CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: So, I want to introduce you, here they are, as we
are physically distancing. This is the birthday, Boy David, who is 6 and
this is Ryan, and I will say this, hold your loved ones close if you have
them close by. Have a good weekend.
That is "ALL IN" for this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Chris, the thing you have not prepared for is
that David and Ryan are now members of SAG-AFTRA and we`re going to have to
get them --
MADDOW: And I will join their bargaining group happily because I want them
on my team, too, my friend.
HAYES: They`re pretty good.
MADDOW: I love you, guys. Great to see you.
HAYES: Have a great weekend.
MADDOW: Great to see you. Great work, Chris.
HAYES: All right. Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour as well.
I am very grateful that you are here tonight.
We`re going to have Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi joining us live here
in just one moment.
You know, in times like these, if we are lucky, somebody steps forward,
unifying figure, somebody who brings us all together and reminds us what we
all have in common despite differences that might have kept us apart in the
past. Today, it was a Republican congressman from Kentucky, a man named
Thomas Massie who played that role. He proved that everyone, Democrat and
Republican, could come together, even in Washington, in common purpose --
the common purpose of being absolutely furious with Congressman Thomas
Massie because there really was no suspense today about whether the House
of Representatives was going to pass this $2 trillion relief package and
prop up the economy, which is more or less shut down during this pandemic.
I mean, the Senate passed this legislation a couple days ago 96-0
unanimously, Democrats and Republicans. By all accounts, the vast, vast,
vast majority members of the House supported this thing as well.
The suspense was not about whether it would get passed, the suspense was
about how the House bill would get passed and how much danger members of
Congress would have to put themselves in in order to cast their votes. A
vote in the House chamber is an activity very not conducive to social
distancing, all right? Americans are supposed to avoid gatherings of
numerous people right now, while there are 435 people in the House of
When they vote, they physically turn up all in the same room to cast their
votes. Another thing everybody is supposed to avoid right now is travel. As
of yesterday, Capitol Hill sources told us that only a few dozen members of
Congress were even in Washington. Members who wanted to travel to
Washington, many of them couldn`t, even if they wanted to, even if they had
As of today, four members of the House of Representatives tested positive
for COVID-19, more than a dozen others were in quarantine because they were
in contact with those members or other people who tested positive. So, how
are they going to cast this vote?
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the House leadership on both sides of aisle
came together and decided what they would do because there was no suspense
about the fact this thing was going to pass, what they would do is they
would pass this by voice vote, and that would mean that not everyone would
have to physically be there to do it.
But then Republican Congressman Thomas Massie started letting everyone know
that he planned to make all the other members of Congress come to the
Capitol to be there personally to pass it. He planned to object to holding
a voice vote. He wanted to require at least half of members of Congress to
be there in person, 216 people. Everybody had to be there together.
Here was a sort of snapshot, a kind of reaction that he got. This was from
his fellow Republican congressman, New York Congressman Peter king. Quote:
Heading to Washington to vote on pandemic legislation because of one member
of Congress refusing to allow emergency action, entire Congress must be
called back for vote to vote in House. Risk of infection and risk of
legislation being delayed. Disgraceful. Irresponsible.
Again, from his fellow Republican member of Congress. I mean -- and this
was not some abstract thing. This was not an inconvenience that Thomas
Massie was causing. You`re going to make hundreds of lawmakers crowd into
room right now.
I mean, the House physician, the attending physician of the Capitol, the
sergeant at arms put out a joint, very stark memo yesterday advising
members of Congress that if and when they came to the Capitol today, they,
you know, shouldn`t use the elevators together. They should all take the
stairs instead. If they entered the House chamber, they would be required
to use hand sanitizer on the way in and out and there would -- there would
be an attempt to keep them apart from one chamber, even within the House
Honestly, the told members of Congress bluntly that they should not come to
the Capitol if they didn`t have to. Quote: Members should use extreme care
and deliberation when making the determination to travel to Washington,
D.C., the office of the House physician continues to recommend teleporting.
But they have to come today, to make sure this $2 trillion bill got passed,
because Thomas Massie personally insisted that they needed to physically
show up to do so.
And so, here was the unprecedented scene in the House chamber today.
