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FDA To Conduct Clinical Trial of Anti-Malaria Drug to Fight COVID-19; President Donald Trump Speaks as United States Coronavirus Cases Top 10,000; President Donald Trump: Invoking Defense Production Act to Ramp Up Supplies; FDA to Fast-Track Antiviral Treatments for Coronavirus Patients. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired March 19, 2020 - 12:00   ET



MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And we will meet at the at FEMA and outline President Trump's decision to have FEMA to take the lead in our national coronavirus response. Our nation's response through FEMA will be locally executed, state managed and federally supported.

One testing, we want the American people to know once again that testing is available in all 50 states. It is becoming increasingly available literally every hour of the day. Because of the public private partnership that the President initiated several weeks ago, with major commercial labs I'm pleased to receive a report today that tens and thousands of tests are being performed every day.

And with the passage of last night's legislations state and private labs are now required by law to report all Coronavirus testing directly to the CDC which will give the American and also give our researchers timely and important information.

It is important for every American to remember, that if you don't have symptoms, you don't need to get a test. We want to make sure that testing is available for people that are experiencing symptoms or have a genuine concern about having been exposed to someone with the Coronavirus.

Dr. Birx will address county level data as well as the progress we've made on testing. And Americans can expect to see how an increase number of cases as our new testing system comes online should not be a cause of concern. She will explain the importance of taking into account, our new testing system as new data arrives over the next several days.

On supplies, the priority the President has given to our task force, we continue to work with healthcare providers businesses and state leadership to identify available supplies, not merely in the federal stockpile but much more importantly available across the private sector.

We are encouraged to see companies like Honeywell and 3-M that I visited a few short weeks ago take advantage of the changes in the law last night that allow the sale of industrial masks directly to hospitals.

Those companies have now greatly increase by the tens of millions their production of so-called N-95 masks that'll give our healthcare workers the protection that they need to administer to those that are dealing with the symptoms or the disease of Coronavirus.

I'm following the signing of last night's bill. All of those masks now have liability protection and the companies can sale industrial masks to hospitals. It is encouraging as we called out yesterday, to seek instruction companies all across America that as we speak checking their supplies and donating those industrial masks to their local hospitals.

And I know I speak on behalf of the president. We spent a lot of time as a builder we thank builders across America for partnering with our officials. On the subject of ventilators, we are working with healthcare providers around America and suppliers and we're encouraged to learn that we've literally identified tens of thousands ventilators that can be converted to treat patients.

We are remaining increasingly confident that we'll have the ventilators that we need as the Coronavirus makes its way across America. As we said before we are all in this together. And before I step away and give the podium back to the President and to Dr. Birx, I want to call every American's attention again to the President's 15- day to slow the spread.

We continue to hear one case after another, one city after another where people are putting into practice the principles that the President outlined this Monday. And make no mistake about it that while for the American people as a whole, the risk of serious illness remains low.

These guidelines should be practiced by every American and every community not only to lessen the spread of the Coronavirus but to protect the most vulnerable among us. And I think Americans with their - from their hearts are not only practicing these principals of social distancing and avoiding social gatherings of more than ten people using drive-through at restaurants to protect their own health and the health of their family.

But they're also recognizing that no American wants to inadvertently convey the Coronavirus to someone, for whom the consequences could be quite serious. At the President's direction we will continue to marshal all the resources of government at every level.

We'll be reiterating that strong partnership with America's states this afternoon with America's Governors pulling all of the private sectors energy together the innovation that you just heard described.

I know on this first day of spring that we'll get through this. We'll get through this together. Thank you, Mr. President.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you. Thank you very much. Dr. Birx. DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE RESPONSE COORDINATOR: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. President. So I know you are watching the data carefully. You can see the dramatic increases in the number of new cases based on our ability to test additional people. This will continue over the next two to three days as we begin to have backlogs reduced of the testing.


BIRX: You all have heard the antidote of people waiting five or six days for their test results. We are moving through all of that as well as testing individuals. I really want to applaud the front-line healthcare workers the nurses and the doctors and the testers that are really prioritized and the American people who have prioritized those with symptoms.

The number of those tests positives is increasing. That's a dramatically important signature that everybody is doing their job. Those with mild symptoms are staying home and self-isolating those with serious symptoms is coming forward to getting testing.

Our test positive rates are now into the 10 to 11 percent range that still means that 90 percent of the illness is out there even the severe ones are not COVID-19. I know many of you are looking at the state level data still over 50 percent of the cases come from three states. This is why we continue to prioritize testing in those states.

