tv The Rachel Maddow Show MSNBC May 26, 2020 6:00pm-7:00pm PDT
counties in the united states. and 50,000 of us showed up in the last four weeks. but not everybody every day. and we're finding ways to create that spacing. >> always just a fantastic read on the intersection of anything having to do with health care in our society more broadly. thank you so much for making time tonight. >> thank you, chris. >> that is "all in" for this evening. "the rachel maddow show" starts right now. good evening rachel. >> good evening chris. much appreciated. thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. i would like to introduce you to dr. lisa williams, a pulmonary critical care specialist, a respiratory doctor. she specializes in patients who need critical care support for serious respiratory issues because they are really, really sick. and she has been that kind of a doctor for a long time, since well before this epidemic
happened. but for this type of an illness, for this type of an epidemic, being a pulmonary critical care specialist means that, you know, you're the kind of doctor whose specific expertise is most in demand out of everyone. and if you are a specialist who just happens to practice that kind of specialty medicine right now and you are a physician who does that kind of medicine in montgomery, alabama, then you are in the middle of something you must have never dreamed you would be facing. >> we've really seen an influx of patients with covid-19. over the past two, three weeks, our numbers, our icu beds have been full. we've been having a lot of overflow in the icu. the community has, at first, was doing a great job of protecting themselves but now people don't think it's very serious. and unfortunately we're seeing a lot of new patients come in to
the hospital. my specialty is pulmonary and critical care, so i -- you know, i get to take care of the pulmonary patients who obviously end up in intensive care on mechanical ventilation. the one thing that's really important to realize is we see patients of all ages and all walks of life with covid-19. no one's immune to it. and i think that's what's scary. i think a lot of people in our community feel like if they get it they'll be okay. and hopefully they will be, but a lot of people, regardless of your age, are getting sick. i've been in montgomery practicing pulmonary critical care medicine for 14 years, and this is the highest census we've ever had to take care of. it is overwhelming. we're taking care of just tons of ventilators. >> what is the status of icu beds in this hospital right now? >> to my knowledge, as of this morning, there are none available. but the intensive care unit
can -- those patients can also be taken care of in the emergency department. >> what does it say about the status of montgomery that there are no icu beds available right now? >> it's scary. it's scary. the er is equipped to take care of those patients if needed, but it's not the ideal situation by far. >> that's what i was going to say, not ideal. >> no, er nurses are doing a great job but they're not icu nurses. it's just not ideal. to be honest with you, i thought this would be gone by now. i really thought that we saw our peak a few weeks ago, and i thought with the warmer weather we are going to start seeing decreased cases. the scary part is we're seeing rises in cases. multiple people commiare coming every day positive, and it's scary. i don't think the community realizes how prevalent it is. right now a lot of people don't
know people that have tested positive which is a blessing and i hope they don't have to have a loved one suffer from this disease, but it is rampant in this community and it's spreading a lot. very contagious and a lot of people are getting it. i think people are not taking it seriously in the community. i think a lot of folks i'm taking care of, you know, caught it from people they know. and i just think people are just not respecting the wearing masks in public, trying to, you know, do the social distancing. unfortunately, i don't think they realize how serious it is. as i said, i do pulmonary and critical care medicine. i have patients who are on life support machines ranging from the ages of 26 up to 90, in the 90s. and unfortunately, when you get to that point on mechanical ventilation, life support, your life expectancy is very bad regardless of what medicine i give you. and fortunately right now, we do have access to plasma,
