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EARLY START

California Dramatically Rolls Back Reopening As Coronavirus Cases Surge; School Districts Weigh Safety And Finances As They Plan For Fall; China Says U.S. Is A "Troublemaker" In The South China Sea. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired July 14, 2020 - 05:30   ET

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


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[05:31:23]

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GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D), CALIFORNIA: Effective today, requiring all counties to close their indoor activities.

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CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Shutdown, part two. California reimposing harsh restrictions to slow coronavirus. Will other states follow, and when?

Good morning, everyone, this is EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans. Hey, Boris.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, Christine. I'm Boris Sanchez in for Laura Jarrett. We are 31 minutes past the hour.

ROMANS: All right. This morning, the sign -- the surest signs yet that the pandemic that altered life as we know it will mean big changes well into the fall. Three western states now reinstating restrictions put in place early in this pandemic.

Most notable, California, where every county in the state will have to shut down bars, indoor dining, and other indoor activities. Thirty states with about 80 percent of California's population -- that's 32 million people -- face additional closures.

SANCHEZ: Yes. This move leaves a lot of uncertainty for millions of people.

A 72-year-old catering business that survived wars, recessions, and even the owner's heart transplant is struggling. Since no one is holding catered events, they cannot survive the pandemic.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As it kept going, you see the writing on the wall. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is no light at the end of the tunnel.

There is no timeline if you will. You don't know how long it's going to last.

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SANCHEZ: Yes, especially with images like these. Look at this chart. The past two weeks, coronavirus cases have increased 47 percent in California. Hospitalizations have almost doubled since the middle of June even though the rate of positive cases is down.

ROMANS: Now, California's two largest school districts will be entirely online when the new school year begins next month. This could have a domino effect for school officials still deciding what to do this fall even as the Trump administration aggressively pushes schools to return to full-time, in-person learning.

Our coverage begins with CNN's Nick Watt in Los Angeles.

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NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christine and Boris, massive news out of California.

The governor always said he would do this if the numbers got worse. He has made good on his promise. It could be a political risk -- we will see. But he has now closed every bar in California. He has also closed indoor dining in restaurants, and movie theaters, and zoos, and museums.

Also, if you live in one of the counties in this state, such as Los Angeles, that is on the governor's watch list because the numbers are particularly bad, then these things are also now closed down again.

NEWSOM: Fitness centers, places of worship, offices for non-critical sectors, personal care services. That includes hair salons, barbershops, and indoor malls. So again, these are sectors to close indoor operations.

WATT: Also, a huge announcement from the Los Angeles School District, the second-biggest district in the country -- more than 600,000 students. They say when students return at the end of August it will not be to classrooms. It will be online only. San Diego School District has said exactly the same thing.

They both say they will watch the numbers and when the public health situation allows it, then and only then will kids be back in classrooms.

And listen, as Gov. Newsom of California said, this virus is not going away anytime soon. Christine and Boris, back to you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SANCHEZ: Nick Watt, thank you for that.

[05:35:00]

There's no question that finances play a big role in the decisions to keep schools shuttered. San Diego faced a $90 million price tag for support staff and disinfecting procedures to open schools.

CNN has learned the White House wants to tie any new stimulus money for schools to their reopening. The administration has been told it can't withhold existing funding to bully schools into reopening.

ROMANS: Big cities like Atlanta, Nashville, and Las Vegas are already delaying the school year or starting virtually. Cities like Seattle, Chicago, and Miami still weighing their options.

In Miami, the medical indicators are bad. A staggering 28 percent of tests in Miami-Dade County yesterday were positive. Almost 200 employees from Jackson Health are currently out sick with COVID-19.

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DR. LILIAN ABBO, INFECTIOUS DISEASE EXPERT, JACKSON HEALTH SYSTEM: Miami is now the epicenter of the pandemic. What we were seeing in Wuhan six months ago -- five months ago -- now we are there. So we really need your help.

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SANCHEZ: There were more than 58,000 new cases reported in the U.S. on Monday and this complicates things. A leading lab, Quest Diagnostics, says the surge is causing a delay as long as seven days for turning around test results.

And, Christine, I've dealt with this personally. I was in Miami working, reporting during the Fourth of July weekend. I took a test that Sunday. I didn't get the results until last night.

