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COVID-19 TRANSCRIPT: 4/6/20, The Rachel Maddow Show

Guests: Nancy Pelosi, David Lat, Zachary Shemtob

  CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Yes, we need to plan for that.

David Wallace Wells, thank you so much.


HAYES: That is "ALL IN" for this evening.

"THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now.

Good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you, my friend. Much appreciated.

And thanks to you at home for joining this hour.

In the United Kingdom, there is a head of government, that`s whoever is prime minister at the time. And then there is a head of state, separate person, it`s a person who does not have any political role in governing the country, but that person has an important symbolic role as the sovereign, right? In the U.K., it is the monarch, the person in whose name the government is formed.

So, in Great Britain, head of government is prime minister, head of state is the queen. And in Great Britain, Queen Elizabeth is often seen at ceremonial things, but she is rarely heard from directly. She gives a Christmas address each year, which is, you know, Christmas-y, but other than that, in her more than 50 years on the throne, Queen Elizabeth has only ever made an address to the British people on a small handful of occasions.

Well, the coronavirus disaster, which is just ravaging the U.K., is now the latest of those very rare occasions on which the queen chose to speak to the British people.


QUEEN ELIZABETH II OF ENGLAND: I`m speaking to what I know is an increasingly challenging time, a time of disruption in the life of our country, a disruption that has brought grief to some, financial difficulties to many, and enormous changes to the daily lives of us all. I want to thank everyone on the NHS frontline, as well as care workers, and those carrying out the central roles, who selflessly continue their day to day duties outside the home, in support of us all.

I also want to thank those of you who are staying at home, thereby helping to protect the vulnerable and sparing many families the pain already felt by those who have lost loved ones.

Together, we are tackling this disease, and I want to reassure you that if we remain united and resolute, then we will overcome it. I hope in the years to come, everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to this challenge. And those who come after us will say the Britons in this generation were as strong as any.


MADDOW: The rare address from Queen Elizabeth was yesterday, and then today, the British people learned about their prime minister, has been moved into intensive care in a London hospital. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been ill with coronavirus for more than a week now. He was hospitalized last night at Saint Thomas Hospital in Central London. The government said explicitly today that his move into intensive care was in part to facilitate his continued care in the event that he needs to be put on a ventilator.

Now, there`s no vice prime minister in Britain the way we have a vice president who would take over if a president was temporarily unable to continue his duties because of illness. But in Great Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has reportedly asked the British foreign minister, the equivalent of our secretary of state, to take over the prime ministerial duties at least in the short term, while Johnson continues to be hospitalized.

The U.K., as I mentioned, is having a very hard time with coronavirus. They have more than 5,000 deaths now. They`ve got more than 50,000 cases. They were among the slowest countries in Europe to adopt measures designed to slow the spread of the virus, things like closing schools and stay-at-home orders.

Prime Minister Johnson`s government got side-tracked with some strange theories about maybe letting the virus sort of run rampant on purpose, and then maybe there would be immunity, and then maybe that would work to the - - they got side-tracked into that sort of nonscientific fantasy prospect, in terms of how well they could do if they didn`t address it policy-wise. They ended up starting their measures intended to slow the spread of the virus quite late, and now their epidemic is still just taking off, as other European countries are finally starting to bring theirs down-to-earth.

In Italy, France, Germany, Spain, the rate of new infections is slowing dramatically now. Going back to the beginning of this month, so just the past six days or so, each of those four countries I just mentioned, they had a rate of increase in new cases that is below double digits. Italy has been below 5 percent growth and their case numbers, since the start of the month, Spain, Germany, France, all now at growth rates of 5 percent or less.

But the U.K., which was so slow to get started on its policies to keep people apart, the U.K. is still raging and they have been between 10 and 20 percent new growth in new cases every day since last week. And now, of course, prayers and well wishes worldwide for their prime minister, who is struggling.

Here in the United States, we are with them in more ways than one. It is not just that they are our closest overseas ally, our approach to the virus, in many ways mirrors theirs in terms of being slow and even more patchwork than theirs. We`re also paying the same kind of a price, although ours is worse.

