kill coronavirus TRANSCRIPT: 3/13/20, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell

Ro Khanna, Bina Venkataraman, Zeke Emanuel, Rob Davidson, Joseph Fair, Sue Varma, Sharon Epperson


JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Good Friday evening. I`m Joy Reid. And this is a 

special edition of the Last Word. Donald Trump says that he takes no 

responsibility for the testing failures that have hazen the spread of the 

coronavirus in the United States, because of course he doesn`t. We`ll be 

joined tonight by MPR`s Yamiche Alcindor, who challenged Trump today at his 

news conference asking him to explain to the American people why he 

disbanded the Obama era White House Pandemic Office and of course, Trump 

attacked her question as nasty. 


Plus, breaking news, Donald Trump fully supports the coronavirus 

legislation that Nancy Pelosi negotiated and that should pass in the House 

tonight. Congresswoman Ro Khanna, whose district has been hard hit by the 

virus will join us. 


All the news from today in just a moment. And also this hour, experts will 

be answering your questions about the coronavirus pandemic. We`ll be joined 

by Dr. Zeke Emanuel, epidemiologist and MSNBC science contributor. Joseph 

Fair, E.R. – sorry contributor Joseph Fair. E.R. Doctor Robert Davidson, 

psychiatrist Dr. Sue Varma and Today`s show personal finance correspondent 

Sharon Epperson. 


If you have a question about symptoms or hygiene, travels, school closures, 

how to claim you – how to calm your kids, whether you can contract 

coronavirus from a package delivery, if you should attend your 

grandmother`s 95th birthday. What should you do about your retirement fund 

with the stock market influx? We want to hear all of it. And you can 

contact us with questions via Twitter, Facebook or Instagram or via email 

and if we don`t get to your question tonight, do not worry. My colleagues 

Chris Jansing and Joshua Johnson are fielding questions weekdays at 1:00 

p.m. on MSNBC. 


But we begin tonight with this, Donald Trump is not good at being 

president. I mean, everyone is good at something and I`m sure there is 

something that Donald Trump is also good at. But being president is not it. 

This afternoon, this was Trump attempting to be president. 





the federal government and this effort today I`m officially declaring a 

national emergency. Two very big words. Our overriding goes to stop the 

spread of the virus and to help all Americans who have been impacted by 

this. And this will pass. This will pass through and we`re going to be even 

stronger for it. 




REID: A very big words. He was asked my MSNBC`s Kristen Welker if he takes 

responsibility for the failures that his own expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci has 

testified to, under oath, in Congress. Here is what Trump said. 




KRISTEN WELKER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Dr. Fauci said earlier this week 

that the lag in testing was, in fact, a failing. Do you take responsibility 

for that and when can you guarantee that every single American who needs a 

test will be able to have a test? What`s the date of that? 


TRUMP: Yes, no, I don`t take responsibility at all because we were given a 

set of circumstances and we were given rules, regulations and 

specifications from a different time. 




REID: I don`t take responsibility at all. And there it is. Except that a 

president`s job is to take responsibility. It is to be where the buck 

stops. Particularly where your administration fails and Trump`s utter 

failures to utter – to even recognize the seriousness of the coronavirus 

outbreak are pretty evident, even after it had become a global pandemic, 

that is why we`re here. 


Trump is why we have barely tested any Americans and don`t know how many 

are infected or had been exposed. Right now there are over 2100 known cases 

in nearly all 50 states, with 50 deaths. But health officials predict those 

numbers are low, because, because of the lack of testing precisely because 

of that. Trump is why it`s almost impossible to get tested at all for most 

Americans. Trump is why we don`t have the WHO test that the rest of the 

world has and why the CDC is scrambling to have tests here. 


Trump is why millions of his followers believe coronavirus is a hoax. That 

it is even real. So, why take precautions? Why take precautions at CPAC? 

Why take precautions in meeting with your favorite dictator who`s 

reportedly tested positive and now he claims negative for covid-19. Trump 

is why the U.S. response is now ranked near the bottom of the world. But he 

doesn`t take any responsibility. White House correspondent Yamiche 

Alcindor, who will join us in a moment, pressed him on that today. 





responsibility, but you did disband the White House Pandemic Office and the 

officials that were working in that office left this administration 

abruptly. So what responsibility do you take to that and officials that 

worked in that office said that you – that the White House lost valuable 

time because that office was disbanded. What do you make of that? 


TRUMP: Well, I just think it`s a nasty question because what we`ve done is 

– and Tony had said numerous times that we saved thousands of lives 

because of the quick closing and when you say me, I didn`t do it. We have a 

group of people. I could – 


ALCINDOR: Your administration – 


TRUMP: I could ask perhaps – my administration, but I could perhaps ask 

Tony about that because I don`t know anything about it. 




REID: I didn`t do it. I didn`t know anything about it except it`s his 

administration and his decision. Now you`d be forgiven if you missed it 

today, but Trump also declared a national emergency, and in halting robotic 

fashion, he read out a number of things that he claims that his 

administration is bound doing, including cutting student loan interest 

payments. Which means, you still have to pay a bill, but it`s less, I 

guess. And helping the oil industry. 


