Apr 20, 2020
Donald Trump Coronavirus Press Conference Transcript April 20
President Donald Trump’s April 20 coronavirus task force press conference. Trump opened the press conference by taking shots at MD Governor Larry Hogan, and also went after IL Governor J.B. Pritzker and reporters over testing. Read the transcript here.
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Donald Trump: (01:12)
Thank you very much everyone. Thank you.
Donald Trump: (01:29)
Following the release of our reopening guidelines, governors across the country are looking forward to phase one and announcing plans for an economic resurgence. We’re going to have a resurgence, too. At a time when millions of American workers and families are struggling with the financial consequences of the virus, it’s critical to continue the medical war while reopening the economy in a safe and responsible fashion.
Donald Trump: (01:56)
During this time, Americans must maintain strict vigilance and continue to practice careful hygiene, social distancing, and the other protective measures that we have outlined and that everybody’s become very familiar with. We continue to be encouraged that many of the areas hardest hit by the virus appear to have turned the corner.
Donald Trump: (02:16)
For example, recent deaths are down very, very substantially. You can compare that with their peak not so long ago, and you have numbers of 30%, 25% in Detroit, as an example. It’s down by over 50%. Congratulations. And in New Orleans where they’ve done a terrific job, they’re down 65%. 30 states have just one case or less per 1000 people, far fewer cases per capita as an example than Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Ireland, Switzerland, Singapore, Belgium, Spain, Norway, the Netherlands, Austria, Sweden.
Donald Trump: (02:57)
My administration continues to press Congress to replenish the enormously successful paycheck protection program, which has impacted 30 million American jobs. We hope to have an agreement very soon and hopefully tomorrow the Senate is going to be able to vote. A lot of progress has been made on that, tremendous progress. It’s a great plan. It’s a great plan. It’s helped a lot of people. So we hope to have a vote maybe tomorrow in the Senate.
Donald Trump: (03:24)
And based on the record low price of oil that you’ve been seeing, it’s at a level that’s very interesting to a lot of people. We’re filling up our national petroleum reserves, strategic, the strategic reserves, and we’re looking to put as much as 75 million barrels into the reserves themselves. That would top it out. That would be the first time in a long time it’s been topped out. We’d get it for the right price.
Donald Trump: (03:55)
We’re also pushing for the deal to include an additional and visits, elective procedures, surgeries, etc, etc, were canceled. We think that they can all get back online and get it done. The hospitals have really been fantastic. The hospitals, they’ve stepped up to the plate. They’ve really done a great job. We appreciate it so much. For areas less affected by the virus, we’ve issued new recommendations about how to safely resume elective treatments. HHS has also distributed the first $30 billion in direct payments to a million healthcare providers across the country. We’ve also invested $1.4 billion in community health centers to ensure our most vulnerable communities, including many African-American and Hispanic-American communities, have access to the services and testing that they need.
Donald Trump: (04:50)
Earlier today, vice president Pence spoke with governors from all 50 states about our unified effort to defeat the virus. He had a great call. It was a great call, very positive in I’d say every way. Prior to the call, we provided each governor with a list of the names, addresses and phone numbers of the labs where they can find additional testing capacity within their states. Many, many labs. We’re providing you with the list. We’ll show it to you now if you need it. We’ll give you the details, but hundreds and hundreds of labs are ready, willing, and able. Some of the governors, like as an example, the governor from Maryland didn’t really understand the list. He didn’t understand too much about what was going on. So now I think he’ll be able to do that. It’s pretty simple, but they have tremendous capacity and we hope to be able to help him out. We’ll work with them and work with all of the governors.
Donald Trump: (05:46)
Similar to the situation with ventilators, states need to assess their complete inventory of available capacity. Some states have far more capacity than they actually understand, and it is a complex subject, but some of the governors didn’t understand it. The governor, as an example Pritzker from Illinois, did not understand his capacity, not simply ask the federal government to provide unlimited support. I mean you have to take the support where you have it, but we are there to stand with the governors and to help the governors, and that’s what we’re doing and they have a tremendous capacity that we’ve already built up and you’ll be seeing that. We’re going to be introducing a couple of the folks in a little while to talk about it.
Donald Trump: (06:31)
I want to draw your attention to Governor Cuomos remarks during his press conference today. He said, “The President is right. The state’s testing is up. My job to coordinate those 300 labs. I think the President’s right when he says that the states should lead,” and the governors, they’re really getting… They’re getting it together in New York. A lot of good things are happening in New York, and I think the governor is going to come in to see us tomorrow. He’s coming to the Oval Office tomorrow afternoon. Andrew is going to be coming in with some of his people, so we look forward to that.
Donald Trump: (07:07)
Some of the articles that just recently came about, if you remember, and I put out a statement today, for a month it was all ventilator, ventilator, ventilator. It’s all people could talk about was ventilators, and we did a great job with that. We built a lot of ventilators, to put it mildly. We have so many now that at some point soon we’re going to be helping Mexico, and Italy, and other countries. We’ll be sending them the ventilators, which they desperately need. They were not in a position to build them themselves, but we have thousands being built. Every state has had… They have the ventilators. If they don’t, we have almost 10,000 in our federal reserve, our stock pile as they call it, and we did a great job with the ventilators.
Donald Trump: (07:58)
Unfortunately, the press doesn’t cover it other than the fair press, but so then you say, “Gee, they need ventilators. We don’t need ventilators.” And that’s under pressure we did that. Nobody that needed a ventilator in this country didn’t get one. And a story that just came out, How the Media Completely Blew the Trump Ventilator Story, I’m sure you’d love to see that. That’s by Rich Lowery, respected journalist and person. How the Media Completely Blew the Trump Ventilator Story, which unfortunately it did. And here’s another one that just came out. Kyle Smith, The Ventilator Shortage That Wasn’t. The Ventilator Shortage That Wasn’t because we got it fixed.
Donald Trump: (08:44)
And we’re also going to help the states, by the way, stockpile ventilators so if a thing like this should happen again they’ve got them. The stories on testing are all over the place that we’re actually in good shape. I’m going to have the vice president and others speak to you about that, but we’re in very good shape on testing and we’re getting better all the time. You’re going to see some interesting things.
Donald Trump: (09:07)
I thought before I went any further though, I’d like to have General Semonite, who’s done an incredible job, tell you where we are. We’re still building beds in hospitals for people that need them. I guess the hospital business general is getting pretty much closed out now, but we’re creating a lot of a space for people just in case, and in some cases they probably will be using them. But I thought the general, he’s been so impressive and done such a great job, I thought on behalf of the services and on behalf of the federal government he’d say a few words about what we’re doing right now. Thank you very. General?
General Semonite: (09:48)
Well, thank you Mr. President. I just want you to know that on behalf of all of us in the Department of Defense, our thoughts and prayers go out to all of those patients and all those victims that have been affected by this terrible virus. And the President and the Vice President talk all the time about the heroes, but when I’ve been out there I’ve seen the doctors, I’ve seen the nurses and all those that have worked very, very hard, and we’re just so proud to be part of this noble calling.
General Semonite: (10:09)
For my team, I really made it very, very simple. I said, “There’s three legs of this stool and they all have S’s.” There’s sites, in other words hospitals. We’ve got to worry about supplies, and we’ve got to worry about staff. And so right when Governor Cuomo called the President about almost 30 days ago and said, “I need some help,” worrying about what could be tens of thousands of hospital room shortages.
General Semonite: (10:32)
So the President and Secretary of Defense asked us to fly to Albany with a team. And on the way up we understood how complex of a challenge this was, and we knew there’s no way you can solve a complex catastrophe with a complicated solution. We needed a very, very simple solution to be able to then work with HHS, to be able to work with FEMA, to be able to work with the Vice President’s task force, and then to be able to power this down all the way down to the local level. Some of the governors asked us to try to build a hospital in a parking lot or a field in two or three weeks. You can’t physically do that. So what we said was let’s go to where there’s an existing facility, and I’m going to kind of make this in two big pots. Those that are either hotel rooms or college dormitories, smaller rooms, or those that are in real large areas like field houses or convention centers.
General Semonite: (11:21)
And we designed those standard facilities that could be either non-COVID or COVID, and then we got that approved here at the federal government to be able to then power that back down. So we went to Governor Cuomo and he said right up front, “I love the concept. I need you in the Javits Center. I’m ready to start having you work tomorrow afternoon.” So when we flew back that afternoon, the next day we basically built the standard design and then continued to be able to power it down all the way down through the rest of the team.
General Semonite: (11:48)
So I just want to show you a couple of slides here, and we’ll let know where we’re at right now, Mr. President. We had to do a bunch of assessments. So somewhere in the order of over 1100 different locations we went to, and we worked for FEMA, we worked for the President, and we worked for governors and mayors. And we said, “What do you think your demand is going to be?” And based on a lot of the modeling that’s been in this room here, we were able to understand when the peak curve was, but we also were able to understand where’s the bed shortage. So then these 1100 facilities right now today, so we’re actually executing 32 different facilities. That’s on the order of merit of about 16,000 beds. Eight of those are all done. We’ve still got a lot more to complete, and in the next week-and-a-half we’re going to complete about 15 more facilities. We’ve got some pending. Some mayors and governors are still wondering do they have enough bed space.
General Semonite: (12:43)
And what’s important here is we need a very agile plan. You can’t do something three weeks ago and think that this is going to continue to stay because this virus gets a vote. And this entire team, the federal government’s tried to be as agile as they can supporting those states and those governors. The beauty of the plan though is it doesn’t have to be built by the United States Army Corps of Engineers. So we designed about an extra 52 facilities. We gave those to the governors and I’ve got to be very, very laudatory to the governors, they then imposed and put a lot of those on the ground and did those themselves.
General Semonite: (13:16)
So let’s go. I’m just going to show you some real simple pictures here. Go to the next slide if you don’t mind. So this is an example of the Javits Center, and you’ve heard the President talk about it quite a few times. This one about 2100 bed spaces. What you get is about a 11 or 12 foot square cubicle. There is lights in there, there’s a nurse call so if you need to be able to call the nurse station. There are nurse stations throughout. There’s pharmacies throughout. This one started as non-COVID but then we came back in and put in central oxygen so everybody has oxygen right behind their bed to be able to take care of those patients, and again, built this one about a thousand patients treated.
General Semonite: (13:56)
Let’s go to the next one. I was up in Detroit with Governor Whitmere and she walked us through and told us her intent. Here’s what she needed to do this in the TCF Center. You’ll see all the cubicles that are laid out. This is right in the middle of a convention floor where there might be like a boat show or a car show, and then went in and built 970 different capabilities there. And again, a lot of great work by my guys in the Corps of Engineers and the rest of the mayor’s and the city’s team all pulling together.
