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White House Holds Coronavirus Task Force Briefing; Coronavirus Death Toll Tops 10,000 In U.S. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired April 6, 2020 - 18:00   ET

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


[18:00:00]

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And so, we're in another situation, as this briefing is just getting started, Wolf, where the president is saying one thing, and the facts say otherwise.

It does sound as though the president is sort of seizing on Illinois Governor Pritzker at this moment. He was just accusing the governor of essentially complaining to the press, and then telling the White House that everything is great and that he's happy and everything is just fine.

And so the week has just started, and the president is going out into this briefing making misstatements about the availability of medical equipment across the country and attacking governors once again.

It's something that we have seen throughout this entire crisis, Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: You know, Gloria, I'm anxious to see, when the question-and-answer session starts at this briefing, if the president is going to let Dr. Anthony Fauci -- well, actually, let's go to the briefing.

I think that that --

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I spoke with leaders of the American pharmaceutical companies, and just to give you their names, Amgen, Genentech, Gilead, Regeneron.

These are four of the greatest in the world for doing exactly what they're doing. And, currently, 10 therapeutic agents are in active trials, and some are looking incredibly successful. But we have to go through a process. And it's going to be a fairly quick process, I will tell you, based on what the FDA told me.

And another 15 are in plans for clinical trials. So, they're advancing rapidly. And, today, a second company announced that the FDA has authorized its vaccine candidate to begin clinical trials. So, you have Johnson & Johnson is already there. I believe they're the one that's first.

And now we have a second company that just -- just announced. And we were just -- it was just approved. So, we have two companies at that level for the vaccine itself.

We have now performed 100 -- well, if you think of this, 1.79 million tests. That's 1,790,000 tests nationwide. And I think we're going to put up a screen here someplace. Good. They're on cue. They're just on cue.

And here it is. This is the process starting on 5 March and ending right there right about now, right? That's about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yesterday.

TRUMP: So -- and it's going up at a rapid rate.

Nobody has done more testing. And one of the reasons why they say -- and I think I can say this, Deborah, very strongly, but one of the reasons that we have more cases is, we have done more -- more testing. If I went to some of these countries that have, in my opinion, far more people than we do that had the problem, and if we did the kind of testing proportionally that we're doing, they'd have many more cases than us.

But we have more cases because we do much more testing. So, when you do the testing, you have cases. Otherwise, you wouldn't know about the cases. People sit home, and you don't know about it.

But we have now done 1,790,000 tests nationwide. That's more than any other country in the world. Hence, we have more cases. And that number is growing by nearly 125,000 people per day. Think of that one. So, it's growing by 125,000 people per day.

I told you about South Korea. This is a vastly faster -- and we also have, they say, the most accurate of tests. CVS is launching -- and they have been great -- two new drive-through testing sites in Atlanta, Georgia, and Providence, Rhode Island.

And each location will be able to test up to 1,000 patients per day using the ultra-fast five-minute test developed by Abbott Labs. Now they're down to five minutes. They go it the ultra-fast. And it's very accurate.

Abbott Labs, I want to thank them. They have been fantastic. We're also speeding urgent economic relief to the American worker and families and the employers. As of today, tens of thousands of small businesses applied for more than $40 billion in relief, under the Paycheck Protection Program. You have all been reading about it.

And it's really -- I mean, it's only been going for a couple of days. It's really been performing well, a couple of little glitches, minor glitches that have already been taken care of, what they say.

These funds will result in nearly two million jobs being preserved. So, we're taking care of our workers, small businesses and our workers. Nearly 3,000 lenders have already made loans under the program.

And we're signing up additional lenders very quickly, rapidly. Community banks have been very responsive. And larger banks are also stepping up.

If this -- if we run out of funds -- by the way, we're already preparing, because it's going so fast, for the small businesses and their employees -- we will ask Congress to refill it immediately.

[18:05:02]

But the banks have been great. The big banks, the -- Bank of America was right up there at the beginning. J.P. Morgan Chase was -- was -- has been great. After the first day, they really -- they really came through, and a lot of the big banks, but the community banks have been fantastic.

As we announced last week, we are providing $100 billion in direct support for our hospitals.

BLITZER: All right, we're going to continue to monitor the president's opening statement.

Once the experts start speaking, once the questions and answers begin, we will go back to that briefing.

And, in the meantime, let's squeeze in a very quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: All right, let's go back to the White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing.

The questioning has started.

QUESTION: You mentioned that you were asking U.S. drug companies to provide treatment to the British prime minister. What sort of treatment is that? Is that something that is available to the American public?

TRUMP: Well, it's a very -- yes, it's a very complex treatment of things that they have just recently developed, and that they have a lot of experience with having to do with something else, but recent for this.

And there will be -- they have already concurred. They have already had meetings with the doctors. And we will see whether or not they want to go that route.

But when you're in intensive care, it's a big deal. So, they're there, and they're ready. I think we have all -- we have three of them. I spoke with four. You know who the four would be.

