coronavirus bill TRANSCRIPT: 4/21/20, All in w/ Chris Hayes

Phil Murphy, Gretchen Whitmer, Richard Levitan, Doug Jones, Elissa Slotkin, Albert Samaha



DISEASES: – But that we have a real prevention and indeed a real cure.

Thank you.




ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: We now have hope and hope for a cure. Those were

Dr. Fauci`s words. They resonate today. They`re our last words in tonight`s

broadcast. Keep it right here for Chris Hayes.


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

week, the Trump administration put forward his plan for “opening up America

again.” A clear signal to states that it was time to think about it, to get

back to reopen.


In fact, the President has been talking about more than that. He`s been

talking about a future with crowded restaurants and packed football

stadiums. And he`s been encouraging these small groups of very loud

protesters, sometimes armed, who are trying to pressure governors to ease

restrictions and who do not, for the record, reflect the opinion of the

majority, indeed, the vast majority of Americans.


The reality remains that it is not clear the country is ready to open in

any full sense. And we need to ground the conversation in the reality of

now, right? This is what now looks like. On Sunday, there were 16 pages of

obituaries in the Boston Globe. It`s the largest daily paper in Boston,

eight and a half pages and the Times Picayune, out of New Orleans. That is

almost double the normal amount. 12 pages and Connecticut`s Hartford

Current, the index on the left uncharacteristically stretching all the way

to the bottom of the page.


And in New York, where new cases are down, thank God, the ICUs are still

full, surgical trauma nurses like Amy Pacholk are exhausted.




AMY PACHOLK, NURSE, STONY BROOK MEDICINE: None of us in the downstate area

of New York can even handle anything more. There`s no way. We`re full. And

frankly, we`re tired. And there`s nobody to be able to do our jobs. If you

want to live, you stay home. My God, don`t open up this country.




HAYES: If you want to live, you stay home. Today, we lost another 2,500

Americans to this virus, and the idea that we are definitively past the

peak, that it`s time to sort of move on the virus cannot get even worse

once we venture back out, it`s just not supported by the available



Just today, we saw the biggest jumping Coronavirus cases since April 10.

The COVID tracking project which has been assembling this data and

publishing it for all the U.S. states and territory said coronavirus deaths

rose to a new single-day high and their data set today.


The director of the Centers for Disease Control himself warned the second

wave of coronavirus this winter will likely be worse. Telling the

Washington Post, “When I said this to others, they kind of put their head

back. They do not understand what I mean.”


But here`s the thing. The Trump ministration his own plan, the one that

they released to great fanfare, their own plan for states to begin to

“reopen” requires the state to have – and I`m quoting here, “downward

trajectory of documented cases within a 14 day period,” as well as, “robust

testing program in place for at-risk healthcare workers including emerging

antibody testing.”


Now, those are in fact quite sensible recommendations. And they are in

phase one of the administration`s reopening plan. But it is not clear that

any of the states that announced they are reopening meet those Trump

administration guidelines. Look at the state of Georgia, which is about to

reopen a wide range of businesses under Republican governor Brian Kemp.


The state will allow the reopening of businesses including hair salons,

gyms, bowling alleys, nail salons, and massage therapy centers on Friday,

followed by restaurants, private social clubs and movie theaters on Monday.


If that sounds insane to you, you are not alone. For the record, Georgia

does not meet the White House guidelines. It does not have a 14-day

trajectory of declining cases. It has tested less than 90,000 people out of

a population of more than 10 million. Mayors in Georgia are describing the

governor`s decision as reckless, dangerous, and illogical.


Stacey Abrams, who was the governor`s Democratic opponent in that 2018

gubernatorial election, hotly contested, says “the decision could cost






largest state in the nation, but we have the 14th highest infection rate

and the seventh slowest testing rate. What that means is that these jobs

that are reopening, these businesses that are reopening, are going to force

frontline workers back to the work without having been tested, without

having access to a health care system to help them if they are in need.


The worry is that by trying to push a false opening of the economy, we risk

putting more lives in danger.




HAYES: But it`s not just Georgia. Republican-led South Carolina and

Tennessee have plans to reopen. Texas and Alaska are moving in that

direction as well. Colorado which is run by Democrat, Governor Jared Polis

who we`ve had on this program also has a reopening plan, though we should

say, the timeline is considerably less aggressive.


The push in some states to reopen quickly, even in contravention of, again,

the White House, the Trump administration`s own guidelines, is perhaps best

encapsulated by the Lieutenant Governor of Texas Republican Dan Patrick,

who argues that there are, and I quote him here, “more important things

than living,” like bowling in Georgia, apparently.


