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Full transcript of "Face the Nation" on January 31, 2021

1/31: Francis Suarez, Scott Gottlieb, Janice Jackson
1/31: Francis Suarez, Scott Gottlieb, Janice Jackson 22:33

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

  • Cedric Richmond, Senior Adviser to the President
  • Gov. Ned Lamont, (D-Connecticut
  • Mayor Francis Suarez, R-Miami
  • Dr. Janice K. Jackson, Chicago Public Schools CEO
  • Dr. Scott Gottlieb, 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, chaos has turned to calm at the White House, but the challenges facing the newly elected President continue to grow. In the ten days since taking office, President Biden has issued a flood of executive actions dealing with COVID-19, immigration, Obamacare, climate change, overturning the travel ban, racial equity, transgender rights, the Keystone Pipeline, and abortion rights.

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: The best way to describe them, to undo the damage Trump has done.

MARGARET BRENNAN: There are new mandates requiring mask wearing when traveling, new efforts to bring order to vaccine distribution, and a third successful immunization is pending FDA approval.

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: We now have a national strategy to beat COVID-19. It's based on science not politics. It's based on truth, not denial.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But Mister Biden's push to end the pandemic will likely be disrupted by mutating strains of the virus now spreading in the U.S. Another roadblock: He's having a tough time selling his nearly two-trillion-dollar package of economic aid to Congress. Even to some members of his own party.

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: COVID relief has to pass. There's no if, ands, or buts.

MARGARET BRENNAN: With new accusations and threats on top of increasing fears over the safety and security of members of Congress bipartisanship is in short supply on Capitol Hill.

REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: The enemy is within the House of Representatives.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Will anyone be willing to compromise? We'll talk with White House senior adviser and former Congressman Cedric Richmond. Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont's state is a success story when it comes to vaccinations. Miami Mayor Francis Suarez's city has reported dozens of cases of coronavirus variants. Plus, we'll take a closer look at the push to get schools to reopen for in-person learning.

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: We could see an entire cohort of kids with a lower lifetime earnings because they're deprived of another semester of school.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll talk with Chicago Schools Superintendent Janice Jackson, former FDA Commissioner Doctor Scott Gottlieb, and look-- at-- going back to Wuhan, one year after the virus was discovered.

It's all just ahead on FACE THE NATION.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Good morning, and welcome to FACE THE NATION. It's quiet in the nation's capital today, but that may be because of the snow falling outside. Whatever the case, we know it won't last. Washington is preparing for another impeachment trial. This time former President Trump has been charged with incitement of insurrection, based on his role in the January 6th attack on the Capitol. The former President has remained out of sight in Florida since leaving office, but last night we learned that he has parted ways with his top attorneys hired to represent him in next week's trial in the Senate. We've got a lot to get to today. And we begin with CBS News national correspondent Manny Bojorquez in Miami.

(Begin VT)

MANUEL BOJORQUEZ (CBS News National Correspondent/@BojorquezCBS): Starting Tuesday, not wearing a mask on most forms of public transportation will be considered a violation of federal law, under a sweeping public health order issued by the CDC. Efforts to stop the spread have taken on new urgency as three mutant strains have now appeared in at least thirty-one states. Even more worrying, the cases are being found in people with no travel history, a clear sign of community spread.

ROCHELLE WALENSKY, MD, MPH (CDC Director): We should be treating every case as if it's a variant during this pandemic right now.

MANUEL BOJORQUEZ: There are also questions about how the vaccines will stand up to new strains. Johnson & Johnson, which is set to ask for emergency authorization of its one-dose vaccine this week, noted that its efficacy dropped from seventy-two percent in the U.S. to fifty-seven percent in South Africa, where the mutant strain is driving new cases.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, M.D. (Chief Medical Adviser to President Biden): This is a wakeup call to all of us. We will continue to see the evolution of mutants.

MANUEL BOJORQUEZ: Vaccinating Americans remains a logistical problem. In Alaska, medical workers try to find ways to remote villages.

WOMAN: We have been going by plane, and a couple of the places you go by snow machine, the little sled behind it to get you there.

MANUEL BOJORQUEZ: Across the nation of the nearly fifty million doses distributed to states, just sixty percent have been administered. In an effort to speed up the process, FEMA is now asking the Defense Department to ready as many as ten thousand troops to assist in vaccine clinics. Yet for those who have received the shot, racial disparities persist, with white residents being vaccinated at higher rates than black residents, often double the rate or higher in one survey. At this clinic in South Los Angeles, a surprise shipment of six hundred doses before closing became a lifeline for those who have struggled to secure appointments.

MAN #1: Grandmas and grandpas, non-English speakers, how are you supposed to use that complicated website?

MANUEL BOJORQUEZ: Another challenge facing states, getting students back in the classroom. A CDC report found schools are low risk for widespread transmission, provided mask and distancing guidelines are followed. But there is a clash between the teachers' union and the City of Chicago over a planned return to in-person learning tomorrow. In Denver, it's already started.

