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Coronavirus Hits Record Highs In Most Populated States; Trump Preparing Major Effort to Protect National Monuments; Stocks Have Their Worst Day in Two Weeks; Three MLB Teams Announce New COVID-19 Cases. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired June 25, 2020 - 05:00   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Almost back at the peak. Record coronavirus spikes in the most populated states. Scientists say wearing masks will save lives but some governors reject the idea.

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

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Laura Jarrett. It's Thursday, June 25th, 5:00 a.m. here in New York.

This morning, record increases in new COVID-19 cases in the country's three most populous states, California, Texas, Florida all setting single day records. More than a quarter of the U.S. population, that's about 90 million people, live in just those three states. Yesterday, the U.S. reported its fourth highest number of new cases since the pandemic began. Tuesday was the third highest.

We have not seen numbers since April like this, Christine.

ROMANS: Look at this alarming spike in California -- more than 7,000 cases in a day. The governor says that counties that don't enforce health restrictions risk their funding from the state.


GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D), CALIFORNIA: If you're unwilling to keep people safe and keep people healthy, then by all means, the state of California has a responsibility, an obligation, legally and otherwise, to enforce those laws and to utilize the tools that are afforded us, and one of those tools is power of the purse.


ROMANS: In Texas, new cases and hospitalizations are climbing at their fastest rate ever. Houston says 97 percent of its ICU beds are now full, 97 percent. And the state is scaling back parts of its reopening plan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we continue on the same trajectory that we're on right now, our hospitals, we think, are going to get overwhelmed by mid-July.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, our big metro areas seem to be rising very quickly. And some of the models are, you know, on the verge of being apocalyptic.


JARRETT: In Florida, the percentage of positive COVID test hitting an astonishing 20 percent, a real sign of just how much this is spreading.

Still, Governor Ron DeSantis doubled down on his decision not to require masks statewide.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: There's an enforcement that has to follow in that and we have a lot of places in Florida where that would not be a good deal of resources. Ultimately, we've got to trust people to make good decisions.


JARRETT: Both of his senators disagree with him.


SEN. RICK SCOTT (R-FL): You've got to wear a mask, you've got to social distance, you've got to get information out. Hope everybody takes it seriously because we haven't beaten this.


JARRETT: Senator Marco Rubio put it bluntly, quote: Everybody should wear a damn mask.

A prominent model used by the White House now projects almost 180,000 deaths by October, but 30,000 lives would be saved if only Americans wore a mask. Nevada and North Carolina have now joined the list of states requiring masks in public.

ROMANS: Now, despite that uptick in Florida, neither Orange County nor Disney are revisiting plans to reopen Disney World. The phased reopening in Florida is set to begin July 11th. The other Orange County Disney is delaying its phased reopening of Disneyland in southern California. It had been set to welcome guests back starting July 17th. They're postponing that with no new date set.

JARRETT: Well, in the absence of a national plan, states are taking bold action all on their own, to keep the virus from returning.

York, New Jersey and Connecticut are now -- they're requiring people from eight spiking states in the South and West to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. Each state will handle its own enforcement of this. These states have been through the worst of it and had seen cases dramatically reduced. But the governors want to keep it that way.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: It's only for the simple reason that we worked very hard to get the viral transmission rate down. We don't want to see it go up, because a lot of people come into this region. And they could literally bring the infection with them.


ROMANS: One person who won't adhere to New Jersey's mandate is President Trump. He plans to visit his Bedminster golf club this weekend. The White House says anyone who is in close proximity to him is tested for COVID-19 and confirmed to be negative.

And the president just returned from Arizona, one of the hot spots on New Jersey's quarantine list.

JARRETT: Yes. Well, no one closer to him than Secret Service. And now dozens of agents are being quarantined after working President Trump's rally in Tulsa over the weekend.

Because of that, all agents involved in presidential trips will be tested for coronavirus over the next couple of weeks. And moving forward, all agents will be tested for coronavirus 24 to 48 hours, before departing on one of those trips.

A Secret Service official says the quarantines will not affect the agency's overall operations.


ROMANS: All right. The White House claims it's preparing to launch an effort to protect national monuments which President Trump has described as part of the country's heritage. The president is expected to sign an executive to protect the statues, even though destroying federal property is already a crime and U.S. Marshals will be assigned to watch over them, guarding these monuments.

