BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: I want to show you again tonight, usually known
as the crossroads of the world, Times Square in New York. Tonight desolate
again. Very few pedestrians, very few cars, at the height of the
Well, good evening once again. Day 1,154 of the Trump administration, 230
days until the presidential election. And it`s been one week since the
World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic. The number
of confirmed cases in our country is going up fast. Tonight it reaches over
8,600 people. Note it has been nearly two months since the first case was
diagnosed in this country as you see 140 total fatalities.
As the nation grapples with increasing shutdowns, the President has now
adopted a new stance when it comes to positioning his effort to fight this
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you consider America to be on a wartime footing in
terms of fighting this virus?
DONALD TRUMP, (R) UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: I look at it, I view it as a --
in a sense a wartime president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: While he may view himself and wish to be viewed as a wartime
president now, the problem with that is the lengths that he has gone to
diminish the virus, the danger, and the approaching pandemic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We`re finding very little problem, very little problem. Now, you
treat this like a flu.
It`s going to disappear one day. It`s like a miracle, it will disappear.
The Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus.
This is their new hoax.
Anybody that needs a test, it`s a we -- they`re there, they have the tests.
The tests are all perfect. Like the letter was perfect. The transcription
It will go away. Just stay calm.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Today Trump invoked the Korean War-Era Defense Production Act,
which allows him to order businesses to make ventilators and masks for
health care workers as well as other critically needed medical supplies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We`ve ordered millions of them. But we need millions more. A thing
like this has never been requested, and it`s never -- we never had to even
think in terms of these numbers. But we need millions of masks. And all of
that will be ordered. We need respirators. We need ventilators is a big
thing because it`s a complex piece of equipment. So we have a lot of
ventilators but we`re going to be ordering more. Nobody ever saw numbers
like this. Even with regard to testing. Now we`re getting highly
sophisticated tests and it`s going very well but nobody`s ever heard of
testing in the kind of quantities that you`re talking about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: The President said today this snuck up on us. While the President
also announced the government is taking further steps to expand testing
capacity, it`s still impossible for many Americans to get tested. Even
those who are violently symptomatic. It remains true that your ability to
get tested right now in this country depends on where you live, who you
are, and how much money you make.
In news to our north, we`ve now closed our border with Canada to stop non-
essential traffic back and forth. As you can guess, asylum seekers and
other foreigners attempting to enter illegally from Mexico are being turned
back. This comes as a new internal report from the Department of Health and
Human Services, first reported on by the "New York Times," suggests a
sobering time frame for recovery, saying the pandemic "will last 18 months
or longer and could include multiple waves of illness."
Late today U.S. Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida, Ben McAdams of
Utah became the first two members of Congress to announce they have
contracted the coronavirus. As the number of cases has increased, there`s
new information about the types of patients being affected by this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are concerning reports coming out of France and
Italy about some young people getting seriously ill and very seriously ill
in the ICUs. It may have been that the millennial generation, our largest
generation, our future generation that will carry us through for the next
multiple decades, there may be disproportional number of infections among
that group, and so even if it`s a rare occurrence it may be seen more
frequently in that group and be evident now. So we`re looking at that
information very carefully. We have not seen any significant mortality in
the children, but we are concerned about the early reports coming out of
Italy and France.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: This was another tough day for Wall Street as the Dow dropped
below 20,000 points for the first time since February 2017. It has now
wiped out all of the gains made during the Trump presidency.
Trading briefly came to a halt again today. Earlier on CNBC today long-time
hedge fund manager Bill Ackman urged the President to shut down the country
and the markets for a month to contain the coronavirus and rescue the U.S.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL ACKMAN, LONG-TIME HEDGE FUND MANAGER: What would the President be
asking the American people to do? He`s not saying, you know, -- he`s not
saying to storm the beaches at Normandy, right? He`s saying go home. Go
home. Spend a month with your family. OK? And I know for some families
that`s a hardship. OK? But it`s nothing. Go home. Take a deep breath, you
know, spend time with loved ones. Take care of your children which is
scaring the American people and corporate America is the gradual rollout,
OK, of what`s going on. We need to shut it down now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: That is exactly what the big three automakers did today. GM Ford,
Fiat, Chrysler temporarily shutting down their factories in the U.S., in
Mexico and in Canada until at least march 30. An unprecedented move that
will affect hundreds of thousands of factory employees.
