Apr 8, 2020
Donald Trump Coronavirus Task Force Briefing Transcript April 8
Donald Trump and the Coronavirus Task Force held their April 8 press conference. The health experts showed cautious optimism that the spread is slowing. On a funny note, Trump was asked whether he would pardon Joe Exotic from the famous Tiger King series on Netflix. Read the full press briefing transcript here.
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Donald Trump: (00:31)
Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you.
Donald Trump: (00:41)
This is a holy week when religious believers across the nation will observe Passover, Good Friday, and Easter. Millions of Jewish families begin Passover at sundown tonight, a sacred unbroken tradition that traces back to the ancient land of Egypt. And on Sunday, we celebrate our beautiful, wonderful Easter, which we all look forward to. We’re going to have many Easters together in churches in the future.
Donald Trump: (01:13)
We’re getting closer. You see the numbers. We’re getting much closer to getting our country back to the way it was. We have now an extra two countries that have been attacked, 184. They’re being attacked as we speak, but we’ll all win. At some point, we’re going to all win. We’re going to do it sooner than people think.
Donald Trump: (01:35)
Earlier today, I spoke with 10,000 of America’s faith leaders to thank them for raising the spirits of our people during these very difficult days. While we may be physically apart, we can use this time to pray, to reflect, and to focus on our personal relationship with God.
Donald Trump: (01:56)
I also spoke with more than 3,000 mayors, county commissioners, and state and tribal leaders to provide an update on our administration’s ongoing drive to beat the virus, to crush the virus, and that’s happening. It’s happening, I think, if you look, a little bit more quickly than people thought, maybe a lot more quickly, I hope. It’s something that all over the world we’re watching, but people are watching us and seeing what we’re doing, and they’re very impressed. We’re dealing with many countries right now, many, many countries, and we’re giving them whatever information we’re able to glean.
Donald Trump: (02:38)
I just spoke with the representatives of the UK, and I think that their great prime minister is doing much better today, or at least better. Certainly, he’s had a tough bout, and he’s still going through a tough time, but he seems to be doing better. That’s good. We send our regards to Boris and his family and his friends, all of the people that really love him. He’s become a very popular, before this happened, became a very popular prime minister. He’s doing an excellent job. He loves their country. He loves our country. We appreciate everything he’s done, and hopefully he’s going to be okay.
Donald Trump: (03:21)
Speaking of great people and people that have done a fantastic job, I have Secretary of State Mike Pompeo with us, and I’d like to ask Mike to say a few words. Then I think what we’ll do, in order to get him back to the State Department, we’ll take some questions. We’ll then go on with the rest of what I’m going to say, then we’ll take some questions after that, and then Vice President Pence will take over. Mike Pompeo, please?
Mike Pompeo: (03:50)
Thank you, Mr. President. Under the president’s leadership, my team and I at the State Department are doing our part to protect the American people from the virus and, importantly, to get them home. As you know, when many countries shut down their rail lines, their buses, their infrastructure systems, the capacity to get out of those countries, they were trapped, they were stranded, and the State Department swung into action.
Mike Pompeo: (04:09)
Since January 29th, we have now repatriated over 50,000 United States citizens back to their homes from more than 90 countries, more than 490 flights back to the United States from all across the world. This worldwide scale of our repatriation efforts is without parallel in our lifetime. We are coordinating with foreign governments, militaries, airport authorities, medical units, transportation companies, hotels. You name it, we’re working with them to make sure the American people get back to be with their families. You can see behind me the map of the flights that we have brought back people from all across the world.
Mike Pompeo: (04:47)
Every day, I get a chance to hear some of the remarkable stories from our team. Let me give you just a couple of examples. Our mission in Peru working with the Peruvian military and police forces to send riverboats up the river to get citizens that were stranded deep inside the Amazon forest. Our mission in Nepal made sure that a woman who was running low on medication could get what she needed at a pharmacy before boarding an evacuation flight that brought her back here. In Honduras, after the government imposed very strict 24/7 curfew and closed airports, our embassy sprang into action for stranded Americans, thousands of them. A three-year-old boy told one of our consular officers just before we boarded the flight, “Thank you for helping me get back home to my dad.” Pretty neat. We have received similar messages from lots of people. They’re proud to know that their country will not leave them stranded and we’re going to get them back home. One woman wrote, “I was in tears when I received the email approving our flight back to the United States. God bless the United States of America.” Another said, “I felt like I had allies there that actually treated me like a person or a family member, not just a number.”
Mike Pompeo: (05:53)
The repatriation task force at the State Department, our consular officers have done great work. I want to thank our partners in the Department of Defense who have helped with some of these flights back home, and other government agencies, our sisters and brothers across the United States government in this administration that have helped get these people back.
Mike Pompeo: (06:10)
Then, lastly, aside from our repatriation efforts, we continue to help countries around the world as well. We’ve got CDC officials helping these countries with expertise and all the things that these countries need to get their citizens safe and healthy and back so that we can get the economy all across the world, the global economy, back on its feet when this crisis is over.
Mike Pompeo: (06:28)
Thank you, Mr. President.
Donald Trump: (06:28)
Okay, good. Thanks, Mike. Can you stick for a little while?
Mike Pompeo: (06:31)
Donald Trump: (06:31)
We’ll see if anybody has any questions for the Secretary of State. Anybody? Please.
Speaker 1: (06:36)
Mr. Secretary, that’s an amazing effort that you have made. How do you know when you’re done? Because I imagine there are Americans on all corners of the world, and someone’s going to pop up and say, “I want to go home now.” When do you get the call that it’s over?
Mike Pompeo: (06:51)
It’s a great question. We still have several thousand people that we’re working. They identify themselves every day. New people find themselves in a difficult place. Look, we’re going to be done when people can travel on their own again. These people traveled abroad on vacations or with their church and were intending to get back on their own. We hope that day comes pretty soon where they don’t have to rely on the State Department to get them back home.
Mike Pompeo: (07:12)
But know this. In the meantime, we’re devoting all the resources we have to get them. They’re often in difficult places. They’re not in the capital near the airport or the roads are closed, and so it’s not just a matter of getting a flight down there. There’s a lot of work that has to be done to coordinate to make it all happen and get those people available so they’re sitting there when the flight lands, they can get on the plane, and then we can get them back home.
Mike Pompeo: (07:33)
We still have several thousand. We’re working on it. We chip away at that number every day. But new citizens go to the State Department website, identify themselves, and say, “I need a little bit of help in some way,” and we do our best to get that to them just as quickly as we can.
Speaker 1: (07:45)
So you’ll keep it up indefinitely.
Mike Pompeo: (07:46)
We’re going to keep it up as long as we have resources to do it and there is a need.
Mike Pompeo: (07:50)
Speaker 2: (07:52)
How many of these staffers have tested positive for coronavirus? Have they been tested? Are they going into quarantine? And what does this do to diplomatic efforts overseas if you’re pulling 50,000 people out of national capitals, nation capitals all over the world?
Mike Pompeo: (08:08)
The vast majority of these 50,000 weren’t our officers. These were ordinary citizens who were there traveling for business or for commercial or for their trip of a lifetime. We’ve seen some of that on the cruise ships, but of course they’re stranded all over the world.
Mike Pompeo: (08:22)
Our embassies, save for the one that is in Wuhan, which we did pull everybody out of, the rest of our facilities around the world are all open. We’ve had a handful of our folks now test positive, but we feel like we have a good handle on it. We’re doing everything we can to make sure that not just the State Department officers, but our Department of Defense colleagues that are working on these missions as well, are doing so in a way that reduces risk to them and their well-being also.
Mike Pompeo: (08:45)
Speaker 3: (08:46)
Thank you so much. Do you feel like China withheld critical information from the United States, and will there be any consequences for that?
Mike Pompeo: (08:53)
This is not the time for retribution, but it is still the time for clarity and transparency. We’re still working on this problem set. There’s still data that these good people need so that they can perform their analysis of how to both develop therapeutics and a vaccine and to understand where this virus is.
Mike Pompeo: (09:14)
Every country, China included, every country needs to be transparent about what’s gone on in their country. They need to share that data. We share ours with the world, so that the best scientists in the world can get to the right conclusions and bring this economy, this global economy back to the place that we all want it to be as quickly as we can. Every country has that responsibility.
Mike Pompeo: (09:32)
It started in China, and so they had that special responsibility to get it right quickly and fast. I ask every country, as we move forward in the days and weeks ahead, make sure we share that. Do it right. Do it well. When we do, we’ll get this thing back on.
Speaker 3: (09:44)
But early on, should they have shared their data sooner with the United States?
Mike Pompeo: (09:47)
Every country has an obligation to share that information accurately, timely, completely, transparently, and thoroughly, just as quickly as they can gather it. We’ll leave for another time to evaluate how everyone did in that.
Donald Trump: (09:58)
Go ahead [crosstalk 00:09:59].
Speaker 4: (10:01)
Thank you. Thank you, President Trump. Secretary, I have a question. The World Health Organization has a fundraising drive for $700 million for coronavirus resources. China has only donated 20 million. The United States actually has donated less. Do you feel that China should be giving more to this World Health Organization effort? And comments on the U.S. donation?
Mike Pompeo: (10:22)
You want to say something, Mr. President?
Donald Trump: (10:23)
Well, you could just say we held.
Mike Pompeo: (10:25)
At this point, we’re reevaluating our funding with respect to the World Health Organization. This is very consistent with what President Trump said since the beginning of his campaign. Organizations have to work. They have to deliver the outcomes for which they were intended. We need to make sure that not only the World Health Organization, but every international organization that we take taxpayer money and give it to them for the benefit of America, we need to make sure it’s delivering on those taxpayer dollars.
Mike Pompeo: (10:53)
The World Health organization is no different in that respect. They have to execute on the mission that they are designed to achieve. We’ve seen with respect to the World Health Organization, here we are. It hasn’t accomplished what it was intended to deliver.
Speaker 5: (11:10)
Mr. Secretary, you said a handful of staffers have tested positive. Are they going to get the hydroxychloroquine treatment? Is that going to be made available to personnel overseas?
