IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Cuomo expands phased reopening TRANSCRIPT: 5/14/20, The Rachel Maddow Show

Guests: Andrew Cuomo

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, "ALL IN": That`s a great point. Those images that we have been showing here, people, you know, schools around the world, everyone is wrestling with this, I think you`re right. We`re going to going to have to try to open in the fall and figure out the best way to do that and be open and humble and dynamic about it.

Dana Goldstein who is hands down one of the best education reporters in America, thank you so much for your time tonight.


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. Thanks, my friend. Much appreciated.

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

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is going to join us live in just a moment. I`m very excited about that. You also have to stay tuned tonight after this hour, because right after me tonight, there`s going to be the town hall with Vice President Joe Biden, and Stacey Abrams, you`re going to want to see that, that`s right after me tonight here on MSNBC. So, it`s going to be a big night here.

But I would like to start tonight by introducing you to Theresa Francisco. She is a nurse, she works for 38 years as an ICU nurse at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, at work her nickname was Ted, her co-workers called her Ted with affection. Here she is.


THERESA FRANCISCO, RETIRED NURSE FROM MOUNT SINAI WHO RECOVERED FROM COVID- 19: Hello. My name is Theresa Francisco. I was a nurse here at Mount Sinai, for many years, and I started January, I retired January 2020, and now I came back to Mount Sinai as a COVID-19 patient. And I`ve been here since March 27th and I`m walking out today, and I thank God, I thank Dr. Gidwani and his staff, and all of the people who made me alive today.

DR. GIDWANI: Are you excited to go home?

FRANCISCO: Much more than excited to go home. I can`t express how I feel after staying in the hospital, as a worker, as a patient, for more than one month. I`m more than excited to go home and sleep in my bed.

I`m walking out of here. Yay!


FRANCISCO: I beat COVID-19! I`m going home.


MADDOW: More than a month in the hospital, including considerable time on a ventilator in the ICU, where she worked for 38 years as a nurse. She`s beat it. She`s going home. They`re saying Ted, Ted, Ted, that`s them cheering for her, using the nickname she had there on the ICU ward where she worked for 38 years as a nurse at Mount Sinai before this thing came and got her right after her retirement from Mount Sinai.

But now, after just barely cheating death, she is -- she is going home. Again, her name is Theresa Francisco.


MADDOW: In New York state, the idea of opening back up, because it`s safer now to open up in a way that it wasn`t before, that`s complicated, as maybe it should be, in terms of the way the state is approaching it. The state is divided into ten different regions, so like New York City is just one of the ten regions.

And then the state government, Governor Andrew Cuomo, has set search different metrics that have to be met in each of the ten districts if even the districts wants to start opening up. So you have a 14-day decline in hospitalization, 14-day decline in deaths, the per capita hospitalizations have to be under a certain threshold for a three-day rolling average. 30 percent of your hospital beds need to be open and available, 30 percent of your ICU beds as well.

You have to be testing a certain percentage of your population every day. You need to have contact tracers in place and working a certain number per capita, based on your infection rate. Of the ten regions in New York state, five regions in the state have now hit each of those seven benchmarks, and they are going to be starting the opening process, just a few hours from now, a minute after midnight.

Tomorrow is the first day that five of the ten regions in New York can reopen. Five other regions in the state haven`t met all seven of those benchmarks so they are not opening at all. Which sounds complicated, right? Ten different regions, seven different benchmarks, you have to meet them all -- five of the ten are meeting them, so -- it`s complicated, right?

Yes, it`s complicated. It makes sense that this is complicated. This is a new virus that we don`t know any freaking thing about except that it spreads like wildfire and kills humans in huge numbers by mysterious means. It ought to be complicated.

If anybody tells you this is simple, they are either not doing their work or they`re lying. I mean, you ought to have a lot of boxes to check and things you that need to have in place and stuff that you need to triple check before you start telling people it`s now OK to do things that is inevitably doing to expose people to each other more and produce more spread of infection.

So yes, if you are New York, and you`ve had 20,000 people dead already, right, but your curve looks like this, your curve is coming back down, to where it started, well, it is understandable that you are starting to at least cautiously think about where you might want to be able to open up in that state. In some parts of the state, with caution, with seven different benchmarks you have to hit, given how many cases that you have.

