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Experts Fear Catastrophic Surge in Coronavirus Cases After Labor Day; Update on Coronavirus Cases in Major Cities in the U.S.; India Second to U.S. in Known Coronavirus Cases; Mexico Now Ranks Fourth in Coronavirus Deaths; Spain Becomes First E.U. Country with Half a Million Cases; Russian Opposition Leader Emerges from Coma After Poisoning; Calls for Boycott of Disney Film Growing; Prince Harry, Megan Markle Repay $3 Million Cost of Renovation Home. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired September 8, 2020 - 05:30   ET



LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Great to have you, Alison. I'm Laura Jarrett. About 30 minutes past the hour here in New York.

We begin this half hour with anxiety for millions of parents on this back-to-school morning in America. The majority of the nation's schoolchildren return to class today, some in-person, others remotely. That includes big city districts like Chicago, Houston, Dallas, and Baltimore. Over seven million kids will start school online, as large Labor Day crowds triggered new fears of more outbreaks across the country.

CNN's Nick Watt has more.


NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Is this the spark for another surge? Or this? Or this? We'll find out in a few weeks.

MAYOR FRANCIS SUAREZ (R-MIAMI-FL): Things have stabilized so much better, but we have seen, as we mentioned, spikes after long weekends.

WATT: In part due to Memorial Day crowds celebrating the start of summer, new case count soared from around 20,000 a day mid-May to over 70,000 a little more than a month later. And Labor Day we're starting from a much higher baseline.

DR. PETER HOTEZ, DEAN, NATIONAL SCHOOL OF TROPICAL MEDICINE, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: I don't think it will take much to really bring us back up to 70,000 new cases a day.

WATT: This weekend of course also marks the unofficial start of fall when people will be moving more indoors, when infection risk rises and --

DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB, FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER: People are exhausted. That's another challenge. Trying to keep up our vigilance at a time when we know that this can spread more aggressively.

WATT: It's also back to school time. Colleges now in every single state dealing with outbreaks. Eleven Northeastern students just kicked out for the entire semester without refunds after allegedly gathering in a hotel room. 900 students have now tested positive at Iowa State.

Now when student athletes first returned after Memorial Day --

DR. JOHN PASCHEN, STORY COUNTY, IOWA BOARD OF HEALTH CHAIRMAN: It took about three weeks before it starts to spread into the general population. It then got into a local nursing home and 10 people died.

WATT: Twenty-nine states right now seeing 5 percent or more tests coming back positive. A bad sign. Past few days West Virginia and North Dakota seeing record infection rates. Missouri and Puerto Rico record death tolls. Meanwhile as we near election day, the president says we've turned the corner.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to have a vaccine very soon. Maybe even before a very special date. You know what date I'm talking about.

GOTTLIEB: I think the likelihood that we're going to have a vaccine for widespread use in 2020 is extremely low.

WATT: At least three potential vaccine producers, rivals, reportedly now preparing a joint statement that they will not seek government approval until they know for sure the vaccine was safe and effective. This according to the "Wall Street Journal."

HOTEZ: The fact that we're seeing the pharmaceutical companies sort of protecting the U.S. population from the government is something I've never seen before.

WATT (on camera): And we are tracking the 101 largest school districts in America. Of them, 16 are starting their new school year Tuesday morning. Of the 16, 14 online only despite the president's pleas for as many brick-and-mortar schools to open as possible.

Nick Watt, CNN, Los Angeles.


JARRETT: All right, Nick, thanks for laying all that out.

Join Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Erica Hill and the whole "Sesame Street" crew for answers to your questions about returning to school and virtual learning. "THE ABCS BACK TO SCHOOL," a CNN-"Sesame Street" townhalls for families. It airs Saturday morning at 10:00 Eastern.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: A West Virginia college suspending in-person classes after an increasing coronavirus cases on campus. CNN reporters are covering developments around the country.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Jean Casarez in New York. West Virginia University is saying they are switching undergraduate classes to online only through September 25th. The university has also announced they are placing 29 students on immediate interim suspension because of a COVID-19 investigation. Further sanctions are pending.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Martin Savidge. Florida health officials reported 1,838 new COVID-19 cases on Monday. What's so special about that? Well, it's the lowest daily tally of cases in nearly three months. In fact, you'd have to go back on Monday, June 15th when the state recorded 1,758 coronavirus cases to find a lower number. That's according to the Florida Department of Health.

In spite of the holiday weekend, Monday's new daily case count reflects a downward trend of new coronavirus cases and does not deviate that much from a number of new case reported on previous Mondays. For Florida, that is good news.

