Coronavirus crisis TRANSCRIPT: 3/20/20, The Rachel Maddow Show

Dow Constantine, Esther Choo



PREPAREDNESS: I think we need to leverage more technology that can support 

public health, efforts including contact tracing, isolation, we need to 

also leverage the power of the American people, where it is up to us to be 

able to counter this, our most valuable source. 


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Dr. Luciana Borio, thank you so much. Appreciate 



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


Good evening, Rachel. 


RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend. You are 

doing a fantastic job covering this story. It is an honor to go after you 

these nights, my friend. 


HAYES: Thank you very much. You too. 


MADDOW: Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour as well.


Let`s just jump right in. Here`s the headline, the front page of “The New 

York Times” right now: Coronavirus in New York, deluge of cases begins 

hitting hospitals. There are already critical shortages. A Bronx hospital 

is running out of ventilators. In Brooklyn, doctors are reusing masks. 

That`s the headline, and the sub-head tonight, of “The New York Times”.


Here`s the lead, quote: For weeks, as the coronavirus has spread across the 

world, New York officials have warned that a surge of cases could overwhelm 

the state`s health care system, jeopardizing thousands of patients. Now, 

that surge has begun. 


In a startlingly quick ascent, New York reported today the state was 

closing in on 8,000 positive tests which is about half the cases in the 

entire country. The number was ten times higher than what was reported 

earlier this week. New York has 10 times as many cases now as it did when 

we started this week. 


And part of that is increased testing. The state says they processed 10,000 

more coronavirus tests overnight last night. But regardless of whether it 

reflects increased testing or not, it`s giving us more information about 

what New York is coping with, and the state is now close to 8,000 known 

cases, with more than 1,200 people hospitalized, already. 


There are not infinite beds to put people in in New York hospitals, as they 

bear the brunt of the first wave of this illness in the United States. And 

the hospitals in New York that already do not have enough beds, they also 

do not have the supplies they need to keep hospital workers and doctors and 

nurses from getting infected themselves, and they of course are the work 

force that we must keep alive and uninfected, and well enough to be 

working. As the hospitals fill up and spill over, first in New York. And 

then next, watch. It`s happening. 


Quote, in the Bronx, doctors at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center 

say they only have a few remaining ventilators for patients who need them 

to breathe. In Brooklyn, doctors at Kings County Hospital Center say they 

are so low on supplies, that they are re-using masks for up to a week, 

slathering them with hand sanitizer between shifts. 


Here`s New York City`s mayor today trying to make clear that this isn`t a 

future problem to worry about. This is what is happening now. And whatever 

happy talk you`re hearing from the federal government about how things are 

under control, and supplies are plentiful – well, where those supplies are 

actually needed right now, they`re not here. 




MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D-NY): We don`t have masks. We don`t have 

ventilators. At the beginning of April, we will run out of basic medical 

supplies, because of the intense strain that`s being put already on our 

hospitals by this crisis. We literally will not have the things we need to 

save people`s lives. 


I`m telling you in two weeks time or three weeks time, we will have nothing 

left and I have not gotten a hint of an answer from the federal government 

about when resupplies are coming. There`s no supplies moving. There`s no 

military mobilization. 


We would know, I assure you, if we were receiving supplies, we`re not. We 

have not gotten a call saying here is your shipment, here`s when it is 



The president doesn`t act within days to maximize the use of the Defense 

Production Act to put every company that could produce a ventilator or 

surgical mask or any other necessary supply, put them on full 24/7 

production and guarantee that those products get to the front line, get to 

where the need is greatest, if he doesn`t do that in the next few days, if 

he does not mobilize the United States military immediately, not only will 

hundreds die around the nation who didn`t need to die, thousands will die 

around the nation who didn`t need to die, people will die waiting to get 

into a hospital. People will die at a hospital because will is no equipment 

or there is no medical personnel who can help them in time. 




MADDOW: There`s no supplies moving. And we would know if we were receiving 

supplies. We are not receiving supplies. 


Here`s the headline tonight in “The Wall Street Journal.” Coronavirus cases 

strain New York City hospitals. Quote: We are getting pounded, swiftly 

rising number of patients. Sooner than expected. Leads to supply shortages. 


“The Journal” reporting tonight that Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn 

has no more isolation space for coronavirus patients. They are full-up. 


“The Journal” also reporting that Long Island Jewish Medical Center is now 

90 percent full. Half the hospital`s intensive care patients right now are 

coronavirus patients. The hospital is adding ICU beds right now tonight, as 

fast as they can. 


