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Containing Coronavirus in the U.S.; Bloomberg in the Debate Stage?; Boy Scouts of America Files for Bankruptcy; Fiery Dayton Wreck Sends Driver to Hospital. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired February 18, 2020 - 04:00   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The U.S. is massing forces to keep coronavirus from spreading on American soil. Hope is riding on a special facility in Nebraska.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Mike Bloomberg could be on the debate stage for the first time tomorrow if polls this morning go his way.

ROMANS: The Boy Scouts of America filing for bankruptcy over sexual abuse allegations dating back decades.

JARRETT: And a fiery end to the Daytona 500 leaves a popular NASCAR driver in the hospital.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is EARLY START. I'm Laura Jarrett.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is Tuesday, February 18th, it is 4:00 a.m. in New York.

Good morning, everyone.

The U.S. desperately trying to contain the coronavirus. Fourteen Americans who tested positive for the disease were among hundreds of citizens evacuated from a cruise ship off Japan and put on flights to Texas and California, with the other evacuees. Now, some of those patients, along with their spouses, are now in isolation at the University of Nebraska medical center. That's the state's largest hospital.

JARRETT: Its special bio-containment unit is a state of the art facility that has treated Ebola, SARS, monkeypox, and multi-drug resistant tuberculosis over nearly 15 years. Now, other countries making plans to get their citizens off the floating Petri dish and out of Japan.

CNN's Matt Rivers is live for us in Tokyo.

Matt, good morning.

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning (AUDIO GAP) tomorrow here in Tokyo. And it will last from the 19th through the 21st. Every one on board that ship is now going to be tested for the coronavirus by the end of the day today.

But it takes a couple days to get those results back. So if you were tested a few days ago and you're negative, you can get off tomorrow. If you tested today, for example, you won't be able to get off this ship until the 21st.

And remember, there are still some Americans on board that ship. People who chose, for differing reasons, to not get that on evacuation flight and, instead, stay here in Japan. But we also know that other countries are following the United States' lead in terms of evacuating their citizens.

We know that the Canadians, the Australians, and Italians, among other countries are going to be sending chartered flights to get their people off this ship. And it really calls into question, all of these allies of Japan, including the United States, they don't really think that the quarantine worked here in Japan because they're furthering -- they're requiring further quarantine, just like the United States did, of their people when they get back to their home country. So, a very tense diplomatic situation, I guess you could say, between these allies.

Now, back in the United States, some good news, though. We know that first and second groups that were evacuated out of Wuhan, China, the -- the outbreak center in mainland China, they have been in quarantine since they were evacuated from mainland China. Some are getting out today. Some are getting out Thursday. So their ordeal has come to an end.

JARRETT: All right. Matt Rivers, thanks so much.

ROMANS: Apple posted a record-breaking quarter on the back of the iPhone's comeback. And now, it's warning investors its revenue will take a hit from the coronavirus as that -- as that coronavirus limits how many iPhones it can make and sell in China.

Much of Apple's manufacturing operations are based in China. Apple said Monday work is starting to resume around the country but we're experiencing a slower return to normal conditions than we had anticipated. Apple temporarily closed all its stores in China because of the outbreak, while stores are gradually reopening locations, reduced hours, and foot traffic is very low.

But Apple expects the disruption to be temporary. IPhone sales are surging up nearly 8 percent to $56 billion at the end of 2019.

JARRETT: Mike Bloomberg is on the verge of qualifying for tomorrow night's Democratic debate in Nevada, even though he is not participating in the state's caucuses. Several polls due to be released this morning could put Bloomberg over the top. One of them comes out next hour.

CNN has learned the former New York City mayor has been preparing for the debate. Something he has never done on a national level. We're already getting a sense of his opponents' strategy in the meantime. They want an inspection of Bloomberg's record and say he shouldn't be able to buy the election.

ROMANS: And the gloves are off between Bloomberg and Bernie Sanders. A digital ad from the Bloomberg camp highlights the hostility of some Bernie supporters and their attacks on rival Democrats. And it's backed up with a Bloomberg tweet claiming that type of energy is not going to beat Trump.

Those attacks coming after Sanders said this about the multibillionaire.



SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We will not create the energy and excitement we need to defeat Donald Trump if that candidate pursued, advocated for, and enacted racist policies like stop-and-frisk.



JARRETT: It was a day-long exchange of attacks between the two camps. Bloomberg's campaign manager charging Sanders' staff with using the same tactics employed by President Trump. His statement went out with the subject line: Bernie's new bro, Donald Trump.

Two hours later, Sanders tweeted an image of Bloomberg and Trump together on a golf course.

ROMANS: The Vermont senator also releasing two new ads in Nevada. One has a Nevada-first theme, with a focus on the climate crisis. The other touts how Sanders will stand up to corruption. The Sanders camp is also opening new campaign offices in North Carolina, a few days after Bloomberg beat him to the punch.


MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't know that you can see very many presidential candidates here in Winston, Salem. They're spending all their time in South Carolina but I think the vote is in North Carolina. It deserves just as much attention.


JARRETT: Right now, the shadow of the Iowa caucus debacle is hanging over Nevada. Trained volunteers say they're still unclear about how exactly this process is going to work. The issue? For some precinct captains is how tens of thousands of early votes will fold into what's happening face happening, face to face, inside the caucus room this weekend.

A Democratic Party source tells CNN it's just a matter of plugging numbers into a shared spreadsheet and there is still a paper trail that's backup if needed. ROMANS: The counterprogrammer-in-chief following the Democrats out

West. President Trump begins a four-day western campaign swing today. He finishes with a rally Friday night in Nevada, just before the Democrats' caucus. It's the third straight state where the president is rallying ahead of the Democrats' vote.

Stay with CNN tonight and Thursday night for a series of town halls with the leading Democrats from Las Vegas. Tonight, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, and Amy Klobuchar. Thursday, Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren. That starts tonight at 8:00 Eastern, only on CNN.

JARRETT: Breaking overnight. The Boy Scouts of America filing for bankruptcy. The organization faces a wave of lawsuits alleging sexual abuse. The Chapter 11 filing will allow the Boy Scouts to continue operations while reorganizing its finances and handling of the hundreds of abuse claims.

It also provides a limited amount of time for any new victims to come forward before being barred indefinitely from seeking financial compensation. The Boy Scouts marked its 110th anniversary this month.


ANNOUNCER: To the inside. Here comes Hamlin up the outside! Crash into the wall. Into the air. Goes Newman.


ROMANS: A fiery crash in the final lap of the Daytona 500. Ryan Newman, hit from behind, then hitting a wall, going airborne. His car flipped over several times before skidding across the finish line in fourth place.

Newman is hospitalized, in serious condition, with non-life threatening injuries. President Trump praying for Newman in a tweet. He was at the race Sunday before rain postponed it. As for the race, Denny Hamlin very narrowly taking the checkered flag for his third Daytona 500 win.

JARRETT: We wish him well, of course.

All right. Coming up next, an independent group of federal judges calling an emergency meeting about intervention by the attorney general in politically-sensitive cases.



JARRETT: An independent organization of federal judges now calling an emergency meeting about the Justice Department's intervention in politically sensitive cases. According to U.S. today -- "USA Today," the head of the Federal Judges Association said the group couldn't wait until its spring conference to respond to the ongoing controversy. Attorney General Bill Barr overruled prosecutors initial sentencing recommendation for long time Trump ally Roger Stone after the president blasted it on Twitter, causing all four prosecutors to quit the case.

Meanwhile, more than 2,000 former prosecutors and former justice officials are calling on the attorney general to resign. And today, a notable hearing on the docket. The federal judge overseeing Stone's case, who targeted -- who Trump also targeted -- has called for a scheduling conference call with attorneys.

It's the first time Judge Amy Berman Jackson made comment or seek an explanation on the DOJ's sudden request to change Stone's sentencing recommendation. Last week, the chief judge of the federal district court in D.C. said judges would not be swayed by public criticism or pressure. Stone's attorneys have made a second request for a new trial. Sentencing is set for Thursday, pending the outcome of today's proceedings.

ROMANS: A bill to ban assault weapons defeated in the Virginia Senate despite Democratic control. In a rare win for gun rights groups in the state, four Democrats joined Republicans to kill the measure in committee. Capacity magazines would have been outlawed, as well. Democrats won control of Virginia's legislature on the promise of sweeping gun control after a shooter killed 12 people at a Virginia Beach municipal building last May.

JARRETT: And a bloody holiday weekend in Chicago. Twenty-five people were shot, 11 of them minors. Three died, all of them adults. The carnage coming nine months into the administration of Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who made gun violence a top priority in her campaign. Note that Chicago's homicide rate did decrease for the third straight year in 2019.

ROMANS: All right. On a national holiday, vandalism strikes at one of the most iconic landmarks in U.S. history.



ROMANS: All right. Welcome back. Good morning.

Plymouth Rock has been vandalized. Someone painted red graffiti on the iconic landmark, where cording to legend, the pilgrims first landed in Massachusetts in 1620. They also spray-painted the pilgrim maiden statue and the National Monument to the Forefathers. The town of Plymouth has been preparing a 400th anniversary celebration of the pilgrims' arrival on the Mayflower. Police are asking the public for help finding the vandals.

JARRETT: Just a few hours, the fate of disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein will be in the hands of a New York jury. The jurors are expected to begin deliberations today after a hearing four weeks of witness testimony. The 67-year-old Weinstein is charged with five sex crimes, involving two women. The charges include rape, sexual, criminal acts and a predatory sexual assault. Weinstein has denied all allegations of nonconsensual sex.