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Athena Jones in New York where the COVID-19 infection rate has remained before 1 percent for an entire month. Thirty-one days. Governor Andrew Cuomo saying in a statement, "Thanks to the hard work of New Yorkers, our state has now gone a full month with our COVID infection rate remaining below 1 percent."


He went on to say, "Our numbers have continued to remain stable even as we reach new milestones in our phased, data driven reopening." The governor's urging people to remain smart and to continue to wash their hands, wear masks and keep their distance from others to protect this progress.

JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH CORRESPONDENT: I'm Jacqueline Howard in Atlanta. If you're concerned about the coronavirus spreading through food, a global team of experts says not to worry. It's highly unlikely that food is the source of coronavirus transmission.

Now that's according to an international commission that says there is still no evidence that the virus can spread through what you eat. The group says food companies should focus on preventing person-to-person transmission among workers and consumers.


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

President Trump is trying and failing once again to pressure reporters into removing their masks at news conferences. On Monday, the president got into this exchange with Reuters correspondent Jeff Mason after Mason refused to remove his facemask at the president's request.


JEFF MASON, REUTERS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Thank you, Mr. President. The issue of what happens when --

TRUMP: You're going to have to take that off, please. You can take it off. Your health -- how many feet are you away?

MASON: I'll speak a lot louder.

TRUMP: Well, if you don't take it off, you're very muffled so if you would take it off, it would be a lot easier.

MASON: I'll just speak a lot louder. Is that better?

TRUMP: It's better, yes. It's better.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Just based on some of your recent tweets, sir, do you --

TRUMP: You sound so clear. As opposed to everybody elsewhere where they refuse.


JARRETT: The president's past embrace of mask wearing himself has been less than enthusiastic. But one local GOP official says he should wear one at his rally in North Carolina tonight. The Republican chairman of the local county commission tells the "Winston-Salem Journal" mask wearing has been ordered by the governor and President Trump just needs to do it.

KOSIK: India is now second only to the United States in known coronavirus cases. The country's confirmed death rate is the third highest in the world and medical experts say fatalities could be higher than reported.

Vedika Sud joins us live now from New Delhi with the latest.

Good morning to you. You know, despite the increase in the number of cases, public spaces and places continue to reopen.

VEDIKA SUD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. That's a huge worry, Alison, because you have a lot of reopening of the economy that's happening. Remember, there were four lockdowns which is successive in nature after which the economy has been hit hard here in India. So the governor has been repeating itself when it says that India needs to co-exist with COVID-19.

In fact, we have seen the opening up of restaurants, malls, and now even metro services which resumed on Monday. It comes at a time when India for the last two days has reported more than 90,000 new infections. Today luckily it was about 14,000 less, just below 76,000.

One of the main reasons that the case is going up also is the complacency we're seeing amongst people at this time, Alison, because you see people going out in the open and they feel that now that the lockdown is over they can do without masks and they can do without social distancing. Despite repeated requests by the government here. So that's a huge worry. Along with that, I also want to mention there's a huge number of

testing happening here. The government has just announced that over 50 million tests have been conducted here in India with about 13.3 million conducted in the last two weeks. Definitely we're going to see these numbers increase all over again. There's no respite from them for now for India -- Alison.

KOSIK: Vedika Sud, live for us from New Delhi. Thanks.

JARRETT: Moving now to Mexico --

SUD: Thank you.

JARRETT: Moving now to Mexico where the number of coronavirus deaths is climbing again. The country has the fourth highest number of fatalities in the world. But the actual total could be a lot higher. Even the Mexican government concedes that's likely because testing is so low there.

Here's Matt Rivers in Mexico City.


MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Some startling new information from Mexico's government. Over the weekend, health officials reported that during the period of March 15th through August 1st Mexico recorded more than 120,000 excess deaths as compared to the same time period from other years, more normal years, non-pandemic years. Now we know that of those excess deaths more than 47,000 have been officially attributed to the coronavirus.

But what about the remaining 75,000 or so deaths? I spoke to the director of a COVID unit here in Mexico City at a prestigious local hospital. And he believes that of all those excess deaths, in fact the vast majority of them are directly related to the virus.

And we know that Mexico's government routinely says that the actual death toll in this country is higher than what is officially reported, and part of the reason for that is because many people who go into the hospital with COVID symptoms simply don't get a test before they end up losing their lives.


Mexico is one of the slowest testing rates in any country with a large population around the world. And speaking of the death toll, it continues to just steadily march higher. The official death toll considered that roughly 30 percent of the total amount of deaths recorded here in Mexico have been recorded since August 1st.

Matt Rivers, CNN, Mexico City.


