Jul 23, 2020
Donald Trump Coronavirus Press Conference Transcript July 23: Talks GOP Convention, School Reopening
President Donald Trump held a Coronavirus Task Force press conference about on July 23. He announced the cancellation of the Jacksonville, Florida component of the GOP Convention and said some schools may need to delay opening. Read the transcript of his news briefing here.
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President Donald J. Trump: (00:00)
Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you. We’ve had a tremendous week uniting the country in our fight against the China virus. I’ve reminded people of the importance of masks when you can’t socially distance, in particular. A strong message has been sent out to young people to stop going to crowded bars and other crowded places. Yesterday, we made the amazing announcement for our plans to protect nursing home residents. We’re working very hard on that. We’re doing very well all over the country, and also about contracting with Pfizer. We made a big, big, beautiful contract with Pfizer. We think they’re very close, but we have a lot of companies that are very close to produce a vaccine. And I wanted to come out again today to share some additional news with you.
President Donald J. Trump: (11:01)
This afternoon, my political team came to me and laid out our plans for the convention in Jacksonville, Florida. It’s a place I love and I love that state. The drawings look absolutely beautiful. I never thought we could have something look so good so fast with everything going on. And everything was going well. A tremendous list of speakers, thousands of people wanting to be there, and I mean, in some cases desperately be there. They wanted to attend. People making travel arrangements all over the country. They wanted to be there. The pageantry, the signs, the excitement were really, really top of the line. But I looked at my team and I said, “The timing for this event is not right. It’s just not right with what’s happened recently, the flare up in Florida, to have a big convention. It’s not the right time.” It’s really something that, for me, I have to protect the American-
President Donald J. Trump: (12:03)
… really something that for me, I have to protect the American people. That’s what I’ve always done. That’s what I always will do. That’s what I’m about. They said, “Sir, we can make this work very easily. We have great enthusiasm, incredible enthusiasm.” Even the polls say about the most enthusiasm they’ve seen. We can do this safely and we can do it responsibly. I said, there’s nothing more important in our country than keeping our people safe, whether that’s from the China virus or the radical left mob that you see in Portland, where I want to thank Homeland Security and others in law enforcement for doing a fantastic job over the last few days they went in. People were out of control for 51 days, long time, and Homeland Security and other law enforcement with us went in and they’ve done a great job in protecting our property, federal courthouse and other property.
President Donald J. Trump: (13:01)
And most importantly, protecting our people. Or the senseless violence that you see in Chicago or New York or Detroit. A lot of other cities where so many people are shot and so many people are killed. People elected me to help and to protect. So I told my team it’s time to cancel the Jacksonville, Florida, component of the GOP Convention. We’ll be starting in North Carolina for the Monday as has always been planned. We were never taking that off. That’s remaining as it is. The delegates are going to get together. That’s where they do their nomination. So the delegates are going to North Carolina and they’ll be doing the nomination.
President Donald J. Trump: (13:47)
We’re going to do some other things with tele-rallies and online the week that we’re discussing, which will be really good. I think we’re going to do it well. I’ll still do a convention speech in a different form, but we won’t do a big crowded convention per se. It’s just not the right time for that. I care deeply about the people of Florida and everywhere else, frankly, in this country and even in the world who would be coming into the state, and I don’t want to do anything to upset it. They’ll be doing very well very shortly. We’re going to put some maps up of the country behind me. You’ll see that the area that we’re talking about is a hotspot. You’ll also see a lot of the country has no problem whatsoever, most of the country actually.
President Donald J. Trump: (14:38)
So I’m always going to take care of you so that that’s the way we’re going to do it. I’ve spoken to Governor DeSantis and informed other political leaders. I want to thank the Jacksonville community, and it’s great merries. Really great guy. They wanted it so badly, and all of the other political representatives in Jacksonville and in Florida. Just very special people, a very special group, and they were there for us 100%.
