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"escape from the lab" TRANSCRIPT: 5/4/20, All in w/ Chris Hayes

Guests: Ashish Jha, Sheila Jackson Lee, Annie Lowrey, Tyson Belanger, Ed Yong

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: South Korean baseball, take me out to the ballgame. Thank you for being with us. 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. As we bring to a close another Monday in quarantine, the question that has been sitting like a knot in my stomach is this, it continues to be this. What is the Trump administration`s national strategy for conquering the disease and getting the economy back on track? And the answer remains as of this day, that there is not.

In fact, it`s become increasingly clear the strategy of the Trump administration is to just give up, to essentially declare defeat in fighting the virus, in suppressing it. We gave it a run. We did not do what was necessary so we`re just going to let the outbreak spread.

That`s just not the view of Chris Hayes cable news host saying that, New York Times first reported today a leak graph from the Centers for Disease Control that suggests nearly 3,000 deaths per day by the beginning of June. That is nearly twice the daily death rate we`re currently experiencing. They also forecast about 200,000 new cases each day by the end of the month, up from about 25,000 cases day currently.

Now, that sounds very high. And we should note here, modeling the future course the virus has been notoriously difficult. You`ll never really know what to make of anything that comes out of the Trump administration.

Today, the White House distance itself from that document saying this is not a White House document, nor has it been presented to the Coronavirus task force or gone through interagency vetting. This is not reflective of the modeling done by the task force or data that the task force has analyzed.

And the model`s creator told The Washington Post, "The numbers are unfinished projection shown just shown to the CDC as a work in progress. While the exact numbers and charts in the CDC document may differ from the final results, they do show accurately how COVID-19 cases could spiral out of control.

The main point this CDC draft communicates is what those of us who closely follow the data also see. The New York, New Jersey, Connecticut outbreaks, the worst in the country have accounted for a huge share of deaths in cases. Those states have peaked and are now on the decline.

When you take those states out of the national picture, you can see that national cases in other places are growing. And they`re growing in Texas and Tennessee, and Iowa, and Kansas, and many other states that are reopening.

In fact, the editor and publisher of the website Talking Points Memo Josh Marshall has been breaking up the graphs of U.S. cases. You can see in this chart, the orange line represents New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. And you can see the virus has already peaked and is declining, right? It`s trending down. The yellow line is the rest of the country, not including those three states. That line is trending up.

So the point is that the virus is continuing to spread outside of the first major epicenter, and the sheer carnage of it remains shocking. Right now, we`re still staring down the barrel of 1,800 or 1,700 or 1,600 deaths a day. And this document of the CDC is contemplating it being much worse. So, what is the Trump strategy for that?

Well, according to The Washington Post, the only response or strategy has been centered around the President`s re-election, something that has been clear from the very beginning of the outbreak. The Post reporting the belief that the virus would not really be that bad, combined with grim predictions of economic calamity provided Trump justification to pivot to where he preferred to be, cheering an economic revival rather than managing a catastrophic health crisis.

So Trump and his cronies and his son in law who has an important role here for some reason, pushed to open it all up and attempted to cynically blame have their own policy failures, while acting precisely like the Chinese government did at the beginning of the outbreak. The President refusing to believe the worst and day after day pretending it was not happening while the virus just spun out of control.

On Friday night, Trump even moved to replace his own HHS watchdog, a woman who highlighted crucial hospital supply shortages and testing delays. He got rid of her because she told the truth about the government response.

And so, here`s where we are on this Monday. That the strategy that we are watching in real-time is delivering the worst of both worlds, right? The virus is not suppressed. Cases are growing outside the original epicenter. It remains a threat. It`s killing thousands of Americans. It`s going to kill tens of thousands more.

At the current death rate, we`re basically seeing a new 9/11 every few days and maybe one every single day in June if the worst course materializes. And because of that, the great economic reopening and awakening cannot actually really happen in any sense. What we are headed towards as a nuclear equilibrium are states that are not locked down enough to suppress the virus, but are locked down enough to make sure that we get a new Great Depression.

Here`s a dispatch from Georgia, right, the one that`s opening up. Reporters in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution visited a few Atlanta area, malls have reopened today. At Lenox, just a handful of cars sat in the parking decks and lots Monday afternoon. At the Mall of Georgia, most of the shops that did choose to open were devoid of customers. That is where we`ve ended up.

