3,700+ deaths TRANSCRIPT: 3/31/20, All In w/ Chris Hayes

Guests:
Ned Lamont, Marc Lipsitch, Peter Hotez, Hakeem Jeffries, Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez, Christian Smalls
Transcript:

 

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: We have a team of correspondents globally real-time

information and we`ll be tackling your questions about the virus 10:00 p.m.

Eastern tonight. Thank you for being with us. “ALL IN” with Chris Hayes is

up next.

 

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. We

are making some progress in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, but

we remain this evening a country that has not yet brought the virus under

control nationally. Today, the National death toll surged over 3,700 people

in the U.S. hitting a tragic milestone. More people have died of this virus

in this country than in the September 11th attacks.

 

Just today, we saw more than 700 deaths nationwide. This afternoon, the

president who claimed in early February that the virus was under control

stood before a graphic proclaiming that the U.S. policy goal right now, the

goal the thing that we are shooting for, that his administration is

attempting to pull off is for between 100,00 and 240,000 thousand Americans

to die from the virus. That`s right 240,000.

 

Apparently, that is what his administration meant when they said the virus

was contained, when the President said it would go away like a miracle,

hundreds of thousands dead. In New York State, the epicenter of the virus,

there are now more than 75,000 confirmed cases, with more than 1,500 deaths

and more than 10,000 hospitalized. More than 1,000 have died in New York

City alone.

 

New York`s Governor Andrew Cuomo said today that the apex of the crisis in

the state is still two to three weeks away. And he`s stressed that we are

still chasing the virus.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): And we have been behind it from day one since it

got here. And we`ve been playing catch up. You don`t win playing catch up.

We have to get ahead of it.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

HAYES: We`re behind because the president and his administration did not

take the virus seriously from the start. They ignored internal warnings

from their own administration. We knew what was coming. We saw it in China.

But the President downplayed the virus. He dismissed the threat.

 

At a closed-door briefing nearly two months ago, according to Senator Chris

Murphy of Connecticut, senators pressed administration officials to request

emergency funding to hire staff to stockpile supplies for the coming

crisis. They said they had a covered. Didn`t need any additional funding.

 

Today, the New York Times published a graphic showing the total number of

cases in the first 30 days after each country passed 500 cases. It is a

distillation based on the available data which again, might be a little

erroneous here and there of how well countries have handled the crisis.

 

Now the red line is China. And again, some skepticism about their data, but

as you can see, they flatten the curve in that 30-day period. Italy in

green, Spain in yellow, they did not do nearly so well, but they still did

far better than us. That is the U.S. in blue. As you can see our case

numbers shot up far more quickly than the other three countries with the

highest number of confirmed cases. It`s not even close.

 

There are three main ways that we in the U.S. are now trying to catch up to

chase down the virus. One, our testing capacity. Two, the availability of

ventilators to keep people alive who are in critical condition. And three,

the supply of personal protective equipment, particularly masks.

 

And you`ve probably seen announcements about companies, all kinds of

companies ramping up mass production or shifting their production lines to

produce masks. Individuals are pitching in too with GoFundMe and hand

sewing at their tables. All of this is great. All of it is going to make a

huge difference. What we do not know though is whether it will be enough.

 

Keep in mind, a single hospital treating coronavirus patients can go

through tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of masks in a single

day. The sheer volume we need is very high and will almost certainly rise

over time. More immediately, our hospital workers need masks right now, and

they do not have enough of them. If we had started manufacturing additional

mass say two months ago, we would not be so far behind now.

 

Our frontline health care workers have to do things like baking their masks

to try to clear them of any virus before putting them back on for another

day of work. The situation is much the same with ventilators which take

over the body`s breathing process when the lungs give out due to the virus.

Ventilators are crucial to keeping many, many coronavirus patients alive.

We do not have nearly enough.

 

And while General Motors and other companies are scrambling to manufacture

more, the situation is dire right now. Look at this headline from the Wall

Street Journal today. NYU Langone Health Center is telling E.R. doctors to

“think more critically about who gets ventilators.” In other words, how to

ration them and decide who lives and who dies.

 

And because the federal government refuses to take a leadership role here,

either for the Defense Production Act or coordination, what we have now is

the perverse, insane situation in which individual states are bidding

against each other, and then against FEMA for any ventilators they can

find.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

CUOMO: So you have 50 states competing to buy the same item, we all wind up

bidding up each other and competing against each other where you now

literally will have a company call you up and say, well, California just

outbid you. It`s like being on eBay, with 50 other states bidding on a

ventilator.

