DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: You may have been exposed before you left New York.
And I think, like Governor DeSantis has put out today, everybody who was in New York should be self-quarantining for the next 14 days to ensure that the virus doesn`t spread to others, no matter where they have gone, whether it`s Florida, North Carolina, or out to far, far reaches of Long Island.
We are starting to see new cases across Long Island that suggest people have left the city. So this will be very critical that those individuals do self-quarantine in their homes over these next 14 days to make sure they don`t pass the virus to others, based on the time that they left New York.
So if they already are 4 days out, then it`s just 10 more days. So I thank you if you help get that message out to others.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIAID DIRECTOR: Thank you very much, Mr. President and Deb. I want to just talk very briefly about two or three things.
First, the issue of testing and how that has really changed the complexion of the approach that we`re going to be able to take. We right -- know testing was an issue. We had many questions of testing in this room for a number of times. Now that we literally have hundreds and hundreds of thousands of testing out there, there are a few things that we can do with that.
One of the things is that when we make policy about what we`re going to be doing with the rest of the country, particularly those areas that are not hot spots, we need to know what the penetrance of infection is there. So we need to put a light on those dark spots that we don`t know. We have to act, policy wise, on data. And we`re going to be getting more data -- a lot more data.
The other thing is that the areas of the country that are not hot spots, that are not going through the terrible ordeal that New York and California and Washington State are going through, they still have a window of significant degree of being able to contain. In other words, when you test, you find somebody, you isolate them, you get them out of circulation, and you do the contact tracing.
When you have a big outbreak, it`s tough to do anything but mitigation. We have an opportunity now that we have the availability of testing to do that. So you`re going to be hearing more about how we can inform where we`re going, particularly because we have the ability to test.
The second thing is, I just want to reiterate what Dr. Birx said about New York. It`s a very serious situation. They`ve suffered terribly through no fault of their own. But what we`re seeing now is that, understandably, people want to get out of New York. They`re going to Florida. They`re going to Long Island. They`re going to different places.
The idea, if you look at the statistics, it`s disturbing. About one per thousand of these individuals are infected. That`s about 8 to 10 times more than in other areas, which means when they go to another place, for their own safety, they`ve got to be careful, monitor themselves. If they get sick, bring it to the attention of a physician. Get tested.
Also, the idea about self-isolating for two weeks will be very important, because we don`t want that to be another seeding point to the rest of the country, wherever they go.
And then thirdly, just one -- one just comment about drugs and the testing of drugs. You know, you heard yesterday about drugs being out there that physicians, on an off-label way, can prescribe it to give people hope of something that hasn`t been definitively proven to work, but that might have some hope.
I don`t want anybody to forget that simultaneously with our doing that, we`re also doing randomized clinical trials on a number of candidates. You`ve heard about candidates, but there are others in the pipeline, where we`ll be able to design the study and, over a period of time, particularly since we have so many infections, we`ll be able to determine definitively are these safe and are they effective.
We`re talking about remdesivir, other drugs, immune sera, convalescent serum, monoclonal antibodies. All of these are in the pipeline now, queuing up to be able to go into clinical trial.
So I will stop there and...
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, thank you, Tony. Great job.
Larry, how about just a quick few minutes on how we`re doing over at the Hill, please?
LARRY KUDLOW, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: Thank you, sir.
We`re gaining great progress on this phase three legislation. Negotiations continue. We`ve had continued reports. I`ve been up there with Secretary Mnuchin. Secretary Mnuchin continues today with the Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, checking in with the president. They`re getting closer and closer. They expect a vote as soon as possible.
I just want to walk through a couple of key points. This legislation is urgently needed to bolster the economy; provide cash injections and liquidity; and stabilize financial markets to get us through a difficult period -- a difficult and challenging period in the economy facing us right now, but also to position us for what I think can be an economic rebound later this year.
We started the year very strong. And then we got hit by the coronavirus in ways that probably nobody imagined possible. We`re dealing with that as best we can.
This package will be the single-largest Main Street assistance program in the history of the United States. The single-largest Main Street assistance program in the history of the United States.
Phase two delivered the sick leave for individuals -- hourly workers, families, and so forth.
Phase three, a significant package for small businesses. Loan guarantees will be included. We`re going to take out expenses and lost revenues. As the president said, eligibility requires worker retention. We will maintain the people eligible. We`ll maintain their payrolls during this crisis period. And, on top of that, we will have direct deposit checks of roughly $3,000 for a family of four and that will bridge to enhanced, plussed-up unemployment insurance benefits that will essentially take those up to full wages. This is one, two, three, four.
You know, a strong work force requires strong business. You can`t have a job without a business to work for. And the hope here is that -- the companies that were operating very well at beginning of the year when the economy was in good shape, we will help them and their employees get through this tough period so they will come out the other side -- let`s say this -- later this spring or summer -- and will continue their operations. That`s the key point.
