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national emergency TRANSCRIPT: 3/13/20, The 11th Hour w/ Brian Williams

Guests: Kim Schrier, Matt Bradley, Keir Simmons

  ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: Tonight after reports he was reluctant to do so,  President Trump declares the coronavirus pandemic a national emergency.  Meanwhile, he deflects blame for his part in the slow rollout of testing,  "I don`t take responsibility at all.

Plus, the action on Capitol Hill, Speaker Pelosi cuts a late-night deal  with the administration to bolster health, economic, and food security for  the millions of fearful Americans facing a prolonged crisis. This, as  markets gain back a portion of the losses in the coronavirus collapse.

And we are just an hour away from a travel shutdown from most of Europe. We  have reports from overseas wondering if it goes far enough. All of it as  "THE 11TH HOUR" gets under way on this Friday night.

Good evening once again from our NBC News headquarters here in New York.  I`m Ali Velshi in for Brian Williams. It is day 1,149 of the Trump  administration, 235 days to go until the 2020 presidential election.

We end a very difficult week on the verge of a new phase in the effort to  stop the spread of coronavirus as President Trump declares the pandemic a  national emergency and as the House reaches a deal with the White House on  an economic relief package. Donald Trump made his declaration in a Rose  Garden address surrounded by multiple CEOs and senior administration  officials. This marked the first time he`d spoken at length about the virus  as a domestic crisis, as a public health crisis, as opposed to something  beyond our borders that needed to be kept out. It also marked a change in  tone from the Oval Office speech that he gave on Wednesday night.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am officially declaring a  national emergency, two very big words. The action I am taking will open up  access to up to $50 billion of very importantly -- very important and a  large amount of money for states and territories or localities.

In furtherance of the order, I`m urging every state to set up emergency  operation centers effective immediately.

We`ve been working very hard on this. We`ve made tremendous progress.


VELSHI: Wall Street rallied on the news of Trump`s declaration. The Dow  gaining nearly 2,000 points, almost 10 percent, wiping out most of  yesterday`s historic loss. And then less than -- a couple of hours after  that, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that she`d reached a deal with  the Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on a coronavirus response package to  provide paid leave for workers, expand food aid, and widespread free  testing for the illness. It does not include something that the President  had been demanding, and that is a payroll tax cut.

Tonight, Trump sent out this message, "I fully support Families First  Coronavirus Response Act. I encourage all Republicans and Democrats to come  together and vote yes. Look forward to signing the final bill, ASAP."

Late tonight the House leaders from both parties were in agreement about  the importance of the legislation.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): We could have passed our bill yesterday, just our  own bill, which was a great bill and is still a great bill because that`s  what we`re passing today. But we thought it would be important to show the  American people, assure the American people that we are willing and able to  work together to get a job done for them.

So we thank our Republicans, those who will be supporting the bill. We  appreciate the President joining us with his tweet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think Speaker Pelosi handled these negotiations  well from her side?

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Yes, I think at the end of the day, yes. I give  her credit. I give the administration credit. I give everybody involved. We  have a better product today because we waited, we looked at it, and we  worked together.


VELSHI: The number of coronavirus cases in the United States is now more  than 2,000 with 50 deaths. The White House has been taking continued fire  over the nation`s slow rate of coronavirus testing.

This morning, New York`s first coronavirus drive-through testing center  opened in New Rochelle, the Westchester County town with the nation`s  largest cluster of COVID-19 cases.

At the White House, Trump touted efforts to expand such tests while also  fielding questions about his role in the initial response to the outbreak.


TRUMP: We`ve been in discussions with pharmacies and retailers to make  drive-thru tests available.

The goal is for individuals to be able to drive up and be swabbed without  having to leave your car.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dr. Fauci said earlier this week that the lag in  testing was, in fact, a failing. Do you take responsibility for that?

TRUMP: Yes. No, I don`t take responsibility at all.


VELSHI: That was then followed by this question on Trump`s decision to  shrink the White House National Security staff and get rid of an office to  address global pandemics.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR, PBS NEWSHOUR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You said that you  don`t take responsibility, but you did disband the White House pandemic  office and officials that were working in that office left this  administration abruptly. So what responsibility do you take to that, and  the officials that worked in that office said that you -- that the White  House lost valuable time because that office was disbanded, what do you  make of that?

TRUMP: Well, I just think it`s a nasty question.

When you say me, I didn`t do it. We have a group of people. I could ask  perhaps my administration, but I could perhaps ask Tony about that because  I don`t know anything about it. I mean, you say we did that. I don`t know  anything about it.


VELSHI: Now, that would seem to contradict what Trump said nearly a month  ago when he was asked about cuts to federal agencies that were tasked with  responding to public health crises.


TRUMP: Some of the people we cut, they haven`t been used for many, many  years, and if we ever need them, we can get them very quickly. And rather  than spending the money -- and I`m a business person. I don`t like having  thousands of people around when you don`t need them. When we need them, we  can get them back very quickly.


