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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

CDC: 73 Million Americans Now Live in High Transmission Areas; Coronavirus Sapping Some of the Fun from Tokyo Olympics; Former Trump Adviser Barrack Charged with Illegal Foreign Lobbying; Milwaukee Bucks Win First NBA Title Since 1971. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired July 21, 2021 - 05:00   ET



LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Nearly 73 million Americans now live in an area where COVID is running rampant. Why some doctors say it's time to mask up once again.

JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN ANCHOR: Former President Trump's inauguration committee chair joining a long list of allies facing criminal charges.

JARRETT: And they are celebrating on the streets of Milwaukee. For the first time in 50 years, the Bucks are NBA champions. They are probably still out there this morning.

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

CHATTERLEY: And I'm Julia Chatterley, in for Christine Romans. It's Wednesday, July 21st. It's 5:00 a.m. in New York.

JARRETT: So, we start with COVID this morning and if you live in an area with a low vaccination rate, you are in greater danger this morning. It is just that simple, the CDC data shows 22 percent of the U.S. population now lives in a county with high COVID transmission. That is nearly 73 million Americans we're talking about.

And even more staggering, it's about 10 times higher as many people as in early June. So why is it happening?

Here's the head of the CDC.


DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: Areas with limited vaccine coverage are allowing for the emergence and rapid spread of the highly transmissible delta variant. The delta variant now represents 83 percent of sequenced cases. This is a dramatic increase up from 50 percent the week of July 3.


CHATTERLEY: The widespread return to in-person week is coming or in many cases, it's already here in lots of areas. That combined with the increase in transmission is raising the question, should you be forced to wear a mask or get vaccinated. County home to Las Vegas has just passed a temporary mask mandate for all employees working indoors in public spaces.

New York will soon require all workers at city hospitals and clinics to be vaccinated or tested weekly for COVID-19.

JARRETT: Meanwhile, Missouri is still struggling to get its citizens vaccinated. The governor there set to announce a new vaccine incentive program today, and a top public health official is pleading with people to take action.


DR. CLAY DUNAGAN, ST. LOUIS METROPOLITAN PANDEMIC TASK FORCE: We can't do much about the variant that we are fighting, but we can change the other two, masking and vaccination. We're strongly encouraging all citizens of our region to return to or to continue wearing masks in public places.


CHATTERLEY: Back to school season also coming soon, putting the focus on transmission among kids. In Des Moines, Iowa, Blank Children's Hospital has been at or near capacity every day for weeks.


DR. JOEL WADDELL, BLANK CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL, DES MOINES: If we have a situation where we have large number of students congregated for hours at a time in a school, with no mask, it is very possible the delta variant could just run rampant through each classroom.


JARRETT: Dr. Fauci says he believes that there will be enough data for the FDA to consider authorizing vaccines for children under 12 likely by early winter. That would be welcomed, but there is a sobering reminder how much children have been hurt by this pandemic. A new global study estimates that 1.5 million children worldwide have lost a parent or grandparent to COVID-19.

CHATTERLEY: Yeah, it's heartbreaking.

All right. From the worst drop of the year to the best day in a month. It's a headspinner. The Dow rebounding Tuesday, closing up 550 points. But the gains didn't make up for all of Monday's losses. The S&P 500 had its best session since March, the Nasdaq, as you see there logging its best day since May. The fear, of course, is that COVID variants could threaten the economic recovery and without enough people getting vaccinated, as we've discussed, any renewed measures put in place to keep the virus from spreading could hurt the consumer confidence and knock the recovery further.

Let me give you a quick look at what we're seeing for Wall Street futures right now, we're higher once again. If we end the session today like this, then we've gone nowhere fast all week. And just remember, despite the yo-yoing over the past couple day, many cruise and airline stocks are still down more than 20 percent from their recent highs. It's what we call a bear market.

So these concerns are real. Add to that, concerns about inflation and the earnings reports we get this week. That's going to keep investors on their toes over the next few weeks.