Mike Pompeo: (11:21)
I don’t know the answer to that, but know that we’ll deliver the best medical care everyplace we can. Some of them are in difficult places where there’s not a lot of medical help, and we’ve done our best to move that medical assistance forward to them in the field.
Donald Trump: (11:35)
Speaker 6: (11:36)
Thank you, sir. Mr. Secretary? Right here. Can you give us an update on numbers you’re seeing about coronavirus cases in Iran, and whether or not you have any updates on the United States helping them with that?
Mike Pompeo: (11:48)
With respect to our assistance to Iran, we have offered, from the first day we knew that the virus had struck the people of Iran, we offered humanitarian assistance. I regret that they chose not to take that. I’ve heard people talking about sanctions. The world should know there are no sanctions that prevent humanitarian assistance, medical supplies, pharmaceuticals from going to Iran. We offered American assistance. We’ve tried to help other countries get assistance in there as well. We’ve had some ability to do that. I don’t have any better data than what you’ve seen publicly that I can share with you with respect to the extent of the virus inside of Iran.
Speaker 7: (12:22)
Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Are you allowing exports of medical supplies at this time, or what’s the status of that?
Mike Pompeo: (12:29)
You’ve seen, we’re making sure that we have what we need for the American people, whether that’s gloves… I’ll let the vice president talk to numbers on that. But at this point, what we are doing in terms of assistance is providing what most of these countries need to learn how to do surveillance themselves, to learn how to conduct tests themselves, to learn the things that can reduce the peak in their countries. Those are the kind of things.
Mike Pompeo: (12:50)
We’ve been doing this… You should know the United States has been incredibly generous. We have CDC officials, like no other country in the world, out helping these nations build out their healthcare, global epidemic healthcare infrastructure. It’s good people like that you see sitting to my right that have been working on this all their life, all around the world, putting these countries in a place where they’re better prepared for a virus like this one.
Speaker 8: (13:13)
Have any U.S. diplomats or U.S. officials contracted the virus as they’ve tried to rescue U.S. citizens abroad?
Mike Pompeo: (13:21)
Not that I’m aware of. Not that I’m aware of, but there’s no doubt… I remember when we sent our team to get our officials and about 800 American non-government citizens that were living in Wuhan, I remember when we sent one of our first repatriation flights in there, we were very careful. We sent trained professionals in, but they were going into a very, very difficult, very fraught place. We were blessed; they all got back with no one having contracted the virus on that trip.
Mike Pompeo: (13:46)
I’m not aware of any of our officials that have had the virus attack them while they were performing their functions trying to get people back. We have a number of State Department officials who have COVID-19 now and are working their way through. In fact, we’ve had three fatalities of local employees, not U.S. direct hires, but local people who were working for the State Department in embassies around the world. We’ve had three fatalities so far.
Donald Trump: (14:13)
Go ahead, please.
Speaker 9: (14:13)
There have been some calls on the World Health Organization for a leadership change there. I was wondering what your thoughts are on that. Senator Martha McSally, for example, has called for Dr. Tedros to resign.
Mike Pompeo: (14:27)
I don’t want to… Look, this is not the time to be doing that kind of change. There’ll be a lot of time to look back and see how the World Health Organization performed. In the meantime, what our task is is to preserve and protect the American taxpayers to make sure that our resources don’t go to places that aren’t going to deliver on behalf of the American people and the world. President Trump and I are determined to do that.
Speaker 10: (14:50)
Just a quick follow-up?
Donald Trump: (14:50)
Let’s save it. Can we save it?
Speaker 10: (14:52)
Just a quick follow-up. May I-
Donald Trump: (14:56)
He’s a busy man.
Speaker 10: (14:57)
You said that China has a responsibility to get correct figures. How would you broadly characterize cooperation with China right now?
Mike Pompeo: (15:06)
With lots of places, we’ve been cooperating. They’re providing us assistance where we need it. There are places on the ground now where we do have access to the data we need, and we’re deeply appreciative of that. They’ve said they want to cooperate. We’re completely prepared to cooperate with them. That cooperation means sharing data, being transparent, being upfront, allowing information to flow freely. That’s our expectation, not just of China, though, of every country that is in this place today. Collectively, we have to work our way through this, and to do that, you have to have really good data.
Donald Trump: (15:39)
Okay. Thank you, Mike. Thank you.
Mike Pompeo: (15:40)
Great. Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you all. Thank you, Mr. Vice President.
Donald Trump: (15:43)
Appreciate it. Thanks.
Mike Pompeo: (15:46)
Okay, thank you very much. In just a few days, we’ve delivered nearly 11 million N95 masks to hot spots around the country, as you know, including 6.6 million to New York and New Jersey, 1.8 million to Chicago, 1.7 million to Detroit, and 837,000 to New Orleans.
Mike Pompeo: (16:07)
I spoke with the governor of Louisiana a little while ago, and they’re doing really pretty well, much better than they thought. They’ll be using fewer beds. As you know, we built a hospital. We’re about set to complete another hospital, and there’s even a possibility they won’t need it. That’s what we discussed.
Mike Pompeo: (16:26)
To date, we’ve shipped out more than 8, 000 ventilators, and we have almost 10,000 sitting there ready to go should we need them. An additional 2,200 newly manufactured ventilators come online on Monday. We’re going to be sending them to various locations just in case they need them.
Mike Pompeo: (16:47)
My administration is working with Philips to double their production of ventilators by May, and ultimately quadruple production by later this year, high-quality ventilators. We’re eliminating bureaucratic barriers to pave the way for Philips, major investments in American manufacturing sites and sales. This will help to ensure that our country can permanently produce enough ventilators in the future that we can do them by ourselves.
Mike Pompeo: (17:15)
We’re going to have a big stockpile when we’re finished, and we expect to be sending quite a few to other countries to help them after we’re finished. Even now, a couple of countries are really, really in dire need. It looks like our projections were right on ventilators. Some states that were thinking they would need thousands of more than they thought are now already taken care of, which we’re very happy about.
Mike Pompeo: (17:43)
In addition, beginning in May, we’ll be receiving almost 300 million new face masks. We’re going to have masks of about 300 million. They’ll be starting to be delivered in May and during the month of June. We’re ordering a big stockpile. We’re thinking about doing an extra 200 million, should we need them, or for the stockpile, so we’ll be in a position to have something incredible. That’ll be a total of 500 million masks.
Mike Pompeo: (18:17)
Today, 750,000 new protective gowns landed in Dallas, Texas, as a result of a partnership led by the federal government, DuPont, and FedEx. That’s been a great partnership. That’s worked very well. We have 750,000 new protective gowns, and these are at a high level, very high quality.
Mike Pompeo: (18:37)
As American industry steps up to help, so are America’s doctors and scientists. 10 drugs are now in clinical trials, and my administration is taking unprecedented actions to make new therapies and treatments available without delay. The doctors, the lab technicians, the companies, I spoke to them yesterday. I spoke again today. They are coming up with things that are, I think, I hope, in the very near future are going to be very, very special, very important.
Mike Pompeo: (19:09)
Our national stockpile is now equipped with nearly 30 million hydroxychloroquine pills, so we’re up to about 30 million. We’re distributing them by the millions. You read about State Representative Karen Whitsett, who I very much appreciate her going public. She was, I think, very, very much helped by this pill. She saw what I was saying on television. She thought she was in very bad shape. I don’t want to go further than that. But you see her story. You know her story. She’s a highly respected state rep from Michigan, and I think she did a great service, what she’s done. She’s in terrific shape. She looks fantastic, and she was very generous with her statements. In addition, the azithromycin and zinc. They say zinc; we should add zinc now. This all has to be recommended by doctors, physicians, but they say zinc. I want to throw that out there, because that’s where they seem to be having the best result. You add the zinc and the azithromycin, and we’ve had a lot of good stories. We’ve got a lot of good stories. We have almost 30 million doses, so we’ve got a lot. I want to thank Prime Minister Modi of India for allowing us to have what we requested from before the problem arose, and he was terrific. We’ll remember it.
Mike Pompeo: (20:48)
Later today, the CDC will release further guidance to help ensure critical infrastructure workers can perform their job safely after potential exposure to the virus. They’re working on that.
Mike Pompeo: (21:01)
The question was asked a little while ago about the World Health Organization. As you know, they made a statement on January 14th, I guess it was, that there was no human-to-human transmission. Well, there was. They probably made that statement in the second or third week of December, in addition, but they made it very powerfully on January 14th. They criticized me very strongly when I said that we’re going to shut down flights coming in from China, and especially from certain parts of China, but from China generally. We were criticized very badly.
Mike Pompeo: (21:40)
Last year, and for many years, hundreds of millions of dollars has been paid to the World Health Organization, hundreds of millions of dollars a year. Last year was $452 million, and China paid $42 million. Before that, it was $500 million, and China paid less than $40 million. Before that, it was similar numbers, in the 400s, 300s, and sometimes even in the 500s of millions of dollars, and China would do proportionally just a small fraction of that number.
Mike Pompeo: (22:22)
I think they have to get their priorities right. Their priorities are that everybody has to be treated properly, every country, and it doesn’t seem that way, does it? Doesn’t seem that way. So we’re going to do study, investigation, and we’re going to make a determination as to what we’re doing. In the meantime, we’re holding back. We want to see. Very unfair.
Mike Pompeo: (22:46)
The United States, $452 million compared to $42 million. That’s to the World Health Organization. That’s not good. That’s not good. Not fair. Not fair at all. Other countries, as you know, also gave very substantially less than the United States.
Mike Pompeo: (23:07)
The WHO, World Health, got it wrong. They got it very wrong. In many ways, they were wrong. They also minimized the threat very strongly. Not good.
Mike Pompeo: (23:21)
I want to take this opportunity to express the thanks of an extremely grateful nation to the Americans who go to work every day, especially in these critical industries in the midst of the pandemic, to care for and protect and feed American people, including medical personnel, law enforcement, first responders, food suppliers, sanitation workers. Somebody mentioned today, would you please specifically call out cashiers and clerks at grocery stores who are in during the pandemic, during the epidemic? They’re in danger. They are really in great danger. They’ve been incredible, and I want to call them out, cashiers and clerks.
