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Dr. Fauci, Chef Zimmern Highlight Two Live AARP Coronavirus Events on Nov. 19

Advice on staying safe for the holidays Thursday at 1 p.m. ET; cooking for caregivers at 7 p.m.

The Doctors Are In: Vaccines and Staying Safe During the Holidays

Special guests Dr. Francis Collins, the Director of the National Institutes of Health, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, addressed your questions and provided the latest information on the pandemic, vaccine development and how to stay safe during the holidays.

Listen to a replay of live event above.

The Doctors are In: Vaccines and Staying Safe During the Holidays

Bill Walsh: Hello. I am AARP Vice President Bill Walsh, and I want to welcome you to this important discussion about the coronavirus. AARP, a nonprofit, nonpartisan member organization has been working to promote the health and well-being of older Americans for more than 60 years. In the face of the global coronavirus pandemic, AARP is providing information and resources to help older adults and those caring for them. As we know, the holidays are approaching as the pandemic surges in many parts of the country, casting a cloud over what is normally a time for family and celebration. With colder weather upon us and the beginnings of cold and flu season, Americans are entering a dangerous new phase of the pandemic. At the same time, there are signs of hope as progress is being made with vaccines.

            Today, we have two special guests from the front lines of the pandemic and vaccine development, Dr. Francis Collins and Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health. If you’ve participated in one of our tele-town halls before, you know this is similar to a radio talk show, and you have the opportunity to ask questions live. And Drs. Collins and Fauci will be joining us shortly to take those questions. For those of you joining on the phone, please press *3 on your telephone keypad to be connected with an AARP staff member who will note your name and question and place you in a queue to ask that question live. If you’re joining on Facebook or YouTube, please post your question in the comments.

            Hello, if you’re just joining, I’m Bill Walsh with AARP, and I want to welcome you to this important discussion about the global coronavirus pandemic. We’re talking with leading experts and taking your questions live. To ask your question, please press *3 on your telephone keypad. And if you’re joining on Facebook or YouTube, you can post your question in the comments. As I mentioned, we have two renowned experts joining us today to answer your questions about the coronavirus. Francis Collins, M.D., director of the National Institutes of Health and Anthony Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health. We also will be joined by my AARP colleague, Jean Setzfand, who will help facilitate your calls today.

            Drs. Collins and Fauci will be joining us shortly, but I’d now like to bring on Nancy LeaMond, AARP’s chief advocacy and engagement officer. Nancy oversees AARP’s work to fight for and educate AARP members through national, state and local campaign efforts. Welcome, Nancy.

Nancy LeaMond: Hi, Bill, thanks for having me.

Bill Walsh: All right, thanks for being here. Nancy, we’re eight months into the pandemic. Can you share a little about the progress AARP has made in fighting for older Americans who are disproportionately affected by the pandemic?

Nancy LeaMond: Sure. From the start of the pandemic, AARP advocates across the country have been hard at work for our members, fighting for resources and support to help them protect their health, their pocketbooks and their families. Bill, I appreciate the chance to share a few of them with you. First, in the spring when Congress was debating a stimulus package, we fought to ensure that Americans whose primary source of income is Social Security, SSI and veterans benefits, receive stimulus payments of up to $1,200. And they would not have to file any additional paperwork to receive the payment. This was a critical win for older adults at a time when many were seeing retirement balances drop off and struggling economically.

            Second, we have pushed for lawmakers and regulators to address the tragedy playing out in America’s nursing homes and long-term care facilities. More than 91,000 residents and staff have died from COVID-19 in these facilities. It remains a dire situation, and we fought on the federal and state levels for more supplies, more resources for residents and staff, and more support, connection and transparency for family members. We’ve also worked to ensure that nursing homes are held accountable for their actions. Our advocacy has led to progress at the state and federal levels, but there is much left to be done. And this tragedy is continuing to play out in nursing homes across the country. As we speak, we’re calling on federal and state leaders to pass urgent legislation, which includes AARP’s plan to provide more support to the people who live and work in nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

            Third, during this crisis we have fought in Washington, D.C., state capitals and communities across the country to ensure that lawmakers and regulators take the steps they have to to address racial disparities that have been exposed by the pandemic. We’ve called for federal policies, and AARP state offices in places like New York, Michigan, Massachusetts, South Carolina and New Jersey have worked to ensure more racial and ethnic data collection, outreach and testing for people of color as starting points for addressing disparities. We’ve also pushed for funding for vaccine research, worked to expand unemployment insurance benefits, as well as paid family and sick leave. And we’ve stood up for the most vulnerable seniors by helping to secure increased funding for critical programs to ensure people have access to food.

            This work has happened in Washington, D.C., and through AARP’s state offices nationwide. It would not be possible without the phone calls, emails and actions from AARP members, volunteers and older adults across the country. And we appreciate all that help. AARP has also worked diligently to help people 50-plus gain access to experts through nearly 400 virtual events, which have engaged more than 4 million people across the country, just like this one today. These events have connected older Americans directly to experts to get the answers they need. And today we are especially pleased to have Dr. Francis Collins and Dr. Anthony Fauci, two preeminent infectious disease experts, with us to answer our questions. These are just a few of the ways that we’re working for older adults, and as more information comes out about vaccines and other developments, we are committed to continue to fight for and provide information to all of our members.

Bill Walsh: Okay, Nancy, thank you so much for providing that update, and thanks for being with us today.

Nancy LeaMond: Thank you, Bill.

Bill Walsh: I understand that we now have Dr. Francis Collins on the line with us, director of the National Institutes of Health. Let’s go ahead and bring him on. Again, to ask your question, please press *3 at any time on your telephone keypad to be connected with an AARP staff member, or if you’re joining on Facebook or YouTube, place your question in the comments section. Dr. Collins, welcome. Thanks for being here with us today.

Francis Collins: Thank you, Bill. I’m very glad to join you, and the folks who have called in for this AARP discussion about the coronavirus topic, which is consuming a hundred hours a week for me, and has been ever since January. I’m speaking to you from my home office in Chevy Chase, Maryland, which is where I’m running a $42 billion a year organization called the National Institutes of Health. But happy to have a chance to share what I know.

            I should let you know, Dr. Fauci was pulled into a very last-minute, high-level, urgent meeting, and he’ll be joining us probably about 1:30 Eastern Time. So I guess I think of myself now as kind of like the opener in the rock concert. And Mick Jagger, aka Tony Fauci, will join you in a little bit, and we can figure out how to do that handoff, but pretty much, he and I are linked at the hip here in terms of everything about COVID-19. We speak multiple times a day and almost every night as well. So anything you want to throw at me, I think you’ll probably get a similar answer as you would get from Tony. So let’s do it.

Bill Walsh: Okay. All right. Well, I know our listeners are anxious to hear from both of you, and so let’s dive right in. Just a reminder, to ask your question, please press *3 on your telephone keypad or drop it in the comments section on Facebook or YouTube.

So, Dr. Collins, we’re seeing positive news recently about the vaccine development process. When can we expect a vaccine to be available for anyone in the country who wants to take it and, when one is available, who’s likely to get it first?

Francis Collins: Well, everybody wants to know the answer to that, believe me. It’s the thing I get asked most commonly. First of all, let me say it has been an exhilarating 10 days scientifically to see the results of these large-scale, so-called phase 3 trials for two different vaccines, the first two to come through that set of tests — one from Pfizer and one from a company called Moderna. And both of them, in the course of the last 10 days, releasing information that shows that the vaccine, when tested in tens of thousands of people, had efficacy above 90 percent, probably closer to 95 percent for both of them. This is breathtakingly good, and I think most of us, were hoping we’d see efficacy maybe 70 percent and 75 percent. To see 95 percent is incredibly reassuring and exciting and promising for the future.

            Now let’s be clear. This is data which now the FDA will need to look at in great detail, both in terms of the efficacy and also the safety, and both of these seem to have a very good safety record so far, but FDA is going to look at all of that as well. And then there will be a public discussion about what they have learned, coming up in probably the first week or second week of December after which they will make a decision about whether to grant an emergency use authorization to one or both of these vaccines. And I would say right now, the chances of that look pretty good.

            So at that point, once there is this so-called EUA, it becomes possible to start to administer doses of these vaccines to the highest risk people. In December there should be about 40 million doses ready to go, because Operation Warp Speed actually invested in doing the manufacturing even before knowing if the vaccines were going to work, because we didn’t want to have a long gap there waiting when this is such a serious situation in our country. Forty million doses isn’t 40 million people though. That’s 20 million people because both of these vaccines require two doses separated by three or four weeks. So 20 million people probably before the end of this year, if we can get the distribution all worked out, will be immunized, and we have to pick very carefully how that is going to be done, and that’s part of the CDC’s decision-making that’s already getting underway.

            Obviously, you want to go to the highest risk people. So that will be particularly those who are elderly, who have chronic illnesses, health care providers, people in nursing homes, other critical staff, and there aren’t going to be enough doses to handle everybody in those categories in December. So there’ll be some challenging decisions to make for that first month. But then, things will start to happen. January, February, there will be another 40 or 50 million doses each of those months, maybe even more starting in about March when other vaccines get their chance to get reviewed and have their own manufacturing plan.

            Bottom line is, I would say by the spring, people who are not in one of those high-risk groups will start also to have the chance to get access. We’ve got to start with the high-risk groups first, and by the summer, let’s hope for around July or so, maybe our country, assuming everybody’s willing to take the vaccine, which is another issue, should be able to get access.

Bill Walsh: Right, well thanks for that update. And you mentioned the speed in which everyone’s been moving to get a vaccine approved and the emergency use authorization process. Maybe you can talk a little bit about that. What is the difference between an emergency use authorization for a vaccine and regular FDA approval? And should the public be concerned about the safety of a vaccine that’s gone through an emergency use authorization?

Francis Collins: Yeah, it’s a great question. And, of course, what we are trying to do here is to balance the process that is normally followed, which could take as long as eight years, and, in fact, that’s the usual timetable for a new vaccine, in the face of what is clearly the worst pandemic that our planet has seen in 102 years. The emergency use authorization is still extremely rigorous. Let nobody try to tell you that this is cutting corners. What is different between this and a full authorization is basically two things. One is the detail that the FDA requires in terms of the manufacturing, which is a lot of information, is not quite as demanding for the emergency use authorization, but that is probably more of a technical question. The other is just the timetable over which we’ve been able to look for any kind of safety signal. With an emergency use authorization, FDA says you’ve got to have two months of follow-up on at least half the people in the trial who got the vaccine to see if there were any unexpected side effects. They will have that, but for a full authorization, you’d want a longer period of follow-up, several more months. To wait though for that when there are people dying, and when we think this vaccine could save maybe hundreds of thousands of lives doesn’t seem like the right thing either. So those are the two main differences. For me, I would say the way in which FDA is treating this emergency use authorization is extremely rigorous and should provide a lot of confidence that this is something you can trust.

Bill Walsh: Okay, thank you for that. Let me follow up on the development process. You mentioned Moderna, it’s another company with a promising vaccine, and it looks like 23 percent of their trial participants were age 65 or older. Pfizer tells us that 48 percent of its enrollees were between the ages of 56 and 85. What can you say about the effectiveness of the vaccine on older and more vulnerable populations, given the composition of the trials?

Francis Collins: I think it’s pretty encouraging. For both of the trials, for Pfizer and Moderna, the protection against illness was 95 percent and of course that includes a large swath of individuals, including older individuals on that same group. So it is looking to be the case that both of these vaccines actually work really well in older individuals. Let me just say, that is what we hoped for based on earlier studies, which were looking at the level of antibodies that are generated by these vaccines. That’s usually a pretty good predictor. There are other vaccines for other illnesses where, when you look at the antibody production in older people, it’s not as good as in young people for reasons that I don’t understand, but I’m really happy to see. Both of these COVID vaccines seem to generate just as good antibodies in people over 65, as in people in their 20s. And that’s really encouraging. So we are looking pretty good here. I mean being able to say this is really going to work for older people.

Bill Walsh: We all could use some good news.

Francis Collins: Yeah, couldn’t we.

Bill Walsh: Well let’s go to our listeners. It’s now time to address their questions about the coronavirus with Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health; Dr. Anthony Fauci will be joining us shortly. As a reminder, press *3 at any time on your telephone keypad to be connected with an AARP staff member to share your question. I’d now like to bring in my AARP colleague Jean Setzfand to help facilitate your calls. Welcome, Jean.

Jean Setzfand: Thanks, Bill. Delighted to be here.

Bill Walsh: All right, let’s take our first question.

Jean Setzfand: Our first question is coming from New Hampshire. This is Gene from New Hampshire.

Bill Walsh: Hey, Gene. Thanks for joining us today. Go ahead with your question for Dr. Collins. Hey, Gene, go ahead with your question.

Gene: Hi, Pfizer and Moderna both seem to work, but they have very different refrigeration requirements. Why is that?

Francis Collins: Great question, yeah, that’s a great question. Pfizer’s vaccine is going to be challenging in terms of distribution because it has to be kept at extremely cold temperatures, about minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit, until it’s ready to be administered, because otherwise it doesn’t stay active the way it needs to. And there are a lot of places that will not have freezers that can keep that kind of low temperature. Big cities will, but in a rural environment, that will be more challenging to find the equipment. Pfizer’s worked really hard to try to set up that distribution network. Moderna on the other hand, even though the platforms, as we call it, the technology is similar to Pfizer, their vaccine is much more amenable to just being kept in a regular freezer like you have in your kitchen. It’s stable there for six months. You can put it in the refrigerator, a part of your kitchen, and it’d be stable there for a month, and you can put it out on the counter, and it’ll be all right for 12 hours. So it’s going to be much easier to deal with that. And even though both of these vaccines are based on something called messenger RNA, they have different ways of kind of packaging that messenger RNA into something that’s going to be delivered by putting a little envelope around it of a certain kind of fatty molecule. And for reasons that I don’t entirely understand, the Pfizer version is much more sensitive to getting warmed up too soon. So it is going to be an issue, and it’s a good thing we have both of these, and so the distribution, which is being heavily talked about right now, is going to need to factor in the need for this kind of a cold chain.

Bill Walsh: Sure, okay, thank you for that. Jean, who is our next caller?

Jean Setzfand: Our next caller is Megan from North Carolina.

Bill Walsh: Hey, Megan. Welcome to the show. Go ahead with your question for Dr. Collins.

Megan: Hello, Doctor, thank you for all your hard work and time. My question is, in regards to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, what are your thoughts about any additional risk, if any, versus benefit for specifically the immunosuppressed or immunocompromised senior population and their caregivers?

Francis Collins: Another great question. So in terms of the elderly, who are just by their nature of being over 65, like I am, maybe less likely to have a bigger immune response, we’re pretty reassured by what I described a minute ago, that antibodies do get generated to these vaccines quite efficiently, even in older people. If somebody’s actually immunocompromised as, for instance, somebody who’s being treated for cancer and is on chemotherapy which can suppress your immune system, it does not seem that these vaccines would present a higher risk, because they are not live virus. In fact, there’s nothing about either of these vaccines that could possibly cause an infection. Basically, they are just causing the body to synthesize a little bit of a coat protein, that so-called spike protein. So there’s no risk of making somebody ill from the vaccine itself. It would be, however, a concern about whether the immune system would be able to respond effectively if it’s already suppressed by chemotherapy. We are discussing beginning to try small trials on immunosuppressed people to see how big an issue that might be, but we haven’t gotten those going quite yet.

Bill Walsh: Okay, thank you for that question, Megan. Jean, who is our next caller?

Jean Setzfand: Our next caller is Elliot from Nashville.

Bill Walsh: Hey, Elliot, go ahead with your question for Dr. Collins.

Elliot: Hi, and thank you, Dr. Collins. I have, it’s a bit of a two-parter. Can you determine at this point, how long immunity may last on average for those vaccinated with either the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, and part two is, when do we anticipate results will be published in a peer-reviewed publication versus learning about them via the media?

Francis Collins: Two very good questions. You guys ask great questions.

Bill Walsh: I’m telling you, our listeners are sharp.

Francis Collins: They are sharp. Well, how long will the immunity last? That is the big question that we all wish we had answers to. And, of course, we’re counting on following people who did get naturally infected with COVID-19 over time to see what their antibodies do. And there’ve been a number of publications that initially were a little troubling and making it look as if those antibody levels dropped rather quickly. Later publications, including some just in the last couple of days, do seem to show that they may go down a bit, but they still stay in a pretty good place for many people for months at a time. And perhaps as an indication of that, we only know of about three or four well-documented examples for somebody who had COVID-19 back in the spring got reinfected. Now, that’s not enough for me to tell you that you can go around without a mask and do whatever you please if you happened to have COVID previously, ’cause we don’t know that for sure, but it does look as if there’s pretty good protective immunity from what we know. And if that’s the case for natural infection, you would expect there to be some relationship there in terms of the duration of immunity that you would get from the vaccine. But that’s going to take, actually, a lot of studies to see.

            Simply measuring antibodies that are floating around in your bloodstream is not necessarily telling you what you want to know about that person’s ability to fight off the virus if they see it again, because there’s such a thing as T-cells, so-called cell-mediated immunity, which might be just as important, but it’s not as easy to measure. So frankly, we kind of don’t know. Based on what we know about other coronaviruses like SARS and MERS and the common cold, it could be that this is an immunity that will last for a few years, or, it’s unlikely to last a lifetime. So we should think about this as maybe in the same zone as a tetanus shot, where you might need a booster or going forward. If we’re lucky, it would be like measles, where once you’re immune you’re immune for life, but that would be really lucky. So, even as we’re thinking about the acute challenge we have right now, think about where this is going. This particular virus is probably not just going to disappear, and we’re probably going to have to think about how to keep people immunized going forward, maybe with booster shots.

            Your question about when are you going to see the data in a peer-reviewed journal? Well, for me as the director of NIH, that’s a question that I’m usually asking when I see a press release. So I’m glad you’re asking it, too. I think the companies that are doing this are, in fact, highly motivated because they’re really proud of the data that they’ve generated, and the journals very much want to publish it as well. So I think you will see from both Pfizer and from Moderna publications, probably within the next month or so, that lay out all the details of how the study was designed and what the results will look like.

Bill Walsh: Very good. Thanks for that, Dr. Collins. Jean, who is our next caller?

Jean Setzfand: Our next caller is Raymond from Virginia.

Bill Walsh: Hey, Raymond, go ahead with your question.

Raymond: Thank you, Dr. Collins. Actually you’ve answered my questions ’cause I, about when it’s probably going to be available. I’m 90 with lung problems. I think you’ve answered it. Thank you.

Francis Collins: Okay. Certainly older folks, especially those with chronic illnesses, they will be high on the list, but I can’t tell you exactly how that priority is going to be set. That’s going to be up to CDC. They have their advisory committee on immunization practices that is very experienced at doing this, and that’s what they’re doing right now.

Bill Walsh: Well, actually, Raymond brings up another interesting point. I mean, for the consumer who may have existing chronic illnesses, what questions should they be asking themselves before they take a vaccine, even if it’s offered to them?

Francis Collins: Well, certainly ought to be asking what’s the data about safety and efficacy. Looking at the safety data, again on tens of thousands of people for both of these vaccines, there is kind of the typical acute reactions that you might see with other vaccines: the sore arm, perhaps a low-grade fever, some muscle aches or fatigue for a day or so. There were no severe adverse events that would cause a serious concern. So it’s kind of that typical response could, therefore, make you feel a little puny for the first 24 hours after the injection. But other than that, we don’t know of any serious effects that would need to be factored in. And in terms of the benefits, it looks awfully encouraging. Again, that’s based on tens of thousands of people with quite a range of chronic illnesses and age. So one can imagine that probably applies to each of us as we try to make that decision.

            There should be more data, though, especially after the FDA holds their public meeting coming up in early December. And I think one of the things that I’m going to hope for is that we are successful in getting that information out there to everybody in an easily understandable way. I’m very concerned that polls now suggest as many as half of Americans would not be interested in taking this vaccine because of all the conspiracy theories and other suggestions that this is being managed for political reasons instead of science. None of that’s true. This has been driven absolutely a hundred percent by scientific decision-making, but still with that many people being skeptical, you know what would be really a terrible outcome is we have vaccines that are shown to be really good and yet half of Americans decide not to use them. And then this epidemic could go on and on and on. We need to get about 90 percent of the population immunized if we’re going to basically tell this virus that it’s done.

Bill Walsh: Yeah. You’ve put your finger on an important point, the skepticism about the process. I just want to let our listeners know that AARP will be following developments in the vaccine development and approval process very closely and publishing information on a regular basis at aarp.org/coronavirus to try to get the facts to people as soon as possible. Jean, who is our next caller?

Jean Setzfand: We have several questions also online with our YouTube listeners. And here’s one from a listener with the initials LAF. Is asking, “How far into the foreseeable future should we expect to have to wear our masks?”

Francis Collins: Yeah, that’s another great question. And I know people are tired of all of the restrictions and requirements, but I’m afraid we really, if anything, need to double down right now. The vaccines do represent a light at the end of the tunnel, but the tunnel’s still got a ways to go. We will not reach the point where we have a sufficient number of our population immunized until the spring or even the summer. And until then, the spread of the virus will still be very much possible. And if we want to limit the number of infections and hospitalizations and deaths, it’s still going to be up to all of us to be paying attention to those three W’s: Wear your mask, when you’re outside moving around; certainly watch your distance, that 6-foot distance; wash your hands. To which I would add avoid indoor gatherings; that’s the place where most of the transmissions are happening. And, of course, here we are coming up on Thanksgiving, and I know everybody is wrestling with what they’re going to do for themselves. For my part, my wife and I will have Thanksgiving dinner just by ourselves, the first time in 27 years. We will not be with my daughters and grandkids, but it just isn’t worth taking that risk this time. This is going to be a Thanksgiving that we’ll have maybe next July instead of next week.

Bill Walsh: Sure. All right, well, thank you for that, Dr. Collins, and I understand that Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases at NIH is with us now. Welcome to the program, Dr. Fauci. Thanks for being with us.

Anthony Fauci: Thank you very much. I really apologize sincerely for not being in there at the beginning. I was at a meeting that I’m sure Dr. Collins either has or we will soon talk about, with the vice president and the secretaries of HHS and DOD talking about the distribution of doses of vaccine throughout the country when they become ready and available to be distributed. So, I’m sorry I wasn’t with you from the beginning, but I’m here now. So thank you for inviting me.

Francis Collins: It’s okay, Tony, I explained that I was the warm-up act or maybe the opening rock ’n’ roll group, and now Mick Jagger was going to take the stage, and so here he is, everybody.

Bill Walsh: Well, you’ve been played by Brad Pitt on Saturday Night Live, why not Mick Jagger, too, right?

Francis Collins: Why not.

Bill Walsh: Right. any updates from that meeting, Dr. Fauci, that you can share with our listeners?

Anthony Fauci: Well, yes. So the real question is that it’s such a logistic feat when the EUA’s are actually approved — in this case, from the two companies that have the vaccines that have been shown to be highly effective, namely Moderna and Pfizer — how do you get it from the warehouses after they’ve been filled and finished to the individual clinics, hospitals, drugstores, wherever. And Gen. Perna, who is a four-star general in the Army, as part of the DOD component of Operation Warp Speed has been literally working day and night for months together with the CDC to work out the details of that transportation and delivery.

