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coronavirus bill TRANSCRIPT: 4/21/20, All in w/ Chris Hayes

Guests: Phil Murphy, Gretchen Whitmer, Richard Levitan, Doug Jones, Elissa Slotkin, Albert Samaha

ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: -- But that we have a real prevention and indeed a real cure. Thank you.


ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: We now have hope and hope for a cure. Those were Dr. Fauci`s words. They resonate today. They`re our last words in tonight`s broadcast. Keep it right here for Chris Hayes.

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. Last week, the Trump administration put forward his plan for "opening up America again." A clear signal to states that it was time to think about it, to get back to reopen.

In fact, the President has been talking about more than that. He`s been talking about a future with crowded restaurants and packed football stadiums. And he`s been encouraging these small groups of very loud protesters, sometimes armed, who are trying to pressure governors to ease restrictions and who do not, for the record, reflect the opinion of the majority, indeed, the vast majority of Americans.

The reality remains that it is not clear the country is ready to open in any full sense. And we need to ground the conversation in the reality of now, right? This is what now looks like. On Sunday, there were 16 pages of obituaries in the Boston Globe. It`s the largest daily paper in Boston, eight and a half pages and the Times Picayune, out of New Orleans. That is almost double the normal amount. 12 pages and Connecticut`s Hartford Current, the index on the left uncharacteristically stretching all the way to the bottom of the page.

And in New York, where new cases are down, thank God, the ICUs are still full, surgical trauma nurses like Amy Pacholk are exhausted.


AMY PACHOLK, NURSE, STONY BROOK MEDICINE: None of us in the downstate area of New York can even handle anything more. There`s no way. We`re full. And frankly, we`re tired. And there`s nobody to be able to do our jobs. If you want to live, you stay home. My God, don`t open up this country.


HAYES: If you want to live, you stay home. Today, we lost another 2,500 Americans to this virus, and the idea that we are definitively past the peak, that it`s time to sort of move on the virus cannot get even worse once we venture back out, it`s just not supported by the available evidence.

Just today, we saw the biggest jumping Coronavirus cases since April 10. The COVID tracking project which has been assembling this data and publishing it for all the U.S. states and territory said coronavirus deaths rose to a new single-day high and their data set today.

The director of the Centers for Disease Control himself warned the second wave of coronavirus this winter will likely be worse. Telling the Washington Post, "When I said this to others, they kind of put their head back. They do not understand what I mean."

But here`s the thing. The Trump ministration his own plan, the one that they released to great fanfare, their own plan for states to begin to "reopen" requires the state to have -- and I`m quoting here, "downward trajectory of documented cases within a 14 day period," as well as, "robust testing program in place for at-risk healthcare workers including emerging antibody testing."

Now, those are in fact quite sensible recommendations. And they are in phase one of the administration`s reopening plan. But it is not clear that any of the states that announced they are reopening meet those Trump administration guidelines. Look at the state of Georgia, which is about to reopen a wide range of businesses under Republican governor Brian Kemp.

The state will allow the reopening of businesses including hair salons, gyms, bowling alleys, nail salons, and massage therapy centers on Friday, followed by restaurants, private social clubs and movie theaters on Monday.

If that sounds insane to you, you are not alone. For the record, Georgia does not meet the White House guidelines. It does not have a 14-day trajectory of declining cases. It has tested less than 90,000 people out of a population of more than 10 million. Mayors in Georgia are describing the governor`s decision as reckless, dangerous, and illogical.

Stacey Abrams, who was the governor`s Democratic opponent in that 2018 gubernatorial election, hotly contested, says "the decision could cost lives.


STACY ABRAMS, FORMER GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE, GEORGIA: We`re the eighth largest state in the nation, but we have the 14th highest infection rate and the seventh slowest testing rate. What that means is that these jobs that are reopening, these businesses that are reopening, are going to force frontline workers back to the work without having been tested, without having access to a health care system to help them if they are in need.

The worry is that by trying to push a false opening of the economy, we risk putting more lives in danger.


HAYES: But it`s not just Georgia. Republican-led South Carolina and Tennessee have plans to reopen. Texas and Alaska are moving in that direction as well. Colorado which is run by Democrat, Governor Jared Polis who we`ve had on this program also has a reopening plan, though we should say, the timeline is considerably less aggressive.

The push in some states to reopen quickly, even in contravention of, again, the White House, the Trump administration`s own guidelines, is perhaps best encapsulated by the Lieutenant Governor of Texas Republican Dan Patrick, who argues that there are, and I quote him here, "more important things than living," like bowling in Georgia, apparently.