Here`s "The Financial Times" trajectory as of today. These are death tolls. You can see there, some of the, the countries that are doing better, you can see, there Italy, right, Italy overall a huge number of deaths over the course of their epidemic, more than 16,000 Italian citizens killed already, but they are bringing that curve down now, as is Germany, which is the green line there, well below Italy, as is Spain, which is starting to bring their curve down. France just, just starting to flatten out their curve.

But as I mentioned, the U.K. is not making enough progress yet. Their curve still looks absolutely terrible and the only one that looks any worse anywhere in the world is ours.

Now, this data, again, this is the financial times, they have these data visualization whiz kids that put this stuff together every day and I think it is very helpful. Part of the reason it`s helpful and it tells a clear story that doesn`t need to be constantly revised or corrected is because they use a multi-day rolling average, this I believe is a seven-day rolling average, and that`s what the "F.T." has been posting and that`s helpful because then you don`t get distracted by individual one or two-day blips up or down, and you instead see a more stable trend line.

That said, if you`re looking for hope, and you are willing to get more microscopic about the data you are looking at, there is potentially a little reason to hope, in the very latest numbers that we just got in tonight, in New York City, and in the United States. But the very, very latest numbers show, that we just got in tonight, is the death rate, the number of people dying even day, appears at least to be dropping for the past couple of days, in New York City. Now, again, that`s just a couple of days. And we don`t know if that`s a blip. But that is data over the last couple of days.

Now that drop in New York City deaths appears to be driving a plateau in the death rate in the United States, since the vast majority of deaths in the United States have been driven by the New York epidemic so far. So you can see that plateauing there, right? In terms of the U.S. new deaths.

And that is good. That -- let`s hope that is not a blip. Let`s hope that is the start of some sustained good. Let`s hope that holds, because overall, the picture of the American epidemic remains almost unremittingly bleak. More than 10,000 Americans have died now, including 1,200 in the last day alone, although that number changes by the minute.

That said, states that acted early to take mitigating measures to keep people at home, to prevent Americans from spreading the virus among ourselves, those states are starting to reap rewards now, just as the European countries are, that acted quickly as well. So as we start to see in Europe, Italy, and Spain, and France, and Germany, bring their numbers down, we have at least an allegory for that in the United States. California and Washington state both announced that they would send hundreds of ventilators to the national stockpile, so reversing the flow of ventilators back to the national stockpile, so those ventilators could be deployed in places that more urgently need them, because the immediate demand in California and Washington has waned. Oregon went ahead and sent 140 ventilators directly to New York, after a direct request by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo for other states to please send supplies and things like ventilators to New York now in exchange for New York promising to send that equipment back along with other supplies and along with trained and experienced staff when those donor states now hit their peak in the future, or wherever the next peak arrives.

In terms of where things are needed next in the United States, I think there`s a few different horizons that we can watch as Americans and they all give us a slightly different piece of information. But they`re all urgent and they`re all interesting. In the immediate term, the shortest term, we, of course, are watching places like New York and New Jersey, we are overtopping the capacity of some of their hospitals right now. We`re also watching the long-term, where governors still even now, in some states are refusing to take state-wide action, which allows the unchecked growth of their state`s eventual case number, right?

If -- states that do not have stay-at-home orders, where people are not being broadly told to stay home, and so people broadly aren`t. That is allowing the virus to spread unchecked in those states. That will ultimately grow the number of people who have tested positive, the number of people who get sick, the number of people who need to get hospitalized, the number of people who need intensive care, the number of people who need ventilators, and the number of people who die. The more you let it spread, the more all of those numbers will rise.

And those case numbers and all of the attendant consequences will go up, the lower you have people going to work and having gatherings and doing communal stuff while this highly infectious virus circulates in every single state because we got it in every single state. Nevertheless, there are still governors that don`t have stay-at-home orders and they`re defending their decision not to and they`re defying all advice and they`re just letting their case numbers, what will eventually be their case numbers balloon, and balloon and balloon with each passing day. And so in the long term, we will reap the reward of that as well.

But in between that immediate horizon, and that longer-term horizon, where we can see the way we are screwing up still badly as a country, there is this medium term, where it is not as acute necessarily as what we`ve got in New York and New Jersey right now where hospitals are already overtopped but we can start to see the epidemic showing its face, in places all over the country.

