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Officials: Los Angeles Faces Long Haul to Reopening; Experts Warn of Deadly Consequences for Reopening Too Soon; Grocery Costs Spike the Most in 46 Years; Arizona Governor: Pro Sports Can Resume Operations Starting Friday; President Putin's Spokesperson Hospitalized with Coronavirus; Secretary of State Pompeo in Israel to Meet Netanyahu & Gantz. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired May 13, 2020 - 05:00   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Ten million people could be stuck at home in Los Angeles well into the summer. How it could spill over for jobs, relationships, and schools nationwide.

We have reports this morning on the situations in Russia, Israel, Germany, the U.K., and South Africa.

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

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Laura Jarrett. It's Wednesday, May 13th. It's 5:00 a.m. in New York.

And we begin this morning with new signs some coronavirus restrictions are here for the long haul. Disappointing reality hitting southern California. Health officials in L.A. County, home to 10 million people, signaled reopening will be a slow process. Some stay-at-home orders could last well into the summer.


MAYOR ERIC GARCETTI (D), LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA: It's just a reminder of how delicate and fragile this time is but to not freak out when you hear a scientist say that it's still going to be here and we're still going to be living under health orders, all of us in America, for many, many months, if not into next year. But at the same time, it really puts that in our hands to know our compliance with these orders helps us take steps forward, as we did this week in Los Angeles and as we hope to do a little bit with some more baby steps this coming week, too.


JARRETT: Health officials later clarified, restrictions will be gradually relaxed, guided by science, but that won't be enough for some schools to open, even by fall.

CNN's Stephanie Elam has more from Los Angeles now. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Laura, with all certainty. Those are the words that the director for public health for the county of Los Angeles used when she said we can expect to see the stay-at-home order here extended for three more months.

Now, it was set to expire this upcoming Friday, but she says this is based upon the data. So not really surprised when right now we have more than 33,000 cases and there's more than 69,000 cases in the entire state. So, almost half of the cases are here in this county.

But she did say that she would hope to see some easing of those restrictions during that time period. To make that case, today the beaches in L.A. County are opening up for exercise, for recreation, but you've got to keep moving. You cannot sunbathe and you do have to wear a mask, unless, of course, you're in the ocean.

And another idea of what things may look like in the fall. We are hearing from the Cal State University system, which is one of the largest in the country. They're saying their fall semester will be virtual. They will be teaching online for almost all of their classes. This is going to affect 23 universities and some 480,000 students -- Laura and Christine.


ROMANS: All right, Stephanie, thank you for that.

And the chancellor of the Cal State system outlining some exceptions to that virtual university plan. He says in-person classes would include nursing students who need clinical training to earn their licenses. He says statewide, the changes may last well beyond the fall.


TIMOTHY WHITE, CHANCELLOR, CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY SYSTEM: This pandemic, which isn't going to last a month or two or even for another six months or twelve months. This is an approach where we think about this over the course of the next year or two. How do we do our part as the largest four-year university in the country?


ROMANS: L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti supports the decision to stay virtual for the fall term, and he says K-12 schools in L.A. should prepare to stick with online classes as well.

And now, the head of the University of California system Janet Napolitano is urging a total suspension of admission testing requirements, like the SAT and the ACT until 2024.

JARRETT: Well, the future of school in America remains a major concern during this pandemic. The issue of sending kids back to school came up during a Senate hearing Tuesday and led to this exchange between Senator Rand Paul, who is a doctor, and the leading infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci.


SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): As much as I respect you, Dr. Fauci, I don't think you're the end all. I don't think you're the one person that gets to make a decision. We can listen to your advice, but there are people on the other side saying there's not going to be a surge and that we can safely open the economy. And the facts will bear this out.

But if we keep kids out of school for another year, what's going to happen is the poor and underprivileged kids who don't have a parent that's able to teach them at home are not going to learn for a full year.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I have never made myself out to be the end all and only voice of this. I'm a scientist, a physician, and a public health official. I give advice according to the best scientific evidence. We don't know everything about this virus, and we really better be very careful, particularly when it comes to children. I think we'd better be careful if we are not cavalier in thinking that children are completely immune to the deleterious effects.


JARRETT: Some students in Quebec are already back in school with desks far apart. Some rooms closed off entirely and teachers in masks and gloves.


Fauci just yesterday said it's unlikely a vaccine or treatment will be ready before kids are supposed to go back to school this fall.

