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THE SITUATION ROOM
White House Holds Coronavirus Task Force Briefing. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired March 27, 2020 - 18:00 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: And I would like to maybe ask, before I continue, Peter, to say a few words.
Please, Peter? Thank you very much.
PETER NAVARRO, DIRECTOR, WHITE HOUSE OFFICE OF TRADE AND MANUFACTURING POLICY: Thank you, Mr. President.
And of course, you know the Harvard joke. You can tell a Harvard man, you just can't tell him much, right?
TRUMP: You can't tell him.
NAVARRO: So anyway, on a serious note, let me just give you a little idea of the Defense Production Act and why it is so important. We are engaged in the most significant industrial mobilization since World War II. We have a wartime president, fighting an invisible enemy and we have the full force of government, coupled with the full power of private enterprise, bearing down on this problem for the American people, sir.
What we had to do today, with President Trump's order with respect to General Motors, I want to give you a little background on that. We need industrial mobilization to make adequate ventilators, particularly in the very short run to help the people of New York, Detroit, New Orleans, Chicago, Denver, Seattle, all around this country, as this virus bears down.
And the ventilators, really, are the most important thing for patients who become most seriously ill. They're literally the lifeline for people. And I have personally been working with FEMA and I have been working with HHS and over 10 ventilator companies, making sure we can get what we need as quickly as possible.
And virtually every one of those companies have been cooperative, patriotic, moving in Trump time -- which is to say as soon as possible, sir -- but we did have a problem with GM and Ventec. On the one hand, we had Ford and G.E. moving forward on a similar kind of project, patriotically moving as fast as possible. Over the last several days, we ran into roadblocks with GM.
We cannot afford to lose a single day, particularly over the next 30 to 60 days. So President Trump invoked the Defense Production Act as a way of enhancing and accelerating this mobilization. I salute him for doing so. It's going to make my job so much easier. For the most part, we've had tremendous cooperation from the private sector. Today, sir, was the right day to do it. Thank you, sir.
TRUMP: Thank you very much. Thank you, Peter, and good luck.
My administration is marshaling the full power of the American government, and we will do that and that's what we've done. And we will continue to do it until our war is won. Economic, scientific, medical military, and homeland security, all of this to vanquish the virus.
We are working to sign contracts immediately with the major ventilator companies in the country including G.E., Philips, Medtronic, Hamilton, ZOLL, ResMed, Hill-Rom and Vyaire.
These are all companies that do this, great companies. The FDA will be reducing and waiving unnecessary regulations in order to get this done. We're going to be getting rid of certain -- let's say barriers to speed. We want them to get it done quickly, they've been doing it for a long time, they've been making ventilators for a long time. Hopefully General Motors will join in the fray.
Under the normal condition that you would be, regular times, 29,000 ventilators are distributed in the United States each year. In the next 100 days -- well, first of all, we've already delivered thousands of them -- but within the next hundred days, we will either make or get in some form over 100,000 additional units.
And I guess to put in other words, in the next 100 days, we'll receive over three times the number of ventilators made during a regular year in the United States, and that doesn't include all of the thousands and thousands that we've -- we've given to the various states, a lot of them.
We delivered thousands, as you know, to New York, and they didn't know they got them. And then we also had thousands put in a warehouse, and that was also for New York. And they just found out that they were there, so we have to make sure that when we deliver things, they get distributed.
Earlier today, I spoke to the CEO of Boeing, David Calhoun. And Boeing will be producing and donating face shields to help our medical professionals on the front lines. These are actually pretty intricate in terms of the plastic and the quality of the materials, they're important. They've got to be top of the line, and they're going to do thousands of these a week. They've already tested the production, and they're ready to begin producing all of these shields. That's the plastic shields that go over the face.
Boeing is also offering us the use of their -- what they call the Dreamlifter cargo plane. It's the largest plane in the world, and this is sort of a picture of it.
[18:05:00] They called up just a little while ago. And that can sort of take anything, that's the biggest in the world. And they're letting us use that for the distribution of product all over the country, especially the heavy product or large quantities of product. And Boeing will dedicate up to three planes to the mission of flying medical anywhere we need it. Each plane can carry 63,000 pounds of cargo per flight, that's a lot of cargo.
I also signed an executive order giving the Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security the authority to activate the ready reserve components of the armed forces. This will allow us to mobilize medical, disaster and emergency response personnel to help wage our battle against the virus by activating thousands of experienced service members including retirees.
We have a lot of people, retirees, great, great military people, they're coming back in who have offered to support the nation in this extraordinary time of need. And they come back in, they don't say how much, they don't say what are we getting paid, they just want to come back in. It's really an incredible thing to see. It's beautiful.
This afternoon I also signed into law $2.2 trillion in urgently needed relief for our nation's families, workers, businesses and Americans, every race, color, religion and creed. And the $2.2 trillion goes to $6.2 trillion depending on need; so it's the largest -- it's the largest bill ever signed, and not just emergency relief, but of any kind. We've never signed a bill of that magnitude.
You know, incredibly, it was 96 to nothing in the Senate and it was essentially the same thing in Congress. They did it very quickly in the House. They did it very, very quickly. So if you look at Congress, what they've been able to do, the House was voice vote, I guess they would call it, and something like that rarely takes place, and 96 to nothing in the Senate for the largest bill in the history of our country. That's pretty good.
And I want to thank Republicans, I want to thank Democrats for coming together, for the whole of the nation, and this is a great thing, a great victory, this is going to save companies that are incredible companies but that are going to need some help because of what happened. A month ago they were outstanding, they were having the best year they ever had and then we got hit. We'll help them out. It's thousands and millions of jobs. It's millions of jobs.
And I just want to thank everybody for working so hard. That includes the people standing with me right here. The legislation extends a vital lifeline to American families and American workers with job retention loans for small businesses and a big focus of the bill is small businesses. They're really the -- they're the energy, they're whatever you want to call it in terms of nation to push.
People have no idea how big a factor -- Peter can tell the small businesses are in this country from an economic standpoint, from a jobs standpoint. We expand the unemployment benefits for workers very substantially and direct cash payments will be going to American citizens, substantial. This legislation provides a massive increase in funding for hospitals
for the disaster relief fund and critical supplies including masks, respirators and pharmaceutical of all types. And speaking of pharmaceuticals, as you know, we're working on vaccines, we're getting some good response and we're working on therapeutics and cures. And we have some very interesting things happening.
