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Trump Warns Pandemic Will Worsen As 1,000 More Americans Die; China Says U.S. Abruptly Demanded Consulate In Houston Vacated; Oxford Vaccine Trial Faces Real Test In South Africa. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired July 22, 2020 - 05:30   ET




CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: No doctors, no plan, no strategy. The president returns to the podium alone warning of dark days ahead as the U.S. tops 1,000 deaths again, but offers no outline for how to beat the spread of the virus.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: And breaking just moments ago, China says the U.S. ordered a consulate in Houston vacated. Documents burned overnight. Another major escalation between warring superpowers.

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

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is 32 minutes past the hour this Wednesday morning.

And another grim milestone. The U.S. hit 1,000 deaths Tuesday but any White House plan to slow the pandemic was completely missing as the president resumed his coronavirus briefings. No doctors flanked him, either. Just Trump, still maintaining the virus will eventually disappear and stating the obvious.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Some areas of our country are doing very well; others are doing less well. It will probably, unfortunately, get worse before it gets better, something I don't like saying about things but that's the way it is. It's the way -- it's what we have.


JARRETT: It is now July and the president, for the first time, has decided to embrace wearing a mask for other people. He wasn't wearing one yesterday at the podium, just like Monday when he shared a photo of himself in a mask and then went to a Republican event at his own hotel without one.

So what comes next?


TRUMP: We are in the process of developing a strategy that's going to be very, very powerful. We've developed them as we go along.


ROMANS: So almost 142,000 Americans dead from a pandemic that's been raging for months and the plan is in process, the president says. No comprehensive national strategy on testing to report, but the president did have well-wishes for Ghislaine Maxwell, the former girlfriend of accused child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein.


TRUMP: I just wish her well, frankly. I've met her numerous times over the years, especially since I lived in Palm Beach and I guess they lived in Palm Beach. But I wish her well, whatever it is.


JARRETT: As for the pandemic, the president said no governor needs anything right now. Well, that would be news to many governors in both parties who are clamoring for more, better testing -- including California, which has now overtaken New York as the state with the most cases.

Remember in April when Trump said we'd soon be at five million tests a day and a group at Harvard challenged and called for 20 million tests per day? Well, in fact, the U.S. is now averaging about 780,000 tests a day. In other words, not enough.

A New York City health official put it this way.


JENNIFER RAKEMAN, LAB DIRECTOR, NEW YORK CITY PUBLIC HEALTH LABORATORY: We are working in a system that has been weakened by decreased funding and support, and we have had to rebuild as we respond. Test a big number is not a strategy and the "HUNGER GAMES" was not meant to be a public health policy document.


ROMANS: The CDC now says the number of people infected could be anywhere between two to 24 times more than the official number -- reported number of confirmed cases.

JARRETT: Well, despite a critical shortage in coronavirus testing supplies and real lags in turnaround times, the Trump administration is still sitting on billions of dollars in unused funds allocated by Congress months ago for testing and contact tracing.


There is an estimated $7-8 billion available right now and it's not clear yet if there's a reason for the holdup or if there were just delays pushing the billions of dollars where it's needed the most, Christine. But it's so bizarre. Our reporting suggests that it may be tied up at

the OMB level. These are obviously funds sitting in the Department of Health and Human Services to be used, and so the White House is actually pushing back on additional funds for testing because they're pointing to these billions of dollars.

ROMANS: When you look at the delays now in getting the results of the test, it makes it almost counterproductive, right? You've got eight- day delays, 10-day delays. Think of all the people that you come in contact within those days between testing and finding out whether you are -- you are positive or not.

I mean, they need to get this fixed and they're wasting time. It's just -- it's too far into the crisis to have money sitting untouched for testing and tracing.

JARRETT: Yes, it's really disturbing.

ROMANS: All right.

More trouble with young people flouting pandemic restrictions in the south and New Orleans is the latest city to announce its school year will begin online.

CNN has reporters across the country.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Randi Kaye in West Palm Beach, Florida where we're getting word of a block party a few days ago of more than 600 people. This took place in Palm Beach County in an area known as Pahokee.

