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Full transcript of "Face the Nation" on December 13, 2020

Face The Nation: Garrett, Gottlieb, Salvanto
Face The Nation: Garrett, Gottlieb, Salvanto 22:35

On this "Face the Nation" broadcast moderated by Margaret Brennan:

  • Alex Azar Health and Human Services Secretary
  • Rep. Cedric Richmond, D- Louisiana, Incoming Senior Adviser to the President-Elect Joe Biden
  • Robert Garrett, Hackensack Meridian Health CEO
  • Scott Gottlieb, M.D., Former FDA Commissioner

Click here to browse full transcripts of "Face the Nation."


MARGARET BRENNAN: I'm Margaret Brennan in Washington. And this week on FACE THE NATION, breaking news this morning as the massive operation to vaccinate hundreds of millions of Americans is officially underway. The very first Pfizer vaccine shipment left a factory in Kalamazoo, Michigan early Sunday. Its distribution across the U.S. is just the first step in a staggering logistical operation, expected to go well into 2021.
 
GUSTAVE PERNA: D-Day was the beginning of the end, and that's where we are today.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Celebrating that victory, President Trump took in the annual Army-Navy Game in person, attempting something normal in a year that has been anything but.
 
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: This is one of the greatest scientific accomplishments in history.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: But the challenge of convincing the roughly seventy-five percent of Americans who need to take the vaccine in order to actually beat the virus will fall to his successor.
 
PRESIDENT-ELECT JOE BIDEN: I want to make it clear to the public, we should have confidence in this.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: And it will be months before supply can fill the demand, months that tens of thousands of Americans may not have unless they follow the pleas to wear masks, social distance, and follow CDC guidance.
 
ANDREW CUOMO: We're about to walk into the Hanukkah surge, and the Christmas surge, and the Christmas week surge, and the Kwanzaa surge and New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: The number of COVID-19 deaths, hospitalizations, and new infections continue to break records daily. Medical providers are stretched to their limit, and hospitals are at or near capacity.
 
DR. JAMES MCDEAVITT: This crisis that we have right now, the vaccine is not going to save us.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll talk with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, plus former FDA Commissioner Doctor Scott Gottlieb, and the head of Hackensack Meridian Health, Robert Garrett. They'll start vaccinating front line workers Tuesday.
 
Then, as the streets of Washington fill up with protesters yet again, we'll tell you why so many Trump voters support his desperate yet feudal efforts to overturn the results of the election. Incoming White House senior advisor Cedric Richmond will join us to talk about that.
 
It's all just ahead on FACE THE NATION.
 
Good morning, and welcome to FACE THE NATION. We begin with good news today. The first shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine are on their way to those who will receive them first: Front line health care workers and elderly nursing home residents. But at the same time, the death toll in the United States is closing in on three hundred thousand, and CDC Director Robert Redfield warned Thursday that we will probably have more deaths per day than we had on 9/11 or Pearl Harbor over the next sixty to ninety days. We begin this morning with CBS national correspondent Mark Strassmann in Atlanta.
 
(Begin VT)
 
MARK STRASSMANN (CBS News National Correspondent): Code blue in Minneapolis where COVID bullies Methodist Hospital every day. Its exhausted staff has a white-knuckle grip on hope.
 
WOMAN #1: These people are dying alone. Where is this light at the end of the tunnel? I'd like to see it.
 
MARK STRASSMANN: COVID America's three major benchmarks get bleaker by the day. Deaths. Los Angeles County has had more of them than forty states.
 
BARBARA FERRER: Over eight thousand people-- sorry. Ov-- over eight thousand people who are beloved members of their families are not coming back.
 
MARK STRASSMANN: Twice this week, COVID killed more than three thousand Americans in a single day. Hospitalizations now at one hundred eight thousand patients and climbing. New Mexico's overwhelmed hospitals now ration care, who's most likely to survive. One-third of Americans live in areas critically short of ICU beds.
 
WOMAN #2: We have sixty patients holding in our emergency department that are waiting for beds inside the hospital.
 
MARK STRASSMANN: This California hospital converted its lobby into a COVID ward. But there's no easy way to create more doctors and nurses, and many hospitals report running short of needed staff. Here's why: New cases. They hit an all-time high on Friday. More than two hundred thirty-one thousand in a single day.
 
DR. JAMES MCDEAVITT: The whole country's on fire. Everybody's surging. Everybody's stressed.
 
MARK STRASSMANN: --which brings us to where hope lives, rolling out the Pfizer vaccine. Almost three million doses are shipping this weekend, bound for sub-zero freezers in all fifty states. Injections will begin tomorrow for top-priority Americans, high-risk health care workers who've battled the killer virus the last ten months.
 
GENERAL GUSTAVE PERNA (Chief Operating Officer, Operation Warp Speed): We are not done until every American has access to the vaccine.
 
(End VT)
 
MARK STRASSMANN: But demand dwarfs supply. Many hospitals have no idea when their vaccine shipment will show up or how much to expect. And this national inoculation will take time. Predictions call for one hundred million vaccinated Americans by February. That's less than one-third of the country. Margaret.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mark, thanks.
 
