Full transcript of "Face the Nation" on November 29, 2020

11/29: Birx, Duggan, Margo, Gottlieb, Beasley
11/29: Birx, Duggan, Margo, Gottlieb, Beasley... 46:08

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

  • Dr. Deborah Birx, White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator
  • Mayor Dee Margo, (R-El Paso) 
  • Mayor Mike Duggan, (D-Detroit)
  • David Beasley, Executive Director for the UN World Food Programme
  • Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, Feeding America 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, preparations to distribute the yet-to-be approved coronavirus vaccine pick up speed as America braces for the fallout from the Thanksgiving holiday. Wave three of the pandemic continues its rise, and America continues to be blanketed with new cases of COVID-19. This month has seen a million new reported infections a week. Government agencies are working with state officials to determine who will get the vaccine first, as warnings continue that the pandemic will likely get a lot worse before it gets better.
 
PRESIDENT-ELECT JOE BIDEN: There's real hope, tangible hope, so hang on. Don't let yourself surrender to the fatigue. I know we can, and we will beat this virus. America is not going to lose this war.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: But with more than six million Americans traveling by air this Thanksgiving holiday week so far, and tens of millions more by road, an after-holiday surge will put already overwhelmed hospitals in even more dire straits and likely spike the death rate even higher. We'll hear from a top member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force Doctor Deborah Birx. And we'll talk with two mayors from cities struggling with the virus, Mayor Dee Margo of El Paso, and Mayor Mike Duggan of Detroit. Former FDA Commissioner Doctor Scott Gottlieb will be with us. And we'll take a look at the hunger crisis facing America and the world with Claire Babineaux-Fontenot of Feeding America and David Beasley, head of the United Nations World Food Programme.
 
It's all just ahead on FACE THE NATION.
 
Good morning, and welcome to FACE THE NATION. The phrase that's been running through our minds here is the darkest hour is just before the dawn. The English theologian and historian Thomas Fuller is credited with coming up with it in 1650, but it feels pretty appropriate as we move into winter and 2021. In the month of November, which isn't even over, yet, we've recorded four million new cases, that's more than double the number of October infections. We begin this morning with CBS News national correspondent Mark Strassmann in Atlanta.
 
(Begin VT)
 
MARK STRASSMANN (CBS News National Correspondent): COVID's community spread had a busy Thanksgiving. The virus had a chance to catch up with lots of family in jammed airports and in stores with Black Friday deep discounts, red tags, red flags. At current rates, roughly one hundred fourteen more Americans test positive every minute. Sixty-five more Americans die from COVID every hour. And America could start to see three thousand COVID deaths a day, more than died on September 11th. COVID has also blitzed the NFL from coast to coast. Tougher new restrictions in California's Santa Clara County, leave the 49ers without a place to play or practice for the next three weeks. The Denver Broncos need to find a quarterback today. All four on their roster are now in quarantine. And eighteen Baltimore Ravens tested positive this week. In the overwhelmed Midwest, the epidemic showing signs of peaking, not in South Dakota, where at least thirty percent of residents have been infected. Forty-three percent of people tested here this week tested positive. But for many mask mandates remain even less popular than the virus.
 
MAN: This is cowboy country, man. And you try and tell someone to do something, and they want to do the opposite.
 
MARK STRASSMANN: Outrage in West Virginia, masks now a must in all indoor public spaces.
 
GOVERNOR JIM JUSTICE (R-West Virginia): I had many, many people that were calling, and they were saying to me over and over and over, we want to be like South Dakota. We want to be South Dakota. Well, I don't want to be South Dakota.
 
MICHAEL B. HANCOCK: I'm pleading--
 
MARK STRASSMANN: Hypocrisy grabbed the Thanksgiving spotlight in Denver. Mayor Michael Hancock urged residents to stay home, an hour later, he was spotted boarding a flight with his family to Mississippi. But the way millions more Americans gave thanks this year, they should get them in return. They celebrated the holiday and each other by staying apart.
 
(End VT)
 
MARK STRASSMANN: As one Chicago health official put it: better to have a Zoom Thanksgiving than an ICU Christmas. Thanksgiving travel is way down this year. But at airports like Atlanta's the COVID risk will grab the spotlight again today. Last year the Sunday after Thanksgiving was the busiest day in TSA history. Margaret.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mark, thank you.
 
According to the White House Coronavirus Task Force, there are now forty-eight states, plus the District of Columbia, now in the red zone. Just Maine and Hawaii are not. We want to go now to the coordinator of that task force, Doctor Deborah Birx. She joins us from Selbyville, Delaware. Good morning to you, Doctor Birx. It's great to have you back.
 
DEBORAH BIRX, M.D. (White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator): Good morning, Margaret, thank you for having me.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: The numbers are pretty staggering. I know we crossed at least twice this week a daily death count over two thousand. It's the first time we've seen that during this pandemic. Doctor Fauci said this morning we're seeing a surge on top of a surge. What do Americans need to be prepared for?
 
