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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Live Coverage of Electoral College Votes Around the Country; Pfizer Vaccine Deliveries Begin Around the Country; Live Coverage as Vaccine Doses Administered to Health Care Workers. Aired 10:30-11a ET
Aired December 14, 2020 - 10:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: How does he reach the Republican leadership, the elected officials who have been standing with Donald Trump for the most part -- except for Mitt Romney and a few others -- and have them come out as Republican leaders and show some leadership?
I spoke to several Republicans last night about whether they thought anything would happen today, would more Republican officials, after today's Electoral College votes, come out? And one said that they were very skeptical. I said, well, when is it over? And the source said, when Donald Trump leaves for Mar-a-Lago and then wait another six months for the, quote, "erratic tweets" to fade away.
So I think part of this is on President-elect Biden, part of it is on the Republicans.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, for sure. I mean, to imagine that some of these folks are going to still be afraid for six months --
BURNETT: -- I mean, it's appalling, frankly.
All right, please, both of you, stand by. Because several Senate Republicans have said -- to the point Jamie was just raising, right? -- that they're going to wait until today, when the Electoral College votes, before they would recognize Joe Biden as president-elect, right? They kept putting it off, and putting it off. Well here we are, guys, and here's what they've said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LAMAR ALEXANDER (R-TN): Everything before Monday is really a projection.
SEN. MIKE BRAUN (R-IN): I think that we've got a threshold coming on December 14th that, when the Electoral College meets.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: When the Electoral College will determine the winner, and that person will be sworn in on January 20th. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So should Biden be preparing for a flood of congratulations from Republicans on Capitol Hill? I don't even want to laugh about it, it's not funny. But you've got more than 200, right? Which, according to the "Washington Post," refused to explicitly say that the president-elect was the president-elect.
So with me, former Democratic South Carolina state representative Bakari Sellers, and former special assistant to President George W. Bush Scott Jennings.
OK, here's the day, Scott, here we are, a lot of them were saying wait until today. So what are they going to do tonight? We're going to start hearing "president-elect" just falling off the lips of hundreds of Republicans?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Actually would pay very close attention to the Senate this week. I suspect that this institution, the Electoral College, will do what it's going to do today, and then that will trigger people to recognize Joe Biden as the president-elect of the United States. And so my advice is pay attention to the senators, I think you're going to hear several acknowledge the Electoral College.
And then of course the next benchmark is January the 6th, when the Congress has to accept all this, as was being discussed. But as of this week, my suspicion is you're going to see the institutional wheels grind a little bit closer to reality.
BURNETT: So, Bakari, on that front, you know, Scott's saying watch the Senate. The majority leader, McConnell, right? He has, you know, kept emphasizing the importance of today. So do you think he will acknowledge Biden's win at some point today, to make that formal, to not wait? And how much does the timing of what Senator McConnell does matter to his ability to work with Joe Biden? Because that really could be the crucial relationship.
BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So I don't put much into the timing. I do think that Mitch McConnell has already had conversations with Joe Biden and Joe Biden's team. And what he says publicly, I'm pretty certain contradicts what he's saying privately. But the fact is, today, Joe Biden will be the president or will win the presidency of the United States again.
I do think, though, over the last 40 years of Joe Biden working in the United States Senate, working closely with Mitch McConnell, they're going to have a better working relationship than most people want to give them credit for. Now, that doesn't mean that he's going to be able to pass everything that he wants to pass, but I do believe that he's going to have some ability to work with Mitch McConnell where others have not.
And so, you know, today is a big day in Bidenworld. But while the United States Senate may come closer to reality, there still are millions and millions and millions of Americans who watch other networks, who still don't have a grasp of reality.
And until people come out with some courage and are forceful in their words, the Cornyns of the world -- well actually Cornyn has been a little bit better, but -- the Lindsey Grahams of the world actually come out and accept the reality that Joe Biden is president, we still will have millions of people who don't agree.
BURNETT: All right. I want to listen in here to the electors in Tennessee, so let's listen in to that for just a moment here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor Lee, for president of the United States, selectors for the state of Tennessee cast 11 votes for Donald J. Trump.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At this time, the electors will cast the votes for vice president. Electoral tellers, please deliver to the electors their ballots.
BURNETT: You know, it's interesting as we watch this process in Tennessee, a year ago, we never would have thought we would be bringing that to you, right? But we're showing you this.
