CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, "ALL IN": 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. Have an excellent weekend. Much appreciated.
HAYES: You too.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour as well.
Actually, thanks to you at home for joining us this hour and a half tonight. You know what? Nothing is the same. Time has no meaning. All days of the week are just days that end in "y" now. I haven`t tied my shoes in weeks.
So why not spread THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW out into 90 minutes instead of an hour on a Friday night? Who are you going to complain to? The boss?
I mean, the boss at this point is just like any of us. The boss is just another, you know, inch and a half tall head in a tiny Zoom box that sometimes cuts out in the middle of the meeting, especially when he`s talking. I mean, it`s anarchy at this point.
So, thanks for being here tonight for this hour and a half. Let`s do this thing.
All right. We start tonight in beautiful Wright County, Minnesota. W-R-I-G- H-T. Wright County. It`s sort of on the way between Minneapolis and St. Cloud. Beautiful part of the country. Beautiful part of the state.
You know they call Minnesota the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Wright County is one of the places that makes that make sense. The towns in Wright County are like Smith Lake and Howard Lake, and French Lake, and Maple Lake.
And in between, Maple Lake, Minnesota, and the next town over, which is called Annandale, there are two Catholic churches between those two towns, Saint Ignatius and Saint Timothy`s. These are two pretty small towns. They`re less than ten miles apart.
There`s 2,000 or 3,000 people in both Maple Lake and in Annandale. And while that, you know, five or ten miles between Saint Ignatius and Saint Timothy`s is enough distance to justify having two separate Catholic churches for those two towns, it`s apparently not enough to justify having two different sets of clergy serving those two churches.
So between Annandale and Maple Lake, Minnesota, between Saint Ignatius and Saint Timothy`s, the same three priests oversee the services for both churches in both towns. They split themselves between the two churches.
There`s Father Meyer, Father Andrew, and Monsignor Callahan. And between the three of them, they take care of services at both those churches and both of those towns.
Now, you might have seen some of the national headlines this week that were generated by the Catholic bishops in Minnesota. Kind of pounded their chests this week and proclaimed that they would defy the state public health orders in Minnesota. They declared that Catholic churches in Minnesota would break the state rules, designed to limit the spread of coronavirus, the bishops declared that Catholic churches in Minnesota will open up and celebrate mass in person with their congregations this weekend, regardless of what Minnesota public health officials and the Minnesota governor have said is necessary to deal with the epidemic there.
So you might have seen these headlines, whether or not you live in Minnesota, because the bishops got national attention, for their letter announcing that they would defy the law.
Quote: How can reason require us any longer to keep our faithful from coming to mass, to receive communion, to receive the Eucharist?
That`s what is happening broadly in Minnesota. But in Maple Lake, Minnesota, and nearby Annandale, Minnesota, in little Wright County, at Saint Ignatius and Saint Timothy`s churches, that battle cry from the bishops statewide is landing sort of awkwardly in those communities.
Here`s the letter from Father Meyer to his congregation at Saint Timothy`s this week. Quote: I`m sharing this in light of masses in the days ahead. While you may have read that the archbishop has allowed for churches to open and have public masses again, we will need to see how things transpire for the clergy here at Saint Timothy`s and Saint Ignatius before proceeding. I know you are all understandably eager to have the sacraments again as soon as possible. I am eager to celebrate mass with all of you.
Obviously, however, we do not want to spread the virus, and want to make sure that the clergy have either tested negative, or overcome the symptoms of the virus for a number of days before celebrating mass with you.
Quote, yesterday, afternoon, we learned that some parishioners of Saint Ignatius, with whom Father Andrew and I have been in contact tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. Father Andrew has just now tested positive as well.
Monsignor Callahan and I have recently developed symptoms and are awaiting our own test results. The parishioners of Saint Ignatius should also be aware that at least one of the volunteers who helped with the distribution of flowers for Mother`s Day has been feeling unwell and was exposed to others with the virus. I wanted to share this so that you are aware and could be especially attentive to any symptoms that might develop if you have recently interacted with even the clergy.
I wanted to share this now so you are aware that why we may not come back to public masses as soon as other churches. With all three clergy potentially infected, it may be nearly impossible it do in the near future.
With all three churches, clergy down with the virus, we may not be able to open up in defiance of the health orders as the bishops are saying across the state. That`s happening in Wright County, Minnesota.
This is Texas. This is the Holy Ghost Catholic church in Bellaire, Texas, which is part of the sprawling Houston metropolitan area. At Holy Ghost, they reopened and started doing mass for their parishioners again at the beginning of this month because Texas`s Republican Governor Greg Abbott told churches across the state of Texas that it was fine and they needed to reopen.
Well, last week, one of the priests from Holy Ghost died. Five of the other priests at the religious order where he lived have also now tested positive. The archdiocese in Houston has now sent out a warning to everybody in the Parish, quote, if you have attended masses in person at Holy Ghost church since the reopening on May 2nd, you are strongly encouraged to monitor your health for any symptoms and be tested for COVID- 19. This is according to the archdiocese. Not your typical archdiocese communication.
But again, the governor of Texas told all of the churches in the state to reopen. And they did. But now, with one priest dead, five others down from the virus, Holy Ghost has reclosed its doors. Despite Governor Abbott`s order that they ought to reopen.
And you know, this is not a new phenomenon in this American epidemic. It has been this way from the very beginning. Contact tracing has told us so.
A woman named Viola Horton attended a rural church service at a Baptist congregation in rural Marion County, West Virginia, back on March 15th. Her sister was the reverend at the church and celebrating her anniversary as the leader of that church. That gathering at that one church in West Virginia, that one day, is estimated to have infected 30 percent of the people who were in attendance. Five people who attended that church celebration that one day were hospitalized by the end of the first week after that service. Ms. Viola Horton was dead within two weeks of that service, and she was the first person in West Virginia who is known to have died from coronavirus.
Last month in Kentucky, health officials traced more than 30 coronavirus cases and three deaths, and community spread of the disease across multiple counties, including into a Kentucky meatpacking plant, they traced all of those cases back to a single church revival meeting, in Hopkins County, Kentucky.