MAN #2: It's been tense at times to think about, like, you know, the possibility of getting infected, the possibility of bringing home an infection.

(End VT)

MANUEL BOJORQUEZ: There are some indications the virus' wildfire pace has slowed just slightly. The number of new cases and hospitalizations nationwide has eased, but the daily death toll surpassed four thousand twice in the past week. Today, Florida ends its deadliest month of the pandemic. Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Manny, thanks.

The variant of the virus first detected in the U.K. is now in fifty countries. Senior foreign correspondent Liz Palmer reports from London.

ELIZABETH PALMER (CBS News Senior Foreign Correspondent/@CBSLizpalmer): Good morning. The U.K. is now more than halfway toward its goal of vaccinating fifteen million people over seventy and medical staff by mid-February. And that's in sharp contrast to the situation in Europe.

(Begin VT)

ELIZABETH PALMER: Some German vaccination centers are completely empty because they've run out of vaccine. And there is the same problem in parts of Spain and France. Manufacturing delays and sluggish bureaucracy mean Europe has vaccinated just three percent of its population, compared to eight percent in the U.S. and thirteen in the U.K. But those are numbers African countries can only dream of. Most are still waiting to get a single dose--

WOMAN: Okay.

ELIZABETH PALMER: --as South Africa battles a dangerous new virus variant that sent deaths rocketing up. The fact is ninety-five percent of the vaccines on Earth have so far gone to the ten richest countries. For life to return to normal, that's going to have to change, warns the WHO.

TEDROS GHEBREYESUS (Director-General of the World Health Organization): We will not end the pandemic anywhere until we end it everywhere.

ELIZABETH PALMER: And it's far from ended in Europe, in spite of lockdowns and curfews. This is carnival week in Venice, though you would never know it; no one came. Spain is once again struggling with a surge in infections, and Portugal currently has the worst outbreak in the world.

(Man speaking foreign language)

ELIZABETH PALMER: Meanwhile, a security and media circus surrounds the WHO team of experts in Wuhan wherever they go, looking for the source of the virus. Compare that to the peace movie buff Lisa Enroth is looking forward to. A Swedish COVID nurse, she won a week in a cozy lighthouse to watch all sixty entries in Göteborg Film Festival. Now, that's self-isolation.

(End VT)

ELIZABETH PALMER: It's exactly a year ago this week that the very first coronavirus case was confirmed here in Britain. And there is a real hope now that we may be at what you might call the beginning of the beginning of the end. Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Liz, thank you.

We want to go now to New Orleans and former Congressman Cedric Richmond, who is now senior adviser to the President. Good morning to you.

CEDRIC RICHMOND (Senior Adviser to the President/@Richmond46): Good morning.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to start on COVID. This new strain that was first detected in the U.K., B117, led that country to shut down its schools. This week Doctor Fauci said opening U.S. schools may not happen due to mitigating circumstances. Is President Biden still vowing to open American schools by April?

CEDRIC RICHMOND: Well, yes. And the key to it is making sure that we pass the American rescue plan so that we provide the school systems and local municipalities the ability to open schools safely. And we think that if we invest in the resources to make it safe, schools should reopen.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But that likely wouldn't even happen until March at the earliest. Tell me about the plans right now, what you can do now. Should the federal government make it a priority to vaccinate teachers or instruct governors to push them towards the head of the line as essential workers?

CEDRIC RICHMOND: Look, I think you see us doing everything humanly possible to make sure we ramp up vaccinations. We're delivering another million six to the states every week. So we bumped up to order. We just purchased another two hundred million vaccinations so that we can vaccinate the whole three hundred million adults that we need to do. And so we're going to keep pushing. We're going to keep sending vaccines to the states and asking the states to hurry up and make sure that they get them all out. But our plan and why we need to pass the American Rescue Plan is to make sure that we give the school systems the ability to buy the masks, the ventilation systems, all of those things that's needed to open up.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But, as you know, I mean that fight is happening right now in cities like Chicago. We'll be talking to their superintendent later on in the program. And Michael Bloomberg, former presidential rival to-- to President Biden, argued in an op-ed this week that the President could be doing more. He could use his bully pul-- pulpit, excuse me, to give political cover to fellow Democrats. He could tell the unions, yes, I understand how we need to prioritize teachers here and actually take measures to do it. Why isn't the President doing more to help out some of these fellow Democrats?

CEDRIC RICHMOND: I think the President is doing a lot. He just introduced a 1.9-trillion-dollar plan to make sure that it is a whole community approach to fighting--

MARGARET BRENNAN: But they need the help right now. They're trying to open schools Monday.

