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Making Sense Of Emerging Coronavirus Data That May Point To It Being More Widespread And Therefore Less Deadly Than Original Data Suggested; Joe Biden Finally Breaks Silence On Sexual Harassment Allegations And Declared That He Would Not Open His Archives To Allow A Search Of Accuser's Name; Partisan Divide On Masks, Staying Home, Return To Normal; Blue Angels And Thunderbirds Will Fly Over Baltimore, Washington, D.C. And Atlanta In Tribute To First Responders. Aired 9-10a ET
Aired May 02, 2020 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST: We can't work any harder to contain COVID-19, but can we work smarter? I'm Michael Smerconish in Philadelphia. Recent data suggests that the virus is far more widespread than initially believed which means it's far less lethal.
That should impact our public policy response. Don't misunderstand -- the virus has proven deadly. As of this moment, more than 65,000 have died in the United States due to the pandemic, but the fatality rate is determined by dividing the number who died by the total infected. The larger that denominator, the lower the rate.
You might remember Dr. Jeremy Faust, an instructor at Harvard Medical School who was my guest here seven weeks ago. Dr. Faust suggested that the Diamond Princess cruise ship quarantined February 4 in Japan might provide a more accurate snapshot into the fatality rate than the initial projection of 3.4 percent from the World Health Organization.
Thirteen of 712 infected passengers and crew died, a fatality rate of 1.8 percent, one-half of the WHO estimate, but Dr. Faust points out there were four times the number of people over 70 on board the ship. So the age adjusted fatality rate would be around 0.4 percent.
As he wrote a few weeks ago for "Slate," "This all suggests that COVID-19 is a relatively benign disease for most young people and a potentially devastating one for the old and chronically ill, albeit not nearly as risky as reported." That view was echoed by Dr. John Ioannidis from Stanford writing for "Stat News." He said the Diamond Princess cruise ship suggested that the U.S. fatality rate could be as low as 0.025 percent, 2.6.2 (ph) percent, 6.625 percent.
Together with colleagues at Stanford, Dr. Ioannidis then published a study on the prevalence of COVID-19 in Santa Clara County, California. They estimated that between 2.48 percent and 4.16 percent of the county had been infected which suggests a fatality rate of between 0.12 and 0.2 percent. Again, here's the point, much closer to the Diamond Princess than the WHO. The University of Southern California, the L.A. Department of Public Health found similar results when they conducted a preliminary round of antibody testing. They estimate the actual number of COVID-19 cases in L.A. County to be 28 to 55 times higher than the number of confirmed cases. These results, they suggest a higher risk of infection and lower risk of death than previously thought.
I should point out that time has not yet allowed for any peer-reviewed analysis of this information and there have been criticisms of the methodology used to gather some of the data, but then on Monday, Governor Andrew Cuomo said that an expanded number of random antibody tests revealed that more people in the Empire State had the virus than initially believed, including 24.7 percent in New York City. The results are telling a similar story, one that might enable policymakers to work smarter, not harder and what might that look like?
I get to refer now to another recent guest on the program, Dr. David Katz, long affiliated at Yale who was here five weeks ago. Last week, he told Tom Friedman the following in "The New York Times," quote, "More and more data are telling us that COVID-19 is two completely different diseases in different populations. It is severe and potentially lethal to the old, the chronically ill and those with pre- existing conditions. It is, however, rarely life-threatening, often mild and often even asymptomatic among those under 50 or 60 in generally good health."
Dr. Katz believes in what he calls a vertical interdiction, quote, "That means sheltering the vulnerable, while allowing those who can return to the world most safely to do so, thereby restoring the economy, supply chains and services while cultivating the collective protection of herd immunity that leads to the 'all clear.' And that's how we get our lives back without waiting on the long and uncertain timeline of vaccine development."
We can't work any harder. Maybe it's time to work smarter. Joining me now to discuss is the aforementioned Dr. John Ioannidis. He's an epidemiologist who specializes in analyzing data. He's a professor in disease prevention at Stanford University's School of Medicine. Google Scholar ranks him among the world's 100 most cited scientists. Dr. Ioannidis, help me out here. I just tried to synthesize a lot of data. What is the takeaway that people watching should know?
