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AOC on Coronavirus TRANSCRIPT: 3/24/20, All in w/ Chris Hayes

Guests: Cory Booker, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Corey Johnson, Vanita Gupta, Aaron Milstone, Ashish Jha

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: You can always find me online @AriMelber on any  social media platform. And don`t go anywhere because "ALL IN" with Chris  Hayes is up next.

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. New  York is now a cautionary tale for the rest of the world. There are nearly  15,000 cases in the city alone, around 30 percent of all the cases in the  entire country. At this point, there is no sign there slowing down. The  city is desperately trying to brace for impact as hospitals grown under the  strain. 

Today, the governor of New York State, Andrew Cuomo, sent out an SOS signal  begging the federal government to send the thousands of ventilators the  state will need. New York is becoming a kind of terrible warning that other  people around the world are now looking to the same way we here in the U.S.  once looked at Italy. 

This is precisely why today India announced they are locking down the  country`s population of 1.3 billion people for the next three weeks, a  complete nationwide lockdown. And keep this in mind. They`re doing this  when they only have 536 cases. 536 cases for now. 

But India is not alone. Leaders of countries all over the world are dealing  with the virus and for the most part, with some notable exceptions, most  leaders are not saying things like, well, the flu is really bad too, and a  lot of people die from car crashes. And you know, what about the stock  market? 

President Donald Trump began this crisis by downplaying and denying the  severity of the virus saying he liked the numbers where they are, telling  us everything was under control, the case would go down to zero, all while  he presided over an abject failure of response. And then, just last week,  while he finally decided to declare a war on the virus, tweeting in all  caps, occasionally at it. And then after just a few days of said war, it  seems like he is now looking to surrender. 

Today, President Trump participated in the Fox News town hall where he  announced he wants to open the country up again by Easter. Why Easter?  Because it would be beautiful to see packed churches for the holidays.  Easter is two and a half weeks away. Other countries that have battled this  epidemic have had lockdowns for 60 days. 

The place were the worst outbreak in the world Wuhan, China where all this  started, they are still under lockdown. Maybe they`ll be out in time for  Easter. Now, when the President was pushed on that Easter goal, he made up  a preposterous claim that doctors wanted to keep everyone locked down for  two years, and no he was having that, although literally no one is  suggesting we stay locked down for two years. 

The President also claimed the flu pandemic in 1918, the deadliest pandemic  in recent modern history, that had a 50 percent mortality rate. It killed  one out of every two people. Now, the data we have on the flu pandemic of  1918 is a bit spotty, but there`s just no way that`s true. 

In the midst of this pandemic, at this moment of crisis, the president as  he has been doing daily, as he has done since the first case arrived on our  shores, went out today and said things that are flat out wrong, that are  lies, and more than that, that are dangerous. And that`s why we did not  play you any sound of what he said today, because frankly, the President  has become a kind of -- well, he`s a genuine threat to public health, his  rhetoric at this point, the things he says. 

Here`s the reality. Hospitals in the country`s biggest city are being  pushed to their limit. Local news in Atlanta is reporting the city`s mayor  says ICUs across that city are already at capacity, which is a very  worrying sign because the numbers of cases in Atlanta would not indicate  they had gotten there yet. 

The CEO of a hospital system in the Detroit area says they are "facing  limitations and nearing capacity with our staffing, personal protective  equipment, and mechanical ventilators." And the President is out there  basically being like, yes, well, we`re all looking to get back to work,  Easter, the time of redemption. 

Now, I should say, lots of the President`s staunch allies and Republicans  have disagreed with him on this. They`ve expressed concern. Both Senator  Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Congresswoman Liz Cheney of Wyoming,  neither of whom basically ever says anything bad about Trump has said  rushing to open up the country is a bad idea. 

Right now, Americans across the country are at the very best stuck in their  homes, or leaving the house because they have to work still in fear of  catching the virus or transmitting it to people they love. Others are stuck  in overcrowded hospitals battling a frightening disease with other friends  or families by their side. 

Things are bad because of the virus, which is devilish. They`re also bad  because the president refused to act early on and because he is still  holding back now. And if he continues to some wildly back and forth and  contradict himself and try to sell America on his own response, the way you  try to get someone to close on a crappy condo, well, then even more  Americans are going to suffer.

Here with me now for more on what needs to be done to help Americans need,  Democratic Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey. Senator, let me start with  this idea of this sort of drumbeat in the last few days that we got to get  open -- we got to open back up for business. We can`t let the cure be worse  than the disease. What do you -- what do you make of that rhetoric? What  you think about the Easter idea?