Just because the president says the country`s opening up, does not mean we`re going to have some huge national economic boom, because the Trump ministration hasn`t dealt with the problem which is the virus which is what we`ve been saying for months. And so, because they haven`t done that, they haven`t done enough to jumpstart the economy, and people are rightly frustrated with staying at home.

I mean, my God, Wuhan, China, original epicenter of the pandemic was locked down for 10 weeks and the longest lockdown just about anywhere. We`re starting week eight right now. You can`t lock people down forever, wherever they are, whether they`re in Italy, Wuhan, China, California. So you either get your act together, marshal state resources, and figure out a plan to suppress the virus and get people back out of their homes, or you just say that a lot are people going to die. And shockingly, that appears to be what President Trump has chosen to do. The latter.

Joining me now for more on what we actually need to do to reopen in America, Dr. Ashish Jha. He`s the director of the Harvard University Global Health Institute. And as harsh as that last part might sound, Dr. Jha, do you -- what do you think of that, I mean, as the sort of what we have de facto ended up with?

ASHISH JHA, GLOBAL HEALTH PROFESSOR, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: So Good evening, Chris. Thanks for having me on. It`s baffling. Like, there`s not some magic that we have to sort out about what we do here, right? We have to get testing and tracing and isolation in place. We`ve got to keep things shut down until the number of cases are dropping consistently over a 14-day period.

These are not my ideas, this is the President`s own opening up America again plan. On principle, he had it right, and he has chosen to abandon it less than two weeks after putting out the plan. It`s pretty stunning to me.

HAYES: That point is a really important one. The President`s own CDC, their own guidelines are now being violated and mass by the states at the urging and cheering of the President, and again, his son in law who plays an important role here for reasons yet determined.

And what do you think about the idea? I mean, the thing that really worries me, a lot of things worry me. But when you look at a place like Texas, or you look at places like Mississippi, where the kids are going up day after day, deaths are going up. I mean, the CDC says you need 14 days of declining cases. Like what it`s going to do to the outbreaks in those places if they start opening up as cases are going up?

JHA: So again, this is not a mystery. There`s simple biology and simple math here, right. And the simple biology and math are that the number of cases are going to start rising faster. The more you open up, the faster the increases. And at some point, the hospitals will start getting overwhelmed, nurses and doctors will start getting really sick, and the healthcare system is going to start collapsing.

And the idea -- and we`ve talked about this before, Chris, the idea that people will go out to restaurants and bars and go visit Disney World, in that context is a fantasy. And so, like I don`t understand what the President is doing, but he`s certainly not helping the economy and the good Lord knows he`s not helping save lives and keep the American people healthy throughout this process.

HAYES: You know, part of the law hear from the -- from the beginning is this kind of decentralized approach. I think that largely has been driven by the president not wanting to -- wanting to sort of escape blame or responsibility for things. But I thought the Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop had a kind of a great take on this, as someone who, you know, has a small city that he`s trying to figure out what to do with, that without federal mobilization, you just had bad choices as a local leader.

He says, "We don`t live in a perfect world. We`re realistic about our options. We have three bad choices. One, solely restore some normalcy to protect the long-term health of the city. Two, pretend people will stay inside indefinitely and wait for vaccine. Three, rely on Donald Trump for clarity."

Like, if you don`t have the testing and tracing and you don`t have a federal mobilization in place, everyone is now left with a basically a set of bad options.

JHA: Yes. And so we are going to muddle our way through this. That`s what`s going to happen. The next couple of months, we`re going to muddle. It`ll be terrible for our economy. A lot of people will die. What I think is going to happen and I`m hopeful that maybe the summer will help us out a little bit in terms of the weather and temperature. And what states are realizing is that they got to come up with their own plan for the fall that the feds are not going to show up and help.

And so, you`re seeing consortium of states getting together and saying, let`s build our own plan. And that is going to be how we`re going to fight this pandemic, 50 states at a time. It`s a lot less effective than if we had federal leadership, but that`s where we are.

HAYES: You just made a point about hospitalizations. And I think one thing that has been interesting to me when we`re looking at the modeling is that a lot of the hospitalizations have been below what models predicted even as fatality have been what a lot of models predicted. So the virus is quite fatal and quite dangerous and damaging. And in New York City, particularly we saw, and New York, we saw the hospital system in a kind of Wuhan or Lombardi type overwhelmed situation.

