Mar 17, 2020
Coronavirus Task Force Briefing Transcript March 17: Trump, Pence, Mnuchin Speak about COVID-19
Donald Trump and the Coronavirus Task Force gave an update in a news briefing today. Speakers included Trump, Mike Pence, Steve Mnuchin, Dr. Birx, Dr. Fauci, and more. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced that the IRS would defer $300 billion worth of tax payments for Americans and businesses to help out with coronavirus related economic fallout.
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Donald Trump: (18:28)
Thank you very much everyone. Thank you. Progress being made and I appreciate you’re all joining us. Last night the FDA announced groundbreaking new policies to further increase testing, very substantially so. All states can now authorize tests developed and used within their borders in addition to the FDA. So the states are very much involved. They have been involved from the beginning, but we’re stepping it up as much as we can and the testing procedures are going well and within a short period of time, all of the private labs will kick in. This never been done before and it’s going to be something very … I think it’s going to be incredible if it’s done properly and these great companies. These are among the greatest companies in the world actually. So the state is going to be dealing through themselves and with local government, local physicians, local everybody. They’re also dealing with us, but we have a tremendous testing capacity.
Donald Trump: (19:33)
Today we’re also announcing a dramatic expansion of our Medicare Telehealth services. Medicare patients can now visit any doctor by phone or video conference at no additional costs, including with commonly used services like FaceTime and Skype, a historic breakthrough. This has not been done before either. In addition, states have the authority to recover Telehealth services for their medical patients and by doing this, the patient is not seeing the doctor per se, but they’re seeing the doctor so there’s no getting close. During this time, we will not enforce applicable HIPAA penalties so that doctors can greatly expand care for their patients using Telehealth. So the penalties won’t be enforced. We encourage everyone to maximize use of Telehealth to limit exposure to the virus. It’s been a very successful method of communication but never used on a scale like we’re going to use the Telehealth. And you’ll be able to also better maintain hospital capacity by doing this.
Donald Trump: (20:41)
Earlier this morning, I spoke with executives from America’s fast food industry, Wendy’s, McDonald’s, all of the big ones, Burger King, and they were great. We were talking about the pickups in light of yesterday’s guidance. You heard to avoid eating or drinking at bars, restaurants, or public food courts. We discussed the important role that the drive-through pickup and delivery service can play in the weeks ahead. So that’s happening and they have been fantastic. They have been absolutely fantastic and they’ve been doing it already, but they’re keeping it open and smaller staffs of very capable people and very capable companies and they’re doing it, pickups.
Donald Trump: (21:28)
Our guidance yesterday urges Americans to take action for 15 days to help stem the outbreak, so it’s a 15 day period. I guess now we’d say it’s a 14 day period. It’s 15 days from yesterday and we’re asking everyone to work at home if possible, postpone unnecessary travel and limit social gatherings to no more than 10 people. By making shared sacrifices and temporary changes, we can protect the health of our people and we can protect our economy because I think our economy will come back very rapidly. So it’s 15 days from yesterday. We’ll see what happens after that. If we do this right, our country and the world frankly, but our country can be rolling again pretty quickly, pretty quickly. We have to fight that invisible enemy that I guess unknown, but we’re getting to know it a lot better.
Donald Trump: (22:21)
Today, the Senate has taken up coronavirus legislation that includes free testing for those who need it, as well as paid sick leave and family medical leave for workers affected by the virus. We’re also committed to getting small businesses the support that they need. In fact, one of the things we talked about with the fast food operations, we spoke to the chairman and CEOs of all of the companies, but one of the things we discussed is exactly that, getting small businesses’ support and flexibility that they need for themselves and for their workers and that’s being worked on right now.
Donald Trump: (22:56)
At my direction, Secretary Mnuchin is meeting today with senators on additional stimulus packages. I can tell you he’s meeting with them late until the night last night and for a big part of the day yesterday and tremendous things are happening. There’s great spirit, tremendous spirit, and I can say that for Republicans and Democrats. I can say that with respect to Governor Cuomo. We had a great talk this morning. We’re both doing a really good job and we’re coordinating it and we agree. Different states need different things and we agree on that 100%, but we had a very good talk and I think we’re right down the same track and it’s going to be very successful.
Donald Trump: (23:39)
New York has a pretty big problem I guess would be the number one hot spot. That’s no fault of anybody’s. It’s just the way it is. But we’re working very closely together. We’re also getting FEMA very much involved. They’ve been involved but now we’re getting them to a different level and we’ll have everything ready. We’re dealing with the Army Corps of engineers should that be necessary. We have them working in some cases, on standby in other cases, but my conversation with Andrew Cuomo was a very, very productive one and a very good one and I appreciate that.
Donald Trump: (24:13)
We’re giving relief to affected industries and small businesses and we’re ensuring that we emerge from this challenge with a prosperous and growing economy because that’s what’s going to happen. It’s going to pop. One day we’ll be standing possibly up here. We’ll say, “Well, we won,” and we’re going to say that. Sure as you’re sitting there, we’re going to say that, and we’re going to win. I think we’re going to win faster than people think, I hope.
Donald Trump: (24:38)
Later today, I’ll meet with the leaders from the tourism industry as well as industrial supply retailers and wholesalers to discuss their critical roles. As you know, I met with the department store people, all of the retailers, the big ones including Walmart and others, and it was great meeting. They’re stocking up their stores like they’ve never stocked them before. We’re trying to get people to actually buy less, if that’s possible. Buy less. Don’t take everything, just buy what you need for a while. They’re going to stay open all hours of the day and they’ve really been, they’ve been fantastic.
Donald Trump: (25:14)
We’re taking aggressive action now as one nation and one family so that America can rebound stronger, frankly stronger than ever before. And we recognize that while many American workers can work from home, many others cannot. Many of our healthcare providers, first responders and men and women in the food service and manufacturing are showing that … They’re showing up and standing up to provide us with the goods and services we need. So we want people to stay home where they can, but many cases when you talk about food service and manufacturing certain items in particular, they’re going in and they’re practicing all of the safety rules and regulations that we talk about. So with that, I’d like to just introduce our great vice president, Mike Pence. He’ll say a few words and then I’ll make some other introductions. Thank you very much.
Mike Pence: (26:08)
Thank you Mr. President and good morning. It should be very clear to the American people that President Trump has initiated not only a whole of government approach, but a whole of America approach. And the president’s interaction even today and through the course of this day with leaders in industry around the country reflects that we’re not only bringing the full weight of the federal government to bear, but the full weight of the American economy. And I know I speak on behalf of the president when I say how inspired we are at the way the American people have stepped up and the way that American businesses, large and small, have stepped up. It’s truly been inspiring.
Mike Pence: (26:44)
Our task force met this morning. We continue to focus on President Trump’s priorities of testing, prevention and supplies. And in that category, I’m pleased to report that while testing is available in all 50 states as the president just indicated, through the swift action of the FDA at the encouragement of-
Mike Pence: (27:03)
Syndicated through the swift action of the FDA at the encouragement of governors around the country. Now a state health authorities can authorize labs in their state and expand existing testing capabilities. But also in connection with the FDA’s action which we’ll hear more about in a moment, we now have continued to expand the public and private partnership that the president forged with vast commercial laboratories around the country, increasing access to the high volume, high throughput Coronavirus testing that is greatly expanding access even as we speak.
Mike Pence: (27:39)
Also our task force received a report this morning on the progress that the US Public Health Service and FEMA are making, working closely with state governments and also partners in the private sector like CVS, Target, Walgreen and Walmart to expand remote testing sites around the country and we’ll have a full report later this week as those come online.
Mike Pence: (28:02)
It’s important the American people understand the testing is happening all over the country but all of our health experts wanted me to tell the American people, you don’t need the results of testing to know what you should do and President Trump’s 15 day coronavirus guidelines, our advice for every American, in every community. They’re the result of the best guidance of CDC and our health experts and as the president said, we continue to urge every American over the next 15 days, to put into practice the principles in the president’s Coronavirus Guidelines.
Mike Pence: (28:40)
By every American practicing these principles, we believe that we can slow the spread of the Coronavirus. In fact, our experts have told our task force that if every American acts on the president’s Coronavirus guidelines, we could see a substantial reduction in the spread of the Coronavirus. But as the president said, it will take all of us to do it.
Mike Pence: (29:04)
So if you feel sick, stay home. If someone in your house tests positive, keep the entire household home, especially if you’re a person with an underlying health condition, we urge you to stay home and practice social distancing from people; no social gatherings of more than 10 people, use drive through as the president discussed with leaders in the industry today and every American, especially practicing common sense and good hygiene.
Mike Pence: (29:29)
For the American people as a whole, the risk of serious illness remains low but we’re asking every American to partner with us in this effort to slow the spread of the virus and especially to be mindful of seniors or others with serious underlying health conditions for whom the threat of the Coronavirus can be very significant and very real.
Mike Pence: (29:53)
As I said, the president has continued to push our task force to bring a whole of government, a whole America approach and we continue to be inspired the way our nation’s governors, nation’s businesses are responding. We spoke just yesterday with the leaders of every broadcast network in America that will soon be unveiling a public service campaign using CDC guidelines and specifically, as we work on the issue of supplies, meetings yesterday with Department of Defense officials about excess supplies.
