COVID-19 surge TRANSCRIPT: 4/2/20, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell
LAWERENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
And I was – I could have listened to your discussion with Governor Cuomo
well into this hour if you kept it going. Really struck, really struck by
so many things in it, we`ll be showing pieces of it in this hour, but his
last line –
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: OK.
O`DONNELL: – his last line mournfully, he said it didn`t have to be – the
situation we`re now did not have to be.
MADDOW: Yes. And, you know, I feel like part of the reason that Governor
Cuomo has become a national leader and not just the leader of New York on
this – in this crisis and on this object, it`s because he`s not only
speaking plainly about the challenges that are in New York and you can
trust what he says and he doesn`t stay anything made up or aspirational.
But he`s also sort of talking about things as a human being, in a way that
is very relatable, talking about anguish and anxiety and fear and a lot of
the other things I think other leaders are sort of afraid to talk about for
fear of looking weak.
It makes him look stronger. It think it also makes him even more
trustworthy when he`s conveying the terrible news that he`s been conveying
but yes, he`s fully there, fully engaged with this crisis in a way that I
think connects with people in a powerful way. It`s – I think he`s modeling
an important kind of leadership.
O`DONNELL: Yes, it`s really a moment where he has – he basically every day
delivers the best parts of himself as a person, as an experienced governor,
as someone who worked in the federal government and puts all that to work
every day. It`s really – it`s really what we should hope to see from
people in his position more frequently.
MADDOW: Yes, that`s right. And it`s not that New York has had a perfect
response to coronavirus, far from it. But when it comes to communicates
with the public what about is going on and what the challenges are, right,
it helps to be real, it helps to know what you`re talking about, to cite
reliable information and to be real about the facts and emotions that they
bring up. It`s just – it`s a – I mean, these are – these times will test
us all but he`s modeling leadership in a way that I think is important.
Anyway, thanks, Lawrence. I appreciate it.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel. Thank you very much.
MADDOW: All right.
O`DONNELL: Well, Senator Kamala Harris will join us tonight on a day when
the president of the United States once again ducked responsibility for
leadership in this country`s coronavirus war. We`ll get Senator Harris`
view where we are in that war tonight and if we have the time, we`ll ask
about the decision by the Democratic Party to move the Democratic
convention from July to August. Senator Harris is, of course, on the short
list of all of us who have publicly guessed about who that convention might
nominate as the vice presidential running mate.
We`ll also be hearing from some of the front line troops in this war. We`ll
hear from an E.R. doctor in Chicago and another E.R. doctor in Michigan
later in the hour.
We begin tonight with the numbers. As of tonight, there are 243,234
reported cases of coronavirus in the United States. We have every right to
believe that at least double that number of people are actually infected
with the virus at this time but have not yet been tested.
And as of tonight, there are 5,877 reported deaths from coronavirus in the
United States. The total number of reported cases of coronavirus worldwide
is now over a million, 1,013,839 and the number of deaths reported
worldwide is now at 52,947. The United States now has the largest number of
reported cases in the world and within a week or two, the United States
might surpass Italy to have the largest number of reported deaths from
coronavirus in the world.
And Donald Trump has conferred upon himself the title of war-time
president. And certainly poetic license could allow for a president
fighting this pandemic to be labeled a war-time president if and only, if
the president was leading the country`s war against the coronavirus but
Donald Trump said today in very plain English that he is not doing that.
Donald Trump said that he is just a backup. He repeatedly said we`re a
Meaning we, the federal government are just a backup for the states who
have to fight this war and the hospitals in those states where the front
line troops are fighting this war and risking their lives. Donald Trump is
just a backup. Just a backup.
And the troops are troops like Rayburn Fairweather (ph) who was – he is as
respiratory therapist at a hospital in Brooklyn. He went to hell and back
with the coronavirus. He became infected with the virus in mid-March,
tested positive. He quarantined at home in Brooklyn, locking himself away
from his wife and his 11-year-old son.
He fought the virus alone at home. He recovered and now he is back at work
risking his life once again for his patients. In his country`s war on the
coronavirus, Rayburn Fairweather didn`t hesitate to go back to work. He
said I love my job and was very bored at home.
Donald Trump is not Rayburn Fairweather`s leader on this war in
coronavirus. Donald Trump says we`re a backup. He said that in a tweet
today. He then said it again repeatedly at the White House briefing today.
