Stacey Abrams TRANSCRIPT: 4/28/20, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O. Donnell
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
And, Rachel, as much time as you want right now telling the story of how
you met those years ago when you were so intimidated, anything you want to
add to that is just fine.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, “TRMS”: Meeting Susan was intimidating enough,
but then when it became time to meet Susan`s iron lady mother, it was like
I was reduced from human size to mouse size, and I have never quite come
back to the same size I was before that day.
She is a very, very intimidating person, and she`s awesome. And she`s 90.
She`s going to live to be 390. She`s amazing. So I am lucky to be her
O`DONNELL: Well, I have a 90th birthday present for her tonight – Stacey
Abrams. Yeah, Stacey Abrams is going to be here to join us. It`s perfect.
It`s the perfect birthday present.
And, Rachel, you are – you are, of course, a towering hero to all of us,
no matter what you might think of yourself. So just remember, we`re with
MADDOW: Thank you very much.
O`DONNELL: Thanks, Rachel.
Well, last night at this hour, we said that we would be crossing the
million mark today, and we did. The United States now has 1,012,535 cases
of coronavirus. The United States has one-third of the cases worldwide that
have been reported. The United States now has 58,303 reported deaths from
One of those deaths was Ralph Gismondi, a captain in the New York City Fire
Department who survived his tour of duty at the World Trade Center on 9/11.
He retired from the fire department a couple years later and thought he
found the perfect job to supplement his fire department pension. Ralph
became a JetBlue flight attendance.
On April 5th, Ralph Gismondi became the first JetBlue employee to die of
COVID-19. Another JetBlue flight attendant not authorized to speak to the
media told Kiera Feldman of “The Los Angeles Times” this about Ralph
Gismondi: He was saving lives, and then he retired and he went to passing
out potato chips and pretzels. And this is what this man is going to die
On April 11th, a long line of cars drove slowly by Ralph Gismondi`s house
on Long Island. Some had JetBlue scarves tied to their mirrors. Many were
driven by JetBlue flight attendants. They waived to Ralph`s wife and family
who stood in the driveway wearing masks. Just over two weeks later, JetBlue
ordered everyone working on JetBlue flights and every passenger boarding
jet blue flights to wear masks.
That JetBlue order came more than three weeks after Ralph died. No one is
keeping a count of how many people in the airline industry are dying from
COVID-19. No one is keeping that number, but “The Los Angeles Times”
studied a two-week period in April and discovered that the number is more
than one person per day in their count of airline industry deaths from
COVID-19. And JetBlue is the only airline that is mandating wearing masks
on its planes.
Later this hour, Sara Nelson, the head of the Flight Attendants Union, will
join us to explain what the airlines and the government have to do now to
make flying reasonably safe in the age of coronavirus. So far, the
government has done absolutely nothing. The FAA is silent on the subject.
The way the federal government is allowing airlines to operate now is proof
that President Trump has no idea how to safely reopen businesses in the
United States. The FAA has not issued an order, saying that all passengers
and airlines must wear masks, they could do it easy.
You cannot go into a super market in Los Angeles or New York without
wearing a mask, but you can board an airliner in each one of those cities
and sit in a middle row seat in coach with no mask because the Trump
government is literally doing nothing about safety.
The Mayo Clinic has a rule about masks. It`s very simple. Everyone who
enters has to wear a mask, couldn`t be simpler, and everyone is observing
that rule except this guy who went to the Mayo Clinic today and he refused
to follow the Mayo Clinic`s own rule about wearing the masks. They said he
had been briefed about the mask policy prior to their arrival.
Mike Pence didn`t care.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Mr. Vice President, there is obviously some controversy since
you got here about the decision not to wear a mask around the Mayo Clinic
as the governor and other officials here did. Can you just walk us through
why you have made the decision not to wear the mask, even though the clinic
said that they tweeted that have asked you to do so?
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, let me say as vice
president of the United States I`m tested for the coronavirus on a regular
basis, and everyone who is around me is tested for the coronavirus. And
when the CDC issued guidelines about wearing a mask, it was their
recognition that people that may have the coronavirus could prevent the
possibility of conveying the virus to someone else by wearing a mask.
And since I don`t have the coronavirus, I thought it would be a good
opportunity for me to be here, to be able to speak to these researchers,
these incredible health care personnel and look them in the eye and say
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: You can look them in the eye wearing a mask. The governor wore
a mask. Everyone else wore a mask, but not Mike Pence.
