Arizona breaks record TRANSCRIPT: 7/13/20, The Rachel Maddow Show

Guests: Lina Hidalgo, Will Humble

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: That is ALL IN for this Monday night.

"THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts now with Ali Velshi in Rachel.

Good evening, Ali.

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Good to see you. Have yourself a great evening and thank you at home for joining us this hour.

Rachel, as you can see, has the night off.

Officials on the Japanese island of Okinawa had thought they had the upper hand when it came to coronavirus. For more than two months, the island had zero new cases of coronavirus. From May 1st to July 7th, while the pandemic was exploding in this country, Okinawa, Japan, was virus free.

And honestly, that`s no small feat given its size. The island of Okinawa has a population roughly the same size as Dallas, Texas. But whereas Dallas has been reporting something like 1,100 new cases a day, Okinawa has had just 148 confirmed cases total since February.

But in less than a week all that good work has essentially been thrown out the window. Okinawa now has nearly 100 new cases thanks to outbreaks on the various U.S. military bases on the island. Local reports say Fourth of July parties held on and off the bases are the cause of the huge spike.

According to those same reports hundreds if not thousands of personnel and employees were said to have attended those events, not surprisingly, the governor of Okinawa is angry. This weekend, he openly questioned whether the United States was doing enough to stop the spread of COVID-19 saying that he had, quote, serious doubts about the measures being taken by U.S. military officials. He also requested that the military stop transferring new troops from the United States given the unabated surge that we are seeing in this country.

Think about this. America has now reached a point where we are posing a threat to some of our strongest allies. And that`s just scratching the surface really when you look at all the damage that`s being done back here at home. Case numbers are growing in 39 states which is incredible when you consider we only have 50 of them.

As "The Washington Post" reports, quote, deaths are trending up sharply in almost every part of the country. Five states -- Arizona, California, Florida, Mississippi, and Texas broke records for average daily fatalities this weekend. Florida, meanwhile, has emerged as a particularly bleak example of how the United States has failed to get a handle on this pandemic.

On Sunday, the state reported more than 15,000 new cases. That shattered the previous one-day records that were set by California and New York, New York, which was the epicenter of this infection. Today, the state reported the second highest number, this is Florida, reported the second highest number of new cases that this country has ever seen with more than 12,000 new infections reported in just the last 24 hours.

In Florida -- Florida is grappling with an outbreak that`s so large, it`s bigger than what the vast majority of nations are dealing with. Here is the way "Reuters" summed it up. Quote: If Florida were a country, it would rank fourth in the world for the most new cases a day behind the United States, Brazil and India. More than 40 hospitals across Florida have maxed out their ICU bed capacity or are close to running out of ICU beds. In Miami- Dade County, things are especially dire in just that area. Six hospitals have already reached capacity.

Doctors in the area are no longer mincing words when it comes to describing the situation on the ground. In a conference call with the mayor of Miami- Dade this morning, one local infectious disease expert actually pleaded with the public saying, quote, we really need your help. Miami is now the he center of the pandemic. What we were seeing in Wuhan five or six months ago, now we are there. And yet in the midst of all of this, the state is still struggling when it comes to basic things like testing.

In Miami today, residents began lining up overnight, some at 1:30 in the morning, just to make sure they got tests before the site ran out of supplies for the day. That is the position that Florida is in right now, problems with testing. But despite that, it remains open for business.

This weekend, one of the biggest theme parks in the country, Disney World reopened for the first time. Meanwhile, the Republican National Convention is just six weeks away and White House officials say they plan to move forward with holding the event in Jacksonville. Because, why not? We are now five months into this pandemic, and yet the federal response remains as incoherent as it was on day one. And because of that, state and local governments are having to go it alone.

Today, the governor of California, Gavin Newsom, announced a sweeping rollback of the state`s reopening plans saying that he would impose new statewide restrictions, putting an end to indoor dining and closing movie theaters, zoos, and museums. Bars were also ordered to cease all operations.

In California`s hardest hit counties, home to roughly 80 percent of that state`s population, closures are even more extensive including places of worship, certain offices, and hair salons. The decision in California today comes as more and more state and local leaders are starting to take actions that they deem necessary to protect their residents even if it means going out ahead of the federal government.

