IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

The Beat with Ari Melber, Transcript 3/30/2020

Guests: Tony Schwartz, Anne Rimoin

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIAID DIRECTOR: It`s going to be things that we have 

available to us that we did not have before.


QUESTION: Mr. President, Scott -- thank you. Scott Gottlieb, your former FDA Commissioner, wrote a road map for recovery after coronavirus.

TRUMP: Yeah. Very interesting. I saw it.

QUESTION: He suggests -- the road map suggests that everybody wear a mask in public. Is that something that the task force thinks is a good idea?

TRUMP: Well, we haven`t discussed it to that extent, but it`s certainly something we could discuss. We`re getting certainly the number of masks that you`d need. We are in the process of talking about things. I saw his suggestion on that. So we`ll take a look at it. For a period of time, not forever. I mean we want our country back. We`re not going to be wearing masks forever, but it could be for a short period of time.

After we get back into gear, people could -- I could see something like that happening for a period of time, but I would hope it would be a very limited period of time. Doctors -- they`ll come back and say for the rest of our lives, we have to wear masks.

QUESTION: Is the road map also talks about doing GPS for social distancing, maybe following people`s phones and hotels for isolation for people -- giving them free hotel rooms. Are those ideas that you`re looking at?

TRUMP: Well, the GPS -- that`s a very severe idea. I`ve been hearing about it -- GPS. So what happens? A siren goes off if you get too close to somebody? That`s pretty severe. But he`s somebody -- he was with me for a long time. He worked -- he did a great job at FDA.

So -- so we`re going to -- we`re taking a look. I just -- I just received it a little while ago. He sent it over. So, very good.

Go ahead. Let`s give it a shot.

QUESTION: Sir, what do you say to Americans who are upset with you over the way you...

TRUMP: Here we go.

QUESTION: -- downplayed this crisis over the last couple of months? We have it very much under control in this country. The coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. It`s going to disappear. It`s like a miracle. It will disappear.

March 4: "We have a very small number of people in this country infected."

March 10: "We`re prepared. We`re doing a great job with it. It will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away."

TRUMP: Well, isn`t it true? It will go away.

QUESTION: What do you say to Americans who believe that you got this wrong?

TRUMP: And I do want them to stay calm. And we are doing a great job. If you look at those individual statements, they`re all true. Stay calm. It will go away. You know it -- you know it is going away, and it will go away. And we`re going to have a great victory.

And it`s people like you and CNN that say things like that. That -- it`s why people just don`t want to listen to CNN anymore. You could ask a normal question. The statements I made are: I want to keep the country calm. I don`t want to panic in the country. I could cause panic much better than even you. I could do much -- I would make you look like a minor league player. But you know what? I don`t want to do that.

I want to have our country be calm and strong, and fight and win, and it will go away. And it is incredible the job that all of these people are doing -- putting them all together -- the job that they`re doing.

I am very proud of the job they`re doing, that Mike Pence is doing, that the task force has done, that Honeywell and Procter & Gamble and Mike, and all of these people have done. I`m very proud. it`s almost a miracle, and it is -- the way it`s all come together.

And instead of asking a nasty, snarky question like that, you should ask a real question. And other than that, I`m going to go to somebody else.

Please, go ahead. Please.

QUESTION: You expressed some concern in the past that medical supplies were going out the back door...

TRUMP: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- and that, perhaps, some hospitals were doing things worse than hoarding.

TRUMP: Well, I expressed what was told to me by a tremendous power in the business. He said that, at a New York hospital, for a long period of time, he was giving 10,000, maybe maximum 20,000 masks over a short time. And all of a sudden, he`s giving 300,000. And I said, No matter how bad this is, could that be possible? He said, No. So there`s only a couple of things that could happen. Is it going out the back door?

And I`ve reported it to the city and let the city take a look at it. But when you go from 10,000 masks to 300,000 masks, Mike, over the same period of time, there`s something going on. Now, I`m not making any charges, but when everyone is looking for masks -- and, by the way, that`s another thing: We`re making a lot of masks. And the sterilization process is going to save a lot of time and a lot of masks.

But when you have the biggest distributor of product that distributes to many of the big hospitals and hospital chains, and he brings up a statistic like that -- and I know you`re trying to make a big deal out of it, but you shouldn`t be. You should actually go over to the hospital and find out why. You shouldn`t be asking me. I`m just saying that`s the way it is.

QUESTION: Are you...

TRUMP: You should go over there as a great reporter. I have no idea who you are, but that`s OK. You should go over there, go to the hospital, and find out: How come you used to get 10,000 masks and you had a full hospital?

New York City, always full. And how come now you have 300,000 masks? Despite the virus and all, you have three -- -- how do you go from 10,000 to 300,000? And this is very serious stuff. I mean, I could see from 10 to 20, or from 10 to 40 or 50 or something. But how do you go from 10,000 to 300,000 masks?

