IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

"Vaccine or no Vaccine." TRANSCRIPT: 5/15/20, The 11th Hour w/ Brian Williams

Guests: Irwin Redlener, Lloyd Minor, Richard Haass, Eric Johnson

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening once again. Day 1,212 of this Trump administration. 172 days to go until the Presidential Election.

And for some perspective tonight we`ve lost 10,000 more people just since we came on the air a week ago tonight. Got to say the news out of the White House today was pretty great. President said, "Vaccine or no vaccine war back. He said, "We are doing a great job and more good news." He said, "It`ll go away at some point. It will go away." Then he added, "Other things have never had a vaccine and they go away."

Again today, he cited the 1917 flu pandemic, which is what he calls the 1918 flu pandemic. He said in many cases, you fight through it, but, "what we`d like to do if we can is the vaccine."

Speaking of the vaccine, the President further raised hopes today that one will be available by the end of the year, even though so many experts and doctors today immediately cast doubt on that.

And whenever there is a vaccine, the President felt the need to say today, "Not everybody is going to want to get it." He said the White House has managed this so well in dealing with the nation`s governors, "We`ve made a lot of people look very good." And that`s after he said again, today, "He inherited nothing from the previous administration."

He reassured the American people that Coronavirus effects, "a very, very small percentage of people." He said, "The vast majority, many people don`t even know they have it." He said again, "some of them have the sniffles." And he now says, as far back as January 11, "We were out there trying to develop a vaccine." January 11, that`s a full 11 days before he gave that first assessment on the virus when he said, it`s one person coming in from China, and it`ll be fine.

Well, back here in the real world tonight, as so many of us had into another quarantine weekend, the U.S. death toll stands at 88,101. The CDC projected today it`ll be at 100,000 by June 1. As of today, 48 states all but Connecticut and Massachusetts are now in the process of opening back up in some form or fashion.

Today in the Rose Garden, the President formally announced his vaccine development program, which he`s calling Operation Warp Speed.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There`s never been a vaccine project anywhere in history like this. And I just want to make something clear. It`s very important, vaccine or no vaccine went back.


WILLIAMS: Today the prestigious medical journal The Lancet went after the administration`s response to coronavirus. In an editorial they wrote this. The administration is obsessed with magic bullets-vaccines, new medicines, or a hope that the virus will simply disappear. But only a steadfast reliance on basic public health principles like test, trace and isolate, will see the emergency brought to an end.

Again, that`s the Lancet, not the Washington Post editorial page. Here`s some more of what we heard from the President today on what the Lancet calls magic bullets.


TRUMP: Another essential pillar of our strategy to keep America open is the development of effective treatments and vaccines as quickly as possible. I want to see if we can do that very quickly. We`re looking to, when I say quickly, we`re looking to get it by the end of the year if we can, maybe before. We`re doing tremendously well.


WILLIAMS: You see Dr. Fauci there and a mask because he was exposed to a member of the White House staff who tested positive. The President`s new vaccines are, told The New York Times today developing and producing a vaccine by January is a credible objective, but added, "Frankly 12 to 18 months is already a very aggressive timeline."

This as the Washington Post reports, today, there`s growing friction between the White House and the CDC. Post reports at this way. White House official said they are frustrated but what they consider the agency`s bulky flow of data and information. The leak of an early version of the CDC is reopening recommendations, and the agency is crucial early failure to create and roll out a test for the virus.

Meanwhile, the issue of wearing masks once again came up today during the event in the Rose Garden, as we said Dr. Fauci could be seen in a mask. So as Dr. Birx there on the left. Trump was not wearing one. And the President indeed was asked about it.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, could you just clarify, why are some of you wearing a mask and why are some of you not wearing a mask?

TRUMP: We`ve all been tested. I`ve been tested. We`ve all been tested and we`re quite a distance away and we`re outdoor. So I told them I gave them the option they could wear it or not. So you can blame it on me but I gave them the option. We could wear it or not.