            The interesting thing is that one of the things that everyone gets concerned about is that the Pfizer product requires a cold chain that is rather profound, namely, it’s something like minus 70 degrees Celsius, so minus 90 degrees Fahrenheit. And everyone asks the appropriate question: How the heck are you going to do that, because not every single clinic or drugstore or what have you— and he worked out the details of how they’re going to get it from plane to truck to machine. So listening to the general describe it, if it works out the way he says, this is going to be something that’s going to be just doable.

            Of course, the Moderna product as some of you may know, can be stored for a considerable period of time in a regular freezer and in a refrigerator like you have in your home for 30 days, and outside at room temperature for 12 hours. So one of the products is easier from a logistics standpoint, but we were assured in the briefing of the vice president that both of the products will be able to be delivered and implemented appropriately. So it was a good briefing.

Bill Walsh: And that’s fantastic news. So just before you joined, Dr. Collins was talking about the upcoming Thanksgiving holidays and the holiday season. And we know that, you know, people, family gatherings, weddings tend to proliferate the COVID-19. Is it safe to get together with family this time of year? And what precautions should people be taking?

Anthony Fauci: Well, the CDC has a very nice description of these types of recommendations on their website, but let me just outline for you. The critical issue is that you need to keep your pod, your group, as small as you possibly can, and the recommendation is that you don’t have people with you that don’t live with you. In other words, that’s going to be a lot of curtailment of plans and travel about family that comes in from outside. If family does come in from outside, you should make sure they understand, were they with people that were not part of their immediate family. So the recommendation is, if at all possible, you should do what I just heard Dr. Collins say he’s going to be doing. And, in fact, I’m doing exactly the same thing that Dr. Collins is doing. I have three adult daughters who live in cities far afield from each other — three different cities, West Coast, East Coast, South — and we’ve decided, my daughters have decided, that they would not want to take the risk to come in and infect me, their father, who falls under the class, if I might say, of an elderly person who’s at a risk. So rather than do the complications of trying to quarantine or trying to get a test right before, we’ve made a decision, as the Collins and Baker family have made, that we’re going to have a quiet dinner with ourselves, put the Zoom on and chat with our children as we’re having a dinner, they’re in their different cities, and all together. So as I’ve always said to the general public, each individual family needs to make their own individual decision based on a risk-benefit determination, namely, you have someone in the family who is coming, who is an elderly person or a person with an underlying condition. If that person does not live in your home, we recommend strongly that you do not do that and you curtail it for this season.

Bill Walsh: Okay, thank you for that advice. Let’s, it’s time now to address more of your questions about the coronavirus with Dr. Francis Collins and Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health. As a reminder, press *3 on your telephone keypad to be connected with an AARP staff person to share your question. Jean, who do we have on the line right now?

Jean Setzfand: Our next caller is Mary from Texas.

Bill Walsh: Hey, Mary, go ahead with your question.

Mary: Hello, Dr. Fauci. My question is, I’ve never taken the flu shot and my doctor wants me to take the flu shot. Should I wait until the shot comes over in Texas for the virus and just take the virus instead of the flu shot?

Bill Walsh: Dr. Fauci, do you want to tackle that?

Anthony Fauci: Yeah, sure. It’s not one or the other ma’am. What you need to do is get your flu shot no matter what. Flu shots are now available in virtually all the pharmacies. So what I recommend that you do is you get your flu shot now, as soon as you can. We had recommended that people get their flu shots before the end of October but it’s not too late at all to get your flu shot now, and I strongly recommend you do. When the vaccine for the COVID-19, the SARS coronavirus, the virus we’re dealing with now, becomes available in your community, you should also get that. You want to be doubly protected from the flu and from coronavirus.

Bill Walsh: Okay, thank you very much. Jean, who is our next caller?

Jean Setzfand: All right, sticking with Texas, we’re going to Evelyn from Texas.

Bill Walsh: Hey, Evelyn, welcome to the program. What is your question?

Evelyn: My question is [inaudible), when they start distributing the shots for like]back in the big cities and because like I am 79 years old, so and I have a lot of medical problems. So I was wondering, worrying about, that it’s going to take a long time for me to get the shot or will there be places that I could go to to get the shot?

Bill Walsh: So, Evelyn, do you live in a rural area of Texas? Is that what you were saying?

Evelyn: Yes.

Bill Walsh: Okay. Dr. Fauci, can you weigh in on that? How accessible do you think the vaccines will be for people not just in cities but in rural areas?

Anthony Fauci: From what I gathered from what I just described as the description that General Perna had given, that there will be widespread distribution to areas like CVS pharmacies and Walgreens pharmacies. So if the caller in question lives anywhere near one of those, what she needs to do is call them up and find out, will they be receiving it. Given what her description of her age and her underlying conditions, she would very likely be among the higher priority of people to get that vaccine sooner rather than later. So if you are able to, get in touch with the local pharmacy and find out if they’re going to be one of the ones. And many of the local physicians are also, even though it’s in a rural area. That was decidedly pointed out by General Perna, that they’re going to try and get a wide distribution.

Bill Walsh: So, how is it going to work? Would somebody like Evelyn who’s 79, who has medical problems expect to get a call from her doctor saying, hey, Evelyn, you’re near the top of the list, or is the onus on her to reach out and find out if she’s been prioritized?

Anthony Fauci: You know, that’s an excellent question, and physicians throughout the country are not uniform in what their approach is to their patients. So you should not count on your physician calling you up and saying, you’re a person who should be getting the vaccine. What you need to do is to take that upon yourself. And, you know, if you are an elderly person, if you have underlying conditions — diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, or what have you, any of the ones — what you might want to do, it’s so easy, you can get onto the CDC website, cdc.gov, and go to “coronavirus” on the search part of the computer, and they could tell you about the underlying conditions. If you’re one of those individuals, you should pursue yourself, either through your physician or through a local pharmacy, such as CVS or Walgreens, to get information of how you can have accessibility to the vaccine.

Bill Walsh: Okay, thank you for that. And thanks for all the questions so far. Remember, to ask a question, please, press *3 on your telephone keypad. We’re certainly hearing a lot of questions about the upcoming holiday and people’s concerns about travel and gathering with families. For even more information about this, safely sharing the holidays with loved ones, please be sure to tune in tonight at 7 p.m. Eastern Time for a special AARP event, “A Caregivers Thanksgiving” with celebrity Chef Andrew Zimmern and AARP Board Chair Annette Franqui. Go to aarp.org/coronavirus for complete details.

            Let’s get back to our experts. You touched on this a moment ago, Dr. Fauci, but you know we’re entering cold and flu season even as the pandemic continues to surge. What is the difference between flu symptoms and those of COVID-19? And if people feel sick, should they get tested for COVID right away or should they consult with their doctor first?

Anthony Fauci: Well, that’s a very good question. The early parts of the, both the influenza and COVID are what we call flu-like symptoms. You have myalgias or muscle aches, you might have a fever, you might have fatigue, you might have a bit of a cough. The difference between the two is that there is one sign or symptom in a substantial proportion of the people who have the coronavirus; it’s called a loss of the sense of smell and taste. Not in every individual, but in the substantial proportion of the individuals. Now with coronavirus, particularly if you are an elderly person or a person who has an underlying condition, you should be aware that if you have difficulty breathing or you have a shortness of breath, you should immediately contact your physician about the possibility of getting in to be seen and/or get to a hospital. Most people, the overwhelming majority of people, do not get that. But if you do, it’s something you should pay attention to because the first sign of getting into trouble when you have coronavirus — and you could also do that with flu, but it was much less likely to happen to you in flu— but with coronavirus, the issue of the shortness of breath and the difficulty in breathing, you have to bring that to the attention of a physician because you might need oxygen if that, in fact, and you might need hospitalization for a period of time. So it starts off the same, but then one can get considerably worse.

Bill Walsh: Okay, thank you for that, Dr. Fauci. Dr. Collins, let me turn it back to you here for a moment. Nursing home residents and staff make up more than 40 percent, 44 percent of all COVID-19 deaths. What more needs to be done to prevent this tragedy from getting worse?

Francis Collins: Yeah, this is just one of the many heartbreaking parts of this terrible pandemic, which is the way in which right from the very beginning it was particularly hitting hard in nursing homes. And that has been attended to by a lot of steps that we’ve been trying to make to help out, including every nursing home now — there are 15,000 of them in the country — has been sent to the capability of doing testing right there onsite with what you call a point-of-care test made by Becton, Dickinson or by a company called Quidel. And the staff, therefore, as they come in to do their shift can be tested and make sure they’re not bringing the virus into the facility.

            That was working for a while. I have to say, it’s not working so well now in places where there is just a terrible spread of the virus in the community, as is true in the Midwest, particularly the upper Midwest. Nursing homes will also be very high on the list for vaccine distribution, and I imagine that probably got talked about in the meeting that Dr. Fauci just came from because of the very high risk there that the illness can become very serious and even fatal. And that would mean if it’s going to be effective, you would immunize not just the nursing home residents, but also the staff so that you don’t have this bouncing back and forth between the two. And altogether, that would be about 3 million people. But that is one of the considerations high on the list that CDC is wrestling with in terms of where to allocate those first 40 million doses of vaccine in December, assuming we get to that point.

            I just want to say one other thing about the question that was asked about do you get tested if you think you’re developing symptoms? Something we haven’t talked about is that just last week, the FDA did grant emergency use authorization for a treatment, which is called a monoclonal antibody, for people who are infected but are not in the hospital, as a way of trying to prevent them from having to go to the hospital. And this was particularly targeted towards older individuals or people with chronic illnesses or a significant obesity. This is a monoclonal antibody from a company called Lilly. It’s similar to the one that the president was given when he was taken ill. And this now is available, albeit in somewhat limited supply, and again, the exact time where it would be most beneficial is before you get really sick. So somebody who has tested positive, who currently has only moderate symptoms, this would be a great moment to let your provider know, hey, I think I might be a good candidate for a monoclonal antibody, and those are now getting out there as of the last week in moderate numbers of doses for people who might benefit from them, because if we can keep people out of the hospital, that’s a really good thing right now.

Bill Walsh: Well, that’s great news. Thank you for that, Dr. Collins. Let’s take more of your questions live with Drs. Collins and Fauci. A reminder, please press *3 on your telephone keypad to be connected with an AARP staff member. Jean, who do we have next on the line?

Jean Setzfand: Our next caller is Evelyn from Massachusetts.

Bill Walsh: Hey, Evelyn. Thanks for joining us today. Go ahead with your question.

Evelyn: Yes, thank you for taking my question. I heard this morning that Oxford has announced a new vaccine that it shows more promise for effective for people 70-plus. And my question is what makes a vaccine more effective than the other vaccines? Is it in the ingredients themselves, or what is the difference from the other vaccines? And the other part of my question is, when these vaccines become available and if there are differences, will we be able to choose which company we want it from because one may be better for us than the other. Thank you.

Bill Walsh: Thank you. Two really good questions there. Dr. Fauci, do you want to talk about that? Try to not dive too much into the science in explaining why certain vaccines may be more effective for older people.

Anthony Fauci: Well, yes, that’s an excellent question. And in fact, in general, vaccines like influenza are less effective in the elderly because the elderly generally have an immune system that is not as robust and powerful as when that same person was maybe decades younger. With influenza, they generally command a higher dose of a vaccine to make up that difference. We do not know, other than that, why one vaccine versus another vaccine might actually be good for the elderly. One promising thing that has occurred is that in the preliminary testing of the coronavirus vaccines, the Moderna and the Pfizer, that both of them have shown an interesting and surprising, very nice response in elderly individuals, which you don’t usually see with vaccines in general. I’m not sure what the AstraZeneca people are talking about when they say “better” in the elderly. I think what they meant was they’re seeing the same thing as is being seen with Pfizer and Moderna, that you can’t say it’s better because you haven’t really compared it to anything. What they likely meant is that to their surprise, the response was good in elderly, which is very good news for all elderly people, including myself, that these vaccines seem to induce a pretty good response.

            Now, with regard to your answer about which vaccine becomes available and which one should you take: Right now, we have two available that are highly efficacious. If that becomes available in your location, I recommend you take that. If another one comes out, it’s really going to depend on how efficacious it is. It may be the same, which means it’s available, it doesn’t make any difference what you take, or if the efficacy is significantly less — I can’t imagine it’s going to be significantly more than 95 percent — then you make the choice there. But I think you should take what gets available in your location, which likely a first shot will be either Moderna or Pfizer.

Bill Walsh: Okay, thank you for that. Jean, who is next on the line?

Jean Setzfand: Our next caller is Beverly from Massachusetts.

Bill Walsh: Hey, Beverly, welcome to the show. Go ahead with your question.

Beverly: Thank you. Dr. Collins, Dr. Fauci, both a pleasure and an honor to be speaking with you directly. I would like to know, I have a few people that I know in my life that have contracted the coronavirus and have, in fact, recovered from it with very few— well, let’s put it this way, they didn’t become long-haulers. They seem to have gotten over it pretty well. So when the time comes for vaccines, should people like that rely more on their own natural antibodies to help them, and should they become like maybe secondary in terms of getting a vaccine? Or would they probably not be in the running for a vaccine? Or would they have to have their antibodies levels tested before? I know it’s kind a wide range of things, but I was wondering, you know, how that might work.

Bill Walsh: Right. Dr. Fauci, do you want to tackle that? Somebody who has had COVID and seemed to have recovered. Should they get vaccinated?

Anthony Fauci: Well, actually in vaccine trial, to our surprise, we found that individuals who actually were in the vaccine trial, that evidenced that they had been exposed previously and had been infected, and they were included in the trial. So we have some data on that. The short answer to the caller’s question is that prior infection does not preclude you from getting vaccinated because you don’t know what the duration of protection is from natural infection. Where those people would fit in the prioritization is going to depend on the recommendation from the CDC through the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. But you should not think that just because you have documented infection in the past with coronavirus, that you should not take the vaccine. You should be eligible for and take the vaccine, whether or not you had been previously infected.

Bill Walsh: Very good. Thank you for that. Let’s take a couple more questions. Jean, who is next on the line?

Jean Setzfand: Our next caller is Althea from North Carolina.

Bill Walsh: Hey, Althea, go ahead with your question.

Althea: I have a question; first of all, thank you to Dr. Collins and Dr. Fauci for all of the hard work that you’re doing on our behalf. It’s sort of a two-part question. The first part is, given the lack of transparency and lack of trust in minority communities as well as the lack of access to health care, what strategies are being used to get persons involved with, perhaps considering to get, the vaccine? And the second part has to do with plasma. I’ve been a plasma donor for years now, and I have type O blood, type O positive, and was just wondering if that factors into the vaccine or the treatment, and if so, how so?

Bill Walsh: Do you mean, what does the efficacy of the vaccine, is it affected by your blood type? Is that what you’re asking? It sounds like we’ve lost her. Well, Dr. Fauci, do you want to talk about what is being done to contend with the skepticism about the vaccine development process? Dr. Collins had talked about this a little bit earlier. Dr. Fauci?

Anthony Fauci: Yes, I’m sorry. I was on, typically on mute the way most people— no, I was saying that I’m sure that Dr. Collins mentioned to you that, you know, he and I are very heavily involved in a process of what we call outreach to the community. And there are a number of individuals at the NIH level and beyond that are taking a special effort to outreach to the community, particularly persons of color, brown and Black people who, as you know, have a higher degree of incidence of infection as well as complications associated with coronavirus. One of the things that we tried to do is that we tried to make sure that on the vaccine trials, particularly the Moderna trial, that there was an adequate representation in the trial of a diverse group of people, including minorities, so that when the trial was finished, which it is ,and is efficacious, which it is, we can say that it is efficacious across all subgroups and to get the African American and Latino community to realize that this vaccine is safe and effective for you. But you have to put a lot of effort to get that outreach. That’s extraordinarily important.

Bill Walsh: Yeah. And as to Althea’s second question, does somebody’s blood type matter in terms of how effective a vaccine might be?

Francis Collins: Yeah, this is Francis Collins. I don’t think we have any evidence that at the present time, there’s a correlation there in terms of vaccine responsiveness. There is a report, which looks like it’s holding up in a replication study, that your blood type has something to do with your likelihood of getting very severe disease from COVID-19. They basically looked at people who ended up in the ICU and found that more of them had type A blood, compared to those who did relatively well. So a type A may be at risk; type O might be actually a benefit to you if you happen to be of that blood type. But it’s a rather modest effect. Nobody with type O blood should assume that they don’t have to worry about this virus. It’s just a slight modifier. That’s about all I know, as far as blood type in COVID-19.

Bill Walsh: All right. Thank you for that. Dr. Collins. Jean, who is our next caller?

Jean Setzfand: Our next caller is Renee from Florida.

Bill Walsh: Hey, Renee, welcome to the program. And go ahead with your question.

Renee: Thank you. And thank you, Dr. Collins and Dr. Fauci for all of your hard work. We really so appreciate it. The question is, obviously as senior citizens and many living in Florida, we pretty much all are on some type of hypertensive medication or diabetes medication, some type of medication. Is there any contraindication between the medication that you’re on and taking the vaccine?

Bill Walsh: Dr. Collins, do you want to tackle that one?

Francis Collins: I’m not aware of any of those potential interactions. Maybe Dr. Fauci could comment, but I think at the moment it ought to be pretty safe, and in fact, we particularly want the vaccine to be accessible to people with chronic diseases, most of whom are going to be on medications. Tony?

Anthony Fauci: Yeah, Francis, that is quite true, there’s no indication at all. There was some early report that people with hypertension who were taking ACE-inhibitor antihypertensive drugs, because of the impact of that on various expressions of receptors could have been at maybe a greater risk, but that has proven not to be the case. So if you are a hypertensive person and you have antihypertensive medications, you should not worry about it nor modify your medication. There is no indication that any of the medications for the common conditions — diabetes, hypertension, congestive heart failure, or what have you — none of these appear to have any deleterious effect on either the disease itself or the response to the disease.

Bill Walsh: Okay, well, thank you Dr. Collins and Dr. Fauci. We could talk to you all day, but we know you’re both busy gentlemen. We want to thank you for joining us today. We wonder if you have any closing thoughts or recommendations that people should understand most from our conversation today? Dr. Collins?

Francis Collins: Well, first of all, just certainly to encourage everybody to stay the course and even double down on the steps that we all need to take while we’re waiting for the vaccines to become available broadly, and ultimately to get us past this pandemic. Right now, it’s up to all of us to practice those three W’s that I talked about in terms of wearing your mask, watching your distance, washing your hands — avoiding indoor gatherings being another one to add to that list. And again, I think you should probably prepare to keep track of what’s happening here in terms of the vaccine availability, and Dr. Fauci already mentioned the CDC website is a great place to go and look, as well as staying in touch with your care providers and your local pharmacies, but I would bet AARP could also be a really good place for this kind of information to be regularly updated. So, glad to be part of this conversation with an organization that’s done a lot to get this kind of information in front of people who are looking for it.

Bill Walsh: Thank you so much, Dr. Collins. Dr. Fauci, any closing thoughts or recommendations?

Anthony Fauci: Yes, reiterating what Dr. Francis Collins said, it’s very important that we don’t give up on this and feel frustrated. It’s obviously, it’s inconvenient, particularly as you get to the point of the holidays. Everyone wants to be with their loved ones. Just keep in mind help is on the way with the vaccine. That should motivate us to double down even more and keep ourselves safe. The best way to show your love for your relatives and your friends and your family is to keep yourself safe. So that’s really the wish that Francis and I, and all of us at NIH have for all of the people who fall into the category of AARP, including me and Francis. So stay safe and stay well.

Bill Walsh: Okay, thank you both for answering all our questions. It was a delight to have you here today and to take questions from our listeners. This has been a really informative discussion. And thank you, our AARP members, volunteers and listeners, for participating in the discussion. AARP, a nonprofit, nonpartisan member organization has been working to promote the health and well-being of older Americans for more than 60 years. In the face of this crisis, we’re providing information and resources to help older adults and those caring for them protect themselves from the virus, prevent its spread to others, while taking care of themselves.

            All of the resources referenced today, including a recording of today’s Q&A event can be found at aarp.org/coronavirus starting tomorrow, November 20th. Again, that web address is aarp.org/coronavirus. Go there if your question was not answered and you will find the latest updates as well as information created specifically for older adults and family caregivers. We hope you learned something that can help keep you and your loved ones healthy this holiday season. Please be sure to tune in tonight at 7 p.m. Eastern Time for a special AARP event, “A Caregiver’s Thanksgiving” with Chef Andrew Zimmern and AARP Board Chair Annette Franqui. You can find that event at aarp.org/coronavirus. Thank you and have a good day. This concludes our call. 

The Doctors Are In: Vaccines and Staying Safe During the Holidays

Bill Walsh:  Hello. I am AARP Vice President Bill Walsh, and I want to welcome you to this important discussion about the coronavirus. AARP, a nonprofit, nonpartisan member organization has been working to promote the health and well-being of older Americans for more than 60 years. In the face of the global coronavirus pandemic, AARP is providing information and resources to help older adults and those caring for them. As we know, the holidays are approaching as the pandemic surges in many parts of the country, casting a cloud over what is normally a time for family and celebration. With colder weather upon us and the beginnings of cold and flu season, Americans are entering a dangerous new phase of the pandemic. At the same time, there are signs of hope as progress is being made with vaccines.

[00:00:54] Today, we have two special guests from the front lines of the pandemic and vaccine development, Dr. Francis Collins and Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health. If you’ve participated in one of our tele-town halls before, you know this is similar to a radio talk show, and you have the opportunity to ask questions live. And Drs. Collins and Fauci will be joining us shortly to take those questions. For those of you joining on the phone, please press *3 on your telephone keypad to be connected with an AARP staff member who will note your name and question and place you in a queue to ask that question live. If you’re joining on Facebook or YouTube, please post your question in the comments.

[00:01:38] Hello, if you’re just joining, I’m Bill Walsh with AARP, and I want to welcome you to this important discussion about the global coronavirus pandemic. We’re talking with leading experts and taking your questions live. To ask your question, please press *3 on your telephone keypad. And if you’re joining on Facebook or YouTube, you can post your question in the comments. As I mentioned, we have two renowned experts joining us today to answer your questions about the coronavirus. Francis Collins, M.D., director of the National Institutes of Health and Anthony Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health. We also will be joined by my AARP colleague, Jean Setzfand, who will help facilitate your calls today.

[00:02:30] Drs. Collins and Fauci will be joining us shortly, but I’d now like to bring on Nancy LeaMond, AARP’s chief advocacy and engagement officer. Nancy oversees AARP’s work to fight for and educate AARP members through national, state and local campaign efforts. Welcome, Nancy.

[00:02:51]Nancy LeaMond:  Hi, Bill, thanks for having me.