DEBORAH BIRX: I think what worries Doctor Fauci and I the most is going-- and I loved your opening where you talked about several waves and this being the third wave. If you look at the second wave going into the Memorial Day weekend we had less than twenty-five thousand cases a day. We had only thirty thousand inpatients in the hospital and we had way less mortality, way under a thousand. We're entering this post-Thanksgiving surge with three, four, and ten times as much disease across the country. And so that's what worries us the most. We saw what happened post Memorial Day. Now we are deeply worried about what could happen post-Thanksgiving because the number of cases, twenty-five thousand versus a hundred and eighty thousand a day, that's where-- that's why we are deeply concerned. And as you described, it looked like things were starting to improve in our Northern Plains states. And now with Thanksgiving, we are worried that all of that will be reversed.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: What capacity is there to backstop overwhelmed hospitals?
 
DEBORAH BIRX: Well, so that is, obviously, all of our concerns and that's why we're really asking states and mayors to really test for impact and consider vaccinating for impact. We know who's at highest risk, making sure that all of those individuals are tested. We know people may have made mistakes over the hospi-- over the Thanksgiving time period. So if you're young and you gathered, you need to be tested about five to ten days later. But you need to assume that you're infected and not go near your grandparents and aunts and others without a mask. We're really asking families to even mask indoors if they chose to gather during Thanksgiving and others went across the country or even into the next state. And if you're over sixty-five or you have comorbidities and you gathered at Thanksgiving, if you develop any symptoms, you need to be tested immediately because we know that our therapeutics work best, both our antivirals and our monoclonal antibodies, work best very early in disease.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
 
DEBORAH BIRX: So we're really asking governors and mayors to make testing more available so we can prevent people having to be hospitalized. But, obviously, we're deeply worried. We're over ninety thousand inpatients right now. If we have a surge two weeks on top of that, even when we are starting to see some improvement, I appreciate that you have mayor--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.
 
DEBORAH BIRX: --from Detroit on. They're really-- all these mayors are working to decrease their number of cases and getting to a plateau and now we could have a-- a fourth surge.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Are you asking-- I know you've been traveling the country. Are you asking governors to close the bars to keep schools open? Is that your advice?
 
DEBORAH BIRX: First, what we do know works is mask mandates, mask requirements. In states that did those or mayors or counties that did that, we can see a dir-- a really significant difference in not only cases, but hospitalizations and fatalities. And so starting with mask mandates and masking requirements absolutely key, followed by if you have high case numbers and you're seeing increased hospitalizations, the first thing you should do is close spaces where people cannot wear a mask.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
 
DEBORAH BIRX: And we know where that is. That's bars and indoor restaurants. Reduce capacity if needed. You may have to even close them. We have seen that that works. That's what Arizona did. And that's where Arizona got control. Arizona is in the position that they need to be really considering this again because their case numbers are up where they were in the summer.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: When will you begin briefing the Biden administration?
 
DEBORAH BIRX: I hope on Monday, because what's really critical is we've spent the last nine months really developing sophisticated databases that are bringing together information from across the count-- across the country, down to the county level. We can see who is being admitted. We can see who's getting sick. We can see where this virus is moving in communities. And I think the one thing that we will bring to the Biden administration in that discussion is to understand how they want to see the data because data isn't helpful if it's not actionable.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
 
DEBORAH BIRX: And each group needs to see it the way it makes them, moves them to action. And that's why we write the governor's report weekly to really ensure every governor understands what we're seeing and what we think needs to be done.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: There are still ten weeks or so of the Trump presidency left. When have you last briefed the President and why aren't we hearing from him?
 
DEBORAH BIRX: Well, I brief the vice president, obviously, daily. I write a daily report that goes up to him every single day. It incl-- it has a synopsis of what's happening across the country, state by state, county by county, hospital by hospital, who's being admitted, what the age group of the admissions are, and what our recommendations are at the highest levels of government. And that same document goes to senior leaderships in HHS every single day to really alert them to what I am seeing in the data each early morning.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: And-- and what is your message if you did have the chance to brief the President? I know The Washington Post said he hasn't attended a meeting in at least five months of the Task Force but what is your chief concern, your chief message to the public and to the President?
 
DEBORAH BIRX: To every American, I know we have some incredibly independent and fabulous Americans, I've met them on my trips, that have spent a lifetime protecting their land, protecting their livestock, and protecting their families. To every American this is the-- this is the moment to protect yourself and your family. And so if your governor or your mayor isn't doing the policies that we know are critical--masking, physical distancing, avoiding bars, avoiding crowded indoor areas, if those restrictions don't exist in your state, you need to take it upon yourself to be restrictive. You need to not go to these places. You need to protect your family now and really watch. If your family traveled, you have to assume that you are exposed--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
 
DEBORAH BIRX: --and you became infected and you really need to get tested in the next week and you need to avoid anyone in your family with comorbidities or-- or over sixty-five, because now is the moment to-- what happened would have happened. I mean, we know that people got together in Thanksgiving.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
 
DEBORAH BIRX: The-- the moment now is to-- is to protect those from having secondary and tertiary transmissions--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
 
DEBORAH BIRX: --within the family.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Doctor Birx, thank you and good luck.
 
