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Coronavirus Record Broken Again, White House Report Hints at Trouble Ahead; Trump Turns White House Event Into Campaign-Style Rally -- Again; U.S. and Allies Accuse Russia of Trying to Steal Vaccine Research; Report: 15 Women Accuse Washington Staffers of Harassment; NCAA President Offers Bleaks Diagnosis for College Football. Aired 5- 5:30a ET

Aired July 17, 2020 - 05:00   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: For the ninth time in a month, the U.S. sets a new coronavirus case record and an unpublished report from the White House task force shows they know stricter measures are needed.

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 Friday, July 17th. Five a.m. here in New York.

Dr. Anthony Fauci told us two weeks ago that we could soon reach 100,000 coronavirus cases a day. It seemed hard to believe then. Not so much now.

Overnight, the U.S. has set another record. Over 77,000 cases in a single day. It's the ninth time in the last month the record has been broken. Seventy-seven cases is five times more than all of Europe, which has more than doubled the population.

Just four months ago, the United States had 5,000 cases and 100 deaths, and the president told the country a course correction was needed.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If everyone makes this change or these critical changes and sacrifices now, we will rally together as one nation and we will defeat the virus and we're going to have a big celebration all together.


ROMANS: But he failed to make those critical changes and sacrifices like wearing a mask, and then he pressured governors to reopen, which they did. Now hospitalizations have climbed back near the high watermark set in April. The Trump administration knows this situation is not sustainable. An unpublished report by the Coronavirus Task Force has been obtained

by the Center for Public Integrity. That report recommends at least 18 hard hit states enact stricter measures such as masks, limits on gatherings and increased testing.

JARRETT: Those states include California, Florida, Texas, and Georgia where Governor Brian Kemp is suing the mayor to block her mask mandate. He claims the local rule violates his emergency orders. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who is battling COVID-19 herself, responded with a tweet, quote: Reading is fundamental, she says, pointing to guidelines from the advisory council on reopening in Atlanta.

Other leaders in Georgia are standing by the mayor.


MAYOR VAN JOHNSON (D), SAVANNAH, GEORGIA: I was furious. I was absolutely at a loss for words because here we are fighting to get in front of coronavirus. We're doing the best that we can day in and day out against increasing odds and then not only are we fighting coronavirus on one hand, it appears as if we're fighting our state on the other hand.


ROMANS: The death toll in this country is also spiking nearly 1,000 a day, 156 of them in Florida on Thursday. Coronavirus cases forced the state's emergency operations center to shut down. Miami hospitals are at 95 percent capacity. The mayor says a stay at home order could come soon.


MAYOR FRANCIS SUAREZ (R), MIAMI: We are very, very close to that point and we're consulting with, of course, our hospital administrators to determine what kind of hospital capacity we have. We're faced with making these tough decisions in the next few days if things don't improve radically.


ROMANS: Thirty-nine states now have mask requirements of some kind that now includes Arkansas where another prominent governor has embraced the science.


GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON (R), ARKANSAS: This whole fight against COVID-19 is likely to get harder and not easier and we have to meet the challenge together and everyone must do their part.


JARRETT: Asymptomatic community spread among young people appears to be driving this surge. Dr. Anthony Fauci once again trying hard to educate in the role in spreading this disease. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: You can get the mindset, well, listen, if I'm infected, I don't know I'm infected, that I'm not feeling sick, who cares? I'm not bothering anybody else.

That is incorrect, because by allowing yourself to get infected, you are propagating the pandemic.


JARRETT: College sports this fall are now in jeopardy. The NCAA president Mark Emmert says we need to get a much better handle on the pandemic to play the game safely.

ROMANS: All right. President Trump turning a White House event into a campaign-style speech. On Thursday, faced with record coronavirus cases and now rising deaths, the president was focused on reform, dishwasher reform.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Dishwashers, you didn't have any water so the people that do the dishes, you press it and it goes again and you do it again and again. So you might as well give them the water because you'll end up using less water. So we made it so dishwashers now have a lot more water.


ROMANS: The president was ostensibly attacking water preservation rules. It was another of a long list of seemingly self-defeating moments for this president. And it's reflected in the polls.

Look at the numbers from March compared to today. In three states ravaged by coronavirus, Joe Biden leapfrogged the president or maintained his lead in three critical swing states where the president was already losing. The deficit essentially doubled.

