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

$2 trillion relief TRANSCRIPT: 3/25/20, MSNBC Live: Decision 2020

Guests: Cory Booker, J. Larry Jameson, Michelle Goldberg, Kavita Patel, Gene Sperling, Rob Davidson, India Perez-Urbano


CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Can you imagine -- let me ask you this. Can you  imagine at all us being able to sort of geographically open up one part of  the country and somehow -- and -- or is it too late because of our --  frankly, our inability to test?

FAIR: I think we have to change our constitution to cordon off certain  states and not others. For example, if California is on a two-week shutdown  and everything is shut down, and this is just a hypothetical, and Arizona  is not doing exactly the same thing. Once California lift that two weeks  and someone travels from Arizona with COVID-19 to California, it all starts  over again.

So if you don`t do it everywhere, then it`s not going to work. And that`s  why we are the United States because we are all united and free to travel  to each state that we want to.

TODD: Dr. Fair, I wanted to end with with you because I want to end with  the science and end with the medical understanding where this is all going,  thank you. Kasie Hunt, Hans Nichols, thank you both.

And thanks for being with us for this second hour. MSNBC`s breaking news  coverage continues with my colleague and pal, Ari Melber. Good evening,  Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chuck. Thank you very much.

I am Ari Melber continuing our special coverage of the coronavirus  pandemic.

Here are the facts right now. U.S. coronavirus cases topped 64,000. That  reflects a surge of 12,000 new cases in the last 24 hours. And 897 people  have died.

I`m going to pause, let`s stop the music, please.

And let me tell you where we stand. If it sounds and feels like things are  getting worse, that`s because the facts and measurable data shows things  are getting worse. If all of this feels different than the president`s  claims and his pledges to roll back medical precautions as soon as Easter,  that is because the facts and the data show the president is incorrect and  his suggestion of rolling back precautions is contradicted by all kinds of  medical experts, you`ve probably heard them out across the nation. It`s  also contradicted by top appointees in the Trump administration.

Now, here are the facts tonight, according to the World Health  Organization, a warning that the U.S. may become the next epicenter of this  crisis due to what it calls the very large acceleration of cases.

Now, we know something about that. The acceleration has continued to become  the center of the outbreak in New York, which is home to almost half of the  national total. You see it right there.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says, the strict precautions, however, and  the social distancing that are being used in that metropolis and around New  York City, he says it`s working.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): To the extent people say, boy, these are  burdensome requirements, social distancing, no restaurants, no non- essential workers, yes, they are burdensome. By the way, they are effective  and they`re necessary. And the evidence suggests at this point that they  have slowed the hospitalizations. And this is everything.


MELBER: I want to get right to it. We are joined by a top guest in a state  that is dealing with this, U.S. Senator Cory Booker, of course, from New  Jersey, joining us from Capitol Hill at a time when Congress has been busy  pushing its plan. Good evening, Senator.

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ): Good evening to you, Ari.

MELBER: Let`s begin with what many viewers have just seen, which was a  presentation by the president making all kinds of arguments including  continuing to hype or float the idea of getting back to normal soon and  then his own experts at that very podium, the ones you`ve been hearing from  in Congress as well, who seem to be trying to condition all of us for a  long and careful road ahead. Your view, your reaction.

BOOKER: Well, again, you said it, we need to be looking at science and data  and not looking at wishful thinking. We need leaders that can speak in a  sober manner and a candid way to folks. We know, looking at other  countries, there has not been another country that suddenly just come out  of this in a matter of a couple weeks. Even Wuhan still has many people in  China under some sense of lockdown or some sense of sheltering in place or  social distancing. And so we have to be candid with folks and deal with  what`s coming.

Now, the challenge for me as a senator from New Jersey, a state that has  the second most cases, the state that is in the New York metropolitan area,  is that we do not have the resources right now. There`s a lot of heroic  actions going on from our governor to hospital officials to expand  capacity. But we need more help and support from the federal government.

And to have a president who is standing in the most powerful position in  the land, who is not only not using his power, like the Defense Production  Act, but is actually denying the severity of what we`re facing, it`s  unacceptable and it`s putting people`s lives at risk. We must get more  ventilators, more protective equipment and do more to support our  hospitals.

I`m very grateful about the bill that I hope we`ll be voting on very soon  in the United States Senate. But, dear God, this is a time for leadership,  for strong leaders to step forward, take responsibility for what`s going on  in our nation and provide real direction and solutions to help to make sure  we protect people.

