ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: As always, thanks for watching THE BEAT with Ari
One programming note, tomorrow, Lester Holt will be anchoring a live
special on the outbreak of the coronavirus across all NBC networks. That`s
tomorrow night right here on MSNBC.
Thank you, as always, and keep it right here on MSNBC.
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: And good evening, I`m Steve Kornacki in New
The federal government continues right now to mobilize against the rapidly
spreading pandemic as the coronavirus grinds this country to a virtual
standstill. The first confirmed case now in West Virginia, it means the
virus has reached every state in the country, totaling almost 8,000
confirmed cases nationwide as of tonight, and that number is climbing. That
is the most concerning part of this.
The rate at which the virus seems to be spreading, according to data from
MSNBC, the number of cases is currently increasing by an average of 30
percent a day. That number can accelerate as testing becomes more widely
Stepping up his response today, President Trump invoked the Defense
Production Act. It`s a wartime authority that, quote, allows him to force
American businesses to produce materials in the national defense, such as
ventilators and medical supplies for healthcare workers. In so doing, Trump
said the country is now on a wartime footing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Do you consider America to be on a wartime footing in terms of
fighting this virus?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I do, I actually do. I`m
looking at it that way.
It`s in a sense a wartime president. I mean, that`s what we`re fighting. I
mean, it`s a very tough situation here. You have to do things, you have to
close parts of an economy that six weeks ago were the best they`ve ever
been. We had the best economy we`ve ever had. And then one day you have to
close it down in order to defeat this enemy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Trump also announced that he`s dispatching two Navy vessels in
the next week to serve as hospitals on east and west coasts. While that
move is intended to ease the burden on medical facilities by treating non-
coronavirus patients, the ships lack medical crews and will take some time
to staff up.
Meanwhile, financial market today took another beating, a decline by over 6
percent. The Dow dropping under 20,000 points for the first time since
February 2017. That means that nearly all of the gains made so far during
the Trump presidency have effectively been wiped out in just the last few
When it comes to confronting the health crisis, the administration has been
spurred to action in part because of a dire scientific report by Professor
Neil Ferguson, one of the world`s leading epidemiologists from Imperial
College in London. And among other things, Ferguson projected in his report
that, quote, 2.2 million people in the United States could die if more
Here is what he told NBC`s Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel in an
exclusive interview today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD ENGEL, MSNBC CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: How far behind is the
United States compared to Italy or other European countries that have seen
pretty big outbreaks? Are we talking days, weeks?
NEIL FERGUSON, EPIDEMIOLOGIST: So I think some areas of the United States
are probably a week or two behind Italy. Italy is the first affected
European country, the first one. We think transition started there in mid-
January or so. Compared to the United States with countries like Germany
and France, I think, again, the United States is bigger, but the worst
affected area of the United States probably very comparable to what`s
happening in France, the U.K. and elsewhere.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: I`m joined now by Congressman Adriano Espaillat, Democrat from
New York, Yasmeen Abutaleb, Healthcare Reporter for The Washington Post,
and Michael Osterholm, Director of the Center for Infectious Disease
Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. Thanks to all of you
for being with us.
Michael, let me start with you. So much talk here of flattening the curve,
the expression we keep hearing. The curve though right now is going up and
it`s going up dramatically here in this country. We have the number of new
cases there. The acceleration there, 30 percent a day right now.
I am told this is not all bad news. This partly reflects just the more
widespread availability of testing. As you have that, you`re going to get
more positive tests. But how high, that line on the screen right there, how
high do you think that`s going to get, number of new cases? How high do you
think that`s going to get before it can be flattened?
MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR INFECTIOUS DISEASE RESEARCH,
UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA: Well, first of all, let me just say that what
we`re doing right now is just taking a grab sample of people inside the
community to find out how many are infected. Right here in our own State of
Minnesota, we are very limited in testing and many people who should be
tested with compatible illness are not getting tested. So, Again, of these
numbers, why they surely do show that there`s a lot of transmission going
on in our communities, they don`t really give us an idea what`s going up or
In terms of where this will end up, first of all, you have to understand
this is going to be a series of rolling outbreaks. This is not just not
going to be a one big peak and done. We expect to see New York and places
like Seattle where the virus obviously has been circulated longer than it
has other areas, they peak first. But, eventually, all 50 states will
contribute to that peak and I don`t think we can say when that will happen.
Clearly, it could be months away and it could be literally many hundreds of
thousands of cases.
