MIT study TRANSCRIPT: 5/21/20, All In w/ Chris Hayes
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: On April 2nd at age 46. Each of them will be missed.
Thanks so much for being with us. “ALL IN” with Chris Hayes is up next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight, on ALL IN, the human cost of closing too
late and opening too soon. What we now know about how the total lack of
coordinated federal response led us to this uniquely American failure.
Then, nearly 40 million are unemployed. So why are Donald Trump and Mitch
McConnell saying no more relief. Plus, tracking the virus how the mayor of
one city in New Jersey implemented one of the best contact tracing systems
And the science behind super spreaders, new research on how loud talkers in
large groups can be a recipe for outbreaks. When ALL IN starts right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. We`re used to thinking
of the United States is the greatest country on earth, at least we`re used
to being told that. But we`ve been dealt a lot of blows, particularly in
the last 20 years. The attacks on September 11th which the U.S chose to
respond to by launching two wars. And after nearly two decades in
Afghanistan, the longest war in the history Republic, we`ve been unable to
win America`s longest war.
Of course, there`s also the Iraq debacle and the financial crisis, a once
in 70-year event. And of course, there`s hurricanes Katrina and Maria. And
all these experiences have had the effect I think of diminishing our
expectations of what we expect from our government. How good do we think
our government should be? What do we deserve?
And now we have the Coronavirus pandemic. And with that we have gotten
another terrible response from our government at a time of great cleaning
need. It`s really bad, and Americans know it. A new Pew poll shows
Americans recognize that countries like South Korea and Germany have just
done a better job than we have.
For example, in Germany, the government, get this, sends medics outfitted
in protective gear to check on patients who are at home five or six days
into being sick with the coronavirus. Can you even imagine something like
that here? Can you even imagine expecting or demanding something like that
Without our know-how and our wealth and our dynamism, we should be the best
country in suppressing the virus, but we are alas an international basket
case. We have less than five percent of the world`s population, nearly 30
percent of the Coronavirus fatalities. We`re getting lapped by countries
like Tunisia and Cambodia that have per capita GDPs that are a fraction of
Now, there`s a lot we do not know about this virus, about why a place gets
an outbreak and one place doesn`t. We should be clear about that. One thing
that is clear is that policy does matter. The President failed to take the
virus seriously. He still doesn`t quite get it at all really. But state and
local leaders fail too.
According to new estimates from Columbia University, “If the country had
begun locking down cities and limiting social contract on March 1st, two
weeks earlier than when most people started staying home, the vast majority
of the nation`s deaths, about 83 percent would have been avoided.”
83 percent. So far, we have lost over 95,000 people. Saving 83 percent,
again, an estimate, a model, you don`t know. But saving 83 percent is tens
of thousands of Americans who would still be with us right now. Think about
all the loss, all the needless grief and the needless suffering that could
have been avoided.
The day before March 1st, when the study said we should have closed, the
President responded to the first confirmed coronavirus death the U.S.
saying there was no reason to panic. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said
the general risk remains low in New York. Two weeks later, right before we
closed, two weeks later, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was still
telling people to go to the neighborhood bars. Get in there. Get one last
Greece, a country that has – had a rough go of it, dragged down for the
past decade by economic depression and weakened changing political
leadership. They have learned our fate by doing the smart thing. Grace
closed schools on March 10th when it had fewer than 100 confirmed cases. It
shuttered cafes, restaurants, museums, and shopping centers on the 13th
after the first death. And it imposed a national lockdown on the 23rd when
the death toll stood at 17.
But in the U.S., we had a failure by the federal government, by the
president, whose job primarily, principally is to look out for these kinds
of risks, to keep us safe, but also by state and local leaders who could
have moved faster and could have done more. And now, it looks like the
federal and state and local leaders are making the same mistakes they did
in March on the other side of the curve.
A new study from MIT found “it is likely that individual`s mobility, their
adherence to social distancing are impacted by the policies of neighboring
and distant regions where their social network connections reside not only
by local mandates.”
So when state and local leaders decide to open up too early against CDC
guidelines, the point is that can have a big impact far beyond the borders
of those states. We do not know what is going to happen. There`s a lot of
unknowns right now. We are in a strange situation.
Our exceptions in this country are so low – our expectations in this
country are so low nowadays that we`re really willing to cross our fingers
and hope for the best, maybe it`ll work out, instead of demanding the
highest level of performance for our government.