But it`s not even clear, and this is a really important point, that this

move by Georgia governor Brian Kemp or other states will be good for the

businesses in these states. Those businesses will have restrictions lifted,

but they may not be able to conduct business safely and they may not have

many or any customers. So what good does it do them?


One Georgia business owner tweeted this. The state`s decision “demolishes

our ability to negotiate with our commercial landlord about easing the rent

during the pandemic. They`ll expect us to reopen on Friday and pay rent in

full a week after. This is kind of the point.”


For all the attempts of some voices on Trump T.V. and the president to

blame the governors for the predicament, the problem remains the virus. And

now a state like Georgia has put restaurants and nail salons and tattoo

parlors in a situation where I guess, you know, it`s on them to pay the

bills, even if they do not have customers or to try to strong-arm their

workers into coming in and giving massages.


It remains the case and I get tired of saying it but it`s just true every

night that fighting and combating and beating the virus, containing it,

surveilling it needs to be our primary concern. It is such a simple

elemental truth. It somehow needs, however, to be drummed into the heads of

powerful people that seem intent on missing it.


At the White House today, a group of nurses held a protest over their lack

of personal protective gear. Clad in face masks, they held up photos of

their fallen colleagues, while reading aloud the names of 50 nurses who

have died from the virus.





colleagues are dying. Our health care workers, our nurses, our doctors, our

people are dying. I think that right now, people think of us as heroes. But

we`re feeling like martyrs. We`re feeling like we`re being left on the

battlefield with nothing. On COVID units, everyone is hungry, everyone is

thirsty. Everyone is afraid to eat and afraid to drink because if we take

our masks off, we`re afraid we`re being exposed.




HAYES: I`m joined tonight by the Democratic governors of two states, both

part of a different multi-state PACs on Coronavirus mitigation, Governor

Phil Murphy in New Jersey and Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan. And

Governor Murphy, let me start with you.


New Jersey obviously is a different state. Every state has different

outbreaks and different things to think about. But just to sort of imagine

what it would be in New Jersey, if you were to say tomorrow in New Jersey,

you can open your nail salons, you can open your restaurants, you can open

your movie theaters, I mean, would that work at all? Would there be any

customers? Would there be any commerce whatsoever?


GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D-NJ): Chris, good to be with you. I`m honored also to be

with Governor Whitmer. I`m a big fan of hers. And by the way, before I

answer, sign me up for the importance of living team. So with all due

respect to the Lieutenant Governor of Texas, my God, nobody would show up.


People are a lot smarter than some of these folks are giving them credit

for. They want to have not only do we want to preach stay at home, social

distancing, do your part – and by the way, New Jersey has done – the

folks in this state have done a great job with that, but we`re not out of

the woods yet.


Not only do we need to give them the confidence that we`ve got a testing

regime in place, contact tracing, we`ve got a plan to isolate any rebirth

of this, in addition to cracking the back of the curve, but they want

confidence themselves. No one`s going to show up. And who can blame them?


They want to make sure that we`ve on the backside of this curve, which

we`re not there yet in our state at least, and we`ve got a system in place

that gives them the confidence that they and their families can come out

and participate in the economy and the society again. And it`s – we`re not

there yet, at least here.


HAYES: You know, it`s interesting, because I think there`s been a concerted

effort to produce the perception that this is a contentious and polemical

issue and polarizing issue in American life about these mitigation efforts,

but I thought the polling out of your state was interesting. 88 percent

approve of New Jersey folks approving banning gatherings. 95 percent

approval of requiring face coverings in public places. 89 percent approval

moving the primary July.


What I`m seeing when I look at the actual numbers is a lot more sort of

unity behind the broad approach to beating back the virus than maybe some

corners are trying portrayed. How do you feel about it?


MURPHY: And I feel strongly that`s the case, Chris, at least again in New

Jersey. And that`s my complete focus. There`s a small number of folks who

are protesting a lot of the steps we`ve taken. And by the way, they have a

right to protest. I wish they would do it virtually in at home. But

overwhelmingly, and by the way, across the political spectrum, folks want

to make sure that we beat this virus first, that we – that we do the

things that we have to do.


They may not like it, and God knows I completely understand that. Folks

have cabin fever. I get it. They`re looking at the weather getting better.

We understand all that but they understand, unless we keep doing what we`re

doing, we`re not going to break the back of this. And as we say, public

health creates economic health. It`s in that order and folks get that.


HAYES: I want to ask about a particular population that every state has and

has a particular risk and that`s prison populations. Obviously, nursing

homes have been the area of a lot of concern and reporting, because they

have been extremely exposed long term care facilities, veterans zones, but

prison populations also are places where it`s very hard to socially

distance. You have exposure, both employees and of inmates.


