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New York Starts to Reopen But Extends Stay-at-Home Order; Extraordinary Call for Change; Small Businesses in Swing States Hit Hard By Coronavirus; Sen. Richard Burr Stepping Down As Intel Chairman. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired May 15, 2020 - 05:00   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Coronavirus cases are falling. States are partially reopening, but the roadmap to normalcy remains unclear. We'll tell you why.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: In an unprecedented political standoff, prestigious medical journal calling for new leadership at the White House.

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

ROMANS: Good morning. Good Friday morning, Laura. So nice to see you at the end of this week for us.

And I'm Christine Romans. It is Friday, May 15th. It is 5:00 a.m. in New York.

And this morning, the country is at a flash point in the coronavirus pandemic. Nearly every state has now reopened in some form, including in New York, the epicenter of the outbreak.

Overnight, Governor Andrew Cuomo actually extended stay at home orders for much of the state until June 13th, but as cases decline, rural areas in upstate New York will begin to reopen starting today, with states setting their own rules in the absence of national guidelines, what happens next is unpredictable.

Here is what a top official from the World Health Organization told CNN last night.


MARIA VAN KERKHOVE, TECHNICAL LEAD FOR COVID-19 RESPONSE, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: We have the tools to be able to suppress transmission, and I think that's important. I think many people think that this is -- in a sense it's out of control, but that's just not the case. That timeline of how the outbreak and the pandemic occurs in each country depends on what measures are put in place and how those are put in place.


JARRETT: In 28 states, the number of new cases reported each day is actually pointing down. That includes Illinois, even Cook County, which includes Chicago, has surpassed Queens in New York as the deadliest county in the United States. In 15 states, the numbers are holding steady. Ohio is among them. A restaurant there reopening today will put seats in the streets to help with social distancing.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Change by the hours and we're changing to adapt, and then rehire people, retrain people.


ROMANS: In seven states, new cases are still rising. That includes Texas which reported the highest single day -- number of deaths yesterday. Two weeks after retail outlets, restaurants and theaters were allowed to start reopening. Now, as states ease restrictions, it will take weeks to learn the effects. As of this morning, more than 1.4 million Americans have been infected. Nearly 86,000, 86,000 have died.

How high those numbers go depends on how people act with more freedom to be out and about.

Here's CNN's Erica Hill.


ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Laura, good morning.

By the end of this weekend, 48 states will be partially reopened, that includes five regions here in New York City with which have the green light for construction, curbside pickup. The mayor says there are some positive signs here in the epicenter.

We're learning about plans to come as well. New Jersey saying that beaches in the state will be open by Memorial Day, but asking beaches to figure out what their capacity is. Amusement parks, playgrounds, however, will remain closed.

Grand Canyon National Park reopening on Friday, today. Monday, Yellowstone will come back online, allowing for some visitors to come back in. Camp grounds will remain closed.

We're seeing Universal CityWalk in Orlando open. Some shops, restaurants there, although it will have limited menu, they try to practice social distancing, no valet parking either.

In Los Angeles, if you leave the house, the mayor says, bring a mask with you wherever you go. They need to be worn.

And as we're watching for developments over the weekend, we know that New Orleans will also be opening some restaurants in limited capacity with limited seating starting on Saturday.

All of this as we got the first guidance from the CDC, not this robust planning that we had heard about for the last couple of weeks being developed behind the scenes. Instead, six very basic one sheets with guidance that has largely already been put out there and in fact is somewhat less specific than what the CDC has on their website.

Still, some guidance being offered there, for businesses as they decide to reopen, including some advice for schools, day camps and day cares -- Christine and Laura.


JARRETT: That new CDC guidance is being criticized by the former acting director of the agency.

Here's what Dr. Richard Besser had to say on CNN last night.


RICHARD BESSER, FORMER ACTING DIRECTOR OF CDC: These guidelines are high level principles. You know, are you monitoring your employees? Are you ensuring that their safety measures are in place? Are you complying with the state and local health departments? That's not what people need.



JARRETT: Dr. Besser says what people really need from CDC right now is detailed specifics, like how many feet apart should tables be at restaurants? Why does it matter?

Well, for one thing, a new study reveals the virus can be spread just by talking with airborne particles lingering in the air for up to eight minutes.

ROMANS: In an extraordinary move, one of the world's most prestigious medical journals makes the case for new leadership in the United States, a medical journal. In a new editorial, "The Lancet" says Americans must put a president in the White House who understands public health should not be guided bipartisan politics.