[00:02:53]Bill Walsh:  All right, thanks for being here. Nancy, we’re eight months into the pandemic. Can you share a little about the progress AARP has made in fighting for older Americans who are disproportionately affected by the pandemic?

[00:03:07]Nancy LeaMond:  Sure. From the start of the pandemic, AARP advocates across the country have been hard at work for our members, fighting for resources and support to help them protect their health, their pocketbooks and their families. Bill, I appreciate the chance to share a few of them with you. First, in the spring when Congress was debating a stimulus package, we fought to ensure that Americans whose primary source of income is Social Security, SSI and veterans benefits, receive stimulus payments of up to $1,200. And they would not have to file any additional paperwork to receive the payment. This was a critical win for older adults at a time when many were seeing retirement balances drop off and struggling economically.

[00:03:58] Second, we have pushed for lawmakers and regulators to address the tragedy playing out in America’s nursing homes and long-term care facilities. More than 91,000 residents and staff have died from COVID-19 in these facilities. It remains a dire situation, and we fought on the federal and state levels for more supplies, more resources for residents and staff, and more support, connection and transparency for family members. We’ve also worked to ensure that nursing homes are held accountable for their actions. Our advocacy has led to progress at the state and federal levels, but there is much left to be done. And this tragedy is continuing to play out in nursing homes across the country. As we speak, we’re calling on federal and state leaders to pass urgent legislation, which includes AARP’s plan to provide more support to the people who live and work in nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

[00:05:03] Third, during this crisis we have fought in Washington, D.C., state capitals and communities across the country to ensure that lawmakers and regulators take the steps they have to to address racial disparities that have been exposed by the pandemic. We’ve called for federal policies, and AARP state offices in places like New York, Michigan, Massachusetts, South Carolina and New Jersey have worked to ensure more racial and ethnic data collection, outreach and testing for people of color as starting points for addressing disparities. We’ve also pushed for funding for vaccine research, worked to expand unemployment insurance benefits, as well as paid family and sick leave. And we’ve stood up for the most vulnerable seniors by helping to secure increased funding for critical programs to ensure people have access to food.

[00:05:58] This work has happened in Washington, D.C., and through AARP’s state offices nationwide. It would not be possible without the phone calls, emails and actions from AARP members, volunteers and older adults across the country. And we appreciate all that help. AARP has also worked diligently to help people 50-plus gain access to experts through nearly 400 virtual events, which have engaged more than 4 million people across the country, just like this one today. These events have connected older Americans directly to experts to get the answers they need. And today we are especially pleased to have Dr. Francis Collins and Dr. Anthony Fauci, two preeminent infectious disease experts, with us to answer our questions. These are just a few of the ways that we’re working for older adults, and as more information comes out about vaccines and other developments, we are committed to continue to fight for and provide information to all of our members.

[00:07:04]Bill Walsh:  Okay, Nancy, thank you so much for providing that update, and thanks for being with us today.

[00:07:09]Nancy LeaMond:  Thank you, Bill.

[00:07:10]Bill Walsh:  I understand that we now have Dr. Francis Collins on the line with us, director of the National Institutes of Health. Let’s go ahead and bring him on. Again, to ask your question, please press *3 at any time on your telephone keypad to be connected with an AARP staff member, or if you’re joining on Facebook or YouTube, place your question in the comments section. Dr. Collins, welcome. Thanks for being here with us today.

[00:07:37]Francis Collins:  Thank you, Bill. I’m very glad to join you, and the folks who have called in for this AARP discussion about the coronavirus topic, which is consuming a hundred hours a week for me, and has been ever since January. I’m speaking to you from my home office in Chevy Chase, Maryland, which is where I’m running a $42 billion a year organization called the National Institutes of Health. But happy to have a chance to share what I know.

[00:08:04] I should let you know, Dr. Fauci was pulled into a very last-minute, high-level, urgent meeting, and he’ll be joining us probably about 1:30 Eastern Time. So I guess I think of myself now as kind of like the opener in the rock concert. And Mick Jagger, aka Tony Fauci, will join you in a little bit, and we can figure out how to do that handoff, but pretty much, he and I are linked at the hip here in terms of everything about COVID-19. We speak multiple times a day and almost every night as well. So anything you want to throw at me, I think you’ll probably get a similar answer as you would get from Tony. So let’s do it.

[00:08:41]Bill Walsh:  Okay. All right. Well, I know our listeners are anxious to hear from both of you, and so let’s dive right in. Just a reminder, to ask your question, please press *3 on your telephone keypad or drop it in the comments section on Facebook or YouTube.

[00:08:56] So, Dr. Collins, we’re seeing positive news recently about the vaccine development process. When can we expect a vaccine to be available for anyone in the country who wants to take it and, when one is available, who’s likely to get it first?

[00:09:12]Francis Collins:  Well, everybody wants to know the answer to that, believe me. It’s the thing I get asked most commonly. First of all, let me say it has been an exhilarating 10 days scientifically to see the results of these large-scale, so-called phase 3 trials for two different vaccines, the first two to come through that set of tests — one from Pfizer and one from a company called Moderna. And both of them, in the course of the last 10 days, releasing information that shows that the vaccine, when tested in tens of thousands of people, had efficacy above 90 percent, probably closer to 95 percent for both of them. This is breathtakingly good, and I think most of us, were hoping we’d see efficacy maybe 70 percent and 75 percent. To see 95 percent is incredibly reassuring and exciting and promising for the future.

[00:10:08] Now let’s be clear. This is data which now the FDA will need to look at in great detail, both in terms of the efficacy and also the safety, and both of these seem to have a very good safety record so far, but FDA is going to look at all of that as well. And then there will be a public discussion about what they have learned, coming up in probably the first week or second week of December after which they will make a decision about whether to grant an emergency use authorization to one or both of these vaccines. And I would say right now, the chances of that look pretty good.

[00:10:44] So at that point, once there is this so-called EUA, it becomes possible to start to administer doses of these vaccines to the highest risk people. In December there should be about 40 million doses ready to go, because Operation Warp Speed actually invested in doing the manufacturing even before knowing if the vaccines were going to work, because we didn’t want to have a long gap there waiting when this is such a serious situation in our country. Forty million doses isn’t 40 million people though. That’s 20 million people because both of these vaccines require two doses separated by three or four weeks. So 20 million people probably before the end of this year, if we can get the distribution all worked out, will be immunized, and we have to pick very carefully how that is going to be done, and that’s part of the CDC’s decision-making that’s already getting underway.

[00:11:42] Obviously, you want to go to the highest risk people. So that will be particularly those who are elderly, who have chronic illnesses, health care providers, people in nursing homes, other critical staff, and there aren’t going to be enough doses to handle everybody in those categories in December. So there’ll be some challenging decisions to make for that first month. But then, things will start to happen. January, February, there will be another 40 or 50 million doses each of those months, maybe even more starting in about March when other vaccines get their chance to get reviewed and have their own manufacturing plan.

[00:12:21] Bottom line is, I would say by the spring, people who are not in one of those high-risk groups will start also to have the chance to get access. We’ve got to start with the high-risk groups first, and by the summer, let’s hope for around July or so, maybe our country, assuming everybody’s willing to take the vaccine, which is another issue, should be able to get access.

[00:12:45]Bill Walsh:  Right, well thanks for that update. And you mentioned the speed in which everyone’s been moving to get a vaccine approved and the emergency use authorization process. Maybe you can talk a little bit about that. What is the difference between an emergency use authorization for a vaccine and regular FDA approval? And should the public be concerned about the safety of a vaccine that’s gone through an emergency use authorization?

[00:13:14]Francis Collins:  Yeah, it’s a great question. And, of course, what we are trying to do here is to balance the process that is normally followed, which could take as long as eight years, and, in fact, that’s the usual timetable for a new vaccine, in the face of what is clearly the worst pandemic that our planet has seen in 102 years. The emergency use authorization is still extremely rigorous. Let nobody try to tell you that this is cutting corners. What is different between this and a full authorization is basically two things. One is the detail that the FDA requires in terms of the manufacturing, which is a lot of information, is not quite as demanding for the emergency use authorization, but that is probably more of a technical question. The other is just the timetable over which we’ve been able to look for any kind of safety signal. With an emergency use authorization, FDA says you’ve got to have two months of follow-up on at least half the people in the trial who got the vaccine to see if there were any unexpected side effects. They will have that, but for a full authorization, you’d want a longer period of follow-up, several more months. To wait though for that when there are people dying, and when we think this vaccine could save maybe hundreds of thousands of lives doesn’t seem like the right thing either. So those are the two main differences. For me, I would say the way in which FDA is treating this emergency use authorization is extremely rigorous and should provide a lot of confidence that this is something you can trust.

[00:14:53]Bill Walsh:  Okay, thank you for that. Let me follow up on the development process. You mentioned Moderna, it’s another company with a promising vaccine, and it looks like 23 percent of their trial participants were age 65 or older. Pfizer tells us that 48 percent of its enrollees were between the ages of 56 and 85. What can you say about the effectiveness of the vaccine on older and more vulnerable populations, given the composition of the trials?

[00:15:27]Francis Collins:  I think it’s pretty encouraging. For both of the trials, for Pfizer and Moderna, the protection against illness was 95 percent and of course that includes a large swath of individuals, including older individuals on that same group. So it is looking to be the case that both of these vaccines actually work really well in older individuals. Let me just say, that is what we hoped for based on earlier studies, which were looking at the level of antibodies that are generated by these vaccines. That’s usually a pretty good predictor. There are other vaccines for other illnesses where, when you look at the antibody production in older people, it’s not as good as in young people for reasons that I don’t understand, but I’m really happy to see. Both of these COVID vaccines seem to generate just as good antibodies in people over 65, as in people in their 20s. And that’s really encouraging. So we are looking pretty good here. I mean being able to say this is really going to work for older people.

[00:16:35]Bill Walsh:  We all could use some good news.

[00:16:37]Francis Collins:  Yeah, couldn’t we.

[00:16:39]Bill Walsh:  Well let’s go to our listeners. It’s now time to address their questions about the coronavirus with Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health; Dr. Anthony Fauci will be joining us shortly. As a reminder, press *3 at any time on your telephone keypad to be connected with an AARP staff member to share your question. I’d now like to bring in my AARP colleague Jean Setzfand to help facilitate your calls. Welcome, Jean.

[00:17:10]Jean Setzfand:  Thanks, Bill. Delighted to be here.

[00:17:12]Bill Walsh:  All right, let’s take our first question.

[00:17:15]Jean Setzfand:  Our first question is coming from New Hampshire. This is Gene from New Hampshire.

[00:17:18]Bill Walsh:  Hey, Gene. Thanks for joining us today. Go ahead with your question for Dr. Collins. Hey, Gene, go ahead with your question.

[00:17:30]Gene:  Hi, Pfizer and Moderna both seem to work, but they have very different refrigeration requirements. Why is that?

[00:17:44]Francis Collins:  Great question, yeah, that’s a great question. Pfizer’s vaccine is going to be challenging in terms of distribution because it has to be kept at extremely cold temperatures, about minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit, until it’s ready to be administered, because otherwise it doesn’t stay active the way it needs to. And there are a lot of places that will not have freezers that can keep that kind of low temperature. Big cities will, but in a rural environment, that will be more challenging to find the equipment. Pfizer’s worked really hard to try to set up that distribution network. Moderna on the other hand, even though the platforms, as we call it, the technology is similar to Pfizer, their vaccine is much more amenable to just being kept in a regular freezer like you have in your kitchen. It’s stable there for six months. You can put it in the refrigerator, a part of your kitchen, and it’d be stable there for a month, and you can put it out on the counter, and it’ll be all right for 12 hours. So it’s going to be much easier to deal with that. And even though both of these vaccines are based on something called messenger RNA, they have different ways of kind of packaging that messenger RNA into something that’s going to be delivered by putting a little envelope around it of a certain kind of fatty molecule. And for reasons that I don’t entirely understand, the Pfizer version is much more sensitive to getting warmed up too soon. So it is going to be an issue, and it’s a good thing we have both of these, and so the distribution, which is being heavily talked about right now, is going to need to factor in the need for this kind of a cold chain.

[00:19:28]Bill Walsh:  Sure, okay, thank you for that. Jean, who is our next caller?

[00:19:32]Jean Setzfand:  Our next caller is Megan from North Carolina.

[00:19:36]Bill Walsh:  Hey, Megan. Welcome to the show. Go ahead with your question for Dr. Collins.

[00:19:40]Megan:  Hello, Doctor, thank you for all your hard work and time. My question is, in regards to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, what are your thoughts about any additional risk, if any, versus benefit for specifically the immunosuppressed or immunocompromised senior population and their caregivers?

[00:20:00]Francis Collins:  Another great question. So in terms of the elderly, who are just by their nature of being over 65, like I am, maybe less likely to have a bigger immune response, we’re pretty reassured by what I described a minute ago, that antibodies do get generated to these vaccines quite efficiently, even in older people. If somebody’s actually immunocompromised as, for instance, somebody who’s being treated for cancer and is on chemotherapy which can suppress your immune system, it does not seem that these vaccines would present a higher risk, because they are not live virus. In fact, there’s nothing about either of these vaccines that could possibly cause an infection. Basically, they are just causing the body to synthesize a little bit of a coat protein, that so-called spike protein. So there’s no risk of making somebody ill from the vaccine itself. It would be, however, a concern about whether the immune system would be able to respond effectively if it’s already suppressed by chemotherapy. We are discussing beginning to try small trials on immunosuppressed people to see how big an issue that might be, but we haven’t gotten those going quite yet.

[00:21:13]Bill Walsh:  Okay, thank you for that question, Megan. Jean, who is our next caller?

[00:21:19]Jean Setzfand:  Our next caller is Elliot from Nashville.

[00:21:22]Bill Walsh:  Hey, Elliot, go ahead with your question for Dr. Collins.

[00:21:27]Elliot:  Hi, and thank you, Dr. Collins. I have, it’s a bit of a two-parter. Can you determine at this point, how long immunity may last on average for those vaccinated with either the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, and part two is, when do we anticipate results will be published in a peer-reviewed publication versus learning about them via the media?

[00:21:47]Francis Collins:  Two very good questions. You guys ask great questions.

[00:21:50]Bill Walsh:  I’m telling you, our listeners are sharp.

[00:21:53]Francis Collins:  They are sharp. Well, how long will the immunity last? That is the big question that we all wish we had answers to. And, of course, we’re counting on following people who did get naturally infected with COVID-19 over time to see what their antibodies do. And there’ve been a number of publications that initially were a little troubling and making it look as if those antibody levels dropped rather quickly. Later publications, including some just in the last couple of days, do seem to show that they may go down a bit, but they still stay in a pretty good place for many people for months at a time. And perhaps as an indication of that, we only know of about three or four well-documented examples for somebody who had COVID-19 back in the spring got reinfected. Now, that’s not enough for me to tell you that you can go around without a mask and do whatever you please if you happened to have COVID previously, ’cause we don’t know that for sure, but it does look as if there’s pretty good protective immunity from what we know. And if that’s the case for natural infection, you would expect there to be some relationship there in terms of the duration of immunity that you would get from the vaccine. But that’s going to take, actually, a lot of studies to see.

[00:23:07] Simply measuring antibodies that are floating around in your bloodstream is not necessarily telling you what you want to know about that person’s ability to fight off the virus if they see it again, because there’s such a thing as T-cells, so-called cell-mediated immunity, which might be just as important, but it’s not as easy to measure. So frankly, we kind of don’t know. Based on what we know about other coronaviruses like SARS and MERS and the common cold, it could be that this is an immunity that will last for a few years, or, it’s unlikely to last a lifetime. So we should think about this as maybe in the same zone as a tetanus shot, where you might need a booster or going forward. If we’re lucky, it would be like measles, where once you’re immune you’re immune for life, but that would be really lucky. So, even as we’re thinking about the acute challenge we have right now, think about where this is going. This particular virus is probably not just going to disappear, and we’re probably going to have to think about how to keep people immunized going forward, maybe with booster shots.

[00:24:13] Your question about when are you going to see the data in a peer-reviewed journal? Well, for me as the director of NIH, that’s a question that I’m usually asking when I see a press release. So I’m glad you’re asking it, too. I think the companies that are doing this are, in fact, highly motivated because they’re really proud of the data that they’ve generated, and the journals very much want to publish it as well. So I think you will see from both Pfizer and from Moderna publications, probably within the next month or so, that lay out all the details of how the study was designed and what the results will look like.

[00:24:46]Bill Walsh:  Very good. Thanks for that, Dr. Collins. Jean, who is our next caller?

[00:24:50]Jean Setzfand:  Our next caller is Raymond from Virginia.

[00:24:53]Bill Walsh:  Hey, Raymond, go ahead with your question.

[00:24:56]Raymond:  Thank you, Dr. Collins. Actually you’ve answered my questions ’cause I, about when it’s probably going to be available. I’m 90 with lung problems. I think you’ve answered it. Thank you.

[00:25:10]Francis Collins:  Okay. Certainly older folks, especially those with chronic illnesses, they will be high on the list, but I can’t tell you exactly how that priority is going to be set. That’s going to be up to CDC. They have their advisory committee on immunization practices that is very experienced at doing this, and that’s what they’re doing right now.

[00:25:28]Bill Walsh:  Well, actually, Raymond brings up another interesting point. I mean, for the consumer who may have existing chronic illnesses, what questions should they be asking themselves before they take a vaccine, even if it’s offered to them?

[00:25:44]Francis Collins:  Well, certainly ought to be asking what’s the data about safety and efficacy. Looking at the safety data, again on tens of thousands of people for both of these vaccines, there is kind of the typical acute reactions that you might see with other vaccines: the sore arm, perhaps a low-grade fever, some muscle aches or fatigue for a day or so. There were no severe adverse events that would cause a serious concern. So it’s kind of that typical response could, therefore, make you feel a little puny for the first 24 hours after the injection. But other than that, we don’t know of any serious effects that would need to be factored in. And in terms of the benefits, it looks awfully encouraging. Again, that’s based on tens of thousands of people with quite a range of chronic illnesses and age. So one can imagine that probably applies to each of us as we try to make that decision.

[00:26:46] There should be more data, though, especially after the FDA holds their public meeting coming up in early December. And I think one of the things that I’m going to hope for is that we are successful in getting that information out there to everybody in an easily understandable way. I’m very concerned that polls now suggest as many as half of Americans would not be interested in taking this vaccine because of all the conspiracy theories and other suggestions that this is being managed for political reasons instead of science. None of that’s true. This has been driven absolutely a hundred percent by scientific decision-making, but still with that many people being skeptical, you know what would be really a terrible outcome is we have vaccines that are shown to be really good and yet half of Americans decide not to use them. And then this epidemic could go on and on and on. We need to get about 90 percent of the population immunized if we’re going to basically tell this virus that it’s done.

[00:27:44]Bill Walsh:  Yeah. You’ve put your finger on an important point, the skepticism about the process. I just want to let our listeners know that AARP will be following developments in the vaccine development and approval process very closely and publishing information on a regular basis at aarp.org/coronavirus to try to get the facts to people as soon as possible. Jean, who is our next caller?

[00:28:11]Jean Setzfand:  We have several questions also online with our YouTube listeners. And here’s one from a listener with the initials LAF. Is asking, “How far into the foreseeable future should we expect to have to wear our masks?”

[00:28:27]Francis Collins:  Yeah, that’s another great question. And I know people are tired of all of the restrictions and requirements, but I’m afraid we really, if anything, need to double down right now. The vaccines do represent a light at the end of the tunnel, but the tunnel’s still got a ways to go. We will not reach the point where we have a sufficient number of our population immunized until the spring or even the summer. And until then, the spread of the virus will still be very much possible. And if we want to limit the number of infections and hospitalizations and deaths, it’s still going to be up to all of us to be paying attention to those three W’s: Wear your mask, when you’re outside moving around; certainly watch your distance, that 6-foot distance; wash your hands. To which I would add avoid indoor gatherings; that’s the place where most of the transmissions are happening. And, of course, here we are coming up on Thanksgiving, and I know everybody is wrestling with what they’re going to do for themselves. For my part, my wife and I will have Thanksgiving dinner just by ourselves, the first time in 27 years. We will not be with my daughters and grandkids, but it just isn’t worth taking that risk this time. This is going to be a Thanksgiving that we’ll have maybe next July instead of next week.

[00:29:49]Bill Walsh:  Sure. All right, well, thank you for that, Dr. Collins, and I understand that Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases at NIH is with us now. Welcome to the program, Dr. Fauci. Thanks for being with us.

[00:30:04]Anthony Fauci:  Thank you very much. I really apologize sincerely for not being in there at the beginning. I was at a meeting that I’m sure Dr. Collins either has or we will soon talk about, with the vice president and the secretaries of HHS and DOD talking about the distribution of doses of vaccine throughout the country when they become ready and available to be distributed. So, I’m sorry I wasn’t with you from the beginning, but I’m here now. So thank you for inviting me.

[00:30:33]Francis Collins:  It’s okay, Tony, I explained that I was the warm-up act or maybe the opening rock ’n’ roll group, and now Mick Jagger was going to take the stage, and so here he is, everybody.

[00:30:45]Bill Walsh:  Well, you’ve been played by Brad Pitt on Saturday Night Live, why not Mick Jagger, too, right?

[00:30:50]Francis Collins:  Why not.

[00:30:51]Bill Walsh:  Right. any updates from that meeting, Dr. Fauci, that you can share with our listeners?

[00:30:56]Anthony Fauci:  Well, yes. So the real question is that it’s such a logistic feat when the EUA’s are actually approved — in this case, from the two companies that have the vaccines that have been shown to be highly effective, namely Moderna and Pfizer — how do you get it from the warehouses after they’ve been filled and finished to the individual clinics, hospitals, drugstores, wherever. And Gen. Perna, who is a four-star general in the Army, as part of the DOD component of Operation Warp Speed has been literally working day and night for months together with the CDC to work out the details of that transportation and delivery.

[00:31:43] The interesting thing is that one of the things that everyone gets concerned about is that the Pfizer product requires a cold chain that is rather profound, namely, it’s something like minus 70 degrees Celsius, so minus 90 degrees Fahrenheit. And everyone asks the appropriate question: How the heck are you going to do that, because not every single clinic or drugstore or what have you— and he worked out the details of how they’re going to get it from plane to truck to machine. So listening to the general describe it, if it works out the way he says, this is going to be something that’s going to be just doable.

[00:32:22] Of course, the Moderna product as some of you may know, can be stored for a considerable period of time in a regular freezer and in a refrigerator like you have in your home for 30 days, and outside at room temperature for 12 hours. So one of the products is easier from a logistics standpoint, but we were assured in the briefing of the vice president that both of the products will be able to be delivered and implemented appropriately. So it was a good briefing.

[00:32:56]Bill Walsh:  And that’s fantastic news. So just before you joined, Dr. Collins was talking about the upcoming Thanksgiving holidays and the holiday season. And we know that, you know, people, family gatherings, weddings tend to proliferate the COVID-19. Is it safe to get together with family this time of year? And what precautions should people be taking?