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ): Well, that`s a drumbeat of one, and this President  is being wildly irresponsible. What we need from him, what we need from our  leadership is direct candor, is getting people prepared for what`s coming.  And we know when you rely on data, and science -- now, the President seems  to ignore both of those things -- we know that the worst is yet to come in  terms of the medical crisis that we have and in terms of the economic  crisis.

And let me just say -- speak for my state. We keep talking about New York  City, but the Greater New York City area includes New Jersey where the  state now that has the second greatest number of cases. I just got a report  that firefighters and police officers in my city are now tested positive  for the coronavirus. 

You see people -- I was dealing with a family this morning of a 34-year- old, no underlying conditions that is in a serious condition in a hospital.  This is a crisis that is growing. And what we need is straight talk,  candor, and strength. The problem is, is that his irresponsible rhetoric is  being backed up by a weakness by his inability to use his executive powers,  like the Defense Production Act that could be moving more resources to  areas of critical need, like New York, like New Jersey, like Georgia, like  Michigan and other places you`ve named. 

So this is not a time for us to try to candy-coat things. Americans deserve  the truth, they deserve candor, and they deserve a president and executives  all over our country that are doing everything possible to make a very bad  situation better as we head closer and closer to what will be the cresting  of this coronavirus crisis.

HAYES: I want -- I want to talk about the rescue package being debated in  the Senate. But before that, I want to ask your neighbors in New York where  you live, in a city where there are a lot of folks who are barely hanging  on in the back of times with low unemployment and not a public health  crisis, people that don`t have things to fall back on. 

I mean, how are your constituents and your neighbors doing amidst this when  you know, people that have money and privilege, maybe they have a way they  can kind of pad things out. It`s got to be absolutely brutal on the folks  in Newark.

BOOKER: Look, I was Facetiming, with families in Newark this morning. There  is so much fear, there`s so much worry. There`s so much not knowing,  frankly, people who`ve been laid off from jobs, that don`t have the  security of knowing when the next paycheck, how they`re going to meet their  rental payments, or more. So this is a real crisis and fear. 

And that puts the work that we`re doing here in the Senate, with all the  more urgency to make sure that the millions of Americans right now that are  plunging into economic uncertainty, and also fears of their health and  well-being, they can`t even get tests, for example, that we begin to have  substantive answers to their challenges. 

And that really puts the spotlight on what we`re doing here in the Senate  and what I believe, hopefully, are the final hours of this negotiation.

HAYES: So let`s talk about that package. It does seem like there is now  consensus on cash payments. The actual money amount I think still maybe not  totally clear in terms of kids and adults, but it won`t be a lower amount  for lower-income people as originally proposed. I think that`s been  scrapped, and there`s no consensus on that. 

It seems to me the two big sticking points -- the one big sticking point is  about this $500 billion what Democrats have called slush fund, what I think  the Trump Administration says is the rescue fund. Where are you personally  on that? Where are the negotiations on that as far as you know?

BOOKER: Well, about 36 hours ago, I was a flat out no, with a whole bunch  of my colleagues on the Democratic side, because there was very little  transparency. It was leaving it all to a lot of presidential discretion for  someone who`s shown us what his priorities are within his last big tax  package, for example, and who benefited from that.

And many of these corporations that got the biggest benefit from his tax  package, didn`t use it to save up money for a rainy day, used for things  like stock buybacks and the like, padding CEO salaries. And so we`ve moved  a lot in these 36 hours on accountability measures, transparency measures,  not still to where I would want it to be, but a heck of a lot better than  we did before. 

And on the side of things that we were demanding, which is still, it`s  difficult for me to think that we had to fight and demand for these things.  We have a lot more money now going to frontline medical providers,  hospitals, and medical systems that urgently need the resources.  Unemployment Insurance is so much better with arrays for payments, expanded  numbers of months that people can receive it. 

So that is getting a lot better for the average person and a lot more  accountability. Hopefully, that these corporations in their first priority  will be servicing, protecting, and making economically stable more of their  -- more of their workers.

HAYES: All right, Senator Cory Booker, you take care and thanks for making  time tonight.

BOOKER: Yes. I want to thank you as always, and as much as this might be a  partisan moment that people see down here, the strength of our country lies  in our ability to come together American to American during this crisis. 

I`ve seen mass shootings, unfortunately, to Hurricane Sandy, the strength  of Jersey, the strength of our nation always is how well we come together  and look out for each other in times like this. That`s what we need right  now whether our executives in the highest office are failing us or not. 

The truth of the matter is America has always been strong through our  commitments to one another and ability not to turn against each other, but  turn to each other for our strength. So thank you.

