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COVID Case Counts Spiking in Locations Across the U.S.; Charges May Be Announced Today in Rayshard Brooks Shooting; Trump Signs Executive Order on Reform, Offers Defense of Police; U.K. Study: Commonly-Used Steroid Can Reduce COVID-19 Deaths. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired June 17, 2020 - 05:00   ET



LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: New signs that the coronavirus pandemic is far from over. Florida, Texas and Arizona just set daily records for new cases.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: We could learn in a matter of hours about possible charges against the former Atlanta police officer who killed Rayshard Brooks.

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

JARRETT: And I'm Laura Jarrett. It's Wednesday, June 17th, 2020, 5:00 a.m. here in New York.

Well, hope that the pandemic will soon be over and the reality that that day is not near are clashing badly this morning. More than 24,000 new coronavirus cases and 840 COVID related deaths reported in the U.S. on Tuesday alone.

The director of the Harvard Global Health Institute put it best.


DR. ASHISH JHA, DIRECTOR, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: I think many Americans want to believe that we are done with the pandemic. The problem is the pandemic is not done with us.


JARRETT: On Monday, Florida saw nearly 2,800 new cases. That's the single highest day increase in confirmed infections the state has seen since the pandemic began. Florida's governor was defiant in the face of the spike in case count.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: We're not shutting down. You know, we're going to go forward. We're going to continue to protect the most vulnerable.


JARRETT: CNN's Erica Hill has more on other COVID surges across the country.


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

Record-setting numbers out of Texas and not the kind you want to see, a record high day for new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, more than 2,600 were added says that's due to some positive cases at an assisted living facility near Dallas. Hospitalizations also setting another record high on Tuesday in that state.

The health commissioner warning people need to take into account the virus is still out there and saying that a possibility that there could be a resurgence is still a very real risk. The governor reminding Texans to wash their hands, practice social distancing and wear masks. Interestingly, the Houston mayor is one of nine mayors who sent a letter to the governor on Tuesday requesting that he give them permission to require masks in their city.

Meantime, Dr. Anthony Fauci reiterating his guidance this week that masks are essential saying there's no herd immunity. Everyone needs to protect themselves and those around them. In Maryland the University of Maryland says it will limit the number of room mates as a new survey finds that those under 20 years old are half as susceptible to the virus as those 20 and over raising new questions what that could mean for school in the fall not just for college but K through 12 students as well.

Here in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio saying the city could be ready to move into its next phase as soon as Monday and for tennis fans, Governor Cuomo announcing that the U.S. Open will, in fact, be played in Queens at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. No fans. You'll have to watch it on TV.

But good news, because remember, just a couple of months ago, that facility had actually been turned into a field hospital for COVID patients.

Back to you.


ROMANS: All right. Erica, thank you so much for that.

Vice President Mike Pence is promoting an optimistic and some cases outright false picture of American triumph over coronavirus. Yesterday, both Pence who heads the administration's coronavirus task force and President Trump made public appearances without masks. Tuesday afternoon, an op-ed by Pence appeared in the "Wall Street Journal" where he blames the media for, quote, fear-mongering over COVID and he praises his boss. Thank to the leadership of President Trump and the courage and

compassion of the American people, our public health system is far stronger than it was four months ago and we're winning the fight against the invisible enemy. Pence notes that half of states have declining or steady weekly case counts. But that still leaves 21 states increasing. Ten of them by more than 50 percent.

But Oklahoma where there's a Trump rally set for Saturday he said this.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Oklahoma has really been the forefront of our efforts to slow the spread and in a very real sense they flattened the curve and today, their hospital capacity is abundant. The number of cases in Oklahoma has decline precipitously.


ROMANS: So that's just false. The number of cases in Oklahoma has been climbing, hitting a record 225 new cases last Saturday alone.


JARRETT: A decision on possible charges against former Atlanta police officer who killed Rayshard Brooks could come as early as today. The 27-year-old black man was shot in the black after failing a field sobriety test, fighting with two officers and then running away with one of the officer's Taser. The officer who shot Brooks, Garrett Rolfe, was fired. The other officer, Devin Brosnan, is on administrative duty. Both now face charges ranging from voluntary manslaughter to murder.

