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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, 3/10/2021

Guest: Irwin Redlener, Aileen Marty, Stephen Sample�

Summary:

Congress passes $1.9 trillion COVID aid bill. Democrats pass COVID

aid bill with zero GOP votes. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala

Harris will campaign to sell COVID aid to the nation. WSJ obtains another

recording of Trump pressuring GA election officials to change 2020 vote

result. Biden reportedly turning attention to infrastructure. Wealthy

Florida community with GOP donors got vaccine before others. President Joe

Biden on Wednesday afternoon said his administration will purchase an

additional 100 million doses of Johnson & Johnson`s COVID-19 vaccine by

year`s end. At least 37 states have expanded vaccine eligibility to include

certain health conditions.

Transcript:

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Thank you. Walter Isaacson gets tonight`s

LAST WORD. "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: And good evening once again, day 50 of the

Biden administration and exactly halfway through his first 100 days in

office. The President is marking two big accomplishments. Today he secured

a landmark bill for federal aid, and he announced that over 100 million

more COVID vaccines will soon be in the pipeline and then in arms across

our country. This afternoon, Congress cleared Biden`s signature domestic

packages $1.9 trillion National Relief Package.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, (D) U.S. PRESIDENT: This bill represents historic, historic

victory for the American people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: The bill one final passage in the House of Representatives on a

straight party line vote 220 to 211 with Biden looking on from the

executive mansion.

(APPLAUSE AND CHEERING)

WILLIAMS: The White House says, the President plans to sign the legislation

on Friday, Americans should know this aid they`re about to get is from the

Democrats. That is not a political statement at all. Only Democrats voted

for it, not a single republican in the House or the Senate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) CALIFORNIA HOUSE SPEAKER: This is the most

consequential legislation that many of us will ever be a party to.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, (D) NEW YORK MAJORITY LEADER: We said if we won those

two seats in Georgia, we would get things done Mr. Ossoff and Mr. Warnock

told the citizens of Georgia if they were elected, they would make sure

that the actual promises made would be promises kept.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: This bill offers one of the largest infusions of federal aid

since the Great Depression. In many ways it redraws our social safety net,

and thus has been described in terms of the New Deal and the Great Society.

It includes those $1400 stimulus checks extended unemployment benefits,

funds for states and small businesses and school upgrades across the

country, as well as vaccines, testing, tracing. The first direct payments

are expected to go out around the end of this month. Just hours after the

House vote, the Dow posted a new record closing above 32,000 for the first

time. And now the Biden White House focuses on selling the benefits of this

bill to the American public. Tomorrow night, the president gives his first

primetime address to the nation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: I`m going to talk about what comes next. I`m going to launch the

next phase of the COVID response and explain what we will do as a

government and what we will ask of the American people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: On Tuesday, the President heads to the familiar confines of

Delaware County, PA to talk up the benefits of the stimulus package. Vice

President Harris for her part will also be on the road traveling to Las

Vegas on Monday, Denver on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the Senate has just

confirmed three more Biden nominees Merrick Garland as Attorney General,

Marcia Fudge as HUD Secretary and Michael Regan as EPA Administrator.

As we mentioned more Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccines are on the way. Today

the President announced this purchase of another 100 million doses which

another drug company Merck is helping to produce. And remember because it`s

one and done with the J&J vaccine, that means enough for 100 million

Americans to get fully vaccinated.

This was also the day the state of Texas officially ended its massive

mandate, a move now putting the state against some local officials in the

same state who want to continue requiring face coverings in public. There`s

more on that a report from Texas later in this hour. But health experts

warn these modes to lift restrictions as COVID cases and fatalities slowly

decline could have devastating consequences.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, CENTER FOR INFECTIOUS DISEASE RESEARCH AND POLICY,

UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA: These numbers that have come down have given us a

false sense of security. We are going to see a big increase and everything

we`re doing right now is literally just kind of walking into the mouth of

the virus monster, as if somehow we`re not at risk.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: There is one other developing story we`re following tonight, The

Wall Street Journal has obtained an audio recording of a late December

phone call between Donald Trump and the Chief Investigator for the Georgia

Secretary of State. The now former president can be heard urging the state

official to hunt for voter fraud that did not exist.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, (R) FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I won Georgia. I know that, by a

lot. And the people know it. And, you know, something happened there. I

mean, something bad happened. If you can get to Fulton, you`re going to

find things that are going to be unbelievable, the dishonesty. When the

right answer comes out, you`ll be praised. You know, we have that date of

the 6TH, which is a very important date.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: This is now the second phone call where Trump can be heard

begging Georgia election officials to find votes. The Fulton County

District Attorney is now conducting as you may know this criminal

investigation into Trump`s efforts to overturn the election results and

nothing less.