What that has to do with the coronavirus outbreak, no one knows nor is it 

clear what Trump praising CEOs in having his experts including Dr. Fauci, 

as well as his ever (INAUDIBLE) vice president extravagantly praise him, 

thus to help you. But the main message of Trump`s talk today, what came to 

most clearly was this message, it`s not my fault. Don`t blame me, blame 

somebody else. Not my fault. Not my fault. 


Trump was not at all impressive today, no more than he was in his Oval 

Office address. He also again showed no empathy, no ideas, nothing that 

could be called presidential. And I suppose we can be thankful, however, 

that at least he didn`t tank the stock market again. Trump had refused to 

work with Speaker Nancy Pelosi to hammer out a deal for bill that would 

provide paid sick leave, unemployment assistance to those affected by the 

coronavirus outbreak. Because he thought she would try to humiliate him. 


The deal got negotiated anyway without him. And just an hour ago Trump 

tweeted that he would sign the House`s emergency coronavirus relief 

package, because apparently his help wasn`t needed. Perhaps he`ll not help 

again so it can pass in the Senate when Mitch McConnell finishes his long 

lazy weekend and the Senate comes back to work. 


Leading off our discussion tonight is Democratic Congressman Ro Khanna, 

he`s calling us from the capital where lawmakers are working to pass this 

bill. Let`s start with you, Congressman, and tell us first of all about the 

negotiations. Donald Trump did not initially want to negotiate with the 

speaker but ultimately, a negotiation did happen. Can you just walk us 

through that, I guess as supposed with Steve Mnuchin but – just walk us 

through how this all played out. 




REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): Sure, Joy. We were out to vote on the package this 

evening and we`ve been pushing for weeks to make sure that we offer free 

testing for anyone who wants to get a coronavirus test that we have paid 

leave so that people who are sick don`t feel compelled to come to work. 

That we are putting some resources, some financial assistance to families. 

I mean, when schools are closed, we need to make sure the kids are going to 

have a lunch that they are going to have food security. 


And finally, after weeks of saying this, the president is finally willing 

to engage, my sense is the reason it took so long is the White House wanted 

a deal. They realize they need a deal given the catering stock market and 

they actually had push back from some of the Republicans in the Senate and 

the House. So Mnuchin would say there is a deal, we are about to vote 

earlier today and then the White House box, because a push back with the 

Republicans. I think finally the president just tweeted out that he 

supports this. He knows he needed this deal. 


REID: Yes, I`m going to – Donald Trump earlier in the press conference he 

did today, this is what he said and this was before the deal was announced. 

This is how he spoke about the Democrats with whom he was negotiating. Take 

a listen. 




TRUMP: Well, we just don`t think they`re giving enough. We don`t think the 

Democrats are giving enough. We`re negotiating. We thought we had something 

but all of a sudden, they didn`t agree to certain things that they agreed 

to. So, we could have something but we don`t think they`re giving enough. 

They`re not doing what`s right for the country. 




REID: In that word salad, it sounded as if there were saying that the 

Democrats aren`t giving enough of what? And the questions is, of what? 

There had been talk from the president that he wanted help for hotels. 

Weird. He happens to also own hotels and lease out hotels. There was 

something they wanted for the shale oil industry. Can you just tell us is 

that kind of thing in this bill? 


KHANNA: It`s absolutely not in this bill, nor is a payroll tax cut that 

would have helped employers, that`s not in the bill. But if you notice, 

Joy, as you pointed out, I mean, the president didn`t say what they want. 

It was just a vague abstraction. Actually the Democrats, one of the things 

we`ve been pushing for, Tim Ryan and I had said, let`s get $1,000 cash 

infusion into people who are making less than $65,000 a year and the 

economists Jason Farman and others said that`s the biggest thing you could 

do to prevent a bad recession and let`s say increase consumer demand. 


And so the Democrats have been proposing real ideas for a learning of the 

experience of 2008 and what we need to do to make sure we increase consumer 

demand and that the economy doesn`t crash, that we`re helping working 

families and fortunately, the speaker was outstanding. I mean, we basically 

got our priorities and we did not give any bailouts to the industry or 

anything that this president was asking for corporations. 


REID: Yes, that`s good to know. The speaker does a very good job at this. I 

want to read you a little bit from The New York Times article that came out 

today, it talks about the worst case estimate for U.S. Coronavirus deaths. 

And here it`s what it says, between 160 million and 214 million people in 

the United States could be infected over the course of the epidemic 

according to one projection that could last months or even over a year with 

infections concentrated in shorter periods, staggered across time in 

different communities, experts said. 


As many as 200,000 to 1.7 million people could die and the calculations 

based on the CDC`s scenario suggested 2.4 million to 21 million people in 

the United States could require hospitalization, potentially crushing the 

nation`s medical system, which is only about 925,000 staffed hospital beds, 

fewer than one-tenth for those for people who are critically ill. 


Is there anything in this bill that could have (INAUDIBLE) the potential 

burdens on our health care system which does not seem at all prepared to 

deal with a pandemic of that magnitude? 


