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All In with Chris Hayes, Transcript 3/30/2020

Guests: Jenny Durkan, Andy Slavit, Chris Murphy, Daniela Lamas, Paul Krugman, Alec MacGillis

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: You can also find me tomorrow around 6:00 p.m. Eastern on THE BEAT. I`ll also be filling in right here in the 7:00 p.m. hour tomorrow for a special coverage. Don`t go anywhere. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts now.

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. Just over a month ago on February 26, President Donald Trump said this about the coronavirus. "And again, when you have 15 people, the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero. That`s a pretty good job we have done." Right now, there are over 154,000 confirmed cases here in the U.S. And now the man who said the cases would go down to zero, the man who compared coronavirus multiple times as seasonal flu, who said it would just appear like a miracle, he`s starting to backtrack.

Yesterday in a White House briefing at the Rose Garden, President Trump announced that the country will not be reopened by Easter Sunday, as he had said last week. Rather instead, social distancing guidelines from the CDC will be extended through April 30th. He also said that if 100,000 to 200,000 Americans die, well, that would represent a victory over the coronavirus. That number, of course, is just incomprehensible.

Those numbers are in line with what Dr. Anthony Fauci has said. It has been one of the few, if maybe perhaps the only reliable and honest voice in this administration. In fact, Dr. Deborah Birx, the response coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force appeared on today this morning to explain that that was actually the best-case scenario.


DEBORAH BIRX, CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR, WHITE HOUSE: We`re very worried about every city in the United States and the potential for this virus to get out of control. If we do things together well, almost perfectly, we could get in the range of 100,000 to 200,000 fatalities.


HAYES: I want to repeat that. If we do things perfectly, almost perfectly, we could get in the range of 100,000 to 200,000 dead Americans. Now, first of all, I`m not sure that projection is necessarily our best benchmark. Models vary widely. The future is uncertain, and we`ve never seen a country like ours, a liberal democracy get through the other side of the curve. We don`t know what it looks like.

But of course, we have not done things perfectly in large part because President Trump just simply did not take this pandemic seriously, and resisted taking any sort of action until it was far too late. In fact, just last month, the president shipped nearly 17.8 tons of donated medical supplies to the Chinese people, including masks, gowns, gauze respirators and other vital materials. Supplies that healthcare workers in this country are pleading for now.

Remember, it was about a month ago that Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the head of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC warned that Americans should prepare for significant disruption -- remember that phrase -- saying, "It`s not so much a question of if this will happen anymore, but rather more a question of exactly when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illness."

She said the parents should ask their children`s schools about their plans for tele-school, tele-school. At the time, that seemed bizarre, surreal, incomprehensible. Kids we`re going to go to tele-school. That was February 25th. Look at where we are now. New York Times, over the weekend, publish this incredible piece about how we lost a month because of the catastrophic failure of testing. And now that month is transferred into a set of regional outbreaks, spread around the U.S. unlike really any other country has faced so far.

So, right now, we have growing and really severe outbreaks in places like Atlanta, Detroit, and New Orleans. There`s a concern that is where states like Texas and Florida may be headed. And then of course, there is New York City, the epicenter of the outbreak, where there is some good news and bad news.

So this chart shows cases of influenza-like illnesses which are monitored across country over just the past few weeks. That`s some good news there. You can see the curve starting to turn down over the past few days. The problem with the way this illness manifests, however, at least in the medical system, is that first you need to bend the curve of new cases, and then there is a delay between that and hospitalizations, and then yet another delay between hospitalizations and deaths. There`s a horrible lag.

So right now, New York is still gearing up for an increase in hospitalizations even as we may be bending the curve at the earliest part. Already, multiple hospitals are over capacity. Today, the Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort pulled into New York Harbor with 1,000 beds. There was an emergency hospital being constructed in Central Park. Tents in Central Park.

The Jacob Javits Center, home of usually the things like car shows and conventions has been outfitted with another thousand hospital beds. The city is bracing for this wave of hospitalizations to crest. But as New York is ramping up its hospital capacity, Washington State is kind of the good news story in the country so far. If you look at this chart of coronavirus deaths, you see the difference between New York and Washington is astounding.

New York is on a far worse pace than Lombardi, the hardest-hit region of Italy, while the closest place to Washington is Daegu, South Korea, where they managed to curb the spread through early action. So that one good news look to the future of our whole country right now. That is in Washington. Governor Jay Inslee, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, and local government took things into their own hands very early and just about every way. They ramped up testing on their own.

