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U.S. Governors Balancing Risks As Economics Open; Dozens Of Surrogacy Babies Stranded By Lockdown In Ukraine; Pandemic Threatens Future Of Black Colleges And Universities In The U.S. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired May 18, 2020 - 05:30   ET




JAMES KOPP, DRIVE-IN OPERATOR: Back together, yes. The American drive-in theater rides again.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): They're still practicing social distancing, telling people to stay apart, they're limiting the number of people who come in. People have to make advanced reservations. But for a lot of people, this is a really good option for a night out after so many nights in.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Bethesda, Maryland.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: That could be a lot of fun. All right, thanks for that, Tom.

EARLY START continues right now.

Governors across the U.S. are walking a fine line this morning trying to reopen their economies without triggering a second spike of coronavirus.

Good morning, it's Monday. This is EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Laura Jarrett, 30 minutes past the hour here in New York.

This morning, a big test for governors and hundreds of millions of Americans across 48 states balance old risks with new ones as states begin to reopen or expand that process. The human toll reveals the risk here. Nearly 90,000 Americans have been killed by coronavirus; nearly 1 1/2 million infected.

ROMANS: You can see new deaths are on the decline and new cases are trending down or holding steady in 33 states. But isolation rules are being relaxed and health officials say big gatherings could reverse this progress.

Two important states to watch this week, Florida and Texas, both trending the wrong way.

JARRETT: The most populated counties in South Florida begin reopening today as the state expands to a full phase one reopening. Now, restaurants and retailers are allowed to operate at 50 percent capacity. Gyms are opening, too, with social distancing, of course. But not everyone is ready to go.


MAYOR DAN GELBER (D), MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA: I don't think anybody really has a playbook or a manual for this. There's not a whole lot of direction coming from Washington and there's an incredible amount of desire and frustration. So you've got to really try to make sure that you don't rush into this thing.


ROMANS: In Texas, one of the first states to reopen, new cases are spiking. The state recorded its highest single-day increase on Saturday -- over 1,800 new cases.


MAYOR STEVE ADLER (D), AUSTIN, TEXAS: Everyone's watching this to see what this grand experiment is going to result in. But we know for an absolute certainty that as you increase physical interactions between people you are going to increase the number of new cases. It just happens.


JARRETT: Texas health officials say the majority of new cases Saturday originated from meat plants in Potter and Randall counties as a result of targeted testing there.

But the uptick remains consistent no matter how much testing is done. The percentage of positive tests in Texas over the last few weeks are flat as the national average goes down. And now, more people will be moving around out and about as restrictions are loosened.

ROMANS: So, Ford is reopening its plants across the country today after being closed for nearly two months. That includes nearly 12,000 employees whose jobs can't be done from home.

Over the weekend, Ford said it will provide Covid-19 testing in four metro areas for hourly and salaried employees who are experiencing coronavirus symptoms. Of course, testing, many executives say, is key for safely reopening the economy.

The automaker said it signed contracts with health systems in Michigan, Kentucky, Kansas City, and Chicago.

On Friday, Ford CEO Jim Hackett said Ford has not laid off or furloughed any of its employees during the crisis.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JIM HACKETT, CEO, FORD: I'm trying to keep everyone here. It doesn't make any sense to put them on the social systems and put them out of work -- and it's going to cost us all money. But if we get the economy turned back on we think we can follow through now and make this work.


ROMANS: Ford is also looking at the possibility of voluntary antibody testing in the future.

President Trump will visit the Ford facility in Michigan on Thursday.

JARRETT: Still ahead, some parents have waited years to have a child with the help of a surrogate. Because of the pandemic, some babies are stuck waiting for parents anxious to bring them home. CNN reports, next.



JARRETT: Newborn babies are among the most vulnerable in a global lockdown like we're going through right now. Many being born by surrogate have parents overseas waiting desperately to hold them. The restrictions are causing a painful delay.

CNN's Matthew Chance reports for us.


JOEL LEINEKE, FATHER: So this is my daughter, Ember Rain Leineke (ph). She's a little tired at the moment.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Amid this lockdown a family united. One American dad getting into Ukraine just to hold his newborn daughter. She is a very lucky girl.

LEINEKE: Thank you, thank you. I'm a lucky father.

CHANCE (on camera): When you saw her for the first time, what was going through your mind? What were your feelings?

LEINEKE: At the same time I was elated to her, I was also just -- my heart was broken that I was the only one there -- by myself -- and that my wife wasn't able to be in the delivery room. And it was just -- so it was both. It was really mixed.

CHANCE (voice-over): Mixed, but relief because dozens just like Ember Rain born amid the pandemic in Ukraine to surrogate mothers remain stranded -- marooned in a screaming lockdown.


