Coronavirus cases TRANSCRIPT: 3/20/20, All In w/ Chris Hayes
KATY TUR, MSNBC HOST: Thanks for being with us tonight. “ALL IN” with Chris
Hayes starts now.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. The
country faces three crises right now, all interrelated. The first of
course, is the public health crisis caused by the Coronavirus pandemic. The
second is the economic crisis caused by efforts to battle the first crisis
with social distancing and mass lockdowns. And the third is a leadership
crisis caused by a person running the federal government who is completely
incapable of dispatching his duties.
The White House and president`s responses from the beginning have been a
disaster. We are the international laggard in testing. We do not have the
preparations for this moment, despite President Trump`s own government
running simulations that warned exactly, precisely of the shortages we now
And despite the warnings from other countries already ahead of us on the
curve, already in over their heads, we are behind, the waters are rising.
That`s just the reality right now. In the beginning, President Trump has
viewed this pandemic as a political issue about his own approval.
He told us early on, he didn`t want to take infected Americans off a cruise
ship because he didn`t want the numbers to go up, which may partially
explained why exactly we are so behind that testing. He`s come out day
after day in the last week to offer big bold promises, but then prove to
not actually be true.
The Google site that was going to help you figure out if you need to be
tested and where, what happened there? The drive-up tests we were going to
get in Target and Walmart parking lots, where are those? He tweeted, he`s
saving the Defense Production Act in case of an emergency. Today, he said,
we`re making masks, we`re making ventilators. We don`t know if that`s true.
While the President`s tone is probably the least important issue we face,
his response today to the most anodyne natural question from NBC News White
House Correspondent Peter Alexander tells you everything you need to know
about how the president is viewing this crisis.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETER ALEXANDER, NBC NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: What do you say the
Americans who were scared though? I guess, nearly 200 dead, 14,000 who were
sick, millions, as you witnessed, who were scared right now. What do you
say to Americans who are watching you right now who are scared?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I say that you`re a terrible
reporter. That`s what I say. I thinks it`s a very nasty question, and I
think it`s a very bad signal that you`re putting out to the American
people. The American people are looking for answers, and they`re looking
for hope. And you`re doing sensationalism and the same with NBC and
Comcast. I don`t call it – I don`t like Comcast. I like Comcast. Let me
just – for whom you work.
Let me just say something that`s really bad reporting. And you ought to get
back to reporting instead of sensationalism. Let`s see if it works. It
might and it might not. I happen to feel good about it. But who knows? I`ve
been right a lot. Let`s see what happens.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: He`s been wrong. He`s been wrong the entire time. He has not been
right a lot and that`s largely while we`re here. And while he was dressing
down that reporter, that was on the same day that we here at NBC learned
the loss of one of our own Larry Edgeworth who`s come to the illness.
So while he is yelling at reporters and failing at his job, here`s what
we`re facing right now with a health crisis. California is on lockdown,
Illinois is on lockdown, New York State is on lockdown, New York City is
indisputably now the epicenter of this pandemic here in the U.S.
Just this week, this week, the number of confirmed cases has grown from 464
on Monday when we started this week to over 5,000 by this afternoon. Now,
that`s partly explained by a massive increase in testing in the New York
City metro area. Today, Mayor Bill de Blasio said one-third of all
confirmed coronavirus cases in the country are in New York City.
More than 1,200 people in the state have been hospitalized all but a few in
the New York City metro area, which means and this is important to hear
this, we are starting to get very close to seeing the edges or the
beginnings of the edges of our hospital capacity.
Just the last few hours, the Wall Street Journal and New York Times
published pieces about the strain the virus is already putting on the
city`s hospitals. And unless extremely dramatic action, overwhelming
federal force, and coordination are brought to bear this problem, this is
what New York might be facing.
Sky News got access to a hospital in the hardest had part of Italy. The
scene inside is just devastating.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the main hospital in Bergamo in Lombardy
province. It`s one of the most advanced hospitals in Europe. But it`s the
most hard-hit of all the hospitals in Italy. The town is the center of the
This isn`t a ward. This is a waiting room. Wherever you go, people are on
gurneys, in corridors, and meeting rooms, they`re everyone. All the medical
staff urge other nations to see what`s happening and lock their nations
down right now or face this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Italy had its worst death total today almost two weeks after the
country went into lockdown. Joining me now to help explain where we
currently stand, Andy Slavitt, former Acting Administrator of the Center
for Medicaid and Medicare Services. He`s now board chair for United States
Care, which issued a comprehensive congressional proposal for a COVID-19
And, Andy, I`ve been talking to you and following you on Twitter. You`re
talking to health experts across the country, doctors, public health
officials, hospitals. What is the latest that you`re hearing as of today?
