STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: And that does it for us tonight, thank you for being with us. And don`t go anywhere, "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes is up next.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. There`s a concerted effort on the part of influential people at the cable network that we at ALL IN called Trump T.V. right now to peddle dangerous misinformation about the Coronavirus. Call it Coronavirus Trutherism.
And the question at issue is one whose answer should be obvious to everyone, is this disease really as deadly as the vast majority of experts tell us it is, as we`ve all seen with our own eyes. Last night one Trump T.V. host told his viewers that all those experts are wrong. We should lift the lockdowns because it is just not as deadly as we thought.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: Just today, the San Francisco Bay Area announced it will be extending its lockdown until the end of May. That`s five weeks from now. What is the scientific justification for doing that? They didn`t tell us because there is none. None.
You may remember what they first told us back in February and March. They said, we have to take radical steps in order to "flatten the curve." Well, six weeks later, we`re happy to say that curve has been flattened, but it`s likely not because of the lockdowns, the virus just isn`t nearly as deadly as we thought it was.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Now, if you`re thinking wait, how can you say that the curve flattens not because of lockdowns, not because the holy unprecedented society-wide shutdown, well, you are right to ask that question.
But Tucker Carlson based his claim in part on arguments from two doctors who don`t own an urgent care center in Bakersfield, California. And they say their research found that Coronavirus is basically no worse than the flu, and played a soundbite from one of them. Oh, and here they are last night on a different Trump T.V show.
Now, of course, most public health experts have dismissed these doctors` findings. According to the University of Washington biologist Dr. Carl Bergstrom, who specializes in infectious disease modeling, "they have used methods that are ludicrous to get results that are completely implausible."
The national physician`s groups describe the doctors` claims as reckless and added this. "As owners of local urgent care clinics, it appears these two individuals are releasing biased, non-peer reviewed data to advance their personal financial interests without regard for the public`s health." Their personal financial interests.
Get this, even YouTube took down a video interview with these doctors for violating their community guidelines. The notion peddled by these doctors, and wallpapered all over Trump T.V. is that this virus is not as deadly as we thought. That is simply not borne out by the evidence.
Much of this nation has been locked down for weeks, and the virus has still killed nearly 60,000 Americans, roughly as many as we lost the entire Vietnam War. And remember that is almost certainly an undercount because it is based, at least on part on confirmed cases. The Washington Post just reported that just in the first few weeks the epidemic alone, United States recorded an estimated 15,400 excess deaths, nearly two times as many as were publicly attributed to COVID-19 at the time.
In New York City alone, even with the lockdown and the streets empty and no one in the office buildings, the virus has killed at least one out of every 500 people in the city. Think about that. Think about walking down a crowded New York City street how many people you would see. There is a reason that many of the employees of Fox News which is based in New York are working from home right now. At least someone there understands why it is important to continue to keep physical distance.
Now the question of precisely how long lockdown should last is a difficult one and there is no single black and white scientific answer. But as for the scientific basis for lockdowns, well, the science is literally the germ theory of disease. It is the 19th-century discovery that yes, infectious diseases are caused by microscopic organisms, like bacteria and viruses that are transmitted through interpersonal contact. And that is a scientific basis for greatly reducing interpersonal contact.
The whole point about shelter and places that yes, it`s the most basic science we have. What we want, what we want to get to is the more sophisticated scientific solutions, the ones that allow us to leave our homes. That`s what we`re trying to get to. That is what Americans ordinary everyday working Americans have bought the time to do with their own sacrifices.
And yet, Tucker Carlson, who has been broadcasting in safe isolation is telling you it`s safe to go out. That`s his message to you bus drivers and you people who work in meat processing facilities and you who are providing elder care in a senior home or assisted living facility or a cashier at a grocery store or working in an Amazon warehouse.
The cable news pundit wants you to get back out there because it`s just not that deadly. But for all the populace dire being mounted by the conservative politics legacy case from La Jolla, polling shows most Americans continue to believe that shelter in place is the right policy. In fact, more than three and four Americans who have lost work, lost work or lost pay from the virus, still support stay at home matters.
But here`s the thing, if Tucker Carlson truly thinks people need to get back out there, he can help because right now they need people in assisted living facilities that have been decimated by this. And they need people in meat and pork processing plants too. They`ve lost a ton of people to this disease. So get in there if you think it`s that bad. Go chop up some pork.