General Semonite: (14:23)
Let’s go to the next one. This is called the McCormick Place. Governor Pritzker sat us down. He said, “Here’s our intent or what you want to do.” Mayor Lightfoot walked us through and we went into another large convention center. This is actually 3000 bed spaces, a very, very large build, and got this one done in a relatively short time.
General Semonite: (14:41)
And then here’s another one that kind of helps you understand the dynamic here. Go to the next one please. This is in Miami Beach. And I flew in to see Governor DeSantis, and my guys had scoped out about 450 beds and he said, “Todd, how long is it going to take to build this?” And we said probably until the 27th of April. And he went to his health people and he said, “How long do you need?” And he said, “The day we need this is the 21st of April.” And I told my guys, “You don’t have until the 27th. Figure out how to get it done by the 20th.” This is where you don’t get to build to be able to have the perfect solution. You’ve got to be able to get the mission essential done. Lives are on the line here and we’ve got to be able to get everything done to be able to save those lives.
General Semonite: (15:22)
And let’s go to the last one here. This is one we’re doing right now, Colorado. This is in Denver and another gigantic convention center. You’ll see all the different cubicles here to be able to just bring in that oxygen, six-inch copper pipe that comes in and it’s all piped throughout the entire convention center, six miles of pipe that’s able to go in to be able to make that happen.
General Semonite: (15:42)
And in closing, I just want to be able to say that we are very, very focused in the Corps of Engineers getting this done. But this is all about the team, the federal team, the state team, the local team, the vice president’s task force, and a lot of the people sitting here, have informed us of how fast we need to go. And it goes back to again, all the governors and the mayors to make this happen.
General Semonite: (16:02)
But I want to reiterate, President Trump has called me three times, and Secretary Esper has been on the phone at least one of those times, and said, “What else do we need to do to set you up for success? Is there any other knobs we can turn to be able to help you build?” And you think about that equation of those three S’s. I think that with the federal government and the mayors in the cities here, we’ve effectively taken that first S out of the equation. And so I can’t tell you of all the things I’ve done in my career, this is a noble calling to be able to step up and save American lives. So with that, sir, I thank you very much.
Donald Trump: (16:31)
Fantastic, Jeff. Thank you very much. Anybody have a question for the General while he’s here? Anybody? Because I think it’s very self-explanatory. He’s done an incredible job. Jeff, do you have a question?
Speaker 3: (16:42)
I do. Are there more projects, sir, beyond the ones that you’ve just identified that you’ll be working on?
General Semonite: (16:46)
So about a week ago we thought we were about capped at 26. What we’re seeing is, as I said, the virus gets a vote. We’re seeing some of these curves are stretching out where we might’ve thought we only had five or six days. We actually have a couple of weeks now. Other ones we’re seeing exactly the opposite. So where we didn’t think there was some, and I’m not going to go into locations here, but we are definitely get requested and we’ve got six more requesting just in the last four or five days. They’re a little bit smaller facilities in more remote areas, but our job, we still, if we have enough time to go build, we want to get in there, do the assessment. We work for the mayor, and the city, and the governor here, and we can still get them done if the mayors and those elected officials make a fast enough decision.
Donald Trump: (17:24)
You might say while you’re here, you’re building… The General’s in charge of the wall on the Southern border, and we want to build 450 miles of wall and it’s very much under construction. You might give them a little bit of an update. How are we doing with the wall?
General Semonite: (17:37)
So, sir, I think the most important thing, and you stressed this and Secretary Esper stressed this, there’s really several different priorities here. Our number one priority in Department of Defense and the Corps of Engineers is to protect the team, protect the force. No matter what we do, we’ve got to continue to take care of our civilians and our service members out there, and so every single thing we’re doing, whether we’re building for the VA, or we’re building for civil works projects, or for the Department of Defense, or building on the Southwest border, we are going out of our way.
General Semonite: (18:03)
I talked to my commanders this morning, we’ve got over 4,000 contractors that are on the ground out there and we’ve had no positives as of this morning, knock on wood. Same thing with my 400 employees. We’re testing them. Not necessarily one of the more stringent tests, but with temperatures, to be able to make sure that everybody’s safe and everybody goes out of their way to do things the right way. Construction is going very, very smooth. What we’re seeing is our contractors are extremely focused. Now that we’ve got a good clear path both on the CBP program as well as some of the DOD program. We, I think, very well postured it’s a very, very aggressive build, but we’re well postured to be able to meet your expectations, sir, of 450 by the end of December 2020.
Donald Trump: (18:44)
And we’re over 160 miles.
General Semonite: (18:47)
164 as of today, sir.
Donald Trump: (18:48)
164 miles. And we’ll have it done sometime pretty early next year. Very exciting.
General Semonite: (18:55)
Donald Trump: (18:56)
And you might just say one thing, the quality of that wall in terms of its power for stopping people that shouldn’t be coming into our country.
General Semonite: (19:03)
So, same thing, if you have a standard design that you trust in and it works very well. I’ve got to pat on the back Commissioner Morgan. He was very adamant to continue to be able to make sure that it supports his agents. And so we’ve got a design now that certainly does that. And then we’ve got a phenomenal contractor workforce that’s in there, my Corp of Engineer employees and it’s going in well. We don’t see any significant problems. And I think it’s also important to point out that we want to do this the right way. So we try to balance this with environmental considerations that are out there. We’re trying to do due diligence when it comes to anything to do with any of the citizens that are affected. We’re trying to make sure that we’re protecting all of the things that we need to protect and try to find that balance where we can both meet the administration’s directive while at the same time making sure we’re doing this so that everybody gets a vote and everybody has a fair shake.
Donald Trump: (19:56)
Speaker 4: (19:57)
My I ask what you’re doing regarding the availability at the recreation sites that the Army Corps of Engineers operates? How the access is going there and whether or not there were restrictions?
General Semonite: (20:10)
So I’m an engineer. I take my guidance from some of these experts sitting on the bench over here, and when the President says, “Turn on America,” what we initially did, like many, many other governors, they shut down beaches, shut down cities. I had a meeting with my commanders this morning, and as soon as we think it’s safe, turn them back on. I mean parking out there at a rec area where you’re 500 feet away from everybody in a camper is probably low threat. I will continue to take guidance from the administration, but where we get green lights to continue to put our rec areas full up and let everybody go back out there and do things in the safest way. I mean, we work for the administration so I want to do it safe, but I don’t want to be the last guy that turns things on. Not at all. Yes ma’am.
Speaker 5: (20:51)
Thanks for walking us through some of the efforts. Can you say anything about whether or not there are any specific efforts in communities that are hardest hit like black communities or Latino communities, communities of color? Are the Army Corps of Engineers doing anything that would be building any sort of temporary facilities for those communities?
General Semonite: (21:06)
So, we basically key off what the city asked for, the city and the governor. There are a couple of specific areas that certain city mayors have asked us for. Again, I’m not going to go into details, but we basically, if they go in and say, “I’m very worried about a hotspot on this side of town or a specific community here,” we will do, and that’s what the administration is charged to do, is whatever we can do to be most responsive. We just don’t want ever to have an ambulance pull up to the back of a hospital and somebody says, “We’re out of room, go to the next hospital down.” So that’s where we’re trying to make sure that that bed space is available, and so far everything we built has been ahead of need. In other words, we’re able to finish the building two or three days before it’s needed. Thank you ma’am.
Donald Trump: (21:46)
Okay. So you don’t really have a choice. You can stay and watch these wonderful people ask us really nice questions or you can go back to building beds.
General Semonite: (21:54)
Sir, I get a lot of building to do. I’m going to leave, if you don’t mind.
Donald Trump: (21:56)
Go ahead [inaudible 00:00:21:56].
General Semonite: (21:57)
Thank you, sir.
Donald Trump: (21:58)
Very impressive. That’s an impressive job. Isn’t it? Seriously. That’s really great. Thank you very much. He’s a terrific gentleman. We have a lot of great people doing that kind of thing that they really have to get recognition for the incredible job they are doing because I don’t think anybody else could do it. Nothing like that. And that’s on top of thousands and thousands of hospitals, and he built just in New York alone, four hospitals and 2, 900 beds, and got them done so quickly. Nobody saw anything like it. Fortunately, we haven’t had to use too many of them and that’s okay. That’s probably better news than having to use them all. Right? Because a lot of good things are happening in New York and elsewhere.
Donald Trump: (22:47)
So through the public, private partnerships, and deregulation, the federal government has already made immense testing capabilities available, but some states need to take action to fully utilize it. To date, the United States has conducted millions more tests than any other country. You can add them all up and they don’t catch us. And our numbers are doubling almost on, certainly on a monthly basis, but almost on a weekly basis. We’re moving very rapidly, at a number nobody thought possible. And we’ll be doubling our number of daily tests if the governors bring their states fully online through the capability that they have. We have tremendous capability out there already existing and we explained that to the governor today. Mike and all of the people explained it very strongly to the governors. They really get it now I think.
Donald Trump: (23:40)
As the experts have explained, this capacity is sufficient to allow states to conduct diagnostic testing to treat patients, as well as contact tracing to contain outbreaks and monitoring to pinpoint potential hotspots during phase one. And there are some hotspots and we have them pinpointed, and they can really cover it very, very nicely when they know exactly where to go, and they’re being told where to go. And also these locations where they’re going, and some of them are federal, some of the governors didn’t realize they were allowed to use federal locations. They are. And we have a booklet of the federal locations. We can hold it up. I think you’ll show that. Maybe we’ll hold it up now. Yeah. Okay, fine. But you see the number of things. These are all locations where they can go, which is really pretty amazing. This is just one page out of many. Look at this. These are all locations. That’s a lot of locations. And they can all… What is it, 5,000?
Speaker 6: (24:50)
5,000 [inaudible 00:24:51].
Donald Trump: (24:52)
Thank you very much. That’s more than anybody thought, and it’s already there. They have to use it. That’s all, they have to use it. Some weren’t aware. Some were very much aware, some weren’t aware.
Donald Trump: (25:03)
My administration also continues to support states with our massive operation to deliver masks, gowns, gloves and other vital supplies. Admiral Policheck and his team at FIFA are really… What a job they’ve done. And Pete, what a job he’s done. They’re calling on Easter Sunday to make sure everyone’s okay. But they are using detailed data about supply chains to track the deployment of 1 billion pieces of protective equipment through private distributors every two weeks. So what we’re doing is we’re delivering a number that nobody anywhere in the world is delivering. FEMA is working closely with Dr. Berkson, the distributors, to prioritize supply of resources where they are most needed, where finding the [inaudible 00:25:52] that they have to. They have to get to that location. We have locations that are very important to get to, and get to them fast, and that’s where they’re going. So we have a very strong priority.
