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EARLY START

As U.S. Moves to Reopen, Troubling Signs on Horizon; MD Biotech Firm Novavax Announces New Vaccine Trial; 257 Employees at Tyson Poultry Plant in Virginia Test Positive; Cuomo Sets Up Fund for Health Care Workers and First Responders; California Establishes Guidelines for Reopening Churches; Trump Demands Packed Arena for GOP Convention in August; Brazil Reports More than 11,000 New Cases in 24 Hours; Top Aide to Boris Johnson Refuses to Step Down; Hong Kong Leader: New Laws Won't Trample on Freedoms. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired May 26, 2020 - 05:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[05:00:30]

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: New coronavirus concerns as some Americans ditch the mask and social distancing over the holiday weekend.

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

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I'm Christine Romans. It is Tuesday, May 26th. It is 5 a.m. here in New York.

And with the U.S. cautiously reopening this morning, there's this hope and there's plenty of enthusiasm but there's also trouble. You see it in these numbers, 17 states with increasing COVID-19 caseloads, five of them with spikes of 50 percent or more. Thirteen states holding steady, 20 states decreasing.

JARRETT: You also see it in scenes like these. Plenty of Americans undeterred by coronavirus going to the beach and gathering on boardwalks over Memorial Day weekend, but not a lot of social distancing or mask wearing in some places.

Meantime, the World Health Organization warning not just of a second wave but of a second peak that could come soon.

More now from CNN's Kyung Lah in Los Angeles.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Laura, a busy Memorial Day here in California. I'm in Manhattan Beach and it is busy at beaches across the country as Americans are trying to get back out and back out to the beach to celebrate the first start of the summer.

A lot of concern about now of what the impact of all of this will be. You can see people are somewhat socially distancing here in Manhattan Beach, but there are a lot of people here. And this is what it looks like in some of the commercial streets around this area.

But it's not just here in California. There are busy beaches that we have seen in the state of Alabama and look at this crowd in Daytona Beach, Florida. As well as a giant pool party in Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri.

The World Health Organization warned that this pandemic is far from over.

DR. MIKE RYAN, WHO HEALTH EMERGENCIES PROGRAMME: We need to be also cognizant of the fact that the disease can jump up at any time. We cannot make assumptions that just because the disease is on the way down now, that it's on -- it's going to keep going down and we're going to get a number of months to get ready for a second wave. We may get a second peak in this wave.

LAH: The state of California also announced steps forward in the way Californians shop and worship. In person shopping will now be allowed but with heavy restrictions. And as far as worshiping indoors, that will be allowed to happen but only at 25 percent occupancy -- Christine, Laura.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: Kyung Lah, those numbers startling especially when you see the numbers on the side of the street.

President Trump shutting off travel to Brazil two days sooner than originally announced. The White House moving up the travel suspension to begin tonight. That's 48 hours earlier than it announced on Sunday.

CNN has asked the White House why the change? No response.

As of last night, Brazil has 375,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases. That is now the second highest number in the world. It has reported more than 23,000 deaths.

JARRETT: Well, the Trump administration's latest COVID-19 testing plan again puts the lion's share of the burden on the state. The White House promises to buy 100 million swabs and vials by the end of the year. But the plan says coronavirus tests, contact tracing and surveillance are mainly up to the states. This is all outlined in a plan to Congress and top Democrats immediately rejected the White House strategy. They say it forces states to compete with each other on the private market for vital testing supplies.

ROMANS: A new coronavirus vaccine now entering human trials. The Maryland-based biotech company Novavax announces plans to enroll about 130 people in the first stage of testing for its anti-COVID vaccine. The company says it will begin producing the vaccine with money from a public/private partnership, in order to be ready in case it works.

Senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Laura, Christine, this is now the tenth team that's in human clinical trials trying out their experimental COVID vaccines.

So, let's take a look at these numbers worldwide. So, 10 worldwide. Four of them are in the U.S. Novavax is the fourth. That's the recent addition. And then there's five in China. And there's one in the United Kingdom.

In addition, there are 114 teams worldwide. They're in what's called preclinical stages. In other words, they're in the lab, or they're working with animals.

[05:05:01]

But they have not yet started human clinical trials.

