MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski warned that the “societal breakdown” was possible as the coronavirus outbreak gathered strength.
Medical expert Dr. Zeke Emanuel told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that 100 million Americans could be infected with the virus within four weeks if current trends continued, and he said the situation was far worse than the rosy assessment offered by White House coronavirus coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx.
“I think the front lines actually tell you what’s happening at the front lines, and politicians and people in Washington don’t want the country to panic,” Emanuel said. “I mean, I think our Republican administration would have — what you’re seeing is major rationing in the country. Rationing is a word that they have used to beat up Democrats, but the fact is we are seeing rationing in parts of the country, and you have mentioned some of them, primarily in New York — but it’s not going to be exclusively New York.”
“This is not a virus that is just going to stay confined to New York,” he added. “Right now, if you look at the numbers we probably have a million COVID-19 cases in the country, and if this is doubling every three to four days, that means that we’ll have 100 million people who have COVID-19 in about four weeks. That’s a frightening thought.”
Brzezinski agreed those numbers were terrifying.
“It is, and you have societal breakdown issues,” she said. “For example, prison systems around the country are desperately asking for help. There’s no social distancing in prisons, and for example at Rikers [Island], last count I saw at least 40 inmates have it. It’s an outbreak. You have reports from around the country of garbage workers not wanting to pick up garbage because they don’t have protection, and yet the president is talking about a county by county ranking in terms of how bad coronavirus is. How is that possible that that could even work remotely?”
Emanuel said that would work only with widespread testing and social distancing.
“It could only work if we had sufficient testing so we could actually very reliably identify those counties with low levels, and those counties have the ability to test and to contact trace cases,” he said. “Remember, China didn’t lock down the whole country. You had large numbers who could do contact tracing, South Korea has done contact tracing. It can only work if we have the extensive testing in those counties and contact tracing and isolation of anyone who turns out positive.”