Grand Island TRANSCRIPT: 4/22/20, The Rachel Maddow Show

Guests: Teresa Anderson, Jan Schakowsky

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: 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.

Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour as well. Happy to have you with us here tonight.

The United States now has over 833,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus. Our national death toll as of tonight is over 46,300 dead. And keep in mind, that`s over the course of only about a month. More than 46,000 Americans have died.

Our daily death toll is pretty consistently now over 2,000 Americans dying every day. And for the first few weeks of this epidemic, of course, America`s death numbers and hospitalization numbers were all really driven by what was going on in New York, because it was so much worse in New York than it was everywhere else in the country.

But now we`re seeing 2,000 plus American deaths a day. We`re seeing record high new death numbers, even day. That`s happening while New York`s daily death toll is falling every day. New York`s death toll is pretty consistently falling every day now. While the overall death toll for the country keeps hitting new highs.

Well, why is that? It does not take an epidemiological genius to see why that is. It means that we`re starting to see the American body count now, reflect rising death tolls everywhere else, after New York went first. It also does not take an epidemiological genius to see where exactly it is that most Americans are now being killed by this thing. It doesn`t take any genius at all.

It does take an Internet connection, and a willingness to subscribe to lots of local newspapers if you want to figure that out, because if you want to figure out where most Americans are dying now, as American death tolls hit new highs, it turns out the numbers are things you have to go look for. Those numbers are hidden in the local news, and sometimes now they`re hidden on obscure state government websites. But if you go looking, you can find it. If you want to figure out where the most Americans are dying, and as a corollary to that, where we should look to try to save the most American lives, you can find those numbers if you look. You just have to look local.

So here for example, is the Arizona republic, where the reporters have ferreted out by their own reporting that more than half the total deaths in Maricopa County, Arizona, which is, by far, the largest county in Arizona, a majority of the COVID-19 deaths in Maricopa County have been deaths in nursing homes and long term care facilities.

The state of Arizona isn`t releasing that data. They are weirdly releasing statewide data about COVID-19 cases that are broken down by zip code. That`s how they decided to do the data.

But the "Arizona Republic" newspaper, their reporters crunched those numbers and compared the data from the states and the data from the public source, and sure enough if you do that map, zip codes with nursing homes in them have a higher number of COVID-19 cases than zip codes where there aren`t nursing homes. And as I said, a majority of that county`s deaths are nursing home deaths.

To find similar information, anywhere you look in the country, here`s Illinois, Winnebago County, Illinois, a majority of deaths in that county are attributable in that case to one nursing home with multiple deaths so far. Skip over to North Carolina. The state won`t do the math for you in North Carolina, but if you crunch the number, they`re now putting out daily, you can figure out that so far, it appears that 45 percent of the deaths from COVID-19 in the state of North Carolina have been Americans who live in nursing homes. And residential care facilities, 45 percent of the statewide death toll.

In Pennsylvania, where there have been some huge outbreaks in nursing homes and where there have been, they started sending in the National Guard, to help out in some nursing homes, the state government`s numbers now show that a majority of COVID-19 deaths in Pennsylvania are in nursing homes. More than 800 deaths in nursing homes out of the roughly 1,600 deaths statewide.

We`ve reported last week on what appeared to be a really large outbreak in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, which is one county out to the Ohio state line. Local reporters in Beaver County now say that they believe that nursing home deaths account for all but five of the known deaths in that whole county, 31 known deaths in that county, officially 26 of them from nursing homes.

Virginia is tracking what the state calls outbreaks of COVID-19 around the state. They have identified tons of individual outbreaks. That`s how they are tracking what`s going on in the state of Virginia. The state of Virginia now says that a majority of the known outbreaks in that state are in nursing homes, and a majority of the new outbreaks in Virginia are in nursing homes, too.

At one Virginia facility alone, at the Canterbury Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center outside of Richmond, Virginia, they got 49 Americans have died already at that one facility.

In Connecticut, the "Hartford Courant" reports today that at the Kimberly Hall North facility in Windsor, Connecticut, 35 Americans have died. The state reported last week that they had nine dead at that facility. Nine last week, this week, it`s 35.

At the Whispering Pines facility in East Haven, Connecticut, they have had 24 Americans lose their lives. The current reports that they have got less than 70 residents there, but 24 residents dead.