WILLIAMS: Here for our leadoff discussion on a Friday night. Susan Page, Washington Bureau Chief for USA Today. A best-selling author who`s now at work on a biography of the Speaker of the House. Shannon Pettypiece, Veteran Journalist, Senior White House Reporter for us at NBC News Digital, and Dr. Irwin Redlener, a Pediatrics Physician, a clinical professor with the School of Public Health at Columbia University in New York, where he also happens to be the Director of Columbia`s National Center for Disaster Preparedness with an expertise in pandemic influenza.

Shannon, what was that event about today? The Medical Ethicist Arthur Caplan watching live coverage, guessed right afterwards, that it was about re-election that that`s what the end of the year buzz phrase is all about.

SHANNON PETTYPIECE, NBC NEWS.COM SENIOR WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, it`s really the way we started the week. So on Monday, the President was in the Rose Garden held a big event about testing, that was around messaging to governors, to the public, that we have the testing capability in place to reopen and to get back to normal and business as usual.

Now, a lot of people have said, we don`t get back to normal until we have a vaccine. We don`t have a stadium full of people until we have a vaccine. So we end the week talking about vaccines and this, you know, very as you detailed lofty goal by the President to have a vaccine by the end of the year. So giving the public this this assurance that we will be returning to normal by the end of the year with a vaccine, of course, as you laid out that is incredibly aggressive. And I will know too, you know, this was also intended to sort of launched this Manhattan style project to raise a vaccine to the public too by bringing in the military to be who will distribute this theoretical vaccine that we don`t actually have yet.

But we`re in May. And this virus was first identified in January. And so there`s a question here of why are we now in mid-May launching this Manhattan style project to get a vaccine to market?

WILLIAMS: Dr. DR. Redlener, more experts today forced to, in other words, singing for their supper, the Health and Human Services Secretary whose literal first words were to thank the President for his leadership. The American public was today promised, the promise was held out that we`ll have a vaccine by the end of this year. Is that possible in your view?

DR. IRWIN REDLENER, EXPERT ON PANDEMIC INFLUENZA: Oh, Brian, you know, what`s another day of POTUS in Wonderland here? It is preposterous to make that statement and also to kind of mislead the American people about what`s possible, what`s not possible. We can have a vaccine in two months if we wanted to forego the absolutely critical phase of long human testing to make sure that the vaccine works, and most importantly, that it`s safe. It is impossible to get that done by the end of the year. And this is clearly a like you indicated earlier, a some sort of play or ploy to create the narrative that`s going to play out for the November election campaign.

So yeah, I think it`s a lot going on here. But what wasn`t going on was truth telling to the American people. And I just can`t believe that my eyes every day to see the President, other members of staff without even a basic mask on. I don`t think he understands how impactful his words and his deeds are to Americans or looking in at him and he`s losing credibility. But that certainly plenty of people still sort of following his lead, of course, Brian.

WILLIAMS: Susan Page, here we are politically two nations in the face of an ongoing pandemic, in all your time on earth or, at minimum and all your time as a journalist. You ever recall a quote anything like this from a president, "Other things have never had a vaccine and they go away?"

SUSAN PAGE, USA TODAY WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: Well, it`s -- these are remarkable times. You know, I was struck today by something that you said to me two weeks ago on your show, you said, is there going to be a red American, a blue America reaction to this pandemic? And I said, no, you know, reality is going to make everyone see this in a similar way. And I`ve turned out to I think to be wrong. I think this has become yet another divide in our nation along partisan lines. It`s as though wearing a mask is the new gun control that, you know, it`s a sign not of common sense or health. It`s a declaration of liberty not to have a mask on. And I think that is why the President has refused with only the exception of one or two times to appear in a mask, even though, as Dr. Redlener was saying, it would be helpful to have the President modeling this behavior for everybody else in the country.

WILLIAMS: Yeah. Susan, indeed. And thank you for your candor. And I remember that discussion and giving it some thought. I think we have two diametrically opposed patriotic duties, the patriotic as a duty as some see it to stay in, the patriotic duty as some see it to go out. They can`t both exist. Technically, medically, scientifically, I don`t think during a pandemic, Susan.

