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Meet the Press - August 9, 2020

Peter Navarro, Dick Durbin, Dr. Tom Inglesby, Kasie Hunt, Joshua Johnson and Rich Lowry

CHUCK TODD:

This Sunday: Pandemic and politics.

CHOKWE LUMUMBA:

The situation is dire.

CHUCK TODD:

The US reaches 5 million confirmed COVID cases.

DR. BRAD SPELLBERG:

Come into my ICU. Come watch. Patients and families are being crushed.

MONICA ESCOBAR:

This is a huge toll to take every day, knowing that you're the only person, maybe the last person who speaks to them.

CHUCK TODD:

While President Trump continues to deny the tragedy he's overseeing:

PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

It'll go away. Things go away. Absolutely. No question in my mind it will go away.

CHUCK TODD:

Congress deadlocked.

REP. NANCY PELOSI:

This morning was disappointing, I don’t care what rose they try to pin on it.

CHUCK TODD:

With millions losing benefits, negotiators fail again to reach agreement.

SECY. STEVEN MNUCHIN:

We did not make any progress today.

CHUCK TODD:

And President Trump signs executive orders he claims will help those in need. My guests this morning White House Trade Director Peter Navarro, Democratic Whip, Senator Dick Durbin, and Dr. Tom Inglesby of Johns Hopkins University. Plus: Coronavirus and the Classroom. The debate over opening schools.

TEACHER:

It is not appropriate to open in-person learning in an environment with raising contagion.

CHUCK TODD:

We talk to a principal, a teacher and a school nurse on opening schools in the age of a pandemic. And Decision 2020: Tangled up in blue. How the electoral map has shifted with just 12 weeks to go before Election Day. Joining me for insight and analysis are: MSNBC anchor, Joshua Johnson, NBC News Capitol Hill correspondent, Kasie Hunt , and Rich Lowry, Editor of National Review. Welcome to Sunday. It's Meet the Press.

ANNOUNCER:

From NBC News in Washington, the longest-running show in television history. This is Meet the Press with Chuck Todd.

CHUCK TODD:

Good Sunday morning. It's easy -- even dangerous -- to become numb to the scope of the coronavirus tragedy that's all around us. Yesterday, the United States hit a total of five million cases, two million more than Brazil, which is second in the world in cases. We've also passed 160,000 deaths -- we're at 163,828 this morning -- and the University of Washington's model predicts the toll could roughly double to 300,000 by the first of December. Let's put that 160,000 figure into a little bit of perspective. That's about 40 percent more than the total number of Americans killed in World War I. It is nearly triple the number of Americans killed from Vietnam. And, if that University of Washington figure is correct, by December we will have passed the number of US battle deaths from World War II, all in less than one calendar year. Here's another perspective: Over the past two weeks we've suffered roughly one death from COVID-19 every 77 seconds. President Trump continues to insist, as he put it, "It'll go away like things go away." And when pressed in an interview recently, Mr. Trump added: "They are dying, that's true. It is what it is." Yes, it is what it is. And what it is is a once-in-a-century health crisis made worse by partisan politics, testing mistakes, evolving advice, a public too quick to ignore safety guidelines and a president who has chosen to deny, dismiss and distract for far too long. Adding to that, Washington seems more paralyzed than usual -- deadlocked on a relief package -- prompting President Trump, who himself has refused to meet with the negotiators personally, to step in late yesterday and attempt to sidestep Congress.

PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

I'm taking executive action. We've had it.

CHUCK TODD:

President Trump, signing a series of executive orders, after his own negotiators failed to make a deal.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER:

It was a disappointing meeting.

REP. NANCY PELOSI:

This morning was disappointing. I don't care what rose they try to pin on it, it's got a lot of thorns.

SECY. STEVEN MNUCHIN:

We did not make any progress today.

CHUCK TODD:

But with a nation in crisis --

SARAH GARD:

What’s at stake for my family is being able to stay who we are. Being able to maintain the life that we have.

CHUCK TODD:

The limited actions are likely to be challenged in court, as President Trump takes on powers constitutionally granted to Congress.

PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

Maybe they'll bring legal actions, maybe they won't but they won't win.

CHUCK TODD:

30 million Americans are set to miss another benefits check this week. An eviction moratorium expired last month for millions more. The small-business Paycheck Protection Program lapsed on Saturday, and some student loan relief will expire at the end of September. President Trump's action sets a weekly unemployment benefit at $400.

KELLY O'DONNELL:

Why did you decide on $400 when previously families were receiving 600. That will be a hardship for many. What do you say to them?

PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

Well no, it's not a hardship, this is the money that they need, this is the money they want and this gives them a great incentive to go back to work.

CHUCK TODD:

The President says states, many of which are dealing with budget gaps and pleading for more support, must contribute 25% in order for Americans to qualify.

REPORTER:

Which governors have told you they would sign on?

PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

If they don't they don't, that's up to them.

CHUCK TODD:

Among the other new orders: Deferring the payroll tax for workers who earn less than $100,000 a year, a move opposed by congressional Democrats and Republicans, suggesting federal agencies "consider" some eviction protections and deferring student loan payments. The Constitution does not give the president power to either appropriate or to tax without Congress. President Trump once promised to be a deal maker.

PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

I’m different than other presidents. I’m a dealmaker. I do hundreds of deals, the deals come out of my ears. I do deals. I mean, you have to do deals. We don't want to do the executive orders all the time. It wasn't supposed to be about executive orders. You have to bring them, like Tip O'Neill and Ronald Reagan, you have to bring them together.

CHUCK TODD:

But now a deal is elusive with the two sides trillions of dollars apart on a wider package, which Democrats say should include money for schools reopening, for virus testing and aid to cities and states.

REP. NANCY PELOSI

I said come back when you're ready to give a higher number.

CHUCK TODD:

At his golf club this weekend, the president spun the facts, both on the economy -- for 20 straight weeks, unemployment claims have topped 1 million, shattering historical records.

PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

The single biggest three-month period of job creation in American history.

CHUCK TODD

And on the virus.

PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

A pandemic which is disappearing, it’s going to disappear.

CHUCK TODD:

And joining me now is Peter Navarro. He is the director of trade and manufacturing policy. He's also the National Defense Production Act policy coordinator. Dr. Navarro, welcome back to Meet the Press.

PETER NAVARRO:

Good morning, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

And I want to start with -- I want to start with something the chief of staff said on Friday. Take a listen, sir.

[BEGIN TAPE]

MARK MEADOWS:

We're going to take executive orders to try to alleviate some of the pain that people are experiencing. This is not a perfect answer. We'll be the first ones to say that. But it is all that we can do and all the president can do within the confines of his executive power.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

So is this an acknowledgment -- do you agree with the chief of staff --

PETER NAVARRO:

I think that --

CHUCK TODD:

-- that this is not enough, that this is a small amount here and that in order to do more that's necessary, you've still got to work with Congress?

PETER NAVARRO:

He didn't say it was a small amount, Chuck. What he said was it's not enough. What we've got here is the failure of talks and the president taking action on four fronts to help four discrete groups. So you have the payroll tax cut, which is effectively a substantial wage hike for Americans who have their jobs. You've got a plus-up for workers who are on the unemployment lines. You've got relief for renters and single-family homeowners so they don't become homeless. And you have for our young people who have this crushing burden of student loans, you have relief. And those are four targeted solutions. And that will help deal with the pain. It's unfortunate that we have not yet got a deal. But in the absence of that, President Donald J. Trump is acting on behalf of the American people.

CHUCK TODD:

I want to ask you about a few of these provisions. Some of them look legally dubious here. Are you confident -- what gives you confidence that the president has the power to decide when to postpone the collection of taxes?

PETER NAVARRO:

Well, one of the things I've learned here, Chuck, at the White House going through a lot of work on executive orders is what we have the statutory authorities to do. And I'm confident that every single one of those orders which cleared through the Office of Legal Counsel will stand up. If you look, for example, at the eviction and foreclosure language, in your opener there you noted the words "shall consider." Well, that's how you have to write it. But everybody knows in that bureaucracy that you damn well should do it. And they will. So there's that. The payroll tax cut, we clearly have the authority to do that. That could be done easily through the Treasury Department. And I would note that in 2012 Nancy Pelosi was a strong supporter of the payroll tax cut and Barack Obama used bond funding to make sure that Social Security was not harmed in any way. President Trump, there's nothing more strongly that he supports than the integrity of Social Security. So each of these provisions work.

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah.

PETER NAVARRO:

It's unfortunate that these negotiations to date have failed. But, I mean, look. This should be easier than it is, Chuck. We've got two sides, you know, one's at $1 trillion, another's at $3 trillion. The first thing you have to do is agree on some number in between. Once you do that, step two is figure out within that what you both agree on, something like a --

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah

PETER NAVARRO:

-- $1,200 check to every American.

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

PETER NAVARRO:

And then what you do is you trade off, go back and forth across the table what you want, respecting each other's red lines. You don't make the Republicans pay for Planned Parenthood or pot farms, for example. This should be easy. The question we've had watching this unfold, the question the president has is whether the Democrats really are sincere when they come to the table. And I'm not sure, it doesn't help when Speaker Pelosi goes out after every day with her scarfs flying and just beats the heck out of us for being cruel people when in fact you have a president --

CHUCK TODD:

Well, let me follow. But, Dr. Navarro--

PETER NAVARRO:

Let me say one -- yeah, go ahead.

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah. No, let me ask you this. Where is the president? Why was he at his golf club all weekend? Why isn't he negotiating? Look, I understand --

PETER NAVARRO:

Hang on. Let me, let me respond --

CHUCK TODD:

-- you guys don't like each other.

PETER NAVARRO:

-- to that. That is not --

CHUCK TODD:

That Nancy Pelosi and the president --

PETER NAVARRO:

Hang on.

CHUCK TODD:

Where is he?

PETER NAVARRO:

Well, he --

CHUCK TODD:

Why isn't he involved?

