phased reopening plan TRANSCRIPT: 5/6/20, MSNBC Live: Decision 2020

Guests: Peter Baker; Doug Jones, Asa Hutchinson, Leana Wen, David Katz, Jon Taffer

  ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST:  You heard that right. I guess it brings me to a Lil Wayne I thought I`d never say on the news, two words you never hear, Wayne quit. Flush and watch them go down the drain quick.

And that does it for us. Good night.

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening from New York. I`m Steve Kornacki.

President Trump reversed course today on the most public aspect of his administration`s response to the coronavirus. It was only yesterday, as you`ll recall, that the president made the surprising announcement that he intended to wind downed the official White House Coronavirus Task Force. But today, less than 24 hours later, he announced on Twitter that, quote, the task force will continue on indefinitely with his focus on safety and opening our country again.

Now, that task force has become almost universally known to Americans through the very public presence of two of its key members, Doctors Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx, who participated in many of the president`s press briefing sessions, which have been a daily affair until last week. Both also have given countless interviews providing information answering questions about what officials have been learning about this virus and its spread.

Fauci became particularly famous, famous enough that Brad Pitt portrayed him on a recent Saturday Night Live episode. The president that he was taken aback by the reaction that his plan for phasing out the task force created.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT:  I thought we could wind it down sooner but I had no idea how popular the task force is until actually actually yesterday. When I started talking about winding it down, I got calls from very respected people saying, I think it would be better to keep it going.

So let`s keeping it going, and so we`ll be doing that. But we`ll be adding some people to it, actually.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI:  Now, this reversal comes as Trump continues to try to turn the focus toward the economy and to encourage states to begin reopening and as his critics accuse him of trying to turn the page on this crisis long before it`s over. When asked yesterday why he was dissolving the task force, the president said it was, in part, because he objected to keeping the country closed downed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP:  Mike Pence and the task force have done a great job. But we`re now looking at a little bit of a different form, and that form is safety and opening. And we`ll have a different group probably set up for that.

REPORTER:  Can you just explain why is now the time to wind down that task force?

TRUMP:  Well, because we can`t keep our country closed for the next five years.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI:  Trump indicating that the move now to shuffle the membership of the task force is part of his push to begin reopening the economy. Yesterday, the president acknowledged that even a limited opening will lead to an increase in new cases. The the question now is will that increase be more dramatic or will it be more modest?

I`m joined by Peter Baker, Chief White House Correspondent for The New York Times. Peter, thank you for joining us.

So what happened here? 24 hours ago, it was going to be wound down. Now it`s back up and running. What changed the president`s mind?

PETER BAKER, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT:  Yes, it`s interesting. As the tape you played indicated, I think he was surprised by the blowback. In fact, there are a lot of people out there who do not see this as being in our rearview mirror. Death toll estimates have only gone up in the last few days, not down. And while thing obviously seem to be a little better in New York, thank goodness, if you take out New York, the rest of the country is seeing more cases and more deaths, not fewer.

And so I think that that blowback obviously got to the president and made him understand that people are not ready to move that quickly. Polls show that by a factor of usually about two to one, people would rather stay closed longer, even at risk to the economy than open too quickly at a risk of substantial new cases and deaths. And that`s a calculation that`s a difficult for any president, any governor to make, but at this point, you know, the president is showing signs that he is impatient to move forward, the economy is obviously hurting so much that he wants to begin to reopen as quickly as possible, that there is a cost to be paid and the question is how much.

KORNACKI:  So the task force is still up and running. The president though saying he wants to focus on safety and opening up America, indicating there might be some new members joining this task force, might be a shuffling that`s taking place. What is this task force going to look like? Do we have a sense of it? Are Fauci and Birx still going to be public faces of it? What`s it going to look like now that the president is keeping it?

BAKER:  Yes. Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx will remain members of the task force, they`re telling us, at the very least, nominally. Whether we`ll see them quite as much as we have over the last six or eight weeks, probably not as much. Clearly, what the president wants this task force to do is reorient its mission, the mission being how to reopen safely and quickly as possible.

Now, that doesn`t mean that it`s entirely an economic-based committee. Obviously, he has a number of advisory committees he`s created, including a lot of executives and so forth advising about that. But he can use a task force like this to talk about what precautions are necessary, what kind of ramping up of testing and equipment would be helpful at this point, are states abiding by the guidelines that the CDC itself put out for how to think about reopening in phases.