HAYES: Thank you. Joining me now for more on the declining situation in New  York and leadership vacuum in Washington, Democratic Congresswoman  Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York. 

Congresswoman, first let me start with a local check-in of my beloved home  borough, the Bronx, a place that in many ways is similar to Newark, a place  where there are a lot of folks who are just barely, barely, barely getting  by, barely making rent every month barely holding things together, who now  had a meteor hit their life. And what do you want to see out of this  package that`s getting hammered out right now for your constituents and  those folks?

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): Well, you know, I think there are  critical things that we need that all Americans needed but especially in  the Bronx, and in Queens. We need to make sure that we get paid sick leave  to workers. We need to make sure that we get sufficient checks to people. I  would like to see a mortgage and rent moratorium and a moratorium on major  payments in the United States. 

The thing is that people are talking about these cash infusions, and  there`s not much that a small thousand dollars can do for a family if they  are out of work and still need to pay rent, student loans, major consumer  loans, a mortgage etcetera. And so, we really need to make sure that the --  you know, the dollars and dimes actually make sense and add up for working  families expenses for a month. And it needs to be lined up with the science  as well in terms of how long we`re asking people to self-quarantine.

HAYES: So, I`ve heard sort of two approaches to this, right? I mean, you`re  -- what you`re saying there, which makes a lot of sense, which is, if  people have these expenses, and they have student loan debt, or they have  mortgage debt, or they have rent, and they can`t pay it because they don`t  have work, the other sort of approach and approach that a lot of European  countries have taken is you actually want to keep all the payments flowing  as much. You just want to originate with them with the government.

So in places like Denmark, and in the U.K., and others, basically having to  the government guarantee the payroll for people so that you`re trying to  get -- essentially trying to pretend the economy isn`t getting shut down  and let the government backstop it. But that`s not how the current $500  billion is structured in the current plan being worked out, as I understand  it, but maybe you have a better insight.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: No. Right now, within this $2 trillion deal, there is $500  billion that right now seems to be no strings attached. We are not saying,  if we give you money, you need to keep your workers. If you take the public  money, you need to make sure that you don`t fire anyone. If you take -- if  you take the government`s money that you have to institute XYZ worker  protections.

You know, this bill is in flux and so things are subject to change. But  right now, it`s pretty much a no strings attached, free $500 billion that  will be used. But as you know, according to Larry Kudlow, looks like we`ll  be leveraged into much more money than that. 

And I think that there`s huge concerns here because there`s talk about  there being an inspector general and there being a panel, but from what  we`re seeing in the bits and pieces of language that we`re able to kind of  scrap together is that all of these entities really have no policing  authority. 

They don`t have the ability to actually stop these funds from going to the  Trump properties, to going to any Trump Organization, from going to saying,  hey, McDonald`s or Amazon, if you -- if you`re going to take this money,  you need to make sure that we`re guaranteeing paid sick leave to workers. 

So I think that there`s a lot of problems with accountability. And  meanwhile, we`re expecting to essentially give small businesses loans which  is, you know, we can structure them, we can make sure that they`re  forgiven. But honestly, I`m very concerned about this bill prioritizing  working people above corporations. And I think that`s really what we need  to look out for in the developments of this bill.

HAYES: It seems to me that one of the most difficult tricky middle spaces  here, and there`s some been some progress on this, there`s a provision from  Marco Rubio, and Susan Collins, and I think Chris Coons if I`m not mistaken  for small businesses. But obviously, you`ve got a ton of small businesses  in your districts, tons of small businesses across New York and in the  major metro areas where unless there`s some very immediate help, it`s  essentially an extinction level event. 

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Yes, exactly. And the problem too, with the way that a lot  of small business loans and the SBA is structured is that we could unleash  a ton of money, you know, through small business loans. A lot of these  small businesses may not see it for months in terms of what gets approved  today.

HAYES: Right. 

OCASIO-CORTEZ: And so, the problem is that we`re giving $500 billion to big  businesses whose liquidity and efficiency will be set up to be much better,  to be much more efficient and distribution of funds, that will probably be  as quickly available as humanly possible. But meanwhile, the billions of  dollars that we allocate for restaurants, small businesses, and you know  and any other form of small business will take months to get to them. 

So what we may see is the closure -- what we risk, if we don`t get this  right, if we do not get right, we risk small businesses across the country  shutting down and big businesses experiencing a total payday with lack of  accountability, further consolidating our economy. And that create -- that  will create a generational issue. If we think income inequality is bad now,  we really need to make sure that we get this right to prevent the worst  possible outcome.

