Gov. Cuomo TRANSCRIPT: 4/1/20, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell

Guests:
Luciana Borio, Ron Klain, Bina Venkataraman, Adam Schiff, Siddhartha Mukherjee, Gaby Araica, Tracy Mchale-Araica
Transcript:

 

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.

 

And Chairman Adam Schiff is with us tonight. He`s going to be talking about

basically everything you`ve been talking about in the last hour, and that

he`s very interested in doing basically an after-action report sometime in

the future when the situation is clear enough to go back and figure out

everything the federal government did right, everything it did wrong. I

think we have a feeling the section on what it did wrong will be longer

than what it did right, but that`s what he`s going to do when he gets his

chance.

 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, “TRMS”: I have some suggestions for topics in

the table of contents of that report, I can tell you right now.

 

O`DONNELL: I think they`re taking notes watching your show, Rachel. Thank

you, Rachel.

 

MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.

 

O`DONNELL: Like I said, Chairman Adam Schiff will be with us tonight. We`ll

get the latest situation from him on his congressional district in Los

Angeles area and Chairman Schiff has a new plan for what Congress needs to

do about the failures of the Trump administration in defending us against

the coronavirus pandemic. Chairman Adam Schiff will join us later in the

hour.

 

And at the end of the hour, we have something special tonight. We`ll be

joined by my favorite mask maker. She`s already gotten appreciative

attention of her congresswoman and her senators and she`s in fourth grade

at St. Brendan`s School in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, which is

the school that I walked to every day when I was in fourth grade.

 

And so, there will be a little bit of St. Brendan`s School pride on display

when Gaby Arica joins us at the end of this hour. You`ll want to see what

an amazing job she`s been doing, making masks with sewing machine and

distributing them to first responders in Boston. You`ll see that end of the

hour.

 

Tonight, we begin with the numbers. As of tonight, there are 211,149

reported cases in the United States with 4,735 reported deaths from the

coronavirus in the United States. And so, as of tonight, the total number

of reported cases is about the same number of deaths from coronavirus that

this country could experience over the next month or two, according to some

projections of what is to come, 200,000 or more deaths, if – if we do

everything perfectly, from last week forward.

 

And it`s already too late to do everything perfectly last week back when

the governor of Florida was still refusing to close down basically anything

in his state and insist on social distancing and ban people from Florida

beaches. The governor of Florida finally issued that order today but we

don`t know how many people were infected in the last week in Florida. We

still don`t know how many people were infected at these packed Florida

beaches when the Republican governor of Florida was doing absolutely

nothing to stop those people from infecting each other, doing nothing to

protect those people. And we now know that many of those people did infect

each other at that beach.

 

Finally, today, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced a 30-day stay-at-

home order that starts at midnight tomorrow night, that tells 21 million

residents in Florida to stay indoors, unless they`re pursuing quote

essential services or activities.

 

“Washington Post” reports that there is a growing disparity between what

Republican and Democrat states receive from the federal government. As

states across the country have pleaded for equipment from a key stockpile,

Florida has promptly received 100 percent of its first two requests with

President Trump and Republican Governor DeSantis both touting their close

relationship.

 

States including Oklahoma and Kentucky received more of some equipment than

requested, while others, such as Illinois, Massachusetts and Maine have

secured only a fraction of requests. It`s a disparity that`s caused

frustration and confusion in governors` offices with some officials

wondering whether politics is playing a role in the response.

 

And if you`re wondering, if politics is playing a role in the response,

then you have not been paying attention to Donald Trump.

 

“The Boston Globe” says corruption and incompetence has also played a role.

“The Globe” said that in an editorial that says, quote, the president has

blood on his hands. The author of that editorial will join us later in this

hour.

 

According to “The Boston Globe”, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is

pressing the Trump administration, quote, “for answers on why they seized

at least two of the Massachusetts recent orders for protective equipment,

charging that it appears they are still interfering with states efforts to

track down medical supplies amid the coronavirus pandemic. Senator Warren

also pointed to at least two instances in which Massachusetts lost orders

for ventilators and hundreds of respirators after the federal government

stepped in, a situation Marylou Sudders, the state`s health and human

services secretary, described as they take what we order.