Tonight Trump signed the emergency coronavirus aid bill just hours after it
was passed by the Senate. This legislation provides free coronavirus
testing if you can find it. It ensures paid emergency leave as well as
additional Medicaid funding and unemployment benefits.
Senate Republicans are now working on a $1 trillion spending proposal that
the White House said would include 500 billion in direct payments to
Americans. Trump also says he plans to make another announcement about his
administration`s effort to stop the spread of this virus. Here`s what he
said during a meeting with the heads of nursing organizations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The FDA will be -- they`ve been working very, very hard. And I
appreciate what they`re doing. And I think we have some very interesting
things that will be brought up tomorrow at the news conference.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: One more note about the availability of tests. As we mentioned,
they are still extremely difficult to get. NBC News White House
Correspondent Peter Alexander today asked Trump why that wasn`t the case
for some folks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETER ALEXANDER, NBC NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: How are non-
symptomatic professional athletes getting tests while others are waiting in
line and can`t get them? Do the well-connected go to the front of the line?
TRUMP: You`d have -- you have to ask them that question. I mean they --
I`ve read -
ALEXANDER: Should that happen?
TRUMP: No, I wouldn`t say so. But perhaps that`s been the story of life.
That does happen on occasion. And I`ve noticed where some people have been
tested fairly quickly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Well, on that note here for our lead-off discussion on a
Wednesday night, Philip Rucker, Pulitzer Prize-Winning White House Bureau
Chief for the Washington Post, also happens to be the co-author with his
colleague Carol Leonnig of the best-selling book "A Very Stable Genius."
Kimberly Atkins, Senior Washington Correspondent for WBUR, Boston`s NPR
News Station. And Ian Bremmer is back with us, the Founder and President of
the Eurasia Group. His expertise in global affairs with a particular eye on
the relationship between political risk and financial markets. He also
happens to be the host of GZERO World on PBS. Good evening and welcome to
Kimberly, I`d like to begin with you. A week ago tonight the NBA season was
canceled. A week ago today people were wondering, almost a parlor game,
wonder which celebrity will possibly come down with coronavirus. The virus
was impressed us all when it started at the top of the chain when we
learned Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson were in quarantine in Australia, that is
to say, a week has passed. Should Congress have passed what they did
KIMBERLY ATKINS WBUR SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Congress should be
working as fast as humanly possible. The one thing that this variety and
the fact that people are staying away from each other, social distancing,
is that Congress -- members of Congress, many members, have opened up
virtual town halls in Facebook meet-ups. And they have been hearing
directly from people on the ground, from their constituents, who are
extremely concerned with everything that is going on because it has touched
every single American in one form or another, even with just the orders to
stay away from one another.
They are concerned about everything from how they`re going to take care of
loved ones with disabilities or say themselves have a disability. If
they`re working part-time jobs. What happens to people in the gig economy?
Will the recovery package address them? People who are taking care of
elders or taking care of children. There are a host of issues that
Americans are extremely concerned about. And yeah, I`m sure seeing people
like Tom Hanks who have means and who where in -- he and his wife were able
to get their testing because they were in Australia, by the way. When I`m
hearing from folks like, you know, my mom`s own doctor who says she doesn`t
have the equipment and supplies she needs to treat people and she is
telling people who she would normally have to treat to stay home. It is a
very concerning time, and people are looking to Congress to act and act
WILLIAMS: Phil Rucker, the Senate Majority Leader having given the Senate a
long weekend off, yesterday because it`s always about the inside game told
his members if they had to gag go ahead but vote for the package of
legislation. It came out of the Senate ultimately today, but according to
your reporting today what`s the health of partisanship? Is it alive and
well in Washington still?
PHILIP RUCKER, WASHINGTON POST WHITE HOUSE BUREAU CHIEF: You know, it has
never died in Washington, Brian, except for a few days around September
11th, 2001. But there`s a really interesting political story under way here
with the economic response to the coronavirus. And that has to do with the
$1 trillion rescue package that the Trump administration has put together.