HAYES: All right, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, thank you so  much.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Of course, thank you.

HAYES: New York is seeing maybe the fastest growing outbreak in the entire  world. Governor Cuomo says cases are spiking sooner than expected and  higher than expected. His dire warning to the country after this.


HAYES: The state of New York has among the worst outbreaks of Coronavirus  anywhere in the world. It`s the worst in the United States. It looks like  it is growing the fastest, with number of cases doubling every three days.  Although we should say, New York is also doing more testing than almost any  other state. 

And every day, the governor of New York Andrew Cuomo holds an urgent and  dire briefing updating the millions of New Yorkers about what exactly is  going on the state. And it is just so clear day in and day out that  Governor Cuomo is clearly living in a totally different reality, the actual  one, than the President of the United States. 

Here`s Cuomo today speaking of the Javits Convention Center in New York  City, which is great currently being turned into an emergency hospital with  1,000 beds, begging the federal government to look at the crisis here and  send help.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): New York is the canary in the coal mine. New York  is going first. We have the highest and the fastest rate of infection. What  happens to New York is going to wind up happening to California, and  Washington State, in Illinois. It`s just a matter of time. We`re just  getting there first. 

You have 20,000 ventilators in the stockpile. Release the ventilators to  New York. How can we be in a situation where you can have New Yorkers  possibly dying because they can`t get a ventilator, but a federal agency  saying I`m going to leave the ventilators in the stockpile. I mean, have we  really come to that point?

FEMA says we`re sending 400 ventilators. Really? What am I going to -- what  am I going to do with 400 ventilators when I need 30,000? You pick the  26,000 people who are going to die because you only send 400 ventilators.


HAYES: For more on where things stand in New York tonight, I want to bring  in Corey Johnson. He`s a speaker of the New York City Council. He`s been  very outspoken about the city and state`s response. First, I should just  note that the Trump ministration after that is going to spend -- send I  think 4,000 ventilators from another stockpile they had. So there is more  help coming away on the way from federal government. 

But my sense from your Twitter handle and what you`ve been saying publicly  is you are very worried about what is coming to New York and what`s already  starting here.

COREY JOHNSON, SPEAKER, NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL: Oh, I am really, really,  really worried and I am not sure New Yorkers are psychologically prepared  for what`s coming over the next couple of weeks. And I think one of the  things that has been most reassuring about the governor on a daily basis,  in Andrew Cuomo we trust, in Anthony Fauci we trust, is that they are  leveling with us. 

They`re telling us what to expect and what the needs are. We need 15,000  ventilators just in New York City. We need 15 million surgical masks. We  need millions of N-95 masks. And we are not getting that help from the  federal government. But Chris, I want to say this. As scary as this is, as  painful as this is for New York City, each one of us can help. 

How can we help? We can help by staying home. We can help by socially  distancing. That in the end, will save lives because that wave is coming.  We don`t know when it`s going to break, we don`t know when it`s going to  crest, but the thing we need are -- is to halt transmission. 

You have three things going on at once. You need to halt transmission, you  need to build up capacity in the hospital system to handle that wave, and  you need to do what the Congresswoman and the Senator were talking about  which is deliver economic relief to New Yorkers that are frightened right  now and that are in economic ruin. Our small businesses, we need a rent  freeze, a rent moratorium for renters. That`s what we need to do right now  from New York City.

HAYES: You know, the point that you`re pointing to here and that the  governor made that I think is important for people that are watching this,  the majority of whom are not in the New York area who are all around the  country, is that you know, New York is going first here. 

So this -- what`s happening in the crescendo, when we look at -- when I --  when I see the Atlanta Mayor say tonight, our ICU beds are full, when I see  the biggest Detroit hospital chain saying we`re nearing capacity, the  ability to scale up capacity in the New York City Hospital area is going to  be a model if it`s successful for everywhere else that`s going to have to  be dealing with this problem on a one or two or three-week delay.

JOHNSON: I mean, that`s the really frightening thing is that it`s what the  governor just said. We really are the canary in the coal mine because what  you`re seeing in New York City, we`re going first. And as we know, this  virus knows no borders. Just because it`s happening in New York, it doesn`t  mean it`s not going to happen in other places in the country. 

And that`s why we need the personal protective equipment, we need the  ventilators, we need to increase the hospital capacity at the Javits Center  and other places to handle the surge that`s coming. And other places across  the country need to start doing this now. They need to look at what`s  happening in New York City. They need to hope for the best but plan for the  worst.