Vaccinations are already underway in the U.K. CBS Senior foreign correspondent Liz Palmer reports.
 
ELIZABETH PALMER (CBS News Senior Foreign Correspondent/@CBSLizpalmer): Good morning. As the U.S. prepares to start vaccinating its citizens, the program that began here in the U.K. on Monday in fifty hospitals--apart from a couple of temporary allergic reactions--has gone without a hitch.
 
(Begin VT)
 
ELIZABETH PALMER: Ninety-year-old Margaret Keenan was first.
 
(APPLAUSE)
 
ELIZABETH PALMER: With no report she suffered any side effects.
 
MARGARET KEENAN: It's just so strange and so wonderful, really.
 
ELIZABETH PALMER: By the end of the week, tens of thousands had been done. The U.K. had asked retired nurses to return to work to help inoculate the initial batch of four hundred thousand people. First, the very elderly and also front line medical staff. In place and working well is a complex transport system to keep the Pfizer vaccine at sub-zero cold, until it's ready to be used. In Asia, another vaccine is making its widespread debut. China's Sinovac version pairs the first load of a million doses arriving in Indonesia, which has just suffered its most lethal COVID week yet. Russia, too, is sharing its Sputnik vaccine. It arrived in Serbia this week and is being trialed in Brazil, which still has one of the worst infection rates on earth. The vaccines are good news, but global immunization is going to be a long, slow haul. Meanwhile, as a masked and cautious Europe heads into the holiday season, the virus is still spreading dangerously, even in countries like Germany which did well at the start. The infection rate there is so alarming that Germany has announced today it's going to go back into a strict lockdown on Wednesday that will shut schools and ban drinking in public.
 
(End VT)
 
ELIZABETH PALMER: There have been some failures as well on the vaccine development front. A couple of promising trials, one Australian and one Anglo-French were stopped this week because the vaccines had yielded disappointing results. Margaret.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Liz Palmer, thank you.
 
We want to go now to the secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar. He's at HHS. Good morning to you, Mister Secretary.
 
ALEX AZAR (Health and Human Services Secretary/@SecAzar): Good morning, Margaret. Thanks for having me.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Operation Warp Speed told Pfizer to ship out just short of three million doses this week. Then hospitals and the recipients will vaccinate their workers. How many actual shots in the arm do you expect to have happen this week?
 
ALEX AZAR: So, we're shipping 2.9 million doses of vaccine. So whenever they get them in arms, that's 2.9 million people getting vaccinated. We're reserving that second dose of vaccine--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: You expect that to be--
 
ALEX AZAR: --so that they get that later.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: --2.9 million people receiving those doses this week?
 
ALEX AZAR: I didn't say this week. As soon as they're able to vaccinate.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
 
ALEX AZAR: Now, I-- I will say, as the health commissioner in South Carolina said we're going to be using this vaccine, not storing it. So I think it will go pretty quickly.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay. Well, I want to ask you specifically about something CVS revealed. They said they're not going to start vaccinating even though they're receiving it this month until December 21st because the Trump administration told them to wait until that date. Why is the Trump administration asking nursing homes to wait?
 
ALEX AZAR: Yeah. No, we're not actually asking the nursings-- nursing homes to wait. And we were able to have a really good discussion with CVS leadership about this misunderstanding that they had at the President's vaccine distribution summit. So I think we've gotten that all straightened out with them. And we'll be getting CVS and Walgreens vaccinating our nursing home people. A hundred-- almost a hundred percent of our nursing homes have signed up with that program for a turnkey vaccination operation. You know what's amazing--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, when will--
 
ALEX AZAR: --is by Christ-- by--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: --that start then?
 
ALEX AZAR: Well, they-- it's-- it can start really any day. The vaccines are going out as soon as they receive vaccine. This is according to the governors telling us to ship to them, we could have every nursing home patient vaccinated in the United States by Christmas. It's really a remarkable, remarkable prospect for all of us who have loved ones in nursing homes to-- that we may approach Christmas with that level of comfort that-- that our-- that our loved ones have gotten some initial protection already.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Certainly, given that fifty thousand nursing home patients are getting infected a week, let's watch and see when those begin. We will-- we will track that. But overall, for the general population and these shipments, why the decision not to be more aggressive out of the gate? Are you concerned that the governors who will be receiving and then in charge of distributing it, that the states aren't quite prepared?
 
ALEX AZAR: No, not at all. So we're being very aggressive. We're shipping all that we have that-- while we're holding back a reserve for the second dose. You know, this is a vaccine that is labeled for two doses--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: You have-- aren't there more than six million doses produced by Pfizer at this point?
 
ALEX AZAR: So-- so they're about-- they're about 6.4 million doses. So we've held a reserve, which, as General Perna has discussed, we-- with the first shipment, it's important to keep a safety stock there. And we're shipping half of the remaining, so that's 2.9 million doses going out. Listen, this is about measuring twice, cutting once. We're launching a very complex nationwide distribution program. Do it right, do it measured, get the job done right, anticipate problems, but know they're going to be hitches and hiccups as we go and we will work to solve it. This is the U.S. military that is running this operation. It's what they do.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
 
ALEX AZAR: We're using the private sector entities. As they said at the summit, this is what we do. They know how to do this and let's let them do their jobs.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: So you still expect to vaccinate twenty million people by the end of the month, even though you just shipped out three million doses this week?
 
