timeline for vaccine TRANSCRIPT: 4/20/20, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: I can`t wait for tomorrow night, Rachel,
after that. I mean, the question becomes how high does it go or does this
go to the Washington? And what`s the rational for changing the protocol on
medical personnel as they have done as you`ve just outlined they used to
have a much straighter protocol, now they have softened it all the way to
kind of not having a protocol.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Yes, exactly while the V.A. has been saying
publicly everything is fine, everything is fine. Nothing to see here. We
have no problems. Our staff has all the equipment we need and we`re not
I mean, the V.A. is the last resort medical system for the United States if
the civilian health care system collapses or needs help. We`re supposed to
turn to the V.A. as this gigantic government run health system. Their own
problems are evident if you listen to their employees but they have been
covering it up, they`ve been really happy talking all of us about it, which
isn`t all that rational if they really do need help and that`s why we`re
going to do the special report tomorrow.
O`DONNELL: Great, Rachel. So glad you`re on that case. We`ll be watching
tomorrow night. Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Well, Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan will join us tonight
with the latest on possible new package of relief legislation. The Senate
is working on. We`ll also get Senator Stabenow`s reaction to the very, very
small and I stress small number of protesters that have occurred in
Michigan, protests by people who are protesting the governor`s stay-at-home
Dr. Peter Hotez will join us. He told “The New York Times” this weekend
that there is too much magical thinking, that was his phrase “magical
thinking”, about a vaccine for coronavirus.
John Heilemann will take us – will give us a look at the presidential
campaign with a new poll showing Joe Biden ahead of Donald Trump and
showing that more people think Joe Biden will do a better job of handling
the coronavirus pandemic than Donald Trump.
We begin tonight with the numbers. The numbers of reported coronavirus
cases in the United States is now 775,647 and as of tonight, there are
officially 42,043 reported deaths linked to coronavirus in the United
Joe Joyce, a Trump voter, and his daughter Kristen disagreed about the
coronavirus pandemic. Kristen told “The New York Times” he watched Fox, she
said. He told “The Times”, he watched Fox and believe it was under control.
Kristen remembers her father saying, don`t you think this is fishy? Do you
know anyone who has it? Do you know anyone who has died from it? And I
said, dad, I don`t know anyone now, but give me a week and I bet I will.
And a week later, Kristen`s dad Joe Joyce was hospitalized with
coronavirus. In a Pulitzer-worthy report in “The New York Times,” Ginia
Bellafante tells the story of Joe Joyce from 1970s when he returned from
Vietnam, to his time working as a gym teacher at a Catholic school in
Brooklyn, to his 43 years owning and operating J.J. Bubbles Bar in Bay
Ridge, 43 years that earned him the adjective “beloved” in the “New York
Times” headline about him.
Joe Joyce boarded a cruise ship in Florida on March 1st, the day after the
United States recorded its first death from coronavirus. That cruise ship
with Joe Joyce and his wife aboard was sailing full speed towards Spain,
full speed ahead toward the virus in Spain. The second day that Joe Joyce
was at sea, Donald Trump held a rally in North Carolina with thousands of
people crowded to see him and cheer him on.
Joe Joyce flew back to New York from Barcelona on March 14th. He went back
to work at his bar the next day. The day after that, New York City closed
bars, forced all bars to close. So Joe and his wife went to their house in
New Hampshire for kind of forced vacation.
Ten days later, on March 27th, Joe`s daughter Kristen immediately called an
ambulance when she got off the phone with her father because he sounded so
sick on the phone. Kristen thinks her father would have cancelled the
cruise and the trip to Europe, a trip to Spain if Donald Trump had taken
the threat more seriously instead of actually calling the coronavirus a
hoax at one of his rallies.
Kristen told “The Times”: If Trump had gone on TV with a mask on and said,
hey, this is serious. I don`t think he would have gone.
When her father began to feel sick, he resisted getting tested. He didn`t
think he could have it, Kristen said, because he wasn`t 100 percent
confident that it was a thing.
On April 9th, Joe Joyce died. Cause of death, COVID-19. Possible
contributing cause of death, watching Fox and believing Donald Trump.