"The Lancet" blasts President Trump for, quote, chipping away at the Centers for Disease Control, saying, quote, the CDC has seen its role minimized and becoming an ineffective and minimal advisor in the response to stopping the spread of the coronavirus.

New data from the Census Bureau shows just hard the coronavirus is hitting small businesses, especially in key swing states. Nearly half of businesses surveyed say they don't have enough cash to go more than a month. Small businesses in Michigan are taking a hit. Sixty-five percent say the virus had a large negative effect, with 80 percent reporting decreased revenues. The devastation is especially bad for mom and pop restaurants, coffee shops and bars. 83.5 percent say coronavirus is having a large, negative effect on them.

Open Table estimates one in four restaurants will go out of business because of these stay at home orders and customers are reluctant to eat out again. Four key battleground states, Florida, Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania are where small businesses say they have been hit the hardest. One break for small businesses, the Treasury Department says businesses that applied for and accepted less than $2 million for the paycheck protection program will presume they acted in good faith and they won't be subject to more scrutiny.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says that covers about 99 percent of the companies, about 78 percent of the money.

JARRETT: The country's largest teacher's union is responding to President Trump's call to reopen schools. The president of the National Education Association says outrage does not begin to describe what parents and educators are feeling. She adds, quote, it was a slap. It was ignorant at best. It was heartless at worse to ask parents to sacrifice their children so that they could get back to work.

Most students across the country are home for the rest of the academic year and distance learning is really taking a toll. Forty thousand students haven't checked in regularly online in Los Angeles. One Nevada school district was still trying to track down 100,000 students as of last month.

ROMANS: Yes, and some students, you know, they got -- they got laptops, or they got Chrome books, right, but they don't have the Wi- Fi -- excuse me, the Wi-Fi access. So, Laura, it's been a real struggle to try to get kids connected and it's been uneven.

JARRETT: Exactly.

ROMANS: All right. Richard Burr is stepping down as chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee today. The North Carolina senator is being investigated for stock sales he made in the early stages of the pandemic.

Now, investigators have asked Apple for data from Burr's iCloud backup, according to person familiar with the investigation. Apple is likely to fight that request.

Burr would not say whether he believed he is being targeted because some of his moves angered President Trump and his allies.


SEN. RICHARD BURR (R-NC): This is a distraction to the hard work of the committee and the members and I think the security of the country is too important to have a distraction.

(END VIDEO CLIP) JARRETT: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has not announced who will replace Burr. Burr is not the only senator with stock trouble right now. Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler of Georgia has turned over documents to federal investigators who are looking into her stock trades as well. And Democrat Dianne Feinstein has turned over documents relating to her husband's stock trades. She said he made those decisions independently.

ROMANS: All right. Just eight minutes past the hour.

Las Vegas resembled a ghost town in this pandemic world. What will casinos look like when they reopen? CNN has a firsthand look.



JARRETT: Developing overnight, Nevada's Gaming Control Board says casino restaurants can open with restrictions during phase one of the state's reopening plan. The Las Vegas Strip has resembled a ghost town during the coronavirus pandemic.

CNN's Kyung Lah got a first hand look at what gamblers can expect when the casinos reopen in a few weeks.


TONY RODIO, CEO, CAESARS ENTERTAINMENT: It's very eerie and said, and this place normally would have so much energy and so much excitement going on.

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is Caesars Palace in the dark because of the coronavirus.

(on camera): You can hear our voices echoing through the lobby.

RODIO: Yes, you don't hear that echo because it's muffled because of all the bodies and all the sound and activity.

LAH (voice-over): There is not a soul here, something the iconic casino has never experienced in its 54 year history says Tony Rodio, CEO of Caesars Entertainment.

(on camera): You're talking about every single day it was operational.

RODIO: Every single day, every single second. There weren't locks to lock the front door. It was really tough in the beginning and there was so much uncertainty and how long this was going to last. And we're starting to see some movement.

LAH (voice-over): As Nevada moves to reopen parts of its economy, Caesars is making changes across the casino floor.

RODIO: This is the typical configuration for blackjack style games. Normally, there are six seats. In the new world, there will only be three chairs and nobody will be able to be within six feet of any of the three customers that are playing.

LAH (on camera): This looks like it's a little less than six feet. I mean, are you -- is that the goal?