In Houston, where we`ve now seen countless headlines of hospitals at or near capacity, local leaders are demanding a shutdown including the city`s mayor, Sylvester Turner, who today tweeted, quote, I do believe we need a two-week shutdown at the minimum of two weeks, and I have proposed this to the governor so we can help blunt COVID-19 progression. The head of the county`s governing body, Judge Lina Hidalgo, echoed those calls during a press conference this afternoon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUDGE LINA HIDALGO, HARRIS COUNTY, TEXAS: Since we last spoke, what we feared would happen is coming to pass. At the end of May, there were 15 percent of patients in the ICU. Today, we are at 45 -- 48 percent. And the number keeps rising.

We are crossing or approaching hospital surge capacity day after day as a matter of course. What this means is reports of people having to wait for an ICU bed when they need it. ICU beds becoming more and more scarce, having to import doctors and nurses to keep up with the demand.

Hospitalizations continue to rise. If it wasn`t clear before, it`s obvious now that having so much still open from restaurants to all sized indoor events, to water parks is not going to turn this thing around, which is why I continue to call for an enforceable stay home order.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI: Joining us now is Judge Lina Hidalgo, head of Harris County`s governing body.

Judge hidalgo, thank you for being with us tonight. It is fascinate to go watch this unfold and sad this unfold in Harris County. You have within your county boundaries, the largest hospital complex in America, one of the largest and best in the entire world.

And your hospitals are filling up. Your ICUs are diverting people to other hospitals.

HIDALGO: That`s right, Ali. We have the largest medical center here in Harris County, which is home to Houston and 33 other cities, what we are learning the hard way is that this strategy of seeing how far we can stretch our hospital beds and trying to fill them up while also not making aggressive public policy is not a good strategy.

It is wrong morally. It is not adequate public health policy. It is not adequate economic policy. And it`s simply not working.

Those beds are continuing to fill, and the halfway measures we`ve had so far are simply not cutting it. Today, that`s the saddest part is you could go to a water park, you could go to a restaurant.

Yes, some things are happening. But until we take strong action, we`re not going to see the curve turn around. We`re not going to see the curve flatten or we`re now going to see it come down.

VELSHI: Judge, tell me how you solve this problem, because you and Mayor Sylvester Turner and others, just like we`re seeing in Arizona, there are municipal leaders who are asking their governors to do something. Your governor has said, according to a local news report today, he said there are rumors out there that there will be an imminent shut down.

That is not the case. He`s not really hearing you on this.

HIDALGO: Look, we`ve got to look at the data here. We have to be honest with ourselves, and we have to hear the cries of the community, the folks who are hurting economically, who have loved ones in the hospital and recognize that it`s no time for politics. It is time for evidence based action.

And we see communities not just around the country, but around the world. Those who didn`t just flatten the curve but crushed it, brought it all the way down and began reopening in a slow, measured fashion, are the ones doing well.

And so, if we want to look at the economic angle, we need to set up the economy for long-term success and the only way we do that is by controlling those cases, testing, of course from a health care standpoint, that`s the right thing to do. I`ve tried everything we can here.

A few weeks ago, we put our community on red alert. That means stay home. Everybody got a notification to their cell phones today. We had broadcasts and radio broadcasts as well with notifications. I`m constantly trying to share this.

But look, I continue to plead for that tool. That`s why I`ve continued to ask the governor for him to give me that authority or for him to do it himself. I used to have that authority. That`s how we brought down the curve in March. And now, we`ve got to do it again and we`ve got to do it better, because back then we opened before the curve came down. We simply flattened it and then, you know, we gave up too early and we can`t afford to do that again.

VELSHI: So, Judge, explain what this means, you had the authority and you don`t have it now. Right now, the issue is that you are asking for an enforceable stay-at-home order, not a recommended stay-at-home order. What`s changed in your ability to enforce an order?

HIDALGO: So, legally, as the county executive I had the authority to issue this order, orders to wear face coverings and so on and so forth. Now when the governor began reopening the state, his reopening orders included a provision that basically undid my ability, or removed that authority to issue those kinds of orders. So, now, all I can do is recommend and can I do whatever authority he positively grants me.

And so, right now, we`re at the point where we`ve seen that a strategy of incrementalist restrictions doesn`t work. The virus is very difficult. There are many things we don`t understand.

But what we do know is that to control the spread, we`ve got to have a stay home order. We`ve got to keep it in place until the curve comes down. We can`t give ourselves arbitrary deadlines. And that will set us up to succeed for the long haul.