Joe Joyce is not the only one. Today, the intrepid Yamiche Alcindor asked
Donald Trump a simple question, is he concerned – concerned about people
who listen to him, and believe him and then get sick? It was a simple
question but the answer could not possibly have been more perverse.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
YAMICHE ALCINDOR, PBS NEWSHOUR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I interviewed
someone who said that his family got sick. They went to a funeral in mid
March. They said mainly because the president wasn`t taking it seriously.
If the president had a mask on and said we should stay home, I would have
stayed home and instead, we have family members sick because they were
listening to you, do you feel like or are you concerned that downplaying
the virus maybe got some people sick?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A lot of people love Trump,
right? A lot of people love me. See them all the time. I guess I`m here for
a reason, you know?
To the best of my knowledge, I won. And I think we`re going to win again. I
think we`re going to win in a landslide.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The Trump non-answer rambled on as his non-answers always do.
And he never spoke one word of sympathy for any one of the 42,043 Americans
that lost their lives to COVID-19 not one word. But he did say instead of
expressing any sympathy for anyone who has died since that`s what the
question was about, he did say a lot of people love me and he did say he
thinks he`s going to win in a landslide. Those are the first two things
that came to his mind and he said when asked about people dying because
they made the mistake of people listening to him and believing him, and
it`s very fair to interpret that as a demonstration of the only things that
Donald Trump actually cares about.
A lot of people love me and I`m going to win in a landslide. It`s really
one thing – a lot of people love me, therefore, I`m going to win in a
landslide. It`s one thing. That`s all he cares about.
If you`re offered a chance as president of the United States to say
something about Americans who have died from coronavirus and what you say
instead is a lot of people love me, so I`m going to win in a landslide.
That makes it very, very clear nothing in this life matters more to you and
that also makes it very clear that that is the answer of a sociopath, the
answer of a person who demonstrated live on television today to the world
that he`s incapable of feeling anything for anyone who has died of
You can just put the period of after anything. He`s incapable of feeling
anything. The 42,043 are just a number in Donald Trump`s re-election
calculations, a number he has to avoid talking about.
The other number that`s a problem for Donald Trump in his reelection
campaign tonight is the 99 percent of us who have not been tested for
coronavirus and most of us will not be tested for coronavirus by the time
we get to election day in November and Donald Trump has to find a way to
make that OK with voters who have not been tested for coronavirus while Joe
Biden is campaigning for president promising to take presidential
responsibility for providing Americans with the kind of testing they will
need to safely go back to work or safely go back to school.
A new NBC News poll shows Joe Biden running at 49 percent of registered
voters nationally with Donald Trump at 42 percent. That same NBC News poll
finds that 87 percent say that it is very likely or somewhat likely that
there would be a resurgence of COVID-19 cases if people suddenly went back
to work now. Only 12 percent said that that is not likely. Those 12 percent
along with Donald Trump don`t seem to have a clear idea about how a
Dr. Najy Masri of Louisiana State University`s hospital has been keeping a
video diary for us of life and death in hospitals in New Orleans, and
tonight, Dr. Masri compares all of the precautions that we are taking, all
of the precautions we`re taking that are working against the coronavirus.
He compares those precautions to a parachute.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. NAJY MASRI, LSU DIRECTOR OF HOSPITALIST SERVICES OCHSNER MEDICAL
CENTER: Today in the local paper here in New Orleans we have eight pages of
obituaries of deaths here in the city in the last 24 hours. That`s triple
the number of deaths that I`ve seen in any other paper before and it really
a sign of the times.
But also here in this paper, there is a page-long ad from the area and
local business leaders asking the mayor to lift the stay-at-home order and
have an immediate return to the economy on May 1st. Now the concern here
from the health care professionals is a second peak as we relax principles
that have gotten us to this point.
You know, this is – this is like a parachute. If I jump out of an airplane
and everything is going good, I don`t say hey, the parachute is working
well and get rid of the parachute. I keep the parachute on. I make sure I
have a safe landing and we need to make sure as we move forward, we have a
safe landing as we return to what was our normal before.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Leading off our discussion tonight, Michael Osterholm is the
director of the Center for Disease Research and Policy at the University of
Minnesota. He`s the author of “Deadliest Enemy: Our War Against Killer
Germs”, and John Heilemann, he`s national affairs for NBC News and MSNBC.
