RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend. Much appreciated it.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
Tonight, our guest for "The Interview" is New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. He`s going to be joining us live. He is leading the response to the largest coronavirus outbreak in the country, actually the largest in the world at this point.
The U.S. has over 240,000 confirmed cases, as of today, which means that our country now has more than double the number of cases than any other country in the world has. We are getting close to 6,000 Americans dead, as of this evening. And I will tell you that number grows every few minutes.
This is how bad our epidemic is compared to the other countries on earth that have also contended with this crisis on a large scale. This is Johns Hopkins data showing daily new confirmed cases by country, and down there way below us, as you can see the lines that indicate Spain, and Germany, and Italy, and France, in terms of their daily confirmed new cases, you can also see China back there, with their peak, way back in February.
But if you`re looking for us, that`s up, up top, just running away with it, as our national response continues to founder, and as our epidemic just grows and grows and grows and the death numbers grow and grow and grow.
Tonight, the federal government says it is working on guidance that would recommend for the first time that many Americans, some Americans, a large number of Americans, some Americans, all Americans, we don`t know, that some Americans wear masks, not surgical masks but some kind of face covering, when we all go out in public. Again, it is unclear yet as to what the administration is going to announce, presumably they will, they are still working on it, we will talk more about it tonight.
This is the kind of recommendation that was actually first made in Riverside County, California, a couple of days ago. Then, yesterday, Laredo Texas made this recommendation. And yesterday, crucially, Los Angeles`s Mayor Eric Garcetti also made that recommendation yesterday. Mayor Garcetti is going to be joining us tonight as well.
Tonight, today, New York City`s mayor advised that people should generally cover their faces, wear some kind of mask when they go out in public, and now it seems that wearing masks in public may soon be a nationwide recommendation but we shall see.
As the country reels, or keeps denying it, depending where you are, the place that remains unquestionably the bloody front line of this crisis is New York, which itself is closing in on 100,000 cases, and where in New York City, as of 5:00 p.m. tonight, there are 10,590 people hospitalized with coronavirus. Eight hundred and fifteen people newly admitted to New York City hospitals in the last 24 hours alone.
These hospitalization numbers have been rapidly increasing every single day that we have been tracking them, and it does not look like they are dropping anytime soon. Today, the chief medical officer of Mount Sinai Brooklyn talked to "New York Magazine" to give that publication one little slice of what it`s like to be running that one hospital, at 100 percent capacity, right now, on the front lines, with so many patients dying, every day now, that they literally cannot keep up with the bodies.
Again, this is the chief medical officer at Mount Sinai Brooklyn today. He said, quote, we started putting bodies in the morgue truck last week. And it`s been used a lot. A lot. I think there`s 40 bodies in there now.
The funeral homes are having trouble keeping up a bit. We`re accumulating a certain number of bodies here. We have outfitted the morgue truck with shelves now, because you have to keep track of people. You have to make sure that the right family gets the right body back. You want to treat these people with respect and dignity, knowing that it is a very unnatural situation.
It`s dark days, with New York`s governor frankly warning of darker days yet still ahead.
Joining us for "The Interview", I`m pleased to say, is Governor Andrew Cuomo of the great state of New York.
Governor, thank you so much for making time to be here tonight. I really appreciate it.
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): Thank you. Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: First of all, if you don`t mind me asking, I -- I do wonder how you are, and how you are holding up, weeks into this crisis now. I have on this show sort of called you the president of the coronavirus response because of the national leadership that you`ve shown, and the national attention to what you are contending with in New York, I just wonder how this is wearing on you, after these few weeks.
CUOMO: Well, first, thank you for having me on. And more importantly, on behalf of all Americans, thank you for your coverage. It has really been extraordinary.
You know, it -- it`s hard. It is really hard. I take my responsibilities seriously, I don`t make excuses, when you have 2,300 people who die, and you see it every day, and it`s only getting worse, that`s tough, Rachel, just to deal with, day in and day out.
Obviously, on an organizational basis, it`s hectic. It`s 24 hours a day. It`s seven days a week. But I`ve been through that before.
It`s the death. It`s the human suffering. It`s the fear. It`s the anxiety, that weighs on you. More than the physical fatigue, it`s the emotional fatigue.
