UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Another thing that could be good is the $100 billion coming to hospitals from the CARES Act.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have hospitals that are losing a half a million to a million dollars a day, just in lost revenue. And so this money from the CARES Act would be very helpful.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Helpful, but by Senator Manchin`s estimation, not nearly enough for hospitals already feeling the financial squeeze.
SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): We put all the money towards the financial crisis that`s coming afterwards, and it needs to have the attention. But if you don`t put the attention to the frontline, if you can`t keep hospitals, especially in rural West Virginia, rural America, then we got no way to take care of our citizens as --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: I wanted to show you that reporting there as a final word. "ALL IN" starts now.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. We are now several weeks into the heart of this pandemic in the United States and is taking a brutal toll on families across the country. To give a sense, just some perspective here, a statistic that blew my mind, the coronavirus has now passed heart disease and cancer as the number one cause of death per day in the U.S. Remarkable, right? I mean, I -- new research from the Centers for Disease Control shows the disease might also be significantly more contagious than originally thought.
And since we do not have enough testing or the ability to track down everyone who might be infected, we don`t have treatments still that are proven effective to deal with folks that have this, again, the only way for us to find it right now, as you well know, sitting there in your house, which you`ve been in for weeks, is through the mass social distancing we`re doing. And the good news here, we are really making progress on that front. I mean weeks into this, if you`re climbing the walls, you`re probably not alone, but we are seeing also day by day, just the colossal economic the cost of what we`re all doing, staying at home, right?
Today, we learned that unemployment claims hit 16 million in just the past three weeks. To put that in perspective, that`s about 10 percent of the American labor force, and probably isn`t the true number once everything is said and done. What`s happening is that the American economy is contracting in a completely unprecedented fashion, not the Great Recession, not the Great Depression, as far as we can tell, nothing really like it ever seen before. And the policy approach here has been to keep people at home, right, in order to control the virus because that`s all we have, we can`t let it on -- let go unrestrained, and then to use government policy to try to keep the economy afloat until we can all figure out a testing regime that makes something that looks like normal life. That`s basically what we need to do to weather this pandemic right now.
Congress right now is trying to work out how to pump money into the hands of Americans and American businesses to keep people alive and to keep them financially afloat. Republicans, by the way, have already started a debate on what the next priority is. And it`s important to keep your eyes on this because this is going to be very, very important as it goes forward.
Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell tried today to open up by playing hardball. While people are dying almost 2,000 a day, people are suffering, hospitals are being overwhelmed, nurses and doctors suffering trauma and battling disease, and while the White House continues to abdicate its responsibility to coordinate a response, Mitch McConnell today was trying to jam the Democrats so that they lose a lot of their leverage.
He`s not dealing with making sure we can hold a fair election, for instance, he doesn`t want to talk about that, even though we saw the outrage that happened in Wisconsin, or making sure that the Post Office, you know, that institution that`s been around since the country`s founding, it`s in the Constitution, to make sure the Post Office doesn`t just wink out of existence in this pandemic which would be bad.
Just today, without negotiating with Democrats, what McConnell tried to do was just jam through a bill for an additional $250 billion for that Small Business Protection Program. Now, that on its own isn`t necessarily a bad idea, but Democrats were not having it, arguing that the money was also needed urgently elsewhere, that they wanted to do something bigger in the next stimulus package.
So today, McConnell was asked why he did not negotiate with Democrats, why just say, hey, unilaterally, we`re going to do this and his response was, we`ll have to do that again, at some point. Oh, poor Mitch. So come Monday, they`re back at the drawing board. But here`s the thing to keep in mind. And I think this is important as we watch this whole crisis play out as we live through it, we watch the political machinations happening. The only reason that this is happening, the only reason there`s back and forth, that there`s legislative horse-trading, The only reason it`s happening that we got the rescue packages we`ve gotten is that Democrats are on the opposition with a Republican president and not the other way around.
Democrats want to negotiate with the Republicans. They want to get bills passed. We had an economic crisis very recently, perhaps you remember it, where we were in a similar situation, and boy, it was not the same, right? So it started out, there was a Republican President. George W. Bush was still present the fall in 2008. There`s Democratic opposition the House, the economy crashed. And what happened between Congressional Republicans, Congressional Democrats, and the White House? They pushed through an enormous bill to bail out the banks. Remember that bill? Hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars.