I don't think Dr. Ioannidis is hearing me. Do we not have him? I don't think so. No? How about Dr. Atlas? Tell me, guys. Where are we going? OK. We're going to Dr. Atlas. All right. We'll come back to Dr. Ioannidis. Let me introduce my next guest.
Dr. Scott Atlas has written for "The Hill" an essay titled "The data is in -- stop the panic and end the total isolation." He too has a Stanford affiliation. He's a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institute, former chief of neuroradiology at the university's medical center. Why has your essay struck such a chord? There are 15,000 comments appended to it. SCOTT ATLAS, SENIOR FELLOW, STANFORD UNIVERSITY'S HOOVER INSTITUTE: Yes. Thanks for having me. I think the answer here is we're in a different position now. We have the evidence, the data is in on who is the target of this threat and we have accomplished the goal of the policy, which was to flatten the curves and by those curves, we mean flattening the curves on deaths per day and hospitalizations per day.
Now we know who the target is, we know who to protect, the vulnerable, the people with underlying diseases and we also know that we can prevent overcrowding by doing that, but the big picture here is that we are creating a catastrophic healthcare situation because this idea of stopping COVID-19 at all costs is now causing people not to seek medical care for serious and often emergency care like cancer, chemotherapy, acute heart attack and stroke, organ transplants.
Eighty-five percent of living organ transplants are not getting gone and people are so panicking they're not even bring their -- bringing their children in for their routine vaccinations. We are creating a catastrophe even beyond the massive economic trade-offs that we've made. And then I'd like to echo the other point you brought up which is that in addition, total population isolation is actually preventing the development of herd immunity where the actual network of infection can be blocked, protecting the vulnerable. That's the most immediately available way to do that. We need a targeted policy.
SMERCONISH: Dr. Atlas, can we do both at once? Can we both protect the most vulnerable, whether that's a subset of 10 percent, while allowing the 80 or 90 percent to re-engage to some degree in society?
ATLAS: Well, absolutely. I mean, the point is in fact the most vulnerable, for instance nursing home residents, we know how to protect them and we have them already in sort of a regulated environment. So we can restrict access to them, we can make sure people are even tested, those who work in nursing homes. The public understands how to do this new concept of self-isolation, protecting their vulnerable people in their family, but there's absolutely no evidence to do things like keep people in their homes, to keep people -- to keep K through 12 schools closed.
The children have virtually no risk of serious illness, let alone death and there's no reason to stop businesses from functioning. We know how to do smart population, you know, isolation by virtue of learning this behavior. There's absolutely no reason to create a catastrophe and a single-minded focus on all -- you know, stopping COVID-19 at all costs. That was never the goal. We've accomplished the goal.
SMERCONISH: Isn't your outlook dependent upon widespread testing that doesn't yet exist?
ATLAS: Absolutely not. There's a misconception, sort of a mythology now, an obsession really with widespread testing. There are really three groups of people that need testing. Number one, everyone who interacts or walks into a nursing home. Number two, health care workers who deal with these patients and all patients and the primary responders to this sort of thing because we can't have them infecting other people, especially those with diseases in hospitals.
And the third group that must have testing are patients who have any kind of respiratory symptom or fever that are in hospitals because of course we need to be able to isolate them and protect the other people around them and know what to do with them.
But there's absolutely no reason to require massive, widespread testing when we know that 50 percent of people are asymptomatic, the vast majority of people are not going to get a serious disease and we're destructive with the policy. The policy was never that no single person should get COVID-19. That's not the policy. That was never the goal of the policy.
SMERCONISH: Your essay which I referenced at "The Hill" which lit a fuse, more than 15,000 comments, it's been their number one item for days, has carried with it a fair amount of criticism. I'll put one on the screen and ask you to respond.
Someone identifying themselves as "PoorCitizen" says, "We now know that COVID-19 is a lot more deadly and contagious than the flu for which we do have vaccines. The fact that in three months it has killed more Americans than died in Vietnam is a clear indication that it can kill a great many.
If we, quote-unquote, 'open up' the economy and allow the virus to again infect at higher rates, all indications are that, at least until a vaccine is developed, as many as four times the 58,000 plus Americans will die per year." Your response is what?