This weekend, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont ordered personnel from the state health department to visit every one of the nursing homes in Connecticut to assess the needs of those facilities. Today, he said he hopes that mobile testing units can help get residents tested in those facilities, too. Connecticut says so far, they know that 40 percent of the COVID-19 deaths in the state of Connecticut are in nursing homes. If you look anywhere in the country, this is what you will find.

In Michigan, the city of Detroit is trying to get all of its nursing home residents tested by tomorrow. Detroit`s mayor says there is no point in breaking out which Detroit nursing homes have COVID-19 and which don`t. The city believes all nursing homes in the city have it. So far, the effort at universally testing all nursing home residents in Detroit has revealed that approximately 26 percent of all nursing home residents have it, 26 percent positive.

And of course, once this population is exposed to coronavirus, they are the most likely to die from it. So, if more than one in four nursing home residents in Detroit already has it -- I mean, forgive me, but my God, think about that, for a second, if, think about transmission risks in nursing homes, and then think about the risk of death for nursing home residents, who get it. If more than one in four nursing homes in Detroit, one in four nursing home residents in Detroit, already has it, my God, forgive me, but as a country, that should be a clanging alarm bell. That should signal us as a country to move heaven and earth, to try to keep those residents alive in Detroit nursing homes, to try to protect the rest of them who aren`t yet infected who will be at such a high risk of death if they become infected in those facilities.

I mean, this is not front page news for some reason. But if you look at the numbers, if you think about what we are going to be accountable for, as American citizens, when we look back at this time and when we look at the death toll, the staggering death toll, of tens of thousands of Americans dying for this, the number of Americans who are dying can be disambiguated in a very clear sense, and where Americans are dying in largest numbers is in nursing homes.

So we can`t just slough that off and let that happen and say that`s inevitable. This is where most Americans are losing their lives. Shouldn`t we therefore use the most resources that we have in those facilities, to try to keep those Americans going, to try to keep those Americans alive, to try to keep them uninfected, to provide to those facilities what they need to save the most people.

And, you know, some states are trying. We have been covering this for a few weeks now. And we are seeing changes. We are seeing some states trying, we are seeing some cities.

For example, Detroit trying for universal testing of all residents in Detroit nursing homes, that is very good. If they have revealed that one in four residents in their nursing homes already has it, that reveals a huge need for resources and helps to keep those Americans alive, to protect those who are not infected now but they`re living in congregate, in a population, where one in four people around them is positive. It is one thing to have the data but what the data tells us is now we must act.

And we are getting more data. That has changed over the course of these past few week, as we have been covering this, states like New York state and Illinois, are posting cases and deaths for individual nursing homes now -- if not daily, then every few days. Other states are posting other more random, slightly less useful information. Like ranges of cases and county- wide case numbers, but not individual facilities.

We`re seeing other states post some stuff. Individual facilities giving us case numbers and that is the most helpful. The federal government has now told nursing homes nationwide that they should tell nursing home residents and their families and also the CDC if they`ve got a case of coronavirus in a facility.

But that`s a pretty nonspecific piece of information, and nobody knows what that is going to produce in terms of useful information for the rest of us, knowing what places need attention, and help.

Look at what`s going on right now in the state of Massachusetts. In Massachusetts, nursing home deaths are 54 percent of the state`s deaths. And so if you die from coronavirus in the state of Massachusetts, statistically, you are most likely to have been a nursing home resident when you die. State government in Massachusetts said within the last couple of weeks that they would provide free testing for all nursing home residents and all staff, at all nursing homes in the state.

Well, yesterday, the state health director in Massachusetts announced that that had gotten a little screwed up. Some facilities did get visited by these mobile testing units where the National Guard comes in and a mobile testing unit, they carry out the testing, that is apparently fine. But for some other facilities in Massachusetts, what the state health department did is they decided they would just mail test kits, mail coronavirus tests to those facilities, I guess, assuming nursing homes would know what to do with those tests. In large part, they did not know what to do with those tests.

Quote, from "The Boston Globe" today, long term care facilities appeared to be ill-equipped to collect the samples properly, officials said. After sending out 14,000 tests, the state has only 4,000 tests were returned and many of those were unlabeled or in leaking tubes.