HAYES: And what is your understanding of how much -- I`ve looked at  modeling and estimates about the sort of availability of ICU beds in New  York, and there`s -- they vary, right? There`s a question of how many more  beds can you produce on a sort of short order, how much hospitals can sort  of, you know, clear out space from elective surgery. I mean, do you -- are  you confident that everything that can be done could be done is being done  in New York right now?

JOHNSON: Well, we are trying to get it done. The governor is trying to get  it done. The city is trying to get it done. But the estimate is we need  40,000 ICU beds, 40,000 in a short period of time. 

HAYES: How many are there?

JOHNSON: And we can`t -- we can`t do that without the federal government  helping us. That navy ship that`s coming. That`s nice. That`s 1000 beds.  That`s not even going to be four COVID beds. We need to increase capacity,  and it`s going to be very, very, very challenging. 

You know, Chris, I know we don`t have much time. I just want to say this. I  want to thank all the healthcare workers. I want to thank the folks working  in the grocery stores. I want to thank the teachers that are helping teach  your kids remotely from the New York City School System. 

I want to thank all these essential workers, these folks that don`t get  their due day in and day out outside of emergency, but are helping us in  the midst of this crisis. I want to thank all of them. And I want to give  New Yorkers hope. As scary as this is, as painful as this is, as hard as it  is, we got through 9/11. We got through the fiscal crisis of the 1970s.  We`ve gone through Hurricane Sandy. 

I think this is going to be in a bigger proportion of all those things, but  we are one New York. We have to come together. We have to help each other.  We have to get through this together because the coming days, the coming  weeks are going to be very difficult, very painful, and it`s traumatizing  for people in many ways, but collectively, we can get through this. 

And we need New Yorkers` creativity and ingenuity. You saw Christian  Siriano and fashion designers making masks. You have people stepping up to  try to get this done. New York, we need you.

HAYES: All right, Councilman Cory Johnson, thank you so much for your time  tonight.

JOHNSON: Thanks, Chris.

HAYES: Coming up, the dangerous emerging red state blue state divide when  it comes to handling a global pandemic. Why some lawmakers are now arguing  it is more important to send people back to work than it is to do what it  takes to save the lives of their fellow Americans. Next.


HAYES: You may have noticed there`s a growing chorus of conservatives who  are now saying essentially, look, it is maybe worth killing off a huge  number of old people in order to get the economy humming.

Lieutenant Governor of Texas Dan Patrick made essentially that very  argument on Trump TV last night.


LT. GOV. DAN PATRICK, (R) TEXAS: No one reached out to me and said as a  senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in  exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children  and grandchildren. And if that`s the exchange, I`m all in.

Those of us who are 70-plus, we`ll take care of ourselves, but don`t  sacrifice the country.


HAYES: Let`s put aside for the moment that for one younger people are  dying, too, one of the most upsetting parts of this disease. Two, the  economy is not going to magically get back to some semblance of normal if  thousands of people are dying and if we don`t control the virus.

And the place that I fear we may be going right now -- and it has really  sort of opened up in the last few days -- is one in which conservative  institutions and conservative governors and pundits decide that the idea of  flattening the curve and sparing the hospital system is just lefty statist  propaganda. Let`s keep everything open, take a roll, see what happens.

Today, we had a concrete example of that with Liberty University in  Virginia, the evangelical university run by Jerry Falwell Jr, it announced  it is bringing back students to the dorms this week after their spring  break.

The university has a total 100,000 students. The faculty have also been  ordered to return to work. The decision prompted one parent to tweet to  Falwell, quote, so in seven weeks, you`ll send the thousands of students  who now have a higher risk of carrying it, back to their grandparents to  get it? I`m as right wing as they get, bud, but as a parent of three of  your students I think this crazy, irresponsible and seems like a money  grab.

Decisions like this will have real-world consequences. And we can already  see them in some places. The governor of Kentucky, the man on the left, is  Democrat Andy Beshear, the governor of Tennessee on the right is Republican  Bill Lee. Kentucky and Tennessee have taken very different approaches to  the virus and this chart tells part of that story. Kentucky in blue on the  chart declared a state of emergency back on March 6. You can see the arrow  all the way on the left. The next day Kentucky`s governor was calling for  social distancing. 

See it relatively early action in that state. 

By contrast, Tennessee in orange did not declare a state of emergency until  almost a week later on March 12th. And while Tennessee moved more slowly,  Kentucky acted quickly. Kentucky closed its schools on March 13, it closed  bars and even restaurants a few days later. Meanwhile, Tennessee did not  close schools until March 20. It only closed bars and restaurants  yesterday. 