One of the places we have been watching, one of the sort of sources of data that we have been watching, among my staff and on this show, to try to get signs of that, to try to see where there might be brewing epidemics, and individual American cities and locations that we should keep an eye on in terms of where things are coming next, we`ve been looking at the data from the V.A., veterans affairs medical facilities, which now daily report numbers of how many patients they`ve got, how many people they`ve got tested positive for coronavirus through those facilities.

And the caution here is that V.A. is not necessarily doing a great or very thorough job with testing. All signs indicate that they are not. But they are doing some testing. And importantly, it`s an interesting nationwide repository of data, because there really are V.A. medical facilities all over this country, in every place, where any significant number of Americans live.

And so if you look through the window of these V.A. statistics, again, daily reports from V.A., you can see -- it sort of gives you a lens into various American communities. And where there are up-surging numbers of coronavirus patients, being cared for at least at the local V.A.

Let me show you what I mean. Here`s today`s numbers from the V.A. and again, these come out every day. Just take a look on this long list, about who`s over two dozen cases already at their local V.A. facility. It`s Ann Arbor, Michigan, Atlanta, Georgia, Boston, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Chicago`s west side, North Chicago, too. Cincinnati, Cleveland. Columbia, South Carolina. And stick a pin in that, we`ll come back to it.

West Haven, Connecticut, Denver, Colorado, Los Angeles, Hampton, Virginia, Richmond, Virginia, the Hudson Valley in New York, Northport, New York, Upstate New York, Indianapolis, Long Beach, California, Miami, Milwaukee, East Orange, New Jersey, New Orleans, huge number in New Orleans. Orlando, Philly, Seattle, San Juan, Puerto Rico, Nashville, Kansas City, Missouri. Washington, D.C.

I mean, today, in all of those places, there`s more than two dozen cases among veterans who are being served by their local V.A. medical facility. And so today, you can see through these stats, these are your veterans struggling, these are your veterans testing positive, but those federally collated statistics that come out every day, also give you a window into what is happening in cities all over this country, because these are community-based facilities, and they`re testing of their veteran patients is shining light on what is going on in those communities.

And lo and behold, it`s not New York and New Jersey that are the only places that have this to worry about, right? I mentioned Columbia, South Carolina, there. There`s 44 cases reported as of today at their local V.A. facility, which tells you something about Columbia, South Carolina, and the type of epidemic they are dealing with there, whether or not they`ve got their arms around it yet.

Well, today, the governor of South Carolina, Republican Henry McMaster, finally today, put in place a stay-at-home order for his state. But he is not calling it a stay-at-home order. He is calling it a home or work order, because he`s not actually ordering people in South Carolina to stay at home. He`s ordering them to stay at home, quote, unless they`re working, they`re visiting family, or recreating outdoors. Those are the limit, he said today.

So you can stay inside, you should stay inside, stay at home, you can stay inside, stay at home, unless you are visiting with your family, unless you are doing outdoor recreation, unless you are doing other things that the governor says probably won`t spread this thing too much. But in case that sounds to onerous, don`t worry, even that doesn`t go into effect until tomorrow night. Because why rush?

South Carolina has more than 2,000 known cases now. They`ve got more than 40 cases just at their V.A. facility that isn`t doing a ton of testing. But anybody in South Carolina right now, who didn`t know they`ve got it but they are spreading it asymptomatically, your governor Mr. McMaster I`m sure really hopes you don`t spread it unabated while you continue, to you know, visit family and work, and do whatever you need to do, within his work and home order.

In Georgia, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp this weekend overruled all the cities and towns in Georgia that had decided locally to close their beaches to keep people from congregating at beaches and spreading the virus that way. He overruled those cities and towns and ordered Georgia beaches back open because that`s Georgia Governor Brian Kemp`s kind of approach to this.

Georgia already has more than 7,000 confirmed cases, more than 220 deaths. Reopen the beaches.

Tomorrow, in Wisconsin, apparently, we`re going to have an in person election, with polling places, staffed by poll workers, and people expected to turn up and congregate to vote. The Democratic governor of Wisconsin, Tony Evers, has sought to join the many, many, many other states this month that delayed their in-person primaries and elections to later this year to what we hope will be the other side of the curve, Republicans in the state legislature decided they want that election to go ahead anyway, regardless of the health risk. They filed a lawsuit to stop the governor`s executive order, and the conservative majority on the state Supreme Court sided with the Republican legislature and blocked the governor`s executive order, then the U.S. Supreme Court blocked a lower court`s effort to at least extend the deadline for people to submit mail-in ballots so they won`t extend the deadline to submit mail-in ballots even. What`s so wrong with that?