But there does seem to be a little gap between what the sort of worst feared hospitalization rates and hospital overwhelmed. And what has presented even as the fatalities have presented as bad, if not worse than what people thought. Where do you think we are in terms of our understanding of that?

JHA: Yes. So I think, first of all, there is still a lot that we are learning about the disease. But what we saw in New York, and I think what we`re seeing now in Dallas, where the hospital beds are starting to fill up, in other places as well, is that this is a pretty serious disease.

So it`s possible that in some cities, at some moments, it`ll underperform in terms of what we were worried about. But I don`t think that I can look out to the next three or six months and think our healthcare system is going to get through this just fine, especially if we start seeing large numbers of new cases developing as the economies open up. I do expect to see real stress on our healthcare system in many places across the country.

HAYES: Finally, I guess what -- the question of where is doing this, right. I mean, we`ve pointed to South Korea before, we pointed to Singapore which has now had to kind of go into a second lockdown. Today, Italy has started to relax some of the most stringent lockdowns anywhere in the world. Is there a model Germany and other place, a model for what you see as a place that`s gone through a very bad outbreak, right -- South Korea was able to avoid that, so it`s sort of easier on the back end -- A model to replace has gone through a bad outbreak and is doing this in the right way?

JHA: Yes, so South Korea is -- did have that sort of bad outbreak in the beginning, but kind of jumped on it. I think -- when I think about the best model for the U.S., it`s probably Germany. They`ve had -- they`ve had to shut down, they`ve had modest social distancing, they`ve got a good testing infrastructure in place.

And people love pointing to New Zealand, but New Zealand is a small place, and it`s done a fabulous job, but it`s five million people. But Germany is a big complex country, 80 million folks. It`s a pretty good model for what we could and should be doing.

HAYES: All right, Dr. Ashish Jha, always great to talk to you, even under these circumstances. Thank you for making time tonight.

JHA: Thanks, Chris.

HAYES: Joining me now for more on the federal response is Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. She`s a Democrat of Texas whose state has partially reopened even though they continue seeing an increase in cases. She`s Chair of the Congressional Coronavirus Task Force.

And, Congresswoman, let`s start with your home state of Texas before we sort of moved to national politics. Are you concerned with the pace of both what the governor has laid out for reopening and also for the fact that cases are still growing in your state?

REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D-TX): Good evening, Chris. Thank you for having me. You know, my opening shot at all this is that we`ve been told that we`re in a war, and you don`t put up the white flag before you have finished the journey and won the war. I think that has been really the methodology of the United States. We`ve come together, we`ve unified. We did that after 9/11. It was a war in terror and we came together and we were united. And we didn`t stop until we came to a victory point.

And so my concern, of course, is that we`re not at that point. We`re not at that point with 50 states, we`re not at that point with some states. And the day that the order was issued, was the day that we had the largest number of cases in Texas. Right now, in my own community, combined with the city and the county, there are about 7,000 cases and over 100 deaths.

We`re not where we need to be. And this kind of piecemeal approach, I believe, is not effective, because infections are still occurring, people are still sick. And when I say, they`re sick enough to be in hospitals. And testing is not where it needs to be.

The way you stop this in terms of our current knowledge is massive testing, testing in vulnerable communities, recognizing that Latinos and African Americans are most vulnerable, making sure that you`re in all the neighborhoods across the nation, making sure you`re testing in rural communities.

We`re absolutely not there. I think we put up the white flag. And I also believe that most Americans will take lives over the economy.

HAYES: The White House has essentially -- I mean, they released these guidelines from the CDC which states are now violating at the sort of urging and cheering of the President himself. The Congress passed a kind of interim bill with some aid for hospitals as well as more money for the Payroll Protection Program. What do you see is your role in the House Democratic caucus in governing the country right now as the -- as the President particularly is sort of essentially thrown up his hands and said, go do your thing, we`ll see what happens?

LEE: I think the country is looking for chief comforter in place, a chief leader in place, a problem solver, and that`s what the Democratic Congress has been. We have been the conscience of this Congress as relates to COVID- 19.

Every response that has been needed to save people`s lives and their economic condition has been put forward by Democrats from the PPP, to the ideal loans, to the massive testing dollars, $25 billion to the continued support for our hospitals, to in particular with the Congressional Black Caucus talking about contact tracing, and as well data collection.

