GDP falls TRANSCRIPT: 4/29/20, The Beat w/ Ari Melber

Guests: Jared Bernstein, Amy Pacholk, William Haseltine, Hugh Acheson, Bill Kristol, Christie Todd Whitman

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Welcome back to THE BEAT. I am Ari Melber.

Let me tell you a little about what we`re doing in tonight`s show. We`re going to cover all aspects of the debate roiling America right now, when and how to safely open different parts of the country.

We will be joined by a governor, an ICU nurse, a scientist, an economist, and not only that, but an Iron Chef who`s actually not opening his restaurants yet.

So, we have a lot lined up for you.

But, first, here`s some of the facts that undergird the debate, starting with the reasons that many are wary of moving too fast, too soon. This week, we`re seeing some states barreling forward with plans to reopen movie theaters, malls and restaurants,

Those are social gathering spaces and potential hot spots.

Now, tonight, we can report none of the states that have met federal guidelines that were promoted by Trump himself, a recommendation declined over 14 days. Today, the CDC flagging the virus death toll could be higher than thought. They are citing a surge in reported deaths in several states.

This suggests that there may be coronavirus-related deaths that were initially assigned and understood to be from other causes. You see that right there. Also, "The New York Times" reporting that some of the places with the highest rates of new cases are in smaller towns, like Marion, Ohio, Gallup, New Mexico, and Sioux City, Iowa.

So, let`s be clear right there. That reminds everyone of something that some people know, but some people may forget, depending on how you get your information and where you live.

This is not just a big city problem, let alone a New York City problem. The experts are telling us that the key to reopening safely is, of course, testing. Now, the president`s been told that, and now he`s basically digging in on some outlandish related claims.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: Do I hear you saying you`re confident you can surpass five million tests per day? Is that...

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Oh, well, we`re going to be there very soon. If you look at the numbers, it could be that we`re getting very close.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Now, his own testing chief says that`s impossible, telling "TIME" magazine: "There is no way on Earth, on this planet or any other planet we could do 20 million tests a day or even, yes, five million tests a day" -- end quote.

So that`s pretty important. That`s what you call an internal fact-check.

Meanwhile, there are these ideas about pushing reopening. But let`s take a look at where the public stands, people getting their information, as we mentioned, from Dr. Fauci and others; 65 percent say it would be a bad idea to return to workplaces without more testing; 85 percent say they don`t like the idea of reopening schools.

And then you see it right there. When you talk about optional gatherings of a big nature, 91 percent say, no, they`re not going to go to large sporting events right now, at least not without more testing.

So those are reasons to be wary. There are also -- and we have tried to keep an eye on this as well throughout our reporting -- there are some signs of optimism amidst this grim picture.

The FDA approving the emergency use of a new experimental drug today, after one trial showed a shortened recovery time for some patients.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIAID DIRECTOR: We think it`s really opening the door to the fact that we now have the capability of treating.

And I can guarantee you, as more people, more companies, more investigators get involved, it`s going get better and better.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Health care workers say they`re starting to get better at treating patients.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. STEFAN MUEHLBAUER, ST. FRANCIS HOSPITAL: One area that gives me hope is that we`re now starting to get better every single day, experimenting and seeing what works with people who are doing active research, including a couple of trials here.

And I think we`re actually getting better at taking care of patients with COVID-19. And we`re starting to see that all these efforts are starting to have better outcomes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: We turn now to the former governor of New Jersey, Christine Todd Whitman. She led the EPA under President Bush, infectious disease expert Dr. William Haseltine, and Bill Kristol, the founding director of Defending Democracies Together.

Good evening, everyone.

Doctor, explain this to us. People at home say, wait a minute, we keep going to the experts. Don`t they know everything? But this is a new virus, and thus the experts themselves are learning as they go.

DR. WILLIAM HASELTINE, INFECTIOUS DISEASE EXPERT: That`s definitely true.

We have seen these viruses, the coronavirus family, around for a long time. We have had SARS. We have had MERS. They cause a lot of colds.

But this is the first time we have had to deal with it on such a massive scale, with such a lethal impact.

MELBER: And so when you see an indication about, oh, maybe there`s a treatment that works a little bit, how should people take that into account? How does that affect people`s daily lives?

HASELTINE: This particular announcement should not affect anybody`s life. I`m a little bit skeptical of the timing.

It came out on the same day that a review paper came out in "The Lancet," a very respected journal, from a top Chinese group, which showed, in a controlled clinical trial, what everybody was looking for, that it had absolutely no effect on anything that they could measure, whether it was time to healing, whether it was time to death.

