BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening once again. Day 1159 of the Trump administration. 225 days until our next presidential election.
And if you were watching the White House briefing earlier tonight, then you know nothing but good news. The President says it will be over very soon, that businesses will be open very soon, and we should await the OK to get going.
He says the vaccines are coming along very quickly. They are fixing the problem. He emphasized this is a medical problem, not economic, and he said the mortality rate number may be lower than people think.
Now, we should point out in the real world, the U.S. has the highest rate of increase in the world, and our numbers rocketed up again today. And, again, we don`t know how many people have it in this country because people can`t get tested so much of the time. Of those tested, we know we have over 43,000. And the number of deaths just went up by at least 137 just today. As we come on the air tonight, the death toll currently stands at 533.
The U.S. remains way behind where we should be in this fight right now. Our economy is going into a forced kind of sleep mode, and unemployment claims are higher than they have ever been in our history.
The International Monetary Fund is now warning the pandemic is likely to cause a global recession before the end of this calendar year.
Early this morning Trump posted a message all in caps that said, "WE CANNOT LET THE PROBLEM BE WORSE THAN THE CURE ITSELF." This has become his new theme effective today. And he said a lot more about it during tonight`s marathon White House briefing where he signaled his willingness to scale back some of these recent measures taken to try to stop the virus.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R) UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: America continues to mobilize every segment of our society to turn the tide in the battle against the virus. I want Americans to know that we will get through this challenge. The hardship will end. It will end soon. Normal life will return, and our economy will rebound. We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself. This is not a country that was built for this. It was not built to be shut down.
At the end of the 15-day period, we`ll make a decision as to which way we want to go, where we want to go, the timing, and essentially we`re referring to the timing of the opening, essentially the opening of our country. We have almost 160 million jobs in this country now, the most ever by far, by far the most ever. The number of jobs, almost 160 million. So we can`t turn that off and think it`s going to be wonderful. There will be tremendous repercussions. There will be tremendous death from that. Death, you know, you`re talking about death, probably more death from that than anything we`re talking about with respect to the virus.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Meanwhile the Senate is paralyzed, just what Americans want to hear right about now. They`re deadlocked on a nearly $2 trillion emergency bailout bill. This is the second time in as many days the Senate has failed to move forward with an aid package. A big sticking point here, the $500 billion the bill would set aside for federal loans for states, cities, businesses. The bitter partisan tension was clearly evident today on the Senate floor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We Democrats are trying to get things done, not making partisan speech after partisan speech. Leader McConnell continues to set arbitrary vote deadlines when the matter of real importance is the status of the bipartisan negotiations.
SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL, (R) KENTUCKY MAJORITY LEADER: For days now we`ve been engaged in intense bipartisan talks to build emergency relief legislation on an historic scale. But yesterday when the time came to vote on these urgent measures, our democratic colleagues chose to block it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: We should also point out there are members of the Senate missing. They`re dealing with members directly affected by the outbreak. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota today announced her husband has tested positive for the virus and is, in fact, being hospitalized. Earlier this evening, the senator spoke to Rachel Maddow.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR, (D) MINNESOTA: I would love to be at my husband`s side right now, but instead I`m with you, which is fine, on this show. But it is so hard because you want to talk to the doctor and be there. You want to see what the oxygen levels are. You want to bring flowers, and you can`t do any of that, and that`s going to happen to everyone. The American people should not settle for what they`ve had to date, which is not enough tests, not enough equipment, and that`s why I`m here tonight.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Yesterday Senator Republican of Kentucky, Senator Rand Paul revealed he had tested positive for the virus. Today as he was being criticized for being tested despite having no symptoms, he insisted more Americans should be able to be tested. Senator Paul, who we hasten to add is a doctor, had used the Senate gym and had been in close contact with senators while waiting for his results. One of those senators is Mitt Romney. Here`s how his close friend, the President, reacted to the news yesterday that Romney is in quarantine.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Romney is in isolation?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
TRUMP: Gee, that`s too bad. Go ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did I detect sarcasm there, sir?
TRUMP: No. None whatsoever.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: So there was that. Today in the briefing room, Dr. Deborah Brix was asked about Rand Paul`s decision not to self-isolate while waiting for test results?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEBORAH BIRX, RESPONSE COORDINATOR, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE: Each person has to be responsible in the way that they decrease their interaction with others, the six feet. And you`re all very social distanced, so thank you. But also assuming that everyone that you`re interacting with could be positive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: There was also a notable absence at this evening`s briefing. That would be Dr. Anthony Fauci. He was MIA, more on that ahead. And one more thing from the briefing. The President, who has been trying hard along with backup from some on Fox News, to brand this illness as the Chinese virus reacted today to the prejudice this has caused toward Asians here in the U.S.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: It seems that there could be a little bit of nasty language toward the Asian-Americans in our country, and I don`t like that at all.