[00:33:25]Anthony Fauci:  Well, the CDC has a very nice description of these types of recommendations on their website, but let me just outline for you. The critical issue is that you need to keep your pod, your group, as small as you possibly can, and the recommendation is that you don’t have people with you that don’t live with you. In other words, that’s going to be a lot of curtailment of plans and travel about family that comes in from outside. If family does come in from outside, you should make sure they understand, were they with people that were not part of their immediate family. So the recommendation is, if at all possible, you should do what I just heard Dr. Collins say he’s going to be doing. And, in fact, I’m doing exactly the same thing that Dr. Collins is doing. I have three adult daughters who live in cities far afield from each other — three different cities, West Coast, East Coast, South — and we’ve decided, my daughters have decided, that they would not want to take the risk to come in and infect me, their father, who falls under the class, if I might say, of an elderly person who’s at a risk. So rather than do the complications of trying to quarantine or trying to get a test right before, we’ve made a decision, as the Collins and Baker family have made, that we’re going to have a quiet dinner with ourselves, put the Zoom on and chat with our children as we’re having a dinner, they’re in their different cities, and all together. So as I’ve always said to the general public, each individual family needs to make their own individual decision based on a risk-benefit determination, namely, you have someone in the family who is coming, who is an elderly person or a person with an underlying condition. If that person does not live in your home, we recommend strongly that you do not do that and you curtail it for this season.

[00:35:29]Bill Walsh:  Okay, thank you for that advice. Let’s, it’s time now to address more of your questions about the coronavirus with Dr. Francis Collins and Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health. As a reminder, press *3 on your telephone keypad to be connected with an AARP staff person to share your question. Jean, who do we have on the line right now?

[00:35:54]Jean Setzfand:  Our next caller is Mary from Texas.

[00:35:57]Bill Walsh:  Hey, Mary, go ahead with your question.

[00:35:59]Mary:  Hello, Dr. Fauci. My question is, I’ve never taken the flu shot and my doctor wants me to take the flu shot. Should I wait until the shot comes over in Texas for the virus and just take the virus instead of the flu shot?

[00:36:22]Bill Walsh:  Dr. Fauci, do you want to tackle that?

[00:36:24]Anthony Fauci:  Yeah, sure. It’s not one or the other ma’am. What you need to do is get your flu shot no matter what. Flu shots are now available in virtually all the pharmacies. So what I recommend that you do is you get your flu shot now, as soon as you can. We had recommended that people get their flu shots before the end of October but it’s not too late at all to get your flu shot now, and I strongly recommend you do. When the vaccine for the COVID-19, the SARS coronavirus, the virus we’re dealing with now, becomes available in your community, you should also get that. You want to be doubly protected from the flu and from coronavirus.

[00:37:11]Bill Walsh:  Okay, thank you very much. Jean, who is our next caller?

[00:37:15]Jean Setzfand:  All right, sticking with Texas, we’re going to Evelyn from Texas.

[00:37:19]Bill Walsh:  Hey, Evelyn, welcome to the program. What is your question?

[00:37:23]Evelyn:  My question is [inaudible], when they start distributing the shots for like] back in the big cities and because like I am 79 years old, so and I have a lot of medical problems. So I was wondering, worrying about, that it’s going to take a long time for me to get the shot or will there be places that I could go to to get the shot?

[00:37:48]Bill Walsh:  So, Evelyn, do you live in a rural area of Texas? Is that what you were saying?

[00:37:52]Evelyn:  Yes.

[00:37:53]Bill Walsh:  Okay. Dr. Fauci, can you weigh in on that? How accessible do you think the vaccines will be for people not just in cities but in rural areas?

[00:38:04]Anthony Fauci:  From what I gathered from what I just described as the description that General Perna had given, that there will be widespread distribution to areas like CVS pharmacies and Walgreens pharmacies. So if the caller in question lives anywhere near one of those, what she needs to do is call them up and find out, will they be receiving it. Given what her description of her age and her underlying conditions, she would very likely be among the higher priority of people to get that vaccine sooner rather than later. So if you are able to, get in touch with the local pharmacy and find out if they’re going to be one of the ones. And many of the local physicians are also, even though it’s in a rural area. That was decidedly pointed out by General Perna, that they’re going to try and get a wide distribution.

[00:39:02]Bill Walsh:  So, how is it going to work? Would somebody like Evelyn who’s 79, who has medical problems expect to get a call from her doctor saying, hey, Evelyn, you’re near the top of the list, or is the onus on her to reach out and find out if she’s been prioritized?

[00:39:17]Anthony Fauci:  You know, that’s an excellent question, and physicians throughout the country are not uniform in what their approach is to their patients. So you should not count on your physician calling you up and saying, you’re a person who should be getting the vaccine. What you need to do is to take that upon yourself. And, you know, if you are an elderly person, if you have underlying conditions — diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, or what have you, any of the ones — what you might want to do, it’s so easy, you can get onto the CDC website, cdc.gov, and go to “coronavirus” on the search part of the computer, and they could tell you about the underlying conditions. If you’re one of those individuals, you should pursue yourself, either through your physician or through a local pharmacy, such as CVS or Walgreens, to get information of how you can have accessibility to the vaccine.

[00:40:23]Bill Walsh:  Okay, thank you for that. And thanks for all the questions so far. Remember, to ask a question, please, press *3 on your telephone keypad. We’re certainly hearing a lot of questions about the upcoming holiday and people’s concerns about travel and gathering with families. For even more information about this, safely sharing the holidays with loved ones, please be sure to tune in tonight at 7 p.m. Eastern Time for a special AARP event, “A Caregivers Thanksgiving” with celebrity Chef Andrew Zimmern and AARP Board Chair Annette Franqui. Go to aarp.org/coronavirus for complete details.

[00:41:04] Let’s get back to our experts. You touched on this a moment ago, Dr. Fauci, but you know we’re entering cold and flu season even as the pandemic continues to surge. What is the difference between flu symptoms and those of COVID-19? And if people feel sick, should they get tested for COVID right away or should they consult with their doctor first?

[00:41:30]Anthony Fauci:  Well, that’s a very good question. The early parts of the, both the influenza and COVID are what we call flu-like symptoms. You have myalgias or muscle aches, you might have a fever, you might have fatigue, you might have a bit of a cough. The difference between the two is that there is one sign or symptom in a substantial proportion of the people who have the coronavirus; it’s called a loss of the sense of smell and taste. Not in every individual, but in the substantial proportion of the individuals. Now with coronavirus, particularly if you are an elderly person or a person who has an underlying condition, you should be aware that if you have difficulty breathing or you have a shortness of breath, you should immediately contact your physician about the possibility of getting in to be seen and/or get to a hospital. Most people, the overwhelming majority of people, do not get that. But if you do, it’s something you should pay attention to because the first sign of getting into trouble when you have coronavirus — and you could also do that with flu, but it was much less likely to happen to you in flu— but with coronavirus, the issue of the shortness of breath and the difficulty in breathing, you have to bring that to the attention of a physician because you might need oxygen if that, in fact, and you might need hospitalization for a period of time. So it starts off the same, but then one can get considerably worse.

[00:43:22]Bill Walsh:  Okay, thank you for that, Dr. Fauci. Dr. Collins, let me turn it back to you here for a moment. Nursing home residents and staff make up more than 40 percent, 44 percent of all COVID-19 deaths. What more needs to be done to prevent this tragedy from getting worse?

[00:43:41]Francis Collins:  Yeah, this is just one of the many heartbreaking parts of this terrible pandemic, which is the way in which right from the very beginning it was particularly hitting hard in nursing homes. And that has been attended to by a lot of steps that we’ve been trying to make to help out, including every nursing home now — there are 15,000 of them in the country — has been sent to the capability of doing testing right there onsite with what you call a point-of-care test made by Becton, Dickinson or by a company called Quidel. And the staff, therefore, as they come in to do their shift can be tested and make sure they’re not bringing the virus into the facility.

[00:44:25] That was working for a while. I have to say, it’s not working so well now in places where there is just a terrible spread of the virus in the community, as is true in the Midwest, particularly the upper Midwest. Nursing homes will also be very high on the list for vaccine distribution, and I imagine that probably got talked about in the meeting that Dr. Fauci just came from because of the very high risk there that the illness can become very serious and even fatal. And that would mean if it’s going to be effective, you would immunize not just the nursing home residents, but also the staff so that you don’t have this bouncing back and forth between the two. And altogether, that would be about 3 million people. But that is one of the considerations high on the list that CDC is wrestling with in terms of where to allocate those first 40 million doses of vaccine in December, assuming we get to that point.

[00:45:23] I just want to say one other thing about the question that was asked about do you get tested if you think you’re developing symptoms? Something we haven’t talked about is that just last week, the FDA did grant emergency use authorization for a treatment, which is called a monoclonal antibody, for people who are infected but are not in the hospital, as a way of trying to prevent them from having to go to the hospital. And this was particularly targeted towards older individuals or people with chronic illnesses or a significant obesity. This is a monoclonal antibody from a company called Lilly. It’s similar to the one that the president was given when he was taken ill. And this now is available, albeit in somewhat limited supply, and again, the exact time where it would be most beneficial is before you get really sick. So somebody who has tested positive, who currently has only moderate symptoms, this would be a great moment to let your provider know, hey, I think I might be a good candidate for a monoclonal antibody, and those are now getting out there as of the last week in moderate numbers of doses for people who might benefit from them, because if we can keep people out of the hospital, that’s a really good thing right now.

[00:46:43]Bill Walsh:  Well, that’s great news. Thank you for that, Dr. Collins. Let’s take more of your questions live with Drs. Collins and Fauci. A reminder, please press *3 on your telephone keypad to be connected with an AARP staff member. Jean, who do we have next on the line?

[00:47:02]Jean Setzfand:  Our next caller is Evelyn from Massachusetts.

[00:47:05]Bill Walsh:  Hey, Evelyn. Thanks for joining us today. Go ahead with your question.

[00:47:09]Evelyn:  Yes, thank you for taking my question. I heard this morning that Oxford has announced a new vaccine that it shows more promise for effective for people 70-plus. And my question is what makes a vaccine more effective than the other vaccines? Is it in the ingredients themselves, or what is the difference from the other vaccines? And the other part of my question is, when these vaccines become available and if there are differences, will we be able to choose which company we want it from because one may be better for us than the other. Thank you.

[00:47:50]Bill Walsh:  Thank you. Two really good questions there. Dr. Fauci, do you want to talk about that? Try to not dive too much into the science in explaining why certain vaccines may be more effective for older people.

[00:48:02]Anthony Fauci:  Well, yes, that’s an excellent question. And in fact, in general, vaccines like influenza are less effective in the elderly because the elderly generally have an immune system that is not as robust and powerful as when that same person was maybe decades younger. With influenza, they generally command a higher dose of a vaccine to make up that difference. We do not know, other than that, why one vaccine versus another vaccine might actually be good for the elderly. One promising thing that has occurred is that in the preliminary testing of the coronavirus vaccines, the Moderna and the Pfizer, that both of them have shown an interesting and surprising, very nice response in elderly individuals, which you don’t usually see with vaccines in general. I’m not sure what the AstraZeneca people are talking about when they say “better” in the elderly. I think what they meant was they’re seeing the same thing as is being seen with Pfizer and Moderna, that you can’t say it’s better because you haven’t really compared it to anything. What they likely meant is that to their surprise, the response was good in elderly, which is very good news for all elderly people, including myself, that these vaccines seem to induce a pretty good response.

[00:49:41] Now, with regard to your answer about which vaccine becomes available and which one should you take: Right now, we have two available that are highly efficacious. If that becomes available in your location, I recommend you take that. If another one comes out, it’s really going to depend on how efficacious it is. It may be the same, which means it’s available, it doesn’t make any difference what you take, or if the efficacy is significantly less — I can’t imagine it’s going to be significantly more than 95 percent — then you make the choice there. But I think you should take what gets available in your location, which likely a first shot will be either Moderna or Pfizer.

[00:50:27]Bill Walsh:  Okay, thank you for that. Jean, who is next on the line?

[00:50:31]Jean Setzfand:  Our next caller is Beverly from Massachusetts.

[00:50:35]Bill Walsh:  Hey, Beverly, welcome to the show. Go ahead with your question.

[00:50:38]Beverly:  Thank you. Dr. Collins, Dr. Fauci, both a pleasure and an honor to be speaking with you directly. I would like to know, I have a few people that I know in my life that have contracted the coronavirus and have, in fact, recovered from it with very few— well, let’s put it this way, they didn’t become long-haulers. They seem to have gotten over it pretty well. So when the time comes for vaccines, should people like that rely more on their own natural antibodies to help them, and should they become like maybe secondary in terms of getting a vaccine? Or would they probably not be in the running for a vaccine? Or would they have to have their antibodies levels tested before? I know it’s kind a wide range of things, but I was wondering, you know, how that might work.

[00:51:41]Bill Walsh:  Right. Dr. Fauci, do you want to tackle that? Somebody who has had COVID and seemed to have recovered. Should they get vaccinated?

[00:51:49]Anthony Fauci:  Well, actually in vaccine trial, to our surprise, we found that individuals who actually were in the vaccine trial, that evidenced that they had been exposed previously and had been infected, and they were included in the trial. So we have some data on that. The short answer to the caller’s question is that prior infection does not preclude you from getting vaccinated because you don’t know what the duration of protection is from natural infection. Where those people would fit in the prioritization is going to depend on the recommendation from the CDC through the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. But you should not think that just because you have documented infection in the past with coronavirus, that you should not take the vaccine. You should be eligible for and take the vaccine, whether or not you had been previously infected.

[00:52:52]Bill Walsh:  Very good. Thank you for that. Let’s take a couple more questions. Jean, who is next on the line?

[00:52:58]Jean Setzfand:  Our next caller is Althea from North Carolina.

[00:53:01]Bill Walsh:  Hey, Althea, go ahead with your question.

[00:53:04]Althea:  I have a question; first of all, thank you to Dr. Collins and Dr. Fauci for all of the hard work that you’re doing on our behalf. It’s sort of a two-part question. The first part is, given the lack of transparency and lack of trust in minority communities as well as the lack of access to health care, what strategies are being used to get persons involved with, perhaps considering to get, the vaccine? And the second part has to do with plasma. I’ve been a plasma donor for years now, and I have type O blood, type O positive, and was just wondering if that factors into the vaccine or the treatment, and if so, how so?

[00:53:47]Bill Walsh:  Do you mean, what does the efficacy of the vaccine, is it affected by your blood type? Is that what you’re asking? It sounds like we’ve lost her. Well, Dr. Fauci, do you want to talk about what is being done to contend with the skepticism about the vaccine development process? Dr. Collins had talked about this a little bit earlier. Dr. Fauci?

[00:54:17]Anthony Fauci:  Yes, I’m sorry. I was on, typically on mute the way most people— no, I was saying that I’m sure that Dr. Collins mentioned to you that, you know, he and I are very heavily involved in a process of what we call outreach to the community. And there are a number of individuals at the NIH level and beyond that are taking a special effort to outreach to the community, particularly persons of color, brown and Black people who, as you know, have a higher degree of incidence of infection as well as complications associated with coronavirus. One of the things that we tried to do is that we tried to make sure that on the vaccine trials, particularly the Moderna trial, that there was an adequate representation in the trial of a diverse group of people, including minorities, so that when the trial was finished, which it is ,and is efficacious, which it is, we can say that it is efficacious across all subgroups and to get the African American and Latino community to realize that this vaccine is safe and effective for you. But you have to put a lot of effort to get that outreach. That’s extraordinarily important.

[00:55:30]Bill Walsh:  Yeah. And as to Althea’s second question, does somebody’s blood type matter in terms of how effective a vaccine might be?

[00:55:39]Francis Collins:  Yeah, this is Francis Collins. I don’t think we have any evidence that at the present time, there’s a correlation there in terms of vaccine responsiveness. There is a report, which looks like it’s holding up in a replication study, that your blood type has something to do with your likelihood of getting very severe disease from COVID-19. They basically looked at people who ended up in the ICU and found that more of them had type A blood, compared to those who did relatively well. So a type A may be at risk; type O might be actually a benefit to you if you happen to be of that blood type. But it’s a rather modest effect. Nobody with type O blood should assume that they don’t have to worry about this virus. It’s just a slight modifier. That’s about all I know, as far as blood type in COVID-19.

[00:56:28]Bill Walsh:  All right. Thank you for that. Dr. Collins. Jean, who is our next caller?

[00:56:32]Jean Setzfand:  Our next caller is Renee from Florida.

[00:56:35]Bill Walsh:  Hey, Renee, welcome to the program. And go ahead with your question.

[00:56:39]Renee:  Thank you. And thank you, Dr. Collins and Dr. Fauci for all of your hard work. We really so appreciate it. The question is, obviously as senior citizens and many living in Florida, we pretty much all are on some type of hypertensive medication or diabetes medication, some type of medication. Is there any contraindication between the medication that you’re on and taking the vaccine?

[00:57:07]Bill Walsh:  Dr. Collins, do you want to tackle that one?

[00:57:09]Francis Collins:  I’m not aware of any of those potential interactions. Maybe Dr. Fauci could comment, but I think at the moment it ought to be pretty safe, and in fact, we particularly want the vaccine to be accessible to people with chronic diseases, most of whom are going to be on medications. Tony?

[00:57:25]Anthony Fauci:  Yeah, Francis, that is quite true, there’s no indication at all. There was some early report that people with hypertension who were taking ACE-inhibitor antihypertensive drugs, because of the impact of that on various expressions of receptors could have been at maybe a greater risk, but that has proven not to be the case. So if you are a hypertensive person and you have antihypertensive medications, you should not worry about it nor modify your medication. There is no indication that any of the medications for the common conditions — diabetes, hypertension, congestive heart failure, or what have you — none of these appear to have any deleterious effect on either the disease itself or the response to the disease.

[00:58:18]Bill Walsh:  Okay, well, thank you Dr. Collins and Dr. Fauci. We could talk to you all day, but we know you’re both busy gentlemen. We want to thank you for joining us today. We wonder if you have any closing thoughts or recommendations that people should understand most from our conversation today? Dr. Collins?

[00:58:35]Francis Collins:  Well, first of all, just certainly to encourage everybody to stay the course and even double down on the steps that we all need to take while we’re waiting for the vaccines to become available broadly, and ultimately to get us past this pandemic. Right now, it’s up to all of us to practice those three W’s that I talked about in terms of wearing your mask, watching your distance, washing your hands — avoiding indoor gatherings being another one to add to that list. And again, I think you should probably prepare to keep track of what’s happening here in terms of the vaccine availability, and Dr. Fauci already mentioned the CDC website is a great place to go and look, as well as staying in touch with your care providers and your local pharmacies, but I would bet AARP could also be a really good place for this kind of information to be regularly updated. So, glad to be part of this conversation with an organization that’s done a lot to get this kind of information in front of people who are looking for it.

[00:59:34]Bill Walsh:  Thank you so much, Dr. Collins. Dr. Fauci, any closing thoughts or recommendations?

[00:59:39]Anthony Fauci:  Yes, reiterating what Dr. Francis Collins said, it’s very important that we don’t give up on this and feel frustrated. It’s obviously, it’s inconvenient, particularly as you get to the point of the holidays. Everyone wants to be with their loved ones. Just keep in mind help is on the way with the vaccine. That should motivate us to double down even more and keep ourselves safe. The best way to show your love for your relatives and your friends and your family is to keep yourself safe. So that’s really the wish that Francis and I, and all of us at NIH have for all of the people who fall into the category of AARP, including me and Francis. So stay safe and stay well.

[01:00:28]Bill Walsh:  Okay, thank you both for answering all our questions. It was a delight to have you here today and to take questions from our listeners. This has been a really informative discussion. And thank you, our AARP members, volunteers and listeners, for participating in the discussion. AARP, a nonprofit, nonpartisan member organization has been working to promote the health and well-being of older Americans for more than 60 years. In the face of this crisis, we’re providing information and resources to help older adults and those caring for them protect themselves from the virus, prevent its spread to others, while taking care of themselves.

[01:01:05] All of the resources referenced today, including a recording of today’s Q&A event can be found at aarp.org/coronavirus starting tomorrow, November 20th. Again, that web address is aarp.org/coronavirus. Go there if your question was not answered and you will find the latest updates as well as information created specifically for older adults and family caregivers. We hope you learned something that can help keep you and your loved ones healthy this holiday season. Please be sure to tune in tonight at 7 p.m. Eastern Time for a special AARP event, “A Caregiver’s Thanksgiving” with Chef Andrew Zimmern and AARP Board Chair Annette Franqui. You can find that event at aarp.org/coronavirus. Thank you and have a good day. This concludes our call.

[01:02:04]

AARP Presents: A Caregivers Thanksgiving

Renowned Chef Andrew Zimmern and AARP Board Chair Annette Franqui shared how caregivers can reduce stress, stay connected and celebrate family traditions with food and favorite recipes during the holidays. The event was moderated by AARP family and caregiving expert Amy Goyer.

Watch a replay of the live event above.

AARP Presents: A Caregiver’s Thanksgiving

Amy Goyer: Hello everyone. I’m Amy Goyer, AARP’s family and caregiving expert. And I want to welcome you to this very special live event, A Caregiver’s Thanksgiving. 2020 has turned our lives upside-down, and this Thanksgiving will be different than any other. For some of us, it means loss — loss of traditions, maybe a job, or perhaps the loss of a loved one. It also means rethinking our plans and possibly not seeing our families in person. For some of this, it also might mean cooking for the first time, which can be very scary. So tonight is our way of saying thank you. And for us to show support to the millions of caregivers who have looked after family members and friends throughout the pandemic. Having been a caregiver for multiple family members myself, I know firsthand how tough the job is. And I understand the challenges that COVID-19 has brought, especially the toll on our mental health.

            Here at AARP, we want those of you who are family caregivers to know that while there are tough times right now, you can still connect with others. We hope to make the holidays a little easier so that everyone can enjoy themselves no matter how you celebrate. Tonight we will get some great advice on caregiving from AARP Board Chair Annette Franqui, and Chef Andrew Zimmern will share holiday recipes to help make your Thanksgiving a memorable event. And I can’t wait to see those results. You will also see the voice, hear the voice of AARP Senior Vice President Jean Setzfand, who will help facilitate your live questions today.

            If you’ve participated in one of the AARP live events, you know that you can ask questions live on the phone, or you can add them to the comments section while you’re watching. So if you’re joining us on the phone and would like to ask a question, please press *3 on the telephone to be connected with an AARP staff member who will note your name and question and place you in a queue to ask that question live. And if you are watching on Facebook, YouTube or aarp.org, you can post your questions in your comments section.

            And now I’m very excited to introduce our special guests. Like so many of our get-togethers this Thanksgiving, our guests will be joining us from different parts of the country. From Miami is AARP Board Chair, Annette Franqui. Welcome, Annette.

Annette Franqui: Hello, Amy. And thank you to everyone for joining us this evening.

Amy Goyer: It’s so great to see you. Thanks for being here. And from Minneapolis we have Chef Andrew Zimmern, and welcome Andrew.

Andrew Zimmern: Hello everyone. Great to be here with you tonight.

