Trump visits the AZ mask factory TRANSCRIPT: 5/6/20, The Rachel Maddow Show
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good evening, Chris. Thanks very much, my
friend. Much appreciated. And thanks to you at home for joining us this
hour. Happy to have you with us here tonight. On April 10th, which is
three-and-a-half weeks ago, Vice President Mike Pence spoke at the White
House about a worrying new situation that was emerging in northeastern
Colorado, a town called Greeley, Colorado, which is up sort of near Fort
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: I spoke today to the governor of Colorado,
Jared Polis. We`ve been in contact with Senator Cory Gardner about an
outbreak at a particular meat packing facility in the Colorado area. And
at this time, our team is working with the governor and working with the
senator to ensure that we flow testing resources. At this point, there are
some 14 people hospitalized, maybe 200 to 300 of the workforce have been
impacted. And we spoke about providing those resources this weekend.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: We`ll provide those resources this weekend. We spoke about
providing those resources this weekend. This weekend. Right away. The
vice president, right on it. Right away. We`re all working together on
this. A serious situation, but don`t worry, we got this. We`re on it. As
Vice President Pence said, as he spoke, there were 14 people from that one
workplace who already had been hospitalized.
I should tell you, by that same night, the night that Mike Pence spoke
about that plant in Greeley, Colorado – that evening, two people who
worked at that plant died. But the White House was on it. The plant was
working with the White House directly. I mean, they`re being talked about
publicly by the vice president about how they`re going to surge testing
resources there. The company who runs that plant in Greeley put out a
statement that same day.
They said, quote, “Today, JBS USA announces it is working in partnership
with the U.S. federal government, Colorado Governor Jared Polis, and U.S.
Senator Cory Gardner to secure COVID-19 tests for all of its team members
at the Greeley, Colorado, beef production facility.” Right? Everybody
signing from the same hymnal. We are on it. Yes, we`ve got a problem
here, but we`re on it. We`re going to get testing.
What do they say? Quote, “For all team members,” at the beef production
facility in Greeley. The company did not do that. Despite those
pronouncements from the White House, despite that public promise from the
company. They didn`t test all their workers. They decided they would
close for a while, and then reopen, and start running the plant again
without testing everybody who works there.
And the local reporting from Colorado on what happened there, in terms of
that change in course – this is reporting that we have corroborated with
one federal official. What apparently happened there is that the plant did
initially start to do testing of everybody who worked in that plant. They
started testing managers in Greeley, and supervisors in Greeley, first.
The results of those tests were reportedly over 40 percent positive. And
when they got those results, then, the company decided, actually, they
weren`t going to test all their workers after all. Because imagine what
they would find?
And so they reopened without testing everybody. By the day they reopened,
several days ago, six of their employees were dead. Hundreds known to be
positive. But the company deciding not to test everybody who works there
before they go back in, even though they publicly announced that`s what
they would do, and even though a public order from the county health
department in Weld County, Colorado, told them that they must do that
testing. The company just didn`t.
And I should correct myself there. I said that the JBS plant in Greeley,
Colorado, that has now reopened has had six of its employees die already.
Since we started our updated reporting on this story for tonight`s show, I
need to tell you that a seventh person who works at that plant has now
died. Seven people from the same workplace.
Tonight, we also got in touch with the daughter of a woman who has worked
at that Greeley plant for 11 years. The reason that we got in touch is
because she wanted us to see – she wanted us to show you – a photo of her
mom, from where she is today. Because where her mom is today is in the
intensive care unit at the University of Colorado hospital in Aurora. Her
name in Tinh (ph). She has worked at the JBS beef production facility in
Greeley, Colorado, for the past 11 years. This is the plant where they
just reopened after hundreds of their employees tested positive and then
seven of them died. They reopened without testing the rest of the people
who work there.
We spoke with Tinh`s(ph) daughter today. She told us that Tinh(ph) first
went to her workplace. She went to what she described as the clinic at the
JBS plant to tell them that she felt ill. She was having difficulty
breathing. She ended up taking one day off, because she felt bad. But
then she came back to work. She got worse, though. She was admitted to
the hospital on March 29th. Since soon after her admission, she has been
unconscious, and as you can see, on a ventilator. Again, at the University
of Colorado hospital in Aurora.
