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U.S. Reports 300,000-Plus Coronavirus Cases, Death Toll of 8,000-Plus; President Trump And Coronavirus Task Force Hold Press Briefing. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired April 4, 2020 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Good afternoon. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
And any minute now, an update from the White House, the latest coronavirus briefing. And President Trump tweeted that he will be there. We will, of course, bring you that as soon as it starts, but while we wait, I want to bring you the latest developments here in the U.S. and around the world.
The numbers there on the right side of your screen. Nearly 1.2 million people around the globe right now are struck by this super contagious coronavirus. More than 63,000 people have died.
And a few minutes ago, the death toll in the United States crossed the 8,000 mark, confirmed cases here in the U.S., more than 300,000. The governor of New Jersey today saying his state has lost more people to the virus than it did on 9/11. New York state and New York City with the most casualties in this country, and today, some very welcome help is on the way. A thousand ventilators desperately needed for patients sick with the virus expected to arrive in New York City today donated by China.
Elsewhere, nearly every U.S. state and city of any size is virtually standing still this weekend. Forty-two states in all U.S. territories abroad are under official stay-at-home orders.
What about a mask? Should you cover your mouth and nose if you go outside? The CDC says yes. President Trump Friday said it's completely voluntary but made a point to say he's not going to do it himself.
The latest major retailer to control the number of people in their stores is now Walmart. Starting today, every Walmart store will allow only a certain number of people inside at one time and so when customers leave through one door, more can enter through another. This policy is meant to minimize close contact between people inside the store.
Back to New York now, and while we wait, again, for that White House coronavirus briefing, I want to go to CNN's Evan McMorris Santoro outside the massive Javits Center.
And, Evan, that is going to be a huge makeshift hospital and they are working frantically to get it ready. What is the timeline and how will it help?
EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's correct, Ana. This is sort of the landmark of the COVID response in New York City. This massive convention center is going to become a 2,500-bed hospital on Monday to house COVID patients to help take some of the strain off the existing medical system.
Governor Cuomo in his press conference today mentioned that the struggles are really real here in terms of needing hospital equipment and other things like that and that that surge we keep talking about, that apex, the final height of infections is still on the way.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: By the numbers, we're not yet at the apex. We're getting closer, depending on whose model you look at. They'll say four, five, six, seven days. Some people go out 14 days.
But our reading of the projections is somewhere in the seven-day range, four, five, six, seven, eight-day range. Nobody expected the need of equipment that we have. Nobody diagnosed or suggested PPE shortages, you know, so you have to adjust to -- we were focused on beds early on, and we scrambled on the beds, but now it turns out it's PPE and masks and ventilators.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: So that clip really illustrates the problems and the challenges in New York, which remains the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic here in the United States. Governor Cuomo talking about how he needed to add more bed space to the hospitals, to the hospital system here, which he's done with the help of the federal government with places like the Javits Center next to me, the massive navy ship that we talk about.
He said he's gone from about 53,000 beds in the state before the COVID crisis to now about 80,000 now. But now, that's turned and we've changed the focus to PPE and to medical equipment like ventilators and also personnel to operate that equipment -- Ana.
CABRERA: Let's talk more about these precious ventilators arriving from China today. How was this donation possible? And what will it mean for the fight against the pandemic in New York?
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: well, look, we've seen the governor here in New York as well as governors across the country really beg, borrow, and steal to get medical equipment whenever they can. And ventilators are some of the most important equipment. They're very expensive. They're hard to get ahold of.
And also they're extremely important to life-saving with this respiratory disease. So, Governor Cuomo, like other governors before him, has made a connection in China where there's a bunch of stuff, apparently, and it's been put on a plane and flown here to be part of the response here.
It's not just China, though. Governor Cuomo also spoke about Oregon sending 140 ventilators as well. But this is really what the focus of the governor is in this run-up to what we think is going to be the apex and then the falloff in cases, which is this need for ventilators and need for PPE -- Ana.
CABRERA: OK, Evan McMorris-Santoro, we know you will stay on top of all things New York. Thank you.
Louisiana's another state that continues to be hard hit. And New Orleans is right now bearing the brunt of it. Right now, the city is turning a convention center into a makeshift hospital as the Louisiana governor warns that hospitals could soon be over capacity.
Here are the numbers in Louisiana at this hour. More than 12,000 cases total, more than 400 deaths. Seventeen hundred people in the hospital right now and nearly 600 of them on those life-saving ventilators.
CNN's Ed Lavandera is live for us in New Orleans.
Ed, you were given a tour of this convention-center-turned-makeshift hospital today. What did you see? What did you learn?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it was an interesting sight. This is a makeshift hospital that will begin accepting patients on Monday. Inside of those kind of elaborate tents, individual spaces for each of the patients. Most of the rooms have cots with sheets on them and the nurse's stations within each of those areas. So, that they can be attended to properly.
Who you will see inside of there are patients that don't necessarily need the acute critical care and what medical officials here in the city and throughout the state are trying to do is allow the hospitals, give them the space they need so that most of the beds and the spaces inside the hospitals can be turned into ICU units or rooms where ventilators can be used for the most serious of patients.
So, in that convention center, you will see coronavirus patients but they will not be as serious but not quite to the point where they don't -- they can rest at home. These patients would still need medical care but they're really trying to separate the most severe patients from the patients that don't need as much attention.