They are making statements to great American citizens that happen to be of Asian heritage.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Here for our leadoff discussion on a Monday night, Nancy Cook, White House Political Reporter for Politico. Melanie Zanona, Congressional Reporter, also with Politico. And Dr. Lipi Roy, Assistant Clinical Professor for the Department of Population Health at the NYU School of Medicine. She is among our medical contradictors.
Good evening. Thank you all for coming on. Nancy, I`d like to begin with you. Is it possible we have reached the social distancing attention span of the President? Is it possible that he truly is thinking of loosening up advice, regulations way earlier than most physicians would recommend? Can you take us inside your reporting for Politico inside the West Wing and these deliberations?
NANCY COOK, POLITICO WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Sure. And so I started to hear over the weekend that there was this brewing fight between economic officials and top public health officials who were participating in the coronavirus task force. And basically what was happening is economic officials had been hearing from business leaders and the President himself was getting very worried about the state of the economy. And there was this thinking that, you know, there was this pondering of whether or not they should keep urging people to do social distancing at the end of the 15-day mark or whether or not they should give people a different guidance. And really what has happened is that the economic officials have so far won the battle, and the President tonight said that, he thought that they would reopen the economy soon.
Meanwhile, the top public health officials in the administration are uniformly horrified by this idea. They think it`s terrible. The virus is spreading throughout 50 states. You know, the infection rate in New York or at least the ones we know about is rapidly increasing. And they just feel like it`s way too soon to reopen schools, businesses, restaurants that, you know, we really need to get this under control. And the other point that the public health officials make is that there`s still really a scarcity of testing in the U.S., and so it`s very difficult to even know who is positive and who should be isolated. And until that testing problem is solved, the public health officials within the administration feel like this is a very irresponsible choice.
WILLIAMS: And, Doctor, you`re obviously here to talk about medicine, public health, and not politics. So I`ll ask you, this very optimistic talk today from the President about perhaps a date certain to reopen business as usual in America, he raised the possibility that public health experts would clear region by region of our country, telling people it`s safe to come out. I`m assuming you would find this counterproductive.
DR. LIPI ROY, NYU SCHOOL OF MEDICINE, DEPARTMENT OF POPULATION HEALTH: Hi, Brian. Good to be with you. I feel like I have to take a deep breath every single day. We all need to because we need to brace ourselves for a very long, dark, and tough, challenging road ahead. My fellow medical professionals are using terms like we`re calling up politicians and going on social media, wherever, talking about the Defense Production Act, military support in hot zones, and supply chain, nationalization, coordination. This is not what we`re trained to do. We are trained to do a specific role, which is direct patient care. That`s what we`re trained for, and it`s what we`re good at.
The fact that my fellow medical colleagues are talking about all these other things is really a reflection of a failure of leadership, and this is going to have dire consequences, catastrophic consequences on millions of patients and ultimately as well on health care workers because this unprecedented burden that the health care workers are going to face is going to have a psychological toll on health care workforce.
Remember, pre-coronavirus, I think we have to redefine our timelines, pre and post COVID-19. Pre-Covid-19 burnout rate among clinicians and physicians was extremely high. Almost 50% of doctors experienced burnout, which is emotional and physical exhaustion and depersonalization, which has adverse effects in terms of patient quality of care, so an increased medical errors. All of this is related, and we`re making a strong cry here for help and support, which we need desperately.
WILLIAMS: Melanie, I am guessing on behalf of the bartenders and servers and people in retail who are home watching, out of work, temporarily unemployed, that the last thing they want to hear about is bickering in the U.S. Senate. But, please, it is your beat, I know that. Please tell us where it stands right now?
MELANIE ZANONA, POLITICO CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, Brian, I`ve been checking in with my sources constantly on Capitol Hill. And what I can tell you, at least as of right now, both sides feel like they are within striking distance of a deal. The last we heard was about an hour ago. Chuck Schumer was in a meeting with Steven Mnuchin, and Mnuchin left with one of Schumer`s aides, which is a good sign.
