BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening on this day 1,205 of the Trump administration. 179 days to go until our next Presidential Election
And let`s set the scene first tonight. Today the President welcomed Republican members of Congress in the state dining room. The President was seated directly in front of the fireplace and just beneath the inscription from John Adams that says "May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof."
And from that place, the President said this about the coronavirus. "I feel about vaccines the way I feel about tests. This is going to go away without a vaccine, and we`re not going to see it again." And that is not true. As we go into this weekend with close to 80,000 dead in this country after we lost just under 2,000 people just today, it is more important than ever to point out this is not just going to go away.
And from that same room, the President went on to say, some people don`t want our country to come back for political reasons. Then he said, "The real people" and he defined the real people as those who want this country to be great and great again. They want to get back, as he puts it.
More on the President`s comments in moments. But as we delve back into the real world now, we tested 300,000 people today in our country of 327 million, give or take. And the death toll tonight stands at 77,974.
The State of Georgia, the first state to undergo a so-called reopening, is currently seeing a 40 percent spike in coronavirus cases. This is the weekend, remember, so many states are poised to relax restrictions. Part of the President`s campaign to reopen the country during an active pandemic.
And on a day when we learned of a second positive case in the President`s circle, in the West Wing of the White House. More on that in a moment. But first here just for clarity is the President from today, again beneath the "left behind" for us all from John Adams, the first President to live in the people`s house.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think some people don`t want it really to come back for political reasons, which is sick. But the people, the real people, the people that want this country to be great and great again, we can say they want to get back. And we`re going to have embers. We`re going to have fires. We`re going to have things to put out, and we`ll put them out. We learned a lot. You know, things that we had no idea two months ago, we`ve learned a lot over the last couple of months, and we`re going to do a job like nobody`s seen before.
I feel about vaccines like I feel about tests. This is going to go away. I mean the - For all you`ll have flare-ups maybe. Maybe not, but according to what a lot of people say, we probably will. We`ll be able to put them out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: And now to the damage that is behind the drive to come back, the virus has already wiped out a decade of job gains. We`re now in the throes of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. The Labor Department says more than 20 million people lost their jobs in April. That`s the largest one-month drop in U.S. history. Unemployment rate has soared to 14.7 percent, the worst since 1933 when it reached 25 percent. Just this morning, the President predicted a swift rebound.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Those jobs will all be back, and they`ll be back very soon. And next year we`re going to have a phenomenal year.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: That view is not shared by a lot of economists. As we mentioned, there is another case of coronavirus within the Trump inner circle. The Press Secretary for Mike Pence, Katie Miller, today confirmed she tested positive one day after testing negative. She happens to be married to Stephen Miller, speechwriter and architect of the Trump immigration policy.
Tonight the White House said Miller had tested for COVID-19 just yesterday we learned a military steward for President Trump had also tested positive.
Tonight politico reports FDA Chief Stephen Hahn has tested negative after coming into contact with Katie Miller. But tonight we are told he is still quarantining nonetheless.
Here is a photo from a Pence event yesterday showing on the right an unmasked Katie Miller speaking to members of the traveling press corps. Trump said he hadn`t come into contact with Katie Miller and said he and Pence have both tested negative.
Our network reports the White House has now adopted new measures to try to safeguard against further infections, including offering testing and contact tracing, exactly what so many municipalities would very much like to be able to do.
Keep in mind only roughly 2.5 percent of all Americans have been tested. These new measures also include requiring White House staff who serve the President, who are close to him throughout the workday, to wear face coverings. Trump himself was again without a mask today while honoring World War II veterans on this, the 75th anniversary of V.E. Day. The men in addition to be treasured American citizens also happen to be in a high risk group due to old age.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, you were with seven American heroes earlier today, these World War II veterans.