And, you know, the people within those, you probably -- you would know the companies. I told you the companies. But the people are the greatest -- the greatest in the world. So they're at the hospital. And we will see.

[18:10:00] And they have -- they have everything with them, should it be needed. Hopefully -- hopefully, it won't have to be needed, but should it be needed.

I just -- I have found him -- I have found Boris to be a fantastic person, just, like, a fantastic, warm, strong, smart guy. He loves his country. You see that. I mean, he fought like -- like hell for his country.

And intensive care is big stuff, really big stuff.

QUESTION: Yesterday, you were asked about this as well.

But now that he's been moved to intensive care, does that give you and the vice president any pause or additional concerns, steps that you're taking to preserve the continuity of government here?

TRUMP: Well, I -- no, I don't think so.

Mike had his test couple of days ago. I had my test couple of days ago. So -- and we're here, and here you are. So, no, I don't think so.

But I think we will probably -- just because of questions like that, I think we will probably have maybe quite a few tests. It's not the worst idea.

You know, the -- the system of testing now is so quick and so easy. So, I could see -- and you were tested again today? You sure you're OK?

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm OK.

TRUMP: (OFF-MIKE)

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

TRUMP: Yes.

QUESTION: Mr. President, despite the nearly 1.8 million tests that you say the United States has done, the inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services released a report today, a survey of more than 300 hospitals across the country.

And the number one complaint from those hospitals were severe shortages of testing supplies and a really long wait time.

TRUMP: Well, that's just wrong. That's just wrong.

QUESTION: I mean, a week or longer.

TRUMP: Did I hear the word inspector general? Really?

It's wrong. And they will talk to you about it. It's wrong.

QUESTION: But this is your own government.

TRUMP: It's -- well, where did he come from, the inspector general? What's his name?

QUESTION: It came from the inspector general report...

TRUMP: No, what's his name?

QUESTION: I don't know his name off the top of his head.

TRUMP: Well, find me his name. Let me know, OK? If you find his name, I'd appreciate it.

QUESTION: But, sir, these are hospitals that do not -- sir --

TRUMP: All I can tell you is this.

We put up on the board --

QUESTION: These are hospitals --

TRUMP: You're going to ask -- you're going to ask the admiral. But we are doing --

QUESTION: Sir, these are hospitals who say that they're waiting a week or longer to get their test results. Why is this still taking so long?

TRUMP: You will speak to the admiral.

But we have done more testing and had more results than any country anywhere in the world. They're doing an incredible job. Now they're all calling us. They want our testing. What are we doing? How do you do the five-minute test? How do you do the 15-minute test?

So, give me the name of the inspector general. Could politics be entered into that?

Go ahead, please.

QUESTION: This is our --

TRUMP: Go ahead.

QUESTION: Thank you, sir.

Are you worried about retaliation to your decision to ban export of medical goods, like Indian Prime Minister Modi's decision to not export hydroxychloroquine to the United States and other countries?

TRUMP: I don't like that decision, if that's -- I don't -- I didn't hear that that was his decision.

I know that he stopped it for other countries. I spoke to him yesterday. We had a very good talk. And we will see whether or not that is his -- I would be surprised if he would, you know, because India does very well with the United States.

For many years, they have been taking advantage of the United States on trade. So I would be surprised if that were his decision. He'd have to tell me that. I spoke to him Sunday morning, called him. And I said, we appreciate your allowing our supply to come out.

If he doesn't allow it to come out, that would be OK. But, of course, there may be retaliation. Why wouldn't there be?

Yes, please.

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President.

The Paycheck Protection Program has gotten off to a confusing start for small businesses, because...

TRUMP: I don't think so. I think it's done very well.

QUESTION: Well, Wells Fargo has stopped taking applications. Bank of America --

TRUMP: Not anymore, they haven't.

QUESTION: -- initially prioritized taking applications from clients that were already borrowers.

TRUMP: Bank of America has been the leader, taken tremendous numbers of applications.

And, of course, there may have been -- they wanted to have a slightly different application. They wanted to have a little different information. But Bank of America has been a leader. They are number one in terms of applications.

I wish you would ask the question differently. What don't you say, it's gotten off to a tremendous start, but there are some little glitches, which, by the way, have been worked out? It would be so much nicer if you would do that.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: But you're just incapable of asking a question in a positive way.

QUESTION: Sir, what oversight measures is the federal government putting in place to ensure that there is fairness?

TRUMP: It's already done. It's already done.

It's taken the measures. It's taken the measures. And we may even do a different system, not with this. We're going to have to probably add more money to this to save and to keep our small businesses going and to keep the employees of those small businesses working.

But it's such a positive event. And you ask it in such a negative way. It's just I wish -- I wish we had a fair media in this country. And we really don't.

Speaking of unfair, go ahead.

