$2T economic aid bill TRANSCRIPT: 3/25/20, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
And when you talk about those unemployment numbers that we`re going to see
tomorrow, recession isn`t the word that describes the kind of numbers we`re
going to see tomorrow. This is something else.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, “TRMS”: Yes, yes. And if – I mean, the worst
that – I mean, I remember when they finally gave us the adjusted numbers
for the way the GDP dropped in the Great Recession, right, that way that it
just fell off a cliff, and it kept getting readjusted and readjusted and
readjusted until we got the final numbers and it was this chasm, and the
worst it got was 700,000. We`re going to be –
MADDOW: – an order of magnitude beyond that tomorrow.
O`DONNELL: And, Rachel, I heard you talk about Elmhurst Hospital, the
reporting in “The New York Times” tonight about what`s going on and the
hospital crisis in New York City, one of the reporters of the four reporter
whose wrote that just really dramatic and gut wrenching story are going to
join us in this hour. We`re going to have a lot more to say about what is
going on at Elmhurst Hospital tonight.
MADDOW: Wonderful. Thanks, Lawrence. Get to it.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel. Thank you.
Well, no senator or other federal elected official knows more about the
airline business than Sara Nelson. That the why Sara Nelson has been
working closely with the Democrats on the airline provisions and economic
aid bill in the Senate. Sara Nelson is the president of the Association of
Flight Attendants and now one of the most effective labor leaders
Washington has ever seen. She will join us at the end of this hour.
And Governor Gretchen of Michigan will be joining us in this hour as the
numbers are going up in Michigan on reported coronavirus cases. Governor
Whitmer has the power that Donald Trump wishes that he had. Governor
Whitmer has closed all non-essential businesses in Michigan and only
Governor Whitmer can reopen those businesses, not Donald Trump.
Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut will be joining us for detail on
the economic aid package that the Senate is working.
We begin tonight with the numbers. As of today, the United States has
65,063 cases of coronavirus and 906 reported deaths from coronavirus. By
the time we get to Easter 18 days from now, Donald Trump will deny saying
what he said yesterday about Easter.
Here is what Donald Trump said yesterday, that he already wants you to
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So I think Easter Sunday,
you`ll have packed churches all over our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: All over our country. That means packed churches in California,
in Ohio, in Louisiana. Packed churches in Massachusetts where the churches
usually are packed on Easter Sunday. And, of course, packed churches all
over the country means packed churches in the state of New York, in the
city of New York where Donald Trump grew up and lived his entire life until
we moved to the White House.
Donald Trump has no power whatsoever to send anyone back to work or to
church in this country. Donald Trump has absolutely no power to tell any
businesses in this country to reopen but he pretends that he does have that
power and much of the news media doesn`t seem to realize that Donald Trump
has absolutely no such powers.
Donald Trump has shut down nothing in this country and therefore, there is
nothing that Donald Trump can reopen and every governor that has shut it
down, all non-essential businesses in their states, every one of those
governors including Republican governors are ignoring every word Donald
Trump says about reopening the country as he puts it by Easter.
Republican governor of Massachusetts today announced that he is extending
the closing of all schools in Massachusetts to May 4th. Easter is April
12th. Republican governor of Massachusetts is not listening to Donald
The Republican governor of Idaho today is not listening to Donald Trump. He
has shut down all non-essential businesses in the extremely Republican
state of Idaho. And the governor of Ohio tweeted today, Republican governor
of Ohio tweeted we hope everyone is back in business shortly, but we don`t
think this will peak until May 1st. The only way we slow it down is with
physical, social distancing which of course means not going to work.
Ohio`s Republican Governor Mark DeWine is not listening to Donald Trump.
He`s going to keep Ohio locked down.
Idaho`s Republican Governor Brad Little just today, just today, after
Donald Trump said reopen everything by Easter, just today that Republican
governor in that very Republican state of Idaho said, stay at home, issued
the order today. Donald Trump is going to deny he ever said reopen
everything, all across the country and have packed churches all across the
country by Easter. He`s going to deny he ever said the whole country should
open up by Easter. He`s going to deny everything he said about the packed
churches, just like Donald Trump continues to try to deny that he ever said
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: When you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going
to be down to close to zero, that`s a pretty good job we`ve done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was exactly one month ago, a month ago Donald Trump
promised zero cases, zero. That was his promise to you.