ROMANS: At that Senate hearing, a lot of health issues addressed, including a vaccine and testing. One lawmaker used this graphic to drive home a point on testing. The U.S. and South Korea reported their first cases on the same day, but their approach to testing yielded very different results on jobs and human life.

Lauren Fox has more from Capitol Hill.


LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, Laura and Christine, the hearing yesterday on Capitol Hill looked very different than what we've seen in the past. You had the chairman, the ranking member, and all four officials testifying doing so remotely. So, just a sign of the times.

But the message, largely the same from Dr. Anthony Fauci, who argued that the U.S., while it's trending in the right direction in terms of containing the coronavirus, it doesn't have total control just yet. And he offered a stark warning to states looking to reopen, arguing that they need to be following those federal guidelines to ensure that they're opening their states smartly and safely, and to ensure that they don't cause undue death or suffering or prolong the economic crisis caused by this virus.

Now, Democrats questioned the Trump administration's response so far as well as targeted the president, but it wasn't just Democrats asking tough questions.

SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): We treaded water during February and March, and as a result, by March 6th, the U.S. had completed just 2,000 tests, whereas South Korea had conducted more than 140,000 tests. So, partially as a result of that, they have 256 deaths and we have almost 80,000 deaths. I find our testing record nothing to celebrate whatsoever.

FOX: Mitt Romney, a senator and a Republican from Utah, someone who has sparred with the president in the past, argued that the U.S. had nothing to be proud of when it came to testing and said that more needs to be done to ensure adequate testing is available if the U.S. wants to get back to work or school any time soon -- Laura and Christine.


JARRETT: Thanks to Lauren Fox for that report.

Meanwhile, a key coronavirus model frequently cited by the White House is increasing its death toll projections again. The IMHE model now forecasts 147,000 deaths in the U.S. by early August. That doubles the projections from late April, which has already been eclipsed.

So why do the numbers keep going up? Well, the director behind the model says the answer is simple.


DR. CHRISTOPHER MURRAY, DIRECTOR, IHME: We originally had thought that people would go the distance, keep social distancing in place right through to the end of May. But what's happened is that states have relaxed early. People have heard the message. They have gotten out. They have become more mobile. They're having more contact.


JARRETT: As more people emerge from their homes, a new CNN poll finds most Americans would be uncomfortable returning to their regular routines today, but there's a clear partisan divide on this. The majority of Republicans say they are comfortable returning to normal right now with the majority of Democrats stressing caution.

ROMANS: All right, Washington state will be using hundreds of National Guard members as part of a new contact tracing program as more businesses open there. People who test positive will be asked to identify others they have recently been near, but the governor says guard members will not have authority to compel people to help.


GOV. JAY INSLEE (D-WA): And its success will depend on both the state and local public health officials, and most importantly, individuals and families who will need to be committed to this effort.


ROMANS: Of course, contact tracing like this relies heavily on public buy-in, and public health experts note that even a few, even just a few super spreaders who refuse to follow the rules, they can spread the virus widely.

JARRETT: The CDC is alerting doctors to look for a syndrome that is attacking children. It could be related to COVID-19. The symptoms are persistent fever, inflammation, and poor organ function. There are also symptoms that are similar to shock, by the way.

New York state is reporting more than 100 possible cases of this with Governor Andrew Cuomo confirming three children have now died, including a 5-year-old and a 7-year-old boy.

ROMANS: All right, coronavirus is dramatically changing what you pay for things. Gas is cheap, eggs are expensive. Let's start with that grocery bill. Grocery prices jumped the most in 46 years in April. Staples like eggs, meats and cereal are more expensive as Americans stock up on food because of the coronavirus.

The price for eggs climbed more than 16 percent, the biggest increase for any single food item, but everything else is getting cheaper -- clothes, cars, airfare. Consumer prices overall declined for the second straight month in April, down by 0.8 percent, marking the biggest drop since December 2008. The drop was primarily because of falling gas and energy prices.


Gasoline prices down 20 percent.

Now, falling prices might seem like a good thing, but it's actually a bad sign for the economic recovery and deflation, as it's known, Laura, can lead to more job losses down the road. So watch this space.

JARRETT: Yes, it's such a great point. You might think, you know, low gas price is a good thing, but it's something to watch, certainly, there.

Well, still ahead, returning to normal could mean dinner and a show, but how much could that cost? And when could it happen?


ROMANS: Some restaurants are starting to open, but the prices may give you sticker shock. And when will the bright lights of Broadway get switched back on?

CNN has reporters covering all the developments.


RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Ryan Young outside Columbus, Ohio.

