Coronavirus TRANSCRIPT: 4/9/20, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell

Jennifer Swiderek, Bennett Deboisblanc, Chris Van Hollen, Ron Klain, Oliver Brooks, Natasha Cacciatore


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.




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.




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.




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.





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.




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

campaign rally.




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 –




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.




O`DONNELL: The president did not retell this lie that he told over a month





TRUMP: Anybody that wants a test can get a test. That`s the bottom line.




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.





people to such an extent that lives have been lost in the process.




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.





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.




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?



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?



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

has suffered?


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.





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.




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.





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.




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

Senate floor.


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

through today?


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

swooping down?


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?





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

handled this.



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

2020 election.


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.





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.




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.




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,





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?



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 -

some unease.


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.


BROOKS: –Lawrence?


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.








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?



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

something home?


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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