STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I missed that show. Thanks for being with us. And don`t go anywhere because "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes is up next.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. There are two things I want you to keep in mind before I show you what happened in the Rose Garden today. The first is that despite some encouraging signs, we`re nowhere near the end of our fight against the virus. I mean, that`s clear. We are now above 81,000 coronavirus fatalities, a sort of incomprehensible number. The awful numbers just keep going up.
The second thing to keep in mind is the Trump ministration itself is struggling to contain an outbreak. In just the past week at the White House, at least three separate people have tested positive. And so today Donald Trump appeared in the Rose Garden in front of a building that is currently dealing with an outbreak to suggest we are experiencing a mission accomplished type moment.
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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In every generation, through every challenge and hardship and danger, America has risen to the task. We have met the moment and we have prevailed.
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HAYES: The President later claimed he meant America has prevailed on testing, which is not true. It is true that testing capacity has increased considerably in the U.S. But as the Atlantic pointed out Friday, the country faces the same problem today it did two months ago. There are still not enough tests to contain the virus.
With the presidential election looming, the White House is trying to convince the American people they can have confidence as they begin to go back out into the public square, as one senior White House official told Axios. And the big part of that is trying to convince Americans most of whom know better that we do in fact have enough casting.
By the way, when reporters press Trump on his testing claims today, he abruptly ended the press conference, walking away from his own mission accomplished speech. The president wants you to act like a warrior. He said this, he`s used this metaphor, his allies have used this metaphor, to rush out into public, to risk exposure to the virus. But even his own economic adviser, the one who works in the White House is literally scared to follow that advice.
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KEVIN HASSETT, ECONOMIC ADVISER, WHITE HOUSE: It is scary to go to work. You know, I was not part of the White House in March. I think that I`d be a lot safer if I was at home than I would be going to the West Wing. But I think everybody knows that if they go into work --you`ve been in the West Wing. You know, it`s a small crowded place. It`s you know, it`s a little bit risky. But you have to do it because you have to serve your country.
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HAYES: Things may be very bad at the White House according to the New York Times. Some senior officials believe the disease has already spreading rapidly through the warn of cramped offices that make up the three floors of the West Wing. Because of the outbreak, three top health officials are now under quarantine, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, CDC Director Robert Redfield, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is entering what he is calling a modified quarantine.
Part of the problem might be that people in the White House have been pretty cavalier about wearing masks, you might have noticed. That`s thanks in large part to Trump. One White House employee telling the Washington Post "the President sees it as a sign of weakness to wear masks, and so people just haven`t been doing it."
Here`s Trump not wearing a mask last week during a visit to a mask factory. I think he later claimed that he was wearing a mask and you just didn`t see it. Here`s Vice President Pence going maskless while at the Mayo Clinic, in violation as you might know, since everyone else is wearing mass of Mayo Clinic policy. And here`s pence spokesperson Katie Miller, who like other officials did not regularly wear a mask while at work. Katie Miller, of course, is one of the White House officials who tested positive for the virus.
Over the weekend, Trump held a White House meeting with military leaders and members of his national security team. None of them wore masks. Not present for that nice meeting, I should note, National Guard General Joseph Lengyel who did not attend because well, he tested positive right before the meeting while he was at the White House.
We learned today the White House had wanted Trump to visit a Pennsylvania factory that produces PPE, but factory officials has asked to postpone in part because they were worried his visit would jeopardize the safety of the workers. This afternoon, finally, the White House management office sent White House staffers a memo requiring them to wear a mask or facial covering in the West Wing.
It`s probably a good idea they did. I mean, it`s basically inevitable, right, that all workplaces in close quarters will have to deal with this. Any packed indoor space is going to have the virus at its doorstep, whether it`s a prison, or a meatpacking plant, or long-term care facility, or a random call center in South Korea. The one difference with the White House is that unlike pretty much anywhere else in the United States, they`re at least, they are testing constantly.
And even with that, even with the constant tests, even with the president, the germaphobe President said that you don`t want to get sick, they`re having a hard time getting the virus under control. Think about that.
This morning, Trump tweeted the Democrats are moving slowly to reopen all over the U.S. for political purposes. They would wait until November 3rd if it were up to them. This is the real fundamental problem. That`s been the fundamental problem from the beginning. It`s the fundamental problem that we saw in the impeachment, but it`s the fundamental problem now.
He can only understand the virus as part of some grand conspiracy to stop him from getting a second term. That`s the only way he can see it as opposed to what it is, an inanimate, unthinking micro-organism that follows the pathways that pathogens do. It`s not sentient, it doesn`t care about politics, it`s not trying to bring Trump down. What is happening in this country in the fight against the virus is not about him.
