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Easter restrictions TRANSCRIPT: 4/10/20, MSNBC Live: Decision 2020

Guests: Steve Schmidt, Gregory Meeks, Keisha Lance Bottoms, Michael Curry


ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Thanks for watching. Stay safe, stay informed. And keep it right here on MSNBC.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Good evening. I`m Joy Reid continuing our coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.

So I guess, at a certain point, it becomes difficult to know what else to say. On the one hand, there are the numbers, which are historically awful. As of this hour, there are more than 493,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases in this country, and more than 18,000 Americans have lost their lives to the virus.

And, on the other hand, there is the president of the United States, who, just one month ago, today, said Americans just be calm about the growing pandemic.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are prepared and we are doing a great job with it. And it will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away.

But everybody has to be vigilant and has to be careful. But be calm. It`s really working out and a lot of good things are going to happen.


REID: Just stay calm.

Fast forward to today, more than three weeks in social distancing to stop the spread, and Trump is now doing this performance where he weighs when to relax those guidelines, even though his own health experts acknowledge the virus hasn`t peaked in many areas. And there`s that small matter of the Constitution, a little thing called federalism, which lets state officials make this call. But, no, no, no, Trump says it`s his decision.


TRUMP: Somebody said it`s totally up to the president. I saw this morning. It`s totally up, and it is. I will say this. I want to get it open as soon as we can. We have to get our country open, Jeff.

REPORTER: Can you say, Sir, what metrics you will use to make that decision?

TRUMP: The metrics right here. That`s my metrics. That`s all I can do. I can listen to 35 people. At the end, I`ve got to make a decision.


REID: Nope. no, it`s not. Federalism, Constitution, Look it up.

Yet, according to The Washington Post, behind closed doors, Trump, concerned with the sagging economy, has sought a strategy for resuming business activity by May 1st. Today, when pressed on whether he be guided, even if he did have the authority, by his health experts, Trump said he respects Dr. Anthony Fauci so much that Fauci should, get this, run for Congress against New York`s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

OK. Luckily, Dr. Fauci had something more substantive to say.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: But it`s important to remember that this is not the time to feel that since we have made such important advance in the sense of success of the mitigation that we need to be pulling back at all.


REID: Meanwhile, in New York, which is the epicenter of the coronavirus crisis, at least for now, there was another chilling reminder of the virus toll. This video shows workers digging a trench on New York City`s Hart Island to accommodate an increase in burials. Officials say workers are now burying as many as 25 people per day.

There are more than 170,000 cases in New York, and more than 7,800 deaths. But, today, Governor Andrew Cuomo said there are encouraging signs that New York is flattening its curve. Still, Cuomo added that any talk of relaxing restrictions will depend on, say it with me, testing.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): The key to reopening is going to be testing. I`ve said that from day one. It`s not going to be a light switch where you flip this economy like you flip a light switch. And It`s going to be reliant on testing, testing of antibodies, testing for diagnostic results and testing on a scale that we have not done before.


REID: And according to documents obtained by The New York Times, Donald Trump`s own Department of Health and Human Services is warning of a spike in infections if guidelines were lifted after only 30 days.

I am joined now by former Missouri Senator, Claire McCaskill. Steve Schmidt, Republican Strategist, and MSNBC Science Contributor, Dr. Joseph Fair. I`m going to go reverse order.

Dr. Fair, I have ranted to you about this behind the scenes. I am going to now rant to you about it in public, on television. The idea that you could even think about relaxing restrictions on social distancing and somehow Trump can`t order governors to reopen the economy. That`s just in his head. But even if governors were to take his advice, let`s say in Florida or some other state, if we are not mass testing people, does that make any sense at all?

DR. JOSEPH FAIR, MSNBC SCIENCE CONTRIBUTOR: It doesn`t. And, you know, the truth is you have to do both of them at the same time. It`s not a one or the other deal. The social distancing, we are going to have to do whether we have testing or not. But, ideally, for us to put an end to the outbreak and or pandemic, rather, we are going to have to have both in place. And not just one type of test.

You know, we`ve talked about the antibody test a little bit that tells you if you`ve had COVID-19 and, you know, or if you are going to be relatively immune to it for some time to come. You know, that could be a safe way to go back to work. But without those kind of tests in place, then we don`t have any way to do it safely.

