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DOW drops TRANSCRIPT: 3/16/20, The 11th Hour w/ Brian Williams

Guests: Jonathan Lemire, Amesh Adalja, Andy Slavitt

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Dr. Vin Gupta, thank you very much for  joining us again tonight, we really appreciate it.

GUPTA: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: That it tonight`s LAST WORD. "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams  starts now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening once again. Day 1,152 of  this Trump administration, 232 days until our presidential election. And  look at that Times Square in New York, a ghost town tonight, almost devoid  of people and vehicles.

Since last we spoke, our nation has changed, not everywhere but in some  places, like the one you just saw. Life outside the home or apartment has  virtually shut down. Schools and businesses are closed, and the social  fabric has been badly frayed.

Some people`s jobs are disappearing before our very eyes. The President  gave himself a 10 today in terms of the response thus far. The truth is we  are badly behind, of course. We`re not ready for the worst of it, not even  close. And the best-case scenario is since we have no idea what we`re  preparing for it won`t be as bad perhaps as the most dire predictions.

Tonight there are over 4,400 confirmed cases within the United States.  That`s a jump of about 1,000 give or take in just the space of today. Over  80 people have now died from it.

We have no idea how many Americans would test positive even if they could  get tested, and for millions that`s still a far off fantasy. The alarm over  the pace of infection brought much of the nation to a halt just today,  emptying normally teeming streets in our cities and forcing officials to  shut down restaurants and bars and gyms and movie theaters.

Some 35 states have already declared formal emergencies. About the same  number have closed their schools, moves that leave some 30 million students  out of the classroom.

Officials in the bay area have just laid down the most extreme measures  thus far. Seven million residents have been ordered to shelter in place,  stay home, avoid other people for the next three weeks. This comes as  President Trump suggested new rules of behavior for all of us during  today`s briefing at the White House.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We`re announcing new  guidelines for every American to follow over the next  15 days.

My administration is recommending that all Americans, including the young  and healthy, work to engage in schooling from home when possible. Avoid  gathering in groups of more than 10 people. Avoid discretionary travel. And  avoid eating and drinking at bars, restaurants, and public food courts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have any kind of estimate that if Americans  really were to band together and do what the White House is suggesting, how  quickly you could turn this corner?

TRUMP: People are talking about July, August, something like that. So it  could be right in that period of time where it -- I say it washes through.  Other people don`t like that term, but where it washes through.


WILLIAMS: Dr. Anthony Fauci of the CDC was willing to go a bit further.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NAT`L INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: When  you`re dealing with an emerging infectious diseases outbreak, you are  always behind where you think you are if you think that today reflects  where you really are.

We hope that the people of the United States will take them very seriously  because they will fail if people don`t adhere to them.


WILLIAMS: This was a historically bad day for the Dow. Stocks plunged  almost 3,000 points, nearly 13 percent. The one-day crash came even after  the Federal Reserve took action on Sunday, cutting interest rates for the  second time this month. They`re now down to about zero.

At the White House Trump was asked about the state of the U.S. economy.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is the U.S. economy heading into a recession?

TRUMP: Well, it may be. We`re not thinking in terms of recession. We`re  thinking in terms of the virus.

Once this goes away, once it goes through and we`re done with it, I think  you`re going to see a tremendous, a tremendous surge.


WILLIAMS: Meantime, Washington is waiting for the Senate to react to the  coronavirus bill that was passed by the House early on Saturday. That is  when the senators get back tomorrow morning from their long weekend. In the  meantime, state and local officials are being forced to act, and that often  means acting against the White House.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO, (D) NEW YORK: This is a national problem, and we need  federal leadership. You look at the countries who have handled this. I  don`t care if it`s China, South Korea, if it`s Italy. They were all handled  by national leadership. This is a national problem.


WILLIAMS: "The New York Times" reports that on a conference call with the  state governors today, Trump told them they would have to try to get some  life saving medical equipment on their own, "Respirators, ventilators, all  of the equipment, try getting it yourselves," Mr. Trump told the governors  during the conference call, a recording of which was shared with "The New  York Times." "We will be backing you, but try getting it yourselves. Point  of sales, much better, much more direct if you can get it yourself." The  President did not deny that report and further elaborated.


TRUMP: We have stockpiles now where we`re ordering tremendous numbers of  ventilators, respirators, masks, and they`re ordered, and they`re coming,  and we have quite a few at this point. If they can get them directly, it`s  always going to be faster if they can get them directly if they need them.  And I`ve given them authorization to order directly.