There was an article in that a sick corrections officer in your

state had to get a coronavirus test on his own. Are you satisfied there`s

sufficient testing and surveillance inside prisons, and are you doing

enough to make sure those are safe environments for both the prisoners and

the people who work in them?


MURPHY: Chris, first of all, as a general matter, as a nation, we came into

this as a testing reality at a minimum, with one if not both arms tied

behind our backs. We`ve now tested the fourth most amount of tests of any

American state, but it`s been cobbling it together with bubblegum and paper



And we`ve said consistently, it, we will break the back of this virus. In

addition to doing the right thing by humanity, we will break the back of

this virus unless we bring everybody along. Long term care, nursing homes,

veteran home – veterans homes, and corrections. So we`re in the process.

It`s gotten better.


We`re in the process, actually, of looking through a series of steps and

batches of folks that we`re actually considering letting go under the right

circumstances. We`re trying to get all the protections to our corrections

officers, the testing they need. I read that same story. I was horrified by



We`ve come a long way, but we`re not where we need to be. But that`s a

national story, not just in corrections. It`s a general matter. We`ve come

along long way, but boy, we have a long way to go as it relates to the



HAYES: All right, Governor Phil Murphy in Jersey. Thank you very much, sir.


MURPHY: Thanks for having me, Chris.


HAYES: I want to bring it now, as I said before, Michigan Democratic

Governor Gretchen Whitmer. And Governor, you know, this sort of idea of

building, I think, a narrative of everything being polarized on this

question of stay at home orders, and of course, Michigan saw some protests,

again, numerically, a fairly small sense of people.


Give me your sense of what, what is happening in your state. I know that

you`ve been the subject of critique by some Republicans in the legislature.

Do you think there`s broad support politically for continued efforts to

sort of attack the virus and bring the curve down?


GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): I know there is. And we see that the vast

majority of people in Michigan are doing the right thing. We`ve been able

to start to flatten our curve, and it`s because people are staying home.

They`re taking this seriously.


And so as you see efforts to reengage economies, we know that it`s going to

be absolutely essential that we are making decisions based on the best

science and the best practices that when certain sectors are slowly brought

back on that they have the PPE and the protocols they need to keep both

their employees safe as well as the general public who is – who they`re

hoping will come into their stores if it`s a public-facing operation.


I think for the confidence of our citizenry, we`ve got to get this right.

We have to share with people how we are proceeding and what our test levels

are, what our hospitalization rates are, what our ability to meet needs are

or if we do have COVID-19 growth in a particular part of the state.


People need to have confidence that we have a plan that we are being

methodical and data-driven about this and that we are keeping their health

at the center of all the decisions we`re making.


HAYES: Let me — yes, let me ask you the same question I ask Governor

Murphy in New Jersey, which is if you were to say, you know what, OK, you

can open your movie theaters and massage parlors and your nail salons

tomorrow. Do you think there would be any workers or customers for those

sorts of venues at this moment in where Michigan is?


WHITMER: I don`t think so. And you know what, those would be some of the

last things to come online. When we do search reengaged sectors of our

economy. As we`re doing the analysis, it`s a rigorous undertaking to make

sure that we get this right, because I think if we can all agree on

something unanimously, is that we don`t want a second wave of COVID-19 to

threaten our lives and threaten our healthcare institutions.


And so the last things that come online are going to be the ones that are

so intimately public-facing especially if there`s not the appropriate PPE

available. And I don`t know what the situation is in Georgia, but I know

that we are grabbing every PPE we have for our first responders, for our

nurses, for our doctors.


And then we will talk about how do we ensure that businesses have PPE for

their employees. But the immediate concern is those frontline people that

are doing the essential jobs that are life-sustaining, and we don`t have

enough PPE for them right now.


HAYES: I want to ask you the same question I asked Governor Murphy also

about prison populations, which again is a specific subset. There was an

article about one prisoner who passed away from COVID, a juvenile lifer

actually who was just weeks away from parole. There are a lot of people who

feel that it`s simply immoral and unjust for folks to essentially face that

kind of, you know, sentence of sickness inside the prison. Have you done

enough as a governor to keep those places safe or to release people that

don`t need to be there.


WHITMER: Well, we`re working incredibly hard to make sure that people who

are incarcerated are safe and that we are maximizing our ability to parole

everyone who is in the pipeline over the course of the next 12 months. We

are expediting. We`re working literally seven days a week with a parole

board to keep moving people out so that we ensure that they`ve got a home

to go to and that they can be saved once they return and that there are

people that can safely be returned to the general public.


