CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: That is the story so far of 2020, amidst the pandemic and everything else.
Dale Ho and Vanita Gupta, thank you so much, both of you. That was great.
That was ALL IN on this Tuesday night.
I have great news for you. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now with the one and only Rachel Maddow.
Great to have you back, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Thank you very much. It was really nice to be away. It both felt like a visit to another planet and also like I was only gone for 30 seconds.
HAYES: Yes, exactly.
MADDOW: Anyway, thank you, my friend. Appreciate it.
And thanks to you at home for being with us this hour. It was great to have a few days off.
I want to say thanks in particular to my dear friends, my very beloved and respected colleagues Ali Velshi and Nicolle Wallace for pinch hitting for me. I want to thank my staff for keeping THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW going with all cylinders firing while I was away and those guest hosts were here in my seat. And that`s to all of you guys for not minding too much for when I need to go turn off my brain for six days and not be here. So it was really, really nice and a real privilege to have that time. I am grateful for it.
But I am back, and, honestly, now coming back to this news day, now I am more than ready to turn my brain off again, because, you know, you come back, you know, just -- I will just say, here`s the thing that should never, ever, ever, ever, ever happen from the White House. Not only should this never happen from the White House, it should never happen anywhere anyone is in any position of supposed authority.
I mean, what happened today shouldn`t happen from a White House podium, but it also, like, shouldn`t happen from a teacher`s desk. It shouldn`t happen from the voice of a cop giving you a parking ticket. It shouldn`t happen from a PA announcement at a supermarket about which car has its lights on in the parking lot.
This shouldn`t come from anybody who purports to be giving you actual information from any position of purported authority. But here it was today from the mouth of the president of the United States. Him -- just winging it, just making it up as he goes along because who cares, right?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States stands ready to assist Lebanon. I have a very good relationship with the people of Lebanon and we will be there to help. It looks like a terrible attack.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It looks like a terrible attack? What? It was an attack? Said the president?
I mean, the news today out of Lebanon is absolutely terrifying, right? This huge, huge blast in the densely-packed city of Beirut. At least dozens of people killed, thousands of people known to be injured. A significant area of that big and important city just decimated.
It was an attack? The president today speaking from the White House podium called this a, quote, terrible attack.
To be clear, before the president said that today from the White House, there had been no public indication at all that this was an attack. That this was some sort of terrorist or military assaults on the city of Beirut. I mean, when the president of the United States speaking from the White House podium says "this is an attack," that`s a huge piece of news. That`s a huge deal. That`s, like, announcing the start of a war kind of news from the mouth of the president of the United States.
Except with this president, nah, turns out, grain of salt, he makes stuff up. He didn`t know if it was an attack. Even when he was saying it`s an attack, he didn`t know. He was just spitballing-ish.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: I just want to follow up before I ask the coronavirus question on Lebanon. You called this an attack. Are you confident that this was an attack and not an accident?
TRUMP: Well, it would seem like it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It would seem like it. I mean, it seemed like it.
When I announced that huge blast in Lebanon today was a terrible attack, I was just, you know -- seems like maybe. Don`t listen to me on stuff like this. I really do make things up and then blurt them up as they occur to me.
I mean, it is very nice to have had a few days away. It is nice to be back from a week`s vacation. Nothing got better while I was gone. That was absolutely atrocious today at the White House.
I mean, what other president did stuff like that? This one does that as a matter of course. Over the course of the week that I was gone, though, I think that we have a natural -- whether you`re on optimist or a pessimist, I think we have a natural human inclination to believe that longstanding problems that require fixing eventually over time get worked on and start to get fixed, even if progress is slow and halting.
It doesn`t work that way with this administration. I mean, over the course of the week that I was gone, in fact, I think the coronavirus response from the president, from this White House actually got worse. I mean, the weird attacks and conspiracy theories about Anthony Fauci, about the nation`s top infectious disease doctor, those absolutely have continued apace, if anything, they appear to have accelerated over the past week.
But now, in the past week, those attacks have also extended to the White House`s hand-picked COVID chief, Dr. Deborah dirks. She`s now getting the same treatment.
And with over 157,000 Americans dead, with us steaming toward 5 million infections, millions more infections than any other country on earth, the increasing chaos and incoherence and incompetence at the White House matters in life and death terms. I mean, it matters for the overall numbers of Americans dead and sick and unemployed and infected and scared.
