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EARLY START

COVID Battle Enters Critical Phase; E.U. Could Block Americans; FBI: Bubba Wallace Not Target of Hate Crime. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired June 24, 2020 - 05:00   ET

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


[05:00:20]

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DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, MEMBER, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE: The next couple of weeks are going to be critical in our ability to address those surgings that we're seeing.

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LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Pleading with Americans to help slow coronavirus. More states now mandating masks, even as the president refuses to wear one.

Stay out. The European Union could block all travelers from the U.S. to keep the virus out of its shores.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUBBA WALLACE, NASCAR DRIVER: I'm pissed. I'm mad because people are trying to test my character and person that I am.

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JARRETT: Bubba Wallace has some serious questions after the FBI said the noose found in his garage at Talladega was not a hate crime.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is EARLY START. I'm Laura Jarrett. Christine Romans has the morning off. It's Wednesday, June 24th, 5:00 a.m. here in New York.

We begin with the U.S. entering a critical phase in the fight to slow coronavirus. There are now 26 states headed in the wrong direction. We say it every morning but this is a count that keeps ticking up day-by- day, including new case records in California and Texas, the most populous states in the nation.

The government's leading voice on the pandemic Dr. Anthony Fauci telling a house committee he's worried about complacency. The curve that Americans once flattened is now rising sharply again.

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DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY & INFECTIOUS DISEASES: We're now seeing a disturbing surge of infections that looks like it's a combination but one of the things is an increase in community spread. We were going down from 30,000 to 25,000 to 20,000, and now we sort of stayed about flat and now, we're going up.

A couple of days ago, there were 30,000 new infections. That's very troublesome to me. The next couple of weeks are going to critical in our ability to address those surgings that we're seeing.

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JARRETT: Fauci pleading for people to avoid crowds and number two wear masks. That happened hours before President Trump shunned a mask and addressed a packed crowd of his young supporters in Arizona. That state setting another record for new cases yesterday.

Positive tests, a real indicator of spread, have tripled in Arizona since Memorial Day. The pandemic is certainly not fading away. But top health officials haven't seen the president in some time.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dr. Fauci when is the last time you spoke to the president?

FAUCI: About two and a half weeks ago.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Admiral Giroir, when is the last time you spoke to the president?

ADM. BRETT GIROIR, HHS TESTING CZAR: It was -- it was about two and a half weeks ago as well, maybe three weeks ago.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Honorable Hahn, when is the last time you spoke to the president about the pandemic's respond -- and the response?

DR. STEPHEN HAHN, FDA DIRECTOR: It's been some time since I spoke about the pandemic response.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: The medical officials also testified they have not been asked to slow down virus testing. That's contrary to the president's original claim that he told his officials to do so. The president said earlier Tuesday he wasn't kidding when he said that. He said I don't kid.

Senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen has more takeaways from that hearing.

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ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Dr. Robert Redfield, the head of the CDC, said they developed a new test that can test for two strains of flu and for COVID-19, all in one test. Now this is really important. This could save a lot of time for labs,

a lot of resources, could even save lives because it can test people more quickly. The symptoms for flu and COVID are so similar that many people will need both tests now they can do it all at one time.

Also at the hearing, Dr. Redfield talked about the importance of getting a flu shot every year but especially this year. That's because having flu on top of COVID could be a real disaster. It will certainly place a stress on our hospitals and our health care system, only 45 percent of American adults gate flu shot. Dr. Redfield urged more to get a flu shot this year.

REDFIELD: This fall before the seasonal circulation of influenza increases I encourage the American people to be prepared and to embrace flu vaccination with confidence for yourself, your families and the communities. This single act will save lives.

COHEN: And speaking of testing, the nation's top infectious disease doctor, Dr. Anthony Fauci, told Congress that he flinched a little when he heard the term Operation Warp Speed. That's the name President Trump gave to his effort to get a COVID vaccine out. President Trump said it will happen in record speed but Dr. Fauci said there will not be a vaccine put out on the market until rigorous testing has been done to make sure that it works and to make sure that it's safe -- Laura.

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JARRETT: All right. Elizabeth Cohen, thank you so much for that report.

Meanwhile, in Florida, the "Miami Herald" reports record numbers of patients with COVID-19 are filling up hospitals in Miami-Dade County now.

