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Trump Abandons New Approach As COVID Reality Hits; Commissioner: MLB Not Facing "Nightmare" Scenario; GOP Proposes Stimulus Checks, Reduced Unemployment Benefits; A.G. Barr Calls Russia Scandal "Bogus". Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired July 28, 2020 - 05:00   ET



LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump touting an unproven drug and pushing states to open even as America gets a big dose of coronavirus reality.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: And the attorney general going all in, attacking Democrats and defending his decision making. He's set to testify before lawmakers today and we have a preview of his scathing remarks.

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

SANCHEZ: And I'm Boris Sanchez, in for Christine Romans. It is Tuesday, July 28th, 5:00 in the morning.

And, Laura, we are exactly 14 weeks to Election Day.

JARRETT: It's hard to believe.

Well, President Trump's reset on the pandemic has been officially unmasked as the coronavirus dealt out some harsh reality checks already this week, 27 states seeing an increase now in deaths. The death toll now eclipsing 1,000 for the fifth time in a week, partly because Texas changed how it reports the numbers. Hospitalizations nationwide remain near the April peak.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Unless we get our arms around this and get it suppressed, we are going to have further suffering and further death and that's the reason why, as I've often said many, many times, there are things we can do right now in the absence of a vaccine that can turn us around.


JARRETT: Now there are some positive signs. New cases are up in just 22 states, and that's actually far fewer than two weeks ago when it was almost 40, but every time the country tries to return to normal, the virus fights back.

SANCHEZ: That's right. After a much anticipated return, there are now questions over whether Major League Baseball can survive a shortened season. Games in several cities had to be postponed after an outbreak in the Miami Marlins clubhouse.

And there are more ominous signs to return to normalcy and hopes of returning to work. Google has told its employees they can now work from home until next July, about a year from now. That's a choice that millions in the work force simply do not have if they work in retail, restaurants, just about any service job.

MGM Resorts warning entertainment employees at its biggest properties that live shows are not expected to return in August and that workers on furlough are likely to be laid off.

JARRETT: COVID trouble also reaching the White House again. National security advisor Robert O'Brien now the highest ranking official we know of to test positive for the virus.

The White House will not say when he and the president were last together but he was seen at the White House on Thursday after meeting with leaders in Europe, no masks, no distancing there.

SANCHEZ: Yes, the president was wearing a mask in North Carolina yesterday. He visited a lab where they were required. That didn't stop him from tweeting out video clips claiming that masks are unnecessary and attacking Dr. Anthony Fauci and then touting misinformation on coronavirus. These clips have actually been scrubbed by Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

And speaking in North Carolina, the president reverted to a theme that got many states in trouble. Listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I really do believe a lot of the governors should be opening up states that they're not opening and we'll see what happens with them.


JARRETT: Those states have been left to clean up the mess. California is deploying strike teams to hot spots in the Central Valley, the heart of the state's agricultural industry, to fight the spread of the disease. In Kentucky, the governor is closing bars for two weeks and limiting indoor restaurant seating to 25 percent of capacity.

But in Tennessee, where hospitalizations are rising, the governor has refused to take action even with a direct appeal from White House COVID coordinator, Dr. Deborah Birx.

SANCHEZ: Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred says he is confident the shortened season can continue despite the Miami Marlins COVID-19 outbreak and games having to be postponed.

Andy Scholes has more with us this morning.

Glad to see you, Andy.

Manfred saying it is not yet time to panic, right?

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: That's what he's saying, Boris. You know, there's two ways sports leagues are trying to go about play right now. You got the NBA, WNBA, NHL and MLS trying to go about it in a bubble. Then you got baseball and the NFL trying to go about play in a somewhat normal setting. And, you know, so far, one weekend in for baseball, they've got some big problems.

Eleven players and two coaches reportedly testing positive on the Marlins team, leading Major League Baseball to postpone three games and raising some questions about questions it's possible to just continue this season.


In an interview on MLB Network, Commissioner Rob Manfred said he believes the safety protocols are adequate to keep players safe.


ROB MANFRED, MLB COMMISSIONER: I don't put this in the nightmare category. I mean, obviously, we don't want any player to get exposed. It's not a positive thing, but I don't see it as a nightmare. We built the protocols to allow us to continue to play, that's why we have the expanded rosters. That's why we have the pool of additional players and we think we can keep people safe and continue to play.


SCHOLES: The Marlins outbreak creating an uneasy feeling around baseball. Washington Nationals manager Dave Martinez, he missed three games last season after undergoing a heart procedure. And he became emotional during video call with reporters yesterday.


DAVE MARTINEZ, WASHINGTON NATIONALS MANAGER: I'm going to be honest with you, I'm scared. I really am. So right now you don't know because of my heart condition what happens to me if I do get it? So I've got to be extra careful.

