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U.S. Sees Record Day Of New Covid Cases; Coronavirus Spike Threatens Florida's Economy; White House Asks Supreme Court To Strike Down Obamacare. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired June 26, 2020 - 05:30   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Cheering and screaming in 2023 when it will be safe.

All right, thanks so much. Nice to see you, Coy.


ROMANS: EARLY START continues right now.


DR. ASHISH JHA, DIRECTOR, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: If we don't act aggressively now and we just let this go for a little longer, then we can get into that apocalyptic situation.

DR. LARRY BRILLIANT, EPIDEMIOLOGIST: This is a consequence of our actions and a consequence of not having guidance from the federal government.


ROMANS: An invisible enemy with invisible leadership makes a very real resurgence. New coronavirus cases at the highest level the U.S. has seen so far.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: And in the middle of a public health crisis, the Trump administration, once again, asking the Supreme Court to strike down Obamacare.

Good morning, this is EARLY START. I'm Laura Jarrett.

ROMANS: Nice to see you this Friday morning, Laura. Good morning, everyone, I'm Christine Romans. It's 31 minutes past the hour.

But we begin with a bleak new record -- a record setting this fight against coronavirus back months. Almost 40,000 new cases reported in the U.S. yesterday, more than doubling where we were earlier this month and eclipsing the previous record from April 24th. One hundred twenty-four thousand Americans are now dead.

The whole objective was to flatten this curve. The U.S. did the opposite. Several states hitting all-time highs today, many of them reopening early when patience was running out, but the virus remained a big threat.


BRILLIANT: Every epidemiologist was telling -- screaming as loud as we could that three weeks after Memorial Day we'd have a peak in the cases and five weeks after Memorial Day we'd begin to see a peak in deaths.

This is a consequence of our actions and a consequence of not having guidance from the federal government and states to follow.


JARRETT: Some states -- most notably, Texas -- are hitting pause on reopening. Texas' governor suspending elective surgeries to free up much-needed hospital beds for Covid patients. ICU beds are in critically short supply there.


DR. RICHARD BESSER, FORMER CDC ACTING DIRECTOR UNDER PRESIDENT OBAMA: The situation in Texas is a warning shot for the situation that could occur in any state where this isn't being taken seriously enough.

DR. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Calling Texas, for instance, a hotspot is like calling the sun a hotspot. There's a real risk in places like Houston of hospitals being overrun -- capacity being totally exceeded.


ROMANS: And now, a whopping 32 states heading in the wrong direction, and these are just the infections we know about. The CDC says U.S. cases may be 10 times higher than reported. Many of those people are younger and asymptomatic, spreading the virus to more vulnerable people.


JHA: If we don't act aggressively now and we just let this go for a little longer, then we can get into that apocalyptic situation. I think we all want to avoid it and we can, but we've got to move fast and we've got to move aggressively.

BILL GATES, CO-CHAIR, BILL AND MELINDA GATES FOUNDATION: The range of behaviors in the U.S. right now -- some people who are being very conservative in what they do, and some people who are basically ignoring the epidemic -- it's huge. And, you know, we've worn out people's patience.


JARRETT: In California, which had started to get coronavirus under control, hospitals have now seen a 32 percent increase over the last two weeks.

Renewed concern about the pandemic is enough for the White House Coronavirus Task Force -- remember them -- to hold their first public briefing today in nearly two months.

ROMANS: All right.

This morning, the government will release personal income and spending data for the month of May. Florida could be hard-hit. Nearly three million people in the state have filed for unemployment since the pandemic began.

CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich has more.


VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): It's a cruise ship parking lot at the Port of Miami. Ships idling, waiting to take the seas, which leaves Ana Castillo waiting for customers.

ANA CASTILLO, OWNER SAFE CRUISE PARKING: It's very, very weird to see how empty it is.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): Covid-19 has wreaked havoc on Florida's biggest moneymaker, tourism. It's crushed businesses like Castillo's. She shut down Safe Cruise Parking in March and plans to reopen in September when cruises start again. But a surge in coronavirus cases in the state has her worried.

CASTILLO: I do think that people are going to look at Florida as like the new epicenter and probably even be more scared to travel here. So it is -- yes, it is concerning.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): It's a concern for agriculture here, too -- the state's second-largest industry. In just two months, farmers lost nearly $900 million in revenue during peak harvest season. And as they're planning for the next season's crop, another shutdown would be devastating.

GENE MCAVOY, VEGETABLE SPECIALIST, UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA: So if we see a spike that starts closing things down in October and November, it's going to be bad.


YURKEVICH (voice-over): Florida's construction industry, which took a hit, is also on edge.

FRANK D'ANGELO, COUNCIL REPRESENTATIVE, FLORIDA CARPENTERS REGIONAL COUNCIL: The spike is here. How bad that spike's going to be, we don't know. The best we can do is try to keep our members working.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): Construction jobs were hardest hit in Fort Lauderdale, dropping 10 percent in April from the year before. D'ANGELO: They definitely want to get back to work. Unemployment in Florida is relatively low compared to the rest of the country. Even with the federal stimulus of $600 a week, it still doesn't make up a delta (ph). They need to provide for their families.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): Two-point-five million Floridians applied for unemployment since March, many still waiting for checks, including one of Castillo's employees. She had to lay off all 15.