Because of that, Massachusetts is now, at least for now, going to go back to just sending the mobile testing units to have the National Guard come in and do the testing, instead of mailing these facilities stuff and asking them to do it themselves. But I want to highlight that for a second for a few reasons. I mean, number one, credit Massachusetts for at least trying to test everyone, right? That needs to happen everywhere. And nursing home residents and staff need to be tested. Not just once, but on an ongoing basis.

Credit Massachusetts, also, for admitting where part of that effort went wrong. So that if other states decide to emulate what they are doing, at least they will know that that part of it didn`t work. But also, it`s worth noticing what happened here in Massachusetts, because we should learn from that. One of the lessons here, with what went wrong in Massachusetts, with this well-intentioned effort, is that I think it`s really easy to overestimate the medical capabilities of nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

Since we have been covering this on this show, we have heard from a lot of them, and this is what we hear over and over again, nursing homes and long- term care facilities are the places where in many states most of the COVID deaths are happening. But nursing homes and long term care facilities are not hospitals. Many of these places have minimal highly, high level trained medical staff.

But because thousands of Americans are on track to die in these facilities, unless we get them what they need, unless we get them testing, unless we get them help with infection control, unless we help them with best practices and equipment, to keep their residents from infecting each other, and to keep the staff from infecting the residents, and vice-versa, one of the things that`s going to need to be scaled up in these facilities is trained medical staff. They need people.

And I know a lot of these places are privately-owned, right? I know the vast majority of them are privately owned. And the companies who are running these places we would hope would be able to scale up and add people and add more trained medical staff to the usual roster that they`ve got of people.

But if they don`t have that, is that reason for us to condemn the people who live in those facilities to death? Nursing homes and long-term care facilities need people right now. They need more people than they would usually have under normal circumstances. These are not normal circumstances.

They need extra staff to bolster, for example, normal shifts for when their staff members are out sick themselves or when their star members are not coming to work because they`ve been exposed and they`ve been told to quarantine. It is very important that people who work in nursing homes don`t come to work sick, and that if they are exposed, that they do quarantine.

Staff who are out sick or on quarantine should be paid to stay home. They should not fear for losing their jobs. If they`re out sick or they have been told to quarantine. Therefore, we need to support nursing homes with additional staff, so that their regular staff can stay out of work, if public health demands that they do.

We need them not coming in, because of short staffing, because they`re worried about their jobs or because there is no sick pay. And yes, we would want there to be better facility force that. We would want there to be a better way of handling that and all of these privately-run facilities -- I get that. Less reform them in the long run. Right now, let`s try to keep Americans alive who live in those facilities.

It`s also becoming clearer to me, just in covering this, just by reading local news reports around the country about this every day, that nursing homes and long-term care facilities also right now, in the short term, need extra medical staff that they wouldn`t normally have on payroll and we`ve seen this in other countries like Ireland where they have prioritized the needs of nursing homes and brought in National Health Service staff to bring in additional medical expertise to these facilities who might not usually have doctors around or at least not enough doctors around. They`re going to need now, in a way they usually don`t need, expert infection control measures, supervision for implementing those.

They`re going to need more trained nurse visits and trained doctor visits, to help the staff put those things in place and keep them going. And yes, I understand that seeing the numbers of deaths in these nursing homes, especially the ones where it has been hard to get information about how many people are infected, and how many people have died, it`s OK to be mad at nursing homes, particularly ones that aren`t well run. It`s OK to be mad at them, in the long run. It`s OK to be mad at them, that they don`t have the kind of resources and payroll, and staffing, and administration that can handle the extraordinary needs of this time, including letting us know what they need.

But these are not normal times. They have extraordinary needs right now. And we as a country need to make extraordinary demands of these facilities right now because they house the Americans who are dying in the greatest numbers from this epidemic.

It`s no use being mad at nursing homes right now, or blaming them. Put that off. Do it later. This is a time to help them keep Americans alive. Not to blame them. And we`re going to have to get over some of our feelings about what they should be doing themselves already.