WILLIAMS: And amid all of this, by this time tomorrow night, there will be  big political news. Tomorrow four states are scheduled to hold presidential  primaries, Arizona, Florida, Illinois, and Ohio. But because of a late  decision tonight, it looks like Ohio is going to kick the can down the road  and hold their primary election during the first week in June.

The other states all say they plan to go ahead with their elections. They  say they`re taking precautions to protect voters and poll workers.

Back at the White House, here is how the President rated his own response.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The other day you said that you were not responsible for  the testing shortfall. Very simple question, does the buck stop with you?  And on a scale of one to 10, how would you rate your response to this  crisis?

TRUMP: I`d rate it a 10. I think we`ve got a done a great job. I would rate  ourselves and the professionals. I think the professionals have done a  fantastic job.


WILLIAMS: Here for our leadoff discussion on a Monday night, Jonathan  Lemire, White House reporter for the Associated Press, Dr. Amesh Adalja,  he`s an expert on emergency medicine and infectious diseases, also happens  to be a senior scholar with the Center for Health Security at Johns Hopkins  Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Stephanie Ruhle, veteran of the  investment banking and business worlds, the host of our 9:00 a.m. hour each  day on this network. And she also happens to be our NBC News senior  Business Correspondent.

Mr. Lemire, because it`s your beat, I`d like to begin with you. Yesterday  the President said the White House had tremendous control over this  situation. Today he admitted it`s not under control. What changed?

IJONATHAN LEMIRE, ASSOCIATED PRESS WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: t was a remarkable  shift in tone from the President today. He was far more somber and  seemingly clear-eyed about this crisis and what needs to be done.

Now, let`s be clear. There have been other moments where this President has  adopted a more serious tone, and it was gone by the next morning`s tweet.  So we shouldn`t suggest this is a permanent sea change from him, but it was  very striking how different it was from the weekend.

And -- well, let`s be clear. What he and the guidelines that were presented  today from the podium there in the White House briefing room would  temporarily rewrite the rules of American society for half a month, for 15  days on a trial basis. He is asking Americans to not gather in groups of  more than 10 people. He is saying that elderly Americans should stay in  their homes, period. He is saying that no Americans should go to a  restaurant or bar, and schools should remain closed in most places.

According to our reporting, what`s happened over the weekend is a few  things. It`s a series of really startling updates about the situation in  Italy and the fear, as the surgeon general put it today, that we are right  now where Italy was two weeks ago, right before things got really dire  there. And there`s a suspicion and a sinking feeling that a similar thing  could happen here in the United States over these next few weeks. We  obviously saw the nation`s largest school district here in New York close.  We saw the markets tumble again today, the worst day since 1987.

And the President and his inner circle have become rattled. They recognize  this is not something that`s going away. The President had been saying for  days, oh, it`s under control. We`ll get a handle on it in the next couple  weeks. Today he finally out admitted it`s not under control here in the  U.S. or anywhere. He said it could last to the summer, July or August.

One of his closest advisers, Jared Kushner, according to our reporting, has  likened what the White House has to do now is a war effort. They know this  is going to define this year, this is probably going to define the general  election campaign, and they had to change tone and they have to up their  efforts.

WILLIAMS: Hey, doctor, while very few people are mentioning the irony of 16  people on a small raised platform in the White House briefing room, telling  us all about social distancing, the new rule is not to be in a group larger  than 10. What did you make of today`s new rules, and are they enough?

DR. AMESH ADALJA, BLOOMBERG SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH JOHN HOPKINS  UNIVERSITY: I do think that those numbers are what we`re looking to see to  decrease transmission. So the lower the number is, the less likely you`re  going to be in contact with an individual that could spread this virus to  you.

There`s no set number that you want to basically optimize, but it is just a  general rule that the more people that you`re in contact with, the more  likely you are to get contract this virus and to spread it to other people.  So we want to get it as small as possible and we`re seeing people move from  50 to 25 to 10. But I do think this is the way you`re going to have to move  forward for the next couple of weeks. Trying to limit contacts as much as  possible.

And I do think --

WILLIAMS: Stephanie -- doctor, we`ll continue that thought in a second. I  just want it because we have this other prong of this. Stephanie, can you  add up and kind of give us a briefing on the economic damage thus far.

