Feb 26, 2020
Donald Trump Coronavirus Press Conference Transcript: Trump and CDC Give Coronavirus Updates
Donald Trump and the CDC gave updates on the Coronavirus on February 26 and detailed the Unites States’ efforts to combat the outbreak. Read the transcript right here.
Donald Trump: (05:39)
Thank you very much everybody. Thank you very much. Before I begin, I’d like to extend my deepest condolences to the victims and families in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Earlier today, a wicked murderer opened fire at a Molson-Coors Brewing Company plant, taking the lives of five people. A number of people were wounded, some badly wounded. Our hearts break for them and their loved ones. We send our condolences, we’ll be with them and it’s a terrible thing. Terrible thing. So our hearts go out to the people of Wisconsin and to the families. Thank you very much. I’ve just received another briefing from a great group of talented people on the virus that is going around to various parts of the world. We have, through some very good early decisions, decisions that were actually ridiculed at the beginning, we closed up our borders to flights coming in from certain areas. Areas that were hit by the coronavirus and hit pretty hard, and we did it very early.
Donald Trump: (06:59)
A lot of people thought we shouldn’t have done it that early and we did, and it turned out to be a very good thing. And the number one priority, from our standpoint, is the health and safety of the American people, and that’s the way I viewed it when I made that decision. Because of all we’ve done, the risk to the American people remains very low. We had the greatest experts, really, in the world right here. The people that are called upon by other countries when things like this happen. We’re ready to adapt and we’re ready to do whatever we have to as the disease spreads, if it spreads. As most of you know, the level that we’ve had in our country is very low, and those people are getting better, or we think that in almost all cases the better they are getting.
Donald Trump: (07:51)
We have a total of 15. We took in some from Japan, you heard about that, because they’re American citizens and they’re in quarantine, and they’re getting better, too. But we felt we had an obligation to do that. It could have been as many as 42, and we found that it was just an obligation we felt that we had. We could have left them and that would have been very bad. Very bad, I think. American people, and they’re recovering. Of the 15 people, the original 15 as I call them, eight of them have returned to their homes to stay in their homes until fully recovered, one is in the hospital, and five have fully recovered, and one is, we think, in pretty good shape and is between hospital and going home. But we have a total of 15 people and they’re in a process of recovering with some already having fully recovered. We started out by looking at certain things that we’ve been working with the Hill very, very carefully, very strongly, and I think we have very good bipartisan spirit for money. We were asking for 2.5 Billion, and we think that’s a lot, but the Democrats and I guess Senator Schumer wants us to have much more than that. And normally in life, I’d say, “We’ll take it, we’ll take it.” If they want to give more, we’ll do more. We’re going to spend whatever’s appropriate. Hopefully, we’re not going to have to spend so much, because we really think we’ve done a great job in keeping it down to a minimum. And again, we’ve had tremendous success, tremendous success beyond what people would have thought. Now at the same time, you do have some outbreaks in some countries, Italy and various countries are having some difficulty.
Donald Trump: (09:58)
China you know about. Where it started. I spoke with President Xi, we had a great talk. He’s working very hard, I have to say. He’s working very, very hard, and if you can count on the reports coming out of China, that spread has gone down quite a bit. The infection seems to have gone down over the last two days, as opposed to getting larger, it’s actually gotten smaller and one instance where we think we can be somewhat reliable. It seems to have gotten quite a bit smaller. With respect to the money that’s being negotiated, they can do whatever they want. I mean, again, we’ll do the two and a half. We’re requesting two and a half. Some Republicans would like us to get four, and some Democrats would like us to get eight and a half and we’ll be satisfied whatever it is.
Donald Trump: (10:52)
We’re bringing in a specialist, a very highly regarded specialist tomorrow, who works actually at the State Department. Very, very tremendously talented in doing this. I want you to understand something that shocked me when I saw it, that I spoke with Dr. Foushee on this, and I was really amazed, and I think most people are amazed to hear it. The flu, in our country, kills from 25,000 people to 69,000 people a year. That was shocking to me. And so far, if you look at what we have, with the 15 people and they’re recovering, one is pretty sick, but hopefully will recover. But the others are in great shape. But think of that 25,000 to 69,000. Over the last 10 years, we’ve lost 360,000, these are people that have died from the flu, from what we call the flu. “Hey, did you get your flu shot?” And that’s something. Now what we’ve done is, we’ve stopped non-US citizens from coming into America from China. That was done very early on.
Donald Trump: (12:06)
We’re screening people, and we have been, at a very high level, screening people coming into the country from infected areas. We have in quarantine, those infected and those at risk. We have a lot of great quarantine facilities. We’re rapidly developing a vaccine and they can speak to you, the professionals can speak to you about that. The vaccine is coming along well, and then speaking to the doctors, we think this is something that we can develop fairly rapidly, a vaccine for the future, and coordinate with the support of our partners. We have great relationships with all of the countries that we’re talking about, some fairly large number of countries. Some it’s one person. And many countries have no problem whatsoever, and we’ll see what happens. But we’re very, very ready for this, for anything. Whether it’s going to be a breakout of larger proportions, or whether or not we’re at that very low level, and we want to keep it that way.
Donald Trump: (13:12)
So we’re at the low level. As they get better, we take them off the list so that we’re going to be pretty soon at only five people, and we could be at just one or two people over the next short period of time. So we’ve had very good luck. Johns Hopkins, I guess, it is a highly respected, great place. They did a study, comprehensive, “The Countries Best and Worst Prepared for an Epidemic” and the United States, we’re rated number one. We’re rated number one for being prepared. This is a list of different countries. I don’t want to get in your way, especially since you do such a good job.