Think about this. This is what we have been reduced you as Americans. Not
we have the best response, not we`ve got this, not we have trained
thousands of people to contact trace, and we have the latest technology and
the latest methodology, and we are spending billions, and we`re going to
fan out across this great land and make sure that every last one of our
fellow citizens are as safe as possible.
And yes, that includes nursing homes. And yes, that includes prisons. And
yes, that includes meatpacking facilities. No, that`s not what we`re
saying, no. The American solution right now is to give it a whirl and see
Here with me now, Sinan Aral, Director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital
Economy. One of the authors of the new study out today about the cost of
the uncoordinated responses to coronavirus. And I want, Sinan, if you can
just sort of take us through the idea here as represented in this influence
pinwheel, the idea that people`s behavior is really the key thing here,
right. Voting with your feet as much as policy, but that other states
policy impact people across their borders because of social networks.
SINAN ARAL, DIRECTOR, MIT INITIATIVE ON THE DIGITAL ECONOMY: So that`s
exactly right. The idea of the paper, Chris, is quite simple. One state or
counties policies significantly affect mobility in other states and
counties and not just in geographically proximate states, but often at
great distances through better behavioral influence over social media. But
not just social media, we call people from state to state, we stay
connected. And now that we`re all sheltered in, we`re online a lot more
we`re talking how we talk about the virus and the policies that a certain
state is implementing, is affecting people all over the country.
HAYES: It`s so funny because when I read this study, I had a glimpse of
personal recognition of being on Instagram or something and seeing like a
friend who has a barbecue. I mean, like, interesting. Having a barbecue.
Having a barbecue. Like – it definitely like puts the thought in your head
of like, what`s the realm of the – what`s the realm of the possible
ARAL: Well, it`s funny because as we were writing this study, and we worked
really hard around the clock to get it out because we think it`s so
important, my mind went to Kara Swisher who wrote an article in The New
York Times about how she had to convince her mother in Florida. She had to
call her from New York to keep her inside, given what she was hearing from
the governor of Florida, but also from the news outlets. And so that`s a
perfect example of influence at a distance.
And the main message of this paper is that we`re all in it together. This
is an interdependent phenomenon and we need to approach it as an
HAYES: What – so the key point here is like – that this sort of
experiment federalism that we`re doing right now, which we`ve done both on
the front end and are now doing on sort of the back end of reopening, which
is you states figure it out. There are actual uniform guidelines from the
CDC, but basically, the President is telling people ignore them.
Your point is that like it`s not really going to work in so far as – you
can`t contain behavior. You certainly can`t contain actual people. You
can`t even contain the behavioral influence from one state to the other,
which is why you actually need some coordinated federal response.
ARAL: Well, in essence, what we try to say is that governments across
regions need to coordinate with each other with or without national
guidance. So, we provide – and we don`t believe that a one size fits all
policy is necessarily correct. Different regions may need different
policies, but they need to be coordinated with one another.
So let me give you some examples. In the paper, we provide governors maps,
those pinwheels that you described, to coordinate in the absence of
national guidance. And these maps show each state, we have one for each of
50 states, they show each state which other states are affecting them the
most. And there are some things that are intuitive and some things that are
So for instance, Georgia is mostly influenced by neighboring states through
travel. And when Georgia reopened, University of Maryland estimated that
about 500,000 people came into Georgia from neighboring states to patronize
bars, restaurants, barbershops that were closed in their own states, from
North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama. It was about a 13 percent increase
in travel into the state and it was about 62,000 new visitors from out of
state every day when Georgia first opened.
And so, that is an example of geographic spillovers, but there are also
these social spillovers at a distance. So when you look at the map of
Florida, what you notice is that the state that influences Florida the most
is New York, and that is maybe partly during – because of travel at the
beginning of the pandemic, but also significantly because of social
influence over social media, Zoom, phone calls and so on.
And what we are recommending is that states use these maps as a guideline
for which other state, which governor should we call to stay abreast of
policy, to coordinate policy, to have weekly conversations about how a
policy in one state is changing, how it may affect outcomes in other
states, and how those actions of policymakers can be coordinated.
HAYES: And this just – final question here. I mean, you talk about sort
of, you know, across the border mobility, right? So, oh, I can go to a bar,
a 20-minute drive away, it`s across the state line, or I can go get a
haircut or I can go to a mall. Right now, air travel is extremely low in
this country. You know, coming up a little bit from where it was at the
But this isn`t even talking about – I mean, the universe in which we start
to see air travel get back up to normal, we already know that people from
New York seated outbreaks a lot of places. I mean, once we have air travel
going back up, then you`ve got a situation where, you know, now we get
inter-regional mobility. Everything is national at that point.
