LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel. Thank you very much.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Absolutely.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
Ezra Klein will join us tonight at the end of this hour. He is outraged that Donald Trump is more eager to try to avoid a recession than he is to save lives.
Congressman Eric Swalwell will also we joining us to explain how the influence of Nancy Pelosi on the House Democrats has changed the economic aid package being considered by the Senate tonight.
And Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey will be voting on that bill. He will give us the latest developments with the Senate legislation.
But we begin tonight as we always must with the numbers. As of today, the United States has 53,441 cases of coronavirus and 693 reported deaths from the coronavirus, but there is good news tonight. The president of the United States is not in charge. Now, that would be bad news in a pandemic if the president were anyone other than Donald Trump.
So the good news is that the worst, most corrupt president in history is not in charge of what he referred to today as opening up the country. Donald Trump did not close down the country, and so Donald Trump cannot open up the country.
If you`re at home in America today and you didn`t go to work it`s because your employer told you to stay home or your governor ordered you to stay home, because your governors are in charge of what you can and cannot do in your states now, not the president of the United States, who has not closed a single business in the United States. Donald Trump has not closed anything in the United States, and so Donald Trump cannot re-open anything in the United States.
So, everything Donald Trump said today about opening up the country is utter nonsense. But it is deadly nonsense.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So I think Easter Sunday and you`ll have packed churches all over our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: If that happened on Easter Sunday, just 19 days from now, then in May, you would have millions of dead people all over the country. Millions.
If you had packed churches all over the country, including California on Easter Sunday, by May, there could be 1 million dead people in California. Packed churches on Easter Sunday in the state of New York. Packed churches in Massachusetts where the Republican governor today ordered the closure of all nonessential businesses in Massachusetts.
And when you`re at home tomorrow in Massachusetts, it`s because your Governor Charlie baker told you to stay home, not Donald Trump. And Donald Trump has absolutely no control over when you go back to work in Massachusetts or in Louisiana, a state that Donald Trump won by 20 points.
You didn`t go to work today in Louisiana because your governor won`t let you. And in Louisiana today, your governor told the president of the United States that Louisiana may run out of hospital capacity by early April. Easter is April 12th.
None of the governors who have shut down their states have paid any attention to what Donald Trump thinks about shutting down businesses. None of the fevered daydreams that Donald Trump shared with the country today are going to happen. None of them. Churches are not going to be packed all over the country on Easter.
The pope has cancelled public Easter Sunday services at the Vatican and he did it two weeks ago. And Donald Trump wants you in a packed church in America on Easter Sunday. The pope doesn`t want you to die by going to church. But Donald Trump?
Well, Donald Trump thinks you`re going to die anyway. Donald Trump actually said today that if you do not go back to work by Easter, you will kill yourselves. That`s what he said. That`s the way Donald Trump actually sees this situation.
That`s the way Donald Trump sees you. Donald Trump does not believe that life is worth living if you lose money. If you have less money this year than last year, if you have a lot less money this year than last year, then the obvious choice is to kill yourself because life is not worth living in Donald Trump`s value system.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: You`re going to lose more people by putting a country into a massive recession or depression. You`re going to lose people. You`re going to have suicides by the thousands.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Just let that sink in. Suicides by the thousands.
You have a president of the United States who believes that if the whole country goes back to work in three weeks the number of people who will die from coronavirus is less than the number of people who would kill themselves if they don`t go back to work. He believes that is your value system. He believes that is the state of mental health in America. He believes we are on the verge of mass suicides.
And so, in order to save you from your looming suicide, he wants you to go back and work and maybe, maybe get killed by the coronavirus. But he`s absolutely certain that the coronavirus body count will be lower than what he sees as the inevitable suicide body count.
In the years of vile madness spewing from the mouth of Donald Trump, we have never heard a sicker, more perverse formulation than what that man said today. He said it`s time for America to choose between death from coronavirus or mass suicide. Donald Trump thinks he`s a wartime president, but he doesn`t think the war should last for more than another month, because if it does, Americans will kill themselves.
Ask Donald Trump how long World War II lasted and I guarantee you he has no idea. But he does seem to think that staying home watching Netflix is more difficult than winning World War II.