And so, that`s where we are legally. Look, we are seeing something crushing in our minority communities even that just shows you this strategy ends up hurting real people. Hispanics in our population are 65 percent, sometimes 50 percent, of the hospitalizations, whereas, there`s only 44 percent of the population. We`ve got zip codes. The majority Hispanic zip codes, they`re seeing incredibly high positivity rates, up to 50 percent.

This is terrible not just for that community. Eventually, this catches up to all of us, and so you can`t be so callous as to have a strategy how much we can extend the hospital beds and cross our fingers and hope it works. So we continue to plead with the community to stay home but, of course, it`s so much stronger if we have an order and we know that it works because when we did it in March people buckled down. They got together. They flattened the curve.

Of course, then, you know, the state decided to reopen before we had a chance to really bring things under control. But we`re going to keep fighting, fighting with our public health tools, fighting with the communication tools we have. But, frankly, this is really sad to watch this is what`s happening in our hospitals and at the same time I can go have any size indoor event as long as it`s indoors and I can go to a restaurant and sit on a crowded patio right now in my community while people are dying and filling up our hospitals.

VELSHI: Judge Hidalgo, thank you for joining us tonight. Judge Lina Hidalgo is head of Harris County`s governing body -- we appreciate your time.

With cases surging all over the country, the White House has decided to focus its efforts on discrediting the nation`s top infectious disease expert because of his blunt warnings about the coronavirus. An administration official on Sunday sent NBC News and other main media outlets a list of Dr. Anthony Fauci`s past statements on the coronavirus, saying, quote, several White House officials are concerned about the number of times Dr. Fauci has been wrong on things.

In many ways, the document resembled campaign opposition research as opposed to an official White House document. It comes as Fauci has been essentially sidelined by the administration. According to "The Washington Post", Fauci no longer briefs Donald Trump and is never in the oval office anymore. He reportedly last spoke to the president during the first week in June. Certainly not the best time to be discrediting and pushing away one of the most respected scientific voices in the country.

Joining me now Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, former health care adviser to President Obama, now an MSNBC`s medical contributor and author of "Which Country Has the World`s Best Health Care?"

Zeke, good to see you again. Thank you for being with us.

I`m really puzzled by the Fauci thing. If you don`t like somebody who is doing a job for the administration, Donald Trump has had no hesitation generally speaking in getting rid of them. This is weird, the degree to which they are undermining Fauci.

Peter Navarro was on with me over a week ago and started by undermining and discrediting Fauci. What do you think is going on here?

ZEKE EMANUEL, MSNBC MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, they want to character assassination attempt here. It`s reckless, it`s cruel, it`s wrong, and it`s absolutely wrong.

Nobody in this whole pandemic has gotten everything right because it`s brand-new, lots of uncertainty and you`re trying to make predictions and projections in the midst of that kind of uncertainty and you makes in human behavior. Will people follow stay-at-home orders or not.

But Dr. Fauci has gotten it right a long and, most importantly, I was going to say, when he`s wrong, he`s very up front about it. One of the things Dr. Fauci does is he always qualifies what he`s going to say as to what he really knows and what he is guessing at and what he`s making an estimation at.

And correcting errors is part of science. We all make projections and try to estimate things.

VELSHI: He`s thoughtful and deliberate in the way he`s done things. But -- and this is calling for you to speculate. Fauci`s useful to the country right now. Is it less useful that he`s not got access to the president, that they`re not letting him speak freely? Could he be doing something else?

EMANUEL: In the country? He could be doing a lot of things. But I do think it`s an important thing to contrast how often he`s been wrong with the president who said the virus was going to disappear in the warm weather, who said hydroxychloroquine was going to work, who recommended maybe we should take bleach or put light in our bodies.

This is not the way to run a public health emergency, to take your best scientist, one who has proven over almost four decades now that he has real knowledge of infectious disease, real knowledge how to combat it, real knowledge how to actually save lives and to sideline him. It is unconscionable.

And the president needs good advisers who really know the science, and what he`s doing is running with people who like what he has to say and won`t push back when he is wrong. And that`s just -- you know, the whole country is suffering because of it.

VELSHI: One of the things Dr. Fauci did say is we might get to a point where we have 100,000 cases a day. If you recall, Zeke, you and I were on TV one night talking about when the president said we weren`t going to get to 100,000 cases at all, certainly not 100,000 deaths. We`re way down past that.