He said it in a letter to Senator Chuck Schumer. We`re a backup.
Remember when President Franklin Roosevelt said we`re a backup in World War
II? That`s not what war-time presidents say. The day after Pearl Harbor was
attacked, President Roosevelt addressed Congress as they voted on a
declaration of war and said, we will not only defend ourselves to the utter
most but will make very certain this form of treachery shall never endanger
us again. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory
and our interest are in grave danger with confidence in our armed forces,
with the un-bounding determination of our people, we will again – we will
gain the inevitable triumph.
Today, with more Americans dead from the coronavirus than died at Pearl
Harbor, Donald Trump said we`re a backup.
At the darkest hour of World War II for the British before the United
States entered the war, it seemed that a successful Nazi invasion of
Britain was inevitable. At that time, British Prime Minister Winston
Churchill was being advised to negotiate some form of surrender to Hitler.
Instead, Winston Churchill got on the radio and tell the British people we
shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the
beaches. We shall fight on the landing grounds.
We shall fight in the fields and in the streets. We shall fight in the
hills. We shall never surrender.
And today, Donald Trump who calls himself a war-time president said we`re a
backup. Donald Trump brought the imagery of war into the White House
briefing room in the person of a Navy admiral who seemed to bring good news
about the delivery of 200,000 masks to New York City hospitals.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REAR ADM. JOHN POLOWCZYK, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF VICE DIRECTOR OF LOGISTICS:
The 200,000 is going out as we speak.
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Very specific about that.
POLOWCZYK: It will be – it will be delivered tomorrow.
REPORTER: Question –
PENCE: Let me be clear on that. What Jared announced, what the admiral said
is palates are being loaded right now to send 200,000 N95 masks to New York
City to the public health hospitals.
POLOWCZYK: To the public health warehouse in New York City.
PENCE: All the health care workers, help is on the way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Help may be on the way to the hospitals or the warehouse, no, we
have no idea where help is actually going to go because in questioning by
White House reporters, it turns out those masks are not being delivered by
the federal government to any hospitals at all. No hospitals. Those masks
are being distributed to commercial distributors, profit-makers who will
sell them to the highest bidder including bidders in foreign countries.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
POLOWCZYK: This product that we`re moving is primarily commercial product
that would enter the commercial system and be distributed through financial
business transactions between hospitals and these distributors.
REPORTER: But just to clarify, that explains why states say they are
bidding like eBay because the supplies are going to the private sector and
they have to go there.
POLOWCZYK: That`s normally how things work, right? So I`m not here to
disrupt a supply chain.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Disrupting the supply chain is exactly what you are supposed to
do in war, disrupting the supply chain is exactly what the governors and
hospitals are asking for. They are asking the federal government to take
complete control of this process. Not leave it to the war profiteers who
have states bidding against each other to only have then the federal
government come in and suddenly out-bid them all on the same masks that
they delivered to that warehouse.
And when the federal government buys those masks back as it might, we`re
finding that states that vote for Donald Trump and have Republican governor
whose Donald Trump aligns himself with get whatever they want when they ask
a federal government for it, even the states that haven`t been taking the
reasonable precautions but New York and California have been taking and
other state haves been taking. Those friendly governors, those Trump
friendly governors like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis have been rewarded by
the Trump supply chain, rewarded for their recklessness – the homicidal
recklessness of allowing these spring breakers to crowd Florida beaches
when the whole world, the whole sane world was telling the governor of
Florida that he was criminally negligent in allowing these people to infect
each other on those beaches as they did.
Everyone was telling the Florida governor that except Donald Trump who
wants to be called a war-time president.
If Franklin Roosevelt told Winston Churchill we`re just a backup and never
became a war-time president, leading the United States in war in Europe
against Hitler, then German troops would very likely have marched into
London the way they marched into Paris. American troops never would have
liberated a Nazi death camp if Roosevelt told Churchill we`re just a
backup. We`re going to leave Europe to Europe – leave Europe`s fight to
If Donald Trump is a war-time president, then the phrase has no meaning,
because Donald Trump is so profoundly ignorant of history, he has no idea
how to even sound like a war-time president. He has no idea how to fake the
role that he claims he wants for himself. And with no one in command of the
American response to the coronavirus, the front line troops have to look to
hospital administrators or their governors or their mayors or a friend they
know who has a friend who can get them an N95 mask.
Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez (ph) knows what the front line is like. Judy
Sheridan-Gonzalez is an emergency room nurse in New York City and she knows
what is happening statewide in New York, the state hit hardest, because
she`s the president of the New York State Nurses` Association.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUDY SHERIDAN-GONZALEZ, NEW YORK STATE NURSES ASSOCIATION PRESIDENT: We are
the warriors in the front lines fighting this pandemic. When you are at
war, you know who your enemy is. You know who they look like.
We don`t know what this looks like. It a microscopic enemy and we do not
have the arms and we do not have the armor to protect ourselves or the
public from this enemy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Leading off our discussion tonight, Nicholas Kristof, Pulitzer
Prize winning columnist for “The New York Times”, he has been interviewing
the people on the front lines, doctors, nurses about the coronavirus. Also
with us, Dr. Amit Phull, he is an E.R. physician emergency room physician
at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago.
Dr. Phull, what is your sense of where we are on the front lines tonight,
especially in terms of supplies, necessary supplies for the safety of the
physicians, the nurses and others on the front lines and others working in
DR. AMIT PHULL, EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN NORTHWEWSTERN MEDICINE: Hey, it`s
a very difficult situation, Lawrence, I`ll have to admit. My own personal
experience in the emergency department last week, I did not myself run into
limitations having access to the equipment I needed personally but
certainly, friends and colleagues of mine, a large study conducted by a
company I work for that sampled the entirety frankly of the physician user
base and responses from across the country, is reflecting the practical
reality being somewhat disconnected from some of the things we`re hearing
and some of the things frankly, that you covered in your opening there.
I think what is missing, frankly, is that plain talk. I appreciated the
conversation you had with Rachel. We need to have a plain conversation
about that reality in order to ensure that folks, particularly those first-
line responders are aware that other people are aware of their
circumstances at that front line.
O`DONNELL: And, Doctor, what about the medical equipment? In addition to
the safety equipment, what about the necessary medical equipment that needs
to be distributed to the states that need it the most?
PHULL: Yes, it`s a difficult situation. Again, I mean, it`s complicated
when the United States answers that question holistically. I`ll say from my
own experience in Chicago, we had the benefit of some time. We had a little
bit of lead time but our colleagues and our brothers and sisters in New
York and New Jersey did not really have.
I have a very close family friend that works at Elmhurst Hospital and the
reports I hear from him are very dire in terms of shortages and I know
everyone seen the pictures on the news as to how dire that circumstance is.
But what I can say is in Chicago we`re trying our best to stay at least one
day ahead of the surge. Everyone is reflecting the modeling that`s up to
date nationwide and individual states certainly make decisions based on
that data, as well.
So we`re doing the best that we can but this pandemic certainly overwhelmed
the health care system in a wide variety of places across the United States
and we are not well-equipped frankly to respond with the appropriate amount
of protective equipment or machinery, frankly.
O`DONNELL: Let listen to what Governor Andrew Cuomo told Rachel in the last
hour about basically, the Trump position that the federal government Donald
Trump is just a backup to the states. Governor Cuomo says that is not the
way to do it.
Let listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): Where we are now, 50 states all trying to buy the
same equipment from China and then the federal government comes in with
FEMA trying to purchase the same equipment. This is not the way to do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Nick Kristof, it sounded good at the briefing at first today
when they said 200,000 masks, N95 masks on the way to New York. They`ll
have them tomorrow. And then with questioning, you discover, well, they are
going to a warehouse up there and then the bidding will start.
NICHOLAS KRISTOF, THE NEW YORK TIMES: And indeed, it may be foreign bidders
that may end up with the masks, not even American bidders. I mean, look, I
admire people like Dr. Phull so much. I mean, the heroes at the moment at
this time in the U.S. are those front line health workers, doctors, nurses,
but also frankly technicians and cleaning staff.
And we do them an incredible disservice when we send them out without
proper protective equipment, and I`m just pained to hear the stories they
tell about putting themselves at risk because they can`t get basic
equipment. And, you know, I mean, a protocol in this country are much less
rigorous than those for Chinese doctors and Chinese nurses right now.
And maybe to top it off, when American doctors and nurses complain, they
are now being fired or disciplined for raising those issues, for speaking
up. I just find that, you know, unconscionable. And, you know, when you are
dismissing workers at a time when you most need them, it`s not only
unconscionable, it`s also idiotic frankly.
