WI Supreme Court TRANSCRIPT: 5/13/20, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O. Donnell

Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway, Tom Steyer, Dr. James Hildreth, Howard Koh, Ron Klain, Nannette Barragan




And I watched your interview with the governor of Wisconsin and he said the

state is the Wild West now that the Supreme Court there has struck down his

stay-at-home order, and all of the counties might just be trying to make

their own decisions. Dane County has said –


ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST, “VELSHI”: Seventy-two of them.


O`DONNELL:  Dane County has said they will continue the stay-at-home order,

Madison is the big city in Dane County, the mayor of Madison, Wisconsin, is

going to join us in this hour. So we`ll find out what she says is going to

happen there tomorrow in her city and her county. We don`t know yet.


VELSHI:  It`s going to be an interesting situation. A lot of people around

the country, including Michigan, are watching to see how this plays out. It

doesn`t seem like the best thing for public health but we shall see,



O`DONNELL:  Thank you, Ali. Thank you very much.


VELSHI:  All right.


O`DONNELL:  Well, Donald Trump who will never buy or ride in an electric

vehicle that is not a golf cart is now a big fan of Elon Musk because Elon

Musk called California`s government, quote, fascist, for issuing a stay-at-

home order that closed Elon Musk`s Tesla manufacturing plant in California.

Elon Musk who knows as much as viruses as Donald Trump had predicted that

there would be zero cases of coronavirus in the United States by the end of

April. April, the month that turned out to be the deadliest month in our



This week, Elon Musk decided to defy California`s stay-at-home order and

forced his workers to come back to work at his Tesla plant under threats of

possibly losing some of their benefits and possibly losing their

eligibility to collect unemployment benefits. “The New York Times” reports

tonight that Tesla is now negotiating with county officials about how to

compile with new safety regulations as the plant resumes production.


None of what Elon Musk has done is typical of what businesses in California

have been doing under these stay-at-home orders. The people of California

and California businesses have been very supportive of Governor Gavin

Newsom`s approach to contain the coronavirus and we`ll be joined later in

this hour by the person who Governor Newsom appointed to a new task force

to find the safest way for California businesses to reopen.


He was a very successful businessman himself, now concentrating on climate

issues and you will recognize him from the debate stage as former

presidential candidate Tom Steyer. He will join us later in this hour with

his plan to keep the coronavirus contained as California gradually reopens

and if he has one, his plan to contain Elon Musk.


And so we are once again back to where it all began with the Trump

administration lying about the numbers. That was the first order of

business for the first Trump White House press secretary who was ordered to

lie about the number of people who showed up for Donald Trump`s

inauguration. Donald Trump couldn`t bear the shame of drawing a much

smaller crowd than the inaugurations of President Obama. And so, the

solution of Donald Trump with numbers he doesn`t like, whether they be

associated with measurements of his wealth or his income or his crowd size

or his IQ score, the Trump solution is always to simply lie.


“The Daily Beast” reports President Donald Trump and members of his

coronavirus task force are pushing officials at the Centers for Disease

Control and Prevention to change how the agency works with states to count

coronavirus related deaths and they`re pushing for revisions that could

lead to far fewer deaths being counted than originally reported according

to five administration officials working on the government`s response to

the pandemic.


Lying about his non-existent billions of dollars or his crowd sizes, that`s

one thing. Lying about these deaths is something else entirely. As of

tonight, the United States now has 1,397,416 confirmed cases of



In his Senate testimony yesterday, Dr. Anthony Fauci agreed with Senator

Bernie Sanders the real number is significantly higher because we have only

tested about 2 percent of the American population. When Senator Sanders

suggested that the real number could be 50 percent higher, Dr. Fauci did

not disagree.





DISEASES:  Most of us feel that the number of deaths are likely higher than

that number because given the situation particularly in New York City, when

they were really strapped with a very serious challenge to their health

care system that there may have been people who died at home who did have

COVID who were not counted as COVID because they never really got to the





O`DONNELL:  And so, as of tonight, the United States has suffered 84,506

reported deaths from coronavirus, and now, Donald Trump wants to deny that

number. The modeling that has so far proved relatively accurate on the

coronavirus spread in the United States says that on August 27th, the day

Donald Trump is scheduled to be officially renominated as the Republican

Party`s candidate for president, the United States of America will have

double, double the number of deaths from coronavirus than it has tonight.