 

And then FEMA gets involved, and FEMA starts bidding. And now FEMA is

bidding on top of the 50. So FEMA is driving up the price. What sense does

this make?

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

HAYES: What sense does this make? Finally, there is a testing issue. Now,

we have in the United States due to a whole bunch of different factors, we

have ramped up tremendously testing. The government is saying we have

tested more than a million Americans. But here`s the thing. That is a far

cry from the millions of tests that the President and Vice-President

promised.

 

I mean, March 4th, they said we`d have a million tests, if I`m not

mistaken. The testing is also extremely uneven throughout the country,

meaning there are certain parts of this nation that are doing very little

testing, and there are still not enough tests for those who need them. And

because we were behind and getting ahead of this, now we are chasing the

virus and we need to scale up testing dramatically. Not a million tests

over two months, but a million tests per week according to Indiana

University School of Medicine professor Dr. Aaron Carroll.

 

We have lost time again, because the failures of this president and his

administration. We are making improvements now but we are still behind the

virus and we cannot defeat it from behind. We have to catch up. We have to

get ahead of it.

 

Joining me now for more on what needs to be done to get ahead of the virus,

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont. Governor, I want to talk about a few of

these critical needs, and I saw you talk about the strategic stockpile vis-

a-vis ventilators. That`s a strategic stockpile owned by the federal

government that`s been giving out some equipment to states them. What is

your interaction been like, how many ventilators did you get, and where is

your state now in terms of what you need?

 

GOV. NED LAMONT (D-CT): It`s like Andrew Cuomo said, it`s a scramble to get

these ventilators. He said eBay, it`s more like surge pricing on Uber, only

at the last moment, the car drives away because somebody has outbid you.

We`ve got 50 ventilators on the come. I`m told they`re going to be here any

day. I`ve heard that before. I`m from the show me state. We put in an order

for 1,500 ventilators probably months ago.

 

HAYES: So you asked for 1,500 from the National strategic stockpile and you

got five-zero, 50 or you`re going to get 50 you think?

 

LAMONT: I`m going to get 50, I think. Show me.

 

HAYES: There has been reporting indicating concerns that the apportionment

of these federal backstop supplies whether from the strategic stockpile or

not are hindering on political considerations, maybe personal

considerations about whether the President likes a governor or not. There`s

indications that states like Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Florida have gotten

all their requests, while states like yours and Michigan and others have

not.

 

Are you concerned that the people in your state who are sick and maybe on

the threshold of possibly dying or surviving are being punished for the

politics you or the state have?

 

LAMONT: I hope not. Look, I`ve got Cuomo, I`ve got Murphy in New Jersey,

we`re all Democrats. We`re all part of the same epicenter. We all have a

very high infection rate. You know, sadly, we`re now the fourth highest

infection rate in the country. It`s New York, New Jersey, Louisiana, and

Connecticut.

 

So I`d like to – I think it`s more – it took the feds a long time to get

going, now they`re going, and it`s still a bit discombobulated between what

the states are doing and what the feds are doing. And that`s going to be a

very costly mistake. Look, a ventilator is a life. Every ventilator I get

can save multiple lives.

 

HAYES: So, I want to talk more about the weirdness of this market right

now. I have now heard in my own reporting from various people about how

haywire not just for ventilators but for personal protective equipment,

that these markets have gone haywire for the reasons you`re indicating,

right? All of a sudden, there`s a fairly fixed supply, there`s a surge of

demand, there`s people bidding against each other.

 

Has that been your experience in trying to acquire these needed things that

essentially it`s a kind of free for all and there`s no kind of robust

central coordinating purchasing entity that could then apportion this

perhaps more rationally?

 

LAMONT: The history books will show that was a terrible mistake. Look,

we`re all out there. We`re following every lead in China, Ukraine, across

the country. It`s promised, it`s on the tarmac, gets rerouted at the last

moment. And it`s terribly upsetting to a lot of our frontline workers or

nurses. You tell them the PPE is coming. We`re going to be able to save

your life and you go out and save other people`s lives, and then the truck

is empty.

 

HAYES: So I just want to make sure I understand this. What you`re saying is

you`ve got procurement officers, you`ve got people that work for the state

that are trying to essentially execute contracts to purchase the equipment

you need, whether that`s PPE, it`s masks, and gowns, and things like that.

And what you`re saying is there`s these different suppliers, and because

they`re so sought after, they kind of get to like pick, and you had

contracts that looked like they were happening and then they just don`t

happen?

 

LAMONT: We have contracts. They`re signed, sealed, and delivered. Here`s

the P.O. It`s arriving at this time. And 1:00 in the morning, there`s

nothing there at the warehouse. And I`ve heard this from governors across

the country. It`s just a madhouse out there. And either people are over-

promising or they get – we get outbid at the last moment, often by the

feds, by the way. They`re often coming in and sweeping in and purchasing.