In fact, one of the folks there tested against FDA guidelines. They were out front on the CDC guidelines. They did the things locally that you should do in the absence of any sort of federal guidance or management. And they are a success story so far.

Joining me now, one of the leaders responsible for that success story in Washington state, the mayor of Seattle, Jenny Durkan. And, Mayor, I`m sure it doesn`t really feel like success there. So let me first start by asking how you and the city are doing right now.

JENNY DURKAN (D), MAYOR, SEATTLE, WASHINGTON: So, Chris, I agree. We are doing better, but this is going to be a long haul. And my number one concern is for the health and safety of the people of Seattle in this region. I`ve got to give Governor Inslee, Dow Constantine, our county executive, and the mayors of the other cities. We acted quickly and we acted together. And we knew that fast action meant that we might be able to protect our health care workers.

We`ve gotten some good news, reports just this week on how we`re doing on that. But I also want to send the message. As well as we have done, we`re in this for the long haul, and people have to understand that this is going to be weeks and months, not days.

HAYES: On that good news, I saw some reporting about some modeling coming out of universities that are out in the Seattle area about the transmission rate dropping fairly dramatically. It`s now been -- I think, Seattle sort of went into a lockdown almost earlier than anyone else. And the transmission rate has responded, has dropped dramatically. Is that right?

DURKAN: It is. And we just -- you know, we were able to take action very quickly. And if I were to say anything across the country, it`s take early action. We`ve seen now our transmission rate at the beginning of this outbreak just a month ago, was at 2.7, which meant that for every person infected, almost three people got infected. We`ve driven that down out to being 1.4. And mobility is even more. 90 percent of the people traveling into Seattle are not traveling here anymore.

So we have cut those that mobility and the social connections. The physical distancing is critical to cutting the transmission of the virus. The only way it can transmit is if people are close to one another. And the only way you can stop that is to take really drastic actions. And it has taken a heavy, heavy toll here.

I mean, a month ago, Seattle was one of the boomest economies anywhere in America. We had more cranes building buildings. We had just -- I mean, day after day, we`re announcing new restaurants, new stores, new work. And now it`s shut down and the people hurt first were those people that were at the lowest parts of the economic ladder. So we`ve been really trying to direct money to our workers and our small businesses to give them some resilience to make it through this.

But I want to urge two things. One, every city and county and state has to act as one and act quickly. Because if you wait, it will be too late. And two, we can only do so much. We need the federal government. And we need to have concerted action on the federal government`s part.

I`m very thankful to the bill that Congress passed. We got to get their money into workers` pockets and small businesses pockets as quickly as we can. Thankful that our delegation here in Washington State worked really closely with us to ask us what we needed to get through this and come out of this. But we`re all in this together. We will get through it. But every one of those numbers is a family and a life that has been up ended. And we can`t lose sight of the human toll that this is taking.

HAYES: One of the paradoxes of this, and this refers to something you said early on, right, which is that the idea of flattening the curve means spreading the growth of the infection out over a longer period of time, so you don`t spike and surpass hospital capacity. But it also means the long haul. I mean, how are you telling your constituents and how are you thinking personally about what this timeline looks like, in the city of Seattle, which in some ways has gone first?

DURKAN: So first is, you know, when we have this kind of good news, we have to also remind people, we`re still just at the beginning here. We`re probably not even in the middle of it. By flattening that curve, that just means we`re getting to the point where we won`t overwhelm our hospitals. But it means we`re going to have this pain longer, and the lack of social connections that are so important to our society and the damage to our economy.

So, we talked about it in terms of being a marathon. I know that sounds trite, but you know, we`re just in the early miles here, and building the resilience in is going to be critical. But Governor Inslee had a good point. When I talked to him this weekend, he said, I`d like everybody to tape a picture of a nurse to their front door to their car and ask themselves, is it worth that nurse`s life for me to walk out of my house right now?

We got to do what we need to do to protect those frontline workers, our first responders, our healthcare workers.

HAYES: Mayor Jenny Durkan of Seattle, I really appreciate you taking time tonight. Thank you so much.

DURKAN: Chris, thank you so much.

HAYES: I`m joined now by --

DURKAN: Thanks. Take care.

