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Texas Supreme Court Frees Salon Owner Jailed for Defying Lockdown Orders; Headlines on Coronavirus Response from Around the Country; Daughter of Meating Packing Plant Employee on Ventilator: JBS Said She Had a Cold; DOJ Drops Charges in Michael Flynn Case; Update on the Coronavirus Response from Around the World. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired May 07, 2020 - 14:30   ET



ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So many people are asking, what happens if we just decide to ignore the orders altogether and just start opening up at will. There are fines and citations that, theoretically, could still be issued, but that could add up rather quickly.

So many people are wondering, why not just push the envelope and continue to press on and run. And given the political climate here in Texas, many people wondering if there's even a stomach to issue fines to a bunch of small business owners.

The real question is whether there's any teeth in these orders that exist here now in Texas.


Ed, thank you very much, in Dallas.

As three million more Americans file for unemployment this week, another major retail giant is filing for bankruptcy.

Plus, why the Pentagon is considering not allowing recruits who have had the virus.

New Zealand doing something right. They don't no new cases, in part, because of what they call the bubble concept. We'll tell you how the bubble works and whether Americans could actually pull that off.



BALDWIN: A Georgia construction sights has been forced to significantly scale back its workforce after nearly 200 workers tested positive for coronavirus. The workers are building this power plant in Waynesboro, just south of Augusta, Georgia. And 130 of those who tested positive have already recovered and have returned to work.

The company said construction will continue under strict social distancing guidelines, including limiting the number of people on sites, suspending meetings and closing the cafeteria.

Let's get more now from my CNN colleagues across the country.


POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Polo Sandoval, in Hoboken, New Jersey, where the state's governor is extending the state's public health emergency. Authorities making it clear it's more procedural than anything else. These kinds of measures usually expire after 30 days, so that's really the need here is to extend it to at least June 5th.

Authorities looking closer at those long-term care facilities where authorities have already seen at least 4200 deaths, at least half of the COVID-related deaths New Jersey has seen.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: I'm Barbara Starr, in Arlington, Virginia. The Pentagon considering a new policy that could ban some recruits from joining the military if they have had coronavirus.

Here's what's on the table. The Pentagon says they are likely to have anyone who's been hospitalized for the virus get a medical waiver before they can join. One of the concerns is there's very little understanding of the long-term impact of coronavirus on the body.

So if they get a medical waiver, they can still possibly join the military. There are a number of medical conditions that do already require waivers.

Pentagon officials are saying this really is not out of the ordinary but there's too much right now that is unknown about the virus.

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I'm Sarah Westwood, in Washington. Livestock farms across the country are feeling the consequences of closures of meat process plants. Many farmers have to face the devastating prospect of having to euthanize some of the animals.

Some have turned to Craig's List on social media to try to offload the livestock so they don't have to euthanize them. I spoke to one hog farm in Minnesota who is selling his hogs on Craig's List at a significant personal loss to avoid having to euthanize them because the next generation of hogs is on his way to the farms in just a couple of weeks.

But with meat packing plants closed, farmers have nowhere to take animals ready for market. And that created a jarring split screen with empty grocery store shelves across the country with meat shortages at the other end of the food supply chain.

EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Evan McMorris-Santoro, in New York. Forty-six states have chosen to keep their schools closed through the end of the academic year.

But schools in Montana have the option to reopen today. And some have chosen to do it.

Willow Creek School has around 60 students and reopened this morning with pandemic-related changes to the school day. School bus services reduced. So many parents had to drop kids off. Upon arrival, students escorted into the building one by one and had their temperatures taken.

School return is voluntary. Around 25 percent of students are expected to rejoin their classes by Zoom.


BALDWIN: Thanks to all of you.

Coming up next here on CNN, why the Pentagon is considering banning recruits who have had the virus.


And New Zealand is definitely doing something right because they don't have any new cases, in part, because of this bubble concept. We'll tell you how it works and whether it could actually happen here.



BALDWIN: A seventh employee of a JBS meat packing plant in Greeley, Colorado, has died. Data from the Colorado Health Department shows the plant had the state's largest outbreak of coronavirus. More than 280 workers had tested positive.