remdesivir, all the medicines that are being used to treat this disease. however, especially later in the disease, it's not working. and i have -- it's hard to take care of patients dying when i have no treatment to offer them except supportive care. and it's very sad. it's horrible. it's horrible. you know, i'm used to taking care of sick patients. i'm used to seeing death in the icu. but the volume of death and not being able to help my patients is just heartbreaking. i mean, to be honest with you, every day i'm on the brink of tears wanting to know when this is going to end because it's tough. and i don't think people realize taking care of people that are dying that you can't help. >> dr. lisa williams, pulmonary critical care specialist working in montgomery, alabama, where, as she says, there are no icu beds left. they're repurposing emergency rooms and making due that way, but icu capacity is gone in
montgomery. we spoke with the mayor of montgomery, alabama, last week on this show after he publicly sounded the alarm at a press conference that heading into this memorial day weekend which we just had, he was sounding the alarm that hospitals in his city had zero intensive care beds left. that capacity was maxed out amid a steadily rising influx of coronavirus patients in that city. now, after we had montgomery mayor steven reed here on the show last week, i told him we would check in with montgomery's progress over the next few days as they headed into the holiday weekend. that's scary. you're maxed out in hospital capacity and daily cases are going up every day and hospitalizations are going up every day, what happens when you are overtopped? we did check in with montgomery health workers. nbc's da shah burns also
interviewed dr. brian richardson from jackson hospital in montgomery. and the bottom line is that it is really not good. >> the big headline out of montgomery is the issue with icu beds. what is the status of the icu beds in this hospital? >> so, as of yesterday, we had one icu bed available, but if you check over the last two weeks or so, the running seicen is around zero beds available. >> zero to one beds available. >> yeah. >> how concerning is that? >> it's very concerning because when patients get really sick, they need that icu care. you don't like to see that because of the fact that we don't know what's coming into the emergency department this afternoon or tonight or the next day. and, you know, if a patient comes in critically ill and you've got no really beds in the icu, then you start holding the patients in the e.d. so, we've had work arounds to be able to take care of the patients but it certainly presents a major problem if we
keep going this direction. we would rather have the numbers down lower so we're not dealing with a crisis that may effect not only the covid patients but potentially all the other sick patients. >> you are on the front lines of this. you are seeing this every single day. seeing what you see in there and hearing about the reopening that's happening across the state and here in montgomery, do you think things are reopening too soon? >> in my opinion, yes. if you look over the last couple of week, we've seen 30%, 40 kt approxima %, 50% rises in the number of patients testing positive. you're going to have more hospitalizations. once you have more hospitalizations, you're going to have more icu demands. all of the curves you look at on the graph are connected. you can't have more cases and not have more hospitalizations or more icu demand. so, yeah, it's a concerning issue. >> yeah, it is a concerning
issue. montgomery is -- you know, montgomery is no back water. montgomery is the state capital of the great state of alabama. alabama as a state is seeing a rise in cases, opening up new parts of their economy and social interaction every day. but montgomery's hospitals are paying for it. they are now at the thing they were forecasting they were worried about which is continually rising cases with nowhere to put people. they're stacking people up in the emergency rooms because there aren't icu beds left in montgomery while they continue to open up, while their case numbers look like this. we're also now seeing coverage, local coverage, from places like palm beach county in florida where a county-run 70-bed hospital that serves the community of bell glade florida reports they've maxed out their
icu bed space as the number of cases continues to rise. the health care district says they started to see spikes in admissions and emergency room visits at of may 7th. nevertheless, florida has been steadily reopening and removing restrictions on peoples' behavior and travel. they've seen a steady rise in cases since then, and they are full up. there are no more icu beds available there. in minnesota, "the minnesota star tribune" reports that hospitalizations and icu beds are rising rapidly too. this is the lead, as minnesotans observe memorial day, the official start of summer, the number of covid-19 patients needing intensive care beds climbs to a record high, increasing by the largest number in a single day. quote, the 41-patient spike in icu beds in use from sunday to monday was the largest single day increase in icu beds since the pandemic arrived in minnesota back in march.