I mean, this is a developing story tonight. We will continue to watch it over the course of this hour. But Wisconsin Republicans, and to the president, when asked about this matter, have been pretty blunt about their belief that the lowest possible turnout, they think, benefits Republican candidates. And there`s a Republican state Supreme Court candidate who they really want to reelect on this ballot.

You know, if you`re hoping for low turnout, boy, howdy, this is a pretty bullet-proof way to ensure low turnout, to threaten the lives of people who turn out to vote, and to threaten the lives of poll workers who will have to turn out in order to facilitate that vote. That`s one way to get what you want.

In New York, the Javits Center and the U.S. naval hospital ship Comfort will both be taking coronavirus patients after the federal government initially said that those two facilities would only take non-coronavirus patients. Those changes have been made from both of those facilities now. The New York hospitalization burden continues to be fairly relentless. These are the daily hospitalization numbers that we have been tracking in the city. You can see over the last four days, we`re up to 15,000 now, in the city.

In addition to the built-out facilities in New York, that they`ve already stood up in parks and stadium, and the convention center in Manhattan, today, the latest makeshift hospital to be announced in New York City is the nave of the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, which will now host -- house 400 hospital beds, as overflow from Mount Sinai Hospital.

Today, doctors and nurses and other health workers at Harlem hospital protested the fact that they really are having to work without the protective equipment they need to prevent themselves from becoming infected. You see their signs at their protest outside Harlem hospital today, respect public hospital patients and our nurses, how many of us must die, PPE over product, protect the front line, who will care for you when we are dead? We will not be your body bags.

And then there is this one. Please don`t call me a hero. I`m being martyred against my will. Defense Production Act now.

The administration is warning that this week will be among the darkest times the country has gone through. And you are seeing national signs of support and gratitude to health care workers. The health care workers still don`t know what they need in the places that are hardest hit. The national response remains patchwork, and in parts of the country, just backwards. Just insane.

On the front line, the fact that the hospital staff isn`t getting what they need to do, isn`t getting what they need to do this right now, will ultimately be looked back as sort of I think central metric of how America`s great industrial and economic might proved absolutely impotent in the absence of leadership to apply it. But seeing these daily protests out of New York City hospitals, right, it`s not like we didn`t know that New York was going to be in crunch time right now. It`s not like we didn`t know that we needed a national upsurge in resources, specifically to help New York first, while New York dealt with 15,000 simultaneously hospitalized COVID patients and all of the ventilators in use, right? It is not like we didn`t know that was coming.

But even now, even today, New York City front line hospital workers are having to protest with homemade cardboard signs saying, I do not have the masks and gear that I need to do this work without risking death myself. And who will take care of you when we`re dead? Even now.

The administration is not getting it done. And all -- you know, when it comes to the federal government, we`ve just got a president, we`ve all got the same president, as a country we don`t even have a different person who is the head of state, to turn to, when our head of government fails.

But we do have Congress. And that`s something. And we`re going to be joined next by the speaker of the house, Nancy Pelosi. She`ll join us live.

Stay with us.


MADDOW: Joining us now for "The Interview" is the speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi.

Madam Speaker, thank you so much for joining us through the miracle of sort of local to local connection here, and these cameras that we have MacGyvered on both sides of the country.

Thank you for being here.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Telephone. Telephone cameras. My pleasure.

Any chance I get, I want to thank you for the beautiful presentation you make about the challenge that our country is undergoing. Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: Well, thank you for saying so. I mean, I`m just trying to keep up. I feel like, and as the top Democrat in the American government, as the person with the key role that you have, leading the House of Representatives, I feel like there`s great frustration over the patchwork and sometimes backwards and slow response that we`ve had as a country.

Do you have faith that there are things that Congress can do, that you and your colleagues can do, with the control that you have over those levers of power, to try to shore up our national response, and to try to alleviate some of the worst mistakes that have been made?