This afternoon Apple launched a new tool created in partnership with our task force, the CDC and FEMA. Any individual concerned they might have the virus can now download the free COVID-19 app on their iPhone and answer a set of simple questions about their symptoms and risk factors. It's getting to be a very modernized system, indeed. They will soon receive HHS recommendations on what to do next, including whether they should get tested or not. And again, we only want people to get tested if we think they need it.
In a few moments, Secretary DeVos and Secretary Purdue will discuss new partnerships with the private sector that are providing millions of meals to students while schools are closed. They both have been incredible, the job they have done, appreciate them very much. We're grateful for the assistance of Niren Chaudhary, CEO of Panera bread company, they've been so incredible to us and the people of our country.
And Denton McLane, chairman of McLane Global Logistics, and they've joined us, they're on stage with me, they're going to speak.
Throughout this ordeal, I have been awed and inspired by the American people more than anything else, more than anyone else. Americans of every walk of life have followed the guideline, shown compassion and sacrificed greatly on behalf of their fellow citizens. I want every American to know their selfless and heroic actions are saving lives, and I want them to know and I have said it before, that I'm very proud to be their president. Very proud of the American people.
My administration is actively planning the next phase in an all out war against this horrible virus. We're now testing 100,000 patients per day, more than anybody in the world. And we have now, as of even a couple of weeks ago, tested more than any other country in the world and our capacity continues to grow. Widespread surveillance testing will allow us to monitor the spread of the virus, and we're doing that quite accurately, and Deborah and Tony will be speaking about that. And coordinate with the state to contain new hot spots as they arise with a targeted fact based and database approach. It's all data driven.
This surveillance testing will soon enable us to public updated guidelines for state and local leaders. We want every county and region in the country to have the on the ground evidence that they need to determine the mitigation measures that are right for them. Each location is different. Some are very, very different. Some are day and night. Some are in great shape and some aren't in great shape and we'll be able to have very accurate information very shortly. We already have a lot of that information. America is greatly battling this pandemic through cutting edge signs,
medical innovation and rational, deliberate and determined vigilance. No effort will be spared in winning this war. We're going to win the war. Hopefully we're going to win soon and with as few lives as possible lost. You see what's going on all over the world. You see the lives, you Italy, you see Spain.
You see all of these countries going through so much, going through such hell, and we're all in strong communication. I can tell you our professionals are dealing with them every day, many of the countries -- so many countries. But many of the countries, we're dealing very directly and closely. And we're going to be in very good shape in terms of certain equipment that's very hard to get, very hard to manufacture and at the right time we'll be distributing that equipment throughout the world to other countries.
Boris Johnson was asking for ventilators today. As you know, Boris, he's tested -- unfortunately he's tested positive and it's a terrible thing. But he's going to be great. I'm sure he's going to be totally great. But they want ventilators, Italy wants ventilators, Spain wants ventilators, Germany wants ventilators. They're all calling for ventilators. Well we're going to make a lot of ventilators and we'll take care of our needs but we're also going to help other countries.
So I just want to thank everybody. I want to thank our great American citizens and lot of incredible things are happening. Really happening. And it's too bad, I was saying before we had the press conference when we signed. We had a signing ceremony where we signed the largest bill in our history.
And I said think of it, 22 days ago, we had the greatest economy in the world, everything was going beautifully. The stock market hit an all time high again for the over 150th time during my presidency and the world was looking good.
And then we got hit by the invisible enemy, and now you have countries all over the world reeling.
But we're winning it, and we'll be bigger and better and stronger that we were even before. And we will also have apparatus in place that works. We won't have broken systems. We'll have incredible systems, so if this should happen again, hopefully it won't, but if a thing like this should happen again, we'll be able to handle it very much, more easily. So with that I will take a few questions. Steve, please?
QUESTION: Tell us a little about these negotiations with General Motors. What were they reluctant to do and was it a debate over costs or profits or what?
TRUMP: Well, it got to be a debate over cost.
We don't want to think too much about cost when we're talking about this. This is not cost. I wasn't happy where General Motors built plants in other locations over the years. Not so much during my term, but they built a lot of plants in other countries. I won't name them but you can imagine. And so I didn't go into it with a favorable view. I was extremely happy with Lordstown, Ohio, where they left Lordstown, Ohio in the middle of an auto boom, because we had 17 car companies coming in and then they were leaving one plant in Ohio.
I love Ohio.
And what happens? That became the story, not that all these plants are moving in, but that you had one plant they were leaving. And, frankly, I think that would be a good place to build the ventilators, but we'll see. We'll see how that all works out.
So I wasn't too thrilled. And then we thought we had a deal for 40,000 ventilators, then all of a sudden it became 6,000 and then price became a big object. But Peter Navarro is going to handle that and Peter will do a very good job. We'll see, maybe they'll change their tune. But we didn't want to play games with them.
QUESTION: Mr. President, two questions for you, one on state quarantines and the other one on this search for a treatment. The first one, over the last 24 hours, governors in multiple states, including Florida, Rhode Island, have issued quarantine orders for travelers coming from other states...
TRUMP: Quarantine orders.
QUESTION: ... Quarantine orders, yes. And they are intercepting people on highways, at airports. They say this is at the recommendation of your administration. Is that true? And if so, why doesn't the administration just...
TRUMP: Well, I think I'm going to let Tony speak to that a little bit later. But we're being very strong on quarantine. We're being very strong on people not leaving, especially certain states, and going to other states where they have less of a problem. I mean...
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) But is that constitutional?
TRUMP: ... you're hearing constantly about people leaving New York and going down to Florida. And New York obviously is a hot spot. And that's why we're building all those hospitals in New York and all those medical centers in New York. So we'll let Tony answer that. But specifically, you have to understand, we're not playing games.
QUESTION: Mr. President, if I could head back to the -- invoking DPA, this morning you tweeted about it. And I'm told it was coincidentally not long after that tweet Ventec and GM reached an agreement to, at their Kokomo, Indiana, plant which is a clean facility that makes electronic equipment...