ATLAS: My response is, you know, with all due respect, that's really an incorrect interpretation of things. I mean, it's true that there's many, many people have died. There's no question. It seems deadlier than the flu, but the point is again we know the evidence on who to protect.
There's absolutely no evidence to think that people who are not going to get sick should be somehow sequestered indoors and we -- no matter what the challenges are to the targeted policy, which isn't really that challenging, we can't keep dismissing the catastrophe.
We're killing people by isolating medical care and preventing medical care from people. We have induced an irrational fear in the public. That fear should never have a part of guiding public policy and we are creating a catastrophe economically worldwide.
SMERCONISH: Dr. Atlas, thank you for being here.
ATLAS: OK. Thanks for having me.
SMERCONISH: Let me try again with Dr. Ioannidis. Dr. Ioannidis is an epidemiologist who specializes in analyzing data. He's a professor in disease prevention at Stanford University's School of Medicine. Google Scholar says he's among the 100 most cited scientists in the world. Dr. Ioannidis, I tried to synthesize a lot of data at the outset, some
of which was yours. I know that you recently updated your data and shared that with a medical journal. Has anything changed and what is it that you want the audience to most know about your research?
JOHN IOANNIDIS, PROFESSOR IN DISEASE PREVENTION, STANFORD UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: Thank you for the kind invitation, Michael, and for the opportunity to discuss that. As you know, the Santa Clara study on seroprevalence is one among many studies that have tried to assess how frequent the frequency of COVID-19 is in the general population.
We received an enormous amount of very constructive comments from many colleagues and both myself and our team are very grateful for that.
We have updated the paper with far more data, far more negative controls just to minimize the uncertainty about the error of the test that we used, far more analysis trying to explore different biases that lots of colleagues were thinking that might affect the results and also improved and enhanced methods to try to reduce and to calculate the uncertainty around the estimates that we get.
The results are still very robust. The conclusion is that, based on what we see, this infection is very common. It's far more common compared to what we thought based on the documented cases. Most likely most of these people have no symptoms.
They'd not even recognized it or they had very mild symptoms and this means that we have a huge iceberg below the tip of the iceberg that we had been documenting until now.
I think this is probably good news. It means that for the average person being infected, the risk of having severe disease and the risk of dying is much lower than we thought. So it is a common and mild infection. At the same time, it can be a devastating infection.
There is no doubt about this, but by now we have learned where exactly it hits and where it can be devastating. It can be devastating when it hits nursing homes, it can be devastating when it hits hospitals, infects personnel, physician, staff and then we have hospitalized (ph) patients getting infected.
We see that paradox in many people. For example in children and in young adults, it is less severe than the common flu. In middle-aged people, it's about the same. In nursing homes and in hospitals that get infected massively, it can be a disaster.
So we can use that knowledge to try to navigate into that spectrum, try changing the settings in (ph) the individuals who are at highest risk. Same time, probably have some optimism about the prospects of reopening our society before we get many adverse consequences by prolonged lockdown measures.
SMERCONISH: Dr. Ioannidis, earlier this week in "The Washington Post," four individuals, three of them with Harvard affiliations were critics of this analysis and among other things, here's what they said. "Two recent studies from California using antibody tests designed to look for immune markers of previous infections seem to suggest that the virus is much less deadly than many previously thought. But beware of these findings -- they have not been vetted and should be recognized as such." What would it take to vet your findings?
IOANNIDIS: I think that any single study is a single study. That includes our own. Any single study needs to be seen in the context of other pieces of evidence and other investigations that are carried out. I think we have (ph) multiple studies, not just, you know, not just the Santa Clara or the L.A. County. We have data from Miami, we have data from New York, we have data from the Netherlands, from Italy, from Germany, from Switzerland.
They all give the same message more or less. Of course there's differences across locations in the extent that susceptible populations have been heavily hit and New York is not going to be the same as Santa Clara. There's no doubt about that. We welcome all constructive criticism and peer review is important (ph) and should be done. This is exactly why we made that work available in open public view for everyone to comment and we are grateful for all the comments that we received.