Now, a lot of Republicans didn`t like it, a lot of Democrats don`t like it. A lot voted against it, but they all came together and they played ball. That`s what they did when there`s a Republican president and a Democratic opposition. Once Barack Obama took office a few months later, the economy still losing 800,000 jobs a month, the worst crisis since the Great Depression (AUDIO GAP) priority throughout the government throughout Congress became destroying Barack Obama politically no matter the cost.
And destroying Obama political meant essentially destroying the country. It meant making the country`s citizens tangibly more miserable. And Republicans did not seem to care. That was the price. Listen to the lead in New York Times in the 2009 recovery bill. "Without a single Republican vote, President Obama won House approval on Wednesday for an $819 billion economic recovery plan." Without a single Republican vote, $819 billion. It sounds like a lot, but of course, they passed $2.2 trillion just a few weeks ago.
PBS`s Frontline put together this great documentary about the Republican opposition to President Obama that encapsulates exactly what happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A stimulus bill passed the House without a single Republican vote.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You watch, the Republicans is going to come under severe criticism for this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not one Republican voted for it turning a cold shoulder to the president --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So much for the President`s charm offensive, today was all partisan --
ERIC CANTOR, FORMER CONGRESSMAN OF VIRGINIA: I think from that point forward, we saw a very downward tilt towards the possibility of bipartisanship, and that was very odd. That was very early on. That was in January and February of `09.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hope the stimulus bill feels --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is addicting this country to heroin. The heroin that is government slavery.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want once and for all the American people to see full- frontal nudity on what liberalism is and what a lie it is --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: They wanted it to fail. That was week one of the Obama presidency. You hear a tone there from Republicans that thank goodness you just do not hear from Democrats today. Either we have the power or the country burns down. As Adam Serwer wrote on an excellent piece in The Atlantic, "McConnell and the Republican leadership saw prolonging the Great Recession as a political opportunity to be exploited. The longer and more grueling the economic recovery, the easier it would be to evict Obama from the White House and Democrats from Congress, even if their own constituent suffered as a result."
This time around, Democrats are essentially doing the opposite. Thank goodness they are right now putting the needs of the country ahead of their short-term political interests. I mean, I suppose there`s a universe in which you could argue would be politically advantageous if Democrats sabotage a recovery and let the economy really tanked, and then they could blame Donald Trump, but that would be sociopathic to do that. That would be evil and wrong. And they are not doing that, thank God. Thank God.
I`m clearly not a huge fan of Donald Trump, but I am so thankful right now that for instance, Trump appointee Federal Reserve Chair Powell is taking drastic measures to shore up the economy, really decisive, broad-based drastic measures. Thank God he`s doing that. But I can tell you this. If we had a Democratic president, Republicans on Trump T.V. and in Congress will be climbing through the screen to round up the Fed chair doing this.
And thank God for the rescue package they passed, which is hopefully not the last one, $2.2 trillion, thank God Congress is talking about more money. Congress should get more money to people to small businesses and hospitals that really need it. The hole here is enormous. The need is urgent. And there should be negotiations between Republicans and Democrats over the priorities for the next bill because they don`t have the same priorities.
But the current Democrats need to keep in mind what their leverage is at this moment. And be sure of this, the things Americans need, free and fair elections, long term support, and this goes on while, in the long term are enshrined in law. Because otherwise Republicans can just turn on a dime and yank the rug out again.
I want to bring in someone who had a key role in the current pandemic rescue package and who was in Congress during the last recession, many Republican lawmakers responded very, very different, Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters a California, the chair of the House Financial Services Committee.
Congresswoman, maybe start by talking about how you are approaching your job and the Democratic leadership`s job in the House in negotiating rescue packages that everyone could come to some kind of consensus on, even though there`s going to be things in it like there was in the last package that you don`t necessarily like, or they don`t go far enough. How are your thinking about it as an governing enterprise.
REP. MAXINE WATERS (D-CA): Absolutely. As a matter of fact, you referred to Chairman Powell over at the Fed and some of the things that he`s doing, and I have to tell you, that when he lifted the asset cap on one of the big banks, I was not quite in favor of it. But I know that we have to take some drastic measures in order to help provide a decent quality of life for all of our people while we`re in this pandemic.
And so, we have people who are working very hard, bending over backwards to ensure that we do the right thing. You`re absolutely right about McConnell and what he did today. But of course, we`re coming out with our own proposal, we`ll be deep into the negotiations. We`re going to fight for everything that we can fight for, in order to give some support to the American public. Whether we`re talking about looking continuously at unemployment, how many people are going to be without jobs, and whether or not we`re going to have to extend further the protections for unemployment insurance.