QUESTION: ... produce up to 10,000 ventilators a month with the first ones to be delivered in a couple of weeks. Why the need, after that, to invoke DPA?
TRUMP: It wasn't after. It was before and we just weren't getting there with General Motors. We weren't getting there. We were getting there with a lot of other companies and we have the people that are doing it for me in the room right here, and we can have -- we can talk to you later about it.
But we have to get these people on board. We're not looking to get into a big deal on price. We're not looking to be ripped off on price. We don't want prices to be double, triple what they should be. So General Motors -- we'll see what happens, but now they're talking. But they weren't talking the right way at the beginning and that was not right to the country.
QUESTION: And if I could just follow on that, Mr. President? Last night, you told Sean Hannity you didn't think that there was a need for 30,000 or 40,000 ventilators. Yet, today you basically federalized General Motors to produce tens of thousands. What changed?
TRUMP: Well, I think there's a very good chance we won't need that many. And I think, frankly, there's a great chance that we're not going to need that many.
But you know what? There are a lot of other people that are going to need them. We have countries all over the world that are friends of ours and we will help those countries.
We're in a position to do things that other countries can't. So we have sort of an interesting position. We can make them, because we're going to be making over 100,000 pretty quickly. So we can make them and if we don't need them, John, that's OK because we can help Italy, and we can help the U. K. -- Boris Johnson specifically, I mean, when I say how are you feeling and the first thing Boris said to me is we need ventilators.
QUESTION: So surplus will be...
TRUMP: Oh, absolutely. We're not going to be keeping our -- all over the world, they want them. And we're in a position to make them and other countries aren't. OK.
QUESTION: Mr. President, if I first can follow-up on that. Governor Cuomo had said 30,000 to 40,000 is what he needed. He based that on the experts that were advising him. What are you basing your assessment that he doesn't that many on? TRUMP: Well, if you look -- and I think you can ask that question
best of Deborah -- but I think their estimates are high, I hope they're high. They could be extremely high. We're doing even hospitals based on pretty high estimates I'm doing them anyway.
And as I told John, if we do not need them that will be wonderful and we can help a lot of great people all over the world. We can help them live. But I think his estimates are going to be very high. We're going to see.
Don't forget, we sent thousands of ventilators to New York and they didn't know they go them. Then, we send thousands of ventilators to New York -- they have a warehouse, a New York warehouse, in Edison, New Jersey, which is an interesting thing. And we went them to Edison, New Jersey. They were in the warehouse, ready to go and New York never took them. So -- they knew they were there. So we have to get people lined up. But we've -- we've given -- and I'm not blaming New York.
Look, this is something that's of a magnitude that nobody's ever seen before. But I will tell you what. The federal government has done a hell of a job. So we sent thousands of ventilators to New York and they didn't know about it at the time they were complaining, thousands. We had 2,000 and then 2,000 and then 4,000, and they were going there in large numbers, and then before that we sent many thousands.
We want to have so many that we do have more than we need because we can send them to other great countries that -- other countries that have been our friends and they'll never be able to do it themselves.
QUESTION: (OFF MIKE) also said that some of the governors are not appreciative of -- of what's the federal government's done, and you've suggested that some of these governors are not doing everything they need to do, like that these governors are at fault.
Can you be specific? What more in this time of a national emergency...
TRUMP: Well I think we've done a great job for the State of Washington, and I think the governor is a failed presidential candidate, as you know, he -- he leveled out at zero in the polls, he's constantly chirping and I guess complaining would be a nice way of saying it. We're building hospitals, we've done a great job for the State of Washington.
Michigan, all she does is -- she has no idea what's going on and all she does is say, oh, it's the federal government's fault, and we've taken such great care of Michigan. You know the care we've taken of New Jersey. I think if you ask
Governor Murphy of New Jersey how are we doing, I think he'd say great. I think. He's a Democrat.
Governor Cuomo has really said we're really doing a great job. And I saw the news conference where he was thanking the people from FEMA, the people from Army Corps of Engineers this morning.
I mean, they built a hospital like three and a half days. And it's a big hospital in the Javits Center. And they're building medical facilities in different parts of New York. And Governor Cuomo's been appreciative.
But you know, couple of people aren't. We have done a hell of a job. The federal government has really stepped up.
QUESTION: But what I'm asking is what more specifically do you want the governor of Washington, the governor of Michigan...
TRUMP: All I want them to do -- very simple, I want them to be appreciative. I don't want them to say things that aren't true. I want them to be appreciative.
We've done a great job, and I'm not talking about me, I'm talking about Mike Pence, the Task Force, I'm talking about FEMA, the Army Corps of Engineers -- there's no country in the world could have done what the Army Corps of Engineers has done and is doing.
Now they're going in and building -- literal -- they're going into hotels and renovating hotels. That should be for governors to do. That should be for states to do.
We have the Army Corps of Engineers so teed up and so stocked up and they're really psyched and they're incredible, and there's no games with these people. They're in there screaming get it done, get it done, there's not like sitting around taking it easy. These are workers. These are incredible people.
So I think the Army Corps of Engineers, when -- when somebody for political reasons wants to blame, I view that as blaming these incredible people. Nobody's ever seen it. I don't know if you've been to the Javits Center. Now, I have seen it, I would love to go there, but with all that we're doing, we will be tomorrow at the hospital boat.
There's another -- we have this incredible hospital boat, it was supposed to be ready in three and a half weeks because it's under maintenance, a big maintenance contract. We were able to get it done quickly. We were able to stock it up to the -- you know, top. And it's leaving tomorrow at 2:00. It's leaving Virginia, it'll be in New York on Monday. Weeks ahead of schedule.
I think things -- even the media -- I think the media and governors should appreciate it. And I have to say, the media's been pretty good and the governors have been really good except for a couple, and with them it's just political. How's Trump doing? Oh, well, I don't know, you know. Let's blame...
TRUMP: Because we have done -- we have done a job the likes of which nobody's seen.
QUESTION: So it's the words they're saying that you're concerned about, it's not that they're...
TRUMP: I think they should be appreciative, because you know what, when they're not appreciative to me, they're not appreciative to the Army Corps, they're not appreciative to FEMA, it's not right.
