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Fauci's Warning: "Needless Suffering and Death"; New York State Prepares to Partially Reopen; MLB Proposes an 82-Game Season Starting in July; South Korea & China Battling New Coronavirus Cases; Boris Johnson's Muddled Guidance on Lifting U.K. Lockdown. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired May 12, 2020 - 05:00   ET



LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Needles suffering and death, a sobering warning from the nation's top infectious disease doctor. Why Anthony Fauci is sounding a new alarm.

We have reports this morning from China, London, Quebec, Belgium, Germany and Spain.

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

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And it's great to see you again this morning, Laura.

Good morning, everyone.

I'm Christine Romans. It's Tuesday, May 12th. It is 5:00 a.m. here in New York.

And for the first time since coronavirus was declared a national emergency, top officials will testify today about the federal response and what comes next. Top U.S. health officials, most of whom, by the way, are self-quarantining, will all testify remotely.

New overnight, Dr. Anthony Fauci laying bare his emotions about opening prematurely.

JARRETT: Speaking to "The New York Times", he said, quote: If we skip over the checkpoints in the guidelines to Open America Again, then we risk the danger of multiple outbreaks around the country. This will not only result in needles suffering and death, but it will set us back on our quest to return to normal.

This won't be the first time Fauci has gone public with his concerns. He said this about testing back in March.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: It is a failing, and let's admit it. The idea of anybody getting it easily the way people in other countries are doing it, we're not set up for that. Do I think we should be? Yes, but we're not.


ROMANS: Last night, the testing issue front and center at the White House. Notably Dr. Fauci and other health officials were not there despite being at the White House on Monday. On the same day the U.S. COVID death toll topped 80,000. The president boasted about his administration's achievement falsely claiming the U.S. outpaces the world in coronavirus testing.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have met the moment and we have prevailed. Americans do whatever it takes to find solutions, pioneer breakthroughs and harness the energies we need to achieve a total victory.


JARRETT: The numbers, however, tell a very different story. So far, under 3 percent of Americans have been tested, far less than other countries. The president also had this exchange with a reporter about China's testing and mortality rates. Note that the reporter happens to be Asian-American.


REPORTER: Why is this a global competition to you if every day Americans are still losing their lives and we're still seeing more cases every day?

TRUMP: Well, they're losing their lives everywhere in the world. And maybe that's a question you should ask China. Don't ask me, ask China that question, OK? When you ask them that question, you may get a very unusual answer.

REPORTER: Sir, why are you saying that to me specifically to ask China?

TRUMP: I'm telling you, I'm not saying it specifically to anybody.


ROMANS: After two White House staffers tested positive for COVID-19 last week, a new memo directed employees entering the West Wing to wear masks. Now, the vice president was not wearing one publicly Monday nor obviously was the president.

JARRETT: New York state, the epicenter of the pandemic, is about to begin reopening.

Governor Andrew Cuomo sounding hopeful about successfully starting the process.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: When you see the number of lives lost, again, right about where we started before we really went into the heart of this crisis, and that's what it's been, it's been a crisis, and a painful one. But we're coming out of the other side. So, in many ways, from my point of view, we're in the other side of the mountain.


JARRETT: Now, the reopening of the New York would be partial. Governor Cuomo acknowledging some counties are simply not ready. We get more now from CNN's Shimon Prokupecz.


SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine and Laura.

New York state's Governor Andrew Cuomo announcing on Monday that parts of the state will reopen come Friday. But he's only limiting it to three regions.

And unfortunately New York City is not one of them. That is because he says the numbers are still too high. The number of hospitalizations, the number of people testing positive for the virus still remains too high. We're going down. The numbers are coming down, we're still not there yet here in the city.

So, only three regions will reopen on Friday and those are regions in Upstate New York, north of New York City, and it's going to involve manufacturing jobs, low-risk essential businesses. He also says that he's going to allow recreational activity.


Low risk recreational activity to begin, such as allowing people to play tennis, he says.

Now as to when New York City, the five boroughs and the surrounding suburbs will reopen, it's not really clear. The numbers need to still come down further and once we start seeing even a further decline, the governor says then the city will be allowed to reopen -- Christine, Laura.


ROMANS: All right, Shimon. Thank you for that.

