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U.S. & Mexico to Limit Non-Essential Travel Across Border; Trump: Not Currently Considering a Nationwide Lockdown; Trump Puts Defense Production Act Into Effect; Pompeo: All Non-Essential International Travel Should Be Avoided. Aired 1-1:30p ET
Aired March 20, 2020 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
QUESTION: How would that process work?
CHAD WOLF, ACTING HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Again, it's a -- it's a public health crisis, so what we're trying to do is limit the -- the amount of contact that we have with these individuals, not putting them in Border Patrol facilities, ICE detention facilities and the like.
So it's going to be very rapid. We're going to, obviously, take them into custody and then -- and then send them back to a port of entry or other means. So it'll be very quickly. It won't be the six or seven or 10 days that we currently have. It'll be much more rapid.
QUESTION: But it they are OTM, will you -- will they be taken to an -- an airfield nearby or--
WOLF: That's correct. That's correct.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Anybody?
QUESTION: Mr. President, the check to Americans, the deal that's proposed creates sort of tiers of checks for incomes.
TRUMP: Well, it will be--
QUESTION: Do you believe philosophically that makes sense?
TRUMP: Well, we're working on (inaudible) I believe a lot of things. I want to get workers money, and whichever way, the best way to get it -- and I want to keep the businesses open, too, because without the businesses, they're not going to be getting money for very long.
TRUMP: But we're going to be -- we're going to be talking--
QUESTION: Is there money enough -- as it's written, is there enough, or do you want to see (inaudible)?
TRUMP: If there's not, we'll do something later, I'm sure. I'm sure (inaudible).
QUESTION: Wall Street analysts are predicting unemployment numbers could skyrocket next week by, some analysts say, as many as three million people applying for unemployment, which would be a historic number in a one-week spread. So is a $1,000 check going to cut it? Is that going to be enough?
TRUMP: We're not talking about a $1,000 check. We're talking about much more than that. We're also talking about doing phases. If this doesn't work, we're going to keep doing until we get it going, and frankly, once we get the economy back and once this enemy is defeated, the invisible enemy, as I call it, once it's defeated, we get the economy back, it's going to all come back to us very quickly. It comes back very quick. We have a tremendous economy.
We do numbers like no other country has ever done before -- number one in the world, if you go back two weeks -- and still, obviously. But if you go back two weeks, number one in the world by far. That money comes back to us very rapidly.
We want to keep it -- we have it so that when we -- not if, but when we win the war with the invisible enemy, when we win it, these companies can immediately start, not that they have to start rebuilding, which takes a long time.
TRUMP: Steve? First. First. I'm -- I'm confident. I have confidence.
QUESTION: What projections for job losses in March and April are you hearing?
TRUMP: Well, we're looking at different numbers. We have a best case and a not-best case, but the big thing is to defeat the virus. Once that virus is defeated, Steve (ph), I think everything else falls in place very rapidly. I think you're going to have a tremendous upswing. A lot of people agree with me.
A lot of -- if you look at your stock market geniuses -- and some of whom are not geniuses, but they think they are -- a lot of people think that I'm right about that, that once we defeat the -- the virus, I think you're going to have a very steep -- like a rocket ship, it's going to go up, and everything will be back. And I really believe we're going to be stronger than ever before.
Yeah, go ahead.
QUESTION: On the issue of supplies, you've told governors to try to find whatever supplies they can on their own.
TRUMP: Right, absolutely.
QUESTION: But some of them are now saying when they go to try to buy them, they're being out-bid by the federal government.
TRUMP: Well, you heard my news conference yesterday.
QUESTION: So what do you expect those governors to do?
TRUMP: (inaudible) sort of yesterday's news. No, that does happen because they want to buy supplies. We want to buy, as a back-up to them, in case they get -- and sometimes that will happen.
But regardless of who gets them, when they need them, we're getting them to them. Now, we're doing the Production Act. We're doing it very much, and we have a lot of things cooking right now at a high level.
Remember this: Nothing like this has ever happened before. Over 140 countries, and you have supply chains that are broken down for two reasons: because they can't supply that much, and because people are sick, and they can't be on the chain. So you have a lot of interesting things all over the world. You have supply chains that broke down because of the illness, and also because of the fact -- the quantity.
But we're getting it ordered. We're getting it done, and the -- the -- and you just have to -- look, some of you were at the call yesterday where I spoke with the governors, almost all of the governors, and every one of them was very impressed with what we've done.