MADDOW: I showed the daily number of how hospitalizations have increased day by day, in New York City. We`ve also seen similar rises in New York state.
You`ve talked very publicly about trying to understand what the models are creating in terms of an imperative for New York, the need to simultaneously hospitalize somewhere on the order of 110,000, 140,000 people all at the same time in New York at peak, and I know you`re adding bed capacity wherever you can.
But do you have a clear expectation when every bed is going to be full and there won`t be room to take more patients? Are you sure New York is going to hit that point and do you know when it might be?
CUOMO: Well, it`s -- that`s the $64,000 question, Rachel. You only -- we only know what the projection models say. And, by the way, the projection models say different things.
For example, when do you hit the top of the curve? Some models say seven days from now, some models say 21 days from now. So, there`s a variable about how effective they believe social distancing is. The number of total beds that we would need ranges from 60,000 to 110,000.
So, the range in these models is maddening, frankly, because if you`re trying to plan for it, it`s very hard. But whatever model you pick, it -- it eclipses everything we have. We have a 50,000-bed system. We have 36,000 beds in downstate New York, where this will hit.
So, it`s beds. It`s staff. It`s equipment.
The easiest thing to do is get the beds frankly. It`s going to be about the staff and the equipment. And it may even be about the equipment more than the staff, right?
You need all three, for the system to work, and the first one that crumbles, the system crumbles.
MADDOW: You know, Governor, you talk about the anxiety, and the fear, and the grind of the logistical work that you`re doing. I feel like there`s a - - there`s a -- I have a base fear, when I think about there being severely ill Americans by the -- even by the tens, let alone by the hundreds of the thousands, and who need to be hospitalized, who need to be in hospitals, who need intensive care in order to stay alive, not being able to go anywhere to get that care.
I mean, I -- I know that we talk about these number, and these models, and I know lots of states right now are looking at those curves and looking at those projections and seeing how many more beds they`re going to need, how many more ICU beds they`re going to need. But their (ph) -- I don`t know how to prepare people for what it might mean, when the hospitals are full, and what that`s going to do in terms of us as a culture and as a society, seeing that kind of level of human suffering.
CUOMO: Oh, Rachel, God forbid we get there. God forbid this country gets to a point where you see people literally on gurneys in hallways. I just, I -- for this state, I am not -- I`m not going to accept that. We`re doing everything we can to mobilize. We`re trying everything.
For us, it is going to come down to -- not the beds, it is going to be staff fatigue, and it is ventilators. You know, most of the -- almost all of these people now at this point are almost all ICU cases, they all need ventilators, and the ventilator becomes a question of life and death. And we`ve been talking about these ventilators for a long period of time. And they`re impossible to get, any ventilators.
So we`ve come up with an elaborate plan on how to move around ventilators and splitting ventilators, and using anesthesia machines and BiPAP machines and we stopped all elective surgery to free up ventilators. But, first, we have to avoid it. Second, I think we have to be smarter.
The one silver lining here is not every place in this country gets hit at the same time, right? There`s going to be a different curve for the disease in different areas, depending on when it started. And those curves will have a lag.
The problem for every area is going to be the apex of the curve, where it just overwhelms the health care system. But New York is going to have one apex, Detroit will have another, New Orleans will have another, Texas will have another, Los Angeles will have another.
Why don`t we devise a national strategy that moves with that rolling apex, if you will?
I need roughly 30,000 ventilators which I can`t get but I only need 30,000 ventilators for two or three weeks at the top of my curve. I need backup public health professionals. But I only need them for two or three weeks at the top of my curve.
Why don`t we have a national, use our national unity and our commonality, and say, let`s be smart, let`s go help this place, when this -- when that town goes over its curve, then we`ll go to the next, and then we`ll go to the next, and then we`ll go to the next?
I think Americans have a lot more commonality and volunteerism than we`re using.
I asked for national people -- public health people to come into New York. We had over 20,000 volunteers in three days, 20,000. I have 60,000 volunteers in the state. There is more goodwill and American spirit than we`re using. And I think there`s a smarter deployment.