Mike Pence: (30:23)
The president and I will be meeting today to speak about the supply chain for hospitals. We would make one specific request and that is we would urge construction companies to donate their inventory of N95 masks to your local hospital and forgo additional orders of those industrial masks because of what the president asked to be included in legislation moving through the Congress today, those industrial masks that they use on construction sites, are perfectly acceptable for healthcare workers to be protected from a respiratory disease. But we’re asking construction companies that our president knows very well from his background, we’re asking them to donate their N95 masks to their local hospitals and also forego making additional orders.
Mike Pence: (31:10)
At the president’s direction we will continue to do whatever it takes. We’ll continue to marshal the best of the American people, the best of all the people behind me, the people behind them, our state and local officials and we will get through this and we will get through this together. Thank you. Mr. President.
Donald Trump: (31:31)
I want to thank Chad Wolf and Homeland Security and the job they did at the airports was really incredible. They screened thousands and thousands of people. O’Hara got backed up a little bit, but they got them out but everybody was screened and screened very carefully. They didn’t want to rush it. I think it was 13 airports and it was an incredible thing. Then they had a big surge also from the UK and Ireland and that went very smoothly, but they did a fantastic job. They work long hours and they did a fantastic job.
Donald Trump: (32:06)
I’d like to introduce Steven Mnuchin and then I’m going to ask Steve to leave because he’s going to the Hill. He’s been working very hard with the Senate and with actually with the House on a very, very big bold package. It’s going to be big and it’s going to be bold and the level again of enthusiasm to get something done, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite like it. So, Steve Mnuchin, please.
Steve Mnuchin: (32:31)
Thank you Mr. President. I’d like to announce some very significant actions that the president has approved today.
Steve Mnuchin: (32:37)
The first, I would say is earlier today I sent a letter to Fed Chairman Powell approving his request to use 13(3) and what that will do is the Fed will be setting up a special purpose vehicle, which the treasury will invest $10 billion in from one of our funds. That will the Fed to guarantee the purchase of A1P1 commercial paper growing forward. That is a $1 trillion market and is critical to American workers, it’s critical to American business and it’s critical to American savers who have a lot of that money in money market funds.
Steve Mnuchin: (33:18)
So we heard loud and clear there were liquidity issues. This is very significant and we’ll create, I don’t think we’ll need to use it all, but we have the ability to have the Fed purchase up to $1 trillion of commercial paper is needed.
Steve Mnuchin: (33:34)
That has already created significant stability in the market today. The second thing I would say is we’ve previously talked about differing IRS payments. The president earlier this morning authorized me to announce this program. I have previously announced we would defer 200 billion. The president suggested we increased that to 300 billion, which will we will be doing.
Steve Mnuchin: (33:58)
Now let me just be clear on the specifics. We encourage those Americans who can file their taxes to continue to file their taxes on April 15th because for many Americans, you will get tax refunds and we don’t want you to lose out on those tax refunds. We want you to make sure you get them. Many people do this electronically, which is easy for them and easy for the IRS. If you owe a payment to the IRS, you can defer up to $1 million as an individual, and the reason why we’re doing $1 million is that covers lots of pass throughs and small businesses and $10 million to corporations, interest free and penalty free for 90 days.
Steve Mnuchin: (34:40)
All you have to do is file your taxes; you’ll automatically not get charged interest in penalties. Now of course, any American has the right to extend their taxes. We’re not taking that a right, but the president has asked us to go up to $300 billion. That’s also an enormous amount of liquidity in the system. The third thing is the president and I worked on a very significant economic stimulus plan. Thank you for being available last night and throughout this morning and I will be presenting that to the Republicans in the Senate this morning and also discussing that with the House. We look forward to having bipartisan support. We’re now working with the Senate to pass this legislation very quickly and these will be payments to small businesses. We’ve talked about loan guarantees, so to critical industries such as airlines and hotels and we’ve also talked about a stimulus package to the American worker. You can think of this as something like business interruption payments for the American workers. Thank you.
Donald Trump: (35:47)
Do you have any questions or the Secretary of the Treasury?
Speaker 47: (35:50)
When you say a stimulus package for American workers, do you mean direct payments to Americans or are talking about a payroll tax holiday?
Steve Mnuchin: (35:57)
Although the president likes the idea that the payroll tax holiday, I will tell you what we’ve heard from many people and the president to said, we can consider this. The payroll tax holiday would get people money over the next six to eight months. We’re looking at sending checks to Americans immediately and what we’ve heard from hardworking Americans, many companies have now shut down, whether it’s bars or restaurants, Americans need cash now and the president wants to get cash now and I mean now in the next two weeks.
Speaker 48: (36:24)
Steve Mnuchin: (36:25)
I will be previewing that with the Republicans. There’s some numbers out there. They may be a little bit bigger than what’s in the process.
Donald Trump: (36:33)
Please, please wait please.
Speaker 49: (36:35)
What help are you going to give to airlines specifically?
Steve Mnuchin: (36:38)
I’ve had discussions with all the airline CEOs this week. The airline CEOs have had conversations with the Senate and the House, as the president said, I was up with a subset of the Republican senators last night. I’ve discussed that with them. I think as you know, this is worse than 9/11. For the airline industry, they are almost ground to a halt.
Steve Mnuchin: (37:01)
The president wants to make sure that although we don’t want people to travel and let’s, it’s critical, we want to maintain for critical travel, the right to have domestic travel.
Steve Mnuchin: (37:12)
I’m not going to comment on the specifics. I will tell you we’re very focused. There’s a lot of workers. This is strategically important to us and we’ll be working with Congress.
Donald Trump: (37:21)
The airline industry will be in good shape. Yeah, go ahead please.
Speaker 50: (37:24)
There’s been talk about a thousand dollar checks to every American increasing support among Republicans and some Democrats for that. Would you support that going to everyone or would you support some sort of income restriction on who gets a check?
Steve Mnuchin: (37:40)
Well, I think it’s clear. We don’t need to send people who make $1 million a year checks. Okay. But we like, that’s one of the ideas we like. We’re going to preview that today and then we’ll be talking about details after.
Donald Trump: (37:52)
I think I think we’re going to do something that gets money to them as quickly as possible. That may not be an accurate way of doing it because obviously some people shouldn’t be getting checks for $1,000 and we’ll have a pretty good idea by the end of the day what we’re going to be doing.
Speaker 51: (38:08)
How would the mechanics of this work? I mean, we’ve been talking about a payroll tax holiday. Some $500 billion worth was floated today. So how would this idea of sending people a check work? Would that be sort of an advance on what they would pay in payroll checks?
Steve Mnuchin: (38:23)
Again, we want to make sure Americans get money in their pockets quickly. We want to make sure small business owners have access to funds. We want to make sure that hotels, airlines, we have an entire package. We’ll be laying out those details later.
Donald Trump: (38:39)
I have to say this, there are four different ways you can do it. You can hear me well enough, I imagine. People at home; those are very important people, especially your people.
Donald Trump: (38:55)
Look, we have four or five ways we can do it, four ways in particular. I think there’s a fifth possibility but there are some very good ways of getting the money out and getting it out quickly. Payroll tax is one way, but it does come over a period of months, many months and we want to do something much faster than that. So I think we have ways of getting money out pretty quickly and very accurately.
Speaker 52: (39:15)
Can you talk about the timeline please? How quickly do you think you can get this done?
Steve Mnuchin: (39:22)
The president has instructed me, we have to do this now. So this is now.
Speaker 52: (39:27)
By the end of the week?
Steve Mnuchin: (39:28)
We are going to work with the Senate, who’s in session right now, actively. We will continue to have conversations with the House. I’ve already spoken to Speaker Pelosi once today. This is stuff that needs to be done now.
Steve Mnuchin: (39:39)
The president has instructed me that this is no fault to American workers. For medical reasons, we are shutting down parts of this economy and we’re going to use all the tools we have, as I’ve said, and what tools we don’t have, we’re going back to Congress. I’ve got to go back.
Speaker 52: (39:54)
Can we assume the price tag is $850 billion to those who might be concerned that’s too expensive.
Donald Trump: (39:57)
We don’t want to talk about it but it’s a substantial number. We’re going big. The expression, we could do it two ways. We could keep going back every day or every week. We’re going big and that’s where Mitch McConnell, that’s the way he wants to go. That’s the way I want to go. I think we want to get it done and have a big infusion as opposed to going through a little meetings every couple of days. We don’t want to do it that way. We want to go big, go solid.
Donald Trump: (40:22)
The country is very strong. We’ve never been so strong and that’s what we’re going to be doing. We don’t want with this invisible enemy, we don’t want airlines going out of business. We don’t want people losing their jobs or not having money to live when they were doing very well just four weeks ago. So we’re going big and that’s the way it’ll be and that’s the way everybody seems to like it on the Hill.
Donald Trump: (40:42)
Any other questions for Steve?
Speaker 53: (40:43)
In addition to airlines and hotels, you had a call with restaurants today. Was any type of emergency assistance discussed on that call? A lot of restaurants have to close. Even if they are doing delivery, they’re not making as much money as they would with a full house.