KHANNA: Well, Joy, these are sobering statistics that you cite and I do 

think that testing and making sure the testing is free will help but 

frankly, as you pointed out in the beginning of your show, this should have 

been done a month ago when everyone realized that the coronavirus was 

spreading in China and people like Ron Klein who helped stop the Ebola 

crisis was out there saying this government needs to do something, why 

didn`t we have testing then? 


I mean, if the president can get expedited approval for 500,000 tests 

today, why wasn`t all of this done a month ago? And you know what the 

biggest irony is? The president in 2018 got rid, I mean, you can`t invent 

this stuff up, he got rid of the Pandemic Office in the White House. The 

task force that was responsible for stopping exactly these type of 

pandemics and you look at other countries like South Korea or Singapore 

that have gotten things under control is because they have a federal task 

force coordinating the command center, coordinating the response this 

president doesn`t have that. 


REID: Yes. And just to give you a few bullet points for the viewers on this 

bill, the bill that – just tell me if this is in the bill. Free 

coronavirus testing for everyone, for all Americans, two weeks of paid sick 

family and medical leave, strengthening unemployment insurance, boosting 

food security initiatives, all of that is in the bill. Is there anything 

else that I`m leaving out that people should know is in this bill? 


KHANNA: That is the outline of the bill and of course, the school lunches 

and the food security is a big part of it. But we need more. I mean, the 

testing is not enough as you pointed out. We need more beds. We need more 

ventilators. We need more capacity for how we`re actually going to make 

sure that our system isn`t over run. If we had had a better response a 

month ago, we may not have had the crisis but we`re behind the eight ball 

and so at this point, we know a lot of people will get unfortunately 

infected and we`re not prepared. 


REID: Very quickly, before I let you go. I know your district has been hard 

hit by this outbreak. Can you as a member of Congress get tested if you 

wanted to be tested today? Could you get tested? 


KHANNA: I could. I mean, I imagine I could now with the new testing, I 

could go and get tested. I would say, though, that the tests still aren`t 

prevalent enough so people shouldn`t go and get tested unless they have 

some risk factor or some concern because otherwise, then we may run out of 

tests for the people who really need them. 


So, I mean, this is a time – look, the government let us down and so the 

best we can do is we all have to rise to the occasion, use appropriate 

social distancing and not be going into places that have large gatherings, 

being careful about washing our hands and being careful about not spreading 

the disease and doing what we can to help those who are less fortunate in 

the community. Unfortunately, in our district a lot of the tech leaders had 

stepped up to help some of the hospitals to try to build capacity and we 

all need to do our part. 


REID: Congressman Ro Khanna, thank you very much for taking some time out. 

I know you have to run and deal with voting tonight and the rest of these 

bills. So, thank you. Thank you for your time. 


KHANNA: Thank you. Thank you for having me on. 


REID: Thank you. We`re also now joined by Yamiche Alcindor, White House 

correspondent for the PBS News Hour and MSNBC political analyst and Bina 

Venkataraman, who has served as an adviser to President Obama during the 

Ebola epidemic and she is now editorial page editor for the Boston Globe. 

Thank you both for being here. 


And Yamiche I have to start with you. Your question to Donald Trump was 

dismissed as a nasty question. And you know, I wish someone else had 

followed up on it, but can you just from the reporting standpoint, just 

confirm for us who is it that got rid of this office because Donald Trump 

says he knew nothing about it. 


ALCINDOR: Well, it was the Trump administration. The Obama administration 

had this office set up after the Ebola crisis and they had people 

specifically looking at monitoring pandemics, looking out for things like 

SARS or Polio. And President Trump got elected, he kept it for the first 

two years of his administration and then around 2018, he decided that he 

wanted to disband it and what you saw was health officials, top health 

officials who are experts on things like viruses that are spreading very 

quickly, they left the administration abruptly. 


That was then – that group was then disbanded and it was never, ever 

brought back together. There was never anybody that was replaced to deal 

specifically with pandemics. So, what you saw was the president say, we had 

to save money and that`s why we had to get rid of this group and today, 

when I was pressing him on why that happened, which of course, this 

happened under his administration. 


It was John Bolton, the national security adviser, this was the National 

Security Council, he said he knew nothing about it which of course is 

stunning given the fact that if he`s telling the truth, the president means 

that he didn`t know what was going on in his administration and if he isn`t 

telling the truth, which seems more likely at this point, then, you have a 

president who is just saying well, I`m completely aloof and don`t want any 

responsibility for this pandemic. 


REID: Yes and very quickly, and first of all, congratulations to you on 

just standing up for yourself. I saw you trying to follow up, but we 

couldn`t hear you. One of our reporters say that, what happens is the mics 

get cut after the president decides he`s finished with a reporter. He 

doesn`t want to talk anymore. In fact was your mic cut after you asked the 



ALCINDOR: That`s right. I was trying to ask a follow-up question to say, it 

was your National Security Council but you he couldn`t hear me because the 

White House cut off the mics. 