Today, realizing that the governor`s of New York and California are going
to keep at least one-fourth of the American economy that they control
closed down right through Easter and beyond, and realizing that many other
governors are going to do the same thing including Republican governors,
Donald Trump started his march back from what he said yesterday and it
won`t be long before he denies saying what he said yesterday.
Here is what Donald Trump said today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: There are large sections of our country probably can go back much
sooner than other sections and we`re obviously looking at that also. People
are asking is that an alternative? I say absolutely, it is an alternative.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: An alternative to packed churches all over the country on Easter
Sunday. An alternative to Donald Trump`s imagined reopening of the country.
The alternative Donald Trump is talking about is our current situation in
the United States. Currently, 26 states have closed non-essential
businesses. Most states are still pretty much – about half the states
pretty much wide open. Although even in those open states, everyone is
supposed to be living under the Trump administration`s advisory not to
gather in groups of more than 10 people and staying at home as much as
By Easter Sunday, there is virtually no chance that any of the states that
are currently locked down will change their status but it is very likely
there will be more states that are locked down by the time we reach Easter
We know now who won`t be in a packed church on Easter Sunday, Donald Trump
or anyone named Trump, anyone Donald Trump is related to. They were not a
church-going family before Donald Trump became a politician and they aren`t
now. When Donald Trump shared his Easter vision yesterday of packed
churches all over the country with a Fox interviewer, the interviewer
didn`t ruin the delivery of that particular piece of propaganda by asking
the president what church he would be attending on Easter Sunday.
There aren`t going to be any packed churches in the neighborhood where
Donald Trump grew up in the borough of Queens and New York City. New York
state now has the most cases of coronavirus in any state by a very, very
wide margin and New York City is now the epicenter of the pandemic in the
United States and Queens, Queens is the epicenter of the epicenter.
Queens has 30 percent of New York City`s confirmed coronavirus cases. That
is more than any other borough of New York City, including Manhattan, and
Queens also has fewer hospitals than any other borough in New York City.
Elmhurst Hospital opened in Queens in 1832. Elmhurst Hospital helped New
Yorkers survive the Spanish flu of 1918. A doctor working at Elmhurst
hospital today told “The New York Times” that the situation there now is an
In the past 24 hours, 13 coronavirus patients at Elmhurst hospital died.
“The Times” reports that some who`ve died inside the emergency room while
waiting for a bed. A refrigerated truck has been stationed outside to hold
the bodies of the dead.
The patients who get inside Elmhurst hospital can get treatment are the
lucky ones. Every day at 6:00 a.m., a line starts to form outside Elmhurst
hospital of people who want to be tested and many wait all day and never
get into the hospital, never get tested.
“The Times” reports Julio Jimenez spent six hours in the emergency room on
Sunday night after running a fever while at work in a New Jersey warehouse.
He returned on Monday morning to stand in the testing line in the pouring
rain. On Tuesday, still coughing, eyes puffy, he stood in the line for
nearly seven hours and again went home untested.
I don`t know if I have the virus, Mr. Jimenez said. It`s so hard. It`s not
just me. It`s for many people. It`s crazy.
It`s crazy and Donald Trump ignores it. Donald Trump has no idea what`s
happening in his old neighborhood tonight. Donald Trump has no idea that
when we get through this to the point where we can return to some version
of socially distant activities with other people, and Donald Trump is back
on the golf course.
Donald Trump has no idea in his old neighborhood, that`s when people will
start to gather for the long delayed funerals and memorial services the
people of Queens will be having then to honor their dead and you can be
absolutely sure that just as life-long New Yorker Donald Trump did not
attend a single 9/11 funeral for any of the hundreds of people that were
killed in New York including police officers and firefighters, did not
attend one funeral for any of the people lost on 9/11, you can be sure that
Donald Trump won`t attend any of the coronavirus funerals in his old
neighborhood of Queens that is suffering so badly tonight while being
ignored by the president of the United States who is from Queens.