The COVID death toll in New York City may be much higher than the official count, according to the CDC. Numbers show about 24,000 more people died since mid-March than would normally be expected. Nineteen thousand of those were confirmed or probable coronavirus deaths. But more than 5,000 had no official connection to the virus. Some had underlying conditions worsened by COVID.

But researchers say coronavirus may also be killing people indirectly. There's growing evidence that decline in reported heart attacks and strokes is because of people avoiding ERs afraid of the virus.

JARRETT: Interstate battle lines are being drawn right now as the nation begins to reopen. In Colorado, health officials should down the CNC Coffee and Kitchen in Castle Rock, a restaurant that reopened over the weekend, in defiance of a state order. Packed as you can see there.

The governor's restrictions getting mixed reviews.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think people are ready to open up. And, you know, we want to exercise our freedom, you know, and not let our elected leaders, you know, always tell us what's best for our health.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going through the same thing myself. I totally understood the financial impact. What I didn't understand was the health and safety of their staff and their guests.


JARRETT: According to the Colorado Health Department, if the restaurant refuses to follow orders, further legal action will be taken.

ROMANS: There is a rebellion brewing in Pennsylvania where counties led by Republicans and some businesses plan to defy Democratic Governor Tom Wolf's restrictive orders this week. Governor Wolf is deploying a tiered strategy to reopening the state. He say he'll withhold stimulus funding from counties that defy his orders.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Governor wolf is absolutely wrong in Susquehanna County.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It just makes no logical sense anymore.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The reality is, he's moving the goalposts and that fuels frustration.


JARRETT: In California, some San Diego officials are urging the governor to lift what they consider unrealistic standards. They believe their city is ready to safely reopen more businesses.

Governor Gavin Newsom praised San Diego earlier this month for following beach closure orders and other social distancing protocols.

ROMANS: Elon Musk reopened Tesla's facility in California, defying orders meant to slow the spread of the virus. The CEO tweeted: If anyone is arrested, I only ask that it only be me.

Musk objects to state lockdown orders. He argued restrictions put in place by Alameda County where Tesla's Fremont factory is based are overly aggressive and unconstitutional.

You can see cars parked there yesterday. Over the weekend, Tesla filed a federal lawsuit, and Musk threatened to move Tesla's manufacturing out of California. Alameda telling Tesla to scale back reopening to, quote, minimum basic operations until -- until an agreement can be reached between the company and the county.

On Monday, Governor Gavin Newsom deferred to county officials.


GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D), CALIFORNIA: Manufacturing broadly throughout the state of California is no longer restricted with modifications. And to the extent that they were moving forward, we'll work with the county health officials, but again, it's county-led enforcement.


ROMANS: So, Musk very pleased to hear that. County official said they are negotiating with Tesla on the plan to reopen the plant more fully.

This is just the latest in a series of bizarre movements involving the tech giant. Musk recently said he helped secured more than 1,000 ventilators for California hospitals, but then some hospitals reported getting totally different machines.

JARRETT: Well, it may be the most hopeful sign yet for the return of live reports. Major League Baseball owners will reportedly present a proposal to the players today. The season to begin on 4th of July weekend. The owners Monday agreed on the plan for a shortened season of 82 games, down from the full 162-game schedule, and expanded playoffs.

Teams would hold another version of spring training for two or three weeks in June. The regular season would begin in early July in ball parks without fans, as long as state and legislation and health officials allow it. Back in March all 30 major league teams committed a million dollars each to help ballpark employees affected by the delay of the baseball season.

ROMANS: All right. Would you want to be on a flight packed like this? The crowded picture caused an uproar. Now, United is changing policies.



JARRETT: All right. Welcome back.

The human toll from coronavirus is growing at meatpacking plants in the U.S. A major contact tracing effort gets underway, and could we see summer camps start opening next month?

CNN has reporters covering the pandemic across the country.



When compared to other states, Florida's COVID-19 response has resulted in lower per capita infection and death rates. Experts analyzed data that tracks people's movements and credits Floridians for staying home before politicians issued safer at home orders. Floridians, experts say, most likely reacted early because they watched the news. Other factors that helped Florida, per experts, Governor DeSantis's decision to impose restrictions on nursing homes. Florida's robust public health system which responded to disasters like hurricanes, the state's overall low population density, less use of public transportation and also a little luck.