But let`s take a look at the record on Friday. We have topped 70,000 new cases on Friday. Talk to me about what we need to do now, Zeke, because you`ve never been -- you know, like a lot of Americans, think people want to get out. People want to get back to work. People have to earn income.

But you just heard my conversation with the chief executive from Harris County in Texas. This is what happens when we don`t follow rules.

EMANUEL: Look, if you look at all of the countries, and I think I said this with you, Ali, four months ago in March, all the other countries it goes up for four weeks and then it comes down four weeks. It`s a pretty symmetric curve or goes up four weeks and come down for five, six weeks. That`s the time period we have. We have to be disciplined for that time period.

We`re talking about eight to ten weeks where we have to be disciplined. And then you can bring the curve down. You can bring the transmission rate below one. You can see this work.

You know how we know? Look at New York. Today, no cases of transmission.

VELSHI: Yes.

EMANUEL: Washington, D.C., four straight days, no cases. You can do this --

VELSHI: Zero.

EMANUEL: -- with discipline. You just need leadership and consistent messaging and consistent embodiment of that messaging by your leader, instead of trying to sow this disharmony, suspicion of the virus and what it can actually do and the damage it can cause.

VELSHI: But the sowing of suspicion -- go ahead, Zeke. Yes?

EMANUEL: We had the governor of Florida who sort of, you know, dismissed all of this early March, April, May. Not going to happen here.

And, sure enough, it was as clear as day, anyone who has studied epidemiology knows you have those parties on the beaches, you open indoor restaurants, you open bars, you open all these amusement facilities, you`re going to have the spread. It is inevitable. And it`s come home to roost in a state that has a huge population of elderly people who all at very high risk.

VELSHI: I`m trying to get my head around from a public health perspective where the president is getting his advice from. There was a story in "The Daily Beast" today describing the fact Donald Trump re-tweeted the former game show host Chuck Woolery whom I didn`t know was the conspiracy theorist, but the tweet that he re-tweeted said the most outrageous lies are the ones about COVID-19.

Everybody is lying. The CDC, media, Democrats, our doctors -- not all, but most -- that we are told to trust. I think it`s all about the election and keeping the economy from coming back which is about the election. I`m sick of it.

So, Chuck Woolery tweets it out. The president re-tweets this. But this attack on science, this attack on truth, and now this attack on doctors and an attack on public health efforts, I just didn`t know this could happen, but the president is fully at the front of this train.

EMANUEL: Look, one of the things have political scientists who study this phenomenon, study populism, is that one of the victims of this is expertise. The fact that people actually know something and what they know is valuable to actually addressing a problem.

And we have had an attack on expertise more than 20 years in this country as the populism of the Republican Party has gone up. And that is what you`re seeing. You don`t like the facts, attack the messenger. That is not a good way to actually survive, and we know that biology, you can`t bamboozle it. You can`t just through rhetoric and we`re great and our response is fantastic, you`re not going to beat this virus.

The virus can withstand all of that because it doesn`t really care about the rhetoric. It cares about science and it behaves by biological laws. We know how to beat that. We`ve seen around the world countries that have beaten it.

Look at Italy. Italy has had its challenges. But over ten weeks brought the virus down and now you can open up safely once it`s down a few cases pop up, you can actually suppress them. But if you got 10,000, 12,000 cases a day, you cannot suppress it. And you will not beat that virus.

VELSHI: Zeke, always good to see you, my friend. Thank you.

Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel is the vice provost for the University of Pennsylvania`s global initiatives. He`s a former health care adviser to President Obama. Thank you for your time, sir.

All right. Coming up next, the president kept his longtime adviser Roger Stone out of prison by commuting his sentence on Friday. It`s a stunning development as of Friday night news dump goes.

In a broader context, it turns out that there`s actually more here to see. I`ll have that story after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELSHI: Call it a tale of three books, three books about the president of the United States. See if you can spot which of these is being treated differently by the White House. In the midst of the fire hose of news at the end of last week, Donald Trump`s lawyer, Michael Cohen, was sent back to prison after having been released to home detention earlier this year.

And you may or may not care all that much about where Mr. Cohen is serving out his sentence for tax fraud and lying to Congress, but here is what quickly became concerning about Michael Cohen suddenly being locked up again. Cohen`s lawyers say he was sent back to prison because he did not want to sign paperwork that would have blocked him from talking to the media or publishing the book he`s been working on. In other words, keep silent or go back behind bars.