KOSIK: And our thanks to Matt Rivers for that report. The U.K. and Spain recording their highest coronavirus numbers since

May. Britain's health secretary says he's concerned about the rise in infections among young people. And Spain is now the first European country to reach half a million confirmed cases.

CNN's Scott McLean has more from London.


SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: British schools are back in session. The government is urging businesses to send their employees back into the office. And now the government is also looking for ways to reduce the mandatory 14-day quarantine period for travelers entering the U.K. from most other countries. All of this just as the U.K. records its highest single-day coronavirus case count since May.

The British health secretary is blaming young people, particularly affluent young people for the sudden surge in infections. He's worried that if they don't follow the rules that they could pass on the virus to older, more vulnerable parts of the population.

Now it is a similar trend across Europe especially in Spain which just became the first country in Europe to log half a million confirmed cases of the coronavirus. If there is any good news here is the European health care systems have not had the massive surge of patients that they saw at the height of the pandemic. For instance, in the U.K. today there are 40 times fewer people on ventilators than there were at the height of the pandemic.

In Spain, though, there is a worrying trend. Deaths there are on the rise. The country just reported its highest single-day death follow since May.

Scott McLean, CNN, London.


JARRETT: All right, Scott, thank you for that.

New calls this morning for a boycott of Disney's "Mulan." The controversy over the big movie remake, next.



KOSIK: Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny emerging from a medically induced coma in a German hospital. Germany's government confirmed last week that tests on Navalny showed unequivocal evidence he was poisoned with a chemical nerve agent.

Matthew Chance joins us live now from Moscow.

Matthew, good to see you. Are you learning from doctors anything more about his condition? I mean, will he be able to speak? MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. In fact,

within the past few hours or so there's been an update from the clinic in Berlin where Alexey Navalny, Russia's main opposition figure, is being treated for the suspected poisoning. They're saying that his condition has improved, that he's now been brought out of his medically induced coma which he's been in for several weeks, and he's being weaned off the mechanical ventilator that was being used to keep him alive.

We're also told that he is responding to voices which is a really positive sign. But, and there's a major caveat here, the doctors say they can't tell at this early stage what potential long-term damage may have been done by what they call this very serious, serious poisoning that Alexey Navalny suffered.

Just to underline how dangerous is in Russia for opposition figures. Within the past few minutes, we've had it confirmed that another couple of opposition activists in Russia have been apparently attacked with an unknown substance. It's taken place in the Russian city in (INAUDIBLE), which is in Siberia. Masked man burst in their offices, you know, threw some bottles of unidentified substances on the floor.

Two of the activists had to be taken to the hospital with breathing difficulties. We'll try to update you when we get more information on that. In the meantime, the chorus of international condemnation about the apparent poisoning of Alexey Navalny continues to grow. The British authorities, the German authorities, the U.N. Commission of Human Rights have all called now for transparent investigations. But that's not something at the moment the Russian authorities say they're prepared to do -- Alison.

KOSIK: OK. CNN's Matthew Chance live for us from Moscow. Thanks for your report.

JARRETT: Well, Disney is under fire for reportedly filming its new live action remake of "Mulan" in a province in China linked to human rights abuses. The renewed calls to boycott the film after its credits included a thank you to Chinese government agencies.

CNN's Selena Wang joins us live with the latest.

Selena, what's Disney saying about this?

SELENA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Laura, we have reached out to Disney for comment as well as the local authorities in China. We haven't heard any response yet, but there are a lot of questions as to Disney's relationship to this region in Xinjiang. This major backlash is coming after those special thanks, at those credits thanking several government entities in China in the western region of Xinjiang where the U.S. has accused China of detaining up to two million Uighurs and other ethnic minorities.

Now China has repeatedly denied those claims, saying these are local centers. They are part of its legitimate counter terrorism efforts. Reportedly parts of the movie were filmed in Xinjiang but at this point no response yet. But I did speak to an expert, Isaac Stone Fish. He's a senior fellow at the Asia Society who told me that it is, quote, "deeply disturbing that Disney thought it was OK to partner with and also thank government departments from a region in China that is complicit with genocide."

Now, Laura, there were also calls to boycott this movie last year after the lead actress Liu Yifei posted comments online supporting the Hong Kong Police during the protests. China is an extremely lucrative market here for Hollywood. It's estimated that it will soon overtake the U.S. as the world's largest film market.


But it also comes with compromises for American film studios, including complying with censorship guidelines. And experts I spoke to say that we are getting dangerously close to a place where American film studios may need to decide between appeasing either the U.S. consumer or the Chinese ones. It's getting hard to do both.