ANDY SLAVITT, FORMER ACTING ADMINISTRATOR, CENTER FOR MEDICAID AND MEDICARE
SERVICES: Well, the first thing is we all know this is very difficult to
accept and understand exactly what`s happening. Chris, you were on this a
few weeks ago raising the alarm bell, but for many people, this felt like
something very, very far away. And what people have to understand is that
the numbers you showed today, in a couple weeks-time, will sadly look like
the good old days.
The number of people – all of these numbers are expected to double every
three days. And it doesn`t take a long time for thousands to turn into tens
of thousands, and tens of thousands to turn 100 thousands, and sadly,
hundreds of thousands to turn into millions. And in densely populated
cities, in places where people are not respecting the fact that they need
to be staying in, it`s going to create an onslaught that will be impossible
And we`re about a dozen days behind Italy, so any scene you see of a town
in northern Italy, you can pretty much expect something very close to that
here in the U.S. We have – this is a virus that none of us have immunity
for. I don`t care how good a shape you`re in, I don`t care how young you
are, and it`s a virus that spreads invisibly in the air.
So you can walk into a room that your grandmother walks into 20 minutes
later and you could have possibly infected her. So you have to take
seriously what we – what we call the #Stayhomeidea, which is that you have
a lot of people`s lives in your hands. You don`t know it, but you do. And
that`s where we are.
HAYES: So I think this as two phases. This current phase is like we are in
the midst of the battle, and we haven`t quite gotten there. And to use
another metaphor, there`s a weird feeling, and I think this was invoked by
an Italian physician that I read, the sort of moment between the lightning
and the thunder. Like, there was a moment in Italy where they knew it was
coming and they were preparing. And then there was like a day or two where
they were in the hospital, no one was there, and then it hit.
Like, that`s where we are right now. And the only way we can get through
this is lockdown and social distancing, right? I mean, that`s basically
what we have. That is the tool we currently have is mass mitigation,
dramatically reducing human interaction, is that right?
SLAVITT: Once we blew it on containment were you didn`t able to contract
trace people and it got into the community, and we didn`t plan well enough,
sadly – and look, we have to navigate from where we are not where we want
wish we were but from where we are today, absolutely, this is more in our
hands by staying home. Everybody`s got to do their part.
The federal government needs to step up and operate much more like a
machine that`s supporting us. The governors are doing a great job, the
mayors are all working at this, but no one really can do it alone. And I
think this is a huge role to play. You know, I`m 53 years old. I never
lived through the greatest generation, the sacrifices people made during
World War Two. And if my sacrifice is to stay home and spend time with my
family, probably more of a sacrifice for them then for me.
This is – you know, and I don`t mean to make light of the fact that people
are feeling economic hardship and anxiety and anguish, but we`re all
feeling it together. It`s a sacrifice we can make together. And we can save
a lot of lives. This will be over. The question is how many people can we
HAYES: Well, the will be over I think is the hard part for all of us. And I
want to – I spent all waking hours thinking about and talking to people
and talking to experts about it, and I oscillate between real doomsday
scenarios and sometimes these pinpricks of optimism. And you know, South
Korea is a sort of optimistic case. They`ve taken a very different approach
with mass testing and Singapore and Taiwan, things like that.
I want you to respond to the following, which is that epidemiologists tend
towards a worldview that is prepare for the worst and hope for the best
naturally and correctly in their line of work, but that maybe it won`t be
as bad as they`re projecting, right? Like this idea of half the – half of
California infected or a peak in August, I mean, that – those are at the
extreme ends of the scenario. If we take the steps now, can we see some
kind of light at the end of the tunnel in the next month or two? What is
Italy? Tell us about that?
SLAVITT: Yes, look, I think – you know, I was quoted as saying we should
be closer to panic than calm. And what I – what I mean by that is, if you
haven`t gone through that initial sleepless night that you just talked
about, then you`re not really getting what`s going on. But after you do
that, you start to come back. There`s no reason to live in this panic
And even though we`ve done a number of things wrong, if you documented them
at the top of the episode, there are strengths that we have as a country
that I think are going to make this look better than what an epidemiologist
will see in front of them on a piece of paper.