MELBER: Well, that brings us to the very next item to discuss, obviously.  You are speaking from the Congress, where several of your colleagues are  self-quarantining, where members of both the House and Senate have now been  tested positive. Obviously it`s hit that place like it`s hit so many places  in the country. What is in this new bill, what should Americans know about  it?

BOOKER: Well, the first thing is there`s a lot of Americans that are afraid  about the health crisis and the economic crisis. This is like a marshal  plan. It`s a $2 trillion bill. We`ve never seen this kind of aid and  support going out from Congress before. And for hospitals and medical  centers, it is a tremendous amount of financial support for first  responders and other people that need PPE and other things that have been  dealing with the public with this support.

But in addition to that, hundreds of thousands of Americans are facing  economic turmoil right now, it is real substantive support, from cash  payments to families to improving unemployment insurance, raising the floor  so a good number of workers will see virtually no decline in their  paychecks. Their unemployment checks will now be at a level that`s almost  as if it was their salary. And the duration of the unemployment insurance  has been extended to four months.

Our small businesses, there are hundreds of billions of dollars being put  forward in grants, forgivable loans and other programs to help keep our  small businesses through this crisis and even incentivize them to retain  employees.

So this is a very good bill, it`s not perfect. There are a lot of  compromises. But it is going to be a tremendous help to states, to  communities, small businesses and to families all around our country.

MELBER: Senator, that actually brings me to something else I was thinking  about, and I wanted to ask you about, and it`s a little more big picture,  but you ran a campaign proposing a lot of ideas, some of which were beyond,  shall we say, the day-to-day norm in Washington.

And you and I have had conversations before on air and out in the country  about fundamental changes, for example, the criminal justice system, to how  governments and the federal government invests in people, schools versus  prisons. You ran against someone, Andrew Yang, who was talking about  things, but people said, well, we`re not going to just send out checks to  Americans.

I think you and any viewer knows exactly where I`m going with this. What  are we to make of the fact that for years on end, Washington, the town you  work in, seems to speak with one voice that there are certain things that  can`t be done, that are off the table, that are too expensive, then when we  have a crisis like this and people -- I think a lot of people want the  help, no one is saying don`t pass a big, expensive bill, but we suddenly  have trillions of dollars to deal with things on an emergency basis. What  does that make you think of and do you see any silver lining or hopeful  sign that it means that actually things that we were told are impossible  are suddenly possible and fundable?

And I`ll give you as much time as you need to give us your thoughts.

BOOKER: Well, look, it`s often during crisis that you see Americans expand  their moral imagination. When four girls die in a bombing in Birmingham, it  exposed people to the crisis there was in segregation. When women threw  themselves out windows at the shirtwaist factory fire, being trapped in  these sweatshop like conditions, dying on the pavement below, it expanded  the moral imagination of the country to understand that we needed to change  laws involving workers.

And now, this crisis has hopefully begun to inspire the moral imagination  in our country, to have more empathy for those Americans who don`t have  healthcare, for those Americans who don`t have paid family leave. Because  in the time of pandemics, and, again, this is a real crisis, these kind of  pandemics, and the vulnerability that we particularly have in our country  because we don`t have universal healthcare, because we don`t have paid  family leave. In fact, it`s already a fact that the flu every year is  spread and thousands of people die because about 80 plus percent of our  food service workers in America go to work sick with the flu, handling our  food, because they don`t have paid family leave.

And so this puts a bright line underneath our vulnerabilities and truly is  a testimony to that ideal that injustice anywhere in our country is a  threat to justice everywhere, especially when it comes to medical  conditions.

MELBER: I think you put it out -- I just wrote it down when you said it,  that a crisis can actually expand our moral imagination. It`s really  something to think about, because we`re seeing both spending and  bipartisanship coming out of the Congress like we haven`t seen in a long  time. So much sadness and tragedy here but you`re reminding us of some of  the parts of this that might inspire. I hope we could speak again soon,  U.S. Senator Cory Booker. Thank you, sir.

BOOKER: Thank you very much.

MELBER: I appreciate it.

We turn now to Dr. Kavita Patel, a fellow at the Brookings Institution,  MSNBC Medical Contributor and expert at a time when we need experts.

I give you the floor Americans watched the president his experts speak here  lay out some things that makes sense and others that would seem to go  against the underlying precautions that we`ve been briefed on. So, for our  viewers, what is the most important thing they should know and do at this  time?