And Anderson, one thing that is, I think, really -- trying to think of the right word, but it makes me feel good, it is bolstering to see everyone in each of these states go along with the formal process, right? That there's a process and everyone -- you know, that they're abiding by it, that they are checking the boxes, that they are following the protocol. And there is something that all Americans should take calm from that.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Especially those who say that they support the Constitution, all of this is enshrined --
COOPER: -- in the Constitution. And for the founders, thought of this for the very reason that we are facing now, which is the idea of someday there may be a president who does not want to step down or wants to become a monarch or whatever it may be in their mind, this is the system that the founders came up with and we are watching it play out in a very mundane way, and yet a crucially important way on this day.
Erin, we'll --
COOPER: -- come back to you shortly.
Coming up, we have health care workers across the U.S. get ready to administer the first COVID vaccine. This as the country nears 300,000 deaths.
Plus, CNN sits down with the CEO of Pfizer, he shares his biggest concerns as the rollout begins.
COOPER: And welcome back to our special coverage. After seeing these great videos all morning of the vaccine arriving across the East Coast, we are now seeing shipments arrive in the Midwest. CNN's Omar Jimenez is at an emergency asset center in Chicago.
So who's first in line for this batch of shots where you are?
OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, the way it's going to work here in Chicago is it's going to be going to 1A frontline health care workers, as we understand, basically people that are on the frontline in spots where people are sick and coughing and breathing into the air, that's the first set that's going to receive them.
And as we understand here in Chicago, to give you an idea of how it's going to work, it's different a little bit than most other cities in that the Chicago Department of Public Health will be the single entity to receive these shipments from Pfizer, shipments that, as we understand from health officials, they don't have just yet. And from there, it will then be distributed to hospitals all across the city of Chicago, all hospitals at the same time.
And part of that is not all the hospitals here have the capacity to store it at that negative-70 degrees Celsius that this Pfizer vaccine requires, and so the city department will then store for some of those places that aren't able to give it.
Another interesting aspect about that is that these vaccines, the vaccine itself is being received and stored at an undisclosed location throughout the area, and officials here have said that is for security reasons. Though when it gets time for that first dose to happen, we think we do expect, based on conversations we've had with health officials, that there will be some sort of access to show what that process is like.
And as we move forward, we have heard that they do expect more than 20,000 doses here in Chicago as they begin that process. And as we look forward next week, they will then start moving into vaccinations for those at long-term care health facilities as they begin to disseminate that vaccine here in the Chicagoland area.
JIMENEZ: And one last point, is that is just for the city of Chicago. We do expect an update from county officials for the surrounding suburbs as well as they are getting ready to lay out their vaccine distribution plan as they expect it to arrive shortly here, at the very least by the end of the day if not tomorrow -- Anderson.
COOPER: It's exciting. Omar Jimenez there, appreciate it. I want to go to our Sara Murray who's outside George Washington
University Hospital in D.C. Do we know if the Pfizer vaccine is on- site yet?
SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is on-site. And Anderson, there's a lot of high-stakes choreography that came with this initial Pfizer handoff. You know, it arrived here earlier this morning, and a CDC official was explaining to doctors, look, you essentially have three minutes when you take these vials out of this thermal shipper, you have to count the number of vials, it was 195 here. You have to check the expiration dates, and you have to get them into the ultra-cold freezer.
So we spoke to some doctors here today who said they did that process, it went smoothly, they did it in three minutes, they got the vials into these ultra-cold freezers.
And then they took one of the vials out, it has about five doses in it, and they're in the process of de-thawing that. That process takes a couple of hours because of how cold these Pfizer vaccines have to be kept. You know, they don't want to de-thaw too much at once because they don't want anything to go to waste, so they're in the process of de-thawing their first dozes and they're going to start doing vaccinations later on this afternoon.
You know, they only have 975 doses initially, and they have about 4,500 health care workers here at G.W. that they would like to eventually get vaccinated. That gives you an indication that this is going to be part of a process. We are going to see the first steps in that today, but it's going to take a while.
And as we were talking to doctors here today, even though, you know, there are only going to be a few folks who start, they say it is a turning point, it is a light at the end of the tunnel. These are folks who have had to put patients on ventilators, who have seen patients pass away, so it's a very big day for these health care providers.
COOPER: Yes, it's incredible development. Sara Murray, appreciate it.
Moments ago, we saw medical professionals in Queens, New York administer the vaccine. Let's take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ready?