And here, the state hasn't seen 14 straight days of drop-off when it comes to coronavirus cases like the CDC recommends before opening businesses back up, but that hasn't stopped the state from allowing retail shops to open their doors.


It's been a tough seven weeks. Some businesses like this one haven't had their doors open. They've had to lay off employees.

So, this was a welcome open. You can see social distancing markings all across the floor here to be ready for customers. They also have hand sanitizing stations. This doesn't stop just here.

Across the state, they're getting ready for more openings. On Friday, we know restaurants will be allowed to do outdoor seating. Barbershops, spas and salons will be able to open.


Wholesale beef prices have hit the highest level ever recorded, according to the USDA. And as the country reopens, meaning restaurants are, too, an already struggling industry is now facing new challenges.

A barbecue owner in Tennessee tells us that he's leaving brisket off the menu this week because it's just too expensive, much to the disappointment of his customers.

At a burger bar in Virginia, the owner tells us that he can only last about one more week with the price of ground beef before he's going to have to increase prices for his customers. He said that every time he sees a light at the end of the tunnel, it seems to go out.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: I'm Paula Newton in Ottawa, where Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says stronger measures may be needed at the U.S./Canada border going forward. Now, he says this because as the states begin to reopen, he says Canada needs to show extreme caution given the level of outbreak in the United States.

Right now, by mutual agreement, that U.S./Canada border remains closed to all nonessential traffic until May 21st. Both countries are trying to decide whether or not to lift those restrictions, but if they do, there could be temperature checks and medical history checks for those coming into Canada.

ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Erica Hill in New York where the Broadway league has announced theaters in this city will remain closed through at least September 6th. This impacts 31 Broadway productions. Eight of those were new shows in development.

Broadly, theaters shut down on March 12th after an usher for two shows tested positive for the virus. As for the city itself, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says we are still weeks away from reopening. The first chance to look at doing something differently would come in June, but only if there are indicators of consistent progress.


JARRETT: Thanks so much to all of our correspondents for those great reports.

Hundreds of thousands of casino and resort workers across Nevada expected to follow new safety measures once hotels open their doors again. MGM resorts becoming the fourth Vegas casino to announce a reopening plan. It will require temperature checks and masks for employees, but only recommends similar measures for guests there.

The plan also includes changes to the casino floor, such as spacing out slot machines, suspending buffet service, and reducing the number of players at each card table. The measures are similar to ones announced by Wynn Resorts, the Venetian, and Caesars.

ROMANS: The governor of Arizona giving a green light for pro sports to resume in the state starting Friday. Governor Doug Ducey said it's a limited reopening without fans. Teams would be required to follow public health protocols and guidelines.

So far, none of the major sports leagues has announced when they will return. A number of baseball teams hold spring training in Arizona, and the governor said they may be able to accommodate teams that normally play elsewhere.

JARRETT: The governor of South Dakota is offering a compromise to end a dispute with the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. She says no checkpoints will be allowed on state highways, but there's no objection to them on tribal roads. The tribe's chairman says he's amazed the state is focused on this issue, and he's preparing a response.

On Friday, Governor Kristi Noem threatened to take the tribe to court to remove those checkpoints, which were set up to protect members from COVID-19.

ROMANS: With millions of Americans working from home temporarily, Twitter has decided to make the setup permanent for some employees, if they want to. The decision highlights how measures to deal with the pandemic could lead to a new normal in America. Twitter has not specified which jobs will qualify. The company tells CNN the experience of the past few months has proven that working from home can be successful on a large scale.

JARRETT: It will be interesting to see which companies continue to do that more and more.

Well, the pandemic is also putting a strain on Facebook's content review system. The company says it's worked with more than 70 fact- checking partners to put 50 million fact-check labels on posts. Facebook is also depending on more artificial intelligence-based content moderation than ever before because it had to send so many people home during this pandemic.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg says since March, Facebook has removed more than 2.5 million pieces of scam related to the sale of masks, hand sanitizer, wipes, and test kits for the virus.

ROMANS: The Democratic National Committee moving to allow for virtual voting by delegates for its nominating convention in Milwaukee. DNC chairman Tom Perez says the rules committee vote is an important first step toward giving them maximum flexibility.

So, what does the party's candidate think of a possible virtual convention?



JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I hope I'm going to be in Milwaukee, and I hope we're going to have it beyond virtual. But look, we have to follow -- we have to follow the science.


ROMANS: Meantime, the Trump campaign is said to be moving full steam ahead with plans to hold a physical convention in Charlotte in August.