MADDOW: You have been making that case for the federal deployment of resources, for the sort of mutually-supportive deployment of resources to the places that most need them, understanding that not everybody is going to hit they`re apex at the same time. Has that -- has that resonated at all with the federal government?
I know that you`ve got a mixed relationship with the Trump administration right now and they have been able to talk to you about some things and you`ve been critical with them and others.
But has that point that you`ve been making come home to them at all? I don`t see any other way that other states and other cities that are going to be approaching what New York City is in right now, I don`t see any other way that the country`s going to -- going to deal with those rolling apexes that you`re describing.
CUOMO: Well, you`re right. First, to say that I have a mixed relationship with the president is to be very kind. There`s probably no governor in the country who`s been more critical and there`s probably no governor in the country who he has been more aggressive towards with his tweets.
But on this one, the president and I have said, look, this is not about politics. If you help New York state, I will say, be gracious, and thank you, and be in partnership. And if you don`t help New York state, then I`ll say that.
You`re right. The states can`t organize this rolling deployment on their own. It would have to be federally organized. But I don`t see how you do it otherwise.
Otherwise, you`re saying to every state, every locality, you must be prepared on your own to handle this. The federal government will give you some back support, but it`s up to you.
It`s not going -- it`s not going to work that way, or it could work better the other way, let`s say it that way, Rachel. Which is, let the federal government say, look, this is like a slow-moving hurricane across the country, and we know the track that it`s going to take, let`s go to New York, board it up, do what we have to do, we all go to New York, and then we all go to Detroit, and then we all go to the next place. I think that`s the only way you do it.
Where we are now, 50 states all trying to buy the same equipment from China, and then the federal government comes in with FEMA, which is trying to purchase the same equipment, it -- this is not the way to do it.
I mean, obviously, if you could design a system, nobody would design a system where you say to the states, OK, you`re on your own, you go buy equipment, all shopping the same manufacturers in China.
You know, emergency management rule -- rule 101 is leave it to the local government, right? Local government knows best. That`s emergency management rule 101.
I was in the Clinton administration, as the HUD secretary, as you know, and I did emergency management work for eight years. Rule one is leave it to the localities.
Rule two is, if the localities can`t handle it, then the federal government steps in.
Remember what happened with President Bush with Hurricane Katrina. He blamed the mayor. Why? Because that was rule one.
The mayor didn`t know how to handle it. And it`s the mayor`s fault.
Yes, but there was rule two, which is if it`s beyond the capacity of the local government, then the federal government should step in.
No state is equipped to handle this situation. State emergency management does hurricanes, floods of moderate dimension. If they`re really big, the federal government comes in, that`s what FEMA is all about.
States don`t do public health emergencies. There is no capacity in my state health system that runs 50,000 beds to create and maintain an additional 50,000 beds, just in case once every 20 years, there`s a pandemic. You know, it doesn`t work that way.
But that`s where we are now. Hindsight is 20/20. But the states are responsible for their own purchasing, and frankly, there`s nothing left to buy anymore anyway.
I bought 17,000 ventilators -- ordered 17,000 ventilators from China, but I think what`s happening is when somebody else outbids you, you know, your order just -- is gone. I haven`t even received 1,000. So, that`s -- that horse is out of the barn.
The deployment we could still do. And I think Americans would support that.
MADDOW: In terms of the way it has worked thus far with the federal government, one of the things that we`ve covered here on the show is the federal government, the Army Corps, coming in, and helping build out, for example, the Javits Center in New York.
Lots of cities are setting up their convention centers as temporary hospitals to house coronavirus patients. And you were the first out of the gate with that with this Javits Center build out in Manhattan.
We`ve also seen the Navy hospital ship, the Comfort, arrive in New York harbor.
But there`s been some intriguing twists around both of them. "The New York Times" is reporting tonight that the Comfort has a grand total of three patients on board. The Comfort, of course, has been set up to not take coronavirus patients.
Until today, the Javits Center was not planning on taking any coronavirus patients either. But your office released a statement tonight, saying that now that`s changed.
It seems odd for those things to be changing course now. It seems weird for the hospital ship to essentially be disused in the harbor when New York hospitals are full up.
What can you tell us about those federally supported facilities right now?