But, look, I have to give the usual caveats that things could fall apart. A deal is not final until it`s final. And there is an overwhelming sense of urgency among lawmakers right now that they need to get something done. Democrats especially are getting hammered by Republicans right now, being accused of holding things up even though they`re trying to push to make the bill better in their words.
On top of that, lawmakers are concerned about being in the Capitol for their own health and safety. A lot of these members are older. They`re more vulnerable. There`s more and more cases every day of either AIDS or other lawmakers contracting coronavirus, it`s causing attendance issues until everybody wants to get this done for the American people and also so they can get out of the Capitol as well.
WILLIAMS: Nancy, as I pointed out at the top of the broadcast, or tried to, very little of what the President had to say in the briefing room today matched up with the reality we are covering here tonight. Why his insistence, according to your reporting, his insistence on having a speaking role at this briefing every day when, especially on a night like tonight, Fauci was MIA?
COOK: Yeah, it`s been interesting to me the evolution of how the President has crept into this briefing. And I was at the White House this weekend for the two briefings. And I was there sitting through the briefings for about three hours in total on Saturday and Sunday. And today the briefing lasted almost two hours.
I feel like what`s happening is that the President really has no outlet at this point. He`s not traveling. He`s not doing campaign rallies. He`s not going to Mar-a-Lago or Bedminster. And he really needs an outlet to speak to people. And I think that these briefings have taken the place of that.
I also feel like he really wants to paint this optimistic picture, and he feels like he is the best face of the response. And so he keeps going out there and, you know, sort of trying to say, oh, things are great. We`re going to open soon. But he keeps undercutting and contradicting his health officials and sending so many mixed messages to Americans about potential treatments for this, the time frame of when they should stop social distancing.
And so there`s a lot of angst in the white house about whether or not these briefings every day are a good idea, and there`s a lot of angst about how time-consuming they are. But the President, I think, has really come to like them. And so I think we will see this being a feature of the White House moving forward.
WILLIAMS: I also saw it surmised because his live-audience rallies have been suspended, this gives him the oxygen of a kind of live appearance or performance.
Doc, I want to play for you something I saw tonight in real time. On Fox News, Tucker Carlson`s broadcast, he had the Lieutenant Governor of Texas on tonight, who noted he was 70 years old, and that puts him in one of the risk categories. I`ll let him make the point. We`ll listen to this. But the summation of what he was trying to say in his own words was, the only thing worse than loss of life in this country would be loss of the American way. We`ll play it, talk about it on the other side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No one reached out to me and said, as a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren? And if that`s the exchange, I`m all in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: So, Doctor, I recognize this goes to philosophy. It goes to politics. It`s very personal in his world, in his life. It`s also a viewpoint you`re starting to see and hear. What do you make of it, again, as a public health professional?
ROY: So, look, I`ve said this before. I`ll say it again. As doctors, as nurses, as frontline health care workers, we have one agenda, one sole agenda, and that`s to preserve the health and safety of our patients. And frankly it`s going to be in the order of millions of people. So we need to just act. The doctors and nurses, we know what we need, and we`re being handcuffed. We`re just not getting it. Patients are going to die. We know that, brain.
People are already dying. We already know the numbers in New York City. I at least feel reassured that Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo are acting and they`re taking the advice closely from their medical and public health officials. So we really need to act. And we`re just not getting the support that we need. That`s all I can really say, Brian.
WILLIAMS: Melanie, a quick question to you about politics and the U.S. Senate. When you talk to senators, you realize that on the Ted Cruz unpopularity ranking scale, Rand Paul is right up there already. How is his coronavirus diagnosis going over in that chamber?
ZANONA: Well, there`s bipartisan outrage because after he took the test, he didn`t self-isolate, which is what health experts had said are the guidelines. Instead, he continued to carry on his daily life. He worked out in the Senate gym, which he wasn`t supposed to be doing. He also was going to the Senate lunches. And now as a result of that, he potentially exposed other senators and at least two other republicans have had to sit on the sidelines and weren`t able to vote on Sunday or today because of it. So now the GOP`s already thin majority is even thinner. You have members who are growing increasingly worried, and I think this whole episode with Rand Paul is really stepping up the anxiety and the anger in the capitol hallways right now.
WILLIAMS: On that note, our thanks on a Monday night to Nancy Cook, to Melanie Zanona, and Dr. Lipi Roy. We appreciate the three of you helping start us off.
Coming up for, we`ll ask a Pulitzer Prize-Winning Science Journalist about the growing wave of information and disinformation now overwhelming a frightened population.
