CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. It
has now been nearly two months since the first coronavirus case was
confirmed here in the United States, case numbers have exploded
exponentially since then. The first confirmed case in the U.S. came in
January on March 1st. By the NBC News count, we were at 89 cases by March
10th. Nine days later, we`d shut up to 781 cases. And now today just eight
days after that, we`re crossing 8,000 cases and counting.
Of course, that`s just the measurements we have with the limited testing
capacity. 139 people have died in the United States from the virus so far.
Italy, which was hit hard before we were, just had its worst day yet,
reporting 475 deaths in a single day. That`s an increase from about 350 the
day before. It brings its total deaths from coronavirus to nearly 3,000.
Now, two important things to note here. One, deaths are probably the
biggest lagging indicator we have as this pandemic makes its way through a
specific locale. People who are succumbing to this virus now are almost
certainly people that were probably infected two weeks ago. And number two,
10 days ago, Italy instituted essentially a national quarantine in a
desperate attempt to slow the impact of the virus, which left its streets
largely empty. We should soon start to have a sense of how effective that
measure has been.
Meanwhile, here in the U.S., it remains difficult for many to get testing.
The testing capability continues to lag disastrously behind other developed
countries. As of a week ago, we only tested 23 people per million in the
U.S. That puts us far behind our fears including South Korea where
widespread testing has played a huge role in controlling a virus.
Right now, testing capacity is shooting up as our nation is in the process
of shutting down. 38 states has shut down K through 12 schools. Nearly
seven million people in Northern California are under a Shelter in Place
Order. Bars, gyms stores, other spaces have closed in much of the country.
And as some Americans continue to blindly ignore the virus and put others
at risk, many of us are now practicing self-distancing, or even in some
Right now, the worst centers the outbreak includes Seattle and here in New
York City are preparing for an onslaught of emergency room visits. It`s
already coming as they see more and more patients. There is still, along
with the testing shortage, there is urgent shortage of protective personal
equipment for frontline health care workers.
You know what it looks like. We`ve been running B-roll of this all over the
world for two months, all right. We already know that healthcare workers
around the country are testing positive. We`re going to talk about that.
And meanwhile, the social and economic consequences continue to set in for
all of us. Both in our personal allies, as those of us with young children,
home from school for the indefinite future found ourselves and our spouses
And in our economy where the leading indicators in the past few days are
signaling just enormous devastation. The Dow tumbled dramatically again
today, nearly wiping out the entirety of the gains that is seen during the
Trump presidency. A wave of workers has been filing for unemployment after
losing jobs due to the virus.
Consider this. Ohio`s three-day total for jobless claims for Tuesday was
78,000 compared with only about 3,000 for the same period last week. JP
Morgan Chase is now forecasting a staggering 14 percent drop in GDP in the
second quarter, 14 percent.
Facing what is already an economic disaster, the Republican-led Senate
today passed a second coronavirus aid bill, which came from the Democratic-
lead House after frankly, inexcusable five-day delay for Mitch McConnell
who`s sent his whole Senate caucus home and went back to Kentucky for the
three day weekend.
Late tonight, we learned that one of the Republican House members that
voted to pass that emergency coronavirus legislation is also the first
member of Congress to contract the virus or at least the first to test
positive. Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida, the brother of my NBC
News colleague Jose Diaz-Balart tweeting tonight, he tested positive for
the virus but is feeling much better.
The bill that was passed in the House now passed in the Senate awaiting the
president`s signature mandates free testing for the virus as well as paid
emergency leave for those infected or caring for a family member. It also
includes additional money for Medicaid, which is key as Medicaid will have
to pick up a lot of the funding slack for overwhelmed state health systems.
It provides food assistance and expanded unemployment benefits.
Now, that`s just the start, OK. There is another stimulus package we know
is coming down the pike. The White House seems to be coming around to the
idea of direct cash assistance and small business assistance both of which
are needed. Airlines have requested a $50 billion bailout with White House
support after, we should note, having spent billions in recent years
increasing executive pay and investor returns.
Right now, we are I keep saying this but it keeps being true. And
unprecedented terrain. Everyone, all of us are figuring this out by the
minute by the hour by the day. There are people who are seizing leadership
in these times that are experts to consult with. We`re going to talk to
My first guest, Democratic governor of New Jersey, Phil Murphy. Governor,
how are things in your state at this hour?
GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D-NJ): Chris, good to be with you. We`re doing everything
we can to stay out ahead of this, but we`re fighting the fight. We started
meeting on this in January. We formed a statewide Task Force on February
2nd, whole of government, but we`re battling. We`ve got 427 cases up 162,
by the way, overnight, five fatalities. We`re doing everything we can to
flatten that curve as aggressively and proactively as we can, and at the
same time, build capacity in our healthcare system and protect our
healthcare workers. You can`t do one without the other.
