LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
You know, that old phrase, sergeant-at-arms, the "arms" part seems archaic and meaningless, and then you have -- then you have days like today.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Yes. Those scenes from -- I mean, we have shown them on this show in the past, pictures of the end of Governor Gretchen Whitmer`s driveway, with guys standing at the end of her driveway holding guns and wearing all the pro-Trump stuff and shouting about the president and telling her to drop her policies, but it`s another thing to see them in the legislative chamber. I don`t know which one feels more anti-democratic but that`s where we are.
O`DONNELL: And we always stress, Michigan has 9.9 million people, about 200 them of them decided this today. I can`t do the math on how tiny a slice of less than 1 percent that is, but that is a very, very tiny group that`s doing this.
MADDOW: Yes, I mean, I think if you did a census of everybody in Michigan who braves their beard hair and wears fake military gear without being in the military, it might be a significant proportion. But if you`re actually looking at them versus the general population, yes, you`d lose yourself in the zeros.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
And as April draws to a close, Massachusetts saw its largest one day increased in the coronavirus death toll with 252 deaths. The county hospital in Dorchester, the Boston neighborhood where I grew up, became this country`s very first hospital dedicated entirely to COVID-19 patients and that happened all the way back on what was supposed to be a celebratory day in Boston, St. Patrick`s Day, March 17th. Boston saw this coming.
Boston`s Mayor Marty Walsh will join us tonight.
Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois will also join us. She`s a combat veteran who is outraged, I think the word is, that Donald Trump is forcing West Point cadets to travel back to the campus in New York state so that Donald Trump can give graduation speech. One West Point official has estimated that 60 percent of the cadets might already have coronavirus. Senator Duckworth will tell us what`s happening at the meatpacking plants in her state of Illinois as those plants have become the new epicenter of coronavirus.
And Congressman Jamie Raskin will also join us. He`s just been named by speaker Pelosi to the new coronavirus oversight committee in the House.
And we will also be joined tonight by emergency room physician Rob Davidson from Michigan, where tonight the governor, Gretchen Whitmer, as Rachel just said, has been against the will of the Republican legislature, has ordered an extension of the state of emergency there that she issued after a few hundred protesters, just a few hundred protesters, showed up at the capitol today. But they made their point about their willingness to risk their lives while carrying their guns. Dr. Davidson will get the last word at the end of this hour.
April is the cruelest month. That is the opening line of T.S. Eliot`s 98- year-old poem entitled, perhaps appropriately for tonight`s discussion, "The Wasteland."
Elizabeth Drew reminds us of that line in her latest column entitled "Trump`s cruelest month."
How cruel has April been? On April 1st, the United States had 211,149 reported cases of coronavirus. On this the last day of April, we have over 1 million -- 1,069,637. On the first day of April, the United States had suffered 4,735 reported deaths from coronavirus. And on this the last night of April, the United States has 62,836 officially recorded deaths from coronavirus.
We all have to hope tonight that April is the cruelest month, that May will be better. And some of the numbers in some parts of the country are trending in the right direction and Dr. Anthony Fauci has given us reason to hope this week. He announced preliminary results of tests in which the drug remdesivir appears to shorten the recovery time for some coronavirus patients.
Were those patients going to recover anyway? Does the drug just spare recovering patients two or three days of anguish? We don`t know.
But if that`s all this drug can do, that is a very, very good thing. And a very hopeful thing as Dr. Fauci said, this drug might just be the first building block in a research effort that leads to more effective drugs. But it`s something. It`s something where the day before we had nothing.
April`s cruelty includes the largest one-month American death toll in our lifetimes. COVID-19 is killing Americans much faster than any war in our history. We`ve never seen anything like it. And to borrow a phrase from another poet, we as Yeats said are changed, changed utterly.
We have discovered that we can live without things we thought we could not live without. Some trivial like going to the movies now seems, and some profound like going to funerals, paying our respects, offering our sympathies. Tens of thousands of people died in America in April and we had no funeral, or we gathered online somehow in a sort of virtual funeral.
But there was no hugging, no hand holding, no loving whispers into the ear of the new widow. No hand holding at the deathbed. We are changed.
