ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Good evening to you, I`m Ari Melber, continuing our special coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.
Let`s begin, as we have been, with the facts. There are now over 80,000 U.S. cases here, more than 1,100 people have died. Hospitals in New York City, which is now the formal center of the pandemic in the United States facing a surge of new cases and reports of many dire circumstances.
A doctor at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens saying the rush there is downright apocalyptic, 13 people dying in a single day there. A hospital in Manhattan, Mt. Sinai west, had medical workers on social media resorting to using trash bags to try protect themselves and serve all of those people affected because of the lack of basic protective gear. You can see some of the photographs right there of nurses.
Meanwhile, Governor Andrew Cuomo was asked about those reports. He said the supply of equipment may still be enough for now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): We`ve called the individual hospitals. There is no doubt that in the past few days, you know, there`s -- maybe the distribution is a little start and stop. But we have enough PPE and the New York City officials say they have enough PPE for the New York City hospitals.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: There are now over 37,000 cases there in New York State, 385 fatalities. The governor saying the number of people hospitalized has actually jumped, get this from yesterday, it jumped by 40 percent.
Meanwhile, we just heard Dr. Deborah Birx say there should be no concern still about hospital space or ventilators. This was at the White House briefing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE RESPONSE COORDINATOR: There is no situation in the United States right now that warrants that kind of discussion. You can be thinking about it in a hospital, certainly many hospitals talk about this on a daily basis. But to say that to the American people, to make the implication that when they need a hospital bed, it`s not going to be there or when they need that ventilator, it`s not going to be there. We don`t have an evidence of that right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Meanwhile, today, we saw the first real measure of how devastating the virus is for the economy. We were just discussing this heading into tonight`s show. The Labor Department reporting 3.3 million Americans have now applied for unemployment benefits last week alone, for comparison the week before, it was just 282,000.
Today, President Trump, meanwhile, warning all 50 governors, his administration will work on new guidelines for maintaining, increasing or even relaxing social distancing in some places.
Then there is Dr. Fauci who is saying today he hopes to have a vaccine available at least in time for next --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: There`s a couple of handfuls of vaccines at different stages of development.
We hope that there aren`t a lot of people getting infected. But it is likely there will be somewhere in the world where that`s going on. So it`s likely that we will get what`s called an efficacy signal. And we will know whether or not it actually works.
If, in fact, it does, we hope to rush it to be able to have some impact on recycling in the next season. And like I said, that could be a year to a year-and-a-half.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: The doctors speaking at the White House.
And for more reporting, we have a Jill Colvin, White House Reporter for the Associated Press, and virologist and epidemiologist, Dr. Joseph Fair. Thanks to both of you for joining us.
Doctor, your explanation of Dr. Fauci explaining you have to be careful with any timelines.
DR. JOSEPH FAIR, MSNBC SCIENCE CONTRIBUTOR: Which doctor are you talking now?
MELBER: You are our doctor in this segment. Just you.
FAIR: Okay. So the timelines, I think, are absolutely appropriate. Vaccines are not simple to come up with. This is using absolutely state of the art technology. And this is a rush for a vaccine. Vaccines, just by reference, take anywhere from 5 to 20 years to put into place, and that`s including safety trials. So this is using the latest in molecular technology, something we call CRISPR, as well other modern technologies and putting a vaccine together really quickly. They`re still going to have to go through some human trials because there could be adverse effects that would lead to negative patient outcomes.
There are several vaccine candidates out there, one that was previously developed for SARS, which is being reworked now for SARS COVID-2, which is the virus responsible for COVID-19, so promising candidates there. And then on the therapy front, the transfer of convalescent serum. People that have recovered, they developed what we call neutralizing antibodies. And those antibodies actually, literally, neutralize the virus. We can transfer those into patients that are ill, acutely ill. And that has been fast tracked by the FDA.
So there is promising news on both fronts but we`re still going to be a while away from a vaccine.
MELBER: And, Doctor, listen to the president discuss the idea that people could return to work in various ways, something that obviously many medical experts have cautioned against. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our people want to work. They want to go back. They have to go back.
We have to go back. This is the United States of America. They don`t want to sit around and wait.
They`re going to be practicing, as much as you can, social distancing and washing your hands and not shaking hands and all of the things that we talked about so much. But they have to go back to work. Our country has to go back. Our country is based on that.
