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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Wild COVID Resurgence Push the Unvaccinated to Get Their Shot; U.K. Government Considering Vaccine Passports for Large Events; Tunisian President Fires Prime Minister and Freezes Parliament. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired July 26, 2021 - 05:00   ET



LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Mask mandates starting to come back in some cities. The question now, are vaccine passports the way to reward the vaccinated and incentivize people who aren't?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: A rough start for team USA. What's behind the early struggles? We have the latest results from the Tokyo Olympics.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: More 304 cents tonight, we got a baby underneath the vehicle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's listen up!


JARRETT: A dramatic rescue caught on police body cam. Officers racing to save a mother and her 8-month old pinned under a car. Thankfully, that one had a happy ending.


JARRETT: It's Monday, July 26th, it's 5:00 a.m. here in New York, thanks for getting an EARLY START with us, I'm Laura Jarrett and Christine is back. Back from vacation --

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans, welcome to our viewers in the U.S. and around the world, we have reports this morning from London, Beirut, Tokyo, Washington, Hong Kong and Los Angeles only as CNN EARLY START can. Good morning everybody. So million-dollar vaccine lotteries, free beer and doughnuts with each shot, none of that has worked. So maybe pressure from friends and family who do not want to go back to tight COVID restrictions, maybe that can do the trick, 44 percent of the U.S. population now lives in counties considered to have high COVID transmission. CDC data shows that in early June, it was less than 3 percent.

JARRETT: The four in 10 eligible Americans who remain unvaccinated right now are under mounting pressure to get their COVID shot or at least hopefully. You can see here, vaccinations are up only very slightly. What's up dramatically in the number of COVID cases, it's nearly five times higher than just a month ago. Americans are now being forced to cope with the real life effects of the latest resurgence. Starting today, St. Louis City and county will require masks in indoor public spaces and on public transportation, putting front line workers back in the same jeopardy they faced last year.


CORY HAMMERSTONE, HAMMERSTONE'S: Whenever we had the mask mandate, we had to fight a lot of people who didn't want to wear masks. We had a customer pull a gun. We've had customers like threaten to fight and just go crazy.


ROMANS: Missouri, of course, a COVID hotspot. Several cities including Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Houston, Austin, and New Orleans, they're now taking similar steps on masks and, in some cases, not stopping there.


JAKE TAPPER, HOST, THE LEAD: Do you think masks --


TAPPER: Should be brought back for vaccinated Americans?

FAUCI: You know, Jake, this is under active consideration. We're seeing it done in L.A., we're seeing it in Chicago, we're seeing that in New Orleans, because the officials there, many of them are saying even if you're vaccinated, it's prudent to wear a mask indoors.

JEROME ADAMS, FORMER U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: More mitigation is coming. Whether it's masking or whether it's closures or whether it's your kids having to return to virtual learning, that is coming, and it's coming because this pandemic is spiraling out of control yet again. And it's spiraling out of control because we don't have enough people vaccinated.


ROMANS: The resurgence is renewing the focus on masking in schools, but a patchwork of conflicting rules and laws is causing a lot of confusion. At least, nine states have enacted laws or regulations barring districts from mandating life-saving masks in schools. One of them is Georgia, but that hasn't stopped Atlanta from joining Boston, Pittsburgh, Chicago, New Orleans and D.C. from requiring masks in schools.

JARRETT: Yes, try to wrap your head around this one, the Georgia governor's emergency order restricts schools from requiring masks, but it doesn't ban school mandates outright, leaving districts in this sort of grey zone. In person classes are scheduled to start in Atlanta just one week from today, putting parents on edge. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARA GARD, HUMAN RESOURCE PROFESSIONAL: I worry that she's going to get into school, come home one day and say nobody is wearing their masks and I'm going to say then, I have to pull you out of school. I want to ask mask mandate at school because I know my child can't be vaccinated yet.


JARRETT: In March, the federal government announced $10 billion to help states conduct COVID testing in K through 12 schools. Now, some health officials are trying to figure out how best to use that money and what type of testing, if any, to perform.

ROMANS: Meantime, the CDC and the FDA are exploring multiple options for a third vaccine dose for people with comprised immune systems. Remember that 99 percent of deaths are among those who are unvaccinated, but if vaccines do start to wear off, further exposing kids who aren't eligible for a shot yet, that could change the game.


JARRETT: Overseas vaccine passports are gaining support as a way to hopefully create an incentive for the unvaccinated to finally get their shots in a way that free beer and million-dollar lotteries have not thus far. CNN's Salma Abdelaziz is live in London for us. Salma, France is doing this, Italy doing this now. So, what is London considering?

