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.
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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 Protectmycare.org, again, that`s Protectmycare.org, 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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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.
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.
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