Joining me now for more on what we needed to do to safely open the country and what Congress is planning to help Americans get through this, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California. Speaker, I really appreciate you taking time tonight. I wanted to ask you first about the metaphor the President has been using and his representatives has been using, that American people, whether they`re residents in nursing care facilities or their meatpackers or the grocery workers need to think of themselves as soldiers, as warriors who are doing battle against the virus and some might die, but that`s just the price that has to be paid for liberty. What do you think of that metaphor?
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): I don`t think much about some of the things that the president says. But I do think we have to set some of that aside and say what we really can do to open up our economy. We can do that through what you have been talking about testing, testing, testing.
So what the democrats are here to do is to put forth a plan, a plan with a goal, a plan with milestones a timeline, a plan with -- that is unifying, built on some of the initiatives we`ve had in past coronavirus legislation. We passed four bipartisan bills. But this is -- we have three pillars. One, let us open up the economy by testing. And that means testing everyone, tracing, and having the treatment as well as the isolation that may be necessary or God willing, we get a virus -- excuse me -- a vaccine or a therapy soon, and that would be helpful to open up.
But in the meantime, we have to know the caliber of the problem. They don`t even know the caliber of the problem in the White House. We have to know what it is in the nation. And we have to know how it addresses -- it attacks with communities of color in such a bad way.
Secondly, we have to have -- we have to honor those who are on the front line. Those who are heroes, our health care workers, our first responders, our transit workers, food-trash pickup, teachers, teachers, all of those who have some exposure here. We want to honor them, so that we`re worthy of their sacrifice and we`re doing so in a big way, by attributing large resources for state and local government.
And then we have to put money in the pockets of the American people recognizing the pain, the agony that they are feeling. To those who would suggest a pause or say the hunger doesn`t take a pause, the rent doesn`t take a pause, the hardship doesn`t take a pause. As we see families losing, you said over 80,000, that`s unimaginable, and then so many infected and then so many on unemployment.
So we have a big need, it`s monumental, and therefore it`s a great opportunity to say, let`s work together to get this done. There`s a way to open the economy based on science, testing, testing, testing, and let`s get on with it. That`s what we`re here to do.
HAYES: So those bullet points that you just offered, some of the planks of the legislation that it`s been widely reported that you`re in conversation --
PELOSI: That`s right. They`re the pillars.
HAYES: Right. So the pillars are some sort of national program for testing and contact tracing, some kind of national program for both aid to states for their fiscal holes as well, as I understand it, some kind of hazard pay, actually statutorily mandated hazard pay for frontline workers. Am I understanding that right or is it that -- is it just funding for states who can then pay those workers?
PELOSI: Let me just say -- this just might take issue. They`re not talking points. These are the pillars of our plan to go forward to make our own environment in a way that is again, unifying and respectful of those who are sacrificing their lives, as well as those who are feeling so much pain through all of this. This is what they need. This is meeting the needs of the American people.
Among the provisions are yes, there`s a state and local government to address the outlays that they have made in fighting the coronavirus as well as the revenue that they have lost because of the coronavirus. And that goes all the way down to small -- from states to small towns and it is a result of how our members have brought back the concerns of their constituents. And I think that we`ll have broad support among governors, and mayors, Democrats and Republicans alike.
Yes, there is an interest in doing hazard pay for those who are on the front line. And it is mandatory so much as it is an imperative to do so, and that`s what we`re writing down now. So I`m excited about that. Chuck Schumer is too. That`s sort of his baby.
HAYES: So hazard pay for people on the front lines, I think there`s an obvious very compelling case for that, aid to states whose fiscal balance sheets are going to be destroyed, whether they`re red states or blue states or red towns or blue towns, I think that`s very clear. Some extended aid in the form of cash payments or unemployment or both?
PELOSI: No, both. We have the unemployment insurance, but we also have the direct payments, both of which we`ve had in previous legislation. The unemployment insurance which you`re seeing record-breaking unemployment rates and so many people signing up for it, it breaks your heart. But we have the unemployment insurance that will be renewed in this legislation, as well as cash payments, the direct pay payments, people are craving that.
I guess what advantage we have, sad as it is, is that people see what is happening, even though they`re working from home but listening to their constituents. There`s a lot of pain and heartache. People don`t know if they`re going to be able to put food on the table. Moms have said, and Brookings Institution put this out last week, that one in five children is food insecure, and (AUDIO GAP) next meal is coming from, if they`re going to be able to pay the rent.
This is very, very personal, and we want to addressed the personal concerns in a way that is monumental because the monumental -- it is a big -- we`ve never seen anything like it. And we have to be brave, get up there, just make the case. This is the plan. These are the resources. This is how we want to do this. And as we do it, we want to be worthy of those who lost their lives, worthy of those who are fighting for other people`s lives. And we plan to do that as much a bipartisan way as possible.
