HIV/AIDs activist dies TRANSCRIPT: 5/27/20, The Rachel Maddow Show
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: And then, of course, whether you have enough
Senate votes and whether you can get Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin to vote
for them. But the substance right there, people should definitely take a
look at Matt`s piece, also the Biden website to go through what is actually
Matt Yglesias, thank you very much.
MATT YGLESIAS, JOURNALIST: Thank you.
MADDOW: 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. Happy to have you with
This is the front page of “The New York Times” right now. The U.S.
coronavirus death toll highest in the world surpasses 100,000. A milestone
that comes just months after the country`s first known case was confirmed.
The death toll, far higher than any other nation, exceeds the number of
U.S. military combat fatalities in every conflict since the Korean War.
Front page of “The New York Times” right now.
This is the front page of “Washington Post” right now. All columns across
the top – 100,000 deaths. Pandemic has exposed nation`s vulnerables, and
dangerous divide. The stark milestone, 100,000 deaths, comes less than
three months after the first American was reported to have died. The people
most ravaged are those who are suffering, often unseen, the elderly,
African-Americans, and the working poor. “The Washington Post” front page
This is the front page tonight at “USA Today”. Quote, 100,000 deaths,
100,000 people have died from coronavirus in the United States. And it will
continue to change our lives. The U.S. is the only country to record
anywhere near one million cases of the coronavirus. The country now hits
another somber milestone.
Here`s the front page tonight over at the web site for our friends at CNN:
100,000 Americans didn`t have to die. One tragedy of America`s coronavirus
milestone is that so many didn`t have to die. Another is that no one knows
how many more will perish. Again, this is the CNN front page right now.
Also, this next one maybe isn`t that important for you to see, but just so
you`re aware, this is what it is, in contrast, this is the front page for
our friends at the FOX News Channel right now. It`s as you can see a little
bit different. Warning, drama ahead is their main headline, all caps, bold,
warning, drama ahead. House Democrats forge ahead on surveillance vote,
Trump threatens veto.
In addition to that lead story, they`ve got more stuff there about Nancy
Pelosi and her being terrible, they have a thing attacking Congressman
Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, although it is possible that is just a pinned
thing they keep on the front page of all times, they have multiple stories
up on their front page of Mark Zuckerberg from Facebook, they`ve got two
different articles attacking two different CNN journalists up on their
front page, this is all like they`re above the fold big headlines.
And if you scroll down and scroll down and scroll down, eventually you do
get, they do, ultimately get to, oh, yeah, 100,000 Americas dead. They do
get to it eventually. It comes around.
It`s interesting though, increasingly, around the country, not in national
news outlets like that, but we are seeing around the country, that local
news outlets and local officials, too, are only keeping one eye on that
larger national picture that you see reflected in those acute ways in
national media. You see local officials and local media keeping one eye on
that larger national picture. But only one eye, because really, the other
thing they`ve got to focus on is the fact that things are getting really
rough locally at home.
And this is something that is apparently not really a national news story
yet. But if you look around, nationwide, you can start to see this story
grow from the ground up. “Reuters” reports today that over this past week,
20 states have had rising case numbers of coronavirus. And whether or not
20 states have a rise in case numbers sounds good or bad to you, it`s
definitely not good that the week before that, there were only 13 states
that had rising case numbers.
So, that number rising to 20 states with rising case numbers, week to week,
that is not good. It means our epidemic is going in the wrong direction.
The state with the worst weekly rise in cases last week was Alabama –
weekly increase of 28 percent in their cases. Alabama, we have frankly been
pretty worried about the hospital capacity in Montgomery, the state`s
capital city. ICU capacity has been filled in Montgomery, Alabama,
hospitals, for days now.
They are not able to take in additional ICU patients into ICU beds anymore.
They are stashing what would otherwise be ICU patients indefinitely in
emergency rooms in Montgomery area hospitals. That is not ideal.
The pressure of what`s going wrong in Alabama though is not just being felt
in Montgomery. We are now getting alarm bells from the University of
Alabama at Birmingham, their health center there. We`re also getting alarm
bells from places like Tuscaloosa, where the local hospital has doubled its
number of COVID patients in just one week, and where the mayor of
Tuscaloosa is now urgently warning the residents of his city to please do
what they can to slow this thing down.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: An alarming spike in the number of COVID-19 cases in
Tuscaloosa County over the past weekend, the past week, rather.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox taking to social media
to alert the community to the area`s largest single day increase in new
COVID cases, jumping nearly 10.5 percent. More than 50 new cases in
Tuscaloosa County on Monday alone.