So far, we see about half of the states are moving toward, you know, reopening in terms of whether it be beaches or parks or golf courses or even some businesses, but a number of them are doing so without meeting those federal guidelines. And the question is, how is the president going to react to that. The president, so far, has remained relatively quiet on states going further than his own government is recommending, because I think he does feel this great this great impatience to get the economy going again.

KORNACKI:  The New York Times, your paper, also reporting on a team of volunteers that Jared Kushner brought into the administration to help secure critical materials from potential vendors. Quoting from the article here, drawn from venture capital and private equity firms, the volunteers had little to no experience with government procurement procedures.

And according to documents obtained by The Times, quote, many of them were told to prioritize tips from political allies and associates of President Trump, tracked on a spreadsheet called VIP update, but few of the leads, VIP or otherwise, panned out, according to a whistleblower memo written by one volunteer and sent to the House Oversight Committee.

Peter, this work that Jared Kushner has been doing, there`s certainly been plenty of criticism of it. It involves protective equipment, procuring protective equipment, also involves trying to ramp up testing, trying to get those drive-through testing centers the president talked about a while back up and running. What is the status of the work? How much progress has been made? How much progress is left in terms of the mission that Jared Kushner`s task force has been charged with here?

BAKER:  Look, this is the mission that Jared Kushner declared a few days ago. It was a great success story. And they have, obviously, a record of point too in terms of ventilators and other equipment that has been distributed, these air bridge flights that have come in from other countries.

But the trick is, as our reporting showed, that bringing in these friends of his from private business, motivated by the idea of getting entrepreneurs who can cut through bureaucratic red tape, the reality is that they didn`t have the experience that would help them figure out what really is necessary and how to move this kind of equipment in a quick and efficient way.

So a lot of these tips that were brought in by political cronies, friends and allies, even a Fox News host ends up weighing in rather than having sort of a systematized program run by experts who have done this in the past. And I think that we saw the cost of that in some of these emails that my colleagues obtained.

KORNACKI:  All right. Thank you, Peter Baker. I appreciate the time.

And President Trump today said the public won`t stand for the country remaining shut down even if easing restrictions comes with a cost.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER:  Will the nation just have to accept the idea that by reopening, there will be more cases, there will be more deaths?

TRUMP:  I call these people warriors. And I`m actually calling now, as you know, John, the nation warriors. We have to be warriors. We can`t keep our country closed down for years, and we have to do something. And, hopefully, that won`t be the case, John, but it could very well be the case. But we can`t have our whole country out. We can`t do it. The country won`t take it. It won`t stand it, it`s not sustainable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI:  And as governors continue the process of limited re-openings of parts of their state economies, cases are still rising in parts of the country, including in some less densely populated state.

For more, I`m joined by Democratic Senator Doug Jones of Alabama. Senator, thank for you joining us.

I`m curious, big picture, how you look at the goal right now. We were told about two months ago we were entering a very mitigation phase. People were going to stay home, it`s going to be a huge hit to the economy, going to flatten the curve. You`re seeing the curve flatten in a lot of these states. You`re seeing this plateau in deaths, not coming down, not going up kind of plateauing. Where does that leave us? What is the goal right now? How do you balance reopening with the human cost?

SEN. DOUG JONES (D-AL):  Well, that is, I think, the big question right now, Steve, is to how to balance. I think one of the problems that we`ve got right now is that the American public is so interested in trying to get back to work, trying to get back to work, to enjoy life again, where they`ve been shut down. That when we start talking about reopening, that`s about all they hear.

And what I would like to see is a flipping of the narrative when we talk about, look, we want to start reopening, but here is the big key. We`ve got to wear the mask, like you`re showing now. We`ve got to continue to do the social distancing.

People are pent up, but we`ve got to maintain and we`ve got to do this gradually and we`ve got to do this in a really safe and healthy way, and I think most businesses want to do that. I think people, by and large, will do that, but we`ve got to give that message.

We`ve got to not only deliver that message, we`ve got to show people, we`ve got to wear the masks ourselves. When I was at home and around here in D.C. this week, I had a mask on every time I walked outside my little enclave here. Whether it was in my apartment building or on the street, I always had a mask. And I think we have to demonstrate that.

KORNACKI:  Let me ask you about what`s going on in the state you represent, in Alabama. We see these limited re-openings of parts of the economy. You`re talking about in Alabama retail stores being allowed to reopen but there`s a cap there. Only 50 percent of the capacity they can have in terms of people in there. What you`re talking about in terms of social distancing, that is required in terms of what`s going on in the store. Beaches in your state can reopen, you can`t have more than ten people together. Is that a good balance, do you think, in terms of trying to strike this balance you`re talking about? Is that too much, too little, just right?