CUOMO: Yes, in fairness, Rachel, the plan was both the U.S. Navy ship Comfort and the Javits Center emergency medical facility were supposed to be for non-COVID people. The plan was they would be a relief valve for the local hospitals, to take the non-COVID patients, and then more COVID patients could go into the hospitals.
What has happened is the COVID patients have overwhelmed the hospitals. Hospitals have now just basically turned into ICU units, with COVID patients. And because everything is closed down, there are fewer normal trauma cases, and since I stopped all of the elective surgery, you don`t have those patients.
So, the offloading of non-COVID patients really doesn`t exist.
The Javits Center is at 2,500 beds. We`re at desperate search for beds with staff. Javits has beds, but more importantly, federal staff and federal equipment.
And I called the president this morning, and I explained the situation to him. And to his credit, to his credit, Rachel, in one day, he turned around, and he called me this afternoon, and said we`re going to use Javits for COVID patients, which is a big deal. It`s 25 additional -- 2,500 additional beds.
The military apparently doesn`t want -- want to use the ship for non-COVID because of a protocol on how they would then disinfect the ship which I don`t really understand, frankly. But the ship was never supposed to be for COVID patients. The original understanding was non-COVID patients.
MADDOW: There is this alarming report today from the entity that manages New York hospitals, that if you -- if you`re in cardiac arrest somewhere in New York City, and EMTs show up, and they can`t revive you on-site, there`s now a change in protocol, where they are not taking you to a hospital, to try to revive you there, because the hospitals are so overwhelmed.
It does seem like having that hospital ship in New York harbor with no coronavirus patients on it, with -- as far as we can tell -- hundreds of empty beds, and staff there, to deal with it, they could be taking the few trauma patients, the few heart attack patients, the other people who now can`t get into the New York City hospitals.
CUOMO: Well, theoretically -- theoretically, they can. You know, this is all new. You have protocols that aren`t really established that have to be set up.
Theoretically, the U.S. Navy ship Comfort could take a non-COVID trauma case. So I don`t know how that protocol works on that.
But, look, this is a -- we`re all doing the best we can, trying to put together a system that can handle over 150, 200 percent of what the system is designed to do. And the federal facilities are an advantage.
For us, what it`s going to come down to is the staff burnout, staff getting sick, we have 80,000 volunteers, can we get them oriented to the right hospitals and in the right places, and then the equipment, and these ventilators that I never heard of before, now become the most precious piece of equipment, and the difference between life and death. You literally can`t acquire them.
And we`re looking at right now, we have about enough ventilators for six days at our current burn rate, right, of how many we use, how many additional ventilators we use every day. We get past that point. If we`re not yet at the apex, we`re going to be in a bad place. We have a backup plan to come up, and with additional ventilators, by basically MacGyvering the ventilators.
But it`s -- this is -- this is truly frightening. I`ve handled a lot of emergencies, a lot of disasters, as governor and in the federal government, but this, by far and away, nothing comes close to this, in terms of the need for intelligent, rigorous, muscled government to respond quickly and smartly.
It all comes down to whether your health care system can handle it. There`s no concept here. There`s no philosophy.
It`s -- can you handle the number of people walking in the door? That`s all this is. And if you can`t, people die. That`s what this is.
And the simplicity is what makes it so tragic, frankly. Because we don`t have a piece of equipment, someone is going to die? Because we -- we don`t have staff, someone is going to die?
How did we get to this place, in this country? That we have to buy all of our supplies from China? I can`t get protective equipment because China is making it? China is making the ventilators?
We couldn`t figure out how to make protective equipment quickly enough? We couldn`t figure out how to make ventilators? We can`t figure out this rolling deployment, which makes all the sense in the world, and it`s frankly simpler for every locality?
I said -- we have 20,000 volunteers coming from across the country, I said I will return the favor. When we get past our apex, I`ll pack up every ventilator, I`ll bring our entire health team and I`ll go to any community across the country. I will drive personally, and provide them the assistance and thank them for what they did to New York.
That`s what we do. You know, there is something called mutual aid in emergency, in a flood, or in a power utility, where utility companies flex.