And you can see what looks like the apparent impact. Just look at the  numbers in each state, the orange versus the blue. 

Now, there are significant differences between the two states. Many pointed  out Tennessee has larger metro areas. It may have been fated for a worse  outbreak whatever they did, but the data suggests the possibility that  because Tennessee acted more slowly, it now has about five times as many  cases as Kentucky. 

Scientists and medical professionals are trying to help those in power  understand just how important these decisions can be. We`re going to talk  to a doctor from Tennessee who has been pushing his governor to act right  after this.


HAYES: We started to see a kind of notable disparity in how states are  responding to the Coronavirus pandemic. Some governors, like those in New  York, New Jersey and Connecticut are coordinating moves to ensure robust  response to the outbreak as well as places like Ohio and Washington State.  Other governors like Ron DeSantis in Florida or Bill Lee in Tennessee are  refusing to take swift action and lock down their states.

For example, Tennessee`s governor still has not issued a stay-at-home order  even after doctors and mayors sent petitions to urge him to follow examples  of other states in taking drastic steps to fight the spread of the virus.

Joining me now is one of the doctors who sent that petition to Tennessee`s  governor, Dr. Aaron Millstone, a pulmonary care physician based in  Franklin, Tennessee.

Doctor, why did you want to put this petition together to get the governor  to act?

DR. AARON MILSTONE, PULMONOLOGIST: I think, Chris, for me the main issue  here is that I`ve had multiple doctors, multiple nurses, multiple health  care providers coming to me and saying speak up for us because we don`t  want our patients to die and we don`t want to die. And that is a strong  inspiration to be on the right side of history.

My strongest feeling is that Tennessee Governor Lee fails to act then you  may be responsible for up to 40,000 avoidable deaths based on very  conservative models here in our state.

HAYES: 40,000 in your state? I mean that would be zero social distancing,  no nothing, just letting the thing run its course?

MILSTONE: That`s right. The impact of a stay-at-home order for our state  could take that number from 40,000 to drop it by 10 fold, for instance. So  if we do the right thing, we`re going to have an incredible impact on the  safety and health and welfare of our citizens.

HAYES: You know, I don`t want to be overly ideological about this, because  I think that we`ve seen some governors who are Republican move very quickly  like Mike DeWine in Ohio who has been pout front. We have seen some  Democrats move more slowly, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio waited to  close schools, for instance. So, it`s not entirely an ideological question.

But in your case, what is your understanding of the governor`s sort of  reluctance and moving more slowly than perhaps some other states?

MILSTONE: I think that a lot of the slowness is really a lack of definitive  medical input along the way. I mean he has made some strides in the last  few days, which we feel are a direct response to our petition, but I really  think that the numbers were low last week. You know, it took a while for  this pandemic to reach Tennessee, and for the numbers to start to increase.  Now we realize that this is something that we can`t control, and so just  within in the last, I would say, 48 to 72 hours multiple hospitals in  middle Tennessee are seeing patients with COVID on the ventilator, on life  support, fighting for their lives, and it is only going to get worse if we  continue on the current path.

HAYES: Are you confident that you will see some kind of stay-at-home order,  shelter-in-place order, some kind of essentially a full lock-down like  other states have taken in the near future? Are there indications that  might happen?

MILSTONE: Yes, I think here in the state of Tennessee we need one thing to  protect Tennesseans We need Governor Lee to issue the stay-at-home order.  Again, if he fails to act, tens of thousands of Tennesseans lives are at  risk. And we know it works. We have seen it work in 17 other states, so we  know this can make a difference.

Just last week we had, say, 500 physicians sign our petition. Within two  days we were at 2,000 physicians, and now we`ve had 15,000 citizens sign  that petition as well. So Tennesseans need to keep speaking up, go to, again, that`s, and make sure that your  voice is heard in this state.

HAYES: All right, Dr. Aaron Milstone, thank you so much.

MILSTONE: My pleasure. Thank you for inviting me tonight.

HAYES: Now I want to bring in -- you bet -- I now want to bring in the  Director Ashish Jha, the director of the Global Health Institute at Harvard  University. He has been very outspoken about this.

First, sort of at the broadest level of abstraction, it strikes me there  are two unique challenges the U.S. is facing that no one else quite has  faced, which is the contours of American federalism with state and local  governments taking different actions, and the geographic breadth of the  different epicenters in the pandemic, both of which seem more kind of  variegated than any other country that has had to encounter it. How do you  see that?

ASHISH JHA, DIRECTOR, GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: Yeah,  absolutely. And, of course, a third part, Chris, which is we were the  slowest off the gate in terms of getting testing going. And so we were  behind the eight ball right from the start. By the time this disease really  exploded in the U.S., we were way behind.