"the star tribune" further reports that the medical center opened up a surge icu area just last week to try to get ahead of it. as of right now, in the twin cities broadly, minneapolis and st. paul, icu beds in all hospitals in the twin cities are 87% full right now as cases rise. in north carolina, this was the lead in "the raleigh news observer" monday's daily hospitalization was highest since state officials reported since the pandemic began. in nebraska, the nebraska medical center in omaha reports that its hospitalizations are surging too to the highest level they have yet seen. and, you know, all these different places that we're checking in on, montgomery, alabama, bellglade, florida, minneapolis/st. paul in minnesota, the overall statewide hospitalization numbers in north carolina. you have to look around place by place and state by state and
city by city and some cases like local tv station by local tv station to find these reports of all these hospitals and icu units filling up and hitting their records for patient numbers. you have to scour local news reports to find out where the system is hitting tilt and starting to fail because it is happening in pockets all over the place, in places that you couldn't necessarily predict, where local dynamics are driving growing epidemics that don't match up well with available health care capacity. but even though you have to look hard to find these stories, in most cases, it's not like the hospitals themselves are trying to keep this stuff secret. at least in some places, they're not. for example, in omaha, the nebraska medical center released a public statement about the fact their numbers are the worst they have been and getting worse because they want the public to know and they want the public to do something about it. quote, as we have reached an all
time high in covid-19 patients receiving care at nebraska medical center, we encourage people to do the things we have been encouraging people to do from the beginning. wear a mask in public, practice social distancing, avoid large groups, wash your hands frequently, don't touch your face. this is important. those things may be more important now than they were when this began. so says the nebraska medical center which now has more covid patients than they have had from the very beginning with numbers continuing to rise. social distancing now more important than it was when this all began. it's counterintuitive or at least it's counternarrative in terms of what you're hearing in terms of the national discussion about what's going on with the epidemic and the way things are opening back up and people looking toward the fall and all that stuff. it doesn't match with the narrative that social distancing would be now more important than it was when all this began. but if you think about it not in terms of sort of the chosen political narratives and what everybody wants to be true but
rather what we know about the virus, it makes sense because in america where we've got over 1.6 million cases and we're closing in on 100,000 deaths where we've got the largest epidemic on earth, over time, over the past weeks, two, three months, our epidemic as become older, more mature, and significantly larger. we've never been before -- we've never been above 1.6 million cases until now. we're above 1.6 million cases. it's getting bigger and bigger all the time. more americans are getting infected all the time. and, you know, places like omaha, nebraska, the beds and hospitals are much more filled now than they were before. as we get further into this thing without coming up with a way to responsibly control it in most of the country, now is the time that the social distancing stuff, the things we did to try to keep this thing in check are way more important than they were before when the epidemic
was smaller, when there weren't as many people in any given community that might have it. it makes sense in veer logical terms, right? but of course we are approaching this as a country in the exactly the opposite way. we are seeing case numbers go up. we are seeing hospitals in far flung areas of the country fill up. and this is now the way we're spending holiday weekends. i mean, in the great state of arkansas, the governor there, republican governor issa hutchinson this weekend appeared completely bewildered by the fact his state is going through what he's calling a second peak. yes, arizona, numbers -- excuse me -- arkansas numbers are spiking. that's going to happen when you don't have any policies in place to mitigate the spread of a widely distributed highly contagious virus. the virus will then spread, and your numbers are going to surge right back up as you encourage people to get back out and be
around people more. it's just called math. it's a fact that's bewildering to arkansas' governor who thought this was all behind him. but arkansas is peaking again at a higher rate than it peaked the first time. arkansas is one of at least a dozen states where case numbers are shooting upwards. other states with arkansas in that leaky boat includes yes, alabama. i am sorry, montgomery, where your hospitals are overtopped. also florida, also georgia, alsoal south carolina, tennessee tennessee, oklahoma, north dakota, cases rising in all of those places. we saw virginia hit its record high for new cases in a single day. and north carolina too. north carolina hit its record for new cases in a single day on saturday. they then hit their record for covid hospitalizations yesterday. right, because as the doctor in alabama said, these things do tend to go together. you get more positive cases, more people with the virus, more spread, more people in the hospital. more people in the hospital,