And he says he didn`t wear a mask because, quote, I don`t have the
coronavirus. Really? When was the last time you were tested? Were you
tested after you violated social distance guidelines yesterday standing
beside that guy in the red tie?
And Donald Trump violates social distancing guidelines all the time. Here
he is sitting so close to the Florida governor today that he can breathe
the Florida governor`s air, and he`s leaning in to do that.
Mike Pence does not know if he has coronavirus tonight. He only knows that
his last test for coronavirus indicates that he didn`t have it the last
time he took that test. Mike Pence could have then picked it up off a
surface minutes after he was tested.
None of us know if we have it. We only know what our last test result
shows. And if you are not Mike Pence, if you are like most of us, you have
never been tested. And you have no hope of being tested because Donald
Trump and Mike Pence are doing nothing to get you tested.
Mike Pence has no symptoms, but he gets tested all the time. Because, you
know, it`s just nice to know. And I have had no symptoms, and I`d like to
be tested. It`s nice to know. But I have no chance of being tested.
It`s now looking like I`ll never be tested unless I get some convincing
symptoms, and that`s true of all of you. You won`t be tested unless you get
Dr. Anthony Fauci said today, in effect, you will never get tested just
because you want to get tested, like Mike Pence wants to get tested. He
said that that`s just not part of the strategic approach. So that`s another
Fauci contradiction of Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Anybody that wants a test
can get a test. That`s what –
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I will just say that we –
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was Donald Trump lying seven weeks ago.
Here is what Dr. Fauci said today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When will everybody who needs to get a test be able to
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS
DISEASE: Yes. I like the word you use, Jake, when you said need because a
lot of times people say I want a test, and it`s not part of the strategic
approach. But needing is important. Everyone who needs a test according to
the way we`re approaching the identification, isolation, contract tracing,
keeping the country safe and healthy that hopefully we should see that as
we get towards the end of may, the beginning of June.
Jake, that`s what I`m being told by the people who are responsible for the
testing. I take them for their word. If that doesn`t happen, I`m going to
go to them and say what happened here? Why didn`t it happen and how can we
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Dr. Fauci is so confident that that goal will not be met that
he already knows what his lines are going to be. He already knows what he`s
going to say to the people when they fail to meet that testing goal. Why
did that happen? How can we fix that?
So far, the only thing you can rely on about coronavirus testing in America
is that whatever the Trump administration says is going to happen will not
happen. As Rachel Maddow has been thoroughly reporting, meat packing plants
have become one of the most unsafe places to work in America in the age of
coronavirus. And just as one worker lawsuit against a meatpacking plant`s
unsafe conditions was making progress in court, Donald Trump sided with his
big campaign contributors in the meatpacking industry and issued an
emergency order tonight ordering meatpacking plants to stay open and
That probably means that workers who are exposed to the unsafe conditions
in those meatpacking plants will have no right to sue their employers and
the Republican governor of Iowa is saying tonight that if any workers
decide to choose their health and safety over their jobs, then they will
not be eligible for unemployment benefits in Iowa.
If that kind of cruelty sounds un-American to you, it is. Cruelty towards
workers was the norm in this country 100 years ago, but Francis Perkins
guided Democratic governors and then Democratic President Franklin Delano
Roosevelt toward more and more protections for workers in the workplace.
The progress was imperfect as progress also is. But for most of the last
100 years, the American thing to do, the right thing to do was increasingly
protect workers` safety and workers` rights. But the sad truth is that has
never been the Republican thing to do.
But Trump Republicanism is not just a failure to embrace worker safety.
Trump Republicanism is an embrace of cruelty from caging children at the
southern border to doing absolutely nothing to protect the safety of
airline workers from COVID-19, to ordering workers at meatpacking plants in
effect to go back to work in the plants that are being overrun with
coronavirus. And if they don`t go back to work in those unsafe plants,
Trump Republicanism means that they get nothing, no unemployment.