 

Illinois` Democratic governor, J.B. Pritzker, says the federal government

sent the wrong masks to Illinois. After promising 300,000 N95 masks, the

most protective masks, Illinois got a shipment of standard surgical masks

instead. N95 masks are much more protective against the coronavirus.

 

Tonight, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer says because Trump

administration officials have failed at medical supplies, military should

be put in charge of the federal system of distributing medical equipment in

this crisis.

 

With some counties in Georgia now ranking in highest per capita rate of

infection in the country, the Republican governor of Georgia finally

announced today that starting Friday will do what it obviously should have

been doing for a month now, starting Friday in Georgia, nonessential

businesses will be closed and Georgians will be ordered to maintain social

distancing weeks after Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York imposed those

rules on the entire state of New York from Montauk Point, over 100 miles

out in the Atlantic Ocean from New York City, all the way to Niagara Falls,

Governor Cuomo shut it all down weeks ago when he had exactly the same

scientific information about the coronavirus that was available to the

governors of Florida and Georgia.

 

Today, Governor Cuomo said this.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: What we`re looking at now is the apex, top

of the curve, roughly at the end of April, which means another month of

this. People say, well, when is it over? Two weeks, three weeks, four

weeks? This model projects you`re going to have a high death rate through

July. If this model is correct, this could go through the summer.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNEL: Leading off our discussion tonight, Dr. Luciana Borio, the former

national security director for medical and bio defense preparedness before

that office was disbanded under President Trump. And Ron Klain is with us.

He`s former senior aide to Vice President Joe Biden and President Obama. He

served as the so-called Ebola czar during the Obama administration.

 

Dr. Borio, I want to get your reaction to what Governor Cuomo just said

there about this could easily go into July and he expects us to still be

seeing a very, very significant death rate in July.

 

DR. LUCIANA BORIO, FORMER DIRECTOR, MEDICAL & BIODEFENSE PREPAREDNESS,

NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: That`s right. I think that we are going to be

dealing with this pandemic and this epidemic for the foreseeable future,

for several months. It may actually get worse in the fall and winter time.

And we cannot afford right now to lift any of the measures that Americans

have been amazing to do, which is to shelter in place for this long.

 

And what I ask them to do is to do things more perfect than before because

they need to protect themselves, their families, communities and

importantly health care workers who are completely overwhelmed right now.

They`re amazing professionals, been completely overwhelmed to do their job.

They deserve a chance to care for sick patients. So, we all have to do our

part. We`re all public health right now.

 

O`DONNELL: Dr. Borio, what would have been different in the White House if

your office was still operational where you were basically in charge of

keeping an eye on pandemics possibly developing anywhere in the world, what

would you have been doing in this office in the White House in, say, early

January when the information was coming through clearly through our

intelligence services about what was happening in China?

 

BORIO: Look, I think it`s important to realize that a public health crisis

of this magnitude would have been challenging to anybody in administration.

And there will be a time to look back and the actions that were taken or

not. But right now, I would like to focus on how we are going to be able to

contain this epidemic so we can get to the other side. It`s nowhere in

sight right now and we won`t have a vaccine that is protective for mass

distribution for several more months and we have limited public health

tools right now.

 

And they are highly disruptive, society is paying a cost. We have to focus

on what to do next. In addition to the public health effort I mentioned, I

think we have to really focus and triple our efforts now to get the

diagnostic tests to where they are needed to isolate the sick and we can

actually trace into the contacts and isolate them, as well.

 

This is how we`re going to be able to control this very rapid spread that

we see in almost every state.

 

O`DONNELL: Ron Klain, are you expecting the kind of curve that Governor

Cuomo was talking about today?

 

RON KLAIN, FORMER SENIOR ADIDE TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, look, I think that

the models differ somewhat but I think that what Governor Cuomo was talking

about today is basically on point. I think it`s important to remember when

people say, hey, the peak will be April or May, the day after the peak is

the second worst day of this thing and the day after that is the third

worst day of this thing.