But you know, if you`re Alabama, or Arizona, and your curves, such as they are, look like this, right, they look like Cameron Diaz`s bangs in "There`s Something About Mary", if you`re Mississippi or Texas and your curves look like this, you`re not New York, look what you`re doing, look where you are in your curve. Or let`s say you are South Dakota, or you`re Wisconsin, and your curves look like this, yes, you`re not in the same place that New York is in.

Yes, opening up right now, if you`re opening up right now, that is something that is not being driven by the data. That is something that is not being driven by the reality of where you are in your epidemic. If you`re opening up and your curves look like Wisconsin and South Dakota, there is something else at work.

I mean, doing it in a science-based way is hard. So is getting the government of the United States of America to help with that in any way, and in some states, getting them to start hurting.

"The Associated Press" has had this blistering series of reports over the past couple of weeks about the CDC preparing expert science-based guidance on how to reopen stuff safely, practical step by step decision-tree type guidance that you can use, to reopen safely, or to make decisions about when you can reopen safely. You know, if you run a school, or a childcare facility, or a camp, or a religious institution, or college or a restaurant or a bar or a retail business or an office. The CDC has been developing practical science-guided advice which as the "A.P." reported, the White House has kyboshed, right?

The White House had kyboshed it and prevent it -- kyboshed this advice from being released to the public, prevented the CDC from getting that expert advise, out to the American people, even as governors around the country kept announcing reopening in all sorts of states, right? Without any practical science-based advice on how to do it safely.

Meanwhile, the CDC has practical science-based advice for having to do stuff safely and the White House says, no, you can`t let it out.

Well, the "A.P." has been reporting on that for a couple of weeks. And now, it turns out, it is amazing what ultimately happens when those guidelines, the CDC has been working on, get leaked to the press. "The Associated Press" publishes them. The administration has to start answering hard questions every single day, about where those guidelines are, why they haven`t been finalized, when are they coming out, why have you blocked them from coming out, we could really use this practical information, and it turns out it is amazing what that kind of pressure will do.

Because after reporting on this for a couple of weeks, tonight, behold, here they are. Pressure works. These guidelines from CDC have been magically unbottle necked as of tonight. After two weeks of excellent "Associated Press" reporting, and whoever their blessed sources were, who leaked the earlier draft of this guidance, so we the American people would know the CDC was working on this thing, and that we should get it.

With all the pressure that came from that reporting, we now got these guidelines as of tonight, and they are helpful. If you run a restaurant or a bar, here`s the decision tree format, for how to decide if you can reopen safely, and how to do so safely. You know, you have seen all of those vague assertions and admonitions about careful cleaning and disinfecting of workplace, and other places where people might come together after reopening.

Well, be vague no more. Here`s nine pages from the CDC, on what it actually means, when they say cleaning and disinfecting -- well, nine-page guidance for cleaning and disinfecting. Not sure exactly what might need to be cleaned and disinfected. Here`s a two-page decision tree to walk you through what needs cleaning and how, in any workplace that is reopening.

This is good. This is helpful. This stuff would have been handy a long time ago, particularly when Republican governors starting willy-nilly telling people to open without giving any advice on how to do so safely. Had it not been for the "A.P." leaning on this story with a crowbar, who knows if this guidance, schools and day cares and camps and restaurants and all these other -- who knows if this guidance would have ever seen the light of day.

The "A.P.`s" reporting was in fact that the CDC was literally told by the Trump administration that this guidance would not see the light of day. But now, because of pressure, and because of public reporting, it has. That is the power of the free press. That is the power honestly of people working inside government who know something is supposed to happen, and who let it leak to a reporter, let it leak to the press, because the public needs to know about it, because the government needs pressure.

May I also take this moment to mention that if you know of something that needs to see the light of day, you might want to send it to me, We look at every single thing you send us. We follow up every single thing we can.

Kudos to the "A.P." for leaning like heck on the story which is I -- 100 percent why I believe the guidelines have been pried loose from a Trump administration with that did not want to let them become public.