So what I think you should do as a -- I`m sure you`re a wonderful investigative reporter. You should go to the hospital and find out why.

OK, yeah.

QUESTION: Are you asking your DOJ to look into it, sir?

TRUMP: Steve, please.

QUESTION: You said there`s challenging times ahead in the next 30 days. What`s the U.S. economy going to look like when (OFF-MIKE) the other side?

TRUMP: Well, it`s so bad for the economy, but the economy is number two on my list. First, I want to save a lot of lives. We`re going to get the economy back. I think the economy is going to come back very fast.

Steve is just asking about the economy, what`s it like. We basically shut down our country, and we did that in order to keep people separated, keep people apart. They`re not working in offices, they`re not in airplanes together. You know, we really shut it down.

And 150, 151 other countries are pretty much shut down. But here, we`re the -- we had the greatest economy in the world. We had the greatest economy in the history of our country. And I had to go from doing a great job for three years to shutting it down. But you know what? We`re going to build it up and we`re going to build it up rapidly. And I think, in the end, we`ll be stronger for it. We learned a lot. We learned a lot.

And I have to say, we`ve had great relationships with a lot of countries. China sent us some stuff, which was terrific. Russia sent us a very, very large planeload of things, medical equipment, which was very nice. Other countries sent us things that I was very surprised at, very happily surprised.

We learned a lot. We`re learning a lot. And we`re also learning that the concept of borders is very important, Steve. It`s very important. Having borders is very, very important.

But we have done an incredible job. The economy is going to come back. My focus is saving lives. That`s the only focus I can have. We`re going to bring the economy back and we`ll bring it back fast.

Yeah, please.

QUESTION: To follow up...

TRUMP: Go ahead.

QUESTION: Mr. President...

TRUMP: Please.

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. You said several times that the United States has ramped up testing. I will just talk a little quicker -- or a little louder.

Mr. President, you said several times that the United States has ramped up testing, but the United States is still not testing per capita as many people as other countries like South Korea. Why is that? And when do you think that that number will be on par with other countries?

And Dr....

TRUMP: Yeah, well, it`s very much on par.

QUESTION: Not per capita...

TRUMP: Look -- look -- per capita. We have areas of country that`s very tight. I know South Korea better than anybody. It`s a -- very tight. Do you know how many people are in Seoul? Do you know how big the city of Seoul is?

QUESTION: But the question is about...


TRUMP: Thirty-eight million people. That`s bigger than anything we have. Thirty-eight million people all tightly wound together.

We have vast farmlands. We have vast areas where they don`t have much of a problem. In some cases, they have no problem whatsoever. We have done more tests. What I didn`t -- I didn`t talk about per capita. We have done more tests, by far, than any country in the world, by far.

Our testing is also better than any country in the world. And when you look at that, as simple as that looks, that`s something that`s a game changer, and every country wants that. Every country.

So rather than asking a question like that, you should congratulate the people that have done this testing, because we inherited -- this administration inherited a broken system, a system that was obsolete, a system that didn`t work. It was OK for a tiny, small group of people, but once you got beyond that, it didn`t work.

We have built an incredible system to the fact, where we have now done more tests than any other country in the world. And now the technology is really booming.

I just spoke to -- well, I spoke to a lot. I`m not going to even mention. I spoke to a number of different testing companies today, and the job that they`ve done and the job that they`re doing is incredible.

But when Abbott comes out and does this so quickly, it`s really unreal. In fact, one company, I have to say, that stands out in the job -- and I think I can say this; I don`t want to insult anybody else -- but Roche. Roche has been incredible in the testing job they`ve done. And they`re ramping it up exponentially. It`s up, up, up, up. And you should be saying congratulations instead of asking a really snarky question, because I know exactly what you mean by that.

You should be saying congratulations to the men and women who have done this job, who have inherited a broken testing system, and who have made it great. And if you don`t say it, I will say it. I want to congratulate all of the people. You have done a fantastic job.

And we will see you all tomorrow. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you. BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: So, that`s going to do it.

A lot to get to. The president turned and is going back to the Oval Office. Notably different today, we heard from Dr. Fauci, but not Birx, not the vice president, who remains seated in the front row.

Before we bring our guest in, at the risk of some repetition, because there was so much, let`s go through it as I look at my notes.

President started off with his hope to save a million American lives. He said it`s all about the next 30 days. He kept saying, we have to get back. He means America getting back to life and work and school and business.

He talked about testing. Indeed, that was that last exchange. He is said to have asked, why are they throwing away these disposable masks? And the way he tells the story, that started off this drive to make machinery and technology to sterilize masks that were made to be disposable and allow them for more than one use.

