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L.A. Ambulances Told Not To Take Patients Unlikely To Survive; FL: 1,000 Cars With Seniors Camp Out Overnight To Get Vaccinated; Hundreds Of Protesters Already Gathering, Businesses Boarding Up. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired January 5, 2021 - 12:30   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Los Angeles County is feeling the devastating impact of the out of control spread of coronavirus. Hospitalizations are at record highs. ICUs are at capacity. And the county is so overwhelmed that L.A.'s Emergency Medical Services Agency has actually told ambulance crews do not transport patients who have little chance of survival.

So EMS defines this as no pulse or signs of breathing out for at least 20 minutes of resuscitation. Dan Simon is with us now to talk a little bit about this. This is a scary point that these health systems have gotten to, Dan. What was the tipping point here?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, hi Brianna. It just seems that California is facing one major challenge after another, not enough hospital beds, not enough oxygen overstretch resources, and the situation is most pronounced in L.A. County where now you have a person dying of COVID every 15 minutes, according to officials and one out of five people who is testing for the virus is testing positive.

And now you have the county telling ambulance crews not to transport people to the hospital who have I guess slim chances of actually surviving. This is the CEO of Cedars-Sinai, who spoke earlier today. Take a look.


DR. JEFFREY SMITH, CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, CEDARS-SINAI MEDICAL CENTER: This order that was issued by the county emergency medical services really is very specific to patients who suffered from a cardiac arrest and are unable to be revived in the field. Those patients have a very low rate of survival even if they are transported to the hospital. And so at this time, it is deemed to likely be futile.



SIMON: Well, a futile or not if that is your loved one, Brianna, that is very distressing, the fact that they can't get to a hospital, even if their chances of survival are slim. You want them to get to that hospital. And we are told that the situation is likely to get worse in January as we're seeing the surge on top of a surge.

And of course, that doesn't even begin to account for the problems with the vaccine rollout, Brianna. You have just about a third of the vaccine available that's been administered to the public. It's a big sticking point in California. And obviously, the governor is trying to make things more efficient, but you have hundreds of thousands of doses right now just sitting on the shelf. Brianna?

KEILAR: Dan, as you said if it's your loved one, it is a terrible thought. Thank you so much Dan Simon showing us what's happening there in California.

And as the Trump administration is tossing responsibility for the vaccine rollout to the states, Florida's Governor Ron DeSantis is doing the same to local hospitals. The scramble to get the vaccine has websites crashing, there are jammed phone lines, there are senior citizens waiting in long lines, they obviously should not be doing that.

Overnight, there was a huge traffic jam at Daytona Stadium in Daytona Beach, 1,000 cars filled with eligible seniors camped out overnight in hopes of getting this vaccine. And when our CNN correspondent Rosa Flores asked the Governor about these issues, this is how he responded.


ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Governor, what has gone wrong with the rollout of the vaccine that we've seen phone lines jammed, websites crashing.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): It's a lot of demand. I mean, I think at the end of the day, excuse me, excuse me --

FLORES: If I could finish my question.

DESANTIS: You just said what has gone wrong. So I'm answering the question.

FLORES: If I could complete the question, though.

DESANTIS: So you're going to give a speech or you're going to answer -- ask a question?

FLORES: With all due respect, Governor, I'm trying --

DESANTIS: You ask a question, I'm going to answer it.

FLORES: I'm trying to finish my question.

DESANTIS: You're not. No, you're given a speech. You asked the question.

FLORES: I am trying to ask you that -- DESANTIS: You're going to ask how many questions. You get three? They only got one question. Why do you get three?

FLORES: With all due respect, Governor, I'm just asking if I could finish my question.

DESANTIS: You didn't. You finished the question.

FLORES: I did not. My full question is what went wrong with the rollout of the vaccine when we've seen phone lines jammed, websites crashing --

DESANTIS: So you're repeating your question?

FLORES: To complete it for you, Governor. We've seen websites crash and also senior citizens waiting overnight for the vaccine.

DESANTIS: Where was that at?

FLORES: We've seen it in Duvall, Broward, Orange, and Lee County.

DESANTIS: And why was like in Lee, why did that happen? Did you investigate why?

FLORES: That's my question to you, Governor. You're the Governor of the state. I'm not the governor of the state.

DESANTIS: OK. But you didn't investigate why that in Lee County -- why was there a big line, did you investigate why?

FLORES: Could you tell us why?

