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Transcript: All In with Chris Hayes, 3/11/21

Guest: Ron Klain�


President Biden delivers his first address to the nation as a president. Today, President Biden signed into law the American Rescue Plan. President Biden announces that all adult Americans will be eligible to get a vaccine no later than May 1st. The President urges the people to come together and listen to the science and help him defeat the pandemic.


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (on camera): Good evening from the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. We`re here tonight. The President will speak tonight to mark the one-year anniversary of the COVID pandemic.

A couple of minutes from now, not far from where I stand, President Biden will address an America that may finally be turning the corner.


HAYES (voice-over): Now, in this first early light, we can see how this struck all of us together and separately. We were a nation divided by race, by gender, by economics, by politics. The virus exposed those fissures, worked its way into the cracks, and left us more divided, more isolated, more afraid of each other.

There`s been so much tragedy this year, we`ve lost half a million people. Jobs and businesses have vanished, lifetimes of work and savings wiped out while our leaders couldn`t or wouldn`t help.

Our victories came from within, from the small life affirming kindness as neighbors, from heroic doctors and nurses, yes, but also grocery store workers, and restaurant cooks, and the old friends back home were made sure to check in on mom and dad.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Soon we`ll all be able to hug each other, dance again, be together again.

HAYES: Let`s use that as a first step back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s been a rough year, but I`m hopeful for the next year that`s coming up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think the light at the end of the tunnel is finally getting a bit brighter.

HAYES: Tonight, on this special edition of ALL IN AMERICA, let`s acknowledge what separated us and look forward with new hope to the year we meet again.


HAYES (on camera): Good evening from the Lincoln Memorial. I`m Chris Hayes. In just a moment, the 46th President of the United States will address the nation from the White House. The speech comes one year to the day after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic.

President Biden is expected to announce in this speech, the federal government will be directing states to open vaccine eligibility to all adults no later than May 1st, and also open the door to the possibility of a July 4th holiday where we can gather together.

Tonight, we are watching the White House or President Biden will soon make his way as you see him there, to the East Room. He will be speaking to the nation in what will be for him the first primetime address of his presidency. Now, here he is, the 46th President of the United States Joseph R. Biden.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Good evening my fellow Americans. Tonight, I`d like to talk to you about where we are as we mark one year since everything stopped because of this pandemic. A year ago, we were hit with a virus that was met with silence and spread unchecked. Denials for days, weeks, then months. That led to more deaths, more infections, more stress and more loneliness.

Photos and videos from 2019 feel like they were taken in another era, the last vacation, the last birthday with friends, the last holiday with extended family. While it was different for everyone, we all lost something. A collective suffering, a collective sacrifice, a year filled with the loss of life and the loss of living for all of us. But in the loss, we saw how much there was to gain in appreciation, respect, and gratitude.

Finding light in the darkness is a very American thing to do. In fact, it may be the most American thing we do, and that`s what we`ve done. We`ve seen frontline and essential workers risking their lives, sometimes losing them, to save and help others. Researchers and scientists racing for a vaccine. And so many of you, as Hemingway wrote, being strong in all the broken places. I know it`s been hard. I truly know.

So, I`ve told you before, I carry a card in my pocket with the number of Americans who have died from COVID to date. It`s on the back of my schedule. As of now, total deaths in America, 527,726. That`s more deaths than in World War I, World War II, the Vietnam War, and 9/11 combined. They were husbands, wives, sons, and daughters, grandparents, friends, neighbors, young and old.

They leave behind loved ones, unable to truly grieve or to heal, even to have a funeral. But I`m also thinking about everyone else who lost this past year to natural causes, by cruel fate of accident or other disease. They too died alone. They too leave behind loved ones for hurting badly. You`ve often heard me say before I talk about the longest walk any parent can make is up a short flight of stairs to his child`s bedroom to say, I`m sorry, I lost my job. I can`t be here anymore. Like my dad told me when he lost his job in Scranton.

So many of you have had to make that same walk this past year, you lost your job, you closed your business, facing eviction, homelessness, hunger, a loss of control, maybe worst of all, a loss of hope. Watching a generation of children who may be set back up to a year or more because they`ve not been in school because of their loss of learning.

It`s the details of life that matter the most, and we miss those details, the big details in the small moments. Weddings, birthdays, graduations, all the things that needed to happen, but didn`t. The first date, the family reunions, the Sunday night rituals, it`s all has exacted a terrible cost on the psyche of so many of us.

For we are fundamentally a people who want to be with others, to talk, to laugh, to hug, to hold one another, but this virus has kept us apart. Grandparents haven`t seen their children or grandchildren. Parents haven`t seen their kids. Kids haven`t seen their friends. The things we used to do that always filled us with joy have become things we couldn`t do and broke our hearts.

Too often we`ve turned against one another. A mask, the easiest thing to do to save lives, sometimes it divides us. States pitted against one another instead of working with each other. Vicious hate crimes against Asian- Americans who`ve been attacked, harassed, blamed, and scapegoated.

At this very moment, so many of them, our fellow Americans, they`re on the front lines of this pandemic trying to save lives and still they`re forced to live in fear for their lives just walking down streets in America. It`s wrong, it`s un-American, and it must stop.

Look, we know what we need to do to beat this virus. Tell the truth, follow the scientists, and the science, work together. Put trust and faith in our government to fulfill its most important function, which is protecting the American people, no function more important. We need to remember the government isn`t some foreign force in a distant capital. No, it`s us, all of us, we the people.

