Gov. Newsom TRANSCRIPT: 4/7/20, The Rachel Maddow Show

Guests: Gavin Newsom, Phil Murphy

DR. RAJIV SHAH, FORMER ADMINISTRATOR, U.S. AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT: In that period of time, every month that we shut our economy down and lockdown social distancing, we lose $300 billion to $400 billion of GDP. What that means is half of all American families are not able to make ends meet and lose their basic income if they get sick.

We can`t do that to America.

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: No, we cannot do that. We`ve got to find a way out.

Dr. Rajiv Shah, thanks for making time tonight and for working on this really important.

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 for, my friend. Much appreciated.

And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Happy to have you here.

We`ve got some incredible guests on our show tonight. I`m looking forward to all three of the people we`re going to be hosting. It`s going to be a big evening. Glad to have you here.

Patricia McKnight is an undergrad at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee. She`s a double major. She`s also working as an intern at the "Journal Sentinel", which is the biggest newspaper in Milwaukee.

And today, that intern at that paper, Patricia McKnight, took this picture which is pretty much the photo of the day in American news. It shows a line outside Washington high school in Milwaukee today. It`s a line to vote.

In the foreground, you see a Milwaukee resident named Jennifer Taft (ph) holding this sign, this is ridiculous. Ms. Taft told the paper by way of explanation for her sign, quote, I`m disgusted. I requested an absentee ballot almost three weeks ago and never got it. I have a father dying from lung disease, and I have to risk my life and his just to exercise my right to vote.

At the time this intrepid intern, Patricia McKnight, took this photo for the "Journal Sentinel", Jennifer Taft told the paper she had already been in line for almost two hours.

Over the course of the day today, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin`s largest city, the wait time to vote ranged from about an hour and a half to about two and a half hours, on average. "The New York Times" sent reporters to cover this remarkable -- or should I say ridiculous vote today as well.

One "New York Times" reporter saying that across town from the Washington high school in Milwaukee, at Alexander Hamilton High School in Milwaukee, that high school`s parking lot was completely filled with cars before daybreak today. And by 8:00 a.m. at Alexander Hamilton High School, the line to vote was more than 300 people long.

The voting lines were stunning all over Wisconsin today, not just because it shouldn`t be this hard to vote in normal times, but because the Republican-led legislature in Wisconsin aided by a conservatives only state Supreme Court majority and conservatives only U.S. Supreme Court majority all insisted that this was what people had to be put through in Wisconsin today if they had the temerity to still show up to vote.

The surgeon general of the United States went on the "Today" show on NBC this morning and begged that people in Wisconsin who were turning out to vote today should please keep six feet apart, please keep their faces covered with some kind of cloth covering or mask. And you can see from the images of people valiantly lining up to vote in Wisconsin today that a lot of people did that.

But you can also see just these harrowing images of people, sick people, people needing physical assistance to stay in line and to get into their polling places, people literally in mortal danger from turning out in these circumstances and turning out nonetheless.

Wisconsin Republicans insisted that this election couldn`t be moved like all the other elections were moved this month in every other state in the country. They insisted it couldn`t be all mail-in ballots for this election. They insisted that this election couldn`t even have deadlines extended to mail in ballots. Wisconsin Republicans and the conservative majorities on those two courts insisted that people would have to do it this way if they wanted to vote.

You don`t really want to vote? You know what we`re going to put you through if you want to?

But Wisconsin voters turned out, literally took their lives in their hands for no reason other than the Republican Party believes that a lower turnout election means better chances for Republican candidates and what a better way to achieve low turnout election than forcing a vote in the middle of a pandemic, forcing voters to defy the stay-at-home order that, thus far, has kept Wisconsin`s coronavirus case load between 2,000 and 2,500 cases-ish. After today though, who knows?

Here`s the Republican speaker of the Wisconsin state legislature, Robin Vos, in what will become the other defining image of today`s news.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SPEAKER ROBERT VOS, WISCONSIN STATE ASSEMBLY: You are incredibly safe to go out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: You are incredibly safe to go out, he says. He is Republican leader in Wisconsin who did more than anybody else to force this in-person election today in Wisconsin, to force people to show up in person.

Let`s just play this one more time. You can see here, he is in a full PPE gown and gloves and a medical mask. That`s how he`s going out today.

But he`s assuring everyone in his state that there`s no problem. It is perfectly safe for you to go out. Just look at him. Look how safe he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VOS: You are incredibly safe to go out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: You are incredibly safe to go out. Don`t you feel safer just look at me? What? You don`t have this? You don`t have this kind of equipment?