Mike Pompeo: (24:08)
We grew up with cashiers and clerks in grocery stores, and they’ve been great. They’ve really been true American heroes. I want to call them out, because they’re working hard and they’re working in conditions that aren’t ideal. But soon, they’ll be ideal again.
Mike Pompeo: (24:23)
As we mourn the terrible loss of life from this grave pandemic, we’re seeing signs that our aggressive strategy to slow the spread is working. The number of new cases is stabilizing. The number of beds necessary in so many locations… I was watching, this morning, New York. I was watching Louisiana. You see what’s going on. The numbers are changing, and they’re changing rapidly. Soon we’ll be over that curve. We’ll be over the top, and we’ll be headed in the right direction. I feel strongly about that.
Mike Pompeo: (24:59)
Some terrible days ahead, but we’re going to have some wonderful days ahead. We’re going to get this behind us, this terrible thing behind us. Some people will never be able to forget, if they had a loved one, if they had a great friend or a friend, but we’re going to get it behind us.
Mike Pompeo: (25:17)
This is a tribute to the discipline and the devotion of the American people, what we’ve accomplished. If every American continues to strictly adhere to social distancing guidelines, we can defeat the invisible enemy and save countless lives, and we can do it much more quickly. We are hopefully heading toward a final stretch, the light at the end of the tunnel, as I was saying.
Mike Pompeo: (25:42)
As we continue to wage all-out medical war to defeat the virus, we’re also fighting an economic war to ensure we can quickly turn to full financial strength. We have to get our country back. We have to get going. Everybody wants to get going.
Mike Pompeo: (25:59)
Yesterday, I asked Congress to provide an additional $250 billion to expand the incredibly successful Paycheck Protection Program. You’ve seen what’s gone on there. It’s incredible, actually, which is allowing our small businesses to keep employees on the payroll and get ready for the opening, like a second opening.
Mike Pompeo: (26:18)
To protect millions of American jobs, I’m asking Congress to pass additional funding for this program this week as soon as possible. I think we have pretty good understanding with the Democrats. Hopefully, it’s going to be bipartisan. We do not have time for the partisan games, and we don’t want that, the obstruction or totally unrelated agendas. We want to do this for the small businesses and the workers. We can do a phase four, and a phase four will be later. This will be an expansion of what we’ve already done because it’s so successful. The $350 billion will be expanded by, hopefully, 250. If you look at the kind of loans, tens of thousands of loans to small businesses, it’s a great thing to see.
Donald Trump: (27:03)
… Owns the small businesses. It’s a great thing to see, it’s turned out to be more successful and more productive than anybody would have thought. But Democrats and Republicans are coming together to get that job done. That’s a very important job, in recent days and days ahead will restore America’s health and economic might, but also dimensions of our national strength will be brought together I think stronger than… I think we have a chance to be stronger than ever before. We’ve learned a lot. And we have tremendous stimulus now. Tremendous stimulus. And we’re going for more. Hopefully we’ll be doing an infrastructure bill so we can rebuild our roads and highways and bridges and tunnels and all of the things that we should be doing for our country.
Donald Trump: (27:46)
We’re going to rebuild our country, not other countries where they don’t even appreciate it. As our citizens persevere through this present challenge we’re renewing American unity, and we’re replenishing American will, and we are witnessing new American valor each and every day. We see it every day. The daring and determination of our people in this crisis reminds us that no matter how hard it gets, no matter what obstacles we must overcome, Americans will keep on fighting to victory and we will secure the glorious future that our citizens so richly deserve, especially after going through this nightmare, this evil beast. So we’re getting very close and hopefully it’s on the other side, and it will end soon, and I think it will. And I just think that the people of this country are fantastic. So we’ll take a few questions and then Vice President will take over. Please, go ahead. Please.
Speaker 11: (28:48)
Thank you so much Mr. President. ABC is reporting that your intelligent committee was warning about the virus as early as November, and produced a detailed report about the outbreak in China. When did you first learn about the intelligence and could you have acted on it then?
Donald Trump: (29:02)
Well, when I learned about the gravity of it was sometime just prior to closing the country to China. And when we closed up the flights coming in from China and various other elements. And then as you know, we closed up to Europe. So I don’t know exactly, but I’d like to see the information. Yeah. Please, please.
Speaker 12: (29:22)
Mr. President, a lot of Americans want to see businesses reopened-
Donald Trump: (29:24)
Yep. So do I. More than anybody.
Speaker 12: (29:27)
So what specifically has to happen for you to feel that it’s safe to reopen the country and what is your plan to do that?
Donald Trump: (29:33)
I think we can say that we have to be on that downside of that slope and heading to a very strong direction that this thing has gone. And we could do it in phases. We can go to some areas which you know, some areas are much less effective than others. But it would be nice to be able to open with a big bang and open up our country or certainly most of our country. And I think we’re going to do that soon. You look at what’s happening. I would say we’re ahead of schedule now. You hate to say it too loudly, because all of a sudden things don’t happen. But I think we will be sooner rather than later. But we’ll be sitting down with the professionals. We’ll be sitting down with many different people and making a determination and those meetings will start taking place fairly soon.
Speaker 12: (30:14)
So you wouldn’t do that until the health experts tell you it’s safe to do it?
Donald Trump: (30:18)
Yeah, would rely very heavily on them. Yeah.
Speaker 12: (30:20)
Do you think there is a system for monitoring and testing that you’re looking at?
Donald Trump: (30:26)
Yeah, we’re putting in very heavy testing systems. We have the best testing systems. And again, don’t forget when we look at cases, I’m looking at some… I’m not going to insult anybody. I’m not going to insult any country. But I’m looking at countries that are showing less cases than us. That’s testing. We’re testing more than anybody. And you saw exponentially more than anybody by far. And our testing’s become, I think it’ll end up being a big strength. And in fact, the other countries, other countries that the media talked about, are now calling us for what are we doing, and how are we doing it so quickly, and where are we getting these tests? Because our tests are really good now. They’ve been proven to be very accurate. Yes, please.
Speaker 13: (31:08)
Thank you, President Trump. I have two quick questions. One on infrastructure. The members of your administration and members of Congress have pointed out the top paid federal employee. It’s not the president, it’s the head of the Tennessee Valley Authority, and he made $8 million last year and some.
Donald Trump: (31:23)
It’s ridiculous. I agree. It’s ridiculous. I think it’s the highest paid government. Long before I got here. You said Tennessee Valley Authority, right? Has to be the highest paid man in any government. Makes approximately $8 or $9 million. I don’t know the gentleman, but he’s got a heck of a job. He gets paid a lot of money. He’s been there for a long while, hasn’t he?
Speaker 13: (31:46)
This one actually is new. He came in April, but the previous election-
Donald Trump: (31:49)
That’s a separate. Yeah, that’s separate, but I’m talking about we just have some new people going on the board, I know. But as you know, that’s a quasi public agency and whoever the head of the agency is, that person makes a lot of money.
Speaker 13: (32:05)
If I could ask my second question-
Donald Trump: (32:07)
Which is an amazing thing. And when do we want them to do something, they’re not there for us. That’s not good. That’s not good.
Speaker 13: (32:15)
The second question-
Donald Trump: (32:15)
They’ve been there for a long time. That’s been a story for a long time.
Speaker 13: (32:19)
And I assume that you would support reducing that salary part of the infrastructure bill?
Donald Trump: (32:23)
Yep. Reducing it by a lot.
Speaker 13: (32:26)
My other question is-
Donald Trump: (32:27)
Only the greatest job in the history of government though, most certainly if you’re into money. Tennessee Valley Authority. It’s right. Go ahead. I’ve been waiting for somebody to ask me about that. It’s been bothering me for a long time to go ahead.
Speaker 13: (32:41)
So one of the biggest rating hits of the coronavirus is, aside from these briefings, has been a show on Netflix called Tiger King. And the man who’s the star of this was a former zoo owner who’s serving a 22 year prison sentence. He’s asking you for a part in saying he was unfairly convicted. Your son yesterday jokingly said that he was going to advocate for it. And I was wondering if you’ve seen show, if you have any thoughts on pardoning Joe Exotic?
Donald Trump: (33:06)
Which son? It must be Don.
Speaker 13: (33:08)
Donald Trump: (33:08)
I had a feeling it was done. Is that what he said? I don’t know. I know nothing about it. His 22 years? For what? What did he do?
Speaker 13: (33:15)
He allegedly hired someone to murder an animal rights activist, but he said that he didn’t do that and he was-
Donald Trump: (33:21)
You think he didn’t do it? Are you on his side? Are you recommending a pardon?
Speaker 13: (33:26)
No, I’m not advocating anything yet.
Donald Trump: (33:27)
As a reporter, you’re not allowed to do that. You’d be criticized by these. Would you recommend a pardon?
Jim Acosta: (33:33)
I’m not weighing in on Tiger King.
Donald Trump: (33:35)
I don’t think you would. Go ahead. Do you have a question?
Jim Acosta: (33:36)
But I do like Joe Exotic.
Donald Trump: (33:37)
I’ll take a look. Is that Joe Exotic? That’s Joe Exotic?
Jim Acosta: (33:41)
Let me get back to you with the coronavirus, if I can, Mr. President. Last week, your top experts were saying that we should expect 100,000 to 240,000 deaths in this country. You’ve been talking about how it looks like maybe things are planned telling. Are these numbers now being revised downward? I know you don’t want people to stop social distancing and that sort of thing, but what can you tell us about the numbers? Are they right?
Donald Trump: (34:04)
Yeah. My impression Jim, is those were the numbers that were set. And they were set as an expectation from quite a while ago. I think we’re just doing much better than those numbers. If either of you would like to talk about that, it’s a fair question. Do you want to come up, Deborah?
Deborah Birx: (34:24)
Yeah, so I think all of you, many of you have done the analysis of the same models that we utilized. And if you do the models of the models, you end up with that range. At the same time, we’ve carefully looked at Italy and Spain. And we are doing much better in many cases than several other countries. And we’re trying to understand that. We believe that our healthcare delivery system in the United States is quite extraordinary. I know many of you are watching the Act Now model, and the IMHE model. And they have consistently decreased the number, the mortality, from over almost 90,000 or 86,000, down to 81,000, and now down to 61,000.