Donald Trump: (13:55)
This is a list of the different countries. United States is rated number one. Most prepared. United Kingdom, Netherlands, Australia, Canada, Thailand, Sweden, Denmark, South Korea, Finland, this is a list of the best rated countries in the world by Johns Hopkins. We’re doing something else that’s important to me, because he’s been terrific in many ways, but he’s also very good on health care and we really followed him very closely. A lot of states do. When Mike was governor, Mike Pence, of Indiana, they’ve established great healthcare, they have a great system there. A system that a lot of the other states have really looked to and changed their systems, they wanted to base it on the Indiana system, it’s very good. He’s really very expert at the field, and what I’ve done is, I’m going to be announcing, exactly right now, that I’m going to be putting our Vice President, Mike Pence, in charge and Mike will be working with the professionals and doctors and everybody else that’s working. The team is brilliant. I spent a lot of time with the team over the last couple of weeks, but they’re totally brilliant and we’re doing really well, and Mike is going to be in charge, and Mike will report back to me. But he’s got a certain talent for this and I’m going to ask Mike Pence to say a few words please. Thank you. Mike?
Vice President Pence: (15:27)
Thank you, Mr. President. President Trump has made clear from the first days of this administration, we have no higher priority than the safety, security, health and wellbeing of the American people. And from the first word of an outbreak of the coronavirus, the president took unprecedented steps to protect the American people from the spread of this disease. He recounted those briefly, but the establishment of travel restrictions, aggressive quarantine effort of Americans that are returning, the declaration of a public health emergency, and establishing the White House Corona Task Force are all reflective of the urgency that the President has brought to a whole of government approach. As a former governor, from the state where the first MERS case emerged in 2014, I know full well the importance of presidential leadership, the importance of administration leadership, and the vital role of partnerships of state and local governments and health authorities in responding to the potential threat of dangerous infectious diseases.
Vice President Pence: (16:43)
I look forward, Mr. President, to serving in this role. I’m bringing together all the members of the Corona Task Force that you’ve established. HHS, CDC, DHS, the Departments of Transportation and State. This team has been, at your direction Mr. President, meeting every day since it was established. My role will be to continue to bring that team together, to bring to the President the best options for action to see to the safety and wellbeing and health of the American people. We’ll also be continuing to reach out to governors, state and local officials. In fact, in recent days, the White House met with over 40 state, county, and city health officials from over 30 States and territories to discuss how to respond to the potential threat of the coronavirus. We’ll be working with them in renewed ways to make sure they have the resources to be able to respond. And as the President said, we’ll be adding additional personnel here at the White House, to support our efforts on the President’s behalf.
Vice President Pence: (17:53)
We’ll also be working with members of Congress to ensure that the resources are available for this whole of government response, and we’ll be working very closely with Secretary Azar and his team that had done an outstanding job communicating to the public, to ensure the American people have the best information on ways to protect themselves and their families, and also that the public has the most timely information on the potential threat to the American people. Mr. President, as we’ve been briefed, while the threat to the American public remains low of a spread of the coronavirus, you have directed this team to take all steps necessary to continue to ensure the health and wellbeing of the American people, and the people of this country can be confident that under your leadership, we will continue to bring the full resources of the federal government in coordination with our state and local partners, to see to the health and wellbeing and to the effective response to the coronavirus here in the United States of America. With that, the president has asked me to recognize the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, and also the Deputy Director of CDC, Dr. Anne Shocket for remarks. Secretary.
Alex Azar: (19:18)
Well, thank you Mr. Vice President, and thank you, Mr. President for gathering your public health experts here today and for your strong leadership in keeping America safe, and I just want to say I could not be more delighted that you’ve asked the Vice President, my old friend and colleague, to lead this whole of government approach with us under the emergency support function number eight. As of today, we have 15 cases of COVID-19 that have been detected in the United States, with only one new case detected in the last two weeks. We also have three cases among Americans repatriated from Wuhan, and 42 cases among Americans repatriated who had been stuck on the Diamond Princess in Japan. The President’s early and decisive actions, including travel restrictions, have succeeded in buying us incredibly valuable time. This has helped us contain the spread of the virus, handle the cases that we have, and prepare for the possibility that we will need to mitigate broader spread of infections within the United States.
Alex Azar: (20:22)
The President’s actions taken with the strong support of his scientific advisors have proven to be appropriate, wise, and well calibrated to the situation. We’re grateful for the hard work that healthcare workers, first responders, communities, and state and local leaders have put into the response so far. Because of this hard work, and the President’s leadership, the immediate risk to the American public has been and continues be low. Our containment strategy has been working. At the same time, what every one of our experts and leaders have been saying for more than a month now remains true. The degree of risk has the potential to change quickly, and we can expect to see more-
Alex Azar: (21:03)
It has the potential to change quickly, and we can expect to see more cases in the United States. That is why we’ve been reminding the American public, and our state, local, and private sector partners that they should be aware of what a broader response would look like. CDC has recommended that the American public, and especially state and local governments, businesses and other organizations should refresh themselves on how they would respond in the event that the situation worsens. We’re encouraging Americans to learn what future steps might be necessary to keep themselves and their communities safe. Knowing these potential steps now can help keep the risk for you in your community low.
Alex Azar: (21:40)
Americans can find useful information at cdc.gov/covid C-O-V-I-D19, and we’re working closely with government, and private sector partners to educate them about preparedness. Finally, we’ve begun working with Congress to secure the funding that we need. There are five major priorities in the White House request to Congress that the White House made on Monday. These priorities are first, expanding our surveillance network, second, support for state and local governments work, third and fourth, development of therapeutics and vaccines, and fifth, manufacturing and purchase a personal protective equipment like gowns and masks.
Alex Azar: (22:24)
As chairman of the president’s coronavirus task force, I’m committed to providing regular updates from our coordinated inter agency process. We’ve had our top public health leaders like those joining me here today speaking to the media many times per day to inform the American public. The Trump administration is going to continue to be aggressively transparent, keeping the American people, and the media apprised of the situation, and what everyone can do.