With that, let`s bring in our leadoff guests on this Wednesday night, Peter

Baker, Chief White House correspondent for The New York Times, Lisa Lerer,

National Political Reporter also with the New York Times and Eugene

Robinson, Pulitzer Prize-winning Columnist, just to keep things fair over

at the Washington Post.

Good evening, and welcome to you all. Peter, because you have the most

years on the job covering the White House, you get to go first and a

question about where you rank this accomplishment today, this massive bill

that`s been passed with just Democratic votes. And do we have it about

right saying this is in a way a redrawing of the modern social safety net?

PETER BAKER, THE NEW YORK TIMES CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well,

obviously, it`s a big deal for President Biden to come out of the gate and

get what he needs to get through what he promised to get through in the

early weeks. Remember, there`s a deadline of March 14, when expanded

unemployment benefits was set to expire, he needed to get it done by then,

he is the narrowest of margins in Congress, and yet still pushed it

through. Now he didn`t do with any bipartisan votes, which is something he

had hoped to do. But he did get through. And you`re right, this package is

more than just COVID relief. It`s really three big goals in one. One is to

provide relief to those who have been hurting from the pandemic, including

the speeding up vaccine, distribution, and so forth. Another is to pump

more energy into the economy, when $1.9 trillion in the economy is a big

deal, no matter where you put it. And at this case, there`s some worries

back and maybe too much on the part of some folks who think that there

could overheat the economy, but certainly going to give a big jolt to

economic growth for the rest of the year.

And then the third part is what you talked about, which is the social

safety net. The idea that this is an anti-poverty bill, you hear a lot of

that from the White House these days that this may, in fact, cut child

poverty by half. This is sort of a democratic wish list of programs and

spending that they would have liked to have gotten done for years.

Now some of this will expire in a year. So it`s only a temporary thing. In

many cases, they`re going to have to come back and make that permanent,

they want to make that a sustained change. But for a president just been in

office for 50 days, obviously, it`s a big deal to get this done. You can

see why they`re so, they`re cheering at this point.

WILLIAMS: Lisa, great to see you. Great to have you back on the broadcast.

It`s been too long. As I said, this is going to make lives better among the

recipients of what`s in this bill. It is also true that it`s Biden`s story

to tell especially since it was just Democratic voters. How does Biden

however, prevent the Republicans from going into the field with their own

prequel before his message is fully out there?

LISA LERER, THE NEW YORK TIMES NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, right now

he`s going to go on a sales pitch that`s going to kick off tomorrow evening

with a White House address. And then we`re going to see the President and

members of administration travel around the country. And I think what looms

particularly large in their minds is the lessons learned from President

Obama`s 2009 stimulus bill. And the thinking there is that the President

failed to sufficiently sell that piece of legislation, and Republicans were

able to tag it as a bit of a boondoggle that led to this for the Tea Party,

which of course provided some of the fiercest opposition to Obama`s

proposals throughout his time in office.

Some folks who worked for the Obama administration will say that`s not

quite fair that President Biden has some economic wins at his back. All the

economic forecasts look like the economy will keep improving and

particularly as more people get vaccinated, which will make this easier to

sell. It`s also more popular than the stimulus was. Even among Republicans,

I think that`s why although we saw every Republican vote against this bill,

we really didn`t see the party come out with any comprehensive messaging.

So far, at least against the legislation. And in part, that`s because about

a third of their voters, depending on the poll supported the bill, I had

called a bunch of Republican voters in the past couple of weeks, and I

frequently heard people who said that they are eager, Republicans who said

they are eager to see those checks just as much as Democrats.

