Return to Transcripts main page

EARLY START

White House Scrambles to Contain Coronavirus Outbreak; Forty Seven States Partially Reopen as More Americans Head Outside; New Syndrome Sickens 85 Children, Kills 3 in New York State. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired May 11, 2020 - 05:00   ET

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


[05:00:00]

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CO-ANCHOR, EARLY START: Coronavirus is inside the White House. The president still pushing states to reopen as his own building steps up safety measures. We have reports this morning from the White House, China, South Korea, London, Germany and France. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is EARLY START, I'm Christine Romans.

LAURA JARRETT, CO-ANCHOR, EARLY START: Aren't you a sight for sore eyes, Christine Romans --

ROMANS: Nice to see you, Laura Jarrett.

JARRETT: So good to see you, I'm Laura Jarrett. It's Monday, May 11th, it's 5:00 a.m. here in New York. We want to thank our crew in the control room and beyond working so hard to get this show on the air. We appreciate it today and every day. We missed you.

As the states across the U.S. begin to reopen this morning, the White House is racing to protect itself from coronavirus after positive tests within the White House, several people working on the coronavirus response will self-quarantine. Several others you see here including Vice President Mike Pence will not. Two key White House staffers testing positive in recent days, one of President Trump's personal valets and Katie Miller; the Vice President's Press Secretary.

ROMANS: In the West Wing, officials recognize the contradiction between pushing states to reopen and the White House tightening its own protocols. "The New York Times" reports some senior officials believe the virus is already spreading quickly through the cramped West Wing, a fact not lost on one top economic adviser.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEVIN HASSETT, SENIOR ECONOMIC ADVISER TO DONALD TRUMP: I knew when I was going back in there, that I would be taking risks that, you know, I'd be safer sitting at home in my house than going into a West Wing that even with all of the testing in the world and the best medical team on earth, is a relatively cramped place.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: A source tells CNN, the president has expressed new concerns that having his aides contract the virus would undercut his message that the outbreak is waning. And he has asked why his valet's weren't wearing masks before last week. White House Secret Service agents as you can see weigh on the left, they are now wearing masks as well. We will hear from the president today.

He is sure to be asked about the health of the tight circle around him and the Vice President. CNN's Jeremy Diamond has more from the White House now.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine and Laura. Vice President Mike Pence not going into self- quarantine after his Press Secretary Katie Miller tested positive for coronavirus on Friday. That news coming in a statement Sunday night from the Vice President's spokesman Devin O'Malley who says Vice President Pence will continue to follow the advice of the White House Medical unit and is not in quarantine.

O'Malley also adds that Vice President Pence has tested negative for the virus and is being tested every day. And that he plans to be at the White House later today. So, certainly not a self-quarantine there from the vice president. That's despite the fact that we're seeing three of the top doctors on that coronavirus taskforce, all of them entering some form of self-quarantine, that's Dr. Robert Redfield; the head of the CDC, Dr. Stephen Hahn; the head of the FDA and Dr. Anthony Fauci; the government's leading infectious disease expert.

And certainly, the Vice President's decision here also goes against the CDC's own guidelines. Which say that if you've had prolonged contact with anybody who's been -- who's tested positive for coronavirus, that you should stay at home and go into self-quarantine for 14 days. Christine, Laura?

ROMANS: All right, Jeremy, thank you for that. You know, every witness will testify remotely at a Senate coronavirus hearing that begins tomorrow. The heads of the CDC and the FDA were already scheduled to participate remotely. Dr. Anthony Fauci and a top official at HHS, they were expected to appear in person, both have now decided to also take part remotely. And the panel Chairman, Senator Lamar Alexander, he will preside also from a remote location. He is in self-quarantine for 14 days after a staffer tested positive for coronavirus.

JARRETT: A lot of Americans this morning are emerging finally from isolation and venturing outside. Forty seven states are now partially reopened, whereas in early May, 97 percent of the population was under stay-at-home orders. That number is down to 60 percent and falling as states begin to relax restrictions on businesses. Now as a result of a lot more people out and about moving around, one key model has increased its projection to over 137,000 deaths by August 4th. This morning, the U.S. death toll is approaching 80,000.

ROMANS: Montana, North Dakota, Georgia, Minnesota and South Dakota are the states that have seen the biggest spike in people movement, relaxing of restrictions. Those last two states have seen the biggest jumps in coronavirus cases in the last week.