And later, a deeper look into the growing debate over saving an ailing U.S. economy or saving more lives as THE 11TH HOUR is just getting started on a Monday night.
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 3-D printing company in Italy has designed and printed 100 respirator valves after a hospital there ran out of them. They cost about $1 each. The prototype took about three hours to design. According to an article in Forbes, the coronavirus crisis may have an upside, and we, "While the grave and tragic human toll of lost lives cannot be measured, there is a silver lining. And 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 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 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, TULANE UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR OF HISTORY: 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, and 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 crisper 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 were all motivated to work toward a cure, toward therapeutics for this. We can assume they`re going to be running Hell Bent for Leather toward that goal?
ISAACSON: Oh everybody is. I was just in communication with Jennifer Doudna, one of the co-inventors of the gene editing technology CRISPR. And they`re holding meetings with how do you find new detection technologies? How do you find new ways to fight viruses? 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 worked 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.
And we`re back live. Here`s how I`m able to change clothes so fast. That was an interview with Walter Isaacson on tape from a few nights ago because in the last commercial break, we lost everything. As you know, we`re all in individual satellite remote studios. We lost all of our incoming Skype interviews. We have cobbled together our next couple of guests. This ought to be interesting.
We`ll take another break here. When we come back, that segment we promised about information and disinformation out there right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: At my direction, the federal government is working to help obtain large quantities of chloroquine, and you can look from any standpoint tomorrow, in New York, we think tomorrow pretty early, the hydroxychloroquine and the Z-Pak, I think, is a combination probably is looking very, very good.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: This is a little bit like testing new tires on a moving car. Tomorrow, clinical trials will begin in New York for a malaria medication dispensed in combination with an antibiotic to treat coronavirus.
As we mentioned, Dr. Anthony Fauci notably absent from today`s coronavirus briefing at the White House. But on Friday, he was asked about the efficacy of repurposing this old malaria drug for this illness.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dr. Fauci, it was explained yesterday there has been some promise with hydroxychloroquine, this potential therapy for people who are infected with coronavirus. Is there any evidence to suggest that as with malaria, it might be used as a prophylaxis against COVID-19?
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIAID DIRECTOR: No, the answer is no, and the evidence that you`re talking about, John (ph), is anecdotal evidence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: So there`s that. And with us tonight by phone, which we sure tried to get to be able to see her on Skype, Laurie Garrett, as a science writer. She is the recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, the Polk and Peabody awards. She`s the author of "The Coming Plague," and "Ebola, Story of an Outbreak", a rom-com obviously. She`s also a contributor to foreign policy and a former senior fellow for global health over at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Laurie, thank you very much for coming on and putting up with a blanket electronic failure into and out of our 30 Rock control room tonight. Talk some more, please, about this medicine and any danger, as you see it, from a public health perspective of getting hopes up high in any of these areas.
LAURIE GARRETT, SCIENCE WRITER & AUTHOR: Well, as you know, Brian, there is a woman fighting for her life in a hospital in Arizona tonight. Her husband died because they took chloroquine after hearing the president say it was the right way to treat their COVID-19 illness. And it turned out they took chloroquine phosphate, which is used to clean out fish tanks. It killed one of them, and the other is fighting for her life.
This is the danger of saying things and announcing treatments, announcing medicines when they haven`t been proven, when there are people in the public who won`t fully understand the nuances. They`re not doctors. They don`t know how to dose themselves properly. They`ll go out, and they`ll buy fish tank cleaner thinking that that`s the antimalarial drug chloroquine.
I think we`re -- this is just heading down a path towards devastating outcomes as we have the president announcing medical breakthroughs supposedly, and we have certain commentators beating the drum in favor of these medicines, but they`ve not been proven. They`ve not been subjected to clinical trials. And these are not drugs without side effects.
I mean, one of the drugs in the pack is AZT. That was the very first drug invented for treating HIV illness, and that drug had a whole range of side effects.
WILLIAMS: Can you believe that in the greatest country on earth, we had tested by the end of February, this came out today, 352 individuals. So roughly the number of passengers who can fit on the largest passenger jet in the world. The greatest country on earth had tested a sum total of 352 souls in the month of February. What does that tell you?
GARRETT: Well, it tells me that we weren`t taking this seriously. We weren`t acting when -- acting could have made a difference, and we weren`t doing the things we needed to be doing to bring this epidemic under control.