HAYES: Thank you. I`m joined now by Andy Slavitt, former Acting Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, who now serves as board chair for the United States of Care. We checked in last week, Andy. And part of -- part of the story here in the U.S. is multiple outbreaks moving at multiple paces with multiple policies in place, which makes I feel it harder to get your head around what the national situation looks like than almost anywhere else that has encountered the virus. Is that how you`re thinking of it?

ANDY SLAVITT, FORMER ACTING ADMINISTRATOR, CENTERS FOR MEDICARE AND MEDICAID SERVICES: Yes, I think the governors and the mayors like Mayor Durkan who`ve seen what`s going on are right on the messaging. And in fact, we should be paying a lot of attention to them. The problem with the messaging out of the White House is that it`s about a week or two behind what everyone else is seeing. And a week or two, as we know from the 1918 flu, the week or two when you`re chasing a disease that multiplies exponentially, costs a lot of lives.

But Mayor Durkan has -- her message for the country is critical, which is that when she said that they brought the R naught or the rate of infection down to 1.4, that`s great. But it`s not good enough, but it`s a lot better. Wuhan brought it down to about 1.25. As soon as this is under one, to give everybody perspective, as soon as it`s under one, we start to defeat this. As soon as it`s under one and we have detection and testing, we`re able to get back to normal life. So think about this as a victory we`re aiming for.

HAYES: When you contrast that to New York, and we talk about delay, I thought this exchange between Jake Tapper and Mayor Bill de Blasio was interesting this week. And I think it`s fair to say that New York move later on a lot of these key things. The mayor told people to have one last drink at their favorite bar. He went to the gym on the final day that gyms were open in the entire city. This was the exchange that Jake Tapper and the mayor had. Take a lesson.


BILL DE BLASIO (D), MAYOR, NEW YORK CITY: We want people still to go on about their lives. We want people to rest assured that a lot is being done to protect them.

JAKE TAPPER, HOST, CNN: The last clip was from March 13th, just about two weeks ago. In retrospect, is that message, at least in part to blame for how rapidly the virus has spread across the city.

DE BLASIO: There`s no time to go back over that. There`s only time to focus on getting through the next week and the week after that. I mean, you could ask all the questions you want, they`re fair, but I think the time to deal with these questions is after this war is over, because literally here in New York City, it feels like a wartime environment.


HAYES: First, on the wartime environment. I mean, we are seeing fatalities and hospitalizations in New York that are unlike anywhere else in the country. What`s your assessment of where New York is in this right now?

SLAVITT: Well, I think there`s going to be at least 10,000 to 20,000 deaths according to even the best model in New York. And remember, New York is a very difficult environment to control. It`s densely populated. And I think we all have sympathy for our mayors and our governors who have to catch up to this rapidly evolving condition that we don`t have a lot of context for.

And so -- and you know, politicians are by definition, sunny, particularly our president. And these kinds of rosy projections, we know where they come from. They appeal to people. They`re what they want to hear. But right now, everybody should be listening to the public health commissioner. Everybody -- every politician should be listening to their public health commissioner.

I believe there are still states that are where Mayor de Blasio might have been a few weeks ago, and we can`t do anything about the few weeks that have passed. But those days can really do something about where we are right now, and they have to take this seriously.

HAYES: Well, that is the final question. That`s the concern right now, I mean, is that because we don`t have a unified national response, and we have a federal system, and we have different levels of government. But if you`re looking at Florida, you`re watching every day this sort of rolling policy of every state in some ways, kind of recapitulating the mistakes of the states that came before them. They hold out, they hold out until they can`t hold out anymore. And then they issue a shelter in place order, and then it`s like you want to say no, no, it`s too late doing it now. Learn from what came before you.

SLAVITT: Especially true in Florida, where our snowbirds and our Spring Breakers, go and come back to the rest of the country. And so, we have these sorts of super spreaders. And so we are only as good as our weak link. I think this is an important lesson to take away from this.

And, you know, at this point in time, we should have -- you know, there were no we`re no longer talking about a couple of hotspots. We need to understand that we`re going to go through something very, very traumatic as a country. I think we should be trying to help prepare people that the next month, probably two or three months is going to be something unlike any of us have ever seen before certainly in this country.


SLAVITT: Just to watch the images coming out in New York, understanding that they`re going to come to these -- to other cities. It`s very hard for us to comprehend. It`s very hard for us to wrap our heads around. We shouldn`t rely on what our politicians are saying. We should take that ourselves, upon ourselves and our families to protect them no matter which way our states are going.