Nothing Donald Trump said today has any legal power whatsoever. None. But surely, there will be some fanatical Trump followers taking more risks because of what Donald Trump said today, including the deadly risk of gathering on Easter Sunday without enough social distancing.
And so, it is very likely that more people will get sick because of Donald Trump`s Easter vision and more people will die in America because of Donald Trump`s Easter vision. And they won`t all be Trump followers because we are all in this infection pool together, and if Donald Trump encourages people to take risks that get them infected, we are not immune from the infected Trump followers.
So Donald Trump`s encouragement of recklessness today is just more encouragement for the sane people of America, the majority, to stay in their homes and not interact with anyone outside of their homes. In other words, it is more encouragement for New York and California and all the other locked down states to remain locked down. California and New York produce almost 25 percent of the gross national product of the United States of America. Twenty-five percent of our economy tonight is under the control of the governor of California, Gavin Newsom, and the governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, and today, New York saw a spike in its reported numbers of coronavirus cases.
New York`s rate of infection is now doubling every three days. Today, Governor Cuomo made it very clear there will be no packed churches in the state of New York on Easter Sunday. And he had a very important warning for America.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOVERNOR ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: New York is the canary in the coal mine. New York is going first. We have the highest and the fastest rate of infection. What happens to New York is going to wind up happening to California and Washington state and Illinois. It`s just a matter of time.
We are just the test case. We are just a test case. And that`s how the nation should look at it. Look at us today. Where we are today, you will be in three weeks or four weeks or five weeks or six weeks. We are your future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: We are your future.
Leading off our discussion tonight: Dr. Patrice Harris, a psychiatrist and president of the American Medical Association.
Ron Klain is with us. He`s a former senior aide to former Vice President Joe Biden and President Obama. He served as the Ebola Czar, so-called, during the Obama administration. He is now an adviser to Joe Biden`s 2020 presidential campaign.
And Democratic Congressman Ami Bera of California. He`s an internal medicine physician and the former chief medical officer for Sacramento.
Dr. Harris, I want to begin with you because we heard the most extraordinary thing that we could possibly hear in this situation today, which was Donald Trump`s assessment of the mental health of the country and his prediction of thousands and thousands of suicide, mass suicide if people do not go back to work, apparently because he believes they value their paycheck more than their lives.
What can you both as a psychiatrist and a medical professional, what can you say in reaction to the president of the United States saying a thing like that?
DR. PATRICE HARRIS, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION: Well, Lawrence, in reality suicide has increased 30 percent over the last ten years, particularly among youth and particularly among youth in communities of color. And so we are long overdue in this country for having a national conversation about mental health and suicide, but we are clearly seeing an increase in anxiety and fear and worry right now at this moment as this pandemic spreads.
So, job one right now is preventing the spread of COVID-19. And we do that by an all-in approach. We do that individually by making sure we are physical distancing and we also make sure that the health professionals on the front line have the equipment that they need, the tests that we need. Again, all in the service of preventing the spread of this epidemic. That`s our job one right now.
It is a false choice between the health of this nation and the economy of this nation. The best strategy for economic recovery is preventing the spread of COVID-19 right now.
O`DONNELL: Congressman Bera, I want to give you as a physician and a member of Congress just a wide open field to react to what the president said today.
REP. AMI BERA (D-CA): You know, I think it was ridiculous. We can do this, but right now the right strategy is staying at home, trying to get ahead of this wave that`s coming. You`re already seeing in New York. I agree with Governor Cuomo, we`re going to see it here in California and Washington state, and it will spread across this country.
What we have to do right now is stay at home, give our hospitals the chance to build the capacity to try to handle this coming wave, get the protective equipment out to those doctors and nurses, the folks that are putting themselves in harm`s way, and thank you for doing that to all those health care professionals.
But let`s stop listening to the president. He hasn`t shown leadership thus far. You know, hats off to the governors, but all the states have to work together if we`re not going to see that leadership from the federal level.
O`DONNELL: Ron Klain, the good news as I said at the beginning is that Donald Trump is not in control of anything that he actually said today. He can`t send anyone back to work. He can`t, quote, re-open the country, as he kept saying. There is no presidential power that he has that can make the words he said today come true.