But what medical officials here are saying, you know, when you walk into this convention center that 15 years ago was the site of so much despair in the days after Hurricane Katrina, all of this set-up and officials here in New Orleans say it's a symbol of what's to come.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. JOSEPH KANTER, LOUISIANA HEALTH DEPARTMENT: This should be a message that it's not time to let up. Look at what is happening here. Look at the magnitude of this. We are still very much in this. In fact, we haven't even hit halfway.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAVANDERA: So, here in the coming days, the governor has been saying that they will begin running out of ventilators, hospital bed space, ICU bed space, that is something to look out for here in the coming days. The dates exactly have kind of moved around a little bit, depending on what supplies have arrived and when they've arrived or the different numbers of cases coming in.
But every day, we continue to see numbers of those numbers tick up on the number of overall cases and the number of hospital beds being used, ICU units being used, all of this is still on an upward trajectory. Officials here say we are still weeks away from seeing the worst of it.
CABRERA: We just talked about the bed space being an issue. What about supplies? Do they have enough supplies?
LAVANDERA: They do and they don't. So there's not like it's critical -- super critical but here, for several weeks now, they have been kind of implementing and trying to get as much use out of individual masks and gloves and gowns to try to extend the use of it. It is not an ideal situation, but officials here are trying to get every last use of every piece of equipment that they have. There are a number of organizations trying to make them on their own and deliver them, but they say that the need for that personal protective equipment and gear is still crucially needed, but that they're having to ration it and use it in a way that isn't ideal but it is allowing them to get through these very critical days right now.
CABRERA: Everybody's doing the best they can. Ed Lavandera, thank you for your reporting. Of course, our thanks to Evan McMorris-Rogers as well -- or Morris-Santoro I should say, and I want both of you just know how much we appreciate you being out there in the elements.
You know, wherever you are watching me right now, odds are good you are living under some form of stay-at-home or shelter in place order from your city or your state. In fact, these are the only states this weekend whose governors have not yet issued a stay-at-home order. Just eight of them. That means about 310 million people in this country are hopefully following the rules and the guidance that scientists agree will help slow the spread of coronavirus.
It will help flatten the curve, and are just staying home. The most recent states to order people to stay home are Missouri and Alabama. Governors there are issuing those orders, came out just last night, and in fact, one of them, at least in Alabama, has not yet gone into effect.
Steven Reed is the mayor of Montgomery, Alabama, the state capital.
And, Mayor Reed, I just want to warn you. I may have to interrupt at some point because we expect the coronavirus task force briefing to start any moment. But let's just discuss this stay-at-home order that I know you've wanted for quite some time. You've been pleading with people in your city to stay home. This new stay-at-home order takes effect in about an hour from now.
Do you see people preparing for it and do you anticipate people will follow it?
MAYOR STEVEN REED, MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA: Yes. First of all, thanks for having me today. We do see people preparing for this. They're not panicking, which is what we want. They're just making some final preparations, I think, as they begin what we're calling a now normal that we expect to last weeks, going into the rest of this month and possibly into May.
But it's something that's been needed because we've been trying to stop the spread of COVID-19, and we've been looking at all the scientific data that we've been getting from medical experts as well as listening to our first responders in terms of what they're dealing with in the community.
And so while we're a little bit late, I'm glad that the governor did it and we're going to move forward as a community to really try to flatten this curve and make sure that as many people are aware of this and are taking precautions, that they need to stay safe and to stay healthy.
CABRERA: Why do you believe your governor, Kay Ivey, held out so long to declare a statewide stay-at-home order?
REED: Well, I think there was some resistance in parts of the business community, and I understand that to what it might do to the economy. But I don't think we have to put wealth versus health in the middle of this. I think the priority should be the health of our citizens, and that's what we've done here in the city of Montgomery, and I believe that may have had an impact in terms of what she was hearing from different parts of the state and what she was hearing from different mayors and other business leaders as well.
CABRERA: What was she hearing from you? How often do you talk to the governor, what did you tell her on behalf of the people of Montgomery?
REED: Well, I asked her to consider a shelter in place ordinance that I thought would really make a big impact coming from her as opposed to mayors kind of taking a scatter shot approach to it. And we have had conference calls with the governor probably once a week for the last few weeks, and she's been receptive. She's been open to a lot of the opinions that we have had, and you get different ideas and opinions, depending on what part of the state you're in.
But from my standpoint, we want to be proactive, we want to make sure that we're prioritizing not only the health and wellness of this community but our first responders and the medical personnel. And we've been relying on the data that we have been getting from health experts and really trying to stay a couple of steps ahead of this as best we can. CABRERA: Listen to these words from the nation's coronavirus response
coordinator, Dr. Deborah Birx. She says, we are only as strong as every community, every county, every state, every American following the guidelines to a T. And I can tell by the curve that not every American is following it.
What do you say to the mayors of other cities and states where there still is no stay-at-home order? Are they as frustrated as you've been?
REED: Well, I think they have to take bold action. I think they have to be decisive and I think they have to look at this in the long-term. If you look at it through the short-term lens, it's going to give you some pause. It's going to give you some caution from small business owners, from people who don't really want their normal way of life interrupted. I understand that. And certainly respect that. I've been a small business owner myself.
So it is very tough and we want to deal with some of those challenges, but at the same time, it takes leadership, I think, right now to make difficult choices regardless of what may be happening at the state and national level that's in the best interest of the people that we represent, and I believe that is the best way to really look at this for mayors, governors who have not implemented curfews, that have not implemented shelter in place orders, to make the decision that's in the best interest of our health in our community, the nation will bounce back.
We're a resilient country. We have great people who are coming together all across our city and our state and our country, you've reported on some of those stories. We'll bounce back from this, but we have to make sure that we take the necessary steps right now because each day we wait is a day that we put our citizens and the residents that depend on us to make these decisions at risk.