For example, every philanthropist, innovator, genius technologist that I
know right now, this is a focusing moment for them. People are talking
about different ways to invent different things, different therapies, and I
have no doubt that we – while, we have weaknesses as a country, we have
strengths and they`re unique strengths. And so I wouldn`t be surprised if
things start appearing these glimmers that you`re talking about months out
Now, if I were the President, I wouldn`t lead a news conference based on
some hope that someone told me about. And I think what we should expect
from him – he wants to be a wartime general, a wartime president I should
say, is decisive focus, sober, worst-case scenario planning. And then you
know what if we turn out to have been too pessimistic, that`ll be the most
wonderful thing in the world.
HAYES: Yes, that`s right. That is what I – plan for the worst, hope for
the best, and let`s all hope that I look ridiculously panicked and over
selling things in two months from now. I will – I will – as you will –
you will welcome any video montage to that effect. Andy Slavitt, thank you
SLAVITT: Thanks, Chris.
HAYES: Joining me now are two people who understand what`s going on
politically as the country, deals with these multiple crises, Michelle
Goldberg, an op-ed columnist from the New York Times, and Michael Steele,
former RNC chairman.
Michelle, you write a great column in the New York Times where you
basically said, look, I get some impulse to say, let`s not talk about
politics now, we have a crisis, but politics matter right now, and holding
the federal government and the Trump administration and Donald Trump
accountable for the failures matters. Why`d you write that column?
MICHELLE GOLDBERG, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, because I think you`re starting
to hear it not Just from right-wing hacks, from some reasonable people
saying now is not the time to look backward, now is not the time to point
fingers, now is the time to come together. And I do understand that
impulse. I think the problem is that the political failure is not just
happening in the past. It`s ongoing.
It`s going on in the fact that the President gives the press conference
every day where he kind of lies and spreads misinformation and spreads
false hope, says that the FDA has approved drugs that the FDA has not
approved. You know, it basically tells people that they shouldn`t be as
alarmed as in fact, they should. And you see that reverberating throughout
the country. And just Republicans are telling pollsters that they`re not
that worried and also not changing their habits in the same way that
GOLDBERG: And then the other thing is just he has so far, inexplicably, he
has invoked the Defense Production Act, which a number of congressmen have
called on him to invoke this act from the Korean War that allows the
president to direct domestic manufacturers to manufacture things for public
defense or public safety. You know, we have this critical shortage of
ventilators, masks, ICU beds, etcetera.
He invoked this and then said he`s – but he`s not going to use it. But
he`s not – he just wants it to be there in case of a worst-case scenario
as if the worst-case scenario is not unfolding in front of us. And one
reason I think it`s very important for people to be vocal in their
criticism is because that is the only thing that this President responds
He doesn`t respond to calls for public sacrifice or to calls for the public
good. He responds to kind of feeling aggrieved because he`s getting bad
HAYES: And Michael, what`s been – to Michelle`s point about the sort of
like actual appreciable danger to this causes both – and people are taking
this seriously – but also just the whipsaw effect of sort of these kinds
of big – it`s like a sales job where like they – like now I got your
attention and what can I do to get you in the car, and the car is a lemon.
Like this was a line I thought was a great from a Bloomberg piece and said
a hospital ship that can`t yet sale, a drug that`s not approved for
Coronavirus, a windfall of masks that`s not due until next year. Donald
Trump has repeatedly overstated his government`s accomplishments as he
tries to calm Americans and fight the spread of Coronavirus. What do you
make of it?
MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it`s a little bit less
about calming Americans and more about how the President sees himself in
this – in this narrative. That was, I think, testified to today about the
President`s reaction to the press in the room with him, how personally he
took it, and just how angry he got. Because he was asked, how will you
console the American people? What would you say to them, to make them less
nervous and less concerned?
And he – and his response was, well, that`s an attack you`re a bad
reporter. So this idea, I think, to Michelle`s point, that this President
sees this virus, this contagion this, this epidemic in any other terms
other than himself, is the root problem here. And then you have this sort
of juxtaposition with some Republicans who are trying to sort of deal with
the reality but also try to stay on the President`s good side.
The fact that he has these few people standing behind him watching Dr.
Fauci today with his head to hands – you know, hand to his head was like,
OK, I get it. I know what you`re feeling.
HAYES: Well, and it`s – there`s – and this – those two things are
related. And this is why I think it`s so important to focus on this,
Michelle. The President said, I don`t want my numbers to go up, the number
are going to go down. He sent a message, the federal bureaucracy early in
this, I don`t want there to be a lot of cases, and one way to not get a lot
of cases is not to test.
Now, in terms of the cause and effect. I don`t know how appreciably those
two things connect, but it does matter what the leader of organization or
country says to people underneath them. That message was sent. And every
single step of this has revolved around the President`s ego and narcissism
as opposed to what is going on in the country.