HAYE: So in the previous -- well, that was just what I was going to ask you, because obviously in the previous legislation, there were -- there were tough negotiations that happened in a kind of triangular fashion. It was Steve Mnuchin sort of doing the negotiations for the White House. Obviously, Mitch McConnell in the Senate. You and Chuck Schumer working together and working through that.
In this case, my understanding is the message has been sent from the Republican caucus, from Mitch McConnell, from the White House, like basically we`re done here. There was this headline today which gave me a chuckle in Bloomberg that the GOP rekindles deficit concerns adding snagged who talks on aid.
Is it your sense that there`s -- like, what is your read of the posture of the White House and Senate Republicans towards additional legislative rescue relief like you`re proposing?
PELOSI: Well, it`s interesting to see what they`re saying becoming now renewing their fiscal hawk positions, hip that could barely remember. I have confidence in going big with what we do when I saw them give a $2 trillion addition to the national debt in order to give 83% of the benefits to the top one percent. That was so irresponsible in terms of did nothing for the economy, except cheap mountains of debt on our children.
So with this, what we`re saying is these are investments. All of these things are for the good of helping people in their personal lives, but they also are stimulus to the economy. Ask any -- well, almost any, I don`t know who they would draw up -- economists, they`ll tell you food stamps -- imagine that they`re against SNAP, against expanding the opportunity for people to have access to food stamps at a time where the papers are -- the news is full of families and long lines at food banks and we have to help those food banks as well.
So this is personal. It`s heartbreaking really. So I have confidence in the American people. They are -- America has a big heart, a heart full of love, and people care about each other. And I think when they see what we`re doing, and it will be big because the problem is big, and the needs are big of the American people, that there will be more attention paid to what the Republicans are saying or doing, and then a judgment can be made. But I`m optimistic always. I see everything as an opportunity. The bigger the challenge, the bigger the opportunity.
HAYES: Mitch McConnell has seemed to make some noise to attempt -- he had to walk back is his comment about states going bankrupt, but he assumed to make some attempt which is really remarkable to me, if I can editorialize for a moment, that Hill is going to die and the red line for him is some kind of blanket liability waiver for employers so that they are protected from civil action, from employees who may get sick due to the risks they take on working for them. What do you -- is that a non-starter for you or is that something you`re willing to talk about?
PELOSI: Well, let me just say this. The best protection for those employers is to support what we`re doing -- what to do in the bill with our OSHA regulation, and it calls for how you can open up and how you space in all the safety. Safety in the workplace is a very big issue in our country long before coronavirus.
And so if the employer takes those precautions, then he is protected from a suit because he has taken the protections that were necessary to protect the worker. That`s how he could protect himself. It`s unlikely that at a time of a coronavirus that we would say just be cavalier. We know it`s contagious the way it spreads, but you`re off the hook if anything happens, even if you do not comply with the OSHA regulation. So we want them to accept the expanded OSHA regulation and protect their workers.
And I think that most people are good people that they would want to do that. So we`ll have that discussion. But I think we have a common goal. We want people to go safely to work safely. The OSHA protection is your -- is your production, Mr. or Mrs. Employer.
HAYES: Final question for you. Obviously, you and Chuck Schumer, and others have worked very hard through a series of legislative packages that have been passed in sort of increasing scale and scope and urgency to deal with this. As you sort of are set to unveil this latest one, I`m curious what you think how good a job have you done?
Like, particularly when you look at the kind of comparison between PPP and what it`s done for small businesses and the rescue package for large corporations, which is being dealt with the Fed, which seems like it`s moving more quickly and more efficiently, like, do you think you have done a good enough job thus far collectively in the legislation that has been passed to address the needs of the American people?
PELOSI: I do indeed. I wish we had a more cooperation from the White House. But even with that, at first, we have passed four bills which are bipartisan. The first one on March 4th. It was called, testing, testing, testing. That`s how we identified it. March 14th, the next one for PPE, masks, mask, masks. The 28th the President signed the first CARES bill.
And we were very proud House and Senate Democrats to have turned that from a trickle-down -- corporate America first trickle-down bill, to putting workers first bubble up bill. It was a completely different from what the Republicans had proposed in the first place.
And then the interim bill, we started, right, working on the next care package -- CARES package, and then all of a sudden, this request came from the Secretary of the Treasury to do more for the PPP. And we took that opportunity under the leadership of Nydia Velazquez, the chairs small business committee, Maxine Waters, chair of the Financial Services Committee to say, so far, we haven`t seen this reach everyone in our communities. And so we put it, set aside in there.