One doctor telling the paper, quote, we are getting pounding, I`ve been in 

ICU care for 15 years and this is the worst I`ve ever seen things. I`ve 

seen more cases in the last ten days of severe respiratory illness than 

we`ve seen in years. Quote, I`m very worried. 


To try to slow down the rate of new infections, remember, intensive care 

demand lags new infections by about three weeks. After people get infected, 

three weeks later, that`s when those infections start to get reflected in 

emergency wards and intensive care wards. 


To try to slow down the rate of new infections, to try to slow the demand 

on hospital and intensive care beds, New York and Illinois have now joined 

California as states that have full statewide stay at home orders. And 

announcing the first of the statewide orders last night, California 

Governor Gavin Newsom said that without changes to slow the rate of new 

infections in California, California expects that 56 percent of the state 

would be infected within the next eight weeks. 


In a state as large as California, that means they`re saying more than 20 

million people would be infected within the next eight weeks, unless the 

state radically changes direction. And so, a statewide stay at home order 

announced last night, instituted as of last night. 


All the way across the country, in the great state of Louisiana, things are 

escalating quickly there as well. Louisiana has more than 500 reported 

cases now. And that gives that state one of the highest per capita 

infection rates anywhere in the country. The mayor of New Orleans tonight, 

instituted a stay at home order for the city. It`s along the lines of what 

is in place now statewide in California and New York and Illinois. 


The Tulane health system in New Orleans is actually planning to shut down 

one emergency room in a New Orleans suburb so they can move all of the 

staff from that emergency room location, instead to a downtown New Orleans 

hospital where they`re experiencing a large surge in coronavirus patients. 

Louisiana`s governor, John Bel Edwards, now telling the White House that he 

believes his state may be only seven days away from its hospitals being out 

of capacity. 


The White House released a transcript of his request for help, so we can 

see it in exact words, the governor saying, quote: My fear, based on 

modeling I`ve received today, is that in as early as seven days, we can 

start to exceed our capacity to deliver health care here. I`m asking for 

help in terms of surging our medical capacity. The governor then goes on to 

ask specifically if the V.A. hospital in New Orleans, federal facility, 

might be a place where patients from the regular city hospitals could be 

surged into, as the hospitals start to overflow. 


In Oregon state, and in Washington state, the state`s governors there, Kate 

Brown and Jay Inslee respectively, they have now ordered a halt to all non-

urgent medical and dental procedures statewide. Anything that requires 

protective gear for health care providers because that gear is so key to 

whether or not doctors and nurses and other health care workers stay alive 

to take care of the rest of us. 


The Oregon Governor Kate Brown announcing that the state is actually 

rounding up protective equipment now, like masks and gloves, rounding that 

stuff up, collecting it, from contractors, and veterinarians, and anybody 

else who is not using it for human health care right now. Oregon is also 

one of several states that is building new capacity, new beds. Last night, 

we reported on King County in Washington, building a brand new 200-bed 

hospital that I`m tempted to call a field hospital, because they`re 

building it in a soccer field.


We reported on that last night, in King County, Washington, that is going 

up fast. One state south, in the great state of Oregon, they are also now 

building out a similar facility. A 250-bed hospital that they`re putting up 

on the grounds of the Oregon state fairgrounds. They are using a 

fairgrounds building that`s about 50,000 square feet, and they are 

converting it to hospital overflow. Frankly, states all over the country 

need to be doing things like this. 


Here`s Salem, Oregon, today. 




BRENNA KELLY, REPORTER: We`re at the Jackman-Long Building, where the 

hospital will be set up. And when you look inside, this building is 

massive. It`s 48,000 square feet. And inside, there`s heating and 



Governor Brown said this morning, the Oregon medical station will become a 

250-bed emergency hospital. Right now, it`s unclear what level of care will 

be offered here. The governor said the emergency coordination center is 

working on identifying 1,000 temporary hospital beds across the state, to 

move patients to, who do not have COVID-19. We do not yet know whether this 

will be that overflow, or if it will be an emergency set up for critically 

ill coronavirus patients. 


I spoke with one of the project managers, Chris Ingersoll (ph), who is 

working at the COVID-19 emergency coordination center. He says uniformed 

military members are helping set this up, so he doesn`t the community to be 

alarmed if they see them. They`re unloading hospital materials like beds 

and other supplies, like military equipment. 


The questions like who will be staffing this hospital, and what level of 

equipment is here, we don`t yet know. Governor Brown said this morning, the 

hospital may be ready by Friday, but Ingersoll says he doesn`t think it 

will be operational then. 