Steve Mnuchin: (40:57)
Let me make two comments on the restaurants and the president understands this, that this was emphasized this morning.
Steve Mnuchin: (41:03)
First of all, we want to make sure that the states allow the drive through portion of these fast foods to stay open. Particularly in a time period where we’re telling people don’t go to restaurants, these companies feed a big part of America and I expect they’re going to feed a bigger part of America.
Steve Mnuchin: (41:23)
The second thing they asked me to emphasize, I wasn’t going to do it now, but as long as you asked, many of these companies have apps. You can order ahead of time, that way when you get there, it’s as simple as they’ll have it packed, they can give it to you with social distancing and it’ll be very fast.
Steve Mnuchin: (41:40)
So we expect that they will be able to feed a large part of the population and in regards to support, I will say a lot of these businesses are small businesses or companies, franchisees, 500 or less, and we have a specific program we’ll be unveiling that helps all businesses, small and medium sized businesses of 500.
Speaker 54: (42:03)
Question regarding Marriott corporation. It announced that it is furloughing thousands of individuals because of the impacts of the Coronavirus. Will your legislation help those individuals?
Steve Mnuchin: (42:16)
I hope so. That’s one of the reasons why we got to act very quickly because we understand whether it’s the airlines, hotels, for good reasons to protect the United States on medical issues, these businesses are shut down and the president wants to make sure, as I’ve said, we will use all the powers we have. You saw this today, trillion dollars of potential liquidity into the market and the powers we don’t have, we’re going to Congress and I will say there’s a lot of bipartisan support for these issues.
Steve Mnuchin: (42:47)
So I’m going to apologize because I have to go deal with some other [inaudible 00:00:42:53].
Donald Trump: (42:52)
Steve Mnuchin: (42:57)
I do want to comment on this. Okay. We absolutely believe in keeping the markets open. Okay. Americans need to know they have access to their money. After September 11th, the only reason why the markets were closed was because the technology was disrupted. I’ve been on the phone with the major banks, with the New York Stock Exchange; everybody wants to keep it open. We may get to a point where we shorten the hours if that’s something they need to do, but American’s should know that we’re going to do everything to make sure that they have access to their money at their banks, to the money in their 401ks and to the money in stocks. So I want to just be very clear, we intend to keep the markets open.
Donald Trump: (43:39)
And the banks are record setting strong, so we have that, which is a much different event than what we had not so long ago. John, go ahead.
Mr. President, you mentioned the Army Corps of Engineers, that you’ve had a conversation with Governor Cuomo. People [inaudible 00:43:57] the New York is going to run out of hospital beds. Are you prepared to mobilize the army corp and as to when we reach capacity?
Donald Trump: (44:02)
Yes, we’re starting to. We’re starting the process and it’s a process. We hope it’s not going to be necessary, but it could be necessary.
Donald Trump: (44:09)
The state is working on it very hard themselves, but we’ll probably supplement what they’re doing.
Speaker 55: (44:14)
Given that many of the precursors for our pharmaceuticals come from China and there’ve been supply disruption, that supply chain has been broken to some degree. Do you expect that we could run into a shortage of prescription drugs?
Donald Trump: (44:28)
No, I don’t see that at all and I think China has every incentive to make sure that things work well. China wants to make sure that things work very well. They have every incentive to do so. Jeff.
Mr. President, the Governor of Ohio has called off the election that was supposed to happen today, the primary election. Do you agree with that decision and what steps are you taking to ensure that elections going forward, if this pandemic continues, that elections will be able to happen including the course, the big one in the fall?
Donald Trump: (45:00)
Well, the Governor of Ohio is doing a great job. He called that off and we’ll see what happens, is a court case and it hasn’t been fully determined yet, but if he called it off I could understand that because you know he’s definitely somebody that knows what he’s doing. We’ll be seeing very soon, they’re going by the rule of 10 as opposed to 50 and it’s pretty tough. I would say probably you could violate that if you wanted to for an election.
Donald Trump: (45:25)
I just think an election is a very special thing he’s going to chose. He chose a different date, I think a date sometime in June but that would be a decision that would be made by him. He felt it was necessary. The courts are, somebody challenging it, so the courts will ultimately decide.
Well what are you doing to ensure that further elections, if we’re still in this situation a month from now, two months from now?
Donald Trump: (45:50)
What I’m doing? Yeah. What I’m doing John’s, very simple. We’re getting rid of this virus. That’s what we’re doing. That’s the best thing we can do.
Donald Trump: (45:55)
By the way, for the markets, for everything. It’s very simple, very simple solution. We want to get rid of it. We want to have very, as few deaths as possible. This is a horrible thing. You look at what’s going on with Italy. We don’t want to be in a position like that but a much larger because we’re a much larger country. We don’t want to be there and I think we’ve done really well. I think we’ve done well. I think the states have done well. We’re all working together.
Donald Trump: (46:18)
The best thing we can do is get rid of the virus. Once that’s gone, it’s going to pop back like nobody’s ever seen before. That’s my opinion but I think it will pop back like nobody’s ever seen before. Please.
Speaker 56: (46:28)
Just to follow up on John’s question, specifically how many new hospital facilities could the Army Corps of Engineers build and also what specific measures are you taking to try to increase the number of ventilators in the stockpile?
Donald Trump: (46:40)
I ordered a massive numbers of ventilators. We have by any normal standards, we have a lot of respirators, ventilators. We have tremendous amounts of equipment but compared to what we’re talking about here, this has never been done before. Yesterday I gave the governors the right to go order directly if they want, if they feel they can do it faster than going through the federal government.
Donald Trump: (47:01)
Now we’ve knocked out all of the bureaucracy. It’s very direct, but it’s still always faster to order directly and I gave them, that was totally misinterpreted by the New York Times on purpose unfortunately. But it’s very important. Yes, Mike.
Mike Pence: (47:14)
If I could amplify.
Donald Trump: (47:15)
Mike Pence: (47:17)
The president directed us to work with the Department of Defense. There’s two ways that DOD can be helpful in terms of expanding medical capacity. I know the Governor of New York has asked us to look at the Army Corps of Engineer, which could perhaps renovate existing buildings, but the president also has us inventorying what you all would understand is field hospitals or MASH hospitals that can be deployed very quickly.
Mike Pence: (47:42)
We spoke with a governor Inslee yesterday in Washington state. We have resources in that part of the country that we could move and as governors make these requests, we will process them, bring them to the president.
Mike Pence: (47:54)
But there are two different lanes that VOD can provide, in addition to many medical supplies to augment our national reserves and the president has tasked us to evaluate and make available and to consider every request from governors for either field hospitals, expanding facilities or the Army Corps of Engineer that could retrofit existing buildings.
Donald Trump: (48:16)
The Army Corps is very prepared to do, as we say, and we’re looking at where it’s going, and they do call them MASH hospitals, but the field hospitals go up very quickly there. We have them, we have all of this equipment in stock and we’re looking at different sites in a few different locations and we’re not going to need in West Virginia where so far I guess they have none. Still none. Still none. Right. West Virginia. Big Jim, the governors, he must be doing a good job. That’s what’s reported.
Speaker 57: (48:49)
Is that a reporting issue or is that they have no cases?
Donald Trump: (48:52)
Well, that’s all.I just see. West Virginia is the only one that has no cases. So obviously that’s being treated differently than a New Yorker or a California; different parts of California. I do say this though. The the Army Corps of Engineers is ready, willing and able.
Donald Trump: (49:09)
We have to give them the go ahead, if we find that it’s going to be necessary. We think we can have quite a few units up very rapidly. I’m going to work with Governor Cuomo. I’m going to work with a number of the governors. Governor Newsome has been very generous in his words and I’m being generous to him too because we’re all working together very well and I think a lot of very positive things have taken place.
Donald Trump: (49:34)
We’re talking to California about different sites but we can, we can have a lot of units up fairly quickly if we think we need them.
Donald Trump: (49:42)
I think what I’ll do is I might ask Sema to say a few words on the telehealth and then we can get back to this, please. Sema.
Sema Verma: (49:50)
Thank you, Mr. President. As the president announced earlier, we are doing a dramatic expansion of what’s known as telehealth for our 62 million Medicare beneficiaries who are amongst the most vulnerable to the Coronavirus. We’re acting in accord with the appropriations bill that was signed on March 6th, as well as the president’s emergency declaration last week. This action is a part of our broader effort to ensure that government requirements, rules and regulations, don’t get in the way of patient care during an emergency.
Sema Verma: (50:22)
Today’s announcement, builds on the significant progress of the president has already made over the past three years around telehealth services and while we have allowed for virtual check-ins, full telehealth benefits have been restricted to those living in rural areas, established patients and just for those brief visits. But no longer; Medicare beneficiaries across the nation, no matter where they live, will now be able to receive a wide range of services via telehealth without ever having to leave home.
Sema Verma: (50:52)
These services can also be provided in a variety of settings including nursing homes, hospital outpatient departments and more. Thanks to the leadership of HHS, will also be temporarily relaxing certain HIPAA requirements so that doctors can provide telehealth with their own phones and we’ll be using enforcement discretion when it comes to collecting copays so that cost won’t be a barrier.
