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Trump Speaks as Coronavirus Cases Spread in U.S.; Trump Announces Emergency Action to Combat Coronavirus; Trump Declares National Emergency to Combat Coronavirus. Aired 3:30-4p ET.

Aired March 13, 2020 - 15:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A beautiful day in the Rose Garden. Appreciate it everybody being here. Today I'd like to provide an update to the American people on several decisive new actions we're taking in our very vigilant effort to combat and ultimately defeat the coronavirus.

[15:30:11]

The -- we've been working very hard on this, we've made tremendous progress.

When you compare what we've done to other areas of the world, it's -- it's pretty incredible. A lot of that had to do with the early designation and the closing of the borders. And as you know, Europe was just designated as the hot spot right now and we closed that border a while ago, so that was luckier -- through talent or through luck, call it whatever you want.

But through a very collective action and shared sacrifice, national determination, we will overcome the threat of the virus. I also announced Wednesday night, following the advice of our medical professionals who are doing a tremendous job and we appreciate it very much, that we're suspending the entry of foreign nationals who have been to Europe in the last 14 days from entering the United States.

Citizens, primary residents and our families -- any of the families returning from Europe will be subject to extra screening, as well as self-isolation for a period of 14 days. As the World Health Organization confirmed today, many of the things that -- what we said were 100 percent correct, including our designation before them of Europe. Like our earlier very aggressive actions with China, this measure will save countless lives.

I appreciate a number of the folks behind me. A lot -- number of the people behind me said that that saved a lot of lives, that early designation, but it is only the beginning of what we're really doing and now we're in a different phase.

We had some very old and obsolete rules that we had to live with. It worked under certain circumstances but not under mass circumstances. They were there for a long time, they were in place for a long time and we're breaking them down now, and they're very usable for certain instances but not for this.

To unleash the full power of the federal government through this effort today, I am officially declaring a national emergency -- two very big words. The action I am taking will open up access to up to $50 billion of very importantly -- very important and a large amount of money for states and territories and localities in our shared fight against this disease.

In furtherance of the order, I'm urging every state to set up emergency operation centers effective immediately. You're going to be hearing from some of the largest companies and greatest retailers and medical companies in the world. They're standing right behind me and aside of me.

I'm also asking every hospital in this country to activate its emergency preparedness plan so that they can meet the needs of Americans everywhere. The hospitals are very engaged. New York and various other places are also various (ph) engaged.

I just spoke with Governor Cuomo, we had a very good conversation, and we're working very strongly with many states, including New York. The emergency orders I am issuing today will also confer broad new authority to the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

The Secretary of HHS will be able to immediately waive provisions of applicable laws and regulations to give doctors, hospital -- all hospitals and healthcare providers maximum flexibility to respond to the virus and care for patients.

This includes the following critical authorities -- the ability to waive laws to enable telehealth, a fairly new and incredible thing that's happened -- and if -- in the not so distant past. I tell you, what they've done with telehealth is incredible.

It gives remote doctors visits and hospital check-ins the power to waive certain federal license requirements so that doctors from other states can provide services in states with the greatest need.

Number two, the ability to waive requirements, that critical access hospitals limit the number of beds to 25, and the length of stay to 96 hours. The ability to waive requirements of a three day hospital stay prior to admission to a nursing home -- big thing - the authority to waive rules to hinder hospitals ability to bring additional physicians onboard or obtain needed office space.

[15:35:02]

They can do as they want. They can do what they have to do. They know what they have to do. Now they don't have any problem getting it done.

The authority to waive rules that severely restrict where hospitals can care for patients within the hospital itself, ensuring that the emergency capacity can be quickly establish. We'll remove or eliminate any obstacle necessary to deliver our people the care that they need and that they're entitled to. No resource will be spared, nothing whatsoever. 10 days ago I brought together CEOs of commercial labs at the White House and directed them to immediately begin working on a solution to dramatically increase the availability of tests. Other countries have called us and worked with us, and they're doing similar things or will be doing a similar things.

As a result of that action today, we're announcing a new partnership with private sector to vastly increase and accelerate our capacity to test for the coronavirus. We want to make sure that those who need a test can get a test very safely, quickly, and conveniently, but we don't want people to take a test if we feel that they shouldn't be doing it, and we don't want everyone running out and taking it. Only if you have certain symptoms.

Using federal emergency authorities, the FDA approved a new test for the virus. We did this within hours of receiving the application from Roche, a process that normally would take weeks. We therefore expect up to a half a million additional tests will be available early next week. We'll be announcing locations probably on Sunday night.