That includes bailouts for a number of industries including the airline
industry. And let`s think back to 2008 when Congress passed those bailouts
for the big banks. That became a lightning rod issue for activists on both
the right and the left. It began the tea party movement that swept
Republicans into power in 2010.
Many of the very same senators and house members who are coming out in
support of the current package because it`s proposed by President Trump
were actually elected because they opposed those sorts of bailouts and they
preached fiscal austerity. So there`s been a real sea change here because
of the coronavirus and because of the President`s determination to spend a
big dollar figure to try to rescue this economy without much regard for the
WILLIAMS: Ian, I know you`re with us via Skype. I know there`s always a bit
of a built-in delay but I want to play for you an exchange at the White
House briefing today. We`ll talk about it on the other side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CECILIA VEGA, ABC NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Why do you keep calling
this the Chinese virus? There are reports of dozens of incidents of bias
against Chinese Americans in this country. Why do you keep using this? A
lot of people say it`s a racist.
TRUMP: Because it comes from China. It`s not racist at all, no, not at all.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR, PBS NEWHOUR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: A person at the
White House used the word Kung flu.
TRUMP: Just a term. Kung flu.
ALCINDOR: My question is, do you think that`s wrong. Kung flu. Do you think
using the term Chinese virus that put Asian-Americans at risk? The people
might target back.
TRUMP: No, not at all. I think they probably would agree with it 100%. It
comes from China.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Ian, what are we doing here?
IAN BREMMER, EURASIA GROUP PRESIDENT & FOUNDER: Well, President Trump
hasn`t referred to this as the Chinese flu until about two days ago. It
links up with his policies in response to coronavirus implode imploding and
the markets imploding in the United States, and it made it harder for him
to blame Obama, blame Biden. He needs someone to blame. And China`s the
And the problem with that of course is -- I mean, yes, it did indeed come
from China originally, and furthermore the Chinese did indeed covered it up
for the first month. So they are responsible. But on top of this massive
market meltdown and economic shutdown we`re seeing in the United States
right now, picking a fight with the Chinese, who feel vastly more confident
today coming out of this crisis, than they did after 2008 is going to cause
more economic damage.
And while it`s politically expedient for Trump to do so in an electoral
cycle, the likelihood that we end up in an economic fight with the Chinese
where we pull out of the phase 1 trade deal, they`re not buying the goods
they promised to buy, and the Chinese are making gains in places like
Europe, the Middle East where they`re actually providing humanitarian
medical aid, supplies, personnel, and the Americans are actually
undermining the relations with those countries, the potential that we end
up coming out of this coronavirus crisis and a cold war with the Chinese is
becoming real. That`s additional shock right now that you really don`t want
as we face by far the worst economic crisis we`ve had in a long time.
WILLIAMS: Kim, I don`t need to tell you they`re using the big boy briefing
room at the White House now after it was idle for a year. That creates an
even louder daily megaphone for the White House briefing, especially when
the President is part of it. Is the West Wing staff still convinced he is
their best spokesperson?
ATKINS: Well, he is convinced of that. And we`ve seen a lot of iterations
since the coronavirus became a massive crisis. First it was the creation of
that task force. And then Mike Pence was put out front. And he was the face
of it, giving the daily briefings and leading them for a couple of days
before the President came back and took control of the message.
You can certainly tell in the White House that they feel the increased
sense of urgency and they are responding as such. The President is still
being the president. And as Ian said, doing things like blaming others,
like blaming China but at the same time there`s a real understanding that
this is something massive, it is a bigger economic crisis, potentially
bigger economic crisis than we saw in 2008 and that the White House needs
to act both for -- because it`s the White House and it`s the head of the
executive. But also politically it`s an election year and that`s certainly
something on the President`s mind and he does not want to be seen as the
person who is at fault if the response is not enough.
WILLIAMS: Hey, Phil, Ashley Parker, your colleague, et al. at your
newspaper tonight giving us this headline. "Kushner coronavirus team sparks
confusion, plaudits inside White House response efforts." In plain English
what is Jared Kushner up to now?