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: Well, here in the U.K., you're probably pretty soon going to be considered a party pooper if you don't get your vaccine. There's going to be a pretty serious case of missing out here. That's because U.K. authorities are looking at requiring some form of vaccine passport to go to any event of 20,000 people or more. This could start in just a few weeks time with Premier League matches, football stadiums, soccer stadiums where this could be required. And this follows a trend that the authorities had already approved.

Just a few weeks ago, they said you're going to need that vaccine passport to be able to go back to night clubs starting September. And the U.K. here is, as you said, following the suit of other European countries. Italy and France last week also announcing that starting in August, you're going to have to show some form of immunization for even tougher rules. You're going to have to show that just to get into a restaurant or a bar, Laura. And so even tougher measures there. And as you can imagine, there has been backlash of course. In France over the weekend, tens of thousands of protesters took to the street opposed to these moves.

They say that the government is infringing on civil liberties. That it is requiring people to take the vaccine and those who are unwilling or unable will be excluded, will be kept out of jobs, kept out of their salaries. But let me just give you one final example here of how this does work. In 18 hours after France announced those new rules, in just 18 hours, 792,000 people got their shot, Laura. That was a record breaker. So, you can only imagine the authorities now saying, this is a way to control the Delta variant, this is a way to resume normal life. This is a way that we can start to get our life back to normal while still keeping most people safe.

JARRETT: Look, there are carrots and there are sticks, and there are different ways to go about this, but those numbers do not lie. All right, Salma, thank you.

ROMANS: All right, so critical week in what has been a robust recovery for the pandemic economy. First up, the latest policy decision from the Federal Reserve, that's Wednesday. The last meeting, Fed officials indicated interest rate hikes are coming in 2023, a year earlier than expected. Key will be any clue about the strength of the recovery as the Delta variant threatens to derail its progress. Also, critical, any hints when the Fed will begin rolling back its massive emergency bond purchases.

Another economic gut-check this week with the first reading of second quarter GDP, that comes Thursday. A pool of economists by the "Wall Street Journal" forecasts second quarter growth, 8.5 percent up from the really strong 6.4 in the first quarter. That would mean that the U.S. economy is now bigger than it was before the pandemic, an important milestone improve of an economy roaring back to life, and a good sign for the global recovery. Inflation concerns, the Delta variant, corporate earnings have all been dominating headlines and driving whiplash on a Wall Street after a huge sell-off last Monday, stocks finished the week at record highs.

The Dow closing above 35,000 for the first time ever, S&P 500, the Nasdaq both climbed 1 percent. I was off last week and keeping track of the market, 35,000 on the go --

JARRETT: Of course, you were, even on vacation.

ROMANS: That was a real milestone.

JARRETT: You can't stay away.

ROMANS: I can't, actually.

JARRETT: OK, a big win in the pool for team USA! Can the rest of the Americans step up their game? Your "BLEACHER REPORT" has all the highlights next.



ROMANS: All right, welcome back. Team USA making a splash in the pool at the Olympics. Coy Wire is in Tokyo with this morning's "BLEACHER REPORT". Good morning, Coy!

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you from Japan. Domination continuing for the U.S. being the fastest men in the pool on the planet, notching the third fastest men's 4x100 meter relay ever. It was Caeleb Dressel getting the guys out of the gate first and fast. Sheer power. Dressel putting into use all the plyometric training he did, and his trainer, Matt DeLancey's garage during the pandemic, leaping out to a significant lead, Blake Pieroni, Bowe Becker towing the line and then Zach Apple bringing in home. The U.S. men have won this event 10 of the 13 times it's ever been raced.

Americans facing some setbacks, too. Swimming sensation Katie Ledecky stunned by Ariarne Titmus, settling for silver in the 400-meter freestyle. The significant summed up in a reaction of Australia's coach, it was the second fastest time ever behind Ledecky's world record. Katie told me afterwards, I'm already mentally on to the next race. I could sense, though, Christine, that this loss lit an even bigger fire under her with the best events yet to come for her in the 800-meter and 1,500-meter freestyles.

Now, team USA gymnastics, even the G.O.A.T. Simone Biles showing that maybe they're human after all. Biles reacted to her performance on Instagram, posting in part, "wasn't an easy day. Truly, do feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders at times. I know, brush it off and make it seem like pressure doesn't affect me, but damn, sometimes it's hard." She wrote with a laugh. Now the 24-year-old didn't seem to be on her A-game during qualifications but advanced to the all around final as well as a clean sweep of her individual events, that will be the floor balance beam vault and uneven bars.

Biles is of course, trying to become the first woman to repeat as the all around Olympic gymnastics champion in 53 years. And you have to see this. Is this a junior high class photo or an Olympic podium? Thirteen-year-old Momiji Nishiya winning gold in the first-ever Olympic women's skateboarding competition, another 13-year-old and a 16-year-old joined her on the podium afterwards. It was the IOC's plan all along to bring a younger audience to these Tokyo games, but clearly, it's bringing younger athletes as well.