And, in fact, it had some adverse side effects, and a number of people -- more people in the trial group than the placebo group quit the trial because of abnormal liver function and diarrhea and severe gastrointestinal upsets.

So, I don`t think there is really much hope for this drug doing much for many people. I wish I could say something different. The only thing I could say is perhaps that this group, because they had pneumonia, were a little bit worse off than the average patient that comes to a hospital.

And maybe, there, it would have some effect, but it`s not going to have much effect. This is not a silver bullet we`re looking for.

The good news is, there will be a silver bullet.

MELBER: In the form of a vaccine someday?

HASELTINE: There will be a vaccine, and there will be drugs that are very effective, I`m absolutely certain.

We have already seen the drugs. They have been on the shelves for 10 years, since the first SARS epidemic. They work very well against that virus. They are very active in animals against this virus. And I`m sure that we`re going see more than a handful of effective drugs that will put a stop to death from this virus.

MELBER: All important context. We appreciate it.

Governor, looking at the decisions facing current governors, there is a lot of different information that is swirling around. And we`re clearly approaching this time where some places can do some things safely, but very carefully.

Take a listen to Dr. Fauci and the concerns that he has raised as to how to do this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FAUCI: If we are unsuccessful or prematurely try to open up, and we have additional outbreaks that are out of control, it could be much more than that. It could be a rebound to get us right back in the same boat that we were in a few weeks ago.

So that`s why we have really got to be careful.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Governor, given your work both running a state and also at the intersection of science and empirical issues with the federal government, what position are governors in? How should they approach this?

CHRISTIE TODD WHITMAN (R), FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR: Well, they`re in a tough position, because they -- everything has been thrown on them without all that they need.

They still don`t have all the testing kits that they need. They don`t have all the preventive gear that they need.

But I wish, right at the beginning, that we had more scientists who would stand up and do a briefing that said, what are the knock-on effects of this particular virus? I mean, we`re hearing all sorts of things about seeing residual impacts, from frostbitten toes, to having strokes in 50 -- 40-to- 50-year-olds who were previously healthy.

We -- there`s a lot we don`t know, but maybe people would take it more seriously if they thought, even if they get it and get well, they still might have issues, because part of the problem that the governors face, besides the fact that many of them have requirements to balance their budgets in their constitution, so they are very aware of the financial implications of this, and very concerned about it, beyond the human toll that it`s taking, which is very real to every governor and every mayor and every local official.

They want to reopen. But they understand that it`s got to be done carefully. And there`s just -- it`s frustrating when the messages from the top keep changing. And the idea that you should have two weeks of flattening and dropping curve is a good one, but people aren`t paying attention to that, because then the president stepped up and said, well, those people who are protesting, they ought to protest, and that`s good, and they ought to do that.

And I get it. I mean, people are frustrated, they`re scared, they`re losing their jobs. They don`t know where the next dollar is going to come from. I mean, this is a real concern. Businesses are going to be lost, small business particularly, which is why it`s so important that this money -- that someone is really overseeing how the money is going to be spent, so that things like basketball teams don`t get multimillion-dollar bailouts, that it goes to the small businesses that are the backbone of our country.

But we don`t have that either. So we need to have that. And then governors have got to have the kind -- they need Washington to back up what they`re trying to do when they`re trying to open carefully, so that their public will hear, there`s a real reason to be careful about this, because you don`t want it coming back.

You don`t want it worse. And, oh, by the way, even if you get a light case, you really don`t want to get it at all.

MELBER: Sure.

We have done some of the medicine and the governance. Now we turn to my friend Bill Kristol.

And I hate to say it, Bill, because you know I love you, but you may have drawn the short straw, because you get the question about the infectious disease expert Jared Kushner, who, in the time of the Trump administration in 2020, whether it sounds like a joke or not, is put in charge.

In fact, viewers may remember when he literally came out and held part of one of these briefings.

So, sorry, Bill, but take a listen to Jared Kushner.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JARED KUSHNER, SENIOR PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: And I think that we have achieved all the different milestones that are needed.

So, the -- the government, federal government, rose to the challenge, and this is a great success story.

And I think that that`s really what needs to be told.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: So, give us your breakdown, Bill. And, if you would, you can also tell us whether you think Mr. Kushner is less qualified for this scientific role, as compared to his qualifications for solving Middle East peace, two things he`s been thrust into, chiefly and exclusively because of his nepotistic relationship with the president, not because of any other actual skills.

BILL KRISTOL, FORMER EDITOR, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": But he is a senior White House official (AUDIO GAP) say there is a sense that he didn`t, like, run the other side of the medical aspect of this.