Trump Republicanism will make sure that those workers cannot afford to buy
the food that they used to produce if they don`t risk their lives by
continuing to work in those meatpacking plants. That is a cruelty level
Republicans did not reach before Donald Trump showed them new levels of
Jocelyn Homola is an emergency medical technician at north well hospital in
New York. This interview was conducted for NBC`s “Dateline.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOCELYN HOMOLA, NORTHWELL HOSPITAL EMT: As a health care provider on the
front lines, I am greatly concerned for a second wave. We don`t know much
about this virus. There is too many uncertains, and I would like to think
that while the majority of the public doesn`t really understand how
terrifying this has been, I would – I would like them to think that they
want themselves and their families to stay safe and to ride this out so
that one day we do have the opportunity to go back to some level of
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Leading off our discussion tonight, Ron Klain is a former
senior aide to former Vice President Joe Biden and President Obama. He
served as the so-called Ebola czar during the Obama administration.
And Dr. Ashish Jha is the director of the Harvard Global Health Institute.
Dr. Jha, I want to go to the point that Jocelyn just raised actually in
that video, which is the second wave and her fear of the second wave. What
can you tell us about what we know or have a right to expect might be
coming in a second wave?
DR. ASHISH JHA, DIRECTOR, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: Yes. So,
Lawrence, thanks so much for having me on.
I think most of us believe that there will be a second wave, almost surely.
The big question is will it come in the fall? Can we keep our economy and
our lives reasonably intact for the summer and assuming that we do our –
we play our cards right we can get through the summer OK? We`re going to
see a resurgence of this disease in the fall.
Unfortunately, it will coincide with a resurgence of the influenza virus
which always comes in the fall. I think we have to gear up for a tough fall
and winter ahead.
O`DONNELL: And, Doctor, to Dr. Fauci`s point today about testing, he just
is throwing out the idea that we will ever get to a point where if you want
to get tested you can be tested. He`s limiting it to the definition of
people who need to be tested. And he`s saying we won`t be able to test
everyone who needs to be tested until at least June.
JHA: Yeah. You know, this has been the fiasco after fiasco after fiasco of
this administration. It`s really been stunning. You know, we have been
hearing for months that we`re doing enough tests. Everybody knows we`re not
doing enough tests.
And the bottom line is we are shut down because we failed to get testing in
place. We remain shut down because we still haven`t gotten testing going.
And if we do not get testing figured out, if we`re not testing at least a
half a million people a day, we will not be able to stay open after we open
So, I don`t understand why the administration has not made this priority
one, two and three, but they haven`t. And so here we are.
O`DONNELL: And, Ron Klain, there is absolutely no indication that this
administration is going to do anything to push testing.
RON KLAIN, FORMER SENIOR AIDE TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: No. As a matter of fact,
there is every indication they`re doing just the opposite. In fact,
yesterday there was much hype about a so-called new administration
announcement on testing. All that announcement was, was basically, hey, we
should have a plan for testing. I hope someone thinks of one and the
proposed goal in that non-plan was roughly the level of testing we`re doing
now, which is less than half the number of tests that Dr. Jha just said we
needed, which is on the lower end of which many people think we need.
And so, there is no question that we, as Dr. Jha said, we are in the mess
we`re in because we didn`t test in January and February when we could have
isolated chains of transmission and traced those contacts. You continue to
be in the mess we`re in.
And if you hear people say, hey, we`re going to open now and we`ll get the
tests in late May or early June as Dr. Fauci said today, with the caveat he
put on it that you noticed, that`s just a formula for disaster. You can`t
open and then test. We need to test and then open.
O`DONNELL: Dr. Jha, we`ve had over 20 meatpacking plants in the country
have to shut down because of outbreaks of coronavirus. We have had over 20
deaths from those plants already.
What is your reaction to the president`s in effect order that those workers
keep going to those plants, instead of leaving it to the plants themselves
to make their own decisions about when it is safe to operate and when it is
not safe to operate?
JHA: Yes. I think this is extremely shortsighted. And, of course,
extremely harmful from a public health point of view.
Look, you can`t – an executive order will not override biological reality.
And if you force people into situations that are unsafe, people will get
sick. They will die, and people then – and those plants will run out of
workers, and they will have to shut down.
So it is much better to be proactive, to give workers a break, to test
workers before they go in and make sure you have safe working environments.
There is no kind of way out of this. An executive order doesn`t override
the infectiousness and the lethality of this virus.
O`DONNELL: And, Ron Klain, does it mean the workers there will not be able
to sue employers who have been maintaining in many cases some extremely
dangerous working conditions?
