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$20 Minimum Wage For California Fast-Food Workers Begins; Alex Murdaugh Receives 40 Years In Prison For Financial Crimes; CDC: Nearly 100 Measles Cases Reported In U.S. This Year; CDC: Second Case Of Bird Flu Reported In U.S. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired April 01, 2024 - 14:30   ET



GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Like an RFK Jr. And that will hurt Joe Biden tremendously. And so they've got to point out to these voters look at what he's doing here.

And remind them what it was like when he was president and remind them about January 6th. And hopefully, they can get back some of those voters that way.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Yes, the debate is not academic. We saw it. Donald Trump saw it.

BORGER: Yes, yes.

KEILAR: And we know what can happen.

BORDER: Exactly.

KEILAR: Gloria, thank you so much. Always appreciate it.


KEILAR: And next, it is a good day to be a fast-food worker in California. But what about a fast-food customer? The major pay raise that goes into effect there today.

And multiple measles outbreaks growing. We are tracking the latest cases.



KEILAR: A half-a-million people in California just got a raise. As of today, the minimum wage for fast-food workers is $20 an hour, which is about a 25 percent raise for a lot of folks who work at the big national chains.

CNN's Natasha Chen is live from Los Angeles.

That's quite an increase. I think anyone would love to see that, Natasha. What are you hearing from workers? NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Brianna, this applies

to fast-food locations where there are more than 60 nationwide stores. So it's the larger fast-food chains that you're familiar with.

The workers we've talked to over the last several years -- I've been covering the since 2022 -- this is a long, hard-fought win for them. They have been working toward this for a long time.

And at least one worker who's going to speak with me right after this live shot said that she's been living with her two parents, one who also works at a McDonald's with her and the other who's a construction worker, they've been living in the same space together in the same unit since the '90s.

And she's hoping that this may be the first step in affording a slightly more comfortable place, sometimes buying a cup of coffee and having a little bit of an easier time paying the bills.

But to be clear, this law also creates a first of its kind, fast council to help address some of the safety issues, wage theft, and other complaints that fast-food workers have, hoping that this council, with representation from both the restaurant side and the worker side, can help address some of that.

KEILAR: Tell us about this concern and who has it that this new law might actually backfire?

CHEN: Yes. So obviously, the people coming together to have a seat at this council table, they all feel like this is a good step in everyone coming together to solve some problems.

The wages are a huge point of debate, right? We have a $20 minimum wage now set for just this industry. And that wage can go up based on inflation for the rest of this decade if the council so chooses to do so.

There are franchise owners who own maybe just a few locations, some of them owning just one location, who are now having to deal with a major increase in costs. And so some are cutting back worker hours.

Some are implementing new technology like self-serve kiosks and experimenting with AI and drive-thrus to absorb some of that cost.

Another franchise owner tells me he is really going to try to preserve the people, the jobs, the hours, and instead cut back elsewhere.

Here's what he said.


SCOTT RODRICK, OWNS 18 MCDONALD'S LOCATIONS: People are my most important asset. So the very last thing that I want to impact are the hours of my employees and the positions of my employees.

And so I'm trying to do everything that I can through price through more thoughtful capex decisions to not have to impact folks' jobs because human beings run my restaurants.


CHEN: Both he and another franchise owner I was just speaking to have raised their menu prices across the board, in general, about three to 7 percent depending on what it is, in the last few months in anticipation of these bigger costs starting today.

So people will start seeing higher prices on the menu, but they also tell me that there's a limit to that. Nobody's going to pay $20 for a Happy Meal. And the Al-Balah (ph) local owner says that she's already seen lower transactions since those prices went up.

So it has to come out somewhere and we're going to see how this goes in the coming months -- Brianna?

KEILAR: Yes, we are. it'll be very interesting.

Natasha Chen, thank you for that report.

Next, why convicted killer, Alex Murdaugh, was just sentenced to more time in prison.

Plus, why some officials in Ohio are worried the eclipse could impact cell towers.



BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: Today, in federal court, a judge in South Carolina sentenced convicted murderer, Alex Murdaugh, to 40 years in prison for financial crimes.

Last year, the disbarred former attorney pleaded guilty to nearly two dozen charges, including conspiracy, fraud, and money laundering.

He's already serving 27 years after previously pleading guilty to similar crimes in state court. And this is all in addition to the two consecutive life sentences he already received a year ago for the murders of his wife and son.

Let's turn now to CNN's Dianne Gallagher, who was inside the courtroom today.

Dianne, the judge not holding back here.

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, Boris, the judge absolutely ripped Alex Murdaugh as a disgrace to the legal community.

He called him a disgrace and repeatedly highlighted that the now- disbarred attorney targeted the most needy and vulnerable people. He talked about a quadriplegic, widows, orphans. These are the victims of Alex Murdaugh's financial crimes.

He said, quote, "I've never seen this type of conduct. A massive fraud over many years that took a staggering human toll on his victims. This sentence must speak the truth. And the truth here is that this is a reprehensible crime."


But the judge didn't hold back on the sentence either -- 40 years to be served concurrently with those states' sentences. Federal prosecutors recommended a maximum of 30 years.

Now, Murdaugh also addressed the court with a lengthy apology where he noted that he's been sober for 937 days now.