CEDRIC RICHMOND: --of vaccinations. Well, that's an issue in Chicago that both sides are dealing with. I know they're both at the table. Teachers are concerned about their health and making sure that they could teach in a safe environment. And if you look at the CDC study, the CDC study that just came out said with the proper investments, with the proper spacing and class sizes, schools could reopen safely. But another key aspect of that CDC study is that they didn't test all the students and teachers. They just tested people who were symptomatic. And the class sizes in that population was in between ten and twenty students in a class. So, look, we are very serious about making sure that we pass a plan that gives us a comprehensive approach to COVID, which means small business with help, help to our citizens. And so, look, we want kids back in school. No doubt about it. But we want it to be safe for the students, the teachers and the families of both students and teachers.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, I think everyone wants that safety. I want to ask you about the aid package you're referencing there. This morning, as you know, a group of about ten Republican senators sent a letter to the President and they say they just want a meeting. They have a proposal that they say mirrors many of the same things the President wants, including money for vaccine and health supplies, targeted stimulus checks, slightly different from what the President's proposing, enhanced unemployment. Is the President open to these ideas? And will he meet with them?

CEDRIC RICHMOND: Look, the bi-- the President said in his inauguration speech that he wanted to work with both sides in order to help the American people. And what we know about President Biden is it's never about him. It's always about the people. So, yes, he is very willing to meet with anyone to advance the agenda. But, look, this is about seriousness of purpose. This is about meeting the moment. And this crisis is enormous, and our response to it meets that challenge. And so when you start talking about fourteen hundred dollars to individuals, another hundred and sixty million dollars so we can safely open schools, a couple of hundred million dollars to make sure that we help small businesses that are struggling, that's what the American people want to see. Seventy percent of the American people support President Biden's plan and another seventy-one percent of the American people want to see Republicans work with the President to meet the enormous challenges that we have.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm. Is the President willing to compromise then and, perhaps, strip out something like this fifteen-dollar minimum wage demand that many Republicans object to? Could he make that a separate vote?

CEDRIC RICHMOND: Look, we're not going to negotiate on TV, but what I will say about the minimum wage is the minimum wage has been expanded or increased during times of crisis before. It's been increased under Republican Presidents and Democratic Presidents. And it's a great way to lift people out of poverty. And if you think of all the frontline workers that are out there risking their lives every day, who probably have not been vaccinated, yet. So, you're talking about grocery store clerks and everyone else.


CEDRIC RICHMOND: They shouldn't have to work two jobs just to make a living wage and live above the poverty line.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But you could make that a separate vote.

CEDRIC RICHMOND: Look, the other people want to argue process. We want to argue purpose in moving this country forward. And President Biden is very clear and he said it in his inaugural, we face deep challenges and we're going to meet the moment and we're not going to leave anybody behind. That's the whole purpose of building back better. We're not going to leave --


CEDRIC RICHMOND: --people behind. And especially the people who are on the frontlines risking their lives to keep this economy afloat and make sure people have the goods and services that they need.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you about your time in Congress. You, yourself were hunkered down on January 6th inside the Capitol when you were a sitting congressman during that siege. Speaker Pelosi said this week that the enemy is within the House of Representatives. Do you believe that some of your former colleagues, sitting lawmakers, pose a security risk?

CEDRIC RICHMOND: Look, I-- I can tell you one thing, and this is my time as a congressperson, I believe that we're in a different state than we've ever been before, members who do not want to face reality, members that are encouraging conspiracy theories and things like that. But the real-- the enemy that's within is the dysfunction of the Republican Party, unwilling to face facts, unwilling to put the people of America first. And, look, I have all the faith in the leadership ability of Nancy Pelosi. She's a great speaker. But the challenge is bringing people together right now. And that means Republicans ditching the division that has defined them for the last couple of years under the former President and coming to the table. All we're asking is those people that are out there busting their backs to keep food on their table and a roof over their head and clothes on their kids' back, come join us in helping them. And let's leave the conspiracy theories. Let's stop arguing about election fraud that we know never existed. And so that's the enemy within is the inability of people to acknowledge facts and come together to help the American people.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. Thank you very much, Congressman Richmond, for your time.

And FACE THE NATION will be back in one minute, to talk with the governor of one of the states that has a strong record when it comes to vaccinating and in-person learning.


MARGARET BRENNAN: We want to go now to Connecticut. Governor Ned Lamont joins us from Stamford good morning to you.

GOVERNOR NED LAMONT (D-Connecticut/@GovNedLamont): Good morning, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Governor, we've talked about your state being a-- an outperformer in terms of actually getting vaccine supply out to constituents, and I wonder what your advice to the Biden administration would be. Should they continue prioritizing states based on population or reward good behavior by giving more vaccine to states that can actually put it in arms?

GOVERNOR NED LAMONT: Well, I can tell you they gave us-- the previous administration gave us fifty thousand additional doses because we are doing a good job of getting people vaccinated on a timely basis. But I think what's most important right now for the Biden administration is give us some transparency, let us know what we can expect next week, what we can expect next month so we know how much to expand our infrastructure. But we're ready to get people vaccinated. You just get us the vaccines.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, we know the White House said this week that they will boost supply about sixteen percent, give you three weeks' notice of what you're about to get instead of just the one week that you were getting under the prior administration. But then I saw that two health systems in your state have been canceling appointments for shots in arms for the coming week. So I'm wondering is there still a problem with federal supply?