But there he was pretending that it`s up to him when, in fact, Gavin Newsom and Andrew Cuomo between them have control of 25 percent of the U.S. economy, and other governors around the country, Massachusetts, Louisiana, Ohio, they`re all making the real decisions about what to do next.
RON KLAIN, EBOLA CZAR, OBAMA ADMINISTRATION: Yes, Lawrence, look, the only decision that President Trump is making about Easter is what his photo-op with the Easter bunny is going to look like. He abdicated his responsibility to protect the American people and made no decisions about what should be closed and therefore he`s going to make no decisions about what should be open.
And if he`s really concerned about the depression, recession, whatever economic state you want to call what we`re headed towards, he should have done his job in the first place. The virus isn`t his fault but the fact that this country wasn`t prepared for it, that we didn`t test promptly so we could isolate cases, we didn`t get gear and equipment and hospital beds up quickly to prevent the kind of scenes we`re seeing now in New York and other cities in this country, that is Donald Trump`s fault.
So the time to prevent the economic calamity was two months ago. If Donald Trump wants Americans at their jobs, he should have done his job when he had a chance to do it.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Dr. Fauci said today at the White House briefing when asked about the president`s idea of sending people back into packed churches by Easter. Let`s listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Dr. Fauci, since as the president said, you and Dr. Birx and others will be guiding him in making the decision. Where are you now with this timeline of 19 days from now?
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY & INFECTIOUS DISEASES: So that`s really very flexible. We just had a conversation with the president in the oval office talking about, you know, you can look at a date, but you got to be very flexible, and on a literally day by day and week by week basis.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Congressman Bera, that sounds like someone in the Oval Office who has made the decision, I will fight this battle with this president on the day that it matters, and the 19 days from now is when we`ll find out exactly where Anthony Fauci is on this.
BERA: Look, Tony Fauci is a well-revered health care expert. We`ve got to keep him where he is right now. He`s doing what he has to do to stay in position.
Let the science and the health care professionals dictate how we open up this country, how we start to get people back to work, but right now, we`ve got to get ahead of this virus, and that is Donald Trump`s responsibility. He didn`t prepare us for this. We had time to get testing up, to get protective equipment in place, and he squandered that time.
So, now, it`s up to the states and the folks on the front line to do what they have to do to get ready, and I trust our governors at this juncture. I don`t trust Donald Trump.
O`DONNELL: Dr. Harris, if you could be in that oval office when Anthony Fauci is there talking to the president, what would you add, what would you tell the president?
HARRIS: Well, Lawrence, it`s simple. We can either follow the science and the data and save lives or we can ignore the science and we will lose lives. That is the choice that we have at this moment.
O`DONNELL: And, Ron Klain, you`ve been in that situation. You`ve been in the Oval Office. You know Dr. Fauci. How would you translate what we just heard Dr. Fauci say?
KLAIN: Well, you know, as you know, Lawrence, Dr. Fauci served seven U.S. presidents all the way back to Ronald Reagan and he`s done that by being very, very candid and also very clever about how he delivers that advice, and I`m sure he`s delivering a strong message to President Trump behind closed doors.
Ultimately, the question is whether or not Donald Trump is going to listen to that advice or ignore it, as he has time and again. Again, we`re in this mess not because Donald Trump doesn`t have great medical advisers like Tony Fauci, it`s because he hasn`t listened to them. And so, I have complete confidence that Tony Fauci will tell Donald Trump the right thing.
I have much less confidence that Trump will listen and obey. But as you say, in the end, it isn`t Trump`s choice. He abdicated his responsibility, other people will make that choice for him.
O`DONNELL: Congressman Bera, Nancy Pelosi came back to town and killed Mitch McConnell`s Republican aid bill that they are working on. Do you have confidence that a bill will emerge that the Democrats in the Senate can agree on and that House Democrats can agree on?
BERA: I think we`ll get something done. Again, they say we`re at the two- yard line. You know, this is a question of values. We want to help the most vulnerable.
You know, I understand things are getting hung up because we do think we ought to increase SNAP benefits right now for folks that actually need to put food on their table that are out of work that need those benefits and, you know, the Republicans want more help for the airlines.