Since the plant reopened, after temporarily closing to clean and disinfect, a union leader tells CNN the whereabouts of hundreds of workers is unknown. JBS responded by saying the absenteeism rate is about 7 percent above pre-coronavirus levels.

And a woman by the name of Twin A (ph)-- here is her photo - is one of the JBS workers, is now on a ventilator.

Days before being admitted in late March, A's (ph) daughter said her mother visited the JBS clinic and was told she had a cold and she could go back to work.

And her daughter, San Quinn, is with me now.

San, I know you're on the phone. Thank you so much for jumping on.

Of course, we're thinking about your mother and what a bittersweet time as well for you because congratulations on your baby.

I want to start with you. How are you, how is your newborn?

SAN TWIN, DAUGHTER OF WORKER AT JBS MEAT PACKING PLANT WITH CORONAVIRUS (via telephone): Yes, I am doing great and my newborn is doing great right now. Also recover from the COVID-19 pretty well already. Yes, thank you for having me.

BALDWIN: Yes, no, thank you. And I want to get to your being tested in just a second but let's talk about your mom. Tell me how you learned she was so sick because as we mentioned, she went to work. Then she went to the doctor. Doctor said, it's a cold. You can go back. How did you know?


TWIN: Yes, it's because me and my mom, we are very close together. And if something happens and she always call me and ask me opinions, what she has to do and what she's supposed to do.

And on that day, she called me a couple of times and then she say, daughter, I am at work right now, and I am having difficulty breathing and chest pain and body ache and I cough a lot and sore throat.

And then I told my mom, yes, you have to go to the clinic and get checked out if you have COVID-19 or not. After that -- before that, she told me one of her friends already have this, felt they have COVID-19 positive. So I just told my mom to go double check it.

And they told my mom it's a normal flu and that she can go back to work. And then, on that day, she had a wet uniform. She asked the team leader to change for her and they don't even change it. She came home with wet clothes.

BALDWIN: You sound like a daughter who loves her mother very much who told her to go back to the doctor. You had that sense something was wrong.

And what is it like looking at these photos that we've been playing of your mother hooked up to all these machines? That must be so difficult.

TWIN: It is. It's because my mom has given everything to us. She's a very good mother. And worker also, a hard worker and good worker. And then, plus, she don't miss a lot of work unless she's sick.

And taken care of us pretty well. And it's a hard time seeing her with that machine. And it's not recovering. She's not recovering yet.

And then another issue that we're having right now for my little brother, he's in Marines and he try to come back and he couldn't because of the COVID-19. They had to be in the base.

BALDWIN: That is the excruciating part of all of this. So many loved ones in the hospital and they're alone because you cannot physically be near them because of this horrid, horrid virus.

TWIN: Yes.

BALDWIN: San, I thank you so much for using your voice and speaking up about your mom. Let's stay in contact.

And again, congratulations with your baby and I'm glad you're A-OK. TWIN: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Getting through to the other side with this virus. Thank you very much.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BALDWIN: Needed to pull away from that because we are just now getting this huge piece of news.

This breaking news into CNN. The Justice Department dropping its case against Michael Flynn, the president's very first national security adviser, whose lies about his contacts with Russia prompted the president to fire him. That was three years ago and led to Flynn working with the Mueller investigation.

Shimon Prokupecz here with me.

Shimon, what exactly do you know?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, so the government, the U.S. attorney, Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., filed this motion and they're filing to have the case dismissed. It's a 108-page filing, so we're still going through it.

But some of the headlines here. Certainly, one of the things the Department of Justice here arguing that this case, they could no longer pursue this case and that the prosecution of this case would not serve the interest of justice.

They say that the Michael Flynn interview, remember that controversial interview of what really became controversial certainly under this attorney general, they say that should never have taken place. It was unjustified.

The initial counterintelligence investigation into Russia interference, I covered that extensively. I was covering the story when Michael Flynn was arrested, the morning he surrendered and was arrested. I covered, remember, when Michael Flynn pleaded guilty, decided to cooperate.

