COVID victims TRANSCRIPT: 6/12/20, The Rachel Maddow Show

Vanessa Hall-Harper, David Grabowski


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, “ALL IN”: All right. Congresswoman Katie Porter,

thank you so much for being here.


REP. KATIE PORTER (D-CA): Thank you.


HAYES: 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. I

appreciate it.


Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour as well. Happy to have you

with us this Friday night.


In 2005, the Super Bowl was played in Jacksonville, Florida. Reason that

was noteworthy when it happened is because at that time, Jacksonville,

Florida, was the smallest city to host a modern Super Bowl.


In 2005, the population of Jacksonville, Florida, was fewer than 800,000

people. But come the week of the Super Bowl, an extra 100,000 people

flooded into that city. That is a huge expansion in the number of people

who are ever in Jacksonville.


When it came to the need to house all of those people, it quickly became

apparent that Jacksonville didn`t have nearly enough hotel rooms to go

around, which should have been kind of a limiting factor for whether they

were even in contention to get the Super Bowl at all, right?


You can`t house anybody who`s coming to see the Super Bowl? Then you can`t

host the Super Bowl. But despite their dearth of hotel rooms, Jacksonville

really, really wanted to host the Super Bowl that year. And so, in order to

address the housing concerns, Jacksonville got creative.




REPORTER: The stadium sits along the St. John`s River, and because

Jacksonville is the smallest city to ever host the big game, they`ve made

up for a lack of hotel rooms with five cruise ships.




MADDOW: Need a bed? In town to watch the Super Bowl? Head on down to the

docks. We`ve got five jumbo-sized cruise ships for you there.


That`s what thousands of people ended up doing for housing during the Super

Bowl in 2005. They rented rooms and cruise ships that were docked wherever

the city of Jacksonville could squeeze them in, because they basically had

no other options for where to put all of those people. That`s what

Jacksonville did in 2005.


Well, now it is 15 years later and that same city, Jacksonville, Florida,

is getting ready to play host to a big national event once again. This

time, they will be hosting the hastily relocated Republican National



It is now official. The Republican National Convention that will nominate

President Trump for a second term, that convention has been yanked at the

last minute out of Charlotte, North Carolina. They have moved it instead to



They pulled the plug on Charlotte, North Carolina, after President Trump

went ballistic over North Carolina`s Governor Roy Cooper refusing to

guarantee that the Republicans convention would be held as if there`s no

coronavirus. With thousands of people all crammed into one place. They

wanted no social distancing, they wanted no masks. They want it to look

like there isn`t anything going on in the country that might suggest any

risk, any need for caution, any reminder of the body count of over 100,000

Americans already and climbing.


North Carolina did not want to do it that way. And North Carolina doesn`t

seem particularly broken up about losing the RNC given that those are the

conditions under which the president wants to hold that convention. When it

first became clear that Charlotte, North Carolina, might in fact lose that

event over this fight whether or not we`re pretending coronavirus is or

isn`t happening, the biggest paper in Charlotte ran this editorial

response, quote, “Good Riddance.”


And that`s because North Carolina, whatever economic boost they might get

from having a big Republican convention in the high summer, North Carolina

really isn`t in a position to do something that catastrophically dangerous,

to run a convention in that catastrophically perilous and risky a way in

terms of where they`re at in the epidemic right now.


I mean, this is North Carolina`s curve of new cases right now. North

Carolina is dealing with a steady and pronounced surge in new cases,

particularly since they opened up, but it`s just been going up for a long

time. The problem is so bad now in North Carolina, that the state health

director is warning in the last day that they may need to institute a new

stay-at-home order in North Carolina. They reopened the first week of May.

They may need to reclose given what`s happening with case numbers there.


North Carolina`s new case numbers per day keep hitting new records. They`ve

hit two new daily case records in the past week. They saw a jump of more

than 1,300 new cases yesterday. They saw more than 1,700 new cases today.

They are dealing with record high numbers of hospitalizations statewide.


And where Charlotte, North Carolina, is specifically, where the RNC was

going to be specifically in Mecklenburg County, that county not only has

the highest number of cases in the state by far, they`ve just had 11

straight days of triple-digit increases in that county alone in and around



So, yes, in that environment, maybe Charlotte, North Carolina, is not the

best place to have a huge gathering that the president insists must be

conducted like this, with lots of people who are senior citizens all in the

same room together, all inside screaming and not wearing masks.