JONES:  No. I really think the governor did a very good of trying to strike that balance. The problem that we are having, what we`re seeing in Alabama right now is the enforcement. You`ve got sheriffs in Alabama who are basically saying they`re not going to enforce this when it comes to retail, when it comes to churches, and those kinds of things.

And I think one of the things people have to recognize is how important those guidelines are. I love Governor Ivey, did a really well, good job of making sure that she tried hit that balance, to let people start coming out and doing those things. And it`s not only up to the enforcement. It`s a real culture change. People have to start getting used to this for a little bit longer.

We do not have a vaccine. We`re not going to have one for a while. We`ve got to make sure that folks understand that you can transmit this disease without showing any symptoms, whatsoever. And so we`ve got to make sure people do that.

So I think that balance is there. But even in Alabama, the models that everybody has used, Steve, the White House has used, Alabama has used, all of a sudden, has shown projected deaths to go up from like 300 to 2,300 by the first of August. So I am sure and I hope that the governor is taking a look so that we can see where we will go in the next step, which will come at some point.

KORNACKI:  I mean, I`m curious, you mentioned those sort of scary projections about where this could be going in the next few months. When you think ahead, let`s say six months or so, into the fall, Alabama, that`s the football capital of America. It`s like a second religion down there. It sounds like though on what the way you`re talking and the kinds of projections that are there, that`s the kind of thing we`re not going to have. Do you think we`re going to have football stadiums this fall anytime, University of Alabama football anytime this fall?

JONES:  Steve, I sure hope so. But what people have to understand, what we do today, what we`re doing right now and this month and next month will depend on whether we have that football. They`re not thinking about that. I don`t believe as much as they should be. Everything we do now makes a difference down the road.

And that`s why people can just get used to this. Hopefully, we will be able have that. I`ll talk to a couple of college universities today, presidents (ph), and they are talking about they want to have their kids come back, but they`ve got the caveat. They don`t know where things are going to be. We may, I think, well end up having football some way. I really hope we got fans in the stands, whether it is a full Stadium or a partial stadium, which is going to raise all kinds of issues if you start parceling out tickets to Alabama football.

But the point is, the fact of the matter of is we have to understand that we still have only partial control of this virus. It is still out there. It`s going to be out there. And what we do today is completely dependent on how much we get to do this summer and next fall.

KORNACKI:  All right. Senator Doug Jones from Alabama, thank you for the time.

JONES:  My pleasure, Steve. Take care.

KORNACKI:  All right. And coming up, how do states safely begin returning to normal without risking loss of life? And what if the American people don`t believe the politicians who say it`s safe to open up? Stay with us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GLYNIS DONNELLY, SMALL BUSINESS OWNER:  I`m hopeful that the government is going to come up with some more funding for the small businesses that still need that money that haven`t received it. And I`m very hopeful that our government is going to take care of both the big businesses as well as the small businesses alike.

And I just -- I feel certain that it won`t be too much longer, and the doors will be open again and people will be coming here, making friends and shopping.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP:  I`ve given the leeway to the governors. If I see something wrong, we`ll stop it. But I have given leeway to the governors to make that decision. You have some governors, most of whom I have great respect for. They`re working very hard. They`re watching closely. But we have given leeway to the governors to make those decisions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI:  Welcome back. With President Trump`s encouragement, governors in 38 states have taken steps to begin partially reopening. Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson was one of eight governors who did not impose a statewide stay-at-home order and the first phase of reopening in Arkansas is already under way.

On Monday, gyms and fitness centers reopened with mandatory screening for those who enter and 12-foot spacing required.

Also on Monday, large outdoor venues, like stadiums and concert venues with audiences of fewer than 50 people were allowed to reopen, along with places of worship.

Today, close contact businesses, these are barber shops, hair salons, tattoo parlors, they can open for appointments and they are maxed out at 30 percent capacity.

Next Monday, dine-in restaurants can follow with similar restrictions.

And on Nay 18th, large indoor venues, theaters and arenas, can resume operations, again, with audiences of fewer than 50 people.

Yesterday, Governor Hutchinson lifted the restriction on recreational travel into the state, while travel from hotspots like New York is still prohibited. Right now, there are more than 3,500 confirmed cases in Arkansas. 83 people have died.

The governor of Arkansas, Asa Hutchinson, joins me now. Governor, thank you for joining us. I appreciate this.

Let me just ask you the question. You hear this all the time when you hear of any state beginning this process of reopening, say the testing is not in place at the level that it needs to be. And if you`ll start lessening these restrictions, there is going to be a spread, there is going to be more cases, and with that, there are going to be more deaths. What`s your reaction to that?

GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON (R-AR):  Well, first of all, it`s good to be with you.

And we didn`t have a shelter-in-place order. We had a targeted approach to dealing with the coronavirus. And now that we`re at this stage, we`re looking at the numbers very carefully, and we`re not just opening it all up at once.

We`re doing a phased-in approach, as you articulated, where we can measure exactly where there might be a problem.

In terms of our testing, we met all the criteria for phase one opening, which we have done. And the testing, it`s important to be able to do the contact tracing, to do all of our medical and our health care professionals and health care workers, and then also to be able to respond if we have an outbreak.

And we have got that capacity. We want to build it more. Our goal this month is to do 2 percent of the population in Arkansas, which would be 60,000 tests. But we have a good sense as to where we are. We have fewer than 100 hospitalizations. Our trend is going down. It`s been downward for 14 days.

We`re going to have some outbreaks here and there, but we want to be able to do the tracing to be able to control efforts. And that`s how we`re going to balance in the future having an economy that can survive, but at the same time making sure that we`re able to suppress any new outbreak or positives that we see in a particular area.

KORNACKI:  You know, we start talking about these reopenings with all of these restrictions.

And, again, I`m looking at these, that 12 feet of distancing you`re requiring in gyms, capping 50 at these -- at these outdoor venues, reservations required for -- so, one thing I`m curious about is, we`re also seeing in polls people are just reluctant, even if given the opportunity, to go out and frequent any businesses.

Do you think the combination of that reluctance from consumers to go and reengage and all of these restrictions in place, is this going to make a big difference for businesses? Or are they doing a lot of work here, and they`re just not going to get many customers?

HUTCHINSON:  Well, it varies.

Whenever you look at some of the small shop owners, they had no income. They were drying up. And they were desperate. And they also had the customer demand. And so some of those small shops have opened up.

Some of the larger venues are not opening up. So, we will wait until we get into phase two. That`s what`s wonderful, is that they can actually make their own business judgment, based upon demand, based upon their own unique circumstances.

But you don`t want to say, we`re not -- we`re going to wait until June 1, we`re not going to have any chance for anybody to open up a hair salon. And you can see the protective measures that are in place.

My daughter went to one today. Everybody wore masks. They had their protective measures in place. They had reservations. People had to wait outside. You have others that say, we`re not going to open up now, we will open up later.

So, we`re doing it carefully, and we will continue to do it carefully.

KORNACKI:  We mentioned, May 18, you`re going to allow indoor concert venues, indoor gathering venues to open, 50 people maximum.

I think this is one of the places -- talk about this here -- where your state may get the most attention on this. One of the first live music shows since the beginning of the pandemic is set now to take place in your state, in Arkansas.

Bloomberg reporting that singer Travis McCready is set to -- quote -- "play an acoustic set" in Fort Smith, Arkansas, on May 15, suggesting a pathway for the return of live events," adding that "fan pods will consist of anywhere between two and 12 seats, cutting allowed attendance down to 229 fans, or 20 percent of normal capacity in this venue. Fans will also have to wear masks and have their temperature checked at entry."

I`m just curious. Reading your guidelines and reading the description of this -- they`re selling tickets for this -- some things seem to be at odds with each other here, 229 people. Are you aware of this concert? What are you expecting here?

HUTCHINSON:  I was actually asked about it the other day.

And a public health official said, we`re going to look into that, because it doesn`t -- you can`t have an audience of more than 50 in phase one. And so that is something that needs to be looked at.

Clearly, they`re trying to accommodate a more socially distanced concert, but that`s still too many in this environment for that type of a venue. It`s a difference whether it`s outdoor or indoor, but that sounds like an indoor venue. And that would be problematic.

KORNACKI:  OK. Interesting information there.

Governor Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, thank you for joining us. Appreciate it.

HUTCHINSON:  Thank you.

KORNACKI:  All right.

And still ahead:  How do you balance economic recovery against the inescapable human toll? Two medical professionals on opposite sides of the reopening debate are going to join us, share their concerns, share their perspectives.

That is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB, FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER:  The reality is that the economy is not going to reopen in a way that we would want so long as this virus is circulating.

I think consumers are still going to be very nervous about doing the kinds of things and reengaging in the kind of activity that they did before.

And so there`s going to be a persistent drag on the economy so long as this is circulating at levels sufficient to create enough concern that it`s spreading and that you can catch it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI:  Welcome back. That was Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration under President Trump.