At the beginning of this horrible period, the president along with his lackeys and advisors and propagandists, they all minimize what was coming. They said it was just like a cold or the flu.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO HOST: The coronavirus is the common cold, folks.
JEANINE PIRRO, HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: It`s a virus, like the flu.
GERALDO RIVERA, CORRESPONDENT AT LARGE, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: The far more deadly, more lethal threat right now is not the coronavirus, it`s this -- it`s the ordinary old flu.
JESSE WATTERS, ANCHOR, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: I`m not afraid of the coronavirus and no one else should be that afraid, either.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is a flu. This is like a flu.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: And when told became to great when the facts could no longer be ignored, many of these same people started taking virus seriously. And yet now, now, after nearly 60,000 of our fellow Americans have been lost to this vicious virus, they are back to where they started, suggesting it`s not that dangerous.
And look, we all wish this wasn`t as bad as it is. It would be wonderful if we could just have everyone go back to work and to school and not see a spike in infections. God, I wish that were the case. But that`s just not how this appears to work. I mean, look, we`re always learning and maybe we`re going to discover new techniques to do work. Heck, I am more than open to actual evidence about the best policy path forward in terms of opening and lockdowns. But the virus is as deadly as experts warn, and those we`ve lost to it are gone forever.
A tidal wave of grief and trauma has been unleashed upon this nation in large part because the president and his enablers would not listen. And no amount of cynical What about-ism or politically expedient wishful thinking or junk science is going to change that brutal fact.
Joining me now is Dr. Rob Davidson, an emergency room physician who practices in rural Western Michigan, also serves as executive director of the Committee to Protect Medicare. Doctor, I`m curious both sort of in your firsthand experience and conversation with your colleagues, your reaction this idea of like, oh, actually, we`ve now found out it`s just not that deadly, it turns out it`s just not that dangerous, it is like the flu.
ROB DAVIDSON, EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN: Well, you know, I think my concern is exactly what you said before. We have been in a state of lockdown. And the only reason that we -- and I hate to say, only have 60,000 deaths, but we -- the only reason we are at 60,000 deaths and not two, three, four times that number is because we have been in this extreme state of lockdown.
We`ve already had more deaths in just a few months of deaths from this disease and then in an entire really bad flu season. And so, when I saw those two doctors from Bakersfield to come out with their data that isn`t actually data, it just sort of put me over the top as an emergency provider trying to protect my patients in my community.
HAYES: You also just have these stories. I mean, one of the things -- I`ve been talking to a lot of clinicians and I have -- I have friends who have been on the front line of this, I have sources I`ve talked to. The way this presents, the kind of wickedness of it, the strangeness, the randomness, I mean, the Washington Post had a story about young middle-aged people who are barely sick who died of strokes. There was this brutally heartbreaking story of a young woman who was 30 years old, who said she thought she had coronavirus, she was turned away twice and ended up dying of it. Like that`s not happening with the flu.
DAVIDSON: No, that`s not happening with the flu. The flu is relatively predictable. You can see the progression of disease. It certainly affects the old, it affects -- it affects the young more severely, but it`s a disease that progresses a long fairly predictable path.
This is something the novel coronavirus, that means a new. It means we still don`t know as much about it as we wish we knew. And we`re now finding out new things like the hypercoagulability, people having strokes, people having heart attacks, young people dying unexpectedly.
Yes, it`s something that, you know, I hope we never have to experience again, but as we`re living through it, we need to do this smartly.
HAYES: And what does smartly mean from your sort of clinical perspective?
DAVIDSON: Well, I think we`ve done a lot of hard work, and it`s affected our economy. It`s affected my patients in a very poor rural county in West Michigan. I see it on their faces. I know that my patients are losing their insurance and are looking to their government to help them afford health care. And we`ve done all of that hard work.
If we just rush back to opening up and end up having hotspots all over the place, just like we had in New York, and having hospitals overwhelmed, and running into potential shortages of PPE and ventilators as we were staring down the barrel of those shortages just a few weeks ago, what will it all had been for? You know, what was the point of doing it to this point if just getting hurt immunity like those doctors in California suggested, and accepting a significant loss of life and massive overwhelming of hospital systems everywhere, why did we go through the last, you know, four or five, six weeks of this economic trauma?
If we do it too quick, we`re just going to end up having a yo-yo effect going back and forth having this economic downturn lasts even longer.