STEPHANIE RUHLE, NBC NEWS SR. BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. I mean  from an investor`s perspective, to hear that Jared Kushner is the person  running this show, let`s be honest, Brian. Jared Kushner has no expertise  in crisis management, risk management, financial markets, or public health.  And for Jared Kushner to say this is -- we`re entering like a war zone,  come on, Brian. Where does he know that from? The board game risk?

Think about what this has done in terms of economic damage. Yesterday, when  you saw the Fed in an emergency rate cut, the Fed was supposed to meet  Wednesday, but an emergency rate cut on a Sunday coordinated with central  banks around the world, that tells the world they understand that this is  crippling economic damage.

When we are asking people to shut it down, self-quarantine, isolate, that  basically takes any economic growth and puts it on hold. But it doesn`t  actually put the entire economy on hold because we`ve still got to pay all  of our bills. So as this is playing out and as the number is spiking and  more people are being sent home, there`s this disconnect. And while  monetary policy helps, it`s fiscal policy that people are waiting for. We  haven`t even gotten to that yet.

When you saw markets continue to crater this afternoon, it wasn`t because  the President was finally somber and forthcoming. In fact, that`s a  positive. The markets have been saying, let`s pay less attention to how do  we tape up the financial markets so the stock market will go up, and let`s  do more to address this from a public health crisis.

The President started to say that today, but now the big hole is a fiscal  package. And while the House pushed that through over the weekend, we are  waiting, waiting on the Senate because you can cut rates, and that might  make it easier for businesses or individuals to get loans. But it`s not  going to put any money in anybody`s tip jar, and that`s what people need if  they`re going to actually get by.

WILLIAMS: Hey, doc, I want to play something for you. This is Chris Hayes  earlier on this network talking to Ned Lamont, the governor of Connecticut.


GOV. NED LAMONT, (D) CONNECTICUT: Danbury Hospital is already at capacity,  and they have 200 nurses on furlough because they were in contact. If I  could test those nurses, I could potentially get them back into the game --

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Wait a second --

LAMONT: A lot sooner.

HAYES: -- you`ve got 200 nurses sitting on the sidelines right now who  can`t get back to work because they can`t be tested to confirm whether or  not they have the virus?

LAMONT: Exactly.


WILLIAMS: Doctor, you heard the governor. My question for you, how on earth  has this been allowed to happen?

ADALJA: This is something that`s surprising to all of us. Nobody thought  that the chink in our pandemic preparedness armor would be diagnostic  testing. And we`ve seen cascading failures when it comes to diagnostic  testing with the scale-up. And this isn`t something that is going to make  anything better for some time because we even have test kits now available,  but it`s still so bureaucratically hard to order them.

I was rounding over the weekend in the hospital and I had two tests denied  to me because they didn`t meet strict criteria. We have to get away from  this idea that you have to have contact with somebody that`s a confirmed  case to order the test. This has really been paralyzing for doctors.

Then you have the guidance that says if you`ve been exposed to somebody or  if you were in a hospital setting, these workers have to be quarantined.  And that`s going to be paralyzing for hospitals, especially like you just  heard from the governor of Connecticut. This isn`t something that we can  expect to continue and be able to respond. Hospitals are at crisis mode  right now in certain parts of the country, and it`s only going to get worse  if we don`t get our guidance in line and have testing available for health  care workers and have good return to work type of guidance for them because  it`s just something that we never expected would happen in the United  States with a pandemic response.

WILLIAMS: And, Jonathan, this is the President who at the CDC, with cameras  rolling, said to Americans, if you want a test, if you need a test, you can  get a test.

LEMIRE: And he did so wearing his campaign hat. There has been such a  scattershot approach from this White House so far to the frustration of  some of the people around the President. For, you know, for a few days  there, it seemed as if the Vice President and Dr. Fauci were more or less  talking with one voice, trying to, you know, present facts, information,  guidelines to the American public while the President himself would  seemingly be in a different -- dealing with a different crisis altogether  in his tweets and public comments that seemed so detached from reality.  That changed a little bit today although, again, we`ll see if it lasts. I  wouldn`t bank on it.

But there`s certainly seemingly a new understanding of how dire things are  right now and how it`s only going to get worse. We heard the President  today -- I mean he agreed with the idea there could be a recession, which  of course is a toxic concept for any incumbent heading into a re-election  year, which he of course is, something he didn`t want to dare mention  anytime before. He of course, as we discussed, said this would wrap up in a  couple of weeks, and now he`s saying it will be months.