PELOSI: Well, I`m very proud of the work that we`ve done in a bipartisan way, actually, in the Congress. We`ve -- on March 4th, we passed our first bill, which was about testing, testing, testing, and the search for a cure, and a vaccine, and so many other things.

On the 14th, we passed another bill addressing the needs for masks and all of that.

The 28th of March, the president signed the CARES Act, which is over $2 trillion bill, to meet the needs of the American people. A bill I`m very proud to say that Democrats turned on its head from corporate America, trickle down, to workers up, a bubble up for the workers.

So there is in place, so much of what we have done, but we need more.

And again, we`re right now trying to implement the CARES Act in terms of the unemployment insurance, in terms of the help to small businesses, in terms of direct payment, issues that relate to state and local government, issues that relate to hospitals, and other health-serving institutions, to meet their needs. So, we`ve done a great deal, and we just have to get that out.

But as it goes out, we know already that the acceleration of the pace of this virus, and this assault, not on the lives but the livelihood of the American people, that we must do more, so we`re preparing for CARES 2 already.

MADDOW: And in terms of -- in terms of that preparation, in trying to match the scale of the congressional response to the size of the problem, it`s been reported that the former Fed Chair Janet Yellen briefed Democrats within the last few day, saying that the real unemployment rate right now is probably about 13 percent already, rather than the official 4.4 percent. We`ve also heard it reported that the next CARES Act, that the next relief bill, will be on the order of about maybe another trillion.

When you think about that economic threat, and that economic response, do those numbers seem like they match to you, that that`s the right size approach to that big a problem?

PELOSI: Well, we have to take it as it comes. And in other words, when I talk about numbers, people say, well, let`s see what we need, and that`s what we`re taking inventory of. But what the country needs is, really, we need to find a cure, we need to get rid of this virus.

What we need is a central command. For the president of the United States to say, somebody is in charge of just seeing what we need, what`s in the chain of -- the supply chain, what isn`t, getting it to the places, the hot spots where it`s needed, moving it on after that. We don`t have that.

What we need is really testing, testing, testing, to evaluate the scope of the problem so that we can truly have a measure of our success.

And what we need is again, just the respect that we should have for our workers, so that as they save lives, they`re not risking theirs, and that of their families. They need the PPE, the personal protective equipment, to protect themselves, not just the health care workers but first responders, and others, and as well as the ventilators to get to people.

What the American people want is to see those workers get what they need. What they want to see is them getting their own checks. Let`s get it in the mail, whether it`s unemployment or direct payment, et cetera, and what they don`t want to see are industries in our country receiving taxpayer dollars and ripping them off with buyouts and bonuses, and dividends, et cetera.

So, that`s why, in this bill, we put the conditions in there, so that didn`t happen, that we put the resources in there for small business, for unemployment, for direct payments, and now, we need more.

MADDOW: What you`re describing in terms of the supply chains and needing somebody in charge to make sure the right equipment and the right supplies get to where they`re needed, your colleague in the Senate, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, it`s been reported he spoke with the president, the brand new White House chief of staff -- there`s been a number of them but there`s a brand new one.

Senator Schumer spoke with him asking the president to essentially appoint a czar to oversee what you were just describing, the production and distribution and allocation and reallocation of these critical supplies, he reportedly gave him a list of names.

I wonder if you are also in support of that kind of approach, if you and Senator Schumer are working together on that, if you`ve had any word that the administration might sort of get their act together in that regard.

PELOSI: It is so self-evident. In our caucus, Sandy Hoyer, our distinguished leader, has been calling for this for a long time.

But we all know, you have to have somebody in charge, to manage it. It just doesn`t happen to be that it goes politically where somebody might want it to go. It goes where it is needed.

But you can`t go any place unless you have something. So there has to be an inventory of what the supply chain is.

And what we also need in our country is domestic development of the therapies so that we`re not dependent on foreign company -- countries.

And Congresswoman Anna Eshoo has a bill to that effect, a commission to establish what and why about this. And it`s -- we are so dependent, and so when other countries said, well, I have this and I have that, and I`m not shipping it out because I have my own problem, we`re at their mercy.