VELSHI: Hopefully. Meanwhile "The Washington Post" reports a second person  who visited President Trump`s private Mar-a-Lago estate last weekend has  tested positive for coronavirus. The first to test positive was the press  secretary to the Brazilian president who was focused with Trump at Mar-a- Lago on Saturday. Today was asked about that interaction.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The person you were standing next to, whether you know  who he is or not, tested positive for coronavirus. Dr. Fauci said this  morning if you stand next to somebody who tested positive, you should self- isolate and get a test. You say your White House doctor is telling you  something different. Who should Americans listen to?

And my second question is --

TRUMP: I think they have to listen to their doctors, and I think they  shouldn`t be jumping to get the test unless it`s necessary. Somebody said  there`s a picture of somebody taking a picture with me, but I haven`t seen  it. But I can tell you --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dr. Fauci said you might have it even if you don`t  have symptoms.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you being selfish by not getting tested and  potentially --

TRUMP: Well, I didn`t say I wasn`t going to be tested.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you going to be?

TRUMP: Most likely, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When do you think that will happen?

TRUMP: Most likely -- not for that reason, but because I think I will do it  anyway.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will you let us know your results?

TRUMP: Fairly soon. We`re working on that. We`re working out a schedule.


VELSHI: All right, today Miami Mayor Frances Suarez announced that he too  has tested positive for COVID-19 after meeting with that same Brazilian  delegation at Mar-a-Lago this weekend. Suarez is now currently quarantined  at home.

The coronavirus is affecting the political life of the nation in other ways  as well. Louisiana is the first state to postpone its presidential  primaries because of the coronavirus outbreak. It will push back its  residential nominating contest to June 20th from the original date of April  4th. Election officials in Arizona, Illinois, and Ohio, all of which hold  primaries this Tuesday, issued a statement today saying the polls will be  open, and they are taking precautions to protect voters. And in Wyoming,  its Democratic Party canceled the in-person portion of its upcoming caucus.

One universal sign that the virus has upended the daily life of the nation,  the millions of kids who will be out of school as the week begins on  Monday.

We`ll get to our leadoff discussion in just a moment. But first I`m joined  from Capitol Hill by Congresswoman Kim Schrier, a Democrat of Washington  State who is a pediatrician and a member of the House Education and Labor  Committees. Congresswoman, thank you for being with us this evening.

REP. KIM SCHRIER (D-WA): Thank you, Ali. It`s going to be here.

VELSHI: What is you -- a number of things have developed today. The first  thing I want to ask you about is the President`s declaration of an  emergency, an actual emergency with respect to this. Do you think the tone  coming from the White House has changed to your satisfaction?

SCHRIER: Well, first of all, let me just say that this was the first time I  really got the impression that our President understood the gravity of the  situation we`re in, and I felt that he was moving us forward.

I`m very happy that we have this now as a national emergency. Our state has  needed this for a couple of weeks. It will open up resources so that we  have money to help with testing, with people, with being able to even set  up testing areas that are outside of hospitals. And it will relax some of  the regulations that have really kind of tied our hands behind our backs.

VELSHI: All right. And then the other thing that`s happened is where you  are, at Congress, where there has been agreement that Speaker Pelosi was  working with the Treasury Secretary, Mnuchin, which is interesting because  they seem to have been having a parallel track while the President still  wasn`t coming to terms with this. But they came to an arrangement. It was  then worked out with Republican leadership. That`s a separate set of  initiatives. Tell me how that is going to help Americans.

SCHRIER: Well, this is so important. First I just want to say it is really  nice to see that we can come together, Democrats, Republicans, and our  President and get things done on behalf of the American people. This is so  important.

Diseases spread, and they spread quickly, and we`re seeing that this one  spreads even before people have symptoms. And so we`re really asking  extraordinary things from our citizens. We`re asking people to stay home  from work when they might normally not.

We`re asking them to quarantine for 14 days after exposure. We`re asking  them to have their children at home and closing schools. And if we`re going  to make those asks, we need to make sure that we give people the resources  to do it, that we have extended sick leave, that we have paid family leave.

And even that we make the testing free, which was my part of this bill, it  is so important that there`s really no barriers to doing the right thing to  protect our communities.

VELSHI: Congresswoman, for all the questions you get as a member of  Congress, you probably get more from people about the fact that you`re a  doctor. You`re a pediatrician. And I have to say before I say goodbye to  you, I want to ask you as a doctor, what do you think we should all be  thinking and doing?

SCHRIER: Well, I think this really goes back to the basics. We live in this  era of everything fancy and new and technology, and really this comes down  to what I do in my clinic every day. You know, kids are germy, and I touch  a lot of germs, but if you wash your hands, if you don`t touch your face,  if you cover your coughs and your sneezes with the inside of your elbow,  that will go a long way.