Like, right now we`ve got a weird situation where because of so little air
travel, it all is pretty regional in terms of the actual physical
transmission. But that`s not going to last that long if air travel goes
ARAL: That`s right. Travel spillovers will increase once air travel,
resumes to increasing rates and maybe even normal rates. Right now,
everyone is sheltered in so everyone is online. The largest influences are
social at the present moment and the data that we analyzed.
There is a silver lining though. When we analyze the model based on our
data, we found that states had to compensate for each other, but that they
also benefit from spillovers. What I mean is that a state that has a
certain immobility target, if their pure states are loosening up, and that
influences the citizens of that state to move around more, then that state
will have to impose more costly and more restrictive measures to meet their
But if the states coordinate, it actually – the spillovers actually help
them achieve their targets more effectively because it gives them free
treatments in a sense. Because the state`s neighboring are helping the
focal state achieve their mobility targets by being responsible themselves.
So the moral of the story is, if we are uncoordinated, not one size fits
all, but coordinated. If we`re uncoordinated, it dramatically increased the
cost and the risk. If we`re coordinated, we can actually harness the
spillovers to help us defeat the pandemic.
HAYES: All right, fascinating study. I learned a lot from it. It helped me
think through all this. Sinan Aral, thank you so much for being here.
ARAL: Thank you for having me.
HAYES: Oregon was among the earliest states to issue a stay at home border
starting on March 23rd. And that state`s outbreak was much less severe than
many other places. Now, the state is reopening. Last Friday, they started a
phased reopening of businesses across the state including gyms, bars, and
restaurants. The governor of Oregon, Democrat Kate Brown joins me now.
Let`s start, Governor on this point – I mean this study. I know that you
are coordinating. Tell me about how you are thinking about this in concert
with other states that are around you like Washington, California,
GOV. KATE BROWN (D-OR): That`s a really great question. I reached out to my
colleagues, Governor Newsome in California, Governor Inslee in Washington,
because we share borders and we know that this virus knows no boundary. And
it made sense, common sense to coordinate and be in alignment in our
So we are in coordination in terms of our prerequisites, in terms of our
phasing framework, and in terms of our 21-day reopening period. But
obviously, Oregonians sometimes work in Washington and live in Oregon, and
we`ve got folks traveling back and forth across California. It made sense
that we coordinate geographically and also culturally and economically.
HAYES: So one of the things that`s interesting – you know, again, I think
the conversation often gets locked in this kind of binary of like, should
we stay shut down, should we just throw the doors open? Obviously, states
are thinking about this. CDC has issued guidelines. I was – I was reading
this piece about gyms in your state, the Oregonian.
So this is I think a good example of like, yes-but. So gyms are getting the
green light to reopen. But there`s a – there`s a bunch of protocols that
your state has put in place. Tell me – tell me how you thought through
BROWN: Absolutely. And I don`t know what your recreational opportunities
are now. But certainly, it the gym opportunities in Oregon in the counties
that are reopening look very, very different than pre-COVID-19. So we
required our counties go through an application process to reopen. It was
intense. They were stressed scrutinized. And we wanted to make sure that
they have the appropriate public health protocols in place to contain an
outbreak should it happen.
And then obviously, there was protocols in place for gyms that were
reopening. Folks have to wear face coverings. We want to make sure that
there`s physical distancing, limit the number of people and facilities and
of course, very thorough sanitation protocol.
We want to make sure – and my top priority is to keep Oregonians safe and
healthy. And we`re using science and data as our guide. And I`ve been very
fortunate to have a Medical Advisory Panel, helping me, providing me with
information to inform my decision making.
HAYES: One thing that`s sort of interesting from an intellectual
perspective, as we`re – as we all are going through this and it`s
happening around the world, right, countries that had bad outbreaks
sheltered in place. Trying to figure out how to get back, you know, fits
and starts. France open schools and then they had to close them. Places
will open up and then suddenly we have an outbreak. South Korea has had to
deal with that.