 

HAYES: So final question for you is about other states. Obviously, you`re

in the epicenter of this. There`s early confirmed cases and early outbreak

in the – in the Greater New York area. There are some states like Texas

and Florida that have been slow to issue the kinds of orders that your

state and others have. Do you have advice for those governors, those two

very big and important states about what they should be doing right now?

 

LAMONT: I do. You`ll never be faulted for overreacting, you`ll be faulted

forever for under-reacting. I like to think that Connecticut was very early

banning the parades, ending the schools, you know, be it bars and

restaurants. And I really urge those other states look at those states who

are successful and bending the curve by taking the social distancing

seriously. At the end of the day, you could not err by overreacting to this

crisis.

 

HAYES: All right, Governor Ned Lamont of Connecticut, good luck to you in

Connecticut and thank you so much for making some time in a very busy day.

Even as bad as the federal response has been, even in the part of the

country is the worst case is, new cases – this is good news, so listen.

New cases are starting to flatten. The near total lockdown of New York

appears to be working. It is doing what is supposed to do. The social

distancing – I`d like to call it physical distancing, because we can

still, you know, socialize with each other, it`s having an effect.

 

Now, Seattle and Washington had been the sort of main success story on this

front from the beginning, but New York is also beginning to trend in the

right direction as far as new cases are concerned. Joining me now is

someone I wanted to talk to throughout this, I`m following religiously

throughout this infectious disease, epidemiologist professor at Harvard

School of Public Health Marc Lipsitch.

 

Marc, let`s talk first about the effect that we`re seeing in New York which

really has the worst outbreak in the country and in some kinds of cases,

maybe the Worst in the world. Are you encouraged by the data – the case

data we`re getting that we`re seeing that effective the lockdown the state

and city are under?

 

MARC LIPSITCH, PROFESSOR OF EPIDEMIOLOGY, HARVARD SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH:

Yes. I think in a number of places around the country, there are

indications that to some extent social distancing or physical distancing is

working. And that`s reflected in at least slower growth of the case

numbers, and in some cases, it looks like even declines in the case

numbers. So that`s good news. It`s doesn`t get us out of the woods, but

it`s the right direction for now.

 

HAYES: You published something today about sort of the idea of social

distancing as a kind of tool we keep using throughout the duration of this

crisis. Explain that concept.

 

LIPSITCH: Right. This is not peer-reviewed work yet. This is work that`s

under review with Yonatan Grad, and Stephen Kissler, and Christine

Tedijanto in our center. And what we`ve tried to show is that if we do

social distancing effectively, that will be good and that will slow down

the epidemic and perhaps even bring the case numbers down as seems to be

happening in some places.

 

But the problem is that that doesn`t get us to where we need to be. That`s

a starting point. That gives us breathing room. And it`s very important to

be building up our capacity with all the things that you were talking about

in the last few minutes, with ventilators and PPE and all those things as

we have that extra time.

 

But the problem is that if we let up on social distancing, there will be a

resurgence of virus. That is what happened in 1918 with the flu. That`s

what happens when we model it. And it`s just a matter of common sense that

if you have – if you have virus still around in people, then the virus

doesn`t remember that we were social distancing last week, it starts to

spread.

 

So we`ve – what we`ve considered is whether we could let off up for a

while but then would have to probably resume social distancing because

until we get to a large level – a high level of immunity in the

population, we`re not at the endpoint. It`s a – it`s a waystation and an

important waystation but not the end.

 

HAYES: You just referred to modeling. I`ve been following your work and

other`s work on modeling. It`s very interesting to see people inside the

universe of expertise. There are debates about these models. Obviously,

there`s a lot of uncertainty, there are a lot of parameters you`re putting

in based on the best available evidence.

 

I`m curious, the model presented today by the White House Dr. Fauci, Dr.

Birx which suggests a death toll of 100 – between 100,000 and 240,000 if

we do things right, your reaction to that as a projection and the kind of

the accuracy of that model to the degree it could be judged.

 

LIPSITCH: Yes. To be honest, I`ve been working today rather than watching

press conferences, so I don`t know – I don`t know exactly the details of

how that worked. But it is clear that flattening the curve is a way to

reduce the total number of deaths, and also to push the bad outcomes into

the future at a point where we may hopefully have more treatments and other

ways of dealing with this infection, so the – it`s qualitatively correct.

 

Indeed, as you say, all of us in the epidemiology community that work on

infectious disease find this incredibly challenging to get precise numbers.

