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Vaccine Trial on Hold; Biden's Economic Pitch; Fires Scorch Millions of Acres Across Washington, Oregon and California; Osaka "Humbled" By Response to Face Mask Tributes. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired September 9, 2020 - 05:00   ET



LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking overnight: a coronavirus vaccine trial now on hold after one of the volunteers taking it gets sick.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Plus, battleground Michigan. Democratic nominee Joe Biden will campaign there in just a few hours. He's got a message for American workers on the economy.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is EARLY START. I'm Boris Sanchez, in for Christine Romans.

JARRETT: Great to have you, Boris, in for a few days.

SANCHEZ: Thanks, Laura.

JARRETT: I'm Laura Jarrett. It's Wednesday, September 9th. It's 5:00 a.m. here in New York, 55 days until the election.

And we begin with breaking news overnight. A setback in the race for a coronavirus vaccine. Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca pausing phase three of its global trials because of an unexplained illness in one of its volunteers. The company now has to determine whether its vaccine might cause widespread adverse reactions.

Nic Robertson begins us off this morning live from London with the latest developments.

And, Nic, what more do we know about this?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, AstraZeneca is saying this is routine and that's what the medical experts are saying when you have a case like this, where there's an unexplained so far illness among the cohort of people who are going through trials, then you put it on paw. This is a pause while they examine the safety implications. There's been a lot invested in this here in the U.K. by the government, not just politically, by championing getting this study up and running.

This was late April this year. Emotionally, I think the British people are very invested because they had seen this as a way out of the, you know, of all the confines of COVID-19 and the restrictions of a lockdown, et cetera. And politically, the government has put a lot on the line here as

well. We have the health secretary in the U.K. just a couple of days ago saying that 30 million doses of this vaccine would be ready for early next year. The government has paid up for that.

So at a medical level, we're being told this is routine. Emotionally here in the U.K., because the country is about to go into a new level of lockdown as well, this will be a big blow. Remembering that phase one trial began at the end of April here in U.K., about 200 people, and right now, in the phase three level of the trial where it is right now, people have been given 50,000 people have been given or are a part of this trial worldwide, about 30,000 in the United States, 10,000 in the U.K. Beginning of Jun, Brazil signed up to 2,000 people being tested in Asia and Africa as well.

So this is a global study. Really highlights the potential pitfalls for anyone testing a virus. It is a blow without a doubt emotionally if not medically at this stage.

JARRETT: All right. Nic, thank you for staying on top of that for us.

SANCHEZ: Also on the vaccine front, a dose of reality from Dr. Anthony Fauci. Despite what you may have heard from the White House, the nation's top infectious disease expert said a vaccine against COVID-19 probably will not be ready by Election Day. But Dr. Fauci is optimistic that one will be proven safe and effective this year.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I think that's unlikely. I mean, the only way you can see that scenario come true is that there are so many infections in the clinical trial sites that you get an efficacy answer sooner than you would have projected. Like I said it's not impossible duty, but it's unlikely we'll have a definitive answer at that time, more likely by the end of the year.


SANCHEZ: Dr. Fauci's comments come after President Trump suggested Monday, without data or evidence, that a vaccine could be ready by the end of October.

Meantime, kids across the country are facing a new reality as they head back to school during a pandemic. CNN's Nick Watt has more.


NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Millions of students back in school but most aren't actually in school. They are online only.

FAUCI: If you're in the red zone, you really got be very careful before you bring the children back because you don't want to create a situation where you have a hyper spreading event as you might have in the school. WATT: Hartford, Connecticut, planned a hybrid model but a cyber

attack just forced a delay.

MAYOR LUKE BRONIN (D), HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT: As difficult as that was in this year when so much work has gone into preparing for the first day of school.

WATT: Tens of thousands of confirmed cases now at colleges, West Virginia University just suspended nearly all in person teaching at one campus for two weeks. Friday night, a COVID positive frat member told to isolate went to a party anyway.


Nationally, case counts are still headed in the right direction, for now.

DR. TOM INGLESBY, JOHNS HOPKINS BLOOMBERG SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: But we are beginning to do things that we haven't done since the start of the pandemic.

WATT: Like opening some schools and colleges and moving indoors in colder weather. In New York, sheriff's deputies rolled out stop buses arriving from a staggering 33 states and territories.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK CITY: They will be pulling over buses before they arrive. And they will be giving out those traveler health forms to get people right away to sign up so we can make sure they quarantine.

WATT: Eleven states are right now seeing a rise in average case counts, Arizona and Florida success stories of the late summer, ticking up again.

FAUCI: We need to hang in there together. This will end. And it will end even sooner if we continue to go by the public health measures that have been recommended time and again for so many months.

WATT: A new study of cell phone data suggests people staying home in the spring did slow the spread of the virus. It saved lives. But the president thinks shutdowns are ridiculous. Claims Democrats are using them just to hurt him.

