Coronavirus TRANSCRIPT: 4/9/20, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel and I`m here and ready
this time as opposed to last night.
Remember last night, we talked about the 7:00 p.m. celebrations of health
care workers in New York City. One of our viewers who is on the other side
of the country has an idea about how we can do that wherever we are. Don`t
have to be in New York City to do it.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, “ALL IN”: Oh.
O`DONNELL: Yes, so we`re going to get to that later because it is one of
the really most uplifting experiences in this is to see that or hear that
celebration of the health care workers in New York City at 7:00 p.m.
As you`ve said, it`s a deeply moving thing.
MADDOW: Brilliant. I`m looking forward to hearing it. Thanks, my friend.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.
Well, Senator Chris Van Hollen will join us tonight. He has a peculiar job
in the United States Senate these days that most – now that most senators
returned to their home states. Senator Van Hollen represents Maryland,
which means he`s always close enough to Washington, D.C., to be on call to
rush onto the Senate floor to block Mitch McConnell from suddenly trying to
literally pull a fast one. And that happened today and Senator Van Hollen
will join us with his after action report of how he blocked Mitch McConnell
in the Senate today.
John Heilemann and Ron Klain will join us later in the hour to consider how
Donald Trump is using White House briefing rooms, the White House briefing
room for his daily reelection campaign event and how deflecting blame for
his own failures has become a staple of his daily performance.
And we will be joined throughout the hour by the voices of the nurses and
doctors on the front lines of the battle against the coronavirus. Some will
appear in video clips. Some will join us in our discussion, which they will
be part of from the beginning to end of this hour.
We begin tonight with the numbers. The United States now has 462,385
reported cases of coronavirus. There could be millions more people who have
the virus or have had the virus and have not been tested.
As of tonight, the United States has suffered 16,595 reported deaths from
coronavirus but people now dying in their homes in New York City are not
being tested even after they die. And so we don`t know how many actual
deaths from coronavirus the United States has suffered or will suffer.
Almost half of the reported deaths have occurred in New York state, 7,067
as of tonight, including 799 in New York state in just the last 24 hours.
New York`s Governor Andrew Cuomo said today that there could still be hope
in some of the developments that he`s seeing in the statistics over the
last few days showing fewer new hospitalizations and fewer new admissions
to intensive care.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: The hospitalization rate does suggest that
it`s coming down and we are flattening the curve. So far, our efforts are
working, they`re working better than anyone projected they would work,
that`s because people are compiling with them. We are saving lives by what
people are doing today.
Our expression has been New York tough because every day is tough, on many,
many levels. I get it. But every day that we are New York tough, we are
actually saving lives.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: On “The Today Show” this morning, Dr. Anthony Fauci, a member of
the White House task force on the coronavirus, said this about the total
number of projected deaths from coronavirus in the United States.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY & INFECTIOUS
DISEASES: I believe we are going to see a downturn in that and it looks
more like the 60,000 than the 100,000 to 200,000. But having said that, we
better be careful that we don`t say, OK, we`re doing so well, we can pull
back. We still have to put our foot on the accelerator when it comes to the
mitigation and physical separation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Donald Trump has decided it`s time to take his foot off the
accelerator when it comes to testing. The Trump administration will stop
funding for coronavirus testing sites tomorrow. Some of those sites might
continue but they will have to be financed by state or local government.
The president was asked about that today at his White House reelection
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Mr. President, how could administration discuss the possibility
of reopening the country when administration does not have an adequate
nationwide testing system for this virus? Don`t you need a nationwide
testing system –
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No.
REPORTER: – for the virus before you –
TRUMP: We have a great testing system. We have the best – right now, the
best testing system in the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The president did not retell this lie that he told over a month
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Anybody that wants a test can get a test. That`s the bottom line.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Not true. It has never been true. I`d like to have a test but I
can`t get one because I have no symptoms. I was on five commercial airline
flights in the month of March alone, and we were told then that flying was
dangerous at that time but I couldn`t get a test after all of those
flights. Even though the president lied to the world and said that I could,
anybody that wants a test can get a test. That`s what he said.
I have a dear friend tonight who is an executive producer of a TV show
who`s had a fever for almost a week and he can`t get a test because he
doesn`t have enough symptoms. He`s not struggling to breathe yet. He would
love to have a test but he can`t get a test in the country where Donald
Trump says we have the best testing system in the world.