PETER NAVARRO:

Look, you have to understand this is the hardest working president in history. He works 24/7. He can be in Bedminster, Mar-a-Lago, the Oval Office, or anywhere in between. He can be at the Whirlpool factory, like we were on Thursday, celebrating working men and women benefiting from tariffs. He's working 24/7. The problem here, the problem here is Capitol Hill, the swamp, two houses that are too far apart. I mean, the Lord and the founding fathers created executive orders because of partisan bickering and divided government. That's what we have here. But the president's taken action. His constituency -- let's be clear. His constituency is mainstream Republicans, blue collar Democrats, and independents who are sick and tired of the swamp. And he reached out and he took action. You know, he didn't have to --

CHUCK TODD:

Let me ask you this --

PETER NAVARRO:

-- sign those executive orders. He could have just let this keep going, but he did not do that--

CHUCK TODD:

But you just --

PETER NAVARRO:

He took action, action, action--

CHUCK TODD:

All right.

PETER NAVARRO:

--and action.

CHUCK TODD:

Okay. You outline what a -- how a negotiation works. And you did something very interesting. You said, "Okay, the Democrats are at $3 trillion. The Republicans are at $1 trillion. You've got to figure out where to meet in the middle." That's what the Democrats proposed.

PETER NAVARRO:

No, no, no --

CHUCK TODD:

They said, "Hey--"

PETER NAVARRO:

Hey Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

--"let's meet in the middle on a number --"

PETER NAVARRO:

Chuck. Let's be clear.

CHUCK TODD:

-- and it looks Mark Meadows said no.

PETER NAVARRO:

No, no. That's not --

CHUCK TODD:

No?

PETER NAVARRO:

That's not accurate. And here's the thing. The other -- the cardinal rule in negotiations is you don't do them on TV. You don't do them here on TV. You don't do them on Capitol Hill in the Rotunda like Nancy Pelosi does. You do it with sincerity. You have to have both sides willing to make a deal. I know a deal can be done if you just go by that rule. It can be done. But in the absence of this, American people have to understand --

CHUCK TODD:

Let me ask you this.

PETER NAVARRO:

-- President Trump will act to help people who are unemployed, who are hurting, people who are working that need more money, renters, homeowners who are really facing a bleak future of evictions and foreclosures --

CHUCK TODD:

Okay.

PETER NAVARRO:

-- and students who need to get out from under that burden of debt.

CHUCK TODD:

Assuming negotiations continue and a deal happens maybe in a week or two weeks, I assume all these executive orders become null and void?

PETER NAVARRO:

If Congress solves the problem, there's no need for the president to take executive action, okay? We'll see what we get. But here's the point. Let's not go there. Let's go to this. We've got four actions President Trump has taken that will help workers, the unemployed, renters, homeowners, and students, students who have student loans. What we need is a sincere negotiation. We have to believe that both sides actually want a deal. And there is this theory, Chuck, that the Democrats would prefer to see the economy go into the tank for another 90 days because that harms the president. I hope that that Capitol Hill hasn't become that cynical --

CHUCK TODD:

I think --

PETER NAVARRO:

But watching this negotiation, it makes me wonder. Because we've been willing to bend. We're --

CHUCK TODD:

I think the cynicism is a two-way street.

PETER NAVARRO:

Mark Meadows is a great negotiator.

CHUCK TODD:

I take your point --

PETER NAVARRO:

He is willing to bend.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, I think he has a reputation of killing more deals than he does of solving them --

PETER NAVARRO:

Now, that's not fair. That man is --

CHUCK TODD:

Let me move to your other job.

PETER NAVARRO:

-- a gentleman, and he's a great negotiator --

CHUCK TODD:

In the Freedom Caucus.

PETER NAVARRO:

And what we don't want is to have this break down. And we went up there in good faith. You didn't see our side going out in the Rotunda and throwing grenades. It was the other side doing that.

CHUCK TODD:

Okay. Let me ask you about your DPA --

PETER NAVARRO:

Sure.

CHUCK TODD:

-- part of your job --

PETER NAVARRO:

Would be happy to talk about it.

CHUCK TODD:

-- you wear a lot of hats.

PETER NAVARRO:

Yes, sir.

CHUCK TODD:

The Washington Post over the weekend. The Lost Days of Summer: How Trump fell short in containing the virus. And I want to pull out this paragraph because I think it impacts you, Dr Navarro. “Despite repeated calls to invoke the Defense Production Act to help resolve testing supply shortages. The administration has resisted doing so. Trump and several White House aides have instead continued to think that it is politically advantageous to cede the issue to the states to avoid taking ownership or blame for the issue, even though testing shortages are largely seen as a federal failure.” Why haven't you used the DPA to figure -- to help fix this testing problem in the country?

PETER NAVARRO:

So, we're going to come out with a report early this week that identifies all of the things the president has done using the Defense Production Act. There's over 30 actions we've taken, a lot of them related to testing. I think the poster child for that is a DPA Title III that we did that got Guilford, Maine, the Puritan company, upping their production of swabs to 20 million a month. Those are the kinds of things we're doing. We're fighting using the DPA on all fronts. Chuck, we used the Defense Production Act to stand up a factory in Kokomo, Indiana by General Motors in 17 days.

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

PETER NAVARRO:

Nobody will ever, ever do better than that.

CHUCK TODD:

Okay, but where is that --

PETER NAVARRO:

And three days later, we had ventilators --

CHUCK TODD:

Where is that urgency for testing?

PETER NAVARRO:

Pardon me?

CHUCK TODD:

Where's that urgency for testing? That's the point here.