RUCKER: Brian, this is one of the most interesting stories of the week I
think because we see this task force at the briefings every day. It`s led
by Vice President Pence. But there`s actually a second task force operating
behind the scenes at the White House. It is led by Jared Kushner, the
senior adviser and presidential son-in-law. He has corralled a number of
his loyal associates and allies within the federal government as well as
brought in private sector leaders, people from FedEx, UPS, and other
companies who are effectively working in an all hands on deck operation
inside the White House to try to get control of the testing situation and
try to manage this response. So while there`s a public-facing task force
that the Vice President leads, a separate power center is very much emerged
in recent days led by Kushner, and it`s created a great deal of confusion
inside the government because people are getting orders from both sides.
They`re not really sure who`s in charge.
WILLIAMS: Ian, on top of all of it I want to play you this. Here is our
Secretary of State on Fox News.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: The Chinese government knew about this
risk, had identified it. They were the first to know, and they wasted
valuable days at the front end, allowing hundreds of thousands of people to
leave Wuhan, to go to places like Italy, that`s now suffering so badly.
They tried to suppress this information. You talked about the means by
which they did it. Instead of trying to actually do the work to suppress
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Ian, this speaks directly to what you were saying earlier. The
need to blame. The need to attribute troubles to another source.
BREMMER: It`s true. I mean, look, it is the fact that China is almost 20%
of the world`s economy right now. It was about 4% when SARS hit. All of the
major American companies are massively interlinked in terms of China`s
supply chain. And so as a consequence when you end up with more significant
risks that come out of China we`re going to be affected in a much more
Let`s be very clear here. The mistakes made by China early, and they were
intentional, by the Chinese government are unconscionable. They need to be
redressed. And we`re going to get hurt. The Iranians that was absolutely a
response of the Chinese not being able to deal with this crisis and
refusing to. The Europeans as well. But we still have to take
responsibility for our own response. And the fact that Jack Ma, the
wealthiest man in China, is offering the United States 500,000 test kits
and we aren`t able to produce them for ourselves.
Yes, we lost a month because China covered it up but we lost two months
after that because the Trump administration was asleep at the switch and
President Trump was spinning fantasies for the average American saying this
wasn`t a problem. It was like a miracle, it would go away. Also
unconscionable. There is plenty of blame here to go around, Brian. And
ultimately the Americans do have to -- if you want to put America first, we
should also be blaming our own leadership first. That`s really the kind of
America first we need to see. We have to see leadership in our country to
take care of our own people. And I see a lot of passing of the buck right
now. I don`t see a lot of it stopping with the White House.
WILLIAMS: By the way, let`s take a half million test kits if offered. Ian
Bremmer, Philip Rucker, Kimberly Atkins. Our thanks for starting us off
And coming up, they`re about to close down the floor of the NYSE. Trading
will go on, but that`s about the only positive news out of there these
days. Stephanie Ruhle with us tonight to talk about the financial damage.
And later, the hardships being faced by the medical professionals on the
front line of this pandemic with the job of protecting all of us as THE
11TH HOUR just getting under way on this Wednesday night.
WILLIAMS: The stress people are under evident all day long on CNBC in
particular as they watch the financial damage pile up. The stress was
audible during an interview with Bill Ackman. He`s a well-known, well-
regarded hedge fund CEO in New York. He is currently self-quarantined to
protect his elderly father. And as you`ll hear, he is not bullish on our
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL ACKMAN, WELL-KNOWN, WELL-REGARDED HEDGE FUND CEO: I called the CEOs of
a number of our companies, OK, and told them my concerns. OK? Companies
we`re closest to. And to not stop the buyback programs, to husband
resources, to pull down, draw down their credit lines because hell is
coming. OK. And I felt -- is really, I`ve never had this experience before
in my life, the closest I had was the financial crisis where I`m saying,
you know, things are coming, bad stuff`s coming. But this was a feeling
like I`ve never had, like there`s a tsunami coming, right? The tsunami`s
coming, and you feel it in the air, right? The tide starts to roll out. OK?