None of us could have imagined any of what I just described just last Christmas when we were gathered together with family. April was unimaginable then. April was unimaginable until it happened and now we know.
We will never take Christmas for granted again. We don`t know if we will be able to gather and hug next Christmas because Dr. Anthony Fauci guarantees us a second wave of coronavirus which could give us a month somewhere in the fall or winter that`s even more cruel than April. We don`t know.
But we do know now to take nothing for granted. We don`t have summer plans. None of us can plan anything. The word plan lost all meaning in America in April of 2020.
None of us have any plans. Only hopes. We are changed. Changed utterly.
Well, most of us are changed. A tiny minority, tiny minority, wants to pretend that nothing has happened. A tiny minority with guns marched into the state capitol in Michigan today to lobby in their raucous way against the governor`s request that the legislature extend Michigan`s stay-at-home order. The Republican legislature bent to the will of a couple of hundred people with guns in a state of 10 million people.
Of course America has everything, so America has a tiny, tiny number of people relatively speaking around the country who protest sane scientific safety measures to keep them alive. And since television cameras love the colorful and what`s more colorful than protesters with guns, TV news will always wildly overemphasize that kind of protest, which in fact only represents a very, very, very tiny sliver of the American population. Protests of the same size for any liberal cause in America would not attract a single television camera.
Coronavirus is not the only cruelty America had to bear in April. Trump-ism found new ways to express its cruelty. With meatpacking plants around the country becoming the new epicenters of coronavirus, with thousands of employees in those meatpacking plants testing positive for coronavirus and with the death count in those meatpacking plants rising every day, Donald Trump finally used his powers under the Defense Production Act, not to order the production of necessary medical equipment but to order meatpacking plants to stay open. The president did that at the exact moment when one worker lawsuit against one of the meatpacking plants was making progress in federal court. President`s order might derail that lawsuit.
Donald Trump was in effect ordering the workers in those meatpacking plants to walk back into those buildings and risk their lives. And if any of them were thinking about deciding to stay home, Republican governors in pure Trumpian style issued direct threats to those workers saying they would not be eligible for any unemployment benefits at all. If you don`t walk into that plant, you get no money.
Cruelty is not an accident in Trump-ism. We have not seen cruelty in government and the workplace in the almost 100 years since Franklin Roosevelt with the guidance of the first woman cabinet member Frances Perkins set this country on a steady march toward more and better worker safety and workers` rights.
The cruelty that existed in the workplace in the 1920s was deliberate. And the Trump cruelty is deliberate now. On this the last day of the cruelest month, Dr. Anthony Fauci began his day in a hopeful discussion of what might be our first breakthrough in the treatment of coronavirus.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: You said that remdesivir is not a knockout. This isn`t a miracle drug. But it sounds like it is a breakthrough. Can you explain why?
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Well, it`s a really important proof of concept because this is the first very highly powered about 1,100 individuals and it was a placebo- controlled randomized trial, which I`ve been talking about for some time now which is really the gold standard of how you prove something is safe and either works or doesn`t work. Although the results were clearly positive from a statistically significant point, they were modest. The improvement was 31 percent better chance of recovering and getting out of the hospital. That`s important.
But it`s the first step in what we project will be better and better drugs coming along. Either alone or in combination drugs of this type and drugs addressing other targets of the virus. So, it`s good news that I was very serious when I said this is not the total answer but any means but it`s a very important first step.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Leading off our discussion tonight is Michael Osterholm. He`s the director of the Centers for Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. He`s the author of "Deadliest Enemy: Our War Against Killer Germs."
What is your reaction to Dr. Fauci`s news about remdesivir?
DR. MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, MD, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR DISEASE RESEARCH AND POLICY: Well, actually, I have very similar feelings about it as he did. I think it`s a modest finding. It gives us a proof of concept that something can be done.
But it by itself will have a limited impact on this unfolding pandemic. So, we surely need to continue to research this drug and all the other drugs that we hope will actually have much more impact than what this one appears to have as the initial study.
