Ireland Gov. TRANSCRIPT: 4/16/20, The Rachel Maddow Show
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, “ALL IN”: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
The five largest coronavirus outbreaks in the world are number five,
Germany, number four, France, number three is world is Italy, number two is
Spain, and number one, of course, is the United States. But our epidemic is
so huge, at this point, our epidemic is larger than all the other top five
The United States as of tonight stands at 667,000 known cases of
coronavirus. More than 32,000 of our fellow Americans have now died from
coronavirus. And the toll has risen so staggeringly fast.
I mean, February 15th was two months ago, there were zero American deaths
from coronavirus two months ago. Last month, March 15th, there were less
than 100 deaths nationwide. Today, we`re over 32,000 Americans dead. It
went from less than 100 a month ago, to more than 32,000 now, and no end in
sight. One of the country`s in Europe that has done fairly well, relatively
speaking, in terms of its epidemic, even with what else is going on in the
continent is the nation of Ireland.
Ireland and the U.K. both got their first cases around the same time, but
the U.K. was slow, like we were, to put in place policies designed to keep
people apart, and to keep the virus from spreading. The U.K. government had
some strange ideas about maybe it not being important to keep people apart
from one another, and it not being important to slow the spread of the
Because of their slowness, the U.K. now has the sixth largest outbreak on
earth. Over 100,000 cases in the U.K. over 13,000 dead already. But their
trajectory is terrible. Even as the other bad cases, the other bad
epidemics in other parts of Europe start to come down the top science
adviser to the U.K. government warned this week that the U.K. may end up
having the worst epidemic in Europe, before it`s all over, because their
trajectory is still up and up and up.
And that does seem pretty directly linked to how slow they were to start
their stay-at-home orders, which is an ominous thing, given the fact that
in our country, there are still places that have rising numbers of cases,
particularly in farm country, in the middle of the country, where they
don`t have stay-at-home orders even today. Even as all of those states
start to see their numbers rise.
We know what happens when we do that. We know it from watching other
countries deal with it. We know it from watching it happen in our own
country. We`re making those mistakes now.
But in Ireland, as opposed to the U.K., they`ve got, you know, the U.K. has
over 100,000 cases, Israel has less than 14,000 cases. The Irish people
have suffered fewer than 500 deaths so far. And 486 is still terrible. But
compared to their neighboring countries, they`re doing better. It`s because
they moved quickly to keep people apart, to slow the spread of the virus.
You might remember Ireland literally canceling St. Patrick`s Day, canceling
St. Patrick`s Day celebrations back in the middle of March. It seemed
unimaginable until it happened. But now, in retrospect, it seems like it
was of course the right thing to do, and Ireland probably saved thousands
of lives and a huge escalation in the ultimate size of their epidemic, just
by doing that.
Well, today, interesting development in Ireland. Today, Ireland`s chief
medical officer announced some good news about what they`ve done so far in
that country but also some very serious news about what they`re going to be
doing moving ahead. The chief medical officer of Ireland today put out this
Quote: The first task for Ireland was to suppress the virus in the
population at large. We are increasingly confident that we are achieving
this. All of our efforts now need to be on extinguishing COVID-19 in our
community residential settings, including nursing homes.
I mentioned that Ireland has fewer than 500 deaths so far nationwide. The
official death toll there as of today is 486 deaths, which is, as I said,
you know, a tragedy for all 486 of those deaths, it is a good news
statistic compared to other European countries, in compared to where the
United States is, and is heading.
But the Irish government isn`t just looking at their death toll in
aggregate. They are counting where people have been dying inside Ireland.
And so the Irish government, also knows, an has announced, that of the 486
deaths, they`ve had nationwide, more than 250 of them are nursing home
deaths, more than half of their national total.
And so, having had pretty good success, tackling big picture population-
wide measures, to keep the epidemic overall as small as possible, they are
keeping those measures in place, the Irish prime minister announcing the
measures that they put in place to slow the spread of the virus, it will be
in place until May, but they`re confident they`re having success and
keeping it in place because they know that it`s working.
But as they are keeping that in place, they now have a new priority number
one. They are now refocusing their entire national response to try to save
the most lives now, by focusing on the place where the most lives are being
lost now, by focusing on nursing homes. The prime minister announcing that
the government will be providing to nursing homes additional funding,
additional staffing, they`re also making nursing homes priority sites for
coronavirus testing. Nursing home staff and patients will have priority
access to testing above other population groups.