WILLIAMS: Eugene Robinson, we have a new definition tonight of the word

Richard Nixon is famously rumored to have pronounced Schutz Bar (ph) during

his presidency. Most of us call it hutzpah. But its new definition is

Senator Wicker from Mississippi. And here`s what he tweeted tonight,

"Independent restaurant operators have $128.6 billion worth of targeted

relief. This funding will ensure small businesses can survive the

pandemic."

One problem, he`s a republican senator from Mississippi, as people

instantly pointed out, he didn`t vote for this, but he`s selling it back

home. Does he think his voters are stupid? Maybe he was contacted and a

reporter caught up to him. We have his briefest answer to this question.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ROGER WICKER, (R) MISSISSIPPI: I`m not going to vote for $1.9 trillion

just because it has a couple of good provisions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: So couple of good provisions, and Eugene, this is where it brings

us is, do you think there`s going to be any regret that the Republicans

have goose eggs, Senate and House on this that this bill indeed has a

couple of good provisions and it`s going to end up helping their

constituents?

EUGENE ROBINSON, THE WASHINGTON POST COLUMNIST: Well, I think that was an

expression of regret, really from Senator Wicker and I think that makes it

potentially easier for President Biden to get his message across simply

because the Republicans don`t have a unified message that on this

legislation that they think they are voters, even their base voters are

going to buy. If they, you know, go on and on about how horrible and awful

it is. That is not going to resonate with Republican voters, at least

according to polls, most of whom support the legislation. There are polls

that show most Republicans wanted this to pass to say nothing of the, you

know, almost all Democrats and the vast majority of independents, this was

an extremely popular piece of legislation. And so to the extent that

President Biden has a challenge in selling it and getting it across, he has

the wind at his back.

WILLIAMS: Peter Baker, should we just for now stop any pie in the sky talk

of bipartisanship or will the next test be infrastructure or as it should

appropriately be build jobs programs across the country? Republicans have

traditionally liked a good public works bill, they haven`t always liked

paying for it.

BAKER: Yeah, look, infrastructure, of course, has been the golden shimmer

out there for bipartisanship. Now, for years, Donald Trump talked about

infrastructure, Barack Obama talked about infrastructure. Democrats say

they want infrastructure, Republicans say they want infrastructure, and yet

they`ve never been able to get it.

Now, President Biden is promised a course that he has been able to figure

out how to get things done that other presidents have. He can work across

the lines in ways that other, his predecessors haven`t been able to. But

there`s not much evidence of that so far.

But you`re right, there`s an appeal on the part of everybody, Senator

Wicker will no doubt have bridges and roads and things in his state that

he`d like to get out of an infrastructure bill as with Democratic and

Republican senators from across the country.

Now, can they come together to figure out how to divide up that money? Can

they come together to figure out how to fund that kind of a project? That`s

a big, big question. And I don`t think that there`s any, you know, reason

right now to suspect that they`re necessarily going to be able to overcome

the polarization that has been holding this up for years in the next few

weeks and months. Maybe they can. This is one of those areas where there is

common ground if they choose to seize it. But so far, we`ve seen that the

parties in Washington haven`t chosen to seize it in modern times. And I

don`t know that that`s changed.

WILLIAMS: Lisa, back to your unofficial poll of Republicans, they`ve been

foursquare against this massive bill. And this week, at least foursquare

behind Dr. Seuss, and Piers Morgan. A serious question, how long can they

live on a diet of just distraction?

LERER: Well, I think part of the issue for the Republican Party is those

are the issues that fight up their base. You know, it is talking about Dr.

Seuss, Meghan Markle, these sort of culture war, new culture war issues

different than, you know, the guns and marriage issues that we saw decades

ago that really get their base energized. It`s how you can raise money as

an up and coming Republican lawmaker, is the reason we see so many

retirements in the Senate, part of the reason. And it also speaks to a

little intra conservative media competition where you see these more

upstart, more right wing networks like OANN, and then cutting into Fox

News` eyeballs and market share among conservative viewers.

