ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: I`m Ali Velshi. I`m going to see you tomorrow morning as usual from 8:00 to 10:00 a.m. right here on MSNBC. But in this extraordinary times, as Richard says, I will also see you at 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. tomorrow night. "The 11th Hour" with Brian Williams begins now.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Good evening once again. As we look at a barren and empty Times Square in New York City, this was day 1,156 of the Trump administration. 228 days until the presidential election. It`s been nine days since the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic.
And while there is no joy in saying this whatsoever, despite the numbers you are hearing each day from the White House briefing room, the cavalry is not going to make it in time to save some people. In fact, for some, the cavalry is not coming at all. It`s happening too quickly. We lost too much time.
That`s why the advice from doctors is when around other people, act like you have the virus. Act as a sick person would. And if we all do, we can all manage to keep our distance. Then, weirdly, it`s distance that will keep us together and alive when we reach the other end of this. And we end this incredibly difficult week in our country. We are now at 18,000 cases, give or take, about four times the number of cases when we started this week. And who among us didn`t expect to read some version of this?
We`re now learning from "The Washington Post" that U.S. intelligence agencies were issuing ominous classified warnings in January and February about the global danger from coronavirus while President Trump and lawmakers played down the threat and took no action to slow its spread.
Also tonight, a staff member in the Vice President`s office has tested positive. First known positive test for the virus among White House personnel in the west wing. Pence`s office says this individual had no close contact with the V.P. or the President. This news comes as more states are taking drastic measures to try to contain this virus.
When we were on the air last night, we talked about California`s Governor, Gavin Newsom, ordering all residents to effectively stay in their homes. Today the governors of Connecticut, Illinois, and New York followed suit with similar mandates.
GOV. J.B. PRITZKER (D-IL): I don`t come to this decision easily. I fully recognize that in some cases, I am choosing between saving people`s lives and saving people`s livelihoods. But ultimately, you can`t have a livelihood if you don`t have your life.
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): We`re going to close the valve, all right? Because the rate of increase in the number of cases portends a total overwhelming of our hospital system. We need everyone to be safe. Otherwise, no one can be safe.
WILLIAMS: And think about this. New York State now has the most cases in the U.S., over 7,800. Just tonight, the President responding to a request from both New York senators, approved a disaster declaration for the state which will allow it to receive federal assistance. But, yes, for headline purposes, this now makes New York a federal disaster area.
Europe has become the global epicenter for the outbreak as of right now. In Italy, just today, the death toll rose by 627. That`s the highest in a single day. While U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson launched a new nationwide lockdown telling cafes and pubs and bars and restaurants to close.
President Trump today officially suspended most nonessential traffic across the U.S./Mexico border as threatened. Trump also insisted he`s using his authority under the defense production act to speed up manufacturing, but he gave no clear indication of what is exactly being done.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I invoked the Defense Production Act, and last night we put it into gear.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you`re using it now to tell businesses they need to make ventilators, masks, respirators?
TRUMP: For certain things that we need --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.
TRUMP: -- including some of the very important emergency. I would say ventilators, probably more masks to a large extent. We have millions of masks which are coming.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You haven`t actually directed any companies to start making more ventilators or masks, right?
TRUMP: I have. I have, yes. I have.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How many?
TRUMP: A lot.
WILLIAMS: We were given no follow-up evidence as to what he was talking about there. Senate Republicans will be working this weekend trying to hammer out a stimulus bill to help Americans affected by the economic fallout from the pandemic. The goal is to have a bill ready for a vote on Monday.
"Wall Street Journal" notes that under the Senate Republicans` opening proposal, Americans who don`t make enough money to pay income taxes would be eligible for up to only $600. Trump did announce that April 15, the tax deadline, would be pushed back. The suspension of some federal student loan payments as well.
TRUMP: We`re moving tax day from April 15th to July 15th. Families and businesses will have this extra time to file with no interest or penalties. Secretary DeVos has directed federal lenders to allow borrowers to suspend their student loans and loan payments without penalty for at least the next 60 days, and if we need more, we`ll extend that period of time.