They are also, as a government, redeploying senior staff from the Irish
medical service, to improve infectious disease control measures in nursing
homes nationwide. And as of yesterday, they have announced terms of a new
agreement, in which the government of Ireland is asking health workers who
are currently working in hospitals and clinics, and other places in the
Irish health service, they`re asking health professionals to please
volunteer to start working in the nation`s nursing homes instead, even the
privately-owned ones, where regular medical staff from the National Health
Service wouldn`t usually work.
The government will pay the health workers salaries for working in nursing
homes. The government has agreed to provide all of the PPE, all of the
personal protective equipment those health workers will need to work in
nursing home environments, and this new deal, just announced by the Irish
government, is not just for doctors and nurse, although it is for them, the
government is also asking for health care assistance and cleaning staff,
and even catering staff to volunteer to do the same.
More than half of their deaths in their country from this epidemic are
their elders, in nursing homes of all kinds, including those run by private
businesses, and charities. But the government recognizes that that`s where
they`re losing the most of their citizens, to this virus. And so,
therefore, it has become priority one, for that national government, to
surge resources, and staff and expertise into those facilities, to break
existing rules about who works where, to take responsibility for paying the
people who need to be in there to do it, to repurpose resources from other
places, to get those places in the front of mind. To put those places in
the bull`s eye in terms of where resources are being targeted and where the
most energy is being expended, to try to save the most people who are at
the most risk of dying. That`s what they are now doing in Ireland.
You know, we could do that. Just imagine. We could do that, too. And it
would make just as much sense to do it here as it would there, as it would
anywhere. Where are you losing the most lives? Where are you slated to lose
the most lives, as this thing moves forward?
Focus there. It save the most lives. We could do that. I don`t think we`re
going to do it, at the national level, not with this government. The Trump
administration at this point is refusing to even monitor the situation in
American nursing homes. Let`s alone provide them resources to fight this
Hell, they`re not even giving them individualized guidance on how to fight
coronavirus. They`re just letting nursing homes figure it out themselves.
You know, good luck, and maybe not even that.
But I know some states are starting to try to take this seriously. So maybe
individual states could try that Irish model. Maybe groups of counties
could try this together. Maybe small consortiums of states could get
together, and try this regionally. If that`s easier than individual states
trying to do it on their own, or individual municipalities and counties
trying to do it on their own, I don`t know how the economies of scale work
here, whether this is easier to do on a smaller scale or a larger one.
But we`ve got try something, because it can`t just keep going like this.
Nursing homes can`t be left to just do this on their own. Today, NBC News
up dated its count on deaths in American nursing homes.
The NBC News count as of tonight finds that 5,670 Americans have died of
coronavirus in nursing homes, that we know of. But that`s only based on
data from 29 of the 50 states. There`s 21 states who didn`t provide any
count to contribute to that number at all. And the number was still well
over 5,000 dead.
NBC`s data indicates that in New York state alone, it appears that more
than 2 percent of all residents in nursing homes have already been killed
by this virus, more than 2 percent of New York residents in nursing homes,
2.3 percent appear to have already been killed by this thing.
How do you think that number`s going to go? How high do you think that
number is going to go in your state? How good of a state is your job doing
Today, the Pennsylvania state government started providing breakout data on
deaths in nursing homes specifically. It`s the first time they divided up
their data that way, and their numbers show that more than half the total
deaths in the state of Pennsylvania from coronavirus have been in nursing
homes so far, 52 percent of the state`s deaths, which is terrible. It`s
But honestly, it gives you a place to focus. It tells you where to work,
right? It lets you know, clearly, where you need to start focusing, if you
want to save the most lives. Look at – look at the front web page of any
local paper in any corner of the country. Just pick one, at random, any
corner of the country that you please.
Look at the smallest paper you can find. If it is a daily paper, you will
see the same story. Look for example at “The Times Tribune” from Scranton,
Pennsylvania. News there today of one nursing home in Scranton called the
Jewish Home of Eastern Pennsylvania, they`ve had 12 residents die in the
past nine days.
