Chicago Mayor TRANSCRIPT: 4/8/20, The Rachel Maddow Show
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: 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. Much
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
When Ireland elected their current prime minister back in 2017, he was a
landmark choice for a bunch of reasons. At 38 years old, he was the
youngest-ever Irish prime minister elected. He`s also an immigrant`s son,
his mom was Irish born. But his dad came to Ireland from India.
He`s also openly gay, which was remarkable enough thing in Ireland, for us
here in this country, it was all the more remarkable when Irish Prime
Minister Leo Varadkar brought his partner to meet Mike Pence. Oh, mother,
there was trembling. Oh, it was awkward.
But now, in the spring of 2020, something else about the trailblazing
biography of Ireland`s young prime minister has been brought to the fore
because this week, he has gone back to work as a doctor. The prime minister
of Ireland went to medical school and worked as a doctor, as a general
practice physician in Ireland for seven years, before he left the medical
role and went into politics.
Now as Ireland confronts its coronavirus epidemic, they`re currently over
6,000 cases and over 200 deaths, the prime minister himself has re-
registered on the medical roles with Ireland`s health service, and he is
now spending one day a week working as a doctor, assessing suspected
coronavirus patients in Ireland, while he still works as prime minister.
Ireland last month asked health professionals of all kinds who were not
currently working in the country`s health service to please sign up and
join the fight. The prime minister himself is now among them.
And that kind of volunteerism, among the, you know, the powerful and
connected, but also among regular people, we have seen it all over, and it
is heroic. In the U.K., the government`s request for ordinary citizens, to
come forward, and volunteer to bolster the British national health system,
to help health care workers prop up their NHS, the British government asked
for 250,000 British citizens to volunteer in that effort.
They`ve now had 750,000 British citizens come forward, three quarters of a
million people, regular citizen volunteers coming forward to help, and this
is on top of the thousands of British health professionals who have
volunteered to join the front lines again, as well. I didn`t realize it
before the “Washington Post” pointed it out today, but that number of
British civilian volunteers that came forward, that 750,000 strong cadre of
accomplish volunteers, that`s four times the size of the entire British
The data modeling group at the University of Washington that`s been so
influential with our government and in our country, they`ve been doing
these models of when individual U.S. states are going to hit the peak of
their outbreaks, how many deaths that`s going to mean, how many beds each
state is going to need, by what date, that same modeling group at the
University of Washington has just started doing the same kind of modeling
estimates for European countries as well. And there is, in those models,
and in those projections, some good news for some of the hardest hit
For Italy, which was hit so, so badly, and is still struggling in some
ways, the modelers at University of Washington say that the first wave of
the pandemic has peaked in Italy, at the national level. The peak is behind
them. For Spain as well, quote, almost all regions of Spain are at or past
For France, quote, the model shows that France is just passing its peak.
Now, French health officials said this week that they believe they haven`t
peaked yet. But the numbers in France do show their curve at least
flattening out and this University of Washington model shows that France
will start to improve from here. That they are peaking now, and things will
According to this modeling, the peak in Germany is still to come. But the
good news, for these projections, for the nation of Germany, is that
Germany has kept its epidemic there contained enough, they have slowed the
spread enough, in Germany, that even though they are not expected to peak
in terms of their apex number of cases, until the third week of April,
quote, the model shows that Germany will have enough beds, and enough ICU
beds, to meet demand, when they get to that peak.
So there is some good news, for European countries who have lots of cases.
The bad news in this new modeling for European countries is for our dear
friends in the U.K., you know, where three quarters of a million British
citizens have come forward, volunteering to help, where there is such
goodwill, and such desire to do the right thing, where the prime minister,
Boris Johnson, with all of the controversy around him and his government,
the whole country is pulling for him, he himself is in intensive care in a
But in the U.K., the Johnson government was slow to put in place stay-at-
home orders and to close schools and businesses. They had some sort of
pseudo scientific ideas about maybe being fined if they did nothing and so,
they were super slow to act and that meant that the virus kept spreading in
the U.K., and they kept achieving more and more prevalence in that
country`s population while the government couldn`t get it together to
confront the real data and the real science and put in place the measures
needed to protect the people so they are going to have a gigantic epidemic
and they are going to have a gigantic death toll.
