Meet the Press - July 19, 2020

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CHUCK TODD:

This Sunday, a special edition: The Covid Crisis.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI:

It is truly historic. We haven’t even begun to see the end of it yet.

CHUCK TODD:

Cases soaring.

DR. AILEEN MARTY:

Our hospitals are overwhelmed. We have seven hospitals that are at maximum capacity right now in Miami-Dade alone.

DR. DAVID THRASHER:

It’s tough. I’m just pretty emotional about this.

CHUCK TODD:

Testing slow.

DR. ASHISH JHA:

Delays in testing and inadequate testing are making people sicker, are making the outbreaks bigger and are leading to more deaths.

CHUCK TODD:

More states and businesses now demanding people wear masks.

DR. ROBERT REDFIELD:

If we could get everybody to wear a mask right now I really do think over the next four, six, eight weeks we could bring this epidemic under control.

CHUCK TODD:

But many still refusing.

BEACHGOER:

This doesn’t make any sense. Why are we wearing masks to be outside?

DAN GELBER:

The amount of people who don’t think they need to do something is enormous.

CHUCK TODD:

President Trump continuing to deny the reality on the ground, as states like Georgia set new-case records --

PRES. TRUMP:

Georgia has been a great example of a state that’s done it all right.

CHUCK TODD:

-- and demanding schools reopen in person despite the risk.

PRES. TRUMP:

We have to open schools. We have to get them open.

KAYLEIGH MCENANY:

When he says open he means open and full. The science should not stand in the way of this.

CHUCK TODD:

Why does the U.S. trail the industrialized world in controlling the virus? Are things about to get worse? And what can we do now to emerge from this crisis?

CHUCK TODD:

Plus, the passing of an American hero.

REP. JOHN LEWIS:

You see something that is not right, fair or just, you’ve got to do something,

CHUCK TODD:

Remembering John Lewis, civil rights leader, Congressman, and the conscience of a nation. Welcome to Sunday and a special edition of Meet the Press.

ANNOUNCER:

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

CHUCK TODD:

Good Sunday morning. America today is mourning the passing of the civil rights icon, moral leader and Congressman, John Lewis. Lewis died Friday night at the age of 80, after a battle with pancreatic cancer. Among the countless tributes for Lewis came this one from his House colleague, James Clyburn.

[BEGIN TAPE]

REP. JIM CLYBURN:

The country lost a hero last night. The movement lost an icon. And I lost a personal friend.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

We will have much more on the life of John Lewis, including an interview with Congressman Clyburn, later in the broadcast. But we are going to begin with our failure to confront this coronavirus pandemic. It was just a month ago, amid concerns about rising case numbers that Vice President Pence wrote an op-ed saying: "Such panic is overblown. We are winning the fight against an invisible enemy." No, we're not. We averaged the WHO's case numbers from Monday to Friday of the past week. France averaged 455 new cases. Germany averaged 408 new cases. Italy, 182. And the U.S.? NBC News recorded an average of 69,060 new cases per day, with the country topping 70,000 new cases two of the past three days. Now does that sound as if we're winning the fight? How did this happen? We are the richest country in human history with an unmatched medical infrastructure and a literate, educated populace, yet today we stand uniquely helpless among industrialized countries in the fight against COVID-19. A world that once looked up to us to do the impossible now averts its eyes over our failure to do the possible. In this special edition of "Meet the Press" I'm going to talk Dr. Francis Collins, he’s the head of the National Institutes of Health, in his first broadcast interview, two medical experts, two governors, and an educator, to trace how we got to where we are and where we go from here. And we begin with the alarming reality that the United States finds itself on the wrong side of this death struggle.

GOV. BRIAN KEMP:

You know, the government is not going to be the answer to all people's problems.

CHUCK TODD:

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, suing to block Atlanta's mask requirement.

MAYOR KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS:

It is really a distraction from what the real enemy is here. And that enemy is this virus that's killing people in our city.

CHUCK TODD:

Georgia is just one of 18 states in the so-called "red zone" identified by the White House coronavirus task force in a report sent to the states but not made public. The report recommends Georgia "mandate statewide wearing of cloth face coverings outside the home." Around the country, new cases are surging. Up to more than 75,000 on Friday with 41 states seeing an increase over the last two weeks. Now, in some of the worst-hit states, death records are also being set daily.

DR. ANDREW WILHELM:

When you're on a hamster wheel and a lot of people die, it’s, it's tiring.

CHUCK TODD:

28 states and the District of Columbia now require masks outside the home.

GOV. KAY IVEY:

Folks, the numbers just do not lie. I am announcing a statewide mandatory mask wearing.

CHUCK TODD:

But some governors are still resisting.

GOV. KEVIN STITT

I got tested yesterday for COVID-19 and the results came back positive.

REPORTER:

In light of your diagnosis, are you considering or are you thinking about a mask mandate now?