Now, don`t forget there`s income tax deferrals for individuals and corporations without interest and penalties. There is student loan interest and principle deferrals without any penalties.
And finally, I want to mention, the Treasury`s Exchange Stabilization Refund. That will be replenished. It`s important, because that fund opens the door for Federal Reserve firepower to deal a broad-based way throughout the economy for distressed industries, for small businesses, for financial turbulence.
You`ve already seen the Fed take action. They intend to take more action. And in order to get this, we have to replenish the Treasury`s Emergency Fund. It`s very, very important; not everybody understands that. That fund, by the way, will be overseen by an oversight board and an inspector general. It will be completely transparent.
So, the total package here comes to roughly $6 trillion: $2 trillion direct assistance, roughly $4 trillion in Federal Reserve lending power. Again, it`ll be the largest Main Street financial package in the history the United States. Liquidity and cash for families, small business, individuals, unemployed, to keep this thing going.
We`re headed for a rough period, but it`s only going to be weeks, we think. Weeks and months. It`s not going to be years, that`s for sure. And hopefully pave the way for continued economic recovery after this crisis departs.
Thank you, sir.
TRUMP: Thank you, Larry. I`ve been hearing that voice for so many years -- like 30 years or more, maybe. And it`s a great voice and it`s a great man. So Larry Kudlow, thank you very much.
KUDLOW: Thank you, sir.
TRUMP: I want to say that that package -- and we went over parts of it, but pretty big parts -- it really sets us up to, I think, even supersede where we were a month ago. I think we can get up there quickly and I think it allows us to supersede.
It allows us to help these great companies that need help, like Boeing, which is -- you know, it had a problem and then, on top of that problem, it had the virus come in. But we`ll be helping Boeing. We`ll be helping the airlines. We`ll be helping the cruise lines. We`ll be doing a lot of things and the money will all come back to us, and it will come back to us in a very strong form.
And before we take some questions, I`d like to ask our great Vice President to say a few words, if you wouldn`t mind. Please.
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you, Mr. President.
The White House Coronavirus Task Force met again today. And on behalf of the president of the United States, everyone on our team, and our state leaders, let me just say: Thank you, America. People across this country, businesses large and small are responding to the threat of the coronavirus in ways that are deeply inspiring.
Now, people are acting on the president`s 15 Days to Slow the Spread and it is making a material difference.
Our experts standing beside us told us that if every American -- regardless of whether you`re in an area that`s impacted by an outbreak of the coronavirus or not, if every American would embrace these guidelines, that we could significantly reduce the number of Americans that would contract the coronavirus and protect the most vulnerable. And as the president reflected earlier, tens of millions of Americans are doing just that and we`re grateful.
The focus of our task force, of course, is to slow the spread, to promote mitigation strategies. Beyond that, though, the president has us focused on testing and on supplies, and making sure that those that are enduring the symptoms of the coronavirus and those who are ministering to them -- our extraordinary health care workers -- have the support that they need.
In the category of supplies, you just heard Dr. Birx indicate that we`ve made great progress. We have done more tests in the last eight days than were done in the previous eight weeks. And it`s because of the public- private partnership that the president forged with commercial labs.
And I would encourage people around the country to remind your family members and friends: If you don`t have symptoms, don`t get a test. We want to make sure that people who are having symptoms, who have a concern have the ability to be tested and to have those tests processed.
We`re continuing to urge all county hospitals, all labs around the country to report to the CDC all the results of the test, as it`ll give these experts around us the ability to continue to advise the president on best practices.
As I mentioned, we all continue to follow the outbreak around the country and the test results. But as several have mentioned, we`re particularly focused on New York. The reality is the New York metro area was 60 percent of the new cases in the country.
And specifically, as a lay person, I can tell you that the infection rates are roughly 1 in 1,000 in the New York City metropolitan area, where they are 0. 2 percent per 1,000 or 0. 1 percent for 1,000 in places like Washington State.
It is the reason why today the White House Coronavirus Task Force is calling on any American -- first and foremost, if you`re in the New York City metropolitan area or elsewhere -- to take the guidelines that we issued and avoid nonessential travel. But for anyone in the New York metropolitan area who has traveled, our task force is encouraging you to monitor your temperature, be sensitive to symptoms, and we are asking anyone who has traveled out of the New York City metropolitan area to anywhere else in the country to self-isolate for 14 days.
We have to deal with the New York City metropolitan area as a high-risk area. And for that reason we`re -- we`re taking these steps and ask you for the cooperation of the American people.
Because of the spread in New York City, we will continue to surge resources. The president has described this. FEMA is coordinating with New York State for the arrival of the USS Comfort in just a matter of a few short weeks. Over the next 24 hours, more than 4,000 additional ventilators will be delivered to New York State as well.