Sema Verma: (51:15)
This is a part of our larger efforts around mitigation and as we are encouraging Americans to stay home whenever possible, we don’t want our Medicare policies getting in the way. So consider the implications of this.
Sema Verma: (51:27)
Perhaps an elderly patient with diabetes needs routine checkup and this has nothing to do with the Coronavirus. So with our new telehealth benefits, this person who’s not really, who’s at risk for the Coronavirus doesn’t have to venture outside their home. They can talk to their doctor via Skype and they don’t have to risk exposure to the virus and they can receive that care from the safety of their own home.
Sema Verma: (51:52)
It could be another Medicare recipient who’s experiencing mild flu-like symptoms and instead of leaving the house and sitting in a waiting room full of other vulnerable people, they can also receive advice from their doctor from their home. This shift is very important for clinicians and providers who over the coming weeks, will face considerable strain on their time and resources.
Sema Verma: (52:15)
Now Medicare patients who don’t absolutely need to come in to an office won’t have to and this allows the healthcare system to prioritize for care for those that have more needs are in dire need and preserves protective equipment as well.
Sema Verma: (52:32)
State Medicaid agencies can also provide telehealth services without federal approval and so we’re asking all states to make this available as well. We’ve also asked private insurance companies to expand their telehealth benefits and make it clear to their providers and their members what they cover.
Sema Verma: (52:49)
As our nation seeks to balance the twin imperatives of getting Americans the care that they need during this outbreak and limiting the spread of the virus, the impact of this historic action simply cannot be overstated. In an emergency, those on the frontline shouldn’t have to worry about federal rules and red tape hamstringing them when they need flexibility above all else and we’re doing everything in our power to make sure that that doesn’t happen.
Sema Verma: (53:15)
Also, just want to briefly mention that because of the president’s emergency declaration, we do have the ability to provide a lot of Medicaid waivers and Florida was the first state to be approved. We were able to do that in a matter of days. Thank you.
Donald Trump: (53:28)
Speaker 58: (53:30)
Where do senior citizens go for instructions on how to do the telehealth?
Sema Verma: (53:34)
They should call their doctor’s office and their doctor’s office can tell them how to do that. Also, there may be some of our Medicare members that may not have access to equipment so we’re asking family members to help with this, but also respecting the requirements around social distancing and if any of those family members or neighbors have symptoms, they should obviously stay away.
Donald Trump: (53:53)
Will you be posting numbers also?
Sema Verma: (53:55)
Donald Trump: (53:55)
That might be the easiest way to do it.
Sema Verma: (53:57)
Donald Trump: (53:57)
If you post in ads, if you post some numbers.
Sema Verma: (54:00)
They can also call our 1-800-MEDICARE number and they can also get…
Speaker 59: (54:03)
They can also call our 1-800-MEDICARE number. They can also get information. Those phone lines are open.
Donald Trump: (54:07)
Thank you. Thank you very much. Admiral, if you’d say a few words about where we’re going. Then I’d like to ask Dr. Birx to say a couple of words, but how the system’s working?
Admiral Giroir: (54:17)
Well, thank you very much. As we talked about earlier this week, the commercial system is rapidly advancing in the testing capabilities. As of today, our public health laboratories, meaning the CDC and the public health labs, have reported out 31,878 tests, so almost 32,000 tests. The clinical laboratories, the Association of Clinical Laboratories, have reported out about 27,000 tests. Most importantly of those 27,000 during the cumulative period of time, 8,200 of them were yesterday. This is showing the dramatic ramp as the high throughput comes in. We don’t have the numbers this morning from the American Hospital Association, which means all the individual hospital laboratories we will have that upcoming in the next day or so. Then Ambassador Birx will have this whole process fixed under with the legislation that everything will roll up into a common reporting probably by the end of next week.
Admiral Giroir: (55:18)
In terms of our drive-thru laboratories, again, these are blossoming all over the country by individual states. The ones that we are heavily involved in and really pushing equipment to, we expect over the next few days to begin setting up 47 of these in approximately 12 states. The material is already palletized and being shipped to the locations. Most cities have the specific locations. Some do not, but it’s still gone to a central receiving. We know that we’ll be deploying at least 140 commissioned corps officers. About half of the sites have reported their requirements. About 140 officers will be going. We expect that to go up. This is going on the way we expected.
Admiral Giroir: (56:03)
We did a trial site yesterday with a full mobile unit for drive-thru with full PPE. We had a lot of kinks in the system as you can expect. That’s why we do a test before we go out into the field. Don’t expect these to be 100% perfect the moment they come. They’re going to be adapted to the state and the local situation. But we’re very confident that these will add testing to the already very robust healthcare system and commercial system. Thank you, Mr. President.
Donald Trump: (56:30)
Thank you very much. Thank you, Admiral. This has never been done before. It sets a great roadmap for our future should we have something like this in the future. I hope we don’t, but it’s never been done before. They’ve done an incredible job. But again, we’re working with the states and relying on the states. We have to because it’s point of sale, its point of sight. We’re in I think just about every instance getting along really well with the states. If I could, Dr. Birx, if you could say a couple of words, please?
Doctor Birx: (57:00)
Great. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. President. I think what you’ve been hearing from us is to find solutions that are high quality and sustainable based on the front line workers and governor’s request. Those come in on the governor’s call. We’ve been immediately responsive to those. That’s the level of red tape and bureaucracy that we have removed.
Doctor Birx: (57:23)
I think that point about sustainability and quality is very important because as the President says, we’re creating a roadmap for a different level of functionality for future pandemics. Our flu pandemic preparedness plan was a plan. Now we are seeing where we have to revise, where we have to create new avenues of research and new avenues of work to really ensure that the need of the American people can be reached. We were adamant about having a high-quality test based on our commercial vendors. Over the next few months, you will begin to see that other tests that were utilized around the world were not of the same quality resulting in false positives and potentially false negatives. These tests were studied and studied by the FDA to really ensure that they are that level of quality. We’ve given the states the permission to ensure that same level of quality.
Doctor Birx: (58:19)
Now, I wanted to say one minute on the testing. Testing should not be used as an assessment of your risk. We are asking every single American, no matter what your generation, from Z and up to X and millennials in between, to really ensure that you’re following these guidelines. We hear every night of people who are not in work moving that time into bars and other areas of large gatherings. If we continue with that process, we will fail in containing this virus. Every single generation has a role to play. We’re asking our older generation to stay in their homes. We’re asking the younger generations to support them in social contacting through videos and other Skype-type functions or just the simple telephone. We’re asking the younger generations to stop going out in public places to bars and restaurants and spreading asymptomatic virus onto countertops and knobs and grocery stores and grocery carts.
Doctor Birx: (59:23)
I heard an innovation last night and this morning again on the news. I really want to apply the private sector who are now creating senior-only shopping times. I think that’s extraordinary. I think that shows what America brings. I think other countries will learn from us about how to really protect seniors in this type of way. I’m hoping that carries through to next year when we have our flu epidemic where we can really have a very different profile of the amount of mortality that we have during flu that we never talk about. Anywhere from 15,000 to 45,000 individuals are lost every year. If we learn how to do this well and sustain some of those core changes, we can change the way respiratory viruses, not only for this, but the future affect Americans.
Donald Trump: (01:00:12)
It’s a big thing. Doctor, maybe a couple of questions?
Speaker 60: (01:00:16)
A question on the clinical data. We’ve had now roughly 5,000 people test positive. We’ve had 90 deaths or so. When are we going to know the data of who those people are? Who has been infected? What the ages are? What the preexisting conditions are? How serious it was both for those who have been tested positive but also those who have died?
Doctor Birx: (01:00:40)
You are singing my sheet of music. I’m very data-oriented. Thank you for bringing up this issue of data. I really want to applaud HHS. We had a discussion about this several days ago. They’ve made calls into Seattle and California to really understand that and also importantly to understand how many of their patients needed ventilators, how many of them needed oxygen support, how many of them needed and what they needed. Could we predict early someone who was going to have a more difficult course? These are all the questions we’re asking right and answering right now.
Doctor Birx: (01:01:16)
We did get an early report back from Santa Clara and Seattle. We’re digesting it. We just got it this morning. We’re looking at that carefully because we think that roadmap is very important to other communities. We have not discussed this with New York yet. We do know from other countries and that all is available online, that profile. You can see that mortality under 30 is extraordinarily low. The mortality across the board outside of Wuhan is now settling somewhere around 0.7, but that should not be reassuring because it’s much higher in people with preexisting medical conditions, even if young, and people that are older with preexisting medical conditions. We still want every American focused on doing what they can do today to change the course of this pandemic.
Speaker 60: (01:02:04)
Will you commit to making that data public so we will all know?
Doctor Birx: (01:02:07)
We’re committed not only to making it public, but to have a website that everyone can see in realtime.