JARRETT: Can I just ask? Why do you see a yo-yo like that? If the concern was the delta variant, the delta variant is still here.

CHATTERLEY: That's a great question of which no investor will ever answer. You just come out of the weekend, you read a lot of news, you panic, and then you go actually, to your exact point.

JARRETT: To your exact point.

CHATTERLEY: It's been here. It's not going away. We can deal with it. They buy back.


JARRETT: So maybe we'll see more of those yo-yos.

CHATTERLEY: We will definitely see that, because you -- cruise lines, airline stocks, they're already telling you there were fears out there and that's despite the busy airports, as you mentioned yesterday.

ROMANS: All right. Well, the number of COVID cases linked to the Tokyo Olympics rising to 79 with the opening ceremony now just two days away.

This morning, a Dutch skateboarder, Candy Jacobs, became one of the first Olympic athletes to pull out of the games after arriving in Tokyo. She's now tested positive for COVID-19, but it's unclear if she was staying in the Olympic Village.

The competition already started, the head of the Tokyo organizing committee says a last-minute cancellation of the games is still astonishingly still an option. Tokyo just reported its highest daily COVID-19 case increase since January.

CNN's Blake Essig is live in Tokyo for us.

Blake, good morning.

The head of this organizing committee I thought was really stunning to say, this 11th hour cancellation is still possible. But how likely is that to actually happen?

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, you know, Laura, it seems more political at this point, given how unpopular these games have been for months with the general population. But there's no question health and safety remain a big concern. And although organizers maintain that the Olympic Village is a safe place to stay, given all the COVID-19 countermeasures, Team USA Gymnastics has decided to stay at a hotel in Tokyo rather than stay at the Olympic Village, to better be able to control athletes and their safety.

Now, it's hard to imagine that the legacy of these Olympic Games won't be defined by the global health crisis. And with all the rules and regulations put in place, Tokyo 2020 is shaping up to be remembered as the no-fun Olympics.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Welcome to day one in Tokyo. It is such a perfect day today.

ESSIG (voice-over): With just a few days to go before the games began, the Olympic village is starting to come alive.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Very quiet, not that many athletes. But lots of food choices, which is always really good.

ESSIG: A transformation captured on video by a member of the Australian swim team.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That little car is driving by itself, like no one's -- there's no deal with it. That's kind of cool.

ESSIG: Under normal circumstances, the Olympics create a festival- like atmosphere. But COVID fears at these games have created a unique situation. Ninety-seven percent of events taking place will be held without spectators.

And for all events, the sale of alcohol has been banned, and fans are not allowed to cheer.

Back in the Olympic Village, organizers say athletes can only consume alcohol alone in their room and must avoid hugs, handshakes, high fives, and apparently, sex.

RHYS MCCLENAGHAN, IRISH GYMNAST: In today's episode of fake news at the Olympic Games, the beds are meant to be anti-sex.

ESSIG: Recently, some media reports and athlete tweets came out saying that the beds, made of recycled materials, were anti-sex and would collapse under the weight of more than one person or celebrations. A claim that Olympic organizers say isn't true and one that was so elegantly disproven by Irish gymnast Rhys McClenaghan.

MCCLENAGHAN: Apparently, they're going to break under any sudden movements. It's fake. Fake news.

ESSIG: Over the past several decades, the Olympic Village has developed a bit of a reputation. That reputation involves hundreds of thousands of condoms and a lot of people using them.

MAKI HIRAYAMA, SOCIOLOGIST, MEIJI UNIVERSITY: All the top athletes of the Olympics had extreme concentration for long years, and they cannot leave only with concentration, and we need release.

ESSIG: That release for athletes, according to Maki Hirayama, a sociologist who studies sexuality, often happens in the form of sexual activity.

HIRAYAMA: After the competition, they need a deep relaxation. And I believe to have sex is the biggest relaxation.