But it`s not even clear, and this is a really important point, that this move by Georgia governor Brian Kemp or other states will be good for the businesses in these states. Those businesses will have restrictions lifted, but they may not be able to conduct business safely and they may not have many or any customers. So what good does it do them?

One Georgia business owner tweeted this. The state`s decision "demolishes our ability to negotiate with our commercial landlord about easing the rent during the pandemic. They`ll expect us to reopen on Friday and pay rent in full a week after. This is kind of the point."

For all the attempts of some voices on Trump T.V. and the president to blame the governors for the predicament, the problem remains the virus. And now a state like Georgia has put restaurants and nail salons and tattoo parlors in a situation where I guess, you know, it`s on them to pay the bills, even if they do not have customers or to try to strong-arm their workers into coming in and giving massages.

It remains the case and I get tired of saying it but it`s just true every night that fighting and combating and beating the virus, containing it, surveilling it needs to be our primary concern. It is such a simple elemental truth. It somehow needs, however, to be drummed into the heads of powerful people that seem intent on missing it.

At the White House today, a group of nurses held a protest over their lack of personal protective gear. Clad in face masks, they held up photos of their fallen colleagues, while reading aloud the names of 50 nurses who have died from the virus.


ERICA JONES, NURSE, WASHINGTON HOSPITAL CENTER: We`re here because our colleagues are dying. Our health care workers, our nurses, our doctors, our people are dying. I think that right now, people think of us as heroes. But we`re feeling like martyrs. We`re feeling like we`re being left on the battlefield with nothing. On COVID units, everyone is hungry, everyone is thirsty. Everyone is afraid to eat and afraid to drink because if we take our masks off, we`re afraid we`re being exposed.


HAYES: I`m joined tonight by the Democratic governors of two states, both part of a different multi-state PACs on Coronavirus mitigation, Governor Phil Murphy in New Jersey and Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan. And Governor Murphy, let me start with you.

New Jersey obviously is a different state. Every state has different outbreaks and different things to think about. But just to sort of imagine what it would be in New Jersey, if you were to say tomorrow in New Jersey, you can open your nail salons, you can open your restaurants, you can open your movie theaters, I mean, would that work at all? Would there be any customers? Would there be any commerce whatsoever?

GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D-NJ): Chris, good to be with you. I`m honored also to be with Governor Whitmer. I`m a big fan of hers. And by the way, before I answer, sign me up for the importance of living team. So with all due respect to the Lieutenant Governor of Texas, my God, nobody would show up.

People are a lot smarter than some of these folks are giving them credit for. They want to have not only do we want to preach stay at home, social distancing, do your part -- and by the way, New Jersey has done -- the folks in this state have done a great job with that, but we`re not out of the woods yet.

Not only do we need to give them the confidence that we`ve got a testing regime in place, contact tracing, we`ve got a plan to isolate any rebirth of this, in addition to cracking the back of the curve, but they want confidence themselves. No one`s going to show up. And who can blame them?

They want to make sure that we`ve on the backside of this curve, which we`re not there yet in our state at least, and we`ve got a system in place that gives them the confidence that they and their families can come out and participate in the economy and the society again. And it`s -- we`re not there yet, at least here.

HAYES: You know, it`s interesting, because I think there`s been a concerted effort to produce the perception that this is a contentious and polemical issue and polarizing issue in American life about these mitigation efforts, but I thought the polling out of your state was interesting. 88 percent approve of New Jersey folks approving banning gatherings. 95 percent approval of requiring face coverings in public places. 89 percent approval moving the primary July.

What I`m seeing when I look at the actual numbers is a lot more sort of unity behind the broad approach to beating back the virus than maybe some corners are trying portrayed. How do you feel about it?

MURPHY: And I feel strongly that`s the case, Chris, at least again in New Jersey. And that`s my complete focus. There`s a small number of folks who are protesting a lot of the steps we`ve taken. And by the way, they have a right to protest. I wish they would do it virtually in at home. But overwhelmingly, and by the way, across the political spectrum, folks want to make sure that we beat this virus first, that we -- that we do the things that we have to do.

They may not like it, and God knows I completely understand that. Folks have cabin fever. I get it. They`re looking at the weather getting better. We understand all that but they understand, unless we keep doing what we`re doing, we`re not going to break the back of this. And as we say, public health creates economic health. It`s in that order and folks get that.