PAGE: Yeah, that`s right. And there`s costs both ways. That`s the point the President has made. But we do know from every national public that we`ve seen that Americans continue to be more concerned about the health than they are about the economy. They are more concerned about not going out too soon, having another wave of a terrible pandemic, seeing even more people die. I mean, 100,000 Americans are going to die. By June 1, it`s you just can`t even get your head around it. So the most Americans are on that sort of thing. But we have a really vocal minority that feels quite differently, that it is time to get out and it is wrong for the government to tell them that they need to stay home.

WILLIAMS: Shannon Pettypiece, the President in his own words, trotting out the date of January 11 2020. "We were out there trying to develop a vaccine." A full 11 days before he was -- he ever commented on it. I know you`ve been attending the White House news briefings. I know today, you asked the Press Secretary in line with this. Well, then were you guys laying in extra PPE increasing your stockpiles prior to January. What kind of an answer did you get on that?

PETTYPIECE: Well, it was an interesting answer and one that has fit with some reporting that I have been hearing when I have asked, you know, of course, the President was in office for three years before this happened at the cupboards were bare. Why didn`t you stop them? And, you know, what Kayleigh McEnany, the Press Secretary told me today is that the administration at that point, before this was more focused on responding to a bioterrorism event, then some sort of mass pandemic, some sort of respiratory pandemic. And that`s similar to what HHS officials have told me that there`s always been this push and pull inside the U.S. government about are we going to invest more in vaccines or an anthrax attack or a smallpox attack? Or are we going to invest in the type of medical supplies you would need to respond to a SARS or bird flu or big respiratory pandemic like we`re seeing right now.

And the pendulum swung back and forth but going into this panel endemic, there had been a big move towards putting that 500 million or so a year towards vaccines, building up the stockpile things like a smallpox vaccine. You know, it`s anybody`s guess which one`s going to get us first, that or a respiratory infection and it turned out that it was a respiratory pandemic.

You know, but when we are asking the question, well, why were the cupboards bare? And where was the PPE? That`s part of the answer to it. And, you know, the statement that there was no PPE and the cupboards were bare as an exaggeration. But the Obama administration had used a lot of that and Ebola and H1N1, and we`re not replacing because this emphasis on vaccines. That`s what I`ve been hearing from former HHS officials.

WILLIAMS: Of course, the missing link, as you pointed out is the three years they had during their administration. Dr. Redlener, I`m going to play for you something. This is the President today on testing.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you have any concerns about the Abbott test, given some of the new numbers that come out about --

TRUMP: No Abbott, it`s a great test. It`s a very quick test. And it can always be very rapidly double checked. If you`re testing positive or negative. It can always be double check, but it`s a very good test, very portable, very quick. OK.


WILLIAMS: Doctor, the President has been actively promoting the Abbott test. He`s had the product out there displayed next to him on a small table with the presidential seal. The Abbott test happens to be the subject of a CDC advisory warning of upwards of a 50% false positive, false negative rate. What do you make of that?

REDLENER: Well, I mean, it`s preposterous to be pushing this test it has not been fully tested before it was released. And a 50/50 chance you might as well just flip a coin. It is a ridiculous situation. And we`ve been put in here now with admin actually, there`s almost 400 tests that have been given this emergency use authorization by the FDA and we still don`t have what we need to have which is accurate, reliable, really ability to test on the spot and do it rapidly.

Without that, by the way, this is a terrible, dangerous situation for the governors to be reopening any businesses until we have actual available test that at the point of service can be done, it can be done rapidly. I don`t want to take my family nor does anyone else into a restaurant if we know -- if we don`t know whether or not the kitchen staff, the servers and so on are negative or positive. And we need to hold up on this rush to get things open. It`s too soon. It`s too dangerous. It`s a political ploy. And it`s very unsettling. Brian.

WILLIAMS: Susan Page, a longtime friend of this broadcast, and many of us, Kimberly Atkins tweeted this today. I`m going to read it to you. Certainly, by now someone on the President`s team has told him when the 1918 flu pandemic happened. So why the insistence on saying 1917? Clearly it`s an intentional message, but I don`t understand what the message is. Susan, what do you think that`s about?