For you and I, that America thrives when we give our hearts, when we turn our hands to common purpose. And right now, my friends, we`re doing just that. And I have to say, as your president, I`m grateful to you.

Last summer, I was in Philadelphia and I met a small business owner, a woman. I asked her, I said, What do you need most? I never forget what she said to me. She said -- looking me right in the eyes, she said, I just want the truth, the truth. Just tell me the truth.

Think of that. My fellow Americans, you`re owed nothing less than the truth. And for all of you asking when things will get back to normal, here is the truth. The only way to get our lives back, to get our economy back on track is to beat the virus.

You`ve been hearing me say that while I was running and the last 50 days I`ve been president. But this is one of the most complex operations we`ve ever undertaken as a nation in a long time. That`s why I`m using every power I have as president of the United States to put us on a war footing to get the job done. It sounds like hyperbole, but I mean it, a war footing. And thank God we`re making some real progress now.

In my first full day in office, I outlined for you a comprehensive strategy to beat this pandemic. We spent every day since attempting to carry it out. Two months ago, this country didn`t have nearly enough vaccine supply to vaccinate all or ever near all of the American public, but soon we will.

We`ve been working with vaccine manufacturers, Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, to manufacture and purchase hundreds of millions doses of these three safe, effective vaccines. And now, at the direction and with the assistance of my administration, Johnson & Johnson is working together with a competitor, Merck, to speed up and increase the capacity to manufacture new Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is one shot.

In fact, just yesterday I announced, and I met with the CEOs of both companies, I announced our plan to buy an additional 100 million doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccines. These two companies, competitors, have come together for the good of the nation, and they should be applauded for it. It`s truly a national effort, just like we saw during World War II.

Now, because all the work we`ve done, we`ll have enough vaccine supply for all adults in America by the end of May. That`s months ahead of schedule. And we`re mobilizing thousands of vaccinators to put the vaccine in one`s arm, calling active duty military, FEMA, retired doctors and nurses, administrators, and in those to administer the shots.

And we`ve been creating more places to get the shots. We`ve made it possible for you to get a vaccine at nearly one -- any one of 10,000 pharmacies across the country, just like you get your flu shot. We`re also working with governors and mayors in red states and blue states to set up and support nearly 600 federally supported vaccination centers that administered hundreds of thousands of shots per day. You can drive up to a stadium or a large parking lot, get your shot, never leave your car and drive home in less than an hour.

We`ve been sending vaccines to hundreds of community health centers all across America located in underserved areas. And we`ve been deploying and we will deploy more mobile vehicles and pop-up clinics to meet you where you live, so those who are least able to get the vaccine are able to get it. We continue to work on making at-home testing available, and we`ve been focused on serving people in the hardest-hit communities of this pandemic, Black, Latino, Native American, and rural communities.

So, what does all this add up to? When I took office 50 days ago, only eight percent of Americans, after months, only eight percent of those over the age of 65 had gotten their first vaccination. Today, that number is 65 percent. Just 14 percent of Americans over the age of 75 50 days ago had gotten their first shot. Today, that number is well over 70 percent.

With new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the CDC, that came out on Monday, it means simply this. Millions and millions of grandparents who went months without being able to hug their grandkids can now do so. And the more people are fully vaccinated, the CDC will continue to provide additional guidance on what you can do in the workplace, places of worship, with your friends, as well as travel.

When I came into office, you may recall, I set a goal that many of you said was kind of way over the top. I said I intended to get 100 million shots in people`s arms in my first a hundred days in office. Tonight, I can say, we`re not only going to meet that goal, we`re going to beat that goal because we`re actually on track to reach this goal of 100 million shots in arms on my 60th day in office. No other country in the world has done this. None.

Now, I want to talk about the next steps I was thinking about. First, tonight, I`m announcing -- I will direct all states, tribes, and territories to make all adults people 18 and over eligible to be vaccinated no later than May 1 -- let me say that again. All adult Americans will be eligible to get a vaccine no later than May 1.

That`s much earlier than expected. Let me be clear. That doesn`t mean everyone`s going to have that shot immediately, but it means you`ll be able to get in line beginning at May 1. Every adult will be eligible to get their shot. And to do this, we`re going to go from a million shots a day that I promised in December before I was sworn in, to beating our current pace of two million shots a day, outpacing the rest of the world.

Secondly, at the time when every adult is eligible in May, we will launch with our partners new tools to make it easier for you to find the vaccine and where to get the shot, including a new Web site that will help you first find the place to get vaccinated and the one nearest you. No more searching day and night for an appointment for you and your loved ones.

Thirdly, with the passage of the American Rescue Plan, and I thank again the House and Senate for passing it, and my announcement last month of a plan to vaccinate teachers and school staff including bus drivers, we can accelerate massive nationwide effort to reopen our schools safely and meet my goal that I stated at the same time, about a hundred million shots, of opening majority of K through eight schools in my first 100 days in office. This is going to be the number one priority of my new Secretary of Education, Miguel Cardona.

Fourth, in the coming weeks, we will issue further guidance on what you can and cannot do once fully vaccinated to lessen the confusion, to keep people safe and encourage more people to get vaccinated.