Now, we haven`t -- we`re waiting to see the results of that. And that`s a concern that we have, because we want to make sure that it is gone to the community development financial institutions which have connection into the community, rather than just going to people have a bank relationship. This is for the underbanked community and the financial institutions that serve them.
So we`ve made a big difference every step of the way. The President said, when they asked the first bill, it was like 2.5, 2.8, we sent him 8.2. And the President said, I`ll take it. So again, our participation has been very strong. And why it`s important for us to put forth our bill now without as too much conversation with other people is we`re just springing from the needs of the American people and the capacity of us to stop the virus by testing, testing, testing, praise and honor those who are on the front line, and help the people who are suffering. And we did that right before CARES Two.
We put forth our responsibility bill to take responsibility. And that largely is what reshaped cares one. So yes, I think we`ve done very well. But you know, we want them to agree on science and we can`t seem to get them to cross that threshold. Science, Science, Science, answer to so many challenges. But if you don`t believe in science, and you don`t believe in governance, then you can just say let`s pause.
There`s no evidence that will convince me because they don`t believe in science, and they don`t believe in governance. We don`t want any more government than we need. But right now, we need weighing in terms of resources and policies that will protect the American people as they go forward.
And rather than think of them as warriors, we think of them as family. And we`re all concerned about each one. And when somebody goes out there, they run the risk of taking something home. And that`s why I see the great wisdom of the American people to protect their own families as they try to accommodate that enormous challenge that we`re all facing now.
Let me just say one more thing. And that is, whatever we`re doing may seem big, it`s never going to be cheaper. The chairman of the Fed has said to us, interest rates are never lower than this. Go big. And those interest rates are propping up the stock market. We want them to prop up the American people as well.
HAYES: Well, that is true. They are propping up the stock market right now along with a lot of other things the Fed is doing. Speaker Nancy Pelosi who has been working overtime in the House, thank you so much for taking some time with us tonight. I really do appreciate it.
PELOSI: Thank you. My pleasure. Thank you. Thank you, Chris.
HAYES: Ahead, Senator Cory Booker on the attempts by the President`s allies to turn the conversation about reopening states and businesses into a culture war. Senator Booker joins me next.
HAYES: In front of mind, for all of us, as we head towards the summer, is what does American life look like while the pandemic is still out there as a threat? And we, for a variety of reasons just cannot continue an indefinite multiple, multiple months-long shelter in place, right? And that question is a hard one. I mean, we`ve covered it on the show night after night or night. There`s various competing policy imperatives and risk assessments and questions about what`s the best way to go forward. It`s complicated.
But it`s not or it shouldn`t be a culture war question of rhetoric, values and symbols. It`s not like a controversy over whether people should stand for the national anthem and what it means if they don`t. And yet that is the way that the President and Trump T.V. and his allies have been trying to portray it.
And so what we get are situations like the hair salon in Texas where the owner was sent to jail for keeping her business open, and she became a celebrated figure and then Senator Ted Cruz makes a show of going there to get his hair cut in solidarity. Or this completely wild scene in Colorado Mother`s Day, which I honestly didn`t believe when I first saw it, a restaurant packed with customers having breakfast.
Now, on the spectrum of risky behavior, this is really up there. I mean, close quarters, indoors, a whole ton of strangers, no masks in sight, and you might not be surprised to learn that the restaurant that opened this way tweeted on Saturday, "We are standing for America, small businesses, the Constitution and against the overreach of our governor in Colorado."
The problem for people waging this deranged and self-defeating culture war is that it remains the case that the overwhelming majority of people are not taking crazy risks and do not want to get sick. Thankfully, the big thing restraining commerce in this country is not the governors, it`s the virus.
We saw this before the lockdowns even started where restaurant activity plummeted before the restaurants were close, right. The Bold orange line on this graph shows that the median percent change in restaurant reservations from last year, and the dotted vertical line is when restaurants close. And you can see, it just starts plummeting days ahead of the lockdown orders. That people being like, maybe I`m going to skip a restaurant. They change their behavior before the government required them to.
And we`re seeing every -- we`re seeing a very similar pattern on the back end, right? This is the same year over year reservation data. It`s in Tennessee and Texas and Georgia, three states that have started reopening, although with all sorts of restrictions and conditions, particularly in Texas, you can only have 25 percent of the people there. But you can see that it`s not like people are racing back into restaurants. There`s not much of an uptick at all.
People are still choosing to stay home. They`re choosing to comport themselves as if there was a deadly pandemic raging, because most people do not by this cultural revision. They`re making sensible assessments to the risk while the President is trying to march the country into a situation where honestly, we could end up with the worst of both worlds, right? You have high risk events as some kind of symbolism like the Colorado restaurant that really do serve as places the virus can spread or super spread, but you also don`t have any actual sustained return economic normalcy.