PAGE: I don`t have the slightest idea. Because we all know if we call it the 1918 flu pandemic, I mean, how could it be clear about the dates? It`s like, I was buried in Grant`s Tomb? But maybe we need to get Jon Meacham or Michael Beschloss here to find this does.

WILLIAMS: Indeed, I just read the entire book on the 1918 flu pandemic and searched throughout for 1917. And there it is 1918 right there in the title. I can`t thank you, three enough for joining us after another long week that we`ve all experienced late on a Friday night. Susan Paige, Shannon Pettypiece, Dr. Erwin Redlener, our great appreciation.

Coming up for us, what will our new normal look like in this country? Our next guest says, it will all come down to three R`s, recovery, restoration, reopening.

And later, a group of screen legends with a very special request for Congress. And here`s a hint, Mitch McConnell`s probably not going to like to hear it. The 11th Hour is just getting started on a Friday night.



TRUMP: There`s never been a vaccine project anywhere in history like this. And I just want to make something clear. It`s very important, vaccine or no vaccine we`re back. And we`re starting the process.


WILLIAMS: The President today continuing to assess the American economy is reopening while a coronavirus vaccine is at the very least, still many months away. For more on this tonight, we welcome to the broadcast Dr. Lloyd Minor, he is the Dean of Stanford University School of Medicine. Dr. Minor has expertise in predictive medicine diagnostic research. Also, by training, he happens to be a head and ex-surgeon, a member of the National Academy of Medicine.

Doctor, what do we do in the face? And here`s another quote from our President. I wrote this down twice today. When you test, you find something`s wrong with people. Yesterday, he wondered aloud, testing may be overrated. Where should we be in your view on testing?

DR. LLOYD MINOR, DEAN, STANDFORD UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: Well, thank you, Brian. It`s good to be with you. Testing is important. It`s critically important as we move towards, recover, restore and reopen. What we know the new normal is going to involve continuing our social distancing, continuing to shelter in place in areas that still have a high incidence of infection. But increasingly, as the infection rate declines, we`ll be able to gradually restore some activities gradually release some of the restrictions on social distancing.

But we`re going to have to be able then to test people rapidly who developed symptoms, and if they do have the infection, to make sure that they`re quarantined and their contacts are traced.

WILLIAMS: What if -- can you use all of your predictive powers and let us in on what you think, Thanksgiving, Christmas time will be like, talk about the new normal coming in a matter of months. What is a Stanford home football game going to look like? Is the stadium going to have checkerboard separated seating? Will there be a crowd, do you reckon in Stanford by this fall?

MINOR: I think it`s unlikely that we`re going to be able to have large scale gatherings of people as in a large scale, football game or other event that brings a lot of people in contact with each other in one location, that I think is going to be longer than the fall before that`s feasible. I do think that if we`re able to continue to lower the incidence in across the country, and we`re able to scale up testing and have contact tracing, that we will be able to resume some of our normal activities that will be able to be in public places, probably with masking to be safe. But we have to have these other elements in place before we can move forward with that plan.

WILLIAMS: If and when we get a vaccine, do you need closer to 7 billion doses of a vaccine to cover the planet with it?

MINOR: We`re going to need a lot of doses. We know that based upon the transmission rate, the infection rate of this virus that we`re going to need to have immunity in a large proportion of people in an environment in order to curtail the epidemic. We probably need to have immunity in 60 to 80% of people.

Now vaccine offers a very promising way to achieve that immunity on a relatively short timescale compared to the development of immunity from other mechanisms. But until we have a vaccine on board, we also need to focus on antivirals on treatment in the outpatient setting, on enabling more and more people who become infected to recover safely at home. Those are areas of emphasis as well.

WILLIAMS: Few places on earth are quite as beautiful as the Stanford campus on a beautiful day in California. And when you walk around town when you see people who appear to be going back to pre-coronavirus life, people who and we`re fighting human nature, we say it all the time. Want to go to a bar, go to a restaurant, go to the beach, what are your thoughts?