Donald Trump: (26:03)
… and that’s where they’re going, so we have a very strong priority. This pandemic has reaffirmed the importance of keeping vital supply chains at home. We cannot outsource our independence. We cannot be reliant on foreign nations. I’ve been saying this for a long time. If we’ve learned one thing, it’s let’s do it here. Let’s build it here. Let’s make it here. We’ve got the greatest country in the world. We got to start bringing our supply chains back.
Donald Trump: (26:25)
Somebody years ago got this crazy idea, let’s build all over the place and let’s have parts. Let’s have a screw for a car delivered and made in a country that’s far away and let’s have a fender made someplace else and let’s do this and let’s do that and let’s put it all together. I like making it right here in the USA. I think we’ve learned a lot about that and especially maybe when it comes to pharmaceutical products.
Donald Trump: (26:52)
We’ve also conducted major military operations providing cities and states with additional medical capacity and the incredible 1,800 men and women from the Army Corps of Engineers. You just met with Todd. The job they’ve done is incredible, but we have nurses, doctors, we have experts in every field, all over.
Donald Trump: (27:16)
Spoke with governor Cuomo, spoke with Mayor de Blasio, spoke with many of the other governors that I’m both friendly, and I think I’m friendly with just about all of them if you can believe it, but I’ve gotten friendly with a lot of them. I’ve gained a lot of respect for a lot of the governors, both Republican and Democrat during this process. Some really good people, some really good talent, but we’re sending a lot of our medical people, not only our construction people like Todd Semonite, but a lot of our medical people are being sent all over the country to different locations, New York City, New York State and New Jersey. I spoke with Phil today, he’s doing a terrific job in New Jersey, but New Jersey got hit very, very hard. Phil Murphy, governor.
Donald Trump: (28:02)
From the day this crisis began, America launched a scientific mobilization of colossal size and scale. Someday they’ll be able to write the true story because nobody’s seen anything like it. The fake news just refuses to cover it correctly, but that’s okay. The people are understanding and that’s what matters to me.
Donald Trump: (28:24)
There are now 72 active trials underway across the United States researching dozens of therapies and treatments and another 211 are in the planning stages. They’re getting, I mean, they’re literally mobilizing on therapeutics and also on vaccines. A tremendous progress is being made on vaccines and I must say on therapeutics. I mean, frankly, if I had my choice, give me the therapeutics right now because that would help people right now. We have some things that I think are working. Not only working, but we have some incredible things that look like they could be an answer, but we’ll know soon, being tested, working out right now.
Donald Trump: (29:07)
This includes therapies designed to attack the virus as well as others that would hinder its replication, reduce the rate of infection, control the immune response or transfer lifesaving antibodies from the blood of recovered patients. One of the incredible things that we’ve seen, and Mike and I were talking about it before, is the fact oftentimes somebody gets very ill from the plague, okay, from this horrible scourge and they get better and they recover. The first thing they say is, “I want to give my blood.” That’s happened. The doctors have told me it’s happened so much. “I want to give my blood, I want to give my blood,” and they’re doing that.
Donald Trump: (29:49)
But tremendous things are happening. You’ll be seeing that over the weeks. I think we’ll be talking about it in the not too distant future. Johnson & Johnson’s very well along on vaccines. Again, the vaccines have to be tested. The therapeutics are for now, but a lot of good things are happening on both. But ultimately we also hope to prevent infection through a safe, a very safe vaccine. That’ll be a great thing when we have that and we will have that.
Donald Trump: (30:15)
With that, I’d like to introduce Admiral Giroir and Brad Smith to discuss some of the incredible things that have been done and we have, they really are. What they’ve been able to do at a very, very short period of time. Equipment, you’re going to see equipment that you haven’t seen before and if you’d just come up Brad, if you guys would come up, you could give us a little display of some of the equipment that we have and some of the things that are happening having to do with testing because testing is a big word.
Donald Trump: (30:47)
Remember, it was all ventilators and the reason it was all ventilators they said, “There’s no way he’ll ever be able to catch this one,” and not only did we catch it, we are now the King of Ventilators all over the world. We can send them anywhere. We have thousands being made a week and they’re very high quality and that’s wasn’t playing well.
Donald Trump: (31:08)
Then they said testing, testing, “Oh, we’ll get him on testing.” Well, testing is much easier than ventilator. Ventilators are big machines that are very complex, that are very expensive. You need a group of people that really know what they’re doing. We took auto lines, we took a lot of different people and now we’ve done that. But it used to be ventilators, ventilators, ventilators. Now it’s testing, testing, testing.
Donald Trump: (31:33)
I think the Admiral and I think that Brad will show you some things that you haven’t seen that are really a very spectacular having to do with testing. We’re way advanced, way advanced. The list I showed you, these are places you can go if you’re in the states, 5,000 different machines. 5,000, they’re all over the country and we have international also. But these are all over the country. But you’ll see something now that’s really eye-popping in terms of what they’ve done and they’ve done this under great pressure. They’ve come up with things under great pressure that are absolutely amazing.
Donald Trump: (32:13)
Please, if you would. Thank you, folks.
Admiral Giroir: (32:19)
Well, thank you, Mr. President. Want to talk about a couple things today a little bit different than I’ve spoken about before. Since early March, we’ve really been focusing on two key concepts for testing. Number one, to assure and expand supplies in the U.S. market. This is really critical because we were talking about really a cottage industry with very minimal suppliers that we were asking to supply over a two-week period of time the normal production that would be for at least a year. As simple as a swab is, a swab is not a swab is not a swab, and we need to be very careful that when we put something in a person and tell them a test result that it’s really correct.
Admiral Giroir: (33:01)
The second component is to secure sufficient supplies at FEMA during this time of peak disease where we could alleviate any maldistributions within the state. This is the theme of process of requesting and sending things out and also supporting outbreaks.
Admiral Giroir: (33:16)
So, starting many weeks ago, starting in my office many weeks ago, we assembled a multidisciplinary team of really incredible people. The medical side of the equation, which I represent, the laboratory side of the equation, high-tech side of the equation, logistics and operation and Brad Smith, his day job is Director of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, an incredibly important component of our country’s CMS system, building the future healthcare system, but has done a really incredible job operationally and logistically in bringing everyone together.
Admiral Giroir: (33:52)
We have focused on every piece of the supply chain that relates to testing down to the most minute detail and he’s going to talk to you about some of that, but that started in the second week of March with starting an air lift because the only supplier, the main supplier of swabs at that time was a place in Italy that was completely shut off because of the outbreak in Italy. So, Admiral Polowczyk arranged gray tail Air Force planes to go to Italy to bring millions of swabs back to secure. That’s just how it started and it’s expanded since then.
Admiral Giroir: (34:22)
The second part is we’ve been really marrying, and this has been the beauty, the logistics and supplies to the overall strategy, two pieces of strategy. Number one, what is the overall testing strategy? Dr. Birx has had just an elegant strategy in the past, but even more important in the future when we make sure we take care of indigent populations and those most vulnerable. So the clinical, the contact tracing and the monitoring of those who are at most risk.
Admiral Giroir: (34:51)
We’ve also married it to the strategy and you’ve heard more than you wanted to know about it, that a small machine that’s point-of-care is good for certain things, but it’s not going to test 5,000 people over a short period of time. So, the small machines, the medium machines and the large machines and how to contextualize them.
Admiral Giroir: (35:08)
The third thing, before I give it to Brad, which is very important and it’s really critical, is coordinating the research, the epidemiology and the FDA regulatory process. Why is that so important? When we started five weeks ago, if we wanted to test this many people with the technology we had, we would have used about 80% of the strategic national stockpile in PPE just to do testing.
Admiral Giroir: (35:32)
We needed an innovation. That innovation was to be able to test out of the anterior nose with a completely different kind of swab. It sounds very mundane, but if you don’t do that, you can’t get the testing to scale. That allowed us to really go to widespread testing.
Admiral Giroir: (35:46)
Last week, moving to polyester swabs, which is going to open up millions of new swabs onto the market, but that’s a regulatory science and innovation step that had to co-occur with this and with that, I’m going to let Brad talk about some of the details that he has really shepherded over the past weeks in ways that have truly been amazing and incredibly impressive to me.
Brad Smith: (36:09)
Well, thank you, Mr. President. It’s an honor of a lifetime to be here and serving in this way. I’ve been working under Dr. Birx’s and Admiral Giroir’s leadership over the past several weeks to help increase the supply of testing across the United States.
Brad Smith: (36:22)
As you all know, there’s really three parts that you need to make the test work. First, you need the machine, which has Dr. Birx will share more and the president spoke to. We have a very, very large number of those across the United States. It’s about making sure that we’re taking advantage of them. The second part of the testing is making sure that we have the collection supplies to actually be able to collect the specimen and I’ll talk a little bit more about that. Then the third part is making sure that you have the materials you need to support the machine to ensure that you can actually process the test once it gets to the lab.
Brad Smith: (36:54)
I’ll let Dr. Birx talk more about the machines here in a second, but as you’ll see across the United States, we have a tremendous number. They range in variety, so we have some very small machines that do point-of-care testing. They may do, say, 50 to a 100 tests a day. We also have other very large machines. They can do several thousand, process several thousand tests a day.
Brad Smith: (37:15)
On the collection supply piece, I’ll talk through a couple of different kinds of collection that that can be done. For the nucleic acid test, which are the tests that are currently being done today, you generally need a swab of the nose. To do that, you need the swab, you need the collection tube and you also need the transport media that it can be transported in. We have a large, very large number of swabs already in the country, but we have secured an additional 30 million in production that we’ll be ramping up over the next several weeks.
Brad Smith: (37:46)
One company, located in the Northeast, we’re going to be using Title III of the DPA to help them build four new production lines. They are currently the largest swab producer in the country and this will help them ramp up their production tremendously to over 20 million additional swabs a month. A second company located in Ohio is currently the largest Q-tip maker in the country. We’re helping them convert their line from making Q-tips into making swabs. They are actually ramping up production starting this week of swabs and we’ll be ramping up to over 10 million per month. In total, that’s over 30 million new swabs that will be coming just over the next handful of weeks.
Brad Smith: (38:25)
The second piece is on the collection tubes. The collection tubes, we’ve been partnering with Oak Ridge National Lab, a Department of Energy lab based in Tennessee. They have very unique and sophisticated injection molding manufacturing capability and they are in the process of ramping that up to create collection tubes and they will be ramping up to over 40 million collection tubes a month here over the next several weeks.
Brad Smith: (38:50)
In addition to the swabs, we believe that as testing progresses there’ll be other types of testing like serological testing that will occur and those samples have to be collected in different ways. Many times some of those tests will require a finger prick. So in addition, we secured over 17 million lancets, which is what you use for the finger prick, so that we have those available as well as 17 million alcohol swabs, which is what you need to clean the finger before you do the finger prick.