Less than 1 percent of the country has been tested. Less than 1 percent,
and there are millions of people out there tonight who have one or more
serious symptoms of coronavirus including fevers, people who would love to
be tested, people who would love to know what they`re dealing with, people
who are loved by people who desperately want to know what they are going to
be fighting with here. Are they in the fight of their lives just to stay
The test would tell them that and they can`t be tested and they won`t be
tested. Unless they obviously slip closer to the grip of this deadly virus
and then maybe they can get tested.
Donald Trump says anyone can get tested, he means anyone named Trump. He
means anyone who Donald Trump wants to get tested like the people near him
on a daily basis, and he certainly means himself but he does not mean you.
And he`s going to want you to go back to work at some point to a workplace
where virtually no one has been tested. He`s going to want universities to
welcome their students back in the next academic year without any testing.
Susan Rice served as President Obama`s national security advisor and his
ambassador to the United States. Today, on Jonathan Capehart`s podcast,
Susan Rice said this about President Trump`s handling of this pandemic.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SUSAN RICE, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: He has misled the American
people to such an extent that lives have been lost in the process.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Anybody that wants a test can get a test. He said that.
Last night at this hour, we showed you one of the thousands of home made
videos that are recorded every night in New York City at 7:00 p.m. when
millions of people in New York City stop whatever they`re doing and go to
their windows or their balconies or roofs or the sidewalks and they clap.
And they cheer. And they give a rousing citywide standing ovation of deep
appreciation to the medical professionals on the front line of the
coronavirus war who are fighting to save the lives of those New Yorkers who
are applauding them.
Rachel and I discussed that at the beginning of last night`s show as we did
tonight about how moving it is. Rachel said last night that many of those
videos have brought her to tears. It is a profoundly moving moment that
many of us had thought of and described as uniquely New York thing.
It`s not. Not anymore. Dianna Meehan (ph) lives 2,500 miles away from New
York City on the California coast. Dianna Meehan is a semi-retired educator
who always teaches me something=.
And today she sent me this email saying: My friend Allen celebrates
Passover every year. Although I`m not Jewish, I`ve been privileged to sit
at my friend`s table for at least 20 years. Allen says that what`s
important is not only that the rich will go back thousands of years and
hopefully forward many generations, but all over the world in all kinds of
places, it is occurring at sun down.
We`ve heard and seen accounts of people in apartment buildings in various
cities applauding and cheering the medical techs, EMTs, first responders of
their communities at 7:00 p.m. every night. It is a way to acknowledge and
celebrate their sacrifice.
But I live in a rural area. My nearest neighbors are a half a mile away or
more. There are no apartments here. There are only farms and ranches. The
EMTs are miles away, too.
Then I remembered what Allen has said about Passover all over the world at
sun down. So I went outside on my porch at 7:00 p.m. and for one minute I
cheered and clapped. Last night, my nearest neighbor joined me. She told me
this morning that she could hear another distant clapping and a whoop.
Maybe tonight, someone else near enough to hear will join us.
So you can do it anywhere. Even if no one else can hear you and no one else
can see you, and if you do it at 7:00 p.m. in America, you will never be
alone. And when you join that standing ovation, you will be giving thanks
to heroes like Maureen Biddinger-Grisius, a nurse at Beaumont hospital in
Farmington Hills, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit.
Maureen has been keeping a video diary that she has shared with MSNBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAUREEN BIDDINGER-GRISIUS, BEAUMONT HOSPITAL NURSE: Today, it is Saturday,
April 4th. I feel like sometimes it`s hard to keep track of the days. That
happens. I`m just wrapping up my shift.
We had another death today that the whole ICU took pretty hard. So that was
tough. But I think – I think what`s really important to talk about is my
team, you know, one of the nurses I worked with today walked around and
just told jokes all day because we`ve just been crying so much. She just
wanted everybody to keep laughing and keep moving.
So that`s what we`re doing. And that`s what I got for today. We`re just –
we`re just going to keep moving.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: They`re just going to keep moving. The heroes in this battle are
just going to keep doing what they`re doing in the best way for us to help
them is to stay at home. And now you know how to thank them wherever you
are every night at 7:00 p.m.