He`s co-host of Showtime`s “The Circus” and editor and chief of “The
Mr. Osterholm, , the – could you referee the issue that broke out between
the governor of Maryland and the president. The president`s task force
showing a map of where all the testing laboratories are in the United
States and showing a map of where the testing laboratories are in Maryland,
insisting that the governor of Maryland did not have to make a deal with
South Korea in order to obtain testing from – testing supplies from South
What is happening with testing in America tonight and what do the maps that
the White House showed us today have to do with testing?
MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, PHD, CENTER FOR DISEASE RESEARCH & POLICY DIRECTOR:
Well, first of all, I would tell you just right now believe your governors.
They know where testing is at and how much is available in their states.
They want testing more than I can tell you.
So, when they go up against the White House, it`s not about a political
issue. It`s not about a subjective issue. It`s an objective issue for them.
And I think that that`s one of the critical issues right now, the lack of
good information about testing and how much. Just three weeks ago, I had an
op-ed in the “New York Times” in which I said, within about three weeks,
testing will implode in this country because of the fact we`ve run out of
all our reagents. The chemicals we need are being used in a worldwide basis
And people that come out here say publicly, we should test, test, test.
That`s not feasible, that`s not possible because we have run out of
reagents for many of these tests.
O`DONNELL: John Heilemann, the president was up there saying that Governor
Hogan of Maryland just simply didn`t know, didn`t know what was available
to him for testing. Let`s listen to how Governor Hogan responded to that on
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. LARRY HOGAN (R), MARYLAND: I`m not sure what the president`s referring
to. I have a pretty good understanding of what`s going on and I appreciated
the information that was provided by his team, but he wasn`t there. I`m not
sure what he was trying to say.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: John, that`s kind of a charitable reaction to what the president
had to say about the governor.
JOHN HEILEMANN, MSNBC NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Right. I mean, look, the
governor I think is trying to in a subtle way point out that most of the
time Donald Trump doesn`t know what he`s talking about on the factual
grounds and that it is the case that a lot of governors have found people
within administration who they have been able to do business. It`s also the
case that this is a classic kind of example of what happens with Donald
Trump in any of these instances, we`ve seen it now, Lawrence, ever since
this crisis started where he personalizes everything.
And right now, he feels as though he`s in the cross hairs on the question
of testing. He, in fact, is really in the crosshairs on the question of
testing which is to say under relentless and justifiable criticism on the
point from public health experts, from governors, from people all over who
are out in the field seeing how this virus is playing out, he`s been under
fire for the last few months. But in this briefing tonight, he really
seemed to be focused on the notion they are coming after me on testing and
he sees Governor Hogan. He has to personalize it so he focuses on Hogan and
says the thing that`s obviously not really connected to the reality Hogan
is dealing with, why Hogan had to do what he had to do or what his
administration is doing to help Hogan do what Hogan has to do.
O`DONNELL: Michael Osterholm, the president seems to want to get away from
every question about testing in these briefings and if the questioning gets
too pointed about testing, he`s actually ended some of the briefings. What
are the questions you would like to have answered by the White House, by
this task force about testing in America and where testing in America is
going and what – how much testing we need, what kinds of testing we need.
OSTERHOLM: Well, first of all, there is three basic questions we need to
Number one, what are we going to do about test reagents? This was provided
by the private sector. The whole world wants them, we have to adjust how we
manufacture them. This can`t happen overnight but needs federal leadership
to make this happen. That will give us more tests.
The second thing we have to figure out, how well did they work? Right now,
after the CDC had its challenges with testing that we all so know about,
the FDA basically opened the flood gates and said anybody that had a
shingle that said testing on it could come and test. We now have over 90
antibody tests out there which a senior FDA official himself said many of
them are crappy.
So, we got to clean up the testing itself so that we know what really works
or not. I mean, you wouldn`t know if you`re a physician`s office or clinic
right now, of laboratory, how well these work. So, we got to get
administration to get on top of that.
And the final thing we have to really become clear on why are we testing?
You know, we have too many people getting on talk shows writing articles
and papers saying, test, test, test. Without understanding what these tests
can and can`t do.
I believe in the testing very much but it`s got to be done appropriately.
Meaning, if I go and test a large group of people right now, half of them
on antibody will be false positives. Meaning if I told the nurse you`re
antibody positive, there`s a 1 percent to 2 percent chance it`s not even
That`s the kind of work we need to do instead of – are we testing or not,
we need the federal government to lead us in all three categories.