So it won`t be in Charlottesville – excuse me, it won`t be in Charlotte,

North Carolina. But is Jacksonville, Florida, any better a place to hold it

if these are the circumstances in which the RNC wants to conduct itself? Is

Jacksonville any better? Do we know?


Florida yesterday reported its highest single day number of new coronavirus

cases yet since the pandemic started. And then today, they beat that record

in Florida. They beat the daily case number record that they just sent

yesterday because they set a new record today. “The Miami herald” reporting

today that their own review of public and nonpublic data, which is

important in Florida, showed that new cases in the state have bin

consistently trending up since mid-May and the trends cannot be attributed

to increases in testing.


Now, the statewide data in Florida is another thing, and it`s a contested

thing and we`ll get to that in a minute. But in individual counties in

Florida, you`re starting to see health officials show their fear a little

bit in terms of what`s going on there. Yesterday, the health director for

Palm Beach County in Florida convened a press conference in which she

announced, quote, it is not contained in any way, shape or form.


That one county in Florida, Palm Beach County, now says its ICU beds are at

81 percent capacity. While case numbers are still going through the roof

and still hitting new daily records, that`s bad. But for the whole state of

Florida, even though we know the case numbers statewide are as bad as

they`ve ever been and getting worse faster than they ever have, setting new

records daily, and even though we know from the counties that some

individual counties are really bending under the strain in terms of their

hospitalization burdens, we really don`t know how bad the burden is

statewide in Florida.


I can`t, for example, show you any charts about the current number of

hospitalizations in Florida or how they`ve gone up or down over time. The

reason I can`t show you that is because Florida doesn`t release that data.

Lots of other states, almost all of the other states release their

hospitalization data. Florida just stopped doing that. They stopped

reporting hospitalization numbers statewide at the end of May, which “The

Miami Herald” suggests their rise in cases started taking off. They just

decided they wouldn`t put that information out in public view anymore.


Florida is so cagey about its numbers when it comes to coronavirus, that

they fired the person they had running the state`s website showing all of

the coronavirus data. She said they fired her because they wanted her to

manipulate and remove data in order to make the pandemic look more under

control in Florida than it actually was.


She`s incidentally now launched her own handmade personal version of the

Florida coronavirus data dashboard that she used to run for the state.

She`s just doing it herself now from home in their spare time because she

says the state wouldn`t let her post the real data online at the official

site, so she`s just doing her best now as a private individual.


Florida has also resisted posting data about outbreaks and deaths at its

nursing homes and in workplaces. Florida likes to keep the numbers nice and

quiet, because presumably if you don`t know, then everything`s fine? I

mean, that`s one way of dealing with the crisis. Pull the covers over your

head, say everything is fine and hope nobody notices the bodies piling up.


But as they move, the RNC, Republican National Convention and all of those

tens of thousands of Republican delegates and all of the media and hangers

had much on, as they move from Charlotte, North Carolina, which knows it

has a problem, to Jacksonville, Florida, where they don`t say whether or

not they`re having a problem, there`s one other wrinkle to consider about

the fact that this thing is moving to Jacksonville.


As I mentioned a minute ago related to the Super Bowl, Jacksonville has

this interesting history of using cruise ships to house out-of-towners who

are visiting for large-scale events. Well, now that Jacksonville is going

to host the Republican National Convention because North Carolina was being

so prissy about this dumb pandemics Republicans don`t believe is real, it

looks like the cruise ship housing solution is being considered once again

for Jacksonville for the Republican National Convention in the middle of

the pandemic.


Cruise ships, seriously?


Yes. The local NBC affiliate Jacksonville, Florida, reporting that many of

the hotels in the city are already sold-out for the week of the RNC.

Remember, they moved this thing at the very last minute. Now the city`s

former mayor says there are active discussions going on about bringing in

cruise ships to deal with overflow guests who are there for the RNC. The

chairman of the Florida Republican Party is also saying that cruise ships

could be a good option in terms of housing people for the RNC.


Yeah, nice place to stuff them into after they spend the day screaming and

chanting indoors with tens of thousands of other mostly older people not

wearing masks in one of the states with the largest and fastest-growing

pandemics in the country. They`re going to put them on cruise ships.


I mean, next thing you know, they`re going to announce a nightly RNC

delegate doorknob licking competition. Or maybe the big puppy pileup where

everybody over 75 all takes a lick on the giant soft serve cone. Stick your

face in there, give it a slurp and pass it on to the next grandpa. Anybody

want to play squeeze my face? Wet Willie, anyone?