It is so irresponsible. We don`t yet -- we don`t have enough testing. We don`t yet have the therapeutics we need. We presume we will get more in two, three, four months. We obviously don`t have the vaccine yet. We have flattened the curve.

(AUDIO GAP) still have paid a high price and will continue to. So, he is a senior White House official basically saying, ah, we`re over the hump, we`re on the other side of the medical aspect, it`s been a great success.

Even if he weren`t the president`s son-in-law, which -- who has no particular qualifications, it would be appalling for a senior White House (AUDIO GAP) the public. The public needs to hear a message of sobriety and patience and responsibility, some praise and credit for actually behaving pretty well, I would say, in terms of the social distancing and actually helping flatten the curve, which really was important.

But we`re only a little bit of the way there. And this notion that we`re just (AUDIO GAP) we will just come roaring out of it, it`s not just that that`s misleading and it`s a false promise and false hope. It`s genuinely dangerous, because it`s going to push for policies that are irresponsible and that really could lead to terrible outcomes.

So, yes, I was very struck by the Kushner thing. I didn`t know you were going to mention it here. But I also was struck (AUDIO GAP) which makes it a little more appalling, perhaps.

But, again, I just come back to the fact that this is a senior White House official saying something so irresponsible.

MELBER: Yes, Doctor, what do you think of the point that Mr. Kristol raises?

And this comes on the heels of Vice President Pence taking to the lectern to say thank you, Mr. President -- quote -- "We`re almost there."

Here you have Jared Kushner saying -- quote -- "We have hit all the milestones we need."

HASELTINE: We`re definitely not there. All you have to do is look at the numbers of people who are sick, the number of peoples who are dying.

I am here speaking from New York. There are temporary morgues in the street, 77th Street, between Park Avenue and Lexington. This is not over. And the idea that we are going to start loosening up, I can tell you, in New York, people are already anticipating that, and it is scary.

I was speaking to the head of a hospital, one of the New York hospitals, here today. He said, what happened last Saturday is going to show up in my emergency room in 10 days. That`s what -- that`s what he`s seen before. That`s what`s going to happen.

And so the doctors know what inappropriate social mixing does when the epidemic is at this early stage. It is frightening. And it should be frightening to everybody, because this disease is not confined to any group. Any of us can get it.

MELBER: Well, Doctor, I think people need to hear the chilling warning you`re giving.

And the other aspect of this, which we have been continuously covering with different experts and also civil rights leaders, is, who bears the brunt in the situation?

Let me read you "Washington Post" reporting on this as well: "Black communities at greater risk. Looking in the South reopening now for cash- poor communities and communities of colors is irresponsible."

They argue it is -- quote -- "a death sentence for many of us," African- Americans now making up 30 percent of the deaths in the pandemic, while they`re only 13 percent of the population.

So, Doctor, I`m curious your views, both medically and, if I may, ethically about policies that are pushing potentially for reopening, when we know that, if you can afford to and you`re in a good position, you may avoid it.

But if you`re not, you may be under more pressure or be stuck in a neighborhood where that risk rate is literally increasing. Can you walk us through that? And then I`d love the governor`s view as well, as a policy- maker.

HASELTINE: I would say the first thing is, everybody`s at risk. It doesn`t matter how rich you are, or where you live. You are at risk of getting this disease, and you have a risk of dying from this disease.

Everybody should internalize that message. There is no wall that`s going to protect you. You can run, but you can`t hide.

Second thing is, it is very much true that in this country you have great inequalities in access to medical care, access to social services. One of the burgeoning fields of public health today is social determinants of health.

We`re seeing it played out on a giant screen. Not only are the communities, the underserved communities, more dense, more likely to have infection, but they`re much less likely to have access to high-quality medical services that they need.

You heard a doctor from a great hospital saying, we`re getting better at saving people. Well, you better get to a good hospital, because, even in New York, the chance of surviving the ICU is 10 percent in some hospitals and 60 percent in others.

MELBER: Right.

(CROSSTALK)

HASELTINE: And you`re seeing that difference in the death rate.

MELBER: Let me bring in the governor before we run out of time.

Great point.

Governor?

WHITMAN: Well, I couldn`t agree more.

I mean, this is a very serious thing. We have got to be taking it seriously. Again, the message from the top is so mixed, when you see the vice president go to a hospital where everyone wears masks, and he doesn`t wear it. No wonder people go out without wearing a mask, because they think, well, it`s not going to affect me.