And as you suggested, this comes with an enormous economic toll on
individuals on small businesses. And frankly, the states are stepping into
that void. And we`re going to need help in a big way from the federal
government. I`ll bet you in our region, that`s probably to the tune of $100
billion of block grants for New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania
at a minimum. What we`re doing, we`re fighting the fight and doing
everything we can to stay out ahead of this.
HAYES: Let me ask you some specifics. A few things that have been raised.
First of all, testing capacity has ramped up in some places and not as much
in others. It continues to be quite uneven. What is the testing capacity
look like in New Jersey? How far are you from being where you need to be?
MURPHY: Well, we`re still not there, but it is expanding and it`s expanding
meaningfully. We`re going to open our first drive-through testing site for
symptomatic folks. On Friday, in Bergen County, which is our hardest-hit
county, we hope to have a second drive-through testing opened early week.
And by the way, part of the reason the numbers are going up is certainly
because of the community spread element here, particularly in some of our
counties, but it`s also because our testing capabilities are ramping up so
more people are testing for the virus. But that -- you know, we`re not
where we need to be on the testing front, but we are with each passing day
HAYES: What about personal protective equipment for healthcare workers?
I`ve been hearing -- I`ve been overwhelmed with messages from frontline
health care workers, talking about it being rash and talking about not
having access to it, really concerned about that. What does that look like
in your state?
MURPHY: Yes, not nearly where it needs to be. We had a call today with the
heads of our hospital systems and healthcare systems, along with
representatives of the extraordinary healthcare workers, they are our
heroes. We have put in now a couple of times a very large ask of the
strategic stockpile in the federal government. I`m gratified we got a
fraction of our requests last Thursday night overnight.
We`ve ordered million N-95 ourselves, but that`s probably still a month
away. We really need another slug from the federal government. And that`s
something that we`re in conversations with Vice President Pence and his
colleagues. We`re not where we need to be. We need a lot more personal
protective equipment. And we`ll keep that at until we get it.
HAYES: Finally, I want to talk about coordinating this all with other
states. I know that you and Governor Lamont and Cuomo have been
coordinating on things like you know, sort of shutting down restaurants and
bars, things like that. How is that coordination working? Why is it so
important for you to work with them on these things?
MURPHY: It`s working quite well. And I want to give them a shout out as
well as Governor Wolf from Pennsylvania. The coordination matters here.
There`s impact with bigger numbers. When -- you know, I mentioned we were
as aggressive as any American state at flattening the curve, restricting
travel between 8:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. for essential folks only shutting
bars and restaurants, shutting all of our schools, calling up the National
Guard, shutting gyms, theaters, casinos, etcetera.
If you only do that as one state, you know, given our location, we`re the
densest state in America, we got neighbors right beside us, that`s not
enough. So, doing it in coordination with New York, Connecticut,
Pennsylvania, in particular, I hope that list -- that list expands that has
much more power and has much more of an impact on flattening the curve.
Again, as I said, that does not come without economic consequences, and
they are enormous. And that notion of block grants to help our states to
continue to provide those services for the individuals and small business
is going to be essential.
HAYES: All right, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, thank you for being with
MURPHY: Thanks, Chris.
HAYES: The President`s tone and rhetoric has shifted somewhat over the last
few days, but rhetoric is not going to get the job done. There is a ton of
governing capacity in the federal government that needs to be marshaled in
every way possible. Shockingly, right now, almost none of it is being
A stunning story in New York Times goes through all the ways in which the
Trump ministration has failed to enlist the full force of the federal
government. They report the Department of Veterans Affairs, which is
legally the nation`s backup healthcare system and national emergencies is
still waiting for request to help. The system of emergency doctors and
nurses around the country known as the National Disaster Medical system has
not received orders beyond caring for quarantine to cruise ship passengers.
A spokesperson for the Army Corps of Engineers, which has aided in major
disasters like Hurricane Katrina, told The Times, "The U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers is prepared to assist the nation in times of crisis to the very
best of its capabilities. We are postured to lean forward when an official
request is received through the Department Defense. However, at this time,
we have not been assigned a mission.
Joining me now are Ron Klain, who served as the U.S. Ebola Response
Coordinator under President Barack Obama, and Dr. Craig Spencer, and
emergency room doctor who`s practice all over the world battling infectious
diseases. You may remember his name because he was the doctor who volunteer
to go fight the Ebola epidemic in 2014 and then contracted the disease.