MINOR: Well, first, I`m really pleased and proud to be a member of the Stanford community. I think we have responded very responsibly to this crisis, both in our healthcare delivery system, where we provide care to people in our region, and our university and our broader community. And I think that`s been a main reason why, although we were an initial hotspot in terms of numbers of cases, we`ve been able to curtail that and dramatically lower the number of new cases in our region. But we have to continue to be vigilant careful, it`s really difficult. There`s never been this degree of change and disruption in our life. Certainly in my lifetime, I think in almost all of our lifetimes. And I know it`s difficult, but it absolutely is the safest thing to do. And it`s the way we`re going to protect ourselves and broader society moving forward.

WILLIAMS: It`s nothing to your point, it`s nothing less is it than a fight against human nature, especially this time of year?

MINOR: Well, that`s certainly true. It is, of course, possible to be outside and maintain social distancing. To wear a mask where appropriate, but we have to keep those things in mind. We know that this is a respiratory virus, it`s principally transmitted by droplets. And those droplets can travel some distance. But if we maintain social distancing, and look for environments where we`re not in crowded, crowded in large numbers of people, then we can safely enjoy some of the things that we were able to really do without thinking about it before.

WILLIAMS: Dr. Lloyd Minor, Dean out of Stanford Med, thank you very much for making time for us on a Friday night.

MINOR: Thank you, Brian. It`s good to be with you.

WILLIAMS: We really appreciate it. And coming up for us, the President says he puts America first when dealing with the pandemic, but what does that mean for the rest of our world? Veteran Diplomat Richard Haass is with us. He`ll let us in on that when we come back.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These vaccines were manufactured that we`re going to be focused on and manufacturing. They`re all going to be right here in the USA.

Now we`re working as I said, with other people outside, we know exactly where the other countries are, and will be very happy if they were able to do it. We`ll help them with delivery. We`ll help them with it in every way we can. We have no ego when it comes to this.


WILLIAMS: Comforting at minimum that we know exactly where the other countries are. But it was clear again today America First is the rallying cry, even when it comes to this vaccine. The botched handling of this pandemic and the nation`s persistently increasing death toll prompted this scathing headline to top the very latest column from Eugene Robinson of "The Washington Post", the United States as a country to be pitied.

Our next guest veteran diplomat Richard Haass writes in his new book, quote, the United States cannot be an example to others around the world, nor can it effectively promote order abroad. If it is divided at home, distracted by domestic problems and lacking in resources.

We`re happy to have with us tonight Richard Haass, a veteran diplomat under multiple presidencies, the longtime president of the Council on Foreign Relations, and importantly, the author of his latest work "The World: A Brief Introduction".

Richard, thank you for coming on. Good evening. Why is our friend Eugene wrong? Or is he dead right?

RICHARD HAASS, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS PRESIDENT: Well, look, the reaction around the rest of the world when they looked at the United States is a lot of headshake. This is not the United States they thought they knew or in fact, they didn`t know. We`re not setting an example that anyone in the world wants to emulate. Given the periodic, if you will or ineptness of our response to the partyness, the inconsistency in messaging, we still don`t have enough testing. Statistics about deaths are obviously overwhelming. So in that sense, and people look at us, it`s not what they want to see

And also Brian, as you know, this isn`t unique. They look at the dysfunctionality of American politics. They fly into the country, and they see the age and the tearing down of all of our infrastructure and on and on. And there`s a sense that there`s something wrong with the United States that is pervasive. If you go to our friends and allies in the world, that`s what they say.

WILLIAMS: It appears that if the president can`t lead on leadership if he can`t run for reelection, on things like health care, if he`s running away from a growing death toll, it looks to everybody like apparently he`s going to run against Barack Obama. And against China on the ladder, which gets into your forte, what`s the danger of that?

HAASS: This century more than anything else is going to be framed and defined by the relationship between the United States and China. But the two most powerful countries, the two most influential countries, and to go out of our way to pick a fight with China, a snack, how that helps us if we need Chinese help, saying dealing with North Korea`s nuclear capability and dealing with climate change, obviously, in dealing with pandemics.

But look, China has behaved badly on this from the get go. Most recently, the reports that they`re trying to steal American intellectual property, the work we are doing on antivirals and vaccines they covered up, they allowed people to escape behind. So no one should be making the case for China here.