Leading off our discussion tonight is Dr. Jennifer Swiderek. She`s the
medical director of the ICU at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. And Dr.
Bennett Deboisblanc, the medical director of the ICU at Ochsner Medical
Center in New Orleans.
Both of you heroes of the front line.
Dr. Swiderek, let`s start with you, what is the situation where you are in
Detroit? What do you need? What are your biggest challenges?
DR. JENNIFER SWIDEREK, HENRY FORD HOSPITAL: Detroit at Henry Ford hospital
at least, we`ve been in this for about a month now.
It was actually less than four weeks ago we opened up our first COVID
specific ICU, and filled that unit with 16 patients over a single weekend.
Since that time, we`ve continued to open up ICU beds across the hospital.
We now have 150 COVID specific ICU beds.
So, whether it be the medical ICU that would typically take care of these
patients or surgical ICU or the cardiovascular ICU at Henry Ford, we have
all come together to take care of these critically ill COVID patients.
As we talk about personal protective equipment, I know that`s a big talk
across the country. We have been fortunate at Henry Ford Hospital that
we`ve been able to have that PPE for our health care workers since this all
started. We just continue to need the support. We need to continue to have
people staying at home to get through this.
O`DONNELL: Dr. Swiderek, I know that many hospitals have rehearsed the
possibility of dealing with a mass casualty event, a mass shooting event,
many hospitals around the country have had to anticipate that.
Have you ever anticipated something like this and done any drills in
anticipation of something like this?
SWIDEREK: So we haven`t rehearsed a pandemic that comes from a virus in
waves. Like you have mentioned, we`ve rehearsed, especially the emergency
department has rehearsed mass casualties and those kind of things. But it`s
the same amount of patients that keep coming in waves at first when we were
having a rise in patients in the Detroit area.
O`DONNELL: And, Dr. Deboisblanc, what is the situation for you in New
Orleans tonight as you fight this?
DR. BENNETT DEBOISBLANC, ICU MEDICAL DIRECTOR, OCHSNER MEDICAL CENTER
KENNER: Well, over the last few days, we`ve seen things sort of plateau,
which is I think a testament to all those people at home who have done
exactly what I would ask them to do is stay in your home and distance
Like Jennifer said, the first week of this pandemic was exponential;
growth. We went from one or two patients to an ICU full of patients within
a matter of days. And this is something that you really can`t rehearse.
We, like Jennifer, expanded our ICU footprint all over the health care
system and resources were strained, but we`ve had a tremendous outpouring
of support from the community. We`ve had industry supply us with PPE. We
have community members cooking for us so we`re not alone.
O`DONNELL: Dr. Deboisblanc, this is not the first time New Orleans has
faced a life challenging crisis like – well of a grand scale. I don`t know
– didn`t want to say like this because this one is so unique but hurricane
Katrina, New Orleans has been through major crisis before.
How does this compare to any of those preceding disasters that New Orleans
DEBOISBLANC: Well, I was at ground zero for Hurricane Katrina and the major
difference is Katrina was a sprint. We had five days where we were hunkered
down without resources caring for our critically ill patients. The outside
world was intact and whole.
This time, it`s more like a marathon. We`re into this now a month and the
entire United States and all of our sure rounding communities are suffering
along with us. So it`s a very, very different experience than we had with
The numbers of patients, we – before Katrina, we evacuated as many
patients as we had, as we could, so we only had a handful of people who
were still in the hospital in our ICUs. I say a handful, maybe 50 in the
hospital I was working in at the charity hospital, whereas this time, we
have probably ten times that number of people in our ICUs around the
And it just goes on day after day after day. Just the last couple days is
the first time we feel like maybe, maybe the worst is behind us.
O`DONNELL: And, Dr. Swiderek, where do you think you are in Detroit in
terms of the possibility of the worst being behind you or ahead of you?
SWIDEREK: Yes, we`re actually seeing the same glimmer of hope. And that in
the past couple days, we seen a plateau in the number of admissions to our
hospital, the number of ICU admissions. Henry Ford health system, we were
able to discharge our 1,000th positive COVID patient today and just hitting
that milestone and seeing this plateauing is giving us that hope.