Let's turn now to the Midwest. Michigan ranks third in the number of COVID-19 deaths last week. Most new cases of the virus are in and around the city of Detroit, where hospitals are nearing ninety percent capacity. Joining us now is Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. Good morning to you, Mister Mayor.
 
MAYOR MIKE DUGGAN (D-Detroit/@MayorMikeDuggan): Thanks for having me on, Margaret.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: What's driving the infections and what do you expect to see over the next few weeks?
 
MAYOR MIKE DUGGAN: Well, the numbers you're showing are the area. The City of Detroit is the illustration of what Doctor Birx just said. She's been to my office and we spent time at this. But Detroit actually has the lowest infection rate in the state of Michigan where half of that of the surrounding suburbs, and it's because behavior changed. In March and April, Michigan was hammered along with New York. And we had within a few weeks a thousand people hospitalized and fifty of our neighbors dying every day. Today, we've got about two hundred hospitalized and we're losing one or two people a day to COVID. It is still too high. But the commitment to the testing, the commitment to the masks has shown that you can dramatically drop the infection rate.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: When you say behavior changed, you have a mask mandate. What's changed?
 
MAYOR MIKE DUGGAN: So, well, in March and April, we didn't know, certainly the people of Detroit took to heart the data that showed if an African-American gets COVID, you've got a two to three times more likely chance to die than a Caucasian. And so in Detroit, assembly lines are in our DNA. We set up the biggest and most efficient drive through testing site in the Midwest--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
 
MAYOR MIKE DUGGAN: --at the fairgrounds. We were testing a thousand or twelve hundred people a day and all summer and into the fall if you drove around the city, Detroiters were wearing masks. It was not necessarily true in the surrounding communities, and the governor has made this point repeatedly. But literally in Detroit, we have an infection rate less than half that of the surrounding suburbs. If you--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.
 
MAYOR MIKE DUGGAN: --make the commitment to the masks, we don't have to shut the economy of this country down.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
 
MAYOR MIKE DUGGAN: But it means you have to do it. It isn't that hard.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: You were a hospital CEO before you became mayor. There are several health systems in the state of Michigan where reportedly they're telling hospital workers to come to work even if they've had close contact with a loved one who has COVID-19. How bad are the staffing shortages at your local hospitals?
 
MAYOR MIKE DUGGAN: Again, in the city of Detroit, we're in good shape, as I indicated in April --
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: You have everything you need?
 
MAYOR MIKE DUGGAN: --we had a thousand people hospitalized; today, we have about two hundred in-- in the city. Now, you go outside to the suburbs, it's a different situation. And so now we're very much focused on the vaccinations. And I was on a call with a number of mayors with President-elect Biden, who made the point there's a big difference between vaccines and vaccinations. And we're looking now at the reality that when we were testing twelve hundred people a day, that was a major undertaking.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
 
MAYOR MIKE DUGGAN: To get the vaccinations out we're going to have to vaccinate five thousand a day just in Detroit. And this country is not yet geared up. And-- and so to me, people saying vaccines are coming--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: -- Right
 
MAYOR MIKE DUGGAN: --vaccines are coming, we haven't begun as a country to address what it's going to take to actually--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well--
 
MAYOR MIKE DUGGAN: --inject people with the vaccine.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: No, it's a fair point. And it's, ultimately, going to be up to the state governors to execute on that. So what do you know about the state of Michigan and what's going to happen in your city?
 
MAYOR MIKE DUGGAN: Well, Governor Whitmer has been terrific from the beginning, but the direction we're getting from Washington is changing literally by the day. But we know in Detroit we're going to take our convention center, we're going to take the parking structures around our football and baseball stadiums, because when we were doing the huge testing in the summer, you had good weather.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
 
MAYOR MIKE DUGGAN: You can't do wholesale vaccinations in January, February, and March out in snowstorms. And so we're probably going to take all of the major parking structures; and as soon as the vaccines are available, January or February, we're going to gear up and we intend to vaccinate five thousand a day. We know that the pharmacies are going to be helpful. The doctors and hospitals will be helpful. But the magnitude of what we're talking about this country has never experienced. And, basically, right now we're day and night--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.
 
MAYOR MIKE DUGGAN: --getting ready for wholesale vaccinations.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: You talked about how disproportionately hard African-Americans, in particular, have been by this virus. In your city, in your opinion, who do you think should be prioritized? Should you prioritize people based on their demographics? Should you prioritize them based on their occupation?
 
MAYOR MIKE DUGGAN: Well, I think we're going-- certainly occupation is going to go first, and what the Feds are talking about now is hospital workers going first, then EMTs, police officers, firefighters and the like. And then I think people over the age of sixty-five. The death rate in people over sixty-five is so much higher than those who are younger. That's the way they're talking about it. I will be really glad when Joe Biden takes control of this and we get clear direction, but we will follow whatever protocols are there.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay.
 