If you remember, you`ll see -- if you remember, you`ll see on the road, a large utility truck, whenever there is a national emergency. Arizona trucks driving to New York City, New York City trucks driving to Florida.
That`s how we react to those emergencies. We, mutual aid, you flex with the need. That, we could be doing here. And the consequences are going to be devastating.
And what keeps me up at night is not just the numbers, but a deep sense that it didn`t have to be. It didn`t have to be.
CUOMO: Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York -- I know you have to go, sir. I will just say one last thing before I go, which is please give your brother my love and the love of all of us here at THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW. We are not as much rivals as we think of ourselves as colleagues and we`re really all hoping the best for him.
CUOMO: He has tremendous respect for you, as do I.
MADDOW: Thank you, Governor. Good luck -- good luck to you.
CUOMO: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. We`ve got much more to get to here tonight. We`re going to be joined by the mayor of Los Angeles, he has just yesterday recommended that people wear face coverings, people wear masks, nonsurgical marches, when they`re out in public, for any reason. And it looks like there may be a federal recommendation along those lines, too. The mayor of Los Angeles joins us shortly.
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: The surgeon general was on with us just yesterday, and said, my advice is that the 30-day guidelines to stay home from the federal government amount to a national stay-at-home order. Is that how you see it, too? Do you agree?
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE MEMBER: Well, yes, I mean if you look at what`s in those 30-day recommendations of the guidelines, that`s essentially what it is. I mean I know it`s difficult, but we`re having a lot of suffering, a lot of death. This is inconvenient, from an economic, personal standpoint, but we just have to do it. That is our major weapon against this virus right now.
We don`t have a vaccine that`s deployable. This is the only thing we have. And we can get through it. Everybody really leans forward, and pushes on this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The government`s top infectious disease expert Tony Fauci today saying, well, yes, well, yes, essentially, he says, there is a national stay-at-home order, now. Well, yes, I mean, that`s essentially what it is. This follows the U.S. surgeon general, also on the "Today" show, yesterday, saying that as far as he`s concerned, yeah, there`s a national stay-at-home order in effect. Sure. As far as he`s concerned, yes, such an order exists.
And that`s great, in terms of the congruence between the surgeon general and Dr. Tony Fauci but, I mean, so far, so far, so far, the extent to -- that there is a national policy, toward there being a national stay-at-home order, to the extent there is any national policy toward that end, it is mostly just being articulated by individual government experts, like those two, while they do interviews on the "Today" show. But it doesn`t exist anywhere else in the federal government, or in any more formal way that`s being presented to the American people.
The White House, at least the president, appears to think that no such national order is necessary. The White House is behaving at least, such a thing is not effect. Mike Pence saying, no, no, no, we`re still deferring to the states. At best, they`re not commenting. But the surgeon general is saying yes, there is a national stay-at-home order.
So choose your own adventure. You can decide whether there is a national stay-at-home order or not, depending on what morning show you watch. The federal response to this crisis remains astonishingly confused and impotent, day after day in an unrelenting way.
Just tonight, the president`s son-in-law at the podium of the U.S. briefing room said that the national stockpile of the emergency medical equipment, the stockpile that has now been depleted by the Trump administration after they sent out bits of it willy-nilly and randomly according to no obvious plan, Jared Kushner said tonight in the briefing room that the federal stockpile wasn`t for the states to use anyway. He said, it is, quote, our stockpile, it`s ours he said. OK, good to know.
A number of states where governors are taking their cues from the White House, there remains a morass of not doing anything while case numbers and deaths pile up, and where a lack of statewide social distancing measures mean the virus is spreading in the states unchecked.
In Arkansas today, where there is no statewide stay-at-home order, the governor defended not having that kind of an order, saying it would be too hard economically, so he didn`t want to do it. In the great state of Missouri, the Missouri governor put out a statement tonight that he was finally taking statewide action at long last to fight the coronavirus crisis. The action that the governor announced he is taking tonight is that he is suspending the late penalties for the renewal of your concealed carry permit, suspending the late penalties for you renewing your license to carry a concealed gun. That`s how he`s fighting coronavirus.
Still no statewide shelter in place order in Missouri though. Still no statewide stay-at-home order. Even though Missouri has more than 1,800 known cases and counting.