[05:05:00]

Thirteen other states are seeing sizeable increases in people movement including Ohio, one of the first to take action to combat the virus, but most of Ohio's economy will be reopened by the end of this week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. MIKE DEWINE (R-OH): It's really a risk no matter what we do. It's a risk if we don't do anything, it's a risk if we do this. We have been hit in Ohio just like other states have been hit economically. So, we've got to try to do two things at once.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Fourteen states have seen increased case trends in the last week. New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut are the only states still shut down, and all three of those states cases are declining or flat.

JARRETT: Well, we all know small businesses nationwide need a lot of help right now. So why are top economic officials taking a wait-and- see approach? Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:10:00]

ROMANS: All right, Congress has already passed a record amount of aid to help workers and small businesses. Many economists say more is needed, but officials at the White House say a fourth stimulus package is premature.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVEN MNUCHIN, SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY, UNITED STATES: We just want to make sure that before we jump back in and spend another few trillion of taxpayers' money that we do it carefully.

LARRY KUDLOW, WHITE HOUSE ECONOMIC ADVISER: It's not that we're not talking, we are, it's just informal at this stage. And really, after all this assistance, let's have a look at what the impact is and at least the next couple of weeks for the economy.

HASSETT: And I think that it's just premature, given that the $9 trillion of aid that passed in the last three phases, given that, that is still out there, there's still a bunch of it that's going to be delivered over the next month.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Now, Democrats want a fourth bill to give aid to states and local governments, but that is a sticking point for many Republicans. While the administration is taking away and see approach on the next stimulus, unemployment is skyrocketing. The bureau of Labor Statistics says the real unemployment rate which includes people who are not looking for work and people who are under unemployed, it's already 22.8 percent.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Sunday, the numbers will get worse before they get better. And he acknowledged the jobless rate may have already hit 25 percent.

JARRETT: There was a new push to solve a medical mystery whether there's a link between coronavirus and a severe inflammatory illness affecting children. New York State is now investigating 85 potential cases, 38 of those are cases in New York City with three children that have died. Listen to Governor Andrew Cuomo describe this disturbing new aspect of the pandemic.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): It's symptoms similar to Kawasaki disease, what they call Kawasaki disease or toxic-shock-like syndrome. This does not present as a normal COVID case. This presents as an inflammation of the blood vessels, sometimes inflammation of the heart.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: The three children who died lived in three different counties and were not known to have any pre-existing conditions.

ROMANS: So we know coronavirus spreads quickly in big crowds. Now, we have a terrible case in point. And what if a city straddles a state border, same name but different rules. CNN has reporters coast-to- coast covering these and all the latest developments.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN REPORTER: I'm Paul Vercammen in southern California with an astonishing story of the spread of COVID-19 in a birthday party. According to Pasadena City officials, a woman at a party attended by friends and family not wearing a mask, she starts coughing, she jokes, I may have COVID-19. She did.

No one else at the party was wearing a mask. City officials now say that at least four other Pasadena residents have COVID-19. They believe outside the city of Pasadena, another five people showing symptoms may also have COVID-19. They are simply calling this woman selfish.

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Sarah Westwood in Washington. President Trump announced on Saturday that this week the Department of Agriculture would start buying $3 billion worth of dairy, meat and produce for food banks. This initiative is something that the department had previously unveiled as part of its broader aid package for farmers.

And it will involve the department partnering with private distributors to package this food into boxes and distribute those to food banks which have faced growing pressure, supply issues and even huge lines of people lining up for food with demand increasingly dramatically with so many Americans out of work.

It also comes as farmers struggle to manage their excess crops and livestock because schools and restaurants are closed and many processing plants still remain offline.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Natasha Chen in Bristol, Tennessee. But actually, now I'm Natasha Chen in Bristol, Virginia, across the state line where there is a very different set of rules. On that side of the street, the governor of Tennessee has allowed restaurants to accept customers dining inside. But on this side of the street in Virginia, phase one of reopening may not start until Friday when restaurants can do outdoor dining. This has created some confusion and frustration for one community split across two states, and now experiencing two different economies.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JARRETT: All right, thanks to all of our reporters for all of that. So, still ahead, are Chinese hackers stealing American research to get a jump on a vaccine?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:15:00]

JARRETT: "The New York Times" reports the U.S. is set to issue a warning that Chinese hackers are trying to steal American research on coronavirus treatments and vaccines. It comes amid a surge a cyber theft attacks by nations seeking an advantage in this pandemic. CNN's Steven Jiang is live in Beijing with more for us. Steven, the FBI and Department of Homeland Security have been warning for a long time about these type of cyber attacks. But this seems like an escalation.

STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: That's right, Laura, so this is the U.S. side adding another accusation against Beijing as you said with "The New York Times" reporting. Officials very likely issuing a new warning in the coming days about Beijing trying to seek a valuable intellectual property as well as a public health data related to vaccines, testing and treatments of the coronavirus through illicit means.