Alex Azar: (22:50)
With that, I’m going to hand things over to Dr. Ann Schuchat. Dr. Schuchat is the senior career official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the principal deputy director with an over 30 year career at the CDC in public health, and as a member of the United States Public Health Service Commission Corps. Dr. Schuchat I’ll turn over to you.
Dr. Schuchat: (23:12)
Thanks so much Mr. secretary. As you know, this has been a difficult, and challenging time, and our hearts go out to the individuals who have been directly affected by the virus, and to all those who’ve been working tirelessly in responding to it. Our aggressive containment strategy here in the United States has been working, and is responsible for the low levels of cases that we have so far. However, we do expect more cases and this is a good time to prepare. As you heard, it’s the perfect time for businesses, healthcare systems, universities and schools to look at their pandemic preparedness plans, dust them off, and make sure that they’re ready, and we have lots more information at the CDC’s website and in partnership on how to do that.
Dr. Schuchat: (24:07)
But, it’s also a really good time for the American public to prepare, and for you to know what this means for you. The coronavirus that we’re talking about is a respiratory virus. It’s spread in a similar way to the common cold, or to influenza. It’s spread through coughs and sneezes, and so, those everyday sensible measures that we tell people to do every year with the flu are important here; covering your cough, staying home when you’re sick, and washing your hands. Tried and true, not very exciting measures, but really important ways that you can prevent the spread of respiratory viruses.
Dr. Schuchat: (24:52)
The trajectory of what we’re looking at over the weeks and months ahead is very uncertain, but many of the steps that we have taken over the past 15 years to prepare for pandemic influenza, and our experience going through the 2009 H1N1 pandemic of influenza remind us of the kinds of steps that our healthcare system, our businesses, our communities and schools may need to take. We’re in this together, all of government, the public, and the private sector, and the CDC wants to make sure you have the best information available every day. Thank you.
Donald Trump: (25:35)
[inaudible 00:25:35] please.
Dr. Tony Fauci: (25:38)
I just want to give you a very quick update on the…
Speaker 3: (25:41)
Dr. Tony Fauci: (25:43)
My name is Dr. Tony Fauci. I’m the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at NIH. Just a very quick update on the counter measure development in the form of vaccines and therapeutics, I had told this audience at a recent press briefing that we have a number of vaccine candidates and one prototype, one to give you a feel for the timeframe of the vaccine, and what its impact might be now and in subsequent years is that I told you we would have a vaccine that we would be putting into trials to see if it’s safe, and if it induces a response that you would predict would be protective in about three months.
Dr. Tony Fauci: (26:21)
I think it’s going to be a little bit less than that. It’s probably going to be closer to two months. That would then take about three months to determine if it’s safe, and immunogenic, which gives us six months. Then you graduate from a trial, which is phase one of 45 people to a trial that involves hundreds, if not low, thousands of people to determine efficacy. At the earliest an efficacy trial would take an additional six to eight months. Although this is the fastest we have ever gone from a sequence of a virus to a trial, it still would not be any applicable to the epidemic unless we really wait about a year to a year and a half.
Dr. Tony Fauci: (27:05)
Now, that means two things. One, the answer to containing is public health measures. We can’t rely on a vaccine over the next several months to a year. However, if this virus, which we have every reason to believe it is quite conceivable that it will happen will go beyond just a season and come back and recycle next year. If that’s the case, we hope to have a vaccine, and then, finally and briefly, therapeutics. There are a number of antiviral drugs that are being tested. A few days ago we initiated a randomized controlled trial of a drug called Remdesivir, which has antiviral activity in vitro in an animal model.
Dr. Tony Fauci: (27:47)
The good news about that is that it’s a trial that’s randomized to either placebo or standard of care, and drug and standard of care, which means that we will know reasonably soon whether it works and if it does, we will then have an effective therapy to distribute. Thank you.
Donald Trump: (28:04)
Okay, thank you [inaudible 00:07:05].
Speaker 4: (28:05)
Thank you very much Mr. President. First of all you have just come from a long and busy trip from India, and-
Donald Trump: (28:14)
Great country, a long journey [crosstalk 00:28:17].
Speaker 4: (28:20)
… concern you have a great [inaudible 00:28:20] and medical team behind you, and with you, and I’m sure [inaudible 00:28:25] India Mr. President, where do we go from here? U.S. India [inaudible 00:28:34] are concerend [inaudible 00:28:36]. Mr. President you are ready [inaudible 00:28:38] in India, and [inaudible 00:28:40] in America. What is the future? Indian American community is with you Mr. President.
Donald Trump: (28:46)
We won’t talk too much about that other than I just got back, a long flight. It’s a long flight. He’s a great gentleman, a great leader. It’s an incredible country. We were treated very, very well, and we really enjoyed it. A lot of tremendous progress was made in terms of relationship. Our relationship with India is extraordinary right now, and we’re going to be doing a lot of business with India. They’re sending billions and billions of dollars now to the United States, but we’d rather talk about this right now.
Speaker 5: (29:17)
Mr. President, CDC said yesterday that they believe it’s inevitable that the virus will spread in the United States, and it’s not a question of if, but when. Do you agree with that assessment?
Donald Trump: (29:27)
Well, I don’t think it’s inevitable. It possibly will. It could be at a very small level or it could be at a larger level. Whatever happens, we’re totally prepared. We have the best people in the world. You see that from the study we have the best prepared people, the best people in the world. Congress is willing to give us much more than we’re even asking for. That’s nice for a change, but we are totally ready, willing and able. It’s a term that we use, it’s ready, willing, and able. It’s going to be very well under control. Now. It may get bigger, it may get a little bigger. It may not get bigger at all. We’ll see what happens, but regardless of what happens, we’re totally prepared, please.