 

So, people have to remember, we`re not just looking where the apex is but a

long way down from that apex. I also think as Dr. Borio said, this isn`t

one hill up and down. I think if there is one thing we`re seeing in public

that`s misleading is these curves look like the parabolas you drew in high

school geometry, they kind of go up, go straight down.

 

Instead, when we look at the history of epidemics, they`re more like a

series of waves. We`re going to see up again and then down, and then up

again and down again, and up again and down again. I think this is just

something we`ll be dealing with many, many months, hopefully with less

intensity than we`re going to see in the next month but this is not going

to go away quickly.

 

O`DONNELL: Dr. Borio, what about the way Ron was describing the waves? Do

you expect – that sounds like what Governor Cuomo is saying, we`ll see

something that feels like it going down but that probably won`t be the end.

There will probably be more movement upward to some degree.

 

BORIO: That`s right. I mean, he`s exactly right. Every day after it, we`ll

still be losing lives. And we really – the goal is not to lose lives.

 

So, it doesn`t matter where the apex is, because it is helpful to know you

reached the worst at this moment but you`re still going to continue to see

a tremendous amount of lives lost and disruption because of this virus.

 

O`DONNELL: Doctor, when will we know if the heat of summer is going to be a

helpful factor?

 

BORIO: I think we`re going to have to go through the months to see if we

see a little bit of a respite in the rapid spread. I think we can use any

good news that we can – is available but still, we can`t just – even if

we see a little slow spread, we have to remember there is so much to be

done in terms of diagnostic testing, contact tracing, personal protective

equipment, ventilators, drugs and vaccines.

 

We can`t – there`s no day that we should approach this crisis with any

less urgency because of a little bit of good news that day. We have to

prepare for the worst. We know this is going to be with us for months, and

I think that everybody involved in the response, again, needs to work every

day as if, you know, they have no more time left because it with great

urgency that we need to approach this.

 

O`DONNELL: And, Ron Klain, with that timing that is so unique to the Trump

administration, they have announced that they will not reopen the health

care exchanges when they`re supposed to be open for people to join

Obamacare, for people to obtain coverage under the Affordable Care Act. It

was a question about that in the briefing today. Mike Pence droned on and

didn`t answer a word and Donald Trump congratulated Mike Pence for not

answering the question in any way and then Donald Trump said that it did

sound unfair to him and he would think about it. That`s as far as we got.

 

And I just saved the audience about six minutes of White House briefing in

what I just summarized.

 

But, Ron, this care, this availability is more crucial every minute of our

lives now.

 

KLAIN: Yes, you know, Lawrence, the one consistent thing about Donald Trump

and his presidency is trying to undo anything Barack Obama did, including

in middle of a pandemic, rolling back air pollution rules and today

announcing that they will not allow the extension of Obamacare for people

who want to sign up and get coverage.

 

Even in plaintiff right now, they are in court still trying to get the

entire program wiped out in the middle of a pandemic, trying to have people

who have coverage lose their coverage by taking this to court. And so, you

know, I think, as you said in the outset of this show, one thing about

President Trump`s handling of this unfortunately is playing politics.

 

He`s playing politics in the allocation of aid and resources to our medical

workers. He stands up there and says basically the governors have to pay

homage to him if they want to get the help their states need. He plays

politics by taking about that he hadn`t heard about a testing problem when

his own Republican governors say that this – they told him about it and

it`s a big problem and now playing politics with people`s health coverage.

 

This is, as Dr. Borio says, this is a pandemic. Obviously, it`s a national

crisis and it`s time to put politics aside and do right by the American

people. Get them health care coverage, get them the equipment they need

without regard to the political affiliation of their governors and make

sure every person in this country is as safe as they can be.

 

O`DONNELL: Ron Klain and Dr. Borio, thank you for sharing your invaluable

expertise with us tonight. We really appreciate it.

 

KLAIN: Thanks so much.

 

O`DONNELL: And when we come back, “The Boston Globe” editorial board has a

new important editorial that they have published tonight. It makes the case

that Donald Trump, quote, has blood on his hands. That`s the phrase “The

Globe” shows to describe Donald Trump`s role in confronting the coronavirus

pandemic. The editorial board member who wrote that editorial will be our

next guest.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL: “The Boston Globe” says that Donald Trump has blood on his

hands. The editorial board has published under the headline: A president

unfit for a pandemic. Much of the suffering and death coming was

preventable, the president has blood on his hands.