And on the beach people are playing and having fun like there`s nothing
going on. And that is the feeling I`ve had for the last two months. It`s
spring break now. A lot of people were going to take these two weeks off
anyway. So extend it for a month. A month at home. OK? How hard is that?
Compare that to going to war, right? Compare that to getting on one of
those boats and storming the beach. It`s nothing. It`s not a sacrifice. OK?
It`s easy. It`s simple.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Back with us again tonight is our friend Stephanie Ruhle, Senior
Business Correspondent for NBC News, a veteran herself of the invest
banking and business world, the host of the 9:00 a.m. hour on this network.
Stephanie, tell us about Mr. Ackman and what did you make of that very
emotional warning for what we all may be in for?
STEPHANIE RUHLE, NBC NEWS SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: So I know Bill
Ackman pretty well. While much of what he said is shared by a lot of
business leaders. Tonight for example Rich Handler, who is the chairman and
CEO of Jefferies wrote a very thoughtful letter that could be a template
for what the administration could do, sort of detailing that businesses
small and large are really going to suffer here. In the financial crisis
the issue were banks and the government came in and assured they were
solvent and made sure the rest of the system could work.
Now what we have is a business crisis and what we need to do to address the
health emergency is stop business. Many business leaders, whether it be Mr.
Handler, whether it be Mr. Ackman have said maybe we need to shut down
temporarily and really attack this.
Because the thing is, Brian, businesses cannot survive. Most businesses
like individuals who live on credit cards, businesses live on leverage. And
across most industries they cannot survive something like this if it`s a
slow bleed. So many business leaders are urging the administration to do
something more severe.
Rich Handler has suggested not just doing a bailout but saying let`s
actually create loans for these companies and instead of writing a check to
every American, put the money through these companies to their employees
and that will assure they will keep their jobs because three months from
now if all you`re doing is paying the American people cash they will not
have any companies to go back to. So there are a lot of thoughtful
solutions here. But I have to tell you what Bill Ackman did today on
television was so wildly irresponsible.
I get it. Bill Ackman wants to go down in the history books that he called
this. Bill Ackman has chosen to be in documentaries about some of his best
trades and put on this grand extraordinary show. But in putting on that
grand show while he was getting choked up talking about his father he
caused the markets to puke and he caused the circuit breakers to trigger.
So it`s taking advantage of the fact that cable news puts him on
television, really hard-working cable news reporters who are trying to get
smart business leaders on TV to explain the real picture, maybe to urge the
White House to make really good choices, but make no mistake. Bill Ackman
could call the White House any day of the week. I assure you. Jared Kushner
would love to take his call.
But what has so many people wondering tonight, why Bill Ackman, who maybe
has the right idea or very good intentions would put on such a ridiculous
show and cause such damage to an already panicked market. That`s what`s
WILLIAMS: Because and I are Jersey kids I want to read you this. Also as an
example of the kind of tragedy you and I are going to start covering here
real soon. This is a "New York Times" headline. March 18th. "Coronavirus
Ravages 7 Members of a Single Family, Killing 3." This happened in the
county seat of the county I grew up at the Jersey shore in Freehold, New
Jersey. When Bruce Springsteen sings about his hometown, that`s his
hometown. And this is sadly, Stephanie, emblematic of the real genuine non-
NYSE related human suffering we`re going to see.
RUHLE: Brian, that mother who died didn`t even know two of her children had
died before her. And to think we saw that today where we did see those
pictures of people partying on in Miami. Bill Ackman is not wrong. These
are very serious times. We just have to address them with the most
thoughtful, thoughtful measures.
WILLIAMS: Stephanie Ruhle with us in New York again tonight. We`re going to
be calling on you often, I just know it. Thank you very much for always
answering the bell.
RUHLE: Thank you.
WILLIAMS: Coming up for us, a man who once wore four stars on each shoulder
is with us tonight to remind us about the awesome power of the U.S.
military, which has so far gone largely untapped in this.
WILLIAMS: The President said today two massive U.S. Navy hospital ships are
being deployed to battle the coronavirus in the next week or so. But here`s
the problem. Even that statement may not stand up to scrutiny. The ships
are the Comfort and the Mercy. The Comfort`s going to pull into New York.