More now from CNN's Ryan Young in Atlanta.


RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Laura and Christine, a lot of people are wondering what will happen today in terms of, will D.A. Paul Howard move forward with charges against the officers in the Rayshard Brooks case? Rayshard Brooks can be clearly seen in dash cam video talking with the officers. After a few questions, those officers tried to arrest him and then that physical struggle starts.

The big question here is whether or not Rayshard Brooks having that's Taser was enough for the officers to use deadly force. That's a big question.

Officers on the police force have that question. The D.A. has that question. And even the mayor of the city has that question.

How will things move forward? That's something that could be decided today. At the same time, we're told they are doing an all out review, all the policies of the police department. The mayor promises there will be big changes in this city -- Laura and Christine. ROMANS: All right, Ryan, thank you so much for that. House Democrats

and Senate Republicans are on a collision course over police reforms. Republican plan will be unveiled at a news conference later this morning. It calls for a review of no knock warrants, withholding of federal money if departments fail to report force, funding to promote the use of body cameras and assistance for sharing the records of law enforcement officers.

Democrats plan calls for a ban on chokeholds, national police misconduct registry, incentive for states to require racial bias training, restriction on transfer of military grade equipment to police departments, and to wear body cameras and anti-lynching legislations.

JARRETT: Meanwhile at the White House, President Trump signed an executive order from the Rose Garden Tuesday aimed at police reforms while at the same time offering a full throated defense of law enforcement.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Without police, there is chaos. Law and order must be further restored nationwide. In many cases, local law enforcement is under-funded, understaffed and undersupported.

Americans want law and order. They demand law and order. They may not say it. They may not be talking about it. But that's what they want.


JARRETT: Now, the executive order focuses mostly on creating a federal database of police who have been fired for misconduct and also incentivizing local police departments to meet higher standards with federal grant money on the hook. Both steps are unlikely to quiet the much broader calls for changes in policing.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins has more on all of this.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Laura and Christine, yesterday, we saw the president sign this executive order. It encourages some modest police reform but we should note it does not require any immediate action or mandate, anything from police departments and really relies on implementation to happen at a local level.

Now you saw the president, they talked about establishing this national database where police departments report excessive uses of force by officers so officers can't transfer from one department to another. He also talked about banning chokeholds. He said with the exception, though, of when an officer believes their life is in danger.

When you look at the text of this executive order it really does, basically encourages the use -- the disuse of any kind of chokeholds though incredibly specific and says it can be used in places where it does follow the law. So it does leave a lot of room there as several experts who have noted.

But one other thing the president noted is they want to try to incentivize federal funding for these police departments so basically they have to meet certain standards that are set by the attorney general in order to be prioritized for funding and for grants that they are trying to get from the federal government. It does not directly tie it. It's not threatening to withhold it or block them from getting it just saying they won't be prioritized.

So, really, overall, what we saw was a very modest police reform package from the president. It came after he offered a full throated defense of law enforcement there in the Rose Garden, making clear he still stands by that message of law and order that we've seen him use so much in recent weeks. So really the White House is leaning on Congress to do the heavy-lifting here and still up for debate what that's going to look like.

I do want to know that a few hours after the president had signed that executive order, his Justice Department filed a lawsuit against his former national security adviser John Bolton naming only Bolton in this lawsuit that they filed because, of course, he has a book expected to come out on Tuesday.


The administration says it contains classified information. John Bolton and his attorneys saying the president is misusing the classified information process to prevent the book from coming out because it's embarrassing to President Trump. So, it still remains to be seen where this is going to go from here.

But it certainly is a last ditch effort by the White House to try to stop that book from coming out. At least on Tuesday, those of course already shipped to several warehouses and taped an interview scheduled to air on Sunday.


ROMANS: All right. Kaitlan Collins, thank you so much for that.

President Trump cheerleading the stock market again, touting a rally in stocks after that better than expected retail sales report.


TRUMP: The stock market went through the roof. These good numbers they drove it up to a level that we're almost at the same level, hard to believe. We're getting very close to the level we were before the pandemic and before all of the things that you seen happen, happen.