We`re all for protecting the airlines and big industries, but we also want to make sure that this money goes to the workers in those industries, not to stock buybacks or CEO bonuses. Let`s get this help to the folks that actually need it, the working Americans, the folks that are being laid off right now.
O`DONNELL: Congressman Bera, Dr. Harris, Ron Klain, thank you all for starting us off tonight. We really appreciate it.
BERA: Thank you.
HARRIS: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: And when come back -- thank you -- since the lobbyists involved in writing the Republican bill leaked it to the Democrats, that is how the Democrats got it, they leaked it from lobbyists, the Democrats have been rewriting the Trump/McConnell bill. The Democratic bill is now reportedly close to being ready for consideration by the Senate.
Yesterday, Donald Trump said that he would have oversight over the billions of dollars the government will give to corporations. Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts will join us to tell us how the Democrats have changed that.
O`DONNELL: President Trump is still refusing to use the Defense Production Act to order manufacturers to produce more surgical masks.
And so, Congressman Ayanna Pressley told Ari Melber what that means in her congressional district.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. AYANNA PRESSLEY (D-MA): In Massachusetts, one of the communities in my district is Dorchester, and there`s a young girl there, Gaby (ph), who is 10 years old at St. Brendan School who has been personally sewing 24 masks a day. Listen, I`m grateful for that benevolence from our children and from our private sector, but it is not going to meet the scale and scope of this pandemic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The Dorchester reporter tweeted this photograph of Gaby Araica (ph) today at her sewing machine. She`s a fourth grader at St. Brendan`s School in Dorchester. And when I was a fourth grader at that very same school, in Boston, I never did anything as important as what Gaby is doing now. You can read more about Gaby at dotnews.com.
Gaby`s congressional representatives have been working hard to try to provide our health care workers with everything they need.
We`re joined now by Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey for the latest developments on the aid package the Senate is working on.
Senator, thank you very much for joining us tonight. We really appreciate it.
What can you tell us about the Senate bill as it is taking shape now and what it provides for health care providers?
SEN. ED MARKEY (D-MA): Well, first of all, we have fought very hard to put in as much money as we can for hospitals, for our first responders, nurses, doctors, for the community health centers and because of the Democrats, we just keep fighting to make that number bigger and bigger because hospitals could go bankrupt. We could have medical facilities all over this country within a month desperate because they don`t have the resources in order to take care of the people who are going to be at their doors looking for assistance for COVID-19. So that`s at the top of the list.
But we also have to make sure that we continue to put pressure on Donald Trump because Gaby in Dorchester should not have to be making masks for nurses and doctors in Boston. The president should invoke the Defense Production Act. Rather than Gaby at her sewing machine, it should be the president calling a virtual summit of the business leaders of America and telling them that his own Department of Health and Human Services says that we need 3.5 billion masks to get through this pandemic, 3.5 billion, not millions, not we just found 100,000 and we`re sending them into this state, 3.5 billion.
So he has to enlist corporate America using the Defense Production Act and telling them that he`s not going to stand up until they tell him how those masks, how those ventilators, how those tests are going to be manufactured in America over the next month, and if there`s no plan then he will not rest until he has one for the American people.
Otherwise, we`re going to have 10-year-olds like Gaby, a real hero, knowing that there`s a problem in her own neighborhood.
I had a nurse today who told me that because they didn`t shut down the beaches in Florida, up in Boston and New York City, that they might as well be handing out package of COVID-19 to all of the snowbirds getting on planes from Florida to Boston and New York. That`s how that nurse viewed this epidemic, just coming up.
And Gaby knows that they don`t have masks, that they`re being told to reuse masks in Massachusetts right now. And it`s going to be something that`s a preview of coming attractions for this whole country.
And only President Trump invoking the Defense Production Act like it`s World War II -- and that`s what this is, it`s a new world war against this disease, and he has to be the leader. And thus far, as the nurse said to me today, we have the wrong person being asked to make the right decisions for our country.
O`DONNELL: Yesterday, Donald Trump said that he would be the oversight of this basically slush fund that the Republicans were trying to create to give out money to corporations. This is, of course, a president who was impeached for misappropriation of $400 billion.