After weeks of strict containment measures, states have begun to lift some of those restrictions and to allow reopening of businesses on a limited scale.

Today, Republican Congressman Andy Harris of Maryland, who is himself a doctor, argued for easing stay-at-home orders and accepting more risk.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ANDY HARRIS (R-MD):  We`re safer if we`re not born. We`re safer from death if we`re not born, right?

I mean, the bottom line is, there`s some element of risk.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI:  We are entering a new phase in the fight against the virus that poses some wrenching questions.

The curves are flattening in many states, but the virus is still very much alive and a vaccine is a long way off. So, what we do?

Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and public health professor at George Washington University, warns this -- quote -- "The consequences of easing restrictions are all too predictable, because the science around COVID-19 has not changed. Without a vaccine or cure, the only thing keeping the disease in check has been keeping people separated from one another."

On the other hand, Dr. David Katz, president of True Health Initiative and the founding director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center, argues that there are dire consequences in leaving all of the restrictions in place until there`s a vaccine or cure.

He writes this -- quote -- "What if those are a year or more away? Then we suffer the full extent of societal disruption the virus might cause for all those months. The costs, not just in money, are staggering to contemplate."

Dr. Wen and Dr. Katz join me now.

Thank you both for being here. And I`m really looking forward to this dialogue between you. That`s what I want to get going here.

Dr. Katz, let me have you lead it off on that quote I was just reading. You`re basically arguing that there is a trade-off here, and we`re not paying enough attention to one side of it, that, while we focus on trying to prevent as many fatalities as possible from this disease, that the act of doing that could be causing wreckage of its own.

If you could for us, detail what you believe that wreckage is and what the scale of it would be.

DR. DAVID KATZ, TRUE HEALTH INITIATIVE:  Sure. It`s a pleasure to join you, Steve, and a pleasure to join Leana as well.

And I think you will find we`re not really so far apart.

What I was talking about really was social determinants of health. So all of us trained in medicine, and especially if we trained in public health, we learn that things like poverty and unemployment and food insecurity and desperation, destitution, they have terrible health effects.

And, in fact, in the fairly early going of our response to COVID, we started hearing about a surge in domestic violence. And there`s now been a reported surge in suicides. Those are the things I`m talking about.

There`s also potential neglect of other medical conditions, because, essentially, it`s COVID every news cycle, to the exclusion of all else. So people have chest pain at home, and they don`t think, maybe I need medical attention. They think, I need to stay away from the hospital because it`s filled with patients who have COVID, and I have been told to shelter in place.

So, there are all sorts of unintended consequences. What I have argued throughout is that we need to look at the big picture. We need to think about all the ways the situation can hurt people.

Absolutely, getting infected with this virus can hurt people. There`s a vulnerable segment of the population, older people, people with chronic illness, for whom this is a very dangerous infection. I did three days as a volunteer on the front lines in the Bronx. So I have seen this up close. I know how bad a disease it is.

(AUDIO GAP) that can hurt people too. Poverty can hurt people. Long-term unemployment can hurt people. So, I`m suggesting we try to devise policy that looks at all of that and minimizes the total harm.

And I do think the dialogue is moving in that direction.

KORNACKI:  So, Dr. Wen, let me bring you in and get you to respond to that.

I guess, do you agree on those factors that Dr. Katz is talking about? And, if so, how do you incorporate them into your vision of how we should be handling this in this period where we don`t have a vaccine or treatment?

DR. LEANA WEN, EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN:  Sure.

I mean, I agree with Dr. Katz that this is a complicated picture, and also that this is something that we don`t really have the answer for. It`s not like we have the perfect solution of when exactly we will be reopening.

But I think we need to start with a different premise. The premise needs to be that we will reopen. It`s just a question of when and what capabilities we need to have in place.

I fear that, right now, if we reopen, we`re going to let the virus loose. We don`t yet have the testing. We don`t have the tracing. We don`t have the basic public health infrastructure that`s needed in order to contain the virus that, in fact, we have seen in other countries has been successful in reducing the virus to levels that are acceptable.

And I fear that, if we do this, then we`re essentially going to loose the virus, and then we will end up having preventable deaths that we really could have stopped, because we have the science, we have the data to tell us what`s working.

So, by the way, if we have overcrowded hospitals because of COVID, we`re also going to be forcing other patients who have these chronic conditions, as Dr. Katz was talking about, to go without medical care.

And I also worry that, to the point about social determinants of health, that the people who suffer the most from COVID deaths are those who already face the greatest barriers to care. They are African-Americans. They are minorities. They are people who are in the essential worker categories.