CABRERA: You know, it's hard for people, I think, to fully understand how dangerous this virus is until you're really in the thick of it.
Tell me the state of the outbreak in Montgomery right now. How many people are sick in your community, and how are your hospitals managing so far?
REED: Well, let me say this. You know, our hospitals, I think, are doing a yeoman's job in managing all of this, and I talked to our healthcare partners in the community, and we have doctors and surgeons and medical personnel, nurse practitioners, all of our first responders, police, fire and rescue and EMT, they're showing tremendous bravery and courage and we really admire them for that.
The community has shown an uptick, a little bit higher than what the nation is experiencing right now. We've been about 40 percent more cases than just the --
CABRERA: Mayor Reed, I'm sorry to interrupt you. We have the press conference just getting underway. DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Again, expressing our
support, solidarity and love for the people of our great country. We are fighting for you and we're enduring all of this together, and we will soon prevail together. We're making a lot of progress. We appreciate all of the great assistance from the governors and people within the states.
The relationships have been really, really good. I spoke with Governor Cuomo. We're working very hard to get additional things to New York as quickly as possible. As you know, we took care of the hospital including personnel, the 2,500 beds that we built just recently at Javits including personnel, and we opened it up to COVID. And that's something that we also did in Louisiana, and we're doing it in Dallas.
So, we have a lot of not only hospitals being built, but now we're manning the hospitals because states are, in many cases, unable to get additional people to work, it's just an incredible situation. There's never been anything like this.
One of the most important issues in battling this pandemic is coordinating the delivery of the crucial supplies throughout the nation based upon the most accurate information available, and we've got the best healthcare and disaster experts anywhere in the world and everybody will tell you that, and we're deal with big parts of the world and helping them also through this horrible situation. We're 151, still 151 nations are going through it, we're working to ensure that the supplies are delivered, where and when they're needed.
In some cases, we're telling governors, we can't go there because we don't think you need it, and we think some place else needs it, then pretty much so far, we've been right about that. And we'll continue to do it. As it really gets (inaudible), this will probably be the toughest week between this week and next week, then there'll be a lot of death, unfortunately, but a lot less death than if this wasn't done, but there will be death.
We're looking for an obvious focus in the hardest hit regions where some of them are obvious, and some aren't so obvious. They spring up, they comet and they hit you like you got hit by a club, an area wasn't at all bothered. You look at what's going on in New Jersey, the governor's doing an excellent job, by the way, but how that sprang up. Every decision that we're making is made to save lives. It's really our sole consideration. We want to save lives. We want as few lives lost as possible.
It's, therefore, critical that certain media outlets stop spreading false rumors and creating fear and even panic with the public. It's just incredible. I could name them, but it's the same ones, always the same ones. And I guess they're looking for ratings. I don't know what they're looking for, so bad for our country.
And so bad, the people understand - you look at the levels and approval ratings, and they're lowest they've ever been, the media. It's so bad for our country, so bad for the world. They ought to put it together for a little while, get this over with, and then go back to your fake news. Curing (ph) a national emergency, it's just essential that the federal decision makers cut through the fog of confusion into follow the facts and the science.
Many hospital administrators that we've been in touch with, even in the really hot spots, you know what they are, are communicating directly with us that their level of supplies is meeting essential needs and, at the current time, they're really thrilled to be where they are.
Whatever local shortages are reported, we're asking states to immediately meet the demand.
And we're stockpiling large amounts in different areas - in different areas, and we're going to be discussing that in a little while. But we want distributions to be made on a fair basis. We have to take care of a large country, not just certain areas of the country. But no matter where, we've be there, and we've been there very strongly.
I was to thank FEMA. I want to thank the Army Corps of Engineers. I want to thank our military for what they're doing. And we're going to be adding a tremendous amount of military to help supplement the states, thousands of soldiers, medical workers, professionals, nurses, doctors, and it'll be a large number. We'll be telling them over the next very short period where they're going. They're going into war - they're going into a battle that they've never really trained for, nobody's trained for this, nobody's seen this.
I would say since 1917, which was the greatest of them all. The greatest of this type of battle, probably the greatest of them all, right, 1917, up to 100 million people were killed. In addition, we're working directly with hospitals and existing suppliers and distributors to ensure that those with the greatest need are prioritized, and that need changes. One day it's one state or one local, one city, and then all of a sudden, they're starting to do well. We had some very good reports coming out of the state of Washington, coming out of various parts of California.
So, areas that we were getting ready to really hit hard, we can now go to other areas, and it looks like New York is going to be hit very hard, and Louisiana is just amazing the way it just spread up. And everyone's doing a good job, but they're going to be hit hard. Areas in the country that are not experiencing large scale infections are requesting supplies beyond what their present circumstances require, and we talk to them and we tell them and we explain it, and, for the most part, they're good with it.
We think we're right. It's very understandable that officials would seek to get the most they can get for their communities, but the fears of the shortages have led to inflated requests. We have some states and areas where they're just asking for (more). Look. We had one state asking for 40,000 ventilators -- 40,000. Think of it, 40,000, it's not possible.
They won't need that many, and now they're admitting they don't need that many, but we're getting as many as we can to them. Again, nobody's ever seen like this in terms of ventilators, in terms of protective equipment, and uniforms and outfits, but it makes it more difficult for distributors to prioritize the real need, and they could intentionally and, you know, everybody has proper intentions, but they want to make sure they're 100 percent and sometimes when they know they don't need they want it anyway.
It gives them that extra feeling of satisfaction, but we just can't do that, it's not even possible to think about it. And that's why - and we're a back-up. And remember, we're a back-up. We're the greatest back-up that ever existed for the states. Especially when we start getting into the hospital-building business and getting into the medical center building business.