 

The editorial fittingly begins with a line from the Irish poet William

Butler Yeats. Things fall apart, the center cannot hold, wrote W.B. Yeats

in 1919. A century later, it`s clear, the epicenter cannot hold.

Catastrophic decisions in the White House have doomed the world`s richest

country to a season of untold suffering.

 

In that Yeats poem that “The Globe” quoted, these lines immediately follow

the line that “The Boston Globe” quoted: Anarchy is loosed upon the world,

the blood-dimmed tide is loose, and everywhere, the ceremony of innocence

is drowned.

 

Donald Trump conducts a ceremony of innocence every day at the White House

briefing in which he has denied any responsibility for the failures of his

administration`s response to a pandemic that they knew was coming since the

first week of January.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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)

 

O`DONNELL: In his daily ceremony of innocence, Donald Trump pretends that

he never said that the coronavirus was not going to be a very deadly

pandemic in the United States. He pretends, he pretends he never 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: “The Boston Globe” has been recording every word Donald Trump

has said about the coronavirus and everything Donald Trump has done and not

done about the coronavirus and “The Globe`s” editorial board reached this

conclusion.

 

The months the administration wasted with prevarication about threat and

its subsequent missteps will amount to exponentially more COVID-19 cases

than were necessary. In other words, the president has blood on his hands.

 

Joining us now, Bina Venkataraman, the author of that editorial. She served

as an advisor to President Obama during the Ebola epidemic. She`s now the

editorial page editor for “The Boston Globe.”

 

Thank you very much for joining us tonight.

 

What brought you to the point of going this far in your language to the

“blood on his hands” language that you`ve chosen?

 

BINA VENKATARAMAN, THE BOSTON GLOBE EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR: It`s not

language we chose lightly and I thank you for quoting more of Yeats than I

could fit on the page and in print, but I – we really were looking at the

facts, and the president has been trying to revise history as it happening,

as you noted through press conferences and making insinuations about

hoarding at hospitals to excuse his lack of getting supplies to states and

cities for their hospitals.

 

And it`s important as he tries to recalibrate expectations so that

suddenly, hundreds of thousands of deaths are being expected and being

declared a measure of success by this administration, so we don`t take that

for granted and look back at two months ago when the first case of COVID-19

was identified in the U.S. and the president said it just one guy coming

from China. It`s no big deal. This will amount to nothing.

 

The colossal failure to act to get testing underway, if we contrast the way

the United States, the world`s richest country, with the most sophisticated

medical facilities and research institutions, the world`s leading

scientists – contrast that with the way South Korea and Germany have

rolled out testing, isolated cases, done contract tracing to contain the

epidemic on their shore, the United States has failed to do that.

 

And in epidemics, in pandemics, timing is everything. Timing is the

difference between a contained outbreak that can be controlled within weeks

and a devastating and deadly epidemic like the one we`re seeing unfold and

we`ll continue to see unfold over this coming month and that is because

epidemics, outbreaks grow exponentially. If we had contained those early

cases, if we identified them, if the president hadn`t been so worried about

seeing the stock market dip, if he had been not trying to count or test the

cruise ship passengers aboard that ship on the Pacific coast of California

because he didn`t want our numbers to look high, we might have been able to

contain and address this crisis much sooner.

 

But you can look at subsequent missteps through February into March,

including how he`s failed to really seize the role of the federal

government in a crisis like this where the role is really to help

coordinate among states and distribute supplies. Instead, states including

Massachusetts, which by the way, as you know has a Republican governor, but

it`s a red governor in a blue state, our own governor had trouble getting

access to those supplies, mere fractions of what requested from the

national stockpile have arrived here in Massachusetts.

 

And that`s true in states and cities around the country. What they`re

needing, and the supplies to protect their hospital workers, their nurses,

their doctors, their first responders, are not being supplied by the

federal government. In fact, the federal government has out-bid states and

governors, and trying to get supplies, he stepped and taken away

ventilators from states, and that is I think just a – just a catastrophic

use of the federal government`s power when in fact they should be

coordinating and making this easier.

