Atlanta Mayor TRANSCRIPT: 5/4/20, The Beat w/ Ari Melber

Guests: Ezekiel Emanuel, Nicholas Kristof, Keisha Lance Bottoms, Margaret Carlson, Howell Raines

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

We begin this week at a precarious time in our nation`s battle with this coronavirus pandemic. Many governors are pressing forward to reopen. Tonight, we can report the majority of states are reopen in some way.

The Trump administration now rocked by further bad news. We have reports on all of that tonight.

I`ll also be joined by Democratic mayor clashing with a Republican governor in her state.

We begin with this "New York Times" report causing heartburn at the White House, noting how, privately, the Trump administration`s internal projections were showing U.S. coronavirus deaths nearly doubling by June 1, plus 200,000 new cases by the end of the month, up from 25,000.

Donald Trump meanwhile, again revising his death estimate now saying that - - quote -- "hopefully," the U.S. would see under 100,000 people die. That is actually the fifth time in just two weeks that he`s made such a change, as MSNBC`s Steve Benen reported, a tweaking of the projected death toll that`s drawing criticism from independent experts, while the medical experts on Donald Trump`s own task force releasing numbers in real time that contradict the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: Our projections have always been between 100,000 and 240,000. American lives lost, and that`s with full mitigation and us learning from each other of how to social distance.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Look, we`re going to lose anywhere from 75,000, 80,000 to 100,000 people. That`s a horrible thing. We shouldn`t lose one person over this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: "The Washington Post" revealing that Donald Trump`s -- quote -- "desperate attempts" to reopen the country has been put the federal response at times in chaos.

And one of the motivating factors, they found, was Donald Trump`s hope for reelection, rather than what the urgent priorities would be for public health.

Take a look at this, insiders saying the administration built the guidelines on reopening, based on economic, rather than public health advice -- quote -- "cheering an economic revival, rather than managing a catastrophic health crisis."

Now, we all know the weather is going to continue to get warmer. People want to go outside. The question is how you can do that safely. And consider this. Health care workers who are closer to this than anyone warning about the implications of any further spike in cases.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOANNA WEGKOWSKI, HOLLYWOOD PRESBYTERIAN MEDICAL CENTER: There`s going to be a lot of nurses that want to leave the bedside. They`re going to want to get out of this environment and out of this atmosphere that is just draining us.

It`s mentally and physically taxing, and going home to our families and having the fear.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: We kick off tonight`s show with Pulitzer Prize winner "New York Times" columnist Nick Kristof, Margaret Carl -- Margaret Carlson, I should say, a columnist for The Daily Beast, and Howell Raines, the former executive editor of "The New York Times."

Nick Kristof, there is an obvious tension and balance here, particularly because some parts of the country have the ability to reopen with CDC guidelines with social distancing. There is a way to do it safely.

But there are a lot of places that are doing it even before the declines the Trump administration said would be best. What do you see out there?

NICHOLAS KRISTOF, COLUMNIST, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well, look, at the end of the day, I think we are going to need to relax distancing to some degree because the public is itchy, is ready to get out.

And I do think that there are parts of the country where community transmission is low enough that that is probably feasible. I also think -- I mean, epidemiologists tell me that going outside is probably a low enough risk that we maybe should ease some of those restrictions, including some of the beach restrictions.

But the problem is that it`s very hard to do this without adequate testing, without having good foresight about where the greatest risks are. And I think that, if we can`t do it because we don`t have enough swabs and reagent and can`t do enough diagnostic testing, we may have to do more sewage testing, so that we can know in a community where there are people, even if we can locate those in particular, but through the coronavirus and the sewage.

We may have to try alternatives like that.

MELBER: Howell?

HOWELL RAINES, FORMER EXECUTIVE EDITOR, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Ari, as you mentioned at the top, I think this is a significant day in this long- running drama that we have been watching.

The figures from the Johns Hopkins researchers that "The Times" released today, I think, put a new frame around the big picture that we all need to be watching. And that frame is this.

We have known for three years that this president was incompetent and reckless. But the policies that he`s announcing and pursuing today for this hasty reopening, absent scientific evidence, are immoral.