This is on top about own reporting that these officials from FBI and White House already sounding such alarms for weeks.

[05:20:00]

Now, I have just asked the Chinese government for a reaction, and a foreign ministry spokesman said China is actually at the forefront of coronavirus research and any allegation against the country without proof are just smearing and fabrication. Now, in the meantime, the authorities here are increasingly worried about the re-emergence of that locally transmitted cases.

In Wuhan, the original epicenter, they have reported six such cases since the weekend. But even more alarming is in the northeastern city of Solan(ph) where they have seen more than a dozen such cases since last Thursday, that city is now under strict lockdown measures. The kind of things we have only previously seen in Wuhan at the peak of the virus. Why?

Because authorities, they're trying to figure out their patient zero, a laundry lady who apparently had no travel history and no contact with other confirmed cases. So, very puzzling but another warning against complacency, not only here in China, but also for the rest of the world. Laura?

JARRETT: Steven, thanks so much for your reporting as usual.

ROMANS: All right, 20 minutes past the hour. A potential set back in South Korea. The country was on track to loosen coronavirus restrictions, but a new cluster of cases is causing bars and nightclubs to shut down in Seoul. That's where we find CNN's Paula Hancocks.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christine, this all goes back to May 2nd when a 29-year-old man visited the Itaewon district of Seoul. This is where all the night clubs are and visited a number of these nightclubs before testing positive a few days later. Now, we know at this point, 86 other cases have now tested positive and been linked to that particular individual in that area.

And officials are trying to contain this outbreak. They have 5,500 names that they have gathered from the area for a two-week period, and they want to test everyone. They say they've tested more than 3,000 already, but there are some that they are still struggling to trace. And what they are doing is they are using mobile phone records, they have police cooperation -- they are using credit card usage records to try and trace every single person to make sure that they can control this.

Now, already, there's been a knock-on-effect just in the last half hour. The Education Ministry saying that they are now going to postpone the reopening of schools. It was going to be this Wednesday, just two days away, the highest level of the school, the high school year three was going to be going back to school, then a phased introduction for other years. That has now been pushed back a year, a week. And this whole mess says the next two to three days are going to be critical to try and contain this. Christine?

ROMANS: All right, Paula, thank you so much for that, Paula. Laura?

JARRETT: Well, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is extending the lockdown in the United Kingdom. He's also rolling out a three-stage plan to reopen schools, some businesses and the hospitality industry. Phil Black joins us live from London with the very latest developments. Hi, Phil.

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Laura, it is at this stage a very broad plan. It is long term, it is highly conditional and it's still missing a great deal of detail. It begins not with a clear shift in policy or direction. But as the government says, as the Prime Minister said when he spoke to the country last night, it is a change in emphasis. Up until now, the guidelines of people have been work from home if you

can, go to work if you must. Now, the shift here is continue to work from home if you can, but if you can't work from home and you can go to work safely, then you should do that. The government is shifting to an active encouragement to try and get people out of their homes to return to their jobs if they think they can do that safely.

And he specifically mentioned a couple of industries, notably, construction and manufacturing. Now, there's a lot of concern about this because what the government hasn't outlined just yet are the details in terms of how this is going to work industry-by-industry, workplace-by-workplace. What are the guidelines that are going to be in place in these workplaces to ensure that people can return safely.

And from employers, workers, union groups, all of these people have said we just don't have the information yet to put this into place. The government says that information will be coming in the next few days. If it all goes to plan and the infection rate stays low, the government then says, come June, perhaps some school classes can reopen, some businesses and shops in a more phased way.

And then in -- perhaps as early as July, we could see some of the hospitality industry opening including bars, for example. That seems a long way off just yet. And the Prime Minister has been keen to stress it really does depend on keeping that infection rate right down, Laura.

JARRETT: Of course, everyone wants to reopen, the question, how to do it safely. Phil Black, thanks so much for all of your reporting.

ROMANS: All right, so the White House racing to limit damage from coronavirus inside its walls. Who is isolating, who is not, and what the president thinks about the virus infiltrating his safe space.

[05:25:00]

ROMANS: Some sad breaking news at this hour. Comedian Jerry Stiller has died at age 92. Son, Ben Stiller tweeting that his dad died due to natural causes. "He was a great dad and grandfather and most dedicated husband to Ann for about 62 years. He will be greatly missed." Stiller was best known for starring roles on the "King of Queens" and "Seinfeld". EARLY START continues right now.

JARRETT: Coronavirus is inside.

END