And of course if you are ill, you should stay home. There is absolutely no  sense in exposing other people and making this pandemic even worse than it  already is.

VELSHI: Well, your bill goes some distance to allowing some Americans for  whom that was not an option, missing work and staying home and to becoming  a bit of a reality.

Congresswoman, Kim Schrier, thank you for your time. Thank you to those of  you in Congress who came together to get this bill done.

SCHRIER: Thank you.

VELSHI: Here for our leadoff discussion on a Friday night, Annie Karni,  White House Reporter with the "New York Times," Jonathan Allen, Senior and  Political Analyst for NBC News, and Frank Figliuzzi, former FBI Assistant  Director for Counterintelligence and an MSNBC National Security Analyst.  Welcome to all of you.

Annie, I`m going to start with you. The concept that this is a national  emergency, I`ve been reminding people that we`ve had a national emergency  declared about the stuff on the southern border that a lot of Americans  don`t think is actually a national emergency. But the President had real  reluctance to declaring this a national emergency. What tipped the scales?  Was it the Oval Office address that led to a market meltdown?

ANNIE KARNI, THE NEW YORK TIMES WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes. Well this --  today`s press conference in the Rose Garden was kind of seen as an  opportunity for him to do a do-over of the Oval Office address where that  was widely seen and the market reacted to as a giant failure of leadership.  So this was -- his aides came to him and said, like, let`s try something  else. So he was convinced to do this because the Oval Office address didn`t  have the impact that he expected it to.

Overall we`ve seen the President kind of moving slowly to a full  realization that this is not just something that needs to be contained from  the outside and to closing the borders, but this is something that is  already inside of our country, and this was the first time he really  addressed the situation, the health crisis that`s going on within our  borders.

It has taken him a long time to get there.


KARNI: And he started from a place of kind of hoping it would just going  away. Wishful thinking that it would be gone by April. Now he seems to  understand that that is not the case.

VELSHI: Jon, I`m not sure I`d call it full-throated and robust, but  compared to what happened in the Oval Office the other day, it was quite a  development. Again, the President continues to feel like a bit of a  reluctant participant in this whole thing. He seems to struggle with his  written words that he reads on the whole thing.

He surrounded himself with a bunch of CEOs, but it did send a signal to the  world that I`ve got some other people in this -- involved in this thing. I  now understand that the measurement is not the stock market. It is  something else, and I need to take this seriously. How convinced are you  that we are now on the right track?

JONATHAN ALLEN, NBC NEWS NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, he`s at least  now listening to Vice President Mike Pence and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin  and Speaker Pelosi and Tony Fauci at the Institute on Allergies and  Infectious Diseases. That is to say he`s listening to the people who have  been telling him that this is a crisis that he needs to address, that it`s  one that needs a federal response, that it`s one that needs money, that  it`s one that needs money not only to businesses but to protect the  American people not only on a health level but also on an economic scale,  that people need, you know, family and medical leave, that states are going  to need waivers to be able to get people who, you know, have work  requirements for food stamp benefits to be able to get those.

So, the President is obviously taking this seriously at a very different  level than he was before. And what basically got -- what happened over the  course of the last couple days is his political standing got taken out from  underneath him by Mnuchin and Pelosi who negotiated a deal. We saw  yesterday McConnell and McCarthy bashing Pelosi, and then within a matter  of a couple of hours, they were praising her for working with Mnuchin. So  once the deal got struck, they moved forward on that, and the President  declared a national emergency, and everybody was holding hands today.

VELSHI: It is kind of amazing because it`s a story that was sort of buried  on the side. Somebody even asked me last night why are you guys not  covering the negotiations going on at Congress? But Nancy Pelosi and Steve  Mnuchin got together. They did something. They led the two parties forward,  and we actually have progress on this.

Frank, you`re the only one on this panel who has executive experience. You  ran things for people. The thing that struck me -- and I wasn`t looking for  things to go wrong today because I really wanted this to be successful. The  President, when asked, did say I don`t take responsibility for anything.

FRANK FIGLIUZZI, FMR. FBI ASSIST. DIRECTOR FOR COUNTERINTELLIGENCE: Let`s  talk about that from a leadership perspective because I do look at this not  only through a national security lens but through crisis management and  leadership.

VELSHI: Correct.

FIGLIUZZI: And thus far what we`ve seen from him is violating most of the  basic tenets of crisis management rules. Number one, this isn`t rocket  science. You need to tell people, I`m always going to tell you the truth  even when it`s unpleasant. Number two, I`m going to have to make some hard  decisions and I need everybody to pull together and implement them. Number  three, I don`t have all the answers but I`m going to rely on experts to  help shape our decision-making.

We`ve seen almost none of that until a sign of bright sunlight today when  he changed his metric for success, as you said, from how Wall Street is  doing to how people`s health is doing and how we contain and mitigate the  virus. So we`ve seen some signs of development.

