Gov. Cuomo TRANSCRIPT: 4/13/20, All In w/ Chris Hayes

Guests:
Andrew Cuomo, Mario Ramirez, Tom Nichols, Mark Lipsitch, Jesse Newman, Carol Marbin Miller
Transcript:

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re fighting to save this woman`s life and there

wasn`t time to make that kind of a call. And much of the time there isn`t.

And everybody – this saves people`s lives, but not often enough.

 

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Yes, it`s really sad. You`re bearing witness to it,

which hopefully means something to some of the people who are involved. I

appreciate the reporting you`re doing and joining us. We are over on time,

but I`ll tell everyone watching, keep it right here. “ALL IN” with Chris

Hayes starts now.

 

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

knew. They knew when they were warned. They knew and they knew and they

knew and they were warned and they were warned and they were warned and

they did next to nothing. There is a mountain growing by the day of

investigative reporting about how much the Trump administration knew about

the threat posed by the Coronavirus, the extent to which this devastation

we`re living through it this moment was predicted. And I don`t just mean in

exercises from last year, though there are those, or warnings during the

transition from the Obama administration, there are those as well, but

about this specific pandemic, early on.

 

New York Times is the most shocking breathtaking blow by blow of the

President`s failure to do anything at all. “Throughout January, Mr. Trump

repeatedly played down the seriousness of the virus and focused on other

issues, an array of figures inside his government from top White House

advisors to experts deep in the cabinet departments and intelligence

agencies identified the threat, sounded alarms, and made clear the need for

aggressive action.

 

The article describes an e-mail chain between a group of both public health

experts inside and outside the government sounding the alarm back in

January, calling themselves Red Dawn, an inside joke based on the 1984

movie about a band of Americans trying to save the country after a foreign

invasion.

 

There was delay after delay after delay as health officials and the Trump

administration urge action only to be turned aside. When the top disaster

response official at the Health and Human Services Department tried to warn

the president personally at the end of February, the disease was more

dangerous than previously thought, he never got a chance. And the reason is

the President was too upset about the sinking stock market.

 

The meeting that evening with Mr. Trump to advocate social distancing was

canceled, replaced by a news conference in which the President announced

the White House response would be put under the command of Vice President

Mike Pence. It took nearly three more weeks for the President to announce

social distancing guidelines, three weeks. And during that time period, the

number of confirmed Coronavirus cases in the U.S. jumped from 15 to more

than 4,200.

 

The fact the president knew about the danger and blew it off might explain

the utterly shocking posture that is currently coming from the leader of

the country, from Donald Trump, and his cronies. A complete, shocking, lack

of just basic human empathy toward the loss, the mourning, and grief that

Americans are going through.

 

Just today, we lost more than 1,600 Americans. We`ve lost 23,000 people in

total. And with those staggering numbers, listen to what some conservatives

are saying about those lots.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

BILL BENNETT, CONTRIBUTOR, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: Now, they say 60,000 people

will die. 61,000 is what we lost to the flu in 2017 and 2018, the flu. Now

we all regret the loss of 61,000 people if that`s what it turns out to be.

I`m going to tell you, I think it`s going to be less.

 

BILL O`REILLY, FORMER HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: The projections that you just

mentioned are down to 60,000. I don`t think it`ll be that high. 13,000 dead

now in the USA. Many people who are dying both here and around the world

were on their last legs anyway, and I don`t want to sound callous about

that.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

HAYES: They were on their last legs anyway. More than 20,000 people have

died. Bill O`Reilly does not want to sound callous about the fact that many

of them are on their last legs anyway. So really – this complete total

lack of empathy is reflected by a president who refuses to even pretend to

go through the motions of grief, of empathy. He has not acknowledged in any

real sense that it is incomprehensibly tragic and upsetting and just very

sad what we are going through, that we are losing these people.

 

Instead, he boasts that, you know, losing under 200,000 people will be a

win. He tweets about his T.V. ratings and his petty grievances. He spent

more than two hours today ranting in the White House briefing room,

claiming he has the absolute power as president to do whatever he wants,

and making it once again, all about him.

 

In the midst of this wrenching, horrible experience we`re all going

through, the most powerful person with the most important job just doesn`t

seem to care. It is grueling and horrifying. But acknowledging the tragedy

is part of how we collectively honor those lost together, experience it

together. And we did it after September 11th, and Katrina, and mass

shootings, and disasters, and the horrible tragedy in Las Vegas. But for

whatever reason, the president and many of his supporters are just not

interested in doing that right now.

 

Nicholas Kristof from The New York Times is probably best known for

covering wars. This weekend, he was allowed access inside two hard-hit

hospitals in my home borough of the Bronx, New York. And he documented the

overwhelming human toll this has taken.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

NICHOLAS KRISTOF, REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Death here has no dignity.

Patients can`t have visitors. They`re scared. They can`t even see their

nurse`s eyes.