And I think it`s going to happen pretty quickly. I think it`s going to happen pretty quickly. A lot of progress is made. But we got to go back to work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Doctor, for the argument there seems to be apply these precautions while ignoring the main one, which is to stay home if you can. Your response.
FAIR: As a public health official, and politics completely aside, as a public health official, I think that would be absolutely devastating and make this problem far more worse than it is right now.
And I completely get the need to go back to work. I worked as a waiter all through college every night, I needed those tips. Every night, they made my rent or made my groceries, so I get that need.
That being said, I think you discussed this earlier, if, say, and this is purely hypothetical, and I`m just making up states here, if New York shuts down two weeks and New Jersey chooses a separate two weeks to shut down, those cases from New Jersey can come back into New York and then it all starts over again. So until we do this nationally, then we`re not going to be able to extinguish this.
This is akin to another natural disaster, it would be a forest fire. And what do you do during a forest fire? You clear cut around the forest fire to contain it. So we have to do this all over the nation because the worst fire spread throughout the nation. It`s less in some parts but we have it in all 50 states.
I would also say this -- sorry, go ahead.
MELBER: No, you, please.
FAIR: Well, I was just going to say, it`s up to the individual governors of these states of when they lift their mandates. What we have from the federal government thus far are guidelines and guidelines are not laws. So lifting guidelines or leaving in place guidelines means absolutely nothing to the governors of each state. And I would urge the governors that have the stay-at-home -- shelter-in-place and stay-at-home orders to keep those at least for another couple of weeks, two to four weeks, in fact. And the other ones that don`t have that in place yet, I urge you to do it, just because you are going to see it. Even if you are not seeing it bad now, you are going to see it get worse.
I mean, Jill, what the doctor is saying here is basically the best thing medically is to try to ignore the president. That would help people stay focused. That`s not great news to the United States, whether you like the president or not. But day after day, he`s going out saying these things. And the point about these precautions not being laws is quite vital. Because, Jill, and I look to your reporting of how the White House deals with this, but a lot of folks around the country are looking at the risk, they`re looking at a death toll and they may soon need to choose between ignoring their president and doing what is, according to the experts, the safest thing.
JILL COLVIN, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Exactly. And we`ll also see a situation where you all have local leaders, governors, mayors, who potentially then will have to conflict with the federal suggestions here in what they should be doing. The problem is that this country, just like the doctor was saying, there are no borders between states. People travel freely between states.
And I am told is that the White House task force, those doctors will be delivering the president a series of options over the next weekend. We`re then expecting the president to make some recommendations early next week to the country. Today, the White House sent out a letter to governors across the country, saying they were considering this idea of classifying counties as either low risk, medium risk or high risk.
But I spoke to a high level official at the White House just before coming on today, and they said that the plan is not expected to include telling high-risk -- people who live in those high-risk states or counties, telling them not to leave. They`re not expecting any kind of suggested restrictions on low-risk states and you shouldn`t accept people.
So the problem here then is how do you prevent those cases spreading across country, counties, states that don`t have a lot of cases now, how do you prevent them from becoming the next New York, especially when we are at a point in testing in this country when even people have symptoms.
COLVIN: Even people who want to be tested have not been tested. We have no idea what the rates are in some many of these places, even though Dr. Birx today talked about how they are working to gather information.
MELBER: Well, as you said, other parts of the country don`t want to become the next New York and the United States doesn`t want to become the next China. But, of course, we`re already second only to China. There are other countries that have also been dealt tough hands but have used measures and their healthcare systems to try to combat this, some doing better than the United States.
I want to thank Jill Colvin for the reporting and Dr. Fair here for all of your analysis and expertise.
I want to tell viewers something else. You know, today, Governor Cuomo was stressing the need for more ventilators to address this ongoing crisis.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: We`re still shopping for ventilators all across the country. We need more. We have approved a technology that allows one ventilator to serve two patients, what they call splitting, which is where you add a second set of tubes to a ventilator to do two patients. It`s not ideal but we believe it`s workable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: We are joined now by the Dr. Craig Spencer, Director of Global Health and Emergency Medicine at New York Presbyterian Columbia University Medical Center. Thank you for joining us.
Your view of these ongoing shortages, both the facts, which we saw were disputed to some degree by the coronavirus task force today and what the United States should do about it.