When you see we've built many hospitals, numerous hospitals in some states and medical centers. That's why my administration's been requesting actual usage numbers directly from the states and hospitals to meet their needs because we want to be ready when the brunt of it comes, which is coming quickly. You see it. You see it as sure as you can see it.
And when the brunt of it comes, we want to be ready to hit the area that needs it. We don't want to have spent everything in one area, and they don't need it there, anywhere near the extent, so let me be extremely clear about one point, we will move heaven and earth to safeguard our great American citizens. We will continue to use every power, every authority, every single resource, we got to keep our people healthy, safe, secure, and to get this thing over with.
We want to finish this war. We have to get back to work. We have to get - we have to open our country again. We have to open our country again. We don't want to be doing this for months and months and months - we are going to open our country again. This country wasn't meant for this, few were, few were. But we have to open our country again.
I just spoke with the commissioner's leaders of - I would say - virtually all of the sport's leagues, Rob Manfred, commissioner of baseball, major league baseball; Roger Goodell, commissioner of the National Football League; Adam Silver, commissioner of the National Basketball Association; Gary Bettman, commissioner of the National Hockey League; Jay Monahan, commissioner of the PGA tour; Cathy Engelberg, commissioner of the Women's National Basketball Association; Dana White, the Ultimate Fighting Championship; Vince McMahon, president of the WWE; Don Garber, commissioner of Major League Soccer; Steve Phelps, president of NASCAR; Michael Whan, commissioner of the LPGA; Roger Penske, found and chairman Penske Corp; and Drew Fleming, president of the Breeders' Cup, and there were a couple of others on.
And these are all the great leaders of sport, and they want to get back, they've got to get back. They can't do this. Their sports weren't designed for it. The whole concept of our nation wasn't designed for it. We're going to have to get back. We want to get back soon, very soon.
For example, and I have to, we're using the Defense Production Act, very powerfully, and sometimes directly and, in many cases, indirectly, just the threat of it's usually enough, but FEMA and HHS have ordered 180 million, think of that, 180 million, who ever heard of 180 million N95 masks and we're working now with 3m to see whether or not that all works out, but we want them to help our country, and I think it's going to be OK.
We're going to soon let you know, but we need the masks. We don't want other people other people getting it. That's why we're - that's why we're instituting a lot of Defense Production Act. You could call it retaliations because that's what it is - it's a retaliation. If people don't - if people don't give us what we need for our people we're going to be very tough, and we've been very tough. Usually we don't have to use it, but we've used it plenty. It's turning out more and more unfortunately.
And it works very well. Our supply chain, logistics task force, led by Admiral John Polowczyk, who's doing a fantastic job will ensure they're distributed to the healthcare and critical infrastructure workers in the areas with the most pressing requirements, that's the 60 million masks that we're talking about, and the 180 million N95 masks, 180 million, whoever heard of 180 million masks.
And this is an incredible thing. A lot of times, and we have to stop playing this game, if a governor wants 200 ventilators, and I say, "no, we're going to send you 1,000, we think you need more than 200," and then the media meets with the governor, and they say, "oh, you got more, well, it's not enough, the president should have sent more."
So, he's asking for 200, we gave him 1,000, they say, "how's the president doing? He should have given more." Because it's politics. It's politics, and that's unfortunate because we can't play that game. And you know, that's one party doing it, and the other party's happy, but they're all really happy because they should have been doing this work themselves for a long period of time. Many of their cupboards were bare.
With respect to the ventilators, FEMA and HHS continue to monitor the data on an hourly basis where provided by the states in order to most effectively target the distribution of supplies. We've been asking states to provide us with daily updates on the number of ventilators and their utilization rates because some states have more ventilators than they need. They don't even like to admit it.
They'll admit it when everything's over, but that's - doesn't help us very much. This data's vitally necessary, so that we can ensure ventilators are getting to the right place at the right time. FMEA, HHS, DOD are developing resources within the next 24 hours, they will have a whole different set of criteria. Every day it's different criteria. Every day this horrible invisible enemy changes a course. It changes course.
If you were fighting the normal fight, you'd know what's happening. Here's - they hit one. They hit another. They hit another state. They hit areas that you didn't expect, but we're watching it, and we're capturing it. Our goal is to stay several days ahead of the needs in each state. [16:30:03]
but we can only do that if the cities and states utilize real time, local knowledge, to provide timely and precise data about actual usage. So we have to be able to do that.
And if a state has ventilators, as an example, that they know they're not going to need, they should give them over and we should move them with the other ones. We have now 10,000 in our pipeline, and stockpiled, 10,000, close, and we're moving some into New York because we're (ph) going to need some additional. We're moving some into New York City and state, separately, and we're bringing them to the point where they'll need them.
I can also report that at my direction, 1,000 military personnel are deploying to New York City to assist where they're needed the most. That's the hottest of all the hot spots.
New Jersey is right there. It's right next to it, and I don't know if that's overflow, but New Jersey is -- it's a great state and it's a very -- it's a crowded state also, where you have people on top of people, it's always tough, but we're bringing some of the ventilators. We got some for New Jersey just yesterday and we're going to bring them some more, including doctors.
We're getting doctors, nurses, respiratory specialists, and other support workers, these are from the military. We're taking people now out of our military. We've been doing it but now we're doing it on a larger basis, and I want to thank Secretary of Defense Esper, who will detail some of what we're doing tomorrow and Monday.