HAYES: You know that this point is a crucial one to me because again, like I said, I am open to arguments right now about the best policy path forward. I think it was very clear that with the spike that we had that a kind of lockdown was essentially necessary to stop real kind of broad catastrophe.
The question about now to me is one that I`m open to persuasion on, but the possibility of a worst of both worlds eventuality which is what you`re suggesting, which is we have all the economic damage, we have tens of thousands of Americans we`ve lost to it, and then repeating this again, and repeating the trauma of it and the economic harm, and the and the and the loss of life again if we don`t get it right, is too brutal to contemplate.
DAVIDSON: It`s absolute insanity. And really the way we do this is the framework of the plan that they announced just a few weeks ago. But that requires testing and still to this day, we need at least 500,000 to a million tests a day. We`re sitting on around 150,000 to 250,000 or so. The early failures of not taking this seriously and not getting a national testing program are not in the past.
This is the present and unfortunately the near future because this President hasn`t acted in a way as a national leader in this response.
HAYES: You know, you`re talking about who your -- who your patients are on the part of the country you practice in, which is -- which is far away from sort of the urban center of the -- of the pandemic in New York City. And I`m just curious what you hear from your patients about how they`re thinking about this right now, this sort of cross pressure of the fact that the economic harm is tangible and real and devastating for many people and also the public health crisis is real.
DAVIDSON: My patients are nervous. I will tell you, in addition to a significant uptick in respiratory illnesses, and we haven`t hit our peak yet here in -- certainly in West Michigan. We`re probably two, three weeks away from that, and hopefully we can avoid a massive peak.
But the other significant increase are people who are just plain anxious. Anxious about the virus, anxious about leaving their homes, anxious about what they`re hearing on T.V. Most of my patients in my county probably watch Fox News and not MSNBC and so they`re getting these messages that tell them everything is going to be alright.
But then they come to the hospital and we make them put on a mask, and we don`t let them bring their family members in because we know we want to decrease the rate of spread. We want to keep our community safe. And they don`t know what to think anymore. And they`re getting leadership from the top that is a complete mixed message, lack of leadership. The Vice President is not wearing masks in hospitals. I mean, it`s just unfortunate that it`s so all over the place people don`t know what to -- where to find their information anymore.
HAYES: All right, Dr. Rob Davidson doing important work there in Western Michigan. Thank you, sir.
DAVIDSON: Thank you.
HAYES: I want to bring in MSNBC Political Contributor and former Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes. Ben, you know, the worry here always is the temptation for leadership in these moments is to listen to people to tell you what you want to hear, to find contrarian points that make it all seem like it`s going to work out, and fail to confront the sort of worst- case scenarios which I think has been the cardinal sin from the beginning, and I just feel like we`re in a groundhog day situation of reliving that again.
BEN RHODES, MSNBC POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. I mean, there are two things intersecting here, Chris, right? One is the failure of the Trump administration to prepare for this, and then to find any justification he can to try to minimize the perception of the damage this is doing to somehow post facto justify their failure to take this seriously.
The other is, let`s face it, Chris, there`s been a long-standing deep- rooted sense of anti-government conspiracy theories from the right that is part of the political force in this nation that gave rise to Trump and Trumpism, right. You heard this in the Obama years with respect to death panels. You saw it with the anti-vax movement where literally people are putting their children at risk by not vaccinating them. We had bizarre conspiracy theories in the Obama administration that, you know, we were going to impose martial law in Texas because there was a military operation taking place about preparedness.
And so what I think you see intersecting here is this desire to defend Trump at all costs, and therefore to make his minimization of this disease seem like it wasn`t as extreme a failure as it was kind of blending with this Fox News milieu of anti-government conspiracy theories that always suggested what the government telling you is wrong.
HAYES: Well, and there`s also there`s another -- there`s another part to this to me, which is there`s demand for it in the same way. You know, there is demand for -- in the market for people that will come out and say, oh, tobacco doesn`t cause cancer because there are hugely powerful interests that wanted to hear that. There has been demand for people that say that, oh, the fossil fuels aren`t warming the climate because there`s extremely powerful interest.
In this case, you know, there`s a lot of people that want to tell their employees to get back to work. I remember reading a very early Wall Street analysis that said, well, maybe one to two million people would die, but most of them are old, so you know, I don`t think it`ll be that bad. Like, there`s a whole bunch of folks that want to believe that it is the case that it`s not that bad and are very willing to raise up any voice that will tell them that.