Amy Goyer: Great, it’s looking good in that kitchen there. I kind of wish I was there instead of here in Washington, D.C.

Andrew Zimmern: It smells really good. I wish I was cooking for all of you who are out there tonight, truly.

Amy Goyer: I know, I’m sure, but I bet we’re going to get some great tips from you tonight.

Andrew Zimmern: It’s going to be fun.

Amy Goyer: I’d like to start with a question that we’ve heard from many family caregivers and AARP members about how they are caring for loved ones and approaching this holiday season differently. Let’s play a video that we received from Deb, a family caregiver from Massachusetts.

Deb: I’m Deb. I’m 71, and I’m a caregiver for my partner. We’re going to have a nice quiet Thanksgiving here. I’ve ordered a turkey breast. We’ll have a turkey breast, and we’ll have leftovers for a couple of days. And we will FaceTime. We will Zoom. We will be safe. We will be friendly. And next year, hopefully everyone will still be around. I hate being isolated. I’m very social. I miss my chorus. I miss going to the senior center. I miss seeing our family. … Our older granddaughter lived with us, and it would come every Thanksgiving for days, and do I miss that? Yes, of course I miss that. But, you know, you do what you have to do for the greater good, and for the good of everybody in the family.

Amy Goyer: Oh, Deb. Thanks for sharing that. You know, Annette, as we just saw in that video from Deb, family caregivers are worried about being isolated this year and not getting to see family in person. What has AARP heard from caregivers about how they are feeling at this point in the pandemic?

Annette Franqui: So, as we all know, this pandemic has been much longer and much more traumatic than what we anticipated at the beginning. We recently surveyed a thousand caregivers about how they’re feeling at this stage in the pandemic and what changes they think they’re going to be doing to their holiday plans. And what we found out is that more than half of the family caregivers are feeling much sadder about the holiday season. And many of them feel that COVID-19 has impacted the mental health or the mental health of the people that they are caring for. I can tell you that we have seen this a little bit with our mother. We feel that she has deteriorated in many areas because she has not been able to do many of the things that gave her joy and that kept her engaged and alert — such as going to her physical therapy, going out to dinner with my sister and me, or seeing our granddaughter. But this is the way it is right now. We’re also hearing that most people are making changes to their holiday plans, as you said. And even for those who plan to get together, the interactions will probably be very different. You’ll have a lot less hugs, probably, maybe some mask wearing as well as limiting the size of the gatherings of people. We know that we usually do a really big Thanksgiving, and this year it’s going to be much smaller.

Amy Goyer: Thank you, Annette. It’s so true. I think we’re all kind of facing these same kinds of questions. In fact, plenty of us are asking some version of this question right now. Is it safe to get together with my family?

Annette Franqui: Earlier this afternoon, we had an event with Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Francis Collins from the National Institutes of Health, and the same question was asked. And they are the experts. So I’m going to let you play what they said.

Anthony Fauci: You need to keep your group as small as you possibly can. And the recommendation is that you don’t have people with you that  don’t live with you. If family does come in from outside you should make sure they understand, were they with people that were not part of their immediate family. Each individual family needs to make their own individual decision based on a risk benefit, determination. The best way to show your love for your relatives and your friends and your family is to keep yourself safe.

Francis Collins: I know people are tired of all of the restrictions and requirements, but I’m afraid we really, if anything, need to double down right now; the vaccines do represent a light at the end of the tunnel, but the tunnel’s still got a ways to go. It’s still going to be up to all of us to be paying attention to those three Ws: wear your mask; when you’re outside moving around, certainly watch your distance, that 6-foot distance; wash your hands.

Amy Goyer: That was such important guidance from Dr. Fauci and Dr. Collins. As you make holiday plans, please, please be sure to follow local public health guidelines to keep your family safe. … Annette, before we get to some of our caller questions, AARP surveyed caregivers and found that many of them were feeling increased stress and worry this holiday season. Can you tell us what are some ways that folks can be sure to kind of take care of themselves during this challenging time?

Annette Franqui: Amy, as you mentioned, this is a really tough time, especially for the 48 million caregivers that are in the U.S. And if you’re not a caregiver today, chances are that you either will be a caregiver or you will have somebody take care of you. Usually during this time … I’d like to think that even in bad situations like this, there’s always a silver lining. Usually at this time of the year, we’re running around like crazy trying to finish all the end-of-the-year things for work, doing travel plans, planning social engagements etc., shopping for gifts … and this year, all of that is gone, or a lot of that has gone. Which means that perhaps we can use that time to do things that can make us feel better about the fact that we may not be seeing a lot of our family members and that can help us take care of ourselves. Take the time to maybe reach out to a friend that you haven’t talked to for a really long time, or talk to an aunt or an uncle that sometimes keeps you too long in the phone, but you now have the time to do that. Take a walk, go and look at the lights. And now that we’re all, you know, I think we’ve all become video experts, there are many things that you can do, activities that you can share through videos with some of the family members. And AARP also has wonderful resources. We have a caregiving support group in Facebook and a caregiving helpline. And you can also find some more resources at aarp.org/caregiving or aarp.org/mental health.

Amy Goyer: Thank you. Annette. As I mentioned before, I was a caregiver for multiple family members. And when things were the most intense caring for my parents and my sister from a distance and had so much going on, sometimes I would notice those red flags that I was starting to really head into burnout. And, you know, I got better and better at noticing those red flags. I think sometimes it’s hard to see them in ourselves, and our friends and loved ones can say, hey, you need to do something. Listen to them … I always say I have to fill my tank. My car can’t run on empty and neither can I, so doing little things — like my sisters and I have been watching movies together on the phone; they’re across the country, but we still get to watch those holiday movies together.

Annette Franqui: That’s great.

Amy Goyer: So now it’s time to take your questions. I’d like to welcome Jean Setzfand to our discussion to help facilitate your calls. Welcome Jean.

Jean Setzfand: Hi Amy, thanks. Delighted to be here. Our calls are coming in. So I think I have a question for Annette. This question is from Dave, from Virginia.

Amy Goyer: Dave, go ahead with your question.

Dave: Hi, good evening. Thank you for having these types of events. I appreciate that, and also to Chef Zimmern for bringing his adventures, food adventures to me through his programs. I’m a real big fan. Thank you for joining us tonight. But more to the point, I was wondering what has AARP been doing to help its members during this pandemic?

Annette Franqui: Nice for you to join us. So … when I look at what we’ve been doing, I mean, we’ve been working diligently for all of our members and really for all older adults in the U.S. And we are really looking at a number of areas. We’re advocating for members and for older adults, for caregivers, and also for nursing home residents. We’re also fighting fraud and we’re reaching out to the community. … When you look at what has been happening in nursing homes, we are making sure that we work with government leaders so that the nursing homes have appropriate testing, appropriate PPE, virtual visitations, and things like that. We’re also helping caregivers with a lot of information through our website, and we’re also continuing to watch out for scams that can be out there. You know, the scammers never sleep. And as we have heard, some of the coronavirus issues have lent themselves to scammers, trying to provide fraud for people. So we’re very busy, and we will continue to be.

Amy Goyer: Thank you, Annette. Jean, who’s our next caller?

Jean Setzfand: All right. We have a question actually from YouTube. Colin’s asking, “For those of us with family in nursing homes, this has been an especially hard time. What is AARP doing to help those of us in this situation?”

Annette Franqui: I thank you for that question. As many of you know, many of the deaths in the pandemic have been in nursing homes, and it has been extremely difficult for families that have members in nursing homes that have not been able to see them. So we have been working to make sure, first of all, that the residents are well taken care of, that the caregivers there have the appropriate testing and equipment, but also to make sure that we facilitate virtual visitation. That has been extremely important and can help fight isolation for both a family member and the nursing home resident. And I think on a longer-term basis, we are also making sure that the long-term care facilities in the nursing homes, do not get immunity from liability, and that the situation gets better as we continue to go along.

Amy Goyer: Great. Thank you so much, Annette. Jean, do we have another caller or a question?

Jean Setzfand: I may have one more for Annette. This is Doris from L.A.

Amy Goyer: Go ahead, Doris.

Doris: Hi, I’m Doris, and I’m glad to be a part of this program. I’m just calling to find out if it’s safer for two or four family members to get together that may not belong to the same household. To get together in the kitchen area, the dining area, or outdoors? I’d like to know what is safer.

Annette Franqui: Hi, Doris. This is Annette. I think I would follow the advice that Dr. Fauci and Dr. Collins said, which is that you really have to look at the risks and benefits of getting together with members of other households and really ask what is the different situation in each. So I would suggest that maybe you consult with your family members and see what you feel comfortable about. And as they suggested, we need to continue to wear masks and to try to keep a distance and to make sure that we’re not exposing ourselves unnecessarily.

Amy Goyer: Thank you.

Annette Franqui: We all need to keep safe.

Amy Goyer: Absolutely. Thank you so much, Annette. I think, again, these are the questions we’re all concerned about, so thank you all for these great questions. It’s just really wonderful to hear from all of you. I know you’re all waiting for us to check in with Andrew Zimmern to see what he is cooking. But before we do that, I want to share another question that was sent in from Roberto … in Virginia.

Roberto: Hi, I’m Roberto from Virginia. Regardless of how much they logically understand the current situation, family traditions held for years will be broken this year. How can we keep the emotional positive outlook with remote parents we’re not able to visit?

Amy Goyer: Ah, yes, I think that is a good question for our Chef Andrew Zimmern. Welcome Andrew. We all want to see what you’ve been cooking up, but before we get to peek at your dishes, our caller wants to know, what do you think are some ways that we can still create a meaningful experience with loved ones when we’re not there, we’re not sitting next to each other gushing about how good the sweet potatoes are?

Andrew Zimmern: I think there are many ways, and it’s really a question that we’re all asking ourselves. Obviously, there’s the sharing of food. People are planning Zoom meals, they’re planning FaceTime meals, whatever technical advantage that we have at our disposal allows us to include other people. But there’s also game night, there’s co-viewing of movies, as I think you mentioned earlier, which I think is a wonderful idea. But then there are the old-fashioned things. Remember the telephone. I’ve made a list of about 20 or 30 people that I’m going to reach out to. I’m cooking for one this year. I’m used to cooking for 24 at the table, another 24 dropping in. So I am going to be reaching out to a lot of friends and family, and sending them my well-wishes and telling everybody why I’m grateful for them. I sort of started to make a gratitude list. Thanksgiving is a wonderful, wonderful holiday for expressing gratitude. It’s really one of the points of the holiday. And I think we can still focus on that. The other thing we can do is we can check in if we’re able to on those that are around us. So many people are at home and not able to cook for other people. So I’m going to probably still end up cooking for eight or 12 folks and carrying some food around and leaving food on stoops of my neighbors’ houses who I know can’t leave the house and have self-expressed to me that they’re not necessarily confident in their cooking and were doing something very modest for the holiday, and I want to make sure to cheer them up. I’d also like to get back to something that — I think it was Deb — the first caller said. Here was someone who’s a caregiver herself, who was completely outwardly focused, 100 percent, on what she was doing for the holiday, as opposed to what she was receiving. And I think this is where the great paradox is about supporting caregivers. AARP does such a fantastic job advocating for older Americans, but they’re also the largest advocate for family caregivers. And when you look at the sum totality of caregiving in America, the majority is done by family and friends, not by those in the professional ranks. And so many of us who, I mean, I cared for my parents the last years of their life. I’ve continued to care for them. I’m also a parent. So I understand what that is all about. We tend, as you indicated before, to not to want to put our own gas mask on first or an oxygen tank, right? Take care of yourself first, and that means including some activities that you want to get out of the house, take a walk, make a list of some things ahead of time that you’re going to do that day, for yourself. I think those are all really, really important things — not just the outwardly pieces of service work that we can do, but what we can do for ourselves as well.

Amy Goyer: You know, oh my gosh. So many great points, Andrew, that you’ve made there. And I always say, it’s not selfish, it’s just practical to take care of ourselves. Caregivers always feel guilty about doing something for ourselves, and you make a good point. You know, in many ways we focus out so much. It’s OK to do good things for ourselves as well, right?  

Andrew Zimmern: That’s exactly right. … You know, I love the Sunday Times crossword puzzle. So I dragged out my crossword puzzle books — I know at some point during the day [on Thanksgiving], probably before football, I’m going to get onto the sofa. I love doing crossword puzzles and I realized I haven’t done one in six months. It’s been a crazy time dealing with the pandemic, keeping businesses afloat, caring for other people, trying to care for myself, things have gone topsy-turvy, and I realized I’ve forgotten to keep doing some of the things that I love to do. And I realized one of them was crossword puzzles. I know it seems like a little thing, but just knowing that I can spend an hour or two focusing on that is something that I’m really looking forward to and haven’t done in quite a while.

Amy Goyer: Right, it’s those things that fill you up. Now, I’ve always had music in my life, and I haven’t been singing. So I started; I’m doing an online choir. Whatever it is that fills your tank like that. And I love that you’re cooking for neighbors and you’re going to make some phone calls.

Andrew Zimmern: Yeah, I miss going to … I’m a live-music junkie. I mean, I try to see live music two or three nights a week. You like to sing, so maybe we should exchange numbers.

Amy Goyer: Yeah. Really, I’ll sing. You can listen to me. It’s good.

Andrew Zimmern: That’s exactly right.

Amy Goyer: I’ll even give you long-distance piano lessons. How’s that?

Andrew Zimmern: That’s fine. I actually started taking long-distance guitar lessons a couple of weeks ago. So many guitar teachers are out of work. And so they’re offering discounts on classes, over Zoom, and I started doing it a couple of weeks ago. That’s another thing that you can do for yourself. A great piece of advice was given me a long time ago, which was as we get older, we tend to focus only on the things that we’re good at. We don’t … we’re not good about starting new things, trying new things. You mentioned piano lessons. Deb mentioned chorus, for herself. I just … I’m struck by how important it is that we constantly try to go out there and do new things for ourselves to keep life fresh and exciting.

Amy Goyer: It’s such fantastic advice, and, in fact, talking about new things, we talk about the fact that some people are going to be cooking for themselves this year for Thanksgiving that aren’t used to doing that. And I think a lot of people staying home have really gotten into cooking. So I know that Annette is joining me with this, and we’re really anxious to see what’s next. So … talk about your recipes? Tell me what you’re working on. What can we learn?

Andrew Zimmern: All of these recipes are on the aarp.org website. I think it’s aarp.org/caregiving. The recipes are there. People can find them. They’re also at andrewzimmern.com. There’s a lot of ways to reference this stuff. We also have hundreds — well, thousands actually — of recipes on my website, but hundreds in our Thanksgiving folders designed for any size group. One of the ironies about this Thanksgiving is that we’ve spent 30 years in food media in America telling everyone here’s how to take a recipe and quadruple it for 16 people. Now we have to take everything and make it smaller, and turkeys don’t necessarily lend themselves to that. But what I’ve done here is … let me show you my sides, and then I’m going to get to the star of the show. I’ve made some roasted sweet potatoes. I seasoned them with goat butter and brown sugar. So you get that sour and that sweet with the roasted sweet potatoes; they’re really fantastic. I have some collard greens that I cook with ham hocks and honey and seasoned with a little cider vinegar. These are both things that can be done ahead. They don’t need to be done the day of. They reheat beautifully. They’re delicious side dishes. Very, very simple, affordable, and easy to upscale or downscale in terms of portion size. I also have a recipe for my key lime pie. The reason that I like this one, it doesn’t require a store-bought crust. It doesn’t require for you to make a pastry crust. It’s simply Graham Cracker cookies, ground crushed up — or any cookie really, brown sugar and butter to make the crust. And you can cook it in any size in any ovenproof container. You could even do them in coffee mugs, as long as the bottoms of them aren’t glazed. If you have a coffee mug or a dish that says on the back of it, oven safe, dishwasher safe and microwave safe, it can go into the oven at 325 degrees and you can make individual key lime pies, or ones like this one, which is good for two, three, or four people. I also have a whole turkey breast here, both sides of the breast. We had the butcher bone it for us. If you have the knife skills to do it, please go ahead and do it yourself. If you just want to do a half breast, by all means do that. I’ve taken the turkey tenders out. I’m going to set those to the side, because that’s a whole other meal for one or two people. And then I have these breasts that are very, very thin on one end at the front, and they’re very thick at the other. So I’m going to even that out by slicing through and taking that piece of meat and laying one here at the top on top of this big piece of skin. And I’m going to do the same thing with another one right here and lay that down in this little area. And I’m just going to slice some of this meat off and place it so that my turkey is all even at about … an inch and a half of depth. And then what I’m going to do is, I’m going to take my favorite stuffing recipe — mine is made with chestnuts. And I’m going to put a tube of stuffing down the middle of this bird. The rest I’ll cook in the oven. And the reason that I like this is that I like stuffing and turkey. It is my favorite part about Thanksgiving. And I don’t want to give that up. So whether it’s a half breast or a whole breast, here’s a fantastic technique that allows you very easily to roll these two sides of the turkey together, holding onto those wings, roll this piece up at the front. Let me turn this sideways so everyone can see what I’m doing, and then I just take the skin here at the front and I fold it over. And I essentially have a boneless stuffed roast turkey.

            Then, of course, the question becomes, well, how do we prevent the whole thing from falling apart and how is it going to stay roasted in the oven? And that’s where this string that I’m wearing comes in. This is a very, very simple butchering technique. You can simply take six pieces of footlong kitchen string — twine tends to be a little too skinny for me and can break through the skin, so I like to use a softer kitchen string. It’s a little thicker. Or you can do it the French way by looping a larger piece of string through each piece, knotting or cording as you move through it, and all we’re going to do, and this, by the way, is the bottom of our bird. We’re going to roast it skin side up in a roasting pan. It only takes about an hour and 15 minutes. So you can see here as we begin to cinch this up and come down here to the end, that it is super, super, super easy. We even have a video, I think, of me doing this on our website, and all we do is once we make that last pass of the string, I just bring this whole string up over and in-between these two wing bones, back down through the bottom like I was trussing a bird, and I tie it off against one of my loops. And I’m going to flip this over and show you how beautiful it looks because later on, we’re going to be doing some testing because I made one in the oven. I’m going to take my gloves off.

            By the way, I keep the gloves around because it makes it easier than washing my hands. When I’m working with poultry or fish, gloves like this allow me to constantly be working and touching other foods and avoiding cross-contamination. So when I flip this over, you can see I have a beautiful, uniformed package of turkey that will roast up very evenly. Rub that with butter, season it with salt and pepper, put it in a roasting pan in a cradle or just in a big pan or a sheet tray, and slide it into a 350 degree oven. A lot of people say, well, hey, with a turkey like that, how am I going to make my gravy? Well, I have a gravy recipe as part of the AARP package as well. I make my gravies ahead of time, cause I always like to have some in the freezer. And I make mine with the bones from the turkey, leftover chicken wings and chicken parts, or I’ll just buy a couple of pounds of chicken wings and roast them with onions and vegetables in a pan till they’re all dark and caramelized, then boil them in chicken broth and make a very, very, very strong liquid that I then thicken in with a little bit of roux, and I have this delicious gravy right here that I’m able to serve with my bird.

            So later on, I think during our next section, I’m going to take our turkey that I roasted out of the oven and show it off to everybody because I’m so proud of this recipe. It’s a really easy way to keep Thanksgiving simple and still maintain the traditions we like. Now, as I said before, I’m going to cook a whole turkey this year and portion it out, but the great thing about this is that if you are a caregiver and if you’re a professional one taking care of a couple people, or if you have some different family members, you’re going to do the drive by thing. I think Roberto’s question, or someone’s question earlier today was about how we’re gathering and, you know, Dr. Fauci has given some fantastic advice. But if you can’t be with everybody and you love to cook, if you’re the cooking person in the family, you could slice this, pair it with everything, put it into some to-go containers and drop goodies off for all of your relatives, all over town, and do it in a contactless way and still be able to share the love of cooking with your family members.

Amy Goyer: Oh my gosh, Andrew, it all looks so incredible. In fact, one of the things I did a lot as a caregiver was, I would cook more and freeze in individual serving sizes so that I could, on those days when it was really hard to take care of my mom and dad and cook, I had something already made. So people can also do that with their Thanksgiving meals.

Andrew Zimmern: You know something, I tend to cook three or four things every Sunday. It’s like my yoga, I have a football game on or some music, and I just get lost in the cooking and the rhythm of it. And I put things in the freezer, or as we call it here in Minnesota, outdoors, which makes it super convenient. But, you know, soups and stews and braises and things like that. And the reason why I love cooking whole birds or doing something like this is that the leftover meat is great for turkey tetrazzini or turkey a la king or all those wonderful leftover thanksgiving dishes that we love to use. I happen to be one of those people who loves turkey, and those are on my website, as well. But just so you know, people are really clear, all of the recipes that are out here today, the greens, the sweet potatoes, the pie, the gravy, the boneless stuffed turkey, all the recipes, super easy to do, they’re at the website, aarp.org/caregiving, and all you have to do is take that turkey breast out of, off the shelf in the refrigerator section, and bring it to the butcher at the supermarket. And they are more than happy to remove the bones for you. It’s not an uncommon request this time of year, and there’s lots of great videos online, including at andrewzimmern.com, if people want to see me doing it. It’s a very, very simple process. You don’t need to overcomplicate it. And, for those that may have some reason why they don’t want to do it boneless, you can buy the turkey breast on the bone, just put the stuffing in the pan and put the turkey on top of it so that it drips down onto the stuffing. You’ll get the exact same results. Don’t overcomplicate it. It’s just food.

            The important part of this holiday is that you’re actually doing something. Don’t sit around. We talked about the mental health aspect. You know, the numbers on mental health issues are skyrocketing in every single age group and especially amongst caregivers and our oldest Americans. We don’t do a good job in America of bringing our older Americans in. We tend culturally to be pushing them away. And I know that there are so many people out there that really need that warm hug that food gives. So the important thing is not necessarily to follow the recipes, or to maniacally … I mean, perfection is the enemy of good, right? We just want people to cook and enjoy the holiday and be able to do something for and with themselves and share something with another human being. I think that’s as much about what we need to do this coming Thursday as anything else.

Amy Goyer: So true. Everyone needs purpose, right? Thank you so much, Andrew.

            So many caregivers are dealing with increased stress and responsibilities right now this year. And we’ve talked about that this evening; what are some of the tips that we can do to streamline meal prep and make it a little easier this year? You’re so eloquent about it, and I love watching you cook, but how do we make it easy for everyone?