And so I think that having a plan for returning citizens is absolutely

essential. We`re doing testing in our prisons, we don`t have COVID-19 in

every prison like some states do. But we do have it and we`re taking it

very seriously. We`re isolating people who have symptoms, of people who

have tested positive.


We have a number of corrections officers who we`re trying to make sure they

get the quick tests so they can stay on the front line as well as taking

care of our incarcerated Michiganders. And so this is something that is a

challenge though. We`ve got people in close quarters with a virus that is

incredibly contagious and deadly and there`s no cure, no vaccine for. But

the more we can test, the better. That`s for the general population, that

is for our incarcerated population alike.


We need the swabs and the reagents so that we can get to our double, triple

capacity which we have now but we can`t execute because we don`t have all

of these critical supplies.


HAYES: All right, Governor Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan, thank you for

making time for the program tonight.


WHITMER: Thank you.


HAYES: Next, concerning reports from a New York hospital where people are

showing up with completely at first, it appears, unrelated health issues

who turned out to have advanced cases of the virus. I`ll talk to the doctor

who witnessed it firsthand and wrote about it right after this.




HAYES: So there`s a lot that we don`t know about the Coronavirus. One thing

that we`re pretty certain about is that we were missing both Coronavirus

cases and also fatalities due to the virus, which means we still don`t

really know how widespread it is and also how deadly it is.


New York Times did an incredible macro study, the statistics where they

looked at the data for a bunch of different countries that have their own

outbreaks and they found a spike in mortality above the official death

counts in one country after another.


Take a look at Spain. The historical death average is in light blue, and

then that red line spiking up is deaths this year. Between March and April,

there were nearly 20,000 more deaths than normal. Now, about 12,400 of

those were counted as coronavirus deaths. That means there are more than

7,000 excess deaths in the country Spain alone unaccounted for.


Same in the case of England and Wales, over 6000 unaccounted deaths. And

it`s the same story each of the places the Times look at the data. But this

phenomenon is also showing up at the micro-level in this incredible account

from an emergency room doctor in New York City who accounts people heading

to the E.R. for non-Coronavirus reasons, turning out to have an advanced

form of virus. “The patient stabbed in the shoulder, when we X-rayed

because we were worried had a collapsed lung actually had COVID pneumonia.

In patients on whom we did CT scans because they were injured and falls, we

coincidentally found COVID pneumonia.”


Joining me now is the doctor who wrote that excellent piece, Dr. Richard

Levitan, who volunteered, spent 10 days in the E.R. of Bellevue Hospital at

the beginning of the month. Doctor, this piece, really I`ve read a lot of

medical accounts, and this one really, really compelled me. Just what was

your experience of the sort of finding out that patients are treating not

thinking their COVID patients are, in fact COVID patients?


RICHARD LEVITAN, EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN: I think the most remarkable aspect of

this story, Chris, is that COVID pneumonia actually does not cause

subjective respiratory problems to most patients until it is very advanced.

That there are many patients who have COVID pneumonia who don`t realize it.

Probably, I would say in the United States, thousands and thousands who

have had COVID pneumonia and don`t even realize it. And that is the way it

advances, the way it kills is with relatively few symptoms, initially, it

advances to a very serious level of low oxygen. And then when people

present, they are very seriously ill.


Oh, so I called this in that piece in The New York Times silent hypoxia,

that it progresses slowly, and patients actually don`t have a lot of

subjective shortness of breath until it gets very advanced, and

unfortunately, very serious.


HAYES: And so it was your conclusion when you`re seeing these patients who

are in they`re not initially presenting as COVID patients – and again,

this is speculative, but I`m curious what your sort of inferences here that

the population New York just has a lot more of it going around than people

realize or that people are coming in and not realizing this is the thing

driving their symptoms or whatever sort of distress they`re feeling.


LEVITAN: So I actually think the illness of COVID pneumonia sort of spans

the gamut. There are people who come in with no complaints at all, and we

just check in oxygen, it`s slightly low. You know, but they came into the

emergency department for falling down the stairs, and they have a

laceration on their head, and we end up finding their oxygen is low, and

it`s because they have COVID pneumonia.


But on the other end of the spectrum, are the people who are dying silently

at home, and all those unaccounted deaths that you mentioned. And there is

this large bunch of people obviously presenting to emergency who become

short of breath, and by the time they are symptomatic, their disease is

very advanced.


So we have a full spectrum of people with mild symptoms, who maybe never

went to the hospital for it who have gotten over it, or people who were

coincidentally find it. There`s people in the middle who are there for the

respiratory problems, but when we diagnose it, it`s already very advanced.

And then there are many, many people obviously dying at home with COVID

pneumonia who never realized that that`s what was going on.