These people are incredible -- they're working 24 hours a day. Mike Pence -- I mean, Mike Pence, I don't think he sleeps anymore. These -- these are people that should appreciated. He calls all the governors. I tell him, I mean, I'm a different type of person. I say, Mike, don't call the Governor of Washington.
You're wasting your time with him. Don't call the woman in Michigan. Most -- it doesn't make any difference what happens.
QUESTION: ... call the governor of Washington?
TRUMP: No, no, you know what I say? If they don't treat you right, I don't call. He's a different type of person. He'll call quietly anyway, OK? But he's done a great job. He should be appreciated for the job he's done.
QUESTION: Given that older Americans are advised to stay at home and avoid travel, is it absolutely necessary for you to go to Norfolk, Virginia tomorrow to wave goodbye to the ship...
TRUMP: No, no, but I have spirit for the country. I mean, we have sailors, we have doctors on that ship, we have everything. I mean, I'm not going to be jumping around in a huddle, but yes,
I think it's a great sign -- the President of the United States, they got a ship out of maintenance, completed all the work in a fraction of the time it was supposed to be there for three and half additional weeks, they got it done and it's in great shape, and they're sending it up.
So the answer -- it's a good question, it's a fair question. I just feel that as the leader of our country, when they can do work like they've done -- and they've been working all day, all night, medical supplies, everything, loading up that ship -- I don't think it's the worst thing in the world, it's right down the road practically, right, Virginia -- and I think it's great if I go to Virginia. I guess I can take helicopter or plane, it's very -- it's like a tiny trip.
And I think it's a good thing when I go over there and I say thank you.
It doesn't mean I'm going to be hugging people and it doesn't mean that I'm going to be shaking people's hands and everything.
But I think it sends a signal when the president is able to go there and say thank you, so you know, we'll be careful.
QUESTION: Mr. President, on the stockpile of supplies for a pandemic, yesterday, from the podium, you blamed your predecessor, saying that when you arrived as president, you said -- quote -- "We took over an empty shelf." You've been president now for more than three years, why didn't you and your administration fill that shelf?
TRUMP: I did, we did fill it, twice. We filled it twice, and we've been distributing that for -- for literally a year...
QUESTION: So why...
TRUMP: ... we've been filling -- we've been -- nice question, Peter. Thank you very much.
We've been filling it out, and we've been filling that stockpile many, many times. It's been filled many, many times. And now what we're doing is something different, because I think it's better.
We'd fill it, so it comes from wherever the point of manufacture or whatever is. We fill it, and then we go, now it's -- now we take it and we distribute it around. Now what we're doing is, we have an emergency. We're saying, go direct, go direct, go direct.
We fill it only where necessary, but now we're trying to do direct. So they drop it off in New York or they drop it off in Michigan, they drop it off in Virginia, wherever it may be. Florida -- well, Florida's getting a lot of things. And we're finding it's a much better system. But we filled and we've stockpiled many, many times. Yeah, we ended up with an empty shelf.
QUESTION: You spoke to Chinese President Xi yesterday. What did he tell you in terms of data that he's going to share and how they got...
QUESTION: ... the number of cases to go down?
TRUMP: So I had a great conversation with the president of China last night, pretty late in the night. It was fascinating to me. You know, they have a whole -- it's a different kind of a world, it's a different form of government, to put it mildly. We talked for a long time. We talked for at least an hour, I guess.
And one of the things I was asking him is when did you notice that this was happening -- we talked about the whole concept, how it happened, when it happened, what was the most effective use. I mean, was it the fact that you know, distance, was distance the best thing. We talked about everything.
And he's gotten and developed -- because they're ahead of us from the standpoint of time, it happened there actually long before it happened here. By the way, it would have happened here a lot sooner, had we not kept those people out, the Chinese people, coming over to the country, had we not kept them out.
But we talked about it because he's had additional experience of having been much earlier. And he's -- he's developed some incredible theories. And all of that information is coming over here, it's -- a lot of it's already come. The data, we call it data. And we're going to learn a lot from what the Chinese went through.
Our relationship with China's very good. We also talked about the trade agreement, but I must tell you, this whole invisible enemy has taken over the world. Nobody cares about trade, nobody cares about anything. You want to talk about trade, they immediately get back to this.
So we really -- we talked about trade. You know, they're starting to buy very heavily from the farmers under the agreement, under the trade deal that we just signed. But honestly, he, me, all of us, everybody's talking. You turn on television, you read the papers, it's all about this. And you know what, it probably should be mostly about this. It's hard to talk about, hey, how are you doing with buying from the farmers?
They have started very, very large buying, as you probably have read. But what we really focused on was this.
QUESTION: Did he ask you...
TRUMP: I also said, how have you done with cures and how have you done with respect to vaccines? We discussed that. And you know, they're doing like we're doing, they're working on it very hard, they think they have some interesting -- interesting things have been determined, and we'll see what happens.
But we talked a lot about vaccine, we talked a lot about possible cures, what -- how good would that be? I mean, that's a game-changer, so we'll see.
And by the way, we have various things happening right now, having to do with cures and vaccines. And I think we're doing -- I think we're doing very well, especially... (CROSSTALK)
TRUMP: On the vaccine thing, I think we're very close. But as Tony will tell you, that's a long testing process. So we'll see what happens.
QUESTION: Did he ask you to suspend tariffs?
TRUMP: He never asked me to suspend tariffs, no. We're taking in billions of dollars, he never did ask me that.
QUESTION: Mr. President, on Monday, it will be the end of the 15 Days to Slow the Spread of the virus. Do you expect that you will simply renew the guidelines, or do you expect that there could be some modification to the...
TRUMP: So, John, I will be sitting down with this brilliant woman and this brilliant man, and lots of brilliant people that work with them I think -- right, Deborah, Tony? -- and we'll be sitting down on Monday or maybe Tuesday, depending on which is the best for everybody, and we'll be making that determination, OK? We'll be making it.
QUESTION: ... any early -- any early indications...
TRUMP: And, by the way, obviously, we're not doing it for New York.
You see, New York is just coming into this really heated situation. We're building a lot of things in New York right now that nobody thought we'd have to be building. A lot of things are happening in New York. So, obviously -- but we are talking about possibly other parts of the country, which really aren't affected to any major degree. Or maybe we won't do that, because maybe at the advice of a lot of very talented people that do this for a living, they won't want to do that. They won't want to exposed anything. The want to do it all at one time. These are the kinds of things we'll be talk about.