REID: Yes. Interesting. Just for the audience here, Beth Cameron actually 

served as a senior Director for this office, the Global Health Security and 

Bio Defense Office in the White House National Security Council wrote an 

op-ed about the counsel being shut down. It was titled, I ran the White 

House pandemic office, Trump closed it. It`s impossible to assess the full 

impact of the 2018 decision to disband the White House Office responsible 

for this work. She wrote, biological experts do remain in the White House 

and in our government but it`s clear that eliminating the office has 

contributed to the federal government`s sluggish domestic response. 


What`s especially concerning about the absence of the office today is that 

it was originally set up because of a previous epidemic made the need of it 

quite clear. Pandemic threats may not arise every year but the White House 

should constantly prepare for them. We can`t afford for federal decision 

makers to waste time relearning old lessons that they should be innovating 

and acting. 


And I want to ask you, Doctor Venkataraman, I hope I`m not pronouncing it 

wrong. Why is it important to have had something like this? An office in 

place whose specialty was dealing with pandemics? What might have been 

different if we had that? 



doctor and you got the name perfect. 


REID: Thank you. 


VENKATARAMAN: This team within the National Security Council played an 

important role. And I will say, I worked with a group of external 

scientists who are also advising the president during that epidemic and the 

critical aspect of that is to have a team of people who are giving the 

president credible, scientific advice about an outbreak as it emerges, who 

are monitoring this situation abroad, who can be anticipating that impact 

as it comes to American soil. 


Now what we know about the president and how President Trump has handled 

this crisis is that he has tried to ignore the advice of scientists and his 

own advisors, notwithstanding not having this team in place. And six weeks 

ago, when the first case was identified in late January in the U.S., he 

wanted to deny that this would be a problem. He reassured the public saying 

this is nothing to worry about. It`s only one person. He did not do what 

was necessary to deploy testing across the United States and what we know 

about pandemic preparedness is that timing is critical. Because outbreaks 

grow exponentially. 


So in these six weeks, where there has been inaction on the part of the 

White House, we have baked in a spread of this virus in the United States 

within our borders, community spread within communities like Seattle, like 

Boston, like New York that can`t be put back in the bag. That said, what 

the president did today, I think, for the first time showed that he`s 

taking this crisis seriously. 


And I do think what`s important about what he announced today in the 

national – in declaring a national emergency is that he`s going to be able 

to mobilize about $50 billion towards building capacity and state and local 

hospitals and health care facilities so that there can be enough hospital 

beds for as this epidemic gets worse, which we know it will and so that 

those boots are on the ground. 


REID: All right. Well, it might help if he also maybe got tested himself 

since he, you know, he was around somebody that might have been exposed to 

it, but we will move on from here. Yamiche Alcindor, well done today and 

Bina Venkataraman, thank you very much for being here, both of you tonight. 


ALCINDOR: Thank you. 




REID: And coming up next, you have questions and we have experts and the 

experts have answers. We got you covered on every aspect of the coronavirus 

crisis and there is still time to ask questions. We`ll be right back on 

this special edition of the Last Word. 




REID: Welcome back to our special edition of the Last Word on the 

coronavirus. And it is now time for your question. And I`m joined now by my 

colleagues Chris Jansing and Joshua Johnson, who had been fielding 

questions all week long during the 1:00 p.m. hour and even working on all 

night tonight collecting and selecting questions from you, from our viewers 

for our experts to answer, let`s get to it. 


Our first round of questions are medical and health related and leading us 

off tonight, let`s introduce our guest as well, Zeke Emanuel, who is an 

oncologist and bioethicist and the vice (INAUDIBLE) for Global Initiatives 

at the University of Pennsylvania. He`s also a former Obama White House 

health policy advisor. Joseph Fair who is a virologist and epidemiologist, 

and an NBC News – a MSNBC Science contributor and Doctor Rob Davidson, he 

is an emergency medicine physician in Michigan, he is also the executive 

director of the committee to protect Medicare. Chris, Joshua, guys go. Go 

for it. 


CHRIS JANSING, MSNBC SHOW HOST: Great question. Zeke, let me start with you 

this is a common one we got repeatedly. Could you get one of the medical 

experts to walk through clearly the symptoms of likely Covid and those that 

are more likely a cold or regular flu or allergies? We need better help 

telling the difference. 



they`re very much the same, so the most common symptom for covid-19 is 

fever, sore throat sometimes, shortness of breath, sometimes. You know, you 

can have a cold, very occasionally been reported diarrhea and you can see 

those symptoms are pretty non-specific. You can have some muscle aches, 

too. All of those things can overlap with regular flu and so it`s very hard 

to distinguish the two of them – 


JANSING: So when does the phone call get made? 


EMANUEL: Well, so, I think – I think that`s really important question. You 

know, if you have some of these symptoms, I think you should self-isolate 

yourself and see if they go away relatively quickly. And if they don`t, 

then I think you call. You know, the usual 14-day isolation, I think, is 

probably, you know, that`s for a suspected exposure to this case. 


But I think it highlights a problem, which is distinguishing people and 

many people don`t know that they`ve actually had covid-19, because they 

either don`t have any symptoms or mild symptoms that can overlap with lots 

of other viral conditions. 