As the situation in Washington state continues to stabilize, we're returning a 300-bed federal medical station to a different location, where we need it, and we appreciate that. They won't be needing it, and we appreciate them letting us know. We're going to move it to a different location. It was already built.
Many governors initially made large requests for federal support for their states in anticipation of a greater number of cases, but the residents of Washington state have done a really good job of following the federal distancing guidelines. They really have.
I'm also pleased to report that Oregon will be spending and sending -- they're spending a lot of money because they really did stockpile well and they're also sending 140 ventilators directly to New York, which we appreciate.
And I want to thank the vice president for the great work he's doing every day, dealing with our nation's governors. Mike Pence has been working day and night on this, and we want to get it over. He's got to get a little more sleep than he's getting. He hasn't been getting very much, I will tell you that.
And we're all in this together, and it's a beautiful thing to see how people are joining forces to help one another. They really are. In addition to our courageous doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers,
I also want to thank the incredible food supply workers who are feeding our nation.
I spoke just a little while ago to Senator Boozman. You know Senator Boozman, we all do. He's a great senator, he's a great person.
We spoke just this morning, and we discussed how important it is to keep our farmers and ranchers, processors and distributors in our nation's prayers, and I want to thank the senator for the incredible job he's been doing.
And a lot of the senators and congressmen, and everyone -- everybody's working very hard.
My administration is working very aggressively to pioneer new medical countermeasures to treat and prevent infection, working on a lot of things. We must utilize our nation's scientific brilliance to vanquish the virus. We have to vanquish the virus as quickly as we can, because we have a lot of things happening in this country, and we have a great future, but we have to get back to work.
This week, the FDA established the Coronavirus Treatment Accelerator Program, which is expediting the development of new antiviral and other therapies and they're doing it on a very rapid basis. And I think we're having some very good results, and we'll tell you about that.
HHS continues to speed the development of therapies derived from human blood that have the potential to lessen the severity or shorten the length of the illness.
And as you know, last Saturday, the FDA also gave emergency authorization for hydroxychloroquine.
And the hydroxychloroquine -- I hope it's going to be a very important answer. We're having some very good things happening with it and we're going to be distributing it through the Strategic National Stockpile.
It's going into the Strategic National Stockpile to treat certainly patients and we have millions and millions of doses of it, 29 million to be exact. In addition to that, we're making it, and we're also getting it from various other locations and countries.
In one case, I called Prime Minister Modi of India this morning. They make large amounts of hydroxychloroquine, very large amounts, frankly. And I said -- they had a hold because, you know, they have 1.5 billion people, and they think a lot of it and I said, I'd appreciate it if they would release the amounts that we ordered and they are giving it serious consideration. But they do make -- India makes a lot of it.
But we have already 29 million -- if you look, I mean, that's a big number, 29 million doses. And we've got millions of doses that are being made here and many millions of doses that are made elsewhere that are being shipped here, and it will be arriving.
We're just hearing really positive stories and we're continuing to collect the data, but I'll just speak for myself. It's been out for a long time, it's a malaria drug. It's also a drug for lupus. And there's a -- there's a study out that people with lupus aren't catching this horrible virus, they're not -- they're not affected so much by it.
Now, maybe that's correct, maybe it's false. You're going to have to check it out. But there's a lot of very positive things happening with that. That's a game-changer if that's the case.
Obviously, we continue to work on the vaccines, but the vaccines have to be down the road by probably 14, 15, 16 months. We're doing great on the vaccines. I think Johnson & Johnson is leading -- seems to be leading in terms of the studies but we'll see what happens but I feel good about that but that's down the road.
But tremendous promise with what's just been mentioned. In addition to that, Gilead Sciences has initiated a phase three, that's down the line, meaning, clinical studies of the drug remdesivir. Now, it's approximately 1,000 patients, which is a pretty -- a pretty good study. Other drugs are also being studied, and patients.
And this week, Oracle, great company, donated a new web portal. Larry Ellison, amazing guy -- and platform to the government to gather real- time data on how patients are responding to the various new treatments, and they have a very sophisticated site and we'll be learning a lot from Oracle, and thank you to them.
We're also spending economic dollars like you wouldn't believe and speeding economic relief to American workers, families, and businesses. Yesterday, the Small Business Administration launched the Paycheck Protection Program to help employees keep paying their workers. In 24 hours, the Small Business Administration and over 1,200 lending partners processed over 28,000 loans. It's so far ahead of schedule, and billions and billions of dollars.
It's worked out incredibly well, and I want to thank Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase and a lot of the big banks that have been involved and a lot of the community banks. Community banks have really jumped on it. And it's, so far, going way ahead of schedule.
The SBA also clarified that faith-based organizations, including houses of worship, are eligible for the Paycheck Protection Program. That's great. As well as the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program that you're familiar with on the same terms as every other applicant.
If we run out of funding for the Employee Retention Program, I will immediately ask Congress for more money. This is money that's really going directly to the people that need it, the small businesses that need it, and the workers that need it.
Finally, I can -- because when we open, we want to open strong with businesses that are going. Remember, we're the greatest economy in the world and then one day, we were told we've got to shut it down, stop it, tell everyone to stay home because of this horrible virus. And we did that, and we did the right thing, but now we have to open. We have to open our country.
Finally, I can report that as of today, the State Department has successfully coordinated the safe return of more than 40,000 Americans stuck abroad on over 400 flights from 75 countries, many of those countries were terrific in helping us.
And I appreciate that very much.
Some of them, I had to call the leaders of the country, most of whom I know, and once I did, they snapped like you wouldn't believe. They really helped us great, so I appreciate that.