We`re looking at, you know, preventing all of those right now in public housing, any housing this assisted by the federal government from being evicted. And then I have another proposal for landlords who are not assisted by a federal government to make sure that they don`t even act and that they are reimbursed for their loss that they`re going to get in rental payments. And so whether we`re looking at that, or the PPP program, where we`re fighting hard to open up opportunities for small businesses to get support from the SBA.
So between the SBA and the Feds, we are doing some extraordinary things. We`ve got to work out some of the kinks, we`ve got to move it faster, but we`ve got to spend the money to protect Americans and citizens of this country, and people who live and work here, believe in this country, and believe that they should have some support from their government.
HAYES: You`ve served in Congress for a long time, you`ve seen different Congressional caucuses come and go, different leadership structures, different presidents. Does it strike you -- I`m sure -- I`m curious how it strikes you to watch Republicans who during the Obama administration, particularly everything was austerity, it was where`s the money coming from, how are you going to pay for that, today just say, hey, we got to -- we got to blow it up another $250 billion, let`s have a vote on that today. A striking turnabout it seems to me.
WATERS: Oh, absolutely. Because they understand that not only are the people that Democrats care about the least of these, people who are working on minimum wages, now, what you have, you have businesses of all sizes that are being jeopardized by what is going on. And so when you see the Fed rolled out with a new program that they refer to, as you know, the main street program, where they`re saying that it is targeted toward mid-sized banks, and bigger businesses, as well as the smaller businesses. They have a lot of people who are being jeopardized by this pandemic that we`re experiencing. And they better stand up for them because already history is recording every step that we make.
And the President doesn`t look too good, he has confused people, he sent the wrong messages, he had been given advice that he should not given. And so now, I think that perhaps they believe that they can wipe away that history. But I want to tell you, it`s going to remain recorded, and we`re going to fight for everything. And those Republicans are getting in line and who are fighting with us understand, it`s not just people that they think undeserving that are getting help, it is all across this country and all of our congressional district, big and small and middle-sized and all of that.
HAYES: A very astute point about the universality of need in this moment. Congresswoman Maxine Waters, thank you so much.
WATERS: Well, you`re so welcome. And thank you for your message. Thank you for the work that you`re doing. Thank you for continuing to educate the public about what`s going on. I appreciate you. Thank you.
HAYES: I appreciate that. I appreciate that. I want to bring in another member of the House Financial Services Committee, as someone who is much newer to Capitol Hill, who`s also on the House Oversight Committee, Congresswoman Katie Porter, Democrat of California.
Congresswoman, you have been very focused from the beginning on sort of oversight about what tools the government has and haven`t used. So I`m going to start on that because it does seem to me, there`s sort of two competing impetuses here in tension. One is, Congress needs to move fast and a lot of money needs to move out the door quickly, or people are going to be in a lot of trouble. At the same time, anytime that you say, hey, move a lot of money out the door very quickly, you`re opening things up to lots of funny business and you need to have oversight. What are -- what are you -- what do you have your eyes on?
REP. KATIE PORTER (D-CA): I think we`re not seeing enough attention paid to the oversight. And you talked a lot about some of the anger and some of the political ramifications for Democrats and Republicans if these programs are not executed well. So I would say there`s two things I`m looking at. One is making sure that we`re planning and putting into the legislation tools that make these programs successful.
So it simply isn`t enough to tell any administration, but especially the Trump administration, hey, go do this because they`re going to get it wrong. So, we need to be more directive and more prescriptive and not simply be writing a blank check. We need to be telling them exactly what we want them to do.
The other thing is we need to be showing the American people that we`re using the oversight tools that we have. So we put into the last package $500 billion for Secretary Mnuchin, and we said we`re going to have a Congressional oversight commission that`s going to oversee that money, and yet that Congressional oversight commission is not set up, it is not operational, only one member has been appointed. And so, we need to demonstrate -- not just say we`re going to be doing accountability, but actually do the work.
HAYES: The small business program which has been something that we`ve covered here, and I`ve been doing reporting on and talk, in touch with a lot of people who are trying to interface with it, these are people at banks, these are people who are small business owners. There, there is both a lot of money there. There`s a lot of need. There`s been a lot of logistical log jams. I wonder what you`re hearing from your constituents about that program, which Mitch McConnell tried to basically jam through $250 billion more today to kind of take away Democrat`s leverage.
PORTER: Yes. So, I talked to a lot of small business owners, had been doing phone calls to constituents every day, if I can. We have had some businesses that have been successful, but those weren`t (AUDIO GAP). He`s like, well, I used to be a commercial banker before I started this nonprofit. So he`s more sophisticated, he`s been able to take advantage of it more quickly.