It also matters to every single American family that right now is trying to figure out if they`re going to be working, and if their kids are going to be in school. I mean, here`s Dr. Deborah Birx. Like her or don`t, right? She`s the head doctor on the White House`s coronavirus task force response team.
Here is Dr. Deborah Birx on CNN`s "State of the Union" on Sunday. Quote: If you have a high caseload and active community spread, we are asking people to distance learn at this moment, so we can get this epidemic under control.
She`s saying, if you have a lot of cases, if you have the active spread of the virus in your state, well, school buildings should stay closed for now and kids should keep doing distance learning until that high caseload is brought down, until active community spread is stopped. This is not like a mandate from Dr. Birx or anything, but she`s explaining this as a clear, scientifically grounded principle for how we should think about whether schools can open, how we should think about what criteria should be used to make decisions about schools opening, right?
This is her telling us how we should think about schools and whether or not kids are going to be remote learning in an ongoing way or whether they can actually go to a physical school building. You can`t open schools unless your case numbers are way down and the spread of the virus is under control in your state. That`s Dr. Deborah Birx speaking, you would think, on behalf of the White House.
But then here`s the president at 11:30 last night, all caps: open the schools! And that`s his reasoned, scientifically-based argument. Open the schools!
So that`s what we`ve got as American policy on coronavirus and schools. Good luck, every family in America who is agonizing over this. Good luck and God bless. This is the president who we have for this time.
I mean, your kids will never again be the age that they are now. They will never again be this age going into this grade, thinking about this time in their education. But there will always have been this president at this time in their lives, right? Screaming into the void, open the schools! Even as his own coronavirus coordinator tells the public that we cannot do that until it`s safe, and here`s why.
And this kind of mishegoss should, you know, shape your view of who we have elected president in this country, but it also just makes a real difference in terms of the way we live and the way we try to handle this and the way we try to save lives or not. I mean, having bad, incoherent, increasingly insane leadership on this subject screws things up materially in ways large and small every single day, right?
And every single day is a new 1,000 deaths in this country. Every single day is a new 50,000-plus cases. Having bad leadership messes things up. Having confused leadership messes things up.
Take, for example, the great state of Tennessee. The same Dr. Deborah Birx from the White House has advised Tennessee that looking at their numbers and looking at how things are going, they should climb back down on some of their reopening decisions. She has advised Tennessee that they should close bars, that they should limit indoor dining at restaurants.
But, you know, if you run the state of Tennessee, why would you think that you should listen to the top doctor tapped to lead the coronavirus response for the nation? I mean, president picked her for that job and he doesn`t listen to her. He`s now publicly dragging her, the way he`s publicly dragging Dr. Fauci.
Frankly, in Tennessee, following his lead, Republican U.S. Senate candidates are competing with each other during their primary process as to who can rip Dr. Fauci with the worst insults and who can more effusively promote that malaria drug the president is still inexplicably saying is a cure for coronavirus, even though it is not a cure for coronavirus.
And so, if you`re governor of Tennessee, how do you look at that? Well, turns out the way you look at that is who cares if Dr. Deborah Birx says Tennessee should close the bars and roll back indoor dining, right? Why would you think you should follow that advice, even though it`s coming from the top doctor in the coronavirus response hand-picked to that job by the president?
And so, Governor Bill Lee of Tennessee hard that advice from Dr. Deborah Birx and said, no, no, you think I should close down the bars and limit indoor dining? No, I`m not going to do it. I don`t want to so I`m not going to. And who`s to tell him any different? Really, who`s to tell him?
I should tell you that Tennessee had a 139 percent rise in coronavirus cases over the month of July. But now it`s August, so now maybe August will be great. About two weeks ago, the Trump administration, specifically the part of the administration that regulates nursing homes, an agency called CMS, they announced that they would be requiring weekly testing for all nursing home staff, weekly testing for all nursing home staff in any state where the positivity rate was over 5 percent.
Well, that`s about 2/3 of all U.S. states now. And so what that means in practical terms is that there are thousands of nursing homes in the United States, in the more than 30 states where the positivity rate is over 5 percent, thousands of nursing homes that per the Trump administration are supposed to be testing all of their staff every week. And the Trump administration says we are requiring you to do so.
