ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: You can also find me online @AriMelber on wherever you get your social media, Facebook, Instagram, etcetera. Don`t go anywhere though because "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes is up next.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. It has been another bad day in the battle against the virus. I wish I could say otherwise, but that`s where we are. We are seeing accelerating cases and accelerating deaths. There are now more than 211,000 coronavirus cases in the U.S. And at the last count and this is changing frankly minute by minute and I wish it weren`t, there are more than 4,700 fatalities.
This chart shows us cases dating back to March 1st. Just a month ago when we had 89 confirmed cases. You can see the exponential increase over the past month. Cases are now growing by tens of thousands nationwide every day. And even the sunniest voices in the administration that repeatedly played down the thread and looked into the camera to tell Americans that the risk was low. People like Vice President Mike Pence, they are now saying that we in the U.S. are on track, similar to the hardest-hit countries.
Here`s a vice president. "We think Italy maybe most comparable areas to the United States at this point." Italy, where despite a national lockdown, hospitals are overwhelmed, doctors, many of whom do not have sufficient medical equipment, are being forced to make decisions about who gets a chance to survive and who does not.
It did not have to be like this. We did not have to have the worst outbreak in the world. The failure of this administration and this president to take the virus seriously is part of what got us to this point. State and local governments continue to do what they can in this fight because there continues to be not just an absence of federal leadership, but active, destructive incompetence.
For example, the President has largely refused to invoke the Defense Production Act which allows him to force businesses to manufacture items in an emergency. He refuses to do so or to standardize this manufacturing and take it over despite large scale shortages of lifesaving ventilators and personal protective equipment.
Well, it turns out the Defense Production Act isn`t some break glass in case of emergency kind of thing that they haven`t dealt with. It has been invoked hundreds of thousands of times in the Trump years. But with the pandemic, the president treats it as a break the glass last resort.
And without a standardization of manufacturing, right now -- I cannot stress this enough because I`ve been talking to people about this day and night in the last few days -- the market, there is a market right now to acquire ventilators and other equipment like masks and personal protective equipment that is totally and completely haywire.
You have states being forced into bidding wars to get medical equipment and even having to bid against, oh look, the federal government, which could have just taken control of the entire process from the start to coordinate this and avoid this insane situation, but they have not.
And then there`s this. The Pentagon -- get this. The Pentagon has not yet delivered any of the 2,000 ventilators, 2000 ventilators, it offered to the Department of Health and Human Services two weeks ago because HHS has asked it to wait while the agency determines where the devices should go. Hospitals are desperate for ventilators. New York City mayor said we need 400 more in New York City in the next few days. People need them to live and they are just sitting there.
And even when the federal government does do something, when they do send ventilators, thousands of ventilators in the National Stockpile do not work according to The New York Times report. The reason? Listen to this, the reason. The contract to maintain the governor`s stockpile lapsed late last summer. And a contracting dispute meant that a new firm did not begin its work until late July when it was essentially too late.
And perhaps the best illustration of this incompetence, Politico reported that last week, a Trump official was speaking to counterparts in Thailand in an effort to get protective gear, right. We need protective gear. They`re trying to get protective gear from Thailand. "The official asked the Thais for help, only to be informed by the puzzled voices on the other side of the line that a U.S. shipment of the same supplies, the second of two so far was already on its way to Bangkok." We were sending them the things that we were asking for.
Now, the administration has now frozen such aid, but exports by U.S. companies apparently continues. Listen to this. Roughly 280 million masks, 280 million masks in U.S. warehouses were reportedly purchased by foreign buyers on Monday alone. And throughout this whole process, the president appears to be distributing that federal aid with an eye on his reelection prospects and not on need.
Florida where Republican governor Ron DeSantis, a Trump ally, has finally issued a stay at home order after keeping the beaches open for spring break, has been getting all the emergency supplies the state requested unlike other states.
The Washington Post quoted a White House official who offered this explanation for why Trump is so attuned to Florida`s wants. This is an official in the White House, OK. "The President knows Florida is so important for his reelection." His reelection. One of the biggest problems from beginning is the President has not pushed states to institute a Shelter in Place Order.
As Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft wrote in an op-ed in the Washington Post, "Because people can travel freely across state lines, so can the virus. The country`s leaders need to be clear. Shut down anywhere means shut down everywhere. Until the case numbers start to go down across America, which could take 10 weeks or more, no one can continue business as usual or relax the shutdown."