MADDOW: Madam Speaker, tonight, it looks like the great state of Wisconsin is going to go ahead with their statewide election tomorrow. After the state Supreme Court blocked the governor`s attempt there to postpone it until June, because of the obvious public health emergency. The U.S. Supreme Court also weighing in late, in a 5-4 ruling saying that Wisconsin voters shouldn`t even get any additional time to return their absentee ballots.

I just wanted to get your take on what we saw in Wisconsin today, and what you think about how we as a country should be holding elections during this crisis.

PELOSI: Well, people should not have to decide whether they can vote or be sick. That`s just not a good choice for anyone in a democracy. And you would think that the Supreme Court of the United States will not overturn a court decision which gave the voters extra time to do a vote by mail and by a few more days to get their vote by mail ballot in.

So, you have the Supreme Court of the United States undermining our democracy. It`s really shameful, 5-4. Surprise, surprise.

But we just have to, as I say, we don`t agonize, we organize. And we just have to get out the vote, to make sure that they do not, not only risk people`s lives to vote, but risk the outcome of the election, which is an important one, in Wisconsin now.

But the judge who decided, the lower court decision that was overturned tonight, he said, I can`t rule to change the election but I can determine that this is what you need to do. You need more time, to get in the vote. A very clear picture of understanding the health risks that we`re involved at this very unfortunate and unusual time.

Apparently, the Supreme Court does not have an appreciation of that. Sad to say. No surprise.

PELOSI: Madam Speaker, let me just ask you, on that -- on that line, along those same lines, what do you say to the American people tonight who may be concerned about the prospects for the November election, who may see the crisis that we`re in and the kinds of decisions that are being made, and the kind of political maneuvering that`s happening around this election, for example, tomorrow in Wisconsin, people who are worried that maybe we won`t have a presidential election, or that we won`t have one that has an actual meaningful test to the American public`s preferences as to who we want?

PELOSI: Well, I`d first say that I`m so proud of all of the presidential candidates, because they all understood that elections are about the future. What is your vision for the future, what do you know and have a passion about, having a strategy to get something around it and how do you connect to the kitchen needs of the American people? They all were wonderful in that respect.

As we go forward, I get back it to what I said before -- we don`t agonize, we organize. We must make sure that people get to the polls and vote. And there`s time for us, hopefully, this virus will be beyond us, and then if not, then we organize in the reality that we are in.

But I just have to say to them -- to know their power. They have the ability to make the difference for the future. The stakes could never be higher.

All you have to do is look at one press conference, and you see them every day, and the press insists on showing them every day, and you`ll understand that this country has to go in a better direction to meet the needs of all of the American people -- values-based, evidence-based, in our decisions and the rest.

So I would just say to them: they`re the boss. I just finished a town hall meeting with my bosses, the people of San Francisco, and I respect what they believe, and what they -- what they -- the standards they set for their elected officials. The people have to understand they are the boss of America. The choices -- the choice we have in that election is up to them to decide, but you don`t count if you don`t vote.

So let`s just, every single day, if we are in these atmospheres of shelter at home, and the rest, use every -- all the time we can to make sure that every day, we make progress, and getting more people to the polls.

And as I always say, it`s all about the children. So as we do this, just remember, it`s for the children.

MADDOW: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Madam Speaker, thank you for joining us tonight. I really appreciate you making time and making it technologically work. I really appreciate it, ma`am.

PELOSI: Sort of. Thank you so much, Rachel, again, for just being such an intellectual resource to us all and an inspiration. Thank you so much.

MADDOW: Oh, thank you. Thank you for saying so, Madam Speaker.


PELOSI: Happy (ph) Holy Week.

MADDOW: All right. We`ve got much more tonight. Stay with us.


MADDOW: N95 masks, this critical piece of protective equipment for health care workers that`s in such short supply right now, this kind of masks are not meant to be re-used.

Plan A, of course, would be to have a functioning federalized supply chain capable of getting the right number of these masks to the hospitals that need them and having it be a plentiful supply. We don`t have that.

Plan B has been reusing masks and that has not been going right because you`re not supposed to do that. We`ve got doctors and nurses, you know, storing their masks in paper bags between shifts. We`ve got them using them over and over again and trying different things to try to extend their lives.

This week, though, we`re going to get our first look at a plan C. How a new potential backup temporary solution might work. They are giant mask decontamination machines that can reportedly sterilize up to 80,000 masks a day, for re-use. We reported on this a few days ago and want to give you an update on it.