And so, I don`t buy my own numbers, and I don`t buy anyone else`s numbers

as exact projections. I think we are trying to understand what`s better and

what`s worse. And that`s the best way to understand all of these models.

 

HAYES: I`ve noticed that there`s a lot of consensus among epidemiologists

on certain basic things right? The idea of the flattening of the curve, the

necessary necessity of large-scale mitigation and physical distancing in

the absence of treatment, vaccine, with a novel virus that, you know,

there`s no human immunity for. What are things that are there – are the

subjects of debate right now? What are the things, the big sort of

questions for folks in your field that you`re wrestling with that the

answers aren`t clear?

 

LIPSITCH: Yes. Well, there are a number. I would say, in a discussion today

with a number of colleagues around the country and the CDC, I identified

two major questions that we`re really trying to wrestle with, and was

surprised by to find that everybody else agreed these were major areas of

uncertainty. One, is how many immune people are there out there that we

didn`t even know got infected? Or what is the – what is the number of

people who get infected so mildly that they become immune?

 

We hope that`s a very large number. I think it`s clear But it`s not a very,

very large number. But the question is, is it half the people, is it a

quarter of the people, or is it more than half the people that get

infected. And the more are immune, the more quickly this will all come to

an end. So that`s one.

 

And then the other one, in thinking about it domestically and also in

Western Europe, our colleagues there, is really how are these social

distancing efforts working? Are they flattening the curve, as the graphic

you showed a minute ago suggests, meaning it`s still going up, but it`s

going up more slowly? Or are they actually bringing the curve down so that

– so that the number of cases is declining, even before we get to

immunity.

 

And if it`s the first, that`s very good news for the short term, because it

will mean the pressure on the healthcare system will be somewhat relieved.

But it also means that we don`t yet – we won`t yet have enough immunity in

the population to just let off after a single round of social distancing.

And that`s what our paper was about really.

 

HAYES: Marc, I`ve been so educated by everything that you`ve been doing

during this, so I really appreciate you taking time tonight. Thank you very

much.

 

LIPSITCH: Thank you for having me.

 

HAYES: Coming up, if you get the coronavirus – Professor Lipsitch was

talking about this – and recover, do you become immune to contracting it

again? Looks like you do. And then why testing those who survive, or those

who get it very mildly is an absolutely crucial next step in fighting the

spread. That`s after this.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

HAYES: The pathogen currently turning the world upside down is called a

novel coronavirus because it is literally new, novel. Humans have never

encountered it before. We have no immunity to it. And that is why it`s so

serious and why it`s been able to ravage the planet. But the human body is

amazing, right? When we are exposed to a virus like COVID-19, we create

something called antibodies to help fight it off, and that builds immunity

against the virus.

 

And those antibodies, they stick around for a long time in the blood plasma

of people who are able to recover. Once a person has the antibodies, they

may actually be able to donate their plasma to help others as treatment for

people who are still sick or as the basis perhaps for vaccine.

 

For more on how antibodies can help fight this, I want to bring in Dr.

Peter Hotez, professor and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine

at Baylor College of Medicine, co-director of the Texas Children`s Hospital

Center for Vaccine Development.

 

So let`s just begin with the basics here, Doctor, about antibodies and

immunity. It seems there were some early – some reporting early on, one or

two cases in Hong Kong, maybe people getting infected twice. But it seems

from what I`ve read the bulk of evidence suggests, people get it once, they

build up the antibodies and are then essentially immune. Is that – is that

correct?

 

PETER HOTEZ, CO-DIRECTOR, TEXAS CHILDREN`S HOSPITAL CENTER FOR VACCINE

DEVELOPMENT: That`s right. And there`s precedent for that with other human

respiratory virus infections. What happens is, after you`re infected with

the SARS2 virus, which is the other name for the virus agent of COVID-19,

you develop an antibody response around 10 to 14 days after infection.

 

That doesn`t necessarily mean you`re immune, but there`s now been studies

in rhesus macaques done in China, non-human primates, showing that they

develop similar antibody responses and the scientists are unable to

reinfect them with the virus. So there`s indirect evidence that indeed does

confer immunity. The question is going to be, how long does it last?

 

And there`s some evidence from the previous SARS – so this one is SARS2,

the previous SARS back in 2003, that neutralizing antibodies we call it,

can last at least two years, possibly even much longer.

 

HAYES: So, if people have antibodies – so from a sort of epidemiological

perspective, Marc Lipsitch was talking about one of the great unknown

questions, right, is what percent of the population is getting this and

being totally subclinical and totally asymptomatic or very, very mild,

which means how many people are out there with the antibodies?