And this patchwork approach where every state fend for itself is what is leading to outbreaks around the country and the national numbers climbing up at an accelerating rate day after day. This chart from GCP Research shows new cases each day -- listen to this -- outside of the hardest-hit states, OK. So it does not include New York, New Jersey, Washington, California where we had the beginnings of the sort of epicenters and seedings.
And the data shows that even outside the earliest epicenters, there is a rapid escalation of case growth. That`s real worrying. Everyone is going to have to deal with some version of the curve. And so, in the absence of federal leadership, governors are going to have to manage the crisis as best they can. And we`re going to talk to two of them on the frontlines right now.
Joining me now for more on what needs to be done, Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer. Her state has seen a recent surge in coronavirus cases with the fourth-highest total number of cases in the country. Those cases are expected to peak sometime next week to a total higher than the number of beds currently available in that state.
Let me start on that note, Governor. Do you feel like with -- do you have enough tests right now? Do you have modeling where you feel fairly confident you have eyes on the virus right now and know where you are and what you`re walking into?
GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): No. That`s the simple answer. The fact of the matter is, we`ve never had enough tests from the get-go and we still don`t. And so, the modeling we`ve got -- the University of Michigan, one of the premier universities on the planet, some of the smartest people around are helping us with modeling.
But without robust testing, those models are -- there`s a lot of speculation and all the best science in the world doesn`t replace knowing precisely what`s happening through the -- through that testing. And that`s why it`s still a critical need here in Michigan and across our country. There`s just not enough testing being done yet. We`re ramping up but it`s not -- it`s not there yet.
HAYES: I just want to underline that because testing in the country is very uneven and in the aggregate has gone up to about 100,000 tests a day, although it`s plateaued there which is worrying. And I`ve heard different things for different areas. But you`re saying from your perspective in Michigan, you don`t have enough tests right now.
WHITMER: No, we never have from the start. We don`t have enough PPE, we don`t have enough testing. The testing is really crucial because when we get to a place where we`re talking about ramping up our economy and it`s not, Easter Sunday and it`s not going to be anytime in the very near future, we have to have data. We have to know who has immunity. We have to be able to really assess. Can we do that? And you have to have the tests in order to be able to make any educated decision in the best interest of the public health.
HAYES: There`s been some unnerving, harrowing news out of -- out of your state in terms of hospital capacity. This, of course, is what New York is facing right now. And I wonder if you could illuminate for us the level of concern you have about the beds, ICU, the frontline medical workers, and ventilators. Do you have enough for what you`re about to enter into?
WHITMER: No, we don`t have enough. You know, we`ve seen exponential growth. 75 people died in the last 24 hours. This is something that we`re seeing these numbers continue to climb. We`ve been really aggressive in terms of making sure that we have a stay at home order that`s been in place a lot longer than a lot of other states.
We`ve taken aggressive actions, shutting down bars before other states did, taking kids out of school. These were things that are our best medical advisors were saying we`ve got to do this. We took that action and yet, we`re seeing COVID-19 has been spreading here. And part of the challenge with testing, and part of the challenge with having frontline providers and hospital beds is that COVID-19 is much more prevalent here in Michigan than anyone even can tell right now because of that lack of testing. And so, we are already stretched to the limit and we are on the upslope and will be for a while.
HAYES: I have to say, Governor, you sound like someone who feels like they`re fighting David versus Goliath match. I mean just in terms of your affect and what you`re saying that you are fighting an enemy and are -- and don`t have the weapons you need, that you are you feel outmatched in the state of Michigan at this point. Is that -- is that fair?
WHITMER: Well, the reason that we got aggressive is we know the only real tool that we have when there`s too little PPE and there`s too little testing, the only real tool we have is trying to mitigate the spread by staying away from one another. And we`re asking people to make sacrifices. And yet, we know that when we`re able to get our National Stockpile allotment, it`s nowhere near what we need.
So we`re trying to do all this contracting outside of the federal government, and we`re getting undercut through competition with other states or even with the federal government. Our big three and a number of Michigan businesses are ramping up and, and that`s good. That will be helpful, but it`s not going to be fast enough to save the lives that are going to depend on it.
And so yes, it`s challenging and it`s alarming, and there are sad stories. Each one of these people has a story and a family. And these are tough times. We`re going to get through them, but these challenges are made much worse because there has been consistent national strategy and we`ve got now a patchwork of policies and it`s like fighting a -- fighting a fight with one hand tied behind our back.