Also, I have to add that while we had the good news today and, again, I want to celebrate that at the same time a study was published in a medical journal coming from China showing no positive impact from this drug. So, we`ve got a ways yet to go to figure out just what these drugs can and can`t do.
O`DONNELL: The China study was a smaller group than the study that Dr. Fauci had.
But what do you make of Dr. Fauci, he was talking how it reminded him of the very, very first breakthrough in HIV research, which in itself was not something giant but it was -- it gave him the very first building block that eventually got us to the kind of drugs that would work.
OSTERHOLM: Yes. I think we all along have said that drug therapy surely could play a role in this disease and how the pandemic will unfold. I think the challenge we have right now, Lawrence, is that we`re working on virus time, not human time, and most of the serious damage that this virus is going to do is going to occur in the next 12 to 16 to 18 months.
And so, unlike other situations where we`ve been researching drugs for years like HIV to find the right combination, we need drugs now and I think anyone who has been looking into hospitals, looking what is happening recognizes that. Yes, this is a step forward, but we need other big ones right now so that we can use these drugs right now.
O`DONNELL: You were one who saw all of this coming. You were giving us the predictions of where these numbers were going to go back in March. What do you make of Dr. Fauci`s what is now it sounds like he`s giving us a guarantee in his mind that there will be a second wave.
Do you agree with that? When would we expect that?
OSTERHOLM: Well, our center issued a report late this afternoon on this very issue, there is no question we`re going to see many more, more infections. To date probably 5 percent to 15 percent of the United States depending where you`re at have been infected by this virus. And that`s not many considering what we`ve been through and the pain and suffering and deaths we`ve experienced.
But this virus won`t stop transmitting until we get to 60 or 70 percent of the population infected and hopefully develop what we call this herd immunity. Now, how we`re going to get there is not clear. There`s kind of what I call virus gravity that`s going to keep drawing this virus to humans.
It may be a big peak that could occur sometime in late summer, early fall. It could be a whole series of peaks that just kind of overlay on each other in many different areas. And then finally, it could jus be a slow burn that just continues and continues and continues. That`s the challenge where we have a coronavirus unlike a flu virus where most of our modeling comes from.
But there is no question we`re going to have major, major challenges with a number of cases of serious disease. As I`ve said multiple times on this show here with you, we`re only in the second inning of a nine-inning game. And so, we`ve got a long ways to go.
O`DONNELL: You`ve also said before that the end of the line is vaccine, that there`s really -- that everything between now and a vaccine is a version of struggle of some kind. Where do you -- where do you see us now in the vaccine with the news from Oxford this week that they`re making progress?
OSTERHOLM: You know, first of all, don`t confuse having a vaccine that you can use and researchers having a vaccine that`s safe and effective. We`ve seen far, far too many vaccines. Look at the HIV world itself. It`s been littered with promising technologies that then failed.
I do think we have a chance for a vaccine, but this is a very difficult virus. The coronavirus experts have been telling us for a long time that it`s very challenging to make a long-term effective vaccine that has protective immunity against this virus. We don`t know.
In the short term, we have growing evidence, yes, we can get some immunity for possibly months. Maybe it would be long term so -- but I`m very careful because somebody is testing a vaccine right now doesn`t mean that it`s going to be effective. But the fact that we`ve got 100 vaccines that have lined up to be tested, again, is a very positive thing, and I applaud the NIH. I applaud a number of organizations that have moved quickly to get the research in place so that we can actually determine what we need to do to find a safe and effective vaccine.
O`DONNELL: How do you read the numbers nationally at the moment? We are seeing what seems to be a curve downward in the New York area and does that mean that April will be our worst month, that May might be better?
OSTERHOLM: Well, I think you have to look at this again from the long term basis. We may see cases go up and down multiple times. I said the other night here that when Governor Cuomo described the fact they are on the back side of the mountain coming down, I suggested that maybe he rethink that. Maybe they were just in the foothills, the mountains where you have to come.
And I say that because again, going from that 5 percent to 15 percent infected population to 60 percent or 70 percent that`s one heck of o a journey. That`s going to be very tough and painful. And that`s what we`re not getting ready for.