 

I`ve seen reporting that several different enterprises are attempting an

antibody test that would essentially test people how. Would that work?

 

HOTEZ: Well, it`s – and we have a lot of precedent for that for measuring

antibodies to lots of different infectious agent, and it`s an indication of

past exposure. So what we say is if we know the percentage of the community

that`s been exposed to this viruses and has antibodies, that we call that

the (INAUDIBLE) prevalence, the percentage of people that have been

infected and exposed to the virus, and therefore we know how much

transmission there has been in the community, and it`s a – it`s a very old

standard method for that infectious disease experts and epidemiologists

use.

 

HAYES: And in terms of old standards, I was fascinated to see the use of

plasma donations and plasma in treating patients from people that have gone

through the illness and have antibodies dates way back to, in fact, was

used as a method in the 1918 flu pandemic itself. What is the thinking

there? How much do we know about the efficacy of that? I know that there

are New York City hospitals already taking blood donations from folks that

have been through COVID.

 

HOTEZ: Well, there`s a lot of old evidence going back 100 years. But more

recently, again after that first SARS virus infection in 2003, a number of

studies – a number of studies were done looking to see if you could

transfer the plasma containing the antibodies from recovered patients. What

you do is you take out their blood, give them back their red blood cells,

extract out the plasma component that has high levels of antibodies, select

only the patients that have high levels of antibodies, and then give that

as a therapy.

 

And it`s been shown in a nice paper a few years after the SARS epidemic in

2003 that it seems to work. And now there`s a new study that just came out

of China. It`s more of an anecdote around five patients that it seems to be

working. So you know, I have a lot of enthusiasm, a number of my colleagues

have a lot of enthusiasm that this could be the first treatment that we

have for seriously ill patients with one catch.

 

And that is you generally have to give that antibody treatment pretty

early. If you wait till patients are very sick in the ICU, it may be too

late. So the earlier you can give it the better. So then it`s a matter of

can we scale this up. And a number of us have been on the phone with the

Food and Drug Administration.

 

There`s a branch called the Center for Biologics Evaluation research led by

a wonderful guy named Dr. Peter Marks, who`s been really on top of this

together with a lot of heads of academic health centers. They build this

ecosystem where you can identify patients, take their antibody, and then

process it in the transfusion lab, the blood bank lab, and then give it

back to individuals.

 

And it`s a matter of whether we can do that at scale. It`s not easy to

mass-produce. In time, there will be more commercial therapies available of

hyperimmune globulin with – containing this antibody. But for now, we

think it has some real hope for patients.

 

HAYES: Well, that is a hopeful note, Dr. Peter Hotez, always a pleasure.

Thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it.

 

HOTEZ: Thanks so much.

 

HAYES: Coming up, the country is in the middle of a national emergency. So

why is Congress in recess for the next few weeks? Congressman Hakeem

Jeffries is here to talk about what`s going on after this.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

HAYES: Congress is now in recess for the next 20 days, almost three weeks.

And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is talking about passing a phase four of

rescue bills, right. There`s been three so far, the third, of course, that

big $2 trillion rescue bill. She`s talking about a phase four that would

have more direct payments to Americans, among other things.

 

But it`s really unclear how that`s all going to work. Getting lawmakers

together to vote is a considerable health hazard. And right now, Speaker

Pelosi has no interest in having members vote remotely, saying yesterday,

quote, let`s not waste too much time with something that is not going to

happen.

 

I`m joined now by a member of the Democratic leadership, Congressman Hakeem

Jeffries of New York, chairman of the House Democratic caucus.

 

Congressman, let`s talk about this recess and the sort of nix on remote

voting. I`ve got to say, like having one branch of government not working

in Washington during three weeks of this crisis seems crazy to me. What am

I missing?

 

REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES, (D) NEW YORK: Well, we`re in the midst of an

extraordinary moment. We have both a pandemic and a recession. And so in

terms of dealing with the pandemic aspect of this crisis, obviously we`ve

been advised by public health professionals to maintain social distancing.

Many of us who are from states like New York and New Jersey and Connecticut

in fact have been advised to stay at home and shelter in place. Many of my

colleagues throughout the country are increasingly under such directives

from their governors.

 

At the same time, congress is continuing to communicate, certainly House

Democrats have been in regular communication with each other. Earlier

today, we had a two-hour conference call that was led by our small business

committee and our committee on education and labor to discuss next steps as

it relates to providing relief to the American people, as well as to

discuss how we can make sure that some of the assistance that was contained

within the CARES act, such as extraordinary and unprecedented relief for

small businesses in America, actually make it to the men and women who run

businesses in our communities.

