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Crowding Together On Memorial Day, Despite Pandemic; Netanyahu Corruption Trial Underway In Jerusalem; Remembering America's Heroes In The Era Of Coronavirus. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired May 25, 2020 - 05:30   ET



BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Policies designed to put the country's strategic armed forces on a high-alert operation. His announcement comes nearly two years after a historic summit with President Trump that seemed to offer hope of progress between the two nations.

Don't go anywhere. EARLY START continues right now.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: A deadly pandemic doesn't stop big crowds for the holiday weekend even as officials warn of spikes in some states.

Good morning, welcome back to EARLY START. This is -- this is EARLY START. I'm Laura Jarrett.

SANCHEZ: And I'm Boris Sanchez in for Christine Romans. Even though socially distant, Laura, it is still a pleasure to be with you.

JARRETT: Always good to see you.

SANCHEZ: Great to see you.

We are about 30 minutes into Memorial Day and we're facing a sad reality this weekend. Even as we honor the lives of brave service members, there are still so many people at risk across the country today where we face a very different kind of battle on the home front. A holiday that marks the start of summer stirring big crowds coast-to- coast -- some social distancing, some not.

Pictures like this setting off warnings that people are ignoring distancing rules and risk reigniting the pandemic that has killed nearly 100,000 Americans, and within the next 48 hours we're almost certain to pass that gruesome milestone.

In Myrtle Beach, restaurants had to turn customers away to manage the crowds. Some beachgoers, though, say it felt like any other holiday weekend.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You wouldn't know a pandemic was going on by looking at the beach today. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, there is some people wearing masks, but I'm not wearing one. So, I should have a mask but I'm not -- I don't have a mask on right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But, like, since I've been here --honestly, no. I mean, I've -- you're the first mask, honestly, I've seen, if I'm being honest. Everybody here is kind of just letting it fly.


JARRETT: Letting it fly.

Well, all those people apparently ignoring warnings that an estimated 40 percent of coronavirus transmissions occur before any symptoms show up.

Concerning scenes playing out in the Ozarks in Missouri at a pool party. You see there everyone packed in. And in Daytona Beach, Florida, 5,000 to 10,000 people mobbed the scene where a man apparently making a rap video threw money from a car into the crowd.

SANCHEZ: My home state of Florida never seeming to disappoint.

There are growing concerns about a spike in coronavirus cases now that restrictions are being eased. The FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn tweeting, quote, "With the country starting to open up this holiday weekend, I again remind everyone that the coronavirus is not yet contained."

His boss, though, does not seem to see it that way.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's one person coming in from China and we have it under control.

When you have 15 people and the 15 -- within a couple of days, is going to be down to close to zero.

No, I'm not concerned at all. No, I'm not. No, we've done a good job.


JARRETT: Concern is especially high in the south. Houston's mayor is reversing course now, insisting that the fire marshal will enforce a 25 percent capacity rule in clubs, bars, and restaurants after seeing images of large crowds over the holiday weekend.

Meanwhile, in Alabama where coronavirus cases are surging, families packed the beaches there.

And in Arkansas, Gov. Asa Hutchinson confirmed a new cluster of cases stemming from a high school swim party. Arkansas is one of the few states that never had a stay-at-home order. There has been a new spike of cases there after the initial surge a month ago.

SANCHEZ: Democratic governors are facing a growing threat and increased pressure for crossing President Trump.

In Kentucky, protesters hung this effigy of Gov. Andy Beshear on a tree outside the governor's mansion. The demonstration was advertised as a rally to exercise Second Amendment rights -- yes.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is from Kentucky, one of several Republicans who condemned these tactics and called it unacceptable.

And we also heard a frank admission from Michigan's Democratic governor this weekend, Gretchen Whitmer. She says she's been playing nice with the president to avoid losing critical funding.


ALEXI MCCAMMOND, POLITICAL REPORTER, AXIOS: Do you feel like when you're talking about the president publicly you have to censor yourself for the sake of continuing to receive federal assistance?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes? And you've always felt that way?

WHITMER: Listen, the worst night's sleep that I've gotten in the last 10 weeks is when he has attacked me on Twitter.


SANCHEZ: Whitmer has faced criticism from the president and his allies as she slowly reopens the state, which has the eighth-most coronavirus cases nationwide.

JARRETT: New Jersey's governor warning that key public employees, including many frontline workers, could be laid off if the state does not get additional federal support, and soon.


GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D), NEW JERSEY: We announced a budget on Friday for the next four months and we had to cut or defer over $5 billion of expenditures. And this includes potentially, laying off educators, firefighters, police, EMS, health care workers.

This is not abstract, this is real. It's not a blue state issue, it's an American issue.



JARRETT: The governor says New Jersey's revenue has plunged $10 billion during this pandemic. He noted that not only do state employees provide essential services but laying them off would spike New Jersey's unemployment rate.

SANCHEZ: The latest Republican effort to undermine voting by mail focuses on a state that could swing the election. We have details on the GOP's battle against mail-in balloting in California.