The University of Washington`s model at least predicts that the U.K.`s
death toll is going to peak later on this month, and they`re predicting
that the U.K. will not have enough hospital beds or enough ICU beds to meet
demand, by a lot. They`re predicting that the U.K. will be short by tens of
thousands of ICU beds.
The Washington model is predicting that deaths in the U.K. will ultimately
be more than Italy, and Spain and France combined.
The only other country facing an acutely negative projection in this model
is Sweden of all places. The University of Washington model says that
Sweden, too, will outpace its hospital beds and its ICU beds by the time of
their peak, later on this month. And that is because Sweden, too, of all
places, for its own idiosyncratic reasons, the Swedish government decided
that they wouldn`t put in place stay-at-home orders, they wouldn`t close
the school, they wouldn`t close businesses.
They decided they would wait it out and see how things went. Sweden`s
government decided to assume things wouldn`t get that bad. And so, now,
they, like the U.K., are facing the – what feels like the inevitable
overwhelming of their medical facilities, and thousands of deaths. Even as
other European countries start to get this under control.
And I mean, from this distance, here in the United States, we tend to think
of Sweden and Norway as kind of twin Scandinavian countries, they`re like
Vermont and New Hampshire of northern Europe for us, they share that cold
northern peninsula at the top of the world, we think of them sort of
similar and having similar politics, but they have very different
approaches to coronavirus. Norway put in place early stay-at-home orders
and closed schools and businesses while Sweden didn`t.
And now, literally, at the same time this week, Norway has flattened its
curve enough that they are starting to work on when it is going to end.
They`re starting to work on when they`re going to repeal their anti-
coronavirus policies, and open their economy and their society back up.
That is happening right now in Norway.
While Sweden, sharing a long border with them, on the same chunk of land,
in that northern part of the world, Sweden`s government just next door,
this week, is scrambling to give themselves new powers, so they can put in
place belatedly now policies that they hope will at least mitigate, at
least slow down, what looks like a coming disaster.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are seeing more and more patients coming in every
day. And unfortunately, not a lot of patients are leaving the ICU, at least
not alive. So it is pretty worrying. And we have several wards filled with
COVID-19 patients, in the hospital, that are still not in need of intensive
care. But there`s a big worry that many of them will arrive in intensive
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That`s general surgeon who is working in Stockholm, Sweden, we see
him expressing that worry there.
That statement from him is part of a collection of statements, from front
line medical workers, that NBC News has been collecting from doctors and
nurses and other health workers all over the world and all over this
This for example was a prediction that we got just a few days ago from Dr.
Prakash Gatta, a surgeon at Multicare Tacoma General Hospital in Washington
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. PRAKASH GATTA, SURGEON AT MULTICARE TACOMA GENERAL HOSPITAL: Here I am
back to work, with COVID-19, just want to let the world know and my health
care providers when you`re on the other side of this, you`re going to have
a lot less anxiety, a lot less fear, and you`ll feel like you`re invincible
because you can deal with this crisis, without anybody having to worry.
And for my patients out there, for the people with fear, know that no
matter what happens, you can work from home, the lights are always on,
babies are being born, bones are being set, this hospital, this profession,
we`re in a league of our own. We`ll take care of you.
(END VIDEOJ CLIP)
MADDOW: That was Dr. Prakash Gatta in Tacoma. He`s a surgeon in Tacoma,
Washington, speaking just a few days ago.
Here he was yesterday in the operating room.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GATTA: This is Dr. Gatta, in the midst of all of the COVID craziness we`re
still in the operating room taking care of really sick patients that really
can`t wait, being very careful about conservations of PPE, reusing masks,
in some occasions, gowns and sometimes not leaving the operating room to
take a bathroom break, because we don`t want to waste our gowns.
The level of involvement of our staff is just incredible. Everyone is going
beyond what they`ve ever been asked to do, and you don`t even have to ask
them. I`m proud to work here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I`m proud to work here.
Again, that`s Dr. Prakash Gatta, in Tacoma, Washington.
Here`s another you should see. By coincidence, it is another doctor Indian
descent. Like I believe Dr. Gatta and like the Irish prime minister, this
is Dr. Ajit Rai, who is an anesthesiologist who works in California but he
is in New York now because he volunteered to come do time in a front line
New York City hospital.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. AJIT RAI, CALIFORNIA ANESTHESIOLOGIST, VOLUNTEERING IN NYC HOSPITAL:
Here in New York, we are in full blown crisis mode and the city is sinking,
so although first responders, and myself, I`m just one person, but I
believe that we can still be a life vest for an overburdened health system
to help it remain afloat, and what has been so surprising to me is that the
resource depletion I`m seeing here in one the wealthiest cities in the
world reminds me a lot about the limitations I experienced when I was
providing medical care for war-wounded refugees in the Middle East, working
for Doctors Without Borders.