HAYES: Andy Slavitt, it was a new podcast out called In the Bubble, thank you so much for your time tonight. Next, why the administration waited a month before taking important steps to combat the spread of coronavirus. Senator Chris Murphy on the fatal consequences after this.


HAYES: Here in the real world, by any objective measure, the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic has been disastrously flawed, marred by mistakes and delays that have handicapped our efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus. The U.S. has the most confirmed cases in the world, one of the sharpest rates of growth, and multiple outbreaks in different parts of the country.

There is no question that our federal government has done a worse job in containing this than many other countries. But in the alternate universe of the Trump show, everything is going great. President Trump is the man in control. There`s a reason the president keeps appearing at the coronavirus briefings that are supposed to be about fact-based updates. He uses them as propaganda sessions regularly spewing misinformation and lies when he`s at the podium. They have morphed into something akin to Trump rallies without the crowds.

The briefings are where he cast his failures in the most positive light. Yesterday, the man who initially dismissed the coronavirus threat -- remember, we all heard it time and time again, said that if 100,000 Americans die from the virus, then he and his team have done a "very good job."

He tries to rally his base by berating journalists. The White House even appears to control the volume of the microphones of reporters asking questions, which is an innovation by the way. This has not happened before, but they can use it to just cut off a reporter from asking any follow-ups. And of course, the President makes sure to call on propagandists to ask him the questions he wants to hear sometimes just twice in the same briefing.

And as dead bodies are being loaded into morgue trucks in New York City because the city is running out of space and hospitals, the President in a new low even for him, was bragging this weekend and at the press conference about what good T.V. ratings he`s getting.

I`m joined now by Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut. He`s been sounding the alarm about the sluggish federal action to help hospitals and first responders. He tweeted today that the new Republican argument is that you criticize President Trump`s coronavirus response, you are disloyal Chinese communist propagandists.

Senator, I think that regular information in times of crisis from the government on sort of the science and facts and policy are essential. But I personally can`t help but feel these daily sessions are bad for the country, even dangerous from a public health perspective. What do you -- what is your view?

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): Well, the President really sees, you know, his only responsibility as one of managing a public relations campaign about trying to set expectations so ridiculously low that he can`t help but step over the bar. I mean, listen, there has been no strategy from this administration, no comprehensive response to coronavirus from the very beginning.

He has not taken control of the manufacturing of protective equipment. He has not federalized the supply chain. He has issued absolutely no national guidance on social distancing or business and school closures. He has left all of this to the mayors and the governors. And instead, he just runs a public relations operation. That, as you mentioned, unfortunately, regularly dispenses very bad advice to Americans.

And so, yes, I think it`s pretty harrowing for all of us to watch this lack of leadership from the White House and to frankly watch a lot of the media go along with it because his press conferences as always, are still entertaining, in part because he is competitive, in part because he does lie, and you can catch him in those lies and hold him accountable, but that doesn`t make for an effective public health response.

HAYES: Yeah, that`s why he`s bragging about the ratings. It`s obviously above my paygrade. I don`t make the call about we take them or not, but it seems crazy to me that everyone is still taking them when you got the My Pillow guy getting up there talking about reading the Bible.

On February 5th, you were in a briefing and -- on preparedness on precisely this question. You tweeted this. On February 5th, I sat in a meeting with top administration officials. As senators press them to request emergency funding to hire staff and stockpile supplies for the coming crisis. They said they had it covered, didn`t need any additional funding. What a fatal screw up. What was that briefing like on February 5th?

MURPHY: So you know, this is an interesting moment for a briefing because the impeachment trial has not yet wrapped up. But the administration brings their top folks before the Senate for a private briefing to explain what they`re doing about the coronavirus, which at that point had, you know, only had a couple of cases on the West Coast. And it was just an absolutely chilling briefing.

And I walked out and immediately made a statement that it was shocking to me that the administration was refusing our offers of early funding. A number of us in that meeting said to the administration, you need to request emergency dollars from us now. If what you`re saying is true, then we cannot respond to this eventual crisis without starting to buy supplies now, without starting to staff up in hospitals and local public health districts now.

And what the administration said on February 5th was, no, we got it. We don`t need any additional money. We can handle this with all the resources we have. What we know is that that was a fatal mistake. And their unwillingness to come to Congress was both a sign of the fact that they just didn`t understand how awful this was going to be, but also just a signal of their fundamental ideological belief that the federal government doesn`t have a responsibility at a time of crisis like this.