In California, right now, a single church service on Mother`s Day is being blamed for new clusters of the virus in Lake County and Mendocino County, California. In Butte County, California, right now, they are trying to track down 180 people who attended a congregate church service in person in defiance of the public health order in that states, that prohibited such gatherings.
Public health officials are trying to find everybody who went to that church service, because they learned that at least one person at that service tested positive the day after that service, and so they`re now trying to contact trace the whole congregation, because at that event, it seems like they were all exposed.
Last month, one of the first CDC formal reports, first report tracing a large cluster of cases in Chicago, identified one church service on one day, as one of the places where documented new infections took place. The new one that came out from CDC this week traces another cluster to a church in rural Arkansas, where the pastor and his wife did not know that they were infected but they were, and over the course of one week, they infected 38 percent of their congregation, and so far, three people have died.
I was also surprised to learn this today about what now counts as the worst outbreak in the country, the outbreak at the Navajo Nation, which spans parts of three different states, a little bit of Utah, also New Mexico, and Arizona. "The Arizona Republic" did great work today teasing out of the data geographically specific information about that outbreak on the Navajo Nation to try to figure out how bad it is there, but how bad it is compared with other parts of the country.
And what "The Arizona Republic" was able to find is that in the northern, particularly isolated part, of the Navajo Nation, the number of cases per population in specific regions there is higher than even in the worst-hit zip codes in New York City. And Navajo health officials also say that that worst-hit region within Navajo Nation is where they think the Navajo Nation outbreak began, and they have traced the beginning of the Navajo Nation outbreak, which again is the worst one in the country, they have traced it back to a specific church revival meeting, on a specific day, in early march, in the Navajo Nation. That`s where they believe it took hold. And now again, that is the worst outbreak in America, worst per capita, than the hardest-hit zip codes in New York City.
So when the president today pounded his chest a little bit and announced that he will insist, as president, that all church services be held in person, this weekend, all over the country, and he will somehow magically override any state rule, that would seek to prohibit that kind of a gathering, I mean the president, you know, knows what he`s playing with in doing that. This has been an out-loud documented up front part of our experience in this epidemic from the very beginning.
And no, the president does not have the power to overrule state public health rules and demand that all churches hold in person services but him trying to create the impression that he has that power will have some of that effect anyway. And so, you know, we will see what the president has wrought for this weekend in America, in the middle of the worst epidemic on earth.
And then in, what, three weeks or so, in some places, if we`re lucky, we will be able to do the contact tracing for what happens this weekend. And once they`ve done the contact tracing, presumably we will be able to give him all the credit he deserves for what will happen this weekend because we know what will happen at church services held in the open in congregate this weekend, we know what will happen because we`re already living through it at a smaller scale from earlier on in this epidemic in America, when the total number of cases in the community was smaller than it is right now.
We already know what church services have done, in terms of creating what turn into large clusters. In one case, which turns, into what is now the largest outbreak in the country, the worst outbreak in the country. I mentioned New York as a point of comparison for the Navajo Nation. I should tell you this -- this to me is still the big picture tail of where we are at as a country. It`s one very simple graph. That we`ve been updating day by day and it shows cases of coronavirus over time.
New York is the blue line there. You can see how they have squashed their curve down and gone flat in terms of adding new cases in New York. The other line is the rest of the country, minus New York. So, really, it`s New York that is coming down. The rest of the country just keeps going up, up, up, ain`t no stopping us now.
You keep hearing this news about how the United States is really, is flattening out in terms of our new cases, in terms of the shape of our epidemic. The shape of the epidemic in this country is not flattening out. New York is doing better, and the rest of the country is, and that has consequences, as we head into this fine Memorial Day weekend and the states are opening up with abandon.
The great state of Arkansas just logged its largest daily increase in cases yet. Since the beginning of the epidemic, they`ve never had a larger daily increase in cases, than they have just had. In the same breath that he announced that, the governor of Arkansas, Asa Hutchison, also announced that, you know, in addition to having more new cases today than any other day thus far, we`re also announcing that sports events are back on. Congregate sports events. Play ball.
In Florida, nice beach weather coming this weekend. Yesterday, Florida announced its highest daily case numbers since mid-April. So, you know, open everything up.
There`s going to be a 70-team youth baseball tournament held in Brevard County in Florida this weekend, 70 teams. They`re expecting 1,500 people all together, for that baseball tournament this weekend. Just had their largest case numbers in more than a month.
In Alabama, their numbers have been rising all month long in terms of new daily cases. Last night we had the mayor of Montgomery, Alabama, here on the show. Montgomery, of course, is Alabama`s capital city. The mayor was here, because he is raising the alarm that his city`s hospital capacity in Alabama is in his words maxed out.
As of today, ICU beds in Montgomery, Alabama, are at 97 percent occupancy, heading into the holiday weekend. And the case numbers in Montgomery just continue to rise. The governor of Alabama actually took questions on the situation in Montgomery today and then in the same breath announced a further loosening of the rules statewide. The rules designed to keep people from further spreading the virus in that state.
Good luck, Montgomery hospitals. Good luck, doctors and nurses. Good luck. Let`s see what you can do with what you`ve got.
It is not just a phenomenon in the South. In Omaha, Nebraska, today, the medical director at one medical center, announced they are at 80 percent capacity now and seeing steady growth upwards, which is the lead in the "Omaha World Herald", quote, hospitalizations in the Omaha metro area are in a worrisome upward climb. And just a little further down in the same article, quote, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts says he feels comfortable loosening restrictions in the state.
The director of that medical center was actually at a coronavirus town hall event with the governor last night. It was like they were broadcasting from two different planets. He is saying, I feel great. Everything seems good. Let`s loosen up.
And she`s saying, I run this medical center in the largest city in the state and we are filling up, steadily and it is very worrying. She said last night, quote, I`ll tell you, now is the time to be wearing a mask.