QUESTION: Mr. President, the acting secretary of the Navy told the crew of the USS Roosevelt that Captain Crozier was either -- quote -- "too naive or too stupid" to be in command.

Is it appropriate for the chief officer of the Navy to speak in this way about this captain?

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Well, I haven't heard it exactly. I haven't heard -- I heard they had a -- a statement that was made.

If that were the statement, it's a strong statement.

Look, the letters shouldn't have been sent. And, certainly, they shouldn't have been leaked. This is a military operation.

[18:15:01]

I must tell you, I have heard very good things about the gentleman -- both gentlemen, by the way. I will say this, but -- about both gentlemen.

And I may look into it, only from the standpoint that something should be resolved, because I am hearing good things about both people.

QUESTION: What might you look into, sir?

TRUMP: I may just get involved, if it's OK with you.

QUESTION: Who? You mean --

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Yes, because you know what? You have two good people, and they are arguing.

And I'm good, believe it or not, at settling arguments. I'm good at settling these arguments. So, I may look into it in great detail -- in detail. And I will be able to figure it out very fast.

But that was a statement. It's a rough statement, but --

QUESTION: Might you reinstate him if you decide it was --

TRUMP: But, look, look, look, letters should not have been sent to many people, unclassified. That was a mistake.

It's a mistake that shouldn't have been made, because it's unfair to the families on the ship, because they get nervous. And it shows weakness. And there is nothing weak about us now, not anymore.

We have the strongest military we have ever had. And we're not going to be showing weakness to anybody, because we have -- that ship is incredible, nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. And we don't want to be doing -- writing letters. We don't want to have letter-writing campaigns, where the fake news finds a letter or gets a leak. We don't want that.

So, the letter --

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Excuse me.

So, the letter shouldn't have been sent.

With all of that said, his career prior to that was very good. So I'm going to get involved and see exactly what's going on there, because I don't want to destroy somebody for having a bad day, OK? Does that make sense?

OK.

QUESTION: Mr. President, Vice President Biden's spokesperson said that he made some suggestions to you about actions that you could be taking to deal with the pandemic.

TRUMP: He did. He did.

We had a very good talk. We agreed that we weren't going to talk about what we said. But we had a very, very good talk. It was a warm talk. I enjoyed it. I hope he enjoyed it too. And it was short. It was 15 minutes.

QUESTION: Did he have good suggestions, anything that you're going to do?

TRUMP: Well, he had suggestions. It doesn't mean that I agree with those suggestions, but, certainly, he had suggestions.

And I also told him some of the things we're doing. But the conversation was a friendly, very friendly conversation.

Yes, please. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Thanks a lot, Mr. President.

You have mentioned, other members of your task force have mentioned over the course of the next two weeks it's going to be a very difficult time for our country in terms of fatalities.

And there...

TRUMP: Well, it will be a difficult week-and-a-half.

QUESTION: Yes.

And there are a number of governors who are close allies of yours, Mr. President, who have refrained thus far to have these stay-at-home orders.

And Dr. Fauci, who, of course, is on your task force, has said that...

TRUMP: True.

QUESTION: -- it would -- the states that don't have stay-at-home orders are putting themselves at risk and the country at risk.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Well, look, if Dr. Fauci said that, I would be inclined to call them up.

You know, we do have a constitutional problem in doing that. You understand that. I mean, there's a double -- there's a double-edged sword, you understand.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: I can do it, but it is a constitutional -- you can say federalist. You can say there's lots of different reasons where I would rather have the governors do it, make their own determination.

They're smaller, and not in all cases, but sort of they're smaller cases. But I'm not sure 100 percent that Dr. Fauci said that. But you can ask him.

Tony, do you want to say something? Please.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIAID DIRECTOR: So, I had -- I had good conversations with the governor of Nebraska and the governor of Iowa here.

And it's interesting that, functionally, even though they have not given a strict stay-at-home, what they are doing is really functionally equivalent to that.

And I -- and we had a really good conversation with both of the governors. And it -- when I had mentioned that, I think there was a public response that they weren't really doing anything at all, and they really are doing a very good job, both of them. Those are the only two that I spoke to, but it was really good conversation.

And I want to make sure people understand that, just because they don't have a very strict stay-at-home order, they have in place a lot of things that are taught totally compatible with what everyone else is doing.

QUESTION: If I can ask question of Dr. Fauci before...

TRUMP: Go ahead.

QUESTION: About getting back to normal, you said you wanted to get back to normal as soon as possible.

Will we truly get back to normal in this country before there's an actual vaccine that's available to everybody? What -- and how do you start lifting the restrictions?

FAUCI: Yes.

Well, Jon, if back to normal means acting like there never was a coronavirus problem, I don't think that's going to happen until we do have a situation where you can completely protect the population.

But when we say getting back to normal, we mean something very different from what we're going through right now, because, right now, we are in a very intense mitigation.

When we get back to normal, we will go back gradually to the point where we can function as a society.