VELSHI: Right.

FIGLIUZZI: We should applaud a small victory in this legislation passing.  That`s the right thing to happen. But we`re still very concerned from a  leadership perspective that he seems unable to pull the trigger and admit,  I`m accountable. I own this. And when you don`t do that as a leader, you  don`t establish credibility.

VELSHI: It felt a little like trying to find somebody to throw under the  bus. He was sort of casting about it. He looked at Anthony Fauci and said,  what do you know about this?

You know, one of the interesting things here is that unlike the financial  crisis of 2008-2009, which was a financial crisis that could be helped with  financial tools, this, like national security crisis, the national security  problem has to be solved, this is a public health crisis. That today,  seemed the first time that he was taking that seriously, that I got to fix  this. The markets will follow if I this.

FIGLIUZZI: He seems to have finally figured out that if you solve for the  health part of this, the economy will follow. He had this backwards from  the start.

VELSHI: Annie Karni, one of the things that people who have been reaching  out to us and talking to us are worried about is the way life is changing  and the way it will change, right? The most -- the thing that shakes people  the most is they don`t know what it looks like. Their kids are staying home  from school. Kids are coming back from college. Events are closed. People  are overstocking on food and goods.

The President has not gotten to that point yet. He is not coming out and  saying, we will be together, we will figure this out. The guidelines are  not coming out yet from the President or from the administration about what  sort of events to cancel and what sort of events to hold. We`re not there  yet.

KARNI: No. We`ve -- I mean he`s really left those kind of decisions to the  states. Governors have been deciding to shut their schools, not with  federal guidelines. And he was last to pull down his campaign rallies.

The Trump campaign has postponed all gatherings, but they were kind of  slower to do it, and they were maintaining a everything is business as  usual posture. Like until a few days ago, until yesterday that they really  announce all campaign rallies are off the books for now.

Just as recently as 48 hours ago, the President blurted out that he was  hoping to still hold a rally in Florida, one that hadn`t yet been announced  at the end of this month. So he has been slow to realize that, you know, he  thrives on crowds. This is what energized his base. He`s very aware this is  a re-election year, and he`s very frustrated that this is -- understanding  that this could really hurt him electorally. So he`s been not leading the  charge on putting down -- pulling down group gatherings certainly.

And for instance the Trump campaign said they`re cleaning their offices and  told people not to come to work until Tuesday. That`s not a very long time  compared to a lot of indefinite work stoppages that people have.

VELSHI: No pleasure two weeks or month.


FIGLIUZZI: Frank, every president gets challenged by something. Sometimes  it`s national security, sometimes it`s mass shootings, sometimes it`s 9/11,  sometimes it`s a recession. This has actually been this President`s biggest  opportunity to step up, and there`s been a very, very delayed reaction,  which makes those of you who are involved in national security gives you  some pause.

FIGLIUZZI: Well, those of us in national security have had pause --


FIGLIUZZI: -- now because of his decision making in those direct fields of  national security. But what we`re seeing is appears to be an inability to  make the tough leadership decisions.

Let`s just talk about modeling behavior. He`s vacillating on whether to get  a test or not. He needs to get a test. He`s vacillating on having rallies  or not. He should cancel rallies if we`re canceling basketball games.

So we`re not seeing the leadership being modeled. From a national security  perspective, we`re beginning to see police departments, fire departments  unable to staff shifts because people are coming down with COVID-19. Troops  are being affected. It`s a national security issue. The question for this  president, can he be commander-in-chief during a health care crisis that  affects security?

VELSHI: Jon Allen, the United States Senate is the place where bills go to  die. Any problem with this bill that passed tonight through the Senate?

ALLEN: I`d be shocked after President Trump said that he`s a 100 percent  behind it and that it should pass ASAP if there is any problem there.  Obviously, senators have the ability when they want to be thorns in the  side of progress or process. The Senate has left town, but usually they`re  able to get something done by unanimous consent if they need to pretty  quickly.

VELSHI: Thanks to the three of you, Annie Karni, Jon Allen, and Frank  Figliuzzi, I thank you for helping us kick off this Friday night.

Coming up, drive-thru testing lines and hospital bed shortages. We`re going  to talk to a doctor who worked in both the Obama and Trump administrations  as a Cabinet Secretary about what is going to happen next.

And later, we`re just mere moments away from the European travel  restrictions going into effect. We`ll explain what that means both here and  across the Atlantic. "THE 11TH HOUR just" getting started on a Friday  night.



TRUMP: We want to make sure that those who need a test can get a test very  safely, quickly, and conveniently, but we don`t want people to take a test  if we feel that they shouldn`t be doing it. And we don`t want everyone  running out and taking it, only if you have certain symptoms.