O`DONNELL: And, John Heilemann, Joe Biden has clearly made testing a
presidential campaign issue. It looks like the number one presidential
campaign issue. Donald Trump`s position on it is to run away from it as
much as he can. This issue is going to be as far as I can tell, the number
one issue in these presidential briefings going forward.
HEILEMANN: I think that the Biden campaign has a broader critique,
Lawrence. It is going to be I think not just the central issue that the
Biden campaign wants to drive but I think is going to be really at the core
of what this election is about, which is what happened in the months of
January, February and the first half of March? Obviously, testing was a big
part of that.
But I think the broader political case that the Biden campaign wants to
make and I think for a lot of Americans who are going to be going into this
election judging Donald Trump`s performance, this now obviously is the
central issue of his performance to the extent that the election is
sometimes when there is a presidential incumbent, sometimes elections turn
out to be closer to referendums and sometimes are closer to choices. Often
unpopular incumbent try to make them into choices and try to disqualify
But I think the scale of this disaster that we`ve watched unfold now means
that it very hard to imagine that the election in November is going to be
anything other than a referendum on Donald Trump`s leadership on the
coronavirus and in particular, how he missed so badly in those first
crucial two and a half months, the testing issue going forward from there
but very much this entire period is going to be pretty much what will be on
the ballot in November.
O`DONNELL: Michael Osterholm, what testing are we going to need in the
fall? For example, for universities to welcome students back and welcome
them into dormitories, are universities going to have to be able to test
all of the returning students, some of the returning students? What about
What is testing`s role to get people back to work? Does everyone in a
workplace have to be tested to regroup at a workplace?
OSTERHOLM: Well, that`s again one of the mistakes I think that we keep
perpetrating over and over again. We got to test everybody. You know,
ideally, that would be great.
But to open back up and to get people back into society, we need to have
enough tests so that everyone who has a symptom today could be tested
immediately. Not have to wait days or have to not get tested at all. That
would be the first step.
The second step is be able to test their contacts, for people who are
around them, and know that`s the case. I worry about the broad scale
testing we`re talking about because as I mentioned in my previous answer, a
lot of people are not going to have true positive test results. They`re
going to be false.
And so, that – one of the things we need to do is make sure we have it for
people that are sick and get that done. If we did that, that would be a
huge step forward for many states. Our state here in Minnesota, we`re
having a challenge testing the people that are sick.
O`DONNELL: Michael Osterholm, John Heilemann, thank you both for starting
us off tonight. Really appreciate it.
And when we come back, Dr. Peter Hotez will join us to explain why there is
what he calls too much magical thinking about the timeline for a vaccine
and how long it will be before we get back to whatever the new normal turns
out to be.
O`DONNELL: Donald McNeil Jr. appeared with Rachel to explain his exhaustive
report in the “New York Times” looking at the year ahead and how we get
back to whatever our new normal will become. According to the 20 experts
that he interviewed for his article, the two most important elements of
getting us to the new normal are testing and a vaccine and none of the
experts think the challenges of testing or the challenges of developing and
distributing a vaccine are going to be met any time soon. Antibody tests,
for example, are important for determining who might be immune or almost
immune to the virus because their body had to fight the virus.
And today, New York state started giving antibody tests to randomly
selected sample of 30 people.
But this morning, Dr. Fauci said antibody testing has its own set of
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS
DISEASE: The problem is that these are tests that need to be validated and
calibrated and many of the tests out there don`t do that. So even though
you hear about companies saying flooding the market with these antibody
tests, a lot of them are not validated. There is an assumption, a
reasonable assumption that when you have an antibody, you`re protected
against re-infection, but that has not been proven for this particular
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Donald Trump is constantly saying that we will have a vaccine
very soon. Dr. Anthony Fauci then constantly has to stress that a vaccine
is at least a year and a half away and then Donald Trump offers his amateur
opinion again that it will sooner than that.
But even the 18 month frame work Dr. Fauci stresses might be hugely
optimistic, the fastest development of a vaccine in history took four
years, and once that vaccine is developed or a new vaccine is developed and
proven effective, distribution of the vaccine could take years.
“The New York Times” reports most American vaccine plants produce only
about 5 million to 10 million doses a year. If a vaccine is invented, the
United States could need 300 million doses or 600 million if two shots are
We`re joined by one of the experts consulted by “The New York Times” in
Donald McNeil`s exhaustive report. Dr. Peter Hotez is dean of the National
School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. He`s co-director
of the center for vaccine development at Texas Children`s Hospital in
Dr. Hotez, thank you for joining us tonight.