That said, in general, the bad decision making around the country, when it comes to this epidemic, and the consequences of bad decision making around the country do just keep mounting day by day. Big picture, things aren`t getting better.

Texas, for example, continues to aggressively open itself back up, even as the epidemic in Texas appears to be taking off like a rocket ship. Critical coverage from the "Texas Tribune" caused a major JBS meatpacking plant in the Texas panhandle to just change its mind overnight last night. As to whether or not it would allow testing of its workers, as that plant stays open, despite what appears to be a significant outbreak there.

So again, that`s another instance of the free press, making something get better, in this case, in the state of Texas. Texas had its, just had its worst one-day death toll yet. And it just had five straight days of over a thousand new cases a day, but Texas is still just ripping through opening up as fast as they can.

In places like Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Minnehaha County in South Dakota, they`ve got over 3,000 cases there now. In Woodbury County, Iowa, which is Sioux City, Iowa, they have over 2,000 cases in that county. Just over the state line from Sioux City and Dakota County, Nebraska, they`re closing in on 1,500 cases there, as of today, which is astonishing given that there are only 20,000 people in Dakota County.

Just 20,000 people in the county, they`re going to be at 2,000 cases of coronavirus there. So Dakota County, Nebraska, which has a large meat packing plant.

In little Morgan County, Colorado, population less than 30,000, this week, they overtopped their morgue supply, filled up mortuaries in the county, and all of the extra storage units for extra bodies, and now they have brought in a refrigerate truck to handle the bodies that they otherwise had nothing to do with, parked the refrigerate truck to be a temporary morgue out behind the sheriff`s office in Fort Morgan, Colorado. They got a Cargill meatpacking plant there.

In McKinley County, New Mexico, one hospital there in Gallup is fairly overwhelmed. These are doctors from that hospital protesting outside with the lack of staffing, the lack of protection, the lack of help and a huge surge in patients. That hospital, they had one pulmonologist on staff and one doctor who specializes in respiratory, that one pulmonologist just quit after working six straight weeks without a break.

The doctors and nurses there are protesting for help. McKinley County, in Gallup, New Mexico, they are adjacent to the Navajo Nation. The Navajo Nation has a per capita death rate from coronavirus that is higher than almost every other state in the country.

Doctors Without Borders, the Nobel Prize winning international relief organization has now sent in a steam to try to help the Navajo Nation, which is great with doctors without boards and they freaking know what they`re doing but it is astonishing and distressing that that`s what is needed in the United States of America.

The Indian Health Service is part of the federal government. It is under HHS, and Secretary Alex Azar. Right now, they are being bailed by international humanitarian groups that usually do this stuff in third world countries because our government can`t do it.

The federal government also, I should mention, appears to be the problem in the other major outbreak that is now afflicts the great state of New Mexico. The state`s governor, Michelle Lujan Grisham, is rip-roaring mad now, about 65 cases that have just emerged at a private detention center that holds people in Otero County, New Mexico.

This is a detention center that contracts with the federal government. They hold people for ICE, for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and for the U.S. Marshals, they had 65 cases there. Governor Lujan Grisham is now demanding that those federal facilities start widespread testing, and she basically demanded that they get their act together.

Quote: They didn`t take any of our standards for how you visit, how you`re training staff, what do you do for infection control, mandating that guards and staff have masks, and this is a huge failure in a federal system, she said. They weren`t doing it. They are very difficult to work with in this context. It is a total violation.

You know, once you got 65 cases, in the facilities, those 65 cases are not going to contain themselves to that facility. People who work there leave that facility and go home to their families at the end of every shift. Once you got 65 cases in a facility in that county, you`re going to have an outbreak in that county. That`s how it works.

And you know, it is one thing to have an absent or lame federal response to an epidemic, it is another thing where the federal government is actually the entity that is itself screwing up and not following the rules and not following infection control procedures and therefore, they are who is causing big outbreaks in your state.

But that`s what is happening in New Mexico now. That`s why that governor is so mad.

