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MIT study TRANSCRIPT: 5/21/20, All In w/ Chris Hayes

Guests: Sinan Aral, Kate Brown, Dan Kildee, Andre Sayegh, Jamie Lloyd-Smith

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: On April 2nd at age 46. Each of them will be missed. Thanks so much for being with us. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes is up next.


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight, on ALL IN, the human cost of closing too late and opening too soon. What we now know about how the total lack of coordinated federal response led us to this uniquely American failure.

Then, nearly 40 million are unemployed. So why are Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell saying no more relief. Plus, tracking the virus how the mayor of one city in New Jersey implemented one of the best contact tracing systems in America.

And the science behind super spreaders, new research on how loud talkers in large groups can be a recipe for outbreaks. When ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. We`re used to thinking of the United States is the greatest country on earth, at least we`re used to being told that. But we`ve been dealt a lot of blows, particularly in the last 20 years. The attacks on September 11th which the U.S chose to respond to by launching two wars. And after nearly two decades in Afghanistan, the longest war in the history Republic, we`ve been unable to win America`s longest war.

Of course, there`s also the Iraq debacle and the financial crisis, a once in 70-year event. And of course, there`s hurricanes Katrina and Maria. And all these experiences have had the effect I think of diminishing our expectations of what we expect from our government. How good do we think our government should be? What do we deserve?

And now we have the Coronavirus pandemic. And with that we have gotten another terrible response from our government at a time of great cleaning need. It`s really bad, and Americans know it. A new Pew poll shows Americans recognize that countries like South Korea and Germany have just done a better job than we have.

For example, in Germany, the government, get this, sends medics outfitted in protective gear to check on patients who are at home five or six days into being sick with the coronavirus. Can you even imagine something like that here? Can you even imagine expecting or demanding something like that here?

Without our know-how and our wealth and our dynamism, we should be the best country in suppressing the virus, but we are alas an international basket case. We have less than five percent of the world`s population, nearly 30 percent of the Coronavirus fatalities. We`re getting lapped by countries like Tunisia and Cambodia that have per capita GDPs that are a fraction of ours.

Now, there`s a lot we do not know about this virus, about why a place gets an outbreak and one place doesn`t. We should be clear about that. One thing that is clear is that policy does matter. The President failed to take the virus seriously. He still doesn`t quite get it at all really. But state and local leaders fail too.

According to new estimates from Columbia University, "If the country had begun locking down cities and limiting social contract on March 1st, two weeks earlier than when most people started staying home, the vast majority of the nation`s deaths, about 83 percent would have been avoided."

83 percent. So far, we have lost over 95,000 people. Saving 83 percent, again, an estimate, a model, you don`t know. But saving 83 percent is tens of thousands of Americans who would still be with us right now. Think about all the loss, all the needless grief and the needless suffering that could have been avoided.

The day before March 1st, when the study said we should have closed, the President responded to the first confirmed coronavirus death the U.S. saying there was no reason to panic. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the general risk remains low in New York. Two weeks later, right before we closed, two weeks later, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was still telling people to go to the neighborhood bars. Get in there. Get one last drink.

Greece, a country that has -- had a rough go of it, dragged down for the past decade by economic depression and weakened changing political leadership. They have learned our fate by doing the smart thing. Grace closed schools on March 10th when it had fewer than 100 confirmed cases. It shuttered cafes, restaurants, museums, and shopping centers on the 13th after the first death. And it imposed a national lockdown on the 23rd when the death toll stood at 17.

But in the U.S., we had a failure by the federal government, by the president, whose job primarily, principally is to look out for these kinds of risks, to keep us safe, but also by state and local leaders who could have moved faster and could have done more. And now, it looks like the federal and state and local leaders are making the same mistakes they did in March on the other side of the curve.

A new study from MIT found "it is likely that individual`s mobility, their adherence to social distancing are impacted by the policies of neighboring and distant regions where their social network connections reside not only by local mandates."

So when state and local leaders decide to open up too early against CDC guidelines, the point is that can have a big impact far beyond the borders of those states. We do not know what is going to happen. There`s a lot of unknowns right now. We are in a strange situation.

Our exceptions in this country are so low -- our expectations in this country are so low nowadays that we`re really willing to cross our fingers and hope for the best, maybe it`ll work out, instead of demanding the highest level of performance for our government.