Law enforcement said that people there were not wearing face coverings, they were not social distancing. That is certainly the rule here in the county, and you can't have gatherings of 10 or more. So now, the county administrator is considering putting in a curfew in that area of the county, not the county as a whole.


The state here at a real crossroads. Some of the numbers of COVID-19 looking pretty good. The high number of cases starting to come down. The retransmission rate -- if I get it, how many people do I give it to -- that's starting to come down as well.

But that positivity rate still very high. Arizona leading the country at about 23 percent of those who get tested test positive for the virus. That's over a seven-day period.

All of this as the state is wrestling with whether or not to open up schools in August. As much as parents want their kids back in school, many arguing that if you do that, all the gains that they've made -- these fragile gains they've made in the last couple of weeks will disappear if you shove tens of thousands of students and teachers into close quarters in classrooms.


A resurgence of coronavirus cases in the state of Louisiana is putting plans on reopening the economy there on hold. The governor, John Bel Edwards, says that the state will remain in the phase-two of reopening for at least the next two weeks because he's seen a surge of coronavirus cases across the state.

The governor, last week, issued a mask mandate order and health officials there in Louisiana are saying that, once again, that state is headed in the wrong direction.


The state of Vermont must be doing something right. Gov. Phil Scott says the state now has the lowest coronavirus case count in the country. There have been no deaths from COVID for 30 days and very few hospitalizations. Just three people admitted to hospitals on Monday.

There are no plans for a mask mandate anytime soon, the governor said, because the numbers aren't alarming enough to require one and because Vermonters are wearing masks on their own.

Meanwhile, colleges and universities are planning to have students back on campus in the fall.


JARRETT: Thanks to all of our correspondents for those updates.

Angry shoppers so infuriated at being asked to wear a mask in public have been threatening and harassing frontline workers in stores and restaurants. And because of those confrontations, home improvement giant Lowe's will not ask employees to enforce a new mask mandate.

"The Charlotte Observer" reports Lowe's is concerned workers will be put at risk by confronting their customers.

Lowe's has been requiring employees to wear masks since May.

ROMANS: Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden revealed the third leg of his "Build Back Better" economic platform. The focus here on the caregiving economy. The former vice president said the country is trapped in a caregiving crisis within an economic crisis, within a health care crisis.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: This is about easing the squeeze on working families who are raising their kids and caring for aged loved ones at the same time -- sometimes separate, but many times together.

It's about creating jobs with better pay and career pathways for caregivers, and showing them the dignity and respect that they deserve.


ROMANS: He wants tax credits for people who take care of children, seniors, and disabled people, and he wants thousands of new child care facilities.

He's already rolled out manufacturing and clean energy plans. The promise, altogether, to stimulate the economy, restore the jobs lost during the pandemic, and create millions of new jobs.

Biden's focus on caregivers comes as the evidence shows the recession is hurting women more than men. And the International Monetary Fund warns it could potentially undo years of progress for women if lawmakers don't act quickly.


JARRETT: Breaking overnight, the Chinese say they were served an eviction notice from a consulate in Houston. Documents burned overnight in yet another dramatic escalation as the U.S. and China battle over Hong Kong, Huawei, and so much more.

CNN's Ivan Watson is live for us in Hong Kong. Ivan, what more do we know about what happened here?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Laura, this does come as quite a surprise. The first indications that something was up were when Houston fire department and police were summoned to the Chinese consulate in that city, responding to reports of smoke. And local media were reporting that documents appeared to be being burned inside -- in the courtyard of that building.

Hours later, the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced and condemned what it says was an order from the U.S. government to immediately close that consulate.

Take a listen to what the Foreign Ministry spokesperson had to say.


WANG WENBIN, SPOKESPERSON, CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY (through translator): It is a political provocation unilaterally launched by the U.S. side, which seriously violates international law, basic norms governing international relations, and the bilateral consular agreement between China and the U.S.

China strongly condemns such an outrageous and unjustified move, which will sabotage China-U.S. relations.


WATSON: Now, the State Department spokesperson, Morgan Ortagus said according to the pool (ph) -- she has said that, in fact, the U.S. has quote "directed the closure of the consulate general in Houston in order to protect American intellectual property and American's private information."

So it does appear that this has happened. It is clearly another sign of the rapidly deteriorating relationship between the world's two largest economies.