KLAIN: Lawrence, I mean, people today read Upton Sinclair`s “The Jungle”
to remember a time when workers were treated like human production bits,
when they were tossed aside, when they were allowed to give up their lives
and their limbs to produce meat. And I think 100 years from now, people
will watch your monologue from this show to get a sense of what this time
was like, where the president of the United States who`s refused to use the
Defense Production Act to produce PPE, or produce test, or produce anything
we need to fight this virus and today said he would use it to make workers
work against their will in these meatpacking plants without adequate
protection and try to strip them of their rights to access to courts to get
This really is a return to the horrible practices of 100 years ago of
treating workers like machines, like cattle, like whatever you want to call
it in a time when we need that president to use that authority to fix our
health care system, not fix the meatpacking plants.
O`DONNELL: Ron Klain and Dr. Ashish Jha, thank you both for starting us
off tonight. Really appreciate it.
JHA: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
Coming up, there is news on a vaccine being developed in England. We`ll get
to that later in the hour.
And Stacey Abrams will join us next. Ohio`s presidential primary conducted
mostly by mail was completed tonight. And Stacey Abrams wants to see much
more voting by mail in the election in November when her name might be on
the ballot for vice president of the United States. Stacey Abrams will join
us from Georgia where the governor has allowed certain businesses to reopen
over Stacey Abrams` objection. That`s next.
O`DONNELL: Georgia`s Republican Governor Brian Kemp decided that this is
the week when Georgians should go to the movies, go to their local movie
theaters and watch a movie. The governor has allowed local movie theaters
to reopen this week, but the movie theaters know better and they are
A big movie chain say they will stay shut down in Georgia until at least
July. Hollywood is not distributing any new movies to any movie theaters
anywhere in the country and Netflix has more subscribers than ever.
Former Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams called Governor Kemp`s
decision to allow certain businesses to reopen, quote, dangerously callous
and deeply incompetent.
And joining us now is Stacey Abrams. She came in second in the race for
governor in Georgia in 2018 after Georgia Republicans used voter
suppression tactics to block turnout of Democratic voters.
Thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.
I want to begin with your reaction to the governor in your state allowing
the reopening of certain businesses, which obviously doesn`t mean that
those businesses will necessarily reopen and risk safety.
What has been happening in Georgia so far?
STACEY ABRAMS, FOUNDER, FAIR RIGHT: Fortunately, very few people are
taking advantage of this very untutored (ph) decision by the governor.
We are the eighth largest state in the nation, but we have the 14th highest
infection rate, topping 23,000 as of this week. We have the seventh slowest
and lowest testing rate. Meaning, we don`t even know how many people are
We are one of the states that has chicken processing plants. And so, we
have already had four deaths at processing plants that will now likely
balloon because they don`t have access to the adequate protections they
And what we are hearing across the state is that we`re not ready to reopen
because our people are not safe. Luckily, businesses like restaurants and
movie theaters are saying no, but my deep concern is the number of workers
who are being forced back to work by employers who know that in a right-to-
work state, if someone says no, they can be fired from that job.
And these are low wage workers who face either risking the health of
themselves and their families, or risking their livelihoods. And that`s a
choice no one should be forced to make.
O`DONNELL: What would be your guidelines about deciding when Georgia could
begin to allow some places to reopen or reopen schools? What would – what
kind of progress would you have to achieve in Georgia to allow that?
ABRAMS: We have to follow the facts and follow the science. That means
that we have the ability to test. Georgia is a populous state, more than
10.5 million people. We have one of the lowest testing rates, so we don`t
know what we don`t know.
Number two, we have a broken public health infrastructure. If people are
tested, there is not necessarily somewhere for them to go to be treated. We
have nine counties without (ph) a single physician, and we have a number of
counties without access to hospitals. And, so, I would ensure that we have
the public health infrastructure that we need.
And, third, we need to be able to do contract tracing. That is something
that we`re just starting to hear about. But, again, it only makes sense if
we`ve done the testing necessary and have the treatment available to help
the people we need to serve.
Last Friday, I held a call with hundreds of Georgians to talk about what
was happening in the hardest hit part of our state, and what I heard there
is what is true across the state. We are not ready to reopen.
O`DONNELL: You`re on everyone`s short list for Joe Biden`s possible
running mate, including, I`m sure, Joe Biden`s short list of running mates.