I should also tell you that Tinh`s(ph) daughter, who we spoke to tonight,
she just gave birth. She spent time with her mom while her mom was feeling
poorly. The day before her mother was admitted to the hospital in Aurora,
her daughter, her 28-year-old daughter started having contractions – she
was pregnant. The hospital at that point was testing all pregnant women
when they came in, and Tinh`s(ph) 28-year-old daughter tested positive.
And she was admitted. She had an emergency C-section, and now she and her
baby are recovering.
I should also tell you that Tinh`s(ph) son is a U.S. Marine who is
currently deployed in the Pacific. He has not been able to get leave to
come home and to help while this is what`s been happening back home in
Colorado. Again, there are seven people dead. We don`t know the total
number of hospitalizations, but we do know this is one of the workers at
Tinh(ph) is a member of the union that represents the workers at the JBS
beef plant in Greeley, Colorado. They told us that they have filed a
Family Medical Leave Act claim on Tinh`s(ph) behalf, but it`s been a couple
of weeks since that. And they say, so far they`ve heard nothing on that.
But here`s Kim Cordova, who`s the head of that union for these workers at
that plant. You might remember that we had her here on this show about a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KIM CORDOVA, PRESIDENT, UFCW LOCAL 7: They signed up for a job to, you
know, process meat, protein, for this country. But they didn`t sign up to
die, you know, and we don`t want a – this job to be a death sentence for
workers. They`re not fungible widgets. They are not disposable objects.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I should tell you that we contacted JBS tonight – the company
that owns this plant, that reopened this plant without testing all their
workers. Despite the fact that they`d had an agreement with the county
health department that they would test all the workers, despite the fact
that they said they were working with the White House to secure tests for
all of their workers, despite their public statements to that effect, they
reopened without testing all of their workers.
Seven of their workers have died. We know at least one is hospitalized and
on a ventilator. We don`t know how many other workers there are
hospitalized. More than 3,000 people who work in that plant, and they have
reopened it now without testing everybody before they go in.
We asked JBS – I find this almost unbelievable. I`m just going to tell
you what they said. We asked JBS tonight about Tinh(ph), about this 60-
year-old woman who`s worked at that plant for 11 years. She`s got a
daughter who`s just given birth, who family believes she also infected with
coronavirus that she brought home from the plant. She`s got a son in the
Marine Corp who can`t get home to see her. She`s been in the hospital,
she`s on a ventilator, she`s unconscious, she`s been there for more than a
month. We asked JBS tonight about this employee, the woman who you just
saw the picture of. And this is how they responded.
They took issue with the way that the family characterized what happened
here. This is their statement when we asked for comment, quote, “We do not
have a company-affiliated clinic in Greeley. We do have an onsite health
services team that is focused on diagnosing and treating occupational
health injuries and illnesses only.” Because this isn`t something she got
occupationally? That clinic does not – or, excuse me, “This facility does
not provide primary care medical services. The health services team
directs team members to their primary care doctor for further evaluation if
situations are outside of their focus area.”
JBS also tells her that her FMLA claim will be processed consistent with
our protocol. So they want you to know that when she was feeling shortness
of breath, and having a fever, and sweating, and she went to go talk to the
onsite health team at that plant with 3,000 workers, they want you to know
that we shouldn`t call that a clinic. Because they`re an onsite health
services team focused on diagnosing and treating occupational health
injuries and illnesses only, and they direct team members to their primary
care doctor for further evaluation. So if she – you know, this is on her.
She`s been in the hospital on a ventilator for more than a month.
Today, the Secretary of Agriculture in the Trump Administration, Sonny
Perdue, sent a sort of bizarre letter to JBS and to the other major
American meat processor companies in this country. And his letter to them
basically told them that they need to open up all of their plants right now
or else. It actually says at one point in the letter, quote, “I exhort you
to do this ; further action under the President`s Executive Order and the
Defense Production Act is under consideration and will be taken, if
necessary.” I exhort you to reopen these plants. You must, or else. I am
threatening you. That`s what the Trump Administration is doing at these
plants, where thousands of blue-collar workers are being infected.
Trump Administration is exhorting them, threatening them – get back open -
- while they are not making it mandatory for those plants to follow rules
on how to safely operate in the midst of the epidemic. They certainly
could. They`ve decided not to make those things mandatory. And what we`re
seeing is that the companies don`t even uniformly plan to test everyone so
they know who`s positive before they reopen the plants. I mean, some of
the – yes, some plants are doing that, some plants are testing everybody.