REID: And let me play for you, guys. This is Peter Alexander from NBC questioning Trump on this very question about widespread testing. Here is the question. Here is the Q and A with Trump.


PETER ALEXANDER, MSNBC REPORTER: Given it`s invisible, without widespread testing, how would you know?

TRUMP: Well, I think that we`re going to have it in retreat. Will it be today? No. Tomorrow? No. But it will be. At a certain point in the not too distant future, it will be gone.

ALEXANDER: And how about the widespread testing, specifically my question?

TRUMP: Well, we`ll know, we`ll know because people aren`t going to go to the hospital. People aren`t going to get sick. You going to know that without -- but we are going to do very substantial testing. We are doing more testing right now than any other country in the world by far.


REID: So, Dr. Fair, Donald Trump is saying that he will know that you don`t need widespread testing because people aren`t going to the hospital, and, therefore, you can let people go back because they`re not going to the hospital. Again, as somebody who is an expert in this, you dealt with this with the Ebola pandemic, does that make any sense?

FAIR: No, and, you know, and, again, it`s going to come back to testing. Most of these tests, you should be able to do them at your home. I would suspect the serology or antibody test that we talked about that`s at least going to be a finger prick and it`s going to be a blood test that you do pretty quickly. So that`s going to be somewhat akin to like a pregnancy test and as far as how long it takes, and you can visually read it.

But without that testing, without acute testing to say that you either have it or you don`t and then without knowing that you`ve had it in the past, you are still very much at risk for getting it. So that`s something you want to know with these antibody tests.

REID: The frustration of it, I guess, is -- and I`ll go to you, Senator McCaskill, is that, Donald Trump is pretending to be an expert in things of which Dr. Fair is an expert. I`m not an expert. We are not experts. People like Dr. Fair are experts. But he doesn`t want to hear that. He wants to hear himself talk on this T.V. show he is doing every day.

There is a New York Times report that says that even some Republicans, who never get frustrated with Trump no matter what he does, are getting frustrated with him. Hear is a bit of it. White House allies and Republican lawmakers increasingly believe the briefings are hurting the president more than helping him. Many who view the sessions as a kind of original sin, from which all of his misstep flow once he gets through his prepared script and turns to his preferred style of extemporaneous bluster and invective.

Yet the publicity-obsessed president is unlikely to relinquish his grip on the evening sessions. Mr. Trump, has told aides he relishes the free television airtime, of course, and the boffo rating that come with his appearances, according to administration official.

He did over two hours today, Claire. He`s not going to stop and he`s not giving anyone any information, and he`s not an expert.

CLAIRE MCCASKILL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I don`t think he really gets it, that, for most Americans, they are startled by his lack of empathy. They are startled by his failure to recognize the bodies piling up and the families that are in desperate need to want to be with their very ill loved ones all across this country.

And, you know, here is a thing, Joy, he`s on really tricky political ground here. I love Steve`s take on this too. Let`s say, for a minute, that he ignores the experts and he ignores the fact that it has been, in fact, social distancing that has brought about this downturn in hospitalizations and ICU admittance. And let`s assume that he ignores the experts and says let`s ramp this thing back up and that most of the Republican states go along with him. It`s going to spike. And where is he going to be politically then?

If you are just talking politics, which is all this guy knows how to talk about, he doesn`t have a bone of empathy in his body. So it really is, I think, a very politically dangerous thing for him to do, because if he does this, and the infections spike, as the experts say they will, then he is, once again, in that briefing room saying, well, gosh, everybody should stay home.

REID: Yes, and no one could have known, you would say. Steve, let`s go to you on that. Because here is the thing, you don`t have to wonder. There are governors who are so supine in the face of Donald Trump, that the governor of a state with more people than New York, Florida, hesitated and hesitated and hesitated waiting for a sign that Donald Trump would be OK with him to closing down beaches and closing down the schools, the governor of Georgia, you go to Alabama. These red states that are going to get hit, they do what he says. So can you answer Claire`s question? How does that hypothetical wind-up looking?

STEVE SCHMIDT, FMR. REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I think Trump has made the political calculation that nobody is going to be in front of him on the line to reopen the economy. And the reality right now, as the deaths pile up, this is an economic catastrophe that`s slowly unrolling across the country, where you see hours long food lines, where millions and millions of Americans will simply be out of money and that the resources given to them by the federal government are just insufficient.