GOLDBERG: Well, you know, one of the people I talked to when I was writing
my column is a Johns Hopkins professor named Steven (INAUDIBLE) who teaches
a class called policy failures, and this is obviously going to go on the
syllabus. And one of the things he said is that in these historic policy
failures, you know, only a certain number of decisions make it onto the
President`s desk, any president.
And so you always have to have a bureaucracy that is both competent – and
that`s another way in which this President has already failed the country
and just kind of rooting out professionals and replacing them either not
replacing them at all or replacing them with hacks and lackeys. And you
also have that people make their decisions based on the signals that they
get from the top.
And so, if the person at the top is saying this is not urgent, this is not
a priority, and I don`t want to hear any bad news. You know, if somebody
like – there was a CDC official who basically came out a few weeks ago and
told us prepare for significant disruption in your life, and the President
was reportedly furious. So you – there is a proposal cost in telling the
truth, in preparing the country.
And, you know, of course, people respond – you know, extraordinary people
act anyway, but ordinary people respond to those incentives.
HAYES: Michael, it struck me today as I watched the President, as you`ve
been – you know, he`s seized on the possibility of this malarial drug
being used for treatment. And, and it`s not completely crazy. There`s some
very, very initial and small and early results that maybe give us some
promise. And God, I hope that hospitals, clinical trials, and this – and
it works outright.
But it`s – you know, a power of positive thinking, selling other people –
believing and selling other people on your own B.S. is an adaptive trait in
a real estate developer, but literally the worst trait in public health.
Like, it is – you couldn`t find a bigger personality and worldview
mismatch than that.
STEELE: Absolutely. In fact, I Tweeted to that effect yesterday when the
President had made another one of his statements of trying to, you know,
make the American people feel good. And I was like, well, you`re not trying
to close the deal on my part.
STEELE: This is – this is about, you know, how do we solve this problem,
why don`t we have the necessary equipment in place and the testing in
place? And these are fundamental issues that won`t go away. And I think the
President doesn`t really appreciate that they don`t go away because the
country is waiting for you to take the action necessary to do something
The governors right now, Chris, as you know, with Governor Cuomo in New
York, Governor Hogan here in Maryland, governors around the country are the
tip of the spear on this. They are leading. And for the President to then
look at them and go, well, you know, we`re not a supply shop, you guys are
supposed to be doing this anyway.
STEELE: Dude, that`s not how this works. You know, they have to lead in
their state, but they`re also looking to the federal response to aid and
assist and to make better efforts worth to the betterment of the people.
And that piece of this, again, that`s a big part that is missing.
HAYES: Michelle Goldberg and Michael Steele, thank you both so much.
GOLDBERG: Thank you.
HAYES: Coming up, calls to the resignation of two Republican senators who
now face accusations they used information from private briefings about the
pandemic for their own financial gain before things hit the fan. That story
HAYES: Tonight, calls across the political spectrum for the resignation of
Republican senators Richard Burr of North Carolina and Kelly Loeffler of
Georgia. They`re facing strong accusations based on financial disclosures
they themselves filed that one of the first things they did after they
found out just how bad the coronavirus would be during closed-door Senate
briefings was sell a huge amount of stock right before the market tanked.
Both senators deny doing anything unethical. I`m joined now by Derek
Willis, the ProPublica reporter who co-authored the story revealing that
Senator Burr had dumped up to $1.7 million in stock. Also with me, Tim Mak,
NPR`s Washington Investigative Correspondent who uncovered audio of Senator
Burr privately raising the alarm about the coronavirus back in February
while the President was reassuring the public, there was nothing to worry
Derek, let me start with you. And take me through, basically, these two
senators and what they did and why they look suspicious.
DEREK WILLIS, REPORTER, PROPUBLICA: Sure. Well, I think the first thing to
keep in mind essentially, is that there`s a timeline here, right? The
senators when they make stock trades or when stock made, trades are made on
their behalf, they have to file reports with the Senate on a fairly regular
basis saying what those were.
And in this case after that, January 24th briefing for all senators about
the coronavirus, in the weeks after – days and weeks after that, we`ve had
a couple of different senators file reports of stock sales. In the case of
Senator Burr, the reason that we wrote about his activity was just because
it was so out of the ordinary for him in terms of his trading activity
dating back over the last year or so that we looked.
And so with Senator Loeffler, her – we don`t have a lot of history in that
she`s a new senator, and so, all we have to go on is the reports that were
filed and hers were filed, you know, again, in the – in the days and weeks
after that initial briefing. Senator Burr is the chairman of the
Intelligence Committee, also obviously has access to classified briefings
about all sorts of security threats to the nation.