TRUMP: I was.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All in their 90s. Did you consider wearing a mask when you were with them given --
TRUMP: No, because I was very far away. I appreciate the question. I was very far away from them as you know. I would have loved to have gone up and hugged them because they`re great. I had a conversation with everyone, but we were very far away. You saw. Plus the wind was blowing so hard and such a direction that if the plague ever reached them, I`d be very surprised. The wind was howling, and I didn`t see anybody with masks. I don`t know. Maybe there were. But they were great. I had conversations with them but, but I was standing as you noticed, would you say I was quite far away?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Meanwhile, the Associated Press has new information tonight on a story it broke yesterday regarding CDC advice on how states should begin reopening. The A.P. says it has obtained internal government emails that say, "The decision to shelf detailed advice from the nation`s top disease control experts for reopening communities during the coronavirus pandemic came from the highest levels of the White House. Files also show that after the A.P. reported Thursday the guidance document had been buried, the Trump administration ordered key parts of it to be fast-tracked for approval.
Our own network has not seen these emails, has not confirmed the A.P. story. As we mentioned, most stating will be reopening in some form or fashion this coming weekend. As for New York, the epicenter of the pandemic in this country, the governor says finally the beast is on the run.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): The good news on the overall is we`re finally ahead of this virus. Numbers are coming down in New York. I get the emotion. Everybody would like to see everything reopen tomorrow. But you tell me what the virus is doing, you tell me the facts on the virus, I`ll tell you what we can do in terms of reopening.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Here for our leadoff discussion on the last night of the week, John Heilemann, National Affairs Analyst, Co-Host of The Circus on Showtime, Editor in Chief over at The Recount. Shannon Pettypiece, Veteran Journalist, Senior White House Reporter for us at NBC News Digital. And we welcome to our broadcast Neil Irwin. He is Senior Economics Correspondent for the New York Times where he writes for the Upshot, The Times site for analysis of economics and the intersection of each.
Shannon, I`d like to begin with you. Now it`s close. Someone close to the President, someone close to the Vice President testing positive. The President, among all the staff members, refusing to wear a mask. I`m tempted to ask what could go wrong, but mostly I`m tempted to ask how much closer does it need to get?
SHANNON PETTYPIECE, NBC NEWS.COM SENIOR WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, this is almost as close as it can get aside from being -- you know, having a member of his direct family infected. You know, the valet who we reported earlier on this week was infected was someone who is serving the President`s meals, who was in very close contact, sources tell us, you know, throughout the day up until the day he was sick.
Katie Miller, the Vice President`s spokesperson, is someone who is in on the corona task force meetings, and the President and the Vice President said they don`t have close contact with her. But you can see in that photo she was traveling with the Vice President just yesterday.
So, you know, many of us have experienced this where someone in our family or someone in our workplace becomes infected, gets sick, and we know that feeling. Well, I`m told that`s the feeling that`s going on in the West Wing right now, that things finally got real in the White House this week.
And I don`t think we know yet what the full changes and ramifications of that are going to be. But our reporting indicates that the President was very upset when he found out about one of his valets infected earlier this week, felt his staff wasn`t doing enough to protect him, and now we`re seeing them put some measures in place like having staffers wear masks. And there were some reporters who were tested today, you know, one of the few times they`ve actually made testing available to reporters.
But I think, you know, next week we`re going to see a little bit more of what sort of implications this could have on the President`s perspective on all of this.
WILLIAMS: John, indeed it got worse tonight. Kaitlan Collins over at CNN reporting that the Personal Assistant to Ivanka has tested positive for COVID-19. The upshot is at least the White House can boast about having the best testing anywhere in the United States though, John, mask-wearing has devolved like everything else into things red and things blue. We`re seeing blind quotes emerge from the West Wing this week that masks are for panicked liberals. Was this to be expected?
JOHN HEILEMANN, MSNBC NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Hundred percent it was to be expected, Brian. I think, you know, from the moment that the President that first time came out and said, back when the daily coronavirus briefings were happening and he was still attending them on a daily basis, he came out and said, you know, masks are a good idea. You should probably wear one, but I`m not going to. I think no one watching that day did not think to themselves this is going to lead to a bad place.
The President, as you know having covered a lot of White Houses, the President sets a lot of -- has authority of many, many kinds in the White House and the West Wing, and one of them is the power of example. And when you see the President -- you listen, if you work in that building, and you listen to what the President says, you also watch what he does. And I think especially in this West Wing where the people there are -- although they often leak and they often backbite and they often back stab, they`re very loyal and in some cases adulatory toward the President.