We could not get a sum of data to know totally how many African Americans have died, how many Latinos, how many other Americans have died so that we can know where the hotspots are, or what we should do to assist in bringing down those numbers. So, the Democratic caucus in the monies that we`ve expanded, we`ve given a lifeline with the cash disbursement that has been so very helpful.

We`ve tried to step-in in education and healthcare, in the economy aspect or the economic aspect of families, childcare. We`ve tried to step-in. We`ve tried to be a comforter, and we`ve been successful in terms of telling people, they`re not alone. And we`ve also tried to battle on this - - on this war game and tried to win it.

We`re trying to win. We`re not trying to leave Americans empty-handed and fighting this by themselves. And that`s what we`re fighting against when we fight Republicans in Congress who don`t want to pass legislation now that will help out states in terms of providing for revenue loss. That`s a big issue. What do they want, firefighters to not work, or teachers not to work? We`re fighting this because we are the chief comforters in place.

HAYES: All right, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Democrat from the great state of Texas. Thank you for making some time this evening, Congresswoman.

LEE: Thank you for having me.

HAYES: Coming up, can small businesses survive this moment? What their loss could do to the land escape of the American economy? After this.


HAYES: All right, so remember the idea behind fighting the -- fighting the virus by sheltering in place and shutting out a huge portion of the economy was that it was sort of what we had left as an available alternative and that we had to do it despite the destruction and then the government would be here to keep this afloat until we came out the other side. That was the theory. It`s not playing out that way. Millions of small businesses, for millions of them, the system is failing.

In the Atlantic today, Annie Lowrey writes that the bridge to the post- pandemic world is collapsing. "The great small business die-off is here, and it will change the landscape of American commerce, arguing slower growth and less innovation in the future."

I`m joined now by Annie Lowrey, staff writer at the Atlantic who focuses on economic policy. Let`s start, Annie, on where things stand right now in terms of small businesses in America. What is not working, what is actually happening to them in this moment?

ANNIE LOWREY, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: So, depending on what kind of small business we are talking about, they`re largely shut down. So we are showing -- we have data showing that something like 30, 40, in some cases, 50 percent of small businesses have had catastrophic declines in their revenue and their income. In some cases, even higher than that. And that they by and large have not been able to receive it federal funding, or at least many of them yet.

So the government thus far has made two large rounds of PPP loans, about 1.6 million loans went out in the first round. We`re up to 2 million loans in the second. That`s a huge number. But still, most small businesses have not been able to access this help. And that`s left with nothing while these shutdowns have continued.

HAYES: So that just to me -- I want to just stop and pause on that question for a second. I mean, the policy idea behind PPP I think is perfectly sound. It`s being used in other places. And the biggest problem with it right now is just scale. Like there are many, many, many, many more small businesses then there are available loan dollars, and therefore the math here is very straightforward, a lot of people are left out and now they are basically dying is the story.

LOWREY: Yes, absolutely. So this is an enormous program that got set up very, very quickly by the Treasury and Congress and is being run through the Small Business Administration. It`s relying on our existing banking infrastructure to get this money out. And despite how big it is, right, we`re talking near more than half a trillion dollars at this point, the shutdown is so enormous and so many businesses are affected that it still isn`t big enough.

So right now, we have, you know, $680 billion or so appropriated for this, but the estimates are indicating that businesses will need something like $1 trillion. And the longer that the shutdown goes on, the more businesses will need this money and the more money that they will need, especially since we have obligated to them to use 75 percent of it on payroll, which means that a lot of them have other expenses that will continue that they won`t be able to use this money to cover.

And so again, as this goes on longer and longer, the gap is bigger and bigger. And we`re finding it that it`s smaller businesses, weaker business, newer businesses, and probably disproportionately minority-owned businesses that are not going to make it to the other side.

HAYES: So what does that mean? I mean, I think the disaster scenario that people think about right, is the idea was the government would be there to sort of support people through this essentially, like medically induced coma for the economy, and then revived and the business wake up and they would be there.

If they don`t make it, like what -- you have this shock to the system, this temporary disruption that then becomes a permanent structural feature of the American economy. What does that mean for the economy that we have on the other side?

LOWREY: I think that there are at least three things that we are worried about that are happening as this small business die-off is taking place. So, the first is that this is going to make the recession much worse, because businesses will close and they will lay off those workers. And those workers will have less money to spend in their local community which will make their local recessions worse.