The public reporting, which is something that has been upped over the past couple of weeks since we`ve been reporting on this part of the pandemic, intensively, the public reporting is going to make a difference. Commitments like Massachusetts and Detroit have made, to prioritize testing for everybody who works and lives in these place, whether or not they`ve got symptoms, and yes, do that, that is going to produce important data, but the data is literally step one. Once we`ve got that data, and as we are getting in that data, and even in the absence of that data, the right response to recognizing the size of the problem in these facilities, is to then help them.

They`re going to need help keeping their patients from being killed in huge numbers. They are going to need help keeping their residents from being killed in huge numbers, and that is an American priority right now. They cannot be left to do it alone.

And helping those facilities keep their residents alive, should be a priority of the federal government. And it should take action by the federal government, but honestly, they are really not doing anything, and again, be mad at them, hold them to account for that. Please, please.

But in the short run, try to keep Americans alive. In the absence of federal action, to keep the most vulnerable Americans who are dying in the largest numbers alive, it is going to take action by the states, which means it is going to be 50 different solutions, but hope that your state is doing it right, and try to make them do it right if they`re not.

Beyond that, honestly, it`s probably going to take action by regular people. I mean do you know how many nursing homes are in your neighborhood if you live in a city or if you live in a suburb or a more spread-out rural area, do you know how many nursing homes and long-term care facilities there are in your county?

A lot of communities, we have seen these heart-warming story, we`ve seen so many "thank yous" from doctors and nurses working in hospitals, about communes breaking their backs trying to get PPE and homemade masks and face shields and things, to hospitals, for front-line health workers who are working in hospitals. Well, in many communities, it`s now becoming clear, we probably need to get that stuff to nursing homes and long-term care facilities, too, because they are just as much the front line.

Since we`ve been covering the nursing home lacuna in our national response here on this show, we heard from a whole bunch of different people from all around the country who have offered to donate and organize supplies for nursing homes and long-term care facilities near where they live. We haven`t heard once about a nursing home saying no, we don`t need your help, no, we don`t need your donations of hand sanitizer. No, we don`t need your homemade masks. We haven`t heard of anybody saying no.

But we have heard a lot about nursing homes responding by saying hey, nobody else has offered us anything, and, boy, do we need it. So I mean, how do we -- how do we do this? It may be churches, synagogues, mosques, alumni groups, you know, student groups, book clubs, sports clubs, Indivisible groups, the chapter of League of Women voters, or Young Republicans, Rotary Club, or the Knights of Columbus, whatever you have in your town, that is in your life, that is geographically specific, that is for a specific geographic area, at this point at the community level, it may be adopt your local nursing home time, to find out what they need, and then advocate and organize to get it to them.

And I can`t believe I`m saying this. I mean, I can`t believe that has to be the way we respond as a country to the part of this crisis in which the most Americans are dying. But the daily news on the death toll in these facilities is not getting any better. The more reporting there is, the more deaths we are finding. The more testing we`re doing, the more outrageously high prevalence we are finding, which are deaths waiting to happen.

The daily news on this part of the epidemic shows that just waiting for the government to get it together, in terms of protecting these Americans who are most likely to die, it is not working. At least it is not working fast enough. And so it may come down to communities organizing to support the long-term care facilities and nursing homes in your town, which is astonishing to me. But I don`t know a better way. And I`m not seeing a better way.

All right. We`re going to be talking with one particular congresswoman later on this hour who has been leading the charge in Congress to try to get the federal government to do something about nursing homes, to finally act to try to save American lives here.

Illinois Congresswoman Jen Schakowsky has been spearheading that in the House. She`s going to join us from the U.S. Capitol in a couple of minutes. I should tell you, Congresswoman Schakowsky is at the Capitol tonight and able to join us from the camera there because there is going to be a vote tomorrow on the next relief bill for the crisis.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and the Democratic leadership in the House had planned to allow for what would basically amount to remote voting by members of Congress tomorrow, for that bill, so they didn`t all have to get together in that same place, to pass the bill.

Republicans objected though. And so members of Congress will all once again have to travel from all over the country to get together in congregate at the Capitol to pass that bill, and the bill, I think, inevitably will pass, but they will all have to take the physical risk to be there anyway.

