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EARLY START

U.S. Evacuates 300+ Americans From Cruise Ship; China Returns To Work Amid Coronavirus Outbreak; Rivals Take Aim At Michael Bloomberg. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired February 17, 2020 - 05:30   ET

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


[05:30:00]

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: And now, more than 100 new cases suggest the quarantine is simply not working.

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 in the workplace.

SANCHEZ: And a whole new format bringing new energy to the NBA All- Star Game. An electric night on the court as players and fans pay tribute to Kobe Bryant.

Good morning. This is a special holiday edition of EARLY START. I'm Boris Sanchez in for Christine Romans.

JARRETT: And I'm Laura Jarrett, about 31 minutes past the hour here in New York.

More than 300 Americans now back on native soil -- the U.S. government evacuating them from the Diamond Princess cruise ship overnight. They were quarantined for weeks in Japan because of coronavirus. Planes landing at U.S. bases in California and Texas.

SANCHEZ: Yes, the evacuation is a relief for some but it's angering others. Some exhausted passengers say the move could actually set back the return to a 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. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEW SMITH, QUARANTINED ABOARD DIAMOND PRINCESS: And it didn't make any sense if the U.S. was fearful that 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)

JARRETT: And then another twist announced with the planes in the air. Fourteen passengers who took part in the evacuation tested positive for coronavirus after leaving the ship still being allowed on the chartered flights. The State Department and HHS say those people were isolated from other passengers during the flight.

Let's go to CNN's Matt Rivers who is live for us in Tokyo. Matt, explain how that could have happened. How is it that people who have tested positive for the virus were allowed on those flights?

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, basically, what we're hearing from U.S. officials and what we know to be the case here on the ground in Japan is that these testing procedures are ongoing. So these people who tested positive were tested, let's say, a day or two ago but it takes several days to receive results. And so, what U.S. officials said is that because these people were asymptomatic they felt like they could get them on board this flight.

Now, that contradicts what we were told by U.S. officials about this evacuation -- that they would not be accepting anyone who tested positive for the coronavirus or were showing symptoms. But clearly, U.S. officials felt here like they could get these people home safely.

Now, as far as the people who remain here, there are people who chose not to get on that flight.

We know that -- we spoke to one man whose wife is still here. She's sick in the hospital. He is not -- he chose to stay.

There's other people who chose to stay behind because they didn't want to be on a plane with people who could potentially be sick. So that's the reasoning behind that.

But, you know, in terms of this flight, we know that both 747s have now landed and after this ordeal -- this quarantine period, which has gone on for two weeks now -- this was not exactly going to be a comfortable flight.

Here's what one passenger shared with us -- her conversation with a government official about what she could look forward to -- or not look forward to about traveling on what's normally a cargo plane back to the United States.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: And dress in layers. This is a converted cargo 747 --

KAREY MANISCAICO, PASSENGER ONBOARD DIAMOND PRINCESS FROM ST. GEORGE, UTAH: OK.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- so there's less insulation than regular passenger jets. Dress in layers so you can stay warm.

MANISCAICO: OK, gotcha.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any questions?

MANISCAICO: No. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you -- I was going -- I was going to ask you something but I can't remember. Are we for sure going to be quarantined for 14 days? Is there --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I didn't like that answer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RIVERS: And most people don't like that answer but that's U.S. officials' policy here.

Part of the reason these people are so upset is because they felt like they should have been evacuated 10 days ago. A lot of the passengers we spoke to said look, the U.S. government could have done this a while ago. And yet, at the time, up until Saturday, they were insisting that by staying onboard the ship, following Japanese quarantine, if they managed to get through that and not test positive they could just come home to the United States.

And yet, all of a sudden, the U.S. government changes their position, does these evacuation flights, adds two more weeks of quarantine, and that leaves passengers saying why didn't this happen earlier. And you can understand their frustration even if U.S. officials are doing this out of the concern for the greater good.

JARRETT: Sure -- this double quarantine. As you said, you can understand why folks are frustrated.

Matt, thanks so much for being there for us.

All right. Meantime, we're seeing signs of life returning to normal -- or maybe -- in parts of China. More than 160 million people are expected to return to work after an extended Lunar New Year holiday.

CNN's David Culver is live in Shanghai with more on that. David, as you said, the streets are still bare even though folks are going back to work.

DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's rather eerie walking around here -- what is normally, Laura, the financial hub of China. I mean, this is a bustling, vibrant city of 25 million people and yet, it is quiet on most of the streets here.