KORNACKI: What do you think in terms of that assessment there, that report
from Imperial College, Neil Ferguson? We were just playing his projection,
that if not enough is done, he`s saying the fatalities here in this country
could be 2 million. I have seen some people saying that you`re looking at
an assessment there that might be too alarmist, that might be too dire,
others disagreeing. What do you think of the projections he`s putting
OSTERHOLM: Well, actually, Neil and his group at Imperial College are one
of the best in the world. I think it is very, very much a legitimate
estimate that we have to deal with. If I could just comment very briefly on
this issue of too scary or the fact that we will panic people, you know,
what people want right now is just straight talk. They want to know what we
know and what we don`t know and how we know it. I mean, I`m not seeing
anybody on the streets rioting or cars turned over and burned or people
even accosted in grocery stores when somebody got the last roll of toilet
paper and I didn`t. They`re scared, they`re fearful but they`re not going
to panic. They just want the right information. I think this report gives
us that. Information.
KORNACKI: Yasmeen, there is the question that if more testing is resulting
in this increase we`re seeing here in cases, we`ve been talking so much
about not enough tests being available, the volume of testing being low.
What is the status of availability of testing right now versus where it
was, say, a week ago?
YASMEEN ABUTALEB, HEALTHCARE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: So the number
of tests has definitely ramped up. And you`ve seen that the administration
is now trying to engage other parts of the private sector to set up these
drive-thru testing sites. The announcement was a bit premature. The site
was not ready to go. But I think the goal is to have that set up by the end
of the week and to have some more sites roll out over the next couple of
weeks. So we`ll see if they`re able to get that off the ground and to sort
of mobilize that quickly.
But I think, as you said, as the number of tests continue to expand, not
just with this drive-thru testing initiative but with the engagement of the
hospital and academic labs and private industry, you know, you`ve seen the
FDA approve more tests from outside companies that will continue to see a
sort of increase in case as more people are able to get more readily
KORNACKI: Meanwhile, communities across the country are hunkering down to
limit their potential exposure to the virus, while the administration has
recommended Americans practice social distancing for 15 days, the surgeon
general today warned it could take longer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Give it to us straight. Isn`t this going to be longer
than 15 days? How long do you think people should expect to be at home,
DR. JEROME ADAMS, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: We feel like if we can get America
to all pitch in for the next 15 days, we can flatten the curve, which is
the term that you`ve been hearing a lot, not overwhelm our healthcare
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So 15 days is enough?
ADAMS: 15 days is likely not going to be enough to get us all the way
through but we really need to lean into it now so that we can bend the
curve in the next 15 days. And at that point, we`ll reassess.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And in The New York Times, Doctors Ezekiel Emanuel writes,
Americans, quote, should plan for social distancing at least until mid or
late May and be thankful if it eases off earlier.
Congressman, you represent a district where this challenge is particularly
acute when it comes to social distancing, a very urban district, dense
population, a lot of folks living in small apartments there where the
challenge of just staying put and not moving and not going out can be
particularly difficult, realistically speaking. How long can this type of
social distancing endure, especially in an area like yours?
REP. ADRIANO ESPAILLAT (D-NY): I think people are doing their very best to
keep their distance. Today, I was out in the community. We were trying to
get also some testing -- drive-thru testing sites open. Hopefully, we will
get one open tomorrow or the day after. I just had a conference call with
all the head of the presidents of the major hospitals in the 13th
congressional district and business leaders and community-based physicians.
I think they`re all pushing to make sure every family, every individual
understands that there`s got to distances between people, that have got to
wash their hands with soap and water, that the best practices that are out
there already should be acute. I think people are looking at that, and the
family struggling are getting a grip of that and adhering to those
So testing is a big thing, of course. Your hygiene is very important, wash
your hands, keep your distance. And the next thing that I found out just
now in this call that we had with the hospitals is that the protective gear
that emergency and medical services people wear, masks and gloves and these
types of equipment are not available the way they should be. They`re
running really low.
And it`s really putting healthcare workers in peril, in danger. We must
invest more in this type of emergency gear, equipment for healthcare
workers and the ventilators. We must have capacity when the epidemic --
when the pandemic surges, we must have the capacity to treat people. We
cannot become, as we are seeing in other countries, a country who
determines who lives and who dies. We have to be there to perfect that.
KORNACKI: Yes. And, Congressman, on that front, the question there of
ventilators, of hospital equipment, what you`re talking about, the need for
that, we had the news at the top here, the president today invoking those
emergency powers that would force contractors to produce ventilators, to
produce medical equipment. Do you think that will make a meaningful
difference in the challenge you`re describing?
ESPAILLAT: That will make a significant difference. If there`s one thing
that I heard from all of the presidents of the major hospitals, like New
York Presbyterian, Mount Sinai, Harlem hospitals, is that they need that
equipment immediately. They`re running out of masks. They`re running out of
gloves. Again, ventilators are critical as the disease continues to move at
a high rate.