GOV. KEVIN STITT:

Not thinking about a mask mandate at all.

CHUCK TODD:

The top nine U.S. brick-and-mortar retailers now require masks in their stores. But on Friday, Mr. Trump made it clear that he will not call for a national mask requirement.

PRES. TRUMP:

I want people to have a certain freedom, and I don't believe in that, no. And, I don't agree with the statement that if everybody would wear a mask, everything disappears.

CHUCK TODD:

Just 37% of voters approve of how President Trump has handled this virus, down 8 points since March. In an interview with a Georgia TV station on Wednesday, President Trump continued to paint an alternative reality.

PRES. TRUMP:

We want the schools open. Georgia's been a great example of a state that's done it all right. It’s a special place, great people and they’ve done really well, really well with the virus.

KAYLEIGH MCENANY:

When he says open, he means open in full, kids being able to attend each and every day at their school. The science should not stand in the way of this.

CHUCK TODD:

The divide between Trump loyalists and public health experts escalated this week into a character assault on Dr. Fauci by two of Mr. Trump's closest aides. Trade adviser Peter Navarro published an op ed calling Fauci "wrong about everything." Deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino shared this cartoon on social media by an artist whose work has been criticized for its anti-Semitic imagery.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI:

What happened with Peter Navarro and that editorial, I can't even comment on that. That just is beyond my comprehension why he did that but I do not believe that the White House is trying to discredit me.

CHUCK TODD:

Though Mr. Trump insists he has a good relationship with Fauci on Friday he again singled him out for criticism.

DONALD TRUMP:

Dr. Fauci said 'don't wear a mask'; our surgeon general, terrific guy, said don't wear a mask. Everybody was saying don't wear a mask, all of a sudden, everybody's got to wear a mask.

CHUCK TODD:

And joining me now for his first broadcast interview during this pandemic is Dr. Francis Collins. He's the director of the National Institutes of Health. And it is worth noting, he is technically Anthony Fauci's boss. Dr. Collins, welcome to Meet the Press. And let me just ask the basic first question that I've asked a number of people that are in this coronavirus task force over the last couple of weeks. Why are we doing so poorly compared to the rest of the industrialized world in combating this virus?

DR. FRANCIS COLLINS:

Well, good morning, Chuck. And, yeah, I am wearing a mask and I have worn it since I left my home to come here to our little studio at NIH. But since we're talking and the person -- the only other person in the room is at least ten feet away, I'm going to take it off for this interview.

CHUCK TODD:

Excellent.

DR. FRANCIS COLLINS:

But I didn’t want anybody to think that we take masks as something optional for people who want to protect themselves and people around them. Why are we doing so poorly? Well, it's certainly the case that when you compare our experience with Europe, which your numbers just did, we basically did a good job in New York and New Jersey and Connecticut with that terrible crisis that happened and took many lives, which we should never sort of pass by without saying what a terrible tragedy that has been. And basically, steps were put in place. And if you look to see what's happening now in those areas, they came down very close to zero. But meanwhile, the rest of the country, perhaps imagining this was just a New York problem, kind of went about their business, didn't really pay that much attention to CDC's recommendations about the phases necessary to open up safely, and jumped over some of those hoops. And people started congregating, and not wearing masks, and feeling like it's over, and, "Maybe summer, it'll all go away." And now here we are, not only with 70,000 new cases almost every day, but from my perspective also, quite concerning the number of hospitalizations, which is very close to being as high in the country as it was in, back in April. So, yeah, we've got to really double down here. And I hope today, Chuck, we can talk about things that bring us together, not things that divide us. We Americans are pretty good at rising to a crisis. We got one now.

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

DR. FRANCIS COLLINS:

Let's see what we can do together.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, that's the question. Can this be done without federal leadership?

DR. FRANCIS COLLINS:

I think basically, we Americans are individuals. And if given the appropriate information and if it's not sort of confused by a lot of other conspiracy theories, we're capable of figuring out what to do. If we want to see this current surge, and it's a real surge, to turn around, as you just heard from the head of the CDC, all Americans need to recognize it's up to us. Wear a mask when you're out of your house. That is protecting other people from you, because you might be that person who's infected and doesn't know it yet, and is spreading virus around. Do that social distancing thing. Don't congregate in large groups, especially not indoors. And do the hand washing. We can turn this around. And we don't have to wait for some sort of serious high-level edict to say so. This just makes common sense. At this point, it just ought to be something we all do.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. You just referenced the CDC director. I don't mean to sort of nitpick on this, but the president directly contradicted it and even said, "I don't even think he's right about that," that if everybody wore a mask. How do you at all get us rowing in the same direction if you have that high level of a contradiction?