DR. CRAIG SPENCER, DIRECTOR OF GLOBAL HEALTH AND EMERGENCY MEDICINE, NEW YORK PRESBYTERIAN COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: Yes, thanks for having me on.
Look, I`m not a politician. I`m a physician. What I am noticing is there is a disconnect between the political reporting and the reality me and my colleagues are seeing in the emergency departments throughout New York City. The most important message that everyone needs to understand is that the virus cannot infect you if you the virus does not find you. So this idea of us going back to normal life, filling churches, going back to work in a couple of weeks, to me, also would be a disaster given that everyone is talking about not wanting to be the next New York.
In New York, we`re still seeing a huge upswing in the number of cases. We haven`t crested, we haven`t peaked. We`re not on the downswing, we`re still on the upswing.
So I think what`s really important right now is we need to be listening to doctors, not politicians. We need to lead, get us the personal protective equipment, I need to take care of my patients. Get us the ventilators we need to keep people alive. Because the harsh reality is that even if the streets look calm, the situation inside of our hospitals here in New York City is dire.
MELBER: Right. Doctor, since we came on the air tonight, we have now -- United States surpassed China as the country with the highest number of virus cases worldwide. How did that happen?
SPENCER: I think the unfortunate reality is that it happened because we`re reactively responding to a crisis many of us knew was coming. I`ve written articles before, a bunch of other public health professionals have written articles saying, a pandemic is coming and the United States has torn apart the pandemic preparedness architecture over the past couple years. We have drastically underfunded the CDC. We have underfunded our local health departments. We have cut funding to the World Health Organization, really crippling its ability to respond around the world.
It`s important to remember we are so connected today, a virus in China that emerges in November and December can be here and sweep around the world within just a couple weeks and a couple of months. They`re now connected. We need to think about how we respond to these threats globally.
MELBER: Does that mean, sir, that what you are saying, to put a fine point on it is, this was not inevitable, this is a consequence of both how it`s spread, which may be somewhat unpredictable but also a consequence of policy choices, that if they had been made better, the United States wouldn`t have this sad distinction tonight for the first time of being the most viruses in the world?
SPENCER: You point out two really important things. The first one, this virus is, for lack of a better word, perfect. It spreads so well. It doesn`t kill a relatively high number of people that it infects but it infects so many. It passes before people have a lot of symptoms. This is a virus that`s going to cause a pandemic. So part of the problem is that this virus is perfect for doing what it`s going to do.
The second point that you made is that we weren`t prepared, we weren`t prepared, so we are reactively responding to a crisis that we could have proactively prepared for at a fraction of the cost that would have protected not just us here in the United States but every person on the face of this Earth.
MELBER: Dr. Spencer, you get the last word at the top of the hour here. I appreciate your expertise and your service.
After the break, we have a lot more in tonight`s special coverage. There`s new reporting the White House ignored the key pandemic blueprint that was prepared by its own National Security Council, holding the White House accountable.
Also later, something we are very excited about, and that involves Michelle Obama and this D.J., D-Nice, who livestreamed Club Quarantine and is helping people get registered to vote during a time of isolation. We`ll explain later this hour.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We never had an economy like we had just a few weeks ago, and then it got hit with something that nobody could have ever thought possible.
This came out of nowhere. Nobody could imagine this even happened.
Nobody could have ever seen something like this coming, but now we know.
Nobody ever thought a thing like this could happen. We were talking about millions of masks and you are talking about all of the things you are talking about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: President Trump often claiming that nobody could have seen this outbreak coming. But that`s not true. In fact, there is a wealth of both scientific and investigative documentation of how this was coming and how the White House has also ignored the warning signs.
Politico reporting the White House had a playbook about how to handle the pandemic. The 69-page document finished back in 2016 provided a step-by- step list of priorities which were then, quote, ignored by the Trump administration.
The story notes that Trump`s own staff lagged behind the timeline laid out. For instance, the government could have begun a federal-wide effort to procure, yes, personal protective equipment two months ago.
The White House also ignoring warnings out of China, "The Washington Post" reporting U.S. intelligence agencies issued ominous warnings as far back as January, but Trump publicly and privately played it down.
Also, according to outside observers and federal health officials, the messaging from the White House minimize the disease, fueling a lackluster response that missed chances to slow the spread.
I`m joined now by Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney of New York from the House Intelligence Committee, and Betsy Woodruff Swan, a national correspondent at Politico.