Members of Congress each seated six feet of social distance apart,
scattered across both the House floor and balconies where spectators
usually sit so enough members could be present to block Thomas Massie`s
stunt while putting each other`s lives in as little danger as possible.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi seen here diligently disinfecting the microphone
in the lectern before speaking, beckoning all the members to gather in this
chamber. This is how it went down.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. THOMAS MASSIE (R-KY): Mr. Speaker?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is the gentleman recognized?
MASSIE: I object on the basis that a quorum is not present and make a
point of order that a quorum is not present.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The chair will count for a quorum. Counted for a
quorum, a quorum is present. The motion is adopted.
Without objection, a motion to reconsider is laid upon the table. Pursuant
to section 7B of House Resolution 891, the House stands adjourned until
3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 31st, 2020.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The house passed that $2 trillion piece of legislation today.
President Trump signed it this afternoon. He invited no Democrats to be
there for the signing ceremony, but given the lack of respect for social
distancing inside the White House, perhaps that was for the best in the
How soon can Americans expect to feel the relief this bill is meant to
bring? How important is it that it passed now? What`s going to happen next?
Joining us now for "The Interview", I`m proud to say, is the Speaker of the
House Nancy Pelosi.
Madam Speaker, it`s an honor to have you with us tonight. Thank you for
taking time to join us.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Thank you. My honor to be with you. Thank you
for all that you`re doing to make sure people know what the challenges that
we face in this very sad time. Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Well, thank you for saying so.
This is -- this is the single most expensive piece of legislation ever
passed as far as we can tell in terms of dollars. I have to ask big
picture, how comfortable you are that what happened today, this vote today,
this legislation today, will go the distance that America needs it to go
toward holding the economy together and helping us respond as best we can
to what`s happening?
PELOSI: The legislation that we passed today is a very big down payment,
but we have much more to do. But just to back up for a moment, the
legislation that the Republicans passed with their tax scam a couple years
ago approached almost $2 trillion and giving 83 percent of the benefits to
the top 1 percent in our country. The president said today, I never signed
a $2 trillion bill. Well, he nearly did in that giveaway, which didn`t
create jobs, only increased the national debt, and was a real disservice to
our children and their future.
So, when they talk about this as $2 trillion and all that it does for
America`s workers and families, it is the least we could do and we have
much more to do, and I can talk about it, if you wish.
MADDOW: Yes, I want to -- I want to talk about what`s in the bill. I want
to talk about the president`s signing statement. You just -- your office
just put out a statement moments ago on the president using the Defense
I do feel like, though, I have to ask you about what happened today with
Congressman Thomas Massie of Kentucky, this Republican congressman calling
for a recorded vote. This remarkable scene of members of Congress basically
fighting their way back to Washington in order to be here because he was
going to insist on a recorded vote.
You were seen talking to him on the house floor before he raised his
Can I just ask you what you said to him and what your view is on what he
PELOSI: Well, I tried to be respectful for his enthusiasm for his idea,
but I did tell him that it wasn`t going to work, that we will have a voice
vote, that he was just -- and it wasn`t going to hold us up too much and I
recommended that he take his enthusiasm to the floor and speak about why he
was unhappy and let that be his statement instead of making a statement
that wasn`t going to work, that wasn`t even going to register on the clock
more than like one minute, that we had a plan, that we always knew we would
pass this bill and we would pass it today and that would not let any
nuisance stand in the way.
And that`s really what he was, a dangerous nuisance.
But later in the day, we saw that president signed the bill and he was a
dangerous president. It was so sad to hear him say as he signed the bill --
just think back 20 days, 20 days ago, everything was great. Everything was
great and now, 20 days later, we have this challenge.
No, 20 days ago, we had nearly 500 cases, 17 deaths, we had a threat that
he chose to ignore. And now, we have about 100,000 cases and over 1,500
deaths, and he`s still in that state where he`s not doing enough for all of
the PPP, the personal protective -- PPE, the personal protective equipment
that our brave health care workers, first responders and the rest who risk
their lives to save other people`s lives urgently need.
MADDOW: In terms of the president`s personal actions and his personal
decisions, I was struck by the fact he issued a signing statement when he
signed this bill today, saying that he would override the provision of this
bill that lays out some oversight and the establishment of the inspector
general to make sure that some of the business bailout provisions in the
bill aren`t misused. The president saying today that he has no interest in
that oversight and he`ll override that.