The move comes as the president's poll numbers fall sharply. He's now starting to hammer a clear message to his base that issue of race, the subtext of the country's history is under attack. He offered more on that theme, standing next to Poland's nationalist president.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins is at the White House.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Laura and Christine, what you saw yesterday was remarkable. It's the first time the president has welcomed a foreign leader to the White House since March when he had that visit with the leader of Ireland. And now, he welcomes a close ally in Poland just four days out of his election. Another contentious issue, the president felt it was a good time to

welcome another foreign visitor first time and so long. He explained it basically saying that he believes they're moving on from coronavirus. And sources have said the president feels he is starting to get back to his normal schedule, then the rest of the country is going to feel more comfortable opening up.

Of course, he did not address those comments that we've heard from his own health experts in recent days, talking about what they call a disturbing numbers of surges in cases across the United States.

And, also, he didn't talk about the fact that he hasn't really talked to his own health experts at all lately. Instead yesterday in that press conference, the president talked about withdrawing U.S. troops from Germany, something that the Polish president said is only going to threaten European security.

And the president also talked about this long-standing fight that he's renewed recently about pulling down some of those statues that people find problematic in the wake of George Floyd's death.

DOANLD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think many people who are knocking down the statues don't have any idea what the statue is, what it means, who it is, when they knock down Grant, when they want to knock down Grant.

But when they look at certain -- now, they're looking at Jesus Christ. They're looking at George Washington. They're looking at Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson. Not going to happen. Not going to happen. Not as long as I'm here.

COLLINS: The president seems to be leaning into that fight, another cultural battle. Those ones that he often reveled in, as a new poll is showing he's 14 points down to Vice President Joe Biden. And many people do not approve of the way he's handled the coronavirus outbreak so far.


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

One of the president's most senior aides is struggling to defend his use of a racist slur that he used to describe the coronavirus.


TRUMP: I can name kung flu.

Kung flu, yes. Uh-huh.


JARRETT: Note the cheers for that. The president has used that term repeatedly.

Back in March, Kellyanne Conway was asked what she thought of it after reports that someone in the White House was using it.



REPORTER: Of course, it's wrong.

CONWAY: But you jut can't make an acquisition and not tell us who it is. That's highly offensive, so you should tell us who it is.


JARRETT: OK, highly offensive. Fast forward three months ahead now.


CONWAY: The president has made it very clear he wants everybody to understand, and I think many Americans do understand that the virus originated in China. Had China been more transparent and honest with the United States and the world, we wouldn't have all the death and destruction that, unfortunately, we've suffered.


JARRETT: So really not an answer about the racist term.

Conway was asked if she would tell the president she believes the term is highly offensive, she refused to answer.

ROMANS: All right. Democrats are dramatically scaling back events at this summer's political convention because of the pandemic. State delegates are now being told not to plan to travel to Milwaukee, that they will vote remotely. Organizers are billing this as a convention across America. It's expected to include speeches, music and appearances from locations across the country.

Now, Joe Biden will still except the party's nomination and deliver his acceptance speech from Milwaukee. They have chosen a smaller venue.

All right. Tough going for the stock market. The worst day in two weeks, investors sold stocks with coronavirus cases near peak levels and surging in some big states. The Dow tumbled more than 700 points, the S&P 500 closed down 2.6 percent, Nasdaq fell more than 2 percent. That's just a day after the Nasdaq hit a record high and had its longest winning streak since December.

Another of things here weighing on investors. The coronavirus cases are rising. New York, New Jersey and Connecticut are requiring travelers from states with high case rates to quarantine for two weeks. And newly proposed tariffs on imports from Europe, including chocolates, olives, gin and beer made with malt.

So, a tough day yesterday. But overall, the market has been pretty resilient this summer, Laura, when you look at the cases here and how much -- the fits and starts of reopening this country. [05:10:00]

JARRETT: Yeah, for sure.

Well, new overnight, it took a grand jury ten minutes to indict three men for the murder shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery.


JARRETT: Three men involved in the fatal shooting of unarmed jogger Ahmaud Arbery indicted on charges that include felony murder. The decision coming just one day after a long-awaited hate crime bill was sent to the governor for his signature.

CNN's Victor Blackwell is in Atlanta for us.


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Laura and Christine, these three men, Gregory and Travis McMichael, father and son, and William "Roddie" Bryan now face nine counts. We're told by the district attorney that it took the grand jury just ten minutes to decide on the counts of malice murder. Four counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, false imprisonment, and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment.

Now, of course, in Georgia, those murder charges, if convicted, these three men will face a life sentence. They could face the death penalty. But there's no clarity at this moment if prosecutors will seek the death penalty in this case.