When I hear this happy talk if we can just get over this particular peak, we can just get through this time, we`re home free. We have to learn a lot more about how to live with this virus because it`s going to be with us for the months to come and happy talk will not get us there. We have to figure out how are we going to deal with increasing cases? What happens when we see a big spike in cases? Again, which will happen.
How will we do it? You`ve been talking tonight about the problem with people not wanting to shut down where we are now. How will the country respond? That`s what we have to concentrate on.
O`DONNELL: Michael Osterholm, thank you very much for joining us tonight. We really appreciate it.
OSTERHOLM: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: And when we come back, Massachusetts has the third worst coronavirus infection rate in the country and hit a new high in the number of deaths yesterday. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh will join us next.
O`DONNELL: Massachusetts has been hit hard by COVID-19. The state has the third highest infection rate in the nation after New York and New Jersey. Massachusetts Republican Governor Charlie Baker extended his stay-at-home order this week to May 18th.
Boston saw this coming. The Carney Hospital in the Dorchester section of Boston was converted to an all COVID-19 hospital back on March 17th. That was a St. Patrick`s Day like no other in Boston history with the parade cancelled and the coronavirus patients being wheeled into the county hospital.
Joining us now is the mayor of Boston, Marty Walsh.
Mr. Mayor, thank you very much for joining us tonight. I really appreciate it.
I just want to start with what you can tell us about how the county hospital`s handling this tonight, and that`s a very provincial interest of mine since I grew up within a stone`s throw of that hospital. That`s the first hospital I ever set foot in. I was very proud, actually, to hear that it had taken the burden of COVID-19 as fully as it did.
MAYOR MARTY WALSH (D-MA), BOSTON: Yes, it was great to see the county do that in Dorchester, as you know, and they put a floor up there that`s been expanded since then, and they`re doing really great work here. You know, this whole COVID-19 situation in Boston, watching the hospitals and all of the different institutions step up has really been amazing to see as we go through this difficult time.
O`DONNELL: What has it meant to Boston that you are surrounded and you include some of the great medical science institutions in this country? You`ve got Harvard Medical School with researchers working on this there. Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women`s Hospital -- you just have some of the greatest medical practitioners in the country.
Has that given the city an extra sense of security about this?
WALSH: I think in some ways it has. It`s definitely given me a sense of security knowing that not only are we providing world class care for people of Boston and the patients that come in there, but also we`re at the forefront of the research.
We`re doing right now a pilot program, an antibody pilot program at Mass General Hospital where we`re doing 1,000 tests on people to kind of get an understanding of who might have had the virus, to prepare our kind of reconnecting or going back to work, if you will, at some point, looking at that information.
And the fact that you know, you have Mass General doing that, you have Brigham and Women and Beth Israel Deaconess, other hospital, (INAUDIBLE) Tufts, doing so many great things. It`s amazing.
And we have about 9,200 cases of coronavirus in Boston. About 300 people have lost their life, and I think that if we didn`t have these great hospitals in Boston, I think more people would have lost their life.
O`DONNELL: Mr. Mayor, where do you think Boston and Massachusetts is on the curve of this? You just recorded -- the state recorded a record number of deaths.
WALSH: Yeah, you know, I think we`re still -- we`re still in the curve. I don`t -- we haven`t -- I haven`t seen at least in the last five days here in Boston a leveling off. We`re still averaging about 200-plus cases a day of coronavirus. (INAUDIBLE) people testing positive in the commonwealth of Massachusetts fluctuated between 1,500 to 1,900 in the course of a day.
I still think we have a bit of a hill to climb here to see a plateau. And there`s -- you know, there`s a lot of work. We`re doing a lost work about explaining social and physical distancing and explaining to people the importance of washing your hands and covering your face. But it seems like we still have the plateau.
The positive side is our hospitals, we built a -- as you know, a hospital (INAUDIBLE) called Boston Hope. Right now, we have about 142 people in there. That`s with the side of -- we have homeless folks in there and we have hospital people in there.
And so, it`s not full but it`s definitely helping alleviate some of the pressure on our hospitals to keep our hospitals available for emergency rooms.
O`DONNELL: Mr. Mayor, what do you need?