Let`s just start with the vaccine story and how long a road that could turn
out to be.
DR. PETER HOTEZ, DEAN, SCHOOL OF TROPICAL MEDICINE, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF
MEDICINE: Thanks for having me tonight.
You know, Dr. Fauci has charged us with an aspirational goal, a year to 18
months. It would be unprecedented and we`re working to make it happen. We
have a vaccine we`re trying to accelerate into clinical trials. Now, it`s
already manufactured. We have up to 200,000 doses ready to move into
clinical trials and hopefully we`ll engage the Food and Drug Administration
about that and there will be at least a dozen other vaccines that will
enter clinical testing, so that is good news.
The trouble is clinical testing is an arduous process. It`s arduous because
you have to show, one, that the vaccine works in people and is safe in
people. So, for instance, our vaccine we`ve shown works in laboratory
animals against challenge with the virus and appears to be safe but we`ve
got to show all those things all over again in people and same with every
other vaccine candidate, and it`s tough to really compress those timelines
too much and that`s where – that`s where the lag happens.
Despite what you`ll often hear from the anti vaccine lobby that vaccines
are not adequately tested for safety. In fact, it`s quite the opposite
among the different pharmaceuticals, there is nothing more tested for
safety and efficacy than vaccines. For the simple reason more often than
not, you`re immunizing healthy people to keep them from getting sick so you
have to be absolutely pristine in your safety profile.
O`DONNELL: Do you sometimes discover flaws in the vaccine after the vaccine
has gone public?
HOTEZ: That`s the least optimal scenario. We do have some good belts and
suspenders around that. We have four independent systems of vaccine
monitoring even after the vaccine is licensed in the United States. This is
monitored by the CDC and also the Food and Drug Administration, and it is
very robust and it has detected problems.
But you don`t want to do that, right? You want to make certain during your
clinical trials, you`ve got something that`s safe, and that`s why we don`t
want to rush it too much. We all understand the pressures and how
devastating this virus is and we`re doing everything we can and, you know,
I`m waking up at 4:00 in the morning and I`ll text my colleagues and find
out that they`ve actually been up since 3:30 in the morning., and have
already texted me, then going to bed late to make this happen and groups
all over the world are doing this. It`s an international effort.
But it`s – it`s going to be tough and to kind of increase our likelihood
of success, one of the things we`re doing is trying different technologies.
So our vaccine is a traditional one that uses the same protein technology
used in the hepatitis B vaccine all over the world so ours can be used not
only in the United States but suitable for India and everywhere else. And
there are other newer platform technologies and this will increase our
O`DONNELL: Dr. Peter Hotez, please get some sleep but please stay at it.
We`re all desperately hoping for success.
HOTEZ: Thanks so much.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Doctor.
And when we come back, we`ll be joined by an emergency room physician in
Michigan and Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow.
O`DONNELL: Only 12 percent of Americans think it is not likely that there
would be a surge in COVID-19 infections if everyone in America suddenly
went back to work tomorrow. From that 12 percent, there has sprung up a
tiny - and I mean tiny band of protesters who represent just a very, very
tiny fraction of 1 percent of the population, way, way, way less than 1
percent of the population. A few thousand people across the country, at
most, in a country of 330 million people. And those protesters want
everything to go back to normal tomorrow.
We do risk amplifying the protesters` dangerous message by paying too much
attention to them, but we think it`s worth seeing one moment of the protest
to show just how sick some of these protesters already are.
In this video, you will see one of the brave frontline heroes in this
fight, a nurse in Denver, yesterday, standing in front of a vehicle
containing a woman who screams at the nurse to go to China. A nurse who is
standing there to save that woman`s life, a nurse who remains standing
there after the woman tells that nurse to go to China.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a free country. Land of the free. Go to China
if you want communism. Go to China.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now is Dr. Rob Davidson, an emergency medicine
physician in Michigan. He`s also the Executive Director of the Committee to
Dr. Davidson, the Senate is considering new relief legislation, including
possible relief for hospitals. What would you need? What do you need at
this point in your hospital, in your work in Michigan?