Wisconsin`s not even going to count the ballots until next week. But presumably, the Republicans got what they wanted today from holding this election in what was deliberately the most dangerous way to do it. So, they got -- they got what they wanted today in Wisconsin.

As of today, there are roughly 1.4 million known cases of coronavirus in the world, and of those 1.4 million cases, almost 0.4 million of them are in the United States.

We are now at 394,000 plus cases with more than 12,000 Americans dead. Over 1,900 Americans have died from coronavirus just in the past 24 hours, which means that one American is dying from coronavirus roughly every 45 seconds.

We`re starting to get very, very stark news about who exactly is dying from this in our country. Not every state or locality is reporting numbers broken down by race but where those numbers exist, they are horrifying.

In Chicago, the population is about 30 percent black. African-American so far make up 68 percent of the coronavirus deaths.

In Milwaukee where we saw the good folks lined up to vote today, population of Milwaukee is about 28 percent black, but African-American so far make up about 73 percent of the city`s deaths.

In the state of Louisiana, African-Americans make up about 70 percent of the state deaths. They are about 32 percent of that state`s population. In the state of Michigan, population is about 14 percent black, but African- Americans are now 40 percent of the state`s deaths.

And again, death numbers and case numbers are not being reported everywhere in the country in a way that is broken down by race. But everywhere those numbers are being reported broken down by race, the racial disparities are hair-on-fire bad.

Asked at the White House today about these racial disparities, the president said, and I quote: I don`t like it. We are going to have statistics over the next two to three days. OK.

That`s all he had to say about it. It`s good to know he doesn`t like it.

Nobody knows what he`s talking about though when it comes to these statistics he`s going to have. I will tell you to watch this space in terms of figuring out what the president meant about that, but honestly don`t. I mean, don`t watch the space for an explanation at least. Don`t expect anything anymore.

The two worst affected states in our country remain New York and New Jersey. In New York, we have been trying to watch the daily numbers to get a sense of the overall trends in America`s worst outbreak.

And this is the rate of growth of new cases in New York. And as you see, since about March 26th, it appears to be slowing. That`s, again, the rate of growth of new cases. Here`s a chart showing similar -- similar patternish for the rate of growth of hospitalizations. It also vaguely appears to be slowing at least a little bit, at least appears to be flattening out.

The death rate in New York is still sky high, but if new cases are slowing down and hospitalizations really are slowing down too, then we should hopefully see the death numbers come down someday soon as well. As of today, New York reported its highest death toll yet, over 700 dead.

As for New Jersey, the second worst hit state in the nation, so far, we`re going to speak -- second worst hit state in the nation so far, we are going to speak live with New Jersey`s governor, Phil Murphy, tonight. That will be the first time that we have spoken to him since the start of the coronavirus crisis. His state just got a bear of an epidemic on their hands. Today, they announced 232 New Jersey residents died from coronavirus just in the past 24 hours. That`s their highest death rate yet.

The governor also made a public display today of gratitude to the state of California. California just sent New Jersey 100 of their ventilators.

This is what Governor Murphy said in response, quote: California spending 100 life-saving ventilators to New Jersey, we are beyond grateful to Governor Gavin Newsom and the people of California. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you. We will repay the favor when California needs it.

And here, look at this, we just got in this video tonight. I don`t think you will have seen this anywhere else. This is where there`s an overlap in the Venn diagram between the most boring tape you can possibly imagine and tape that might also make you cry.

What this is is California packing up and shipping working ventilators to New Jersey, 100 to New Jersey, also 100 to New York, also 100 to Illinois. Those arrived tonight.

Tomorrow, California will be shipping 50 more ventilators to D.C. and 50 to Maryland and 50 to Nevada. This is mutual aid among the states.

California`s governor saying that, you know, listen, this is a loan, not a gift. If and when California needs these back for their own hospitalization peak, governor of California saying he knows these states will help California in their time of need just as California is helping now as these other states have such trouble.

California isn`t in its time of most acute need right now because California is where and how we have learned as a country that here, just like China, here just like everywhere, it matters if you take action to stop the epidemic. It particularly matters if you take early action and decisive action.

California had the first known case of community transmission of coronavirus in this country, somebody who hadn`t visited China, no known contact with anyone positive, but nevertheless turned up with the virus. That first person was in California, that northern California back in late February.