more people in the icu, more people dying. these things are not unrelated. but our country's national leadership against the epidemic is led by the president, about whom perhaps less said the better these days, and also by the vice president who is in charge of the coronavirus task force for the federal government who, don't forget, said this would all be behind us by memorial day. and it's not like he said that back in january. he said that in late april. this would all be done. said that a month ago. by memorial day, this will all be behind us. as it stands, now that memorial day is behind us, we're all cringing and watching and expecting the united states to hit the morbid, terrible benchmark of 100,000 americans dead from this epidemic any minute now, any day now certainly. as we head toward that epic,er the able milestone, it's hard to
escape the question of whether we're doing anything now that needs to be done now to avert thousands more deaths. how are we using this time? our epidemic is younger and smaller now than it's going to be next month. how are we taking advantage of this time to try to save lives that will otherwise be lost with unmitigated spread? i mean, you can look at this in terms of where the most people are dying, where the most people are getting it. we now know where the most americans are dying from this virus. we now know it's something on the order of 40% of all of our nation's deaths from coronavirus have been in nursing homes. nursing home residents, long-term care residents, 40% of our deaths. when you're at 100,000 deaths, that's a lot o-americans dying there. so, what are we doing to save american lives? well, the places where most american lives are being lost in nursing homes. what's the federal government doing in order to stop americans from losing their lives in these
places? well, even now it's important to note that the federal government really isn't doing much of anything to stop the deaths in american nursing homes t. associated press has just followed up on the white house's suggestion to governors two weeks ago, vice president make sense told governors that it is the white house's strong suggestion that all residents and staff need to be tested for coronavirus right away. everybody needs to be tested over the next two weeks. now we're at the end of those two weeks. surprise, it turns out, the states aren't doing that. states actually aren't going to get that done and meet that deadline from the white house because, a, it wasn't a requirement. it was just a suggestion. so of course they're not going to do it. you could make it a requirement if you wanted to. why didn't you? you just suggested so nobody feels obliged. also, b, if the trump administration wanted to help the states get the testing done, the states might be able to do it if they wanted to do it.
but the federal government is fiat had helping with that. and so now with a toll probably on the order of 40,000 americans dead in nursing homes and long term care facilities, what's the federal response there? suggestions. just two weeks after this suggestion from the white house, at least half of states won't do what the white house said they should do in nursing homes. a significant number of states, according to the associated press isn't even trying, not even making an effort. why would they? that's your federal government at work on this thing. that's federal leadership on this thing. when it comes to the places that are regulated by the federal government and therefore are subject to mandates from the federal government, that's what federal leadership looks like in trying to save tens of thousands of more american lives in those kinds of facilities. strong suggestions that nobody does anything about and then nobody cares. i mean, at least nobody in the
federal government appears to care. they don't seem to be doing anything to try to turn that around. what else is the federal government doing? well, as part of one of the coronavirus relief packages that passed congress and the president signed in late april, democrats insisted during the notions over that relief package that the administration should be required to come up with a national strategy policy within one month. the deadline was this weekend. the administration did type up and print out something they are called their supposed testing strategy. what does it say? here's the lead in the "new york times" summarizing it. quote, the trump administration's new testing strategy holds individual states responsible for planning and carrying out all coronavirus testing. this is their national strategy, this long into it. 100,000 americans dead and this is their national strategy for testing. the strategy is the states will do it, won't they?