And I think that is an important distinction. And I`m reminded that thousands of Americans who are alive today will be dead by the end of the summer or dead by the end of the year because of this alteration in policy.

Now, life-and-death decisions are part of the presidential job. FDR knew before D-Day that thousands of young Americans would die on those beaches in France. As it turned out, 2,811 American service people died on D-Day.

Now, this new policy or this hasty policy means that we are looking at using -- losing that many, close to 3,000, in a single day, by the end of this month. Now, FDR will be remembered for saying, you have nothing to fear but fear itself. Harry S. Truman will be remembered in history for saying, the buck stops here.

This man is going to be remembered in history for saying, you can inject Lysol. And you would have to ask why he would persist in this course. He is trying to restart the economy, regardless of the cost in human lives, because as Phil Rucker and his colleagues in "The Post" reported, he wants to set him up for the 2020 election.

Now, in that regard, let`s look at what we know. We know that six out of 10 Americans disapprove of this president. We know that an inelastic four out of 10 Americans do approve of his actions.

That means he can be defeated if Democrats run the race that is waiting to be run. And the only strategy that the Republicans have is to demonize Joe Biden in the next couple of months. That means Joe Biden has got to come out of his basement.

And I`d like to urge him to read this -- I`m sure he has -- David Axelrod`s article and David Plouffe`s article in "The New York Times" this morning, which says that this election will be decided on social media.

And they say that the Trump White House is lightyears ahead of the Democrats in manipulating social media. That means the Democrats have to get serious on behalf of the six out of 10 Americans who want a new leader to make sure that the tail doesn`t wag the dog this November.

MELBER: Hmm.

All very interesting points. Certainly true that President Trump, then candidate Trump, did very well online in a number of ways and had a high return on investment. Joe Biden here trying to play catchup on that.

We have seen some -- something from him many days, including, Margaret, these virtual interviews and town halls he`s tried to do. On the way the president is moving the numbers. Margaret, I just wanted to get your reaction to something that folks may have seen or heard about, which was in this town hall setting over the weekend.

Take a look at the president talking to Bret Baier.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS: That number has changed, Mr. President. You said it was 60,000. You said, 60,000, 70,000.

TRUMP: It`s going up. No, it`s going up.

BAIER: Now you`re at 80,000.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: I used to say 65,000. And now I`m saying 80,000 or 90,000.

And it goes up. And it goes up rapidly. But it`s still going to be, no matter how you look at it, at the very lower end of the plane, if we did the shutdown.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Margaret?

MARGARET CARLSON, COLUMNIST, THE DAILY BEAST: How casual he is about saying, oh, up, it could go down, I`m admitting now it`s going up.

What we know is that whatever model you look at, the numbers are going up. And Nick said, there`s a way for us to reopen safely. And Howell says the way -- the president is doing is immoral. And they`re both right.

Whatever the numbers are, Trump is going to say or Jared is going to say, it`s a success story. That, we know already, because, unlike President Truman, he doesn`t say, the buck stops here. He says two things. He says, I`m totally in charge. And then he says, I am not responsible.

The performance in front of the Lincoln Memorial, someone said -- not me -- but it`s the second worst performance Lincoln ever attended.

So disgraceful to say the things so offhandedly that the president said about the sick and dying in the shadow of Lincoln.

MELBER: Hmm.

You talk about that and think about comparing different presidents` approaches.

Back to you, Margaret. I do want to play something we put together, which shows sort of the way the president has struggled to speak to any of this in addressing the nation over time. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: It`s something that we have tremendous control over.

You`re talking about the virus? No, that`s not under control for any place in the world.

The president of the United States calls the shots.

Over the next very short period of time, it`s going to be up to the governors. We`re going to work with them. We`re going to help them, but it`s going to be up to the governors.

It`s going to go. It`s going to leave. It`s going to be gone. It`s going to be eradicated.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIAID DIRECTOR: It`s inevitable that we will have a return of the virus, or maybe it never even went away.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Margaret, what policy challenge does that leave for folks?

(CROSSTALK)

MELBER: Yes, go ahead.

CARLSON: Well, that the politicians and Brad Parscale, his campaign manager, are now as influential or more influential than Tony Fauci.