So there -- it is really hard when the whole conservative ecosystem is

really structured around these culture war issues, to get a lot of rewards,

among them conservative base for doing things like working across the aisle

on an infrastructure bill. We`ll see if that changes, as I said, Republican

voters do like this stimulus bill. So maybe there will be the fever will

break and Republican lawmakers will see that there is some political gains

to be gotten from passing legislation. But given the way that the

conservative world is functioning right now, it does seem hard to picture.

WILLIAMS: Eugene, let me get you on record with the question I asked Peter.

Is it an overstatement to say that one of the things this bill does is kind

of a modern day redrawing of what we`ve come to know as the social safety

net?

ROBINSON: I think it does. It represents a significant shift in philosophy,

and it`s a shift back more towards the Lyndon Johnson`s Great Society, way

of thinking, rather than the Ronald Reagan`s way of thinking, which has

dominated our public life, really, since the Reagan era. This is

potentially a shift of that magnitude if it can be sustained. I think this

legislation is a really big deal. And I think that, you know, in terms of

bipartisanship, look, you can`t do anything, if Republicans decide to deny

Biden, the gift of partisanship by simply voting against everything.

There`s nothing you can do about that. Biden makes a gesture, he makes the

offer. And then he move forward. I think that sets an important precedent

for going forward. But just to answer your basic question, I think this is

potentially a really, really big deal for the way this country thinks about

attacking poverty, thinks about the thing of the least of us, and giving

everybody a chance.

WILLIAMS: To our viewers, because this is an important night, we`ve asked

our laid off three guests to stay with us through this break for one more

segment and indeed.

Coming up, a big win for the Biden White House for now, but for them, it`s

just the first item on the list. We`ll talk about this. Will Republicans

agree to vote for anything this White House puts forward?

And later, three doctors, three different cities, three different frontline

battles against one virus in the space of this past year? Where are we now?

When are we getting out of the state we`re in? THE 11TH HOUR is just

getting underway on this Wednesday night of remembrance.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The American people elected Joe

Biden so that we can work together and that`s what he`s committed to doing.

So you know, there are things like infrastructure investment, and

immigration, I mentioned, he`s had some meetings in the Oval Office about

some of those issues, and we`re going to see what we can work together on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: So that was Jen Psaki from just tonight, remaining here with us

and part of our conversation, Peter Baker, Lisa Lerer, and Eugene Robinson.

Peter, to you first, again, in this segment, we talked about what else

Biden wants, let`s preview tomorrow night. What can he say? What should he

say? What does he want to say to this country that is very eager for better

days to come?

BAKER: Well, I think that`s one of the things he wants to say is that there

are better things to come, that there is a light at the end of the tunnel,

that there -- that the passage of this bill will provide money to those who

need it. And the speeding up with the vaccine distribution will provide

shots to those who desperately need that as well. And that there is a point

at which we can see a normal life returning at least some semblance of it.

But I think at the same time, you will hear him as he has repeatedly over

these last few weeks worn, that there`s a lot of danger between now and

that just because we are making progress doesn`t mean that it`s time to

give up public health precautions like masks and social distancing, and so

forth, particularly, for those who have not been vaccinated, which is still

the vast majority of the country. And I think that, you know, it`ll be that

mixed message. But he wants to take credit. As Lisa said, I think you`ll

begin -- you`ll see him talk about that more than he will talk about other

steps, like infrastructure this point because I think he does want to

solidify public awareness of what this bill does and to reap the political

benefit that usually comes from this kind of thing.

WILLIAMS: All I know is they need a better word for infrastructure. Hey,

Lisa, how big a potential trip up and there`s a real human cost to this

issue is the border and immigration, knowing that the forces against Biden

will get a big assist from the Fox media industrial complex?

LERER: Oh, for sure. And that is a real problem for the administration, you

have this very high number of unaccompanied children coming in through the

border. And the administration is really trying to send two messages at

once. Don`t worry, we`re working on a path to establish more legal ways

into the country. But also, please don`t come now. And those are pretty

hard messages to sell simultaneously in South America and Central America.

And as a result, they`ve been left open really to attacks on all sides.