But again, what we need is a foreign policy that can push back against China where needed, but on the other hand, still reserves the potential to cooperate with China selectively when it isn`t our interest.

WILLIAMS: You`re a veteran of the State Department. How much does the State Department in the time of Richard Haass, how much of it survives today by percentage?

HAASS: Well, the State Department is much diminished in quantity and quality and influence. I would think, for the next Secretary of State, one of his big or her big jobs really needs to be rebuilding the foreign service, rebuilding our diplomatic capability.

For the most important tools, we`ve got the military tool, Brian, but we tend to overuse it. We`ve got sanctions, we got tariffs, again, we tend to overuse those. We need to strengthen America`s diplomats and diplomacy. And they`re the frontline there, if you will, the soldiers of American national security. Their tool, however, is diplomacy and negotiation, consultation, and we simply don`t have enough of it.

WILLIAMS: I was reminded tonight that about a month ago you wrote that the pandemic rather than reshaping the world would accelerate it. Explain that and has it come true in the intervening 30 days?

HAASS: My argument was simply that if I looked at all the trends that existed before you and I and anyone watching this ever heard of COVID-19, who would have had things like a deteriorating U.S.-China relationship, we would have had a European project, the European Union, that was moving backwards rather than forwards, the rise of nationalism, the rise of populism. I mentioned already a North Korean nuclear program and Iranian nuclear program, average (ph) in Venezuela. I could keep going, you get the idea.

But all of those things are still there, including most of all, the United States that is more distant than ever from its traditional mantle of world leadership. We`re distracted and increasingly we don`t have the resources to bring to bear on the world. That`s a -- it`s such a bad combination right now.

You know, here we are talking tonight. You`ve got all the old national security agenda, including China and Russia. Now you`ve got this new national security agenda, climate change, pandemics, what have you, all at a time, the United States, our alliances are in really disrepair. We`re going to have to spend trillions of dollars here at home, most of our bandwidth is going to be preoccupied here at home. So we`re going to have less ability and willingness to be involved in the world.

But and it`s a big but the principal lesson of this pandemic, is the world affects us fundamentally. And all of that makes for a really worrisome future.

WILLIAMS: Reputationally how do we get it back?

HAASS: Look, reputations take a lifetime to earn and they can be lost rather quickly. Personally and professionally, in this case for the country, I think it`s going to be a slow earn. And by that I mean a slow return, it`s going to mean economic recovery. The once again have positive growth United States is what a fifth to a quarter of the world`s economy. That`s one thing.

I think the example we set here at home, in terms of our politics, in terms of our society, that will make a big difference. And then it`s what we do in the world. We once again have to become predictable. We have to become reliable. Friends and allies who put their security eggs in our basket. They`ve got to know that`s a wise choice. They`ve got to know that if and when push comes to shove we can be counted on.

So it means the United States needs to stop beating up on its allies start working with them, rejoined some international agreements essentially, be the United States that beginning in World War II and for the last three quarters of a century, has essentially made the world work.

And as a result has done things like made the world more peaceful, more free, and much more prosperous. We once again need to become that United States.

WILLIAMS: Our thanks to our friend Richard Haass, a thinker and writer and diplomat once again, the book is "The World: A Brief Introduction" handy to have around these days when we need so many things explained. Richard, thank you very much for joining us. Great to see you again.

And coming up for us after another break is America`s ninth largest city ready to reopen? Well, ready or not. We`ll talk to the mayor.



MAYOR ERIC JOHNSON (D-TX), DALLAS: I want us to make sure that we are being a good partner, to the governor and to the state and making sure that we help our private businesses comply with the order but doing so in a way of course that prioritizes the safety of our residents.


WILLIAMS: Some businesses in Texas have been open now for two weeks including restaurants, golf courses, gun ranges. The next phase begins Monday with Jim`s manufacturing coming back online. The reopening is moving forward despite jarring headlines that warn the situation there remains pretty dire.

Just yesterday, the state confirmed 58 more confirmed Corona virus deaths. That`s a daily record for the state of Texas. And one new study says Dallas County could see a summer surge in COVID-19 cases.