This is, though -- you know, this is an administration, they`re waiting for  the Senate to get into session not just for this funding bill, but there`s  going to be more. There`s going to be additional funding. There`s going to  be talk of a major stimulus needed to prop up the economy here as the real  effects of this get worse. And more than anything, that is what this White  House is bracing for.

RUHLE: But Brian --

LEMIRE: They are seeing that if they suspect that the number of cases are  going to surge in the next few weeks, and Americans really don`t know  what`s coming.

WILLIAMS: Steph, go ahead.

RUHLE: Brian, I would just say and people across the board are wanting  solidarity from business leaders, medical professionals, and the White  House. And Jonathan makes a great point that the President is making this  turn today, but it was earlier this morning his economic adviser, Larry  Kudlow, reiterated that this is a good time to buy stocks if you`re a long- term investor.

I can tell you some of the biggest investors in the world right now do not  care whether or not it`s a good time to buy stocks. They see this as the  massive health crisis that it is, and it is not just Larry Kudlow  yesterday. Yesterday Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said he doesn`t see a  recession coming.

Survey any professional investor on planet earth, and they will say, yes,  without a doubt we`re going to face one. We`re in one right now. It`s a  global recession.

So to see the White House continue to try to play this down, the only way  to actually solve for this is to open it up, not play it down.

WILLIAMS: To Jonathan Lemire, to Dr. Amesh Adalja, to Stephanie Ruhle, a  lot to cover in the space of one Monday night, thank you, all three of you,  for starting us off tonight.

And coming up for us, a big name in the Senate with a big idea along the  lines of this conversation, sending cash to Americans. And while the  streets may be empty across a good bit of this country, social media is  full of lies. We`ll talk about the effort to combat it as THE 11TH HOUR is  just getting under way on this Monday night.



SEN. CHRIS COONS, (D) CONNECTICUT: I was disappointed that the majority  leader sent all of us home for a three-day weekend when frankly we should  have stayed and just bore down on these two subjects and hammered it out. I  frankly think if we would all focus on this, confront our differences, vote  a series of amendments, we could get these done fairly quickly.


WILLIAMS: So let`s put it another way. While a lot of Americans are already  hurting, at least congress is fighting over what to do. A House bill  intended to help people with their losses hammered through by Speaker Nancy  Pelosi after a week of negotiations with the White House and a positive  tweet by the President of all things is getting picked over by Republican  members of the U.S. Senate. As it passed, it`s probably DOA. Final passage  of something could be delayed until next week.

And in the meantime, a big-name senator is out with a big idea.


SEN, MITT ROMNEY, (R) UTAH: Well, I`ve proposed a plan that would provide  $1,000 to each adult in the country, and that would be something which  would allow them to help meet short-term needs but also encourage the  economy as well. But a lot of folks are hurting right now and will be  hurting as a result of the slowdown in the economy, and this is a way to  help those families.


WILLIAMS: Here with us for more, Robert Costa, National Political Reporter  for "The Washington Post" and, of course, moderator of "Washington Week" on  PBS.

Robert, does the majority leader in your reporting know or care about the  optics at a time when, as we say, people are already hurting? Forget two  weeks from now. The optics of excusing the Senate, insisting on departing  on a long weekend only to come back and get to work on this.

ROBERT COSTA, THE WASHINGTON POST NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: The Majority  Leader Mitch McConnell is someone who is a vote counter. He`s a political  tactician.

And when I was up at the Senate this evening talking to Republican  senators, it`s clear that they don`t love this House bill that`s coming  over from Speaker Pelosi. Many Republicans supported it in the House as did  President Trump.

What the real story is, is not when this House bill likely passes the  senate at some point this week. It`s what`s next. And they`re already  working on this third round of legislation. And even Senator Marco Rubio of  Florida and others are talking about a package that could be over the $750  billion that`s already been proposed by Senate Democrats.

WILLIAMS: What are Republicans saying to you privately? Let`s start with  the daily gathering in the White House briefing room that is punctuated, of  course, with praise for the leader.

COSTA: I`m not a dramatic reporter, as you know, but it`s been pretty  stunning for me to look at the compare son to a week ago when Republicans - - my top sources in the House and Senate were complaining about the lack of  a payroll tax cut. They wanted to revolt against this House bill. Now  they`re hearing from their constituents, CEOs in their states and in their  districts and they`re looking at a massive stimulus economic-type program  in the coming weeks to bail out industries, battered industries from hotels  to airlines. They`re looking even seriously at Senator Romney`s proposal  which is similar to Andrew Yang`s universal basic income proposal, the  Romney`s proposal. His plan would be a stipend, a $1,000 in one instance,  not over the course of many years.