How unusual is an ultimatum like that? CNN spoke to several defensive attorneys and legal experts, none of whom had ever seen anything like Cohen`s media and book publishing ban.

Ryan Goodman at Just Security reached out to several leading First Amendment scholars. They looked at the prohibition and described it with phrases like, quote, patently unconstitutional, a profound affront to the First Amendment, indefensible.

And so, again, whether you view Michael Cohen as a sympathetic character or not, what it looks like is happening here is pretty chilling. The Trump administration gave Michael Cohen a choice, sign this paper saying you won`t write a book, or go back to prison. Silence or prison, your choice.

Then there`s the book by Donald Trump`s niece slated for publication tomorrow. Donald Trump and his family have been in court up through today trying to block the book from being published and block Mary Trump from saying anything about the book. Which feels ridiculous because you probably feel you`ve already read it since just about every media outlet on the planet has gotten a copy and dissected it already.

Well, this evening, Donald Trump and his family lost that court fight. A New York state Supreme Court judge rejected the attempt to block the book, ruling that, quote, the potential enormous cost and logistical nightmare of stopping the publication, recalling and removing hundreds of thousands of books from all types of booksellers, brick and mortar and virtual, libraries and private citizens, is an insurmountable task at this time.

The judge then quotes a different judge in another case Donald Trump lost when he tried to block the publication of his former national security adviser John Bolton`s book. Quote, by the looks of it, the horse is not just out of the barn, it is out of the country.

Mary Trump`s book can go forward and also, Mary Trump is now free to speak publicly about it, which should be interesting.

So, Michael Cohen`s book, Mary Trump`s book, the president, his family, his White House doing everything they can to prevent them from coming out up to and including sending Michael Cohen back to prison.

But today, we learned about a third book. Today, the Justice Department released the actual executive order commuting the prison sentence of Roger Stone. You see the president`s unmistakable sharpie signature there.

The president commuted his old friend`s sentence on Friday night. But it`s not clear how broad the commutation was. The judge in Stone`s case demanded to see the actual order to determine whether it covered just Stone`s prison time or his probation as well.

Well, now we now that the president took care of everything, prison time, supervised release, $20,000 fine, all of it, poof, gone. And today, Roger Stone announced that he`s celebrating by writing a book. That`s right.

So if you testify unflatteringly about the president and you try to write a book, you go back it to prison. If you withhold information from Congress and prosecutors to protect the president, you get your prison sentence erased and you can accomplish to your heart`s content.

Joining us now Barbara McQuade, former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan.

Barbara, good to see you. Thank you for joining us tonight.

Talk to me about this. We`ve heard in certain extreme cases about convicted felons not able to profit from their crimes, typically in the case of murders and things like that, but how unusual is this -- is this development to you?

BARBARA MCQUADE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY, EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN: I`ve never heard of anything like it and, in fact, Ali, I`ve been talking with colleagues to ask them if they`ve ever seen anything like this, and I haven`t found d anybody who has.

You know, after the son of Sam killings, many states passed these laws called Son of Sam laws that prevented people from profiting from their crimes. And so, the idea was if an offender wrote a book about his crime, it could be the case that those profits could be disgorged and returned to victims of crimes. And that`s true in the federal rules as well.

But there`s no law that says a person can`t even write a book. In fact, the Supreme Court has held that such a rule would be unconstitutional.

So, I think if Michael Cohen were to challenge this condition, he would win.

VELSHI: It is interesting, though, that the president did something completely contrary to that with the erasure of Roger Stone`s conviction, or at least, you know, vacating the things he had to do with that conviction. It dos seem a little bit stark.

MCQUADE: If I were cynical, Ali, I would suggest that perhaps President Trump is trying to control who writes stories about him, who tells their story, people who have unflattering things to say are hit with lawsuits and efforts are made to stop them and to suppress them and keep those stories from being told.

People who have flattering things to say about President Trump are released from prison so they get a chance to tell those stories. I don`t know that President Trump will be able to stop the unflattering stories forever. He also files lawsuits against journalists for things that he alleges are defamatory, that I don`t think are going to be held up.

But it seems that he is at least trying to keep the dam from bursting before the election. If he can keep the bad things from being out in the public before the election, then perhaps he can control that narrative before his ability to affect the outcome of the election. But I don`t think he`s going to be successful. You know, prior restraints, which is any ruling, any order, any law that prohibits someone from sharing information are highly disfavored. And so, you know, you can work out money damages later in these lawsuits but the idea of surprising someone`s information is highly disfavored.