Deborah Birx: (35:10)
That is modeled on what America is doing. That’s what’s happening. And I think what has been so remarkable, I think, to those of us who have been in the science fields for so long is how important behavioral change is, and how amazing Americans are in adapting to and following through on these behavioral changes. And that’s what’s changing the rate of new cases, and that’s what will change the mortality going forward. Because now we’re in to the time period of full mitigation that should be reflected within the coming weeks of decreasing mortality.
Deborah Birx: (35:48)
I mean that’s what we really hope to see. We are impressed by the American people. And I think models are models. I’ve always worked on validating. I spent my life validating models all over the world and that’s why we do surveys and surveillance, and we make sure that what we think is right. I think this will change how people look at respiratory diseases, because it will change what is possible when the globe, and particularly the American people, do this level of mitigation. And I think as I talked about yesterday, we are still in awe really of the American people’s strength in this and following through.
Donald Trump: (36:32)
Yeah, I’m going to do that. I’m going to ask Bob to come up just for a second, Director. I think that’s it. They have done it. Everybody has done everybody a great job. So those were original projections. And we don’t want to say anything about beating it yet, but I think we will have a very good chance to beat and I’m very substantial about this.
Robert Redfield: (36:54)
Thank you, Mr. President. I just want to add to what Ambassador Birx said. I mean, this is a consequence of the commitment of the American people. And a lot of us have always had challenges changing behavior, whether if it’s exercising regularly or different habits with smoking and when it affects us. What’s been remarkable to watch here, is how the American public has changed their behavior when it protects the vulnerable. I think that’s really what I’m so proud to see.
Speaker 14: (37:25)
Mr. President, just a followup on something from yesterday, a quick just yes or no question. Yesterday you said you had not seen Peter Navarro’s memo on the coronavirus back in January, February 23rd. Were you ever reached on those memos? Did you ever discuss those memos with anybody?
Donald Trump: (37:42)
I don’t remember that. I’ve now seen the memo. I saw it. Peter sends a lot of memos. I didn’t see the memo. As you know, World Health was saying that was not correct because at the time they called it wrong. But I didn’t see the memo. But I acted as quickly as… People were shocked that I acted so quickly and everybody thought I was wrong because I did act so quickly as you know, with respect to closing the borders. With respect not only to China, but with Europe, I closed the borders. And I think that was very important. But no, I didn’t see the memo at the time, but I have seen it since. Yeah, please. Wait a minute, let me do a couple of others. We’ll go back.
Speaker 15: (38:19)
They head of the World Health Organization today warned against politicizing.
Donald Trump: (38:23)
I agree with that.
Speaker 15: (38:24)
And he said that consequence of politicization could actually create more body bags, it was a pretty vivid image. What do you believe the consequence of the US pulling out its funding of the WHO?
Donald Trump: (38:37)
Well, I think when you say more body bags, I think we would have done… And he would have been much better serving the people that he’s supposed to serve if they gave a correct analysis. I mean everything was, I said, China-centric. Everything was going to be fine. No human to human, keep the borders open. He wanted me to keep the borders open. I closed the borders despite him. And that was a hard decision to make at the time. We’re all together. We made a decision against the World Health Organization. So when he says politicizing, he’s politicizing. That shouldn’t be. But look, we spend $450 billion, $452 billion, almost $500 billion last year. Hundreds of billions in previous years. And they got to do better than that. They got to do better. When you talk about politics, I can’t believe he’s talking about politics. When look at the relationship they have to China. So China spends $42 million, we spend $450 million, and everything seems to be China’s way. That’s not right. It’s not fair to us, and honestly it’s not fair to the world. Okay question in the back. Yeah.
Speaker 16: (39:49)
Thank you, Mr. President. There’s breaking news today in a couple of reports from a couple of different outlets that Jared Kushner’s team is seeking to create a national coronavirus database, a tracking system for patients who’ve been diagnosed. Now his spokesperson said that that’s not true.
Donald Trump: (40:07)
Yeah, I have never heard about it. It doesn’t sound like a bad idea actually, but I have not heard about that.
Speaker 16: (40:12)
You would be okay with it?
Donald Trump: (40:13)
I don’t know if I’d be okay. I have to see it. But it sounds very scientific and it sounds like it could be good based on tracking, but it also has to do with rights and lots of different constitutional questions. I have not heard that at all.
Speaker 16: (40:27)
Okay. So some people are concerned it would be like the post 9/11 Patriot Act that ultimately led to the FISA abuse. Are you concerned about that?
Donald Trump: (40:36)
FISA abuse, which I was the one abused. And a couple of other people, in all fairness. No, I don’t know anything about it. I haven’t heard it. I mean, I’ll speak to them. I don’t think so. They would have told me. I would’ve known about it. Please.
Speaker 17: (40:48)
Thank you, Mr. President. The Nevada delegation is unhappy, because smaller casinos and businesses that make a profit from gaming-
Donald Trump: (40:58)
Speaker 17: (40:58)
In Nevada. Found out they’re not eligible for the CARES Act, PPP money. And I talked to one member who said gaming-
Donald Trump: (41:08)
You mean because of the number of employees?
Speaker 17: (41:11)
Because of the number of employees-
Donald Trump: (41:12)
And yet they’re small businesses.
Speaker 17: (41:13)
And they thought gaming would not be treated any differently than any other business with this. Was this an oversight?
Donald Trump: (41:19)
Well, I could look at that. I could look. It’s a great state and I will take a look at that strongly. Are you talking only the smaller casinos?
Speaker 17: (41:27)
Donald Trump: (41:27)
Yeah, I’ll take a look at that. Fine. I don’t mind that. Please. Yeah, we’ll take a look. Yeah, we haven’t heard, nobody’s told me about it, but I’ll look at it. It’s a great state. They do a great job, so I’m going to look at it very strongly. I understand what they mean. Please.
Speaker 18: (41:42)
Thank you, Mr. President. In terms of the economy, what if you urge Americans to go back to work and they don’t listen to you? Would you leave that up to the governors, to businesses, to citizens to decide when it’s safe to stop social distance thing?
Donald Trump: (41:56)
Well, when you say they don’t listen, I think they are going to listen. They want to go back. Everybody wants to, they’re going stir crazy. They’ve been in those houses and those apartments and I mean, they’ve done a great job. Again, when you look, the question was just asked about how are we doing compared to projections. Those were just original projections. The big projection being 2.2 million people would die if we did nothing. That was another decision we made, close it up. That was a big decision that we made.
Donald Trump: (42:25)
Two very smart people walked into my office and they said, “Listen, these are your alternatives,” and that was a projection of I guess 1.5 to 2.2 million people would die if We didn’t close it up. That’s a lot of people. So if we do a number that’s tremendously smaller than that, now, if we did close it up, the numbers got to 100 to 220 million people. So if we can stay substantially under the 100, which was the original projection, I think we all did a very good job. Even though it’s a lot of people. Say it.
Speaker 18: (42:59)
Do you think we’re on track for that by May 1st?
Donald Trump: (43:01)
Okay, well right now we’re, I mean we’re doing well in terms of the numbers. I can’t tell you in terms of the date. We don’t want to go down, and then we can start going up if we’re not careful. So we have to be careful. As far as a distancing, social distancing, and other things, certainly for a while. At some point, that’s going away. We’ll be able to sit next to each other and we have all our lives. This is a very unique thing. This has not happened, anything like this of this magnitude, since 1917, 1918. The Great Pandemic. That was something.
Donald Trump: (43:37)
But yeah, no, people want to sit next to each other at restaurants. They want to sit next to each other like normal at a football game, baseball game, basketball game, hockey game. No, we want to go back to life. Now, the first period of time, maybe we’ll go a little bit slower and maybe we’ll be talking about distancing. But at some point, we expect to be back like it was before. And hopefully it’ll never happen. Hopefully if it does happen, it’s going to be in a hundred years from now. The last one, 1917. That’s something, that’s a long time ago. And that was a horrible thing. Jim, go ahead.
Jim Acosta: (44:17)
Yeah, I want to get back to something you were saying yesterday about people going to Wisconsin and voting in the middle of this pandemic. Really putting their lives on the line. And you said, “Well, if they do that, vote by mail, perhaps we’ll have voter fraud in this country.” I just wanted to ask you if the voters in five states, Utah, Colorado, Hawaii, Washington and Oregon, all vote by mail, can you or the White House staff or your campaigns provide any evidence to back up your claim, that mail-in voting is rife with fraud, like the example you gave of people working the rooms filling out false ballots?
Donald Trump: (44:52)
Sure. Well, what happened-
Jim Acosta: (44:52)
We’ve been talking about so far, since the beginning of this administration. Where’s the evidence?
Donald Trump: (44:58)
I think there’s a lot of evidence, but we’ll provide you with some. Okay. And there’s evidence that’s being compiled just like it’s being compiled in the state of California, where they settled with judicial watch saying that a million people should not have been voting and you saw that. Did you? Wait, excuse me. Well, I’m just telling you. I’m telling you, in California, in the great state of California, they settled and we could have gone a lot further. Judicial watch settled where they agree that a million people should not have voted where they were 115 years old, and lots of things, and people were voting in that place.
Donald Trump: (45:33)
What I see in every one of those states that you mentioned, is a state that happens to be won by the Democrats. And if you have a position like me where it’s registered, you’re here, and we’re voting someplace where I’m not, I haven’t left the White House in I guess months other than to ask a ship to wave it goodbye to New York, which by the way is now being used for the purpose that we’re talking about, which a lot of people wanted. Wait a minute.
Jim Acosta: (46:04)
Voting doesn’t work out well for the Republicans. So is your concern really just political?
Donald Trump: (46:08)
It certainly hasn’t. But if you’re a senior citizen and if you’re somebody that needs it, I’m all for it. But they have to be very careful. Because you know the things with bundling and all of the things that are happening with votes by mail where thousands of votes have gathered, and I’m not going to say which party does it, but thousands of votes have gathered, and they come in and they’re dumped in a location. And then all of a sudden you lose elections that you think you’re going to win. I won’t stand for it.
Jim Acosta: (46:38)
Where’s the proof of that?