[05:35:07]

A lot of the shops are closed. If you find a restaurant that's open, they'll only seat one or two -- maybe three tables, and they'll keep them all spread apart. Your appetizer at the meal is usually hand sanitizer so that you can handle the menu, clean your hands, and then hand the menu back.

I mean, it seems pretty strange to be going around and living a life here that is under a significant lockdown of sorts. I mean, there are certain restrictions, if you will. For example, the residents who want to get back into their homes --

there's gated-off communities -- they're bolted lock. So imagine trying to get into your neighborhood and having to find one entrance where then you have to go in and give your health history and your travel history, and that's the only way to get into your own home. That's the reality here in Shanghai.

And businesses are trying to come back online. The country had said that they anticipated 160 million people would be traveling after the extended Lunar New Year holiday -- the holiday that was extended to keep people from coming together so as to limit the exposure of this virus. But we're not seeing that, really, here on the street. There's still a struggle to restart.

But as strange as things seem here, it's nothing compared to what it's like in Wuhan, the epicenter of all of us.

I want to show you some of this video. You're seeing some 500 schools and hotels that have been turned into 14-day quarantine spots. These are the places that if folks are suspected to have any sort of exposure they'll be kept in isolation, of sorts, for that period of time. And that's in an area where you're seeing, Laura, the most extreme of lockdown scenarios.

Hubei Province, as a whole, hundreds of millions of people now sealed off from even leaving their own homes in some cases. Basic necessities are brought to you.

JARRETT: David, you've been doing such great reporting. Thank you so much. Keep it up.

SANCHEZ: Meantime, back home, moderate Democrats in a free for all brawl. This time, the target, Mike Bloomberg. Is this fight elevating Bernie Sanders or is it elevating President Trump?

And, what's with the president's sportcentric reelection strategy? We'll break it all down, next.

[05:41:17]

JARRETT: Democratic candidates taking aim at Michael Bloomberg as the billionaire and former New York mayor rises in the polls. Bloomberg has not competed in any contests yet, but starting with Super Tuesday in just over two weeks, the one-time Republican will try to carve out a path in the moderate Democrat lane.

Rivals pouncing as old claims resurface about policies and minority communities, and the culture he fostered as his corporate office where he's been accused of being hostile to women. He's also under scrutiny for the hundreds of millions he's poured into his own campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Sixty billion dollars can buy you a lot of advertising but it can't erase your record. SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I've 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 (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Mike Bloomberg or anybody else spending hundreds of millions of dollars trying to buy an election.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: Former Vice President Joe Biden fighting to keep his 2020 hopes alive in Nevada over the weekend, pushing hard to try to earn a bounce from the caucuses set for Saturday. This is going to be the first test of this claim that he keeps making that he's going to do better in more diverse states than he did in Iowa and New Hampshire.

What might help? The culinary workers union going public with concerns about Bernie Sanders. Biden capitalizing, stressing that 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've worked like the devil for it. You're not going to be required to give it up like the things do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: More than 18,000 Democrats turned out for the first day of early voting in Nevada on Saturday. By comparison, about 84,000 voters, in total, participated in Nevada's 2016 caucuses.

Some voters, though, voicing concerns over long wait times and a shortage of volunteers over the weekend. CNN has reported caucus workers in presidential campaigns are both worried about the lack of detail from the state party about how the results will be reported.

SANCHEZ: And state officials know what's at play here and Nevada's state Democratic chairman says the party has been working around the clock to avoid the same issues that caused chaos in Iowa. For starters, they scrapped plans to try to use that same app that reported results in Iowa.

JARRETT: Joining us here this morning in New York, Princeton University historian and professor Julian Zelizer, a CNN political analyst. Good morning, Julian.

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, HISTORIAN AND PROFESSOR, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY, CO-AUTHOR, "FAULT LINES: A HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES SINCE 1974": Good morning. How are you?

SANCHEZ: Good morning.

JARRETT: It's great to have you on a Monday -- on a holiday. Thanks for coming in.

ZELIZER: Yes.

JARRETT: I want to talk to you about what seems to be an emerging trend for the president. In between campaign rallies, he's also been going to sporting events --

SANCHEZ: Right.

JARRETT: -- where he has a captive audience -- ones that are popular. Of course, the World Series, the football champion -- college football championship, and the Daytona 500 this weekend.

What do you make of this strategy? Is it too on the nose? Is it too obvious -- you see the Beast there going through the course -- or is this actually something that Democrats should be doing more? Is this smart?

ZELIZER: No, it is. This is populism without the policies.

Here's a president -- most of his policies don't help average Americans. But this is an event that many people watch and they like to associate the president with these grand spectacles. And, white male voters are the heart of his coalition and that's a big audience for the car racing industry.