And you know, everyone in the country is so fixated on PPE shortages and
ventilator shortages, but none of that even matters if you don`t have the
medical personnel to turn those machines on. So, for doctors and nurses
around the country who are just waiting, time is now when we need you. Some
clinicians believe that because of their specialty, they may not be able to
contribute to the care of critically ill patients, but the truth is, at a
time like this, anyone and everyone with medical training has value. We are
seeing a disproportionate amount of disease and death in one region. So,
for me, it just didn`t feel right to sit back and watch it happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Again, that`s an anesthesiologist who works in California but he
has come to New York to work at a front line New York City hospital.
Here is just one more I want you to see. This is from a working paramedic
in the New York Fire Department, FDNY.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY ALMOJERA, VICE PRESIDENT OF FDNY EMS OFFICERS` UNION: It`s been,
it`s been a crazy week. The call volume is 6,500 or better. Last night, it
was 6,900 again.
There`s been a lot of people dying. I`m getting phone calls from crews who
are going four, five, six arrests in the tour, cardiac arrests, people
dying, knowing they`re trying to work out. This Sunday, I did 12 cardiac
arrests in a 16-hour tour. It`s a suspected that most of them are COVID-
related as the patients tell us that they have similar signs and symptoms
of what is going on.
The sick leave of the FDNY EMS is about 20 to 25 percent. That`s people who
have contracted the virus and they`re out sick. Thankfully, some of those
people are starting to come back in.
But we do have a lot of members who are really sick with it. We have two
members who are intubated. We have about seven or eight members who are in
the ICU. And a whole bunch of them are in quarantine. Roughly about 700
people of the fire department are being monitored for this.
So, it`s a serious virus and we`re out there on the front lines battling
it. The governor today said that he thinks it is going to reach its peak,
and I hope he`s right, you know, he`s doing a pretty good job giving it to
us straight. But out here in the streets, it`s nothing but ambulance
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The paramedics, the doctors, it`s not just the amount of work that
is being put on them, it`s the risk to them at the same time. It`s just
impossible to ask what we are asking of them, and yet we are.
In New York, over the last 24 hours, they started transferring some
critical coronavirus patients out of one hospital, in Queens. Out of
Jamaica hospital medical center in Queens, because there were so many
patients on ventilators at that one hospital, they were worried about being
able to sustain the supply of oxygen necessary to keep feeding those
ventilators. Worried about their oxygen supply, they distributed these
critical ill ventilated patients to Upstate, to Albany and other New York
City hospitals, and to New York harbor, on to the U.S. Navy hospital ship,
New York`s case load is roughly at 150,000 confirmed cases which means that
New York state alone has more positive cases than any country on earth,
other than the United States. Here`s a look at, New York`s numbers right
now, though, which are horrible, but they may tell the story of a crisis
that is starting to slow down, in its acceleration.
First, let`s look at the bad news first. This is the death rate in New
York, the daily death toll. This is the number of new deaths reported each
day over the past couple of weeks. And you can see how it rose and rose and
rose and rose, there was a little dip where the numbers went down from 630,
down below 600 for a couple of day, people got very hopeful those death
numbers would start to fall consistently but no, now, they are higher than
You can see it in chart form here. It is bad. The daily death toll is bad.
Yesterday was a new record death toll anywhere in the United States. Today
was worse than that record. But death, of course, is the end of the story
when it comes to any patients` progression.
Is there reason to hope in other numbers that lead up to that final death
toll? Well, look, here`s the numbers for the last couple of weeks for new
hospitalizations reported each day in New York. These are the raw numbers.
And again, you can see them going up and up and sort of tipping around, up
and down and up and down and over the last couple of days, you can see the
recent numbers are lower. Those are the raw numbers. Now let`s again put
them on a chart.
Again, these are the new hospitalization number, each day, in New York. You
can see the lower numbers right now, recently, is that cause for hope?