The Mercy`s going to the West Coast. The problem is NBC News reporting the
Comfort is undergoing maintenance on the east coast right now. No medical
personnel are on board.
A Pentagon spokesman told "The New York Times" it could be weeks before
it`s deployed. Out west the Mercy is also undergoing maintenance on the
west coast. No word yet on its destination or schedule. Both vessels,
though, are a tiny fraction of the band width, the expertise, the muscle
that the U.S. military could provide in this crisis if they are tasked to
Back with us again tonight, Retired U.S. Army Four-Star General Barry
McCaffrey, decorated combat veteran of Vietnam, former battlefield
commander in the Persian Gulf. He has moved entire armies all around the
world. General, tell us what DOD could bring to this fight. A civilian
audience may not know their lift capacity and sheer power on the ground.
GEN. BARRY MCCAFFREY, MSNBC MILITARY ANALYST: Well, look, Brian, I was very
encouraged today to listen to Secretary Mark Esper, the Secretary of
Defense, telling us essentially they got their marching orders yesterday.
I`m sure in the background, General Mark Milley, the Chairman of the JCS
and the services have been actively getting ready to move when they get the
At the end of the day we`ve got 2.1 million men and women in the Armed
Forces, Active Guard Reserve. The Guard Reserve in particular are the
preponderance or logistics, our transportation, medevac, military police,
air police for security. They all have a role to play.
The actual delivery of health care services, the American in this crisis is
going to be primarily civilian. But what the military can do is they can
come in and help run operations centers, provide the security for the
hospital. The biggest asset the Department of Defense has is command and
control and contracting.
So rather than working through FEMA and HHS, it seemed to me the Secretary
of Defense probably ought to be the primary officer of government to deal
through the nation`s governors, county executives, and mayors to give them
the assets that they need to try and get their way through this absolutely
horrible disaster that`s awaiting us if we don`t act quickly. But they need
to mobilize. They need to get their orders now. They need to sort out on
the ground where the hot spots, where are they supposed to move to.
WILLIAMS: While we`re talking about my home county on the Jersey Shore,
Monmouth County, we have Fort Monmouth. Just like all the other military
bases that were made idle as they contracted, it`s a huge campus. It is
just sitting out there, not being used for much. What about the corps of
engineers, General? It`s New York`s Governor Cuomo who keeps saying send
them here, we need their building skills, we need to take over otherwise
MCCAFFREY: No question. Look, the corps of engineers` principal advantage
is they know how to do contracting and supervise projects, project
management. So they can do this through construction industry in the local
I would be, you know, very cautious about thinking about military
hospitals, field-prepared, blow-up structures instead of moving into either
military bases, which are all over the country, but more likely hotels and
schools near existing medical civilian facility. So I think what we need to
do in the Department of Defense is provide support to the civilian
structure again through the governors, the county executives, and the
mayors. You`re not going to be able to run this out of Washington, D.C. for
WILLIAMS: Final question is a personal one. How`s your community doing out
there in Seattle? How are you and your family holding up?
MCCAFFREY: Pretty good. We ended up at the epicenter of this thing. There`s
about 1,100 cases now that we know of. Undoubtedly there`s several thousand
more. The local political leadership, the governor is very straightforward.
They seem to know what they`re doing. They`ve a large extent closed down
the city. It was eerie coming in here. It reminded me after 9/11 coming to
30 Rock. So I think they`re focused on it.
But again, we need resources, assets, and the budget is probably the major
thing. Those hospital ships, by the way, remember we sent one of them to
Puerto Rico. And it saw some tiny number of patients because of
bureaucratic problems. So we need emergency authority to spend money and
provide contracts to civilian business to get behind this mass effort.
WILLIAMS: I hope everybody in the Pentagon with stars on their shoulders
are listening. General Barry McCaffrey, always a pleasure. Thank you. Best
of luck out there.
WILLIAMS: Coming up for us, they are the front lines in this fight. The
medical professionals who are begging and pleading for more of that
WILLIAMS: First responders all know the three letters PPE. Health care
workers on the front lines are battling this contagious virus, and they
desperately need PPE, personal protective equipment. It means gowns,
gloves, goggles, face shields, hand sanitizer, masks. Medical professionals
across the country are taking to social media themselves to warn the rest
of us, their potential customers after all, about these shortages.