ALEX AZAR: Oh, sure. Yes. We-- so we'll be getting more and more Pfizer product. And we've got twelve and a half million of Moderna product, assuming that we get approval at the end of this week on Moderna, that we'll ship out very soon thereafter. So yeah, twenty million vaccinations this-- this month. And then we think we'll be up to fifty million total vaccinations of-- of people--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
 
ALEX AZAR: --by the end of January and a hundred million shots in arms by the end of February just with the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right. I mean, you won't be in office then, but you believe the Biden administration will be able to meet that mark?
 
ALEX AZAR: If-- if they carry forward with the plans that we've put in place, a hundred million shots in arms by the end of February is very much in scope.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay. So I know you're relying on governors to oversee what happens with their constituents. If a state, though, is moving too slowly, will you claw back the vaccine that U.S. taxpayer money purchased?
 
ALEX AZAR: You know, I-- I don't want to-- I don't want to think about that type of a penal approach. We'll work-- we-- we have-- we'll work with the states. We have dedicated teams that are working with the states, and if--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Can you do that though?
 
ALEX AZAR: Yeah, absolutely-- no-- well, could we pull it back? I don't even want to talk like that. Our governors are very competent. They know what's going on in their states. We've worked with them through this for eleven months. We've planned for six months on this now. No-- we'll-- this is a cooperative relationship, but we'll work with them to help them, give them any tools--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.
 
ALEX AZAR: --they need to-- to make this work. That's the attitude to approach this with, I think.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay, because a lot of the governors have chimed in with this report that the National Governors Association released in the past few days, raising concerns that they're not getting enough support. In fact, they say they need 8.4 billion dollars to be able to do this. They've only been promised about two hundred million. Isn't it--
 
ALEX AZAR: Yeah, there's--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: --the Trump administration's responsibility to help get them the money to execute?
 
ALEX AZAR: Well, Margaret, we are getting them the money. They actually have-- New York-- to give you an example, as of a week ago, New York State and New York City haven't drawn down a penny of the money that we've made available for the vaccine distribution efforts. I think we've had one percent of the moneys available, drawn down. And part of that is there's a bit of partisanship going on, let's be honest, with this NGA thing. What-- what's happening is we bought the vaccine. They don't have to pay for vaccine. We're paying to distribute the vaccine. We and private payers are paying to administer the vaccines. We have set up turnkey operations with pharmacy programs to administer the vaccines. The states need to operate as air traffic controllers. I've been in South Carolina with the governor's team. I've been in Tennessee with the governor's team. Money's not the issue and they've got very good plans. And but--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, this is a bipartisan--
 
ALEX AZAR: --money's not-- money won't be the barrier.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: --group as you know that says they need the money. Twelve states say they need more federal guidance on data reporting, training, communications. Twelve states say they're waiting on information from the federal government and distribution. Seven states are concerned about funding from the federal government. Others say they need more federal coordination among the pharmacies to roll out at the long term care facilities, the nursing homes we talked about. Why hasn't this been worked out?
 
ALEX AZAR: Margaret, it has been worked out. There's just a lot of partisan sniping going on right now when we ought to be celebrating the fact that we've got millions and millions of doses of FDA safe and effective vaccine going out. Our governors have this. We've worked out, on all sixty-four public health jurisdictions in this country, we've worked out comprehensive plans. We have provided feedback back and forth. At the actual technical level, this is working. It will work. It's under control. We're leveraging the private distribution system that works every year for flu vaccines and other vaccines.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
 
ALEX AZAR: The people involved, DOD, CVS, Walgreens, FedEx, UPS, McKesson, what they said on Wednesday at the summit is this is what we do. Let us do our jobs.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right. Again, this is a bipartisan group. The President signed an executive order Monday saying that it would-- he would prioritize Americans by not allowing the drug to be exported until after Americans have been vaccinated. How is that actually going to work? Are you going to seize supply?
 
ALEX AZAR: So the executive or-- actually the first part that you referred to is always going to be the case. We're always going to make sure that Americans are getting vaccinated first with the fruits of Operation Warp Speed. The interesting part--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: So are you going to stop Pfizer from exporting its vaccine to our allies?
 
ALEX AZAR: Margaret, we will ensure that we-- our contracts are fulfilled here in the United States. But the important part was the second part. That was actually the new part, which said we have nine hundred million doses under guaranteed contract for the United States. We have total options and guaranteed purchase for three billion doses. We have significant manufacturing capacity. And what the executive order says is we're going to make those surplus doses and we're going to make that capacity available to our friends and allies around the world. And the secretary of state and I are to build a plan to make that happen. That was actually the news out of that executive order--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
 
ALEX AZAR: --that people aren't noticing is we're going to always be--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay.
 
ALEX AZAR: --the leading global public health security country in the world, supporting people.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay, so exports will continue. Thank you, Mister Secretary, for your update and good luck.
 