Andrew Zimmern: I think you need to remember that Thanksgiving is so ironically the one holiday where traditionally people who don’t cook that often cook abnormally large amounts of food in abnormally large quantities in a pressure-filled environment where they feel judged by all their family members in kitchens that are too small using containers that aren’t big enough to actually make them. So people have actually for decades been doing a much better job than they ever imagined. But I think we need to keep it really simple these days … that’s why mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes, simply seasoned, boiled greens, things that you can do the day beforehand. If you’ve gone sort of in a very, very food forward direction and done a whole bunch of roasted root vegetables with a brown butter vinaigrette and insisted on doing them right before everyone sat down, maybe this is the year that you skip that one and you do like twice-baked, stuffed potatoes, right? Something that can take the pressure off yourself by doing things ahead of time. Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity is the name of the game. The pie that I have on the website, the key lime pie, is something that can be done the day beforehand as well. It’s the simplest custard of all. It’s almost impossible to curdle and it’s kept in the refrigerator and taken out for service right beforehand. And I love the idea of doing the gravy, even if you’re roasting a whole bird — let’s say you’re podded down with family members and six or eight of you are getting together and you’re going to roast a turkey; do the gravy ahead of time. The more you can do ahead of time, the better. And the other thing is if you have family members in another residence who you have podded with over the last couple of months, and Dr. Fauci has indicated that if you’ve been podding with those people, you can continue to be with those people, dole out some jobs. Let someone else pick up the beverages, let someone else bring a pie, right? Focus on the things that you want to do and that you love cooking, and you’re going to find the experience is more successful.

Amy Goyer: You know, it reminds me Andrew, when I was taking care of my parents and they lived with me, I finally got to where I ordered in a good bit of the holiday meals, but only made the dishes that were really traditional in our family. And like my grandmother’s green beans and things that really were important to us to make … and it was such a relief. It made it so much easier. And like you say, those green beans are actually better the next day.

Andrew Zimmern: Well, here’s the funny thing. We’ve been in a food revolution has been going on for the last three decades here in America. So there’s never been a time where there have been more places doing more cooking at a high level for you than we have now. And those pastry shops, cheese stores, charcuterie places, restaurants that are doing Thanksgiving packages, bake shops doing extra types of pies, all of those people have been really kneecapped financially over the last nine months by the coronavirus. So they need your support in dollars. So there’s no better time ever to actually be paying for food and bringing it in, and the quality is going to be spectacular as well. I’m doing a lot of that. I’ve always made a pie myself and then bought four or five other pies, because there are a lot of pie makers in Minnesota who are a lot better than I am at it. And they have fantastic pastry shops, and they need our support.

Amy Goyer: Oh, that sounds like such a great idea. And of course I love pie. So now I want to share another story that was sent in. And this is from Diana in Oklahoma.

Diana: Hi. That question about, are you going to decorate for Christmas? That one hit me right between the eyes because after Thanksgiving wasn’t going so great, nobody was going to show up, I had myself a real pity party. My brain understands. Everybody’s hunkered down, keeping safe, but my heart doesn’t. And my eyes would leak. So, I decided I was going to decorate the bare minimum, that was it. And my girlfriend called. She said, nope, you’re going to decorate because it’ll make you happy. You do it because it’ll make you happy. And she wasn’t going to let me off the phone until I promised to decorate. So she was right. Decorating is fun. It makes me happy. So decorate. You’ll enjoy it. Happy holidays, all.

Amy Goyer: Oh, thank you so much, Diana. She’s a member of our Facebook family caregivers discussion group, and what she shared about holiday traditions and decorating. Annette, I know that you’re caregiver for your mother, and you probably have some really important favorite holiday memories and traditions with her. What are some of those? And will you be simplifying any of those traditions this year?

Annette Franqui: Some. My mother has suffered from dementia for a number of years, but we’re super lucky in that she lives close to my sister, and she lives close to my husband and me, which is great. And here we are in a picture. The holidays … I’m from Puerto Rico, so the holidays were always super important in our family, and in Puerto Rico the holidays last for a really long time. So we especially love Christmas, and it was customary for us when we were growing up to stay up late trimming the tree. And one thing that we have been doing for many years is that we gathered all of the ornaments that we had from growing up. And we split them between my sister and me. And every year we trim our trees together. And what happens is that we look at these ornaments that we’ve had since we were kids, and it’s really like seeing old friends because we have stories around all of them. I am also a big Thanksgiving person, and this is really the only meal that I can cook. And, I usually do a very big Thanksgiving and that gives me a pass for the rest of the year. So this year, even though I’m only cooking for four, I’m hoping to get the same reprieve and get the credit for the rest of the year.

Amy Goyer: Oh, that sounds like a great idea. We all … I think we’re all adjusting things this year and we’re going to be trying to keep some of our family traditions. I’m going to be across the country from my sisters, too. So it’s hard. I was thinking about Thanksgivings in the past and my mom was such a great cook, but the one thing that … I’m the youngest of four girls, and so all day long we were always like, is the turkey done yet? Is the turkey done yet? So Andrew, how’s the turkey coming?

Andrew Zimmern: The turkey is done, but I have to tell you, Amy, Annette, thank you so much for organizing this, and thank you to all the people at AARP who made this happen. That last video just got me right in the feels. That wonderful human being sharing about the pity party that turned into an action plan for doing something that made her happy reminded me of one of my favorite sayings, “You can’t think your way into right acting, but you can act your way into right thinking.” So if you actually do things, you can change how you think and feel. And if you just sit and stew with it, nothing is going to change. And I really needed to hear that tonight. And it’s just so uplifting to hear all of these plans and know that there are people who are leaning into the positivity and staying out of the negativity.

            One of the big positives for me is how beautifully this turkey turned out. I just literally took this out of the oven. I’ve lifted it out of the roasting pan. I put mine in a pan that has a cradle in it, and you can see here it’s just dark and toasty and roasty and delicious. And you can cut that string, and peel that away. If you see pieces of string that are easy to cut by all means do them. I oftentimes don’t like to dig in with my knife. The reason some pieces are easier to cut is because the string actually reveals itself to be a little looser because the meat shrinks. So if you have an opportunity, by all means, go ahead and cut it. It makes carving easier, but I’m just going to show you how beautifully this roast works. Slice after slice is a moist combination of just the right amount of skin and stuffing. I’m just gonna move this back here. It’s super crispy. It’s really delicious. It holds together beautifully. And I think you can see from this one, I’ve just got to peel this piece of string away before I put some on the plate; it’s super moist. It’s much easier to control the cook on this kind of turkey, simply because you don’t have to fight the difference between when the dark meat is ready, and the light meat is ready. So here’s a little bit of potato. I’m going to put a little bit of greens on that plate. Again, the recipes for everyone are at aarp.org/caregiving. A little bit of gravy. And it really is that simple. It’s a fantastic holiday meal that’s delicious, traditional, but definitely downscaled and simple for everyone to make this year.

Amy Goyer: Andrew, it looks so, so good. I wish I could taste that turkey, and I loved your practical tips about the string and all of those things. So are the things that help us actually be able to cook and learn new things. And I have a surprise. I actually stayed up all night last night, cooking some of your dishes. And so I made … and I have not tasted them yet. Now this is true self-control, I have to tell you. Ooh, aah, right? So I’m going to first try the greens. Here we go. Let’s see.

Andrew Zimmern: Those look perfect by the way.

Amy Goyer: Hmm. Oh my gosh, they’re really good. And I’ve cooked them, and they’re good. And then these are the sweet potatoes.

Andrew Zimmern: You know what that look was — that was like, wow, this guy’s recipes really do turn out.

Amy Goyer: It was like, he knows what he’s doing. I guess, you know what you’re doing, Andrew. Wow. I, oh, I cannot … I might have to take a break here and just finish eating, ’cause this is so good. I do need the turkey though. I’m going to have to try the turkey recipe.

Andrew Zimmern: OK, please do, please try it, and don’t forget the key lime pie. Got to have the key lime pie.

Amy Goyer: Oh, I love key lime pie. Can I call you if I have questions?

Andrew Zimmern: Of course you can.

Amy Goyer: While we are ...

Andrew Zimmern: I’d be delighted.

Amy Goyer: Oh, thank you. I’m going to have to get your number there so we can do that. One thing I did want to say is while we have you talking about recipes … I mentioned earlier, my grandmother’s green beans, which are, you know, you fry some onion and bacon in a pan and you add the … they have to be canned green beans, that’s what she always used, and then some apple cider vinegar, or sometimes we used balsamic vinegar and twisted it a little bit and teeny little bit of sugar. So that’s my grandmother’s green beans. What are some of your family holiday traditional foods?

Andrew Zimmern: I grew up on the East Coast and oysters were at the first Thanksgiving. It’s one of the few foods that we know for sure were cooked and served that first Thanksgiving. And, so I always do what oyster chowder, and I put it by the front door so as guests come in, they take their shoes off, their coats off, because remember it’s cold in Minnesota, and we give them a warm mug of soup. I don’t think there’s a better way to tell someone that you care about them than putting a hot mug or bowl or coffee cup of soup into their hand. So that was a big one.

            The other one was our green bean casserole, which years ago I started playing around with and I lightened it up tremendously. That recipe is on our website. We actually make a puree of mushrooms and almonds and shallots and tarragon, and crisp it in a pan and put it over steamed green beans. It’s got all of the flavor of the green bean casserole without any of the calories. And I’m a big fan of all of those sides. We’ve got dozens of them on our website. When I start thinking about the chestnuts and the sweet and sour onions and the roasted root vegetables in brown sugar, and brown butter vinaigrette, and all of those things, the stuffing, the gravies, it absolutely gets me salivating. I couldn’t, I had to break in. I thought you were going away from me, so I started nibbling already. But yeah, those are the things that bring up those great memories, and, of course, the pie. My grandmother used to take little pieces of white bread and cut them into circles with a cookie cutter and put a little shmear of chicken fat on there, or butter and a single anchovy, and that was her fancy hors d’oeuvre. And I do them now as an homage to her, just cause it’s so traditional. And I look forward to that flavor every year. And bread, butter and anchovies, it’s a classic combination. She just did it in such a New York City apartment, grandma stretching, pinching pennies, you know, managing to do something a little zhuzhed up and hors d’oeuvrey, still very rootsy. I just love it.

Amy Goyer: That’s so great. You know our memories are stimulated by taste and smell and all of our senses. So try and do one traditional dish this year. So, but let’s go ask some questions, get some questions from our audience. I know you all have questions that you’re waiting to ask. So Jean who’s on the line?

Jean Setzfand: Our first caller for Andrew is Maria from Georgia.

Amy Goyer: Great. OK, go ahead, Maria.

Maria: I had a question, a very important question to me is, I found out that the turkey is 48 cents a pound. So I want to buy a turkey. I have … but the thing is before I always bought a turkey that they haven’t, not being frozen. This time they only have frozen turkeys. So my husband is going to deliver a question, and thank you, this has been really wonderful for us, but my husband is going to deliver the question that I have. Is it safe to buy a frozen turkey thawed, and then have it cut in quarters and then refreeze it before you cook it? What I would do is I go to the Kroger in the morning.

Andrew Zimmern: No, that’s a great question. And this comes up all the time. Let me tell you, let me fill you in on a couple of facts. If you get a frozen turkey, you want to make sure you buy it four days before you’re going to cook it, so that you put it in the refrigerator because those big turkeys are like a solid ice cube. It’s going to take all of 72 hours for it to defrost completely in the refrigerator. When that happens, you can then take the turkey out and you can cut it into its different parts. Right? What I would typically do, and what I would tell you is my suggestion, since we’re all indoors this year — roast the white meat. In other words, take the legs and thighs off the bird. Roast the double breast together, stuffed or unstuffed, and serve that, have that that day. You can eat leftovers off that like crazy. Take the dark quarters, the legs and thighs — either as whole pieces or cut into two legs, two thighs — brown and braise them. Just simply brown and braise them. You can do that simply in a large pan or in a pot in the oven. Some vegetables, a little bit of broth. Let that cook for two hours, two hours and 15 minutes, at 350 degrees after you’ve browned it. You can add a little bit of wine. Of course you can make that as fancy as you like, but just with some broth and vegetables, you will then have meat cooked that is much more delicious to freeze than to refreeze raw meat and defrost it a second time. So I’d rather have you cook two dishes, one for eating on Thanksgiving day. And one that you’re going to brown and braise for eating later on, and you can freeze it for months, and it’s super, super easy.

Amy Goyer: Great. So cook it, and then you can refreeze it. That makes a lot of sense.

Andrew Zimmern: Especially if you braise it in liquid. And if you do that with the dark meat, which is a lot more friendly to freezing as a cooked element than the white meat is, which is very, very lean.

Amy Goyer: Great. OK, Jean who’s our next caller?

Jean Setzfand: We have a question on Facebook. And this is coming from Bonnie and she says, “Love you, Chef Andrew. Do you have a separate cooking board for meat? What type of board you actually use?”

Andrew Zimmern: Yeah, I use wood for everything cause it’s easier to cut on, it’s easier on my knives. And it, I don’t know if you noticed, I actually put this board behind me that I did the turkey on, so I didn’t create cross-contamination, right? So this turkey has raw poultry on it, this board that was underneath it never had raw poultry on it. And I have three or four boards, well actually I have like nine here, but we do a lot of TV stuff, so I need lots of cutting boards. But at home I have two or three, and I’ll just stack them up or use one board, always for raw and one board always for cooked. Some people have different colored boards, and they do fish and vegetable and meat and poultry on them. I don’t get that crazy. Wood also has a natural disinfectant in it. So if it’s scrubbed, and dried well, and then oiled, it’s going to retard a lot of bacteria. And the other thing about wood is that plastic boards get little cut marks in them, and bacteria gets in there and doesn’t go out. With wood every couple of months I just take my cutting board into the garage, 45 seconds of sanding and then wipe it with a damp cloth. And every little nick comes right out of here, and it’s super easy to take care of. I love cooking, and my cutting boards and my knives are my most precious, precious possessions.

Amy Goyer: Great advice. In fact, I just recently switched to all wood cutting boards. So that’s, that’s good to know. Jean, do we have some more questions?

Jean Setzfand: Yes, we have another question from Facebook, and this is from Janice. She’s hoping to get some advice on the whole boneless turkey in terms of the variance of temperature between light and dark meat.

Andrew Zimmern: You’re doing a whole boneless turkey, and many people do — especially popular over the last five years is taking the backbone out and opening the turkey up. It’s a technique called spatchcocking. And essentially what you’re doing is you’re cooking a turkey, white meat breasts, semi-boneless. That only takes about 45 minutes to an hour in the oven with the dark quarters that take much, much longer. I’m a really big fan of — if you’re going to do it whole for presentation like that — scoring the underside of the dark quarters so they cook quicker. If I’m roasting a whole bird — and we have this hack is on my website, and I think I’m going to demo it on the Today show next Wednesday —  a whole bird, I’ll put an inch or two of water or stock simmering in my roasting pan on the oven. And I’ll sit my turkey down in it where the backbone actually sits in the simmering liquid for 20, 25 minutes, so that I give the part of the turkey that takes the longest to cook a little bit of a head start. For most people simply scoring them or cutting on the underside between the leg and the thigh is a really, really valuable way to speed up the process there. The other thing that I would recommend is lower your heat. You can always — let’s say you’re grilling or roasting or whatever your methodology is — you can always increase the temperature at the end to crisp the skin. If you cook at a low temperature, it’s going to be much safer for your white meat and dark meat to come together at the same time. And the last thing that I would add — it’s become very popular over the last few decades to deep fry a whole turkey. Nothing to me is more dangerous or stupider or results in a variation of overcooked and undercooked meat. I fry turkeys all the time. And what I do is I break down the breasts into two pieces each, so I have four pieces of white meat — big ones, my two legs, my two thighs, and I soak those in buttermilk, toss them in seasoned flour and fry the pieces so that I’m frying the turkey pieces for 15, 18 minutes instead of a whole bird for 25 minutes or half an hour. If you fry a whole bird, you’re going to overcook your white meat before your dark meat is done. So I would encourage everyone if you’re going to fry turkey or grill turkey, do it in pieces.

Amy Goyer: Andrew, I am learning so much here. Can you please say your website one more time so that people know where all these great practical tips are?

Andrew Zimmern: All this info is in our thanksgivingbundle@andrewzimmern.com. I would encourage people to go in there. And I think if you — in the search bar — if you just stick in Thanksgiving, you can see all of these wonderful folders that have dozens and dozens of recipes in each of them. And I have a whole bunch of people on the other side of the camera nodding their heads. Next week we will be putting, I think, all of our Thanksgiving stuff on the front page of our website — I’m sure we do it every year so it’s easier to click on. And videos of me doing a lot of these recipes are of course, on our YouTube channel and also on our website.

Amy Goyer: That’s so great. Thank you so much. Jean, do we have any more questions?

Jean Setzfand: Yes, we have one last question. And this is Daryl from Washington, D.C.

Daryl: This is Daryl. What I was concerned about is — I’ve been hearing because of the virus that I wanted to find out, what’s the rule for wearing face masks in the house while you’re with other people?

Amy Goyer: Right. That’s a great question. Andrew, do you want to address that?

Andrew Zimmern: Absolutely …  so many of the nation’s experts are from here in Minnesota, and I’m on a lot of a state and national boards where I get clued in by some of the best and the brightest in the business. And we wear a mask to protect other people and they wear one to protect us. And you know, when I’m with my family — whom I’ve podded with and who is regularly tested as I’m regularly tested for insurance for my TV work — I know they’re safe, so I’ll take my mask off around my son, but not if he’s been with all of his friends. Right. So we will then maintain social distancing while we’re together. I will wear a mask. He will wear a mask, and we’ll maintain that distance apart from each other. It’s really, really important, and I think if you remember what the doctors said in the interviews that we aired at the top of the show, you have to do an internal family risk assessment, right? If someone has not been exhibiting symptoms, and they’ve been podded or isolated for 10 days, you can infer that they are safer than someone who has only been isolated for a couple of days and has been surrounded by a lot of other people. I don’t think that this is the Thanksgiving that we want to mess around with that. And the reason is that I want to have a Christmas and a New Year’s, right? So let’s all try to be safe for the next two to four weeks so that we can be celebrating the holidays later in the year together and safely, with knowing that we’ve mitigated and contained the virus.

Amy Goyer: Thank you. That’s such great advice, Andrew, and you know, it is about taking care, protecting our loved ones we’re caring for, and protecting ourselves because who’s going to take care of them if something happens to us? This hour has gone so fast. I feel like there’s so much to talk about. But before we close, just maybe some final comments. Annette, is there something you’d like to add?

Annette Franqui: First of all, this has been so much fun and thank you to everyone for participating. I know this can be difficult times, but just remember to reach out, to take care of yourselves and remember the essence of the holidays and that this will not last forever. Pretty soon we’re going to be exchanging those virtual hugs for real hugs, and we’ll all be doing many of the things, hopefully, that we have been used to be doing. But this year, it’s the time to take care of ourselves and to take care of others, and have a wonderful holiday season.

Amy Goyer: Thank you, Annette. Andrew, any quick final words?

Andrew Zimmern: Just a huge debt of gratitude to AARP that very selflessly for so long has advocated for older Americans and for their caregivers. There is no one out there doing the work as diligently as AARP has been doing. And I’m just so grateful that you asked me to be a part of this. It was just a privilege and an honor to share tonight with you.

Amy Goyer: Thank you so much for being with us, both you and Annette. And Andrew, we’re so grateful to have you be part of our work tonight. And thank you for answering questions and letting us know that although we’re all physically distanced, just like the three of us are tonight, we can still be really connected and that’s the beauty of it, and that’s the gift that we have right now with technology and telephones and everything else. So, there’s still a lot to be thankful for this year and to focus on that gratitude. And part of that gratitude is a thank you to the AARP members and volunteers and listeners, and of course, all of you family caregivers who are out there caring for your loved ones throughout the pandemic. Thank you so much for participating in this discussion, and thank you for all you do. All of the resources referenced tonight can be found at aarp.org/caregiving on Nov. 20. And again, that website is aarp.org/caregiving. We hope that you’ve enjoyed tonight’s event and learned something, and that you can do some things to make your Thanksgiving really a special one and a delicious one. Please be sure to also tune in on Thursday, Dec. 3, at 1 p.m. ET for another AARP live event where experts will answer your questions related to staying safe and protected during the pandemic. You can watch it at aarp.org/coronavirus. Thank you and have a great evening and happy Thanksgiving. This concludes our live event.

AARP Presents A Caregivers Thanksgiving

Amy Goyer:  Hello everyone. I’m Amy Goyer, AARP’s family and caregiving expert. And I want to welcome you to this very special live event, A Caregiver’s Thanksgiving. 2020 has turned our lives upside-down, and this Thanksgiving will be different than any other. For some of us, it means loss — loss of traditions, maybe a job, or perhaps the loss of a loved one. It also means rethinking our plans and possibly not seeing our families in person. For some of this, it also might mean cooking for the first time, which can be very scary. So tonight is our way of saying thank you. And for us to show support to the millions of caregivers who have looked after family members and friends throughout the pandemic. Having been a caregiver for multiple family members myself, I know firsthand how tough the job is. And I understand the challenges that COVID-19 has brought, especially the toll on our mental health.

[00:01:00] Here at AARP, we want those of you who are family caregivers to know that while there are tough times right now, you can still connect with others. We hope to make the holidays a little easier so that everyone can enjoy themselves no matter how you celebrate. Tonight we will get some great advice on caregiving from AARP Board Chair Annette Franqui, and Chef Andrew Zimmern will share holiday recipes to help make your Thanksgiving a memorable event. And I can’t wait to see those results. You will also see the voice, hear the voice of AARP Senior Vice President Jean Setzfand, who will help facilitate your live questions today.

[00:01:42] If you’ve participated in one of the AARP live events, you know that you can ask questions live on the phone, or you can add them to the comments section while you’re watching. So if you’re joining us on the phone and would like to ask a question, please press *3 on the telephone to be connected with an AARP staff member who will note your name and question and place you in a queue to ask that question live. And if you are watching on Facebook, YouTube or aarp.org, you can post your questions in your comments section.

[00:02:19] And now I’m very excited to introduce our special guests. Like so many of our get-togethers this Thanksgiving, our guests will be joining us from different parts of the country. From Miami is AARP Board Chair, Annette Franqui. Welcome, Annette.

[00:02:36]Annette Franqui:  Hello, Amy. And thank you to everyone for joining us this evening.

[00:02:39]Amy Goyer:  It’s so great to see you. Thanks for being here. And from Minneapolis we have Chef Andrew Zimmern, and welcome Andrew.

[00:02:48]Andrew Zimmern:  Hello everyone. Great to be here with you tonight.

[00:02:50]Amy Goyer:  Great, it’s looking good in that kitchen there. I kind of wish I was there instead of here in Washington, D.C.

[00:02:58]Andrew Zimmern:  It smells really good. I wish I was cooking for all of you who are out there tonight, truly.

[00:03:02]Amy Goyer:  I know, I’m sure, but I bet we’re going to get some great tips from you tonight.

[00:03:07]Andrew Zimmern:  It’s going to be fun.

[00:03:08]Amy Goyer:  I’d like to start with a question that we’ve heard from many family caregivers and AARP members about how they are caring for loved ones and approaching this holiday season differently. Let’s play a video that we received from Deb, a family caregiver from Massachusetts.