Ron, I want to start with you on this sort of the shocking Times stories,
and some of the things we`ve heard coming out of the administration even
today saying that they`re going to sign off on the Defense Production Act,
which would allow sort of wartime mobilization in factories. And the
president tweeting today, "we`ll do it as a last resort." What is your
assessment of what capacity there is to be utilized that`s not being
RON KLAIN, FORMER U.S. EBOLA RESPONSE COORDINATOR: Look, Chris, I mean, I
listen to you talk to Governor Murphy, and I feel like we`re in 1786 under
the Articles of Confederation here. I mean, you know, the governors are
getting together to solve problems. I got great respect for Governor
Murphy, Governor Cuomo, Governor Lamont, Governor Wolf. It`s great they`re
But we have a federal government for a reason. Like we passed the
constitution and created a country for a reason. And that`s particularly
when this kind of nationwide threat faces ourselves that the government,
the federal government mobilizes. And so far, I agree, President Trump`s
rhetoric is bad in the past -- better than the past few days, but where is
You`re still hearing state after state where there aren`t tests. You`re
hearing state after state where there`s been no help on increasing their
hospital capacity, on moving the PPE, the protective gear to where it needs
to be. We`re about to face a three-pronged tsunami in our healthcare
system, a lack of adequate hospital beds, a lack of adequate gear, and
healthcare workers knocked out by the virus. Only the federal government
can solve those problems. And so far, better talk from Washington, but not
HAYES: Dr. Spencer, you have battled infectious diseases in the most dire
circumstances in the frontlines of Ebola, and you`ve practiced all over the
world. From your experience, what do we need right now at the sort of
ground-level point of care in the next few weeks?
CRAIG SPENCER, DOCTOR OF GLOBAL HEALTH EMERGENCY MEDICINE, COLUMBIA
UNIVERSITY: Yes, well, I think the most important question when you say,
what do we need right now? Well, we needed to be preparing for this weeks
ago, as Ron knows better than really anybody else. Preparation and
coordination are the things that save the most lives, in any response be at
a pandemic or any global health emergency.
We are well past the ball on that, unfortunately. We need to be ramping up,
you know, the millions of tests we were told we were going to have a couple
of weeks ago. All around the city, we are still discharging patients that
are not being tested, that have a very high likelihood of being -- of being
positive, because we just don`t have the capacity to be doing that right
That`s hampering our response. That`s putting more of my colleagues and my
friends in emergency rooms and ICUs all throughout the country at greater
risk. The other issue that Ron really pointed out is that there`s
increasing concern that we`re not going to have enough personal protective
equipment for us to do our job well.
I was thinking about this today. One thing that I never feared in West
Africa, treating Ebola patients was having enough personal protective
equipment. And so that`s something that I`m hearing a lot from my friends,
from my colleagues, how are you going to protect ourselves? Are we hearing
different guidance on what masks to be using because we don`t have the
right types of masks?
This is something that needs to happen now. There needs to be decisive
action. And unfortunately, we`re already a couple weeks behind the curve,
and we need to be acting as quick as possible to make sure people on the
frontline have the supplies they need to keep themselves safe, to keep
their families safe, to keep everyone else safe.
HAYES: To Dr. Spencer`s point about Ebola. I mean, one of the things that
was noted in that article is the Army Corps of Engineers was deployed to
Liberia, I believe, Ron, where it essentially built a command center to
stand up the sort of U.S. aided response abroad to the pandemic, right?
You`ve also got -- I mean, there -- I`ve been talking to people over the
last few days. There are all sorts of protocols in place.
The defense production act is one example. The USS Comfort, which is, of
course, the hospital ship, which was announced to great fanfare it`s coming
and it won`t be here for three weeks. There`s stuff there off the shelf to
access that I feel like is not being accessed.
KLAIN: Yes, absolutely. And first of all, again, great credit to all the
people who went to West Africa to fight this disease. Dr. Spencer, a great
hero, the members of the 101st Airborne. We sent them from Kentucky to West
Africa to fight this disease, to do logistical support, build a treatment
units, help with transportation, whatnot. We put 10,000 people on the
ground in West Africa to fight this disease over there.
What are we doing to fight this disease here in the United States? As Dr.
Spencer says, the men and women like him, the doctors, the nurses,
healthcare workers, they are in the front lines right now. Our hospital
emergency rooms are filling up. And they are -- they`re putting themselves
in the front face of this disease, and that`s obviously something we should
be thankful for. They`re grateful for their bravery, but the problem is
when they get sick, it`s not just a problem for them, it`s a problem for
us, as there aren`t doctors and nurses to treat us, and not just for
Today, a bunch of nurses in Philadelphia had to leave the hospital in the
labor and delivery room because they got the virus and they can`t deliver
babies This is going to affect right our entire healthcare system, not just
the virus, but every aspect of medical care in this country.
HAYES: You know, Dr. Spencer, you`ve -- you have practiced medicine in many
different places around the world and has seen systems of medical care in
different places, and state capacity. And that to me is really what we`re
sort of up against here. It`s a question of American state capacity. What
does the federal government have the capacity to do? What can it do? How do
you rate what we`re seeing, given that sort of competitive experience you
SPENCER: Yes, that`s a tough question. You know, I think what Ron has
pointed out is that we need the federal government to really step in to be
you know, not telling Governor`s to go find ventilators themselves, but be
thinking about how we can produce more of them at home as quickly as
I know that we need local and we need regional guidance and coordination on
this. That`s the way that we`re going to get the biggest benefit from this.