And I want to listen to what Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said about this was you are in this fight with House Democrats and Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democrats.
Let`s listen to what the congresswoman said about this oversight of the funding.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): There is talk about there being an inspector general and there being a panel, but from what we`re seeing in the bits and pieces of language that we`re able to kind of scrap together is that all of these entities really have no policing authority. They don`t have the ability to actually stop these funds from going to the Trump properties, to going to any Trump organization, from going to saying, hey, McDonald`s or Amazon, if you -- if you`re going to take this money, you need to make sure that we`re guaranteeing paid sick leave to workers. So I think that there`s a lot of problems with accountability.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: I know Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez has endorsed your re-election campaign, so I imagine you think fairly similarly about this issue. What have you been able to achieve in the oversight?
MARKEY: Well, Alexandra is right. When the Republicans sent over the package on Saturday, there was no transparency. We wouldn`t know who got these billions of dollars for six months. There was no limits on executive compensation, on stock buy-backs, there were no worker retention provisions in the bill, it just came over pretty much as something that would go over to Donald Trump in the White House and then he could just sit there with $500 billion and do whatever he wanted to do with it with no knowledge of what had happened for six months.
So the Democrats have been fighting hard for the last four days. That`s why we voted no on Sunday, why we voted no yesterday. It was to force the Republicans back to the table so that we could put safeguards around this program.
Amongst other things that we were fighting for -- more unemployment insurance, sick leave, other issues.
But around this one program, it was an absolute disgrace. It was a scandal waiting to happen if Donald Trump had $500 million -- $500 billion to dispense with no oversight whatsoever, and we will have an inspector general that will be part of this program as well.
So, we haven`t seen the final details yet. It`s still, you know, in negotiation, but it`s a lot better than it was, but it`s still a work in progress.
O`DONNELL: Senator Ed Markey, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.
MARKEY: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: And when we come back, Congressman Eric Swalwell will join us with his reaction to what the President had to say today. And he will tell us how Nancy Pelosi got the agreement of the Democratic members of the House on what they should be fighting for in that aid package moving through the Senate.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, ANCHOR MSNBC: Sunday, on Twitter, I said you could ignore what Mitch McConnell was doing in the Senate that day because it had no chance of becoming law and that Nancy Pelosi would get the last word about what would have to be in legislation.
Mitch McConnell pushed for a vote on his dead-on-arrival bill anyway, and of course, he lost that vote in the Senate and then tried to blame Democrats for blocking this massive aid package. But Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer succeeded in exposing the Trump-McConnell legislation written by lobbyists for corporate lobbyists, as the greedy corporate giveaway that it was, it included unlimited amounts of money that could be given directly to Donald Trump personally to compensate him for whatever he might claim his business losses are at his hotels during the coronavirus pandemic. And now, the bill that is close to passage in the Senate bears very little resemblance to what Mitch McConnell asked the Senate to vote on.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): When they came out with their bill, it was trickle-down. Our bill is bubble-up. And I think we`re finding a place where there`s a recognition that we have to, we have to, we have to, take care of our workers if our economy is going to survive. It`s not only the right thing to do, it`s what - consumer confidence is what grows the economy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining our discussion now, Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell of California. He`s on the judiciary and the intelligence committees in the House.
Congressman, how did Nancy Pelosi get the agreement of House Democrats on what to fight for in this legislation, since you`re all scattered around the country right now?
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): Yes. But she`s in touch with us every day. We have leadership calls that I`m a part of, but also caucus-wide calls. And her emphasis has been, first and foremost, to take care of health care workers. I think that`s right because these are the folks who are on the front lines, and if they`re able to address this crisis, that`s the best way to get us all back on our feet healthcare-wise but also personally, financially-wise. Second, to make sure that any dollars that go out the door to companies that there are guardrails put in place.
Look, we don`t trust Donald Trump or Steve Mnuchin to run a local bake sale, let alone disseminate hundreds of billions of dollars without any checks on them. But first and foremost, we want to make sure that people who are unemployed have unemployment insurance that is coming to them immediately. We want to make sure that employers, small businesses especially, have grants and loans available to them so they can meet their payroll and their overhead that is preventing them from meeting their employees` needs right now.