We will be back in just one minute with more FACE THE NATION. Stay with us.
 
(ANNOUNCEMENTS)
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: And we are back now with Louisiana Democratic Congressman Cedric Richmond. He is soon leaving Congress to join the Biden White House as a senior adviser, and he joins us this morning from Kenner-- Kenner, Louisiana. Good morning to you.
 
REPRESENTATIVE CEDRIC RICHMOND (D-Louisiana/@RepRichmond/Incoming Senior Adviser to President-elect Biden): Good morning. How are you, Margaret?
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: I'm doing well. I want to start on the news of the day, and that has to do with these vaccines. April 29th will be a hundred days in office for then President Joe Biden. He says he wants to deliver a hundred million vaccinations into the arms of Americans by that date. So what planning are you all doing now to change the Trump administration's distribution system or are you sticking with it?
 
REPRESENTATIVE CEDRIC RICHMOND: Well, we don't know if we need to change it or not at this point. We met a couple of times this past week with Operation Warp Speed, and we're getting up to date, but we still have more information to get from them and more information about their distribution plan. And, look, the one thing about President-elect Biden is that he is honest and he's transparent. And so what we don't want to do is mislead the American public-- public--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.
 
REPRESENTATIVE CEDRIC RICHMOND: --overpromise and under deliver. So, that's why we are being as cautious as we can in our estimates of numbers to make sure that we are being frank and honest with the American people.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, the president-elect did say he'd prioritize people in long-term care facilities, frontline workers and educators. Are you going to leave it up to the governors to decide how to roll out vaccines in schools? Or should teachers be mandated to take those shots?
 
REPRESENTATIVE CEDRIC RICHMOND: No, we're going to communicate with governors and look, one of the priorities for President-elect Biden is to get schools back open and get kids into schools, and that means we're going to have to put resources in it, which is why the-- a deal from Congress to help education facilities and schools open up is important. Making sure the vaccine gets to those teachers and students is important. And so it's one of our top priorities.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay, so you're not going to mandate teachers get vaccinated?
 
REPRESENTATIVE CEDRIC RICHMOND: Well, I don't think we're going to mandate anything--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay.
 
REP. RICHMOND: --but what we're going to do is appeal to the American people to rise up to their civic duty, and let's all get on the same page. And so, that's still to be determined, but we'll see what happens.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay. You, in your new role in the Biden administration, have described it as also being a conduit in some ways for outreach to Republicans. Two thirds of the Republican conference, including your friend, Congressman Steve Scalise, have supported this failed effort by-- by Texas to get the Supreme Court to try to overturn the results. And he says he still supports the President's attempts to do so. If-- if two thirds of the Republican conference doesn't recognize Joe Biden's victory as the president-elect, how can you do business with them?
 
REPRESENTATIVE CEDRIC RICHMOND: They recognize Joe Biden's victory. All of America recognizes Joe Biden's victory. This is just a small portion of the Republican conference that are appeasing and patronizing the President on his way out because they are scared of his Twitter power and other things. And so when it's time to govern, if we can't cooperate-- if Republicans won't meet us halfway, we will go to the American people, and we will continue to push our agenda. But this country is in far too much turmoil. And this pandemic, the economic aspects and health aspects really caused for America to get on one page--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.
 
REPRESENTATIVE CEDRIC RICHMOND: --solve this crisis and start to move forward. So--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: So, you don't take it seriously?
 
REPRESENTATIVE CEDRIC RICHMOND: --we're not going to let them slow us down. No, I don't. I talk to Republican members of Congress all the time, and they say one thing privately, they say another thing publicly. But the one thing I will tell you is they realize he lost this election.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: The president-elect's son, Hunter Biden, revealed this week that he is the target of attacks related, as he describes it, investigation by the U.S. attorney in Delaware. Unless President Trump's Justice Department clears Hunter Biden of wrongdoing before leaving office, it's going to be presented as a question for the Biden administration's Justice Department as to how to proceed with the inquiry. Should a special counsel be appointed to remove any questions about propriety here?
 
REPRESENTATIVE CEDRIC RICHMOND: We won't make any comment on that. What I will say emphatically is that President-elect Joe Biden has said over and over again during the campaign, and saying now that he wants an independent Department of Justice, unlike what we've had for the last four years in that he will trust that Department of Justice to do their job. And he's not going to meddle with the Department of Justice because it is that important to the rule of law, confidence of the American people and to our government. So--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.
 
REPRESENTATIVE CEDRIC RICHMOND: --Hunter Biden issued his own statement, and I think the statement speaks for itself.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: So it-- does remaining independent, does that suggest that the incoming attorney general, whoever that person is, since one hasn't been named yet, should they recuse themselves from this case?
 
REPRESENTATIVE CEDRIC RICHMOND: Look, I'll let the incoming attorney general decide, that is not my area of expertise, but our position is that the incoming attorney general should be independent, the Dep-- Department of Justice should be independent, and we will go from there.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Any timeline on when we might hear who that new A.G. might be?
 
REPRESENTATIVE CEDRIC RICHMOND: No, I can't-- I absolutely--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay.
 