MAYOR WALT MADDOX, TUSCALOOSA: I think we`ve entered a very dangerous
stage of this fight against the coronavirus, because I think we`re becoming
more relax in what we`re doing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And with such a sharp raise in cases here in
Tuscaloosa, Mayor Maddox says he is concern with the number of patients
being brought in to DCH.
MADDOX: In the past week, we`ve had a nearly 100 percent increase in those
with COVID-19 being in our hospital system. We are at 63 this morning. We
were at 32 this time last week.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As hospital capacity becomes more of a concern, Maddox
is asking the community to take social distancing seriously and to wear a
mask when around others.
MADDOX: Think more of just yourself. Think about your family. Think about
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Doctors at UAB say they are becoming increasingly
concerned about the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Alabama which they
attribute largely to more people being out and about.
DR. RACHAEL LEE: This is a little bit concerning to us right now, in terms
of the trend, because our ICUs are fairly full right now with our – for
our COVID-19 cohort patients so we are putting patients with the same
infection in the same unit, and so we had to open some of these beds up
more mainly to help care for these patients more. So if this continues,
we`ll have to think about opening up more units as we can.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Our ICUs are fairly full right now. You know, Montgomery, Alabama,
is worse off than Birmingham where you saw that doctor speaking.
Montgomery tripled its case count just since May 1st. Montgomery`s ICU beds
are full. We have been watching the state of Alabama, worrying about
Montgomery. But now, we`re seeing, even in Birmingham which is not the
worst off in the state, they are saying their ICUs are pretty much full
right now and had to plan for building out more capacity now because the
trends just keep getting worse.
I mean, that`s what happens. That`s ultimately the way you have to live and
the way you have to cope, when your new daily case numbers look like this.
This is from the Alabama state department of health, their website tonight.
And it`s not just an Alabama story. I know the big national picture is, you
know, bleak and it is this landmark moment and kind of hard to look away
from, if you`re not watching FOX News, in which case it is very easy to
look away from apparently, but I think if you really care about what is
happening with this moment, for our country, in this moment, in this
moment, this moment in American history, at least for right now, I think
you do have to look away from the national picture for a second, to get a
real sense of where we are. Because where things are going pear-shaped,
where things are getting rough, right now, you really do need to track it
through the local news.
And this is part of what`s wrong in our media ecosystem. This is what
happens when a national phenomenon in America moves off the coasts and out
of our media capitals. The national media stops tracking it in exactly the
same way. But if you look beyond national media coverage, if you just look
at what`s out there in the states, just look, it`s there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Health restrictions in parts of Nebraska, the number of
COVID-19 patients have been trending upward. At the same time, the number
of ICU beds available has been decreasing. And as of now, roughly 75
percent of these beds are full.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Omaha, Nebraska, ICU beds in Omaha roughly at 75 percent capacity,
75 percent full.
The local Methodist health system in Omaha just put up this statement today
as well. Quote: All health care systems in Omaha are seeing an increase of
COVID-19 patients in our hospitals. Methodist is among those treating a
high volume of COVID-19 patients at this time.
You know, in Nebraska, the governor there, Pete Ricketts, has defended from
the very beginning him never issuing any kind of stay-at-home order for his
state because he said his reasoning for not doing that, for Nebraska not
needing that, he said there was plenty of hospital capacity in Nebraska,
which is sort of unnerving from the very beginning, right? Plenty of
hospital beds for everyone. So why not fill them up?
Well, now, in fact, Nebraska hospital beds are filling up. Omaha`s ICU beds
are three quarters full and rising. And now that is happening, Governor
Ricketts now says, quote, we are having conversations about what they`re
going to do with regard to staffing. He said he is waiting to see, quote,
if those hospitals are going to go out and get additional staffing services
to come in. Because of course they`re filling up, and they need more staff
now to handle the huge volume of coronavirus patients they are getting,
because of the huge rise in cases in Nebraska that is unabated.
I mean, what`s going to happen though with the governor, wait to see if the
hospitals will go out and get additional staff. I mean, presumably, if they
are able to get in more additional staff, then what`s he going to do, see
what else we can do to get more beds filled to keep those new doctors and
nurses hopping? I mean, if you`re basing your public health policy in your
state or lack thereof on the fact that you will be able to handle it
because you`ve got tons of hospital capacity, what do you do next, when
your hospital capacity starts to top out? Like what`s plan B? What do you
You can`t go back in time. That`s what Nebraska is going through now
because of what policies have been like in the state of Nebraska. Again,
it`s not just Nebraska. It`s not just Alabama.