It is you. Everybody -- as the doctor points out, Mother Nature and these kinds of diseases don`t respect any kind of boundary. They could care less about geopolitical boundaries. They care less about your wealth. And, unfortunately, you have communities where you have people more densely packed, they don`t have -- the apartment buildings where people live in some of the poorer communities four and five to a room, you can`t have the six-foot distancing.

So we have got to be concerned about that. And this is something we need to work on when we have finally gotten to the stage where we`re not just talking about coronavirus.

MELBER: Governor Whitman, Dr. Haseltine, and Bill Kristol, thanks to each of you. Really important conversation, particularly the warnings.

We`re going to fit in a break.

But, as mentioned, we have a lot coming up. A Trump adviser saying the bad economic report now is just -- quote -- "yesterday`s news." That`s not how a lot of people in America are feeling.

I have the former economist for Joe Biden with us.

Also, we`re going to hear directly from people struggling to make ends meet right now and what it means to do everything you`re supposed to do, pay your taxes, work your job, and still struggle to put food on the table in America.

Also, as mentioned, the Iron Chef who says it`s not safe yet to reopen restaurants in Georgia. We`re going to get into that. It is not time, he says, for anyone to become a -- quote -- "sacrificial lamb."

And, later, we will hear from an ICU nurse who says protective gear is still a huge problem, and warning about a spike in cases if we don`t fix things. So we`re going to bring you everything you need to know.

I`m Ari Melber. And you`re watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: A new side of the pandemic`s devastating impact on our economy, the GDP measure of our activity shrinking 4.8 percent in the first quarter. That is a huge problem.

It is literally the worst such drop since the Great Recession; 50 percent of Americans also reporting losing their household income during the pandemic. That is tens of millions of us.

And the impact is not being spread across equally, like so many other economic issues. Sixty percent of nonwhite or minority Americans say they`re losing income. That`s compared with 43 percent of white Americans. The crisis also affects the younger, the poorer, and the less educated among us.

When you look at those groups, as you see here, majorities reporting lost income. The pictures also show the human toll behind all of these numbers. These are people, all kinds of people, basically from every walk of life in America, struggling to make ends meet, and lining up at food banks across the country.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re just grateful to be able to come and get, you know, food, because we have several children. And this is just a blessing for us. This is our first time coming.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got, like, a weak immune system. So, you know, this is better than going to the grocery store.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was recently eligible to go back to work. So I`m back in the field, working every day, so -- but just still trying to get food in the house is a struggle.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: And we want to tell you an additional piece of context for that reporting. The last person you just heard from there, she`s a certified nurse. So she`s working to help the sick. She is literally having to go get help herself to put food on the table while doing all of this.

Now, economists say the likely way forward will be painful. In fact, last night, we were speaking to Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who knows his way around business, about what he thinks needs to happen to help small business.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK CUBAN, OWNER, DALLAS MAVERICKS: Because demand is going to be so much less than it was before, just trying to follow some of these guidelines, these small businesses are going to lose more money by opening up for retail.

And nobody is giving them any help. Nobody is giving them any guidance. There should be support there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: And yet, if you buy that argument -- and there`s a lot of evidence about the lack of support -- we still have, in states like Georgia, Texas, and Tennessee, these plans to partially reopen the economy, which puts pressure on these businesses or at least makes for hard choices.

Meanwhile, people working in one of the hardest-hit industries, restaurants, also facing these very tough decisions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m just -- I`m not a health care worker. I am not comfortable asking people that I don`t know where they have been, who they have been in contact with.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, in our case, I mean, instead of having a tablecloth, we`re going to use butcher paper, and butcher protect the people because, once you remove it, it`s gone and it`s thrown in the trash.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Let`s get into it.

We have Iron Chef owner Hugh Acheson -- he`s decided not to reopen just yet -- as well as former Biden economist Jared Bernstein. They`re both here.

We will be back in just 30 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: We`re back with Hugh Acheson, the chef and restauranteur, owner of four different restaurants in Atlanta, also "Top Chef" judge and former Iron Chef.

And he recently wrote this piece, "No, Governor Kemp, I won`t open my Georgia restaurants on Monday," describing why he`s refusing to allow his employees to be used as what he sees as potentially -- quote -- "sacrificial lambs."

And we`re joined by Jared Bernstein. He was former chief economic adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, and knows a lot about recovery.

Good to see you both.

Let me start with you, Hugh. Why do you take this stance?

HUGH ACHESON, CHEF & RESTAURANTEUR: Well, I just don`t think we`re ready yet.