DR. KAVITA PATEL, MSNBC MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR: The most important thing, Ari,  thank you, is to stay home. I mean, this is -- even in a matter of two to  three weeks, we are not going to necessarily be on the kind of downward  trajectory. And keep in mind, America is experiencing this in kind of  spurts, hotspots as we`re calling them. So now, we`re starting to see the  hotspots that many of us had predicted, New Orleans, parts of Florida,  Texas. I think there`s almost a predictability. So stay home.

Number two, I think one thing that I have to do is just applaud regional  and local leaders, because what they`re doing is really showing up and  helping to give guidance.

And then number three, I will just say it, this stimulus package is not  enough for the healthcare system. It`s a start, but we have a lot more we  need to do. And if you doubt that, all you have to do is look at the images  coming out of New York City. And think about what if that happens in my  community, what am I going to have in terms of support for our healthcare  system? Ironic it`s coming from an administration that crippled our access  to healthcare by overturning important parts of President Obama`s  Affordable Care Act.

MELBER: So, again, with you keeping the floor, you say there is more beyond  even this very expensive, very big bill coming out of the Congress shortly.  What more do you have in mind?

PATEL: So a couple of things. I think, number one, we`re going to have to  get even more creative. Hospitals are just not only filled to the brim,  Ari, but there is not enough protective equipment. And why are we all  stressing about that? If I go in and see someone and do not have the right  protective equipment, then I`m going to be much more likely not only to  infect myself but the next person I see who might not have coronavirus or  COVID-19. So, protective equipment.

And then at some point, in order to help the country heal and stabilize,  we`re going to need much more of a public health infrastructure. If  anything, I think, this has exposed some of the cracks in what we didn`t  have before.

MELBER: Well, let me jump in and ask you on that very point, stitching  together something that Senator Cory Booker had just said at the top of  this broadcast. Is it -- and, again, I ask this as a factual question, not  gunning for any particular outcome, but do you agree or do you share the  concern that he raised that the United States would be better equipped to  deal with pandemics if it had universal healthcare coverage access and  testing to the nation? Is that something that is medically true or do you  see that as a debate?

PATEL: No, I don`t see it as a debate. And, in fact there`s been studies,  academic studies that show that actually having that access can help save  lives. So there`s no question in my mind that you still have Americans  across this country, despite a lot of flexibility that our leaders have  established all across the federal government, you still have Americans who  are worried that if they go to the hospital, they`re not going to be able  to pay for these bills. And as they`re losing their jobs, that`s a  legitimate concern.

So he is correct, and how we get to universal access, that`s a rich debate.  We can have that debate. President Obama took one path, Vice President  Biden can take another. But it is clear that we need to do more for this  country through access to healthcare.

MELBER: Really interesting and striking to hear you say that.

Before I let you go, I want to play something from a governor. We`ve been  hearing from different governors about the challenges, striking a different  note than the president. That is to say, this president, any president,  obviously, is within their rights to discuss potential policy, that he has  policy ideas for at some point shifting back to a higher workload, higher  involvement in the economy.

But what was striking from this governor and others is the view that there  is a fine line between saying that and giving out information that may lead  people to take risks and underestimate what they need to do right now, that  the notion of just going back to your house of worship by Easter, for  example, is not actually good scientific advice.

So take a listen and give us your view on the other side of Governor  Murphy. Take a listen.


GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D-NJ): I think the order of business is pretty clear to  us, that we break the back of the coronavirus first and then we begin to  open up the economy and society, that if we somehow transpose those steps  and we begin to prematurely open things up, I believe, we only throw  gasoline on the fire of the virus and that we pay a far bigger price down  the road.


MELBER: Medically, in terms of the precautions that people are taking, do  you agree with what he said?

PATEL: Yes, and here is why. We don`t have a vaccine yet. We don`t have a  way to kind of prevent healthy people from getting this virus. So just from  a strict medical perspective, if you have, lets say, Ari, if we`re lucky,  70 percent of our population does not get sick, and in two to three weeks  they come out and we have no vaccine, no treatment and they become  susceptible to this virus, and we have another kind of second wave, we are  in very big trouble. And it prolongs not only economic recovery, it will  prolong the ability of our entire health system to actually be able to  function. Because remember, Ari, people are still having babies, having  heart attacks, have cancer diagnoses. Their doctors` offices are closed and  the E.R.s are full. We have to find a better way to get through this.