I think that the work still holds true and other studies suggest that this is still the same, but no study will be the final ...
SMERCONISH: OK. Sum up. What is it that folks most should know? We're looking at our television screens which are showing us 65,000 plus have died in the United States. Now you're here and you're saying, hey, it's much more widespread and therefore far less fatal. OK. What should policymakers therefore do?
IOANNIDIS: I think that this knowledge gives us some leeway to take some steps towards revisiting our current policy of lockdown. There's no way that we will just move away from lockdown immediately and this will be an error.
My suggestion would be to have a science-based, data-driven approach, try to balance what we know in terms of how common the infection is, get some accurate estimates of how active the epidemic wave is at a given moment and this may vary from one place to another and also balance our bed reserves and capacity because we really want to have bed reserves in case we make a step towards reopening. If it's not correct, (ph) we do want to have reserves available.
SMERCONISH: Thank you --
IOANNIDIS: If we do that, I think that gradually we start (ph) considering relieving some of the draconian measures and have very close eyes on what happens as we do that. I'm not sure that all the changes are going (INAUDIBLE), but some will and I think that there's plenty of room for optimism.
SMERCONISH: Dr. Ioannidis, thank you. We apologize for the technical issues, but thank you so much. IOANNIDIS: Thank you again for the kind invitation. Have a great day.
SMERCONISH: OK. What are your thoughts? Tweet me @Smerconish. Go to my Facebook page. Let me hear from you as to that entire body of data. I'll share some responses throughout the course of the program. Cant Let This Guy Slide, interesting handle. "Smerconish, why don't you try telling the 64,000 plus relatives and loved ones how a lower mortality rate is something to highlight."
I hear the criticism and acknowledge the 65,000 figure. Said right at the outset it doesn't mean that the virus isn't lethal, but the data is nonetheless interesting and should be used by policymakers, so say my guests and I agree with them. It's important for us to know that the initial -- the initial calculations, projections by the WHO were seemingly wildly incorrect and if all of us are not at the equal amount of risk, then shouldn't it impact the way in which we reintegrate into society?
That's the simple premise. It's far more widespread than we believe, far less lethal, but of course, you know, our hearts break for the 65,000 plus who perished as a result. No one denies that.
Up ahead, the accusations of former Biden Senate staffer Tara Reade regarding an alleged incident in 1993 have finally been directly addressed by the candidate.
Joe Biden declared that he would not open his archives to allow a search of her name. Is this problematic? Go to Smerconish.com and answer this week's survey question. Should Joe Biden allow access to his archives at the University of Delaware for anything related to Tara Reade?
And to me, when Mike Pence was criticized for visiting the Mayo Clinic without a mask and then wore one on Thursday, it was just another example of the partisan schism over following directives about coronavirus. With President Trump finally considering wearing a mask next week in Arizona, we have a preview of what that might look like thanks to the Berlin branch of Madame Tussauds.
Plus, the awe-inspiring Thunderbirds and Blue Angels take to the skies again today over Baltimore, D.C. and Atlanta, continuing their tribute to healthcare and other essential workers. When I streamed a Facebook Live video from this week's Philly flyover, the reactions were all over the map and I'll explain.
SMERCONISH: Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has finally broken his silence and denied a former aide's claims that he sexually assaulted her. Tara Reade says that in 1993, Biden had pinned her to a wall in a Senate building, reached under her clothing and penetrated her with his fingers.
A couple of her friends and now a neighbor have told news outlets that Reade did describe this incident years ago. Biden says it did not happen and he's calling for a search pertaining to Tara Reade in his records at the National Archives.
But on Friday, MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski pressed Biden on why he wouldn't do this the same way at the papers held at the University of Delaware despite his claim that those records don't contain personnel files.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKA BRZEZINSKI, MSNBC CO-HOST, "MORNING JOE": Personnel records aside, are you certain there was nothing about Tara Reade in those records and if so --
JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am absolutely certain.
BRZEZINSKI: -- why not -- why not approve a search of her name in those records?
BIDEN: Approve a search of her name?
BRZEZINSKI: Yes. And reveal anything that might be related to Tara Reade in the University of Delaware records.