On Donald Trump`s renomination day, the model now projects that we will

have about 160,000 confirmed deaths from coronavirus and we can be

guaranteed in Donald Trump`s acceptance speech that night that that number

will be ignored or lied about. Donald Trump has lied about deaths before.

The most loathsome lie Donald Trump told as a presidential candidate was

that he lost hundreds of friends on 9/11.





when the World Trade Center – the World – excuse me. I lost hundreds of





O`DONNELL:  When Donald Trump said that in the South Carolina debate, I

immediately tweeted he was lying. The next day, Donald Trump changed the

hundreds of friends to many, many friends. He said he lost many friends on

9/11 and I immediately tweeted that was also a lie.


The truth is that Donald Trump lost zero friends on 9/11, zero. He did not

attend a single 9/11 funeral, not one.


And what he was trying to do for his political gain was to steal the grief

of thousands of people who lost family members and loved ones and friends

on 9/11. Donald Trump was trying to steal their grief and make it his own

and turn it into political currency. And that same Donald Trump is now

trying to steal the grief of the thousands of American families who have

lost a loved one to coronavirus, the thousands upon thousands of Americans

who lost a friend to coronavirus.


Donald Trump wants to steal their grief and make it disappear just throw it

away, just pretend that that grief and those deaths do not exist. It is

impossible for Donald Trump to dishonor the American dead in this pandemic

more than denying the truth of their deaths, to pretend their deaths did

not happen as to pretend their lives did not happen, it is to pretend that

their lives did not end in a previously inconceivable way, in a hospital

bed alone in a room, no family allowed, no hand holding at the bedside on

that final day, in that final moment, and then no funeral, no memorial

service of any kind where the grieving could gather, where they could wrap

their arms around each other to try to contain that grief.


Donald Trump is going to dishonor all of that. Moral cartographers have in

the past believed they mapped the extent of the depravity of Donald Trump

but there`s always more, always. Now that Donald Trump`s reelection plan is

to lie about the number of deaths from coronavirus, Donald Trump knows that

he is going to have to publicly disagree with the government`s leading

expert on the coronavirus, Dr. Anthony Fauci.


And so today, Donald Trump decided to do that more forcefully than he has

in the past. Donald Trump using absolutely zero scientific authority or

intelligence, today tried to contradict this statement that Dr. Fauci made

yesterday in his Senate testimony about reopening schools.




FAUCI:  The idea of having treatments available or a vaccine to facilitate

the reentry of students into the fall term would be something that would be

a bit of a bridge too far. Even at the top speed we`re going, we don`t see

a vaccine playing in the ability of individuals to get back to school this

term. What they really want is to know if they are safe, and that`s the

question that will have to be do with what we discussed earlier about





O`DONNELL:  And today, here`s what Donald Trump had to say about that.




TRUMP:  I was surprised by his answer, actually, because, you know, it`s

just – to me, it`s not an acceptable answer, especially when it comes to

schools. The only thing that would be acceptable is professors, teachers,

et cetera, over a certain age should take it easy for another few weeks,

four weeks, five weeks, who knows, whatever it might be.




O`DONNELL:  Not an acceptable answer. That`s from the person who said this

country was going to go from 15 cases of coronavirus straight down to zero

in response to a reporter`s question. Not an acceptable answer.


That`s from the person who America and the world and history must never

forget said this.




O`DONNELL:  And then I see the disinfectant where it knocks it out in a

minute, one minute and is there a way we can do something like that by

injection inside or almost a cleaning because you see it gets in the lungs

and it does a tremendous number on the lungs. So it would be interesting to

check that. You`re going to have to use medical doctors. It sounds

interesting to me.




O`DONNELL:  Leading off our discussion tonight, Ron Klain, a former senior

aide to President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, who served as the

chief of the Ebola task force during the Obama administration. And Dr.