TRUMP: Go ahead, in the middle first.
QUESTION: There are now reports that the Labor Department has told states not to disclose their unemployment numbers. Do you agree with that decision?
TRUMP: I'd have to talk to him. I would have to talk to him.
QUESTION: Just one more clarifying question, if I could, on the DPSs (ph). I just want to be clear. Are you saying that the administration is requiring these industries to -- to create these products, or just asking?
TRUMP: You know, so far we haven't had to. It's an amazing thing that happened. We're getting calls from automobile companies. We're getting calls from other companies saying they have plant capacity. They want to make ventilators. They want to make other things.
We are literally being besieged in a beautiful way by companies that want to do the work. They want to do the job. They want to help us. They want to help our country. So we haven't had a problem with that at all.
QUESTION: Mr. President, how -- how do you help out states and localities that are trying to bid on things like ventilators and other items that are being outbid by the--
TRUMP: Well, when they call us, they let us know. If there's a conflict, they will call us and we will drop our bid because we want them to go first, because they're point at that (ph) point of sale.
So we've had four or five instances where literally that was happening because, you know, we're both trying to get stock.
And if we're going against, they will call us -- the smart ones, frankly, will call us and we will immediately -- we want them to buy it because it gets to them quicker if they buy it.
QUESTION: Do they know that there are (ph)--
TRUMP: We're really there (ph) -- they know that. And it's happening more and more, where they're calling and they're saying we're bidding against each other. If they want to get it, they'll get it much quicker that way.
TRUMP: Go ahead, please.
QUESTION: Mr. President, a -- a question for Secretary Azar. There are labs across the country that don't have the testing supplies they need. What specific actions is the administration--
TRUMP: Well, it's going very well. I can tell you that--
QUESTION: -- what specific actions--
TRUMP: -- we inherited an obsolete deal and we've made a good thing out of it. I haven't heard that question in a while, but go ahead.
ALEX AZAR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: Yes, so first -- and we're making tremendous progress in terms of lab testing. Tens of thousands of tests are being done every single day both through the CDC and the public health labs, as well as now through the private sector commercial labs. They're getting to scale, they have supplies, they have high throughput.
We do hear anecdotally, occasionally of, say, a public health lab or another one that has a concern about this supply or that supply. Through FEMA we actually are standing up a laboratory task force to answer those questions.
Usually, it's that the lab people do not understand that there are actually alternative supplies in the marketplace that they are perfectly free to use. We've actually had to put out some common myths and truths about that.
For instance, the other day we were getting calls from governors saying we don't have swabs -- there are no swabs, there are no swabs. Our supply people went in the open marketplace and bought 200,000 swabs in the open market.
And I just sent a letter to every governor sending them swabs. So some of it's just -- they aren't listening or checking with us about all the freedom, all the capacities out there.
It's a complex system, with 330 million Americans and all these labs. So sometimes there's a lab that doesn't understand how much flexibility they have and how much supply there is out there. And we're working through the new FEMA Integration Center to help correct that for folks.
QUESTION: Secretary Azar--
TRUMP: Mike, do you want to say about the--
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Be happy to.
TRUMP: -- tests and how well that's working.
PENCE: Well, as I said, more and more tests are being performed every day. And as we learn about the results that are being reported around the country of coronavirus tests, our experts continue to look at the numbers and see that some 90 percent of Americans that are tested do not test positive for the coronavirus.
And so it can give you a sense of the magnitude of testing that's going on. We have the number of cases that we've reported today, but it's in some cases near to 10 times that that have been tested.
But let me also emphasize how important it was in answering these questions, for governors and local officials, that the president stood up FEMA and the National Response Center where we briefed governors yesterday.
Now, every governor and their State Department -- state health departments have the ability to reach out with -- to our regional FEMA administrators. And that's how, as the president said, we're sorting out those potential conflicts between very significant federal purchases and procurements and -- and as hospitals and state governments are purchasing as well.
I think the new streamlined system -- operating now in all 50 states in our territories, of governors and states going through their regional administrator for FEMA -- is going to make it more possible for us to ensure that our hospitals, our health care providers have access to what's available on the open market and elsewhere.
QUESTION: Mr. Vice President, you're the head of the Task Force. You've seen the numbers. You've spoken to average Americans. You're a former governor. What do you say to Americans right now who are watching and who are scared?
PENCE: I would say do not be afraid, be vigilant. All the experts tell us that the risk of serious illness to the average American for the coronavirus is low. But we need every American to put into practice the president's coronavirus guidelines, 15 days to slow the spread.