Donald Trump: (46:38)
Well, we’re going to find out about the proof because you’re going to see what’s going on. And I’m not going to stand for it. Our voting system, first of all, we should have voter ID. When you vote, you should have voter ID. And if you send something in, you should be sure as a state and as a country, you should be sure that that vote is meaningful, and it’s not just made fraudulently. Because there’s a lot of fraudulent voting going on in this country. This country should have voter ID. Okay, let’s do another one. Go, please.
Speaker 19: (47:09)
Mr. President, surely the only way that we can track these millions of doses of hydroxychloroquine that are being distributed across the country is through the e-health data system. How systematically is your task force watching the system?
Donald Trump: (47:25)
Well, I think it’s very systematic. Yeah. We’re distributing the hydroxy all through the country. It’s being distributed in large amounts. We have it coming in now. We were up to 29 million, doses then we went to, 30 million doses. But we have it coming in all throughout the country. And much of it’s being distributed. And in fact, it’ll start down what we have in our stockpile. And again, I hope it works. Again, I’m not a doctor as you possibly have found out. I’m not a doctor, but I’m a person with common sense. And we’ve had some very good results over the course, including a woman who just reported it two days ago. Yes.
Speaker 19: (48:07)
Through the e-health data system?
Donald Trump: (48:09)
No, we’re looking to provide it in many different ways. In many ways, where in certain instances, we’ve been asked, in the case of Michigan, we’ve been asked who the Governor of Michigan would like to, I think she’s become a big fan of it as a medication, as something that’s going to help with this horrible virus. And we’re delivering it to the governments of various states when they ask. So certain states are asking, certain governments are asking, and we’re delivering it directly to the government. Yeah, please.
Speaker 20: (48:40)
Thank you very much, Mr. President. We know many people around the world are paying close attention to this conference, so on behalf of Foreign Media-
Donald Trump: (48:47)
Good. Where are you from? Where are you from?
Speaker 20: (48:51)
I’m from Taiwan. On behalf of a Foreign Media Group, I would like to ask you two questions. First question is that the French President Macron called Iranian President Rouhani, and said that Euro has started to shift the medical goods to Iran. Would you consider-
Donald Trump: (49:11)
Speaker 20: (49:11)
Donald Trump: (49:14)
That doesn’t bother me.
Speaker 20: (49:16)
Yeah. So would you think-
Donald Trump: (49:17)
If they’re sending medical goods to Iran, it doesn’t bother me. No.
Speaker 13: (49:22)
Okay. Yeah. So the other question is that the world also paying attention to the US election. So we are also note that the Bernie Sanders has drop out today.
Donald Trump: (49:33)
I did see that today. Well, he didn’t really drop out. What about his delegates? I mean, he said he’s going to keep his delegates and which is sort of interesting. He’s going to keep his delegates and he’d like to get more. Now, is he dropping out or not? That’s not dropping out. When you keep your delegates and then you want more delegates before you get to the convention, that’s a weird deal going on there. I don’t know what’s happening. And I don’t know why President Obama hasn’t supported Joe Biden a long time ago. There’s something he feels is wrong. Why isn’t… He’ll come out, I’m sure he’s going to come out at some point because he certainly doesn’t want to see me for four more years. We think a little bit differently. You know what? I’ll tell you it, it does amaze me that President Obama hasn’t supported sleepy Joe.
Donald Trump: (50:21)
It just hasn’t happened. When’s it going to happen? When is it going to happen? Why is it? He knows something that you don’t know, that I think I know, but you don’t know. So it’ll be interesting. But with Bernie, I saw his a standard fair today. I watched, and I hope that a lot of Bernie Sanders people, just like they did last time, we got a tremendous percentage of Bernie people. And I think they voted for me largely because of trade. Because Bernie and I agree on trade. We agree that the United States has been ripped off by virtually every country they do business with. The difference is, I’ve done a lot about it, and I’m doing more about it. And we’ve made incredible trade deals including USMCA, the deal with China. and then all of a sudden that gets disturbed by this virus situation. But China has to spend almost $250 billion on purchasing our products, $40 to $50 billion with our farmers, and the Bernie Sanders people are big believers on what I’m saying on trade.
Donald Trump: (51:23)
And I got a lot of them in the last election that surprised people, but it didn’t surprise me. Now, those are great people, they’re great people. But look, I’m looking at Bernie Sanders. I watched this morning. And I said, “What is that all about?” Like you said, the delegates, the delegates. He’s not giving up his delegates. He’s keeping them, and he said he wants to get more of them. And I think he’s doing it to negotiate, I assume, but I don’t know. That’s a hard thing to do. Yeah. Jeff, go ahead.
Mr. President, OPEC is meeting with Russia tomorrow and some other countries to discuss oil prices. Oil prices are at $23 a barrel.
Donald Trump: (52:01)
Oh, that’s good. Finally, somebody knows something when they ask a question.
What is your message to them ahead of their meeting tomorrow? Will the US consider a coordinated cut in production?
Donald Trump: (52:13)
I don’t think… Look, we already cut. We’re very market-oriented. If you look at Texas, and if you look at North Dakota, and if you look at some of our states that do this very well, they’ve already cut way back. They cut back automatically. But in the case of Russia, in the case of Saudi Arabia, they increased production at a time when you didn’t need it, and then they got hit by the virus, which knocked out 40% of the market. And now, they’re flooded with oil.
Donald Trump: (52:38)
Look, I just say this. You have two countries that are getting hurt very badly. Russia’s getting hurt. That’s their primary source, and Saudi Arabia that’s definitely their primary source. And it doesn’t make sense that they flooded the market. For whatever reason, they did that for themselves. It’s a argument that they had, and I think they’ll straighten it out. A lot of progress has been made over the last week, and it’ll be interesting to see what comes out of OPEC tomorrow. But OPEC, obviously… For many years, I used to think OPEC was very unfair.
Donald Trump: (53:10)
I hated OPEC. You want to know the truth? I hated it. Because it was a fix, but somewhere along the line, that broke down and it went the opposite way. And we have a tremendously powerful energy industry in this country now. Number one in the world, and I don’t want those jobs being lost.
What would you do if they don’t end up cutting?
Donald Trump: (53:31)
We’ll see. I have a lot of options. Please. A lot of good options, Jeff. Beauties. I might like it even more. Now, you can go watch. Let’s see what happens. Hopefully they can make a deal. Let’s go.
Speaker 21: (53:45)
Thank you, Mr. President. Clearly Americans were getting very anxious to go back to work. There’s something optimistic, still very vague. Now that the IMHE model specifically has been adjusted down to 61,000, when are we going to open back up? Can you give us a better date? Is it going to be April 30th, May 1st?
Donald Trump: (54:03)
Speaker 22: (54:03)
Can you give us a better date? Is it going to be April 30th, May 1st?
Donald Trump: (54:03)
You said adjusted back down 61,000, what was adjusted back?
Speaker 22: (54:07)
The IMH model. The one that originally predicted between 100,000 and 200,000.
Donald Trump: (54:13)
Well, it’s still a big number, right? 61, that’s a big number. Go ahead.
Speaker 22: (54:19)
But can you give us a more specific date? Will it be May 1st.
Donald Trump: (54:24)
I had a date and I thought it was a very aspirational date. It’s turning out to be very interesting because a lot of good things are happening by Easter, but I had a very aspirational date. I didn’t think we could make it. I didn’t say we would do it by Easter, but I said, “Well, wouldn’t that be great to shoot for Easter? That would be a great day. Beautiful day. Very important day to a lot of people like me and some of you in the room, maybe all of you in the room, frankly. But Easter is a very important day. So, aspirationally, I said, “Let’s see if we can do it at Easter,” but I said it would be very tough and I was criticized for that so I don’t like giving dates and that wasn’t a date. That was just an aspiration. That would have been incredible.
Donald Trump: (55:08)
But I don’t think we’re going to be very far behind and some of these models are looking like Easter is going to be a very important date anyway because of the curve. It’s hitting the top and it’s starting to come down and one person said Easter is looking like a good time. So, a good time for that, for heading down. So, we’ll see what happens. Look, there’s no reason to do that. We have a lot of good things happening. When I spoke to the governor of Louisiana today, he said, “Tony, they need far less beds than [inaudible 00:55:36].” I said, “Well, good because we’re building 1000 room additional. We built them 1000 beds and now we’re building another 1000. And I said, “Listen, is there a way that we don’t build, I don’t want to build them if they don’t need them.” In New York, the Javits isn’t too heavily used, it’s ready to go.
Donald Trump: (55:52)
2,900 beds, plus we now have the ship set for COVID, if they want to use it. And we’re using it for governor Murphy in New Jersey. So, we’ll see what happens but the numbers are coming way down. The ventilators, we’re all set. We have a lot to go if we want, but I’m not getting calls where they need ventilators anymore. So, we were right on those ventilators. I’d love to have additional ventilators for some of the countries that are our allies and our friends. And even if they’re not our allies and our friends, you’re saving human lives. But I’d love to see if we had some… We’re making a lot of ventilators right now. They take a while to make and they’re very expensive and they’re very complex to make, but I’d love to be able to help other countries once we’re taken care of.
Donald Trump: (56:45)
But I just sent 100 ventilators to Colorado and that was great. A senator there who’s a terrific Senator, Cory Gardner and he called me last night. He said, “Could you get 100 ventilators for Colorado?” And we just sent them out and there’ll be there very shortly. But it looks like we’re in great shape from the bed standpoint, it looks like we’re in great shape from the ventilator standpoint. And you just heard, I ordered 500 million masks, N95s and others and surgical, but we ordered 500 million masks, 300 and 200, and they’re going to be here very shortly. So, we’re really in great shape and we started off with an empty cupboard. So, I’m going to leave the vice president and his group to handle it and I will see you probably tomorrow. Okay. Thank you much.
Mike Pence: (57:54)
You all can come up if you want. That would be great. Well, good evening everyone and to our fellow Americans southwest, good afternoon. We find ourselves in the midst of a very tough week for Americans, in areas most impacted by the coronavirus. The New York City area, New Jersey, Louisiana, continue to focus resources and attention on those areas. And I know that the hearts and prayers of the American people are with all of those communities. But in the wake of more than 1.9 million tests, we see more than 400,000 Americans have tested positive for the coronavirus and sadly, we’ve lost more than 14,000. We grieve but as the good book says, we do not grieve like those who have no hope. In this very special week, I know that the faith of millions of Americans is a comfort to them. The president and I spoke to more than 10,000 faith leaders and we were able to express to them our gratitude for the way that they’re strengthening the communities that they serve.