VELSHI: A testing is still a major -- probably the major obstacle to  containing the coronavirus. State and local officials are taking their own  measures to fill the gap including some drive-through testing stations like  one that opened in New Rochelle, New York, today.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): I spoke with the Vice President today, and I  spoke with the President, and they are authorizing New York State to do the  testing and allowing our labs to do the test, and allowing the State Health  Department to set up the protocol.


VELSHI: Here with us tonight, Dr. David Shulkin. He served as the ninth  Secretary of Veteran Affairs under the current president. Before leading  the agency, he served as the Undersecretary of Health, supervising of  health, supervising its nationwide health care service for veterans. He  also served in medical leadership roles with multiple universities. He`s  the author of a book "It Shouldn`t Be This Hard To Serve Your Country."  Thank you for being with us again.

You are a medical doctor. I never know what to call you. You`re a former  Cabinet Secretary, you`re a medical doctor, and you ran a hospital group.


VELSHI: So this is all stuff that fits into your world. There is something  that we`re discussing called the infection curve, I believe it`s called.  It`s the idea that if we did nothing, the infections could peak, and they  will exceed the dotted line that goes horizontally through that, which is  our capability, our health care capability. If we do certain things, the  same number of people might get sick, but it will be within the  capabilities of our health care system. Tell me a little about this.

SHULKIN: Well, that`s right. Just following the epidemiologic data of this  infection, if we do nothing, without interventions, the number of cases is  going to double every six days. And if you just follow the math, and again  without intervention, we would overcome the supply of hospital beds in the  United States needed by about mid-May. And so we certainly don`t want to  see that happen. We want to do everything we can to assure that as few  people get infected and that we use our resources as wisely as possible.

VELSHI: And just to play that out for people who are not worried about this  that when we exceed our available hospital beds, and Dr. Irwin Redlener  last night said, we may by 70,000 or 100,000 beds, that means people don`t  get the same care that they otherwise would in a hospital because you`re  starting to come up with makeshift hospitals and facilities. And people who  have nothing to do with COVID-19 but need a hospital bed may not find one  available because hospitals are full.

SHULKIN: Well, this infection is clearly affecting lots of people in the  way that they get their health care. Hospital leaders across the country  are doing remarkable jobs of putting together emergency preparedness plans,  including delaying of elective surgeries, keeping people that normally  would be in the hospital, sending them home, so that they can make the  scarce resources needed available. And we are seeing unfortunately some  people delaying necessary care, like chemotherapy and other treatments  because they`re concerned about going into hospitals now. So this is very  important, the public health issues that we`re facing right now are  probably unprecedented for many people. They`ve not seen that.

VELSHI: Let`s examine that because if you have a -- you`re getting  chemotherapy, you`re immunosuppressed. Lot of people are immunosuppressed.  So they can`t be around people in which case they will get some kind of  infection that the body can`t fight off. So there are a whole bunch of  people who say, I`m young, this doesn`t seem to be killing a lot of people.  I`m not going to necessarily take the precautions necessary. But if you`re  a carrier, you could end up killing people.

SHULKIN: I think that`s right. I think we`re seeing the interconnectedness  of our societies, how one person really does impact another person. And you  can`t escape that. And so if you`re not rational, if you`re not doing the  right things as an individual, you can have a big impact not only on  somebody else but on the entire community.

VELSHI: One point you and I made -- you made to me the last time we talked,  is that there is a silver lining here, the Department of Veterans Affairs  is a very capable organization that actually has a lot of capacity.

SHULKIN: Yes. The Department of Veteran Affairs is the largest health care  system in the country. It employs the most nurses, doctors, has 1000  negative pressure rooms, which is the type of room that we need to treat  these infections safely, and has the ability under title 38 should a  national emergency be declared like the President has to be able to  actually reach out and work with the private sector and the civilian  community. So what we need to see now is more public/private partnerships,  the type that the President was demonstrating today in the Rose Garden.

VELSHI: We know those pharmacies and those companies and --

SHULKIN: Absolutely. We need to engage our private sector to be able to  help work, and we need the federal government --


SHULKIN: -- to help contribute --

VELSHI: So I had some people tweeting me saying, isn`t this a private  takeover to profit off of coronavirus? But actually the private sector  builds -- brings real capacity that it would take a while for government to  build. 

SHULKIN: It brings expertise. It can move quickly. And in times of crisis,  we see the American people coming together. We actually had Republicans and  Democrats today agreeing on the right thing. So I`m hopeful this is a time  for our country to pull together, to put aside all of the pettiness that  we`ve seen for so many years and actually do the right thing to keep the  American people secure.

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: David Shulkin, good to see you again. Thank you for  joining us. David Shulkin, former Secretary of Veteran Affairs under the  Trump administration.

Coming up, what the Trump administration learned about combating the  coronavirus through secondhand recommendations from a Facebook group. More  on that when THE 11TH HOUR continues.