 

KATHERINE CHAVEZ, NURSE: I spent 12 hours by his bedside with all my PPE

on. He would grab my hand and I just keep telling him that everything is

going to be OK, that we`re doing the best we could. But I could see the

fear in his eyes and it was heartbreaking because this is still so new to

us, that we just keep doing what we can and we don`t know what`s going to

happen.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

HAYES: As we all search for hope in the future, there is some spots of good

news. New York Has been the worst place in the world. New cases numbers in

that state and the city are coming down. Hospitalization numbers crucially

are coming down. There are still staggering high mortality rates day after

day punishing day, but they are at least no longer increasing. Here`s New

York Governor Andrew Cuomo earlier today.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): The worst is over. Yes, if we continue to be

smart going forward, because remember, we have the hinge on that valve. You

turn that valve too fast, you`ll see that number jump right back. But yes,

I think you can say the worst is over.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

HAYES: as brutal as this has been, it does seem like the virus is no longer

running away from us like it was just a few weeks ago. And New York

Governor Andrew Cuomo joins me now on the phone. Thank you for making a

little time, Governor. Talk to me more about that sort of threading the

needle between talking about the fact that certain key indicators are

coming down. It looks like maybe we`ve passed the peak and not wanting to

kind of take your foot off the gas as it were in the – in the battle

against the virus.

 

CUOMO: Yes, thank you, Chris, and good evening for you. And thank you for

your reporting on this story. You`ve done a tremendous service to us all.

Look, the reduction in the curve, if you will, the reduction on the

projections is not an act of God, it`s an act of government, and it`s an

act of the citizens of this country. We have reduced the curve.

 

In New York, we think we hit a plateau which is a horrific plateau with

much, much pain and death. But that was done and the numbers are so much

different than the initial projections because we acted responsibly and

diligently. That`s what is reducing the number. As soon as we stop doing

what we`re doing, if we get sloppy or undisciplined, or we change track,

you will see that number go up.

 

You tell me the behavior of New Yorkers today, I`ll tell you the

hospitalization rate in four days. So yes, we have reduced the curve

because of our action. And that`s why we have to be very, very careful now

as we get impatient, and we want to reopen, and we want to get out of the

homes, and we need to get back to work. We do that too fast, we do that

without respecting science and data, you will see us boomerang and you`ll

see the note those numbers go up again.

 

You know, the President has taken a strange approach in many ways, but

there were a lot of people touting the kind of federalism on display, which

is to say, lack of a national guidelines for a while, allowing states to

go. Then today he seemed to do a 180 and basically said, no, no, it`s not

really up to the states when the “reopen,” which itself is unclear. That`s

not a ribbon-cutting, right? He had this to say at the press conference. I

wanted to get your response to it about his authority in this matter. Take

a listen.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The President of the United

States has the authority to do what the President has the authority to do,

which is very powerful. The President of the United States calls the shots.

They can`t do anything without the approval of the President of the United

States.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

HAYES: Is that true? Is that your understanding of how this works?

 

CUOMO: No, that is not true. I don`t know why the President said it. I

don`t know why he would take us down this path because it`s the exact

opposite of everything he`s been trying to say, right? He did his opening

video saying bipartisan. Here, he had me in the video and Democratic

governors, he`s been partisan, then he winds up saying, I have total

authority, which is not true. It`s not legal. It`s a total abrogation of

the Constitution. The 10th amendment specifically says powers to the

States. Alexander Hamilton, all the founding fathers talked about the power

of the states, and how repugnant it would be for a federal head to say that

they have eminent authority.

 

The Constitution says we don`t have a king to say I have total authority

over the country because I`m the president, it`s absolute. That is a king.

We didn`t have a king. We didn`t have King George Washington, we have

President George Washington. And why he would want to say that after

initially when he did the “close down of the government,” he never did to

close down. He wants to say the travel ban with China was a closed down. It

wasn`t. It was a travel ban with China.

 

The closedown was left to the governors to do individually, state by state.

We have a whole quilt of different closed down strategies because you left

it to the governors. Now, the reopen should be total authority after we

just talked about bipartisanship. That makes no sense.

 

HAYES: Well, it seems to me that the sort of nightmare scenario from a

policy perspective to go back to what you said in the first answer is some

sort of edict from the White House that everybody has got to open back up

when that would be dangerous from a public health perspective, although

it`s also unclear whether that would be in any way enforceable other than

just messaging.

 

CUOMO: Well, yes, it would be – look, if he said – if he try to an edict

from the White House that put the people of the state of New York in

jeopardy or violated what I thought was in their best interest from a

public health point of view, we will just be off to a lawsuit and that`s

the only way this really horrendous situation could get worse is if you now

see a war between the federal government in the state. And why he would

even go there, I have no idea.

 

HAYES: Let me – let me ask you a final question about – because this sort

of relates in a – in a sort of microcosm to the state of New York,

obviously. You have federal relationships, and then you have relationships

with local, you know, mayors and county executives.

