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EARLY START

Americans Evacuated Form Ship With Coronavirus; Coronavirus Charters To California And Texas; America's Choice 2020; Headed Democrats Try To Slow Michael Bloomberg's Rise; Calls For Attorney General Bill Barr To Resign; NBA's Electric All-Star Night; Trump And Barr On Solid Footing; Trump White House, President Trump Takes A Spin Around Track At Daytona 500; Storm Dennis Batters United Kingdom; Disney Mourns Nikita Pearl Waligwa; State Of Emergency In Mississippi; Caught On Video, Suspect Arrested In Tow Yard Theft; Team Lebron Wins NBA All-Star Game 157-155; China Returns To Work Amid Coronavirus Outbreak; China Fallout Could Cost NBA Hundreds Of Millions; The Price Of Wine Dropping Fast; More Rain Will Worsen Flooding In South; Snowmobilers Killed In Avalanche They Triggered; Former College Volleyball Stars Killed In Crash; Congratulations, You're Accepted- Not; Snakes On A Lake; Mystery Of Lost Pursed Solved; CNN Business, Stocks Close Mostly Higher. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired February 17, 2020 - 04:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[04:30:00]

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: New overnight, hundreds of Americans heading back home evacuated from a cruise ship hit by coronavirus. But not everyone was thrilled. Some choosing to stay behind.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Mike Bloomberg with a target on his back from fellow Democrats. He's facing renewed scrutiny for policies with minorities on the street and women from the workplace.

SANCHEZ: And a new format bringing a whole new energy to the NBA all- star game, an electric night on the court as players and fans pay tribute to Kobe Bryant. Welcome back to a special holiday edition of Early Start. I'm Boris Sanchez.

JARRETT: And I'm Laura Jarrett, 30 minutes -- 31 minutes past the hour here in New York. Overnight the U.S. evacuating more than 300 Americans from the Diamond Princess cruise ship quarantined in Japan because of coronavirus. The evacuation a relief for some, but it's also angering others. Some exhausted passengers say the move could actually setback their return to normal life, because they're going to have to be quarantined all over again in the U.S. That's why one couple from Sacramento decided against evacuating.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It really didn't make any sense if the U.S. were fearful these were infected people which is why they're going to quarantine them for another two weeks to have thrown them all together.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: And then officials announced another twist with the planes already in the air, 14 passengers who took part in the evacuation testing positive for coronavirus after leaving the ship still allowed on those chartered flights. The State Department and HHS say those people were isolated from other passengers during the flight. CNN's Will Ripley is at the cruise port in Yokohama. Will, it sounds like officials aren't giving these passengers very much information at all.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They are not and that has been a consistent source of frustrations for people on the Diamond Princess. Remember the Americans were told up until a couple of days ago repeatedly, like more than a dozen e-mails they say from the U.S. Embassy that after they finish the quarantine on the cruise ship they would be cleared to go directly home.

Then they found out the U.S. government is sending in these two 747 cargo planes charter flights to bring them back to the United States, but they don't get to go home. They have a new 14-day quarantine period in military bases in California and Texas. And even though those passengers have endured a very long journey, it took nearly 10 hours just to get them from the boat, 20 minutes' drive to the airport. They were sitting on the buses for hours, they were waiting for hours. When they got on the planes, they didn't know that some of their fellow passengers actually had tested positive for nova coronavirus. Because people who had the virus had been told including, you know, more than two dozen Americans that tested positive they didn't qualify for those flights.

And this was not a cushy journey back home. Listen to what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officers were telling passengers how to prepare for this grueling 10-hour flight back to the U.S.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dress in layers. This is converted cargo 747, so there's less insulation than regular passenger jets.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Got you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any questions?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you -- I was going to ask you something but I can't remember. Are we for sure going to be quarantined for 14 days?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I didn't like that answer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RIPLEY: So, what about the Americans who remain here in Japan, and there are a number of them whether they're in Japanese hospitals or still on the ship, those who elected not to go, the simple answer is, they don't know. They don't know what's going to happen. Where they will have to go, what they will have to do before they're allowed to get back to their lives. But for people who are on those flights, yes it is relief to be back on their home turf, be able to communicate with doctors who speak English fluently because that's been a consistent source of frustration here.

As for the patients who did tested positive, they were kept in isolation on the plane away from the other passengers. The Center for Disease Control says nobody in the aircraft was in any danger of becoming infected. But given all of the information and the roller coaster emotions, these people had gone through, Boris, you can understand why many are skeptical.

SANCHEZ: Yes. Incredibly frustrating. Will Ripley reporting from Yokohama. Thanks.