What`s your reaction to that?
PELOSI: Well, of course, it`s not a surprise to anyone but Congress will
exercise its oversight and we will have our panel of House -- appointed by
the House to, in real time, to make sure we know where those funds are
But let me say that the president`s statement is indicative of the
difference between Democrats and Republicans when it came to this bill.
Well, the bill that was put on the floor last Saturday by Senator McConnell
was a corporation -- corporate-down bill. Trickle-down, as usual. What it
turned into was a bubble-up, workers first legislation, workers and
They never thought they would be supporting the provisions that are in the
bill that relate to unemployment insurance and how it is expanded in so
many ways, that all that we would be doing for small businesses, that there
would be provisions that would be helpful to families in terms of access to
health care and the rest.
The bill was jujitsu. We just took their bill and turned it around. And so,
they signed it in the White House as if they had some real provenance as to
what was in the bill. But they know that the bill was needed and we -- and
again, we put our conditions on any assistance that was going to industries
in our country because we wanted to make sure that workers came first and
they did in the bill. And they do in the bill.
MADDOW: I -- I know that there are provisions in this legislation to
provide support to hospitals, to try to get critical medical supplies
produced and distributed into those frontline health care workers that you
were just praising. I feel like I`m -- what I would expect from the federal
government in a pandemic, what I would want from the federal government in
terms of their role in a coordinating effort and in a streamlining effort
and in a rationalizing effort, to make sure that resources got where they
were, I don`t have any faith that this administration is capable of doing
those things even if they should, even if in the way we understand our
government, they should take on that kind of a role.
Do you believe that the federal government basically will get its act
together when it comes to things like personal protective equipment or do
you think that this will be led to the bitter end just by individual
states, individual governors fighting it out on their own?
PELOSI: Well, let`s make a distinction between the Congress of the United
States and the president of the United States. In our legislation today, we
face the reality of what we have to do. This is the third bill that`s in
about three weeks.
The first two bills were about emergen -- addressing the emergency, about
testing, testing, testing. The first bill, mask, mask, about research for a
cure and a vaccine, all kinds of pieces -- provisions in the bill to
address the emergency.
The bill today was more about mitigation -- mitigating for the damage that
was done to our economy and how we can address meeting the needs of
America`s working families so affected by the shutdown -- all of the
provisions to not to have communal -- coming together.
So, it is important to note that we still have to do more on emergency, we
still have to do on mitigation, but our next thrust will be about recovery
and how we can create good-paying jobs so that we can take the country into
the future in a very strong way. At the same time, though, we still have to
address what you said.
Today, the president said he was going to do the Defense Production Act so
that businesses would be producing more ventilators. A little -- very late.
He said he sent thousands of ventilators to New York. Well, maybe one-tenth
of what they need, 4,000, and they probably need ten times that much.
Issues that relate to other equipment that is just not in the works and we
want the president to expand the Defense Production Act to insist that our
industries are making those products.
We can`t ask people to go into infectious situations again to risk their
lives to save another life, we should be -- we should be making sure they
have the equipment that they need.
For example, ventilator, it`s not just a convenience, it`s a necessity, and
it`s a necessity in real time. People need ventilators from one moment to
the next to stay alive, and yet, the president, I don`t -- I just can`t
understand how those who are advising him scientifically aren`t just
demanding that he do something more drastic in terms of that equipment.
We also need much more money for our state and local governments, just much
more money for that and if he were to think that they should be left to
their own devices, well, they should be left with much more money to do so,
money that their state have all contributed to the national treasury.
In addition to that, these hospitals need much more -- when I say
hospitals, I mean, institutions serving the health needs, whether it`s
nursing homes, hospitals, other institutions that care for people.
The list goes on about the needs. And actually, there are other needs, too.
We need to expand family and medical leave so it covers more people, which
We need to address pensions. Actually, in that case, we had the support of
the president but not Mitch McConnell. He wouldn`t do it. He said he`d do
it in another bill so we`re setting up for the next bill.