And finally, fifth, and maybe most importantly, I promise I will do everything in my power. I will not relent until we beat this virus, but I need you, the American people. I need you. I need every American to do their part, and that`s not hyperbole. I need you. I need you to get vaccinated when it`s your turn and when you can find an opportunity, and to help your family, your friends, your neighbors get vaccinated as well, because here`s the point.

If we do all this, if we do our part, if we do this together, by July the 4th, there`s a good chance you, your families and friends will be able to get together in your backyard or in your neighborhood and have a cookout and a barbecue and celebrate Independence Day. That doesn`t mean large events with lots of people together, but it does mean small groups will be able to get together.

After this long, hard year, that will make this Independence Day something truly special, where we not only mark our independence as a nation, but we began to mark our independence from this virus. But to get there, we can`t let our guard down. This fight is far from over. As I told the woman in Pennsylvania, I`ll tell you the truth.

On July 4th with your loved ones is the goal. But a goal, a lot can happen. Conditions can change. The scientists have made clear that things may get worse again as new variants of the virus spread. We`ve got work to do to ensure that everyone has confidence in the safety and effectiveness of all three vaccines.

So, my messaged to you is this. Listen to Dr. Fauci, one of the most distinguished and trusted voices in the world. He`s assured us the vaccines are safe. They underwent rigorous scientific review. I know they`re safe. Vice President Harris and I know they`re safe.

That`s why we got the vaccine publicly in front of cameras for the world to see, so you could see us do it. The First Lady and the Second Gentleman also got vaccinated. Talk to your family, friends, your neighbors, the people you know best who`ve gotten the vaccine. We need everyone to get vaccinated.

We need everyone to keep washing their hands, stay socially distanced and keep wearing the mask as recommended by the CDC. Because even if we devote every resource we have, beating this virus and getting back to normal depends on national unity. And national unity isn`t just how politics and politicians vote in Washington and what the loudest voices say on cable or online. Unity is what we do together as fellow Americans, because if we don`t stay vigilant and the conditions change, then we may have to reinstate restrictions to get back on track.

Please, we don`t want to do that again. We`ve made so much progress. This is not the time to let up. Just as we were emerging from a dark winter into a hopeful spring and summer, it`s not the time to not stick with the rules.

I`ll close with this. We`ve lost so much over the last year. We`ve lost family and friends. We`ve lost businesses and dreams we spent years building. We`ve lost time, time with each other. Our children have lost so much time with their friends, time with their schools, no graduation ceremonies this spring, no graduations from college, high school, moving-up ceremonies. And there`s something else we lost. We lost faith in whether our government and our democracy can deliver on really hard things for the American people.

But as I stand here tonight, we`re proving once again something I`ve said time and time again, you`re probably tired of hearing me say it. I said to foreign leaders and domestic alike, It`s never, ever, a good bet to bet against the American people. America is coming back. The development, manufacturing, and distribution of vaccines in record time is a true miracle of science. It`s one of the most extraordinary achievements any country has ever accomplished.

We also just saw the Perseverance rover land on Mars, stunning images of our dreams that are now reality, another example of the extraordinary American ingenuity, commitment and belief in science and one another.

And today I signed into law the American Rescue Plan, an historic piece of legislation that delivers immediate relief to millions of people, includes $1,400 in direct rescue checks, payments. That means a typical family of four earning about $110,000 will get checks for $5,600 deposited if they have direct deposit or in a check, a Treasury check.

It extends unemployment benefits. It helps small businesses. It lowers health care premiums for many. It provides food and nutrition, keeps families in their homes, and it will cut child poverty in this country in half, according to the experts. It funds all the steps I`ve just described to beat the virus and create millions of jobs.

In the coming weeks and months, I`ll be traveling along with the first lady, the Vice President, the second gentlemen, and members of my cabinet to speak directly to you, to tell you the truth about how the American Rescue Plan meets the moment. And if it fails at any way, I will acknowledge that it failed, but it will not.

About how after long, dark years, one whole year, there is hope and light and better days ahead, if we all do our part. This country will be vaccinated soon. Our economy will be on the mend. Our kids will be back in school. And we`ll have proven once again that this country can do anything, hard things, big things, important things.

Over a year ago, no one could have imagined what we were about to go through, but now, we`re coming through it. It`s a shared experience that binds us together as a nation. We`re bound together by the loss and the pain and the days that have gone by. We`re also bound together by the hope and the possibilities of the days in front of us.

My fervent prayer for our country is that after all we`ve been through, we`ll come together as one people, one nation, one America. I believe we can, and we will. We`re seizing this moment, and history, I believe, will record we faced and overcame one of the toughest and darkest periods in this nation`s history, the darkest we`ve ever known.

I promise you, we`ll come out stronger with a renewed faith in ourselves, a renewed commitment to one another, to our communities and to our country. This is the United States of America. There`s nothing, nothing -- from the bottom of my heart I believe this, there`s nothing we can`t do when we do it together.

God bless you all, and please, God, give solace to all those people who lost someone, and may God protect our troops. Thank you for taking the time to listen. I look forward to seeing you.


HAYES: The 46th President of the United States Joseph R. Biden with his first primetime address in the White House clocking in at around 24 minutes, making some news tonight saying that he will direct all states to offer the vaccine to all adults, no eligibility strings attached by May 1st at the latest along with a five-point plan to get the country over the virus.

I want to bring in my colleague Rachel Maddow right now who watched the speech, of course. Rachel, what were your impressions?