Howard Koh, he is the former assistant secretary for health in the Obama

administration. He`s a professor at the Harvard Chan School of Public



Professor, I want to get your reaction to the Trump administration trying

to force the CDC to recalculate the number of dead from coronavirus.



Well, as a physician and a scientist and former assistant secretary for

health, I find these developments very disturbing. In a crisis like this,

we need the best science and the best data and the best information

possible to guide us into the future.


Everybody knows that the number of cases and the number of deaths right now

are an estimate. Everybody agrees that they`re undercounted actually. We

haven`t had accurate numbers on the cases because the testing has been slow

to ramp up.


As Dr. Fauci mentioned, the number of deaths have been under-counted, as

well, because there are people who have died at home without testing, died

in nursing homes without testing, so these are issues of data and science

that are critically important to address. Right now, we are wrestling with

how to reopen schools and businesses going forward and in the fall, we may

yet have another wave of COVID along with seasonal flu.


So, right now, data and science and facts are critically important that got

us into the future.


O`DONNELL:  Ron Klain, here is the president trying to get the number of

dead to change to be pushed down. Obviously, he is intent on lying about it

from this point forward and at the same time, suppressing CDC guidelines

about how to manage different avenues of reopening and what thresholds you

need to meet for example to reopen a school or to reopen a business. They

don`t want any of those guidelines going out because they`re stricter than

Donald Trump wants.



launched a war on the facts. He`s launched a war on Dr. Fauci. I wish he

was fighting as hard as against this virus.


Tens of thousands of the 80,000 deaths are unnecessary due to the

administration`s bundling of this, and the more they try to sweep it under

the rug, the more they try to deny the existence of the virus, deny its

extent, deny its consequences, the less likely they are to get the response

going forward. That`s how we got into this mess in the first place.


The president spent January and February denying this was a problem and so,

we`re behind. And now, he wants to downgrade the problem so it won`t ramp



The things we need to do remain the same, Lawrence. Whether the president

admits or denies them. We need testing ramped up, we need contact tracing

ramped up. We need to accelerate work on therapeutics and accelerate on



The president can lie about facts all they want. People are feeling this in

their lives. And there`s one final fact that even his own government is

being honest about, which is that 35 million Americans have lost their

jobs, because of the bungled response here. And that fact isn`t going to go

away and Americans know if they`re employed or if they aren`t employed. It

would be very hard for the president to spin that.


O`DONNELL:  Dr. Koh, I want to get your reaction to what, basically, this

dispute between Anthony Fauci and Donald Trump, and Anthony Fauci`s

statement about reopening schools and his concerns about that and the fact

that we will not have a virus when it comes time for the fall late August

to – I`m sorry, a vaccine late August to reopen schools with the benefit

of a vaccine and that they`re going to have to be very, very careful steps.


State schools in California announcing they will not be welcoming students

back. And Donald Trump saying we absolutely have to reopen schools in the



KOH:  Well, I have the great honor of working closely with Dr. Fauci when I

was assistant secretary for health, and Tony is universally respected as an

outstanding researcher and scientist and health expert. He has guided our

country through so many health threats in the past whether it`s HIV, or

Zika or Ebola.


And so, in a time like this, he offers outstanding experienced, high-level

scientific advice and he`s always very careful and very cautious. He served

a number of presidents from both sides of the aisle. So at a time like

this, all officials, the president and all government leaders should be

listening carefully to Dr. Fauci`s advice. It`s the best science available

to us as we move forward.


O`DONNELL:  Ron Klain, how much more of this – you worked with Dr. Fauci

in the Obama administration. How much more of this can Dr. Fauci take, the

president of the United States saying Dr. Fauci`s answers are unacceptable?


KLAIN:  Well, I think as Dr. Koh noted, Dr. Fauci serves since the Reagan

administration and I think he`ll continue to serve because he does his duty

and he believes that what he`s doing and it`s true is saving lives every

day. I think that – so I think he will take it.


I mean, look, he understands that this is a life or death struggle for many

families and while the president trying to publicly ridicule him and

criticize him can`t be pleasant, what he`s doing, which is standing up for

the truth, trying to give the Americans the best medical advice is saving

lives, and I don`t think Tony Fauci will walk away from that post.