This from Denmark was interesting because it can go in both directions,
right? It can be better than one anticipates. That`s one way. Denmark has
been reopening. And basically, their CDC issued a report saying we open the
economy and people are not getting sick. And we`re not even sure why. I
mean, there`s still a lot to learn about what lever to pull and what the
BROWN: That`s exactly right. There`s no playbook. There is no guidelines
here for a global pandemic. And so that`s for me why science and data are
driving my decision making. As the virus came to Oregon, I made the tough
and difficult decisions to shutter our economy to protect the health and
safety of Oregonians.
And Oregonians frankly made tremendous sacrifices to protect themselves,
their families, and their neighbors. And as a result, as you know, we have
seen, relatively speaking, low infection rates. And we know that the
actions that we took here in Oregon reduce the number of viruses in
We`ve seen 70,000 less cases and 1,500 hospitalizations. So we know that
these stay at home measures have worked. We know that physical distancing
works, and we know that face covering works. And we are all in this
together. There`s a social contract here, right? Every action that each one
of us takes, impacts our neighbors, our community members, and of course
our fellow Americans.
HAYES: Last question for you, governor. In a state that is a stalwart vote
by mail state, where voting by mail has happened for decades, if I`m not
mistaken, which is widely popular along – across the political spectrum is
my understanding. And I think the polling data bears that out.
The President has chosen to sort of attack vote by mail viciously, even
threatened to withhold federal funds. I wonder if you have a message to the
rest of the country that maybe is new to vote by mail or is thinking about
it from what your experience in your state has been like.
BROWN: Look, we just finished our presidential primary on Tuesday. We had
historic turnout, using vote at home or vote by mail. And the message is
this. Americans can vote at home during this global pandemic. They can do
it safely. It is absolutely secure. It is very cost-effective. And of
course, it`s not hackable.
And the results of a vote by mail or voted home election can`t replicated.
And that is so important in this day in age. But I think it`s unfortunate
that Republicans are willing to put the health and safety of Americans at
risk. In order to win elections. I find that absolutely unacceptable.
Americans deserve to be able to cast their ballot in a way that protects
their health and their lives. And vote at home is the solution.
HAYES: Governor Kate brown of the State of Oregon, thank you so much for
making time with me tonight.
BROWN: Thank you. Be safe out there, Chris.
HAYES: You bet. Coming up, there are nearly 40 million Americans now out of
work. And yet Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell seems to think it`s
about time to cut their benefits. That story next.
HAYES: Nearly 40 million Americans are now unemployed, the economy is
devastated, still barely clawing back even amidst all the reopening hype.
In a few weeks, a number of measures to protect workers and Americans are
going to start to run out. The small businesses, remember those that got
loans from that Payroll Protection Program which we`ve covered a bunch on
this show, they`re going to have to rehire their workers by a certain
deadline or the loan they got from the government is not going to be
Also, the $600 a week enhanced unemployment benefit expires at the end of
July. And there`s a pretty clear divide shaved up. Democrats in the House
and the Senate say, let`s do more. We`re not done here. I mean, the House
passed the $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill back in March, which
expanded unemployment benefits. Then last week, they passed another $3
trillion relief bill.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump basically said
now, you`re cut off. That`s it. Earlier today, the President went to
Michigan where he toured a Ford Motor Company plant. During the public part
of the tour, he refused to wear a mask. He touted reopening and he pushed
the state`s governor to reopen sooner, completely ignoring the enormous gap
between the hype about reopening and just the depth of the economic problem
Joining me now is Congressman Dan Kildee, Democrat in Michigan. He recently
introduced bipartisan legislation to provide $50 billion in funding to
small businesses that struggled to compete against larger ones for federal
emergency aid. And I want to talk about that legislation in a moment, but
first assess this gap.
It seems to me that there`s a lot of talk about reopening and there is a
hope in some quarters and even a projection of some Wall Street analysts, I
think some people in the White House, who basically think like, this is
going to be fast. I keep hearing V shape. This is from the Washington Post.
President Trump`s senior advisors now predict swift economic recovery
despite warnings that major problems could persist. What does it look like
in your district? What`s your assessment of what we`re looking at?
REP. DAN KILDEE (D-MI): Well, it`s difficult. And you know, Chris, you`ve
been to Flint. You know that the situation here was already difficult. When
the economy grows, it doesn`t always grow for places like Flint and
Saginaw. And so, what we`re dealing with is on top of all of that. 1We
don`t get to scare the virus away or talk the virus away. The president
doesn`t get to tweet the virus away. It has its own course, and we have to
deal with it.