Today, the Missouri, the state pediatricians, the Association of State Pediatricians, in Missouri, they wrote a letter to the Missouri governor, begging him, for a statewide stay-at-home order in Missouri. He is apparently ignoring that request from the state`s pediatricians just like he ignored a similar request from the state`s nurses association, and he ignored a similar request from the state`s medical association.
In Florida, where there are more than 9,000 known cases already, Florida governor`s belated stay-at-home order from last night is already a mess. It turns out, after the governor signed his stay-at-home order, he then signed a second order right after the first one, and the second order said his new rule would supersede any rule put in place by any Florida county or city or town, that was stricter in any way, than the rule he had set in place statewide. He was overriding any more aggressive measures taken by localities in the state.
Really? Why would you do that in Florida?
You might have seen the story from a few days ago, about the coronavirus denialist megachurch pastor in Tampa Bay, who was bussing in hundreds of people to huge packed mass church services. He was actually stopped by the county from doing that, because of the county`s social distancing rule.
Well, the Florida governor`s new statewide rule has an exemption for religious services which says his order doesn`t apply to religious services and he has a similar second order saying the state rule supersedes anything in place at the local level. So what the Florida governor has just done may result in the Tampa Bay coronavirus denying mega-church guy, being back on for his kill them all super-spreader mega church services.
Or maybe not. Nobody quite knows. Governor DeSantis did a press conference today, about his stay-at-home order where he appeared to not understand himself whether his state rule actually does supersede local rules that are stricter or not. I mean, that is something that he just signed but he appeared to not understand that that was the meeting of what he just signed.
That`s your leadership in Florida on this. But again, heading toward 10,000 cases already.
And you know, federal leadership would help here. As Governor Cuomo just said, live on our air, this is nothing that any state can face alone. But in the case of these governors who are blowing it, and who have done these things that have led the -- left the virus spread unchecked in their states, these are the kinds of governor, Ron DeSantis in Florida, Asa Hutchinson in Arkansas, Mike Parson in Missouri, who would do something in their states if the Trump White House clearly told them to.
But the Trump White House can`t get it together to do that and so, be hold these confused and denialist and delayed and inexplicable policies that will continue to push U.S. case numbers and ultimately U.S. deaths through the roof, as states like those end up being reservoirs of infection and end up being engines of infection as they create mass numbers of people who are spreading the virus in an unchecked way in states that don`t have statewide policies to stop it.
I mean, and then you look at a state like New Jersey today. In New Jersey today, the state health commissioner said that there are four New Jersey hospitals that are already at maximum capacity. Everybody`s been focusing on New York for good reason, but New Jersey now has over 25,000 cases, and they`ve got four hospitals maxed out already, and the New Jersey death toll more than doubled in just the past two days.
If you`ve been kidding yourself that it is only New York that`s got this problem. Wake up.
In North Carolina, two North Carolina hospital, Atrium and Novant, had just announced they expect to have as many as 3,000 patients even beyond what they consider to be their surge capacity as hospitals. Three thousand patients above what they think their surge capacity is, and they expect to be there in the next four to six weeks. Those hospitals are now asking for one campus of the University of North Carolina, UNC-Charlotte, they are asking for that campus to be turned into a field hospital for North Carolina COVID patients who can`t get into the hospitals.
And then there`s California today where the governor there announced some good news today. California is the state that put in place the first broad order and then the first statewide order to stay at home. And in California, broadly speaking, it has worked -- not because they did anything more draconian than anyone else, not because they did anything perfectly, testing in California in particular has been a disaster, but they did put in place stay-at-home orders first.
They did it fast. And that is why it has had such a dramatically beneficial effect on California`s outbreak. Because it turns out, for these shelter in place, these stay-at-home orders, these social distancing measures, it turns out timing really is everything.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): It`s the individual acts of tens of millions of Californians that allow me to say the following: the numbers in the state of California are growing, the number of positives certainly are growing, and tragically, yes, the number of deaths, 203, have grown. But the ICU numbers and the hospitalization numbers, while they`re growing, are not growing as significantly as you`re seeing in other parts of the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: California has been first in policy. At least when it comes to social distancing. And now, because of that, California is first in hope, right? That a state with thousands of cases, nevertheless may have slowed the spread enough, that they may not overtop their hospital capacity in California.