Well, if the country wants to save lives, in the state of Pennsylvania, if
the state wants to save lives, if the community around Scranton wants to
save lives, hey, bull`s eye, there`s a place to start. Do the most work
where you can do the most good.
We know there is a type of institution where most American deaths are
coming from now. That`s where we need the most energy, the most innovation,
the most resources, the most help. And don`t get mad at the nursing homes.
Certainly don`t get depressed by the situation in the nursing homes and
despair and decide nothing can be done.
We`re Americans. We`re American citizens, alive in the middle of this
crisis. This is our pandemic. These are our lives. This is our
When you know that the most numbers of Americans, the highest numbers of
Americans are dying in the same type of institution everywhere, it means we
need to focus on getting help into those institutions. It doesn`t mean that
we write them off and say oh, yes, I guess everybody`s going to die there,
not in our lifetime, no the in our country, not if we have anything to do
We reported a few days ago on a soldier`s home in rural Louisiana. Do you
remember the statistics about the highest death rate per capita in the
whole country being in St. John Parish in Louisiana? St. John Parish, that
county, having the highest per capita death rate from coronavirus in the
country, that was driven by the fact that more than 40 residents had died
in a single veterans home, in a town called Reserve, Louisiana, 44 dead.
Today, in “The Times-Picayune” newspaper, that veteran`s home is
celebrating two things. Number one they have celebrating that they have had
their first two day stretch without a death. They haven`t had a death in
two days. Also, they think they might be able to get the rest of the
residents in that home tested, sometime soon. Soon. That`s the other thing
I mean they`ve just been told they might get enough tests to test the other
residents, in a home where 44 residents have already died. If you were in a
living facility where 44 people had already died, you would think that you
would be a priority for testing. Not only in St. John Parish. Not only in
Louisiana. But in the country, right?
I mean, I`m glad they are getting those tests, but you can see how bad that
is, right? If a facility is closing in on 4,000 deaths among its residents
doesn`t qualify as a priority site for testing, everybody else in that
facility for weeks, what are we doing in this country? What are we focusing
on instead of that? Why aren`t we trying to keep the most people alive? Why
aren`t we trying to save the most vulnerable?
Last night, “The New York Times” reported on a facility in Andover, New
Jersey, where on Monday, this week, police got an anonymous tip about a
body being stored in a shed outside a large nursing home in this small
town. And when police turned up, they did not find a body at the shed, but
they did go inside and they found 17 bodies filed up inside the facility.
That facility has reportedly had 68 people die recently, including two of
And the pace of death in that facility in New Jersey was more than the
institution could keep up with, in terms of getting people into the morgue,
getting people out of the morgue, and into funeral homes, they couldn`t
handle the pace of the epidemic there, just ripping through that facility,
of elderly and fragile people. There are still hundreds of older people
living inside that facility, right now, as we speak.
And today, the local police chief, and the mayor of that small town in New
Jersey talked to reporters about what has landed in their town, what on
god`s earth they think that they might be able to do about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC DANIELSON, CHIEF OF POLICE, ANDOVER, NEW JERSEY: Monday evening, we
were – or Monday afternoon, we had received an anonymous complaint
regarding a body that had been in a shed. Upon coming here, to determine if
that was true, the body had already been removed from the shed and placed
back within the – inside the facility. In order to help them, as they were
being overcome with apparently, it would be by the numerous amount of
bodies, we facilitated a transfer of 13 bodies from the facility.
It was overwhelming, I think, for the people that were inside, the staff.
The staff was overwhelmed by the number of bodies that were becoming
MAYOR MICHAEL LENSAK, ANDOVER, NEW JERSEY: What we`re doing is asking the
state to step up and help us out in any way we can, because we don`t have
the staff to be able to come in and do anything with them. I mean our
township, we have 12 police officers, and a town staff of maybe a dozen
people. So, none of them are medically trained to go in and assist.
I give kudos to our volunteer EMS squad that came in and removed 13 bodies,
the other day, to assist. There are 17 bodies, they were left – they kept
four bodies in the facility, that`s what they`re capable of handling, but
the overflow was taken to Newton hospital.
DANIELSON: We`re on understanding that they`re understaffed. We would like
to get them some help staffing-wise. We understand there are more
additional resources needed in the sense of PPE.