Today, I was surveying a parking lot to see where we could have a good
drive-thru testing site because the money seems to not be getting here or
help getting here quickly enough. So I had to go out there with local
physicians to determine where we would park at the hospitals to open up
these drive-thru testing sites.
KORNACKI: Michael Osterholm, you said a minute ago you had folks out there
are just looking for simple, straight answers, direct, straight answers. I
think that`s absolutely right. I definitely put myself in that category.
Let me ask you for one, how long, realistically, is this style of social
distancing that folks are now integrating into their lives going to last?
Because we had this talk from the administration, where you saw the
interview saying, 15 days but maybe a little longer. You have Ezekiel
Emanuel saying mid-May would be realistic goal. Be thankful if it ends
sooner. We have this report we mentioned from Imperial College that`s
basically saying, hey, until there`s a vaccine, 18 months from now, this
might largely be the new norm.
OSTERHOLM: Yes. So, first of all, again, just from a straight talk
standpoint, let`s just clear up a couple of things. One, I think the
Imperial College report is right. It is going to be 15 to 18 months and
we`re going to have to decide how we`re going to live during that time, not
just die from this virus. Second of all, let me just say, what the
president did today with signing that act is largely cosmetic. And I resent
the fact that we`re trying to sell to America we`re doing something we`re
not. Every company right now that makes respirators, makes ventilators,
makes protective gear have been working full time with every machine
running 24/7 for weeks. There`s nothing new coming. You just don`t invent
these overnight. And so we are going to be very short on these issues.
And as far as testing, I think we`re going to see an implosion in testing
in about three to four weeks. We`re running out of reagents. The world
doesn`t have enough reagents right now. So we do not support drive-by
testing right now. We need to focus it in hospitals where it will have its
most important good and we`re going to be rationing testing in a way that
we haven`t even thought about just within a few couple weeks just because
KORNACKI: I just want to go back to that first question I asked you, and I
want to make sure I heard you right there. Is it your view looking at this
situation that this level of social distancing will be the norm for 15 to
OSTERHOLM: I didn`t say it will be the norm. What I said is if you look at
the model from the Imperial College, if you want to suppress this, if you
want to not have cases occur where we flood the hospitals, then we have to
do that. If we decide that`s not what we`re going to do, we`re going to
basically just try to protect those who are at greatest risk of serious
illness or death, then we will see cases increase. But if they increase in
the younger population who don`t need hospitalization, then we won`t flood
the hospitals as much.
We have not had a thoughtful discussion on this. We rang a bell this week
to do a whole number of things that everybody thought were going to last
for a couple of weeks. And as the Imperial College report says, no, that`s
not the case, you`re going to have to keep this up forever.
China is an experiment right now that will tell us a great deal. They have
suppressed their population movement dramatically. They suppressed the
disease. As their economy comes back over the next two, three weeks, wait
and see what happens when people are back in subways, buses and trains and
they`re all now cheek to jawl in manufacturing plants and in public places.
We predict that within five to seven weeks, we`re going to see resurgence
back in China. That`s what Imperial College says is going to happen here,
and I think they`re right.
KORNACKI: All right. Michael Osterholm, Congressman Adriano Espaillat,
Yasmeen Abutaleb, thank you for joining us.
And coming up, where do we stand on the availability of test kits? A new
research released indicating possible airborne transmission of the virus.
Plus, how long can it last on surfaces?
And the Senate approves a relief package providing paid sick leave and
other benefits. That`s just part of a massive stimulus plan that may be in
the works. Who`s likely to get how much for the government, how much? A lot
more to get to. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM BOSSERT, FORMER HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER: In two weeks, I will look
back on today and say, I wish I had done three things, and they would be
personal protective equipment, personal protective equipment and personal
protective equipment. Because these doctors that we just saw interviewed,
if they`re absent, they can`t take care of us and they can`t use those
ventilators. So that`s my fear today and that`s where I think we should be
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Welcome back. That was Tom Bossert, President Trump`s former
Homeland Security adviser, sounding the alarm on behalf of millions of
American healthcare professionals who are on the frontlines trying fighting
this pandemic. And according to The Washington Post, health workers, quote,
have been put at risk not only by the nature of their jobs but by shortages
of protective equipment such as N95 face masks, government bungling of
testing programs, which was delayed for weeks while the virus spread around
this country undetected.