It`s been clear for a while, but it`s now completely obvious. And one of the reasons a week ago he`s urging governors to reopen the schools, which is one of the most foolhardy things he could possibly do for another month of schooling, was because he wants to be out there.

He wants -- the only way he can win, in addition to bringing back the economy, is by rallies. He has to be able to rile up people. And if you look at his numbers where he -- Pennsylvania, where he won, a lot of it was where he`d run up an 80 percent margin where he held rallies.

He cannot win without that. There`s not a way that Trump can do that. And he knows that. His campaign managers know. And they have the upper hand now.

Any thought that he was listening to Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx, I think we should put aside. He is just now only thinking about that.

MELBER: Nick?

KRISTOF: I mean, his -- the fundamental problem is that this is going to continue.

And it`s not as if it`s suddenly going to go away in June or in July or in the fall. If anything, we may get a second wave that is worse than this one, as happened in 1918.

And we don`t have therapies that are particularly effective. Remdesivir may help at the margin. And so it`s hard to see how, in May, we don`t lose another 50,000 people to this. And, in general, the things that we are likely to do in terms of easing up on the economy are, if anything, going to lead to more infections.

We may get a little better at handling them. But infections will increase. And so I think that, for the rest of this year, we are going to be facing wave after wave.

And President Trump, I think, has finally met a match where he can`t bully it, where he can`t lie his way around it, in addition to being completely unable to manage it.

MELBER: Yes.

And, Howell, just briefly before we move...

(CROSSTALK)

MELBER: Margaret, I`m on a -- sorry. I`m on a little bit of a tape delay.

I`m going go to Howell and then Margaret.

But what -- the last thing I wanted to tee up then is, what does it mean for America if dozens of officials are telling "The Washington Post" that the president only looks at this as a -- quote, unquote -- "economic," rather than public health crisis?

We`re running a little over on time, but I will go Howell and then last word to Margaret.

RAINES: Well, I think it means that the professionals within the U.S. government, military and civilian, at every important position, know that the ship does not have a rudder and that the man in the pilot house seems to be having a breakdown.

And they are leaking, I think, as a matter of public service.

MELBER: Hmm.

Margaret?

CARLSON: Trump is now sending thoughts and prayers. He`s not listening. There is no rudder.

His tweets today were astonishingly puerile and juvenile and irresponsible. And that`s where we are

MELBER: Sobering, but important to put it all out there for people to understand.

Margaret Carlson, Howell Raines and Nick Kristof, my thanks to each of you.

We have a lot more in tonight`s show, including the scrutiny of Donald Trump`s new claim that he didn`t really get good briefings about all this. We have a fact-check on that.

We also have a top medical voice who has advised Bill Gates about infectious diseases long before the COVID crisis.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL GATES, CO-CHAIR, BILL AND MELINDA GATES FOUNDATION: A wakeup call to get ready.

If we start now, we can be ready for the next epidemic.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: And when we come back, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms is here on the risks of reopening and how she`s clashing with the Republican governor in her state.

And later tonight, a very special guest I`m going to tell you all about when we come back.

Stay with me. You`re watching THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Much of America is starting to reopen right now, this week, 32 states offering at least partial ways for people to return to life and work.

Ground zero for all this might be Georgia, where the Republican governor, Kemp, pushed the state to reopen last week, drawing criticism from President Trump, who was contradicting his own past calls to reopen by knocking Kemp.

You can also see movie theaters and malls there filling with people in lines. There`s a video from Atlanta making the rounds where you can see people setting off fireworks and watching a stunt driving event.

So, people are living. Many were also waiting in line for the new Jordan sneakers at this Atlanta mall. But more activity obviously brings more risk.

In fact, exposure to the virus in Georgia has spiked 40 percent since the governor reopened the state. And the implications are broader. The Trump administration has been raising the U.S. death estimate to nearly double by June in that blockbuster "New York Times" report that we were discussing.

So, right now, we turn to an official in the middle of this dilemma, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who opposes Governor Kemp`s policy, while also stressing that she continues to seek a working relationship with him.

I know you`re very busy. Thanks for making time for us tonight.

KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS (D), MAYOR OF ATLANTA, GEORGIA: Oh, thank you for having me.

MELBER: Sure.

What are you advising your constituents, your citizens to do in your city, as you still are in a bit of a clash over policy with the governor?