I think one of the things we need to do is make sure that the smallest businesses, those who don`t have accountants, those who don`t already have existing SBA loans, that they -- that separate money is being set aside for those people. And we need call on business leaders like Jamie Dimon on Wells Fargo, to set aside money and resources for our smallest businesses.
I think that`s really an important condition that we need to put if we add more money to this program for small business. And I think we should -- we also need to condition to make sure that it isn`t (AUDIO GAP) leave nothing behind for our smallest businesses. And those businesses, whether women or minority-owned, brand new, they need time to get their applications in.
HAYES: Yes, that`s a -- the first come first serve, I think, has set a lot of panic through how this entire thing is being processed right now. Congresswoman Katie Porter, thank you so much for your time tonight.
PORTER: Thank you.
HAYES: Senator Bernie Sanders suspended his campaign yesterday, you probably saw the news, of course, a landmark moment in this election cycle. And also, when you just take a step back, because it`s easy to get lost in this, a truly crazy conclusion on the Democratic primary. I mean, think back, right, through the year and a half of coverage of this race, who would have predicted it would end with a video message while nearly the entire country is in a forced quarantine during a pandemic.
Sanders` campaign undeniably had a major impact on the Democratic Party as a whole. And joining me now to talk about all this in his first T.V. news interview since ending his campaign is Senator Bernie Sanders. Senator, first I thought maybe you could take us through your thinking here, what your conversations with staff were, what they were with the Biden campaign. There was reporting that you even talked to former President Barack Obama about how and why you came to the decision you did.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): Look, there were two trends of thought among my key supporters. Number one, Bernie, look at the arithmetic. You`re 300 delegates down. No way that you can come up with the kind of delegates you need for the convention. Get out. The other line of thought was look, we got to keep fighting, we got to keep our issues out in the floor. We got to fight for Medicare for all, we got to deal with climate change. We`ve got to make college or public colleges and universities tuition free. Keep those issues in the forefront.
But I think what finally shaped my decision was the reality that as the United States Senator, I have got to deal with this unprecedented crisis that our country is facing in terms of the pandemic, in terms of the fact that now at least 17 million people have lost their jobs. So I want to play the role -- a stronger role as I can in protecting the working people of this country during the economic collapse, and doing everything I can to make sure that all of our people have the health care that they need right now. So those are some of the factors.
HAYES: Just to sort of confirm the reporting, have you -- have you talked to President Obama during this period of time?
HAYES: What have those conversations been like?
SANDERS: Well, they`ll private conversations, Chris.
HAYES: Well, can I ask you about your conversations with Vice President Biden?
HAYES: How have those been?
SANDERS: Yes, look, I`ll give you a better and somewhat detailed answer. Look, Joe Biden is a good politician, and his people are very smart. And they understand that in order to beat somebody like Trump, they`re going to have to generate a lot of excitement, a lot of energy and reach out to people who have not necessarily been all that supportive of the vice president. And that means a lot of younger people, a lot of lower-income people.
And I think what you have begun to see and will continue to see is that the Vice President is listening to many of the concerns that low-income people and working people and young people have and beginning to move in their direction. He is now on board in making public colleges and universities tuition-free for folks who are under 125,000 a year. He`s is now on board in canceling student debt for those who are have been at public colleges and universities and HBCUs.
I would have gone obviously a lot further today here, but that is a movement in the right direction. Not far enough to my mind, but it is a movement, an important movement. Today he announced that he would support reducing the eligibility age for Medicare from 65 down to 60. Again, a step in the right direction. There are a whole lot of millions and millions of people 62, 64 years of age who desperately want to get into Medicare, they will be able to do it.
Again, I believe, needless to say, that we should move to a Medicare for all program for all of our people and that if there`s anything this crisis is now showing us is the weakness of the employer-based health care system. Because when millions of people are losing their jobs, they`re not only losing their income, they`re losing their health care, as well. But I think what you will see is the vice president beginning to move in a more progressive direction.
HAYES: Those -- all of those announcements were coming the last few days and clearly, you know, I think the subtext or even just the text to them, right, is about sort of making overtures to folks in your camp. I want to - - I want to sort of present to you an interpretation of events that I have seen people offer and get a response to it, which is basically -- I`ve seen people say, basically, you know, you have a pretty good a good personal relationship with Joe Biden, and that personal relationship is better than the personal relationship you have with Hillary Clinton in 2016. And that`s a key driver for your decision making in 2020, as opposed to 2016. And what you would say to people that make that argument?