Brad Smith: (39:17)
In addition, although folks are not talking about this much yet, we also believe that businesses across the country may want thermometers to test folks as they come into the office, and so we’ve secured over 650,000 infrared thermometers that states and businesses will be able to access to be able to test folks as they come into work. I think we’ve made tremendous progress on the collection side.
Brad Smith: (39:39)
In addition to the collection side, we’ve been very focused on ensuring that the labs have what they need. To process a specimen in a lab, you really need two things. You need something called an extraction kit and you needs something called a PCR test. In order to be able to fully process a test, you need both of these things. Sometimes these things come together and sometimes they come separate. For some of our point-of-care tests, including the Abbott and [Sefia 00:40:05] tests, they come together. They are ramping up production rapidly to over 3 million of those tests per month and these are tests that did not exist even a month ago.
Brad Smith: (40:15)
The second piece is on some of these large machines. They also sell complex cartridges that come together. One of the big manufacturers that has already ramped up production from about 1.6 million a month to more than twice that already and that’s already occurred. In addition to when they come together, they also sometimes come separate and we see significant ramping up of production there from our manufacturers through our public private partnerships. We’re seeing both several million more over the next few weeks of both the RNA extraction kit as well as the PCR test kit. So with that, thank you.
Donald Trump: (40:49)
Mike, please. Thank you, Brian.
Mike Pence: (40:53)
Thank you, Mr. President and I share your admiration for this remarkable team from the Army Corps of Engineers, to Brad, to Admiral Giroir. They’re doing a remarkable job every day.
Mike Pence: (41:07)
As the President mentioned today, we had our weekly conference call with governors across the country, states and territories and I was able to convey to them our appreciation for the leadership that every governor of every state and territory has provided. Thanks to their leadership, thanks to the extraordinary cooperation of the American people, despite the fact that more than 770,000 Americans have contracted the coronavirus and our hearts grieve for the more than 41,000 Americans who’ve lost their life, the truth is that as we stand here today, we are slowing the spread and as the president reflected, we continue to see steady progress in less cases, lower hospitalizations, even in hotspots around the country. We commended America’s governors for their efforts in that regard. We are preserving our health care capacity as the general with the Army Corps of Engineers reflected. With the President’s direction, we’ve built a great number of hospitals around the country, but the utilization rate has been fairly low because of the mitigation efforts, the cooperation of the American people, we have not had to use them. That, as the president said, is very good news.
Mike Pence: (42:25)
In a word, we thank governors across the country for taking actions, decisive action to save lives and to make a difference. I reminded them that we’re all in this together and we have one mission, we’re one team. We spoke on the conference call about last week’s guidelines to open up America again and we heard from governors across the country about the progress that they’re making. We spoke to governors from New Jersey, Connecticut, Florida, Louisiana, Texas, and Michigan about their ongoing efforts at social distancing and address questions that they had about needs that had been spoken up already in this presentation today.
Mike Pence: (43:05)
In addition, as we promised last week when we spoke to governors on Thursday about the guidelines to open up America, our team presented every governor in the country, states and territories, with a memorandum detailing laboratory capacity in all locations of laboratory equipment for diagnostic tests that can perform the coronavirus test. We also provided, as Dr. Birx will elaborate in just a few moments, literally a map about where these testing devices are located.
Mike Pence: (43:41)
I must tell you, Mr. President, I was very impressed at the way governors, as we speak, are scaling testing in their own states using these resources. Our hope is that by providing this information and by our team that we’ve enlisted out of Walter Reed, it’s contacting every one of the laboratories in the country to find out what their needs are and to encourage them to activate those testing machines to do coronavirus testing that will continue to be able to support a state-managed effort to increase testing even more.
Mike Pence: (44:12)
But a few highlights. Governor Doug Ducey announced antibody testing for 250,000 health professionals this week and first responders, a partnership between the state and the University of Arizona. We spoke today about Governor Gavin Newsom’s announcement that he set up a task force for testing, five to seven high-capacity testing hubs in partnership with the UC San Diego and UC Davis to increase testing in high capacity labs around the state of California.
Mike Pence: (44:43)
We heard from governor Ron DeSantis, Mr. President, about the efforts of the state of Florida. I believe he said that at this time Florida had conducted 275,000 coronavirus tests and they’re in the process of a major expansion of statewide testing with the goal of opening up additional sites and using the Florida National Guard to test residents at nursing homes and long-term care facilities in Florida.
Mike Pence: (45:09)
We also recommended today to every governor’s attention, the public health website that the State of Florida established, which has useful information on a county-by-county level about where testing is happening. Mr. President, as you said, governors are utilizing testing assets. They’re managing and deploying these resources as they see fit. At your direction, we’re going to continue to work very closely with them.
Mike Pence: (45:33)
Other governors that we spoke with included governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan. There are 13 new or expanded coronavirus drive-through testing sites in Michigan that her team has stood up with Michigan Primary Care Association and we assured her that we would continue to work, as Brad and Admiral Giroir are literally working around the clock, to make sure that they have the supplies to support all of that testing. As the President said, Governor Hogan, who always begins our conference calls as he’s Chairman of the National Governors Association, expressed appreciation for last week’s guidelines to open America up again and his appreciation on behalf of all the governors for the list of laboratories in each individual state. He did raise the issue that we had included on the list Department of Defense facilities that have laboratories and machines and also other federal facilities, many of which are in Maryland. I was able to assure Governor Hogan, and every governor on the call, that we will make all of those laboratories available across the country to every state as the need for testing capacity continues to scale.
Mike Pence: (46:47)
This is one more step where you see the Army Corps of Engineer, where you literally see thousands of military doctors and nurses on the streets in New York and other cities around the country, this is one more step where we’re literally, as the President said from early on, are leaving no stone unturned and we are delivering a whole-of-government approach for our States as they, as they deal with the coronavirus outbreak.
Mike Pence: (47:12)
Governors are continuing to expand testing and we assured them that we’re going to continue to work in every way to support their efforts to do just that. I will say again as we’ve said before, as Dr. Birx comes up to explain to you what we deliver to the governors today, we told the governors once again today that by our best estimates we have enough testing capacity today for every state in America to go to Phase I, if they meet the other criteria of 14 days of reduced cases and sufficient hospital capacity to prepare for any eventuality that may occur.
Mike Pence: (47:52)
Once again, we have enough testing capacity for every state in America to go to Phase I, but we assured the governors today that we’re going to continue to work around the clock to expand the testing capacity, support supplies and to support their efforts to encourage social distancing and the very mitigation efforts that the American people have been doing that have brought us the progress that we see all across the country today.
Mike Pence: (48:17)
With that Mr. President, I’ll just let Dr. Burks describe what we distributed today.
Donald Trump: (48:23)
Thank you, Mike. Debra.
Dr. Deborah Birx: (48:24)
Thank you, Mr. Vice president, Mr. President. We just want to show you a couple of additional slides but also to remind all of Americans that we still have a significant number of cases, both in the Boston area and across Massachusetts and Chicago, to really that our hearts go out to those cities as they continue to struggle with coronavirus and the consequences at the hospitalization, to all the healthcare providers that are on the front lines.
Dr. Deborah Birx: (48:50)
These are just an illustration of the different types of equipment that are out there. Describing them both as low-speed, but quick turnaround time, to high-speed and taking three to four hours to actually run 100 or more tests. The equipment ranged from all those different … That’s why there’s 5,000 of them as noted by the President in this list.
Dr. Deborah Birx: (49:13)
We wanted every governor and every state and health laboratory director to have a clear understanding of the full capacity within the state, both for the capacity but also where technical assistance and additional supplies may be available. We were proud to put the federal labs on that list because the military and the VA have stepped up every step of the way to provide support, both in testing and care. We have many military members on the front lines and I’m sure the military would offer their facilities to the Governor of Maryland or any governor who wanted to utilize those to expand testing.
Dr. Deborah Birx: (49:51)
The next slide, I’m just going to run through them very quickly. Every governor not only received the Excel spreadsheet with the complete list of the equipment and the zip code of the location and the laboratory to really be able to create a mosaic of laboratories of the high-speed and low-speed equipment together to meet the needs of their clients depending if their drive-through or hospital needs.
Dr. Deborah Birx: (50:17)
This is what Florida looks like, next slide. This is what Louisiana looks like, next slide. Maryland with significant capacity, next slide. Virginia with significant capacity throughout the state, next slide. New York, obviously a lot of capacity in New York City with overlapping capacity. It’s important to know where this is because then hospitals and labs can support each other when they need surge capacity, next slide. This is New Jersey, next slide. Pennsylvania, next slide. Massachusetts, next slide. Ohio, next slide. Oklahoma, next slide. Washington, next slide. I think that’s Wyoming. We wanted to show both in states that have large populations and in States that have lower populations, you can see that in general, the number of machines match their population, and we’re working with the Walter Reed group and the American Society of Microbiologists and all the lab directors to really create a web of understanding of what the capacity is currently, what the capacity can be, and how the federal government can support them in developing their strategies linked to the overarching federal strategy of testing as outlined in our guidelines.
Dr. Deborah Birx: (51:36)
Thank you, Mr. President.
Question for Dr. Birx [crosstalk 00:51:39].
Donald Trump: (51:39)
Dr. Birx, University of Southern California and the L.A. County Public Health put out a report today that suggests that the penetrance of the virus is as much as almost 40 times as what it was believed to be. That as many as 442,000 people in L.A. County may have been affected, which suggests two things. It suggests that you have a lot more people out there who could be spreading the virus, but it also suggests that the case-
Speaker 7: (52:03)
… out there who could be spreading the virus. But it also suggests, that the case fatality rate is more in line with the 2017/2018 flu than what we’ve seen in some other areas of the world. But I’m wondering if you’ve seen that, what your thoughts were.
Dr. Birx: (52:13)
So we’re looking at all those studies very carefully. And I think you will remember over the last three weeks I’ve been talking about the level of asymptomatic spread and my concern about asymptomatic spread. Because, with flu and other diseases when people are sick, it’s easy to contact trace. When people are not sick and shedding virus, you have to have a very different approach, a very different sentinel surveillance approach, a sentinel monitoring approach, which we outlined in the guidelines. And it’s why the guidelines took that very seriously. We knew that was unique for respiratory diseases, but it was because we were very concerned about the level of asymptomatic. And if you remember, we used to… We talked about younger age groups may have more asymptomatic disease and your asymptomatic disease may decrease with your older age groups, and that your symptomatic disease might increase with age groups. This is still our working hypothesis, we have no data right now still to support that.
Dr. Birx: (53:13)
But it’s these kinds of studies that help that. We know that New York and Detroit and other cities are very interested, which we want to also support them, in testing frontline responders, first responders and healthcare workers, because we think their exposure may have been the greatest. What we don’t want to do… And I’m just going to do another 30 seconds on testing. These tests are not 100% sensitive or specific. And I’m going to go over this over and over again. So if you have 1% of your population infected and you have a test that’s only 99% specific, that means that when you find a positive, 50% of the time will be a real positive and 50% of the time it won’t be.