Think about this. This is what we have been reduced you as Americans. Not we have the best response, not we`ve got this, not we have trained thousands of people to contact trace, and we have the latest technology and the latest methodology, and we are spending billions, and we`re going to fan out across this great land and make sure that every last one of our fellow citizens are as safe as possible.

And yes, that includes nursing homes. And yes, that includes prisons. And yes, that includes meatpacking facilities. No, that`s not what we`re saying, no. The American solution right now is to give it a whirl and see what happens.

Here with me now, Sinan Aral, Director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy. One of the authors of the new study out today about the cost of the uncoordinated responses to coronavirus. And I want, Sinan, if you can just sort of take us through the idea here as represented in this influence pinwheel, the idea that people`s behavior is really the key thing here, right. Voting with your feet as much as policy, but that other states policy impact people across their borders because of social networks.

SINAN ARAL, DIRECTOR, MIT INITIATIVE ON THE DIGITAL ECONOMY: So that`s exactly right. The idea of the paper, Chris, is quite simple. One state or counties policies significantly affect mobility in other states and counties and not just in geographically proximate states, but often at great distances through better behavioral influence over social media. But not just social media, we call people from state to state, we stay connected. And now that we`re all sheltered in, we`re online a lot more we`re talking how we talk about the virus and the policies that a certain state is implementing, is affecting people all over the country.

HAYES: It`s so funny because when I read this study, I had a glimpse of personal recognition of being on Instagram or something and seeing like a friend who has a barbecue. I mean, like, interesting. Having a barbecue. Having a barbecue. Like -- it definitely like puts the thought in your head of like, what`s the realm of the -- what`s the realm of the possible activity.

ARAL: Well, it`s funny because as we were writing this study, and we worked really hard around the clock to get it out because we think it`s so important, my mind went to Kara Swisher who wrote an article in The New York Times about how she had to convince her mother in Florida. She had to call her from New York to keep her inside, given what she was hearing from the governor of Florida, but also from the news outlets. And so that`s a perfect example of influence at a distance.

And the main message of this paper is that we`re all in it together. This is an interdependent phenomenon and we need to approach it as an interdependent phenomenon.

HAYES: What -- so the key point here is like -- that this sort of experiment federalism that we`re doing right now, which we`ve done both on the front end and are now doing on sort of the back end of reopening, which is you states figure it out. There are actual uniform guidelines from the CDC, but basically, the President is telling people ignore them.

Your point is that like it`s not really going to work in so far as -- you can`t contain behavior. You certainly can`t contain actual people. You can`t even contain the behavioral influence from one state to the other, which is why you actually need some coordinated federal response.

ARAL: Well, in essence, what we try to say is that governments across regions need to coordinate with each other with or without national guidance. So, we provide -- and we don`t believe that a one size fits all policy is necessarily correct. Different regions may need different policies, but they need to be coordinated with one another.

So let me give you some examples. In the paper, we provide governors maps, those pinwheels that you described, to coordinate in the absence of national guidance. And these maps show each state, we have one for each of 50 states, they show each state which other states are affecting them the most. And there are some things that are intuitive and some things that are not intuitive.

So for instance, Georgia is mostly influenced by neighboring states through travel. And when Georgia reopened, University of Maryland estimated that about 500,000 people came into Georgia from neighboring states to patronize bars, restaurants, barbershops that were closed in their own states, from North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama. It was about a 13 percent increase in travel into the state and it was about 62,000 new visitors from out of state every day when Georgia first opened.

And so, that is an example of geographic spillovers, but there are also these social spillovers at a distance. So when you look at the map of Florida, what you notice is that the state that influences Florida the most is New York, and that is maybe partly during -- because of travel at the beginning of the pandemic, but also significantly because of social influence over social media, Zoom, phone calls and so on.

And what we are recommending is that states use these maps as a guideline for which other state, which governor should we call to stay abreast of policy, to coordinate policy, to have weekly conversations about how a policy in one state is changing, how it may affect outcomes in other states, and how those actions of policymakers can be coordinated.

HAYES: And this just -- final question here. I mean, you talk about sort of, you know, across the border mobility, right? So, oh, I can go to a bar, a 20-minute drive away, it`s across the state line, or I can go get a haircut or I can go to a mall. Right now, air travel is extremely low in this country. You know, coming up a little bit from where it was at the absolute trough.