DR. FRANCIS COLLINS:

Well, it is bizarre that we have turned mask wearing into something political. Imagine you were an alien coming to the planet Earth and looking around, looking at the scientific data, going from various place to place and looking to see who's wearing masks. You would be totally astounded, puzzled, amazed. You'd wonder, "What is going on here? How could it be that something as basic as a public health action that we have very strong evidence can help seems to attach to people's political party?" For starters, could we just walk away from that and say, "This is about all of us"? We're Americans. We're pretty good at rising to a challenge, a crisis. We've done so before in wartime. This is not a war, but in a certain way, it is, against the enemy which is called the virus. And that virus is very sneaky and stealthy. And our best chance is for all of us to get together, and do the right thing, and stop fighting so much about the divide between different political perspectives, which is just getting in the way.

CHUCK TODD:

Right. Let me ask you this: Should Americans be concerned that the advice that does come out of the task force is somehow getting watered down by political pressure?

DR. FRANCIS COLLINS:

Well, I'm part of the task force. I join those meetings. The vice president presides over them. There's a very thoughtful exchange of information. Dr. Birx presides, presents the latest data in terms of what's happening across the country. We debate many things. There's a lot of work that goes on there about how best we can distribute resources that are needed. Right now, trying to figure out, for instance, how remdesivir, this drug that we know that can help people who are really sick in the hospital, gets to the people who need it. That is not getting distorted in any way. That basically is going forward in actions that are decided during that task force meeting. It's no longer, of course, coming to the press room for a big press briefing, but the work of the task force goes on.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, let's talk about the issue of testing. There's a report this morning that the White House is actually pushing back on a congressional proposal that would add more money to your budget, by the way, more money to states for testing and contact tracing. Are you guys on the task force recommending less money to states for testing and contact tracing?

DR. FRANCIS COLLINS:

The task force, as far as I know, has not been engaged in that particular debate about funding in this next congressional supplement that's under serious consideration in the Congress. And there's always this back-and-forth between White House and Congress when it comes to appropriations process. And apparently the opening bid from the White House was a bit surprising, certainly for many of us who were certainly hoping to see more in the way of support. But this is one of those things that will play out over the course of the coming days. Let's see where it ends up.

CHUCK TODD:

What can the federal government do right now to improve the testing lag issue, okay? We’re getting, we’re still -- look, you could make an argument we need to do more testing. A lot of people are making that argument. But the real problem, and I can tell you -- my, I've had own family members have to wait five to seven days to get, to get a, to get the result. That becomes useless at some point if you're asymptomatic. What do we do to fix that?

DR. FRANCIS COLLINS:

So, good. We're getting to the science here, Chuck. I like this part. So the average test delay is too long. You're absolutely right. Average is around the country, it's about three days. But in some places, it's as long as a week. And that really undercuts the value of the testing. Because you do the testing to find out who's carrying the virus and then quickly get them isolated so they don't spread it around. And it's very hard to make that work when there's a long delay built in. So what are we doing? The science of this is critical. Actually, NIH is deeply engaged in an effort to try to develop an additional array of tests that can be done in what we call point-of-care. Most of the tests that are being done right now, you have to have the swab. Then you send it off to a central laboratory. There's a time there in order to do the delivery of the sample. Then they have to do the testing. They're kind of backed up. It takes a while to come back. We need to do things that are more on the spot. And actually, there's a number of new technologies that are coming along that look very promising in that space. We need to invest a lot of money, and the government is willing to do so, in scaling those up. Just this week, you might know, we will be sending to about 700 or 800 nursing homes these point-of-care tests, the ones that have just gotten FDA approval, so that in a place where, clearly, it is very high risk, people who walk in for their shifts that day are going to find out if they have the virus. And they find out in less than an hour. It's not like you have to wait.That's the kind of thing we need more of. That's the kind of thing that I personally, along with many others in other parts of the government, are working on night and day to try to do a better job of this. You're right. We have to come up with a better turnaround time.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me ask you a couple questions on the vaccine. First of all, this hacking issue that apparently the Russians were behind, was NIH targeted, and do you guys, did you guys lose any key information?

DR. FRANCIS COLLINS:

It's not entirely clear to me what this was all about. Now, we certainly are deeply engaged in this vaccine effort. The vaccine that's about to have its phase three trials started in just the next ten days or so was initially designed a few hundred yards from where I'm sitting right now at NIH. And certainly, we are always under cyber attacks of various sorts. But I would say most of what we do in science, we publish it. We put it out there. People don't have to go hacking to find it. We're all about transparency. So I'm not exactly sure what serious risk is involved here. Mischief, yes.

CHUCK TODD:

Okay.

DR. FRANCIS COLLINS:

But serious risk, I'm not so sure.

CHUCK TODD:

What's your greater concern on vaccine: the ability to distribute it or fear from the populace that the rush to a vaccine may make it unsafe?