These machines are made by an Ohio nonprofit, Battelle. The company has one machine operating near their headquarters in Columbus serving Ohio hospitals. Battelle tells us that a machine they just installed in the Boston suburb of Somerville, Massachusetts, should be operational sometime this week. Another of their machines got up and running this weekend on the campus of Stony Brook University on Long Island outside New York City. That machine is reportedly in use now.

The company is also in discussions about deploying another machine to New York City soon. This video, which we just got today from the U.S. military, shows a dry run of the decontamination process of the machine. One of these machines that`s installed at Camp Murray outside Tacoma, Washington. The mask gets sprayed with hydrogen peroxide vapor for about two and a half hours inside these shield shipping containers. Each hospital gets its masks back within a day after they`re decontaminated. They can label each mask which returned to the same person. The company says they believe they can safely decontaminate these masks so that they can be used up to 20 times.

Battelle tells us this Washington state facility should be operational by the end of this week, serving local hospitals. Again, this was them demonstrating basically what the process will look like. The company couldn`t tell us how many masks have been sterilized so far at the Long Island site that came online this weekend. They do say it will take a while to get up to capacity, just because individual hospitals have to sign up to use this process. They have to put a system in place for getting their used masks -- used masks safely to the machine, where they can be decontaminated, and then returned to them.

But as these facilities are starting to come online, in different parts of the country, you will see more and more hospitals using them. This kind of MacGyvered stop-gap temporary solution to our shortage of equipment for health workers, it`s hard to believe this is the best we`ve got right now, but it is something at least. It is an advance. Something that might maybe possibly could ease the immediate crunch.

Watch this space.


MADDOW: The symptoms started on March 9th. Joint aches, extreme fatigue, fever, chills. The next day, the patient`s fever spiked up to 104, and then came the cough and the chest congestion -- all symptoms that we now recognize as the calling card of coronavirus.

By March 15th, less than a week after the symptoms first started, the patient`s breathing had become so labored that he had no choice but to go to the emergency room. They looked at him but sent him home. Twenty-four hours later, with the patient`s breathing deteriorating rapidly, he was back in the E.R. and this time they admitted him to the hospital.

Patient in the story is David Lat, who was the founder of the excellent and essential legal blog Before he got too sick to continue, David used Twitter to detail the increasingly harrowing curve balls this virus was throwing at him, like the day he was so weak he had trouble eating, just bringing the fork to his mouth left him winded, and when he found himself gripping on the counter at the emergency room admissions desk because he was too weak to stand without doing so.

Within five days of being admitted to the hospital, David Lat took a dramatic turn for the worse. He was moved into the intensive care unit. He was intubated and he was put on a ventilator, which is terrifying, not just because of everything you heard about the chronic lack of ventilators nationwide, it`s also scary to show that the data that has shown that patients who have gone on ventilators have considerable reason to worry if they will ever come off that ventilator.

But David Lat did after nearly a week. On April 1st, he tweeted, quote, not an April Fool`s joke. After 17 days in the hospital, including six days on a ventilator, I am being discharged. He has since said about his ordeal, I don`t think I`ve fully wrapped my head and heart around the enormity of what I`ve just been through. I`m so grateful to be alive.

And we are grateful to have him here tonight.

Joining us now is David Lat, the founder of, and his husband Zach Shemtob.

David, Zach, thank you both for being here. I know is probably the last thing in the world you want to be doing but thank you.

DAVID LAT, FOUNDER OF ABOVETHELAW.COM: We`re thrilled to be here, Rachel.

ZACHARY BARON SHEMTOB, HUSBAND WAS PUT ON A VENTILATOR FOR COVID-19: We`re thrilled that we`re able to be here.

MADDOW: Yes. Well we`re all thrilled you`re able to be here.

David, let me just ask how you`re feeling. I can hear you`re still horse. I know you said you feel like you have a long way to go for your recovery, but how are you?

LAT: Yes, I am quite hoarse, Rachel. I still feel a little weak or winded. If I walk across a room, I find myself panting. I have a plastic stool in the shower because you can`t stand the whole time. But it`s a lot better -- you know, they took great care of me at NYU Langone, but it`s much better to be home than to be in the hospital. So glad to be here.