 

There was a back and forth about school closures which seemed to kind of

re-inscribed some of the tensions here between states and the federal

government, which is the mayor of New York Bill de Blasio said that schools

would be closed throughout the rest of the year, your office and I think

you yourself said he doesn`t have that authority, leaving New York City

School parents like myself somewhat frustrated and confused. What is going

on there? Are – what is the clear legal authority you have? And how do you

work out these sort of turf issues in the midst of this?

 

CUOMO: Look, the short answer is you don`t. The state does an emergency

order. I have 700 school districts in my state. I had different school

districts having different policies all across the state. It`s an

unmanageable situation. I get that local officials – I have 400 mayors, I

have 62 county executives. I understand every local official wants power

over their jurisdiction and normally they have it. In an emergency

situation, you need a state policy that unifies the state.

 

We went even further. I want New York State to work with Connecticut, work

with Jersey – New Jersey, Massachusetts to try to have a regional policy.

But you can`t have 700 school districts making 700 decisions. I closed the

schools statewide by a state emergency order. I rationalized the entire

education system in the state. I closed down businesses in the state by one

statewide closed down policy. And you can`t have local governments in the

state making their own decisions. It just wouldn`t work.

 

HAYES: All right, Governor Andrew Cuomo, thank you for taking a little bit

of time with us tonight. I really do appreciate it.

 

CUOMO: Thank you very much.

 

HAYES: Here with me now is Dr. Mario Ramirez. He`s the former Acting

Director for the Office of Pandemic and Emerging Threats, who helped lead

the Obama administration`s response to the Ebola crisis. He`s now speaking

out for the first time about the Trump administration`s handling of the

coronavirus.

 

And Doctor, what do you see as you watch this play out this sort of desire

to not have responsibility or leadership except when they want it, this

kind of weird back and forth we`ve seen from the White House and the degree

to which they`re coordinating or playing back up in their response?

 

MARIO RAMIREZ, FORMER ACTING DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF PANDEMIC AND EMERGING

THREATS: Well, thank you for having me, Chris. I`m glad to join you this

evening. You know, I think you`re right. And I think the governor spoke

about that very eloquently. I mean, I – when I was part of the Obama

administration and lived through the Ebola response, one of the things that

was so striking about that was just the importance that the leaders placed

on validated data.

 

At that time, sort of even during the initial chaos, there was an emphasis

on finding out who had the virus, how could we confirm that they were

positive and where were they going. With this virus, we don`t have that

same sort of reliability in the data, and we have lagged weeks to months

behind where we really need to be. And the concern is that some of the

leadership is trying to use inaccurate data to drive those decisions.

 

HAYES: It strikes me today, the president announcing this, you know, a

third task force to reopen the economy. That`s his daughter and his son in

law and some people that said it was contained when you know, we had a few

cases and now we have 600,000 or whatever it is, that that they still think

the reopen the economy is distinct from the public health questions as

opposed to entirely dependent upon the public health resolution.

 

RAMIREZ: Well, it`s a – it`s a hard question. And I, you know, anecdotally

as someone who is not living in D.C., not living in New York, in one of the

major sort of large cities affected, but living here in the south, I very

much I understand the economic pain that people are going through, and this

question about when you can reopen the economy in the light of this public

health threat.

 

But I think that, you know, most people would agree that we should really

only open the government and the economy when people can agree that it`s

safe to do so. And one of the things anecdotally, I`ll tell you, as

somebody who has seen patients on a daily basis right now with Coronavirus,

is that our testing does not give us a good sense of who is actually

infected. We`re seeing multiple patients with several negative tests before

they actually turn positive.

 

And what this administration has said is that we`re going to use good

testing information and contact tracing to find – try to sort of track

who`s infected, and then get people back to work safely if we can separate

those two groups. But my concern is that we have not been able to separate

those two groups and it makes it very difficult to safely open the economy

in that sort of situation.

 

HAYES: So, you`re now the third – I think, the third or fourth Doctor who

has said is almost exactly the same thing to me in the past week about

negative tests proceeding positive tests. Is that – is that an issue of

testing quality in false negatives or is that an issue of how the virus

itself is moving through the patient?

 

RAMIREZ: It`s a good question, Chris. And I – you know, I think the truth

is that we don`t know. There is still a lot that we don`t know about this

virus. Now, I will tell you that statistically, this test, you know, in

some ways is similar to influence a testing, which historically only has a

50 to 70 percent test accuracy. And so it`s important, I think, to

interpret these results to that.

 

But there`s no question that we`re getting false negatives from difficulty

with sampling. And then we also just don`t know at what point people are

actually experiencing viral shedding that we can actually pick this up.

 

HAYES: Final question for you. Just in terms of you dealing with patients

and talking a little bit about the human toll of this, because I know you

do – you practice emergency medicine, if I`m not mistaken. You know, to

people that are still these many months in are saying, well, the flu this

and the flu that, what do you say to them?