I think as soon as they looked and saw he wasn`t going to wear one, most of them were not going to wear them either. That of course, as you say, now is part of a larger political, cultural, ideological overlay around the country. But the price is now going to get paid. No one is immune to this virus you`ve pointed out a lot of times. The virus does not see red and blue, and the White House is learning that right now.
WILLIAMS: Neil Irwin, I have two questions for you right off the bat by way of welcoming you into our humble confines. Number one, how bad does this get? I`m guessing everyone asks you some form of that question. And number two, how many of these jobs, to quote the great lyric, "Ain`t coming back?"
NEIL IRWIN, SENIOR ECONOMICS CORRESPONDENT, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": So this is extraordinarily bad. The unemployment numbers we got this morning are really the tip of the iceberg. These are numbers based on surveys from the second week of April. That`s already nearly a month ago. It`s gotten worse since then. This is a catastrophe of unemployment across the United States.
You know, you raised the question will these jobs come back, when, how? I think this is really not something that economists can answer. This really depends on two what degree can people feel safe going to work, going to stores, going to restaurants? And as long as that`s not the case, we`re going to see depressed unemployment. We might see a little bounce back as some of the shutdowns ease in some states. But the idea this economy will be anything other than depressed as long as people don`t feel comfortable engaging in the routine, kind of routines of commercial is really a pipe dream and not how it works.
WILLIAMS: And is there a percentage to put on these job losses that are, as economists like to say, hopefully temporary?
IRWIN: So officially there are numbers. How many people think they`re temporarily employed, it`s something like 18 million out of the 20 million people who are currently unemployed in this last report that came out this morning.
The problem is in normal times that means something. If people same, I`m just temporarily not working but I still have this job to go back to, but what we don`t know is how many businesses won`t exist in a few months if this goes on. And how of these jobs people think they might be able to go back to are not going to exist if restaurants, you know, all kinds of organizations, companies go under or have to radically scale back from where they were just two months ago.
And so I don`t take a lot of solace in that. The White House did -- you know, there`s some reason to think that 18 million out of the 20 million are just temporary, but these are not -- these are unusual times, and I think there`s reason to think that this is going to be a more lasting kind of damage than we`ve seen in past recessions.
WILLIAMS: So, Shannon Pettypiece, from your vantage point covering this White House, what is left in the President`s toolbox to -- other than talking up the economy, talking up, "getting back," especially since on the unemployment and death toll front, he`s been of late using the Scorsesean "it is what it is."
PETTYPIECE: Well, I mean, I think that kind of hits the nail on the head where we`re in a stage where there`s not that much the White House can do really. They`re really -- I mean, of course everyone can come up with things they can do, but they`ve pulled a lot of the big levers they can pull economically. There`s things talking about liability waivers, so giving companies protections so if they reopen and someone gets sick, they can`t get sued. But that`s not necessarily something they can do with an executive for the entire economy. There`s tax cuts. That seems to be the President`s go-to move now as let`s cut the payroll tax. Let`s cut capital gains tax. Of course, that requires Congress. And this administration has not shown they can bring people together and build bridges in Congress to get a big piece of legislation passed.
And on the front with the virus, you know, they`ve shifted so much focus towards reopening the economy, you know, that I don`t even really hear that much talk within the administration about what are we going to do to try and get these numbers down, these 25,000 cases that we`re still seeing, you know, give or take 1,000 every day.
WILLIAMS: John Heilemann, I`m going to read to you what Matthew Dowd tweeted earlier this afternoon. "Exactly what can the incumbent President run on? He can`t run on the economy. He can`t run on health care. He can`t run as a moral leader. He can`t run on bringing the country together. He can`t run on leaders he put in power. He can`t run on justice. Exactly what can he run on?"
When I pose that question to someone already actively involved in the anti- Trump campaign effort, I got a two-word answer back, China and Mexico. You concur?