Dr. Birx: (53:59)
And that’s why we’re really asking people to start testing in among the first responders and the healthcare workers that may have had the greatest exposure, because that’s where the test will be most reliable. And then, when we have the luxury, we can go out to broader and broader communities. But this has been the fundamental question to begin with, and has been persistent. And we will emphasize to the American people again, this is a highly contagious virus. And we don’t know by looking at someone whether they have preexisting conditions or not. And so, all of us as far as protecting others must continue to do all of the recommendations to ensure that when we are in an asymptomatic state, we’re not passing the virus to others.
Speaker 8: (54:43)
I have a question for you as well, the governor of South Carolina announced today, they’re going to open some stores with restrictions, but they just told my colleague [Natasha Chin 00:02:50] that they have not achieved that criteria in The White House guidelines about the downward trajectory for 14 days. So, shouldn’t they not be reopening stores today?
Dr. Birx: (55:00)
We have asked every governor to follow the guidelines just as we’ve asked every American to follow the guidelines put out by the president. But, each of the governors can decide for themselves whether they’ve reached specific guidelines in specific areas. I had a question, I think on Saturday, about Jacksonville and their beaches. So, I did spend about five hours going to every state website, and I will tell you, that the Florida’s Department of Health Website is extraordinary, and this is what every department of health should have. Because when you go to that website, you can see that most of the cases are in Southern Florida, in the Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Broward County area. And if you look in Jacksonville, they had less than 20 cases per day, and less than 800 in four weeks. And so, these are the kinds of… When you inform the public and give them the information that they need, then they can make decisions along with the local government and governors. So, I’m not going to say specifically with South Carolina because I don’t know their specific website right now and I don’t talk about data unless I’ve seen it myself, but I know from Jacksonville that they had less than 20 cases a day. And so, this is how we need to start informing the community. These websites are critical. It’s by zip code and it’s by county, they can see cases, they can see cumulative cases, they can see new cases, they can see hospitalizations, they can see mortality, they can see age groups of mortality, and they can see where every testing piece is. This is how we have to inform the American public, and this is where the American public will develop confidence in each of their counties and local governments
Speaker 9: (56:38)
[inaudible 00:56:38] the vice president mentioned that there’s enough testing capacity right now to proceed to phase one. But what about phase two or phase three, is there… Are there enough machines or enough cartridges? Are there enough reagents right now for the sort of reopening of the administration’s envisioning taking place over the next month or two?
Dr. Birx: (56:53)
So you can see the current machine outline and you can see that both of these gentlemen have prepared to have everything ready for phase two and preparing it now for what we will need in the future. And I think that’s what you saw with the ventilators, that’s what you’re seeing with PPE. It’s not just for today, it’s for tomorrow. And it’s our federal planning, is not just for this instant. It’s making sure that we meet the needs of this instance, but we’re planning for 30 and 60 and 90 days ahead.
Donald Trump: (57:24)
Admiral, go ahead [inaudible 00:57:23].
Admiral Giroir: (57:25)
I would just agree with Dr. Birx completely. We are ready right now to enter phase one and we are ramping up all our capabilities across the board, not just to achieve what’s necessary for phase two but 2X, 3X, 4X, so that we will be absolutely over prepared when the nation is ready to go into those phases.
Speaker 10: (57:48)
Donald Trump: (57:48)
And by the way, not everybody agrees that we have to do that much testing. We’re going maximum, you understand? There’s some people who don’t want to do that much testing, but we’re going maximum, we’re going to the outer limits. And I think that’s the way probably it should be. Jeff, go ahead.
Mr. President, to return to a topic that you opened the press conference with, on oil. US crude futures today went below zero, went into negative territory.
Donald Trump: (58:11)
Donald Trump: (58:12)
Like interest rates, they go negative.
Does that make you want to see Saudi Arabia and Russia and OPEC-plus do more to reduce supply?
Donald Trump: (58:20)
Well, it’s for short-term. Much of it has do with short sellers. Much of it has to do… If you look a month into the future, I think it’s at 25 or $28 a barrel, so a lot of people got caught. They got caught and there are a lot of people that are not too happy because they got caught. So, if you take a look at it, you’ll see it’s more of a financial thing than an oil situation. But… Because you take… I believe in a month or so, in other words go a little bit out, it’s at 25 and $28 a barrel. So it’s largely a financial squeeze. And they did get squeezed.
So, would you like to see, however, Saudi Arabia and other countries make more cuts?
Donald Trump: (58:58)
We’ve already done that. Where, Saudi Arabia is cutting back, Russia is cutting back, Mexico is cutting back and the OPEC-plus, they call it OPEC plus additional states, are cutting back. And the problem is, nobody is driving the car anywhere in the world, essentially, 184 nations, factories are closed and businesses are closed. And so, all of a sudden we had really a lot of energy to start off with, oil in particular, we had a lot. And then all of a sudden, they lost 40/50% of their market, so it just stops. So, it’s going to be picking up and the energy business will be strong. But they cut back… It could be 20 million barrels, but it’s let’s say 15, and that was between Russia and Saudi Arabia. But this had to do with the squeeze and it was a very tough squeeze. So, a lot of people got-
You don’t think they [inaudible 00:59:47] more right now.
Donald Trump: (59:48)
Well, they got to do more by the market, to be honest. Look, same thing over here. If the market is the way it is, people are going to slow it down or they going to stop. That’s going to be automatic, and that’s happening.
Mr. President, on criminal justice reform and these SBA loans, I got an email earlier this morning from a fella in the Northwest who owns a supply business. And he has a felony on his record, nonviolent felony, in the past five years. Which under SBA guidelines make him ineligible for one of these PPP loans, so he has now had to let go 50 employees, many of whom are criminals trying to get back into society. I don’t believe there’s anything in the CARES Act that would restrict-
Donald Trump: (01:00:29)
If you give me the name of the company and his name, I’ll have that checked out, John. I’ll do that. It’s a friend of yours?
No, not a friend of mine. No. Just somebody who contacted me [crosstalk 01:00:39] blue.
Donald Trump: (01:00:38)
Why did he call you? He called you to say he’s a criminal and why did he get along or what’s…
Because he wanted to apply for an SBA loan and couldn’t, and wondered how that squared with your-
Donald Trump: (01:00:47)
Okay. If you give me the name, I’ll look into it. I’d like to look into that.
I have a [crosstalk 01:00:52] country.
Donald Trump: (01:00:51)
Caitlin, go ahead.
If these companies that open and they have employees come back to work and they get sick, will these companies be liable?
Donald Trump: (01:00:58)
Which companies, you’re talking about? Under what?
Any companies that are manufacturing, any kind of company that [crosstalk 01:01:06] sick.
Donald Trump: (01:01:06)
So, we have… I’ll give you an answer to that. I’ll give you a legal answer to that when we look it up, but we’re trying to take liability away from these companies. We just don’t want that. Because we want the companies to open and open strong, but I’ll get you a legal opinion on that.
Donald Trump: (01:01:18)
I’ll get you… Well, that’s what I’m saying. I’ll get you a legal opinion on that.
You guys haven’t discussed that yet?
Donald Trump: (01:01:22)
Nobody has discussed it, no. But we will, now.
Have any business executives voiced concern to you about being liable potentially?
Donald Trump: (01:01:29)
They didn’t [crosstalk 01:01:30] last week.
Donald Trump: (01:01:30)
Not at this point. But we’re going to look, because they have talked about general liability, so I’ll get you a specific answer from the lawyers. Go ahead, please.
Speaker 12: (01:01:38)
Thanks. [inaudible 01:01:38] to follow on oil. When you were talking earlier, you were talking about the PPP deal and then you mentioned the SPR and the first stimulus package even though you had announced that the-
Donald Trump: (01:01:53)
[crosstalk 01:01:52], but you know the price of oil right now, don’t you?
Speaker 12: (01:01:55)
I do. Do you know the price of oil…
Donald Trump: (01:01:58)
I do. I actually do.
Speaker 12: (01:01:58)
It’s negative $37.
Donald Trump: (01:02:00)
Of course, nobody has ever heard of negative oil before, but it’s for short-term.
Speaker 12: (01:02:05)
In your opening remarks, you were talking about the PPP deal and then you mentioned the 75 million barrels of oil that you previously had said you wanted to purchase.
Donald Trump: (01:02:15)
Speaker 12: (01:02:15)
You weren’t able to get funding for that in the first deal. So I’m wondering, are you-
Donald Trump: (01:02:19)
Well, at the price you’re talking about, you don’t need funding. They pay you, see.
Speaker 12: (01:02:22)
You can, if you can go get it in the next 24 hours.
Donald Trump: (01:02:22)
Because, right now… Well, if you can get it, that’s true. If you can get it.
Speaker 12: (01:02:26)
So, my question… My first question is, are you asking for that funding as part of the [crosstalk 01:02:33].
Donald Trump: (01:02:32)
Well, at a minimum, we’ll let people store. So, we’ll store it. We’ll use it as storage and charge for it. But people need storage desperately, and we have massive storage under the petroleum.
Speaker 12: (01:02:43)
So you’re not going to make it a requirement of the PPP/NRM funding deal [crosstalk 01:02:47]?
Donald Trump: (01:02:47)
It’s not a question of requirement. If we could buy it for nothing, we’re going to take everything we can get. The only thing I like better than that is where they pay you to take the oil, but that’s a short term squeeze. You understand that. So, it’s… I don’t think you’re going to see that. But no, we’d like to have Congress… This is a great time to buy oil. And we’d like to have Congress approve it so that we could instead of just storing it for the big, usually the big companies… Because, I think we have 75 million gallons right now, capacity. That’s a lot. It’s… We’ve been building it up over a period of time, but that’s a lot. 75 billion barrels. So we’re going to get… Either ask for permission to buy it or we’ll store it. One way or the other, it will be full. Please.
Speaker 12: (01:03:30)
Mr. President, [crosstalk 01:03:32].
Donald Trump: (01:03:31)
Go ahead. [crosstalk 00:11:33], finish up. We’ll go right to you.
Speaker 12: (01:03:36)
Some senators, including Senator Cramer, have called on you to stop Saudi oil shipments that are on the way right now. Is that… You can do that under Section 232, is that something that you would consider-
Donald Trump: (01:03:45)
Well, we’ll look at it. I heard, just as I’m walking into the room, we certainly have plenty of oil. So I’ll take a look at that. Yes, please.
Speaker 11: (01:03:55)
Two questions. First on testing, the second on the SBA loan program. When will you or will you in fact invoke the DPA to force that company you mentioned, to ramp up production [crosstalk 00:12:05]?