We know it can change at any time, though. But this is the first time we`ve
seen that glimmer of hope.
O`DONNELL: Dr. Jennifer Swiderek and Dr. Bennett Deboisblanc, thank you
both very much for joining us this discussion tonight but much more
importantly, thank you for the work you`re doing every day in fighting this
pandemic. We all really appreciate it.
DEBOISBLANC: Thanks to all of you.
SWIDEREK: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
When we come back, the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Nearly 17 million people have filed for unemployment in the last three
weeks. Perhaps millions more have been trying to.
Senator Chris Van Hollen will join us next to describe how he had to rush
to the Senate floor today to block Mitch McConnell`s attempt to pass
another relief bill for business without any consultation with Democrats.
O`DONNELL: As Senate tradition has it, the senators from Maryland are
expected to be the cops of the Senate floor. In situations when the Senate
is still technically in session during what appears to be a recess period
when most senators are back in their home states, senators for Maryland
become very important and it became Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen`s job
today to rush to the Senate floor to block Mitch McConnell`s attempt to add
$250 billion to the fund the Trump administration can use to support
businesses, especially small businesses, which the legislation defines as
businesses with as many as 500 employees, so not necessary so small.
Here is how an owner of a small business described his experience trying to
get financial help.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DIRK BORGSMILLER, SMALL BUSINESS OWNER, WAITING ON LOAN FROM SBA: They`re
saying it could be a couple days, it could be two weeks, it could be a
month. There is absolutely no definitive answer on this.
In the meantime, you know, we`re all dealing, all small businesses around
this country, millions of people are dealing with being closed and
uncertain future. So, it just – the frustration just kind of keeps
And I don`t know when it`s – I`m hoping we`ll receive the money. I`m
hoping it will come through soon. That`s my hope and prayer to get people
employed and we can try to get back to normal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The bill that Mitch McConnell was trying to slip through the
Senate today was stopped by Senator Van Hollen who refused to give
unanimous consent, along with Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland. If no
Democrats were present when Mitch McConnell called for unanimous consent,
the bill would have passed and would do nothing for the unemployed, which
now number over 17 million, now that 6.6 million more Americans field for
unemployment benefits in the past week. We have no idea how many millions
more tried to file for unemployment benefits and failed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLY THOMPSON, SINGLE MOM STRUGGLING TO FILE FOR UNEMPLOYMENT: I`ve tried
at 1:00 a.m., 3:00 a.m., 5:00 a.m. I`ve set, you know, set my alarm to try
to do different times. I did it at 8:00 a.m. before they open and there`s
just no getting through.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us is Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland.
Senator, thank you very much for joining us tonight after your rush to the
What did you – what are Democrats prepared to see in the next round of
legislation that was not in this bill Mitch McConnell was trying to slip
SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D), MARYLAND: Well, Lawrence, it`s good to be with
And this was an effort by Senator McConnell to slip something by, so there
was a bit of a fire drill as you`ve said today. Look, we all recognize that
we`re going to need more money for this small business program but we all
have to recognize that we have to fix it.
Right now, there are some significant problems in the program. You just
described the fact that many really small business owners are having
trouble accessing it and this morning, we actually received a letter from
the National Restaurant Association that represents tens of thousands of
small businesses saying, yes, we`re going to need some more money but
equally important, we need to fix some of these provisions including, I
should say, some provisions that Secretary Mnuchin, the Trump
administration added that were not in the bill.
They added some conditions that take away some flexibility from small
businesses and many restaurant owners and others were saying, we just can`t
deal with it in this current form.
So, our arguments to Mitch McConnell was, hey, let`s – yes, we`re going to
need the money, but let`s also fix the program and, by the way, there are
these also huge needs like helping those health care workers on the front
lines that you were just talking to, helping emergency responders and
So, let`s come together as we have in the past and work on a bipartisan way
instead of Mitch McConnell trying to sneak something through the floor in a
pro forma session.
O`DONNELL: Did – was it your sense that Mitch McConnell actually thought
he might get away with this, that the senators from Maryland would not come
VAN HOLLEN: Well, it was a very unusual procedure for him to do it this way
and he must have known that at the end of the day, it would fail. I guess
he thought maybe, let`s just, you know, try it. Let`s call their bluff.
Let`s see if they really come down.