I think every business has a job to do in creating a manifesto and a hazard protocol, a hazard analysis plan to really document how they`re accepting guests, how touchless contact is done, how we can provide hospitality, how our spacing is done. That`s number one.

Number two is, what`s the economic viability of 50 percent seating in a restaurant? My margins are not very big to begin with. When you take away half of my revenue, it doesn`t really come up to much of an economic boon.

And then I just think that the governor in this state, Governor Kemp, refuses to open up the governor`s mansion for tours. But I can be on the front line? Yet they respond on their line with, it`s a epidemic. We shouldn`t be open for tours.

MELBER: Well, you`re hitting something that we have been reporting a lot on, which is whether there are these double standards and inequities being reinforced.

And we`re talking about life and death. You`re calling out Kemp. Of course, Kemp is adopting what might have been sort of the Trump 1.0 playbook, because he initially was supporting this kind of reopening.

Why is it important to you to confront the politicians directly?

ACHESON: I mean, I am not willing to have greedy restauranteurs and owners of small business pull people to the front lines whose rent depends on a paycheck in a world that does not have jobs right now, and they will be fired or have to quit, because they have to reopen these businesses.

I think that`s unfair to exploited workers right now, and people who are in really burdensome economic positions, and we`re just not ready yet.

MELBER: Yes.

Well, I appreciate you speaking out being so forthright.

I want to get Jared`s view on this.

I also, as we do in reporting, want to show what Kemp is saying -- quote -- he is claiming, look, he`s not -- quote -- "ordering" anyone to open. They`re businesses. He says -- quote -- "I didn`t order anybody to patronize these businesses. I just gave people the option."

That`s sort of his side of it.

Jared, walk us through this whole issue here.

JARED BERNSTEIN, FORMER CHIEF ECONOMIST TO VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Well, we have a an economy that`s in a deep recession.

We learned the -- just the tip of the iceberg today with the report that you mentioned earlier, with the GDP contracting almost 5 percent, but that was at the tail end of the last month of last quarter. In the current quarter, GDP is cratering at a rate that`s probably six times that.

So everything you just heard from Hugh seems to me to be a very spot-on point. There is some gradual opening. And, as we go along, particularly if we get our testing and tracing act together, which we`re alarmingly far from doing -- and that`s a real failure at the top -- the economy, I think, will go, as Andrew Cuomo says, from red to yellow to green, not from red to green. It`s got to go through yellow.

And that gradual reopening will occur in ways that are very hard to imagine. Who`s ever done anything like that before?

MELBER: Yes.

BERNSTEIN: But it`s essential that, as we do so, to avoid future flare-ups, we proceed with the kind of caution that you heard from Hugh, and I think other employers are hopefully feeling the same way.

(CROSSTALK)

BERNSTEIN: I want to say one other thing that you mentioned.

(CROSSTALK)

MELBER: Well, let me -- before we go to there, Jared...

(CROSSTALK)

BERNSTEIN: Sure, go ahead.

MELBER: Jared, I`m going to jump in. I just want to -- I will let you get to your thing.

But you were talking GDP. Before we leave that, this is what Larry Kudlow is saying, playing down these numbers that on paper look like the worst since the Great Recession or worse. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: GDP, what does it mean? What should people take from it?

LARRY KUDLOW, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: It`s yesterday`s news. I don`t want to belittle it, because the next quarter is going to be much worse.

You close the economy down for two months-plus, and we have done everything we can to provide liquidity and cash assistance and protect workers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: That`s a top economic adviser to the president. You have been in those kind of White House roles yourself.

So, I wanted to get your response to that. Plus, of course, tell us whatever else you wanted to get to.

BERNSTEIN: Sure.

Look, it`s not yesterday`s news to people who are struggling with this today, tomorrow and for months to come.

What Larry was saying was that the contraction in the first quarter was a tiny share of what is to come in terms of lost GDP. The unemployment rate is probably now closing in on 15 to 20 percent. So this is going to be as deep recession as the Great Depression.

But our hope, if we get -- if we do things correctly, is that it won`t last nearly as long. There is pent-up demand. There is another side to this. But that is as much an epidemiological questions as an economic one.

The point I wanted to make before -- and you alluded to this -- all of the inequality, the structural inequality, the racism, the structural gap between people of different means, people of different ethnic and racial backgrounds, the gender gap, all of these are playing out in this crisis in exactly the way you would predict.

People who are unable to insulate themselves from the kinds of infectious threats of COVID are, of course, experiencing much higher rates of infection and death. And those persons are disproportionately people of color, people with low income, non-college-educated workers.