And what is clear right now is that setting up the Oregon medical station 

is a direct measure to flatten the curve and slow the spread of COVID-19. 




MADDOW: So they`re calling it the Oregon medical station. Oregon is 

building this capacity right now. They say they want a thousand beds that 

they need to get in very short order across that state. They`re using 

military resources to get 250 beds up and running right now. Again, they`re 

calling it the Oregon Medical Station. But they`re building it at the 

Oregon state fairgrounds. 


In Washington state, they want even more surplus beds. They want 3,000 beds 

in Washington state. They have already been buying and leasing hotels and 

motels. Yesterday, they started standing up a hospital on a soccer field. 

We`re actually going to talk with the King County commissioner over the 

course of this hour, to talk about how his county, how he`s been able to 

basically get so on the ball about that stuff, and get that stuff in 

motion, bet those beds in use, while the rest of the country has lagged so 

far behind. 


In Chicago, the commissioner of public health said today that they – the 

city has assigned its first contract for hospital overflow and quarantine 

beds in Chicago. Now the commissioner did not announce what that first 

contracted facility is for Chicago. But they say they`re looking at empty 

schools and dormitories, and even convents. And Chicago is expecting to 

stand up thousands of beds again to try to keep Chicago hospitals from 

being overwhelmed. 


In California, the governor says they will be trying to add tens of 

thousands of beds. The governor there signed an executive order last week 

that allows the state to commandeer, to take over medical facilities and 

hotels and he signed that executive order last week, he now says the 

process of doing that is under way. 




GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D), CALIFORNIA: Today, we just secured a very large 

hospital in northern California, Seton. It`s now part of our portfolio, and 

we`re going to populate that hospital, as an example to meet the moment. 

Tomorrow, we`ll announce a hospital in southern California. That`s 750 

beds, those two hospitals combined. We start to stack this, 750 here. 


The motels that we`re currently and hotels that we`re currently negotiating 

with, we start stacking those master leases, for those hotels. We`re 

working, I had very, positive conversations with the leaders of two of the 

finest public university systems in the world, UC and California State 

University System, we`re working with those systems to identify appropriate 

dormitories to help us with the surge. We start stacking those numbers. 




MADDOW: California, Washington, Oregon, the city of Chicago, Louisiana 

asking to please use the V.A. facility, which makes sense, probably, in the 

short run, except the V.A. has done almost no testing of veterans already 

in its care, and the numbers they`re showing early on from the few tests 

this very done show that the V.A. is going to have their very own serious 

charge with their own patient load, particularly given that they have so 

many older patients. 


In terms of the happy talk we`ve had on this front from the federal 

government, there is no sign that the Navy hospital ships that the 

president made such a big deal of, the Comfort and the Mercy, there`s no 

sign that they`ll be anywhere on-site helping out anywhere in the country 

for weeks yet. The president said when he announced that those ships would 

be put into action against the COVID-19 epidemic. He said one of those 

ships would be operational in New York harbor by next week. That`s 

nonsense. It will not be there next week. 


The army is talking about deploying a combat support hospital and a field 

hospital, potentially to New York, and also to Seattle, that would 

certainly be a help, as we understand it, a combat support hospital 

typically has about 250 beds, including about 50 ICU beds. A field hospital 

is much smaller, less than 100 beds, but a field hospital can also support 

ICU bed, including with ventilators. 


So that`s not a lot of capacity that the army is talking about, one combat 

support hospital, one field hospital, if they`re only talking about 

deploying one of each of those, that`s not much, but every little bit will 

help. It would be helpful in particular if they`re able to move those fast. 


Again, it looks like tonight, New York is already getting the first blast 

in terms of hospital capacity. There is talk in New York about potentially 

converting the gigantic Javits Center, the Javits Convention Center, into 

bed space, to hospital overflow space. They`re also talking about 

potentially using Madison Square Garden, or the student dorms at NYU, New 

York University. 


And it is presumed that the U.S. military will help with setting those up, 

or with converting those spaces into hospital overflow, but with New York 

hospitals already filling up tonight, just talking about the prospect of 

doing that, at some point, is late already. And I mean the lodestar, the 

thing that New York officials believe they are heading for, is something 

akin to the situation in northern Italy which experts say epidemiologically 

speaking is about ten days to two weeks ahead of where the United States is 

in terms of its increase in cases. 


And about the same distance ahead of New York City in terms of a hospital 





REPORTER: This is the main hospital in Bergamo in Lombardi province. It`s 

one of the most advanced hospitals in Europe. But it`s the most hard-hit 

hospitals in all of Italy. The town is the center of the epidemic here. 