WILLIAMS: So to the undramatic Mr. Costa, I ask this. It sounds like some  folks do get that this has the power to reshape. This crisis has the power  to reshape parts of this country economically for a good, long while.

COSTA: It`s hard to understate, Brian, how many Republicans who run the  national GOP take their cues from Wall Street, from business leaders. And  these business leaders have not come to their door in this fashion since  2008, and that`s privately talking to senators tonight. They feel, even if  they`re not business savvy legislators, that the business community in this  country from small businesses to the major corporations globally are  worried to the point that they may have to cut thousands of jobs. Some  companies may go under unless the federal government steps in.

So a small government party is now looking at becoming a massive spending  party with the President`s blessing. You saw the Treasury Secretary up  there tonight talking to these senators, urging them to pass something big,  not small.

WILLIAMS: I want to read you something from "The New York Times" that our  control room will put on the screen. "Running out of federal court  vacancies to fill, Senate Republicans have been quietly making overtures to  sitting Republican-nominated judges who are eligible to retire to urge them  to step aside so they can be replaced while the party still holds the  Senate and the White House." The work of Hill veteran, Carl Hulse.

Robert, what are you hearing about this story?

COSTA: I was just hanging out with my buddy Carl by the Senate trains and  he`s always on top of the judicial side of the Senate. And this is a  McConnell story. McConnell sees the light at the end of the tunnel, whether  it`s January 2025 or January 2021, the Trump administration will end at  some point. And if it is 2021, he wants to get as many judicial nominees  through as possible. He`s already been a historic figure in terms of  overhauling the conservative judiciary in this country, putting in so many  judges.

And he wants to just continue to do more, particularly in a Congress that  does very little legislating, at least over the last three years. But now  they may have some legislating to compete with the judicial nominations.


WILLIAMS: Our thanks as always to the always steady Robert Costa. Bob,  thank you very much for hanging out with us tonight.

And just ahead for us, at midnight, close to 7 million Californians will be  under mandate to stay home and not go out. We`ll ask a former White House  health official if drastic steps like these would help ease the predicted  tsunami of active coronavirus cases. That`s when we continue.



GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: I believe we`ve taken more dramatic  actions than any state in the United States. I believe we`ve had the most  effective response than any state in the United States. I don`t believe  we`re going to be able to flatten the curve enough to meet the capacity of  the health care system.


WILLIAMS: The state of New York also now has the most cases. Dire warnings  tonight that our public health system may not be up to the challenge of  coronavirus on a day when we learned of almost 1,000 new cases.

And over this past weekend, 16 national health care leaders, including our  next guest, offered some simple advice in a "USA Today" op-ed, and we  quote. "The best thing everyday Americans can do to fight a coronavirus?  #Stayhome, save lives". As of midnight tonight, the residents of 7 Bay Area  counties are under orders to shelter in place, and we`re talking 7 million  plus people.

With us for more tonight is Andy Slavitt, he is the former Acting  Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services under  President Obama and was instrumental in the turnaround of the rollout. He now happens to be Board Chair for the nonprofit  group the United States of Care. I hate, Andy, to start with a question  like this, but can you tell us what our nation is likely to look like, say,  two weeks from tonight?

ANDY SLAVITT, FMR. ACTING ADMINISTRATOR, CENTERS FOR MEDICARE & MEDICAID  SERVICES: Well, look, unfortunately I think we`re going to see that the  numbers you just talked about, Brian, the thousand, the number of deaths,  they`re going to continue to get higher and higher and higher, and these  are going to feel like very much the good old days. This is a virus that  none of us have an immunity for. We`re not used to that. And we could be a  triathlete and think we`re made of bronze. It doesn`t matter.

We have periods of time when we get this virus where we don`t know we have  it. And just by touching things or breathing air around others, the virus  can pass from one to another. For some people, people who have an  underlying illness or who are older, it`s dangerous. It`s potentially  lethal. And so it`s going to be very hard to get through and get rid of  this virus.

So I think we`re going to be living through some adjustments. I think the  positive way to look at this is we will all remember this period. It will  wash through. The 1918 flu washed through eventually. We just need to get  through it with as minimal lives lost as possible, and I think that`s what  we called out in this article is that everybody -- that`s in everybody`s  hands because the number of people we interact with and the number of  people we pass the virus is going to have everything to do with how many  people lose their lives.