I want to thank Roche, great company, for their incredible work. I'd also like to thank Thermo Fisher. The FDA's goal is to hopefully authorize the air (ph) application within 24 hours. It'll go very quickly. It's going very quickly, which will bring additionally 1.4 million tests on board next week and 5 million within a month. I doubt we'll need anywhere near that.

At the same time, we've been in discussions with pharmacies and retailers to make drive-thru tests available in the critical locations identified by public health professionals. The goal is for individuals to be able to drive up and be swabbed without having to leave your car.

I want to thank Google. Google is helping to develop a website. It's going to be very quickly done unlike websites of the past to determine whether a test is warranted at to facilitate testing at a nearby convenient location.

We have many, many locations behind this by the way. We cover the -- this country in large part. So the world by the way, we're not going to be talking about the world right now, but we cover very, very strongly our country, stores in virtually every location.

Google has 1,700 engineers working on this right now. They've made tremendous progress. Our overriding goal is to stop the spread of the virus and to help all Americans who have been impacted by this. Again, we don't want everybody taking this test. It's totally unnecessary. And this will pass. This will pass through and we're going to be even stronger for it.

We've learned a lot. A tremendous amount has been learned. I want to Deborah Birx, and I want to ask her maybe to come up and say a few words as to what's happening.

Dr. Birx is a highly-respected person I've gotten to know very well over the last six days, and what we've done is rebuilt something that was very old, very old fashioned, somewhat obsolete, certainly obsolete when it comes to the kind of numbers we're talking about. Dr. Birx, please. Thank you.

DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: Thank you, Mr. President. It's a pleasure to be here with all of you. I think you know at the beginning of this epidemic, HSS though CDC proactively developed an assay built on the existing flu surveillance system.

That surveillance system was then converted to diagnostic system, but last Tuesday seeing the spread of the virus around the globe, the president realized that our current approach to testing was inadequate to meet the needs of the American public.

He asked for an entire overhaul of the testing approach. He immediately called the private sector laboratories to the White House as noted and charged them with developing a high-throughput quality platform that could meet the needs of the American public.

[15:40:03]

We are grateful to LabCorp and Quest for taking up the charge immediately after the meeting, and within 72 hours bringing additional testing access -- particularly to the outbreak areas of Washington state and California, and now across the country.

We are also very grateful to the universities and large hospital systems that took up the charge to develop their own quality tests made available by new FDA guidance. This has resulted in expanded testing across New York, California, Washington, Colorado -- and you see sometimes those drive-thru options that have been made available through these high though-put options.

Following the meeting last week major commercial laboratory equipment and diagnostic companies took immediate action to adopt and develop new testing systems. Last night the initial company Roche received FDA approval, moving from request to development, to approval in record time.

This innovative approach centered fully on unleashing the power of the private sector, focusing on providing convenient testing to hundreds of thousands of Americans within short turn-around times.

In less than two weeks together we have developed a solution that we believe will meet the future testing needs of Americans. I understand how difficult this has been, I was part of the HIV/AIDS response in the '80s.

We knew from first finding cases in 1981, it took us until almost 1985 to have a test -- it took us another 11 years to have effective therapy. It is because of the lessons learned from that that we were able to mobilize and bring those individuals that were key to the HIV response to this response.

I understand that a lot of this behind the scenes action over the last couple of weeks was invisible to the press and the American people, but this intense effort has not only resulted in innovative solutions, but in automated high through-put system bringing the availability of these quality, coronaviral testing to the American people at unprecedented speed.

Finally I want you to know in South Korea they did have large number of tests available over the last several weeks. Their positivity rate is between 3 and 4 percent, with LabCorp and Quest expanded testing, their positive rate is between 1 and 2 percent. So we want to also announce this new approach to testing which will start in the screening website up here, facilitated by Google where clients, and patients, and people of interest can go -- fill out a screening questionnaire, move down for symptoms or risk factors -- yes. They would move down this and be told where the drive-thru options would be for them to receive this test.

The labs will then move to the high through-put automated machines to be able to provide results in 24 to 36 hours. That is the intent of this approach, we have seen it work just in our own United States and we want to bring this across the continent. Thank you very much.

TRUMP: Thank you very much, Deborah, great.

I'd like to maybe have Tony, do you want to come up -- you've become a -- I think everybody out here knows you pretty well, but Tony's been doing a tremendous job working long, long hours and you've seen a lot happen, but this has been -- it's been a great experience and working with you has been terrific. Tony, please.

ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASE: Thank you very much, Mr. President. This is an example of -- another example of what I've been referring to in my discussions with many of you in the audience as a proactive, leaning forward, aggressive, trying to stay ahead of the curve.

And what you're seeing now with this order is that we're going to be able to remove the constraints so that people at the state, the local level -- the individual physician, all the way up through the federal government will have as many constraints as possible removed for them to do everything they possibly can so that we can implement the things that we've been talking about -- the containment, the mitigation so that as I've said many times that curve that I refer to that goes up -- we don't want to have that curve, we want to suppress it down to that small mound.

And I think what we've done today is something that is going to be a very important element in having us be successful in doing that. We still have a long way to go, there will be many more cases but we'll take care of that. And ultimately as the president said, this will end, but what's going on here today is going to help it to end sooner than it would have.

Thank you.

TRUMP: Thank you very much, Tony.

[15:45:00] If I could, some of these folks, we know. They're celebrities in their own right, they're the biggest businesspeople, the greatest retailers anywhere in the world. And one of them is Doug McMillon from Walmart.

And I'd like to have Doug, if you would, say a few words, wherever you may be. Good, Doug. Please.

DOUG MCMILLON, CEO, WALMART: When we got the call yesterday from the White House, we were eager to do our part to help serve the country. And given what we're facing, that's certainly important to do. We should all be doing that.

So we've been asked to make portions of our parking lot available in select locations in the beginning, and scaling over time as supply increases, so that people can experience the drive-through experience that the president described. We'll stay involved and do everything we can from a supply chain point of view to be of assistance.

Thank you, sir.

TRUMP: Thank you very much. I appreciate it very much.

I'll just stay right here. And Richard, if you could come up please, Richard, please? Walgreens, thank you.

RICHARD ASHWORTH, PRESIDENT, WALGREENS: Yes. Thank you, Mr. President.

And similar to -- to Doug and Walmart, we're happy to stand in here and help in communities all across America. Because a lot of times, when we have natural disasters, our stores are a beacon in the community.

And this situation is no different. So we look forward to partnering with the CDC, the administration, HHS and the task force, and specifically to the vice president's doing such a fantastic job. We're ready to engage and help. Thank you.

TRUMP: Thank you very much. Great job. Thank you very much.

Brian Cornell, Target? Thank you, Brian. Thank you. Please.

BRIAN CORNELL, CEO, TARGET: Well, Mr. President, thank you for inviting us here today. Along with our colleagues from Walmart, Walgreens and our partners at CVS, normally, you'd view us as competitors.

But today, we're focused on a common competitor, and that's defeating the spread of the coronavirus. And we look forward to working with the administration to do our fair share to alleviate this growing threat. So thank you for including us today.

In the near term, we're all committed to making sure we're keeping our stores open to serve the American consumer who is rapidly stocking up on household essentials, key food and beverage items that they need during this time, making sure we run safe stores and create an environment that's safe for our team members, making sure that they feel supported during this very critical time.

So thank you for including us.

TRUMP: Thank you very much. Great job, great job.

Is Tom here, Tom Polen? Tom? Tom, please.

TOM POLEN, CEO, BECTON, DICKINSON: Thank you, Mr. President.

As CEO of Becton, Dickinson, we're one of the leading providers of medical devices as well as collection products, for testing of coronavirus. We're ramping up our manufacturing capacity to ensure that the right collection devices and testing equipment are ready to address this issue.

Thank you, Mr. President.

TRUMP: Thank you very much, Tom. Great job you've done.

Stephen Rusckowski, Quest Diagnostics. Please, great job. Thank you very much.

STEPHEN RUSCKOWSKI, CHAIRMAN, PRESIDENT, CEO, QUEST DIAGNOSTICS INC.: Thank you very much, thank you, Mr. President.

So as mentioned, we were called by the leadership of the vice president last week, to come together as an industry. And we took advantage of that opportunity to work with the FDA, to work with the Center for Disease Control. And we were up and running with a test in a number of our facilities.

As the president mentioned, we now have capabilities from Roche Diagnostics that we will bring into our facilities this weekend. And I know myself and also my colleague at LabCorp will be doing the same. So the capacity available to the American public to support this action with consumers will be considerably increased in the next few weeks.

Thank you, Mr. President.

TRUMP: Thank you very much. I appreciate it, thanks.

And Matt Sause, please, of Roche? Matt, thank you, Matt.

MATT SAUSE, PRESIDENT, CEO, ROCHE DIAGNOSTICS: Thank you, Mr. President. So from Roche, we want to thank the FDA for their rapid approval of our coronavirus test.