But I think a lot of Americans will suffer needlessly because the president

is doing whatever he can to suppress the truth about what Tony Fauci

thinks, to deny it, to negate it, and most importantly, to not make it the

policy of his administration. And so, I think Tony Fauci is not going to

give up on this job, not going to give up on this fight. But I wish it

wasn`t a fight, I wish the president would do what five predecessors,

Democrat, Republican, liberal, conservative, has done, which is to take his

advise as the best advice on infectious disease that our government has.


O`DONNELL:  Ron Klain and Dr. Howard Koh, thank you both for starting off

our discussion tonight. We really appreciate it.


KLAIN:  Thank you, Lawrence.


KOH:  Thank you.


O`DONNELL:  Thank you.


Programming note, tomorrow night at this hour, we will present a LAST WORD

special, Joe Biden with Stacey Abrams. Presidential candidate Joe Biden

will be with us for the entire hour. And in the second half of our

discussion, we will be joined by Stacey Abrams who has been working to

ensure fair voting practices in the 2020 election, which has become much

more of a challenge in the year of the coronavirus pandemic. It will be Joe

Biden and Stacey Abrams first ever joint television appearance.


And you viewers at home will have a chance to participate, go to

MSNBC.com/townhall to submit a question for Joe Biden and Stacey Abrams

tomorrow night, at 10:00 p.m., right here on MSNBC.


And up next, what is likely to be another devastatingly bad hearing for

Donald Trump in the House of Representatives will start tomorrow morning at

10:00 a.m. Washington Time, when a whistle blower from the Department of

Health and Human Services will describe how he believes Donald Trump`s

failure of the pandemic will lead to, quote, these are his words, the

darkest winter in modern history. That the next.




O`DONNELL:  Tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. Washington time, Trump administration

whistle blower Dr. Rick Bright will testify to Congress that the United

States is running out of time to prevent what he calls his words, the

darkest winter in modern history. That is in his opening statement, which

was released today.


Dr. Bright mourns: Our window of opportunity is closing if we fail to

develop a national coordinated response based in science, I fear the

pandemic will get far worse and be prolonged causing unprecedented illness

and fatalities. Without clear planning and implantation of the steps that I

and other experts have outlined, 2020 will be the darkest winter in modern



Dr. Rick Bright, the government`s top vaccine expert says he was ousted

from his position because he resisted efforts to push unproven drugs

supported by the president, he will testify that his correct predictions

about the threat of the virus and shortages of medical supplies were

dismissed by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and other

administration officials.


In an interview with CBS News last week, Dr. Bright gave a preview of what

we might be hearing in tomorrow morning`s hearing in the House of





DR. RICK BRIGHT, FORMER DIRECTOR, BARDA:  We see too many doctors and

nurses now dying, and I was thinking that we could have done more to get

those masks and those supplies to them sooner, and if we had, would they

still be alive today?




O`DONNELL:  Joining our discussion now is Democratic Congresswoman Nanette

Barragan of California. She`s a member of Energy and Commerce Subcommittee

that will hear Dr. Bright`s testimony tomorrow.


Congresswoman, thank you very much for joining us tonight.


What – what are you planning to question Dr. Bright about? What angle of

this will you be going at?


REP. NANETTE BARRAGAN (D-CA):  Well, Lawrence, I think when you read Dr.

Bright`s complaint, what`s striking is the difference between what public

health experts along with him were gathering and saying behind the scenes,

and what the president and the administration was publicly putting out in

the huge disconnect.


So I`m going to ask him about that and of basically try to make sure that

we understand – that Congress understands what the administration knew and



And we need to be able to get to the facts. This is something that Dr.

Bright`s opening testimony says. It`s very important we get to the truth

and that we make sure that we base our decisions on science.


That`s not what was happening if you take a look at Dr. Bright`s complaint

and I think we`re going to hear more about that tomorrow.


O`DONNELL:  I just want to make clear for the audience. It`s a standard

procedure with congressional committees that opening statement testimony is

released the day before. The witnesses are required to submit it to the

committee the day before. That`s why we have it now.