Because the coronavirus is about three times more contagious to the flu, according to our best estimate. And you can contract the coronavirus, have very mild symptoms if any, not even be aware that you have it and expose someone who is vulnerable to a very serious health outcome.
That's the reason why we're encouraging people to avoid groups of more than 10, to not eat in restaurants but to use drive-throughs, to wash their hands on a regular basis, and particularly, we're going to continue, as the president has directed us, to focus on the most vulnerable population, which are seniors with serious, underlying health conditions or anyone with an underlying immunodeficiency.
It's those people we need to care for but it's going to take all of us working together to make sure they're safe.
QUESTION: -- because you just said that you haven't had to require companies to up their production of medical supplies but you said last night you invoked the DPA --
TRUMP: -- when we need something -- cause of the act, when we need something, we order something, and as you know two days ago, I invoked the act, which was a big step. I'm not sure that it had been done before, certainly not very much, and when we need something, we will use the act.
What has happened is before we even go out, many, many companies, great companies, companies in a totally different business are willing to do things and make things, cause that's what they do, they make product -- they're willing to make product for us -- medical product that we need very badly for the states, that the states can't get, they haven't been able to get.
And you know, most of the states -- and no way did they do anything wrong -- they were stocked up, they were all equipped. Unfortunately, they've never had a thing like this, so they need help from the federal government.
TRUMP: Go ahead.
QUESTION: This is important. You haven't actually directed any companies to start making more ventilators or masks, right?
TRUMP: I have -- I have -- yes, I have.
QUESTION: How many companies?
TRUMP: A lot and they're making a lot of ventilators and they're making a lot of masks. Go ahead, please -- go ahead.
QUESTION: Mr. President, partially following up on that, are -- are there automakers right now who are retooling their production facilities to make ventilators or make masks --
TRUMP: I can't say they are but they will be very shortly because we're working with one in particular that wants to make ventilators. They called us yesterday and they're already -- we're working on a -- a transaction. They're going to make ventilators.
They say they've done it before, which surprised me, but they can do it very easily.
QUESTION: -- partially for Secretary Azar. You said yesterday that you had spoken to Carnival Corporations Chairman -- yes, and he said that he could donate some ships --
TRUMP: I spoke with Micky Arison, who's the -- the President, Chairman, CEO and owner -- yeah, he's --
TRUMP: -- he said to me that he was willing to, if we need ships -- if we need ships for helping people, that Carnival would be absolutely willing to help us in Los Angeles, in New York, wherever they may be -- in Miami, where they're very big. If we needed something, they would be willing to.
So far, we haven't needed to and we're bringing the big hospital ships up. In California, we haven't. We're working with the Governor of California, with Gavin, as you know, and we haven't made a determination. We're also talking -- the folks would like it in Seattle.
So we're -- we're discussing where it can be most useful. We've spoken with Governor Cuomo and we're bringing the big hospital ship up in two weeks and we're going to have it in New York harbor -- some place in New York harbor.
QUESTION: OK, so -- so -- so my question is one, it sounds like you haven't taken them up on it yet, but --
TRUMP: -- I said if we need it, I'll let you know.
QUESTION: OK and --
TRUMP: That's called taking them up.
QUESTION: -- and secondly --
TRUMP: Right now, we don't need it.
QUESTION: -- cruise ships have a lot of frequently contacted surfaces and so this is where you come in, Secretary Azar, potentially Dr. Fauci. Do you have concerns about those -- the cruise ships being used as hospitals?
TRUMP: Well I can tell you they're very clean and also those surfaces -- the -- the germ, as you know, the virus disappears over a period of time and these ships are very clean -- they've been kept very clean. They've been gone over but the virus, as you know, if it's on a surface for a certain -- they have -- actually charts -- different kinds of surfaces, it disappears over a period of time.
QUESTION: Why not just use hotels?
TRUMP: I -- I mean, I -- is -- what are you trying to get at? Go ahead.
QUESTION: Well that -- that's what I'm asking. Why not just use hotels?
TRUMP: It disappears -- the -- the virus disappears when it's on surface after a certain number of -- of days or in some cases hours, depending on the surface it's in.
QUESTION: Thank you. A quick follow up, so can you say -- can you name any of the companies that you've asked to start making these ventilators or face masks?
TRUMP: I will be but first I want to get the approval from the company because I don't want to be doing that. I assume they'd like it but I'll let you know.