Again, as the mayor indicated before, PPE was dropped off yesterday by the
county officer of emergency management, so we want to help facilitate in
any way we can more additional PPE. We will gladly accept donations of PPE
at our police stations and make sure they get to the facility and in order
to help the staff members who are truly, again, like nurses at hospitals,
it`s the same type of atmosphere here, working the front lines with this
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: They got a tip about at least one body being put out by the shed
outside. The police showed up, and ended up hauling 13 bodies, they left
four more behind, they just took the overflow bodies, they had apparently
been 68 deaths at that facility already, and the way, and this is happening
right now, in the United States of America, and the way we are dealing with
this as a country, is to hope that Good Samaritans with spare PPE, maybe
you work at an auto paint shop, and you`ve got a respirator you could loan
Regular, the hope – the way we`re dealing with this, is that we`re hoping
that regular citizens with spare PPE might be able to drop off some spare
materials they have on hand, at the local county office. And then the local
cops will then try to drop that stuff off at the door, or maybe they will
bring it the next time they get called about the bodies stacking up there
I mean, this is where – this is the kind of facility where Americans are
dying in huge numbers. And that one`s in New Jersey. But it`s all over the
country. I mean, in Massachusetts today, Belmont, Massachusetts, a facility
considered to be a very well-run facility, a five-star facility, they had
reported 13 deaths as of Saturday. As of today, there are 27, right?
You can be a poorly-run facility, you can be a well-run facility. That is
ultimately going to make a difference, but even in well-run facilities,
Americans are dying in huge numbers in concentrated places that we can see
and identify and help if we choose.
I mean, where we are counting the deaths in nursing homes, it turns out
that nursing home deaths are often the majority of people who are dying in
a particular region or a particular state. Mostly, though, we`re just not
The federal government is not tracking this. And if the federal government
isn`t tracking this, then, you know, the state or even local communities
are going to have to figure out a way to help these places, to get medical
staff in there. Not all a-lot of medical facilities have a lot of medical
staff. But they need them now. They need medical staff added to the regular
roda of people who they`ve got working in those facilities.
They need medical help. They need protocols for how to handle this right
and supplies to be able to fulfill those protocols. They need priority and
regular access to testing. They need to be visible and connected to the
larger health care response that we are seeing in the hospitals, but that
we are not seeing in these places.
When the police chief there, from that town, where they have had 68 dead,
where they had to come in and haul out 14 bodies of overflow from the
morgue this week, because they got an anonymous tip about bodies stacking
up, when that police chief said that these people are just as much on the
front line of this pandemic as the nurses and the doctors who are we are
applauding every night from our window sills, that`s exactly right, except
they, in some cases, are dealing with more death, with less equipment, with
less training, and with no visibility, and no help.
I mean, the federal government should be doing this. They`re not. We can`t
wait for them to start doing it while we let this many Americans die every
day. And some places are trying.
The Democratic congressman who represents that part of New Jersey, or that
facility is, where we just heard from the mayor and the police chief, he
says that when he heard, when he got a call in his office, asking that
facility to please source body bags, he says he asked FEMA, he called FEMA,
to inquire about please, maybe sending in some national guard medics to
that facility. That`s an option. FEMA does not seem to have reacted to that
request. But that request was reportedly made.
In New York state, New York`s governor, Andrew Cuomo, has this week started
to announce every day the number of deaths specifically in nursing homes
when he announces the total state death toll. He goes out of his way to say
how many of those were in nursing homes. He is starting to get more and
more pointed questions about nursing home death tolls and which facilities
need the most help.
Maryland and Virginia, the governors in those two state, one Democrat, and
one Republican, have formed state task forces, joined forces there, in
those two adjoining states, to form these multi-agency task forces,
including the national guard to go into nursing homes to try to assess
crisis situations, to try to prioritize supplies into those facilities, to
try to organize help.
The mayor of Seattle this week, Seattle has been so hard-hit. This week,
asked firefighters to take over testing in nursing homes, which is one way
of making sure that nursing homes are priority testing sites. Firefighters
had tested first responders in Seattle as priority testing targets and now
she`s asking firefighters to please target nursing homes.