Betsy, given all the reporting, your -- what you found and what you think the implications are?
BETSY WOODRUFF SWAN, POLITICO: This is excellent reporting from my colleagues.
And I think one of the most important highlights, as you mentioned, is what they found about this initial NSC plan regarding the fact that, if a pandemic struck, the need for that protective equipment, so we`re talking masks, gowns, gloves -- not all of this is particularly technologically sophisticated -- the need for that protective equipment would have the potential to skyrocket.
On top of that. This is equipment that`s needed not just in the health care sector, but for any number of government employees who have to interact with the public to keep the public safe.
I chatted earlier this morning with a union official who represents TSA officers, who said one of their concerns is that, because they go through so much protective equipment every day, including gloves, and surgical facial masks, they`re worried that, down the road, those officers could be facing shortages as well.
The fact that NSC officials had predicted that this problem would come, but the White House wasn`t ready to field it, is something that, historically, is going to appear to be one of the dark -- one of the many dark moments of this episode.
MELBER: Congressman, as I mentioned before the break, we come on the air tonight, and for the first time are reporting that the U.S. leads the world in these virus cases.
And yet it had more of advanced warning than some countries, because we are, by definition, not the origin state.
Do you view that as a statement about the spread of the virus, or about the Trump administration`s response?
REP. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY (D-NY): Look, I think you have done a great job on this network, and it`s been documented extensively, how ill-prepared this administration was, but not just ill-prepared, meaning they had to do things when the crisis broke.
They were ill-prepared because of their own arrogance. It`s reminiscent of other disasters in earlier times. Think about the unsinkable Titanic. Think about the arrogance that led people to ignore warnings and steam ahead blindly, despite the dangers.
That`s what it means when you disband the pandemic response office. That`s what it means when you tear up a plan someone else has carefully prepared. It`s the arrogance that is going to cost us lives.
MELBER: What do you say to defenders of the president who argue that, if the criticism is that this was not being taken seriously, the public was not being warned, the information was largely open-source available, they say, well, it`s not as if Joe Biden was out there warning everyone or banging the drum on this in January?
MALONEY: Look, we went through this during the Ebola crisis.
And the outcome was very, very different. Now, no one is blaming the administration for a pandemic, but it is a fact that, had they taken the early warnings seriously, had the president not been happy talking it, had they have been in action, we would not right now in New York be scrambling in a life-and-death struggle to get enough ventilators to keep people alive.
MALONEY: I spent a good part of the day...
MELBER: Sir, let me sharpen the question. Let me sharpen the question for you and then let you respond, because you`re saying a very true response about how bad it is.
But I want to give you the benefit of the opportunity to address the comparative question, which is, the president`s defenders argue, not necessarily that it`s perfect, but that if you date back to January or February, the potential likely Democratic nominee, for example, Joe Biden, was not using his platform.
He was not out there warning everyone about this virus very much. What do you say to that specific argument or defense?
MALONEY: What I say is -- I would say, respectfully, I would not be using my airtime to care about that right now, because, in New York, people are going to die if we don`t get enough supplies.
So, the right question is not what someone who was not president was doing, someone who was engaged in a primary campaign, and not the president of the United States, was doing.
The right question is, what did the president do that is still in the way or not do that is still preventing in New York having enough ventilators, having enough hospital capacity? That`s the point.
Right now is not the time to be engaging in this what-about nonsense. That`s, all due respect, some Republican talking point. Other people can kick that around.
In my state, people are going to die if they don`t get the right equipment. I would put my focus there, please.
MELBER: Betsy, I will give you a chance to respond to what the congressman said, and also reading some more from this reporting.
"Foreign Policy" magazine reporting, the Trump administration`s catastrophe-plagued strategic surprise basically subjected this to -- quote -- "the American people, but unlike others strategic surprises" -- and they name Pearl Harbor or 9/11 -- quote -- "the current one was brought about by unprecedented indifference, even willful negligence," Betsy.
WOODRUFF SWAN: The issue of indifference is a really interesting and important one.
The H-E-B grocery store chain in Texas saw this coming. "Texas Monthly," I believe, is the publication that has a big piece out about the fact that these grocery store managers realized they were going to get potentially hit by a pandemic back in January.