Mike Pence: (59:13)
But we also find hope in the numbers that Dr Birx will continue to reflect on today. For as Dr Fauci explained yesterday and in the days before, the losses as grievous as they are that we are seeing today are a reflection of people that contracted the coronavirus in many cases before strong mitigation steps were taken. Before the guidelines for America fully took hold. The cases, however, and the new cases and the hospitalizations are in fact a reflection of the results of what the American people are doing. And I want to echo the president’s and Dr. Birx’ statements today about the extraordinary work the American people are doing, because we continue to see great progress, low and steady numbers in the States of California and Washington and in the New York metropolitan area, New Jersey, New Orleans metro area, Detroit and Chicago and Boston. We continue to see evidence of stabilization that should be an encouragement to every American.
Mike Pence: (01:00:36)
An encouragement that we may be reaching the point where the impact of the coronavirus is beginning to level off, but it also should be an encouragement to every American to keep doing what we are all doing. Heed the guidance of your state and local authorities, and for every American, continue to put the White House coronavirus guidelines for America into effect. An area of particular concern we were briefed on this morning is the city of Philadelphia. I spoke today to governor Tom Wolf and as we begin to see early trend lines in Philadelphia, I assured him that we were going to continue to flow resources and support to that community. But our message to the people of the Philadelphia area is now more than ever, practice the social distancing so that Philadelphia, and to some extent even Pittsburgh, do not have to endure what other communities before them have had to endure.
Mike Pence: (01:01:48)
Also today, at the president’s direction, we hosted a conference call with every Republican member of the House of Representatives and every Democrat member of the House of Representatives. And we express our appreciation to speaker Nancy Pelosi and leader Kevin McCarthy for convening these forums. We brought together key members of our task force team. The Secretary of the Treasury discussed the progress that we’ve made on paycheck protection. He reported to members of Congress that so far we’re working with more than 3,600 lenders across the country and we’ve dispersed more than $98 billion in forgivable loans. Now, these are loans that if small businesses accept this money and use it to keep people on their payroll over the next two months, they’ll be completely forgiven. The Treasury tonight will be issuing a new FAQ, Frequently Asked Questions document, that will also make it clear that lenders may use their own closing documents for completing loan applications and information is available at treasury.gov and sba. gov as well.
Mike Pence: (01:03:02)
Dr Birx and Dr Fauci briefed the members of Congress today on the latest data. They’ll both reflect on that in a moment. We also had Admiral John [inaudible 01:03:11] talk about our control tower system and the extraordinary flow of supplies to critical areas across the country. We also briefed on the disbursement of resources to local hospitals of Seema Verma and gave them an update on what the secretary of state spoke about today. Remarkable to think, more than 50,000 Americans brought back home through nearly 500 flights and we thank the members of Congress who have worked with the state department to identify family members and groups that found themselves stranded overseas and we were grateful for that. In addition to our interaction with members of Congress today, we spoke with the president of the Henry Ford Hospital, Bob Riney. It is the Henry Ford Hospital that is conducting a clinical trial for hydrochloroquine.
Mike Pence: (01:04:02)
He expressed great enthusiasm for the work that they had done. They had a rather overwhelming response to the initial trial, which is beginning this week with 3000 people taking the hydrochloroquine or a placebo so they can match it. But what the president of the Henry Ford Hospital told me is they’d like to expand the test. I put him in touch with Steve Hahn and the FDA and we’ll be adding several more clinical trial paths to look at impacts on particular demographic groups, including seniors and minority populations, and more on that in just a moment. In the category of supplies and support, the president as of today has signed 52 major disaster declarations. Vermont was the latest approved and states have stood up some 27,000 national guard that are aiding in coronavirus response. On the critical subject of ventilators, we do have currently more than 8,000 ventilators in our strategic national stockpile and distributed more to the Navajo Nation out of Colorado today.
Mike Pence: (01:05:15)
But also today, we received the good news that the first delivery of newly manufactured ventilators from General Electric and Hamilton arrived at the strategic national stockpile and as the president said, we’ll be adding newly manufactured ventilators to our resources to be available as the coronavirus epidemic reaches critical communities around the country. On the subject of the Airbridge, four flights scheduled arrived today, primarily focused on gloves for our incredible healthcare workers. One flight alone had nearly 19 million gloves, another 8 million, another 15 million and the like. And the American people I think would be very proud to see this vast array of now well more than 50 flights that are bringing in supplies from all over the world, and again working through FEMA, we’re directing those resources with the guidance of our scientific experts to the communities most in need. As we announced yesterday, the White House coronavirus task force has requested that CDC and our team assemble data on the unique impact that we’re seeing reported on African Americans from the coronavirus.
Mike Pence: (01:06:38)
Dr Fauci spoke about it yesterday and we’ll reflect on his perspective on that as well. Tomorrow with the surgeon general and others on the White House team, we’ll be speaking with leaders in the African American community and as Dr Fauci will reflect, there have been historic challenges in the healthcare of the African African American communities. Particularly in our inner cities and now more than ever, I’ll just say from my heart to all of our African American family members now more than ever, practice the guidelines. Look after those most vulnerable people that have underlying serious health conditions. It’s more important than ever that we all put those principles into practice. Finally today, after we hear from Dr Fauci and Dr. Birx, I’m going to ask Dr Redfield to step up because today the CDC will be publishing new guidance on essential critical workers who have been exposed to COVID-19 but don’t have any symptoms. Don’t have a temperature and don’t have any reason to believe that they have the coronavirus.
Mike Pence: (01:07:58)
The present moment. The guidance is that if you have been in proximity to someone who did test positive for the coronavirus, that the guidance of CDC is that even with essential critical workers in industries from healthcare to food supply, that we ask people to stay home for 14 days. The new guidance tonight will hopefully make it clear that there would be an opportunity for those people playing such an incredible role in our nation’s response to be able to return to work and to do so safely. And finally, let me just say again how inspired we are with the response of the American people to the coronavirus epidemic. Each and every day, as we see the beginnings of encouraging news, the low and steady numbers in California and Washington State and now beginning to see numbers of hospitalizations are going down and new cases leveling and in some cases going down.
Mike Pence: (01:09:02)
We all hope it is the beginning of a trend, but we also hope it’s an encouragement to every American to keep doing what you’re doing. Not just for your own health and for the health of your loved ones, but because we want to make sure that all of us are doing our part to make sure that the fewest number of Americans possible are exposed to the coronavirus. Given the fact that this I remind you is three times more contagious than the flu. Each of us has a role to play in slowing the spread. That’s what the 30 days to slow the spread is all about. It’s about protecting your health. It’s about making sure that that our healthcare workers and our healthcare system is not overwhelmed by the coronavirus and ultimately it is about saving lives. We talk about the numbers and I’m going to ask Dr. Birx to come up and reflect on them, but I think all of us know this is one American at a time. It’s one heartbreak at a time and having lost loved ones in my life, just like everyone here and everyone looking on, we want to work every day to make that number of losses the lowest possible and it will take all of us to do it and to keep doing exactly what we’re doing through today. Dr. Birx.
Deborah Birx: (01:10:32)
Thank you Mr vice president. I just want to start where the vice president left off. I come out of the services, army, when we always talk about honoring the fallen and I think for every American, what we can do now to honor the fallen that have fallen and given that really their deaths to this horrible disease. To the healthcare workers that are the front lines trying to save every single one, to honor them and to honor our elders and the individuals that we know are at the greatest risk for bad outcomes. We all need to continue to do our work. Yes, the number of cases is stabilizing, but I do want to go through those numbers with you because we talk about these as micro epidemics in metro areas and in rural areas. So, in the New York metro area, which includes obviously Northern New Jersey, Connecticut and Rhode Island, there is still 11,000 new cases per day and their positivity rate on their testing is still in the 40%+ range.
Deborah Birx: (01:11:37)
So, there is still a significant amount of disease there and everyone needs to continue to follow the guidelines. New Orleans metro area, 800 new cases per day, but a zero positivity rate on their testing of 28%. Detroit Metro area, 1400 cases per day, 26% positivity. Chicago, 1200 cases per day and 18%. Boston, 18% positivity, 1100 cases per day. Denver has fallen to 180 cases per day, but still has 0% positivity in they’re testing. California and Washington have stayed stable at about Seattle, 350 cases per day. On the LA metro area, 800 cases per day, but their test positive rates are remaining in the 9% range. And so, this really gives us some idea of what it takes. They have been continuously mitigating. Imagine what we’re talking about, new York going from 40+ percent, zero positivity and 11,000 cases a day, down to the LA metro area of 800 cases per day and 9%. So, this is what when the president talks about reaching the top and coming down, those are the kinds of things we need to see and the only way we will see them is if every American continues to follow the guidance.
Deborah Birx: (01:13:02)
Now, in the Philadelphia metro area where I come from, it’s 1400 cases per day. This of course includes Camden, the counties around, the Philadelphia Metro and Wilmington. And in the Baltimore and the Washington DC area, 15% zero positivity and 500 cases per day and 200 cases per day in Baltimore. This is how we’re looking at it, County by County, metro by Metro, rural region by rural region to make sure we don’t miss anything. And we’re triangulating testing data with the attack rates, with the hospitalization, with the number of cases, and really creating a mosaic of who needs what when to ensure that every American is served well. I had a great call today with a group of pediatricians, the head of the American Academy of Pediatrics and with the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Behind the scenes and working every day are the pediatricians fielding those phone calls from every concerned mother and of course grandmothers like myself, and protecting our children every day to ensure that they have access to the medical care that they need while this is happening.