Thousands of nursing homes in more than 30 states, how many -- how many of them do you think are weekly testing their staff right now? How`s that going? We are nowhere near to get every nursing home in every one of those states the capacity to test their staff every week, but the Trump administration says they`re requiring that.
Saying that they`re requiring that is apparently the Trump administration`s plan for stopping tens of thousands more Americans from dying in nursing homes, right? That`s -- that`s their plan, to say that they`re requiring that. Which is about as realistic as me fly home from this studio on the back of a giant, you know, rainbow sequined unicorn. I`m just say that what I`m going to do.
That`s -- saying that you`re requiring something that can`t be done and you`re not facilitating so that it can happen doesn`t count as a plan. That`s a myth. That`s a lie.
It`s the absence of a plan. It takes up the space where a plan should be. So instead nothing happens.
In Mississippi, teachers in Mississippi are calling for schools in that state to stay on distance learning only until the state`s positivity rate is under that same threshold, as the nursing homes rule. They want 5 percent positivity or less in Mississippi before they open up school buildings in that state. They want 5 percent or less.
Mississippi`s positivity rate is currently more than quadruple that. Mississippi`s positivity rate right now is currently over 20 percent. It`s the worst in the country.
Nevertheless, Mississippi`s Republican Governor Tate Reeves has just announced that even though he is now willing for there to be a statewide mask rule, that was just announced today, he said there still won`t be a statewide delay in school openings, even with positivity rates over 20 percent. I mean, the state`s teachers, the head of the University of Mississippi Medical Center have been calling for that statewide delay, but at least now he says, no, not willing to do that in Mississippi.
He`s decided, instead, he will tell students over grade seven in eight specific different counties that they should delay school by two weeks because that sounds like data? I mean, but, anyway, he`s making it up on his own. Who`s to tell him different? If he got advice from the White House on this, even the president wouldn`t tell him to follow White House advice. White House advice comes from doctors and the president likes dragging the doctors for political effect.
I will tell you, among Mississippi`s problems right now is not just that they`re approaching the highest per capita infection rate in the nation and their positivity rate is over 20 percent and their biggest hospitals are full already and they have been full for weeks now. Among Mississippi`s problems right now is that so many Mississippi residents are dying so fast right now that the morgues in the state are overtopped.
See the headline in "The Daily Beast." morgues are overflowing in Mississippi and coroners are terrified. The head of the University of Mississippi medical center is going to join us live tonight in just a few minutes. I`m very much looking forward to that conversation.
But, you know, it`s not, I mean, I singled out Tennessee and Mississippi there. Even states in other parts of the country that have done relatively well over the last weeks and months, Massachusetts, for example.
Massachusetts brought its case numbers way, way, way down from what had been a scary peak in late April, but in Massachusetts, numbers have started going back up as the state has opened back up. And, yeah, the positivity rate in Michigan right now is roughly 1/10 the rate they`ve got in Mississippi, but the trend is in the wrong direction. It is starting to go back up. Positivity numbers are starting to rise. Case numbers are starting to rise.
Anecdotal information about hospitalization suggests that the uptick in hospitalizations in Massachusetts is starting to become systematic as well. And so, epidemiologists in the state of Massachusetts are now telling that state`s Republican Governor Charlie Baker that he should go back to what works. He should go back to the so-called phase 2 operations the state was under before when the case numbers were being held very low and slow and Massachusetts look like a model for the nation. Go back to that.
Since Governor Baker said, no, I want to move forward and go to phase 3 with indoor dining and all the rest of it, well, that`s when the numbers have started going back up, so why would you stick with that?
One expert from Boston University School of Public Health telling the "Boston Globe," quote, I would back up to the last level the governor had that we know worked. Somewhere between that and where we are is the sweet spot. Level two worked. Level three didn`t work.
Right. When your case numbers are going up, your positivity rates going up, your hospitalizations and death numbers are going to follow that trajectory, too. If that`s the trend line you`re on, it means what you`re doing isn`t working. You have to do something else.
If you had been doing well before and now you stopped doing well, go back to what you were doing when you were doing well. It`s not rocket science. We don`t have a cure. The only interventions we have are the simple dumb, hard things that we fight over. Masks, and social distance, and keeping the schools closed and keeping workplaces closed and having rules about gatherings. That`s all we`ve got.
It`s not rocket science. But you do the things that work, and when your numbers show you that new things that you`re trying don`t work, you stop doing them. But, you know, who`s to tell you what to do? Who`s to say?