For more, we are pleased to welcome to this broadcast, man with a tough job. Eric Johnson is the mayor of Dallas, Texas.

Mr. Mayor, if we were on the streets of your fine city tonight, what would it -- what would it seem like? What would it feel like?

JOHNSON: Well, I`m not on those streets right now. I`m at home. But I think what you`d see is that we don`t have as many people jumping back into the economy, as maybe some folks might have expected just because the governor said it`s okay to do so.

I think until we get the widespread testing and contact tracing that`s going to give people the confidence that the virus is on the decline in our community. You`re going to see people continue to trickle back in. But we have not seen the rush of people back into the economy yet.

WILLIAMS: If you see spikes and I`m curious how you`re going to be following data, are you willing to take that awful decision and move to shut it down again, God forbid if we get a second wave.

JOHNSON: Texas law is very clear in an emergency such as this, the Texas Disaster Act of 1975 gives that authority to the governor to issue orders that would Trump local orders and our governor has already said that from here on out, he wants these orders to come from Austin and to make them uniform across the state and he has superseded our ability to issue orders at the local level so it won`t come down to me most likely being able to order folks to go back home.

But here`s what we are doing. We`re telling everyone in Dallas, we have to be smart and we have to take care of ourselves. We need to continue to wear masks. We need to continue to socially distance, we need to continue to use good hygiene. We need to continue to think about our loved ones and our family and our friends and our neighbors and not engaged in behavior that`s going to put us at additional risk, but ultimately the governor is going to make the decisions from here on out on what opens when and whether or not we have a second spike or there`s a spike in the summer. The governor is going to have to make some tough decisions about what not we go back on stay at home.

WILLIAMS: Let`s talk about mask wearing, what have you noticed? Can you put a percentage next to how many of your residents, how many of your citizens have been wearing one because these two has been caught up in Red versus Blue politics just in these past few days in a pretty variable manner.

JOHNSON: And I truly hate the fact that mask wearing has become a partisan issue. I`ve been decrying that at every turn, because I just think it`s common sense and it`s the right thing to do, it`s conscientious thing to do. It`s not a sign of weakness. It`s not a sign of taking a political side to want to prevent the spread of this disease as much as we possibly can.

So, I`m all in favor of mass wearing. I think we should be doing that. I`m encouraging everyone to do that here locally. And anecdotally, when I do venture out of my house, I do go to City Hall once a week for council meetings. I do see people wearing masks. I can`t put an exact percentage on it. But I think we`re getting a pretty high level of voluntary compliance here in Dallas. I think people have gotten the message about flattening the curve and they`re trying to help us do that.

WILLIAMS: Finally, Mr. Mayor, your unemployment rate, locally, anything like mirroring the national numbers, these tragic national we`re seeing?

JOHNSON: We are seeing an impact here locally of our stay-at-home orders and the impact that our economy has had has been tremendous. We`re expecting a $25 million shortfall in our budget, this current fiscal year and maybe four or five times that much net next fiscal year.

So we are feeling the effects and our unemployment rate is rising. But we are doing everything we can here to advocate with our partners at the federal level, to get legislation that would help us be able to plug some of those holes and hopefully get some people back to work. We`re trying to push at the council level, Dallas First Policy to be able to hire locally and try to encourage our local businesses to do business with the city and put people back to work. So we`re doing all we can but we are feeling the pain.

WILLIAMS: Eric Johnson is the mayor of the city of Dallas, Texas. Thank you very much Mayor for spending some time with us on a Friday night. We greatly appreciate. My compliments to the artist of the artwork over your shoulder by the way.

JOHNSON: Thank you. That`s my son, William.

WILLIAMS: Fantastic. It takes a parent to note artwork from a kid. Thank you very much.

Coming up. Will there be any letters from Camp this summer? What the pandemic is doing the summer plans for millions of children and their anxious parents?


WILLIAMS: Let`s talk about a rite of summer, a normal summer that is and that summer camp. Books have been written about it, movies have been made, full grown adults recall formative stories from Camp like they were life crucibles, like they happened yesterday.

Kids look forward to it at least for the most part and let`s face it, even parents who cry at drop off, usually enjoy their subsequent freedom. This summer is different, of course. This year the Feds have had to release guidelines to help camp directors decide on how to proceed. Parents not so much.