PETER NAVARRO:

Look, we're working on everything --

CHUCK TODD:

You know, there have been selective instances --

PETER NAVARRO:

Look, I'll give you another example. We’re issuing --

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah, selective instances --

PETER NAVARRO:

We're issuing grants to make sure we get point-of-care virus testing. This to me is going to be the game changer, where right now we've got two types, right? We've got a lab test that takes a number of days, which is not optimal. It's highly accurate. We've got the ID NOW of Abbott, which takes 15-20 minutes. We're rapidly expanding that reach. What we'd love to do is have a point-of-care kind of like a pregnancy test but the same idea --

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

PETER NAVARRO:

-- where you can do it at your home. And we are working, Chuck, we are working 24/7 on these things. And we've made great progress on therapeutics, on vaccine development. This president is going to probably be able to get one or more vaccines by the end of the year. That's a third of the time it usually takes in using the Defense Production Act. So I'll personally send you a copy of this report when it comes out. You tell me afterwards whether we've done a lot --

CHUCK TODD:

Okay.

PETER NAVARRO:

-- or not, using that DPA. But it's --

CHUCK TODD:

All right. --

PETER NAVARRO:

It's the most rapid industrial mobilization in this country since World War II.

CHUCK TODD:

And I think there are a lot of people that hear your enthusiasm and want to see you use it even more. But, Dr. Navarro, I have to leave the conversation there.

PETER NAVARRO:

Yes sir.

CHUCK TODD:

Thank you for coming on --

PETER NAVARRO:

Thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

-- and sharing the administration's perspective. I appreciate it.

PETER NAVARRO:

Yes, sir.

CHUCK TODD:

And joining me now for another perspective is the number two Democrat in the Senate. It is Dick Durbin of Illinois. Senator Durbin, welcome back to Meet the Press. I want to start with something Peter Navarro just said. He said “In negotiations, one side has one number.” And he said “There needs to be something in the middle.” And when I heard that, I thought, "Well, that sounds like potential progress." Did you hear that as suddenly the White House wants to move to the middle? Because that doesn't seem to be what Mnuchin and Meadows did.

SEN. DICK DURBIN:

Chuck, let me just tell you. If that is the standard, we've not only accepted it, we've offered it. We were at $3.4 trillion in the bill that Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats passed 12 weeks ago. 12 weeks ago. And now, we've come down to the range of 2 trillion. They were at a trillion. We've asked them to come up a trillion. It does exactly what Navarro suggested. We are ready to meet the White House and the Republicans halfway. We've said that from the start. We have priorities that may be different than theirs. But in terms of a dollar amount, we're exactly where Mr. Navarro suggested.

CHUCK TODD:

I'm curious. There's a lot of legal questions about the president's authority to do these things. In order to get the courts to look at it, do you think Congress ought to file suit on, for instance, the payroll tax EO or the unemployment EO?

SEN. DICK DURBIN:

Well, this is a moral dilemma. We want unemployed people to receive benefits. We never wanted them cut off at all. So I'm not going to suggest that we run out to court at this point. I think some will. There'll be some challenges. This country club fix suggested by the president is going to be a cut in the unemployment benefits for 30 million Americans. It's either going to be cut from 600 to 400 or from 600 to zero, where it is right now, if the president's executive orders don't stand. You know, the bottom line is this: These people are not lazy people. We have five unemployed Americans for every available job. This urban legend, which I say is an urban lie, about people sitting at home bingeing on Netflix and eating chocolate-covered cherries, listen, I've met with these families. They're desperate to get back to work. 70 percent of the people who have gone back to work have taken a cut to wages below the unemployment benefits, but they want to be back on the job and they understand unemployment is a temporary helping hand. So this notion that they're lazy and if they tried a little harder they'd find jobs just doesn't work.

CHUCK TODD:

I want to put up a comment from a House Democrat who's in a swing district. And listen to what he said yesterday. Representative Tom Malinowski of New Jersey, he's a first-term Democrat. He warned that a lack of an agreement by the two parties would prompt his voters to declare, quote, "A pox on all our houses. Congress is broken. Washington is broken. And that is great for challengers," he added. The question is: Do you feel pressure that you have to cut a deal, even if you don't get -- even if you don’t like what you're getting? I mean, do you worry that the Democrats are taking too hard of a line here and at some point you have to move more than you want to?

SEN. DICK DURBIN:

Chuck, that is the nature of a negotiation. You've got to give a little to get a little. That's how it boils down. And look what happened back on March 26th, or March 16th, when we passed the CARES Act, 96 to nothing, bipartisan. We now have 20 Republican senators who said not a penny, zero, nothing at this point. And we have Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, who is not even attending negotiating sessions. He's stayed out. His chair is empty. Same thing with Kevin McCarthy, the House Republicans’. But what we've said is, "Look at the first priority." And the first priority, of course, is unemployed. But even higher than that is doing something directly about the coronavirus. When I heard Mr. Navarro with his talk about testing, I'm thinking, "Are you in touch with the real world?" The president's been saying for weeks and maybe months, "Oh, if you want a test, you can get it." Well, for the longest time, that wasn't even possible. And then this notion that you're going to have the same instant results of testing that he does with his White House visitors or Major League Baseball does overnight, that isn't the real world out here. The people are waiting in line for testing, and they're waiting for results from 5-12 days, which makes them almost pointless. That is a priority for us. Testing to deal with coronavirus is key to opening the environment, pardon, opening the economy and opening our schools.

