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timeline for vaccine TRANSCRIPT: 4/20/20, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O'Donnell

Guests: Michael Osterholm, Peter Hotez, Rob Davidson, Debbie Stabenow, Bina Venkataraman, John Heilemann

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: I can`t wait for tomorrow night, Rachel, after that. I mean, the question becomes how high does it go or does this go to the Washington? And what`s the rational for changing the protocol on medical personnel as they have done as you`ve just outlined they used to have a much straighter protocol, now they have softened it all the way to kind of not having a protocol.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Yes, exactly while the V.A. has been saying publicly everything is fine, everything is fine. Nothing to see here. We have no problems. Our staff has all the equipment we need and we`re not overwhelmed.

I mean, the V.A. is the last resort medical system for the United States if the civilian health care system collapses or needs help. We`re supposed to turn to the V.A. as this gigantic government run health system. Their own problems are evident if you listen to their employees but they have been covering it up, they`ve been really happy talking all of us about it, which isn`t all that rational if they really do need help and that`s why we`re going to do the special report tomorrow.

O`DONNELL: Great, Rachel. So glad you`re on that case. We`ll be watching tomorrow night. Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Well, Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan will join us tonight with the latest on possible new package of relief legislation. The Senate is working on. We`ll also get Senator Stabenow`s reaction to the very, very small and I stress small number of protesters that have occurred in Michigan, protests by people who are protesting the governor`s stay-at-home order there.

Dr. Peter Hotez will join us. He told "The New York Times" this weekend that there is too much magical thinking, that was his phrase "magical thinking", about a vaccine for coronavirus.

John Heilemann will take us -- will give us a look at the presidential campaign with a new poll showing Joe Biden ahead of Donald Trump and showing that more people think Joe Biden will do a better job of handling the coronavirus pandemic than Donald Trump.

We begin tonight with the numbers. The numbers of reported coronavirus cases in the United States is now 775,647 and as of tonight, there are officially 42,043 reported deaths linked to coronavirus in the United States.

Joe Joyce, a Trump voter, and his daughter Kristen disagreed about the coronavirus pandemic. Kristen told "The New York Times" he watched Fox, she said. He told "The Times", he watched Fox and believe it was under control.

Kristen remembers her father saying, don`t you think this is fishy? Do you know anyone who has it? Do you know anyone who has died from it? And I said, dad, I don`t know anyone now, but give me a week and I bet I will.

And a week later, Kristen`s dad Joe Joyce was hospitalized with coronavirus. In a Pulitzer-worthy report in "The New York Times," Ginia Bellafante tells the story of Joe Joyce from 1970s when he returned from Vietnam, to his time working as a gym teacher at a Catholic school in Brooklyn, to his 43 years owning and operating J.J. Bubbles Bar in Bay Ridge, 43 years that earned him the adjective "beloved" in the "New York Times" headline about him.

Joe Joyce boarded a cruise ship in Florida on March 1st, the day after the United States recorded its first death from coronavirus. That cruise ship with Joe Joyce and his wife aboard was sailing full speed towards Spain, full speed ahead toward the virus in Spain. The second day that Joe Joyce was at sea, Donald Trump held a rally in North Carolina with thousands of people crowded to see him and cheer him on.

Joe Joyce flew back to New York from Barcelona on March 14th. He went back to work at his bar the next day. The day after that, New York City closed bars, forced all bars to close. So Joe and his wife went to their house in New Hampshire for kind of forced vacation.

Ten days later, on March 27th, Joe`s daughter Kristen immediately called an ambulance when she got off the phone with her father because he sounded so sick on the phone. Kristen thinks her father would have cancelled the cruise and the trip to Europe, a trip to Spain if Donald Trump had taken the threat more seriously instead of actually calling the coronavirus a hoax at one of his rallies.

Kristen told "The Times": If Trump had gone on TV with a mask on and said, hey, this is serious. I don`t think he would have gone.

When her father began to feel sick, he resisted getting tested. He didn`t think he could have it, Kristen said, because he wasn`t 100 percent confident that it was a thing.

On April 9th, Joe Joyce died. Cause of death, COVID-19. Possible contributing cause of death, watching Fox and believing Donald Trump.