The Department of Justice, under this attorney general, William Barr, saying none of this should have happened, essentially. The FBI should have never interviewed Michael Flynn. They weren't justified to do the interview and, therefore, now, this case, they can no longer go forward with this case.


To remind folks, Michel Flynn pleaded guilty. He cooperated with the government. He, in essence, got a cooperation agreement with the FBI, with the Department of Justice. And in turn, they didn't bring certain charges.

The controversy sort of started after he pleaded guilty and was getting ready to be sentenced. I was out there. I remember this when the judge said to him, all sorts

of questions about his cooperation, and Michael Flynn, of course, and his attorneys became concerned that the judge was going to give him prison time.

Then, of course, things sort of took a turn. Ever since then, we've been seeing these motions from his attorneys, new attorneys. Of course, we've heard the attorney general raise concerns. The president of the United States just last week consistently tweeting, reminding folks, telling folks, arguing that Michael Flynn was treated unfairly.

Well, now today, in really what is a remarkable move by the Department of Justice. And is just really unprecedented, after someone has been cooperating, after someone has pleaded guilty, was a government witness, for them to turn around and do this today. I'm not going to tell you that anyone is surprised by this move but it's certainly unprecedented.

BALDWIN: Elie Honig -- Shimon, stay with me.

Elie Honing, I can see the face on Shimon's face, now they're dropping the case? What do you make of this?

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: The fix is in. This is an absolute injustice. But like Shimon said, you could see this coming.

Michael Flynn lied to the FBI, he pled guilty under oath in federal court to doing that, he took a plea. And then what does Bill Barr do? He says of all the tens of thousands of cases he's been in charge of in the Department of Justice, look at that one. Let's take a closer look.

Not coincidentally the one the president has railing on. And now we see Bill Barr doing Donald Trump's dirty work. Now Donald Trump is not going to have to issue a pardon because Bill Ball stepped in and taken this unprecedented step.

I've never seen anything like this as my 14 years as a federal or state prosecutor -- Brooke?

BALDWIN: We'll stay on this for now.

Thank you, Elie. I appreciate you, Elie Honig.

More on our other breaking news this afternoon. One of the president's valets, a member of this elite military unit that works closely with the president in the West Wing, has tested positive for coronavirus.

Plus, the White House cancels daily medical briefings, limits Dr. Fauci's appearances, and now is rejecting CDC guidance on how to safely reopen this country.

And some news just in on how ineffective the early measures were to screen passengers just at the very beginning of this outbreak.

So much to discuss. We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


BALDWIN: Moscow is extending its coronavirus restrictions until the end of May after the mayor said today the infection rate is far higher than previously reported. He said studies have found about 300,000 people have the virus, about three times higher than the official case count.

More from my CNN colleagues around the world.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT; I'm Nick Paton Walsh, in London. On Sunday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson will slightly ease the restrictions on the British people in a speech. I'm told by an official close to policy, it would likely be dropping the phrase "stay-at-home," which allows outdoor stores to open, and expanding the social groups that they're allowed to be in. Minor tweaks, though, not a substantial change.

MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: I'm Melissa Bell, in Paris, where the mapping and timeline of the initial European coronavirus outbreak have been entirely upended by the discovery that one man treated in a hospital outside of Paris in December was in fact COVID- 19-positive.

What that means is that weeks before the first cases were identified in Europe and more than two months before the beginning of the outbreak here in Europe proper, when Italy shut down some of its northern towns and villages, COVID-19 was already present in Europe and spreading.

ANNA STEWART, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Anna Stewart, in London. The Bank of England has warned the U.K. economy is facing its worst recession in 300 years. It's a very steep downturn. The economy is expected to shrink by nearly 30 percent in the second quarter of the year.

The governor of the Bank of England, though, expects the recovery to be quicker than out of the financial crisis with a full rebound by the end of next year.

That, though, is very much dependent on how the U.K. government lifts lockdown, how much support is given to companies and employees as the U.K. tries to return to some semblance of normal.


BALDWIN: All right. Thank you, everyone. We continue on.


You are watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being with me, of course, to our viewers in the United States and around the world. You're watching CNN's special coverage of this coronavirus pandemic.