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: It was interesting, knowing a little bit of what we know about behind the scenes about how long the speech had been expected to be, knowing that it went longer. Clearly, we don`t know -- we never got prepared remarks. We didn`t see the speech in advance. But it was clear that he was ad-libbing and emoting and speaking a little bit off the cuff in addition to what he had planned. At least that was my impression.

And I think it was very moving. The President is very good at articulating empathy, which has been said a million times. But they -- these are the kinds of times when that becomes something that is incredibly utile for us as a country. I think when he said we`re coming through it, I don`t know if he meant that to be the headline for this speech. I don`t know if that was an ad lib line or prepared line, but that`s to me what I -- what I took away.

He`s not saying it`s all roses, were done, it`s all better. I thought it was really important when he talked about that July 4th goal and then said, but you know what, this is just a goal. And we may need to reinstate restrictions if things go pear-shaped, basically.


MADDOW: That was a really important sort of moment of honesty, rather than just shine on what was otherwise him telling us that things are getting better.

HAYES: Yes, it was -- that that was striking, and in some ways encapsulates the difficulty of messaging at this moment, both for the President of the United States, public health experts, right, that there is this light at the end of the tunnel, but Americans have been told for a year it`s turning the corner, including like a year ago, literally to this day that this was all going to be settled, and are skeptical of that. And also that they have -- they can`t over-promise, right.

I mean, they understand that they can control some of what they`re doing, but not all of it. And that was the kind of -- that was the animating principle of the speech tonight, which was a mark in contrast to the kind of chest-pounding and dismissiveness that we had gotten for a year because it`s a much more appropriate way of dealing with this very difficult challenge, it struck me.

MADDOW: And it`s a different -- I mean, it`s a different type of man serving as president with a different idea of leadership and a different idea of success. I mean, whatever you think about President Trump, I think it`s fair to characterize his public pronouncements on COVID as being about himself, about things that he did, and how he was taking care of it. And he wanted you to believe that it was over because he was in charge. And obviously, he would be the one who would fix this.

Instead, what we got from President Biden tonight, was, I need your help. I need your help. I need your help. I need you to get vaccinated when it is your turn, and you have the opportunity to do it. I also need you to help others, your family members, and your friends get vaccinated too.

It was more news tonight when he announced they`ll be a new federal Web site to help people get themselves vaccine appointments rather than the hunting and pecking that we`re all doing through all the different means that we`re doing around the country right now trying to get those vaccines.

He`s saying, I need your help. These are all the things we`re doing, but we all need to do this together. I need you to listen to Dr. Fauci. I need you to get vaccinated. I need you to know exactly how this is going to work and that if things go badly, we are going to have to reinstate restrictions.

He`s asking for a whole of -- a whole of government and a whole of country response, rather than talking about what he`s done.

HAYES: That`s exactly right. I`m going to ask Ron Klain about what the plans are for that Web site and making sure supply can meet demand on May 1st because everyone is already like setting their alarms in their watches.

Rachel, we`re going to see you again at the top of the hour. You`ve got Dr. Fauci tonight. I`m looking forward to that. Thanks so much. See you in a little bit.

OK, so do you remember where you were a year ago at this moment? We will take you back to remember what it looked like and what it felt like when everything changed in the matter of a couple of weeks. Don`t go away.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s been a long here. I just took my mom, my 83-year- old mom to get her second vaccine. She just went inside. And I was not fully prepared for the wave of emotion that hit me, the feeling of gratitude and guilt all at the same time. The fact that in this last year, our whole family has focused singularly on keeping her safe and protected and alive. And we can finally make sure that that happens by getting her the vaccine.

And the guilt that half a million people`s families did not get the opportunity to be able to say that is so incredibly overwhelming. This year has been tough, but she`s alive and we`re grateful. I think the light at this -- at the end of the tunnel is finally getting a bit brighter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m Paul, my wife Mallory and I, we own a bar and restaurant here in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three, two, one, Happy New Year.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To try and explain the last year of our life, it`s pretty tough. We`ve basically gotten by on my VA disability alone, and that`s the only thing that`s gotten us through to this point. We`ve taken on nearly a half a million dollars in debt.

I mean, people don`t understand that, you know, to have a restaurant, you have so much fixed overhead costs. I mean, we spent nearly $25,000 a month even if we`re closed. And every time we reopen, it cost us tens of thousands of dollars to repurchase inventory and open everything back up. It`s been a rough year, but I`m hopeful for the next year that`s coming up.


HAYES: You know, we`ve all been in this new normal so long it is actually the calmer normal. For most of us, it`s been one awful shock after another. But a year ago, all of this, this life with masks and social distancing, and fear, and anxiety, everything else, it felt inconceivable. I mean, looking back, we can see how fast everything changed in just a few short weeks in March.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s a perfect day to be here. Can you stand it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I mean Savannah must be really safe in this Harry Styles day. We have a massive crowd. Our biggest crowds I can remember out on the --

HAYES: Believe it or not, there was a time just about a year ago when things were different. And reports of a growing epidemic in a far off country were still a world away.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Also breaking, the city of 11 million people on lockdown.

HAYES (voice over): But what began as an unthinkable abstraction became more, and more real with the pictures and the news of death.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dr. Li Wenliang tried to warn the world about a new Coronavirus, but was silenced by the police. He has now become one of more than 600 victims of an epidemic.