O`DONNELL: Yes, Nick, I read that in your reporting, speaking to people who
run into trouble because they kind of publicly complained either on social
media or otherwise about, you know, we don`t have what we need and then the
hospitals they were working for had a serious problem with that. You report
on one of them, anyway, when it became public they let that doctor go, they
took that doctor back because they didn`t like the way it looked.
But it`s a very strange, strange situation when doctors are fighting for
themselves on social media and other ways publicly and then they get in
trouble with the administrators.
KRISTOF: And then they`re not only fighting for themselves, which they have
every right to do, but they`re also fighting for patients because, you
know, one way to protect patients is to have proper PPE for the physicians
and to use it properly. And so, I`m glad that you have doctors in
Washington who were raising these issues and now, he`s been terminated. He
doesn`t know if he can be hired again at another Seattle hospital, and New
York at Weil Cornell, you had an E.R. doctor who she didn`t even protest
publicly. She simply wanted to bring in her own PPE to try to protect
herself and she was sent home, you know, like a seventh grader violating
the dress code.
And I just – at a time when so many doctors and nurses and others are
risking their lives for the rest of us, then to deny them the equipment
that they need to keep themselves safe and in some cases to fire them for
speaking out, is just outrageous.
O`DONNELL: Dr. Phull, can you give us any insight as to what hospital
administrators are thinking in those situations? What is – what is it they
are so outraged by in these kinds of cases?
PHULL: Lawrence, that`s such a difficult question to answer. I`d like to
say a couple things. I mean, first off, Mr. Kristof, thank you for your
piece today. I read it.
Some of the things you reported on break my heart. It not consistent with
my own personal experience, but I`m certainly aware of other colleagues in
the field that have run into this kind of difficulty. And I mean, it quite
obvious that`s not how we should be handling these situations.
You made a critical point in your statement there that it`s not just about
front line health care workers, a sick provider provides a risk to a
patient. The last thing you want a patient to have in the back of their
mind is a consideration that they`re not only going to the hospital to
potentially be treated for something, but they`re at risk of catching
something from the hospital. That is just an untenable situation for us to
get out on the other end of this.
To your question, Lawrence, it`s difficult to say. I mean, as an E.R.
physician, you`re trained to handle a wide array of circumstances and more
than anything else, you`re trained to stay calm. In this particular
circumstance, I`ll say the training that`s most relevant in my background
is also knowing when not to speak out of my depth. I don`t know what
hospital administrators might be motivated by when it comes to dismissing a
physician when as Mr. Kristof pointed out, the health and welfare of the
healthcare force now critical to our actually solving this problem. So I
don`t unfortunately have an answer for you what may be motivating that kind
O`DONNELL: Dr. Phull, quickly before you go, how do you feel about your own
safety day to day?
PHULL: So, I say, so far, I`ve felt fairly safe. I`m not going to lie to
you, in my experience, again. That being said, I`m currently undergoing
self-quarantine. When I returned from my last shift, I certainly was
exposed in a fashion that I wasn`t necessarily prepared for and now I`m not
at home with my daughter and wife and my parents living with us in their
mid 60s. So I had to make the decision to separate myself from them for the
I didn`t feel necessarily personally at risk, such that I had a sense of
danger at the front of my mind at the hospital but I do know that that
circumstance is not enjoyed by everyone who is in my position. So I can`t
speak for everyone, but I do know there are some unfortunate situations,
actually occurring on the front line.
O`DONNELL: Dr. Amit Phull, thank you for your heroism. It`s much more than
thank you for your service tonight. We really appreciate it, and thank you
for joining us.
Nick Kristof, thank you for your reporting and for joining us. Really
appreciate it. Thank you.
And when we come back, what if – what if you take the coronavirus test and
the result is wrong? That`s next.
O`DONNELL: Is there a problem with the accuracy of coronavirus testing?
Dr. Deborah Birx, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, dealt
with that question today after the “Wall Street Journal” reported, quote,
health experts now believe nearly 1 in 33 patients infected are
nevertheless getting a negative test result.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Experts are saying that a high number of these tests could be
producing false negatives. So –
DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE: Of the Roche and
REPORTER: That as many one in three might be providing false negatives –
BIRX: That would almost be impossible with having 35 percent positives. If
that was true, you would have 100 percent positive or 66 percent positive.