Leading off our discussion tonight, Dr. Lipi Roy, an internal medicine
physician and clinical assistant professor at NYU School of Medicine`s
department of population health. She`s an MSNBC medical contributor.
And Joseph Fair is with us. She`s a virologist and epidemiologist. She`s an
NBC News and MSNBC science contributor.
Dr. Roy, the situation that “The New York Times” is describing tonight at
Elmhurst Hospital is something that is being replicated to varying degrees
at other hospitals around the city of New York where you`re working. What
can you tells about the hospital situation in New York City tonight?
DR. LIPI ROY, MSNBC MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Good evening, Lawrence. It`s
really nice to be with you.
Thirteen deaths in one day. You know, that really reminds me of a story
where I don`t think many people in the public know. When I was an intern,
that was the first time internal medicine resident at Duke Medical Center,
that was the first time I pronounced my first death of a patient. It was at
the V.A. hospital and you never forget that.
Pronouncing somebody dead is really a moving and kind of harrowing
experience. You have to call the family. You need to call all these –
other coroner`s office and it`s – it really takes a toll. It takes a toll,
obviously, on family members but also on the health care work force, which
we`ve heard many, many stories about how it`s facing unprecedented burdens.
So, yes, we need to act because this is going to be – it`s going to have
really dire consequences not only to the American public, but also to –
the doctors and nurses and the respiratory therapists and occupational
therapist and the entire team of people that are required to take care of
O`DONNELL: And, Dr. Roy, what is your vision for where we will be on
Easter, the day Donald Trump was hoping for all those packed churches all
over the country?
ROY: Yes, look, I get it. You know, if – let`s just give him the benefit
of the doubt and say that he was aspirational and saying, you know, I said
something – I like Easter and I want people to fill up churches. If that
were the case, I mean, look, I get that.
I`m a – I`m from Toronto. I`m a hockey fan. I was disappointed when the
NHL ended its season. I`m in New York. I love Broadway. I`m disappointed
these things are over.
But I come to the realization that my personal enjoyment has to take a
backseat to public health and safety. Let`s just look at the data,
Lawrence. It`s pretty obvious that the trajectory of cases and deaths, by
the way, all preventable, are just on this exponential trajectory.
The United States has really the largest number of cases and in New York
City alone, there was a five-fold increase in deaths in this one week. I
mean, this is astronomical and it`s going to be in the order of thousands.
This – as a lot of my medical colleagues have told me and called and text
me every single – every hour, actually, throughout the country, they`re
really comparing this to a World War III but the difference is front line
combat soldiers are doctors and nurses and other health care professionals
and they`re fighting a war with no ammunition, no personal protective
equipment, no ventilators for the patients that are going to be critically
So, we really need to take action and I`m actually very optimistic but the
fact a lot of my medical colleagues and health care organizations are
really just immobilizing their efforts and so, I`m hopeful but we need a
lot more action at the highest levels of our government.
O`DONNELL: Joseph Fair, what do you see by the time we get to Easter in
this country and I just want to keep in mind, once again, that what Donald
Trump is saying about it is just a suggestion. He has absolutely no power
over anything involving when people will go back to work but what do you
see happening by the time we get to Easter?
JOSEPH FAIR, PH.D, VIROLOGIST: You know, with the rate of infectivity of
this virus and, you know, yesterday was the deadliest day, 200 deaths in
one day, it works like compound interest. So, every day, that`s going to
will grow by magnitudes at some point.
By Easter, we expect to be in a far worse situation than we are now and
epidemiologists, everything is pointing to that. If you watch the
presidential briefing today, we talked about, you know, I believe Dr. Birx
said there was no more backlog in testing. However you just relayed a case
where a person has gone for three days straight and not able to get a test.
So, if you`re not testing everyone that has the symptoms, there is no
possible way to know we`re plateauing yet. So, we can assume that
trajectory is going straight upright now and it`s expanding, you know,
compound interest like I said earlier, expanding exponentially every day
and going to be logarithmically soon.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Dr. Anthony Fauci said today at the White
House about what we can expect.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS
DISEASE: What we`re starting to see now in the southern hemisphere, in
southern Africa and southern hemisphere countries, is that we`re having
cases that are appearing as they go into their winter season, and if in
fact, they have a substantial outbreak, it will be inevitable that we need
to be prepared that we`ll get a cycle around the second time. I know we`ll
be successful in putting this down now, but we really need to be prepared
for another cycle.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joseph, a second cycle, what – what do you think the timing
would be on that?