Meanwhile, in the executive branch, there continues to be just absolute chaos at the top. One of the top officials working to develop a coronavirus vaccine has now filed a whistle-blower complaint, saying he was removed from that job and demoted as punishment because he spoke out internally against the president continually hyping an unproven drug as a surefire cure for coronavirus. Now that multiple trials have shown serious cardiac complications and increased risk of death, for people taking that, apparently we need to shut up that anybody was criticizing the president`s and the Fox News Channel, hyping it for weeks, because now, it`s apparently cost the top vaccine guy in the government his job.

We`ll have more on that later. But it`s just a mess.

This, of course, is also the week when multiple red skate governors are starting to end efforts to suppress the spread of the virus in their states. They`re opening stuff back up. And that honestly, if we`re honest about it, that is because the president has egged them on to do so. Even though none of the states opening back up already states like Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, Mississippi, none of them has met any of even the White House guidelines for what you`re supposed to have in place before you start to reopen.

Think about that for a second. These are the White House`s guidelines. These are states that have not met any of the thresholds called for in the guidelines in terms of opening back up. But those states nevertheless are opening back up anyway, and the White House has been encouraging it.

But why did you put up those guidelines then? People who don`t meet the guidelines are doing it anyway. What was the point of the guidelines?

I mean, this is exactly the kind of chaos this president has brought to bear on the crisis from the very beginning. Now that we`ve got over 46,000 Americans dead because of it, the chaos at the top appears to be getting more chaotic, not less.

Tomorrow, as members of Congress convene in Washington to pass that bill, protesters are going to run a motorcade between the White House and the Trump hotel in downtown Washington, where they say they plan to dump body bags at the threshold of the hotel. Seems about right.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: An update on a story we`ve been following this week out of Waterloo, Iowa, where a large local -- a large meat packing plant has been the site of one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the country. On Monday, we have the sheriff of Black Hawk County, where that Tyson Foods plant is located here on the show, to talk about the fact that he and other city and county officials had been pleading with the company that runs that plant, Tyson Foods, and also, with Iowa`s Republican governor to please, please close down that meat-packing plant in Waterloo.

Sheriff Tony Thompson told us on Monday night, quote: That plant is the biggest hole in the county defense right now. It`s creating a risk of the entire population of my county.

When I spoke with Sheriff Thompson on Monday night, Black Hawk County had 356 confirmed coronavirus cases. As of today, they`re up to 511 cases. That`s the most of any county in Iowa. At least 40 percent of those cases are tied directly to that Tyson Foods plant. We`re starting to see obituaries for people who worked at that plant in the local paper.

Well, today, after days and days of local officials putting pressure on the company, and on Iowa`s Republican governor, Tyson finally today announced it was closing that plant in Waterloo, Iowa, indefinitely. Waterloo`s mayor had been calling for that, alongside the sheriff. He told CNN today that he welcomed the decision but he believes it may have come too late to stop the widespread spreading of that virus in his town.

Black Hawk County Sheriff Tony Thompson told us this about the plant finally closing. He said, quote: While we are pleased with this development, we recognize how late it is for many. Now our task is to react to the damage done and to get back on top of monitoring and testing without overrunning our health care system.

So that`s the update on the situation in rural Black Hawk County, Iowa, tonight, sort of a better late than never from the officials who had been calling for that plant to shut down. Hundreds of cases there. At least that one coronavirus locus, that one plant, is closed today but I have to tell you in neighboring Nebraska, it`s a different story, at least eight meat processing plants in Nebraska have confirmed coronavirus cases including one, really, really big outbreak, at least 237 cases of coronavirus now tied to one beef plant in Grand Island, Nebraska. Grand Island is the third largest city in Nebraska. The cases tied to that one beef plant in Grand Island account for more than 40 percent of all of the cases in that area.

But neither that plant in Grand Island, nor any of the other Nebraska meat packing plants with cases has been closed. And Nebraska remains one of the few states in the country without any kind of stay-at-home order. In recent days, the rate of coronavirus cases around Grand Island, Nebraska, has been higher than some of the hardest hit states in the country, higher than Michigan, closer to Louisiana, there are more than 600 confirmed cases and 18 deaths in the Grand Island, Nebraska, area, including four deaths reported just in the past day.

Grand Island`s mayor, and the local health director, have been asking Nebraska`s governor, Pete Ricketts, for a stay-at-home order, but he has refused. The local health director has warned that the health care system around Grand Island is very close to being swamped. She said two days ago, quote, we are going into a rather dark couple of weeks.