Look, Brian, the latest data from the World Health Organization is -- really ought to be startling and terrifying to everybody because we`re almost at 400,000 cases in the world. These are officially confirmed cases.
And as Dr. Tedros told us today in his briefing, it took 67 days for the world to get the first 100,000 cases. It took 11 days to get the second 100,000 cases. It took four days to get the third 100,000 cases. And we may hit the 400,000 in just two days. This thing is taking off. It`s skyrocketing. It`s in nearly every country in the world, and it is out of control.
So, for us to be so far down the path, grasping at antimalarial drugs, grasping at AZT, the ancient, you know, 1980s version of HIV treatment, and telling the public that, hey, you know, the stock market is the problem. We`re going to take out all this social distancing nonsense within 15 days, and you can all go back to work. This is just mind-boggling, absolutely mind-boggling.
WILLIAMS: Laurie, I absolutely had to talk to you because of something I was channel-hopping this weekend and happened upon an interview with you where you made a point about all the needs in all of our communities right now and how, for decades in this country, there was a kind of an unofficial army of civic organizations that sprung up and took care of our needs. Largely in the generation that gave way to us, they were returning World War II veterans, certainly men and women of that generation. We look around, and as you put it, at any civic local meeting you go to, the average age is up there. And that -- all of that musculature in a community is not there anymore.
GARRETT: You know, Brian, a lot of people are forming various kinds of volunteer entities, efforts to change the course of this epidemic online. But there`s a limit to what can be done online. There comes a point when you need actual people power, feet moving on soil, and coming together to carry out actions that -- well, the kind of thing that in the old days you counted on from the Red Cross, from the community chests, United Way, boy scouts, girl scouts. You know, in 1947, the city of New York that you and I are both sitting in was threatened with smallpox.
There was an individual who had gone all over as a tourist throughout Manhattan and had smallpox, infected some other people. Panic ensued. The Commissioner of Health said, I`m going to somehow find enough vaccine to revaccinate the entire population of New York City. And who mobilized all those people and got them and dutifully in lines to be revaccinated for smallpox? It was the boy scouts, and it was the Red Cross.
Well, today, I doubt anybody would let the boy scouts carry out any kind of --
GARRETT: -- helpful activity related to this epidemic.
WILLIAMS: That`s a hell of a point. Laurie Garrett, please come on with us again, especially when we can see you. But thank you for putting up with us tonight and sharing your wisdom with us. We appreciate it.
Coming up as we move on, New Mexico joining the list of states telling people to stay home. We`ll talk live with their governor about her decision.
WILLIAMS: The great state of New Mexico has joined the growing list of states to take more serious precautions, instructing the people there to stay at home to help reduce the ongoing spread of this coronavirus.
With us for more is Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, Democrat of New Mexico.
Governor, thank you very much for joining us tonight. I realize you have other concerns to worry about. Tell us first off where your state`s numbers are at last count. And I note the stay-at-home directive is dated until April 10th. I presume you reserve the right to extend it if you`re still in the teeth of this thing, correct?
GOV. MICHELLE LUJAN GRISHAM (D), NEW MEXICO: Absolutely. And unfortunately, because we`re following CDC data and looking at the World Health Organization data and our own data points, we`re beginning that two-week area where you really have to slow the spread of this virus. So the likelihood that we have to extend remains high.
We have 83 confirmed cases, 18 new cases reported today. That`s our single highest day, and we`re a state that`s been doing better, I think, in terms of per capita representation of testing. So we`re about 6,250 tests, but it`s not enough to stay proactive and provide the kind of instructions to your population and businesses that can really impact bending the curve. And so we`d like to be doing more.
WILLIAMS: If two people walked into an E.R. tonight in Albuquerque, one of them was me and another person was a poor person from Albuquerque, we were both presenting with symptoms, would we both be able to get tested? Would one of us? Would neither of us?
GRISHAM: All testing in New Mexico is free. All costs associated with COVID-19 treatment is covered. And, in fact, we`ve taken another step, which is anyone, say, for example, our child care workers, right, our frontline workers, we`re making sure that -- many of them are uninsured, and we`re making sure that they`re part of our high-risk pool. So that we`re paying their premiums and they`re completely insured, including their whole families, just dealing with risk factors.
So we`ve been very aggressive in our state about making sure no surprise billing and no shifts equal access to testing.
WILLIAMS: I don`t want you to blow your source but there are millions of Americans tonight who would love to have access to a test, free or not. How is it that New Mexico, and throwing any modesty aside, is so well equipped to test its residents?