FAIR: Absolutely. You know, we have cold and flu seasons during our winter
months, and the southern hemisphere has the exact opposite. Their winter
months are our summer months. The reason we have the dip in the summer
months is because of the actual sunlight and sunlight hours. So, U.V. light
from the sun inactivates the virus and bacteria as well. So, we see a lot
That being said, you still get the cold and flu in the summer. You just get
far less cases of it.
So, just like we saw with 1918 flu, just like we see with seasonal flu, we
can expect a second round of this to come back around in the fall and
unless we completely cut off the southern hemisphere from traveling to the
United States, we`re going to have imported cases during their winter
months as well.
O`DONNELL: Dr. Lipi Roy, Joseph Fair, thank you both for starting us of
tonight. I really appreciate it.
FAIR: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
And when we come back, New York`s Governor Andrew Cuomo predicted that a
version of what`s happening in New York tonight is coming for every other
state. In Michigan, there are now more than 2,000 confirmed cases of
coronavirus in the state`s largest hospital system is almost at capacity.
Michigan Gretchen Whitmer joins us next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOVERNOR ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: Actual hospitalizations have moved at
a higher rate than the projected models, than all the projected models. So
that was obviously concerning because that higher infection rate means
faster, higher capacity on the hospitals and that`s the critical point for
us is the number of people going to hospitals. Right now, what we`re
looking at is about 140,000 cases coming into the hospitals. The hospital
capacity is 53,000 beds. That`s a problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was the governor of New York briefing today.
Yesterday, Governor Andrew Cuomo warned the country, quote, we are your
future. And today, “The Detroit News” reports Henry Ford Health System is
at capacity for treating COVID-19 patients at its Detroit and West
Bloomfield hospitals and shifting patients to other hospitals in the five-
hospital system with space, system officials said Wednesday.
Last night, the Beaumont Health Center in Michigan said that it is caring
for 635 patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 putting pressure on
the eight-hospital system as it nears capacity for staffing, protective
equipment and ventilators.
Joining us now is Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan.
Governor, thank you very much for joining us tonight. What did you – what
was your feeling yesterday when you heard and saw Andrew Cuomo saying we
are your future? He was talking to you.
GOVERNOR GRETCHEN WHITMER (D), MICHIGAN: Yes, well, Governor Cuomo is
right. You know, what`s going on in New York is going to be playing out all
across this country and we are underprepared.
You know, we`ve taken some aggressive measures in Michigan, you know, with
this novel virus for which there`s no cure, for which there`s no vaccine.
The best tool that we have in this moment because there aren`t enough masks
and enough tests, the best toll we have is mitigating it by just not being
together. This virus can`t spread from person to person if we`re not
spending time together.
And so, we`ve been really aggressive. We`ve been watching closely what is
happening in New York. We`ve been working hard to try to get as much as we
can out of the federal government and supplement it by trying to make deals
with vendors all across globe because we`ve got a critical need and what
we`re seeing in New York is going to play out all across this country.
Michigan has now the fifth has the most cases in the country.
Wayne County where Detroit is, you just described the hospitals, three of
the hospital systems that are at capacity now. We are at the beginning of
the curve. We`re nowhere even near the apex.
And so, it is a dire situation right now and that`s why we`re calling on
our residents to do their part by staying at home. We are trying to pursue
PPE everywhere we can and ventilators just like – just like Governor Cuomo
was saying in that clip.
O`DONNELL: You know, Governor, I was last in Michigan a few weeks ago. I
don`t know, feels like three weeks, maybe more, to interview Joe Biden, and
I was leaving New York to go to Grand Rapids to do that and I felt like I
was going from one place to a safer place.
And now, the situation in Michigan is catching up with what was already –
we already knew what was happening in New York.