But not all of them are, and nobody`s making them. The federal government
is just ordering them reopen.
And we are seeing, even in plants with hundreds of known positives, even in
plants with multiple known deaths among the people who work there, even in
plants where they`ve got multiple workers in the hospital, and like
Tinh(ph), on ventilators, fighting for their lives right now, some of these
companies are very happy to reopen without testing people before they walk
in the door. Oh, we`ll screen them for fever. If they`re asymptomatic and
spreading it, can you really hold us to account for that? We`ve got
liability protection, thanks to the President`s Executive Order, so we know
you can`t sue us. And there`s the Trump Administration, I exhort you to
reopen, or else, because that`s how we`re handling this. This is dystopic.
Today, the Iowa governor, Kim Reynolds, was brought to the White House for
a kind of show-and-tell session. So they put her in front of a placard
that says what President Trump has given to Iowa. Kind of a show-and-tell
session where Governor Reynolds, and Secretary “I exhort you” Perdue, and
President Trump, and Vice President Pence all talked about how great things
are going in Iowa.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. KIM REYNOLDS (R-IA): We`re still monitoring it. We turned a corner.
VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: You talk to a great heartland governor, like
Governor Kim Reynolds, one of the great stories of the coronavirus outbreak
has been that our food supply has continued to work every day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Yes, it has been a great story. The way the food supply stuff has
gone, it`s been fan-freaking-tastic, right? The White House and Republican
governors really want to sell the idea of how we`ve all turned the corner,
right? Things are all better now. When it comes to those meat plants, the
only problem is is that they`re closed for some reason. Well, we can fix
that. Tell them to open. Everything`s fine now. In fact, why is anything
closed? Everything`s fine now.
I mean, when Governor Reynolds talked there about turning the corner, I`m
not sure if this is what she meant. But these are the corners that I am
aware of right now in Iowa. This is a look at the daily death toll in
Iowa, how the number of people dying from coronavirus every day in that
state is relentlessly and pretty steeply rising. That`s the raw data, and
then the dark line is the seven-day rolling average. It`s really bad.
This is a look at their new cases every day in Iowa. And again, you`ve got
the raw data there on the graph, and then the darker line is the seven-day
rolling average. That`s really bad. That`s bad. But that`s kind of
what`s happening in almost all of the states that are reopening. I mean,
states moving forward with reopening are seeing increases in new
coronavirus cases. Yes, right. Because nobody based their reopening on
the fact that they didn`t have a problem, and reopening creates a larger
problem than you`ve already got.
So we are seeing this dynamic at work in states that are reopening, and
you`re seeing it especially in cases – in states, particularly like the
big meat processing states – Iowa, South Dakota, Nebraska among them.
States where they didn`t do much of anything in the way of a stay-at-home
order in the first place, you`re seeing it particularly badly. You`re
also, of course, seeing it in states that did put in some kind of stay-at-
home measures reluctantly, but then they ripped them off because the
governor got bored with it, or something. Like in Georgia, for example.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today reporting on very hard-hit
Gainesville, Georgia, where case numbers rose exponentially every week in
April. But the governor still insisted on lifting all the stay-at-home
measures statewide, even in places where the epidemic was taking off like a
rocket. In Gainesville, Georgia, the last week in March, there were at 12
new cases a day on average. The following week, it was 22 new cases a day.
Following week, 47 new cases a day. Following week, 61 new cases a day.
Now they`re at 95 new cases a day, and let`s see how high it can go. But
they`re removing all stay-at-home orders, everywhere in Georgia, across the
board, because why are we doing this anyway? Who really cares?
Why are states like this – states with problems like this, reopening?
Well, I mean, in the case of Iowa, you`re seeing them get praised by the
President – why they do it. One of the great success stories. But also,
you know, who`s to tell them not to reopen?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. CAITLIN RIVERS, ASST. PROFESSOR, JOHNS HOPKINS BLOOMBERG SCHOOL OF
PUBLIC HEALTH: There are four criteria that states should meet in order to
safely reopen. The first is to see the number of new cases decline for at
least two weeks. The other is enough public health capacity to conduct
contact tracing on all new cases, enough diagnostic testing to test
everybody with COVID-like symptoms, not just those people with severe
illness, and enough health care system capacity to treat everyone safely.