The truth in a lot of hospitals and medical centers in this country is, doctors have worn a single mask or very few of them throughout their whole shift, when doctors used to change PPE between sick patients.

That was right about the time he interrupting by saying, "My hair is blowing around, and it`s mine."

He then said about his own team: "We`re getting the job done. People are very impressed."

He said: "We`re shipping to Italy product we don`t need." He didn`t itemize. He said $100 million worth of things, medical and surgical things.

Then up came the guy from MyPillow, who gave an update on his business, in part an ad for MyPillow. He transitioned into remarks he had written that became an ad for Donald Trump, Donald Trump`s election and, as he put it, the return of God into public life and schools.

Then we heard from the heads of Honeywell, Jockey Underwear, Procter & Gamble -- he gave us the courtesy of listing all their consumer products -- United Technologies. The president called up Seema Verma, who runs CMS. And as he called her up, he said, talk about how positive it`s been.

She came up and launched the proposal that we should think about hospitals without walls. By that, she meant using dorms, parking lots, gymnasiums, hotels and arenas, what we have seen in cities like New York.

The president, again, he had returned to this talking point a month ago, nobody had ever heard of this. It was unclear whether he meant the coronavirus, its spread like this, or the Comfort hospital ship, which took up residence alongside the West side of Manhattan today.

Called on a reporter for One America Network, who promptly asked question about elective abortions. He was asked a question about this being a cyclical, seasonal illness. He -- Dr. Fauci helped with the answer for that. At one point, the president turned to the two doctors and said: "Doctors, don`t come back and suggest we wear masks for rest of our lives."

He told Jim Acosta of CNN, "I could cause much greater panic than even you."

He said, "It`s almost a miracle the way it`s come together," meaning the administration`s response to this.

Said to another reporter, "I have no idea who you are, but that`s OK."

And, again, he sowed doubt about a major hospital in New York somehow dealing masks out the back door, perhaps on a secondary market. He hasn`t itemized, except for his conversation with a friend of his who is giving large sums of masks to a hospital in New York.

Along the way, the president mentioned he has an acquaintance who is in a coma with coronavirus.

It`s a lot to cover.

And joining us to do that, before we hand it over to Ari Melber, Dr. Anne Rimoin, epidemiologist at UCLA in Los Angeles, and Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for "The Washington Post."

Eugene, I`m going to spare the doctor the discussion of the theater we just watched and my review of the journalism that came out of it.

What did you make of the event we have just witnessed today?

EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, there was a good review you just gave, Brian.

We`re going to have to, I think, look at these briefings. If they`re going to happen every single day, we`re going to have to figure out exactly how to cover them, because if you look at what came out, compared to yesterday`s briefing, where there was a lot of news, right -- we`re locked down for another month, at least.

He`s looking at June 1 as a time to really get the country going, which leaves open the question about May. I wished somebody had asked more about the whole month of May that`s in the middle there that nobody is talking about.

But today`s briefing was kind of a pretty incremental update, I think. And I guess tomorrow, then, we will get a lot of more statistical information about the models that the doctors are using.

But it was all over the map, because it`s President Trump with a microphone and his favorite foils, the White House press corps, which he loves to spar with and to accuse of being snarky and to argue with.

And so you have the Trump phase and then you have an expert or two. The MyPillow guy was an innovation. And then you have the snarling back-and- forth with the reporters. And then it`s over.

And this is starting to seem a bit ritualistic to me.

WILLIAMS: Yes, I think, Eugene, all of the television networks, I think our policy on these is kind of a moving, rolling target. I can`t speak for our management or their decisions, beyond to take today`s event live, and as best we can go through and point out what it is we witnessed.

I left out a quote from the president: "I know South Korea better than anybody."

Hey, Doctor rescue us from this.

When you hear the governor of Virginia is going to enforce a stay-at-home order for 70 days, that figure really gets your attention. A whole lot of Americans are trying to adjust their heads and lives and finances to see how long we`re going to be at this, how long we`re going to be indoors. But is that more in line with your thinking?

DR. ANNE RIMOIN, UCLA EPIDEMIOLOGIST: Yes, I think that this is a very important move towards what we all know is coming that are in -- that are epidemiologists.

I think that we need to really understand that this is serious and we need to take serious action. We have been -- as Governor Cuomo said this morning, we`re chasing behind this epidemic. We need to get in front of it. And that is exactly what strong guidelines are going to be able to do.

I also want to point out that during -- what I heard during this press conference, which I think is very important, is that at least we heard about Scott Gottlieb and his very interesting plan about his road map towards the coronavirus -- towards stopping the spread of coronavirus.