They worked with their colleagues and suppliers in China and Italy to start gaming out what changes they would need in order to keep their stores shelved, in order to protect their employees, to keep their employees from leaving.
And now, interestingly, it`s one of the grocery store chains that, according to that report, seems to be doing fairly well. You don`t have to have super spook intelligence. You didn`t have to have it back in January to recognize and prepare for the possibility that we could face a really catastrophic moment.
Another piece of this that is important when we talk about the White House response, this has been highlighted, but I think sometimes people -- it gets lost in the alphabet soup -- is the fact that the National Security Council under the Trump administration disbounded -- disbanded its directorate that handled global pandemic preparedness.
The reason that`s important is that the U.S. government is really big. There are tons and tons of people in it. Pick a topic, you can find an expert in the U.S. government. Unless you have a hub for all the spokes of that wheel, though, those experts aren`t going to be blinded and a little bit...
WOODRUFF SWAN: And it`ll be harder for them to do the jobs they need to do.
MELBER: Betsy Woodruff Swan with the reporting.
And, Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney, I appreciate you taking the questions and your vigorous response, as your community, like so many, is battling this.
Thanks to both of you.
We`re going to fit in a break and then do something a little different. I will be joined by deejay D-Nice. He`s been throwing these online virtual parties to help encourage social distancing.
And then Michelle Obama got involved.
We will explain when we return.
MELBER: Welcome back to our special coverage.
And now we turn to something a little uplifting. Surely, we can all feel how this pandemic is reshaping the way we live. Once packed destinations from Times Square to the French Quarter are empty, barren, the people who used to gather there sheltering at home.
While medical experts note this new normal is obviously stressful, in fact, they formally recommend we seek out fun and connection. CDC guidelines suggest not only social distancing, but also that you curb stress by doing things you enjoy, which happens to bring us to this much nicer, happy story, alongside the pandemic we`re living through.
It`s one you may have heard about, the hugely popular virtual parties hosted online by D-Nice, a 49-year-old Bronx deejay with decades of music experience.
Now, he has been livestreaming his deejay sets that you see right there from his kitchen. And it took off, bringing hundreds of thousands of people together in one virtual room, millions over several days.
What started out organically ballooned and went viral. Fans call it Club Quarantine. And it beat out a lot of bad news to trend at one point number one across the United States on social media, including virtual visits from Will Smith, to J.Lo, to Kamala Harris, to Joe Biden, to Oprah.
D-Nice welcoming the unity and calling out different people as they pop up within his virtual music room, including the rapper M.C. Lyte.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DERRICK "D-NICE" JONES, CELEBRITY DEEJAY: We`re all coming together tonight. This is the biggest party in the world. Biggest party in the world. What`s up, everybody?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Biggest party in the world.
And that virtual party has been fostering fun and connection for days now. It`s helped a lot of people pass the time while they follow social distancing, isolating at home.
And that`s not all. D-Nice performed at the Obama inaugural ball back in the day, and he just teamed back up with Michelle Obama last night for a virtual event teeing off all of this and promoting new voter registration.
It all shows there ain`t no party like a conscious party, because a conscious party mixes good people, good music, and a little collective work towards social justice.
So, it`s my honor right now tonight to be joined by the deejay on the ones and twos, live from Club Quarantine, Bronx deejay D-Nice, Derrick Jones, for his first cable news interview about the wave he started.
What`s up, man?
JONES: I`m fantastic. How are you?
MELBER: I`m great. I really appreciate you doing this.
I guess the first question has to be, do you take requests?
JONES: Never. I don`t take requests at all.
MELBER: No real deejay -- no real deejay takes requests.
JONES: No, no.
MELBER: But my first serious question really is, this took off. How did it get started?
JONES: It started here, like literally in my, well, living room/kitchen, on the island here. And I was home alone, and just decided the feeling that I have isn`t unique, that there are a lot of people that are home, and wishing they could be out.
And I just decided to start, like, a little party. Initially, I thought it was only going to be for, like, some of my friends that follow me. So, it started out with 200 -- literally, one week ago today, 200 people in my I.G. Live chat, to where, Saturday, we had like 100,000 and, then Sunday we had 165,000 people listening to me play music.
And people were coming in and feeling this uplift. I mentioned some of the names. I mean, what did you think and feel when you saw everyone from Diddy to Joe Biden to Kamala Harris in your party?