By mid-March, the governor of California had banned large gatherings. He had ordered the closure of places like bars and night clubs. By March 16th, the San Francisco Bay Area, a consortium of counties around San Francisco had put in place the country`s first stay-at-home order.

This was something of a national curiosity when the bay area counties first did that. But within three days, California Governor Gavin Newsom had ordered that stay-at-home order in effect statewide, first in the country.

And acting fast and decisively seems to have made all the difference in the world. California had its first coronavirus death -- again, they had the first coronavirus community transmission case in the country. They had their first coronavirus death ten days before New York had their first death.

But look at New York`s death toll versus the California death toll ever since. Look at the way that those things have gone up over time. New York now has more than ten times as many deaths as California. New York now has nearly ten times as many cases overall.

And even within California, within that gigantic state, the effectiveness of early decisive action by the government is paying dividends. You can see it even in different parts of the state. It was just a few day`s difference in terms of when the stay-at-home orders went into effect.

But Northern California, the San Francisco Bay Area, did act earlier than even the rest of the state. And they are doing better apparently because of it. On March 10th, San Francisco and Los Angeles had the same number of cases. But San Francisco acted first, acted the very next day to put in effect its stay-at-home order.

And since then, since that starting point where San Francisco and L.A. were at the same number, were both at 17 cases, since then San Francisco has seen its numbers rise tenfold but L.A. has seen its numbers rise nearly 50- fold. It looks like that`s because San Francisco acted faster.

The government acting quickly and decisively -- and may I emphasize quickly -- appears to be what has made California the closest thing that we`ve got to a success story in this country. And our country is not a success story. But if you`re looking internally for somebody who`s done it better than somebody else, if you`re looking internally for some place that`s done better than expected, look to California.

And they are not out of the woods. I mean, as the governor said today, they want those ventilators back when they need them, even if their peak is going to be later and not as high as it otherwise would have been without the interventions. The L.A. public health director is calling for a stricter regime for this week and next, telling people in the greater Los Angeles area, if you do not have to leave the house, this is the week, this week and maybe next week, this is the time to just not leave your house at all, not for anything.

And tonight, just as we were getting on the air, the mayor of Los Angeles issued a new order that says any L.A. resident visiting a business like pharmacy or grocery store now must wear a facial covering or a mask or that person can be denied service in any California business, any Los Angeles business.

So, California for all its success is still ramping up its measures against the spread of the virus. But they`ve gone first on everything. And in two weeks or two months or wherever your state hits its apex of patients, hits its apex of hospitalizations, whenever that happens in your state watching me at home right now, you will look back and you will wish that whoever your governor is in your state had done what Gavin Newsom did in California weeks ago now because they are in better -- they`re in a better place for it, they`re in a better place than any place else in the country.

Joining us now is Gavin Newsom, governor of the great state of California.

Governor, I know you have not been doing a lot of TV interviews. I really, really am grateful for you making time to be with us tonight.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D), CALIFORNIA: My honor. Thanks for having me, Rachel.

MADDOW: Let me just ask, the way I just described the situation in your state, that was a pretty quick -- a quick look at how things have gone. But let me ask if I`ve got anything wrong or if you think I`m looking at anything in a wrong-headed way?

NEWSOM: No, I think you`re right at this moment in time. But we`re sober about this moment in time.

And it`s incredibly important that I emphasize to the 40 million Californians, millions that are watching, to continue our stay-at-home orders, continue to practice physical distancing. Let`s not run the 90-yard dash. We still have an enormous amount of work ahead of us.

MADDOW: In Los Angeles, the county health director asked people to stay inside this week in particular. She said yesterday, if you have enough supplies in your home, this would be the week to skip shopping altogether.

Now, just tonight, the L.A. mayor, Eric Garcetti, is mandating face masks or people can be denied services at stores.

So, Los Angeles is still doing some things that are sort of more acute interventions than you have ordered statewide.

Do you see them as being on a different time line or track from the rest of the state? Do you agree with these things that L.A. is doing essentially on their own right now?

NEWSOM: Yes, localism is determinative. I mean, this is a nation state as you appropriately referenced, 58 counties, 480-plus cities, 40 million people, the world`s fifth largest economy.

And so, we really look for leadership at the local level. And Mayor Garcetti has been providing that. His health director is outstanding.

And you`re seeing that kind of leadership manifest all across the state where people are taking our baseline recommendations and guidance and they are conditioning based on local realities of them further. And I just think that we should continue to do just that over the course of the coming weeks.