let's just say that's going to be the way this works. i mean, importantly, this is not only a complete abdication of the responsibility. this also means statistically and logistically that we are back to the brilliant idea of all 50 states competing against each other for testing and materials and lab capacity that you need to get testing done. just like we saw with ppe and everything else from the very beginning all 50 states are all on their own. you all try to figure it out. see which one of you gets the best deal. see which one of you can steal resources from the others. we're not all in this together. every state's in it for themselves, even this far into it. the head of the association of public health libraries is telling "the times," quote, you can't leave it up to states to do it themselves. quote, this is not "the hunger games." who says? i'll just give you one other example. when you think about the
absolute minimum that you might expect a minimally competent federal government to handle in a crisis like this, something that you might expect even a feeble, feckless, weak, tone deaf, incompetent, science-ignorant administration to be able to handle, right? just reduce your expectations as small as they could get. you would at least think they could take minimal steps for things that are under their direct control, right? maybe the idea that nursing homes are all regulated through the federal government is one step too complicated for them. we regulate you and can require you to do stuff. we're not running the nursing homes themselves, therefore we won't do anything. maybe that's too much for them to handle. what about for them responding within their own agencies? stuff the trump administration is directly running with federal employees. well, we've learned that even in
federal prisons where they have been able to get it together to test prisoners, in federal prisons where in fact hundreds of prisoners have tested positive, at least two of those prisons where that is true -- at terminal island and long in california -- even though hundreds of prisoners have tested positive at both of those facilities, the federal bureau of prisons, the trump administration, is still not even offering testing to the staff who work directly with those prisoners inside those prisons. staff members must arrange to get tested on their own if they choose. otherwise, whatever. and it's not like, you know, every place in the federal bureau of prisons is testing. lots of state facilities, lots of jails and stuff. it's a disaster in terms of prisons and jails broadly speaking. but this is the federal bureau of prisons which means these are prisons run directly by the federal government by the trump
administration and these are the staff, right? and this is specifically in environments where they did the testing of the prisoners and they know that hundreds of prisoners are known to be infected. they're telling the staff, you know what, if you want to get tested, just, i mean, call around. whatever the lowest expectation you might have for an administration that is blowing it, bring it down a notch. but as they have blown it in prisons, even the ones they control themselves directly and staffed with federal employees, as they have blown it in federal prisons, as they have blown it in nursing homes which they oversee federally where we've got 40% of the deaths nationwide, and where they have blown it with testing both technically in terms of trying to design an american-made test that never worked, and they've blown it with testing as policy -- i mean, they're still blowing it as recently as this
weekend. the national testing plan right now is the states will do it even as of this weekend. even with them blowing it in all of those ways, the way this administration the blowing it in the place where more americans are getting infected at work than anywhere else, even with all those failures still tops it all, just boggles the mind. and that story is next. stay with us. next stay with us siren ] give me your hand! i can save you... lots of money with liberty mutual! we customize your car insurance so you only pay for what you need! only pay for what you need. ♪ liberty. liberty. liberty. liberty. ♪
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in 1930, workers in west virginia started construction on something called the hawk's nest tunnel. the plan was to bore all the way clean through a mountain so that water could be diverted from a local water to a hydroelectric plant on the other side of the mountain. but they needed to go through the mountain to do it. and in blasting through that rock in west virginia, those workers were exposed to something called silica dust.
and silica dust is nasty stuff. it can cause incurable lung problems including cancer. within months of that project starting in 1930, hundreds of the men who worked on the hawk's nest tunnel got sick from their exposure to the silica des. eventually more than 660 men who worked on that project died. and this happened in the 1930s, but it was -- it's a signal moment in occupational safety, in occupational risk for american workers. and still, exposure to silica dust is a very real, very deadly problem. millions of construction workers in this country still face exposure to it at job sites. with the exception of some regulations put in place in the 1970s, honestly very little was done about this risk which we knew to be very, very dangerous and definitely fatal for lots of workers. very little was done about it until 2016.