To my knowledge, there are no states that meet all four of those criteria.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Expert testimony today from Johns Hopkins in Congress – there are
no states that meet all four of those criteria. But, go ahead, Georgia.
Go ahead, Iowa. Whatever you want. Call it whatever you want.
However much Governor Kim Reynolds of Iowa may have enjoyed her show-and-
tell visit at the White House today, I should tell you that she began the
week back in Iowa apologizing for the continued delay in test results in
her state. Iowans have been waiting a week or longer to get their test
results after they turned up to get tested for coronavirus, and that`s days
longer than what they were promised when they showed up for the tests. And
those delays aren`t just regular citizens. They`re also for health
workers, who lined up for Governor Reynolds`s new statewide testing
program, which she unveiled with great fanfare a couple of weeks ago.
It`s a program called Test Iowa. Paid a lot of money for it. Unveiled it
with great fanfare. Well, two days ago, Governor Reynolds apologized for
the Test Iowa backlog, said she hoped to get the problem squared away soon.
And, you know, maybe it`ll just be a short-term issue. The Iowa governor
does seem to be working on it. She`s talking about it publicly. The
apology`s probably a good thing.
But Iowa has a really big problem. Iowa has a big problem in the way that
all meat packing states have problems right now. Iowa also has a problem
in that their numbers are going like this, and the governor seems to think
that means things are getting better, when they`re not. Lack of access to
reliable testing in a state that`s having those kind of problem is bad.
It`s probably a little bit worse than it is just bad everywhere. But I
have a story to tell you tonight about the specific reason that Iowa`s
testing sucks in particular. It turns out to be a really specific story.
It applies to Iowa and two other states that have screwed up testing. It`s
a bizarre story that comes out of a different state altogether. I don`t
think you`ve heard it, and you are going to want to hear it next.
MADDOW: In mid-March, a week after the State of Utah got its first
confirmed case, and Utah was trying to figure out how it was going to deal
with the coming crisis, a group of tech companies in the state decided they
would try to help. You know how California has Silicon Valley? Utah has
was they like to call Silicon Slopes, which ends up being relevant to the
story. I never heard that before, but that`s a thing, Silicon Slopes –
tech in Utah.
The CEO from one of those Silicon Slopes companies, the CEO of a company
called Nomi Health, emailed some colleagues in the tech industry on March
14th with his idea. This was first posted by the Salt Lake Tribune, which
obtained the email. Quote, “We have a solution that we want to put
together with the Silicon Slopes community that provides free testing for
up to 50,000 people, sponsored by all of us. Let`s solve it. We pay for
it. We pay manufacturers of tests, labs, and pharmacies directly for
testing and med packs for our employees and families. No noise.” States
already at this point, you know, are struggling to get a hold of testing
kits and supplies, and here`s this Utah tech CEO, saying, no noise, let`s
solve it, we`ll pay for it. 50,000 tests for the State of Utah. We know
how to do this stuff.
Right from the beginning, government officials in Utah seemed both
intrigued and perplexed by whatever this was. The chief of staff for
(ph)the Lieutenant Governor wrote, quote, “Really interesting.” Quote, “I
mean, we`re working our damnedest to get access to reagent and other
testing supplies for COVID. Even swabs are scarce right now. And for the
state, it`s really not a money issue. We have a huge rainy day fund. I
wonder what it is this Nomi guy thinks he has that we don`t?” Quote, “If
it turns out to be legit, I`m sure health care systems would be clambering
for it. Keep me posted.” If it turns out to be legit – somebody`s
thinking ahead. Turns out the CEO was not shy about his own learning
curve. If anything, the Nomi CEO sounded sort of excited about his deeply
sloped learning curve. Here he is speaking about it on April 1st.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK NEWMAN, CEO, NOMI HEALTH: It`s been a really fantastic experience. I
mean, physically (ph) three weeks ago, none of us knew anything about lab
testing. What we did know, though, was that we had to do something, if we
banded together – and could do something, if we banded together to go pull
this thing off and get people in Utah back to work. The behind-the-scenes,
how do I say this nicely? We aren`t doctors, and so sometimes doctors
don`t always appreciate our opinion. As they say, the difference between
God and doctors is that God doesn`t generally think he`s a doctor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So, we`re not doctors. So you are not a doctor. So what – you
know, you knew, what did you say, nothing, three weeks ago, about lab
testing in any way, shape, or form. The very next day after that
interview, the governor of Utah held a press conference with the tech CEOs
to announce a big, new partnership with the Utah tech community – the guys
who were admitting they knew nothing about this stuff just a few weeks ago,
but they definitely now knew better than all the doctors. They seem so
confident. What they announced the very next day was something that would
be called Test Utah. The tech companies would be doing this service in
Utah as a service – it wouldn`t be for profit. And they were not going to
just bend the curve of the infection rate in Utah. They were going to
crush the curve. That`s what they called their website, “Crush the Curve.”