But you`re absolutely right, broad country, big country, lots of big  cities, lots of suburban and rural areas. And then federalism, right. 

And federalism has some upsides. So the president has refused to call for a  national pause, a national shelter in place, whatever you want to call it.  But good news is states can still take a lead. And so there are moments  when federalism is helpful. But it turns out, you know, the virus doesn`t,  you know, respect national borders, and so it`s very hard to do thing when  all the states are not synchronized.

HAYES: Well, what do we know about this? I want to play you Ron DeSantis.  He has been very reluctant to kind of shut down business in the state along  the lines of what we`ve seen in other places, particularly like California.  Take a listen.


GOV. RON DESANTIS, (D) FLORIDA: It would be a very blunt instrument. When  you are ordering people to shelter in place, you are consigning a number --  probably hundreds of thousands of Floridians to lose their jobs. You are  throwing their lives into a potential disarray, and if that were something  that were necessary statewide, because the health comes first, you know,  that would be one thing, but if you look at Florida`s situation right now,  this is not a virus that`s impacting every corner of the state.


HAYES: I guess the question is how long can that -- that status quo be  maintained given what we know about the virus?

JHA: Look, so first of all he is right that, you know, a shelter in place  is economically disruptive, let`s just own it, it is very disruptive. It is  hard on people. And that has a lot of consequences.

The problem with this virus is that it is insidious, it sort of grows and  grows and grows in your community, and then when it becomes apparent, when  your ICUs start getting full, boy, it is late in the game. And calling for  a shelter in place then is really a problem.

So he`s just -- he`s wasting enormous amounts of time, and the people who  are going to pay for it are the people of Florida.

HAYES: What do you think about this idea, you know, we got to get back to  business in the next two-and-a-half weeks? The president talking about  Easter, more voices, particularly I think amongst conservatives, not  totally but more amongst conservatives of, we have got to get back out  there, you know, if I have to give up my life, if I have to lay down my  life, to preserve the American economy, I guess, I`m willing to do it. As a  public health matter what do you think when you hear that?

JHA: I think this is a completely false choice, right. Like, this is not a  your money-or-your-life situation, this is a -- I get it, like it is  painful. People want to open up again. But here is the problem, we open up  too soon, the virus doesn`t care if you are Democrat or a Republican, the  virus is going to run rampant. And what is going to happen is in four to  six weeks all of the places that open up again will see this influx, their  hospitals are going to get shut down and they are going to be in big  trouble. And then we are going to have a national lock-down, and it is  going to last much longer and many more people are going to die.

So, even if you just care about the economy, this is a really bad idea. But  we have just set up a false dichotomy of life versus economy. No, we have  to find a third way that allows the economy to function and save lives. And  I think we can. I think we can.

HAYES: Yeah, we need to test and trace and implement a regime something  like what they`ve done in places like South Korea and Japan and others. 

JHA: Exactly. 

HAYES: Dr. Ashish Jha, you have been a really important voice on this. I  really appreciate you coming, please come back. 

JHA: Thank you, Chris.

HAYES: All right. Next, Democrats fighting to allow for nationwide mail-in  voting as the presidential primary continues on in the midst of a pandemic.  The future of the election after this.


HAYES: Today was going to be election day in Georgia for the presidential  primary. It is not happening. It`s been postponed until May.

So far at least eight states have postponed their 2020 presidential  primaries and Democrats right now are fighting to include in the  Coronavirus emergency rescue package that is being hammered out at this  very minute funding that would allow for every eligible voter in the  country to vote my mail, because without that provision, how are we going  to run the rest of the primary?

Also granted it`s a ways off, but what are we going to do in November for  the presidential election if say there`s a, you know, second uprising of  the pandemic in the fall. 

Today, the former head of the civil rights division of the Department of  Justice under President Barack Obama pointed out that Republicans on the  Senate floor called election funding in the Coronavirus bill a political  game or part of a radical agenda. But there is a place where there`s  bipartisan support for this kind of thing, a model, if you will, in Ohio,  supported by both the Republican governor and secretary of state called the  Ohio Voters First Act, that provides every registered Ohioan who wants to  vote in this election the opportunity to do so safely by mail.

They talk about the need more fair elections. I`m joined by Vanita Gupta,  the former head of the civil rights division of the DOJ under President  Obama.

First, let`s start on the Ohio model or places that are doing it right,  like what a model could look like for other places in terms of how you  would run election if we`re still in this situation throughout the  primaries and even in November.