I`d like to listen to Rob Davidson, who`s a Michigan physician who joined
us last night on this program from Michigan. Let`s listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ROB DAVIDSON, ER PHYSICIAN: You know, the reality is we don`t have the
equipment we need. We don`t have the personal protective equipment. We
don`t have the tests. I am routinely now over this weekend seeing patients
that are almost certainly positive or could be positive and I can`t tell
I can test a certain number of people. I can test people sick enough to get
admitted to the hospital or with immuno-compromised status or front line
health care workers with symptoms but evening else I have to tell them, you
know, I`m sorry, we`re not sure, we don`t know and we`ll have to send you
home to self-isolate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Governor, are you going to be able to use this federal
legislation when Congress passes it to, in any way, address what the doctor
was talking about?
WHITMER: Well, there`s no question that additional resources will be
incredibly important but we need test kits. We need swabs. I asked for
200,000 swabs from the national stockpile and I know that that is a
critical need all across the country and they`re having a hard time
If we can`t do the tests, we can`t isolate the right people. We have a hard
time anticipating in modeling what it is we`re in for and what we`re going
to project. Now, the University of Michigan has some of the finest brains
on the planet. We`ve asked – we`ve been working with them on modeling and
I`m – the modeling that we were originally working with was very
We are outpacing the – concerning modeling that I just described. And so,
this is happening so quickly and as Dr. Davidson described, we don`t have
the masks that our health care professionals need or the gloves or the
gowns, much less the ventilators when we have people that are going to need
them. And so, that`s why we are pulling out all the stops.
We are manufacturing what we can here. We are trying to contract with
companies from around the world, and we are desperately asking the federal
government to ramp up the testing availability and the PPEs from the
national stockpile so that we can meet the needs.
Our recent shipment from the national stockpile was enough to meet for one
of our hospitals one shift. Not even a whole day`s worth of PPE that`s
necessary but one shift and that`s how under, you know, able we are to meet
the need and protect our front line workers who are the true super heroes
every single day.
O`DONNELL: Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, thank you very much for
joining us. We really appreciate your time, especially in the middle of a
crisis like this. Greatly appreciate it. Thank you, Governor.
WHTMER: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: And when we come back, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democrats
have completely rewritten the massive aid package that the Senate was
considering and they`ve turned that now into not a better bill, it`s just a
completely different bill, which is much better than what was the Trump-
Richard Blumenthal was one of the senators who made that a much better
bill. He joins us next.
O`DONNELL: The Senate economic aid package is all Senate Democrats have now
agreed to, is dramatically different from the Republican bill that Mitch
McConnell brought to a vote in the Senate earlier this week and was
The Democrats added much more in unemployment insurance payments to the
bill. They added billions of dollars for health care providers and an
additional $16 billion for building a stockpile of medical equipment that
has become scarce.
The Democrats also wrote a provision into the bill that tries to prevent
Donald Trump and his children and any members of the Trump cabinet and any
members of Congress from getting financial assistance for businesses that
The bill provides one-time checks of $1,200 to Americans with income up to
$75,000 for individuals, $150,000 for married couples. Those payments are
reduced for people with higher incomes and then eventually eliminated when
incomes exceed $99,000 for individuals and for couples that it - the
incomes that exceed $198,000, basically double, that`s when the threshold
is exhausted under this law for that check that`s going out.
Joining us now from Capitol Hill is Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal
of Connecticut. Senator Blumenthal, thank you very much for joining us
tonight. What do you consider the major Democratic victories in this bill?
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): There are a lot of victories inspired by
those front line workers who are risking everything to provide care under
the most excruciatingly difficult situations, lacking proper supplies of
medical equipment, protective gear, tests, masks. And so what I consider
maybe most important in this bill is the Marshall plan for medical surge
that will focus on those needs that are becoming so urgent but also putting
Senator Schumer, as leader, and kept us unified, focused very much on
constraints on the corporate bailouts and making sure that all the aid to
corporations, whether small businesses or large, focused on employing as
many people as possible, providing for aid if they are furloughed as well
as laid off and making sure that those workers are put first, which is very
different from the focus in the bill offered by Senator McConnell.
O`DONNELL: I want to listen to what Speaker Pelosi said today about this
bill and how it`s not the end of the story. Let`s listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): We can`t fix it in this bill. We wanted more
money. There`s $150 billion in state stabilization funds. We wanted more.