WILLIAMS: I`m not a doctor, but it sure looked like near criminal  malpractice the other night. I know you saw the pictures of arriving U.S.  air passengers, O`Hare, Dallas, Fort Lauderdale, some of them in lines  cheek by jowl, next to each other for six hours. There was one report that  people who`d been separated out because of high temperatures, part of the  advanced screening, had lined up right next to the people who were well.  How can we not have disease clusters now in some of these cities where  these patients had four to six hours of unmitigated exposure to each other  in a time when we`re supposed to be social distancing?

SLAVITT: Well, unfortunately these are sometimes the lessons that we need  in order to dramatically shake things up. You know, things like the NBA  stopping its season sent a message to a number of people and hopefully  young people because it`s really the young people that are the ones that  are socializing more. People, my age and older than my age are probably  less at risk.

But when we see scenes like that, that caused the governor of Illinois to  take some action. That caused the federal government to take some action.  And I actually think we saw a different President Trump today in his news  conference in the sense that I think he was seeing and expressing for the  first time the gravity of the situation.

Sadly these are costly lessons because if we were learning them 30 days  earlier and we were had tests out 30 days earlier and we were isolating 30  days earlier, we would have a much more South Korea or Singapore-like  curve. As it is, we`re on the very same curve that Italy is on. That`s what  has Governor Cuomo so shaken up. He wasn`t afraid to say it this morning  because he`s seen figures which show that he has about maybe 10 percent of  the capacity of high-intensity ICU beds that he might need in as little as  several weeks from now. That has him ringing the alarm bell every day and  as loud as he can.

WILLIAMS: Andy, if you were appointed special master tomorrow morning to  run the government effort, let`s call it the Vice President`s job now, what  would be the first thing? You`d want answered or your first action that,  from a distance now, you see that`s not being done?

SLAVITT: So I think there`s two really critical things right now. Obviously  over the longer term we need a virus vaccine. That`s great. We`ve got  scientists on that. But in the meantime, two things need to happen. One is  we need to take our frontline health care workforce, which is a precious  workforce, but they all have families. They can all catch this illness from  their families, and they have very limited amount of protective equipment.

And they`re going into battle for us on the frontlines every day without a  playbook, and we need to protect them. We need to have their backs. We need  to have all of the equipment, protective gear, et cetera, we can possibly  muster. We need every factory in this country and every company in this  country and people who are out of work in the sector where they`re creating  gear to protect these folks because we need them to show up. Because when  they get sick or when they stop showing up, we`re going to be in trouble.

And then the second thing I would do is I would make sure that we are doing  everything we can as individuals to stay home. I think we`re going to build  a culture and an economy around this stay-at-home environment and we`re  going to learn to like it. And I think the -- and I said two things, I  lied. There`s a third thing which may even be the first thing. The most  vulnerable populations are people who are living in nursing homes, elderly,  people who have -- people who are living in tight quarters, people with  severe chronic conditions.

We need to be thinking about that population and how to create the very  best infection-free environment and pristine environment for those folks.  And if you`re a policymaker, that`s what you got to do. And I would be  hammering those things over and over again because that`s how we`re going  to lose the fewest lives.

WILLIAMS: Andy, thank you very much for that. You just reminded me to point  out while you`re where you are, tonight if we look at all different or  sound at all different, we`re in a satellite studio where I can work alone  and not risk or be exposed to any other folks, kind of the danger of our  times.

Andy Slavitt, we`d love to have you on again. Thank you for taking our  questions tonight.

Coming up, one of the risks of this global health crisis is the viral  spread of disinformation, straight-up lies.


WILLIAMS: Well, you might have seen it yourself. It might have been  forwarded to you over the weekend. Rumors over the weekend that our  highways were all going to be closed and that martial law was going to be  declared across the United States. It was enough to make the National  Security Council sit up and notice, and eventually they stepped in and put  this out. "Text message rumors of a national quarantine are fake. There is  no national lockdown. CDC has and will continue to post the latest guidance  on COVID-19".

Back with us again tonight, Clin Watts, former FBI Special Agent, Author of  "Messing with the Enemy: Surviving in a Social Media World of Hackers,  Terrorists, Russians and Fake News" and a distinguish research fellow at  the Foreign Policy Research Institute. Clint, this is consumer education  tonight. We have nothing but consumers in the audience watching. What  should people know? How do they know it when they see it?