HAYES: I want to ask about a particular population that every state has and has a particular risk and that`s prison populations. Obviously, nursing homes have been the area of a lot of concern and reporting, because they have been extremely exposed long term care facilities, veterans zones, but prison populations also are places where it`s very hard to socially distance. You have exposure, both employees and of inmates.

There was an article in that a sick corrections officer in your state had to get a coronavirus test on his own. Are you satisfied there`s sufficient testing and surveillance inside prisons, and are you doing enough to make sure those are safe environments for both the prisoners and the people who work in them?

MURPHY: Chris, first of all, as a general matter, as a nation, we came into this as a testing reality at a minimum, with one if not both arms tied behind our backs. We`ve now tested the fourth most amount of tests of any American state, but it`s been cobbling it together with bubblegum and paper clips.

And we`ve said consistently, it, we will break the back of this virus. In addition to doing the right thing by humanity, we will break the back of this virus unless we bring everybody along. Long term care, nursing homes, veteran home -- veterans homes, and corrections. So we`re in the process. It`s gotten better.

We`re in the process, actually, of looking through a series of steps and batches of folks that we`re actually considering letting go under the right circumstances. We`re trying to get all the protections to our corrections officers, the testing they need. I read that same story. I was horrified by it.

We`ve come a long way, but we`re not where we need to be. But that`s a national story, not just in corrections. It`s a general matter. We`ve come along long way, but boy, we have a long way to go as it relates to the testing.

HAYES: All right, Governor Phil Murphy in Jersey. Thank you very much, sir.

MURPHY: Thanks for having me, Chris.

HAYES: I want to bring it now, as I said before, Michigan Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer. And Governor, you know, this sort of idea of building, I think, a narrative of everything being polarized on this question of stay at home orders, and of course, Michigan saw some protests, again, numerically, a fairly small sense of people.

Give me your sense of what, what is happening in your state. I know that you`ve been the subject of critique by some Republicans in the legislature. Do you think there`s broad support politically for continued efforts to sort of attack the virus and bring the curve down?

GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): I know there is. And we see that the vast majority of people in Michigan are doing the right thing. We`ve been able to start to flatten our curve, and it`s because people are staying home. They`re taking this seriously.

And so as you see efforts to reengage economies, we know that it`s going to be absolutely essential that we are making decisions based on the best science and the best practices that when certain sectors are slowly brought back on that they have the PPE and the protocols they need to keep both their employees safe as well as the general public who is -- who they`re hoping will come into their stores if it`s a public-facing operation.

I think for the confidence of our citizenry, we`ve got to get this right. We have to share with people how we are proceeding and what our test levels are, what our hospitalization rates are, what our ability to meet needs are or if we do have COVID-19 growth in a particular part of the state.

People need to have confidence that we have a plan that we are being methodical and data-driven about this and that we are keeping their health at the center of all the decisions we`re making.

HAYES: Let me --- yes, let me ask you the same question I ask Governor Murphy in New Jersey, which is if you were to say, you know what, OK, you can open your movie theaters and massage parlors and your nail salons tomorrow. Do you think there would be any workers or customers for those sorts of venues at this moment in where Michigan is?

WHITMER: I don`t think so. And you know what, those would be some of the last things to come online. When we do search reengaged sectors of our economy. As we`re doing the analysis, it`s a rigorous undertaking to make sure that we get this right, because I think if we can all agree on something unanimously, is that we don`t want a second wave of COVID-19 to threaten our lives and threaten our healthcare institutions.

And so the last things that come online are going to be the ones that are so intimately public-facing especially if there`s not the appropriate PPE available. And I don`t know what the situation is in Georgia, but I know that we are grabbing every PPE we have for our first responders, for our nurses, for our doctors.

And then we will talk about how do we ensure that businesses have PPE for their employees. But the immediate concern is those frontline people that are doing the essential jobs that are life-sustaining, and we don`t have enough PPE for them right now.

HAYES: I want to ask you the same question I asked Governor Murphy also about prison populations, which again is a specific subset. There was an article about one prisoner who passed away from COVID, a juvenile lifer actually who was just weeks away from parole. There are a lot of people who feel that it`s simply immoral and unjust for folks to essentially face that kind of, you know, sentence of sickness inside the prison. Have you done enough as a governor to keep those places safe or to release people that don`t need to be there.

WHITMER: Well, we`re working incredibly hard to make sure that people who are incarcerated are safe and that we are maximizing our ability to parole everyone who is in the pipeline over the course of the next 12 months. We are expediting. We`re working literally seven days a week with a parole board to keep moving people out so that we ensure that they`ve got a home to go to and that they can be saved once they return and that there are people that can safely be returned to the general public.

