virus briefings TRANSCRIPTS: 4/27/20, MSNBC Live: Decision 2020

David Frum, Anand Parekh, Ned Lamont, David Holt


ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: As you could see, we`re up against the end of the

hour. So I want to be signing off, Ari Melber, anchoring on MSNBC. I`ll see

you back here tomorrow. Keep it on MSNBC.


STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: Good evening. I`m Steve Kornacki in New York.


Still grappling with the fallout from his remark of the last week,

President Trump is shifting his focus to the economy and to reopening the

country. In a press conference tonight that just wrapped up, he announced

new testing guidelines at the state level and he encouraged governors to

reopen their states beginning with their school systems.





recommend that they do it as quickly as possible, but safely. We want

everyone to be safe. And I think, you`re seeing that, you`re seeing a lot

of governors get out and they want to open it up. Many are thinking about

their school system.


Not a long way to go in the school system right now for this season, for

this year, but I think you will see a lot of schools open up, even if it`s

for a very short period of time. I think it would be a good thing. Because

as you see, in terms of what this vicious virus goes after, young people

seem to do very well.




KORNACKI: And this comes as the number of coronavirus cases in this country

now approaches 1 million, about 985,000. A little bit more than that as of

this evening. And that number includes almost 56,000 Americans now who have

lost their lives to this virus.


President avoided his usual public briefing this weekend, instead venting

his frustration on Twitter, where he attacked the media and his political

opponents. As NBC News reports, Trump`s remarks about injecting

disinfectants has sparked new debate at the White House about whether the

president`s public appearances need to be scaled back. In fact, the White

House initially canceled tonight`s briefing only to put it back on the

schedule of later in the afternoon. In fact, the president disclaimed any

responsibility for for suggesting that disinfectants could be used on





REPORTER: Governor Larry Hogan specifically said they`ve seen a spike in

people using disinfectant after your comments last week. I know you said

they were sarcastic.


TRUMP: I can`t imagine why. I can`t imagine why. Yes.


REPORTER: Do you take any responsibility –


TRUMP: No, I don`t. I can`t imagine that.




KORNACKI: And in a news story tonight, “The Washington Post” reports that,

quote, U.S. intelligence agencies issued warnings about the novel

coronavirus in more than a dozen classified briefings prepared for

President Trump in January and February. Those repeated warnings, quote,

were conveyed in issues of the President`s Daily Brief. But the alarms

appeared to have failed to register with the president, who routinely skips

reading it.


I`m joined now by Ashley Parker, White House Reporter for The Washington

Post. David Frum, Senior Editor at The Atlantic, and a former George W.

Bush speech writer, and Dr. Kavita Patel, Physician Fellow at the Brookings

Institution and an MSNBC Medical Contributor. Thanks to all of you for

being with us.


Well, Ashley, let me start with you. There`s all that reporting that

preceded this most recent Trump press conference that just wrapped up

within the last few minutes that perhaps the White House was rethinking how

this were going to be done. This was initially not on the schedule today.

It was added schedule later, did not feature Dr. Fauci, did not feature Dr.

Birx. Is this a new model that we saw today?



are trying to push the president to a new model, and talking to White House

officials over the weekend and, frankly isn`t before the president had that

very bad news cycle where he suggested injecting disinfectants.


There was an effort where they were going to try to make the focus of the

the president more economic. They think that is an area where the president

is more comfortable, where he has better chance for success. And also, for

instance, if he says something hyperbolic about the economy, as he did

today, saying he built the greatest economy in the history of the country,

it`s not dangerous in the way that passing along false misleading public

health information is.


So there was a new model trying to move towards fewer briefings and a sort

of separate economic venue for the president. The one challenge is, of

course, is this is a president who is incredibly responsive to news

coverage. So there were stories about there`s going to be less briefings.

The president himself on Saturday even tweeted this briefings, they`re just

not worth the time.


And then exactly, as you mentioned, we saw today, we woke up, there was a

briefing scheduled at about 9:20, the plan was a briefing. By about 11:00,

they have said, update, no briefing. And then a little after 1:00, a

briefing was back on. And a lot of that whiplash reflects a president who

does not want to be constrained despite what his advisers are advising him.


KORNACKI: Let me correct myself there too. I said that the Dr. Birx was not

at the briefing. Of course, if you were watching, Dr. Birx was at the

briefing room. It`s Dr. Fauci who wasn`t there, make sure I set the record

straight about that.


David Frum, in terms of what we saw at the end of last week from the

president and then what triggered all sort of a conversation over the

weekend, over the last few days, how would you contrast that with what you

saw this afternoon?