They are also the folks who are disproportionately on the front lines trying to help us deal with this.

MELBER: Right.

BERNSTEIN: So one thing I don`t want to hear from White -- one thing I don`t want to hear from White House officials is, we have done all we can to help people being left behind, because we haven`t.

MELBER: Yes.

So, Hugh, take that to the practical side for us. How do you feel about that when you look at the people that you have employed, that you work with?

The restaurant industry is a huge part of American economy, but it is not one that always has, even in good times, the best deal for everyone, because people work hard and sometimes in gig jobs, sometimes at the margins.

ACHESON: Larry Kudlow just denounced that stuff wearing a tie that`s worth more than many people`s paychecks in the United States of America.

So let`s just make sure we understand that.

But, to the end of how we revive the economy, right now, the economy is not resting on my laurels. We`re not paying taxes because we`re not really active as a restaurant. A hundred percent of my people are on my payroll right now. They`re not on unemployment.

We successfully got PPP. That`s a very important step. We will open within three weeks. We want to be working. We want to be generating for our public school system and our tax base and the thriving of this economy.

I don`t want to do that, though, at the expense of people`s health who come into my restaurants, so I just need to do it on an assurance that I can make sure that my staff, my family, myself, and my -- the people I serve feed every day are all assured of safety.

MELBER: Hugh, I like the way you talk. You`re very clear.

And I got one more piece of business to do with Jared.

But, before I let you go, Hugh, we get to see these different backgrounds when we have people beaming in from home. I really like yours. Can you tell us what`s behind you?

I see cooked beans, if I`m reading that right, and maybe a sardine box? Tell us.

ACHESON: Yes, that`s anchovy paste over there, and then sardines and cooked beans. They`re just doodles I do.

(CROSSTALK)

MELBER: You draw those yourself?

ACHESON: I don`t have the fancy backdrop.

Like, last time, you had the New York doctor who had this palatial backdrop.

(LAUGHTER)

MELBER: No, I like it. Look, if you`re hand-drawing your background, next, you could do a skyline, which also is popular in television. We love it.

Hugh, I appreciate you joining us. I hope you come back, sir.

ACHESON: I`m selling this to Zoom.

(LAUGHTER)

MELBER: Good. A Zoom background.

Now, Jared, hang with me.

I got a little pop quiz for you, Jared. Are you ready?

(CROSSTALK)

MELBER: We can -- Hugh, thank you again.

BERNSTEIN: I`m ready. Hit me.

MELBER: Great.

Jared, just me and you here. I`m going to give you a quiz. Then I`m going to give you the answer. Guess what favorite artist of yours is coming to THE BEAT by the end of this week?

BERNSTEIN: 50 Cent?

MELBER: Bingo. You got it.

And you didn`t know this was happening. No one told -- my folks -- no one told you, right?

So, Jared Bernstein is on it. Jared Bernstein, for loyal viewers, he has all kinds of economics jokes that involve 50 Cent. And that is our tease. 50 will be here later this week.

And I wanted you to be the first, as well as everyone watching, to know, Jared.

BERNSTEIN: Make sure you tell him some of my jokes. I haven`t had a chance to regale him with them myself.

(LAUGHTER)

MELBER: I will tell you what. We will consider that.

And anyone watching, you can go on Twitter or Facebook, wherever you go, @THEBEATWITHARI or @Jared, and tell us, should we bring up Jared`s jokes or not? I think it`s a fair point.

You have been -- you have been all over him.

Jared Bernstein, thank you for the expertise and your good nature and good humor, sir. Thank you very much.

When we come back, we have a lot more in the show, including Joe Biden`s campaign fighting back here against reports in "The New York Times" about a sexual assault allegation against him and comments from Speaker Pelosi.

But before we get to that, a look inside the front lines, medical workers fighting this virus. We have a hero joining us live next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: As some states begin to reopen, medical experts warning that moving too quickly could backfire.

Dr. Anthony Fauci saying a second wave of coronavirus is inevitable, warning: "We could be in for a bad fall, bad winter if the right countermeasures are not put in place."

As the U.S. now accounts for one-third of the global cases, doctors and nurses around the country emphasize, medical facilities are still overwhelmed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have been an ICU nurse now for about 12, 13 years, but I have never seen patients that are this sick.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was not prepared to enter into an entire unit and multiple units with droves of relatively healthy patients who are now fighting for their life with COVID pneumonia.

I have seen families lose parents, brothers, sisters, multiple family members in one family. And it`s really terrible.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: I`m joined now by a front-line worker in this fight.