Yesterday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti was the first big city mayor to say that residents of his city should start covering their faces when they are out in public. Well, that was Los Angeles yesterday. It looks like it may be national policy sooner rather than later, provided the White House gets its act together to actually announce it, which is totally debatable.
But on a lot of levels here in some of the most important ways California does seem to know what they`re doing and that is reason to give the rest of us hope and it gives us all something to learn from. The mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, will join us next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR ERIC GARCETTI (D-CA): As we learn more about COVID-19, we are constantly updating guidance and orders so we don`t just flatten the curve, we try to get ahead of it. Last night, I announced that we`re recommending, the city of L.A., that we recommend Angelinos use homemade face coverings when they`re in public and when you`re interacting with others.
Data shows many folks who are infected asymptomatic and can become super spreaders infecting people they come in contact with. And together with physical distancing and staying at home, adding a protective face covering is another tool to slow the spread.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti in a press conference just a little over an hour ago tonight. He first announced that guidance about wearing masks yesterday. That same guidance has been adopted by New York City as of tonight. It`s expected that it may be a federal expectation for the whole country as soon as tomorrow.
Joining us live from Los Angeles is that city`s mayor, Eric Garcetti.
Mr. Mayor, it`s real pleasure to have you with us tonight. Thank you for taking time.
GARCETTI: Good to be with you, Rachel. Thank you.
MADDOW: So this is a ground breaking recommendation when you made it just yesterday, but it is certainly catching on, tell us how you arrived at the idea that this was the right thing to recommend to all of the millions of people who live in your city.
GARCETTI: Well, I think as a general principle, I`ve been telling people, when it feels wrong, it`s probably the right thing to do things. By the time it feels right, it is probably too late.
And when it comes to saving human lines, I`ve just been guided by the I can`t wait, I won`t wait, we won`t wait attitude. That`s why we adopted stay at home very early, first big city really in America to implement it comprehensively and with this, we could see.
You know, in places like Taiwan, the Czech Republic, Korea, that face coverings have a dual purpose, they remind people to stay away from each other, to stay healthy and masks like these, these don`t, we call them facial coverings to distinguish them from the medical masks, they don`t necessarily keep you protected, but they protect others from you. And if folks are asymptomatic, and could be spreaders, even a small percentage, that`s worth another weapon to make sure we flatten this curve.
So we recommended that. Our county public health recommended that as well. And I`m glad to see New York, other places, I hope, the national standards we have needed through this, I hope this is one place where it finally comes through.
MADDOW: You said when you first made this announcement last night, you said I know this looks surreal, and you put on a facial covering, and you said, but we`re going to have to get used to seeing each other like this.
I mean, one of the things that`s interesting about Asian countries particularly those who had confronted SARS, and other respiratory ailments that had a big public health response is that in some other countries around the world, wearing a mask is not that weird of a thing. And it is not seen as something that gives you stigma, where people will be afraid or lash out at you.
MADDOW: In the U.S., there is going to be a cultural resistance to this at least at first. I wonder how you plan to approach that in your big diverse city and how you think we will cope with that as a country.
GARCETTI: We actually had a lot of people who were wearing protective facial coverings, we have a very diverse city, and those countries aren`t different cultures, they are just places that have been through these medical health emergency, epidemics, before we have ever experienced it here in the United States.
I think it won`t be weird in a matter of days, and certainly, we`ve been seeing for the last two week, people when they head out, wearing these, when they go to the grocery store, to the pharmacy and we`re working with local manufacturers because, of course, L.A. makes so many clothes for the nation, and for the world, that we wanted to take their sewers who are out of work, their sewing machines that are idle, and properly space, do something to help. And so they are doing everything from helping us manufacture true medical guards that can protect people in hospitals to these, you know, cloth face coverings that can have a huge impact on keeping the spray away.
And that`s really what this is about. Making sure my spray doesn`t go into your space, because we know that`s how droplets spread. And this can be doing something to help us get that curve knocked down everywhere.