I need two things. We need tests. We need to be able to do a larger sampling of tests to get an understanding of how do we move forward and how do we begin a phased in approach to restart the economy in Boston and Massachusetts. I think number one.
And number two we continue to need PPE. We have -- we have hospitals that continue to need supplies, backup supplies. We have nursing homes and assisted living facilities that need these equipments. And we also need gowns.
So, all of that stuff we`re ordering on our own and trying to buy it from third parties, which is fine. We can do that in Boston. But the problem is the supply is not there and I think that those are the some of the biggest concerns I see moving forward here.
I think the fact of rushing back to work like I`m seeing other states, I hope that they`re OK and I hope that it works out for them all. But I know here in Boston and Massachusetts, it`s not the time to rush back. We need to be planning what it looks like going back, but your previous talked about we`re going to be in this conversation and situation for months and possibly a year ahead of us, and we really have to think about how do we make sure we prepare, so we don`t have a second surge when we start to send people back to work.
O`DONNELL: Mayor Marty Walsh, I can`t thank you enough for joining us tonight. I know what your days and nights must be like during this pandemic. We really appreciate it.
WALSH: Oh, thank you, Lawrence. And I love the accent. It was great. And thank you for doing the incredible job covering this.
O`DONNELL: Really appreciate it. Thank you, Marty.
Coming up, Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois will give us an update on what`s happening in the meatpacking plants in her state that Donald Trump is ordering to stay open.
Senator Duckworth joins us next.
O`DONNELL: Three Illinois meatpacking plants were forced to close last week because of the coronavirus. The Chicago Tribune reports the United food and commercial workers International Union which represents 1.3 million food and retail workers said Tuesday, that 20 food processing and meat packing union workers in the United States have died of the virus.
An estimated 6500 are sick or have been exposed while working near someone who tested positive, the union says. Joining us now is Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois. She`s a member of the Armed Services Committee and she`s one of a dozen Senate Democrats on the congressional task force on the coronavirus.
Sen. Duckworth, Illinois has not been as hard hit on this meat packing pandemic of its own but what do you think is necessary to reopen these plants safely? Can`t they slow down that line so the workers don`t have to work so frantically and can space out farther apart? Is there a safe way to do this?
SEN. TAMMY DUCKWORTH (D-IL): Well, I`m not an expert in meat packing but I can tell you what we need is we need federal help. Right now these workers don`t even have adequate PPE. They`re in the same boat as all of our first responders, our clinicians. There`s just not enough PPE or testing to go around.
So if you want these workers to come back to work in addition to the actual physical slowing down of the lines, you have to get them all the equipment they need to protect themselves which this president has failed to do over and over again to everyone.
O`DONNELL: I want to talk to you about the new unemployment numbers we had of 3.8 million new filings for unemployment benefits with reports of many more people on that trying to file and being on able to file.
At least 30 million people now officially unemployed. The real number may be much higher than that. How do we come back from this? Well, we need to do a methodical process to come back from this. We certainly need to make sure that the money that we are passing out of the Senate and the House for small businesses gets to small businesses.
In Illinois, small businesses are 95 percent of our employers and yet so much of that money was just very poorly directed by the Trump administration, not going directly to small businesses but instead to the likes of Pot Belly Food and - and large corporations.
We need to make sure the money gets to small minority owned, women owned, disadvantage owned small businesses and the regular mom and pop shops down the street and then we need widespread testing, Lawrence.
I mean listen, you can`t go forward without widespread testing and this administration has failed time and again. They don`t even know how many test kits they have, let alone how many we need.
I think we did up upwards of 5 million a week and we are not anywhere near that.
O`DONNELL: Sen. Duckworth, West point is at least there`s some reports indicating, they plan to test all of the returning cadets who now have to return to the state of New York and one of the most the most dangerous state you can travel to in America now and they have to make their way back there through commercial airlines or however they can get back there for a graduation ceremony that is really being held for Donald Trump.
Donald Trump wants to go, speak there for a graduation. I know you`re a combat veteran. You have more standing than I do to comment on this. What`s your reaction to this?