New York State has prioritized three alternative medical facilities, and, at the president`s direction, the Army Corps of Engineers is working on plans to build those facilities out.
You`ve heard the president speak about the Javits Center -- the addition of 1,000 beds. And we`ll continue -- I want the people of New York City and the Greater New York City area to know that we`re with you. We`re going to continue to provide resources to support your state and local officials as they confront the spread of the coronavirus in that great city.
On the subject of supplies, we had team meetings today at FEMA, which is working on identifying the critical personal protective equipment and ventilators. At this point, FEMA informs us today that they are distributing 7. 6 million N95 respirator masks, more than 14 million surgical masks, and FEMA has already shipped 73 pallets of personal protective equipment to New York, 36 pallets of personal protective equipment to the State of Washington.
We`ll be meeting again tonight. As you know, the president stood FEMA, as the National Response Center, up and they are in the lead for the approach to the coronavirus, which is locally executed, state-managed, and federally supported. And we`ll continue to surge those resources and make sure that they`re available.
One last word, if I may: The president reflected on the response that businesses around the country have brought to this moment. It truly is extraordinary.
Now, the president did initiate the Defense Production Act last week, but as the president has reflected many times, we will use the Defense Production Act if we need it to mandate production of -- of critical supplies. But so far, no one has said no.
And, in fact, we see industry stepping up. The president mentioned Ford Motor Company working with 3M and GE Health to expand production of medical supplies. We heard that McDonald`s is now offering curbside delivery to truckers who are unable to use the drive-through to pick up a Big Mac.
And I spoke today, and the president spoke last week, with Tim Cook of Apple. And, at this moment in time, Apple went to their storehouses and is donating 9 million N95 masks to health care facilities at -- all across the country and to the National Stockpile.
There is a level of generosity that I know is inspiring to the president and is truly inspiring to all of us who are working on the White House Coronavirus Task Force.
The president has made it clear that he hopes -- in weeks, not months -- to be able to open up the country. But let me make one last encouragement to every American: We will get to that day quicker if every American will put into practice the president`s coronavirus guidelines for our nation: 15 Days to Slow the Spread. If every American will do this, I have no doubt that we will slow the spread, we will protect our most vulnerable, and we will heal our land.
Thank you, Mr. President.
TRUMP: Thank you very much, Mike. Thank you.
QUESTION: Mr. President, you just reiterated that you hope to have the country reopened by Easter and you said earlier you would like to see churches packed on that day. My question is -- you have two doctors on stage with you -- have either of them told you that`s a realistic timeline?
TRUMP: I think we`re looking at a timeline. We`re discussing it. We had a very good meeting today. You know, if you add it all up, that`s probably nine days plus another two and a half weeks. It`s a period of time that`s longer than the original two weeks.
So we`re going to look at it. We`ll only do it if it`s good. And maybe we do sections of the country; we do large sections of the country. That could be, too. But, no, we`re very much in Tony and with Deborah on everything we`re doing.
QUESTION: Who suggested Easter? Who suggested that day?
TRUMP: I just thought it was a beautiful time. It would be a beautiful time, a beautiful timeline. It`s a great day.
QUESTION: So that wasn`t based on any of the data?
TRUMP: It was -- it was based on a certain level of weeks from the time we started. And it happened to arrive -- actually, we were thinking in terms of sooner. I`d love to see if come even sooner. But I just think it would be a beautiful timeline.
QUESTION: Mr. President, if you look at what we`ve just seen in the last day or so, you`ve seen the number of known coronavirus cases in the country double in just two days.
Another 95 people died just in the last 24 hours. New York -- New York`s governor is saying this is spreading like a bullet train across the country. And the governor of Louisiana is saying that his country -- that his state may not be able to handle the cases that they`re facing by the -- by early April. So what are you seeing in all of this that leads you to think that...
TRUMP: Jon, we`re working with all of them.
QUESTION: ... we can reopen by Easter or even earlier?
TRUMP: Sure. Sure.
We`re working with all of them. We can be talking about large sections of our country, because there are sections of our country that you didn`t talk about that are doing unbelievably well; they have very little incidents or problem -- very small numbers. It`s very possible that they won`t be ever subject to what`s happening in New York.
New York is definitely a hot spot. There`s no question about it. And you know what we`re doing in New York to try and help, and I think we`re doing an incredible job. We`re going to have the hospitals up quickly -- the medical centers, also, quickly.
But we`ll just have to see. We have to follow it. We have to see. We`re going to look at that curve. We`re going to see when it starts coming down. And we`ll do the best job that can be done.