And so I think that having a plan for returning citizens is absolutely essential. We`re doing testing in our prisons, we don`t have COVID-19 in every prison like some states do. But we do have it and we`re taking it very seriously. We`re isolating people who have symptoms, of people who have tested positive.

We have a number of corrections officers who we`re trying to make sure they get the quick tests so they can stay on the front line as well as taking care of our incarcerated Michiganders. And so this is something that is a challenge though. We`ve got people in close quarters with a virus that is incredibly contagious and deadly and there`s no cure, no vaccine for. But the more we can test, the better. That`s for the general population, that is for our incarcerated population alike.

We need the swabs and the reagents so that we can get to our double, triple capacity which we have now but we can`t execute because we don`t have all of these critical supplies.

HAYES: All right, Governor Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan, thank you for making time for the program tonight.

WHITMER: Thank you.

HAYES: Next, concerning reports from a New York hospital where people are showing up with completely at first, it appears, unrelated health issues who turned out to have advanced cases of the virus. I`ll talk to the doctor who witnessed it firsthand and wrote about it right after this.


HAYES: So there`s a lot that we don`t know about the Coronavirus. One thing that we`re pretty certain about is that we were missing both Coronavirus cases and also fatalities due to the virus, which means we still don`t really know how widespread it is and also how deadly it is.

New York Times did an incredible macro study, the statistics where they looked at the data for a bunch of different countries that have their own outbreaks and they found a spike in mortality above the official death counts in one country after another.

Take a look at Spain. The historical death average is in light blue, and then that red line spiking up is deaths this year. Between March and April, there were nearly 20,000 more deaths than normal. Now, about 12,400 of those were counted as coronavirus deaths. That means there are more than 7,000 excess deaths in the country Spain alone unaccounted for.

Same in the case of England and Wales, over 6000 unaccounted deaths. And it`s the same story each of the places the Times look at the data. But this phenomenon is also showing up at the micro-level in this incredible account from an emergency room doctor in New York City who accounts people heading to the E.R. for non-Coronavirus reasons, turning out to have an advanced form of virus. "The patient stabbed in the shoulder, when we X-rayed because we were worried had a collapsed lung actually had COVID pneumonia. In patients on whom we did CT scans because they were injured and falls, we coincidentally found COVID pneumonia."

Joining me now is the doctor who wrote that excellent piece, Dr. Richard Levitan, who volunteered, spent 10 days in the E.R. of Bellevue Hospital at the beginning of the month. Doctor, this piece, really I`ve read a lot of medical accounts, and this one really, really compelled me. Just what was your experience of the sort of finding out that patients are treating not thinking their COVID patients are, in fact COVID patients?

RICHARD LEVITAN, EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN: I think the most remarkable aspect of this story, Chris, is that COVID pneumonia actually does not cause subjective respiratory problems to most patients until it is very advanced. That there are many patients who have COVID pneumonia who don`t realize it. Probably, I would say in the United States, thousands and thousands who have had COVID pneumonia and don`t even realize it. And that is the way it advances, the way it kills is with relatively few symptoms, initially, it advances to a very serious level of low oxygen. And then when people present, they are very seriously ill.

Oh, so I called this in that piece in The New York Times silent hypoxia, that it progresses slowly, and patients actually don`t have a lot of subjective shortness of breath until it gets very advanced, and unfortunately, very serious.

HAYES: And so it was your conclusion when you`re seeing these patients who are in they`re not initially presenting as COVID patients -- and again, this is speculative, but I`m curious what your sort of inferences here that the population New York just has a lot more of it going around than people realize or that people are coming in and not realizing this is the thing driving their symptoms or whatever sort of distress they`re feeling.

LEVITAN: So I actually think the illness of COVID pneumonia sort of spans the gamut. There are people who come in with no complaints at all, and we just check in oxygen, it`s slightly low. You know, but they came into the emergency department for falling down the stairs, and they have a laceration on their head, and we end up finding their oxygen is low, and it`s because they have COVID pneumonia.

But on the other end of the spectrum, are the people who are dying silently at home, and all those unaccounted deaths that you mentioned. And there is this large bunch of people obviously presenting to emergency who become short of breath, and by the time they are symptomatic, their disease is very advanced.

So we have a full spectrum of people with mild symptoms, who maybe never went to the hospital for it who have gotten over it, or people who were coincidentally find it. There`s people in the middle who are there for the respiratory problems, but when we diagnose it, it`s already very advanced. And then there are many, many people obviously dying at home with COVID pneumonia who never realized that that`s what was going on.