In addition, 50 percent of the cases come from ten counties. We are a very large country with very many counties. And I just want to applaud the local and state government that are implementing their emergency operation centers and plans to ensure.

I want to also really thank the healthcare workers that have been asked to reduce all elective surgeries, medical and dental visits this will dramatically increase the number of ventilators that are available in hospitals but also in ambulatory surgical centers that can be converted and utilized and also though to the construction industry.

We are deeply grateful the number as Vice President said. The number of individuals that have come forward with their construction masks, their booties, their tie vaccine arm suites and their masks to contribute them to the healthcare sector.

The President's request to make this available in that legislation changes the ability and increases our availability immediately by 75 to 90 percent range because of the amount of construction use of those elements. Thank you.

TRUMP: Thank you Doctor very much. Jerome?

DR. JEROME ADAMS, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: Thank you Mr. President and Mr. Vice President. Today you heard a wonderful announcement from the FDA and I just want to give a shout out to Steve, Dr. Hahn and the folks at the FDA where about - where several hundreds of my commission core officers work. You're right Mr. President they are tireless they are doing things that have never been done before to bring the most prudent advances to the American people. But I want to talk about something different briefly.

We know many of you are home practicing the President's guidelines for social distancing. But one thing we should all consider especially our millennials and Gen-Z is donating blood. As an anesthesiologist who is still practice at the Walter Reed taking care of our wounded worriers and our soldiers. I know donating blood is an essential blood of caring for patients. And one donation can save up to three lives. Blood centers are opening now and in need of your donation.

I want America to know that blood donation is safe and blood centers are taking extra precautions at this time based on new CDC recommendations including spacing beds 60 feet apart disinfecting surfaces between patients temperature checking staffs and encouraging donors to make appointments ahead of time so we can space them out.

Social distancing does not have to mean social disengagement. So give blood today. You will feel good about it and you will be helping your country and your community during this crisis. And you might even save a life.

TRUMP: Thank you Surgeon. Yes, please go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, shooting to the efforts to boosting the economy with the measures for Congress, will you guarantee the money that the tens of billions of dollars, hundreds of billions of dollars that's going to go to these industries will not go to executive bonuses or more stock buy backs?

TRUMP: Well, we don't to add and in fact some companies as you know did stock buy backs and I was never happy with that. It's very hard to tell them not to but I would tell them not to. I would say I don't like it for that reason. Some did and turned that they could have waited a long time, they would have been much better off if they did not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The condition of the bill, you could say none of this money could go in--

TRUMP: I'm making - have been - you know it takes many, many people in this case to tangle. But as far as I am concerned conditions like that would be okay with me. John.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President one question for you and then a question for Dr. Hahn. Do you enable I guess this is probably the best way to put it the Defense Production Act yesterday, but you have not pulled the trigger on it?

TRUMP: No, because we hope we are not going to need that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're getting a lot of calls on Capitol Hill from the Democratic leadership to pull the trigger on it. What's the rational for not doing this?


TRUMP: First of all Governors are doing a lot of this work and they are doing a lot of this work. Federal government is not supposed to be out there buying vast amounts of items, and then shipping you know we're not a shipping clerk.

The Governors are supposed to be doing it. As with testing the Governors are supposed to be doing it. We'll help out and we'll help out whatever we can. And we can buy in volume and in some cases great volume with the masks as an example which were really a problem.

We have helped out and there are right now millions of masks being made. But this is really for the local government, Governors and people within the state depending on the way they divide it up. They'll do that and they're doing a good job of it.

Where you have problem with the ventilator is we're working very hard trying to find it, nobody in their wildest dreams would have ever thought that we would need tens of thousands of ventilators. This is something that's very unique to this to what happened.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Under what conditions would you put the Defense Production Act into action?

TRUMP: Well, we were desperately in need of something. We frankly will know about that very shortly. We want to be ahead of it. We don't want to do it as it happens but before it happens. We're going to know a lot over the next two or three days. We'll know a lot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dr. Hahn any idea when - will be available to the market? And are there any drugs in the pipeline that you believe could qualify for a treatment?

DR. STEPHEN HAHN, FDA COMMISSIONER: So with respect to the first question, among prohibited by law to disclose confidential commercial information. What I can tell you is that we are working very closely with the company on this and we'll have additional information they will relatively soon.

Yes, there are drugs in the pipeline, we are looking at everyone. Everyone on this dais gets calls every day as to all of our people at the FDA about potential therapeutic options. We're looking at every single one of them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, two questions for you. One on Coronavirus which is really quickly are you converting the --?