Did you see this week, these haven`t been circulated widely, I think they should be, they are amazing, did you see the wear a mask PSAs that New York state showed off this week? They`re not official. As I understand it, New York asked people to submit their own public service announcements about why you should wear a mask and what they circulated this week which is what I believe are the finalists, the best one, according to the state, and they`re really good. They`re also really, really, really New York.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEW YORK PSA: I love New York. We love New York. We`re stuck inside our homes. Every day heroes have been working overtime. New York, to reopen. And stay open. We all need to do our part. And show that we care.
Look, man. I wear a mask to protect you. We wear a mask to protect me. Let`s all wear a mask. To stop the spread of coronavirus. And save lives.
When we show up in a mask, we`re showing up for each other. Show your love for New York. As New York loves you.
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: The test book says politicians lead. No. Sometimes the people lead. And the politicians follow.
Follow the American people. They will do the right thing. There`s still a right thing. Maybe right thing is a New York expression.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: #NewYorkTough. They`re really good, right? Aren`t they good?
But they are also the most New York thing in the world. I mean sometimes in New York, you feel like there`s America, and there`s New York. Other times you feel like New York is kind of the capital of America, the nongovernment capital of America. And then you see stuff like this and you think that`s very New York specific.
The reason you`ve got masks like that, that is so New York specific, is because New York is taking the mask thing really seriously. Even as New York`s curve is coming down, and the rest of the country is going up, New York is taking additional mitigation measures very seriously.
Meanwhile, in the rest of the country, where things are heading that the Memorial Day weekend, all of these states are opening back up. All of these states on this list here have no recommendation or requirement for people to wear masks, when they are out and about. We think at least three of these states have no recommendation or requirement for anybody to wear masks either as a resident, or at any place of business.
I mean, the CDC actually does have an overt recommendation for the whole country that people wear masks. But there`s no national effort to promote it, like New York City, and New York, are trying to develop their own New York-specific promotions of this idea. They`re doing it because nobody else is. There`s no national effort.
There`s a national recommendation, no national effort to promote it, lots of state where they`re not even requiring it or recommending it, the president and the vice president undermine the mask recommendation personally whenever they can.
You know, at the start of this epidemic, the CDC used to give their own briefings about what the American people should know and should do to protect themselves. The kinds of briefings where you might expect them to underscore the need to make, the need to wear a mask.
The CDC doesn`t do those briefings anymore. They haven`t done them since early March. The "Washington Post" editorial page making a good case this week that just that one change, having the CDC return to briefing the American people directly, would be a big leap forward toward us starting to rationally deal with this crisis.
But we don`t have that, instead we still have these White House circuses. Today, Dr. Deborah Birx stood up in front of a graph, apparently designed to make it look like things were getting much better, a nice downward sloping graph always soothes the eyes in the grips of an epidemic.
What it was that she was showing is just a graph showing the amount of testing being done in each state and they stacked the drafts and the ones doing the most testing are on the left side and the states doing the least testing will be on the right side of the graph, so it will give you that soothing feeling, to see bars in the bar chart declining left to right, from a lot to nothing. It looks like it`s declining overtime, but it`s not declining overtime at all. It`s just set up to look that way, at a glance, right?
That`s misleading. That`s just the states organized by which states are doing less testing and that`s not testing getting better or states getting better at a time. Really? At a glance, it feels awesome, though. Look how small it is, over there on the right, by Oregon.
The president`s, you know, boosting of that malaria drug saying he`s taking it, all the doctors are taking it, all of the frontline health providers are taking it. They`re not taking it. The president is saying it is a preventive to keep you from getting coronavirus. It`s not a preventive to keep you from getting coronavirus.
That moved on from absurd and sort of insane to a potentially deadly threat today when "The Lancet" published the results of a new study of nearly 100,000 coronavirus patients on multiple continents. Those who were given the drug the president has been huckstering for suffered a significantly higher risk of death compared with patients who did not take that drug.
I mean, we`re still here. We`re still at the bottom of the morass with the government getting worse and not better over time. And so, for us civilians, for us citizens, knowing this is our time on earth and we`ll have to answer for our behavior too and what we tried to do for our country, how do -- how can we get good public health understanding among American citizens? How can we get good public health understanding, good buy-in to necessary public health behaviors to keep ourselves safe?
How do we get people to both understand and embrace self-protective behavior? How do we empower Americans to make smart, real, science-based decisions that will protect themselves and their families? How can we do that when instead of credible public health authorities to tell us what`s what, we just have this terrible government that lies to us constantly about this stuff, and in the person of the president, that gives us, you know, made-up, on the spot advice that might literally kill you? How do we get any better at this when this is the government that we`ve got?
Well, we do what we can. We make our own PSAs about wearing masks and send them in to the state government in New York and see if they`re going to use them as an official state PSA.
I came across another really cool thing this week in Arizona. A group of Arizona medical students designed -- look at how cool this is -- designed these excellent and effective and beautiful COVID information posters in Spanish.
The state of Arizona was doing some posters in Spanish that proved to be way too ignorable to be much good, and so a group of medical students in Arizona designed really cooler ones that are way more resonant. Look. Aren`t these awesome?
You might remember a couple months ago we interviewed a young medical student who had made the decision to graduate early and upend all her plans for the start of her medical career so she could instead go work on the front lines at the height of the epidemic at Bellevue public hospital in New York City.
That young daughter just finished her tour there at Bellevue. We`re going to talk to her about how that went tonight on this show. I mean, we have a terrible government right now, I am very sorry to say.
It is a terrible time to have a terrible government, but that does not mean we`re not a great country. Our country is more than just our government, and you are seeing innovation and dedication among people to do the best and to try to innovate our way out of this even though we have to do so around a government that is mostly just making it worse.
We are honestly having to make it up without help a lot of the way, and that`s kind of a theme right now in the news as we head into this Memorial Day weekend with the president pledging that everything must be ripped open regardless of how poorly things are going in places that ought to be protecting themselves.
So, we`ve got a bunch ahead tonight, a bunch of good guests, a bunch of stories you haven`t heard anywhere else about where this thing is worst and where Americans are doing the most themselves to make it better.
We`ve got a big night tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: So, this is unsettling. This is not the way it is supposed to go. On April 11th, safety regulators inside the Iowa state government got a complaint saying that workers at a Tyson meatpacking plant in Perry, Iowa, were being exposed to the risk of infection because of crowded working conditions inside that plant. The complaint said that employees were working elbow to elbow, that social distancing was not happening at all in the production areas inside that plant.