 

RAMIREZ: Well, I think the biggest contrast, right, is that we don`t shut

down the economy on an annual basis for the flu. And so, I think heading to

the top of your segment, you talked about 60,000 people who die on an

annual influenza year. That is true, but we don`t shut down the economy for

that.

 

And so yes, it is true that we have driven down the fatality numbers for

now, but we have made an incredible trade-off to get there. And as somebody

who is seeing these patients out there and not having a good sense for how

much of this is out there circulating, I think it`s irresponsible for us to

say that this is going to stop at 60,000. If we reopen too soon, there`s no

question in my mind that this will go back up quite quickly.

 

HAYES: All right. Dr. Mario Ramirez, thank you so much. I appreciate it.

 

RAMIREZ: Thank you.

 

HAYES: I want to bring in Tom Nichols, former Republican Senate staffer,

author of the book The Death of Expertise, who wrote an amazing piece in

The Atlantic titled, “With each briefing, Trump is making us worse people.”

He writes, there has never been an American president as spiritually

impoverished as Donald Trump, and his spiritual poverty is draining the

last reserves of decency among us at a time when we need it most.

 

Tom, the piece really stuck in my mind and I feel almost – it`s almost too

banal an observation to say that the President lacks empathy or lacks the

ability at least to communicate it, but it is – I find myself shocked

daily at how little of that there is not just from the president, but his

supporters as we`re slogging through this awful, awful tragedy.

 

TOM NICHOLS, AUTHOR AND PROFESSOR: And it matters. It matters – you know,

normally this would be the kind of observation to say, well, the President

is just not a very nice person and a lot of the people who support him, you

know, are not nice people talking about how, you know, COVID is taking down

the people that are on their last legs and other callous and horrible

statements like that.

 

But it matters because the President`s inability to transcend himself even

for a moment to think of anything that isn`t immediately something related

to him makes him unbreathable. It makes him uneducable, it makes him unable

to think clearly or listen to anyone. These are all the characteristics

that are really crucial in a leader at a moment of crisis. They have to be

able to listen.

 

Anyone who`s ever briefed a leader, particularly politician, knows there

comes a moment where they get quiet, they pay attention, they listen to

you. He never has that moment. It`s only about what affects him and how

he`s perceiving it. And that`s one of the things that makes him so

dangerous right now and is really put us behind the eight ball in terms of

our response to the crisis.

 

HAYES: Well, it`s been so evident – it was so evident today, which is a

particularly deranged performance, frankly. I don`t mean that in a clinical

sense, I speak in terms of the bizarreness of it. But the President uses

fundamentally –

 

NICHOLS: It was bad.

 

HAYES: It was bad. And – but again, fundamentally from the beginning, when

you look at how he talked about it, don`t worry about it, it`s one case,

and we`ve got it under control, and then he was worried about the stock

market, he has viewed it as a political threat, fundamentally political

threat that he`s experiencing personally as an attack on his possible

reelection. And that is so evidently 90, to 95, to 99 percent of how it

occupies his mind, and to a terrifying degree, the government.

 

NICHOLS: That – well, that`s how he deals with everything, purely through

the prism of what does this mean for me in the moment I am in. And that`s

one of the things that makes him so spiritually corrosive, because this is

really a time to think about other people.

 

You`ll notice that all of these completely unhinged pressers, he never

starts by talking about the number of people who are lost, what people are

going through, just some acknowledgment that you know, this is a terrible,

tragic time. Instead, he just dives right into the airing of grievances,

the litany of, you know, things that make him angry.

 

And he drags us into that, as well. He pulls us into that moment where

we`re just kind of focused on him and his problems. And it`s – I think it

really tells you something about again, why we`re behind the eight ball on

this crisis.

 

HAYES: Yes, the narcissism itself is kind of weirdly transmissible. The

final point here to me on the kind of the sort of substantive ramifications

of this sort of self-obsession in terms of how he`s viewing it is, you

know, you had him last week, urging people to go out and vote in Wisconsin

for their state election because he had – he had endorsed the conservative

Republican state supreme court candidate. We`ve got results tonight that

appear to show that candidate losing to the liberal challenger. I don`t

know if that`s been declared yet, but at least behind this hour.

 

But there, you`ve got a situation of people being put in, in danger,

essentially putting them at the altar of sacrifice for the political

project of a candidate Donald Trump endorsed.

 

NICHOLS: And once again, everything Trump touches dies. You know, it blew

up and at least it seems to have, unless they`re – you know, at this

point, the count seems to be that this has blown up in his face. But again,

what`s really stunning about this is because Donald Trump has never been in

danger, because he has never risked anything, because he`s never sacrificed

anything, he thinks nothing of it but to say go out there and do this so

that I am not embarrassed, so that I don`t feel bad about this.