HAYES: That point about the kind of hockey stick nature of the – of the

disease`s progression, at least in terms of its danger, I`ve heard from

other doctors treating it, I mean, that they have a patient in front of

them who seems fine and their oxygen just doesn`t make any sense. Like

what`s showing up in the readings is someone who should be flat on their

back. And there`s a mismatch between the – how they`re presenting and what

– and what reading they`re getting about their oxygen level.


LEVITAN: It is like nothing anybody has ever seen. The only comparison I

could make is these folks have blood gases in terms of their oxygen, their

carbon dioxide, their breathing, that matches what is happening

physiologically on the top of Mount Everest. These people have oxygen

levels that are not compatible with life, but the way they got there, I

believe is slowly and insidiously.


If I were to drop your oxygen from 100 percent, or let`s say 95 percent,

where most of us are, and then we brought you to 50 percent, everybody who

has that sudden drop would be unconscious or having a seizure. These people

are on their cell phones, but they are dangerously close to the limits of

what humans can tolerate. And then they deteriorate abruptly.


Unfortunately, the way we normally detect shortness of breath, the way you

normally feel short of breath is when our carbon dioxide rises, or we get

some, you know, feedback from our lungs of pain or something else. These

people don`t get that. Their carbon dioxide is very low actually. So it is

low oxygen with very low carbon dioxide. They`re breathing, they`re

compensating, and they do that silently until it gets to a very advanced

stage, and then they show up with these numbers and we look at it and we

just can`t get our head around it.


But it matches physiologically what happens at extreme altitude, you know,

in that 29,000 feet on Everest. It`s insane how low their oxygens are.


HAYES: Dr. Richard Levitan, it was a really fascinating piece and great

talking to you tonight. Thank you for your work and for your time tonight.


LEVITAN: Can I just say, Chris, that you know, the heroes in this story are

the workers in New York, the emergency docs, the nurses, the respiratory

therapists who have learned a lot about this disease. I think when we look

back on this, you know, as a people talked about the RAF about, you know,

so much was owed to so few by so many. I think that America will look back

and realize that we learned a lot from New York City, and I just was there

for 10 days, but the shout out goes to those folks.


HAYES: Thank you. I really appreciate you saying that, Doctor. Be well.


LEVITAN: Thank you.


HAYES: Coming up, the Senate reaches a bipartisan deal for the next round

of Coronavirus Relief Spending, but is it anywhere near enough to keep the

American economy going? That`s next.




HAYES:  Well, they struck a deal. The Senate passed a new bipartisan

Coronavirus relief bill today by unanimous consent. The House now expected

to take it up on Thursday. It`s a nearly $500 billion interim bill, which

is mostly centered around the program that we`ve been covering a lot, the

paycheck protection program, which ran out of money last week and now will

get some additional funding.


The bill also includes some additional stipulations that Democrats insisted

upon in negotiations. For instance, money for small businesses working with

community banks to make sure that they are not short changed and left out,

as well as money for hospitals and also $25 billion for nationwide testing.


That said, it leaves out money for a whole host of priorities, particularly

state and local governments, which are just bleeding, bleeding, bleeding

dry right now, as well as universal vote by mail for November, and a whole

lot of other stuff that is going to have to be in another piece of

legislation that everyone seems to agree will happen, but who knows?


Joining me now is someone who voted on today`s now Coronavirus relief bill,

Senator Doug Jones, Democrat from Alabama.


Senator, you do not object to unanimous consent, so I assume you`re thumbs

up on this. What grade do you give this, people call it an interim bill?


SEN. DOUG JONES, (D) ALABAMA:  Right. I give it a pretty good grade. It`s a

heck of a lot better than what Senator McConnell put on the floor about 10,

12 days ago was just throwing money into the PPP program. We`ve got a lot

more. We`ve got an extra $120 billion for that program now. We have got

money for hospitals and we got money for testing.


You`re absolutely right. It is not everything that I would like to see,

particularly for our mayors out there that are suffering so bad. But

overall, I think it`s a good bill.


Remember, all of this is a work in progress, Chris. It`s going to be a work

in progress, Chris. It is – it`s going to be a work in progress for some

time, so this was a good way to get more money in there and get things

continuing to go.


 HAYES:  I want to ask about – follow up about mayors and local

governments. But first just on PPP, and maybe – this may be a crazy idea,

but unemployment insurance is in the bill beefed up unemployment insurance.

It is not appropriated with a hard limit, basically if you qualify for it

you`re going to get it and the cost is going to be what the cost is.


I don`t understand why Democrats and Republicans, all you guys up there who

think it`s a good program don`t just fund PPP this way, because my

understanding of the need for a program is, they`re going to run out of

money in a week. We`re going to be back to where we were a week from now.