So, it makes sense and I think Democrats should pay attention to political theater a little bit more.

SANCHEZ: Yes, he --

JARRETT: Yes, the Final Four coming up. He'll probably be there, too.

SANCHEZ: He'll probably be there. He knows the base. I mean, there's no question that --

ZELIZER: Yes.

SANCHEZ: -- he goes where he's not going to be booed, even though he was at the World Series.

Let's shift gears here --

ZELIZER: Yes.

[05:45:00]

SANCHEZ: -- and talk 2020 and talk about somebody who isn't even on the ballot yet, but who all the other Democratic candidates are talking about.

Listen to what some of the Democrats said about Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: Sixty billion dollars can buy you a lot of advertising but it can't erase your record.

KLOBUCHAR: I've 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.

SANDERS: Mike Bloomberg or anybody else spending hundreds of millions of dollars trying to buy an election.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: Something about Mike Bloomberg feels very Trumpian to me and that's the fact that he's continued trending up in polls. He's obviously getting more attention now -- not just that he's a billionaire but look, he has serious controversies that he's facing about a hostile work environment, his comments on stop-and-frisk that are unacceptable, his comments about Obamacare, his record as a Republican. But yet, he trends upward.

Is money, ultimately, his solution to all his problems?

ZELIZER: It's part of it. It's also some of the desperation some Democrats feel to find whoever the candidate is who can beat Trump. And the most electable person doesn't seem as electable right now, Joe Biden, and so some Democrats are scrambling for something else. And he seems to be like the moderate person who can win.

He does have a record. He's not totally like Trump, meaning he was mayor of New York. He has a very strong record on gun control and climate change and some Democrats see him as an answer. But he has a lot of vulnerabilities and questions about his record that are just now coming up.

SANCHEZ: And very quickly, I want to show this graphic -- Democratic ad spending. Bloomberg eclipses everyone -- everybody combined. You're looking at about $317 million from Tom Steyer, on down.

ZELIZER: Yes.

SANCHEZ: Bloomberg has spent $100 million more.

That message coming from Sanders and Warren about billionaires not being able to buy elections. Let's say we get to a contested convention -- this is looking further down the road --

ZELIZER: Yes.

SANCHEZ: -- but how energized will some of these more progressive Democrats be voting for someone whose the antithesis of what they believe?

ZELIZER: Well, it' will be a problem and that's how these divisive primaries have to be overcome. All these comments will be on the record and you have to convince delegates will now go for the guy we've been slamming all this time.

SANCHEZ: Right. ZELIZER: The thing Democrats are hoping for, ultimately, is the antipathy to President Trump is so strong that come that point if somehow Bloomberg is the candidate, some of those Warren and Sanders supporters would come to the other side. But we're far away from there.

I think Bloomberg, in some way, hurts Biden the most --

JARRETT: Yes.

ZELIZER: -- and might allow Sanders, in some ways, to solidify this fragmented field and keep building his delegate count.

JARRETT: Yes. It seems like the person that he helps the most is Trump and/or Sanders --

ZELIZER: Yes.

JARRETT: -- and hurts Biden.

I want to get your thoughts before we let you go on this open letter that we saw over the weekend from former DOJ prosecutors and other officials, and it was a bipartisan letter. People from both sides of the aisle, both Democratic and Republican administrations, essentially calling on the attorney general to resign in the wake of everything we saw with him overruling those career prosecutors for the sentencing of Roger Stone.

And, we noticed Amy Klobuchar -- she actually pushed back on it this weekend. Obviously, others have called on him to resign before.

But, do you think Democrats should be doing more to sort of call out what they see as the politicization of DOJ or is that the kind of thing that just sort of washes over voters?

ZELIZER: I think, unfortunately, it might wash over voters. It's an important issue and that's why you have career prosecutors and legal officials voicing these concerns. It's very frightening to see DOJ politicized this way but I'm not sure it resonates with the electorate.

And Democrats are just calculating where do you put your political capital? What are the issues in which you can frame this election and what the stakes are? And I'm not convinced that's going to be one of the issues at the end.

SANCHEZ: Yes. Staying on message is hard when so much is happening and you've got to talk about health care and the economy and people's well-being and not focus on so much controversy out there --

ZELIZER: Exactly right.

SANCHEZ: -- in D.C.

Julian Zelizer, thank you so much for the time, sir.

ZELIZER: Thank you.

JARRETT: Always good to see you. Thanks so much.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:53:44]

SANCHEZ: A state of emergency to tell you about in Mississippi. Hundreds of people in Jackson forced to evacuate their homes. The Pearl River rising, expected to crest later this morning at 37 1/2 feet, its highest level in decades. That is half a foot lower than earlier forecasts and that makes a huge difference because if it hit 38 feet, a large number of homes would be flooded.

