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Key Points Resolved on Stimulus Deal; California Grapples with Rapidly Climbing COVID Cases; Will Beijing Retaliate for Closing of China's Houston Consulate?; Nationals Open Title Against Yankees Tonight. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired July 23, 2020 - 05:00   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Senate Republicans and the White House mostly resolve their differences on a much-needed stimulus deal. More stimulus checks, funding for schools and billions for testing which the president calls overrated.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: And 119 days after the planned opening day, a shortened Major League Baseball season finally gets underway today.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is EARLY START. I'm Laura Jarrett.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Christine Romans. It is Thursday, July 23rd, it is 5:00 a.m. in New York.

Republican senators in the White House reached a deal on the key parts of their stimulus package. The deal could be released today.

Here's what we know. It includes $105 billion for schools without holding back money from schools that need to stay closed. It includes 25 billion in funding for testing. It's something the White House has objected to.

The talks come at the critical moment, the key lifetime for millions of Americans at extra $600 a week in enhanced unemployment benefits.

That expires at the end of the month. The White House raised the possibility of a short-term extension of those benefits but Senate Republican leadership rejected the idea.

Locking in funding level marks a step forward, but it only serves as a piece of the GOP's trillion dollar proposal, which will include another ground of stimulus checks, likely targeted to lower income families. Another round of paycheck protection program loans for struggling small businesses. The Senate Republicans will have to start negotiations with House Democrats. They already passed their own $3 trillion proposal back in May.

JARRETT: Well, while Washington hashes out the details on the stimulus, there were more than 1,000 deaths from the coronavirus reported in the U.S. again on Wednesday. It's the first time that has happened two days in a row since late way.

The governors of Indiana, Ohio and Minnesota have now added or expanded face mask orders. There are now at least mandates for face masks at least 40 states. In California, the number of people hospitalized keeps rising, only compounding that problem that force the states to put the brakes on reopening recently, fearing the trend won't let up.

Governor Gavin Newsom says he's working to secure more personal protective equipment.

CNN's Nick Watt has more now from Los Angeles.


NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Laura and Christine, the good news out of L.A. is that we will not be going back to a stay-at- home order this week. Anyway, the cases are rising, but county authorities say there is still capacity in the hospitals.

Now, the bad news is that COVID-19 is in L.A. becoming one of the leading causes of death, killing more people now than Alzheimer's, strokes, COPD, and also in a six-month period killed twice as many people as the flu killed in an eight-month period.

Now, California in general, a record setting day, 12,807 new cases reported in a 24-hour period. As the governor also say that it is preposterous that some test results here are still taking 14 days to come back. He says that means they're utterly meaningless because you can't find a person who's infected and quarantine them so they don't spread it around.

So, he wants better testing, and like everybody wants us all to wear our masks.

Laura and Christine, back to you.


JARRETT: All right, Nick, thank you so much for that.

White House staffers are being urged not to panic after a new COVID case was found there. A cafeteria worker in the White House complex has tested positive. Meantime, President Trump is still downplaying the need for better testing, despite weeks of data showing the rise in coronavirus cases far outpacing the growth in testing.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Every time you test, you find a case and it gets reported in the news, we found more cases. Instead of 50, we did 25. We'd have half the number of cases. So I personally think it's overrated but I am totally willing to keep doing it.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROMANS: He says testing is overrated. But, again, the new stimulus plan calls for $25 billion in testing including the billions that remain unused. The president has labored to explain that more testing is behind rising case numbers. But in reality, the percentage of people testing positive has climbed since Memorial Day.

One of White House's own top doctors, Deborah Birx, confirmed yesterday the best indicator of how well a state is doing in this pandemic is the rate of positive tests.

JARRETT: Well, a major agreement has been reached between the federal government and Pfizer. The U.S. has agreed to pay the drugmaker nearly $2 billion to produce 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine in the United States.

Now, that's only if the vaccine proves safe and effective in trials. The deal also allows the government to acquire an additional 500 million doses.


The vaccine has shown promising preliminary results in patients so far, though further testing is obviously needed, and more potential vaccines are being studied.


ALEX AZAR, HHS SECRETARY: We now have five major investments in vaccine portfolios. And we're going to keep looking for additional ones if need be but this Pfizer one that's really historic, as Meg described it.


JARRETT: That was Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar who says the vaccine sponsored by the government will be free, or at least affordable. The administration still faces thorny issues, though, like deciding who is first in line for a vaccine. How to secure the millions of glass vials and syringes needed to administer it and, of course, convincing Americans to get the shot once it's available.

ROMANS: All right. Overnight, the Portland City Council promised to end cooperation between local police and federal authorities. The White House has ordered federal agents to tamp down protests in that city.