MAYOR MIKE DUGGAN: You think about the city of Detroit with seven hundred thousand people.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.
 
MAYOR MIKE DUGGAN: If you were able to vaccinate five thousand a day, you're still talking three or four months.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
 
MAYOR MIKE DUGGAN: And that's the same challenge everybody in the country's got.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right. And we will be covering it. Thank you very much, Mister Mayor.
 
FACE THE NATION will be back in a minute. Stay with us.
 
(ANNOUNCEMENTS)
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: We go now to El Paso, Texas, where the pandemic is crushing that city of just short of seven hundred thousand people. The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 there is more than the number hospitalized in nineteen states and the District of Columbia. We're joined by its mayor, Dee Margo. Good morning to you, Mister Mayor. I mean the stories that I'm reading about your city, you're talking about hiring mobile morgues and having inmates carry bodies. The National Guard has now offered help as well. The convention center has been turned into a hospital. Why is your city getting hit so hard?
 
MAYOR DEE MARGO (R-El Paso/@mayor_margo): Margaret, we're not really sure. We-- we hit, oh, about almost six weeks ago, we started spiking significantly. I think people just-- the-- the consensus is people just had COVID fatigue and they let down, as Doctor Birx said, you got to wear the mask and you got to maintain the distancing and you got to avoid the crowds. We did a deep dive in our contact tracing for the week of November the 10th through the 16th and found out that fifty-five percent of the positives were coming from shopping at large retailers, what we term as the big box stores.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
 
MAYOR DEE MARGO: And those are considered essential under CISA guidelines in the homeland security. And we don't really have-- I don't have any control over any limitations there. We've asked for voluntary limitations and Walmart and several others are starting to meter, meaning they're going to limit the occupancy of their-- of their stores--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
 
MAYOR DEE MARGO: --which we think-- we also dug up the fact that previously our-- over fifty-two percent of our positives were coming in the ages of -- of twenty to thirty-nine. Now it's thirty to fifty.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm.
 
MAYOR DEE MARGO: So we're just trying to maintain, but recently, and I'm-- I'm fearful to even mention it, we've started to seem like we're starting to maybe plateau. On Thanksgiving Day, we had four hundred and six positives. The next day was six hundred and seventy-eight.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.
 
MAYOR DEE MARGO: Five hundred and ninety and then now we're down. But this weekend is always a misnomer for us because of the fact that private labs are not reporting--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
 
MAYOR DEE MARGO: --on the weekend.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
 
MAYOR DEE MARGO: We're-- we're just holding on.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: So those numbers may be worse, in other words. I know you just said that you can't shut down big box stores because they're deemed essential. But at a certain point, because of what you're talking about, if people aren't taking personal responsibility for themselves and their own behavior, do you as mayor need to shut down what businesses you can?
 
MAYOR DEE MARGO: Well, we took the action. I took action, as Doctor Birx talked about the bars and the gathering, I took action almost six weeks ago to close bar restaurants at 9:00 PM, and--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right, but restaurants are still open and other stores.
 
MAYOR DEE MARGO: Well, the-- the restaurant bars we're-- we were seeing a lot of congregating there. And so we shut them down at 9:00 PM for in-- in-dining. The state of Texas allowed bars to convert to restaurants with food trucks--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
 
MAYOR DEE MARGO: --kind of a-- some of them were kind of gaming the system, we think, and there was a lot of congregation there. But, you know, when we look at the Rio Grande Valley and Hidalgo County, which went through a spike just before ours, we talked to their health department. What they discovered in their contact tracing was the majority of their positives were coming from-- from home gatherings. And that's-- that's also still problematic here. I mean we're-- we're a multigenerational community and family is big--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.
 
MAYOR DEE MARGO: --and there's travel to Mexico. There's also those issues. But we're hopeful that we're, you know, getting our arms around it and people are understanding it. Right now in the hospital-- the latest numbers I have on our hospitalization is we-- we are at seventy-nine percent of our hospitalization capacity, which gives us twenty-one percent excess of which we didn't have-- we haven't had in some time.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you-- I'm going to ask you because you are in a majority Hispanic city, and I know the CDC has said Hispanics are four times as likely to be hospitalized than white Americans. Do you know what your state's plan is to distribute a vaccine? And do you think that demographics, ethnic makeup, needs to be a priority there versus prioritizing people based on occupation?
 
MAYOR DEE MARGO: Well, I think the-- the primary-- the governor has put out a directive, we-- we purchased with our CARES Act funding four locations in addition to the three that our public health has for vaccine distribution and vaccinations. We bought the freezers. We-- we bought the refrigerators that are required. But the governor's put out that the-- that the primary first responders, health care workers the primary recipients. And then the most vulnerable, as Mayor Duggan talked about, will be number two. And, yes, we are highly vulnerable as a community--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.
 
MAYOR DEE MARGO: --and four times what-- what the average white Caucasian.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, Mister Mayor, we wish you the best of luck. Thank you.
 
We'll be right back.
 