ROMANS: The Dow closed up 527 point for the year. The Dow is down 7.8 percent. Nasdaq, those look at that, it is up 10 percent this year. Those numbers highlight a disconnect between Wall Street and Main Street. After the economy added 2.5 million jobs in May, roughly 21 million Americans are still out of work, 21 million.

Food banks are overwhelmed. Feeding America says food banks across the country are feeding 60 percent more clients. Economists expect second quarter depended could be the worst on record.

Investors are feeling optimistic about all this because it moves from the Federal Reserve, of course, to small businesses but in prepared remarks to the Senate Banking Committee, Fed Chair Jerome Powell said significant uncertainty remains about the strengthen of the recovery and a full recovery is unlikely until the public is confident the coronavirus has been contained. Which raises the question, I guess, Laura, if the president back to his old stance of cheerleading the stock market and taking credit for these rallies, but is that disconnected from how people feel and could that be a risk for him politically?

JARRETT: Yes, at an event that was supposed to be about police reform touting the stock market.

ROMANS: That's right.

JARRETT: All right. Still ahead, Russian President Vladimir Putin not taking any chances with coronavirus. More on the tunnel he uses to protect himself.



ROMANS: All right. New this morning, a judge in Tulsa, Oklahoma, rejecting a lawsuit aimed at topping the Trump campaign rally set for Saturday unless the organizers follow the administration's own social distancing guidelines. The lawyers trying to stop the rally will don't legal fight all the way to the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

CNN's Abby Phillip is in Tulsa for us and has more on efforts to make sure the rally goes ahead safely or not at all.


ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESONDENT: Hey, Christine and Laura, new warnings today and new concerns about whether or not President Trump's rally on Saturday might actually happen. We're hearing now from Tulsa health department who is warning attendees they should consider getting tested for the coronavirus both before and after attending the rally.

Now, the Health Department says they should wear masks and if they are over 65 and have health conditions, consider not attending at all. But all of this is also happening at a time when we are hearing now about a new lawsuit from a group of lawyers here in Tulsa calling on a judge to for the company that runs the BOK Center where this rally is supposed to be held, to hold Trump rally to the same standard as the CDC guidelines. In that sense, mandating the wearing of masks and also mandating social distancing inside that arena that holds about 20,000 attendees and is also indoors.

We're also hearing from the mayor of Tulsa who in a Facebook post basically said: As someone who is cautious by nature, I don't like to be the first to try anything and I would have loved another city to have proven the safety of such an event.

So quite a lot going on in Tulsa as officials here scramble to try to explain how they are going to manage this massive event here in the city and alleviate the health concerns that are raised by so many people being in that facility all at one time.

But so far, the Trump campaign says they are going to continue with this event. In fact, the Trump campaign says they are looking for an overflow facility that can hold as many as 40,000 extra seats. That facility the Vice President Mike Pence said may be outside, though no decision has been made on that yet -- Christine and Laura.


JARRETT: All right, Abby Phillip, thanks so much.

The president of Honduras confirms he and his wife have coronavirus. President Juan Orlando Hernandez says he has mild symptoms and his wife so far showing no symptoms. He says he'll continue his duties in isolation.

Let's get more headlines now from our reporters around the world.


MATT RIVERS, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Matt Rivers in Mexico where there are two things happening right now. One, we're in the worst days of this outbreak so far but, two economy here is gradually beginning to re-open. And in some places, that means tourism like on the Yucatan Peninsula, that's where there are famous resort towns like Cancun and Playa del Carmen. And in those places, some resorts have already re-opened.

Now, the U.S.-Mexico land border remains closed to all non-essential travel but Americans can still fly to Mexico and go to those resorts and the government here says it is safe for them to do so. The American government however disagrees. The ambassador here on Mexico City on Tuesday urged Americans not to take vacation in Mexico right now, saying that community transmission rates are still far too high.

ALEX THOMAS, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: I'm Alex Thomas in Manchester, where after three months, England's globally popular Premier League is back.

COVID-19 made it called off in March, on Friday the 13th, no less, and it's been a real horror show for EPL officials since then. Faced with losing hundreds of millions of dollars of TV money, they had to wait until June before the U.K. government gave permission for the season to resume with 92 games still to play, including reigning champions Manchester City against arsenal here on Wednesday night. If city lost, Liverpool can take their title with a win on Sunday.