Of course, we`re going to come down. We`re not going to let Mitch McConnell
essentially unilaterally push something through without fixing the overall
problem and without addressing these other issues. You know, Mitch
McConnell has tried similar things before, but this is the first time that
I know of that he`s tried to go in a pro forma session without any consent
from the Democrats.
And the good news for the country is we passed three bills on a bipartisan
basis. Disappointing but not surprising I guess that Mitch McConnell try to
pull a fast one today.
O`DONNELL: What can the federal government do about this problem people are
having trying to file for unemployment benefits?
VAN HOLLEN: So, this is a huge issue and I`m hearing, of course, from
Marylanders that both with respect to the unemployment insurance, as well
as some of these small business programs. And we need to fix both.
With respect to the unemployment insurance, there are just so many people,
of course, filing now because of the economy. So I was actually on the
phone yesterday with my state of Maryland person who deals with the
uninsurement (ph) pieces and what I was told was that they got to get a
better interface number one with the U.S. Department of Labor. But also,
they have to reprogram their computers because one of the good things we
did with unemployment compensation was to, for the first time, say if
you`re a gig worker, or self-employed worker, you`re covered.
And so, we have been trying to provide them with more resources to deal
with it. This is done on a state level. Right now, we`re just going to have
to keep doing our best to pull people together, and so, it`s a tough, tough
O`DONNELL: And, Senator, the scale of the problem just keeps getting bigger
and bigger. At – where is the line where the problem, the income
replacement problem is too big for the federal government to deal with?
VAN HOLLEN: Well, we may, Lawrence, will have to extend a lot of these
programs and one of the points that Senator Cardin and I made today on the
Senate floor to Mitch McConnell is, look, yes, we`re going to have to
provide more resources for small businesses. Let`s get it right at the same
time that we do that, but we also have these other huge demands because of
the high unemployment rate, because of the surge in needs at hospitals, and
that`s why we also proposed additional resources today for our health care
workers, for our emergency responders.
And I want to make it clear, it wasn`t just that we blocked Mitch
McConnell`s proposal, but we then put forward a proposal that did pay (ph)
– provide additional resources for small businesses but fix the problem,
and also provided (ph) additional resources to our emergency responders and
health care workers.
And Mitch McConnell blocked that today in the Senate floor. And I think
it`s important to know. Look, we don`t know how long this will last, but
clearly, we`re going to have to do another round at least. We`ll see
whether our Republican colleagues will support that effort.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, ANCHOR MSNBC: Senator Chris Van Hollen, always keeping
an eye on the Senate floor. Thank you very much for joining us tonight. We
really appreciate it.
VAN HOLLEN: Good to be with you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Senator.
When we come back, Donald Trump is now trying to deflect blame for his own
failures on the World Health Organization. He wants them to take the blame.
World Health Organization declared we were on our way to a pandemic when
Donald Trump was saying America was on its way to zero cases of
coronavirus, zero. That`s what Donald Trump predicted.
John Heilemann and Ron Klain will join us next.
O`DONNELL: Donald Trump holds a reelection campaign rally every day at the
White House, which masquerades as a briefing on the coronavirus pandemic.
Donald Trump is there to entertain his voters, and medical experts like Dr.
Anthony Fauci are there to squeeze in a serious word here and there when
they get the chance.
One of Donald Trump`s missions every day is to distract from the lies he
has told in the past, including his big lie, quote, “Anybody that wants a
test can get a test.” End quote. And that the United States was going to go
from having 15 reported coronavirus cases to having exactly zero. Donald
Trump said that.
And Donald Trump also said that the Governor of Washington is a snake.
That`s the word that Donald Trump used for the Governor of Washington. When
Washington State was the hardest hit by the coronavirus, someone seems to
have convinced Donald Trump to stop calling governors snakes because they
are trying to save people`s lives in their states, but the Trump deflection
game continues and he has - he`s now taken to accusing the World Health
Organization of being wrong about the coronavirus.
Donald Trump said, quote, “They also minimized the threat very strongly.”
Those are his words. “They also minimized the threat very strongly.” No one
minimized the threat more than Donald Trump. When Donald Trump was saying
that 15 cases were going to go to zero, the World Health Organization was
warning the world that the coronavirus, quote, “has pandemic potential.”