And that means we have to close the economy down, provide the support that
we need, and match the resources with the course of the disease. We can`t
wish it away. And the President can`t decide that he`s out of patience and
he`s done with this, and so OK, we`re just going to go back to normal.
So what we see right now is a need for Congress, for the government, to
continue to act to stick with the plan that was a bipartisan, whether it`s
the Paycheck Protection Program, or my, you know, Main Street Relief
Program, or my legislation to extend unemployment.
Those facts are on the ground in Michigan in other places, and we have to
respond to them. We can`t wish this virus away. As much as we would like
to, it`s here until we can defeat it.
HAYES: So there`s a really interesting dynamic that`s taking shape, I would
say, in the last three or four days I`ve been sort of paying very close
attention. So the House passed this $3 trillion relief package called the
Heroes Bill and it had a lot of money for state and municipal governments
which are going to be absolutely hammered.
It had some money for more testing, for indigenous communities as well, a
number of things, extending unemployment. The Senate – originally, Mitch
McConnell said, nope, we`re done here. The White House appeared to go along
with him, but that has changed in the last few days. I saw Cory Gardner, a
Republican governor of Colorado saying we need to be doing more, although
Mitch kind of shut them down pretty quickly.
But my sense is that they`re sort of moving out of that position. Is that
your sense of where the politics are moving right now that Republicans
recognizing the Senate, they can`t just walk away from this and tell
everyone they`re on their own?
KILDEE: I think that is the case. I mean, the bill that we passed, the
Heroes Act, which supplied a lot of support to state and local government
and the other extension of unemployment, the pressure is not going to come
from House Democrats or from Speaker Pelosi, on Mitch McConnell, and the
President to finally get it right. It`s going to come from the American
people. They are hurting the states are losing revenue. They`re going to
have to cut essential public services and only the federal government can
So it`s really – I think the reason that we passed our bill wasn`t so much
to put pressure on them, but to just say to the American people, this is
what the House is willing to do. This is what we think we should do in
order to deal with this pandemic. The pressure is going to come from
citizens, from governors, from state legislatures, Democrats and
Republicans who know that Congress and the federal government need to act.
The Senate is going to have its hand forced by public sentiment.
HAYES: Final question. There`s been a lot of talk about paycheck protection
– Payroll Protection Program, how it`s been administered, who`s gotten
money and who hasn`t. Right now, it`s undersubscribed actually somewhat
remarkably, which I want to kind of come back to in future coverage. But
you have this relief for mainstream act which is intended to plug what you
see as a whole in this. Explain that to me.
KILDEE: Yes. What we`re seeing even with the Paycheck Protection Program in
its two iterations, there are still really small Main Street businesses
that are locked out of the program, don`t have the banking relationship.
And to be clear, one of the reasons that the second traunch of funding is
going slowly is because they intentionally have slowed down the processing
of those. But there are still those small business – barbershops,beauty
shops, donut shops, the small Main Street community institution that have
to get direct financial support. We don`t think it all has to go through a
So Senator Booker and I have been working on this legislation. We think it
is one of the ways to plug the holes that we see in the economy. Those
small businesses could fail and we can`t afford to lose them.
HAYES: All right. That sounds like a smart policy approach. We`ll see where
that goes, particularly in this next round of legislation which I`m now
convinced there will be. It will be interesting to see what it is.
Congressman Dan Kildee of Flint, Michigan, thank you for making some time
tonight. Thank you, Chris.
HAYES: Coming up, as the whole country starts to push to begin contact
tracing, there is one city in New Jersey that seems to have it pretty well
figured out. And I`m talk to the mayor about what they have learned there
HAYES: Contact tracing is one of the oldest, most tried and true methods in
public health and epidemiology. It`s a like detective work, right, if you
test positive for, say, Coronavirus and a bunch of people investigate, try
to find out everyone you`ve been in contact with and then get in contact
with them and try to get them tested and try to stop the chain of
And while other countries like South Korea have used it very effectively to
suppress the virus, the Centers for Disease Control have left it up to
state and local governments to implement their own programs.
One place that is doing that with a degree of success is Paterson, New
Jersey. It was featured in the New York Times today, it`s a low income
city, it`s got around with 150,000 people. It`s the second most densely
populated place in the country, behind New York City.