[05:05:03]

One medical center in Homestead reached ICU bed capacity. Republican officials in Florida are warning the White House all the efforts so far have not been enough to beat it. There's been a huge jump in the number of COVID cases and critically in the percentage of tests coming back positive. That's really the number to focus on, is that upwards of 15 percent recently. Florida businesses remain open but Governor Ron DeSantis is threatening to pull the plug on establishments that don't follow social distancing rules.

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GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: If people see a pub or restaurant, if they are operating at 55 percent, OK, give them a warning, tell them, hey, 50. If you go in it's mayhem like dance party USA, and it's packed to the rafters, that's just cut and dry, and that's not just an innocent mistake.

(END VIDEO CLIP) JARRETT: That threat in Orlando area bar near the University of Florida has had its liquor license suspended after 13 patrons and 28 employees tested positive for the virus. Similar issues are cropping up all across the country.

CNN's Erica Hill has more on all that.

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ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning.

Some sobering new records being set in Arizona and Texas on Tuesday. Record single day highs for new case and in Texas, a record too for hospitalizations. Harris County, which is home to Houston, really seeing a spike there. In fact, Texas Children's Hospital said it's now admitting adults to deal with the surge. Governor Abbott in Texas warning the safest place for people to be is in their homes, and that if the surge continues, they may have to bring up some restrictions.

Meantime, 17 high schoolers in Ohio who took a trip to Myrtle Beach have now tested positive. Well, none have been hospitalized. Local health officials say they are concerned about the spread.

In Tennessee, half of all new cases have been linked to community spread. And in Washington, Governor Jay Inslee on Tuesday afternoon announcing that as of Friday everyone in the state needs to wear a face coverings when they are indoors or outdoors if they can't socially distance.

We're also seeing more younger people test positive. In New Jersey, 22 percent of cases are for people between 18 and 29. That's up 10 percent since April.

Laura, back to you.

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JARRETT: Erica, thanks so much for that.

The European Union is considering a ban on travelers from the United States because of coronavirus. If the E.U. goes through with it, the move would be a glaring rebuke of how President Trump has handled the pandemic.

CNN's Melissa Bell is live for us in Paris.

Melissa, a final decision hasn't been made yet but it will be a serious blow to the U.S.. What do you think might the tip the scales?

MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, essentially, the criteria, Laura, that's being used by the European Union to decide what countries after July 1st will be able to have access once again, will be able to get on flights to European cities the criteria is super simple. The idea is does that country have the same level of fight back against the epidemic, are they at the same level as Europe which really has largely returned to normal with largely lower figures for new coronavirus case kept down overall. Are they doing as well or better than Europe?

And if the answer to that is no, then the citizens of that country simply will not be allowed to travel. For the time being, according to that objective criteria, American citizens wouldn't be able to travel to Europe neither would Brazilian citizens. So, that is what the E.U. is looking at that, because, of course, the internal borders now open within the bloc are so important. This is about getting Europe's economy back on track, the bloc really keen to reopen its borders to the outside world now that it re-opened its internal borders.

The question is whether they will go through with the idea of banning more Americans for sometime more. And, of course, as you say, that would be a billion terms of how the United States has been seen objectively and from elsewhere to handle the epidemic.

JARRETT: Yes. So, certainly, the United States blocked travelers from the European Union from coming to our shores when we were worried about the explosion of the virus there earlier this year.

All right. Melissa, nice to see you this morning. Thanks.

All right. The FBI has determined that NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace was not actually the target of a hate crime. Andy Scholes has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report".

Hey, Andy. You know, this is sort of a crazy development. NASCAR is saying it was a garage pull. The FBI still calling it a noose.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it certainly was a surprising turn, Laura. Good morning to you.

So, Bubba Wallace, of course, is NASCAR's only black driver at their top level and after a noose was discovered in his garage on Sunday, the FBI was called in to investigate and the they say there was no hate crime here.

So I'll show you. This is the noose that was found by a member of Wallace's team. Now, the FBI says it had been in that particular garage at Talladega Super Speedway since October of 2019.

Now, NASCAR said in a statement the FBI report concludes and photographic evidence confirms that the garage door pull rope fashioned like a noose had been positioned there since as early as last fall. This was obviously well before the 43 teams arrival and garage assignment. We appreciate the FBI's quick and thorough investigation and thankful to learn that this was not an intentional racist act against Bubba.