And, in particular, I think it`s important that he was talking about phase one. And phase one is all these things that we have been talking about, right? Number one, slow the spread of the virus. Number two, testing, testing, testing. Number three, get the hospitals up and running with what they need, and then, as a subpoint to this, talking about universal masking.

I`m really happy to hear this point. This is one of these things that I have been hoping to be able to discuss, but we really need to start talking about this issue of everybody wearing a mask.

These are concrete things every person can do to slow the spread of this virus.

WILLIAMS: Yes, I think it`s a visual I`m certain that the president doesn`t want to see, as media-minded as he is.

But having attempted grocery shopping this past weekend, I can report out East about a 50 percent mask-wearing rate in the two stores that I very gingerly visited.

Hey, Shannon Pettypiece is with us. She was among the journalists in the Rose Garden who we saw on camera taking part in the questioning.

Shannon, I don`t want to be superficial, but I have to ask you about the atmospherics, the parade of corporate types up to the microphone, the president pointedly calling on OAN, and pointedly receiving a question on abortion in the middle of a pandemic briefing.

SHANNON PETTYPIECE, NBC DIGITAL SENIOR WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: It did seem to be one of the lighter briefings on substance.

I mean, these often aren`t huge on substance, but there did seem to be a lot less substance in this, and a lot more of the president trying to promote the work that companies working with the administration are doing, combating with reporters, at the end getting in a back-and-forth with my colleague Yamiche Alcindor from PBS, saying that she should be congratulating and all these companies for the great work we`re doing.

So, not a ton of substance, a bit more of an infomercial.

But I will say that there were some headlines of I would take out away from this, the public could take away from this, at least. One, I asked the president about this idea of a national stay-at-home order. You have more governor`s doing them, but there`s still states that aren`t doing them.

And, of course, the federal government carries a lot more weight. And the president that that is something he thinks is unlikely, though it is something he has talked about.

And then to get this issue the doctor was just discussing about masks, that`s something that the Corona Task Force advisory committee officials have shot down before, this idea that everyone should be wearing a mask.

And one of the reasons has been because of issues with supply and that they could take away from doctors if the public is using them. But the president seemed more open to that idea now, suggesting that this is something he would consider for a short period of time, possibly.

I could see Dr. Fauci out of the corner of my eye. The president looked over at him a couple times. And Fauci seems to be nodding his head in agreement. He seemed to give us a signal saying a short time, suggesting to the president that this is not something we`re going to have people wearing masks around for many months to come.

But, yes, that also did seem to be a highlight as well. And we didn`t hear the president talking much either about this idea of having to get the economy open, having to get the economy open. So it`s been a few days where he seems to be putting the public health issue above the near term, or maybe even longer term, though economic consequences.

WILLIAMS: As we wrap up this review of the news that was made, we will toss in what was really to me the lead story from yesterday`s briefing, and that is the movement of the goalposts, the president saying that, because initial projections, had they done nothing, was perhaps a death toll of two million in this country, if it can be limited -- I`m paraphrasing here -- to 100,000 to 200,000, that will mean he and his team have done a good job.

The clear takeaway from these past two days is, Americans had better get used to the notion of some outlandish, outlandish death toll numbers from this illness.

Our guests are staying with us, Shannon Pettypiece, Dr. Anne Rimoin, Eugene Robinson.

We are going to toss it to Ari Melber, who will be on with THE BEAT -- Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Thank you very much, Brian. Appreciate it. Appreciate your special coverage.

As mentioned, our experts stay with us, and we bring in virologist Joseph Fair, a doctor with expertise on this conversation. And we should mention he is a science contributor, analyst for MSNBC, as mentioned, Anne Rimoin from UCLA and "Washington Post" Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Gene Robinson still here.

Dr. Fair, your view about what was important or scientific in the presentation we saw and these open questions that were under discussion regarding moving towards universal mask usage?


As Dr. Rimoin pointed out, the issue with masks is, we based those guidelines originally -- and I say we, the public health community and scientific community, based it on SARS. And they did have limited effectiveness with SARS.

This virus that causes COVID-19 is actually called SARS-CoV-2. It`s genetically closely very related to SARS. So those guidelines were based on that originally. However, what we`re seeing is a lot more people are being able to transmit this asymptomatically.

Therefore, it totally makes sense to adapt your measures to those new guidelines to wearing a mask, because if you`re passing it asymptomatically, you don`t know you have it, yet you`re still shedding the virus throughout your droplets, it makes sense to have a mask on to prevent that from happening.

MELBER: Well, and, Dr. Fair, on that point, viewers have heard different types of guidelines, different ways of underlying the severity.

We have heard from experts who say basically act like everyone has it. Of course, if everyone had it, and we had the means, everyone would wear a mask, no?

FAIR: Absolutely.