After that, you all go back to the cruise ship together to touch all the

hand railings and eat at the buffet. Achoo. Ehem, seriously.


But Florida is not alone in terms of its numbers going the wrong way and

then making some weird decisions alongside those numbers. Florida is

worrying, for lots of reason, now especially given their plans for the RNC.

But they really aren`t alone.


Here`s the lead at “The New York Times” tonight, quote: Two of the nation`s

most populous states, Texas and Florida, both reported this week their

highest daily totals of new coronavirus infections, a concerning sign. The

rise in cases helps explain why the nation continues to record more than

20,000 new cases a day, even as some of the original hot spots, including

New York, have seen dramatic declines.


Texas identified more than 2,000 new cases on both Wednesday and Thursday

this week, the highest daily totals yet. The counties that include Houston

and Dallas are reporting some of the nation`s largest single-day rises.

Cases are also trending upwards around Ft. Worth, Texas, San Antonio,

Texas, Austin, Texas, Lubbock, Texas, McAllen, Texas, and Midland, Texas.


In Houston, specifically, the county executive there, Harris County Judge

Helena Hidalgo, unveiled a new sort of pictorial warning system for Harris

County yesterday. While she announced the county is at the second highest

level of warning, what they`re calling level two orange, which means

significant and uncontrolled transmission of COVID-19 in Harris County.




LINA HIDALGO, HARRIS CO, TEXAS JUDGE: I`m growing increasingly concerned

that we may be approaching the precipice – the precipice of a disaster.

This week, the COVID-19 general hospital population in Harris County was

the highest it has ever been. It was the highest on Monday, and it`s gotten

worse every day. It`s out of hand right now.




MADDOW: In the Houston area, they`re already at 88 percent of ICU capacity.

As you heard the Harris County judge there say, basically, the county

executive for Harris County, the general population of Harris County is the

highest it`s ever been Monday and gotten worse every day since then. She

says, I`m growing concerned we may be approaching the precipice of a



But that`s what we`re hearing now. That`s what is happening every day now

in some of the most populous cities and states in the country. Not to

mention rural states and less populated states where one of the big

concerns is how much of a health care structure they have to tax when the

numbers really start taxing that structure. Just talked about how North

Carolina and Florida are both going in the wrong direction right now, makes

it kind of weird the RNC decided to hop from North Carolina to Florida

because of the way North Carolina was dealing with its pandemic. Yeah.


I mean, those numbers that you`re looking at there on your screen, those

are the new case numbers, on top of just the case numbers, right now,

nobody knows about Florida hospitalization statewide because Florida has

decided not to release that data, but we do know that North Carolina

hospitalizations are hitting new records all the time now.


Texas is hitting record case numbers every day now and record

hospitalizations. Next door, Arkansas is hitting record case numbers too

and record hospitalizations. We`ve also been closely watching Alabama,

where you know the state capital in this region, Montgomery, is also

overtopped in terms of hospital capacity. They`ve just hit two straight

days in Alabama of their highest case number increases statewide. They`ve

also hit their highest hospitalization numbers statewide.


The state health department in Alabama now issuing a statement telling

Alabama residents it is, quote, safer to be at home right now because of

community transmission in Alabama. Now, that advisory from the health

department appears to be having no effect on actual policy in the state

where Republicans are both in control of the legislature and governorship

and where they just continue to steadily keep opening everything further

up, even as case numbers rise and rise and rise and hospital systems start

to get tapped.


The country is starting to figure out though that this is what`s happening.

The White House isn`t talking about it. The president isn`t talking about



The national media really likes to cover just lots of things the president

says. The president isn`t talking about this anymore. If you can stop

listening to what it is he`s provoking you with and saying for long enough

to look around and notice what`s going on in the country, the country has

started to realize that even though the White House is ignoring it, what`s

happening in terms of the virus right now, what`s happening in terms of the

pandemic is really bad.


This isn`t some second wave happening in the fall. This is a first wave

that`s either never cresting or a second wave that`s arriving in June. As

the country starts to wake up to this broadly speaking, it will be

interesting and important to see if in the case of what`s going on in all

of these states with rising pandemics, it will be fascinating to see if the

“head in the sand/don`t talk about it” approach still stays popular in the

Republican Party and in general.


This was “NBC Nightly News” coverage of this situation tonight.




REPORTER: Tonight, rising concern as a surge of new COVID-19 cases hit

multiple states.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To slow down the (INAUDIBLE) the economy, if there`s any

way to avoid it. And we are in the any way to avoid it stage.