WILLIAMS: Meanwhile, one member of that White House task force revealed a new clue as to the nature of this virus and who is more likely to survive once infected.
DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: From Italy, we`re seeing another concerning trend that the mortality in males seems to be twice in every age group of females.
WILLIAMS: Dr. Anthony Fauci, you see him there onstage, also tried to manage expectations concerning one of President Trump`s pronouncements, the anti-malaria drug that the President was talking up so aggressively yesterday. Trump said the FDA had approved it for the virus. Not true. He thinks it could be a game-changer. Here is Fauci on that subject.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there any evidence to suggest that as with malaria, it might be used as a prophylaxis against COVID-19?
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY & INFECTIOUS DISEASES: The answer is no. We`re trying to strike a balance between making something with a potential of an effect to the American people available at the same time that we do it under the auspices of a protocol that would give us information to determine if it`s truly safe and truly effective. But the information that you`re referring to specifically is anecdotal.
WILLIAMS: Now, that right there set the stage for this exchange between our NBC News White House Correspondent Peter Alexander and the President.
PETER ALEXANDER, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, NBC NEWS: What do you say to the Americans who are scared, though? I guess nearly 200 dead. 14,000 who are sick, millions, as you witnessed, who are scared right now. What do you say to Americans who are watching you right now who are scared?
TRUMP: I say that you`re a terrible reporter. That`s what I say. Go ahead. I think it`s a very nasty question, and I think it`s a very bad signal that you`re putting out to the American people. The American people are looking for answers, and they`re looking for hope, and you`re doing sensationalism and the same with NBC and Concast. I don`t call it Comcast. I call it Concast.
Let me just -- for whom you work. Let me just tell you something. That`s really bad reporting, and you ought to get back to reporting instead of sensationalism. Let`s see if it works. It might, and it might not. I happen to feel good about it, but who knows? I`ve been right a lot. Let`s see what happens.
WILLIAMS: So there was that from the President of the United States today. Peter Alexander later talked about that exchange on-air.
ALEXANDER: In TV terms, we call this a softball. I was trying to provide the President an opportunity to reassure the millions of Americans, members of my own family and my neighbors in my community, and plenty of people sitting at home right now. This was his opportunity to do that, to provide a sort of positive or uplifting message. Instead, you saw the President`s answer to that question.
WILLIAMS: Meanwhile, two U.S. senators are under pressure to explain some conveniently timed stock sales amid the coronavirus. Senator Richard Burr has reported himself to the ethics committee after ProPublica revealed that after reassuring Americans that the government was prepared to combat the virus, "the powerful chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee sold off a significant percentage of his stocks". Burr defended his statement to NBC News saying he relied solely on public news reports to guide my decision.
Burr is taking heat from his fellow Republican Senator from North Carolina, the up for re-election Thom Tillis, now saying Senator Burr owes North Carolinians an explanation, and there needs to be a professional and bipartisan inquiry into this matter. Georgia Senator Kelly Loeffler is defending herself after "The Daily Beast" reported she dumped millions in stock after she received a coronavirus briefing. She has since said she had no knowledge of the sale. Here`s what she told Tucker Carlson on Fox News just tonight.
SEN, KELLY LOEFFLER (R-GA): These were called closed meetings. They weren`t classified, they were closed. But as soon as I got out, the information was already on twitter. It was in the public domain. None of us believe today what we believed on February 1st.
WILLIAMS: On that, here with us for our leadoff discussion on a Friday night, Ashley Parker, Pulitzer Prize-winning White House Reporter for "The Washington Post." David Leonhardt, Pulitzer Prize-winning Columnist for "The New York Times," where he is also co-host of "The Argument" podcast. And Thomas Frieden, the Director of the CDC from 2009 to 2017 under President Obama. Before that, he spent seven years as the health commissioner for the city of New York.