BIDEN: There is nothing. They wouldn't -- they're not there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: Those files are meant to be sealed until two years after Biden leaves public life, but what should we make of his decision not to allow a search of her name? Which leads me to this week's survey question at Smerconish.com. Should Joe Biden allow access to his archives at the University of Delaware for anything related to Tara Reade? Make sure you're voting at Smerconish.com.
Joining me now to discuss is Patti Solis Doyle, the one time campaign manager for Hillary Clinton. Patti, thanks for being here. What's your answer to the survey question? Should there now be a search of anything related to Tara Reade at the University of Delaware?
PATTI SOLIS DOYLE, FORMER CAMPAIGN MANAGER FOR HILLARY CLINTON: No, I don't think so. Look, I understand as a former campaign manager and actually a former chief of staff of Joe Biden that until he releases absolutely everything, he's going to continue to get these questions, but these are his personal files, not his personnel files. So these are things like old speech drafts, right? Where he writes personal annotations, you know, correspondence between he and President Obama or Hillary Clinton or any foreign leader, personal schedules with personal notations.
These are not staff or personnel files and they're meant to be closed until whatever, you know, politician or public figure has either left public life or has passed away. These are for historians to sort of comb through and get a better look at what history has to offer.
SMERCONISH: I understand that his conservative critics will never be satisfied with whatever access might be granted at the University of Delaware.
But I think the dynamics changed today when the the lead editorial of "The New York Times" says he's not going far enough and I'll put up on the screen part of what they said should be done at the University of Delaware. "Any inventory should be strictly limited to information about Ms. Reid and conducted by an unbiased, apolitical panel put together by the DNC and chosen to foster as much trust in its findings as possible. Admittedly, it would be a major undertaking. He served for 36 years, turned over 2,000 boxes. There are more than 400 gigabytes of data there at the University of Delaware."
Do you think that "The Times" now coming down on the side is going to turn up the heat such that he'll have no alternative?
SOLIS DOYLE: We're in a political campaign and the heat is always going to be turned up, but what Joe Biden did yesterday was basically come out strong, forthright, defiant that these things did not happen. He did so without ever disparaging Ms. Reade. In fact he said that she deserves to be heard and that the record should be released and he wrote a letter to the Secretary of the Senate last night asking that all records or any complaints dealing with Tara Reade be released.
In addition, you know, I had the privilege of working for him in '08. I was hired by the Obama campaign to be the chief of staff for whoever the VP nominee was going to be and I was hired before Joe Biden was selected. When I was hired, they had narrowed it down to four people. Joe Biden was among those four obviously and the selection committee had done a thorough vet of all of those four people and if anything like a sexual assault or a sexual allegation had come up, certainly I would have been given the heads-up on it.
And nothing like that ever came up. So, I think there already has been a thorough search. And Joe Biden is being very, very transparent in terms of those actual documents that would pertain to Miss Reade's allegations.
SMERCONISH: I think that he correctly articulated the way in which a MeToo case, for lack of a better description should be evaluated. I'm paraphrasing but what I heard him say is we've got to give platform and ample airing to whomever makes such a charge. But it doesn't mean that we surrender our scrutiny, which I think is the proper way to take a look at these sorts of things.
However in the past, let me put up on the screen what he said yesterday. What he said yesterday in his written statement was, "One is that, women deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and when they step forward they should be heard, not silenced. The second is that their stories should be subject to appropriate inquiry and scrutiny." I have no problem with that. I think that's proper and just. However, in September of 2018, in the midst of the Kavanaugh-Blasey Ford situation -- quote -- "For a woman to come forward in the glaring lights of focus, nationally, you've got to start off with the presumption that at least the essence of what she's talking about is real."
Do you see a disconnect between the two?
SOLIS DOYLE: I really don't because in the Kavanaugh hearings, in that situation, there wasn't a release of document, there wasn't a further investigation. She wasn't -- the FBI did a very sort of nominal, they didn't talk to the -- all of the people, McConnell sort of tried to shut that down. That's not what Joe Biden is doing. Joe Biden is here, let me give you all of the records. Let me tell you if something is there, and if something is there then proceed with an investigation. That's what he is saying.