The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union is once calling for the White House to make those CDC guidelines mandatory and enforceable.


This comes after 14 plants have reopened since the president announced his executive order. The UFCW says that 30 meatpacking workers have died since the pandemic began and more than 10,000 have either been exposed to or infected by COVID-19.

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN POLITICS & BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: I'm Cristina Alesci in New York, where the state is racing to build one of the biggest contact tracing programs in the country.

DR. JOSHUA SHARFSTEIN, JOHNS HOPKINS BLOOMBERG SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: If you don't get contract tracing right, then there's a risk that the virus continues to spread.

ALESCI: A team at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health developed this training course, ideally tracers will convince patients to isolate and find others who may have been in contact with the patient using this app. Tracers would then have to get those people to quarantine, finding and isolating even just a few contacts helps reduce the spread.

DR. EMILY GURLEY, JOHNS HOPKINS BLOOMBERG SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: It's really the best defense that we have right now against COVID-19.

ALESCI: That defense is backed by $10.5 million from former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Alex Marquardt in Washington, D.C., where the city's mayor announced the conversion of a convention center in the heart of the capital into a field hospital for COVID-19 patients. The city worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to install more than 400 beds, 100 of which will be ready this week. But the mayor says that with the city's hospitals at 70 percent capacity, she hopes to never have to use the convention center, calling it an insurance policy.

ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Erica Hill in New York where this state's phased regional reopening will begin on Friday.

Meantime, in neighboring Connecticut, officials clarifying comments about summer camps. They will be able to open on June 29th but only day camps. No overnight camps have yet been cleared. Groups need to be limited to 10 children or less, and there will also be strict guidelines which will include hygiene and social distancing.

In Massachusetts, the governor announcing a four-phase plan for his state, targeting Monday, May 18th, as a start date for that plan. The guidelines there will focus heavily on social distancing and hygiene as well.


ROMANS: All right. Thanks to all our reporters for those.

Hawaii is considering taking photographs of every visitor who flies into the state. The governor says too many people are ignoring mandatory 14-day quarantine rules. And there is currently no way to identify them. The state has strictly enforced a quarantine for visitors, even arresting a California couple on their honeymoon last week for repeatedly ignoring warnings to stay in their hotel room.

JARRETT: United Airlines will allow customers are nearly full flights to rebook or receive a credit with no charge at all. The announcement comes after a weekend social media post which showed like a nearly full United flight, as you can see there. The airline says it will try to notify customers 24 hours in advance when a flight is 70 percent or more full. United says 85 percent of its flights are less than half full right now.

Meanwhile, cyber attacks against hospitals and other health care facilities as hackers try to exploit the pandemic. Criminals are using sophisticated malware to seize hospital computer networks and hold them for ransom. Security experts point to 150 percent increase in attacks in the first part of the year. Despite an estimated $65 billion being spent on cyber security, many hospitals have not taken steps to safeguard them from ransomware attacks.

ROMANS: There is a deadly new problem emerging from the pandemic. According to traffic analysts and law enforcement, there have been a disproportionate number of speed-related crashes and fatalities in the U.S. since March. Reports of drag racing and high-speed wrecks spiked right after states began lockdowns. In the Toronto area, authorities have charged at least 150 people with street racing or stunt racing, including a 19-year-old driving 191 miles per hour.

JARRETT: Well, this could be wishful thinking at the happiest place on Earth. The Walt Disney World Theme Parks and Disney Resorts in Florida now accepting reservations starting in July. Guests will be allowed to modify bookings if the resort opens before or after that date. Shanghai Disneyland started the process of reopening yesterday. Disney's profits dropped a whopping 91 percent during the first three months of 2020 driven by shutdowns of theme parks worldwide.

ROMANS: All right. Your stimulus check will not be taxed but your tax benefits will be. Why the most vulnerable have to pay up.



ROMANS: As countries in Europe and North America consider lifting lockdowns, some nations in Asia are seeing a resurgence in coronavirus cases. South Korea is reporting more than 100 new infections linked to a nightclub cluster in Seoul. The mayor tells our Paula Hancocks if Seoul falls, the whole Korean peninsula falls.

And in China, officials in Wuhan are conducting citywide testing in a ten day battle to prevent an outbreak after new cases were discovered.