And at the time that complaint was filed with the state, meat processing plants around the country were reporting outbreaks and a bunch of plants were getting closed down. Just days before the complaint, another Tyson plant also in the state of Iowa also had been forced to shut down after hundreds of workers there got infected.
But despite all that going on at the time, despite the known risks and the known dangers, despite that detailed complaints about what was happening inside that one plant in Perry, Iowa, these safety regulators in the Iowa state government, they did nothing.
"The Associated Press" obtained records about the way they handled that complaint. What those records revealed is that it took the state nine days to even ask the plant for a response to those allegations in the complaint, to even ask the plant what was going on in terms of the situation in Perry. The state regulators never visited the plant for an inspection at all.
Instead after waiting nine days and asking Tyson for a response, they said that Tyson`s response, was, quote, satisfactory. More than two weeks after that, state regulators closed the case without taking any action. Again, they never even bothered to pop by and take a look.
And that might have been the end of the story were it not for the fact that one week later, 730 of the workers at that plant in Perry, Iowa, tested positive for coronavirus, 58 percent of its workforce. State regulators had been notified weeks earlier about what was going on there. They said, we`re sure it`s fine. We`re not even going to go by. Close the complaint.
"Des Moines Register" reports this week that a similar complaint was filed against the JBS meat processing plant in Marshalltown, Iowa, and it`s unclear whether regulators ever did anything about that complaint either. But at that JBS plant in Marshalltown, Iowa, at least dozens of employees there have also now reportedly tested positive for coronavirus as well, not that you`d know from talking to the plant or talking to the state of Iowa, which is trying to keep this information as closely held as possible. The state has been of no help even as hundreds, thousands of meat processing workers in the state have been infected on the job.
And so, we`ve been covering this for a while, right? It`s clear that the problem in meat processing plants isn`t going away. The president ordering them all to be open didn`t turn out to be a panacea for keeping people from getting infected there. But beyond the situation in meat processing plants, we are now seeing more and more all over the country that other congregate work environments, other places where people work together for hours on end, particularly in manufacturing or some processing plants, those places are also now starting to see large outbreaks in workplaces of all different kinds.
This seems to me like the next phase. You look at local news around the country, and you see these reports everywhere. You start to aggregate them, and you realize this is more than just a blip here and there. This appears to be sort of the next wave of the way people are getting -- the way Americans are getting infected when they go to work.
With more and more states opening up workplaces, this is what we`re starting to see more and more. Today, the Denver Department of Public Health ordered the closure of a U.S. Postal Service facility.
And it`s not just any postal service facility. It`s not like a local post office. This is a sorting facility that handles all of the mail for the entire state of Colorado and the entire state of wyoming. The Denver Public Health Department ordered that facility shut down after workers at that facility tested positive for coronavirus and inspectors couldn`t get in to see what works conditions were like.
That USPS shutdown in Colorado, which could have very large consequences, that comes just one day after we learned of an outbreak at a UPS facility in Tucson, Arizona. Union officials say at least 36 workers at that UPS facility have tested positive and three of them are sick enough to have been admitted to intensive care units. There have been lots of cases at Amazon warehouse facilities across the country. Already eight employees all working at different Amazon warehouses across the country have died from coronavirus.
In Georgia, we`ve been keeping our eyes on a major outbreak at a nuclear power plant of all places. More than 230 workers have been infected at a nuclear power plant. Officials in North Dakota have been grappling with a surge in cases at a wind turbine plant, nothing about wind turbines specifically that puts you more at risk for getting the virus. But if you work in a manufacturing environment, that`s elbow to elbow where you`re closely confined with other works day after day, that`s just as good as anywhere. More than 140 employees of that wind turbine plant have been infected.
A beauty supply factory outside of Chicago was recently forced to shut down after one of its workers died from coronavirus. There have been more than 100 cases reported at a Rhode Island facility that packages salads. Halfway across the country in Colorado, there was a cheese processing plant that was first to shut down after a large outbreak there.
I mean, you`re seeing this in state after state in all different kinds of processing and manufacturing facilities, any place where people are working in congregate. A mushroom plant in Tennessee. A crawfish farm in Louisiana. Any of a dozen or so seasonal farms across southern New Jersey. And it is reaching a boiling point for Americans who work in these environments.
For the past few weeks, hundreds of fruit packing workers in Yakima Valley, Washington, have gone on strike demanding higher wages but also safer work conditions in terms of exposure to the virus. More than 350 agricultural workers in that area have already become infected with the virus. Yakima County, Washington.
And we`re seeing stories like this all across the country day after day after day. We`ve started to realize as a country there`s a problem in meat processing plants. But now with the country beginning to reopen, workplaces beginning to reopen, we`ve got to get our heads around the fact we`re seeing outbreaks in all sorts of facilities where workers work, travel, or live together in congregate.
How do we begin to deal with this problem and learn to keep ourselves safe?
Joining us now is Jessica Martinez. She`s co-executive director for National Council for Occupational Safety and Health.
Ms. Martinez, it`s a real pleasure to have you with us tonight. Thanks for making time.
JESSICA MARTINEZ, NATIONAL COUNCIL FOR OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH, CO- DIRECTOR: Thank you so much, Rachel, for having me. I appreciate the time.
MADDOW: Let me ask you first in terms of the way I have explained this so far, if that comports with your understanding, if you and your organization are looking at this through a different lens or if I`ve gotten anything wrong?
MARTINEZ: Yeah, so I`m here representing National COSH. We`re a federation of local COSH advocating, promoting health and safety working conditions. We`re getting calls every day from workers who are scared to death of going to work. They`re scared for good reasons.
Essential workers are dying all over the U.S., and that doesn`t limit itself to meat processing workers, but health care, postal workers, farm workers, transit, grocery workers. We`ve documented hundreds of deaths on our website and that is representative of a fraction.
This isn`t just a problem for essential workers. Infectious disease doesn`t stay contained in the workplace. We know as soon as that worker steps out potentially infected, it is impacting communities, neighborhoods, public spaces. So this is an issue for all of us to take into our hands and take action.