Speaker 6: (30:08)
Mr. President, you talked a little earlier about the screening measures that you’ve put in place, and the travel restrictions you’ve put in place from China. At this point as the virus spreads in Italy, South Korea. Are you planning on adding those countries [crosstalk 00:30:19].
Donald Trump: (30:19)
Well, just to understand, I’m the president of the United States. I’m not the president of other countries. Other countries on the list that are very respected in what they do in terms of what we’re talking about, but I really want to be responsible for this country. If it means placing a very strong situation on the border so people can’t come into our country from a country that is infected, we’re doing that and we’ve already done it with numerous countries, but we have to focus on this country. I don’t think it’s right to impose ourselves on others.
Donald Trump: (30:51)
But, if others aren’t taking care, or we think they’re doing it incorrectly, we’re dealing with world health, and we have terrific people, and CDC does go around, and help other countries, give them recommendations as what to do, but they’re working on their countries, and we’re working on our countries, and so far from our simple end it’s really worked out very well.
Speaker 7: (31:12)
… just visit Africa?
Speaker 17: (31:12)
[crosstalk 00:31:12] can you clarify, are you considering restricting travel to and from South Korea, Italy, and other countries that have been affected [crosstalk 00:31:21]?
Donald Trump: (31:22)
At a right time we may do that. Right now it’s not the right time, but at the right time, and we are checking people as they come through specifically for the problem that we’re dealing with. We’re checking a lot of people, if they’re coming from South Korea, it’s been hit pretty hard. Italy’s been hit pretty hard. China is obvious what’s happened in China, but again, the numbers seem to be leveling often going down in China, which is very good news, so we’ll see what happens.
[crosstalk 00:31:44] Mr. President.
Speaker 8: (31:44)
White House is seen today denying that they are going to a point of the czar to run point on the coronavirus response today. The secretary Azar testified that he didn’t think one was necessary, and they were going to run it out of HHS, and you yourself have been downplaying this, so why are you now selecting the vice president to [crosstalk 00:31:59].
Donald Trump: (31:59)
Well, Mike is not… Azar is vice president. He’s in the administration, but I’m having everybody report to Mike. Mike’s been very good, very adept. Anybody that knows anything about health care, they look at the Indiana model, and it’s been a very great success. It’s been a tremendous model in terms of healthcare, and this is really an offshoot of that, so this isn’t Azar. I don’t view Mike as a Azar. Mike is part of the administration, but I’m having them report to Mike. Mike will report to me. They’ll also be reporting in some cases to both.
Donald Trump: (32:28)
I’ll be going to meetings quite a bit depending on what they want to do, and what message we want to get out, but we’ve done really an extraordinary job. When you’re looking at a country this size with so many people pouring in with the number one in the world for people coming into a country by far, and we have a total of 15 cases, many of which almost much within a day, I will tell you most of whom were fully recovered. I think that’s really a pretty impressive mark. Now, we did take in 40 people that were Americans, and they’re also recovering, but we brought them in, so I have a different group, but we felt we had an obligation to American citizens outside of the country that were trying to get back in. We thought it was very important.
[crosstalk 00:33:11] Mr. President.
Speaker 9: (33:13)
The stock market has taken a big hit over the past few days. What can you do about that, and if the CDC is right in saying that the spread is inevitable, are you going to be dealing with stock market issues and economy issues for some time to come?
Donald Trump: (33:24)
Well, I really think the stock market, if something I know a lot about, I think it took a hit maybe for two reasons. I think they look at the people that you watch debating last night, and they say if there’s even a possibility that can happen. I think it really takes a hit because of that, and it certainly took a hit because of this, and I understand that also because of supply chains and various other things, and people coming in, but I think the stock market will recover. The economy is very strong, the consumer is the strongest it’s ever been.
Donald Trump: (33:52)
Our consumers are incredible, they’re incredible, that’s why we’re doing well and even before the virus, we’re doing great. Other countries have not been doing great. Our consumer’s very, very strong, very powerful economically. Yeah. Please.
Speaker 10: (34:05)
Mr. President, have you been presented any plans that would involve quarantine cities like we saw in China and what would have to happen for you to take a step on that?
Donald Trump: (34:13)
We do have plans of on much larger scale should we need that. We’re working with states, we’re working with virtually every state, and we do have plans on a larger scale if we need it. We don’t think we’re going to need it, but you always have to be prepared, and again, Congress is talking to us about funding and we’re getting far more than what we asked for, and I guess the best thing to do is take it, we’ll take it.
Speaker 11: (34:37)
Mr. President how much money are you willing to give Congress if they’re going six billion more than you can offer?
Donald Trump: (34:43)
Well, we’re going see if we’ll take care of states because states are working very hard. We have hospitals in the states that make rooms available, and they are building quarantined areas. Areas where you can keep people safely. We’re working really well with states. It’s a very big part of it. My attitude if Congress wants to give us the money so easy, it wasn’t very easy for the wall, but we got that one done. If they want to give us the money, we’ll take the money. We’ll just do a good job with it. Yeah, please. Go ahead.
Speaker 12: (35:10)
Mr. President, should Americans be going out getting protective equipment such as masks, and so forth? And if so, what is the U.S. Doing to boost production of masks?
Donald Trump: (35:19)
Well, we can get a lot of it. In fact, we’ve ordered a lot of it just in case we need it. We may not need it. You understand that, but in case we’re looking at worst case scenario, we’re going to be set very quickly, but I don’t think we’re going to ever be anywhere near that. I really don’t believe that we’re going to be anywhere near that. Our borders are very controlled. Our flights in from certain areas that we’re talking about are very controlled. I don’t think we’ll ever be anywhere near that. Please go ahead.
Speaker 13: (35:45)
Back to the stock market for a second, that travel related stocks have especially been hammered here in the last couple of days. What would you say to Americans out there who right now are looking forward to the summer or the upcoming months and saying to themselves, “Should I make myself summer plans? Should I go travel abroad?”