So I think at the end, Trump is calculating saying that this will move on. But when it does, the economic issue, who can get the economy started fastest, who can return the economy to a place of robustness most quickly, that`s what the American people are going to be focused on. So I think that`s his political calculation.

But what we saw again today, Joy, is this deadly combination of traits by Trump in the middle of the worst crisis of the 21st century and one of the great crises in the history of the country where the nation has been shuttered. He is incapable of relaying information accurately, number one. He sows confusion. He`s been indecisive as a leader. His delays, his incompetence, his ignorance has turned deadly. So there has been a deadly consequence for the fact that Donald Trump is sitting in the Oval Office as the most unprepared president in American history to deal with any type of crisis, let alone a crisis of this magnitude.

And so, now, we watch I think as a country, as we see someone who, a month ago, was saying this will all go away, it will disappear, somebody who was telling the American people, don`t worry about it, somebody who was abetted by his propagandas on Fox News and other places, saying, this was the flu when they come in cold. Now, we are paying the price for it, and the damage that could have been mitigated but wasn`t is really incalculable.

REID: Right. And the thing that is confounding to me, Dr. Fair, is that even if Donald Trump is only capable of acting out of pure self-interest, then the way to get what Steve just described as a reopening of the economy, particularly and hugely important economic engine states like New York, would have been to mass test. Because if you are mass testing in a state and you are mass producing the quick test, the quick-turn test, then you can determine who can go back to work.

And you could -- South Korea and the United States announced their first cases the exact day. They are now in position where they can start to reopen parts of their economy. I am confounded that Trump didn`t act in self-interest to do what would have turned out to be the right thing.

FAIR: Yes. it is confusing and I think it points back to us engaging the private sector much later than we need to do so. So now, we have a number of private sector companies that are involved in making diagnostic tests for COVID-19. And that`s in addition to the private laboratories that are the tests themselves. So blanketing those tests out everywhere across the nation, be it rural or urban and hospital laboratories or public health laboratories, anyone with the capacity to take them on, that`s what we`re going to have to do.

REID: Yes, indeed. In this, I want to go back to Claire and Steve on this because this, because is another turn. Donald Trump`s go-to is to find some country, some foreign country, foreign people, with whom -- on who to pin the blame, China. He tried to label this virus after the country. And, now, his new thing is to running ads. His campaign is a running ad. The tweet won`t show that shows Joe Biden, the former vice president of the United States, in their mind, in some wrong and nefarious way, engaging Chinese leaders. But they put in an American. They picture an American. Gary Locke, the former governor of Washington state in the ad. As somebody who has been an elected official, I have to get your comment on this, Claire, first.

MCCASSKILL: Well, first of all, the ad is insulting because he is actually trying to convince Americans that Joe Biden is somehow on China`s side.

And, by the way, this is coming from a president who took Putin`s side against his own intelligence community, who took Kim Jong-un`s side against our allies, who has consistently turned to despots and thugs as the ones he wants to buddy up with instead of the leaders of the democracies that are our best friends in the world.

So the notion that he is trying to make Americans think that Joe Biden is somehow not on their side and on China`s side, but they weren`t even sophisticated enough to realize that they were putting in the ad of a former American governor. It is incredibly inappropriate and it is just raw xenophobia.

REID: And, Steve, can you just -- I`ll give you last word on this. The idea that Donald Trump called the virus brilliant and called Vladimir Putin but he won`t call or even use the name of the governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer, he won`t call her, but he`ll call Russia. It is a strange person that is running the country at the moment in a very odd way. I`ll just give you the last word on that.

SCHMIDT: No doubt. And I think it bears mentioning that what we are going to see is stoking of nationalism in this country. We will see an anti- Chinese campaign. And we will see, in the 2020 election, the Chinese playing the role that Mexicans did in the 2016 election. Geopolitically, at a moment of American weakness, of course, that`s dangerous.

But I do think it`s important to say that two things can be true at the same time. One, the Chinese could have been very late in informing the world about the extent of this, which is true, and, two, they could have been profoundly dishonest about their representations around it, while what is also the case is that Donald Trump has been inept, incompetent, and dishonest, imprecise and unempathetic in his responses.