HAYES: The global alarm bells were absolutely ringing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The whole world needs to be on alert now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Iran is a particular concern. The Deputy Health Minister among the 100 reported infections.

HAYES: And those warnings were heard in this country.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It goes through air, Bob. That`s always tougher than the touch. It`s also more deadly than your -- even your strenuous flus.

HAYES: The problem was, those warnings didn`t really get to us that way.

TRUMP: This is a flu. This is like a flu.

One day, it`s like a miracle, it will disappear.

TRUMP: This is going to go away without a vaccine.

HAYES: And so, life went on. It was campaign season. There were campaigns going on.

TRUMP: So far, we have lost nobody to Coronavirus in the United States.

HAYES: And our show continued around the country doing shows with studio audiences in New York and South Carolina.

What you want is the science leaving the politics not the politics leading in science. When you do not get that, you literally get people killed.

Even in Los Angeles, where the mayor and I, during a commercial break, talked about what might be coming around the bend.

Guys, by the way --


HAYES: It`s not going to last. I`ve got news for you, Mayor.

And soon after, we stopped doing shows with audiences, and then everything, everything that involve people coming together just ended.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The NBA, MLB, NHL, and MLS are now all set to go quiet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From pro sports leagues to Broadway to Disneyland taking stunning measures to slow the spread of Coronavirus.

JIMMY FALLON, COMEDIAN: We at NBC decided it would be smarter to not have an audience.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fans, due to unforeseen circumstances the game tonight has been postponed. You`re all safe.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Amazon and other big tech companies have asked their employees to work from home.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You should ask her children`s school about their plans for school dismissals or school closures. Ask if there are plans to teleschool. I contacted my local school superintendent this morning with exactly those questions.

HAYES: People were getting sick. People were starting to die. And in the frontlines, the people who were responding to this disaster were overwhelmed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everything is not fine. I don`t have the support that I need and even just the materials that I need physically to take care of my patients. It`s very frustrating as a provider when your therapies aren`t working. But usually they work on some level. And it`s just they don`t work.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People like 20, 30 40, 50 much younger than me expected.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`ve been treating my own colleagues as patients. I`ve intubated my own nurses.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The things that I see in the ER are scary. I`m a little scared myself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It just seems that the system is about to collapse.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But I`m here to tell you right now, at one of the busiest hospitals in the country, I still have to make my case clean to test people. This is not good.

HAYES: And so, without testing and without treatment, the only thing we knew for sure, was that it was not going to get better on its own.


HAYES: And so, hundreds of millions of Americans did the only thing they could do, stock up and stay home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you don`t need to go out, don`t go out, please.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Store shelves emptied out as American stock up to hunker down. From bottled water to toilet paper, to disinfecting wipes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I showed up today and it`s just chaos.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right now, I`m trying to keep it calm.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think my biggest fear is that I`ll collapse, like, that I won`t be able to keep it all together.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think I`ve really just been trying to take it day by day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If she were to get the virus, she would end up in the emergency room, so we`re just going to stay here six weeks, three months, it doesn`t matter.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s kind of difficult not knowing like, what`s going to happen and what the future is going to be.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can`t really ask anybody else because nobody has the answers.

HAYES: And so, in a month`s time, our country went from the old normal to a new pandemic reality. The American way of life was locked down and locked in.


HAYES (on camera): Once the lockdown started and the virus hit us, there were many ways that the pandemic fostered a sense of unity, like the medical professionals who traveled across the country to help where it was most needed. And everyday people who supported those doctors and nurses and other staff by cheering them on each night on their shift ends.

And in many more ways, the American COVID experience divided us along all the same lines and fissures that spiderweb through the rest of American life. We can trace those cracks and how they hit different groups. Of course, the one common experience that unites most of us is a year spent desperately trying to avoid this illness.As millions were stricken and hundreds of thousands have died.

Hallie Jackson spoke to one mom whose world was overrun by COVID at possibly the scariest time.


HALLIE JACKSON, MSNBC SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Stephanie Russo and her husband Nick found out they were pregnant last February.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Within a week or two is when I started to hear everything on the news about Coronavirus and things started to get, you know, a little more real around here with everyone buying toilet paper and all that stuff.

JACKSON: Russo stayed healthy and Willow was born November 10.


JACKSON: It wasn`t until a few days after she got home from the hospital that Russo lost her sense of taste and smell.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That was actually our first outing as a family of four. It was to drop me to the COVID testing center. It just kind of sucked.

JACKSON: Russo and her husband tested positive. Their toddler, Doc, got sick a couple days later, They believe their newborn had COVID too. And that`s not all.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don`t know how many of the nurses, but I know it was at least a handful of them also caught it.

JACKSON: So, it was you, Nick, Doc, Willow, the doctor who delivered Willow, at least a couple of the nurses, your mom, your dad?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. And actually, now that I say that, when Willow was two days old, I had to take her to the pediatrician. And this is before I had been tested. And the nurse who`s actually quite a good friend of mine also caught it. It was a very frightening time. It`s mind blowing to me that it`s been a year.


HAYES: Obviously, part of what makes COVID-19 so terrifying is just how contagious it is. And no single group of Americans has been devastated like seniors. Even though they make up less than a quarter of the population, nearly 90 percent of people killed by COVID were 60 or older.

At the great COVID Tracking Project, they reported that even though less than one percent, less than one percent of Americans, America`s population, lives in long term care facilities, as of last week, those people account for more than a third of all COVID deaths in this country.