in 2016, the occupational safety and health administration, osha, which is the federal agency that oversees workplace safety, they finally announced new rules that limited workers' exposure to silica dust. specific practices to capture silica dusts. it's estimated those policies that came about to n 2016, estimated those policies saved the lives of more than 600 people annually and prevented more than 900 annual cases of lung disease. the person who helped usher in those land mark and long overdue guidelines was this man, david michaels. he ran osha at that time under the obama administration. those rules were put into place under his leadership. david michaels served as osha administrator in the obama administration for seven years. that makes him the longest serving osha administrator, i think, ever. under his leadership, osha imposed new health standards when it came to toxic substances, established safety
regulations, updated the way they tracked injuries and illnesses. then he left that job just before president trump's inauguration. and then this happened. now, in the face of a raging, out of control coronavirus epidemic that has claimed 100,000 american lives already and in which thousands of american workers are known to have been infected on the job already, particularly at meat processing plants, but at lots of other workplaces besides, his former agency, osha, has issued a grand total of zero citations having to do with coronavirus and safety at the job. as "the washington post" put it this weekend, quote, osha, the federal agency in charge of worker safety, has not issued enforceable guidelines for protecting employees from the coronavirus as it did the h1n1 in 2009. instead they've opted for voluntary guidance.
the agency says it plans no enforcement actions so as not to burden companies during the pandemic. joining us now is david michaels. he's the assistant secretary of labor and health during the obama administration. it's a real honor to have you here. >> thank you for inviting me on your show, rachel. >> i'm not an expert when it comes to this kind of stuff, but i know you are. let me just -- before you start, let me just ask you if i said anything wrong there -- >> no. >> -- or if i described osha in a way that doesn't comport with the understanding. >> sadly, i think we did a great deal during the obama administration and osha is missing in action right now. it's tragic. you know, it's more than two months since osha and the cdc really issued voluntary guidelines for businesses to follow. when i was at osha, we issued mandatory guidelines for silica, as you described it, which will save lives. we can see clearly that these
voluntary guidelines aren't working. they're not effective. there are 18,000 meat packing workers who are sick and more than 70 we think have died. we don't even know the real numbers. companies have stopped reporting the numbers, essentially trying to hide what's going on. it's not just in meat packing plants. we see outbreaks now in prisons, nursing homes, but also amazon warehouses, mcdonald's, farms, any place workers are congregating. and as this tragedy is unfolding, osha is doing nothing. they've issued no requirements to protect workers, not meatpackers, no workers. the trump administration is essentially saying to, woers you're on your own. we're not going to help you. the problem that beyond the fact that it's killing workers is it's going to mean we can't stop this epidemic because the driver of this epidemic in many communities is workplaces. you talked about prisons a little earlier. the counties with the highest rate of covid-19 infection are counties with either prisons or
meat packing operations because the virus doesn't stop at the door of the plant or the prison. you know, workers bring them home to their families, their communities. not protecting these workers is a sure fire way to keep this epidemic going rather than to stop the spread. >> let me ask you about what you just said about voluntary guidance and the fact that, for example, cdc and osha did produce only voluntary guidelines in the last few weeks in terms of what workplaces should do. it seems to me that science is not the problem here, that this is, yes, a novel coronavirus, and yes, we are learning things about it that surprise us all the time. but in erm it is of the basic things you need to do to keep people safe at work, we do -- the public health people and the occupational safety and health people and the epidemiological detectives who trace how these things spread, they do basically know what needs to be done in workplaces in order to keep people safe. the issue is enforceability and
whether or not the federal government will make workplaces do that. it seems to me like osha is actually a very powerful agency for requiring workplaces to comply with guidelines like that if they put their shoulder into it. there is a lot of power in the agency that could be tapped if the administration wanted to, isn't there? >> absolutely. you know, everybody in this country knows about social distancing and the phrase ppe which no one knew three months ago outside of occupational health. it's now on everybody's voices. but what osha has to do is make it a requirement, to say to employers you must follow these rules. and of course osha can do that. osha can issue an emergency standard that says right now to every employer in the country what you must do is create a plan, an infection control plan at your workplace which says how we're going to make sure we have enough distance, ppe, sanitation. it's not as people say, rocket science. we know how to do it. the only thing i think people
have to take into account here is this plan, this is what we're going to do. they must do that but they have to involve their workers because it has to be collaborative. it's workers who are exposed. it's their skin in the game. they need to be involved. osha has to say that every employer work with your workers, work with the unions to figure out how you're going to make sure everybody's protected and move forward together. but needless to say they're not doing that or anything like it. >> david michaels. osha administrator during the obama administration. thanks for sharing your expertise with us tonight. i hope you don't mind if we call you and ask you to come back. we've been focused on a lot of different kind of workplaces that have been having trouble, and we would love to be able to tap your expertise to understand what could be done. >> i would be happy to return. thanks for having me on. >> thanks a lot. much more to get to. a lot. much more to get to.