Donald Trump: (36:00)
Well, hopefully they’re going to be able to do that. We hope that it’s going to be in good shape by that time, but they’re going to have to remain a little bit flexible. Yeah, I would say travel related companies certainly right now they would be hurt. At the same time this ends, this is going to end. Hopefully, it’ll be sooner rather than later, and I think the business that they lost will be picked up at a later date, but right now I think they’re probably not going to be going to China. They’re not going to be going to certain countries where the problem is far greater than it is in the United States.
Donald Trump: (36:37)
What it’s going to do is keep people home, and they’re going to travel to places that we have. It’s the greatest tourism country in the world, so instead of leaving our country, leaving our shores, they’ll stay here, and again, when you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that’s a pretty good job we’ve done.
[ crosstalk 00:00:36:58].
Speaker 14: (37:04)
What is your response to speaker Pelosi who said earlier today you don’t know what you’re talking about, about the coronavirus? I’m also wondering if you’d want to address critics who say you can’t be trusted with what your administration is saying.
Donald Trump: (37:12)
Sure, I think speaker Pelosi’s incompetent. She lost the Congress once, I think she’s going to lose it again. She lifted my poll numbers up 10 points. I never thought that I would see that so quickly, and so easily. I’m leading everybody. We’re doing great. I don’t want to do it that way. It’s almost unfair if you think about it, but I think she’s incompetent, and I think she’s not thinking about the country, and instead of making a statement like that where I’ve been beating her routinely at everything, instead of making a statement like that, she should be saying, “We have to work together because we have a big problem potentially.”
Donald Trump: (37:47)
And, maybe it’s going to be a very little problem. I hope that it’s going to be a very little problem, but we have to work together instead, she wants to do that. Same thing with Chuck Schumer. He goes out and he says, “The president only asked for two and a half billion dollars. He should have eight and a half …” This is the first time I’ve ever been told that we should take more. Usually, it’s we have to take less, and we should be working together. He shouldn’t be making statements like that, because it’s so bad for the country, and Nancy Pelosi, she should go back to her district, and clean it up because it’s the number one… If you look at percentage down, that was one of the finest in the world, and now you look at what’s happening.
Donald Trump: (38:23)
I’m just saying we should all be working together. She’s trying to create a panic, and there’s no reason to panic, because we have done so good. These professionals behind me, and over here, and over there, and back here, and in some conference rooms. I just left a group of 45 people that are the most talented people in the world. Parts of the world are asking us in a very nice way, can they partake, and help them, so Nancy Pelosi shouldn’t… And, she knows it’s not true. All they’re trying to do is get a political advantage. This isn’t about political advantage. We’re all trying to do the right thing. They shouldn’t be saying, “This is terrible. President Trump isn’t asking for enough money.”
Donald Trump: (39:04)
How stupid a thing to say. If they want to give us more money, that’s okay. We’ll take more money. Some Republicans think we should have more money too. That’s okay. We’ll take more money, but they shouldn’t demean the people that are on the stage who are the finest in the world. They’re not demeaning me. They’re demeaning the greatest healthcare professionals in the world and people that do exactly what we’re talking about.
Speaker 15: (39:28)
Your campaign today, Sue The New York Times for An Opinion piece. Is it your opinion, or is it your contention that if people have an opinion contrary to yours, that they should be sued?
Donald Trump: (39:38)
Well, when they get their opinion totally wrong as the New York Times did, and frankly, they’ve got a lot wrong over the last number of years, so let That work its way through the courts. If you read it you’ll see it’s beyond an opinion. That’s not an opinion, but something much more than an opinion. They did a bad thing, and there’ll be more coming
[ crosstalk 00:00:39:55].
Speaker 16: (40:07)
[inaudible 00:40:07] get this tonight. Do you expect [inaudible 00:40:06]?
Donald Trump: (40:07)
I hope so, because Shinzo, obvious, a very good friend of mine, I love the people of Japan, and I hope it’s going to be in good shape. As you know, you have a number of people in Japan who have been infected. I hear they’re doing a very professional job, which doesn’t surprise me at all with Shinzo and with all of the people you have. I know Japan very well. I think they’re going to handle it very well. It’s a little tight. They spent billions of dollars building one of the most beautiful venues I’ve ever seen, and your prime minister is very proud of it. I hope it’s going to be fine. We hope it will.
Speaker 18: (40:41)
Thank you very Mr. President. The doctor at CDC just talked about dusting off preparedness plans, but coming from you it has more weight, do you feel like U.S. schools should be preparing for a coronavirus spreading?
Donald Trump: (40:58)
I would think so, yes. I haven’t spoken specifically about that with the various doctors, but I would think so, yes. I think every aspect of our society should be prepared. I don’t think it’s going to come to that, especially with the fact that we’re going down, not up. We’re going very substantially down not up, but yeah, I think school should be preparing, and get ready just in case. The words are just in case. We don’t think we’re going to be there, we don’t think we’re going to be anywhere close, and again, if you look at some countries, they are coming down, it’s starting to go in the other direction.
Donald Trump: (41:29)
This will end, this will end. You look at flu season, I said 26,000 people. I’d never heard of a number like that. 26,000 people going up to 69,000 people doctor you told me before. 69,000 people die every year, from 26 to 69, every year from the flu. Now, think of that. It’s incredible. So far the results of all of this that everybody’s reading about, and part of the thing is you, you want to keep it the way it is. You don’t want to see panic because there’s no reason to be panicked about, but…
Donald Trump: (42:03)
I don’t want to see panic because there’s no reason to be panicked about. But when I mentioned the flu, actually, I asked the various doctors. I said, “Is this just like flu?” Because people die from the flu, and this is very unusual. And it is a little bit different, but in some ways, it’s easier. And in some ways, it’s a little bit tougher. But we have it so well under control. We really have done a very good job. Go ahead.