QUESTION: OK, well thank you. And this is for Dr. Fauci --
TRUMP: And one company that has openly stated it is General Motors.
QUESTION: So that's one of the -- did you -- did the government ask General Motors to --
TRUMP: -- I didn't speak to them about announcing it but I'll announce it. I'm sure they wouldn't be -- but we have others also.
QUESTION: OK, thank you. And so for Dr. Fauci, there's new research out from -- that the CDC has released that many of the people that have -- or that 13 percent of the people with the coronavirus got it from someone that was asymptomatic.
So my question is does that change the way -- the approach that should be taken and do you think that's the case or, I mean, do you think that -- or do you not agree with that research?
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: No, the -- the recommendations that are here applies to whether you're in physical contact with someone who could be infected with symptoms versus asymptomatic. I don't really think it changes anything.
Certainly, there is some degree of asymptomatic transmissibility. It's still not quite clear exactly what that is. But when people focus on that, I think they take their eye off the real ball, which is the things you do will mitigate against getting infected no matter whether you're near someone who is asymptomatic or not. It's the same thing: Physical separation and the care that's outlined here is going to take care of both of those things.
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President.
I have a question about testing. When will every American who needs a test, get a test -- and -- be able to get a test? And why not have medical equipment being shipped right now to hospitals who need it--
TRUMP: We're hearing very positive things about testing. And just so you understand, we don't want every American to go out and get a test.
QUESTION: -- people who need a test?
TRUMP: 350 million people, we don't want that.
We want people that are -- that have a problem, that have a problem with -- they're sneezing, they're sniffling, they don't feel good, they have a temperature, there are lot of different things, you know them -- you know them better than I do.
So ready? We don't need that. But what we are having is we're having these private labs have come in. They've been really fantastic.
And we also have a great system for the future, because, as I said, we inherited -- we, meaning this administration -- an obsolete broken system that wasn't meant for anything like this. Now, we have a system that you can see -- because, look, we're well into this and nobody's even talking about it--
QUESTION: There are -- there are--
TRUMP: -- except for you, which doesn't surprise me.
QUESTION: -- Americans, though, who say that they have symptoms--
TRUMP: Which doesn't surprise me.
QUESTION: -- and they can't get tested.
TRUMP: Yeah, well, OK.
QUESTION: What do you say to the Americans who are scared that they have something (ph) and can't get tested?
TRUMP: I'm not -- I'm not hearing it. But we don't want everybody to go out and get a test because there's no reason for it.
QUESTION: (inaudible) Americans who have symptoms and can't get a test?
TRUMP: We'll do one more after this.
QUESTION: So I wanted to ask Dr. Fauci, because Kevin Hassett is one of the people who is now suggesting that the real way to get to the end of this, for life to return to normal, is for every single person living in this country to be tested. That way you could see who was contagious, and you could then have people who don't have it go back to work.
Is there any possibility that this country could ever get to a point where every single person could be tested? And how long would that take?
FAUCI: Thank you for the question. I've heard that before.
I don't see -- I don't connect the dots there. I don't see how testing everybody in the country is going to help you to implement this. This should be implemented universally, at least at this level, for everyone.
The things we spoke about a while ago, that you want to really ratchet it up like Governor Newsom is doing in California, like Governor Cuomo's doing in New York, are how you put an end to this outbreak.
Testing is important. It would be nice to know and there are certain things you could do. But let's not conflate testing with the action that we have to take. Whether or not you test, do this.
I'm not -- I'm not putting down -- testing is an important issue, but people seem to link them so much that if you don't have universal testing, you can't respond to the outbreak. You really can.
TRUMP: What I do think -- and that's after listening to Tony and everybody else that's an expert, I do think it's important that not everybody be tested. If you feel great and if you have no symptoms whatsoever, it's -- it's a -- it's just not a good thing to be doing.
TRUMP: All right, Steve (ph)? Please.
QUESTION: A question for Dr. Fauci. Yesterday, you mentioned the possibility of aerosol transmission of the virus. How likely is that to happen?
FAUCI: That -- oh, the possibility of aerosol transmission always come up when you have situations like that. It comes up with influenza. It came up with SARS, in which there was a documented -- you know, one- off episode of some aerosol transmission. Aerosol means that it can stay in the air for a period of time because it's in a droplet that's very small and doesn't go down.
Is it possible and -- that there is aerosol transmission? Well, yeah, it certainly is.