Liberals are unhappy with how the children are being held. They`re out of

facilities, there`s all kinds of restrictions because the pandemic it`s a

very difficult situation. And it brings up echoes of, you know, the things

that happened during the Trump administration that were very traumatic for

the children but also for the Democratic Party and for many people in the

country. And conservatives, of course, are eager to blame as they often do

the influx of migrants into the country on Biden. So he`s really getting

hit from all sides on this. And you`re right, it is the kind of issue that

Republicans are very eager to leverage against him, and could do with some

success potentially.

WILLIAMS: Hey Eugene, I want to play for you Senator Mike Lee. He was

commenting on Fox News about H.R. 1, our discussion on the other side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MIKE LEE, (R) UTAH: But I think I disagree with every single word in

H.R. 1, including the words of "but" and "the." Everything about this bill

is rotten to the core. This is a bill as if written and held by the devil

himself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: Eugene, I know you have written forcefully about the need to pass

H.R. 1. There are a slew of Republicans and even some Democrats cautioning

about making great the enemy of the good, cautioning that it`s what else is

in this bill that is weighing it down, that is putting a mark on its side.

And if they could strip out and consider and vote for voting rights alone,

it might be a different story. But I want to hear you out on it.

ROBINSON: Well, look, I think the important part of this bill are

protecting voting rights. And that includes things like ensuring that

people have easy access to voter registration, ensuring that people have

easy and adequate access to the poll to mail-in voting is going to it`s

only going to increase in early voting and that sort of thing, and to

block, to stop or obviate some of the draconian restrictions that

Republican state legislators are trying to impose on voting across the

country. Because the one thing Republicans agree on it`s kind of the

philosophy of the party now is that they have to, in some way, restrict the

voting opportunities of constituencies that vote for Democrats, or else the

Republicans are going to remain a minority party and unless of course, they

start changing their policies and develop some that actually appeal to

voters, but they don`t seem to want to do that. They want to do it by

subtraction, subtracting Democratic voters, people color young people,

democratic constituencies and that`s appalling, that`s anti-Democratic,

that has to be fought at every level. And this is one important level on

which it has to be fought. So yes, you could trim away some parts of H.R. 1

and I personally would be very happy if Democrats could find a way to pass

through the divided equally divided Senate, a bill that protects voting

rights. That`s the most important.

WILLIAMS: We are much obliged to our leadoff big three guests tonight. The

three of the very best from two of the great American newspapers, Peter

Baker, Lisa Lerer, Eugene Robinson, thank you gang very much for taking our

questions.

Coming up for us, we were in the final few hours of life as we knew it. We

just didn`t know it on this night a year ago. We have however, gathered

together three of our medical experts to help assess what it is we`ve just

been through and where we`re headed?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WILLIAMS: As your cell phone photography timeline has no doubt reminded you

already tomorrow we`ll mark exactly one year from the date the world really

changed. It was March 11 2020. That was the day that WHO officially

declared COVID a pandemic, warning of alarming levels of spread around the

world. That`s when the NBA suspended the remainder of its 2020 season here

in the United States after the first player tested positive. That was when

Tom Hanks posted on Instagram that he and his wife Rita Wilson tested

positive for the virus while filming in Australia. Thankfully, they have

both recovered and are back to work.

On Wall Street the market plunged, the Dow lost roughly 6 percent of its

total value, because traders could see what was coming.

Then President Trump gave an Oval Office address announcing some travel

from Europe would be banned.

Back on March 11 there were over 1,200 confirmed us cases, 37 deaths that

we knew of. Testing was still an exotic, far off notion extremely limited

at the time. And a doctor who is these days a household name offered this

warning to members of Congress.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOIUS

DISEASE: We will see more cases and things will get worse than they are

right now. How much worse we`ll get will depend on our ability to do two

things to contain the influx of people who are infected coming from the

outside and the ability to contain and mitigate within our own country.

Bottom line, it`s going to get worse.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: How remarkable to see a packed hearing room behind him. One year

later, the United States has now surpassed 29 million cases and sadly

531,000 souls lost.

Here with us three of the physicians who have kept us informed on matters

of public health over this past year. Dr. Irwin Redlener, the founding

director of the Columbia University National Center for Disaster

Preparedness, Dr. Stephen Sample, he`s an ER doc Memorial Hospital and

Health Care Center out in Jasper Indiana, he`s a volunteer clinical faculty

member at Indiana University School of Medicine. And Dr. Aileen Marty is

back with us at long last, professor of infectious diseases at Florida

International University in Miami. In the past, she too has worked on

global medicine matters with the World Health Organization.