HAYES: The two – the two details that stick out to me are that Burr
basically essentially sells a huge amount of stock, which he hasn`t done
previously, right? Like, sort of gets out of the market and doesn`t buy a
lot of stuff. Loeffler sells a lot of stuff that would later tank and also
purchases a big chunk of stock in Citrix, which runs like tale meeting
software, which just seems like amazing luck to just buy it at that time.
Tim, you – you`re the one who reported on the fact that Burr behind closed
doors was really concerned about the severity of this. And I want to –
want to play the audio that you unearthed of him telling sort of well-
connected constituents at a meeting just how bad it could be. Take a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RICHARD BURR (R-NC): There`s one thing I can tell you about this. It
is much more aggressive in its transition than anything that we`ve seen in
recent history. It`s probably more akin to the 1918 pandemic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That was not the note necessarily he was striking in public.
TIM MAK, WASHINGTON INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT, NPR: That`s right. In
public, he was saying the United States was better prepared than any other
time in his history based in part because of legislation that he had helped
author. Now he – Senator Burr is an expert in public health and pandemic
preparedness, because he`s been working on this issue for decades, almost
And the question is, with his expertise and his assessment, the very dark
assessment of what was succumb, why did he not share his assessment with
HAYES: Now you – the senator attacked you for your journalism. I didn`t
think he frankly landed any blows. But then there was after your piece,
there was a reporting on his stock sales. Have been given an explanation –
has Senator Burr giving you or anyone or explanation for the sales, Tim?
MAK: No, not for the sales themselves. They said that they have not done
anything wrong. They say that the sales were made based on public
information that is news reports, CNBC news reports, and not private
information that was obtained as a part of his role as a lawmaker or as a -
- as the Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman. But not a general
explanation of how that squares with his declination to tell the public
about what his assessment was and how bad coronavirus would become.
HAYES: Yes. Well, this gets to the law here, Derek, right? I mean, so you
can imagine a world in which Senator Burr is just a person who`s very tuned
in to news about pandemics, right? That he hasn`t gotten some – I mean,
he`s getting – he`s getting secret briefings, right? But even if he were,
he was just like a pandemic dude, and he`s like, this is going to be bad.
The idea first of all, that your first thought is to sell your stock and
not to also go to the public and warm them like, the question is, can he do
this legally or is there legal liability under this new legislation called
the Stock Act which restricted how Congress can sell individual stock that
Burr voted against. Does he have legal liability?
WILLIS: So the question really is it depends, right? It depends on the
context. And obviously, in this situation with what Tim`s reporting is
uncovered, like that supply some additional context here. It`s unclear in
terms of exactly what his liability could be, but this is the sort of
situation that the Stock Act was literally written to address, right?
It forces disclosure, periodic disclosure that`s more timely so that the
public can see when people are – in Congress are trading on information
that they know whether they get that from public sources or from private
sources. The Senate Ethics Committee, the senator has asked for a review by
the Ethics Committee. They certainly – you know, they can look into this.
I think that it`ll really be up to, you know, sort of the senator to
provide the information that he was aware of, and then the Ethics Committee
Committee will, you know, make a determination on what actually the
responsibility is on his part.
HAYES: I should note, there`s a few other senators who sold stock in this
period. Dianne Feinstein who`s a Democrat, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Sonny
Perdue, it looks like in Georgia, all of them I should just note, I think
are in a different category and have been somewhat persuaded or not quite
as suspicious as this, which is why we`ve kind of kept them out of this
reporting until we sort of get a further fuller picture.
But the politics here are terrible, Tim, for Senator Burr. Thom Tillis from
North Carolina, Senator Burr owes North Carolinians and explanation, which
is really quite a thing to say about your fellow senator.
MAK: Well, Senator Burr is not running for re0election, Senator Tillis is
running for re-election and obviously has to react. There`s a lot of
bipartisan outrage over this issue of stock selling. If there was inside
information on coronavirus being traded upon, there are folks in the left
and right united to say, hey, Senator Burr should resign or should at least
explain how it is he came to make these sales.
HAYES: All right, Derek Willis and Tim Mak, thank you both for being with
Still ahead, as the pandemic rose, many front line health workers can`t
find the necessary protective gear and are getting exposed. We`ll talk to
an emergency room doctor about just how dire a situation we are in coming
HAYES: We`re living in a strange and sometimes terrifying world right now,
and if you`re like me, and I`m not proud to confess this, but just
compulsively watching the numbers, right? The numbers go up and up and up.