For more on the manufactured coronavirus cultural, I`m joined now by Senator Cory Booker, Democrat of New Jersey. And Senator, you know, there are sort of different categories of policies that you encounter as a politician, right? There`s like -- there`s stuff that`s kind of technical and in the weeds and doesn`t feel like this kind of front level culture word stuff, and then there`s the intense things that people have very strong feelings about that seem to represent their values or their backgrounds. And it does seem to me like this actually, this question should be in the former category, and there are people trying to put it in the latter category. And how do you understand this problem we all collectively face?
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ): Look, I just don`t think we`re as different as some of our politicians want to make us feel in this country. We all have a lot of concerns right now. As you said, most Americans want us to err on the side of public health and safety. But we also understand the urgency. Look, I know businesses up and down the state of New Jersey that are fearful.
They spent their lives building in the tourist towns of Cape May, and the small mom and pop restaurants in Bergen County, New Jersey. There`s an urgency to save those businesses. But this is about health, this is about science, this is about data.
It`s not about our opinion, it`s not about our politics, it`s about what is the best way to get this country back to business. Because if we open up too early, and we have a second wave, I`m telling you right now, it`s going to be more damning to our businesses, and to our economy, and on top of that, our health. So we`ve just got to stop this nonsense.
And Chris, this is what makes this being a moment that we have the most uniquely unqualified president in our history. At a time we want someone to give us like a fireside chat or to appeal malice towards -- charity towards all, at a time when we want to be called together to a common cause and common purpose, we have a president that is doubling down on demeaning and degrading and divisiveness, who is injuring the soul of our country, turning us against each other, tweeting out the most obnoxiously damaging imaginable tweets like liberate states.
This is not about his petty culture war, this is about the strength and health and well being of a nation.
HAYES: Well, part of it is strikes me is that he doesn`t -- I think he -- well, a fireside chat sounds nice and aspirational. I would just take like actually understanding of how communicable diseases work, which also seems to be absent in this case.
But it`s also the case that he really, I think, does view everything he really, I think, does view everything about the election and about him personally, and so I thought it was very revealing for him to tweet that governors are trying to keep their states closed like to screw me on my reelection, and I think it just doesn`t -- it is impossible for him to imagine that there are people trying to -- literally trying to just do the right thing here and protect public health and are not -- they`re just not thinking about that. There is no governor in America that is thinking one way or the other about Donald Trump`s reelection when they are thinking about their state.
BOOKER: Look, in a time when this administration is fighting transparency and oversight, the one thing that`s been utterly transparent from the beginning of this is that Donald Trump cares about himself. He tells us that fact. You know, he didn`t want to let people off of a cruise ship in the beginning because it would hurt the numbers and how he looks.
This is a guy that tweets out very transparently that everything is about him, what people say about him. Is this governor being nice to him? Are they plotting to get him?
This is -- sorry, this is not about him, this is about the greatest national crisis in generations and how we are 5 percent of the globe`s population, but because of a failure of leadership, we have roughly a third of the cases on the planet earth right now.
HAYES: Well, so then I guess my final question is this, right, so that -- we know that. We know that that`s the way the nature of the president and his character and the way he does the job or doesn`t do the job. Your colleagues in the senate, so there -- we were just talking to Speaker Pelosi, right, so there is this weird impasse right now, there have been these successive bipartisan pieces of legislation and there was -- you know, there was this kind of bipartisan policy tag team that you used to see 20 years ago a lot more on big bills. You know, here is an idea on how we can help small businesses, things like that. Your Republican colleagues have basically said like we`re done. We`re done. You guys figure it out. Get out there, you`re warriors, go back to work, go to the meat factory.
Do you think you have colleagues on the Republican side that are not on board with McConnell`s stance on this right now?
BOOKER: Yeah, look, that`s exactly -- you put it right. I am not going to let this crisis be defined by Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump, who in my opinion are failing in their leadership and their ability to drive the common, pull the country, pull the Senate together. There is so much bipartisan work going on. I`ve got a bill with Chuck Grassley for first responders. I`m working on a bipartisan bill onset setting up national service. There is so much room here to bring this country together.
So I just -- we cannot let him define this moment in American history. What should define this moment in American history is our moral imagination for who we are, our expanding circles of empathy for everybody from essential workers, that people once ignored or didn`t seem to care enough about to all the way to the people every day taking risks for our safety and our well being.
God, if we could expand circles of empathy and compassion, if we could have a larger moral vision for who we are as a country, we won`t just to get through this crisis together, but god, we could be a light unto the world for how to do it. That`s what we need right now.