REPRESENTATIVE CEDRIC RICHMOND: --can't tell you. I can't-- I can't get into the President-elect's mind about when he's going to roll out his remaining cabinet--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay.
 
REPRESENTATIVE CEDRIC RICHMOND: --members.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to quickly ask you, there was violence again in-- in Washington, D.C. with these pro-Trump protests. ANTIFA was also president-- present, according to our reporters. Are you concerned about this kind of violence around the inauguration?
 
REPRESENTATIVE CEDRIC RICHMOND: Well, look, we're concerned about violence anywhere, and especially as we go into the holiday season, the stress continues to mount up on our families. But look, we want to be clear that where there's violence concerned it is not protest. That is breaking the law. Peaceful protest are one thing, but breaking the law--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
 
REPRESENTATIVE CEDRIC RICHMOND: --is another thing altogether. And so we are worried about it.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. Congressman, thank you for your time. We'll be right back with a lot more FACE THE NATION. Stay with us.
 
(ANNOUNCEMENTS)
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Although Operation warp Speed is underway and the vaccine is coming, health officials are warning Americans not to become complacent, especially over the holidays. You may be over the coronavirus, but the coronavirus is not over you. For the latest CDC guidelines, visit Cbsnews.com.
 
(ANNOUNCEMENTS)
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll be right back with more on the Pfizer vaccine rollout from the CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health, Robert Garrett, former FDA Commissioner Doctor Scott Gottlieb also joins us. Stay with us.
 
(ANNOUNCEMENTS)
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. Robert Garrett is the CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health, the largest health network in New Jersey. His group will receive the Pfizer vaccine tomorrow and will begin vaccinating health care workers Tuesday. He joins us from Hackensack. Good morning to you.
 
ROBERT GARRETT (Hackensack Meridian Health CEO/@BobCGarrett): Good morning, Margaret. Thank you for having me.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, thank you for joining us. I-- I know New Jersey has been hit very hard by COVID-19. The governor this morning said, "The next number of weeks are going to be hell." That was his quote. How is your medical staff holding up? What is ICU capacity like?
 
ROBERT GARRETT: Well, so far, Margaret, they're-- they're holding up well. It's been-- it's really been a long haul since-- since the COVID-19 pandemic hit us in, in March. As we speak this morning, we are taking care of about nine hundred COVID-19 patients. We've seen over twenty-two thousand patients since the beginning of the pandemic. And just to put it in perspective, in the middle of April, when-- when we were at peak, there were nearly three thousand COVID-19 patients that we were treating. We-- actually that number decreased to about fifty at the end of the summer, and we've seen a steady increase to nine hundred. Our ICU capacity is-- is getting stretched. We still have some capacity. We still have some medical surgical capacity and capacity in our emergency departments. Our-- our biggest challenge now, Margaret, is staffing because, you know, in-- during the first surge, we were able to source staff from literally around the nation. But as you've been reporting, there's a surge all over the country now. So it's much more difficult to supplement our regular staff with-- with additional staff.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: And what is access like to some of the therapeutic drugs that have been developed since the spring?
 
ROBERT GARRETT: The access has steadily improved. We've been doing clinical trials since the-- since the beginning of the pandemic, but remdesivir as an example is-- is much more readily available. Steroid treatment is available. Convalescent plasma therapeutics are also available. So, that has really helped us with this second wave and the second surge.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.
 
ROBERT GARRETT: So we're seeing-- you know, we're seeing a different age distribution. So, there are younger people that are hospitalized, but they are recovering without having necessarily to utilize critical care. We've been able to prevent more people from-- from going on ventilators. But, we also have more tools in the-- in the tool chest with these therapeutics. They-- they are definitely helping.
 
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, one tool you'll be receiving in the next twenty-four hours or so are these vaccine doses. And front-line health care workers, as you know, are going to be able to receive it. I'm wondering, though, how do you actually execute that in your hospital? I mean, you're describing a surge of patients. Your doctors are working round the clock. Can you take them off the clock to give them a vaccine?
 
ROBERT GARRETT: Well, first of all, let me just say that we are really excited about making history here as we start to vaccinate the-- the American people. I truly believe this is going to be the beginning of the end of this terrible pandemic. We've been planning for the vaccine arrival and distribution literally for months.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
 
ROBERT GARRETT: We have a vaccine coordinator and a team that's been appointed. They have been working out logistics, including obtaining the-- the ultra-cold freezers, working out a distribution plan to all of our hospitals. And you-- you right-- rightfully point out that staffing is the biggest challenge. But I have to tell you, I've been very inspired. We are getting volunteers, as an example, private physicians in the community wanting to help us vaccinate, retired nurses that are coming back to help us vaccinate front-line team members. And also, we're working with our own medical schools. So medical students will be involved in the process, as well as nursing students from various nursing schools.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
 
ROBERT GARRETT: And also our-- our front-line team members, you know, they've been through so much, but yet they are willing. And this really inspires me, they are willing to come in on their day off to help vaccinate their colleagues.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Wow.
 
ROBERT GARRETT: So we have a good team of vaccinators, you know, that will start.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah. Yeah.
 