 

And this is again, it is like a masterclass in the opposite of leadership

at this moment. And he thinks about no one but himself, he cannot become

anything bigger than himself. And that`s one of the reasons I`ve referred

to him as a spiritual black hole. He just – there is nothing else there

but himself at every moment, and he`s willing to endanger other people for

that.

 

HAYES: And there`s a real – I mean, the point you make in the piece and

something I`ve been thinking about is it like, you know, in the news

business, for instance, often we find ourselves covering the aftermath of

tragedies. And those can come in different ways. It could be natural

disasters, it could be mass shootings, it can be a jihadi inspired a

murder, shooting people in a nightclub in Orlando. And all of them are, you

know, it just palpable how horrible it is, the sort of emotional toll of

it, and on the people that are close to it.

 

And part of the thing that we do as a society you try to is have some sort

of empathic capacity, you know, to mourn with others and to – and to feel

their pain. And it seems to me that it`s doing something very bad and ugly

to society to not have that being modeled right now.

 

NICHOLS: Right. And insofar as he ever shows any empathy about these

things, clearly someone on his staff has learned to personalize everything

to him, which is really you know the opposite of the way you learn empathy.

Empathy is the ability to get outside of yourself and think about what

other people are going through.

 

But for example, clearly, someone said go look at Elmhurst Hospital. You

know, you know this place you`ve been there, you`ve seen this. So that –

and he took about it for days, because somehow that kind of penetrated to

this moment where he said, oh, this could be me. But when it comes to other

people, that – it doesn`t register at all. You know, other people being in

danger means nothing. He only seems to even get close to a moment like

that, if he thinks it`s something that could personally hurt him, and

that`s the opposite of empathy.

 

HAYES: Tom Nichols who wrote that great piece in The Atlantic, you should

check out, thank you for being here.

 

NICHOLS: Thanks for having me.

 

HAYES: Coming up, it`s one of the most consequential questions still

unanswered, who is immune to the coronavirus, and how do we know. Harvard

professor Marc Lipsitch on the immunity question next.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

HAYES: There`s a lot we`ve come to know about this novel coronavirus, as

just about every research mind in the entire world is essentially currently

focused on it, but there`s a lot that we still don`t know. And they don`t

know part is frustrating and extremely consequential because it means a lot

for what comes next, like getting a good picture of what immunity looks

like.

 

As epidemiologist Marc Lipsitch points out in the New York Times, there is

simply just not enough data right now. “For now it is reasonable to assume

that only a minority of the world`s population is immune to SARS-CoV-2,

even in hard-hit areas. How could this tentative picture evolve as better

data comes in? Early hints suggest it could change in either direction.”

 

To talk more about this I`m joined by the author of that piece, Mark

Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology, director of the Center for

Communicable Disease Dynamics of the Harvard School of Public Health.

 

So there seems two related questions here, Mark. One is, whether people

that recover – the first one is whether people who recover are then

immune. What is the sort of status of that question?

 

MARK LIPSITCH, HARVARD SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH:  Well, it`s pretty clear

that a majority of people who recover from this disease, at least those

studied, have an immune response. They have antibodies. They probably also

have other parts of an immune response like T-cell response that hasn`t

been measured as carefully yet, because it`s harder to measure.

 

But the real question is whether it`s really just a majority, or whether

it`s nearly everyone. And the other question is whether that immunity is

strongly protective against future reinfection. And those two parts are

still uncertain right now.

 

HAYES:  So that idea between a majority and, you know, 95 percent, like

that`s a huge – that variable is enormous for what it means for both

people`s personal risk and then the kind of social degree of herd immunity,

right?

 

LIPSITCH:  Exactly.

 

So if it`s everyone, or nearly everyone, who has been infected, then those

people will in fact, be able to take part in society without significant

risk of becoming reinfected; if not, then we have to figure out what`s the

determinant of those who are protected by their immune response and those

who aren`t.

 

And we need to figure that out in any case because at the moment it`s

uncertain. So, the goal of studies in the coming months is going to have to

be figuring out exactly who is protected and if there are some people who

are not. That does also matter to herd immunity, meaning to how fast we get

to the point where the virus transmission has slowed just by the fact that

so many people are immune the way it is when we vaccinate people.

 

HAYES:  So a related question there, and this is the subject of tremendous

amount of debate, and some of that debate from actual credentialed folks

like yourself and some from cranks, but if I could sort of cut through

that, the question of how many people had the thing, right? I mean, is it

twice what we`re measuring or is it 20 times or is it 50 times? Like and

how could we even know what the universe of the sort of undiagnosed cases

are, because that`s going to matter a lot, too, for how deadly we think it

is, and again, when we can get to herd immunity.

 

LIPSITCH:  Yeah, so we`re all trying to figure that out. And of course it`s

different in different places that have more or less testing. But I think

what`s clear is that there – even in the places with really good testing

there are people who are so mildly ill or not ill at all that we don`t

catch them unless we deliberately go and find them, and you can see that

from Iceland and you can see that from a study that`s just coming out now

in the New England Journal suggesting that there are women who are

delivering babies who are asymptomatic but have the virus.