So I think it`s very important for Joe Biden, for the Democrats, not to fall into this trap and to wind up looking sympathetic in the eyes of American voters towards the Chinese government, who the entire world has legitimate reason to be very angry about for their mishandling of this in the early days.

And so when we would look back in history, what we would have seen from Barack Obama back through Harry Truman is an American president calling for an international convention on pandemics about how we bring the world together, how American leadership can drive towards a solution. Instead, we have the American delegation saying no to a communique because they won`t use the word, Wuhan flu.

So it`s theater of the absurd that tops off every evening at the 6:00 follies where the American people are lied to, nonstop, where he sows confusion, where he sows division, where he attacks the people who need help the most. We`ve never seen a dereliction of duty. We have never seen a level of unfitness for command. We have never seen a president more visibly failing hour by hour to meet the moment, to meet the test of history that we are seeing with Donald John Trump, the 45th President of the United States.

And I think by the time we get to the end of it, someone who will be universally regarded by historians, along with Buchanan, the 15th President who prefaced the civil war, as the worst commander in chief in American history.

REID: Yes. Andrew Johnson has got to be flipping in his grave with glee because he is also moving up the rails.

I would also note the threats to the AAPI community are real as a result of that kind of language. And the word of the United States is supposed to be significantly more trustworthy than the word of China. But Donald Trump making it all equal out there now in terms of mistrust.

Senator Claire McCaskill, Steve Schmidt, Dr. Joseph Fair, thank you all very much.

And coming up, a stark warning from the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): We could have a depression because so many people are out of work. And that`s why we have to get the system really energized and working. Let`s get out those unemployment checks. Let`s get out those direct payments.


REID: Now, the fight is on on Capitol Hill over additional relief funding. Democrats say Mitch McConnell is more interested in political stunts than in negotiating a new package.

And the coming showdown over mail-in voting. Apparently, it`s good enough for the president but not for the majority of Americans who have been forced by Donald Trump`s fellow Republicans to wait in long, endless lines at crowded election sites during a pandemic.

We`ve got so much more to go, stay with us.


DIRK BOGSMILLER, ILLINOIS SMALL BUSINESS OWNER: They`re saying it could be a couple days. It could be two weeks. It could be a month. There`s absolutely no definitive answer on this.

In the meantime, you know, we`re all dealing. All small businesses around this country, millions of people, are dealing with being closed and an uncertain future.



REID: Welcome back.

With 16 million Americans applying for unemployment over the last three weeks, J.P. Morgan Chase is now predicting that, by the end of June, the unemployment rate will hit 20 percent, which is ominously close to the historic peak of the Great Depression.

One economist told "The New York Times": "It`s as if the economy, as a whole, has fallen into some sudden black hole. Now just two weeks after the $2.2 trillion CARES Act was passed, the Senate is again at an impasse.

Yesterday, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tried to push through another $250 billion for small businesses by unanimous consent. That means passing the bill without a roll call vote.

But Senate Democrats objected, calling for a larger bill with additional relief to hospitals and local governments, as well as placing conditions on the small business funds.

Needless to say, both proposals failed.

I am joined now by Congressman Gregory Meeks of New York.

Congressman, the thing that I hear back from friends who own businesses and restaurants in Harlem and in New York around is that the money that was allocated to them is slow in coming, difficult to apply for, and not enough to allow them to keep their staffs on board.

Is that what you are hearing from your constituents? And what do you think needs to change in that next bill?

REP. GREGORY MEEKS (D-NY): Yes, there is a lot of problems that we have got to fix.

Number one, when you look at the big banks, primarily, they are only catering to their customers. So, if you don`t have a business account with one of the big banks, many of them are saying that they will not put through your loan.

And then when you look at a lot of small businesses may deal with community banks, deal with CDFIs and minority development -- minority depository institutions, they do not have access to SBA because they have not been able to work with them in the past.

So their customers have no access. So you have a double whammy, from the small banks who would not be able to access the money the SBA has, the large banks, who are not accepting individuals who don`t have business relationships with them.

So it leaves a lot of the smaller businesses that live and work in districts like mine out and not having access to these dollars. So we have got to fix it, so that there are more small businesses having access directly through SBA to get some dollars into the hands of these small businesses.