 

O`DONNELL: We have polls showing Trump supporting voters and Fox News

viewers took the coronavirus threat much less seriously than other people,

no doubt because of the messaging they were getting from Fox channel and

from President Trump.

 

Does that – is that part of your case that in effect, more people are sick

tonight, more people are dying tonight and more people are dead tonight

because Donald Trump was president at this time?

 

VENKATARAMAN: Absolutely, Lawrence. And information, scientifically valid

information is critical in outbreaks. It`s critical in public response and

having the president down play this for weeks and weeks, for months really,

and having Fox News be a sort of megaphone for that misinformation

certainly has cost lives.

 

You know, the Florida governor taking so long to close down beaches I`m

sure it`s going to have an impact. I think we`re already seeing the impact

of various leaders not having taken seriously the information and various

individuals not having taken seriously the information. Where – contrast

that with where governor of California, Gavin Newsom, took early measures

with social distancing to help.

 

So, I think this really amounts to an abuse of the bully pulpit, and to

using – misusing that megaphone that the president has in fact, not to

reassure the public and not present scientifically valid information but

obfuscate, to misinform.

 

O`DONNELL: Bina Venkataraman, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

We really appreciate it.

 

VENKATARAMAN: Thanks so much for having me.

 

O`DONNELL: And when we come back, will Donald Trump be held accountable for

everything that he were just discussing? House Intelligence Committee

Chairman Adam Schiff will join us to discuss his plan for a non-partisan

9/11-style after the fact commission investigating the Trump

administration`s response to the coronavirus. Chairman Adam Schiff joins us

next.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): His denial at the beginning was deadly. His

delaying of getting equipment to where it is - it continues. His delay in

getting equipment to where it is needed is deadly. What did he know and

when did he know it? That`s for an after-action review. But as the

President fiddles, people are dying.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, ANCHOR MSNBC: Today, the Chairman of the House

Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, announced that he has begun work on

the after-action review that Speaker Pelosi was calling for there. Chairman

Schiff tweeted, “After Pearl Harbor and 9/11, we looked at what went wrong

to learn from our mistakes. Once we`ve recovered, we need a non-partisan

commission to review our response and how we can better prepare for the

next pandemic. I`m working on a bill to do that.”

 

Joining our discussion now is Democratic Congressman from California,

Chairman Adam Schiff.

 

Mr. Chairman, thank you very much for joining us tonight. When do you

expect a 9/11-style commission would be able to begin going to work in this

situation?

 

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): That`s really the most difficult question that

we`ve been wrestling with. We`re using the 9/11 legislation as our model.

We adopt the same appointment mechanism to make the commission as non-

partisan and apolitical as possible.

 

The commission won`t involve any current elected officials, anybody

currently working in the government or at the time of the commission`s

formation. But the most difficult challenge is when should they begin their

work. We want to make sure their work doesn`t interfere at all in the

response. We want to make sure that it doesn`t have a political cast to it.

 

And so one of the things that we`re considering is having the commission

reformed after the election, having it certainly not make its report until

well into the new year. After all, the 9/11 commission itself wasn`t

established by legislation until more than a year after 9/11. So we may

have the start date as late as early next year.

 

We really want to make this as objective as possible because we want the

recommendations to come out of it to be accepted by the public, and if it

has any veneer of a partisan aspiration, it won`t have the same level of

public acceptance.

 

O`DONNELL: Rachel Maddow said at the beginning of the hour, when I

discussed what you were planning, that she has many suggestions for the

commission for possible chapter headings as she put it. What are the main

issues you would think a commission like this would be looking at?

 

SCHIFF: Well, we obviously I think are very ill-prepared for this pandemic.

And there are a lot of reasons that went into that. I think we know already

that the disbanding of this pandemic office at the National Security

Council and the White House was a profound mistake. And that would have

been one of the tripwires.

 

But when it became publicly known, which was as early as late December, and

then reports started coming in January of this new respiratory virus in

China, we lost precious weeks in getting the testing ramped up. There were

flaws in the original testing. We didn`t have enough protective gear. We

don`t have enough ventilators. So we were ill-prepared before this crisis

hit.