But this is a curve, Rachel, that we have bent in a significant way. But we`ve also stretched the curve as well. And this is why this is a sober moment.

And while we may not have the peak, we may not have the slope that New York and other parts of the country have, the reality is we are likely not to experience a peak for many, many weeks.

What L.A. is doing I think is appropriate based upon the fact that the numbers there are a little bit different than other parts of the state. But as I say, we`re not out of the woods by any stretch of the imagination.

MADDOW: Does that mean that you might consider some of those L.A.-specific measures being extended statewide if things take a turn in a direction that you are worried about, the face coverings, mandate a more strict instruction around the stay-at-home rules? Is that -- do you essentially see those things as being on your menu of options if things in California don`t go the way you want -- want them to go?

NEWSOM: Yes, what`s happening is you`re getting a little cabin fever. People are getting a little exhausted by these stay-at-home orders. You see that on the weekends around the beaches and our state parks.

So, more enforcement is necessary. We`re starting to see more enforcement. You`re also seeing spots of the state, some of the rural parts of the state, not just the coastal parts of the state, where not everybody is practicing that physical distancing.

And so, absolutely yes. This is an iterative process. We work in real times. We recommend face coverings.

The mask issue is more challenging as we continue to try to draw down and source more masks for our front line health care workers and the like. But face coverings when you cannot practice physical distancing is important, but it`s not a substitute for the incredible potency and powerful power of an individual practicing physical distancing.

MADDOW: On the issue of masks, "San Francisco Chronicle" reporting today what looks like a spike in the number of California health workers who are confirmed to have the virus. It`s now 269 California health workers testing positive, which is double the amount six days ago. It`s nearly 60 more than yesterday.

NEWSOM: Yes.

MADDOW: How are you doing on supplies and protective equipment for health workers? Do you have a date on the calendar where you feel like you will have your hands around the problem in terms of supplying doctors and nurses and other health care workers of everything they need?

NEWSOM: Substantively so.

Look, we`ve been competing with other states, against other nations, against our own federal government for PPE, cover alls, masks, shields, substantively N95 masks. We`re not waiting around any longer and we`re no longer interested in the progress that we were seeing in the past.

In the last 48 hours, we have secured through a consortia of non-profits and a manufacturer here in the state of California upwards of 200 million masks on a monthly basis that we`re confident we can supply the needs of the state of California, potentially the needs of other Western states.

And so, we just inked a number of contracts in the last few days that give me confidence in being able to say that.

MADDOW: And those masks, you are making significant news here, Governor. Those masks will be manufactured in California?

NEWSOM: No, they`ll be manufactured overseas, but we were able to source them through California manufacturer and a consortium of non-profits. And those are -- vast majority of those masks are N95 masks at a price where we`re not competing against others, we`re not look at gouging, the fraud and abuse in this space competing against other states.

We decided enough`s enough. Let`s use the power of -- the purchasing power of the state of California as a nation state. We did just that. And in the next few weeks, we`re going to see supplies at that level into the state of California and potentially the opportunity to export some of those supplies to states in need.

MADDOW: And just to be perfectly clear on that, just to drill down on that because I think you are going to make national news with this. You mentioned the number, 200 million masks. This agreement that you`ve just signed, again, within the last 48 hours, tell me about the overall number of masks you think you are -- you have been able to source this way and how that matches up against what you think you will be using in California. The prospect of California not only being able to meet its own needs but potentially export masks could be a game changer for the Western United States.

NEWSOM: So, let me contextualize it very briefly. The state of California has distributed 41 million masks, 41.4 million N95 masks. We`ve received just over 1 million from the federal government.

It`s not an indictment. It`s not a cheap shot. At the end of the day, they don`t have the masks at the national stockpile.

And we were going out, getting 5 million here, 500,000 there, 200,000 there, competing against other states, competing against the federal government.

We decided, enough of the small ball. Let`s use our purchasing power, let`s go at scale. And we built a consortium of non-profits and a large manufacturer with appropriate contacts in Asia. And now, we have the confidence that 150-plus million N95 masks, 50 plus million surgical masks will come in on a monthly basis starting in the next few weeks.

MADDOW: Hmm, 150 N95, 50 -- 150 million N95, 50 million surgical masks.

Governor, let me just ask you one sort of big picture question here, which is -- I know that California still has challenges and I know that California still has a rising case number and still has a rising death rates and still has concerns in terms of health workers.