We need to address a disservice to the District of Columbia which is
appalling. In every provision ever, they`ve always been treated like a
state and then they treat them like a territory, to the cost of hundreds of
millions of dollars to the people of the District of Columbia as they fight
We also need to have strong OSHA rules that we`ve been asking for for
awhile to make sure that these people who are providing care are protected
in the -- in the workplace in addition to having the equipment, which is
part of -- which is part of the rule.
We want to make sure that when we say the testing was free, that everything
that goes with the testing is free so that people don`t get a co-pay that
is too high for them to pay because -- just because they were told that
they needed to be testing.
The list goes on. There are so many needs that we have in there that are
urgent to this health issue that specific to the coronavirus. We`re not
having a wish list for all time. We`re having a coronavirus necessity list
and -- associated with that, of course, is more money.
We got $400 million for elections. We need much more so that we can have
the elections to -- first of all, to take place, and to take place in a way
that is more open, with more vote by mail and the ability (ph) to do so,
and to help the Postal Service with resources to enable them to do so --
just to name a few.
MADDOW: Just to name a few, indeed.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Madam Speaker, first, I want to say
happy birthday. I know you just had your 80th birthday. Thank you for
everything you did to get Congress back together in this bipartisan work to
make sure that it was safe for members to come back today. I know it was a
real fight. Thank you.
PELOSI: Thank you.
MADDOW: I hope that you can get some rest as Congress recesses and be
PELOSI: No, we`re getting ready for the next bill.
But I appreciate your birthday wishes which I will not celebrate until I
can hug my grandchildren and my children, until every one -- every grandma
and mom and dad and parents in the country can do that as well. Then we`ll
all be able to celebrate.
But thank you again for the opportunity to share some thoughts with you
about how we see our bill and where we go from here next. Thank you,
MADDOW: Madam Speaker, thank you.
All right. We got much more to get to tonight. Do stay with us.
MADDOW: It is a measure of where we are at on a day when the Congress
passed a bill with $2 trillion worth of spending to sure up the American
economy, the Dow Jones index responded by dropping another 900-plus points.
That`s where we are.
Last night, the United States of America became the largest coronavirus
epidemic in the world. Tonight, the U.S. passed 100,000 known coronavirus
cases, that`s cases proven by testing. But we have these big asterisks on
our case numbers as a country because we`re the country with the worst
testing access in the industrialized world. So, yes, we`re at 100 cases but
our epidemic is likely many times that size.
The one highly populated place in the United States that`s doing a ton of
testing is New York. Of the known 100,000 cases in the United States, more
than 25,000 of those cases are in New York City alone.
Let me show you something about what this week has been like. The first day
we started getting daily numbers on not just cases but the numbers of
patients hospitalized in New York City, first day we started getting
numbers regularly was March 21st -- which is this past Saturday.
On Saturday, New York City told us there were 1,450 coronavirus patients in
the hospital in New York. Sunday, the number rose from 1,450 to 1,800. On
Monday, it rose to 2,200, more than 2,200. On Tuesday, the number was 2,850
patients hospitalized in New York. On Wednesday, 3,922; on Thursday,
yesterday, 4,720 coronavirus patients hospitalized in New York.
Today we just got in the New York numbers from New York City as of 6:00
p.m. this evening, 5,250 coronavirus patients in New York City hospital
beds now and that number may get rise. Again, that`s as of 6:00 p.m.
It`s remarkable to see that rise just over the course of this week since
they first started reporting these numbers. You plot it on a graph and you
can see the daily data but upswing. You can see how that curve is pointing
I mean, this is -- this is the crisis and the first city to be hit with a
title wave of sick patients, the steepness of the upward curve just over
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo addressed members of the National Guard
today at the Javits Center, which is the big convention center in
Manhattan. They`re going to open their first 1,000 hospital beds over the
next few days there. They`re ultimately probably going to have 2,000
hospital beds on site, which is great, but it`s only a start given the tens
of thousands of additional beds that are needed in New York City alone.
We`ve also been getting daily updates on the death toll. Again, just in New
York City at the beginning of this week on Saturday, the New York City
death toll was 60. It`s now up to 450.
Seeing that on a graph, again, also shows you not just the data but the bad
upward trend. "The New York Times" has now created a special obituary page
just for people who have died from coronavirus.