In the great state of Michigan, which has the third largest number of cases
in the country, the governor of Michigan just in the past day, signed a
state-wide executive order that directs nursing homes in Michigan to start
reporting any COVID cases among staff or patients to the health department,
to create separate housing, for residents with coronavirus, to provide PPE
to all employees who are working with any coronavirus patients, to send any
medically unstable patient to the hospital. Her executive order covers a
number of things that nursing homes need to do better and that they need
help with, in order to stop the tide of death through these facilities
where more Americans are dying than in any other place. And that at least
is a start.
We`ll talk with Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer next. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Every day, we report on the numbers of cases and deaths here.
Each number represents a member of our community who has died. There`s no
secret that the city of Detroit has been hit hard.
These containers with the words, short and long-term refrigeration rental
on the side of them, can be seen in the parking lot here at Sinai Grace
Hospital Tuesday. Our cameras there, as crews placed what staff members,
tell me are bodies inside these refrigerated containers from inside the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That`s a local news report from one hospital in Detroit, Michigan,
Hospitals across Detroit have been struggling, with the flood of
coronavirus patient, there has been staffing concern, there`s been PPE
concerns. Overflow facilities have been set up in Detroit.
Michigan has over 29,000 confirmed cases. Today, the state passed 2,000
deaths. That gives Michigan the grim distinction of having the third
highest death toll in the country after New York and New Jersey.
Given that, it is – surreal is not the right word, but close, it`s
remarkable, at least, that this was the scene yesterday outside the
Michigan state capital, Confederate flag-waving, Trump 2020 flag-waving
people out on the street and ultimately blocking traffic in protest of the
Michigan governor having a stay-at-home order in place.
These protesters demanding that the governor just rip the lid off, open it
back up, let folks get back to business as usual, why all this
overreacting? It`s only more than 2,000 dead and counting.
Tonight, in Michigan, Republican state lawmakers are trying to force an end
to the governor`s declaration of the state of emergency. And also four
sheriffs in northern Michigan now say they will not strictly enforce the
governor`s order to try to limit the spread of coronavirus.
Between the scale of the outbreak in Michigan, which is quite significant,
and the political pressure there, and Donald Trump tonight telling states,
basically, it`s up to you guys, do whatever you want, who am I to say, how
– how does Michigan specifically get through this crisis?
If you were the governor of Michigan, how would you proceed through this
Joining us now for the interview, I`m pleased to say, is Michigan Governor
Governor Whitmer, I know you have so much on your plate right now. Thank
you so much for taking time to talk with us.
GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): Yes, glad to be with you, Rachel.
MADDOW: So, I mentioned that your state is it in pretty dire straits in
terms of the scale of your epidemic. You have gone over 2,000 deaths. You
have the third highest death toll in the country.
Can you just give our viewers a sense of where you think you are in terms
of your position on the curve, and what you`re most worried about in terms
of the impact of the epidemic in your state, in the coming weeks?
WHITMER: Sure, so, you know, we have taken an aggressive stay-at-home order
stance, similar to a lot of other states right around us, both Republican-
led and Democratic-led. This is not a partisan issue. COVID-19 does not
respect party lines or state lines, and that`s why we all got to be in this
The – what we`ve seen is the curve looks as though it`s flattening. We`re
pushing the curve down. That means we`re saving lives. That means we`ve
saved our health care system from being completely overrun and inundated.
That means fewer people are getting sick. It comes with a sacrifice. There
is no question. People are – all people are making a sacrifice right now.
But I think the thing that I`m concerned most about, and that I think my
fellow governors are as well, is a resurgence. When you see a – you know,
a political rally, that`s what it was yesterday, a political rally like
that where people aren`t wearing masks and they`re in close quarters and
they are touching one another, you know that that`s precisely what makes
this kind of a disease drag out and expose more people.
People can converge together in Lansing and then they went back out to
their homes across the state of Michigan, you know, the odds are very high
that that`s, they`re spreading COVID-19 along with it. And so, it`s that
kind of irresponsible action that puts us in this situation where we might
have to actually think about extending stay-at-home orders, which is
supposedly what they were protesting.
MADDOW: I know that you have joined a regional plan along with other
Midwestern governors. It`s – you, Michigan, plus Wisconsin, and Minnesota,
Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Illinois, to try to work together, as governors,
in that big region of the country, to work, essentially, with policies that
are copacetic, that makes sense on a regional level, that you`re not
undoing one another`s good work in terms of the way that you proceed.