Donald Trump: (01:04:05)
Well, we don’t… We really don’t need it. We use it, we go up… And I’ve used it a lot. But we use it and then sometimes all they have to do is see it coming. Do you want to talk about that admiral, please?
Admiral Giroir: (01:04:17)
I think this is… I don’t think any of us knew very much about the DPA. But they’re sort of a foresight of the DPA where you force a company to do something, but there’s a second side of it which is really a hand up. The company we’re talking about, have done… Has done everything to support this effort. And they’ve ramped up production, I’m on the phone with them multiple times a day. This is the hand up. This is the government coming in and saying, “How can we help you expand your lines?” There’s no asynchrony here at all. So this is the hand up side of the DPA, which is exactly what these small American heroic companies need. They don’t need to be forced. They’re all in. Their employees are all in.
Speaker 11: (01:04:58)
So, a point of clarity-
Donald Trump: (01:04:58)
And we don’t want to embarrass people either. Please Brad, go ahead.
Brad Smith: (01:05:02)
So today we were on site…Or that we had folks on site with that company, finishing out what their capital projections will be in order to be able to ramp up these additional four lines that I spoke about. That company will then turn in a white paper to the DOD that will then help move the process forward, but it’s actively in process.
Speaker 11: (01:05:20)
And I fully understand that the need is enormous. But on March 24th… March 21st, the administration promised 27 million tests by the end of March. So far, roughly 4 million people have been tested. So, where are the other 23 million or so tests? Did they not materialize? Are they in the pipeline? Help us understand that discrepancy.
Admiral Giroir: (01:05:39)
So, since I was the one who said that, let me explain where we were. So, I was getting my information, was correct information, about the actual tests that are in the marketplace. So, if you want to use those metrics, there’s been over ’40 million’ in the marketplace. But we have an end to end issue that we needed to deal with. And that’s what we’ve been dealing with, the swabs, the transport media… If we don’t have people utilizing the machines, the way Dr. Birx is talking about, we have some of our main platforms that are only 10% being utilized. You could have a lot of tests in the market and those are correct numbers, but if the machines aren’t utilizing them and they’re not organized at that level, then they’re not being utilized to its fullest. And that-
Donald Trump: (01:06:25)
So that way you meant, if the machines were utilized, that would be-
Admiral Giroir: (01:06:28)
You would have a lot of those millions of tests already being done. I think Ambassador Birx has estimated that we have another million tests a week just on one platform. That could be done if the machines were utilized more fully.
Speaker 13: (01:06:40)
I have a question for Admiral Giroir.
Donald Trump: (01:06:40)
Speaker 13: (01:06:45)
Hi, Admiral Giroir. You said that there, and the vice president has said this and Mr. Smith said it, that there will be enough tests in place for phase one.
Speaker 14: (01:06:52)
Speaker 13: (01:06:53)
There are… The question is, what’s the standard of testing that you now have the capability for? Is it, test people who are only very ill? Is it test people who have the sniffles? Is it test people who come in just because they want to get a test? I mean, what is the standard here for the testing?
Admiral Giroir: (01:07:11)
It is the guidelines. But, I tried to be a little specific about this on Friday, and we all try to. Number one is, you need to test everyone who’s symptomatic, right? And you need to over test them, because-
Speaker 13: (01:07:22)
Admiral Giroir: (01:07:23)
We’re talking any symptoms that would be consistent with COVID, right? So… And there’s a wide range of symptoms, you want to test them and you want to over test. And we talked about the approximate metric with Ambassador Birx, fully supports because we… This is a good metric that you want to get about one positive for every 10 tests, then you know you over-sample. Second, and this is a really important part of the strategy, is because so many people are asymptomatic. There’s no way that you can test enough people to pull one asymptomatic out of 300 people in the population. So the strategy with… Ambassador Birx offered, and I talked to epidemiologist around the country, and they go, “Wow, I wish I would have thought of that.” Is to really focus on the vulnerable population where we know that the asymptomatic rate could be much higher than the rest of the population.
Admiral Giroir: (01:08:15)
And we are going to be focusing, and this is what my office does during normal times, focusing on the underserved populations, particularly in inner cities and urban areas, they have a higher rate because overcrowding, they can’t telework, they’re subject to a lot of comorbid conditions. Nursing homes, we all know about nursing homes and there’s both symptomatic and asymptomatic spread. And finally, some of our indigenous populations in the Indian Health Service. So this is a very important layer that most of the models and people don’t talk about, because that’s where we’re going to pick up the asymptomatic carrier tune. When you do that, that’s when you focus on track and trace.
Speaker 15: (01:08:53)
Sir, just a quick follow-up on that. If we have enough tests right now for everyone to go into phase one, why is the Governor of Maryland having to get half a million tests from South Korea?
Admiral Giroir: (01:09:02)
I don’t know what the Governor of Maryland is doing in South Korea, but there is excess capacity every day. If he wanted to send 30 or 40,000 tests to LabCorps and Quest, that could be done, that could be done tomorrow.
Speaker 15: (01:09:17)
[crosstalk 01:09:17] that they need it to start… To up their testing capacity and make it adequate. So they had to [crosstalk 01:09:22] South Korea.
Admiral Giroir: (01:09:22)
I think we’re seeing all across the country that in the states that have been hardest hit, their capacity… None of their capacity… They’re testing far exceeds South Korea, and they’ve been able to do that on a relatively straightforward basis. I don’t know what the Governor of Maryland… We talked to him today, he didn’t bring that up today.
Speaker 15: (01:09:40)
Admiral Giroir: (01:09:41)
We were on the governor’s call today?
Speaker 15: (01:09:43)
[inaudible 01:09:43] personally on this.
Speaker 16: (01:09:44)
Mike Pence: (01:09:47)
We spoke to Governor Hogan today, I’ll follow up. Because I heard there was an announcement today about… That he had acquired some tests from overseas. Maybe we can put the slide back up that showed the number of facilities just in the State of Maryland. And part of our process, and I don’t know when the governor placed the order from South Korea, wouldn’t begrudge him or his health officials for ordering tests. But, the capacity of all the different laboratories and the number of machines that are across Maryland, was part of what we were communicating today. Including federal facilities, NIH is in Maryland, there’s Department of Defense facilities and… What we assured the governor then and we assured all the governors is that, we’ll open up all of those facilities. But, John back to your point. There was one other element of that, that’s the phase one testing. And I can’t really describe it as well as the doctors here, but it’s the contact tracing piece.
Mike Pence: (01:10:49)
Where we really believe that states that meet the criteria 14 days of cases going down and proper hospital capacity, if they test people that have symptoms and if they deploy resources to vulnerable populations, nursing homes and other designated vulnerable populations where we believe the threat of serious outcomes from the coronavirus is real. Then we also today informed the governors, that we will be deploying CDC teams to every state and every territory in the country to assist them in contact tracing. Governor Jared Polis raised a very good point about the legislation. The president is currently negotiating on Capitol Hill. He recommended that we make sure that the new bill that has some $25 billion in testing resources also cover contact tracing expenses by states. We assured him our administration strongly supports that. We communicated that to the Secretary of the Treasury and the rest of our negotiation team and we’ll be pursuing that.
Mike Pence: (01:11:54)
But we were able to tell every one of the governors that we will be deploying teams, we think of 10 or 12 for a start from CDC to reside in all of our states and territories to supervise and work with contractors and others to do the kind of contact tracing. So it’s test people that don’t feel well and they have the coronavirus, keep a careful eye and monitor your vulnerable populations. And when you come across a case, have a team on the ground that can do the immediate contact tracing and testing. And that’s how we restrain and contain the spread of the coronavirus during phase one. And frankly, it’s the beginning of the structure for how we contain the coronavirus going forward.
Speaker 15: (01:12:39)
Donald Trump: (01:12:39)
And take a look at that map. If the Governor of Maryland could have called Mike Pence, he could have saved a lot of money. Look at all of the… Look at these different places, and that’s Maryland right there. So, he could have saved a lot of money, but that’s okay.
Speaker 15: (01:12:51)
So, you’re saying he didn’t need to go to South Korea for these testing kits.
Donald Trump: (01:12:53)
No, I don’t think he needed to go to South Korea. I think he needed to get a little knowledge, would have been helpful.
Speaker 15: (01:12:56)
Speaker 17: (01:12:57)
On the SBA loans, do you think it’s right that major corporations, major institutions like the [inaudible 01:13:01] restaurant chain, like Harvard University, apparently got a lot of money under the CARES Act, money that was supposed to be earmarked for small business owners, do you think that’s fair?
Donald Trump: (01:13:10)
Well, I know one thing, I didn’t get any, that’s for sure. I didn’t get any. We’ll look at individual things, and some people will have to return it if we think it’s inappropriate
Speaker 17: (01:13:18)
Or, should the criteria be changed so that money goes to people who need it the most?
Donald Trump: (01:13:21)
Well, it’s being done by great professionals, it’s being done by banks, and as you know community banks all over the country, they’re… That’s what they do. They loan money and they’re supposed to do it according to not only criteria, but according to what we think is right. But if somebody got something that we think is inappropriate, we’ll get it back. Good point. Please, go ahead.
Speaker 18: (01:13:40)
Yes. Another… A different question about South Korea. There are reports that you are personally negotiating with President Moon the terms of reduction of US Forces on the Korean Peninsula and that there are four scenarios involved, can you confirm that? And if so, what is your desired outcome?
Donald Trump: (01:13:56)
Well, I think that South Korea… I had a great talk with President Moon, he’s a friend of mine. I congratulate… He had a wonderful election victory. I was very happy about that. He was… As you know, just recently… No, we are negotiating for President Moon and for South Korea to help us monetarily. Because, we, as you know, we have 32,000 soldiers there, that varies from 28 to 32,000 in South Korea. And we think that… Before I came aboard, they paid very little, if anything. So we’re defending a wonderful nation, a nation that we have great relationships, but we’re asking them to pay for a big percentage of what we’re doing. It’s not fair. So, it’s not a question of reduction. It’s a question of will they contribute toward the defense of their own nation. We’re defending nations that are very wealthy. South Korea is a very wealthy nation. They make our television sets, they make ships, they make everything, and I give them great credit.
Donald Trump: (01:14:56)
We’ve been defending them for many decades, as you know, many… Over eight decades. And I’ve gone to them in the past. Last year I went to them and now they’re paying $1 billion a year. And I went to them again, I said, “Look, I’ll be back because that’s just a fraction.” And again, the relationship is a great, but it’s just not a fair relationship. We renegotiated the trade deal and made it a much more equitable deal than it was in the past. It was a terrible deal. It was done by Hillary Clinton. It was a terrible deal. The new deal is a much more equitable deal that’s on trade. But on the military, I mean, we’re paying for the military to defend another nation that’s 8,500 miles away. And they’re not the only one I’m talking to by the way, as you know. I won’t go into names. But I’ve done this, nobody talks about it.