We know that the arraignment is next for these three men, but the coronavirus and judicial emergency here could stretch out this process for a while. We've learned from their attorneys, though, for the attorney for William "Roddie" Bryan that -- he says that his client was just recording. He was just a witness. The attorneys for the McMichaels, they said in the past, not to rush to judgment.

Now, when it comes to the family of Ahmaud Arbery who was killed, shot and killed on February 23rd. His family was not at the announcement on Wednesday. Although the D.A. says that as soon as they got that indictment from the grand jury, they reached out to the family who they say was grateful. The attorney who represents them, S. Lee Merritt, says that the family is determined to see these men prosecuted, convicted and appropriately sentenced.

Now, of course, the family waited so long after that February 23 killing, ten weeks to get charges. Now the indictment, but they say justice will come as this process reaches its end with a decision from a jury -- Laura, Christine.


BLACKWELL: All right. Victor, thank you for that.

Another chokehold death of a black man by police under renewed scrutiny this morning. The Colorado governor's office says it's examining the case of 22-year-old Elijah McClain after more than 2 million people signed a petition demanding a new investigation.


POLICE OFFICER: Stop, stop, stop. I have a right to stop you because you're being suspicious. Turn around. Stop tensing up, bro. Stop tensing up. Stop tensing up.


ELIJAH MCCLAIN: No, let go of me. No, I am an introvert. Please respect your boundaries that I am speaking.

POLICE OFFICER: Stop tensing up. Relax.

MCCLAIN: Stop, stop. I'm going home.

POLICE OFFICER: Relax, or I'm going to have to change the situation.

MCCLAIN: Leave me alone.

POLICE OFFICER: Sir, can you please cooperate?


ROMANS: Three white officers as he walked home in aurora. A 911 caller described a suspicious person. Police say an officer placed McClain in a chokehold, and he briefly lost consciousness. McClain suffered a heart attack in the ambulance and was declared brain-dead three days later.

The officers were placed on administrative leave but reinstated after the district attorney declined to file charges.

JARRETT: Well, Chicago's school board has voted to keep more than 200 city police officers in its schools. The board rejecting an effort to terminate its contract with the police department by a 4-3 margin. It makes Chicago an outlier in its controversial move as several other cities have taken steps to remove police from schools including Portland, Seattle, Denver, and Oakland.

Officials say while the original intention to have them in schools may have been good, school officers unfairly target students of color and make them wary of law enforcement at a young age.

ROMANS: Boston is joining the list of cities banning official use of facial recognition technology. The city council's unanimous vote to ban facial recognition software comes amid a national debate about the technology's risk to privacy and equal treatment under the law.

Studies have shown that facial recognition disproportionately misidentifies people of color. It lends weight to allegations by civil rights group that it leads -- its use leads to discriminatory policing. JARRETT: Well, the unusual court fight in the case of Michael Flynn

came to a screeching halt Tuesday, as a federal appeals court ordered a lower court to dismiss the criminal against the president's former national security adviser. In a 2-1 ruling, the D.C. Circuit panel found Judge Emmet Sullivan overstepped his authority by not allowing the Justice Department to immediately dismiss the charges against Flynn last month. Remember, Flynn had originally pleaded guilty about lying to the FBI about his conversations with the Russian ambassador during the presidential transition, but then the government later said it couldn't prove its case.

Judge Sullivan did not act on this ruling as the full Court of Appeals in D.C. still has the option to re-hear that case.

ROMANS: The Justice Department says Attorney General William Barr has agreed now to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on July 28th. Chairman Jerry Nadler threatened to subpoena. His committee is looking into the alleged politicization of the Justice Department after the firing of Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan. Berman was investigating President Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.

Two whistleblowers appeared before the House committee Tuesday, describing political meddling in department affairs under Barr.

JARRETT: All right. Still ahead, some U.S. landmarks still uncertain about when they can reopen. But one of the world's most famous landmarks is finally back today. CNN has reporters covering the pandemic, around the world.



JARRETT: Welcome back.

Hard hit Brazil is planning to expand coronavirus testing. The country's health ministry plans more than 46 million tests by the end of the year. Half will look for direct evidence of the virus. The other half will measure antibodies.

It's a big change. Brazil previously allowed testing only for people who were hospitalized. The country has the second most cases in the world behind the U.S. Cases in Latin America have tripled in just the last month.

And new concerns this morning about coronavirus in the second most populous country in the world. And China is announcing new testing levels in a not so subtle jab at President Trump.