Earlier today, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said that the Pentagon would
share its equipment with healthcare professionals.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK ESPER, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: The Department of Defense will make
available up to 5 million N95 respirator masks and other personal
protective equipment from our own strategic reserves to the Department of
Health and Human Services for distribution. The first 1 million masks will
be available immediately.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: The growing concern over proper equipment comes as a new study
published in "The New England Journal of Medicine" shows that the virus can
survive in air particles for several hours and on contaminated surfaces for
up to three days.
For more, I`m joined by Deborah Burger, nurse and co-president of the
National Nurses United. That`s the largest union of registered nurses. And
Dr. Anand Parekh -- Parekh -- excuse me -- chief medical adviser of the
Bipartisan Policy Center and former deputy assistant secretary for HHS.
Dr. Parekh, let me start with you just on that piece of information that we
had at the end that I think catches everybody`s attention. The idea that
this virus can be airborne, does that mean you can be just walking around
and somebody who`s infected was in the area an hour or two or a few minutes
earlier, and you can get it?
DR. ANAND PAREKH, BIPARTISAN POLICY CENTER: Well, it`s an important study
that was released today.
I think most experts still believe that the primary mode of transmission
here is through droplets, and so, within six feet, cough, or sneeze, and a
large droplet being the mode of transmission.
The study really here focuses, I think, in the health care setting, and
particularly for health care professionals who are doing invasive
procedures or who are intubating patients, meaning connecting them to
In those situations, the coronavirus becomes aerosolized in small
particles. And, in fact, health care workers at that point, what they need
is, they don`t need masks. They need N95 respirators, essentially that
these are specially fitted respirator that don`t allow inhalation of smart
And what the study actually found also is that these particles then stay in
the air for about a half-hour, and then they come down under surfaces. So,
I think it`s a really important study. I think it`s going to influence some
of the infection control practices, particularly in the hospital and the
intensive care units.
And then, in terms of surfaces, what the study showed is that coronavirus
could in fact stay on cardboard for up to a day, as well as on metal and
plastic for three days. So, again, that speaks to the importance of also an
environmental cleaning and getting those surfaces disinfected.
KORNACKI: And I just -- again, from a practical standpoint here for
consumers who are going out there to the grocery store to stock up on
things and buying something that`s in cardboard, it`s on the shelves, it`s
been touched by workers at the store, by other customers, by other people,
or getting a plastic bag, should they be cleaning off everything they
touch, everything they bring home from the store?
Should they be wearing gloves at the store?
PAREKH: I think that probably the most judicious advice is if you get a
package -- we`re all getting more and more home deliveries now.
If you have a disinfectant, you can certainly wipe it off, wash your hands.
Probably unlikely, unless it`s somebody who has coronavirus, asymptomatic
or symptomatic, coughs and sneezes, and then their particles are there, and
you touch it and you expose yourself.
So, less likely, but it never hurts to wipe down services and wash your
KORNACKI: Deborah, everything we`re talking about here, certainly in terms
of, it sounds like, this airborne issue is particularly acutely felt by
health care professionals, by nurses, by folks who are on the front line.
How equipped are nurses, how equipped are medical professionals to deal
with these particular risks? And just how are they handling this situation?
DEBORAH BURGER, PRESIDENT, CALIFORNIA NURSES ASSOCIATION: Well, to tell you
the truth, at the hospitals in California across the nation, they are not
Nurses are being told to reuse masks, that they don`t need masks, they
don`t need to -- essentially, just go in and take care of the patient in
the room without any protections.
We`re extremely alarmed, because they relaxed the standards for protections
again today. And in the CDC`s recommendations, they said, if you have to,
make a mask out of a bandana or a scarf.
And we`re talking about nurses that are going to be taking care of patients
for quite some time. And to be told that they don`t have a supply to
protect all health care workers at this point is ludicrous, at best, and
really unconscionable at worst.
There isn`t enough transparency to tell us where all of these masks are.
There hasn`t been transparency in communication. The lack of testing for
nurses and health care workers that have been exposed to the COVID-19
virus, are told to stay home, monitor their temperature, come back to work
if they`re asymptomatic.
But we know there have been cases of the virus that have been transmitted
with people that are asymptomatic. And then there were cracks in the hole
in this system all along, even before this virus. And those are now even
more apparent, with poor communication, lack of proper functioning
equipment already, and the fact that there`s short supplies and short
Nurses, already, without this surge, are working double shifts, working
overtime, working through their breaks. So we`re extremely alarmed at what
is happening. And we have known about this since January.
Why it`s taken this long to try to get supplies for health care workers, so
they don`t bring it home to their family or to the community, why isn`t
more being done? And that`s why we are extremely alarmed and angry.