So what I can tell you is the number of positive tests is tracking very
closely with the number of cases diagnosed. So I don`t – I will look into
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining our discussion now, Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, an infectious
disease physician and the medical director of special pathogens unit at
Boston University School of Medicine. She`s an MSNBC medical contributor.
Doctor, what`s your sense of this? I want to go back to that “Wall Street
Journal” reporting. It`s not a scientific analysis. It`s more anecdotal
that physicians were telling a reporter that their impression was, in their
experience, about a third of the negative test results were getting they
were thinking were wrong.
DR. NAHID BHADELIA, MSNBC MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks, Lawrence, for
This is interesting. It`s both the anecdotal. And one of “The New York
Times” opinion pieces that I saw actually quoted a Chinese study that
looked at testing of patients who had this disease and a certain number of
people who were tested, even though they were confirmed to have the disease
sometimes the test was negative.
So, this is complicated, right? I think for the person on the other end of
it who is waiting for their test, it doesn`t matter what the reason is why
it came out to not be positive when they themselves had the disease. But
the reasons for why a test could be potentially false negative, the idea
that it could be negative when there is disease there is multifold.
One is actually it the virus itself. How early in the disease are you
getting tested? For a lot of these tests, if you`re early enough in your
disease, it may not be as accurate because it`s not going to pick up
because the concentration of the virus is not that high.
How is – as the disease is progressing in a patient, how is the virus
acting? That`s part of the disease we`re still learning about. How does the
virus move through the body? Where does it concentrate as the person gets
Then there is a test itself and it has been talked about before, a huge
number of these tests that are on the market right now are looking for the
genetic material, the nucleic acid test out there, they`re looking for the
genetic material, and so, by the time a test gets an FDA, even an emergency
use authorization, it has a little bit of, you know, guarantee that it will
at least detect the virus to a limited detection, whatever that limited
detection that they have set, want to set out.
Here is the toughest part, which is most of the times when there is no
outbreak, we take a new test and we take it for a clinical test drive. We
call that clinical validation of a test, just seeing that if it`s accurate
in the laboratory, how does this play out in the real world and that`s
where I think it gets more complicated.
So when – how sick were you when the test was done? Was the test gathered
in the right way? Was the test performed how it should have been and all
the reagents that were needed in the laboratory were there and performed in
the right way?
And then, lastly, by the time the sample came to the laboratory, was it
appropriate enough to be tested to meet that limit of detection? All very
complicated, but in the end, all this to say, we are seeing this. You know,
clinically, we`re seeing those in our care here as well that there are
portions of people who come in who clearly have this disease and on a
subsequent test - this disease that early on may not be positive on the
O`DONNELL: As Dr. Anthony Fauci said this morning on “The Today Show” he
still has a lot to learn about how this virus operates, as you all do.
We`re at the beginning of our understanding of it. Dr. Nahid Bhadelia,
thank you very much for joining us tonight. We really appreciate it
BHADELIA: Thank you for having me.
O`DONNELL: And when we come back, Senator Kamala Harris will join us with
her view of how the Federal Government is battling the Coronavirus
pandemic? And why California seems to have a relatively low number of cases
so far anyway though it has the largest population of any state by far?
And if we have time, we`ll try to squeeze in a word about the Democratic
Convention being moved from July to August while everyone who has been
guessing about the possible Vice Presidential Nomination includes the name
Kamala Harris in that guessing game.
O`DONNELL: Today Donald Trump sent a letter to the Senate Democratic Leader
Chuck Schumer who is the Senior Senator from New York, the state suffering
by far the largest number of Coronavirus cases and the largest number of
Coronavirus deaths and in that death Donald Trump put in writing his theme
of the day.
Donald Trump said in writing “The Federal Government is merely a backup for
state governments”. Donald trump then attacked Senator Schumer for
criticizing Donald Trump`s failure to lead on the war on this pandemic.
The Trump letter told Senator Schumer that Senator Schumer should have
“Spent less time on your ridiculous impeachment hoax” and Donald Trump
closed his letter with a line that actually does seem to actually have been
written by Donald Trump.
It says, “I`ve known you for many years but I never knew how bad of a
Senator you are for the State of New York until I became President”.