Deborah Birx: (01:14:15)
And to every pregnant woman out there, I was very reassured hearing from the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. They have put amazing things in place to protect every pregnant woman. They have been social distancing in their offices. They have increased all of the disinfecting. They have lengthened the time between clients. To every pregnant woman, don’t miss your appointments. If your OB thinks you need to be there, you should go and please know that on the labor and delivery wards, they are doing everything to protect you and their babies. They are committed to you. They are absolutely committed to you having a good experience. Make sure if your physician believes you should be in the hospital for your delivery, make sure you’re following their guidance. We don’t want any pregnant women to suffer a bad outcome during this time. So again, I just want to conclude by thanking the American people and recognizing the number of people we’re losing per day is serious to all of us and it could be so much worse, but our frontline healthcare providers and the way they’re talking to each other about how to improve care for every individual that they serve.
Deborah Birx: (01:15:29)
You see them on the TV, you see them in the emergency room, you see what they’re up against. This is how we can honor them is to make sure we continue to, as Dr Fauci always says, put your foot on the gas and make sure that we continue to strongly mitigate and really protect those with preexisting conditions. And finally, those preexisting conditions we know now include asthma. So, asthma, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes. On any of these conditions, renal disease. No matter what age, please make sure you’re following the guidelines to protect those individuals in your household. We know they’re more susceptible to a worse outcome. We don’t think that anyone’s more susceptible to getting infected. I want to make sure that everyone understands, everybody is susceptible to getting infected. This virus is very transmittable as we well know, but we need to protect those that need our protection the most. So, thank you all for what you’re doing to get the message out, to ensure that we continue to protect each other in this very difficult time.
Mike Pence: (01:16:38)
Great. Dr Fauci, please.
Dr Fauci: (01:16:41)
Thank you Mr vice president. Just to follow up and underscore what Dr Birx had said. As I’ve said many times from this podium, the spectrum of going from infection to getting ill to requiring hospitalization to intensive care to death, and what is the most striking thing that obviously is so sobering to us is when we see the number of deaths. We know now for sure that the mitigation that we have been doing is having a positive effect but you don’t see it until weeks later. Remember, this past weekend when we all of us got up in front of this podium and mentioned that this was going to be a really bad week. At the same time, we were saying that we would hope we would start to see a little bit of a change in the daily hospitalizations, intensive care and intubations and New York is starting to see that. So, I say that but I draw back a bit. Don’t get complacent about that because what’s going to happen two and a half weeks from now is really what’s going to happen with regard to the people who are getting new infection.
Dr Fauci: (01:17:45)
As Dr. Birx said, everybody is almost certainly as susceptible as anybody else to getting infected. It’s what happens to you after you get infected and again, to just keep emphasizing, we need to keep mitigating. We know that this is something that is a strain on the American public, but it’s just something that we have not only the only tool, it’s the best tool. And to just shift a bit to what we said yesterday regarding the African American community, it is very painful to see, and I’ve seen it throughout my entire medical career, that the health disparities in the minority community, but particularly the African American community, puts them at risk apart from coronavirus issues. Puts them at risk for diseases much more so than the general population.
Dr Fauci: (01:18:38)
The double whammy that you suffer now is when you have this terrible virus which essentially prays in its ultimate deleterious effects on people with those underlying conditions. And since that is more predominant in the African American population, we want to double down and say to the young people, to the elderly people in that community to please try as best as you can to protect yourself, if you’re a younger person, and to please protect the people who are susceptible. Your grandmother, your grandfather, your elder uncle, the people who have these underlying conditions, because we are not going to solve the issues of health disparities this month or next month. This is something we should commit ourselves for years to do. But what we can do now today is to prevent people who are put at higher risk, because of the demographic group, from getting into a situation which is much more deleterious than the general population.
Dr Fauci: (01:19:43)
So, I plead with all of us in the population, but particularly for those of us, our brothers and sisters in the African American community, because we know that mitigation does work. The reason we know it works is the question that was asked about the numbers, that why they came down with the projections, because remember what you do with data will always outstrip a model. You redo your models depending upon your data, and our data is telling us that mitigation is working. So again, as Dr. Birx said, keep your foot on the accelerator because that’s what’s going to get us through this.
Mike Pence: (01:20:21)
That’s great. Dr Redfield.
Dr Redfield: (01:20:27)
Thank you, Mr. vice president. I just wanted to follow up. One of the most important things we can do is keep our critical workforce working, and I think you heard it said that we have many different critical workforce industries in this country. Obviously, first responders, healthcare workers, but as you heard, it’s also individuals who help maintain our food supply, et cetera. And so, what CDC has done is that we’ve really looked at the essential workforce and how to maintain that workforce, particularly at this time as we begin to-
Dr Redfield: (01:21:03)
Workforce particularly at this time as we begin to get ready to reopen and have confidence in bringing our workforces back to work and so we’ve put out a new guidance for essential healthcare workers who’ve been exposed to the coronavirus. These are individuals that have been within six feet of a confirmed case or suspected a case and so that they can, under certain circumstances, they can go back to work. If they’re asymptomatic as the vice president said, they could go back to work if they do several things as we say here, take their temperature before they go to work, where a face mask at all times and practice social distancing when they’re at work.
Dr Redfield: (01:21:46)
What we’d ask them not to do when they’re at work is we want them to stay at home if they’re sick, we want them not to share objects that would be touching their face and we would like them not to congregate in break rooms, lunch rooms and crowded places and then the second slide, if we’re talking to the employers of these critical industries, we would ask those employers to take the employees temperature and assess their symptoms before starting them back to work. If the employee does become sick, we want them to be sent home immediately. We’d like them to increase air exchange in the buildings and increase the frequency of how they clean common surfaces and really began to get these workers back into the critical workforce so that we won’t have a worker shortage in these critical industries. So that’s the new guidelines the CDC will be posting today.
Mike Pence: (01:22:46)
Those will be available at cdc.gov and thank you Dr. Redfield and questions for anyone on the panel. Please.
Speaker 25: (01:22:54)
Just a couple of things to clarify. The 500 million masks the president mentioned that are being developed, are those for healthcare workers or are you planning to actually hand out masks to the American public?
Mike Pence: (01:23:07)
I think the focus has been to make sure that our healthcare workers in our healthcare system has the supply and with regard to what we’re gathering from literally around the world and for manufacturers in the United States is first being deployed to states and to hospital systems, but I must tell you that whether it be the Hanes company or other companies, we’re seeing manufacturers in America that are recognizing the growing demand for masks by the American people and are spinning out production literally by the hour, but our focus, our continuing focus is on making sure that healthcare workers have the personal protective equipment to do their job safely and provide the level of care every one of us would want.
Speaker 26: (01:24:00)
Thank you. Mr. Vice President. Kansas governor Laura Kelly says that she has put in seven requests to FEMA for supplies from the stockpile and those have not been fulfilled. So will Kansas be getting any of the ventilators because the request included ventilators and does she need to be calling the White House instead? Have you spoken with her directly?
Mike Pence: (01:24:20)
I’ve not spoken to the governor directly, but I’ll reach out this evening certainly. In our conference call with governors this week, we spoke to them about the approach that we are taking. Traditionally governors are accustomed to when a hurricane strikes the Gulf Coast, when wildfires strike out west, when flooding or tornadoes hit in places like Indiana, you’re accustomed to have a declaration of emergency approved and then resources flow from FEMA. In this situation as we deal with a nationwide declaration and an epidemic, what we’ve explained to governors is that what President Trump has directed is that we leave no stone unturned to find resources around the country and around the world including ventilators and we make sure as the coronavirus epidemic impacts individual areas, that the healthcare workers and the families and the patients impacted have what they need when they need it.
Mike Pence: (01:25:34)
What I would say to the people of Kansas is that we’re looking at their numbers every day, just as in the case of every state in the country and we’re going to work our hearts out to make sure that as the coronavirus cases emerge, and we hope that through the great work that Kansas has done on social distancing and mitigation, the people of Kansas have done a remarkable job, that we may well be to a place where their existing resources and capacities are present, but we want people to know that taking the counsel of Dr. Birx and our entire healthcare team, we’re focusing just as we did first in Seattle, California, and now in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Louisiana, the Detroit area, the Chicago area, we’re going to make sure that those resources go in that order.
Speaker 26: (01:26:28)
You brought up social distancing and the work that Kansas has done. there’s actually a controversy right now over her order to limit the number of people in religious gatherings to 10 people. Should states be telling religious institutions how many people can gather if it’s to stop the spread of the coronavirus?
Mike Pence: (01:26:45)
Well, the president’s coronavirus guidelines for America ask every American to avoid any gathering of more than 10 people and that’s on the advice of all of best scientific experts as a way that we can slow the spread, but as we’ve made clear to every governor, we defer to our governors and what they believe is the best and appropriate practice in their states and we’ll support those local decisions.
Speaker 27: (01:27:13)
Thank you. In his opening statement, the president said there were 10 drugs that are now in clinical trials would hydroxychloroquine be one of those.
Mike Pence: (01:27:22)
Well, I can speak to that just… Then I’ll invite Dr. Birx, Dr Fauci to come forward. We do have… I believe we will have roughly four separate clinical trials underway studying hydroxychloroquine, but it’s important to remember that, as the president’s made the point many times, the FDA has approved what’s called off label use and so in consulting with your physician, if your physician determines it’s appropriate to write a prescription for hydroxychloroquine, we’re working today to make that available across the country. It’s broadly available today as an anti malaria medication, but we’re working around the country and internationally to increase that supply, but we are studying it in at least four different clinical trials and Dr. Fauci can speak to that.
Dr. Fauci: (01:28:17)
The easiest… Thank you for that question. The easiest way to find out is to just go clinicaltrials.gov and it will tell you everything that’s there. There are a number of different clinical trials, some of which are randomized controlled trials, which as I’ve said many times from this podium, to me is the optimal way to determine ultimately if something is safe and effective and works, but there are a lot of different ways that it’s being looked at. It’s being looked at against the placebo. It’s being part of a multi arm trial comparing it with others. There’s a trial that was recently started actually in prophylaxis among healthcare workers, so there are several of these.
Dr. Fauci: (01:28:54)
In addition to that, there’s what was just mentioned now that any physician in consultation with their patient and back and forth can make the decision to use the drug on an off label. So we have two things that are simultaneously going on. We’re having actual formal clinical trials and the off label use.