This isn`t a ward. This is a waiting room. Wherever you go, people are on 

gurneys and corridors and meeting rooms, they`re everywhere. All the 

medical staff urged other nations to see what`s happening, and lock their 

nations down, right now, or face this. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I would suggest just to shut down to stop all of 

the outbreak, and not come into this kind of situation. It is very, very 

difficult to manage. 


REPORTER: Can I ask you personally what it`s been like? 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have never felt so stressed in my life. I`m an 

intensivist and I`m quite used to intense moments, and choices, and people 

are critical, and will die without any treatment, and you make a 

difference. But when you`re over to this point, you realize that you are 

not enough, and maybe all – we are 100 anesthetists here, we are doing our 

best, but maybe it is not enough. 


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are performing the test kits for the swab to detect 



REPORTER: The problem facing health services across the world is that when 

the infection curve goes up, it rockets, and all of the resources, all of 

the testing, all of the supplies, are used up instantly, multiple hospitals 

all at once. 




MADDOW: Italy reported its largest single day death toll today, 627 people 

died in the last 24 hours. And even as Italy struggles and struggles and 

tries to keep up, China just set up a team of experts who just went through 

their coronavirus catastrophe to try to advise and help out with the 

situation in northern Italy. 


The vice president of the Chinese Red Cross on that visit to northern Italy 

said that from what he can observe, what Italy is doing to try to slow the 

rate of new infections, which are frankly the kinds of measures we are just 

lackadaisically starting in a few states in this country, the Chinese 

officials who just went through this in their own country, are visiting 

Italy and they say what Italy is doing is not nearly strict enough to make 

enough of a difference. 


Quote: Here in Milan, he said, the hardest hit area by COVID-19, the 

lockdown measures are very lax. I can see public transport is still 

running. People are still moving around. Having gatherings in hotels and 

they are not wearing masks. 


Quote, I don`t know what people here are thinking. We really have to stop 

our usual economic activities and our usual human interactions. We have to 

stay at home and make every effort to save lives. It is worth putting every 

cost we have into saving lives. 


Again, that`s what the head of the Chinese Red Cross is telling northern 

Italy about how well they`re doing in their nationwide lockdown effort. 

Their nationwide lockdown effort in Italy is effectively the same kind of 

stay at home order that only three U.S. states have thus far adopted, and 

those three only in the last 24 hours. 


So here we go. There was some more happy talk from the White House today 

about how plentiful our national supply of ventilators is, saying there is 

no problem there, and also how plentiful the supply of masks and personal 

protective equipment is. There`s tons of that stuff. 


There`s murmuring from the White House that there will maybe be some 

additional manufacturing of those things, but we`ll see. Let`s hope so. 


I mean, those things do eventually start getting manufactured in greater 

numbers because the federal government decides to do something about it, 

let`s hope all of those things come with a time machine, too, to turn the 

back the clock on the last three months that have been wasted while the 

White House was saying this was a hoax. 


I don`t know if the federal government is ever going to get it together. 

But as of now, with the first hospitals in America reporting that they are 

all filled up, we are out of time waiting for the federal government to get 

it together. The best-run state, the clearest-eyed leaders in the best-run 

states, right now are just going on their own. They have to be now. 


And if your state isn`t, you should not hope that there will be some kind 

of federal response that will step up to fix things, when things start to 

get dark in your state over the next few weeks. States, we have learned, 

have to go on their own. 


Yes, we need a national manufacturer and mandate for ventilators. We need 

that. We need a national manufacturing mandate and a national coordination 

effort for the distribution of protective equipment for health care 

providers and the other crucial supplies they`re already running out of and 

rationing and unsafely reusing. 


And, yes, weeks ago, we needed a national effort to get millions of 

coronavirus tests in the field. We`ve needed all of these things from the 

federal government. The federal government is failing at all of these 



And that is lamentable and I lament it, but it`s not stopping the virus, 

right? It`s not stopping these things from moving forward. It`s not 

stopping the influx at our hospitals from starting as of today. 


So lament it all you want, but if you`re a state official, the lesson is 

go. Go now. 




REPORTER: Do you want the president to use the Defense Protection Act to 

ramp up production of medical supplies. 


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: Look, I`m – if I had a New York state 

Defense Production Act, I would use it, Jessie. I don`t have it. 


So what I`m saying is I`ll pay businesses more, I`ll start a new, I`ll fund 

a new business, if you can make these products. I`m trying to make these 



If you were in this, this line of work, you know, we need masks, if you`re 

making clothing, figure out if you can make masks, I`ll fund it. So I`m 

doing everything I can to increase the production. 