And those numbers of course, you can lose sight of for a moment that each
number represents a real human life, inevitably lives of people close to
Earlier this week, my first friend was diagnosed with Coronavirus, then
another person I know and another and another, and today the brutal news
for all of us at NBC about the death of one of our colleagues due to
complications from Coronavirus.
Larry Edgeworth, age 61, a husband, a father of two sons, who had some
underlying health complications. For most of his 25 years at NBC News,
Larry was an incredibly skilled audio technician, traveled the world
covering stories for the network.
I got to work with Larry a bunch. First, I think, when we were covering the
protests in Ferguson, and he exemplified grace and professionalism and
camaraderie. He was tough, funny, kind, downright courageous and cool under
And I have to say that`s true of the NBC crew as a whole, men and women
I`ve had the great honor of working with. These are people who work in war
zones and natural disasters under incredible pressure with tremendous,
I`ve been in some dicey situations where I depend on them, on Larry,
totally. And those folks are still doing their work amidst this crisis.
This loss, Larry Edgeworth, is incredibly hard for all of us here. We will
miss you Larry.
HAYES: So, one of the most pressing problems right now, perhaps the most
pressing at this very moment, is just protecting front line health care
workers from getting infected, that`s both a matter of their own safety and
their families` safety, and also the safety of public health.
In Wuhan, China and in parts of northern Italy, large numbers of health
care workers contracted Coronavirus, even with protective equipment and
then got sick and were not able to provide care. In short, if health care
workers get sick, enough of them get sick, the whole system can crash. This
is precisely why health care workers across the country are more or less
jumping up and down screaming, raising the alarm they either do not have
access or are running out of protective equipment, like masks, gowns and
visors, the very things they need to provide care.
This is no longer some abstract fear. We are already getting stories about
those workers getting infected, including our next guest Dr. Dara Kass, an
emergency room physician at Columbia University Hospital, who recently
tested positive for Coronavirus, and Deborah Berger, a registered nurse and
president of National Nurses United.
Dara, let me start with you and ask just how are you feeling? And how do
you find out that you had gotten the virus?
DR. DARA KASS, ER PHYSICIAN COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: So I got tested
– I had some (inaudible) and I knew I was at risk, because I had taken
care of patients who had tested positive, so I went and got tested just to
make sure that I was not going to take care of any more patients after I
was positive, and I was confirmed last night, so I`ve been home in
quarantine – actually still doing telemedicine, because I feel pretty
good, actually. I think I`m lucky so far.
HAYES: I want to ask Deborah about what your concerns are for the folks in
your union. I saw a protest outside a San Francisco hospital. I have seen
reporting like this one, for instance, on the shortage of respirator masks.
Federal health officials say respirator masks should be discarded after
treating an infected patient. Many doctors around the country said they are
being given just one to use indefinitely, spray it down with Lysol or wipe
it off, not knowing whether that will help preserve it.
Are you encountering situations like that?
DEBORAH BERGER, PRESIDENT NATIONAL NURSES UNITED: We are encountering
those situations all over the country, and in Sonoma County where I live.
People in construction are donating their masks to nurses, dropping them
off at nurses` homes. And it`s really alarming because we have been yelling
about this for months, and still masks are under lock and key. We`ll have
to go get a manager to get them. They`re told to reuse them.
Now the CDC is saying if there aren`t masks, go ahead and make your own. Go
to a craft store, get some felt or whatever you think might filter out this
virus, and feel safe and good about working in the storm like that , and
it`s really become crazy.
You wouldn`t send a firefighter into a burning building with a squirt gun
to put out the fire and that`s what we`re being asked to do here.
HAYES: We should say here, Governor Andrew Cuomo has just been essentially
pleading for creative solutions. He said New York has a critical need for
personal protective equipment, including gloves, gowns, and masks, as well
as ventilators. If you can – if you have or can make any of these supplies
New York is buying. I have heard of labs, construction workers trying to
using theirs and donate them.
Dara, as someone who is at the point of care in an emergency room, just
describe to me the – first, why is it so important and what the process is
in terms of using the equipment when you have got a place where a lot of
people, particularly in New York City right now, are coming who are
infected, obviously as you know.
BERGER: Yes, so the process is evolving as we learn more about the disease
and we see the patients coming in different volumes, so we know that in the
high risk area, like the ICUs, and we`re doing procedures that are really
at risk, we have layers of levels of equipment that we use, both body
protection, masks, gloves, double gloving, maybe goggles. If we`re in a
lower humidity area, an area that maybe isn`t necessarily high risk, we`ll
use maybe just goggles and masks and gloves.