RODIO: I think that you're real -- if not at 6 feet, you're close to 6 feet. You're certainly not face to face.

LAH: This is a craps table.

RODIO: Correct. In the new world with social distancing, we're going to limit it to three on a side.

LAH: A bunch of people come because it's an exciting game, but what do you --

RODIO: Between the dealers, supervisors, security, we're going to limit it to three on each side and they have to be -- anybody else has to be 6 feet away.


We will be deactivating every other slot machine and removing the stool from the game.

A customer can't even stand here and play this game because the game is not even active. So, we will do that throughout the whole floor.

LAH (voice-over): In addition, a video released to Caesars workers the public will use electronic sprayer. They'll disinfect dice and elevator games. Workers will be required to wear masks and have their temperatures taken. But guests, while encouraged to wear masks, are not.

Casino workers have already raised concerns about returning to the Vegas Strip.

(on camera): For people who say, can I be 100 percent sure I won't get sick coming in here, is that something you can say to your customers?

RODIO: I don't know anybody in the country that could say that to anybody under any circumstance, and I'm a casino operator. So I don't pretend to know everything about an infectious disease, especially one as contagious as this. So, all I can do and ask of my team is to listen to the experts.

LAH: Are you ready for people to come in?

RODIO: Oh, my gosh, yes. I'm ready. Our staff's ready, our team's ready. Our customers are ready.

LAH: This is what it looks like outside Caesars Palace. People would normally be getting out of their taxis, getting out and walking up the stairs. All of this would be filled with limos and umbers, and there's nothing. What that's meant of employment, is that of their 60,000 worldwide staff says Caesar's entertainment, they've had to furlough 90 percent of workers. Kyung Lah, CNN, Las Vegas.


ROMANS: Just unreal. Kyung, thank you for that.

All right. This morning, another round of major cuts to the cruise industry. And airlines are asking you to wear a mask on board, but at least one carrier won't enforce it.

CNN reporters have it all covered.



Carnival Cruise is to lay off or furlough half of Florida employees, this in an effort to stay in business during the COVID-19 pandemic. The company has not announced the total number of employees impacted globally, but in Florida alone, 820 positions are being eliminated. And another 520 employees will be furloughed out of a workforce of about 3,000 employees in the state. Carnival Cruises announced mass cancellations with plans to resume service on August 1st using a phased in approach.

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Pete Muntean in Washington. Southwest Airlines is departing from other mask mandates that other major airlines have been instituting over the last few weeks. Southwest Airlines policy went into effect last Friday and I obtained a memo that it sent to its flight attendants, saying that passengers can still board even without a mask.

That's very different from policies from other airlines like American Airlines and JetBlue. That says if a passenger shows up without a mask and refuses to wear one, they will be denied boarding. Southwest Airlines policy says, quote: We will not deny boarding based solely on a customer's refusal to wear a face covering.

Now, Southwest Airlines sent a statement that says: employees are not expected to control passengers, only strongly encourage them to follow the policy. Airlines are instituting the policies in the void of a requirement from the federal government.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: I'm Alison Kosik in New York. Retail stores at North America's biggest shopping and entertainment complex, the Mall of America will reopen on June 1st. Over the next few weeks, tenants will rehire, train staff, and prepare their stores for cleaning, sanitation and safety measures.

The announcement comes after Minnesota's governor said he would let his state's stay at home order and expire and allow nonessential businesses to reopen beginning May 18th. Not all retailers in the massive complex will reopen June 1st and attractions including the aquarium and restaurants will wait for further guidance from the state.


JARRETT: Thanks so much to our reporters for all of those.

Homelessness could increase by 40 to 45 percent by the end of 2020. That dire prediction comes from an economics professor at Columbia University who analyzed data for a non-profit group to end homelessness. He said over 800,000 Americans will experience being homeless by summer if homelessness follows unemployment like it did earlier in the century, adding one more homeless person for every 16,000 people.

It's just stunning, Christine.

ROMANS: It really is.

All right. Amazon is getting slammed for its decision to end hazard pay for warehouse and delivery workers. The employees have received the $2 an hour pay increase since March. Amazon says it will go through May.

But top progressives in Congress say Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has consolidated his wealth during the pandemic at the expense of its employees. The company made more than $75 billion in the first quarter because of intense demand for deliveries during lockdowns.