So, what human clinical trials mean is that you try it out first on a small number to make sure that it's safe and to make sure you're getting the immune response that you're looking for, and then you move up to larger numbers. Eventually, you test out the vaccine in thousands or tens of thousands of people. You try it out against people who are not getting vaccinated.

Is there a difference? Are vaccinated people getting COVID less often?

So, Novavax is the fourth in the United States. They are not quite as far ahead as some of the other ones but it's really a matter of time to see who finishes first and more importantly who has a safe and effective vaccine -- Laura, Christine.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: All right. Elizabeth, thanks for that.

The World Health Organization has temporarily stopped a study of a drug the president has championed as a treatment for coronavirus. WHO officials say they halted the drug trial after a top medical journal reported seriously ill COVID-19 patients treated with hydroxychloroquine were more likely to die. The agency's director says safety data collected so far will be reviewed before there's any move to restart that study.

JARRETT: Well, 20 percent of employees and contractors at the Tyson Foods poultry plant in Temperanceville, Virginia, have tested positive for coronavirus. We have reporters covering the latest on the pandemic across the country.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Diane Gallagher in Atlanta.

Two hundred and fifty-seven employees at the Tyson Foods poultry plant in Virginia have tested positive for COVID-19. That's just about 20 percent of the roughly 1,280 employees and contractors who were tested for the virus according to Tyson. Now most of those people who tested positive did so during a testing event on site the first week of May. Tyson says that it is continuing to screen its employees before they come to work for symptoms as well as implement social distancing measures like barriers in the break room and work areas.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Jason Carroll in New York.

The governor making a major announcement about benefits for first responders, death benefits for families of first responders will now be provided by state and local governments that will help the families of police, firemen, and paramedics who died as a result of the COVID- 19. The governor called them front line heroes and he said they deserve more than thanks. He also challenged the federal government to do the same.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Dan Simon in San Francisco.

Under pressure from a petition of more than 1,200 pastors as well as President Trump, California Governor Gavin Newsom says churches and other places of worship are free to reopen.

There are a couple of key provisions. First, Newsom says individual counties can make the final call. Second, attendance must be at 25 percent of a building's capacity or 100 people, whichever is less. It's also recommended that both staff and guests wear face coverings and that staff be screened for temperature and symptoms at the beginning of their shifts.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: All right. Reopening optimism in markets around the world. Asian stocks closed higher. European shares have opened higher.

In Asia, that's a rebound after the Hang Seng had its worst day in five years after Beijing moved to pass a controversial national security law. China's foreign ministry commissioner reassured investors saying the legislation won't affect freedom of speech, press, publication and assembly.

Investors are also going to be upbeat about lockdowns coming to an end. A state of emergency has been lifted in Japan and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is eyeing a fresh stimulus package.

Wall Street futures are higher after a long holiday weekend, a weekend where Americans crowded on beaches. They lifted restrictions on public places and businesses.

The New York Stock Exchange is set to reopen its iconic trading floor today, but it's going to look a lot different. Only a quarter of traders will head back to the floor. They must wear masks. They have to avoid taking public transportation and there will be strict social distancing rules.

Even as investors look ahead, right now is devastating for the travel industry. Car rental company Hertz officially filed for bankruptcy. Experts say they expected to sell off most of its fleet.

JARRETT: Well, President Trump is now threatening to pull this summer's GOP convention out of North Carolina. We have the story for you, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:13:36]

JARRETT: With the coronavirus death toll in the United States nearing 100,000, President Trump spent most of the Memorial Day weekend playing golf and venting on Twitter. And now, he's threatening to move the Republican convention out of North Carolina this summer.

CNN's Jeremy Diamond has more on this.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine and Laura.

President Trump on Memorial Day continuing to attack his political opponents on Twitter, attacking the former Vice President Joe Biden and threatening to pull the Republican national convention from Charlotte, North Carolina. But the president between those tweets, he also did take the time to honor those who have fallen in service of this country, visiting the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and giving remarks at Fort McHenry in Baltimore.

But the president as this death toll from coronavirus in the United States surpasses the number of Americans who have died in both the Korean and the Vietnam Wars, he didn't just honor those who fell on the battlefield.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As one nation, we mourn alongside every single family that has lost loved ones, including the families of our great veterans. Together, we will vanquish the virus, and America will rise from this crisis to new and even greater heights.

DIAMOND: Now, before the president delivered those remarks, he awoke on Memorial Day with a message for the Democratic governor of North Carolina, where the Republican National Convention is set to be held in August.