DUCKWORTH: Well, forcing all of these cadets, a 1000 of them into a single location just so that the President can speak at them is really a failure of his role as Commander-in-Chief. He`s needlessly exposing these cadets to this virus, the potential to become sick and you know what, that means they can`t should report to their next duty station.
That means that he is now affecting military readiness. These guys and girls are you know, they`re ready to go out and join the United States military become army`s next - you know next leaders of the army and if they get sick and God forbid if any of them get sufficiently ill that they have to be medically discharged of the military, now they`ve ended their careers even before they started.
And we, the taxpayers just pay to send them to school for four years so this is really just you know, I mean it`s irresponsible. It`s probably the kindest way I can put it but it`s ultimate narcissistic behavior by this President who can`t seem to sink low enough when it comes to how he treats our military men or women.
O`DONNELL: Mitch McConnell wants senators to go back to work next week. There`s a surprising report in Politico saying that the Capital physician says that they don`t have the capacity to test all 100 senators.
I have to say I would have thought that the Senate would have found a way to do that. Are you are you surprised at that?
DUCKWORTH: I am not surprised at that. I also will tell you that the attending physician of the capital is a very, very thoughtful and deliberative - deliberate person. He`s a navy admiral actually and he`s actually turned away senators because there are so few test kits available that he`s turned away senators wanted to be tested just to be tested and that`s rightly so.
But you know by bringing us back next week without a real agenda as to what we`re doing, it`s not just about 100 senators, we`re well taken care of, we have good health insurance. But what about the janitors and the people who have to man the capitol, all the capitol police officers and I have to open these additional buildings and man all of these entrances.
We`re really putting the working folks into the front lines of this COVID pandemic when really needlessly. We don`t have to do this.
O`DONNELL: Senator, I know a lot of those people who you`re talking about back when I used to work in the Russell Senate office building and there is - it just doesn`t make the slightest bit of sense to do it. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, thank you very much for joining us tonight. I really appreciate it.
DUCKWORTH: My pleasure.
O`DONNELL: And when we come back Donald Trump told governors they`re on their own for testing. Maryland governor Larry Hogan made the best of it. He and his wife helped get a half a million tests from South Korea but he`s afraid the Donald Trump would use his presidential powers to seize that equipment and so he`s hiding it. That`s next.
O`DONNELL: Maryland`s Republican governor Larry Hogan was able to rely on his wife`s diplomatic skills to help obtain 500,000 coronavirus test kits from South Korea. Yumi Hogan was born in South Korea, speaks Korean and got on the phone to help put that deal together.
Today governor Larry Hogan told Robert Costa, the Washington Post that he is using Maryland National Guard to protect the tests in an undisclosed location in part because he is concerned that the federal government may try to seize those tests.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT COSTA, NATIONAL REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Based on my own reporting, you had some concerns about whether the Feds would seize these tests when you brought them over from South Korea. Is that true? Were you concerned that the federal government would - would try to take those tests out of your hands?
GOV. LARRY HOGAN (R-MD): Well, it was a little bit of a concern about trying to get these things to try to make sure that we landed this plane safely. We make sure it landed at BWI airport instead of Dallas so it`s the first time a Korean air passenger plane has ever landed at Baltimore Washington International Airport. We landed there with a large contingent of Maryland National Guard and Maryland state police because this was the enormously valuable payload.
It was like it was like Fort Knox to us because it was going to save the lives of thousands of our citizens and there had been reports of for example, in Massachusetts, Governor Charlie Baker told the story of his plane load that came in with masks was basically confiscated by the federal government and he had to then get Robert Kraft, the owner of the Patriots, to fly a second mission with a private plane to try to bring some of that equipment in and a couple of other states had similar stories.
So we were just making sure that - that was so important to us that we want to make sure that that plane took off from Korea safely, landed here in America safely and that we guarded that cargo from whoever might interfere with the - us getting that to our folks that needed it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now Congressman Jamie Raskin, Democrat from Maryland and the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties of the Oversight committee. Yesterday, House speaker Nancy Pelosi appointed him to the new House select committee on the coronavirus crisis.