HAYES: Final question for you, and I will stipulate this as probably not in the top thousand of your concerns right now, but the president the other day said that he advised Mike Pence not to call you, I think he`s referring to, that that you know, he didn`t like your tone, he didn`t like complaints of yours. What`s your reaction to that?
WHITMER: You know what, we -- I don`t have time to fight anyone. I`m fighting COVID-19. We can`t fight one another right now. We all have to be focused on the enemy and that is the virus now one another. I need partners in the federal government. And I have talked to President Trump since those comments, and you know, I`ve talked to Mike Pence and I`ve talked to the head of FEMA. We are on the phone all the time and working with our federal partners.
But there`s just not enough there to help us. And that`s precisely why we`re asking people to come into Michigan to volunteer, to help us because we are in a battle right now. And we don`t have enough help.
HAYES: All right, Governor Gretchen Whitmer, we`re sending you all our best from around the country. Thank you on a very, very busy day for making time. I really, really appreciate it. Joining me now for more on what New Jersey is doing to solve the surge of cases there is New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy.
And Governor, I think New Jersey is slightly ahead of where Michigan is, but I imagine that a lot of that probably sounds familiar to you in terms of these issues with capacity and acquiring the equipment you need. Does that -- does that resonate with you? Is that -- is that what you`ve encountered?
GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D-NJ): Yes, it largely does, Chris. And I`m a big fan of Governor Whitmer. And yes, we`re probably a little bit ahead. We`ve got 22,000 plus positive cases. Sadly, we`ve lost 355 of our blessed residents here in the state. But listen, we still need more beds, we need more ventilators, more personal protective equipment. We need to expand our heroic healthcare workforce. This is a war that. There`s just no two ways about it. And we`re doing everything we can to get out ahead of it as best we can.
HAYES: Can I ask you -- Governor Whitmer said this. I`ve heard Governor Cuomo talk about this and Governor Lamont. And I`ve sort of been asking every governor, because I`ve been doing reporting on this. Have you had the same experience in trying to acquire say N-95, ventilator masks, other pieces of personal protective equipment, or ventilators, this kind of weird bidding war between states and the federal government and this kind of unregulated marketplace with some slightly sketchy middlemen, I think, that have cropped up. Is that -- is that has been your experience in procurement?
MURPHY: I think the slightly sketchy middleman is the understatement of the year. The answer`s yes, it`s the Wild West. And these are crazy markets and you got a lot of bad actors, unfortunately. So not only do you have the factual bidding against each other and bidding prices up to crazy levels, you`ve got some bad actors in here.
And as I`ve said many times, there`s a special place in hell right now, for somebody who`s trying to take advantage of this crisis. And some of these sketchy middlemen fit that description.
HAYES: I mean, there are governors who have -- who have essentially thought they had a deal only to find like an empty cargo or empty truck. I mean, this is like the way that everyone is securing this, it`s so remarkable to me that this vital needed thing is being a kind of catches catch can with strange counterparties on the other side. That`s how you states like yourself for provisioning.
MURPHY: Amen. Listen, that gets back to the federal government. We`ve gotten PPE from the federal government from the strategic stockpile, a number of installments. We`re grateful. We got 350 more ventilators today, which we`re grateful for. But our asks remain significant relative to what we`ve got.
Again, we`re in a war and New Jersey is part of the metro in the -- in the northern part of our state in particular. It`s part of the metro New York story. And Governor Cuomo has said it, I`ve said it, we`re sort of the canary in the coal mine. And no matter how well-functioning markets might get, there`s no replacing the federal government and we need them in a big way right now.
HAYES: There`s a -- there were some questions today at the White House about their decision not to open up nationally ObamaCare enrollment because there are folks right now who don`t have health care and health insurance and need it. I think your state is doing that.
Are you thinking about the insurance end of this, the payment end? The fact that there`s going to be a lot of people who need a lot of care and they may not be able to afford, they may not have the insurance for, that hospitals are going to be bleeding money. How are you thinking about all that?
MURPHY: Yes. Listen. We`ve taken a bunch of -- it`s a very fair question, Chris. We`ve taken a bunch of aggressive steps on the -- on the insurance fund to not make people have to burn through co-pays for testing, we want the same for treatment. By the way, we`re establishing our own state exchange for the Affordable Care Act, because we`ve set a lot of money down and gotten very little back over the past number of years.