REPORTER: In Texas, a month after opening bag up, hospital space is

available but at Houston Methodist, patients are up 40 percent.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think people have left their guard down.


REPORTER: President Trump himself criticized after photos from last night`s

Dallas` visit showed a packed church with few masks and limited social



When you saw that picture of the president`s meeting last night, what was

your initial reaction?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was angry because that`s our community chief. That`s

the person who`s supposed to be leading the effort to keep you alive in the

time of COVID.


REPORTER: In South Carolina, the government lifting restrictions despite

the single largest daily increase in cases since the pandemic began.

Fourteen states showing a greater-than-25 percent increase in cases in the

last week. Recent spikes now prompting some areas to press pause.


(AUDIO GAP) as both Utah and Oregon take similar steps.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is essentially a statewide yellow light. (AUDIO

GAP) our public health experts time to assess what factors are driving the

spread of the virus and determine if we need to adjust our approach to



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If she makes that decision, there`s a reason she`s

making that decision and I have to trust that.


REPORTER: Nationwide, the virus still hitting familiar hot spots. This

California nursing home evacuated early this morning, after an outbreak

forcing every resident to relocate.


And in Oklahoma, Whirlpool announcing it`s closing its plant in Tulsa,

where the virus just hit a new daily peak. The company saying exposed

workers had been quarantined. And with each COVID-19 case in the plant,

there`s a thorough investigation that includes contact tracing.




MADDOW: “NBC Nightly News`” Morgan Chesky reporting tonight.


That last data point there, Tulsa, Oklahoma, closing down a Whirlpool plant

after the outbreak at the workplace, Tulsa hitting a new daily peak in

terms of its cases, I mean, yeah, (AUDIO GAP) this from the Tulsa County

health department. That is not good in Tulsa, Oklahoma.


And this is what the local headlines look like tonight in Tulsa, Oklahoma -

- infections peak again for Tulsa County. State health officials on Friday

today reported 222 new cases of COVID-19, marking a new peak in daily

increases in both the state and Tulsa County.


There`s another headline tonight in Tulsa, Tulsa health department urges

caution on gatherings as COVID-19 cases reach record daily high.


Caution on gatherings?


Of course, the Trump campaign just announced that Tulsa, Oklahoma, will be

the site of the first big rally for the president`s re-election effort next

week. Next week, a week from today on Juneteenth, which is the day that

celebrates the liberation of African-Americans from slavery.


Trump is going to be in Tulsa that day, yes, this Tulsa where this is

what`s going on right now, for a big congregate rally indoors at an arena

that seats 19,000 people. The CDC today just re-upped its guidance on how

people should keep themselves save amid the rising pandemic. The CDC saying

today that organizers of large gatherings should strongly encourage the use

of face coverings for anybody at a large gathering.


The government`s top infectious disease official, Dr. Anthony Fauci,

telling ABC news tonight going to a mass event like the president is

planning in Tulsa next week, a big congregate indoor event he says is,

quote, very risky and people should at least, if they can avoid being in a

place like that, they should at least wear masks.


Can we just put that – can we just put the case numbers graph for Tulsa up

just one more time, just to – can I just – yeah.


Tulsa, I`m sorry for what you`re going through right are now for these

numbers. Tulsa, I`m sorry for what about you`re about to go through next

week courtesy of the president. But I`ll tell you, if you start hearing

rumors that they`re going to pull cruise ships up the Arkansas River to

downtown Tulsa for the overflow, there`s going to be a cruise ship

component to this too.


At that point, I`m not sorry. At that point, I have advice for you, which

is run the other direction.


We`ll be right back.






REPORTER: June 19th, or for many, Juneteenth.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s the day African-Americans throughout this country

celebrate their independence from child slavery.


REPORTER: But leaders in the community like Tulsa County District 1

Representative Vanessa Hall Harper say this year, the anticipation is more




for something very bad to happen here in Tulsa.


REPORTER: Because as the annual Juneteenth celebration remains canceled due

to safety concerns –


HALL-HARPER: That celebration was canceled, we made that decision a month

ago because of COVID.


REPORTER: President Trump will hold a rally that same day at the BOK



HALL-HARPER: And it`s just a total slap in the face and it`s just a total

insensitivity to not only what`s going on here locally in Tulsa but also

what`s going on nationally in this country.




MADDOW: A slap in the face she calls it. That`s Tulsa, Oklahoma, City

Councilwoman Vanessa Hall Harper, speaking with reporter Dane Hawkins at

the NBC affiliate in Tulsa. Slap in the face.