And this is one way in which you`re going to get that snowballing effect in which there will be less and less spending in the economy, and so it will make the recession, so we won`t have a sharp bounce back, right? Instead, we`ll have a long recession and a slow recovery, which is what we saw in the Great Recession. So that`s, that`s the first thing.

The second is that it will tilt the landscape of American business towards large businesses, those with more financial resources, and away from small businesses. And so that`s not going to be good. In a lot of ways, that`s going to mean that places are going to lose character, they`re going to lose ingenuity, they`re going to lose a lot of the businesses that we love the most. So you`re going to have more big box stores and less mom and pop grocery type things.

And then the third thing is that we know that that is going to have a pretty profound effect in terms of suppressing wages. Meaning, less productivity and innovation and less job creation in the future. This has profound macroeconomic effects, and it`s not going to be good for the whole of the economy as we look five or 10 years down the road.

HAYES: There`s something really dystopian about the fact that we have seen trends towards consolidation and concentration of the American economy in the last five or 10 years, even longer than that. We`ve seen a decline in like new business starts and things like that. And now we have this accelerating as you know, in the piece like -- and you could end up with just a real sort of rain of massive dominant entities. Amazon, obviously coming to mind as people are using that for a lot of retail needs that they can`t get in person. That could really change the landscape of what our economy is on the other side of this.

LOWREY: Absolutely. And big businesses, when we are getting to the other side and the economy is starting to heal, they are going to be accessing cheap cash from the financial markets, thanks to the Fed, and thanks to other central banks around the world. And they`re going to be in a pretty dominant position to consolidate with one another to move into these spaces more aggressively. This was what we saw happen after the Great Recession. And there`s a suggestion that this is going to happen on an even grander scale this time.

And so, you know, some small businesses are going to make it through, and the ones that have access PPP money are going to face the question of whether it`s enough. And so -- but broadly, we`re looking at a circumstance in which the entire landscape of American commerce is going to tilt towards the big, the wealthy, those businesses that were already doing well, and that doesn`t mean great things for American entrepreneurship.

HAYES: All right, Annie Lowrey, it was a great piece. Thank you for making some time tonight. Coming up, COVID-19 continues to ravage nursing homes, but that can be prevented. Next, I`ll talk to the owner of an assisted living facility who has gone to extraordinary lengths to protect the lives of his residents and his staff. And his story is after this.


HAYES: All right, listen to the statistic. People living in long-term care facilities like nursing homes, make up about 0.6 percent of the entire U.S. population. Right now, they account for almost 28 percent of the nation`s coronavirus deaths. The disease is just ravaging nursing home around the country. And here`s the thing, it does not have to be like this. We could protect this vulnerable populations. One assisted living facility in Connecticut has come up with an innovative solution on how to do it.

Joining me now to talk about is Tyson Belanger, he`s the owner and director of Shady Oaks, an assisted living facility in Bristol, Connecticut. He wrote a "New York Times" op-ed titled, "The Coronavirus Is Killing Too Many Nursing Home Residents", detailing what his facility is doing to help fix this problem. Tyson, I wanted to start with a little bit of your story of how you came to be running this facility. I know you went to college, you did three tours in Iraq, if I`m not mistaken. How did you end up overseeing this facility?

TYSON BELANGER, SHADY OAKS ASSISTED LIVING FACILITY, OWNER & DIRECTOR: Well my parents got into senior care back in 1969, and they build Shady Oaks in about 1976. We were the second assisted living in all of Connecticut. Both my grandmothers lived here and my mom might soon need our care.

HAYES: And so you took over this facility --

BELANGER: Yes, as I got through college, you know, I went to Yale. I studied international relations. I`ve always had a strong sense of service that I`ve learned from my parents. I admire my parents, I love my parents. And I thought what they did was wonderful here. And my sense of service brought me to the marines.

So after I graduated Yale, I joined the marines. I served five deployments overseas, three tours in Iraq as an in infantry officer. What I was done there -- the thing that I felt really compelled to do was to try to research what went wrong. And so I went -- I got lucky, I got into Harvard and I finished a PhD there in 2014.

Right about that time, that`s when my parents` health began to decline. And where there`s this question -- with Shady Oaks. So I picked it up, I bought it and moved next door and I`ve been here for about four years now. I never thought I`d be back on the front line.

HAYES: You are back on the front lines, you are now running this facility amidst this pandemic. Tell us generally what you have chosen to do here to attempt to protect both the staff and the residents in your facility?