JONES:  Well, as a matter of fact, Chris, I`ve got a program that we rolled

out just last week to do just that, that I hope will get in the next

package, it`s called the paycheck security program. And it will do just

that, it will fund things, a business of any size, nonprofits. It will go

through either Treasury or maybe even the IRS, and it would be a grant

program, you could use payroll processors. I think your and I talked about

that about a month ago as a possibility. And it would go straight to fund

payroll up to $90,000, and it would be a six-month program.


It would give people the cushion. It would give businesses the cushion

needed, and the employees the cushion that they`re needed to open those

businesses back up in a smart, healthful way.


There`s a lot of guard rails on it to protect it, but I think it`s a great

program and I`m really hoping that folks on both sides of the aisle can

take a good, strong look at it as we go forward.


HAYES:  Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, which of course borders

Georgia, expressed some trepidation about Governor Kemp`s decision in

Georgia to reopen places like nail salons and massage parlors. Do you have

concerns in Alabama?


JONES:  Oh, absolutely. You know, about Georgia I do. I mean, look, our

governor today had a press conference and she could have done the same

thing, but she didn`t. She stood strong. She said she was going to follow

the advice of the health care professionals. She was going to look at

opening at some point down the line when we`re sure that our case number is

declining. She defied what they did in Florida and Georgia.


You know, Chris, I had to take my mom to the doctor yesterday. And the

first questions they asked her, have you had a fever, have you had

respiratory problems, have you traveled internationally. And I think people

from Alabama, they are going to have to asking if we traveled to Georgia or

Florida lately, because what they`re doing in those two states I think is

just crazy.


HAYES:  Final question about the mayors and localities. I mean, you`ve got

a state and cities in that state that are going to be essentially bankrupt.

I mean, you know, not in a technical sense, but are going to have deficits

this year, operating deficits that will be enormous. They will be even

bigger next year. Are you confident that Mitch McConnell and Republicans

are going to be there to help those states and localities out, or do you

worry that when it comes time to do that, that the Republican Party is

going to say, oh no, now we`re worried about the deficit?


JONES:  Absolutely. I think we`re going to be worried about something. I

mean, they haven`t been there yet. Democrats have been pushing to help

mayors across this country from the very beginning, and there`s been an

incredible amount of push-back


We were lucky to get $150 billion for states and local governments the last

time, but it was only supposed to be for extraordinary COVID related

expenses. Democrats have been pushing to help our mayors who are on the

front lines, providing those essential services without the revenue that

everybody knows that they should be getting, but because of the stay at

home orders they`re not.


We`re going to continue to push for that. But I don`t really have that

confidence, but I hope that they will. I`m afraid that they`re going to

hang that over the cities and the mayors to, in some twisted way, to make

them open the economy back up. That would be unfortunate.


HAYES:  Senator Doug Jones, thank you so much for making time tonight, sir.


JONES:  My pleasure, Chris. Any time.


HAYES:  Right now I want to bring in Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin, Democrat

from Michigan, who is slated to vote on the bill with the rest of the House

on Thursday. Your first initial response, are you enthusiastic? Are you a

reluctant thumbs up, or you a thumbs down?


REP. ELISSA SLOTKIN, (D) MARYLAND:  Well, listen, I`m going to be a thumbs

up, but, you know, it`s a compromise bill. It`s not perfect. But that`s the

name of the game right now. You negotiate, you try to get things in, in

particularly making sure that our small businesses get access to the PPP

loans was a big deal, making sure our hospitals have money, that we have

money for testing. But that`s the nature of negotiation, you try and you`re

not going to love everything, and I don`t.


And I hope that we move on to the next conversation, the one you were just

having on what we`re going to do for our cities and towns.


I don`t think people are really connecting, that if we don`t help those

cities and towns make up for lost revenue, we`re going to have a hard time

paying for our police officers, and our firefighters and our first

responders. This is kind of core base budget.


So, I think – it`s important that we get on to that next piece. I wanted

it in this bill. It wasn`t. But I hope that the administration lives up to

their commitments and they do it in the next one.


HAYES:  One thing I have sort of tracked is – and I`ve spoken to you a

number of times, as well, lots of lawmakers on this program is, is are

folks in Washington – not in Washington any more, everyone is at home –

are they tracking the size of what we`re dealing here appropriately? And I

think it took a while to catch up, particularly when you look at the size

of some of those first bills. Where do you stand right now on that? Like,

this – the numbers are great depression level. This could reverberate for

years and years and be a cataclysm that`s generational or it could be

staunched with good policy. Do you think the will is there for that latter



SLOTKIN:  I do. I do, because I think people are really trying to absorb

now what we`re going to need. It is different. I mean, I always think back

the first emergency COVID-19 package that came to the congress way back in

sort of mid or early March was for $2.9 billion, that`s what the

administration thought they needed to handle COVID-19. And then we bounced

it up to $8.3 billion, and we thought that was a big bump-up. And now,

obviously, we`re talking about unbelievable amounts of money.