And they started doing this at the beginning of the pandemic, quote, “when
the first cases began to appear in Paterson in mid-March, the board of
health added two dozen employees who had been trained in communicable
disease investigation last year to join their regular team of two disease
Here to talk to talk about what that city is doing is the mayor of
Paterson, New Jersey. He tested positive for Coronavirus in the beginning
of April. He has since recovered. And that is great news. And I`m so glad
you`re feeling better, mayor.
Can you tell us a little bit about what you did and what your board of
health did as the disease started and you thought about implementing some
type of contact tracing program in Paterson?
MAYOR ANDRE SAYEGH (D-NJ), PATERSON: Thanks, Chris. It`s an honor to be on.
And I also want to start off by saying you have a fan club here in
Paterson, led by business administration Kathleen Long (ph) and her husband
Kevin (ph). They watch you religiously.
HAYES: That`s awesome.
SAYEGH: Second, I just want to give credit to my public health officer,
because last year he had the foresight to approach me and say mayor, we got
to apply for the grant to build capacity within our communicable disease
investigation team. And at first I didn`t really capture the importance,
but he convinced me, we applied for the grant, we received it and we built
what is now called the strike team from two to about 25, and as it stands
now we`re at 60, so it`s scalable depending upon the number of confirmed
cases we have.
We don`t want to over burden this strike team. And these are mothers that
are working, working individuals that are working around the clock to make
sure that we slow the spread. And so I`m proud that we apply for that
seminal grant so that we could have the band width within our strike team.
HAYES: So, has – I mean, walk me through, has it worked I guess is my
question, because one thing that happened early on in a lot of places even
places with very, very developed resource rich public health departments
like New York City, the number of cases just overwhelmed contact tracing at
a certain point, right, like the spike got so big you couldn`t track it.
That`s why we had to shelter in place.
What is your experience in Paterson been like through the sort of
trajectory of the curve?
SAYEGH: We`ve been hit disproportionately. You said it earlier, we`re the
second most densely populated place in the country. New York City is first.
So, we have 150,000 residents shoe-horned into about eight square miles.
And I can tell you, they are say so meticulous. This is a painstaking
process. So, they stayed on top of these cases. You even have the public
health officer involved in the tracing.
And I could speak from experience, because you stated earlier, I tested
positive for COVID early in April, and I was traced and immediately
isolated. And then he asked for a list of close contacts and as a result,
he quarantined all those contacts. And as a result, he quarantined all of
HAYES: So you actually went through this. So, your health folks, your
strike team. You tested positive. They said who were your contacts? They
got in touch with those contacts and told those folks they needed to
SAYEGH: Yes, they did immediately. Most were my employees. So they
quarantined them immediately.
HAYES: And are you confident that this program has lowered the amount of
infections and fatalities you would have otherwise had in your very densely
SAYEGH: Chris, it could have been far worse. We have a chief data officer.
And mid-March we asked him to project how many confirmed cases we had by
April 15. His projection was 8,000. April 15 rolls around, we`re at 2,500.
So as you can see it`s a little over a quarter of his projection. And that
is attributable to the yeoman`s work that`s being done by our strike team
within the health department.
HAYES: Now, there`s a lot of talk in the CDC guidelines for reopening about
– for contact tracing, but I`m curious, are you in contact with the feds
at all? Is the CDC helping your folks or are you getting money from the
federal government to sort of build out this program or even to show other
people how you`re doing it?
SAYEGH: Well, we are in constant contact with our Senator Bob Menendez, and
Senator Cory Booker – he was mentioned earlier – he`s been helpful as
well. And we`re hoping this latest iteration of relief will be adopted by
the Senate and the House so that we could expand even further, and
obviously lessen the burden on our municipal budget because we are going to
experience a significant loss of revenue.
HAYES: But do you have any – like, is the CDC – it just seems to me that
there is a universe in which the CDC is in constant contact with your folks
and giving them technical assistance, or helping with questions they have
or providing – like is that the case or is this just kind of the thing
that you`re doing in Paterson?
SAYEGH: No, credit goes to the men and women who are part of strike team
who have taken it upon
themselves to help us combat COVID-19.
HAYES: Wow. A Paterson story. The mayor of Paterson, New Jersey, Andre
Sayegh. I`m so glad that you have recovered and it`s impressive what you
folks are doing out there. Thanks a lot and stay safe.
SAYEGH: Thanks, Chris, you too.
HAYES: Coming up, fascinating new research into how the virus spread. Do
packages in the mail pose any real danger? Do loud talkers spread more of
the virus? If so I`m in trouble. I`ll talk about that just ahead.