He said, quote, "I do want you to know, and I do want all of the victims to know, I am filled with sorrow. I am filled with remorse. I am filled with guilt. And I also spend a lot of time trying to think about how in the world I might ever make up for the things that I have done."

Now, federal prosecutors maintain he still is not being honest about $6 million in missing stolen funds. They say that Murdaugh claims he spent all that money on drugs.

But when they look at the financials, it simply doesn't make sense for that to have happened. They praise today's sentencing as justice.


ADAIR FORD BOROUGHS, U.S. ATTORNEY, DISTRICT OF SOUTH CAROLINA: The sentence today was about obtaining justice for the financial victims of Alex Murdaugh.

These victims are not just names listed in a court filing. They are real people who trusted in an attorney at the most difficult times of their lives.

Alex Murdaugh deserve every single day of the sentence that he deserved today, that he obtained today. And while it cannot undo any of his crimes, we do hope that it can bring some measure of closure for his victims.


GALLAGHER: So why does the sentence matter? Well, look, of course, number one, because of those victims. They're real people and they were really hurt by this.

But number two, he has those two consecutive life sentences, but he is planning to restart his appeal of those.

Both state and federal prosecutors, Boris, have said that this acts as insurance in case he wins those appeals and will no longer be serving those life sentences that Alex Murdaugh will likely spend, still, the rest of his life behind bars.

SANCHEZ: Dianne Gallagher, live for us in Charleston. Thank you so much. Brianna?

KEILAR: Now, to some of the other headlines that were watching this hour.

Less than a week after Tuesday's catastrophe in Baltimore, a barge slammed into another U.S. bridge, this time, in eastern Oklahoma.

It was a family that was out fishing on the Arkansas River that caught the collision on camera. Troopers redirected traffic while officials inspected one of the pillars. Engineers determining the structure was safe. And they reopened it hours later, though it's still not clear why the collision happened.

Also, some large chunks of California's iconic Highway 1 now part of the Pacific Ocean, after tearing away from the Big Sur coast over the weekend after heavy rains.

The incident stranded hundreds of travelers for hours, including some who had to sleep in their cars. That section of the highway still closed to all but essential traffic.

And cellular companies are trying to make sure that cities in the path of next week's solar eclipse can handle the expected spike in cell phone usage.

According to CNN's Cleveland affiliate, Verizon engineers are confident that their network can handle the surge in demand while T- Mobile and AT&T say their systems should also be just fine.

And all of us here at CNN are getting our eclipse glasses ready to view this rare celestial phenomenon that won't come around again for more decades, folks.

So join us for special live coverage of the "ECLIPSE ACROSS AMERICA," starting Monday, April 8th at 1:00 p.m. Eastern. You can, also stream it on Max.

Coming up. it's only April, and we have a vaccine. But the CDC says nearly 100 cases of measles have already been reported. Inside the growing outbreaks, plural, next.

Plus hackers targeting the Kremlin. What they managed to steal.



KEILAR: In a new health alert from the CDC, measles cases are rising in the U.S. at an alarming rate, with cases in just the first three months of this year surpassing the total number for all of 2023.

And as of Friday, we're seeing 97 cases across the country. Half of those ending in hospitalizations with Chicago being particularly hard hit.

CNN health reporter, Jacqueline Howard, is following all of this for us.

And, Jacqueline, tell us what's behind this surge in cases.

JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER: Well, Brianna, two things are happening. One, we know that some cases are travel-related. So the person acquired the measles virus outside of the U.S. and then traveled here.

But two, and what's very concerning is many of these cases are tied to low vaccination rates here in the U.S.

We know that some of these outbreaks are occurring in pockets of communities where were seeing low vaccination rates. And we have a very effective vaccine against the measles virus, the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine.

So as we look at the numbers so far this year, as you said, there are 97 total cases that have been reported across 17 states and New York City here in the U.S.

Ninety-seven is more than all of the cases we saw last year. In 2023, there were 58 cases total for the country.

Today is April 1st, Brianna, and we're already at 97. So this is something health officials are watching closely.

Measles is so contagious that if an infected person coughs or sneezes. It can linger in the air for up to two hours.

But we do know the vaccine is 97 percent effective. So that's the main message here, is we really have to rely on getting vaccinations and vaccination rates up to help reduce the risk of these kind of outbreaks occurring -- Brianna?


KEILAR: And I also want to ask you about bird flu because the second case has just been reported in the U.S. and it's connected to cattle?

HOWARD: That's right. This case was reported in the state of Texas. And we know that the Health Department says this patient works on a dairy farm and became ill following contact with dairy cows presumed to be infected

with avian influenza, with bird flu.

So this does not change the risk level for the nation. But it is something that health officials are watching closely. Seeing this possible connection with dairy cows is something that's really, really getting a lot of attention.

But again, this has not raised the risk level for the nation. It's the first case in the state of Texas and, like he said, the second case nationally.

And it's something that health officials are keeping a close eye on -- Brianna? KEILAR: As they should be.

Jacqueline Howard, thank you so much for that report. We appreciate it.

And coming up next hour, were expecting into here from Maryland officials with the latest on the bridge collapse in Baltimore. The governor is expected to speak. And we're going to bring that to you live. Stay with us.