CLINT WATTS, MSNBC NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think the first thing is to  recognize when you`re scared, when you have fear, you`re more likely to  believe something that is not true, something that you otherwise would not  really believe. And you`re oftentimes urged to pass this on. If you looked  at a lot of those text messages or any of the conspiracies out there right  now about coronavirus, you`ll see that it`s urgent. They`ll say within two  days, within three days, and they`re urging you to do something such as  share that information or move it very quickly.

The other tricks that you tend to find in these is the source will seem to  be some sort of a person of authority but it`s not specific in terms of who  that person actually is that provided. They`ll say a Pentagon friend or a  neighbor who works at the State Department or someone who is in a secret  chat. If you see that and you don`t really know who it is, that actual  person who that is, don`t share that information because you`re actually  the source for the next person that receives it.

I think another big thing to think about -- 


WATTS: Yes. Go ahead, Brian.

WILLIAMS: I was just going to say there`s no martial law, but it seems to  me there`s also no martial plan, a, for the disease.

WATTS: That`s right.

WILLIAMS: But, b, to straighten up our comms, and what`s the truthful  source that you tell people to go to when they`re faced with straight-up  lies on social media?

WATTS: Yes. So this has been part of the challenge based on the current  administration. Oftentimes not always having the best record. But what I  did think was remarkable and very well done was that the NSC did put that  out right away. There was notations of martial law or martial plan or  Stafford Act that were in there, which all point to some sort of a  government act or a government action.

It was good that the U.S. government was putting that out there, and if you  watch out on social media, people are pushing people to the CDC. What we  need to do is get consistency across the federal government so that we  trust the information that`s coming out of it. That`s why the politics and  the divisiveness that we`ve seen over the past three to four years are  really coming into play where people aren`t sure what to believe.

WILLIAMS: HHS had a cyberattack last night. What about strengthening our  systems against that kind of thing?

WATTS: Brian, this is a ripe opportunity for anybody bad actors out there  in cyberspace, particularly our known adversaries, Russia, China, Iran in  the cyberspace. They see America at a point of weakness right now dealing  with multiple crises, and we have two giant fears that are affecting the  public. One, a pandemic, and two the financial markets going into near  collapse. Those are two ways to really manipulate and shock the U.S.  audience and get them to believe things that may be happening.

Hitting HHS is a target, that`s ripe for both hackers that want to take  information, but also for availability of information. If you`re a nation  state, it`s a ripe target. So right now you`ve got the audience of America  in a panic state, scared, believing things that they wouldn`t often  believe, and you`ve got an administration struggling to keep up with a  pandemic. We should look at all adversaries around the world, and  cyberspace is a ripe opportunity for them.

WILLIAMS: Your warnings truly focus the mind. Clint Watts, thank you as  always for coming on.

Coming up, what the President said about the coronavirus just days ago. It  wasn`t true then. It still isn`t true today.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Anybody right now and  yesterday, anybody that needs a test gets a test. They`re there. They have  the tests. The tests are beautiful. Anybody that needs a test gets a test.


WILLIAMS: It wasn`t true then when he said it, and it sure isn`t true now.  And let`s be honest here. Whether or not you can get a test depends on your  zip code where you live and how much money you have.

Tonight, as we try to bring you some of the latest reporting out there, Tom  Costello starts us off with the story of the -- 


TOM COSTELLO, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From Connecticut to  Colorado, Ohio to Alabama, roughly a dozen states are now offering drive- through COVID-19 testing. Some people confused by special requirements for  testing, like an appointment or a doctor`s note. At Christiana Care  Hospital in Delaware, they tested 536 people in just four hours.

THERESA MEAD, NURSE: One in one side of the nose and one in the other side.  Then we put it inside the tube and we close it off and we send it with  their individual information.

COSTELLO (voice-over): The White House says 2,000 labs will have the  ability to conduct tests by sometime today. Processing nearly 2 million  tests by the end of the week. Each test could take hours or days to  process. But across much of the country frustration, at the lack of tests  and slow results, a Virginia man who returned from a trip to New York is  now unconscious on a ventilator and in ICU. It took three days to get a  positive test result.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think he`s sleeping but, you know, he`s got all  these tubes, and he`s on his stomach, and they`re just doing everything  they can to keep him alive. But it`s heartbreaking. I just want him to come  home.

COSTELLO (voice-over): Mass General Emergency Physician Clayton Dalton says  the delays will almost certainly have dire consequences.

CLAYTON DALTON, GENERAL EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN: I do think that these early  failures will result in more people getting sick and more people dying than  might otherwise have happened.