And you know, coast to coast, tip to tail, the federal response just continues to be absolutely terrible. It`s really not getting any better. I mean today, for some reason, the person at the Pentagon in charge of procuring equipment under the Defense Production Act, they just fired her without explanation. Sure seems like a good time. Doesn`t have anything to do with the fact that they just installed somebody at the Pentagon to check high level officials there for loyalty to President Trump.

Today, in Congress, a former senior vaccine development official, the head of BARDA, basically pulled all of the fire alarm about how bad the federal response has been thus far but importantly how bad it still is now.


DR. RICK BRIGHT, FORMER HEAD OF BARDA: We do not still have enough personal protective equipment, to manage our health care workers and protect them from influenza and COVID-19. We still do not have the supply chain ramped up for the drugs and vaccines, and we still don`t have plans in place how to distribute those drugs and vaccines. And we still do not have a comprehensive testing strategy so Americans know which tests do what, what to do with that information, and we know how to find this virus and trap it and kill it. There is a lot of work we still have to do.

REP. DEBBIE DINGELL (D-MI): We keep being told by the White House that we very soon, quick number, a matter of months, for that vaccine to be developed. This is your area of expertise. You are a top immunologist in the world.

Was there any scientific basis to suggest in March that we`ll have a vaccine in the next few months?

BRIGHT: There`s a lot of optimism. There`s a lot of hope. But that doesn`t make a vaccine. There is a lot of work that needs to be done to make a vaccine.

DINGELL: Will we be able to vaccinate people in the next few months?

BRIGHT: It`s very unlikely.

REP. KATHY CASTOR (D-FL): In your whistle-blower filing, you discussed a February 7th meeting of the department of leadership by which you urged the department to focus on securing N95 masks. Can you describe what happened at that meeting?

BRIGHT: They informed me that they did not believe there was a critical urgency to procure masks. They conducted survey, talked to a few hospitals and some companies and they didn`t yet see a critical shortage. And I indicated that we know there will be a critical shortage of these supplies, we need to do something to ramp up production. They indicated if we notice there is a shortage, that we will simply change the CDC guidelines to better inform people who should not be wearing those masks, so that would save those masks for our health care workers.

My response was, I cannot believe you can sit and say that with a straight face. That was absurd.


MADDOW: It was absurd.

That`s Dr. Rick Bright, top development -- vaccine development official, who is demoted recently by the Trump administration. He has filed this whistle-blower complaint because he wants his job back, at HHS. There is no sign the Trump administration is going to give it to him.

I think the thing that is most important here though, in terms of what Bright is blowing whistle on, is what we know now, not just about how screwed up things were for the past three months when this virus was spreading unabated in our country to the paint where it has now infected way more than a million of us and killed more than 85,000 Americans.

The important thing is not just what went wrong that allowed us to grow the largest epidemic on earth by far. The hard thing is that we`re still screwed up, we`re not getting better at the federal level, and honestly, the states that are blindly following the federal government`s peripatetic lead, they`re finding themselves marooned in this epidemic now without a way out of it.

Let me give just you one other example on this point. You might remember on the news, we covered it a few days ago, that the Trump administration had finally, finally recommended that all nursing home residents and staff should be tested for COVID-19, finally. After more than 25,000 Americans died in nursing homes in, like two months, finally they decided they would recommend testing for everybody in nursing homes. Great.

NBC News reports today that the federal government has done absolutely nothing since making that recommendation. They`ve done absolutely nothing to make it possible for nursing homes to do that testing. They`re just saying, hey, test. No money to do it? No means to do it. They`re just suggesting, now, two months in, hey, we think you should do this, and that is what counts as the federal government response to nursing homes.

Quote: Ask whether the agency would pay for universal testing in nursing homes, CMS, the federal agency responsible for nursing homes didn`t provide a direct response.

In New York state, Governor Andrew Cuomo has just told nursing homes there that he will strip their licenses, unless they test their employees, twice a week, from here on out, twice a week, every week. But then he sent out 110,000 testing kits to New York nursing homes which isn`t enough, but it at least recognizes that those two things should be linked, right?

And if you`re going to mandate testing, you also have to give people a way to do the testing. You also have to at least give them a start at it, because, yeah, basing this thing on science is harder than just making it up and saying everything`s fine. This is going to be really hard.