QUESTION: A question for you, Mr. President and Dr. Fauci, if we could. This would -- looking at this idea of an Easter timeline -- and I know that`s probably flexible -- what are the metrics by which you will make the decision as to whether you can say, yes, we can open up this area of the country or, no, we can`t open up that area.
I mean, will you be looking at disease numbers? Will you be looking at possible containment, isolation? What are you...
TRUMP: I think we`ll be looking at a lot of things. We`ll also be looking at very large portions of our country. And I will be guided very much by Dr. Fauci and by Deborah and by some of the other professionals that work with both of you.
And we`re going to see what will be, but that would certainly be -- I think that`s a goal that perhaps can happen, or at least for a very large portion of our country.
QUESTION: Dr. Fauci, since, as the president said, you and Dr. Birx and others will be guiding him in making the decision, where are you now with this timeline of 19 days from now?
FAUCI: So, I mean, that`s really very flexible. we just had a conversation with the president in the Oval Office, talking about -- you know, you can look at a date, but you got to be very flexible. And on a literally day-by- day and week-by-week basis, you need to evaluate the feasibility of what you`re trying to do.
And, John, you asked for what kind of metrics what kind of data. When you look at the country, I mean, obviously, no one is going to want to tone down things when you see what`s going on in a place like New York City. I mean -- I mean, that`s just good public health practice and common sense.
But the country is a big country and there are areas of the country -- and I referred to this in my opening remarks -- that we really need to know more about what the penetrance is there.
So if we do the kind of testing that we`re doing -- and testing will always be associated by identification, isolation, and contact tracing. And you find, after a period of time, that there are areas that are very different from other areas of the country. You may not want to essentially treat it as it -- just one force for the entire country, but look at flexibility in different areas.
So I think people might get the misinterpretation you`re just going to lift everything up and, even if somebody going like that, you -- I mean, that`s -- that`s not going to happen. It`s going to be looking at the data.
And what we don`t have right now that we really do need is we need to know what`s going on in those areas of the country where there isn`t an obvious outbreak. Is there something underneath the surface that says, Wait a minute, you better be careful and really clamp down, or what looks there that you don`t really have to be as harsh as you are in other areas?
So it`s looking at information that, up to this point, John, we never had. So it`s a flexible situation.
QUESTION: So is New York becoming our Wuhan? Is New York becoming the epicenter...
TRUMP: Well, it certainly is, by far, the -- if you call it hot, if you call it any word you want to use. It is at a level that -- I was speaking to Tony before -- it`s a level that no place else is close. It`s very unfortunate.
You know, one of the things that`s -- that`s happened -- that we`ve done, I think, a really good job on -- I think that it`s something special what`s happened is I learned from Dr. Birx, a little while ago, when she said -- I learned it actually this afternoon, in eight days -- because we kept hearing about South Korea.
And they had a very tough time at the beginning, if you remember. In eight days, we`re doing more testing than they`ve done in eight weeks. That`s a tremendous turn. And with our testing, it`s going -- exponentially, it`s going up, up, up every day.
So we`re going to be able to do things with this very highly sophisticated testing. And it`s also -- the test itself is considered the best test. So, on top of doing now more than anybody else, we have a very high-quality test. That makes a big difference. It also makes a big difference, even in terms of opening, because we`re going to see those areas like the hot spots. But New York City definitely is a very hot spot.
QUESTION: When you talk about areas that you could open up, what specifically are you looking at? What states? Are you talking about out west or the Midwest or the southwest? Where exactly?
TRUMP: Well, you can talk about the Farm Belt. Take a look at the Farm Belt. Take a look at the areas out west. Look at big sections of Texas.
I was talking to the great Governor of Texas. They have done a fantastic job out there. But they have very big sections of Texas where -- you know, it`s like numerous states, frankly.
But we can have large sections of -- if we want to do it that way, we can have large sections of the country open. But I think it`s very important that we start moving on that and start thinking about it, because our country wants to be open, our people want it to be open, and they want it - - they want -- they`re raring to go. And I think it`s one of the reasons that we`re going to have a tremendous bounce back. I think it`s going to go very quickly.
Also, I want to thank -- while I`m here, I want to thank Larry for the job he`s done, Steve Mnuchin for the job he`s done. If you look at Peter Navarro, he`s sort of doing different things. He`s really -- he`s a force, in terms of getting masks and getting all of the ventilators and all the things. He`s been fantastic -- Peter.
But I also want to thank Congress because whether or not we`re happy that they haven`t quite gotten there yet, they have been working long hours. I`m talking Republicans and Democrats -- all of them. The House, the Senate. I want to thank Congress because they are really trying to get there, and I think they will.
And I will see you all tomorrow. Thank you very much. Thank you.
QUESTION: Did you give the Governor Cuomo a heads-up, Mr. President, about the quarantining for people who left New York?
TRUMP: Beg your pardon?