Now, let`s look at newly-reported cases. Newly-reported coronavirus cases
in New York, this is the rate of increase each day, and newly reported
cases of coronavirus. Again, you don`t want to get too hung up on any small
set of data but what we are looking at here is a daily rate of increase,
that is getting smaller.
We`ve now had four straight days, in which the daily increase in the number
of cases in New York is below 10 percent. It is in the single digits.
That`s the day by day numbers. Here`s what that looks like on a chart.
To a layman like me, that looks like reason to hope. The pace at which New
York City`s new cases are increasing, starting to slow, it looks like hope
to me, but you know what? Dashed hopes are the last thing we need right
now, and so, in just a few minutes, we`re going to talk to an
epidemiologist to get his take on whether there is really reason to be
hopeful in these New York numbers, these numbers in the worst epidemic that
we`ve got in our country.
But, you know, separate and apart from what`s going on in New York and
whether New York is hitting an inflection point, just absorbing the day`s
news today, there are some other clear promising signs in the U.S., among
states that took it very seriously and acted very quickly. Just as we`re
seeing some good news out of some European countries who are past the worst
of it, in some American states, things are going better than they might
Last night, we reported on California, sending ventilators to New York and
New Jersey and Illinois. Today, California sent more. Fifty ventilators
flown out today to D.C. and also to Maryland and also to Nevada.
Earlier this week, we saw Washington and Oregon also start sending out
their ventilators to other states. Their ventilators that it turns out they
don`t need yet because they`ve done a good job so far keeping their curve
low, keeping people at home, slowing new cases.
Today, Washington state also gave back an Army field hospital that had been
set to open this week, staffed by uniformed army personnel.
Governor Jay Inslee in Washington state, today, saying quote: I`m
incredibly appreciative of the men and women of the 627th Army Hospital
Center out of Fort Carson, Colorado. These soldiers uprooted their lives to
help Washingtonians when we needed them most. Since then, it has become
apparent that other states need them more than we do. It is only right that
we release this capability so those states have the tools necessary to help
end this nationwide fight that we are all battling together.
Unequivocally that is hopeful news, positive news. And another one of the
Western states that has sort of grabbed the curve early and decisively and
bent it forcefully down and they are doing better than they otherwise would
have, and better than they prepared for. But now, we are in this situation
as a country, where, you know, we`ve got some places doing better, and some
places really not. We`ve got some places in the country where they are
still furiously building out new hospital capacity.
For example, the mayor of the great city of Chicago is going to join us in
a couple of minutes tonight, in part to talk about the hand over fist
effort in Chicago, to get enough beds built there, right? We`ve got that
happening at the same time that these other places that went big and fast
in their response, and you know, they`re able to lessen some of the
capacity they expected to use. For the first time, we hit this landmark
moment today where one of those places is about to turn back in their build
out excess hospital capacity so it can move to somewhere elsewhere it is
There really are some bright spots in the American story. Some places that
acted quickly and decisively. But the big picture for us is still very bad.
I mean, the story overall of coronavirus in the world now, remains the
massive size of America`s epidemic. The national level, federal failure, of
the U.S. to handle this responsively and the way it has therefore run away
with us as a country.
There are currently more than 425,000 cases in the United States. That`s
bigger than the other three largest epidemics on Earth combined. More than
14,500 Americans have died. One thousand nine hundred and sixteen of them
have died in the last day, which means one American is dying on average
every 45 seconds from coronavirus.
And still, it`s this patchwork response. Still there are U.S. states that
don`t think it`s a big deal and haven`t had any national instruction to
take it any more seriously, so they`re not.
The Arkansas governor, Asa Hutchison, now insisting that not only will
there be no statewide stay-at-home order in Arkansas, he is overtly
blocking any county or city in Arkansas from initiating their own measures
to slow the virus, he is stopping them from doing so, if they want to. In
Arkansas, they have already hit about a thousand cases, they are already
about to hit a thousand case, maybe they want to see how high they can go.
In Iowa, they`re already over a thousand cases, over 20 percent of whom are
health workers. Iowa medical board begging Governor Kim Reynolds for a
statewide stay-at-home order, but Iowa`s governor is refusing that, too,
because OK, sure, why not.
In Kansas, the Democratic governor there, Laura Kelly, did institute a
statewide stay-at-home order and a ban on large gatherings. Today,
Republicans in the Kansas state legislature overturned the ban on large
gatherings. Apparently, because they want Kansans gathering tonight in
large numbers right now?