If the big banks won`t do it, we need to get some fintechs and others in there that will partner with some of these small banks so they can get access to this money.

REID: Right, because we know particularly that minority-owned businesses and women-owned businesses have trouble getting loans anyway, even without a pandemic. So, yes, that is something that definitely needs to be addressed.

The other issue that you hear a lot from folks is, the money is too slow, that their bills were due. April 1 was rent day for a lot of people. They still have not seen this check, which is not really stimulus, but this check that is supposed to be coming from the CARES Act.

Here`s what Politico reports. Americans will get access to that money next week, but if they have direct deposit bank accounts. Paper checks for people without direct deposit would start going out next month, though some could take up to five months to reach recipients.

What are people supposed to do who are unbanked? And that`s a lot of minority communities. They don`t even banks. What is going to be done about the usury rates at check cashing stores, if people have to cash their checks that way or at the supermarket?

What is going to be done for people who can`t wait a month or two for that money?

MEEKS: Yes. That`s the crack that we have got to fill. That`s what are some of the conversations that we are having right now to fill that crack.

So what we did do, at one point, if an individual was receiving SSI or Social Security in any manner or receiving any other funds from the government, but did not have enough to file for their income tax, they were being left out.

But through the fights that we had, that was fixed. So if you receiving SSI or any other type of money from the government directly into an account, you are getting those dollars.

But for individuals who are unbanked -- and we know that there is a large number of individuals who are unbanked in a community like mine and others -- they are out of luck. They have got to wait for the paper to come in, the paper checks to come in.

And it just seems to be longer to get those manufactured. And so we`re trying to work and trying to figure out, with Treasury and with the IRS, how can those checks be printed in a faster and more time-efficient manner to get into the hands of the individuals who desperately need it, so that they can pay their bills and buy some food for them?

And that`s something that we are being talk -- talking to right now -- or talking about, so that we can fix that problem and get those checks, those physical checks, into the hands much more quicker than right now is being predicted.

REID: Right. Right.

We`re out of time, but I very quickly want to ask you, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, he used the word, "It`s disgusting to me," saying that Democrats want to hold up the bill because they want to change election laws for November.

This is an integral thing. If people don`t have access to mail in their votes, they have to take the risk that people took in Wisconsin and risk their health, maybe their lives, to vote.

Republicans, for some reason, don`t want to do it, even though that is how Trump votes. Is it going to be possible for Democrats to get voting reform for this November election into the next bill?

MEEKS: It has to be. It`s disgusting, to me that an individual who is a member of Congress don`t want people to vote.

It`s the very essence of our society is our democracy. People vote. People died for the right to vote. And we must be able to vote in November. And so we should pass a bill to promote the very thing that we tell everybody else is extremely important, our democracy and the right to vote.

And so for someone to say we should not put the money in so that every American, every American, Democrat, Republican, independent, have the right to vote and be able to vote, it`s disgusting to me that you would even say that, something like that would even come out of your mouth. That`s not who we are as a country. Our country is getting people to vote.

REID: Yes, amen.

People died for the right to vote. That doesn`t mean that people have to risk doing it again. That makes absolutely no sense.

MEEKS: That`s right.

REID: Congressman Gregory Meeks, thank you so much. Really appreciate -- really appreciate your time, sir. Thank you. Be safe.

And up next: Mayors of cities large and small have a secret weapon when it comes to confronting this unprecedented crisis. And that would be each other.

We will talk with the mayor of Atlanta about how her city and her fellow mayors are coping right after this.

So, stay with us.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Honestly, I`m a bit angry right now. We have had some nice weather the past few days in Chicago.

And it appears that people have forgotten that we are in the midst of a public health crisis. I don`t understand why the sidewalks, the paths, the parks are filled with people.




DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We`re the federal government. We`re not supposed to stand on street corners doing testing.

Frankly, they were -- many of the states were totally unprepared for this. So, we had to go into the federal stockpile. But we`re not an ordering clerk.

We have done a hell of a job. The federal government has really stepped up.

QUESTION: But what I`m asking is, what more specifically do you want the governor of Washington and the governor of Michigan to do?

TRUMP: All I want them to do -- very simple -- I want them to be appreciative.