DR. FRANCIS COLLINS:

I think all of those are significant concerns, but let's look at the positive side here, Chuck. This has been an amazing trajectory that we've been on. Only in January was it clear that this was a virus that might spread to the rest of the world. Within a day or two after getting the genome sequence of that virus, our colleagues had started to design a vaccine which just 62 days later, was then being injected into the first phase one trial participants. That data, which was just published three days ago, looks extremely good, that this vaccine was able to generate high levels of neutralizing antibodies in virtually everybody who got it. So we're on a good path here. And we will, by the way, need -- as we go into this phase of recruiting people for clinical trials, need people to sign up. So can I make a little pitch to the people watching this? If you want to be part of this next phase --

CHUCK TODD:

Go for it.

DR. FRANCIS COLLINS:

-- of figuring out how these vaccines work, all you've got to do is go to a website. It's a long URL. CoronavirusPreventionNetwork, all one word, .org. CoronavirusPreventionNetwork.org. About 100,000 people have already indicated their interest by registering for this.

CHUCK TODD:

Okay.

DR. FRANCIS COLLINS:

And you might then get called, especially if you're in one of the sites where we're going to do the recruiting, which is going to be in the place where the virus is spreading, mostly in the South. So come on, y'all. Take part in this. We obviously need, especially --

CHUCK TODD:

There you go.

DR. FRANCIS COLLINS:

-- people who are at higher risk, African Americans, Latinos. Come on, y'all.

CHUCK TODD:

Final question, Dr. Collins. Has anybody at the White House asked you to demote or fire Dr. Fauci? And if they did, would you do it?

DR. FRANCIS COLLINS:

Nobody has asked me to do that, and I find that concept unimaginable. And I am amused that everybody's calling me Dr. Fauci's boss because his real boss is his wife, Christine Grady. She might have something to say about that.

CHUCK TODD:

Dr. Francis Collins, the head of the National Institutes of Health, I appreciate you coming on. I know it's not an easy situation that you're in, but it's important that the public hear from you. So thank you for doing this, sir.

DR. FRANCIS COLLINS:

Thanks a lot, Chuck. Nice to be with you.

CHUCK TODD:

You got it. When we come back, I'm going to talk to two governors, one Democrat and one Republican, and how they're handling the sharp increase in COVID cases in their states. Colorado's Jared Polis and Ohio's Mike DeWine are next.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. As we mentioned earlier, 41 states have seen an increase in cases in recent weeks. Among them are Colorado, where Democratic governor Jared Polis issued a statewide mask mandate this week and Ohio, where the Republican governor Mike DeWine has put roughly 60% of his state's residents under a mask order. Both Jared Polis and Mike DeWine join me now. Governor Polis, I'd like to start with you. Cases have been on the rise in Colorado since the middle of June. Why this week? Why not sooner? What took so long?

GOV. JARED POLIS:

You know, before we had the mask requirement, we had about 60% of our state under municipal or county mask requirements. But what we realized that we needed at the state is just clarity of message. You're in Colorado, you're visiting Colorado, we're a mask-wearing state.

This kind of statement really provides that in terms of requiring mask wearing statewide. The other thing we found Chuck, this is really interesting in our state, in the areas that had mask-wearing requirements, that 60% of our state, it had about 15 to 20% more mask wearing than the areas of our state that hadn't taken that simple step. And we found that those areas with mask wearing had less spread of the virus in our state. So based on those two data points, it was a clear course of action to take it statewide.

CHUCK TODD:

You had been a little hesitant, both I remember on the stay-at-home order and with the mask, both times wondering how enforceable these things are. And you came around to both of them. But let me ask you this, how enforceable is your mandate?

GOV. JARED POLIS:

Well, I think any governor, Democrat or Republican, should be hesitant to do any of these

things. I think people want a governor that is going to hesitate and double check things before they do any of these overarching orders that no governor ever wants to do. There's a number of ways local municipalities have enforced it. One of the things it allows our businesses, our small businesses, our retailers, our grocers to do is if somebody is trying to trespass without a mask and they ask them to leave nicely and they don't, they can call upon local law enforcement with trespassing to try to help remove them from the store so they're not threatening and endangering the employees and the other customers.

CHUCK TODD:

What explanation do you have for the new rise in cases in your state? What do your health officials tell you?

GOV. JARED POLIS:

First of all, I'm proud that Colorado's doing better than some of the hot spot states in the Sun Belt. We need to do better than we're doing because cases are going up. That's clear.

America as a whole is not doing well. People are lapsing in their caution, right? They're lapsing in their need to engage in social distancing. And as you know, Chuck, masks are not a substitute for social distancing. We can't live like we did in January plus masks. That won't work. We also need to not have large get-togethers, parties, groups, and really make that deliberate effort to stay six feet away from others. So I think a lot of people wish, I wish too, you know, you wish too, we all wish that this had been past us, we could go back to normal. I think people are waking up to the fact that we have to be very careful in our everyday lives and take social distancing and mask wearing very seriously to be able to get through this.

CHUCK TODD:

What's the explanation for why Colorado, why does your state, you only, according to the COVID tracking project, you only beat ten other states when it comes to testing. There's a lot of other states that are testing more per capita than you are. What is that about?