HAYES: That point about the kind of hockey stick nature of the -- of the disease`s progression, at least in terms of its danger, I`ve heard from other doctors treating it, I mean, that they have a patient in front of them who seems fine and their oxygen just doesn`t make any sense. Like what`s showing up in the readings is someone who should be flat on their back. And there`s a mismatch between the -- how they`re presenting and what -- and what reading they`re getting about their oxygen level.

LEVITAN: It is like nothing anybody has ever seen. The only comparison I could make is these folks have blood gases in terms of their oxygen, their carbon dioxide, their breathing, that matches what is happening physiologically on the top of Mount Everest. These people have oxygen levels that are not compatible with life, but the way they got there, I believe is slowly and insidiously.

If I were to drop your oxygen from 100 percent, or let`s say 95 percent, where most of us are, and then we brought you to 50 percent, everybody who has that sudden drop would be unconscious or having a seizure. These people are on their cell phones, but they are dangerously close to the limits of what humans can tolerate. And then they deteriorate abruptly.

Unfortunately, the way we normally detect shortness of breath, the way you normally feel short of breath is when our carbon dioxide rises, or we get some, you know, feedback from our lungs of pain or something else. These people don`t get that. Their carbon dioxide is very low actually. So it is low oxygen with very low carbon dioxide. They`re breathing, they`re compensating, and they do that silently until it gets to a very advanced stage, and then they show up with these numbers and we look at it and we just can`t get our head around it.

But it matches physiologically what happens at extreme altitude, you know, in that 29,000 feet on Everest. It`s insane how low their oxygens are.

HAYES: Dr. Richard Levitan, it was a really fascinating piece and great talking to you tonight. Thank you for your work and for your time tonight.

LEVITAN: Can I just say, Chris, that you know, the heroes in this story are the workers in New York, the emergency docs, the nurses, the respiratory therapists who have learned a lot about this disease. I think when we look back on this, you know, as a people talked about the RAF about, you know, so much was owed to so few by so many. I think that America will look back and realize that we learned a lot from New York City, and I just was there for 10 days, but the shout out goes to those folks.

HAYES: Thank you. I really appreciate you saying that, Doctor. Be well.

LEVITAN: Thank you.

HAYES: Coming up, the Senate reaches a bipartisan deal for the next round of Coronavirus Relief Spending, but is it anywhere near enough to keep the American economy going? That`s next.


HAYES:  Well, they struck a deal. The Senate passed a new bipartisan Coronavirus relief bill today by unanimous consent. The House now expected to take it up on Thursday. It`s a nearly $500 billion interim bill, which is mostly centered around the program that we`ve been covering a lot, the paycheck protection program, which ran out of money last week and now will get some additional funding.

The bill also includes some additional stipulations that Democrats insisted upon in negotiations. For instance, money for small businesses working with community banks to make sure that they are not short changed and left out, as well as money for hospitals and also $25 billion for nationwide testing.

That said, it leaves out money for a whole host of priorities, particularly state and local governments, which are just bleeding, bleeding, bleeding dry right now, as well as universal vote by mail for November, and a whole lot of other stuff that is going to have to be in another piece of legislation that everyone seems to agree will happen, but who knows?

Joining me now is someone who voted on today`s now Coronavirus relief bill, Senator Doug Jones, Democrat from Alabama.

Senator, you do not object to unanimous consent, so I assume you`re thumbs up on this. What grade do you give this, people call it an interim bill?

SEN. DOUG JONES, (D) ALABAMA:  Right. I give it a pretty good grade. It`s a heck of a lot better than what Senator McConnell put on the floor about 10, 12 days ago was just throwing money into the PPP program. We`ve got a lot more. We`ve got an extra $120 billion for that program now. We have got money for hospitals and we got money for testing.

You`re absolutely right. It is not everything that I would like to see, particularly for our mayors out there that are suffering so bad. But overall, I think it`s a good bill.

Remember, all of this is a work in progress, Chris. It`s going to be a work in progress, Chris. It is -- it`s going to be a work in progress for some time, so this was a good way to get more money in there and get things continuing to go.

 HAYES:  I want to ask about -- follow up about mayors and local governments. But first just on PPP, and maybe -- this may be a crazy idea, but unemployment insurance is in the bill beefed up unemployment insurance. It is not appropriated with a hard limit, basically if you qualify for it you`re going to get it and the cost is going to be what the cost is.

I don`t understand why Democrats and Republicans, all you guys up there who think it`s a good program don`t just fund PPP this way, because my understanding of the need for a program is, they`re going to run out of money in a week. We`re going to be back to where we were a week from now.