But clearly what we have seen in the situations where people have gotten infected from the areas that we have experience -- China, South Korea, now Europe -- most of it is in a situation where people are close enough to each other that a symptomatic person will have a real droplet transmission.
So I'm not ruling out the possibility that it's aerosol. But again, it's not going to substantially change doing this.
QUESTION: Dr. Fauci, quick follow-up--
QUESTION: Let me just ask this in a very simple way. What is the demand pressure on testing in this country? And are we meeting it?
FAUCI: I get the same calls that many of you get, that someone goes into a place who has a symptom and wants to get a test, and for one reason or other -- multiple logistic, technical, what have you -- they can't get it. That is a reality that is happening now.
[13:20:00] Is it the same as it was a few weeks ago? Absolutely not. Because, as the secretary and others have said, right now that we have the private sector involved, the availability -- not only just availability, but the implementation of the availability is getting better and better and better.
Having said that, I -- I understand and empathize with the people who rightfully are saying I'm trying to get a test and I can't.
QUESTION: So -- so is that a way of saying we are not yet at a point where we are meeting the demand pressure?
FAUCI: Well, the -- the answer is yes, John. We are not there yet, because otherwise people would be never calling up saying they can't get a test.
QUESTION: Mr. President--
TRUMP: Do you want to finish that, Mike? Go ahead. Then I'll do my (ph)--
PENCE: Well, I just can't emphasize enough about the incredible progress that we have made on testing. All of you are reporting, and -- and media outlets around the country are as well, that -- that many, many more tests are being performed every day, literally by the tens of thousands.
And this has only been made possible because, several weeks ago, the president brought in the commercial labs -- these enormous companies, Qwest and LabCorp, working with companies like Roche and Abbott Laboratories and Thermo Fisher -- and said we have this existing system of state laboratories and the CDC processing tests for certain infections. But given the magnitude of this outbreak, the president apprehended early on that it wouldn't be enough to meet the need.
And I just want every American to know that literally hour by hour, in partnership with these extraordinary commercial labs, we are making more and more tests available every day, we'll detail this (ph) -- the way that we're working with states to distribute those tests.
We've obviously focused on states that have been dealing with -- with the most serious outbreaks of coronavirus, Washington state, California, New York and others. We've been making sure the tests are in those areas, working closely with those governors.
But I think the American people should be encouraged at the progress that we are making. Tomorrow, we'll take some time to detail that progress for you.
But I would say to any American who might be concerned that they have symptoms, as the president said so well, we -- we don't want every healthy American to get a test. But if people feel that they have symptoms that they identify with the coronavirus, call your doctor. Their doctor can call their state health authorities that can work very closely with our entire team through HHS and FEMA, and work to identify the (ph) more and more tests that are available every day.
QUESTION: Mr. Vice President--
TRUMP: Just -- just so you know -- just for the -- for the hundredth time, I, this administration, inherited an obsolete, broken, old system that wasn't meant for this.
We discarded that system, and we now have a new system that can do millions of people, as you need them. But we had to get rid of a broken, old system that didn't work. It worked only on a very limited basis. And we're very proud of what we've done. It's incredible, what we've done.
And this system will now serve for the future, for future problems. Hopefully, you don't have a problem like this, but something will come up. We have now a great system and it's almost fully in gear. But it's able to test millions of people.
But we inherited a broken, old -- frankly, a terrible system. We fixed it. And we've done a great job, and we haven't been given the credit that we deserve, that I can tell you.
But the one that really deserves the credit are the American people because they are doing things that nobody thought they would do. What they're doing is incredible and we're making a lot of progress.
And we'll see you folks tomorrow. Thank you very much.
JOHN KING, CNN HOST: President Trump leaving the White House's briefing room after remarkable headline-filled contentious 90-minute plus White House briefing. The president leading his coronavirus test, of course, a number of big important headlines, also a number of clashes. The president, at one point lapsing into just a reprehensible attack on an NBC News reporter who asked a perfectly fair question. The president attacking him for quote, unquote, fake news. Back to that a minute.
At the end there, one of several public disagreements, the president giving an optimistic take, whether it's on the question of testing for coronavirus, whether it's on the availability of therapeutic drugs for coronavirus, the president giving an optimistic take only to be contradicted by the public health experts standing right around him.
Among the other big headlines, the president applauding both the governor of New York and the governor of California for essentially issuing stay-at-home orders for the citizens of their states. As he applauded them though, the president said he sees no circumstance under which at least at this moment there would be a national such lockdown or stay-at-home order.