 

And so we`re going to continue to work hard over the next 20 days. There

was a previously scheduled district work period that was to begin next

Monday in connection with Passover and Easter. So effectively, that has

been extended for an additional week.

 

HAYES: I guess here`s my question. I completely obviously get that, right?

You absolutely cannot have all of you congregating in the Capitol, that`s

nuts. There are many septuagenarian, octogenarian legislators that would be

at risk, not to mention the people that work there.

 

But this idea that like remote voting of any kind is off the table, I guess

there`s constitutional concerns and things about that, but everybody is in

a whole new world here. I mean, people aren`t usually doing like cable news

shows from basements and garages or whatever. It does seem like it might

come to it that you guys have to think outside the box a little bit about

how to keep a congress running if this goes on for several months.

 

JEFFRIES: Well, in my view, I think we`ll have to cross that bridge when we

get to it. But what the speaker has done is to charge the chairman of the

rules committee, Jim McGovern, with processing member input. And she has

also asked Chairman McGovern to lay out some of the issues involved in

terms of any future consideration of remote voting.

 

As you pointed out, Chris, one of those issues may very well be the

constitution as an obstacle. But the most important thing that we`re

focused on right now is delivering for the people those who are in need. We

want to make sure that those direct payments make it to everyday Americans

as swiftly as possible. We want to make sure that everyday Americans who

have been laid off can take advantage of the extraordinary relief that was

provided with the bolstered unemployment insurance provisions in the CARES

act. And we also want to make sure that small businesses can get the relief

in the form of federally guaranteed loans that actually convert to grants

if those small businesses maintain their payroll throughout the duration of

this Coronavirus crisis.

 

So that`s really where our focus is right now. And we`ll deal with whatever

logistical issues we have to address in terms of remote voting down the

road.

 

HAYES: Are you worried right now, there`s a considerable time lag issue

right here, which is that obviously tomorrow is the first of the month,

rent is due, mortgage payments are due, many bills are due, people are

probably not going to see the direct cash payments for another two weeks I

think at the best. Small business owners are probably not going to see that

assistance for another week or two. Are you worried for your constituents

about what happens during this sort of interregnum between bills are due

and money`s not there?

 

JEFFRIES: Well, simply that is the case. We had a telephone town hall

meeting a little bit earlier this evening. About 10,000 people were on the

line at various points in time, focused specifically on the question of

housing, because tomorrow, April 1, of course, is a day where rent is

normally due and mortgage payments.

 

We want to encourage everybody to take advantage of some of the steps that

Governor Cuomo has taken in the context of allowing for forbearances of

mortgages to occur. The governor and the mayor also together have worked

hard to freeze evictions and foreclosures over the next 90 plus days.

Hopefully we`ll see our way clear of the pandemic, or at least be in a

better place.

 

But we`re all going to have to make changes to things that we are used to

having to address in the context of our day-to-day lives because of the

extraordinary nature of this pandemic. Housing is the most important

expense that most Americans face, either rent or either through their

mortgages. Nationally, I think things need to happen in terms of providing

housing relief, and that`s one of the things that will be on the table in

terms of House Democrats moving forward.

 

HAYES: All right. Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, thank you so much for

joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.

 

JEFFRIES: Thank you, Chris.

 

HAYES: Next, how to protect employees who still have to go to work, we`re

seeing more protests and more work labor actions as people say they are in

dangerous working conditions. My next guest staged a walk-out at Amazon in

New York. What happened, after this.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

HAYES: We are seeing a wave of labor action across the country in the midst

of this pandemic. Yesterday, workers for the grocery delivery app Instacart

held a one day strike demanding hazard pay and access to protective

equipment.

 

Today, employees from the grocer Whole Foods had a sick out. We have also

seen labor action by sanitation workers who walked off the job demanding

protective equipment and hazard pay as well, and at Amazon, which has seen

its sales soar, not surprisingly, is now hiring 100,000 new warehouse and

delivery people. As a result, workers across the country have said the

conditions inside the warehouses are unsafe.

 

Yesterday, more than a dozen workers in Amazon`s Staten Island warehouse

walked out in protest. The organizer of that walkout, Christian Smalls,

joins me now. He was fired from Amazon after that walkout. I should tell

you we talked to Amazon today, they refused to speak on the record. They

did provide with us a statement. They claim that they did not fire Mr.

Smalls because he organized the walkout, rather he was fired because he

violated, they say, a medical quarantine and came on site yesterday.

 

And Mr. Smalls joins me now.

 

We can get to the firing, but first I just want to ask you about what

conditions in the warehouse have been like and why you felt the need to do

something about them?