HAYES: Last week we told you about the eyebrow raising reality of how the
government is treating some of the president`s former associates, like
Roger Stone who got a reduced sentence after the Department of Justice
intervened, overriding the prosecutors on the case. The DOJ is also trying
to get charges dropped against former National Security Advisor Michael
Flynn who, of course, pleaded guilty lying to the FBI.
And then the Bureau of Prisons just released former Trump 2016 campaign
chair Paul Manafort from federal prison due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
But the president`s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen, who you remember
turned on the president, cooperated with federal investigators and
congress, testified before the House, he did not get the same treatment. He
was supposed to be released in the beginning of May, but then without
explanations officials reversed that decision. And that looked suspect to
us, until today when he was released to home confinement.
Now, we do not know the full story of what happened there, the back and
forth, but it does make sense, I think to release Michael Cohen and Paul
Manafort from federal prison in the midst of a pandemic where their health
is imperiled. That is also true of hundreds of thousands of other folks who
are right now in prisons and jails amidst the pandemic.
Like for just one instance, Anthony Swain, who has been in jail, pre-trial,
for over four years, four years, awaiting trial on drug charges. Anthony is
a paraplegic who also has a rare respiratory disease, which causes his
immune system to be severely weakened and he recently tested positive for
Coronavirus. And right now, he can go except his bond is set at $650,000,
and he`s been denied emergency release twice so his family has to try to
come up with the money.
So, if Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort can get a bit of grace during this
pandemic, there are a lot of others, like Anthony Swain who should too.
HAYES: There is still so much that we don`t know about this virus, it has
only been circulating among humans we think for seven months or so,
somewhere around there, but we do continue to learn more every day. And
there`s some good news on one front which involves how easy it is to get
the virus from surfaces like counter tops, packages, handrails things like
There was real concern in the beginning, and also some laboratory data that
suggested that surfaces could be a big source of transmission, but more and
more data is coming in to suggest, again suggest, it`s all early, it`s all
provisional knowledge, that surfaces might be less of a cause for concern
than we initially thought.
Now there is updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control that
suggests that the virus does not spread easily from touching surfaces or
objects, quote, “it may be possible that a person could get COVID-19 by
touching a surface or object that has the the virus on it and then touching
their mouth or, nose, or possibly their eyes,” but the CDC adds, “this is
not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.”
The CDC cautions that we are still learning more but that is our best
understanding at this moment.
Now, there are believed to be high risk things that are big events and
super spreader individuals, right? So that is the other end of the
spectrum. Both mass gathers where a lot of people are together, and also
the idea that a relatively small number of people are accounting for a big
number of cases.
To try to help unravel the mystery of why that is, I`m joined by Jamie
Lloyd-Smith, professor of oncology and evolutionary biology at UCLA who
investigates infectious diseases at the Lloyd-Smith laboratory. He was co-
author of a 2005 paper looking at the super spreading of viruses, in that
case SARS. And he helped conduct a recent analysis of the aerosol and
surface stability of this Novel Coronavirus.
Professor, let`s start with this idea, of the notion of are/are not, and
the sort of trajectory of a virus, its transmissibility. And we heard that
in this case it`s – we think it is an R-3. And the idea is that like on
average, one infected person infects three others.
What I find fascinating about your research is that it doesn`t actually
play out in that way in reality. Explain to me how it does play out?
JAMIE LLOYD-SMITH, UCLA: Yes. So first of all, you`re correct that as
epidemiologists, we`re all very focused on this average number of cases
that each infected person will cause. That is the crucial driver of whether
an epidemic can take off or not.
But I guess it should come as no surprise that not everybody is average.
And in fact, when you look at the data, for really any infectious disease
where we`ve been able to get this kind of high resolution picture of who is
doing the spreading, it turns out that most people don`t look average at
all. So the highest frequency of people, that often the majority of people,
are really not transmitting the infection at all. They might infect zero or
one other person, but then you`ve got this long tail of people, who are the
so-called super spreaders, who are doing, you know, a disproportionate
amount of transmission.