Because when you live in a closed community, it is hard not to get COVID. The CDC found people who catch the disease typically end up infecting around half of their household. And that has been catastrophic in communities with a high-percentage of multi-generational households like American Indian and Native Alaskan communities.

But as Erin McLaughlin reports from Alaska, the isolation of some villages may have actually helped contain the spread.


ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: As soon as the global pandemic was declared, Alaska native tribes took sweeping action, remote villages completely locked down.

P.J. SIMON, CHAIRMAN, TANANA CHIEFS CONFERENCE: Whatever you had in your pantry, that was the supplies you got for the time being. The whole world shut down.

MCLAUGHLIN: Some villages still had community spread. Others like the tiny village of Nulato didn`t have a COVID case until September, and no one has been hospitalized.

SIMON: There`s a tribal Hall right there.

P.J. Simon is the leader of the Tanana Chiefs. He`s responsible for the health care needs of 42 Alaska Native villages.

SIMON: We`ve had the unfortunate outcome of learning from history. So, we know what the great flu has done in the past and we don`t want that to happen.

MCLAUGHLIN: More than 100 years ago, the Spanish Flu devastated entire villages like (INAUDIBLE). Alaskan Natives suffered the highest death toll per capita of anywhere in the world. It took a massive effort to inoculate the surviving population.

Now, another unprecedented operation is underway. Health teams touchdown in village after village to put shots into arms. The vaccinations expected to be complete this month, well ahead of the lower 48.

SIMON: We went through every major malady that killed people, and yet we`re still here. We`ve adapted, adjusted. This isn`t Alaska.


HAYES: Throughout the pandemic, COVID has disproportionately impacted people in communities of color, especially early on when the disease was mostly hitting places like New York and Detroit and Los Angeles and Louisiana. But while most of the seniors killed by the virus were white, COVID has ravaged younger age groups in Black and Hispanic communities particularly.

Listen to this. Of all the people killed by COVID, in the relatively young age group 35 to 44, nearly half were Hispanic and a quarter were Black. Now, there`s a clear hope for defeating the virus with vaccinations, there are still disparities in who is able to get the shot.

In Mississippi, a state that is lagged in vaccinations regardless of race, Priscilla Thompson met one woman who`s doing everything she can to help get her neighbors vaccinated.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to go back to church and just have a normal life.

PRISCILLA THOMPSON, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Vernita Price (PH) has lived in the tiny town of Sardis, Mississippi for nearly 30 years. But now, she says it feels like anything but home.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My daughter-in-law had COVID. That was in July and she`s still having symptoms. They had a friend whose parents both are deceased now from COVID. And a great friend, a minister, recently that of COVID, so it has really impacted me tremendously.

THOMPSON: Panola County has one of the highest per capita rates of COVID infections in all of Mississippi. Lack of reliable internet and access to transportation has crippled vaccination efforts. So, Price answered the call.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You`re scheduled for Panola County Batesville Civic Center Thursday, March 11, 2021 at 12:20.

THOMPSON: Since January, she`s signed up nearly 80 people for their vaccine appointments, visiting the state Web page up to 30 times a day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you nervous? Oh, OK. I`ve had it. Don`t worry about it. You`ll be OK.

THOMPSON: When she isn`t signing people up, she`s giving them rides to their appointments.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. What`s that you want to get the shot on?

THOMPSON: Breaking down barriers to ensure all of her neighbors get their shots.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you OK with the left arm?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I got that card today.

THOMPSON: How long do you plan to keep this up?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I hope once I get through with the elderly, I get to the young people, and as long as it takes, as long as it takes.


HAYES: Vernita Price is one of many women across the country who have stepped up taking on way more than their share to help the people around them. Millions of women left the workforce either because of economic downturn, or in many cases, because they were the ones who stepped in to take care of their kids and elderly relatives.

Many more have been forced to add educators who resume that already includes caregiver and worker. And as to D.C. business women told Ali Vitaly, this year has completely blown up the old idea of work life balance.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In the moment, it`s hard, but it`s funny in hindsight.

ALI VITALI, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: A little levity and having each other has helped Choi Rose(PH) and Nakomis Gilbert (PH) through the last year.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We lean on each other a lot.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our children don`t understand that it`s hard for us. Mommy is supposed to be able to do everything and we need mommy to do everything. They don`t understand that mommy can`t.

VITALI: And right now mommy isn`t their only job.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re their teachers, were the lunch lady, the nurse, (INAUDIBLE), technical support.

VITALI: And that`s just the stuff you`re doing at home.



VITALI: Because then, you come here.


VITALI: Here is the salon they own together. Back in August, they had to cut their hours. Now, they`re only working two days a week.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`ve had priced up our work day into a two day schedule. I`m not choosing to be home. I have to be home. There`s not really a choice.

VITALI: Millions of women have grappled with the same nonchoice. Over the last year, one in three moms considered scaling back at work. And more than two million women left the workforce completely.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s one of the hardest test I`ve ever had to do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sometimes you got to lock yourself in the bathroom and have a quiet -- regroup.

VITALLI: But there`s still much they`re grateful for after a tough year.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We get to spend more time with our kids.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We still have our homes. We still have our business. That`s the ultimate positive. It`s the blessing.