RHODES" Yes. And we`ve heard, Chris, throughout this crisis, some people are saying the quiet part out loud, right. And so you had Trump early in this crisis, for instance, saying he wasn`t going to take in this cruise ship that was docked, you know, offshore with a bunch of sick Americans because he wanted to keep the numbers down, which, frankly, was a bit of a tell that perhaps the failure to get adequate testing was because you wanted to keep the numbers down.
Then you had officials like the Lieutenant Governor of Texas say, we can`t afford to have the economy closed. If people die, it doesn`t matter. We have to get the economy going. And frankly, a lot of powerful interest in this country do have an interest in preserving the economy in minimizing the damage to their bottom lines, even if it means literally, Chris, that people are going to die.
We just live through a month in which over 50,000 Americans died. That doesn`t happen in the flu. That never happens in the flu. That doesn`t happen in a year in a flu season and nothing close to that, right. And so, I think there`s kind of a moral bankruptcy that people can see, you know, in terms of the impact this is having as against what people are saying.
HAYES: And I can`t help but think about this and this crisis and compare it to the way that the politics of foreign policy crises play out, and this is something that you`re very well aware with. I mean, if the Iranians pulled off an attack that killed 50,000 Americans, can you imagine people going on air after that and saying, well, you know, the flu kills 50,000, 60,000 people.
If after 9/11 people went around showing up after 9/11 to explain to people that actually the flu is more deadly than 9/11 you would be viewed rightly as a complete sociopath. That`s a sociopathic thing to say, and yet it is crazy the amount of people that are happy to just trot out that talking point in the midst of this.
RHODES: Yes. Now, Chris, I mean, if you think about it this way, I mean, first of all, Ben Ghazi tragically killed four Americans. And the death of those four Americans was basically the impetus for over four years of congressional investigations. And, by the way, a lot of conspiracy theories about what was going on there about trying to take a tragic event that killed four Americans and turn it into something much bigger.
But even beyond that, Chris, we`ve spent trillions of dollars as a country, fought wars in multiple countries overseas including Iraq and Afghanistan because of the threat of what, you know, the right wing in this country would tell you is radical Islam, you know, essentially, to avert car bomb attacks and terrorist attacks, it might take a few dozen American lives.
When you think of the amount of resources that this country was willing to bring to bear against terrorism, again, trillions of dollars, versus the risk to American lives, no terrorists could ever kill 50,000 Americans. It`s impossible, right? And yet that is justified on the air of other cable channel in a way that this has been minimized.
HAYES: Yes, it`s striking. And I think to me the sort of grounding place for policymakers across all these domains and anyone who`s dealing with is just A, to take seriously that the loss. I mean, that was the case of Benghazi, which was a brutal loss for those people and those families. And like that is like -- and it`s the case -- it was the case in 9/11, it`s a case of when we cover mass shootings.
I mean, the losses is real and must be acknowledged and honored and the policy ramifications that flow from that can be debated. And we can think about what kind of society we want to have, but like, running around giving people like what about statistics about swimming pools, it`s just to me, it`s just nuts.
RHODES: Having been in government through unfortunately, tragedies and losses of life and lots of political debates, that`s what`s so just alarming about this mindset, which essentially says that if it`s a certain kind of loss of life, if it comes in a terrorist attack, for instance, that can be the focal point of the entire government effort. That can be the focal point of trillions of dollars of resources.
If it`s something that is inconvenient to my worldview, like a mass shooting that suggests that we have to deal with gun safety or pandemic that suggests we have to revert to social distancing, or frankly, just the fact that Americans with pre-existing conditions should have health care coverage so that they don`t die or forced to go bankrupt because of disease, then suddenly, this is minimized.
We have to get to a place, Chris, in this country where whether you`re a Democrat or Republican, whatever T-shirt you`re wearing, whether tribe you identify with, at least we`re dealing with basic facts and objective reality as the basis for how government is going to make decisions, AND the basis by which we`re going to evaluate what is in the best interest of saving people`s lives because these are human beings.
You know, with Trump, it`s almost like this ghoulish numbers game and an effort to make sure whether someone looks good or bad. We can measure how we are doing in this country against Coronavirus as against how every other country in the world is doing.
And if you look at the number of cases and number of deaths in this country, clearly we`re not measuring up. And the answer to that is not to minimize it and say that it`s not really that serious. The answer is to do better and take this more seriously.
HAYES: And to get better. That`s the -- that`s the answer. Ben Rhodes, thank you very much.
RHODES: Thanks, Chris.