MADDOW: If you`re making clothing, figure out if you can make masks, for 

nurses, and New York state will pay you, I mean that`s where we`re at. 

That`s where we`re at. 


Lots of expert help lined up tonight to help us get through the news. Do 

stay with us. 




MADDOW: Within the last few minutes, the president has just declared New 

York state a federal major disaster. This is something that was sought by 

both of New York`s senators, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, the 

expectation that this federal major, the disaster declaration, will open up 

more lines of money and aid for New York, as the state struggles already 

with the initial large influx of hospital patients and intensive care 



Tonight in Washington state, Governor Jay Inslee is also asking the 

president to declare a federal major disaster in his state as well. Again, 

to help them deal with the spiraling crisis of the coronavirus epidemic. 

The governor`s request comes as King County Washington, which includes 

Seattle, now reports a total of 793 confirmed cases, that`s up 100 from 

yesterday. King County is also now confirming 67 deaths, and seven deaths 

confirmed in the past 24 hours. 


Regardless of what the federal government ends up offering, a hard-hit 

community like King County, Washington, local officials there have not been 

waiting around for help. Chief among the early identified needs in King 

County is having enough room in the hospitals there, preserving hospital 

beds, so sick people can be safely isolated, and so that everybody who 

needs care can get it. 


Way back on March 2nd, the King County executive, a man named Dow 

Constantine, announced that the county would plan to buy a motel to convert 

it into a facility where people could be isolated. The county looked at 

properties that fit certain criteria, like having hard surfaces that could 

be easily and repeatedly cleaned and wanted facilities with separate HVAC 

systems in each room. The county ended up purchasing a motel with 85 beds. 


And as of last weekend, county officials announced they are leasing another 

motel in the city of Issaquah to house and isolate more people. And two 

days ago, King County started building their latest facility on a soccer 

field in the city of Shoreline, which will be ultimately 200 beds. King 

County estimates they will still need about 3,000 more beds and looking for 

more facilities to use for isolation, quarantine, recovery, hospital 



King County, Washington, is not just talking about what could be done. They 

are doing it. They`re not waiting around for the cavalry. They are doing 

everything they can. And they are doing it themselves. 


And their efforts have come with some local friction, some Not In My 

Backyard objections. But the King County executive Dow Constantine has 

defended how aggressively the county has been working, and a statement that 

caught our eye and I have been holding on to it ever since. 


He said, quote: Epidemiologists tell us that left unmitigated, the number 

of people with this infection roughly doubles every five to seven days, 

possibly quicker during this period in the disease`s evolution. That fact 

underscores the urgency with which we are implementing these community 

mitigation measures, as well as purchasing, citing, and setting up places 

for people to recover, and to isolate themselves so they don`t 

inadvertently infect their families or others in the community. We must 

take time to be sure to get this right. But we must also act with urgency 

and leave no one behind. 


Again, that was earlier this month, I`m willing to bet, he feels the same 

way now. But let`s ask him. 


Joining us now is Dow Constantine. He`s King County executive.


Sir, thanks very much for being here tonight. I appreciate you making the 




me, Rachel. 


MADDOW: So, as – I understand that you have one motel open that you`ve 

convert to this kind of use and another that you`re about to open. You`ve 

got this hospital under construction. Tell me about the sense of urgency. 

Tell me about what you think would happen in King County if you weren`t 

building out that additional capacity. 


CONSTANTINE: Well, what you just showed happening in Italy is what we are 

looking to avoid. What we`ve been working hard for more than a month to 

avoid, which is hospital overcrowding, hospitals having to turn people 

away, the people who need that acute hospital care and not being able to 

get it. 


So we`re pushing for 3,000 units for people to be outside of the hospital, 

still recuperating or being isolated. or getting an appropriate level of 

care while we keep the few hospital beds available for the folks who really 

need them. 


MADDOW: How difficult is it to get these facilities up and running? I know 

some of them, you`re building from scratch, literally popping them up in 

fields, but in other places you`re taking existing facilities and 

repurposing them. As other communities around the country look at what 

you`re doing, and trying to figure out how they can replicate it, what can 

you tell them about how hard, how expensive this is, and how much time it 



CONSTANTINE: Well, as you know, we already had a housing crisis here in 

Central Puget Sound, so we are trying a yes and approach, if there`s a 

vacant motel or hotel, we`ll get it, if there is an open field, and we can 

get a large tent, we`ll take that. We`re putting up modular units on 

government-owned property around the region. 