But this isn`t even talking about -- I mean, the universe in which we start to see air travel get back up to normal, we already know that people from New York seated outbreaks a lot of places. I mean, once we have air travel going back up, then you`ve got a situation where, you know, now we get inter-regional mobility. Everything is national at that point.

Like, right now we`ve got a weird situation where because of so little air travel, it all is pretty regional in terms of the actual physical transmission. But that`s not going to last that long if air travel goes back up.

ARAL: That`s right. Travel spillovers will increase once air travel, resumes to increasing rates and maybe even normal rates. Right now, everyone is sheltered in so everyone is online. The largest influences are social at the present moment and the data that we analyzed.

There is a silver lining though. When we analyze the model based on our data, we found that states had to compensate for each other, but that they also benefit from spillovers. What I mean is that a state that has a certain immobility target, if their pure states are loosening up, and that influences the citizens of that state to move around more, then that state will have to impose more costly and more restrictive measures to meet their targets.

But if the states coordinate, it actually -- the spillovers actually help them achieve their targets more effectively because it gives them free treatments in a sense. Because the state`s neighboring are helping the focal state achieve their mobility targets by being responsible themselves.

So the moral of the story is, if we are uncoordinated, not one size fits all, but coordinated. If we`re uncoordinated, it dramatically increased the cost and the risk. If we`re coordinated, we can actually harness the spillovers to help us defeat the pandemic.

HAYES: All right, fascinating study. I learned a lot from it. It helped me think through all this. Sinan Aral, thank you so much for being here.

ARAL: Thank you for having me.

HAYES: Oregon was among the earliest states to issue a stay at home border starting on March 23rd. And that state`s outbreak was much less severe than many other places. Now, the state is reopening. Last Friday, they started a phased reopening of businesses across the state including gyms, bars, and restaurants. The governor of Oregon, Democrat Kate Brown joins me now.

Let`s start, Governor on this point -- I mean this study. I know that you are coordinating. Tell me about how you are thinking about this in concert with other states that are around you like Washington, California, etcetera.

GOV. KATE BROWN (D-OR): That`s a really great question. I reached out to my colleagues, Governor Newsome in California, Governor Inslee in Washington, because we share borders and we know that this virus knows no boundary. And it made sense, common sense to coordinate and be in alignment in our reopening strategies.

So we are in coordination in terms of our prerequisites, in terms of our phasing framework, and in terms of our 21-day reopening period. But obviously, Oregonians sometimes work in Washington and live in Oregon, and we`ve got folks traveling back and forth across California. It made sense that we coordinate geographically and also culturally and economically.

HAYES: So one of the things that`s interesting -- you know, again, I think the conversation often gets locked in this kind of binary of like, should we stay shut down, should we just throw the doors open? Obviously, states are thinking about this. CDC has issued guidelines. I was -- I was reading this piece about gyms in your state, the Oregonian.

So this is I think a good example of like, yes-but. So gyms are getting the green light to reopen. But there`s a -- there`s a bunch of protocols that your state has put in place. Tell me -- tell me how you thought through this problem.

BROWN: Absolutely. And I don`t know what your recreational opportunities are now. But certainly, it the gym opportunities in Oregon in the counties that are reopening look very, very different than pre-COVID-19. So we required our counties go through an application process to reopen. It was intense. They were stressed scrutinized. And we wanted to make sure that they have the appropriate public health protocols in place to contain an outbreak should it happen.

And then obviously, there was protocols in place for gyms that were reopening. Folks have to wear face coverings. We want to make sure that there`s physical distancing, limit the number of people and facilities and of course, very thorough sanitation protocol.

We want to make sure -- and my top priority is to keep Oregonians safe and healthy. And we`re using science and data as our guide. And I`ve been very fortunate to have a Medical Advisory Panel, helping me, providing me with information to inform my decision making.

HAYES: One thing that`s sort of interesting from an intellectual perspective, as we`re -- as we all are going through this and it`s happening around the world, right, countries that had bad outbreaks sheltered in place. Trying to figure out how to get back, you know, fits and starts. France open schools and then they had to close them. Places will open up and then suddenly we have an outbreak. South Korea has had to deal with that.