HAYES: Right, so you`ve got a small group of people infecting a lot of
folks, and the sort of bulk of people not doing a ton of infection. And
then what`s fascinating about this to me is that this is sort of a, not a
law, but it`s a regularity, it is a pattern you see in a lot of infectious
diseases. This is not specific to COVID, but your research suggests that
this is happening, a lot of infectious diseases and probably the case here
LLOYD-SMITH: Yeah, so that paper that you showed, the old paper from 2005
it was inspired by SARS, where there were very conspicuous super spreading
events that turned out to be very important for the global spread of that
virus. But what I did is I dug up all of the contact tracing data I could
find on many different pathogens, and really they all showed the same
pattern. It was to varying degrees, but really every disease we`ve been
able to look at shows this pattern where there is a minority of people who
end up during most of the transmission. And true enough, that turned out to
be the case for COVID as well.
HAYES: So we`ve had these sort of CDC reports and other folks, there is the
choir practice, which has now been somewhat infamous, right. There is a
choir practice. One symptomatic person, and 87 percent of the group
developed COVID-19. And then there`s a whole bunch of like other big super
spreader events, like a mega church service in South Korea, a carnival in
Heisenberg County (ph), Germany, 1,500 people eventually infected. There
was a church celebration in Mulhouse, France, 2,500 cases, that choir
practice, clubs and bars in Seoul that we just read about, 100-plus cases.
It it seems to me like what is happening here is an individual who is a
super spreader, which is not a moral deficiency on their part, right, they
just happen to be. And then a big crowd of people, equals like a kind of
virus bomb, is that about right?
LLOYD-SMITH: That`s about right, yes.
So first of all, it is very important to point out, as you did, that this
is not anybody`s fault. As often as not, it is more about the circumstance
than about the actual person, and you know, what they do, or maybe it is
about aspects of how their body works, some people generate more droplets
when they speak than others, some people end up with more virus in their
body when they`re infected than others, through no fault of their own but
it does make them more efficient transmitters.
But then a big part of it is kind of happenstance. So you know, if I`m
infected with some pathogen, maybe it`s a day like today, and I`m holed up
in my office writing all day, and I don`t infect anybody, or maybe it`s the
day I go to the choir practice, and I spew out droplets and end up
infecting 50 other people.
So there is a lot of kind of fluke involved, which is part of what makes it
much more challenging to predict these events, and you know, prevent them,
which is what we ideally like to do.
HAYES: Well, here is my understanding, and again, correct me if I`m wrong,
I`m a layperson sort of wading through this, although incredibly fascinated
by it, which is that there seems a hopeful aspect to this, which is the
following, right, like if we`ve got that long tail, like can we chop off
the long tail, right? So if we can, if we can figure out a way to get rid
of real big mass gatherings, right. If we don`t have 100,000 people at a
football stadium, if we don`t have 5,000 people at a music concert, but we
have other parts of life that are kind of normal, like is there a universe
in which just chopping off big mass gatherings is enough to get us to some
kind of containment I guess is the question?
LLOYD-SMITH: Well, certainly if we can figure out the circumstances that
tend to give rise to these events, and then shut those down, or at least
take measures to make them much less hazardous, so this universal masking,
which is going on that is much more about protecting other people by
reducing the amount of virus that you`re putting out if you`re infected
than it is about protecting yourself. So if we can take measures to either
stop these large gatherings, in particular, indoor large gatherings where
there`s poor ventilation, so many people are sharing the same air, if we
can reduce those, if we can take measures to reduce how long you spend in
those settings, and then make sure people are wearing masks when they are
in those settings, all of this can have a really disproportionate effect on
cutting off that tail, which will drive the average down on how much
transmission is happening. And if we`re lucky, we can shove that R number
below one, and that`s the replacement rate. So if we get it down there,
then the epidemic won`t be growing anymore.
HAYES: Final question, and briefly, I mean there`s some research to
indicate that loud talking, which I do, or talking a lot, and talking loud,
which I do both those things, it increases the chances that you transmit a
lot. Is that an inference from the data that we have so far?
LLOYD-SMITH: It`s a fair point. So experimentally it`s true if you talk
louder, if you`re singing, you`re putting out more droplets, it`s also true
epidemiologically that some of these super spreading events are linked to
noisy environments, like meat packing plants, like noisy crowded bars,
where people are going to be speaking more loudly. So, you know, maybe
quiet down, Chris.
HAYES: Yeah, that`s a good. I`m going to try to take that to heart.
Jamie Lloyd-Smith, that was so, so, so, enlightening and fascinating and
thank you so much for sharing your expertise.
LLOYD-SMITH: Thank you. It`s a pleasure.
HAYES: That is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow Show starts right
now. Good evening, Rachel.
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protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the