I was at the skateboarding events, and I tell you, it was a really fun vibe. One of my friends' daughter said we're watching this, and they said, mom, can I get a skateboard? So I think clearly, it's affecting some of our youth.


JARRETT: All right, Coy, thanks so much, have fun out there. All right, still ahead, a democracy in crisis. Mass protests in Tunisia after the president fired the country's prime minister and froze parliament. We have a live report next.



ROMANS: New overnight. Critics call it a coup with coronavirus as a cover. Tunisia's president has ousted the prime minister and suspended parliament following violent protests across the country over the government's handling of the pandemic. CNN's Ben Wedeman following events from Beirut, he joins us live with more. Ben, Tunisia's revolution back in 2011 was always seen as one of the success stories coming from the Arab Spring. How did we get here?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it does appear that, that success story is now in danger. What has happened is that, really, Tunisia has been in a state of some unrest for quite some time because the economy is in miserable shape. Last year, it shrank between 7 percent and 9 percent because of COVID. At the moment, Tunisia has one of the worst spikes of COVID cases in all of Africa. Unemployment is running at around 16 percent, 36 percent among youth.

And therefore the president has called for -- basically, he's suspending parliament. He's sacked his prime minister. He's lifted immunity for members of parliament, and, of course, overnight, the speaker of parliament, he came and he's also the head of the largest political party in parliament, went to the gates of parliament but found them closed. Chained shut. And he accused the president of an attempted coup but because of the miserable situation in Tunisia, many people are cheering the president on hoping that with his new expanded powers, he will be able to address some of the problems that have gone unaddressed by the political class at the moment.

But certainly, this does call into doubt what was believed to be the one successful experiment in democracy coming out of the Arab Spring. Christine?

ROMANS: All right, Ben Wedeman for us, thank you so much for that in Beirut. Laura?

JARRETT: All right, China and the U.S. relations now at a stalemate after talks got off to a tense start. The red lines and action plans, that's next.



JARRETT: House committee investigating the Capitol insurrection officially gets to work with its first hearing tomorrow. The panel will hear from four officers who responded to the January 6th riot. Officers who were beaten, tased and maced as they try to defend off the pro-Trump mob. One source tells CNN, the hearing will feature more new video from police officers' point of view.

ROMANS: A committee now has two Republican members, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has appointed Congressman Adam Kinzinger, a vocal Trump critic to join Congresswoman Liz Cheney as the panel's sole GOP voices.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): The Republicans will say what they will say. Our select committee will seek the truth. It's our patriotic duty to do so. And we do not come into our work worried about what the other side, who has been afraid of this -- maybe the Republicans can't handle the truth. But we have a responsibility to seek it. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Kinzinger said in a statement, he did not seek out that committee job, but quote, "when duty calls, I will always answer."

JARRETT: A group of rank-and-file Republicans is pushing house minority leader Kevin McCarthy to punish Kinzinger and Cheney for accepting those positions. And sources say more and more of those calls are coming from members outside of the hard-right freedom caucus. EARLY START continues right now.

Good morning everyone, this is EARLY START, I'm Laura Jarrett.

ROMANS: Good morning, I'm Christine Romans, it's just about 28 minutes past the hour this Monday morning, and time for our top ten stories to keep an eye on today.


TAPPER: Masks --

FAUCI: Yes --

TAPPER: Should be brought back for vaccinated Americans?

FAUCI: You know, Jake, this is under active consideration.


ROMANS: Pressure mounts on millions of Americans who are still unvaccinated against coronavirus, 57 percent of eligible Americans have taken the vaccine, but half of the country, half is unprotected since kids under 12 are ineligible. The Delta variant surging in states with low vaccination rates including Missouri. In St. Louis, masks will be required in public spaces starting today.

JARRETT: The British government is considering a vaccine passport program for events with 20,000 people or more. Want to go to a night club this Fall? Well, Prime Minister Boris Johnson says proof of full vaccination will be required.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tank all the way full. I just hope there's a house to go back to.


ROMANS: The Dixie Fire in California has destroyed several buildings threatening thousands more. In Oregon, the Bootleg Fire, now the largest fire in the U.S., it's resisting firefighters' efforts to control it. We'll have a report on these and other fires, we'll head to Los Angeles in a few moments for a report on the deadly fires scorching the West Coast.


will continue to support the Afghan forces. It will generally be from over the horizon. And that will be -- that will be a significant change.


JARRETT: The top general at U.S. military central command promising air strikes in support of Afghan forces even as the U.S. military withdraws from Afghanistan. Attacks by the Taliban are increasing as U.S. forces withdraw. In a few minutes, we'll show you how much ground the Taliban has gained.

ROMANS: Naomi Osaka is through to the next round at the Tokyo Olympics. The Japanese tennis star has not lost a set in two matches, and an early disappointment in the pool for team USA.