And frankly, here as a reporter in Hong Kong, we're having a hard time keeping up with the new sanctions and measures, and criticism being lobbed from Washington at Beijing on pretty much a daily basis.

We do not know if this decision has been linked to the unsealing of a Department of Justice indictment against two Chinese hackers, on Tuesday, who were accused of breaking into American companies and trying to steal intellectual property with the accusation that this has been a state-backed operation done out of the Chinese city of Guangdong.

Beijing has threatened to retaliate, arguing that there are more U.S. consulates and diplomatic staff in China than there are Chinese diplomats in the U.S. -- Laura.

JARRETT: A lot of questions here, Ivan. Thank you so much for your reporting, as usual.

We'll be right back.



ROMANS: All right.

There were promising results this week from the Oxford vaccine trial. The first indicators of whether it will work could come from South Africa where it's being put to the test in the middle of a coronavirus surge.

CNN's David McKenzie is live in Johannesburg. And it's fascinating -- I mean, they're having to race to find people who aren't infected with the virus that can participate in the study.

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Laura, you're right. This really is a race against time given the surge of cases here in South Africa.

You know, the Trump administration has put more than $1 billion to find a vaccine in what it calls "Warp Speed" -- but many say it will be global cooperation. And a vaccine trial just a few miles from where I'm sitting could be a key in the fight to find a vaccine.


MATT HANCOCK, U.K. HEALTH SECRETARY: The Oxford vaccine produces a strong immunity response in patients.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): It was the announcement he was hoping for --

MCKENZIE (on camera): This isn't it, right?


MCKENZIE (voice-over): -- but the head of South Africa's arm of the Oxford study is far from comforted.

MADHI: That's what keeps me awake at night --

MCKENZIE (on camera): How?

MADHI: -- that we're doing the study first on an African continent, but we bring it in the midst of a pandemic.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was vaccinated two weeks ago.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): Madhi's team is testing the same experimental vaccine in the middle of a COVID-19 storm where even finding enough negative volunteers to make up their 2,000 participant study is a challenge.

MADHI: It might well be that we fail -- not because the vaccine doesn't work in protecting people, but simply because the force of exposure is so tremendous. So this is really going to test the mettle of this vaccine.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): South Africa's number of confirmed cases now ranks among the highest in the world. What happens here over the next few weeks, the WHO warns, is a troubling marker of what the rest of the continent could face.

MADHI: And we could experience multiple waves of an outbreak for the next two to three years. So the thing that's going to probably break the back of this pandemic at the end of the day, not just in South Africa but globally, is a vaccine.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): In just the last few weeks, nurse Neliswa Zozi has seen colleagues fall ill -- family, too.

NELISWA ZOZI, NURSE, VACCINE TRIAL: So by doing this, for me, it means a lot because we are not only trying for the community, we are trying for our lives also, for our families also.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): Her hours here at the trial site are long. The same for the team inside the lab, working seven days a week, 16 hours a day. But no one is doubting their sense of purpose as cases surge -- all the potential payoff when the South African results are expected to be released in November.

MADHI: If this vaccine works under these circumstances in South Africa, then this vaccine would work anywhere.

MCKENZIE (on camera): It's high risk-high reward.

MADHI: Exactly.

(END VIDEOTAPE) [05:50:00]

MCKENZIE: What's extraordinary going inside that arm of the vaccine trial and really, you see the level of effort being placed in here by scientists in South Africa and, of course, across the world. But they're accelerating the search by such a degree. What should take five-20 years, they're trying to do in a matter of months and they say it's really like running a marathon at the pace of a sprint -- Christine.

ROMANS: All these public health officials working with such urgency. We hope -- we certainly hope for the best there. Thank you so much for that.

JARRETT: All right, we turn now to Chicago where at least 14 people were injured in a shooting at a funeral home. Police say someone in a speeding car opened fire on the funeral attendees last night. Some people at the funeral also returned fire.

Police have no motive for the shooting but are interviewing a person of interest.

Homicides in Chicago are up close to 50 percent compared to this time last year.