BELANGER: So, we`ve been watching the news out of Wuhan, you know, in January. In February, the alarm really went up for me in seeing it spread to Italy, South Korea and the Middle East. That was when we knew, you know, this is -- this might be coming our way.

Kirkland -- And what happened in the Life Care Center in Kirkland, Washington, I followed that very closely, it was crushing. And I -- my heart goes out to the families and the staff who went through that. That was all alarms like the -- you know, that we got ready to go.

We started buying equipment, buying the, you know, protective equipment. And in early March, we began having checkpoints to screen our staff. We shut down for visitors. What I did in those first few days isolate. I went -- and I tried to do it myself like deciding, OK, who could come in and who couldn`t come in.

And while I`ve been reading these articles, there`s this thing that people have been talking about, the asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic transmissions, and I got really frustrated and I just felt like it just wasn`t going to work. Out in Iraq, if we had that odds, those probabilities of someone who would get into a checkpoint with a weapon, we would be pretty upset. And so I was upset here, just the same thing.

I was up late, late nights that early March. I would wake up with sweats in the middle of the night. And my brain was just trying to, you know, come up with something. I (INAUDIBLE) had the idea of, hey, we all need to move in. And at that point, it was a little bit ahead of where most people were, and it wasn`t easy. I moved out of the house next door, which is where I`ve been living. I bought five trailers. I`m -- now I sleep in my office. I gave my house to my aids, and favors go to our nurses and our cook. And this is what we do, this is what we did.

On March 22nd, 17 staff members and I committed to living here for up to two months. It`s actually now been stretched. We`re looking to do until June 1st. The whole idea is that by not commuting, we wouldn`t be bringing COVID-19 back into our home. We wouldn`t be bringing it into asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic transmission.

And we went from families to visitors, health care people, all kinds of people coming in and out of our home, down to 48 staff members who are commuting, then down to zero. Zero people coming in and out of our home. And the result is we have a safe place to live and work right now.

And this idea, I didn`t know for sure that it would work, but it succeeded. We feel safe. And so what I`ve been trying to do is to share the idea. I don`t know exactly how it would apply in every home, every home has going to have to figure it out for themselves. The one thing I do know is that we need government and charitable assistance so that senior homes are going to be able to afford to offer the right kind of incentives for staff to be able to do this.

It`s really hardship work. Our staff is working 60 hours to 80 hours a week, and they can`t be with their families during a time of crisis. And if we make it to June 1st, which I`m thinking that we will, it`ll be 10 weeks, 10 weeks away.

Now as Marines, we sort of sign up now knowing that that`s what we`re going to do. But it`s a whole another thing to ask healthcare workers to do it, and they`ve done it. They`ve done it. They`re really heroes. They really deserve all the praise and -- for their heroic work that they`re doing and keeping our home safe.

Chris, I`m just grateful for the opportunity to share this idea. I hope people give this serious consideration. I don`t want to be called the hero. I want us to be called a pilot project. I want us to be called look at what they did. Can we see about doing it over here or over there?

At New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, we`ve been hit pretty hard. The rest of the country might be hit hard soon. We need to share the ideas of what worked in our states so that all Americans can benefit, so that all residents and all caregivers have an opportunity to bubble up.

HAYES: And I should know, Tyson, that you are paying a tremendous amount of hazard pay to that staff that is working so hard that`s living on site. And part of the point that you make in the op-ed is that in order to afford this, this model would need federal assistance but it is something that we should be looking to do as a society, not just individual pilot program.

Thank you for sharing your story tonight, Tyson. It`s really an incredible story and inspiring and I hope you, your staff, your residents all keep safe.

BELANGER: Chris, thank you.

HAYES: All right. Still ahead, the fringe theory about where the coronavirus originated and why the Trump administration likes it so much whether it`s true or not. What we do and don`t know after this.


HAYES: At least two separate things are true about the Chinese government and the coronavirus. One is that the Chinese government really did fail in the early parts of the outbreak quite catastrophically.

Often professor at UNC, Chapel Hill, Zeynep Tufekci suggests it may have been like what happened in the Soviet Union with Chernobyl where the truth goes, does not get up the chain to the leaders because of the fear of passing along bad news and a refusal to believe the worst. "Hubei authorities may have lied, not just to the public but also upward, to the central government."