Since then, there`s been a cascade of local reporting and serious questions
and qualms raised about what the Test Utah program is actually doing. Salt
Lake Tribune cited data showing tests at Test Utah`s sites were turning up
positive at less than half the rate of all the testing being done by all
other entities in Utah. One doctor on the state coronavirus task force
expressed real concern about the disparity, saying, quote, “What alarms me
the most is that they are expanding collection and testing with these
unknowns about how their test performs. If correct, I urge you to halt
their testing until we understand why their results differ so much from
what other labs are reporting. This is a potential public health
This is the doctor who`s on the statewide coronavirus task force, writing
to the head of that task force. He says, quote, “A pandemic is not the
time for amateurs to learn.” The companies behind Test Utah told the Salt
Lake Tribune that the reason their tests were showing much lower rates of
infection than all other tests in Utah is just because they were testing a
wider swath of Utah`s population than everybody else was. And so, they
were just testing more negative people.
The Tribune pointed out, rightfully, that even if you just look at the
subset of people who were showing symptoms at the time they were tested –
even the symptomatic people tested by Test Utah got positive results from
these tests at a rate far below the rate reported at other test sites in
the state. Reporters then discovered that despite the idea of the tech
companies solving Utah`s testing program for free, with 50,000 sponsored
tests from the companies, the State of Utah nevertheless somehow morphed
this into a $5 million no-bid contract for the companies, along with
$600,000 a month for each testing site that Test Utah would set up across
the state, despite the concerns about the quality of their testing.
Reporters kept digging. The Salt Lake Tribune found that the CEO who first
pitched the idea was also involved in a deal for the State of Utah to
purchase $800,000 for a stockpile of hydroxychloroquine.
Hydroxychloroquine is, of course, the untested malaria drug that the
President promoted relentlessly without any science to back it up, right up
until the FDA started warning doctors that the drug could have serious
complications. The tech CEO who arranged this $800,000 – helped arrange
this $800,000 purchase of the drug by the state just also happened to sit
on the board of a company that was manufacturing hydroxychloroquine, a
company that was manufacturing the version of that drug that was being
purchased by the state – at a significant markup, should be noted.
The Salt Lake Tribune also pointed out that one of the questions Test Utah
asked potential testees, asked potential patients, was whether they were
allergic to hydroxychloroquine, which is not at all relevant to whether or
not you should get a test. But, for some reason, they were asking that.
After the FDA started warning about complications from that drug, Utah
ended up cancelling that $800,000 purchase. It`s now being looked at by
the state auditor. And the governor is, importantly, denying that he ever
had any idea that any of that happened, even though it was cleared by his
office. The questions about Test Utah in Utah have been sustained and
I should tell you, the principal company, the one led by the CEO who came
up with the idea, defended their work today when we asked about it. They
said they`d set out to provide free testing for the community at a fraction
of the cost that states might otherwise pay. Quote, We have succeeded on
each front so far, but have taken an amazing number of attacks from health
care incumbents and others who are uncomfortable with the complete
disruption of the status quo and the loss of millions in revenue from
testing and screening.
This approach was necessary in light of the failed national promises for
support. We raised our hand to help, which evolved from donating tests and
covering costs for potential treatments that Utah was exploring to manage
the state`s pandemic response to managing almost half the volume of testing
in our home state and then being asked to do the same in other states like
Iowa and Nebraska.
And indeed once Utah state government sort of gave its seal of approval to
this test Utah idea, it did get adopted by other states. It`s not just Utah
anymore. That same collection of companies is now behind the test Iowa
program that has the Iowa governor apologizing for the backlog amid her
state`s considerable outbreaks in meat packing plants. For services in
Iowa, test Iowa, got a $26 million no bid contract with the state. The same
company also got a $27 million no bid contract with the state of Nebraska,
which sits right alongside Iowa for coronavirus outbreaks in meat packing
The state of Nebraska, this week, opened its first test Nebraska site in
Grand Island, where nearly 600 meat packing workers from one plant have
already tested positive. And where they`ve got now a huge outbreak in that
community. Ahead of that opening, officials in Nebraska were raising
concerns about this program and why Nebraska was going along with this Utah
consortium that seemed to be causing so much consternation and so many
serious technical clash questions elsewhere.