YVES DUROSEAU, CHAIR, DEPARTMENT OF EMERGENCY MEDICINE, LENOX HILL HOSPITAL: Yes, please.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, let's do this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING IN JAPANESE)
DUROSEAU: Thank you. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, (INAUDIBLE).
DUROSEAU: Thank you very much.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How are you feeling, Doctor?
DUROSEAU: Feeling great.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: It seems so simple, what an effort to get to this moment. I want to bring in Erica Hill, who was there, witnessed that moment. So tell us about what's happening, Erica.
ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR AND NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So right now Anderson, we're actually hearing from Sandra Lindsay, who was the first volunteer. She's a critical care nurse right here at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, where we are this morning.
And she right now is talking a little bit about how important it was for her as a woman of color -- she's originally from Jamaica -- that she volunteer and that people around the country and frankly around the world see her getting that vaccine.
And we heard similar things from Dr. Yves Duroseau, who you just saw there. He's the chair of Emergency Medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital, which is another hospital within Northwell Health, which is New York State's largest health care provider.
And what we heard from Dr. Duroseau was also just how important it was -- and he was saying this morning, leading into it as he was waiting to get that shot in his arm -- he was excited that he was feeling great and this was a great day. He said he's really hopeful, Anderson, and that this really signifies a moment of hope for both him and his staff and for his family because he, like so many Americans, has been personally impacted.
COOPER: Yes. For these doctors, it's just nurses, all medical professionals and frontline workers, it is such a welcome thing. Obviously they have been risking their lives on a daily basis for all of us.
I want to go now to our Martin Savidge. He's at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center -- Martin.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is the biomedical research tower (ph), and we just had the first five receive the injection of the vaccine here, and the way the process is going to work is that they will move from left to right across this room.
Inside of this room are the 30 frontline health care workers that have preselected. and it -- you know, you could tell there's applause, there's nervousness, there's a ton of cameras that are focusing in on people's arms here.
But these are all the health care workers that have either been in the trenches from the very beginning, or continue to be at high risk. These are the people who are in the emergency rooms, these are the people that are in the ICU units, in many cases, these are doctors and they are the ones that have been ordained to get the first vaccines.
it's a small group today because this is the initial rollout here, and they will continue to add to the numbers of people -- just listening as officials here just sort of talk about how much this has meant to this hospital and all those that are here.
COOPER: Martin, when you and I last spoke it was 9:00 a.m., you were waiting for the UPS truck to come delivering this. It's extraordinary to me that from that moment to now, I'm not sure what time the dosing -- the dosages got there, but it seems a quick turnaround that they have been able to start inoculating people.
SAVIDGE: It is, primarily because they used a relatively small batch the first time around, so the smaller the batch, the faster they could basically bring it to room temperature, which is what they want to do. So they're not using large amounts, they're only using a couple of vials for the vaccinations that are taking place here today. But may be a small amount, but of course huge in significance here.
And you hear, you know, yes it is a moment to celebrate, but nobody -- nobody is saying that this is the end. It's (INAUDIBLE) --
-- just the beginning here. In fact, I talked to one doctor just before he got his injection, he was saying, you know, he will feel much better when hundreds of thousands and millions of these vaccines have been given because that's when the real impact is going to be felt.
But -- OK, so now we come to the moment where the second batch of people are about to receive their vaccinations. And it is carefully orchestrated, it is carefully programmed here. They have practiced and rehearsed for this very moment, and they have anticipated this. The whole scene is being played out in a room inside of the biomedical research tower, which is significant in itself in that so much research has gone on at this medical facility.
But today, it is a day both to mourn and celebrate, meaning they know how many lives have been lost, how much this state has suffered. In fact, December may very well prove to be the deadliest month of all here in Ohio. But they also recognize that this is step one.
COOPER: Yes. And as you said, this is step one. And even step one for the people who are getting the vaccination today, they will need a second shot down the road in a number of weeks. And I think it's such an important point you make, Martin, and that so
many health officials want Americans to remember, is that just because we are seeing these incredible mundane and yet glorious images of people getting a vaccine that will save so many people's lives, preventing them from getting sick, from dying of COVID-19, there are many -- there's still a long road ahead, and it is as important as ever to wear a mask during this time, to continue to social distance.
Because you know, right now we're heading toward 300,000 deaths in this country. And if you look at the estimates from the institutions that have been giving projections of deaths and have tracked this quite accurately, you know, we could be looking at hundreds of thousands more deaths before this vaccine is widely distributed.