Joining us now is the Democratic Senator Kamala Harris from California. She
is member of Senate Judiciary Committee and Intelligence Committee. Senator
Harris thank you very much for joining us tonight and your reaction–
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA): You`re welcome.
O`DONNELL: –to Donald Trump`s theme of the day, which is we`re just a
backup as he told Senator Schumer in that letter.
HARRIS: Everything about that letter is just yet again, another expression
of ignorance coming from the President of the United States. Let me tell
There is not a member certainly of the Democratic Caucus of the United
States of America`s Senate that wouldn`t tell you that Chuck Schumer worked
around the clock on a bill that eventually will deliver $2 trillion to the
American people, to address this public health crisis to help hospitals, to
help local and state governments and to help working people get on their
feet or at least sustain their ability to get through the end of the month.
It`s just - Lawrence, listen. There`s so much about this crisis that is
just every day present, it is every day the clock is ticking, the numbers
are ticking up and I`m frankly I`m fatigued. I`m tired of thinking about
Donald Trump. I`m going to tell you the truth because the reality is this
guy doesn`t understand his job.
He doesn`t understand that the role of the Commander in Chief, the
President of the United States in the midst of a national international
crisis should be one of being a leader who speaks truth, who embraces
truth, who embraces fact, science, who speaks with a sense about the
solemnity of the seriousness of the moment and the need to lift up the
American people and their spirits.
They need to see who they are, how they are suffering and speak to that in
a way that is about supporting them and having some level of empathy. But
what we have is a President of the United States who is continuously
focused on himself and so, I`m done with that.
Let`s talk about where we are now? Where we are now is that we just heard
that 6.6 more million Americans are going to be out of their job. What we -
where we are now is that you - thankfully, thank you gave great praise for
Our Governor Gavin Newsome, the Mayors of California, I was on a conference
call with them just yesterday. The 13 Mayors who represent cities of more
than 300,000 people, they are doing extraordinary work and why?
Because it has fallen on local and state leaders to carry on their new
broad shoulders the brunt of the responsibility for helping the American
people where there has been a vacuum of leadership in Washington D.C. from
this White House.
O`DONNELL: Senator, what is your sense, California by far has the biggest
population of any state in the United States. We saw the virus seem to
first explode in the Seattle area. That certainly gave me the impression it
was just going to move down the pacific coast.
San Francisco and Los Angeles because you have just as much cross pacific
traffic, air traffic and otherwise in Los Angeles and San Francisco as
O`DONNELL: And yet, California`s numbers as reported so far are relatively
HARRIS: Well, what I think happened is that, you know, my colleague and a
great Senator Patty Murray was sounding the alarms, Governor Inslee was
sounding the alarms about what was happening in Washington as the first
state to really be impacted by this and California leaders took notice.
So the London breath the Mayor of San Francisco was the first Mayor in the
United States to say let shut it down. People stay at home. Gavin Newsom,
the first Governor in the United States to do the same.
Eric Garcetti who was on Rachael`s show earlier has been a leader in saying
what large cities need to do in terms of social distancing, in terms of
what we can do to get aid to our hospitals immediately?
What we can do to address the homeless issue where that is an issue of
concern. I`m very proud of what our Californian leader haves done. We were
on a call today with the California Congressional Delegation. Of course,
Nancy Pelosi is the Speaker of the House but she is also one of the leaders
of the California Delegation.
And the focus has been on what this is, which is a public health crisis. It
is without a question also an economic crisis but the cause of that
economic crisis is the public health crisis. So what I`ve seen California
leaders do is address it then.
And focus on what we need to do to get resources to our hospitals to our
clinics to our public health professionals. I`m on the phone with them on a
daily basis around saying what the government and Federal Government needs
to do to reimburse.
Again object failure of leadership. One of the tools in the tool belt of
the President of the United States whoever he or she may be is the Defense
Production Act. Because we anticipated there will be these moments of
crisis where the President of the United States must have the authority to
require the private sector to produce what is necessary to meet the demands
of the crisis.
This President sat on his hands so then just recently, is using this as a
tool to order the production of ventilators. Well, that should have been
done weeks ago because what does production mean? It means just that they
need to produce they need to manufacture it.
There is going to be a delay in time before it hits the streets where it is
needed. And so but I`ve seen incredible leadership from California and I
must say, I`m very proud.
