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coronavirus TRANSCRIPT: 3/18/20, MSNBC Live: Decision 2020

Guests: Michael Osterholm, Yasmeen Abutaleb, Adriano Espaillat, Anand Parekh, Yamiche Alcindor, Deborah Burger, Susan Page


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.




REPORTER: Do you consider America to be on a wartime footing in terms of 

fighting this virus?



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.




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 

wasn`t done.


Here is what he told NBC`s Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel in an 

exclusive interview today.





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.




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?



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?



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.




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.




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 

we can`t.


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 

18 months?


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.







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 





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.




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.




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? 



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. 







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. 




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. 



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 

about it? 


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 

two-time payment. 


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. 

Appreciate that. 


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.






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.




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 

presidential politics. 


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.




REPORTER: Sir, what are you saying to your supporters? There`s been all of 

this flurry today. 



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? 




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` 




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? 



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 

terrible pandemic.


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 

pull back. 


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 

Sanders` decision. 


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 

campaign, no? 


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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