Donald Trump: (01:15:45)
But I think it’s appropriate. I think the taxpayer of our country… Taxpayers want to hear these things. And so now, they’re… They’ve offered us a certain amount of money and I’ve rejected it. I just said, “It’s just… Look, we’re doing a tremendous service. We have a wonderful feeling and a wonderful relationship with each other, but we have to be treated equitably and fairly.” And so, that’s where it is right now. And what’s going to happen, I can’t tell you, but we’ll find out fairly soon. But, I congratulate the president who’s a friend of mine. I congratulate President Moon on having a terrific victory. Please.
Speaker 19: (01:16:22)
A question for you about Governor Cuomo’s visit, and then also a question for Dr. Birx, if you all may.
Donald Trump: (01:16:27)
Speaker 19: (01:16:30)
The New York Governor along with the National Governors Association in the past have called for aid to be unrestricted as a lot of state and local governments see their revenues drop. Are you open to the idea of unrestricted aid or do you want it to be pandemic specific?
Donald Trump: (01:16:46)
Well, we’re going to be talking about that in phase four, as you know, which we’ll start very shortly. That has to do with infrastructure, hopefully infrastructure, because this country needs infrastructure. We spend all this money in the Middle East, $8 trillion, with a T, dollars in the Middle East. But if you have a pothole in a highway someplace, they don’t want you to spend the money to fix it. How stupid have we been in this country? How stupid have we been? And that’s changing rapidly, you know that, you’ve seen that. Including things like negotiating with friends. But when we are helping friends, friends should reimburse us for the cost.
Donald Trump: (01:17:23)
I mean, why should we be defending nations for free? We’re defending a nation for free. Now I’m getting $1 billion a year and we’re… We’ll be getting… We were offered much more than that, but I turned it down. So that’s where we are with that. As far as the other is concerned, look, we have to be smart in this country. We’ve been taken to the cleaner by every… And I mean, with allies, not just with the enemies, with allies. We’ve been to… Frankly, the allies have taken us much more so than the enemies. The enemies we don’t do business with, right? The allies we do business with… And whoever made these deals, whoever made these contracts, in many cases, we didn’t have a contract. We didn’t have a contract…
Donald Trump: (01:18:03)
In many cases, we didn’t have a contract, like we didn’t have a contract, we didn’t have a trade deal with China. They came in and they took $500 billion a year for many years, but anywhere from 200 to $550 billion a year out of our hides. Now we made this great trade deal. Unfortunately, that was a number of months ago and it’s a great deal. They’re paying 25% on $250 billion. A lot of things happening. They’re going to have to purchase $250 billion worth of goods, including farm product up to $50 billion. So a lot of good things are happening. But then what happened with China was the plague hit us, right, the plague. That was after. This was long after we signed the deal. The plague hit us, so I’m not happy about that. Okay. John, please.
A question for Dr. Birx, if I could. Dr Birx, a question on the virus itself. As it passes from patient to patient and mutates, over time have you picked up any indication that it has become less virulent? Have you picked up any indication it has become more virulent?
Dr. Birx: (01:19:07)
You know, that is an excellent question because we watch that all the time, particularly with RNA viruses, to really track its adaptation to humans. I mean, you’re really asking has this virus become more adapted to humans and more able to spread, or is it becoming less adapted to humans and less able to spread? We don’t have any indication that it’s less able to spread, and we’ll have good analyses that will come from, obviously the Roosevelt had its incident with the virus outside of the United States, and we’ll be able to look at those parameters, and the DOD and the military have done a great job in really ensuring the health of the sailors, but also ensuring thar these questions can really be asked and answered.
Dr. Birx: (01:19:54)
We have extraordinary evolutionary molecular biologists in this country all around the United States, and they’re looking at this very question, and a lot of the work that we’ve been doing and you’ll see a lot of work happening with testing in New Mexico and testing in other states. They have extraordinary molecular biologists that are evolutionary biologists, and they’ll be able to look at that both in New Mexico that may have lower transmission rates, and compare that to New York that has maybe 10 X the transmission. But it’s an excellent question and it’s something that will be able to be answered by what we see in the United States.
Donald Trump: (01:20:32)
John, what a good question that was. Where did that come from?
Every once in a while, I pull it out of my hat, Mr. President.
Donald Trump: (01:20:36)
No, that’s very impressive. You know when Senator Schumer wrote a letter a couple of months ago and he said, “You should use admirals and generals.” I said, “Well, first of all, we have our Vice President has been incredible, but we have the admirals, we have the generals,” and I was just talking to the Admiral inside just before we came out. I said, “Did you go to Annapolis?” He said, “No, sir.” I said, “Oh, that’s too bad. That’s too bad. Where did you go?” He said, “I went to Harvard.” Oh, that’s okay too, I guess. Right? So you went to Harvard and he was a great student at Harvard. He’s doing a fantastic job. And this young gentleman was very, very successful, but he wanted to help the country. He wanted to come into the country and we appreciate it very much. He was a big success, big, big success. Let’s do here and there next. Okay. We’re all set. Go ahead.
Speaker 20: (01:21:27)
Thank you, Mr. President. I was hoping you talked about your meeting tomorrow with Governor Cuomo that you mentioned. Is there a reason he’s coming all the way down here?
Donald Trump: (01:21:33)
I don’t know. He wanted to [crosstalk 01:21:35] and we believe it or not, we get along, okay? He was very generous yesterday in particular, said we did a “phenomenal deal.” I don’t know if anybody wrote that, but he said that and I appreciated it because it’s not about me. It’s about these people and thousands behind Mike, and the Admiral, and all of the other people that are working with us. I mean, and you see it. Look, I don’t understand when I see a polling and approval ratings for the job. I mean, this group should get a 95. It really should. And we’re really helping the governors. And the governors call me, the ones I know, or the Republicans, but the ones I know, and they say it’s incredible the job you’re doing. Again, not me, the job this group is doing. And you sit here and I’m watching from the corner and I’m just saying, boy, it’s incredible stuff.
Donald Trump: (01:22:29)
When you watch the General get up, General Semonite, and talk about boom, boom, boom. You don’t see that. You don’t see that. When you hear the Admiral speak about the testing, how good it is, and yet people don’t like to say it. But remember, it was all about ventilators a month ago. Ventilators, ventilators, then we fixed it. You don’t hear about ventilators. Where is the ventilator? Jeff, you haven’t asked about ventilators recently. What’s going on? What about ventilators? We’re helping other countries now because they can’t have, they’re very hard to come by and they take a long time to make, like years.
Donald Trump: (01:23:02)
It’s incredible the job they’ve done, that our people have done, and also private companies have done. You know, you talk about the Act. We don’t like to use it unless we have to, but a lot of times just the fact that you have it, gets you everything you need. So you know, we don’t want to embarrass any of the companies, but we have used it on a number of occasions, and it worked. But it works just as well before you have to use it because they don’t want to be embarrassed and I don’t want to embarrass them because they’ve done a great job. Please go ahead.
Chanel Rion: (01:23:32)
Thank you, Mr. President.
Donald Trump: (01:23:32)
No, I think Rick behind you. I promised. I cannot tell a lie. So I mean we’ll get you next. Okay?
Speaker 21: (01:23:38)
Are you talking to her or me?
Donald Trump: (01:23:38)
No no, you.
Speaker 21: (01:23:41)
Me, okay. Well, thank you so much, Mr. President. My question, I have two questions, the first one is on testing. You talked about the idea that first it was ventilators, now it’s testing. You seem to maybe possibly be implying that talking about testing as a personal attack on you. Can you explain why you think testing, talking about testing, is a personal attack given that the access to testing has been an issue for a long time. There’s bipartisan outcry still today that there’s not enough testing. Why do you think it’s a personal attack on you?
Donald Trump: (01:24:06)
Well, it’s not bipartisan. It’s mostly partisan, but more importantly than mostly partisan, it’s incorrect. You have the experts. Look at these maps. I mean, you have the maps with so many different locations. In the case of, as an example, Governor Hogan, he didn’t really know. It was very obvious to any of those listening to the call today, even though you weren’t supposed to be on it, I’m sure that some of you were, or representatives were, he really didn’t know about the federal laboratories. Would you say that’s correct, Mike? He didn’t know. He didn’t know and Mike doesn’t like to get into this stuff. He’s less controversial than I am, but he didn’t know about it. And if he did know about it, he would have been happy. No, we’ve done a really good job in testing. Now, with that being said, we have tests coming out perhaps over the next two weeks that will blow the whole industry away.
Donald Trump: (01:24:57)
Now, a lot of people love the Abbot tests. So do I. You know, the Abbott test is great because it’s boom, they touch, they put it in, in five minutes you have… The problem is that doesn’t do massive numbers like the big machine. But the big machine takes a day, takes a day and a half with delivery and everything else. But we have tremendous testing, tremendous testing capability. Remember this, we’ve tested more than any country in the world by far. In fact, I think I read where if you add up every other country in the world, we’ve tested more.
Donald Trump: (01:25:33)
But remember this, we’re dealing in politics. We’re dealing with a thing called November 3rd of this year. Do you know what November 3rd represents? Right? You know better than anybody in the room. November 3rd of this year, it’s called the presidential election. No matter what I do, no matter where we go, no matter how well we do, no matter what, if I came up with a tablet, you take it and this plague is gone, they’ll say Trump did a terrible job, terrible, terrible. Because that’s their soundbite. That’s the political soundbite. They know the great job we’ve done.
Donald Trump: (01:26:08)
But with all of that being said, and also, there is a thing that somebody could talk to if they want, but I don’t want to bore you with it. Not everybody believes we should do so much testing. You don’t need so much. We’re talking about maximum maximum. The reason that the Democrats and some others maybe because they don’t know, they want maximum because they want to be able to criticize, because it’s almost impossible to get to the maximum number, and yet we’ve been able to do it already. But with that, and you’ll be seeing this over the next, I think over the next couple of weeks or sooner, we have a test. If it comes out, it’ll revolutionize the whole world of testing. It’ll be something really special. So I don’t view it as personal at all. What I do say is it’s something that’s not fair to thousands of people that have done such a good job.
Speaker 21: (01:26:54)
That second question is about your language and how you approached the coronavirus at the beginning. I interviewed someone who said that his family got sick. They went to a funeral in mid-March. And they said mainly because the President wasn’t taking it serious, and he said, “If the President had had a mask on, if he was saying we should stay home, then I would have stayed home.” [crosstalk 01:27:13] But he said his family members were sick and because they were listening to you, do you feel like or are you concerned that downplaying the virus maybe got some people sick?