This today was the Minnesota state health commissioner after the state
announced it had hit an all-time high in terms of ICU beds in use, in the
Twin Cities area, in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, ICU beds are now 87
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAN MALCOLM, MINNESOTA HEALTH COMMISSIONER: There are 598 people currently
in the hospital, 260 of those in intensive care units, which is the highest
daily total to date.
We do see some more accelerating and concerning signs, like the rate of
increase in ICU capacity, even though we had planned for this, and have
surge capacity available in the state. The fact that a couple of our
hospitals have already gone into that surge space at this point, in the
curve, is important to note, and gives us reason to be really, really
watching these data.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Minnesota state health commissioner talking about Minnesota
hospitals now topping out in their ICU capacity, and some of them having to
start to use ICU surge space.
We`re seeing something similar in Arizona. In Yuma, Arizona, they have
filled up the Yuma regional medical center with COVID patients and started
transferring patients out to other hospitals that can take on the overflow.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: COVID-19 is beginning to hit Yuma regional medical
center hard as more people are testing positive, more people are being
admit into the hospital.
DR. BHARAT MAGU: Late Friday, Saturday, we started to see a significant
increase in the patients coming to the emergency and we had to use the
surge line to keep the capacity.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The surge line is a 24-hour direct line to the
Arizona Department of Health Services. The line was established at the
beginning of the crisis for hospitals across the state to communicate when
they`re at capacity and need to transfer patients out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: They now need to activate the surge line, which is what you use
when you`re at capacity and you need to get patients out of your overfilled
hospital into other hospitals. They`ve now hit that point in Yuma, Arizona,
where they need to transfer patients out.
I should mention, also, that in that same place, in Yuma, Arizona, just
this past weekend, a pretty sizable demonstration that we`re keeping an eye
on, at the state prison there, where dozens of prisoners in Yuma have
tested positive, and were at least until recently, even the staff at that
prison, with a known sizable outbreak among the prisoner, even the staff,
there the corrections officers, were responsible for seeking out testing on
their own, if they so desired.
That Yuma prison outbreak is a grave concern to prisoners inside that
facility, and to their families, and to the people who work there, and to
their families. But that Yuma outbreak may also be a grave concern to
Arizona more broadly now, because the size of the epidemic in Yuma is
considerable. Yuma hospitalizations have tripled in two weeks. The big
spike in Yuma numbers has contributed to the fact that Arizona had just had
its highest daily E.R. visits, highest daily number of E.R. visits related
to COVID on Saturday and the highest daily hospitalization number for
COVID-19 patients as a state, on Sunday.
Anybody who is sort of taking comfort from the fact that large outbreaks
seem to be happening still in nursing homes and in prisons, and in
meatpacking plants and other big workplaces, should not take comfort in the
idea that they those will be hermetically sealed outbreaks. If you have an
outbreak in a prison in your town, if you have an outbreak in the nursing
homes in your town, if you have an outbreak in a meat processing plants in
your town, you have an outbreak in your town that will not stay in the
walls of that facilitate. We`ve seen it everywhere.
In Arkansas, “The New York Times” tracking where the epidemic is worse now,
cites the Fayetteville, Arkansas region, as the fastest-growing pace count
in the nation. Arkansas as a whole has had six straight days of triple
digits increases in its case count. And the state health director in
Arkansas just quit.
In Sioux City, Iowa, they have just hit a new record for hospitalizations
there, as well. The state of Iowa just confirmed outbreaks in Sioux City,
and in Sioux center, both in Purdue meat packing plants. But local
officials seem to think that a lot of the Sioux City problem, where again
their hospitals are now setting new records for COVID-19 patients in the
hospital, local officials and local health officials seem to believe that
they think a big problem in Sioux City is from a 4,300-person meatpacking
plant just over the Nebraska state line in Dakota City, Nebraska.
All 4,300 people at that facility, that Tyson facility in Dakota City,
Nebraska, all 4,300 employees there have been tested but nobody knows what
the number are. Nebraska officials won`t say what the numbers. Iowa
officials won`t say what the number are. And the company won`t say what the
And so we know there`s a sizable outbreak there. We know there`s been
testing. And so, the local health officials presumably, but at least the
company knows how many people are infected at that plant but they won`t
So, they`re just letting the hospitals in Sioux City fill up. They are now
filling up. They`re at their highest hospitalization rates in Sioux City.