SAVIDGE: Yes. And you know, what a tragedy that would be of course, when you've come to this moment where we finally have a vaccine, and yet so many others may yet die simply because the basic safety protocols have not continued to be followed.
And that's one of the warnings that, you know, doctors here have been expressing, that they are fearful that people may see this moment and think, well, that's it, we're done, it's over. And in fact, it's more important than ever that people continue to social distance, that they continue to wear a mask, that they continue to be, you know, ever- vigilant.
What's going to happen with all these people that are in this room? So once they're injected, they have to wait at least half an hour here, so they'll just sit here, remain here. They'll allow us to come talk to them and interview and get their feelings about this moment.
But you know, again, if you're just looking right here as the next batch of arms that are being prepared, and we're looking right up- front here, yes. This is the second person in the first row now.
And again, as you point out, so mundane but so significant here. This vaccination, of course, looks like so many others, but it is unlike any other. And it's unlike any other medical calamity that we've ever had to face. And yet there it is, done in a second, moving on.
And of course they have to face another round of injections, which will be in three weeks to a month from now. So it looks simple; it means so much, Anderson.
COOPER: Yes, it truly does. Martin, I'm so glad you are there.
Sanjay Gupta, Dr. Sanjay Gupta is with us as well. Sanjay, I mean, we're following two events today: these vaccinations, and also, you know, electors casting votes. Two, again, incredibly mundane events in normal times and yet extraordinary on this day, given all that it's taken for the country to get to this moment.
SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Anderson, I mean, it's just -- it is remarkable, I've got to say, to just watch the reporting from Martin at Ohio State. I mean, I didn't think. You know, you and I have covered this for so many months, I didn't think we'd be having this conversation this year.
You know that the science that goes into those little vials, that little amount of fluid in that syringe is remarkable science. I mean, I don't think it's hyperbolic when scientists have described it to me as sort of this moonshot of infectious diseases. I think it really was. I mean, a lot of things absolutely had to go right.
And -- not the least of which is just the remarkable coordination that Martin was just showing in that room there. You know, they had to plan for this, how do you inoculate this many people, you're still in the middle of a pandemic, people are wearing the masks, you got to keep people safe at the same time you're giving them this injection.
So it is an incredible, incredible, moment, Anderson. And as you point out, you know, they will get this shot, they will come back, they'll get another shot in three weeks. And then about a week after that, they should essentially have, you know, 90, 95 percent immunity from COVID-19.
GUPTA: I mean, it's -- the -- you remember, the FDA would have accepted 50 percent, so just about any way you look at this, this day in terms of the vaccinations, it's a remarkable day, how well it works and how well it's working.
COOPER: Yes. Sanjay, for people who are watching this and wondering, well, when -- you know, when can I get it? How do people figure out when they can get it, how do people go about getting it?
GUPTA: Well, I think this is going to be a bit of a moving target. I spent a good chunk of the weekend talking to people at these various vaccine companies, I interviewed Albert Bourla this morning. I think there's a couple things to keep in mind.
We can project how many doses may be available, and for most people who are not working at hospitals or living in long-term care facilities, it would be something that comes through their pharmacies or even through their doctors' offices if they can handle it, because this does require, as Martin was just talking about, super-cold storage, negative-70 degrees. So there's got to be infrastructure issues in some places. But that will become increasingly clear in your own community, where you can get the shot.
COOPER: But this is something that ultimately you can get at your local CVS or Walgreens or whatever it is.
GUPTA: You should be able to. In fact, CVS and Walgreens are going to be sort of handling a lot of the injections within the long-term care facilities. It may be different in different places, I don't know that there's going to be a universal standard across the country, bigger cities may have better resources in terms of cold storage -- COOPER: Right.
GUPTA: -- but keep in mind, you know, next week -- sorry, this week now, Moderna may be having a vaccine emergency use authorized, which does not require the same level of cold storage.
We were talking to people earlier this morning, Johnson & Johnson and Oxford AstraZeneca will likely be applying for their emergency use authorizations at the end of January, maybe early February time frame. So it's going to be a moving target. AstraZeneca, the 300 million doses have been purchased by the United States Government.
And this gets at the issue of when will most people be able to be vaccinated. If these other vaccines come online, if the distribution goes well and they can manufacture, I mean, it could be, you know, spring when we start to see it widely distributed.
COOPER: Yes, just remarkable. Sanjay, thank you so much, appreciate it, stand by.
Also under way, the Electoral College voting to affirm Joe Biden's win. We'll take you there, live.