ROBERT GARRETT: We're going to start by vaccinating team members that are-- that interact directly with patients.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
 
ROBERT GARRETT: That will include doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, but it'll also include people who support those front-line caregivers like environmental service aides and patient transporters. And we expect, based on the supply, that we-- hopefully those front-line team members that I speak about, hopefully we will be able to vaccinate all of them over the next three to four weeks.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay. I know you also operate long-term care facilities, nursing homes. CVS says they were told not to begin vaccination until December 21st, even though they received the vaccine before that. The Health and Human Services secretary told us that was all a big misunderstanding. What is the plan at your facilities? What is CVS telling you?
 
ROBERT GARRETT: CVS is telling us, and this is the latest information as of this morning, is that they will start to vaccinate our long-term care residents the week of December 21st.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay.
 
ROBERT GARRETT: So that's the latest information I have. I did hear the secretary's interview, but the latest information I have from CVS and Walgreens is that they would start on the week of the 21st.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay. And do you have any idea why it would take that long, given that nursing home-- you know, that the elderly are so vulnerable?
 
ROBERT GARRETT: I-- I don't really because, you know, the CDC has clearly said that the-- the first group that should receive vaccine are front-line health care workers and long-term care--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
 
ROBERT GARRETT: --our residents. So--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.
 
ROBERT GARRETT: --I-- I just assumed that that would start at the same time.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. Thank you very much and good luck to all of your staff in-- in the weeks ahead.
 
We want to go now to former FDA Commissioner Doctor Scott Gottlieb. He is also on the board of Pfizer, and he joins us from Westport, Connecticut. Good morning to you.
 
SCOTT GOTTLIEB, MD (Former FDA Commissioner/@ScottGottliebMD): Good morning.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to start on the big picture. You forecasted last week that we're not going to see peak hospitalizations for at least six weeks. The CDC director put an even more dire timeline on that, saying sixty to ninety days we're going to have more deaths per day than on 9/11 or not-- than on Pearl Harbor. He was talking about on each day. How do you save lives at this point?
 
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Look, the pressure is going to be on the health care system, and we need to keep the health care system from getting maxed out. They're not going to see peak burden on hospital resources probably until mid-January or late January. You are seeing some hopeful signs around the nation in terms of a slowing of new cases in the Midwest and the West in particular, but you're seeing an acceleration in cases in the East Coast and the West Coast. So, the entire country isn't going through this pandemic at the same time. New York, California, were a little later to have an acceleration in cases. So, they're going to be later to peak. We are seeing some signs that there is a slowing of new cases in the parts of the country that were hit hardest the first, which is particularly the Midwest and the West. So, cases are likely to continue to increase through the end of December into early January. We're likely to see a peak at some point in January, but the burden on the hospital system is going to continue for another three weeks past that.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: You heard Mister Garrett say there that the nursing homes he operates have been told by CVS that they can't begin vaccinations until December 21st. CVS says that's also what they were told by the Trump administration. Health and Human Services secretary says they're wrong. Does it make any sense to you as to why they would be asked to delay vaccinating the most vulnerable?
 
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Well, the current guidance by CDC to the two pharmacies that are going to be going to the nursing homes, Walgreens and CVS, is that they can't begin until 12/21, giving those vaccinations. They're going to spend this week getting the consents in place. Now, it's possible that they tried to get into some nursing homes this week. But the bulk of those vaccinations right now, according to the CDC guidance to the states and the pharmacies, is that they can't begin until 12/21. They'll work through getting the consents in place from the individual patients and their family members this week. Those weren't put in place in advance. Once they start, they're going to start with the skilled nursing facilities first, but it's going to take them three weeks to work through all the pharmacies. They'll get the SNFs done, the skilled nursing facilities, which are the highest acuity, probably in the first week. But it'll take three weeks total to get through those-- those nursing homes. There's about forty-five thousand in the country. So this is a big undertaking.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: I understand it's a big undertaking, but there-- there are vaccine doses being made available before then. Why-- I mean, this seems like a costly delay since the elderly are so vulnerable.
 
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Look, it's a very costly delay. There is fifty thousand new infections in nursing homes every week right now, probably more than that. And we know twenty percent of people in the nursing homes who are infected will succumb to the infection. So, there's a lot of death happening in these nursing homes. I think the critical issue is that the consents weren't in place. You have to consent the patients. They want to get--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Why?
 
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: --all the consents in place before they go into the nursing homes. Why? Because they didn't do it in advance. I think they could have. They could have provided a fact sheet. They could have cleared a fact sheet with the FDA, maybe provided a limited emergency use authorization just for the nursing homes to get that information cleared so they could have properly consented patients. That wasn't done. We are where we are right now, but that needs to be done this week. They need the consent those patients. And in some cases, they'll have to go to family members because they'll be dealing with patients, unfortunately, who don't have capacity to give consent for themselves.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
 
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: So not an easy task--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: No.
 
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: --but probably something that should have been done in advance.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah. I mean, and don't get me wrong, it is good news the vaccine's out there. But now getting it out to the people is the really complicated part and that's being left up to the states to figure out. I know you talk to governors. What are the biggest choke points?
 