And, obviously, that delay is a critical problem because people can be unknowingly spreading the virus as they wait for these results.

ROMANS: Right.

SANCHEZ: And look at this. Testing, of course, up in the U.S. last month, but cases are up much more.

ROMANS: Wow.

SANCHEZ: Meantime, the White House is carefully walking back criticism of Dr. Anthony Fauci. There was a coordinated effort to attack his credibility this weekend, noting that a White House official called Fauci's mistakes. Of course, the president, himself, has made several bad mistakes and false claims about the virus.

Now, a senior administration official admits the frustration does not stem from a lack of confidence in Dr. Fauci, saying this. Quote, "It's just the White House tired of getting media questions about their relationship with St. Anthony." ROMANS: And, Dr. Fauci has been finding ways to be heard as the White House keeps him off T.V. At a Webinar with the Stanford School of Medicine, he said the U.S. is seeing surges because it failed to entirely shut down.

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DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: All you needed to do was look at the films on T.V. of people in some states who went from shutdown to complete throwing caution to the wind.

This is a really serious problem. It is truly historic. We haven't even begun to see the end of it yet.

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ROMANS: Dr. Fauci also says there's no good answer to the question of whether the states or the federal government should lead the way on a pandemic response.

SANCHEZ: The U.S. military also seeing coronavirus cases spike about 60 percent in July. Military personnel and their dependents frequently interact with civilians and that increases the chances of exposure. Many military facilities are in some of the hardest-hit states like Texas, Florida, and California.

Armed forces stationed abroad in South Korea and Japan also seeing spikes in recent days. Ninety-eight U.S. military personnel and their families have been diagnosed across six U.S. bases in Japan since July 7th.

ROMANS: A record number of American workers have lost health care during the pandemic. A new study from Families USA finds more than five million workers lost insurance between February and May because of job loss. To put that into context, it took a year for nearly four million adults to lose their insurance during the Great Recession.

The analysis found there are more adults under 65 years old without insurance in southern states, the very places that are setting new records for coronavirus infections and hospitalizations.

The White House, of course, has tried repeatedly to roll back Obamacare, including just weeks ago. There's no plan to replace care for people who would lose it.

SANCHEZ: Breaking overnight, the Supreme Court clearing the way to resume federal executions for the first time in 17 years. The four liberal justices dissented.

Daniel Lewis Lee, this man, was scheduled to die by lethal injection yesterday in Indiana. A court order blocked the execution but the Supreme Court decision wipes that away.

Two more executions are scheduled this week.

ROMANS: Also breaking overnight, two shootings in the Seattle area.

In Bothell, Washington, at least two officers were injured and one was taken to the hospital. Police are searching for a suspect in an earlier shooting inside a Target store in Renton. A 15-year-old was wounded and hospitalized.

Bothell and Renton are about 20 miles apart. No known link at this point between those two shootings.

SANCHEZ: A closely-watched Senate runoff election today in Alabama. Former senator and attorney general Jeff Sessions facing former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville.

President Trump has thrown his support to Tuberville and continues to criticize Sessions. The president, of course, has not forgiven his former attorney general for recusing himself from the Mueller investigation.

[05:40:03]

The winner of today's GOP runoff faces the incumbent Democratic Sen. Doug Jones in November.

Stay with EARLY START. We'll be right back.

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DR. TEDROS ADHANOM, DIRECTOR, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: If the basics aren't followed, there is only one way this pandemic is going to go. It's going to get worse and worse and worse. I want to be straight with you. There will be no return to the old normal for the foreseeable future.

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SANCHEZ: A sobering warning from the World Health Organization.

But some countries struggling to contain the virus are still taking steps to reopen, including Brazil. Some universities and technical schools in Brazil's most populous state, Sao Paulo, are cleared to resume in-person classes if they're in cities that have been in phase yellow for more than 14 consecutive days. Yellow is the third of five phases in Brazil.

[05:45:06]

The country is reporting 260,000 new coronavirus cases in just the past seven days.

ROMANS: All right.

Less than a month after reopening, Hong Kong Disneyland is closing again after a surge in coronavirus. A spokesperson says the park will close temporarily, starting tomorrow. Hotels at the resort will remain open with adjusted levels of service.

Disney parks and resorts have been hit hard by the pandemic. It's most important resort, Disney World in Florida, just reopened this weekend despite a rapid surge of cases in Florida.