If you even got advice from the top doctor working at the White House on these issues, should you follow their advice? She was picked for the job by the president. The president says she`s terrible now and is disparaging her and dragging her for political effect, so do you listen to her? Who`s to tell you what to do? Do you listen to the president?
That said, in 91 days, we all get to decide if the guy who`s currently in charge of how we`re responding to this epidemic should stay in the job for four more years or if Democratic candidate Joe Biden would do better at this. It`s honestly hard to know what it will be like for a president to stand for re-election with 200,000 dead Americans as a key metric from his first term, while he asks for a second term.
But we`re going to talk tonight about how some of that is going to work and some of what we can see coming down the pike. And a lot of it is very worrying, in terms of the institutions of our democracy and what we count on to keep us a constitutional republic.
We`re going to be talking tonight, for example, about what appears to be one sort of shocking sign that the White House doesn`t expect President Trump to be here for a second term. Back in April, the administration went to Congress and told them that because of COVID, they were going to need some more time to get the census done. Instead of basically finishing up the census and turning in the results of it by the end of this year, they wanted a few months` extension, an extension into next spring, to be able to get the thing done and compiled.
And it honestly makes sense. The census is a huge undertaking, right? You`re trying to count over 300 million people. It involves huge numbers of people doing tons of shoe leather work.
And lots of its offices were closed for months because of the pandemic. So it makes sense that they would need some extra time to finish it up.
The associate director for the 2020 census recently did a briefing where he said there was definitely not enough time for the Census Bureau to get this thing done properly on the original schedule, unavoidably because of COVID and so, yeah, they needed the extension.
But now, a sudden about-face, a sudden U-turn from the Trump administration, because I think they just realized what that means if they`re going to take that extension that they asked for. The administration has suddenly just announced that they`re not only going to take that extra time they asked for, they`re actually going to wrap up the whole census thing early. They`re going to stop the count a month early.
They`re going to stop the count altogether actually next month. Which on its surface is a little bizarre, right? I mean, they`ve already said they`re crunched, they`re not going to get this done without extra time to complete it because of the pandemic.
As Vanita Gupta points out, she was just on with Chris Hayes tonight here on MSNBC. She was the head of the civil rights division at the Justice Department in the Obama administration. She points out that the census is calling it quits early, even as their response rate right now is the lowest it`s ever been.
At this point in the process, they have counted fewer of us than ever before, at this point in the process. And so, why would they cut off the counting early? They would not only need that extension, they would need to scale up what they`re planning on doing, so why would they be cutting it back, right?
On the surface, it makes no sense. If you actually want to count everyone in the country, you need the extra time, and they should not only be taking the extension, they certainly shouldn`t be stopping work early. I mean, the census is supposed to count everyone in the country. If that`s what you want to do, what the Trump administration is doing right now makes no sense.
If, however, they`re not really interested in counting the whole country, and if specifically they`re not interested in counting the people who are hardest to count -- poor people, minorities, marginalized populations, people who move a lot, people who are in homeless shelters, people who are hard to find -- if the Trump administration doesn`t really want to count those people because maybe they don`t want those people to be counted, they don`t want, for example, all the consequences of those people being counted, which include federal funding for places where those people live, right? Getting congressional seats apportioned to places where those people live.
If, for example, you`d be happier with those people never getting counted at all, well, then cutting off the count early will conveniently cut out the people who get counted last, the people who are hardest to count, hardest to find, people hardest to lock down in terms of getting a census response.
But in terms of this decision being made late by the Trump administration, I think they`ve also realized that by wrapping this thing up early, right, rather than taking the extension that they were going to, by wrapping this thing up early, that also means they`re going to be handing over the census data to the president who is in office this term. Not the one who will be in office next spring.
Under the deadline they had previously asked Congress for, they`d be handing over the data to the White House in the spring, which happens to be after the next inauguration. Now by walking away from that plan, which they themselves said they needed because of COVID, now the data will be sent to the president by the end of this year. Not next spring when Joe Biden very well could be in the oval office.
As Vanita Gupta puts it in her "Washington Post" op-ed today, quote, in the event that President Trump does not serve a second term, cutting the census short would ensure that decisions about congressional apportionment are made under his presidency, not the Biden presidency that may be in effect by next spring.