JOSHUA JOHNSON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Right. And at the same time we`re trying to 

figure out the symptoms, we have people with real life health situations 

where they need answers on kind of a timeline. Here is a question Dr. 

Davidson that might be good for you to answer. 


One of our viewers wrote I am nervous about walking into a hospital 

tomorrow for a mammogram and sonogram. I need this exam due to breast pain. 

Hospitals are full of sick people and the mammogram team will be right on 

top of me, should I be concerned? Dr. Davidson? 



incredibly important for people to get mammograms when they need them. So, 

you know, I would trust your local hospital HANKS: they are taking every 

precaution so that any staff members that are potential risks are not 

caring for patients and that certainly any patients that are potential 

risks at the hospital are not interacting with well individuals. So, I 

would tell that person they should feel comfortable and if they`re 

concerned, they can call the hospital and ensure that those measures had 

been taken. 


JOHNSON: Well, I also think it`s worth noting Dr. Davidson that the 

hospitals are taking some measures to reduce the overall number of people 

in the hospital. I have a doctor`s appointment next week and one of the 

things I`ve been hearing on automated messages, you know, you can only 

bring one visitor with you at a time. We`re limiting the number of people 

in the emergency room. So, it seems like hospitals, some of them anyway are 

taking that step now. 


DAVIDSON: Right and we`re encouraging people, you know, if you are 

relatively well, even with symptoms that you think could be Covid, don`t 

just rush into the hospital. I worked last night overnight shift in the 

E.R. and I saw five different patients, one was relatively ill, but in a 

general sense the other four weren`t but they are all just really nervous 

and two of them directly asked me, do you think this is the coronavirus? 


And you know, we don`t have tests. We can`t test those people. They haven`t 

been exposed to anyone, because we have 12 positive tests in Michigan 

because we haven`t been testing, the real world impact of not testing for 

the past six weeks. So, you know, I would urge people to also not clog up 

the emergency departments that way. 


REID: Dr. Davidson, I have a question for you. As a doctor, have you been 

able to get tested? Are doctors and nurses and staff being tested? 


DAVIDSON: We`re not being tested routinely. Certainly, if we came in 

contact with a suspected Covid patient, then we develop symptoms first 

would be self-isolation, but, you know, we have a process to pull people 

out of the work force. You know, that`s again the big concern with not 

testing. We may come into contact with people who are positive and we just 

don`t know it and the guidelines suggest either you have travel from one of 

the listed countries, which to me doesn`t make sense anymore since it`s 

here. We know it`s here and have our own hot spots or if you`ve been 

exposed to a positive patient. What I`ll tell you from myself, I`ve changed 

my practice. 


I always put on a mask in every room before I go in, a regular surgical 

mask, I put on gloves and I pretty much sit by the door at least six feet 

away from my patients when I`m getting their history, when I`m going 

through their discharge and I approach the patient and I tell them very 

directly, I am keeping my distance for your sake and for mine because you 

don`t want to get me sick and I don`t want to get you sick and we want to 

try to stop the spread of this thing. 


You know and they`re appreciative and they like to know that that`s what 

we`re doing. 


JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Dr. Fair, a lot of questions we get are about are we 

tracking this properly? Here`s one. It has been reported that many people 

with Covid-19 are asymptomatic. If this is true how does limiting testing 

to only people with symptoms makes sense? 


DR. JOSEPH FAIR, VIROLOGIST: Well, if you`re asymptomatic, you know we have 

no reason to believe that you`re sick in the first place. That`s the 

problem and then of course, you`ve all heard about the shortage of testing 

so we are prior to prioritizing very high risk groups that do develop 



So it`s the elderly, it`s the underlying conditions, the diabetes, heart 

disease, any kind of pulmonary disease, etcetera and by the way, we do lead 

the world in those underlying conditions with our lifestyles in this 



So that`s problematic to not have a test plus be the world leader in all of 

those underlying conditions. 


JOSHUA JOHNSON, MSNBC HOST: Hey Dr. Emanuel, one more question to you. One 

of our viewers asked why are countries in the southern hemisphere that are 

warmer now still getting hit by the virus? What may or could cost this 

virus to die out? 



Those are two different questions and the first question is you know why 

our southern hemisphere, Australia, Singapore which is equatorial, Israel 

and Egypt which are warmer having these coronavirus, that assumes it`s 

seasonal, that assume it`s supposed to go down when it warms up. 


In fact it may not go down when it warms up at all. It may not be seasonal. 

Some coronaviruses are seasonal but some are not like MERS. It also may be 

the fact that there`s no immunity to this and there is no you know, the 

first wave doesn`t obey the seasonality and maybe by the time we get second 

or third wave, there will be a seasonality to it. 


So it`s not very you know, the fact that it`s showing up in other countries 

may suggest that it`s not going to be seasonal but that also may be a 

result of the fact that there`s no immunity to it and it`s easily spread. 

What`s going to make it go down and disappear? 


Well, herd immunity is the answer. Either enough people get exposed which 

is as I calculate it, you`re going to need over 60 percent of people to be 

exposed given it`s a transmission, our zero the transmission rate or you`re 

going to have people exposed and a vaccine is going to come on board and 

those are the - you know that`s the only way that you`re going to get it. 