Speaker 19: (42:24)
Thank you. Mr president. You mentioned the stock market earlier. To go back to that, to be clear, the Dow Jones dropped more than 2000 points this week. Are you suggesting that that was overblown? Are financial markets overreacting here?
Donald Trump: (42:38)
I think the financial markets are very upset when they look at the Democrat candidates standing on that stage making fools out of themselves and they say, “If we ever have a president like this,” and there’s always a possibility, it’s an election, who knows what happens, right? I think we’re going to win. I think we are going to win by a lot. But when they look at the statements made by the people standing behind those podiums, I think that has a huge effect, yeah.
Speaker 19: (43:03)
You don’t think the selloff had to do with the Coronavirus?
Donald Trump: (43:03)
I think it did. I think it did, but I think you can add quite a bit of selloff to what they’re seeing because they’re seeing the potential. Again, I think we’re going to win. I feel very confident of it. We’ve done everything and much more than I said we were going to do. You look at what we’ve done, what we’ve done is incredible with the tax cuts and regulation cuts and rebuilding our military, taking care of our vets and getting them choice and accountability.
Donald Trump: (43:27)
All of the things we’ve done, protecting our second amendment. I mean they view that second amendment, they’re going to destroy the second amendment. When people look at that, they say, “This is not good.” So you add that in. I really believe that’s a factor. But no, this is what we’re talking about is the virus. That’s what we’re talking about. I do believe in terms of CNBC and in terms of Fox Business, I do believe that that’s a factor. Yeah. And I think after I win the election, I think the stock market’s going to boom like it’s never boomed before. Just like it did by the way after I won the last election. The stock market the day after went up like a rocket ship.
Speaker 19: (44:17)
At what point would you be considering loosening the travel restrictions regarding China.
Donald Trump: (44:17)
When we’re at a point where we don’t have a problem. We’re not going to loosen the travel restrictions, that’s what saved us. Mike alluded to it, had I not made a decision very early on not to take people from a certain area, we wouldn’t be talking this way. We’d be talking about many more people would have been infected. I took a lot of heat. Some people call me racist because I made a decision so early. And we had never done that as a country before, let alone early. So it was a bold decision. It turned out to be a good decision. But I was criticized by the Democrats. They called me a racist because I made that decision, if you can believe that one. We have to all work together. We can’t say bad things. And especially when we have the best team anywhere in the world and we really gave it an early start. We gave it a very early start.
Speaker 19: (45:04)
[inaudible 00:45:04] consistently called for enormous cuts, the CDC, the NIH and the WHO. You talked a lot today about how these professionals are excellent, hypercritical if necessary. Does this experience at all give you pause about those consistent cuts?
Donald Trump: (45:15)
No, because we can get money and we can increase staff. We know all the people, we know all the good people. There’s a question I asked the doctors before. Some of the people we cut, they haven’t been used for many, many years. If we ever need them, we can get them very quickly. And rather than spending the money, and I’m a business person, I don’t like having thousands of people around when you don’t need them. When we need them, we can get them back very quickly. For instance, we’re bringing some people in tomorrow that are already in this great government that we have, and very specifically for this. We can build up very, very quickly and we’ve already done that. I mean we really have built up, we have a great staff and using Mike, I’m doing that because he’s in the administration and he’s very good at doing what he does and doing as it relates to this. Yeah, go ahead.
Speaker 19: (46:06)
Thank you Mr. President. So far your administration-
Donald Trump: (46:09)
I picked him, but your fine. Go ahead.
Speaker 19: (46:11)
Is only testing less than 500 people. And health officials are questioning whether that’s enough comparing to other countries who have tested more than tens of thousands of people. Are you planning to test more people?
Donald Trump: (46:23)
Well, we’re testing everybody that we need to test and we’re finding very little problem, very little problem. Now you treat this like a flu. In fact, I might ask one of the doctors to come up and explain it. You want to wash your hands a lot. If you’re not feeling well, if you feel you have a flu, stay inside, quarantine yourself, don’t go outside. But there are certain steps that you can take that we won’t even be necessary. In many cases when you catch this, it’s very light, you don’t even know there’s a problem. Sometimes they just get the sniffle. Sometimes they just get something where they’re not feeling quite right. And sometimes they feel really bad, but that’s a little bit like the flu. It’s a little like the regular flu that we have flu shots for and we’ll essentially have a flu shot for this in a fairly quick manner. Yeah, go ahead.
Speaker 19: (47:14)
Two weeks ago Mr. President, your acting OMD director was in this room and was talking about what he expects to be GDP growth for this coming year. He said it was 3%, and we’ve talked about the effects of the Coronavirus on the supply chain, the declines in the financial markets. Are you still confident that you’ll see that kind of economic growth this year?
Donald Trump: (47:36)
No. We’re going to have tremendously low unemployment. We’re setting records in that. In fact the administration is as you know, the lowest average unemployment of any administration in history. And our numbers are very low, very good, 3.5 3.6. But you can’t really see what this does in terms of GDP. It could affect it, but that’s irrelevant compared to what we’re talking about. We want to make sure it’s safe. Safety number one, but this would have an impact on GDP. But we’re still a very, very… We’re doing great, but this will… I’ll tell you what has a big impact. Boeing has a big impact. How did that happen? A year ago all of a sudden that happened. I think that took away a half a point to a point even. It’s a massive company, I think Boeing, we had the general motors strike. That was a big impact on GDP.
Donald Trump: (48:25)
And of course we’re paying interest rates. I disagree with the head of the fed. I’m not happy with what that is because he’s kept interest rates. President Obama didn’t have near the numbers and yet if you look at what happened, he was paying zero. We’re paying interest. Now, it’s more conservative and frankly people that put their money away and now getting a return on their money as opposed to not getting anything. But I think we’re the greatest of them all. We should be paying the lowest interest rates. And when Germany and other countries are paying negative rates, meaning they’re literally getting paid when they put out money. They borrow money and they get paid when it gets paid back. Whoever heard of this before? It’s said first. But we don’t do that. So I totally disagree with our fed.