JARRETT: Well, the CDC is delaying the release of additional guidance on reopening schools. The agency tells CNN information is not ready yet. The White House has tried to bury CDC guidance on reopening the country before.

President Trump, of course, wants schools to open even though many districts are resisting him. Dallas is the latest city to delay opening buildings. Just yesterday, the White House press secretary tried to make the case that science is on the side of opening schools.


KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He says open, he means open in full, kids being able to attend each and every day at their school. The science should not stand in the way of this.


JARRETT: McEnany cited a reputable study that shows coronavirus poses less of a risk to children than the seasonal flu. But, of course, the real risk that many experts are worried about is that children will spread COVID to older relatives or their teachers.

ROMANS: All right. The coronavirus pandemic has created a nightmare scenario for farmers, just as restaurants try to reopen the surge in coronavirus cases, now has forced some states have to roll back or pause reopening plans. That puts farmers back in limbo, makes it really hard to plan ahead. One farmer told CNN he is sitting on a surplus of 24,000 eggs and has no idea if or when things will stabilize.

Planning, of course, is essential to America's farmers because they have to anticipate customers' demands months ahead of it. It's impossible when restaurants are struggling to even open their doors. Data shows from March to May, restaurant sales were $94 billion below expected levels, $94 billion.

And many farmers are now supporting something called the Restaurants Act. This is a bill sponsored by Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker which will dedicate $120 billion in aid for independent bars and restaurants through the end of the year, Laura.

JARRETT: Well, still ahead, hackers with ties to Russian intelligence accused of trying to steal Western vaccine research on coronavirus.

CNN is live in Moscow, next.


ROMANS: The race to develop a coronavirus vaccine is a global effort, but the U.S. and its allies say hackers associated with Russian intelligence are trying to steal vaccine research.

CNN's Matthew Chance is live in Moscow with more.

This is a pretty serious charge. What are Russians saying?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR IONTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Christine. It's absolutely extraordinary allegation that Russia is engaged -- Russians spies have been engaged in hacking organizations trying to find a vaccine for coronavirus in the United States, in Britain and in Canada as well. But that's the allegation being made by the security agencies of all of those countries.

What they're saying is that a hacking group, which they called Cozy Bear, we've heard of it before in the context of 2016 presidential election, but Cozy Bear basically sort of identified vulnerable systems uploading malware into those computers and then downloaded files from infected machines. So, extremely serious.

The Kremlin, as you might expect when they're confronted with any kind of allegations of wrongdoing, they always categorically deny it. They've done it this time. A statement from the Kremlin spokesperson saying essentially Russia has nothing to do with these attacks. He also went on to reject any allegations that Russia has been involved in tampering or meddling in the British general election in 2019. There's also an allegation that came out against Russia yesterday.

Now, security agencies say that despite these attacks, there was no hampering of the effort to find the vaccines. No actual damage was done according to security officials. But, you know, obviously, anything to do with research to do with coronavirus right now is extremely sensitive. The whole world is trying to find effective treatments for it.

Russia is amongst those countries. Got one of the highest rates of coronavirus infections in the world, 750,000. It's plowed massive national resources into finding its own vaccine that Russian officials are saying these allegations of spying are merely an attempt to tarnish the Russian vaccine effort. The Russian vaccine, they say, could be the first in the world -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Matthew Chance for us this morning from Moscow, thank you.

JARRETT: Well, just days after Chuck Woolery accused everyone of lying about coronavirus, the former game show host announced his son has tested positive for the virus. You'll recall President Trump retweeted Woolery's comments about the whole pandemic being a hoax.

On Thursday, Woolery's tweet was very different. To further clarify and add perspective, he says, COVID-19 is real and it is here. My son tested positive for the virus and I feel for those suffering, especially for those who have lost loved ones. Woolery has since deleted his Twitter account.

Coming up for you, Washington football team now under a microscope, and not because of its name at this time. A damning new report detailing harassment from top executives. Will owner Dan Schneider pay a price?



JARRETT: New mask mandates at major retail chains now, and with New York City about to enter a phase 4 of reopening, the governor is taking a hard line on enforcement violations.

CNN reporters are covering the pandemic coast to coast.


ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Erica Hill in New York where Governor Andrew Cuomo said he is cracking down on restaurants and bars, calling it a "three strikes and you're closed" rule. This in response to complaints that many bars and restaurants around the state, specifically in the down state area, have not been complying with social distancing and other reopening regulations. So, three strikes the business has to close, but if there are egregious violations in the words of the governor, they could lose their liquor license immediately.



Texas health officials reporting 129 people have died of coronavirus, that is a record single day high. And we've now seen more than 10,000 new coronavirus cases being reported for three days in a row. The positive infection rate remains around 17 percent, which is almost quadrupled in the last month and a half. The state of New York is sending help here to this state.

New York is setting up two testing sites at Houston area churches that could test to about 1,000 people per day, mostly in minority communities.


Arizona Governor Doug Ducey is warning residents that there's no end in sight for the worst days of the pandemic here. At the press conference, he wore a mask, urged all Arizonans to wear a mask and even set up a program to give mask away for free, but he continues to decline to set up a statewide mask mandate. That leaves Arizona a patchwork of mask rules, with some places requiring them and some places keeping them optional.


Grocery store chain Publix became the latest retailers to require masks. It joins Walmart, Kroger, CVS and Target, that have all made announcements in the last 48 hours alone. Soon, Americans around the country will not be able to go to a big brand shopping unless they have a mask. The rising amount of coronavirus cases really forced retailers to step in in the absence of a sweeping federal regulation.


ROMANS: All right. More than a dozen women accused staff members of Washington's NFL team of sexual harassment and verbal abuse.

Andy Scholes has more on this morning's "Bleacher Report".

What's this about, Andy?

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Christine.

Well, 15 former female employees and two journalists who covered the team, they're speaking to "The Washington Post" detailing allegations of sexual harassment and verbal abuse. "The Post" says it conducted interviews with more than 40 current and former employees. Now some of the accusations involve team executives. Team owner Daniel Snyder and former team president Bruce Allen, they were not directly implicated in the allegations, though, Snyder is criticized for fostering a culture where the behavior was permitted.

Some of the accusers told "The Post" they had signed nondisclosure agreements and feared they could face litigation if their names were used in the report. The team referred CNN to its comments to "The Post" saying they have hired a law firm to conduct a thorough independent review of this entire material and helped the team set new employee standards for the future.

All right. Elsewhere in sports, NCAA president Mark Emmert admits that college sports are in danger this fall because of the continued spread of COVID-19. In its statement outlining guidelines to limit the spread of the virus, Emmert added today sadly the data point the wrong direction. If there's to be college sports in the fall, we need to get a much better handle on the pandemic.

Big Ten PAC-12 have already canceled all non-conference football games with the ACC, SEC and Big 12 all set to make decisions by the end of the month.

All right. With training camp fast approaching, the NFL Players Association revealed that 72 players have tested positive for COVID- 19. Tough to know the percentage of players who have had it because the union did not report how many players had undergone testing. The NFL still does not have a return to play plan in place, and that's frustrating for many players like J.J. Watt.

Yesterday, the Texans star tweeted a list of things that players know and don't know regarding the upcoming NFL season. He said the players still don't know how often they'll be tested, how someone testing positive will affect the team and if there's going to be any preseason games at all. Watt started and ended that list with "we want to play".

All right. The NBA's bubble, meanwhile, continues to operate as planned. The Bucks Eric Bledsoe tested positive before heading to Orlando. He says he's asymptomatic and looking forward to joining his team once he meets the NBA protocols.

And we may not see Zion Williamson in action when the season resumes. The Pelicans say Zion left the bubble for an urgent family matter. If his absence lasts seven days or fewer, Williamson will quarantine for four days upon his return to the bubble. If he has a negative test each day he's outside the bubble, and Zion was supposed to be in that very first game back, Laura, on July 30th.

Lots of fans excited to see him play. But here's hoping he can handle that urgent family member and get back to the NBA bubble there in Orlando.

JARRETT: Of course, we wish him the best. I know everyone is excited to see him play.


Andy, nice to see you.


JARRETT: All right. Stricter measures are clearly needed to contain the coronavirus right now. An unpublished report from the White House Task Force proves it. The U.S. case count rocketing again overnight to another new record.


JARRETT: For the ninth time in a month the U.S. sets a new coronavirus case record. An unpublished report from the White House Task Force shows they know stricter measures are needed.