Speaker 61: (01:02:13)
Dr. Birx, if I could just follow up. You all are signaling a much more aggressive posture toward containment mitigation now. Many states have been very aggressive, but there is a small number of states that have not issued public guidance to their residents. Is it important for the success of the effort that 100% of the states be forward-leaning on this? If so, Mr. President, what would be your message to those states that have not?
Doctor Birx: (01:02:45)
That’s why the Vice President and the President yesterday issued those critical guidelines. As I said this morning on Fox & Friends, you can look at them as guidelines. You can look at them as requirements and you can look at him as the President asking every American in every state to follow those. That’s why we put them out at the federal level. We wanted to make sure every American knew what they could do today to change the course of this epidemic.
Doctor Birx: (01:03:11)
I think it’s empowering. I think it says all of us have a social responsibility to each other. That’s why we believe that every mayor and every governor should be instituting these guidelines that came from the White House and the President of the United States,
Donald Trump: (01:03:28)
We’ve been very tough on those states. I know exactly who you’re talking about. We’ve been very tough on them. Thank you. Please, go ahead.
Speaker 62: (01:03:35)
Just a follow-up question on the testing. You’ve been telling us for days now that millions of tests have been sent out. Why have fewer than 60,000 people actually been tested?
Doctor Birx: (01:03:43)
I think you will see different numbers this week. You’ve heard just at 8,000. Remember all of these tests, the high-speed tests were approved last Friday night and last Thursday night. I think if I could talk to Thermo Fisher and the other groups that have these platforms out there. Do not rely on a pull technology. Push out those tests because we can only make them available, groups have to order them. We’ve been talking to Thermo Fisher, one of the key platforms to push out tests based on need and not wait for orders.
Speaker 62: (01:04:20)
Is that where the issue is getting the tests out or is it getting the test conducted?
Doctor Birx: (01:04:25)
That’s a great question. I know part of it is getting the test out right now. I think the Admiral and others are working on getting the issues related to getting the test conducted. Obviously, that does take time. He is working on innovative solutions that are creative and sustainable that will be a game changer in testing, but we don’t have the data yet. This is a critical comparitor. Can you do it yourself? Can you actually sample yourself? These are the kinds of things we’re working on right now. He’s getting the data for us.
Mike Pence: (01:04:55)
It’s coming on line every day.
Donald Trump: (01:04:56)
The states are actually doing a lot of it. The governors and the states are doing a lot of it with even our tests. Yeah, go ahead. Go ahead, please.
Speaker 63: (01:05:05)
Thank you. Can you give us a sense of how long these tough new restrictions will need to be in place until we start to see the rate of this virus going down? Also, can you speak to this study that as many as 2.2 million people in the United States could die if there weren’t this type of action by the government taken? To what extent did that prompt what we saw yesterday?
Doctor Birx: (01:05:27)
I think models are models. They’re based on input. They’re based on infectiousness without any controls. I can tell you we’ve never seen that level of infections that modeled up to that 2.2 million in mortality. We are looking at that. We are having a particularly model meeting tomorrow. I think that’s really going to be important. I’ve dealt with a lot of modelers in my time. They’re wonderful people, but they all have their favorite inputs and they all have their favorite integration functions. We’re evaluating all of those so we can integrate and create the best model for the United States based on the best data. That first set of recommendations you saw were based on what we could do today to prevent anything that looks like that.
Doctor Birx: (01:06:13)
If I could just say one other thing to the hospitals and dentists out there. Things that don’t need to be done over the next two weeks, don’t get it done. If you’re a person with an elective surgery, you don’t want to go into a hospital right now. There’s a lot of distraction. There’s a lot of people doing a lot of other things to save people’s lives. Let’s all be responsible and cancel things that we can cancel to really free up hospital beds and space. Then let’s do everything that we can to ensure that we don’t need the ventilators because we’ve protected the people who would have needed to use them.
Speaker 63: (01:06:50)
Are you looking at the possibility of more actions like for example, limiting travel within the United States? Are you looking-
Donald Trump: (01:06:55)
It’s possible. It’s possible. We’ll see how it goes. There’s been great cooperation with the local governments, states. We’ll see how it goes. It’s going right now pretty well. Yeah. Please, go ahead.
Speaker 63: (01:07:08)
Can I have a follow on that, Mr. President, very quickly, just very quickly?
Donald Trump: (01:07:09)
Speaker 63: (01:07:11)
Do you need to invoke the Defense Production Act to get more of those medical supplies to different hospitals across-
Donald Trump: (01:07:16)
We’re able to do that if we have to. Right now we haven’t had to, but it’s certainly ready if I want it. We can do it very quickly. We’ve studied it very closely over two weeks ago, actually. We’ll make that decision pretty quickly if we need it. We hope we don’t need it. It’s a big step.
Speaker 63: (01:07:31)
Because the states really need more help from the federal government when it comes to those supplies.
Donald Trump: (01:07:33)
When you say the states-
Speaker 63: (01:07:34)
What do you say to those governors?
Donald Trump: (01:07:35)
In particular, three states need some help. Some states have two people, three people, no people. In the case of, again, West Virginia. We’re looking at it very closely. We’ve taken it apart 15 different ways. It’s a very difficult thing to do. It’s a very big step. If we need that step, we’ll take it. Okay.
Quick follow up the first question, a lot of people have got travel to places that aren’t considered hotspots, the Caribbean, Mexico, that sort of thing over the next few weeks. Would you recommend that they follow through with those plans?
Donald Trump: (01:08:06)
I would just say enjoy your home, stay. I would just say right now we have to get this problem fixed and then we’ll get back into business really quick. We’ll open up our country. We’ll open up our society. The world will hopefully open up. We see areas of the world that haven’t done well. We see areas that are doing very well. I would put us in the category of doing very well for a country so big. I think that I would recommend that they just enjoy their living room.
Donald Trump: (01:08:39)
Yeah, go ahead please.
Speaker 64: (01:08:40)
What do you say to people who are not heeding these guidelines from the White House? Then also I have a question on asymptomatic people for Doctor Birx.
Donald Trump: (01:08:49)
I’m not happy with those people if they’re not, but those people are being shouted down by other people. They know it. It’s almost like self-policing. People went in. There were a couple of instances, I guess, probably more than a couple of where people are not happy when they see others doing what they’re not supposed to be doing. We have to get rid of this. We have to win this war and ideally quickly, quickly. Because the longer it takes, it’s not a good situation. I’m not even talking about the economy. I’m talking about the lives of a lot of people.
Donald Trump: (01:09:19)
Yeah, please. Did you have one?
Speaker 65: (01:09:20)
Will the White House put any restrictions on corporate bonuses for companies that do get bailed out like airlines?
Donald Trump: (01:09:28)
I think I’m going to ask Mike, answer that question.
Mike Pence: (01:09:32)
I think it’s all a work in progress. What President Trump has made clear to industries around the country is that we’re going to do whatever it takes. We understand this is an extraordinary moment in the life of our nation. It’s the reason why the President brought in leaders of the financial sector, the airline industry. He’ll meet with all additional industry leaders today in tourism and hospitality. But he has tasked the Secretary of the Treasury to work with members of Congress in both parties to make sure that we construct the kind of economic support that will allow those industries to weather the period of the coronavirus and then to come back stronger than ever before.
Speaker 66: (01:10:12)
Question for Dr. Fauci.
Donald Trump: (01:10:13)
We’ve had so much incredible … I don’t know. It’s almost the word spirit is the best word. It’s like a spirit.
Mike Pence: (01:10:21)
Donald Trump: (01:10:21)
The banks have come in. The banks are doing things that they would’ve never done. They’re working on extensions and lots of things that they wouldn’t have done. Copays with regard to the insurance companies, I mean for them to be doing what they’re doing. You know all about the copays. They would have never done that. They did it. They were in my office. I would say the 11 biggest in this country, I guess probably the 11 biggest of the world. The big ones, all the big ones. They did things on copay that nobody would be doing that they wouldn’t have done in a million years, but they’re doing it. There’s a great spirit going on right now in the country. You want to … yes, please.
Speaker 66: (01:10:56)
Question for Dr. Fauci. Dr. Fauci, you’ve said you liked being accused of overreacting because that is an indication we may be doing things necessary to beat this, bend the curve.
Dr. Fauci: (01:11:09)
Speaker 66: (01:11:10)
How long do you think it will take for you to be confident that yes, we’re bending the curve or no, we’re not?
Dr. Fauci: (01:11:18)
I can’t give you a firm number on that because the dynamics of outbreaks in some respects are predictable historically. They do this and that. We don’t know because this is really unprecedented. I mean of all the outbreaks that I’ve been involved with over the last at least 36 years and then going historically back, we’ve never had a situation where the mobilization of all the different components, travel restrictions, internal containment, mitigation, financial assistance, public health assistance, testing. We don’t really know.