JARRETT: Meantime we're now seeing signs of life returning to normal in parts of China. CNN's David Culver is live in Shanghai with more. David, I know folks are starting to go back to work. I don't know if they're happy about that, but hopefully it means the situation is contained on the ground there?

[04:35:12]

DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Laura, here's the deal. I mean, officially the government is set to reopen businesses here, and they're asking folks when you own a business in certain companies, to try to come back online, try to regain a sense of that normalcy as you put it, but I've got to tell you, walking around much of Shanghai today and this is city of some 25 million people, this is the financial hub here in China, generally it is bustling and it is still eerily quiet.

I mean, you go through the heart of the financial district and there's only a handful of people out and about. If you continue on to some of the popular pedestrian plaza, where normally tourist are packed in and it's (inaudible) street and it's a lot of f shopping opportunities, very few stores are open. And the ones that are open, if you walk in it's almost as if the employees are desperate for customers. It really is -- a kind of sad reality that you're starting to see here.

So the city is struggling to comeback online, but the government has expected that some 160 million people will be traveling post the extended Lunar New Year holiday. And the reason they extended it, was to keep folks from congregating together. But it just seems as though -- folks are really are not traveling all that much. In fact even as we traveled here from Beijing the train was less than half full. I mean, it seems as though there's the attempt to try to come back, but as you put it the reality is far from that in this moment.

And you even go through some of the residential areas here as we are making our way around and they have chains locking some of the fences and they're closed off. And for the folks who lived there, they had to go through a single entry and exit point. So they have to go around wherever they live and have to check in and provide their travel and their health histories. So, it's a rather extreme containment effort that's happening here even in one of the largest cities in the world, the largest here in China. It's certainly not something that's going to restart overnight, Laura.

JARRETT: All right, it's likely to take a little bit longer. David, thanks so much.

SANCHEZ: Back to the states now, Democratic candidates taking aim at Michael Bloomberg as the billionaire former New York mayor rises in the polls. Bloomberg hasn't even competed in any contests yet, but starting with Super Tuesday in just over two weeks, the onetime Republican will try to carve a path in the moderate Democrat lane. Rivals are pouncing as old claims resurface about policies in minority communities and the culture at his corporate offices where he was accused of being hostile to women. He's also under scrutiny for the hundreds of millions of dollars he's poured into the campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, 2020 U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: $60 billion can buy you a lot of advertising, but it can't erase your record.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), U.S. DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I got to answer questions like I just did on my record. And he has to do the same thing. I don't think he should be able to hide behind airwaves and huge ad buys.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I-VT), U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Mike Bloomberg or anybody else spend hundreds of millions of dollars trying to buy an election.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: Joe Biden in Nevada over the weekend pushing hard to earn a bounce from the Nevada caucuses on Saturday. It will be the first test of his claim -- you heard a lot of it that he will do better in more diverse states than Iowa and New Hampshire. The culinary workers union has gone public with concerns about Bernie Sanders, so Biden is stressing his health care plan would protect them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: We're not going to tell all of you who have broken your neck and given up wages and given up salaries in order to be able to have health care through your employer and you worked like the devil for it, you're not going to be required to give it up like the other things do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: All right. So far more than 18,000 Democrats turned out for the first day of early voting in Nevada on Saturday. To compare about 84,000 voters in total participated in Nevada's 2016 caucuses. Some voters voicing concerns over long wait times and a shortage of volunteers over the weekend. CNN has reported caucus workers and presidential campaigns are both worried about the lack of detail from the state party about how results are going to be reported. Meantime, Nevada's state Democratic chairman says the party has been

working around the clock to avoid some of the same problems that they face in Iowa. The chaos there for starters they originally planned to use the same app that was used in Iowa. Those plans have been scrapped.

JARRETT: Yes, they said they were scrapping those almost the same day.

SANCHEZ: Good idea.

JARRETT: A bipartisan rebuke of Bill Barr for intervening in the sentencing recommendation for Trump ally Roger Stone, 1,100 former prosecutors and Justice Department officials and counting, calling on the Attorney General over the weekend to resign and encouraging current department employees to report any unethical conduct. Their rare statement coming in the wake of an extraordinary week at the DOJ.

A week capped off by news that Barr is having U.S. Attorneys outside of Washington reexamine several high profile cases including the one involving Trump's former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

[04:40:07]

It's all bringing fresh scrutiny to the political motives behind the Justice Department's decisions. Barr's agenda was already being questioned when he claimed the president's tweets were making it difficult for him to do his job.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I will make those decisions based on what I think is the right thing to do, and I'm not going to be bullied or influenced by anybody. And I said at the time whether it's Congress, newspaper, editorial boards or the president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: He says he's not going to be bullied. Yet the Attorney General has been on the job for a year and never once publicly pushed back against any of Trump's missives on DOJ cases. Instead he's given into the president's demands to investigate various conspiracy theories. And the president is still tweeting about DOJ.