SANCHEZ: For the first time in history, a sitting Israeli prime minister is appearing in court as a criminal defendant. Benjamin Netanyahu is denouncing the charges against him as his corruption trial gets underway.

CNN's Oren Liebermann is covering the trial and he joins us live from Jerusalem. Oren, Netanyahu claims that a sort of deep state of lawmakers, rogue law enforcement officers, and the media are all plotting against him.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And he said they were plotting against him in an attempted coup against a right-wing prime minister. His allies have said it's not just the prime minister on trial but the entire right wing.

In a speech right before this first day of trial, Netanyahu attacked the investigation process, the court system, and, in fact, most who stood against him. Here is part of what he said. "Elements in the police and the prosecution have aligned with the left-wing press in order to stitch up hallucinatory and false cases against me with the aim of toppling a strong prime minister from the right."

Netanyahu has been fighting this day for years, ever since the investigations against him were made public. It has since gotten to this point, the opening of his trial on charges of bribery and fraud and breach of trust. As I think is obvious from that statement, Netanyahu has proclaimed his innocence all along.

In terms of the actual opening day itself, frankly, not much happened there. It's largely a technical or procedural hearing. The only thing Netanyahu said was that he understood the charges against him. The rest was prosecution versus defense attorneys arguing about the scheduling, hearings, what evidence is confidential and not confidential.

The next day of his trial is scheduled for late June and Netanyahu isn't required or expected to be there. The trial itself -- when we begin to hear from witnesses and we see evidence -- that's not expected to start for months. And with the prosecution planning on calling 333 witnesses, this is a trial that could last for years.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition partners, who were his former rivals who swore never to sit under an indicted prime minister, they were largely quiet. His chief partner in this coalition agreement -- this national unity government -- said Netanyahu has the presumption of innocence until proven guilty and he trusts that the court system will deliver a fair trial -- Boris.

SANCHEZ: Yes, a controversial leader making claims of a deep state. I'm not sure where we've heard that before.

Oren, great to see you. Thank you.

JARRETT: The judge in the Michael Flynn case will get a high-profile assist. The judge is bringing in his own prominent Washington lawyer to defend his move not to drop the case against the former national security adviser.

The Justice Department wanted all charges dropped even though Flynn had originally pled guilty to lying to the FBI, but Judge Emmet Sullivan resisted wanting to weigh whether Flynn lied to the court first. Flynn's lawyers went to the D.C. Appeals Court. The Republican- dominated panel has ordered Sullivan to defend his authority in the case by June first.

SANCHEZ: Republicans trying to sow doubt about mail-in voting are now going after California and its 55 Democratic-leaning electoral votes. The RNC and other GOP groups are suing the governor who ordered that absentee ballots be mailed to all voters. Last week, you might recall President Trump went after leadership in key swing states in Michigan and Nevada over the issue.

Voting by mail is expected to be used widely in the fall to ensure safety during the pandemic. And despite the president's protest, there is no proof of widespread fraud in mail-in voting.

Stay with us. We'll be right back.



JARRETT: Welcome back.

A world changed by coronavirus has opened the door to a new and old business model. CNN's Athena Jones has more on the return of the milkman.


DOUG WADE, OWNER, WADE'S DAIRY, BRIDGEPORT, CONNECTICUT: These are fresh pints of half and half.

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For Doug Wade, owner of Wade's Dairy in Bridgeport, Connecticut, March was a scary time with schools shutting down and stay-at-home restrictions forcing many other clients to close their doors.

WADE: And we lost 50 percent of our business, literally, overnight.

JONES (voice-over): So he switched gears, supplying grocery stores facing shortages. And as schools ramped-up programs to feed needy students stuck at home, his company regained some of the lost business.

Then --

WADE: The phone starting ringing for people looking for home delivery service. Do you do this? No, we don't. We did it in the past -- all right. But after you get enough of these calls you start saying geez, I wonder if this could be a viable way to sell milk again?

JONES (voice-over): The delivery service he launched has been a hit with customers like Christine Ostrowski in nearby Fairfield.

CHRISTINE OSTROWSKI, WADE'S DAIRY HOME DELIVERY CUSTOMER: It's really been a big, big boon for us because we were struggling with grocery deliveries. It's just really eased a lot of anxiety and stress.

JONES (voice-over): Wade's now delivers to 260 customers in some 30 towns across the state and recently bought another truck.

WADE: A hand grenade bottle -- that was a half-pint bottle.

JONES (voice-over): Being a milkman is in Wade's blood.

WADE: I was seven or eight years old. The clink-clink noise of glass milk bottles banging up against the metal dividers in the wooden cases is just something I'll never forget.

JONES (voice-over): His great grandfather began making deliveries in a horse and buggy in 1893.

WADE: People would time their meals around when the milkman was coming.

JONES (voice-over): After a century, Wade's halted deliveries in 1992 as clients' habits changed.

COVID-19 is shaking things up all over again and not just for Wade's. While national numbers are scarce, producers and distributors across the country are reporting a surge in demand for home delivery.

Doorstep delivery in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania serves more than 300 families a week. Another 300 or so are on a waiting list. And they're hiring more staff to try to keep up with demand.