Amy Pacholk is a critical care nurse at Stony Brook University Hospital in Upstate New York.

Hello.

I will mention you`re currently stationed on an ICU floor that focuses on COVID-positive patients. Tell us what you are seeing.

AMY PACHOLK, CRITICAL CARE NURSE, STONY BROOK UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: So, like your previous guest had said, we`re seeing some of the sickest people we have ever seen before on multiple medications, unable to be removed from the ventilator.

These people are ventilated for anywhere from like four to six weeks. A normal person is intubated and ventilated for, like, 10 to 12 days who`s in critical condition.

So it`s sort of mind-blowing to deal with these people for multiple weeks, and not see them really making that much progress. We`re starting to form attachments to these people and their families, and it`s hard to see them continue to be in this state.

MELBER: Yes, I understand that.

I`m curious how your protective measures are going. We have seen a report I want to read. The lack of PPE can infect more than just health care workers, like yourself, who, of course, are on the front lines.

Quote: "Taking care of patients without the adequate materials would increase the risk of A health care worker inadvertently spreading infection, not only to co-workers and loved ones back home, but also from an infected patient to a non-infected patient."

How is it on the ground and what you`re seeing? How`s it going with having enough of the PPE?

PACHOLK: So, I specifically work in just a COVID unit.

We, at my institution, have isolated the COVID patients to just be solely in one place, so that, if we don`t act as a vector, the health care workers don`t act as a vector, if we deal with a positive patient and bring it to a negative patient.

So, with that being said, we`re wearing masks, gowns, gloves, helmets and such. In terms of our availability of equipment, our masks are more available now. Now we seem to be having a problem with gowns. There`s like an international bidding war for all of the gowns in this country.

And the states are bidding against one another. The hospitals are bidding against one another. So the nurses now are not only just having a problem with masks. They`re having a problem with gowns.

MELBER: We hear a lot about the broader policy and data.

Given your primary experience, when you deal with individual positive patients, how often would you say they know or have a decent idea of where they contracted it?

PACHOLK: I -- we actually trace back. We call the family. And we can kind of figure out where it came from.

It`s rare that we can`t figure out where it came from. Almost every single patient that I have had, we have been able to trace and figure out what the source was for our patients.

MELBER: Interesting.

And how are you doing? How are you holding up doing all this?

PACHOLK: Well, so I have been away from my family since about March 27, because I have been afraid to bring them this virus.

So I`m -- frankly, I`m a little bit lonely. I have some of my co-workers who stay in the hotel here with me. So, sometimes, in the evenings, we get together and we discuss, frankly, patients, different modalities, treatments, families, plans.

In terms of being on the unit, to be honest with you, when I`m working there, I actually feel better. When I wasn`t there, I was pretty anxious, because you don`t know what you`re going to expect, and you know that you`re going to have to encounter this kind of patient.

I would say, the first couple of days that you deal with people who are COVID-positive, you`re afraid. You`re afraid that you`re going to get a virus. You`re afraid that your equipment is inadequate.

Previously, before the CDC had changed all the guidelines, and there was a lack of equipment, whenever you dealt with a patient who had an airway droplet issue, you would just use your mask once and throw it in the garbage, after being in the room for 30 to 45 minutes.

MELBER: Right.

PACHOLK: And now we`re using them for the whole day. And that`s the standard.

MELBER: Yes. Yes.

PACHOLK: So, frankly, that`s a little worrisome, because, when you sweat and when you breathe, you make the mask moist.

And when that happens, it sort of prevents the mask from doing its job, protecting you.

MELBER: Copy.

All of that is important on-the-ground experience for us to learn about. So, thank you not only for sharing it with us, but, Amy, thank you for what you`re doing on the front lines as a health care worker.

PACHOLK: You`re welcome. It`s my pleasure.

MELBER: Thank you. And good luck.

We`re going to fit in a break. When we come back -- thank you.

We`re going to turn to news involving 2020, Joe Biden, the campaign.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: To developments in a story involving a sexual assault allegation against Joe Biden, which he denies.

A new person coming forward to vouch for the woman who made this accusation, the allegation by a former Senate aide to Biden, Tara Reade, who alleges that Biden sexually assaulted her in a Senate building in 1993.

"The New York Times" reported Reade -- quote -- "briefly worked as a staff assistant in Biden`s Senate office and said, in 1993, Biden pinned her to a wall and sexually assaulted her."

A spokesman for Biden says the allegation was false.

"The Times" reported -- quote -- "No other allegation about sexual assault surfaced in the course of reporting, nor did any former Biden staff members corroborate details of Reade`s allegation. `The Times` found no pattern of sexual misconduct by Biden."