HAYES: Many other workers have not been as lucky during last year. Unemployment is at record levels and has been for very acute parts of this whole pandemic. Like so much about the pandemic, the economic downturn itself is disproportionately hurting some people more than others. It has hit women, communities of color, and low-wage workers much harder.

And while some industries have been decimated in the last year, weirdly, others have been thriving. Like in Las Vegas where Jo Ling Kent found a huge discrepancy between the strip and the suburbs.


JO LING KENT, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: When COVID-19 first hit, the heart of Las Vegas became a ghost town. Some big new projects were put on pause because tourists stopped showing up. That pattern playing out across the country spending on commercial construction is down eight percent from pre- pandemic levels.

While commercial construction is facing an uncertain future, residential spending is soaring skyrocketing more than 20 percent compared to this time last year.

In nearby suburban Henderson, remodeling is literally through the roof for project managers like Chris Gordy (PH).

What`s in demand?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kitchens and full home remodels. It`s kind of like what you see now, you know, larger projects. I think that a lot of people are kind of sitting around right now and just staring at their homes and they`re not traveling. They have this extra money to be spent and they -- this is what they want to invest in.

KENT: Gordy and business owner Bret Primack (PH) are grateful for the unexpected boom. When the pandemic hits, what went through your head?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, March 18, was our doomsday. We reduced some salaries. We had a lot of unknowns. We actually went through the first six weeks of not selling a single project.

KENT: But after the initial shock, everything changed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was kind of shy at first to tell people that we were doing OK. We end up having a record year in 2020 which for us is amazing, amazing. We beat the previous year by 10 percent.

KENT: Wow.

These days they can`t hire fast enough.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, for the guys who are willing to work, there`s a lot of demand for that which obviously drives up wages.

KENT: One obstacle, raw materials.

What are some of the products that are hard to source?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cabinets right now. Cabinets for us has been our probably the number one challenge. There`s a chain -- a problem of supply chain all the way across that is going to keep on affecting us, I think, for many months to come.

KENT: But it`s a small price to pay.

What`s been the best part of all of this for you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Honestly, to be able to just keep people on board, not have to lay people off, not have to do that was a huge relief.


HAYES: We`ve all experienced this pandemic together. We`ve all had different experience based on where we live, and where we work, where we come from. But there is finally reason to believe we are actually, actually turning a corner. You know, 2.2 million people are getting vaccinated every day. That`s an average. A quarter of all adults in the country have gotten at least one dose.

And President Biden announced tonight that he will direct all states and territories to make all adults eligible for the vaccine no later than May 1st. So, we`re looking at a situation where in the next couple of months, maybe this has already happened to you already, we can all hopefully start coming out of this.

The CDC is already eased recommendations for vaccinated people, meaning vaccinated grandparents can hug their grandkids again. And as Cal Perry shows us, people have been kept apart for over a year are finally seeing each other again.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love you. I love you. I love you. How long has it been since you couldn`t touch me?

CAL PERRY, MSNBC REPORTER: A reunion one year in the making.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good thing we`ve got to keep the mask on because otherwise I`d be smooching all over your face.

PERRY: Married for over 50 years, Kay and Orland Wince (PH) have spent the last year apart, stuck in separate nursing homes in Kearney, Nebraska, only able to chat by phone until this Monday, when Orland surprised Kay with a visit.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I told you, I love you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love you too.

PERRY: A long overdue hug made possible because Kay and Orland are now fully vaccinated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t tear a lot, but I do tear inside. And that was just emotional.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I still can`t believe I`m seeing him. It`s the first chance I`ve had to touch him in over a year. It`s been way too long.

PERRY: The couple hope they can soon get back together with their entire family, five children, and more than 60 grand and great-grandchildren. Until then, Kay will settle for the love of her life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m homesick for a small room where I can be with him. It`s not the way I think of when I`m married to somebody for 53 years sitting at home here shivering to death. I`d like to see him and I`d like to have him hold me tight.

PERRY: It`s been a year defined by separation, seeing loved ones through glass or through a screen. Now, as more and more people get vaccinated, families are finally beginning to reunite. All year, Lindsay Hawkins would have given anything to see her grandparents in person. In the end, it was her job that made it possible. As a CVS pharmacist in Minnesota, she`s been working extra hours as part of a vaccination team.

LINDSAY HAWKINS, PHARMACIST: My grandfather actually asked me one day if I could be the one to give it to him.

PERRY: She`s now been giving vaccines to her own grandparents, getting them one step closer to the day she can finally hug them again.

HAWKINS: It`s very emotional for me to be able to give my grandparents their shot. And yes, it`s really amazing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn`t even feel it.

HAWKINS: He`s joking.

PERRY: With millions of Americans getting vaccinated every single day, we`re all one step closer to being together again after so much time apart.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you.


HAYES: That one got me. As the President just said earlier this hour, if we all do our part, by the Fourth of July, we might be able to celebrate Independence Day together, which would be incredible. That`s what Joe Biden campaigned on. He was arguably elected because Americans wanted to get the virus under control, and thought he was the man to do it.

And one of his most trusted advisors happened to be someone with the perfect resume for the job. Ron Klain had worked in a variety of positions in government. He was a longtime Biden advisor and confidant. He was the one that Obama had tapped to be his Ebola czar.

Well, he`s now the White House Chief of Staff whose chief job is getting this pandemic under control. And joins me here at the Lincoln Memorial tonight. It`s great to have you here.