CHUCK TODD:

Right. Final question, a little Democratic politics here. I want to put up this tweet from David Axelrod. You know him. Longtime chief strategist for President Obama, an Illinois guy these days. And he says this: "I can't remember any VP selection process where so much oppo research has been dumped. If I were Joe Biden, looking for a good and loyal partner, that should be a source of concern." David Axelrod didn't imply who was behind this, but there has been a lot of negative stuff dropped on a couple of candidates, Susan Bass -- Susan Rice and Karen Bass in particular. Are you concerned about how all this looks?

SEN. DICK DURBIN:

I'm concerned but I'm not surprised, Chuck. This is the political world we live in. It never was beanbag. It's always been a tough game but it's gotten much worse over the last several years. The level of preposterous claims, the charges that have been thrown, I mean, they've just gone out of sight. You know, "Lock her up. Lock her up." For goodness sakes. That goes way beyond anything any of us had seen in presidential campaigns. And that is the nature of this business. And those who stick with it, you know, my colleague Tammy Duckworth, for goodness sake, she's all but an American hero for what she's given to this country. And there have been those on right-wing television shows that have criticized her as not being worthy of consideration for this office. You know, that to me shows the extremes that they'll reach.

CHUCK TODD:

Dick Durbin, I'm going to have to leave it there. Number two in the U.S. Senate, Democrat from Illinois, the senior senator from Illinois. Thanks for coming on and sharing your perspective, sir. I appreciate it.

SEN. DICK DURBIN:

Thanks, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

You got it. And when we come back, progress on a vaccine. But even if we do have one by year's end, how effective will it be? That's next.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. As we mentioned earlier, we hit five million U.S. cases yesterday. For some perspective, the first COVID-19 case in the United States is believed to have occurred on February 6th. We hit one million cases on April 28th, 82 days later. It then took just 43 days to hit the two million mark on June 10th. We hit the three million mark on July 7th. That was 27 days later. Then just 16 days later, we reached four million U.S. cases on July 23rd. And, again, it took us just 16 days to hit this five million reported case number right here in the United States. Joining me is now Dr. Tom Inglesby. He's the Director of the Center for Health Security of the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Dr. Inglesby, welcome back to Meet the Press. I want to get a little big picture here. You know, last week you put out a lengthy list of 10 recommendations. You guys didn't call it a reset, but sort of like how do we get control of this virus now. Another one of your sort of colleagues in the larger sense, Michael Osterholm has an op-ed. He's basically calling for a reset of some sort. New York Times today editorial page calling for this. It feels though as public health officials are all calling for some sort of reset, partial lockdowns, things like this and yet we are not having that conversation at all on the political side of things. Are we doomed to sort of live with this virus now if we're not going to at all look at your recommendations?

DR. TOM INGLESBY:

I don't think we're doomed to this fate. I think we know what to do. Other countries have done it. I think the purpose of these resetting reports and these calls for a kind of reestablishment of the basics is that we know that in other countries universal masking, physical distancing, avoiding large gatherings, those kinds of things have worked. If we look at countries like Italy and Spain and France, they have a total of about seven or eight deaths a day. And we have a thousand. But it's not magic what they did. We know what they did. So I think if we act together in national unison, we can get there. And that's what the purpose of these, I think many of these reports are.

CHUCK TODD:

I want to bring up the issue of masks. There have been some people that said if we had 95 percent compliance on mask wearing we could get rid of -- we could sort of get this virus under control. Is that unrealistic? Do we need to do more than just mandating masks?

DR. TOM INGLESBY:

We do. I think masks are not alone -- not by themselves or alone the solution, but they are a critical part of it. We know that physical distancing makes a big difference. We know that large gatherings are places where superspreading events occur and people have the opportunity or the virus has the opportunity to get around quickly and really infect many people at once. So we have to do a number of things together in terms of, you know, simple things like diagnostic testing results coming back much more quickly. It's unacceptable for the country to have to have testing come back a week or even two weeks later. It's not useful at that point. There's no point in even doing the test. So we have a number of things that we have to do, but they're not complicated. They may be hard, but we have to do them kind of in unison.

CHUCK TODD:

I know all of those, they're not hard. Except when the word "politics" gets involved, it makes everything seem a little bit harder. And I want to keep you out of the political space here. Let me ask you a question about vaccines and to sort of set expectations. Dr. Fauci implied that the first vaccine that we get, he hopes that it is 75 percent effective. The FDA has said they will approve any vaccine that's at least 50 percent effective. Can you explain to the public what that means, what it means and what it doesn't mean, and what our expectations should be for the first vaccine?

DR. TOM INGLESBY:

Well, we know that many of the vaccines that we use are not perfect. They don't prevent every case of disease. But if they prevent a substantial portion of disease, then that can help us get to a point where most of us are protected, the disease can't spread quickly between people anymore, a concept that is called herd immunity. Herd immunity doesn't mean we won't have the disease anymore. It means it's not going to as efficiently spread in an epidemic form.

CHUCK TODD:

And is there a percentage figure in your mind that you think will sort of give us a huge step in the right direction? Is it a vaccine that is at 75 percent? Or does 50 percent, do you fear that could be a false sense of hope?