DESANTIS: Because we distributed vaccine, the hospitals and the hospital said first come first serve. If you show up, we'll do it. So they didn't use a registration system. There wasn't anything that was done. And there's a lot of demand for it. So people are going to want to go ahead and get it.

FLORES: So are you saying there was no plan then from the state to make sure that senior citizens didn't wait outside overnight?

DESANTIS: So the state is not dictating the hospital's how -- we're not dictating Carlos Migoya, how he runs his operations here. That would be a total disaster. These guys are much more competent to be able to deliver health care services than a state government could ever be. So we're empowering the hospitals 80 percent of the initial doses over the first three weeks were to hospitals, and you've seen places like Jackson really take the bull by the horns.

And yes, you know, when there was an issue like that, I think the hospital, I think they made a course correction and they decided to do it a little bit differently. So, but here's the thing, if you're 74 years old, in the state of Florida, we've made the decision that we want you to get vaccinated.

(END VIDEOTAPE) KEILAR: Rosa Flores is with me now from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. And I mean, Rosa, first off, I saw this this morning. I want to commend you on keeping your composure and for our viewers who are not familiar with the totality of your reporting on coronavirus in Florida, I think maybe one of the reasons the Governor might have been frustrated is that you have been a tireless questioner of Governor DeSantis as Florida has had a number of issues with its coronavirus response, which might be part of the reason why he was being such an ass instead of just answering your question at a time when Floridians need answers and their health and their lives are at stake.

So as the Governor is trying to claim, Rosa, that these lines are being addressed, we're actually still seeing them today. So how are local officials responding?

FLORES: You know, Brianna, I just talked to the mayor of Broward County and he is very frustrated because his constituents are blaming county officials. They're blaming him. And so what he explained to me in the interview just moments ago is that it is the Governor of this state that is responsible. It is his health department. And here's how he explained it to me.

He said, look, public hospitals are run by boards that are appointed by the Governor of this state. The state gave the vaccines to the county health departments. But in the state of Florida, the county health departments are run by the Florida Department of Health, which is run by an appointee of the Governor of this state.


Now, people in this state are so frustrated, Brianna. The mayor just shared with us e-mails that he's been getting from constituents as to how angry they are because of the rollout. They're concerned about the seniors in this state. I'll just read a few lines for you. This is unacceptable. If Broward was not prepared to handle the volume it should have opened -- it should not have opened the site. Phone lines are jammed. The website has crashed. It's frustrating, inefficient, and tension provoking.

And so the point of the mayor of Broward County is that Broward is not responsible. It is the Governor of this state because the Florida Department of Health, according to the mayor, is using the executive order that was issued by Governor Ron DeSantis to roll out the vaccine. Brianna, I should add that after the press conference that this mayor held, I sent an e-mail to the Governor's Office asking for comment because the county mayor is blaming the Governor for this and I have not heard back. Brianna?

KEILAR: Maybe that is not surprising. I mean, Florida is -- has become a cautionary tale and it didn't have to be this way. And Rosa, your reporting has been illuminating that all along. So thank you so much for continuing that for us today.

Next, President Trump's latest efforts to strong arm Georgia election officials are nothing new. In fact, putting pressure on lawmakers has been a hallmark of the Trump presidency. We'll roll the tape. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


KEILAR: Some degree of intimidation in politics is nothing new, right, tale as old as time, the twisting arms, the backroom deals, political threats. But what is new is the President's Tony Soprano like behavior as he repeatedly attacks democracy in broad daylight. His call with Georgia officials begging and badgering them to find votes and overturn the election is just one example of the mob like tactics that he's used during his presidency.

President Trump also pressured the speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives to reverse the loss in his state. He invited Republican state leaders from Michigan to the White House in the hopes of pressuring them to steal a win for him there. He pressured the Republican governor of Georgia after the election to replace the state's electors, choosing ones that would subvert the will of the people and select Trump when Brian Kemp refused.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'll be here in about a year and a half campaigning against you, Governor, I guarantee you that.


KEILAR: Now threatening someone's job when they don't do Trump's bidding fits a pattern. When republican senator John Thune recognized Joe Biden's win, which is reality, Joe Biden won, the President declared his career over. He said that Thune would be primaried. When Republican Ohio Governor Mike DeWine called Biden President-elect, Trump made like Marty McFly and went to the future to essentially endorse whomever is running against DeWine.

When Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski said before the election that she didn't know whether she'd vote for Trump, he vowed to campaign against her, same goes for Senator Ben Sasse. After Sasse criticized him at a town hall saying that he kisses dictators butts. And it's not just politicians who oppose him that he threatens and tries to intimidate. He also likes to pressure his own appointees like at the Justice Department.