SANDERS: Well, I don`t want to go back to 2016. You know, I`m not a great fan, as you well know, Chris, of political gossip. I have known Joe Biden for a number of years. I got to know him in 2006 when I entered the Senate, work with a minor number of issues when he was Vice President. I like Joe. I respect them. I think he`s a very decent and honest guy. And I think we can work together.
But I think the trick here is for him to develop an agenda that will respond to the unprecedented crisis that we are in right now. I think with 17 million people losing their jobs in the last three weeks -- and by the way, the number is much greater than that -- people losing their health care, people unable to pay their rent, people want bold ideas. They want a government that is prepared to stand up for working people in a way we have not seen for a long time.
HAYES: You know, you say bold ideas, and I`ve been thinking a lot about this. I was just having conversation in the last block of the program about it. But, you know, covering very closely this campaign, you know, throughout my political life, there are certain moments where the rules of how will you pay for it seem to get suspended, like the Iraq War, the multi-trillion dollar investment in Afghanistan over 18 or 19 years. And then there`s other times where how you pay for it is this cudgel that gets wielded? And I wonder what -- as you are watching this extraordinary period, and I think we would both agree and most people agree that the government needs to take extraordinary action to spend money, but just what do you make of this moment ideologically to see so many Republicans, you know, wanting to shovel more and more money out the door?
SANDERS: Look, Donald Trump is the guy who has absolutely no ideology. In fact, I just heard -- I don`t know if it`s -- you know, with Trump, you never know what`s true, we never know what`s real or not, but he just said he wants to waive student debt for the next six months. You`re hearing it first right here. He may not call it Medicare for all, I would not drop dead if in one form or another Donald Trump got up and said, you know, we`re in a terrible crisis, people can`t afford their health care bills, I think we should guarantee health care to all people.
He does not have any ideology. His goal, his only goal is to win, to enrich his friends, he will say and do anything to do that. And I think what the Democrats have got to do is come up with 83-point programs which they often do, but be simple, straightforward, represent the working families of this country, and let the people know which side they are on.
HAYES: The final question for you is, is one of the things -- you know, there are sort of these competing metrics I think people use to evaluate candidates. One was one sort of ideology and one`s like technocratic competence for lack or how good an administrator they are. And having watched Trump up close in terms of the stakes of management of the U.S. government, I think a lot of people feel like they are seeing that in the highest relief they`ve seen in a while. And whether you feel the same way when you think about just the enterprise of who`s running the American state and the stakes of that as we watch this pandemic unfold.
SANDERS: Absolutely. The incompetence is frightening. This is a president in the midst of the healthcare crisis, gets up and says anything that comes to his mind whether it has any scientific basis, or not. Thousands of people will have died because he delayed and minimized the crisis that we were facing, downplayed. So the incompetence is, to my mind, extraordinary.
And I think what we have got to do in the Congress right now is be absolutely as clear as we can be. The Defense Production Act has got to be used in a vigorous way. We have got to provide health care for all of our people during this crisis. I happen to believe that what the best approach economically is to make sure that everybody continues to have their paycheck, continue paychecks, and subsidize employers in that respect.
I think that`s the cleanest, easiest way to protect working people in this country. But we need bold ideas now, not 87-point programs.
HAYES: Senator Bernie Sanders, just if I can editorialize for one moment. I saw a news today about how your campaign will be paying the health care of all the people that you employ in the campaign through I think the next six months, and I just want to say that it`s a deeply decent thing to do and I`m glad you`re doing it. And thank you for taking some time with us tonight.
SANDERS: Thank you very much, Chris.
HAYES: All right, coming up what`s happening in the states that took precautionary measures early, versus those that waited. Why just a week, one week could make a world of difference after this.
HAYES: So in the U.S. right now there are a number of regional Coronavirus outbreaks that are accelerating in different ways at different paces. And of course, we brought you stories about this. We brought you a story before on this show about two neighboring state, Kentucky and Tennessee, as a kind of parable about the impact of acting to contain the virus relative early, as Kentucky`s Democratic Governor Steve Bashear did versus late, as Tennessee`s Republican Governor Bill Lee did.
And the numbers appear to illustrate the difference. Tennessee, which closed schools, restaurants as well as businesses about a week after Kentucky is currently reporting 4,634 positive cases and 94 deaths. Kentucky, which was much faster to institute such measures is reporting just 1,452 cases and 77 deaths.
But -- but, but, but -- there is something to keep in mind regarding this data specifically and all of the data that you`re seeing, a lot of this seems to be reflecting testing rates. Tennessee has tested way more people, nearly 60,000 versus about 23,000 people who have been tested in Kentucky.