And after the World Health Organization officially declared a pandemic on
March 11th, Donald Trump did not admit that until it - did not admit it was
a pandemic until six days later on March 17th. And the day before the World
Health Organization officially labeled it a pandemic, Donald Trump said to
reporters after a private meeting with Republican Senators, “It will go
away. Just stay calm. It will go away.”
Joining our discussion now, Ron Klain was a senior aide to Vice President
Joe Biden and President Obama. He served as the Ebola Czar during the Obama
Presidency. He is an adviser to Joe Biden`s 2020 presidential campaign. And
John Heilemann is with us, National Affairs Analyst for NBC News and MSNBC.
He is also the co-host of Showtime`s “The Circus” and the Editor-in-Chief
of The Recount.
Ron Klain, Donald Trump versus the World Health Organization, which side do
you want to defend?
RON KLAIN, EBOLA CZAR, OBAMA PRESIDENCY & FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO VP
BIDEN: Well, look, I`ll start here. I`ve been a long-time critic of the
World Health Organization. They did a miserable job on Ebola when we were
working with them. There`ve been some reforms, some new leadership since
then. I think they`ve done a better job here. But they definitely have made
mistakes. But Donald Trump attacking the World Health Organization is like
an F student attacking a B-minus student. OK? It`s not that the World
Health Organization has not made mistakes. They have. It`s that Trump has
made worse mistakes.
And ironically, one of those horrible mistakes was saying on February 24th,
the World Health Organization was very smart and doing a very great job. So
what`s happening here, Lawrence, is not that Donald Trump has any
legitimate criticisms in his eyes of the World Health Organization, he`s
just trying to deflect blame from his failures on testing, his failures to
act promptly, his failures to get the protective gear in place.
He wants to put the blame someplace else. He`s the President who stood in
the Rose Garden and said I take no responsibility for this, and having
failed in that defense, he`s now just trying to push the blame someplace
O`DONNELL: And John Heilemann, the United Nations has said they do want to
take a look at how the World Health Organization has handled this after the
fact once the dust has cleared, once they have the time to do that. Donald
Trump doesn`t want anyone taking a look after the fact or now at how he has
JOHN HEILEMANN, NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST, NBC NEWS & MSNBC: Right. And yes,
Lawrence, I think that - as Ron - the things that Ron was saying will make
a lot of sense I think on the face of them. I think that when the history
of this is all written, what we see now, we now - it`s now April. If you
look back at the first three months, the Trump - Donald Trump`s reaction to
this can be kind of neatly characterized as being - as it`s kind of
shifting from one mode to another.
The early mode, the January, February to the middle of March mode was the
downplaying mode. And many people, including my colleagues at “The Recount”
have done vivid examples shown by calendrically the number of days that
Trump downplayed the virus throughout January, throughout February, all the
way into the middle of March.
And then, as soon as he got to that point where he declared, OK, it`s a
war, this is now a war, it`s now a pandemic, I`m shifting my strategy here.
He moved from the mode of downplaying to the mode of blame shifting. And
blame shifting has gone from - it`s not just the WHO, of course it`s the
Chinese who`ve been blamed, it`s been other foreign actors who`ve been
blamed. Many governors have been blamed.
You mentioned Jay Inslee, the Governor of Washington, but he`s blamed at
various times Andrew Cuomo, he`s blamed any governor of any state in which
there`s been a substantial number of coronavirus cases, and occasionally,
on the converse of that, thrown praise at states that have been lucky
enough so far to have relatively low infection rates.
So this is a traditional - this is Donald Trump. This is - what he is going
to do, he`s going to take credit for whatever he could take credit for.
He`s going to cast blame on whoever he can cast blame on. And the WHO is
just one in a panoply and a growing panoply of targets that he`s going to
seek to try to cast a responsibility for anything that does not - anything
that angers voters and particularly voters who he thinks he needs in the
O`DONNELL: Susan Rice, who was President Obama`s Ambassador of the United
Nations, knows how the World Health Organization works, had something to
say Jonathan Capehart today on his podcast about how she sees the way
President Trump has handled this. Let`s listen to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUSAN RICE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR FOR PRESIDENT OBAMA: He has
demonstrated utter lack of leadership, utter incompetence, and he`s been
profoundly dishonest about the nature of the threat to the American people
by downplaying it, by dismissing it, by comparing it to the flu. Whether
that`s because he didn`t care or he was trying to downplay the problem and
buoy his electoral prospects mistakenly or whether it was to buck up the
markets or because he doesn`t care, I don`t know what it was. I just know
he has cost tens of thousands of American lives.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Ron Klain, your reaction to what Ambassador Rice had to say?