Joining us now is that health director, Teresa Anderson, is the health department director for Nebraska`s central district, the central district is right in the middle of that state, about a two hour drive away from Omaha.

Ms. Anderson, thank you so much for making home to us tonight -- for us tonight, I know you have a lot to deal with, and it is a very busy time.

TERESA ANDERSON, HEALTH DIRECTOR, CENTRAL DISTRICT HEALTH DEPARTMENT, NEBRASKA: Thank you, Rachel, for having me.

MADDOW: First, let me just ask first, if I characterized things accurately as far as you know and if there is any other important developments that we should know about in terms of this, what appears to be a pretty sizable outbreak in and around Grand Island.

ANDERSON: You know, the outbreak is associated in some degree with the meat packing industry but there are a lot of factors that go into determining how severe the outbreak is.

MADDOW: We`re getting a sort of echo effect on your audio. I`m not sure if there is anything we can do to adjust that. I know it`s technically, this is always -- this is always a challenge to do these things. I can hear you though.

Let me just ask you, it seems like that might be better.

ANDERSON: OK. Good.

MADDOW: Great, all right. Let me just ask you, it has been unusual, I think, I expected watching this from afar, that some of the facilities where there`s been a large number of cases associated with an individual workplace, that those might have been closed. But as far as I understand it, no meat packing plants in Nebraska have been closed, including this one in Grand Island where there are a large number of cases.

ANDERSON: So the way that it`s been evolving, is that our plant here in Grand Island has been, I`m going to say ahead of the game, at least time- wise, in the number of cases, and I`ll give you an example, last week, we had 360 cases, in our three county area, and this week, we have 630, a week later.

So the spread is within the community, and we have known for a while that it`s been community-wide. What happens in the meat packing industry, and you well know this, that there are close quarter, people are working elbow to elbow, they`re changing out into their work gear, in the same locker room, and so there are lots of opportunity force the spread of virus. Certainly, that was the case a few weeks ago.

The meat packing industry has been taking some measures to improve the distancing, and the potential for the spread of virus, all across the state. And most recently, the HHS has had some teams out looking at and advising the different plants and what they might do to better reduce the spread or the potential for the spread. I was watching what you were saying a few minutes ago, and in our instance, it may be that the cat`s out of the bag, so to speak. We`ve got widespread virus, and at this point, closing the plant may be helpful to us, I certainly think it wouldn`t hurt but we`ve got spread everywhere.

Literally, when we do our contact tracing, we know that while many of them are related to JBS in some fashion, whether the person worked there or their spouse worked there, they were also experiencing other types of outbreaks, especially along our long-term care facilities, which of course is very concerning to us.

MADDOW: In terms of that spread being everywhere, including, as you said long-term care facilities, where it`s so dangerous, now that you`re seeing the numbers that you are, and you`ve got the amount of community transmission, it seems that you have, I`m worried about your hospital capacity. Can you tell us anything about the number of facilities who are able to treat people who are very ill, with COVID-19 symptoms, and tell us if you`re worried about intensive care capacity, and even potentially ventilators?

ANDERSON: Right. So what happens when you get out into the rural part of the country, is you will find that some of the rural hospitals are critical access hospital, and therefore, they have no reverse airflow rooms. And they have no ability to care for COVID patients while protecting staff. So, in our particular district, we have two of those community access hospitals and we also have one hospital that a larger hospital that has capacity right now with 17 ventilators.

So what happens, with this rural part of the state, again, is that we have a limited number of staff, so even when we`re able to bring in ventilators, from neighboring, or from some distance, to facilitate the process, the staff isn`t there, and I am an old ICU nurse from the old days and I realize how technical the care is for a patient on a ventilator. And those, the folks that need to be brought in are going to be highly skilled individuals. So we have the challenge of bringing in folks into an area that is fairly active with COVID, and then asking them to work in our facility knowing that in our community, there`s widespread.

MADDOW: Teresa Anderson, Nebraska`s central district health department director who has a bear of an epidemic there to be dealing with in that rural part of Nebraska, thank you for talking publicly the way that you have, to explain to people the seriousness of what you`re facing in Grand Island, thanks for helping us understand it on a national level, and please keep us apprised of this going ahead. I am worried that you are in for a few weeks of very dark days and anything that we can do nationally, to get you any help that we can, please let us know.

