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Some Airlines Easing COVID-19 Restrictions Despite Rising Cases; Miami Beach to Enforce 10 p.m. Curfew Tonight as Cases Surge; Interview with Mayor Dan Gelber (D-FL), Miami Beach; Prince Andrew Urged to Come Forward after Arrest of Epstein Associate. Aired 9:30- 10a ET

Aired July 3, 2020 - 09:30   ET




JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Well, it's holiday weekend and today some flights will be more packed than they have been in months and some airlines choosing to ease restrictions ahead of the busy holiday weekend. Despite the rapid rise in U.S. coronavirus cases.

They're letting the planes go up in the air with a lot more people. CNN aviation correspondent Pete Muntean is at Reagan National Airport. Pete, a lot of controversy over the decision making the airlines made bold promises early on, saying like American, hey, we're going to leave seats empty. Now they're saying you know what, we're going to fly these planes full. How is it going to look?

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You know, Jim, a lot of controversy and a bit of a difference of opinion of how busy this weekend will actually be when it comes to commercial air travel. Industry groups are saying that as coronavirus cases begin to tick up during the second half of June, demand for air travel actually began to taper off a little bit.

Those who do pass through airports at TSA check points here, there will be more lanes open. This TSA administrator says the goal is to speed people through more quickly and to reduce exposure for workers and passengers.

On the plane, a completely different experience. You have a higher chance of being on a completely full flight. Lawmakers are already tweeting about this. American Airlines has joined United Airlines in saying that it will sell every seat onboard of its aircraft.

The United Airlines made a pretty big admission, saying that the whole idea of blocking off middle seats moves by competitors was really more of a public relation move rather than a public health move.

I spoke to United's Josh Earnest who insist that flying this weekend will be safe.


JOSH EARNEST, CHIEF COMMUNICATIONS OFFICER, UNITED AIRLINES: It's very, very difficult if not impossible to socially distance on board an aircraft. Keeping the seat next to you open is not going to make a material difference. What is going to make a material difference is wearing a mask, a high-quality air filter and thoroughly cleaning the plane before you get on board.


MUNTEAN: That whole concept drew anger from public health officials on Capitol Hill this week. The head of the CDC called the move by American troubling and disturbing. Ordering a review. Now, we will find out if passengers feel the same way. Jim?


SCIUTTO: We should note that airlines such as American are offering people the chance to rebook if they're not comfortable with those crowded planes. I think without a charge. Pete Muntean, good to have you on this story.

In Miami Beach, it will be anything but a typical July 4th weekend. Beaches are now closed. And a new curfew is going to go into effect tonight. With me now is Miami Beach mayor, Dan Gelber. Mayor, we appreciate you taking time. We know you got a lot on your plate as this weekend begins.

Tell us what are you saying to people that they can do safely this weekend in terms of celebrating the holiday and getting together with family and friends?

MAYOR DAN GELBER (D-FL), MIAMI BEACH: We're telling them to have a July 4th holiday at home. We're not going to have throngs of people at the beach. We have a curfew. We're not having fireworks. We're doing it virtually with our New World Symphony online. We're telling people that there's nothing more American than by making a sacrifice by staying at home, to keep the family members safe, a neighbor safe or a stranger safe.

SCIUTTO: So, you have taken a step that a lot of states have resisted. Although there's some change now. For instance, Texas, now with a mandatory mask law. I'm just curious, now that they're mandatory in Miami Beach, what happens if a person violates it? Are you going to be handing out tickets for this kind of thing?

GELBER: Well, what we have done is we actually have a $50 fine because otherwise you'd have to arrest somebody. And we don't feel like that's a measured response or a practical one. But remember something.

The advantage of a mandatory order is people begin to comply the moment it is mandatory. Everybody has people in their lives who follow rules. I married one, two of my three children follow rules. So, they're merely going to get a lot of complaints and we've seen a lot of complaints from our residents. SCIUTTO: Well, listen. It's like seat belts, right? I mean how often are people pulled over for not wearing a seat belt, but it's a law. And listen, we put it on. We do today.