REPORTER: Mr. President, for people at home who are wondering how long are we going to have to live like this, what advice would you give?
TRUMP: Well, it depends. We do want to flatten the curve. We want to see that curve start heading down in the other direction at a minimum. And we really have to talk about areas of the country that have not been affected or certainly have had a very small effect, and we'll see. I certainly want to get it open as soon as possible. I don't want it to be long but we also want it to open safe, otherwise, what would we do.
REPORTER: So, could it be months?
TRUMP: I hope not. I hope it's going to be soon. I hope it disappears faster than that. I really think that the people of our country have done a great job.
Look, last night I was watching, and I'm looking down Madison Avenue and 5th Avenue, John, there were no people in the street. I mean, normally, you wouldn't be able to see the sidewalk. There would be cars all over, there would be like rush hour stuff. I'm looking at it. And I'm saying, I can't believe it, there are no cars, there are no people. There wasn't one person on 5th Avenue walking down the street. I've never seen that before. You know, I guess maybe it, 1:00 in the morning, 4:00 in the morning maybe. But I've never seen that before.
The people have been incredible. They've really been -- when you talk about distancing, social distancing, I mean, you know, we don't have a law. We're not going put them in jail. And yet they really -- I think there're two things. Number one, they are afraid, and number two, they really wanted to win this thing is.
REPORTER: I wanted to ask you about United Airlines said today that they are worried that there's not enough money for them in the $2.2 trillion bill that you just signed. At the end of the sort of aid period at the end of September, whether restrictions on layoffs come off, that they could be seen significant layoffs. And so I was wondering what your reaction to that was and what the administration might do to prevent this sort of --
TRUMP: So, yes, good question. We have brilliant people here. We have tremendous amount of money and we have brilliant people that I'm taking from Wall Street with Secretary Mnuchin, who has done an incredible job, very brilliant guy I'm taking from Wall Street. People that I've know, that you all know, the top people in world, they don't want money, they don't want -- I mean, will they get something, I guess maybe they'll, who knows, peanuts, what they want compared to what they would normally get. I'm taking the smartest, the most brilliant people in the world in finance and they're going to be dealing -- I'm not going to hire somebody that's never done it that's a political person or anything else.
We're getting the most brilliant financial minds in the world. I know all of them. You know all of them. I mean, you read all of them. I guess some, you know, read about them. They probably the smartest of them all. But the fact is we're taking these brilliant people and they'll be dealing with United. And they want to help.
Look, the airline business -- I tell you right now, the airline business has always been a tough business. It's always been a very tough business, tough to make money with. It's got every barrier you could have that business has. But for our country, it's very important. We have to take care of our country. We need the airlines to stay. It's also big for jobs. So we will be able to handle United and we'll be able to handle Delta and we'll be able to handle all of it. We have plenty of money.
Now, will we end up owning large chunks depending on what these great geniuses decide along with the executives of the different companies? You know, it's possible, and they'll make a better deal on the loan. But the taxpayer will then end up owning a big chunk of companies, as an example, Boeing. Boeing, until a year ago was the greatest company, I think, in the world, by far that wasn't -- to me, that wasn't anything close.
I believe, it was 1 percent of GDP, okay. Think of it, one company, 1 percent of GDP. It was flaws and then it had a problems and then it had on top of it, this whole thing with the virus. So Boeing will probably need a hand and we're going to bring Boeing back to help.
But we have the smartest people in the world. We have this smartest -- I don't even know if you know that. I think this could be the first time you have heard it. People like Larry Fink we're talking to, that's BlackRock, and we have, you know, the smartest people. And they all want to it. They all -- I mean, this, to them, they love this country. They all want to do it. So we're speaking to people like that and they'll be able to work it out.
REPORTER: I guess, my question is there's probably a tension between bringing the companies back to economic health and protecting people's job. I'm wonder if you're going to intervene and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin to --
TRUMP: No, I think it's the same thing. I mean, you know, bringing people back to health and protecting people's jobs. To me, and I'm okay with this stuff, that's the same thing, that's -- I'm a much different position as president than if I were an investor or something. But I want to bring people back to health because I want to preserve the jobs. But I also want to preserve airlines because that's preserving lots of other jobs. That's preserving the travel and leisure industry, which perhaps the largest industry in our country, if you add it all up. You add all up all the hotels and all the traveling and all the planes and everything else, probably by far the largest industry in our country.
So saving the airlines is very important and the airlines were all doing well. You know, the airlines were doing record business a month before this today, let's say. Even 22 days to be exact, right, when we first started seeing some real signs of problems. They were at record levels. Last year, they had a record year, the biggest in the history of the airlines. Everybody was doing well.
I mean, I was presiding over the most successful economy in the history of the world. And now we're going to have to rebuild it. And I think we're going to have an absolute, incredible fourth quarter. You know, maybe slightly after that to be honest. But it's going to be in that time period. As soon as we get rid of this, I think we're going to have an explosion upward. It's going to be incredible.
Please. REPORTER: Mr. President, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has issued some of the fewest restrictions in the country, yet Florida has the highest percentage of elderly in the country. Do you believe Governor DeSantis is handling this well?
TRUMP: I do, because he's a very talented guy. He's a very good governor. Everyone loves him. He's doing a fantastic job for Florida. He was unhappy with the people coming down from New York. You know, they're flying down from New York. And he had a state and has a state with, you know, obviously a lot less problem as far as been doing really well in the sense of testing. The testing has shown much better results. I will talk to you about that later. But now he was very unhappy with the people coming down from New York, and I understand that.
Ron is a very tough guy. He's a great governor. And I have tremendous confidence in him. And, you know, he had the beach situation. He resolved that. He will get it all resolved.
REPORTER: I have two question, Mr. President. First, yesterday in your letter to the governors, you said you want to categorize certain counties of high risk, medium risk and low risk. Practically speaking, how are you going to enforce that? How can you stop people from --
TRUMP: You have to go louder. You have to speak louder.
REPORTER: Sorry. How are you going to stop people from going from high risk areas to low risk areas, in your letters to the governors?