So this is going to be our first year in the enrollment period coming up. We want to expand that period. The key thing here is everybody`s got to come along with us. We can`t solve this virus if we -- if we only solve for part of our state, part of our citizenship part of our residents. We`ve got to -- we`ve got to make sure this works for everybody and making sure folks feel they can afford it and they could go in without cost as a factor is a huge part of solving this riddle.
HAYES: All right, Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey, I appreciate at the end of a long day you taking time to speak with us and our viewers tonight.
MURPHY: I`m honored to be with you.
HAYES: Joining me now on how we can push back against the coronavirus and make up for the lost time Carl Bergstrom. He`s a computational biologist at the University of Washington. He`s been someone I`ve been following very, very closely throughout this, author of the upcoming book Calling B.S.: The Art of Skepticism in a data-driven world, which will be out this August.
Professor, let me I guess first start on this question of national policy. Bill Gates has said basically, you need some kind of national policy. We know in China and Italy, there was a regional solution first, and then a national solution. And the U.S., I don`t think the President necessarily has the ability to lock down the country. But is it your view that we need essentially 50 states to be doing the same thing at the same time?
CARL BERGSTROM, BIOLOGY PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON: Absolutely. And I think that`s one of the points that Bill Gates stresses strongly in his editorial is that we`ve got to have consistency across the country. There`s enough movement in between states. We`re all in this together. And so, we can`t be just solving it in a patchwork basis.
HAYES: You know, you had a long thread the other day. I mean, this is something that you have -- you`ve looked at computational modeling of this sort of viral transmission for a long time. And as someone who spent years in a subfield devoted to this, what is it -- what is it -- how does it strike your ears when someone says no one could have seen this coming, this came out of nowhere, and no one could have seen this coming?
BERGSTROM: Well, I mean, we knew for -- we`ve known for many, many years that there was a serious threat of a large-scale pandemic. We`ve known that this is something that we needed to be preparing for. It`s something we have been preparing for. There have been -- you know, unfortunately, not all of the apparatus that was put into place is still there.
So the thing we couldn`t have seen was it was going to be this particular kind of virus coming out of this particular place and spreading this particular way. But what we`ve known for a long time is that we`ve been vulnerable to the risk of this kind of pandemic.
HAYES: Your modeling -- you do a lot of modeling, and there`s a lot of wide divergence in the models, because there`s a lot of unknowns. I think there`s a lot of -- obviously, there`s a lot of good faith efforts to try to know the future, and we don`t know the future, a lot of unknowns.
I`m curious, the White House model they tried out yesterday, and now have as this is kind of grim, almost unfathomably grim benchmark of 100,000, American fatalities to 240,000. How do you make sense of that number as someone who deals with comparative modeling in this space?
BERGSTROM: I mean, Chris, unfortunately, that`s in some ways, a best-case scenario that we`re looking at this point. There are a couple of different things that could happen. At this point, you can kind of imagine us going down one of two different timelines. Along one of those timelines, we managed to take strong action in the States. The actions are strong enough to manage to suppress the virus, and we`re able to get it down to low levels and then start to try to figure out how we can reemerge back into our ordinary life, get the economy going, and so forth.
If you go along that best case, trajectory, that`s the model that the White House is presenting to us. And so, on that best-case trajectory, yes, we`re looking at 100,000 to 200,000 lives lost. And the thing that we have to recognize is there`s also a worst-case trajectory, which is where we lose control of the virus, we don`t manage to suppress it. Now it spreads more or less out of control through the U.S. population, infecting, say, half to a third -- two-thirds of the U.S. population.
And if something like that happens, there are other models coming out of for example, Imperial College that suggests that there we`d be looking at losses of life more on the order of one to two million.
HAYES: But that worst-case scenario, I mean, my understanding is that is a sort of do-nothing business as usual scenario. We do have most of the nation locked down right now, right? I mean, we should anticipate that we`re on at least the former trajectory now, correct?
BERGSTROM: We hope so. I mean, certainly, the measures that we saw today, you know, locking down Florida was absolutely essential. There really wasn`t a lot of hope without all the states coming onto board in terms of shutdowns, you know, stay home orders and the likes. I think there`s still an open question about whether we`re doing enough to make the virus stop spreading and turn the pandemic around.
I mean, here in Seattle, we, I think, you know, are probably doing enough but we actually still are too early on to be sure that our measures are stringent enough. What was going on in Wuhan was substantially more stringent control measures than what we`re doing now here in the U.S.