Today, New Yorkers started doing something that other communities have done
in recent weeks all over Europe and in Canada. People who are staying at
home to do their part to slow the spread of the virus nevertheless coming
to their windows or onto their balconies if they have them at 7:00 p.m.
local time to clap and cheer and say "thank you" to doctors and nurses and
other frontline health workers who, after all, are basically the infantry
for all of us as the hospitals start to get swamped, especially here where
our government cannot get it together to supply even the greatest hospitals
in our country with adequate protective equipment to keep hospital workers
from themselves being exposed and having their lives put in danger while
they`re caring for all of us and caring for the sick and caring for the
And you know the situation in the worst-hit New York hospitals really bears
no resemblance whatsoever to the happy talk, we`re doing fine nonsense that
we are still daily hearing from the White House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. COLLEEN SMITH, EMERGENCY CARE PHYSICIAN: All the feet that you see,
they all have COVID.
The frustrating thing about all of this is it really just feels like it`s
too little, too late. Like we knew, we knew it was coming.
Today is kind of getting worse and worse. We had to get a refrigerated
truck to store the bodies of patients who are dying. We are right now
scrambling to try to get a few additional ventilators or even CPAP
I don`t have the support that I need, and even just the materials that I
need physically to take care of my patients, and it`s America. And we`re
supposed to be a first-world country.
We`re seeing a lot of patients who probably had COVID, but we didn`t
realize. Ten residents and also many, many of our nurses and a few of the
attending physicians got sick. The anxiety of this situation is really
You know, all of the doctors, it`s hard for us to get tested even if we
want to, even if we have symptoms. We`re exposed over and over again. We
don`t have the protective equipment that we should have.
I put on one N95 mask in the morning. I need to have that N95 mask on for
every patient I see. I don`t take it off all day. The N95 mask I wore today
is also the N95 mask I wore on Friday.
So many people are saying it`s going to be OK. Everything`s fine. We have
what we need. And if this goes on for a month or two or three or five like
it did in China, and we`re already this strained, we don`t have what we
I don`t really care if I get in trouble for speaking to the media. I want
people to know that this is bad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Since "The New York Times" posted that account from Elmhurst
Hospital in Queens and from that doctor, that hospital has reportedly been
sent 40 more ventilators and roughly 50 more health care workers.
Also, this sign has gone up across the street. "Thank you" to the people
We`re going to be talking in just a moment with the chair of emergency
medicine at the Brooklyn Hospital Center, which is dealing with many of the
same challenges. They are in fact right now asking for some of the doctors
and nurses and respiratory therapists and other health workers who have
volunteered by the thousands to be part of a New York medical reserve corps
to please come onboard, to please get assigned to them as their doctors and
residents and other workers have already started to fall ill.
That interview is coming up next.
But I want to tell you it is really not just New York. The U.S. conference
of mayors tonight released a survey of mayors in 213 U.S. cities over 41
states. Nearly 90 percent of the mayors said they already lack sufficient
test kits and face masks and other protective equipment for not just
medical workers but also emergency responders. Eighty-five percent of
mayors said their hospitals do not have enough ventilators.
The governor in the great state of Colorado, Jared Polis, tonight gave a
briefing on that state`s stay at home order saying that, so far, in
Colorado, on average, each infected person is infecting three to four other
people, which is a considerably higher infection rate than it was in China
when China was at its worse. Governor Polis saying tonight that Colorado
has 900 ventilators and they believe they will need 7,000.
Here`s one other report tonight from Southwest Georgia, not from Atlanta
but from rural southwest Georgia. Albany, Georgia, where the nearest
interstate is 40 miles east and there`s no reason for local officials to
blame it on New York City or blame it on China or blame it on any other
boogeyman foreign influence.
Quote: The area`s lone hospital network, Phoebe Putney, is at the center of
the coronavirus storm. The sudden deluge of critically ill patients quickly
overwhelmed Albany`s main hospital. When reports of the virus first came
out of China late last year, Phoebe`s CEO said the hospital tried to
prepare by building up a six-month store of supplies. The hospital burned
through that six-month stockpile in seven days when the virus hit their
hospital, he said. Quote, what we were not prepared for was the sheer
On Wednesday of this week, the hospital in Albany, Georgia, announced that
all 38 of its intensive care beds for coronavirus patients were full. The
following day after five other hospitals agreed to take transfers, Phoebe
had only one bed open. Meanwhile, Phoebe is working to set up overflow
units at a mostly empty branch hospital about a mile and a half away, but
to staff those units the hospital`s CEO says he`s going to need 50 to 75
more nurses along with more nurse assistants and respiratory therapists and
doctors. He has turned to the Georgia`s governor`s office and the
department of public health to please try to find those workers.