DAVID FRUM, THE ATLANTIC SENIOR EDITOR: He does seem to be under some kind

of restraint or duress. Ashley is right. The White House does come up with

plans for making him behave better. But we now have a long record where

Trumps aides come up with a brain wave to develop better behavior, him. He

will always snap. He cannot abide any kind of restraint. So, he will behave

himself for 24, or 36 or sometimes 48 or even more hours and then there

will be an explosion, as we saw over the weekend.


And the story about the briefing books is exactly the kind of thing that

ignites him. And, look, the president will have a basis for complaint,

because the deep state unfairly hid these warnings to the one place where,

for course, he would never look, inside a book.


KORNACKI: Dr. Patel, the theme there, of course, in addition to the idea of

reopening the states, it was testing. It was about ramping up testing

capacity. Bringing in cooperation from some of corporate America. What did

you make of what the president and what folks, some of those business

leaders who are up there as well, what did you make of what they we`re

saying about testing? Do you believe we have turned the corner on that?



are facing a bit of an uphill climb and getting enough testing, absolutely.

And if you read the blueprint that talks about kind of cooperation. But,

essentially, it says, you know, state and local government and the private

sector are left to their on to set up a sentinel network. And there`s

really barely a minimum, Steve, of conversation about what to do once you

actually do get the tests. Because if somebody is positive, you need to put

into motion a pretty significant amount of tracing.


So, unfortunately, it always feels like with the administration, it`s a

little bit too late and not enough substance.


KORNACKI: We can actually put here the subject of testing comes up. And you

hear all sorts of claims, you hear all sorts of ridicule. Why don`t we put

the numbers up there and give you a sense of exactly where the United

States stands on testing right now.


So I think we can put this first graphic up. This shows – here we go –

this is a bar chart that shows the number of tests that have been performed

each day. And you do see there, it looks like in the last couple of days,

there has been an uptick there. You see it got north of 300,000, got over

200,000 a couple of days. Basically, what you`ve been seeing for about two

weeks before that was a number that was stalled at about 140,000, 150,000 a

day. So those raw numbers have increased in the last few days. Again, a lot

of experts telling us it needs to be higher still than that. But at least

that does show some more recent progress.


And you can see, I think this is the total number of tests that have been

performed. There should be a second graphic here we can take a look at.

There you go, this is the total number of tests. I think one thing to keep

in mind when you see this graphic here, again, all sorts different ways of

thinking about numbers, you hear the president often say more tests are

performed in the United States than anywhere else.


And you can see on this chart in raw numbers that`s certainly true, but, of

course, not every country has the same population. The U.S. has a

population that is much higher than a lot of these other countries

significantly higher. So when you break it down to tests per 1,000 people,

that`s where the United States, I don`t think we actually have that



But if you were to break those countries down by tests per 1,000 people,

the United States would be somewhere in the middle of the pack. We would be

higher than United Kingdom. I don`t think France is in on there, we will be

higher than France. We`ll be lower than Italy, lower than many of those

other other countries. So kind of the middle of the pack on the actual

testing rate, even if the raw numbers are significantly higher.


Ashley Parker, let me bring you in. On that piece of it, what the White

House was ostensibly and what the president was ostensibly announcing today

in terms of cooperation from some these major companies, major

pharmaceutical, major – Walmart, in terms of testing. What specific steps

are they saying are being implemented now?


PARKER: Well, it was a little unclear what the specifics were. Part of the

ostensible reason behind this briefing was that they had this big national

testing strategy to roll out. They had a conference call with some

reporters early in the day. Some outlets were invited, some were not. But

one of the goals was to be able to have about 2 percent of each state`s

population being able to be tested.


But when you listen to that press briefing, there were less – I would say,

they were less tangible specifics than I personally was expecting to hear.

And I think another thing to keep in mind, it doesn`t mean that this isn`t

going to happen or they`re not going to do this. But they did get pressed

on this.


This is not the first time we have seen some of this exact same executive

standing in that exact same place, the rose garden, and saying, we`re going

to ramp up drive thru testing sites. We`re going to work on public/private

partnerships. And after the first time, which happened last month, we had

to push, we went back and checked. And, initially, there were only about a

half dozen of these sites.


So I think it`s interesting and it`s great that they are trying to work

with this companies and stand something up. But until I think until we

actually see the proof of what are they doing with testing, how many test

are being produced, how are they getting processed in some tangible

numbers, I think it makes sense of histories and a guide (ph) to at least

be a little skeptical.