We got 85,000 Americans dead already. Finding our way out the other side of this is going to be hard and complex. We need people running things who are capable of understanding that, and operating in that kind of environment. I know it`s too much to ask of the federal level, but it`s what we need.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo joins us live next.



GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): My basic point is, do not underestimate this virus. It has beaten us at every turn. And it has surprised us at every turn.

Don`t take it lightly. Don`t underestimate it. I believe that facts will change as we go forward. The more we learn about the virus, the more the facts change, and the worst it gets.

There has been no news since we started this, where we were actually too cautious or too concerned. All the news has been bad, as far as I`m concerned.

So with all this information, with all the government is doing, hearings in Washington, all this -- you know who is going to protect you? You are.


MADDOW: There has been no news since we started where we were actually too cautious or too concerned.

Governor Andrew Cuomo delivering the latest from New York state at his daily briefing today.

Joining us now for the interview is Governor Cuomo.

Sir, I`m grateful for your time tonight. Thank you for being here.

CUOMO: Pleasure. Thanks for having me, Rachel.

MADDOW: I think, and correct me if I`m wrong, but I think this was the 75th straight day on which you have given a coronavirus briefing including Saturdays and Sundays and no days off since the first cases in New York. Is that right?

CUOMO: It feels just like yesterday, doesn`t it? No, it`s 75 days.

MADDOW: Let me ask -- I was really struck when you said there has been no news when we started this where we were too cautious or too concerned, all of the news has been bad -- 75 days into this, with everything that you have been through and that New York has been through, if you could go back and tell Governor Cuomo 75 days ago one key piece of information or two key pieces of information, what do you wish you could tell yourself then?

CUOMO: Yes, I wish I could go -- actually, if I could modify the request a little bit, Rachel, I would like to go back to last November, December, when we first heard about this in China and say, to the country, say to the world, a pandemic anywhere is a pandemic everywhere. When you hear that there is a virus spreading in China, beware because it may very well have gotten on a plane yesterday, and is on its way to you.

That`s where you have to rewind the tape, to get this right. We were talking about it in China in November, December, January, here, by the time we did the China travel ban, it was already gone. It left China. It went to Europe.

The cases we have here in New York, the East Coast, they came from Europe. We were all looking at China. The virus had already left China by the time we moved. So, that`s what I mean when I say we`ve been behind from day one, and day one started in China.

MADDOW: One of the things that you have said over the past 24 hours is, as one of the main sort of takeaways, one of the real lessons that we`ve learned here, is that we need to make critical medical supplies in the United States. We need domestic manufacturing capacity for the things we need to deal with, to keep ourselves safe and to be able to treat people, in this epidemic context.

Do you think that if we had that kind of manufacturing capacity, from the get-go, that it would have changed the overall contours of the epidemic, that it would saved a considerable number of lives?

CUOMO: You know, Rachel, there`s going to be so many lessons from this situation -- how it started, where the notice was from, et cetera.

On the equipment, I don`t know if it would have saved lives. I know it was a tremendous waste of time, tremendous waste of money. It was chaos compounded, that we can`t find enough masks and gowns, in this country.

And then you have 50 states, 50 governors, trying to buy everything from China, and trying to find brokers between the U.S. and China, and states bidding against other states, to buy the same masks from China.

I mean, how did we get to this position? And it was masks, it was gowns, now it`s testing agents, the reagents, we can`t find, they`re coming from other countries.

Well -- so, I don`t know if it actually would have cost additional lives, I know you had nurses and doctors going to emergency rooms, without the right precaution. I know that they suffered from the lack of PPE. I hope, I hope, I hope that we didn`t actually lose any lives because of it.

MADDOW: Of course, as you note, the shortages continue. And it`s not -- it`s not been the same short ages of the same equipment all along. Right now, it does feel like testing really is still constrained, both in New York, and around the country, by shortage of specific things that you need to be able to carry out tests and to process them.