But, you know, one thing that I`ve been telling a lot of people is that
I`ve worked in a lot of places, I`ve worked in the middle of civil wars.
For me, what I`m thinking about in the next couple weeks is, and I hate the
war analogy, but how do we do mass casualty triage, knowing that we`re
really behind the ball in terms of testing with concerns about lockout of
PPE. If you look at what`s happened in Italy, 10 percent of the infections
are in healthcare staff. And we need to be thinking about how we`re going
to be preparing for that worst-case scenario.
I personally am used to working the worst-case scenario, but I know that`s
really daunting for a lot of my colleagues. So we all need to be there
right now to support them.
HAYES: I don`t want to sort of lean too far into the doom here. But when
you say, mass casualty triage, what do you mean by that?
SPENCER: Well, I mean, I think the concern is, you know, we`re --
especially here in New York City and in many places throughout the country
in big urban areas, we already have hospitals that are full. We have ICU`s
that are already full. Now, we have been canceling elective surgeries,
hopefully everywhere. We`ve been reducing and kind of shifting people out
from those hospital beds.
But you know, everyone that comes into the emergency room, whether they`re
there for coronavirus, or they`re there for a delivery, or a heart attack,
if we don`t have the providers, the protection, the personnel, and really
the capacity to be taken care of those people, we`re going to need to think
about what we`re going to do with a big influx of patients and how we`re
going to handle that. And that`s something that quite frankly, many of my
colleagues have never had to deal with.
HAYES: All right, Ron Klain and Dr. Craig Spencer, thank you, gentlemen
SPENCER: Thank you.
KLAIN: Thanks, Chris.
HAYES: The damage this will do and is doing the economy is probably unlike
anything we`ve seen in modern times, and the measures to get out of it need
to be massive. Senator Chris Murphy joins me on that next.
HAYES: It`s simply hard to overstate the impact the coronavirus pandemic is
having across our country and across the world. The economic devastation we
were about to plunge into becomes clear. The Senate finally passed the
House coronavirus aid bill priding things like free coronavirus testing,
requirements for more employers to offer paid sick leave. The bill now
opens up a conversation in both houses about what the next big rescue bill
will look like, and if it will include the proposal for direct cash
payments to Americans.
One of the Democratic senators who signed on to the idea of distributing
cash assistance to Americans is Chris Murphy of Connecticut, whose own
state is feeling the acute devastation of the virus between Friday. At the
end of the day yesterday, Connecticut saw 30,000 unemployment claims. Put
that in context, the state usually sees just 3,000 claims on a typical
week. Now, in four days, it`s 10 times that.
Joining me now is Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut. Senator, first I
guess, let`s begin with the Senate doing a thing it rarely does. We`ve
moving legislation to a vote. Five days late, but it happened today. Are
you happy with that?
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): I`m happy that we passed the bill. I`m happy that
we can now talk about our broader economic rescue package. But as you
mentioned, it was five days too late. And that`s a really important five
days. I mean, there were parents who went to work on Monday or Tuesday who
were symptomatic or who had a family member that was symptomatic, because
they didn`t know whether they were going to get paid sick leave. And had we
passed this bill when it was ready for action on Saturday or Sunday, there
might be thousands of people who didn`t go to work infecting others at the
beginning of the week.
And it wasn`t enough the Republicans stripped out provisions such that it`s
going to covered a lot fewer people. You can now get paid if you stay home
with a child who`s out of school, but you can`t get paid to stay home for a
child or a relative who`s sick or symptomatic. So, too late and too little,
but I guess I`m glad that we finally moved it.
HAYES: Well, now here -- now we go to the next phase. So you`re on a bill I
think with several -- I think there`s 18 co-sponsors, Democratic senators,
that would -- that would be a kind of cash assistance piece of legislation.
How would that work?
C. MURPHY: So what we`re proposing is pretty big and pretty bold. We`re
talking about a $2,000 cash payment to individuals and additional $2,000
for children, and then a trigger that would allow for a second series of
payments in the next quarter if unemployment remained high.
And I`ve -- you know, I`m living through what you just described in
Connecticut. We are seeing an onslaught of unemployment claims. We are
seeing businesses shuttered temporarily, many of which may not open back up
again. I don`t think you can really get your head around how big this
economic Cataclysm is and will be.
And so, if we don`t do something that`s right-sized, something in the
neighborhood of $1 trillion or more straight into the economy, immediately
into the economy, then I really think we could be looking at, you know, 10
percent, 12 percent unemployment numbers fairly quickly. So, I just don`t
want to regret having done something that was targeted in small when the
moment calls for something much bigger.