DR. TOM INGLESBY:

Well, I think we would take 50 percent because 50 percent is a lot better than what we have now. We have no vaccine tools of medicine tools that we can use to slow this down. So 50 percent would be far better than what we have now. Of course, I think we all want something that is 75, 85, 90 percent effective, but we'll have to see what we get. And I think for the amount of time that has passed since the beginning of this pandemic, to have a vaccine that's even 50 percent effective in the coming months or beginning of 2021 would be phenomenal. But, again, we hope it's better. But 50 percent would be better than what we have now.

CHUCK TODD:

Tom Inglesby from Johns Hopkins, one of our experts that we have on here regularly. Really appreciate you coming on and sharing your expertise with us, sir.

DR. TOM INGLESBY:

Thanks for having me, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

You've got it. And when we come back, some politics. The changing electoral map, where the presidential race stands right now. Panel is next.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. The panel is with us from their remote locations: MSNBC anchor Joshua Johnson; NBC News Capitol Hill correspondent Kasie Hunt; and Rich Lowry, editor of National Review. And to sort of set the table here, I want to showcase our NBC News political unit's first battleground map of 2020. Full disclosure: I am a member of said political unit. So I have contributed to this myself. We're going to start with the 20 states Hillary Clinton won in 2016, all of which remain in Biden's column right now. Maine's 2nd Congressional District, which Trump carried in 2016, we are currently classifying as a toss-up. That's why you see some stripes there. Also trending Biden's way right now are six Trump 2016 states that we've been considering the key six battlegrounds for 2020: Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania in the North, Arizona, North Carolina, and Florida in the South. Right now, none are toss-ups. All have Biden with a consistent lead. And right now, before we get to our toss-up states, Biden would already have 334 electoral votes if just the states that he's leading in went his way, far more than the 270 he needs, on par with the Barack Obama electoral numbers of 2008 and 2012. President Trump leads in 20 states, good for 125 electoral votes. Nebraska's 2nd Congressional District we have as lean Biden right now. So it leaves four states, Georgia, Ohio, Iowa, and Texas, plus that Maine district, all of which President Trump won last time, as the remaining toss-ups, worth 79 electoral votes. But if those are the toss-up states, you know where the map is. So, Rich Lowry, I start with this backdrop because I ask this simple question: Why has the president not taken the Democrats' deal at this point? Because it seems it probably would help his reelection prospects.

RICH LOWRY:

Yeah. Well, Chuck, there's some dispute about how real the reduced spending is in the latest Democratic offer. But the White House definitely has been reluctant to get much above a trillion dollars and I think it's with an eye to renewed Republican concern about the deficit. And I very much get concerned about the deficit. But the real sin here isn't deficit spending in the midst of major economic dislocation. It was all the deficit spending that took place when the economy was good.

CHUCK TODD:

Joshua Johnson, I had one Democratic aide -- that's been what's made these negotiations so odd, is that the normal rules of politics they thought would apply to the other side, which is the political pressure of the moment, has not impacted them yet.

JOSHUA JOHNSON:

Yeah, it's kind of interesting the way that the political pressure has shifted over the course of this pandemic. I mean, Mitch McConnell was interviewed by Politico this week and said, "It's a lot harder now than it was four months ago. We're that much closer to the election." I do think Dr. Navarro made an interesting point in saying that you don't negotiate in public. That may be part of why this is so hard. I think it's also telling that both sides can't seem to come to an agreement, perhaps because of the publicity around these negotiations. It might be better on both sides if they just sent delegates and if all the major players stayed home and stayed away from cameras for a while. But, yeah, I mean, as we get closer to the election, unfortunately it seems like less and less is getting agreed to because every sound bite after every negotiation becomes something that could end up in an opponent's campaign ad.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, Kasie, I look at this situation and I think, "Well, they have to come to an agreement. There's just no choice. The economic fallout is too great not to." And yet, do you see them landing this plane this week?

KASIE HUNT:

I think the blame game has made that potentially very difficult at this point, Chuck. And Republicans are essentially making a bet that Democrats are not going to go out there and try to knock down the president's unemployment insurance executive order because they simply can't be seen doing that. And I think there are real questions about Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, and his role in these negotiations because Steve Mnuchin seems relatively willing to cut this deal with Democrats. And there does seem to be this overarching bet on the part of Democrats that the people that are going to pay the ultimate political price for not doing a deal are going to be Republicans in the Senate and the White House. Now, whether that's the best course of action for the country I think is up to our viewers to decide.

CHUCK TODD:

Hey Rich, is the real problem here for the White House the fact that any deal that Congress cuts is going to be majority Democrats having to vote for it both in the House and the Senate?

RICH LOWRY:

Yep. Yeah, that's another constraint. But it's definitely in his political interest to do this, to get a deal. These executive orders are -- they're nebulous, they're confused, they're a poor substitute for lawmaking. And I should note, even if they're technically legal, this is not how our system is supposed to work, where Congress affirmatively declines to do something and the president rummages around for authorities to try to do it on his own. This is part of a long-running trend of an over-weaning executive trampling on a feckless Congress.

CHUCK TODD:

Are you in the Ben Sasse camp, Rich? What did he call it, "constitutional slop"?

RICH LOWRY:

Yeah, it's against the spirit of our system. It's what many of us invade against in Obama's second term, pen-and-phone governance. And it's just an extension of that.