Would you accept the vice presidential nomination if Joe Biden offered it?
ABRAMS: I`ve gotten this question a number of times since 2019, and I
appreciate it. And I try to always be honest with my answer, which is that,
of course, I`d be willing to serve.
But let`s be clear, this is Joe Biden`s choice. He has a smart team, and he
has done this job. He knows what he needs in a partner. He knows what he
needs to do to serve to not only win the election but to govern this
And I know that he`s putting together a process that will serve him best.
I`ve been clear because I believe in being honest with my answers, but this
is his choice and he`s going to follow the process he decides.
O`DONNELL: I want you to listen to something that President Trump said
today because, first of all, it is worthy of your response anyway. But
there is a distinct possibility you could be on a vice presidential debate
stage with Mike Pence, and he will say something like this, no doubt, that
you would have to respond to.
Let`s listen to the president explaining why he said we were going to go
down to zero cases of coronavirus in this country. Let`s listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Today, the U.S. hit a grim milestone of one million cases of the
coronavirus. Back in late February, you predicted that the number of cases
would go down to zero. How do we get from your prediction of zero to one
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, it will go down to
zero ultimately. And you have to understand, when it comes to cases, we do
much more testing than anybody else. We`re going to show more cases because
we`re doing much, much more testing, double anybody else. Somebody said, if
you add everybody else combined, that would be a number, and it will be at
the appropriate time. It will be down to zero, like we said.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: How do you respond to that?
ABRAMS: Donald Trump has lied to the American people more than 600 times
about COVID-19, about his response and, more importantly, about his
understanding. And the reality is that he has cost tens of thousands of
lives and absolutely put people in jeopardy because of his incompetence,
his chaotic leadership and his absolute inability to tell the truth.
What I would say is that anyone who suborns his behavior, anyone who stands
next to him and nods pathetically as he lies to the American people about
injecting Clorox into their veins, anyone who would say that that is the
right way to lead does not deserve to have the job. And Donald Trump has
proven time and again that he is unequal to the task of leading our
That`s why I`m so excited about the opportunity we have in November to
elect Joe Biden.
O`DONNELL: Mike Pence went to the Mayo Clinic today. He broke their rule,
refused to wear the mask. Everyone else there is wearing a mask, the people
that work there, the other politicians who – local politician who were
with him, including the governor.
We`ve all seen politicians visit hard hat sites and put on the hard hat
when necessary, do different things. Donald Trump`s very fond of wearing
his red hats in different places.
What was your reaction to Mike Pence setting that national example today of
walking into a medical facility and violating their rule by not wearing
ABRAMS: It reminds me of what happened in Brazil when President Jair
Bolsonaro went to a protest and coughed. People are pretending they don`t
understand what`s happening, but they know what they see. They know the
disregard that`s not only being shown for protocol but for people.
It is disingenuous to have someone say they are a leader when they refuse
to actually take responsibility for the people they are in charge of.
And the reality is that Mike Pence did that because he was trying to play
to an audience of one – the man who has ruined our country in a moment
when we needed his leadership the most.
His predecessor President Obama, Vice President Biden and Ron Klain who you
had on the show. They understood that we have to build a global health
security network. They built that network and Donald Trump and Mike Pence
broke it and any amount of machismo, any attempts to prove that they are
impervious simply goes further to tell America that they do not care about
who we are and if we survive.
O`DONNELL: Joe Biden won the Ohio presidential primary tonight, which was
postponed until tonight and he won it largely, almost entirely by mail.
Almost all of those ballots were mail-in ballots which seems perfectly
reasonable in the age of coronavirus. You`d like to see many more mail-in
ballots in November?
ABAMS: Absolutely. We know that vote by mail. It`s safe, it`s acceptable
but it`s also bipartisan governor. Mike DeWine and I don`t agree on a
hardly anything but as the governor of Ohio, he provided for vote by mail.
Larry Hogan in Maryland will make certain there`s vote by mail with postage
paid which is even a better standard.
I`m working hard to lobby Congress to insure that we have vote by mail in
every state because it`s not simply about making it safe and accessible.
It`s about making sure that those who don`t have the option to vote by mail
can safely go to the polls early or on Election Day.
If you`re disabled, if you have a language barrier, if you are homeless or
displaced by Covid-19 or if your absentee ballot did not work, then those
the people who have to show up in person. Our responsibility is to remove
as many people as possible out of the line, let them safely vote from home
because we know this will not be over November.