 

So it`s clear that those people exist. The question is how many of them?

And what the testing regime is catching in any given place. So we know it`s

substantial and it`s probably very large in the United States, because we

do such poor testing overall. But getting that number really does matter

and we`re not there yet.

 

HAYES:  There is a piece study by Harvard Medical School that talked about

how long COVID-19 patients could continue to be contagious, which is

another really important variable that based on the most recent research

people may continue to shed the virus and be potentially contagious for up

to eight days after they are feeling better, which again, these long window

periods of asymptomatic transmission seem like part of what makes this so

dangerous and difficult.

 

LIPSITCH:  Yeah, I think that`s important to study further. I would just

add, though, that most of the data so far suggests that people are most

contagious right near the beginning of symptoms if they have symptoms.

 

HAYES:  Right.

 

LIPSITCH:  And I`ve been stressing throughout this pandemic that almost

everything can happen. There are going to be people who have long durations

of shedding. There are going to be people who transmit before they`re

infectious. The question is not whether it can happen, but whether it`s

making a big difference and is happening as a matter of course.

 

And so I wouldn`t jump to the conclusion that eight days is typical or even

common.

 

HAYES:  Let me – final question to follow up on that, because I think this

will be useful for people managing their anxiety amidst this, which is, you

know, a lot of people I have talked to they have been making this

distinction between what can – what can happen, what some study says about

how long it can live on surfaces and things like that, and what really is

happening to make up the bulk of transmission. And the sense I`ve gotten is

that most of it is people to people contact is what`s driving this illness.

 

LIPSITCH:  I think that`s right. And it`s still important to wash hands and

to wear masks and do other things, avoid touching your face in order to

reduce that part of transmission that might come from contact with a thing

rather than a person.

 

But indeed, the bulk of it does seem to come from other people.

 

HAYES:  All right. Mark Lipsitch, always a really, really informative and

illuminating when you`re on. Thank you for making time.

 

LIPSITCH:  Thank you.

 

HAYES:  Coming up, why isn`t the government keeping records how the

Coronavirus is hitting the most vulnerable Americans. What is happening

inside nursing homes after this.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

HAYES:  The first death in the U.S. from the Coronavirus came back in

February, a man living in a nursing home in Washington state. And it`s been

evident from that moment that people living in nursing homes are probably

the single most vulnerable population to this virus. And yet, remarkably,

the federal government is not keeping or transmitting statistics on how

many people in nursing homes have gotten the virus and how many died from

it. So, it`s been left to reporters.

 

The Associated Press, for instance, reports that more than 3,600 deaths

nationwide have been linked to Coronavirus outbreaks in nursing homes and

long term care facilities. USA Today found that at least 2,300 nursing

homes have Coronavirus cases. And the reality is likely much worse.

 

There are so many stories about how hard this virus has hit nursing homes.

At one facility, for example, in Atlanta with 92 beds, nearly 80 percent of

residents have tested positive, at least seven people from the facility

have died. And among them Eddie Johnson Jr. and Blanche Johnson, who died

three days apart. This heartbreaking picture shows the Johnsons in their

final days hand-in-hand as they were both fighting the virus.

 

Of course, that`s not the only thing that – only place where this

devastation has happened. The daughter was devastated by her parents`

passing. This is what she had to say.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

JENNIFER MCWHORTER, DAUGHTER OF EDDIE AND BLANCHE JOHNSON:  It is truly a

struggle.

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Three days apart.

 

MCWHORTER:  It was so painful. They were struggling. They – both of them

had developed pneumonia.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

HAYES:  In Florida, Republican Governor Ron DeSantis is refusing to

actually tell people which nursing homes have Coronavirus cases. Miami

Herald reports that after it drafted a lawsuit seeking to force the state

to divulge which nursing homes have had positive cases, an aid to the

governor successfully pressured the Herald`s law firm not to file the suit.

 

I`m joined now by Carol Marbin Miller. She is the Herald`s deputy

investigations editor who first tried to find out which Florida nursing

homes have had cases three weeks ago.

 

And maybe you can start, Carol, telling us the origins of what – why you

were curious about this and what you tried to track down data-wise?

 

CAROL MARBIN MILLER, MIAMI HERALD:  We started writing about this in March.

There…

 

HAYES:  Looks like we have lost Carol Marbin Miller. She did some great

work trying to assemble those statistics. What basically happened was she

attempted to file a FOIA investigation to actually get those numbers. The

governor and the state of Florida are not releasing which nursing homes

have cases. There`s obviously a lot of people out there who want to know

that both from the sort of journalistic perspective, but personally. There

are people that have loved ones inside those facilities. They want to know

if there had been infections there. They drafted a suit seeking –

essentially under the state`s sunshine laws – records into that. And what

appears to have happened is that an aid to the governor pressured the law

firm representing the suit not to file it.