BOTTOMS: So, Ari, I will tell you, I was so taken aback this weekend when I saw so many people out, that I stopped for a moment.

And I asked my husband, in all seriousness, had I missed something about COVID-19? Because there were so many people out, I thought that maybe something had changed, that maybe this still was not a highly contagious virus that thousands of people were dying from each day.

And the reality is this. In Georgia, people -- a lot of people didn`t get past, it`s OK go back out and it`s business as usual. I think many people heard what they wanted to hear. And I think we saw that reflected across the country.

But my message is consistent. I am -- I am still encouraging people to stay home. And, listen, I get it. I have an 18-year-old in my house who is going stir-crazy. It`s beautiful in Georgia right now.

But the reality is that this is still a highly contagious virus. And especially in the African-American community, it is often deadly.

MELBER: I want to play a little bit of something we have been doing throughout our reporting, which is listening to these front-line workers. Obviously, you work with and oversee many of them, as running a city.

Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AMY PACHOLK, STONY BROOK UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: At the place where I work, the doctors, the nurses, the respiratory therapists, the nursing assistants, the pharmacists, et cetera, will all have to take a pay cut because people aren`t doing what`s right.

And the people that aren`t doing things that are right all work in Washington. There is no reason that the states who have had these super sick people should have to suffer.

We have suffered enough.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Curious your response?

BOTTOMS: Yes, I think it`s incredibly selfish for those of us who don`t have to risk our lives each and every day to put people in a position where they`re having to risk their lives and make sacrifices, whether it be economically or otherwise.

When we look at other countries and we look at how they have gotten to the other side of this, it`s been very simple. They stayed in to flatten occur. And we`re nowhere near there in Georgia. Our numbers each day are running roughly between 25 and nearly 30 percent increase between those testing positive and those who are dying from seven days previously.

So, even by the president`s own standards, we aren`t there. And it continues to concern me that we are going down what I feel to be a very reckless path.

I have spoken with the governor. We have agreed to disagree on this. But I think the fact that we are testing this, and we will wait and see in two to three weeks, we don`t get a do-over with this.

MELBER: No.

BOTTOMS: Testing this means we will see if more people get sick.

MELBER: Well, and that`s why we highlighted the 40 percent jump we have seen and what`s going on and following what you`re dealing with there in Atlanta and across Georgia.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, thank you so much.

BOTTOMS: Thank you.

MELBER: Appreciate it.

Now I want to turn to a fact-check I mentioned to you we were going to do earlier in the show. And this involves something very important, as we deal with these tough times. I`m talking about accountability.

President Trump now on defense over what is clearly one of the greatest scandals of his very controversial presidency, the mishandling of the pandemic, the spreading of misinformation, now backing away from the medical briefings that many experts argued, with Trump`s involvement, were doing as much harm as good.

Now, tonight, I can tell you, the White House is arguing Donald Trump just didn`t know how bad this would all get. New reports, though, show Trump was briefed twice verbally about the coronavirus spreading back in January and told it was going to spread globally.

Trump now downplaying that briefing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: On January 23, I was told that there could be a virus coming in, but it was of no real import. In other words, it wasn`t, oh, we have got to do something, we have got to do something.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: It`s important to ask the question. That question clearly was posed there in that FOX News appearance, but the answer is lacking.

So, let me show you the facts. This is another example of why reporting and facts matter. Donald Trump`s clearly pushing back, because, if people learn he blew off these warnings, it may shape public views of him and whether he`s fit for reelection.

And here are the facts. They show, across January and February, Trump got over 10 more warnings about the coronavirus in those very important daily briefings.

Now, that`s counting up secret briefings behind the scenes. Then you can add in the public warnings, and it actually gets even worse for the president.

Now, because this is a big debate in the country, I want to go a little deeper on one example of a public warning. Take February 25. This headline says it all: "CDC officials warn of coronavirus outbreaks in the U.S."

And let me tell you exactly what that "New York Times" story read like, because it`s really striking to think about it now. We looked it up. And it says -- quote -- "Federal health officials starkly warn the new coronavirus will almost certainly spread in the U.S, and that hospitals, businesses and schools should begin making preparations."