JONES:  Well, as a matter of fact, Chris, I`ve got a program that we rolled out just last week to do just that, that I hope will get in the next package, it`s called the paycheck security program. And it will do just that, it will fund things, a business of any size, nonprofits. It will go through either Treasury or maybe even the IRS, and it would be a grant program, you could use payroll processors. I think your and I talked about that about a month ago as a possibility. And it would go straight to fund payroll up to $90,000, and it would be a six-month program.

It would give people the cushion. It would give businesses the cushion needed, and the employees the cushion that they`re needed to open those businesses back up in a smart, healthful way.

There`s a lot of guard rails on it to protect it, but I think it`s a great program and I`m really hoping that folks on both sides of the aisle can take a good, strong look at it as we go forward.

HAYES:  Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, which of course borders Georgia, expressed some trepidation about Governor Kemp`s decision in Georgia to reopen places like nail salons and massage parlors. Do you have concerns in Alabama?

JONES:  Oh, absolutely. You know, about Georgia I do. I mean, look, our governor today had a press conference and she could have done the same thing, but she didn`t. She stood strong. She said she was going to follow the advice of the health care professionals. She was going to look at opening at some point down the line when we`re sure that our case number is declining. She defied what they did in Florida and Georgia.

You know, Chris, I had to take my mom to the doctor yesterday. And the first questions they asked her, have you had a fever, have you had respiratory problems, have you traveled internationally. And I think people from Alabama, they are going to have to asking if we traveled to Georgia or Florida lately, because what they`re doing in those two states I think is just crazy.

HAYES:  Final question about the mayors and localities. I mean, you`ve got a state and cities in that state that are going to be essentially bankrupt. I mean, you know, not in a technical sense, but are going to have deficits this year, operating deficits that will be enormous. They will be even bigger next year. Are you confident that Mitch McConnell and Republicans are going to be there to help those states and localities out, or do you worry that when it comes time to do that, that the Republican Party is going to say, oh no, now we`re worried about the deficit?

JONES:  Absolutely. I think we`re going to be worried about something. I mean, they haven`t been there yet. Democrats have been pushing to help mayors across this country from the very beginning, and there`s been an incredible amount of push-back

We were lucky to get $150 billion for states and local governments the last time, but it was only supposed to be for extraordinary COVID related expenses. Democrats have been pushing to help our mayors who are on the front lines, providing those essential services without the revenue that everybody knows that they should be getting, but because of the stay at home orders they`re not.

We`re going to continue to push for that. But I don`t really have that confidence, but I hope that they will. I`m afraid that they`re going to hang that over the cities and the mayors to, in some twisted way, to make them open the economy back up. That would be unfortunate.

HAYES:  Senator Doug Jones, thank you so much for making time tonight, sir.

JONES:  My pleasure, Chris. Any time.

HAYES:  Right now I want to bring in Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin, Democrat from Michigan, who is slated to vote on the bill with the rest of the House on Thursday. Your first initial response, are you enthusiastic? Are you a reluctant thumbs up, or you a thumbs down?

REP. ELISSA SLOTKIN, (D) MARYLAND:  Well, listen, I`m going to be a thumbs up, but, you know, it`s a compromise bill. It`s not perfect. But that`s the name of the game right now. You negotiate, you try to get things in, in particularly making sure that our small businesses get access to the PPP loans was a big deal, making sure our hospitals have money, that we have money for testing. But that`s the nature of negotiation, you try and you`re not going to love everything, and I don`t.

And I hope that we move on to the next conversation, the one you were just having on what we`re going to do for our cities and towns.

I don`t think people are really connecting, that if we don`t help those cities and towns make up for lost revenue, we`re going to have a hard time paying for our police officers, and our firefighters and our first responders. This is kind of core base budget.

So, I think -- it`s important that we get on to that next piece. I wanted it in this bill. It wasn`t. But I hope that the administration lives up to their commitments and they do it in the next one.

HAYES:  One thing I have sort of tracked is -- and I`ve spoken to you a number of times, as well, lots of lawmakers on this program is, is are folks in Washington -- not in Washington any more, everyone is at home -- are they tracking the size of what we`re dealing here appropriately? And I think it took a while to catch up, particularly when you look at the size of some of those first bills. Where do you stand right now on that? Like, this -- the numbers are great depression level. This could reverberate for years and years and be a cataclysm that`s generational or it could be staunched with good policy. Do you think the will is there for that latter route?