And if we reopen, we`re making a decision, not only on behalf of ourselves, but on behalf of others. We`re not just sacrificing our lives. We`re sacrificing others` lives and, in fact, those who already face the greatest barriers to care, who are already the most vulnerable in our society.

KORNACKI:  All right, well, Dr. Katz, let me just get you to respond to that, the argument that, hey, let`s wait until there`s more testing, until there`s a contact tracing system, and then get to this reopening.

What would you say to that?

KATZ:  Yes, well, so, three things.

First of all, I agree with Leana entirely. We should get more and better data.

But we shouldn`t be talking about data that we can`t get. There`s all this discussion about millions of tests. And we don`t have the resources and we won`t have the resources. Well, that`s just an impasse.

We need representative random sampling. That`s something the CDC does all the time, 20,000 tests, 30,000 tests, 50,000 tests, but in the right population, to extrapolate to the whole U.S., so we know how many people have had this already, how many people are immune already.

So that`s point one.

Point two, the virus is already widespread. Seroprevalence testing in New York suggested about 20 percent of the population in the state has already had this thing. And that may be despite a high rate of false negatives. That`s four million people.

That means that, even in hard-hit New York, the fatality rate is a small fraction of 1 percent. And that`s highly concentrated in the elderly and people with prior chronic illness. So we`re really not talking about letting people out into a dangerous situation.

All I have ever advocated for was, let`s identify the differential risk tiers. Let`s, by all means, double down on protecting people who cannot safely get through this infection because their risk of a severe bout, landing in the ICU or dying of it, is way too high.

Let`s identify the segment of the population where that`s vanishingly improbable, where the risks they would be confronting going out into the world to face COVID is like the risk they face every day by going to work or crossing the street or being exposed to any of the other infections that were out there all along.

This is not an equal-opportunity scourge. It`s a really bad disease in a small segment of the population, and it`s a very mild disease for most people.

And then one final point -- and this is where there tends to be the greatest controversy -- if we are going to ever get our lives back before there is a highly effective vaccine mass-produced and administered to everybody -- and that`s optimistically 18 months, but we don`t know until it`s done, it could be years away -- the only way to get back to something like normal is for many of us to get this, get over it, and be immune.

Herd immunity is how pandemics end, unless you have a vaccine. We really do need people, potentially, to be in a world where they do get exposed to this, because immunity is how this comes to an end.

KORNACKI:  And, Dr. Wen, we`re running low on time, but I want to get your response here, if you could do it in about 40 seconds.

WEN:  We don`t know that herd immunity exists, number one.

And, number two, I don`t want the rest of the country to look like -- look like what New York did at its peak, where there were thousands of people who were dying.

And, number three, there are better ways for us to do this. If we, as a country, came together and said, we need to get the testing, we need to get the tracing, we did a national coordinated effort in order to save lives and save our economy, we can do that.

But we need federal leadership, and we need that right now.

KORNACKI:  All right, Dr. Leana Wen, Dr. David Katz, thanks to both of you. I really enjoyed listening to both of you in this discussion. I appreciate it.

And I hope we can have you both back and have more conversations like this.

Up next:  It is time to forget sometimes that this is all happening -- and it`s hard to forget this is all happening in a presidential election year.

I`m heading over to the Big Board.

Basically, folks, Trump vs. Biden, we got a new poll. I`m going to take you through it right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI:  All right, welcome back. Well, it was less than a week ago that Joe Biden responded to that accusation of sexual assault from someone who worked for him back in 1993.

And now we have our first read out on the public`s reaction whether they believe Biden and whether it`s affected the Biden Trump race for president. So let me take you through the numbers. We have -- it`s a Monmouth poll that just came out today.

The question do you think the allegation against Biden is probably true, probably not true or you don`t know. A lot say they don`t know. But you see here 37 percent probably true, 32 percent probably not true. There is a huge partisan divide on this one that`s driving it. But basically you see there, there is a big junk that do say this is probably true.

Again, a lot of that is partisan, there`s a little bit within the Democratic Party too that says they believe it`s true. There`s also this in terms of gender. I found this interesting. More men 39 percent than women 35 percent say they believe the accusation against Biden is probably true. So that`s the reaction to the accusation to Biden`s response to it.

How is this affecting the race for president? Here is the same poll, the Monmouth poll and look at that, unchanged. Monmouth has been showing a Biden advantage here and again they continue to show it. Other polls continue to show this as well a high single digit lead for Joe Biden consistently overdone on Trump right now, 5o to 41 in this poll.