[05:15:01]

So, the president demanding that Governor Roy Cooper give him a guarantee that the RNC convention can not only happen but that it can happen with a packed arena in August. The president tweeting that Republicans, quote, must be immediately given an answer by the governor as to whether or not the space will be allowed to be fully occupied. If not, he says we will be reluctantly forced to find with all the jobs and economic development it brings another Republican National Convention site. Now, after those tweets from the president he did say he does not

ultimately want to leave North Carolina but he's certainly trying to set a very tight time limit for the governor of North Carolina, where we should note, in recent days, they have seen increases in the number of coronavirus cases in that state -- Christine, Laura.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: All right. Jeremy at the White House, thank you for that.

At least one Trump believes in wearing masks in this pandemic. Here is Melania Trump putting on a white mask Monday morning after boarding Marine One. Her husband, of course, has made headlines for refusing to wear a mask.

The first lady has been vigilant about practicing social distancing and wearing a mask in the White House and requires staff to do the same.

JARRETT: Joe Biden leaving home for the first time in months laying a wreath Monday at a veterans memorial park in Delaware. The former vice president, presumptive Democratic nominee was wearing a facemask, as was his wife, Dr. Jill Biden.

Biden told reporters never forget the sacrifices these men and women made. Memorial Day is also personal for the Biden family. His son Beau who died of brain cancer in 2015 was an army veteran.

ROMANS: So, this Memorial Day weekend was the most violent in Chicago in four years. At least eight people were killed, 24 injured in shootings over the holiday weekend. The victims included a 16-year-old boy. No arrests have been made so far in any of these killings. A stay at home order is still in effect in Chicago until the end of the month.

JARRETT: Police are on a multi-state manhunt for a University of Connecticut student they say killed two people and kidnapped another. Twenty-three-year-old Peter Manfredonia is accused of fatally stabbing a 62-year-old man on Friday morning and is also a suspect in the death of a 23-year-old male acquaintance who was found dead in his home on Sunday. Manfredonia's family is pleading with him to stop and surrender.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL DOLAN, FAMILY ATTORNEY: Peter, if you're listening, you are loved. Your parents, your sisters, your entire family loves you. Nobody wants any harm to come to you. It is time to let the healing process begin. It's time to surrender. Turn yourself in.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: The family's lawyer went on to say Manfredonia has struggled with mental health issues for years. Police and the FBI say he was last seen in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, on Sunday. He's considered armed and dangerous. And he's also suspected of committing a home invasion on Sunday in Wilmington, Connecticut, where he allegedly stole firearms and the homeowner's car.

ROMANS: The attorney for the family of Ahmaud Arbery tells CNN the Justice Department is investigating Arbery's shooting death as a federal hate crime. Arbery was fatally shot while jogging outside Brunswick, Georgia, in February. Gregory McMichael and his son Travis were arrested earlier this month and they face charges of felony murder and aggravated assault. William "Roddie " Bryan Jr. who took the video of the shooting was arrested last week on charges including felony murder.

JARRETT: Well, still ahead for us, a top official stands defiant with no regrets after breaking lockdown rules. We go live to London, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:23:07]

ROMANS: The coronavirus pandemic in Brazil increasingly dire. The number of confirmed cases now the second worst in the world after the U.S.

But CNN's Nick Paton Walsh reports it is now clear the official numbers do not capture the urgency of the situation. Nick has more from the epicenter.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Christine, Laura, the numbers in Brazil are worsening. They're already bad, 807 dead in the last 24 hours, 11,000 new cases. That is down on the previous days where they're getting as many as 20,000 a day.

That isn't the full picture because they simply don't seem to have the testing capacity to work out how many people have it in this vast sprawling nation. I'm in Manaus, the worst hit city, frankly, a small city of 2 million. We're in a cemetery there. Those people who tested positive were, frankly, a small number of the graves there, those who were suspected of having the virus, about four times as many. That's a small anecdotal example as to how the full reported problem here may not necessarily be known at this stage.

Many accusations laid against federal presidents, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. He's called it the little flu, played light of it. Seen on the weekend in front of supporters not wearing a facemask. He's recently called it a war. Many saying to defeat the virus, his prioritizing of the economy has put many people's lives in danger here and possibly even caused some of the deaths including some of the accusations of the mayor of the town I'm standing in who, in fact, said that Jair Bolsonaro should shut up and stay home and that he's responsible for some of the deaths so far.