CHUCK TODD:

I want to pivot to veepstakes, since we're going to stick with politics here. Joshua, the David Axelrod tweet that I asked Senator Durbin about, it is an insider conversation. But this idea that: Are some candidates running too aggressive of a campaign for this number two slot?

JOSHUA JOHNSON:

Well, that's the thing, is I'm not sure how to read the campaign. Like, you know, if you were asking me who was going to win, you know, the NBA Championship, I know the rules of the game and I know how the players have done. No one knows the rules of this game. None of us knows exactly what the campaign strategy is, who the players are, or what the leaderboard is. So there's kind of no way for us to know, which makes this whole political season even more opaque. Forgive me, Chuck, by the way, but I did want to mention before we get too far out, Dr. Navarro did say something to you that was a bit deceptive in his assessment of the way that the payroll tax is being viewed, which also makes these negotiations harder. He said Nancy Pelosi supported it in 2011. That was a payroll tax cut of two percentage points, not a complete payroll tax cut. So that was deceptive in what he said.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, and not only that. There was also a plan to restore Social Security. You get to the challenge of trying to fit an hour's worth of television in.

JOSHUA JOHNSON:

Right.

CHUCK TODD:

There were a lot of things that I had to unpack on that one. Kasie Hunt, we're going to hear from the vice president at some point about his running mate, maybe tomorrow. It does feel as if we're still sitting in it's Kamala Harris versus the field. And it is this -- there’s sort of -- Biden world seems divided. Some think it's the perfect pick, and some think, "Can you trust her to be your loyal number two?"

KASIE HUNT:

Well, and David Axelrod didn't name names, but the underlying suggestion has been that it's Kamala Harris's camp that is playing political hardball behind the scenes here and trying to make sure that her way to this pick is relatively clear. I'm not saying that we have reporting on that, but the suggestion from people in public is very strong. And I think, you know, that's rubbed a lot of women the wrong way. Women operatives I talk to have looked at this process and feel that, you know, we're experiencing a little bit more of what Hillary Clinton went through, that this process is this way partly because it's women fighting it out and people are less comfortable with women in that role. But I think at the end of the day this is going to come down to the relationship between the vice president and the person that he ultimately picks. So only he knows the answer to that question.

CHUCK TODD:

And the fact of the matter is we know he's probably met with more of these folks face to face than we've been able to track during this pandemic. All right, guys. Well done. Thank you very much. When we come back, do you want to know what states the Trump and Biden campaigns really think they can win? There's an easier way to find out than trying to guess. We'll show you next.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back, Data Download time. If you want to know what a campaign really thinks about its chances, don't listen to what it says; follow the money. And since June, there's been some interesting movement showing us which states each campaign is bullish about and which ones are neck and neck. First, the big three blue wall states that went for Trump in 2016, both campaigns were fully engaged in all three until mid-June. But in recent weeks, we've seen some changes. Let's take a look at the state of Michigan. In the week of June 2nd, the Trump and Biden forces were spending at roughly the same level there, $474,000 for Team Trump, $498,000 for Team Biden. But in late June, Biden built a substantial polling lead. And by July 21st, the financial numbers were roughly $16,000 for Trump in Michigan and about $1.6 million for Biden in this state. Then there are the states Donald Trump won in 2016 where the Biden campaign and pro-Biden outside groups are on offense: Arizona, North Carolina, and Florida. We're going to focus on Arizona. In the week of June 2nd, Trump's spending was at $161,000, versus nothing for Biden. By the week of July 21st, Trump and company were spending $1.1 million to Biden and his group's almost $1.3 million. Then there are the states Hillary Clinton won where Team Trump once saw an opportunity: Nevada, New Mexico, and Minnesota. The Trump campaign is spending very little now in New Mexico and Minnesota, but let's look at Nevada. Pro-Trump spending has gone from zero the week the of June 2nd to more than $400,000 and stayed there through July 21st. And while Biden seemed to think it was safe enough not to spend early on, more recent ad buys suggest that they are now paying attention to Nevada. Election Day is still almost three months away. The heavy campaign ad spending has yet to hit. Battlegrounds can continue to shift. But so far, the advertising map continues to expand for Joe Biden, while President Trump's team is mostly having to play defense. When we come back, coronavirus and the classroom. When will it be safe enough to send children back to school?

[BEGIN TAPE]

LUANNE WAGNER:

This upcoming school year is overwhelming.

SHAKOOR WOODSON:

How are we going to build engagement with our students and make it feel like we were still in the building.

ABIGAIL WORKMAN:

My biggest concern about going back is being able to keep them safe.

ERIN CEBALLOS:

As excited as I am to see all my students, I'm also very anxious about all the unknowns that the upcoming school year will bring.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. All this week, NBC News and MSNBC are airing a special series “Coronavirus and the Classroom” and education in America during the COVID-19 pandemic. The big question, of course: whether schools can be opened and opened safely, and how do you open them? This morning, we've brought together three people intimately involved in trying to get students educated this year, while also trying to keep teachers, students and their parents safe all at the same time. Jacqueline Dungey is the principal of the New Paradigm Loving Academy in Detroit, which is hoping to create a combination of in-person and virtual learning. Theo Carrillo-Small is a third grade teacher at the William K. Moore Elementary School in Las Vegas. They plan to start online only. And Kristine McClary is a nurse at the East Sanford School in Auburn, Alabama, where parents get to choose between in-person and remote learning. Welcome all. A principal, a teacher, and a school nurse. We thought, “These are the folks on the front -- you guys are on the front lines of all of this in many ways.” And Jacqueline, I want to start with you as a principal. I have a brother-in-law who's a principal and he's feeling it from all sides. The pressure not to open, the pressure to immediately open. Everybody wants immediate answers. I can only imagine the pressure you're feeling right now. Just tell us a little bit about it.