 

When it did hit, the administration moved very slowly. The President, even

into March, was downplaying the significance of this and comparing it to

the ordinary flu and talking about people being back in church by Easter.

And so there is I think a long list, but it`s important that this

commission do more than focus on the President`s actions or failure to act

but look broadly at how the country was prepared for this.

 

We`re reviewing, for example, as part of our oversight function what the

Intelligence Committee knew and what it was reporting early on. And I think

we`re going to have to examine, does the intelligence community need to

give greater attention to health threats when it`s traditionally focused

more on hard targets, on terrorism. And I think that`s just one small piece

of it. But the commission ought to look at the overall whole of government

response, its lack of preparedness, and how we can assure this doesn`t

happen in the country again.

 

O`DONNELL: Mitch McConnell said that he believes that the impeachment trial

in the Senate slowed down the federal government`s response to the

pandemic. What`s your response to that?

 

SCHIFF: Yes, the President said something similar, which was an interesting

acknowledgement that the administration screwed up this response. And I

think the facts are quite clear that the President`s weeks long, maybe

months long, delay in taking this seriously has had catastrophic

consequences that we`re only now beginning to see the scope of, but they

should stop making excuses.

 

The President found plenty of time even during the impeachment trial and

its perfunctory period to play golf, to go on vacation at Mar-a-Lago, to do

campaign rallies. He clearly wasn`t distracted from doing the things that

he loves to do.

 

But the bigger problem is, even after the trial was over, the President

continued for weeks and weeks to say this is no problem, he`s got it under

control, he`s got it contained, and that this isn`t going to have a big

impact on the country. Of course, he was ignoring the advice of the health

experts, the epidemiologists, the CDC, his own people and - with

catastrophic consequences.

 

O`DONNELL: Congressman, what is your sense of what the big difference is

between your district in the Los Angeles area and New York City? Because

Los Angeles is a major port of entry just like New York City. It`s open to

the pacific. Tremendous amount of traffic, air traffic from China into Los

Angeles airport. And it`s - it is somewhat surprising that there seems to

be a much better situation at this stage of our understanding of the

numbers in Los Angeles than in New York.

 

SCHIFF: Well, maybe a few things. It could be, for example, the topography

of Los Angeles is very different. Los Angeles is often pejoratively

characterized as being - characterized by sprawl. A big spread-out city

whereas New York is very dense with population living very close to each

other. That is, I think, more conducive to the spread of a virus.

 

It may be that we were fortunate in learning from the experience of others

and locking down our population, go into social distancing, and having the

benefit of seeing the travails that other parts of the country were going

through. But it could be quite as simple as topography and just when the

virus hit and where it hit.

 

Certainly, we`re seeing worrying signs even in Los Angeles. We hope that

we`re bending the curve, but we won`t know for sure for some time. Our

Mayor continues to be greatly concerned about the spread within Los

Angeles. I`ve lost constituents to this virus.

 

When I look within my own district, though - and this may give you again an

indication of the differences between states and cities - in my district,

when I look at the parts of my district like West Hollywood that are very

densely populated, they have a higher incidence of the virus than other

parts of my district that are more sparsely populated where the density is

much less. And so factors like that can be playing a strong contributory

role in the spread.

 

O`DONNELL: Chairman Adam Schiff, thank you very much for joining our

discussion tonight. Really appreciate it.

 

SCHIFF: Thank you.

 

O`DONNELL: And when we come back, new guidance on wearing masks. This seems

to have been shifting over time. Should everyone be wearing masks when they

are outside of their homes? That is next.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL: Last night, Dr. Anthony Fauci answered Savannah Guthrie`s

question about the CDC`s current position on wearing masks this way.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS

DISEASES: The guidance that`s out there has not changed where the CDC says

people who are health care providers should be wearing it. If you have

someone who`s infected and you want to prevent them from infecting a person

in the health care setting, they should wear them.

 

What is being actively discussed, and it is being actively discussed today

and we`ll be talking about it tomorrow, given the fact that there is a

degree of transmission from asymptomatic individuals who may not know that

they are infected, we need to at least examine the possibility as long as -

you said correctly - as long as we`re absolutely certain we don`t take the

masks away from individuals who are health care providers who need them

have some sort of facial covering. It doesn`t need to be a classical mask,

but something that would have someone prevent them from infecting others.