QUESTION: Did you give Governor Cuomo a heads up about quarantining people?
TRUMP: We`re talking to them about it.
QUESTION: What are you asking for, Mr. President?
QUESTION: Is it wise to pack churches on Easter? It takes contaminate a whole...
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: And there you have it, around 6:24 p.m. on the East Coast, where we have been listening live to this briefing by the White House Coronavirus Task Force.
President Trump detailing his administration`s ongoing response, arguing, the president says, that the precautions that health experts have demanded last for some time, the president saying just then again he hopes they end soon -- quote -- "in a matter of weeks."
And the president welcoming signs that Congress will, by all accounts, soon pass this giant stimulus bill, Larry Kudlow coming out and approximating it in total at $6 trillion.
We should note the president just then was rejoined by Dr. Fauci, who has recently spoken out about how part of his job involves fact-checking Donald Trump`s misinformation.
He was absent from yesterday`s meeting.
If you`re joining us right now, I can tell you I`m Ari Melber. I`m anchoring MSNBC`s ongoing special coverage here.
And we turn, as we often do after these briefings, immediately to our experts, "Washington Post" columnist Eugene Robinson, Michelle Goldberg from "The New York Times" Dr. Ann Marie Kimball from the University of Washington.
My thanks to each of you.
Doctor, what medical facts should people keep in mind or know, after listening through that briefing?
DR. ANN MARIE KIMBALL, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON: I think the most important thing to understand about this virus is that it can be asymptomatic and still transmitted.
And the other medical fact is in fact that the rate in New York City right now is higher than the rate in Italy. So it`s not a wise time to really be aspirationally talking about opening up that part of the country, because, as you listen to Governor Cuomo and you look at the stats, that`s really a hot spot.
MELBER: You`re using Italy as a kind of an approximate warning example, and saying, if parts of the United States, like New York, are anywhere in Italy territory, we`re nowhere near what the president and Mr. Kudlow just referred to, which is the idea that you could have this wrapped up with regard to precautions in weeks?
KIMBALL: Yes, I think what you heard was twofold.
And one piece I want to really emphasize that did come through in that news conference is that they`re going to look at the data.
And we have the Centers for Disease Control, which is really the agency you want to go, to get the facts and figures on when it`s safe to open it up. Two weeks is very aspirational and really optimistic, and probably not at all realistic for New York.
MELBER: When you say it`s not realistic for New York, which is one of the big centers -- and for folks who are watching, we saw the president just as he was walking away get one more question about New York, and he sort of turned and took the bait, which is why reporters in that room always throw out the extra question.
You seem to be zeroing in on that. Is your view that the president or anyone discussing this as a matter of weeks is being unrealistic about New York?
KIMBALL: Well, it appears so.
I mean, New York`s rate right now is 17 per 10,000, which is higher than Italy`s rate, and much higher than the state of Washington`s rate or Seattle, King County`s rate. And it is really a hot spot right now.
So, if you take that, and you understand that a lot of people are getting sick now, and they`re trying to marshal their hospital care, this is at least a couple of weeks away from any kind of turndown in their infection curve.
But we will -- we have to wait and see. And I`m sure they`re doing everything they can.
MELBER: Yes. Stay with me.
Michelle Goldberg, we saw the reemergence of Dr. Fauci. I`m not exaggerating when I refer to the fact that millions of people watch these things. We know that. And many thousands yesterday took to the Internet and other places and said, where is Dr. Fauci?
He had spoken out quite bluntly about how, in essence, the president makes his job harder with misinformation.
With that in mind, I want to play for you something brand-new that also just occurred. We`re obviously tracking responses from all different parts of the story.
Joe Biden, doing a newsworthy interview just an hour or two ago on MSNBC, take a listen to what he said about all this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It`s frustrating to hear this president speak. He should stop talking. Let the experts speak.
This is not a political thing any longer. This is about how we spare this nation from a potential disaster. We can deal with the economy. And the way to deal with the economy is now take care of those people who are in desperate need now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Michelle, what do you think of former Vice President Biden`s point that the president`s speaking has been bad for public health, the markets, really the whole -- the whole response, in his view?
MICHELLE GOLDBERG, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well, I don`t care about the markets, but it`s clearly been bad for public health.
I mean, there was already a case of a man who died after taking too much of a drug, an untested drug, that Trump has been touting as a cure for this disease.
And you hear -- there was another case recently of somebody in Kentucky, I believe, who got sick after attending a coronavirus party.
Well, some people are out there getting the message that this is not as serious and not as grave as public health experts are saying that it is. When Trump says that we`re going to open up the country by Easter, which is less than three weeks away, he is -- it`s not just that he`s giving people false hope.