MADDOW: Zach, let me just ask you about some of the time that you have spent here without David. I know that particularly the time he was in the ICU, that he was intubated and on the ventilator, you were effectively alone. He`s anesthetized, he`s on the ventilator, he`s not able to communicate with you in any way. I just imagine that must have been harrowing.

SHEMTOB: Yes, absolutely. It was horrible. It was at times very difficult to communicate with the hospital because they were so overwhelmed, and, of course, you couldn`t go to see David because of coronavirus.

So everything was isolated and I also was recovering from the virus at the time, so it was quite the confluence of terrible events.

MADDOW: Wow. David, one of the things that you said since you came home is that you are looking forward to being able to donate plasma in the hope that that could be used as part of research to try to develop a vaccine, a cure, treatment.

How -- how do you feel your treatment was? Obviously, there is no treatment for this disease that is FDA-approved. There is a number of different experimental treatments being tried. There`s no vaccine yet. Essentially care right now is supportive.

How do you feel like your treatment was and sort of what are you hoping for there in terms of people are going to be through what you just went through.

LAT: Yes. So, near the end of my stay at the hospital, I actually did donate some of my plasma to researchers at NYU Langone who conducting a couple different studies. I felt like I gave a gallon of blood at different vials for different things that they want to study. But studies are underway.

And I think they are really important, Rachel, because there are so many different treatments in the market and you don`t know what works. I received a couple different things. I received hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, which is, of course, much talked about. The president has talked about a lot, but the evidence is not clear it`s fully there.

I received a drug called clazakizumab which is designed to deal with strong immune reactions that can lead to lung failure, which is what happened in my case, the strong reactions to the virus, and I also received an antiviral called Kaletra.

So, I received these three different things, I don`t know if any of them worked. I don`t know if all of them worked. I don`t know if they were counterproductive. We don`t know.

So, I think we really need to do more research.

MADDOW: Absolutely.

And, you know, the way that those clinical trials are structured, the different regulatory bodies they`re going to have to go to, the different countries they`re going to be conducted in, this is going to take such incredible leadership from a medical research point of view in order to get this done, and yet, there is this incredibly human story at the heart of this. I guess I`ll ask you guys, too. I mean, you have a 2-year-old son. And that part of this ordeal was thinking about his ongoing care, also, your parents -- staying with your parents, worrying about you both having been exposed and with coronavirus worrying about potential exposure of your families.

How have you navigated some of those currents?

SHAMTOB: So after we both -- David especially started showing signs of the virus, we didn`t think at the time that it was necessarily coronavirus, we actually had our son go with David`s parents to protect him and to protect his nanny. And, of course, we were nervous after he found it was coronavirus that they were exposed.

Fortunately, they seem to have been okay and whether our son, 2-year-old, had it or not, you know, since he was so exposed, he may well have been, but fortunately, he`s been fine. But figuring out what to do to protect everyone was very tricky and very scary.

MADDOW: Yes. And, David, I know that your recovery is going to be significant. The ventilator itself for six days is an ordeal for the body in terms of what you`re going to have to recover for, but we`re still happy to lay eyes on you and to see you both on the other side of this.

Thank you both for helping us understand what you`ve been through and welcome home.

LAT: Thank you, Rachel, for your great coverage.

SHEMTOB: Thank you.

MADDOW: Thanks for saying so. David Lat, again, founder of and his husband is Zach Shemtob.

All right. We got a lot more to get to tonight. Stay with us.


MADDOW: One last story before we go tonight. One exquisitely botched portion of the federal government`s response to coronavirus has been the U.S. Navy firing the commanding officer of the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt after he called for help for his crew when large numbers of his sailors started to test positive for coronavirus.

The Trump administration fired him and then they sent the Trump-appointed Navy secretary out to the Theodore Roosevelt to give remarks to the crew in which he insulted the outgoing commanding officer. As of the last few minutes, the Navy Secretary Thomas Modly has apologized for having insulted the commanding officer in the way he did. I apologize for any confusion my choice of words may have caused.

Confusion was not the problem.

That`s going to do it for us tonight.

Now, it`s time for a special hour here on MSNBC, "Life in the Time of Coronavirus", hosted by Lawrence O`Donnell and Dr. Zeke Emanuel. That starts right now.

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