President Donald J. Trump: (15:12)
Today I want to provide an update on the actions we’re taking to support the safe reopening of America schools. Parents around the world who have had their children home for the last few months have a greater appreciation for the fact that teachers are essential workers, that they’re essential to our children’s future. Our goal is to protect our teachers and students from the China virus while ensuring that families with high risk factors can continue to participate from home. Very important. The American Academy of Pediatrics has released guidance recommending that schools reopen.
President Donald J. Trump: (15:51)
It said, “Lengthy time away from school and associated interruption of supportive services often results in a social isolation, making it difficult for schools to identify and address important learning deficits as well as child and adolescent physical and sexual abuse, substance abuse, depression, and suicidal ideation. This in turn places children and adolescents at considerable risk of morbidity and of some cases, mortality. Beyond the educational impact and social impact of school closures, there’s been a substantial impact on food security and physical activity for children and for families.” So that’s very important and there’s a… either way, it goes both ways.
President Donald J. Trump: (16:46)
The National Education Association recently stated despite the momentous efforts of educators during the pandemic, online learning has never been an effective replacement for in-person learning and support. Being at the school, being on the campus is very, very important. One study estimates that due to school closures last spring, the average student will begin the school year roughly 35% behind in reading compared to the typical year, and more than 50% behind in math. That’s a big statement. According to McKinsey & Company, learning loss will probably be greatest among low income Black and Hispanic students. They’re the ones that are hit the hardest. We don’t want that happening.
President Donald J. Trump: (17:35)
30 million American students rely on schools for free and reduced meals. Over 70% of the students who receive mental health services do so through their schools. According to HHS, one in five reports allegedly having to do with child abuse. They have neglect, and these neglected cases are submitted by education personnel. So, people in the education world on the premises will be the ones that report neglect and other problems. When they see the children, they know if they’ve been neglected. They know if they’ve been hurt or harmed in any way, whether it’s at home or someplace else, but they see this at school. You don’t get to see that if you’re not going to school. It’s a big thing.
President Donald J. Trump: (18:26)
Fortunately, the data shows that children are lower risk from the China virus. Very substantially. When children do contact the virus, they often have only very mild symptoms or none at all, and medical complications are exceedingly rare. Those that do face complications often have underlying medical conditions. 99% of all China virus hospitalizations are adults and 99.96% of all fatalities are adults. That means that children are a tiny percentage, less than 1%, and even a small percentage of 1%. In a typical year, the flu results in more deaths of those under 18 in the United States that have been lost thus far to the coronavirus. Many different names. Many, many different names. The life of every child is sacred and must be protected. Our sole focus is the health and wellbeing of America’s children.
President Donald J. Trump: (19:34)
I have a very, very special person who loves children who’s I think one of the greatest athletes of all time. A lot of people say the greatest pitcher of all time, known as the relief pitcher. Could have been whatever he wanted. To some people, he is the greatest reliever of all time by far, substantially more saves than anybody else. In fact, he got the Presidential Medal of Freedom recently, and he… I’m reading off these stats. I knew he was the best, I knew he was great, but I didn’t know it was almost double anybody else.
President Donald J. Trump: (20:07)
But he’s a man who loves children. Has children, loves children, works hard with children. We’re going to go outside and be with some little leaguers. Mariano Rivera. He’s the Sandman, right? My wife said, “Darling, why do they call him the Sandman?” I said, “They play the song. He just puts the batteries to sleep.” And that’s exactly what happen. So, having Mariano here is a great honor. Thank you very much. I was talking about children and schools, and there’s nobody that’s done more than you have. Thank you very much, Mariano. Fantastic man.
President Donald J. Trump: (20:42)
Given these considerations, we believe many school districts can now reopen safely provided they implement mitigation measures and health protocols to protect families, protect teachers and to protect students. So we do have to protect the teachers and the families also. We have to remember that all families should be empowered to make the decision that is right for their own circumstance. This is especially important if a child has underlying health conditions or lives with a parent or grandparent who is at higher risk.
President Donald J. Trump: (21:15)
In cities or states that are current hotspots, and you’ll see that in the map behind me, districts may need to delay reopening for a few weeks. That’s possible. That’ll be up to governors. The decision should be made based on the data and the facts on the grounds in each community. But every district should be actively making preparations to open. Again, the children obviously have a very strong immune system. Maybe even as strong as yours. They seem to be able to fight it off and not have a problem. So, it’s pretty amazing actually. Great, great credit.