You guys are a pretty diverse lot. How hard was it to come together of a
group of that size to agree that this is a common cause?
WHITMER: Well, you know, one of the things that I have come to appreciate
in this awfully tough situation is that there are a lot of other governors
who reach out, we share our best practices, our thoughts. We`re listening
to one another, listening to our experts, and sharing that intelligence.
You know, Mike DeWine who is my neighbor to the south in the state of Ohio,
Republican governor, my friend J.B. Pritzker over in Illinois, a Democratic
governor – you know, this group of seven governors, Republican and
Democratic alike, know that our economies are similar, know that we have
shared borders, and it`s important for all of us that we get this right.
If one of us just takes away all of the precautions, and we`re out of this
miraculously, we`re back to normal life, that means COVID-19 is going to
spread, and so a regional approach really made a lot of sense to us. It
doesn`t mean we`re all going to do exactly the same thing at the same
cadence, but we are going to be sharing our practices, how we`re going to
do it, we`re going to be talking regularly to make sure that as we are
determining case load, and testing, and, you know, all of the mitigation
tactics that we`ve – that we`ve been able to pursue, and see what the
numbers mean, that we`re making the best educated decision based on the
best science and always centered around the health of our people.
MADDOW: One of the places in which you are sort of out ahead of your fellow
governors, even regionally, is this executive order that you`ve just issued
about nursing homes, and we`ve been trying to keep the spotlight on nursing
homes, in large part because I – even when I try to talk about other
things, I find myself being unable to think about much else, because I`m so
concerned about what I expect is going to be the ultimate death toll and
what we`re already seeing in terms of the death toll really piling up in
American nursing homes.
This executive order you issued has a number of different components.
You`re mandating that nursing homes report their cases. You`re mandating
that they find a way to separate coronavirus patients from non-coronavirus
patients, and that they indeed may have to send patients to regional hubs
if they`re small enough facilities, that they can`t manage that kind of
separation on their own.
What kind of principals did you consult, what kind of expertise did you
consult to come up with this list of imperatives for nursing homes because
you`re really cutting some new terri – cutting a new path here in a way
that other states haven`t done?
WHITMER: Well, we know that our older populations are, you know, uniquely
at risk here, in this moment. And so, it`s important that we are taking
extra efforts to protect people.
One part of the executive order also is that employees of these nursing
homes can`t get fired if they don`t come to work because they`re ill. That
is an important piece because we know low wage workers who don`t have paid
sick leave and don`t have health care are compelled to go into work for
fear of losing their jobs. And that`s one of the contributing factors to
the spread of COVID-19, and in a nursing home, it`s particularly dangerous.
And so, we`ve been working with our experts. We`ve been working with, you
know, people that work in our nursing homes to see how – what actions do
we need to protect this uniquely vulnerable population in our state.
MADDOW: Governor, I have to ask you, and I`m sure you know it is coming. I
know it is probably all the national discussion about you, it`s probably
been a distraction while you`re dealing with this crisis in your state, but
as Joe Biden enters into his – the phase of his candidacy in which he
needs to be thinking about a running mate, a lot of people have talked
If Vice President Biden asked you to be his running mate, would you say
WHITMER: You know, Rachel, I`m not going to – I`m not going to even go
there with you. I`ve got my hands full with COVID-19, and trying to save
lives in the state of Michigan. This is the job that I worked for two years
I am grateful, even on these hardest days where there`s rallies outside my
window, where I`m worried about the health of the people rallying and I`m
on the – on the Zoom with, you know, health care providers who are telling
me about cold storage, and efforts that they have to do to – the herculean
efforts that they`re making to save lives.
And so, I`m not thinking about politics right now, I am focused 100 percent
trying to do the best I can as the governor of Michigan, and I appreciate
your effort, but I`m not going there with you.
MADDOW: I hear you. And I absolutely respect you for it, and more broadly.
Governor – Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, you really do have your
hands full, Governor, in terms of the serious situation in your state. Come
back any time, anything that you want us to help get the word out
nationwide about what`s happening in Michigan, and what you need, just come
back and let us know.
WHITMER: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. Much more ahead here tonight, including checking in with
nurses and doctors in one of our hardest-hit states, who have a take on
this that you might not expect. That`s coming up next. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t think anybody expects to go to the hospital, to
end up in the ICU, and not to come home. We`ve seen certain families where
everyone has been affected, you know, every member of the family has either
gotten the virus or multiple members have died.