JARRETT: Yes. Well, that's for sure. All right, Selena, thank you so much for all that reporting.

KOSIK: Prince Harry and Megan Markle have repaid the cost of renovating their home in the U.K. Since quitting their royal duties the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have been under pressure to return more than $3 million in taxpayer money used to transform their residence on the grounds of Windsor Castle.

CNN's Anna Stewart is live for us in Windsor with more.

You know, I've got to talk about the timing of this. It's curious, the repayment for these renovations comes as Prince Harry and Megan Markle go -- you know, went ahead and inked that $150 million deal with Netflix.

ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Just days after we get that news about that big deal and they repaid in full the cost of renovating their home in the grounds of Windsor Castle, Frogmore Cottage, $3 million. Now we expected the couple would be paying this amount back but over installments over many, many years.

Now the cottage itself is behind Windsor Castle. You can't see it from here. It's away from public eye. It's owned by the crown estate, by the Queen, but in order to live in it, it has to have huge renovations, very, very costly. $3 million, and that money was actually from taxpayers. That was the Sovereign Grant which taxpayers fund.

And so the decision at the beginning of the year by the Duke and Duchess of the Sussex to very suddenly to remove themselves as senior royals and to move to North America, the biggest criticism really was, but you've just paid $3 million of taxpayer money to renovate a home. Well, that has now been repaid which means perhaps some of that criticism here in the U.K. will perhaps disappear a little.

It's interesting, though, Alison. I think when we look at the narrative of the Sussex family and what this really means going forward, their decision to take a step back from royals was going to be reviewed after 12 months by the palace. This new multi-year deal with Netflix, this decision to repay in full the renovation cost to the taxpayer of their Frogmore Cottage home, it does suggest that perhaps they will not be coming back ever again as senior royals at least -- Alison.

KOSIK: Will anyone be living in that home?

STEWART: I believe it is currently empty. It will be their U.K. base, though, going forward. And I have to say reports are that $3 million has made it really a rather nice cottage to stay in.

KOSIK: I'll bet. CNN's Anna Stewart, thanks.

JARRETT: All right, a dramatic rescue in China as firefighters rush to free a young boy dangling by his head from a fifth floor window. Look at that. The 6-year-old somehow got stuck between the metal bars of a window railing. After a 10-minute operation using electric tools and a ladder to reach the window, firefighters were thankfully able to cut the bars, pull the boy to safety and reunite him with his father.

KOSIK: Glad he's OK.

In Texas a Houston father who spoke to CNN as he and his family were being evicted is now receiving thousands of dollars in donations. Israel Rodriguez, his wife and their two little children were evicted from their Houston apartment last week. Rodriguez was thousands of dollars behind on rent after losing his job during the pandemic. He spoke to our Kyung Lah as his belongings were being tossed out the door.


ISRAEL RODRIGUEZ, LOST JOB DURING PANDEMIC: It was like going out there. I lost my job. So it took me like a month to get another job. This is my check but I ain't making it with $300. It's literally $300.


KOSIK: Just days later the law enforcement officers who evicted Rodriguez decided to set up a GoFundMe page that has raised more than $180,000 to help him and other families facing eviction. Rodriguez has thanked his supporters and the office that served him the eviction, saying, he now has enough money to land back on his feet.

You know, it's great that we were able to bring that story out and then, of course, it's even more awesome that everybody pitched in.

JARRETT: It's so great that people stepped up. You know, Kyung's piece is excellent.


JARRETT: I encourage everyone to go on to and look at it. I think it resonated with so many people because it was telling those stories that we just don't see every day, which is so many people are struggling right now just trying to pay their rent, trying to get food on the table, Alison.

KOSIK: Yes. So many people struggling.

JARRETT: All right. Thanks for joining us today. I'm Laura Jarrett.

KOSIK: And I'm Alison Kosik. "NEW DAY" is next.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now you have schools opening. So I'm really worried about what happens to this nation as we head into the fall.

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Of the 16 districts that begin classes, 14 are starting the year entirely online.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The whole point of a vaccine, it all hinges on trust and the president's been chipping away at that.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Joe Biden said he would take such a vaccine if it went through a transparent process that was backed by scientists.

TRUMP: The vaccine will be very safe and very effective. We could have a very big surprise coming up.

KAMALA HARRIS (D), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I pray we have a vaccine as quickly as possible that is approved by the scientists and the public health professionals.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Tuesday, September 8th, 6:00 here in New York.

And it is back to school day for the majority of American kids. But the return to school in 2020 is nothing like parents and children have seen before. More than seven million children starting the school year fully online, learning remotely rather than in the classroom.