Two weeks ago, Nebraska State Senator Megan Hunt told her constituents she
was concerned about the privacy of their information with this testing
program. Senator Hunt said she was using the Freedom of Information Act to
try to get a hold of state`s contract for test Nebraska, since otherwise it
wasn`t public. And quote, test Nebraska costs taxpayers $27 million but the
state has kept Nebraskans and the legislature totally in the dark about any
Through her own FOIA request, Senator Hunt did end up getting a copy of the
$27 million contract. And she got a promise from the governor to not sell
anyone`s data. Anybody who`s signed up for test Nebraska. But given the way
this has been playing out in her state, and in other state, Senator Hunt
does not sound, what you would want to call, satisfied.
She says, quote, I appreciate that the state wanted to act fast but this
absolutely could have been done in a transparent way with regard to
taxpayer dollars. This is an irresponsible solution, that`s convenient for
several private Utah-based corporations. It`s also coming a bit late.
Is this how we are going to fix the testing problem in this country? With a
patch work of proposals from people who decide to learn this thing as they
go and who disdain the ideas of doctors who might actually know what
they`re doing here? Contracts that even elected officials have to fight to
see. In the states that most desperately need to be testing everyone right
now. Is in the way forward? Watch this space
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: This pandemic does not care whether you are located
in your home, prison or on a cruise. It`ll fix us all. This is a social
issue. A health issue that we`re all facing.
We`re no different. They`re no different. We all are trying to survive this
pandemic. We`re all trying to come out alive. And it shouldn`t be any
different for those who are behind bars.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Those women you see there are all criminal justice reform
advocates. They`re all ex-prisoners as well. They all served time at the
Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women, also known as LCIW. Now that
those women are on the outside working as advocates, they say they`ve been
getting dozens of emails a day from women, who are still inside that
Louisiana Correctional Institute For Women, telling them about the very
worrying situation inside that facility when it comes to coronavirus.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: So we would like to share some quotes from our
sisters on the inside, because we receive emails daily from the women
inside. And we just want to briefly share some of the quotes with you, so
you can get an understanding of what their mentality, and what they`re
going through emotionally right now. And I quote, four buildings are
crammed packed with people.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: 80 to 90 women in a closed-up space.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: The bed areas are only about two to three feet apart.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: It`s day 11 of the coronavirus lockdown at LCIW. We
have 25 positive cases on the ward.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: The nurses do not check our temps twice a day like
the other dorms.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: What are they waiting for?
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: They brought an older lady with chronic illness that
tested negative for the virus and placed her on our dorms to be quarantined
for the next 14 days with us.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: But if she tested negative, why put her with
us?Couldn`t that be placing her at risk?
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Officers that are sitting with the quarantined then
coming to the dorm, where no one is sick, putting the healthy in harm`s
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: I think it`s going to be rough before it gets better.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Kitchen workers that stay here in Autumn fear for
their life. They don`t want to go to work in their kitchen. They are being
told that they will be locked up if they don`t go to work.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: And I`m just trying to stay alive.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: We need a voice. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Please keep us in your prayers. Pray for us.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Please keep us lifted up in prayer.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Trusting in god to bring us through. As I said, those
were some quotes from the women on the inside.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: They end actually here by asking people to contact Louisiana`s
governor, John Bel Edwards, to ask him to immediately sign the pardons that
are on his desk. They ask that he release more prisoners that are
vulnerable or elderly and ask to implement proper oversight to ensure that
people are safe inside of prisons. That last point, particularly important,
because of something we have learned in the last 24 hours.
Again, what we`re talking about there, that facility from which they were
reading those emails, is the Louisiana correctional institute for women,
LCIW. As of this week, they tested one entire dorm at LCIW. 195 prisoners
in that dorm. 192 of the 195 women in that dorm tested positive. It`s the
only place that I`ve actually seen in America that has produced virtually a
100% infection rate.
You know, it is not a mystery where this virus is running amok, right?