Now the percentage of the people who have tested positive in Tennessee is still higher, which certainly is significant, but the difference here is not nearly as stark as the first appears. And while Tennessee is reporting more fatalities than Kentucky, it also has more than 2 million residents than Kentucky.
The point is that making comparisons right now with the data we have between places, between countries, between regions is just really hard. And I would say this, the granularity and specificity of the data that we all have access to can very much give us a false sense of how much we really know about what is going on. We are still trying to sort through all this data, and also just figure out how accurate the data may or may not be.
But, all of that said, one thing we can pretty well establish, and this is, I think, a consensus view of epidemiologists who have been studying this, is that states and areas that move early do better than states that wait.
Consider what has happened so far in New York and California. Again, those states are running different numbers of tests. There`s different levels of population density and just broadly nothing here is simple, lots of variables, right, what`s undeniable is that California officials acted earlier and the state has had a less severe outbreak, and New York officials moved later, and has had the worst outbreak in the nation.
Both New York State and New York City, specifically, both of them acted more slowly than they might have. And it has had real consequences.
In a new story tracing New York`s relatively sluggish initial response, the New York Times reports the former head of the CDC, Dr. Thomas Freedan (ph), believes that if New York State and City had adopted widespread social distancing measures a week or two earlier, the estimated death toll from the outbreak might have been reduced by 50 to 80 percent.
Of course, none of this is easy for any policy maker of any party in any region who has to make decisions about shutting down a city or an entire state, but this isn`t just a question of second guessing what happened before, because many places in the country, indeed throughout the world, right, are different places on the curve right now. The decisions that are being made in this moment are going to make a huge difference.
I`m going to to talk to a Democratic governor of a traditionally red state, about how he`s approaching the fight against the virus right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: You can`t allow America`s businesses to wither on the vine and die. There are parts of this country with very low incidences of COVID-19 that likely, yeah, we can open those areas probably now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: There are people the president listens to who keep hitting home this one specific point that, you know, if you got a few number of cases you can open up for business, but there is a profound misunderstanding of the fundamental dynamic here, no place can really reopen without courting and exponential outbreak, even if the incidence rates are low right now.
Take Montana, out of a population of just over 1 million, it only has 354 cases, six deaths, so the state is doing pretty well, I mean, certainly compared to a place like New York.
But data shows it will start to get really bad unless you keep things closed down, which is why Governor Steve Bullock issued a stay at stay-at- home order on March 26. Montana Governor Steve Bullock now joins me to talk about it.
Governor, can you take me through your thinking given the fact that unlike a place like Washington, California and New York had very early cases and very quick sort of case growth, how you thought about and how you and folks in the state modeled what would happen to the state unless you did issue some kind of order?
GOV. STEVE BULLOCK, (D) MONTANA: You bet, Chris. I mean, we actually declared a state of emergency before we even had one COVID-19 positive case, closed schools for about a month now, where I think about the end of the second week of a complete stay-at-home order all together, recognizing that what we need to do is make sure that our health care system doesn`t get overwhelmed, make sure we can flatten this curve, because the sooner we do so, then we`re going open up economic opportunities again.
So, so much -- you know, these are difficult, difficult steps for any governor to take. I`d rather be accused of overreacting than overwhelming our health care system. And I wake up each day thinking about the health and safety of Montanans, and also recognizing the economic health of them. And I want to get us back to the point again as soon as possible where our great economy can thrive, but we can`t do that until we get our hands around this global pandemic.
HAYES: I`m curious if you could talk about the sort of unique challenges in terms of hospital capacity in a state like yours compared to a place like New York City, which is extremely rich with doctors, nurses, hospitals. And of course we`ve seen those pushed to the brink and beyond.
52 of the 56 counties in the state of Montana are considered primary care shortage areas. There are nine counties in your state that don`t even have doctors. How does that factor in to your conception of what your capacity is if the virus gets out of hand there?
BULLOCK: Yeah, I was in the community earlier today that has two ventilators in the entire hospital and recognizing that if we get hit in a place like that, it`s going to be so significant. So, I do that every day, an account of available hospital beds across 147,000 square mile state, available ventilators and also reach out to them for what supplies that they need.
We have tried to make it easier using telemedicine laws, as an example, and making it so that as we are waiting for CARES act money that I can provide some state financing, bridge financing, to keep our rural critical access hospitals open, but it really is, you know, one might -- and it is a tragedy what is happening in our major urban major areas, but the smaller communities and the rural communities are fighting to get the supplies and need things that every other place does would be easy to overwhelm those areas.