But if we want to meet November`s challenge, we have to start planning and
O`DONNELL: Stacey Abrams, thank you very much for joining us tonight. We
really appreciate it.
ABRAMS: Thank you for having me. It`s been a delight.
O`DONNELL: Thank you. Please come back.
And when we come back, safety is supposed to be job one of every airline
but most airlines have done nothing to protect the health of passengers
during the coronavirus pandemic or protect the health of the people who
work on those airplanes.
And Donald Trump just wants to give the airlines, money without giving them
any orders about how to keep passengers and airline workers safe during
this pandemic. You can`t go into a grocery store now without wearing a mask
but in most big cities, you can now any big city, you can board any
airliner, to go anywhere you want without wearing a mask. Sara Nelson,
President of the Association of Flight Attendants joins us next.
O`DONNELL: Jorge Merelles worked for eleven hours on a flight from Rio de
Janeiro to Miami on March 15. He worked on several flights around the
United States as a flight attendant in the days after that but he was still
worried about that flight from Rio. He told the LA Times, there were a lot
of elderly customers on board who came from the canceled cruise ships. A
lot of them were sick. None of them were wearing masks. Jorge Merelles
spent eight days in the hospital being treated for Covid-19.
His test results confirming that he had Covid-19, arrived on the day that
Jorge Merelles was healthy enough to leave the hospital. Jorge Merelles
told the LA times that it was not until April 15, a full month after his
Brazil flight that his airline called to say there had been confirmed
positive cases on board.
Joining our discussion now is Sara Nelson. She`s President of the
Association of Flight Attendants and has been a flight attendant for 24
years. Sara, these stories that I`ve been telling tonight about flight
attendants and including death of flight attendants, I think has surprise
people and that they - they just assumed that a business that depends on
safety so urgently all the time, would have been thinking about how to
preserve the safety inside the cabins of these airliners?
SARA NELSON, PRESIDENT, ASSOCIATION OF FLIGHT ATTENDANTS: Well, from the
beginning we have not had the kind of coordinated response that you would
normally have from the government to give good policies to the airlines to
put in place to stop the spread of a communicable disease at the door
And of course, this has overtaken us and this is the largest crisis that we
have seen in over 100 years so there are characteristics of this that are
much greater than any other time but still, we have not had the attention
to getting the proper PPE and protections and notification to crew and
testing that`s necessary to have in place a good plan, to stop spread
And now it is into our communities and it may be very clear in that case
that the coronavirus was contracted from that flight. It seems very
specific to that but we also have approximately 100 flight attendants who
have tested positive for coronavirus and it`s no longer even - we can`t
even say for sure that this has happened at work because it is so pervasive
in all of our communities.
And flight attendants not only travel on planes but they often take public
transportation to work, transit through that airport, go to hotels, have
all these touch points where they could be coming in contact with the
O`DONNELL: So JetBlue now says you must wear a mask to be on a JetBlue
flight. American Airlines is handing out masks but it`s optional whether
the passenger uses the mask or not. What should the rules be inside the
NELSON: Look, here`s the problem Lawrence. What should be happening is that
every single essential worker on the front line should have an N95 mask
every single day that would actually protect them.
That is not even available to our health care professionals and so what we
know from scientists is that we need to make sure that every single person
in a public area and this is guidance from the CDC should be wearing a face
cloth or covering because that`s not necessarily going to protect you but
it`s going to protect the people around you.
And if everyone else participates in that activity then we`re all going to
be safer. So there needs to be a mandate from the federal government that
all through our transportation, when you get to that airport door, you need
to have a face covering over your face, whether that`s a mask or some
other, a bandanna or something else and every single person needs to be
required to be wearing that.
Now I want to applaud JetBlue because they got out in front and normally
these policies and these guidelines would be coming from the government but
absent that direction, they`re setting a tone for the industry and I
implore their colleagues around the industry to follow the lead of JetBlue
and make sure that this is standard across the industry because we cannot
wait one more day to act, when this government has totally failed us.