I mean, the White House is just full of people that don`t think it`s their job and that was telegraphed pretty clearly in that meeting in early February.

HAYES: You know, there`s concern now about -- you look at this federalized response. It`s also a concern now that you`re getting favoritism. And the President basically said that he admitted this. He said, he tells Mike Pence not to call certain governors he doesn`t like. Gretchen Whitmer is on the record saying that shipments of needed supplies were canceled. She believes that`s at the behest essentially of the White House.

There`s ProPublica reporting that Florida, on the other hand, has gotten everything they`ve asked for. There`s been a wide disparity in terms of how the federal government has responded to some states and others. And I should note here for fairness, Andrew Cuomo has been very grateful for some of the federal aid that has been directed to New York after lots of back and forth.

Do you have those concerns right now that there`s essentially an uneven response federally that depends on the politics of the governor at play and the degree to which the President`s ego is his massaged?

MURPHY: Well, it sort of feels like Ukraine all over again. You know, the President is, you know, now instead of using foreign aid, using emergency relief in order to try to get people to do his political bidding, I mean, the message seems pretty clear. If you criticize the president, then you are going to get attacked and you are potentially going to have critical medical supplies withheld. And if you get the President`s back politically, then we`ll send you what you need.

Listen, I, Chris, have called on Congress and the administration to federalize the manufacture and distribution of critical medical supplies because I just don`t see any way that the private sector gets the stuff to the places that needed the most. Admittedly, though, I`m very nervous about my own proposal, because that puts an enormous amount of power, additional power in the hands of a capricious and vindictive White House.

And so we`re caught between, you know, two unacceptable realities. One in which the private sector is misappropriating resources and not producing enough, and the second in which the President has authorities that any chief executive should possess, but he`s going to use them in a way that hurts the nations and benefits himself politically.

HAYES: Chris Murphy, a senator from Connecticut, thank you so much for being with me tonight. Ahead, from folks trying to pay bills due to the -- due on the first, the $2 trillion relief package signed last week, Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman on what coronavirus will do to our economy next.


HAYES: This Wednesday is April 1, the first time many bills are do since essentially the entire American economy was shut down. And as this graph shows, there has been an extraordinary increase in the search term can`t pay online as people figure out how the hell they are going to pay those bills.

Meanwhile, at the macro level, we have got a $2 trillion rescue bill that has now been signed into law, huge aggressive actions being announced daily by the Federal Reserve to help get a handle on things.

And here to walk us through how this all will or will not work, Paul Krugman, Nobel Prize-winning economist, New York Times columnist, and author of "Arguing with Zombies: Economics,Politics and the Fight for a Better Future."

Professor, let`s start with the first, most concrete thing, which is just it seems to me there`s a lag between when people are going to have to pay things -- mortgage, rent, bills -- starting on Wednesday and when they`re going to get money from the federal government. And I`m not sure there is a solution right now. Is that your understanding?

PAUL KRUGMAN, NOBEL PRIZE-WINNING ECONOMIST: Yeah. I mean, some of it is being pushed as fast as you can, but we`re basically trying to do disaster relief. People have been calling this a stimulus bill, that`s not what it is, really it`s a disaster relief bill. You`re trying it on a nationwide scale on an incredible -- we basically shut down the economy, as you said, and no one has ever tried to push out this much money this fast, even though the sums are going to be clearly inadequate but better than nothing.

So Yeah, this is -- there are going to be lot of financial hardship. We hope that there will be enough forbearance, but it will be ugly.

HAYES: You know, there is a question now about this policy at local level in terms of things like, say, rent moratorium, right. So, some people in New York are pushing a rent moratorium in other places, which from a policy standpoint I think is obviously has a lot to recommend people can`t pay. There is this gap.

But there is also this fear about the upstream effects of lots of payments being shut off. So if all the payment flows stop, like what that does to the credit markets and the banking system and do we have a bigger crisis on our hands if that happens?

KRUGMAN: Well, yeah. I mean, but if people can`t pay, they can`t pay and trying to force them to pay things they can`t pay is not going to improve the situation. You have to offer...

HAYES: That`s a great point.

KRUGMAN: ...everything you can. And, you know, we`re -- it is funny, there is enough parallel with the financial crisis that in a way it`s almost dangerous that people think of this as being like what happened in 2008. Some pieces of it look like it and the Fed is pushing out money and trying to stabilize the commercial paper market and all of that stuff, but fundamentally, that`s not what is happening. You do need to try to avoid those secondary effects. We don`t want a financial crisis on top of this.