The Biden campaign adamantly denies the entire account, stating -- quote -- "It is untrue. This absolutely did not happen," while Biden himself has not publicly addressed the allegation.

Now, what is the conclusion of what "The New York Times" found? Here`s how "Times" reporter Lisa Lerer described her own reporting:

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

LISA LERER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Tara mentions to me is that, at the time, she`d called a friend and told her the whole story.

So I tracked down the friend. And, in large part, she corroborates the story that Tara had told me. She tells me she told a friend in 2008, after Joe Biden had been picked as Barack Obama`s vice president, and she confirms that account and some of the things that Tara tells me.

QUESTION: Where does that leave you?

LERER: So, it leaves us with something, but certainly not enough to corroborate this entire story.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MELBER: That`s "The New York Times."

Now a new person is going on the record, by name, vouching for Reade, telling "Business Insider` that Reade told her the account of being assaulted around 1995 or `96, roughly two to three years after the alleged account.

Quote: "This happened, and I know it did because I remember her talking about it," is what this person said.

Now, "Business Insider" reports, the witness is Reade`s former neighbor, and adds that she is a Democrat and also intends to vote for Biden this year.

In Congress, top Democrats are standing with Biden, Senator Coons defending him just in the previous hour on MSNBC today, as did his former primary rival, Senator Gillibrand, and recent booster Congressman Clyburn.

Now, the way to learn about this kind of story is to address it, ask the questions, and listen to the evidence. We have been asking officials about the issue.

And here are some of the responses from another former Biden primary rival, Senator Klobuchar, and the top-ranking Democrat in government, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, from my recent interviews with them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think this case has been invited instigated. I know the vice president as a major leader on domestic abuse. I worked with him on that.

And I think that, again, the viewers should read the article. It was very thorough.

MELBER: There was an accusation of misconduct against Joe Biden. He has publicly denied it. He is the Democratic nominee.

Are you satisfied with his answer?

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): I am satisfied with his answer, yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: That is the state of this story right now.

And we will continue to report out the evidence as we get it.

Now, when we come back, we`re going to share something we have been doing around here sometimes, which is ending the hour with stories of hope, as well as overcoming the virus -- when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: And before we leave you tonight, let`s dig in to a little hope and some perseverance, the very first COVID patient at New York`s Mount Sinai leaving the hospital today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much. Good job.

(CROSSTALK)

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: And we`re cheering right along.

Rodrigo Soval (ph) first entered that hospital 53 days ago. He`s a 58-year- old marathon runner, lives in Chile, happened to be visiting friends in New York when he tested positive for this virus.

He was intubated, spent weeks in the ICU, and was cared for by some of the staffers you see right here. Today, he was actually the 500th COVID patient to be discharged from the hospital.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel very grateful. I thank God. I thank the hospital, Dr. Joseph Mathew, and all his team. And I also want to give a message of hope to everybody that is going through all this.

I want to tell everybody to just fight it all the way, because there`s light after the tunnel.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: There`s light after the tunnel.

That is an account from someone who clearly went through the tunnel.

And, you know, in life, as well as in the news, bad news travels fast. And we have been reporting a ton of it lately, but there is good news here, the people who do the work, who take the risks, who fight the fight in the hospitals, and, of course, the people who, like you just saw, persevere and live, healthy, and make it through. We wanted to show you that.

Now, one more fun thing, positive thing, earlier this very hour, I was talking to Jared Bernstein. We discussed some of his infamous dad jokes about economics and the rapper 50 Cent.

Here`s what we were talking about.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BERNSTEIN: But you know the rapper 50 Cent, right?

He`s -- his brother is actually an economist. His name is 50 Basis Points.

Well, it`s funny you should mention 50 Cent, because I thought, given recent increases in inflation, that his name was now 64 Cent.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

MELBER: Now, look, we all have different things we love.

I never told Jared to do this. He is doing this all by himself. Obviously, he feels inspired.

And, if you`re an economist and you are masterful at dad jokes, as he clearly is, maybe, yes, a musician or an artist with economics right in his name, half-a-dollar, appeals to you.

Anyway, Jared had no idea what I was going to ask him. He did guess correctly. 50 Cent will be on THE BEAT right here this Friday. We`re going to get into a lot of stuff. Will we get into the dad jokes? Well, only time will tell.

My thanks to Jared and 50 and everyone watching at home.

I hope you join us both tomorrow and Friday, if you want to see 50 here on THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER, 6:00 p.m. Eastern weeknights.

And 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