This from Denmark was interesting because it can go in both directions, right? It can be better than one anticipates. That`s one way. Denmark has been reopening. And basically, their CDC issued a report saying we open the economy and people are not getting sick. And we`re not even sure why. I mean, there`s still a lot to learn about what lever to pull and what the effect is.

BROWN: That`s exactly right. There`s no playbook. There is no guidelines here for a global pandemic. And so that`s for me why science and data are driving my decision making. As the virus came to Oregon, I made the tough and difficult decisions to shutter our economy to protect the health and safety of Oregonians.

And Oregonians frankly made tremendous sacrifices to protect themselves, their families, and their neighbors. And as a result, as you know, we have seen, relatively speaking, low infection rates. And we know that the actions that we took here in Oregon reduce the number of viruses in Oregonians.

We`ve seen 70,000 less cases and 1,500 hospitalizations. So we know that these stay at home measures have worked. We know that physical distancing works, and we know that face covering works. And we are all in this together. There`s a social contract here, right? Every action that each one of us takes, impacts our neighbors, our community members, and of course our fellow Americans.

HAYES: Last question for you, governor. In a state that is a stalwart vote by mail state, where voting by mail has happened for decades, if I`m not mistaken, which is widely popular along -- across the political spectrum is my understanding. And I think the polling data bears that out.

The President has chosen to sort of attack vote by mail viciously, even threatened to withhold federal funds. I wonder if you have a message to the rest of the country that maybe is new to vote by mail or is thinking about it from what your experience in your state has been like.

BROWN: Look, we just finished our presidential primary on Tuesday. We had historic turnout, using vote at home or vote by mail. And the message is this. Americans can vote at home during this global pandemic. They can do it safely. It is absolutely secure. It is very cost-effective. And of course, it`s not hackable.

And the results of a vote by mail or voted home election can`t replicated. And that is so important in this day in age. But I think it`s unfortunate that Republicans are willing to put the health and safety of Americans at risk. In order to win elections. I find that absolutely unacceptable. Americans deserve to be able to cast their ballot in a way that protects their health and their lives. And vote at home is the solution.

HAYES: Governor Kate brown of the State of Oregon, thank you so much for making time with me tonight.

BROWN: Thank you. Be safe out there, Chris.

HAYES: You bet. Coming up, there are nearly 40 million Americans now out of work. And yet Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell seems to think it`s about time to cut their benefits. That story next.


HAYES: Nearly 40 million Americans are now unemployed, the economy is devastated, still barely clawing back even amidst all the reopening hype. In a few weeks, a number of measures to protect workers and Americans are going to start to run out. The small businesses, remember those that got loans from that Payroll Protection Program which we`ve covered a bunch on this show, they`re going to have to rehire their workers by a certain deadline or the loan they got from the government is not going to be forgiven.

Also, the $600 a week enhanced unemployment benefit expires at the end of July. And there`s a pretty clear divide shaved up. Democrats in the House and the Senate say, let`s do more. We`re not done here. I mean, the House passed the $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill back in March, which expanded unemployment benefits. Then last week, they passed another $3 trillion relief bill.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump basically said now, you`re cut off. That`s it. Earlier today, the President went to Michigan where he toured a Ford Motor Company plant. During the public part of the tour, he refused to wear a mask. He touted reopening and he pushed the state`s governor to reopen sooner, completely ignoring the enormous gap between the hype about reopening and just the depth of the economic problem we face.

Joining me now is Congressman Dan Kildee, Democrat in Michigan. He recently introduced bipartisan legislation to provide $50 billion in funding to small businesses that struggled to compete against larger ones for federal emergency aid. And I want to talk about that legislation in a moment, but first assess this gap.

It seems to me that there`s a lot of talk about reopening and there is a hope in some quarters and even a projection of some Wall Street analysts, I think some people in the White House, who basically think like, this is going to be fast. I keep hearing V shape. This is from the Washington Post. President Trump`s senior advisors now predict swift economic recovery despite warnings that major problems could persist. What does it look like in your district? What`s your assessment of what we`re looking at?

REP. DAN KILDEE (D-MI): Well, it`s difficult. And you know, Chris, you`ve been to Flint. You know that the situation here was already difficult. When the economy grows, it doesn`t always grow for places like Flint and Saginaw. And so, what we`re dealing with is on top of all of that. 1We don`t get to scare the virus away or talk the virus away. The president doesn`t get to tweet the virus away. It has its own course, and we have to deal with it.