Ashley, I`d like to begin with you and the reason today we were recalling the headline "Bin Laden determined to strike in the U.S." That was August 6th of 2001. Is this story in "The Post" tonight -- and let`s quote one of the quotes in the story. "Donald Trump may not have been expecting this, but a lot of other people in the government were. They just couldn`t get him to do anything about it. The system was blinking red." Last time we heard the term "blinking red" was the investigation into what went wrong prior to 9/11. Is this his administration`s version of that?
ASHLEY PARKER, MSNBC SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST Well, we had long known at least that the President`s aides had a tough time getting his attention. But what this reporting does is it goes much further, and it says that his own intelligence community as early as January was sending him these messages, trying to get his attention. They were alert to this. They were warning that this was coming.
They didn`t necessarily know the specifics, and they weren`t offering a plan of action because that`s outside of their purview. But it does say much like with Bush on 9/11 that had the President been heeding these warnings, he could have taken action far, far sooner than he did. And he should have in those weeks when he was saying it was a hoax and it was not many cases and it was going to go away as if some miracle. If he had been listening to these warnings from his own intelligence community, he would have likely had a very -- or should have at least had a very different response.
WILLIAMS: I should say, by the way, our thanks to so many of our guests like these three who have taken the trouble to join us by Skype from their own homes given our current reality. Dr. Frieden, 75 million Americans are now under orders to stay at home. Is -- Further, many more millions are doing so voluntarily. Is that at least a good start?
DR. THOMAS FRIEDEN, FMR. CDC DIRECTOR: It`s really important. The risk here is that there will be so many cases so quickly that they can overwhelm our capacity to safely care for them in our intensive care units. That`s what we`re seeing today in Italy. That`s what we have seen in Wuhan, China. And that`s what we want to avoid in New York City and elsewhere.
Really, there are two things that happen when you ask people to essentially shelter in place. The first is you drive down the number of new infections. the second is you buy yourself time to rapidly improve the preparedness of the health care system for seeing large numbers of patients and potentially large numbers of people who need intensive care. In fact, that`s that same time that we had after the travel ban from China that we didn`t really make optimal use of. That travel ban did absolutely help, but it`s only justifiable really if we use that time optimally two prepare ourselves for the oncoming wave of cases.
WILLIAMS: Indeed. And I`ve heard the phrase "If you lose a week now, you end up getting a month of it later on." David, I don`t mean to be smart here, but we have learned a lesson this week. If you need financial advice, don`t pay a broker. Ask your U.S. senator. Talk about this story and how big it`s going to get.
DAVID LEONHARDT, COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I mean, it`s really amazing. So I think we`re still trying to sort through exactly what Senator Loeffler from Georgia did, because she sold large amounts of stock, and the patterns of the companies that she was buying and selling in is somewhat suspicious. It looks like people who did it may have known that something like a bad virus was coming. But she insists that it was all in a blind trust and she played no role in the decision. I think the burden is on her to prove that and to prove that there was absolutely no connection between her knowledge.
The case of Senator Burr, from North Carolina, at this point, he doesn`t really even have a defense. He has claimed that he was acting only on public information. He cited your sister network, CNBC. But there is no way to get inside his head and actually prove that he somehow was separating the private information he was receiving as a senator. And it`s just a really, really terrible thing for a senator to do at a time that he was also telling Americans not to worry that much about the virus.
WILLIAMS: And, Ashley, make no mistake, this is a distraction and not the story in chief, of course. But with so many eyes focused on the White House, talk about your reporting tonight, "The Week That Was" inside the White House, and especially what you`ve reported tonight about the role of Hope Hicks?
PARKER: So, this week we saw some very stark pivots by the President. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday he actually struck generally the calm, measured, responsible tone that his aides had long been pushing for. And in reporting and trying to understand why, part of it was the numbers. The markets were falling. He knew that was serious. The number of cases in the data and presentations he was being shown were going up. He was getting regular briefings from the Vice President with good numbers.
But a number of people cited Hope Hicks. She is a longtime confidant, his former communications director. She left the White House, she moved to L.A., and she is now back. And they said that she is a calming presence for the President and that there would be a task force meeting, and then before they go out to the news conference, they all gather in the Oval Office where they sort of strategize on the plan. And Hope would be one of those people who would kind of help steer and guide the President towards a more measured, more responsible tone. And so she has played a big role behind the scenes.