SANCHEZ: A story that's been overshadowed by the pandemic is a disastrous fuel spill in the Arctic. Twenty thousand tons of diesel spewing into the ocean. Russian authorities claim the spill is contained but a whistleblower tells a different story.

CNN's Frederik Pleitgen reports.

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FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): It was one of the worst chemical accidents in the history of the Arctic. At the end of May, a fuel tank near the city of Norilsk burst, releasing over 20,000 tons of diesel into nearby rivers.

Now, there are clear signs the Russian company responsible, mining giant Nornickel, is dragging its feet in dealing with the aftermath. The company quickly claimed the damage had been contained, saving a nearby lake, but whistleblower Vasily Ryabinin says that's not true.

VASILY RYABININ, WHISTLEBLOWER, ROSPRIRODNADZOR (through translator): It was such an obvious childish lie. I couldn't wrap my head around it. Obviously, I thought we must at least investigate the lake but my management had a different view.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): Ryabinin was working for Russia's state environmental regulator, Rosprirodnadzor, in Norilsk, at the time and was one of the first at the site the day of the disaster.

He took CNN to the spot where even more than a month later, puddles of diesel and gasoline streaks are still clearly visible and the water can literally be set on fire.

RYABININ (through translator): You can see that the fuel is still burning and puddles like these probably stretch all the way down the river and will be polluting it for a very long time.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): Activists say Nornickel tried to prevent them from independently investigating the water after the spill. But environmentalist Georgy Kavanosyan managed to sneak past the guards. What he found was shocking.

GEORGY KAVANOSYAN, ENVIRONMENTALIST (through translator): You can see the contamination levels are two to three times of what is allowed.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): Nornickel told CNN it is guided on the official data from local authorities, as well as satellite imagery that shows the border of the fuel spread, and continues the cleanup.

Rosprirodnadzor did not respond to CNN's request for comment.

The disaster also highlights a wider problem as Russia looks to industrialize the Arctic and exploit the vast natural resources here. Melting permafrost is accelerating corrosion of the often poorly- maintained infrastructure, making similar accidents more likely.

Some hoped the Norilsk disaster could turn out to be a watershed moment for environmental protection in Russia.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Berlin.

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ROMANS: All right, Fred, thank you for that.

Moments ago, China with a harsh response for the U.S. after the State Department announced it rejects most of China's territorial claims in the South China Sea.

CNN's Ivan Watson is live in Hong Kong with more. And the long list of disagreements between the U.S. and China just gets longer here -- everything from the mass incarceration of the Uyghur minority to fulfilling a trade deal, to the South China Sea claims.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. I mean, we've been watching the relationship between the world's two largest economies deteriorate throughout 2020.

The South China Sea has always been a bubbling source of tension. But the rhetoric has ramped up in just the last 24 hours after the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the Trump administration was taking a new position, which would be to consider China's claims to virtually all of this heavily-trafficked body of water -- about 1.3 million square miles -- to be illegal. And that the U.S. would view any Chinese action to harass fishermen, to harass hydrocarbon development as unlawful, as well.

Pompeo going on to use some tough words, saying that the world will not allow Beijing to treat the South China Sea as its maritime empire.

Now, the Chinese government has fired back. Just moments ago, the Foreign Ministry spokesperson calling the U.S. a troublemaker that seeks to undermine regional peace and stability, irresponsible, and neglecting history.

[05:50:05]

But the fact of the matter is this. There's a huge body of water. There are a number of other countries alongside it that have claims to territory there, including the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, and self-governing Taiwan.

I have flown with the U.S. Navy, in 2018, over the region and I've seen a network of islands that China has built up -- manmade islands to help lay claim to almost all of this body of water. And the U.S. is positioning itself as kind of a big brother to smaller countries against China, which kind of dwarfs all of these countries that have competing claims to this strategic sea -- Christine. ROMANS: It has been remarkable to watch. Almost the militarization of these -- of these shoals and these small islands so that China can try to make that claim.

All right, thank you so much for that. Ivan Watson for us.

SANCHEZ: Dozens of sexual assault allegations are rocking the prestigious St. Andrews University in Scotland. Several women say they were sexually assaulted on campus by members of the controversial U.S.-style fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi.

The claims were made anonymously on an Instagram page called "St. Andrews Survivors." The school says it's reached out to owners of the page to assist with counseling or reporting some of their claims.