So, Congresswoman, it gives us a pretty strong idea of the outlines of what

he`s going to say, but there is a lot of possible detail we can find out

tomorrow about exactly what Alex Azar did, what other named officials in

the various departments did or did not do in response to what Dr. Bright

was saying.


BARRAGAN:  Absolutely, and I think that`s going to be the heart of the

testimony tomorrow that many of us who are going to go through, I say many

members of Congress are concerned about, whether he`s raising the alarm

bell early on about the need to get more protective equipment and more

masks. He goes into a whole conversation in his emails about the need to

ramp up to – to get the syringes and the needles we need so when we do get

a vaccine.


The entire time, it seems like given his testimony and given the complaint,

that they just weren`t taking him seriously. So, the two things here that I

think are the big points are, the truth and science were being silenced

with politics.


I think that`s something needs to be clear, that the one of the big points

and that he`s giving out his contracts to people based on cronyism, based

on connections, and they weren`t basing it on science and experts like him,

and that`s a concern we`ll get to the bottom of tomorrow.


O`DONNELL:  We can probably bet that there will be some kind of Donald

Trump distraction he tries to throw up tomorrow, something histrionic, to

take people`s attention off of this hearing.


But with Dr. Bright testifying at this point, at exactly the same point

when we`re getting other corroborating stories like administration

obviously suppressing CDC guidelines for reopening of schools, reopening of

businesses, Dr. Bright is not going to be there without corroborating

information coming from other sources as we`ve learned.


BARRAGAN:  Well, his complaint is in a lot of emails, and certainly, we

have a second witness who`s going to back up the testimony of Dr. Bright

and we can`t be distracted by what the president puts out there. The

president will do something to distract. We know that, that`s his M.O.


What we have to focus on is what Dr. Bright has to say about what we need

to do to prepare.


As you mentioned in the introduction, Dr. Bright is concerned that if we

don`t prepare looking forward and do what we need, we are going to have the

darkest winter of this year and modern history, and we can`t allow that to

happen. And that`s why I think it`s I`m imperative that Congress have this

hearing tomorrow and not be distracted and hopefully the media isn`t

distracted either and focuses on what Dr. Bright is saying, so that

Congress can take a look at what he`s saying and we can implement things

and have the oversight that really we need to hear from him on what needs

to be done.


He – in his opening testimony as well, Lawrence, ties (ph) Dr. Fauci and

the importance of Dr. Fauci and his testimony on making sure that we`re

doing things appropriately based on science. And so, here you have the

medical experts, the people who know what they are doing, we`ve got to

listen to them and not to the politics of this administration and what

they`re trying to tell the public because there`s no doubt they have been

misleading the public and that`s where I am (AUDIO GAP) on my line of



O`DONNELL:  Congresswoman Nanette Barragan, thank you very much for joining

us tonight. We will be watching the hearing tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. We

really appreciate it. Thank you.


BARRAGAN:  Thank you.


O`DONNELL:  And when we come back, the Wisconsin Supreme Court controlled

by conservatives struck down on a 4-3 vote the Democratic governor`s stay-

at-home order today but it`s not clear what that will actually mean in

Wisconsin tomorrow. At least one county announced they will not lift the

stay at home policy. We`ll be joined next by the Mayor of Madison,

Wisconsin to find out what`s going to happen there tomorrow.




O`DONNELL: Today the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down Democratic

Governor Tony Evers` stay-at-home order which had been extended until May

26. It was a 4 to 3 decision by the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Included in

the four deciding votes was conservative Judge Daniel Kelly who last month

lost his re-election campaign to the Supreme Court to liberal Joel Karofsky

who will be sworn in to that position on August 1.


The Milwaukee journal Sentinel reports the ruling “will force the

democratic governor and Republican controlled legislature to work together

on the state`s response to the ebbs and flows of the outbreak - a dynamic

the two sides have rarely been able to achieve before.”


A poll released yesterday by the Marquette University law school found that

69 percent of Wisconsin registered voters think the stay-at-home order is

an appropriate reaction. Ali Velshi interviewed Governor Tony Evers





GOV. TONY EVERS (D) WISCONSIN: People in Wisconsin have stuck to it.