I wanted to ask you about that in light of your order, to New York state nursing homes that they need to start testing all of their staff twice a week or they`re putting their licenses at risk. I know that you`ve sent out more than 100,000 test kits to nursing homes, to help them meet that mandate. But you know that it needs to be a lot more than that.

Are you confident that there will be enough tests for nursing homes to be able to do that, and that they will be able to get their hands on them?

CUOMO: Yes, I`m confident, Rachel, that there will be enough tests to do the employees of the nursing homes twice a week. That`s going to be our top priority, because that is the top priority. That`s the most vulnerable people and the most vulnerable situation. That`s how we were introduced to this virus, right, in Seattle, Washington.

So we can make that happen. We`re ramping up testing all across board. We`re now doing more testing per capita in New York than any state in the country, and more per capita than any country in the globe. So we`ve been aggressive ramping up the testing and we will do more.

I sent 110,000 kits but that`s just for the nursing homes to conduct the tests themselves. They can also go to the drive-throughs. We have drugstores that now are doing the tests. So there`s a lot of other testing mechanisms, but you`re exactly right.

On the PPE shortage, it has now become a testing supply shortage. And we had a period where we went back and forth with states with the federal government, who`s responsible for what, and the federal government was saying the states have to test. But the states couldn`t get the tests, and the laboratories in the states couldn`t get the supplies from the national manufacturers because the national manufacturers had an international supply chain that went back to China.

I mean, it`s -- you couldn`t, if you wrote this in a movie, they would say you went too far.

I then had a conversation with the president and we came up with a rough division of labor, where the federal government is going to do the supply chain issues to the national manufacturers, the states will then do the actual administration from the laboratories in those states.

But that supply chain still needs more work. We still are unprepared to do what we have to do in testing. It`s a scramble once again.

Now, on testing, Rachel, no one anticipated ever a testing capacity of this magnitude, right? So we`re building the airplane while we`re flying it. But we`re doing it on a 50-state basis, which gets back to your point in the opening.

Every state has to come up with the entire system to do this, whether it was PPE, or now testing, and the reagents, and the vials, so there has to be a better way than we`re doing it, but every state is doing what they can.

MADDOW: Do you feel like if we do have a second wave -- and again, waves hit different states and different localities at different times, and New York is in a different place than some of these other states that are reopening right now even when they`re very high up their curves and not coming down yet. I understand there is a heterogeneous experience of this in this country.

But if we do get a big national second wave of this in the fall, and New York finds itself back in the thick of it, and other states that have been hit hard, find themselves back in the thick of it, do you have hope that we would have a national unified response where everybody is pulling in the same direction, at least for the second wave? Or do you think it is going to be all a states for themselves again?

CUOMO: No, I don`t -- there`s no reason to think that you`re going to have a different response from the federal government. The federal government charted its course, and we know what that course is.

Now, I spent, as you know, eight years in the Clinton administration. I was secretary of Housing and Urban Development. I did all of the emergency management, participated in it during that time.

So I come from a very different school, right? And I do believe the federal government, this was -- this was a federally declared emergency, right, that normally means the federal government is the lead agent. And I believe that you could have a more muscular, more intelligent federal government`s response here, rather than leaving it to 50 states, right?

Today, they did the CDC guidelines as you mentioned. But how could any state really open without CDC guidelines? There had to be one national definition of what is safe. You know, safe can be defined, there are numbers.

What`s the increasing number of deaths, increasing number of tests, what`s the infection rate, and what`s the RT, what do you call safe? Come up with definition and say to the states, here`s the definition.

And that`s what we`re doing in New York, we have one definition of safe based on numbers, 62 counties, OK, this is what defined as safe. Counties, you can work as hard as you can to get to that definition.

But there should have been a national definition of safe that the states then have to follow. You want to call it CDC guidance, fine.

The supplies, PPE, test kits, I think that should have been handled federally. Let the federal government purchase it on behalf of the states. Why are states competing with each other?

The number of tests set, what is safe, and appropriate, for the number of tests? And then help provide that number -- the supplies for that number of tests in that state.

Tracing, what`s the right number of tracers? And let`s nationalize the protocol, what does tracing mean? Nationalize the training, and then let the states execute by those national standards.