He also needs workers now to back-fill for staffers at that hospital who
have already fallen ill. So far at least 18 workers at that one rural
Georgia hospital have tested positive for COVID-19. Unable to find
replacements, he`s told hospital workers that they must report for duty
even if they have tested positive.
That`s not New York City. That`s not King County, Seattle, Washington.
That`s not even New Orleans, which is 400 miles away from there. That`s
rural, black belt Georgia.
This is a national crisis. This is not the kind of crisis that each state
can fix on their own or each town or each hospital can approach on their
own. This is a national thing, which would make it wonderful if we had
national leadership and a national response.
But we don`t. So we do what we can. We`re going to talk with the chief of
emergency medicine at a hard-hit hospital in Brooklyn, New York, live next.
MADDOW: In Brooklyn alone right now, there are 989 people hospitalized
with coronavirus. A number of those patients are being treated at the
Brooklyn Hospital Center in Fort Green. That`s the hospital where,
incidentally, Dr. Tony Fauci was born, the country`s top infectious disease
That hospital, an independent, historic hospital, is running thin on
testing supplies and space and staff who have increasingly started to fall
ill themselves. The president and chief executive of the Brooklyn Hospital
told "The New York Times" yesterday, quote, we are in disaster mode.
The hospital`s chair of emergency medicine is Dr. Sylvia DeSouza. She told
"The Times" that if the patient volume keeps increasing at its current
pace, the emergency room is going to be out of space by next week. The
hospital has 18 ICU beds. They quickly filled up. They`ve added more. As
the hospital`s own staff have started to fall ill, they have asked for
reserves to replenish their ranks.
Joining us live is Dr. Sylvie De Souza, chair of emergency medicine at
Brooklyn Hospital Center.
Dr. De Souza, thank you very much for joining us tonight. I know this is
probably the last thing you want to be doing.
DR. SYLVIE DE SOUZA, BROOKLYN HOSPITAL CHAIR OF EMERGENCY MEDICINE: Thank
you for having me.
MADDOW: Can I just start by asking how you are and how your staff is
DE SOUZA: We`re holding up. We`re doing the best we can one day at a time.
MADDOW: You`re in charge of emergency medicine at one of the hospitals
that`s really at the epicenter of this crisis. What can you tell me and
tell the country about the kind of pace and the kind of increase that
you`ve seen when you started getting your first patients and how rapidly
the pace started to accelerate and what the pace is like now in terms of
DE SOUZA: When we started screening on March 3rd for any patients who
would present to the emergency department with influenza-like symptoms in
preparation for what was to come, and since then we`ve seen and screened
approximately 950 patients.
MADDOW: In terms of that kind of -- those kinds of numbers and the
capacity of your hospital, I know you`re in charge of emergency medicine.
We`ve seen some of the data about the intensive care beds, the number of,
for example, ventilators.
How -- tell us about the ratio between that kind of influx of patients and
what you`re capable of managing on a day to day basis. How full are you
DE SOUZA: Right. So this influx of patients, of additional patients is in
addition to our regular volumes of emergencies that we see on a daily
basis. We see approximately 75,000 patients a year, so that comes out to
about 200 to 250 patients a day.
So these 950 patients are in addition to our regular volume. So you can
imagine the challenge.
So once we started screening, we quickly realized we needed a mechanism to
keep the patients who were the least symptomatic out of the emergency
department, and we actually installed a tent eight days ago outside of the
hospital so you -- to give us the ability to screen those who could
possibly be treated at home, and that`s what we`ve been doing for the last
eight days. For those who we recognize as having more severe symptoms, we
bring into the emergency department.
We had to designate an area. We essentially separated our emergency
department into a safe zone and a zone to evaluate patients who are at risk
for coronavirus. We had no other choice in order to protect the other
patients who come in with heart attacks and strokes or regular emergencies
and the staff.