We`re even converting an old shelter that we`ve already been using, into 

space for folks to move out into respite from the hospitals. 


MADDOW: In terms of the extent for which you are serving as a model for the 

country and I`m not sure why there isn`t more national attention to what 

you`re doing, I think it needs to happen all around the country, I guess I 

wonder if you – if you imagine you were speaking to other public officials 

right now who feel what you`re doing is too hard or beyond what they think 

their jobs are about, do you have any words of encouragement for them about 

how this is doable or what they should do, who they should talk to, to make 

it more doable, particularly if it seems like an insurmountable task. 


CONSTANTINE: Well, you know, Rachel, you were talking about this earlier. 

The federal government has rendered itself incapable of really rising to 

the occasion in the sport of national emergency. So, we are left here at 

the state and local level to do what we can to provide for the people and 

one thing we need to do to save lives is to maintain that hospital space. 

So whether you have to borrow the money, whether you have to upset some 

people in neighborhoods, you have to get that space set up to get the 

people out of hospitals, to allow the hospitals the space to care for those 

who most need it. 


I went to our Harborview Medical Center, a public health hospital, last 

week, with Major Jenny Durkan of Seattle, and we saw the folks there on 

ventilators. It is truly harrowing. And to think that we might not have the 

space for them to be admitted, or there might not be enough ventilators for 

the people who need them is terrifying. So faced with that, we`re going to 

do everything within our powers, as a local government, including borrowing 

up to $100 million from ourselves, to set up the space we need to save 



MADDOW: Dow Constantine, King County executive. I really appreciate you 

joining us tonight. And I know that the last thing you want to do is lots 

of national media interviews but I hope more people call to you get the 

word out about what you`re doing because it is a real model for the 

country. Thanks for being here. 


CONSTANTINE: Thank you, Rachel. 


MADDOW: All right. So we are all depending on health care workers in this 

current crisis. It turns out they are also depending on us and letting us 

know it. That story is next. Stay with us. 




MADDOW: Do you have a sewing machine? Do you know how to sew? Are you good 

with your sewing machine? Maybe by any chance you live in the Seattle area? 


Providence Hospital in Renton, Washington, is looking for anyone with a, 

quote, willing heart and the ability to sew to help protect care-givers on 

the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic. The hospital is literally 

signing up people who can sew at, for what they`re calling 

the 100 million masks challenge. They are asking for the community to help 

create medical-grade masks for health care workers who are desperate now 

for protective equipment so they can keep doing their jobs. 


This is not the way that American health care workers are supposed to be 

getting personal protective equipment, but this is what we`ve got. 


How about any of you out there in Oklahoma? Anybody out there in Oklahoma 

with a sewing machine and good set of hands? The Stillwater Medical Center 

in Oklahoma is also looking for people to sew masks, if you go to and search for face masks, you will find a tutorial of 

exactly what they`re looking for, in that case, in Oklahoma, they`re 

looking for masks to be warn by the worried well, so people will start 

buying up the medical ones so actual medical workers can use those. 


Last night, we reported that the president of Mass General, Massachusetts 

General Hospital in Boston, was broadly appealing for anybody who has a 3D 

printer to try to help out as well, asking for people with 3d printers to 

start printing medical-grade masks. Well, update to that, this morning, on 

the “Today” show, the president of that hospital said he heard from over 

100 individuals and companies offering to help. 


Mass General is also giving out this email, that you see on the screen,, for those with expertise who want to 

work with their researchers on that project. 


Everybody out there, hospitals need help from regular civilians who didn`t 

know we knew how to do this stuff. 


You may have seen pictures of E.R. workers and their masks and gowns along 

with the hashtag, get me PPE, get me personal protective equipment, drawing 

attention to the desperate need for basic equipment like masks and gowns 

and gloves. And that campaign was started by somebody on the front lines of 

that effort. An E.R. doctor in Portland, Oregon, who saw the need, who 

experienced it herself, who decided, well, let`s just try, it let`s just 

ask the world for help. 


Joining us now is that doctor, Esther Choo, an E.R. doctor, an associate 

professor at the health and science university in Portland. 


Doctor, thank you very much for joining us. I really appreciate it. 



for having me on, Rachel. 


MADDOW: It does feel ridiculous for people with sewing machines and people 

with 3D printers to be activated here. It only feels slightly more 

ridiculous than construction companies and contractors being asked to 

donate their masks, as well. But the campaign that you started and the way 

that it`s resonated around the country, with doctors and nurses, health 

care providers everywhere, saying yes, the shortage is real, it is starting 

to seem like this stuff isn`t far-fetched. 