VELSHI: So the normalization of these characters in the Trump administration is worth study. The list of commutations and the list of pardons is interesting, because some of it are people that President Trump wants to pardon, some of them, he`s softening us up for. But between those and the tweets about who has been witch-hunted or unfairly treated, the president has normalized the idea that he does this sort of thing. It wasn`t a surprise he commuted the sentence of Roger Stone.

But Robert Mueller in his op-ed for "The Washington Post" wanted to underscore the point. He writes a jury determined that Stone repeatedly lied to members of Congress.

He lied about the identity of his intermediary to WikiLeaks. He lied about the existence of written communications with his intermediary. He lied by denying he had communicated with the Trump campaign about the timing of WikiLeaks` releases. He, in fact, updated senior campaign officials repeatedly about WikiLeaks, and he tampered with a witness imploring him to stonewall Congress.

Mueller is trying to make the point as normal as Trump wants to make this feel, Roger Stone`s a convicted felon.

MCQUADE: Yeah, I was so gratified to see Robert Mueller come out with this op-ed. You know, he is a stoic marine who does not complain, does not speak up. And for him to write this, even in its fairly subdued tones, is the equivalent of screaming for anybody else. And so, I think he is trying to say this is not normal.

You know, President Trump has granted pardons and clemency for people like Rod Blagojevich and Bernard Kerik. Others who have committed crimes of corruption, perhaps trying to say corruption is no big deal. But what`s different about this one is, it`s not just corruption, it relates specifically to Trump himself. It is an effort to cover up his crimes.

As Judge Jackson said herself at Stone`s sentencing, Roger Stone was not standing up for President Trump, Roger Stone was covering up for President Trump. And so, this clemency really seems like an abuse of the pardon power.

VELSHI: Barbara, good to see you as always. Thank you for joining me.

Barbara McQuade is a former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan. Thank you for your time tonight.

Still ahead, if you ignore, fumble and botch the response to a crisis as serious as a global pandemic, you can expect political consequences for that. We`ll have the latest snapshot on red state races that are now surprisingly in play, after this break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELSHI: Explosion of new coronavirus cases in Texas is translating into immediate political pain for Donald Trump. A new "Dallas Morning News" poll finds that just 38 percent of Texas voters are pleased with the president`s handling of the virus, while an overall majority, 52 percent, disapprove. And while those numbers may or may not concern the president, the top line number from that same poll almost certainly will.

Trump currently trails Joe Biden by five points in Texas. It`s not a national poll. This is not a swing state poll. In the headline, it calls it Red Texas. This latest poll is not an outlier, by the way.

The Real Clear Politics of all Texas polls currently has Biden and Trump tied. At the national level, the president`s historically weak standing at this point in the race has some strategists urging Biden to go big and try to expand the map in states like Georgia, Ohio and Texas.

What`s more? The president`s bungling of the virus response has Republican senators avoiding any mention of him in their campaign ads, while his drop in the polls has Democrats salivating about their chances of taking back the upper chamber. Asked today whether Republicans would hang on to the Senate Senator Mitch McConnell could muster only that he was hopeful that they would.

Now, tomorrow, voters in Texas, Maine, and Alabama head to the polls for primary contests with direct implications for control of the Senate in November.

Let`s start in Texas, Democrats are going to select a Senate challenger to take on the Republican incumbent John Cornyn. While Cornyn ultimately remains favored to hold his seat, his recent comments about not knowing whether children can catch the coronavirus at the same time that his state reported over 500 kids have tested positive isn`t helping him.

In Alabama, another red state that has seen a recent surge in coronavirus cases, Republicans will choose between former football -- college football coach and Trump endorsed candidate Tommy Tuberville on the left, and Trump`s former attorney general turned foe Jeff Sessions. The winner is going to take on the Democrats` most vulnerable incumbent Doug Jones who pulled off a shocking victory in 2017.

In Maine, Democrats will choose a Senate candidate to take on vulnerable incumbent Susan Collins. The current front-runner in the Democratic primary, Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon, currently leads Collins in public polling. And seeming vulnerable this early, Susan Collins has company. Polls show Republican senators are also facing tough races in Colorado, Arizona, Iowa, North Carolina, and Montana.