FAUCI: We've got regain the trust of the community.

WATT: So, the CEOs of nine pharma companies racing to produce a vaccine signed a pledge they won't submit too soon for approval suggesting they won't bow to any political pressure. They hope to help ensure public confidence in the rigorous scientific and regulatory process.

ALBERT BOURLA, CHAIRMAN AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, PFIZER: It is unprecedented moment. It's a historic pledge. We saw it critical to come out and reiterate our commitment. We will develop our products, our vaccines using the highest ethical standard.

WATT: Nick Watt, CNN, Los Angeles.


JARRETT: Nick Watt, thank you so much for that.

The president is now launching a new baseless accusation that Democrats will attempt to commit fraud during the upcoming presidential election. In North Carolina on Tuesday, he encouraged his supporters to prevent it by becoming poll watchers.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNTIED STATES: Got to be careful with those ballots. Watch those ballots. I don't like it. You know, you have a Democrat governor, you have all these Democrats watching that stuff. I don't like it.

I look at these crowds and if they're going to cheat, crowds are meaningless. Really. If they're going to cheat, these big, beautiful crowds, you can have 15,000, you can have 50,000, these crowds are meaningless.

Watch it. Be poll watchers when you go there. Watch all the thieving and stealing and robbing they do.


JARRETT: It's another one of the president's unfounded claims that American elections are just rife with voter fraud. He also claims he lost the 2016 popular vote due to fraudulent ballots, it's not true. Voter fraud is extremely rare in the U.S. and there's no evidence of voter fraud in the 2016 race.

Meanwhile, the president did not wear a mask during his speech in Winston-Salem as you can see. That's despite North Carolina's mask mandate.

A local GOP official had urged the president to abide by the rules ahead of time. And as you can see, only a smattering of the president's supporters could be seen wearing masks.

SANCHEZ: Trump's Democratic rival Joe Biden heads to Michigan today. The former vice president's message will be focused on the economy. The campaign says Biden will talk about his plan to ensure the future is made in America by all of America's workers. A Biden aide says the campaign is determined to make sure President Trump's rosy depiction of an economic recovery does not go uncorrected.

And a programming note, the Democratic nominee also sits down with Jake Tapper for an exclusive interview tomorrow. Don't miss "THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER", Thursday, at 4:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

JARRETT: Well, still ahead for you, fast-moving flames and a narrow escape.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JEREMY REMINGTON, TMX.NEWS: This fire on all sides, all around us.


JARRETT: More from dozens of wildfires burning right now in the American West. That's next.



SANCHEZ: Developing this morning, 15 large new wildfires up and down the West Coast. That brings the total to 87, burning more than 2.7 million acres. The worst of them in California, Washington state and Oregon.

Take a look at this image from NASA. It is truly startling. Almost the entire Pacific coast is covered by smoke.

CNN's Dan Simon has more.


DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It all looks the same after a while. A burned out house, charred trees, but each pile of destruction represents another person, another family whose lives are being upended by California's historic wildfires.

The new devastation hitting the Sierra National Forest in Central California, part of the growing creek fire. Dozens of campers and hikers were trapped in the forest.

REMINGTON: There's fire on all sides all around us, in all the roads.

SIMON: The only roads out were blocked by the intense flames. Military helicopters were eventually able to rescue them. Twenty-five major wildfires are currently burning across the state, including three of the top four largest in California history.

A record 2.2 million acres have burned this year with fears that the worse is still to come. Wildfires season usually peaks in October.

The fires this year have been mainly fueled by lightning strikes. In previous years, downed power lines. In this newest round, you can add at least one oddity to the mix. A pyrotechnic device from a so-called gender reveal party. The unfortunate stunt east of Los Angeles forcing evacuations and charring more than 10,000 acres.


CAPTAIN BENNETT MILLOY, CALIFORNIA FIRE: After the fire began, the family attempted suppression on their own. They tried to use water bottles which in four foot high grass, you're not going to capture a grass fire with that.

SIMON (on camera): You can see some of the devastation behind me. This was 116-year-old general store called Crestman. It was really a landmark here. It just went up overnight.

We were actually here the day before and all this was totally intact. You can see this gas station next to the general store and see the charred landscape, all of the trees. There's a lot of homes in this area that have been destroyed.

And when you think about it, this fire is destined already to be one of the largest wildfires in state's history. The good news is the weather has got a little better. The temperatures are cooler. But wind remains a factor.

In the meantime, more people are continuing to be airlifted out of this particular area. These are people who were enjoying the long Labor Day weekend and they simply got caught up by the flames. Some of the roads were impassable. So, they simply had to hunker in place.

So military helicopters had to come in and get those people out. At least 140 people were airlifted out just on Tuesday -- Laura and Boris.