Bloomberg reporting hospital workers in Washington State have resorted to
making face masks with office supplies because they don`t have enough.
Right now the CDC`s website is suggesting health care workers could, "use
homemade masks like a bandanna or scarf for care of patients as a last
resort. However, homemade masks are not considered PPE since their capacity
to protect the workers is unknown."
Here to talk about it with us tonight, Amy Lee Pacholk, a nurse At Stony
Brook University Hospital in New York, and on the telephone James Lewis, a
Respiratory Therapist, also with Stony Brook University Hospital. Amy, to
you first. Tell us what it`s like for you on the front lines so our
audience can, if they possibly are able, help in the fight.
AMY LEE PACHOLK, NURSE, STONY BROOK UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: So what we`re
seeing right now is a rise in patients coming in with COVID-19, varying
symptoms. Some are just coughing and being able to be put on the cores.
Some are being intubated and being in critical care areas. I work in a
critical care area.
My institution is like a lot of institutions in the sense that, we, the
practitioners, have a lot of fear and insecurity about this situation
because our institutions and the government have not provided us with the
appropriate equipment to properly protect ourselves to care for these
patients. So what will happen eventually and what is starting to happen now
is that the health care professionals are getting sick and we haven`t even
seen the height of this pandemic.
WILLIAMS: James, are you getting tested? And isn`t a test a snapshot in
time? So you may test negative for that day, you may be exposed the next?
JAMES LEWIS, RESPIRATORY THERAPIST, STONY BROOK UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL (via
telephone): No, sir. We haven`t been tested. And as far as I know, there
isn`t any conversation of us being tested. We`re just monitoring symptoms
and taking temperatures daily.
WILLIAMS: When you reach for equipment, when you reach in a drawer for a
mask, when you reach in a drawer for a face shield, is it there?
LEWIS (via telephone): Face shields and masks, no. They`re typically held
by the administrators because unfortunately they`re a hot commodity right
now. People are stealing them. You know, visitors steal them or anyone will
steal them. We even had somebody run into an E.R. and grab a box of masks
and run out. So, unfortunately, they have to be doled out on a case-by-case
basis, which can be frustrating. But I guess it`s only going to get worse
from here on out.
WILLIAMS: Hey, Amy, we`ve got Washington, D.C. full of members of the House
and Senate telling us what you need. If you had a chance to tell them what
you need, what would it be?
PACHOLK: We need N95 masks, we need Moldex masks. We need face shields to
cover our face. We need appropriate gowns and gloves to protect us. We need
specific things to protect our hair. The disease is airborne. And it is
So if we don`t have the appropriate equipment then we become vectors. And
we can spread the disease to our patients. We can bring the disease home to
our families, to our friends. And that would be incredibly horrible to do,
seeing that we should have the tools and the instruments we need to protect
ourselves and it`s just not possible at this time.
WILLIAMS: James, do you go home to other people at the end of the day? Are
you protecting yourself in terms of exposure, James, from friends and
family after work?
LEWIS (via telephone): Yes. My wife and I we`re both respiratory
therapists. And actually we just started tonight. I come home and I throw
my clothes on the floor in the garage and I take a shower in the basement
before I come up and we wash the clothes. So hopefully we`re not bringing
things in. But then of course we`re not going out into the public or seeing
any of our loved ones, who are keeping it in the house, so.
WILLIAMS: Well as I said, we`re all potential --
LEWIS (via telephone): -- every American does.
WILLIAMS: Yes. I know, I get it. As I said, we`re all potential customers
of yours and not in a good way. On behalf of a grateful nation and people
everywhere, thanks to our medical professionals, thanks for both of you for
Coming up for us tonight, the search for good to come out of this mess.
When we come back.
WILLIAMS: There is some encouraging news out of Italy, and every night
we`re going to give it a try and try to find some good news. The BBC is
reporting a 3D printing company in Italy has designed and printed 100
respirator valves after a hospital there ran out of them. They cost about a
dollar each. The prototype took about three hours to design.