DR. ROB DAVIDSON, EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, COMMITTEE
TO PROTECT MEDICARE: Well, we always need to make sure we have the
protective equipment for our staff, and particularly, my nurses,
respiratory therapists, nurse assistants who are spending so much time in
the rooms with patients and putting themselves at risk. But what we really
need to get out of the mess that Donald Trump`s lost month of February
created is the capacity to test, as your previous guest said in the first
We need to be able to test everybody who`s sick, which finally a couple of
days ago I now contest everyone with symptoms that comes into my hospital.
That`s a first. That`s three months after our first case, but we need to be
able to test their contacts. We need to be able to widely test health care
workers, people in high-risk populations. And we simply do not have that
And apparently, the President doesn`t think we need the capacity and/or he
thinks it`s on the governors to do it, that he has nothing to do with it.
O`DONNELL: Dr. Davidson, we`re now going to ask your Senator if she can get
those things for you. Dr. Rob Davidson, thank you very much for joining our
discussion tonight. Really appreciate it.
O`DONNELL: He said he`s working on a new relief package to replenish
funding for the Paycheck Protection Program and funding for small business
after he has been demonstrated that, thanks to the Republican definition of
small business, some very large corporations have exploited the small
business relief plan to help themselves, including the Ruth`s Chris Steak
House chain and the Shake Shack chain. Once Shake Shack got caught reaching
into the small business pot, Shake Shack was shamed into announcing that it
is giving back that money.
Joining our discussion now is Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow from
Michigan. She`s the Ranking Member on the Agriculture Committee and sent a
letter today urging the Trump administration to protect the food supply and
essential workers during this pandemic.
Senator Stabenow, you just heard what Dr. Rob Davidson said he needs. They
finally have enough testing to test people with symptoms, but he needs much
more testing support from the federal government. Can you get that in this
SEN. DEBBIE STABENOW (D-MI): We have some good news. And I first have to
tell you, Lawrence, it`s wonderful to be with you, but thank you for having
someone who is a friend of mine on with me, Dr. Rob Davidson, who`s just a
wonderful physician, one of the heroes, the many, many health care heroes
that we have right now in Michigan. But the reality is that we`re very,
very close. They are literally right this minute, you know how it is, going
through all that language and so on.
But in addition to another $250 billion for the small business program
you`re talking about, we have won another $120 billion to actually focus on
folks that aren`t the well connected, the mom-and-pop operations, those who
are banked differently, minority businesses, some of our farmers and rural
communities using farm credit. So we want this to go to everybody in terms
of small businesses and particularly our smaller small businesses and those
who did not get the opportunity to apply the first time around.
On health care, we`re looking at $100 billion, $75 billion of that going to
hospitals, $25 billion as a down payment on testing. And I so appreciate
all of your focus on testing because we will not get the economy open again
or save lives going forward if we are not testing so that the people who
are sick stay home and everybody else can go to work. Right now, everybody
is having to stay home because we don`t know where that virus is.
And so I released a report on behalf of our caucus and the policy chair in
the Senate for our caucus. And we did a report on testing, and welcome
folks going to my website to take a look at it tonight.
It lays out what happened from January 20th, the very first - the very
first virus case found in the United States, which is the same day as the
very first positive case in South Korea. Two different visions of how our
countries operated on testing and taking it seriously. And April 14th, when
we closed our report, South Korea had 10,000 positive cases, we had over
600,000, and now we know we`re on our way to 800,000.
So we have to test, and yet we`ve got to protect people in those meat-
packing plants and nursing homes and group homes and hospitals, and really,
ultimately, we`ve got to have a test that allows everybody, whether going
into an auto plant or a restaurant to work, to be able to get a quick test
in the morning, know they are OK and be able to go to work, and that
consumers would then have the confidence when they go into the restaurant
or any other place in the community that, in fact, they will know that
people are there who have tested negative.
O`DONNELL: Senator, how far away are we from that kind of testing capacity
in this country?