TRUMP: We have some very, very strong restrictions. But you're right, I don't like it. So we're seeing how it works. The data is coming in on Monday and Tuesday and we're going to see how it looks. But, you know, can we go to a tougher level? we can, but that causes other problems. We're going to see. And we'll be reporting back very shortly after my meetings with Tony, Deborah and others that we're going to be meeting and our vice president. And we're going to be reporting back to the media, okay?
OWEN JENSEN, EWTN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Mr. President, Owen Jensen, with EWTN News. Millions of school kids across the country are home, including my own, bored, restless, learning a little bit online, but it's better in the class, and you know that. And they're -- my kids, they want to crawl on the walls and climb on the walls, and wife is about to lose it, right? So many of them are watching right now. What would you want to say to those kids right now, elementary school, middle school, high school, what would you tell them right now who are watching from home?
TRUMP: I would say that you are a citizen of the greatest country anywhere in the world. And we were attacked like nothing that's happen possibly since 1917, many, many years ago. We were attacked, and we're winning the battle and we're going to win the war and that's going to take hopefully that much longer. But we have to win the war. And I would say that they have a duty to sit back, watch, behave, wash their hands, stay in the apartment with mom and dad, they look like they're lucky to have you as a father, and just learn from it. But, you know, they're -- the young people have been tremendous. They -- some of them are very happy not to go to school. You understand that, perhaps yours, perhaps not. But they've been -- we have no -- we have literally had no problem.
But, again, they should just sit back and be very proud of our country because we're doing it for them. You know, ultimately, we're doing it for them more than anything else, if you think about it.
The other thing that's nice and the one thing that has come out, and I learned this, again, it was reaffirmed by President Xi last night in my conversation, the young people are really -- this is an incredible phenomenon. But they are attacked, successfully attacked to a much lesser extent by this pandemic, by this disease. This, whatever they want to call, you call it germ, you can call it a flu, you can call it a virus. You can call it many different names. I'm not sure anybody knows what it is. But the children do very well. It's almost the younger they are, the better they do. I guess the immune system is -- sadly, for some of us, their immune system is stronger. But actually I'm very happy about that.
But they have been attacked, for instance, the Spanish flu. And if you look at the H1N1, the swine, if you take a look at the swine flu, which was, as you know, not so long ago, that attacked very strongly young children, kids, middle-age people, everyone. Age is a factor here. So your children should be in good shape. And just tell them to be very proud of the country, okay?
JENSEN: Just follow-up real quickly, when does the risk become an unacceptable one to allow people to go back to their lives?
TRUMP: We'll make that determination. And you're going to have something to do with that. And, look, we're going to be guided also. You have some real strong feelings. The media -- I tell you what, the media, generally, I mean, I've been pressed -- a lot of the media has been fair. I'm not used to fair treatment in the media. I don't know how to handle it. But the media has really been overall, I think the media has been pretty fair. Some not. I mean, I could tell you who but what's the point. But the media has really been fair. I mean, they view this we're all in a problem together and we're going to win. We're going to win.
REPORTER: Yes, thank you, President Trump. New York is currently the epicenter of the outbreak in the U.S. with about half of the cases. Yesterday, Kellyanne Conway laid a lot blame for that. The mayor pointing out that he told the people go about life as normal if (INAUDIBLE) closing schools and business, I'm wondering if you agree. And also if I could ask you what your thoughts on the signal spill (ph) preventing aids to your businesses. Do you think that's fair and what are your thought on that?
TRUMP: Well, that's not happening. I mean, I think they wrote us out. And it's all right. But that's not happening. As far as the mayor of New York, I'll be honest, I didn't know him well. He and I are obviously opposite persuasions. And we would go at it but we didn't -- I don't know if we ever spoke other than to maybe say hello a couple of times down at the memorial, the World Trade Center memorial once a long time ago.
So I have spoken to him a lot, Mayor de Blasio and we've really had incredibly productive discussions. I've gotten him a lot of people. We have gotten him a medical center. He's asked for -- at Elmhurst -- I know, Elmhurst Hospital very well. I mean, that was an area of Queens that I grew up in. And, boy, you talk about an epicenter. That's really the epicenter of the epicenter. That's really something.
We talked about it because that was very close to where I grew up. And you know, knowing it, being so familiar with it, it's incredible to see when they have the truck -- I don't have to go into great detail, but refrigerated trucks coming up, and I've never seen anything like it.
I've spoken with the Mayor de Blasio a lot in the last week. We've helped him, I think, a lot. And I've really gotten to like him. I get along with him very well. Now, he wants us to do certain things and we produced. And, I mean, today, I spoke to him with the secretary of defense, Esper, and we had a great conversation and we're helping them get some of the things he needs. I don't have to go into great detail. But he's very happy about what we're able to do for him today. And he's like us and he's working very hard.
But I can't say anything better about Mayor de Blasio. I mean, my relationship with him over the last couple of weeks has been excellent. And we've done a good job for him too.
REPORTER: There's been a lot of talk about ventilators and PPE and that kind of thing. But what about hospital capacity and are you prepared for the stories that are --
TRUMP: So, we're doing, great question. We're increasing capacities. Right, we're actually adding on through the Army Corps of Engineers. This is a big job and we're doing it in many states, not just New York and California.
By the way, Gavin Newsom has been terrific. I have to tell you, the governor of California, we're getting along really well. We're working hard for him. As you know the hospital ship -- the other hospital ship and they are incredible. That just arrived at Los Angeles, fully stocked. But Gavin Newsom has been really good and so many other governors have been good.
And these are governors that I have been fighting with about different things for a long time, the forest fires in his case and the border, and all sorts of things. And here we are, getting along very well. So -- and I appreciate his nice words, I really do, I really
appreciate it. It's -- and the people with me appreciate it.
Do you have another question?
QUESTION: Well, I was going to say, on the issue of hospital capacity and...
QUESTION: ... beds and being able to treat people and...
TRUMP: Oh, yeah, good -- good question.
QUESTION: ... not have them die because they can't have a hospital (ph)...
TRUMP: Yeah, well, I mean, look, we just started this, you know? We were just notified. And some of the governors have asked us to build hospitals through extensions, through portable hospitals, through things.
And -- you know, normally, this -- in all fairness, this is done normally through a local government, we don't go into cities and expand a hospital that's existing. But we're doing it now because we really are equipped to do it. We have incredible people.