And then came the now infamous warning from the doctor in charge of a CDC immunization center, saying -- quote -- "It`s not so much of a question of if this will happen anymore, but rather more of a question of exactly when will this happen"

That`s Dr. Nancy Messonnier. She also added in that same public warning that cities should start planning for social distancing measures, like dividing school classes into smaller groups or closing schools altogether. Meetings should be canceled, she said. Businesses should arrange for employees to work from home -- end quote from that "New York Times" report.

It was all right there in public. And you know who was listening? A lot of stock traders, because the markets plunged that day. They heard the same public warnings that Donald Trump now wants you to believe didn`t exist.

Now, what do you do when a pandemic is headed your way? Well, you know what? There were warnings about that, too, from the CDC, like I just quoted, from other doctors, publicly and privately, from Bill Gates, who personally lobby Donald Trump on this issue and publicly outlined the challenge facing any country looking at this kind of pandemic.

Here he was in 2015:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GATES: The problem was that we didn`t have a system at all. In fact, there are some pretty obvious key missing pieces.

We didn`t have a group of epidemiologists ready to go. And a large epidemic would require us to have hundreds of thousands of workers. It didn`t get into many urban areas. And that was just luck.

So, next time, we might not be so lucky. It would spread throughout the world very, very quickly. If we start now, we can be ready for the next epidemic.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: These are the kind of warnings the president is now telling everyone with a straight face don`t exist.

This may be the kind of fact-check he doesn`t want you to see.

And let me be crystal clear. We`re talking about public health, not ideology. Being prepared is not about getting points for being right. It`s about being prepared, so you can save lives.

And the people who warned about this were drawing on experts like my next guest, who helped literally write the infectious disease blueprint for the Bill Gates Foundation.

We`re going to get into that when we`re back in just 30 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: We`re back with Dr. Ann Marie Kimball, an expert on infectious disease.

As mentioned, she designed the strategy for the Gates Foundation, also is a founder of an emerging infectious network that deals with how these illnesses can spread from Asia, and joins us from my native hometown of Seattle.

Thank you for being here. Thanks for the work that you do.

What is your response when the president claims there was not specific warnings back then.

DR. ANN MARIE KIMBALL, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON: There were definitely warnings.

I mean, just if you start with when China first alerted about it an atypical pneumonia, then they closed down the entire Hubei province. You don`t do that unless something very, very serious is going on. And the intelligence briefings were very clear for the president.

But let`s go back a little bit, because, actually, we have known since the late 1990s, of the pandemic risk. We saw it with the H1N1 pandemic of influenza. We saw it with SARS in 2003.

So, this has been something that many public health experts, especially at CDC, have been alerting for a long time.

MELBER: Yes, and this is a big part of the work that the public health wing of the Gates Foundation focuses on, as mentioned.

Here was Mr. Gates speaking about this, about how early action could have been taken, specifically on the virus. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GATES: Well, many countries were -- listened to what was being said in January and took action.

What you ended up with in the places where you`re seeing massive deaths is, you had community spread, and, in February, you didn`t jump on it.

We just need to take now this desire to open up and say, OK, how do you build the testing system that will minimize the deaths?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: How important is it to apply these lessons now, given that the misinformation, misunderstanding or ignoring of these warnings in January seems to have put the U.S. on the track to be the leader in the death toll around the world?

That some experts are saying that was not inevitable -- that is partly a consequence of policy.

KIMBALL: It`s absolutely a consequence of policy.

It`s very important to still do social distancing. And let me just bring you up to speed a little bit. Every state is looking at their state and local capacity to do exactly that.

How do we ramp up our contact tracing and testing, to the point we need it, so we can loosen restrictions? In my state of Washington, your home state, the governor has announced the recruitment of 1,500 contact tracers.

He`s struggling to get the reagents and the swabs from the federal government. What you have seen is a lack of leadership on supply chain. So, the states have been competing with one another on the open market to try and get the materials they need to be able to safely open up and test.

MELBER: Finally, let me briefly play a little bit of a different approach by the last president . Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There may and likely will come a time in which we have both an airborne disease that is deadly.

If and when a new strain of flu, like the Spanish Flu, crops up five years from now or a decade from now, we have made the investment. And we`re further along to be able to catch it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: I have got about 30 seconds now, but what is, in your view, the key investment that should be made now for the future on this?