You have to get the transmission rate under one for it to go away. 


REID: Wow, Dr. Rob Davidson, thank you for joining us tonight. Everybody 

stay right there. Coming up, our experts are going to take some more of 

your questions and these about the new normal. How are we adjusting to life 

in the middle of this pandemic? 


School closures, leagues and events canceled, working remotely from home, 

possibly while your kids are trying to learn remotely from home, we will 

bring in a psychiatrist. We`ll bring them into our conversation and that`s 





REID: Welcome back to our special edition of the Last Word on the 

Coronavirus pandemic. Thousands of schools are closed. Airports are 

deserted. Arenas are empty. Broadway is dark. Americans are working from 

home, staying home from school. 


Birthday parties and soccer games in church services are being canceled. It 

is our new normal for now and we don`t know when it will end and even if 

when you`re following the guidance, the situation can sometimes force hard 

choices and it`s not always clear what you should do. 


Well, we are here to help. Our experts are back with us doctors Zeke 

Emanuel and Joseph Fair and joining us now Dr. Sue Varma, a clinical 

Assistant Professor of Psychiatry with NYU Langone center. I`m throwing it 

back over. 


CHRIS JANSING, MSNBC HOST: Yes, so Dr. Sue, I would say if there are 

buckets of questions that we get. One of the biggest one is about anxiety. 

People frankly are freaking out. They`re not sleeping well. One person 

joked they`re hoarding toilet paper for no reason. It really has nothing to 

do with this actual pandemic. 


What would you say to people who are trying to deal with this anxiety? 



And Chris, it`s a great point what you`re talking about. Toilet paper 

because hoarding that for a lot of people especially those with anxiety 

gives them something to do, gives them something actionable and it really 

takes them out of their mind. 


So what we`re saying is that people want distraction, they want to be able 

to plan, they want to foresee. They want to have some structure. They want 

to have some routine, some familiarity, some context of where we`re going 

and what I would say that when we talk about anxiety, there`s a productive 

element of anxiety which is OK, what do I need in the home? 


How do I keep my kids active and busy? How do I try to work remotely if I 

have to? How do I keep my sanity during this, right? So that`s the 

productive aspect of it. How can I plan? What do I need to do for the next 

two weeks? What structure and support can I put in place? 


So I feel like as much as possible, we need to empathize and validate this 

experience. This is not normal. This is completely unprecedented and to be 

able to say what you`re going through is absolutely normal. You`re not 

crazy. This is not in your head. Even when I deal with patients who have 

anxiety, I always normalize it. 


I say there`s always a context. There`s a trigger for what you`re feeling 

so but at the same time I say what can you do so that we can lower the 

anxiety so for people who have a history of anxiety, we absolutely must be 

in therapy. We know that cognitive behavioral therapy is extremely 



Six to eight sessions. I`m a big believer in the mindfulness aspect. Taking 

10 or 15 minutes. Take a break even if it`s during your workday. You can be 

in your room, create space so that there`s nothing else going on that it`s 

not virus related. 


Limit the distractions that you have to your phone. I know that, I`m you 

know, hooked to my phone, wanting to know every 10 or 15 minutes and I said 

to myself like this is not helpful, this is not healthy. It`s not going to 

actually make me any more productive. Instead, it`s quite the opposite. 


JOHNSON: Well. On top of that, I think there are plenty of people who have 

enough other things to worry about, can`t blame people for wanting some 

kind of sense of control. Here`s another comment we got from a viewer 

that`s got a big life transition that`s - it`s just kind of ramping up. 


They wrote, “We just had our first child two weeks ago. As new parents, 

we`re constantly balancing whether our anxiety is stemming from just being 

new parents versus our anxiety being escalated because of the pandemic. 

What do you recommend? 


First of all congratulations on the little one. Hope that they are happy 

and healthy and doing well but certainly that`s enough concern. Keeping 

them happy and healthy and doing well. What would you recommend? 


VARMA: You know it`s interesting because when I think about my kids and 

their newborn period, they were born in the winter. You know, a lot of it - 

the new parents are kind of stuck at home anyway and they`re really not 

inviting visitors over so an interesting time but it`s adding heightened 

anxiety to all that are already newborn period. 


And look, just the way that you would say to people, one thing that has to 

be established very clearly is that if there are family members that are 

going to visit, you have to make it extremely clear from the beginning, do 

you have a cough or cold? 


Are you experiencing any temperature? Have you had any risk factors? So 

just the way you would use your routine screening and judgment, I think 

it`s really important here and that newborn period. 


And you know what, parents are sleep deprived at that point, right? So like 

when you are not getting sleep, whether it`s because you`re a newborn baby 

is crying every two hours or whether it`s because you`re having anxiety, 

there`s some real concerns here. 


JANSING: There`s another -


EMANUEL: Can I add one thing here? 