O`DONNELL: And what about seating on the aircraft? I mean, some airlines
have said we`re going to limit how many middle seats we sell but shouldn`t
they just exclude that? Like we`re not selling middle seats anymore at a
NELSON: Look, here`s part of the problem is that this crisis came over us
so quickly and of course, we`ve talked many times about what we had to do
just to stabilize the industry but what we also did with that financial
package and stabilizing the industry is there was language that said that
we needed to continue essential service.
We needed to get medical professionals to the hot spots to help contain the
virus. We needed to move goods and services to all of our communities but
what that also says that only essential travel should be happening right
now and so now as we`re taking steps to try to cut back the spread through
aviation because none of this has been mandated, we need to make sure
everyone`s wearing mask and we need to have social distancing policies on
So this is what airlines can do as well is not selling seats in specific
O`DONNELL: Sara Nelson, thank you very much for joining us again tonight.
We really appreciate it.
NESLON: Thank you Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: And when we come back, scientists in England believe they are
getting closer to a coronavirus vaccine and they do appear to be way ahead
of other researchers around the world. Dr. Harvey Fineberg, the former dean
of the Harvard school of public health will assess vaccine progress, next.
O`DONNELL: We will not return to anything resembling normal until there is
a vaccine and the latest vaccine news is from Oxford university scientists
in England, who are racing to develop a vaccine.
Last month researchers in the United States tested the Oxford vaccine on
six monkeys. All of the monkeys remained healthy after then being exposed
to heavy quantities of the Covid-19. The vaccine appeared to work in that
experiment. Clinical trials involving more than 6000 people are scheduled
to begin by the end of next month.
NBC news Keir Simmons spoke with Dr. Adrian Hill, a leader of the Oxford
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PROF. ADRIAN HILL, DIRECTOR, JENNER INSTITUTE, UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD: If you
can have a vaccine in the next six months, it makes those other measures
that many of us are suffering from at the moment, being isolated and not
being able to interact more worthwhile if there`s an end in sight and I
think there is. We have a good idea of what type of immunity it produces.
KEIR SIMMONS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: How many doses of vaccine do you
think you can make?
HILL: We are aiming to make not million, probably not tens of millions but
ideally hundreds of millions of doses of this vaccine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining our discussion now Dr. Harvey Fineberg. He`s the former
president of the National Academy of Medicine, the former Dean of the
Harvard school of Public Health. He`s the Chair of the National Academy
Standing Committee on Emerging Infectious Diseases which is advising the
Dr. Fineberg, what is your reading of the Oxford vaccine development?
DR. HARVEY FINEBERG, FMR PRESIDENT, NATL ACADEMY OF MEDICINE: It`s a very
positive development, Lawrence. We now have evidence in animals in these
Rhesus macaques that this vaccine appears to confer protection against the
challenge with the coronavirus. That`s really promising as a development.
Keep in mind though that there are many steps between now and having a
fully demonstrated safe and effective vaccine that could be used in humans.
O`DONNELL: The Oxford team had a head start on this because they were
working in this vaccine arena before Covid-19 actually broke out so is did
they - did they seem like the likely first team to get across the finish
line with something?
Well, they are apparently ahead at this moment. They were working on a
vaccine against the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, another coronavirus.
So very conveniently they could take the vehicle that they had developed in
order to test that vaccine and reprogram the critical component to match
the new coronavirus.
Since they had already documented a lot of the safety from that earlier
vaccine, they were authorized by the British authorities to move more
rapidly into a larger human trial for safety and as you mentioned, very
soon for efficacy or effectiveness of the vaccine.
I`m aware of at least three other vaccines, two in the U.S., one in China
that are also being tested at this stage at a more preliminary level in
O`DONNELL: Do you share Dr. Hill`s optimism when you hear him talk about
getting to what he thinks might be a finish line? He`s describing that in
FINEBERG: I love the enthusiasm and confidence of any vaccine developer or
drug developer. They have to have confidence in their product. Experience
teaches that many promising developments whether it`s a treatment or a
vaccine do not come all the way through all the tests to the finish line.
That`s why it`s so important that we`ve actually got a number of candidates
that are in process. If we have several effective vaccines, we protect
ourselves in a couple of ways. We can avoid eliminating a vaccine and not
being able to use anything, if one of them for example develops a serious
side effect down the line.
We also have the capacity with different vaccines to gear up more quickly,
not only to the hundreds of millions of doses that Dr. Hill mentioned but
to the billions that we will need to protect the global population.