So, we brought back 40,000 Americans who were literally stuck in some countries with no chance of getting out, and we got them back -- 400 flights, 75 countries. Think of that. And those countries in almost every instance had a big problem with the virus.
I want to thank the American people, most of all, for the selfless sacrifices that they're making for our nation. I know it's not pleasant, although some people have said they've gotten to know their family better, and they love their family more than ever, and that's a beautiful thing. They've actually gotten to know them. They're in the same house with their family for a long time. I guess it can also work the other way, perhaps, but we don't want to talk about that.
And I want to encourage everyone to keep following our guidelines on slowing the spread. Sustaining this war effort is -- and that's what it is, this is a war effort -- it's the patriotic duty of every citizen. While we may be more physically distant for a time, we're closer together in the heart and in the spirit. And through this great national unity is happening -- we're having a great unity developing that a lot of people didn't think would be possible to develop like this.
And we will conquer the disease and restore our nation to its full and glorious might. We're doing really well, and I'm very proud of everybody out there. We're very proud of you. It's something that nobody could have ever projected.
It's been over 100 years that a thing like this has happened. And the problem with this one is the contagion. It's so contagious. Nobody's ever seen anything like that, where it's so contagious.
You can be feet away and just talking to somebody and catch it. You can catch it -- you know how long it can live on surfaces. So, things that nobody even thought of, the level of contagion.
So, we're getting there. We're going to make sure that it's over soon. And just keep going. It's not going to be long.
And thank you very much.
And with that, I'd like to ask Dr. Hahn to speak and he's been doing yeoman's work at the FDA. Thank you very much.
Doctor? Thank you. Thank you.
DR. STEPHEN HAHN, FDA COMMISSIONER: Thank you, Mr. President.
I'm going to speak about hydroxychloroquine and the efforts around that.
Just to preface, I'd like to echo what the president said about the American people and the resiliency and the just terrific work, mitigation is such an important part of our fight against the COVID-19 virus.
Last week, as the president said, we issued an emergency use authorization to allow the donated hydroxychloroquine to come into the country and enter the general circulation. We are prioritizing this drug to come in for clinical trials, also to general use for physicians because as you know, physicians, based upon their interaction with the patients, their assessment of the risks and benefits, can write a prescription for hydroxychloroquine if they think it's appropriate for the patient.
Being a physician, we do this all the time. And that assessment needs to be done between a patient and a doctor.
And then the third portion is, we wanted to make sure that these drugs were in the circulation, in the supply chain so that people who have them or need them for the other indications, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, have them available. So that was the purpose of the emergency use authorization.
One other thing I'd like to mention is that we on Friday stood up a formal convalescent plasma program. We have a great deal of enthusiasm for that. There are some reports that this is of benefit to patients in other countries who have had the COVID-19 virus.
And what this means is taking plasma from patients who have had the virus and who have recovered and transferring the immunity, the immunoglobulins, the immunity from that person to someone who's sick, and we're hopefully expanding that across the country. The Red Cross is involved in that program and I think it shows great promise.
It needs to be studied like other things but just like I said before, it provides hope. We don't want to provide false hope but definitely hope.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIAID DIRECTOR: Thank you very much, Mr. President.
I'd like to just take a couple of moments to talk a little bit about the public health aspects and how it relates to what the president just said about the need for us to begin to at least think about returning to some degree of normality. And that has to do with what's going to be happening as we end this week and we go into next week.
You will be seeing, and we should not be surprised, because the kinetics of how this virus works, is that we're going to be seeing that there are going to be deaths that are going to continue to go up.
But as I mentioned to this group and to the general public multiple times, there really is a cascading of events, where you have new cases, hospitalizations, intensive care, and deaths. So at the same time that we may be seeing an increase in deaths, we want to focus on the effect of mitigation is really the number of new cases. And that's what we're going to be thinking about and looking about. So we're going to pay close attention to that, and hopefully the kinds of mitigations that we're talking about are going to have the impact to allow us to begin to think about maybe changing a bit.
So the question arises is, is the mitigation working? So let's look historically, and then (they) just look at the reality of it. Clearly in the countries, China included, that have implemented since very strict kinds of programs of mitigation, clearly it works. In our own country, we've seen indication of that in Washington. Remember, Washington state was the first to get hit. But they put in a really good program of mitigation, and if you look at the charts that Dr. Birx showed the other day, they're still down there doing well.
And the reason is, again, what I've said before, but I think it's worth reiterating, that we have two opposing forces here -- the virus, which (is) wants to do what the virus wants to do. Viruses transmit from people to people. When people are separated from each other, virus does not transmit. It doesn't go anywhere.
And that's the reason why something as simple as the physical separation -- because if you look at the vice president's chart that he shows all the time here from this podium, every aspect of that ending the COVID outbreak in 30 days has some aspect of it of physical separation. Whether that's avoiding crowds, whether that's staying six feet away from people, whether that's doing teleworking -- all of it does that. That's our most important tool. We'll be talking about vaccines, and drugs, and things like that that will mitigate later, but this is what we really have to do.
And I want to -- I want to actually just plea as I do multiple times from here to the American public. You know, as sobering and as difficult as this is, what we are doing is making a difference. So we really need to continue to do that. I must tell you, I was just mentioning to the vice president as we came in. Last night, when I wasn't here, I went out with my wife and actually did a little power walking down Massachusetts Avenue -- for those who live in Washington know what I'm talking about. And we passed a couple of restaurants where people were getting takeout food. The restaurants were closed to people going in, but they were open to takeout.