(ANNOUNCEMENTS)
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Coming up in the next half hour, CBS foreign correspondent Holly Williams reports from Iraq and Syria. She'll tell us why the region will present one of the greatest challenges for President-elect Biden? Stay with us.
 
(ANNOUNCEMENTS)
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll be right back with a lot more FACE THE NATION. Stay with us.
 
(ANNOUNCEMENTS)
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. We want to go now to CBS senior foreign correspondent Liz Palmer in London, on how tough restrictions in parts of Europe seem to be successful.
 
ELIZABETH PALMER (CBS News Senior Foreign Correspondent/@CBSLizpalmer): Good morning. Well, there is some good news for a change from Europe today. The widespread lockdowns have worked and the COVID infection rate is coming down, which means that some of those restrictions are now being lifted.
 
(Begin VT)
 
ELIZABETH PALMER: Employees at the main Paris department store welcomed customers for the first time in a month. This applause signals relief that holiday shopping can at last begin.
 
(Woman #1 speaking foreign language)
 
ELIZABETH PALMER: Germany's businesses will postpone opening up for a while yet. For example, eat-in restaurants have to stay closed for three more weeks, but how about this next-level takeout? The (INDISTINCT) cooking school offers five-star curb service. You just have to come in your own R.V.
 
(Woman #2 speaking foreign language)
 
(Man #2 speaking foreign language)
 
ELIZABETH PALMER: It's not so festive on Europe's ski slopes. Most of them will stay shut until at least January. Though Switzerland, where there is already plenty of snow, is bucking the trend.
 
There is a winter wonderland in Moscow, too, but skaters have to glove up and go through so-called disinfection booths to glide around this year on the vast rink in Red Square. Russia's infection rate, unlike Europe's, is surging up nearly thirty percent this month. Compare that with Australia, beaches are full, overhead but, out of sight drones watch for overcrowding, but people are relaxed with reason. After months of severe restrictions, the virus is under control. Only eight cases in the past twenty-four hours.
 
MAN #2: Did you hear that?
 
ELIZABETH PALMER: And, finally, there is a new COVID Christmas ritual: Virtual visiting with Santa.
 
MAN #3: Ho, ho, ho.
 
ELIZABETH PALMER: And it does appear that the magic works just as well, clear through the screen.
 
(End VT)
 
ELIZABETH PALMER: Here in Britain, the vaccine rollout looks imminent. Some of the papers are reporting this morning it could go ahead with the Pfizer version of the vaccine as early as the seventh of December. Margaret.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Liz, thank you.
 
We want to go now to former FDA Commissioner Doctor Scott Gottlieb, who joins us from Westport, Connecticut. He sits on the board at Pfizer, one of the drug companies preparing a vaccine. Good morning to you.
 
SCOTT GOTTLIEB, M.D. (Former FDA Commissioner/@ScottGottliebMD): Good morning.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: You could-- you could really hear the concern in Doctor Birx's description of what she thinks is about to hit this country. You look at South Dakota, it was the latest case to see one COVID death for every one thousand residents. Is the whole country going to look like South Dakota?
 
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Hopefully not. I think parts of the country are going to be able to do better than the Midwest is doing and certainly better than South Dakota and North Dakota are doing. If you see what's happening in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states where governors took more aggressive steps early, where there's more consistent use of masks, where they took less infection going into this season, I think you're going to see infection remain-- rates remain lower than we're seeing in other parts of the country like the Midwest. Also, there's a lot of testing available here. So they're taking more aggressive steps to try to contain the infection. If you look at states like South Dakota and the Midwest, generally, you're starting to see the number of new infections slow. And that's a reflection of the fact that they've fully infected at least thirty percent of the population in states like South Dakota, and maybe as high as fifty percent if you look at some of the modeling. So, at some point, you have such a high rate of infection in these parts of the country that you're going to see a natural slowing of new infections because the people who are eligible to be infected, who are vulnerable, have already gotten the virus.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: I mean, is that the strategy, the federal strategy to just hope for the best?
 
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Well, look, quite frankly, that's been the strategy of some people, this so-called herd immunity strategy. They don't say that explicitly, but some people think that you really can't stop this virus and we just have to let it run its course and do our best to protect those who are vulnerable. We're not doing a very good job of protecting the vulnerable. Almost eight percent of all nursing home residents have perished as a result of this pandemic since the start of the year. But there are some people who don't think you can really fully stop this virus. I disagree with that. I think you look at parts of the country, look at New York, look at my home state of Connecticut. There's a lot of infection here. These states are pressed right now, but you're not seeing the widespread rates of transfer that you're seeing in other parts of the country that haven't taken more aggressive steps. And I would argue that the economy in South Dakota and parts of the country that let this run a little bit more and didn't really take aggressive steps, didn't put in place mask mandates, didn't close congregate settings like bars and restaurants. I don't think there's real evidence that they've done better economically than parts of the country that took more prudent steps. What's really keeping consumers home is the virus. Why-- why people aren't going out to eat is they don't want to go into restaurants and risk getting infected. It's not the mandates and the state action that's keeping people home, it's the infection.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm. The CDC is considering shortening the amount of recommended time for a quarantine. What does that accomplish?
 