REID: Standing in the street corners testing would actually be quite good for the country.

Anyway, welcome back.

From the very beginning, Donald Trump has made it clear that, in his view, it`s not his job to do everything, or maybe even much of anything, for anybody.

Despite trying to bully the press into treating him like a war president, he`s refused to take any responsibility for the disjointed and piecemeal response to the pandemic, during which many local leaders have been left to fend for themselves.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms told Politico -- quote -- "We have taken a lot of steps, not knowing what the federal government would do, but assuming we have to go it alone -- we would have to go it alone."

For more now, I am joined by Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.

And, Mayor, thank you so much for being here.

Before I jump in to allowing you to talk about what you guys have had to do on your own, without really much help from the federal government, I want to play for you an exchange between Yamiche Alcindor, a great reporter, and the current surgeon general of the United States.

Let me take -- let you take a listen to that.


DR. JEROME ADAMS, SURGEON GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES: Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and drugs. And call your friends and family.

Check in on your mother. She wants to hear from you right now. And speaking of mothers, we need you to do this, if not for yourself, then for your abuela. Do it for your granddaddy. Do it for your big mama. Do it for your pop-pop.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR, "PBS NEWSHOUR": There are some people online that are really offended by that language and the idea that you`re saying behaviors might be leading to high death rates.

Could you talk about whether or not -- could you, I guess, have a response for people who might be offended by the language that you used?

ADAMS: Well, I use that language because that`s the language -- I have been meeting with the NAACP, with the National Medical Association, with others.

I actually talked to Derrick Johnson multiple times this week, the head of the NAACP. And we need targeted outreach to the African-American community. And I use the language that is used in my family.


REID: Madam Mayor, you have a lot of African-American constituents.

Will they appreciate that language about mom-mom and pop-pop, et cetera, from the surgeon general?

MAYOR KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS (D-GA): Thanks for having me, joy.

I think that you have to speak to communities in the way that information will be received. And I understand the sensitivities around it.

But the reality is this. A disproportionate amount of deaths are in the African-American community. And I have even reached out to many of our influencers in Atlanta to ask them to please help with the messaging.

The way that my 18-year-old listens to me is very differently than the way he listens to someone who is speaking to him on Instagram. And so it doesn`t offend me that we are looking at targeted messaging.

But what does offend me is his lack of sensitivity at the federal level to what`s happening to our communities. Our communities, people of color are dying at a higher rate than anyone else.

And I didn`t need statistics to tell me that. I knew it when I started seeing people who I knew testing positive. And what I knew is that, given the numbers that I was seeing coming from our state, there was no way that I could possibly know that many people who were testing positive.

But then I realized, it`s because it`s happening especially in the black and brown community. And so I think, in whatever way we need to get the messaging out, in whatever way it will be heard and received, we have got to get it out, because this is killing us. And I don`t want us to wait until it`s too late.

REID: Indeed. And, I mean, that is a very fair point.

And one of the ways in which communities are sort of trying to bend this curve is by everyone wearing masks now. That`s the new thinking coming out of the CDC, that everyone should wear them when they go out.

For black communities, that is also complicated, because there are laws, in many states, that forbid you covering your face. We know that black people are overpoliced, overstopped, stop-and-frisked.

I want to read for you just a little bit. There was a story about two men - - this is not in your state -- that were kicked out of a Walmart for wearing protective masks.

A recent report of a police officer following young black men who wore masks while shopping has amplified fears among people of color of being profiled as criminals or gang members. Civil rights leaders, politicians, and community activists warn that concerns of racial bias will discourage black people from wearing masks to protect themselves and others, further increasing their exposure to a virus that is disproportionally, as you said, infecting and killing African-Americans.

It`s easy to say, go out and get yourself a bandana and turn it into a makeshift mask, but for black communities that is more complicated.

BOTTOMS: It is much more complicated.

And it`s the reason, Joy, when I woke up this morning, I remembered that there is a law on the books in our state that prohibits people from wearing masks in our state. I immediately called our city attorney and asked her to draft up an order for me to sign that says our officers will not enforce that ordinance.

And so I think, as local leaders, we have to be very thoughtful about what impacts our communities and what will be -- what`s going to be the side effect of many of the recommendations that are coming down from the CDC.