We have reporters around the world.


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm David Culver in Beijing where city officials now consider this most recent cluster outbreak to be basically contained, in their words. It's believed to have originated in a popular wholesale food market here in the capital.

Two weeks in and several neighborhoods are still on strict lockdown. Mass testing sites like this one that CNN toured this week continues to do mask screening for what's amounted to hundreds of thousands of residents. Of that, they have only reported about 250 confirmed cases from this most recent outbreak.

In all, since the start of the pandemic, Chinese health officials say they have conducted more than 90 million coronavirus tests.


It was about a month ago that the Pan-American Health Organization officials first declared Latin America and the Caribbean to be the new epicenter of this global pandemic. In the several weeks since, we know that cases in this part of the world have tripled, going from just under 700,000, to now standing at more than 2 million cases and more than 100,000 deaths.

The director of the Pan American Health Organization told reporters on Wednesday that she thinks outbreaks could continue to crop up in this region for the next two years, saying in part, quote, all of us must adjust to a new way of life and redefine our sense of normal.

CYRIL VANIER, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: I'm Cyril Vanier in Paris where the Eiffel Tower is partially reopening to visitors today after its longest shutdown since the Second World War. For now, the lifts are closed to avoid crowds in a confined space. So, if you want the view, you'll have to earn it. 745 steps to the second level, that's a 15-minute climb.

And once you get there, the Eiffel Tower experience is a little different now. With mandatory face masks, regular disinfection of surfaces and no access to the very top for now. An estimated to 4,000 to 5,000 visitors are expected on day one.

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Sam Kiley in Abu Dhabi, where local authorities have been working very hard to try to control the spread of the coronavirus around particularly might worker population of 3.5 million Indians here in the Emirates.

But it is those Indians who are looking across at their own country seeing a very substantial increase in the rates of infection being reported by authorities there. Some close to half a million people now being reported to be infected inside India, both Delhi and Mumbai reporting some 70,000 cases with the death toll rising to such an extent that hospitals are reporting that they're closed to being overwhelmed, and medics in the Delhi area are being ordered back to work.


ROMANS: All right. Thanks to our reporters around the world for those reports.

Just six days before the start of baseball's spring training, several teams reporting new coronavirus cases.

Coy Wire has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report".

Hey, Coy.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Christine. Good morning to you.

And in a way, sports reflecting society as a whole, right? And as teams and athletes ramp up towards return of play, the potential reality staring them right in the face is more positive tests, especially in MLB, Christine, where teams plan to travel to multiple cities for games, unlike other leagues that are going to be playing in bubble environments. The Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers, and Seattle Mariners all reporting positive cases on their 40-men rosters. That's on top of the teams that had already reported cases last week, bringing the total of nine of 30 MLB teams reporting positive tests.

A lot of concern in the NBA as well. Three players due to play in Orlando when the season resumes announced positive tests yesterday, including former Rookie of the year Malcolm Brogdon of the Pacers. The NBA plans to restart July 30th. Brogdon believes he'll be cleared to play by then.

And five PGA golfers pulling out of this week's event in Connecticut, including four-time major winner Brooks Koepka. He's out after his caddie tested positive for COVID-19. Koepka saying although his test is negative, he feels he'll be putting other players at risk.

All right. With three new positive tests in the past 36 hours, the tour announcing it's tightening health guidelines even further to try to prevent more cases and withdrawals. Former U.S. Open champ Justin Rose telling CNN Sports that no matter what the tour does, it will not be perfect. Still, he feels safe.


JUSTIN ROSE, 2013 U.S. OPEN CHAMPION: And the tour creating a bubble. And in that -- within the bubble, you feel very safe. But, you know, you can't live 9 or 100 percent of the time in that bubble. So, there are transitions from the tournament to tournament where you are. You know, obviously, you're out in the real world. So, it's just not knowing exactly where the guys are getting exposed.

But I think the procedures here in Connecticut seem incredibly strict and tight. No access to the clubhouse without a mask. It, you know, definitely feels a little different this week to the last couple weeks that we played.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WIRE: Finally, the New York City marathon has now been cancelled. The 50th edition of the famed race was supposed to be held on November 1st. Runners getting either a full refund or a guaranteed spot in a future race. But officials saying that a race featuring 50,000 runners poses too big of a risk.

So, Christine, major events continue to be cancelled. Pro-athletes pulling out of competitions. As more athletes test positive, Christine, how are teams and leagues going to respond.