Dr. Fauci: (01:11:52)
But the one thing I do know, I do know that if you look at models with all of their vicissitudes of models is that when you have input into the kinds of mitigations and things that we’re doing, we’re going to see a hump instead of a peak. I would be really surprised if all the things that we’re doing, and this is really a comprehensive approach. I was struck as I was listening to everyone make their presentations. I’m a scientist. I’m a health person. I’m a physician who sees patients. I look at it from one particular standpoint. But what I’m being impressed by is that this is really a comprehensive thing that has multiple components to it. All of them got to succeed if we’re going to get to that end point that I’ve described multiple times from this podium. I hope that if everyone does their job, we’re going to be able to give you a number and say, “We’ve seen that inflection and we’re coming down. I would hesitate to do it now to be honest with you because it might be misleading and I don’t want to be misleading. I just want to say one other thing because I heard Dr. Birx say it. I think we need to say it over and over again. When I was young a long time ago, I felt that I was invulnerable the way I think many of us feel we’re invulnerable. When we’re asking the young people to help us with this mitigation strategy by staying out of the bars, staying out of the restaurants, really trying to distance yourself. Don’t get the attitude, “I’m young. I’m invulnerable.” In some respects, you’re certainly less vulnerable than I am. However, what you might inadvertently do, and I know you don’t want to do that, you don’t want to put your loved ones at risk, particularly the ones who are elderly and the ones who have compromised conditions. We can’t do this without the young people cooperating. Please cooperate with us. Thank you.
Speaker 67: (01:13:53)
Dr. Fauci, and I’m going to read my notes so I’ll get this right, but there apparently a new study out of China. It found that the vast majority of cases, 86%, were untested patients with mild to no symptoms. What does that say about the impact of testing? Does it mean that testing should actually go beyond the sickest patients?
Dr. Fauci: (01:14:15)
That question keeps coming up. I’m not going to evade the question, but I want to make a point. We tend to think that we’re not going to be able to mitigate or contain without testing. They compliment each other in some respects, but they’re separate channels. Even if we had no testing, we should be doing what we’re doing now. The question you’re asking so I won’t evade is specifically, “Would it be important outside of a doctor, a patient coming in together of knowing what’s out there, what might be under the radar screen?”
Dr. Fauci: (01:14:47)
The answer to your question is yes. Let me tell you what the CDC is doing right now. They’re going out there and part of their program is to get a feel for what is there that wasn’t initially thought to be coronavirus, that was thought to be something else. When you do that, you’re also going to get a feel of what the penetrance is in society. We are heading with the high-throughput things that you’ve been hearing about to get an answer to your question.
Speaker 68: (01:15:15)
Dr. Fauci, Governor Cuomo said this morning he believes that we’ll see a peak in terms of infection in 45 days. Would you concur with that?
Dr. Fauci: (01:15:25)
You know it’s possible. I know that the Governor has been really, I believe doing a really good job of trying to stay ahead of this. 45 days is not unreasonable. You have to be careful when you get a number. You own the number and then if the number doesn’t come out, you’re in trouble. That’s the reason why from our standpoint, from the federal government, we’re talking about a range. Within that range, it isn’t like you want to be correct for the sake of being correct, but you don’t want to be wed to something and then have to back off.
Donald Trump: (01:15:56)
Go ahead, please.
Speaker 69: (01:15:58)
When is the soonest that we’ll know that these new guidelines are actually bending the curve and are actually working? Is there a point in time where in the next couple of weeks where you’ll be able to tell the President more draconian measures are needed?
Dr. Fauci: (01:16:16)
What’s happening, I mean if you look as a metaphor, it’s kind of like a race against the virus. If left to its own devices will do this and us trying to somehow blunt that. Now you could see the virus going up and up and your effect, your work, what you’re trying to do, may actually be having an effect. But you may not see it because it’ll still be going up. As you’re trying to implement your interference with the virus, you may not realize that you are actually interfering.
Dr. Fauci: (01:16:49)
You’ll say, “Wait a minute. It’s still going up. What’s going on? You’ve done nothing.” But you don’t know whether it would do this versus that. The answer to your question, it probably would be several weeks and maybe longer before we know whether we’re having an effect. It may be at the end of the day we’ll see a curve that would have been way, way up, but I wouldn’t put us to task every few days. “Wait a minute? It’s going up. Is it working or not?” That would be really misleading if we do that.
Donald Trump: (01:17:19)
Go ahead, please.
Speaker 70: (01:17:20)
Dr. Fauci, I have a question regarding the 15-day guidelines which were announced yesterday. One of those guidelines was a recommendation against gatherings of 10 or more people. Today, the governor of Alabama issued her own guidelines. It was a recommendation against gatherings of 25 or more people. What is your recommendation for people of Alabama, people across all of the country as far as the guidelines that were announced yesterday by the federal government?
Dr. Fauci: (01:17:53)
One thing we don’t want to do is to get hung up on the difference between 10 and 25. I think you might agree with that. When we give guidelines, they’re only guidelines. We sit down. We look at the data. As Dr. Birx said, we’re data-driven. We say, “On different models, 10 looks good.” If someone wants to do 25, we’re not going to fault them. But if someone wants to come to us and ask us what we think the best is, we stand by the numbers. It isn’t perfect. It isn’t precise math. It’s assumptions and it’s data that make you get your decision.
Speaker 70: (01:18:30)
But would it be more effective if every state and every city in the country was playing by the same rules-
Dr. Fauci: (01:18:33)
Speaker 70: (01:18:34)
… instead of different?
Dr. Fauci: (01:18:34)
Of course, but this is the United States of America. There’s a lot of free enterprise there. People do their own thing. Quite frankly, I don’t think there’s a big deal difference between 10 and 25. We got many, many more important things to worry about than that difference.
Speaker 71: (01:18:49)
Mr. President, I thank you. What about the supply chains and then talking about preparedness for the future? Yesterday Larry Kudlow said that there was an idea of floating around the administration to cut taxes for companies who would be bringing their supply chains back to United States. He said he specifically liked immediate 100% write-offs for structures, equipment. But he said you hadn’t endorsed that yet. Would you endorse an idea like that?
Donald Trump: (01:19:11)
We’re looking at many ideas. That’s one of them, frankly. We’re looking at creating incentives for companies. Not only that type of company, but other companies. We’re also looking to help companies such as the airline industry, within the airline industry. We’ll be doing that. We will be doing that. This is not their fault. They’ve been very understanding actually. We’re going to be helping them. We will have a very powerful airline industry. It’ll start up as soon as this is over. We’ll have those planes ready to go. We have to help them during the short term. It’s very important.
Donald Trump: (01:19:45)
Speaker 72: (01:19:46)
Thank you, Mr. President. I wanted to know, have you taken a look at some of these models such as the Imperial College London model? That kind of poses a very difficult choice, whether it’s shutting down society or overwhelming the healthcare system? Is that something that you been considering?
Donald Trump: (01:20:01)
We’ve looked at every model. We’ve relied on the very talented people and there’s no better team than the people behind me. I will say that all of the people that have done those models are all in constant touch with Dr. Birx and Tony and everybody that you’ve been hearing so much from over the last couple of weeks. We’ve looked at many different models. The model we have is we want to save a lot of lives. We want to save a lot of lives. If we get too steep on that curve, you’re going to lose a lot of lives, perhaps unnecessarily.
Donald Trump: (01:20:32)
Now we’re going to find out, everything has a risk. We’re going to see. But if people do what we’re telling them to do, what we’re asking them to do, you’re going to see the saving of a lot of lives. Now, Boris, in UK yesterday, you saw what happened. It looked like they were going a different way, but then he went away of similar, I guess similar, I don’t know exactly. But I would say we had a conversation yesterday similar to what we’re doing. A lot of people seem to think this is going to be … we are looking to save the maximum number of lives.
Donald Trump: (01:21:02)
We are looking to save the maximum number of lives. Everything else is going to come back. A life is never going to come back, but everything else, our economy is going to come roaring back. You’re going to know. We’re going to know. We’re going to all know that day. Somebody was asking about the day. When will you know? When will you know? We’re going to know. All of a sudden we’re going to say, “Wow, that’s looking good. That’s looking good. That’s looking good.” We’re going to be on the other side of the curve, and that’s a day that we look forward to. Okay?
Speaker 73: (01:21:25)
Is there something, sir, that you saw this week though that that made you decide that, yes, now is the time to implement these much more stringent social-distancing measures? This week [crosstalk 01:21:37]
Donald Trump: (01:21:36)
No, I don’t think so. This is where we’re going. I really think from the beginning, this is where we were going. This is what we had in mind. We’re just going step by step. That was the next step. The next logical step as Dr. Fauci said and I think very importantly, one of the most important things when you write the history of this was the fact that we closed it down to China and Europe, but in particular China, we closed it down to China, the source very, very early, very, very early, far earlier than even the great professionals wanted to do. I think in the end that’s going to be, that will have saved a tremendous number of lives.
Speaker 74: (01:22:14)
A quick follow-up, one on the economy and the other on the broader picture here, but just to follow up on my colleague, some people did note that your tone seemed more somber yesterday. You talked about that August timeline. Did you see a projection? Some people thought perhaps that two million potentially that could die, maybe prompted part of that. Was there a shift in tone?
Donald Trump: (01:22:35)
I mean I have seen that where people actually liked it, but I didn’t feel different. I’ve always known this is a pandemic. I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic. All you had to do is look at other countries. I think now it’s in almost 120 countries all over the world. No, I’ve always viewed it as very series. There was no difference yesterday from days before. I feel the tone is similar, but some people said it wasn’t.