KORNACKI: Speaking of skepticism, David Frum, you mentioned your

skepticism, that the tone we saw from president today might persist for

another day or another few days. I wonder though just in terms of the focus

here we saw today and we were talking with Ashley about the focus shifting

from having a briefing that was, as focused on medical data now, more in

terms of the idea of reopening, more mention of the economy. Is that a

shift the White House would be wise to think about at all?


FRUM: Look, that the White House is – you can`t ask a question like would

this White House be wise to do this, because that treats it like a normal

kind of government. I think it`s important to understand, this

administration is on a two-track strategy. There`s a rhetorical strategy,

which pay slips (ph), service to testing, and tracing and maybe even

quarantining and all the things public health experts say.


But the real strategy, driven by the fact they have taken away those

options. In fact, it`s to – they have missed the deadlines for testing and

they`re now missing the deadlines for tracing and, of course, there`s no

plan for quarantining at all.


The real strategy is to muscle through it, to take the punch, to accept

that the infection will race through the population, to accept there will

be with a certain level of casualty and to make the economic reopening a

priority, to do what Sweden is doing, to do what Britain first tried and

then abandoned, to take the casualties in the pursuit of economic growth.


Here is the way the president is thinking with this. Right now, the numbers

are going up faster than you can count, probably up 17 percent, 18 percent

unemployment, maybe close to 20 percent, great depression levels. Unless

the economy begins to rocket upward sometime in the early part of summer,

the president has no hope of being reelected. He needs, in his mind, to

show economic recovery beginning rapidly. And that means that it is the

economy which he separates from human life that is going to be priority.


So the real policy is let it rip, take a punch, hope for rapid recovery,

hope that it would reelect the president. And if the casualties go above

100,000, toward 200,000, that`s the prize of a second Trump term.


KORNACKI: Dr. Patel, we talked about testing a little bit here. David also

mentioned that term, contact tracing. I didn`t hear as much emphasis on

that today. I`m just curious, from your standpoint, is the United States

positioned right now to implement the kind of contract tracing program that

would be necessary to begin talking about wide scale reopening? How far off

are we from being in position to do that?


PATEL: We`re pretty far off. I`ll give you the first data point. The CDC`s

budget was proposed to be pretty significantly cut before COVID. Of course,

Congress has injected funds into the CDC. But there is really no like ready

turn key staff to do this tracing. If you find someone that is positive,

let`s say, a couple months from now, and businesses reopen, you have to buy

human labor, you have to find a way to go back in time and talk to any of

their contacts and their contact`s contacts, all while keeping their

anonymity and privacy. This isn`t really something that you can just do



So we`re still pretty far off. And in the blueprint, I didn`t see enough

mention about the tracing, which is critical part of this.


KORNACKI: All right. Dr. Kavita Patel, Ashley Parker, David Frum, thank you

all for being with us. Dr. Patel actually will be with us a little bit

later as well.


Coming up, the debate over reopening. And we take a look at just how

different things are in some of the states that are beginning to reopen

compared to the epicenter of all this, United States, New York City. Stay

with us.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 30 percent of restaurants are estimated to go out of

business as a result of this.


We really have been going through – I mean, to put it mildly, we`ve been

going through hell, what we`re going to be – what`s the future of this

whole industry.


We`re opening just for the sake of getting the wheels greased up to go





KORNACKI: Well, there was something that came up at that rose garden news

conference you saw a little bit while ago. There`s a lot of talk about

this, the idea of states beginning to reopen, beginning to lift

restrictions, some restrictions on non-essential businesses, on folks being

able to get out of their homes a little bit more, potentially.


What you see here, these are the states – and it`s not all the same in

these states. They`re not all doing this, the same way. But this are states

you see highlighted here that have begun to lift some of those

restrictions. Tennessee, for instance, you see an asterisk here. It`s not

even consistent within the State of Tennessee. Much of Tennessee is seeing

restrictions lifted but not all of Tennessee.


But we thought we would take a look here at one of the themes as we show

you these statistics all the time for the United States, the picture when

it comes to COVID can look dramatically different depending on where you

are in the United States, and, in fact, as Tennessee suggests there,

depending on where you are within a state.


So let`s take a look here at some of the statistics here. Take a look at

South Carolina. This is one of the states we just had highlighted there

where they are beginning to lift some of these restrictions. These are the

sort of the key statistics on this for South Carolina. You see deaths per

1,000, 0.03, hospitalizations for every 1,000 people on the state, 0.2,

cases, how many COVID cases do they have for every 1,000 in the states, you

see one.