EMANUEL: I think for the viewers, it`s kind of important to understand that 

working from home and what we`re calling social distancing, putting 

distance between you and other people, doesn`t mean quarantine. It doesn`t 

mean you can`t go out. It doesn`t mean you can`t participate in certain 



So one of the things, all my staff at the University of Pennsylvania, we`ve 

you know, closed down on campus and they`re going to work from home and I 

said, remember you can go out and run along the Schuylkill river, you can 

walk in the park, you can do things as long as you`re not interacting with 

other people and getting droplets from them and I think that`s very 



A lot of people think that well, if they have to be at home and socially 

distance, that it`s a quarantine and that I think this - you know, does 

raise the anxiety level and says, I`m stuck at home. No, you`re not stuck 

at home. What it requires is creating that distance between yourself so 

you`re not intersecting with other people`s droplets and potentially 

getting coronavirus from someone who`s infected. 


JANSING: There`s another big bucket of questions. It`s not just about 

interacting with people but interacting with things, from your credit card 

to your phone. Dr. Fair, let me ask you this. I ordered groceries online 

and I have them delivered. Can the person who shops my order at the store, 

transfer virus to produce, jars, boxes, plastic bags, etcetera. Same for 

the delivery person. Are my groceries bags possibly carrying the virus? 

What do I do? 


FAIR: Safe to assume everything is carrying it at this point but we don`t 

have the science behind that yet because this is a new virus to science but 

we know coronaviruses it at least on you know hard surfaces, be it metal, 

wood, etcetera, they can live longer on those surfaces, up to 9 days in 

laboratory studies. 


Best case scenario or best option here is just religiously wash everything 

and wash your hands and that way you at least know you`re safe and that`s 

the only advice we can give at this point. 


JANSING:Is the fact that I`m spraying Lysol on everything OK to do?


FAIR: It is. 


REID: Other than the food.


JOHNSON: Just not to people. 


REID: Not to people. 


JOHNSON: And not my hands. 


REID: Just the things. Just door handles. Everything is sprayed. Dr. Sue 

Varma, thank you so much for joining us tonight and coming up next, it is 

rapid fire question time. Our experts will try to answer as many questions 

as we can on this special edition of Last Word. Stay right there.




REID: Welcome back to a Special Edition of the Last Word where we are 

taking your questions about the coronavirus. All right, I`m throwing it to 

Chris and Joshua. Guys, go for it. Rapid fire.


JOHNSON: Let`s hit in. All right, Dr. Emanuel, let`s start with you. Can 

house flies and other insects, crawling and flying transfer the virus on 

surfaces, Dr. Emanuel?


EMANUEL: Well, they transfer the droplets and move them around but they 

don`t have the virus so that`s not going to be possible. 


JANSING: Can you get the coronavirus by using washers or dryer shared by 

all apartment tenants in the same building. In other words if someone has 

the virus in the building, can it be contracted through the laundry 

facilities, Dr. Fair? 


FAIR: You know again, we haven`t done the science on that but detergents 

naturally break down the envelopes of the virus and then inactivate them 

and then assuming you`re drying them as well, the heat would inactivate 



JOHNSON: Dr. Emanuel, another question for you. I am due to have a baby any 

day. Should I be worried and more importantly, should pregnant women be 

getting tested? 


EMANUEL: We don`t know the answer to that. I actually - my daughter is 23 

weeks pregnant. What we have is a few cases, late in pregnancy and the 

virus didn`t seem to do anything. We don`t know about the early stages and 

whether it`s going to have any effect on early pregnancies. We just don`t - 

it has been repeated several times, don`t have a science. 


JANSING: Well, I`m going to ask you this as well since your daughter is 

pregnant. Can COVID-19 spread through breast milk and how serious can it be 

for newborns? 


EMANUEL: I don`t know the answer to that question and I haven`t seen a 

report on that. 


JOHNSON: Let`s get to another one for Dr. Fair. By the way, we should be 

clear, I don`t know is a perfectly legitimate right now because there`s so 

much -


JANSING: There`s a lot we don`t know. 


JOHNSON: There`s a ton that we don`t know but maybe Dr. Fair, we know this 

one. What`s the temperature I should look for. People are reporting 100 and 

104 degrees. 


JANSING: Is that kill virus?


FAIR: Body temperature or outside temperature?


JOHNSON: I think in terms of the temperature -


JANSING: Like a fever, right?


JOHNSON: Yes, like a fever.


FAIR: I actually have to let my - one of my physician colleagues answer 



JOHNSON: Dr. Emanuel, do you know? 


EMANUEL: No, but it`s an elevated temperature. 100 is probably a little too 

low. We`re probably looking at over 101- 102. 


JANSING: So a lot of the questions again were about should I do my regular 

things so how safe is it to visit the dentist? Are people more at risk for 

getting Covid-19 at the dentist? And then I have an appointment to have my 

haircut next week. Should I go? 


JOHNSON: I got an appointment to get my hair cut tomorrow. I need to know 



JANSING: Well, the point she makes is, I can`t stay six feet away from the 

person who`s washing or cutting my hair. I can`t stay six feet away from my 



EMANUEL: Right and your dentist is you know, hopefully cleaning all the 

instruments and being safe him or herself. This is actually a perfectly 

good case of where the dentist is intersecting with a lot of people as is 

the hairdresser and you know, you have to be - you`re assuming that other 

people aren`t infected. 