ROMANS: Fox News host Tucker Carlson is publicly addressing the revelation his former head writer posted racist and sexist material in an online forum.

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TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST, "TUCKER CARLSON TONIGHT": What Blake wrote anonymously was wrong. We don't endorse those words. They have no connection to the show.

It is wrong to attack people for qualities they cannot control. But we should also point out to the ghouls now beating their chests in triumph for the destruction of a young man, that self-righteousness also has its costs. We are all human. When we pretend we are holy, we are lying.

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ROMANS: At the end of his show, Carlson announced he is heading on a long-planned vacation. There's a long tradition of Fox News anchors going on preplanned vacations when facing controversy.

SANCHEZ: The body of actress Naya Rivera has been recovered from a California lake. Rivera is believed to have drowned last week after going out on a boat with her 4-year-old son. Authorities say there is no sign of foul play.

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SHERIFF WILLIAM AYUB, VENTURE COUNTY, CALIFORNIA: The idea of perhaps being that the boat started drifting -- it was unanchored -- and that she mustered enough energy to get her son back onto the boat, but not enough to save herself.

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SANCHEZ: The 33-year-old was best known for her six seasons on the musical drama "GLEE." Cast members are mourning their former co-star.

Chris Colfer writes, quote, "How can you summarize a decade of friendship and laughter with words alone? If you were friends with Naya Rivera you simply can't."

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BROOK BURKE-CHARVET, HOST, "DANCING WITH THE STARS": Well, you're nothing (ph).

TOM BERGERON, HOST, "DANCING WITH THE STARS": I've seen the -- I've seen the models -- the mock-ups. My main concern is whether they'll still install my air conditioning duct.

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SANCHEZ: Tom Bergeron, the longtime host of T.V.'s "DANCING WITH THE STARS," will not be returning after 15 years. The producers say they are taking the dance competition series in a quote "new, creative direction." Co-host Erin Andrews also out.

Bergeron called his 15-year run, quote, "The most unexpected gift of my career."

ROMANS: All right, taking a look at markets around the world this Tuesday market -- morning, rather -- Asian markets are closed now. They closed lower. And, London, Paris, and Frankfurt have all opened down.

On Wall Street, taking a look at futures. At the moment, futures are moving up a little bit. You know, stocks surged and briefly turned positive for the year yesterday before they fizzled and closed lower.

The Dow had been up as much as 563 points during the day before ending up just 11. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq both closed lower.

But take a look at how stocks have performed during the pandemic. The longest bull market in history came to a screeching halt in March. Since then, stocks have rocketed back more than 40 percent.

China's exports and imports unexpectedly increased last month as countries began to reopen their economies. Exports rose half a percentage point; imports increased 2.7 percent. Exports of smartphones jumped as global consumers bought more electronics during the lockdown.

U.K.'s economy is slowly starting to rebound after the worst contraction on record. Data shows U.K. GDP grew 1.8 percent in May, still well below pre-pandemic levels.

I'd say, Boris, that, you know, we're in a very deep hole in these economies around the world and just starting to show signs of crawling out of it.

SANCHEZ: Yes, a lot to be concerned about.

But there is a bit to be happy about, too. We end on a very happy note this morning.

You notice Laura Jarrett is off today. Laura is celebrating a birthday, but not her birthday. Laura's son, James, turns one year old today. It has been quite a first year for James and mom and dad, to say the least.

And we hope that James has a great day. We hope Laura and her husband, Tony, are getting some much-deserved rest -- some sleep -- although we doubt it.

[05:55:06]

Happy birthday to James. Here is to many, many more.

ROMANS: I'll tell you, that first year is so exciting but lots more fun coming ahead -- I know.

All right, thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

SANCHEZ: And I'm Boris Sanchez. "NEW DAY" is next.

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NEWSOM: We are now requiring all counties to close their indoor activities, their indoor operations.

MAYOR SYLVESTER TURNER (D), HOUSTON: I do think we are going to need a shutdown. I am proposing two weeks.

FAUCI: This is a really serious problem. It is truly historic. We haven't even begun to see the end of it yet.

TRUMP: I have a very good relationship with Dr. Fauci. I don't always agree with him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look, if you're trying to get the public to believe a fantasy, then you have to discredit.

END