JONES: So, with the -- the feeling for me was -- I`m used to deejaying events like this. So I have worked with Diddy, and I have worked with Kamala, and, obviously, I have worked with Joe Biden during the inaugural ball.
And the feeling was great, because they were in my world. Usually, I`m in their world. So, coming back to my world and having them in my space, where I could play whatever it -- whatever it was that I wanted to, was a great feeling. It was a great feeling.
Someone people may know is Swizz Beatz, who`s worked with a lot of different artists. He`s, of course, married to Alicia Keys. He was shouting you out. Let`s take a quick look at that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SWIZZ BEATZ, MUSIC PRODUCER: Today was just crazy, man, like, looking at D- Nice with 100,000 people. He filled up a stadium. Today was very, very honorable. And it made me feel good.
I know it`s a hard time, but we making real good times out of these hard times, because that`s what we do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: What lessons do you draw from this and the outpouring?
JONES: Honestly, one of the biggest lessons I have learned is that I feel like we hit reset on life.
I know it`s a hard time, but now we start -- we`re starting to see what`s really important to us, like family and friends and community. And that was a -- that was part of the experience that I had.
It was all of these people that lifted me up. I mean, just imagine being in -- I was feeling alone at home. And I felt so connected to people through music, through playing music on this -- on the gear here in my living room. It was like this virtual world that I was into.
And people came together. And we were together screaming. When we crossed like 100,000 people, everyone was screaming. You could see people posting drinks and toasting it up.
JONES: And it was just -- it was just beautiful, man. It was beautiful.
MELBER: It is beautiful. It is beautiful, because when we talk about this, sometimes, the world we live in and technology, we talk about how it separates us.
But, right now, we have to be separated to be healthy and protect each other.
MELBER: So, what you had there was this unity and people coming together.
A lot of our audience, of course, knows first lady Michelle Obama, who is enormously popular, had her bestselling book, still doing all kinds of work.
I will show what it looked like when she popped up. This is up on our screen, Michelle dropping -- I will just read it off -- the fire emoji and the dancing emoji.
MELBER: And then you guys last night teamed up to ride this wave for voter registration.
Can you tell us what kind of response you got for that?
JONES: Man, that was -- it was incredible.
Like, we started out. The goal was set for us to just register 50,000 new voters. And by the end of the three-hour set, we`d registered 407,000 new voters.
So, it`s -- I mean, out of this bad time, we`re turning -- we`re making some great progress and doing some fantastic things. And that happened to be one of them.
MELBER: So, you had all those hundreds of thousand people responding to get more active, to get engaged to vote, because they started out in the club, you`re saying?
JONES: Absolutely, in this virtual club. They started out in the virtual club.
And we called it a party with a purpose. Like, it was really the couch -- we called it a couch party. But my friends and the people that were in there, it was -- they just felt good to party with the purpose. Like, the purpose was to get out and get new -- and register new voters.
And we did -- we did very well with it.
MELBER: Party with a purpose is a perfect way to put it.
I think a lot of people coming around, inspired by what you`re doing. As you said, it was so organic, it came from the heart. And I think, I hope a lot of us can learn something from you as we go through what are potentially tough times for a while.
So, deejay D-Nice, thank you for coming through. I appreciate you.
JONES: Now, you know we`re big fans, man. It`s good to see you, brother.
MELBER: Good to see you. Thank you, sir.
JONES: All right.
MELBER: I`m going to fit in a commercial break here, but ahead we have scientists who are going to break down the key medical answers to your biggest questions when we come back.
MELBER: Welcome back. It has been just over two month as the very first case the coronavirus hit home here in the United States. We have been learning a lot more since then.
We want to get right to some specialists to answer the questions that have been developing. Dr. Joseph Fair back with us and also joining us, Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute.
Let`s get to it.
Dr. Jha, what are we learning about the fatality rate of the virus and who is most susceptible?
DR. ASHISH JHA, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE DIRECTOR: Yes. So, Ari, we don`t know the exact mortality rate. I mean, we don`t know how many die. Our best guess is it`s about 1 percent, 1 out of 100 get infected.
And we have seen much higher numbers in Italy. Our numbers are lower right now in the U.S. we`re still early. We have a lot of sick people, worried a lot may end up dying. So, I`m still going with 1, 1.5 percent is probably our best guest. It could be lower, a little higher.