As a result, our organization released a just return to work report after receiving tons of calls from workers, efforts to organize. We know that now, workers are feeling more empowered to make demands, taking matters out of their hands. We`ve seen 200-plus walkouts, sick leaves, big companies like an Amazon, Instacart.
Just last week, we know that Ford workers in Michigan walked out as soon as they found out a worker tested positive for COVID-19.
So with that said, we know that workers have the power to be able to make these demands both to the employer, government agencies. We know the federal agencies at this moment, OSH in particular, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, who has responsibility to ensure health and safety working conditions for all workers across the country, has minimized their enforcement. COVID-19 has killed more workers in this short period of this pandemic, yet not one citation has been given to an employer because of COVID-19. That is a huge problem.
Now is the time to have more enforcement for government agencies. Former chief of OSHA, Mr. David Michaels, had assured us that OSHA has the teeth to be able to have the authority to put emergency standards in place. We`re seeing less of this.
CDC guidelines are too weak. We`re more and more seeing voluntary programs as the states are starting to reopen. Voluntary programs are not the language we need to hear. Right now, it`s mandatory programs as we`re seeing more and more workers are impacted.
MADDOW: Let me just underscore and make sure I understood something you just said. In terms of the federal -- there is a part of the federal government that is responsible for making sure that people work in a safe environment, OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Out of all the people who have been infected on the job and all of the people who have been infected on the job who have died, OSHA has yet to issue a single citation to any workplace in the entire country for --
MARTINEZ: That`s right.
MADDOW: -- for COVID-19 safety issues?
MARTINEZ: That`s right. That`s right.
MADDOW: That`s absolutely astonishing.
MARTINEZ: It is astonishing.
And again, you know, it`s a problem with enforcement. We know that particularly this pandemic has long-standing inequities in our country. We`re all focused on it now, but for far too long, we know that the low pay and dangerous conditions faced by millions of workers has particularly impacted black and brown communities.
Black and brown communities have the highest mortality rates around COVID- 19. We know that Latino workers make up 18 percent of the working population, and 35 percent of slaughterhouse workers are Latinos. African- Americans make 12 percent, but 34 percent of those are correctional officers.
These are essential workers. These are the folks that are having to go to work on a daily basis to protect their livelihood. We are putting a gun at these workers essentially.
If they stay home, they`re not making enough of a living wage. They can`t provide for their families, pay rent. If they go home, they`re not enough protections and we`re not ensuring the safety protocols to ensure that they do not get infected.
It`s really, really amplified a probably that we`ve had across this country in terms of inequities. There`s no law that says black and brown workers have to get the most dangerous job. That`s discrimination pure and simple, and it has to change.
MADDOW: Jessica Martinez, co-executive director for the National Council of Occupational Safety and Health, thanks for your time this evening. What you`re talking about in terms of there been 200 walkouts around the country and workers all over the place standing up for themselves to try to get safer standards, that`s something we`re interested in covering in an ongoing way. So, please stay it touch with us. It`s good to have you here.
MARTINEZ: Thank you. Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. We`ve got much more to get to tonight.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: On this theme in the news right now how Americans are trying to fix stuff ourselves despite a government that is more a part of this problem than it is even anywhere near the solution, look at this. This was yesterday.
In a whole bunch of places across New York state where nurses and frontline nursing home workers stood outside their workplaces to protest the lack of protective gear to keep themselves safe and to protest short staffing at nursing homes. Signs like, you know, we are essential. We are essential too. Get me PPE.
Nursing home workers basically saying, hey, we are just as much on the front lines here in terms of working with coronavirus patients as other health workers are, and we need some help.
This holiday weekend, there`s going to be candlelight vigils outside hard- hit nursing homes to honor lives lost to coronavirus, to demand more support to help the staff and the residents at nursing homes who even now, even still it is no better. They are still the Americans most at risk of getting this thing and most at risk of dying from it. There will be vigils around the country outside nursing homes to show support.
Nearly one-third of all coronavirus deaths in the United States are from nursing homes. In more than a dozen states, a majority of deaths are in nursing homes.
But this week, we got an important new study that I think if it is widely read and widely understood, importantly, it could help stop some of these security theater dumb stuff that`s being done for nursing homes despite the fact that it actually isn`t working to make these places any more safe. And if we could stop doing some of that stuff, wasting time and resources on it, and start instead focusing on what would actually work, maybe we`d get more efficient in terms of trying to minimize the harm in the worst part of the epidemic that is just persisting week after week and now month after month.
The good news about this new data is that the idea of what you need to do is sort of refreshing and simpler than you`d think. If we could start doing that and not the dumb stuff, maybe we`d make some progress on this hardest part of our response. But we`ve got one of the authors of that study joining us next. You`re going to want to see this.
MADDOW: Researchers at the University of Washington published a new study this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association, which finally put in cold (AUDIO GAP) just screening people for symptoms, isn`t a real strategy for trying to keep a place free of coronavirus.
Just looking for people who have a fever or who are otherwise feeling sick is not enough to stop an outbreak at, say, an assisted living facility.
On the one hand, you know, yeah, duh, we all know already that people without symptoms can have it and can be infectious. So just screening for symptoms is going to allow through a lot of people who are going to pose a problem when they get on the other side of your ineffectual symptom screening gate.
But despite the fact I think we all know that now, the number of places including risky workplaces like big processing plants and really risky environments like nursing homes and assisted living facilities, they have been doing symptom screening instead of testing, which in technical terms is called dumb.
In this study in JAMA, they found that broad testing, testing everyone combined with strict hygiene and social distancing measures, is successful at preventing an outbreak where coronavirus has already been found, even in these risky health environments like in long-term care facilities. I mean, this is a hopeful sign, and again it`s in plain black and white. Does it mean that we could be inside some kind of strategy that could be reproduced all over the country to finally start making practical progress toward protecting Americans in these settings where more Americans have been getting this thing and more Americans have been dying than in any other single environment?
Joining us now is Dr. Alison Roxby, assistant professor of medicine and global health at University of Washington. She`s one of the authors of this study.