SLOTKIN:  I do. I do, because I think people are really trying to absorb now what we`re going to need. It is different. I mean, I always think back the first emergency COVID-19 package that came to the congress way back in sort of mid or early March was for $2.9 billion, that`s what the administration thought they needed to handle COVID-19. And then we bounced it up to $8.3 billion, and we thought that was a big bump-up. And now, obviously, we`re talking about unbelievable amounts of money.

I do think people are understanding the magnitude of it. But right now we`re doing survival bills, right, just to get people through and bridge them through the transition. We`re going to have to have a whole other conversation about stimulus. And we`re not talking about stimulus yet, and that`s a whole other ball of wax.

HAYES:  Yeah. I see what you`re saying. So just to get through, and then the idea of like the fact that there`s going to be a kick-start that`s needed to, as we quote, unquote, reopen, if that happens or what that looks like, which is going to be at diminished capacity, which I hope people understand who are making policy.

SLOTKIN:  Yeah. I mean, listen, we are suffering as an organization, because we are not together, right? Congress is a pretty traditional place, where a lot of smart ideas and things happen by actually people being in the room, by holding hearings, by holding briefings, and a lot of that is, you know, happening either remotely or by telephone call. It`s just not the same thing. And we`re still struggling through that.

And so, you know, I think that we`re helping with these survival bills, yes. Certainly the PPP program was wildly popular and is going to be a lifeline for our small businesses. Do I think it`s the end of the conversation and that we have it all right? Of course not.

HAYES:  Do you have concerns about some of the abuses that have been pointed out for the PPP program, just in terms of larger firms getting it, publicly traded firms got about $300 million. One headline I saw, which is sort of in a full genre is that Scott Pruitt, who lobbies for a company, a coal company, that they managed to get a $10 million business loan, despite having more than 500 employees.

Is there sufficient oversight right now, sufficient scrutiny to your mind, about who is getting this money and who is not?

SLOTKIN:  Yeah, well, we worked hard in the last bill to make sure we had some inspectors general, some oversight. The president is pushing back on that. But this is exactly why we negotiated a different package this time. There was a real debate, whether we just do a straight renewal of the PPP program, or whether we make a carve-out for our smallest businesses. And we got $60 billion that are carved out for small and medium-sized businesses.

That was an important piece for us, because we`re picking up the phone at home and hearing from our smallest businesses saying I can`t get in the door with a bank. I can`t get in there. I`m not competing with my biggest businesses. We`ve helped, at least in the interim, to open up the aperture of the program.

HAYES:  Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin of Michigan, thank you, as always, for making some time for us.

SLOTKIN:  Thank you.

HAYES:  Coming up, the deadly cost of doing nothing to stop the spread. Amazing new reporting on how a pork processing plant in South Dakota became the center of one of the largest known Coronavirus clusters in the nation. A new investigation on how that virus spread so quickly, ahead.


HAYES:  It has now been two weeks since the Wisconsin Republican Party, along with the help of the State Supreme Court forced the citizens of the state to go out and vote in the middle of a global pandemic.

Now, as you might expect we are beginning to see Coronavirus infections that appear to be directly tied to that in-person voting. Talking Points Memo reports at least 19 people who voted in person or worked at a polling site that day have tested positive for Coronavirus. One state senator told reporters today, quote, "I fear this is just the beginning."

But perhaps it is not surprising that in the wake of that voting debacle, a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that two-thirds of Americans currently support vote by mail for the national election in November, and 58 percent want the election rules changed permanently.

There`s widespread bipartisan support for mail-in voting. And I should tell you it appears that mail-in voting was used more by Democrats in the latest Wisconsin election, but -- this cannot be stressed enough -- there has not been historically through the record any clear partisan advantage to vote by mail in general. There`s no reason to think there`s a partisan advantage now. The whole point is to allow all people to participate in democracy without risking their health.

That should be a no-brainer. But as we are seeing unfold day after day, the health of Americans is not always the priority. That story is next.


HAYES:  A second worker from a Smithfield meat processing plant in South Dakota has died of the Coronavirus. Craig Franken, 61, died on Sunday from COVID-19 complications. A 40 year veteran of the plant, Franken according to his he was planning to retire in the next couple of years.

The outbreak at this Sioux Falls plant is among of the worst clusters of Coronavirus in the country, and workers are beginning to speak out.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I started getting really super concerned when a person on my line was diagnosed with COVID-19. There`s people standing in line outside. There`s people inside in the locker room, people walking down the hallway and there`s no way of being six feet apart.

A lot of us were getting scared knowing that if we didn`t show up for work we might not have a job.