STABENOW: Well, unfortunately, we are ways away. I mean, you`re talking
about millions of tests. I mean, we`ve heard up to a million a day, and
then I`ve heard this weekend 5 million tests a day to really do it
So one of the challenges in addition to just ramping up completely is that
we also don`t have the ingredients. It`s not the machines the President
talks about. We`ve got those. Each kind of machine, each manufacturer uses
a different test kit. They use different chemicals called reagents. And
that`s one of the challenges that we have right now. We don`t have the
ingredients. We don`t have the materials. So much of those are from
So we don`t get there without a national aggressive plan that everybody
buys into, that everybody understands in the community. This is what we`re
trying to do. This is what we`re going to do. We know a vaccine is the
answer, but until then, here`s how we`re going to do it, here`s the plans
we`re going to take. We`re going to bring that production back to the
United States so that we can own that, control that, and have access to
what we need (inaudible) do it nationally. Short of that, we are really
having extremely difficult time trying to do this state-by-state.
O`DONNELL: Senator Debbie Stabenow, thank you very much for joining us
tonight, Senator. We really appreciate it.
STABENOW: Good to be with you.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
Coming up, one Presidential candidate wants to do exactly what Senator
Stabenow was talking about and one Presidential candidate doesn`t want to
do any of that and doesn`t want the responsibility for any of that. That`s
O`DONNELL: A new NBC News/”Wall Street Journal” poll shows that only 36
percent of registered voters say they generally trust what Donald Trump
says about the coronavirus while 52 percent say that they don`t trust him.
45 percent say Joe Biden would do a better job of fighting the coronavirus,
a nine-point advantage over Donald Trump.
Donald Trump is trying to keep the focus on China when he talks about
COVID-19 and the Biden campaign also wants to keep the focus on everything
Donald Trump has had to say about China and COVID-19. The Biden campaign
released this powerful ad this weekend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): He failed to act. So now Trump and his
allies are launching negative attacks against Joe Biden to hide the truth.
Here are the facts. Joe Biden warned the nation in January that Trump had
left us unprepared for a pandemic. Then Biden told Trump he should insist
on having American health experts on the ground in China.
JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would be on the phone with China
and making it clear, we are going to need to be in your country, you have
to be open, you have to be clear, we have to know what`s going on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): But Trump rolled over for the Chinese. He
took their word for it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The President tweeted, “China has been working very hard
to contain the coronavirus. The United States greatly appreciates their
efforts and transparency.”
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: –China, I spoke with
President Xi, and they`re working very, very hard, and I think it`s going
to all work out fine.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Trump praised the Chinese 15 times in
January and February as the coronavirus spread across the world.
TRUMP: It`s a tough situation. I think they`re doing a very good job.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Are you concerned about its impact on the
TRUMP: I think that China will do a good job.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Trump never got a CDC team on the ground in
China. And the travel ban he brags about, Trump let in 40,000 travelers
from China into America after he signed it, not exactly airtight. Look
around. 22 million Americans are out of work. And we have more officially
reported cases and deaths than any other country.
Donald Trump left this country unprepared and unprotected for the worst
public health and economic crisis in our lifetime. And now, we are paying
the price. All the negative ads in the world can`t change the truth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: After this break, John Heilemann and Bina Venkataraman of The
Boston Globe will join our discussion of the Presidential campaign in the
year of the coronavirus.
O`DONNELL: Sunday`s “Boston Globe” ran 16 pages of obituaries, the largest
number in the history of that newspaper. Today a “Boston Globe” editorial
said this. “The pandemic has laid bare that a president can deny the
existence of gravity as he sits under the apple tree, but sooner or later
the apples are going to fall. People are dying in this country, people who
have family and friends of all political persuasions, and no one will be
spared the economic devastation.”
Joining our discussion now, Bina Venkataraman. She is the editorial page
editor for “The Boston Globe”. She also served as an advisor to President
Obama during the Ebola epidemic. John Heilemann is back with us.
Bina, a very, very sad weekend at “The Boston Globe” with those obituaries.
The editorial today, and it all coming in a presidential campaign. It`s
easy to forget from day to day that there is a presidential campaign, but
the President seems to think the way to run his campaign is in that White
House briefing room every day by getting in these fights with reporters.
BINA VENKATARAMAN, THE BOSTON GLOBE EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR, FORMER OBAMA
ADVISOR, EBOLA RESPONSE & FORMER DIRECTOR OF GLOBAL POLICY INITIATIVES,
BROAD INSTITUTE: That`s right. I mean, I think in a sense we`re being
reminded every day that he`s running a campaign because he`s using those
briefing opportunities of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, in fact,
to continue running for President and campaigning for President. And that
is part of what inspired this editorial today, which is to say if the
President is going to use that platform to make his case for the
presidency, it`s time we take him on and really judge him on his own terms.