MELBER: Dr. Patel, I really appreciate your time and your sober medical  counsel, which I think we can all follow. Thank you very much.

We have a lot more on tonight`s special coverage this hour, including how  do you solve a healthcare crisis when the president keeps talking about the  economic angles.

Also, Congress working out this deal, as mentioned, as I was discussing  with Senator Booker, $2 trillion, where is that going, and what about new  checks that could be coming to your home, a lot more. Stay with us.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They came in, experts, and  they said, "We are going to have to close the country."

I said: "We have never closed the country before. This has never happened  before. You`re going -- you`re saying" -- I said, "Are you -- are you  serious about this? 

Don`t forget, the doctors, if it were up to the doctors, they may say,  let`s keep it shut down. Let`s shut down the entire world. 


MELBER: President Trump suggesting that many people who are responsible for  basically the health, well-being and economic security of the nation are at  war with his ideas about rolling back these precautions. 

Take a look at some of this new reporting, for example.

"The Washington Post," Donald Trump increasingly minimizing and pushing  aside top public health and experts in his own administration -- quote --  "instead relying on advice from economic advisers and outside voices."

Then there`s Trump confidant Lindsey Graham telling "The Post" that Dr.  Fauci is at odds with the president -- quote -- "He believes we should be  doing more, not less."

The president, charting his own course, though, saying as recently as  yesterday that, as we have reported, all this should be done by Easter.

I want to bring in a couple of experts on this, Dr. Larry Jameson, dean of  the, I should say, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of  Pennsylvania, and "New York Times"` Michelle Goldberg.

Doctor, your view?


I`m speaking on behalf of academic leaders at major institutions, like the  Mayo Clinic, NYU, which is in the heart of this outbreak right now, Johns  Hopkins Hospital, University of California-San Francisco, Baylor, and the  Mass General in Boston. 

We lead major health systems and research institutions. And we think it`s  really important that our voice is heard, because we are planning for these  events. We know there`s a tsunami coming. We have modeled when it`s going  to hit our shores. 

And we`re getting ready by canceling elective surgeries, canceling  outpatient appointments, changing our operating rooms into ICUs. And our  model predicts, at least in Philadelphia, it will probably hit our shores  in mid-May. May the 10th, we should have 1,000 patients on ventilators  across the Penn Medicine health system. 

Hopefully, we can...


MELBER: Let`s slow down. Let me slow you down for a second, because, if I`m  having trouble following, some other people may be as well. 

When you say May 10 is your model for this bad stuff happening, what do you  mean? May 10 is the worst day or the peak that you would hit in  Philadelphia?

JAMESON: Yes, so, we have a model that allows us to predict, based on the  doubling rate, when the peak will occur. 

And with a three-day doubling rate, which it currently is, we think it will  hit on about May the 10th. Now, with physical separation, we can lower that  peak, so that we don`t have so many patients come in all at once. 

And, that way, we can save lives. 


Well, I`m not an expert on Easter. That`s not how I was raised. But May 10  sounds like about a month after Easter. Let`s keep that in mind and then  hear from the president on his timeline. 

This was the remarks that drew so much expert condemnation yesterday. 


TRUMP: I`d love to have an open by Easter, OK? I would love to have it open  by Easter. 

QUESTION: Oh, wow. OK.

TRUMP: I will -- I will tell you that right now.

I would love to have that. It`s such an important day for other reasons,  but I will make it an important day for this too. 

So, I think Easter Sunday, and you will have packed churches all over our  country. I think it would be a beautiful time. 

QUESTION: Who suggested Easter? Who suggested that day?


TRUMP: I just thought it was a beautiful time. It would a beautiful time, a  beautiful timeline. It`s a great day.

QUESTION: So that wasn`t based on any of the... 


MELBER: Doctor, how does that square with your scientific timeline? 

JAMESON: Well, obviously, it`s not realistic.

People who are being infected today -- and there are a lot of them -- are  going to go through their infection through the next 20 or 25 days. People  who are infected next week will need to be in isolation for another 14 days  at least. 

So, you play this out, and the peak is more like the middle of May. And,  hopefully, we will see it start to go down after that. 

The thing I want to emphasize is that we really need to lower this peak, so  we don`t have so many people arriving in the health system all at once. And  we also need to protect the health care workers who are taking care of  those patients. 

MELBER: Yes, sure. 

So, hang with me, Doctor.