And so, if there`s a law on the books that says it`s illegal for you to wear a mask in the state of Georgia, then we have to assume, at some point, somebody`s going to be arrested for wearing a mask in the state of Georgia.

So I have instructed our local police department not to arrest anyone, not to enforce that part of the law. And I think that`s important for local leaders to do across the country. Think about the things that impact your community. Think about ways that we can make changes, because, unfortunately, we can`t look to the federal government for consistency in messaging or even in recommendations.

And so we -- you know, there is a saying, God bless the child who`s got its own. That`s been my mantra throughout this pandemic, and I know it`s shared by many mayors across the country.

REID: Indeed.

Before I let you go, I have to play you this ad from a congressional candidate, a former 10th District House seat holder who is running again for Congress. His name is Paul Broun.

And he references your city, and so I want to get your comment. Take a listen.


PAUL BROUN (R), GEORGIA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: In uncertain times like these, the right to defend yourself, your property, or your family could not be more important.

Whether it`s looting hordes from Atlanta or a tyrannical government from Washington, there are few better liberty machines than an AR-15.


REID: And when you have a federal response, as light and sort of ineffective as it is, you still do have people who respond in really bizarre ways, as you just saw.

How much does that also increase the risk for communities of color when you have people like that walking around saying hordes of looters from Atlanta are what they need to protect themselves with weapons of war?

BOTTOMS: You know, Joy, it`s unfortunate that, while we socially distance, we can`t distance ourselves from stupid people.

I think that`s silly. And I think that it is highly offensive in the middle of a pandemic, where people should be coming together, that we have someone who is attempting to distance communities even more.

And so it it`s silly. It`s a gimmick. And I would hope that, if -- people recognize that elections matter. If people never realized that before, I hope, during this time, that we really pay attention to how much our votes actually count, and, again, not blaming anyone for this pandemic.

But, certainly, you can blame many for our response to this pandemic. And I think it`s very clear who`s stepped up and who has not. And I hope that we will be very thoughtful about that when we go and cast our ballots.

REID: Amen. Amen, indeed. Thank you very much for saying that. I think that is more than true.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, thank you so much for being here tonight. And please be safe. Thank you.

BOTTOMS: Thank you.

REID: And still ahead: Religious -- thank you.

Still ahead: Religion communities are entering a holy weekend like no other, with many churches refusing to close their doors to worshipers, despite the extreme health risk, and many states unwilling to make them.

The presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church joins me next.

Stay with us.


REID: Welcome back.

Governors across the country have been warning people to stay home for Easter. Many churches held virtual services for Good Friday today.

And they plan to do so on Sunday as well, with some states allowing drive- in services.

However, some churches say they will defy stay-at-home orders. And there are the more than 10 states that have deemed churches to be essential services, allowing services, with proper social distancing, to continue.

Here is Florida Governor Ron DeSantis justifying that decision.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): As we have said many times, the state of Florida is not going to, through government coercion, close a church, synagogue, or place of worship.

But we have advocated that folks worship in a way that`s consistent with social distancing guidelines. And I know that most establishments are doing that. And I know there is different ways to do it.


REID: And the battle over religious freedom has hit a tipping point in Kansas, with the Democratic governor and Republican lawmakers going to court over the question of whether religious gatherings are exempt from the state`s stay-at-home order.

And that is up next.


REID: Welcome back.

Days before Easter, a battle over religious freedom is breaking in Kansas, where Democratic Governor Laura Kelly is taking Republican lawmakers in her state to court, after they rescinded her executive order that would include churches in the state`s ban on gatherings of more than 10 people.

Kelly decided to extend that ban after health officials learned that church events were responsible for three clusters of coronavirus outbreaks across the state.

Here`s how she just -- how she responded to those Republicans yesterday:


GOV. LAURA KELLY (D-KS): The actions of the Republican legislative leaders jeopardize both the health and safety of Kansans.

We do not have time to play political games during a pandemic.


REID: The Kansas Supreme Court will hear the case tomorrow.

I`m joined now by Reverend Michael Curry, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church.

And, sir, thank you so much for being here on this Good Friday.

And I want to start by reading you a little piece from "The Washington Post." And it says the following, that churches are coronavirus clusters.