HEILEMANN: I do, Brian. I think there`s something close to that simple. You know, I think this is going to be -- this election was already setting up to be an election where Donald Trump was going to try to change the terms of the election from a pure referendum on himself into a choice between him and Joe Biden and then seek to disqualify Joe Biden. That`s the standard unpopular incumbent`s playbook. It`s, you know, Barack Obama did it to Mitt Romney in 2012. George W. Bush did it to John Kerry in 2004. Bill Clinton did it to Bob Dole in 1996. That`s what he was going to do. That`s when he had a strong economy to run on. He doesn`t have that anymore. And so now you have the same playbook except on the economic side, Trump making some kind of hypothetical prospective, theoretical argument that as he says over and over again, I built the world`s greatest economy, and I`m the only one who can rebuild it. That`s one side of the argument.
And the other side is Joe Biden is horrible. And a big chunk of that will be about China. You saw the President`s ads this week, the big $10 million ad buy they did this week that is all focused on Biden and China. But there will be other parts of the disqualification attempts on Biden, many of them much more personal and many of them much more vicious than that.
WILLIAMS: Neil Irwin, the tell on when the President has learned a new phrase that has been said in his presence is he then uses it daily. I`m going to play this for you, what he has learned to call the coming third quarter of 2020.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I think that the third quarter, it`s obviously a transition quarter. The third quarter is transitional. We`re transiting into, but it`s a very transitional period. I think the transition is going to be really terrific. A very strong transition. A big, beautiful, hopefully a very good transition, a very successful transition. A tremendous transition. You could almost say a transition into greatness. I call it the transition to greatness. But that`s the slogan we`re going to use, transition to greatness.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Neil, what is the third quarter looking like to you?
IRWIN: So there is a real possibility that we`re going to get a yo-yo effect. So suppose you have something that it`s at 100 and it goes to 80 and then it comes back to 90. Going from 80 to 90 feels like a really big increase, but it`s still -- you`re still way below where you were. And that`s what we might have the second quarter. That`s the April, May, June quarter. It`s going to be terrible, like horrendous numbers all across the board. There is a real possibility that in the third quarter, which is July, August, September, we kind of come back somewhat and we have that kind of yo-yo effect that makes, you know, headlines in September, October, right before the election look like we`re getting some progress and getting a rebound.
That said, the odds are that the economy`s going to be way below where it was before this all began and that we`re still going to be functioning at very high levels of unemployment, very low levels of GDP, and what we`re seeing is kind of a statistical artifact when these things bounce around. That`s not what the President means but I think that`s what most economists who really look at this stuff carefully expect us to see over the months ahead.
WILLIAMS: Our thanks to Neil Irwin, to Shannon Pettypiece, and john Heilemann, always a valued member of this kitchen cabinet.
Coming up, the coronavirus gets as close to the President and Vice President as you can get. Will that change anything?
And later, the struggle over how and when to reopen things. We`ll hear from two mayors living it when we continue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think by Memorial Day Weekend, we will largely have this coronavirus epidemic behind us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: That was just April 24th. The prediction probably not going to come true considering cases are on the rise across our country. As we wait for things to get better, two-thirds of our nation agrees the country should not be reopened. This is according to latest polling. But behind the numbers, a stark partisan divide that will surprise no one. 92 percent of Democrats agree an immediate opening is not worth sacrificing public safety. Only 35 percent of Republicans agree with that.
Back with us again tonight, Dr. Vin Gupta. He`s an E.R. Doc specializing in exactly these kinds of illnesses. Also an affiliate Assistant Professor with the University of Washington`s Department of Health Metrics Sciences.
So, doctor, we have two positive cases in the West Wing. We learned tonight Ivanka Trump`s personal assistant tested positive. If you were White House physician, a job where you, yes, take care of the staff but you basically have one patient, would you have that patient wearing a mask and taking greater precautions during the workday?
DR. VIN GUPTA, MSNBC MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Not only for the President`s own health, which is important obviously to the entire country that the President remains healthy and safe, but also for him setting an example. We need the President to stop the mixed messages on masks. I appreciate the second you just had because you talked about these mixed messages.
Vice President Pence at Mayo Clinic. Senator Paul the only senator in the entire chamber to test positive for COVID-19 comes back to Capitol Hill. He`s the only senator not to wear a mask. Governor DeWine, great initial strength on masks for his reopening of Ohio. Walked that back.
We need, whether you`re red or blue, doesn`t matter. Masks, there`s science behind it. It`s a critical part of a return to normalcy strategy, and it starts with the President.