I`m going to bring in Michelle Goldberg here. 

You know, what I think about in covering this every day, observing it,  reporting on these press conferences, listening to the doctor and other  experts, Michelle, is, nobody likes bad news, by definition, but it seems  like what`s worse than bad news is lies that endanger your health. 

I wonder your response and your analysis of this. 


MELBER: Go ahead. 

MICHELLE GOLDBERG, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": I think one thing we know about  this president is that he doesn`t think very far in the future, and that he  says what he thinks people want to hear in the moment, which is one thing  when you`re talking about his imaginary or pseudo, half-imaginary border  wall. 

It`s another thing when you have people right now, you have a political  division in how people are responding to this virus, and how people believe  they need to protect themselves from this virus, right?

New York is locked down. California is locked down. Many other states are  locked down. But not all states are locked down. And not all people are  obeying these lockdown orders. 

And it matters when you have a president who basically says, we have turned  the corner, there`s light at the end of the tunnel, right as we`re kind of,  every day, so far has been worse than the last. You see New York is going  to run out of, I believe, ventilators or ICU beds in about two days.

Atlanta is at the breaking point. You see all of these health systems  already in crisis, when the wave hasn`t even really crashed on us yet. And  I understand the president -- the more his approval ratings go up as he  kind of feeds these lies and misinformation to the American people, the  more he`s going to do it. 

And a lot of people like to hear that this is all going to be over in a  couple of weeks. And so it`s not surprising why he`s getting positive  feedback. But it`s going to be catastrophic if it ends up disincentivizing  a lot of people, particularly in red states, from taking the precautions  that they could take to make sure that their states aren`t in two weeks  where New York is right now. 



JAMESON: Well, I want to see us buy some time, so that we can protect the  people on the front lines, like the health care workers. They really can`t  have this surge, and (INAUDIBLE) optimally.

So, if we can each take responsibility and protect our health care workers,  and support them, the same way we do our military -- everyone has a role to  play here. And I would recommend that every person in this country make the  assumption that anyone they come into contact with could have the  coronavirus, and they should interact with as few people as possible,  isolate as much as is reasonable, and take all the precautions that we have  been advocating, so we can lower this peak and protect our front-line  health workers and save lives. 

MELBER: Well, Doctor, I don`t know if you ever listened to M.C. Lyte,  pathbreaking female rapper. She used to say, act like you know.

And it sounds like you`re saying, act like you have it, act like everyone  else has it, and just act like that for a few weeks, until we do know, and  that that is one way to think about the safety. We need to take doctors and  experts like yourself as seriously as possible. 

So, that`s how I`m going to act, following your public medical advice. 

Dr. Jameson and Michelle Goldberg, thanks to both you. 

JAMESON: Thank you. 

MELBER: Appreciate you. 

We have a lot more on the broadcast, new information about the contours of  this $2 trillion virus relief package which is on its way out of Congress  and with paychecks coming into your home, although there are Republican  senators who are saying that there is a drafting error that must be fixed  first. 

We have that story and an economic fact-check of the White House when we  come back. 


MELBER: Welcome back to our special coverage.

After days of negotiating, the Senate was on track to pass this $2 trillion  bill, sending emergency aid to workers around the nation, businesses, as  well as hospitals, absolutely slammed by this virus.

But Republican Senators Lindsey Graham, Tim Scott, Rick Scott and Ben Sasse  objecting to some language in this big bill. 


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): This bill pays you more not to work than if you  were working. 

SEN. RICK SCOTT (R-FL): We cannot be paying people more money on  unemployment than what they would get paid in their job. 

SEN. BEN SASSE (R-NE): The American people do not think you should get paid  more money to not work than to work. 


MELBER: Now, moments ago, Secretary Mnuchin telling reporters he`s  confident the Senate will still pass the bill later tonight and checks will  be going out within three weeks. 

The deal, which was tentatively announced this morning, sends direct  payments to many taxpayers. If you`re watching this, you may be getting a  check. It also creates a $500 billion loan program to support businesses  hammered by the virus and the ensuing economic problems, and increased  unemployment insurance payments and expand the number of people covered. 

It also creates a $150 billion Marshall Plan that funds hospitals, provides  medical equipment and supports health care workers. Over $2 trillion makes  this the largest spending package in American history. 

For more, we turn to Gene Sperling. He was the former director of the  National Economic Council under Presidents Obama and Clinton and knows his  way exactly around the type of tough trade-offs and emergency measures that  are in play. 