SMERCONISH: Patti Solis Doyle, thanks so much for being here.
SOLIS DOYLE: Thank you so much for having me.
SMERCONISH: Let's see what you're saying on my Smerconish Twitter and Facebook pages. What do we have, Catherine? From Twitter, I believe.
"Do you not appreciate the absurdity of what you are advocating? You are asking Biden to prove the non-existence of a document that was never filed concerning an event that never happened."
How by the way do you know it never happened? I don't know that it never happened. I don't know that it did happen.
This is an invitation to the same drip, drip, drip we got from Clinton's e-mails. It seems to me, Liberalpaul, that it's entirely doable that there be a search for anything related to Tara Reade at the University of Delaware. And, frankly, forget what I say, forget what you hear at the conservative outlets. The fact that "The New York Times" is now saying, hey, it's something he's got to do.
I think leaves him little choice to do a search for something related to her name at the University of Delaware in his archives. But that should not then be a slippery slope that allows for his thought process and work product to then be exposed where it frankly shouldn't be until such time as he's left public life. That's how I see it.
This will be interesting. I want to remind you to answer today's survey question at Smerconish.com.
"Should Joe Biden allow access to his archives at the University of Delaware for anything related to Tara Reade?"
Up ahead, the political divide has been able to infect what should be a united approach to surviving a pandemic. A new survey finds that how ready Americans are to return to normal right now? It depends on their party affiliation. Even the decision to wear a mask might now defend on your politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: But the masks, well, they're kind of a constant reminder. You see the masks and you think, you're not safe. You are not back to normal. Not even close.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: Are Americans choosing whether to wear a mask or shelter in place or stay socially distant based on party politics?
Consider the results of new Gallup survey about readiness to return to normalcy. Forty-four percent of Republicans want to do so right now. That's twice as many as independents, 22 percent. It is 11 times as high as Democrats only 4 percent of whom feel ready to return.
But also look at this change from few weeks prior. The GOP number has jumped 19 points while the Democratic number actually ticked down.
In public appearances this week, the leadership of the two parties visibly differed in their modeling. While Congressman Jim Clyburn, Speaker Nancy Pelosi have been wearing face coverings, Vice President Mike Pence was notably not doing so in his recent trip to the Mayo Clinic. After some blowback, suggesting that Pence was down playing concerns to please his boss he donned a mask to tour a GM ventilator plant in Indiana.
On Thursday the president was asked if he'd be wearing a mask at his speech in Arizona next week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm going to have to look at the climate. I'd have no problem wearing a mask. I don't know. I'm supposed to make a speech, I just don't know, should I speak in a mask? You're going to have to tell me if that's politically correct. I don't know. But if it is, I'll speak in a mask.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: Joining me now is Ryan Lizza, chief Washington correspondent for Politico where he co-authored this piece, "Wearing a mask is for smug liberals. Refusing to is for reckless Republicans."
Ryan, I saw this coming three weeks ago here on CNN. I made the following observation about the handshake.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: Here's my prediction. I think it's going to become a red state/blue state kind of thing. I may be wrong. But I could see the tradition of handshaking continually more in red states like, yes, we're going to continue to shake hands. (END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: I mean, we used to look at your car. If you are a Volvo you are presumed to -- Volvo driver, you are presumed to be a Democrat. If you're a Hummer driver, you're a Republican. Now, do we look at whether you're wearing a mask?
RYAN LIZZA, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: A little bit. I mean, this is sort of the first symbol, I think, of the pandemic that is -- has been sort of politicized. And where voters are taking, you know, ideological queues from prominent people on the right from the president, from the vice president.
There's a lot of survey data that suggests when a new issue comes on the scene and the parties don't really know what they think about it, the way that it gets settled is people look to prepare a political leader to decide what is the red position on this, what is the blue position on this. And I think that period in February, in March, there wasn't a lot of political divide -- ideological divide on many of these issues. But gradually, this is polarizing.
And, you know, the mask has become sort of one of the first issues here where people are taking an ideological view of it. Not completely. But, you know, to a certain extent.
And, you know, what's strange about that, of course, is it should just be a science-based decision, right? There shouldn't really be a big political debate about this.