Staying at home, making sure that they`re doing the physical distancing.

We`re doing the right things and unfortunately in this one failed swoop

four judges who didn`t really care about what the statutes talk about, have

thrown our state into chaos.


We`re the Wild West Ali. There are there are no restrictions at all across

the state of Wisconsin. The Cavan League in the state has sent messages,

emails to their members saying, we`re open tonight and we`re going to have

more cases, we`re going to have more deaths.


And it`s a sad - it`s a sad occasion for the state. I can`t tell you how

disappointed I am.




O`DONNELL: After the court`s ruling, Dane county announced that it will not

lift the stay at home restrictions in that county. Madison is the largest

city in Dane county. Joining us now the Democratic Mayor of Madison,

Wisconsin, Satya Rhodes-Conway. Thank you very much for joining us tonight.


You just heard the governor call it the Wild West, your state of Wisconsin,

which we think of as more mild mannered than that usually but what is going

to happen tomorrow?



is disappointing this ruling. The Supreme Court here has thrown us into

chaos without a plan and but as usual, local government is on the front

lines of this pandemic and here in Madison and Dane county, we are

continuing on with the safer-at-home orders.


So at least in Madison tomorrow morning is going to be just the same as it

was this morning.


O`DONNELL: And so do the counties now have the authority, did the Supreme

Court in effect just leave it open so that the counties do still have this

authority to exercise if they want to.


RHODES-CONWAY: That`s county`s authority is based on a different statute

than the Health secretary`s so we do still have that level of local



O`DONNELL: Let`s take a look at some polling about what is really happening

in Wisconsin, the way people really feel about the governor for example.

Governor Evers has a 64 percent approval in Wisconsin. Donald Trump has a

44 percent approval in Wisconsin. 51 percent disapproval in Wisconsin and -

and so it`s very clear that the majority of voters support the governor

across the board on this.


And so what do you expect the behavior to be given that most people are now

internalizing these rules for their own safety? What do you expect to see

generally in Wisconsin tomorrow being on Madison?


RHODES-CONWAY: Listen, the safer-at-home order has been working. Now we

have been effectively flattening our curve, certainly here in Madison but

we do have problems across the state. We have hot spots and so I`m actually

quite worried that we`re going to see an increase in cases because of this

order and it`s really irresponsible.


You know this is the same Supreme Court that thought it was a good idea for

us to hold an election during a pandemic and as a result dozens and dozens

of people have gotten sick. The court didn`t learn from that experience and

they`ve opened up the state without a plan. Lawrence, this is what happens

when you mix politics with pandemic planning.


O`DONNELL: Yes and the Milwaukee paper saying that the governor and the

legislature are going to have to work together. There`s polling information

on that. 53 percent in Wisconsin support, they trust the governor and only

33 percent trust the legislature so he`s far ahead on that. We`ll see how

they work it out. Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway, thank you very much

for joining our discussion tonight. Really appreciate it.


RHODES-CONWAY: Thank you. It`s a pleasure.


O`DONNELL: Thank you. Coming up the leader of the world`s fifth largest

economy is trying to manage a careful and gradual reopening of businesses

and possibly schools. California Governor Gavin Newsom has asked our next

guest Tom Steyer to help, guide that reopening of businesses in California

where so far everything has been going very smoothly except in the view of

billionaire Elan Musk who has called the shutdown of California his word,


That`s next.




O`DONNELL: Two months ago, the world`s fifth largest economy had an

unemployment rate of 3.9 percent. Now it has unemployment rate of 18

percent with government officials estimating that it could go to 25

percent. The place we`re talking about is of course California.


California has lost more income and more jobs than any other state because

California has more income and more jobs and more people than any other

state. It is impossible to reopen the economy of the United States

successfully without California since California is by far the single

largest contributor to the American economy of the 50 states.


California`s Governor Gavin Newsom issued the first stay-at-home order in

the country statewide and Governor Newsom has now outlines the gradual

steps California will take out of the state carefully, slowly reopens.




GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D) CALIFORNIA: I know others are more eager to move more

quickly and we will work with every county, with every city, in a practical

and responsible way but here`s the caveat. This is the health driven

conversation. It`s not because we don`t want to, it`s not because we would

not like to, it`s not because we want to be particularly oppressive in

terms of people`s desires and needs, it`s because public health dictates

that we do this and we do this in a thoughtful way.




O`DONNELL: Governors Newsom has appointed a business recovery task force

which is co-chaired by California philanthropist and former democratic

presidential candidate Tom Steyer and joining us now is Tom Steyer who is

the Chief Economic Recovery Adviser to California Governor Gavin Newsom.

He`s also the co-chair of California`s task force on business and jobs



Mr. Steyer, welcome back to the program. You last time you were here, you

were a presidential candidate. I have a feeling that that was a lot easier

than the task in front of you right now.



to be back. And there`s no nothing I`d rather be doing than giving advice

to a governor who has had a great - is doing a great job so far of

protecting California lives and of outlining a careful way to reopen our

economy so that we do it in a safe, health-driven way as you just heard.

This is exactly where I`d like to be Lawrence.


O`DONNELL: You know, I mentioned the incident with Elon Musk and Tesla

because it`s an outlier in California. I`ve been in California for the last

several weeks of this pandemic and I`ve seen the behavior in California

businesses, the people of California.


Very, very minor you know kind of disruptions here and there, very small

number of people. Most businesses have been completely in agreement with

the way the governor has approached this. What can you tell us about the

situation of the Tesla plant with they`re not - they`re now in negotiations

with the county about how to operate safely. Is that going to work out?


STEYER: Well, let me start by saying Lawrence, what you said is true. The

people in California realize the kind of careful, phased reopening of the

economy that Governor Newsom is described actually is the best way to open

the economy, both to preserve the health and lives of Californians but also

to have the most robust recovery.


And in fact when you look at what`s happened between Tesla and the county

of Alameda, the system has worked. I think there`s a natural tension

between people who are running companies and are desperate to get their

workers back to work, are desperate to start the business again and the

authorities who have to make health their number one issue.


But I think the reason I said that this system has worked is people running

businesses in California including Tesla are also very, very serious about

protecting the health and lives of their workers. And the people on the

health authorities are also very serious about getting Californians back to

work as fast, as safely possible.


So what happened here was a normal natural tension with people

communicating and trusting each other and working out a system so that both

of the issues can be dealt with at the same time cooperatively. That`s



O`DONNELL: Yes and the county officials were negotiating with the people

who actually run the plant. They didn`t have to deal with the Elon Musk in

the room so it might have been a more reasonable conversation. I want to

talk about the link between education and the business sector that your

concentrating on because the challenge of reopening and - and having

workers come back to work is what happens to the kids if they`re still at

home unable to go to California schools.


So there`s an overlap of interests there that you have to deal with, don`t



STEYER: Absolutely Lawrence. I mean I think there`s no question that a

condition precedent to use a couple fancy words to reopening the economy

fully is having kids at school because that frees up their parents to go

back fully to work but I think there`s another issue here that I think

Governor Newsom was absolutely focused on long before the coronavirus

pandemic and that is the so-called digital divide.


Having every family in California have access to high speed internet. That

is something he talked about in his state address in January as something

that`s an equity issue because we want to have California come out of this

crisis more just, more sustainable and forward looking.


But having this crisis and knowing that education is going to be partially

dependent on every family and every kid having access to high speed

internet means it puts a different urgency and a different time frame on

bridging that digital divide and that`s what this - this pandemic is doing.


It`s pointing out inequities in the system, it`s pointing out where

injustices have been and it`s really putting feet to the fire to everyone

to make sure that as part of this crisis, we address the inequities for the

communities - the under resourced communities, mostly black and brown who

are bearing the brunt of the pandemic but who are also have been

systematically treated unjustly in the past.


O`DONNELL: Tom Steyer, as you develop - help, develop California`s guidance

on how to step through the reopening, please come back and join us and lay

out those steps for us as they`re developed because I`m sure you`re going

to discover some things in it that none of us have anticipated and maybe

you know weeks from now, things that you haven`t anticipated as of tonight.


And so I think it`s going to be fascinating to watch the giant state of

California in the reopening because as California goes, so goes the nation.