JARRETT: Some parts of the south have already had double their normal rainfall for this point in the year. More rain is on the way, which will worsen the flooding.

Here is meteorologist Gene Norman.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GENE NORMAN, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Laura and Boris, hard to believe that over the last 30 days, there are parts of the south that have 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 a 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 two to four additional inches of rain scattered across the south.

Also this morning, fog will be of concern. Dense fog advisories already being posted and they're likely to expand.

[05:55:00]

Further north, snow. That's right, winter -- it still is winter -- makes a surprise return. Places in the Great Lakes and even northern New England could see anywhere from four to six inches. There will be a couple of isolated spots that see about a foot.

And then, cold air will return by Wednesday. If you have the day off, I hope you get a chance to enjoy it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SANCHEZ: Thanks for that.

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 thieves broke in, ramming their way through that fence, slamming into that worker in the process. You see that he leaps up. We're told that he did suffer significant injuries, though.

The stolen pickup was spotted on Saturday night. A suspect was then taken into custody.

JARRETT: So, a deer runs into a supermarket. That may sound like the setup for a joke but stay with me. It stunned shoppers at a Kroger store in Indiana this weekend.

The deer bolted into the store, sliding along the floor as it ran through the aisles. The store's staff and police tried to corral the animal who eventually made its way back outside.

SANCHEZ: That's a tough task, stopping that deer.

The fragrance of romance still in the air after Valentine's Day weekend. 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.

Park officials urged people to stay calm because these Florida water snakes are non-venomous. They say once their mating is over the snakes will go their separate ways, likely checking each other's Instagram Stories for years wondering what could have been.

JARRETT: Well, a mystery solved here at a North Canton middle school in Iowa -- in Ohio, I should say. A red purse discovered by a custodian inside a wall belonging to a former student named Patti Rumfola. She lost it in 1957.

Inside, a comb and some make-up -- probably a little old; membership cards to the local public library, the YMCA, and the Junior Red Cross; several black and white photos of family, friends, and a dog; and a high school football schedule from 1956. Also in the purse, 27 cents. Each of Patti's five children took one penny to remember their late mom.

SANCHEZ: That's sweet.

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, respectively.

The new All-Star format featured an untimed fourth quarter, the game ending when one team reached a specific final score. Twenty-four points needed to win in the fourth quarter in honor of Kobe. Anthony Davis' free throw gave Team LeBron the win and this man the claw. Kawhi Leonard scoring 30 points, winning the first-ever Kobe Bryant MVP Award.

Kobe's presence was felt throughout the weekend. The pre-game tribute Sunday, including an emotional one, in song, from Jennifer Hudson. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JENNIFER HUDSON, SINGER: Singing at NBA All-Star Game.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: All right, J-Hud.

Let's get a check on CNN Business.

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 the decrease in demand is causing prices to fall. Wine consumption has dropped for the first time, if you can believe it or not, in 25 years as more Americans turn to liquor and ready-to-drink cocktails.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCENE FROM PARAMOUNT PICTURES "SONIC THE HEDGEHOG."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: "Sonic the Hedgehog" raced to the top of the weekend's box office, bringing in an estimated $57 million, the best opening for a video game film ever.

"Sonic" had several hurdles to clear to claim that victory, however. Its biggest challenge, a pair of human-like teeth. The film was supposed to open in November but negative reactions to the disturbing CGI caused filmmakers to push back the opening to redesign the character.

SANCHEZ: That's kind of weird, right?

JARRETT: Well --

SANCHEZ: I've got to tell you, when I saw that it was "Sonic" -- that that was going to be our story, I thought it was about the fast-food place. I got really excited.

JARRETT: And you're hungry, aren't you?

SANCHEZ: Yes. We were going to have video of smoothies and burgers.

JARRETT: That's what happens on this show.

SANCHEZ: Yes.

Thank you so much for joining us on this special holiday edition of EARLY START. I'm Boris Sanchez.

JARRETT: And I'm Laura Jarrett. "NEW DAY" starts right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news. ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Monday, February 17th, 6:00 here in New York.

And, John Berman is off. Jim Sciutto joins me. Great to have you here.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Glad to be here. Great to be here.

CAMEROTA: We have a busy show because we do begin with breaking news for you. Two charter planes with more than 300 Americans from that quarantined cruise ship in Japan have now arrived in the United States. Fourteen Americans on board those flights have tested positive for coronavirus. They were permitted to get on the planes in a special isolation chamber.

END