GOV. JARED POLIS:

Well, I would say generally the states that have the highest caseload are going to have the highest testing, the highest positives, probably also the highest negatives. We have for several weeks a major free testing site that Denver runs at the Pepsi Center, home of the Broncos. We also have about 48 free community testing sites across the state where anybody, no questions asked, no insurance questions or anything else, can get tested.

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah, but are you getting these tests back fast enough? I mean, it seems as if the inability, you've got to saturate testing, and get them fast enough, and do the contact tracing. Do you have that up and running in Colorado?

GOV. JARED POLIS:

So the national testing scene is a complete disgrace. So every test we send out to private lab partners nationally, Quest, LabCorp, seven days, eight days, nine days, maybe six days if we're lucky, almost useless from a epidemiological or even diagnostic perspective. Fortunately, our state lab has done yeoman's work. We're running three shifts a day there 24 hours a day. So while some are still sent out of state and unfortunately that takes a long time, and we can't count on it, and our country needs to get testing right, we're trying to build that capacity in Colorado to process tests at that one to two-day turn around. And we already are able to do two, three thousand a day that way and even more along with our private lab partners in state like U.C. Health.

CHUCK TODD:

Alright. It's July 19th though. You're still trying to get testing up and running and getting it quicker. You just mentioned the federal problems that you had, the private lab issues. You think you can realistically reopen schools without getting this testing situation under control?

GOV. JARED POLIS:

Well, whether schools reopen in a particular area has more to do with whether there's a hot

spot or outbreak in that area and also with the precautions that those schools are taking. So in Colorado, we have some districts that have delayed the start of school by a couple weeks. Others are beginning with the hybrid model. But many of our districts are going back as planned, as normal, taking the kinds of precautions that health experts and scientists recommend, including keeping cohorts isolated, meaning individual classes don't interact with other classes during recess or passing time. And the state is also sending medical-grade masks to teachers. So every school district will get, for teachers and other faculty that face students, school clerks etc, they're going to be getting medical-quality masks from the state, along with any additional masks or protective equipment that our districts have purchased.

CHUCK TODD:

Governor Polis, Democratic governor of Colorado, joining us from Boulder, Colorado this morning. Governor, thank you. Let me turn now to Governor DeWine. And, Governor, you've got 60% of your state under a, under a mask ordinance. But if somebody drives along the Ohio Turnpike and you pull off, you may not know what county you're in and whether there's a county ordinance. And I ask it this way because, Governor, would it be a lot simpler to have one standard for the state when it comes to masks? I understand having different standards on restaurants and businesses. But on the mask front, why have all of these sort of different mandates depending on the county you're driving in?

GOV. MIKE DEWINE:

Well, first of all, Chuck, we Ohioans have done very well. You know, we flattened the curve very

early. Ohioans did what they needed to do. When we reopened, we were one of the first states to put in place a very sophisticated policy about how you reopen. And that has included a mask requirement for every, every employee. As far as customers now coming in, as you pointed out, we're at 60%. Frankly, we've seen that go up as our counties have turned red. We're going the wrong way. We're at a crucial time. And so this week, you may see a lot more counties under, under that mask requirement. So we certainly would not rule out going, going statewide. We're certainly looking, looking at that. But, there’s a, you know, there's a lot of things going on. And one of the things that we've tried to do, we're running TV ads. We're going to start a new ad this, this coming week. We're going to preview it on Tuesday. Really, the message is: You wear the mask for other people. You wear the mask to protect your grandmother. You wear the mask to -- and so it's not just the orders. The orders are obviously important. But getting people to buy in and to understand, getting a 20-year-old to understand that he or she may, you know, feel invulnerable, nothing's going to happen to them. But they may get it, they may not know they have it. They may go home and see their grandmother. She may get it, she may end up dying. That's the message that, you know, we're trying to get out across the state of Ohio.

CHUCK TODD:

Isn't, though, your message diluted if you don't mandate it? I mean, look, let me ask it this way. It looks like because you're getting a lot of criticism from the right on these mandates, on the idea of a mandate. And I know there are protests about mask-wearing in front of, in front of your offices and residences. I think it was one planned for today in Columbus. Are you letting that pressure sort of keep you from issuing this statewide order? I mean, if you know you're about to put more counties in a red alert in a couple of days, why wait?