But California is also doing a lot of things right. In part, it was early and decisive policy making in terms of limiting the spread of this disease and it`s the kind of innovation that you`re just describing here in terms of getting the state`s needs met.

Every state has its own challenges and its own circumstances here. Do you feel like you and your governor -- you and your fellow governors are peers that are all working in the same direction here? Do you feel like you have role models --

NEWSOM: Yes.

MADDOW: -- to call on in terms of making these decisions?

I mean, California is its own thing. It always has been. But it does feel like the decision making processes that you and your leadership team are going through right now, you must feel pretty alone.

NEWSOM: I do and I don`t. I mean, you`re going to have one of those mentors up next in Governor Murphy who`s just been extraordinary. He`s a partner with the state of California.

J.B. Pritzker, a partner with the state of California. Jay Inslee out here in the Washington state, a partner. Governor Brown up in Oregon.

We`re building relationships, building capacity, increasing our collaboration around procurement. These ventilators that we`re able to send out come from those personal relationships, those professional relationships.

There`s a spirit of federalism and partnership and capacity-building that`s really taking shape across this country. And you`re bringing people to the forefront that I think are leading that effort and I`m very grateful to those governors for everything they`re doing and their guidance.

MADDSOW: California Governor Gavin Newsom -- again, I know you have not been doing a lot of TV interviews. You`ve been busy running the state`s response to this crisis. Thanks for making time for us tonight. Thanks for being here, sir. Good luck.

NEWSOM: Honor to be with you. Thank you.

MADDOW: All right. We`ve got as I mentioned a bunch of big interviews here tonight. Real honor to have Governor Newsom with us and again underscoring what I think is some considerable news that he just made. He says the state of California has entered into contracts within the last 48 hours that will supply 200 masks per month for PPE for California health care workers, so many that California may be able to distribute them to other Western states. That`s significant news.

We are always going to be talking tonight with the governor of New Jersey, with Phil Murphy, as Governor Newsom just mentioned.

And next tonight, we are going to be talking with the lieutenant general who was in charge of the Army Corps of Engineers. We had him on this show a little bit more than a week ago. We got more response to that interview from you, our viewers, including surprising ones, than anybody else we have had on this show in a very long time.

We`re going to check back in with General Semonite tonight. That`s live. That`s next.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: Every year, the TCF center in downtown Detroit hosts the North American auto show. It`s one of the largest car shows in the world that attracts more than 800,000 people. This year`s auto show, of course, is cancelled, but tomorrow, the TCF Center will be operating instead as a thousand-bed field hospital.

In the span of one week, the Army Corps of Engineers was able to transform that huge arena, rolling in hospital beds, installing nursing stations, even hanging copper piping in order to feed oxygen to hundreds of makeshift rooms. Only took them seven days total.

This is McCormick Place. McCormick Place is the largest convention center in all of North America. It was supposed to host a major indoor volleyball tournament this weekend. Instead, it is being transformed into a 3,000-bed field hospital for coronavirus patients. The Army Corps had the first portion of that facility up and running in just five days. They did that while simultaneously converting three closed hospitals in the state of Illinois to additional facilities for hundreds more coronavirus patients.

In New York, the Army Corps is in the process of transforming two Long Island colleges into thousand-bed field hospitals. They`re also putting up tent hospitals outside the Westchester County Center. That site will house 120-bed facility for overflow patients from area hospitals. And all of that is on top of the 2,000 plus-bed field hospital at the Javits Center, the big convention center in Manhattan, which as of now is accepting coronavirus patients even though that wasn`t the initial plan.

The Army Corps says they`ve already secured additional sites and they`re slated to begin construction in Tennessee, in Colorado, in New Mexico, in California, in Florida, at work all over the country operating at breakneck speed to assess sites and convert them into hospital use.

At the same time, they`re also giving states the blueprints they need, like literally the blueprints, so states can erect these kinds of facilities on their own using the expertise of the Army Corps. And what they have learned by standing these things up all over the country.

Joining us now once against is Lieutenant General Todd Semonite. He`s the chief of engineers and commanding general of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

General, it`s a real honor to have you back with us tonight. Thanks so much for making time.

LT. GEN. TODD SEMONITE, U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS: Hey, Rachel, you and I talked about 11 days ago and in those 11 days, I`ve flown around to several places in the United States. Boy, just think about the devastation that`s out there. You talk about heroics of the medical community.

I mean, I can`t say enough the thoughts and prayers of all of us and those devastated by this virus. We`re just so proud to be part of the world class team to try to make a little bit of a difference here.