And that`s something I say myself. Pretend as if you have it. And that`s going to keep you from -- the first step, social distancing. Secondly, if you are going to go out -- and there are going to be times that you have to go out -- everyone has to go to the grocery store, everyone`s going to have to go to the pharmacy.

There are going to be people that have to go to the hospital for some other things other than related to COVID-19. So those are the times when you are going to want to wear your mask.

If you have someone in the house that`s sick, obviously, the sick person should be wearing a mask, at the minimum, even if it`s homemade, and everyone else in the house should be wearing a mask during that time.

MELBER: Dr. Rimoin?

RIMOIN: Well, I agree entirely.

My slogan is, keep your droplets to yourself. What we want to make people aware of is that they can be spreading the virus asymptomatically or pre- symptomatically.

And the thing that these masks can help do is to stop you from spreading it to other people. Now, I know that there`s been a lot of confusion here. First, we`re saying, don`t wear masks, masks are not effective. Then we`re now starting to move towards saying, maybe you should wear a mask.

The thing that the public has to realize is that we are learning about this virus in real time. It is a novel coronavirus. And, as such, we really have to -- we have -- the public also has to understand, we`re going to be changing our recommendations over time.

Now, because we realize that this virus does have aerosol potential and even small droplets spread, which is I think what we`re talking about mostly here, meaning that, even when you`re speaking, you will be spraying a little bit of saliva, minuscule amounts, that are not visible to the eye, to other people.

And that is one way that we could be spreading virus.

So, any kind of mask, or, I like to say, a face cover or a mouth cover, will be very, very helpful.

That is a very, very different issue than the PPE that needs to be reserved for health care workers. So, I want to make this very clear, because I think people get very confused. What we`re talking about here in terms of everybody wearing a mask would be a handmade mask, a cloth mask, a bandana, a scarf, something that anybody can put on their face to keep their droplets to themselves.

This is exactly what Dr. Fair was saying. Act like you have the virus. And if everybody can wear a face covering, it will stop us from inadvertently spreading it to other people. Now, that is a very different issue than the N95 masks and the surgical masks that...

MELBER: Understood.


RIMOIN: ... health care workers.

MELBER: Understood.

Well, and what you`re saying is part of the debate that`s going on. We`re having a discussion here on live news about a question that was posed at the White House coronavirus briefing about these measures.

And, Gene, it goes to the way we live. It goes to the culture. You were a part of our earlier special coverage with Brian Williams, who made the observation that the president might not like the optics, the association of a society of people walking around in masks.

And yet, by any medical or economic standard, it is a far less drastic measure than shutting down entire workplaces.

So, I`m curious, Gene, both to get your reaction, if you have any, on that...


MELBER: ... but also to make sure we`re covering all sides of this.

We just heard a lengthy briefing by the Trump administration. I want to play some of what Joe Biden is saying today, brand-new. Take a listen.


JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We should be surging as many supplies we have to the places that are right now in crisis.

That includes New York. It includes Louisiana. It includes New Orleans. It includes other places. And then, while we`re producing these new units, they can be sent to the places that are going to emerge. And then we can -- they can rotate it. But you got to get the supplies to the places that are the most urgently needed now.


MELBER: So, Gene, your views, if any, on that other conversation we were having, as well as what it means for Joe Biden to continue to campaign during this crisis?

ROBINSON: Well, first, on the question of the masks, I think it is probable that President Trump would not like the optics of being the president who presided on the whole population donning masks and lying around with masks.

However, I do think that, however they did it, I think Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx managed to have something of a breakthrough over the weekend with the president.

And I think he is on board how dangerous, how potentially catastrophic this virus is, and how the first thing has to be to save as many lives as possible, to stop the transmission of this virus, to the extent possible.

So, again, he was noncommittal on masks. He didn`t seem to like the idea, but he didn`t reject it either. And if that`s a new attitude on the part of the president in general, I have to think that`s a good thing.



MELBER: While I have you, Eugene,let me bring you -- I want to move it along just with the time we have to play something else important from Dr. Birx.

But, for Eugene, we have a challenge here between looking at projections and predictions. And news viewers are well-informed about how faulty predictions can be, whether you`re saying Joe Biden`s not going to be the nominee or Donald Trump wasn`t going to be president.

And yet, if we look at this like -- more like a weather prediction, where knowing there`s a chance of rain can affect whether you bring an umbrella, doesn`t mean you`re sure there will be rain, I want to play the absolutely chilling projection from Dr. Birx, which Dr. Fauci and others have endorsed this weekend, for everyone to be aware.

Take a listen.


DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: If we do things together well, almost perfectly, we could get in the range of 100,000 to 200,000 fatalities.

QUESTION: You kind of take my breath away with that.


MELBER: To Gene and then Dr. Fair, I wanted to get that in, because that`s Dr. Birx putting everyone on notice.