So this is actively being looked at.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: Joining our discussion now, Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee. He`s an

assistant professor of medicine and an oncologist at Columbia University.

He is a Pulitzer Prize winning author. His latest must-read article in “The

New Yorker” is entitled, “How Does the Coronavirus Behave Inside a

Patient?”

 

Doctor, thank you very much for joining us tonight. The question of masks

is very much related to the question that is the headline of your piece in

“The New Yorker” about how the virus behaves. So what`s our answer to the

mask question and how the virus behaves in relation to the mask?

 

DR. SIDDHARTHA MUKHERJEE, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE, COLUMBIA

UNIVERSITY & PULITZER PRIZE WINNING AUTHOR “THE EMPEROR OF ALL MALADIES”:

Look, it`s very clear from studying dozens of respiratory viruses,

including SARS, which is the closest cousin of SARS-CoV-2, which is this

particular virus, that respiratory masks are protective. The first priority

is to give masks to health care workers. And health care workers need the

kind of mask that is the most protective, the so-called N95 mask. This has

a built-in filter and ensures that you don`t get infection from the virus

when you have high viral loads being deposited on you, as you might when

you`re a health care worker. That`s very clear.

 

Now, for the general public, it is also clear that wearing a simple

surgical mask, not an N95 respirator but a simple surgical mask, which

costs maybe $0.25 to $0.50 to produce, is also protective in situations of

other respiratory viruses.

 

So it would seem to me that the evidence suggests that we reserve N95 masks

and provide health care workers with these more stringent masks, and we

also simultaneously provide essential workers who are out to work with the

simple surgical masks and provide them with instructions - specific

instructions about how to decontaminate those masks once they`re done with

the use every day.

 

And I would suggest that this doesn`t have anything to do with removing the

guidelines on social distancing or on the use of gloves or on hand

sanitization. All of these work together. But it seems to me that we

prevaricated too long on the use of masks in the public. We should stop it.

 

There should be a simple guideline issued by the CDC about the use of masks

in the public and that these masks should be bought and distributed

publicly free-of-cost so that there is no stigma or cost associated with

wearing a mask in public.

 

O`DONNELL: So, for example everyone on an airplane should be wearing a mask

if I`m hearing you correctly?

 

MUKHERJEE: That is correct. I think that if this is not adopted

universally, I think there will be exceptions and exceptions to exceptions

and so forth. But I think, right now, in the middle of the pandemic, I

think everyone should be wearing not N95 respirators, which should be

reserved for health care workers, but simple masks. Everyone should be

wearing them. Everyone should be wearing gloves.

 

And there is a mountain of evidence that suggest that in cases like this

where there`s an asymptomatic carrier or there`s a respiratory virus that

can be carried through air should be contained by a mask and gloves and

social distancing and hand hygiene. If you do all of these things, you can

bring down the infection rates radically by 80 to 90 percent.

 

O`DONNELL: Very helpful guidance, Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee. Thank you very,

very much for giving us that guidance tonight. We really appreciate it.

 

MUKHERJEE: My pleasure. Thank you so much.

 

O`DONNELL: And when we come back, my favorite mask-maker is with us. She`s

a fourth-grader at St. Brendan`s School in Boston, which is the school that

I attended when I was in fourth grade. First responders in Boston are very

grateful to the fourth-grader, who is making masks for them tonight.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL: Here is Massachusetts Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley talking

about the shortage of masks.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. AYANNA PRESSLEY (D-MA): In Massachusetts, one of the communities in my

district is Dorchester. And there`s a young girl there, Gaby, who`s 10

years old at St. Brendan`s School, who`s been personally sewing 24 masks a

day. Listen, I`m grateful for that benevolence from our children and from

our private sector. But it is not going to meet the scale and scope of this

pandemic.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: The “Dorchester Reporter” tweeted this photograph of Gaby Araica

sewing masks and identified her as a fourth-grader at St. Brendan`s School

in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston. And that is the same school that

I walked to every day for eight years from grade-one to grade-eight.