Now many on social media reacted to that news calling it a hoax and that angered Wallace who spoke with our Don Lemon last night.

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WALLACE: It was a noose, whether tied to 2019 or whatever, it was a noose. So it wasn't directed at me but somebody tied a noose that's what I'm saying. I'm pissed. I'm mad because people are trying to test my character and

the person that I am and my integrity and they are not stealing that away from me but they're just trying to test that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: Now, NASCAR President Steve Phelps said they will continue to investigate as to why a rope was fashioned into a noose regardless of when it was done.

All right. Major League Baseball is now officially back. Commissioner Rob Manfred announcing an agreement to play 60 games starting on either July 23rd or 24th. Teams will compete in their home ballparks. Each team's schedule will be mainly divisional games with some games against other teams in their region. Spring training are going to start next week.

I'll tell you what, Laura? We could be in for one funky season. And I'll just give you an example. Sixty games is not a great sample size for baseball. Last season, the Nationals were six games under .500. The third worst team in the National League through 60 games, they won the World Series.

So we could see some really weird things happen this season.

JARRETT: I remember it well. I remember all of the cheers outside of my apartment when it happened.

SCHOLES: Yes.

JARRETT: All right. Andy, good to see you this morning. Thanks so much.

All right. Still ahead, he's 24 years old. He was paralyzed in a car crash. And he's one win away from becoming the youngest member in the history of Congress. Big primary night surprise, next.

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JARRETT: A primary night surprise in North Carolina. Twenty-four- year-old political newcomer Madison Cawthorn beating the candidate President Trump endorsed, realtor Lynda Bennett. This was a runoff you'll recall for the seat vacated by the president's chief of staff, Mark Meadows. Cawthorn who was partially paralyzed in a car crash will turn 25 years old in August, the minimum age to serve in the House.

Meanwhile, in New York City, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez easily beat challenger Michelle Caruso-Cabrera. The moderate former cable news host accused AOC of forsaking her district for the national spotlight.

Progressives are still looking for a big night in New York. Jamaal Bowman leads 16-term incumbent Eliot Engel. The race has not been called. Only half the voters in. We're also still waiting to see which Kentucky Democrat will take on

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Absentee ballots could push results for some races into next week. Voting went relatively smoothly in Kentucky despite a few hiccups, largely avoiding a repeat of the disastrous primaries in Wisconsin and Georgia, that's even though the state dramatically reduced the number of polling places because of coronavirus.

Well, the Biden campaign says it took in $11 million from a Tuesday night fundraiser featuring Joe Biden's former boss Barack Obama. That makes it the financially the most successful event of the campaign so far. Former president struck a hopeful note about his V.P.'s prospect's and he called out President Trump without naming him for, quote, actively promoting division.

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BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: I am here to say that help is on the way if we do the work because there's no way that I trust more to be able to heal this country and get it back on track than my dear friend Joe Biden.

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JARRETT: Obama said Biden if he wins will inherit a tougher situation than the one he walked into back in 2009 in the midst of the Great Recession.

A big legal victory for Trump's health care policy. A federal court upholding the plan to require hospitals to publicly disclose the secret rates they negotiate with insurers for common tests and procedures. The administration says price transparency will promote competition and reduce health care costs. The hospital group that sued to block the disclosure rule plans to appeal.

Lawmakers are considering another stimulus package to boost the battered U.S. economy. Trillions of dollars have already been seen in bailouts and checks for Americans and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin says the CARES Act is working but a second round of aid will be more targeted.

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STEVE MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: We're talking about a bunch of different ideas that we may need to do in another bill. And we want to take our time and make sure we're thoughtful. Whatever we do will be much more targeted, much more focused on jobs, bringing back jobs and make being sure we take care of our kids.

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JARRETT: Now, Mnuchin did not give a specific timeline for when another bill could happen. Talk about the next round of stimulus has been increasing. But not everyone is on the same page.

President Trump wants another stimulus check and a payroll cut. Republicans want a liability shield for employers to protect businesses from lawsuits over COVID as they start to re-open. And they want more targeted fiscal aid.

Democrats, meanwhile, are continuing to push for continued enhanced jobless benefits and help for state and the local governments. Wall Street doesn't seem to be hurt by the uncertainty, though. The Nasdaq hit a new record high on Tuesday. It also recorded its eighth day of gains in a row, its longest winning streak since December.