That`s what we - is in the bill. But this is not going to be the last bill.
The next phase will be recovery. But none of these has ended. We`ll still
be doing emergency and mitigation, but then going into recovery, and we
need much more money for our states. And that money goes down to cities and
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Senator Blumenthal, this is an economical life-support bill.
This is just trying to keep people afloat to get through the pandemic. And
so Speaker Pelosi clearly believes you`re going to have to do more down the
BLUMENTHAL: And Speaker Pelosi is absolutely right. And we recognize that
this bill is imperfect but imperative. It`s not a panacea. More powerful
remedies are necessary. For example, even more spending or investment in
the distribution of vaccines and treatment that hopefully will become
available as research is productive, aid for states, and meeting their
pension obligations, structural reform to health insurance on issues like
COBRA, and of course, consumer protection and even more worker protections.
And we are going to insist on more transparency and checks on executive
compensation and other kinds of potential abuses.
So there is going to be a fourth and probably fifth measure because a lot
of our preferences were on that, but we recognized very, very powerfully, I
think the urgency - the fierce urgency of this moment.
And what I heard in my tell teleconferences, I`ve conducted with homeless
advocates and the domestic violence protection shelters and college
presidents is there is real hurt. People are hurting. And they are
hungering for relief. That kind of sense that we need to act now, I think,
was a strong motivator in achieving even this imperfect but still massive
down-payment for the people of our nation.
O`DONNELL: Senator, how confident are you that this bill will prevent
Donald Trump and his sons and his family members and their companies from
profiting from this legislation?
BLUMENTHAL: I`m confident of nothing when it comes to Donald Trump trying
to profit from his position. I sued Donald Trump. It`s called Blumenthal
versus Trump on the Emoluments Clause, and we`re continuing that
litigation. And we`ve watched himself enrich during his Presidency in a way
that is unprecedented in recent history, maybe in the history of our
country. But there are strong safeguards in this bill. And he would have to
blatantly and clearly violate the law in a way that I think would cause
outrage, I hope, on both sides of the aisle.
I would emphasize these constraints on his doing so are bipartisan, as is
the entire bill. And the two packages before it also were bipartisan. So I
think the prohibitions and the checks and oversights, the Inspector
General, as well as the oversight panel that will be appointed by Congress
will offer a lot of protection against abuses by Donald Trump or by the
executives who may be enriched.
O`DONNELL: Senator Richard Blumenthal, thank you very much for joining us
on this important night in the Senate. We really appreciate it.
BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: And when we come back, we`ll be joined by one of the “New York
Times” reporters who delivered that tragic report that I quoted at the
beginning of this program about what is happening at Elmhurst Hospital in
New York City tonight, where the coronavirus death rate is now up to 13 a
day and a doctor, who`s been watching her patients die, has described the
situation as apocalyptic. That`s next.
O`DONNELL: Family members of patients are not permitted inside Elmhurst
Hospital in the Queens neighborhood of New York City because the hospital
is now overwhelmed with coronavirus patients and is shifting to dedicating
its 545 beds entirely to coronavirus patients.
“The New York Times” is reporting tonight that Dr. Ashley Bray describes
the situation at Elmhurst Hospital as apocalyptic. “The Times” reports that
“On Tuesday, Dr. Ashley Bray performed chest compressions at Elmhurst
Hospital Center on a woman in her 80s, a man in his 60s, and a 38-year-old
who reminded the doctor of her fiance. All had tested positive for the
coronavirus and had gone into cardiac arrest. All eventually died.”
When Dr. Bray tried to get in touch with the family of the 38-year-old who
died, she discovered that the man`s mother was a coronavirus patient at
another hospital. “We weren`t able to get in touch with anybody,” Dr. Bray
said. Such are the ways of life and death in New York City tonight.
More than 2,800 coronavirus patients have been hospitalized in the City of
New York. The hospitals are expecting that number to go way up from there.
Donald Trump keeps talking about a hospital ship that he is sending to New
York with 1,000 beds, but it is not going to arrive until after Easter when
Donald Trump wants everyone to go back to work.