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Look, I think this is a prudent step. I think we should have contemplated this earlier because the reality is most people who get exposed to COVID are going to come down with COVID-- who get exposed to coronavirus will come down with COVID within a short period of time, figure five to seven days. There are some outliers, and some people-- there is evidence that some people won't contract the infection until a full fourteen days after exposure. But what you want are recommendations that are prudent and practical that people are going to follow. And when you have a fourteen-day quarantine period, that's such a long period of time that a lot of people aren't going to follow that anyway. And it makes it difficult to adhere to recommendations. And so putting in place a ten-day quarantine period, even a seven-day quarantine period, you're going to capture the vast majority of infections within that time frame. So, I think you need to balance the practicality of what you're recommending with people's ability and willingness to comply with it.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: You need a degree in psychology to figure out how to get people to comply these days. Doctor Fauci said on another network this morning, "There's not enough vaccine right now to vaccinate health care workers next month. That's the reason why this happens, that it goes to the states, that the amount of vaccine gets shipped locally. And then the final decision of how to do that properly will be left up to the states." What does he mean? What-- what should be the deciding factor in who gets the vaccine? And are we short on supply already?
 
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: We are short on supply. We're-- we're not going to have enough supply to vaccinate everyone who could be eligible for this vaccine, who could benefit it-- from cert-- from it certainly. The federal government this week on December 1st is going to make recommendations, a vaccine advisory committee that advises CDC will make recommendations on who should get the vaccine first, the so-called 1A group, the people who should get it immediately when it becomes available, hopefully in-- in December, if there's one or more authorization of vaccines this month, including from the company I'm on the board of Pfizer. That's going to be health care workers and-- and residents of long-term care facilities. There's about twenty million health care workers who might be eligible and about three million residents of long-term care facilities and staff of those facilities. Those will be the first group of patients who get access to it. That's pretty much decided. They're going to vote on it this week. But I wouldn't be-- I'd be very surprised if they deviate from that. But there's only going to be forty million doses available throughout the whole month of December if both companies get authorized on time. So there's probably not enough vaccine to work fully through both of those groups. Then there's a question of who's going to be in that second tranche, what we're calling 1B. And there is some debate--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
 
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: --whether that's going to be older Americans, those over the age of sixty-five or seventy-five or certain essential workers or some combination of both. There's about eighty-five million essential workers who might be eligible to be vaccinated if you-- if you bifurcate it to that group. And there's about--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
 
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: --fifty million people over the age of sixty-five, twenty million over the age of seventy-five.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.
 
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: And so that's going to be some debate about which group gets prioritized first.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: When Doctor Birx says "vaccinate for impact," what does that mean?
 
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Well, it depends on what impact you are trying to achieve. If you're-- if your goal is to maximize the preservation of human life with a vaccine then you would-- you would bias the vaccine towards older Americans. You would try to get everyone over the age of seventy-five vaccinated first. There's about twenty million of-- of those in that group.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay.
 
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: If your goal is to reduce the rate of infection, you would prioritize essential workers. So it depends on what impact you're trying to achieve.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: And a lot of that is going to rest on the shoulders of state governors. We'll be covering this. Doctor Gottlieb--
 
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: That's right.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: --thank you for your insight.
 
We'll be right back.
 
(ANNOUNCEMENTS)
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: On Thanksgiving, many of us enjoyed an abundance of food, but more than fifty million people in this country are unsure of where their next meal is coming from, according to Feeding America. That is the nation's largest hunger relief organization. And its CEO, Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, joins us from Dallas this morning. Good morning.
 
CLAIRE BABINEAUX-FONTENOT (Feeding America CEO): Good morning.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Your organization says as a result of the pandemic, one in six Americans could face hunger. Where are you seeing the most need?
 
CLAIRE BABINEAUX-FONTENOT: Well, what is really staggering is the fact that that's on average across the country. There are actually communities in which one in two children face food insecurity. What we're seeing is the things that you might imagine. So, communities of color are particularly vulnerable. They're two times more likely to suffer with food insecurity. Also, rural communities are far more likely to suffer with food insecurity as well. So, it's definitely not evenly spread. But on average, about one in six people in this country food insecure. That's right.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: That is staggering. Seventeen million of them children. How much of that is coming from school closures?
 
CLAIRE BABINEAUX-FONTENOT: Well, it's a combination of things, actually. About twenty-two million children in the country before COVID relied upon free and reduced lunch. It consistently is true that families with children are far more likely to suffer from food insecurity. So there are lots of things conspiring right now to cause vulnerable communities to really be reeling right now, not only with a-- a health crisis, but with a food crisis as well.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to talk not just about describing the problem, but-- but some of the suggestions you might have on solutions here. I know that states were ordered last month to do the most they possibly can in terms of providing money for food stamps. The typical payment, according to the USDA, is for a family of four to get six hundred and eighty dollars to last for a month. According to your organization, a third of the customers you are seeing at your food banks don't even qualify for food stamps. What does that suggest to you about how out of a line the states and the federal government is with the absolute need you're seeing on the front lines?
 