That`s what the federal government could have done. They didn`t do it. They left it to these 50 different states, with no real guidance, or national standard.

You`re right, New York, the curve is coming down, you take New York out, the curve is going up, Rachel, and they`re opening, you know, by what standard?

So, it`s -- I don`t think that is going to change for the second wave, if there is a second wave, because that`s the federal course, and the ship has sailed.

MADDOW: Governor, one of the things that`s happened in states that don`t have as many cases as New York, and nobody has had as many cases as New York, but in the heartland of the country, we saw states and counties, even municipalities -- sorry, cities, that didn`t have very many cases but then did have very large outbreak, hundreds and hundreds of cases that were associated with specific workplaces, and it`s mostly been these meat processing plants, places like South Dakota and Iowa and Minnesota, and Nebraska.

And there doesn`t seem to be a standard in terms of how those outbreaks get handled, how information around them gets handled, how they get ultimately contained, how communities can prepare themselves when that sort of thing happened in a workplace.

You in New York now have a food processing plant that`s got a significant number of cases up in Rome, New York, and Oneida. Green Empire Farm, they got 169 cases there among 340 workers.

I don`t feel like we`re coming up with a national standard for how to deal with something like that. But as a governor who has dealt with more of this crisis than anybody else, how are you going to tackle that problem at that one food processing plant? And do you expect that it will be one of several?

CUOMO: Short answer is yes, I do expect that.

And this has nothing to do with meat, right? I go to meat processing plants and a lot of people say what is there about meat? It`s not about the meat. It`s not about the agricultural farm.

It`s about the density. It`s about the gathering. It`s about that size, and all it takes is one. The rule of one works, Rachel.

All you need is one person who is infected in a mass gathering, a large gathering, with density, and they become a super spreader. Another new term I never heard before. But now I never want to hear again.

We had the first hot spot in the United States. It wasn`t in New York City, it was in New Rochelle, Westchester County, suburban county.

And it had nothing to do with the demographics. It was one person who was positive who went to a couple of gatherings, that had 100, 200 people at the gatherings, and now you had the hot spot in the nation.

The processing plants, you have a thousand workers, you have one who gets infected and now it`s fire through dry grass.

So, look, we learn the hard way here in New York. But again, go back to the facts. Go back to the science. Go back to the testing and the tracing, the hospitalization rate, the infection rate. We know how to isolate.

It just has to be done. It has to be standardized and executed. And that`s what we`re doing in New York.

It would be nice if we had a national standard to all of this. So, it wasn`t states informally sharing best practices. I talked to other governors, and we share information.

But you could have had a national standard, and all the states then can follow the national standard, and it would have been nice if there was funding that went along with that. But this will happen in other parts of the country. I`m -- I`ll bet you tonight that you`ll see it pop up wherever you have density and gatherings, and it only takes one. The rule of one.

MADDOW: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo -- sir, I hope when we speak again, whether it`s now, sometime 75 days from now or sometime sooner than that, we`re speaking very different circumstances.

This has been a heck of a marathon for you, sir. Thanks for taking the time to be here and continued -- continued good luck. Stay in touch with us.

CUOMO: Thanks. Well, I hope to speak to you before it`s over, Rachel, because I`m too big of a fan and that is too long of a period of time.

MADDOW: I hear you. Don`t tell your brother. Thank you, sir.

CUOMO: He knows.

MADDOW: All right, more ahead tonight. Stay with us.


MADDOW: It was a dramatic thing today. When the chairman of the very powerful intelligence committee in the Senate stepped down from his chairmanship, it was all the more dramatic for it to have happened because the FBI executed a search warrant and seized his cell phone from him at his house.

The seizure of Senator Richard Burr`s cell phone is apparently part of the FBI investigating him selling up to $1.7 million in stock in mid February when nobody was telling us the public how bad the coronavirus pandemic was about to get, when Senator Burr himself was assuring the public that everything was going to be fine, but his Intelligence Committee was receiving daily briefings how bad it really was and then he dumped his stock.