HAYES: Right. How are folks in your state dealing with, adapting to this, you know, the message to stay home, the sort of idea of social distancing? We`ve seen some polling that suggests it`s been received differently by different folks depending on where they are in the country or what their political affiliation have been, and I wonder if you can talk how receptive people have been to the collective enterprise of flattening the curve.
BULLOCK: Yeah, I think on the one hand -- I mean, Montana is like a small town with a long main street. We take care of one another, so we know that we`re doing this to actually take care of our friends and our neighbors and everyone else. But as a father of three kids -- look, this is difficult, and it is difficult along the way...
HAYES: Yes, it is.
BULLOCK: Yeah -- I have been pleased that people are taking this seriously. And it`s not law enforcement that`s making sure that, you know, folks are following it, it`s neighbors saying let`s all take these significant actions right now so that way we can get back to addressing both the economic challenges of this and getting our state back open.
HAYES: You had an exchange with the president at one point about having a hard time getting access to testing kits. I think it was a few weeks ago in one of the calls with the governors.
I just wanted to sort of final question follow up on where things are for you and the state in terms of your access to testing and whether you feel like you have the capacity the state needs.
BULLOCK: Yeah. And Chris, I`m probably not unique as any governor we spend as much time trying to be that supply clerk to coordinate supplies in as we do everything else. Like right now, on the one hand we have enough testing kits, and we have consistently been able to. But some of the reagents and the swabs are difficult.
I mean, I`ve to date gotten more masks, N95 masks from North Dakota than I did the strategic national stockpile to date. And we`re out there on the private market often competing against others to try to get these materials.
HAYES: Governor Steve Bullock of Montana, I know you got your hands full so I appreciate you taking time to talk to us tonight.
BULLOCK: Good seeing you. Thanks so much.
HAYES: Ahead, I`ll talk with writer and author Ta-Nehisi Coates about the ways the Coronavirus is disproportionately impacting black Americans. You don`t want to miss it. That`s next.
HAYES: Every day we get more data about how the virus is transmitting and hitting people in the U.S., the clearer it becomes that existing social inequalities, especially racial ones, are amplifying its effects -- in transmission, in fatalities, in economics, all these things have been pried wide open by this disease. I`ve been texting throughout this crisis with my friend Ta-Nehisi Coates and I really wanted to talk to him on air about all this in this surreal moment.
And joining me now is author and journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates.
You know, Ta-Nehisi, I think when people talk about, you know, the abstract of racism or segregation or the history of racial oppression or white supremacy, things like that, people are like what does that mean? What does that mean? And I think someone wrote this, and I`m not going to get the citation right, but like the fatality rates here, the disproportionate fatality rates, the life expectancy changes, like that`s as concrete empirical reality about what that means as anything.
TA-NEHISI COATES, AUTHOR: Yeah. No, you`re seeing it. I mean, it`s right in front of you. And I would suspect that anybody who has any sort of grounding in the history of this country, in the long history of white supremacy in this country, in where black people have existed in the hierarchy of this country, is not particularly surprised. It is as though you had a building, and you had a group of people who were living on the first floor and in the basement. And then the waves came in. One cannot be shocked that they`re going to be affected in a certain kind of way, as opposed to other people who live on other levels of the building.
But Chris, I think it`s important, even as we note that to understand that this will not be a black only disease, that`s not really how America works and it`s not how racism works. Black people bear a disproportionate brunt of it and will, but I think it`s really, really important to emphasize that white people won`t get away either.
There`s always pressure to view certain things as, you know, diseases or certain groups of people or the focus on individual behaviors, et cetera. And I just want to head that off before we even go in that direction, while noting the disproportionate effect. I`m making it clear that it`s the result of historical processes.
HAYES: That`s such an important point, too. Because one of the lessons here, right, is that like -- there`s two truths here. One is that there`s a disproportionate effect among certain communities, particularly people -- front-line workers, people in African-Americans, people who have preexisting co-morbidities, which are linked to all that. The other is that the virus doesn`t care, it doesn`t care about boarders, it doesn`t care about, you know, what neighborhood, it will spread. It will get there -- like it`ll be in Albany, Georgia, and it`ll be in Montana, and it`ll be in Ecuador, and it will be on the upper east side and it will be -- like, and both of those things are true at the same time, but that latter part about there`s a part of that binds this -- us all together is I think you`re right and important not to lose.