CLAIRE BABINEAUX-FONTENOT: Yeah. Well, I'm so glad you started there because that's one of the solutions. That was-- that's something we could do right now that could help families that are struggling. So not only do we have many people who turn to us for help or people who don't qualify but barely don't qualify under current guidelines. But we also have a number of people who turn to us for help who qualify. But what they receive does not satisfy their needs for their families because of things like what you said. I want to throw out one more statistic, if you won't-- if you don't mind, which is that the bureau-- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics just said that grocery prices right now are at a fifty-year high--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
 
CLAIRE BABINEAUX-FONTENOT: --and we're simply not tracking with those increases in demand and-- and lower supply when it comes to the federal nutrition program. So that's something that we should definitely be looking at-- at changing.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Cost of living just higher than what the social safety net is. I-- I know you've been in contact with the Biden administration, incoming administration, and I know there's a debate among some Democrats right now about whether to refocus, in some ways, the Agriculture Department on this question of hunger versus the traditional focus on rural America. What-- what would you advise the incoming administration?
 
CLAIRE BABINEAUX-FONTENOT: I'd start by saying that's a false choice. The need is so great out there. We ought to be doing both. There's absolutely a role for the federal nutrition programs to play. That role, in fact, should be enhanced. And there's also a role for our-- our U.S.-based growers and-- and producers to play. I'll give you as one quick example, the USDA commodities represented about 1.7 billion meals of the five billion meals that our network was able to provide last year. If nothing happens with no intervention, we're looking at a fifty-percent decrease in those commodities next year, while we're seeing a sixty-percent increase in demand. I-- I-- I really believe that we need to be thoughtful about how we look at near-term solutions, mid-term solutions, and long-term solutions. And as I said, I believe that's really a false choice.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, in the near term, we know the CARES Act, a lot of its support to Americans runs out at the end of December, leaving potentially almost seven million people pending eviction, twelve million Americans without unemployment benefits. What is that going to do? Are your food banks prepared to meet what is potentially a lot of new need?
 
CLAIRE BABINEAUX-FONTENOT: Well, I'll tell you, I-- I'll bet on this network of remarkable people to do everything that they can all the time, but the simple truth is there's no way that the charitable food system can do this alone. It's going to require-- it's an all-in fight. It's going to require policy interventions, regulatory interventions. It's also public-private partnerships. I think we've got to get really serious about-- about doing something about this, because in our country, we actually have the resources and the ingenuity that's necessary to really solve these problems--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.
 
CLAIRE BABINEAUX-FONTENOT: --as nuanced and complex as they are.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, good luck to you and your organization. Thank you.
 
CLAIRE BABINEAUX-FONTENOT: Thank you for having me.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: We know worldwide more than a quarter of a billion people are likely to be acutely hungry in 2020, and this crisis is getting worse. The U.N.'s World Food Programme is the world's largest organization, addressing hunger and promoting food security. And we go now to its executive director, David Beasley. He joins us from Florence, South Carolina. Good morning to you.
 
DAVID BEASLEY (Executive Director for the U.N. World Food Programme/@WFPChief): Good morning to you.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: That is a staggering estimate in terms of the number of people on the verge of acute hunger. And you say two hundred and seventy million on the precipice of starvation. How much of this is due to the pandemic?
 
DAVID BEASLEY: Well, quite a bit of it. In fact, about half of that is due to the pandemic. When I joined the World Food Programme a few years ago, the number of people that were marching toward the brink of starvation was about eighty million people. But over the past three years pre-COVID, it spiked up to a hundred and thirty-five million. Then you ask the question why? And the primary reason was man-made conflict, compounded with climate extremes and fragile-- fragile governments. But since COVID has come in and truly exacerbated every extenuating circumstance we had around the world, the numbers have gone from a hundred and thirty-five million from one year ago to two hundred and seventy million people marching to the brink of starvation. This is not people going to bed hungry. This is people really struggling to get their next meal.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: You warned recently that the coming year, 2021, could bring famines of biblical proportions. Where specifically are you most concerned?
 
DAVID BEASLEY: Well, there's about thirty-six countries now that we feed thirty million people that they depend on us one hundred percent. We assist about a hundred million people on any given day, week or month right now around the world, we need to move that number up to about a hundred and thirty-eight million. But there are three dozen countries, and you talk about, specifically, let me just hit a few--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
 
DAVID BEASLEY: --Yemen, Syria, South Sudan, Northeast Nigeria, DRC, and I could keep going from country to country to country around the world. In fact-- and if we don't address this, Margaret, this is what we're looking at-- we're looking at famines, destabilization and mass migration. And it's a lot cheaper to come in and prevent it and do it right. I mean, you know, if people in the United States are struggling for food, what you imagine is happening in Niger, Burkina Faso or South Sudan.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: You know, the-- the U.S. taxpayer is the single largest donor to the U.N.'s World Food Programme. But we are going through a crisis here at home. You just heard how painful it is. What impact do you think that economic strain is going to have on the U.S. ability to give to your organization?
 