And that means we have to close the economy down, provide the support that we need, and match the resources with the course of the disease. We can`t wish it away. And the President can`t decide that he`s out of patience and he`s done with this, and so OK, we`re just going to go back to normal.

So what we see right now is a need for Congress, for the government, to continue to act to stick with the plan that was a bipartisan, whether it`s the Paycheck Protection Program, or my, you know, Main Street Relief Program, or my legislation to extend unemployment.

Those facts are on the ground in Michigan in other places, and we have to respond to them. We can`t wish this virus away. As much as we would like to, it`s here until we can defeat it.

HAYES: So there`s a really interesting dynamic that`s taking shape, I would say, in the last three or four days I`ve been sort of paying very close attention. So the House passed this $3 trillion relief package called the Heroes Bill and it had a lot of money for state and municipal governments which are going to be absolutely hammered.

It had some money for more testing, for indigenous communities as well, a number of things, extending unemployment. The Senate -- originally, Mitch McConnell said, nope, we`re done here. The White House appeared to go along with him, but that has changed in the last few days. I saw Cory Gardner, a Republican governor of Colorado saying we need to be doing more, although Mitch kind of shut them down pretty quickly.

But my sense is that they`re sort of moving out of that position. Is that your sense of where the politics are moving right now that Republicans recognizing the Senate, they can`t just walk away from this and tell everyone they`re on their own?

KILDEE: I think that is the case. I mean, the bill that we passed, the Heroes Act, which supplied a lot of support to state and local government and the other extension of unemployment, the pressure is not going to come from House Democrats or from Speaker Pelosi, on Mitch McConnell, and the President to finally get it right. It`s going to come from the American people. They are hurting the states are losing revenue. They`re going to have to cut essential public services and only the federal government can act.

So it`s really -- I think the reason that we passed our bill wasn`t so much to put pressure on them, but to just say to the American people, this is what the House is willing to do. This is what we think we should do in order to deal with this pandemic. The pressure is going to come from citizens, from governors, from state legislatures, Democrats and Republicans who know that Congress and the federal government need to act. The Senate is going to have its hand forced by public sentiment.

HAYES: Final question. There`s been a lot of talk about paycheck protection -- Payroll Protection Program, how it`s been administered, who`s gotten money and who hasn`t. Right now, it`s undersubscribed actually somewhat remarkably, which I want to kind of come back to in future coverage. But you have this relief for mainstream act which is intended to plug what you see as a whole in this. Explain that to me.

KILDEE: Yes. What we`re seeing even with the Paycheck Protection Program in its two iterations, there are still really small Main Street businesses that are locked out of the program, don`t have the banking relationship. And to be clear, one of the reasons that the second traunch of funding is going slowly is because they intentionally have slowed down the processing of those. But there are still those small business -- barbershops,beauty shops, donut shops, the small Main Street community institution that have to get direct financial support. We don`t think it all has to go through a banking system.

So Senator Booker and I have been working on this legislation. We think it is one of the ways to plug the holes that we see in the economy. Those small businesses could fail and we can`t afford to lose them.

HAYES: All right. That sounds like a smart policy approach. We`ll see where that goes, particularly in this next round of legislation which I`m now convinced there will be. It will be interesting to see what it is.

Congressman Dan Kildee of Flint, Michigan, thank you for making some time tonight. Thank you, Chris.

HAYES: Coming up, as the whole country starts to push to begin contact tracing, there is one city in New Jersey that seems to have it pretty well figured out. And I`m talk to the mayor about what they have learned there next.


HAYES: Contact tracing is one of the oldest, most tried and true methods in public health and epidemiology. It`s a like detective work, right, if you test positive for, say, Coronavirus and a bunch of people investigate, try to find out everyone you`ve been in contact with and then get in contact with them and try to get them tested and try to stop the chain of transmission.

And while other countries like South Korea have used it very effectively to suppress the virus, the Centers for Disease Control have left it up to state and local governments to implement their own programs.

One place that is doing that with a degree of success is Paterson, New Jersey. It was featured in the New York Times today, it`s a low income city, it`s got around with 150,000 people. It`s the second most densely populated place in the country, behind New York City.