GOVERNOR NED LAMONT: I don't think so. They've done a relatively good job of getting us the vaccines when we need it. Our hospital systems and federally qualified health centers, they do things by appointment. That clears up a lot of the confusion you see in some other states. But I do know that one or two of these systems maybe overpromised and, you know, had more people than they had vaccines. We're watching that very carefully. Do it by appointment. Clear up the confusion. Get people vaccinated.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So you have prioritized, as the federal government has suggested, based on age. And-- and there is a correlation, of course, between mortality and age when it comes to COVID. But one of your local papers, The Connecticut Mirror, had analysis pointing out that the sixty-five and older group in Connecticut is about eighty-four-percent white. Given how hard hit people of color are, should race be a factor?

GOVERNOR NED LAMONT: What they also pointed out, Margaret, is that people of color, black and brown, sixty, sixty-five, seventy-five, are much more likely to get infected, much more likely to suffer complications than a white person ten years their elder. So, we are making a big effort to make sure we don't just get the worried well at our big drive-through vaccination centers, but also get our mobile vans, go to the churches, go to those housing complexes where we can get people vaccinated who have to get vaccinated.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But you still will stick with age as the determining factor at this point?

GOVERNOR NED LAMONT: At this point, it's seventy-five and above, just because, as you point out, you know, eighty percent of the fatalities are related to that narrow group. Then we'll probably go down to sixty-five and above. Most of those folks have comorbidities. And then we'll look at essential workers in a broader group from there. But we can expand quickly if we get more vaccines.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, let me ask you about those essential workers. You have about fifty percent of your schools already in person, face-to-face instruction. Should teachers be pushed to the front of the line as essential workers? I asked the-- Cedric Richmond from the White House that he didn't want to stipulate that they should be prioritized. Will you prioritize teachers in your state?

GOVERNOR NED LAMONT: Well, first of all, we have about ninety-five percent of our kids have the opportunity to go to school, to go to the classroom either full time or hybrid. Almost all of them are full time. Our teachers have been extraordinary heroes showing up, being at school, giving these kids an opportunity. I can't afford a lost year. So, yes, teachers are going to be in an early group when it comes to people getting vaccinated. And right now, they are a priority group in terms of testing. We're doing testing at the schools or nearby --


GOVERNOR NED LAMONT: --to make sure every teacher has the confidence that they can continue to teach safely.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But, for example, in Chicago, the mayor has said there that putting teachers ahead of other essential workers wouldn't necessarily be fair. Will you put teachers ahead of those other essential workers in 1b?

GOVERNOR NED LAMONT: Well, it's a little complicated. I've got police who are going out there on the front lines. We've got manufacturing folks and defense industries. I've got daycare workers. So, I've got to be careful about how you prioritize. But I got to tell you teachers are right near the top of that list because of what we're doing to keep our schools open and our kids in the game.

MARGARET BRENNAN: In Connecticut you have detected some of this new mutant virus, the B117 that originated or was-- excuse me, detected first in the U.K. The prime minister, as you know, of the United Kingdom, shut down schools there. At what point will you reverse course or have to reverse course and shut down your schools if this particular strain becomes more of a problem?

GOVERNOR NED LAMONT: Somebody I talked to a lot about this is one of your next guests, Scott Gottlieb, who's been advising us. And, fortunately, in Connecticut, compared to, say, a couple of the other states, our hit rate in terms of those particularly infectious variants is very, very low. So, I'm quite confident that if we keep the vaccinations going, we're going to be able to stay ahead of that curve. But we are watching it carefully. And if something changes so will we.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you have a benchmark infection rate where you'd shut down?

GOVERNOR NED LAMONT: I don't do it that way. I mean, right now we're less than five percent. We're one of the lowest in the country right now, been that way for some time. And-- and, frankly, being in a classroom with a mask is probably a lot safer than being out with your buddies because you can't go to school.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm. So, are you confident, bottom line, that you will have a hundred percent of schools open by the spring?

GOVERNOR NED LAMONT: Like I said, ninety-five percent of our kids right now are already have the option to go to school either full time or a hybrid --


GOVERNOR NED LAMONT: --and that we're going to keep that going. The only variant could be is if this U.K. variant takes off like wildfire.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay. Governor Lamont, thank you for your time today.

We'll be right back with a lot more FACE THE NATION. Stay with us.


MARGARET BRENNAN: If you enjoy FACE THE NATION, we think you'll love our new podcast, a new episode of Facing Forward drops every Friday. And in our latest edition, I spoke with the CEO of Eli Lilly. You can listen and subscribe on Apple podcast or your favorite podcast platform.


MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll be right back with the mayor of Miami, and former FDA Commissioner Doctor Scott Gottlieb.