CHOO: Yes, I mean this really feels to me like some sort of dystopian 

novel, where regular processes have completely broken down and we are doing 

these really surreal things like dropping by the Home Depot on the way it a 

shift or asking our friends and neighbors to sew basic medical equipment, 

for us, so that we can have some semblance of being safe when we go in to 

take care of these patients, but that`s where we are. 


And I`ll tell you, speaking from health care providers I`m talking to, this 

is one thing we`re fixated on because it is the first layer of protection 

as we simply go in and see people and take care of them. We`re already 

thinking ahead to if the supply does not come through, if we`re not really 

able to reproduce medical-grade equipment, through these kind of MacGyver 

ways, we`re thinking ahead to the hard decisions we have to make. I mean, 

can we continue to ask this entire work force to go into rooms where 

they`re not adequately protected knowing that they are going to be exposed 

to patients with COVID-19, get sick themselves, and then not be available 

to take care of hundreds or thousands of other patients. There are some 

really tough ethical decisions we will have to make at some point. 


MADDOW: I mentioned earlier in the show, and I used sort of harsh language, 

I said that it`s – there`s been quite a bit of happy talk, from the White 

House, from the federal government, in terms of the availability of these 

kinds of equipment. We have seen the president and the vice president say 

that there is tens of millions of masks on order, and that there`s going to 

be a mental supply, not only of masks and protective equipment but also of 

complex equipment like ventilators. 


It`s frustrating to me just as an observer to see the distance between what 

the White House is talking about, and what providers like yourself are 

describing, in terms of the ground reality. But I have to ask you over 

these past couple of weeks, does it feel like anything is getting any 

better in terms of supplies of this kind of stuff? 


CHOO: I really want to be positive, you know, I want to give people hope, I 

am listening, and watching all of the news that you`re talking about, and 

I`m hearing some positive messages, and I think on the ground, we would 

love to see those things. I will say hospital administrator, public health 

officials are working very hard and trying to be very creative, doing the 

kind of public campaigns that you`re talking about. 


On the ground, we`re not seeing the – we`re not really seeing the delivery 

of items that we`re hearing from our country`s administration, so I haven`t 

unfortunately seen it yet. We`re waiting and we`re optimistic. And then in 

the meantime, we will do what we can with what we have. 


And I also want to say, face masks, gowns, gloves, respirators, ventilator 

machines, I mean, these are the kinds of things that we`ve been talking 

about. They represent one part of many, many different types of resources 

that we are going to run short on. And something we haven`t really talked a 

lot about is we`re right now facing a national shortage of albuterol 

inhalers. You know, those are the first line treatments for people like 

wheezing and shortness of breath, asthma exacerbation, the kind of things 

that get worst when you have a respiratory viral illness like COVID-19.


So, as we get over this first hurdle, if we get over this first hurdle of 

things like face masks we will then be talking about the vital medications 

that we have a shortage of, we`re going to be talking about how much supply 

do we have of these experimental therapies that we`re using to treat COVID-

19, and then on and on, to rooms and ventilators, other advanced ICU 

equipment, and then how we sustain the work force, and not just doctors and 

nurses, respiratory therapist, pharmacist, the complex team that you need 

in every hospital to take care of very, very sick patients. 


So this issue of we`re lacking fill in the blank, it starts here with basic 

things like face masks and gloves, this conversation is not going to end, 

it will just be the next shortage du jour for a while I believe. 


MADDOW: No, we need a war-sized national response to address these things 

each in turn, all of them. It`s remarkable. 


Dr. Esther Choo, associate professor health and science in Portland, 

Oregon, Doctor, I would like to have you come back and talk us to in coming 

days as things start to evolve in Portland. We`d love to have you come back 

with us again. 


CHOO: Any time. Thank you, Rachel. 


MADDOW: OK, more ahead. Stay with us. 




MADDOW: I know we ought to be getting used to this kind of thing by now but 

I`m not. 





many years for people to combat malaria, which was a big problem and it was 

effective and a strong drug. 


REPORTER: It was effective against SARS? 


TRUMP: It was very – as I understand that, is that a correct statement? It 

was fairly effective with SARS. 



DISEASES, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: John, you got to be careful when 

you say fairly effective. It was never done in a clinical trial that 

compare to anything. 




MADDOW: You got to be very careful when you say fairly effective. 


President Trump today again just flat out wrong in public about this 

malaria drug that has gotten stuck in his mind quite some distance from the 



Yesterday, President Trump proclaimed that that drug had been approved as a 

coronavirus treatment and would be available almost immediately for use. 