I mean not, Republicans in every state don`t have their heads screwed on
the same way about this. You`re seeing that in Kansas. You`re seeing stuff
like what we`ve seen from the Republican governors in Iowa and Arkansas. I
But for example, Maryland`s Republican governor, Larry Hogan, is going the
opposite direction. Today, he, for example, formed a multi-agency strike
force, to try to help out the dozens of nursing home and long-term care
facilities in Maryland that have coronavirus cases already. Maryland has a
stay-at-home order. Maryland has asked for ventilators from other states.
Maryland is now acting as best it can to try to approach the devastating
problem in these congregate living facilities that are so vulnerable to
this virus. That seems good. Because nursing homes have been hit so hard
everywhere in the country, there out to be national guidance, and national
effort and assistance here, for those incredibly critical vulnerable
populations in facilities, but this federal government doesn`t do that. The
Trump administration doesn`t do things like that.
I mean they`re also ought to be a national testing plan but this
administration doesn`t do that either. The “Washington Post” today with a
devastating report on how every state is doing for themselves as it comes
to testing and even now, even three months into this thing.
There ought to be national guidance on how to limit the spread of the virus
through stay at home policies and social distancing, but states are still
making that up as they go, too, with no federal direction, including some
states just deciding to not do it at all. Because the White House hasn`t
told them they should.
But here`s what all that looks like in the end for us. I have one more
thing to show you here. Here`s what this looks like.
This animated graphic I`m about to show you was produced by the BBC. And
they are using data here from Johns Hopkins University. And what you`re
going to see here is a graphic that shows the progression of how the
coronavirus pandemic spread throughout the world.
This thing is only about 40 seconds. It is worth watching the whole thing.
I particularly want you to watch when the part of the bottom of your
screen, the part that shows the time frame that we`re in, I want you to
particularly watch when it gets to the very beginning of March.
OK? Let`s start it. So as you can see, by late January, China was dealing
with an explosive outbreak. But even as that country started to grapple
with tens of thousands of cases, the rest of the world remained largely
By late February, however, there`s South Korea, there`s Italy, there`s
Iran, all reporting thousands of cases, and now, here, watch what happens,
at the beginning of March. Look at the speed at which the U.S. epidemic
starts to take off.
By the end of March, we have surpassed everyone, and from that point on,
cases in the U.S. continue to grow with astonishing speed, by the
thousands, and then by the tens of thousands, and nobody is even close.
That, that is the proof in the pudding. That is the data that shows a
failed national response. The worst failed national response on earth,
How our response is an international disaster, because of the way our
unchecked, unmitigated spread of the virus, now dominates the pandemic
worldwide, and dominates the human prevalence of this virus on earth.
I mean, patch work, late, denialist, fantasists, uncoordinated, inept,
unscientific, confusion in national policy leads to this, leads to a run-
away disaster. I mean, we do have to build on the few places that have been
getting it right in our country and learn from them. And we need to support
the places that are being overrun.
But at half a million cases now in our country, and nearly 2,000 American
deaths, every day now, this has run off with us.
MADDOW: There have been a few real gut punch to flash points that will be
remembered when the early history of the coronavirus, and how it ripped
through this country is finally written. There was the nursing home in
Kirkland, in Washington state, where we learned that two-thirds of the
residents were sick, and ultimately 35 people died.
The town of New Rochelle in New York, where the outbreak was so fierce and
moved so fast, that officials sealed off the town into a one-mile
More recently, there`s the USS Theodore Roosevelt, the nuclear powered
aircraft carrier where the virus ravaged the ship`s sailors turned sitting
ducks stuck on board while their CO desperately asked the Navy for help.
Kirkland, New Rochelle, USS TR, those are big ones. But in terms of simple
math, they may all be dwarfed by an outbreak you may not have heard about
at all at the Cook County Jail in Chicago, which is now officially being
described as the nation`s largest-known source of coronavirus infections.
Quote, it started small, on March 23, two inmates in the sprawling Cook
County jail, one of the nation`s largest, were placed in isolation cells
after testing positive for the coronavirus virus. In a little over two
weeks, the virus exploded behind bars infecting more than 350 people. And
even those numbers probably grossly underestimate the scope of the
infection, because quote, the vast majority of the jail`s 4,500 inmates
have still not been tested.