[00:03:28]Deb:  I’m Deb. I’m 71, and I’m a caregiver for my partner. We’re going to have a nice quiet Thanksgiving here. I’ve ordered a turkey breast. We’ll have a turkey breast, and we’ll have leftovers for a couple of days. And we will FaceTime. We will Zoom. We will be safe. We will be friendly. And next year, hopefully everyone will still be around. I hate being isolated. I’m very social. I miss my chorus. I miss going to the senior center. I miss seeing our family. … Our older granddaughter lived with us, and it would come every Thanksgiving for days, and do I miss that? Yes, of course I miss that. But, you know, you do what you have to do for the greater good, and for the good of everybody in the family.

[00:04:31]Amy Goyer:  Oh, Deb. Thanks for sharing that. You know, Annette, as we just saw in that video from Deb, family caregivers are worried about being isolated this year and not getting to see family in person. What has AARP heard from caregivers about how they are feeling at this point in the pandemic?

[00:04:49]Annette Franqui:  So, as we all know, this pandemic has been much longer and much more traumatic than what we anticipated at the beginning. We recently surveyed a thousand caregivers about how they’re feeling at this stage in the pandemic and what changes they think they’re going to be doing to their holiday plans. And what we found out is that more than half of the family caregivers are feeling much sadder about the holiday season. And many of them feel that COVID-19 has impacted the mental health or the mental health of the people that they are caring for. I can tell you that we have seen this a little bit with our mother. We feel that she has deteriorated in many areas because she has not been able to do many of the things that gave her joy and that kept her engaged and alert — such as going to her physical therapy, going out to dinner with my sister and me, or seeing our granddaughter. But this is the way it is right now. We’re also hearing that most people are making changes to their holiday plans, as you said. And even for those who plan to get together, the interactions will probably be very different. You’ll have a lot less hugs, probably, maybe some mask wearing as well as limiting the size of the gatherings of people. We know that we usually do a really big Thanksgiving, and this year it’s going to be much smaller.

[00:06:08]Amy Goyer:  Thank you, Annette. It’s so true. I think we’re all kind of facing these same kinds of questions. In fact, plenty of us are asking some version of this question right now. Is it safe to get together with my family?

[00:06:22]Annette Franqui:  Earlier this afternoon, we had an event with Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Francis Collins from the National Institutes of Health, and the same question was asked. And they are the experts. So I’m going to let you play what they said.

[00:06:36]Anthony Fauci:  You need to keep your group as small as you possibly can. And the recommendation is that you don’t have people with you that don’t live with you. If family does come in from outside you should make sure they understand, were they with people that were not part of their immediate family. Each individual family needs to make their own individual decision based on a risk benefit, determination. The best way to show your love for your relatives and your friends and your family is to keep yourself safe.

[00:07:15]Francis Collins:  I know people are tired of all of the restrictions and requirements, but I’m afraid we really, if anything, need to double down right now; the vaccines do represent a light at the end of the tunnel, but the tunnel’s still got a ways to go. It’s still going to be up to all of us to be paying attention to those three Ws: wear your mask; when you’re outside moving around, certainly watch your distance, that 6-foot distance; wash your hands.

[00:07:44]Amy Goyer:  That was such important guidance from Dr. Fauci and Dr. Collins. As you make holiday plans, please, please be sure to follow local public health guidelines to keep your family safe. … Annette, before we get to some of our caller questions, AARP surveyed caregivers and found that many of them were feeling increased stress and worry this holiday season. Can you tell us what are some ways that folks can be sure to kind of take care of themselves during this challenging time?

[00:08:24]Annette Franqui:  Amy, as you mentioned, this is a really tough time, especially for the 48 million caregivers that are in the U.S. And if you’re not a caregiver today, chances are that you either will be a caregiver or you will have somebody take care of you. Usually during this time … I’d like to think that even in bad situations like this, there’s always a silver lining. Usually at this time of the year, we’re running around like crazy trying to finish all the end-of-the-year things for work, doing travel plans, planning social engagements etc., shopping for gifts … and this year, all of that is gone, or a lot of that has gone. Which means that perhaps we can use that time to do things that can make us feel better about the fact that we may not be seeing a lot of our family members and that can help us take care of ourselves. Take the time to maybe reach out to a friend that you haven’t talked to for a really long time, or talk to an aunt or an uncle that sometimes keeps you too long in the phone, but you now have the time to do that. Take a walk, go and look at the lights. And now that we’re all, you know, I think we’ve all become video experts, there are many things that you can do, activities that you can share through videos with some of the family members. And AARP also has wonderful resources. We have a caregiving support group in Facebook and a caregiving helpline. And you can also find some more resources at aarp.org/caregiving or aarp.org/mental health.

[00:09:58]Amy Goyer:  Thank you. Annette. As I mentioned before, I was a caregiver for multiple family members. And when things were the most intense caring for my parents and my sister from a distance and had so much going on, sometimes I would notice those red flags that I was starting to really head into burnout. And, you know, I got better and better at noticing those red flags. I think sometimes it’s hard to see them in ourselves, and our friends and loved ones can say, hey, you need to do something. Listen to them … I always say I have to fill my tank. My car can’t run on empty and neither can I, so doing little things — like my sisters and I have been watching movies together on the phone; they’re across the country, but we still get to watch those holiday movies together.

[00:10:42]Annette Franqui:  That’s great.

[00:10:43]Amy Goyer:  So now it’s time to take your questions. I’d like to welcome Jean Setzfand to our discussion to help facilitate your calls. Welcome Jean.

[00:10:52]Jean Setzfand:  Hi Amy, thanks. Delighted to be here. Our calls are coming in. So I think I have a question for Annette. This question is from Dave, from Virginia.

[00:11:02]Amy Goyer:  Dave, go ahead with your question.

[00:11:04]Dave:  Hi, good evening. Thank you for having these types of events. I appreciate that, and also to Chef Zimmern for bringing his adventures, food adventures to me through his programs. I’m a real big fan. Thank you for joining us tonight. But more to the point, I was wondering what has AARP been doing to help its members during this pandemic?

[00:11:25]Annette Franqui:  Nice for you to join us. So … when I look at what we’ve been doing, I mean, we’ve been working diligently for all of our members and really for all older adults in the U.S. And we are really looking at a number of areas. We’re advocating for members and for older adults, for caregivers, and also for nursing home residents. We’re also fighting fraud and we’re reaching out to the community. … When you look at what has been happening in nursing homes, we are making sure that we work with government leaders so that the nursing homes have appropriate testing, appropriate PPE, virtual visitations, and things like that. We’re also helping caregivers with a lot of information through our website, and we’re also continuing to watch out for scams that can be out there. You know, the scammers never sleep. And as we have heard, some of the coronavirus issues have lent themselves to scammers, trying to provide fraud for people. So we’re very busy, and we will continue to be.

[00:12:32]Amy Goyer:  Thank you, Annette. Jean, who’s our next caller?

[00:12:36]Jean Setzfand:  All right. We have a question actually from YouTube. Colin’s asking, “For those of us with family in nursing homes, this has been an especially hard time. What is AARP doing to help those of us in this situation?”

[00:12:50]Annette Franqui:  I thank you for that question. As many of you know, many of the deaths in the pandemic have been in nursing homes, and it has been extremely difficult for families that have members in nursing homes that have not been able to see them. So we have been working to make sure, first of all, that the residents are well taken care of, that the caregivers there have the appropriate testing and equipment, but also to make sure that we facilitate virtual visitation. That has been extremely important and can help fight isolation for both a family member and the nursing home resident. And I think on a longer-term basis, we are also making sure that the long-term care facilities in the nursing homes, do not get immunity from liability, and that the situation gets better as we continue to go along.

[00:13:42]Amy Goyer:  Great. Thank you so much, Annette. Jean, do we have another caller or a question?

[00:14:01]Jean Setzfand:  I may have one more for Annette. This is Doris from L.A.

[00:14:06]Amy Goyer:  Go ahead, Doris.

[00:14:08]Doris:  Hi, I’m Doris, and I’m glad to be a part of this program. I’m just calling to find out if it’s safer for two or four family members to get together that may not belong to the same household. To get together in the kitchen area, the dining area, or outdoors? I’d like to know what is safer.

[00:14:42]Annette Franqui:  Hi, Doris. This is Annette. I think I would follow the advice that Dr. Fauci and Dr. Collins said, which is that you really have to look at the risks and benefits of getting together with members of other households and really ask what is the different situation in each. So I would suggest that maybe you consult with your family members and see what you feel comfortable about. And as they suggested, we need to continue to wear masks and to try to keep a distance and to make sure that we’re not exposing ourselves unnecessarily.

[00:15:20]Amy Goyer:  Thank you.

[00:15:20]Annette Franqui:  We all need to keep safe.

[00:15:22]Amy Goyer:  Absolutely. Thank you so much, Annette. I think, again, these are the questions we’re all concerned about, so thank you all for these great questions. It’s just really wonderful to hear from all of you. I know you’re all waiting for us to check in with Andrew Zimmern to see what he is cooking. But before we do that, I want to share another question that was sent in from Roberto … in Virginia.

[00:15:48]Roberto:  Hi, I’m Roberto from Virginia. Regardless of how much they logically understand the current situation, family traditions held for years will be broken this year. How can we keep the emotional positive outlook with remote parents we’re not able to visit?

[00:16:05]Amy Goyer:  Ah, yes, I think that is a good question for our Chef Andrew Zimmern. Welcome Andrew. We all want to see what you’ve been cooking up, but before we get to peek at your dishes, our caller wants to know, what do you think are some ways that we can still create a meaningful experience with loved ones when we’re not there, we’re not sitting next to each other gushing about how good the sweet potatoes are?

[00:16:30]Andrew Zimmern:  I think there are many ways, and it’s really a question that we’re all asking ourselves. Obviously, there’s the sharing of food. People are planning Zoom meals, they’re planning FaceTime meals, whatever technical advantage that we have at our disposal allows us to include other people. But there’s also game night, there’s co-viewing of movies, as I think you mentioned earlier, which I think is a wonderful idea. But then there are the old-fashioned things. Remember the telephone. I’ve made a list of about 20 or 30 people that I’m going to reach out to. I’m cooking for one this year. I’m used to cooking for 24 at the table, another 24 dropping in. So I am going to be reaching out to a lot of friends and family, and sending them my well-wishes and telling everybody why I’m grateful for them. I sort of started to make a gratitude list. Thanksgiving is a wonderful, wonderful holiday for expressing gratitude. It’s really one of the points of the holiday. And I think we can still focus on that. The other thing we can do is we can check in if we’re able to on those that are around us. So many people are at home and not able to cook for other people. So I’m going to probably still end up cooking for eight or 12 folks and carrying some food around and leaving food on stoops of my neighbors’ houses who I know can’t leave the house and have self-expressed to me that they’re not necessarily confident in their cooking and were doing something very modest for the holiday, and I want to make sure to cheer them up. I’d also like to get back to something that — I think it was Deb — the first caller said. Here was someone who’s a caregiver herself, who was completely outwardly focused, 100 percent, on what she was doing for the holiday, as opposed to what she was receiving. And I think this is where the great paradox is about supporting caregivers. AARP does such a fantastic job advocating for older Americans, but they’re also the largest advocate for family caregivers. And when you look at the sum totality of caregiving in America, the majority is done by family and friends, not by those in the professional ranks. And so many of us who, I mean, I cared for my parents the last years of their life. I’ve continued to care for them. I’m also a parent. So I understand what that is all about. We tend, as you indicated before, to not to want to put our own gas mask on first or an oxygen tank, right? Take care of yourself first, and that means including some activities that you want to get out of the house, take a walk, make a list of some things ahead of time that you’re going to do that day, for yourself. I think those are all really, really important things — not just the outwardly pieces of service work that we can do, but what we can do for ourselves as well.

[00:19:32]Amy Goyer:  You know, oh my gosh. So many great points, Andrew, that you’ve made there. And I always say, it’s not selfish, it’s just practical to take care of ourselves. Caregivers always feel guilty about doing something for ourselves, and you make a good point. You know, in many ways we focus out so much. It’s OK to do good things for ourselves as well, right?

[00:19:51]Andrew Zimmern:  That’s exactly right. … You know, I love the Sunday Times crossword puzzle. So I dragged out my crossword puzzle books — I know at some point during the day [on Thanksgiving] , probably before football, I’m going to get onto the sofa. I love doing crossword puzzles and I realized I haven’t done one in six months. It’s been a crazy time dealing with the pandemic, keeping businesses afloat, caring for other people, trying to care for myself, things have gone topsy-turvy, and I realized I’ve forgotten to keep doing some of the things that I love to do. And I realized one of them was crossword puzzles. I know it seems like a little thing, but just knowing that I can spend an hour or two focusing on that is something that I’m really looking forward to and haven’t done in quite a while.

[00:20:39]Amy Goyer:  Right, it’s those things that fill you up. Now, I’ve always had music in my life, and I haven’t been singing. So I started; I’m doing an online choir. Whatever it is that fills your tank like that. And I love that you’re cooking for neighbors and you’re going to make some phone calls.

[00:20:54]Andrew Zimmern:  Yeah, I miss going to … I’m a live-music junkie. I mean, I try to see live music two or three nights a week. You like to sing, so maybe we should exchange numbers.

[00:21:04]Amy Goyer:  Yeah. Really, I’ll sing. You can listen to me. It’s good.

[00:21:07]Andrew Zimmern:  That’s exactly right.

[00:21:09]Amy Goyer:  I’ll even give you long-distance piano lessons. How’s that?

[00:21:12]Andrew Zimmern:  That’s fine. I actually started taking long-distance guitar lessons a couple of weeks ago. So many guitar teachers are out of work. And so they’re offering discounts on classes, over Zoom, and I started doing it a couple of weeks ago. That’s another thing that you can do for yourself. A great piece of advice was given me a long time ago, which was as we get older, we tend to focus only on the things that we’re good at. We don’t … we’re not good about starting new things, trying new things. You mentioned piano lessons. Deb mentioned chorus, for herself. I just … I’m struck by how important it is that we constantly try to go out there and do new things for ourselves to keep life fresh and exciting.

[00:21:56]Amy Goyer:  It’s such fantastic advice, and, in fact, talking about new things, we talk about the fact that some people are going to be cooking for themselves this year for Thanksgiving that aren’t used to doing that. And I think a lot of people staying home have really gotten into cooking. So I know that Annette is joining me with this, and we’re really anxious to see what’s next. So … talk about your recipes? Tell me what you’re working on. What can we learn?

[00:22:20]Andrew Zimmern:  All of these recipes are on the aarp.org website. I think it’s aarp.org/caregiving. The recipes are there. People can find them. They’re also at andrewzimmern.com. There’s a lot of ways to reference this stuff. We also have hundreds — well, thousands actually — of recipes on my website, but hundreds in our Thanksgiving folders designed for any size group. One of the ironies about this Thanksgiving is that we’ve spent 30 years in food media in America telling everyone here’s how to take a recipe and quadruple it for 16 people. Now we have to take everything and make it smaller, and turkeys don’t necessarily lend themselves to that. But what I’ve done here is … let me show you my sides, and then I’m going to get to the star of the show. I’ve made some roasted sweet potatoes. I seasoned them with goat butter and brown sugar. So you get that sour and that sweet with the roasted sweet potatoes; they’re really fantastic. I have some collard greens that I cook with ham hocks and honey and seasoned with a little cider vinegar. These are both things that can be done ahead. They don’t need to be done the day of. They reheat beautifully. They’re delicious side dishes. Very, very simple, affordable, and easy to upscale or downscale in terms of portion size. I also have a recipe for my key lime pie. The reason that I like this one, it doesn’t require a store-bought crust. It doesn’t require for you to make a pastry crust. It’s simply Graham Cracker cookies, ground crushed up — or any cookie really, brown sugar and butter to make the crust. And you can cook it in any size in any ovenproof container. You could even do them in coffee mugs, as long as the bottoms of them aren’t glazed. If you have a coffee mug or a dish that says on the back of it, oven safe, dishwasher safe and microwave safe, it can go into the oven at 325 degrees and you can make individual key lime pies, or ones like this one, which is good for two, three, or four people. I also have a whole turkey breast here, both sides of the breast. We had the butcher bone it for us. If you have the knife skills to do it, please go ahead and do it yourself. If you just want to do a half breast, by all means do that. I’ve taken the turkey tenders out. I’m going to set those to the side, because that’s a whole other meal for one or two people. And then I have these breasts that are very, very thin on one end at the front, and they’re very thick at the other. So I’m going to even that out by slicing through and taking that piece of meat and laying one here at the top on top of this big piece of skin. And I’m going to do the same thing with another one right here and lay that down in this little area. And I’m just going to slice some of this meat off and place it so that my turkey is all even at about … an inch and a half of depth. And then what I’m going to do is, I’m going to take my favorite stuffing recipe — mine is made with chestnuts. And I’m going to put a tube of stuffing down the middle of this bird. The rest I’ll cook in the oven. And the reason that I like this is that I like stuffing and turkey. It is my favorite part about Thanksgiving. And I don’t want to give that up. So whether it’s a half breast or a whole breast, here’s a fantastic technique that allows you very easily to roll these two sides of the turkey together, holding onto those wings, roll this piece up at the front. Let me turn this sideways so everyone can see what I’m doing, and then I just take the skin here at the front and I fold it over. And I essentially have a boneless stuffed roast turkey.

[00:26:24] Then, of course, the question becomes, well, how do we prevent the whole thing from falling apart and how is it going to stay roasted in the oven? And that’s where this string that I’m wearing comes in. This is a very, very simple butchering technique. You can simply take six pieces of footlong kitchen string — twine tends to be a little too skinny for me and can break through the skin, so I like to use a softer kitchen string. It’s a little thicker. Or you can do it the French way by looping a larger piece of string through each piece, knotting or cording as you move through it, and all we’re going to do, and this, by the way, is the bottom of our bird. We’re going to roast it skin side up in a roasting pan. It only takes about an hour and 15 minutes. So you can see here as we begin to cinch this up and come down here to the end, that it is super, super, super easy. We even have a video, I think, of me doing this on our website, and all we do is once we make that last pass of the string, I just bring this whole string up over and in-between these two wing bones, back down through the bottom like I was trussing a bird, and I tie it off against one of my loops. And I’m going to flip this over and show you how beautiful it looks because later on, we’re going to be doing some testing because I made one in the oven. I’m going to take my gloves off.

[00:28:27] By the way, I keep the gloves around because it makes it easier than washing my hands. When I’m working with poultry or fish, gloves like this allow me to constantly be working and touching other foods and avoiding cross-contamination. So when I flip this over, you can see I have a beautiful, uniformed package of turkey that will roast up very evenly. Rub that with butter, season it with salt and pepper, put it in a roasting pan in a cradle or just in a big pan or a sheet tray, and slide it into a 350 degree oven. A lot of people say, well, hey, with a turkey like that, how am I going to make my gravy? Well, I have a gravy recipe as part of the AARP package as well. I make my gravies ahead of time, cause I always like to have some in the freezer. And I make mine with the bones from the turkey, leftover chicken wings and chicken parts, or I’ll just buy a couple of pounds of chicken wings and roast them with onions and vegetables in a pan till they’re all dark and caramelized, then boil them in chicken broth and make a very, very, very strong liquid that I then thicken in with a little bit of roux, and I have this delicious gravy right here that I’m able to serve with my bird.

[00:29:44] So later on, I think during our next section, I’m going to take our turkey that I roasted out of the oven and show it off to everybody because I’m so proud of this recipe. It’s a really easy way to keep Thanksgiving simple and still maintain the traditions we like. Now, as I said before, I’m going to cook a whole turkey this year and portion it out, but the great thing about this is that if you are a caregiver and if you’re a professional one taking care of a couple people, or if you have some different family members, you’re going to do the drive by thing. I think Roberto’s question, or someone’s question earlier today was about how we’re gathering and, you know, Dr. Fauci has given some fantastic advice. But if you can’t be with everybody and you love to cook, if you’re the cooking person in the family, you could slice this, pair it with everything, put it into some to-go containers and drop goodies off for all of your relatives, all over town, and do it in a contactless way and still be able to share the love of cooking with your family members.

[00:30:55]Amy Goyer:  Oh my gosh, Andrew, it all looks so incredible. In fact, one of the things I did a lot as a caregiver was, I would cook more and freeze in individual serving sizes so that I could, on those days when it was really hard to take care of my mom and dad and cook, I had something already made. So people can also do that with their Thanksgiving meals.

[00:31:14]Andrew Zimmern:  You know something, I tend to cook three or four things every Sunday. It’s like my yoga, I have a football game on or some music, and I just get lost in the cooking and the rhythm of it. And I put things in the freezer, or as we call it here in Minnesota, outdoors, which makes it super convenient. But, you know, soups and stews and braises and things like that. And the reason why I love cooking whole birds or doing something like this is that the leftover meat is great for turkey tetrazzini or turkey a la king or all those wonderful leftover thanksgiving dishes that we love to use. I happen to be one of those people who loves turkey, and those are on my website, as well. But just so you know, people are really clear, all of the recipes that are out here today, the greens, the sweet potatoes, the pie, the gravy, the boneless stuffed turkey, all the recipes, super easy to do, they’re at the website, aarp.org/caregiving, and all you have to do is take that turkey breast out of, off the shelf in the refrigerator section, and bring it to the butcher at the supermarket. And they are more than happy to remove the bones for you. It’s not an uncommon request this time of year, and there’s lots of great videos online, including at andrewzimmern.com, if people want to see me doing it. It’s a very, very simple process. You don’t need to overcomplicate it. And, for those that may have some reason why they don’t want to do it boneless, you can buy the turkey breast on the bone, just put the stuffing in the pan and put the turkey on top of it so that it drips down onto the stuffing. You’ll get the exact same results. Don’t overcomplicate it. It’s just food.

[00:33:04] The important part of this holiday is that you’re actually doing something. Don’t sit around. We talked about the mental health aspect. You know, the numbers on mental health issues are skyrocketing in every single age group and especially amongst caregivers and our oldest Americans. We don’t do a good job in America of bringing our older Americans in. We tend culturally to be pushing them away. And I know that there are so many people out there that really need that warm hug that food gives. So the important thing is not necessarily to follow the recipes, or to maniacally … I mean, perfection is the enemy of good, right? We just want people to cook and enjoy the holiday and be able to do something for and with themselves and share something with another human being. I think that’s as much about what we need to do this coming Thursday as anything else.

[00:33:56]Amy Goyer:  So true. Everyone needs purpose, right? Thank you so much, Andrew.

[00:34:19] So many caregivers are dealing with increased stress and responsibilities right now this year. And we’ve talked about that this evening; what are some of the tips that we can do to streamline meal prep and make it a little easier this year? You’re so eloquent about it, and I love watching you cook, but how do we make it easy for everyone?