Joe Joyce is not the only one. Today, the intrepid Yamiche Alcindor asked Donald Trump a simple question, is he concerned -- concerned about people who listen to him, and believe him and then get sick? It was a simple question but the answer could not possibly have been more perverse.


YAMICHE ALCINDOR, PBS NEWSHOUR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I interviewed someone who said that his family got sick. They went to a funeral in mid March. They said mainly because the president wasn`t taking it seriously. If the president had a mask on and said we should stay home, I would have stayed home and instead, we have family members sick because they were listening to you, do you feel like or are you concerned that downplaying the virus maybe got some people sick?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A lot of people love Trump, right? A lot of people love me. See them all the time. I guess I`m here for a reason, you know?

To the best of my knowledge, I won. And I think we`re going to win again. I think we`re going to win in a landslide.


O`DONNELL: The Trump non-answer rambled on as his non-answers always do. And he never spoke one word of sympathy for any one of the 42,043 Americans that lost their lives to COVID-19 not one word. But he did say instead of expressing any sympathy for anyone who has died since that`s what the question was about, he did say a lot of people love me and he did say he thinks he`s going to win in a landslide. Those are the first two things that came to his mind and he said when asked about people dying because they made the mistake of people listening to him and believing him, and it`s very fair to interpret that as a demonstration of the only things that Donald Trump actually cares about.

A lot of people love me and I`m going to win in a landslide. It`s really one thing -- a lot of people love me, therefore, I`m going to win in a landslide. It`s one thing. That`s all he cares about.

If you`re offered a chance as president of the United States to say something about Americans who have died from coronavirus and what you say instead is a lot of people love me, so I`m going to win in a landslide. That makes it very, very clear nothing in this life matters more to you and that also makes it very clear that that is the answer of a sociopath, the answer of a person who demonstrated live on television today to the world that he`s incapable of feeling anything for anyone who has died of coronavirus.

You can just put the period of after anything. He`s incapable of feeling anything. The 42,043 are just a number in Donald Trump`s re-election calculations, a number he has to avoid talking about.

The other number that`s a problem for Donald Trump in his reelection campaign tonight is the 99 percent of us who have not been tested for coronavirus and most of us will not be tested for coronavirus by the time we get to election day in November and Donald Trump has to find a way to make that OK with voters who have not been tested for coronavirus while Joe Biden is campaigning for president promising to take presidential responsibility for providing Americans with the kind of testing they will need to safely go back to work or safely go back to school.

A new NBC News poll shows Joe Biden running at 49 percent of registered voters nationally with Donald Trump at 42 percent. That same NBC News poll finds that 87 percent say that it is very likely or somewhat likely that there would be a resurgence of COVID-19 cases if people suddenly went back to work now. Only 12 percent said that that is not likely. Those 12 percent along with Donald Trump don`t seem to have a clear idea about how a parachute works.

Dr. Najy Masri of Louisiana State University`s hospital has been keeping a video diary for us of life and death in hospitals in New Orleans, and tonight, Dr. Masri compares all of the precautions that we are taking, all of the precautions we`re taking that are working against the coronavirus. He compares those precautions to a parachute.


DR. NAJY MASRI, LSU DIRECTOR OF HOSPITALIST SERVICES OCHSNER MEDICAL CENTER: Today in the local paper here in New Orleans we have eight pages of obituaries of deaths here in the city in the last 24 hours. That`s triple the number of deaths that I`ve seen in any other paper before and it really a sign of the times.

But also here in this paper, there is a page-long ad from the area and local business leaders asking the mayor to lift the stay-at-home order and have an immediate return to the economy on May 1st. Now the concern here from the health care professionals is a second peak as we relax principles that have gotten us to this point.

You know, this is -- this is like a parachute. If I jump out of an airplane and everything is going good, I don`t say hey, the parachute is working well and get rid of the parachute. I keep the parachute on. I make sure I have a safe landing and we need to make sure as we move forward, we have a safe landing as we return to what was our normal before.


O`DONNELL: Leading off our discussion tonight, Michael Osterholm is the director of the Center for Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. He`s the author of "Deadliest Enemy: Our War Against Killer Germs", and John Heilemann, he`s national affairs for NBC News and MSNBC. He`s co-host of Showtime`s "The Circus" and editor and chief of "The Recount."