Trump won Montana by 20 points four years ago. In the Montana Senate race, a new poll finds the popular governor and Democratic challenger leading the incumbent by two points.

Meanwhile, the latest Senate poll out of Arizona shows the Democratic challenger Mark Kelly beating Republican incumbent Martha McSally by four points, which might not be surprising considering the Republican-led state has continued to set all the wrong records for coronavirus.

The latest from the crisis in Arizona is right after this break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. FRANK LOVECCHIO, ER PHYSICIAN, PHOENIX, AZ: These last couple of days have been kind of hectic. Right now when I left, we were holding approximately ten patients for the intensive care unit. Obviously, the intensive care unit is full, to place for them to go. Some patients in their ER beds were being doubled up. We had makeshift sort of curtains to kind of separate beds to take one spot and make it into two.

There`s no place to put people. We`ve been on diversion for much of the night. Diversion means an ambulance wants to come to your place and we say we can`t accept it, we`re saturated.

Unfortunately, if the next closest hospital is also on diversion you kind of share it and you`re forced to go back on and accept patients after a few hours. So, we`ve been playing that game all night where we`ve been on diversion, the next hospital a few miles away is on diversion and we`re still receiving patients. The majority are still COVID.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI: That ER doctor in hard-hit Phoenix, Arizona, saying his hospital is full up. Got no room for patients. But they keep their doors open because the next closest hospital is full of COVID patients, too.

According to "The New York Times", there are 39 states seeing an increase in new coronavirus infections plus D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The COVID outbreak is growing in the majority of the country right now, but there`s one state that sticks out, you can see it, it clearly stands out in the stack of charts from "The Times".

Take a look at Arizona. New coronavirus infections have been on a meteoric rise for weeks now since the state`s Republican governor began one of the earliest reopenings in the country to appease Trump. This weekend, the number of ICU beds and ventilators being used by coronavirus patients hit an all-time high in Arizona. That`s the hard data behind the experience of that Phoenix ER doctor was just describing.

But with all the numbers still trending up, the governor of Arizona Doug Ducey has not enacted any significant new restrictions to slow the spread, has not closed businesses, has no statewide mask requirement. And so, with more people in Arizona getting sick than the hospitals can keep up with, officials on the local level are pushing on the governor to change his mind. This weekend, the mayors from five of Arizona`s biggest cities sent a governor of Arizona this letter asking the governor to enact a statewide mask requirement, to increase testing and contact tracing, to ask Arizonians to stay home.

But also for the governor to step up and enact statewide strategy to stop the coronavirus from ripping through the state, because the mayors are tired of trying to solve a public health crisis all on their own, quote, as Arizona mayors, we are deeply concerned about the current response to the COVID-19 pandemic in our state. Any further actions to curb the spread must provide statewide direction.

COVID-19 does not stop at city or county limits. We need statewide action to effectively combat this public health crisis. That letter, which is basically a public SOS letter to the governor is signed by the mayors of Tucson, Phoenix, Flagstaff, Tolleson and Tempe.

Joining me now, Will Humble. He`s the former director of the Arizona Department of Health Services and now the executive director of the Arizona Public Health Association.

Will, good to see you.

You and I talked two weeks ago, and you described something to me about something called care standards. You said your hospitals were starting to use care standards which I think in common parlance is some version of triage determining who gets what treatment. That was two weeks ago. Now what you got what this E.R. doctor describes as diversion, actually turning patients away.

WILL HUMBLE, ARIZONA PUBLIC HEALTH ASSOCIATION EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Yes, that`s what he was describing. Doctor (INAUDIBLE) who I know, was describing crisis standards of care in operation. And that`s -- that`s what it means. He talked about repurposing emergency department rooms because they were unable to go to intensive care beds, and out of necessity because they don`t have the staff within their hospital and then they check the surge line and were unable to find a similar hospital to treat those patients, so they`re doing the best they can.

And, the terrible thing here is that there is no end in sight. I mean, the number of cases continues to rise, the policy decisions have not been adjusted to make the situation any better. And, further, there are administrative things that could be done like improving the turn-around time with testing, using CARES Act money, by the way. It is not state funds that are needed. They could do it now.

So there are several of these things that could make a real difference. But as you mentioned, it takes some leadership to really turn the tide.