GOV. MIKE DEWINE:

Chuck, I don't think anybody in Ohio who's watched what I've done over the last four months

doubts that, you know, I'll do what we need to do to protect Ohioans. I gave a speech Wednesday night which was basically said to the people of Ohio, "Look, we are at a crucial stage. We are at the point where we could become Florida." You know, you look at our numbers today versus where Florida was a month ago, we have very similar numbers. So we're very, very concerned. It's not just about masks though. If we -- I went out and talked to all our, on a phone call this week, talked to all our health departments, and here's what they report back. Here's where it's occurring. It's occurring in bars. It's occurring in churches. It's occurring from people who have traveled out of state. But a lot of it, frankly, is just people in casual settings, 20, 30, 40, 50 people gathering together. And so it's not all about orders. Orders are important. But it's also about getting people to understand, "Hey, this is, this is very, very serious. And now, while we did a great job early on in Ohio, we are now headed in the wrong direction." And frankly, I'm very, very concerned about that. So we're going to move ahead with orders--

CHUCK TODD:

Let me ask you this.

GOV. MIKE DEWINE:

You’re going to -- Chuck, you're going to see more orders from us this week. But I, again, want to emphasize it's not all about orders. You've got to get people to come along with --

CHUCK TODD:

I --

GOV. MIKE DEWINE:

-- you as you do this.

CHUCK TODD:

Right. No, I get that. I get that. Let me ask you a bigger, bigger picture question. Do you have confidence in the president and this coronavirus task force right now, given the fact that we're basically right back to square one?

GOV. MIKE DEWINE:

I think people look, frankly, to the governors. Historically, we've looked to governors to deal with, you know, crises, whether it's tornado damage, whether it's a flood, a pandemic. We look to governors. And so, you know, what this administration has been able to provide us and that Congress has provided us, and we thank both of them, is the money. You know, we're going to continue to need money for testing. As I look at where we go in Ohio, we have doubled the testing in the last five weeks. Frankly, Chuck, we need to double it again. We can only do that with money coming in from the federal government. And it has to be over a long period of time. We're not going to be out of this in a month, or two months, or three months.

CHUCK TODD:

I understand you say that people look to their governors, but you sort of ducked the question here. Do you have confidence in, in the president and his leadership on this virus right now?

GOV. MIKE DEWINE:

I have confidence in this administration. We're on a phone call every week, every governor, Democrats and Republicans, sometimes twice a week with the vice president. The vice president has been doing an absolutely phenomenal job in leading that. And, of course, the president has delegated that to the vice president. Anytime I've asked, "Look, we need something. We need to try to get more reagents. We need to get the FDA moving," every single time I've asked the president or I've asked the vice president, they've come through. So, you know, getting into a discussion and trying to figure out, "Okay, is it the president?" or whatever it is, you know, this is not about politics. This is frankly about getting the job done every single day. And all the governors are out there fighting to get it, to get it done.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, but you’re -- you have to launch an ad campaign to convince people to wear a mask. If the president of the United States said, "Wear a mask," would you need to run that ad campaign?

GOV. MIKE DEWINE:

Well, he wore a mask this past week. So we were very thankful for that and very happy that he wore a mask and said that, you know, people should wear masks. So, look, it's no different than anything else. In this country, we're not used to wearing masks. You know, Fran and I were on a trade mission to Japan a few months ago, and a lot of people wore masks. It's more of the culture. In this country, we don't have the culture to do that. And so what we have to do is so people understand it's not just about them, that when they walk into a store, it's important for them to wear that mask for somebody else. That's why we run the ads. That’s why we -- and they're all, they’re all Ohioans talking to other Ohioans and saying, "Look, we've got to do this together." And Ohioans have done well. But it’s, look, people are getting weary across this country. People are weary about staying home. They want to get out. And I understand that. Our message is: You can get out. You can participate in the economy. But please be careful. Don't do things that are just, don't make any sense. And that's the message that we keep trying to bring across to the people of Ohio.

CHUCK TODD:

Governor DeWine, Republican governor from Ohio. As always, sir, thank you for coming on and expressing --

GOV. MIKE DEWINE:

Thanks, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

-- your perspective with us. Much appreciated. When we come back, in the last week, 15 states set new case records, nine states set one-day death records. How do we emerge from this crisis? Our panel of experts is next.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. Joining me now are three people whom many have turned to for their expertise during this pandemic. Dr. Michael Osterholm, who's becoming a familiar face, he's director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, she's the chief medical executive for Michigan's Department of Health. And Dr. Wayne Frederick, president of Howard University, and a reminder: he is one of the few university presidents who's also an M.D. Welcome to you all. Dr. Osterholm, let me start with you. Is there any way we avoid what some people thought was alarmist a few weeks ago, when Dr. Fauci said he was worried about 100,000 cases a day, is it inevitable at this point that that's where we're headed in a couple of weeks?

DR. MICHAEL OSTERHOLM:

Well, to put in perspective, again, look at where we've been. We've probably infected between 7 or 8 percent of the U.S. population to date. That's it. For all the pain, suffering, death, economic disruption, that's it. As we've talked about on this very show, it won't -- this virus won't slow down, even, let alone stop transmission until we get to 50 or 60 percent. To put that into some kind of perspective, Chuck, if we had 65,000 to 70,000 cases a day for the next 365 days, it would just begin to get us to that level. So we have a lot of human wood to burn in this coronavirus forest fire, and, you know, we may see ups and downs in communities where people do take more concern for a moment, because of the severe problems, but I think it's not only likely we're going to see much more than 100,000, but I don’t think people understand that if we don't change our ways, we are in for the next year of those very kinds of numbers.