And, of course, it`s not just a slap in the face because the president is

holding his first re-election rally on Juneteenth but specifically because

he`s going to do that in Tulsa. Tulsa is the site of what is widely

considered to be the single worst incident of racial violence in American

history, the 1921 massacre of hundreds of African-Americans at the hands of

organized white rioters, who looted and burned with what was then known as

black Wall Street.


We`re coming up on the centennial of when that happened and Tulsa has been

very focused on that anniversary as it approaches.


Vanessa Hall Harper now represents that part of Tulsa, Greenwood District.

She`s the only African-American on the Tulsa City Council. She was elected

in 2016, that was just a couple months after a white Tulsa police officer

shot and killed a black driver named Terence Crutcher. That led to protests

in Tulsa after that officer was acquitted the following year.


Earlier this year, looked like Counselor Harper`s proposal for a public

referendum on an independent oversight body for the Tulsa police was poised

positive pass city council until the last minute two of the her fellow

councilors pulled their support and their proposal failed.


Now, though, it does feel like things might change. Tulsa has been

convulsed over the rest of the country with protests over the killing of

George Floyd. The mayor of Tulsa and city council and city`s first African-

American police chief, who`s been on the job only a few months, say they

are now working on a set of police reforms for Tulsa. But as if to

highlight exactly what they`re up against, this week a white Tulsa police

major went on a local conservative talk radio show and he said on that show

he`s sure systemic racism in policing doesn`t exist.


And in fact, I`m going to give you the direct quote here so you do not

think I`m exaggerating this. He said, and I quote directly, quote: All of

the research on this says, we`re shooting African-Americans about 24

percent less than we probably ought to be based on the crimes being



That Tulsa police major says he was taken out of context and it was a,

quote, hypothetical discussion of statistics. Again, what he said was,

we`re shooting African-Americans about 24 percent less than we probably

ought to be. That is what he said.


That Tulsa police major has been condemned from those remarks from

everybody to Tulsa`s mayor, to its police chief, to state legislators. The

president of the Tulsa Black Officers Coalition, who I should mention is

the husband of Councilor Vanessa Hall Harper, he held a press conference

this week to single out the police major who made those comments as an

example of the culture of policing that we are fighting against here in



But don`t worry, everything should cool off in Tulsa soon. One week from

tonight, President Trump will be there for his first big rally for his re-

election campaign held indoors at a 19,000 person arena in downtown Tulsa

as, incidentally, Tulsa hits a new record high in its coronavirus cases.


Joining us now is Tulsa City Counselor Vanessa Hall-Harper.


Councilor Harper, thank you so much for making time for us tonight. I

really appreciate you joining us.


HALL-HARPER: Thank you so much for the opportunity. I`m a big fan.


MADDOW: Oh, thank you.


I`m a big fan of Tulsa. I did a book tour a million years ago this past

year and took my first stop in the country in Tulsa after leaving New York

and had such a warm welcome and had such a good time and had such great

food and so enjoyed myself. I feel like Tulsa has a little piece of my



And I feel concerned about where you`re at right now in terms of the

pandemic, where you`re at right now dealing with concerns about police

violence and racism. Let me just ask you top line for how you feel your

city is doing right now with these multiple challenges?


HALL-HARPER: We are in a very, very difficult place. With the president

coming here at this time, it`s very concerning to me. It`s very concerning

to me. I think, and I fear something very bad may happen very quickly.


And so, I`m really in a state of just – still shock, disappointment and

anger that he chose to come to Tulsa on June 19th, when we celebrate the

emancipation. And I think it`s just – it`s a poke, it`s intentional. It

has to be intentional for a decision to be made like that.


And I fear for my community. I fear for my community in particular.


MADDOW: We played that clip of you explaining how Tulsa traditionally has a

big Juneteenth celebration and as you said, that was called off this year

because of concerns about coronavirus. Because those kinds of events just

aren`t happening.


Now that there is going to be a big congregate event that night with the

president`s rally, I understand that a coalition of organizations in Tulsa

just announced there will be a Juneteenth rally for justice that night,

just sort of counterprogramming the president`s events. I just want to ask

what your expectations for that. And what the balance is for thinking about

doing something like that both the political need to show up and both the

concerns about why events like that have been canceled.


HALL-HARPER: I think that decision was made to show Tulsa and this country

that we are not okay with the president making the decision or his campaign

staff, whatever, making that decision to come here to Tulsa. I`m also very

concerned about the COVID-19 crisis but I understand that there are efforts

under way to make sure that everyone has masks.