My level of concern went from my level of concern went from about an 8 to a 12. I mean, this thing really can -- you know, hits home now, you know, seeing half a team, you know, get infected and go from one city to another. I'm not going to lie. I'm not going to sugar coat it. Seeing those guys go down like that, it's not good for them. It's not good for anybody.


SCHOLES: Yes, the Nationals are scheduled to play in Miami against the Marlins on Friday. While baseball teams continue to travel the country and stay in

hotels, the NBA season set to restart on Thursday in a single site bubble there in Orlando. And the bubble so far is working as planned. Last week, the league tested 346 players and came back with zero positive results. 76ers coach said he feels safe from a possible outbreak.


BRETT BROWN, PHILADELPHIA 76ERS COACH: I think that what the NBA has done and the environment that we are all in is spectacularly brilliant. I think it's elite. I personally have zero complaints about anything that might like prohibit us doing our job.


SCHOLES: Yeah. The NHL also reporting zero positive tests in its bubble there in Edmonton and Toronto. They are going to resume play, Boris, on Saturday.

NFL players, meanwhile, the rest of them all reporting to camp today. They're all going to be tested three out of the next four days. NFL training camp is going to look very different this year. No preseason games, and we'll have to wait and see if the plan the NFL has in place will to work because baseball is struggling right now.

SANCHEZ: Yes. And sports is so often a microcosm of our society. This is just emblematic of the difficulties in reopening in the age of coronavirus.

Andy Scholes, thanks for the update.

SCHOLES: All right.

JARRETT: All right. Well, Senate Republicans finally unveiled their new stimulus plan. So, what's missing? Well, a lot of the help that those who are unemployed have been relying on for months and will need until their jobs come back.

CNN's Phil Mattingly has more.


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Laura and Boris, at long last, Republicans actually have a proposal for the next economic coronavirus economic relief package and now the real work starts. Over the course of the last week, two weeks, they have been negotiating with Republicans to put something on the table, anything on the table. That is the package they rolled out on Monday, $1 trillion, another round of stimulus checks, another round of small business forgivable loans for the Paycheck Protection Program, another round of several components from the initial $2.2 trillion bill from last March. However, they are very far apart from where House Democrats sit right now.

Remember guys, House Democrats back in May passed their own proposal, their own initiating offer and have been waiting for Republicans to come on board and figure out a way to actually start negotiations. And the timing matters immensely. At the end of the week, July 31st, the federal enhancement, the extra $600 Americans have been getting expires. Republicans, they want to do away with the $600 flat fee, basically move it down to about $200 and shift it over to a percentage basis, 70 percent of past wages.

Democrats have made clear they want to extend the unemployment insurance at the $600 level through the end of the year and there are a myriad of proposals where they are extremely far apart. So, how do they reconcile these issues and how do they do it? It remains an open question.

Right now, you got these converge of factors. Republicans who are against Republicans, a White House at odds with Senate Republicans and Democrats who don't feel like they need to give anything. Still, the deadline matters. The timing matters, the fact that people need help and they need help now matters.


So, will they actually come together in getting the result? Well, it's an open question. But the first positive thing happened, at least from a meeting perspective. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows met with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer on Monday night after the release of the GOP proposal and long awaited meeting, and necessary meeting and one that went over an hour and a half long. We'll see if this leads to an outcome.

But there's no question, there are no shortage of hurdles ahead, no shortage of potential roadblocks and no clear pathway to actually getting something done -- guys.


SANCHEZ: Phil Mattingly, thank you for that.

Staying on Capitol Hill, Attorney General Bill Barr has prepared a blistering attack for House Democrats when he's set to testify this morning. Democrats are accusing Barr of various abuses, including intervening in the prosecution of two Trump allies. But in his pre- released opening statement, Barr says he has acted independently of President Trump and he accuses House Democrats of trying to discredit him.

Listen to this, he writes, quote: Ever since I made it clear that I was going to do everything to get to the bottom of the grave abuses involved in the bogus Russia-gate scandal, many of the Democrats on this committee have attempted to discredit me by conjuring up a narrative that I am simply the president's factotum, who disposes of criminal cases according to this instructions. Judging from the letter inviting me to this hearing, that appears to be your agenda today.

JARRETT: Barr will also face questions about his role on the federal crackdown on racial justice protests. That includes the decision to forcibly break up a peaceful decision in Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C. so the president can hold up a bible in front of a boarded church.

At the same time Barr is testifying, a National Guard official will tell Congress at a different you that the decision was made even though protesters were acting peacefully. That view conflicts with public comments by top administration officials, including Attorney General Barr.