TRUMP: No, I'm not but we're trying to find that out. This has been going on for years. Many years we've been trying to find --. He was in Syria as you know. His mother is an incredible woman and I am doing it for him but I am doing it for his mother. His mother is an incredible who's desperate to find her son. And I'm not confirming a lot but if he's alive, we would like very much to get him back quickly. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Okay, and on Coronavirus, speaking of shortages of supplies, the CDC has put out guidelines for hospitals that are dealing with a shortage of masks to use them beyond their shelf life re-use them instead of getting new ones and in a worst case scenario, use a bandanna instead of a mask. How is that acceptable at all?

TRUMP: Well, I have not seen that. But I will let Mike answer that question, Vice President.

PENCE: I'm happy to Mr. President. I can't emphasize enough the incredible progress that was made with the passage of the legislation last night. President had me go to Minnesota and meet with 3-M that manufacture these N-95 masks a few weeks ago.

And we learned of their production at that facility of 35 million masks a month less than five million of those were qualified to be sold to hospitals. The President working with Republicans and Democrat leadership and we've extended the liability protection.

So now that all the industrial masks that are manufactured as N-95s are now available to hospitals. And we're seeing a dramatic increase in production. Honeywell alone is repurposing a factory that was testing for Mexico to produce another 120 million masks per year. 3-M is increasing output to 420 million masks per year.

We really, we put a priority at the President's direction on making sure those that are providing healthcare services to America have the protection to keep themselves and their family safe and with the legislation last night with the incredible response among these great private sector companies and as we mention repeatedly, with construction company around America heeding the President's call to donate their industrial masks to the hospital is happening all over America. We know we'll meet that need.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But when will the legislation ready? Isn't that kind of - something?

TRUMP: How many masks are being made and when will they be ready or at least we start getting them ready.

PENCE: Well, as I mentioned 3-M is increasing their output 420 million a year at production in January. They make 35 million per month at that facility. We are prioritizing the distribution of those.

But the other thing and will emphasize this with Governors this afternoon is we are working with Governors to make sure that the healthcare providers the hospitals and the clinics in their states are placing in orders now that this tremendous increase in supply particularly with industrial masks is now available.

We're going to make sure they understand that the supplies have greatly expanded. Thanks to the bipartisan legislation and the accomplishment that the President.

[12:15:00] PENCE: And the response by these companies is making more masks available. We are going to make sure healthcare providers are purchasing those. And the federal government will also make sure that our stockpiles properly reflect those increases as well.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: --the President's question, when will those masks be ready because they even reflect today?

PENCE: They are available now. The 3-M facility that I was at told me that in January they went to full production on 35 million masks. The legislative change means that all 35 million of those that started to be produced at full capacity in January can now be sold in the hospital. That's the distinction here.

It is very important change and it is part of the way the President has been engaging in private sectors pushing the kind of regulatory reform and the kind of liability reform that has greatly expanded at the availability of masks.

So they're in the marketplace now and we're going to make it clear to Governors and as we make it clear to healthcare providers and conference calls yesterday that those resources are now there. We vastly increased the supply of medical masks and we'll continue to put a priority on making sure that we are calling on industry at every level, calling on major suppliers that the President met with this week to make sure that those personal protective equipment are there.

TRUMP: Some of that had to deal with these liabilities in the company. They had a big problem with liability and much of it had to do with the liability to the company.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President thank you too for you and one for Dr. Hahn. The American Hospital Association just told NBC News that they need $100 billion in order to address shortages in equipment and other infrastructures that you just signed two legislative packages. They say it did not directly give money to address this issue. Why not and will you commit to making sure they give the money --?

TRUMP: We are looking at that issue directly with them and that's a separate issue but we're looking at that issue very directly. We are looking at it directly. Well, we're going to do our best. We are working with Democrats and Republicans. We are looking at that very specifically.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bottom line people, when can Americans expect their lives to go back to normal, will that not happen until those vaccines?

TRUMP: I hope very soon. We'll see this is unchartered territory as you know. We think we have ideas that does it help to say what the ideas. I would hope very soon. We pull together as a nation.

People are off for the most part doing what they are supposed to be doing. The social distancing is very interesting the whole new term has become a hot, become somewhat of a hot term but people are listening and they're really doing a great job. This country is an amazing country. I think we are up to 141 different countries right now.

So it is very unchartered territory could have been stopped, could have been stopped pretty easily if we had known and if everybody had known about it a number of months before people started reading about it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, you said you did not--

TRUMP: Excuse me. Before we started reading about it. It could have been stopped in its tracks. Unfortunately, they did not decide to make it public but the whole world is suffering because of it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You did say a few days ago though you did have a sense that this was pandemic that was coming. So why was the United States not prepared with more testing?