Mr. Osterholm, , the -- could you referee the issue that broke out between the governor of Maryland and the president. The president`s task force showing a map of where all the testing laboratories are in the United States and showing a map of where the testing laboratories are in Maryland, insisting that the governor of Maryland did not have to make a deal with South Korea in order to obtain testing from -- testing supplies from South Korea.

What is happening with testing in America tonight and what do the maps that the White House showed us today have to do with testing?

MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, PHD, CENTER FOR DISEASE RESEARCH & POLICY DIRECTOR: Well, first of all, I would tell you just right now believe your governors. They know where testing is at and how much is available in their states. They want testing more than I can tell you.

So, when they go up against the White House, it`s not about a political issue. It`s not about a subjective issue. It`s an objective issue for them. They know.

And I think that that`s one of the critical issues right now, the lack of good information about testing and how much. Just three weeks ago, I had an op-ed in the "New York Times" in which I said, within about three weeks, testing will implode in this country because of the fact we`ve run out of all our reagents. The chemicals we need are being used in a worldwide basis right now.

And people that come out here say publicly, we should test, test, test. That`s not feasible, that`s not possible because we have run out of reagents for many of these tests.

O`DONNELL: John Heilemann, the president was up there saying that Governor Hogan of Maryland just simply didn`t know, didn`t know what was available to him for testing. Let`s listen to how Governor Hogan responded to that on CNN.


GOV. LARRY HOGAN (R), MARYLAND: I`m not sure what the president`s referring to. I have a pretty good understanding of what`s going on and I appreciated the information that was provided by his team, but he wasn`t there. I`m not sure what he was trying to say.


O`DONNELL: John, that`s kind of a charitable reaction to what the president had to say about the governor.

JOHN HEILEMANN, MSNBC NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Right. I mean, look, the governor I think is trying to in a subtle way point out that most of the time Donald Trump doesn`t know what he`s talking about on the factual grounds and that it is the case that a lot of governors have found people within administration who they have been able to do business. It`s also the case that this is a classic kind of example of what happens with Donald Trump in any of these instances, we`ve seen it now, Lawrence, ever since this crisis started where he personalizes everything.

And right now, he feels as though he`s in the cross hairs on the question of testing. He, in fact, is really in the crosshairs on the question of testing which is to say under relentless and justifiable criticism on the point from public health experts, from governors, from people all over who are out in the field seeing how this virus is playing out, he`s been under fire for the last few months. But in this briefing tonight, he really seemed to be focused on the notion they are coming after me on testing and he sees Governor Hogan. He has to personalize it so he focuses on Hogan and says the thing that`s obviously not really connected to the reality Hogan is dealing with, why Hogan had to do what he had to do or what his administration is doing to help Hogan do what Hogan has to do.

O`DONNELL: Michael Osterholm, the president seems to want to get away from every question about testing in these briefings and if the questioning gets too pointed about testing, he`s actually ended some of the briefings. What are the questions you would like to have answered by the White House, by this task force about testing in America and where testing in America is going and what -- how much testing we need, what kinds of testing we need.

OSTERHOLM: Well, first of all, there is three basic questions we need to address.

Number one, what are we going to do about test reagents? This was provided by the private sector. The whole world wants them, we have to adjust how we manufacture them. This can`t happen overnight but needs federal leadership to make this happen. That will give us more tests.

The second thing we have to figure out, how well did they work? Right now, after the CDC had its challenges with testing that we all so know about, the FDA basically opened the flood gates and said anybody that had a shingle that said testing on it could come and test. We now have over 90 antibody tests out there which a senior FDA official himself said many of them are crappy.

So, we got to clean up the testing itself so that we know what really works or not. I mean, you wouldn`t know if you`re a physician`s office or clinic right now, of laboratory, how well these work. So, we got to get administration to get on top of that.

And the final thing we have to really become clear on why are we testing? You know, we have too many people getting on talk shows writing articles and papers saying, test, test, test. Without understanding what these tests can and can`t do.

I believe in the testing very much but it`s got to be done appropriately. Meaning, if I go and test a large group of people right now, half of them on antibody will be false positives. Meaning if I told the nurse you`re antibody positive, there`s a 1 percent to 2 percent chance it`s not even true.