Dr. Roxby, I apologize for having put in such colloquial terms one of the bottom lines of the findings of you and your colleagues. I hope I did not misconstrue it.
DR. ALISON ROXBY, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON PROFESSOR OF ALLERGY, INFECTIOUS DISEASE: Thank you. No, those were our results.
MADDOW: OK. I know you didn`t use the word "dumb." Go ahead.
ROXBY: This is a classic outbreak investigation. He went into a local facility after two residents were hospitalized at one of our hospitals to try and determine whether we would be seeing other cases. And frankly at the time we did this study, we were very concerned that we would be overrun with cases as has happened at so many other facilities.
We were really pleased to only find four residents who were infected, but we were surprised that none of the residents exhibited any symptoms. This is very -- makes it very challenging for workers at the facilities to protect themselves and for the residents to also protect themselves.
MADDOW: There is -- there continues to be in some, you know, guidelines from various agencies and certainly in practice in a lot of different workplaces and even in some health care environments where people are using symptom screening as if that is a gate-keeping procedure that will keep COVID-19 out of a facility that`s using that kind of a screen. I feel like I don`t totally understand the disconnect between us understanding the prospect of asymptomatic infection and the persistence of that as a public health tool, an ineffectual health tool. It seems to me it gives you a false sense of security while inviting the virus inside.
ROXBY: It can act as a minimum floor of what people should be doing to protect against coronavirus, but it is definitely ineffective if you want to get ahead of this disease and get a handle on this disease. Testing is the bedrock principle of management of communicable disease for decades, and in this outbreak, testing is going to be our keystone strategy.
MADDOW: Do you have faith that the kinds of hygiene and social isolation and testing strategies that are necessary to tackle this thing in these types of facilities is within the ability of the United States, that we as a country and as a culture can get these things done, or is this stuff too high a bar?
ROXBY: No, I think this is definitely achievable, and that was why we were so interested in publishing the results of this study, because this facility recognized early on the need to keep residents apart in the beginning stages of the pandemic, especially here in Seattle where we were hit so hard in this very environment. And they were able to do that. They were able to implement simple environmental cleaning strategies, more hand- washing. And with the testing, we didn`t see any further cases in this facility.
So I think it can work, and we really want to get the message out there that it`s not hopeless in congregate settings for older adults.
MADDOW: Dr. Alison Roxby, assistant professor of medicine and global health at the University of Washington -- just clear as a bell. Thank you for helping us understand this and thanks for making it so understandable. I really appreciate it.
ROXBY: Thank you.
MADDOW: Even though we are closing in on the end of the hour, I`m not leaving. Much more to come here tonight. It`s a super sized RACHEL MADDOW SHOW.
And we`re going to be speaking with the chairman of Intelligence Committee, Congressman Adam Schiff, when we come back.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: Welcome back to the up late version of "The Rachel Maddow Show." We`re going an extra half an hour tonight because anarchy.
MADDOW: Because we can, because time has no meaning. I want to begin our multi-ball bonus time tonight with a look at what is going on in the increasingly strange saga of Trump national security adviser Mike Flynn.
Between the election of Donald Trump as president and the time that Trump was sworn in as president, we know that incoming Trump national security adviser Mike Flynn spoke repeatedly with the Russian government.
We know, among other things, that Flynn and the Russian ambassador discussed sanctions that were just being imposed on Russia by the Obama administration in response to the Kremlin attacking our 2016 election to try to get Donald Trump elected.
Flynn, during the transition, talked to the Russian government about how the Russians shouldn`t respond in a tit for tat way to those sanctions in part because the Trump administration might get rid of them.
We know that Mike Flynn later lied about those discussions that he had with the Russian government when the FBI questioned him about them. That led to him losing his job as national security adviser after just 24 days on the job. That`s a record. It also led to him pleading guilty to felony charges in December 2017.
But despite the release of the Mueller report, which dealt with this to a certain degree, despite the declassification of Mike Flynn`s FBI interview notes, despite thousands of pages of court filings and all the recent legal wrangling over his case, we still do not know what specific words Mike Flynn exchanged with the Russian ambassador on those calls when he was apparently telling them don`t worry about the sanctions, we`ll take care of it.
Now, it seems like we may be one step closer to finding out what exactly happened in that conversation. Mike Flynn`s immediate legal fate remains tied up in the courts after the Justice Department decided this month that they were going to drop the prosecution of him. Never mind that he pled guilty twice, the Justice Department in an unheard of move decided they would stop prosecuting him despite the fact that he had already pled guilty.
The Trump Justice Department moved to drop that case even as the president and his allies have started escalating accusations that it was the Obama administration illegally targeting Mike Flynn and the real criminals are President Obama and Vice President Biden and lots of other people from the Obama administration.
In response, the top Democrats on the intelligence committees in both the House and the Senate have called on the acting director of National Intelligence, Richard Grenell, to release the transcripts of Flynn`s calls with the Russian government to clear up the matter.
If the Obama administration reacted with such alarm to what Flynn said to the Russians, and you guys are saying it`s bad that they were so alarmed, well, then, let us see what they were so alarmed about. We can judge for ourselves.
In a letter today, the House Intelligence chairman, Adam Schiff, said that releasing the Flynn transcripts would "ensure a transparent and complete public record free of political manipulation." Congressman Schiff sent that letter this morning to the acting intelligence director, Richard Grenell.
And then in a move that I don`t think many people saw coming, Richard Grenell said in response, OK. Grenell announced that he was in the process of declassifying something, some of the transcripts of Flynn`s calls with the Russian ambassador, maybe. "I already started the declassification for the few we received. They should be released in full, though. The public deserves to see it."
Now, if the administration is actually going to publish those transcripts, it remains to be seen. Why they would want to remain to be seen. It is worth noting that Mike Flynn`s lawyer has also called for the transcripts to be released. She says that doing so would exonerate her client. OK.
It is also worth noting that today, the director of the FBI, Christopher Wray, ordered an internal review into how the FBI handled the Flynn investigation even though the Justice Department`s inspector general already looked into that and found that the FBI had a properly predicated investigation when they tripped up to Capitol Hill -- when they tripped up to the White House to talk to Flynn.