TRUMP: We were very prepared. The only thing we weren't prepared for was the media. The media has not treated it fairly. I'll tell you how prepared I was, I called for a ban for people coming in from China long before anybody thought it was in fact, it was your network they I believe they called me a racist because I did that.

It was many of the people in the room they called me racist and other words because I did that because I went so early. So when you said we were not prepared, had I left these tens of thousands of people come into China a day, we would have something right now that you would have been - you wouldn't have even recognized it compares to where we are.

How many people have passed away and how many people have died as of this moment? You could multiple that by a factor of many, many. So when you say that I was not prepared, I was the first to do the ban now other countries are following what I did. But the media did not acknowledge it. They know it is true but they don't want to write about it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One for the network professionals. I want to ask a follow up on John and Kaitlan's question. So it is not just masks, doctors are saying now that they are desperate for other personal protective gears, gloves other equipment. Governors are saying they don't have access to respirators and they're terrified. What is your - to that --?

TRUMP: Governors are supposed to get it and the states are supposed to get it. We are helping the states. Well, for years they bought them and now all of a sudden, they coming to the federal government. We are working with the states, we are working with Governors, we're working with everybody. Their relationships are great.

TRUMP: One other thing that happened this morning, I spoke with Micky Arison of Carnival Cruise Lines and he is going to make ships available.


TRUMP: So in addition to the big medical ships that you have coming if we should need ships, a lot of rooms, they'll be docked at New York and Los Angeles and San Francisco different places. So I want to thank Micky Arison that's Carnival Cruise Lines.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But Mr. President what is the - about invoking the Defense Production Act?

TRUMP: I have done it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But you said that you don't?

TRUMP: I have done it yes. If we find that we need something, we'll do it. You don't know what we have done. You don't know whether or not we've ordered. You don't know if we have invoked it. You don't know what's been ordered? What's not been ordered?


TRUMP: I can only tell you that as an example masks, nobody ever heard of the number of masks that's being ordered. They are being made now and many are available now. People I think in the media probably don't know that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you explain the gap in for the American people on what you're saying here today about there are being tens and thousands of test available, about how they're being a huge amount of masks available and what we are seeing on the ground which is really the opposite of that.

People are saying that they can't get tested even when they have symptoms. People are saying that they - doctors are telling us they don't have access to vital equipments. Can you explain that gap?

TRUMP: Well, I can't explain the gap. I am hearing very good things on the ground. We're dealing with - well they had to ramp up. They had an absolute system and they had a system simultaneously that was not meant for this. It wasn't meant for this nobody knew there would be a pandemic or an epidemic of this portion. Nobody has ever seen anything like this before.

I can tell you that what we are doing is we are working with local government and states' Governors even Mayors on getting them to be able to get what they need. And the system is starting to work out very well.

But we had a break system like breaking an egg because the system we had was obsolete and did not work. That was the system we inherited. Now we have something that's really been very good and certainly going to be great for the future, too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, there seems to be backlash building among congressional Republicans and then your supporters about a corporate bail out. In particular Senator Mike Brown says that this could hawk him back to 2008 where we were taking winners and losers, and he indicated to some of his colleagues may not be comfortable with that. What are you saying to that? TRUMP: Well, we don't want to pick winners and losers. We want everybody to benefit and we want I think more than anything else the workers to benefit. And sometimes for the workers to benefit you have to go through the company because they have thousands of workers and if the company goes out of business, no fault of their own.

Those workers are not going to be able to receive a cheque. So look our ultimate goal are the people, our ultimate goal are the great people of this country. And we'll have things worked out. I think it is going to be very well. It is a complex formula. You understand that it is a very complex nut it is working out.

I think it is going to be very well. I think we're going to have pretty uniformed support for it please.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, we are hearing that State Department is going to put out an advisory tell the Americans not to travel overseas at all. Are you putting an overseas travel ban?

TRUMP: We're speaking with the State Department later. I can't say right now because I have not had the meeting yet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump I wanted to ask Dr. Hahn about today's announcement if I could. Dr. Hahn thank you so much. I wanted to ask about Remdesivir. I hope I pronounced it correctly. Can you just say is it currently approved for use on the virus?

HAHN: So Remdesivir and it is a drug made by Gilead that's been in the press. It is currently in clinical trials here and around the world. We have also made it available by that approach that I told you called compassionate use where a doctor could ask the FDA for that. And really positive thing about that and that gives it rapidly to a doctor and a patient but it allows us to collect the data.