MADDOW: Eleven days feels like about 11 years, and that`s just from me who has this cushy desk job. I can`t imagine how long it feels to you.

I have to ask over that time since we last spoke, what have you learned -- what have been the new challenges, new difficulties? Anything has risen as you and the Army Corps have been pursuing this mission all over the country?

SEMONITE: So, I think that`s the main thing, is that this virus gets to vote (ph), this virus has been changing. And you can`t just figure out what is the plan and build out the plan. So, when we went into this concept we didn`t think we would have a lot more capability to do things like hotels and dormitories, and we were a little nervous of the big convention center because we weren`t sure we could actually put COVID in there. What we have learned is that we`re able to build this out.

And you talk about Detroit and Chicago. Boy, what some phenomenal players up there. I met with Governor Whitmer. And we looked around and we looked at the center. Governor Pritzker was at the one down here.

But we`re able to go into that convention center. We`ve got to seal a lot of the gaps, those little tiny air gaps, and you`ve got to be able to modify the HVAC system to be able to get to that pressure differential. And then you talked about the copper pipes. We didn`t do this in Javits initially but we came in and put oxygen. So, instead of having to have little oxygen tanks where everybody`s bed, we actually brought in central piping with oxygen to be able to modify that center.

So, every single time we build one, we have a standard design. You and I talked about that. And then we continue to modify the standard design and then site adapt it, power it down, and to be able to have decentralized execution at the point of need.

So, it`s been a very, very evolving concept, but as a result, we`re getting better and better capabilities.

MADDOW: That`s fascinating. I was thinking exactly about the conversation you and I had 11 days about the Javits Center and you explained it was explicitly for non-COVID patients. You said that it was -- you said it was very hard to take an arena capability like the Javits Center and make it COVID compliant. But now not only have you done it in lots of other arenas, you have been able to change course at the direction and request of the government to make that Javits Center Place COVID compliant as well.

It sounds like you`ve exceeded your own expectations there.

SEMONITE: Well, and it really goes back to this ability of being responsive of the need of the mayor and the governor. Again, we work for FEMA. We`re part of the federal team. But it goes back to the -- and you had a great discussion with Governor Newsom about this. Where does the governor want to go with their plan and then how do we continue to adapt?

Obviously, in New York because of the different changes in some of the medical populations, we were asked to be able to adapt. But the team rallied and as a result, we`ve got a very, very capable facility tonight that`s taking care of people.

MADDOW: How do the projections of when and where different places are going to hit their apex patient load, how do those things factor in to your decision making? Obviously, every state in the country basically is coming to you asking you to prioritize their locations, asking you to build their -- do those projections about who`s going to be in the worst circumstances when factor into your decision making process in terms of where you go first?

SEMONITE: So, they definitely do. And I think tonight, we`ve done about 828 different assessments. So, that`s a lot of different buildings to look at. But we`re really down into building out probably 40 or 50 of those because a lot of those, the states have decided they might not need them or something.

But what we`ve done with our modeling and it`s hand in hand with Vice President Pence`s task force is every single city has a curve. Governor Newsom talked about it. Some are plateau, some pipe, some a couple weeks down the road. So, when we look at a facility, we`re going very detailed analysis with a lot of the same fundamental modeling parameters and then we build out that particular city.

And I`ve said this before. We can`t tell our guys you get three or four weeks because that`s when somebody wants it done. We say, here`s when the mayor needs to have it. Here`s when the governor needs to have it. We need a plan here where it`s going to be a 21-day build and go to the contractors and say this is going to be 24/7. This is where you need to turn on and give every single thing you have because we do not want to be late to need.

And we`re pushing hard on the facilities we`ve got, but right now, we continue to think we just can barely stay ahead of the curve in all of those key cities.

MADDOW: General, one last brief question. Is there anything that`s going wrong? Is there anything that you need that you don`t have? Is there anything that the American people should know about your need in this incredibly important mission that you`re on that you need help for?

SEMONITE: I don`t think there is. And I`ll just two quick points. One is I still worry to a degree that there might be some leaders out there who are thinking they`re optimistic. And so, we keep going to the governor say here`s what we`re looking at, what are you looking at? Do you have enough beds?

And they`re trying to make sure that those decision makers are making those decisions, because, Rachel, we`re out of time. We`ve got two or three weeks left. But if we don`t start a build in the next couple of days, we miss that window.