That being said, of course, we saw Thursday and especially today the President did not sustain this tone. The President is capable of discipline for short periods of time, but he often sort of tethers his mood to cable news cycle and that`s why you saw that frustration erupt today at a number of reporters, but especially NBC`s Peter Alexander.
WILLIAMS: Dr. Frieden, speaking of these White House briefings, there are straight-up falsehoods. There are mistruths being voiced from the podium and sometimes, let`s be honest, from the President of the United States, stating falsely yesterday the FDA had approved the malaria drug for the treatment of this virus. How should people regard these briefings because then we get the very serious visage of the Vice President throwing out stats on masks and ventilators that we`ve yet to see being used for patient care.
FRIEDEN: What concerns me most is the lack of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at the table making decisions and also at the podium explaining those decisions. The CDC is our lead public health agency. There`s a center at CDC. CDC overall has more than 20,000 health professionals.
There`s a center called the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Disease. They have over 700 health professionals that work on this very issue. And fighting this pandemic without the CDC right there central to the decisions is like fighting with one hand tied behind your back.
WILLIAMS: David, you and Ashley of course are both Pulitzer recipients. You won yours for your writing about the last recession. Can you, tonight, give us a damage assessment so far to the U.S. economy and your take on whether or not 600 bucks to people at the low end is going to cut it? LEONHARDT: It won`t. The latest reporting that I`m hearing from the Hill is that the Democrats have succeeded in forcing the Republicans to give the same amount of money to lower income people that they were going to give to middle income people, which I think is progress. But, Brian, I remember 12 years ago seeing numbers in things like the monthly job reports that I`d never seen before and never expected to see in terms of the scale of the loss. And we`re early, so there`s a lot of uncertainty.
But I`m now having that feeling again, and what that means is that these numbers are even worse than they were in the financial crisis. I mean if you look at the projected declines in GDP in the second quarter that some financial firms were projecting today for the economy as a whole, they were remarkable. They were numbers in the teens. One was suggesting that we could have an annualized rate of more than 20 percent decline. I mean that looks like a depression.
And what`s particularly disappointing about it is that if we`d had a faster response to the virus from the Trump administration, some of this could have been avoided because the spread of the virus wouldn`t have been as bad. As you said, losing a week now costs a month later and that`s both in terms of lives, but it`s also in terms of the damage to our economy.
WILLIAMS: Please let us call on all of you to do this again at your earliest convenience. Two must-read bylines and one must listen to physician. Ashley Parker, David Leonhardt, Dr. Thomas Frieden, our thanks for starting us off tonight.
Coming up for us on this Friday evening, this virus has virus has shown a special cruelty toward seniors, the most endangered demographic group in our country right now. Tonight, a look at the effort to shield them.
And later, one of the many huge changes to this new normal. The disappearance of all of our national pastimes. "The 11th Hour" just getting started on yet another consequential Friday night.
MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D-NY): No one should come in contact with anyone over 50 with those pre-existing conditions or over 70 in general without checking first to see if you have a temperature. Use a thermometer. If you have a temperature over 100, you should not be in contact with anyone in those vulnerable categories.
WILLIAMS: The Mayor of New York today. Americans are being asked to take every precaution possible to help suppress the spread of this coronavirus. Remember, though, that will only, at its best, slow the problem and not stop it. In densely populated cities like New York, where there`s been an explosion of confirmed cases, there are pleas for more help.
DE BLASIO: If help doesn`t come, we`re going to lose people who should not die. Where the hell is the federal government?
WILLIAMS: With us for more tonight, Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, an infectious diseases physician and the Medical Director of the Special Pathogens Unit up at in B.U. School of Medicine in Boston. She worked along with the World Health Organization during the West African Ebola epidemic, also among our medical contributors. Dr., again, it was a joyless piece of work on my part to say at the top of the broadcast tonight. For some folks, the cavalry`s not coming, and this is the time to hunker and take some worst-case scenario predictions seriously. What aren`t we doing enough of, and what are we doing wrong in your view?