JARRETT: All right, Dan, thank you for that report.

A spike in coronavirus cases is being linked to fraternities at the University of Tennessee. We have CNN reporters covering all the latest developments for you.



Coronavirus case counts at the University of Tennessee are rising fast. The head of the school says fraternities are part of the problem.

Chancellor Donde Plowman says fraternities are sharing information on how to host parties getting caught, moving parties off campus and among other things, telling fraternity members not to get tested.

University is reporting 600 COVID-19 cases and over 2,000 people in quarantine.

Meanwhile, the mayor of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, say bars can now reopen at 50 percent occupancy. Mayor Walter Maddox closed bars August 24th after a surge of coronavirus cases on the campus of the University of Alabama. The mayor announces daily cases and positivist rates are declining but the Alabama Department of Health says there has yet to be a steady decline in positive cases in Tuscaloosa.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Paula Newton in Ottawa where officials say this is a critical week for Canada, as they are now experiencing what they call a rapid resurgence in cases, even though this is not yet a second wave. Now, cases up 25 percent in the last week alone, averaging about 600 cases a day. It doesn't sound like a lot but it's nearly double what it was one

time in the summer. And with schools now re-opening, officials say it is time to cut down on those social interactions of particular concern. An incident at a karaoke bar led to almost 50 cases, and now, a wedding in Toronto linked to almost two dozen cases. In British Columbia, they've now actually closed down nightclubs, saying social interaction needs to be cut down. People need to be more cautious.

ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Erica Hill in New York City where 96 percent of the public schools have passed a ventilation inspection, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio. The mayor said there's nearly 1,500 public school buildings in the city and still time to make improvements where needed. New York City public schools are scheduled to re-open on September 21st.


SANCHEZ: Thanks to all of our reporters for those updates.

We got an emotional moment to share with you at the U.S. Open. Naomi Osaka promoting a message of social justice surprised with a powerful message of support.

Your "Bleacher Report" is next.



JARRETT: Welcome back.

Tennis star Naomi Osaka made another statement with her mask on Tuesday at the U.S. Open.

Carolyn Manno has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report" -- Carolyn.


Well, as you know, Naomi Osaka brought the tennis world to a standstill before the U.S. open when she refused to play to bring attention to issues of social justice and the 22-year-old continues to reinforce that message with her efforts at the U.S. Open and Many people are paying attention.

Before each match she's worn the name of a victim whose sparked cries for social justice. Last night, she honored George Floyd while taking the court Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Earlier in the tournament, Osaka wore masks with a name of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin and 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. After her fifth win of the tournament, last night, Martin's mother and Arbery's father thanked her for representing their sons in a video message. Osaka explained how that made her feel when asked about the moment afterwards.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NAOMI OSAKA, 2018 US OPEN CHAMPION: Actually I was just trying real hard not to cry. But for me, it's a bit surreal and extremely touching that, you know, they would feel touched by what I'm doing. For me I feel like what I'm doing it's nothing. It's a speck of what I could be doing.

So, yeah, it was really emotional. I feel like, I don't know, after I saw it -- at first I was a bit in shock, but now that I'm here and I took the time, I'm just -- I don't know. I'm grateful and I'm really humbled.


MANNO: Social justice is top of mine for the NFL and its players as the Chiefs and Texans open this year's season in Kansas City tomorrow. Players will be able to express themselves by wearing T-shirts pre- game.


There will also be messaging in the end zones.

Meantime, EA Sports is putting Colin Kaepernick back in its Madden video game for the first time in four years. He will be listed as a top free agent in "Madden 21" and rank as one of the top 15 quarterbacks in game. Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem back in 2016.

Commissioner Roger Goodell encouraged teams to sign Kapernick back in June. He has yet to receive any offers.

In the NBA playoffs, (AUDIO GAP) Milwaukee superstar sidelined with an angle injury. Jimmy Butler, one of six key players in double figures. Miami wins the series in five games. They head to the Eastern Conference finals for a meeting with the Celtics or the defending champs, Toronto Raptors.

And at 162 games, LeBron James is now the NBA's all time leader in career playoff wins. The Lakers using a late run Tuesday night to beat the Rockets and take a 2-1 series lead in their Western Conference semifinals series. James and Davis combining for 62 points.

So, Boris, the NBA set a precedent early in these playoffs how they will handle issues of social justice. And now, we will be paying attention as the NFL follows suit. It's time to see what they are going to do.

SANCHEZ: Yeah. It's crazy, the season kick off in a few days on Thursday. The chiefs playing, It's going to be really exciting to watch. And also, the question of how they're going to handle COVID-19 still a very pressing question.

Carolyn Manno, thanks so much for the "Bleacher Report" this morning.

Democratic nominee Joe Biden heading to Michigan later today, where we'll get new details on what he pledges to do with the economy if he gets elected. Details ahead.