ESSIG: While Olympic organizers didn't include any specifics about sex in the playbook outlining COVID-19 countermeasures, they are, in a way, making it more difficult.

Condoms are typically distributed to athletes when they arrive at the Olympic Village. This time around, roughly 150,000 condoms will still be distributed, but only at check-out. A number that, Kunihiko Okamoto, vice president of Okamoto Industries, who supplied some of the condoms being distributed at the games, says was reduced because of COVID-19.

KUNIHIKO OKAMOTO, VICE PRESIDENT, OKAMOTO INDUSTRIES (through translator): Before the pandemic, we thought the Olympics would be a great opportunity to showcase our products. It's important to raise awareness around STDs. But during the pandemic, and given the situation, we feel there are more important things in the world than talking about the importance of condoms.

ESSIG: But whether condoms are readily available to athletes, Hirayama believes sex in the village is going to happen more than ever before. She says despite the restrictions put in place, after dealing with the pandemic, a delayed Olympics, and a lifetime of training and restrictions, the big release for athletes is inevitable.



ESSIG (on camera): Now, despite continued calls by medical professionals for the games to be canceled or postponed, earlier today, the head of the World Health Organization backed the Olympics saying the world needs a celebration of hope. And although the opening ceremony is set for Friday, Olympic competition is already underway in Fukushima. While fans won't be seen in or around the stadium, apparently a bear was spotted just a few hours before the first pitch of the first softball game. Police set off fireworks to try to scare the bear away.

And for the record, Laura, I was in Fukushima, in the heavily wooded area outside the stadium over the weekend. I was not aware there were bears.

JARRETT: All right. Well, you definitely had the most enlightening assignment of the morning. That's for sure.

Nice job keeping a poker face as the sociologist went on and on about release.

CHATTERLEY: I was about to say. It was all about sex, not sports. It's an urban legend that they refrain ahead of important events. We learn things every morning.

JARRETT: Blake Essig, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

CHATTERLEY: Okay, remember, the Winter Games in Beijing are just months away. The International Olympic Committee wants fans in the stands from around the world. The top IOC official says fans will be critical to the success of the event, quote, within the limits of the Chinese health authorities.

JARRETT: Still ahead, another longtime Trump ally now in legal hot water. We'll break down why the former head of Trump's Inaugural Committee is waking up behind bars this morning.




Another Trump loyalist in trouble with the law. Former adviser, Tom Barrack, was arrested Tuesday, charged with illegally lobbying the Trump administration on behalf of the United Arab Emirates for years. Federal prosecutors also allege he lied to FBI agents about his dealing with the UAE.

JARRETT: Barrack's arrests put a spotlight on the UAE's role in shaping Trump's foreign policy, particularly with arms deal and diplomatic accords.

Barrack now joins a long list of Trump associates facing legal scrutiny.

CNN's Paula Reid has more from Washington.



Well, Barrack is just the latest person in or near the former president's inner circle who is now facing federal charges. Now, prosecutors have accused Barrack of using his close ties to the Trump campaign and the Trump White House to advance the interests of the UAE.

Now, lobbying on behalf of a foreign government in and of itself is not a crime, but prosecutors allege that he failed to properly close the fact that he was working on behalf of a foreign country to the Justice Department. And then they also say, when the FBI asked him about it, he allegedly was not honest. He lied. And that is, of course, a felony.

Now, it does not appear that Barrack is as close to the former president as he once was, and he is just another in a long line of former Trump associates who have been investigated for possibly working on behalf of foreign governments. You have Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, Rudy Giuliani, even Mike Flynn. Now, in a statement from a Barrack spokesman, it says that Mr. Barrack

has made himself a voluntarily available to investigators from the outset. He is not guilty and he will be pleading not guilty.

Now, on Tuesday, a judge ordered Barrack to remain behind bars, at least until Monday, so that they can have another hearing on this question of bail. Prosecutors have suggested that barrack is, indeed, a flight risk -- Laura, Julia.