That`s the kind of work we need to do instead of -- are we testing or not, we need the federal government to lead us in all three categories.

O`DONNELL: And, John Heilemann, Joe Biden has clearly made testing a presidential campaign issue. It looks like the number one presidential campaign issue. Donald Trump`s position on it is to run away from it as much as he can. This issue is going to be as far as I can tell, the number one issue in these presidential briefings going forward.

HEILEMANN: I think that the Biden campaign has a broader critique, Lawrence. It is going to be I think not just the central issue that the Biden campaign wants to drive but I think is going to be really at the core of what this election is about, which is what happened in the months of January, February and the first half of March? Obviously, testing was a big part of that.

But I think the broader political case that the Biden campaign wants to make and I think for a lot of Americans who are going to be going into this election judging Donald Trump`s performance, this now obviously is the central issue of his performance to the extent that the election is sometimes when there is a presidential incumbent, sometimes elections turn out to be closer to referendums and sometimes are closer to choices. Often unpopular incumbent try to make them into choices and try to disqualify their opponent.

But I think the scale of this disaster that we`ve watched unfold now means that it very hard to imagine that the election in November is going to be anything other than a referendum on Donald Trump`s leadership on the coronavirus and in particular, how he missed so badly in those first crucial two and a half months, the testing issue going forward from there but very much this entire period is going to be pretty much what will be on the ballot in November.

O`DONNELL: Michael Osterholm, what testing are we going to need in the fall? For example, for universities to welcome students back and welcome them into dormitories, are universities going to have to be able to test all of the returning students, some of the returning students? What about businesses?

What is testing`s role to get people back to work? Does everyone in a workplace have to be tested to regroup at a workplace?

OSTERHOLM: Well, that`s again one of the mistakes I think that we keep perpetrating over and over again. We got to test everybody. You know, ideally, that would be great.

But to open back up and to get people back into society, we need to have enough tests so that everyone who has a symptom today could be tested immediately. Not have to wait days or have to not get tested at all. That would be the first step.

The second step is be able to test their contacts, for people who are around them, and know that`s the case. I worry about the broad scale testing we`re talking about because as I mentioned in my previous answer, a lot of people are not going to have true positive test results. They`re going to be false.

And so, that -- one of the things we need to do is make sure we have it for people that are sick and get that done. If we did that, that would be a huge step forward for many states. Our state here in Minnesota, we`re having a challenge testing the people that are sick.

O`DONNELL: Michael Osterholm, John Heilemann, thank you both for starting us off tonight. Really appreciate it.

And when we come back, Dr. Peter Hotez will join us to explain why there is what he calls too much magical thinking about the timeline for a vaccine and how long it will be before we get back to whatever the new normal turns out to be.


O`DONNELL: Donald McNeil Jr. appeared with Rachel to explain his exhaustive report in the "New York Times" looking at the year ahead and how we get back to whatever our new normal will become. According to the 20 experts that he interviewed for his article, the two most important elements of getting us to the new normal are testing and a vaccine and none of the experts think the challenges of testing or the challenges of developing and distributing a vaccine are going to be met any time soon. Antibody tests, for example, are important for determining who might be immune or almost immune to the virus because their body had to fight the virus.

And today, New York state started giving antibody tests to randomly selected sample of 30 people.

But this morning, Dr. Fauci said antibody testing has its own set of challenges.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASE: The problem is that these are tests that need to be validated and calibrated and many of the tests out there don`t do that. So even though you hear about companies saying flooding the market with these antibody tests, a lot of them are not validated. There is an assumption, a reasonable assumption that when you have an antibody, you`re protected against re-infection, but that has not been proven for this particular virus.


O`DONNELL: Donald Trump is constantly saying that we will have a vaccine very soon. Dr. Anthony Fauci then constantly has to stress that a vaccine is at least a year and a half away and then Donald Trump offers his amateur opinion again that it will sooner than that.

But even the 18 month frame work Dr. Fauci stresses might be hugely optimistic, the fastest development of a vaccine in history took four years, and once that vaccine is developed or a new vaccine is developed and proven effective, distribution of the vaccine could take years.