We really appreciate the partnership with the CDC and the FDA to get that to market as fast as possible because it's critical for us to make that available to help patients in need, and working with laboratories to get it up and going in the near future, which will bring hundreds of thousands of tests available to patients in need in the United States. So thank you.

TRUMP: And you can do it, you can do it. SAUSE: Thank you.

TRUMP: Great company.

David Pierre of Signify? Signify Health, please. Thanks, David.

DAVID PIERRE, COO, SIGNIFY HEALTH: Great. Thank you, Mr. President.

We are the largest house call provider in the U.S. and we go to the homes of the most vulnerable, elderly. And through our network and our logistics engine, we stand ready to help and provide our clinicians to be where they're needed, whether they're in retail clinics or in the home. And we're here to assist. Thank you very much.

TRUMP: Thank you very much.

And we'll be changing a lot of the rules, regulations for future, should this happen in the future, which we hope it never does, but it will, I guess, somewhere out there. There's some bad ones over the years. And I guess that'll continue to an extent, but we hope it never happens. But we are going to be changing a lot of the old rules and specifications and regulations.

[15:50:04]

Adam Schechter, who's really been of tremendous help -- LabCorp, please, Adam?

ADAM SCHECHTER, DIRECTOR, PRESIDENT, CEO, LABCORP: Thank you, Mr. President.

At LabCorp, we're working every second of every day to increase the number of tests that we can run. We're working with academic medical centers, with our colleagues at Quest, with other hospital and other laboratories to ensure that we do everything we can to increase the testing as we move forward.

And I can tell you, we understand how important the testing is and we are committed to doing everything possible.

TRUMP: Thank you very much. Great job, thank you.

Thomas Moriarty, CVS. We all know CVS. Thank you.

THOMAS MORIARTY, EVP, CHIEF POLICY AND EXTERNALL AFFAIRS OFFICER, GENERAL COUNSEL, CVS HEALTH: Thank you, sir.

TRUMP: Thank you, Thomas.

MORIARTY: Thank you, Mr. President.

We have been focused since the start of making sure our patients and the customers we serve have the information we need, the safety we need as well. We are committed to working with the administration and local public health officials to make this work as well.

And thank you, sir, for the honor.

TRUMP: Thank you very much.

MORIARTY: Thank you.

TRUMP: Thanks, good job.

And Bruce Greenstein, LHC Group. Tremendously talented people, thank you very much.

BRUCE GREENSTEIN, EVP, CHIEF STRATEGY & INNOVATION OFFICER, LHC GROUP INC.: Mr. President, thank you for the honor of being here.

And the home health industry has been treating patients and seniors in the safety and comfort of their own home for decades. We are very proud to be part of the equation for testing in their own home.

For Americans that can't get to a test site or live in rural areas far away from a retail establishment, we're here to help and to partner with our hospitals and physicians as well as the people we have here today that will be doing testing around the country. Thank you.

TRUMP: Thank you very much, fantastic.

GREENSTEIN: (OFF-MIKE) Oh? We'll practice that.

TRUMP: OK. I like that. That's good.

I'm also announcing the following emergency executive actions today. To help our students and their families, I've waived interest on all student loans held by federal government agencies and that will be until further notice. That's a big thing for a lot of students that are left in the middle right now; a lot of those schools have been closed.

Based on the price of oil, I've also instructed the secretary of Energy to purchase -- at a very good price -- large quantities of crude oil for storage in the U.S. Strategic Reserve. We're going to fill it right up to the top -- saving the American taxpayer billions and billions of dollars, helping our oil industry and making us even further toward that wonderful goal which we've achieved, which nobody thought was possible, of energy independence.

It puts us in a position that's very strong and we're buying it at the right price. And that's something that would have not even been possible a week ago. The price of oil went down quite a bit, so we're going to fill it up. This is a good time to fill it up.

I'd like to ask Mike Pence to say a few words, please. V.P.?

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you, Mr. President. It is -- this day should be an inspiration to every American because thanks to your leadership from early on, not only are we bringing a whole-of-government approach to confronting the coronavirus, we're bringing and all-of-America approach. Mr. President, from early on, you took decisive action. You suspended all travel from China. You created travel advisories, South Korea and Italy. We screened all travelers from all airports in both of those countries.

And on the unanimous recommendation of your health experts, you -- at midnight tonight -- will effectively suspend all travel from Europe. And Americans that are returning will be screened and asked to voluntarily participate in a 14-day quarantine.