You can look at this. Again, there is a gender gap here among many narrow lead for Donald Trump among women, a giant lead for Joe Biden. And that gender gap has been a pattern of really the last generation of American politics but really in the Trump era it`s been accelerating.

So you see the gender gap and you also see this white college non-college divide we`re always talking about here, sort of a white-collar blue-collar divide. Again, white college graduates Biden is just cleaning up. He`s ahead by 24 points. Among whites with no college degree complete opposite story, it`s Trump who is cleaning up there.

And then by the way the other piece of news this week in the presidential race was a third party candidate emerging Justin Amash. Congressman says he`s going to run as -- for the Libertarian nomination. Throw him in the mix. What does that do the race?

Remember, it was a nine point lead for Biden without him. It`s a seven point lead for Biden, 47, 40 and 5 for Amash when you put the third candidate in the race. So, we will check that Amash factor as this race continues.

Still ahead, I have been looking forward to this all day. The host of Bar Rescue Jon Taffer is going to join me to talk about the massive challenges facing the bar and restaurant industry from forced closures to supply chain disruptions. How many will be able to survive and adapt to the new normal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WELDON BOYD, RESTAURANT OWNER:  We`re told to put all of our people on unemployment. Yes, that`s a joke. Half of my people still can`t even get paid from the state. We`ve done everything on our end but it`s not working.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI:  Welcome back.  The restaurant industry has lost a devastating $80 billion since the start of this outbreak and it`s going to loose $240 billion likely by the end of the year, this according to the National Restaurant Association.

As states begin to open up more than a dozen are allowing restaurants to reopen, but each state has it`s own guidelines creating a patchwork of rules with some states allowing restaurants to be 50 percent full and others it`s 25 percent.  And others provide strict guidelines on social distancing. 

Regardless of the procedures that restaurants follow, they need customers to feel safe enough to dine out again.  In a recent pole from "The Washington Post" and the University of Maryland shows that 78 percent of Americans say that even if they could right now, they wouldn`t be comfortable eating at in a restaurant.

Well, I am joined now by somebody who knows all about this topic.  Jon Taffer, Executive Producer and Host of Bar Rescue, where he whips bars across the country into shape. 

JON TAFFER, HOST OF BAR RESCUE:  You`re not a bar professional, you`re not a hospitality guy, you`re warriors that are fighting for each other.

KORNACKI:  And Jon, welcome to the show.  I`m a big fan.  You`re going to have a lot of bars to rescue, we were just saying, when this is all over.  But you say, speaking of that, that about 40 percent of local bars in this country, you think, aren`t going to make it out of this.

TAFFER:  I -- yes, Steve, that`s -- I believe that`s the case.  First of all, bars are the last ones to open.  They tend to have stand-up space, they tend to put people closer together. 

So, in a lot of these regulations they`re talking about restaurants with 50 percent capacity, but what the details say is, no customers can sit at the bar.  No customers can walk up to the bar.  They have to be seated.  There can be no stand-up areas.  So, this impacts the bar industry far greater than it impacts the restaurant industry.

And what really scares me, Steve, is that we as an industry right now, we`re spending so much money sustaining ourselves when during a time we can`t make money I`m worried that when it does start to open up we`re not going to have the resources to open properly.

KORNACKI:  So, well -- you -- you give advice to bar owners on your show all the time.  What`s the advice right now?  Your show specializes in bars that aren`t working.  Let`s say there`s a bar that`s working but they`re stuck in this situation.  What`s the advice to them?

TAFFER:  Well, everybody seems to be in this hurry to open up.  You know, I`m going to suggest in some cases, with some bars and restaurants, maybe we should wait a few weeks before we open.  Maybe we should allow the marketplace to build confidence.

You know it`s interesting, Steve, before this pandemic you would go the restaurant that had you`re favorite hamburger.  Today you`d go to the restaurant that has your second favorite hamburger if you think it`s safer.  So, safety now bubbles to the top of the priority list in all customers.  So, we have to build trust as an industry.

People need to understand that we`re taking the steps that we need to, to assure their safety and then they`ll start to try us again.  But, first it starts with trust then it starts with some business. 

KORNACKI:  Let me ask you on the restaurant side of this, we mentioned these restrictions in each state, in some it`s 50 percent maximum, 25 percent, requiring masks, requiring gloves.  Can these restaurants make a buck doing this?  Can they make enough to survive?  Is this feasible for them at all?

TAFFER:  You know, I worry very much at that, Steve.  That`s why I`m concerned that we loose 40 percent of them.  You know, with 25 percent capacity, I mean we couldn`t survive with 25 percent of the viewers that we have now.  So, no industry can survive with that type of hit. 