There are two hospitals there, and I guess they`re just hoping nobody will
ask where all of these cases are coming from. That plant in Dakota City
The highest per capita infection rate in the state of Iowa right now is in
one Buena Vista County, population around 20,000. In Buena Vista County,
Iowa, more than 3 percent of the entire population of the county is now
confirmed to be infected.
Now, where are all of these infections coming from? Infecting more than 3
percent of the whole county`s population, out in rural Iowa? You know by
now, right? Without me even having to say it. You know, and I know, even
without having to look it up on a map.
And local reporters know exactly what drives those kinds of epidemic spike
numbers. Everybody knows what`s going on. But, boy howdy, does the governor
of Iowa, Kim Reynolds, not want to admit what it is.
Watch this from today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Governor, is there an outbreak at a food production facility in
Storm Lake, given the excessive spike in cases in Buena Vista County?
GOV. KIM REYNOLDS (R), IOWA: We have not confirmed that yet, but again
what I said earlier, Kaye, is with us – with our ability to track virus
activity on a daily basis, that really does kind of give us the information
we need to know where we can potentially see a hot spot, or a potential
spike, and if we can, that`s when we move the testing into that area. So,
at this point, they have not met the criteria.
REPORTER: When do the residents of Storm Lake who don`t work at the
facility get to know that there`s an outbreak?
REYNODS: Well, you want to go with that?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The department of public health will confirm an
outbreak when we have identified at least 10 percent of the employees at a
particular location. The ones would very identified, 10 percent of their
employees have tested positive, that`s the determination in terms of when
it`s time to announce that there has been an outbreak at a facility like
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: We`re not going to tell you. We`re not even going to tell that
community. We`re going to wait to tell you, we`re going to wait to tell the
citizens of this county that is now the most infected county in the state
and who knows where that is coming from, we`re going to wait until it is
really, really, really bad, until we`ve decided to move testing in there,
until we`ve decided it is more than 10 percent of the workplace, we`re
going to wait until then before we tell anybody anything about it.
Otherwise, sure, everything is good. Open up, liberate Iowa, stop asking
about these numbers.
Buena Vista County, Iowa, now with between 3 percent and 4 percent of its
entire population infected, and the government will not talk about whether
or not the meatpacking plants, and the county seat of Buena Vista County,
Iowa, might be the source of the infection because they`ve invented a magic
thinking threshold under which they don`t need to tell you. They wait until
it gets real bad. It is an infectious disease.
Today on the day when we saw those developments where cases are rising and
hospitalizations are reaching records, and ICU beds are hitting capacity.
Today, on the day the United States has passed 100,000 dead Americans from
this epidemic, today, a man named Larry Kramer died.
And he`s not a household name except in some households. He`s in mine. He
was the co-founder of the Gay Men`s Health Crisis, which is one of the
first and largest AIDS health crisis organizations ever. He was also – and
this is what he will go in history for. He was the founder of ACT UP, which
is called the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power.
And what ACT UP did, and what they aimed to do, was unleash the power of
the communities that were being killed, hand over fist, by the AIDS
epidemic in its first years. And ACT Up`s tactics, in the mold of Larry
Kramer, were impolite and pushy, and often cathartic, and ultimately very
effective. There`s really been nothing else like it in my lifetime.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How would you define the objectives of ACT UP?
LARRY KRAMER, HIV/AIDS ACTIVIST: We won the AIDS epidemic, simple as that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Plain and simple?
KRAMER: Plain and simple.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By whatever means necessary?
KRAMER: We tried being nice. We had to resort to these tactics because
nobody listens quite frankly. We now have some 70 some chapters around the
world with over a quarter of a million members. So I think what is
happening is the backlash is not against us, the backlash is against the
system. More and more people are so furious that they perceive the
government not doing anything.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In this case, is the end so desirable, that any means
KRAMER: Well, we are a nonviolent organization. I don`t think we`re here
to make friends. We`re here to raise the issues. No matter what you do, X
number people are going to approve and X number of people aren`t. So you
might as well get your percentage across the best way you can.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You would allow you`re not making friends.