Donald Trump: (49:07)
I think our fed has made a terrible mistake. And it would’ve made a big difference as good as we’ve done, even without the 2000 points, and we started off at 16,000 and we’ll be at 28,000 without. We were going to crack 30,000. We have had increases like nobody’s seen before, but we’re doing well, but we have to watch… We’re doing well anyway in other words, even despite the 2000 points, it sounds like a lot and it’s a lot, but it’s very little compared to what we’ve gone up. But we’ll be watching it very closely. But we have been hurt by general motors. We’ve been hurt by Boeing and we’ve been hurt, in my opinion, very badly by our own federal reserve, who has also created a very strong dollar. That’s something nice about a strong dollar, but it makes it much harder to do business outside of this country.
Speaker 19: (49:57)
Thank you, sir. A number of your supporters online have embraced these theories or forwarded these theories that the CDC may be exaggerating the threat of coronavirus to hurt you politically. Rush Limbaugh the other day said this has been advanced to weaponize the virus against you.
Donald Trump: (50:12)
You don’t mean my supporters, you mean my people that are not supporters.
Speaker 19: (50:15)
Right, your opponents.
Donald Trump: (50:16)
I agree with it.
Speaker 19: (50:17)
Have you seen evidence of that?
Donald Trump: (50:19)
And I’d like it to stop. I think people know that when Chuck Schumer gets upset… He did the same thing with a couple of trade deals that are phenomenal deals now. Everybody’s acknowledged they’re phenomenal deals before he ever saw the deal. He didn’t even know we were going to make a deal. They said, “What do you think of the deal with China?” “I don’t like it. I don’t like it.” He talked about tariffs. I left the tariffs on 25% on $250 billion. He said, “He took the tariffs off.” He didn’t even know the deal and he was out there knocking it because that’s a natural thing to say. But when you’re talking about especially something like this, we have to be on the same team. This is too important. We have to be on the same team.
Speaker 19: (50:58)
Have you seen evidence that the CDC is trying to hurt you?
Donald Trump: (51:01)
No, I don’t think the CDC is. No, they’ve been working really well together.
Donald Trump: (51:08)
They really are. They’re professional, I think they’re beyond that. They want this to go away. They want to do it with as little disruption and they don’t want to lose life. I see the way they’re working. These people behind me and others that are in the other room, they’re incredible people. No, I don’t see that at all.
Speaker 19: (51:27)
Thank you Mr. President.
Donald Trump: (51:28)
Thank you very much, I appreciate it. I don’t know who said that, but I appreciate it.
Speaker 19: (51:34)
Thank you Mr. President. Tonight you’re minimizing the risk of danger or the virus. Are you telling the Americans, except for the ones who are sick, not to change any of their behaviors?
Donald Trump: (51:44)
No, I think you have to always… I do it a lot anyway, as you probably heard, wash your hands, stay clean. You don’t have to necessarily grab every handrail unless you have to. You do certain things that you do when you have the flu. View this the same as the flu. When somebody sneezes, I try and bail out as much as possible when they’re sneezing. I had a man come up to me a week ago. I hadn’t seen him in a long time and I said, “How are you doing?” He said, “Fine, fine.” He hugs me. I said, are you well? He says, “No.” He said, “I have the worst fever and the worst flu,” and he’s hugging and kissing me. So I said, “Excuse me.” I went and I started washing my hands. So you have to do that. I really think, doctor, you want to treat this like you treat the flu, right? And it’s going to be fine. It was so nice of you to say thank you very much.
Speaker 19: (52:39)
Thank you Mr. president.
Donald Trump: (52:39)
Go ahead. Give me a nice question then. Don’t ruin it. Don’t ruin it with a bad question. Go ahead.
Speaker 19: (52:44)
It’s really nice to talk to you without the helicopter. But also I want to talk to you about 2014. During the Ebola crisis, you said you wanted a “Full travel ban.” You said Obama was a quote unquote stubborn dope not for doing it. You said just stop the flights dummies. You also said it was a quote unquote total joke to appoint someone to lead the Ebola response with “Zero experience in the medical field.”
Donald Trump: (53:08)
They listened to a lot of what I had to say.
Speaker 19: (53:10)
I did. So how does that square with what you’re doing now.
Donald Trump: (53:13)
Well, because this is a much different problem than Ebola. Ebola, you disintegrated, especially at the beginning. They’ve made a lot of progress now on Ebola. But with Ebola we were talking about it before, you disintegrated. You got Ebola, that was it. This one is different, much different. This is a flu. This is like a flu and this is a much different situation than Ebola. And we’re working on a right now by the way, we’re working on certain areas of the Congo. The Congo has Ebola and caused largely by the fact that they have war and people can’t get there. We can now treat Ebola. At that time it was infectious and you couldn’t treat it. Nobody knew anything about it. Nobody had ever heard of anything like this, so a much different situation.
Speaker 19: (53:54)
Mr. President, let me ask you this.
Donald Trump: (54:01)
Yeah, go ahead.
Speaker 19: (54:02)
And just the course of the last couple of minutes, you have disputed some of what the officials that are working in your administration behind you have said about the risk of Coronavirus and its spread. Do you trust your health officials to give you good information or do you trust your instincts more?
Donald Trump: (54:15)
They’ve said it could be worse, and I’ve said it could be worse too. [crosstalk 00:54:19] No, I don’t think it’s inevitable. I don’t think it’s inevitable. I think that we’re doing a really good job in terms of maintaining borders in terms of letting people in, in terms of checking people, and also, that’s one of the reasons I’m here today, getting the word out so people can… They’ll know. They’re going to know. No, I don’t think it’s inevitable. I think that there’s a chance that it could get worse. There’s a chance it could get fairly substantially worse, but nothing’s inevitable.