We certainly don`t have to worry about our community, citizens, wearing

those masks. I`m more concerned about those individuals that are attending

the Trump rally where they`re told, you know, oh, they`re embarrassed about

wearing masks. And so those – the individuals that I`m aware of that are

in the planning process, they`re very concerned about that and they`re

taking all necessary precautions possible in order to ensure safety.


So I can guarantee you that not only the COVID crisis is of a primary

importance of not doing all we can to not spread but also we`re more

concerned about making a statement that it is not okay for the president to

come here for Juneteenth for ground zero, the worse race massacre that ever

took place in this country.


So I get both sides. I really do. And I am concerned. I am concerned about

obviously not spreading COVID but also I`m concerned that something may

blow up and then we end up having citizens hurt and harmed by law



So I`m really in an unstable place right now but I`m just going to continue

to pray and hope for the best.


MADDOW: I hear your concern. I hear it both in your words and in your



Tulsa City Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper, thank you very much for your

time. I want to wish you and your constituents good luck in the week ahead.

I know these are trying times. But keep us apprise, I`d love to have you



HALL-HARPER: Absolutely. Thank you so much.


MADDOW: All right. Much more ahead tonight this Friday night. Stay with us.




MADDOW: It`s kind of hard to remember now, but there was a time when you

could count the number of coronavirus cases in the United States on your

fingers. Our first case was reported on January 21 in Washington state. A

few days later, there was one in Chicago and then two cases in California.


By January 26th, we were up to five known cases in the whole country. But

then in February, we got this one very ominous sign of what was to come. At

that point we`re counting a case here, case there, figuring out where each

case might have come from.


And then there was this. I remember the chill reverberating down my spine

when I first heard this because it was the news of the first known outbreak

in the United States where it wasn`t just a person here or a person there,

it was a place where potentially dozens of people had become infected all

in the same place.




REPORTER: Here`s what we know tonight, two people were diagnosed with

coronavirus at the Life Care Center of Kirkland nursing home, where we are

set up tonight.


Two people, a caretaker in her 40s and resident in her 70s, tested positive

for coronavirus, and doctors are concerned an outbreak may be happening

here. Public health King County said more than 50 others associated with

Life Care who have respiratory symptoms are being monitored. Some are





MADDOW: More than 50 others with respiratory systems being monitored. What?

Just remember like the blood draining out of me when I first heard that.


That was the first word we had in this country about a whole lot of people

all apparently getting this virus all at the same place, a congregate

facility in which everybody got infected. And ultimately, at least 100

people got the virus at one nursing home in Kirkland, Washington. Dozens of

people died at that one nursing home in Kirkland, Washington, just outside

of Seattle.


And that first-known outbreak in February, of course, would just be the

first. It was the start of a nationwide calamity in long-term care

facilities of all kind. A calamity that has still not been mapped in full,

even as those facilities continue to be the place where more Americans die

than any other place from this virus that`s now killed more than 113,000 of



It wasn`t until mid-April that the federal agency responsible for

overseeing nursing homes announced that facilities like this would be

required to report all of their cases. And the government would publish

that data. It seemed like good news the federal government was finally at

least going to collect that information and publish it.


That data, such as it is, finally arrived last week. Does that data finally

help us get our heads around how big the problem is and how bad the problem

has been in nursing homes in these places where the most Americans have

died from this thing?


Well, how good is the data they just released? Well, for example, if you

look up in these new federal statistics, the Life Care Center of Kirkland,

Washington, the place where we know there was that first terrible fatal

outbreak, the new federal data on nursing homes shows zero deaths at that

facility, even though we know dozens of people who lived there died from

this virus.


“The New York Times,” the federal government undercounted the number of

deaths in U.S. nursing homes. Local coverage in Indianapolis, Indiana,

government data about COVID-19 in nursing homes is deeply flawed. Local

coverage in Texas, quote: Feds nationwide nursing home data expansive but



“The Connecticut Post” compared the federal data released by the Trump

administration with what the state offered and found, quote, the numbers

from the federal government at best paint half the picture and are far less

accurate than available state figures.


The discrepancies were vexing enough that the “Detroit Free Press” just

said they would flat out not be listing detailed information on individual

facilities without more vetting. Meaning, the federal government published

data that he said was representative of what was going on in individual

nursing homes, including those in and around Detroit and in Michigan the

“Detroit Free Press” looked at those numbers and thought they were so bad

and so wrong, they would not publish them or repeat them.