He is making it harder for people to make practical plans for what is actually more likely to be a several-month-long lockdown. It`s hard to plan for your children, if you have children out of school, if you think that they`re going to be back in two-and-a-half weeks vs. if you think that they`re going to be out for the rest of the year.
And you already see -- you see Disney talking about opening up its parks on April 1, even though I can`t imagine that would actually be happening.
So, he`s already talking about the light at the end of the tunnel, as if we have turned a corner, when his own surgeon general has said that we`re heading in, this next week, into a very, very dark period.
I want our whole panel of experts to stay with me.
We were listening, of course, to a Republican White House briefing.
I want to turn to Democratic congresswoman, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts. We should note over 1,100 COVID-19 cases there.
Thanks for joining me.
Take a listen to Dr. Deborah Brick -- Birx, I should say, from the task force.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIRX: What the president is doing is looking for the future and looking what we can do in the future, not looking to change what we`re doing now.
Please, he`s made it clear, and the vice president, continue to follow the guidelines of social distancing, and all of the other things about knowing where your hands are and washing your hands.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: What do you see as important coming out of the briefing? And what else can you tell us about the progress on this multitrillion-dollar stimulus bill?
REP. AYANNA PRESSLEY (D-MA): Well, I will say, Donald Trump had prepared remarks for this presser. And I`m walking away with no more confidence about where Donald Trump`s head is at, at this moment.
I think he`s operating it in a way at that is reckless and irresponsible. His words and actions are not commiserate with the response of someone who holds the Oval, who works in the Oval Office, who is the president of the United States.
He`s not a fan of my calling him the occupant. Well, then, act like the president. Embody the responsibility, the empathy, and the compassion and the strategy that a president would in the midst of the pandemic.
I`m appealing to the American people to listen to the medical professionals, the esteemed panel you just had participate, and Dr. Fauci.
And Dr. Fauci, I trust. And Donald Trump, I do not.
In that presser, he referenced the border. He fanned the flames of xenophobia once again. He is giving false hope about the need -- about people being in safe houses on Easter Sunday.
I mean, this is just reckless and irresponsible. And it is already costing people lives. He needs to activate the Defense Production Act.
In this presser, he said he has. But I am on the ground in Massachusetts, a health care mecca in this country. And the health care professionals, the doctors and nurses, our front-line workers, our most vulnerable workers, are heroes in the midst of this pandemic. And our hospital and our health care centers do not have the supplies that they need.
MELBER: What do you think Donald Trump`s endgame is here?
You just laid out a view that argues that he is making it worse, that he is providing misinformation, that he is trying to speak or will into reality something that you`re not seeing.
And what we are seeing -- and we have been very clear with the facts for viewers every night -- people can read it on their screens right now -- we have topped 52,000 cases, over 600 deaths. There are not indications that we have gotten over any -- quote -- "hump" in the numbers we`re tracking.
PRESSLEY: In fact, his own surgeon general said the worst is yet to come.
And so, you know, it is very worrisome when Donald Trump is engaging in -- threatening quid pro quos with governors. Governor Cuomo today saying, we have 400 ventilators, but we need 30,000.
Medical professionals are going to be forced very soon to quite literally choose who deserves to live.
And, you know, in Massachusetts, one of the communities in my district is Dorchester. And there is a young girl there, Gaby, who is 10 years old at Saint Brendan School, who has been personally sewing 24 masks a day.
Listen, I`m grateful for that benevolence from our children and from our private sector, but it is not going meet the scale and scope of this pandemic.
And, listen, our greatest wealth is our public health. And it is being threatened right now. And that`s why I continue to fight for not only the investments in our health care infrastructure and to support our vulnerable health care work force, but to ensure that we have a bailout for workers, for our families, and not for corporations.
And that`s what we`re focused on, the public health, unemployment insurance. I have introduced some things specific to student debt to try to relieve some of that burden and hurt, also supporting rental freezes, mortgage freezes, all of these things that will assuage people`s anxieties in the midst of this, that`s the last thing they have to be worried about in the midst of a pandemic.
MELBER: Congresswoman, I know it`s a busy time on the Hill, as well as in your home state, as you mentioned, with your own work. You`re recounting the story of young people literally sewing these masks as we deal with these problems.
I appreciate your time and you telling some of your stories tonight.
PRESSLEY: Thank you, Ari.
MELBER: Thank you. And we will be in touch.
I want to bring back in some of our analysts here.
If you are just joining us, we have watched a different type of White House briefing this evening. It was a little shorter than yesterday. It included Dr. Fauci. It included the economic leader of the recovery for the Trump White House, Larry Kudlow.
And, Gene Robinson, who has been with us, but we haven`t heard from you yet, I`m curious your thoughts on the press conference in general, but also, as the congresswoman just mentioned, on the stark contrast we continue to see between the president`s approach, what he says, how he describes reality, and people on the front lines.