So him giving up his chairmanship of the intelligence committee and the FBI investigation into what he did, that is a very, very dramatic thing. But one of the absolutely unique ways in which our current federal government is so terrible right now is, that as bad as the insider trading allegations are, against Senator Burr, we also simultaneously have to worry whether the U.S. Justice Department, under Attorney General William Barr, might be targeting Senator Burr for reasons that are less about insider trading and more about convenience to the Trump administration.

Senator Burr, you will recall, has led the only functional bipartisan congressional investigation into Russia interference in the 2016 election. His committee`s findings have supported the intelligence committee`s conclusions that, for example, that Russia interfered in the 2016 election to support Donald Trump`s candidacy. That`s something Donald Trump continues to deny as recently as an interview that aired this morning.

More to the point though, Senator Burr`s committee is set to release its final report in the Russia issue on coming months and that installment, that last installment we`re expecting is on, quote, possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia. That`s what Burr`s working on right now. But he`s had to step down as chair of the committee.

It`s crazy that we have to think about these things in these terms. But given this Justice Department, and this attorney general, and the way he has treated the criminal law, is something that is to be applied at will, purely to serve the president`s interests, when we hear that the search warrant for Senator Burr, chair of the Intelligence Committee, would have to have been approved at the highest levels of this particular Justice Department, we have to worry about it.

How worried should we actually be?

Hold that thought.



REPORTER: Can you explain to us at all what happens tomorrow or last night I should say?

SEN. RICHARD BURR (R-NC): No, it`s part of the investigation and everybody ought to let this investigation play out.

REPORTER: Are you planning to participate and cooperate with investigators?

BURR: I have been since the beginning.


MADDOW: I would say dogged CNN reporter chasing down Senator Richard Burr who resigned as chair of the Intelligence Committee today, after the FBI seized his cell phone as part of an insider trading investigation.

Joining us is Barbara McQuade, former U.S. attorney from the great state of Michigan.

Barbara, it`s great to have you here tonight. Let me -- let me start by asking you if there is anything we can read into the fact that a senator just had his cell phone seized pursuant to a search warrant. Does that tell you anything as a prosecutor in terms of how much trouble he may be in or how far along this thing may be?

BARBARA MCQUADE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Yes, it tells us a couple things. One is that a judge made a finding of probable cause to believe that a crime has be committed and evidence of that crime will be found on that phone. And the other thing is a search warrant doesn`t usually occur until later in an investigation because one, you have to accumulate enough evidence to demonstrate probable cause and also, it is an overt stage of the investigation.

So, at that point, you want to have exhausted all of the covert things you might have done because by the time you issue a search warrant, you have tipped off the subject that you are investigating.

MADDOW: Do you think it`s nuts to worry that this might have anything to do with Senator Burr`s role on the Intelligence Committee, the president`s anger at that committee`s Russia investigation? I mean, I -- under any other year of my life, I would never worry about that as a potential motivating force for the Justice Department doing something as extreme as going after a sitting senator like this, but I do find myself worrying about that now because of Bill Barr.

MCQUADE: Yes, ordinarily, I would say it`s a bit farfetched but this is the cost of an attorney general who does things that undermine public trust in the Department of Justice, because it causes skepticism when they do something like this because what we`re hearing today is we see Richard Burr is perhaps a subject or target of investigation. We have not seen similar evidence of other senators who also sold their stocks.

Now, I don`t know we would know that there may have been investigative steps for senators and may not have reached the stage or there may not be evidence of probable cause for senators to suggest they are being treated differently. But nonetheless, I think that this attorney general invited those kinds of conspiracy theories.

MADDOW: And it makes like I can -- I criticize myself as I say these things because it seems so farfetched and I just remember what we`ve covered in terms of his behavior over the past few months. And so, it`s difficult -- it`s difficult to talk about this stuff. It`s upsetting.

Former U.S. Attorney Barb McQuade, thank you for taking time to join us tonight, Barb. It`s great to see you.

We`ll be right back. Stay with us.


MADDOW: I am going to skedaddle right now because like you, I`m super excited for the special edition of "THE LAST WORD" starts right now. Former Vice President Joe Biden with Stacey Abrams, they`re going to be taking audience questions. This is goingto be awesome.

Stay right where you are. Here we go.


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