Speaker 19: (54:49)
Mr. President, Brazil has its first case.
Donald Trump: (54:52)
That’s right, Brazil.
Speaker 19: (54:54)
Right, Brazil. And you have many Americans now in Brazil for Carnival. What are your concerns and what are the procedures and practices that you plan to implement as those Americans are trying to come back home?
Donald Trump: (55:06)
Yes, we’re very strong on people coming in from Brazil. Now it only has one case, it’s a big country, but it only has one case, but still it’s a case. We deal with Brazil very well. The president’s a very good friend of mine. In fact, he ran on exactly, it’s called “Make Brazil Great Again,” that’s what he ran on. We get along very well. I know you’re so thrilled to hear that. We get along very, very well. And we’re working with Brazil, but we have much worse instances than Brazil. You have Italy and you have other countries where they have much more than one person.
Donald Trump: (55:33)
They have one person right now, as of now, as of just a little while ago, one person in Brazil. But Italy is a deeper problem, and we’re checking people coming in very, very strongly from those. And at some point we may cut that off. At some point depending on what happens, we may cut certain additional countries off like we’ve had to do with China. And we hope we can open it up to China as soon as possible, and we hope the numbers that we’ve been getting are true on China where it really has leveled off and started to go down because eventually sometime that’s going to happen. Go ahead.
Speaker 19: (56:07)
Thank you very much. You’ve said repeatedly that you think the federal government is very prepared, that you’re ready for this, but if you think that Secretary Azar is doing such a great job, why did you feel the need to make a change and put Vice President Mike Pence in charge of the federal response to this virus?
Donald Trump: (56:25)
I think Secretary Azar is doing a fantastic job, but he also has many other things. We’re working on many, many things together. If you look at his schedule of what he’s doing, including drug prices, I think it’s perhaps the most complicated job that we have in government, and I want him to be able to focus on that. And Mike is really good at it. They’re going to work together, they’re going to work very closely together, and they’re both in the administration. I see them all the time, so it really works. This isn’t Azar, this isn’t going out and getting somebody that’s never been in the administration. I have two people that are very talented and it’s something I feel good about. I don’t want to spare the horses. I have very talented people. I want to use them on this because I want it to stay low or as low as possible.
Speaker 19: (57:11)
Thank you, Mr. President. I want to get to China. At the beginning of this outbreak, the Chinese communist party covered it up. That has been the general consensus of everyone. How can you now legitimately trust President Zi and the Chinese communist regime-
Donald Trump: (57:31)
Speaker 19: (57:31)
to be forth coming and forthright with this [inaudible 00:57:41]?
Donald Trump: (57:41)
Well, I can tell you this. I speak to him. I had a talk with him very recently and he is working so hard on this problem. He is working so hard, and they’re very tough and very smart. And it’s a significant group of very talented people that are working. And they’re calling up Dr Fowchee, they’re calling up our people. We’re dealing with them, we’re giving them certain advice. We actually have through World health, we have them over there also and we have a lot of our people making up that group that went over there. No, he’s working very hard. It’d be very easy for me to say… It doesn’t matter what I say, really. I can tell you he is working… I had a long talk with him the other night. He is working really, really hard. He wants it to go away from China and go away fast, and he wants to get back to business as usual.
Speaker 19: (58:36)
[inaudible 00:58:36] flu has a fatality ratio of about 0.1%.
Donald Trump: (58:38)
Speaker 19: (58:40)
This has a fatality ratio of somewhere between 2 and 3%.
Donald Trump: (58:45)
We think. We don’t know exactly. And the flu is higher than that.
Speaker 19: (58:50)
There’s more people who get the flu, but this is spreading or it’s going to spread maybe within communities.
Donald Trump: (58:55)
Speaker 19: (58:55)
That’s expectation. Does that worry you? Because that seems to be what worries the American people.
Donald Trump: (59:00)
No because we’re ready for it. It is what it is. We’re ready for it. We’re really prepared. We have, as I said, we have the greatest people in the world. We’re very ready for it. We hope it doesn’t spread. There’s a chance that it won’t spread too, and there’s a chance that it will. Then it’s a question of at what level? So far, we’ve done a great job. When you have 15 people with this whole world coming into the United States, and the 15 people are either better or close to being better, that’s pretty good. All right, we’ll do one more. Go ahead.
Speaker 19: (59:31)
Mr. President, there’ve been many cases of price gouging on the sales of medical equipment mast and so-on. Should the government be investigating that, looking into it? Do you have a message on that.
Donald Trump: (59:42)
If you tell me that’s happening, we would definitely investigate. We don’t want that. All right, one more. Go ahead. Go ahead. Yes.
Speaker 19: (59:51)
Are you working with China right now? Specifically in what areas?
Donald Trump: (59:55)
We’re working with China. We just did the biggest trade deal in history. We did two of them between a USMCA and the China deal. It’s the biggest in history. The relationship with China is a very good one, and I can tell you that again, President Xi is working really hard. He wants this problem solved, as hard as you can work. Thank you all. I may leave you behind and you can answer a few more questions. [crosstalk 01:00:19]
Alex Azar: (01:00:44)
If I could just clarify, think you’re not getting the point here of this. I’m still chairman of the task force. Mick Mulvaney has been serving actually an invaluable role for me as acting chief of staff, helping to coordinate across the government with my colleagues and the whole government approach. Having the vice president gives me the biggest stick one could have in the government on this whole of government approach.
Speaker 19: (01:01:04)
So, you don’t feel like you’re being replaced?
Alex Azar: (01:01:06)
Not in the least. When this was mentioned to me, I said I was delighted that I get to have the vice president helping in this way. Delighted. Absolutely.
Speaker 19: (01:01:16)
Will you answer a few more questions?
Alex Azar: (01:01:19)