WILLIAMS: I want to play for you and our audience a comment the President made today and have you react to it on the other side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I feel about vaccines like I feel about tests. This is going to go away without a vaccine. It`s going to go away, and it`s -- we`re not going to see it again hopefully after a period of time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What evidence have you seen that this is going to go away without a vaccine?
TRUMP: I just rely on what doctors say. They say it`s going to go. That doesn`t mean this year. It doesn`t mean it`s going to be gone frankly by the fall or after the fall. But eventually it`s going to go away. The question is will we need a vaccine. At some point it will probably go away by itself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Doctor, is it going to go away by itself? Do we not need a vaccine?
GUPTA: So the doctors that I listen to, the experts that I listen to and lived reality I`ve seen in the ICE is that it absolutely is not. First of all, Brian, as we talked about, we`re flying in the blind. We have saliva testing now, thank God. Now we`ll have home testing capabilities. Maybe we`re going to get to mass testing. That was a piece of great news. But we`re flying in the blind. And any forecasting model says, look, it`s going to take a while for us to get to herd immunity when most of the population we think will have been exposes. So when is that actually going to happen? We`re not thinking until 2022 potentially. We`re thinking social distancing may be required intermittently until then. So I`m not sure who the President is listening to when he`s quoting these statements, but that`s verifiably false.
WILLIAMS: I`m glad you mentioned the new saliva test, approved by the FDA, proud to say developed at Rutgers University in New Jersey. The question becomes what`s the lag time to market, and what`s behind the lag in all of our good intentions? We all want -- everyone, what the President said now months ago, everyone who wants a test can get a test. Wasn`t true then, isn`t true tonight. Where are we on that?
GUPTA: There`s a lot there, Brian. Let me try to answer that as succinct as I can. Number one, this is already commercial. So the question here is how quickly can he get it home? There`s going to be a few week lag for sure as the regulatory process finalizes that`s great news. If you`re in the right clinical setting, you could potentially get a saliva test now through this Rutgers test.
The big issue, the big hurdle here, and this is a broader issue, is that we`re still advocating for certain groups to get tested. You have to be symptomatic. That`s the guidance still for the saliva test symptoms. So as an ICU doc, I have to still be symptomatic. If you`re the press secretary for Vice President Pence, it looks like you can get a test any day you want.
So we need to widen the criteria for who gets tested whether it`s saliva at home or still that nasal swab test. We need to start expanding it to those who are asymptomatic but will be going to the workplace just because that`s how we`re going to restart the American economic engine, testing everybody. This is a great piece of news, and I suspect in the next two weeks, it will be scaled at home.
WILLIAMS: Around here when we go about paging Dr. Gupta, he responds. Dr. Gupta, thank you as always. It`s always a pleasure.
Coming up for us on this Friday night, two mayors of two very different cities on opposite sides of our country, but they do share one thing in common. We`ll talk about that after this.
WILLIAMS: With this virus still spreading in many places, today the mayor of Boston, Marty Walsh, announced that all events that require a permit this summer, including parades, festivals, will be canceled. Smaller gatherings are going to be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Massachusetts has 75,000 confirmed cases and at least 4,700 deaths blamed on this virus. Over 10,000 of the cases are in Boston Proper. Across the country in the smaller yet hard-hit city of Gallup, New Mexico, famously one of the stops on route 66, a lockdown is being slowly lifted. Roads into that city have been closed to non-residents. Tonight they`re back open but with restrictions. The surrounding McKinley County accounts for roughly 30 percent of all cases in the state. New Mexico has over 4,600 confirmed cases, over 180 deaths thus far.
We welcome tonight the mayors of both of these cities to our broadcast. Marty Walsh of Boston and Louie Bonaguidi, Mayor of Gallup, New Mexico.
Mayor Walsh, first to you. There`s no bruins. There`s no Celtics. There`s no Sox. At some point it must feel a little less Boston every day. These decisions on public gatherings must be an extremely painful part of your job.
MAYOR MARTY WALSH (D-MA), BOSTON: They really are. I mean we`re entering into a time of the year that we didn`t have a marathon, we didn`t have a St. Patrick`s Day Parade. We have a lot and festivals and parades this time of year. The pride parade got canceled. So it`s going to be a long summer. It`s been a long spring. But honestly with the coronavirus, it`s going to be a long summer here in Boston, I think, when we don`t have all these great outdoor events that we usually have.