Congressman Raskin, the president technically does have the power to seize those masks that your governor managed to maintain apparently through the powers he has as Commander-in-Chief of the Defense Production Act. Is that correct? Is that your understanding of the law?
REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Well, first of all, he would have to exercise it and secondly, I`m not sure that he would. In any event you know the real point here Lawrence is, it`s a complete inversion of how federalism is supposed to work. The federal government is supposed to be coordinating with the states to assist the states to help the people.
That`s the whole idea of having a federal-state partnership built in to our constitutional structure but look, what happens. The national government of United States is raiding the supplies of the states. So these are Republican governors. Your governor in Massachusetts, Charlie Baker, our governor of Maryland Larry Hogan are Republican.
And they`re having to call out the National Guard to defend their supply against the president who won`t do anything to use the Defense Production Act to mobile the defense sector. The production sector to create the PPEs we need or the ventilators we need but he might use it to try to steal some other people`s supplies or to compel the livestock industry to keep producing meat.
It`s the most irrational thing so you know but just like the impeachment process was a test of the separation of powers and we only half passed it with the House of Representatives, this is a test of federalism and if we can recover how federalism is really supposed to work with the central government aiding the states, assisting the states in getting what they need, rather than pitting the states against each other in this brutal competition for resources and for medical material which really takes us back to the articles of confederation.
It`s like before we had a constitution but after the revolution in every state had its own trade policy and all the states were fighting each other for goods and for material resources and there were trade wars and so on.
The reason we have a constitutional national government is to coordinate. The president is forfeited. The real question is whether Congress can step up and pass something like the Reopen America Act which we`ve introduced that would actually coordinate this process.
O`DONNELL: What would that - what would that bill do?
RASKIN: So the first thing it would do is to create a Health Equipment Production Board modeled after the War Production Board in World War II so the national government would say we are going to activate the industrial sector to create all of the material we need.
So instead of stealing stuff from the states, we`re going to produce the stuff and we`re going guarantee to the states, they have what they need. Secondly, we`re going to create a scientific advisory panel of the nest scientists in the country so we can lead the country and help coordinate a scientific approach.
And then the final component is about reopening and how should reopening take place. We say the federal government should step up and tell the states, you can come and petition us, you can apply to us for reopening funds when you`ve met two criteria that are determined by science.
Number one, your hospitals can meet medical demand without being overwhelmed and two, and related to that is that the transmission rate has fallen below one and as you know Lawrence, what that means is that each person who`s infected is infecting fewer than one other people.
Hopefully nobody but 0.2 or 0.4 or 0.6 but if it`s about one, if it`s 1.4 or 1.8 or 1.9 or 2.2 where we`ve been, you`ve got pandemic conditions because you get exponential growth and then it`s out of control. So you bring it below one and then the states say, here`s our plan for reopening and here`s our plan for K212 and here`s our plan for the higher education.
Here`s our plan for commerce, for restaurants. Here`s our plan for social life and so on and then the scientific advisory panel will make some suggestions, some amendments. You can apply by yourself as a state or in a group, the way that these regional compacts are starting to form, you can apply together and then we say you`re in and we`re going to pay for it.
The federal government will pay for you to reopen. That`s a coordinated rational scientific way to go about it.
O`DONNELL: Congressman Jamie Raskin, please come back and join us when the new select committee on the coronavirus crisis has its first organizational meeting and you know what direction you`re going in and what the - what the - how that committee will supplement the work of other committees.
Would love to be able to talk about that when you have a chance. Thank you very much for joining us tonight.
RASKIN: It`s a deal, Lawrence. My pleasure.
O`DONNELL: Thank you. And when we come back, the last word tonight goes Dr. Rob Davidson, an emergency room physician who will join us from Michigan. Dr. Davidson has some thoughts on that group of raucous lobbyists with guns who showed up at the Michigan state capitol today. Dr. Rob Davidson will get tonight`s last word. Next.
O`DONNELL: two polling data shows that Donald Trump has a lower approval rating than every single governor in the United States, all 50 of them. Every governor polls higher than the President of the United States in that governor`s state.