VANITA GUPTA, FORMER DIRECTOR CIVIL RIGHTS DIVISION OF DEPARTMENT OF  JUSTICE: Yeah, states need to get prepared right now. I mean, we`ve seen a  slew of states that have needed to postpone their primaries because they  simply are unable to provide voters the options right now to be able to  vote in these conditions.

And I think we need to recognize that we can actually maintain the  resilience of our democracy while also maintaining the health and safety of  our citizens. But it`s going to take money, it`s going to require federal  funds to support states to be able to have the flexibility to put in a  range of options like the kind that Ohio`s putting in. A lot of states  still don`t have no excuse absentee voting or vote by mail. We still need  in person voting. We need a range of options. We need to have on-line voter  registration. We need to be able to have in-person voting for a full 20  days. 

There may be any range of options. We need to rely on local secretaries of  states to be able to have the flexibility with the federal funds that they  need to be able to have elections. And we don`t want our democracy to  suddenly grind to a halt in the face of this public health epidemic,  specifically also because right now states have the time to put in place  rules, changes and practice changes that allow our democracy to go forward  come November.

HAYES: There`s two issues here, as you understand it. There`s a necessary  but not sufficient thing with the money. So, right now there`s a battle  over $2 billion I think was the latest figure. Democrats want to include in  this rescue package to give states the money to implement these flexibility  options. But the federal government is not going to require that, right? I  mean, we still have this very localized system of elections where states  are going to decide whether they want to make this option available, right?

GUPTA: That`s right. Secretaries of states run their election systems by  every state. What we are saying is that congress needs to include in this  package at least $2 billion to support states to have the funding they need  to support a whole range of options.

And we`ll tell you right now at this very minute, Chris, that it is not  looking pretty over there in congress for this particular provision. We`re  talking about $2 billion out of $2 trillion, that`s .1 percent. I`m not  very good at math, but I think I`ve calculated that right. And what we are  hearing right now is that the Republicans in the Senate are sticking to a  number at $140 million for election preparedness and election security.  That isn`t even going to be enough for the state of Texas to be able to  have the options that it needs, one state in the union, to be able to be  prepared.

And the thing is, is you may have seen today on the floor we had Senator  Cornyn and Senator Blackburn use that kind of language saying elections and  election funding has nothing to do with COVID-19, that it`s part of some  radical liberal agenda. 

Well, the problem is right now is that this is not about Republican or  Democratic voters, this is about states being able to get in place the  options that they need so that Republican voters, Democratic voters, older  voters, younger voters, native American voters, voters with disabilities,  African-American voters can actually exercise their right to vote hopefully  in primaries, but certainly by the November election.

And, so, this is a bipartisan issue. It`s why you`ve seen folks like Paul  Pate, the Iowa secretary of state, a Republican and currently the president  of the National Association of Secretaries of State, come out and support  of congressional funding. They need the money to be able to do this right.

HAYES: It`s interesting too there`s obviously -- you mentioned this,  there`s a kind of ideological aspect to this. Republican Congressman Thomas  Massey who`s a sort of notorious died in the wool libertarian just tweeted  something to the effect of universal vote by mail would be the end of the  republic as we know it. This would essentially pose some existential  threat.

What`s your response to that kind of thinking?

GUPTA: I mean, I just think that`s absurd. That is putting kind of strange  partisan gloss over what should be a core democratic function that  Republicans and Democrats want. 

This is going to affect older Americans, it`s going to affect younger  Americans, it`s going to affect Republican and Democratic voters. And so  this notion that being able to ensure that states have the funding that  they need to put in place options to allow our democracy to go forward is  somehow a partisan issue really I think, you know, kind of boggles the  mind. It`s one of many boggling things right now.

And there`s no reason for it. It`s -- they only have to talk to local and  state Republican and Democratic officials that are saying give us the money  to put in place the options that we need.

And right now the senate does not seem to be prioritizing this bucket of  issues. We have -- we have to prepare for elections. We also, by the way,  have a census going on right now. And thankfully, the census, there`s a  range of options to actually complete the census at home. And so we are  able to be able to continue forward with that. 

But for elections, we need to make sure that we`ve got the options in place  so that we`re not creating this false choice between protecting peoples`  public health and safety versus protecting our democracy. Those two things  can go hand in hand. But congress has to have the political will to put the  money behind this. This is chump change compared to what we`re talking  about in the overall scheme of this bill.

HAYES: All right. Vanita Gupta, thank you so much for joining us tonight.

GUPTA: Thank you.

HAYES: That is ALL IN for this evening. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts  right now. Good evening, Rachel.