According to an article in "Forbes," the coronavirus crisis may have an
upside. And we quote. "While the grave and tragic human toll of lost lives
cannot be measured, there is a silver lining. If the history of pandemics
is a guide, this contagion like all others, will spark a wave of
innovation, proportional to how it alters the shape of society."
We are so pleased to have our friend back with us tonight, Walter Isaacson,
distinguished fellow with the Aspen Institute, former editor of "TIME"
magazine, veteran journalist and author, biographer of, in no particular
order Franklin, Einstein, Kissinger, Jobs, and da Vinci. In his spare time,
he`s a professor of history at the Jewel of New Orleans, Tulane University.
Walter, thank you very much for coming on. I guess I want to know from you
what do you think we are at the beginning of right now and how is your
betting on America as you know it to get through what you think is coming?
WALTER ISAACSON, PROFESSOR OF HISTORY, TULANE UNIVERSITY: Well I think
America will get through it. It`s the most innovative country in history.
And as you said, sometimes tragedies like this have to spark innovation. I
think we`ll have new ways of doing supply chains. We`ll have printing on
demand. The whole notion of a global supply chain will probably break down
a bit but we`ll have more local manufacturing.
But most importantly, I think it will be a century of biotechnology. I
think people watching this who are young today will say all right, the past
half century, the last part of the 20th century, was an info technology
revolution. This is going to be a biology revolution, a biotech revolution,
and it`s going to come with people understanding viruses, understanding how
to do genetic editing, understanding new technologies like CRISPR because
those are going to be so much in demand.
WILLIAMS: Let me run a theory by you. In all the history you`ve studied and
know about, has there ever been a single individual who will have, even
though it`s socioeconomic, who will have as big a control over our supply
chain as Jeff Bezos and Amazon and the role they`re about to play in
getting stuff to American homes that can afford it?
ISAACSON: Well, yes. I mean, that`s one of the innovations that came after
the SARS crisis, was a whole lot of online shopping. And I think, you know,
you`re going to see that now. But there is a hunger that people have to
actually be together. We thought that online shopping would destroy the
retail industry just as we thought Walmart might. But people do want to get
out and get together. So I think once we create vaccines and treatments
for, this whether it`s in six months or 18 months, I don`t think we`re
going to just be shopping online.
WILLIAMS: So we can assume that the engine of American industry, science,
technology, we`re all motivated to work toward a cure toward therapeutics
for this, we can assume that they`re going to be running hell-bent for
leather toward that goal.
ISAACSON: Oh, everybody is. I was just in communication with Jennifer
Dowden, one of the co-inventors of the gene-editing technology CRISPR, and
they`re holding meetings about how do you find new detection technologies,
how do you find new ways to fight viruses. You know, bacteria have been
fighting viruses for 3 billion years, and one of the things that we`ve done
in biotech recently is take from bacteria some of the ways that they fight
against viruses. So I think you`re going to see this type of innovation
just like after World War Ii, where the government, academia, and private
enterprise all work together to create things like the computer, the
internet, and the microchip.
WILLIAMS: We try to keep religion out of this kind of thing, but your lips
to God`s ears. Walter Isaacson, thank you.
ISAACSON: Thank you very much.
WILLIAMS: We`re probably going to ask to talk to you along the way. We
greatly appreciate being able to interview you tonight.
Coming up for us, a brief tour of our new reality in this business.
WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight, is just a quick word about us
and what we do around here. We are coming to you tonight from what will be
our temporary headquarters for the duration, for the foreseeable future.
It`s a satellite studio where I can do the broadcast here alone and be
outside the city of New York. Most of our staff is at home, producing via
computer. So we`ve all separated.
The broadcast you watch and are watching now are going to look different if
they don`t already. You`re going to see more Skype interviews. You`re going
to hear more telephone interviews. There are going to be longer satellite
delays. No more in-person guest interviews.
As we try to practice what we preach, as we attempt television in an age of
social distancing with a big assist thankfully from technology. So, in
hopes that you are taking care of yourselves and each other. That is for
now our broadcast for this Wednesday night. Thank you so much for being
here with us. Good night.
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