KIMBALL: The key investment is twofold.

First of all, we need to create trust internationally with our partners, because this is a global pandemic. We need to re-fund the World Health Organization. And we absolutely need to rebuild the trust that will allow us to manage this on a global scale. That`s element number one.

Element number two, domestically, is the states need to be supported to continue social distancing until it`s safe for the people. And your example of Georgia is going to be a classic case of exactly why you don`t open up when you`re still having a curve going up.

MELBER: Hmm. I -- we hope -- we hope it`s not the worst-case scenario out there, but, as you say, there`s a lot of indications of why that`s problematic.

Dr. Kimball, thank you so much. I hope you will come back.

Up ahead, we have a nurse who many are calling a hero for the way she lift her patients` spirit.

But, first, there are new questions about, what does the road to a vaccine look like? Why is that so exciting to people who want to find the best way out of this?

Dr. Zeke Emanuel is back with us when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Welcome back.

Experts say the most comprehensive way to end a pandemic like this is finding a reliable vaccine. And that could take well over a year. That`s something the president`s own advisers have also said about the timeline, including while he`s literally in the room with them, but Donald Trump now touting as quick a timeline as, in his mind, seven months.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We are very confident that we`re going to have a vaccine at the end of the year, by the end of the year, have a vaccine.

I just want to get a vaccine that works. I really don`t care. If it`s another country, I will take my hat off to them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: I`m joined now by Dr. Zeke Emanuel, who served as a top health policy adviser to President Obama. He`s a nationally recognized expert on medical ethics and also co-host of the podcast "Making the Call."

Thanks for being here.

DR. EZEKIEL EMANUEL, FORMER WHITE HOUSE SPECIAL ADVISER: Great to be with you, Ari.

MELBER: At the risk of oversimplifying, I think we could all agree on one thing right now, which is, what do we want? A vaccine. When do we want it? Now.

But you are a medical expert. Walk us through the road to that. And does the president have any business claiming by end of the year?

What is your view?

EMANUEL: So, we have got a couple of vaccines, maybe a few more, in testing with humans. These preliminary tests are safety test to see if, in fact, the vaccine doesn`t cause harm.

And your viewers need to understand there is a chance that a vaccine against coronavirus can cause harm. There`s what`s called antibody dependent enhancement that can actually recruit more viruses in, and it can actually hurt people. It would be dreadful to give healthy people something that could eventually actually hurt them.

So there`s going to be a lot of testing. We have about 115 candidate vaccines that are in all stages of development. And we`re going to go into people. So then you have got to do safety testing. That will take three, four months, because you have to inject it to people and then watch them for a while.

You`re also going to monitor to see if they actually produce antibodies. If they produce antibodies, people are arguing that we should go directly to a randomized trial. That is a trial of people getting injected with the vaccine, and some people getting injected with placebo and see who gets infected from this.

That also takes time. First of all, that`s probably going to be a trial that has more than 10,000 people in it. They then have to be become exposed to the virus. They have to -- some will get infected with COVID, and some won`t or will be protected, we hope.

And that takes time. You have to see how long people react. So each one of these steps takes time, enrolling people, watching them to see if they get infected, watching to see that they don`t develop COVID.

You can`t rush biology. And that`s -- that part of it is going to take another minimum four to six months. So you`re just adding it up, and...

(CROSSTALK)

MELBER: Doctor, when you say you can`t rush biology, that`s a little bit like saying you can`t hurry love, right?

Do we still have the doctor? Or did I lose you for...

(LAUGHTER)

EMANUEL: Well, I guess it`s analogous.

You need the body to react to the vaccine, the body to develop antibodies, as well as other immune cells, and then the body has to be challenged by an external exposure to COVID, and see if people don`t get infected.

MELBER: Right.

EMANUEL: And that all -- the body takes its time with biology. Even -- this isn`t digital, where you can just in literally the speed of light create an answer.

We have to wait for how biological systems like the immune system actually respond.

MELBER: Makes sense.

And just briefly though, the idea of getting it within, say, two years, given what we know about the process, you think that could happen?