MELBER: And, Dr. Fair, how does the coronavirus differ from this comparison we often hear, the flu?
DR. JOSEPH FAIR, VIROLOGIST & EPIDEMIOLOGIST: Well, it`s the case fatality rate and -- you know, case fatality rates are taken by knowing how many people are positive and how many people die after their positive. Right now, without the testing, we can`t give an accurate face mortality rate. It compares with the flu, it`s much more deadly as the flu, it`s as contagious as the flu.
We do see a lot more flu cases every year. But keep in mind, we`re only three months into this. So, you know, we may see flu level numbers and are likely going to see the seasonal dip in the summer. We will definitely see this coming back in the fall as Dr. Fauci predicted.
MELBER: Let me turn back to Dr. Jha and take another question that`s come up a lot. So, if people can spread this virus without knowing, right, without showing symptoms, without knowing in their own mind even that they even are suspicious, they might have let alone obviously really feeling like you have it, does that mean there`s really no way to tell who is infected or who is not absent the tests, which remain rare for so many communities?
JHA: No, this is why we have to do all this social distancing stuff, right, because there is no way to know. Unless you had a test, you can`t tell that you are infected or not. And what we know is that asymptomatic people, people who otherwise feel fine, going around, a lot of them are spreading the infection. They have it. They either may never develop symptoms or they`re pre-symptomatic. They will develop in a few days.
So, it`s really tough to catch those people unless you are testing them.
MELBER: And, Dr. Fair, we`ve heard about a lot of different treatments as well as other research to try to get this under control. Without any sense of false hope or expedited timeline, can you speak to all of that?
FAIR: Well, right now, there is a couple things or many things I should say ongoing so treatment wise, the most promising and oldest in tried and true method is the transfer of convalescent serum. So, that`s someone that`s recovered from the illness and they are developed what we call either IGM or IGG anti-bodies. IGM means you were recently exposed eventually over time in four-to-six weeks, that transfers into what we call IGG antibodies. And they literally neutralize the virus when it comes back into your system, and that`s what you would call immunity.
So we take the plasma or serum from that individual and we physically transfer it into an individual that`s acutely ill. And by doing so, you are giving them the tools they need to catch up. It neutralizes the virus in their system.
So, the FDA has fast-tracked that as a treatment for this virus so that`s one thing. That`s very promising. Like I said, it`s been around more than a century, longer that we have been doing that. Otherwise -- I`m sorry, go ahead.
MELBER: Before you go on, though, Dr. Fair, let`s dig into that reference. You talk about immunity.
Help people understand then if you aren`t killed by it, we are tracking all these sad cases for those who die and those who aren`t killed and recover, what level of immunity would they then have?
FAIR: It`s going to depend on how much dosage you have and how sick, you know, to determine how much immunity you have. And really, there is a couple studies out that have been performed, the monkey model of what we do most animal model testing and have shown they can`t be re-infected at least immediately.
So, we`ve heard cases, and I know everyone has heard about this, of people getting re-infected. What likely happened in those cases is they had false negative tests and they weren`t ever actually clear of the virus. They just tested positive at a later date, having not cleared it in the first place.
FAIR: So, there is typically with respiratory viruses, most viruses, in fact, you are going to develop some sort of immunity that`s going to last anywhere from weeks to months to maybe even years. We have no idea what that is going to be. The only way they`re going to do that, know that, rather, if we study individuals that have survived both from China, Italy, Spain and the United States, and the longer we go out will determine how many -- how long they`re still producing those neutralizing antibodies that I was talking about earlier.
MELBER: Understood. Really helpful.
Finally to you, Dr. Jha, folks who are watching this broadcast, at times we had a map on the screen. Obviously, you can see the global map behind you, the U.S. map clearly has areas that are harder hit, you see it here, the yellow is better. And the red is worse. New York, California, Texas, obviously, places with high population density.
So, Dr. Jha, when we hear that that White House is proposing a potential quote tiered reopening of society, does that in any way match the map? Is that a possible idea or does that in your view add risk?
JHA: So, first of all, the idea of a tier opening is perfectly reasonable, and I appreciate that that`s the White House wants to do. That`s fine. There are parts of our country that will have more cases than others, higher risks for reopening versus others. That`s not a bad approach at all.