ANDERSON: Thank you, Rachel.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: It is a common drug used to prevent malaria. You may have taken it before traveling overseas if you were trying not to get malaria, but most likely, you never heard of this drug until last month when the prime time Fox News hosts and then the president started incessantly promoting it on a daily, sometimes hourly basis, as what they were quite sure was a miracle cure for coronavirus.

There`s no big deal, this coronavirus thing, we`ve got a cure already. They promoted it to despite zero clinical trials and next to no evidence of its effectiveness. But, boy, were they insistent.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What if there is already a cheap and widely available medication that is on the market to treat the virus?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chloroquine, that`s a cheap anti-malaria drug, may be effective in treating coronavirus.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Chloroquine.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hydroxychloroquine. Based on what I see, it could be a game changer.

Hydroxychloroquine. It showed very encouraging early results. Really encouraging.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Early signs are, for me, reading medical research, I was impressed.

TRUMP: It`s very effective. It`s a strong -- it`s a strong drug.

I feel good about it. It`s all it is, just a feeling.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And it`s showing surprising promise for treatment of coronavirus.

TRUMP: Hydroxychloroquine.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`ve been telling you for a week about hydroxychloroquine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hydroxychloroquine.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hydrochloroquine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We talk about hydroxychloroquine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is cheap. It`s considered safe.

So, in a lot of ways, hydroxychloroquine is the ideal medicine.

TRUMP: Hydroxychloroquine is a very powerful drug.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you try hydroxychloroquine? After all I`ve read, I would.

TRUMP: I got the very early approval from the FDA.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They`ve never heard of hydroxychloroquine before we mentioned it.

TRUMP: Hydroxychloroquine, I don`t know, it`s looking like it is having some good results.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Drum roll, please. Hydroxychloroquine.

TRUMP: What do you have to lose? Take it.

There are sign that it works on this. Some very strong signs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s mounting evidence tonight that hydroxychloroquine may work.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hydroxychloroquine is now looking more and more like an important tool in treating this virus.

TRUMP: Our national stockpile is now equipped with nearly 30 million hydroxychloroquine pills.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hydroxychloroquine is credited with saving lives.

TRUMP: A friend of mine tells me he got better because of the use of that drug.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hydroxychloroquine seems to be working. I don`t know medicine from cosmology, all right, but the fact of the matter, it is working.

TRUMP: I actually haven`t heard a bad story, if you want to know the truth. There`s some good ones, some bad ones, and you still give it a shot. I haven`t heard of a bad story.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Beginning in middle of March, hydroxychloroquine was mentioned hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of times on the Fox News Channel, particularly by its prime time hosts, and by the president, from the White House podium. Until about a week ago, when those mentioned by Fox News and the president just dropped off a cliff. They just stopped bringing it up. And we don`t know why it is.

But yesterday, we did get the as a results of a new study which is yet to be peer recovered but it is the largest to date involving the use of hydroxychloroquine among 368 veterans in veterans hospitals across the U.S. In that trial, the drug was found to have no benefit, and there were actually more deaths reported among those who were given that drug than those who were given standard care.

The authors of the study said, quote: These findings highlight the importance of awaiting the results of ongoing prospective, randomized, controlled studies, before widespread adoption of these drugs. Yes, you think?

The president was asked about that study last night. He said, quote, I don`t know of the report. Obviously, there have been some very good reports. And perhaps this one is not a good report.

The National Institutes of Health panel has now weighed in on hydroxychloroquine saying quote, there was insufficient clinical data to recommend either for or against it.

Then late today, "The New York Times" was first to report that a high- ranking doctor, who led the HHS efforts to try to develop a coronavirus vaccine, he was transferred out of that position this week, and demoted, after he internally questioned the president`s advocacy of that drug. Dr. Rick Bright tells "The Times", quote, I believe this transfer was in response to my insistence that the government invest the billions of dollars allocated by Congress into safe and scientifically vetted solutions and no in drugs that lack scientific merit.

He continued quote: Specifically, and contrary to misguided directives, I limited the broad use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine promoted by the administration as a panacea but which clearly lacks scientific merit.