A lot of people were worried about their family members, bringing it home and spreading it to them.


HAYES:  As of today, there are at least 725 -- 725 -- confirmed cases among plant employees, according to the Argus Leader (ph). Smithfield told All In tonight, quote, "we are doing everything in our power to help protect our team members from the COVID-19 in the workplace."

Here to talk more about how it got this bad and what happens now, Albert Samaha, investigative reporter at BuzzFeed who wrote about the Smithfield plant and how it turned a Coronavirus hot spot.

And Albert, first, I mean, just tell us about what this plant is, how many people work there, what the conditions are like even before the virus started spreading?

ALBERT SAMAHA, BUZZFEED INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER:  Well, it`s a pork processing plant, employees 3,700 employees, provides around 5 percent of the nation`s pork supply. So, this is one of the biggest pork-producing companies in the world.

HAYES:  And how closely -- how closely -- how close are people to themselves in the normal work of that plant?

SAMAHA:  So, a lot of folks work on a conveyor belt production line where they`re chopping meat, cleaning meat, passing meat down. They`re working shoulder to shoulder, literally rubbing elbows as they`re working in conditions where they`re passing meat to each other as well.

On other floors there are people with forklifts that go up and down the floors. At lunchtime they all kind of gather at the cafeteria together. You can have 100, 200, sometimes as many as 300 people in the cafeteria.

So, there`s a bunch of different jobs. And the majority of them involve people working literally shoulder to shoulder.

HAYES:  So, when you think about that, you think, you know, when you conceive of places in the beginning when we first starting finding about this virus -- cruise ships, long-term care facilities, prisons, meat processing plants seems natural to imagine you could get an outbreak.

Did Smithfield take precautions early on to sort of be proactive about the virus? And how did they find out it was spreading so quickly?

SAMAHA:  The extent of their precautions before they found out the first confirmed case was putting up signs in multiple languages, sort of giving hand washing instructions. Other than that, there really wasn`t much, if anything.

They found out in late March, last week of March, March 24 was when some of our sources first heard from managers that there had been a confirmed case. And for the next week that followed,there was no policies implemented for those seven, eight days. And then on April 6 is when they closed the 8 floor, which is the first time that they closed any department, and that was about a week afterwards.

They left everything else open, continued operations as normal, and then the following week was when they began to put in the Plexiglas dividers, the cardboard dividers, and giving out masks. The problem as we know how this virus spreads now was by the time you sort of see a small outbreak, it`s already too late and there`s many more people infected than you can even know.

So, by the time the first week came when they took the first steps, by the time the second week came, they were already having a fast outbreak that they really couldn`t catch up to.

HAYES:  I mean, this is a story we have from Wuhan, from Lombardi to New York, I mean, there are just -- it just keeps repeating itself. Like if you wait a week after you get your first confirmed case, you are going to have a massive outbreak. And now 735 people, I think there have been two fatalities.

The governor has been very protective of Smithfield. And she said this thing on April 13 sort of defending the companies in some ways saying she thought the transmission wasn`t happening in the plant. Take a listen to what she said.


GOV KRISTI NOEM, (R) SOUTH DAKOTA:  We believe that 99 percent of what`s going on today wasn`t happening inside the facility, it was more at home where these employees were going home and spreading some of the virus, because a lot of these folks that work at this plant live in the same community, the same building, sometimes in the same apartments.

HAYES:  I mean, that seems that a lot of these folks do, my understanding, from your reporting and others, is they do live close to each other. But it just seems impossible for anyone to know what the source of transmission is and they are all working in the same facility.

SAMAHA:  Yeah, I think one of the things I was telling about what the governor and the company has said about this how this spread is that they`ve cited no other factors other than the fact that a lot of their employees happen to live close together.

When I spoke -- when I initially spoke with representatives from the company, they didn`t give me any answer over why it might have spread so quickly except initially sending me that very link to the interview you just played. So, they`re also sort of using the governor`s words to defend their actions.

And I think the thing that really caught my eye -- as we reported in our story is that even though the governor has not -- South Dakota is only five states that haven`t had any stay-at-home orders, and even though the policies themselves are delayed, especially compared to now other companies have handled this outbreak, despite those two factors, the only factor that both the governor and the company have cited is the fact that a lot of their workers are immigrants who live close together.

HAYES:  Yeah. Albert Samaha who along with Katie Baker (ph) did some phenomenal reporting about this plant. It`s one of several that have really, really bad outbreaks right now. We want to keep on this story. Thank you very much.

SAMAHA:  Thank you.

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