The peak, one to two weeks away. The numbers rising, the travel ban moved forward by President Trump's administration, possibly though because of these worsening numbers -- Laura, Christine.

(END VIDEOTAPE) JARRETT: All right. Nick Paton Walsh, thank you so much for that.

The top aide to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is refusing to resign for driving across England while the country was in lockdown.

[05:25:05]

It's a trip Dominic Cummings took without informing the prime minister ahead of time. He's accused of ignoring rules he expected the rest of the country to follow. Nic Robertson joins us live from London on this.

What's the very latest, Nic?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, the very latest is that what Dominic Cummings told us in an hour long press conference yesterday in the Rose Garden at Downing Street, extraordinary in itself that that should actually happen, perhaps hasn't gone far enough. He essentially said that the newspapers and the media had the account of what happened to him about him driving to the north, going out to a beauty spot was a drive through test to see if his eyesight was OK.

And the fact that he had -- his wife was -- had the symptoms of coronavirus and he saw her and then came back into the office here at Downing Street, those actions that were specifically forbidden, people were supposed to be on lockdown staying at home isolating if that was the case. He really put out the message that the media had got it wrong and that he had no regrets about this at all.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DOMINIC CUMMINGS, CHIEF AIDE TO BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: No, I don't regret what I did. As I said, I think reasonable people may well disagree about how I thought about what to do in the circumstances, but I think that -- I think that what I did was actually reasonable in these circumstances.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTSON: Yeah. Really to the point of your question, has it made any difference? Well, we've already heard from one member of the cabinet today, a member of Boris Johnson's cabinet saying he thinks that this still leaves unanswered questions and the real test is going to be, are there more conservative MPs who feel that way, conservative newspapers here still writing a lot against Cummings.

JARRETT: Yes, certainly, a lot of pressure building on him.

All right. Nic Robertson, thanks so much.

ROMANS: Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam insists China's new proposed national security laws will not trample on her city's rights and freedoms. Protesters clashed with police on Sunday, fearing Hong Kong is about to lose its autonomy. And now, Lam is calling on everyone to wait to see the details of the legislation before judging it. Let's go live to Hong Kong and bring in CNN's Anna Coren.

Anna, you had a chance to ask Lam about this directly. What did she say?

ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Christine. I asked if people would be allowed to express their opinions, freedom of speech and freedom of expression, because she said basically that that's -- those freedoms as rights will be preserved. Well, she said basically that those protests that take place in Hong Kong that are legal will be allowed.

The problem, Christine, is that protests in Hong Kong are no longer legal. I was out there on the weekend. Thousands turned out to protest the national security law and police showed zero tolerance, 190 people were arrested. Now, it just gives you an idea to what is in store for Hong Kong. This new law will ban sedition, secession, subversion, foreign interference basically criminalizing the protest movement.

And we have to remember, it has ruled the streets of Hong Kong since last June. But the people here are still planning to fight for their freedoms, fight for their rights, if you like. We're expecting a huge turnout tomorrow. These water barriers behind me here at the Legislative Council, they have been put up to stop the protests.

Thousands are expected to turn out for this national anthem debate which will be taking place inside Legs Co which means, Christine, that if enforce, if you mock or insult the Chinese national anthem here in Hong Kong, you could very well end up in jail -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Anna Coren for us in Hong Kong this morning, thank you for that.

EARLY START continues right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM HASELTINE, FORMER PROFESSOR, HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL AND HARVARD SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Human beings through behavior without a drug and without a vaccine can shut down this virus.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: That's the advice from a top American scientist as we see a lot of Americans not following it, ditching the masks and ditching the social distancing.

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

JARRETT: And I'm Laura Jarrett. Twenty-nine minutes past the hour here in New York.

With states reopening all across the country, health officials are warning of a possible COVID-19 resurgence. The World Health Organization says never mind a second wave in the fall, there could be a second peak any time. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. MIKE RYAN, WHO HEALTH EMERGENCIES PROGRAMME: We're right in the middle of the first wave globally. We're still very much in a phase where the disease is actually on the way out. We need to be also cognizant of the fact that the disease can jump up at any time. We cannot make assumptions that just because the disease is on the way down.

END