That`s what the Trump administration has done in terms of nursing homes and

data. The failure is people who lived in nursing homes asked for data. What

they got was an absolute mess.


It`s kind of like what we`re learning has happened as nursing homes have

begged for protective equipment for their staff. You might remember Vice

President Pence making a big photo-op delivering boxes to a nursing home

while not wearing a mask alongside his press secretary, who later tested



You know, that`s politics, right, the big photo-op. Here`s the on-the-

ground reality, “The Wall Street Journal” reporting, nursing homes say some

protective gear sent by FEMA is unusable. Quote: The blue gowns were large

and not fitted, requiring tape to secure them, nursing home executive said.

To remove them would require ripping them, likely exposing the wearer to

the virus if the gown had been contaminated.


One nursing home he administrator describing the gowns as, quote, glorified

garbage bags.


So, here we are. The federal government sending gowns that are glorified

garbage bags that look like gardening tarps, gowns in some cases that don`t

have arm holes in them, sending them those to health care workers at

nursing homes, where we still don`t have a clear sense how many people are

getting sick, how many people are dying or have died.


I mean, we`ve been talking about nursing homes as being the most dangerous

place for Americans in terms of this pandemic for months now. You would

think that having months to work on it while tens of thousands of Americans

die in these facilities would at least give the federal government a little

bit of a chance to get its act together when it comes to these facilities,

right? When it comes to the riskiest place on earth in terms of

coronaviruses, right?


We`ve got the worst pandemic in the country – sorry, in the world, and the

place where more Americans are dying from this virus is in nursing homes.

The federal government regulates them. What is it doing? Not counting

what`s going on there and sending them junk and telling them good luck,

pose for the photo-op.


This is not getting any better. The fact that the nursing home problem is

old now doesn`t mean it`s improving. This is in fact a deepening crisis,

where a U-turn is desperately needed.


Hold that thought.






REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): Forty thousand, that is the latest estimate of

how many Americans in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities

have lost their lives as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. So let`s be

clear, these 40,000 Americans deserved better. Their deaths represent a

failure of our nation to protect our people.




MADDOW: Congressman James Clyburn at the congressional hearing yesterday on

the devastating impact of the coronavirus crisis on America`s nursing home.

House subcommittee hearings are not necessarily known for being fiery. This

one was in part for several members attending this hearing, this was



Congresswoman Maxine Waters lost her sister to COVID-19. Her sister

contracted it at a nursing home. Congresswoman Waters was there for the

hearing, recognized by her colleagues, shared their condolences.


One of the biggest nursing home outbreaks in the whole country because in

the district represented by Maryland Congressman Jamie Raskin.




REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): But it took more than two months after the very

first outbreak for the Trump administration on May 11th simply to urge

residents and staff of nursing homes to be tested. And that wasn`t

developing a plan to do it. It was just words, saying you guys should be

tested and there`s no still no nationwide testing plan, contact tracing

plan, enforcement plan.




MADDOW: The calamity in American nursing homes will be remembered as one of

our government`s colossal and fatal screw-ups when the history of this

epidemic is written. But it didn`t have to be this way.


Dr. David Grabowski is a leading health policy expert from Harvard Medical

School. Here is part of his testimony at that congressional hearing






Let me start by being blunt. COVID has completely devastated U.S. nursing

homes. It didn`t have to be this way. What do I mean by that?


Much of the negative impact of COVID in nursing homes could have been

avoided. However, rather than prioritizing the safety of the 1.3 million

individuals who live in nursing homes and the staff that care for them, we

failed to invest in testing, PPE and the workforce. We allowed a problem

that could have been contained to grow into a national crisis.




MADDOW: It did not have to be this way.


Joining us now is Dr. David Grabowski, professor of healthcare policy at

Harvard Medical School.


Doctor Grabowski, I really appreciate you making time to be here tonight.



GRABOWSKI: Thank you, Rachel.


MADDOW: Congressman Clyburn opened the hearing by saying that nursing home

deaths account for 40,000 deaths of – among the roughly 113,000 Americans

who have died already.


Do you think that`s accurate? Do you think we have a general true sense of

the scale of the problem in nursing homes and how many people have died

there from this virus?


GRABOWSKI: We actually don`t have a full count, and that`s incredibly sad.

You mentioned earlier just the issue with the incomplete data.


So we started back in March with this pandemic. The federal government

wasn`t recording data. They finally put together this national database

here in June, actually, sort of starting in May into June, and we don`t

have a complete record going back to the start of this pandemic. It`s

absolutely ridiculous.