WILLIAMS: Mr. Mayor, I haven`t been to Fenway since the game when Don Zimmer got tossed during the bench-clearing brawl, but I remember very, very tight passage ways, it`s just an old place, it`s not a modern era stadium. How do you go back to sox games even socially distanced as a crowd?
WALSH: I know that I`ve been talking to Sam Kennedy, the President of the Red Sox, and they`re trying to figure out if baseball comes back and they do that, how do they do it. You know, it`s going to be complicated obviously. I think this is not going to disappear by Memorial Day. We`re going to be dealing with the coronavirus, I think, for quite some time here, and I think it`s going to be very complicated for people to gather at Fenway Park or at the Boston Garden or maybe even football when football season starts in September. And I think that, you know, for us it`s about testing. It`s about metrics. It`s about looking at how can we start to interact with people safely here in the long term. And I think that we still have a ways to go.
WILLIAMS: Mayor, Bonaguidi I watched some of the local coverage of your controversial decision out there to put roadblocks up and have members of your P.D. try to catch people coming off the interstate, especially from coming in. I know you`ve decided to open the door a crack. What was public acceptance like in the end, and what data on the curve did you -- were you able to act on?
MAYOR LOUIE BONAGUIDI (D-NM), GALLUP: Well, basically I have to give you the history of it in a sense. Gallup is such a unique community because we sit in the middle of about five Indian reservation reservations. And what happens usually on the 1st of the month, which basically is the pay week, we get an influx of around 30,000 to 50,000 people coming into the community. And because of the numbers that have been showing up, we`re 30 percent of the total number of cases in New Mexico. We knew that if we got that many people in at one time, that we would definitely have problems. So it was after conferring with our governor, Governor Lujan, the decision was let`s close off -- let`s close the city off and see if we can stop the spread of this epidemic.
WILLIAMS: I know the last thing you want, Mayor Bonaguidi is, you know, to cut down on your tax base, shut down local businesses, harm local families. Are you confident now that you are open the door a crack that you can track these cases and stay on top of it?
BONAGUIDI: Well, hopefully that`s the thing. We`ve been watching the numbers on a daily basis. The biggest problem is the testing is so slow. The testing takes about 2 1/2 days, and we`d love to test everybody in the area, but that`s impossible. So the only thing else we can do basically is try and stop the spread. And the encouragement record, we figure we`re the hot spot. And so what we`re trying to do basically is keep it from going and spreading to the reservation, which I think at this point is very vulnerable.
WILLIAMS: Marty Walsh, you can`t shut down the hub. You can`t close down the city that you`re the mayor of. The Mayor of Gallup raises the subject of testing. We said at the top of the broadcast tonight the White House can now claim the very best testing and contact tracing in all of the land. What is Boston doing on making sure that if you live in Southie or Beacon Hill, you can get a test on demand?
WALSH: Well, let me start by congratulating the mayor and complimenting him on doing some incredible work of keeping his residents safe. I think a lot of us have to make -- take drastic measures, and I commend him for it.
In the City of Boston, what we`re doing is we have 21 locations around the city now for testing, and our goal is to get to 1,500 tests per day. We`re not there yet, but it`s something that we want to be able to do. We have about 10,700-plus cases of coronavirus in the City of Boston as of today. We have 496 people who have lost their life.
So we`re dealing with quite a bit of virus here in Boston, in Massachusetts. We`re number three in the country for positive cases, and we`re number three in the country for deaths. So we really have to -- as we think about reopening and phasing it in, we really have to think about massive testing, antibody testing and coronavirus testing. And it`s not just a onetime test. It might be multiple tests. So we`re ramping that up here in the city and doing the best we can. We`re averaging about 30 percent of the people being tested are testing positive for coronavirus. And in the homeless population, we`ve tested almost 1,800 people, and we`re testing at about a 33 percent rate of positive. So we have some work to do still here in the city. And we have a lot more work before we can really move into the opening phase here.