And I saw something that absolutely made me feel really, really good. They were separating themselves by at least six feet. In fact, some of the restaurants had little things on the floor that said, "Stand here, and then stand there." And I think if we, as a nation, pull together to do that, hopefully when we keep coming back here at these press conferences, we'll be able to show you that that curve that we keep talking about is going in the right direction. And I'd be happy to answer questions later. Thank you.
TRUMP: Thank you. OK, please.
QUESTION: You said earlier that the virus is springing up in areas you did not expect. Yesterday, you said, "Some states in the country are not in jeopardy." The fact that this is unpredictable, isn't that an argument for every state to have one of these stay-at-home warnings?
TRUMP: I don't think so. Look, there are some states that are -- you have great distance, natural distance, big land, few people, and they're in very good shape. And if there is a case, they can quarantine that person, or that person will be separated -- will be brought to a hospital, a secure area. So you do have different cases, as opposed to a New York or Los Angeles -- Los Angeles is doing incredibly well, by the way -- but areas where you have lots of people tight together, it's a big difference. So, no, it's a -- they're different, there are many different cases. Please.
QUESTION: Mr. President, you mentioned military off the top. So 1,000 troops going to New York, and then are we expecting other mass deployments around the country? And then is it just Army, is it?
TRUMP: No, not mass -- many of the places are really in great shape. They're in -- they really have done a fantastic job, and we may add to the 1,000. But New York will be getting about 1,000 military people -- nurses, doctors, lots of other people -- because that's what they need.
QUESTION: Medical military -- not combat troops.
TRUMP: And that's medical -- no, no, medical military. Medical military. Please.
QUESTION: Sir, you tweeted earlier today that you like the idea of a second coronavirus task force that was focused on reopening the economy.
TRUMP: Thinking about it.
QUESTION: So, I was wondering if you were planning to go forward with that --
TRUMP: Thinking about it, getting a group of people. And we have to open our country. You know, I had an expression, "The cure can't be worse than the problem itself," right?
I started by saying that, and I continue to say it. The cure cannot be worse than the problem itself. We got to get our country open.
QUESTION: Mr. President, in terms of reopening, can you talk about your call with the sports commissioners? Did you say you'd like to see people back, fans back in arenas as soon as August?
TRUMP: Absolutely, I want -- I want fans back in the arenas. I think it's -- I think it's --
QUESTION: By August, you said? Is that safe?
TRUMP: No, by whenever we're ready. I mean, as soon as we can, obviously. And the fans want to be back, too. You know, they want to see basketball, and baseball, and football, and hockey. They want to see their sports. They want to go out onto the golf courses and breathe nice, clean, beautiful fresh air. No, the fans --
QUESTION: (When do you think that people are) coming back? Based on those comments, (it's soon).
TRUMP: I can't tell you -- I can't tell you a date, but I think it's going to be sooner rather than later. And, you know, we're not going to have to have separation for the rest of our times on the planet. We need it for this period of time, but eventually, people are going to be able to occupy those seats in arenas, next to each other, like we have for all of my life and all of your life. They want to sit next to each other at restaurants.
They don't want to be, you know, six feet away, and -- some restaurant man called up, he said, "Yes, I worried, because I have a small restaurant with not too many seats." I think he said 120. And he said, "If I practice what this is, I'm down to 30 seats. I can't make it." I said, "Don't worry about it. That's for a short period of time. You'll be back to your number of seats." We can't do that, otherwise you're making everything -- that means your stadium is half the size of what it was a month ago. No, no, they're going to be close together, but they're going to be breathing air that's not infected, that's not going to kill people. Please.
QUESTION: Since you're not (committing) to pack the stadiums by August, what are your contingency plans?
TRUMP: Well, I'm not committing to it. I'm not committing to it. We're going to see where we are. That'd be great if we could. But we're going to be back to good health soon, in my opinion. We're making a lot of progress, and we're making progress because, as Tony told the story about the restaurant and about how they were separated sort of automatically -- people are doing that.
People are doing that. They're staying in their homes. They don't want to go out. They're doing what they know is the right thing to do. It's not very complicated. It's -- in many ways, it's a very beautiful thing to see. Yes?
QUESTION: (How about your) contingency plans for the Republican National Convention?
TRUMP: We have no contingency plan. We're having the convention at the end of August, and we think by the end of August, we'll be in good shape. We have no contingency -- you know, it's going to be in North Carolina, as you know, in Charlotte, and I think we're going to have a great convention. I notice, I think we had an opponent, but I -- I almost didn't know who it was. He got .00001 percent of the vote, but I heard he dropped out three or four weeks ago. I'm not sure, maybe you could tell me. That's the kind of opponent I had. And hopefully we have another one just like that in Joe.
QUESTION: Mr. President, this weekend, lawmakers are working on the next round of (release) packages. What was not in the stimulus package that you signed last week that you would like to see in phase four?
TRUMP: Well, I think we're going to need more money for the small businesses. It's been working out so well. It's been so efficient. The banks have been doing an incredible job. I think we're going to need more money there. I think, you know, we'll see, but based on the first -- the first couple of days, it's been incredible. I think that restaurants and entertainment -- that would include sports leagues, all forms of entertainment -- go back to the original -- where they get tax deductibility for what they're doing, and for people coming in and buy tickets or go out for meals.
And corporations can then send people into these restaurants, who are going to have a hard time, otherwise, opening, in my opinion. And that could be the same for the sports leagues. So we want to see -- for entertainment and for restaurants -- deductibility so that corporations can take a deduction. They'll send their executives, they'll send people there, and they get a deduction. That is something that will really bring life back to the restaurants -- I think, make them hotter than before. You know, they used to have it. And when they ended it, it was really never the same. It was never the same. Yes, please.