DARYL MAST, OWNER, DOORSTEP DAIRY, LANCASTER COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA: We probably tripled out home delivery customers in about a three- or four-week time until we kind of maxed out our capacity.


JONES (voice-over): Shatto Home Delivery outside Kansas City, Missouri also has a waiting list. They've seen demand rise some 230 percent since late-March to more than 4,000 customers, and have doubled their staff.

MATT SHATTO, SHATTO HOME DELIVERY, MISSOURI: We purchased four new delivery trucks and created countless new routes -- probably about 14 new routes throughout the metro over that period of time.

JONES (voice-over): Each company provides no-contact delivery to promote social distancing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would you like to have home delivery for tomorrow?

JONES (voice-over): And it isn't just milk. Like the others we spoke to, Wade's sells a variety of dairy and non-dairy products including yogurt, cheese, eggs, fresh bread, orange juice, and meats.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The bacon would not be available until the end of May.

JONES (voice-over): The companies are hopeful that strong demand will continue even after the pandemic. Suddenly in this business, everything old is new again.

Athena Jones, CNN, Bridgeport, Connecticut.


SANCHEZ: All right -- thanks so much, Athena.

This year's Indy 500 was canceled due to the pandemic, but Indianapolis Motor Speedway was anything but quiet this weekend. It was the site of a mega-food drive. Thousands of families showed up and each left with as much as 40 pounds of food.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even though nationally, the Feed America research says that we're seeing about a 48 percent increase in hunger -- in Indiana, unfortunately, it's about double that. We've been running about 100 percent higher.


SANCHEZ: Now, the food drive also got help from some Indy car drivers who helped support the event.

JARRETT: That's so nice to see there.

Well, markets on Wall Street are closed today for Memorial Day. The iconic trading floor is scheduled to reopen to some brokers tomorrow.

Stocks headed into the holiday weekend with a mixed finished. The Dow fells nine points Friday. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq posted some small gains. All three averages rallied more than three percent for the week, making it the best week for the Dow since April.

Well, Hertz has officially filed for bankruptcy, the latest big company to fall victim to the coronavirus recession after J. Crew, Neiman Marcus, and JCPenney. The rental car industry has been devastated by the huge decline in travel.

Experts expect Hertz to sell off most of its fleet and that could mean deals for shoppers looking for a car. Rental car companies routinely sell off cars at much lower prices than others used for car dealers. All the major car rental companies typically list the cars for sale on their Website and depending on where you live, Hertz will even bring the car to you for a test drive. SANCHEZ: Even at a time of great uncertainty, there are still efforts underway this Memorial Day weekend to honor those Americans who lost their lives serving their country, though this will be a very different Memorial Day than in years past.


SANCHEZ: (voice-over): With officials weary of having large crowds at memorials because of coronavirus, many ceremonies, including wreath layings, are going online.

The annual observance at the Arlington National Cemetery will be livestreamed and closed to the public, though on Thursday, about 1,000 Old Guard soldiers were allowed to continue the annual tradition of placing small American flags near each headstone -- more than 240,000 in all.

The cemetery only allowing family members visiting their loved ones' gravesites this weekend and everyone will be required to wear face masks.

Hoping to avoid big gatherings at monuments across the nation's capital, the National Park Service also planning to broadcast wreath- layings online.

MICHAEL LITTERST, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE: It wasn't a question of are we going to do something or aren't we going to do something, it was a matter of how can we still honor these fallen men and women while, at the same time, protecting our visitors and folks who might want to come out.

SANCHEZ: (voice-over): Meantime, the National Memorial Day Concert will not have an audience on hand this year, it will just be a virtual one.

Though Americans may not be paying their respects in person, this Memorial Day weekend will not go by without Americans in various ways honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifice.


SANCHEZ: And, Laura, it's so important to honor and celebrate the sacrifices that have been made for our freedoms but we owe it to those heroes to balance personal freedom with being considerate of our neighbors and endangering other people.

JARRETT: Absolutely. You see some shots there of Arlington National Cemetery -- a peaceful morning there.

You know, everyone, I think, wants to do their part to try to honor our heroes, as you said Boris, but just try to do it safely. And whether it's online or in-person, just try to have a little connection.

SANCHEZ: Absolutely.

Laura, always a pleasure to be with you. Thank you so much for joining us on Memorial Day. I'm Boris Sanchez.

JARRETT: Thanks, Boris. I'm Laura Jarrett. "NEW DAY" is next.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The first summer holiday since the start of the COVID outbreak and Americans are flocking to beaches from coast-to- coast.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You wouldn't know a pandemic was going on by looking at the beach today.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The people are being real respectful. They really are -- even on the beach.

DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE SPOKESPERSON: You don't know who is infected. If you can't social distance and you're outside, you must wear a mask.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is impossible to enforce that. It's a matter of public choice and we don't have enough arrest powers or facilities to harbor that many people who are not following the guidelines.

GOV. MIKE DEWINE (R), OHIO: This is not about politics. This is one time when we truly are all in this together.


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.