I have a little bit of Governor Cuomo here, who has been one of the most visible in one of the hardest-hits states. Take a listen to him discussing the trade-off with the economy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): We`re talking about public health. We`re talking about isolation. We`re talking about protecting lives.
There also has to be a parallel track that talks about economic viability. You can`t stop the economy forever.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: No, you can`t stop the economy forever.
I mean, what we -- what we saw at the press conference today, Ari, was kind of a bifurcated session, in which first you had fiction and then you had fact, right? You had you had kind of a mini President Trump rally, in which he touted his accomplishments and how well he`s doing.
He stoked fear of people who might come across the border. He did all the things that you would expect him to do.
And then he turned it over to people who actually know something about what`s happening and the crisis we face. And he left unresolved this very obvious tension between his desire, his fantasy, I believe, that the churches of America will be filled safely on Easter Sunday, vs. what the scientists are telling us, which is that we have our greatest city, our most populous city, in an absolute full-blown crisis at this point.
We have people leaving New York, because -- because people come and go in New York in a city of nearly nine million people. And so you have those people going out. And so if there are areas of the country where there`s not a problem now, there`s going to be a problem soon.
And so you have to kind of separate those two halves, I think, of the of the briefing.
And recall Governor Cuomo this morning, who was, I don`t want to use the word apoplectic, because he wasn`t apoplectic, but who was clearly exercised and clearly worried about the numbers that he saw overnight vs. the numbers he saw the day before, and how the curve is not bending, in fact, it seems to be steepening.
So, we are still in the middle of a crisis, and the president`s reaction is not commensurate to that crisis. But he at least let the experts give us some information that is more useful.
MELBER: Dr. Kimball, do you want to weigh in on any of that?
KIMBALL: Yes, I`d like to say one thing in support of what`s different on the ground.
We are -- let`s see, this started in January. And we`re in March now. And we`re just now starting to see the mobilization of testing and supplies that we have needed for two months.
It`s a federal failure. And I`m not partisan about this. I`m just saying, in my state, we still don`t have enough masks and personal protective equipment and testing to know exactly where this epidemic is.
And this is really hitting us now, because they`re asking for volunteers, like me, who are retired physicians, to come back and work on the front lines.
But we`re also in the high-risk group. So, we can`t go back in without personal protective equipment. And if we can`t go back in, how can you reinforce the health workers who need -- who need a break?
I mean, this is really serious in Seattle. It`s going to get really serious in New York. And we really have to have those materials. And they are now two months` late.
KIMBALL: Thank you.
MELBER: How long have you been retired, Doctor?
KIMBALL: I have been retired from medical practice for about two years.
MELBER: And how many other people do you know in your community who are doing what you`re doing, coming back to the -- to serve?
KIMBALL: Oh, we have a whole Washington state retired physicians corps. And we have a reserve corps here on Bainbridge Island. Many of us stay active. And we do free clinics all the time.
I mean, I did Seattle, King County, free clinic about three weeks ago. So, yes, we all volunteer.
MELBER: I will just say, amidst all the other sad parts of this story, when we think about how many public health professionals, nurses and doctors, on the front lines every day, as well as people like yourself, doing well beyond what obviously you would have to do to come out and serve.
I do think it`s inspiring. So, shout-out to you and those of you doing that work, and also giving us some of your expertise tonight. We`re better for it.
Dr. Kimball and Michelle Goldberg, my thanks to both of you.
Gene Robinson comes back.
We`re going to fit in a break here. We`re obviously tracking a lot of stories.
We have a special report we have been working on that I`m going to share with you when we come back on this new dynamic that is so important between Donald Trump, a president who brooks no resistance, usually, among his own staff, and, of course, the doctor who has been increasingly eclipsing him, Dr. Fauci -- when we come back.
MELBER: Might be easy to forget right about now, but one of President Trump`s many attempts to undercut the free press included largely ending the 50-year bipartisan tradition of White House press briefings.
That`s a time when the White House faces journalistic inquiries to inform the nation. For over half of last year, the Trump White House didn`t hold a single briefing, obviously a contrast to these now daily briefings in this coronavirus era, which also feature something of a new tradition that we want to speak about right now, medical experts who provide key facts, while the president does not.
And, sometimes, President Trump does worse, spreading outright misinformation, which the experts then correct, sometimes in front of the president`s face, a dynamic driving some very powerful fact-checking of Donald Trump in real time at the same presidential lectern sometimes he just used.
And it is often led by Dr. Anthony Fauci, whose absence at Monday`s briefing was widely noted, many Americans even taken to social media to ask, where`s Dr. Fauci?
Well, now, Fauci was at today`s hearing.