There`s no guarantee here. It`s a risk level and we again, we don`t know 

the prevalence in society. I did get my hair cut, ten days ago or something 

and I did go to the dentist about two weeks ago so I think social 

distancing is important but we shouldn`t be go crazy about it. 


JOHNSON: One last question especially important to many people attending 

service on Sunday and especially because the Mormon churches canceled all 

services worldwide at the bicentennial -


JANSING: A lot of churches too.


JOHNSON: A lot churches at the bicentennial of the first revelation of the 

Mormon church. Should I be advising my elderly mother not to attend mass on 

Sunday? I think Dr. Fair in a lot of cases, diocese - there`s already an 

archdiocesan decision where they have decided not to have service but -


FAIR: The vast majority has already decided not to hold services. I just 

saw New Orleans, my home city today announced that 30 days, some said 

dioceses have announced several months already. The Pope as you saw, has 

been giving the Sunday sermon, virtually. 


JOHNSON: Although, I do think this might be one of those areas where people 

can find other solutions. I mean there`s scripture that says that where two 

or three are gathered together, there also shall I be. So it`s not so much 

about the building you`re in but whether you can establish some kind of 

community, maybe in your home, maybe virtually still have that experience. 


FAIR: At least in the Christian church, that`s how it started in the first 

place and so absolutely, that`s the case. We have Catholic T. V. for masses 

for example but you know, there`s services -


REID: Let me ask you very quickly Dr. Fair, before we let you go and this 

has been bugging me for quite a while. Can`t we just get they WHO test? 

Couldn`t the U.S. or you know, I mean a few billionaires just buy the WHO 



FAIR: Absolutely. I mean they would be engaging the company that makes the 

gold standard test which in this case - in this case is Qiagen based out of 

Germany but also has very large offices here in the United States. 


If we had engaged them very early on and, paid them to up ramp their 

production, we`re already at a lot of production but if we had paid them to 

do more, they could do more. 


REID: And it`s - it`s being used all over the world. 


FAIR: It is the gold standard.


REID: Absolutely. Dr. Zeke Emanuel, Joseph Fair, thank you very much for 

joining us and answering our questions, tonight. When we come back, people 

also have questions about the stock market, about the money aspect of it 

and the impact of this pandemic on their personal financial situation. 

CNBC`s personal finance correspondent Sharon Epperson will join us next. 




REID: Joining us now to answer your questions on the economy is Sharon 

Epperson, CNBC`s Senior Personal finance correspondent. 


All right, let`s go for it. 


JOHNSON: All right, Sharon. Let me start with the question from a viewer 

who asks, “I`m in my final semester at a State University. Under normal 

circumstances, I would be starting my career search when I graduate in May. 

How is the devastation we`re seeing from coronavirus going to affect - 

going to change the job market going forward?” Sharon. 



really say what the impact is going to be on jobs, right now but we know 

that it is a difficult time at this moment but it`s a great time for you, 

if you`re home from college, working, doing distance learning right now or 

not in classes to work on your LinkedIn profile, to work on your resume, to 

make sure that you`re putting out all the great things that you have done 

and also getting the cover letter ready for what you want to do next. 


This is the time to prepare. Do not stop looking for that next job. 


JANSING: Hey Sharon, most of the people I know exist as freelancers, one of 

our viewers wrote. We have no unemployment, no employer health insurance 

and we are the first expense cut by our clients. Is there anything in the 

works to help us? 


EPPERSON: Well, we can`t wait for something in the works if we`re in dire 

straits at this moment so focus on what you can do now. Look at your 

emergency fund. If you have one, this is the time to dip into it a little 

bit. You don`t want to deplete this in any way. You may need to put some 

expenses on credit cards. 


You`re looking right now for a low rate, zero rate interest card so that 

you can really put this money on credit but not have to pay a lot, going 

forward if you can get that APR at zero percent for 21 months, that would 

be terrific if you qualify. 


The other thing to think about is again, the last resort scenario is taking 

a loan or taking some money out of a retirement plan and trying to pay back 

as soon as you can but you know, that is a last resort. 


REID: I think that is - oh no, we`re not out of time. No, we`re out of time 

I thought we have more time. 


JOHNSON: But we`ll get more questions later in the weekend and -


REID: Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. So Sharon Epperson, we want to thank you 

first of all, for joining us and answering those great questions tonight. 

Chris Jansing and Joshua Johnson, we want to thank you both for being here. 


We also want to remind you guys here. If you have more questions, it is not 

over. There will be more answers for you Monday at 1:00 PM on MSNBC. 


JANSING: And can I also tell you, we just added 3:00 on Sunday so from 3 to 

4, Joshua and I will be answering more questions. 


REID: 3 to 4 on Sunday. Perfect, excellent. So you guys can get all these 

questions answered because we`re here for you. Thank you guys for joining 

me and you can also catch me, tomorrow morning at 10 A. M. eastern for A.M. 

Joy and then you can join these guys at 3:00. “The 11th Hour” starts next. 




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