Well good evening and welcome to you all doctors. Irwin, I`ll begin with

you with a live picture that we found ourselves having not accessed for

months at a time.

This doesn`t look too far from the height of the lockdown. This is Time

Square New York live picture 11:34 Eastern Time. Doctor, in your line of

work that picture means good news not so for all those trying to make a

living in Times Square businesses.

But here`s the leadoff question. How far have we come in this past year?

And here`s the subset question. How far have we come in these past 50 days?

DR. IRWIN REDLENER, EXPERT ON PANDEMIC INFLUENZA: What`s been a remarkable

time and it`s like the slow boil the frog, you know, we`re not we`re not

feeling is an impact as an acute impact. It`s happened gradually. But if

you were sleeping for the last year, and woke up now, what you would see is

a change to America and a changed world in so many ways, and to take a long

time to actually describe it.

And one of the areas of fallout from all this, Brian, I thought it was

going to take a really long time to establish credibility in government,

because we`ve been so misled by Donald Trump and his people so much in

competence. I thought it was going to be literally years.

But what we found ourselves now, in 50 days, we have an essence restored

confidence in the federal government. And it`s not just me saying that`s

every poll is looking at very high numbers of approval for President Biden.

But from a public health point of view, the progress we`ve made in 50 days

is absolutely mind boggling.

You know, we have, like he said, we`re going to have all of American adults

vaccinated by the end of May. We do see real light at the end of a very

dark tunnel. And I`m uncharacteristically, always being the half empty

glass person, I`m feeling pretty good that we might have a pretty normal

looking Thanksgiving if we keep this up. Maybe even the normal few picnics

on Labor Day.

But I don`t want to get ahead of myself. But say it`s looking good. There`s

good news. And there`s also some problems and dangers lurking in the wings

that we also need to talk about, including will variance, get us into

trouble. Will governor`s going rogue and reckless setting back the masking

and other public health measures. Those are dangers and a threat to all of

us who really want to look at an optimistic view of what`s coming up,

Brian.

WILLIAMS: Fascinating and comprehensive stuff just there, Irwin. Dr. Marty

speaking of governors, you got a hell of a story down in your state, these

allegations that wealthy white donors to Governor DeSantis were given the

vaccine way had have their place in line. And yet we have to we`re duty

bound to keep having this discussion as a public health matter about equity

because of what this disease has done in black and brown communities across

this country.

DR. AILEEN MARTY, FLORIDA INTL. UNIVERSITY INFECTIOUS DISEASE PROFFESOR:

You`re absolutely right. We have to be very careful with equity. And in

particular, because black and brown communities over all, more than other

communities are in many front line types of industries and therefore more

exposed, they`re more likely to live in a housing situation of multi-

generational homes. And have many underlying conditions because of their

economic situations, because of many of their economic situations. And all

of that puts them at higher risk.

So we do have to do that. And we`re working very hard here in our personal

community, to reach out to persons of color to make sure that they come in

and we`re working with the churches in particular, to try and get back more

people vaccinated from these lower income places. And I`m very pleased that

President Biden is pouring over $250 million to the effort to help us get

people that are underprivileged vaccinated.

WILLIAMS: Dr. Sample talk about your life`s work talk about the toll this

has taken on doctors and nurses over the past year and the changes you`ve

seen in your co-workers.

DR. STEPHEN SAMPLE, EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN IN JASPER, INDIANA: Absolutely.

Good evening, Brian. Doctors and nurses and respiratory therapists and ER

techs and janitors all over the hospitals all over the country are never

going to be the same from this.

This is something like we have never seen in the public health sphere in

our country and I really consider myself to be actually one of the lucky

ones. I have plenty of friends that work on both the West Coast and

certainly up in New York City, one right down in Elmhurst in Queens. That

was upside down in this so early a screaming the alarm to all of us and we,

you know, us in the middle of the country who hadn`t seen it yet. We were

just running around, you know, like Chicken Little saying the sky is

falling, but nobody really wanted to hear that from me because he really

wasn`t falling here yet.