QUESTION: Mr. President, you've said that you want to see as few lives lost as possible in the pandemic. But there are still eight governors, all Republicans, who have refused to issue these statewide stay-at- home orders. Your own experts, including Dr. Fauci, have said, "Stay- at-home orders are the most effective way to stop the spread of this virus." So why not do everything possible and encourage those governors right now to do that?
TRUMP: Yes, we have a thing called the Constitution, which I cherish, number one. Number two, those governors, I know every one of them. They're doing a great job. They're being very, very successful in what they're doing. And, as you know, I want the governors to be running things. Now, in some cases, we'll (supersede), but in this case, it's not --
QUESTION: Do you think they should? I'm not asking for you to order them to, but --
TRUMP: I think it depends -- it depends on the individual state that you're talking about.
But they're doing very well, and they're doing a magnificent job in running their states.
QUESTION: Well, South Carolina has 1,700 cases right now of coronavirus. Utah has 1,255. I mean, are these not states that you think should have those stay-at-home orders in place?
TRUMP: I think they're doing a great job. Well, that's a very small number relative to population.
QUESTION: It's larger than some states that do have stay-at-home orders already in place.
TRUMP: It's OK, that's just -- it's up to the -- if I saw something wrong, if I saw a massive breakout, of which that's not, I would come down very hard. But --
QUESTION: Isn't the key in this pandemic getting ahead of those numbers, though?
TRUMP: No, not in that case. But in the case -- I know the states you're talking about. By the way, I think you're up to 92 percent is covered -- 92 percent of the country is covered. And from a constitutional standpoint, they made the difference. They call the shots. Yes, Jeff, go ahead?
QUESTION: Mr. President, just a question about messaging. You and the others here are saying, "People need to continue following the mitigation efforts." But you're also saying, again, "The cure must not be worse than the problem." Which is it?
TRUMP: No, I'm just saying, we have to get this country open, Jeff. It has to get open. This country was not designed to be closed. So we have the greatest we've ever had, and then we're paying people to stay home? Well, think of it, we're paying people not to go to work. How about that? How does that play?
QUESTION: I understand that, (sir) --
TRUMP: And they want to go to work, by the way. They don't even want -- they don't want money. This country is great. But we're paying people -- we have to get back to work, that's what I'm saying.
QUESTION: Mr. President?
TRUMP: Go ahead, please.
QUESTION: Mr. President, this is off topic. It's about the announcement from last night, it's a yes or no question -- not that we expect the answer to be yes or no. But wasn't Michael Atkinson doing the job of the Inspector General of the intelligence community -- the job he was supposed to do -- when he simply took the whistleblower complaint to Congress, in what hadn't been taken previously? Wasn't he doing the job that he was supposed to do, that American taxpayers were paying him to do? And why did you decide to terminate (him)?
TRUMP: I thought he did a terrible job -- absolutely terrible. He took a whistleblower report, which turned out to be a fake report -- it was fake. It was totally wrong -- it was about my conversation with the president of Ukraine. He took a fake report, and he brought it to Congress, with an emergency, OK? Not a big Trump fan, that I can tell you.
Instead of saying -- and we offered this to him -- no, no, we will take the conversation. Fortunately, we had a transcript. If we didn't have a transcript with the kind of deception and dishonesty that were practiced by the Democrats, I might not be standing here right now, OK? Fortunately, we had a transcript, and it was a perfect transcript because even the lieutenant colonel admitted it was correct, OK? Wait a minute, wait a minute, you asked a question.
So he took this whistleblower -- and I keep saying, where's the whistleblower, right? And why was the whistleblower allowed to do this? Why was he allowed to be -- you call it fraudulent or incorrect transcript. So we offered this IG -- I don't know him, I don't think I ever met him. I don't think I -- he never even came in to see me. How can you do that without seeing the person? He never came in to see me, never requested to see me. He took this terrible, inaccurate whistleblower report, right, and he brought it to Congress.
We offered to have him see my exact conversation -- it was all about the conversation, by the way. That was the whole thing -- it was about the conversation, right? And then after he saw it, he must have said, "Wow." Because -- as I've said it many times, and it drives you people crazy -- it was a perfect conversation. So instead of going and saying, "Gee, this is a terrible thing he said about the president's conversation." Well, it was a fraud. I didn't say that. And by the way, you have the whistleblower -- where's the informer, right?
And here's another question. Remember, before I did the -- before I gave the transcript -- in other words, before I revealed the real conversation -- where's the second whistleblower? Remember the second whistle -- wait, wait, wait, wait. There was going to be a second whistleblower. But after I gave the conversation, he just went away. He miraculously went away. Where's the informer? Because there was going to be this informer. Maybe Schiff was the informer -- you ever think of that? He's a corrupt guy, he's a corrupt politician.
So listen, I say this, "Where's the informer?" Remember, the informer was coming forward. But I gave -- because, see, I did one thing that surprised everybody. This gentleman right here said, "Boy, that was a shocker." I revealed the conversation. I got approval from Ukraine, because I didn't want to do it without their approval.
And they said, "Absolutely, you did nothing wrong." By the way, president of Ukraine, foreign minister, said, "He did nothing wrong." And over that, with 196-to-nothing vote by the Republicans -- not one dissenting Republican vote -- dishonest Democrats impeached a president of the United States. That man is a disgrace to IGs. All right, let's go next. Please.
QUESTION: Mr. President --
QUESTION: Mr. President, did you --
TRUMP: He's a total disgrace.
QUESTION: Did you run by your decision to dismiss the inspector general by senator --
TRUMP: OK, we'll get off this.