So, I mean, what this looks like is that the White House thinks President Trump is going to lose or at least they`re hedging their bets. And that means cutting the census short from even what they said they needed. Thus making sure that it`s Trump who will get the census data before Biden is sworn in in January, so it will be Trump who can proclaim, census looks good to me. And he can proclaim who has been counted where and which states get additional congressional seats and which states lose them based on who was counted and who was left out.
It was the Trump administration itself that said they couldn`t get it done in time. Now they`re like screw it, let`s not get it done in time and let`s get this thing sealed and done before Biden gets here. At least Republicans can grab extra seats in Congress that way, from a deliberately bad count. That seems fair. Let`s do it that way.
There are primaries under way today in Michigan, in Missouri, Arizona, Kansas, Washington state. There are worries in those states tonight and around the country right now and for the next 91 days about whether the COVID necessity of mail-in ballots is another thing the president and his administration could be messing with. Could try to mess with to try to keep him and keep Republicans in office.
New York state prosecutors have just told the courts they need action on their subpoenas for the president`s financial records because of their investigation into what they reference as, quote, extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization. The president just told "Axios" in this bizarre Jonathan Swan interview you`ve seen played all day that 150,000 Americans dead.
He says, quote, it is what it is. A thousand Americans dying a day, he says, ah, that`s the best we can do. I mean, he also got up at the White House briefing room today and said, hey, look, Lebanon was just attacked. A terrible attack.
But, you know, he makes things up. Ninety-one days until the election, far fewer than that before you and everyone you know starts voting by mail -- here we go -- all at once, everything all at once.
Lots to get to tonight. Senator Amy Klobuchar is going to join us next. Do stay with us.
MADDOW: We`ve been watching the president`s efforts to undermine the November election playing out before our eyes for months now. We have the worst coronavirus epidemic on earth. Keeping Americans safe, therefore, means that as many Americans as possible need to not crowd together in polling places November or any other time. People instead should vote by mail.
And so, of course, the president has discouraged people from voting by mail. He`s backed efforts to make it harder to vote by mail. He`s been constantly promoting this lie that mail voting is rife with fraud. He`s now put in a new postmaster general who is deliberately slowing down the mail at the Postal Service, which means, of course, that means ballots maybe won`t be delivered on time.
I mean, as strategies go, it`s unsubtle. If you`re a president who thinks you might not be able to win more votes in an election, you just create as much smoke and chaos around that election as you can, use the control that you have in the government to make the election less fair and maybe you`ll be able to hold on to power somehow by claiming the election is tainted, even if you loss.
But if you are an administration or a political party that was starting to worry that that plan might not work, if you wanted to try to lock in a certain amount of political power for yourself for years to come, regardless of what happens in November, well, then the first thing you would probably think of to try to do that would be to mess with the census.
The census every ten years tries to count every person living in the U.S. and where in the U.S. they live. That count is done this year. Every ten years, 2010 -- it was 2000, 2010, 2020.
The count that`s done this year will be used to determine America`s political representation for years to come. How many members of Congress every state gets for the next decade. It`s all based on how many people live where and the fact that they get counted.
Well, now, the census bureau has suddenly announced that it`s cutting its count short. It will potentially miss millions of people who historically have been the hardest to reach. Those people tend to be poor people, people of color, immigrants and people who live in blue cities and blue states.
So a flawed census count could help Republicans increase their representation in Congress simply by not counting ton office people who tend to live in Democratic districts, which is a neat trick.
Just to be safe, the Census Bureau has also announced that instead of submitting their final numbers to the White House next April when Joe Biden potentially could be president, they will submit them earlier than they planned to do. They now say they`ll submit those numbers on December 31st, so no matter how flawed the count, it will be Donald Trump who is still there in the Oval Office to sign off on their work, even if his election plans don`t work out.
The next few months are going to be a wild ride, both in terms of the election, but also, of course, what comes after.
Joining us now, I`m delighted to say, is Senator Amy Klobuchar, Democrat of Minnesota.
Senator Klobuchar, it`s been too long. Thanks so much for being here tonight.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): Well, thanks, Rachel. It`s great to be on.
I can see you`ve done a lot of thinking over your time off and had much to say, and, of course, you come back the day we`re yet into more shenanigans are announced with the census.
And I will say they`ve tried and failed several times. Remember the citizenship question? When they tried to put that and the court pushed back on that.