KRAMER: I would allow that AIDS is a very complicated issue and that we
are now at last beginning to make friends. Like I said, I think the
groundswell of new chapters of new members, it`s basically what happened
during the Vietnam War, where people got so angry at the government that
they were forced into this frustration, and I think that`s very definitely
what`s happening now. It took ten years for the first 100,000 cases. The
next 100,000 cases are all going to happen in the next 15 months.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It took ten years for the first 100,000 cases. The next 100,000
cases are going to happen in the next 15 months. In our case, with this
epidemic, it took three months to get to 100,000 dead.
In the last epidemic to kill tens of thousands of Americans, in the AIDS
epidemic, ACT UP was about the people most affected by the virus speaking
for themselves, rather than being ignored, or spoken for, or worst of all,
It was also about unapologetic, uncompromising anger at a government
response that was slow and stupid and callous and not driven by science,
and ultimately fatal, to thousands of us. Peaceful, yes, but angry, loud,
at times profane, unafraid, confrontational protests, backed up by a
willingness to do the real work of ending the epidemic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES
DIRECTOR: If you were not outrageous in your approach, and confrontation
with the theatrical in the way Larry was, I don`t think there would have
been as much attention paid to the problem. But there are some who think
Larry goes a little bit too far, but he went a little bit too far with a
purpose. There was a great method to Larry`s madness as some people say, he
knew exactly what he was doing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have said, in American medicine, there are two
eras, before Larry Kramer and after Larry Kramer.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you mean?
FAUCI: I meant that he fundamentally changed the relationship between the
constituency groups with diseases and he did it with HIV/AIDS, but it
really has served subsequently as a model for so many other diseases.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How do you feel about what he says about you that you
helped change the face of American medicine.
KRAMER: I`m a Jewish boy who ever thought the worst of himself. So I`m not
used to taking praise. I do feel really chills when I, when I hear that.
And Tony`s kind words give me great pleasure but they also give me more
power to carry on the fight.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That Tony is the same Dr. Fauci from now, from then and from now.
And Larry Kramer died today at the age of 84. He was reportedly working on
a new play about trying to survive this epidemic, too, trying to survive
Without some kind of action that improves our government`s response, a lot
of Americans, thousands more Americans, will not survive.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: That was Minneapolis earlier today. Protesters in that city
gathered at the intersection for a man named George Floyd, was pinned to
the ground on Monday by a police officer who was seen kneeling on his neck.
Mr. Floyd could be heard saying “I can`t breathe”. He later died.
Now, this afternoon, that intersection where Mr. Floyd died had transformed
into a massive makeshift memorial for him. With flowers, and balloons,
placed right near where the incident took place, there are signs there,
like Black Lives Matter, and justice for George Floyd, and, of course, I
Just two and a half miles east, the scene has been notably more tense in
Minneapolis. Protesters facing off with police outside of the city police
department third precinct house. According to the reporter from the local
affiliate, police started to use tear gas and flash bang explosions after
people in the crowd started throwing stuff at police officers on the scene.
I think we`ve got a live shot, yes, this is a live shot of these
protesters, the protests, as they continue right now in Minneapolis. The
demonstrations I need to tell you do appear to have gotten larger over the
course of tonight. These folks aren`t going anywhere.
All of this of course follows really dramatic scenes of unrest just last
night, windows smashed at police headquarters in Minneapolis, a line of
officers in the riot gear fired tear gas and ultimately rubber bullets into
the protesting crowds. Pictures like this one started to emerge of people
dousing themselves with milk after being exposed to the tear gas.
The protests that we saw yesterday, and are watching unfold again tonight,
are of course a reaction to the horrifying death of George Floyd,
including, importantly, the video showing what happened in the final
moments of his life. The incident was captured by a bystander`s cell phone.
In the video, Mr. Floyd is seen handcuffed and pinned to the ground. He is
not armed, and an officer seen pressing his knee into Mr. Floyd`s neck.
I`m about to show you a very short portion of that tape. I will warn you
that it is disturbing. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE FLOYD: I can`t breathe, please (INAUDIBLE), I can`t breathe, sir.
OFFICER: Bro, get up and get in the car, man.
FLOYD: I will.
OFFICER: Get up and get in the car.
FLOYD: I can`t move.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: George Floyd repeated, I can`t breathe, at least a dozen times. He
later stopped moving. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.