JARRETT: Still ahead, it's the lingering question for parents out there. Is camp still happening? Hard decisions go well beyond fun and games.


JARRETT: For weeks now, kids have been cooped up at home with schools closed, and many parents have been banking on summer camp for a break. But with coronavirus still looming, most camps are trying to figure out how they should open this season or whether to do it at all. But losing the real camp experience will be another blow to kids who have already missed out on so much.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Outdoors and socializing is the medicine that everybody needs. We know how advantageous the camp experience is in every domain -- psychologically, physically, emotionally.

JARRETT (voice-over): Across the country, parents, children and camp directors all wondering if the summer right of passage will be lost to COVID-19.

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: I was supposed to go away to sleep away camp for the first time.

JARRETT: Without any federal guidance, camps are taking direction from state and local government officials. Camp industry groups are also crafting guidelines to help recommending camps stock up on supplies and ideally test every camper for COVID ahead of time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are not public health experts. We are experts in running Camp IHC.

JARRETT: Whether to open camp fluctuates from state to state.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're working on that, see if there is a way we can safely allow them to reopen in some capacity, some degree.

JARRETT: In states like Illinois, some camps opting not to open this season. Others like in Connecticut announcing day camps will open.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sometime in July, we'll have outdoor camps, they're outdoors, smaller groups.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You guys have a great night.

JARRETT: But sleep away camps aren't there yet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you have children being transported from a high impact area with children that aren't, there's risk there.

JARRETT: From California to Maine, plans are in flux leaving many families in limbo and working parents like Kelly Foster, a mom of two, bracing for disappointment.

KELLY FOSTER, MOM OF TWO: I've always counted on summer camps to help watch them so I know I can work during the summer, and I know they're getting different experiences and I'm able to work. So, not sure what we're going to do.

JARRETT: And families aren't the only ones worried. With an estimated 21 million kids going to camp each year, if camps don't open this summer, they could see a devastating loss in earnings.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our overnight camps do over $300 million in revenue. Our day camps do over $400, almost $500 million in revenue.

JARRETT: The challenge now for camp directors, how to open safely and keep, camp, well, like camp. Even if camps get the green light to open this summer, bunks, dining halls and activities will look different and no visitors allowed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Typically our campers would receive letters in the mail. We've already, you know, talked about that we won't be receiving letters this year.

JARRETT: Some directors like Loren Rikowski (ph) say they're not even sure they should open.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to be able to look my parents in the eye and say, no matter what the decision is that I make, whether it's to open or not to open, I want to be able to look them in the eye and say, I left no stone unturned to ensure the safety of your child. (END VIDEOTAPE)

JARRETT: You know, Christine, obviously camp is such a good time for kids, but it's also child care for so many parents.

ROMANS: Right.

JARRETT: So, if they choose not to reopen this summer for whatever reason, it's going to leave a lot of parents, again, trying to grapple with working from home, or even going in to work while at the same time with nothing for their kids to do.

ROMANS: It's so interesting, too, because it goes back to the testing. If you could test and you knew that your camp counselors were clear of the virus, the kids were in a safe place, wasn't outside influence for a few weeks or a week, then you would feel more comfortable. The testing isn't there. We don't have that comfort level at the moment.

JARRETT: No, that's right. And so many camp directors have told me they don't think they can get enough tests to do it to a good degree.

All right. EARLY START continues right now.


JARRETT: Coronavirus cases are falling. States are partially reopening. But the roadmap to normalcy remains unclear. We'll tell you why.

ROMANS: And an unprecedented medical stand, a prestigious medical journal calling for new leadership at the White House.

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

JARRETT: And I'm Laura Jarrett. About 28 minutes past the hour here in New York.

This morning, the country is at an inflection point in the coronavirus pandemic. Nearly every state has now reopened in some form, including in New York today. Overnight, Governor Andrew Cuomo actually extended stay at home orders for the epicenter and New York City and other areas until June 13th. But as cases decline, rural parts of New York will begin to reopen with states setting their own rules.

In the absence of national guidelines, what happens next is essentially unpredictable. Here is what a top expert had to say on CNN last night.


KERKHOVE: We have tools to be able to suppress transmission, and I think that's important. I think many people think that this is -- in a sense it's out of control, but that's just not the case. We have time line of how the outbreak and the pandemic occurs in each country depends on what measures are put in place and how those are put in place.


ROMANS: In 28 states, the number of new cases reported.