[04:20:02] ROMANS: Hollywood sex therapist Amie Harwick found dead in her Hollywood Hills home. An ex-boyfriend, 41-year-old Gareth Pursehouse has been arrested and charged with her murder. The former Playboy model was engaged to comedian Drew Carey in 2018.

But the couple split a year later. Tapings of Carey's "Price is Right" show had been cancelled for the week by CBS because of her death, calling Harwick a positive force in the world, a tireless and unapologetic champion for women and passionate about her work as a therapist and overcome with grief.

JARRETT: Some brazen thieves going the extra mile in a smash and grab robbery in Littleton, Colorado. Surveillance video shows them ramming a minivan right through the entrance of a sports bar and restaurant. Two people in hoodies are then seen going straight for the ATM and cash registers.


ALEX WOODS, RESTAURANT OWNER: It appears that they do know that there may have been some money in that register. I have four registers and that register was the only one that had money.


JARRETT: If that wasn't enough, the burglars backed a pick-up truck into the ATM and went for the cash. The minivan was later determined to be stolen. Fire officials say a full inspection of the building is needed to determine if it's safe before that restaurant can reopen.

ROMANS: An emergency search for a 62-year-old blind man, missing in icy, cold weather end happily, with an assist from a police drone. Richard Doty's brother called police in Enfield Connecticut after not hearing from him for a day and a half. Police sent up their drone and found Doty in just a half an hour.

He was 100 yards into the woods from his home down an embankment where he spent the night in 9 degree. He was taken to the hospital for evaluation. His condition not immediately known.

JARRETT: Hundreds of homes and businesses flooded in Jackson, Mississippi. The Pearl River cresting at 36.7 feet, its third highest level on record. Officials say at least 1,000 homes are damaged and four injuries reported. It could take several days for the water to recede there. There's more rain in the forecast, which with up to two inches expected in a short time today, a flash flood watch is in effect for Central Mississippi.

Winter weather moving from the great lakes to New England.

Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri has the forecast for us.


PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, guys. We do have quite a bit of activity across the northern tier of the

country. That's where cold enough air is in place, as well as an incoming system here that is exiting out of the great lakes on into New England, where we do have at least some winter weather advisories in place, impacting about eight million people and it's across northern areas of the Great Lakes into New England where snow showers are expected. And we got to get into the high elevations, where as much as 8 to 12 inches are expected across the Green and White Mountains, on into parts of Maine. That's about it.

Beyond that, generally a couple of inches which, frankly, for the middle of February, is not an impressive amount for this time of year, and you'll notice for the South, it is all about at rainfall, across the Deep South at least. Atlanta to Montgomery and eventually back toward Jackson, that's an area of concern. I mean, significant flooding has been in place.

We do have flood watches and flood warnings currently in place in Jackson in particular, about an inch and a half or so possible throughout tonight and into Wednesday. So that is an area to watch carefully for additional flooding. Highs ranging from the middle 80s in Tampa all the way to around 6 degrees there in Minot -- guys.


ROMANS: All right. Thank you so much for that.

Hope is riding on a special facility in Nebraska to keep coronavirus from spreading in the U.S.

JARRETT: And will Mike Bloomberg be on the debate stage in Las Vegas tomorrow? We'll know in about 30 minutes.


ROMANS: All right. The troubled home furnishing chain Pier 1 filed for bankruptcy Monday. The company says it has reached a deal with lenders to provide it more than $250 million as it tries to find a buyer. Now, Pier 1 will be a shadow of its former self, previously announcing it's closing up to 450 stores, around 500 stores have already closed or started going out of business sales.

Pier 1 lost $59 million in the last quarter, with sales down more than 11 percent over the same period earlier. It's been hit hard, especially hard by online competition.

JARRETT: A 6-year-old California girl saved from a mountain lion attack when one of the adults in her group punched the lion in the ribs. The girl, her parents, and several other adults and children had been hiking in a Santa Clara county park Sunday morning. Officials say the girl is recovering from minor injuries. The park is closed while rangers search for that mountain lion.

ROMANS: Cinderella's castle, perhaps the most iconic Disney image of all. It's getting a makeover at Disneyworld. The work coincides with the 75th anniversary of the animated classic film "Cinderella." Disney released the rendering of an even more magical castle. It shows part of the castle in a light pink shade. There's royal blue. Plenty of gold trim. A spokesman says the makeover will begin soon and continue through the summer.

JARRETT: A stray dog was definitely game and showed some good ball skills after running on to the pitch during a professional soccer match in Turkey. Players tried to get the ball from him, finally, throwing it off the field for the intruder dog to fetch. He did. And came right back for more.

One of the players finally picked up the persistent and promising pup and took him away from the field.

EARLY START continues right now.


JARRETT: The U.S. is massing forces to keep coronavirus from spreading on American soil. Hope is riding on a special facility in Nebraska.

ROMANS: Mike Bloomberg could be on the debate stage for the first time tomorrow if polls this morning go his way.