Tell us about what you're seeing in the numbers there because you say hospitalizations and ventilator use is trending upward. So that means not only are people getting infected more but they're getting sick more.

GELBER: Yes, I mean this whole argument that there's more COVID simply because we're testing more is absurd. You can't fake being so sick. You have to be hospitalized or so absolutely sick you got to be in intensive care or on a ventilator which is really a last resort.

I mean we are seeing it. We are seeing our hospital capacity reduced because more -- there's over 1,300 COVID patients in my county right now and 1,000 people have died. So, you know, this is not something that -- it's not time to make political statements about wearing a mask. It's time to comply and make sacrifices for everybody else.

SCIUTTO: And yet, folks still are though. I mean, you see it and you hear it from the president. I'm just - I was amazed to listen to the governor of New Mexico say without embarrassment, they will not be social distancing for this event -- South Dakota, rather, for Mount Rushmore. That they will not be social distancing for this event.

You are the leader of a community there. What's your reaction when you hear or even the governor of your state says, I'm not going to go there?

GELBER: Well, first of all, we should have a mandatory mask order. Not simply because of the way we inspire compliance like the seat belt law, but because if you wait too long it's obviously too late. Because this thing bakes into the community, you know, two weeks before it rears its head. So, you can't wait until it's obvious. You got to do it two weeks early.

But to these folks, I would say this, it's July 4th. Our nation was built on this idea of sacrificing for other people. That's what July 4th celebrates. So, let's celebrate that this weekend. Let's get on the same page. Let's just tell people do this. It's American to do this.

SCIUTTO: Yes. It's a good point, right? Because there's been a lot of talk about how this is violation of freedom. But as you note the country is built on a lot of shared sacrifice as well.

Final question. Can a community such as yours effectively get a handle on the outbreak community by community, city by city, county by county, without statewide leadership and statewide policy?

GELBER: You know, and I really credit my commissioners and the mayors of my community around. We have seen on the ground and we're doing our best, but the hardest thing to deal with are these mixed messages coming from the state and the federal government and the president. It's hard -- I don't mind delivering the tough medicine in saying let's do it, please. Let's do it. Let's make the sacrifice.

But then when you hear the president say you really don't need the medicine. It makes it that much harder. It would help if we -- like a hurricane, we all stand up and we say the right things to the community, so they don't wonder whether they need to do something. They know they have to. And we don't have that at all right now. There's no unity of message, there's no unity in our community and that's really very daunting.


SCIUTTO: Well, let's hope we see change. Mayor Gelber, good luck to you and your community as you go into the big weekend.

GELBER: Thanks. Thanks, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Well, there is mounting pressure on Prince Andrew this morning. Federal prosecutors are urging the queen's son to answer questions about his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein. This following the arrest of Epstein's long-time associate.



SCIUTTO A long-time associate and suspected accomplice of Jeffrey Epstein made her first court appearance this following her arrest on Thursday. Ghislaine Maxwell is accused of helping Epstein exploit and abuse young girls. This is as we're learning the Department of Justice would like to speak to Prince Andrew over his own contacts with Epstein.


Kara Scannell, she's been following the latest developments. What happened in court and how much -- how serious trouble is Prince Andrew potentially?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: Well, Jim, yesterday, there was a brief court appearance in New Hampshire where Ghislaine Maxwell was arrested early in the morning.

Now, she's going to be transported. She's currently in the custody of the U.S. Marshals. She will be transported to New York to face the detention hearing and a hearing where she will enter her plea. Prosecutors want Maxwell detained. They say she's an extreme flight risk with very few ties to the U.S.

Now, prosecutors also asked any witnesses or victims to come forward. They say their investigation is continuing. One person they've wanted to speak with consistently has been Prince Andrew. The prince has been friends with Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell for years. He was also accused by one victim of abusing her sexually. He has vehemently denied that allegation but in an interview with BBC last fall, the prince said that he would cooperate with prosecutors. Now the U.S. Attorney's Office here in Manhattan says that they have tried to get the prince to cooperate, to sit for an interview, but they say he's provided zero cooperation. This has created an unusual standoff that's burst into the public between the prince's camp and the prosecutors with the prince saying that he has offered up to cooperate but has not heard from prosecutors. He said the request again yesterday for his cooperation, they found it bewildering. Jim?