Last night, tensions flared again with Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler joining demonstrators in the streets. Reaction was mixed after he told them to go home earlier this week.

President Trump announced yesterday he plans to surge federal law enforcement officers to Chicago and other American cities in an effort to portray Democrats as weak on crime ahead of the November election.


TRUMP: My first duty as president is to protect the American people. And today, I'm taking action to fulfill that sacred obligation.


JARRETT: The federal intervention, though, is drawing a broad backlash. Listen to former Republican secretary of homeland security.


TOM RIDGE, FORMER SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: I'm disappointed in my president, because it seems like it's a reality TV approach toward dealing with a very, very serious problem. I doubt if there's a Republican or Democrat today, mayor or governor, that wouldn't contest unilateral incursion of federal agents without coordination with state and local law enforcement officials.


JARRETT: There has been a significant rise in violent crime in several major cities and Attorney General William Barr says it's in part to the reaction of the death of George Floyd.


BILL BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL: We had that terrible event in Minneapolis, but then we had this extreme reaction that has demonized police and called for the defunding of police departments.


JARRETT: It is important to note that violence in many of these cities was rising well before Floyd's death. The president and Chicago's mayor spoke last night, Lori Lightfoot, says her city will not allow, quote, a bunch of federal agents to pluck people off the streets. And she says, quote, we stand ready to fight against that.

JARRETT: Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, calling President Trump the first racist to ever become president. His remarks coming at a virtual town hall in response to an Asian health care who told him she has been racially profiled by white Americans at the supermarket.

Biden blamed the president, accusing him of spreading racism.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: No sitting president has ever done this. Never, never, never. No Republican president has done this. No Democratic president.

We've had racists, and they've existed. They've tried to get elected president. He's the first one that has.


JARRETT: The glaring problem with that framing by Biden is that the U.S. has elected 12 presidents who owned slaves, not to mention what those men said publicly and no doubt privately.

In response yesterday at the White House, Trump didn't mention those facts. But in response to Biden said, quote, I've done more for black Americans than anybody with the possible exception of Abraham Lincoln.

ROMANS: Later this morning, Biden breaks out the biggest weapon in his political arsenal.


BIDEN: You can imagine standing up when you're a president saying it's not my responsibility? I take no responsibility -- I mean, literally --

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: No words didn't come out of our mouths while we were in office.



ROMANS: Barack Obama teaming one his former VP for a socially distant conversation that doubles as a campaign ad. In clips, the pair expressed disbelief at how President Trump has handled the pandemic, while Obama also touted Biden's readiness to lead and to reassemble the kind of government that cares about people. The full video comes out later this morning.

JARRETT: Still ahead, the FBI now says China is harboring a fugitive with links to the Chinese military in San Francisco. Beijing still weighing retaliation after the U.S. ordered the closure of a consulate in Texas.



JARRETT: Well, at any moment, China could announce retaliation for the U.S. decision to close the Chinese consulate in Houston, Texas. The Trump administration accuses Beijing of spying. The eviction led to document burning at the Houston consulate, and follows a series of contentious disputes between the two countries.


MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: And this has been going on for a long time makes our point. President Trump has said enough.


JARRETT: Overnight, CNN has learned China is also harboring a fugitive scientist with links to the Chinese military at its consulate in San Francisco.

CNN's Kristie Lu Stout is live for us in Hong Kong.

And, Kristie, what more do you know about what that possible retaliation by Beijing might look like?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know, the diplomatic relationship between China and the U.S. is under serious strain. China is vowing to retaliate, we're closely watching developments at the Chinese consulate in San Francisco, U.S. prosecutors are seeking a Chinese scientist accused of visa fraud. They say she lied about her links to the Chinese military and is hiding out inside the Chinese consulate in San Francisco.

Now, within the last hour or so, there was a statement from the spokesman of ministry of foreign affairs in Beijing, no concrete retaliatory measures were announced but he did say this.


Let's bring up the statement for you, quote: This is a blatant political persecution. We urge the United States to stop using any excuses to limit and harass and crack down on Chinese scholars and students in the U.S. China will use necessary measures to firmly safeguard legitimate rights and safety of Chinese citizens in the U.S., unquote.

Now, on Wednesday, Beijing vowed to retaliate after the forced closure of the Chinese consulate Houston. We've been monitoring Chinese state media which is due to the possibility of China closing down one of America's consulates in China.

Now, the U.S. State Department has said the reason why they announced the closure of the Chinese consulate in Houston was in order to protect American intellectual property as well as Americans' private information.