DIRECTOR OF NURSING, NEW ORLEANS EAST HOSPITAL MEDICAL SURGICAL UNIT: New
Orleans east is normally a very small community hospital. With COVID-19,
our world has been turned upside down. Patients that we`re seeing are very,
Unfortunately, we`re seeing a lot of patients, they are not getting better.
We`re seeing them get worse and they die. And that`s the reality of it.
We`re having to hold their hand, and be that family member with them as
This is bringing out the best in the nurses. Because their compassion is
just, it`s a beautiful thing to see. Nurses calling to say, hey, do you
need me to come and work? Do you need me tonight? I may not be able to do a
full shift but I can do four hours just to help out.
They don`t care, I work in this department or I normally do this, just
where do you need me? And then just ready to go to work. They want to make
sure these patients are well taken care of, because we all live in the
community. These are our neighbors, our friends, that are in these beds,
and we don`t want to see anyone else succumb to it.
EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT CHARGE NURSE, UNIVERSITY OF MEDICAL CENTER, NEW
ORLEANS: Taking care of patients that are in the hospital, are intubated,
and, you know, on a ventilator, not doing so well, that`s when it becomes
really heart breaking because now you don`t have family members that are at
the bedside with these people, it gets personal, very sad times. You don`t
know if this is the day that you`re going to contract this virus, or if
this is the day that you`ll be personally affected by it with one of your
DR. SCOTT MACKEY, LCMC HEALTH, NEW ORLEANS, LA: It`s pretty terrible, to be
totally honest. Like the entire world is flipped upside down. So before, we
would see, you know, one isolation patient, maybe every couple of days in
the E.R., now we`re seeing every single isolation patient every day in the
E.R. We`re using a month`s worth of PPE in one day right now.
So before, we would use 2,500 masks in a month, and now we`re using 2,500
masks in a day, as a hospital system. You can see the nurses text all of
the patient care people, even housekeeping, the same, the same boat which
is kind of nice everybody is, all of a sudden, on the same, very strange
team, that they have done a lot of things to work together, to get PPE
groups that they`re sharing stuff with each other, they`re buying their own
supplies that they need.
That`s what America needs to do in their health care system is, get all of
those supply lines working, get all of this testing that keeps being talked
about to actually function.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That`s what America needs to do to support their health care system
is get all of those supply lines working, get all of this testing that
keeps being talked about and actually functioning. A snapshot from New
Orleans from nurses and doctors in the hard hit state of Louisiana where
yesterday and the day before were the two highest daily death tolls yet.
We`ve been trying to stay in touch with lots of front line health providers
all over the country to bring their first person perspectives about what`s
going right and what`s going wrong.
The last thing you heard there from Dr. Scott Mackey in New Orleans, when
he said we need to get all of this testing that keeps being talked about
actually functioning, that`s what America needs to do to support our health
care system, it turns out there is another physician like Dr. Mackey in New
Orleans, who happens to be in a really influential position, who happens to
have a really good idea about how to make a specific part of that happen.
That good idea and that doctor are here next.
MADDOW: As the White House continues to push out fantasy happy talk about
how ready the country is to open back up, while a state like South Dakota
still doesn`t even have a stay-at-home order despite the fact that they`ve
got a huge cluster of more than 700 cases, emanating from a single meat
packing plant, while the idea of testing of everyone in America remains a
fantasy, let alone then tracing the contacts of every positive case, while
the reality of raging American epidemic continues unabated and the White
House continues to pretend it`s all under control and we`re about to get
A not so modest proposal has been put forth in the Journal of the American
Medical Association. Quote: The U.S. should consider suspending the first
year of medical school for one year and giving the incoming 20,000 medical
students the opportunity to join a national service program for public
health. The program should begin at the start of July, incoming medical
students should spend the month in online training in infectious disease
epidemiology, infectious disease control and high risk setting, and
In August, students should deploy to state and local public health
departments to enhance the capacity to support a test, trace, track and
quarantine strategy. The federal government should fund this project as a
national service effort with a salary for the students and health coverage.
Along with testing and tracing, the medical students should be deployed to
nursing homes and prisons where coronavirus is, of course, tearing through
those populations absolutely unabated.