Throughout this process, Mr. President, you've put the health of America first. But you brought the best of America to address it, and it's not just at the federal level.

As you said, Mr. President, we've been working with states across the country. We issued broad guidelines from CDC for every American. But this week, at your direction, we tailored specific recommendations from CDC for New York, Washington state, California, Massachusetts and Florida.

And we've been in continuous contact, as you said, with governors around the country. And Mr. President, you have forged a seamless partnership with every state and every territory in this country to put the health of our nation first.

But today, I -- I trust that people around the country that are looking on at this extraordinary public and private partnership to address the issue of testing with particular inspiration.

After you tapped me to lead the White House Corona Task Force, Mr. President, you said, This is all hands on deck. And you directed us to immediately reach out to the American business sector, commercial labs to meet what we knew then would be the need for testing across the spectrum.

[15:55:00]

And today, with this historic public-private partnership, we have laid the foundation to meet that need. For Americans looking on, by this Sunday evening, we'll be able to give specific guidance on a -- on when the website will be available, you can go to the website.

As the President said, you'll type in your symptoms and be given direction whether or not a test is indicated. And then at the same website, you'll be directed to one of these incredible companies that have -- are going to give a little bit of their parking lot so that people can come by, do a drive-by test.

And Mr. President, I want to join you in thanking Wal-Mart and CVS and Target and Walgreen (sic). These are companies that are synonymous with communities large and small, where people come together and now they're going to come together to meet the needs of the American public.

These commercial laboratories, LabCorp and Quest and Roche have just done an incredible job stepping forward and they're going to literally make -- literally make hundreds of thousands of tests available and being processed with results to patients in the very near future, but it's all the result of you tasking us with bringing together not just government resources, which all state labs can now test across the country -- CDC is testing -- but you said, Mr. President, that we wanted to bring all of the resources of the country together and that's what this partnership really means.

You know, the truth is that we have coronavirus cases now in 46 American states and while the risk of serious illness of the coronavirus remains low, we want to encourage every American to practice common sense, practice good hygiene, go to the CDC's website to see what the guidance is for your community or for the American people broadly.

And as the President has said, it's especially important now that we look after senior citizens with chronic underlying health conditions. Last week, the President directed the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services to raise the standards at our nursing homes, increase inspections at our nursing homes, and today we're offering very specific guidance, which Seema Verma will articulate about visitations at nursing homes.

It's important to remember that they were there for us when we were growing up, Mr. President. They helped us with our homework, they tucked us in at night, they cheered us on as we pursued educations, cheered us on in our careers and now it's time for us to be there for them and to recognize that seniors with chronic health conditions are the most vulnerable and Americans make a difference.

So wash your hands, use common sense, look after the most vulnerable, and Mr. President, I know I join you in saying that every American should be proud of this incredible public-private partnership that's going to be speeding access of testing to millions of Americans in the weeks ahead.

And together, as you've said many times -- together, we'll get through this, together, we'll put the health of America first.

TRUMP: Thank you (inaudible). Seema? Where's Seema? I'd like you to maybe take that a step further, please, on nursing homes. Thanks.

SEEMA VERMA, ADMINISTRATOR, CENTERS FOR MEDICARE & MEDICAID SERVICES: Thank you. Well thank you to the President for the declaration. It allows my agency, CMS, that runs Medicare and Medicaid and has oversight of all of the nation's healthcare facilities to suspend regulations that could get in the way of treating patients during this time.

These temporary national blanket waivers are reserved for the rarest of circumstances and they represent a massive mobilization of our country's resources to combat this terrible virus and the flexibilities we are offering will be a godsend to the providers, clinicians and facilities on the front lines of this fight.

And later, CMS is going to be issuing guidance directing nursing homes to temporarily restrict all visitors and non-essential personnel with a few exceptions such as end of life situations. We fully appreciate that this measure represents a severe trial for residents of nursing homes and those who love them but we are doing what we must to protect our vulnerable elderly. Thank you.

TRUMP: Thank you very much, Seema. And I said it in my address to the nation the other night, all Americans have a role to play in defeating this virus. Our most effective weapon right now is to limit the damage to our people and our country and slow the spread of the virus itself.

The choice we make, the precautions we put into place are critical to overcoming the virus, reducing its spread and shortening the duration of the pandemic, which is what it is.

The CDC has published guidelines on the coronavirus.gov to enable its -- coronavirus.gov and it's very, very heavily used right now, I will say, to enable every American to respond to this epidemic and to protect themselves, their families, and their communities.

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