And later on, we'll talk to Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson about whether they'll be able to reopen tomorrow.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. We go now to Miami, still a hotspot for COVID-19. Mayor Francis Suarez is there. Good morning to you, Mister Mayor.

MAYOR FRANCIS SUAREZ (D-Miami/@FrancisSuarez): Good morning, Margaret. It's a pleasure to be with you this morning.

MARGARET BRENNAN: According to the CDC, Florida is the state with the most cases of B117. That's that strain first detected in the U.K. It's highly contagious. And I know there's a concentration in South Florida. What mitigation measures are you putting in place in your city to contain it?

MAYOR FRANCIS SUAREZ: Well, you know, we've been restricted from being able to put in mitigation measures. I had implemented a mask in public order back when we were allowed to do that during the summer, and that drove down cases by ninety percent. Now, we're not allowed to implement a mask in public order. It's something that I had been speaking to the coronavirus task force about. The good news is that as-- as opposed to the summer where we had twenty-three hundred COVID patients countywide, which was a tremendous strain on our hospital system, now we have less than a thousand patients. So, you know, even though, we are, you know, obviously, battling with-- with a new strain, that is not thankfully at this point materializing into more hospitalizations.

MARGARET BRENNAN: When you say not allowed, I assume you're referring to Governor DeSantis, a fellow Republican who has put in place restrictions to bar local governments from enforcing mask mandates. So you're-- are you telling him, as mayor, I need power over my own city?

MAYOR FRANCIS SUAREZ: Sure, yeah. I've-- I've tried to reach him on multiple occasion to tell him to give us the opportunity, not just here at the city, but in the county, to be able to institute things that we think are common sense, that we think are backed up by science and we can demonstrate are backed up by science. I have a chart that shows demonstrably that masks in public work. Thankfully, a lot of our residents are doing it regardless. I think they're, obviously, concerned about their own health. And, certainly, we've been hammering home the point in PSAs, you know, throughout, you know, the last few months. And I think that's one of the main reasons why our hospitalizations remain low. So I'm very thankful that our residents are listening, despite the fact that it's something that we can't mandate.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And the governor has not responded, I assume, to your requests?

MAYOR SUAREZ: That's correct. That's right.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I looked at the White House report for your state this week and it highlights the metro area around Miami as being in the red zone. But your restaurants are allowed to have a hundred percent capacity, along with social distancing, of course. But your bars, your nightclubs, your gyms are all open. Should you be rethinking that?

MAYOR FRANCIS SUAREZ: Well, like I said, you know, unfortunately, that's not in our purview. That's something that the governor has decided. And certainly we're-- we're blessed that our residents, I think, are also heeding the warnings and are using masks, despite the fact that there are significantly greater concentrations of people at those establishments. Because of that, our hospitalizations have plummeted from the summer. And like I said, we're in-- in a place where we have significantly less than we had before. Obviously, for our aging population, we're focusing on vaccinating that population right now as we speak. And that's been our priority to make sure that we can protect those that are the most vulnerable, those that are at the most risk of losing their life if they contract the virus.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you know if you have any of the cases of P1, the strain out of Brazil, or B1351 out of South Africa?

MAYOR FRANCIS SUAREZ: I don't yet. I haven't gotten any indication from the-- the State Health Department that we have any of those strains. It's very possible that we do. What we do know and what we've been told is that the vaccines that we're administering for both Moderna and Pfizer are effective against the U.K. strain, which, of course, we all know is significantly more contagious than-- than, you know, the sort of previous version of-- of COVID-19. So, we're continuing to vaccinate both in the city of Miami at Marlins Park at about seven thousand a week.


MAYOR FRANCIS SUAREZ: We'd love to have more vaccine. We think if we get significantly more, we can more quickly vaccinate the vulnerable population as well as the general population.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Now, vaccine tourism is also drawing people to Miami. I know you've tried to stop some of this and your governor has said to prioritize residents, but there was a Mexican TV star posting on social media last week that he flew into Miami, got a shot, and then flew back to Mexico. Rules are still being broken here. How are you going to discourage that from happening?

MAYOR FRANCIS SUAREZ: Yeah, it's awful. And I think, you know, we don't control all the vaccine that's being administered. We control about seven thousand of the twenty-two thousand that are being administered countywide. A lot of them are being administered by the hospital system and by other organizations that we don't control. We are very faithful about making sure that we're asking for identification, that people have a Florida ID because we think it's disrespectful. I mean, we have people in this community that are living here that are-- are, you know, dying, frankly, and, you know, they want and they deserve to have priority. If they're vulnerable, we need to get them vaccinated as quickly as possible to make sure that they can live peaceful and enjoyable lives without worry.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Are you investigating some of this rule breaking? You're saying you're confident that people are being asked for ID, but, obviously, people are exploiting that.