But you're absolutely right. I mean, if you want to get to pre- coronavirus, that might not ever happen, in the sense of the fact that the threat is there. But I believe, with the therapies that will be coming online, and with the fact that I feel confident that, over a period of time, we will get a good vaccine, that we will never have to get back to where we are right back now.

[18:20:11]

So, if that means getting back to normal, then we will get back to normal.

QUESTION: Dr. Fauci...

TRUMP: I think that, with the therapies, and I think that, with the vaccines, which I have total confidence are coming -- and I'm dealing with the companies.

I'm talking to Johnson & Johnson. I'm talking to all of them. I think that, when you add the tremendous stimulus that we're giving, like, for instance, deductibility for restaurant expenses for restaurants and entertainment, the money that we're talking about for small businesses and employees to keep everybody working, and other things that we're, frankly, working on right now which are going to be great for our people, I think, when you add that to it, I think we can get more than back to normal from an economic standpoint, actually be better, but more than back to normal.

But I would agree that we'd love to see a vaccine, but, immediately, we would love to see a therapeutic. And I think we're getting very close.

QUESTION: You think you will be able to lift restrictions on April 30? Right now...

(CROSSTALK)

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

But I can tell you that we certainly want to try. We certainly want to see what -- what's going on. We're doing very well.

Look, you look at those -- you look at most places where that -- you can call it the bump, you can call it the hill, you can call it the mountain, you can call it whatever you want to do. It's very flat. You take a look, and that was done through mitigation. That was done through a lot of good work. And that far exceeded our expectations before. I mean, you -- people

can't even believe how -- how low some of those bumps are, some of those hills are. They're very surprised. They have a couple of tough ones. New Jersey has been very tough and New York has been very tough. They're crowded in. It's tight. It's tougher.

But we're far exceeding. California far exceeds. Washington state far exceeds. You look at so many of these states, how well they're doing.

The eight states, by the way -- and I haven't spoken to the governors, but Tony is so right. They may not have it from the standpoint that they're saying it, but those people are practicing it. And they're doing a fantastic job. Take a look at where they are in terms of the levels.

But take a look where they are. So -- but if I thought it was something that -- and I have looked at them, and I have looked at them very carefully, looked at them today, looked at them yesterday.

From a constitutional standpoint, I'd love not to get involved with that, and not from a legal standpoint, just from a moral, constitutional standpoint, because, legally, I -- I can. But, morally, I -- I believe in our Constitution, much more so than most people.

And I'd love to be able to let the governors do what they have to do. Those states are doing a fantastic job, all eight of them. They're doing a fantastic job.

So, we will see what happens. As for your question, you fully understand what I'm saying. So, thank you.

Yes, please.

QUESTION: Hi. Two questions, if I may, one from somebody outside the room.

But, first (OFF-MIKE) do you think Boris Johnson, when he talked about shaking hands of hospital patients, did he downplay the threat of this virus too much? And do you know exactly what his current condition is?

TRUMP: Well, think Boris was looking at it differently. He was looking at it earlier.

He was looking at it like, ride it out. There were many people thinking about riding it out, meaning, whatever it is, it is.

But then you see what starts to happen, and the numbers become monumental. And they decide not to do that.

We actually moved early. We moved early because of what we did with respect to the ban on China coming in, and then Europe coming in. That was an early ban, too, and then U.K.

So, no, he -- he waited a little while. And he -- he felt that. But he got -- he -- he made a decision very quickly thereafter to do what they did. And they -- they have gone through a very strict lockdown. But they're suffering greatly as a nation right now. They're going through a lot.

They're -- they're a nation that's having a difficult time. But I have gotten to know him. He's just such an incredible guy. It was just so shocking to see that, because you know what that means. Intensive care is a big deal with regard to what we're talking about. That's a very big deal, very scary deal.

Yes, please.

QUESTION: Thank you.

TRUMP: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: Somebody who can't be in the room because of social distancing has asked me to ask a question. It's Thomas Howell of "The Washington Times."

How many health workers in the U.S. have become infected with COVID- 19? And if the answer is not known, will the CDC be publishing that data soon?

TRUMP: Yes, I can give you that information.

I think they would -- I think they would probably be willing to give that, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

TRUMP: Yes, we could get you that information.

Jeff (ph), please.

QUESTION: Mr. President, OPEC is meeting on Thursday.

TRUMP: Yes.

QUESTION: And they have said that they are willing to make a cut in production if the U.S. chips in as well, which suggests that they want you to ask U.S. producers to do...

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Well, you're the first one that has told me that. I don't know.

[18:25:01]

We will have to make that decision. And maybe we will. Maybe we won't, but we will have to make that decision.

QUESTION: But you would...

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: I think the cuts are automatic. If you're a believer in markets, I can guarantee you there's a cut from previous condition. You know, look, this happened because of the virus. The virus knocked out 40 percent. It was -- it went down in one hour. I mean, literally, when places closed up, you're talking about a 40 percent cut.