Speaker 74: (01:23:03)
Last one of the economy. Your former economic advisor said almost a 100% chance of a recession. Do you see it that way?
Donald Trump: (01:23:10)
It could be. I mean, I don’t think in terms of recession. I think in terms of getting it out, because when we’re finished with the virus, we will win. We will win, and when that victory takes place, our economy’s going to go through the roof. It is so pent up. It is so built up. It is so ready to go in an upward direction, but we have to knock out this enemy. This is a really tough enemy, but we have to knock out, all of us. That’s all of us. I don’t think in terms of recession, not recession, it’s words. We have to knock out this and we will have an economy. I actually think we’ll have an economy like we’ve never had before. It’s all pent up. Did you have something say Mike?
Donald Trump: (01:23:46)
Mike Pence: (01:23:47)
Well, I think the question about the actions that the president’s authorized beginning in January when he took the unprecedented step of suspending all travel from China, the efforts to issue travel advisories for portions of Italy and South Korea and then to begin screening all the passengers, the efforts regarding suspending travel from Europe and what went into effect at midnight last night, adding the UK and Ireland to that have all been informed by the experts that are surrounding us. What the president’s asked us to do from the very beginning as a Dr. Burks and Dr. Fauci often say is let’s follow the data, bring the president the best options in response to what is actually happening on the ground.
Mike Pence: (01:24:33)
But with regard to yesterday’s 15-day slow the spread plan, our team unanimously brought to the president these very strong recommendations for every American because we truly believe we are at a point in this epidemic in our country when we can reduce the number of people that actually are exposed to or contract the coronavirus. But we’ll continue to bring the best data, the best evidence, and the best recommendations, frankly, of the best health experts in the world, and the president will continue to make decisions that put the health of America first.
Donald Trump: (01:25:11)
In other words, reduce the number of people that die. That’s what we’re trying to do. When you do the steep curve, a lot of people are going to die. A lot of people. The worst ever, they say 1918, and I don’t have to go into the numbers, but they were unbelievable numbers. Had they known and had they done what we had now, it would’ve been a very much different story. It would still be tragic, but it would have been a very much different. But that was the one that people write about. That was an incredible pandemic like we haven’t seen, but we have done something that, I hope, hopefully we will all have made the right moves. We’re all in this together including you and we want to see fair press.
Donald Trump: (01:25:57)
I’ll tell you what it’s been, generally speaking, I think it’s been a great thing to see. Getting along with Democrats getting along with Republicans for the Democrats themselves. There’s been a lot of spirit. There’s been a lot of things happening that I haven’t seen happen in the first almost now three and a half years. It’s been very nice to see. That’s one of the good things, but really the good thing is we have to knock it out. We have to win and we want to keep that slope as low as possible because that’s a lot of lives in there. Let’s go back there for somebody that didn’t get one, please. Go ahead.
Speaker 75: (01:26:34)
Mr. President, this is had a huge impact on China’s economy as well. Have you received any indication from officials there that they’re going to have trouble meeting the purchase agreements part of the phase-one deal, particularly the agricultural buy?
Donald Trump: (01:26:47)
Well, they need our product very badly. No, I haven’t received any. Good relationship with China. I have not received anything to that. No, we have a signed agreement. They’re going to be buying and they have been buying a lot of product.
Donald Trump: (01:26:59)
Speaker 76: (01:27:00)
Earlier today Dr. Burks was talking about the possibility of our hospital system being overburdened, overtaxed and she talked about the certain options that are available to the United States if that happens, including VA hospitals, Department of Defense, medical treatment facilities, and even hospitals shifts. At what point do you tap into those options?
Donald Trump: (01:27:22)
Well, I’ll know the point by speaking with Governor Cuomo and other governors, we’re going to know the points. It’s going to be different for New York then it’s going to be for Iowa or from Idaho or from West Virginia, frankly, or for any. It’s different. New York has got a big problem. The state of Washington has a big problem. California has some big problems. Everyone’s doing a good job, but we’re going to know when it will be.
Donald Trump: (01:27:47)
I believe it’ll be more spot that it will be, it’s not going to be the whole thing. It’s going to be spots. There are some hotspots that are in trouble, big trouble, and there are other areas that are in no trouble at all. They watch it on television. They don’t know. It’s just not affecting them. They’re lucky. They’re lucky. But there are areas of the country that don’t have much of a problem and some that don’t have any problem, they’re not going to have a problem with hospitals. But some areas like New York, California, state of Washington, they’re going to have some difficulty. When we see that coming, we’re going to be in there. We’re already making preparation for it.
Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, your trade advisor Peter Navarro had been recommending an executive order that would ensure that the raw materials for pharmaceuticals and medical devices are manufactured here in the United States. We were getting some indications last week that you were close to signing this executive order. Can you tell us where you are on that?
Donald Trump: (01:28:42)
Well, we’re looking at different things, John. I don’t want to say exactly right now. China has been sending us everything we need but we’re looking at some alternatives. Yes, we are looking for alternatives.
Donald Trump: (01:28:53)
And we have other places. Ireland does a lot of work for us. You know that. In that world, in the pharma world. A very tremendous producer and we are looking to bring a lot more back home.
Donald Trump: (01:29:06)
Excuse me, you know me for a long time, I’ve been talking about this for many years, long before I decided to run for president, I’ve been talking about this. We have to be able to take care of our country and that was one of the many things on the list, so we’ll be talking about it. But we are discussing it and Marco is very much involved and Peter is very much involved. A lot of people are involved. A lot of people feel that way. But we’ll be discussing. Let’s go, please.
Speaker 77: (01:29:32)
Thank you, sir. Canada has closed its borders to non-citizens, are you considering-
Donald Trump: (01:29:38)
Not to the United States.
Speaker 77: (01:29:39)
Not to the United States, of course. Are you considering closing the land borders in the United States? Also you’ve discussed-
Donald Trump: (01:29:43)
Well, Canada has not closed it to the United States.
Speaker 77: (01:29:45)
Donald Trump: (01:29:45)
We’re working very closely with Canada. But they have not closed it. They have closed it to the world, but they have not closed it to the United States.
Speaker 77: (01:29:52)
Are considering closing the US land borders?
Donald Trump: (01:29:54)
I don’t want to say that, but we are discussing things with Canada and we’re discussing things with Mexico, quite honestly. Again, the relationship is outstanding with both. Outstanding. We just signed our deal, USMCA, and the relationship is very strong.
Donald Trump: (01:30:10)
Go ahead, please.
Speaker 78: (01:30:13)
China and others have criticized you for using the phrase “Chinese virus.” How do you feel about that? Are you going to continue using that phrase?
Donald Trump: (01:30:21)
Well, China was putting out information, which was false, that our military gave this to them. That was false. Rather than having an argument, I said I have to call it where it came from. It did come from China. I think it’s a very accurate term. But no, I didn’t appreciate the fact that China was saying that our military gave it to them. Our military did not give it to anybody.
Speaker 78: (01:30:45)
Critics say using that phrase creates a stigma.
Donald Trump: (01:30:47)
No, I don’t think so. No. I think saying that our military gave it to them creates a stigma.
Donald Trump: (01:30:55)
Speaker 79: (01:30:56)
When you speak to travel and tourism executives today, what specific help are you going to offer to them if at all? Or is it still vague?
Donald Trump: (01:31:05)
Well, we’re going to help. They need help. Look, let’s face it. You know they go from having record-breaking years. This is the third year of record-breaking years. Travel and tourism, airlines, everything. They were doing record numbers, ordering new planes, building new hotels. Everything was really a hunky dory. Then one day we hear about this rumor in China and then we find out it’s much more than a rumor and then all of a sudden we make a great decision to close it up early. It would be a whole different world. It would be a whole different world, but we make a decision to close it up to China and all of a sudden tourism. Then we close it up to Europe, which people never heard of this before. I’m not sure that that’s ever been done. I know that when I made the decision to close it China people told me that’s never been done before, but it was a great decision.
Donald Trump: (01:31:55)
We make good decisions. I’ll tell you my best decision. The people behind me are total pros. All over the world, they’re respected. Dr. Burks, Anthony, who’s become a … Where’s Anthony. He’s become a major television star for all the right reasons. No, he’s just so professional, so good. The people that we have working here have been incredible. They’re totally respected.
Donald Trump: (01:32:21)
The admiral has been incredible having to do with the testing. Incredible. He’s viewing this as testing also for the future. We’re building a platform. When we took over this platform, first thing the admiral said was “This was not designed for what we’re talking about. Millions of people.” It wasn’t.
Donald Trump: (01:32:38)
It’s nobody’s fault. It’s not like who could have ever predicted a thing like this? But we broke it down and it’s really going to be an incredible system. It is now a great system.
Donald Trump: (01:32:47)
I just want to say these are incredible people standing behind me. They’re the most respected in the world. Every country that you’ve mentioned today so far has called them and they call them all the time for advice. There’s nobody better than what we have.
Speaker 80: (01:33:04)
Why haven’t we seen Dr. Redfield the last couple of days?
Donald Trump: (01:33:06)
I don’t know. I can’t imagine.