Now, if those numbers look pretty small to you, here is one way to put them

in perspective. Let`s compare those numbers for South Carolina with where

this thing has just been raging, that is the epicenter here in the United

States, New York. Take a look at the New York numbers compared to the South

Carolina numbers, and that`s when you really get a sense of it.


Look at these numbers, they are just dramatically, dramatically larger in

North Carolina – in New York, excuse me, than they are in South Carolina.

That gets a part of the impetus, it seems, for some of the states

reopening, the picture on the ground in a lot of these states. Even if

they`ve had COVID cases, it isn`t, in terms of the numbers, nearly as dire

right now as it is in New York. That probably accounts for the impetus in a

state like South Carolina.


One thing to keep an eye on – we just talked a lot about this in the last

segment, though – the idea of widespread testing, if you`re going to start

reopening, having that widespread testing component in place, so you can

monitor these things, nip an outbreak in the bud.


And you see there a lot more testing going on right now in New York than in

South Carolina – than in South Carolina. So, keep that in mind. Georgia,

again, another state that is beginning to reopen here. Again, the numbers,

they are larger than in South Carolina, because Georgia has had a pretty

big outbreak, especially in the Albany, Georgia, area. Their numbers are

larger than South Carolina, but, again, considerably smaller than New York.


That could account for the impetus when we say, just quickly here, within

states, how different the picture can look even within states. Here`s a

great example.


New York, we talk about it all the time as the epicenter. So this is the

New York City metro area, New York City, the Long Island suburbs. It`s –

if you can see this map in New York, I know it`s kind of faded here, it`s

geographically a small part of New York state we`re talking about. We`re

talking about right down here.


These are the numbers. These are terrible numbers, the worst you`re going

to see in the country. Compare it to the rest of the state, Upstate New

York, Western New York. Again, it`s night and day. It`s just a totally

different picture. That`s even within New York, the hardest-hit state in

the country.


So, again, perspective on this thing, just how this all looks and how this

all feels on the ground. Big component of this is, depends where you`re



Still ahead: States are being pressured on both sides of the reopening

question. We`re going to ask a Northeastern state governor, neighbor of New

York, and a mayor of a Midwestern city how they are balancing these

competing forces.


That`s next. Stay with us.




KORNACKI: Welcome back.


As the Trump administration moves ahead with additional guidelines on

reopening the country, a number of states are starting to get back to some



As we were just talking about here, Colorado, Minnesota, Mississippi,

Montana, Tennessee, and Kentucky are among the states allowing some

businesses to begin reopening today, or at least are easing some

restrictions on businesses operating.


One of the fastest moving states, Georgia, gave the green light for

restaurants and movie theaters to open today, after opening personal care

businesses on Friday.


I am joined now by Democratic Governor Ned Lamont of Connecticut.


Governor, thanks for joining us.


And we should add, these states that are doing these partial reopenings,

that are lifting some of these restrictions, they`re talking about, OK, if

you have a restaurant here, it`s 50 percent capacity, 25 percent capacity.

So, even when we say reopening, we`re talking about limits within that.


But I`m just curious, looking at this begin to happen around the country,

what`s your sense of what the timetable for a state like yours that has

been hit pretty hard by this, what do you think your reopening timetable

looks like about right now?


GOV. NED LAMONT (D-CT): Well, Steve, remember, first of all, here in

Connecticut, the heart of our economy never stopped.


We`re a big manufacturing state, jet engines, submarines, helicopters. That

kept going. Big finance state, insurance capital of America. That kept

going. A lot of media companies. So, that all kept going.


But what hits you is the service economy. And, there, restaurants and bars,

that`s going to take a little longer to get going. And while it doesn`t hit

our GDP as much, it certainly hits our unemployment numbers big time.


KORNACKI: Well, so I`m curious.


When you say a little longer, I know, in New Jersey – I think New Jersey,

second to New York, I think, in terms of being just devastated by this

thing, the governor is talking about weeks, the timetable to begin this –

starting to get to reopening. He`s talking about weeks there.


Is that the way you think of it? Do you think about it longer?


LAMONT: No, I think about it in terms of weeks as well.


Over the next few weeks, we`re going to have a lot more testing. We`re

going to have a lot more masks. So that will allow us to get going. We will

have 14 days of declining hospitalizations, one are the key metrics.


So I would like to think we`d have most of our retail up and operating by

then, with all the appropriate social distancing.


KORNACKI: Your schools obviously not in session. Nobody`s are right now.