The officers seen in that video have all been fired from their jobs as
Today, the mayor of Minneapolis called for criminal charges against the
officer who was seen kneeling on Mr. Floyd`s neck.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR JACOB FREY (D), MINNEAPOLIS: I have wrestled with more than anything
else over the last 36 hours one fundamental question. Why is the man who
killed George Floyd not in jail?
If you had done it, or I had done it, we would be behind bars right now.
And I cannot come up with a good answer to that question. And so, I`m
calling on Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman to act on the evidence
before him. I`m calling on him to charge the arresting officer in this
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Joining us now is Brandt Williams, a reporter who has been
covering this story extensively for Minnesota Public Radio.
Mr. Williams, thank you very much for joining us this evening. I appreciate
you taking the time.
BRANDT WILLIAMS, MINNESOTA PUBLIC RADIO: You`re welcome.
MADDOW: First, let me just ask you if I explained this in a way that
comports with your understanding, have I got anything wrong, and let me
also ask you if you can give us any updates on how the protests have been
unfolding today and tonight?
WILLIAMS: You didn`t get anything wrong in there, I would just stress on
how unusual the mayor`s statement was. Usually, the mayors of Minneapolis,
when there`s been a critical incident involving police officers and the
death of a citizen have urged for calm and they have asked for there to be
investigations before there`s any type of law enforcement action taken. But
this was unusual because the mayor just came right out and said, look, why
isn`t this guy arrested and booked?
So as far as the protests tonight, I don`t have any other updates besides
from what I`ve been saying – I`ve been busy working stories today, I was
out at the protest sites yesterday, and had a chance to speak to some folks
there. I spoke to a man who said he was there the night of Mr. Floyd`s
He told me that it was remarkable to him that after Mr. Floyd repeatedly
told the officers, hey man, I can`t breathe, can you get up off of me, that
the officers disregarded that and this man told me, he said he asked me,
what does it take for an African-American to be taken as a human person,
who feels things, if I say ouch, that means that hurt, please don`t do that
again. And there were a couple of other people who were basically
expressing those same sentiments through chants and shouts, throughout the
evening last night.
MADDOW: Let me ask you about what you raised there about the unusual
response of the mayor here. The mayor said explicitly, I`m calling on
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman to act on the evidence before him and
charge the arresting officer in this case. What will we expect happen? What
have we seen thus far between the mayor making that profound statement,
that unusual statement, and the D.A., and also the police department in
Minneapolis, which has been through lots of changes and lots of upheaval
and seemingly new police chiefs every time you turn around?
WILLIAMS: Right. Well, so far – well, immediately after the incident, the
Hennepin County attorney`s office reload a statement saying hey, this is
shocking, but we are going to wait for the process to work its way through.
The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is conducting an investigation, as well
as the FBI.
Usually, what happens in these instances is the investigating agency which
will turn over the findings of the investigation to Hennepin County to then
conduct their own, take a look at the charging information, and decide
whether they will file charges against the police officer.
Now, Mark Freeman has drawn a lot of criticism from some members of the
black community who feel like he`s been extremely reluctant to bring
charges against police officers who have been responsible for the deaths of
particularly of African-Americans. And for the police department also,
there`s another unusual development here, and that is, as you mentioned,
the actions of the police chief, Medaria Arradondo. He fired the officers
before the investigation is completed.
Usually the officers get sent on paid administrative leave for weeks,
perhaps a month or two, while the investigation is going on. So, something
is different here. You know, I haven`t had a chance to really dig in as
deep as I`d like to, to find out why the mayor and the police chief took
the actions they did so quickly.
MADDOW: Brandt Williams, reporter for Minnesota Public Radio, thank you
for helping us understand this. It`s really clarifying. While we`ve been
talking to you, we`re watching live images of what is happening in the
streets of Minneapolis. Obviously this is a still-developing story.
Stay in touch with us about this. Obviously, we`re going to keep our eyes
on this as is the rest of the country. Thanks for being here tonight.
WILLIAMS: We`ll do that. Thanks.
MADDOW: All right. Much more ahead tonight. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we can begin on hydroxychloroquine as a treatment
for COVID, France today has banned its use. Doctors there saying that the
data does not provide evidence to support it.
Given that data, and other studies, should the U.S. do the same and ban
hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID?
FAUCI: You know, Jim, I`m not so sure it should be banned but clearly the
scientific data is really quite evident now about the lack of efficacy for
it. And even the possibility that there could be, not could be, but there
is, you know, the likelihood that under certain circumstances might be, but
you`d see it, adverse effects particularly with regard to cardiovascular
and the arrhythmias that may be associated with it.