"The New York Times" reports most American vaccine plants produce only about 5 million to 10 million doses a year. If a vaccine is invented, the United States could need 300 million doses or 600 million if two shots are required.

We`re joined by one of the experts consulted by "The New York Times" in Donald McNeil`s exhaustive report. Dr. Peter Hotez is dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. He`s co-director of the center for vaccine development at Texas Children`s Hospital in Houston.

Dr. Hotez, thank you for joining us tonight.

Let`s just start with the vaccine story and how long a road that could turn out to be.


You know, Dr. Fauci has charged us with an aspirational goal, a year to 18 months. It would be unprecedented and we`re working to make it happen. We have a vaccine we`re trying to accelerate into clinical trials. Now, it`s already manufactured. We have up to 200,000 doses ready to move into clinical trials and hopefully we`ll engage the Food and Drug Administration about that and there will be at least a dozen other vaccines that will enter clinical testing, so that is good news.

The trouble is clinical testing is an arduous process. It`s arduous because you have to show, one, that the vaccine works in people and is safe in people. So, for instance, our vaccine we`ve shown works in laboratory animals against challenge with the virus and appears to be safe but we`ve got to show all those things all over again in people and same with every other vaccine candidate, and it`s tough to really compress those timelines too much and that`s where -- that`s where the lag happens.

Despite what you`ll often hear from the anti vaccine lobby that vaccines are not adequately tested for safety. In fact, it`s quite the opposite among the different pharmaceuticals, there is nothing more tested for safety and efficacy than vaccines. For the simple reason more often than not, you`re immunizing healthy people to keep them from getting sick so you have to be absolutely pristine in your safety profile.

O`DONNELL: Do you sometimes discover flaws in the vaccine after the vaccine has gone public?

HOTEZ: That`s the least optimal scenario. We do have some good belts and suspenders around that. We have four independent systems of vaccine monitoring even after the vaccine is licensed in the United States. This is monitored by the CDC and also the Food and Drug Administration, and it is very robust and it has detected problems.

But you don`t want to do that, right? You want to make certain during your clinical trials, you`ve got something that`s safe, and that`s why we don`t want to rush it too much. We all understand the pressures and how devastating this virus is and we`re doing everything we can and, you know, I`m waking up at 4:00 in the morning and I`ll text my colleagues and find out that they`ve actually been up since 3:30 in the morning., and have already texted me, then going to bed late to make this happen and groups all over the world are doing this. It`s an international effort.

But it`s -- it`s going to be tough and to kind of increase our likelihood of success, one of the things we`re doing is trying different technologies. So our vaccine is a traditional one that uses the same protein technology used in the hepatitis B vaccine all over the world so ours can be used not only in the United States but suitable for India and everywhere else. And there are other newer platform technologies and this will increase our likelihood.

O`DONNELL: Dr. Peter Hotez, please get some sleep but please stay at it. We`re all desperately hoping for success.

HOTEZ: Thanks so much.

O`DONNELL: Thank you, Doctor.

And when we come back, we`ll be joined by an emergency room physician in Michigan and Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow.


O`DONNELL: Only 12 percent of Americans think it is not likely that there would be a surge in COVID-19 infections if everyone in America suddenly went back to work tomorrow. From that 12 percent, there has sprung up a tiny - and I mean tiny band of protesters who represent just a very, very tiny fraction of 1 percent of the population, way, way, way less than 1 percent of the population. A few thousand people across the country, at most, in a country of 330 million people. And those protesters want everything to go back to normal tomorrow.

We do risk amplifying the protesters` dangerous message by paying too much attention to them, but we think it`s worth seeing one moment of the protest to show just how sick some of these protesters already are.

In this video, you will see one of the brave frontline heroes in this fight, a nurse in Denver, yesterday, standing in front of a vehicle containing a woman who screams at the nurse to go to China. A nurse who is standing there to save that woman`s life, a nurse who remains standing there after the woman tells that nurse to go to China.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a free country. Land of the free. Go to China if you want communism. Go to China.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now is Dr. Rob Davidson, an emergency medicine physician in Michigan. He`s also the Executive Director of the Committee to Protect Medicare.

Dr. Davidson, the Senate is considering new relief legislation, including possible relief for hospitals. What would you need? What do you need at this point in your hospital, in your work in Michigan?