But the president talked today about some states, potentially, encouraging

states, potentially, to get kids back to school, even, he said, for a short

period of time before the end of this school year.


Is that something that`s on the radar at all in Connecticut?


LAMONT: You know, probably not.


We`re a pretty small state. And even though we have some sections of the

state that have a very low infection rate, and perhaps their schools could

open up, then, right next door, you have a school system that`s closed. It

sounds very complicated to me.


We have got great distance learning going on right now. And I`m afraid that

will probably be the norm through the end of June. But we haven`t made that

call yet.


KORNACKI: What do you think life looks like this summer in your state?

You`re talking about the service sector of the economy, folks there

wondering if they`re going to have jobs, folks wondering there if they`re

going to have a paycheck this summer, if they`re going to be able – the

businesses they work for are going to be able to open.


Citizens in your state just wondering if they`re going to be able to get

out of their houses. Summer is wedding season. Maybe there`s families

wondering if their daughter and their future son-in-law are going to be

able to get married.


What is the summer going to look like in Connecticut, do you think?


LAMONT: I think our local businesses will be open, as long as you can

socially distance.


I think probably outside eating for our restaurants would get going sooner,

rather than later. I think people will be able to go outside and enjoy

summer weather, as long as they`re cautious about not – keeping that

social distance.


I think our golf courses never closed down. I think – so I think we can do

a lot of things we have always wanted to do. I think bars and rock concerts

and places where you tend to congregate, that`s going to take a bit longer.


KORNACKI: This morning, the president tweeted this. He said: “Why should

the people in taxpayers of America be bailing out poorly run states and

cities, in all cases Democrat-run and -managed, when most of the other

states are not looking for bailout help?”


Again, this idea of getting federal aid to the states.


What`s your response to what the president put up on Twitter today?


LAMONT: That`s nonsense.


You look around the country, red states, blue states, we have all been hit.

Wyoming, North Dakota, they`re hit because of energy. The price of energy

collapses, and that hit their budget very hard.


How about Mitch McConnell`s Kentucky? Talk about an unfunded pension

liability and 20-plus percent unemployment. So, don`t pit blue states

against red states. Let`s get this fixed.


KORNACKI: All right, Governor Ned Lamont, Democrat from Connecticut, thank

you for taking a few minutes. Appreciate that.


LAMONT: Thanks, Steve.


KORNACKI: All right, and meanwhile, in Oklahoma, the governor there, Kevin

Stitt, has allowed some hair and nail salons to open for appointments as of

last Friday. And at the end of this week, on May 1, restaurants, movie

theaters, gyms, and sports venues in that state can begin to open with

adherence to social distancing and sanitation guidelines.


The governor says his approach to reopening will be data-driven. Oklahoma

has reported more than 3,200 confirmed cases of coronavirus, and 197 people

there so far have died.


Unlike Georgia, however, Governor Stitt`s plan in Oklahoma does allow local

governments to put their own conditions on reopening.


And I`m joined now by the mayor of the largest city in Oklahoma, Oklahoma

City, David Holt. And he is one of the first mayors in the state to issue a

stay-at-home order.


Mr. Mayor, thank you for joining us.


So, you`re going to have some – per your governor here, you`re going to

have some flexibility in your city in terms of what can open, what can`t



What`s your sense, by the end of this week, of what you think will be

operating in some capacity in Oklahoma City?



operate within the structure.


You`re right. We do have some flexibility in Oklahoma City. And, certainly,

in the interest of public health, we`re going to use that, to the greatest

degree practical.


We also have to recognize we operate within a structure where I`m only the

mayor of less than half the people in my metro. And that`s probably going

to be the case in many metropolitan areas. And so we have to have some kind

of uniformity across the metro for there to be any real public health

benefit in closures.


And that`s a realistic external factor that we had to consider as we moved



Having said that, I think our list of openings will be very similar, if not

identical, to the governor`s. But we`re going to put some conditions on

that and commonsense stuff that you could probably imagine, but social

distancing and sanitation protocols, to try to make this as safe as



Obviously, we want to continue to keep the same mind-set we have had here

for the last six weeks.


KORNACKI: Now, in terms of, once you put this in place, you put these

conditions on it, talk about the monitoring process, then, because, I mean,

if you get a report of one case, what do you do? If you get a report of 10

cases, what do you do?


How is the monitoring going to work? And how reactive are you going to be

to reports of cases?


HOLT: Yes.


Well, I mean, data is critical. And we`re going to – and I should say, I

mean, we`re not moving forward on Friday if there`s some sudden change in

the next four days. We`re going to be monitoring data every day between now

and then.