KORNACKI: Dr. Parekh, there were some headlines yesterday that caught my
attention and made me feel optimistic about this in a way I hadn`t in a few
There were headlines from China and South Korea talking about the spread in
China being significantly slowed, the number of new cases kind of grinding
to a halt there, signs in South Korea of professional sports potentially
returning there in the not-so-distant future, several weeks from now maybe,
the idea of life after a cycle of intent social distancing in these
countries may be starting to get back to normal.
So that made me optimistic.
In the last segment, however, we were talking with Michael Osterholm from
the University of Minnesota. He was basically saying his expectation is,
those countries are going to try this, they`re going to try returning to
normal, and it`s all going to happen again. One person is going to get it,
going to spread it, it`s going to spread just as easily as it has been here
for the last couple of weeks.
And he`s basically saying, to really limit this, it`s going to take social
distancing until there is a vaccine, which is a year, year-and-a-half,
maybe more away.
Do you share that view?
PAREKH: Well, first things first. I think, in this country, to get to where
China and South Korea are now in terms of declining cases, we need to focus
on three things.
That`s testing, that`s social distancing, and then rapidly deploying
critical medical material and personal protective equipment to the front
line, since we know this health care surge is coming.
And now those countries are in fact seeing declines. And I think we`re
going to have to wait and see. As they relax, open up businesses, open up
entertainment, will the cases go -- in fact, go up?
KORNACKI: I`m just curious, what is your sense of it, though? What do you
expect? Osterholm was really pessimistic, it sounded like.
PAREKH: Yes. It could very well, because, again, this is a novel virus.
We don`t have herd immunity. Most of us have not gotten it before. So we
can suppress it. But, at a low level, it`s there. Once we start interacting
with one another, and having close contact, then, absolutely, without a
vaccine, this could come back again.
So, the question is, well, if it comes back, and we have to do social
distancing again, we may be in a pattern over several months where we try
to ease restrictions, and then put them back, try to ease, because the
stamina of the American public is going to be critical.
We can do this for days, we can do this for weeks. But when you expect the
American public to do this for 12 to 18 months, that is going to be a new
way of life.
So I think the one thing here is, we can learn from China and South Korea.
That`s the only silver lining here, that let`s learn from other countries
and let`s take it one step at a time.
KORNACKI: All right, Dr. Anand Parekh and Deborah Burger, thank you both
for joining us. Appreciate that.
BURGER: Thank you.
PAREKH: Thank you.
KORNACKI: All right, and up next: The Senate overwhelmingly approves a
second coronavirus response bill. We will tell you what`s in it and who it
helps the most after this.
Don`t go anywhere.
KORNACKI: Welcome back.
As American workers in their employers grapple with widespread shutdowns,
we`re learning more about how the White House plans to combat the economic
effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
NBC News has obtained a copy of a $1 trillion Treasury Department proposal
for aid priorities. It includes $500 billion in direct payments to
taxpayers. It would also include $50 billion in loans to prop up the
airline industry, $150 billion for other distressed sectors, and $300
billion for small business interruption loans.
The direct payments to taxpayers would come in two rounds of $250 billion
each, one starting on April 6, the second on May 18. The amounts to
individuals would be based on income and on family size. Those checks could
be as much as $1,000 each.
Today, President Trump was asked if he would like to provide even more.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are looking at different
We`re looking at timing that would be different, splitting the times,
splitting the payments. We`re looking at a lot of different things. It
hasn`t been determined yet, but it will shortly be determined. And people
want to go big, as opposed -- everybody seems to want to go big. And they
want to get to the recovery.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: The president also said he would suspend all foreclosures and
evictions until the end of April.
Today`s proposal from the White House comes as the Senate passed its second
coronavirus relief package by a vote of 90-8. The Senate approved spending
roughly $100 billion on expanding paid sick leave, unemployment insurance
and free coronavirus testing.
The bill now goes to President Trump for his signature.
And in another major development, the three Detroit auto companies agreed
to shut down their factories across North America, an unprecedented
decision that carries major implications for the industry.
For more, I`m joined by Yamiche Alcindor, White House correspondent for the
PBS "NewsHour," and Stephanie Ruhle, NBC News senior business
Stephanie, the price tag we`re seeing now for this potential stimulus, you
think back about a decade, the Obama stimulus. You think back to TARP that
came before that. We`re looking at something potentially even bigger in
scope than that.
STEPHANIE RUHLE, NBC NEWS SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: And it might not
be nearly enough. We just don`t know.
Something we have to remember that`s different between the `08 crisis and
now, the 2008 crisis was self-inflicted. The banking industry did it to
itself, taking enormous risk with the house`s money, and then, essentially,
the house fell apart.