So I think that this is something that we will be telling our grandchildren

and our great grandchildren about what we were doing in the pandemic of,

you know, 2020.

WILLIAMS: All three of these physicians have agreed to stay with us while

we fit in a short break here. Coming up the hope that is just around the

corner when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WILLIAMS: We are back and right back into our conversation with these three

medical professionals. Dr. Irwin Redlener, Dr. Stephen Sample, Dr. Eileen

Marty.

Dr. Redlener to you again, just today`s news was staggering, a 100 million,

a 100 million J&J vaccines. That`s not 50 million Americans. That`s 100

million vaccinated Americans. Absolutely staggering. And at such a high

pace. What else out there that may be in the pipeline is giving you hope?

REDLENER: Well, there`s three things now, right, first of all, is

sustaining the public health measures. Secondly, this extraordinary

progress we`re making with vaccines. But the third thing is that Merck is

finishing research on an oral medication that could be prescribed to a

person with COVID symptoms that will potentially eradicate the infection.

So if we could do that, you know, like when you get in when -- if you have

influenza, you can get a prescription for Tamiflu. We may have an

equivalent drug literally around the corner in the next couple of months.

That could be a total game changer, Brian.

WILLIAMS: Wow, that would be fantastic and would feel a lot more like

normal life. Dr. Marty, I say this knowing that perhaps millions of college

kids are on route to a beach very close to where you live. So you have our

condolences. They`re going to fly anyway. That`s what they do a whole bunch

of fully vaccinated Americans were expecting more guidance from the CDC on

travel, were you?

MARTY: Well, I pretty much agree with the position that the CDC has taken.

They`re absolutely correct. Every time that we`ve had an increase in

travel, there`s been a jump in cases. And hopefully, the amount of

vaccinations that we`re giving might mitigate some of that impact.

But I want you to be very keenly aware that it here in South Florida, for

example, our hospitalization rate has pretty much plateaued at a high

level. It`s not down at all. And so -- and we`re turning over patients a

lot more rapidly and sending them home sooner.

So we have to be very concerned about these people coming and we`re doing

our best to get the message out to behave as properly as we can, to our

community and to the visitors.

WILLIAMS: That`s disconcerting news, indeed. And Dr. Sample to you in the

Midwest, how much and I`ve asked you this many times, but the answer is

always interesting. How much vaccine hesitancy are you running into

personally? Are you hearing about from your colleagues? And is there a

better job that can be done on public service announcements, public health

education by the feds?

SAMPLE: You know, Brian, it`s really hard to say, you know, we`re doing

pretty well in Indiana as a whole. We have a Republican governor, but he`s

been fairly moderate. He`s not Florida, he`s not Texas, certainly. And I`ve

appreciated his sort of mitigation of COVID in the state.

As far as hesitancy, you know, the loudest people get the most attention.

So I certainly see people who tell me about hesitancies. And I try to

educate them through that. But, you know, we`ve got over 500,000 people

dead in the United States right now, largely because of the morons in the

Facebook comments, right. And so that`s the people that we`re trying to

reach only some of them are not going to be reachable. So we have to

educate around them.

What we`re going to have to do after this is all said and done, we`re going

to have to take a really close look at what worked to mitigate this virus

and what didn`t work. And we`re going to need to be honest with people,

because of the inconsistency, you know, of crossing a river and having a

completely different set of rules is pissing off people. And they are just

spitefully doing whatever they want to do. So when it comes to vaccines,

it`s kind of the same way we had mixed messaging, there was skepticism. So

it`s hard to say. But in Indiana, we`re doing pretty well as a whole.

WILLIAMS: Well, good to hear it. We`ll take any good news we can get. Hey,

doctors, as they say in the movies. This is not goodbye because we

especially going to continue to rely on you to educate all of us. It is

thank you for the public health duty you have done through our airwaves to

all of our viewers for this past highly stressful year. Dr. Redlener, Dr.

Sample, Dr. Marty, can`t thank you enough.

Another break for us. Coming up in Texas tonight. The Attorney General is

mocking the mayor of Austin because it`s Texas in the middle of a pandemic.