Speaker 81: (01:33:08)
He’s in Atlanta running the CDC. [crosstalk 01:33:10]
Donald Trump: (01:33:10)
I can tell you he’s doing a good job. We’re very happy with him.
Donald Trump: (01:33:15)
Please, you have it. Go ahead.
Speaker 82: (01:33:16)
Mr. President, yesterday we were being told that the payroll tax was going to comprise the lion’s share of the fiscal stimulus.
Donald Trump: (01:33:24)
Speaker 82: (01:33:24)
We also had the markets fall quite dramatically yesterday. Did that inform your-
Donald Trump: (01:33:33)
It wasn’t about the payroll tax.
Speaker 82: (01:33:34)
Did that inform your decision? What made you make that change and when did you make that change?
Donald Trump: (01:33:41)
Well, I didn’t make a change. We’re looking at payroll tax and we’re looking at various other forms of getting money to people. The payroll tax is something that I’ve always liked. The problem is, it does take a period of time, months before they really see something. We don’t really have months in terms of people living. You have people that work on tips. It’s a large number of people. Who would think this, right? And they do nicely. They work very hard, but they work on tips. We have to take care of our people. We don’t want to have people suffering during this period. It wasn’t their fault that this thing all of a sudden was upon us. We’re looking at various, we’re also looking at payroll tax. It’s possible. It’s also possible we’ll do a percentage of payroll tax and then other things. But we’d like to be able to get money to people. We’re very lucky. Our country’s doing so well. We can do this and we can do it easily, but we have to do it. I have to say Mitch McConnell, if you look at Mitch and Kevin and the whole group and it’s been incredible how they’re reacting, how Congress is reacting, whether it’s the House or Senate, how they’re moving. I’m talking about Democrats and Republicans, but we’ve had a tremendous leadership meetings and they want to see it done right, and they do want to go big.
Donald Trump: (01:34:58)
I think going big is important. I don’t think we want to go up there every day with a different idea, a different concept. Oh gee, let’s worry about the airlines. Let’s do this one. You have a big problem with the cruise ship industry. It’s an industry that we’re setting all sorts of records two months ago. Then all of a sudden there’s nobody on the ships. Okay? We have to help these. These are great industry. These are going to be taking care of people and passengers and for years to come and paying tremendous taxes, tremendous taxes for years to come. We have to make sure that this is done.
Donald Trump: (01:35:29)
Mr. President, I want to bring up what you referred to just a short while ago about politics. In your address to the nation, you said we have to put politics aside, stop the partisanship and unify together, but this morning you criticize the Democratic governor of Michigan. Yesterday, it was the Democratic governor of New York. You’ve attacked Obama. You attacked Biden. In fact, every day except one since that address you’ve lashed out a Democratic leader. Are you going to set the example?
Donald Trump: (01:35:59)
I only do that when I have to respond. I watched her on television. She said something that was false and therefore I did do that and I will continue to do that. If they’re not going to play fair because you know they have the media on their side. I don’t. I just have me. If they’re not going to play fair, I’m going to do that. If they are going to play fair, there’s going to be nobody.
Donald Trump: (01:36:19)
There’s going to be nobody better than Donald Trump in terms of a bipartisanship. But if they’re going to say things that are false, like the story that was written yesterday. A lot of people, I don’t know somebody, I think I know who, but they taped the conference call that I had with the governors. It was a good call. It was fine. I assume somebody’s going to tape it. They handed it to various people and one of them was the New York Times and the New York Times chose to write totally inaccurately about it. It was a disgraceful thing. It was bad journalism, but they do a lot of bad journalism. But we respond to that, and actually people get it. People get it. No, I want it to be bipartisan and nobody’s going to be better than me, but when they attack me or the people, these incredible people behind me, I’m not going to let them get away with that. I can’t do that.
Donald Trump: (01:37:05)
Okay. How about one or two more questions? Go ahead, please. Please.
Speaker 74: (01:37:09)
You said that the 15-day guidelines was the next natural step. Is the next natural step after that a national lockdown, similar to what San Francisco is doing?
Donald Trump: (01:37:16)
Well, you can do a national lockdown. Hopefully, we’re not going to need that. We think of everything. I mean we have every idea that you mentioned we’ve thought of. It’s a very big step. That’s a step that, I mean in one sense it would work. It’s a very big step. It’s something we talk about, but we haven’t decided to do that. Please, go ahead.
Speaker 83: (01:37:34)
Mr. President, what would be the determining factors for you to take that action?
Donald Trump: (01:37:42)
I just don’t think it’s going to be an action that we’re going to take. I don’t think I’ll talk, but Anthony, all of the people standing behind me, we’d get together in a room plus some additionals and we would make a decision, but I don’t think that’s a step that we’re going to be taking.
Donald Trump: (01:37:56)
One more question. You didn’t have one, did you? Come on.
Speaker 84: (01:37:59)
Will the US government provide financial assistance to Boeing and airplane suppliers like GE?
Donald Trump: (01:38:05)
We’re looking at that. We’re certainly looking at Boeing. Boeing got hit hard in many different ways. Boeing never had a problem for years. It was unthinkable what happened with respect to Boeing. Unthinkable. Probably I would consider it the greatest company in the world prior to a year ago. Now they get hit in 15 different ways and they have different management. I’ve met the new people running Boeing. I think it’s going to be outstanding. But yeah, we have to protect Boeing. We have to absolutely help Boeing. They were doing a job. It was coming along well and then all of a sudden this hits. Obviously, when the airlines aren’t doing well, Boeing’s not going to be doing well, so we’ll helping Boeing. Yeah.
Speaker 85: (01:38:50)
Mr. President, before you leave, on what John was saying, you’ve called for people to leave politics out of this. Joe Biden said the World Health Organization offered testing kits that they had available to the United States and they’d give it to us now. We refused it. We didn’t want to buy them. PolitiFact says the WHO never made that offer. Can you tell us what actually happened?
Donald Trump: (01:39:11)
That’s what I heard. I’m going to let Tony answer that question or whoever’s best at answering that. But I do have to say, when you talk about politics, I watched the debate, not too exciting, but what they said about me, and we’ve done a great job when you talk about not being bipartisan, what they said about me. If you look at a swine flu, the whole thing in I guess it was 2009 and what they did and the mistakes they’ve made, they were terrible. They were horrific mistakes. 17,000 people died. I’ll be honest, they shouldn’t be criticizing because we’ve done a fantastic job.
Donald Trump: (01:39:51)
The only thing we haven’t done well is to get good press. We’ve done a fantastic job, but it hasn’t been appreciated. Even the closing down of the borders, which had never been done, and not only did we close them, but we’d close them early. The press doesn’t like writing about it. We’ve done a poor job on press relationships. I guess I don’t know who to blame for that. I don’t know. Maybe I can blame ourselves for that? I will blame ourselves. But I think we’ve done a great job. I think we’ve done a poor job in terms of press relationship. But let me have somebody answer your question.
Doctor Birx: (01:40:24)
Donald Trump: (01:40:25)
Doctor Birx: (01:40:26)
Yeah, so I tried to cover this in the answer when I talked about quality of kits. Our quality analysis runs through the FDA. All of these platforms we have asked people to submit and we’ve asked states to quality control. I mean, anybody could submit their test to us. We don’t buy tests that haven’t been quality controlled and they show us the data. Either show us the data upfront or show us the data after they’ve been running them because quality testing for our American people is paramount to us. It doesn’t help to put out a test where 50% or 47% are false positive. Imagine what that would mean to the American people. Imagine their level of concern now and telling people that they’re false positive. We take this same approach to HIV. Imagine telling someone they were positive to HIV and they weren’t. That is our bottom line, the customer, the American people first. Any of these groups can submit their testing kits through our regulatory processes, but without that and without a plan, we are not going to accept tests that have not been studied by us.
Donald Trump: (01:41:39)
Good answer. That’s a good answer. Would you have something on that?
Speaker 86: (01:41:42)
I’m just going to emphasize a little bit more on that. When I became involved in the testing world, I called as senior officials at the WHO as I could find to understand what the situation was. As far as I can tell from sources that should know, no one ever offered a test that we refused.
Donald Trump: (01:42:02)
That’s what I heard too.
Speaker 86: (01:42:04)
This is a research-grade test, right? Research-grade test that was never submit-
Speaker 81: (01:42:09)
Speaker 86: (01:42:09)
Not approved, not submitted to the FDA, that was supplied in tens of thousands of quantities to a hundred countries in the world. Okay? I think there’s a lot that people are saying about this. This is based on rumor and myth. Nothing was offered that we refused. It was a research test that was not approved. Again, there was a small number that we have greatly surpassed in a very short period of time.
Donald Trump: (01:42:31)
Number one, nothing was offered. Number two, it was a bad test. Otherwise, it was wonderful.
Doctor Birx: (01:42:36)
Joe Biden [crosstalk 01:42:37]
Donald Trump: (01:42:37)
Listen, thank you very much. No, he made a mistake. I assume that he’ll apologize for that mistake. Thank you all very much. We’ll be back.
Mike Pence: (01:42:45)
Thank you all.