CASTILLO: I can't give these people jobs. These people have been unemployed since March and I don't know how much longer it'll be.


JARRETT: Vanessa, thank you for that report.

Breaking overnight, even in the face of a pandemic and massive unemployment, the White House wants to strip health care from millions of Americans. The Trump administration, once again, asking the Supreme Court to invalidate Obamacare.

At issue is the individual mandate, which requires most Americans to have insurance or pay a penalty. Well, back in 2017, the GOP-led Congress eliminated that tax penalty if you don't by insurance. So in a late-night court filing, the solicitor general argued that without the fines, the mandate to have insurance becomes unconstitutional and the rest of the ACA should be wiped away as well.

Just yesterday, we learned that nearly half of a million people signed up for Obamacare after losing their coverage this year.

Christine, it's just amazing because they're doing this without an alternative right now.

ROMANS: Yes, at a time when all of these people have lost their jobs, right, and some of them are going to --

JARRETT: And their health care is tied to their jobs.

ROMANS: Yes, absolutely.

All right, let's talk about Facebook here. Facebook trying to contain the growing ad boycott over misinformation on its platform. "The Wall Street Journal" reports Facebook executives have been reaching out to advertisers.

In a letter to advertisers, Facebook's vice president of global business said they take concerns seriously but, quote, "We do not make policy changes tied to revenue pressure. We set our policies based on principles rather than business interests."

Verizon joined the Stop Hate for Profit boycott Thursday, making it one of the largest companies to join the boycott of Facebook and the first telecom giant. Other major companies include Ben & Jerry's, North Face, Patagonia, Magnolia Pictures, Eddie Bauer, and the big ad agency GS&P, which represents BMW, FritoLay, Pepsi, and more. JARRETT: Well, Amazon shining a bright light on its pledge to fight

climate change, coming up.



JARRETT: The encrypted messaging app Telegram is facing a new round of scrutiny. A new report reveals white supremacists are openly organizing violence on the platform.

Here is our CNN's Nima Elbagir.


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Once seen as the Jihadi extremist social media platform of choice, now it appears to be that it's white supremacists who are exploiting laxity on the part of the encrypted messaging app Telegram.

For years, Telegram came under public and governmental pressure to tighten up their protocols when it came to beheadings and ISIS videos on public channels on their app -- and they did for a time.

Now, though, a new report from the Institute for Strategic Dialogue shared exclusively with CNN, has identified 200 white supremacist groups using the app to spread their message of hate. And not just hate, but also to plan and act on their rhetoric.

One of the key authors of this report, Jakob Guhl told us this is incredibly, incredibly concerning.

JAKOB GUHL, COORINDATOR OF POLICY AND RESEARCH, INSTITUTE FOR STRATEGIC DIALOGUE: From our perspective, we're very concerned about these channels. Just -- like we identified 200 channels with up -- over -- some of the biggest with over 10,000 adherence (ph).

There would be overlaps, almost certainly, but that's a large enough scale of content and followers that are a part of this network that's aimed towards creating violence. And we, therefore, really think these channels, ideally, should be taken down.

ELBAGIR (on camera): According to the report, these channels have thousands of members.

And CNN's own investigation unearthed an incident at the beginning of this month -- on June fifth in Knoxville, Tennessee -- in which white supremacists planned and then filmed themselves using hateful rhetoric, attacking and abusing Black Lives Matter protesters. And then uploading that abuse to Telegram, illustrating how the app really has become a convergence point for both rhetoric and real-world action.

GUHL: They're very, very large if you take into account quite how egregious the content is. I mean, it calls for violence, promotion of terrorist groups, celebration of the attacks of lone actor terrorists. This is not exactly based on content so it's the combination of like a reasonable size of followers and the really extremely vile nature of the content and other things concerning.

ELBAGIR (on camera): Propaganda and hate speech. There are also practical and how-to manuals. How to sabotage infrastructure, how to put together a bomb that can go through airport security.


Apparently, according to the authors, on those channels, how to target minorities. How to prepare for what they believe -- for what these white supremacists believe is a coming race war.

Anti-hate campaigners say to ask that they are very, very worried and they hope that Telegram will act. And if it doesn't act, they believe that it is the place of governments around the world to once again come together to force Telegram to act.

Nima Elbagir, CNN, London.


ROMANS: In a statement, Telegram says "Telegram is a neutral platform used both by Black Lives Matter and their opponents, as well as by thousands of other political movements around the globe. Telegram allows users to report public calls for violence. Our moderators routinely take down posts violating our terms of use and block channels that are made up entirely of such posts."

We'll be right back.



JARRETT: A frightening new revelation out of Pakistan. Nearly one in three pilots have fake licenses and are not qualified to fly. Pakistan's aviation minister says 262 pilots paid someone else to take the licensing test for them.