EMANUEL: It`s possible, but almost all those statements about it`s going to happen within 12 months or 18 months have a sort of catchphrase, the fine print that says, if everything goes perfectly.

MELBER: Right.

EMANUEL: And it`s not often that everything goes perfectly. You need a good safety result with the antibodies up. Then the vaccine has to actually work with the antibodies up and prevent people from getting infected with COVID.

And, simultaneously, we will have produced a lot. And, again, it depends on which vaccine, how easy it is to produce. And not all the vaccines are similarly easy to produce.

A lot of people have been focusing on this Oxford vaccine, where they take RNA from the spike that represents a spike protein, put it in a cold virus that isn`t infectious in people, and then inject that.

Well, it turns out that`s not so easy to manufacture.

MELBER: Right.

EMANUEL: So you could have a vaccine that works, but making hundreds of millions of copies will be a big challenge.

So, each step has its own challenges. If it goes perfectly, if the naked RNA vaccines work, which are the simplest ones, that`s probably the fastest path.

MELBER: Right.

EMANUEL: But we have never produced a viral vaccine that way.

MELBER: Right.

And you`re educating us on that process, which does help us get -- give some metrics for when we hear these things, be they from politicians or whomever, what the actual road would look like.

I have some fun family business before we let you go. These have been hard times. We have been relying on you a lot.

But take a look. We have got an Emanuel family picture, because our viewers have heard you more and more, have noticed, well, you`re not the only manual who worked for President Obama. So did Rahm.

Ari Emanuel in this picture is a pretty successful what they call a super agent. And my only question for you, for viewers who`ve noticed this, yes, it is the same Emanuel family, we can confirm.

Who is your mother most proud of?

(LAUGHTER)

MELBER: I`m guessing it`s you, the doctor.

(LAUGHTER)

EMANUEL: My mother is -- as she likes to say, she hates us all equally.

(LAUGHTER)

EMANUEL: One of the great things about my mother is, she loves us all equally. And, sometimes, that can be pretty minimal, and, sometimes, it can be just smothering, it`s so wonderful.

When I -- when Rahm was in the White House, it was Rahm all the time.

(CROSSTALK)

MELBER: Look, all I was going to say is, we could just tell...

EMANUEL: Yes?

MELBER: ... from looking at the three of you, obviously, your mother and father did a great job.

And I can only imagine the intellectual zingers at that dinner table. And we wanted to have a light note on that, amidst all these stories times,

Dr. Emanuel, as always, we appreciate your expertise, sir.

EMANUEL: Thank you for that little interruption. It`s nice to see that picture.

MELBER: There you go. We feel the same way.

Thank you, Doctor.

We`re going to fit in a break. But, when we come back, we have something else we want to share with everyone, the story of an actual hero on the front lines trying to bring a little bit of joy to patients going through tough times.

And later night. I have a very special guest, as we get into, what does it mean to have art and community during these times?

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: We want to tell you about a nurse in New York, Kaity Egan, bringing joy to her patients at the Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Queens by singing over her intercom.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(SINGING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Egan says that these makeshift medical concerts are a way to connect, to have a moment of positivity during these tough times.

It`s something we wanted to show you, as we look beyond just the grim headlines that we cover.

Now, when we come back, I have something very special that involves Seth Meyers, Toni Morrison, and a very special guest.

Stay with me.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Welcome back.

Facing down a public health crisis, what is the role of artists? Sounds like kind of a tough question, but the author Toni Morrison gave an answer that we think applies right now.

She said, when facing a moment that she found politically and morally disappointing, that is precisely when artists go to work. She wrote: "There`s no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language," she wrote. "That is how civilizations heal."

It`s something that we like to keep in mind, because this is a show that tries to keep an eye on culture and music.

And it brings me to something I wanted to share with you, because I just spoke recently with Melissa Etheridge, the great rocker, about what she`s been up to.

Let`s take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MELBER: And now we turn to Grammy an Oscar winner Melissa Etheridge. Tough times, but very nice to see you.

MELISSA ETHERIDGE, MUSICIAN: What a pleasure to see you. Yes, these are tough times, but we`re all doing what we can.

MELBER: We`re doing what we can. And being informed and taking the precautions is one piece of it.