President Donald J. Trump: (21:57)
Our strategy to safely reopen schools mirrors our approach nationwide. As we race toward the completion of a vaccine and therapeutics, the responsible path is to shelter those at highest risk while allowing those at lower risk, much lower the case of young children, to resume work at school as long as everyone practices vigilant hygiene and social distancing. We want that. A permanent shutdown was never the strategy, which would ultimately lead to greater mortality and irreversible harms. We don’t want to do that. At the same time, we have to get our economy going. We had tremendous numbers issued yesterday. Housing prices, pricing of housing up 21%, the highest in history. It’s the highest number in history. Real estate housing went up 21%.
President Donald J. Trump: (22:55)
Today, the CDC will provide additional guidance for how schools can reopen safely. I hope that local leaders put the full health and wellbeing of their students first and make the right decision for children, parents, teachers, and not make political decisions. This isn’t about politics. It’s about something very, very important. This is not about politics. I even think it’s bad politics if you do the wrong decision, very bad politics. We’re asking Congress to provide $105 billion to schools as part of the next Coronavirus Relief bill. This funding will support mitigation measures such as smaller class sizes, more teachers and teacher aids, repurposing spaces to practice social distancing and crucially, mask wearing. This money is an addition to the $30 billion we secured for schools and universities earlier this year. That money we have, some is distributed and some is not distributed. If schools do not reopen, the funding should go to parents to send their child to public…
President Donald J. Trump: (24:03)
The funding should go to parents to send their child to public, private, charter, religious, or homeschool of their choice. The key word being choice. If the school is closed, the money should follow the student so the parents and families are in control of their own decisions. So we’d like the money to go to the parents of the student, this way they can make the decision that’s best for them. We cannot indefinitely stop 50 million American children from going to school, harming their mental, physical, and emotional development. Reopening our schools is also critical to ensuring that parents can go to work and provide for their families. The Council of economic advisers estimates that 5.6 million parents will be unable to return to work if schools do not reopen this year. It’s a tremendous problem. It’s a tremendous problem. Schools have to open safely, but they have to open. More than a dozen European countries, as well as South Korea, Taiwan, and many others have already reopened schools and cases have not risen. We can achieve the same goal if we unite together, follow the best medical practices, and apply common sense.
President Donald J. Trump: (25:20)
We’ll continue to support states and cities and the current hot spots in the south, southwest and west. The governors, I know them all. They’re all very, very capable. They’re doing a very good job. They’re working so hard. You wouldn’t even believe it. We have nearly 30,000 federal personnel deployed in the states that need assistance. We’re helping with doctors and nurses, medical personnel of all kinds. As a PPE update, we’re in close communication with governors and states. We have supplies, everything they could possibly need. We’re very strong on supplies. You remember I used to say the cupboards were bare? Well, now the cupboards are the opposite. Due to our historic efforts to increase both the national stockpile and the state stockpiles, the vast majority of the states have 60 days worth of supplies on hand.
President Donald J. Trump: (26:13)
And most importantly, they have ventilators because the ventilators are very, very hard to come by, at least in the past. Now we’re making thousands of ventilators a month and supplying them in many cases to other countries. For states that are making requests, we’re rapidly delivering. In the last 24 hours, FEMA has the deployed more than 1.5 million masks upon request, 1.7 million gowns, and 600,000, well, let me change that. We’ve created about 600,000 different supplies. We have 600 ventilators to Arizona, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Idaho, and Washington. I think the number is 600. We’re going to check that and we’ll give it to you in a little while, but we’ve got a stockpile of thousands of ventilators. I think we’ve sent out about 600 just recently.
President Donald J. Trump: (27:12)
The United States has now conducted more than 51 million tests, which is more than any other country in the world by far. Roughly half of the tests, or either the rapid point of care tests, which frankly solves a lot of problem and delay, five to 15 minutes instead of waiting for service both ways in both directions and then at the lab. But roughly half of them now, which is a tremendous increase, are five to 15 minute tests or tests done in a hospital where you get the results back in less than a day, some cases immediately.