 

The governor`s office says this was all above board, a routine

conversation, but it seems the Miami Herald still wants to get to the

bottom of that information.

 

It also points out the fact that we do not have any sort of national

collection of this information. There are people around the country, of

course, who want to know this. We also have a good reason to believe that

because of the testing insufficiencies the actual number of confirmed cases

inside of these institutions is most likely much, much larger than even the

preliminary counts that we`ve gotten from organizations like the Associated

Press, NBC News, which has been doing some counting as well.

 

We`ve known from the beginning that nursing homes were going to be one of

the hardest hit places. It was the first big story about mass fatality out

of Kirkland, Washington when this first came into the U.S. and we first

started seeing community transmission. There have been regulations that

have been promulgated by (inaudible) the Center for Medicaid and Medicare

studies. They have done some work on this, but we still don`t know the

fundamental answer.

 

And down in Florida, The Miami Herald is trying to get answers. I suspect

other reporters in other parts of the country are trying to get those

answers, as well.

 

We`ll be right back with more.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

HAYES:  I`d like to bring back in Carol Marbin Miller on the phone. We lost

her there. We have her back.

 

As I mentioned, she`s the Miami Herald`s deputy investigations editor who

has been trying to find out which Florida nursing homes have had

Coronavirus cases.

 

And Carol, what did you encounter when you first tried to sort of do the

reporting here to find out this basic information?

 

MILLER:  Back in March, we started writing about an assisted living

facility in Fort Lauderdale that had become a hotspot. By the end of that

there were seven elders who had died. And we wanted to know what other

hotspots there would be, so we started submitting public records requests

with two state agencies and the governor`s office.

 

We are about three weeks in and we are still waiting for a response. We

have not even been told yet, in fact, why we cannot get the records.

 

I want to say that Florida has one of the most favorable public records

laws in the country and that is the result of a referendum, a voter

referendum, passed in November of 1992, passed overwhelmingly. And we feel

quite strongly that if we could get the governor`s office and these two

state agencies to engage with us, that these public records that we`re

entitled to them.

 

HAYES:  The reporting indicates that there is a conversation, a law firm

was contacted by the governor`s office. The governor`s office said it was a

routing phone call. They were not, you know, attempting to brow beat them

out of pursuing this case. What`s your understanding of what happened?

 

MILLER:  My understanding comes from my editors and from our lawyer, and I

do not think that that was a routine phone call. We submitted what is

called the pre-suit notice to the state, because in doing so we can collect

legal fees if we prevail in court.

 

When the governor`s office was alerted, on the verge of suing, the

governor`s general counsel George Meros – I`m sorry, I`m getting that

wrong, the governor`s general counsel, Joe Jacquot, put in a phone call to

a politically connected partner at our then law firm Holland and Knight,

and that quickly connected Senior Partner George Meros, intervened, and we

got a call from our lawyer, Sandy Boher (ph), saying that Holland and

Knight would not file that lawsuit on our behalf.

 

My understanding of that call was that Holland and Knight was told, do you

a lot of business with the state, you make a lot of money off the state of

Florida, and you will not continue to if you represent the Miami Herald in

that lawsuit.

 

HAYES:  Wow. That is extremely damning. I hope that you`re able to find

another firm that can help you get to this information, it seems very

important. Carol Marbin Miller, thank you for what you`re doing, and thank

you for your time tonight.

 

MILLER:  Thank you.

 

HAYES:  In other news tonight, we are seeing signs that the country`s the

food supply chain is under significant stress. Here are two scenes. These

are the enormous lines for the L.A. regional food bank over the weekend

with cars stretching for miles. We`ve seen this kind of scene play out all

over the country. People are desperate for food. They`re having trouble

feeding their families, their kids particularly.

 

And here`s another scene, this is what some dairy farmers are doing,

dumping out thousands of gallons of fresh milk every day. Other farmers are

destroying crops outright, plowing, for instance, ripe vegetables right

back into the ground, because of the restaurants, schools and closed,

farmers that are part of the commercial food supply chain just don`t have

anywhere to sell their products.

 

Also, the front line workers, those that are keeping the food chain going,

they are clearly at tremendous risk. They are still in the fields picking

produce with minimal to no protection, particularly immigrants without

papers.

 

This is what it looks like inside the pork processing plant, people working

there have to stand shoulder to shoulder. Yesterday, one of the largest

plants in the country shut down in South Dakota indefinitely after nearly

300 employees tested positive for Coronavirus. That is nearly a third of

the cases in the entire state.

 

The food supply chain is one of those things that the vast majority of us,

I think, tend to take for granted. We go to a restaurant or a grocery store

or a fast food chain and the food is just there. But this crisis is putting

stress on all parts of it from every angle. Last week we brought you an

interesting story about our toilet paper supply. And that reporting showed

that the reason there is a shortage of toilet paper at stores is only

really partly because people are hoarding the stuff, it`s more because the

industry is split into two markets, there`s a commercial one and consumer

one. And everyone at home is now using the consumer product, and the

commercial one, the one that is usually given to businesses and campuses

and office buildings, cannot be easily made available for residential use.