KLAIN: Well, plain spoken as always. And I think Susan hits the key point.
Look, I think we won`t yet know for awhile exactly how many lives were lost
because of this period that John Heilemann described, of 70 days of
essentially ignoring, downplaying, inaction in response to this threat.
The World Health Organization declared this a public health emergency of
international concern on January the 23rd. OK? A month later, President
Trump was still saying we`re 15 cases on our way down to zero. OK?
And so, that period, that lost 70 days that John referred to is going to be
something that we`re going to be talking about for a long time. Historians
will study it and wonder how this catastrophic failure was allowed to
happen. We didn`t act promptly when we had this warning.
O`DONNELL: Ron Klain and John Heilemann, thank you both for joining our
discussion tonight. We really appreciate it.
HEILEMANN: Thanks, Lawrence.
KLAIN: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: And when we come back, we have new numbers tonight in California
about who is being hit hardest by the coronavirus.
O`DONNELL: California Governor Gavin Newsom feels confident enough about
the flattening of the curve in California that he has shipped 500 of
California`s ventilators to other states facing a more severe crisis now,
including New York State.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): We thought it was the right thing to do, but I
also want you to know it was the responsible thing to do as American
citizens from a moral and an ethical imperative to save lives, all of us,
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Today, California released preliminary demographic data on 37
percent of the state`s total confirmed coronavirus cases. Of that sample, 8
percent of the deaths were African-Americans, 6 percent of the state`s
population is African-American. 26 percent of the deaths were Latinos, and
they are 39 percent of the state`s population.
Partial data for Los Angeles County shows that 17 percent of deaths have
been African-American in Los Angeles County where African-Americans are
only 9 percent of Los Angeles County`s population. Governor Newsom
committed to releasing demographic data for 100 percent of the coronavirus
cases in California.
And joining our discussion now is Dr. Oliver Brooks. He`s the President of
the National Medical Association and Chief Medical Officer at Watts
Dr. Brooks, thank you very much for joining us tonight. What is your sense
and interpretation of what you`re seeing in the racial breakdowns of the
data of coronavirus cases?
DR. OLIVER BROOKS, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL MEDICAL ASSOCIATION & CHIEF MEDICAL
OFFICER AT WATTS HEALTHCARE: So I can speak to in general we`re seeing the
disproportionate effect on the African-American community. Now, you also
just noted the findings in California. I will say this. It is early on.
The wave - the tidal wave that hit New York is coming our way. It is
predicted that it will hit California next week. So, as this surge, if you
will, hits, we will have much more data as this plays out. So I would say
right now what you showed is early data. You did show in LA County it`s
twice as deadly for African-Americans. So we will need more data.
O`DONNELL: Governor Newsom said today that he expects the peak to, as he
put it, extend into May, not just the next couple of weeks. Does that make
sense to you the way you see it?
BROOKS: Oh, yes, because the curve has flattened somewhat in California.
Governor Newsom implemented the stay-at-home order March 19th, relatively
early. So I think what some people may miss, if you flatten the curve, you
may still have a large number of cases, but what it does is it decreases
the surge so that the hospitals and clinics can handle it.
That`s why I believe he was able to actually donate some ventilators
because he flattened the curve with the early implementation of the stay-
at-home - shelter-in-place, as they call it here. And so we should be able
to handle it, but this is unknown at this time. It will extend further than
the next couple of weeks.
O`DONNELL: Doctor, how did it feel for you to see 500 of California`s
ventilators going out across the country? California still has thousands
more, but you`re there on the frontline. You know the worst is yet to come.
How did it feel seeing some of that medical equipment leave the state?