HAYES: Next, of the nearly 60,000 deaths attributed by coronavirus, about one in five are people in long term care facilities. I talked to a governor who`s bringing in the National Guard to help protect his most vulnerable population after this.
HAYES: The coronavirus has had a particularly devastating impact on nursing homes and other long-term care facilities in the U.S. As of late last week, there were already over 10,000 reported deaths due to COVID-19 just in long term care facilities. That`s about one in every five deaths.
In Connecticut, as of last week, nearly 800 deaths have been from nursing home residents which accounts for a staggering 50 percent of the fatalities in that state. Now, the National Guard says 40 of its members will be helping the state`s Department of Health complete a physical inspection of all 250 nursing homes in Connecticut.
Joining me now is the governor of Connecticut Ned Lamont. Governor, tell me about what the plan is here for these physical inspections of the nursing homes in your state.
GOV. NED LAMONT (D-CT): Hey, Chris, it`s so disappointing. It`s so sad. We are about the first state in the country to say no visitors to nursing homes. We can`t do it. You know, the push back was really hard. We`ve gotten them the PPE they need. We did early testing.
But the problem with the early testing was it would take you five, six days to get a response back. And by then the virus could have extended. And I`m afraid that`s what happened in, you know, about 20 percent of our nursing homes who were severely hit.
HAYES: So what is the plan now though? Like I mean, obviously, what I`m hearing from you, is a need for a sort of change in approach. Given that, what is the plan now? How do you -- how do you make sure that these places are kept safe?
LAMONT: Faster, real-time testing, real responses, get the infected out of that nursing home. We have COVID only facilities for folks that are recovering. Better cleaning, absolute the sanitizing cleaning on a strict basis. We are going in and we`re inspecting each and every one of these nursing homes. We`re making sure they keep to the protocols, make sure people have the protective gear. They`re using that gear and making sure we can test on a real-time basis.
HAYES: Do you -- do you have -- are you confident in the reporting? I know that I think there`s now mandatory reporting, and this has been a real point of contention in a bunch of states and nationally about just what the requirements are for these facilities in terms of reporting, to whom they report and whether that information is public and available to people.
LAMONT: Yes, that`s a really good question. I think it`s different state by state to tell you the truth. I mean, here in Connecticut, we`ve got the reporting up the speed. We followed the CDC guidelines, which is, if it`s a COVID related death, if the person showed symptoms of COVID, we`re going to call it a COVID associated death. I think you`ll find in other nursing homes in other states anyway, they defined it a little less specifically.
HAYES: You said I think if I`m not mistaken, in the last day or so about cautiously optimistic about some kind of timeline for some sort of limited reopening for your state of Connecticut, the CDC guidelines for phase one talk about 14 days of declining cases. Where are you right now in that trajectory?
LAMONT: We`re day seven. Seven straight days of declining net hospitalizations. That`s the key metric, Chris. That shows you how much capacity you`ve gotten your hospital. So we`ve got our reopen Connecticut advisory board. They`re going to make some recommendations to us on Thursday.
My hunch is you`ll see some of the small main street businesses that have only been open for a delivery, maybe be able to let some people in there over the course of the next couple of weeks, provided you`re wearing a mask and they can socially distance.
I think what they opened in Georgia will be the last things we open. Those are the places, you know, massage, bars, and as such. There it`s tough to socially distance and that`s going to take a while.
HAYES: There`s about to be a big fight in Washington in this next bill, if there is a next bill about aid to states like yours. Connecticut is a state that net contributes to the federal purse in terms of what it gets back from the -- in federal dollars. Mitch McConnell had floated the ideas of state just declaring bankruptcy, which appears to have to walk back. What is your state need from the federal government and why should the federal government be looking to help states like yours?
LAMONT: Well, Mitch McConnell did nobody any favors by turning this into a red state blue state contagion. By the way, Kentucky has got one of the most underfunded pensions in the country and a very high 20 percent-plus unemployment rates. So we have to work for what you wish for. And if you look around the country, you`ll find a lot of states just had their revenues decimated.
So the previous bills pay us for COVID related expenses, which is really important, and that was constructive, but the other 90 percent of our budget deficits are related to the fact that income tax as well as sales tax have collapsed. And I might say that`s following the guidance of the COVID committee at the White House. They`re the ones that told us to shut down a lot of these service related businesses.