So, now our zone where we see the patients suspected as having coronavirus
is completely flooded, overwhelmed, understaffed. We`re doing the best we
can. We -- essentially they range from minor symptoms to very critically
ill patients who require ICU, who require life support. Many of them remain
in the emergency department because we have no space in the ICU to move
MADDOW: Do you feel like you have access to resources either to transfer
patients, to tap more personnel to come in to bolster your ranks among you
and your colleagues, to access more protective equipment as it has run
thin, to access more expertise if you need more advice or more people to
come in and help you develop these kinds of ad hoc systems where you`re
separating COVID patients from other patients? Do you feel like you have
resources to tap, to scale up to do the kinds of things you`re describing?
DE SOUZA: We do not. What we do right now -- I mean, as of today, we`re
able to take care of the patients that we have currently, and we`ve had a
tremendous outpour of support from the community. Since we are a community
hospital, we`ve had multiple donations of protective equipment, which is
vetted by our supply chain folks and then put into circulation.
So, we have been extremely fortunate in that sense that we have not yet run
out, but I don`t know what tomorrow holds or what next week holds. I can
only take it one day at a time.
MADDOW: Dr. Sylvie De Souza, chair of emergency medicine of Brooklyn
Hospital Center, thank you for your time tonight. I feel like I want to
thank you on behalf of all of us. I know that it doesn`t mean much just to
hear thank you, but everybody in the whole country is pulling for you.
DE SOUZA: Thank you. Thank you for having me.
MADDWO: All right. Much more to get to tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: She started out life as an oil tanker. Back then in 1976, she was
known as the SS Worth. But by 1984, she had a new mission as a hospital
ship. She also had a new name, the USNS Mercy, named for the virtue of
The Mercy and its sister ship, the USNS Comfort, are designed to deal with
mass casualty events such as major wars. Now because of the coronavirus
pandemic, these hospital ships are being woken up from reserve status.
Together, they are now set to provide urgent medical services in America`s
two largest cities, Los Angeles and New York, as those cities struggle with
the coronavirus crisis.
The Comfort is set to arrive in New York harbor early next week. The Mercy
arrived in Los Angeles today. These are floating hospitals, 12 fully
equipped operating rooms, 1,000-bed-hospital facility, radiological
facilities, a medical lab, a pharmacy, an optometry lab, a CAT scan, two
oxygen producing plants.
On the day the Mercy has arrived in Los Angeles, the commanding officer of
one of those floating miracles, the USNS Mercy, joins us live from on board
Captain John Rotruck is the commanding of Mercy.
Sir, Captain, it is an honor to have you join us tonight. Thank you for
CAPT. JOHN ROTRUCK, USNS MERCY COMMANDING OFFICER: On behalf of the men
and women of the USNS Mercy, it`s an honor to be with you.
MADDOW: What can you explain to our audience, to all of us tonight about
what the Mercy is capable of? We shorthand it as a floating hospital. We`ve
seen the Mercy and also the Comfort deployed to disaster zones abroad.
What should Americans expect about the kind of capability you`re going to
bring to Los Angeles?
ROTRUCK: We offer a very broad range of medical (INAUDIBLE) specialties.
We securities (ph) beds, work beds, operating rooms as you mentioned, so
we`re a very capable hospital.
MADDOW: We`ve been describing your ship as having a thousand beds, and I
know that you have a lot more than beds onboard.
Should Californians expect that the Mercy would be used specifically for
treatment of coronavirus patients or isolation of patients who have tested
positive or are showing symptoms, or do you expect that your ship will be
used more for non-coronavirus, non-COVID patients to take on the kind of
hospital responsibilities that Los Angeles hospitals are not able to
ROTRUCK: Our specific mission is to provide care for non-coronavirus
infected patients so they can offer relief to hospitals and enable them to
focus their time and resources on patients infected with coronavirus.
MADDOW: One of the things that I was talking about with my staff today
when we found out we were going to be able to speak with you, and we
remember from seeing other deployments of your vessel abroad, we were
talking about the prospects and the logistics of getting patients on and
off the ship. I mean this is not like, you know, pulling a hospital into
the Central Square, downtown L.A. You are going to be at port.
How does it work in terms of getting patients onboard and off board? How
easy is that? How flexible can you be about that?