[00:34:40]Andrew Zimmern:  I think you need to remember that Thanksgiving is so ironically the one holiday where traditionally people who don’t cook that often cook abnormally large amounts of food in abnormally large quantities in a pressure-filled environment where they feel judged by all their family members in kitchens that are too small using containers that aren’t big enough to actually make them. So people have actually for decades been doing a much better job than they ever imagined. But I think we need to keep it really simple these days … that’s why mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes, simply seasoned, boiled greens, things that you can do the day beforehand. If you’ve gone sort of in a very, very food forward direction and done a whole bunch of roasted root vegetables with a brown butter vinaigrette and insisted on doing them right before everyone sat down, maybe this is the year that you skip that one and you do like twice-baked, stuffed potatoes, right? Something that can take the pressure off yourself by doing things ahead of time. Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity is the name of the game. The pie that I have on the website, the key lime pie, is something that can be done the day beforehand as well. It’s the simplest custard of all. It’s almost impossible to curdle and it’s kept in the refrigerator and taken out for service right beforehand. And I love the idea of doing the gravy, even if you’re roasting a whole bird — let’s say you’re podded down with family members and six or eight of you are getting together and you’re going to roast a turkey; do the gravy ahead of time. The more you can do ahead of time, the better. And the other thing is if you have family members in another residence who you have podded with over the last couple of months, and Dr. Fauci has indicated that if you’ve been podding with those people, you can continue to be with those people, dole out some jobs. Let someone else pick up the beverages, let someone else bring a pie, right? Focus on the things that you want to do and that you love cooking, and you’re going to find the experience is more successful.

[00:36:47]Amy Goyer:  You know, it reminds me Andrew, when I was taking care of my parents and they lived with me, I finally got to where I ordered in a good bit of the holiday meals, but only made the dishes that were really traditional in our family. And like my grandmother’s green beans and things that really were important to us to make … and it was such a relief. It made it so much easier. And like you say, those green beans are actually better the next day.

[00:37:13]Andrew Zimmern:  Well, here’s the funny thing. We’ve been in a food revolution has been going on for the last three decades here in America. So there’s never been a time where there have been more places doing more cooking at a high level for you than we have now. And those pastry shops, cheese stores, charcuterie places, restaurants that are doing Thanksgiving packages, bake shops doing extra types of pies, all of those people have been really kneecapped financially over the last nine months by the coronavirus. So they need your support in dollars. So there’s no better time ever to actually be paying for food and bringing it in, and the quality is going to be spectacular as well. I’m doing a lot of that. I’ve always made a pie myself and then bought four or five other pies, because there are a lot of pie makers in Minnesota who are a lot better than I am at it. And they have fantastic pastry shops, and they need our support.

[00:38:12]Amy Goyer:  Oh, that sounds like such a great idea. And of course I love pie. So now I want to share another story that was sent in. And this is from Diana in Oklahoma.

[00:38:24]Diana:  Hi. That question about, are you going to decorate for Christmas? That one hit me right between the eyes because after Thanksgiving wasn’t going so great, nobody was going to show up, I had myself a real pity party. My brain understands. Everybody’s hunkered down, keeping safe, but my heart doesn’t. And my eyes would leak. So, I decided I was going to decorate the bare minimum, that was it. And my girlfriend called. She said, nope, you’re going to decorate because it’ll make you happy. You do it because it’ll make you happy. And she wasn’t going to let me off the phone until I promised to decorate. So she was right. Decorating is fun. It makes me happy. So decorate. You’ll enjoy it. Happy holidays, all.

[00:39:31]Amy Goyer:  Oh, thank you so much, Diana. She’s a member of our Facebook family caregivers discussion group, and what she shared about holiday traditions and decorating. Annette, I know that you’re caregiver for your mother, and you probably have some really important favorite holiday memories and traditions with her. What are some of those? And will you be simplifying any of those traditions this year?

[00:39:55]Annette Franqui:  Some. My mother has suffered from dementia for a number of years, but we’re super lucky in that she lives close to my sister, and she lives close to my husband and me, which is great. And here we are in a picture. The holidays … I’m from Puerto Rico, so the holidays were always super important in our family, and in Puerto Rico the holidays last for a really long time. So we especially love Christmas, and it was customary for us when we were growing up to stay up late trimming the tree. And one thing that we have been doing for many years is that we gathered all of the ornaments that we had from growing up. And we split them between my sister and me. And every year we trim our trees together. And what happens is that we look at these ornaments that we’ve had since we were kids, and it’s really like seeing old friends because we have stories around all of them. I am also a big Thanksgiving person, and this is really the only meal that I can cook. And, I usually do a very big Thanksgiving and that gives me a pass for the rest of the year. So this year, even though I’m only cooking for four, I’m hoping to get the same reprieve and get the credit for the rest of the year.

[00:40:05]Amy Goyer:  Oh, that sounds like a great idea. We all … I think we’re all adjusting things this year and we’re going to be trying to keep some of our family traditions. I’m going to be across the country from my sisters, too. So it’s hard. I was thinking about Thanksgivings in the past and my mom was such a great cook, but the one thing that … I’m the youngest of four girls, and so all day long we were always like, is the turkey done yet? Is the turkey done yet? So Andrew, how’s the turkey coming?

[00:41:32]Andrew Zimmern:  The turkey is done, but I have to tell you, Amy, Annette, thank you so much for organizing this, and thank you to all the people at AARP who made this happen. That last video just got me right in the feels. That wonderful human being sharing about the pity party that turned into an action plan for doing something that made her happy reminded me of one of my favorite sayings, “You can’t think your way into right acting, but you can act your way into right thinking.” So if you actually do things, you can change how you think and feel. And if you just sit and stew with it, nothing is going to change. And I really needed to hear that tonight. And it’s just so uplifting to hear all of these plans and know that there are people who are leaning into the positivity and staying out of the negativity.

[00:42:31] One of the big positives for me is how beautifully this turkey turned out. I just literally took this out of the oven. I’ve lifted it out of the roasting pan. I put mine in a pan that has a cradle in it, and you can see here it’s just dark and toasty and roasty and delicious. And you can cut that string, and peel that away. If you see pieces of string that are easy to cut by all means do them. I oftentimes don’t like to dig in with my knife. The reason some pieces are easier to cut is because the string actually reveals itself to be a little looser because the meat shrinks. So if you have an opportunity, by all means, go ahead and cut it. It makes carving easier, but I’m just going to show you how beautifully this roast works. Slice after slice is a moist combination of just the right amount of skin and stuffing. I’m just gonna move this back here. It’s super crispy. It’s really delicious. It holds together beautifully. And I think you can see from this one, I’ve just got to peel this piece of string away before I put some on the plate; it’s super moist. It’s much easier to control the cook on this kind of turkey, simply because you don’t have to fight the difference between when the dark meat is ready, and the light meat is ready. So here’s a little bit of potato. I’m going to put a little bit of greens on that plate. Again, the recipes for everyone are at aarp.org/caregiving. A little bit of gravy. And it really is that simple. It’s a fantastic holiday meal that’s delicious, traditional, but definitely downscaled and simple for everyone to make this year.

[00:44:36]Amy Goyer:  Andrew, it looks so, so good. I wish I could taste that turkey, and I loved your practical tips about the string and all of those things. So are the things that help us actually be able to cook and learn new things. And I have a surprise. I actually stayed up all night last night, cooking some of your dishes. And so I made … and I have not tasted them yet. Now this is true self-control, I have to tell you. Ooh, aah, right? So I’m going to first try the greens. Here we go. Let’s see.

[00:45:11]Andrew Zimmern:  Those look perfect by the way.

[00:45:16]Amy Goyer:  Hmm. Oh my gosh, they’re really good. And I’ve cooked them, and they’re good. And then these are the sweet potatoes.

[00:45:24]Andrew Zimmern:  You know what that look was — that was like, wow, this guy’s recipes really do turn out.

[00:45:30]Amy Goyer:  It was like, he knows what he’s doing. I guess, you know what you’re doing, Andrew. Wow. I, oh, I cannot … I might have to take a break here and just finish eating, ’cause this is so good. I do need the turkey though. I’m going to have to try the turkey recipe.

[00:45:43]Andrew Zimmern:  OK, please do, please try it, and don’t forget the key lime pie. Got to have the key lime pie.

[00:45:47]Amy Goyer:  Oh, I love key lime pie. Can I call you if I have questions?

[00:45:50]Andrew Zimmern:  Of course you can.

[00:45:53]Amy Goyer:  While we are ...

[00:45:55]Andrew Zimmern:  I’d be delighted.

[00:45:56]Amy Goyer:  Oh, thank you. I’m going to have to get your number there so we can do that. One thing I did want to say is while we have you talking about recipes … I mentioned earlier, my grandmother’s green beans, which are, you know, you fry some onion and bacon in a pan and you add the … they have to be canned green beans, that’s what she always used, and then some apple cider vinegar, or sometimes we used balsamic vinegar and twisted it a little bit and teeny little bit of sugar. So that’s my grandmother’s green beans. What are some of your family holiday traditional foods?

[00:46:28]Andrew Zimmern:  I grew up on the East Coast and oysters were at the first Thanksgiving. It’s one of the few foods that we know for sure were cooked and served that first Thanksgiving. And, so I always do what oyster chowder, and I put it by the front door so as guests come in, they take their shoes off, their coats off, because remember it’s cold in Minnesota, and we give them a warm mug of soup. I don’t think there’s a better way to tell someone that you care about them than putting a hot mug or bowl or coffee cup of soup into their hand. So that was a big one.

[00:47:03] The other one was our green bean casserole, which years ago I started playing around with and I lightened it up tremendously. That recipe is on our website. We actually make a puree of mushrooms and almonds and shallots and tarragon, and crisp it in a pan and put it over steamed green beans. It’s got all of the flavor of the green bean casserole without any of the calories. And I’m a big fan of all of those sides. We’ve got dozens of them on our website. When I start thinking about the chestnuts and the sweet and sour onions and the roasted root vegetables in brown sugar, and brown butter vinaigrette, and all of those things, the stuffing, the gravies, it absolutely gets me salivating. I couldn’t, I had to break in. I thought you were going away from me, so I started nibbling already. But yeah, those are the things that bring up those great memories, and, of course, the pie. My grandmother used to take little pieces of white bread and cut them into circles with a cookie cutter and put a little shmear of chicken fat on there, or butter and a single anchovy, and that was her fancy hors d’oeuvre. And I do them now as an homage to her, just cause it’s so traditional. And I look forward to that flavor every year. And bread, butter and anchovies, it’s a classic combination. She just did it in such a New York City apartment, grandma stretching, pinching pennies, you know, managing to do something a little zhuzhed up and hors d’oeuvrey, still very rootsy. I just love it.

[00:48:45]Amy Goyer:  That’s so great. You know our memories are stimulated by taste and smell and all of our senses. So try and do one traditional dish this year. So, but let’s go ask some questions, get some questions from our audience. I know you all have questions that you’re waiting to ask. So Jean who’s on the line?

[00:49:04]Jean Setzfand:  Our first caller for Andrew is Maria from Georgia.

[00:49:09]Amy Goyer:  Great. OK, go ahead, Maria.

[00:49:12]Maria:  I had a question, a very important question to me is, I found out that the turkey is 48 cents a pound. So I want to buy a turkey. I have … but the thing is before I always bought a turkey that they haven’t, not being frozen. This time they only have frozen turkeys. So my husband is going to deliver a question, and thank you, this has been really wonderful for us, but my husband is going to deliver the question that I have. Is it safe to buy a frozen turkey thawed, and then have it cut in quarters and then refreeze it before you cook it? What I would do is I go to the Kroger in the morning.

[00:50:06]Andrew Zimmern:  No, that’s a great question. And this comes up all the time. Let me tell you, let me fill you in on a couple of facts. If you get a frozen turkey, you want to make sure you buy it four days before you’re going to cook it, so that you put it in the refrigerator because those big turkeys are like a solid ice cube. It’s going to take all of 72 hours for it to defrost completely in the refrigerator. When that happens, you can then take the turkey out and you can cut it into its different parts. Right? What I would typically do, and what I would tell you is my suggestion, since we’re all indoors this year — roast the white meat. In other words, take the legs and thighs off the bird. Roast the double breast together, stuffed or unstuffed, and serve that, have that that day. You can eat leftovers off that like crazy. Take the dark quarters, the legs and thighs — either as whole pieces or cut into two legs, two thighs — brown and braise them. Just simply brown and braise them. You can do that simply in a large pan or in a pot in the oven. Some vegetables, a little bit of broth. Let that cook for two hours, two hours and 15 minutes, at 350 degrees after you’ve browned it. You can add a little bit of wine. Of course you can make that as fancy as you like, but just with some broth and vegetables, you will then have meat cooked that is much more delicious to freeze than to refreeze raw meat and defrost it a second time. So I’d rather have you cook two dishes, one for eating on Thanksgiving day. And one that you’re going to brown and braise for eating later on, and you can freeze it for months, and it’s super, super easy.

[00:52:06]Amy Goyer:  Great. So cook it, and then you can refreeze it. That makes a lot of sense.

[00:52:11]Andrew Zimmern:  Especially if you braise it in liquid. And if you do that with the dark meat, which is a lot more friendly to freezing as a cooked element than the white meat is, which is very, very lean.

[00:52:13]Amy Goyer:  Great. OK, Jean who’s our next caller?

[00:52:13]Jean Setzfand:  We have a question on Facebook. And this is coming from Bonnie and she says, “Love you, Chef Andrew. Do you have a separate cooking board for meat? What type of board you actually use?”

[00:52:39]Andrew Zimmern:  Yeah, I use wood for everything cause it’s easier to cut on, it’s easier on my knives. And it, I don’t know if you noticed, I actually put this board behind me that I did the turkey on, so I didn’t create cross-contamination, right? So this turkey has raw poultry on it, this board that was underneath it never had raw poultry on it. And I have three or four boards, well actually I have like nine here, but we do a lot of TV stuff, so I need lots of cutting boards. But at home I have two or three, and I’ll just stack them up or use one board, always for raw and one board always for cooked. Some people have different colored boards, and they do fish and vegetable and meat and poultry on them. I don’t get that crazy. Wood also has a natural disinfectant in it. So if it’s scrubbed, and dried well, and then oiled, it’s going to retard a lot of bacteria. And the other thing about wood is that plastic boards get little cut marks in them, and bacteria gets in there and doesn’t go out. With wood every couple of months I just take my cutting board into the garage, 45 seconds of sanding and then wipe it with a damp cloth. And every little nick comes right out of here, and it’s super easy to take care of. I love cooking, and my cutting boards and my knives are my most precious, precious possessions.

[00:54:08]Amy Goyer:  Great advice. In fact, I just recently switched to all wood cutting boards. So that’s, that’s good to know. Jean, do we have some more questions?

[00:54:16]Jean Setzfand:  Yes, we have another question from Facebook, and this is from Janice. She’s hoping to get some advice on the whole boneless turkey in terms of the variance of temperature between light and dark meat.

[00:54:29]Andrew Zimmern:  You’re doing a whole boneless turkey, and many people do — especially popular over the last five years is taking the backbone out and opening the turkey up. It’s a technique called spatchcocking. And essentially what you’re doing is you’re cooking a turkey, white meat breasts, semi-boneless. That only takes about 45 minutes to an hour in the oven with the dark quarters that take much, much longer. I’m a really big fan of — if you’re going to do it whole for presentation like that — scoring the underside of the dark quarters so they cook quicker. If I’m roasting a whole bird — and we have this hack is on my website, and I think I’m going to demo it on the Today show next Wednesday — a whole bird, I’ll put an inch or two of water or stock simmering in my roasting pan on the oven. And I’ll sit my turkey down in it where the backbone actually sits in the simmering liquid for 20, 25 minutes, so that I give the part of the turkey that takes the longest to cook a little bit of a head start. For most people simply scoring them or cutting on the underside between the leg and the thigh is a really, really valuable way to speed up the process there. The other thing that I would recommend is lower your heat. You can always — let’s say you’re grilling or roasting or whatever your methodology is — you can always increase the temperature at the end to crisp the skin. If you cook at a low temperature, it’s going to be much safer for your white meat and dark meat to come together at the same time. And the last thing that I would add — it’s become very popular over the last few decades to deep fry a whole turkey. Nothing to me is more dangerous or stupider or results in a variation of overcooked and undercooked meat. I fry turkeys all the time. And what I do is I break down the breasts into two pieces each, so I have four pieces of white meat — big ones, my two legs, my two thighs, and I soak those in buttermilk, toss them in seasoned flour and fry the pieces so that I’m frying the turkey pieces for 15, 18 minutes instead of a whole bird for 25 minutes or half an hour. If you fry a whole bird, you’re going to overcook your white meat before your dark meat is done. So I would encourage everyone if you’re going to fry turkey or grill turkey, do it in pieces.

[00:57:01]Amy Goyer:  Andrew, I am learning so much here. Can you please say your website one more time so that people know where all these great practical tips are?

[00:57:09]Andrew Zimmern:  All this info is in our thanksgivingbundle@andrewzimmern.com. I would encourage people to go in there. And I think if you — in the search bar — if you just stick in Thanksgiving, you can see all of these wonderful folders that have dozens and dozens of recipes in each of them. And I have a whole bunch of people on the other side of the camera nodding their heads. Next week we will be putting, I think, all of our Thanksgiving stuff on the front page of our website — I’m sure we do it every year so it’s easier to click on. And videos of me doing a lot of these recipes are of course, on our YouTube channel and also on our website.

[00:57:44]Amy Goyer:  That’s so great. Thank you so much. Jean, do we have any more questions?

[00:57:49]Jean Setzfand:  Yes, we have one last question. And this is Daryl from Washington, D.C.

[00:57:53]Daryl:  This is Daryl. What I was concerned about is — I’ve been hearing because of the virus that I wanted to find out, what’s the rule for wearing face masks in the house while you’re with other people?

[00:58:10]Amy Goyer:  Right. That’s a great question. Andrew, do you want to address that?

[00:58:14]Andrew Zimmern:  Absolutely … so many of the nation’s experts are from here in Minnesota, and I’m on a lot of a state and national boards where I get clued in by some of the best and the brightest in the business. And we wear a mask to protect other people and they wear one to protect us. And you know, when I’m with my family — whom I’ve podded with and who is regularly tested as I’m regularly tested for insurance for my TV work — I know they’re safe, so I’ll take my mask off around my son, but not if he’s been with all of his friends. Right. So we will then maintain social distancing while we’re together. I will wear a mask. He will wear a mask, and we’ll maintain that distance apart from each other. It’s really, really important, and I think if you remember what the doctors said in the interviews that we aired at the top of the show, you have to do an internal family risk assessment, right? If someone has not been exhibiting symptoms, and they’ve been podded or isolated for 10 days, you can infer that they are safer than someone who has only been isolated for a couple of days and has been surrounded by a lot of other people. I don’t think that this is the Thanksgiving that we want to mess around with that. And the reason is that I want to have a Christmas and a New Year’s, right? So let’s all try to be safe for the next two to four weeks so that we can be celebrating the holidays later in the year together and safely, with knowing that we’ve mitigated and contained the virus.

[00:59:59]Amy Goyer:  Thank you. That’s such great advice, Andrew, and you know, it is about taking care, protecting our loved ones we’re caring for, and protecting ourselves because who’s going to take care of them if something happens to us? This hour has gone so fast. I feel like there’s so much to talk about. But before we close, just maybe some final comments. Annette, is there something you’d like to add?

[01:00:22]Annette Franqui:  First of all, this has been so much fun and thank you to everyone for participating. I know this can be difficult times, but just remember to reach out, to take care of yourselves and remember the essence of the holidays and that this will not last forever. Pretty soon we’re going to be exchanging those virtual hugs for real hugs, and we’ll all be doing many of the things, hopefully, that we have been used to be doing. But this year, it’s the time to take care of ourselves and to take care of others, and have a wonderful holiday season.

[01:00:52]Amy Goyer:  Thank you, Annette. Andrew, any quick final words?

[01:00:57]Andrew Zimmern:  Just a huge debt of gratitude to AARP that very selflessly for so long has advocated for older Americans and for their caregivers. There is no one out there doing the work as diligently as AARP has been doing. And I’m just so grateful that you asked me to be a part of this. It was just a privilege and an honor to share tonight with you.

[01:01:24]Amy Goyer:  Thank you so much for being with us, both you and Annette. And Andrew, we’re so grateful to have you be part of our work tonight. And thank you for answering questions and letting us know that although we’re all physically distanced, just like the three of us are tonight, we can still be really connected and that’s the beauty of it, and that’s the gift that we have right now with technology and telephones and everything else. So, there’s still a lot to be thankful for this year and to focus on that gratitude. And part of that gratitude is a thank you to the AARP members and volunteers and listeners, and of course, all of you family caregivers who are out there caring for your loved ones throughout the pandemic. Thank you so much for participating in this discussion, and thank you for all you do. All of the resources referenced tonight can be found at aarp.org/caregiving on Nov. 20. And again, that website is aarp.org/caregiving. We hope that you’ve enjoyed tonight’s event and learned something, and that you can do some things to make your Thanksgiving really a special one and a delicious one. Please be sure to also tune in on Thursday, Dec. 3, at 1 p.m. ET for another AARP live event where experts will answer your questions related to staying safe and protected during the pandemic. You can watch it at aarp.org/coronavirus. Thank you and have a great evening and happy Thanksgiving. This concludes our live event.

[01:03:06]


For the latest coronavirus news and advice, go to AARP.org/coronavirus.


Replay previous AARP Coronavirus Tele-Town Halls

  • Nov 12 - Coronavirus: Coping and Maintaining Your Well-Being
  • Oct 1 - Coronavirus: Vaccines & Coping During the Pandemic
  • Sept 17 - Coronavirus: Prevention, Treatments, Vaccines & Avoiding Scams
  • Sept 3 - Coronavirus: Your Finances, Health & Family (6 months in)
  • Aug 20 - Your Health and Staying Protected
  • Aug 6 - Coronavirus: Answering Your Most Frequent Questions
  • June 18 and 20 - Strengthening Relationships Over Time and  LGBTQ Non-Discrimination Protections
  • June 11 – Coronavirus: Personal Resilience in the New Normal
  • July 23 - Coronavirus: Navigating the New Normal
  • July 16 - The Health and Financial Security of Latinos
  • July 9 - Coronavirus: Your Most Frequently Asked Questions
  • June 18 and 20 - Strengthening Relationships Over Time and  LGBTQ Non-Discrimination Protections
  • June 11 – Coronavirus: Personal Resilience in the New Normal
  • May 21 – Coronavirus: Caring for Loved Ones in Care Facilities With Special Guests Susan Lucci and Jo Ann Jenkins
  • May 14 –  Coronavirus: Veterans & Staying at Home With Lifestyle Experts
  • May 7 – Coronavirus: Protecting Your Health & Bank Account and Managing Your Career, Business & Income
  • April 30 – Coronavirus: Caring for Parents, Kids & Grandkids
  • April 23 – Coronavirus: Supporting Loved Ones in Care Facilities and Disparate Impact on Communities
  • April 16 – Coronavirus: Telehealth
  • April 9 – Coronavirus: Coping and Maintaining Your Well-Being
  • April 2 – Coronavirus: Managing Your Money and Protecting Your Health
  • March 26 – Coronavirus: Protecting and Caring for Loved Ones
  • March 19  Coronavirus: Protect Your Health, Wealth and Loved Ones
  • March 10 – Coronavirus: Symptoms. How to Protect Yourself, and What It Means for Older Adults and Caregivers