kill coronavirus TRANSCRIPT: 3/13/20, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell
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
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To unleash the full power of
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
YAMICHE ALCINDOR, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: You said that you don`t take
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(ON THE PHONE)
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
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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 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?
BINA VENKATARAMAN, EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR, “THE BOSTON GLOBE”: So, I`m not a
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
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.
VENKATARAMAN: 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
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.
DR. ZEKE EMANUEL, FORMER OBAMA WHITE HOUSE HEALTH POLICY ADVISOR: Sorry,
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?
DR. ROB DAVIDSON, EMERGENCY MEDICINE PHYSICIAN: You know, I think it
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
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
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
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?
DR. ZEKE EMANUEL, CHAIR, DEPARTMENT OF MEDICAL ETHICS AND HEALTH POLICY:
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
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?
DR. SUE VARMA, CLINICAL ASST PROF OF PSYCHIATRY, NYU MEDICAL CENTER: Yes.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
SHARON EPPERSON, CNBC SR. PERSONAL FINANCE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we can`t
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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Copyright 2020 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are
protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the