But all of this has followed a very interesting period between Dr. Fauci and the president, because the doctor did a blunt interview, telling "Science" magazine he knows Donald Trump spreads misinformation and added: "Let`s get real. What do you want me to do?" -- stressing the best he can do is correct Trump, a point he expanded on to Maureen Dowd, explaining: "I don`t want to act like a tough guy. I just want to get the facts out."
And "The Times" reports that blunt approach at the briefing lectern, contradicting Trump, is frustrating the president.
The tension comes amidst larger battles over when to send Americans back to work, and Donald Trump giving out unvetted ideas for drugs people should try right now that actually led to a man dying this week.
Now, in one striking moment, with, of course, the nation watching live, we saw Dr. Fauci step up to correct Donald Trump`s dangerous misinformation recommending a potential drug for the virus.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Yesterday, there were questions about the use of this malaria drug. Have those questions now been resolved?
TRUMP: Well, I don`t know that resolved.
I can say that it`s going to be distributed. Look, I feel, as the expression goes, what do we have to lose?
FAUCI: Are you going to use a drug that someone says, from an anecdotal standpoint, not completely proven, but might have some effect?
There are those who lean to the point of giving hope and saying, give that person the option of having access to that drug. And then you have the other group, which is my job, as a scientist, to say, my job is to ultimately prove without a doubt that a drug is not only safe, but that it actually works.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Dr. Fauci is pressing science over spin, no matter who`s in the room.
To paraphrase Shawn Carter`s message to liars, Dr. Fauci`s name should be just the facts, while the rest of you all just adjust the facts. Some put words together just to match, while this doctor drops science. You all adjust to that.
Back with me is Eugene Robinson, columnist for "The Washington Post," and someone interested in empirical truth.
Your view of the role Dr. Fauci is playing, sir?
ROBINSON: Well, look, for all of us, he is the reliable narrator of this crisis.
He is telling us what is going on from day to day, what the situation really is, what we should believe, what`s a matter of science, what`s a matter of hope. And he is so -- we know him. We have known him for so long since, since back to the Reagan administration.
And he has been a trusted voice. And he continues to be a trusted voice. And I think he is essential. To the extent this is -- this administration is launching any sort of coordinated response to this threat, Dr. Fauci, I think, is absolutely critical to that, because he is the great communicator here.
Donald Trump believes he is -- he is always the great communicator, the only communicator. And we know he does not like being contradicted in public. We know he does not, in fact, like to be contradicted in private.
He doesn`t -- and certainly not by people who work for him. We have seen the reporting that he`s upset about this. But I do know that President Trump understands television. And so he has decided that we will have these daily televised spectacles, these daily episodes of the reality show.
And I`m betting and I`m hoping, frankly, that he understands that Dr. Fauci is essential to that...
ROBINSON: ... and to not -- when Dr. Fauci isn`t there, there`s a -- it`s like the main character is not there.
MELBER: Well, when he isn`t there, it`s even more dangerous, Gene, which I -- before I lose you, I want to play some of this reporting, NBC exclusive, with -- a discussion with the widow of someone who, as mentioned died, this week after trying the drug that Donald Trump just threw out there.
Take a look.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
VAUGHN HILLYARD, NBC NEWS POLITICAL REPORTER: Did you see the president`s press conference? Where did you hear about...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Yes. We saw the -- we saw his press conference.
It was on a lot, actually.
HILLYARD: And then what -- and then what -- did you seek out chloroquine?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I had it in the house, because I used to have koi fish.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MELBER: We`re over on time, but I wanted to let you speak to that briefly, Gene.
ROBINSON: No, look, it`s a tragedy, right?
A man died because he heard about this drug that the president was touting as a miracle cure. We needed Dr. Fauci to tell us, it`s not a miracle cure. Don`t go out and try to hoard and take chloroquine. You can really hurt yourself.
Even if you get pharmaceutical-grade chloroquine, it does have side effects. And for some people, it can be dangerous. We have no idea what the dosage would be. That`s the information we need.
That`s why Dr. Fauci is so essential.
MELBER: All well put. And we wanted to get your views on this.
Pulitzer Prize winner, "Washington Post" writer Eugene Robinson, thank you so much.
We have a lot more in this hour and next hour, where I will be anchoring special coverage.
We`re going to fit in a break and be right back.
MELBER: We are in the midst of a whole range of developments, obviously, mostly virus-related, the Congress working on the stimulus bill.
Colorado Governor Jared Polis will be talking about Donald Trump`s hope for reopening the country by Easter in the next hour on MSNBC.
And something else interesting that affects so many people, including people working around the country, the closure of so many restaurants and bars. Well, "Top Chef" host Tom Colicchio will join in on MSNBC, discussing how this is impacting restaurants and the president`s timeline.
And I will tell you one more thing I mentioned earlier. I will actually be back anchoring our next hour of special coverage right after a quick break.
Keep it right here on MSNBC.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END