We`re going to have to watch it closely. Thank you very much for joining us



STEYER: Thank you for having me, Lawrence. Let`s come out of this better

than we went into it.


O`DONNELL: Thank you very much. And when we come back testing, testing,

testing. We`ve all been concentrating on testing, it`s all about testing

but what`s good is testing without effective contact tracing. Immunologist

Dr. James Hildreth will join our discussion next to explain why testing

needs to be backed up by contact tracing and how difficult it is to do an

adequate job of contact tracing in this country. That`s next.






DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, DIRECTOR, CDC: I think contact tracing is critical.

It`s going to be the difference from succeeding and containing this

outbreak from once again - widescale community transmission or not.




O`DONNELL: That was the director of the CDC in Senate testimony yesterday.

Here`s Dr. Tom Inglesby of Johns Hopkins in House testimony today.





Isolation and contact tracing have been crucial for countries that have

gotten the Covid-19 epidemic under comparatively better control.


And identifying those at high risk of getting infected and intervening to

stop that chain of transmission. If we fail to contact trace effectively,

we`ll continue to have new cases appearing in completely unpredictable

ways, numbers and places and our epidemic will grow more quickly.




O`DONNELL: Joining us once again tonight, Dr James Hildreth, the President

and CEO of Meharry Medical College and an infectious disease expert. Dr.

Hildreth, when I hear about contact tracing and - and we keep realizing

that we don`t really have the people to do this. There`s estimates you need

at least 100,000. What it - what in your view do we need for effective

contact tracing and what are the challenges assuming we do have the

personnel to do it.



all Lawrence, thank you for having me again. I`m happy to be with you.

Contact tracing is essential just as all the other guests have said and

it`s going to be challenging in some communities because technology is

going to be important, having smart phones where you can load apps and be

able to contact people that way.


In a lot of communities there`s a technology gap and you won`t be able to

do that so we`re still going to need a small army of individuals to do the

kind of investigation just to track people down and this becomes more

challenging when you have a large group of individuals who been around

someone who`s a positive.


That means the number of individuals that need to be contacted or traced,

it`s going to be really large and as you can see, that presents a lot of

challenges so we`re going to need a small army of contact tracers in this

country to be sure.


O`DONNELL: Doctor, is there a challenge in the American sense of privacy

and people who`ve never really been exposed to questions like this, who

have you seen in the last two weeks? Who have you talked to? Who have you

been close to? That`s going to be an odd experience for a lot of people.


HILDRETH: Yes and we`ve gone through this before because you might recall

that in the earliest days of the HIV epidemic in this country, we have to

identify the sexual contacts of the positive individuals to try to let them

know that they have possibly been exposed to HIV.


And of course when you`re talking about sexual intercourse and things like

that, the privacy becomes even more apparent and even more challenging so

you`re right. There`s going to be an issue with privacy and not wanting to

reveal a lot of information. And that`s going to be one of the problems

with the apps that are being developed where that person might not be able

to know, they`re being traced because you know, the phone data is being

used to do that.


So that`s one of the problems we have to solve, the ethical issues around

contact tracing. But we got to do it because without contact tracing, we`re

not going to put this virus back in the box. We just have to have contact



O`DONNELL: So Doctor, testing without contact tracing, all that ends up

doing is dealing with the person who tested positive but not dealing with

all the all the possible people that that person infected and so the virus

continues to spread without contact tracing.


HILDRETH: Correct. Testing, in and of itself will tell us where the virus

is but our goal is to control the spread of the virus so if you do testing

without the contact tracing, you will know where the virus is but there

will be no way to keep it from spreading.


So you`re absolutely right. Contact tracing goes hand in hand with testing.

For example, smallpox was eradicated by vaccine but people don`t really

understand that contact tracing helped us to eradicate smallpox because

what they did was, they would identify a positive individuals and then

selectively vaccinate the people in that community as a way to keep the

virus from spreading.


And I would argue that when we get a vaccine, we should think about doing

exactly that. Make sure we use the vaccine where it`s most needed.


O`DONNELL: Dr. James Hildreth, thank you very much for joining our session

again, tonight. We really appreciate it.










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