RON KLAIN, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Great to be here, Chris. Thanks for having me.

HAYES: You know, I was I was reminded that it was one year ago tonight, that you and I were sitting on set with Rachel Maddow --


HAYES: -- after then President Trump gave his address. And you were there to talk about this because you had expertise in pandemic response. Now, you have to do it.


HAYES: Did the year unfold worse or better than you thought it was when we were sitting there a year ago?

KLAIN: Oh, much worse. I don`t think anyone -- I don`t think the most pessimistic person could have imagined you and I be standing here a year later with this epidemic still raging and with more than 500,000 Americans dead. But I did say that night, I was very fearful as you listen to President Trump, that he was going to just wash his hands of the response and leave it in the hands of state and local government to do it.

And I said that night, that would be a horrible mistake. And I think that was borne out. And I think tonight, the American people heard from a president who is taking responsibility, who`s taken charge, who laid out a new strategy to fight COVID, starting on his first full day in office, who`s put the Federal Government center in square owning the response, for better or worse. And I think so far, it`s worked out a lot better than it has before.

HAYES: You know, I think you had the phrase, the articles of confederacy response. And I remembered, it`s stuck with me, because so much was pushed on the states. Joe Biden is elected. There`s an announcement the federal government`s going to move in. There was even a little bit of turf battle. The governor`s wrote a letter. They seemed a little prickly about some of it.

What -- were a 2.2 million vaccines a day.


HAYES: What is it going to take to get to three or three and a half? Is that an achievable goal?

KLAIN: Well, I think we can definitely go up from where we are. I think the President signed the American Rescue Plan, the legislation he called for before he even took office. And that`s going to fund our efforts to further ramp up vaccine production. The President announced yesterday he bought 100 million more doses of J&J.

We need more vaccine to increase the pace. We also need more people giving shots. The President tonight said that he would order 4,000 additional troops to the frontlines to give vaccines. We`re going to activate retired medical workers and other people to really increase our ability to vaccinate the American public.

His goal is he said tonight, is to get to a place where we finish these high priority people in the next six or seven weeks and we can open up vaccinations to all Americans starting May 1st.

HAYES: And he also said, and this strikes me is an enormous logistical challenge. There`s a huge logistical challenge now, right?


HAYES: But with this target, right, people -- you know, right now, there`s a lot of demand and the supply can`t meet it. For the federal government to have some kind of centralized means for a person who says, I want to get a vaccine, it`s May 2nd, and now all adults are eligible, there seem to be a tacit promise that you guys would do some work to make sure the logistics of that are relatively smooth.

KLAIN: That`s right, Chris. We are going to develop over the next few months in advance of May 1st a Web site where people can go and figure out where the vaccine is available. We`re also going to try to back that up with a call center for people who aren`t online. We`re going to take all kinds of other steps.

And I think the most important thing, frankly, we can do is bring the vaccine to where people are. You know, right now, when Joe Biden became president, there was no vaccine going from the federal government to community health centers, none going from the federal government to pharmacies.

Now, we`re hitting 10,000 pharmacies with the vaccine. We`re going to get up to 1,000 community health centers. We`re going to use mobile vaccination clinics. We`re going to bring the vaccine to where the people who need it are.

HAYES: Yes. There`s a lot in the in the rescue plan about that. Right now, we have seen, you know, these racial inequalities particularly reinscribe themselves and vaccination. And some people chalk that up to hesitancy. But actually, if you look at the data, that`s not really the issue. I mean, what is your understanding of that issue?

KLAIN: Well, look, I think hesitancy is an issue with all Americans of all races, ages, whatever. Our principal problem though with people of color right now is access.

HAYES: Right.

KLAIN: We have a lot of Black and Brown People who want the vaccine who cannot get the vaccine. One thing we`ve done, as I said before, is rapidly increase the number of community health centers making the vaccine available. We targeted the first 6,000 pharmacies to get the vaccine. We`re largely in zip codes that serve communities of color.

And as I said before, we`re going to have to get vans, mobile vans out on the street. We have to get people where they are. And we have to do a better job of increasing equitable access to the vaccine.

HAYES: The American Rescue Plan was signed today. It`s -- there`s a ton in that bill.


HAYES: And in fact, to the extent there`s been an argument from Republicans against it. They`ve been, you know, oh, there`s money for museums, there`s money for the National Endowment of the Arts or whatever. There`s concern - - some people were saying this is too much, that the economy is going to overheat. There`s going to be a crazy -- you know, there`s going to be money falling from the sky. What is your response to people with those words?

KLAIN: Chris, we have 10 million people who a year into this still don`t have jobs. We have today, the 52nd consecutive week of record-high initial Unemployment Claims. We have in this country food lines that are miles long. It`s long past time for this country to step up and do what we need to do to help those people who are hurting. That`s the right thing to do. That`s what President Biden said he would do.

It`s also going to be good for our economy. We know this economy grows, when the working class, the middle-class have economic opportunities. And one thing the American Rescue Plan does is it puts an end to kind of the economic focus that the people at the very top really invest in the middle- class and working people. That`s going to get our economy growing for everybody.

HAYES: Ron Klain who I was with a year ago when the world looks very different, now Chief of Staff at the White House. Thank you so much for coming and making time.

KLAIN: Thanks for having me, Chris.

HAYES: All right, thank you all for joining us tonight. Here is to a better year. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.