He did it with former Attorney General Jeff Sessions on a number of occasions. And when Sessions refused, he asked him to resign. Trump then made sure to get revenge when Sessions ran for the Senate, endorsing his opponent and tweeting that Sessions couldn't be trusted that he was a quote, disaster, who has led us all down.

Trump also pressured former Attorney General Bill Barr many times. He asked him publicly to prosecute his perceived political rivals. And when Barr didn't comply --


GREG KELLEY, NEWSMAX HOST: Bill Barr, will he be around in a second term?

TRUMP: I have no comment. I can't comment on that. It's too early.

KELLEY: Too early.

TRUMP: I'm not happy with all the evidence I had. I can tell you that, I'm not happy.


KEILAR: Now he also likes to pressure the FBI, James Comey, of course you know that story. And despite lessons learned or unlearned, I shouldn't say from that episode, he's publicly pressured his own handpicked director at the bureau, Christopher Wray, most recently on bogus conspiracy theories of voter fraud. And when Wray didn't comply --


MARIA BARTIROMO, FBN HOST: Address Christopher Wray. Will you replace him in a second term?

TRUMP: Well, I don't want to say that yet. He's been disappointing. He talks about, you know, even the voting thing that he doesn't see the voting ballots as a problem.


KEILAR: The President also likes to publicly pressure and threaten the jobs of health officials in the middle of a pandemic. After growing impatient with the FDA for not approving a vaccine authorization fast enough. The White House told FDA Director Stephen Hahn to do it by the end of the day or start dusting off his resume, according to two white house sources. Although Hahn denied it, the vaccine was indeed authorized that day.

And of course, in Trump's last rally before the election when his supporters started to chant fire Fauci, what did the President do? He gave it oxygen.


CROWD: Fire Fauci, fire Fauci, fire Fauci, fire Fauci, fire Fauci, fire Fauci, fire Fauci.


TRUMP: Don't tell anybody but let me wait until a little bit after the election. I appreciate the advice.


KEILAR: And of course, don't forget the arm twisting that he did that got him impeached trying to force Ukraine's president to dig up dirt on Joe Biden or $400 million in aid would be withheld. It's a mob like mentality the likes of which the White House has never seen. But just like in the sopranos in two weeks, Trump's presidency will cut to black. And we may all be wondering what the hell just happened. But one thing is certain, the show will be over.

And next, hundreds of protesters are already gathering in D.C. as Congress prepares to certify Joe Biden's presidential win. The National Guard is being deployed there and we'll be there live.



KEILAR: Police and protesters are on the move right now in the Nation's Capital. And tomorrow, President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College win is going to be certified. That is what is bringing this wave of protest to Washington, so much so that the mayor is requesting help from the National Guard.

CNN's Brian Todd is in Freedom Plaza right now. And I wonder I mean, we see some activity behind you, Brian, tell us what's happening.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Brianna, a lot of energy here at Freedom Plaza. This is a protest here that's organized by a group called the 80 Percent Coalition. They are supporters of the President. We're going to take a walk down this way a little bit, my photojournalist Ronnie McCray and I can kind of show you the crowd and set the scene a little bit.

A couple of hundred protesters here, we're told that they're going to be speakers here. There's already been some music, some chanting, some people getting up on stage and speaking. Now the question is, you know what kind of potential conflict may start because you mentioned the police presence. There was a tight police cordon around this entire area of the Nation's Capital, the D.C. police coordinating with the National Guard, with the Park Police, with the Secret Service, with other agencies.

Because in December and since Election Day, there have been a few pro- Trump protests here in the district. And at least one of them there were street fights that broke out. There were people clashing in the streets. There were stabbings. And they want to try to prevent a repeat of that. So they have warned that some groups that might try to start conflict with these people may descend on the Nation's Capital.

There may be some people bringing guns to the Nation's Capital to try to display those in public. D.C. is not an open carry city so you're not allowed to do that. Anybody doing that will be arrested. Come on over here, I'll just show you tight police cordons. There's police vehicles over here. And all down Pennsylvania Avenue toward the Capitol, there you can see streets blocked off. The streets have blocked off just about everywhere in this perimeter, Brianna. So police, National Guard has been ready for what comes today and tomorrow.

KEILAR: All right, Brian Todd, thank you for showing us that live in Washington. And next, we are live on the final day of voting and what has been a wild election season, that's one way to put it, voters at the polls in Georgia determining the balance of power in Washington.