But what is basically happening is that the U.S. is being put into a medically induced coma like when doctors shut down part of your brain function in an attempt to give you a chance to live through it, this is not a malfunctioning of the economic system, this is a Jesus, we don`t want people going to work. We don`t want people going to restaurants. We have to shut down large parts of the economy.

We`re going to be seeing unemployment numbers probably higher, quite possibly higher than anything we saw during the Great Depression, but they`re not going to be -- not going to mean the same thing. They`re going to be unemployment, because we don`t want people working when they`re going to be spreading this disastrous disease.

So, you know, mostly we just need to keep on shoveling out funds to people who are in need as fast as we can and it`s not going to be adequate, lots of people will suffer, but we -- look, I can give you dozens of terrible things that this stimulus bill, not really a -- it`s really a disaster relief bill -- did badly or failed to do, but it`s infinitely better than what people were talking about just a week before.

HAYES: So it`s interesting you use the medically induced coma metaphor, because a second producer for this segment had a great metaphor she used today where she said, you know, what happens to COVID patients they can`t breathe on their own, they need ventilators. That in this case, it`s (inaudible) for the economy, like the economy now can`t breathe on its own.

There is no like actual transaction of money through it, so we`ll all kind of live on the fed ventilator as it essentially acts to pump money through the economy right now.

KRUGMAN: Well, the Fed can pump money through certain parts of the economy. The Fed can keep the financial markets going. What it can`t do is, you know, unfortunately, if people think the Fed can just handout money, it doesn`t actually have the legal authority or the capacity to do that. The Fed buys assets, it`s turning into, effectively, the country`s banker because the banking system, other stuff, it`s going to be supplying the loans that keep small businesses -- some small businesses from folding.

But a lot of it has to come from congress. So, the good news is that we have a big increased unemployment insurance payments, that we have a lot of small business loans that -- which will turn into grants if small businesses maintain their payrolls. So we`re shoveling a lot -- but we`ve got a $20 trillion a year economy, which is going to be shut down completely for a good part of this year. And when you think about it that way, $2 trillion is not actually a whole lot of money, it`s actually way inadequate to the scale of the problem.

HAYES: Is there a way, though, that people keep talking about like the Federal Reserve managing to lever that money up, so that it`s, you know, it`s $2 trillion that have been earmarked essentially by congress (inaudible) the fed can that -- big enough so that it`s a plug the size of the hoe, but you seem skeptical of that?

KRUGMAN: Yeah, I mean, there are some things you can do. I mean, it`s conceivably, to the extent that we can get businesses to keep up their payrolls with -- and extend them credit so they do that, that`s where the Fed can come in. But a lot of it is just -- you know, unfortunately, we`re not -- I wish we were Denmark, where you have a government policy that says two companies keep workers on their payroll and we`ll pay 75 percent of your wages, that was never going to happen in the United States, sorry, we just -- it is going to take two decades of political work for us to turn into that kind of country.

So, what we`re left with is -- the thing that worries me most are not the kinds of things the Fed can deal with. And the Fed is -- maybe I don`t worry too much about that side because I know that the Fed is one of the last remaining remaining bastion of competence in our government, but it`s the household where -- where both parents have been laid off. It`s the small business where no money is coming in, those are things that the Fed can`t really fix it, it`s up to Congress, which it has done a little bit, but not enough.

HAYES: Yeah, and they are probably going to have to come back for more.

There is also a big difference between the abstract policy that you can get and the actual lived experience of getting it. And we`re going to see that play out.

Paul Krugman, it`s always wonderful to talk to you, thank you for so much being here tonight.

Next, the fallout of reopening a college campus while infection rates across the country continue to grow. What is happening at Liberty University after this?


HAYES: As many of the nation`s colleges and universities remain closed to limit the spread of Coronavirus, Liberty University, the evangelical school in Lynchburg, Virginia, run by Jerry Falwell Jr. decided to reopen last week, a move in direct contradiction of basically all medical advice. Earlier this month, as governors around the country were closing all non- essential services and banning large gatherings, Larry Falwell Jr., a staunch ally of the president`s, went on Trump TV to talk about how everyone is overreacting.


JERRY FALWELL JR., PRESIDENT, LIBERTY UNIVERSITY: It`s just strange to me how so many are overreacting. Impeachment didn`t work and the Mueller report didn`t work and article 25 didn`t work and so maybe now this is their next attempt to get Trump.