President Donald J. Trump: (27:50)
We’re continuing to surge testing to current hot spots such as Miami and Phoenix to detect those with the virus and take steps to stop from spreading it further. There’s a copy of the map and you have it right behind me. That’s really very much indicating where the problems are. You see from that it’s in great shape, lots of it. The northeast has become very clean. The country is in very good shape, other than if you look south and west, some problems. That’ll all work out. On therapies, we’ve worked with Florida to ensure that over 40,000 vials of Remdesivir are arriving this week. It’s a lot. That’s a lot. They’re working around the clock to make it a tremendous impact. We’ve also shipped thousands of vials to Arizona, California, and Texas over the past two weeks. Arizona is doing very well. It’s heading down. Numbers are heading down. I think very quickly. Governor’s done a great job. They’ve all done a great job. They’ve all done a great job. Working hard.
President Donald J. Trump: (29:03)
We’ll continue to monitor the areas rising and with respect to cases, and we ask all Americans to exercise vigilance, practice social distancing, wear a mask, do whatever is necessary so we get rid of this horrible situation, this horrible disease that was sent to us by China. It should not have been sent. They should have stopped it. They could’ve stopped it. They didn’t. And the entire world has gotten infected and a lot of countries are going through a lot right now. This morning, I spoke with President Putin of Russia, and they’re going through a very hard time with this in Moscow in particular. I spoke to the Crown Prince Saudi Arabia. They’re doing well, but they’re going through a lot. Everybody’s going through a lot. Yesterday I spoke to the heads of four different countries. All four are going through a lot, going through a hard time. This could have been stopped. It could have been stopped quickly and easily, but for some reason it wasn’t, and we’ll figure out what that reason was. So with that, if you have any questions, please.
On the convention, were you simply not convinced that you could keep people safe at the convention?
President Donald J. Trump: (30:17)
I just felt it was wrong, Steve, to have people going to what turned out to be a hot spot. You know, when we chose it, it was not at all hot. It was free. And all of a sudden it happened quickly. It happens quickly and it goes away and it goes away quickly. The key is we wanted to go away without a lot of death, without a lot of problems. And we’re learning so much about the disease. That’s why we’re very cognizant of nursing homes. We’re watching them very carefully, and people over a certain age, and especially people over a certain age with diabetes or heart disease in particular, but with a problem. So we didn’t want to take any chances. So we had a lot of people. The delegates want to be there.
President Donald J. Trump: (30:59)
We’re going to do a fairly reasonably quick meeting in North Carolina. The nomination will be produced. And then we’ll announce what we’re doing, how we’re doing it, whether it’s something that’s done online, I guess, you could call it online. So there could be nothing like our last convention, unfortunately. That was a great convention in a great place, as you know. We had a great time, great time in Cleveland, but it’s a different world, and it will be for a little while. We want to get the world back to what it was. And I think we’ll have that including great job numbers, including so many things that are happening so positive. I have to say the stock market is close to records. For NASDAQ, it is a record. That’s already exceeded its highest numbers, but we want to get our country back to what it was.
So will your acceptance speech be from the White House and are you worried that-
President Donald J. Trump: (31:58)
We haven’t set that yet, Steve. We’ll probably announce that over the next few days.
Are you worried this might dampen enthusiasm for you?
President Donald J. Trump: (32:05)
Look, we’ve done a great job. We built the greatest economy in the world. Nobody close, not China, not anybody. We had to close it. We saved millions of lives and we opened it. But we had the best numbers in history for African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, every group you want to name, young people without a diploma, young people with a high school diploma, with a college diploma, anything you want to name, we had the best numbers. Women doing incredibly. Never been a time like that. And we had to turn it off because of what China did. We had to turn it off. And then all of a sudden, now we turn it back on and we’re doing very well, but it was very bad.