And they started doing this at the beginning of the pandemic, quote, "when the first cases began to appear in Paterson in mid-March, the board of health added two dozen employees who had been trained in communicable disease investigation last year to join their regular team of two disease detectives."

Here to talk to talk about what that city is doing is the mayor of Paterson, New Jersey. He tested positive for Coronavirus in the beginning of April. He has since recovered. And that is great news. And I`m so glad you`re feeling better, mayor.

Can you tell us a little bit about what you did and what your board of health did as the disease started and you thought about implementing some type of contact tracing program in Paterson?

MAYOR ANDRE SAYEGH (D-NJ), PATERSON: Thanks, Chris. It`s an honor to be on. And I also want to start off by saying you have a fan club here in Paterson, led by business administration Kathleen Long (ph) and her husband Kevin (ph). They watch you religiously.

HAYES: That`s awesome.

SAYEGH: Second, I just want to give credit to my public health officer, because last year he had the foresight to approach me and say mayor, we got to apply for the grant to build capacity within our communicable disease investigation team. And at first I didn`t really capture the importance, but he convinced me, we applied for the grant, we received it and we built what is now called the strike team from two to about 25, and as it stands now we`re at 60, so it`s scalable depending upon the number of confirmed cases we have.

We don`t want to over burden this strike team. And these are mothers that are working, working individuals that are working around the clock to make sure that we slow the spread. And so I`m proud that we apply for that seminal grant so that we could have the band width within our strike team.

HAYES: So, has -- I mean, walk me through, has it worked I guess is my question, because one thing that happened early on in a lot of places even places with very, very developed resource rich public health departments like New York City, the number of cases just overwhelmed contact tracing at a certain point, right, like the spike got so big you couldn`t track it. That`s why we had to shelter in place.

What is your experience in Paterson been like through the sort of trajectory of the curve?

SAYEGH: We`ve been hit disproportionately. You said it earlier, we`re the second most densely populated place in the country. New York City is first. So, we have 150,000 residents shoe-horned into about eight square miles. And I can tell you, they are say so meticulous. This is a painstaking process. So, they stayed on top of these cases. You even have the public health officer involved in the tracing.

And I could speak from experience, because you stated earlier, I tested positive for COVID early in April, and I was traced and immediately isolated. And then he asked for a list of close contacts and as a result, he quarantined all those contacts. And as a result, he quarantined all of those contacts.

HAYES: So you actually went through this. So, your health folks, your strike team. You tested positive. They said who were your contacts? They got in touch with those contacts and told those folks they needed to quarantine?

SAYEGH: Yes, they did immediately. Most were my employees. So they quarantined them immediately.

HAYES: And are you confident that this program has lowered the amount of infections and fatalities you would have otherwise had in your very densely populated city?

SAYEGH: Chris, it could have been far worse. We have a chief data officer. And mid-March we asked him to project how many confirmed cases we had by April 15. His projection was 8,000. April 15 rolls around, we`re at 2,500.

So as you can see it`s a little over a quarter of his projection. And that is attributable to the yeoman`s work that`s being done by our strike team within the health department.

HAYES: Now, there`s a lot of talk in the CDC guidelines for reopening about -- for contact tracing, but I`m curious, are you in contact with the feds at all? Is the CDC helping your folks or are you getting money from the federal government to sort of build out this program or even to show other people how you`re doing it?

SAYEGH: Well, we are in constant contact with our Senator Bob Menendez, and Senator Cory Booker -- he was mentioned earlier -- he`s been helpful as well. And we`re hoping this latest iteration of relief will be adopted by the Senate and the House so that we could expand even further, and obviously lessen the burden on our municipal budget because we are going to experience a significant loss of revenue.

HAYES: But do you have any -- like, is the CDC -- it just seems to me that there is a universe in which the CDC is in constant contact with your folks and giving them technical assistance, or helping with questions they have or providing -- like is that the case or is this just kind of the thing that you`re doing in Paterson?

SAYEGH: No, credit goes to the men and women who are part of strike team who have taken it upon themselves to help us combat COVID-19.

HAYES: Wow. A Paterson story. The mayor of Paterson, New Jersey, Andre Sayegh. I`m so glad that you have recovered and it`s impressive what you folks are doing out there. Thanks a lot and stay safe.