Within moments, the FDA had to clean that up because that is not true at 

all. It is not at all approved for coronavirus treatment. 


But the president loves saying things like, you know, there`s a drug we`ve 

got. It`s very effective. It approved already. Everybody is going to get 



He loves saying things like that because that would be a lovely thing to 

tell people, unless of course, that`s not true and telling people a 

fairytale like that is cruel and harmful and needlessly diverting and 

wildly irresponsible from anyone in any leadership role. It wildly 

responsible if someone said that to you from a barstool if we could go to 

bars anymore, but to get from the presidential podium, nevertheless, he 

keeps doing it. 


In the weeks leading up to now, we repeatedly heard claims from the 

president that the virus was well-contained, that it was well under 

control, that it was going to disappear – remember that? Like a miracle, 

he said, it was going to disappear. 


In terms of material tangible promises, President Trump claimed we would 

have 1.4 million tests available this week. Of course, we`ve seen nowhere 

near that. We`ve got about a tenth of that. 


Last week, Trump announced that Google was developing a website to help 

people decide if they needed testing and where to go to get it. It was 

going to be very quickly done he said unlike websites of the past. 


Turns out, of course, that that website is still in the early stages of 

development and currently only being tested in one part of California and 

it`s not even really working just for that. 


President Trump announced this week that the navy was sending two medical 

ships, one to New York City, one to the West Coast to help treat patients. 

He said the ships would be launched over the next week or so depending on 



Wrong. That was also wrong as NBC`s Courtney Kube puts it. Quote, it`s 

anybody`s guess when those ships will come in. One of those ships is 

currently undergoing maintenance. It has no medical personnel on board. The 

other one is also undergoing maintenance and it lacks a medical crew all 

together. Remember the president said it will be there next week. It won`t 

be there next week. 


The president has claimed that the government has, quote, massive amounts 

of ventilators. Maybe in normal times, I guess, you might say but in a 

crisis like this the government`s stockpile of ventilators will not be 

nearly enough to satisfy the demand. We need literally tens of thousands 

more than we have. 


He has said similar things about face masks and other protective equipment 

for health workers and told a grown up of nurses this past week that the 

government ordered 500 million N95 respirator masks. He declined to mention 

the order will take 18 months to fill, if we`re lucky. Millions of masks. 

Don`t worry. 


Nurses, what are you worrying about? Millions of masks are coming. Wait a 

year and a half before you might. 


I mean, there`s a – there`s a clear pattern here in this crisis of the 

president promising stuff he knows America would love to hear but it`s not 

true. And even stuff that he`s saying that he will do, that the federal 

government will do, he`s not doing. And so the specific way in which the 

president is failing now is clear. We have said from the very beginning, 

watch what they do, not what they say. That`s very, very, very relevant 



And I say this not to vent my outrage or anything. I`m over that frankly at 

this point. I`m just saying it because I feel like we should inoculate 

ourselves against the harmful impact of these on going pulse promises and 

false statements by the president by recognizing when he`s talking about 

the coronavirus epidemic more often than not, he is lying. Even when he`s 

talking about what he has done or what he will do, he`s consistently lying 

and giving you happy talk that is stuff that the federal government isn`t 

actually doing. 


And it`s making people around the country count on the fact the federal 

government is doing that stuff when they`re not. I mean, there may be 

people in the federal government who are saying that are true, but this 

daily briefings from the White House are litany of things from the 

president that would be awesome if they were true, if they were happening 

but they`re not.


And so, the sooner we come to terms with that, I think the better for all 

of us. If it were up to me and it`s not, I would stop putting those 

briefings on live TV. Not out of spite but because it`s misinformation. If 

the president does end up saying anything true, you can run it as tape. But 

if he keeps lying like he has been every day on stuff this important, we 

should – all of us should stop broadcasting it. Honestly, it`s going to 

cost lives. 




MADDOW: Before we go tonight, I want to tell you about a member of the 

MSNBC family who died yesterday of coronavirus. The thing you should know 

about Larry, about Larry Edgeworth, is that he was a hoot, he was a ton of 

fun and he was really good at his job. 


He spent 25 years at NBC News. It was always a really good sign if you got 

sent into the field or to a remote location somewhere and Larry was on the 

team. He was super charismatic, super talented, very respected by his co-

workers. He`s survived by his wife and his two sons and mourned by all of 

us who are lucky enough to work with him. 


That will do it for us tonight. See you again on Monday. 







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