And, Mayor Lori Lightfoot now says the city will cooperate with the Trump administration, which plans to send in federal agents to help fight violent crime. It's a change in tune from earlier this week when she initially said federal resources were not welcome in this city. The mayor now says the agents will work with those already there and will be vigilant about abuses of power.

ROMANS: The Republican governor of Ohio is calling on the state's House Speaker, also a Republican, to resign. Larry Householder and four other operatives were arrested in connection with a $60 million bribery scheme.

They allegedly accepted money from a company believed to be FirstEnergy Corporation in return for a pubic bailout worth more than $1 billion. A spokesman for FirstEnergy says the company is cooperating with investigators.

JARRETT: A lot of work went into this smuggling scam. Police in Italy discovered cocaine hidden inside hundreds of individually hollowed-out coffee beans. The shipment from Colombia was stopped at an airport in Milan. Customs officers detected the suspicious package, which was addressed to a fictional mafia boss from the movie "John Wick."

ROMANS: All right.

Taking a look at markets around the world this Wednesday morning, Asian shares are all closed for the day and a mixed performance there. Europe opening lower here.

On Wall Street, futures at this hour are down just a little bit. Stocks closed mixed Tuesday. The Dow finished up. The Nasdaq, which hit a record high Monday, fell slightly.

A new survey shows counties across America are paying a big price for the pandemic. Seventy-one percent have cut or delayed capital investment and 68 percent have cut services such as public safety and health services.

Judy Shelton is President Trump's controversial pick for the Federal Reserve board and she cleared the Senate Banking Committee Tuesday. Shelton has been an advocate for returning to the gold standard, for interest rate cuts. She's even spoken of abolishing the Fed.

Some Republicans expressed concerns during her confirmation hearing earlier this year about her previous writings, but all of the GOP members of the committee voted to move her forward.

All right, the layoffs just keep coming. LinkedIn cutting roughly six percent of its global workforce as the pandemic continues to take a toll on the recruiting market. Companies cutting jobs and freezing hiring, there's less need for LinkedIn.

And the owner of Men's Wearhouse plans to close 500 stores and lay off 20 percent of its corporate staff. Even as stores reopen, demand for suits, of course, has declined sharply.

Walmart will spend $428 million in another round of special bonuses for its employees working through the pandemic. The new bonus is the third Walmart has given out this year.

Unions and Democrats argue workers should be given wage increases for the added risk of working during the pandemic -- wage increases instead of bonuses.

Walmart also announced it will close stores on Thanksgiving Day for the first time in more than 30 years, Laura. So, Thanksgiving Day with no shopping.

JARRETT: No surprise there.

Well, a very special Amazon delivery for a cancer patient in South Carolina. After seeing a note that said Carlos Pagan couldn't answer the door, the Amazon driver, named Antonio, left the package and came back later with flowers and a card. And he kept coming back to make sure Carlos was OK.


CARLOS PAGAN, CANCER PATIENT: And he said you know, I just wanted to do something because I lost my mother and my grandmother last year to cancer --


JARRETT: The two --


PAGAN: -- and it really hit home with me.


JARRETT: The two men met through a window, shared stories, and bonded.

ROMANS: Oh, wow, that's great.

The pandemic forced John Nicotera to scrap his initial plan for proposing to his girlfriend, Erica, but plan B was out of this world. A friend captured these amazing shots of the proposal while the New York couple was watching the rare NEOWISE comet in the sky. Oh, that's awesome.

The comet will be in the sky for another day and it won't come around again for 6,800 years.

Isn't that awesome?

JARRETT: Wow. You know, people have really got to up their proposal game now with that one.

ROMANS: I know, he wins.

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

JARRETT: I'm Laura Jarrett. "NEW DAY" is next.




TRUMP: It will probably, unfortunately, get worse before it gets better. We are in the process of developing a strategy that's going to be very, very powerful.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No real recognition of this massive surge and no indication that he's feeling any urgency to make a plan.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For the first time in weeks, the daily death toll here in the United States surpassed 1,000 people.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): He recognized the mistakes that he has made and clearly, it is the Trump virus.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: California has surpassed New York as the U.S. state with the highest number of infections.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D), CALIFORNIA: We have to minimize the transmission of this disease.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman. JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Wednesday, July 22nd. It's 6:00 here in New York.