 

CHRISTIAN SMALLS, AMAZON: Well, as you know, this pandemic shocked the

world, shocked America. The conditions in the warehouse has been hugely

different. It`s been scary. It`s been like a ghost town in there.

Associates are scared to come to work ever since the pandemic hit us.

 

I`ve never seen something like this directly. I`ve seen associates get sick

weekly, different type of symptoms, talking about vomiting, dizziness,

fatigue – you name it, I`ve seen it. And it`s been scary, it`s been very

scary.

 

HAYES: When you talk about – so, you say that workers that you are working

with, you`ve seen them get sick. Are you able to maintain any kind of

distance in that environment? Have you been provided with things like masks

to kind of prevent transmission?

 

SMALLS: No, that`s the thing. Our PPE is very limited at the time. We don`t

have masks. The gloves that we have are not latex, they`re used for lifting

up boxes. As far as the environment, like you said, you just stated 100,000

employees being hired. Amazon`s hiring process is very scary, because you

are bringing in large loads of crowds off the streets and these people are

undiagnosed.

 

We don`t know where they`re coming from. We don`t know their status. When

they come into the building, they come in large groups, 30, 40, 50 people

at a time. There`s no way we can tell who is diagnosed and who is not. And

the company is not being transparent about, you know, who has this virus

and who doesn`t, so that`s the scariest thing.

 

HAYES: In terms of the demands for the walkout, and I know there was about

a dozen people the company says look, there are thousands of folks who are

working, this is a very small group of people that are unhappy. What do you

want to see happen? If you could sit down with Jeff Bezos and tell him

these are the top three things that we need to happen at your company, what

would that be?

 

SMALLS: Well, number one, there definitely needs to be a transparency of

how many cases are confirmed in this building. Why is it such a secret? You

know, me being a part of management, a PA, a process assistant, we had a

sync meeting and they`re telling me there`s one confirmed case in the

building and do not tell the associates. That right there was just alarming

right there. Why can`t the associates know that there`s confirmed cases in

the building? So there needs to be a transparency between that.

 

There definitely is a disconnect between that. And Jeff Bezos needs to

listen to the associates. It`s not just this building, it`s buildings all

across the nation. As you can see, this case is popping up one by one,

building by building. That should be a red flag, that there`s something

very wrong with the process and the safety procedures that`s going on in

these buildings.

 

So yesterday was a cry, a cry for help and a statement. I was giving the

people voices that are unheard. And that`s what I wanted to do. I want to

continue shedding light to the people that are unpaid right now, people

that have underlying health conditions, that are sitting home for the

entire month of March that haven`t been paid. There`s people that have

lupus. There`s people that have bronchitis. There`s people that have

asthma. We have senior citizens that they hired as well, 55, 65. These

people can`t come to work. This virus has no remorse.

 

So I`m speaking up for them. Yesterday, my demonstration was a statement.

 

HAYES: Let me ask you about your termination. They fired you after the

walkout. They say that you were violating company policy. You should have

been staying out of there because you had been exposed to a sick worker.

You were imperiling the health of others. What do you say to that?

 

SMALLS: Well, I`ll say that`s totally false. Number one, the associate I

sent home on Tuesday, she was working the entire shift Sunday, Monday and

Tuesday up until the point whee I sent her home. Her results came back

Wednesday. So I had no idea that she was going to test positive. I was only

around her for less than five minutes. We had a brief conversation early in

the morning around 9:30. She looked ill. She had a mask on. She had gloves

on. I stood from a distance. We had a brief conversation. I suggested she

go home, because she informed me she went for testing the night before. And

we all know that you don`t get the test unless you`re showing severe

symptoms.

 

So the policies with Amazon is very flawed, you know, because if you are

gone for testing, you shouldn`t be allowed back into the building. And the

problem, the discrepancy is – the discrepancy is you`re actually allowed

to come to work, sick or undiagnosed, until they receive a confirmation

letter from the doctor, which is crazy to me, because she went for testing

on Monday. Her confirmation letter didn`t come in until Thursday.

 

As you know, we`re in New York, and the doctors are overwhelmed right now.

They don`t have time to send out an email to the CDC and the CDC to contact

the job, so it took a number of days for that to get through. And she

actually had the window of opportunity to come to work, so thank god I sent

her home on Tuesday and she didn`t return, but if I wasn`t – if I didn`t

send her home she would have been able to work another 10 hour shift and

possibly put more people at risk.

 

HAYES: Right.

 

So, the point there being that this is not they`ve been real fastidious

about quarantine policy here, if that`s what their claim to…

 

SMALLS: No, the policy is very flawed and they need to take a very good

look at it.