The issue is every time you use the equipment, you`re supposed to change
the equipment in theory. And it`s harder and harder to do that when you
know we`re going into this weeks and months on end. And that`s why it is
encouraging to see leadership like Governor Cuomo asking for resources
early before we run out in New York. We will (inaudible) running out sooner
rather than later, and we need everybody to chip in to help us get them.
HAYES: Deborah, do you have clear coal communication from hospitals or
from state and public health officials or governors about what is being
done on this problem? It seems to me this is a problem everyone is going to
face and you can`t set localities and governors and hospitals to fight each
other in a battle for a fixed supply, that`s the worst possible outcome, so
then you lead to hoarding. It is going to look like the toilet paper aisle
in the grocery store, right.
You need federal coordination. Is there any federal coordination?
BERGER: That`s what we`re extremely concerned about. President Trump
signed the Defense Production Act yet he`s failed to implement it by
demanding that corporations come come up with better production lines for
masks, for ventilators, for all the equipment.
If you look at the other countries that are – some of them less well off
than we are, their protections for their health care workers are far
superior than ours and it looks like they`re managing to be able to protect
their health care workers.
And right now that is not happening, we`ve had to even start a petition to
the federal government to put protections in place and give us the
equipment we need or we won`t be there.
HAYES: Dara, two questions for you, one is how are things in the emergency
room you work in? You`re not physically there, but in touch with colleagues
in terms of what you`re seeing right now as this pandemic has an epicenter
in New York City, that`s very clear.
KASS: I`m first and foremost so proud of the people that I work with, of
where I work, because everyone is really putting all the patients first.
They are trying so hard to take care of patients in an uncertain time when
they are putting their families on hold when they are going to work really
just with the care of the patients first.
You know, we are now officially the epicenter of the country in New York,
and we are feeling it. We`re seeing it on patients on the ground, we`re
seeing it with our admissions. These are numbers that the governor is
putting out every single day. And we`re trying to rise to the challenge.
And I commend all the hospitals in New York City for doing that.
But it is going to be a big list for us, and it`s going to be a long haul.
HAYES: What about testing? I know this has been an issue for some folks,
and I want to ask you both this, not just personal protective equipment but
you really do need testing for health care workers. I mean, it seems so
urgent that you can`t have health care workers who are positive caring for
people, obviously, but you also can`t just prophylactically take them off-
line when you need all hands on deck.
And I`ve been hearing stories for two weeks about health care workers
having a hard time getting tested. I would like to want to hear from you,
Dara, and you Deborah, about what you`re hearing. You first, Dara.
KASS: The truth is is that we are doing the best with what we have. And I
think this shows a lack of forethought on the availability of testing from
the outset. Knowing that we are going to have an escalating number of
patients and exposed health care workers, we were going to need a higher
magnitude of tests.
We are testing exponentially every single day in New York City and not
keeping up with the need, which includes health care workers. So we are
waiting days sometimes from the onset of symptoms to be tested, because
there just aren`t enough tests for anybody.
HAYES: Deborah, what are your members finding?
BERGER: Well, that`s the problem is that nurses are being asked to work if
they are asymptomatic even though they know they`ve been exposed to the
virus. They are asked to monitor themselves and still show up for work. So
we`re really concerned because we know that there are cases of the COVID
virus that have been passed along even though they are asymptomatic. So,
it`s a huge concern for us.
We need universal health care worker testing fast now, yesterday, a week
ago, two weeks ago.
Dara Kass, Deborah Berger, thank you so much for making time tonight.
KASS: Thank you.
HAYES: Coming up, former senior official of national security pandemic
response unit created by President Obama, disbanded, demoted by President
Trump, joins me next.
HAYES: The Obama administration faced several epidemics during his time in
office, from Swine flu to Ebola, and one of the lessons they learned from
that is how important it was to prioritize response throughout the
So in 2015, he created a pandemic team called the directorate for global
health security and bio-defense. That team would work very closely with the
president on that very essentially important body called the National
About two years ago, a senior health official from that team attended a
conference marking the 100th anniversary of the 1918 pandemic flu, one of
the deadliest pandemics in world history, that took the lives of at least
50 million people. Here is what she said in that conference back in May of
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. LUCIANA BORIO, DIRECTOR, NSC MEDICAL AND BIODEFENSE PREPAREDNESS: Are
we ready to response to a pandemic? I fear the answer is no.
The threat of pandemic flu is our number one health security concern. We
know that it cannot be stopped at the border, and we also know that we do
not close borders to control flu pandemic. It just doesn`t work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Within days of that conference, the Trump administration dismantled
the NSC`s pandemic team.