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deputy white house chief of staff, but around the office, they apparently called him zodis. the z is for zachary. they called him zodis because of his habit of making decisions above his pay rate. zotus, zack of the united states. john kelly was pushed out of his job as white house chief of staff. he's one of many chiefs of staff that have cycled through the trump oval office. when the chief of staff leaves, usually the deputy goes as well. he instead hatched himself an elaborate plan. he told colleagues he would quote height out at the eis
eisenhower executive office building, adjacent to the white house, for six months remaining on the white house payroll. he was active duty in the u.s. coast guard, six months shy of qualifying for early retirement benefits which is why he decided he would hide out for six months even after his boss left and he had no more real job inside the white house. the hitch in his plan in which he was going to hide out for six months and wait for his early retirement program to kick in, the hitch in his plan was that that early retirement plan, turns out it had lapsed the previous year. so, zack fuentes proceeded to his position as deputy white house chief of staff to try to get that early retirement program in the coast guard back on the books so he could use it for his own financial gain. and it might have worked if "the new york times" had not started asking questions about it. quote, after reporters raised
questions with lawmakers of both parties, a provision to reinstate the coast guard early retirement program was abruptly pulled from a house bill. this all went down in december of 2018, as, you know, profound and scandalous petty corruption goes, it kind of seems quaint now. in our new era though of ever-darkening prospects for scandal, i have to tell you zotus, zack fuentes, is back. propublica reporting that that same guy just landed a $3 million federal contract to provide protective masks to hospitals in the navajo nation. they're dealing with one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the country. why is zachary fuentes getting a federal contract to give them millions of dollars worth of masks? i don't know. we should note that mr. fuentes has zero experience in
manufacturing masks or sourcing them. he created his new company zack fuentes llc 11 days before he got this multimillion dollar federal contract. and they saw it fit to give him $3 million to supply masks. that part alone in its own rich scandal. it gets worst. quote, what's more, the masks fuentes have agreed to provide have come under intense scrutiny amid concerns they offered inadequate protection. quote, the indian health service tells propublica it has founded 247,000 of the masks may be unsuitable for medical use. in normal times the federal government might not be looking toward former white house stow aways for help in a fatal crisis
like this. but we have the government we have. and that government has made a profound and elaborate practice of failing america's front line workers when it comes to protective gear. today on capitol hill, the lead watchdog at hhs testified before congress. she wrote a report that documented severe shortages of ppe in our hospitals for our front line health workers. for writing that report, she was publicly lambasted by the president. she was sent packing, sent to the sidelines. today she was back on capitol hill to talk about where things stand here. one of the lawmakers who questioned her joins us next. stay with us. questioned her joins us next stay with us that doesn't sound confusing mama. you're on t-mobile, taxes and fees are included. oh come on, there's always extra fees! not on t-mobile mama. why can't all my bills be like this? i don't know mama. bye mama, love you. anthony? umph! at t-mobile, taxes and fees are included.
department inspector general steve linick. that was totally ignored. they do not feel they have to hand over documents about that. today, another inspector general announced he would be leaving. he was the pentagon inspector general glenn fine. he stepped down today, left government service a month after the president sidelined him, blocking him from taking a lead oversight role for the coronavirus response. the thing is, sidelining or firing or running off these inspectors general doesn't make them vanish entirely. today, we heard from the health and human services watchdog christy grim, who the president removed to replace after she reported on the shortage of protective gear in hospitals. can't leave her around able to talk about that. joining us now is congresswoman jackie speier. nice to see you. thank you for making time tonight. >> great to be with you, rachel.