The other thing is the president, the vice president, the secretary of defense, they called me about a week and a half ago on my cell phone and said, Todd, what do you need to be able to continue to focus and whether it`s the administration, the governors, everybody`s all in by trying to make sure we`re focused at one thing and that`s to be able to take care of this bed shortage and to be able to make sure we`re stepping up where we need to take care of these great Americans.

MADDOW: Lieutenant General Todd Semonite, chief of engineers, commanding general of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers -- sir, it`s an honor to have this time with you. Thank you for helping us understand what you`re doing and Godspeed to you and everyone who`s working with you.

SEMONITE: Rachel, have us back again because every week this is changing. I don`t have a clue what`s going to happen in ten days but you need to know the Corps of Engineers and the Department of Defense are fully committed to stay ahead of it.

MADDOW: Absolutely, sir. Say the word.

All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANIE GOSK, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Holy Name Medical Center in northern New Jersey is a community hospital, medium size. Many of the staff were actually born here.

It was also one of the hospitals hit earliest and hardest by the coronavirus. Fifty-five deaths so far, 175 infected people hospitalized.

Michelle Acito is the director of nursing.

MICHELLE ACITO, DIRECTOR OF NURSING, HOLY NAME MEDICAL CENTER: The nursing staff have been amazing. Every time they go into a patient room, they know that not only are they the caregiver, but they are the stand-in family member.

GOSK: And sometimes, it is their family. Three of the Acito`s relatives have tested positive for coronavirus, including her mother-in-law Edna Acito who was hospitalized here and celebrated her 89th birthday with nurses singing.

(SINGING)

GOSK: Two days later, she died.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: That hospital where NBC News` Stephanie Gosk filed that report, that hospital is in Teaneck, New Jersey. And we all know that the epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S. is New York, but the state with the second-most coronavirus cases and deaths right behind New York is New Jersey.

One sobering local headline put it succinctly, quote: If New Jersey were a country, it would rank 9th in the world for coronavirus cases.

Even as New York may be hitting its peak -- may be essentially now -- New Jersey officials they think New Jersey`s coronavirus peak may still be ten days or so away. And the implications of that are stark with as many cases and as many deaths as they`ve got already.

Today, New Jersey officials ordered 20 refrigerated morgue trucks that can hold nearly 1,700 bodies. Supplies of drugs used to treat coronavirus patients are also reportedly running low in New Jersey hospitals. There have been 22 deaths in the last 2 1/2 weeks at one nursing home in Elizabeth, New Jersey, which is absolutely harrowing. County jails are on lockdown as both prisoners and staff continue to test positive at alarming rates.

Hospitals in the state of New Jersey are being overwhelmed. By the end of last week, there were nine hospitals in northern New Jersey that were already diverting patients to different facilities because they didn`t have beds or staff to take in anyone else. Nine of them.

"New Jersey Advance Media" captured a snapshot of that bad circumstance in one hospital this weekend. Quote: Overrun with COVID-19 patients, university hospital in Newark was stretched to its limited in Saturday morning. More than 150 confirmed COVID patients and a few dozen suspected patients were requiring care.

Officials from the hospital started to call around searching for additional medical care. One unit answered the call. Several members of Newark`s emergency services team, the EMTs, were off duty and some of them had just finished the full shift on their own, of their own. It didn`t matter.

The EMS workers set up monitors, helped intubate patients, assisted nurses, got the critically ill to ventilators and started IVs. Some even helped clean areas of the highly trafficked ward.

Mass coordinator said the doctors and nurses at that hospital were so relieved that, quote, staff members were crying. They couldn`t even form sentences.

And that is an amazing and moving story about these front line health workers pulling together to help each other get through a harrowing night, right? EMS workers having already worked a full shift, right? EMS workers nevertheless saying, well, I`m off now. I`ll come to the hospital.

But that EMS unit, they cover all of the city of Newark and it`s nearly 300,000 units. That EMS unit has already had several of their own members out sick with coronavirus. I mean, they`re already stretched to the breaking point and they did a great thing for that overwhelmed hospital in their district this weekend.

But that is not a sustainable model for how New Jersey is going to get through this, particularly if their peak is yet to come. How does New Jersey get through this? Hold that thought.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: Joining us now is the governor of the great state of New Jersey, Phil Murphy.

Governor Murphy, I know this is a crucial time for you and your leadership team. Thank you so much for making time to talk us through this tonight. Really appreciate you being here.

GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D), NEW JERSEY: Honored to be with you, Rachel.