And Russia's president is being protected from coronavirus by special disinfection tunnel his visitors must pass through. Footage on state media shows people being sprayed from all sides. It's described as a fine cloud of disinfectant that covers clothes and exposed upper body flesh. No indication of how effective the Russian made device is but underlines the extraordinary measures being taken to shield the leader of the country with more than half a million coronavirus cases.


ROMANS: All right. Thanks to all of our reporters for those.

A commonly used steroid can reduce the risk of death in the sickest of coronavirus patients by one-third. That's according to a British study.

CNN's Elizabeth Cohen has more on this potentially life-saving treatment.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: This British study of thousands of patients finding that what many doctors have been doing is the right way to go. The study looked at COVID patients who were very ill. They were on ventilators, some of them on the verge of death.

And so, they gave them steroids. Steroids are commonly used in hospitals for similar kind of infectious disease situations, as well as for other diseases.

The doctors have these drugs. They are used to using them. And so, they tried them.

And they found that when people got the steroids versus the group that didn't, that the group that got the steroids were more than a third less likely to die. So, obviously, that's a very strong number.

Doctors I talked to here in the U.S. who have been using these steroids said they felt this was true and now they're glad to see this actual data. It hasn't been published yet. It hasn't been peer- reviewed, but many doctors saying that they tried this and they also found that it worked.

Back to you.


JARRETT: Thanks to Elizabeth Cohen for that report.

Well, still ahead, most flights in and out of a major international city are cancelled this morning due to a spike in new coronavirus cases. A live report just ahead.



JARRETT: Welcome back.

Officials say an active duty Air Force sergeant suspected in the deaths of two police officers in California is linked to the extremist anti-government Boogaloo movement. Prosecutors say 32-year-old Steven Carrillo wrote Boogaloo phrases in his own blood on a vehicle he's accused of carjacking during a shootout with sheriff's deputies in Santa Cruz, California. And authorities say he used the recent protests as cover to attack law enforcement. Carrillo was accused of killing an officer in a drive by shooting outside of a federal courthouse in Oakland last month.

ROMANS: New U.S. sanctions on Syria go into force today, targeting anyone who helps the government of Bashar al-Assad. Sanctions included in a defense bill last year aimed to halt what they called the Assad regime's murderous attacks against on its own people in a nine-year- long civil war.

CNN's Jomana Karadsheh standing by live this morning with the latest for us -- Jomana.

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christine, you know, with the absence of a real international judicial process to hold the Syrian regime accountable for some of the worst atrocities and war crimes in our generation, some within the Syrian opposition and U.S. lawmakers feel that this is the best way to hold them accountable at this point.

Now, these are the toughest sanctions, the most ambitious, far reaching sanctions to hit Syria and they cover different sectors from the energy to construction to banking. It's basically not only targeting the Syrian regime and entities there, this also targets anyone who thinks of doing business with the Syrian regime. They also will be punished by the United States if they do so. Basically a way of trying to determining from normalizing ties with the Assad regime to ensure this remains an isolated pariah state.

Now, this is coming at a time when the Assad regime has pretty much won the war with the support of Russia and Iran. And as we heard from U.S. officials, they say they want to, in their words, deny the Assad regime, that military victory when it comes to the war there.

But, you month, they want to try to force them, strong-arm them into negotiations, take them back to some sort of a political settlement. But there's a lot of skepticism that that's really going to work. We have seen this before. These kinds of sanctions to strong arm regimes whether it's in Syria or elsewhere have failed in the past.

And there's a lot of concern about the impact this is going to have on the ground, really, especially coming at a time when Syria's economy is teetering on the edge of collapse. The currency has plummeted, lost 70 percent of its value and inflation is so high that people now no longer can afford basic food. Eighty percent of Syria's population living in poverty.

So, while everyone agrees that the regime must be held accountable --

ROMANS: Right.

KARADSHEH: A lot of concern about what this really will do, harden the regime's position possibly and lead to mass starvation of that population, Christine.

ROMANS: The nine-year-long now civil war.

All right. Jomana Karadsheh, thank you so much for that.

EARLY START continues right now.


ROMANS: New signs that the coronavirus pandemic is far from over. Florida, Texas and Arizona.