CNN gained access to just one facility in Kiev where tight coronavirus restrictions mean more than 50 babies here can't be collected by their legal parents, mostly locked down themselves in Europe and the United States.

ALBERT TOCHILOVSKY, OWNER, BIOTEXCOM: (Speaking foreign language).

CHANCE (voice-over): Some parents have waited 15 years for this dream to come true, the owner tells CNN. One couple are both 55 years old. Another has tried 36 times for a baby, he says. They can't wait any longer.

Ukrainian officials say they're trying to speed up access to foreign parents but the pandemic means the country's borders are sealed and special permits are a bureaucratic nightmare.

For Ember Rain's mom, Michelle, watching all this remotely with her two other kids in California, even the thought of being unable to reach a child in another country is agonizing.

CHANCE (on camera): What must their parents be going through now? Parents who can't get to their children.

MICHELLE LEINEKE, MOTHER: I can't even imagine. I can't imagine not being able to be there.

We had the same thought before we were able to get there. And so, for me, it was mind-numbing to know that somebody that we don't even know would be taking care of our daughter.

Luckily, we were able to find a way. But other people, because their countries aren't allowing them to travel into another country, are not being allowed in. So we found a way and we were lucky, but others aren't so lucky and I'm sure they're just devastated.

CHANCE (voice-over): At the moment, Ukrainian officials say around 100 babies born to surrogates are stuck in clinics like this one around the country. But pregnancies are in progress and they say numbers could soon rise to 1,000 if borders stay closed.

The longer the lockdown, the more Ember Rain is with nowhere to go.


CHANCE: Well, these imagines in Ukraine have provoked calls in the country for the practice of commercial surrogacy to be curbed. But Ukraine officials say for the moment, their emphasis is on trying to unite these babies already born with their rightful parents, Laura.

JARRETT: You can just see the joy on that father's face once he finally received his daughter. Matthew, thank you so much. Such a great story there.

We'll be right back.



ROMANS: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is backtracking from his claim that the coronavirus may have originated in a lab in Wuhan, China. Pompeo and President Trump have pushed this conspiracy theory but now, the Secretary of State tells Brietbart, quote, "We don't know where it came from."

Pompeo originally claimed there is, quote, "enormous evidence" that the virus did originate in a lab. Scientists and U.S. intelligence- sharing allies have claimed that notion unlikely.

JARRETT: Experts are growing increasingly concerned about a drop in reports of child abuse during this pandemic. A decrease would normally be good news but with schools closed and kids at home, experts are fearing that a decline in cases to child abuse hotlines might really be a signal that more cases are going unnoticed or unreported.

Typically, teachers, coaches, and other adults can't always see red flags over Zoom or other remote connections and at-risk children are less able to signal distress if their abusers are monitoring their calls.




ROMANS: NASCAR racing returned Sunday after more than two months off. The comeback race at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina, dubbed the Real Heroes 400, was held without fans.

The event was dedicated to health care workers. The names of those currently battling the pandemic replaced the drivers' names above their window. Some even served as grand marshals for the race and appeared in a montage to give drivers the command to start their engines.

JARRETT: That's nice to see.

Well, former President Barack Obama addressing graduates of historically black colleges and universities in an online commencement over the weekend. Mr. Obama delivered a pointed message about a lack of leadership during this pandemic.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: More than anything, this pandemic has fully finally torn back the curtain on the idea that so many of the folks in charge know what they're doing. A lot of them aren't even pretending to be in charge. If the world's going to get better it's going to be up to you.


JARRETT: President Trump responded with a slam of the Obama administration.

As for colleges and universities nationwide, they've had to close campuses and move classes online. But the impact of the pandemic on historically black schools in the U.S. could be more harmful and long- lasting, putting their future at risk.


QUINTON ROSS JR., PRESIDENT, ALABAMA STATE UNIVERSITY: What happened during this pandemic and the escalation, it really exposed inequities that have already and always been known.

JARRETT (voice-over): For decades, historically black colleges and universities have been a beacon of opportunity for minorities --

ROSS: We have been a shelter in our shelter for many of the students who are first-generation students.

JARRETT: (voice-over): -- but college presidents say Covid-19 has put HBCU's financial footing in jeopardy in ways unlike other schools in higher ed.

MAKOLA ABDULLAH, PRESIDENT, VIRGINIA STATE UNIVERSITY: We're all in the same storm but we're not all in the same boat.


JARRETT (voice-over): With classes moving online and schools issuing substantial refunds for room and board, HBCU's say they've had to adjust dramatically and it hasn't been cheap.

ROSS: Basically, when we had to rush to try to provide and undergird our sales with technology -- in the realm of technology, many of the infrastructures are not up to par.


JARRETT: But without deep endowments and large cash reserves, tuition fuels operations at HBCUs.