First of all, good evening. Thanks for joining us. 

GENE SPERLING, FORMER DIRECTOR, WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL:  Well, thanks for having me. It`s my first one from home. So...

MELBER: We`re happy to see you staying home. 

I tell folks, the only time when I`m not at home is when I`m on air  reporting the news. 

So, Gene, there`s a lot in here. Big picture, beyond even some of the last- minute fighting, this does appear still to be on the way to passage. What  do people need to know and understand, A, about what it does, and then, B,  who watching may be getting a check?

SPERLING: So I think, unfortunately, what the senators are fighting about  is the single most important thing there, because Dem -- first of all, my  hat`s off to Democrats, who have dramatically improved this. 

Remember where we started. We started with Donald Trump calling for a  payroll tax cut for all companies that would have done very little and a  big industry bailout. Now what you have is, you have families are going to  get $1,200 checks per adult and $500 per child. 

That could be $3,000, $4,000, very much needed. But what`s really important  is that, for the families who are just going to get crushed by  unemployment, because -- because the economy is shutting down, on purpose,  for many reasons, what Chuck Schumer and the Democrats did was give a  dramatic increase in unemployment insurance. 

And what they did is say, we`re going to bump up every check by $600,  which, by the way, happens to be what a minimum wage of $15 an hour, as  most of us support, times 40 hours would be. 

That means that, for at least half of Americans, they`re going to get 100  percent wage replacement. What`s shocking is that, right now, Lindsey  Graham and them, their big worry is that some people might get slightly  more. And so, therefore, they think this is terrible, as if, like brave  nurses who are risking their lives are going to quit their jobs in the  middle of a work depression just to get a couple hundred dollars more, when  they will need that desperately. 

So, one, this is a broad unemployment benefit. And I want to let people  know, if you are a gig worker, you may have to show that you have stopped  working altogether, but it will help you. And that`s a great victory and  expansion.

And then I think one of the key things is going to be whether the small  business loan program works. This is -- unfortunately, this is going to  depend a lot on how well this administration executes a good idea. 

This will give a small business a loan, and it will say that they can get  the loan forgiven if they`re keeping all their workers on the payroll. So,  if it works well, it could really help. 

But this is going to rely on the leadership and execution of the Trump  administration. And if it`s anywhere near as incompetent as it`s been on  the health crisis, then this could be as much frustration as relief for  people. 

MELBER: How do we analyze the surge we have seen in several states on  unemployment insurance, hundreds of thousands in some states, 800,000 in  bigger states like Texas, north of that in the Northeast?

SPERLING: I think it`s going to be one of the most dramatic things we have  ever seen. 

I mean, when you have a recession, usually -- let`s say you work at a  restaurant. You might lose your jobs. You might lose some hours. You might  have to go to another place to get work. Here, you`re having the entire  industry shut down, so many hardworking waiters, waitresses, people  cleaning dishes, people managing who have now lost their jobs, at no fault  of their own, and their entire industry is shut down. 

So, I think, when we see these numbers, they are going to be shocking. 

We`re -- I mean, I hate to say it, but it`s going to feel like a  Depression-level unemployment. And that`s why the idea that we would be  worried that we were going to hurt work incentives? I mean, look, when  you`re designing a long-term policy, of course you try to encourage people  to have more incentive to work. 

But this is not the problem here. Americans have an amazing work ethic. We  had 3.5, 3.6 unemployment. These are people who could lose everything, at  no fault of their own. And so our focus should be on getting them as much  relief as possible, the people who are losing their jobs. 

I think, Ari, it`s going to be just shocking. It may not show up in the  unemployment numbers that you see at the beginning of April. But I promise  you, at the beginning of May, the degree of unemployment in -- that will  come out that happened in April will be as shocking as we have seen in our  lifetime, and I think higher than we saw in the Great Recession. 

MELBER: Well, you just said it, shockingly high numbers arriving in May.

And stitching that humanitarian and economic impact together with what we  heard earlier in the broadcast from a doctor whose model shows May being  the time where, if things aren`t slowed, it could be the worst time for  hospitals, we have to brace ourselves for a tough period, one we can get  through, but one we will better get through with facts. 

Gene Sperling, thank you, as always, sir. 

SPERLING: My pleasure, Ari. Thanks for having me. 

MELBER: Appreciate it. 

Let me tell you a little bit about what we`re going to do in the rest of  our hour. We have covered a lot of things, including some darker and sad  topics. 