No, I think it's happening automatically. But nobody's asked me that question yet. So we will see what happens. I will let you know on Thursday evening.

QUESTION: So, you would -- all right, that's a deal.

TRUMP: OK?

QUESTION: But you would consider asking U.S. companies to reduce...

TRUMP: Well, I think it's automatic, because they're already cutting.

I mean, if you look, they're cutting back, because it's -- it's market. It's demand. It's supply and demand.

QUESTION: But if OPEC is asking...

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: They're already cutting back. And they're cutting back very seriously.

QUESTION: But if OPEC is asking for a signal from the U.S...

TRUMP: Well, nobody has asked me that. So, if they ask me, I will make a decision, OK?

But I will -- but, again, it's happening anyway.

Yes, please.

QUESTION: In light of us all the discussion about Prime Minister Johnson and his health, can you update us on the status of the second half of your physical that you were going to have this year?

TRUMP: Yes, so I had a physical.

The first half was very successful. I did it on a day when I was in the White House, and we were able to do that, as the doctor reported. And I have some -- the second half of the physical different, probably is done at Walter Reed. And I will do that at the appropriate time.

But I feel very good, and, according to the doctor, very good shape.

QUESTION: And can I just ask you again, on the idea of a national stay-at-home recommendation, what is giving you so much pause about making a recommendation?

TRUMP: I told you. I told you. He understood very well.

I appreciate your understanding.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: But it's not an order, just a recommendation.

TRUMP: It's all the Constitution of the United States.

And I'd rather have, if possible, for the governors to make the decision. If a decision was very necessary -- and they have done a good job. And Tony said it better than anybody. They are -- they are doing -- they are doing what we're asking them to do without having to put the seal on it.

But I will say, if I thought it was necessary, I will do it in a heartbeat.

QUESTION: Do you agree with the Georgia governor about opening the beaches?

TRUMP: Opening what?

QUESTION: The beaches.

TRUMP: I haven't seen -- I'm going to have to see to what extent.

I'm going to have to see how many people you're talking about. Are they crowded? Are they packed? Are they not packed? We will have to take a look at it. Right now, it's very early for beaches in Georgia. So it's right now very early.

So I will take a look at it. He's done a very good job as the governor. He knows what he's doing. But we will have to take a look. It really does depend on how crowded it may be.

But I will talk to him. And I will ask him. That question, I would ask him.

Yes, please.

QUESTION: Mr. President, you said last week that you were considering travel restrictions around hot spots.

Is that something that's still on the table, and at what point...

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: We're looking at it. And the airlines have been cutting their routes. You saw that yesterday. They announced big cuts in routes.

We need some -- some flights for emergency use for military people. We need some flights for medical people. And there are very few flights, as you know. And the flights that are going out are -- I think they said they're 3 to 4 percent full. You have 3 percent of the plane that's occupied.

So it's -- they're very, very -- generally, very, very empty planes. But it's good to have -- it's a -- it's a tiny amount of flights relative to the overall. And we need them also for medical workers. Otherwise, we're going to have to do a whole big thing with our own planes.

So they're done for a reason. There's also testing done when people get onto those planes and also when people get off the planes.

QUESTION: Mr. President, if I just can follow up on this question of the HHS inspector general. And, by the way, her name is Christi Grimm.

And it wasn't so much her opinion, but they interviewed 323 different hospitals.

TRUMP: Well, it still could be her opinion.

When was she appointed? When was she appointed?

QUESTION: I'm not sure when was she appointed.

TRUMP: Will you do me a favor and let me know?

QUESTION: I will check...

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: No, no, let me know now. I have to know now, Jon. Let me know now.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Because we are doing an incredible job on testing.

We are doing a better job than anybody in the world right now on testing. There's nobody close. And other nations admit this. Other nations have admitted it very strongly. Other nations are calling us, wanting to know about our testing.

Let me know when she was appointed, would you?

Go ahead, please.

QUESTION: But, specifically, what she was saying was that there had been a delay in the...

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: OK, thank you very much.

Go ahead, please.

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President.

Only last week, there were multiple flights coming from China full of medical supplies.

TRUMP: Yes. QUESTION: Companies like Huawei and Alibaba have been donating to the

United States...

TRUMP: Right, people I know very well.

QUESTION: ... like 1.5 million N95 masks and also a lot of medical gloves and much more medical supplies.

TRUMP: Sounds like a statement more than a question.

QUESTION: So, Ambassador -- Chinese Ambassador Cui Tiankai wrote an op-ed on "New York Times" calling to cooperation with the United States.

So, are you personally working directly with China on --

(CROSSTALK)

[18:30:00]

TRUMP: We just signed a trade deal.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: -- fighting with the virus?