I do think people are understanding the magnitude of it. But right now

we`re doing survival bills, right, just to get people through and bridge

them through the transition. We`re going to have to have a whole other

conversation about stimulus. And we`re not talking about stimulus yet, and

that`s a whole other ball of wax.


HAYES:  Yeah. I see what you`re saying. So just to get through, and then

the idea of like the fact that there`s going to be a kick-start that`s

needed to, as we quote, unquote, reopen, if that happens or what that looks

like, which is going to be at diminished capacity, which I hope people

understand who are making policy.


SLOTKIN:  Yeah. I mean, listen, we are suffering as an organization,

because we are not together, right? Congress is a pretty traditional place,

where a lot of smart ideas and things happen by actually people being in

the room, by holding hearings, by holding briefings, and a lot of that is,

you know, happening either remotely or by telephone call. It`s just not the

same thing. And we`re still struggling through that.


And so, you know, I think that we`re helping with these survival bills,

yes. Certainly the PPP program was wildly popular and is going to be a

lifeline for our small businesses. Do I think it`s the end of the

conversation and that we have it all right? Of course not.


HAYES:  Do you have concerns about some of the abuses that have been

pointed out for the PPP program, just in terms of larger firms getting it,

publicly traded firms got about $300 million. One headline I saw, which is

sort of in a full genre is that Scott Pruitt, who lobbies for a company, a

coal company, that they managed to get a $10 million business loan, despite

having more than 500 employees.


Is there sufficient oversight right now, sufficient scrutiny to your mind,

about who is getting this money and who is not?


SLOTKIN:  Yeah, well, we worked hard in the last bill to make sure we had

some inspectors general, some oversight. The president is pushing back on

that. But this is exactly why we negotiated a different package this time.

There was a real debate, whether we just do a straight renewal of the PPP

program, or whether we make a carve-out for our smallest businesses. And we

got $60 billion that are carved out for small and medium-sized businesses.


That was an important piece for us, because we`re picking up the phone at

home and hearing from our smallest businesses saying I can`t get in the

door with a bank. I can`t get in there. I`m not competing with my biggest

businesses. We`ve helped, at least in the interim, to open up the aperture

of the program.


HAYES:  Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin of Michigan, thank you, as always, for

making some time for us.


SLOTKIN:  Thank you.


HAYES:  Coming up, the deadly cost of doing nothing to stop the spread.

Amazing new reporting on how a pork processing plant in South Dakota became

the center of one of the largest known Coronavirus clusters in the nation.

A new investigation on how that virus spread so quickly, ahead.




HAYES:  It has now been two weeks since the Wisconsin Republican Party,

along with the help of the State Supreme Court forced the citizens of the

state to go out and vote in the middle of a global pandemic.


Now, as you might expect we are beginning to see Coronavirus infections

that appear to be directly tied to that in-person voting. Talking Points

Memo reports at least 19 people who voted in person or worked at a polling

site that day have tested positive for Coronavirus. One state senator told

reporters today, quote, “I fear this is just the beginning.”


But perhaps it is not surprising that in the wake of that voting debacle, a

new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that two-thirds of Americans

currently support vote by mail for the national election in November, and

58 percent want the election rules changed permanently.


There`s widespread bipartisan support for mail-in voting. And I should tell

you it appears that mail-in voting was used more by Democrats in the latest

Wisconsin election, but – this cannot be stressed enough – there has not

been historically through the record any clear partisan advantage to vote

by mail in general. There`s no reason to think there`s a partisan advantage

now. The whole point is to allow all people to participate in democracy

without risking their health.


That should be a no-brainer. But as we are seeing unfold day after day, the

health of Americans is not always the priority. That story is next.




HAYES:  A second worker from a Smithfield meat processing plant in South

Dakota has died of the Coronavirus. Craig Franken, 61, died on Sunday from

COVID-19 complications. A 40 year veteran of the plant, Franken according

to his he was planning to retire in the next couple of years.


The outbreak at this Sioux Falls plant is among of the worst clusters of

Coronavirus in the country, and workers are beginning to speak out.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I started getting really super concerned when a person

on my line was diagnosed with COVID-19. There`s people standing in line

outside. There`s people inside in the locker room, people walking down the

hallway and there`s no way of being six feet apart.


A lot of us were getting scared knowing that if we didn`t show up for work

we might not have a job.