“The New York Times” is reporting tonight, “All of the more than 1,800
intensive care units in the city are expected to be full by Friday
according the a Federal Emergency Management Agency briefing obtained by
The New York Times. Patients could stay for weeks, limiting space for newly
Joining us now is one of the “New York Times” reporters on this story.
Michael Rothfeld is a “New York Times” Investigative Reporter.
Michael, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.
One of the points you make in this article is that the people who are
showing up at the hospital now are much sicker than the people who were
showing up earlier because people are being told to wait and stay at home
and self-quarantine and see if their symptoms develop. And so now they`re
waiting longer before they show up at the hospital. What does that mean to
the way they can be treated?
MICHAEL ROTHFELD, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, it just
means that - well, the truth is that if they are going to get very sick and
they`re going to have problems breathing and need oxygen, there is actually
not much that the doctors can do for them except try to hold off the flu
until their body`s immune system kicks in.
But what it essentially means is that people are coming in, they are
already sick, and some of them are getting much sicker much more quickly
like within hours or a day of going into the hospital. And so they start
needing more and more ventilators, more oxygen. And it becomes very dire
situation with a lot of very sick people, more than the hospital can
O`DONNELL: Michael, I read a lot more of your reporting at the beginning of
this hour, including your report about the line that forms at 6:00 a.m. of
people trying to get into the hospital just to be tested. And we read the
quotes from the man who was in that line for a few days and didn`t get in
there, still doesn`t know.
When you were reporting on this, there`s four of you who worked on this
article, some of you had to go to that line and talk to those people who
might be infected. How protected were you as reporters when you were doing
ROTHFELD: Well, my colleague, Somini Sengupta, went out there a couple
days, today and yesterday, and spoke to these people who were in the line
for the tent. And she I think was careful to keep a distance from those
people. And I don`t believe she had a mask on, but I mean, very obviously
concerned about her safety.
And it should be noted that the tent is not part of the hospital and it`s
actually where people who - they may not be the sickest people, but they do
want to be tested and the hospital offers them the option of getting tested
as opposed to if you`re going into the emergency room right now, they`re
just reserving that for the sickest people and they`re not going to - well,
they`re not going to turn you away, but they`re not going to test you in
the emergency room.
So this testing tent kind of because they`ve had such tremendous volume at
Elmhurst Hospital, the tent relieves the pressure on the inside of the
hospital where they have so many people going in who are really sick. So
it`s kind of like a safety valve for them.
O`DONNELL: Michael Rothfeld, thank you for joining us tonight and thank you
for your invaluable reporting on this. It really is a story unlike any
other we`ve read about a New York hospital in this–
O`DONNELL: –pandemic so far. Thank you, Michael, very much. Really
ROTHFELD: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: And when we come back, it shouldn`t be this hard to do the right
thing. That is what Sara Nelson said. She is the President of the flight
attendants` union, and she worked very hard to change the Trump-McConnell
Senate bill into a bill that Democrats could support. The airline
provisions of that bill were changed dramatically by the Democrats, thanks
to the expert advice of Sara Nelson who will get tonight`s LAST WORD, next.
O`DONNELL: No senator knows more about the airline business than Sara
Nelson. No one in the Trump White House or the Trump cabinet knows more
about the airline business than Sara Nelson. So this country is lucky
tonight that when Mitch McConnell introduced his Republican economic aid
package in the Senate last weekend, Sara Nelson immediately went to work on
the provisions for the airline industry, which was in effect a giant
bailout of the airline companies that could greatly enrich the top
executives who run those companies.
Sara Nelson is the President of the Association of Flight Attendants, and
she is now one of the most effective labor leaders Washington has ever
worked with. The provisions that Democrats have now written into that bill
are designed to benefit the employees of the airlines, which in turn
benefits the customers of those airlines, because every time we set foot on
an aircraft, we are putting our lives in the hands of the people working on
And even though you have been warned not to make any non-essential flights
now, every day, every night, airline employees are working in those
airplanes that you have been warned to stay out of. We rely on their
experience to keep us safe in the air, and we rely on their bravery, now
more than ever.
Joining us now is Sara Nelson, the President of the Association of Flight
Attendants, which is a union representing nearly 50,000 flight attendants
at 20 airlines.