HAYES: And so you think the federal government should be helping with rescue funds for state finances that have taken an enormous hit from that the same way they`ve done it for big businesses, small businesses, the airlines, et cetera?
LAMONT: I really think they should. If you want to dig out from this recession, you cannot be stuck having 30 states raising taxes, slashing social spending, that`s just going to perpetuate this recession.
We could get out of this in a consistent way if we don`t have to lay off a lot of people at the state level.
HAYES: All right, Governor Ned Lamont of Connecticut, thank you, sir, for making a little bit of time tonight.
LAMONT: Nice to see you again, Chris, thanks.
HAYES: Ahead, what looks like actual promising news on a Coronavirus vaccine. I`m crossing my fingers very hard. What we`re learning about what Oxford scientists are saying about their advancements, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FAUCI: When you`re talking about the availability of a vaccine, even to scale it up, you`re talking about a year to year-and-a-half.
So he`s asking the question, when is it going to be deployed? And that is going to be at the earliest a year to a year-and-a-half, no matter how fast you go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: You`ve heard a lot of this. We cannot get back to normal until there`s a vaccine for the Novel Coronavirus, and no matter how fast you go, a vaccine is 12 to 18 months away. And I`ve got to say I hate hearing those two things right next to each other.
But what if a vaccine could be developed early, right? This little ray of hope that maybe it could. Well, we just got some promising news on that front out of Oxford University.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A group of scientists at the UK`s Oxford University says a vaccine could be closer than has been predicted, maybe even ready this year.
We spoke to them as they prepared for trials.
ADRIAN HILL, OXFORD UNIVERSITY: If you can have a vaccine in the next six months, it makes those other measures that any of us are suffering from at the moment, being isolated and not being able to interact, more worthwhile if there`s an end in sight. And I think there is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That was NBC`s Kier Simmons interviewing one of the professors working on that trial on Nightly News tonight.
Before Coronavirus, it turns out Oxford was already working on a vaccine for this style of illness, which put them far ahead of the game. It now appears they have some promising early returns.
Joining me now is Dr. Jessica Justman. She`s associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at Columbia. She`s also an attending physician in the division of infectious diseases at Columbia University Irving Medical Center.
So doctor, let`s start with this to begin with on the vaccine front. I read some virologist saying that, you know, if HIV is like the hardest thing to kind of craft a vaccine around, and influenza is hard but more doable, that actually Coronavirus is fairly stable and should be attackable with a vaccine. Why is that?
DR. JESSICA JUSTMAN, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: Well, I think a lot of it is based on the experience we`ve seen so far with some of the early vaccine trials as well as what we do know about the structure of the virus. I think the other thing I`ll had is that so far the reports about variations and the strain of the virus from different countries or different parts of the U.S. have not reported very drastic changes in the strain, so all of that looks encouraging and makes it look like it might in fact be, you know, more doable, as you said, than something like HIV.
HAYES: So these researchers in Oxford were already working on some kind of vaccine in the line of things like MERS and SARS and Coronaviruses generally. How does that sort of give them a kind of -- how does that accelerate what the time frame might be?
JUSTMAN: Well, this is, as you say, and as it is described in The New York Times a strategy they`ve been working on for about 20 years, and this is a strategy of using a virus that is very common, it`s called Adenovirus. It can cause a common cold. They make it so it can`t really replicate, and they engineer it so that it has genetic material from another virus inside.
You can think of it like a Trojan Horse vaccine strategy. And once it`s inside, then the proteins that are going to be synthesized by the genes inside that virus can then begin to develop a new reaction immune reaction. They`ve been working on this strategy for 20 years, and they also have safety data from a MERS vaccine that they worked on in the past year, and so that allows them to move forward more quickly.
I will say that I think their time-line is extremely ambitious. I hope, just like everybody else, that they`re right, that they can move this quickly. But it does say in the paper that, you know, they just started their phase one trial of the Coronavirus version of this vaccine last week. And they are looking to move from that initial safety study, what`s called a phase one study, by the end of May, to a phase two/phase three, which is the term that we use for a preliminary efficacy study. They would enroll 5,000 people in that study, and see if it actually works.
Now, to go for a safety study to an efficacy study within that short of a window of time is very unusual. You usually need more time to look at your data and understand if those first -- in this case 1,000 people who were going through the safety trial, did well, did they have any problems, it means if their window at looking at safety results can be very short.
HAYES: Yeah. We know that they have sound some efficacy in rhesus macaque monkeys, which is often used sort of pre-human. Then there`s the three phases.