Right now, what we`re faced with is essentially a natural disaster that our
government didn`t assess or address, and now the only way to address this
crisis is basically shut down the economy, nationally, if not globally.
And the implications of it are huge across all industries. So, when you
talk about what industry is hit, I ask you, besides grocery stores and
pharmacies, what industry isn`t hit?
KORNACKI: Well, Yamiche, looking at the contours of what the White House is
putting together here, obviously, the big headline there these direct
payments, potentially up to $1,000 to people, what are the prospects on
Capitol Hill for a plan like this? Specifically, what are Democrats saying
YAMICHE ALCINDOR, "PBS NEWSHOUR": Well, the president, after downplaying it
for several weeks, now sees that the coronavirus is something that is a
direct risk to the economy, which is a big part of what his reelection bid
was going to be about.
And it seems as though the president is leaning on Republicans to get
behind this idea of direct cash payment to Americans. He said, look, the
economy is critical, but also are -- so are everyday Americans.
And he said that people need cash now, that people should not have to
struggle because of this coronavirus. Now, on Capitol Hill, it seems as
though Democrats are definitely behind this.
But an ally of the president, Senator Lindsey Graham, was pushing back when
Steve Mnuchin came up to talk about the plan with GOP lawmakers. So, there
are people within the Republican Party who are really questioning whether
or not the federal government should be handing out checks to Americans,
even though the president says they badly need them.
RUHLE: But part of the reason for the pushback, Steve, from Republicans is,
well, how long is it? This isn`t -- right now, they`re saying, well, it`s a
But when you talk to -- you were just speaking to medical experts that said
this could be 15 months, it could be 18 months. When you look at the
restaurant industry alone...
KORNACKI: How could -- yes, that is my question.
Four weeks -- people thinking ahead, two, four, six, weeks, something like
that, it`s dire, because we`re watching the world shut down around us. When
you start talking about months, going into the end of the year, going into
next year, going through next year, what would this country even look like?
RUHLE: OK, and remember that. Most companies out there across industries
are highly levered. OK?
They have got revolving credit lines to banks. And, right now, what are
they doing? Drawing down, drawing down. And the Fed has done a lot this
week to make sure the machine is still working. But when I say things are
hanging on by a thread, you`re going to see second-tier oil company, oil
and gas companies go under.
Think about the retail industry. We already talked about the American mall
dying. What do you think this is going to do it? Nail in the coffin.
KORNACKI: Yamiche, what are the discussions around the administration?
So, the idea here is this two-pronged, April and May payments, looking at
something to cover basically the spring months of this year. But are there
discussions in the administration about this possibility that`s come up
here and in this hour on this show of much longer period of social
distancing being required, and, therefore, a much longer period of just
dire economic disruption?
Are there conversations around the administration, around Capitol Hill, for
that matter, about what to do in that case?
ALCINDOR: There are conversations.
And the answer of whether or not or -- and how to deal with coronavirus and
how long it might last, this outbreak that is now hitting the world, it
really depends on whether or not you`re a health official or you`re a
political official in the White House, based on my sourcing.
When I talk to political officials inside the White House, they say 18
months is way too long. The president said that from the podium. But when
I`m talking to sources on background and off the record, they`re also
saying look. They`re saying, look, we have seen those 18-month projections,
but that`s if we did nothing.
That`s if we didn`t have any treatment. That`s if we ran out of masks.
That`s if we literally did nothing and the coronavirus just spread and
spread and spread.
But when you talk to health experts, including, of course, Dr. Fauci, who
is a leading health official that`s helping the president and the
administration get their arms around this -- and, of course, that`s not
actually happening now -- but Dr. Fauci is saying that there`s no way to
tell what the peak of this is.
Right now, he`s saying this can go on and on and on, even though the
president is saying this could end by August. Dr. Fauci is saying, we just
don`t know how long it is going to be. And he`s been clear about that for a
very long time.
Some of the experts we had on earlier this hour certainly -- I said I was
feeling optimistic about some of the news I was hearing from South Korea
and China in the last day or so, but...
RUHLE: But, Steve, those countries took drastic, draconian action.
KORNACKI: But, Stephanie, what`s bothering me is what I heard from the
experts earlier this hour was, they took drastic, draconian action, they
bent the curve, they flattened the curve, they`re talking about going back
to normal life.
And what I`m hearing from the experts is, they still may have this come
back just as intensely a few weeks from now.
RUHLE: That`s disturbing in every way.
But we`re not even doing the first. So, you may say, listen, life as we
know it has changed in New York. Nobody -- restaurants, bars closed. Look
at the West Coast.
I invite you to look at Miami. People are jamming on it spring break -
KORNACKI: Yes, that should not be happening, obviously.