And we're expanding hospitals, we're building many portable hospitals, not only Javits Center, where you have four -- plus you have four medical centers, but we're doing it in New Jersey -- Governor Murphy -- we're doing it in other states, we're doing it in California, we're doing some in the state of Washington, despite the fact that I'm not appreciative of the way the governor speaks.
We're doing it in a lot of different locations, and we're doing a lot of expansions. We're also taking over buildings and the city will go in or the state usually will go in, take over a building, and we go in and equip it and make it so that it's now hospital-functioning, they call it hospital-functioning. We're doing a lot of that.
Again, this is normally done by governors and then give it to the city to do. You know, you bring it in to the point. But we're doing a lot of that, and they're doing a great job, mostly done by the Army Corps of Engineers and FEMA.
QUESTION: A couple questions on those governors, you and your team obviously have had classified briefings on the pandemic, I assume...
QUESTION: ... for a while now. Were the governors included in those briefings, that you would have got in January and February? When did you warn the governors...
TRUMP: That I don't know, that I don't know.
QUESTION: ... as you would have had the information first?
TRUMP: Yeah. Well, they say I had classified briefings a long time ago, which wasn't true. But -- but we've had briefings. And as I know it, the governors have also had many briefings by...
QUESTION: When did you first warn them...
TRUMP: ... the federal government.
QUESTION: ... I guess, to tell them this thing was coming, this was a...
TRUMP: Oh, I think we knew -- I think we knew for a while. But if you take a look, I was the first one to say to China -- and I have great respect for China, I will tell you that -- but I was the first one, when they had the problem, to say you can't come in. And if you go back, that's a long time ago.
QUESTION: So if I can follow up...
TRUMP: Yeah, please?
QUESTION: Mr. President, on this question of ventilators, I understand you have a question, whether or not New York needs as much as they want. Governor Cuomo's saying 21 days from now...
TRUMP: Here's what we're going to have, are you ready? We're going to have more than -- we're manufacturing a lot of them now, we're accumulating a lot, we're taking a lot through the act, we're taking a lot, we're actually taking them.
And we're going to have, in a very short period of time -- and Peter's doing it along with some very talented people, some really talented people, it's very impressive actually -- but we're actually taking a lot. We're going to have plenty.
TRUMP: And if for some reason -- John (ph), if for some reason you're going to need even more, we're going to be prepared.
As an example, we now -- we've given out thousands and thousands, which I think you'll know. We accumulated thousands, we give them out. But we right now, I think in the stockpile, we have over 10,000. The reason we don't want to distribute that is for exactly what you're saying.
If there's a mad rush in New York or maybe in Louisiana, or maybe someplace else, we don't want to have given out all of those units, the ventilators, and then in those sections, we give them to Iowa but they didn't have a problem in Iowa. Give them to Idaho, we give them to lots of different places, and now we have to try and get them back, which is very easy to do...
QUESTION: But here's -- here's my question...
TRUMP: No, no, John, what I'm saying is this. We are prepared for things that nobody has any idea that we'd be prepared. And you know what? When I took this over, it was an empty box. We didn't have testing, we didn't have anything. We had a broken system there, we had a broken system in the stockpile, and we had a lot of broken systems.
And I'm not just blaming President Obama, you go long before that. But in all fairness to all of the former presidents, none of them ever thought a thing like this could happen.
But we have, right now, 10,000 ventilators in stockpile. We are ready to go with those ventilators. What we don't want is where we distribute the ventilators -- like we did in New York, and they didn't need them or they didn't know or they didn't use them. if we need them in New York, we're going to have plenty.
Now, we're getting a lot of ventilators in the next short period of time, a lot of ventilators are coming in the next short period of time. We're manufacturing. We went to all of the companies -- I read their names -- we went to all of those companies. They are going to go -- I would say, around the clock, Peter, is that right? They're going around the clock...
QUESTION: Is a hundred days fast enough?
QUESTION: Are you -- (inaudible) you said, is that fast enough, to get 100,000? Because some of these people need it in three weeks.
TRUMP: Let's -- let's put it this way, let's put it this way. We distributed thousands and thousands already. Normally, these would be bought by states, just so you understand, normally these would be bought by governors. They were -- I don't want to say unprepared, but nobody was prepared for this.
What we've done, nobody can even imagine. And -- and by the way, I've had governors tell me, including Democrat governors, they said, we can't believe you've been able to do this. And you go to other countries, and we're not only competing against states because we don't want to compete against states. We've had a couple of cases where states would buy, we were buying, and we -- I said specifically, because I heard about it, pull back, let the state buy it. Immediately, the price goes way down and they end up buying it.
But we're also competing against many countries because many countries need the ventilators. That's why I want to build more if possible.
(CROSSTALK) TRUMP: John (ph), maybe we'll take one more question.
QUESTION: I guess the question I want...
TRUMP: John (ph)?
QUESTION: ... the question I was building up to is, are you able to guarantee it, to assure these states, these hospitals that everybody who needs a ventilator, will get a ventilator?
TRUMP: So here's what I'll tell you. I think we're in really good shape. This is a pandemic the likes of which nobody's seen before. I think we're in great shape. I think that, number one, we've distributed -- ventilator's a big deal. We've distributed vast number of ventilators, and we're prepared to do vast numbers.
I think we're in great shape. I hope that's the case. I hope that we're going to have leftovers so we can help other people, other countries.
QUESTION: Everybody who needs one will be able to get a ventilator?
TRUMP: Look, look, don't be a cutie pie, OK?
QUESTION: ... answer (ph), (inaudible), watch (ph) me (ph).
TRUMP: Nobody's ever done what we've done. Nobody's done anything like we've been able to do. And everything I took over was a mess, it was a broken country in so many ways. In so many ways other than this. We had a bad testing system, we had a bad stockpile system, we had nothing in the stockpile system. So I wouldn't tell me what you're -- what -- you know, like being a wise guy.
QUESTION: Mr. President, you signed a bill today, the size of which could choke an entire herd (ph) of horses. and before you even had a chance to put pen to paper, people were already talking about the need for a phase four.
QUESTION: Do you see a need for a phase four, and where do think the priorities would lie?