And I know there is -- I have a faith in the universe and maybe there is going to be an election right smack in the middle of this, which will give America not to choose between left or right, but to begin to return to a moral compass that pushes us forward. And that`s really my whole -- I`m sorry, these two men that we just mention do not define this moment in American history, we the people will. Let us all stand together and show that our love for each other, our concern for each other, our willingness to adhere to science, but more importantly adhere to our hearts, let that be our guide and not the brutal divisiveness that we seem to be seeing at the highest echelons of power.
HAYES: OK, but can I ask a far less -- I find that all very compelling, but I have a more mundane follow up, which is basically, like -- basically is McConnell going to be able to hold the line here is the mundane sort of like inside the beltway question that is incredibly consequential for the country? Because it really matters whether he can -- he`s going to be able to sort of hold off Republicans and say like no, no more for any of you guys or whether you think that`s not a tenable position.
BOOKER: Let me give you a simple example, because I talked to my governor today. He -- New Jersey is not the only state that`s going to need state and local funding, there will be blue states and red states. In fact, Kentucky is going to be in bad shape.
So, McConnell has tried time and time again -- he brought two bills to the floor. We had a standoff, a stare down, and he blinked and we moved that bill to be better for the American people with testing and better unemployment insurance and the like.
So I just think that there is so much bipartisan pressure from governors who, by the way, I was an executive. You`re not that partisan, you just want to help things, people. I know there are some Republican governors out there that are making me scratch my bald head, but the reality is, there are people on both sides of the aisle right now that have urgencies and I really do believe that that`s my hope for getting another major package through the United States Senate.
HAYES: That`s a good answer and was sort of what I was going for. Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, thank you so much.
BOOKER: Thank you, man, appreciate you.
HAYES: The longest and most severe Coronavirus lock-down in the world, at least to date, has been in Wuhan, China, right, it was the home of the first big outbreak. It lasted more than 10 weeks. It was very, very strict. Much stricter than what we had here in the U.S. but we`re entering like week eight here in New York. And look, the lesson here is at a certain point, you cannot just keep people sheltered in place for an indefinite period of time, right?
So the question becomes, OK, well, then how do you slowly reemerge into the world cautiously and safely by understanding the spectrum of risk you face? And crucially learning how to distinguish between higher risk and lower risk activities, right?
In a great new piece in The Atlantic called "Quarantine Fatigue is Real," epidemiologist Julia Marcus writes in essence this is the harm reduction model which recognizes some people are going to take risks, whether public health expert the want them to or not, and instead of condemnation offers them strategies to reduce any potential harms.
And joining me now is the author of that piece, Julia Marcus, an infectious disease epidemiologist and assistant professor of population medicine at Harvard Medical School.
I really like the piece, doctor. Let me first, I guess, start with this which is how should we be thinking broadly about moving from a kind of like binary, you call it abstinence only, right, like we`re all going to be at home, you don`t leave your house, to a spectrum of risks so that we`re avoiding high risk situations and aren`t putting people in danger?
JULIA MARCUS, HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL: Yeah, I think what we really need is public health guidance that can give people a sense of that spectrum of risk. And if you think about it with the abstinence only analogy, if we don`t give people a sense of lower risk activities, they may have sex anyway and not know how to reduce their risk.
And so what we need here is a more nuanced approach to this that gives people a sense of what may be lower risk, but more sustainable in the long term.
HAYES: You talked about shame, which I thought was interesting, because shame has been a sort of interesting -- shame is an interesting tool of sort of social mobilization, and I sort of feel the same way, like I`m not really into shaming people doing the wrong thing mostly because I don`t like shaming people generally, but it also does seem like it is important thing that we`re doing here as we`re sort of communally establishing norms. And shame is one of the ways you establish norms, right, it`s one of the ways you say like what is and isn`t passable etiquette, what is an isn`t polite for doing something.
If you walk down the street like with no pants on, like that`s against the law but mostly, it`s just like a shameful thing that other people look badly at. And at some level you want to sort of create that for things like masks, like what is the role that you see for shame or not in this conversation?
MARCUS: Well, I`m an HIV prevention researcher. And we know from decades of HIV research that shaming people doesn`t necessarily have the effect that we want it to have. It may feel good in the moment, and it may give us a sense of control to shame somebody else`s behaviors, and it may make us angry to see someone doing something that we think is putting themselves and importantly, other people at risk.
But the reality is that when we shame individuals and their behaviors, what ends up happening is those behaviors get driven underground where we can`t address them at all, so it ends up backfiring in the end.
HAYES: So what are the big lessons here? I thought when you talk about things being driven underground, right? I mean, there are certain things that seem like we know these are super risky kinds of things like if you have a big like closely held house dance party with like a few hundred people in a small confined space, like that`s a really bad idea. But if you go and visit a few friends in a park and sit around each other, that`s probably much better.