JARRETT: Paula, thank you so much for that.

You know, Julia, it used to be that the Justice Department never brought charges like this, but clearly now they're ramping this up and making this a priority. You saw that in the indictment yesterday. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

All right. It was perhaps the best performance of his career. Fifty points for Giannis to end Milwaukee's 50-year championship drought. Your "Bleacher Report" is next.



JARRETT: For the first time in 50 years, the Milwaukee Bucks are NBA champs.

Andy Sholes has this morning's "Bleacher Report".

Andy, are folks still in the streets?

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: I'm sure, Laura, I'm sure a lot of people in Milwaukee have still not gone to bed just yet.

You know, Bucks fans have been waiting so long for this moment. And their superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo delivering in epic fashion, scoring 50 points in game six to close out the series. More than 80,000 people were inside the arena and outside in the Deer District, hoping to celebrate a championship last night.

This game back and forth in the first half, but in the second half, Giannis just taking the game over. The two-time MVP scoring 33 of his 50 points in the final two quarters. In the last 50 years, only two players have ever scored that many points in a half of a finals game, Michael Jordan and now Giannis.

Bucks would win game six, 105-98 to take the series, four games to two.

Giannis, the unanimous finals MVP. And it's been quite the journey for him. Growing up in Greece, Giannis would sell CDs on the streets to try to make ends meet. Now he's an MVP, NBA champion and forever, an NBA legend.


GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO, NBA FINALS MVP: Eight years ago, eight and a half years ago, before I came into the league, I didn't know where my next meal would come from. My mom was selling stuff in the street, like -- and now I'm here, sitting at the top of the top, you know?

And I'm extremely blessed, and that's why I can never get -- I'm extremely blessed. Even if I never have a chance to sit on this table ever again, I'm fine with it. You know, I'm fine with it. But like I hope this can give everyone a hope to believe in their dreams.


SCHOLES: And the Bucks are going to have a championship parade tomorrow. And then Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday expected to hop on a plane to Tokyo to join Team USA for the Olympics. Fun times there in Milwaukee.

All right. President Biden welcoming Tom Brady and the Super Bowl champion Buccaneers to the White House yesterday. This was Brady's first visit since 2005 with the Patriots, when George W. Bush was in office.


And the QB, well, he ended up stealing the show with a couple of zingers.


TOM BRADY, TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS QUARTERBACK: Not a lot of people, you know, think that we could have won. And, in fact, I think about 40 percent of the people still don't think we won.



BRADY: You understand that, Mr. President?

BIDEN: I understand that.

BRADY: Yeah. And personally, you know, it's nice for me to be back here. We had a game in Chicago where I forgot what down it was. I lost track of one down in 21 years of playing and they started calling me Sleepy Tom. Why would they do that to me?

BIDEN: I don't know.


SCHOLES: Brady had it going yesterday.

The last three Super Bowl winners actually did not go to the White House during the Trump presidency. The only Super Bowl winner to make the trip was the Patriots back in 2017. The Olympics opening ceremony isn't until Friday, but the competition

already underway in Tokyo. Team USA picking its first win in softball, shutting out Italy, 2-0. Thirty-eight-year-old Cat Osterman giving up only one hit in six innings. She came out of retirement for another shot at the Olympics.

The U.S. women's soccer team in action right now, seeking revenge against Sweden, the team that knocked them out of the quarterfinals at the 2016 Games in Riot. But right now, Team USA down 1-0 at the half. So the women's team, a little work to do in the second half if they want to come away with a win in their first game.

CHATTERLEY: There's plenty of time there. Go, Team USA.

Andy, thank you very much for that.

SCHOLES: Yeah, all right.

CHATTERLEY: All right. Coming up, more extreme weather, a year of rain in three days. Hundreds of thousands in China forced to evacuate after rain that trapped people in waist-high water inside subway trains. That's next.

Stay with us.