ROBINSON: Yes. No, it does take your breath away.

And I think your weather analogy is a good one. It`s not that it`s going to rain. It`s that there`s a hurricane out there, right? And it`s approaching shore.

And, yes, there is a possibility. There`s always a possibility that it veers off at the last moment, that somehow it breaks up, that it doesn`t happen the way it looks like it`s going to happen.

But it is the height of irresponsibility and self-destructiveness really not to prepare for that, not to do everything you can to get ready for it, and to mitigate what looks like a disaster coming down the pike.

A lot of this is already in motion. Dr. Birx is saying, if we do it perfectly now, we`re still going to lose 100,000 to 200,000 people. That is chilling. And -- but the second part of that sentence is, if we don`t do everything perfectly, we don`t do everything we can, those numbers are going to rise.

MELBER: Dr. Fair?

FAIR: Yes.

So, I think it`s a very sobering, but realistic number, and even realistic, it could even be on the low end. But something to keep in mind, I think we`re talking about a cyclical. It will be back in the fall. I think everyone pretty much unanimously agrees.

We will probably see a dip in the summer, like we do with seasonal coronaviruses and flu, but we undoubtedly will have a second wave in the fall, because the Southern Hemisphere will have cases.

MELBER: Right.

FAIR: So, taken altogether, the numbers could even be low at 200,

000. And the key word, if we`re all doing it together, and we`re all doing it perfectly, which we are definitely not all doing it together, and we`re definitely not doing it perfectly now. So the number, it may even be low.

MELBER: Well, you mentioned that, Dr. Fair.

I want to play one more thing before we fit in a break. You talk about recurrence and what it means for people to understand that, so they can protect their families.

Here was Dr. Fauci just now, just within the last hour. Take a look.


FAUCI: If you come back in the fall, it will be a totally different ball game of what happened when we first got hit with it in the beginning of this year. There will be several things that will be different.


MELBER: And the question for the United States right now, as well as many other countries, if it does come back in the fall, what are we doing now, not only on the emergency triage, but to do the right thing for the future?

It`s a lot. It`s stressful for a lot of people, but there are answers.

What I`m going to do, as promised, is fit in a break. I want to thank Dr. Fair and Eugene Robinson. Our other doctor stays with us.

We`re going to fit in this break.

When we come back, we have a lot of other reporting planned for you, including some special guests that go to, OK, you`re getting all of this information. Some of it is obviously scary. What do you do with it? How do you manage yourself, your own emotions, your own feelings to make sure you`re protecting yourself and your family?

We have a special conversation about that when we come back.


New reporting tonight on the epicenter of this pandemic in the United States, New York grappling with what`s become 10 percent of cases worldwide.

The U.S. Naval ship Comfort arriving there in New York City, Manhattan`s Jacob Javits Center opening today as formerly a FEMA hospital. That`s a temporary transition, designed to try to help the problems there in that city.

Meanwhile, you`re looking at Central Park, where officials have set up a field hospital specifically for coronavirus patients. All this comes as the city`s emergency system, reportedly overwhelmed by a record number of 911 calls.

Our special coverage continues.

And we want to bring in Tony Schwartz. He`s the co-author of "The Art of the Deal," and also the founder of The Energy Project, an organization that advises Fortune 500 companies on many related issues. And back with us, Dr. Anne Rimoin.

Thanks to both of you.

Tony, many of the viewers of THE BEAT know you for bigger picture conversations we have had throughout the years. This obviously is a time where managing your own energy, stress and anxiety can affect the safety of the decisions you make.

What do you think about this? What are you advising the companies that you work with on all of that, as a public health matter?

TONY SCHWARTZ, CO-AUTHOR, "TRUMP: THE ART OF THE DEAL": Well, there`s nothing, Ari, that is more difficult for a human being, more traumatizing, even, than to feel out of control and helpless.

And that`s precisely what many of us are feeling right now. So, really, the issue for people is to make a distinction between the things you can control and the things you cannot control, and to put your attention, to focus your attention the things you can control, because there are things you can control, and there`s nothing more valuable right now, both for you as an adult, but also for your children, than to have routines that serve you well.

That could be both things make you feel more calm and relaxed, so just a deep breath. I`m going to do it for you right now. In three, out six, that`s a very powerful way to stabilize your physiology.

The other really powerful way is to make sure that you have some kind of routine that is increasing your movement, that is raising your heart rate, because that`s a way to discharge stress.

So, what routines do you have in place? Because here`s the thing, Ari. There is something called allostatic load. Allostatic load is the wear and tear, wear and tear on your body and your mind and your emotions.

And when you get allostatic overload, the system begins to break down. That`s what`s happening right now.