Donald Trump: (01:27:24)
And a lot of people love Trump, right? A lot of people love me. You see them all the time, right? I guess I’m here for a reason, you know. To the best of my knowledge, I won, and I think we’re going to win again. I think we’re going to win in a landslide. But just so you understand, you’re talking about March, right? And yet, [crosstalk 01:27:42] excuse me, excuse me. I know, I understand. And yet in January, a certain date, you know the date better than I do, we put on a ban of China where China can’t come in, and before March we put on a ban in Europe where Europe can’t come in. So how could you say I wasn’t taking it seriously? You know, I put on a ban on China before anybody in this country died. I put on a ban and so you tell me. Nancy Pelosi, she wanted to have a street party in Chinatown in San Francisco at the end of February.
Donald Trump: (01:28:18)
That’s a month later. And then they tell me it’s only a political talking point, but you feed into it because you’re too good a reporter to let that happen. Really, you are a good reporter. You’re too good a reporter to let that happen. Remember this. So at the end of January, I put on a ban. People that were in that room will tell you. I think there were 21 people. I was the only one in the whole room that wanted to do it. Fortunately, I was the one that counted for that purpose. We put on a ban because I was reading bad things about China. World Health Organization should have told us, but I was reading it with or without them. They should have known. All they had to do is read it. They didn’t have to even be there, but they tried to cover up for China.
Donald Trump: (01:28:55)
World Health covered up for China. [crosstalk 01:28:58] But no, no wait, but you can’t say this. I put on a ban. In other words, I stopped China from coming to the United States. I stopped Europe from coming into the United States long before the March date that you’re talking about. So people should say I acted very early. That was a very hard thing to do. Doing that was a very hard thing. I didn’t want to do that. [crosstalk 01:29:19] But I did it because I thought, and Dr. Fauci said that by doing it, President Trump saved tens of thousands of lives. So I did take it very seriously.
Speaker 21: (01:29:29)
You held rallies in February and in March. And there are some American-
Donald Trump: (01:29:32)
Oh, I don’t know about rallies. I really don’t know about rallies. I know one thing [crosstalk 01:29:35], I haven’t left the White House in months, except for a brief moment to give a wonderful ship, The Comfort-
Speaker 21: (01:29:43)
You held a rally in March.
Donald Trump: (01:29:45)
I don’t know. Did I hold a rally? I’m sorry. I hold a rally. Did I hold the rally? Let me tell you. In January when I did this, you had virtually no cases and no deaths, and yet I put it on. So how could I not? Why was Nancy Pelosi, right, Nancy Pelosi is holding a street fair. She wants a street fair in San Francisco in Chinatown to prove, you know what the purpose of it, was to prove that there’s no problem. Many other politicians did the same thing and wanted to prove [crosstalk 01:30:16] while I was… No, of course not. No, no, no. People are amazed at how early I acted and I did act early. With that being said, it’s very hard to say, let’s close down the greatest economy in the history of the world. I had it closed down, I and everybody else that works with me, and close to 350 million people built the greatest economy in the history of the world, best employment numbers, best stock market numbers, best numbers in virtually every category, even good manufacturing numbers.
Donald Trump: (01:30:48)
The previous administration said manufacturing was dead for our country, even great manufacturing numbers and you know what? I did that and somebody walked into my office and said, “Sir, you’re going to have to close down the economy. You’re going to have to close the country.” But you know what I say to you? We’re going to rebuild it, and we’re going to rebuild it better, and it’s going to go faster than people think. I built it once. I build it a second time. Please.
Chanel Rion: (01:31:11)
Mr. President, thank you, Chanel Rion with One America News.
Donald Trump: (01:31:14)
Please. Go ahead.
Chanel Rion: (01:31:17)
Going back to the topic of friendship and bipartisanship, Americans with the exception of Pelosi, Schumer and even Romney, Americans have seen an unprecedented chapter of bipartisanship and cooperation on the political landscape. On a personal note, what has been the most significant signal that your relationship with Democrats [inaudible 01:31:39] level have changed for the good of America?
Donald Trump: (01:31:42)
I think it’s a great question because there is bipartisanship. Look, we’re getting the paycheck plan. It’s already 350 billion was approved, essentially unanimously, and we have another 250 which I think you’re going to find out is going to be a higher number than that. Okay. I won’t say it now because I don’t know if they’ve released it or not, but it’s going to end up being more than 250 billion, and this is going to small businesses, and is going to workers, and these are really bipartisan plans. It’s a great thing that’s happening. So I think the fact that we’re able to do all of this in a bipartisan way is great.
Donald Trump: (01:32:18)
Now the tax cuts that the Republicans did, we had no help from the Democrats. So you can’t say that’s bipartisan, but this whole thing getting our country back, and you know, Nancy Pelosi’s been, she’s very nasty. She wasted a lot of time with a impeachment hoax. It was a total hoax, went nowhere, and that was not good. And Schumer, I guess it’s the same thing, but he sort of accepted it. He just did what he was supposed to do and he didn’t do very well with it. But you know, that was not appropriate. That was a bad thing for our country. But it was fine. I mean, I understand the game. They have a little bit of a majority, so they say, let’s do something and let’s try and stir it up.
Donald Trump: (01:32:58)
But they wasted a year. They wasted tremendous. We could have been doing things that would have been great for our country. They could have been looking into China. They should have been looking into China as an example. A lot of people are blaming the Democrats for wasting all that time because it was during that period of time, as you know, that it was fomenting, but I think we’ve had a great spirit of bipartisanship in a certain way.
Donald Trump: (01:33:21)
I wouldn’t say we’re going to set records throughout the world, but things are happening that are very good. The country is coming together, and I’ll tell you what, the people are coming together. The people are really coming together. I think you’re going to find that our country is much more unified. I do think that the press, the media foments a lot of anger. I really believe it foments tremendous anger. For instance, I’ll be asked a tremendously hostile question from somebody, and then I’ll answer it in a hostile way, which is appropriate. otherwise you look foolish. Otherwise it looks like just walk off the stage and bow your head. I can’t do that. You know? I just can’t do that. But a lot of these questions that are asked from certain networks are so hostile and there’s no reason for it.
Donald Trump: (01:34:10)
There’s no reason for it. We are in a war. This is a World War II. This is a World War I, where by the way, the war essentially ended because of a plague. That was one of the worst ever. They lost almost a hundred million people. But we’re in a big war. And I’ll say one thing about, because I think it’s important, the last person, I did it early, but I was the last person that wanted to close down one of the great economic, you can’t call it an experiment, but everything I guess in life is an experiment. So let’s say experiments, but one of the great economic stories in history, I’m the last person that wanted to do it, but we did the right thing, because if we didn’t do it, you would’ve had a million people, a million and a half people, maybe two million people dead.
Donald Trump: (01:34:59)
Now we’re going toward 50, I’m hearing, or 60,000 people. One is too many. I always say it. One is too many, but we’re going toward 50 or 60,000 people. That’s at the lower, as you know, the low number was supposed to be 100,000 people. We could end up at 50 to 60. Okay, it’s horrible. If we didn’t do what we did, we would have had, I think, a million people, maybe 2 million people, maybe more than that. And you look it, there’s one country in particular that decided let’s wing it. Let’s just keep going. They are being inundated with death.
Donald Trump: (01:35:43)
Now if you take a look at some of the hospitals, where one of them I knew growing up in Queens, and I’m looking at the bodies laying in hallways being brought into refrigerator trucks, the trucks, these massive trucks, bodies going in, multiply that times 10. It’s not sustainable. And many of the people that have this theory, Oh let’s, you know, maybe we could have just gone right through. I was somebody that would have loved to have done that, but it wouldn’t have been sustainable. You can’t lose a million people. That’s almost double what we lost in the Civil War. I use that as a guide, Civil War, 600,000 people died. So it’s not sustainable.
Donald Trump: (01:36:28)
But it could have been much more than a million people. I mean if you took a number and cut it in half and half and in half again, you’d end up at 500,000 people, okay, if you want to make a very conservative guesstimate. 500,000 people is not acceptable. Is that a correct sort of an analogy? So I mean I see it all the time. My friends of mine, people that I have great respect for. Well we could have done this, we could have done, and remember this, when we say 50 and they compare 50 to the 35 of the flu, because it’s averaged 35, 36,000 over a 10 year period. It’s a lot. Who would think that?
Donald Trump: (01:37:03)
But we’re not talking about with the flu. It just goes. We’re not locking ourselves in our units. We’re not locking ourselves in our apartments and not moving and not touching anybody and just saying, you know, the world. In this case we are, and we’re still going to lose between 50 and 60, but if we just kept it going on a normal basis, which is really the only standard that you can compare it to with the flu, because that was a normal basis. You get into an airplane, you travel to Florida, you go to Texas, you go wherever you’re going. But in this case, if we didn’t do anything, the number wouldn’t be 50 to 60,000, the number would be a million people dead. It would be 1,000,005, 1,000,002, maybe 700,000. It would have been a number in like that, and it’s so important because I see so much.
Donald Trump: (01:37:57)
Oh well, you know. You can’t compare it because I’ll tell you what, the people of this country, what they’ve done, they’ve gone out of their had the way they’ve lived. It’s not great. It’s terrible. Maybe the first three days, they’re all of a sudden, you see what’s going on. They want to get going, and I get that fully. But I just say this. If we would have done that, we would’ve lost anywhere from a million to more than two million people. Now, with all of the death that we’ve seen at 50 or 60,000 people heading toward, right now it’s at 40, but 50 or 60,000 people, probably over 54, and [inaudible 01:38:37], but that’s with our guard up. If we took our guard down and just said, “Okay, we’re just going to keep this open,” we would have lost millions of people.
Donald Trump: (01:38:47)
Can you imagine? Look how bad it looks now when you look at the bodies, when you look at Hart Island in New York where they have the mass grave, and all of the things that you see, can you imagine if we had the guard down, if we didn’t do anything and we just said, “Let’s ride it out?” It would not have been sustainable in any way. It would have been an atrocity. So we’ve done the right thing. We’ve really done the right thing. And the people that have worked so hard and dangerously, I’ll tell you again, I say it, but I watched those doctors and nurses and medical people running into those hospitals, and they don’t even have that gear on. Forget about gear, whether it’s great gear or not, and we’re bringing in the best gear in the world, but they’re running in with open everything.
Donald Trump: (01:39:35)
I mean, the job, they like warriors, the job they’re doing. But if we didn’t do the moves that we made, you would have had a million, a million and a half, 2 million people dead. So multiply that times 50, you’re talking about you would’ve had 10 to 20 to 25 times more people dead than all of the people that we’ve been watching. That’s not acceptable. The 50,000 is not acceptable. It’s so horrible. But can you imagine multiplying that out by 20 or more? It’s not acceptable. So it’s a very good question. I appreciate it. We’ll see you tomorrow. We’ll see you tomorrow.
Mike Pence: (01:40:26)