WILLIAMS: Well, hopefully tonight we have sparked a transcontinental mayoral friendship. Great thanks, gentlemen, for spending part of your time with us on a Friday night. To the Mayor of Boston, Marty Walsh, to the Mayor of Gallup, New Mexico, Louie Bonaguidi, thank you, mayors, both of you, for coming on.
Coming up, 75 years ago today, a different sort of enemy was defeated. Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author Jon Meacham on the many historical parallels to what we`re going through as people today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I learned a lot from Richard Nixon. Don`t fire people. I learned a lot. I study history, and the firing of everybody I should have in one way, but I`m glad I didn`t because look at the way it turned out. They`re all a bunch of crooks, and they got caught. But I learned a lot by watching Richard Nixon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: And that, we thought, called for a visit from Presidential Historian and Pulitzer Prize-Winning Biographer Jon Meacham. He is the host of a wonderful new podcast called Hope Through History, a five-part documentary series exploring other trying times in American history, how we as a nation dealt with those crises like the episode I listened to last night on polio.
Jon, the President says he studies history. The tail usually is something new introduced into his life is something he immediately mentions and then mentions several times again. What would you correct perhaps about his view of Richard Nixon?
JON MEACHAM, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, I`m not sure Nixon is -- if you`re an American president facing an extraordinary problem, Nixon is probably not the most reassuring place to go given what happened in august of 1974. So I`d start there.
The other thing that just to take him seriously briefly, the thing we remember about President Nixon, an immensely complicated man, that is almost universally acknowledged to be a great achievement was his going to China, opening the negotiations in `71, going in June of `72. If you hate Richard Nixon, you appreciate that he did that. When he did that, he was running against his entire political career. He was challenging the conservative base, the orange county base of the Republican Party, the cold war base that had put him in power. And we remember presidents most favorably not when they simply give their base what they want but when they challenge those assumptions and actually move the arc of history.
And so to me it`s fascinating that he would look at Nixon or talk to Roger Stone -- actually, to tell you the truth, that`s what I thought, is that he`s talked to Stone at some point this week because of Roger Stone`s -- he actually has a Nixon tattoo on his back. So if there`s --
WILLIAMS: Yes, he does.
MEACHAM: We would have seen the tail.
WILLIAMS: Jon, because I`m the type to listen to your podcast with great interest, it won`t surprise you to learn I made a list today of let`s call them the darkest months in American history in a century`s time. I put down the December of `41, September of `01, and the most recent entrant we have to say is April of 2020. In one month`s time, we lost over 67,000 souls and 20 million jobs. But on this 75th V.E. Day Anniversary, your task tonight as is your charge in this podcast series, remind us how we got through the other stuff.
MEACHAM: Blood, sweat, toil, and tears as Churchill said when he became Prime Minister in May of 1940, another one of those months that changed everything. It wasn`t easy. It`s never been easy. To look back is not to be nostalgic. It`s not to look back and sort of see Lowell Thomas and the march of time as if everything were inevitable. It`s to remind us that people in the past faced seemingly insuperable obstacles before and overcame them.
World War II is the defining drama in many ways of western life certainly, global life in so many ways. But remember, we didn`t get in -- you wrote down the month, December 1941. Hitler invaded Poland on September 1st, 1939. There were 80 percent of Americans didn`t want to even sell weapons to Europe.
Charles Lindbergh was the head of something that -- a phrase that has new resonance, America first. We got in the war after we were attacked by Japan and after Hitler declared war on us. It`s one of the great things to remember was that Churchill, I think, had it exactly right when he said that you can always count on the Americans to do the right thing once they`ve exhausted every other possibility. And we were dragged into that. We did the right thing, but we did it.
And I think the lesson of the moment is we don`t know the lesson yet. But we do know this, is that it`s going to require a kind of Marshall Plan of testing and rebuilding out of this.
WILLIAMS: Jon Meacham, the new host of a quarantine essential podcast along with all of his other writing. Jon, our thanks as always.
Coming up for us on a Friday night, an unfortunate consequence of COVID-19 on a specialty industry with an enthusiastic consumer base when we come back.