New developments, the president is announcing there is an agreement now with the United States and Mexico, much like the United States and Canada to essentially shutdown. Now, both the northern and southern borders of the United States to only essential trade and people with the proper documentation will be allowed across either the Canadian or the Mexican border, even someone showing up to apply for asylum will be turned away. More details on that coming up.
The president also saying he's very optimistic after a conversation with Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, that more than $1 trillion economic stimulus package being negotiated in the United States Senate should be settled soon. He hopes those negotiations will point forward. And assisting the Democrats in their cases, they ask for changes, the president said he agrees.
The corporate CEOs who get bailout money should not be able to use that money for so-called stock buyback. It should go to the workers, the president says, to build the business, the president says, not to buy stock back and enrich the companies, if you will.
I want to get to one of the biggest disagreements, the president on stage, as he did yesterday, and this was the source of the fake news fight. We'll come back to that in a minute. The president on the stage, as he did yesterday, very hopeful about a drug that's used for malaria being brought into the market to help people with the coronavirus. But here is the president's take fallout here by his top infectious disease doctor, Anthony Fauci.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Is there any evidence that suggest that as with malaria, it might be used as a prophylaxis against COVID-19.
FAUCI: The answer is no. And the evidence that you're talking about, John, is anecdotal evidence.
The information that you're referring to specifically is anecdotal. It was not done in a controlled clinical trial. So you really can't make any definitive statement.
TRUMP: We all understand what the doctor said is 100 percent correct, it's early. But I have seen things that are impressive. We will see. We're going to know soon.
KING: I want to start our conversation, a number of great experts standing by with our Chief Medical Correspondent, Sanjay Gupta.
Sanjay, the president went on to say, I am more of a fan of that than Dr. Fauci. He says maybe there is, maybe there isn't. Let's give it a try, what have you got to lose. That was one of several, essentially, Tony Fauci was trying to be polite, trying to be deferential to the president. But, essentially, if you listen to him closely, saying I very much disagree, this is not immediate, this is not a game changer, this is not tomorrow, if it works, if it works, it is months away. DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Never seen anything like it, John. I mean, it was incredible to see this back and forth. First, you know, the president said this drug was approved for coronavirus yesterday. It is not. He said that there is a lot of evidence to show how promising it is. There is a one 20-person study out of France that Dr. Tony Fauci described as anecdotal. The president said he feels good about it, and Dr. Fauci said, you know, we have to do the studies, which is exactly what the FDA commissioner said yesterday as well.
It just was a remarkable sort of back and forth between someone who is using their gut instincts, not scientifically-based, not evidence- based against, you know venerable scientist who kept sort of on the fly, it seems, trying to fact-check the president. I just had never seen anything like it. And I think Tony Fauci probably has one of the hardest jobs in America right now.
KING: And, Sanjay, stay with us. I want to bring in the conversation as well Dr. Asaf Bitton. He runs a lab. He's also a primary care physician, runs a lab dealing with this issue up in the Boston area. Doctor, at the end of the briefing, the president said he's hearing very positive things about testing, then Dr. Fauci came forward and said, yes, he is getting calls from some places around the country where someone who has symptoms, someone who should get a test, not someone who's just scared and wants a test, and he's calls saying it's not available.
As Dr. Fauci walked away, the president of the United States essentially waived the vice president back up to the podium to give a more optimistic take on testing. What's the truth?
DR. ASAF BITTON, PRIMARY CARE PHYSICIAN: Is that the testing capacities still aren't not where they need to be. I personally, for my patients, have had real trouble getting testing ordered even for patients with known exposure to people who've had COVID-19 documented in a previous test. So it's clear that testing capacity is ramped up, but we're not where we need to be yet.
KING: Right. And all of this, please stay with us, as well, Doctor, as we continue this discussion, all of this is a question of a presidential leadership and the need for the American people to get facts, at a time of a pandemic crisis and considerable fear.
That brings me back to our conversation I wish I didn't have to have here. But Peter Alexander of NBC News was asking a very legitimate question about the issue. I just talked to Sanjay about. The president's very optimistic talk yesterday and again today, that there would be therapeutic drugs available to patients immediately, game changing.
Now, that's what the president said. Of course, his own Chief Infectious Disease, Dr. Tony Fauci, disagrees with him. The president, instead of answering that question, and then Peter Alexander said, talk to the American people out there who are at home who are frightened, give advice and add comfort, the president did this.