The second thing that`s true is the Trump administration clearly in the Crassus most obvious way, wants to turn this crisis into a kind of rhetorical hammer they can wield against China in order to obscure their own Chinese government like failings by blaming someone else. Now, something you probably have heard from certain corner of the right is this theory that the coronavirus, quote, escaped from the lab.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: It looks like there is evidence that this virus escaped from the lab.

GORDON CHANG, ASIA ANALYST: This notion that this escape from a lab actually I think is supported by the vast majority of the science that we see out there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Circumstantial evidence is now surfacing in the intelligence community that the coronavirus COVID-19, the SARS-CoV-2 virus did escape from the Wuhan lab.


HAYES: Now, a lot of people on the right love that phrase "escape from the lab" because it sounds like something from Marvel movie or comic book. It sounds like they are talking about a man made virus that China was weaponizing that got out of control. Which is what Secretary of State, the Secretary of the United States, Mike Pompeo, seemed to imply over the weekend and then had to immediately walk back.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you believe it was manmade or genetically modified?

MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: But the best experts so far seemed to think it was manmade. I have no reason to disbelieve that at this point.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your office of the DNI says the consensus, the scientific consensus was not manmade or genetically modified.

POMPEO: That`s right. I agree with that. Yes, I`ve seen their analysis. I`ve seen the summary that you saw that was released publicly. I have no reason to doubt that that is accurate.


HAYES: Now, I`m going to chalk that up to some sort of connection failure there but it didn`t seem like Secretary of State said, yes, it`s manmade and then a second later saying, yes, that`s correct, it`s not manmade.

And to be clear, when they say, escape from the lab, it doesn`t mean a manmade bio weapon that got out, OK? Both scientists and the U.S. intelligence community agree that this coronavirus was not manmade, that is not a possibility. It came from a natural source. It didn`t come from the lab. People looked at the genes. The transmission was likely from animal to human.

Even Dr. Anthony Fauci, remember, the president`s Coronavirus Task Force, said there is no scientific evidence that coronavirus was made in a Chinese lab. Now, we still do not exactly know how it made its way to humans, but that is not part of Trump TVs escaped from the lab theory. What they`re talking about is Chinese scientists, public health officials, virologist at a virology lab hard at work to prepare their country and the world for the possibility of a novel coronavirus. Studying one, maybe that came from bats or another animal and then in the process of studying it, somehow tragically contracting the virus unbeknownst them and then spreading it.

Now, I can tell you right now, there`s no evidence of this. Certainly no concrete evidence. If it were true that this Wuhan virology lab was studying this and then someone got infected and they infected everyone else, it would be heartbreakingly tragic but also weirdly exculpatory for the Chinese government.

And here`s why. Because one of the early more plausible theories to emerge, I think there`s more evidence for it, was that the wildlife wet market in Wuhan was where the virus first made its species jump from an animal and human. And here`s the thing, wildlife wet markets are generally places for all kinds of fairly exotic, live animals are stored in very close quarters and then slaughtered on site. And it would not be the first time that this happened.

What marches such as these have been implicated in previous outbreaks of coronaviruses including the SARS outbreak. And public health authorities within China and outside of China has been for a long time railing against wildlife wet markets as essentially global biohazards. But the Chinese government has really refused to shut them down permanently.

And that more likely is the theory that makes the Chinese government look worse. Like the theory that it came out of one of its wet markets is the one that makes the Chinese government look like they really screwed up. Because it means the Chinese government defied public health concerns, urgings of their own public health folks in China, and they kept those markets open and unleashed a global pandemic. And if that`s true, I think that`s the far more insidious version.

While the escape from a lab theory is a story of scientists, hard at work, trying to save the world from a global pandemic, and then tragically managing to release it. It`s a kind of benign but tragic story. But here`s the thing. None of the facts matter here because they like that phrase "escaped from the lab" so much in China and so the Trump administration is so desperately grasping at straws trying to find someone to blame. They don`t even seem to understand what they themselves are saying. They just want a convenient scapegoat.


HAYES: Three months into the coronavirus pandemic, there`s still so much we don`t know. Why is the virus hit some places harder than others, even when they seem to be right next to each other geographically or have similar policies? Is it because countries with younger populations tend to fair better? But then if that`s the case, then how do you explain to Japan with the world`s oldest average population has recorded somehow just over 500 deaths?