MADDOW: Mr. Mayor, you mentioned that you in L.A. had the biggest, the earliest big city stay-at-home order and the most comprehensive one. I saw that you`re now taking a pretty dramatic step to try to enforce that in terms of nonessential businesses. You`ve threatened to turn off the water and the power to nonessential businesses that are staying open, despite the city order.
I wonder about -- I wonder how you came to that decision, that you have to do something that extreme? And how big of a problem it has been for nonessential businesses to be flouting that rule?
GARCETTI: Well, first of all, I want to say that we don`t come in with a heavy hand. We first let people know what the rules are, and we even earn an A, the first few days after the stay-at-home order came in, we had the greatest reduction of movement in the country. So I want to thank Angelinos and thank Californians that have done this.
But for those few that flout the rules, we first visit them. And we actually had a couple of stores, you know, we had a smoke shop that literally said, forget you, but I don`t think they said it as politely to police officers, and we referred them to prosecution. But there are no courts going on right now, we got to do these things right now, because these folks could be potential killers.
That`s how I keep framing this to people. The actions we take could literally kill you, so do this for your own life, and if you won`t do it for your own life, do it for the rest of us, and if you won`t, we will shut you down.
So, it`s not leading with toughness but it`s having the resoluteness to be able to do that when we find those few people who just, for lack of a better word, are A-holes.
MADDOW: Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, not mincing words. You never do. Sir, thanks for making time to help us understand these changes you made recent -- in recent days. I really appreciate having you here, sir.
GARCETTI: Thank you, Rachel. Great to be with you.
MADDOW: All right. More news ahead. Stay with us.
MADDOW: In New York City today, nurses and doctors stepped outside their workplaces to protest their shortage of personal protective equipment, PPE, right? Face shields, gowns, the all important N95 masks that offer them protection from coronavirus so they can keep being health workers keeping us all alive.
You could see the signs there.
You know, we`re at war. We need our armor to win. PPE, please protect everyone. Save our lives so we can save yours.
These were nurses and doctors in the Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx this morning. There was a similar protest you might remember at another Bronx hospital, Jacobi, earlier this week, because frontline health care workers, these heroes, really do need more personal protective equipment than they`ve got. In particular they need those masks.
Many doctors and nurses right now particularly in the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in New York say they are reusing their N95s even though those masks are made to be disposed of after each encounter with each patient. Some health workers are using one mask per shift. Some are using one mask per week. Some say they`re keeping their N95 in a paper bag with their name written on it and they just use it over and over again until it falls apart.
And if these frontline hospitals that are being overwhelmed with coronavirus patients are not going to get some huge new supply of N95 masks to protect doctors and nurses and health workers, if there aren`t going to be enough new masks for those workers at least anytime soon, well, OK, plan B. An Ohio company has now begun deploying giant mask sterilization machines to a handful of places around the country.
"The Boston Globe" reports on this that a machine is scheduled to arrive in Massachusetts on Saturday, day after tomorrow, that could be a game-changer for the state. This machine uses hydrogen peroxide vapor to sterilize up to 80,000 used masks per day. Ideally, this machine makes it so you can sterilize and reuse an individual mask up to 20 times.
The president of the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association says if they really can run 80,000 masks a day through this thing and get those kind of reuse rates, that ought to be enough to serve all hospitals in Massachusetts and possibly all hospitals in New England.
The way it works is the masks get loaded into these airtight shipping containers that have these machines in them. They get decontaminated for a few hours with vaporized hydrogen peroxide and ideally they can be worn again.
Two of these machines are already installed outside New York City at Stony Brook University on Long Island, where coronavirus cases have been rising steeply in Long Island. There are also machines headed to Seattle and, again, in Massachusetts, they think they`re getting theirs on Saturday.
To be clear, these N95 masks are not meant to be reused. Reusing these masks once, twice, let alone 20 times is by definition plan B, right? It is a last-ditch crisis, stopgap measure while states and hospitals try to source new masks wherever they can. But at the very least, maybe we have figured out how to scale up our last-ditch crisis stopgap measures. Maybe this will work.
Watch this space.
MADDOW: That`s going to do it for us tonight. Thanks for being with us. We are going to see you again tomorrow night.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".
Good evening, Lawrence.
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