Then, recently, the president has talked about not counting all people, but just counting citizens and, of course, that is not what the law says. And now, we get to the day. And what they`re trying to do here, of course, is to lock in the Trump numbers on the census when, in fact, we have one of the lowest numbers, as Vanita pointed out, in recent history of people responding. People still have to respond.
I did it today, Rachel. It took five minutes. Because I was afraid you`d ask me if I didn`t. Census.gov. It`s really simple to do so everyone should go do it when your show is over.
But we need the time. And you don`t just tell all these people running the census, guess what? We pulled it back a month. But I`m here with a solution.
The HEROES Act that passed the House, it`s been sitting on Mitch McConnell`s desk for over two months, that we`re valiantly working every day to get passed in the Senate. It actually contains an extension that would extend it four more months because of the pandemic so we can get people, especially on our tribal reservations, people of color, people who have historically who haven`t been counted to be able to be counted. And that`s what I think we should do, is to negotiate and get that provision in a final bill.
MADDOW: It feels like such a profoundly cynical and partisan thing to deliberately undercount the hardest people to count and to deliberately move their own goal posts. It was the Trump administration that said they needed more time to get this done rather than cutting it short so that they can get these numbers to President Trump instead of a potential President Biden.
But that`s what it looks like from the outside. Do you feel like your Republican colleagues in the Senate get that this is the wrong thing to do, in terms of the census, just in terms of this being an effort with integrity?
KLOBUCHAR: You know how they haven`t stood up. Time and time again, they don`t stand up. And they`ve had one day to hear this. I`ll be talking to them about it tomorrow.
But I think beyond that, you have started to see some cracks when it comes to, say, voting. And that you`ve seen -- you were just talking about with the vote by mail. Trump is on one side. But you`ve got Republican governors, Republican secretaries of state.
Roy Blunt has been working with me on this pushing to say, hey, no matter what Donald Trump says on his Twitter feed, people are going to vote by mail. They`re doing it at rates of 60 percent to 70 percent. In the state of Maryland in the GOP primary, over 95 percent of the people voted by mail.
It is happening before our eyes. So we need to make sure the states have the resources that they need, and that`s what we`re also pushing for right now.
And it`s not just vote by mail. You know, if the president doesn`t want to do vote by mail, even though he`s done it himself in the comfort of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, while people in Milwaukee stood in the rain in homemade masks and in garbage bags just trying to exercise their right to vote -- hey, some of this money is going to go big time to training poll workers so people aren`t vulnerable, to sanitizing poll places, to make sure polling locations are open early so that people are able to vote when there`s less people congregating.
We have to help the states on this. The Republicans know it and that`s what I`m really focused on right now, in addition to this census issue.
MADDOW: Let me ask if you share some of the concerns that have been voiced about what`s happening at the postal service. Obviously, the president has installed a new postmaster general. I wasn`t speaking hyperbolically. He has actually instituted policies that has deliberately slowed down the mail process, which has alarmed a lot of people inside that agency.
Are you worried that the president is messing with the postal service in a way that could materially affect our ability to successfully vote by mail nationwide?
And let me make the case again to my Republican colleagues, which we will be making, four of us, including Senator Schumer and Senator Gary Peters actually sent a letter to the postal -- postmaster general asking a bunch of questions about this because, yeah, this is going to be about ballots, but it is also about people`s medications.
During the pandemic, more and more people are getting their lifesaving medications by mail. If they mess with stuff like this, they are literally going to mess with people`s lives. I know as a result of this that Senator Schumer and Speaker Pelosi I believe are going to be meeting with him and asking these questions, because as we work, again, on this very important HEROES Act, we have got to make sure that there`s also funding for the Postal Service, because it`s not just the funding that`s an issue. It`s the rules he`s put in place that has resulted in people getting delays in all over their mail. Not just their ballots, all of their mail.
MADDOW: Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, it is great to see you. Thank you so much for joining us tonight.
KLOBUCHAR: Good to see you, Rachel.
MADDOW: I missed talking to you. I hope you`ll come back soon.
KLOBUCHAR: Oh, I will be back very soon. Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. Thanks, Senator.
All right. Much more to come here tonight. Do stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. TATE REEVES (R), MISSISSIPPI: We have to be very smart about convincing Mississippians that wearing a mask is the right thing to do. And I understand that a lot of you think we can just snap our finger and, all of a sudden, 100 percent of the people will comply and everything will be great.