TRUMP: Well -- yeah, well, there (ph) may be something where we're going to have to help states. Because the states have been hurt very badly. And the beautiful thing about our country is, $6.2 trillion -- because it is $2.2 plus $4 -- it's $6.2 trillion, and we can handle that easily because of who we are, what we are. It's our -- it's our money, it's our -- we are the ones, it's our currency.
We can handle it, and we can handle -- I watched Jerome Powell the other day, and he did a good job. He said, we'll do whatever we have to do. John (ph), we have to do whatever we have to do.
QUESTION: Where do you see the priorities being?
TRUMP: The priority is life and safety, and then the economy. Life and safety...
QUESTION: Is the Easter goal -- is the Easter goal stick? It seems like the -- earlier in the week, you said we love Easter...
TRUMP: We'll see. No, no...
QUESTION: ... but now it seems like it could be longer.
TRUMP: ... we'll see. A lot of things can...
QUESTION: ... long (ph) week (ph)...
QUESTION: ... what do you tell those folks who think they're going to have to wait this out for a while?
TRUMP: I'd tell them, if it's your life, then it's your safety. And if we need more time, they're not going to have a problem waiting it out. It's life, it's safety and it's our country. But we have to take care of people. At the same time, we want to get them out. They want to get out. Our country was built on that. But we have to make sure it's safe, and everyone knows that.
OK, one more question. Please?
QUESTION: Mr. President, sir...
TRUMP: Go ahead.
QUESTION: ... thank you. Both the World Health Organization, as recently as today, and your own health officials have said that any treatments that we use for coronavirus should be scientifically demonstrated to be effective. But at the same time, you've said that -- chloroquine as an example could be used as a cure very soon. So is the WHO and your health officials wrong on this point? Are they...
TRUMP: So hydroxychloroquine, which is supposed to be the better of the two, seems to have some good backing. We're going to see. Look, Governor Cuomo, we've given him 10,000 units -- it's a lot -- and they're testing it. It's a malaria drug, it's also a drug for arthritis. But it -- and it's phenomenal for those two things, as you probably know, especially for malaria.
But we're going to find out soon. I hope it works. It -- it...
TRUMP: ... there are signs that it could be doing well. They are testing 10,000 units. It's a lot.
TRUMP: And -- and I tell you what, I want to thank the FDA because they approved it immediately, based on the fact that it was already out for a different purpose, they approved it immediately. So, look, hydroxychloroquine is -- is a very powerful drug for certain things, and it's a very successful drug. There's reason to believe that it could be successful here.
Now, the reason I disagree with you -- and I think Tony would disagree with me -- but the reason I disagree with you is that we have a pandemic. We have people dying now. If we're going to go into labs and test all of this for a long time, we can test it on people right now who are in serious trouble, who are dying. If it works, we've done a great thing. If it doesn't work, you know, we tried. But this is not something that's going to kill people. So, we can go in and we can test, and we can take our time.
When I was with the FDA, they indicated, you know, well, we will start working on it right and it could take a year. I said, what do you mean, a year? We have to test it tonight. If we don't have it tonight -- I want to test it immediately because it's on the market in a different form. So we know that. So from a safety standpoint, at least we know that. But you're talking about giving it to people who are in many cases are dying. So, we want to do it the way -- this is sort of like right to try. We have right to try approved.
For 44 years or more, they couldn't get it approved. We have the best labs, best doctors they couldn't -- I got it approved. Now, if somebody is terminally ill and if we think we have something that's going to work, we can actually use it. They can use it. And I'll tell you what you ought to do when his is over, you have to do a story on that, because we have had some tremendous results.
QUESTION: Just before you go, can I ask you something that just popped on Wall Street Journal. The head line, the Trump administration plans to suspend the collection of import tariffs for three months, according to administration officials. true or not true.
TRUMP: It's not even talked to me -- more fake news, John. Look, not even talked to me. They are talking about -- the only one I've heard that from, like as an example. China pays 25 percent interest on $250 billion worth of product that they send in. It's a lot. Everyone keeps saying, you're going to suspend the tariffs, the answer is no, but President Xi never even brought it up last night, it wasn't even discussed. It's fake news.
Tell the Wall Street Journal. you know, the Wall Street Journal does a lot of fake news too. It's pretty amazing. So I want to leave you by saying I want to thank you for being here, I want to thank the American public and all of the people that helped so much and we're going to give the podium to Vice President Pence who has been incredible. And if he's tired and if he's not answering questions like he should,
we have a great reason, because he has not slept in about four weeks. But I want to thank him because he has dedicated -- I mean, he is a dedicated person. Long before this, but the job he's done has been fantastic. So I want to thank Mike, all the people on the task force, and FEMA and Army Corp, everybody, you've been fantastic. Thank you very much.
PENCE: Thank you.
TRUMP: Thank you.
PENCE: Well, good evening everyone and thank you Mr. President. White House Coronavirus Task Force met today, we continue at the president's direction to focus on slowing the spread of the coronavirus through mitigation, expanded testing, and ensuring this our health care workers have the supplies they need. With cases now in all 50 states and more than 50 percent cases in the New York area, it's more important than ever to adhere to the guidance of state and local authorities. And for every American, the best thing that you can do, young or old, is put in to practice the president's coronavirus guidelines for America. It is the way that each of us can do our part.
Since we last spoke, as you all know the president signed the Coronavirus Aid Relief, Economic Security Act. This makes direct payments available to American families. The average family of four will receive a direct payment of some $3,400. It also covers payroll for small businesses across the country for a period of several months, so that even if the businesses is closed they can continue to have a loan which will be completely forgiven if they keep their whole team on the payroll. There's support for critical industries, for hospitals, and for states as well.
As of this evening, the president has issued 12 major disaster declarations, most recently for the states of Maryland and Missouri, and on the subject of vaccines, Emory university in Atlanta today, began enrolling volunteers in a phase one clinical trial of another possible vaccine for the coronavirus.
On the subject of testing, testing is available in all 50 states. And as a great credit to our partnership with commercial laboratories across the country, this morning it was reported that more than 685,000 tests have already been performed, and we are particularly grateful to the American hospital association whose members are reporting in to the CDC and FEMA in real time, giving our experts more visibility on those that have contracted the disease around the country.
The president mentioned this, but it's worth mentioning again. Apple has a new app out.