Well, this morning, a deputy to former special counsel Robert Mueller plans to lay out in stunning detail how the case of President Trump's longtime ally Roger Stone was watered down due to political pressure at the highest levels of the Justice Department.

[05:20:15]

Aaron Zelinsky claims the acting U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia was pressured to cut stone a break. He will also testify to Congress that Stone was, quote, treated differently from any other defendant because of his relationship to the president. Zelinsky resigned from the case back in February after Attorney General Bill Barr directed a new sentencing recommendation to be submitted for Stone overruling career prosecutors. Just a stunning case from someone still in the Justice Department.

Well, today, Senate Republicans are planning a procedural vote on their police reform bill that's likely to fail. Democrats say the measure is simply not salvageable. They are demanding a bipartisan negotiation ahead of a floor vote.

Senator Cory Booker is the lead sponsor of the Democratic plan.

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SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ): We are in a moment of profound possibility but what do we face it being shut down here in the Senate over an impotent bill that fails to meet this moment?

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JARRETT: One Republican senator is trying to find some common ground, but he's going to find some resistance. Mike Braun of Indiana plans to propose a bill on qualified immunity. He says it allows people whose rights have been violated to now be able to sue for money damages while also eliminating frivolous lawsuits. Senator Braun will appear on "NEW DAY" later this morning.

Well, over to Kentucky where the Louisville police department has fired the officer involved in the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor in March. Officers shot the 26-year-old black EMT eight times after breaking down her door as part of a narcotics investigation. The city's police chief wrote a letter to the detective Brett Hankinson informing he was fired and calling his conduct a shock to the conscience.

CNN has reached out to Hankinson and his attorney for comment. All right. Still ahead, coronavirus in the womb. Doctors are

scratching their heads after a healthy mom gives birth to triplets who now have the virus.

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[05:26:46]

JARRETT: The Chinese government now has sites set up across Beijing testing tens of thousands of people for COVID-19 every day. The capital is trying to maintain control over the most recent outbreak there.

CNN's David Culver has a firsthand look.

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DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Here in China, you're looking at one of many mass testing sites that have been set up particularly in Beijing. This is following the wholesale food cluster outbreak that happened more than a week ago. They say it's now one control but continuing testing in massive numbers.

And you got here 19 rows set up. This is for 19 different communities that feed into this one massive testing site. Once people have registered, they are taken across this little way here into these lines. And let me show you where they end up. Almost like getting in rides at an amusement park. You're getting in line here, if you will.

I'll show you, follow me over here, and this is where the actual testing is done. It takes about 30 seconds. It got about 100 staff members that work in two hour shifts.

And there they do the throat swab. They then take that sample and they'll put it in a refrigerator, and then move on to the next person. It usually takes just a few days time to get the results back. And most people are only notified if they have a positive result.

You can see over here this is where staff will take off all of their PPE, all of their protective equipment and they'll throw it away. It's kept in a safe separate area.

And the other staff that are about ready to come on shift, they get changed, suited up and go through a sanitation procedure and a separate facility to then keep this going really from 9:00 in the morning until 10:00 at night. In three days time that this has been operating, they've done about 20,000 tests.

This was built overnight. So they pop up relatively quickly. They will keep it going for as long as they need to here within Beijing and say as of now they feel they are on a good path and keeping this most recent cluster outbreak under control. But they are saying complacency is what they are trying to avoid with all of this.

David Culver, CNN, Beijing.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JARRETT: All right. David Culver, thanks so much for bringing us that story.

Well, doctors in Mexico are baffled by the newest coronavirus infections in newborn triplets, premature triplets born Monday tested positive even though neither parent has tested positive for the virus. Health officials say the case is unheard of across Latin America, coronavirus shows no signs of slowing down.

And now, Brazil's president who has dismissed it as just a little flu could literally pay a price.

CNN's Matt Rivers has more.

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MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Laura, another difficult day in Brazil as health officials there on Tuesday afternoon reported nearly 40,000 newly confirmed cases of the coronavirus. That brings the overall case total there to more than 1.1 million cases.

We're also learning that a federal judge in Brazil has ordered Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to wear a mask in public or else face up to roughly $400 a day in fines. That decision extends to all government employees in Brazil's federal district.

Meanwhile, here in Mexico, also a difficult day. Another new record in terms of newly confirmed cases in a 24-hour period. Mexico for the first time reporting more than 6,000 cases in a single day.

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