But, coming up, we have some special information about ways that Americans  are coming together to lead this fight and how they`re working together to  get the needed masks and other equipment out there, and, at the end, a  little uplift from Michelle Obama.

Stay with us. 



GOV. RALPH NORTHAM (D), VIRGINIA: The need for equipment, for PPE, is just  so, so great. It is literally in the millions. 

GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D), NEW JERSEY: Desperate need for more personal  protective equipment for our health care workers. 

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: Right now and for the foreseeable future,  we have a supply. We do not yet have secured a supply for three weeks from  now, four weeks from now, five weeks from now. 


MELBER: Just let it sink in, what we`re hearing from leaders on the front  lines. We are the richest country in the world, the United States. And we  don`t have equipment, sometimes equipment that costs less than a buck per  mask, to keep the people taking the biggest risks out there, our nurses and  doctors, to keep the rest of us safe. 

Consider this reporting from "The Washington Post." the mad scramble for  masks, gowns, and ventilators now pitting states against each other and,  yes, driving up prices. The market for medical supplies descending into,  quote, chaos. States and hospitals describing the extraordinary efforts  just to get equipment. 

We turn to Dr. Rob Davidson, emergency room doctor and executive director  of the Committee to Protect Medicare. 

Good evening. 

We have been letting the experts lead here, so I will ask for the expert  answer to the question, what is wrong with the way we do health care and  the way the government supports supplies that we`re even in this situation,  given how much money we have as a nation? 

DR. ROB DAVIDSON, EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN: Yes, it`s incredible that we  don`t have stockpiles of these items as we have stockpiles of other items  in the case of war. However, we have a president who has said he has  enacted the Defense Protection Act, and yet now we hear conflicting reports  on whether or not that has been truly operationalized. 

You know, I represent a committee of doctors in 40 states across the  country and we`ve put a letter out now with three parts to it, that over  3,500 people have signed, health care workers. One piece of that is to  fully operationalize the Defense Production Act so we can get ventilators  for our patients but also personal protective equipment for our health care  workers on the front lines. 

There isn`t enough. Even in places that haven`t seen quite adequate the  number of cases as New York, we`re running on short supply, we`re using a  mask for an entire shift in my hospital. That`s the case in most everywhere  that I hear of, that they`re using masks and using these as ways they  weren`t intended to be used. 

MELBER: Right. Well -- and it`s interesting, against the backdrop of a  presidential campaign, which, of course, is still ongoing, but there was a  lot of talk about capitalism and Democratic socialism. And I think it`s  fair to say capitalism is good at certain things. 

But it`s certainly not good at distributing these supplies to the people  who need it as mentioned, the people literally risking their lives like  health care workers. 

Take a look at this reporting from Bloomberg, an online auction out of  Texas, that notes that while protective gear shortages have health care  workers at risk, more than 750,000 masks went up online for auction. Purell  bottles going for over 40 bucks a pop, 16 masks went for 170 bucks that  normally would be $3 each. 

How shall we as a nation deal with that? 

DAVIDSON: You know, again, I think the president has the power. I think if  there was ever a time for him to be a hero in this, you know, certainly,  this entire response has been bungled since mid-January, but he has the  opportunity to pull back out of that and truly be a hero and tell us he`s  going to tell these companies they have to make this equipment and they  have to make it available at a reasonable cost. 

The federal government can be the purchaser and the distributor of these  items to places where they`re needed. We shouldn`t have my governor,  Whitmer, who is doing everything she can do for us in Michigan, competing  against Governor Cuomo in New York for equipment. We should have a  coordinated response from our federal government, putting the needs of the  entire nation first rather than, you know, the whims of corporations and  how they want to supply these items. 

MELBER: Dr. Davidson, for your work in the E.R. and your expertise tonight,  thank you. 

DAVIDSON: Thank you very much. Have a good night. 

MELBER: Appreciate it. 

DAVID: We`re going to fit in a break. When we come back, a hopeful story I  mentioned -- medical students in California helping fight this pandemic by  organizing a mask drive to distribute these very masks that people need.  One of those very students joins us. There are good things happening out  there. We`re going to bring that to you when we come back. 


MELBER: We have seen reports of more and more shortages. Medical  professionals not getting the protective equipment they need. Take this  weekend, though, something happening. Medical students at the University of  California San Francisco doing something about it. They`ve been collecting  all sorts of medical supplies for hospitals that need it. And in over three  days, they were actually able to get and then donate over 14,000 of these  critical masks. 