Like, how do we think about telling people what they should probably be doing?
MARCUS: Ideally, we have public health guidance at a national level that would be giving us that sense of spectrum of risk. And so with that guidance, rather than having a house party, somebody might say, oh, you know what, I actually can gather with my friends, I should just do it outside, and I should wear a mask.
And at this point we have this kind of binary approach that`s either stay at home indefinitely or go back to business as usual, but risk is not binary. There is a lot in between there that we need to be communicating as health experts to the public. And right now we`re not really hearing that in a national level, so my hope is that state and local health departments are going to step in and fill that space.
HAYES: It does seem to me that outdoors, the outdoor/indoors binary is a fairly big one in terms of the way that we`re understanding risk of transmission here. There has been a lot of sort of writing by public health experts like let people go to parks, let people go outdoors, like people do need for mental health, for physical health, for social health, like people do need to get out of the house and everything that we -- the data we have on the virus suggestions that like in the spectrum of risk, outdoors is superior to indoors.
MARCUS: Absolutely. I mean, this is a new virus, so we`re still learning about it. But based on early studies of the epidemiology of this virus, it really seems like the highest risk settings are enclosed, crowded indoor settings where people have prolonged close contact with other people, and so outdoors in general is going to be much lower risk and then even within an outdoor settings, we can redesign our outdoor spaces to create more space, open up streets for people to have recreational activities where they can keep more distance from each other. There really are ways to restructure everything around us to promote physical distancing in a way that`s going to be sustainable in the long term.
HAYES: But the point you make is so crucial, which is that like we do need some guidance other than like cable news segments of people saying like look, these are spectrums of risks, this is how we can understand this framework and this is how we can keep people we love safe and our society safe while also not like completely losing our minds indoors indefinitely.
Julia Marcus, who wrote that great piece in The Atlantic that really kind of changed my thinking on this. Thanks for making time tonight.
MARCUS: Thanks so much for having me.
HAYES: Still ahead, contact tracing will be key to any sort of safe reopening, but really what would that entail? I`ll speak with an epidemiologist who is literally training people to do that task coming up.
HAYES: It has been clear since at least the wildly misleading summary of the Mueller report that was released by the attorney general, that William Barr is fundamentally a bad faith actor whose job is to further the president`s political fortunes and political project as opposed to any kind of independent dispensing of justice.
His DOJ decided to drop the criminal charges against former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. They also intervened to recommend a lighter sentence for a long-time Trump confidant Roger Stone who was convicted of obstructing congress, among other charges. Those actions led to two blistering op-eds from former Department of Justice employees calling out the actions of the attorney general.
The first, by Mary McCord who served as acting assistant attorney general for national security, that`s a very, very big deal and important job. And she had it after spending nearly 20 years as an assistant U.S. attorney.
And she was interviewed by the FBI about the counterintelligence investigation against Flynn. In a New York Times op-ed she slams the rationale for dismissing his charges writing, "the account of my interview in 2017 does not help the department support its conclusion. It is disingenuous for the department to twist my words to suggest that it does."
The second op ed is by Jonathan Kravis, who served as a federal prosecutor for 10 years and was on the Roger Stone prosecution team before resigning in protest over that downward reduction in his sentencing recommendation.
Kravis writes, "I believe the department`s handling of these matters is profoundly misguided and I am convinced the department`s conduct in the Stone and Flynn cases will do lasting damage to the institution."
He singles out William Barr in particular writing, "for the attorney general now to directly intervene to benefit the president`s associates makes this betrayal of the rule of law even more egregious."
This is all happening while a letter was just released, signed by nearly 2,000 former DOJ and FBI employees, calling for Barr`s resignation. And now, and this is something we`re keeping our eyes on amidst the COVID pandemic, there is growing noise on the right, among the president and his lackeys and cronies and cheerleaders, that they want to pursue criminal charges against the Obama administration. Think about that.
We`re going to talk about all of that tomorrow with former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Do not miss it.
HAYES: The U.S. and South Korea both recorded their first positive Coronavirus cases on the very same day, January 20. South Korea then had a very quick outbreak after that, which they, with incredible determination, suppressed with very aggressive testing and then contact tracing regime. They also had people going through the streets disinfecting them. You`ve seen the B-roll.
They test people. They find cases and they isolate them, and that has kept the death toll in South Korea just over, get this, 250. 250 total, while in the U.S. over the same period of time, we`ve lost more than 80,000. And it has allowed South Korea to reopen the country to the extent it`s really unimaginable here, including opening of places like nightclubs.
But now, it looks like South Korea is struggling with a second outbreak tied to a nightclub.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This morning, 4,000 clubs and bars in Seoul are closed. At testing sites, long lines as health workers try to track at least 5,500 people who went clubbing more than a week ago, and might be infected.