Joining me now is that senior official who sounded that alarm, Dr. Luciana
Borio, former director of medical and bio-defense preparedness at the
National Security Council, former acting chief scientist at the FDA.
Doctor Borio, first, I want to talk about the lessons that were learned in
battling epidemics in the Obama administration that led to the creation of
the sort of unit you were working in. Like what was the idea behind that?
BORIO: Sure, good evening.
So the idea of the unit was to help coordinate all of the assets available
in the U.S. government so that there could be a comprehensive preparedness
policy stance as well as to facilitate a response in a public health
emergency. That was the idea of the directorate. And it would be focused
only on public health emergencies and bio-security, so very dedicated focus
HAYES: In a bureaucratic sense, I mean, this may seem too granular or
small ball, but I know from reporting on the White House, where things sit
in the organization chart are a reflection of prioritization, and they
matter, right? I mean, having that directorate created some sort of
institutional focus in terms of how an administration would respond.
HAYES: Chris, you know, that may be true, but it`s true also that the NSC
– the leadership at the time thought it was important to streamline
sometimes streamline and create efficiencies, and they had their own
reasons for streamlining, and what I can say that there was a re-
organization and the portfolio that I managed at the time was fully
supported by the NSC leadership at the time, so the work continued
throughout my tenure there.
HAYES: What are the lessons here? I mean, mean what should the government
be doing to prepare? When you said, I fear we`re not prepared back in 2018,
why were you saying that?
BORIO: That`s right.
So it doesn`t really depend on any single directorate, but it`s about sound
policy, it`s about resource programs, it`s about learning from lessons from
prior experiences, and continuing to optimize the solution set, some
solutions that may have worked 10 years ago, that were necessary back then,
may need to be revisited.
So we really need to be a very dynamic process. And what I think is the
most important thing today is to first of all, look forward, we have a long
path ahead of us. This is a very serious crisis, it`s going to be
protracted, it`s very stressful for most people. But you know, Americans
need to realize today that each one of us is public health, the actions
that we take as individuals within our families and our communities to
limit the spread of this disease, is going to be the most important action
that public health can take, to break the chain. It`s not going to be
sufficient. These are temporary measures. But today, this week, next week,
we are public health.
The second thing I think…
HAYES: But there – go ahead. No, please.
BORIO: I would just going to say, you know, it is really critical to
realize that there are hundreds of career government employees that are
working around the clock, I have worked with so many of them throughout my
career. They`re very dedicated, they`re very experienced, they`re
incredibly smart, and most of the response is going to happen at that
And most people don`t realize, for example, that there is already a very
incredible effort to evaluate treatments for Coronavirus. There are about
40 – 30 or 40 now, academic medical centers that are already conducting a
randomized controlled study that was launched by the NIH. There again,
about 30 or 40 patients are already enrolled.
So these types of efforts are not necessarily happening on the headlines,
but they`re already underway. And it`s really my hope that sooner rather
than later, we`ll identify potential cures, and later have a vaccine that
can help counter this terrible pandemic.
HAYES: I want to ask you for a little more detail on the Defense
Production Act, which is not legislation that`s in the news every day. A
lot of people probably learned about it in the last week. What, is it
something that you studied in your preparedness when you thought about
this? And what can it actually do?
BORIO: Yes, that`s an interesting question. You know, there`s a theory
that allows the U.S. government a lot of latitude to manage the production
of vital resources. It`s not my area of expertise, but my impression right
now is that the private sector has responded, and is responding, and taking
this very seriously.
As far as I`m aware, there is unprecedented number, for example, of
companies developing vaccines and therapies, engaging in diagnostic
development, manufacturers of personal protective equipment, ramping up
their production capacity, so I would like to see whether the DPA would
augment those efforts.
But it`s my impression that the private sector is reacting appropriately.
HAYES: What do you think the biggest lesson that will – the biggest
change for us in the way we think about this threat will be?
BORIO: Well, it`s we need to completely look at how we are managing
diagnostic testing and development for the future. The situation that we`re
in today, we`re still relying on highly complex laboratories that sometimes
we have to send our tests, it`s unnecessary given the technology that is at
our disposal in the 21st Century.
I think we need to leverage more technology that can support public health
efforts, including contact tracing, isolation. We need to also leverage the
power of the American people where it`s up to us to be able to counter this
are our most valuable source.
HAYES: Dr. Luciana Borio, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
That is All In for this evening, the Rachel Maddow Show starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
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protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the