 

Well, guess what? It turns out the food supply chain is structured in a

similar way. While grocery stores are having a hard time keeping things in

stock, there is an entire food chain designed to sell bulk food to fast

food stores and restaurants, that is essentially being left to rot. That is

because the supply chain, as one dairy industry advocate explains, it is

tough to just switch around.

 

(BEIGN VIDEO CLIP)

 

MARTY MCKINZIE, DAIRY MAX, INDUSTRY IMAGE AND RELATIONS VICE P RESIDENT: 

Because often time, the packaging and the size of the product that`s

delivered to grocery stores or distributed through those avenues, of food

service, are much larger and not necessarily for family use.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

HAYES:  This weekend, Wall Street Journal`s agricultural reporter Jesse

Newman wrote about Coronavirus`s impact on our food supply chain,

specifically why farmers are dumping milk and breaking eggs in the middle

of a pandemic. Jesse Newman joins me now.

 

And Jesse, you`ve been doing great reporting on this that I`ve been

following avidly. Talk to me a little bit about this conundrum here, the

paradox of these sort of two supply chains and the fact that one of them is

so in sort of disuse at this strange moment that there`s tons of food being

produced with nowhere to go?

 

JESSE NEWMAN, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL:  Yeah, thanks. It`s a really strange

situation that farmers and food producers find themselves in. You know, in

the past few months, since all of this began, we`ve seen just massive

upheaval in the food

supply chain.

 

And, you know, at the beginning we saw consumers flocking to grocery

stories and clearing shelves of just about every product in anticipation of

weeks and months at home. And so we started looking at, well, what is the

strength of the food supply chain? And early on, we learned that there was

plenty of food in the country, so our cold storage warehouses were full of

products like chicken and pork. And there was plenty of fresh produce on

farms, and on orchards, and plenty of grain in grain bins.

 

But it`s become clear over time that those huge, the huge shift was

necessary, was needed to take place in order to get that food to consumers.

So as restaurants closed, and school cafeterias, all of that food that was

destined for those outlets needed to be shifted to grocery stores. And as

it turns out, that`s tough to do.

 

HAYES:  Right, so you`ve got this situation where the food is there but

they don`t have the relationships, the distributors or the networks, that

are sort of pre-established to get them into major grocery chains. So

you`ve got that sort of part of it wilting. Are the – is the grocery

avenue able to keep up right now? I mean is the sort of residential

household use, food supply chain functioning essentially?

 

NEWMAN:  So grocers, like everyone in the food supply chain, are scrambling

to keep up. And the challenge really is converting some of these products

from restaurants into the grocery chain, so for example, we wrote about

dairies that are dumping milk and chicken companies that are breaking eggs,

that are growing chickens for meat and there`s just too much food that

can`t make it into the grocery channel, as you say, because those – some

of those relationships don`t exist. And it is also a question of varieties

of food, and packaging, and sizes.

 

So for example, the vegetable producer told me that they`ve got all of this

conventional spinach that they grow for use in restaurants. Well, as it

turns out, shoppers mostly prefer organic spinach. And so there just isn`t

a home for vast quantities of the conventional spinach that they grow.

 

And in the case of dairy, a good example is cheese. So on a dairy farm,

which produces millions of gallons of milk, a lot of that goes into cheese

production. And cheese makers are making huge packages of shredded cheese

that are bound for pizza chains, mozzarella chain going on top of pizzas,

and is not easily converted into a small eight ounce zippered bag that a

consumer likes to buy at a grocery store, it just takes specialized

equipment and it`s very costly to try to shift on a dime.

 

HAYES:  So, the final question here has to do with the workers that are

part of this entire chain. I mean, these are people that are essential

services, whether it`s the grocery person, or a farm worker picking fruit

or those folks we`ve seen in pork processing plants, I mean these are all

people who are both needed, but also really exposed right now, as the story

out of South Dakota shows.

 

NEWMAN:  That`s right. So, farm workers have been deemed essential workers.

They are still being encouraged to go to work and pick our fresh fruit and

vegetables, or in the case of meat processing plants, workers, you know, we

need those workers, to produce the products that we all enjoy.

 

And yet, they, farm workers and their advocates, are quite concerned about

the risks that they face. A lot of workers, as you mentioned are

undocumented, some are here on seasonal guest worker visas. And their

employment is tied to a particular employer. And there are, you know,

conditions that persist in this particular industry that are very

concerning, whether it is overcrowded housing, or these workers are being

transported to fields, dozens of workers in a bus. They work in close

proximity to one another. And so, you know, there is a lot of concern about

their health and safety.

 

HAYES:  Jesse Newman has been doing just really excellent, excellent

reporting on all of this at The Wall Street , thank you so much.

 

NEWMAN:  Thank you.

 

HAYES:  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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