Let me take -- let me take those points to the doctor, because, Dr. Rimoin, one of the things we have tried to do is report carefully on everything the CDC says.

And one of the things they say for guidance, above and beyond the things we have heard -- you wash your hands, social distance -- is to actually take time away from news, information, social media and potential stressors, which can be counterintuitive for people watching thinking, but I`m also supposed to stay informed.

What are you telling patients? What are you telling people who might be listening to you tonight, Doctor?

RIMOIN: I think you`re touching on a very important point.

This is a very stressful moment for everyone. And I think that we often have the aptitude of -- or the attitude of, I can handle this, I need to stay informed, the more I know, the more I can protect myself.

And all of that is true. But consuming news constantly becomes addictive. It raises stress levels. Stress levels make you more susceptible to disease. So it makes a lot of sense.

But I also think what Tony said is true. There are many things that we all can be doing. This is -- there -- all of these models, all of these predictions, they are not our destiny. We have some -- they are of a prediction of what the future could look like.

And we have some control. And I think everybody understanding that they do have some control, and doing these things that we`re being told to do, being at home, social distancing, covering your mouth, any of these things, I think people feel better when they know that they themselves individually can do something.

MELBER: Right.

Doctor, the other thing I want to ask you -- and then Tony will answer second -- is, at the intersection of managing this stress, which we wanted to give some time to in our broadcast, but also the philosophical question, because, anyone, basically everyone who`s been in a situation with themselves or a family member or a friend who`s had a problem or a tragedy befall them, there is a classic, why me and am I alone, and all of that

Doctor, how does this play out, where it`s literally a global pandemic? So we`re all going through it together. And there are ways where, in theory, if it were a novel, that might sound like something that would be unifying, but, in fact, we hear from many people who feel that it`s terrifying because it`s everywhere.

I wonder if you could speak to that aspect. And then Tony will go second.

RIMOIN: Absolutely.

I have spent many, many years fighting Ebola epidemics in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. And we see this same thing roll out. We are not any different than anybody else in any other country. We are all going through this together.

And this is this whole idea of pulling together by staying apart. But it can be very isolating. And people need -- to that is where watching the news sometimes help, but reaching out in social media and trying to find ways to connect with people the best you can to share, it`s very important, because so many people are feeling the same things.

It`s very natural in any natural disaster to be feeling these things. We could be looking back to Katrina. We could be looking back to any Ebola outbreak, to any major disaster. Many people have felt these feelings before and feel them with you if you`re feeling this way now.

I think that people need to be able to absorb that and understand this is a disaster, and we all are feeling the anxiety and stress.

SCHWARTZ: There`s a tendency, Ari, to think that the best way to do this is to tough it out, to steel yourself, to try to push aside your feelings.

And, in fact, the more you can acknowledge what you`re feeling, and then let it run through you, it will run through you. And one of the things we`re doing at The Energy Project with our clients is to offer them an opportunity when we work with them to set up small cohorts in which people have an opportunity to talk together about what they`re feeling, because the more they can talk about what they`re feeling, the better that they feel afterwards.

I think I have talked to you before about the idea of name it to tame it. When you acknowledge what`s going on, then it has an opportunity to be released, to run through you.

So any opportunity you have -- and I have found -- probably a lot of your viewers have -- that we`re spending a lot more time on FaceTime or on Zoom...


SCHWARTZ: ... talking to friends and family members.

That is a wonderful thing to do. We need community. We do need to be in this together.

MELBER: And we need to see each other and hear each other and not just have it be a text or an e-mail or the other things.

It`s a funny thing that we`re at a moment in technology where FaceTiming and other stuff, which some people use a lot and other people may not, is key.

Dr. Rimoin, Tony and I go way back on this show. And I have always tried to teach him about the virtues of keeping it real. Do you know that expression?


MELBER: Yes, keeping it real, real in the streets.

And there is nothing more real than feelings, right, Tony?


I mean, I think this is an opportunity for people also, Ari, to ask themselves some pretty key questions. Like, there is opportunity in this situation to ask questions like, am I doing what I really believe I ought to do?

Is there some way that I could contribute more? Is this the life I want to be living once we`re out of this?

So, yes, I think this is an amazing opportunity.


MELBER: You see, Doctor, Tony took it -- Tony took it even deeper.

I would leave the last word to the doctor, which is, is this the right time to rethink the existence of your life or not?

Dr. Rimoin, 30 seconds?

RIMOIN: OK, here`s what I think.

I think that existential crises are relevant and important, but I think what helps people, and what I have seen in Ebola outbreaks over and over again is that what you can do often is channel this into what you can do.


RIMOIN: Everybody -- so -- and this is where I want to get into this whole idea of universal masking.