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Well, the last-mile problem is really the complexity here. People talk about the cold chain, but the logistics in this country are very good. Pfizer, which I'm on the board of, is shipping in a box that can keep these vaccines properly stored for up to ten days and can be refilled with-- with dry ice and kept even longer. You can keep it up to thirty days by refilling it with dry ice. The issue is the last mile, dealing with trying to get into the community to get these vaccines distributed. And initially, they're going to be distributing to hospitals for health care workers and nursing homes. So, that's a little bit of an easier challenge. You know where those institutions are. You can get to those individuals. Once they go into the community and start trying to vaccinate, for example, elderly individuals who might not be able to leave their home, they're going to have a challenge getting into those--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
 
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: --parts of the country, especially in-- in disadvantaged communities. If you look at what's happening with the antibody drugs right now, some states aren't distributing those very evenly. I'm told some states really aren't making use of them. They haven't distributed their available supply because they've had challenges getting those systems up and running. I think that's a-- a-- a concerning harbinger for the challenges they're going to face with the vaccine in that last-mile challenge.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: The Health and Human Services secretary said those criticisms from governors were all just a matter of politics. But you're describing real problems.
 
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Well, look, I-- this is happening on a bipartisan basis. I talk to and-- and advise Republican governors and I've talked to Democratic governors. They have challenges on the ground, especially once they get past this month. This month is a little bit of an easier task for them. And I don't mean to trivialize it. It's still a challenge. But going into the hospitals and the nursing homes, they have big institutions they can work with, the big pharmacies and the hospitals themselves. Once they try to go into the community, that's going to be where the challenge is. I'm not sure the country is prepared to do that right now. The governors--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
 
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: --have about a month to get ready because they're not going to be doing that until January.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: You've already been on the record earlier in the week on CNBC saying Pfizer did indeed offer Operation Warp Speed the option to buy more vaccine after they knew it was effective, after they'd seen the data. And the Trump administration continues to dispute those details. But I wonder what you think of the-- the overall supply question right now and whether there is adequate supply to meet that target that you heard the HHS secretary say, a hundred million people vaccinated by February.
 
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Look, I can't speak for the supply beyond-- beyond Pfizer. Pfizer has manufactured most of the doses that they're going to deliver in December, so they said they'll deliver twenty-five million doses to the United States. Twenty-five million outside the United States. Most of those doses have been manufactured at this point. They've committed to deliver up to a hundred million doses in-- by the end of the first quarter of next year. And I believe they'll hit that target. I'm pretty confident the company is going to hit that target.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
 
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Beyond that, you know, Pfizer hasn't secured an agreement with the U.S. and I can't speak to the other manufacturers.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right. And I know that the secretary has said they're-- they've been talking since October about buying the supply that still exists on Pfizer's shelves, so to speak, or on-- in terms of what they could do this year. Do you understand what the secretary was talking about in regard to exports and supplying the vaccine outside the U.S.? The President continues to say Americans need to get it first.
 
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Well, look, the federal government has all kinds of authorities they can try to invoke. I'm not sure what they're prepared to do. This is a global supply chain. There's vaccines being shipped into the U.S. and there's vaccines being shipped out of the U.S. and there's ingredients being shipped into the U.S. globally. So, I'm not sure that they want to step in and try to disrupt the global supply chain where we're dependent upon other nations as well. But it remains to be seen what they're willing to do. They have an opportunity-- they had an opportunity and they have an opportunity, at least with respect to Pfizer, to contract for more. This is an American company. I'm sure we'd like to work with the federal government, the U.S. government.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
 
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: So, the company stands ready and I'm sure the other companies do as well.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. Doctor Gottlieb, good to talk to you again today.
 
We'll be right back.
 
(ANNOUNCEMENTS)
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: In October, we spoke with voters around the country ahead of Election Day. And we wanted to check back in with some of them about their willingness to get the coronavirus vaccine.
 
(Begin VT)
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Now that the FDA is endorsing the vaccine, does that make you more willing now to take it?
 
JILL (Biden Supporter): No. No.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Why?
 
JILL: It's too rushed. It's too rushed. And there's just too many question marks still for me. Like, how effective it's going to be, how long it will actually protect you. And I'm afraid that it's going to give people a false sense of security. The social distancing I think will stop. People will stop wearing masks. They'll just think they're protected. So I'm really concerned.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mildred, you were reluctant before to take the vaccine. Given where we are now, have you changed your mind?
 
MILDRED (Biden Supporter): I haven't changed my mind. My biggest concern is how, you know, money has entered the equation. You know, will we have money, pharmaceutical companies, and politics-- this-- this is a scary scenario for me. I have concerns. It's not really fear; it's concern and cautious. I'm very cautious.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Gotcha. And, Lorie, you had said because of underlying health conditions for you, you were extra interested in the availability of this vaccine, and you would definitely take it.
 
LORIE (Biden Supporter): Yes. I have so many more concerns about what would happen if I contracted the virus than what might happen from a vaccine.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: And, JR, you were also hesitant. You didn't necessarily trust that the government would be giving you something that is safe. Do you still feel that way?
 