SCIUTTO: Kara Scannell, good to have you on that story.

Well, earlier this week, we reported that President Trump would blow up at his intelligence briefers if they shared any information on Russia's maligned activity, such as election interference. Trump's resistance led the National Security team to reduce the amount of Russia related intelligence they included in his verbal briefings. The president's briefers had one simple rule with Trump, I was told, and that is never lead with Russia.

My colleague, Jake Tapper, asked former National Security Adviser John Bolton his reaction. And this is what he said.


JOHN BOLTON, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: I think I have enough scars from bringing up things about Russia that he probably didn't want to hear that I can say I agree with that. I do think that everybody understood the nature of Russia's activities with the possible exception of the president.

And so, a lot of activity went on as you might expect it would and we just -- we tried to inform the president, tried to get his reaction. Steps were taken, I think importantly to deal with Russian threats but usually as the president grumbled and complained along the way.


SCIUTTO: This information based on accounts of multiple former Trump administration officials who briefed him were present for his briefings and also who prepared documents for those briefings. I spoke to them all for my upcoming book "The Madman Theory: Trump Takes on the World." It's coming out August 11th.

Well, all eyes are on major league baseball today. This as they restart spring training. Is the season going to happen? There are a lot of questions. More details on that, next.



SCIUTTO: Well, the fourth of July usually means hotdogs, apple pie and baseball, of course. In this unusual year, we'll still have some baseball, we think. Carolyn Mano has more on this morning's Bleacher Report. I mean, a lot of challenges, a lot of people still beginning to test positive. Is it going to happen? CAROLYN MANNO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: We're moving that way. I mean, right now, would you settle for a hotdog eating contest and some summer workouts because that's about all we've got.


MANNO: I think so. Although it is good news that Major League Baseball Spring Training 2.0 so to speak is officially set to get underway today. There were a lot of hurdles just like all the other leagues, players and staff going to be practicing, getting ready for the upcoming season at their home ballparks instead of the usual preseason spots like Florida and Arizona.

The shortened 60-game season set to start later this month. They will look a lot different. Cases of coronavirus spiking across the country. The league in individual teams have safety rules. They have health protocols in place in and around the ballpark still. That's not going to be enough to ease anxiety for some about the risks associated with coronavirus. At least four players so far have opted out of the season without pay.

Meantime, FedEx is putting financial pressure on the Washington Redskins to change the controversial nickname that the team has had since 1933. The shipping company is one of a number of corporations joining the call for owner Dan Snyder to make the change. Something Snyder has said he would never do in the past.

FedEx is a major sponsor of the franchise. They spent just over $200 million to own the naming rights to the team's home stadium. FedEx field just outside of D.C. The company's CEO is also a minority owner of the team, but other investors are also taking note of this, too.

Nike, the NFL's official game day uniform supplier no longer has the team's merchandise available on its online store. The organization changed the mascot. It's leading the fight to change the team's name. And mascot as well saying that it is racist. Neither the team nor the company so far have responded to CNN's request for comment.


MANNO: The song "Lift Every Voice And Sing" known more commonly as the "Black National Anthem" performed before every game in week one of the NFL season.


A source familiar with the league's discussion tells CNN it will be played before the "Star-Spangled Banner." This will begin with the nationally televised first game of the season on Thursday, September 10th when the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs host the Houston Texas.

And Jim, this song was originally written as a poem and then it was first performed right around the turn of the 20th century in celebration of Abraham Lincoln's birthday. A nice tribute there as the NFL continues to prove that they really are hearing the players in this crusade for social justice.

SCIUTTO: Well, remarkable considering the NFL's resistance to early on to the take a knee movement along with the president. Carolyn Manno, it will be quite a moment to hear that anthem. Thanks very much.

Well, Dr. Anthony Fauci says the U.S. is heading in the wrong direction with coronavirus as case numbers hit all-time records. Will people heed his warning this holiday weekend?