COATES: Yeah. I mean, the virus doesn`t care, it`s us who cares, America cares. The virus, you absolutely correct about that, the virus is color blind, we are not. And the way the virus plays out is according to how things have always play out.
I mean, this is no different than the housing crisis, for instance. In the wake of the housing crisis, the anemic response to that crisis certainly black people suffered a disproportionate loss of wealth. But you can go through all this country and find that white America was not spared. We just got hit harder, but that doesn`t mean white people won`t get hit.
And so I think there`s tension, right, you have to hold both of those things at the same time.
HAYES: And it`s also -- there`s something deeper than that, too, in the policy structures that we erect, because what ends up happening is, so many concerns in American policy debates, which get sort of run through this lens of special favors for those people -- oh, you`re going to give special money to those people, if you fund the cities, we all know what that means. That ends up being an obstacle to universal programs, things that would end up helping everyone, right?
Like there are all kinds of universal programs in this moment if anyone can get health care at -- and everyone had insurance, would probably be better for everyone, no matter who you are, and yet that particularism and the legacies of that are part of what bring us to this point where it`s hard to sell Americans on that.
COATES: Yeah, you`re exactly right. You`re exactly right.
And so that`s why I think it`s really important to talk about it in that way. And, you know, kind of going in another direction, but, again, holding this tension. I really think it`s important to understand that, and to restate, I know that folks get tired of me saying it -- I get tired of saying it -- that this moment originates in white supremacy.
The beginning of this long epic is Donald Trump`s flirtation with birtherism, that just has to be said. It`s, you know, calling a judge a Mexican, that`s the political origination of it. It`s playing out throughout it, it`s not being lost in it. The insistence on calling COVID- 19 the Wuhan Virus, and literally protesting a world institutions unless it`s labeled the Wuhan virus. The focus on New York City, you know, that John Rocker like focus on New York City as somehow the place that`s poisoning the rest of the country. It`s all right there.
The right wing identitarianism of it is still with us, and it`s been with us from the origin and playing out right now, too.
HAYES: It`s also true that -- I`ve been thinking about this a lot, one of the things we learned here, as we have gotten the reporting about the response from the White House was, there was this move to shut down travel from China. And if you look at the record of the president talking about it, it was like, well, problem solved, right. If all you have is a wall, everything looks like an invasion. It was like, we ll, we shut down China. This is a Chinese thing. We don`t have them coming from China anymore -- by the way, that was not true, there was actually tons of travel coming in from China. But that itself gave this false sense of security precisely because he and the people around him are so devoted to thinking of the world in those terms.
COATES: Yeah, and it`s deeply dangerous. I mean, it is deeply, deeply dangerous. You know, as we started this conversation, I was saying obviously a disproportionate number of African-Americans are going to pay for that error, but some of Donald Trump`s supporters are also going to pay for that error, too.
And this is how the history has always been. Unfortunately, there have been folks in this country at critical mass, not necessarily all, and sometimes not even most, of white people who have been willing to pay the cost in order -- as long as there`s somebody else below them who have also paid the cost. And I just think we`re just seeing that play out right now.
HAYES: I wonder how you have been thinking about this, this sort of magnitude of this crisis. I mean, it`s striking to think about in the last say 20 years, in particularly a generation slightly younger than you and I have sort of come of age. But I mean, between, you know, 9/11, the Iraq war, and then the worst financial crisis in 70 years and the great recession, and now the worst pandemic since 1918, but also something that doesn`t have a good, close analog, the sheer amount of disaster, institutional breakdown that we have witnessed in a short period of time.
COATES: Yeah. I mean, it`s historic. It`s really, really historic.
And for my money, as I said, you know, this moment has its origins in the fact that a certain sector of the country simply couldn`t bear the idea of a black president and was willing to sacrifice the sanctity of all of its institutions.
And for three years, folks skated on that, and they got away. And every, you know, second we thought is this the moment, is this is the moment, is this the moment? And I`m not saying, you know, this is the moment that necessarily brings Trump down. I wouldn`t be surprised if he were re- elected again in the fall. But the bill comes due eventually, you know? It`s sad, but I think those of us who have some grounding in history are not at all surprised.
HAYES: Yeah, the bill coming due, it`s been really difficult to watch that bill coming due. Ta-Nehisi Coates...
COATES: It has.
HAYES: Great to talk to you, man.
COATES: All right, thank you, Chris.
HAYES: That does it for All In for this evening. In what is this, the third week of quarantine? Is that where we are? It`s very, very easy to lose time, but important to keep it, I think. I hope everyone else is doing well and getting through all this.
The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
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