SANCHEZ: Yes. We're refreshing. It's about that window now or he's going to be tweeting at any second.

The president spent part of his Sunday taking a spin around Daytona Florida's fame racetrack in the presidential limo, the beast. Welcoming NASCAR fans to this year's Daytona 500 with a speech and a command, gentlemen, start your engines. Sports venues becoming a theme for the Trump campaign lately in the last few months. He's also attended the World Series where quite a few fans booed him and the college football championship, were he receive an ovation.

The final four is this year in Atlanta. We're going to see if he makes an appearance there. Mr. Trump, is the second president to attend the Daytona 500 after George W. Bush. And there was a bit of snafu base on that after Trump's campaign manager Brad Parscale posted this, impressive photo of Air Force One, above the (inaudible) stand. Turns out some sharp-eyed followers pointed out that this photo is actually from W's visit in 2004. Parscale later replaced it with a less impressive photo. Heavy rain ultimately forced officials to delay the race until today.

JARRETT: Still an impressive photo there.

SANCHEZ: Yes, it's still a good photo. I'm not sure why he picked the other one.

JARRETT: Exactly. Some record flooding in the south endangering communities in several states. The holiday forecast up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[04:45:00]

SANCHEZ: NBA commissioner Adam Silver putting a price tag on the NBA's fall out with China.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ADAM SILVER, NBA COMMISSIONER: I think the magnitude of the loss might, you know, will be in the hundreds of millions of dollars, you know. Certainly probably less than $400 million. Maybe even less than that. It's substantial. I don't want to run from that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: The league is still dealing with the aftermath of a tweet from Daryl Morey, the Houston Rockets general manager that supported pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. Chinese sponsors cut ties with the Rockets and NBA games are still not on CCTV, China's state broadcaster. Silver says, he doesn't think there's any permanent damage to the NBA's business in China. He says there's mutual interest in getting those games back on TV, but he couldn't say when they would actually return to CCTV.

JARRETT: Gale force winds and heavy rain battering the U.K. for the second weekend in a row. There's widespread flooding triggered by Storm Dennis, the second most powerful non-tropical storm ever recorded in the North Atlantic. It dumped nearly half a foot of rain on South Wales, triggering evacuations and cutting off some communities. Take a look at this. Winds approaching 60 miles an hour forcing a British Airways jet to abort its landing at London's Heathrow airport.

SANCHEZ: I'm shaking in my chair as I watch that. It does not look comfortable. There is some great news this morning, by the way if you love wine. Your favorite bottle about to cost less.

JARRETT: It's about time.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[04:50:00]

SANCHEZ: A state of emergency to tell you about in Mississippi. Hundreds of people in Jackson forced to evacuate their homes. The Pearl River is rising. And it's expected to crest later this morning at 37.5 feet, the highest level in decades. That's a half foot lower than earlier forecast, and that makes a huge difference because if it hit 38 feet a large number of homes would be flooded by about 6 feet of water.

JARRETT: Some parts of the south have already had their normal -- double their normal rainfall for this point in the year, and more rain is on the way, which will worsen the impact from flooding. Meteorologist, Gene Norman has the latest.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GENE NORMAN, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Laura and Boris, hard to believe that over the last 30 days there are parts of the south that's seen over a foot of rain. That's indicated by this purple shading here. So the last thing they need is more rain, but that's in the forecast for the next couple of days. It won't be coming in all at once at waves, but every bit will add up. And especially in place like Jackson, Mississippi, where they're carefully watching the Pearl River where it could exceed its banks over the next couple of hours. That's going to be a big problem.

By the end of the week, we're looking at anywhere from 2 to 4 additional inches of rain scattered across the south. Also this morning fog will be a concern. Dense fog advisories already been posted and they're likely to expand. Further north, snow and threat winter, it still is winter makes a surprise return. Places in the Great Lakes and even northern New England could see anywhere from 4 to 6 inches and there would be a couple of isolated spots could see about a foot. And then the cold air will return by Wednesday. If you have the day off, I hope you get a chance to enjoy it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: All right. Thanks, Gene. Two snowmobilers in Colorado killed in avalanche they accidently triggered. They've been identified as 28 year-old, Dillon Block and 30 year-old, Cesar Almanza-Hernandez of (inaudible), Colorado. A third person who was skiing in their group managed to free himself and alert the authorities. Attempts to rescue the victims were hampered Saturday night by dangerous weather. The bodies of the two men were recovered yesterday.