Now, that doctor is now no longer in charge of the search for a vaccine to save us from the deadly coronavirus. Because he says he was demoted when he got in the way of the president continuing to hype an unproven cure that he heard about on the Fox News channel.

It is one thing to not have leadership at the frazzle level in response to this crisis. It is actually a whole another thing to have the president putting American lives at risk every time he blurts something made up or that he thought he understood from TV into the microphone at the White House briefing room. And that really is happening every day.

I mean as a, I don`t have an opinion one way or the other about this president and how he should be treated. A lie, I say that right here. I`m lying. I`m telling you, I won`t tell you my opinion one or way or the other about the president and how he should be treated.

But as a general matter I think we should all agree that perhaps there should be a more concerted effort to stop the misinformation about this disease, particularly if it is potentially deadly misinformation. If somebody is repeatedly misinforming the American public, about important things having to do with this disease, don`t broadcast that.

Don`t listen to people who are lying to you about this disease. Don`t broadcast their comments. Certainly, don`t keep doing it day after day, when they`ve proven themselves to be lying day after day. And honestly, it doesn`t matter who it is, show some responsibility, honestly.

(CXOMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: Joining us now live is Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky of Illinois who is in Capitol Hill tonight, who joins from there.

Congresswoman Schakowsky, thank you so much for making time for us tonight. It`s great to see you.

REP. JAN SCHAKOWSKY (D-IL): Thank you so much, Rachel, for focusing on this issue of nursing homes. Appreciate it.

MADDOW: I wanted to talk to you about it because you`ve really led the charge on this in the House. This letter that you sent to the Trump administration demanding they immediately collect and report facility level data on nursing homes. They do now say that they want to collect that information.

Are they collecting the right information? Do you have faith that they`re going to carry this out the way that it needs to be done?

SCHAKOWSKY: You know, I definitely have concerns. Number one, they aren`t going to be reporting fatalities, only the cases. And we need to know about the fatalities.

In my district, I have a nursing home that has 42 cases and 13 people have died and we have many nursing homes where more than 20 have died. We need to know this information.

Beyond that, they`re doing it rule-making, Rachel, which takes a long time. They can order it right now but that is not happening, so I don`t know even when that data collection is going to come about.

So, there are a number of problems with the -- and I believe that it is in response to 78 of us. I led a letter to HHS and CMS to saying you need to tell us, not just the families, not just the residents, but also the public what is going on in nursing homes. You know, Rachel, we don`t know the scope of the problem and we need to have a picture of it.

MADDOW: The relief bill that the House is going to vote on tomorrow, the reason you`re in Washington to vote on the bill, as far as I understand it, I`m not totally clear on it but I think there is about $25 billion earmarked in that bill for testing. Do you -- do you know if any of that is going to be for testing nursing homes?

SCHAKOWSKY: None of it is officially designate for the nursing homes. It`s supposed to be for the high risk areas and I certainly hope that will happen, and I want to communicate with the powers that be that that be one of the areas with 1.3 million nursing homes in this country, there are chronic problems but right now we really need to focus on the nursing homes and make sure we`re testing.

As Nancy Pelosi said from the beginning, testing, testing, testing. And so, I am certainly going to encourage and encourage my colleagues to say nursing homes need to be at the top of the list.

MADDOW: Congresswoman, we`re going to stay on nursing home issues as long as it continues to be a problem here. Because you have taken the lead on this in the House, I`d ask you to please keep us apprised and please come back and visit with us as rule-making and policy making proceeds on this. I just feel like the hole in the federal response here is just incredibly fatal and I`d love to stay in touch with you on an on going basis with you on this.

SCHAKOWSKY: Thank you. I`d be honored to do that. Thank you.

MADDOW: Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, thank you.

All right. We`ve got much more to come tonight. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon tweeted this photo today of the House Rules Committee meeting. That`s remarkable photo. Congressman Jim McGovern of Massachusetts chairing that meeting while wearing a Patriots face mask. It`s just a brazen sight to see Congress going about its business right now.

If today seemed weird, just wait until tomorrow when they come back to pass the latest relief bill and you can`t vote by proxy. You have to put on your mask and take your chances.

That`s going to do it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow night.

Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".

Good evening, Lawrence.

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