>> how serious is the president's behavior and the administration's behavior towards inspectors general? i feel like there's so much -- i'm having a hard time putting it in perspective how serious a threat this is and whether or not there's any cure to it. >> so the inspector general's act was created in 1978. we now have over 14 inspectors general, and they are there precisely to take care of the interest of the taxpayers, to ferret out waste, fraud, and abuse. and so they are critical to doing the analysis, the auditing, to make sure there is not fraud going on. so as he starts to pluck out each one of these individuals, because they're doing their job, yes, we have a big problem. we wants to put his cronies in their place so that there won't be watchdogs making sure that
the taxpayer dollars are being spent properly. and that is a very serious concern. >> is the inspector general system structured in such a way that congress does have real tools for trying to fix this, for trying to get to the bottom of whether there were improper or corrupt reasons for the firings? and potentially to protect or maybe even reinstate inspectors general who were fired for improper reasons? >> well, there was a provision put in the hero's act that's over on the senate side that would require that the president could only fire an inspector general for cause. in all of these circumstances, he's just said initially that he has lost confidence. he loses confidence because they put him in a poor light. and if you criticize the president, you're going to lose your job as an inspector general. so what is the likelihood of you doing the right thing and doing
the heavy lift when, in fact, there isn't the amount of ppe in the hospitals. that's what christy grim was able to show, and as soon as that report came out, he was asked about it. and then she was history. so it is -- and she has worked in the department of health and human services since 1999 under both republican and democratic administrations. he's now going to replace her with someone who is in the u.s. attorney's office, not someone steeped in the health and human services agency, where so much of the money is being spent right now in the covid crisis. >> of course, substantively, the thing she documented in her inspector general report that got the president so upset remains true, as we are starting to see hospitals in far flung corners of the country fill up and get their icu beds topped in terms of capacity and we're
worrying about the next wave, the ppe concerns are still valid. >> they're very legitimate. i was on the phone with local hospitals today. they are still in need of nasal swabs. if you don't have nasal swabs, you can't do the tests and determine whether or not someone was covid positive. so you treat them as though they were covid positive and use the ppe that may or may not be necessary under the circumstances. so yes, it is critical that we have the ppe necessary to do the job. that strategic national stockpile is in desperate need of review. that's one of the 14 studies under way along with looking at testing generally. so there was great work being done by her in that office, and that's the reward you get, if you criticize the president, you get your firing. >> congresswoman jackie speier of the great state of california, great to have you here, congresswoman. thanks for your time tonight.
>> thank you, rachel. >> all right. we'll be right back, stay with us. >> all right we'll be right back, stay with us from here. and you can see your transactions from here. and check your balance from here. you can detect suspicious activity on your account from here. and you can pay your friends back from here. so when someone asks you, "where's your bank?" you can tell them: here's my bank. or here's my bank. or, here's my bank. because if you download and use the chase mobile app, your bank is virtually any place. so visit chase.com/mobile. are your asthma treatments just not enough? then see what could open up for you with fasenra. it is not a steroid or inhaler. it is not a rescue medicine or for other eosinophilic conditions. it's an add-on injection for people 12 and up with asthma driven by eosinophils. nearly 7 out of 10 adults with asthma may have elevated eosinophils. fasenra is designed to target and remove eosinophils, a key cause of asthma. it helps to prevent asthma attacks, improve breathing,
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that is going to do it for us tonight. we'll see you again tomorrow. now it is time for "the last word" with the great lawrence o'donnell. good evening. >> good evening. one thing i've been wondering about in the coverage of noncompliance, we saw dramatic videos around the country of people violating the rules of social distancing and gathering b