HAYES: You know, it`s interesting, you said targeting small because the
spokesperson for Nancy Pelosi today it was on Twitter defending the
speaker, kind of arguing against a universal cash payment plan offered by
economic policy (INAUDIBLE). And there`s a very interesting debate that has
been brewing ideologically for a long time. And now it`s like, it`s here.
What matters is what`s going to happen, this idea of sort of universal
programs and universal assistance and you can tax progressively as opposed
to means-tested ones. How are you thinking about that right now?
C. MURPHY: So our proposal is means-tested in the sense we would limit the
payments when you get to around $100,000 per individual. Now, that`s still
a lot of individuals. But I think it does stand to reason that there`s a
universe of Americans that don`t need this payment. And frankly, if they
got it, would just put it into the bank. But we do want this to be big
enough to have a macro effect on the economy.
And by the way, it doesn`t stand in substitution of all of the other
reforms we need. Snap is going to need to be increased, unemployment
compensation is going to be need to be reformed and expanded. There are a
whole host of other measures side by side with this cash payment mechanism
that are going to need to be part of this package.
HAYES: So here`s how I`ve been thinking about it in three buckets, and I`d
like to hear your feedback, right? So one is we have existing programs,
like you mentioned. We have unemployment insurance, we have snap that we
can just boost payment to those programs exist. We can put money. Number
two is cash, like however, it ends up happening, the Treasury is talking
about a $250 billion payment in April and one in May. I think the details
matter less than just getting it out, right?
The hard problem it seems to me, those are the relatively easy ones, is the
small business problem. I mean, you said, it`s an extinction-level event.
Like every small business in America is going to be out of business unless
some very creative, bold and immediate action is taken. How are you
thinking about that?
C. MURPHY: And I think you also, Chris, have to put that in context about
the overall trend line on entrepreneurship and startup businesses in this
country. We`re seeing less entrepreneurships, less people start businesses
in part because the big guys have been successful in gobbling up that
capacity. And that`s exactly what`s going to happen here.
As you have more small and medium-sized businesses go out of business, it`s
not as if that demand won`t be met, it will just be gobbled up by the
Googles and the Amazons, and all the rest who then won`t create any room
for small businesses to restart. So that`s why we do have to look at
something beyond just emergency loans that, frankly, are not very
meaningful for small businesses.
We`re going to have to look at some grant packages, spending money on a set
of businesses here to keep them alive or we`re just going to exacerbate the
overall trend line in services being provided to consumers from just a
handful of monopolistic giants.
HAYES: All right, final question for you, and it`s on something that you
and I have spoken a lot about, which is Iran. We keep talking about Italy
but Iran is having as bad time with the virus as Italy and probably worse
because we can`t really trust her numbers.
Italian -- Iranian American journalist Negar Mortazavi said this today.
"Iran faces coronavirus catastrophe. Researchers estimate Iran will not
peak -- reach the peak of the epidemic too late May. Up to 3.5 million
people could die as a result thanks to lack of international aid,
government mismanagement, new sanctions announced by the U.S. on Iran
yesterday by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. What do you think of that?
C. MURPHY: It`s not smart and it borders on inhumane. Listen, our sanctions
aren`t working. Let`s just be honest. It hasn`t stopped Iranian proxies
from firing at U.S. troops. It hasn`t stopped the Iranians from rebuilding
their nuclear program. It hasn`t stopped them from ramping up support for
their proxy forces in places like Syria and Yemen.
So our sanctions just haven`t been working to begin with. And now to lay on
additional sanctions, which will have the results of making it harder to
treat the people who are dying in that country from coronavirus, A, doesn`t
serve our national security interests, and ultimately undermines what our
long term goal is, and that is for the Iranian people to ultimately rise up
and just possess and anti-American regime.
Remember, young people in Iran are not reflexively anti-American. But they
will become anti-American very quickly if they see us essentially leading
to the further death and destruction the coronavirus is ravaging throughout
HAYES: All right, Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, thank you for making
time tonight. We are already approaching the worst-case scenario of trying
to stem the tide of infections by choking off society, the economy, which
then creates lots of misery all around. But there are -- there are some
examples of how to do it better, some hope maybe, some sun on the horizon.
We`re going to talk about that next.
HAYES: OK, so imagine you`re a world leader and you`re called into an
urgent, emergency meeting with your top advisers and they need you to make
a choice. They offer you door one or door number two. Behind door number
one, a raging viral pandemic that rips through your country infecting half
the population and killing off 1 percent of everyone, it then overwhelms
the health care system leading to a massive avoidable deaths and may begin
to imperil essential services as, say, workers that maintain the electrical
grid all start to get sick. That`s door number one.