SANCHEZ: Fans are mourning the death of a young Ugandan actress who was just 15 years old.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In chess the small one can become the big one.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SANCHEZ: Nikita Pearl Waligwa appeared in the Disney film, Queen of

Katwe about a chess prodigy from Uganda. She'd been diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2016. Actress (Inaudible) who star in the film remembering, Nikita in an Instagram post as a sweet, warm and talented girl and saying her thoughts and prayers are with Nikita's family and community as they say goodbye so soon.

[04:55:00]

JARRETT: Two former college volleyball stars and their 12-year-old daughters have been killed in a horrible crash in Missouri, 40-year- old Lesley (inaudible) Prather, 44-year-old Carey McCaw were traveling with their daughters to a volleyball tournament in Kansas City on Friday. That's when a pickup truck veered off the road and crashed through a cable barrier before overturning and slamming into their vehicle. Prather's daughter Ryan and McCaw's daughter Kasie were also killed. Prather played volleyball at Louisville and McCaw starred at Syracuse.

SANCHEZ: One of two suspects who allegedly stole a pickup truck from a tow yard in Portland and ran over an employee during their getaway has been arrested. Watch this. The entire incident caught on video last week. The thieves breaking in and ramming their way through that fence, slamming the worker in the process. He somehow leaps up, you could see it there, but we're told he did suffer significant injuries. The stolen pickup was spotted by a tow company employee Saturday night, a suspect was taken into custody.

JARRETT: Heart break for hundreds of aspiring doctors. The Mayo Clinic Alix School of medicine accidently accepted them by mistake, 364 applicants received acceptance letters last Thursday only to be notified by e-mail three hours later they were sent in error. The medical school only accepts 46 students and those are folks were usually notified by phone. It's still not clear what cause the glitch. The Mayo Clinic says it deeply regrets the stress and disappointment. I bet so.

SANCHEZ: That's frustrating. Yes. If you're looking for a romantic story after Valentine's Day weekend this is not it. The City of Lakeland, Florida, forced to close off a park because of mating snakes. Residents were alarmed to see groups of coupled up snakes congregating in the area. Park officials in a Facebook post urging people to stay calm while assuring them these Florida water snakes are nonvenomous. They say once the mating is over the snakes will go their separate ways. Whether they like each other or not, perhaps check each other's Facebook pages out in the future, wondering what could had been.

(LAUGHTER)

JARRETT: Well, a mystery solved at North Canon Middle School in Ohio. A red purse discovered by a custodian inside a wall there belonged to a former student named Patti Rumfola. She lost it back in 1957, inside they found a comb, its make-up, membership cards to the local public library, the YMCA and the junior Red Cross. Several black and white photos of the family, friends and a dog and a high school football schedule from 1956. And also in the purse, 27 cents. Each of Patti's five children took one penny to remember their late mom.

SANCHEZ: The NBA all-star game capping a weekend of festivities in Chicago. Both team Lebron and Team Giannis honoring Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna by wearing their basketball numbers, 24 and 2.

The new all-star format featured an untimed fourth quarter, the game ending when one team reached a specific final score, they had to 24 points in the fourth quarter in honor of Kobe. Anthony Davis, he's free-throw gave Team Lebron a 157-155 win. A lot of money raised for charity and there's Kawhi Leonard, he dropped 30 points, winning the first ever Kobe Bryant MVP award. Kobe's presence was felt throughout the weekend, the pre-game tribute Sunday, including one in song from Jennifer Hudson.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: She's always amazing.

All right, let's get a check on CNN Business this morning. First a quick look at markets around the world. Asian stocks closed mostly higher. European markets have started the week higher as well. On Friday the DOW closed 25 points lower. The S&P 500 and NASDAQ finished with record highs. The U.S. markets are closed today for president's day.

Your favorite bottle of white or red may be getting less expensive. Wine prices are expected to drop to the lowest levels in five years, and they could stay that way for a while. Wine lovers can thank a surplus of grapes from California and a decrease in demand, those pesky millennials, causing prices to fall. Wine consumption has dropped for the first time in 25 years as more Americans turn to liquor and ready to drink cocktails. Experts say shoppers will enjoy the best wine retail values in 20 years.

SANCHEZ: That's fantastic news.

JARRETT: I know what you're doing this afternoon.

SANCHEZ: Best news of the day. We'll keep that off-the-record, Laura. Thanks very much. And thanks to our international viewers for joining us. Have a great rest of your day. For our U.S. viewers, Early Start continues right now.

New overnight, hundreds of Americans head back home. Evacuated from a cruise ship hit by coronavirus. Now more than a hundred new cases suggest the quarantine is not working.

END