DR. NAHID BHADELIA, INFECTIOUS DISEASE PHYSICIAN: Yes. I think one of the main things is we need to make it more obvious to the public why this is important, and I think you`ve done this and others have done this really about why it is that we need fewer people to get sick. So, you just mentioned about vulnerable populations, and those who were elderly. The best way to keep our loved ones who are older or who have medical conditions is to stay healthy ourselves. And by doing that, we avoid a potential -- another person potentially getting sick and then ending up in the emergency room or in the hospital.
One of the things that I think is also getting missed a little bit is the anxiety and amount of stress that hospitals are currently facing in many metropolitan areas in terms of the resources that they see potentially not mapping out to meet the need as the number of patients increase.
WILLIAMS: What do we do about the folks who believe they have the super power of immunity, in some cases because they`re young and on spring break and frolicking on a beach in Florida that happens to be still open until the end of this weekend? In other cases, social media is full of people having lunch or dinner with their pals. It`s still full of allegations that this is somehow a media-created illness. What do we do about that aspect of our society?
BHADELIA: I think I wish that I could take those people who are out there to show them what it looks like in the emergency rooms already across the country right now. How busy those places have become and how when this increases, it`s going to be a burden there. But the main thing to know is we know now from even data here in the United States that people of every age can get sick. There are vulnerable people in every age group.
And so even if you`re young, that does not make you immune. There`s a chance that you might get this, and you may have a tough course of it. We`re seeing young people get admitted already in our emergency rooms who are younger than what we would have expected to see.
I honestly think that`s one of the main things. And the other is to stress, you know, it`s not to protect strangers. It`s really to protect even our loved ones who are in our life.
WILLIAMS: And I was going to ask about significant other, someone you share a house or apartment with. One of you, 50 percent of you comes down with flu-like symptoms. What is the first-line advice for that scenario?
BHADELIA: Yes. The first -- the CDC has actually a wonderful resource on their website. One of the main things is to ensure that you don`t need access to medical care immediately. And you do that by contacting your medical provider and ensuring that you should really actually be staying home and not getting medical care immediately.
When you are at home, practice the same thing that you do elsewhere, which is keep a distance from the person who`s sick. The main goal in that scenario is to decrease the amount of virus that`s around because you have someone who is sick in the house. So keeping a distance from them and then cleaning all the common surfaces and common objects such as remote controls or potentially phones, things you wouldn`t think of. But first and foremost is to potentially make sure that people who are sick can provide care for themselves. And if that`s the case, you don`t have to have as much interaction between the people who are sick and people who are well in the house.
WILLIAMS: We`ll be respectful of your hours and your day job, but we`d love to talk to you again. You`ve been terrific. Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
Coming up for us, some governors say it`s time to call in the military on a much bigger scale. A gulf war veteran who served as commander of Joint Task Force Katrina is standing by to talk to us.
WILLIAMS: Welcome back. More and more state governors are ordering up the deployment of the National Guard. As of this morning, over 3,300 air and army National Guard members in over half of our states now. 27 of them are now supporting the response efforts at the direction of those governors.
Retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General Russel Honore led the relief effort on the ground in New Orleans in the days following Hurricane Katrina. He is, as you may have guessed by looking at him, a 37-year veteran of the U.S. Army. His book, by the way, is called "Leadership in the New Normal," and he`s been kind enough to join us tonight from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
General, first of all, it`s great to see you. Thank you for coming in. Secondly, there`s nothing easier for civilians and officeholders than to talk about calling up the guard and ready reserve. It`s made a little more complicated in this case because they all have to leave their homes and families where they might have been quarantining. Talk about the guard and ready reserve and talk about the capability that they have that we have not tapped yet.