COSTELLO (voice-over): Hospitals across the country are now setting up  triage tents to screen patients outside of the E.R. New York Governor Cuomo  calling for the Army Corps of Engineers to set up medical tents. The White  House says facilities dedicated to treating COVID-19 patients are already  under consideration. In hardest hit states, the White House promises more  drive and walk-through testing sites this week, able to screen up to 4,000  people per day.

ADM. BRETT GIROIR, HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES, ASST. SECRETARY FOR HEALTH: I  want it to be clear to everybody, this is just another tool for states and  local public systems and health care systems to use. It`s not replacing  testing that goes on in a doctor`s office or in a hospital.

COSTELLO (voice-over): In the San Francisco area, Google has set up a pilot  program to help identify people at highest risk and direct them to a local  testing site.

DR. JEREMY FAUST, BRIGHAM AND WOMENS HOSPITAL PHYSICIAN: Many of us can get  this virus and it could be mild or even no symptoms at all but they can  actually still give it to a friend or loved one, and for them, their lungs.

COSTELLO (voice-over): Meanwhile, a vaccine clinical trial with 40 people  began today in Seattle. Though researchers` caution it could take up to 18  months before a vaccine is approved and widely available.

Now, a partial shutdown of the Las Vegas strip. MGM Resorts International`s  13 properties include MGM Grand, Aria, Mandalay Bay, The Mirage and the  Bellagio will close tomorrow until further notice. Wynn Resorts, the Wynn  and Encore will close tomorrow for two weeks.

The NFL Draft is also about a month away. Today the NFL canceled all public  events surrounding the draft. Gaming and tourism fueled the economy here.  We`ve already started to see layoffs and more will come. One of the state`s  top fiscal analysts says there are still so many unknowns as this is  uncharted territory.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now I don`t think that we know. But what we do  know is that our tourism industry is being directly affected. We don`t know  how many people will ultimately be laid off. We don`t know how much is  going to be lost in wages and salaries, but we do know it`s going to be  significant and probably more than we`ve seen at any time in most of our  history.

COSTELLO (voice-over): There are other resort and casino properties that  are still open. However, per Governor Steve Sisolak`s mandate, there are  new rules in place such as no more than three chairs will be allowed for  table games and machines must be sanitized every two hours. Monday, a quiet  day on the strip ahead of many more to come.


WILLIAMS: Coming up, we will take a look at a giant in the world of  entertainment. What he has to say of the illness sweeping across the  country.


MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC ANCHOR: I`m Milissa Rehberger in New York. The  last thing before we go tonight, if you`re on special media -- social  media, get ready. People have too much time on their hands for starters.  Combine that with our insatiable appetite for content and you`re going to  see a lot of coronavirus themed media.

There is a sock puppet eating cars meme. There is a great video of penguins  at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago who got to act like people and see how the  other half lived, see how the exhibits looked to visitors. Here they are  walking around. Very cute.

There is Arnold Schwarzenegger teaching people to eat at home by feeding  his mini horses and -- mini horse and mini donkey, sorry, just as so many  of us do in our homes because of course we do. Finally, the son of show  business royalty invoking his father to make a point.


MAX BROOKS, ACTOR: Hi. I`m Max Brooks. I`m 47 years old. This is my dad,  Mel Brooks. Hi, dad. He`s 93. If I get the coronavirus, I`ll probably be  OK. But if I give it to him, he could give it to Carl Reiner, who could  give it to Dick Van Dyke. And before I know it, I`ve wiped out a whole  generation of comedic legends.

When it comes to coronavirus, I have to think about who I can infect, and  so should you. So practice social distancing. Avoid crowds. Wash your  hands. Keep six feet away from people. And if you`ve got the option to stay  home, just stay home. Do your part. Don`t be a spreader. Right, dad?

MEL BROOKS, ACTOR: Right. Go home.

M. BROOKS: I`m going. I`m going.


M. BROOKS: Love you.


REHBERGER: Well, that was clever. A reminder. Mel Brooks fought the Nazis  in Europe as a combat engineer in Patton`s army. He doesn`t scare very  easily, but corona is keeping him at home as you just saw until further  notice.

A quick reminder, tomorrow Brian Williams and Rachel Maddow will have  primaries to cover unless officials change things before then, we`re not  sure. But no matter what, we will be here with special coverage beginning  at 7:00 p.m. Eastern time.

For now, that is our broadcast for a quarantine Monday night as we start a  new week. Thank you for being with us. Good night.

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