A lot of people were worried about their family members, bringing it home

and spreading it to them.




HAYES:  As of today, there are at least 725 – 725 – confirmed cases among

plant employees, according to the Argus Leader (ph). Smithfield told All In

tonight, quote, “we are doing everything in our power to help protect our

team members from the COVID-19 in the workplace.”


Here to talk more about how it got this bad and what happens now, Albert

Samaha, investigative reporter at BuzzFeed who wrote about the Smithfield

plant and how it turned a Coronavirus hot spot.


And Albert, first, I mean, just tell us about what this plant is, how many

people work there, what the conditions are like even before the virus

started spreading?



processing plant, employees 3,700 employees, provides around 5 percent of

the nation`s pork supply. So, this is one of the biggest pork-producing

companies in the world.


HAYES:  And how closely – how closely – how close are people to

themselves in the normal work of that plant?


SAMAHA:  So, a lot of folks work on a conveyor belt production line where

they`re chopping meat, cleaning meat, passing meat down. They`re working

shoulder to shoulder, literally rubbing elbows as they`re working in

conditions where they`re passing meat to each other as well.


On other floors there are people with forklifts that go up and down the

floors. At lunchtime they all kind of gather at the cafeteria together. You

can have 100, 200, sometimes as many as 300 people in the cafeteria.


So, there`s a bunch of different jobs. And the majority of them involve

people working literally shoulder to shoulder.


HAYES:  So, when you think about that, you think, you know, when you

conceive of places in the beginning when we first starting finding about

this virus – cruise ships, long-term care facilities, prisons, meat

processing plants seems natural to imagine you could get an outbreak.


Did Smithfield take precautions early on to sort of be proactive about the

virus? And how did they find out it was spreading so quickly?


SAMAHA:  The extent of their precautions before they found out the first

confirmed case was putting up signs in multiple languages, sort of giving

hand washing instructions. Other than that, there really wasn`t much, if



They found out in late March, last week of March, March 24 was when some of

our sources first heard from managers that there had been a confirmed case.

And for the next week that followed,there was no policies implemented for

those seven, eight days. And then on April 6 is when they closed the 8

floor, which is the first time that they closed any department, and that

was about a week afterwards.


They left everything else open, continued operations as normal, and then

the following week was when they began to put in the Plexiglas dividers,

the cardboard dividers, and giving out masks. The problem as we know how

this virus spreads now was by the time you sort of see a small outbreak,

it`s already too late and there`s many more people infected than you can

even know.


So, by the time the first week came when they took the first steps, by the

time the second week came, they were already having a fast outbreak that

they really couldn`t catch up to.


HAYES:  I mean, this is a story we have from Wuhan, from Lombardi to New

York, I mean, there are just – it just keeps repeating itself. Like if you

wait a week after you get your first confirmed case, you are going to have

a massive outbreak. And now 735 people, I think there have been two



The governor has been very protective of Smithfield. And she said this

thing on April 13 sort of defending the companies in some ways saying she

thought the transmission wasn`t happening in the plant. Take a listen to

what she said.




GOV KRISTI NOEM, (R) SOUTH DAKOTA:  We believe that 99 percent of what`s

going on today wasn`t happening inside the facility, it was more at home

where these employees were going home and spreading some of the virus,

because a lot of these folks that work at this plant live in the same

community, the same building, sometimes in the same apartments.


HAYES:  I mean, that seems that a lot of these folks do, my understanding,

from your reporting and others, is they do live close to each other. But it

just seems impossible for anyone to know what the source of transmission is

and they are all working in the same facility.


SAMAHA:  Yeah, I think one of the things I was telling about what the

governor and the company has said about this how this spread is that

they`ve cited no other factors other than the fact that a lot of their

employees happen to live close together.


When I spoke – when I initially spoke with representatives from the

company, they didn`t give me any answer over why it might have spread so

quickly except initially sending me that very link to the interview you

just played. So, they`re also sort of using the governor`s words to defend

their actions.


And I think the thing that really caught my eye – as we reported in our

story is that even though the governor has not – South Dakota is only five

states that haven`t had any stay-at-home orders, and even though the

policies themselves are delayed, especially compared to now other companies

have handled this outbreak, despite those two factors, the only factor that

both the governor and the company have cited is the fact that a lot of

their workers are immigrants who live close together.


HAYES:  Yeah. Albert Samaha who along with Katie Baker (ph) did some

phenomenal reporting about this plant. It`s one of several that have

really, really bad outbreaks right now. We want to keep on this story.

Thank you very much.


SAMAHA:  Thank you.


HAYES:  That is ALL IN for this evening. “THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” starts

right now. Good evening, Rachel.







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