SAYEGH: Thanks, Chris, you too.

HAYES: Coming up, fascinating new research into how the virus spread. Do packages in the mail pose any real danger? Do loud talkers spread more of the virus? If so I`m in trouble. I`ll talk about that just ahead.


HAYES: Last week we told you about the eyebrow raising reality of how the government is treating some of the president`s former associates, like Roger Stone who got a reduced sentence after the Department of Justice intervened, overriding the prosecutors on the case. The DOJ is also trying to get charges dropped against former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn who, of course, pleaded guilty lying to the FBI.

And then the Bureau of Prisons just released former Trump 2016 campaign chair Paul Manafort from federal prison due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

But the president`s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen, who you remember turned on the president, cooperated with federal investigators and congress, testified before the House, he did not get the same treatment. He was supposed to be released in the beginning of May, but then without explanations officials reversed that decision. And that looked suspect to us, until today when he was released to home confinement.

Now, we do not know the full story of what happened there, the back and forth, but it does make sense, I think to release Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort from federal prison in the midst of a pandemic where their health is imperiled. That is also true of hundreds of thousands of other folks who are right now in prisons and jails amidst the pandemic.

Like for just one instance, Anthony Swain, who has been in jail, pre-trial, for over four years, four years, awaiting trial on drug charges. Anthony is a paraplegic who also has a rare respiratory disease, which causes his immune system to be severely weakened and he recently tested positive for Coronavirus. And right now, he can go except his bond is set at $650,000, and he`s been denied emergency release twice so his family has to try to come up with the money.

So, if Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort can get a bit of grace during this pandemic, there are a lot of others, like Anthony Swain who should too.


HAYES: There is still so much that we don`t know about this virus, it has only been circulating among humans we think for seven months or so, somewhere around there, but we do continue to learn more every day. And there`s some good news on one front which involves how easy it is to get the virus from surfaces like counter tops, packages, handrails things like like.

There was real concern in the beginning, and also some laboratory data that suggested that surfaces could be a big source of transmission, but more and more data is coming in to suggest, again suggest, it`s all early, it`s all provisional knowledge, that surfaces might be less of a cause for concern than we initially thought.

Now there is updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control that suggests that the virus does not spread easily from touching surfaces or objects, quote, "it may be possible that a person could get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the the virus on it and then touching their mouth or, nose, or possibly their eyes," but the CDC adds, "this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads."

The CDC cautions that we are still learning more but that is our best understanding at this moment.

Now, there are believed to be high risk things that are big events and super spreader individuals, right? So that is the other end of the spectrum. Both mass gathers where a lot of people are together, and also the idea that a relatively small number of people are accounting for a big number of cases.

To try to help unravel the mystery of why that is, I`m joined by Jamie Lloyd-Smith, professor of oncology and evolutionary biology at UCLA who investigates infectious diseases at the Lloyd-Smith laboratory. He was co- author of a 2005 paper looking at the super spreading of viruses, in that case SARS. And he helped conduct a recent analysis of the aerosol and surface stability of this Novel Coronavirus.

Professor, let`s start with this idea, of the notion of are/are not, and the sort of trajectory of a virus, its transmissibility. And we heard that in this case it`s -- we think it is an R-3. And the idea is that like on average, one infected person infects three others.

What I find fascinating about your research is that it doesn`t actually play out in that way in reality. Explain to me how it does play out?

JAMIE LLOYD-SMITH, UCLA: Yes. So first of all, you`re correct that as epidemiologists, we`re all very focused on this average number of cases that each infected person will cause. That is the crucial driver of whether an epidemic can take off or not.

But I guess it should come as no surprise that not everybody is average. And in fact, when you look at the data, for really any infectious disease where we`ve been able to get this kind of high resolution picture of who is doing the spreading, it turns out that most people don`t look average at all. So the highest frequency of people, that often the majority of people, are really not transmitting the infection at all. They might infect zero or one other person, but then you`ve got this long tail of people, who are the so-called super spreaders, who are doing, you know, a disproportionate amount of transmission.

HAYES: Right, so you`ve got a small group of people infecting a lot of folks, and the sort of bulk of people not doing a ton of infection. And then what`s fascinating about this to me is that this is sort of a, not a law, but it`s a regularity, it is a pattern you see in a lot of infectious diseases. This is not specific to COVID, but your research suggests that this is happening, a lot of infectious diseases and probably the case here as well.