ROTRUCK: So all of our patients are going to come as inter hospital
transfers from other local hospitals here in L.A. They`re going to come to
us by ground transport and they`re actually going to (INAUDIBLE).
It`s an easy passage up some ramps to get (INAUDIBLE)
MADDOW: How many staff are on board the Mercy? How many doctors and
nurses, and how long do they expect their deployment will be?
ROTRUCK: So we have just under 1,000 staff, two thirds of those medical,
and a third are not medical. As you can imagine it takes a lot of support
personnel to make our hospital run, so we have (INAUDIBLE) specialists,
information technologists, (INAUDIBLE) who support the patient care. In
addition (ph), we have (INAUDIBLE) who drive the ship, navigate it from
place to place (INAUDIBLE).
As far as how long we`re supposed to be here, we`re seen as the lead
agency. We`re cording with the state of California and local authorities
and we`ll take our cues from that as long as we decide we should be here
MADDOW: Captain John Rotruck, commanding officer of the USNS Mercy, sir,
thank you for taking time to explain to us your mission and thank you to
you and all the men and women on board that ship for what you`re doing.
ROTRUCK: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. Again, the Mercy has landed, has arrived in Los
Angeles. The Comfort is due in New York harbor over the next couple of
days. Each of them, about 1,000 beds.
They do not expect to be treating coronavirus patients. They hope to be, as
the commanding officer just said, they hope to be basically a relief valve
for non-coronavirus patients to have someplace else to get expert care as
hospitals in New York and soon in Los Angeles start to fill up almost
entirely with coronavirus cases.
All right. More to get to tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: I want to finish tonight by checking back in with a story we were
first to bring you a week ago from King County, Washington, which, of
course, is the original epicenter of the coronavirus epidemic in this
We have been watching efforts in King County to build a new temporary
hospital on a local soccer field. This was one of the first of these that
we saw starting to go up anywhere in the country. King County officials
planned to use that soccer field for a 200-bed hospital, again trying to
relieve the pressure on overwhelmed local hospitals trying to free up room
for sicker patients.
As we reported a few days ago, King County started in on this on the local
soccer field last week. Here`s an update on how construction is going now.
Obviously, just incredible progress they`ve made. They`ve gone from local
field to nearly ready hospital just in a matter of days.
And there`s some further ad hoc construction that has popped up there too,
made by the neighbors. We don`t know exactly who put up these improvised
welcome signs, but look at this. They say "We`re with you" and "Welcome
That`s King County, Washington, but we are seeing building now all across
the country. Louisiana, the governor is warning that the hospitals will max
out by next week. Officials are outfitting the enormous convention center
in downtown New Orleans to hold over 1,000 hospital beds. Again they`re
trying to ease the strain on the city`s existing hospitals by offering this
other place. They plan on having 120 beds operational in the New Orleans
Convention Center by this -- by the end of this weekend and then hundreds
more beds to come online.
In Illinois, the mayor of Chicago, Lori Lightfoot, announced plans to
reserve at least 1,000 Chicago hotel rooms for coronavirus patients who are
symptomatic, who have mild or moderate symptoms and for those who are
unable to go home for fear of spreading the virus to their households.
That`s an important part of controlling these epidemics, right, is to
isolate people who are sick away from their households, in places they can
In California, in Fresno County, officials announced today they`re planning
a makeshift hospital on the local Fresno fairgrounds with 200 beds.
In Florida, Miami-Dade County construction well under way on a 250-bed
field hospital on the fairgrounds there. We reported on that several days
ago. Officials are expecting construction there to wrap up today.
Also on the state fairgrounds in Oregon, the National Guard, Oregon
National Guard is well on their way to opening a makeshift hospital there
to handle the surge in hospital patients. We are seeing cities and counties
all across the county -- all across the country, build out field hospitals
in all kinds of places.
And as it turns out in some parts of the country, you can also sail
hospital capacity into port. Once again the U.S. naval ship Mercy already
arrived in Los Angeles as of today. We just spoke with its commanding
officer. The USNS Comfort will be arriving in New York City we believe by
That does it for us tonight. We will see you again on Monday. Be well.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD" where Ali Velshi is in for Lawrence
Good evening, Ali.
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