ARNE DUNCAN, FMR. EDUCATION SECRETARY: It`s almost inevitable, I think,  that the vast majority if not all schools in all states will close. Those  that haven`t should be preparing to take those steps. We have to think  about families, and we really need employers to think about letting parents  stay home to care for those kids.

And then finally the issue of food is a really big one. We have about 30  million children around the United States who rely on schools to get their  food. We can think about this differently. Think of schools, not just as  school buildings but as food distribution centers.


VELSHI: That was former Education Secretary Arne Duncan speaking about the  very real ripple effect of the coronavirus on some of the most vulnerable  Americans. Today`s decision to declare the virus a national emergency will  free up tens of billions of dollars in federal emergency management agency  funds to soften the blows in communities across the country.

However, as POLITICO reported this week, President Trump was reluctant to  declare a national emergency in part for this reason. "Trump`s aides will  not give the President a final verdict until Jared Kushner, Trump`s son-in- law and senior adviser, talks to relevant parties and presents his findings  to the President." Today we learned that Kushner reached out to his  brother`s wife`s father, who is a doctor, and who subsequently took the  issue to a Facebook group.

Here with us, Anita Kumar, White House Correspondent and Associate Editor  for POLITICO. Look, anybody who`s following Jared Kushner`s deal of the  century in the Middle East, not sure that Jared Kushner should be running  this response. But this seems to be a habit of the President`s. Give it to  Jared Kushner. Jared Kushner, when he needed to figure out about China,  googled and found Peter Navarro, who is not really an economist, to run  their china policy. This is not the first time this has happened with Jared  Kushner.

ANITA KUMAR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO: No. I mean, remember,  Jared Kushner is a senior adviser to the President, which means he can have  his hands in anything and everything, and he has been there and is there  when the President needs some advice and assistance and people to go out  there and talk to people. I mean, that is one of the things that Jared  Kushner does, is he talks to a lot of people, a lot of stakeholders on  various issues that he`s been put in charge of.

I`ve had a number of people this week who tell me that he is in charge. You  mention that Facebook post of his brother`s father-in-law -- his brother`s  father-in-law also said, I know the person who`s in charge of this at the  White House. So, I mean, the President very much relies on him.

VELSHI: But this method has gotten this White House into trouble in the  past. And at some point, we do have a nation full of public health experts  who the President can be relying on and today seemed there`s some  indication that pressure had built on the President, that he had to go  forward and deliver a press conference that was based on public health  evidence rather than whatever he did in the Oval Office when you and I last  talked on Wednesday night.

KUMAR: Yes. I mean, really we -- you know, earlier this week, we were  hearing that the President, as you just indicated, would not do this  emergency declaration. But it was very clear on Wednesday after that  address was, you know, criticized that it didn`t go far enough, that he,  you know, didn`t -- he said inaccurate information, that he needed  something new. He needed to take a new tact, and he needed to be much more  forceful. And so, you know, he had people advising him to take some bold  action, and I think that he was looking at the markets, looking at what  people were saying and really felt like he needed to do that.

VELSHI: The President said in response to a couple of direct questions  today, that he doesn`t take responsibility for changes that were made at  the White House with respect to a national security group that looked into  pandemics. He does in his speeches, both in the Oval Office on Wednesday  night and tonight -- this afternoon at the Rose Garden, he does take some  credit. He does believe that both the early closing of entry to some people  around the world and then this new measure that goes into effect in half an  hour, barring some people from Europe from coming over -- he does think  that`s a big deal. Public health experts don`t seem to line up on that.

KUMAR: Yes, you`re exactly right. There are a lot of people saying  particularly the thing about Europe today, that that`s just come too late.  It`s just too late for that to be effective. Also even though he didn`t  mention this on Wednesday as you and I both know, there are a lot of  exceptions to that. So some people can`t come into this country, but some  people can from the very same places. And so that`s why people are saying,  you know, this isn`t effective, and he needed to take another action, and  we saw that today.

VELSHI: Anita, does it look like the response -- and I want to remind,  people we first heard about this in December. We first had the -- the first  case was reported at the end of January. But this really became big in the  last month or so. It has been a month of knowing coronavirus is around and  a foot-dragging, reluctant response from the White House.

Wednesday`s Oval Office remarks looked like they were almost forced from  the President. He didn`t seem to be able to deliver it comfortably. Do you  think something has changed today? Have we changed in our response to this  in a way that might be meaningful in the effort to fight coronavirus?

KUMAR: I do think that there was a realization by the President that he  needed to do more. A lot of people are telling him that. I mean, just by  the fact that -- I mean, America is shutting down. Schools and businesses,  his own campaign rallies, and there was a feeling that you need to do  something and get out there and do something.

Now, remember, the President is very focused on the economy, and so he`s  been watching the stock market all week, for the last few weeks, and he  really felt like that he needed to do something. Remember, it wasn`t doing  well on Wednesday after that address. So, you know, he wanted to take  something on, and we immediately saw the stock market rebound at least  initially.