MAYOR FRANCIS SUAREZ: Well, like I said, we're only doing about a third of all of the vaccinations, so it's very possible that those cases are happening in the other two-thirds. But-- but definitely--


MAYOR FRANCIS SUAREZ: --our-- our fire department, which is the one that administers it, is on heightened alert for it and-- and certainly will investigate any cases that we believe arise from any of the vaccinations that we've given.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The Miami Herald, as you know, local paper there, says that communities with higher average incomes have been getting more doses than impoverished neighborhoods. Why is that happening?

MAYOR FRANCIS SUAREZ: Again, you know, we-- we only control the ones that we give. We started doing it about a week ago at Marlins Park, and I can assure you that the ones that we're doing are-- are for the general public they're-- it's a state registration system, but it's possible that people are getting preferential treatment at hospitals. And that's something that, frankly, needs to stop immediately. We've been focusing on our minority communities, our underserved communities, to make sure that there's an equitable distribution of the vaccine to those that are vulnerable and that need it most.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mister Mayor, thank you for your time this morning.


MARGARET BRENNAN: We want to go now to former FDA Commissioner Doctor Scott Gottlieb. He sits on the board of Pfizer as well as Illumina. And you all heard Governor Lamont mention him and the help he gives in his home state of Connecticut. Doctor joins us this morning from Westport, Connecticut. Good morning.

SCOTT GOTTLIEB, M.D. (Former FDA Commissioner/@ScottGottliebMD): Good morning.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I thought it was remarkable there to hear a Republican mayor criticize a Republican governor in saying we-- we need to actually be able to control what's happening in our own city and that not being allowed to happen. Are cities like Miami, places where they are seeing B117, this strain of the U.K. circulate. Are they really at risk of being overrun?

SCOTT GOTTLIEB: I think Miami is at the highest risk right now, Miami and southern California. If you look at where B117 is right now in the country, about half the cases that we're turning over in Southern California and in Florida and the cities are the hot spots, San Diego, Miami. So I think that the possibility is that we're not going to see a national epidemic with B117, at least in the spring and the summertime. It's a risk to the fall. But what we're likely to see is regionalized epidemics with this new variant. And the two places in the country right now that are the biggest hotspots are southern Cali-- California and southern Florida, Miami. So those cities need to be very mindful of the spread of these variants. Now we know it works. Prior immunity and the vaccines do appear to be as effective against this new variant. So as we immunize more of the population and if people continue to wear masks and be vigilant in these parts of the country, we can keep this at bay. It's not too late, but it's a real risk to those regions of the country right now.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Can you clarify, because Doctor Fauci was on this program last Sunday and said that that U.K. strain does have a certain degree of increase in virulence, meaning it can cause more damage, including death. Is it more deadly?

SCOTT GOTTLIEB: There's some-- there's some evidence right now that does suggest that it is more pathogenic, that it does cause more severe illness. And we do know that it's about fifty percent more transmissible. But what we also know from the data, at least the data we have so far, both experimental evidence as well as the data that's come out of some of these vaccine trials like the Johnson & Johnson vaccine trial and the one with Novavax is that immunization and prior infection appears to be protective against the B117 variant, as protective. That's not the case with the Brazilian and the South African variant P1 and B1351, where prior infection, immunity you get from being infected as well as the immunity you get from vaccination, does not appear to be as protective against those variants. So the good news with B117, if there is good news is that as we vaccinate more of the population, it should be a backstop against the continued spread of that variant.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So the Biden administration projected this week that another ninety thousand people will die in the U.S. over the next four weeks, but the curve seemed to be coming down on hospitalizations and infections. Are we getting ahead of ourselves by saying we're turning a corner here? Are you warning us that these new variants are going to dramatically change this trajectory?

SCOTT GOTTLIEB: I think we have the potential to turn a corner. Things are clearly improving around the country. We can't take our foot off the brake too quickly in terms of the things that people are doing, like wearing masks and being more vigilant. That's really probably what's bringing down infection rates across the country right now. The new variants create a lot of risk. I think that the risk is that what you're going to see over the summertime is whereas the summer should have been very quiet, coronavirus should have really dissipated in part because of the seasonal backstop, in part because we've infected a third of the population and in part because we're immunizing more people. So coronavirus levels should have really come down this summer. You might see higher prevalence than what you would have expected. But what's going to likely happen is that the prevalence is going to be high in certain regional hotspots. So we'll have hotspots of infection and maybe epidemics in parts of Florida, parts of Southern California, because of B117. They'll never really get out of it, but the rest of the country will see prevalence come down. Now, the risk is to the fall when, you know, these new variants are going to want to surge, B117, B1351, P1. Now, with respect to the South African and the Brazilian variants, they don't appear right now to be more fit, meaning that they're more transmissible. So, they may not spread as readily. And we have time to get control of those variants and develop new boosters that could protect against them, vaccine boosters.

MARGARET BRENNAN: That's what I want to ask you about because we heard from Johnson & Johnson and Novavax that potentially their vaccines may be less effective against that strain out of South Africa. How long will it take us to get the booster shots that you say may be necessary?

SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Well, I think we could definitely have it in time for the fall. We need to come up with a regulatory framework that allows the boosters to be licensed on the ability to demonstrate that they can produce antibody levels. And FDA is working on that. They've talked about developing guidance that would allow companies to develop boosters to the existing vaccines that could be licensed just on the basis of proving that in three hundred or four hundred patients, they can induce antibody levels at a sufficient level that are protective against these new variants. And so I think that framework is going to be mapped out and the companies have said they're already working on those new boosters. We could have them in time for the fall across all these vaccines. There's no reason we can't do that. And the platforms that the companies use to develop these vaccines, these synthetic platforms, lend themselves to those quick adaptations.

MARGARET BRENNAN: For those of us who aren't doctors, how should we understand the difference between Pfizer, Moderna and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine that seems to be headed for FDA approval?

SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Yeah. You know, I don't think you can make apples to apples comparisons across these clinical trials. People focused on the fact that the J&J vaccine was seventy-two percent effective in the United States at protecting against moderate to severe disease and the mRNA platforms, Moderna and Pfizer were ninety-five percent protective. And so, you know, there was a presumption that, well, maybe the J&J vaccine isn't as protective. I think that we need to look at what the vaccine is doing. It does appear that the J&J vaccine is inducing what we call a T cell response, meaning that it's protecting against disease. It might not be protecting as well against infection, but it does seem to be protecting very well against moderate to severe COVID. And, in fact, in the clinical trial, no patients who received the vaccine were hospitalized or died from-- from COVID. And so that's a really good outcome from the clinical trial. We also need to keep in mind that the J&J vaccine is a one dose vaccine. They have a study underway looking at two doses. So, it may well be the case that if you get two doses of that J&J vaccine, which may, eventually, be how we end up using it, it'll be just as protective as the other vaccines. But it's a very good development. I think it will get authorized by the FDA after a careful review, and it's going to provide a lot of additional supply on the market and some differentiation as well from the other vaccines.

MARGARET BRENNAN: How much of a difference will it make that the Biden administration is giving three weeks' notice versus one week's notice to states about the doses they're going to receive?

SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Yeah, a lot, and the fact that they're also increasing the amount of supply that they'll flow into the states right now. You know the states need to set up vaccination sites and have a predictable flow coming through those sites. They need to book appointments two, three weeks out. And so giving the states visibility on what the supply is going to be allows them to set up systems where people can go online and book an appointment two or three weeks out. A lot of people are willing to wait to get vaccinated. They just want to know when they're going to get vaccinated. So, I think giving more certainty to more people about when their time is going to come, when they can get an appointment, is going to be very important.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. Doctor Gottlieb, thank you for your analysis.

We'll be right back.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Chicago public schools are set to open tomorrow for the first time since March, but school officials and the teachers' union have been at odds over terms of the teachers returning to the classroom. Chicago Public Schools CEO Doctor Janice Jackson joins us. Good morning to you.

JANICE JACKSON, EdD (Chicago Public Schools CEO/@janicejackson): Good morning.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The mayor has demanded that elementary and middle schools open tomorrow. Will the teachers union go on strike?

JANICE JACKSON: Well, right now, we're in the middle of negotiations that have really heated up over the past couple of weeks. Our goal is to reopen schools as planned tomorrow on February 1st for students in our K through eighth grades. It's also important to note we did bring back our early childhood students and some of our students with disability-- disabilities earlier this month and had real good success with reopening. So we are looking forward to restarting again.

MARGARET BRENNAN: What happens to teachers if they don't show up tomorrow?

JANICE JACKSON: Well, the goal right now is to-- to get a resolution. CTU has made it clear that they want a deal. We share those same sentiments, but we're still far apart on a couple of key issues, such as vaccination and how we account for accommodations for individuals who maybe are just, you know, petrified to come back into schools because of COVID. We believe that we have to reopen schools. We've been closed for almost a year now. And as a school system, we're starting to see some of the effects of schools being closed. Many of our students aren't logging on. We are seeing African American and Latinx students, in particular, being especially hard hit. And our goal is to really give every parent an option. Those families who want to remain remote will have that option through the remainder of the school year. But we have thousands of families who want an in-person option because they're essential workers themselves.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm. How many children do you expect to be in the classroom tomorrow?

JANICE JACKSON: Right now we're anticipating seventy-seven thousand students, which is roughly a third of the students here in CPS that are eligible for in-person instruction. That's twice the size of the second largest school district here in Illinois. And so reopening Chicago Public Schools is extremely important. We should also note that private and parochial schools in the city have been open since August, and we learned a lot from their implementation plans and look to guidance from public health officials, as well as the CDC to make sure we had a solid plan for reopening.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So on that CDC plan, I know this report this week got a lot of attention really urging schools to reopen and-- and saying that transmission can be stopped if masks are worn and there's social distancing. But the same report said there should still be restrictions in the community and it cited indoor dining. Chicago has already opened its bars and restaurants. How do you feel about that?