O`DONNELL: Congressman, I want to get your reaction to what the President said today about trying to get - wanting America to be back to work by Easter and wanting the churches to be packed all over the country by Easter, which, of course, includes California. Luckily, California Governor Gavin Newsom will not allow that to happen. But your reaction to what the President was trying to say today?
SWALWELL: Well, I have many family members myself just like my constituents, who are fighting cancer, who have compromised immune systems, and I can`t imagine saying that seeing the stock market go up a couple hundred points is worth their lives.
What the President could do is show leadership and ask states like Florida and Texas and others who are slow to respond to make sure they get caught up with what New York and California and others are doing, Lawrence, because we could have the best intentions in California. We could follow all the rules. But we are at the mercy of the lowest common denominator.
And if they`re not following the Shelter-in-Place guidance in those states, we can`t open up tourism in California, we can`t open up our beaches and Disneyland and see those workers go back to their jobsites. We have to wait for everyone else to catch up. So leadership is what we need right now, not artificial timelines.
O`DONNELL: And Congressman, has there been any significant discussion about the possibility of members of the House being able to vote remotely since it`s now dangerous to go back into that workplace?
SWALWELL: No, I`ve asked for us to do that. I proposed legislation back in 2013 envisioning this. Our first priority is, again, the personal and financial health of our constituents and just want to make sure that we can move with agility to address these issues. And the Speaker, I think, very wisely asked the Rules Committee to look at the different possibilities, and they are exploring how we could do this if we have to.
I think the hope is that we can have a bipartisan agreement and that we don`t have to bring everyone here, and we have a unanimous agreement. But we`ll be ready to do whatever it takes to benefit American families.
O`DONNELL: Congressman Eric Swalwell, thank you for joining our discussion tonight. We really appreciate it. Thank you.
O`DONNELL: And when we come back, the President says that the hospitals have everything they need. The governors say that they don`t. An emergency room doctor will join us next with a report from the front lines on what he and other heroes of this story need in their fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): Where are the ventilators? Where are the gowns? Where`s the PPEs? Where are the masks? Where are they? FEMA says we`re sending 400 ventilators. Really? What am I going to - what am I going to do with 400 ventilators when I need 30,000?
You pick the 26,000 people who are going to die because you only send 400 ventilators. You have 20,000 ventilators in the stockpile. Release the ventilators to New York. How can we be in a situation where you can have New Yorkers possibly dying because they can`t get a ventilator but a federal agency saying I`m going to leave the ventilators in the stockpile? I mean, have we really come to that point?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joe Biden heard that, and this is what he told Nicolle Wallace here on MSNBC a few hours later.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would enforce - I would enforce the Defense Production Act. I would be surging equipment and personnel. I would be moving in a direction where we had the United States military, which I called for several weeks ago, building hospitals like they`re finally happening, and the National Guard is helping in New York with - at the Javits Center. We have this capacity. But most of all, I`d be protecting our docs, our nurses and first responders, because if we lose them, we are in real, real trouble.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, one of the heroes, Dr. Rob Davidson. He`s an emergency medicine physician in Michigan. He`s also Executive Director of the Committee to Protect Medicare.
Dr. Davidson, what is the situation in the real world of medicine these days? We have a report tonight, breaking news report tonight from Michigan saying that a hospital group around the Detroit area has 635 hospitalized for COVID-19 and that they have basically reached their limit of what they can treat at this point.
ROB DAVIDSON, ER PHYSICIAN & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, COMMITTEE TO PROTECT MEDICARE: Yes. It`s one of the biggest hospitals in Michigan, and they`re near capacity on ventilators as well. You know, the reality is we don`t have the equipment we need. We don`t have the personal protective equipment. We don`t have the tests.
I routinely now, over this weekend, am seeing patients that are almost certainly positive or could be positive, and I can`t tell them. I can test a certain number of people. I can test people sick enough to get admitted to the hospital with or immunocompromised status or front line health care workers with symptoms, but everyone else, I have to tell them, you know, I`m sorry, we`re not sure, we don`t know, and we`ll just have to send you home to self-isolate, which in our state where we have a Shelter-in-Place order now to have those people go and isolate within their homes away from their families is just adding to the stress of this entire situation.