President Donald J. Trump: (32:50)
China, speaking about China, the trade deal means less to me now than it did when I made it. When I made it was a great deal, but they’re setting records. Yesterday was a record corn day. They purchased more corn than any order ever. And that went on for two or three days, and soybeans and all. But it just means much less to me. Can you understand that? It just means much less to me. Please. Go ahead.
Speaker 1: (33:19)
Thank you. What was the one thing, if there was one thing, that changed your mind about the convention and did Florida officials ask you to cancel it?
President Donald J. Trump: (33:23)
No, they didn’t. We’re dealing with them, but they didn’t. I would just say safety, just safety. I could see the media saying, “Oh, this is very unsafe.” I don’t want to be in that position. It’s safety. Not because of the media, but that’s what they would say, and we’ll have a very nice something. We’ll figure it out. It’ll be online in some form. Maybe it’ll be something even a little bit different. We have time. We’re talking about the end of August, but I think it’ll be something that will be exciting, but there can be nothing like having 25,000 people. We had a tremendous thing planned, a tremendous convention planned in North Carolina. And it would have been very good, but a much smaller version in Florida. But then we saw what was happening pretty quickly. We saw that the virus was coming up that coast. So.
Do you think it’s an ackowledgement of the severity of the situation in Florida?
President Donald J. Trump: (34:20)
No, I think it’s going to come and go. It will. I mean, you take a look at some of these locations were heavily infected, I mean, to a point where Deborah and I were talking that when you look at what happened in New York and what happened in New Jersey and other places, and now you’re looking and it’s gone. Hope it stays gone. I think it will. But we have to be vigilant. We have to be careful. And we also have to set an example. I think setting the example is very important. It’s hard for us to say we’re going to have a lot of people packed in a room and then other people shouldn’t do it.
President Donald J. Trump: (34:58)
Don’t forget, we’re talking about schools and we want them to be vigilant. And we’re saying open, and then we’re saying here, you have a big room, but I also, if you notice, I said, where bars are crowded, where other things are crowded. Well, there’s nothing more crowded than a convention. A convention, I mean, you’ve seen them. And even though you try and keep people away from each other, it’s just not that kind of a thing. They probably can’t do that. It just doesn’t work for them. So I think we’re setting an example by doing it. It’s very important. Yeah, John.
Mr. President, if I could come back to school openings. You talked about money that Congress is looking at to help schools who want to reopen. If school wants to reopen, but is concerned about testing, would you consider directing some of that money toward testing for either a school district or even individual schools if that’s what it took to open the school?
President Donald J. Trump: (35:47)
Yeah, I think so. I mean, a lot of people feel differently about testing. We talk about it a lot. When we have 50 million tests plus, and we broke the 50 million tests mark. Second in the world is India, which has 1.4-
President Donald J. Trump: (36:03)
… second in the world is India, which has 1.4 billion people, and they had 12 million tests. And other countries that are very big, had 2 million tests. And some countries, essentially only test if you’re sick and walk into a hospital, or walk into a doctor’s office, or you’re literally really sick, they essentially don’t do tests unless you’re sick. And I understand that too. So, if they feel that that’s what they want, it’s… That would be fine.
You would tell Congress… You would encourage Congress to pay for testing [crosstalk 00:00:32]?
President Donald J. Trump: (36:33)
I would, if they want. Again, we’ve done 50 million tests, there’s nobody even close in the whole world. You look at our mortality rate, you look at our death rate, you look at different statistics, we’re doing very well. But, one death is too many. This should never have happened, this should never have been allowed to happen from China.
Also, Mitch McConnell’s office just put out a statement a moment ago about the Phase 4 relief package, CARES 2, saying, “It’s tailored precisely for this phase of the crisis.” Yet it does not include your payroll tax cut. So, do you believe it’s perfectly balanced?