O`DONNELL: So you - you expect there to be when we get to the vaccine
stage, whenever that is, that will be more than one vaccine on the market.
FINEBERG: With work there will be. We will have more than one vaccine, that
will be in production, that will be demonstrated to pass safety and
efficacy standards and that would be in production and distributed in the
world. One of the most critical things now Lawrence is before there`s a
success, the authorities in different countries should work together to
ensure that whatever succeeds and however many succeed, we`ve got in place
the agreements, the arrangements to be certain there`s equitable sharing of
these vaccines around the world.
O`DONNELL: Dr Harvey Fineberg, thank you very much for joining our
discussion tonight, really appreciate it.
FINEBERG: My pleasure.
O`DONNELL: And we have breaking news tonight that is not a big surprise.
Joe Biden has finally won the democratic presidential primary in Ohio. That
primary was postponed and most of the voters who participated voted by mail
this time. Steve Kornacki will join us next with news from Ohio and what it
could mean for the November election. Steve Kornacki is back and he`s back
as Steve Kornacki, the election guy. That`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, FMR FIRST LADY, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I want to add my
voice to the many who have endorsed you to be our president. Just think of
what a difference it would make right now if we had a president who not
only listened to the science, put facts over fiction but brought us
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: There are now 189 days until the presidential election in
November. Today Ohio held its primary election almost entirely by mail. Due
to the coronavirus pandemic Ohio had postponed its primary which was
originally scheduled for March 17.
And joining us now with the latest election news from Ohio is Steve
Kornacki at the big board boy. It`s fun to say that. Haven`t said that in a
while. Steve, what happened in Ohio? What does it tell us about November?
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it`s interesting Lawrence.
We haven`t had one of these in a while and really this is the last of this
kind at all that we`re going to have this year so enjoy this one.
So what I mean by that is officially the primary is today. The ballots were
due today. Or at least had to be postmarked by last night but if you
remember back in March when this primary was postponed, there had already
been some votes cast for this.
They had had in-person early voting going for a while in Ohio. They had
some ballots that were that were sent in already and so basically what they
said back in March was all those ballots will count and then we`re going to
do a mail in primary in late April.
So you`ve got a mix year. These results are sort of a mix. Some of these
votes were cast when this was still a competitive race, when Bernie Sanders
was running against Joe Biden and a lot of these votes were cast after
Bernie Sanders dropped out of the race and endorsed Joe Biden.
So exactly which come from the by each bucket, we don`t really know but
this is the last time really you`re going to have votes that were cast,
when this was a competitive race and again, Biden obviously not
surprisingly winning this thing overwhelmingly. There`s a chance Sanders
will actually get some delegates out of this.
Every single county in the state going for Joe Biden and the big question
as you say Lawrence is, what does this mean for November, what does it mean
in terms of what our election is going to look like in November because
what happened here in Ohio, where they had to scramble and improvise and
basically turn this into a mail-in primary elections, a lot of states are
going to have to ramp up and do that this November.
And they haven`t tried it before. Administratively, they haven`t had the
scale of mail-in ballots. They`re going to deal with it, this year so
here`s a question here of how this goes in Ohio. Does it indicate how it
will look in other states? We can tell you there are still some votes to be
coming in and you can ignore this number.
That`s based on old math but there are still some more votes to come in but
it looks like democratic turnout is down 33 percent, roughly 33 percent.
That`s the trend right now. About 33 percent down from 2016 but again in
2016, you had a very competitive primary.
Hillary Clinton versus Bernie Sanders and not so competitive primary this
time. So tough to know exactly what that decline in turnout means.
Certainly, they did get a lot of votes here that were cast in this thing.
The main issue is this. It`s going to take a few days I think to figure
this out. There were some voters in Ohio saying, I requested a mail-in
ballot and it never arrived and the mail was going slow in some parts of
the states because this pandemic, it was running you know 5-10 days behind
So I think one thing we`re going to find out here in the next two days, I
think is, how many, how widespread was it that people requested ballots and
didn`t get them. Was it a small issue that can be fixed in other states or
was it a broader issue? That`s what we`re going to learn in the next couple
of days, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Steve Kornacki, just great to see you back at the big board.
Thank you Steve for joining us. Really appreciate it.
KORNACKI: Thanks Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Steve Kornacki, gets tonight`s last word. The 11th hour with
Brian Williams starts now.
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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