The problem is that you only know who is high risk or low risk when you have extensive testing. What I`m worried about is a lot of places don`t have a lot of cases because we haven`t been testing people. So, they may actually have a lot of disease, but if you haven`t been testing them, they look fine. And if you open up those places, you are going to get into a lot of trouble very, very quickly.
MELBER: So --
JHA: That strategy works if you can test people. Yes.
MELBER: Let me put a fine point on that we have been trying to cut through it and be evidence-driven throughout.
What you are saying I think very diplomatically, let`s call it your excellent bedside manner if you will, but what you are saying diplomatically is the what I the president is talking about a quote tiered approach reflects a misunderstanding of the risk assessment right now?
JHA: Look, and I do want to make this point. I`m not trying to be diplomatic. I think a tiered approach is probably right. I think the question is, what are you tiering it on and how confident are you that places you think are lower risk are actually lower risk? I`m saying I don`t think anyone knows what the low risk places are? Because we`re not doing enough testing.
MELBER: And that is really important when you put it like that.
So, we`re going to fit in a break. I want to thank both of our doctors. We`ve been endeavoring to do special thing as the hour goes on. And we have something else when we come back after this.
MELBER: We are back with Dr. Joseph Fair and Dr. Ashish Jha.
And as I mentioned, there is a big, big question that`s hung over everyone watching today`s White House coronavirus briefing and I can tell you, that`s millions and millions of Americans, and that is could this actually become a seasonal disease?
Dr. Fauci raised that issue in a manner of speaking.
Starting -- start with Dr. Fair.
FAIR: Yes, absolutely. I mean, we fully expect that it will. As Dr. Fauci has mentioned and I mentioned, you know, the southern hemisphere has cases and they are going into winter months. We do expect a seasonal dip in the summer months that`s primary due to sunlight, has nothing to do with temperature but sunlight and UV light inactivates the virus and so it leads to just less transmission by physics.
And so when that southern -- unless we cut the southern hem fear off all together, we`ll have imported cases but we still do get colds and flus in the summer and we fully expect this will be back in the fall.
MELBER: Dr. Jha?
JHA: Yes, I think that`s entirely possible and I`m actually worried about the fall, because if you go back to the last global pandemic from 100 years ago, the 1918 flu pandemic, we had lots of cases, millions of people died in the spring. Summer got mellow and people basically relaxed and the fall it came back with a vengeance and killed tens of millions of people.
So, we have to -- if things really do become much more -- the cases drop off in the summer, we have use that time to get ready for the fall because the fall, it will probably be much, much worse than what we`re seeing now.
MELBER: So, I never want to oversimplify because we`re trying to just follow all this, but, Dr. Jha, are you basically saying this is potentially a, quote, new flu? It`s a new worse flu?
JHA: Look, I`m not worried this will stay with us for many, many years. Of course, flu is seasonal and each year the strain is a bit different. I think we`re in for a pretty bumpy ride over the next 12 to 18 months, and what I`m worried about is if things get a bit more relaxed and a little less bad in the summer, we`ll all think that it`s over and we`re done and that would be a mistake.
So I just want to make sure we stay focused on what might end up being quite a bad fall and winter if we get through the spring into the summer.
MELBER: Dr. Fair, I have 40 seconds.
FAIR: Yes, I completely agree with Dr. Jha`s statement. I -- you know, we fully expect this to come back in the fall. We have to use our summer months and presumably the dip in summer months to prepare that. So, that should be focused on ventilators, personal protective equipment and primarily diagnostics and getting everyone tested that can be tested to determine if they have antibodies and they have had it, or anyone that is acutely ill, if they have it then.
MELBER: Appreciate both of you, particularly this emphasis you both make on 12 to 18 months bumpy ride. The precautions we need to take. The only thing worse than bad news as I`ve reminded viewers is lies that pretend bad news is good news.
So giving it to us straight is helpful as we around the country take these precautions.
Dr. Fair, Dr. Jha, thanks to both of you.
We have to fit in a break and "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" is coming up, and we will be right back.
MELBER: Thanks for sticking with our special coverage throughout the air. I`m Ari Melber, signing off. If you want to connect with us online, you can always find me @AriMelber on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. By the way, if you have ideas or questions, we`ve been tackling some of them, you can always get ahold of me the old fashion way on email, firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will be back at 6:00 p.m. and guest hosting at 7:00 p.m. as well.
But don`t go anywhere right now. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" is up next.
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