BROOKS: Well, there`s a bit of discomfort, I will have to say. I will have
to trust that the decision was made with a lot of modeling, with a lot of
epidemiological evidence, and also, it was stated that we want them back if
we need them. So it`s not as easy to get things back once you give them
away, but I will have to put the trust there. But I will say I have some -
O`DONNELL: Dr. Oliver Brooks, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
Thank you for the work you are doing. And we want you to come back as we
track the progress of this devastation in California. Thank you very much,
BROOKS: Thank you. May I say one last thing really quickly–
O`DONNELL: Please do.
BROOKS: Speaking to the African-American community, as President of
National Medical Association and a Chief Medical Officer here in Watts in
California, we need to advocate for ourselves. I keep getting the feeling
that we look like helpless or something like that. The NMA has been
advocating for decades about this issue with the disparities. So we need to
advocate for ourselves. We can`t just wait for someone to do it for us.
So, for example, advocate by doing something in seven months. There will be
an election. Look at the positions of those that are running state, local,
federal, and make your determination. We need to advocate for ourselves as
patients. If you have hypertension and the doctor says, well, your
hypertension is out of control, demand that he gets your hypertension under
African-Americans, if you`re on one medication, you`re likely not under
control. And then support the organizations that have your best interests
at heart. That is how we can go past this and not just be a victim.
O`DONNELL: Dr. Brooks, thank you very much for overriding my questioning
and telling the audience what it needs to hear because this subject is far
more complex than any of us here at the anchor desk can deal with. I`m very
glad you gave us that guidance. We really appreciate it, doctor. Thank you.
BROOKS: Thanks very much, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: And we`ll be right back.
O`DONNELL: Natasha Cacciatore is a critical care nurse in Boston at Brigham
and Women`s Hospital in her Waltham neighborhood. Her appreciative
neighbors gave her a hero`s welcome home from work while keeping their
social distance in their cars as they drove by her front door.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us is Nurse Natasha Cacciatore. Thank you very much for
joining us tonight. I have to say, that is the biggest traffic jam I have
seen in many, many weeks anywhere in America. How did it feel to have the
neighbors let you know how they feel about your work?
NATASHA CACCIATORE, BRIGHAM AND WOMEN`S HOSPITAL CRITICAL CARE NURSE: It`s
amazing. The support for all of us in health care over these last several
weeks has been outstanding. We`ve been getting all sorts of donations from
various restaurants, from neighbors, be it masks, be it food. Everybody is
willing to help, and the support has been amazing.
O`DONNELL: And what is it like when you come home? You have your child, and
do you fear that embrace, that motherly embrace, that you could be bringing
CACCIATORE: I`m terrified. I`m terrified from day one. We cut off ties with
our family as far as physical contact from the beginning just because our
parents are obviously at prime age to get sick from this if they do get
sick. So we`ve been very careful about social distancing, and of course,
we`re very thorough with how I leave work and how I come home. I make sure
nothing from work comes home with me. I go right into the shower before I
touch anything in the house. We`re very, very careful because I can`t lose
these two people in that video or anybody else that we care about.
O`DONNELL: And Natasha, what is the fear like while you`re on duty? It`s
one thing when you`re on your way home and you get to think about it and
worry about what you`re going to do when you approach your front door. But
in those long hours of your shift, moment-to-moment, do you feel the fear
CACCIATORE: You know, the fear, it creeps up on you. The more news I watch,
the scarier it gets. Obviously, our colleagues in New York and California,
New Jersey, all over, are feeling this pretty hard. We`re fortunate enough
that we haven`t hit our surge just yet, and we`re also fortunate that we
have a tremendous team working with us. The respiratory therapists have
been phenomenal, the doctors.
Everybody has kind of pitched in and jumped - risen to the occasion to kind
of get ourselves prepared as - as prepared as we can possibly be for
something we really don`t know in very much detail. We`re kind of learning
it as we go. So the fear of the unknown is probably the hardest at this
point, but I think we have a pretty solid group of people ready to fight.
O`DONNELL: Nurse Natasha Cacciatore gets tonight`s last word.
Thank you very, very much for joining us tonight, Natasha. We really
appreciate you giving us this time and letting people understand what this
work is like. We really appreciate it.
CACCIATORE: Thank you so much for having me.
O`DONNELL: And thank you for what you do. Really appreciate it.
That is tonight`s Last Word. “The 11th Hour with Brian Williams” starts
BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Good evening once again.
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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