The dry tinder situation at the Cook County jail has led to urgent calls to
get the prisoners out of there. It has also drawn pleas from the Americans
who are locked up there right now themselves, handwritten sign, you can see
propped up in the cell window, it says, quote, help, we matter, too.
In the community at large, in the great city of Chicago, there are very
worrying signs in the data about their outbreak, and its contours. African-
American residents are dying at nearly six times the rate of white
residents in Chicago. African-Americans make up about 30 percent of
Chicago`s population, but 68 percent of Chicago`s deaths from coronavirus.
And there`s this warning sign from the city`s hospitals. Parts of Chicago
are already, already running low on intensive care beds. They have some of
the lowest numbers of available ICU beds in the whole state.
And it`s not for lack of trying. This is time lapse footage of the largest
convention center in North America, Chicago`s McCormick Convention Center,
being converted into a 3,000 bed field hospital, for coronavirus patients
And more field hospitals are coming as the Army Corps of Engineers is
working to convert and reopen shuttered hospitals to care for COVID-19
patients. But it is an open question right now. Is Chicago this great
American city, up to what they are about to hit, in terms of their apex
patient load? And what can the rest of the nation do to help? As they face
I have the person to ask, the only person to ask.
Joining us now for the interview, I`m honored to say, is the mayor of the
great city of Chicago, Lori Lightfoot.
Madam Mayor, I know how precious your time is right now. Thank you for
making time to be with us tonight.
MAYOR LORI LIGHTFOOT (D), CHICAGO, ILLINOIS: Sure, of course.
MADDOW: Let me first ask, that is a brief look of some of the things going
on in Cook County and in Chicago. Let me ask you if I said anything there
that struck you as wrong or wrong-headed?
LIGHTFOOT: No, it`s a – I think the landscape that you portrayed is
accurate but I will say in answer to your question, we are, and we have
been, and we will be up to the task.
It`s daunting. There is no question about it. But we`ve got a great team on
the ground. We`ve got really historic cooperation among all levels of
And we`ve got a plan that we`ve been executing on now, for over a month.
And it`s starting to show results. I`m happy to describe that.
LIGHTFOOT: Go ahead.
MADDOW: Yes, I was going to say, I would love to hear about that plan, and
I – the thing that I have learned in recent day, as part of the reason I
wanted to talk to you tonight is, I am concerned to see the – that heading
into this, Chicago had such a low proportion of ICU beds available relative
to its population and its other hospital beds. I know that`s been part of
what you`ve been trying to address.
LIGHTFOOT: Yes, we`ve been looking at the ICU bed vacancy and availability
literally every day. So, we are looking at the ICU number overall. We`re
also looking at the ICU beds occupied either by COVID, diagnosed patients,
or patients under investigation for having COVID.
And we`ve been really hovering now for about two weeks, between about 75
percent and 77 percent. We`ve seen a slight uptick, in a number of COVID
beds occupied, that`s about, in the low 40s, but we feel like, particularly
with the other resources that we brought online, whether it is the
McCormick Place field hospital that you`ve identified, or the other thing
that we`ve done is we stood up about 2,600 hotel beds, so that people that
don`t need acute care, but still need either quarantining, or isolation,
and can`t go back to their homes, they now have a place to go as well.
So all of those things working together, we believe will help us meet the
surge that we`re anticipating.
MADDOW: In terms of the staffing levels, one of the things that we`ve seen
in New York, and now increasingly in New Jersey, we`ve seen some reference
to it in other hard-hit places including parts of Georgia, and Louisiana,
is that even when the supplies are there, even when the beds are there,
there is concern about whether the staff is there.
MADDOW: Both because the staff is working flat-out because they themselves
are at very high risk of infection, but also because the patient loads are
just bigger than the health care worker corps, that stands in a normal
time, could handle. Do you anticipate that Chicago will essentially be
trying to draft people from other parts of the country, or to bring back
recently-retired personnel, to come join the front lines?
LIGHTFOOT: We already have. We put out that all call several weeks ago, and
particularly for the McCormick Place, the alternate care facility, we are
taking health care workers from a nearby county, who have been furloughed,
and bringing them on.
It`s the senior medical leadership there are both retired, but also
furloughed, executives from other health care systems, that have been
working now, for I guess two weeks, really setting up what the staffing
model is going to be, and then recruiting in a way that doesn`t deplete or
cannibalize existing hospital and health care workers, but bringing
So whether you`re retired, whether you`re close to graduation, we are
looking for everybody in between those two extremes, to come and help work
in Chicago. So, we have been issuing that call now for some time.