So, let`s get right to it. We`re joined by one of those very students.  India Perez-Urbano, a third-year medical student at UCSF. 

Thanks for joining us. Tell us about what you did here. 

INDIA PEREZ-URBANO, UCSF SCHOOL OF MEDICINE THIRD YEAR MEDICAL STUDENT: Hi.  So a lot of us medical students have been pulled out of clinical rotation,  so a dear friend of mine Hunter Jackson had the idea to hit the streets and  collect masks from the community, and we were able to get, as you said,  over 14,000 in three days. 

MELBER: And so then you passed them on. What does it tell you as someone  who is entering this profession that we have these needs, that they come up  and get worse during a crisis like this and that in this case, we need  enterprise students like yourselves to start help filling the need. 

PEREZ-URBANO: I know. This pandemic is honestly hurting the health care  system, was not prepared for something of this massive nature and it`s  unfortunate we have to turn to the community but we`re so grateful people  are generous with their donations and we hope we`ll never have to be in  this position again for sure. 

MELBER: What do you -- what do you feel as someone entering the profession  while America goes through this pandemic? 

PEREZ-URBANO: It`s an interesting time for all us. We are by nature  entering medicine because we want to help save lives and we want to feel  prepared in order to do that. At the same time, we don`t want to see our  community facing something that is just so horrific and something that we  don`t know much about. That`s the probably the scariest part. 

But all of my classmates would agree with me when I say that we are ready  to get out there to the clinic and we are ready to help out in any way  possible. 

MELBER: NYU is one of the schools that`s had students graduate early and  just go on ahead. 

What`s happening in your medical school community and what are your peers  saying? 

PEREZ-URBANO: I`m a third-year medical student and we have not been in  clinical settings for the past few weeks, and it`s unclear what that --  what our role will look like in the clinical settings. We don`t have as  much skills as a fourth-year medical student. 

But fourth-year medical students are out there and there has not been  discussions about early graduation and I think that NYU has been  considering that because the pandemic is a lot bigger over there. But this  is, you know, definitely not something that we can predict and not sure  what the future is like -- 


PEREZ-URBANO: -- but we`re hoping that we can continue in the way that we  have been. 

MELBER: Well, as I mentioned when we were getting ready to talk to you in  the broadcast, there is so much here that the obviously tragic and sad and  quite frankly scary for many people around the world. You guys stepped up  and did something you didn`t have to do, which I guess is makes you great  for the profession you`re entering. 

So, thank you for doing it. Thank you for telling us about it and good luck  to you, India Perez-Urbano. 

PEREZ-URBANO: Thank you so much. 

MELBER: Absolutely. 

And we`ll be back with one more thing. 



DJ D-NICE, DISC JOCKEY: I just wanted to do something good for people, and  it turned into something really good. So unexpected. 


MELBER: DJ D-Nice there. He was just speaking with "The Tonight Show`s"  Jimmy Fallon about how he started live-streaming his music DJ-ing to help  people come together during the self-isolation period. And that`s how  something called Club Quarantine was born. This gathering caught on drawing  over 100,000 people at a time and big names like J.Lo, Oprah, Drake,  Senator Kamala Harris, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders dropping into his  visual spinning. It`s a safe virtual gathering that has now tonight led to  this -- Michelle Obama and D-Nice teaming up to talk. 


DJ D-NICE: We`re texting eligible voters, this is for you. Our goal is to  get 50,000 new registered voters. Come on. 


MELBER: Yes, you`re looking at how Michelle Obama herself got involved. She  toted tonight`s program teaming up with him as a quote voter registration  live set. It`s taking the music club that people have been joining in, as  you saw, watching him spin and take this energy to get more people  civically involved. 

We`re sharing this because it is another reminder that while this pandemic  is hurting many people and obviously changing how we all live, there are  also ways to make sure we do keep living and support each other and keep  connecting within these obvious safety guidelines. 

If you want to connect with us online, I can tell you, you can always find  me @arimelber, that`s @arimelber on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. And, by  the way, if you do have ideas for guests or programming you want us to  consider, you can also email me if you want to call that the old-fashioned  way at 

That does it for us. You can find me again tomorrow at 6:00 p.m. Eastern on  "THE BEAT" or guest-hosting here again tomorrow at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. 

Now, "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" is up next.