$2T economic aid bill TRANSCRIPT: 3/25/20, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell

Guests:
Gretchen Whitmer, Richard Blumenthal, Michael Rothfeld, Sara Nelson
Transcript:

 

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 – 

 

O`DONNELL: Yes.

 

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 

forget. 

 

(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 

Trump. 

 

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 

this. 

 

(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 

possible. 

 

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 

Sunday. 

 

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 

apocalyptic. 

 

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 

one patient. 

 

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 

ill. 

 

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 

less illness. 

 

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. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(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 

them. 

 

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 

fulfilling it. 

 

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 

concerning. 

 

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-

McConnell bill. 

 

Richard Blumenthal was one of the senators who made that a much better 

bill. He joins us next. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

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 

defeated. 

 

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 

they control. 

 

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 

workers first. 

 

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 

municipalities. 

 

(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 

line. 

 

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.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

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 

sickened people.” 

 

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 

handle. 

 

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 

that? 

 

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–

 

ROTHFELD: Thanks. 

 

O`DONNELL: –pandemic so far. Thank you, Michael, very much. Really 

appreciate it. 

 

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. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

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 

that airplane. 

 

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 

Washington. 

 

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 

happen. 

 

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. 

 

END  

 

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 

content.>