Some of you believe that if I will just opine that the statewide mask mandate is the right thing to do that the virus will go away. Just like when we sheltered in place for three weeks in April, the virus didn`t go away.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves speaking just over a week ago, talking about why a statewide mask mandate was not needed in Mississippi.
Well, in the eight days since he made those comments, Governor Reeves has now had a change of heart. Today, he announced a new executive order mandating masks throughout that state. He also announced that he`ll delay certain school openings, but not for all that many students and not for all that long.
Today, Mississippi`s top health official ordered anyone who tests positive for coronavirus to immediately self-isolate or risk being subjected to fines or even jail time. Mississippi has the second highest number of new cases per capita in the country right now, behind only Florida, but they`re gaining fast. New daily infections in Mississippi have roughly doubled over the past month. Researchers expect that the state will overtake Florida and claim the top spot in the coming days. The top spot being the state with the highest infection rate in the United States.
We`re starting to see record daily death tolls in Mississippi, hospitals that are not only under strain right now. Many hospitals have been under strain for weeks, which takes an immeasurable toll on the staff of those hospitals.
Here`s the head of the University of Mississippi`s Medical Center.
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DR. LOUANN WOODWARD, VICE CHANCELLOR, UNIVERSITY OF MISSISSIPPI MEDICAL CENTER: Our ICUs are full. I mean, that is the bottom line. We have been full for several weeks. When other hospitals around the state call us for help, we`re unable to take their patients. We`ve had to assist a number of times in having patients transferred actually out of state.
What we have been doing has not changed the trajectory of our number of hospitalizations, the number of new cases, et cetera. We need to do something different.
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MADDOW: That is Dr. Louann Woodward. She simultaneously runs the University of Mississippi Medical Center. She is dean of the University of Mississippi`s Medical School and she still works as an emergency room doctor herself.
Each of those three jobs is something I cannot imagine ever having the skill or energy to do even for one day, but doing all three of those jobs at once seems superhuman. Doing all three of those jobs at once in the middle of a pandemic when your state is on track to be the worst-hit in the country in terms of cases per capita, that is whatever comes after superhuman on the number line.
But Dr. Woodward joins us now.
Dr. Louann Woodward from the great state of Mississippi. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us tonight. I know you are in demand.
WOODWARD: It`s a pleasure. Very glad to talk to you.
MADDOW: I`m worried about Mississippi`s case numbers. And what seems to be on track to be the worst in the country in terms of cases per capita. That said, there does seem to be some changes happening policy-wise.
For example, the new mask order effectuated today by the governor. I know that`s something that you supported. Overall, how worried are you about your state and do you feel like the right decisions are being made?
WOODWARD: I think the right decisions are being made at this point. We do have a statewide mask mandate in place, effective as of today. We have taken action from the governor`s standpoint to delay some students` return back to school, and I think both of those are positive moves in the right direction.
The work that we are doing from the Medical Center standpoint, that I`m doing, that many on my team are doing, and other health care leaders across the state are doing is to try to really get that message out to the citizens in Mississippi that we can make a difference in the path that we are seeing in this pandemic by behavior modification. So we are at a point where we`re seeing an increased number of cases across the state, increased hospitalizations, increased deaths. That`s happening statewide. It is also happening here at our own medical center as well as other large hospitals in the state.
And with behavioral modifications, we can change that path that we see out in front of us. And that`s really what I hope we can accomplish with the actions that have been taken today.
MADDOW: I know that the University of Mississippi Medical Center is really a flagship medical institution in the state, level 4 trauma center, you do all the really complicated stuff, transplants and all that kind of stuff. As other hospitals around the state have come to you for help, have wanted to ship their patients with complex problems to you, I know that you have had -- even at that flagship institution -- issues terms of capacity.
What should we understand at the national level in terms of Mississippi hospitals and what you have and what you need in terms of beds and in terms of health care providers to staff those beds?
WOODWARD: So, a few points that I would make about that. We are the only academic medical center in Mississippi, the only tertiary referral center. The only level 1 trauma, level 4 in ICU. As you said, the only place doing transplants.
So for a lot of things like that, at the higher level of care, we are the only in Mississippi. So it is typically our role to take patients that other hospitals from outlying areas of the state, particularly the rural areas, it is our role to take patients that need that higher level of care. We are very uncomfortable and we are very unhappy when we are not able to perform that function and that role.