So with 40,000 deaths, that`s actually probably an underestimate to a lot

of us.


MADDOW: We`ve seen the federal government not do very much when it comes to

nursing homes, particularly from my view given the scale of death in these

facilities, just how many Americans have lost their lives, how many

infections there have been.


We have seen a sort of highly publicized effort from the federal government

to send boxes of PPE to nursing homes. There has been some pretty harsh

coverage over the past few days, though, that it seems like a lot of what

the government has been sending homes is not expected. It is not designed

to meet the specific needs of those homes and in some cases, it`s junk, or

at least unrelated to the needs of a typical nursing home in terms of how

they serve their patients.


What do you make of that effort? Should the federal government even be

trying to do that or is it just that they should be doing it and they`re

just failing to execute?


GRABOWSKI: The federal government should absolutely be providing PPE to all

of our nursing homes across the country. The federal government, as you

mentioned earlier, agreed to provide two weeks of PPE to every nursing home

in the country. Clearly, nursing homes need more than two weeks, but at

least that was a start.


However, most of the PPE that has been shipped is actually unusable. And in

some nursing homes they`re actually still waiting on that PPE. This is part

of our national shame around this issue.


PPE is the number one weapon towards citing the virus in nursing homes, the

fact that we`re sending out this staff that are not always appreciated as

much as other direct caregivers but these nursing home staff are heroes.

They deserve PPE. They deserve testing.


We need to make certain we have PPE in every nursing home in the country.

And the fact that we`re shipping, you know, glorified garbage bags to our

caregivers is absolutely unacceptable.


MADDOW: I feel like anybody flipping the channels and coming across this

discussion that you and I are having right now might think this show is a

re-run because the discussion about not having – the importance of PPE and

not having PPE, and needing to get PPE to front line providers who don`t

have it feels like a discussion that we had as a country in March. We have

stopped having that discussion. People assume that means the fix – that

things have been fixed.


I mean, setting aside whether or not health care workers in hospitals have

adequate access to PPE, which is a whole other discussion, I just feel like

this nursing home situation sort of advanced in public consciousness enough

to define for them what the problem is and zero progress has been made

toward making things any better, toward getting testing to them in a

systemic way, toward getting them PPE, toward getting them the support that

they need, toward getting them staffing support that they need to be able

to properly care for this incredibly vulnerable population.


I despair that things aren`t getting better after all this time.


GRABOWSKI: I completely agree on that point. We have been in the loop now

for weeks, literally. We failed to learn back in March from the lessons in

Europe and China. Then we failed to learn over the last three months from

the lessons of Kirkland. So, basically, as you just suggested, Rachel,

we`re basically in the same place we were three months ago with testing and



At what point are we going to start paying attention to nursing homes? If

you want to contain the coronavirus in this country, it starts with nursing

homes. That`s where the cases are. That`s where the deaths are. That`s

where we need to put our resources and our attention.


MADDOW: Yeah. And it`s not going to come from the top down. We cannot count

on the federal government, which oversees these facilities to get this

right. They have proven that now. And the energy here is going to have to -

- have to come from somewhere else.


Dr. David Grabowski, professor of healthcare policy at Harvard Medical

School, I really appreciate you being here tonight. I get very upset about

this issue, but your clarity on it is really helpful and grounding. Thank



GRABOWSKI: Thanks, Rachel. I appreciate your attention on this issue.




All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.




MADDOW: That is going to do it for us tonight.


I will give you one last note in terms of what`s coming up at the beginning

of next week. You might have heard a little noise today about Trump

national security adviser John Bolton teasing the content of his new book.

You`ll remember that John Bolton refused to testify or handily avoided

testifying during the Democrats impeachment – Democratic impeachment

proceedings against Trump late last year. He`s now written a book in which

he says he included everything he testified about had he been man enough to

get up there and swear under oath and say his piece when it mattered.


The anger at John Bolton being willing to do this for money for his book

rather than doing this under oath has been absolutely palpable all day



But I`ll tell you early next week, we are going to be speaking to a former

senior government – senior government official who I am very much looking

forward to hearing from who may be a little bit of the antidote to John

Bolton, and that is Robert Gates.


Former Defense Secretary Bob Gates is going to be joining us live here on

Tuesday night as his new book comes out. I couldn`t be happier about it.


All right. That does it for us tonight. See you again on Monday.


Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD”, where Ali Velshi is in for Lawrence



Good evening, Ali.







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