President Donald J. Trump: (37:06)
Yeah, I’d like to see a payroll tax cut, I think is great for the workers. The Democrats would never have gone for it. They don’t want it. They’re not big into the workers, I guess. And based on that, I told them last night, I told the Republicans who have been working very hard on this, I’ll tell you, and they want what’s right for the country. And hopefully, the Democrats ultimately will. But I said, “I think a payroll tax would be good.” But you’re not going to get it from the Democrats, we need their votes as you know. It’s not like… We have a majority, but it’s not enough that we… That’s why, I guess, we have an election coming up. So, you still need Democrat votes, and we’re not going to get the Democrat votes on that. So I’d like to see it, I think it would be very good for the workers. But, if we’re not going to get their votes, I guess we have to go onto the next thing. A payroll tax cut would have been very good. And maybe something happens. Yes, please.
Speaker 2: (37:53)
You talk about setting an example on Jacksonville, but I just wonder if some people are going to take away from this the lesson that you’re pushing too far, too fast. It seemed for a while the numbers were going up in Jacksonville and we were going to have a problem there. This comes up at a time you’re pushing for schools to reopen, we have the opening of the Major League Baseball season. Isn’t the example of Jacksonville that we’re pushing too fast?
President Donald J. Trump: (38:17)
Well, baseball, as an example, we were discussing a little while ago, you’re going to be at an empty stadium. I’ve agreed… Randy Levine is a great friend of mine from the Yankees, he asked me to throw out the first pitch. And I think I’m doing that on August 15th, at Yankee Stadium. And I say, “How’s the crowd going to be?” And it’s like you don’t have a crowd, there is no such thing. It’s going to be interesting, Mariano. He’s not used to that. I’ve been at many games, he walks in the place goes crazy. I think it’d be just as good without the crowd, you were just born with it, some people are born with it. I don’t know, this is only for the baseball players, but I’ve never seen a pitcher throw a ball where so many bats were broken as Mariano’s, he’s got the all- time record. I said, “How do you do that?” He said, “Great parents.” When you get right down to it, right? How do you do that? It’s called, parents. But-
Speaker 2: (39:08)
President Donald J. Trump: (39:09)
Yeah, just to finish. I think that we have to all set examples. I think Major League Baseball is setting an example by playing to empty stadiums and so are other sports, you see that. Now… Then they’ll allow a certain number in. I see golf is now… Soon will be allowing people to come in, in percentages. And all of a sudden, we want to get back to normal. The key is to get back to normal because nobody wants to see this. But, I think it’s really good that baseball is opening, it looks like football is opening, it looks like sports are opening. We have… it’s a tremendous thing, psychologically, for our country. And we’re all [inaudible 00:03:47]… We’re going to see, right now, some beautiful, young, Little Leaguers outside, with a great future ahead of them. They were already practicing on the front lawn of the White House. And we’re going to go out and say hello to them, and it’ll be really great. How about one more? Please, go ahead.
Speaker 3: (40:05)
President Trump, the Washington Post earlier today reported that one thing holding up the GOP coronavirus bill is the White House asking that it include language regarding the FBI building in downtown Washington, D.C., is that true?
President Donald J. Trump: (40:19)
I don’t know that they’re putting it in this bill. But, I know they want to have a new FBI building. This one is very old and it’s really… It was never built to a very high standard, as you probably have heard. And is got a lot of danger involved, and panels falling off the outside, and pieces of concrete falling off the building. And they want to build it at the site that they have it. They had options very far away from Washington. And I said to them, frankly, you have to be near the Justice Department. There’s nothing better than the site, the site they have now is better. But they were looking at sites in Maryland, and Virginia, and different places, but they would have been too far away. So, I have been encouraging them to build it. And if you’re going to… You have a choice. You can renovate the existing building, but it’s not a good building.
President Donald J. Trump: (41:03)
Or, you could take it down and build a great building for the FBI for a hundred years, and have it be incredible, even with tracks on top, they’re talking about. We have… Because, FBI people like to work out a lot. And you could have, literally, quarter mile tracks on top. It’s a very big site, very wide site. So, I think the idea… The best idea would be to build a new building and that way you have it for a long time. Renovation can never be as good as a new building, in that case. I know they’re talking about it, whether or not they put it in this bill or someplace else, but the FBI needs a new building and we’ll get it done. Thank you all very much. Thank you very much.