DR. ROB DAVIDSON, EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, COMMITTEE TO PROTECT MEDICARE: Well, we always need to make sure we have the protective equipment for our staff, and particularly, my nurses, respiratory therapists, nurse assistants who are spending so much time in the rooms with patients and putting themselves at risk. But what we really need to get out of the mess that Donald Trump`s lost month of February created is the capacity to test, as your previous guest said in the first segment.

We need to be able to test everybody who`s sick, which finally a couple of days ago I now contest everyone with symptoms that comes into my hospital. That`s a first. That`s three months after our first case, but we need to be able to test their contacts. We need to be able to widely test health care workers, people in high-risk populations. And we simply do not have that capacity.

And apparently, the President doesn`t think we need the capacity and/or he thinks it`s on the governors to do it, that he has nothing to do with it.

O`DONNELL: Dr. Davidson, we`re now going to ask your Senator if she can get those things for you. Dr. Rob Davidson, thank you very much for joining our discussion tonight. Really appreciate it.


O`DONNELL: He said he`s working on a new relief package to replenish funding for the Paycheck Protection Program and funding for small business after he has been demonstrated that, thanks to the Republican definition of small business, some very large corporations have exploited the small business relief plan to help themselves, including the Ruth`s Chris Steak House chain and the Shake Shack chain. Once Shake Shack got caught reaching into the small business pot, Shake Shack was shamed into announcing that it is giving back that money.

Joining our discussion now is Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow from Michigan. She`s the Ranking Member on the Agriculture Committee and sent a letter today urging the Trump administration to protect the food supply and essential workers during this pandemic.

Senator Stabenow, you just heard what Dr. Rob Davidson said he needs. They finally have enough testing to test people with symptoms, but he needs much more testing support from the federal government. Can you get that in this next bill?

SEN. DEBBIE STABENOW (D-MI): We have some good news. And I first have to tell you, Lawrence, it`s wonderful to be with you, but thank you for having someone who is a friend of mine on with me, Dr. Rob Davidson, who`s just a wonderful physician, one of the heroes, the many, many health care heroes that we have right now in Michigan. But the reality is that we`re very, very close. They are literally right this minute, you know how it is, going through all that language and so on.

But in addition to another $250 billion for the small business program you`re talking about, we have won another $120 billion to actually focus on folks that aren`t the well connected, the mom-and-pop operations, those who are banked differently, minority businesses, some of our farmers and rural communities using farm credit. So we want this to go to everybody in terms of small businesses and particularly our smaller small businesses and those who did not get the opportunity to apply the first time around.

On health care, we`re looking at $100 billion, $75 billion of that going to hospitals, $25 billion as a down payment on testing. And I so appreciate all of your focus on testing because we will not get the economy open again or save lives going forward if we are not testing so that the people who are sick stay home and everybody else can go to work. Right now, everybody is having to stay home because we don`t know where that virus is.

And so I released a report on behalf of our caucus and the policy chair in the Senate for our caucus. And we did a report on testing, and welcome folks going to my website to take a look at it tonight.

It lays out what happened from January 20th, the very first - the very first virus case found in the United States, which is the same day as the very first positive case in South Korea. Two different visions of how our countries operated on testing and taking it seriously. And April 14th, when we closed our report, South Korea had 10,000 positive cases, we had over 600,000, and now we know we`re on our way to 800,000.

So we have to test, and yet we`ve got to protect people in those meat- packing plants and nursing homes and group homes and hospitals, and really, ultimately, we`ve got to have a test that allows everybody, whether going into an auto plant or a restaurant to work, to be able to get a quick test in the morning, know they are OK and be able to go to work, and that consumers would then have the confidence when they go into the restaurant or any other place in the community that, in fact, they will know that people are there who have tested negative.

O`DONNELL: Senator, how far away are we from that kind of testing capacity in this country?

STABENOW: Well, unfortunately, we are ways away. I mean, you`re talking about millions of tests. I mean, we`ve heard up to a million a day, and then I`ve heard this weekend 5 million tests a day to really do it correctly.