Our report tonight from NBC News correspondent Sam Brock.


SAM BROCK, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From tug of war to arts and crafts, camp in the age of Coronavirus, is now at a crossroads for 20 million kids.

SARAH NEWMAN, PARENT: It`s something that they look forward to all year round --

BROCK: Sarah Newman is one of many parents deciding whether to send her boys to summer camp.

NEWMAN: There`s been talk about them testing them before they get on the bus to go to overnight camp, in which case if everyone passes that test, then they can all just quarantine together.

BROCK: Tonight, brand new guidance from the CDC doesn`t address testing specifically, but does establish checks and balances for camps, which appear to have wide discretion on whether or not to open.

The agency says health screenings for children and employees and following state and local orders are essential. The CDC also strongly suggesting social distancing measures, keeping kids in small groups and staggering drop off times.

JONATHAN GOLD, CAMP OWNER: In all of my years of camping, I think this is the most important summer ever.

BROCK: Jonathan Gold runs three-day camps in New Jersey and plans on keeping them open.

(on camera): You`re planning on opening your camps, how are you going to do that safely.

GOLD: We have to lay out all the protocols, all the safety things that we`re going to do to mitigate the risk and then let parents choose.

BROCK (voice-over): Other directors aren`t taking that chance. Ruben Arquilevich is shutting down 15 overnight camps.

RUBEN ARQUILEVICH, URJ CAMPS, NFTY AND IMMERSIVE PRESIDENT: Both unknown risks and the unknown risks really threatened our most sacred value. That`s the value of health and safety and life.

BROCK: A great camp debate for those trying to keep this cherished experience going.

(on camera): What`s your favorite part about Asher (ph)?

ASHER (ph): Definitely the swimming. The pool they have gone up to eight feet.

BROCK: That`s crazy.

(voice-over): The hallmarks of summer hanging in the balance for many families.

Sam Brock, NBC News.


WILLIAMS: And think about another tradition this time of year that`s been blown sky high and that`s graduation. Along those same lines, we have a programming note for you tonight. Tomorrow evening, 8:00 Eastern Time on this very network we`re going to be holding a special event for high school graduates of 2020. Graduate together is going to feature musical performances, inspiring messages curated by students and educators across our country. It will also as you may have heard feature a keynote address by one Barack Obama, former two-term President of the United States. So that is coming up for us tomorrow night.

On tonight`s broadcast, some of the biggest names in Hollywood. They have a message they would like very much for you and our lawmakers to hear.


WILLIAMS: Time for the last thing before we go tonight. Keep in mind as you watch this, the president repeated today we`re going to take care of our seniors in this pandemic. What we have for you tonight is a public service announcement from some of our favorite stars. It`s about the subject of this last hour, our nation our world, this pandemic that we find ourselves in the middle of.

We will let them tell you for themselves, but the gist of it is this. They`re dying to vote in November. They just don`t want to risk death by voting in November.




GEORGE TAKEI, ACTOR: I`m George Takei here.

HARRY BELAFONTE: I`m Harry Belafonte.

REINER: This November for many of us, won`t be safe to go to the polls.

MORENO: I am almost 89 years old.

TAKEI: I`m 83 years old.

BELAFONTE: I`m 93 years old.

REINER: I`m 98 and two months old, and I have to choose we can buy right to vote --

MORENO: And my desire to live.

TAKEI: Luckily, there`s a simple solution.

BELAFONTE: Voting by mail.

MORENO: But to do that, we need Congress spoke.

REINER: Although we`re dying to vote, we`d much rather just vote not die.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Congress needs to give states resources to expand absentee voting during the pandemic. Call Mitch McConnell and tell him older Americans shouldn`t have to risk their health to vote.


WILLIAMS: I`ll have what Carl Reiner is having. They also speak for a good many young people, some of our favorite names in the entertainment business, taking on politics to play us off the air tonight.

That is our broadcast for this Friday evening and for this week, thank you so much for being here with us. Have a good weekend. Please stay safe and well and on behalf of all 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