There was a suspicion of that for a while but as data comes in, it becomes
more clear. So I`m not sure you would want it ban it, but certainly the
data are clear right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Scientific data is really quite effect department now about the
lack of efficacy for the drug hydroxychloroquine against the coronavirus.
You don`t necessarily have to ban it, but it might be dangerous and it
seems like it sure doesn`t work, so says our country`s top infectious
disease official, which shouldn`t be huge news with huge political
implications except for the fact that the president of the United States
has been huckstering that drug to all of us, including telling Americans
repeatedly that he has been taking it himself to prevent coronavirus
infection even though there is nothing on earth that suggests that it can
protect you from coronavirus infection.
That said, it`s worth considering the possibility that the president just
made the whole thing up when he asserted that he has been taking that drug.
After announcing last week, that he was taking it, this weekend, he said he
is not taking it anymore. He said he, quote, just finished taking it. OK.
Even still, the president has kept hyping this drug for some reason.
Recently citing what he called quote, incredible studies out of France,
whatever incredible studies might be out of France, now, France has banned
the use of hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus treatment, and that`s why
we`re on the heels of the World Health Organization, dropping that drug out
of its large scale treatment centers because of safety concerns.
I mean, science-wise, there have been a couple sort of jarring developments
today, good ones and bad ones, mostly bad ones. Obviously, the U.S. has
passed this stunning numerical threshold, over 100,000 American deaths from
coronavirus as of today and counting, which just knocks the wind out of you
and will put this day in American history books forever.
We also got pretty hard data today, from a new study in one of America`s
top medical journals, the Journal of the American Medical Association,
which suggested that stay-at-home orders enacted by lots of states, have
worked, stay-at-home orders have saved thousands of American lives by
vastly reducing the number of hospitalizations that would have happened had
there not been a stay-at-home order, based on how hospitalizations were
growing before those orders went into effect. So, we got that data too from
JAMA, that those types of restrictions, those stay-at-home orders have been
effective, this very been effective at keeping thousands of people alive in
this country, and that data comes right as we start abandoning those
restrictions all over the country, even in states where case numbers are
through the roof and still rising.
So, those measures we are stopping, here`s the hard data about how well
they work. And at the same time, we`re learning that something we are doing
more of, something we hope might help, might not help. The CDC has now
issued new guidance on coronavirus antibody testing. More and more
Americans have been taking coronavirus antibody tests to try to determine
if they already had the coronavirus and therefore might be immune to it.
Well, the CDC now says that based on current data, if you test positive for
coronavirus antibodies, that doesn`t necessarily mean you have any immunity
to the coronavirus. In fact, the CDC says the tests are still so
unreliable, that even if you test positive for antibodies, not only does
that not necessarily mean you`re immune from getting it again, it doesn`t
necessarily mean that you have the virus at all, because in technical
terms, basically, CDC is saying that the tests are kind of garbage.
So they don`t necessarily tell if you you really got antibodies and knowing
if you got antibodies doesn`t really tell you anything useful about whether
you might be immune. So why are we doing the antibody testing? And why did
the FDA approve all of those garbage tests without making them jumping
through hoops to prove they were efficacious?
It`s been a whipsaw of information today, right? I mean, the political
narrative from the White House is like take hydroxychloroquine and get an
antibody test but the science is saying neither of those things work.
Whipsaw days and the science require expert advice from scientists. I will
try to make sense of some of this, especially the antibody testing thing
which is sort of unmooring, and we have just the expert to talk about it
Stay with us.
MADDOW: As we cross the grim threshold of 100,000 coronavirus deaths in
the United States, 1.7 million Americans infected, today, the science got a
little fuzzier for lots of Americans when the CDC said antibody testing,
that`s supposed to show whether you have the virus mostly doesn`t appear to
work. And the nation`s top infectious disease expert said the president`s
favored snake oil miracle cure also, by the way, doesn`t appear to work. We
might not be able to change our politics at the moment but we can try to
better understand the science, especially on a landmark day today.
Joining us from the science side now is Dr. Amesh Adalja. He`s a senior
scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security.
Dr. Adalja, it`s really nice of you to come back and be with us tonight.
Thank you for taking the time.