ABDULLAH: We are largely dependent on the level of financial aid help that our students can get from their Pell grant, from the state, and from philanthropy.

JARRETT (voice-over): And many of the lower-income families they serve are now grappling with their own financial hardships in a down economy.

FREDERICK: We have $12 million of uncollected tuition.

JARRETT (voice-over): Last month, the Department of Education directed nearly $1.4 billion in additional funding to minority-serving institutions -- that, on top of nearly a billion already earmarked under the Cares Act. But some HBCUs have warned lawmakers the situation is dire and more is needed.

ABDULLAH: We are very concerned that without the adequate federal and state support that many institutions that serve the underserved might not be around afterwards.

JARRETT (voice-over): Presidents like Dr. Wayne Frederick of Howard University remain optimistic. He's seen a notable uptick in enrollment numbers for the coming fall. Still, the big unknown is what happens if students can't return to campus culture.

FREDERICK: One of the reasons you come to Howard is because 20 percent of what you're going to get is an excellent education in the classroom. But, 80 percent of the time you spend is going to be outside, interacting with people -- interacting with the culture, the experience. And so taking that away is problematic.


JARRETT: Christine, Dr. Frederick, at Howard, told me that competing for large gifts is hard even when the economy is good. But now that we are seeing this down economy he worries that it's going to be even harder to get that funding that they so desperately need.

ROMANS: Yes, that's a really important look at that part of the higher education story. This is something that's going to -- it's not going to be solved overnight, either. That's the real hard part.

All right, Laura, thanks for that.

Let's get a quick check on CNN Business this Monday morning. Taking a look at markets around the world this morning, starting a new week on the positive side. Look at that, European markets are all sharply higher here. In futures here in the United States right now, also leaning a bit higher here.

In Japan, first-quarter GDP data shows the world's third-largest economy slipped into a recession for the first time since 2015. It was already struggling before the outbreak. Economists predict the pandemic will likely make things even worse.

On Wall Street, checking those futures right now. As I said earlier this morning, they were up a little bit. Stocks closed higher Friday despite a record drop in retail sales in April.

The Dow closed up 60 points. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq also finished higher. All three averages recorded a loss, though, for the week.

Retail will look a lot different after the pandemic. JCPenney filed for bankruptcy Friday, the third iconic retailer to file just this month. J. Crew filed on May fourth, followed by Neiman Marcus days later.

JCPenney said it has an agreement with most of its lenders that will allow it to stay in business, but that plan includes closing some of its 846 stores. The number of stores has not been announced quite yet.

All right, the real estate market has been put on ice because of the coronavirus. New leases for apartments in Manhattan plunged by 71 percent in April, the lowest in a decade. The vacancy rate soared to its highest level in 14 years. The sharp decline shows residents are leaving the city in the wake of the virus. The report notes landlords are working to keep tenants when they renew their leases.

Apple has released guidelines for its retail stores as it plans to reopen. Customers will be required to submit to a temperature check and wear a mask before entering the store. Apple said it will give masks to customers who don't come with one. It will also limit how many customers will be allowed in each store at a single time.

Apple plans to reopen 25 stores in the U.S. this week but said it could close them again if lockdown orders in certain areas have to be reinstated.

JARRETT: Well, because of rules restricting visitors at health care facilities, John Lynch had to say a final goodbye to his father on Facetime. His father's death inspired him to help other isolated, elderly patients connect with their loved ones.

Through his foundation, Lunch with Lynch, he's collected dozens of donated iPads to distribute at health care facilities in his home state of New Jersey and across the country where patients are unable to see their families in person. Just trying to do his part there.

ROMANS: Such an important, important part of that story. Thanks for that.

All right, thanks for joining us this Monday morning. I'm Christine Romans.

JARRETT: And I'm Laura Jarrett. "NEW DAY" is next.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Texas reported its highest single-day jump in new coronavirus cases yet on Saturday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There should not be one-size-fits-all approaches to reopening, but reopen we must.

PETER NAVARRO, WHITE HOUSE TRADE ADVISER: The CDC really let the country down with the testing. They had a bad test and that did set us back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you hear Navarro talk, it's very discouraging because you can tell that there's an agenda.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I just want to make something clear. Vaccine or no vaccine, we're back.

OBAMA: Doing what's convenient, what's easy, that's how little kids think. Unfortunately, a lot of so-called grownups, including some with fancy titles, still think that way.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Monday, May 18th, 6:00 here in New York.

This morning, 48 of the 50 states are reopening in some form and we saw Americans across the country taking advantage of the relaxed guidelines over the weekend. At the same time, we also see some places experiencing spikes in cases.

On Saturday, Texas reported its largest single-day increase in coronavirus cases. That is thought to be connected to an outbreak in meatpacking plants.