SMERCONISH: I wonder if it's politically driven or geographically driven, right? I mean, in urban areas which tend to vote Democratic, you've got a higher concentration of people. Therefore, they are much more susceptible to the spread of this virus. Might it be a reflection of where you live not necessarily the politics of that area?
LIZZA: Absolutely. If you live in a big apartment building in New York City where you're constantly in close contact with other people, you will -- you would -- you would want to wear a mask, right? And other people around you want you to wear a mask. Because remember, the mask is about you -- you not being able -- preventing you from spreading. It doesn't -- there's no science that it will actually help you from getting the virus if you're near it.
And the mask is just for situations where you can't maintain the six feet social distancing, right? So, this example with Trump making the speech, I don't see why, frankly, he should wear a mask, right? If he's not going to be in close contact with other humans, when he's up there at the podium, there's no -- the guidelines don't say that he should be wearing a mask, right?
The reason to wear it would be as a symbol, as a statement, to say, hey, everyone, this is what we should be doing to stay healthy and safe. But, remember, it is -- the point of it is when you can't do the social distancing, that's when you turn to the masks. You know, there is some science behind it. So the debate can get a little silly like, oh, why isn't Trump wearing a mask when he's 20 feet from another human? Well, he doesn't have to.
SMERCONISH: Ryan, many Americans beginning now the process of returning to work. Let's talk about your reflection of one particular workplace that would be 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue where you observed the following.
"Visiting the White House," you say, "it's striking how many people don't wear masks. Very few Secret Service agents have them on. Some days, even the staff member performing the temperature check on the reporters doesn't wear one.
In contrast, most, though certainly not all, members of the media wear some kind of face covering while in the press workspace or waiting to cover a presidential event. But very few keep them on during the televised briefings."
I wonder if that is all a microcosm of what we're about to see in the weeks ahead, wherever it is that we work?
LIZZA: Obviously, Washington. Every time I go to the grocery store, the rule here is you have to wear a mask.
SMERCONISH: Me, too.
LIZZA: Most of the time I'm right here at home. I don't go out much. So the only place I go in the grocery store and occasionally to the White House. And it is kind of jarring when you're at least walking around your neighborhood and everyone is staying very far apart. You're going to the store and everyone has a mask. And there's a real kind of, you know, people look at you a scant where you are asked to leave the store if you don't.
And then you're in the White House, in the West Wing, and learning that people who are in these kinds of close quarters where the guidelines are voluntary aren't wearing masks. And there are people who are coming in and out of the White House, of course, every day, likely being around other people and then going to the White House. So I did find that a little jarring that the culture of the workplace of the White House where there will be a lot of occasions where you're not able to be six feet from another person, that that -- it is a maskless culture.
You know, three people, Daniel Lippmann and I talked to three staffers in the White House about this, all said the same thing, almost no one wears a mask when working in the West Wing.
And that -- I think that does get at some of the machismo around this, maybe, the fact that Pence didn't wear one. The fact that Trump himself has pooh-poohed the idea of wearing a mask. I think that gets to this slight ideological debate here.
And a little bit of not wanting to necessarily set an example for the rest of the country that -- there are a few exceptions, Melania Trump has tweeted a picture of herself wearing a mask. Ivanka has. They've recommended. But I think there's a little bit of signaling to certain elements on the right in the maskless behavior of some of the top Republicans.
SMERCONISH: Ryan, thanks so much. It's a great piece that you co- authored. Appreciate it.
LIZZA: Thank you, Michael. Talk to you soon.
SMERCONISH: Let's check in on your tweets and Facebook comments. This comes from Facebook, I think. Let's see.
"There is a larger far right extremist group here in Texas advocating boycotting businesses big and small if they require masks." Fantastic way to restart --
Well, that's just a bunch of knuckleheads. I wear a mask. People around me wear masks. And then I think about where I live in the Philly suburbs which had been historically red, now are much more blue. I hope it's a reflection on the relative risk of wherever you are and not a political judgment.
Make sure that you're answering today's survey question. I have no idea which way this one's going to turn out over at Smerconish.com.