Notably, Director Wray`s move today came after the president started sending him nasty grams through recent media interviews. President said, "Let`s see what happens with him. Look, the jury`s still out." Days later, Christopher Wray announced his review of how the FBI handled the Mike Flynn prosecution.
Joining us now is Congressman Adam Schiff. He is a California congressman. He is the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. Chairman Schiff, thank you for making time to talk to us. I know you`ve got a lot in your plate. I appreciate you being here.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): It is good to be with you.
MADDOW: I have covered the Flynn case I think as extensively as anybody else in the national media from the very beginning. I will admit to being sort of flummoxed and baffled are the synonyms. I will admit to being -- to not totally understanding what is going on with the Flynn case right now and not even understanding the political points that General Flynn`s supporters and the president are trying to make about him.
Do you have a broad picture sense of what they are trying to do here with the dropping of this prosecution?
SCHIFF: I think I do, and in the broadest outline, I would say it`s this, 90,000 Americans have died from the virus. Our economy has gone into a downward spiral to great depression era levels of unemployment. They don`t know what to do and they don`t want to focus on that, so they need to focus on something else, so this is the something else.
But it also gets, Rachel, to something Bill Barr said in a very revealing way when he was asked, what do you think history is going to say about what you`re doing at the Justice Department, the dropping of the Flynn case, and you could add to that the intervening in Roger Stone`s prosecution, the initiation of multiple counter investigations of the investigators.
And his very arrogant smug answer was, well, you know, the winners get to write history. They`re trying to write history, and it`s very difficult for them to write because it`s so convoluted and untrue.
And just to look at the whole Flynn case, they need to make a hero out of a guy who admitted and pled guilty to lying twice in conversations with the Russians designed to undermine U.S. policy at the time. It is very hard to make that person a hero. To do it, you have to concoct a massive conspiracy, something that they`re calling "Obamagate" but they can`t even articulate what it is.
But they have, you know, willful players like Rick Grenell, who three years after the fact have been selectively in a politicized way releasing some information but concealing the rest. This is why we`re calling on him, hey, if you`re going to start these partisan declassifications, you ought to be fully transparent and just release it all instead of being selective. Now, I don`t have much confidence he will do that, but we will keep pressing for that kind of transparency.
And bear in mind, one last point, Rachel, even while Grenell is claiming to want transparency, just this week, the Trump Justice Department was continuing to argue before the Supreme Court that the grand jury materials in the investigation should not be provided to Congress and should not under any circumstances be made public.
So, they`re going all the way to the Supreme Court to fight transparency. I think that tells you how much confidence they have in the underlying materials.
MADDOW: What do you make of this public statement in response to your request from Rick Grenell in which he seemed to indicate that maybe the transcripts will be released or something will be released? I mean, I remember Sally Yates, who was acting attorney general at the time.
She is one of the people who went up to Capitol Hill to tell the White House, hey, by the way, your national security adviser is in a position to be blackmailed by the government. He is lying about his contact with them and the Russians know about it and that`s a really bad position for a national security adviser to be in. You should maybe do something about it.
What she said about that warning to the White House was that Flynn`s underlying conduct was problematic. It was not just that he was lying about it, but what he was lying about, what he was actually doing with the Russians was of a concern seemingly in a counterintelligence sense.
And so I -- that makes me want to know what Mike Flynn was doing in terms of his underlying context. It makes me want to know what he was saying to the Russian government. Do you have the sense from Rick Grenell or from the administration more broadly that the actual transcript of what Flynn said might ultimately come out?
SCHIFF: It might come out if they feel compelled do so. But, you know, I think you`re absolutely right about the concern that Sally Yates articulated. Here you have the incoming national security adviser for the United States lying to the vice president about a conversation he had with the Russian ambassador, the vice president misleading the American people, and the Russians because they`re on the other side of that phone call, they know that he`s lied and they can compromise him.
That is classic counterintelligence nightmare material. So yes, there was a profound reason to interview Flynn, which is why the Justice Department brief arguing for the dismissal of the case is so dishonest and disingenuous.
But in terms of where Rick Grenell is coming from, here is the problem with what he`s trying to do, which is declassifies selectively these unmasking requests. And then there is unpublished report. I can`t comment on whether or not that Flynn`s name may never have been masked to begin with.
Well, that really blows a big hole in what Grenell has been trying to do, which is establish some theory that they were trying to unmask Flynn so that they could, I don`t know, persecute Flynn. And now, there are public reports he wasn`t even masked to begin with, in that call with the Russians. So, this is the problem I think when you`re trying to weave and alternate history. That is the facts keep getting in the way.
But at the end of the day, what Rick Grenell is trying to do and he is the most partisan figure ever to run any intelligence agency at least in my lifetime, what he`s trying to do is the Steve Bannon model of just flooding the zone with excrement. Bannon used a stronger word.
But that`s essentially what Rick Grenell is trying to do and what Bill Barr is trying to do and what the whole counternarrative effort is designed to do. That is so muddy the waters that people can`t bear out the truth anymore and there is nothing more destructive to a democracy than the idea that they`re pushing, which is that there is no such thing as truth anymore.
MADDOW: Congressman Adam Schiff of the great state of California, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. Sir, thanks very much for being with us tonight. I will -- I apologize for sort of just dumping on you my sense that this is just really weird and I don`t get it. That`s not usually the way that I conduct an interview. In this case, I am bamboozled by their behavior, but you have made sense of it.
SCHIFF: You`re so right because it has that "Alice in Wonderland" quality of going down the rabbit hole. It`s hard to wrap your head around.
MADDOW: Exactly. Exactly. Flooding the zone with excrement.
MADDOW: So we understand why we feel that way. It is on purpose. Thank you, sir. It is great to have you here. Much appreciated.
SCHIFF: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. As we proceed through extra time, multi-ball "Rachel Maddow Show" tonight, coming up next, I got somebody coming back to the show who I am really excited to talk to.
This is a doctor who we talked to as she was graduating early on purpose from medical school, setting out early into the start of her medical career, specifically so she can work on the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19 in a public hospital in New York City.