LIEUTENANT GENERAL RUSSEL HONORE, JOINT TASK FORCE KATRINA COMMANDER: Well, our guard is our home force. They`re at the beck and call of the governor. This is what they live for. That`s why they`re in the state. That`s their first mission to respond to missions as assigned by the governor of particular states. And we`ve seen some great examples in New York and down here in Louisiana. Within hours, guard units were mobilized, and they were out actually doing test stations, mobile testing stations, and assisting with logistics in both states. And this happened across the country. As the guards show up, they don`t need to exchange business cards with the local officials because they know them. They train all the time for disasters in our states, and they`re the ideal first force to call. And then they are backed up by Army Reserve and our active duty DOD, which has some capacity beyond the medical and logistics capacity that`s in the guard, that`s dealing with sustainment and logistics.
Brian, one of the big dogs that the President hadn`t unleashed on this problem is the DOD logistics management system called the DLA, Defense Logistics Agency, that could be working with the Department of Health in determining what is the total asset visibility of supplies on hand. Now, break that down into civilian terms, what do you have in your state? What do you have in each hospital? What do you have in each county? Until we know that, we will not be able to work out the numerations for the days of supply that`s available in each state. If we don`t, the first governor is going to put an order in for 50 million masks, and that might be a 30-day supply. Then places like New Orleans or Los Angeles may fall short.
I know that`s a long answer, but I hope we can follow up on that point because logistic supply and demand has to be worked out if the government is going to turn the corner on this where our audio and our video start matching from the White House.
WILLIAMS: Yeah. To your point, I hope somebody in the West Wing is watching. This is the cavalry. They will come, but they have to be called first. And, General, just remind people what their medical capability is. Some of these states are going to need what civilians call field hospitals.
HONORE: Yeah. We have a limited number of those. The ones we have are focused on trauma. When we call up the reserves or when we mobilize those two ships, we actually pull military doctors that are on military installation, army bases, army posts and navy and air force bases to man, those hospitals.
We still have to maintain our wartime footing because all those units have wartime missions. So if we pull up the reserve, guess what? We`re going to be pulling doctors out of hospitals to reinforce areas inside the country.
I think a better idea, Brian -- let`s start this idea. This is -- we`re already into May. Graduate all the nurses, senior nurses in every university in the country. Graduate them now. We had to do that in World War II as well as all allied help. Graduate all the doctors that are ready to graduate in May. Give them their white coats now, and we will exponentially increase the available doctors and nurses.
We`ve got to think outside the box. The President talks about wartime footing. We`ve got to break some more of the rules and get the governors and those hospitals the help they need. And I do believe in the reserve corps. There are many tasks that retired doctors can still work on pundits and free the rest of the surgeons to deal with people that are sick from the virus.
We`ve got to mobilize the country if we`re going to get this down because right now the White House is saying one thing that does not match what`s going on in hospitals around the country. And the governors are not going to say anything contrary to what the White House said because you remember what happened to the mayor of Puerto Rico if you say something out of line with what the White House say. We got to get past this and start speaking the truth.
I saw the mayor of New York today had a pretty clear message as well as the governor of New York on what the requirements are. I think the White House got to try to meet those demands and bring in the Department of Defense logistics to help make that happen, Brian.
WILLIAMS: And that`s why I was so happy to see Russel Honore roll into town when we were in New Orleans after Katrina. General, it`s a pleasure to listen to you. I just hope people beyond this conversation are listening. Russel Honore from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, tonight.
Coming up, the place where people go to get away, to cut loose, cannot get out of the path of this virus. There it is. We`ll talk to two folks from there right after this.
WILLIAMS: Well, there`s a new edition to the iconic welcome to Vegas sign. The friendly reminder about social distancing and how to put this gently. The reason what happens in Vegas is supposed to stay in Vegas is often related to the opposite of social distancing. It`s a strange sight. Casinos, bars, restaurants, clubs closed for at least 28 more days. The Vegas strip is pretty much deserted. It`s the first time the strip has gone dark since the Kennedy assassination.
Back with us tonight is Jon Ralston, Veteran Journalist and Editor at the Nevada Independent. And we welcome to the broadcast Jayde Powell. She`s a premed student at the University of Nevada in Reno. She started a volunteer group called Shopping Angels that helps the sick and elderly by doing their shopping for them.