JANICE JACKSON: Yeah, I think we've learned a lot about reopening from the past spring. Definitely prioritizing the reopening of schools has to be at the top of the list and our mayor has done that. We have reopened bars and restaurants at limited capacity here in the city. But one thing that was really important in that report is that it showed that community spread does not necessarily impact spread within a particular school and that implementing mitiga-- mitigation strategies with fidelity actually is more successful, you know, lead to more success with reopening. And so we're focused on that. We have a solid plan in place that goes above and beyond a guidance that we've heard from city as well as CDC officials. And we believe that we can safely reopen. And we've been open for three weeks or we have been open for three weeks with a great degree of success. So, the time is now for students to return to the classroom.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So you mentioned that one of the issues you're still in disagreement with-- with the union is over vaccination. Chicago is one of the few cities in this country that gets its supply directly from the federal government. The federal guidelines prioritize based on age. That's why I was asking Cedric Richmond, the adviser to the President, about it. I wonder if it would be helpful to you if the Biden administration explicitly said to prioritize teachers in the front of the line as essential workers?

JANICE JACKSON: Yeah, so in Chicago and in Illinois, we are prioritizing teachers. They are included in 1b, which is currently underway. I think the issue is definitely around vaccine supply. The more vaccines we're able to get, we'll be able to vaccinate people sooner. We have started vaccinating individuals in our school system, which is important to note. We started with our health care workers and those individuals who work closely with students where they may be at more risk for exposure. But, again, in order to accelerate vaccination of our teachers, we, quite frankly, need more supply.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, you-- why couldn't you move them to the front of 1b ahead of other essential workers with the supply you have now?

JANICE JACKSON: Well, our city's health department is in charge of that, but what I've heard them say is that, look, the vaccine is a part of a public health tool kit in order to mitigate the spread of COVID. Rule number one is that you have to disseminate those vaccines in places where we're trying to stop the spread of COVID. Schools are not significant sources of spread. And so this is as much-- this-- not as much-- this is a public health solution. We have to start with that. Some of these other things are incredibly important, but some of them are political decisions. Our health department is trying to combat the effects and the spread of COVID. And we are prioritizing places where we see the spread raging on.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. Doctor Jackson, none of this is easy. Thank you for your time this morning.

We'll be back in a moment.


MARGARET BRENNAN: A year ago CBS News foreign correspondent Ramy Inocencio traveled to Wuhan, China, at the height of the COVID-19 outbreak. He and his team went back last week to cover the trip of WHO experts who have been trying to get into that country for a year now to investigate the origins of the virus. Today, that team of investigators was allowed into the seafood market in Wuhan where scientists believe the virus first spread. Here's Ramy's report.

(Begin VT)

RAMY INOCENCIO (CBS News Foreign Correspondent/@RamyInocencio): Wuhan's winter swimmers have returned to the Yangtze River. Dancers to their parks, friends to their favorite snack shops.

(Crowd performing)

RAMY INOCENCIO: Many are celebrating a new lease on life after the loss of nearly five thousand, and a lockdown for seventy-six days. We were here one year ago, the start of what would be a global tragedy, now World Health Organization investigators are here, too. Scientists believe bats brought COVID to humans. The WHO is looking for the how.

This is Wuhan's famous, some would say infamous, Institute of Virology. Some believe COVID leaked from here, but Chinese officials have pushed back hard. The institute says that it's open to any kind of visit.

But the international community is skeptical. The investigation has been long delayed. China has been accused of repeatedly blocking access. Beijing has pressed an anywhere but China origin story. The Biden administration says Chinese officials are spreading misinformation.

PETER DASZAK: Let history be the judge.

RAMY INOCENCIO: Peter Daszak is a U.S.-based investigator and part of the WHO team here. He says the work so far has been productive. Today, the team visited the market where some of the first infections were detected.

PETER DASZAK: We are seeing the data and looking at the evidence together with our counterparts in China.

RAMY INOCENCIO: We spoke with Wuhan natives who blame the government. Zhang Hai lost his father and calls it murder.

(Yang Min Speaking Foreign Language/January 28, 2021)

RAMY INOCENCIO: Yang Min's daughter died, she says, because whistleblowers were muzzled. In state propaganda, only the positive is told. From a new patriotic documentary for the nation to a massive COVID exhibition in Wuhan. It praises China's president, Xi Jinping, for victory over the virus. And it is a reality one year later, there has been restoration to society after catastrophe. Resumption of movements after isolation, and recovery from tragedy for the city of eleven million on the banks of the Yangtze, still looking for answers about COVID, now living almost as if it never happened.

Ramy Inocencio, CBS News, Wuhan.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll be right back.


MARGARET BRENNAN: That's it for us today. Thank you for watching. We'll see you next Sunday morning just before CBS Sports Super Bowl LV coverage. We'll be previewing the game and the challenges the NFL has faced in our broadcast next week. For FACE THE NATION, I'm Margaret Brennan.

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