Behind door number two, well, there you have a near total cessation of all
economic activity in your country, a full lock-down, and an economic
disaster possibly on the scale of the Great Depression that puts millions
out of work, plunges millions into poverty and lasts for an undetermined
period of time.
Not great choices. And we`ve seen over the course of this pandemic that`s
played out a number of countries have basically, their leadership has tried
to avoid choosing until they end up being pushed through door one, a
spiraling outbreak that`s so sudden and terrifying they try to scramble
back to go through door two.
That is what China did to a certain extent, hiding the virus, censoring
information, cracking down on people who talked about it until it became
too big to ignore. And then putting tens of millions of people under lock-
down, hundreds of millions under strict quarantine and travel restrictions.
Italy delayed in hopes it wouldn`t be so bad until it got out of hand and
they are now on lock-down seeing nearly 500 new deaths just today.
Boris Johnson in the UK first suggested that they were going to go the herd
immunity route and let the virus do its thing before he reversed course.
The Trump administration had the time and the benefit to learn from
countries that went before, but repeated the same mistakes and even made
new ones, failing at testing in a way that really no other country has. And
so now here we are with the outbreak going exponentially and the economy
plunging into a recession, if not a depression.
But if we adhere to social distancing, we stay home, we reduce the
potential of transmission and flatten the curve, here`s the thing, there is
only so long we can keep America in a kind of lock-down, that is not a
sustainable solution in the medium term.
So what if there`s a third door? What if with enough state capacity and
mobilization and leadership and ingenuity, you can create a society that
battles the virus, tracks and suppresses it while also allowing something
near normal life to continue?
Some countries seemed to have sledgehammered their way through to creating
a door number three just like that. We`re going to talk about what that is,
what the other side of this might look like next.
HAYES: The other day, my 8-year-old, my oldest daughter and 5-year-old son
were provoking each other the way siblings do and I finally lost my
patience, I said to them this is day one, day one of this whole thing, you
guys got to learn how to co-exist because it`s going to be awhile.
The awhile is of course what all of us want to know. How long is this going
to last? What are we in for here? The frustrating answer is right now we
just don`t know, but there are ways to think about how we would know, what
we need to know, and we can know what other countries experiences have
To get a better sense, just generally, of how long we`ll be dealing with
this. Here to talk about this is Caroline Chen, health care reporter for
ProPublica, whose latest report is titled "How many Americans are really
infected with the Coronavirus;" and Laurie Garrett, Pulitzer Prize-winning
journalist for her work reporting on the Ebola outbreak in Zaire, who has a
piece out today in Foreign Policy titled "Sorry America, the full lock-down
Let me start with that piece and the pessimism embedded in it, Laurie. When
your friends I`m sure -- and family members -- and everyone in your life
says to you how long is this going to go, what do you tell them?
LAURIE GARRETT, FORMER SENIOR FELLOW FOR GLOBAL HEALTH AT THE COUNCIL ON
FOREIGN RELATIONS: I tell them plan for eight weeks, because if it`s a
little less you`re ready, if it`s a little more, well, eight is so painful
that you`ll be ready for 12.
HAYES: eight weeks seems -- is eight weeks based on the Chinese experience,
the Italian experience?
GARRETT: Eight weeks is based on where we stand compared to the Chinese
trajectory, the Italian trajectory and the French trajectory. And if you
look at those, you can see we`re about eight days behind Italy, except that
actually, just in the last few days, our curve is going steeper than both
China and Italy. We could see an explosion any day now that will be quite
massive and will really extend for a tremendous amount of time.
HAYES: So Caroline, I wanted to talk to you tonight because I wanted to
talk about this idea of door number three. So, we have seen China after
tremendous cover-up and censorship and mismanagement in the beginning,
essentially lock-down the country and get a handle on it. But there are
three countries, or four countries if you count, Hong Kong, Taiwan,
Singapore, South Korea that have managed to sort of maintain some semblance
of normal life with mass testing and contact tracing. You`ve done reporting
on that. What is life like in those places?
CAROLINE CHEN, PROPUBLICA: Yeah, so I think that one thing that people
always talk about is culture. And culture differences, and I heard a lot of
people say, well, isn`t it just very un-American to lock everyone down?
But I think we don`t talk a lot about the very practical measures that were
put in place in some of these countries that have experienced outbreaks
like MERS and SARS, and that`s what we reported on, and that I have
experienced when I grew up in Hong Kong during SARS.
So, one things we covered was that Korea after their MERS experience
actually made reforms to make it easier for the government to just approve
test systems very quickly. So within weeks of the virus emerging, they had
four manufacturers who were able to make tests based off the WHO
recommended protocol pretty much near instantaneously, so they were able to
immediately start testing.
You know, Singapore has made testing and treatment free for its citizens to
encourage people to come straightforward and get testing really easily, and
similarly for Taiwan and Hong Kong. These are countries that were prepared.