Imagine having that for your first assignment as a brand new minted doctor who has just graduated early. She`s going to join us here next to tell us how it has been going. Stay with us.
MADDOW: The Hippocratic Oath is the oath you swear to as a newly minted doctor after you finished medical school. Swearing the Hippocratic Oath is a super serious very formal rite of passage for doctors in this country. You may have seen one done on TV at some point. You may even have seen one in real life. But I would bet good money you have not seen one like this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For graduates only, please unmute your phones at this time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE/UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do solemnly swear, by that which I do hold most sacred, that I will be loyal to the profession of medicine and just and generous to its members, that I will lead my life and practice my art in uprightness and honor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It goes on like that for another minute or so. But that -- that beautiful clunky zoom call orchestra with all the hitches and glitches, and am I talking now and what do I say now? That was 50 or so students from the NYU School of Medicine taking the Hippocratic Oath over video chat early last month, in early April, as they were all graduating months ahead of schedule and in the middle of a global pandemic.
Just a week before that, at the end of March, New York City was really heading into the worst of it, the peak of their curve with thousands of new cases and over a thousand new hospitalizations every day. And it started to become apparent that the city`s hospitals didn`t have enough staff to handle the absolute flood of coronavirus patients they were getting.
The state asked for help, and the medical school at NYU became the first school in the country to make a huge ask of their fourth year students. Would they please consider graduating early and becoming doctors now? Swearing that oath now? So they could start working in the hospitals with the most COVID patients right away.
These are the students who said yes. And we spoke with one of those students, Gabrielle Mayer, in March when she had just volunteered. She had just made that decision. Today, Gabrielle Mayer is a doctor. She just finished a five-week deployment in a COVID ward at Bellevue Hospital in New York City. She joins us live now.
Dr. Mayer, congratulations. Thank you for checking back in with us. You said at the time that you would come check back in and you have been good to your word.
GABRIELLE MAYER, INTERNAL MEDICINE RESIDENT, NYU LANGONE/BELLEVUE HOSPITAL: Thank you so much for having me. It is a pleasure to be back on the show.
MADDOW: I looked into it. And on your first day in the hospital, April 13th, New York City reported 1,200 COVID-19 hospitalizations that day. By your last day, which was this past Sunday, it wasn`t 1,200 anymore. It was a little bit under 70. So you were there for the precipitous fall. What was it like? Was it like at the start and what was it like to see that transition over time?
MAYER: It was remarkable. The first week that I was in the hospital, I noticed that there were frequent codes being called overhead. Most if not all the patients who are in the hospital were there for COVID-related complications. And at a certain point a lull hit, and we saw fewer and fewer patients coming in with COVID-related chief complaints. And slowly but surely, people with non-COVID-related issues started coming to the hospital at a slower more manageable rate.
MADDOW: When you started, when you jumped in there at the deep end, again, more than a thousand new hospitalizations in New York at that point, you`re working at public hospital in New York that is right there on the frontlines, how overwhelmed were you? How did you feel once you started working about your decision to graduate early, to jump in right away and to start doing this kind of work?
MAYER: The moment I showed up on the first day, I knew that it was going to be an experience that is unforgettable, would feel fully supported and not overwhelming because of the number of residents and mentors and teachers who were looking out for not just the new graduates but also for all of the residents and frontline health care workers, and so I felt incredibly supported throughout the whole experience.
MADDOW: I understand that the surge team, that you were part of the extra doctors that were added to Bellevue to try to handle the influx, it wasn`t just your med school class. It was a pretty diverse group that came on board to surge support into that facility. Can you tell us about that at all, the other people who are part of this surge?
MAYER: It was a wonderful mix of people in the work rooms or the call rooms where the doctors would congregate and write notes. We had different kinds of health care providers coming in from as far as North Carolina.
We had individuals who were treating in other non-medical or non-general internal medicine subspecialties like dermatologists and radiologists coming back and joining us in the medicine call rooms to support this increased capacity in the hospital. That was truly inspiring to see, that kind of community rally for New York City at large.
MADDOW: Treating all the patients who you treated and being part of that process, being part of that cohort, did it change how you thought about the disease at all? We talked about it a little before you started doing this. We`ve all gone through in education living through this as a country. Did your understanding of it change fundamentally? Is there something that we didn`t understand about it before you did this that we ought to understand from you now?
MAYER: I think that what I had read before going in mimicked what I saw in the hospitals. But I think the part that you can`t understate is the importance of the human connection, which is hard to find in these moments of isolation.
I want to give a particular nod to the entire community at Bellevue who called patients` families and made sure that the loved ones were aware of what was happening every day, from medical students to fellow resident physicians to attending physicians. Everybody was making sure that those human connections were kept alive despite the fact that contact precautions made it a little more challenging.
MADDOW: Dr. Gabrielle Mayer, who volunteered to graduate early from med school and get on the frontlines at Bellevue Hospital in New York City, thank you for being with us. I know that you are isolating now, having finished that deployment, and you will be going back to work when you are through this quarantine period. I hope you can enjoy it as some down time. Thanks for what you do.
MAYER: Thanks so much. Take care.
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Heads up for something to watch for after the Memorial Day weekend. You might remember, last month, the inspector general`s office at the Department of Health and Human Services released like a 40-page long report that spelled out the lack of PPE to keep health care workers safe and the lack of badly needed medical equipment at hospitals across the country.
The person responsible for that report, the person whose name was on the first page, is Christi Grimm, principal deputy inspector general at Health and Human Services.
When that report came out, the president denounced it as if it wasn`t true and denounced her for having written it and Christi Grimm was sure enough soon pushed out of that supposedly independent job at HHS.
But here`s the thing, they can`t just disappear these people. On Tuesday, the first day back from the long weekend Christi Grimm is going to testify live in public session at the House Oversight Committee, which is going to be absolutely worth seeing, worth looking forward to.
That`s going to do it for us tonight and since we`re just calling it normal now for me to be on for an hour and a half, now I will also play it off as normal that after me tonight, it`s time for the 11th hour with Brian Williams. Sure, why not?
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END