Let's go live to CNN's Steven Jiang in Beijing -- Steven.

STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: Well, Christine, as you said, the latest response from the Chinese authority is that proposed mass testing of 11 million residents of Wuhan, the original epicenter. Now, they are still working on details. As you said, they want to have it done within 10 days.


I think that will make a lot of U.S. officials jealous if they pull this off.

Now, this obviously responds to the reemergence of locally transmitted cases in the city after it saw no new cases for over a month. These six new cases over the weekend all occurring within the same residential compound, and most were asymptomatic for a long time. So, really raising a lot of alarm here.

But even more alarming, though, is the situation in the northern city of Shulan. That city is now being locked down with the kind of draconian measures we have previously only seen in Wuhan at the peak of the outbreak.

Residents required to stay home, and each household is allowed to send out one member to buy groceries on a daily basis. Schools and businesses are shut and transportation into the city suspended. All these measures because authorities are very much baffled by their patient zero. A laundry lady who apparently had no travel history and no contact with other confirmed cases.

So, they are doing extensive contact tracing, trying to figure out how she contracted this virus before spreading it to a dozen other people -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Steven in Beijing, thank you.

JARRETT: Well, confusion reigns in the U.K. concerning Prime Minister Boris Johnson's plans to ease coronavirus lockdown restrictions. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is live in 10 Downing Street in London with the


Nick, how did the messaging get some muddled here?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Yes. I mean, there is an extraordinary gap between the speech that was nationwide, widely trailed, massively anticipated by Britons looking to see what would change about these restrictive measures, the absence of details on that. And the next afternoon after the prime minister had encouraged people to begin to go back to work, to actually hear the details of how that should be implemented.

And in fact, even as those details emerged and transpired, the government hoped people wouldn't go back to work possibly until tomorrow.

So, there was clearly a lot missing in what Boris Johnson said on Sunday. The only benefit frankly from that is the confusion has led people to be very meticulous about exactly what these guidelines now finally say. And they are kind of a halfway house to some degree. There is an element in which they lead to people's own judgment, to businesses' own judgment, what is, quote, COVID safe, they provide guidelines about what you can do in the workplace to make sure you're OK.

They do permit you to meet one person who isn't in your household in an outdoor space during the day. But it also puts forward two possible further phases in early June, allowing nonessential shops to open and possibility the hospital industry and yet further businesses in July. All of this contingent on keeping the infection right low. But it has been so far they have kept the NHS, the pre-point of use health service here run by the government from being overwhelmed, and projected the message it try to have confidence despite its many failings now having this extraordinary test for its ability to communicate so simply to the people here lack the detail people desperately needed.

They're getting it now. The documents being released are fairly substantial, but it has been remarkable to see this particular test, this one moment of message clarity for which they have had weeks to prepare having to be spelled out over a number of days.

And people got the detail they needed. And that will damage the British government's ability moving forward to a peer authoritative and consistent in what they ask people to do.

JARRETT: All right. Nick Paton Walsh in London for us, thanks so much.

EARLY START continues right now.


ROMANS: Needless suffering and death. A sobering warning from the nation's top infectious disease doctor. Why Anthony Fauci is sounding a new alarm.

Good morning. This is EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

JARRETT: And I'm Laura Jarrett.

Good to see you, Christine.

Twenty -- 28 minutes past the hour, I should say.

For the first time since coronavirus was declared a national emergency, top officials will testify today about the federal response and what comes next. Top U.S. health officials who -- most of whom are self quarantining will all testify remotely.

New, overnight, Dr. Anthony Fauci laying bare his concerns about reopening the nation prematurely.

ROMANS: Speaking to "The New York Times", he said: If we skip over the checkpoints in the guidelines to open America again, then we risk the danger of multiple outbreaks throughout the country. This will not only result in needless suffering and death but would actually set us back on our quest to return to normal.

This won't be the first time Fauci has gone public with his concerns. He said this about testing back in March.


FAUCI: It is a failing, and let's admit it. The idea of anybody getting it easily the way people in other countries are doing it, we're not set up for that. Do I think we should be? Yes, but we're not.


JARRETT: Last night, the testing issue was front and center at the White House. Notably, Dr. Fauci and other health officials were not there despite being at the White House earlier on Monday.

On the same day, the U.S. COVID death toll topped 80,000.