RUHLE: But it is.
KORNACKI: We will see if that changes in the days ahead, among other
Stephanie Ruhle, Yamiche Alcindor, thank you both for joining us.
And up next -- well, amidst all of this, we had primaries yesterday. We
were supposed to have four. We ended up with three. The Democratic race
took another turn in Joe Biden`s favor. We`re going to break down what
happened, what the road looks like from here if there is a road from here
in this Democratic presidential race.
We`re back after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Today, it looks like once again, in
Florida and Illinois, we`re still waiting to hear from Arizona, our
campaign has had a very good night. We move closer to securing the
Democratic Party`s nomination for president, and we`re doing it by building
a broad coalition that we need to win in November.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: There you go. That was the big winner on a primary last night,
Joe Biden, yet in an empty room there, no crowds, very somber tone.
Welcome to presidential politics in the age of the coronavirus pandemic.
Look, the race for president does go on. There were supposed to be four
primaries yesterday, Arizona, Florida, Illinois -- you heard Biden mention
Ohio was supposed to have a primary as well but the governor the night
before that primary said that there was a health crisis there and he was
calling off the primary. A bit of a dispute there whether he really should
have done that, there was a court telling him he couldn`t, nonetheless,
there was no primary in Ohio yesterday.
So, three states, they were big winners for Joe Biden. You can see here in
Florida he won this thing by 40 points. He won it from the Panhandle all
the way down to Miami and West Palm Beach and all of the areas there along
the Gulf Coast. A huge win here in Florida. More than 100 delegate
plurality for Biden.
Also Illinois, take a look here. I think Illinois captures the biggest
difference between what Bernie Sanders was dealing with four years ago
versus now. What I mean was Illinois was a close state four years ago.
Bernie Sanders almost won Illinois four years ago. This is what Illinois
looked like four years ago. This is what the big states all across the
Midwest looked like four years ago when Sanders was running against
Remember, Sanders actually won Michigan four years ago. He was very close
in Illinois. He won Minnesota. Bernie Sanders did really well in states
like Illinois four years ago. This is what Illinois looked like last night,
one single solitary county from the state going for Bernie Sanders. This is
where the University of Illinois is.
And you see even there, it was a narrow margin. Basically what`s happened
across the Midwest and elsewhere, but it`s really pronounced in the Midwest
is blue collar white voters, particularly blue collar white voters in 2016,
were with Bernie Sanders, were against Hillary Clinton, now faced with the
twist between Biden and Sanders.
That split is gone. They`re going with Biden. They`re leading Sanders. You
will see it in Michigan, Illinois, Missouri. I bet if we had Ohio
yesterday, good chance we would have seen it there.
It raises a general election question if Biden is the nominee. Remember,
the reason Trump`s president, he was able to win those three states there,
Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin on the strength of blue collar white
support, is Biden`s improvement in the primaries among blue collar white
voters, does that portend more success with him for those voters than
Clinton had four years ago? That`s the million dollar question in
Another one is will we have another presidential primary this cycle? It`s a
little more basic at this point.
Anyway, still ahead, Bernie Sanders` options as he reassesses his campaign.
Don`t go anywhere.
KORNACKI: And welcome back.
Following those losses in last night`s Democratic primaries that we were
just talking about, Senator Bernie Sanders is facing growing pressure to
bow out of the presidential race.
Today, he was on Capitol to vote on that Senate coronavirus legislation.
Sanders got heated as he shut down an earlier report from "Axios" that he
was suspending his campaign. "Axios" later said that it got that report
wrong and apologized.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REPORTER: Sir, what are you saying to your supporters? There`s been all of
this flurry today.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Just not true. We sent
out a statement.
REPORTER: What`s your timeframe?
SANDERS: You have to stop with this. I`m dealing a (EXPLETIVE DELETED)
global crisis. You know? We`re dealing with it and you`re asking me these
REPORTER: You`re running for president. So --
SANDERS: Well, right now, I`m running -- right now, I`m trying to do my
best to make sure that we don`t have an economic meltdown and that people
don`t die. Is that enough for you? To keep you busy for today?
(END AUDIO CLIP)
KORNACKI: For more, I`m joined by Susan Page, Washington bureau chief for
"USA Today", and Shaquille Brewster, NBC political reporter who is
following the Sanders` campaign.
Shaq, let me start with you. What`s the latest you`re hearing from Sanders`
SHAQUILLE BREWSTER, NBC NEWS POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, Sanders is on his
way back to Burlington, Vermont. We know that`s where he will make this
decision as he reassess his campaign.