JR (Biden Supporter): Oh, of course, I still feel that way. I don't know what's in the drug.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: What would change your mind?
 
JR: I will go and talk to my doctor in January. Last year, in December, I was very sick, my wife was very sick, and my oldest son was very sick. And on Christmas Day-- we couldn't even have Christmas together. And so I went to the doctor, like two days after Christmas, and they say you don't have the flu. We tested for that. You don't have bronchitis, which we get every year. We tested for that. So since we have spoken, I went back to talk to my doctor in late October, said, I believe you had the coronavirus. We just didn't know what it was. So let's take a test. Took the test, have antibodies for it.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Wow.
 
JR: Oh. Yeah. Would I take the vaccine? Yes, eventually, yeah, I would take it, but not right away, no.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Beth, you were more than willing to take the vaccine even though you weren't necessarily living in fear of this virus. You said you'd still be willing to take it?
 
BETH (Trump Supporter): No, I'm actually going to continue to rely on my own immune system. I, you know, I firmly believe in taking control of your own health. I have been very ill. I-- I live with a disease now that I-- that I will always have. And keeping yourself healthy and free of pre-existing conditions is probably the best possible thing you can do.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Lorie, you were a Biden supporter, if I remember correctly. Walter, supported President Trump. The two of you are the only ones from this group so far who say that you trust the government and trust this process and would go ahead with the vaccine.
 
WALTER (Trump Supporter): Who said I trusted the government? I'm-- from the government I'm here to help, (INDISTINCT) screaming.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
 
WALTER: No, I-- I-- listen, I-- I don't know enough about the vaccine contents. I-- they-- I do realize they had this understudy a long time before the pandemic struck. If you're going to trust anything, trust the fact that the pharmaceutical companies want to make money. They sure don't want to be set back.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
 
WALTER: And what a disaster would happen if they-- if the-- these things came to market and were at best not functional, at worst harmful. So, in that I trust.
 
LORIE: It's not necessarily the government that I trust in the situation, but I believe scientists and epidemiologists-- I have a pre-existing condition that I was born with. And I can't do anything about it. And I have a lot of living left to do. And I really-- if-- if there's anything out there that can help me get back to my normal life, which I miss quite a lot, I'm going to do it.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
 
LORIE: Yeah. For me, I-- I have severe asthma, and my lungs are at fifty-nine percent of their capacity without medication, and I can't do anything about that except take medication to help with that inflammation.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Statistically, it is Black and brown Americans who are getting hit the hardest by the COVID infections. There is concern that-- that Black America, in particular, won't be willing to take it.
 
JR: I don't think we're not going to be willing. I think it's more like we just going to be reluctant--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
 
JR: --and want to take the time to make sure that the-- the side effects and everything is okay.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: So you want to wait. Jill, for you-- and I know you've already said as a health care worker, you would arguably be one of the first in line, but you're-- you're skeptical of this.
 
JILL: I love the job that I have. If it's required for me to keep that job to have the vaccine, it's done. I'll roll up my--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Wow.
 
JILL: --sleeve tomorrow, you know?
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
 
JILL: Would I willingly do it? No. But if it's what, you know, it would take, then-- I mean, of course, I will, you know. Because there's some things that are mandatory for us and we don't have a choice as health care workers. You do what you have to do. But I wouldn't go stand in line and sign up for it, you know, just to-- just to volunteer for it, absolutely no.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
 
(End VT)
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: And we'll be right back.
 
(ANNOUNCEMENTS)
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: President Trump continues to contest the election, despite losing the popular vote, the electoral vote, and approximately fifty court challenges in almost six weeks. Tomorrow, the Electoral College meets to cast their ballots. And the last step is for Congress to finalize that result on January 6th. CBS News elections and surveys director Anthony Salvanto has some insights as to why Trump voters want the President to keep fighting to overturn the election. Anthony joins us this morning from Westchester County, New York. So, Anthony, every state has certified the election results. Every vote's been counted, some recounted. But why do some Republicans continue to insist on overturning the results?
 
ANTHONY SALVANTO (CBS News Elections and Surveys Director): Oh, morning, Margaret. So a majority of voters described the election now one month on as over and settled, time to move on. But eight in ten Donald Trump voters say it should still be contested. Now, why is that? Well, a similar majority of voters called Joe Biden the legitimate winner, but eight in ten Donald Trump voters say they do not see him as such. Now, why is that? Well, it's more than just maybe a typical frustration after an election loss from partisans. Donald Trump's voters take his word that he has evidence of irregularities, evidence of fraud in the election casting that doubt on the process, not just the outcome. And so looking ahead to that Electoral College vote that you mentioned, once they do vote for Joe Biden, it is half of Donald Trump voters who say the President should still, after that, not concede. Margaret.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: And, Anthony, we should note that no evidence of widespread fraud has been shown to date, and the Trump campaign has been unable to substantiate its claims. Good to see you again.
 
We'll be right back.
 
(ANNOUNCEMENTS)
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: That's it for us today. Thank you for watching. Until next week, for FACE THE NATION, I'm Margaret Brennan.  

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