HAYES: And so last week, Jerry Falwell Jr. ordered his students and staff back to school and you`ll never guess what happened next? The New York Times is reporting that as of Friday nearly a dozen Liberty University students were sick with symptoms that suggested Coronavirus.

ProPublica reporter Alec MacGillis visited Liberty University and reported on the reopening in a piece entitled "Only university campus still open in the U.S." He joins me now by phone. Alec, what was it like down in Lynchburg?

ALEC MACGILLIS, PROPUBLICA: It was a very odd tension middle ground where on one hand the campus was back open in contravention, as you said, of public health advice and orders from various authorities. And so students were welcome to come back to campus. There were between 1,000 and 2,000 students back on campus.

But at the same time, they were making these half-hearted attempts to do social distancing. You had signs up. You had librarians kind of scolding students who got too close together in the library, and so you ended up with this really weird middle ground where they were basically at the sort of higher level from Jerry Falwell on down trying to be provocative and keep things open and be different than everyone else, but then down on the ground, through he`s half-hearted attempts to do things the right way, it was very, very weird.

HAYES: There was also sort of a strange kind of climate of fear reporting in The New York Times of people not wanting to talk on the record and they were worried about speaking their mind of the policies of Falwell Jr. at the top?

MACGILLIS: Oh, definitely. One of the students I -- it was actually a graduate student whom I approached to ask what he made of all this, was being forced work on campus as an assistant to a professor and he said he could not be -- he spoke with me, he was very upset about the policy, but he didn`t want to be named. He said that all students had been instructed not to speak to the press.

One student who has been very out spoken, a senior member of student government who has been very outspoken, actually got a call at night from - - on his cell phone from university vice president scolding, upbraiding him, for having spoken out as he did.

So there`s definitely a real climate of the students feeling like they have been kind of caught in the middle of what certainly seems like just an attempt, a political gambit, an attempt at political provocation as part of this kind of national culture war around social distancing.

HAYES: It`s an enormous operation, a huge institution there in Lynchburg, Virginia. You said only -- it sounds like not that many students have come back, but the problem is there is some voluntary nature there, but the employees basically have to come back, is that how it works?

MACGILLIS: It is. You have to understand about Liberty, is that what makes this whole thing so especially odd is that the campus has a huge online operation. So it`s actually quite easy, much easier for this university than others to go fully online with its courses. And that online operation is run by a massive sort of sideline operation. You have got hundreds of employees in a building quite a ways from campus who, you know, are cold calling students, recruiting students to the online operation. They have got 95,000 people in a given year taking classes there at Liberty, it`s incredibly profitable. It basically what makes the university run is this massive online nationwide online college.

And in those people at that online operation are still reporting to work or have been until last week reporting to work as are hundreds of employees at another building that handle all the financial aid and all the tuition stuff.

So you`ve got a lot of these workers who are quite worried about still having to come to work in close quarters.

HAYES: And this is a final note here, I mean, Lynchburg, Virginia, I think you reported in your piece, it`s 50,000 residents age 65 years or older. It`s not just about -- I mean, as we know, the way pandemics and viruses function, it`s not a call that Mr. Falwell Jr. is making for his own institution, it`s a call that he is now making for the entire surrounding area.

MACGILLIS: Exactly. He`s often said, well, what`s the big deal? Students, young people don`t really get that sick from this. But the problem, of course, is that they`re very likely to spread it to others in the community. They are going to go off campus. They`re going -- you know, go get a coffee, go to Chick-fil-la, and it might be spreading there. And it`s such a concern actually that today the governor of Virginia has put out another order that certainly seems partly directed at places like Liberty that are still trying to kind of, you know, reach prior orders and this one is even more stern and really sad. So you got to stay home or we`ll come after you. It will be very interesting to see if Liberty actually gets some kind of a fine for having continued to do this.

HAYES: Yeah, Governor Northam issuing essentially I think a shelter in place order for the state. We will see whether that resonates down in Lynchburg. Alec MacGillis, thank you so much. Great reporting.

MACGILLIS: Thank you.

HAYES: Coming up, should people be wearing masks, even if they aren`t sick? What we`re learning about their effectiveness in battling infection in the general public after this.


HAYES: At the beginning of this crisis, the World Health Organization and the CDC came out and basically said that if you`re healthy, you just don`t need to wear a mask around public to protect yourself or others from Coronavirus.