TRUMP: It's the biggest deal probably ever made. And I hope they're going to honor that trade deal. If they don't honor the trade deal, I'm going to tell you a different answer. But I think they will. They're going to spend billions of dollars for agriculture. They're going to spend billions of dollars for many different things, whereas China never spent money in our country. We spent money. We had a deficit, a trade deficit with China for years of $500 billion, $400 billion. We had the biggest trade deficits in the history of the world with China.

Now, China is going to spend -- has agreed to spend $250 billion -- many billions of dollars in our country, much of it going to farmers and manufacturers. So I'll let you know. I mean, I hope they're going to honor the deal. We'll find out.

REPORTER: What's China -- are you fighting (ph) with China?

TRUMP: I don't know. Who are you working for? China?

REPORTER: I don't know. I'm --

TRUMP: Do you work for China? Are you with a newspaper? Who are you with?

REPORTER: Hong Kong Phoenix T.V.

TRUMP: Who owns that? China? Is it owned by China?

REPORTER: It's based in Hong Kong.

TRUMP: No, is it owned by the state?

REPORTER: No, it's not. It's a private-owned company.

TRUMP: Okay, good. Okay. Look, I'll let you know. I'll give you a good answer to that in a few moments. I wanted to see what they'd do, because it's time for them to help us, okay? It's time right now for China to help us, and hopefully they do. And if they don't, that's okay too. But we signed a deal, it was signed in with great goodwill and spirit. And it's time that our farmers benefitted, our manufacturers benefitted. And we'll see whether or not that deal is honored. And I think it will be because I know President Xi, who I like and respect, and I think he will honor the deal he made with us.

It just went into effect four days ago. I will see whether or not. In fact, I called up just a little while ago. I said, how are the farmers doing with respect to China? Are they buying the product as anticipated? And the answer was, yes, I think so. But it wasn't the most positive. It was starting. The deal just started. So I'll let you know.

But for many, many years, China ate our lunch because we had people in this position that I am in that right now that allowed China to get away with absolute murder and it should have never happened.

REPORTER: What about the coronavirus?

TRUMP: We are now dealing with China. We'll see what happens with those.

Wait, how many do you want answered?

REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) to answer your question you asked me, she was appointed in January of this year to her position as the principal deputy inspector.

TRUMP: Okay. We're going to take a look ahead. Go ahead.

REPORTER: On the issue of small business loan, sir, you said that businesses have applied for $40 billion in loans, but can you tell us how much of that has actually gone out to the small businesses?

TRUMP: I can't tell you, but I know it goes out very quickly once the loan application is approved. And the process is very fast. And you have to understand, these are banks and this is what they do, but they were swamped. They were actually swamped.

Okay, go ahead.

REPORTER: I know you don't want to talk about the inspector general report, but testing is still a big issue in this country. When can hospitals expect --

TRUMP: Put the slide up again, please.

REPORTER: When can hospitals expect to receive a quick turnaround of the test results? TRUMP: Are you ready? Hospitals can do their own testing also. States can do their own testing. States are supposed to be doing testing. Hospitals are supposed to be doing testing. Do you understand that? We are the federal government. We are not supposed to stand on street corners doing testing. They go to doctors. They go to hospitals. The go to the state. The state is a more localized government. You have 50 of them. And they can go -- you also have territories, as you know. And they do the testing.

And if you look at the chart, if you take a look -- did they put it up? Yes. Just take a look. And these are testing and the results are now coming in very quickly. Initially speaking, the tests were old, obsolete and not really prepared. We have a brand new testing system that we developed very quickly. And that's your result. And you should say, congratulations, great job instead of being so horrid in the way you ask a question.

Please, go ahead.

REPORTER: Mr. President --

TRUMP: I want to have the admiral speak to that question, yes.

DR. BRETT GIROIR, HHS ASSISTANT SECRETARY: So I can talk a little bit more about testing later on. But as the president said, 1.79 million tests have been done and this does not count the hundreds of thousands of tests that are done in hospital that are now currently no reporting, so I am sure we're well over 2 million.

That inspector general report was done near 23rd and 24th during our ramp up period, quite a long time ago. There was clearly -- and it's hard to interpret the report because it mixes up all kinds of things. But, clearly, there was complaint by some hospitals of a backlog probably had sent out tests, and that is true.

[18:35:06]

There were several days of backlog at some of the major labs that have been taken care of. We know now that the ACLA Labs now have a 24 to 48-hour turnaround. They're well over a 100,000 tests a day. We now have the Abbott machine that's point of care. That's 18,000 of those instruments throughout the country. The (INAUDIBLE) machine is now all across the country with a 45-minute turnaround.

So we have worked directly with many of the hospitals that have their own laboratory-derived tests. Some of those really, quite frankly, didn't understand the regulatory freedom they have to use other different kinds of instruments or different kinds of reagents.

So -- like they do now, like they do know. And I'm on the phone with them all the time to make sure that everything is clear, we have the 24-hour call number. But that's what it was there for.