DR. AMESH ADALJA, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY CENTER FOR HEALTH SECURITY:
Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: Let me ask you about the antibody testing news from the CDC. We
had been worried about antibody testing because the FDA allowed lots of so-
called antibody tests to go to market without them having to prove their
efficacy to the FDA before being pushed on the American people. Now, is the
CDC just warning us that, hey, there is a lot of garbage tests out there or
are they telling us that antibody testing per se is problematic, that we`re
using it for things we shouldn`t be using it for and shouldn`t see
certainty in those results?
ADALJA: A little bit of both. What happened was that many tests were
released on the market in about maybe about a dozen of them actually had
good specificity. Remember, this is the seventh human coronavirus we`ve
discovered. Four of then were out there all the time causing common colds.
And there`s a lot of cross reaction.
So, you could get a positive test and it might not mean you have the
coronavirus. We`ve gotten better figuring out which test actually has good
specificity and those are the ones that we actually recommend to be used.
The other part is, do we know what that antibody is? We believe there is
some level of immunity that`s confirmed once you`re infected and that
you`re likely immune for some period of time. But we haven`t done natural
history studies to know how much antibody you need to have and how long it
So, we can`t really operationalize antibody tests in order to tell people
it`s safe to do this or safe to do that. We`re trying to understand what
that level would be but we`re not there yet. So, we can`t use them in those
decision making, at that decision making level yet.
MADDOW: Given what you just described and those dynamics about
interpreting what an antibody test means, how reliable that test result is
and what it`s implications are for your future life and potential
susceptibility to infection or re-infection, do you expect that antibody
testing will in the future become a more valuable part of the response,
that we will have better tests, that we will have tests that will tell us
whether or not we have antibodies and give us information we can use in
terms of determining whether we have any increased or decreased
susceptibility to the virus?
ADALJA: I do think we will get there. It`s just – it`s going to take some
time. This is a new virus. We haven`t followed people that have been
infected out long enough to see what their antibodies mean for them, but
other parts of the immune system are important as well, what level of
antibodies are necessary to confer protection and how they decline over
We will get there. But I don`t think that we can operationalize the use of
antibody testing for public policy decision at this point. They do give us
an idea if you`re using a good test if someone has been infected and they
may be important from an epidemiological standpoint to understand where a
given region is on an epidemic curve. But you can`t operationalize and say
this is safe for you, this is not safe for you. We have a general idea but
we don`t have ironclad (AUDIO GAP).
MADDOW: Dr. Adalja, I have to tell you, your sound kicked out a little
bit. If you have a backup phone or something that you have nearby,
hopefully if you come back but just in case it gets glitchy for a second, I
ask you to find your backup. There we are.
Let me just ask you sort of a difficult question about CDC, I am used to
thinking of CDC as the gold standard both for us and sort of around the
world. I`m a little weirded out about this new guidance coming from CDC
about antibody testing after this debacle last week when people outside CDC
noticed they were combining apples and oranges, they were combining virus
tests and antibody tests in their testing numbers in a way that made their
CDC data basically garbage in terms of trying to understand testing
prevalence in this country.
Should we worry whether or not CDC is being rigorous about stuff like this
ADALJA: I do think the idea of combining antibody test with PCR test,
which test for infection, and using those numbers kind of interchangeably
is the wrong way to go about this. I can`t quite understand why that was
happening. In our mind, most of us in the field are separating two things
for good reason. One tells you one type of information, the other tells you
something else, and you can`t use that type of information to make
decisions if it`s combined together and it can give you a misleading
picture of the outbreak on both sides. It can skew it worse or skew it less
worse than it is.
So, that`s not the way you want to do it. You want to have both data
available but delineate what you`re putting in the numbers so we have the
correct numerators and denominators. It was something that not only the CDC
but many states are doing as well. It was a practice that hopefully we`re
going to see an end to.
MADDOW: Yeah. And it`s unsettling that 1.7 million cases and 100,000
American deaths into this, those kinds of errors are still being made at
the level they should not be made.
Dr. Amesh Adalja from the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health
Security – thank you again for your time tonight, Doctor. It`s really good
to have you here.
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: This was New York Governor Andrew Cuomo at the White House today,
him going into a meeting with President Trump to talk about doing some big
building projects, some big infrastructure building projects as economic
stimulus to try to jump start the economy. He told reporters that meeting
with the president today at the White House went well. We`ll get to ask him
about it directly tomorrow when Governor Cuomo will be the guest live here
on this show.
I will see you then.
Now, though, it is time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.
Good evening, Lawrence.
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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