Also, why do some people get so, so much sicker than others? And exactly how contagious is the virus, like how does it spread in what conditions? This most recent piece of "The Atlantic" Ed Yong writes, "The confusion partly arises from the pandemic`s scale and pace. Worldwide, at least 3.1 million people have been infected in less than four months. But beyond its vast scope, and sui generous nature, there are other reasons the pandemic continues to be so befuddling."

And Ed Yong joins me now. And I really I really like this piece because you were sort of grappling with the uncertainty that`s inherent all this which is something that I think we are grapple with as well. I get people constantly asking me a question, even over text message as like someone who spends a lot of time and it`s like, can you get it this way? Or does -- what about this? And the answer so often is we don`t really know. There`s some data that indicates yes, there`s others that indicate no, like why has this been so befuddling?

ED YONG, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: Partly it`s just that it`s so new. This virus was never encountered before by humans until only a few months ago. So we`re struggling to make sense of something that we`ve never seen before. And that is already causing such massive upheaval that is spread around the entire world. It has really shaken our entire lives. And that makes it very difficult to understand what is going on.

Plus, it`s really the only story that anyone`s talking about right now. And even though it`s not the science itself, isn`t actually changing that quickly. It feels like it is because we`re talking about every incremental new discovery as if it was some massive game changer. And we ourselves are constantly seeking out new information.

HAYES: That point about the sort of the coverage of the science, I think is a really key one. And I think there`s a little bit of a tension between the imperatives of journalism as a sort of technique, a means of learning about the world and science. I mean, science is, you know, this sort of competitive process, collaborative and competitive. People are trying to go out and find bits of information, but it takes a long time for replication and falsification.

And the picture slowly emerges in a kind of, you know, deliberate means, whereas we, as journalists, like new study says that, you know, you can get it off a UPS box, and it`s like, well, right. There is one study that does that, but we don`t. So it`s very hard to kind of figure out the gap between what we do as journalists in reporting on a study that says x, which it did, and what like the science actually says.

YONG: Absolutely. I think we get this idea from press reports that science is a steady stream of very definitive discoveries, each of which is very certain, which radically changes the bigger picture. Whereas in fact, I`ve described in my piece that it`s just this very uncertain, unsteady and erratic march towards gradually less uncertainty. And that`s what we`re seeing right now. We are seeing studies slowly refining our view of this virus and the disease it causes.

But because we`re getting these stuttering snapshots of what is happening, it looks like a jarring process where people can`t make up their minds. In fact, most of the experts I`ve spoken to, would argue that the picture is slowly -- is changing only quite slowly. And so there`s something about our rapid consumption of the news and the rapid pace of which that news is progressing. That creates this very jarring and unsettling picture of the scientific process that isn`t true to what is actually being seen on the ground by researches.

HAYES: Part of what has been a kind of intellectual puzzle for folks and particularly, you know, people that follow this closely and it has been for me, it`s just the - is this question that was in "New York Times" today about like the randomness or why some places seem to be doing better than others. We have a current cut, there`s policy reasons, there`s age demographic reasons. But even in places with abysmal record keeping and broken health systems, mass burials, or hospitals turning away sick people by the thousands would be hard to miss, and a number of places are just not seeing them, at least not yet, we don`t know the answers yet. I mean, we want there to be some neat clear thing that we know that specifically tells you why country A does poorly and country B does well, but it does seem like there is a fair amount that`s unanswered about that.

YONG: There is a lot that`s unanswered. So the virus itself seems consistent around the world but the disease it causes COVID-19 will vary depending on the people whom the virus infects, the societies those people live in. So you would expect a huge amount of variation. And when you have a pandemic, this widespread and this fast, you`ll also expect a lot of just randomness.

So a lot of the reasons why same places have badly hit and others are not might just due to random factors that we can`t measure and that we don`t really appreciate. And like you say, this goes against our desire for easy narrative. So I write in my piece that the virus, we really want easy narratives, but this pandemic offers none. It is just so big that it befuddles our desire for really clean answers. And those answers may come, the researchers providing them.

But in our day to day quest for those answers, we lead ourselves into dark corners and open ourselves up for misinformation to seep in. I would perhaps argue that maybe we should slow down in our consumption of what is going on out there.

HAYES: Right.

Ed Yong, who wrote a great piece and put on a very, very smart blazer and tie in quarantine tonight, which I appreciate. Thank you, Ed.

YONG: Thank you.

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

Good evening, Rachel.