MADDOW: Today, you had the sad responsibility to announce your state`s largest one-day death toll yet. Overall, more than 1,200 people have died in your state. More than 1,000 of those deaths reported just in the past week.

I have to ask you where you feel like you are in New Jersey in terms of how bad this is going to get and how much worse it`s going to get from here.

MURPHY: Yes, today was a tough day. By the way, on Saturday, we passed the number of fatalities we suffered on 9/11, and we were second only to New York state to give another sense of the gravity of what we`re dealing with. We`re probably realistically two or three weeks away from when this is going to really hit -- hit the top.

And it`s a war, and it`s a war that we`re waging on two fronts. That`s the way we think about it.

On the one hand, behavior of all 9 million of us. If you`re watching from jersey, please stay home. Please, God, stay home. And the more of that we can do, the more likely it is that we`ve got a manageable amount of cases to deal with.

On the other hand, it`s building out and your good stories on Holy Name in Teaneck and University Hospital in Newark show this. We need to get more beds, more ventilators, more personal protective equipment, more health care workers.

And there`s a strategy for all that. We don`t have enough of it right now, but those are the two fronts of the war, and we`re battling each minute to minute on both sides.

MADDOW: When you talk about having a manageable number of cases, obviously, one case is too many in terms of what anybody would want to see. But given the rate of increase of cases and the rate of increase in hospitalizations in New Jersey that I was looking at today in preparation to talk with you, I am worried about the capacity of New Jersey hospitals. I am worried about reports that more than half a dozen New Jersey hospitals by last week were already turning patients to other facilities because they couldn`t take in anyone new.

How concerned are you realistically that New York`s -- that New Jersey`s hospital capacity isn`t going to be up to the numbers that you are going to have?

MURPHY: Listen, concerned without question. And we`ve got -- you know, we`re aggressively pursuing all those avenues I just mentioned. General Semonite was on. His colleague, General Jeff Milhorn and I will tour a 500- bed field medical station tomorrow in Edison, New Jersey. That`s one of three field medical stations.

President Trump has given New Jersey a slug of the beds on the USNS Comfort. We`ve got a call to arms for health care workers, by the way, to come in, volunteer and come in for the bullpen to relieve our heroic workers. We`ve gotten ventilators, several slugs out of the federal strategic stockpile. We need more. California, by the way, big shout-out to Gavin Newsom, who is sending some our way.

We`re constantly prowling the globe for personal protective equipment. So these are fronts that we`re aggressively pursuing all at the same time. And the concerns are real. The concerns are real without question, particularly in the northern and northeastern counties in our state which are part of the Metro New York reality.

MADDOW: One of the things that I`ve been interested to see you and your team working on in New Jersey is a plan, a statewide plan to help long-term care facilities. I know that more than half of New Jersey`s long-term care facilities have at least one case of coronavirus, 10 percent of the state`s fatalities thus far are linked to nursing homes. We`ve seen large numbers of death in individual facilities.

It`s just terrifying when we think about our elders, our older Americans in these facilities where they need to be for a million reasons, but it does feel like this virus rips through them like a wildfire through dry grass. What is the long-term care facility plan that you are working on? What are the principles that are guiding -- that are guiding that plan?

MURPHY: Yes. You could not be more right. There are certain communities which we are laser focused on and which are huge issues and long-term care facilities are at the top of that list. And we`ve literally -- I`ve got folks working literally right now on reassessing our entire state plan.

A lot of it has to do with cohorting, COVID, non-COVID patients. Cohorting COVID/non-COVID employees themselves. Restricting access. Moving patients around, which is a delicate -- as you know, you have a lot of folks in these long-term care facilities who are already at or near end of life circumstances to begin with.

So moving them around is a very delicate, challenging process in and of itself. But trying to get a better cohorting of the patient groups, particularly again in the north and central counties in our state, is sort of job number one for us. We`ve been on it, but we need to be even more aggressive than we`ve been.

MADDOW: In those long-term care facilities, in your state prisons and your jails, in your hospitals and dealing with these rising numbers, you have a remarkable challenge on your hands, Governor. I -- the whole country is pulling for you. I know you haven`t had as much attention as New York has, but you`ve got a remarkable challenge ahead of you.

Please come back and tell us what you need and what the country should know about what New Jersey is going through. Good luck, sir.

MURPHY: Thank you, Rachel. We`re Jersey and we`re Jersey Strong. Thank you for that.

MADDOW: I know you are, sir. Thank you.

All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: Now it`s time for an NBC News special report hosted by Lester Holt.

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