So, it`s not just a cultural difference, but these are countries that
actually had systems in place, infrastructure in place to help them be
prepared, and so I think we can`t under estimate that.
And the question you`re asking is, is there this door number three for the
U.S. and the real problem we have here is that we`re still flying blind.
And, you know, the WHO director general said I think very rightly, you
can`t fight a fire blind-folded and that`s where we still are.
And so I think the first thing we have to do is get visibility on the
HAYES: Laurie, there is a real open question right now on sort of what`s on
the other side of the curve, right? So if you can use sort of -- if you can
use social distancing and mass mitigation, lock-downs to reduce the amount
of social interactions, slow transmission, get -- going down on the other
side of the curve -- China is now sort of starting slowly to open back up.
What do we know about -- there`s different modeling and there`s different
things I`ve heard from different experts what that means for whether the
virus just comes roaring back.
GARRETT: Well, we don`t really know the answer and won`t know until some
time has passed, but there is absolutely no good reason to believe that
China will be free of virus after some date and have no further threat or
risk for perpetuity, quite the contrary. I think the virus is going to
circulate. It`s going to move to the southern hemisphere. It`s going to
come back to the northern hemisphere, certainly as China tries to open up
its economy, that means opening up travel, and as they open up travel, risk
Well, Wuhan may be in a situation where more than 70 or 80 percent of the
population has been exposed and we hope is immune to the virus. There are
plenty of parts of China that did not experience a massive epidemic and
remain quite vulnerable.
And, you know, just to emphasize what you`ve just heard, the, you know, the
country that I wish we were aspiring to emulate is Singapore, if that were
possible. And if we had responded with immediacy in order to bring our
epidemic down when it was a hand full of cases, but as usual in the United
States, everybody shrugged and said, well, it only five cases. It`s only --
remember the president repeatedly saying it only 15 cases?
Well, from 15 go 30, from 30 go 60, and on and on and on.
HAYES: Caroline, final question for you. What -- we see where we in South
Korea are diverting, right? They sort of brought the problem under control.
What is life like there right now? Are people going to weddings? Are they
going to movie theaters or is all that stuff still not happening?
CHEN: I don`t think that stuff is happening. I think people are still
taking it very seriously. And I think here is the big thing that I think we
all had to realize is that we have to accept there is a new normal right
now and that we all have to take part in bending the curve. This is not
something where we can all just sit back and sort of, you know, not take
The only way to bend the curve is for us all really to pitch in at this
point. And, you know, at ProPublica we really want to really hear from
everybody on the front lines, you know, from health care workers, from lab
workers, anybody who is taking part on the front lines. This is where our
reporting is going next.
So we want to have people write into us so we can continue reporting to see
how prepared the U.S. is for the next steps.
HAYES: All right, Caroline Chen, Laurie Garrett, thank you so much for
making time tonight.
All right, I know it`s been an intense hour, or 47 minutes so far, but
there is another problem. The enormous public health disaster that`s
waiting to happen among detaining populations across the country. We`ll
talk about that next.
HAYES: We`ve got a breaking report at this hour of a second member of
congress who has tested positive for Coronavirus, Congressman Ben McAdams
of Utah. He announced it tonight on Twitter. McAdams says he self-
quarantined the moment he developed mild cold-like symptoms and continues
isolation now that he has tested positive.
And even as the pandemic reaches the halls of congress, other parts of
government keep truly focused on the wrong things. Just two days ago, on
the first day of the Coronavirus lock-down in California, Immigration and
Customs enforcement officers were out conducting raids in L.A. County. Look
at this headline, "With masks at the ready, ICE agents make arrests on the
first day of California`s Coronavirus lock-down"
As the public health crisis is becoming increasingly clear and urgent, ICE
has continued not just to apprehend people, but to distribute them in
detention centers around the country, processing them and then flying them,
driving them to other facilities. Immigration attorneys are ringing alarm
bells, this will accelerate the public health crisis in our midst.
And that does not count the over two million people currently incarcerated
in our country in prisons and jails that are notorious vectors for
infection, think cruise ships, but without access to soap or sanitary
product for the inmates.
Tonight, we have a report from the New York Daily News of an inmate at
Rikers Island jail complex in New York who has tested positive for COVID-
19. Rikers is huge, one of the largest correctional facilities in the
Right now, unless dramatic steps are taken, there are enormous public
health consequences for everyone detained into these facilities and outside
Joining me now, someone who knows firsthand what it`s like to make major
health decisions for detained populations, Dr. Jonathan Giftos, the former
medical director for correctional health services at Riker`s Island; and a
reporter who has been focused on some of these especially vulnerable
populations, the great immigration scoop machine Hamed Aleaziz from
Hamed let me start with you, because even since that script went into my
prompter, there`s been news. There`s some announcements that basically ICE
is going to suspend a whole lot of their enforcement, is that correct?