"Should Joe Biden allow access to his archives at the University of Delaware for anything related to Tara Reade?"
Still to come, if you live in Baltimore, if you live in Washington, D.C., if you live in Atlanta, keep your eyes on the skies in the next few hours. The joint fly over tribute to first responders from the Navy's Blue Angels and the Air Force's Thunderbirds -- I'm a fan. Not everybody is. And I know you're wondering, how much does it really cost?
SMERCONISH: Today a dozen military jets in tight formation will be soaring over Baltimore, Washington, D.C. and Atlanta in tribute to health care and other essential workers like the one that I witnessed firsthand earlier this week, Philly, Trenton, New York City were on the first leg of President Trump's operation America Strong salute. In the skies six Navy Blue F/A18 Hornets from Pensacola, Florida, and six Air Force Thunderbirds F-16 Fighting Falcons out of the Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada.
Later we also got to see footage from inside the jets to see what the pilot -- look at that. To see what they experienced. That is awesome.
Although officials urge people to watch from the safety of their homes, crowds gathered in all three cities. Here in Philly, I maintained safe social distancing. That's my excitement as I'm watching with one of my sons. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: Wow. Whoa.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: That tells you what I think. I broadcast via Facebook Live. And the online reaction was as divided as much else these days.
Some loved it saying things like, "The precision is heart stopping, isn't it? Spectacular." And, Very cool. But shouldn't they be 6 feet apart.
Others, however, even if they admired the feat complained about the cost and diverted resources as they saw it.
"I'm sure all of our healthcare workers working hard in the hospitals has time to see this or even care about this." By the way they flew over a hospital in my neighborhood.
Or, "Can't get PPE for health care workers but Trump doesn't mind spending millions of tax dollars to show off." We are all F if you fall for this. Yes impressive but lest not (ph) do what's necessary first. Lest not. There we go.
"Why do people get so amped over planes flying overhead?" I'm the right guy to ask. I'm one of them.
So what is the cost? Based on estimates from a Department of Defense financial management report, the combined total per hour cost of the fly over could be around $120,000. But in a joint statement the Navy and Air Force point out that the exercise -- quote -- "fulfills critical training requirements for both teams" and will incurs no additional cost to taxpayers.
When the issue of price has been raised in the past like the jets playing over the Super Bowl the Air Force has responded that the only additional cost is that of the fuel. Well, if that's the case, as oil prices have been plummeting, these fly overs become increasingly affordable. Which leads me to an idea that I tweeted this past week to the president who has expressed a longing for a military parade on Independence Day.
I've got a better idea. Hey @realDonaldTrump -- why not do it again on July 4th? Only this time fly the coast. I'm thinking Miami to Maine and San Diego to Seattle. So far no response but then again I predicted he would end up wanting to put his signatures on those relief checks.
All right. Time to see how you responded to the survey question at Smerconish.com.
"Should Joe Biden allow access to his archives at the University of Delaware for anything related to Tara Reade?"
Survey says -- 55 percent -- wow, we've got 14,000 -- let's call it 500 votes. So a lot of votes, 55 percent say yes, 45 percent say no. As I said to Patti Solis Doyle earlier in the program, it's one thing if Fox and if Breitbart and conservative outlets are clamoring for access to the archives at the University of Delaware but it's something far different when all the sudden the editorial page of the "New York Times," which I'm sure the former vice president -- former vice president pays attention to, when they are saying you got to let this happen, I think that will be a tipping point.
Here's some of what else came in during the course of the program. What do we have, Catherine?
Smerconish, no, the files were donated by Biden to the university and it holds position papers and speeches.
Let me break down how stupid this is, if he were trying to hide information why would he donate it?
I doubt that Joe Biden knows what's in 2,000 cartons that he donated to the University of Delaware. I am not for this turning into a slippery slope where all of his work product is examined. Look, the man has got a record that's 40 years long. We can take a look at all of his votes, we shouldn't see his deliberative process. So I am not supportive of this turning into a hunt for whatever it is they can find.
OK. One more please, quickly, real quick.
Smerconish, show us his MAGA ass tattoo.
No, it's on the inside of my thigh. All right. We are out of time. Holy smokes. What a show. See you next week.