It would be nice to be able to tell people who are negative they are negative and to really identify the number of true positives.
O`DONNELL: And doctor, you say you see patients who you believe are probably positive but you can`t get them tests. Tell us about what it`s like for you in that situation. What protection do you have when you are seeing these patients who you won`t even be able to test and therefore you won`t know what you were exposed to?
DAVIDSON: Yes. Because of the minimal numbers of N95 masks I think across the country we`re hearing, certainly in our state, within our hospital, we`re wearing paper masks, we`re wearing goggles and gowns, reusable gowns, and gloves, and we`re doing - using procedures that we`ve trained for at the doorway to limit exposure anywhere else in the hospital. And yet we have a certain number of surgical masks, really not adequate for this type of virus, but we only have a limited number of those. So we`re being told to save those throughout the shift and only replace them if they get soiled or if they get moist.
And again, this is a - this is not the fault of individual hospitals or individual states. This is a federal lack of response. We feel like we`re really being let down by our federal government who has the capability to get us the equipment we need, and they`re not doing it.
O`DONNELL: Doctor, how do you make that personal decision? You know you need more protection in the work you`re doing and yet you decide to stay, you decide to see patients and have patients walk in who may be positive for coronavirus and deal with them. There`s another choice, which to say I`m not going to do this work at this time, it`s too dangerous.
DAVIDSON: Yes. Myself, like so many in this committee that I run, hundreds of doctors across this country and really everywhere, this was a calling for me. I`ve been doing this for 20 years. I`ve been serving the community that I serve for nearly that amount of time. And I - you feel a sense of responsibility, also to your team members.
We have nurses, we have respiratory therapists and X-ray techs, and all of us are at times throughout our jobs putting ourselves on the line. We do that in the Emergency Department with violent patients, with other pathogens, with erratic sleep schedules. And now we`re doing it with the coronavirus.
The unfortunate thing is we feel that the federal government could do something about it. They could fully enact the Defense Production Act and get us more N95s, get us more protective equipment so we`re not putting ourselves on the line.
O`DONNELL: Dr. Rob Davidson, thank you very much, doctor, for joining our discussion tonight. Thank you for your service. Thank you for your daily heroism. We all really appreciate it. Thank you, doctor.
DAVIDSON: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: And when we come back, Ezra Klein will join our discussion. We`ll get Ezra`s analysis of the aid package the Senate is working on. And as most of you know, Ezra is as calm and even-tempered a guest as we have ever had on this program, but he has expressed his outrage today about Donald Trump valuing economic activity more than human life. Ezra Klein will get tonight`s Last Word.
O`DONNELL: Today, Bill Gates said, "It`s very tough to say to people, hey, keep going to restaurants, go buy new houses, ignore that pile of bodies over in the corner, we want you to keep spending because there`s some politician that thinks GDP growth is what counts."
Because Donald Trump cares about his personal income and his businesses` income more than he cares about public health and public safety, he keeps saying this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I don`t want the cure to be worse than the problem itself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The problem with the coronavirus is death. There is no cure that is worse than death. We have a general societal agreement on that, but that agreement does not include Donald Trump, who clearly believes that the very worst thing that can happen to anyone is losing income or losing wealth.
And so he is eager to get a bill passed in the Congress that will allow him to get his hands on compensation money from the United States Treasury Secretary, who he appointed, for his businesses. That`s what Donald Trump wants. And Donald Trump is eager for his hotels to be filled with guests again, paying income to him, and that`s why he is eager to see packed churches all over America on Easter Sunday, just 19 days from now.
Joining our discussion now, Ezra Klein, Co-founder of Vox. He is the host of the podcast "The Ezra Klein Show" and the author of "Why We`re Polarized."
Ezra, thank you very much for joining us today. I saw a tweet that you`ve put out today that had more outrage, let me say, than I am accustomed to reading in Ezra Klein tweets about the equation the President is presenting now.
EZRA KLEIN, CO-FOUNDER, VOX & AUTHOR, WHY WE`RE POLARIZED: I think this is one of the worst days I`ve ever watched in American politics. I don`t really know a simpler way to say it than that. Look, being President is always an important job, but it is more important on some days and at some moments than others. And one of the days and one of the moments in which it is fundamentally necessary to do a good job is when your words might kill people.