Obviously, we seem to be in a decent position, relative to other places.

And we appear, just barely, to meet the White House criteria as of last

Friday. But we`re going to keep watching that.


But as we move forward into this new phase, absolutely. I mean, I have said

it, and the governor has said it, that if there`s a sudden shift, if

there`s a spike, then, obviously, this experiment has failed, and we have

got to maybe go back to an earlier phase.


My hope, my optimistic hope, is that everybody has conditioned themselves

over the last six weeks, and maybe we weren`t ready for this phase on March

15, but we`re ready for it now. And we`re certainly going to continue to

message how important it is to take all the precautions we have been

talking about, and if you are going to engage in these high-risk

activities, that you do social distancing, and you do sanitation, you wear

masks, all that stuff.


But, at the end of the day, no, we`re going to watch that data like a hawk.




So, I`m curious about that, because I think this is an issue that cities

and states all across the country are going to have to deal with whenever

it is that they begin to reopen in some way. And that is the difference

between, OK, there`s a report of a case, there`s a report of a few dozen

cases that might be kind of scattered and don`t represent a new outbreak,

vs. you said the idea there of looking for a spike.


It seems easy to sort of say that, but how will you define that?


HOLT: Sure.


KORNACKI: How will you know you`re looking at a spike, and not just an

assortment of sort of scattered cases?


HOLT: Well, that`s why we listen to public health officials.


I mean, we`re going to look for definition for that from the highest

levels, people like Dr. Fauci, who`s a hero, but also people like here at

our Oklahoma City County Health Department, Dr. Patrick McGough and his

team here. They`re our local heroes.


And we`re going to rely – nobody – nobody`s depending on me for public

health expertise, thank goodness. We`re going to rely on public health

experts to tell us the significance of certain things, whether this is a

spike that the whole community should be concerned about, or maybe it`s

localized to one assisted living center.


I mean, all of that, obviously, are things that we have to consider. But we

rely on public health officials, science and data, to make these decisions.


KORNACKI: All right, David Holt, the mayor of Oklahoma City, thank you for

taking a few minutes. Appreciate that.


HOLT: Thank you very much. Be well.


KORNACKI: All right, you too.


And up next, a pair of medical professionals share their assessments of the

progress so far in this fight and their forecasts for what`s coming next.





that it can be you, no matter what your age is, no matter what your history



We have seen patients in their 20s. We have seen patients in their 90s and

everything in between. And all of them have been sick.









INFECTIOUS DISEASE RESEARCH: At most, 5 to 15 percent of the United States

has been infected to date.


With all the experience we have had so far, this virus is going to keep

transmitting. And it`s going to be here for the next 16 to 18 months. And

people don`t get that yet. We`re just on the very first stages.


When I hear New York talking about the fact they`re now on the backside of

the mountain, I know they have been through hell, and that`s an important

statement, but they have to understand, that`s not the mountain. That`s the

foothills. They have mountains to go yet.


We have a lot of people to get infected before this is over.




KORNACKI: Welcome back.


That was Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious

Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.


That was yesterday on “Meet the Press.”


It`s been more than three months now since the first case of the

coronavirus was reported here in the United States. Scientists have learned

a lot in that time.


But as the country approaches its one millionth case, there is still much

more we don`t yet know about this deadly virus.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has added several new

symptoms for the public to be on the lookout for. Some of them may sound

familiar because doctors and patients often speak about them.


They include chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache,

sore throat, and losing your sense of taste or smell.


Back with me is Dr. Kavita Patel, physician fellow at the Brookings

Institution. And joining the conversation is Dr. Anand Parekh, chief

medical adviser at the Bipartisan Policy Center and former deputy assistant

secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services.


Thanks to both of you for being with us.


Well, Dr. Parekh, let me start with you on what we just read there. These

new symptoms that have been added to the profile of the disease that folks

perhaps should be on the lookout for, we hear so much symptoms that this is

a disease of the lungs, of the airwaves, it affects breathing. When you

start seeing, for instance, chills added to the symptom list, what is that

telling us about our understanding of what this disease, what this virus




we`re still learning quite a bit about this disease. I think a lot of the

symptoms you just presented are flu-like symptoms and I think the important

point that the American public right now is flu season is winding down and

yet you see sort of this influenza-like illness out the there, which makes

us think absolutely that COVID-19 is present across the country, and not

necessarily showing signs of slowing down everywhere.