Nursing homes. Meat processing plants. Prisons. It`s not a secret. And
regardless of how scary these big outbreaks are, you need to know where the
virus is so that you can figure out who`s going to need help. You can
figure out how many people in your community are likely to get it and get
sick and need care and potentially even die. You need the data.
One of the things we`re focusing on tonight is a state that has decided,
right as they are opening up in terms of social distancing, that actually
they are going to shut off one of their main sources of data. About what`s
happening with the epidemic in their state. They`re going to stand down on
one of the most important sources of data about what`s happening in their
state just as they`re opening up.It is a truly weird story and that is
MADDOW: A week ago, Arizona`s Governor Doug Ducey told the people of his
state that he was going to extend his stay-at-home order for Arizona
through mid May. He said the available data on the spread of the virus in
Arizona suggested it wouldn`t be safe to reopen the economy there for at
least a couple more weeks. The available data the governor and his team are
looking at included a predictive model being worked on by a couple of dozen
experts at two of Arizona`s top universities.
The state health department said they wanted a targeted Arizona-specific
model. And so, professors at the university of Arizona and Arizona State,
they offered up their services to do that as experts for free. And what
they turned up was useful and specific.
The mathematical epidemiologist leading the modeling told the Arizona
Republic last month that not reopening the state until the end of May was
the only scenario they modelled that, quote, doesn`t put me immediately
back on an exponential growth curve. Quote, I can say, scientifically, no,
it is not safe to reopen unless you`re planning on, you know, shutting down
again after a couple of weeks.
So that`s where they stood - things stood in Arizona. But then Donald Trump
came to town. The president flew into Arizona to make an unmasked visit to
a mask factory yesterday. And Arizona governor Doug Ducey announced, as
that was happening, that he would, in fact, accelerate the opening up of
businesses in Arizona. The president, of course, has been encouraging this
sort of thing all over the country. So forget the extension of the stay-at-
home order. That`s off. Salons and barber shops in Arizona, you`re good to
go this Friday. Restaurants, customers can start dine-in service next
Forget what they`d said before. Apparently the data was suddenly looking
much rosier than it had just days earlier.
Turns out, that`s because the Ducey administration hadn`t found a new model
for the epidemic in their state that they`ve decided they really like and
tells them much happier things. It`s a model they say they got from the
Trump administration. Arizona`s health department says that this model they
got from the Trump administration shows that even if the governor lifted
the stay-at-home order right away, and things opened all the way back up,
the state would still be fine.
I can only show you though what they say about it because we`re not allowed
to see this supposed model. It`s a secret model created by the federal
government. Maybe by FEMA, they say. It has not been released publicly. The
government of the state of Arizona says we just have to trust them that it
says what they say it says and also that it is definitely the best, most
realistic model and we shouldn`t look at any other data other than that
Just hours after the governor announced this new accelerated pace of
reopening, based on the secret model they really liked that nobody else can
see, the Ducey`s administration contacted professors at the University of
Arizona and Arizona State who had been doing the professional modelling for
the state and the Ducey administration told them they needed to stop their
work. The state would no longer be sharing any data with them to assist
them with their modelling efforts.
A reporter for an Arizona ABC affiliate got a hold of the email that went
out to those scientists and said in part, quote, we`ve been asked by
department leadership to pause all current work on projections and
modelling. We wanted to let you know as soon as possible so you wouldn`t
expend further time and effort needlessly. Also, we`ve been asked to pull
back the special data sets which have been shared. So give us back all the
data we gave you. Thanks for your service. Now, go home.
Phoenix Congressman Gallego wrote to the University of Arizona and ASU
today calling on them to ignore the governor`s order and keep working on
modelling for the state. A statement from ASU tonight interestingly says
they will continue modelling work. Although it say they`ll do so without
further access to the state`s internal data.
One former director of Arizona State Health Agency called the state`s order
for university`s to stop doing this work, quote, astonishing. Quote, the
action to disband the Arizona COVID-19 modelling working group begs the
question whether the group was discontinued because they had been producing
results that were inconsistent with messaging and decisions being made by
the executive branch.
Joining us now, live, is that former Director of Arizona State Department
of Health Services. He`s Will Humble. He`s now Executive Director for the
Arizona Public Health Association. Mr. Humble, thank you for your time
tonight. I really appreciate you being here.
WILL HUMBLE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR FOR THE ARIZONA PUBLIC HEALTH ASSOCIATION:
Good evening. Thanks for the invitation.
