not an island onto ourselves. We have to kind of go in concert with the rest of the metro area and the rest of the metro area is really looking between 10:00 and midnight.

BOLDUAN: Mayor, there are more studies coming out saying that what people feared all along is that remote learning, you're seeing a drop in test scores, at reading levels. It is not great for kids, especially among minorities, especially among black and brown students.

So how -- I mean, are you frustrated with the decision that's been made? Because what you're looking at is telling families that they're now looking at five more months of not optimal learning environment for their children.

ALVEY: Yes. Well, I am not frustrated with the decision. Again, this is an elected board that has to take all of that into consideration. I certainly don't want to make any judgments about what kind of information they had and what they were looking at. I mean, from what I know is they did their due diligence. And looking

at our case rate and the positivity rate in our county, they decided best thing they could do to protect staff and students and not create a situation where they weren't able to continue with in-person learning, they decided to push it back until April.

It still comes down to all along everyone just pay attention, mask up, don't get the virus, don't give the virus. If we would all do that, we would be able to get beyond this much quicker.

BOLDUAN: Yes, this is very tough. Mayor, thank you for your time.

ALVEY: You're welcome. Thank you.

BOLDUAN: I want to turn to Georgia now with the balance of power in the Senate and throughout Washington really on the line. Republicans in the state are getting worried, not even about results of the Senate race we're talking about but about the president visiting. President Trump is scheduled to rally supporters this weekend in the state. But some Republicans say his continued baseless focus on alleged fraud is doing more harm than good.

CNN's Ryan Young joins us now from Atlanta with the latest.

Ryan, what are you hearing about this?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kate. Imagine going into your biggest fight and not having your biggest puncher on your side. And that's what Republicans in the state are worried about, Donald Trump continues to tweet and talk about state of Georgia and how the election didn't go right. And, in fact, we've had two counts so far, we haven't seen any voting irregularities so far. And so people are concerned that he is focused on that instead of the two Senate seats.

And when you turn the television on here, you know that Republicans and Democrats both want these seats. And every time you turn it on, you see commercials everywhere.

In fact, look at this tweet from the president. This came out a little earlier today. It basically says, the Republican governor, Brian Kemp, and secretary of state, must immediately allow signature verification match on the presidential election. If that happens, we quickly and easily win the state, and importantly pave the way for a big David and Kelly win.

And if you think about this, Vice President Pence will be here tomorrow, he will have a rally in Savannah, and then on Saturday, Donald Trump will be here. So what they want to see, especially when you think about Republicans, like (INAUDIBLE), they want to see the president get down with business and start talking about these two Senate seats.


So, hopefully, they can keep that side of the aisle red. A lot of Democrats are looking at this sort of licking their chops thinking with all the sort of back and forth, they may be able to slip these two seats in. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Well, yes. Because what it comes down to is that they're really concerned, in general, about what the president is talking about, what the president -- you just pointed out the tweet, what attorneys that support the president are talking about could be suppressing voter turnout. And that is one of the big concerns that Republicans have there.

Great to see you, Ryan. Thank you.

Still ahead, a look at what the coronavirus vaccination kits and cards could look like, as U.S. prepares to roll it out.

We'll be right back.