HAMED ALEAZIZ, BUZZFEED NEWS: There are signs that they are beginning to
pare down some of their enforcement activities. They announced late tonight
that they will delay arresting immigrants who are not public safety
threats, and roll back detainees those who fall under mandatory detention
guidelines that are actually set by congress.
So this is actually a sign that ICE is starting to, like I said before,
pare down some of its enforcement.
HAYES: But just in the last few days, I mean, you have report on this, and
I have talked to sources on this where immigration court, just people
packed through, apprehensions and then people being distributed across the
country to different detention facilities.
ALEAZIZ: Sure. Yes, that`s still going on. The Department of Justice has
been dealing with this issue by shutting down several courts. Starting
every night, they`re announcing that they are postponing more hearings.
So this is a sign of the system, the immigration system, you know, really
trying to prepare for worst-case scenarios.
HAYES: Jonathan, I`ve been hearing from folks who are advocates, public
defenders, medical folks like yourself, about the threat in jails. Explain
why it is so acute.
DR. JONATHAN GIFTOS, RIKERS ISLAND, FORMER DIRECTOR CORRECTIONAL HEALTH
SERVICES: Yes, thanks, Chris. Jails simply cannot protect patients and
staff from pandemic affecting the city. Jails are not closed systems
despite what people might think. There`s tremendous flux of people in
custody as well as 24/7 health care workers and officers who are coming to
staff three tours a day.
Mitigating efforts, such as physical distancing are nearly impossible in
jails. Frequent hand washing is impossible in jails. And despite the heroic
efforts of health care workers, screening and isolating people who are
symptomatic, is impossible in jail.
Couple this with the fact that jails are known to have in their custody
some of our community members at highest risk of complications of
Coronavirus infection, specifically people over the age of 50, of which
there`s actually almost a 1,000 people in the New York City jail system
right now over the age of 50, as well as people with compromised immunity,
it`s a recipe for disaster.
It`s my view that the only way to really mitigate the harm of rapid spread
of Coronavirus in the jail system is through depopulation, releasing as
many people as possible, with focus on those at highest risk of
HAYES: What do you say to people who hear that and say oh, no, we`re just
going to, quote, release criminals out in the streets and at a time of
social disorder. What is your response to that?
GIFTOS: You know, I worked as a doctor for four years caring for people in
the jail, and I think that many people who are in custody return to their
families when they leave. 72 percent of people in my program as the
director of addiction medicine when I was there, had their own home to
return to. People have jobs and families. It is simply not the case that
people will be leaving jails for the streets.
While some people do struggle with housing, and other things, it is simply
not possible to keep people in the jail system safe at this time.
HAYES: Hamed, my understanding is ICE has represented to congress there is
no one in their custody who has tested positive, which I think is a little
hard to credit. Is there any evidence that they`re putting any systems in
place for health care that is going to be immediately necessary in these
ALEAZIZ: Well, they`ve been releasing statements daily, saying that we`re
taking it very seriously. They have their the high level experts monitoring
best practice. They changed the way folks are brought into the facilities,
screening them before.
But obviously advocates are pushing for those who are suffering from
medical issues, and who are elderly, to be released, to protect them from,
you know, the potential spread.
HAYES: Jonathan, the question about release here, and I`ve heard the same
thing, sort of depopulation is the key, and I think you make an important
point I just want to stress, which is people, even if people are not
morally persuaded that these are human beings who do not deserve to be left
to pandemic, it`s not some other population over there, like there are CEOs
who are cycling in, like it`s not going to stay in Rikers, right?
GIFTOS: Right, right.
HAYES: In terms of the prison population broadly, and we`re talking about -
- I mean, it seems to me the lowest hanging fruit is we have a lot of
senior citizen prisoners who we just know statistically are not recidivism
risks at all, that seems like the most obvious start here.
GIFTOS: Yeah, it`s true that the prison population has a lot of people at
high risk of complication. I think that the reason we`re focused right now
on the jail population is that because of the flux that we talked about,
but also because of the fact that people pre-trial, people in on short city
sentences, and people in on a violation of parole, there`s very easy and
quick mechanisms to release people.
And given a pandemic like this, where there is spread and new infections at
exponential rates, urgent action is really needed and I think that that`s
most feasible right now in the jail system.
HAYES: Do you think that there are ways to sort of, targeted quick things
that can be done -- would it be the city, or other cities around the
country, to do that sort of reduction?
ALEAZIZ: Yes, I think if parole is a state -- parole is a state-run
organization, and so it`s lifting warrants on people on parole is done at
the state level. But for people in on city sentences or pre-trial on
felonies, that`s done at the local level with DA`s office and judges.
HAYES: All right, and I hope DA`s and judges are listening. Dr. Jonathan
Giftos, Hamed Aleaziz, thank you both. That is ALL IN for this evening.
"THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
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