This was one of the doctors talking about the confidence in safety. And we`ve had a virologist on the show explain that part of the reason that vaccine development takes long is if you`re going to give something to tens of millions, hundreds of millions, billions of people, you better be damn well sure the thing is safe. So there`s some real questions about that.
Here`s what this doctor had to say. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: We`re using a vaccine type that has been in thousands of people before, and that gives us confidence that firstly, this is going to be safe when we use it for this viral infection. We have a good idea of what type of immunity it produces.
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HAYES: So what I`m hearing from you, doctor, is like whatever the optimism here, there just are not a lot of shortcuts when it comes to testing at this level and the sort of steps of testing.
JUSTMAN: That`s true. The steps of testing do have to precede through a particular sequence, as you described it. I think what Dr. Hill is talking about is their experience of using this particular vaccine strategy, the Adenovirus that has pieces of genetic code from another virus that`s been reconfigured into it. They`ve used it for other viral infections, and so they have a lot of safety data from this strategy. I think that`s why regulators are letting them move forward.
It`s possible that a different group of regulators might say, you know, I want to see this exact, exact virus tested. I want to see the safety record from this exact virus before -- this exact vaccine, excuse me -- before you move forward. I think that`s where there maybe a little bit of daylight there.
HAYES: Well, we`ll see what happens on the regulatory end. Dr. Jessica Justman thanks for sharing your insight.
JUSTMAN: Sure. Happy to help.
HAYES: Still ahead, why the president is sending workers back into the centers of some of the largest viral outbreaks in the country. What`s happening in meat processing plants, after this.
HAYES: You might remember about a month ago there was this whole weird thing with something called the Defense Production Act, a 1950 law that basically allows the president to direct private corporations and companies to prioritize orders from the federal government. The president did not want to use that act to force companies to produce ventilators and protective equipment, because they did not want to put the heavy hand of government down.
Nevermind the fact that it had already been evoked hundreds of thousands of times in the Trump years, fairly routinely. Well, today, they came up for a use for the Defense Production Act that they think is not too heavy-handed, this one involves making sure that people go to work in meat processing plants which have been at the center of some of the largest Coronavirus outbreaks in the nation.
The president just signed an executive order to that effect tonight. And according to an analysis by The Washington Post more than 30 plants have had outbreaks with at least 3,300 workers falling ill, at least 17 have died.
Production is already down at least 25 percent, according to industry analysts, and further shutdowns could dramatically reduce the supply of meat. So the workers will be sent back.
Now, it remains an open question whether the workers will be sufficiently protected, working in a close environment where people stand shoulder to shoulder for hours.
But you can see where the Trump administration`s priorities lie. When it`s time to use that heavy hand of the government to get those workers back in those factories, cutting up meat, maybe infected each other with the virus.
And as we`ve been reporting, this is just the latest sign of stress in the food supply chain, which has been under increasing strains throughout the pandemic. We`re going to talk about that with the man who used to head up the entire USDA, right after this.
HAYES: Right now in just about the richest country in the history of the world, a number of Americans, huge number of Americans, are lining up at food banks while food is rotting and being dumped and destroyed in the fields because commercial food chains have closed down.
Large agri-food interests are blaring out warnings the food supply chain is breaking, and it`s probably the most stress that the very complex American food supply chain has ever been.
The perfect person to talk about this with, the person whose job it was to oversee a big part of the food supply under President Obama, former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. Let me start, Mr. Secretary, with actions taken today, the executive order signed by the president invocation, it appears, of the Defense Production Act to sort of mandate that meat processing facilities stay open.
What do you think about that?
TOM VILSACK, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE: Chris, it`s -- the meat processing industry is part of the food and ag industry which represents 28 percent of the work force and of the United States and 20 percent of the economy, so it makes sense to keep it open.
The problem is the president had -- he was half right. You keep it open, but you also instruct and order the various companies to make sure that the workers are safe. That means providing them adequate protection equipment - - personal protection equipment. It means spacing them out a bit more. It means slowing down the line, the production lines, so that they`re able to do their job safely and at little risk, and making sure that there are not incentives for people to come to work sick, that they`re encouraged if they don`t feel well not to come to work.
There are a number of steps that need to be taken that need to make sense.
HAYES: I see, so what you`re saying here is sort of hand in glove, like to keep these factories open you think makes sense, but that has to sort of go hand-in-hand with some set of regulations, workplace safety regulations that are implemented to dramatically reduce the risk, because we`ve seen the numbers are astounding. I mean, these places are clearly hotbeds for the spread of the virus.