So one of the challenges in addition to just ramping up completely is that we also don`t have the ingredients. It`s not the machines the President talks about. We`ve got those. Each kind of machine, each manufacturer uses a different test kit. They use different chemicals called reagents. And that`s one of the challenges that we have right now. We don`t have the ingredients. We don`t have the materials. So much of those are from overseas.

So we don`t get there without a national aggressive plan that everybody buys into, that everybody understands in the community. This is what we`re trying to do. This is what we`re going to do. We know a vaccine is the answer, but until then, here`s how we`re going to do it, here`s the plans we`re going to take. We`re going to bring that production back to the United States so that we can own that, control that, and have access to what we need (inaudible) do it nationally. Short of that, we are really having extremely difficult time trying to do this state-by-state.

O`DONNELL: Senator Debbie Stabenow, thank you very much for joining us tonight, Senator. We really appreciate it.

STABENOW: Good to be with you.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Coming up, one Presidential candidate wants to do exactly what Senator Stabenow was talking about and one Presidential candidate doesn`t want to do any of that and doesn`t want the responsibility for any of that. That`s next.


O`DONNELL: A new NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll shows that only 36 percent of registered voters say they generally trust what Donald Trump says about the coronavirus while 52 percent say that they don`t trust him. 45 percent say Joe Biden would do a better job of fighting the coronavirus, a nine-point advantage over Donald Trump.

Donald Trump is trying to keep the focus on China when he talks about COVID-19 and the Biden campaign also wants to keep the focus on everything Donald Trump has had to say about China and COVID-19. The Biden campaign released this powerful ad this weekend.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): He failed to act. So now Trump and his allies are launching negative attacks against Joe Biden to hide the truth. Here are the facts. Joe Biden warned the nation in January that Trump had left us unprepared for a pandemic. Then Biden told Trump he should insist on having American health experts on the ground in China.

JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would be on the phone with China and making it clear, we are going to need to be in your country, you have to be open, you have to be clear, we have to know what`s going on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): But Trump rolled over for the Chinese. He took their word for it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The President tweeted, "China has been working very hard to contain the coronavirus. The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency."

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: --China, I spoke with President Xi, and they`re working very, very hard, and I think it`s going to all work out fine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Trump praised the Chinese 15 times in January and February as the coronavirus spread across the world.

TRUMP: It`s a tough situation. I think they`re doing a very good job.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Are you concerned about its impact on the global economy?

TRUMP: I think that China will do a good job.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Trump never got a CDC team on the ground in China. And the travel ban he brags about, Trump let in 40,000 travelers from China into America after he signed it, not exactly airtight. Look around. 22 million Americans are out of work. And we have more officially reported cases and deaths than any other country.

Donald Trump left this country unprepared and unprotected for the worst public health and economic crisis in our lifetime. And now, we are paying the price. All the negative ads in the world can`t change the truth.


O`DONNELL: After this break, John Heilemann and Bina Venkataraman of The Boston Globe will join our discussion of the Presidential campaign in the year of the coronavirus.


O`DONNELL: Sunday`s "Boston Globe" ran 16 pages of obituaries, the largest number in the history of that newspaper. Today a "Boston Globe" editorial said this. "The pandemic has laid bare that a president can deny the existence of gravity as he sits under the apple tree, but sooner or later the apples are going to fall. People are dying in this country, people who have family and friends of all political persuasions, and no one will be spared the economic devastation."

Joining our discussion now, Bina Venkataraman. She is the editorial page editor for "The Boston Globe". She also served as an advisor to President Obama during the Ebola epidemic. John Heilemann is back with us.

Bina, a very, very sad weekend at "The Boston Globe" with those obituaries. The editorial today, and it all coming in a presidential campaign. It`s easy to forget from day to day that there is a presidential campaign, but the President seems to think the way to run his campaign is in that White House briefing room every day by getting in these fights with reporters.

BINA VENKATARAMAN, THE BOSTON GLOBE EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR, FORMER OBAMA ADVISOR, EBOLA RESPONSE & FORMER DIRECTOR OF GLOBAL POLICY INITIATIVES, BROAD INSTITUTE: That`s right. I mean, I think in a sense we`re being reminded every day that he`s running a campaign because he`s using those briefing opportunities of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, in fact, to continue running for President and campaigning for President. And that is part of what inspired this editorial today, which is to say if the President is going to use that platform to make his case for the presidency, it`s time we take him on and really judge him on his own terms.