So, there is a feeling that something has changed. Now, we need to see the  follow-through on that, right? Are all those things that he said he was  going to do today, are they going to happen? Where is that money going to  be spent? How is it going to be spent? There`s still a lot of testing that  needs to be done. And so, he said those things. Now we need to see what  happens with that.

VELSHI: Anita, good to see you again. Thank you. Anita Kumar.

KUMAR: Sure.

VELSHI: All right, coming up, what to expect when you`re expecting during a  global pandemic. A doctor joins us with the answers when "THE 11TH HOUR"  continues.


VELSHI: Among the many unknowns about COVID-19, what exactly are the risks  to pregnant women? Are they more vulnerable to getting the virus? If  infected, are they likely to experience more severe symptoms, and is there  a threat of transmission to the fetus? So far, studies suggest expectant  mothers are not more vulnerable to severe symptoms than the general public.

With us to talk about it is Dr. Kavita Patel, she served as a senior aide  to Valerie Jarrett in the Obama White House advising on health reform,  financial regulatory reform and economic recovery issues. She`s also a  practicing primary care internist at Johns Hopkins and a non-resident  fellow at the Brooking Institution. Kavita, thank you for joining me. Good  to see you again.

This is -- there are obviously all sorts of groups we`re talking about who  feel and may actually be more vulnerable than the general population  because of coronavirus. What do we know about pregnant women?

DR. KAVITA PATEL, FMR. AIDE TO VALERIE JARRETT IN THE OBAMA WHITE HOUSE:  Right. So as you mentioned, there is -- first of all, Ali, there is not a  lot of information just because this is, again, a novel virus. So what we  do know, and a lot of it is kind of emerging as we`re getting more and more  data from all of the countries starting with China, is that there`s no  greater risk for getting the virus.

Now, a different question, though, is that if you are pregnant and you do  get infected with COVID-19, then what does that mean for your baby, which I  think is probably what every pregnant woman in the country is wondering.  And we do know, again, very limited data, so it`s hard to make  generalizations. But we do know that for the cases, for example, nine cases  in China that have been incredibly kind of detailed in the lancet journal,  we do know those women presented in their third trimester, contracted the  virus in their third trimester, and all had a form of pneumonia that we  think played some role in fetal distress, leading to c-sections and  ultimately kind of -- all the babies did fine by the way.

VELSHI: Right.

PATEL: Nine births. But ultimately led to kind of what we would call kind  of complications -- 

VELSHI: Right.

PATEL: -- in the delivery. So that`s real.

VELSHI: Unlike the flu where infants who do -- infants and children, young  people who do not have well-developed immune systems tend to be more  susceptible, that has so far not borne out in COVID-19.

PATEL: Right. And this is kind of -- you know, I hate to say there`s  something that`s always kind of interesting about these novel viruses or if  you want to call it the silver lining. In that sense, it`s the children,  not only infants, newborns, all the way up to at least age 14 have  incredible kind of resilience and are just not getting infected.

Having said that, again, there are children that have been infected. All of  them with the exception of one case have all recovered fully. So we`re  trying to understand what is it about children that confers some sort of  protection, again, mostly in their lungs and pulmonary system.

VELSHI: What would you recommend because, again, the one thing I`m not  clear on and I`ve been reporting on this for a month and probably for two  weeks nonstop, at what point -- particularly if you`re pregnant because you  go through different ways in how you feel -- at what point are you supposed  to say to somebody when you`re pregnant, I think I might have a problem  here, I need to get checked out?

PATEL: Yes, absolutely. I mean, trust me, I`m a mom, and there`s no kind of  time of more heightened anxiety -- 

VELSHI: Right.

PATEL: -- than when you think something is wrong, and if you don`t do  something, you can harm your baby. So, I fully -- actually fully recommend  that you incredible low threshold to reach out to your O.B.`s office. The  American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology in -- literally, almost daily  is kind of providing updates and guidance for obstetricians on what they  should be doing.

I think the next natural question is, when do you kind of need to worry  about presenting to the office or kind of going to the doctor in person,  and what do you do when you get to the doctor? And I think every one of  your experts tonight have said it. You know, be sensible, use precautions.  But if you`re pregnant and something doesn`t feel right, speak up early.

But know, Ali, that we do not think that you`re at higher risk for getting  the virus. So it`s really a matter of, do you think you actually have  COVID-19, and should you be getting tested? And that`s the question a lot  of pregnant women will be asking.

VELSHI: There`s just a lot of anxiety out there for people about what this  is going to do to them and how to think about it and what to measure and  what to think about. When you get a little cough or you sneeze a couple  times and everybody is worried about it, there are heightened anxieties all  around.

Kavita, thank you for joining me. Dr. Kavita Patel.