And I know that this is one of these big issues that is much bigger. I`m going to try and fit this in quickly. But here`s the deal. One thing everybody can do is keep their droplets to themselves. Everybody`s going to have to sooner or later go to the grocery store, or go to the, doctor, or do something.

People can make their own masks. They can cover their mouths. We know that that will make a difference.

We can...

MELBER: Right.


RIMOIN: ... other people.

MELBER: And people can take a discussion like this.

And maybe one or two things were maybe relevant, we hope, to people. And we land on the point of agreement, I think both of you talking about taking the right actions that are responsible, which also reminds you, you do have power and control and agency over your life, even if we`re living under these restrictions.

We ran long, but I think it was worth it.

Dr. Rimoin, Tony Schwartz, thanks to both of you.

RIMOIN: My pleasure. Thank you for having us.

MELBER: Appreciate you.

We`re going to fit in a quick break.

When we come back, we`re turning to a whole different story. And it`s an important one, Bill Barr`s Justice Department and new powers they`re seeking right now during the pandemic.

Keeping them honest, keeping them accountable -- when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) MELBER: Important story that may have been flying below the radar.

Donald Trump`s Justice Department asking Congress formally for sweeping new emergency powers. They`re citing coronavirus as the justification, the DOJ wanting the ability to ask judges to detain people indefinitely without trial during -- quote -- "emergencies" and also being able to ask judges to pause the typical statute of limitations.

That is, of course, the limit on how the government can do prosecutions. The powers would cover cases nearing -- quote -- "pre-arrest, post-arrest, pretrial, trial, and post-trial procedures."

That is a gigantic swathe of the criminal justice system. These are very significant demands which, whether you have heard about them yet or not, with everything else going on, actually show you a bit of a preview of how this administration, this government wants to basically invoke the pandemic to alter your constitutional rights.

And you need a public hearing to address something like this. The lawmakers obviously won`t necessarily have a chance. What would have been Bill Barr`s first appearance, for example, before the house Judiciary Committee, just this past week, has been delayed now -- quote -- "indefinitely" because of the very virus that they`re using to argue for these powers.

Also, DOJ rules now say those caught intentionally spreading the virus can also be charged under -- get this -- terrorism laws.

I`m joined now by Maya Wiley, a former counsel to the mayor of New York City and a former civil prosecutor.

Maya, your reaction to this story, which people hearing it right now say -- might say, wow, that sounds really big. And yet it hasn`t gotten a lot of attention because we`re dealing with a pandemic?

MAYA WILEY, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: It`s certainly really big.

And I think Senator Rand Paul may have something to worry about in terms of a terrorism charge.


WILEY: But it`s that serious.

We are talking about some of the most sweeping powers that our founding fathers absolutely enshrined in the Constitution, and habeas corpus is what we call it. It is explicitly in the Constitution of the United States.

Underneath it, of course, there are lots of statutes and rules and procedures that we have put in place. And what Bill Barr drafted and part of why it is such a shocking attempt at a power grab is, it`s not just limited to this particular pandemic or moment in time.

What the letter asks for was any disaster, any emergency. What`s an emergency? Who defines that? And what would be essentially blocked would be any person who is arrested, not just whether you have already been convicted, but you have just been arrested. And you might not be brought before a judge for who knows how long under the way it`s framed.

It`s simply astounding.

MELBER: Let me ask you, what does it reveal to you that, of all the things that could be done right now -- the government`s playing catchup -- this was something that Bill Barr apparently rushed out?

WILEY: Well, so a little bit in the reporting, because I want to be fair to the Justice Department, that some of what the spokesperson for the Department of Justice said was that Congress had asked for some guidance on what the Department of Justice may need to think about in terms of this very serious emergency.

It is an emergency. There`s no question. Courts are legitimately struggling with how to do social distancing, how to have a safe space, and not spread this virus by going through regular court business.

And we have seen federal courts doing just that. So I think that it`s not that they started it. It`s that they went so far above and beyond any powers that actually made sense in terms of balancing public safety and the rights of our people, the rights of residents, the rights of people who may not be citizens, but have every right to due process in our courts.

That is something that we`re seeing being eroded around the world right now. And we can`t let it happen here.

MELBER: A really important perspective.

You know your way around the Justice Department. And it`s a story we wanted to stay on, even with everything else happening.

Maya Wiley, thank you.

That does it for this hour, but we have a lot more coming up.

New York Congresswoman Grace Meng will be on MSNBC discussing this growing crisis from what is now the epicenter. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms also will be part of special coverage, discussing all the local efforts to brace for what could be new waves of the virus.

And later in the next hour, something a little different, but very important. Ellen Page, the Academy Award-nominated actress, will be here discussing culture and environmental justice.

All that, and, I will tell you, I will be in the chair again next hour, so stick around after this break.