We`ll show you this story coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WILLIAMS: Coronavirus restrictions in Texas officially ended today. The

governor has ordered everything reopened no masks, no problem, except in

the city of Austin and the surrounding county where officials want to keep

their mask mandate in place.

The State`s Attorney General Ken Paxton isn`t having it. He gave local

officials there until 6:00 p.m. local time to lift their mandates or face a

lawsuit. Paxton also couldn`t help himself. He posted a snarky comment that

read quote, city county leaders must not be thinking clearly. Maybe it`s

oxygen deprivation from quintuple masking. Again, that`s the chief law

enforcement officer in the state of Texas. We get our report tonight from

NBC News correspondent Morgan Chesky.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

MORGAN CHESKY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight all lies on

Texas back open at max capacity.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I am all for opening up the country. And I love

that Texas has taken us down.

CHESKY: The state`s mask mandate over.

KIM HUNTER, BUSINESS OWNER: Now it`s a free for all.

CHESKY: Business owner Kim Hunter is worried.

(on camera): Governor Abbott says he trusts every Texan to do the right

thing.

HUNTER: Yes, common sense is not common. They`re not going to do the right

thing.

CHESKY (voice-over): Texas one of more than a dozen states without mask

mandates the move letting any business craft their own policy. Famed

dancehall, Billy Bob`s sharing there`s telling patrons, it`s your choice.

The Texas Rangers also taking advantage, becoming the first pro team

nationwide to allow all fans back in the stance masks still required.

In Austin, the state attorney general threatening legal action after the

city`s superseded the governor`s order with a public health mandate to mask

up.

MAYOR STEVE ADLER, AUSTIN, TEXAS: Is the single most effective thing that

we can do to stop the transmission of this virus.

CHESKY: The UK variant of the virus is especially concerning. Recent

wastewater testing now shows it`s spreading throughout Houston.

DR. BELA PATEL, UTHEALTH HOUSTON MCGOVERN MEDICAL SCHOOL: It`s vaccinate as

quickly as we can continue wearing mask. And we will get there.

CHESKY: Tonight, too early to tell. Morgan Chesky, NBC News, Dallas.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

WILLIAMS: And coming up for us a final look back at where we were one year

ago today.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight is about where we`ve been and a

good question to consider where would we be tonight, if the former

president hadn`t been a virus denier, if the response to the virus had been

real and not malpractice, rigorous and not mismanaged.

As we`ve said here before part of our job as we see it is making sure we

never forget we owe that much to the dead, and their loved ones. And over

1,500 more souls left us just today. So let`s take this opportunity to

remember what our president back then was saying on this day one year ago.

You may remember this particular appearance, he had just appeared himself

at a lunch of Senate Republicans. While in the room, he showed the senators

an article from his pocket where Governor Newsome of California had said

some nice things about him in print.

But here is how the President talked about the virus a year ago. And if

nothing else, it`s a chance to remember the look of pious silent worship on

the face of Mike Pence as his President spoke.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, FMR. U.S. PRESIDENT: Right now, I guess we`re at 26 deaths.

And if you look at the flu, the flu for this year, we`re at -- we`re

looking at 8, 000 deaths, and, you know, hundreds of thousands of cases,

but we have 8, 000 deaths. So we have 8, 000 versus 26 deaths at this time.

With all that being said, we`re taking this unbelievably seriously. And I

think we`re doing a really good job. And again, the task force headed up by

the vice president has been fantastic.

We`re prepared and we`re doing a great job with it and it will go away.

Just stay calm. It will go away. We want to protect our shipping industry,

our cruise industry, cruise ships, we want to protect our airline industry

very important. But everybody has to be vigilant and has to be careful but

because it`s really working out and a lot of good things are going to

happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: So how about all those good things that happened especially you

consumers out there as the man said, you`ve never been in a more powerful

position. And that is the man who put out a statement tonight hoping to be

remembered and demanding credit for the vaccines that are now getting into

the arms of Americans.

That is our broadcast on this Wednesday night as well with our thanks for

being here with us. On behalf of the good men and women at the networks of

NBC News, good night.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY

BE UPDATED.

END

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