So it has been the case in the last few weeks when, in fact, we have been unable to accept patients that needed to be transferred here and we had to work with others to get them taken to hospitals out of the state of Mississippi.
WOODWARD: So one point that I think people should recognize is some of our hospitals in the rural areas of the state do technically have ICU beds. But you have to realize that all ICU beds are not equal.
In fact, these patients, the COVID patients, many times need bedside dialysis and they need other support that is not available at outlying hospitals that perhaps do have a five or six or ten-bed ICU unit, but they don`t have the level of care that needs to be provided for these patients.
Sometimes if you just look at the number of ICU beds available, you don`t realize that distinction between the level of acuity that a particular hospital can take care of versus another.
Another point that I would make for Mississippi is we went into this pandemic with a few features that were challenging to begin with. We are number one on a lot of lists that you don`t want to be number one on. We are number one in the rates of diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, obesity, stroke, all of these bad things.
We are also last in the ranking of the states when you look at physicians per capita.
So we started out with a population that was sicker than many in the United States. And we started out with a challenge from our health care workforce across the spectrum, but particularly physicians. That is not a good place to start a pandemic.
The challenges that presented themselves to us due to the pandemic were layered on top of these chronic challenges that we already recognize and that we already have to deal with.
The result of this is, we have many patients that are very sick. We have many patients that are very sick. We have ICUs around the state that are full, and we have a workforce that is fatigued. The workforce is doing everything that they can do, but if you look at all of the physicians, the nurses, the respiratory therapists, all of the people that are taking care of patients in the emergency accidents, in the COVID units, in the critical care units, they are weary.
MADDOW: And that weariness is not only a moral challenge to the rest of us to do what we can in terms of support, it`s a moral challenge to us as a country to get this under control so that you and your colleagues, among other things, can get a break from what you have been going through.
Dr. Louann Woodward, vice chancellor at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, dean of the University Medical School, practicing emergency medicine doctor, you wear a lot of hats and your state is in a real challenge right now.
Thanks for helping us understand. Please come back soon. We would love to stay in touch as you go through these challenges.
WOODWARD: It was a pleasure.
MADDOW: Thank you so much.
All right. We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Here`s something to watch. This is fascinating. I mentioned at the top of the show we have a bunch of primaries today and tonight, Washington, Missouri, Kansas. Look at this in Missouri.
Voters in Missouri are deciding today and tonight whether they`re going to expand Medicaid, right? Expansion of Medicaid is part of Obamacare, which is something Republicans are still trying to kill entirely.
But Missouri voters are voting on whether to do it any way. It could provide health insurance coverage to over 400,000 people in Missouri, if they decide to do it. Of course, over the objections of Republican lawmakers in the state.
If Missouri voters say, Missouri would become the sixth Republican controlled state to vote to expand Medicaid at the ballot box just since Trump has been president. They would follow Oklahoma a few weeks, and Maine, Nebraska, Idaho.
As of right now, we`re watching the results come in, in Missouri. It`s obviously early yet, but if Missouri votes to expand Medicaid, again, against the wishes of its Republican lawmakers, that will be a huge deal for hundreds of thousands of people in that state being able to get health insurance. Results continue to come in.
Watch this space.
MADDOW: That is going to do it for us tonight. It`s good to be back. Thanks for being here.
I will tell you, there`s one thing to watch tomorrow morning in the news, 10:00 a.m. Eastern, Sally Yates is scheduled to testify in the Senate, in a public hearing. She, of course, was deputy attorney general under President Obama. You may remember she resigned in protest over the Trump Muslim ban.
She was also the one who came up to the White House in person and warned the Trump White House that Mike Flynn, the national security adviser, was secretly talking to the Russian government and lying about it. But 10:00 a.m. tomorrow, Sally Yates will be testify thing that public hearing in the Senate, as Senate Republicans try to make the Obama administration seem very bad as a way of trying to make Joe Biden seem very bad, in advance of the election.
I have a feeling she will -- she will hold her own. That`s tomorrow morning 10:00 a.m.
We`ll see you again tomorrow night.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD," where the great Ali Velshi is in for Lawrence tonight.
Ali, my friend, I want to thank you for taking such good care of this show while I was out last week. You were fantastic.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END