O`DONNELL: Senator Kamala Harris, thank you very much for joining our
discussion tonight. And we really appreciate it.
HARRIS: Thank you, take care, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Thank you. And when we come back with a new record number of
unemployment insurance claims filed last week, the Trump Administration
announced the details of a plan that they hope will help businesses keep
workers on the payroll and possibly even hire back workers that they`ve
already laid off.
This could be very, very important to you if it works. Stephanie Ruhle will
join us next with the details.
O`DONNELL: Today not surprisingly we learned that the number of
unemployment claims filed last week was double the week before. 6.6 million
new unemployment claims last week following 3.3 million unemployment claims
that were filed the week before.
These are record numbers that the unemployment insurance system has never
seen before. Nicole Ontiveros is a hostess at a Las Vegas restaurant and is
now one of the millions of Americans newly unemployed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NICHOLE ONTIVEROS, LAID-OFF HOSTESS: At my house we have me, my mom, my
brothers my dad and my Uncle. Me and my mom and my Uncle are the ones who
normally bring in the money to the household. Me and my mom work here at -
and then my uncle works at Oliver Garden which also shut down the same day.
So as of right now, there is nobody working at home. We`re all shut down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: At today`s White House briefing the Treasury Secretary suggested
that there is hope for unemployed workers in small businesses like
restaurants if those businesses apply for special loans now available to
keep people like Nicole Ontiveros on the payroll.
Joining us now Stephanie Ruhle Senior Financial Correspondent for NBC News
and the host of “MSNBC Live with Stephanie Ruhle” at 9:00 am weekdays.
Stephanie, translate what this announcement was today by the Treasury
STEPHANIE RUHLE, SENIOR FINANCIAL CORRESPONDENT, NBC NEWS: So this $350
billion loan program was part of the Cares Act and listen, it`s gotten huge
bipartisan support, banks are behind it.
Individuals are behind it because there is this idea, Lawrence, if we see
scores of people which we are go on unemployment but during this we are -
period of time, loads and loads of businesses, remember we have 30 million
of them in this country go out of business, then when we`re on the other
side of this, they will have nowhere to go back to work.
So they put together this loan program, as I said $350 billion and Mark
Cuban calls this free money. For those who qualify for it and it`s a huge
number of small businesses, you can borrow this money and contingent on the
fact that if you keep 100 percent of your employees 100 percent payroll the
government will forgive this loan.
Okay, this is tremendous. There are so many small businesses that have been
praying for this, they`re elated. When you look at that unemployment number
today, it would be significantly higher because there are so many
businesses hanging on because they want to get this loan.
Well, Steve Mnuchin was at the podium today saying anyone should go out
there and call an FDI insured bank apply for this it starts tomorrow. It is
if you can just call any bank you can only call a bank where you`re
currently a customer.
And today JP Morgan Chase one of the largest banks on the planet said not
so fast. They were expecting to get hundreds of thousands of applications
tomorrow as were other banks but they didn`t even have enough information.
People forget, Lawrence that banks are the most regulated businesses there
are. You`ve got Steve Mnuchin on the podium talking like Oprah Winfrey, you
get a car, you get a car forgetting that it just doesn`t work that way and
this is a classic example of this administration being under staffed.
Under Steve Mnuchin, you got a number of top jobs that are sitting empty in
the Treasury Department that is no deferment from the SBA and any other
department in this administration. So here you`ve got banks who know they
are going to be getting calls from hundreds of thousands if not millions of
people in the next day and most of them aren`t even prepared to process
O`DONNELL: And Stephanie, we`re expecting you to keep following it and
discover as we go through the next couple weeks, maybe, just what the
degree of difficulty is in actually applying for these loans?
How complex that paperwork is and is it only the kind of richer so-called
small businesses with the lawyers who can actually get that done?
Stephanie, thank you very much for joining us tonight I really appreciate
RUHLE: Lawrence, that`s actually the big risk.