HAYES: Let me just follow up, final question on that. You know, the -- Wuhan, obviously, there`s sort of physical distancing, or spatial distancing, or social distancing, whatever you want to call it, but in Wuhan, there was -- there was intense test and trace and required quarantines. I mean, people were being removed from their household, being brought to a quarantine space, things like that.
So you`re saying it`s an open question whether the virus can be bought under control without that level of vigilance.
BERGSTROM: I certainly wouldn`t hope. I certainly hope we would not have to go to anything like removing people from their families or anything like that. But we might have to certainly increase the strangeness of the stay at home measures. I mean, there`s still people out hanging out in groups in the parks, you know, here in this -- in this area, and maybe consider shutting down more of the businesses that are going on maybe, you know, as we learn more about what`s causing this to spread. You know, maybe looking at different ways for food delivery, grocery, shopping, that kind of thing. That those matters might be necessary, we just simply don`t know yet.
The good thing is by taking these intensive steps to flatten the curve as we have in the country over the last few days, we`re buying ourselves time to figure that out without letting things spiral completely out of control. And I commend everyone for doing that.
HAYES: All right, Carl Bergstrom whose work has been essential during this period, thank you so much for taking some time with us tonight.
BERGSTROM: Thank you very much. Good to talk to you, Chris. Take care.
HAYES: Before we had to break, a little bit of good news about a story I brought you last night. You might remember, I talked to Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont who warned us about an insurance cliff on April 1st -- that`s today -- when thousands of people could lose insurance coverage. The governor called us back tonight, wanted to let us know that they figured out a solution to that problem.
Connecticut insurers have agreed to a 60-day grace period for premium payments, policy cancellations, and non-renewals of insurance policies for the next two months. No insurer in Connecticut may lapse or terminate a covered insurance policy because a holder does not pay a premium or interest during this time. A bit of good news we want her to share on the first of April. Hopefully, this is a model other states will be able to use going forward.
Next, 93 crew members of an American nuclear-powered aircraft carrier test positive for coronavirus. The captain has pleaded to save the sailors` lives and what we know about the evacuation of that ship after this.
HAYES: Extraordinary scene today as American sailors were rescued off their own ship. The Navy announced at least 93 crew members of the USS Theodore Roosevelt tested positive for the coronavirus with hundreds of results still pending. Secretary of the Navy said about a quarter of the 4,000 crew numbers have been tested so far.
Tonight, the carrier is docked in Guam, about half the nuclear-powered ship`s crew has been removed, and that emergency evacuation only came after Roosevelt`s captain raised an alarm in a remarkable and brave four-page letter to his Navy superiors laying out reasons for wanting to evacuate the majority of his crew saying, "We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die. If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset, our sailors."
Joining me now is David Larter, he`s a naval warfare reporter at Defense News. He`s been covering the story. He`s written several articles about the Roosevelt and the military response to the coronavirus. First, tell me a little bit about this ship, David, and how a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier in the Pacific first was exposed to the virus.
DAVID LARTER, NAVAL WARFARE REPORTER, DEFENSE NEWS: Well, it`s a -- it`s a very big ship as anybody that can, you know, look at the pictures of the carrier nose. It`s a crew of about 5,000 sailors, a little shy of that. Maybe about 4800. And how do they got exposed is still kind of a mystery. They were in port in Vietnam about 15 days before the first case popped.
But it`s unclear if that`s where they picked up the virus or if any number of aircraft that fly on and off an aircraft, from shore bringing supplies, bringing new crew members, any number of ways that the virus could have gotten on board.
But I think the most important point is, and I think the captain makes it in this letter, is that the environment that exists on those ships, sailors in very close quarters, they sleep very close together. They work in very close quarters. They -- you know, their showering facilities are all very close quarters, that it`s a very conducive environment for a virus.
HAYES: Yes, it`s -- I mean, just based on the numbers, it sounds like it just has torn through that ship, which is not surprising. I mean, like a prison, or a nursing home, or you know, a ship, like those are all very close quarters, are all contained environments, with a lot of reprocessed air. The letter is really quite a document.
Explain the context for it, and in some ways for people that don`t know, like how sort of brave it was for this captain to raise the alarm the way he did.
LARTER: I think there`s no doubt about that, Chris, right. I think they`ve -- anybody who follows the navy understands that what that captain did was really put his career on the line. I think that they -- that the navy is very much for keeping things inside the lifelines and using the chain of command like the military like any branch of the military would be, and the fact that this got out is highly embarrassing to the navy and there is no question about that.