As you saw in that clip or as you heard in that audio there, Senator
Sanders, he`s been focused on this coronavirus crisis since even before
election night, when he had the virtual rally with his supporters, he
didn`t mention the fact there was an election on Tuesday or encourage
people to go out to vote. He stayed his comments 100 percent and focused
his comments all on his proposals and what he`s going to submit to Senate
Minority Leader Chuck Schumer for the crisis.
Right now, he`s going to go back to Burlington. He and Jane will sit down.
They say they`re going to assess the path forward. They`re going to seek
input from supporters and really think about this decision.
And as we know, the path that he has only has gotten increasingly harder.
We knew coming into Tuesday night, his campaign was already saying it was
an uphill battle for them, saying they had a lot of work to put in. Well,
after getting swept on Tuesday, that path has only gotten more difficult.
He`s only won seven of the states that have voted so far. Our political
unit saying he needs to win more than 60 percent of the remaining delegates
in order to clinch the nomination.
So they understand that path that he has there but you`re hearing multiple
things from his supporters, some wanting him to say and some acknowledging
that this may be the end.
KORNACKI: Yes, Susan, I feel like there might be a bigger picture question
here because, I mean, we can go state by state. I can go through the
delegate numbers and say Sanders needs X here, right, he lost everywhere
last night. He basically lost everywhere a week ago. There was the party
run primary in North Dakota where he got a victory.
At this point, it would take a major sea change it would seem and the basic
psychology of Democratic voters to change this race in a way that Sanders
would have a shot. I guess the question, the big picture question is, is
that something that is likely here? Is that something that Democratic
voters given the intense focus now on coronavirus, on people staying home,
just the way the world has changed in the last two weeks, is there room for
a political race to change that dramatically?
SUSAN PAGE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, USA TODAY: No. And I think when you
talk politics, reassessing my campaign is code for, I`m about to get out of
this and I`m trying to smooth away with the people, the staffers,
supporters who have been with me.
Sanders has a couple problems. No victories recently. No more debates to
get attention. No ability to stage those big rallies that show his
enthusiastic support and no attention because all of us are focused on this
So, I would be -- I would be stunned if there was a path to the nomination.
I would be surprised, as well, if he doesn`t choose to get out in short
KORNACKI: The other question here, too, Shaq, is just it`s a nuts and bolts
question but next week was supposed to be the Georgia primary. The Georgia
primary has now been postponed for at least two months. We saw Ohio
yesterday, that`s off until June, probably until June. You got a whole list
there, Louisiana, Maryland, Kentucky.
I`m imagining there are more that will be added to the list quickly here.
You got states that are pushing these back to as late as they can in the
primary season. This open question of how long this social distancing is
going to play out.
I mean, are we going to have anymore primaries?
BREWSTER: That`s right. And, you know, that`s something his campaign
manager acknowledge in a statement that we heard this morning from him,
before we even saw from -- before we saw Senator Sanders, he said the next
contest is not for at least three weeks away, so Senator Sanders has time
to make this decision.
But as you mentioned, as you acknowledging, he`s not able to do rallies
that we normally see him do. He`s not able to have that get-out-the-vote
operation that his campaign always totes.
So, it`s a question of can he campaign? Can he reach new voters when his
national numbers continue to fall and when much of the party and he`s
receiving pressure from within the Democratic Party, that it`s his time to
And the point that I have to make, also, when you talk to his supporters,
you talk to some of his top surrogates, they say the rational for him
staying in at this point is that he -- they believe he can pull over Vice
President Biden, he can keep the pressure on Vice President Biden as we saw
in Sunday`s debate, when we were talking about the bankruptcy bill or
proposal that Vice President Biden adopted, or that college for all
proposal that the vice president started to lean into. They believe he can
put pressure on Vice President Biden but ultimately, it will be Senator
KORNACKI: And, Susan, again, this question of whether social distancing
might be a month or even year-plus proposition, this idea of no rallies, of
speeches in empty rooms, somber -- I mean, this -- this might be the
PAGE: Yes. You know, you said, will we have more primaries? Will we have a
Democratic convention in July? I think that is a question that Democratic
officials are now looking at, trying to figure out how could you stage a
convention if you can`t get people together in a large group?
You know, this is bad for Democrats that want to generate excitement about
Joe Biden and about whoever his running mate turns out to be.
Also, tough news for Donald Trump because Bernie Sanders has these big
rallies. Donald Trump has even bigger rallies and they are the thing that
gives him terrific energy. So, a question on both sides.
KORNACKI: All right. Susan Page and Shaquille Brewster, thank you for being
That is our show tonight. Thank you at home for being with us, as well.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" is up next.
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