And I don't know the inspector general, I don't know that person. I'll tell you one thing I have a problem with, if there was such a problem that she knew about or he knew about on March 23rd and 24th, why did I find out about the test from on the news media at 8:00 this morning? If there was a problem, I think you're ethically obliged to tell me where that is so we can interact with them, as I do every single day. So that's a discussion for the future.

I think testing is really in a good position right now and I would be happy to expand on some of the really good tests that are coming up.

TRUMP: How long is that person been in the government.?

REPORTER: He did serve in the previous administration.

TRUMP: You didn't tell me that. I see. You didn't tell me that, John. He did serve at the previous -- you mean the Obama administration. Thank you for telling me that.

See, there is a typical fake news deal.

REPORTER: I told you when she was appointed --

TRUMP: You're a third-rate reporter, and what you just said is a disgrace, okay? You asked me, is it, sir, just got appointed. Take a look at what you said. Now, I said, when did they -- when did this person -- how long in the government? Well, it was appointed in the Obama administration. Thank you very much, John. Thank you very much. You will never make it.

Go ahead, please

REPORTER: On the ventilators, (INAUDIBLE), but can you tell us today how many ventilators are in the federal stockpile?

GIROIR: I am not going to tell you how many are in the stockpile, but I can tell you that we look at ventilator use granularly every single day in every single state and down to the hospital level. So we have been able to meet and easily meet all the ventilator requirements that have been brought to us by the state. No one has not gotten a ventilator that needs a ventilator.

And as far as we can project looking at all models, every person who needs a ventilator will get a ventilator. I'm a ventilator doc, right? I'm an ICU physician for children. I spent every day of my life managing people on ventilators. This is my community. It's also the surgeon general's community as an anesthesiologist.

So what we have in the stockpile, I think, is not a number that we give out, but we have thousands remaining in the stockpile. And now you are seeing out of the appropriate American spirit that when a state like Washington or California doesn't need that ventilator, they are doing the right thing by moving them around the country.

TRUMP: It's about 9,000, just so you understand. It's about 9,000. And, by the way, you didn't tell me also that this inspector general came out of the Obama administration. You didn't tell me about it.

Okay, please, go ahead. REPORTER: I'm looking at the inspector general's bio. She appeared in certain governments since 1999. But that's what I'm going to ask you about that your call with former Vice President Joe Biden. Is there something that you learned on that phone call and has that changed your --

TRUMP: No, I didn't see this news before the call.

REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) about speaking to people --

TRUMP: I just think he is a very nice -- I think he is a nice man. I've always thought he was a nice man. I don't know him. I don't remember if I ever spoke to him before other than to say hello. But I think he's a nice man. We had a very nice call.

REPORTER: Did you want to seek now the counsel of some of your predecessors, George Bush, Barack Obama?

TRUMP: No, not really. We're doing a great job. Hey, I inherited -- we, this administration, we inherited a broken system, both militarily, where we've rebuilt our military, that we now have so much ammunition, whereas you remember, a very important general said, sir, we have no ammunition, they want to save money. They want ammunition. They didn't want to save money because they spent like nobody ever spent money.

But you know what? We now have a great military, rebuilt it, we have so much ammunition, we don't know what to do with it, okay? And that's a nice feeling to have. But they also gave us empty cupboards. The cupboard was bare. You've heard the expression, the cupboard was bare. So we took over a stockpile but the cupboard was bear and where the testing system was broken and old, and we re-did it. And, frankly, it would be okay for a small event, but not for a big event.

[18:40:00]

And they had a chance to do it. Somebody said that a certain person -- I won't tell you -- but a certain person said this will happen. And that's true. The problem is that person never did anything about it, the previous administrations. They never did anything about it.

We all know about pandemics and all of the things we are seeing now, but nobody thought it was going happen. And if we did think it was going to happen, the problem is nobody did anything. We did.

We have rebuilt the system and now a fine-tuned machine. We built thousands of hotel beds for New York. We moved a ship in that we are now going to make for COVID-19, we are going to make it, so that people having this horrible thing happen to them will be able to use the ship. The ship, as I said, is going to be shared with New Jersey, New York and New Jersey. We have done things that are incredible.

When you build, what was it, 18 hospitals, we've built 18 hospitals. We've built medical centers all over the country. And when you have Gavin Newsom and other governors who really have been very nice and generous in their statements because they make the statements to the press, not just my face. Others tell us how great we're doing, like the call that Mike had today.

I heard from other people that were on the call. He said it was incredible. It was two hours and everything was positive. They were so happy with what we've done. And we're ready to do more if they need it because we're ready to march.

The admiral can tell you. We are sitting there with 9,000 ventilators and we're ready to march when we see that -- we can move very quickly. As soon as we see that need, we can move very quickly. We're ready to march. We've built a great system.

The problem is the Democrats, like a guy like -- Chuck Schumer is a total lightweight, by the way. I've known him for a long time. He will say, why don't you put a military man in charge? Military men? I have all military men. This man is doing an incredible job. We have two admirals, numerous generals, we have the Army Corps of Engineers, we have FEMA, we have this whole force like nobody has ever seen before. We have a great military operation and they have done an incredible job.