Sara, thank you very much for joining us tonight. You got your hands on
this bill as soon as it came out, as soon as it leaked from the Republican
lobbyists over the weekend. And you went to work on those airline
provisions, advising the Democrats on it. Tell us what you were able to
achieve in your advice with the Democrats on this.
SARA NELSON, PRESIDENT, ASSOCIATION OF FLIGHT ATTENDANTS: So, actually, I
want to give a shout-out to Chairman DeFazio from the Transportation and
Infrastructure Committee from the House because we started working on this
on March 13th to put in place a bill that is worker-centric.
We`re the ones who create the value in this country. We are the consumers.
We are the taxpayers. We drive this whole economy, both in aviation and
every other industry. And so we - our voice should be the central voice in
And so what we got to work on right away was to say we are not going to be
a side letter, we are not going to be a set of labor provisions that we try
to jam into a bill that maybe somebody might think of as an afterthought.
We are going to be the central trunk of this relief package.
And it is not going to be a bailout, because what we have seen in the past
is that when you give the money to the corporations and to the banks and to
the executives and how they are going to lay that out about how it`s
important for the business, the workers come last. So this time, we were
going to be first.
And so we put our provisions forward that started with a provision to keep
the paychecks going, to have the money come from the federal government
straight through to our paychecks. Never before have corporations in this
country been told how they have to spend money coming from the federal
government. But this time, they have to. It has to go to our pay and
benefits and to keep people on the job.
O`DONNELL: And Sara, just as a look at what`s happened to air travel in
this country, the TSA is reporting that yesterday, Tuesday, 279,000 people
flew within the United States. And if that sounds like a lot, it`s an 87
percent drop from this time last year. On that same day last year, 2.2
million flew on that - a normal day like that.
So this business has just evaporated. I mean, on the - you`re basically
losing 90 percent of the business right now. What is that going to mean
going forward to the ability of some of these airlines to even stay alive?
NELSON: Well, the airline industry simply would have collapsed if we didn`t
get this relief. And so we were fighting for ourselves. We`re fighting also
for the backbone of our economy, which is this industry. And I want to be
really clear. This is flight attendants and pilots and mechanics and gate
agents, but it`s also the people who clean the planes and the people who
cook the food and the people who help those in need through the airport.
All of these people, over 2 million people, are included in this package,
including contractors. And we were looking at total collapse. We were
looking at an immediate loss of a million jobs here. And now, with this
relief package, we can make sure that people stay in those jobs connected
to their health care as much as possible, although that`s one thing that
the Republicans demanded they jettison last night, was health care for the
most vulnerable among that group.
But we kept the vast majority of people in their jobs connected to that
health care, and every one of those people will be continuing to get a
paycheck. And so that is a tremendous amount of security for us, but what
it also does is it keeps our industry intact so that we can safely shelter
now and continue to provide essential air service and then help our economy
lift off when we get this virus under control.
So it`s to our medical professionals now, and we want to give them all the
support that we can. But on the other side of this, we want to help
everyone lift up our economy again, and we can do that as front line
workers who create the value in this country, who also are the taxpayers in
this country and are the consumers in this country. And those are the
people who are being helped by this bill. And we hope it is a framework
that can be used for every other industry.
O`DONNELL: Sara, as you know, when this kind of legislation is moving with
so much pressure on it and so much time pressure on it, sometimes when
someone like you is fighting for the details you were fighting for, even
your allies will say to you, sorry, we don`t have enough time. How did you
manage to get as much of this done within this tiny timeframe?
NELSON: Well, Lawrence, I didn`t go to sleep last night. And there`s
probably some people in Schumer`s office who I owe a drink because you have
to be relentless. You have to be relentless. And you have to let people
know what is your top priority and what you are going to fight like hell
for. And what you`re going to fight like hell for them is they get it for
you. And I`m going to tell you something right now.
The Democrats fought for us. And I`m going to let everybody know it. If
they hadn`t done it, we wouldn`t be here today. So kudos to Schumer, kudos
to Pelosi and kudos to all the Democrats who voted together to let this
O`DONNELL: Sara Nelson gets tonight`s LAST WORD. Thank you, Sara.
NELSON: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: “THE 11TH HOUR” with Brian Williams starts now.
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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