MADDOW: Let me ask you if I described that in a way that is – that makes
sense and if there`s anything that I`m sort of putting emphasis on there
that`s out of joint.
HUMBLE: Oh no, that intro that you just did was spot on. I was thinking,
what am I on here for? She hit the nail on the head. That was just –
that`s just like what happened.
MADDOW: Great. Well, what I wanted to ask you about was your use of the
word astonishing to describe this move by the Ducey administration to shut
down the modelling that these universities were doing. Why do you find it
HUMBLE: Well, I mean, look at the situation. They had 20 of the best
researchers that we have in the state that are super talented – really
experienced at this kind of predictive modelling – who are willing to
volunteer their time – not get paid for it because they wanted to be part
of the response and provide valuable information for policy makers to make
decisions. And they come up with a good product, at the end of April,
that`s super useful, has all kinds of scenarios to help decision making and
then suddenly, they`re asked to stop their work.
I mean, I could see it if they were on a big contract and, you know, it was
going to be expensive or something but these are folks that were providing
a great product for free, And, by the way, the most talented people in the
MADDOW: I will also say that, what we know at least from public
proclamations or from looking at the model, it doesn`t seem like what they
were proposing or saying about the course of the epidemic in Arizona was
particularly – would lend itself to particularly draconian policy results.
Like, they weren`t saying that Arizona needs to lockdown and stay that way
until 2021. They were saying, you know, if you get out before the end of
May, we`re going to see exponential growth. But if you can hold on until
then, we can see the way that might go, which might be an easing of the
burden in the state.
I mean, I`m not an expert on these things but my impression is that they
were proposing was not something that was – that would make it radically
difficult for the governor to govern.
HUMBLE: No, it was written as a 23-page report and it`s written in a way to
help decision makers and policy makers think through what the options are
and give them an idea about what results would come from different policy
decisions. And so, it wasn`t an advocacy piece in any way, shape or form.
It was purely, you know, a document that would be really good for policy
makers. If I was an elected official, I would love to have that kind of
information and it makes zero sense to me that they would stop that work
and, you know – now they don`t have it. I don`t understand it.
MADDOW: Let me ask you about what the state is apparently relying on
instead. This is almost as strange to me as anything else in this story.
The health department now says it`s relying on a model they got from the
federal government. They say they got it from FEMA. We don`t know what that
And according to the state health department, they`re saying this model
shows Arizona has plenty of resources. It`ll be absolutely fine even if the
state opens back up entirely right now. But we can`t see the model and it
will not be made publicly available.
That seems like – that seems like a series of statements visiting from
another time and another crisis. I don`t even understand the type of
document that they might be talking about. Does that make any sense to you,
what they`re referring to?
HUMBLE: I don`t know anybody, outside of the state health department or
maybe in state government, that`s actually seen this model. It`s not
publicly available. You can`t go to the website and look at the model. Nor
are the – if there are Arizona specific data runs out of that model, it`s
not available. And so, I mean, it`s totally non-transparent and I just –
you know, here`s what it does.
There`s 7 million people in Arizona that are all part of this response.
We`re all responding to this epidemic personally and professionally and
it`s been really hard.
And we`re entitled to see the kind of information that our policy makers
are using to make decisions on our behalf. And we can`t even look at the
model? That doesn`t – it`s astonishing, like I said in the blog post.
MADDOW: Will Humble, Executive Director of the Arizona Public Health
Association and former Director of Arizona`s Department of Health Services.
Mr. Humble, thanks for helping us understand this. There`s a lot of, sort
of, unknowns and black boxes in this story. If they start to fill in and
you can see it – you can see the explanations here in Arizona before we
can see them nationally, will you call us and we can get you back on the
HUMBLE: Sure, thank you. Sure will.
MADDOW: Absolutely. Great. We will be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Last night, America`s collective heart leapt into our collective
throat with the announcement from the U.S. Supreme Court that Justice Ruth
Bader Ginsburg had been hospitalized. She was treated yesterday afternoon
at Johhns Hopkins for a gallstone problem that resulted in an infection.
Well, tonight we can report that Justice Ginsburg is out of the hospital.
The Supreme Court just releasing this quote, Justice has been discharged
from the hospital. She`s doing well and glad to be home. The justice will
return to the Johns Hopkins hospital in Baltimore, Maryland for follow up
outpatient visits over the next few weeks to eventually remove the
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