VILSACK: If this is an essential job, then they require essential protection, it`s that simple. And the reality is if you disrupt the food supply any more you`re going to see significant increases in prices, which is going to impact those who can go to the grocery store. It`s certainly going to impact those who are having a hard time financially or unemployed, who are operating on food stamps and unemployment compensation.
See, it`s a balance, you want to keep the flow of food going, but you want to do it in a safe way. You want to make sure you provide people adequate resources to buy groceries. That means increasing the SNAP benefit, I think, in the next recovery act that congress considers. And you want to make sure that you create an incentive for people not only to produce the food, but also if they can`t sell it, do donate it to food banks, because the food banks, because the food banks are under great stress right now.
HAYES: Yeah. I want to circle back to that point, but one more question on the sort of regulatory structure here. I mean, it seems to me that large agri business interests have seen an opportunity here, and some of the sort of folks inside the Trump administration to deregulate in the face of the crisis.
We have last month the USDA gave a waiver that allowed a private company to take over inspection duties at a Tyson Foods beef slaughterhouse. We`ve also had USDA letting poultry plants actually put workers closer together, granting 15 poultry processors waivers to cut chickens faster by crowding more workers on their production lines.
What I`m hearing from you is that that is not what we should be doing right now.
VILSACK: Not given the numbers, not given the risks, not given the importance of keeping these facilities open. Those that have been shut down, they need to be reopened as quickly as possible, but with the same level of protection, otherwise you`re going to have a massive disruption of that supply. You`re going to impact farm income that`s already been devastated, you`re going to impact additional jobs and unemployment will expand, and you`re going to increase the cost potentially of food for so many struggling families in America today.
So, you need to keep them open, but you need to keep them safe. And that requires the companies to make some adjustments. And if by chance they are losing money as a result of these adjustments, well then maybe they`re an industry like the airline industry and other industries that may receive additional help. But in order to basically make sense of keeping them open, you`ve got to keep them safe.
Now, on the sort of food supply issue, I mean, I know it`s obviously one of the things that we`ve covered on the show and has been apparent as we really have two different channels, right? We`ve got the sort of grocery/residential food supply, and we`ve got the commercial food supply chain, and they`re pretty distinct, and it turns out when the demand for French fries in restaurants goes away, it`s not very easy for Idaho potato growers to just ship those potatoes over into the commercial channels. But I do wonder if there`s some creative solution here, it does seem insane to me that we`ve got people on line at food banks and huge amounts of food essentially being plowed under, left to rot, animals being quote/unquote euthanized, because they can`t be sold.
VILSACK: Well, there`s a disincentive in the system today for donation. It makes more financial sense in some cases to destroy than it is to donate. And we`ve got to eliminate that disincentive. We`ve got to create a structure and system whereby producers and processors are at least paid a minimal level of amount if, in fact, they donate. And then we have to work very hard to develop the distribution system, the supply chain, if you will.
The problem is that most of the food banks have relied on retail for donations. Well, retail doesn`t have anything to donate. They`re selling everything. So now, it`s necessary for us to get a more direct line from the producers and processors to those food banks. It`s going to take a little time to get that set up and structured. But you`ll never get it structured if there`s not a financial -- some kind of financial incentive, if you will, so that people aren`t losing everything.
They`re willing to take a loss, but not as much of a loss as they would incur if they essentially just donated the product. It`s literally better for them financially to destroy it.
It makes no sense. It`s unfortunate. It`s sad. It`s ridiculous.
HAYES: In the 90 seconds we have left, can you just explain why that`s the case? I don`t actually understand what is the current sort of legal incentive structure that makes that the reality?
VILSACK: Well, it takes about $1.50 a gallon of milk -- just to use milk, it takes about $1.50 a gallon to actually produce it and process it and transport it to a food bank. Unless the producer and processor are getting that $1.50, then it makes more sense for them not to spend that $1.50 to produce and process, it`s better for them to dump. It`s that simple.
It`s a financial situation, because of the system that we have.
HAYES: And because -- right. Because you`ve got the overhead obviously of production and transportation and all of those things. Former Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack who knows this brief very well. Thank you for your time tonight, sir.
VILSACK: You bet, Chris.
HAYES: That does it for ALL IN this evening in. "THE RACHEL MADDOW" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
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