What we really need to do is understand what the data and science are in order to make the appropriate decisions about safety and effectiveness.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So how do you just make sure that it is safe and - is there any concerns at all that it will be safe concerning that it is not going to go through the normal process and could potentially cause negative effect. Dr. Fauci earlier talked about we do not want to put out anything that can cause negative effect is there any concerns about those kinds of things with this drug?

HAHN: Thank you for that question, because I just want to be clear about this. Remdesivir is going through the normal process. We're using our internal processes at FDA to setup with the company the protocols to actually collect the data.

And you're right. We need to actually know about the safety and the effectiveness and that's done through the clinical trial process. So to those data that are going to inform the decisions that are ultimately made about safety and efficacy. This is an unprecedented situation. This is really significant time and one thing that with the President's leadership FDA has done is okay, how do we approach these extraordinary times with extraordinary measures knowing that we have a sacred trust with the American people about safety and efficacy?


HAHN: But still at the same time enable these treatments to get into patients and that's what we're doing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, Mr. President, one for you and one for the doctor. How likely is it that the 15-day guidance that you have put through will be extended?

TRUMP: I can only tell you before Tuesday and we'll have to see. We'll have indications later on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dr. Birx indicated that there are three states and ten counties if I got that right where 50 percent of the cases are focused? Should those areas be doing more measures such as shelter in place?

TRUMP: I think they are doing a lot. I know New York is working very diligently and been very strong. I assume San Francisco is one of the areas and Los Angeles and State of Washington obviously. That's one that's up there. They were working very hard to quarantine forward, just about the equivalent of quarantine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Plans there for government workers, moving for the government as well to start doing more Tele-working?

TRUMP: We are and we are using the medical term of Tele-Medicine and it's been incredibly busy. And really you know where people don't have to - I mean, some people can't do it anyway they can't get up, they can't see a doctor. But we are using this, and it has been Telehealth different names.

And I'll tell you that it has been really successful. It has helped a lot of people out where they have to and they can't and even from the safety reason if they are positive, if they're feeling poorly, they can't do it or we don't want them transmitting anything to anybody else.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, if I could on China, they recorded for the first time since the outbreak, no new cases over 24 hours period. Do you have any reason to disbelief them and second to that, the National Security Council yesterday put out a tweet very critical, the Chinese government, saying the Chinese Communist Party suppressed initial reports and the Chinese virus and punish doctors and journalists causing Chinese and international experts to miss critical opportunities to prevent a global pandemic. Could you explain it?

TRUMP: Well, it would be much better if we had known about this a number of months earlier it could have been contained in one area of China where it started. And certainly, the world is paying a big price for what they did and the world is paying a very big price for not letting them come out, everybody knows that.

We all know that. As far as believing what they are putting out now. I hope it is true. Who knows? I hope it is true. I really think.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, quickly a question for you and also to the doctor if possible. You have been talking about China quite a bit and you have been talking about the Chinese virus and how you have heard about this on day one and had more information, possibly you could have stopped it.

TRUMP: Big difference.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you thinking about any types of repercussions for China and are you also rethinking sort of a supply lines for our manufacturing industries?

TRUMP: I don't want to comment on that right now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have a question for you and also a question Dr. Birx. American workers across the country are losing their jobs at unprecedented rate. And your former economist said we could see some of the worse job numbers ever, is the government prepared to see this fight on unemployment?

TRUMP: You know worst case scenario, you would have terrible jobs number. If we can get this thing wrapped up and finish earlier and things will go very nicely and one of the things that we are working as you know, one of the elements that is being worked on very much so in the Hill is to keep the jobs going.

So that when we do get rid of the virus, we're going to be able to this really I think go like a rocket. I think the economy is going to be fantastic. Now when he said that he was using that as the ultimately bad outcome I don't think anybody believes that's going to happen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Members of Congress are now being tested positive for Coronavirus, and you have two almost dozen were self-quarantining. Do you have any guidance for Congress? Should they --?

TRUMP: I know all of them. I don't know if they're sitting like you people are sitting. You're actually sitting too close. We should probably get rid of about another 75 or 80 percent of you. I will have just two or three that I like in this room. I think that's a great way of doing it.

We just begin a new of doing it. But you're actually much too close. You too you should leave immediately. But look, I know all of them. They tested positive. Hopefully they're all going to get better. It is one of those things, its Congress. You know it is one of those things.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So do you think, you going to the Hill or should they keep ongoing to the Hill?

TRUMP: Well, I don't think they're going to the Hill. I mean, I know some - where they tested positive.