CHUCK TODD:

Dr. Khaldun, I know that the scientific and medical advice is, essentially, we've got to do a reset, maybe go back to the shutdown and maybe do it right, a little bit better than we did the last time. Can you imagine the political will in Michigan to do that again?

DR. JONEIGH KHALDUN:

You know, I'm very proud of the people of Michigan, I'm proud of Governor Whitmer, she has from day one listened to the data and listened to the science. But I'm very concerned. I'm very concerned that people are making very simple things like mask-wearing political. I'm concerned that people are gathering in these large groups. Many people across the country heard about a bar where we've seen over 150 cases of COVID-19 associated with people gathering. So I'm very concerned, but I'm also confident that Michiganders can do the right thing, because we did it before. We saw over 150 deaths a day in Michigan back in March and April, we brought that down, so I'm confident we can do that again.

CHUCK TODD:

You see that it's coming back up, do you have a sense of why, Dr. Khaldun? Do you think that it's simply younger folks sort of laxing on the requirements or is there something else going on?

DR. JONEIGH KHALDUN:

So like I said, we saw our cases come down significantly after a surge in March and April. What we're seeing now is, as we've started slowly reopening the economy, we're seeing all kinds of cases of people gathering, churches, bars, people having these house parties. We're seeing some outbreaks associated with migrant farm workers as well. So there's multiple reasons why we're seeing an uptick. What I can say is that the demographic has also changed. Before June, most of the cases we were seeing were in people over the age of 50. And now, the top age group for new cases is in the 22 to 29 age group. So that's something we're concerned about.

CHUCK TODD:

Dr. Frederick, you and I have talked quite a bit since the start of this pandemic. And early on, you were very optimistic about Howard University developing its own tests. And you were going to be able to almost create a bubble on your campus. I know you've made an announcement of sort of a hybrid situation. Are you as confident that you're going to have the testing capabilities that you thought you might have three or four months ago?

DR. WAYNE FREDERICK:

Yeah, I am. Later this week, we hope to sign an MOU with a company whose name I will leave out for now. But they agreed to help us stand up a CLIA lab at Howard University, where we'll be able to do our testing internally. That will allow for us to have a very good turnaround time. However, with respect to a bubble, we have to be realistic that we're bringing students from 46 states and 71 countries. Obviously, there are travel bans in place and U.S. embassies are not necessarily issuing visas. So international students may have some difficulty returning. But bringing people from hotspots is going to be a challenge. So we also are looking at testing, having students tested before they come and self-quarantining prior to their trips as well. And obviously, making tests available on campus. So you're right. I'm still optimistic about it. But I do recognize that there are challenges, especially with what's taking place in the country as a whole.

CHUCK TODD:

Dr. Osterholm, this debate about reopening schools, let's go data driven here. What is the best data to follow on these decision makings, whether you're opening a campus like Dr. Frederick, or an elementary school?

DR. MICHAEL OSTERHOLM:

Well, I can tell you right now that schools across this country do not have the resources to open this fall with the personnel, the protection such that they need. We have surely sent money to the school districts from the federal government, but it's far, far too little. It's inadequate. And it's not arriving in time. And so I think that we're going to have some real challenges. There are legitimate concerns in any community right now where you have a hotspot. How can you even begin to think about physically opening schools? Distance learning surely can be something you can consider. Still, we have concerns about the protection of teachers. We have to understand that that is in itself still a really hot issue. We do know that students transmit more than we once thought that they did. And so we have to address that. At the same time, we know that we have to educate our kids. This is really critical, particularly that younger age group, K-8, distance learning just does not work. So I think we have to, first of all, drive down the decision-making to the local school district level. They're the experts. They know what they can do. Those teachers want to go to work. Those school districts want to have school. And we just have to make sure we get them the resources to do that and know that there isn't going to be a simple answer. Anybody who has the right answer on this topic doesn't have an answer. The wrong answers are driving it down from the national level, saying, "This is what you must do," and not providing the resources that these school districts need. They need it now desperately.

CHUCK TODD:

Dr. Frederick, where are you getting the money for all of this?

DR. WAYNE FREDERICK:

Well, what we've been doing at Howard is we've been supported obviously with the CARES Act funding. We've also really had some very, very tight management of our overall budget over the course of the past three months as well. This will put us in a financial bind because of how many low-income students we bring to Howard. But it's also important that we recognize that Howard, in many ways, represents a safe place for them. And that investment is one that's immeasurable. And so it is a sacrifice that we all have to make. And it will be difficult.