MADDOW: Madam Mayor, let me also ask you about the racial disparities that
are evident in a lot of cities –
MADDOW: – every place that is reporting racial data is reporting racial
disparities in terms of African-Americans in particular having a higher
infection rate and a higher death rate. The numbers in Chicago are just
incredibly stark. I know you talked about this, and how concerning this is,
and how upsetting it is, and just breath taking to see these disparities.
What`s your plan to try to get to the bottom of why it is, and how to
LIGHTFOOT: Well, we have a sense of why it is. We`ve been talking for some
years now and more recently since I`ve been mayor, talking about the income
health care, life expectancy disparities that are really plaguing black and
brown communities all over Chicago.
So, we know that, for example, the rate of diabetes, heart disease, upper
respiratory illnesses, all of those things are exponentially magnified
throughout black and brown community, and this virus attacks those
underlying conditions with a vengeance. So while it is absolutely shocking
and it is, I think I`ve had some of my roughest days as mayor once I
learned what these disparities are. The fact that black folks are dying
seven times the rate of any other demographic, that`s a hard thing to even
wrap your mind around.
But what we`re doing is this. Number one, we`re making sure that we`re
being very public about the data. We need people to know this. There is a
myth in black Chicago that black folks can`t get coronavirus. And we are
doing everything that we can to disabuse people of that notion.
Number two, we are putting together what we`re calling a racial equity
rapid response team. So, it`s a combination of health care worker, public
health, street outreach, and local stakeholders, in a hyper-local focus, to
make sure that we are going deep into communities, we`re reaching people
where they are, connecting them up with resources, doing aggressive check
well-being calls, and visits, so that we understand the magnitude of the
impact, and then we give people themselves tools to help them, social
distance, tools to help them get access to health care and other things
that we know are necessary to really address this hideous disparity among
black and brown communities in Chicago.
MADDOW: Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, you have a bear of an epidemic on
your hands, in your city. I have incredible faith in you, from everything
that I know of you and from watching you lead in this time, your city is
lucky to have you. Please keep us apprised. Please let us know what you
need the country to know about how things are going in Chicago in these
LIGHTFOOT: I appreciate it, thank you, Rachel. Take care of yourself.
MADDOW: All right. Much more – I will do. You too, Mayor.
All right. Much more to get to tonight. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAUREEN MUECKE, ALABAMA PHYSICIAN: This is Dr. Maureen Muecke. I am at work
right now, started at 8:00, I`m doing a 24-hour shift. As you can see the
helicopter is behind me, we had a patient who came in for shortness of
breath, no fever, and he went downhill big time, and we are having to
transfer him out.
We had one patient in the hospital with COVID-19 and one in isolation that
is waiting for the results.
We are a small rural hospital. We have no ventilators. And we`re seeing
already the infiltration finally of the virus into the rural areas of
Alabama. So we`ll just see how it goes, and we`ll keep our fingers crossed
and keep doing the best we can for the community and the surrounding
The surrounding communities now are also seeing an increased number of
COVID-19 cases. So we`re probably going to be seeing many, many more in the
next few weeks here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That is Dr. Maureen Muecke, an emergency medicine doctor in
The coronavirus epidemic has been raging in New York, and in New Jersey,
and in Chicago, and other dense urban place, but it really is spreading in
America`s rural areas, too. It is in three out of four American hospitals
now. It`s in two-thirds of America`s rural counties.
About 140 miles northeast of Dr. Muecke`s E.R., in Evergreen, we`ve got
something else today from Alabama, from East Alabama Medical Center. This
shows the hospital staff at East Alabama Medical Center celebrating their
first coronavirus patient who improved enough that he could be taken off a
It`s a 48-year-old man. He had been in the ICU for more than two weeks. And
he`s off the vent. And that is – that is great news. It`s amazing footage.
But he is the first, and so far, the only patient they have had at East
Alabama Medical Center who has gone on to a ventilator, and lived and been
able to come off it. He`s number one.
As “The New York Times” reported today, the rural epidemic in America is
exploding. This week, the case rate in rural areas was more than double
what it was six days earlier. Governors of rural states who think it is not
coming there are wrong. There is a rural coronavirus epidemic just taking
off. This is a 50-state problem.