They say a 29-year-old man went to at least three nightclubs the night of May 1, wasn`t wearing a mask, and tested positive for COVID-19 last Wednesday.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That was an NBC report from South Korea, where they were trying to contact trace and identify thousands of people who may have been exposed to the virus, that undertaking puts into sharp relief just how operationally and logistically difficult this whole thing is. It makes you wonder if this is something we can actually pull off here in the United States.
Here with me now Dr. Emily Gurley, an epidemiologist of infectious disease at Johns Hopkins who leads their training in contact tracing. And Dr. Gurley, let me start with the logistical conundrum presented to the contact tracers of South Korea. If you were in their shoes, how should we think about what they`re trying to undertake right now?
DR. EMILY GURLEY, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY: Well, it`s a daunting effort, but they`re prepared. I mean they had quick testing, and contact tracing, on the ground, when they first had cases, and that`s why they`ve been able to control it so well.
But you know, as we all see, just because you`ve done that once, doesn`t mean that you can let up, the infrastructure still has to be there because the virus hasn`t gone away.
HAYES: I guess the question -- so there`s two issues here, right? One is that when you think about like some sort of like Godzilla battle of like nightclub versus contract tracing in the war against the virus, it does seem like nightclub is a pretty powerful foe that maybe like you can`t have nightclubs, that like no amount of powerful contract tracing is going to let you have a society until we have a vaccine where things like nightclubs can happen.
GURLEY: Well, I think that`s a question for, you know, each city, each society to determine, what risks are you willing to take for opening up which places. So it`s not, there`s no one good answer there. But at least they do have the contact tracing in place to try to figure this out.
HAYES: Talk me through, when you train contact tracers, the basic principles at play here, for, if you were say, doing contact tracing in Baltimore after the city had sort of -- had gotten the outbreak into a more manageable situation, you`re not doing mass mitigation, like what does that look like? How many people would you need in a city like Baltimore? What would they be doing?
GURLEY: So what we`re all trying to do now, right, is stay home so that we have a reduced number of cases, while we build up the public health force of contact tracers to try to meet that need, so there is no one magic number of how many contact tracers you need, you just need to be monitoring your contact tracing to ensure that you`re finding people on time, you`re able to quarantine contacts in a timely way, so if you`re able to do that, then you have enough.
But I think that, although health departments all over the country do contact tracing all the time, for sexually transmitted diseases and for tuberculosis, COVID-19 moves much faster. We have many more case, and so what we have to do is at a scope and scale that`s much larger than what we`ve ever done before. So it`s really important for us to start ramping up these new contact tracing activities.
And our course, we developed a course on contact tracing, the basics. It`s freely available to anybody who wants to take it. It`s on Coursera. It was developed with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies and we hope it`s going to play a role in places all over the U.S. where they`re trying to ramp up contact tracing, hire a lot of new people, and really get this effort off the ground so that we can start to think about opening in a safe way. I can`t make any promises on nightclubs, but we can do better than what we`re doing now for sure.
HAYES: Is the first step -- so let`s say this individual, by the way, who I think it is sort of blameless in the South Korea situation, he was asymptomatic and the nightclubs were opening and he wanted to go to night clubs, it`s not his fault. But in this situation where you`re doing contract tracing, is the first step like a person tests positive is there like an intact interview with the person who tests positive as the first step?
GURLEY: Yes, exactly. So what will happen is -- sorry, there`s a delay -- so what will happen is that once someone tests positive, they will be contacted by the health department. They will be asked to keep themselves separate from anybody else so that they don`t infect anybody else. But then they also have to understand from them who they had contact with, so that they can find those contacts, and ask those people to quarantine or also isolate themselves from others, so that we can break the chain of transmission.
So that once you find those contacts, hopefully they`re not going to infect anybody else. So, that`s the goal and those are the steps that contact tracers will take.
HAYES: Final question, and quickly, I`ve seen some sort of like weird American exceptionalism that says like public health interventions that work in other places can`t work here because we`re so different as Americans. What do you think of that?
GURLEY: Well, I think it`s true that each public health intervention has to happen within the cultural context of that particular place, city, or country. And in some countries they have other tool, you know, some tools that others don`t have. But I think people are people at the end of the day. And contact tracing will work if everybody can come together, and agree that yes, we`re going to share some of our information with public health. We`re going to try to stay home, so we don`t infect other people.
If we all agree to that, as a community, and agree that it`s important to save people`s lives, I think we can do that here like they`ve done it in other places.
HAYES: All right. Dr. Emily Gurley, thank you so much for making time tonight.
That is ALL IN for this evening. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
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