John, I`d like to begin with you. I last saw you in the taxi line at a casino on a Saturday night after the Nevada caucus. All was well. All was normal. Talk about the economic impact. How many jobs have been idled?
JON RALSTON, THE NEVADA INDEPENDENT: Tens of thousands. It`s going to end up being hundreds of thousands by the time it`s over, Brian. It`s absolutely crushed this city. It is the eeriest thing you can imagine. You`re right, you and I were together. It was teeming with people.
Now there`s nobody on the strip, on the Las Vegas strip of all places. It`s absolutely destroyed that industry, at least temporarily. They`re going to be closed for at least 30 days. It may end up being longer.
The governor has now come out with a very strong order that essentially everything but essential businesses have to be closed. You can call it a shutdown, a partial shutdown. It is going to have a devastating effect on this economy, Brian, because the state budget and local government budgets here are essentially built on gaming and sales taxes. There are no gaming and sales taxes right now. And it`s going to have a really bad impact on the economy. There`s going to have to be a special session of the legislature, and it just depends. You and I don`t know how long this is going to last, right? Is it going to be two months? Is it going to be six months? We just don`t know.
WILLIAMS: So, Jade, Las Vegas is built around hospitality and, by extension, kind of the rest of the state. But for the people who live there, it`s just home. Tell the good people watching about the good deeds you`re doing out there.
JAYDE POWELL, SHOPPING ANGELS FOUNDER: Yeah, of course. So Shopping Angels is a free delivery program that I designed for people who are more high risk population. So this includes seniors or those with heart, lung or immune conditions. So my volunteer group will go to stores, maybe multiple stores to go get your groceries for you and then exchange cash at the time of delivery so that those people who are at risk don`t have to expose themselves to any strangers or have to go to public places that may have a lot of contingents on them.
WILLIAMS: And Jayde, tell me about you. When do you hope to complete your med school degree?
POWELL: So I`m a pre-med student at the moment. So I will be applying to medical school in a couple years. So that`s well off in the future for me.
WILLIAMS: And for every other parent watching, tell me you`re taking precautions in dealing with people and going about your volunteer work.
POWELL: Yes. So every volunteer does get an introductory email from their state coordinators that says the general precautions to continue practicing good hand hygiene because that`s one of the best ways, and to practice social distancing even while you`re delivering. And then our volunteers are also instructed to wear gloves, rubber or latex is fine. And we do ask them to wear a mask when available. We know that there is a shortage, so many of our volunteers wear bandannas and scar scarves to cover their mouths so they don`t breathe on the items and stuff like that. So we try to protect the safety of both clients and volunteers.
WILLIAMS: Jon, let`s talk about the food and beverage workers. Let`s talk about the very same people we talked about as a huge potential voting bloc during the Nevada caucus, the people who clean the rooms, the people who drive the cabs, serve all the beverages, work the tables. What are they all going to do to sustain life?
RALSTON: It`s a really good question, Brian. Now, a lot of these casino companies are doing right by their workers. They`re paying them even though they`re not working now. They`re maintaining their health benefits. Different companies are doing it in different ways. Some are being more generous than others, but generally they`ve really stepped up.
But these companies are getting crushed, Brian. You`ve already heard talk of a potential bailout of the gaming industry. Nobody knows what that would look like. You had the local lobbying arm here of the Nevada Resort Association come out with a paper today saying that the economic impact could be as big as $40 billion if these casinos have to remain shuttered for a while. But you and I know what the problem is, Brian. You have 3 million people a month plus coming through this city and going into these casinos. You can`t open them up again. That`s a petri dish for the spread of this disease.
So the governor has essentially said that the tradeoff between the economic devastation and the potential for this to spread, he talked to medical professionals that they essentially told him you got to shut these places down, or it`s going to last much longer. I think he hopes it`s only a month or two. But again, Brian, I go back to say something the people in our business don`t say too often. We just don`t know, do we? We don`t know when the so-called curve is going to flatten out. And those workers you`re talking about are really going to be hurt by this.