Now, out of all the friends and the thousands of restaurants that I communicate with everyday, I know of a couple that are actually doing OK.  But, they`ve changed their business.

They`re selling family meals to go for four with vegetables, potatoes, meats, dessert and they`re packaging it at $39.  You know, they`re doing very, very unique merchandising programs to meet the new marketplace, but traditional approaches is not going to work now. 

KORNACKI:  Do you see -- I mean we`re talking all the time about the vaccine is supposedly a year, year and half, two years away.  Any kind of a treatment is a long way away.  So, we`re in this period where the virus is just there and we`re talking about trying to reopen parts of the economy and balance it. 

And so, that`s where all these restrictions come from on 25 percent capacity.  Is that -- do you see any way around that for restaurants until there`s a vaccine, until there`s a cure for this?  Or are they going to have to deal with that limited capacity and all of these -- of these new rules we`re talking about? 

TAFFER:  You know, they`re going to have to deal with it for a long time.  I sort of simplify this in my mind, Steve.  I think a third of the marketplace is going to come back out.  I think a third of the marketplace, the next third, I call the reserved third, they`re going to watch what happens with the first third.  They want to start to trust restaurants, see those surges, then they`ll come out.

But the third, third is the certain third.  They`re not going to come out until there`s a vaccine.  These are people that might have preexisting conditions, might be a little older.  But what concerns me, Steve, it`s also a more affluent audience.  So, it impacts the upper end of restaurants and I think more a long-term than it does the others. 

But, this is a stage and it`s very difficult to make money at 25 or 50 percent capacity.  If I owned a restaurant now in most markets I`d wait.  I`d open in a month or two with more of a splash.  I`d wait till the marketplace trusted what we were doing and then open with a grand opening rather than open with everyone right now and fight for it.

KORNACKI:  And you mentioned too these restaurants that are doing some innovation with take-out and delivering now a big part of it.  And in states where you can`t have in-person dining, the restaurants are still allowed to do delivery.  And multiples cities on that front have passed laws that cap the commission that food delivery services can charge. 

I`m curious here from a -- from a consumer standpoint, how do -- excuse me -- from a restruarant standpoint, these delivery services they`re charging a huge commission here, we`re talking about Grubhub, Uber Eats, things like this, can restaurants make money with those fees or do they need to find a new way here?

TAFFER:  WE do need to find a new way.  You know, Steve, delivery used to be a sideline for us.  You know, except pizza restaurants and certain types of concepts.  So, it was a necessary evil, we didn`t make a lot of money on it, so it was very easy to use these third party delivery services.  Now delivery is more than half of our business if not almost all of it, so we cannot afford to pay third party delivery services.

So, this is going to change.  We`re going to see restaurants sharing delivery drivers.  We`re going to see pooling of resources.  We`re going to see a lot of restaurants step out of the third party delivery box.  It`s not sustainable with the economics that we have now.

KORNACKI:  I`ve got to ask you this, as a fan of the show, as I mentioned at the top, have you thought about at all, when this is over, when the show can start again, what the first show is going to look like?  Any special kind of episode you`re working on?

TAFFER:  Well, you know, it`s exciting, you`ve seen a hurricane episodes and stuff that we`ve done, Steve, where we have helped successful people who have lost their business due to Mother Nature.  Well this not very different. 

So, we see a different version, a resetting America version, where we really go into great historic restaurants and great historic venues that have been closed because of this and get them reopen. 

And a lot of these businesses are really important to our marketplace.  And I just want to remind everybody, the restaurant industry is the largest employer in America other than the Federal Government.  We need to support this industry.  Once we trust we need to order.  And the industry needs to get you to trust, then it`s up to the consumer to order.

KORNACKI:  Jon Taffer, the host of Bar Rescue, I got to tell you there is a Twitter handle out there that rates the backdrop that all the guests have from their home cameras. I think you`re going to win it with the backdrop you have right there. Thank you so much for joining us.

TAFFER:  My pleasure. Good to see you, Steve.

KORNACKI:  All right. And up next, celebrating nurses in this moment when their work is more crucial than ever, stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI:  The COVID-19 pandemic has brought attention to some real American heroes. The first responders many of them of course are nurses and today is National Nurses Day. And on this occasion we want to say thank you.

Thank you to all the nurses out there. Thank you for your dedication and for putting your own lives on the line to help save others. And here are just a few scenes from the country today as these heroes, these hero nurses were honored. Thanks to them. Thank you for being with us too. Don`t go anywhere. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes is up next.

 

  THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END