DAVID BEASLEY: Well, it's extremely important. That's one of the things that I'm talking with leaders around the world, especially the United States, who is our number one donor as well as European leaders. You know, when you go back to the Syrian war, the European leaders did not step in at the right time, at the right place, and they paid a severe price. Syria was a nation of about twenty million people. The cost of supporting the Syrian in Syria is about fifty cents per day. That same Syrian ends up in Berlin or Brussels or London, it is fifty to a hundred Euros per day. And we know that people don't want to leave home. But if they don't have food and they don't have some degree of peace and stability, they would do what any of us would do for our children. So it's a lot cheaper to come in and prevent the destabilization than it is to have war and conflict afterwards. And the United States has always been the most generous nation--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
 
DAVID BEASLEY: --on Earth. And I don't expect the United States to back down now, because this could be a lot cheaper to come in and do it right and prevent a lot of migration and a lot of destabilization and, in fact, a lot of deaths from hunger. People are dying now, about every five seconds a child dies from hunger. I mean by the time you and I finish talking, Margaret--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
 
DAVID BEASLEY: --we're going to have several dozen children have died from hunger.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Before you were a humanitarian, you were a Republican governor in South Carolina. You were a politician. So I know you know the politics in this country right now. And you understand the complaints from President Trump in regard to the U.S. taking on too much of a burden, an outsized responsibility when it comes to solving the world's problems. How do you respond to that argument now at this time of need in this country?
 
DAVID BEASLEY: Well, one of the things that I have found when it comes to international aid, strategic, effective international aid, I call it the miracle on Pennsylvania Avenue at both ends. You know, when it seems like the Democrats and Republicans, Margaret, they're fighting over everything. But when it comes to food aid and stabilizing nations and preventing famine, it's remarkable to watch the Republicans and the Democrats come together, lay aside their differences and, literally, do what they can. And it's been quite a miracle to see. We went from about 1.9 billion when I arrived three and a half years ago to now about almost four billion dollars from the United States. And so whether you talk about Bush, Obama or Trump and I know Biden will-- we will have the support we need from Republicans and Democrats to help the needy people around the world. But this is a--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.
 
DAVID BEASLEY: --one-time extraordinary crisis. And we're going to have-- actually we're going to have to ask--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay.
 
DAVID BEASLEY: --the billionaires to step up in a way they've never done before.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. Mister Beasley, thank you for your time. Congratulations to the World Food Programme on the Nobel Peace Prize you're about to receive.
 
We'll be back in a moment.
 
(ANNOUNCEMENTS)
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Finally today CBS News foreign correspondent Holly Williams spent Thanksgiving week embedded with the U.S. military in Iraq and Syria as they work to prevent ISIS from regrouping. Here's her report.
 
(Begin VT)
 
HOLLY WILLIAMS: In eastern Syria, the 82nd Airborne Division is patrolling to stop an ISIS resurgence. It's thought that thousands of extremists are still at large. But Lieutenant Colonel Val Moro [ph]told us the small American presence, about a thousand troops, prevents ISIS from showing its face.
 
VAL MORO: Well, Holly, they got to hide. There-- there's not-- there's-- they're still here. It's not a whole lot of them, but the fanatics are still out there. And-- and that's who we're going after.
 
MAN #2: It's considered low-level sabotage.
 
HOLLY WILLIAMS: To stop ISIS regaining control of lucrative oil facilities like this one, they're guarded by America's Syrian allies. The same rag-tag army that beat back ISIS on the ground. But last year, President Trump opened the door to an incursion by Turkey into this area, quickly followed by Russians, who moved through this base after the U.S. military withdrew. It's led to direct confrontations between American and Russian forces, an outright chaos which could provide an opening for ISIS, according to Kino Gabriel, a spokesman for America's Syrian allies.
 
KINO GABRIEL: Instability equals the best environment for jihadists, for terrorist organization to prosper.
 
MAN #3: What was the target?
 
HOLLY WILLIAMS: Across the border in Iraq, the number of U.S. troops was almost half to three thousand in September, and this month the Pentagon announced another cut of five hundred by January.
 
RYAN RIDEOUT: As we kind of scope down force protection measures and-- and smaller footprint--
 
HOLLY WILLIAMS: General Ryan Rideout told us it won't impact operations, but critics say the cuts give a boost to militia groups in Iraq that are backed by Iran. They've launched scores of rockets targeting Americans this year alone, including in Baghdad this month.
 
RYAN RIDEOUT: They just simply want to stay in charge. They simply want to continue to-- to-- to have power and money and control.
 
HOLLY WILLIAMS: With the American presidency in transition, this unstable region is even more complicated than it was four years ago.
 
(End VT)
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Our Holly Williams reporting from Iraq.
 
We'll be right back.
 
(ANNOUNCEMENTS)
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: That's it for us today. Thank you for watching. We'll see you next week. For FACE THE NATION, I'm Margaret Brennan.