Now, this comes days after that indictment was unsealed with the U.S. charging two Chinese hackers in a sweeping espionage and cyber crime campaign that they say was backed by Beijing into COVID-19 research. It's not clear whether these two episodes are linked, but all of this resulting in just a ratcheting up of tension as we wait to see exactly how China will strike back.

JARRETT: Yes, certainly, a lot swirling all at once. Thanks for staying on top of it for us.


ROMANS: All right. The latest arena for the growing U.S.-China rivalry is Mars. (AUDIO GAP) just hours ago, China's Tianwen-1 blasted off on the country's first solo mission to the Red Planet.

NASA is set to launch its Perseverance rover next week. Perseverance would be the seventh probe. NASA has landed on Mars and the fourth rover. Both probes are expected to reach Mars in February 2021.

All right. By this time tomorrow, we'll have actual sports highlights. The Yankees and Nationals take the field tonight. But one team is still looking for a place to play.



ROMANS: All right. A long awaited 2020 Major League Baseball season gets under way tonight. But one team is still scrambling to find a new ballpark to call home.

Coy Wire has more on this morning's "Bleacher Report."

Hi, Coy.


Nobody loves us says the Blue Jays of Toronto, denied being able to play games at their home ballpark when Canadian officials said over the weekend that teams crossing the U.S./Canada border all year long would be unsafe.

Well, the team tried to make a deal with the Pirates to share Pittsburgh's PNC park, but they were denied by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf and the state health officials who cited an increase in COVID-19 cases in that part of the state. The county exec, though, seemed to be on board with the idea.



RICH FITZGERALD, ALLEGHENY COUNTY EXECUTIVE: I think, conditionally, we were probably kind of okay. Kind of, I say. Not 100 percent, because anytime you bring an activity like that, there's going to be some risk.

But, obviously, the governor and his team, Secretary Levine, decided that the plans they looked at or the mitigating strategies or risks or something, that they just didn't feel comfortable doing it.


WIRE: So, for now, they are nomads. But Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins says he's very confident the team will find a home field. And he says they have, quote, well over five contingency plans, unquote. But the clock it ticking. Just six days away.

Speaking of the champs, they get things started against the Yankees tonight in D.C., without fans. The Nats, they're looking to become the first team to win back-to-back championships since the Bronx Bombers did so back 20 years ago. Nationals super fan, Dr. Anthony Fauci, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch. Two-timer Ryan Zimmerman has advice for the nation's top infectious disease expert.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NIAID: I'm quite nervous about it.

RYAN ZIMMERMAN, FIRST BASEMAN: OK. Well, don't worry about it, if you bounce it, there's nobody there to boo you. So, you'll be good to go. You're fine. So, this is the perfect first pitch. You're good.


WIRE: Go, Doc, go.

All right. The NBA tipping off its first competition in more than four months. The league holding scrimmages inside the Orlando bubble yesterday.

And things looked a little different -- Plexiglas around the scores, tables, social distancing friendly bench area, coaches and staff members will wear masks, and some of the players will wear during warm-ups as well. The regular season set to restart with 22 teams one week from today.

Finally, if you want to go see an NFL game this season, you better remember to bring a mask. The league says it will enforce a mandate league-wide that will supersede any local policies, meaning that you could be turned away at the gate even if your city doesn't require you to wear a mask.

So far, there's no league-wide policy regarding fans in the stands during the pandemic. So, it's been up to individual clubs for the most part. For example, the Atlanta Falcons just announced yesterday they will allow just 10,000 to 20,000 fans season ticketholders only, Laura.

But then you have the New York Jets and Giants who share a stadium in New Jersey, they can't have any fans as the governor there signed an executive order effectively prohibiting fans from attending any games until further notice. So, it's a wait and see and a lot of sitting on couches football fans so far this season.

JARRETT: Yes, I'm sure the fans that do get to go are very happy about it. Seems like the mask is a small price to pay for being there.

WIRE: That's it.

JARRETT: Good to see you, Coy. Thanks.

WIRE: You too.

JARRETT: The president thinks the coronavirus testing is overrated and yet, a new stimulus deal between the White House and Senate Republicans calls for $25 billion for testing money. Well, I'll tell you what else is in the deal.



JARRETT: Senate Republicans in the White House mostly resolve their differences on a much needed stimulus deal. More stimulus checks, funding for schools and billions for testing which the president calls overrated.

Good morning. This is EARLY START. I'm Laura Jarrett.

ROMANS: Nice to see you. I'm Christine Romans.

It's 28 minutes past the hour on this Thursday morning.

And Republican senators and the White House have a deal, or at least the frame work of one. Here's what we know: there's $100 billion for schools without holding back money for schools that stay closed, and $25 billion in funds for testing, something the White House was objecting to.