WILLIAMS: A devastating trickle-down effect of this coronavirus for beer lovers. Think about it. With most bars and restaurants still shuttered, think of the beer industry. Their product goes bad. It`s sitting in kegs in those bars and restaurants. Think about sports arenas. It`s a product that`s been separated from its potential consumers, and in many cases it has to now be destroyed. It`s bad for the big brands, yes. It`s especially bad for craft brewers. We get our report on this tonight from NBC News Correspondent Morgan Chesky.
MORGAN CHESKY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Poured and stored in kegs all across the country, a growing dilemma for America`s brew masters.
WIM BENS, LAKEWOOD BREWING COMPANY PRESIDENT AND FOUNDER: As a small craft brewer, the covid-19 crisis hit us pretty hard.
CHESKY: The shutdown gutted more than half his business overnight.
BENS: One of the things about beer and especially craft beer is that it`s a perishable product. It`s, you know, not unlike your loaf of bread that you`d buy at the grocery store. There is a shelf life on it.
CHESKY: With craft beer lasting one to three months, almost all of the nation`s 7,000 craft breweries are approaching their final pour. At wild acre brewery in Fort Worth, pale ales and pilsners now piling up without a soul to sip.
JOHN PRITCHETT, WILD ACRE BREWERY FOUNDER AND CEO: That pipeline`s shut off. You`re just kind of stuck with what you have.
CHESKY: How much do you have?
PRITCHETT: More than we need.
CHESKY: Way more. And what hurts even worse is what comes next.
BENS: When you can`t take beer to market for a couple of months that leads to unfortunately the dumping of beer.
CHESKY: A sobering scene straight out of 1920s prohibition. From coast to coast, countless pints poured out and dumped.
BENS: It`s unfortunate that we have to do it, but we really have no choice, and it sucks.
CHESKY (on camera): If the bars and restaurants don`t reopen fast enough, local brewers like wild acre could be in trouble. A nationwide survey shows up to half of all small breweries could have to shut their doors in the next three months.
(On camera) In South Carolina, aptly named liability brewing dumping 270 kegs if business doesn`t pick up. The lost beer is worth about $70,000. Back in Texas, a brand-new problem.
PRITCHETT: The city water supply can`t take just gallons and gallons of beer going down into the sanitary sewer. The water treatment plants won`t be able to handle this.
CHESKY: With draft beer headed down the drain, the only hope left lies in consumers grabbing a cold one.
BENS: We have a bottling line and a canning line so, you know, at least we can get beer to grocery stores, and we did get our PPP loan thankfully in the second round. So hopefully that will give us some runway here in the short time when we kind of figure out how this is all going to shake out.
CHESKY: Until then, no shortage of liquid courage here. Morgan Chesky, NBC News, Dallas.
WILLIAMS: More proof that everywhere you look, this has affected our life.
Coming up, a final word about the significance of today. Just ask the people who were around to see it back then.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing. Today is victory in Europe day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight, the generation that came before us walked around knowing this date as V.E. Day. People wept at the news. Newspaper front pages brought out their tallest typefaces. And while the grinding hot, brutal pacific campaign dragged on, we knew having beaten the Germans that the Japanese were next. Here`s how it was covered for movie newsreel audiences in this country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Throughout the world, throngs of people hailed the end of the war in Europe. It is five years and more since Hitler marched into Poland, years full of suffering and death and sacrifice. Now the war against Germany is won. A grateful nation gives thanks for victory. Hundreds of thousands crowd into American churches to give to God.
President Truman announced the official surrender.
HARRY TRUMAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is a solemn but glorious hour. I wish that Franklin D. Roosevelt had lived to see this day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: FDR had just died on April 12th. VJ day, the Japanese surrender, which meant peace on earth at long last, that didn`t arrive until August 15th. And proof that politics has always been cruel. Winston Churchill was voted out of office two months after leading Great Britain to victory over the Nazis and saving his island nation.
Finally and just for contrast, look at this. This is our life now. Having saved the world and vanquished tyranny, this is Times Square on the 75th anniversary of V.E. Day because we`re fighting our own battle now. And you have to wonder what would Ike or Winston or Franklin or Harry make of us right now?
That is our broadcast for this Friday night and for this week. Have a good weekend. Please be well. Be safe. We need you back here next week. 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