For more answers to your coronavirus questions, our special team of experts  will be here to answer them tomorrow at both 8:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.  Eastern. You can tweet your questions to us. Make sure to use the  #MSNBCanswers.

Still coming up tonight, late-night reports about the big changes coming up  at the top of the hour when "THE 11TH HOUR" continues.


VELSHI: We`re just minutes away from new travel restrictions going into  effect with most countries in Europe for the next 30 days. However, there  are multiple exceptions, most notably for U.S. citizens and lawful  permanent residents and their families who can come to America as they  please. Italy`s nationwide lockdown continues as the death toll climbed  above 1,000, growing by 250 in a 24-hour period.

In Rome, NBC News Foreign Correspondent Matt Bradley reports on the  situation there.

MATT BRADLEY, FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT, NBC NEWS: Yes, Ali, that travel ban  tonight is going to strike a lot of Europeans as deeply unfair, especially  on the diplomatic and political level, but also just ordinary people,  especially because of that double standard. American citizens in Europe  will be allowed to travel back to the states. It`s not very scientific  considering that Americans like me, like my colleagues, we`re just as  capable of carrying the virus back to the United States. So a good-faith,  effort would exclude American citizens abroad. This kind of -- will strike  a lot of people here, again, especially on the political level, as really  just kind of settling political or diplomatic scores rather than a real  effort to try to prevent the virus from reaching the U.S., where it already  is.

And for Italians, they understand very well that having any amount of virus  in a country could also cause it to mushroom out regardless of who enters  or exits that country. Here in Italy, there were very few cases only a  couple of weeks ago. There wasn`t really a coronavirus problem, and it just  ballooned up into a major issue, and now Italy has the highest number of  caseloads and deaths from the coronavirus after China.

We just saw today 25 percent increase in the number of deaths. That was an  unprecedented figure and this despite an unprecedented nationwide lockdown  that`s seen this country of 60 million people being told to stay indoors.  And that`s what`s turned Rome around me on a Friday night into a ghost  town. Ali?

VELSHI: Matt Bradley for us in Rome.

Now over to one of the countries not yet affected by the ban, the United  Kingdom. NBC Senior International Correspondent Keir Simmons reports from  the tarmac at Heathrow Airport. Keir?

KEIR SIMMONS, SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, NBC NEWS: Ali, President  Trump`s travel ban not having any visible effect here at Europe`s busiest  airport, Heathrow in London. But it will affect European citizens from 26  countries. They will not be able to travel to the U.S. for 30 days, and the  President today suggesting that the U.K. here could be added to that list,  to that travel ban list as infections here rise.

The President also trying to clear up some confusion. There has been a lot  of confusion saying that U.S. citizens heading back to the United States  will be tested and will be expected to self-isolate.

We spoke to one Californian couple who rushed from Portugal fearing that  they would not be able to get home. They`ve been here in London, holed up  in a hotel on hold with their airline, expecting now to travel back to the  United States tomorrow. But they don`t know what to expect. And, again, the  issue is that on top of the fear and concern about coronavirus, many  Americans who were here in Europe for a dream vacation now facing a  nightmare of confusion and concern. Many just wanting to get home, Ali?

VELSHI: Keir Simmons at Heathrow Airport in London. Thank you.

Coming up, an important lesson from today`s White House press conference on  the coronavirus pandemic and a reminder to do as they say, not as they do.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m a person that was never  big on a hand-shaking deal. Throughout my life, they used to criticize me  for it or laugh about it or have fun with it.


VELSHI: The last thing before we go tonight, that was President Trump  touring the CDC one week ago, taking questions about something you see the  President do often, shaking hands. In fact, Trump`s hand-shakes with world  leaders during his presidency, especially with French President Emmanuel  Macron, have been the source of their own headlines.

But during this pandemic, we`ve heard it over and over and over again along  with the advice of frequent hand-washing and not touching your face. Health  experts have been clear. Hand-shaking should be avoided. But today in the  Rose Garden, it was a case of do as we say, not as we do.


TRUMP: We must take all precautions and be responsible for the actions that  we take. Appreciate it very much. Thank you, Brian. Thank you, please.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So wash your hands. Use  common sense.


TRUMP: Thank you very much. Great job. Thank you very much. Thank you very  much.

ALEX AZAR, HHS SECRETARY: You want to wash your hands. You want to keep  distance from people.

TRUMP: Great job. Thank you very much. Thank you very much.


TRUMP: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Thank you, Mr. President.

TRUMP: We want to prevent the spread and transmission of the disease.


TRUMP: OK, I like that. A lot of it`s common sense.


VELSHI: The President is right about one thing, a lot of is common sense.

That`s our broadcast for tonight. Brian will be back on Monday. You can  join me again tomorrow morning at 8:00 a.m. Eastern here on MSNBC. Thank  you for being with us and good night from NBC News headquarters in New  York.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY  BE UPDATED.                                                                           END