 

Once again, I was only around her for five minutes. She was around every

employee in my department for 10-plus hours. So, who is the medical

expertise for Amazon that`s making these decisions that I need to be

quarantined and not my employees, not the employees in that department Like

how do they make that decision? And what do they consider as coming into

close contact? Is it walking into somebody? Is it touching somebody? Is it

talking, having a conversation?

 

So, these are the things that – the questions that need to be answered.

 

HAYES: Christian Smalls, thank you so much for taking time tonight. Thank

you for the work that you and your colleagues at Amazon in those warehouses

have been doing for the rest of the country. Appreciate it.

 

SMALLS: Ahead, what it`s like for the millions of health care workers on

the front line who are risking their lives every day. Their harrowing

stories after this.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

HAYES: There are millions of health care workers in this country who are

exposed to the Coronavirus every day when they go to work. They`re

generally putting their life on the line. And many who have died, including

this world-famous neurosurgeon from Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx, a

place I know well. I grew up a block away.

 

He performed life-saving surgery on conjoined twins a four years ago.

 

And there have been a bunch of others. In fact, in a very real sense, every

health care worker right now, particularly in places like New York, or

Louisiana, or Detroit, they`re putting their life on the line each time

they just show up to work.

 

It`s not just nurses and doctors, too, it`s also the janitorial staff who

are all risking infection every day when they go into rooms to clean them.

And many still don`t have adequate protection to do their job.

 

The chief nursing officer of Mount Sinai Brooklyn, who worked through the

AIDS epidemic, talked to New York Magazine about the nursing she manages,

saying every day I look at them and I think to myself, I don`t know if I

could do that. And if it was 20 years ago for me, could I do what they`re

doing? I don`t know.

 

Joining me now by phone is Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez, she`s a nurse

practitioner and president of the New York State Nurses Association, which

is the state`s largest nurses union.

 

First, Judy, I just want to know where you and your members sort of mental

emotional heads are at right now in terms of gearing yourself up for the

risks that you know you`re taking, particularly for ER and ICU nurses.

 

JUDY SHERIDAN-GONZALEZ, PRESIDENT, NEW YORK NURSES ASSOCIATION: yes, thanks

for having us on the show. You know, everybody is living in fear for their

own safety, for their own health, and for an ability to properly care for

patients because of the lack of PPE. It`s not necessary for health care

workers to risk their lives, if we had the appropriate PPE, the protective

equipment, such as that they had in the second wave in Wuhan and Singapore

and South Korea, we wouldn`t be risking our lives. We think it`s outrageous

that we have to risk our lives, because equipment exists that protect us

and allow us to carefully safely protect our patients, but we`re not in

that situation right now. And we find that inexcusable in a country like

ours with the wealth that we have to not be able to supply that kind of

protective equipment for our nurses, to not have the staffing that we need

to take care of our patients because the loads are now increasing

geometrically as the deaths do.

 

HAYES: One thing I`ve heard a lot about is health care workers just having

to rearrange their lives, their personal lives, particularly anyone with

around them who is immune compromised, old, with kids, who essentially had

to quarantine themselves just to do their job and are just doing nothing

other than being at the hospital and being alone. Is that a common

experience among your members.

 

SHERIDAN-GONZALEZ: Yes. People have had to dramatically alter their lives,

some of our nurses haven`t seen their kids for weeks, can`t take care of

their parents, which is what they usually do, you know, afraid to wear

clothing. You know, we don`t have a place to change. We are feeling

contaminated. And we desperately need the equipment, the safe PPE in order

to do so. We just don`t understand why the president hasn`t enforced the

DPA, so that we can manufacture the materials that we do need so that we

can take care of these patients, specially in the next two weeks as this

pandemic becomes much worse in this country.

 

HAYES: I guess final question in terms of this, I`ve seen varying

accounting of people not having PPE now or it being short supply or it

being rationed and about to run out. Are you saying that it`s all of those,

that there are nurses right now who are working who just don`t have the

actual adequate equipment they need right now as of right now, not

something that`s going to run out in the future.

 

SHERIDAN-GONZALEZ: Initially, the CDC changed guidelines and it made it

easy for hospitals to not to have the appropriate equipment because they

reduced the guidelines. It`s been a chaotic situation. We know what we

need. There is some equipment that we have but they need to produce more.

 

HAYES: All right. Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez, thank you so much both for coming

on tonight and the work that you and all your colleagues doing. I really

appreciate it.

 

That is ALL IN for this evening. “THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” starts right now.

Good evening, Rachel.

 

 

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY

BE UPDATED.

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