KORNACKI: Well, as businesses, we were just talking about this, to decide

whether to begin to reopen, a new study finds that the coronavirus appears

to linger in air in crowded space or rooms without ventilation. The study

published today in the journal “Nature Research”, did not indicate whether

the airborne particles could cause infections but said future studies

should explore that.


Dr. Patel, I`ve been seeing this about indoor spaces. I know there is

another study about folks in a restaurant who directly in the line of an

air conditioner, they were getting it at a much higher rate than folks who

were just 10 feet away from them, but were in the line of that.


What are we learning about indoor versus outdoor in terms of transmission

of this?



know that indoors and especially the environments in which some of the

studies were done are a lot like hospitals or medical facilities and in

those environments, it`s pretty clear, Steve, that the need for the medical

grade personal protective equipment is still very high because it can

linger in those spaces four hours as the studies pointed out. But to your

point, indoor/outdoor restaurants, certainly outdoors, and especially if we

can have tables that are kind of apart, that will help.


But it`s pretty clear that our normal indoor dining habits are going to

change, and it`s not just because of what you said but it`s also because

probably a higher infection rate, Steve, of people touching things and that

being a kind of a real cause of the transmission of the virus. So, it`s a

little bad news for indoor diners because we can`t be in crowded, packed

spaces like we used to.


KORNACKI: Let me ask you getting away from restaurants and businesses

indoor versus outdoor, something more basic, just in we`re going to have to

live with this in some form over summer, I think this became an issue in

California over the weekend. You had a heat wave in California over the

weekend, you got folks who`ve been in their houses doing their best to

adhere to all the guidelines that are out there, helping bring this numbers

down, and I think what you saw over the weekend out there was folks, I just

want to get outside. Here is a beach a mile away, five miles away, whatever

it is. Let me get outside. Let me just get air.


I know it has caused controversy but given what we know about indoor, and

what you`re describing about indoor versus outdoor, in just the reality of

folks trying to live with this and trying to find some outlet to gather at

their house, is there a case to be made for finding a way to get people,

you know, responsibly. But is there a way to get them, you know, to beaches

and other outdoor places over summer just to give them a break from being

inside? Is there a way to do safely, do you think?


PATEL: I do think there is a way. But –




KORNACKI: Go ahead, Dr. Patel.


PATEL: I do think there is a way to do it safely. If you stack the use of,

for example, non-medical masks, parking spaces that are distanced and

having pretty clear like designation that people should keep distances of

at least six feet and while they`re in their non-medical masks, than being

sensible, not having like metal kind of play structures that people can

use. But I do think part of this is how do we return to encouraging some

form of exercise or fresh air, which is what you`re getting to? It`s just

going to be a different way than we`re used to.


KORNACKI: Well, it could be at least another year before the vaccine is

available. Dozens of clinical trials on potential treatments are underway

here and abroad. In New York, researchers are conducting a study involving

heartburn medication in combination with the an-malarial



In Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe may approve the use of an antiviral

drug remdesivir, and I don`t know if I`m getting that right. I keep reading

this thing, I`m not sure on the pronunciation, but it was first developed

as a possible treatment for Ebola.


Dr. Parekh, there was another one, and I see these stories all the time. I

perk up when I see a story about some potentially promising study. I

imagine a lot of folks out there. There was another one I saw today out of

Oxford University in England, a potential vaccine apparently being, had

been tested in some monkeys, they`ve been given – six monkeys had been

giving a high dose of this a month later.


They weren`t showing any symptoms of it. And this Oxford lab had a history

with this coronavirus apparently, a positive story there as well.


Let me ask you, a broad question, we keep hearing a year, 18 months at

least for a vaccine. Is anything that you`ve seen, whether it`s the Oxford

one I`m talking about or Japan or anything else, has anything that you have

seen given you hope that it could be less than 18 months, less than a year

and maybe substantially less?


PAREKH: Steve, unfortunately, I think a vaccine is going to take at least a

year. Again, you have to remember that these studies not only have to go

through animal studies but human studies. Safety is paramount. You have to

look at effectiveness, where the vaccine elicits an immune response. You

want to make sure that the vaccine has given a fairly large number of

people so you can identify side effects.


So, unfortunately, Steve, on the vaccine front, it`s going to take probably

take a year and then you have to focus on manufacturing as well as

distribution. But, Steve, you also mention medications and in particularly

anti-viral medications, monoclonal antibodies, and I think there, there

could, in fact, be some promising therapeutics in the coming months.