 

And when I was in Sister Catherine Patricia`s fourth-grade classroom at St.

Brendan`s, none of us did anything as important as what Gaby is doing now.

And so I am bursting with school pride, as we are joined now by 10-year-old

Gaby Araica and her mother, Tracy Mchale-Araica.

 

Gaby, what gave you the idea to decide to get your sewing machine working

on masks?

 

GABY ARAICA, 4TH GRADER, ST. BRENDAN`S SCHOOL & HAS SEWN 120 SAFETY FACE

MASKS: Well, my sewing teacher, Deanna (ph), from In Stitches, posted a

tutorial, and I thought it would keep me busy. And I knew my Aunt Samantha

(ph) was a nurse. And I thought I could help out by sewing mask and I

wanted to help as much as I can.

 

O`DONNELL: And Tracy - and I emphasize the Mchale part of your name because

I know the Mchales have delivered an awful lot of people to the Boston

Police Department. I think one of your relatives was a Boston police

officer when my father was a Boston police officer, and all the way down

the line through the generations. I`ve read that the Boston Police

Department is one of the beneficiaries of your daughter`s masks.

 

TRACY MCHALE-ARAICA, HELPED DAUGHTER SEW 120 SAFETY FACE MASKS: Yes. I am a

retired Boston police officer and my husband is a police officer as well. I

am third generation police officer. And my grandfather and my dad, both

worked with your dad. And there are currently four Mchales on the Police

Department. And yes, the community service officers at C-11 in Dorchester

saw Gaby`s story on your show, and they came and brought material for her

and requested masks for them and for the EMTs.

 

O`DONNELL: And Gaby, what has been - have you had been struggling getting

supplies for your masks? I know elastic has been not easy to get.

 

G. ARAICA: We`ve been able to get some of the elastic. And I have a lot of

material because I just love sewing. And we also bought some material, and

we had some donated by the Boston Police.

 

O`DONNELL: And Gaby, how are you keeping up with schoolwork these days at

St. Brendan`s?

 

G. ARAICA: It`s - I`m keeping up with it well. It`s a little hard online,

but I`m making sure it gets done and I`m making sure I do it before I do

anything else.

 

O`DONNELL: And about how many masks have you now made?

 

G. ARAICA: Over 820.

 

O`DONNELL: Wow! That is really amazing.

 

Tracy, were you surprised when Gaby started working on masks?

 

T. MCHALE-ARAICA: No, I really wasn`t surprised because her sewing teacher

had posted a tutorial - her sewing teacher, Deanna (ph), from In Stitches

in Quincy posted a tutorial. And Gaby, when she sets her mind to something,

she does it. She likes to practice. She`s very determined. So this was a

way - since gymnastics and dance and sewing were all canceled, this was a

way for her to do her sewing and to get something done.

 

O`DONNELL: And Gaby, when you go back to St. Brendan`s, do you think you`ll

be bringing masks if they need them for your fellow students in fourth

grade?

 

G. ARAICA: Definitely.

 

O`DONNELL: And Gaby, is the fourth-grade classroom up on the top floor like

it used to be?

 

G. ARAICA: Yes.

 

O`DONNELL: And it was a big event when I was at St. Brendan`s when you get

out of third grade, you were allowed to go upstairs finally to the higher

grades. Is that the way it still works there?

 

G. ARAICA: No. There - like grade-five is the - it`s the highest grade, but

it`s downstairs. It`s the highest grade downstairs.

 

O`DONNELL: OK. Well–

 

G. ARAICA: But sixth grade and fourth grade is up there.

 

O`DONNELL: OK. We could go on and on about this, Gaby, and I think we`re

going to have to sometime.

 

Gaby Araica, thank you very much for joining us. Thank you for the work

you`re doing. I know the Police Department is grateful for it.

 

Tracy, you should be very proud. Thank you very much for joining us

tonight.

 

G. ARAICA: Thank you.

 

T. MCHALE-ARAICA: I am. Thank you.

 

O`DONNELL: That is tonight`s LAST WORD. “THE 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS”

starts now.

 

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY

BE UPDATED.

END   

 

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