But it`s certainly a letter that was written to be heard. And I think that certainly the CNO and comments today, the chief naval operations, that`s the head officer in the navy acknowledged that there could be a communication breakdown between higher headquarters and what was going on in that ship.
So, it was a remarkably brave letter to put it in such stark terms. You said it a couple times now, that putting it through the terms that sailors could die if no action is taken.
HAYES: So you`ve got -- I mean, this is one of, what are there 11 I think in the fleet in terms of nuclear aircraft carriers, and obviously there is a bunch of other ships. There are a bunch of bases around the world where people are in fairly close quarters, not quite as close maybe as an aircraft carrier.
You know, from the beginning of this, there was this reporting that Defense Secretary Esper warned commanders not to surprise Trump on Coronavirus, but you have got to think this is a real present threat throughout the entire U.S. armed forces at this point.
LARTER: Chris, I`ve written a little about this. And I think one of the problems that the military is facing is a problem of its own culture, and the higher echelons don`t want to micromanage, or dictate to lower level commanders to sort of use -- I think somebody referred to as a 5,000-foot screwdriver to try to show individual commanders run their commands, but I think as the Bill Gates piece that you`ve been citing mentions, everyone is facing a common threat here. There is no unique circumstance. The virus is going to infect who it infects.
And we know that if you`re in close quarters on a ship closing close to each other and somebody has the virus, you`re probably going to spread that to the person near you through coughing or through any other -- you know, so it`s remarkable to me that their instinct to punt to the lower echelons on how you manage your command is actually working against it, at least in this case.
HAYES: Yeah, that is a fascinating institutional insight. David Larter, who has been reporting on this. Great thanks.
Coming up, while the nation is grappling with the widespread impacts of a global pandemic, the administration is still finding time to pursue policy vendettas on everything from environmental regulations to dismantling Obamacare. What they are doing behind the scenes, next.
HAYES: The Trump administration`s response to the Coronavirus has been defined by incompetence and deceit from the beginning. While they claim to be focused on the crisis at hand, they have also been using the last month to pursue all kinds of ideological and policy vendettas. They are turning away migrants and asylum seekers at the southern border. They revoked the reservation status of a Native American tribe the president had attacked last year about their plans to build a casino. They are suspending the enforcement of a range of health and environmental laws. Just yesterday, the administration announced they are unilaterally rolling back fuel efficiency standards for cars, the latest audacious move in a huge bruising battle with the public interest groups and states like California, and the automakers themselves who -- many of whom oppose this. We`ve covered all this on the show.
Because rolling back fuel economy standards is going to help our doctors and nurses on the front lines get the protection they need, right? That`s going to keep sick people`s lungs healthy when they`re gasping for air.
Oh, and don`t forget the fact that the Department of Justice is still remains the fact currently in court suing to scrap the entirety of the Affordable Care Act, all 2,000 pages, all of its protections. And not only that, the Trump administration is refusing to open up Obamacare enrollment for all the people who could probably really use some health insurance right about now in the midst of a global pandemic.
Today, when Mike Pence was pressed by Fox News, of all places, on what Americans without insurance will do during this Pandemic he basically had no answer, but that`s because if, at least, you judge them by their actions they genuinely do not care.
HAYES: The Coronavirus rescue package that was just passed by both houses and signed by the president has a bunch of different components, right. So, one them is a $350 billion loan/grant program for small businesses. And that might be the hardest policy part of this bill to get right, because you can give workers cash, or unemployment insurance, right. You can bailout big businesses with all sorts of actions taken by the Fed and they`re big and they have ways they can save themselves, but the millions and millions of small businesses in America, right, how are they going to be able to make it through?
It really it all depends on this program. Yesterday, the government put this application form online, just a few pages long, looks fairly simple and straightforward, so good on them for that. Here to talk about how this program is going to work, MSNBC anchor Stephanie Ruhle.
All right, Stephanie, so everyone is wondering what is going to happen to small businesses. This is a lot of money, $350 billion. What does it -- how does the program work? Like how do you apply if you`re the pizzeria owner around the corner from me who I love, like he doesn`t have any business. How does he apply?
STEPHANIE RUHLE, MSNBC ANCHOR: So the Paycheck Protection Program, Mark Cuban calls this thing free money and has urged every small business in America -- and remember, that`s any company with 500 people or less. It is being run out of the SBA and listen, with the idea that if you simply put people on unemployment and don`t care for all of these small businesses, we got 30 million small businesses in this country, if you don`t do something to ensure they stay afloat, then when we get on the other side of this, all of these people on unemployment are not going to have anywhere to go back to work to.