He talked about in his inauguration speech in 2017, American carnage, “This
American carnage stops right here, stops right now.” He was describing
factories scattered across the American landscape like tombstones.
When has the American landscape ever looked more like a grave site than it
does today, now, in 2020 under his watch, and with many of these deaths,
much of the economic devastation, preventable if the President would have
taken earlier action, if the White House would have aggressively contained
this outbreak on the onset? And here we are, weeks later, watching that
I think if you look at the President`s statements even in late February
where he said there would be - just the cases would come close to zero in a
couple of days, that this was going to disappear, reassuring the American
public, in fact, misleading the public about the threat. We can just use
his own words to evaluate how his Presidency has unfolded and how he`s
doing in responding to this pandemic.
O`DONNELL: John Heilemann, there`s an old rule in politics that I used to
see when I was a kid in Boston watching people running for city council,
all the way up to the highest offices, which is that when your opponent is
in trouble and struggling, just get out of the way and let the opponent do
that. And there`s an argument to be made for the Biden campaign just
basically staying out of the way, putting out ads, but let Donald Trump
have that stage if that stage is working against him every day, if he`s
alienating more people every day in the White House briefing room.
JOHN HEILEMANN, “THE RECOUNT” EDITOR-IN-CHIEF & NBC NEWS NATIONAL AFFAIRS
ANALYST: Right. I mean, I think the reality is that Joe Biden - and I`ve
said this before - is in a challenging position in one sense because he has
no public office, he has no official platform. He`s not engaged in this
fight in any kind of practical, tangible way. And so, at times, he`s
struggled to get traction because he`s in his basement in Wilmington,
Delaware, and he`s trying to occasionally say, like, what his plan would be
if he were president now, whatever.
None of it matters, it seems to me, Lawrence, because the President is
losing right now. He`s losing because he doesn`t understand that - the
things that he`s saying, the ways he`s behaving, how he`s acting in these
epic, long briefings every day.
You`re correct. He is running his campaign from the White House briefing
room, and he`s running it badly. And you could see that reflected in the
numbers. You can see it reflected not just in the head-to-head polling
numbers that have Biden ahead by seven, eight, nine points depending on
which poll you look at, depending on whether you`re looking at battleground
states or nationally, but all of them have Biden ahead.
But also, on the crucial question, we talked about this earlier in this
show. It`s going to be a referendum election. You look at Donald Trump`s
approval rating after having a brief little flurry of rally around the
leader, a little boost, it`s fallen back now to where it was before the
crisis. That`s never happened before. We have big crises in America, and
people rally around the President. Not happening for Trump.
And then on the key issue of dealing with the coronavirus, Biden polls way
ahead of Trump on that issue. And then, finally, on this big question, are
Americans right now more worried about the pandemic coming back, or are
they more worried about the economy? Trump is trying to convince them,
focus on the economy, we`ve got to open up, got to open up.
And overwhelmingly, two-thirds of the country says, no, we`re much more
worried about the virus and we`d like to stick with these stay-at-home
regulations. So Trump is losing every argument he`s in the middle of. He`s
losing. And if I`m with Biden campaign, I`m sort of happy right now that
I`m not in the middle of this fight. Just let the guy continue to making
the mistakes he`s making.
O`DONNELL: And Bina, the President seems to think that getting his name
somewhere near or on the $1,200 check that some people are going to get is
what he needs to do. He doesn`t seem to understand that a lot of people
getting those checks also want to get a test. They desperately want to get
a test. And they`re looking to the President of the United States to get
VENKATARAMAN: I think that`s absolutely right. And I think his idea, his
notion that the governors of the states are responsible for this is so
incompatible with just his statements just a week ago, where he claimed
total authority and control over the states.
And I think what`s also telling about these polls, the Washington - I`m
sorry - “The Wall Street Journal”/NBC poll, which John mentioned, it shows
that 66 percent of Americans are trusting their governors right now as
opposed to 36 percent trusting Trump on this issue, so I think even on the
measure of where he`s trying to place the blame and what the American
people are actually seeing, notwithstanding a few protesters.
O`DONNELL: Bina Venkataraman gets tonight`s Last Word.
Bina, thank you for joining us. John Heilemann, thank you for joining our
discussion. Really appreciate it.
That is tonight`s LAST WORD.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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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