In Michigan 63 percent of people approve of how the Democratic governor Gretchen Whitmer has handled the coronavirus pandemic. 36 percent of people approve of President Trump`s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Tonight, after Michigan`s Republican led legislature rejected Governor Whitmer`s request to extend the state of emergency declaration, Governor Whitmer issued a new executive order extending the declaration until May 28. Hundreds of people demonstrated outside Michigan`s capitol building today.
That`s a couple of hundred people in a state of 10 million people. Those people were protesting measures Gov. Whitmer put in place to keep those people safe from the spread of coronavirus. Many protesters carried assault weapons and had pro-Trump signs and pro-Trump campaign paraphernalia.
As protesters moved into the capitol building, Democratic state senator Dayna Polehanki posted this photo saying, "Directly above me, men with rifles yelling at us. Some of my colleagues who own bullet proof vests are wearing them. I have never appreciated our Sergeant-at-Arms more than today."
As of tonight, the state of Michigan has 41,379 confirmed coronavirus cases including 3789 confirmed deaths from coronavirus. One of the medical professionals treating those patients is Dr. Rob Davidson. He`s an emergency medicine physician in Michigan. He`s also the Executive Director of the Committee to protect Medicare.
Dr. Davidson, thank you very much for joining us again tonight. What is the situation in Michigan tonight?
DR. ROB DAVIDSON, ER PHYSICIAN: Well, I think when it comes to this - this virus I think it is tenuous. Our - our cases aren`t going down. Our governor is trying to follow the guidelines set out by the White House itself and yet we have a state legislature that is run by Republicans in both the House and the Senate that have like you said, voted to strip her of emergency powers, that are giving tacit approval to these protesters who are gathering against the advice, not observing social distancing.
And I just saw this evening cell phone data from the last round of protests. The ones that are president tweeted out the #liberateMichigan about giving them approval. I saw cell phone data showing those cell phones scattering around the state predominantly to West Michigan where I work.
And we`re seeing cases in West Michigan go up by 50 percent, 100 percent, 200 percent in some counties over the last few weeks and - and I just know that from today`s protests people are going to go back to their communities in other parts of Michigan and we`re just going to keep doing the same thing over and over, we`re never going to get out of this.
O`DONNELL: Doctor, what does Michigan need? What do you need tonight?
DAVIDSON: We need the ability to test individuals. We need the ability to test every single symptomatic person which now we can do in about the last week and a half which thankfully that`s possible but it I know in my hospital, we`re a couple of days away from - from being out of swabs.
So we need the ability to test all of the contacts of those positives. We need the ability to test essential workers before they go into factories, before we go in the hospitals and we don`t have that ability.
I know in this country we need at least a 0.5 million to 1 million times per day and we`re currently sitting around 250,000 tests today. So the President of United States needs to use his powers with the Defense Production Act to get us those supplies and the tests, not just the tests that Vice President Pence said but the ability to do the test so we can get ourselves out of this.
O`DONNELL: Doctor, I want back to do the numbers. Now I`ve made the point that it`s a tiny number of protesters within the total population of a 10 million person state but the point you were just making was those few hundred people today, all breathing on each other, all close to each other, all touching whatever, passing signs around, things like that.
That - that group has the capacity to keep Michigan`s coronavirus numbers moving in the wrong direction?
DAVIDSON: Correct. As Congressman Raskin was saying as that or not, our transmissibility number is still probably around two, maybe - maybe a little less but it`s more than one. You know one person`s giving it to more than one person. If those people go back to their communities and they go into grocery stores, they go to their homes, they go visit with family, I don`t believe they`re probably observing social distancing at home as well as they should if they`re willing to go to a rally like this.
That`s just going to continue to spread up the virus and people who live in these other communities unbeknownst to them and they`re doing everything they should. They are now at risk if these folks don`t wear masks out in public like they`re supposed to. Again if they want to get out of this situation, the chance to do that is to just listen to the governor, give it a few weeks and we can work ourselves out of this using data and science.
O`DONNELL: Dr. Rob Davidson, thank you very much for the work you`re doing and thank you for taking some time to join us tonight. We really appreciate it.
DAVIDSON: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Dr. Davidson gets tonight`s last word. The 11th hour with Brian Williams starts now.