It means as this moves into – it moves into in significant quantity, to
places that have rural hospitals, that may not be well-equipped, that may
not have good transfer facilities in terms of dealing with large numbers of
patient, all coping with the exact same illness, there`s a whole new circle
of head – circle of hell ahead for us in this country in terms of how we
strain our health care resources. That is ahead in terms of rural America.
But right now, in the first hit, worst-hit places in America, there have
been some tentative glimmers of hope that maybe the epidemic in the
country`s worst hit spots may be leveling off. We talked about some of that
data at the top of the show tonight. It looks from a layman`s perspective
like it is reason to hope but let`s talk to an expert. Let`s talk to an
epidemiologist about whether or not things are getting better in the worst
hit places in the country. That`s next.
MADDOW: Joining us now, Dr. Michael Mina, assistant professor of
epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health.
Dr. Mina, thank you so much for making time to be with us tonight. I`ve
been really looking forward to the chance to talk with you.
DR. MICHAEL MINA, CENTER FOR COMMUNICABLE DISEASE DYNAMICS AT HARVARD
UNIVERSITY: Absolutely. Happy to be here.
MADDOW: So I was hoping you can help us get some perspective on the numbers
that we`re seeing out of the worst-hit place in the country, out of New
York. I`m conscious of the fact I`m just a layman looking at these things
and that I have my own emotional investment in wanting things to get
But when you look at these numbers that we have been talking about tonight
that show what might be the start of a decrease in new hospitalizations in
New York, do you think we`re looking too hard for a glimmer of hope there
or do you see that as significant?
MINA: I see this as significant. Certainly, it matches the expectation
that`s we have. So the real sort of stay-at-home type of social distancing
really began to take shape in New York City in particular in the last – in
the last couple of weeks and really in the last week in New York City. And
so, we anticipated this would be the week, two to three weeks after that
that we`d really start to see the benefits of those social distancing
efforts start to take shape, and I think that that`s exactly what you`re
We`re seeing because usually there is this two-week lag between when those
distance – social distancing measures occur and when we actually see the
effects of them and that`s really where we are now. So, I think this is a
glimmer of hope and not just an aberration at the moment.
MADDOW: Is it an even more direct measure of the effect of social
distancing policies to look at the increases from day to day in new cases?
I mean, New York has also started to be in single digits day after day in
terms of the percentage of increase from day to day in new cases.
Presumably that`s an even more direct metric for counting essentially the
effect of the interventionist policies that you`re describing.
MINA: That`s exactly right. So looking at the change from day to day, this
is a very – this is a good trend to see and I think that we can – we can
take hope that this is a real trend. There are a lot of things that could
be changing that might also be playing into those types of trends, changing
– changes in test practices and things along those lines, but in general,
I think the slope downward fits what we`re expecting, and it is suggestive
that the social distancing measures that really are being held on to I
think pretty well in metropolitan areas in particular, I think that we are
seeing the benefits of those play out.
MADDOW: So even as we are seeing positive trends in hospitalization and in
new case numbers, which is the two graphs we just showed, the death numbers
are as bad as ever, literally. I mean, New York hit a record number of –
record number of deaths in 24 hours yesterday and then beat that number
Does it make sense that the outbreak could be slowing? That those other
positive measures that you described could be evident even while deaths are
still going up so steady?
MINA: Absolutely. This is, unfortunately, another expected type of data to
see. So deaths tend to lag more than new cases. So the numbers of new cases
entering in, if you stop people from interacting, you`ll see the fruits of
those labors play out a couple weeks later. But death often takes two,
three, four, maybe more weeks before it occurs after somebody becomes
So, unfortunately, there was an exponential increase in cases before the
social distancing measures took place and we`re going to potentially
continue seeing those increased cases that were happening in transmission
events, we`re going to see the end result of a lot of those, which is death
happening three or four weeks after those events occurred and that`s why I
think we might still continue to see increasing numbers of deaths this week
and maybe even into next week.
MADDOW: Dr. Michael Mina, your perspective is invaluable. Thank you. Dr.
Mina of Harvard School of Public Health – really appreciate your time
MADDOW: We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Thank you for being with us tonight. That`s going to do it for us
for this evening but I`ll see you again tomorrow night.
And now it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.
Good evening, Lawrence.
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Copyright 2020 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are
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