It`s a novel idea, but one that seems oddly rational given the fact that we
don`t really know what the people who would otherwise be first-year medical
students are going to be doing this fall anyway. Doesn`t this seem like
kind of the perfect thing to apply them to?
Joining us now is Dr. Joshua Sharfstein. He`s one of the authors of that
article in “The Journal of American Medical Association”. He`s a public
health professor at Johns Hopkins.
Professor, thanks very much for being here. Appreciate your time.
DR. JOSHUA SHARFSTEIN, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY VICE DEAN FOR PUBLIC HEALTH
PRACTICE : Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: I am just a layman observing these things and reading the news
every day, and trying to understand what`s happening. But it seems to me
from my admitted position of ignorance that we really do need a kind of
public health corps, a public health pseudo-army to do really labor
intensive work both in terms of infectious disease control and the kind of
contact-tracing that really is data-driven, you know, phone work and
computer work to get this thing under control.
Is that your sense in terms of our national need for manpower here and why
would this be the right group of people to do it?
SHARFSTEIN: Absolutely. What we need to do is slow the spread of the virus
and one way we`ve done that so far is through this extreme social
But if we`re going to ever be able to open up, you know, absent a
transformative treatment or vaccine, we`re going to have to be able to slow
the spread of the virus without shutting everything down and the way you do
that is find the people who are sick as quick as possible through testing.
We make sure that they isolate and give them support to isolate themselves.
You find their contacts and before their contacts become infectious, you
quarantine them and give them support to be able to stay in quarantine and
that all takes people. It takes resources, and it`s a huge commitment but
one that we can do.
It probably will take about 100,000 people in the United States and a down
payment on that number could be medical students who volunteer to do this.
We also think other kinds of students, public health students, but also
people from affected communities could be doing it because really, we`re
going to need a tremendous work force and a National Health Service program
for public health do you remember a way to do that.
MADDOW: And what kinds of entities would do the right kind of training for
folks to do this sort of thing? We`ve seen in Massachusetts a big effort to
hire up 1,000 people to do contact tracing. That`s the state in partnership
with the big, non-governmental organization that has the history of doing
this, particularly in developing countries abroad.
If we were going to try to do this sort of thing nationwide, is it a
federal agency that we will be well-positioned to do this training or would
you expect medical schools would be the right place to train the cadre of
people that you`d need to do this kind of work.
SHARFSTEIN: Well, I think public schools will play a big role in the
training and then you`d have a national service program and people could
deploy to different places. They could be helping to staff partners in
health, which is a great organization in Massachusetts or local health
departments or state health departments, depending on the strategy that is
chosen but you`d have, like, a trained work force ready to go to do all
kinds of work, not just finding individuals and figuring out their contacts
but talking about – talking to them about the importance of staying
isolated and quarantined and also, meeting their needs.
We don`t want people to say they`ll stay at home but really got to get out
and get food. We got to figure a way to get them food. In some cases,
people may need some income support to be able to stay at home. It`s money
well-worth spending because what we`re doing is stopping the virus from
passing from person to person.
MADDOW: Dr. Sharfstein, I only got about 30 seconds here, but let me ask
you one important question, I have lost my faith that the federal
government and that national efforts are going to come together in time
here. Does this kind of idea you`re talking about scale so that it could be
done by individual states or small consortiums of states?
SHARFSTEIN: It could. It could be done that way. Of course, like many
things, it would be better if it were federal, but if that`s not in the
cards, a group of states could figure out how to do that.
And I think that would help because you would get a lot of people well-
trained, ready to serve and play this important role that we really need
MADDOW: Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, public health professor at Johns Hopkins –
thank you for being here and talking about this idea. It`s really
SHARFSTEIN: My pleasure.
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: I want to tell you tomorrow night, we`re going to be joined by
Governor J.B. Pritzker of Illinois, who among other things has recently
been involved in a pseudo secret effort this week to fly chartered planes
full of medical supplies into Illinois basically under the radar in order
to evade the federal government, so the federal government wouldn`t steal
those supplies, like they have from other states.
We`re going to talk with Governor Pritzker about that and lots more
tomorrow night live. We`ll see you then.
Now it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.
Good evening, Lawrence.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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 content.>
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