CHUCK TODD:

Doctors Osterholm, Khaldun and Frederick, really appreciate you sharing your expertise with us this morning. When we come back, it's been a busy weekend. Remembering a civil rights icon.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. John Lewis, who died on Friday, was often called the "conscience of the Congress." Representing Atlanta for over 30 years and seen as a moral leader by his fellow Democrats and Republicans. He was the last surviving speaker from the 1963 March on Washington.

[BEGIN TAPE]

REP. JOHN LEWIS:

We do not want our freedom gradually, but we want to be free now.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

Two years later, he led more than 600 peaceful protestors across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, only to be brutally beaten by state troopers in what became known as Bloody Sunday. Lewis suffered a fractured skull.

[BEGIN TAPE]

REP. JOHN LEWIS:

We were kneeling, we were knocked down, they start beating us with night sticks, trampling us with horses, and releasing the tear gas.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

In the years since, Lewis was joined by bipartisan lawmakers in a symbolic march across that bridge to mark the anniversary. Lewis' last public appearance was last month when he visited the Black Lives Matter mural in Washington just outside the White house.

[BEGIN TAPE]

REP. JOHN LEWIS:

I continue to say to young people, that, "You see something that is not right, fair, or just, you've got to do something."

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

Congressman John Lewis was 80 years old. His longtime friend and colleague, Congressman Jim Clyburn, joins me when we come back.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. Congressman James Clyburn and John Lewis knew each other for 60 years and they served together for 27 years in the House of Representatives. Yesterday, I spoke to Congressman Clyburn about his close friend. And I began by talking about Lewis' last public appearance at the Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, D.C.

REP. JAMES CLYBURN:

We talked about how surprised we were at the breakthrough that Black Lives Matter had. It reminded us a little bit of our breakthrough back in the 1960s. And the thing that we talked about was the fear that this movement, as successful as it was being, could very well be jeopardized by sloganeering. John and I were always talking about how the sit-in movement got taken away from us, how we woke up one morning and all the headlines were, "Burn, baby, burn," how people lost sight of our purpose. And we were very concerned that that would happen again, which is the reason I spoke out so forcefully when people were chasing the headline of "defund the police." I did not want to see the success of this movement get taken away with that kind of sloganeering. So John and I talked about that because we always felt that we could have been much more successful back in the '60s if we had not allowed headlines to get in the way of headway.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, it's been interesting to see so many people from both sides of the aisle, but I want to focus here on -- a lot of Republicans have gone out of their way, and I think it's been meaningful and heartfelt. It's there. You know, explain to me -- I mean, John Lewis seemed to -- I guess he could taste bitter. He never was bitter. And he opened -- it seemed like he would open his arms to anybody that asked, no matter how checkered their past might be on race relations.

REP. JAMES CLYBURN:

That's quite true. And John often got in some uncomfortable moments because he was just so kind to everybody. He really, really believed that he should live out the scripture. He was an ordained minister, I’m a preacher kid, but we talked scripture a lot. He internalized so much of the goodness. You know, a lot of people talk about Alexis de Tocqueville's -- there’s a little saying attributed to him, that I don't think he ever really made because I can't find it, that America is great because its people are good. And if the people of America ever cease to be good, America will cease to be great. Well, John, he personified the goodness of this country. And I do believe that that's what the fight is all about now: restoring America's goodness. John believed in that. And I really think that we would honor him, and we should honor him, by creating a new Voting Rights Act to replace the 1965 act that was gutted by the Supreme Court decision in Shelby v. Holder seven years ago. And the Supreme Court gave us a road map, and we've followed that road map. So when I get back, I'm going to ask the leadership of the House to consider reintroducing that bill that passed, it's H.R. 4 I believe, reintroducing that bill. Name it the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of 2020, and let's send it over to the Senate. And then, Mitch McConnell and the president can demonstrate their real respect for the life and legacy of John Lewis by passing that bill in the Senate, and the president signing it, and let's have our election this year in honor of John Robert Lewis.

CHUCK TODD:

That would be quite a 2020 achievement in his name. I want to talk about the different ways people want to honor him. A lot of people, you've probably seen it already on social media, say it's time for the Edmund Pettus Bridge, for that bridge to be -- for that name to change. You know, there's been different debates about that. "Let it be named after a segregationist and a racist. Let people understand that." But now, a lot of people think it is time to name it after John Lewis. Where are you, sir?

REP. JAMES CLYBURN:

I think you ought to take a nice picture of that bridge with Pettus's name on it, put it in a museum somewhere dedicated to the Confederacy, and then rename that bridge and repaint it, redecorate it the John R. Lewis Bridge. I believe that will give the people of Selma something to rally around. I believe that will make a statement for people in this country that we do believe in that pledge, that vision of this country that's in the last phrase of the pledge: "with liberty and justice for all."

CHUCK TODD:

John Lewis' friend and colleague, James Clyburn. That's all for today. Thank you for watching. Please wear a mask and stay safe. And remember, if it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press.