Mike Pence: (01:29:16)
Speaker 28: (01:29:17)
I want to turn back to the disproportionate rates of black desks when it comes to the coronavirus. Dr. Fauci, You have been talking about this for weeks if there were underlying health issues… People with underlying health issues are most at risk, but if we knew that blacks disproportionately have fallen into that category, why wasn’t the CDC prepared to gather this data in real time to work to fight this?
Dr. Fauci: (01:29:39)
Well, I’m not sure, but we have the director of the CDC here that could answer that question, but let me try to just take it from a different perspective. The health disparities that exist are not anything that started with coronavirus. They were there, so there isn’t much you can do about the disparity. The thing you can do is to make an extra special effort to protect people who have the underlying conditions. So it’s the same way as we say, well the elderly and those with underlying condition. Unfortunately, the African American community has a much greater proportion population for population of these underlying conditions. The best weapon we have right now is what I said in my opening remarks is to do whatever we can to get them to realize that what we need to do is to protect them from getting infected and to also protect them from inadvertently and innocently bringing the infection to people who have these underlying conditions.
Speaker 29: (01:30:48)
Thank you, sir. Can you explain the thinking behind these 100 ventilators that were given to Colorado when other states like Kansas have had trouble getting ventilators and can you say whether a personal relationship with president is helping states like Colorado get these ventilators? I mean there are 15 States that have more cases than Colorado.
Mike Pence: (01:31:08)
What I can say is that we’ve been watching Denver very closely and like many of the other key areas that I touched on, we’re beginning to see some encouraging news, but in our interactions with the governor and with local officials and with the senator, we’ve made an effort not only in Colorado but around the country to be particularly responsive to states where we’ve seen a growth in cases, but I’m going to let Dr. Burk speak to that as well. There’s a literally beginning with New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Louisiana, the Detroit area in Michigan, Chicago area. There’s a series of other cities including Denver that we’ve been watching very carefully and while we’re beginning to see some encouraging news, we want healthcare workers in those communities to know for certain that we’re going to move resources into those areas where we see significant outbreak.
Speaker 29: (01:32:15)
Can you address whether individual governors’ with relationships with the president are getting preferential treatment.
Deborah Birx: (01:32:23)
I can tell you within that decision complex is not just the absolute number of cases, it’s the hospital capacity and what each of those hospitals have. So remember I think a couple of days ago we talked about how the states are sending the information about ICU beds, hospital beds, ventilator needs. So different States have different… Which I don’t think any of us probably knew before this, but there are some states that have lots of ventilators and there’s other states that proportion to their population, or by their cases of COVID, have less. I’m sure Denver and Colorado fit into that model where there were hospitals that had less than ventilators proportionally and were needed for the cases that were seeing. That’s the kind of analysis so every state that a few cases more than Colorado have all received ventilators except for I think Texas and that’s just because they are just starting.
Deborah Birx: (01:33:21)
Remember we started… Colorado was one early on the curve, so they have many more people have moved through that progress and are in need of ventilators. Texas is very early in their curve in both Dallas and Houston so that’s what I was talking about. Each of these are a micro curve that we have to follow independently or we would may be making general decisions rather than specific decisions by geography.
Speaker 32: (01:33:46)
Vice President followup on the churches question. You’re obviously very religious man. Will you be going to church on Sunday?
Mike Pence: (01:33:55)
We’ll be attending church right in the living room at the Vice President’s residence where we’ve been attending for the last several weeks. The advantage is we get to go to our home church in Indiana.
Speaker 32: (01:34:06)
Is that the same example you’d like to see churches around the country regardless of what governors are saying do as well?
Mike Pence: (01:34:14)
I think the President’s coronavirus guidelines for America are very clear that during this 30 days, we are calling on every American in every state first to listen to your state and local authorities, but right after that, to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people, avoid unnecessary travel, use drive through at restaurant instead of going into the restaurant, we are as these health experts have told you, seeing real evidence that we’re slowing the spread, that these mitigation efforts are having a strong impact and tonight as many people even at this hour on the east coast are beginning to sit down to a Seder dinner. It’s the beginning of Passover and with Easter celebrations this Sunday, we just want to encourage every American to heed the counsel of the guidelines, put those into effect and know that in so doing will hasten the day, will hasten the day that we put the coronavirus in the past and we reopened our country.
Speaker 33: (01:35:20)
Mr. Vice President, last question about Dr. Birx or Dr. Fauci. As you are both probably aware, there’s a lot of misinformation conspiracy theories out there about the coronavirus. There are some commentators who are suggesting that the number of dead are being inflated because they’re saying that people who are dying with other issues are being listed as COVID-19 deaths. Perhaps you’ve seen some of this commentary. You may be too busy to see it, but it is out there. What do you say to those folks who are making the claim without really any evidence that these deaths are being padded, that the number of COVID-19 deaths are being padded. For example, somebody might die from a number of factors, but had coronavirus are being listed as coronavirus deaths and because of that, the number is being inflated.
Mike Pence: (01:36:13)
That’s fair question. You might also speak about the converse.
Deborah Birx: (01:36:17)
Yeah, we’ve been hearing the converse to that. We’ve been hearing both sides of that. I think we’ve made it very clear, I think every time I’ve been up here about the comorbidities and so most of the people… We talked about the Italy data. The majority of the Italians who succumbed to this had three or more comorbidities. This has been known from the beginning so those individuals will have an underlying condition, but that underlying condition did not because their acute death when it’s related to a COVID infection. In fact, it’s the opposite. Having an underlying condition and getting this virus we know is particularly damaging to those individuals. We don’t know all the pathophysiology. I wish we did right now. We see a lot of vasculitis where Tony and I came from. Tony, actually… Dr Fauci started in the vasculitis in Wagner’s.
Deborah Birx: (01:37:21)
I mean these are things we have studied for a long time. We are trying to understand the pathophysiology, but what we can tell you at this moment, if you have asthma, if you have renal disease, if you have diabetes, if you have hypertension, these are preexisting conditions that puts you at a greater risk to having a worse outcome.
Dr. Fauci: (01:37:41)
Just add a comment to that because having been through other serious issues, particularly the very painful early years of HIV AIDS, when people talk about conspiracy theories. You will always have conspiracy theories when you have a very challenging public health crises. They are nothing but distractions. I can assure you, we have so much to do to protect the health and the welfare of the American people that I would just hope we just put those conspiracy stuff and let somebody write a book about it later on, but not now.
Speaker 34: (01:38:20)
Dr. Birx, you said something about not enough tests being performed because some of the labs, the machines aren’t running. Did you want to clarify that? What did you mean by 80% weren’t running?
Deborah Birx: (01:38:34)
I have a call with them at 8:00 PM tonight, every single one of those 120 laboratories, I think 87 of the laboratory directors have confirmed that call. It has to do with a machine called an Abbott M2000. It’s a very high [inaudible 01:38:49] machine. We have a million tests out there. I made a big push and Abbott was extraordinary about getting those out to the labs. I mean, this is not sitting in a warehouse. These are physically in these laboratories sitting there right now.
Speaker 35: (01:39:03)
The machines aren’t running.
Deborah Birx: (01:39:04)
They’re not running. So we’ve only run 88,000 tests in three weeks off of those machines with a million test kits. So as someone who has worked in a lot of laboratories, to have a machine that is needed because we could have screened every healthcare worker, these machines are every place in the country, so they could have screened in these last three weeks, 100% of the healthcare workers across the country that needed these tests to be done, and they’re of high throughput. So I have a call with them at 8:00 to really talk about-
Speaker 34: (01:39:40)
Can an order be given?
Deborah Birx: (01:39:42)
I asked the Vice President to give me a chance to talk to my colleagues first, but we have a call with the CEOs of those hospitals tomorrow.
Mike Pence: (01:39:54)
Thank you. That’s a really important question and it underscores the fact the Dr. Birx pointed out, that with this new tests, Abbott Laboratories, FEMA’s been busy distributing to states around the country. We purchased 1200 of these machines to be able to do these tests, but there’s 18,000 all across America. Let me just renew our call to all the hospital administrators and lab operators around America to go and identify those Abbott Laboratories machines and know that that’s… While we’ve already tested more than 1.9 million Americans, our short term objective is to test as many Americans as possible as we see the coronavirus epidemic emerge in areas around the country. We want to surge those resources. We want states that haven’t seen a significant outbreak to have access to that 15 minute test and ultimately as we go forward, once we…
Mike Pence: (01:41:03)
I think president Trump said today, nobody wants to open the country up more than him and I can attest to that, but we’re going to open it up when we can do so responsibly, putting the health of America first and to reopen America and to stay open America. We’re working around the clock to continually expand the kind of testing that will allow us to do what these experts call surveillance so that in every state in the country, once we put this chapter of coronavirus behind us, we hope and trust sooner rather than later, that when next fall comes that we will have a vast array so that CDC can do what it so well and that is when a particular disease emerges, CDC surges personnel, does contact tracing, isolates that individual. So we’re just really calling on all of our partners in the laboratories and in hospitals around the country to identify those Abbott Laboratory machines and help us continue to scale up and expand testing.
Mike Pence: (01:42:11)
Every American, let me again just say thank you. Thank you for what you’re doing. We are in the midst of a week of heartache and I want to assure every American who has suffered loss, that we’re with you. We’re praying for you and your families and we’ll continue to work our hearts out to make sure these incredible healthcare workers who are inspiring every single one of us all across the country every day, have the resources and the support and the equipment to do their job safely, to provide the level of care that any American family would want for their loved one, and to be able to go home safely to their families. The key to all of that, the key for the next 22 days is 30 days to slow the spread and I just encourage every American, if you haven’t done so recently, go to coronavirus.gov, print off your own copy, pick up the phone and call a friend and just tell them that you heard from the experts, you heard from the president and our team that we’re beginning to see glimmers of hope.
Mike Pence: (01:43:25)
Extraordinary progress in California, in Washington as a tribute to the people of those states and the leadership of those states, but the beginning of stabilization and perhaps even leveling in New York and New Jersey and Louisiana and Detroit is a testament to the people of those communities, to the leadership of those states, but understand that every one of us has a role to play to protect the most vulnerable among us and to save lives by putting the guidelines into practice, just like you’ve been doing every day since they were first announced. So thank you all and we’ll see you tomorrow.