All right. Well, a spike of COVID cases among young people in New Jersey. Parties with as many as 700 people are part of the reason why.

Stay with us.



JARRETT: Parents in one Georgia County are demanding in person classes for their kids, and New Jersey's governor is blasting a house party packed with more than 700 guests.

CNN has reporters coast to coast bringing you the latest developments.


NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Natasha Chen in Gwinnett County, Georgia. Parents here are protesting the school district asking for an in person face-to-face option after the district decided to go all virtual for the beginning of the school year. A number of districts around the Atlanta metro are made that decision after seeing climbing cases of COVID-19 numbers. Parents here say they have to go back to work. There's no supervision for their young children to learn at home while other parents tell me they feel relieved to go all virtual as the safer option.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Polo Sandoval in New York. In neighboring New Jersey, authorities are growing increasingly concerned about several COVID outbreaks linked to young people. 35 cases confirmed in Long Beach Island, New York, linked to what health officials are describing as common social gatherings of life guards. In the past week, 65 new cases reported in Middletown, New Jersey. 52 of them are young people ages 15 to 19 years old. July 11th house party in that city that's been blamed for one cluster of at least 20 people and rising.


Disney has changed plans for opening of one of the hotels as cases in the state skyrocket. Two hotels, Disney's Polynesian Village Resort and Disney's Art of Animation will reopen later than originally scheduled. Meanwhile, opening for Disney's beach club resort and Disney's Boardwalk Inn have been cancelled. Now, other hotels are open and will remain so. The company says that it will monitor the constantly changing health situation in Florida, with the seven-day moving average from new cases has just jumped more than 1,500 percent it's jumped since reopening in May.

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Athena Jones in New York where the state is cracking down on bars and restaurants that don't follow coronavirus related regulations. Governor Andrew Cuomo says the state issued more than 130 violations over the weekend, most of them right here in New York City.

To date, 40 establishments have had their liquor licenses suspended for breaking the rules. Ten suspensions were issued just since Friday. Cuomo saying the lack of compliance with social distancing policies, particularly among young people at bars and restaurants is a concern his administration is watching closely.


The University of Notre Dame will no longer host the first presidential debate of the 2020 cycle. The university is citing health precautions they would have had to take due to the coronavirus pandemic which greatly diminished the educational value of hosting a debate on their campus.

Now, this is the second university to pull out of hosting a debate this year due to the pandemic. This first presidential debate has been moved to Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.


SANCHEZ: Thanks to all of our correspondents for those updates. A lag in test results makes isolating a challenge. But other parts of the world have this figured out. How the United States can take a page from other countries next.




DR. SETH TRUEGER, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF EMERGENCY MEDICINE, NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY: It just seems like we wasted all the time. We didn't build up testing capacity. We didn't build up testing tracing capacity. We barely learned anything about how to take care of the virus and we're not taking the public health steps. We really need to develop that infrastructure.


JARRETT: Proper testing and tracing. Ground zero for has been mastered around the world but not here in the U.S. Testing companies say enormous demand is slowing the process. Results can take up to a week or two now, up from just four days last month. Those long backlogs make the results less useful and make it nearly impossible to trace and isolate because contacts grow exponentially. Other parts of the world have shown it works like in South Korea.


CNN's Paula Hancocks is live for us in Seoul.

Hi, Paula.


Well, here in South Korea, even before there was a confirmed case here back in January, some biotech firms were already working on tests. So, the case here is that most of these tests find out if you're positive, take a matter of hours. Occasionally, when there is a heavy cluster, it can take a day or two, but that is the absolute maximum.

This is really crucial for the reasons that South Korea has been so successful in trying to stem the outbreak here and that is the contact tracing. So, what they do is once they have a positive case, they take the mobile phone number, the credit number of that individual. They input it into a system and look at CCTV cameras, they have an interview with the patient and within 10 to 20 minutes, they know exactly where that individual has been. They can then look at the geography of that, find out if there were a lot of people in the area so people know if they have symptoms they should go get tested.

Now, officials have consistently told us, this technology is not difficult. It is not complicated. What's different is the privacy laws.

Here in South Korea, the privacy laws have been loosened from five years ago when there was a MERS outbreak here. People on both sides of the aisle, lawmakers, realized they had to lessen the privacy laws to be able to contact trace quicker.

For the most part, South Koreans do support it. There are some exceptions but for the most, they realize it's necessary -- Laura.

JARRETT: It just goes to show you, this actually can be done, this is possible, but it starts with, as you mentioned, getting those results back within just the same day is such a game changer.

All right. Good to see you, Paula.

SANCHEZ: We are 26 minutes past the hour.

And President Trump is reverting to old habits even as America gets a big dose of coronavirus reality. Stay with us.