There are dozens and dozens of clinical trials across the world. Just

today, one was reported a randomized control clinical trial, monoclonal

antibody, looking at patients who have severe COVID-19 with pneumonia and

the small study showed reduction in death, as well as the use mechanical

ventilation. So, I think, Steve, there are so many studies, so many

potential therapeutics of that might – and I think we all hope that will

come to fruition before a vaccine is possible.


KORNACKI: OK. We`ll all keep our fingered crossed on that.


Dr. Anand Parekh, Dr. Kavita Patel – Dr. Patel doing double duty for us

tonight, we appreciate that. Thank you both for being with us.


And up next, NBC news chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel takes

inside Sweden`s controversial pandemic response. That is where schools,

shops, restaurants remained open and social distancing is voluntary.


We`re back after this.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Watching people die without anybody there is just

torture. And I know it`s going hurt a lot of nurses. We`re going need a lot

of coaching and counseling after this is over. I know, it`s hard for the

families no to the be there. I`m just praying that we`re done with this.






KORNACKI: Welcome back.


Yesterday, Italy`s prime minister announced the gradual easing of that

country`s restrictive lockdown. Italy, of course, was the first Western

nation to impose a strict national lockdown more than a month ago as the

coronavirus began spreading throughout that region.


Sweden opted for a dramatically different approach, however. Sweden`s

health officials chose to keep things open and to make social distancing

guidelines voluntarily.


NBC`s chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel reports from Stockholm on

the controversial approach – Richard.





about sustainability. This country believes that they`re going to be facing

the coronavirus in one wave or another, one mutation or another potentially

for many years to come so they are trying to think about the long term,

trying not to have a policy where they lock everything down only to have to

open it up again and lock it down once more.


They are thinking what can we do that is sustainable potentially for years

until there is an effective vaccine, if there is an effective vaccine

because there is no guarantee we`re going to reach that?


I spoke earlier today with the mastermind of this program, the Dr. Fauci of

Sweden, his name is Dr. Anders Tegnell. And he said that people here

respond better to suggestions rather than obligation, especially if you

want them to do something for the long term. he said that people – if you

treat people like adults and speak to them, explain what the rational is

that here in Sweden, at least, they have been sticking to some social

guidelines without having to totally close down their businesses.


Here, almost nothing has been closed. Schools are open. Shops are open.

Restaurants are open. Bars are open. But people are told don`t over crowd

them, don`t go and visit your elderly grandparents, especially if they`re

ill and try and keep your distance from people.


But they`re not even seeing keep six feet apart. They`re not putting lines

of chalk down or tape on the ground. They`re just saying keep a respectful

distance, we`ll leave it up to you to decide what it is.


A lot of critics say that this is irresponsible and pushing for so-called

herd immunity, which means you protect the vulnerable and let everybody

else get sick with the idea and hope that eventually they become more and

more immune, but health officials say so far, so good in this country. They

had 2,000 deaths, half of them in nursing homes, half in the rest of the

population but that is more or less equivalent per capita to the rates they

have been having in the United States – Steve.




KORNACKI: All right. Richard Engel, thank you for that.


And coming up, the latest on the 2020 race. Joe Biden picked up a big

endorsement today. We`ll be right back.




KORNACKI: Welcome back.


The president`s handling of the coronavirus crisis has threatened his

political standing six months ahead of the presidential election. With

nearly 60,000 Americans now dead and 26 million losing their jobs in recent

weeks, there is a new poll today from the “USA Today” and Suffolk

University that shows the presumptive Democratic nominee, former Vice

President Joe Biden leading Trump in a hypothetical matchup by ten points.

Other polls put closer but consistently a Biden lead in the high single

digits over Trump.


And today, the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi formally endorsed Biden, saying

he would be, quote, in extraordinary president, citing his leadership

during the financial crisis and his experience in the Obama administration.

Right now, President Trump`s approval rating is steady. It`s Real Clear

Politics Average is about 45 percent right now. Even though an “Associated

Press` poll shows that few Americans trust the information he`s providing

on the pandemic.


Even more troubling for the president is a series of polls in battle ground

states released over the last week that show Trump trailing Biden in

critical states. Trump campaign officials told the associated press that

they have, quote, become concerned about losing support in several key

swing states, particularly Florida and Wisconsin.


Some advisors have all but written off Michigan. “The New York Times”

reports internal RNC polling mirrors public polling that shows the

president quote struggling in the Electoral College battlegrounds and

likely to lose without signs of an economic rebound this poll.


The president`s precarious standing also has down ballot Republicans

concerned. But, of course, as we`ve learned, six months can be an eternity

in politics. Heck, in this era, six minutes can be an eternity.


Thank you for being with us.











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