Now, over the weekend, there was a rumbling the CDC was about to change its guidance to suggest Americans should wear protective masks, and while the CDC is now denying that reporting, and saying it is not updating its guidance, it is very hard to ignore the fact that the countries where masks are most prevalent, particularly in East Asia, are the ones doing the best job of battling the virus.

A prominent Chinese doctor was recently asked by Science magazine what mistakes are other countries making, quote, "the big mistake in the U.S. and Europe in my opinion is that people aren`t wearing masks."

To talk about exactly what we should be doing with masks, what we have learned and what we know, I`m joined by Dr. Daniela Lamas, critical care doctor at Brigham and Women`s hospital in Boston.

Doctor, there has been so much conflicting information about masks. Where do you see the debate right now, where this sort of consensus opinion on this question?

DR. DANIELA LAMAS, BRIGHAM AND WOMEN HOSPITAL: There is a lot of debate, which sparks a lot of worry among the public. People who don`t have easy access to masks and are worried that they are supposed to have them to be safe. And really I think it is useful to think about what is the purpose of the mask? The purpose of the mask, we hope, is to decrease the transmission of Coronavirus.

So how is Coronavirus transmitted? By droplets and by contact. And so we can do these things in the public, whether or not we are wearing masks. We are able to protect ourselves, if we decrease contact, by not touching an infected surface and then touching our face, and we also decrease the risk of getting Coronavirus via droplets by practicing social distancing.

So really, whether or not we have masks, the public is able to keep themselves safe simply by not touching your face, washing your hands repeatedly whenever you touch things, and then by practicing social distancing. I think that`s really the kind of message that is most useful.

HAYES: Right, so that all seems true, but there also seems to me this sort of question about how we think about a new normal, right? So presumably, we`re not hopefully going to all stay at home for the next six months of our lives, I mean if you look at -- that`s not the case, right, where they have used sort of test and trace and they`ve returned to something that looks like normal, whether it`s Japan or South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, you know, you notice that people are wearing masks and there does seem to be a pretty good amount of literature that says that is, as a kind of social phenomenon, effective in reducing that transmission rate.

LAMAS: Yes. And I think that that literature is not untrue, and I think had -- were there unlimited masks, perhaps that would be useful. Being said, we don`t have unlimited masks, and yet we are still able, though, to keep ourselves safe by remembering (inaudible) I think masks serve a useful purpose in that way. They remind us not to -- this isn`t business as usual, that this is a new normal, that we have to be careful than we would be otherwise.

HAYES: Obviously, one of the big factors I think driving these recommendations, as you just said, is that there is not an infinite supply of masks, and so if you`re thinking about who should get the marginal mask, obviously that should be a health care worker like yourself, nurses, and doctors, and folks that are cleaning hospitals, and I think a lot of that, the advice in the beginning was a worry that the public would horde masks and make it hard for folks like yourself.

How has the supply of personal protective equipment been in your experience on the front lines of this?

LAMAS: So in my experience, we still have the personal protective equipment we need, but we see this coming down the pike and we`re worried about our supplies and how had is going to be. We`re worried about having to use the same masks repeatedly.

Right now, we`re OK, but if we have an expected surge of patients, will that happen? I`m not sure. We`re as worried as the rest of the country is. And definitely as you said, this does impact our feelings about what`s the best use of masks, to keep everybody as safe as possible.

HAYES: You mean in terms of like not -- having, sharing that concern, if there is a broad message sent to the public, you will end up with masks being like toilet paper or rice or things like that, just like where actual health care workers can`t get them.

LAMAS: Precisely and which is not to say that the public, that we`re asking the public not to be safe, at all. I mean really, based on data we have about hand washing, that can significantly decrease flu, that can significantly decrease viruses being transmitted, you know, masks serve a useful reminder purpose, but hopefully the reminders of not washing -- of washing hands, of not touching the face, of social distancing, can be there, whether or not there are masks.

My hope is that we have a huge supply of masks, that this worry that we have, which seems ridiculous, that this worry does not last forever. But given that this is the reality we live in, there are still ways for us to keep ourselves safe.

HAYES: Right. Yeah, it`s a good point and hopefully there`s some future on the horizon where that supply constraint is not as much a factor. Doctor Daniela Lamas, thank you for taking time tonight. I appreciate it.

LAMAS: It was my pleasure.

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