O`DONNELL: Okay. Stay with it, Stephanie. Thank you. And when we come back,
an E.R. doctor`s video diary Dr. Rob Davidson will get tonight`s last word.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ROB DAVIDSON, EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN: Hey, it`s Dr. Rob here. I
worked in the E.R. last night, and it`s still amazing to me. The last day
of March, and I still can`t get tests on the people who need tests.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That`s Dr. Rob Davidson. He is an emergency room physician in
Michigan, and he has been posting a diary of sorts on Twitter. Here is some
of what Dr. Davidson had to say last night after Donald Trump and Mike
Pence refused to answer a question yesterday about why Donald Trump is not
allowing people to enroll in Obamacare?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVIDSON: The fact that in the midst of a public health emergency and
facing down the greatest recession in our country perhaps since - since who
knows when, we have the Trump Administration today saying they will not
open the federal exchanges for enrollment for insurance under the
Affordable Care Act.
We`re going to have millions of Americans losing their jobs, needing
insurance, needing the ability to afford health care, and we had to listen
to Vice President Pence yet again stammer his way through a non-answer
about how people are supposed to afford health care in this setting?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining our discussion now, Dr. Rob Davidson. He`s an emergency
medicine physician in Michigan. He`s also the Executive Director of the
Committee to Protect Medicare. Doctor thank you for joining us once again
I want to get your reaction to the Trump theme of the day, which is, we`re
just a backup. This should be left to the states. The President is just
following and helping out where possible when Governors need it.
DAVIDSON: Yes. Thanks, Lawrence. You know, in my State of Michigan that may
work out okay because our Governor has been doing such a great job. But
this is a national crisis. This is a national emergency that he declared,
and health care is a national problem.
Too many people - I think 7 million people have lost health care under
Donald Trump. That`s what my Committee of Doctors has been fighting for.
Now with the Coronavirus pandemic and the recession that is likely to be
setting in, that is just a double - a double whammy for people, losing
health care because they lose their employer-based insurance, and then
potentially facing astronomical costs if they or one of their family
members ends up in the ICU.
I think it`s just criminal that they will not provide a response by the
Federal Government to help these people.
O`DONNELL: Of course Donald Trump doesn`t content himself to just be a
backup. He also attacks Governors he doesn`t like, like your Democratic
Governor of Michigan, who you say is doing a good job. Let`s listen to what
Governor Cuomo said tonight when he was telling Rachael about how this
should be done?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: State emergency management does hurricanes, floods of moderate
dimension. If they`re really big, the Federal Government comes in. That`s
what FEMA is all about. States don`t do public health emergencies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And, Dr. Davidson, the President just refuses to take that
approach to this, and he does it on a daily basis and is justifying himself
in doing it. What is that like for you out on the front lines when you know
the backup does not go all the way to the President of the United States?
DAVIDSON: It`s extremely frustrating. I think a heard a doctor from Chicago
earlier on your show talking about going into battle and feeling like
you`re just not quite as protected as you should be. I know a lot of
doctors speaking out about this.
You know, we go and put ourselves out there. Our nurses do. The people
cleaning rooms and our techs, and yet we have a President who`s not willing
to let the buck stop with him. As Governor Cuomo said, this is a national
The virus doesn`t know state borders like; you know hurricanes affect a
certain state or a certain region. This is everywhere in this country. The
lack of a national shutdown is just unbelievable to me because, again, we
need a national approach, national leadership, and Donald Trump has failed
to provide that at every step of the way.
O`DONNELL: Dr. Davidson, I am in awe of every aspect of your work and how
you do it. But one thing I`m wondering about is in all of this, how do you
find the time to listen to these things that Donald Trump and Mike Pence
say at the White House Briefing as you did yesterday because your comment
on what they said about the Affordable Care Act was the most cogent comment
on it that I`ve heard?
DAVIDSON: Yes. I tell you, I have a lot of people on different text strings
shooting me texts and I sleep a few hours before my shift and when I wake
up, I see my phone has blown up with the latest Doocy from Trump and Pence.
I know President Trump said that Vice President Pence barely sleeps may be
works 20 hours a day. Well, if you sleep four or five hours a day you spend
the rest of your time trying to work and then trying to be an advocate for
those people around the country and our patients the people who need us out
there advocating for them.
O`DONNELL: Doctor, I can`t thank you enough for the work that you do. I
want to extend the country` thanks to you. We are all in deep admiration
for just your ability to go to work in these circumstances. Dr. Rob
Davidson, thank you for joining us once again tonight. We really appreciate
DAVIDSON: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Dr. Davidson gets tonight`s “Last Word”. “The 11th Hour” with
Brian Williams starts now.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening once again. Day 1,169 of the
Trump Administration 215 days to go now until the Presidential Election.
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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