They were exposed during an investigation into a plane crash in Karachi that killed 97 people last month. It's not clear whether the two pilots on that flight had fake licenses.

ROMANS: All right, let's take a look at markets around the world this Friday morning. You can see Asian shares closed now for the day, mixed. And, European shares have also opened slightly higher here.

Stock index futures mixed this morning. They closed higher Thursday after the worst day in a couple of weeks. The Dow finished up 299 points, driven by bank stocks. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq also ended the day higher.

The Wall Street rally, despite another 1 1/2 million Americans filing first-time unemployment benefits last week. More than 47 million now have filed for benefits since mid-March. First-time claims have been declining since March but we are still seeing stubbornly high numbers here.

Walmart facing backlash for selling t-shirts saying "All Lives Matters" and "Irish Lives Matter". There was predictable social media backlash criticizing the company for mocking the Black Lives Matter movement. Walmart said third-party sellers must pass a review before they're

approved to sell on The shirts are still on the Web site as of this morning.

JARRETT: All right.

Amazon putting the planet front and center after securing naming rights to Seattle's KeyArena. The new name, Climate Pledge Arena.

Amazon says the hockey ice will be made using rainwater, 75 percent of food will be sourced locally, and basketball and hockey tickets will double as free public transit passes.

The renovated arena will house the WNBA's Seattle Storm and an expansion NFL -- NHL team, likely in 2021.

All right. Across the country, first responders are on the front lines battling coronavirus. In Bethesda, Maryland, a volunteer rescue squad is going beyond the call to help.

Here is CNN's Kristen Holmes.



KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For 22-year- old Alexis Sandler it was never a question.

SANDLER: I definitely wanted to get involved and to help.

HOLMES (voice-over): Sandler had been a volunteer here at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rescue Squad outside Washington, D.C. for six years.

SANDLER: The opportunity to help people at what is often like the lowest point in their life, that's really meaningful.

HOLMES (voice-over): After briefly leaving to focus on her academics in medical school, on an Army scholarship, she couldn't wait to jump back in when Covid cases around D.C. began to surge.

HOLMES (on camera): Are you scared at all?

SANDLER: No. I think that this is kind of our job. This is what we signed up for.

HOLMES (voice-over): Now she's one of the squad's 150 volunteer EMTs, paramedics, and firefighters choosing to be on the front lines.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't know if we were going to be short-staffed and we're like a long way from being short-staffed.

HOLMES (on camera): Here at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rescue Squad, volunteers get calls 24 hours a day. In fact, right now, the call is leaving. They're going to what they suspect is a Covid call at a nursing home.

HOLMES (voice-over): Volunteers like Katie Weber, who moved into the rescue squad when her university moved online. Weber spent what would have been her graduation day in the back of an ambulance.


HOLMES (voice-over): And volunteer Meg O'Brien.

O'BRIEN: This is home now.

HOLMES (voice-over): The vice president at the American Cancer Society is bringing her work to the fire station --

O'BRIEN: Any new information --

HOLMES (voice-over): -- spending her days between conference calls --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got someone on the way.

HOLMES (voice-over): -- and 911 calls.

O'Brien has been volunteering as an EMT at the squad for five years.

O'BRIEN: Hold the tabs on the side to adjust.

HOLMES (voice-over): A trained infectious disease epidemiologist, she says she felt a responsibility to be on the front lines when coronavirus hit, upping her volunteer commitment to four days a week, nearly 60 hours, and leading a daily call --

O'BRIEN: I'm just looking at the agenda for today.

HOLMES (voice-over): -- with the department's coronavirus task force she created.

O'BRIEN: It's been a great way for us to keep our services updated. Everything's changing really fast around Covid.

HOLMES (voice-over): These volunteers are just a few of the many across the country doing whatever they can --

O'BRIEN: We're here to answer the call.

HOLMES (voice-over): -- to combat the virus.

SANDLER: I think that there's always more opportunities to get involved.

HOLMES (voice-over): Kristen Holmes, CNN, Bethesda, Maryland. (END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: Such an important story to highlight -- you know, people really helping here. We have peak cases in the United States right now, so the stress on the health care workers here in the middle of the summer -- we just have to thank everybody for their -- for their great work.

JARRETT: Absolutely, and the volunteers. I mean, people who are doing classes online --

ROMANS: I know.

JARRETT: -- realizing you know what, I have some time to serve.

ROMANS: Thanks for joining us, everybody. It's Friday. Have a great weekend. I'm Christine Romans.

JARRETT: I'm Laura Jarrett. Thanks for joining us. "NEW DAY" is next.



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Friday, June 26th. It is 6:00 here in New York.

And the breaking news, a record number of new cases. Think about that. Four months into this pandemic, after everything we should have learned, after every opportunity where leaders should have led, more people reported sick in one day than ever before.

Nearly 40,000 new cases reported yesterday. Nearly 40,000 reasons to believe that leaders didn't lead, they didn't learn -- or maybe it's reasonable to ask whether they don't care.

The president is complaining about too many tests.