JACQUELINE DUNGEY:

Well, of course we all want to ensure a safe return to school for students, our families, and even our staff. And with that being said, there are so many things that have to come into play to ensure we're able to do that. We’ve surveyed our families. We wanted to make sure that they felt comfortable with even coming back to school. We put together a task force to study, you know, make some decisions about what are we going to do in the future upcoming because we knew this was going to be a long experience.

CHUCK TODD:

Theo, in Las Vegas, your school, you're going to be starting online-only at first. What's the biggest hurdle you're concerned about clearing as you prepare for this online-only environment in a couple weeks?

THEO CARRILLO-SMALL:

I think the biggest thing, Chuck, is that it's new for everyone, right? So it's new for me as a veteran teacher, it's new for the parents and families and it's going to be new for the students. And so I think the biggest hurdle for us is, “How do I engage students in an online platform? And how do I make sure that they're showing up every day, that I'm building relationships with them?” so I think that's going to be the biggest thing, and I think that's the toughest thing that educators are facing right now is just that engagement and getting those kids to show up and understand what school looks like this year.

CHUCK TODD:

Kristine, let’s go -- this is -- believe it or not, and I don't know how many people watching know this, but most schools do not have a full-time school nurse. According to a survey we were able to find, about 35 percent are full-time, another 30 percent of schools have a part-time school nurse and about a quarter don't have any --

KRISTINE McCLARY:

Right.

CHUCK TODD:

-- any nurse at all. So first I want to talk about, what role do you believe you should be playing when it comes to opening these schools? Do you feel like -- that you and your fellow school nurses, you should be doing the testing or supervising a testing strategy?

KRISTINE McCLARY:

Having a safe school throughout our state and throughout the country is paramount for all school nurses. So I think first of all, I would say we need to have a full-time nurse in every school every day. That would really help with the children and their safety and their health. As far as testing, the Alabama Association of School Nurses did come up with a plan that was four-pronged that addressed potential testing in the schools with parental consent in order to get results back more quickly, so we would know if children were actually sick or not. We also -- we're looking into doing some thermal scanning with AI technology to try to determine if a child was symptomatic quickly before the child got into the school and potentially exposed either their teachers or other students.

CHUCK TODD:

What about the technological divide? Who closes that gap? Are you expected to do it for these parents? Are you expected to find the technology for their kids? Or is somebody going to come in here and get these resources?

JACQUELINE DUNGEY:

Well, I'll tell you that as a school district, you know, we’ve really worked hard to -- we were able to get during the spring 99 percent of our families engaged in online platforms. We were able to provide technology for any of our students that were in need. And we were able to provide support with the internet as needed and necessary. So we have been able to get support as well as shift some of our funding to bridge that digital divide, because that is a huge concern. That led to me, as a person, but as our leadership team, other principals, doing home visits, to ensure that students had the technology that they need as well as ensuring that they knew how to use that technology and that that wasn't a barrier. Because we know that with our students that are in those distressed and lower socioeconomic groups, that we have to make sure that we're bridging that gap.

THEO CARRILLO-SMALL:

I think the biggest thing that we have to remember is that the school system is meant to actually uphold the community. And I think -- so in the springtime, we made sure that our students had the technology. But if I have a family that has two or three children at their home, I need each of them to have a device. The first thing that I have to do as a teacher is figure out what that family needs. And find out and survey them and do they have WiFi? Can they get on? Does their device work? And so all of those things are the first things that we have to do to engage those families at the very beginning. And the other thing, because we have Kristine on too, teachers can't do this without the other support and the educators who are out there helping us. If I have a family that, that student isn't coming on and I can't figure out and I can't get them on, then my school psychologist, my school counselor, social worker, school nurse, those folks are essential to make sure that all of those needs are taken care of.

CHUCK TODD:

How much would it cost to make sure there's a school nurse in every school this year? Do you guys have an estimate on something like that? Because that's obviously -- we said, one in four schools have nothing. I assume this is something that would have to come from the federal government?

KRISTINE McCLARY:

Well, currently, Chuck, it doesn't. At least in my state, it is funded by the state. When we applied for CARES Act funding, the Alabama Association of School Nurses and our plan, we applied for CARES Act funding for our plan. And so that would have funded for a school nurse in every school in the state of Alabama for one year. You know, I think the approach to reopening schools has somewhat been backward. We've approached it from an educational standpoint and not a health standpoint. I think if we had started looking at it from a health standpoint, how do we reopen safely, how do we get isolation rooms and so forth, instead of what can we do to keep kids safe at home, I think we'd have a lot more school systems opening up.

CHUCK TODD:

The rest of our discussion at MeetThePress.com. That's all for today. Thank you for watching. We'll see you next week, because if it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press.