Most companies don`t have two and three months of liquidity sitting around. So, you are entitled to this, if -- and let me just say it`s 100 percent forgivable -- it a disaster relief basically loan. You can spend the money on anything related to your business and you don`t have to pay this loan back provided you keep 100 percent of your payroll.
Now, if you already laid people off, you have to hire them back if you want to get the loan forgiven. But here is one of the biggest issues here, it`s hard to figure out. The SBA is running it. Last year, the SBA had 3,000 employees. There were 58,000 loans granted. Now, we`re talking about $350 billion and tens of millions of businesses who are desperate to get these loans.
Now, it`s being run out of 1,800 banks that have existing relationships with the SBA, but I invite you to call any small business you own, and I don`t mean small businesses that have three and four tax lawyers and their own accounting firms. I mean, the guy who runs a pizzeria around the corner from you. He`s calling 16 different banks, and I promise you they`re telling him they don`t have all the forms yet.
That application that you just saw, very few people have actually seen it. And no one has said you can`t just call a bank, you must call the bank that you have an existing relationship with.
So much like how are we going to get unemployment benefits to the millions of people that are calling and getting busy signals or trying to apply and the websites are crashing. Yes, this is a really good idea. And when this money gets to these businesses, it could be great, but the question is when the heck is it getting there?
And I`ll tell you this, with that much money you know there is going to be fraud. You know there`s going to be waste. When TARP happened, OK, they only had to give money to a little over 700 businesses. And logistically, it was a disaster. How this is going to work out remains to be seen.
HAYES: Yeah, it`s a great -- just the key thing I think for us to keep reporting on, because the concept is sound, I think. The policy architecture, it is one of those devil in the details kind of things. There`s also the president today -- yeah, the president today also had a -- he had a tweet about like he`s going to bring the restaurant business back by allowing businesses to expense their business lunches, I think? And then he talked about it again today -- with you rolling your eyes -- but, yeah, "pass the old and very strongly proven, deductibility by businesses on restaurants and entertainment. This will bring restaurants and everything related, back -- and stronger than ever. Move quickly, they will all be saved."
This doesn`t seem very likely to me. What is your take on this?
RUHLE: This is absolutely insane, OK? 99. 9 percent of restaurants in this country don`t have any corporate business. There were no big businesses that said to the administration if only we were able to deduct our $10,000 closing dinners, if only we could do that, then man, we would help fuel the restaurant industry.
No, this goes straight to the president`s sensibility that this ain`t 1988 at Sparks serving steaks to 15 dudes and red wine and then all heading over to Scores West. It`s ridiculous.
And as somebody who spent 15 years of her life at those closing dinners, working in investment banking, I can promise you this, there is no business today that is saying man, we would be making so much more money, we would be helping our customers, we would be helping the consumer, if only we could have massive dinners where truffles were falling from the sky and we could get a tax deduction.
HAYES: Exactly. Yeah, I don`t think that`s in the top 10,000 priorities for anyone right now.
Stephanie Ruhle, it is always a pleasure. Come back soon.
RUHLE: Thank you.
HAYES: Coming up, what happens when we hand the government over to people incapable of doing its core function -- managing large risks. It`s the central question at the center of author Michael Lewis` prescient book "The Fifth Risk" and he joins me next.
HAYES: The risk of a global pandemic that goes across the entire world, kills millions of people, it`s one of those things we call a tail risk, meaning the probability being rare, but devastating event, right, a thing that`s not likely to happen on any given day, but over enough time and might in the future and would be terrible if it did.
Managing tail risks is one of the central things that governments do. The president is notoriously bad at it. Back in 2018, his White House got rid of the National Security Council`s pandemic team. Just last year, they ignored warnings of their own government, which ran an exercise simulating a pandemic and predicting precisely the problems we face now.
Author Michael Lewis`s latest book "The Fifth Risk" is about the one risk that you fail to imagine.
And joining me now is the author of that book. Michael Lewis, who is also the host of the Podcast "Against the Rules," and who today has a fascinating piece in Bloomberg entitled "A Coronavirus fix that passes the smell test."
Michael, it`s great to have you here.
I have been thinking about you a lot as this plays out. Your book is all about civil servants in the government who think about these kind of problems all the time and someone running the government who just doesn`t care. And I am curious what are you make of watching all this play out having written this book a year ago?