JARRETT: Well, doctors falling out of windows? Deadly hospital fires? Now coronavirus is inside the Kremlin. How the virus took off so quickly in Russia.



JARRETT: Coronavirus is growing in a lot of places right now, but nowhere faster than Russia. More than 10,000 new cases now confirmed for the 11th straight day, the second most cases worldwide. The deepening crisis has now reached the upper levels of the Kremlin.

CNN's Matthew Chance is live with the very latest.

Matthew, we've now learned that Putin's longtime spokesman has the virus?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It's not the first member of Vladimir Putin's inner circle that's been infected with coronavirus. The prime minister last month had to be hospitalized because he tested positive for the virus as well.

But Dmitry Peskov, the spokesperson for Vladimir Putin, is perhaps the official that is closest to the Russian president. He's gone into hospital yesterday. And it raises questions about, you know, is the Russian president himself healthy?

Now, Dmitry Peskov before he was hospitalized said, look, I haven't had a face-to-face meeting with Vladimir Putin for at least a month, you know. But we know that Vladimir Putin does have these one-on-one meetings, although he does most of his business these days by video call. So, again, it's raised concerns about the health of the Russian

President. That, of course, as Russia registers an 11th consecutive day of an increase in coronavirus infections of more than 10,000 people. It now has more than 240,000 confirmed cases.

And the predictions are by officials, that's going to go a lot higher than that. But it makes it already the second highest toll in the world after the United States, that in a country which is straining under -- its health system is straining under the burden of the pandemic.

We've seen hospital fires in at least two locations over the past three or four days, six people killed, for instance, when the ventilators that were keeping them alive burst into flames and set the whole ward on fire. Hundreds of people had to be evacuated and put in other places.

And so, it is a really difficult crisis still unfolding in Russia, Laura.

JARRETT: Thank you so much for laying all that out. Matthew Chance in London for us.

ROMANS: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arriving overnight in Israel wearing a red, white and blue mask as he came off the plane. He will meet with the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the Knesset Speaker Benny Gantz to discuss U.S. and Israeli efforts fighting coronavirus.

Let's bring in CNN's Oren Liebermann. He is live in Jerusalem -- Oren.

OREN LIEBERMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christine, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his team said this trip was at the invitation of the Israeli government.

Certainly, of course, the timing unusual. Pompeo is the first foreign dignitary to visit Israel since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, and this is a lightning-fast trip. He's on the ground for less than eight hours to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and to meet his national unity government partner Benny Gantz.

The meeting with Netanyahu has already started. They gave short statements at the beginning. There wasn't any big announcement here. The topics pretty much what we expect them to be -- coronavirus, of course, Iran, also, of course, and any attempts to move forward a peace process under the Trump administration's vision for peace. It was Netanyahu who mentioned this and said Israel's national unity government, to be sworn in tomorrow, is a chance to advance that peace and security under the Trump administration's vision.

Pompeo did use the opportunity in his opening remarks to take a swipe at China. He thanked Israel for being open and sharing information, unlike, he said, some other countries who are trying to hide information, saying they would discuss that country as well.

Pompeo is now meeting Netanyahu. He'll then meet with Gantz and then fly back. Perhaps the memorable image from this trip will be Pompeo stepping off the plane with that red, white and blue mask, stepping onto the tarmac at Tel Aviv's international airport.

Here masks are required in public, so is a 14-day quarantine for anyone entering the country, but in Pompeo's case, of course, that was skipped for this very quick trip.

ROMANS: Yes. Oren Liebermann, diplomacy in the era of COVID. Thanks, Oren.

JARRETT: It hasn't received as much attention, but the devastation in Latin America is growing by the day. Brazilian cities are burying rows of stacked coffins in mass graves. Hundreds in Ecuador are searching for bodies of family members who went to hospitals but never came out alive.

Latin America has confronted the crisis with far fewer resources than Europe or the United States, forcing people from Peru, Venezuela, and elsewhere to trek miles to safer places.

ROMANS: It could feel like grade school when flights resume on Ryanair in July. Passengers will be required to get permission to use the bathroom. The Ireland-based budget airline is implementing strict, new health and safety guidelines. That includes fewer checked bags, temperature checks at airport entries, and mask requirements for passengers and crew members.

EARLY START continues right now.


JARRETT: Ten million people could be stuck at home in Los Angeles well into the summer. How it could spill over for jobs, relationships, and schools nationwide.

Good morning. This is EARLY START. I'm Laura Jarrett.

ROMANS: Nice to see you this morning. I'm Christine Romans.