And what happened today during Donald Trump`s comments, President Donald Trump`s comments, is that he said something that may lead to people dying. We already know from political science evidence that when he downplays the virus, the people who trust him also begin to stop taking it seriously. We`ve seen polling that says 68 percent of the Democrats, only 40 percent of Republicans think someone in their family might get it.
And then Brian Schaffner, political scientist, showed that when Trump is downplaying, Republicans stopped searching for hand sanitizer while Democrats were doing it. But then when Trump begins talking about national emergency, they care.
So if you create a situation where Republicans do not take this seriously and stop socially distancing, the virus doesn`t care who you voted for. The virus doesn`t care what side of the divide you`re on. People will die, and many of them will be his people. It`s a shocking, shocking display of irresponsibility and short-term thinking.
O`DONNELL: And Ezra, we see the President concerned with nothing but the economics of this. But I don`t see any comprehension on the part of the President or really many other people in Washington about what these economics are.
I mean, I started referring to this as comparable to 1929, weeks ago, when people were still referring to the recession of 2008 or the stock market drop of 1987. I thought this looked like the great crash of 1929 and the possible great depression of the 1930s then. I don`t think Washington understands that you cannot create stimulus for an economy that isn`t functioning at all.
KLEIN: This is - I agree with you. And in some ways, it`s going to be harder even than the Great Depression. This is - as some economists have said to me, it`s what happens if you mix a recession, a financial crisis, a natural disaster and a war. Right? We don`t just have a shortfall in demand. We don`t just have a shortfall in people buying things. We also have an economy that we are stopping. We are telling people they cannot supply their goods. They cannot supply their labor. They cannot go to a restaurant. You send me a check right now, I still can go to a restaurant and use it. I`m in Shelter-in-Place.
So the big picture here is we`re facing an unbelievable economic crisis, but I want to say something really important about this. I`m not against the idea that you have to take the cost of economic suffering and that at some point, that does have a trade-up in life.
We deal with that all the time in the American politics. It is a harsh reality of simply being alive in any economy. But it is not a choice between letting the economy go as normal and letting a virus rip through the country.
If bodies are piling up, as Bill Gates said, if you cannot - by the way, as a young person getting into a hospital to deliver a child, to get a pneumonia checked out, to get a surgery done, to go to the dentist, if your co-workers are not coming into work, if your parents are dying, the economy is not going to go on as normal.
I was talking to economists all day about this. I was talking to Jason Furman, who was one of Obama`s chief economists, and others. And the thing that the economists keep saying to me is we`re not the ones saying this.
KLEIN: I don`t know what form of economic logic is coming here, but the economists will not tell you that allowing a pandemic to kill 1.7 million Americans, sicken countless more, and completely bring the country to a standstill is going to allow the economy to function normally. This is a false choice of enormous, enormous consequence that is being set up by the President and some of his allies.
O`DONNELL: Ezra, one of my minor contributions to this is that I have not allowed the word "stimulus" to appear anywhere in this show on the graphics describing what Congress is up to because we are in a situation that is far more grave than what stimulus would imply. Stimulus would imply a kind of false hope, a kind of false possibility of actually increasing economic output when the economy is closed.
KLEIN: I think it`s a very important point. I was talking to Senator Michael Bennet from Colorado and along with Cory Booker and Sherrod Brown. He has, I think, one of the best cash assistance bills out there right now. And what he said to me I think was very wise on this.
Stimulus, as you say, the idea of a stimulus is you`re increasing economic output. There`s a difference between what your economy can produce and what it is producing, and you`re trying to fill that hole with money.
What he is trying to do is economic support. You are trying to make it possible at least for right now for people to survive an economic stoppage that you have to put in for public health reasons. There will become a time for huge amounts of stimulus to try to get the economy back.
Right now, we are trying to make it possible for the economy to be as bad as it`s going to need to be in order to keep something much worse from happening.
O`DONNELL: Ezra Klein, thank you very much for joining us tonight. We really appreciate it. Ezra Klein --
KLEIN: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: -- gets tonight`s LAST WORD. That is THE LAST WORD. "11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts right now.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END