"Churches, temples and other places of worship nationwide," they write, "where congregants sits close, take communion, share hugs and handshakes and pecks on the cheek, have served as hothouses for the virus, with religious gatherings exacerbating outbreaks in New Rochelle, New York, Washington, D.C., Glenview, Illinois, and Sacramento, among others."

And yet you have a lot of religious leaders, particularly on the right, insisting they`re going to gather anyway. Can you understand why they would want to do that?


The truth is, for those of us who are Christian and other people of faith and goodwill, as a Christian, Jesus taught me that the supreme law of God is to love God and to love my neighbor as myself.

In this moment of a pandemic, in this moment when my being in a crowd of people might well hurt someone else, might spread this virus, in this moment, to love your neighbor means to stay home and to physically distance yourself.

That`s what love looks like in this moment. You know, Jesus -- I know you didn`t ask for a sermon, but Jesus told a parable called the parable of the good samaritan, and he did it when he was talking to somebody about love and loving your neighbor.

And the person said, well, who is my neighbor? And that`s when Jesus told the parable of the good samaritan. And in the parable, the samaritan helped somebody he didn`t know, helped a stranger, somebody who was different. He helped that person because they were a child of God.

And Jesus asked the person he was talking to, now, who was neighbor to that man? And the man replied the one who showed mercy. And Jesus said, go and do thou likewise.

I would say to my Christian brothers and sisters, I would say to all people of goodwill of any faith, go and do likewise. Show mercy, compassion. Worship God online. Worship God at home, and keep other people safe.

That, I believe, is the loving thing and the right thing.

REID: Yes.

Well, I will always take a sermon from you, Reverend Curry, absolutely.


REID: You know, for a lot of Christians, particularly white conservative Christians, Donald Trump is the leader, as sort of defender of the faith.

And they pretty much follow his lead. Here he is talking about Easter services from his point of view. And let me let you take a listen to that.


TRUMP: Most of the pastors agree that they are better off doing what they`re doing, which is distancing.

They feel that, let`s get this over with, and they want to get back to church so badly. I mean, can you imagine? We have Easter Sunday, and I`m going to be watching Pastor Robert Jeffress, who has been a great guy. Did I tell you? He`s been a great guy.

And I`m going to be watching on a laptop. Now, a laptop is not the same as being in his church or being in another church. It`s not, and no matter what you say.


REID: Now, whether or not you believe, Pastor Jeffress` ministry aside, that Donald Trump is a frequent churchgoer or would be watching this on laptop, putting that aside, it is it -- how dangerous is it for Donald Trump to have asserted this kind of leadership over a religious community that is devoted to him, and to lead in this way, to say that it would be a shame to watch the service on a laptop, rather than go to church and risk your life?

CURRY: As a Christian, my leader is Jesus Christ.

And my leader says, the supreme law of God is to love God and love your neighbor as yourself. And if I have to worship God using a laptop, which is what I`m doing and what I have been doing, in order to love my neighbor, that`s what I`m called to do, because Jesus of Nazareth has taught me to do that.

And so I just think it`s really not very complex. It`s really not hard to understand. And I will be preaching. I have been preaching all Holy Week. I will be preaching at the National Cathedral on this Sunday, on Easter Sunday.

But I won`t physically be there. I preached the sermon to this iPhone this morning, and we have sent it to the National Cathedral. And it will be livestreamed.

God will be praised, the word will be preached, and the people will gather at a social distance online. The Bible says...

REID: There you go.

CURRY: ... we must worship God in spirit and in truth. And you can do it online.

REID: Yes. Amen. Well, you`re going to get an amen from me.

CURRY: Amen.


REID: Bishop Michael Curry, thank you very much.

Now we know what we can watch on Easter Sunday.

Thank you, sir, so much.

CURRY: Thank you.

REID: And up next, something really special.


REID: Across the country, medical workers are receiving standing ovations from Americans and from first responders.

Take a look at what happened tonight outside Jamaica Hospital Medical Center in Queens, New York.




REID: That does it for me.

That`s awesome.

Be sure to tune in to "AM JOY" tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. And, on Sunday, catch my interviews with Congresswoman Ilhan Omar and House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff.

Thanks so much for being with us.

Don`t go anywhere. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" is up next.