WILLIAMS: That is the truth. To Jon Ralston, to Jayde Powell, hang in there. Thank you for joining us. We`ll check back in with you both and with your city.
Coming up, what happens when a main source of distraction and entertainment disappears in hard times?
WILLIAMS: Welcome back. Remember the NBA? Remember when we filled out NCAA brackets and the office pool? Seems so quaint now. Remember baseball? There`s no sports. We knew the one guy to talk to about that, and he`s back with us tonight.
Mike Pesca, host of the slate podcast called the Gist. He`s also the author of Upon Further Review: The Greatest What-Ifs in Sports History, which I`m sure will be revised and updated after this what if that nobody is coming.
Mike, I may not want to hear the answer, but what are sports fans doing with no sports? There it is, you got to get these directions down. What are sports fans doing with no sports, and what are they betting on, not that there`s ever any wagering in sports?
MIKE PESCA, SLATE HOST OF "THE GIST" PODCAST: They`re betting on the weather. Literally some of these online sites are taking bets on the weather. They`re betting on politics. Without sports, I have felt it like a phantom limb where I`ve reached for a remote and then realized, oh, there`s no game there. And at first I was a little -- I felt a little guilty about it because sports are entertainment and they`re frivolous, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that sports are actually about community. And I thought about how a Mets game with Liza Minnelli singing brought New York together after 9/11, and the Yankees being in the world series did the same, and the Red Sox after the bombing of the Boston Marathon and just absent tragedy what the Green Bay Packers mean to Wisconsin and how Cheesehead defines that state more than the word Wisconsinite.
So sports is togetherness, and this is a time without togetherness. So it`s more than just a lack of distraction. It`s a lack of community, and that`s maybe what hurts the most.
WILLIAMS: Because you follow it and because you`re an all-around smart guy, I need some predictions from you. Will we see baseball played this year? Will we watch the summer Olympics? Will we see the scheduled start of the NFL season?
PESCA: Summer Olympics may be the fall Olympics. Baseball, I think, will be played. They`re looking for pushing it back to May. But when we say baseball, we should mean major league baseball, and this is going to hit the minor leagues extremely hard. They don`t have cushions. They operate on thin margins. There was already a plan to eliminate a bunch of minor league teams. I don`t see how they can avoid it.
And other sports, and Adam Silver was saying this in an interview on ESPN that they know no more than we do. They are as dependent on the virus as anyone else, and they want to be out there, and they want to be leaders and distractions, and they want to make money for themselves. But they can`t know more than we do. And they`re not going to do anything more dangerous than any other institution in society.
WILLIAMS: Yeah, I`m a NASCAR fan. I`m worried about small tracks that were already on the edge. This weekend they`re going to race computer versions. I need internal combustion to make me go. Mike Pesca, if it`s OK with you, you have a lovely home. We`d like to invite you on as this gets a little longer in the tooth. Thank you very much. We`ll be listening to you in the interim.
Coming up, just one family amid all the families already touched and already robbed by this virus.
WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight, if even a fraction of the most dire coronavirus projections come to pass, then we are going to lose people from our lives. Families across this country are mourning losses of their own already, as are those of us who are members of the NBC News family.
Our friend and co-worker and fellow traveler Larry Edgeworth has died after testing positive for the virus. While you may not have known him or his name, his work came into your home on a regular basis.
On countless shoots around the world, Larry was our sound guy, our audio man. And we traveled the world together, the Middle East, Iraq, Afghanistan, countless interviews with presidents, Hurricane Katrina speaking of General Honore, and so many other natural disasters.
He loved his work and was superb at it, and we loved him. Cool as a cucumber, old-school gracious and warm and kind and tireless. In an exhausting and often dangerous business.
Larry Edgeworth was 61. Our condolences to his wife, Crystal and their two boys. The world he leaves behind is still full of sounds. All that`s missing is a man who knew how to capture them all so well.
That is our broadcast for this Friday night and for this week. On behalf of all of my colleagues here at the networks of NBC News, good night from our temporary field headquarters.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END