LLOYD-SMITH: Yeah, so that paper that you showed, the old paper from 2005 it was inspired by SARS, where there were very conspicuous super spreading events that turned out to be very important for the global spread of that virus. But what I did is I dug up all of the contact tracing data I could find on many different pathogens, and really they all showed the same pattern. It was to varying degrees, but really every disease we`ve been able to look at shows this pattern where there is a minority of people who end up during most of the transmission. And true enough, that turned out to be the case for COVID as well.

HAYES: So we`ve had these sort of CDC reports and other folks, there is the choir practice, which has now been somewhat infamous, right. There is a choir practice. One symptomatic person, and 87 percent of the group developed COVID-19. And then there`s a whole bunch of like other big super spreader events, like a mega church service in South Korea, a carnival in Heisenberg County (ph), Germany, 1,500 people eventually infected. There was a church celebration in Mulhouse, France, 2,500 cases, that choir practice, clubs and bars in Seoul that we just read about, 100-plus cases.

It it seems to me like what is happening here is an individual who is a super spreader, which is not a moral deficiency on their part, right, they just happen to be. And then a big crowd of people, equals like a kind of virus bomb, is that about right?

LLOYD-SMITH: That`s about right, yes.

So first of all, it is very important to point out, as you did, that this is not anybody`s fault. As often as not, it is more about the circumstance than about the actual person, and you know, what they do, or maybe it is about aspects of how their body works, some people generate more droplets when they speak than others, some people end up with more virus in their body when they`re infected than others, through no fault of their own but it does make them more efficient transmitters.

But then a big part of it is kind of happenstance. So you know, if I`m infected with some pathogen, maybe it`s a day like today, and I`m holed up in my office writing all day, and I don`t infect anybody, or maybe it`s the day I go to the choir practice, and I spew out droplets and end up infecting 50 other people.

So there is a lot of kind of fluke involved, which is part of what makes it much more challenging to predict these events, and you know, prevent them, which is what we ideally like to do.

HAYES: Well, here is my understanding, and again, correct me if I`m wrong, I`m a layperson sort of wading through this, although incredibly fascinated by it, which is that there seems a hopeful aspect to this, which is the following, right, like if we`ve got that long tail, like can we chop off the long tail, right? So if we can, if we can figure out a way to get rid of real big mass gatherings, right. If we don`t have 100,000 people at a football stadium, if we don`t have 5,000 people at a music concert, but we have other parts of life that are kind of normal, like is there a universe in which just chopping off big mass gatherings is enough to get us to some kind of containment I guess is the question?

LLOYD-SMITH: Well, certainly if we can figure out the circumstances that tend to give rise to these events, and then shut those down, or at least take measures to make them much less hazardous, so this universal masking, which is going on that is much more about protecting other people by reducing the amount of virus that you`re putting out if you`re infected than it is about protecting yourself. So if we can take measures to either stop these large gatherings, in particular, indoor large gatherings where there`s poor ventilation, so many people are sharing the same air, if we can reduce those, if we can take measures to reduce how long you spend in those settings, and then make sure people are wearing masks when they are in those settings, all of this can have a really disproportionate effect on cutting off that tail, which will drive the average down on how much transmission is happening. And if we`re lucky, we can shove that R number below one, and that`s the replacement rate. So if we get it down there, then the epidemic won`t be growing anymore.

HAYES: Final question, and briefly, I mean there`s some research to indicate that loud talking, which I do, or talking a lot, and talking loud, which I do both those things, it increases the chances that you transmit a lot. Is that an inference from the data that we have so far?

LLOYD-SMITH: It`s a fair point. So experimentally it`s true if you talk louder, if you`re singing, you`re putting out more droplets, it`s also true epidemiologically that some of these super spreading events are linked to noisy environments, like meat packing plants, like noisy crowded bars, where people are going to be speaking more loudly. So, you know, maybe quiet down, Chris.

HAYES: Yeah, that`s a good. I`m going to try to take that to heart.

Jamie Lloyd-Smith, that was so, so, so, enlightening and fascinating and thank you so much for sharing your expertise.

LLOYD-SMITH: Thank you. It`s a pleasure.

HAYES: That is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.