He talked about in his inauguration speech in 2017, American carnage, "This American carnage stops right here, stops right now." He was describing factories scattered across the American landscape like tombstones.

When has the American landscape ever looked more like a grave site than it does today, now, in 2020 under his watch, and with many of these deaths, much of the economic devastation, preventable if the President would have taken earlier action, if the White House would have aggressively contained this outbreak on the onset? And here we are, weeks later, watching that unfold.

I think if you look at the President`s statements even in late February where he said there would be - just the cases would come close to zero in a couple of days, that this was going to disappear, reassuring the American public, in fact, misleading the public about the threat. We can just use his own words to evaluate how his Presidency has unfolded and how he`s doing in responding to this pandemic.

O`DONNELL: John Heilemann, there`s an old rule in politics that I used to see when I was a kid in Boston watching people running for city council, all the way up to the highest offices, which is that when your opponent is in trouble and struggling, just get out of the way and let the opponent do that. And there`s an argument to be made for the Biden campaign just basically staying out of the way, putting out ads, but let Donald Trump have that stage if that stage is working against him every day, if he`s alienating more people every day in the White House briefing room.

JOHN HEILEMANN, "THE RECOUNT" EDITOR-IN-CHIEF & NBC NEWS NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Right. I mean, I think the reality is that Joe Biden - and I`ve said this before - is in a challenging position in one sense because he has no public office, he has no official platform. He`s not engaged in this fight in any kind of practical, tangible way. And so, at times, he`s struggled to get traction because he`s in his basement in Wilmington, Delaware, and he`s trying to occasionally say, like, what his plan would be if he were president now, whatever.

None of it matters, it seems to me, Lawrence, because the President is losing right now. He`s losing because he doesn`t understand that - the things that he`s saying, the ways he`s behaving, how he`s acting in these epic, long briefings every day.

You`re correct. He is running his campaign from the White House briefing room, and he`s running it badly. And you could see that reflected in the numbers. You can see it reflected not just in the head-to-head polling numbers that have Biden ahead by seven, eight, nine points depending on which poll you look at, depending on whether you`re looking at battleground states or nationally, but all of them have Biden ahead.

But also, on the crucial question, we talked about this earlier in this show. It`s going to be a referendum election. You look at Donald Trump`s approval rating after having a brief little flurry of rally around the leader, a little boost, it`s fallen back now to where it was before the crisis. That`s never happened before. We have big crises in America, and people rally around the President. Not happening for Trump.

And then on the key issue of dealing with the coronavirus, Biden polls way ahead of Trump on that issue. And then, finally, on this big question, are Americans right now more worried about the pandemic coming back, or are they more worried about the economy? Trump is trying to convince them, focus on the economy, we`ve got to open up, got to open up.

And overwhelmingly, two-thirds of the country says, no, we`re much more worried about the virus and we`d like to stick with these stay-at-home regulations. So Trump is losing every argument he`s in the middle of. He`s losing. And if I`m with Biden campaign, I`m sort of happy right now that I`m not in the middle of this fight. Just let the guy continue to making the mistakes he`s making.

O`DONNELL: And Bina, the President seems to think that getting his name somewhere near or on the $1,200 check that some people are going to get is what he needs to do. He doesn`t seem to understand that a lot of people getting those checks also want to get a test. They desperately want to get a test. And they`re looking to the President of the United States to get coronavirus testing.

VENKATARAMAN: I think that`s absolutely right. And I think his idea, his notion that the governors of the states are responsible for this is so incompatible with just his statements just a week ago, where he claimed total authority and control over the states.

And I think what`s also telling about these polls, the Washington - I`m sorry - "The Wall Street Journal"/NBC poll, which John mentioned, it shows that 66 percent of Americans are trusting their governors right now as opposed to 36 percent trusting Trump on this issue, so I think even on the measure of where he`s trying to place the blame and what the American people are actually seeing, notwithstanding a few protesters.

O`DONNELL: Bina Venkataraman gets tonight`s Last Word.

Bina, thank you for joining us. John Heilemann, thank you for joining our discussion. Really appreciate it.

That is tonight`s LAST WORD.