GRISHAM: Well, one thing I want to say is that 2 million people really doing effective surveillance, recognizing now that we are struggling and grappling with individuals who are asymptomatic and really trying to get our hands around, right, the contact, making sure that we`re doing everything we can to minimize community spread, we should be doing a lot more.
The position that New Mexico`s in that`s a bit different is that we are a state that`s got two of the five national laboratories. We have incredible research centers. And so we`re equipped with the kind of instrumentation that allows us to do rapid testing and to do 500 to 1,000 tests per machine at a time. We`re a state that could get to, in short order, 6,000 tests run per day.
Here`s the challenge. Getting the materials and getting the FDA approval fast enough on each of those instruments. They`ve made it incredibly complicated to access the swabbing at the front end and the reagents at the back end. It`s all tied, which company makes which instrument, and frankly, it`s become a full-time job working either around or directly through the federal government to make sure that that supply chain stays so that we can be more proactive so that we don`t become an epicenter. The more states that are able not to become an epicenter, then the more likely you have a national response that saves many more lives than the current way we`re doing it, which is chasing where the largest number of cases and spreads is by itself.
We have to help those states, but you better slow the spread in the rest of the country, or the whole country`s going to look like that.
WILLIAMS: So here`s what we`ve learned in addition to being a staggeringly beautiful place to live in or visit, New Mexico seems to be about as well squared away for what`s coming as any other state in our union. To the governor, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, thank you very much again, amid all you have to care about tonight, for spending a few minutes with us.
Coming up for us, the new coronavirus guidance from the governor of Florida.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): It would be a very blunt instrument. When you`re ordering people to shelter in place, you are consigning a number, probably hundreds of thousands of Floridians to lose their jobs. What we`re going to do in the state of Florida, and I`ll be issuing an executive order, is anybody traveling from those regions in New York or New Jersey to the state of Florida is going to have to do a mandatory 14-day self-isolation. That`s the only way we can be sure that that virus is not going to be reintroduced in the state of Florida and then spread.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: So let`s repeat for the record. Tourism brings in billions of dollars every year in Florida, but right there, despite concern about crowded beaches in his state, despite a huge population of seniors in Florida, Republican Governor Ron DeSantis today stopped short of ordering people to stay in their homes.
Instead, as you heard him say, anyone flying into Florida from New York and New Jersey will now have to self-quarantine for two weeks. The order does not apply to anyone who chooses to, say, drive south on I-95 and enter Florida by car.
Another break for us. Coming up, this might look to you like people crossing a London street, and it is. But wait until we play you the audio when we come back.
WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go here tonight, ask Donald Trump about BoJo, Boris Johnson, and Trump will tell you that they call BoJo, Boris Johnson, the Trump of the U.K. Indeed and true to form, BoJo was way late in taking the coronavirus seriously and way late in calling for Brits to stay home, as in he just did it today.
So our friends in England now must get used to the life that millions of us in this country have been leading for a few days. Like us, there`s no sports on the telly, and like us, they have a slew of temporarily unemployed play-by-play broadcasters in the sports business. So, the British rugby announcer, Nick Heath, has decided to do play-by-play on highlights from everyday life.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NICK HEATH, ENGLISH RUGBY ANNOUNCER: -- crossroad dash light turns to red, we wait for the beeps. There they are now. Then JD SportsMan. He`s got a decent start. Leggings on the outside. Oh, JD SportsMan a bit distracted over the shoulder. And Leggins is going to get there. Oh, she does it again. Three titles in three days. Off past Vegas gold for the lap of honor. Victorious.
So there`s the international four-by-four Pushchair Formation Final. And, well, we`ve got the upfront pair, of course, you have Hampson (ph) and Erickson (ph) from Sweden and they`re in with the Brits here in Smith and Black. They`re doing particularly well of staying quite close with them around this very delicate bend. Of course, they`re pretty familiar with this course, and -- well, that`s what saw them become European champions just a few months ago. Great to see them back.
Why don`t you join us live here on Tooting Common. Once again, call of the Cavapoo coming along very nicely on a mundane walk. And oh my goodness, who`s this? Oh, it`s Colin (ph). He`s broken free. Bless you. He`s -- well, he`s going to be disqualified. Carla (ph), she seems quite happy though, 5.8 across the board, lovely.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Nick Heath with the call to take us off the air tonight as we start a new week and a new adventure together. That is our broadcast for this Monday evening. On behalf of all of my colleagues 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