MICHAEL LEWIS, AUTHOR: You know, it`s been -- I mean, at the same time it is very sad to watch the way he has handled it. It was entirely predictable. Look, I think you go right back to the transition when they walk in, he fired the 700 or 800 people who was meant to go in and get the briefing from the Obama administration and understand how this enterprise worked. And that never happened.
So, this transfer of any kind of felt experience, a felt experience of what it is like to manage a pandemic, it never happened, and it never happened because he was entirely indifferent. And I think that`s a -- it is a really curious psychological trait. I mean, if you or I happened by accident to get elected to be president, we would both panic and want to know everything we needed to know and worry about all the bad things happening, right, all of that. And the idea that you don`t prepare at all and that you don`t get to know this mechanism, this one tool for dealing with these catastrophic risks, it`s kind of amazing. And I mean, I think that -- that we can probably talk for hours about what goes inside the mind of Donald Trump that enabled him to do that.
But, the reason -- I mean, tens of thousands of people are going to die in this country because of the lack of -- his lack of interest in engaging with the tool for protecting people. And this just happened to be the thing that happened, this pandemic, but you could go across -- there across the federal government, there are dozens and dozens of really kind of dangerous situations that are being managed that if they are mismanaged, really, really bad things happen.
And if any of the other ones would happened, I assume we would have a similar sort of situation.
HAYES: You know part of it, and I don`t want to say psychologize here, but it`s been striking to me watching this, is that the -- what is an adaptive trait in, say, New York City real estate, which is being a confident BS artist and saying whatever you need to say and saying, oh, it is all going to work out and hoping it does work out, and never think of the worse case scenario is literally the opposite of what you want in this case, right?
What you want someone who thinks about the worse case scenario?
LEWIS: Well, if you have gone through your entire life with a kind of -- with the sense that no matter what happens, no matter what the facts are, you can tell a story that is going to put you in a good light, that you can -- that -- it is an unbelievable faith in narrative, if you think about it, it`s a faith he has in storytelling, that trump`s the facts, that trump`s knowledge, that trump`s the truth. That you can go -- you can come in after the fact and invent whatever story you want and sell it first to yourself, right, but to those around you. That is the precondition for this situation.
Because that`s why he was able to ignore the federal government because in the back of his mind is whatever happens, I can tell a story. And you can see it happening, right. You can see it happening. And the story will evolve. And you can bet that six months from now, this two-month period where they completely screwed up their response to this thing, is going to be -- we`re going to hear a completely different story about what actually happened.
HAYES: You got a fascinating piece today as we sort of continue as you heard -- I don`t know, if you heard beginning of the show, governors still talking about testing shortages of an interesting piece of data that might be indicative of where things are popping up before testing. Explain the idea here.
LEWIS: So two leading British ENT doctors have published -- have sent a letter to their colleagues saying, look, it is not only a symptom of the Coronavirus, but it is an early symptom and sometimes it`s a symptom when there is no other symptoms. So, the kind of people who might be walking around with it not knowing they have it have this symptoms, and it is the loss of a sense of smell.
And they spent a lot of time talking to doctors around the world. They did their best to grind some stats and I think they came up with it 80 percent of the people who get the Coronavirus lose their sense of smell, often early, and that it`s -- I `m sorry, 30 or 60 percent who get the Coronavirus have lost their sense of smell. But if you have it, if you have the Coronavirus, there is a very likely chance this has happened.
And in the absence of tests, and without the testing -- the big problem is you can`t analyze where thing is going. This might be a very crude substitute, both for people to self-diagnose and isolate, but also -- and this is the idea of a former Wall Street risk manager named Peter Hancock, it is a very good idea, that you can crowd source this information, you can get people to go online and say I can`t smell. And that -- that would first get a lot of people off the street, you shouldn`t be on the street, and it would also give you a kind of map of the population -- a populationwide map of the disease, which is what we are lacking.
You know the fact we are lacking this data in this country is the most amazing thing, because we have been in every other aspect of our lives data obsessed. You know, everything from baseball teams to political campaigns, depend on the data. And we have a government that has failed to collect the data.
So, the idea is you find it kind of a crude hack to substitute for the failure of the federal government.
HAYES: Michael Lewis, whose book "The Fifth Risk" is out now. It`s a great book. I`d recommend it. Thank you so much for making time tonight.
LEWIS: Thanks, Chris.,
HAYES: That is all for this evening. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
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