VELSHI: Yeah. The thing, though, Will, about the human mind is our ability to learn from things and try not to repeat mistakes or not habitually repeat mistakes. But, in fact, we have seen exactly what`s happening in Arizona happen elsewhere and we thought we wouldn`t have to go through this again. We were hoping.

People like me who come from New York were hoping that Arizona and Texas and Florida would not have to go through this. And, in fact, they did not have to go through this.

HUMBLE: Well, that`s right. And we didn`t have to go through it either, by the way. I mean, the playbook was written in the Northeast part of the country where they had a responsible playbook, really, for how to emerge from the stay-at-home order and preserve the sacrifices made by the folks at your state. And we didn`t follow that playbook.

And we basically, I think what we did is adopt the Swedish model, really, to implement that. I was on Chris Hayes` show a few days ago. I said, look, I hope the other states out there recognize whatnot to do. Don`t follow the Arizona example because this is a bad experiment. It is not working out well.

If you come out of a stay-at-home order, come out of it in a responsible way with performance measures that you can document and get compliance with some of these CDC mitigation efforts and make sure you have the testing capacity that will help you with your contact tracing, on all of these marks that we`re on.

VELSHI: In fact, when you look at the three things they ask for in the mayor`s letter to the governor, it is those three things. When you look at Japan or South Korea or Taiwan or New Zealand, the CDC mitigation matters, they`re simple. We`re not asking for a treatment or cure or vaccine. That will come later. We`re just asking for basic stuff that has been shown to mitigate the spread of this infection.

HUMBLE: Right, all these things are layers, you know? The testing capacity leads into contact tracing, which that contact tracing is a layer. Complying with the CDC mitigation measures in retail stores, bars, restaurants, et cetera, that`s a mitigation measure.

We need to have all the layers in place, which, by the way, are manageable things. We`re not talking about another stay at home order. We`re talking about in policy decisions and administrative action that if taken can stem the tide, move the needle and get us to the vaccine so that we don`t have to do another stay-at-home order which has tremendous collateral damage in public health and otherwise.

VELSHI: Will, good to see you again. Thank you for being with us. I`m sorry that we have to talk as frequently as we do, but we appreciate the time that you take to keep us up to speed. Will Humble is the former director of the Arizona Department of Human Services. He`s now the executive director of the Arizona Public Health Association.

All right. Coming up, state officials managed to push back on Trump administration policies by taking the president to court. Today, the states are trying again in a fight for big implications for all of us. We`ll tell you about that, next.

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VELSHI: When Donald Trump first ran for president, he said a lot of racist and homophobic things about immigrants and how he was going to build a wall to keep many of them out. He also said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want people to come into our country legally. I want to have a big, fat, beautiful open door.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI: A big, fat, beautiful open door for legal immigrants. That`s how Donald Trump tried to convince the American people and the voters that it wasn`t really about hating immigrants. It was just about the rule of law, getting the so-called bad hombres out if you recall.

Donald Trump has done many things, both during that election and in the four years since that made it really clear that he really is prejudice against immigrants of all stripes or maybe of most stripes, and doesn`t care much about the rule of law either. But some level of welcome for immigrants, some level of acknowledgments that immigration is important to America`s economy, if not its values and traditions was mainstream Republican consensus at the time.

As recently as last year, administration officials were still telling reporters Trump actually wanted to increase the number of visas for highly skilled workers. But here`s the thing, Donald Trump has repeatedly and emphatically slammed his big, fat, beautiful door in the faces of those same immigrants that his party once tried to make exceptions for.

The latest example is the Trump administration`s announcement of a new policy for international students who study at an American college and whose studies have moved online during the pandemic. The Trump administration essentially told those students to go back to where they came from, revoking their right to stay in the United States.

The decision doesn`t just upend the lives of those international students, it`s another discouragement of them to study and potentially build their lives in America. We`re shutting the door on some of the world`s best and brightest minds, giving up on their contributions to American business, to research, innovation and society now and down the road.

Harvard law school professor writes that the effect of pushing these students away will, quote, likely be an exodus of academic talent to schools in Europe or elsewhere, an intellectual catastrophe of historic proportions with long-term economic ramifications.

There is so much at stake in this move by the president, for the students, for the universities and for all of us that today the attorneys general of 16 states and D.C. joined the A.G. of Massachusetts in suing the administration to try and stop the policy. They`re asking a federal court in Boston to block the policy as the case moves forward.

No word yet. But as Rachel says, watch this space.

That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow.

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

Good evening, my friend.

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