But people`s mental, spiritual health, especially as this is long-term, is another piece of it. As you and I know, because you have joined us here on THE BEAT before, we both love music in our own ways, you, with talent, me without.

(LAUGHTER)

MELBER: I am, like everybody else, just a fan.

Why did you think that music would be such an important thing this week? Tell us about what you`re doing.

ETHERIDGE: Well, you have an appreciation for talent. And that`s all that`s really needed.

You know what, when I realized what was happening here, when I realized that the concerts were going to be canceled, that my future plans were in danger and changing, and I realized I wouldn`t be able to reach the fans that I love to reach, I really wanted to do something, mostly for my own mental health.

I love -- it`s good for my mental health to get in front of people and play and sing. And it`s one of the -- it`s my biggest joys. So I decided to -- on Monday, I said, look, I`m going to do this every day, every single day, because it gives me something to do every day. I get to wash my hair, get dressed and stuff. So, we are isolating here.

And it`s -- you know, it`s really letting us know how important human contact is. So we have got thousands of people coming online every day on Facebook 3:00, and it`s really -- it`s doing my heart good.

MELBER: I love that. What kind of reaction are you getting?

ETHERIDGE: Oh, it`s great. I have got people from Australia, from Belgium, England, and Texas and all kinds of strange places.

They`re all -- they all check in at once. And it gives us a feeling of connection. This whole thing actually should be letting us know how connected we really are, that what happens in another country does affect us, and coming together globally. And music has always been a way to do that. Music is -- music heals.

It always has been. I`m so grateful to be able to create music for people.

MELBER: What does it mean to you, as an artist, to do it live?

Because anyone can say, well, we have more access to both music and content than ever before. So, obviously, anyone can say, you know what? I`m going to put on a little Melissa Etheridge while I do my hand sanitizer and look after my kids if the schools are closed or whatever.

(LAUGHTER)

MELBER: And yet it`s so different when you know it`s live, right?

ETHERIDGE: Oh, yes. That`s the whole reason that my concerts have been doing so well for 30 years, because people enjoy the -- going to see a show, going -- being surrounded by people and experiencing your favorite songs or whatever it might be and sing it.

That experience, you cannot get that off of a recorded piece or just watching. To be there in the moment, to let people know that I`m here right now at this moment connecting with them, I think that`s a human need.

MELBER: And yet the other side of this -- we have been talking a lot about the positivity. I don`t want to ignore the impact. We talked about restaurant workers and people in bars and low-income.

Most musicians are not global touring icons, that most people are not Melissa Etheridge level, right? And I wanted to ask you about how this is all affecting both musicians, artists and people in the industry in general.

We will put up one report from, of course, Rolling Stone. Concert business losing literally, they`re estimating, billions, cancellations most severe on -- quote -- "smaller-scale operators."

ETHERIDGE: Oh, yes.

MELBER: And there are insurance policies that won`t necessarily cover people`s losses in this situation.

ETHERIDGE: Yes.

MELBER: What are you seeing and hearing from all the people you know in this field who are going to be affected?

ETHERIDGE: Yes, it`s really difficult, because these are really talented people from the musicians, from my band, the musicians that I work with, who are not going to get a paycheck for the next few months, to the roadies who are highly skilled sound operators, lighting operators, guitar technicians, drum technicians, who can`t work from home. They`re not going to get paid.

So there`s a lot of people taking a big hit, not only just me as an artist. I`m going to have to start thinking about bills myself. We sort of grow and rely on, OK, this is my time to make money. This is what I do. And, yes, I have been blessed, but there`s a lot of people taking a big hit. And the theatergoers and restaurants around the theaters, and just... MELBER: Sure.

ETHERIDGE: Yes, it`s a whole lot of...

MELBER: Yes.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MELBER: Melissa Etheridge walking us through what she and her artists and the people she works is facing. We wanted to show you a little bit of that conversation.

I also want to let you know, tonight, on Instagram, I`m going to speak live with Kim Osorio, a hip-hop journalist and a really great person.

And that`s going to be tonight, I.G. Live. Check us out @AriMelber.

And, tomorrow, Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House of Representatives, is on THE BEAT. So, I hope you will join us tomorrow on THE BEAT with Speaker Pelosi live.

Keep it right here, right now, on MSNBC.

  THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END