And, honestly, the people should respect because nobody has ever seen anything like what we have done. And what they end up with -- they're thinking about me. Don't worry about me. I will only get bad. If I say, how many ventilators do you need, Governor? A thousand would be great. I said, no, I'm going to send you 10,000. And then you all call up from the media. You'll say, how did Trump do? We're not happy. He didn't send us enough ventilators, because that's called politics.

But if you look at what's happening that -- and I'm even surprised, the governors are saying all good things. But the Democrat governors and a couple of rhinos, frankly, they're rhinos, there's only one rhino in particular, but the governors are saying great things. He had a call that lasted two hours today. I heard about that call not just from Mike. It was a perfect call.

Now, I'm am sure you were on the call even though you are not supposed to be. I'm sure you were on the call, meaning some of the media was on the, because they're constantly reporting the call. If they are honest, they will say it was a great call, okay?

Okay, next question please. Here we go.

REPORTER: You mentioned the hospitals that were built in New Orleans and Dallas today, but you've mentioned the number of (INAUDIBLE) previously. There seems to be some concern in Texas that they might lose the hospital in Dallas if it's not --

TRUMP: We are never going to do anything to hurt Texas. We are only helping Texas. By the way, the governor is doing a great job over there with this situation. And Texas is so big that. You have some parts of the state that are affected, other parts that aren't affected at all. It's an incredible place.

REPORTER: Can they keep this hospital even if it's unused or will the federal government going to shift those resources elsewhere? TRUMP: Look, we're going to use whatever we need, and we're doing it totally in conjunction with the governor, okay? We're doing it in conjunction with your Texas governor, who has done a fantastic job.

REPORTER: The governor also has set up checkpoints at the border to check people coming in from Louisiana. We have seen checkpoints in Florida, other state borders.

TRUMP: Very few people are coming through our border. And you'll be happy to know, we are up to mile 161 of the wall.

REPORTER: Internal borders between states --

TRUMP: But on the border between Mexico, we have 161 miles of wall.

REPORTER: The internal wall.

TRUMP: Okay.

REPORTER: Americans don't -- they're not used to seeing border checkpoints between states. How much longer -- and it's not something that --

TRUMP: First, you want us to call eight governors and tell them to do something and then you are complaining that another governor is so strict that he actually checks the borders. I understand why he is doing that, because he knows what he has and he doesn't want people coming in if they should maybe not to the liking of the doctors.

[18:45:00]

(INAUDIBLE)

TRUMP: No, I think, look, he is doing a great job. He has done a great job with this case, as have many other governors, but he's done a great job. One of the things I thought you were going to say is we have been very tough on our southern border, as you know, very, very tough. And part of that is because of the fact that we have so much -- when you talk about 160 miles of new wall, nobody is coming through that, nobody, not even close. But we are building it rapidly. We will have, early next year we'll have close to 500 miles of wall, which is what our goal was.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You mentioned Senator Schumer just a moment ago. He had a conference call today, and he said that he believes that a COVID four relief bill will be necessary. Do you share that belief? And what would be contained --

TRUMP: I don't know necessarily, but I certainly want to listen. And what I want to do is two things -- real infrastructure, not a Green New Deal, you know, the carbon footprint. I'm not looking for the carbon footprint. We want to put people to work. And frankly, for so many years we've let our infrastructure go to hell because we were wasting all our money in the Middle East and other places, OK? I want to rebuild out country. I don't want to rebuild -- we're tired. We've rebuilt, if you call it, that, or destroyed, frankly, what we've done is so crazy. What we have done, the direction that this country has taken is so sad.

But we are in the Middle East for $8 trillion, and if you want to fix a pothole in a highway you can't do it because they don't want to give you the funds. So we want to have an infrastructure bill, a real one, like in the vicinity of $2 trillion to completely rebuild our roads, our bridges, our highways, our tunnels, everything.

And I am totally open to listening to that. I'm also open to listening to and even putting forward, because we are going to be putting something forward, more money for our citizens, because they have been going through a trauma. This has been trauma. This came out of nowhere. And I say it, and I'll say it again, we had the greatest economy in the history of the world. We had the most people working in the history of our country, almost 160 million people, far more than ever before. And then one day our professionals correctly came to us, and they said sorry, sir, we have to close down our country. And I said say it again. Say it again. We have to close down our country. And the entire world closed down because of this hidden enemy. Now, we are going to take good care of our people. It was not their fault.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dr. Birx, to clarify something that she said Saturday.

TRUMP: Go ahead. Yes, please?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: May I ask Dr. Birx to clarify something that she said on Saturday? If I may, Dr. Birx, a question that comes from a radio colleague of mine, Tamara Keith. On Saturday it sounded like you said that for the next week people in high-risk areas should not even go to the market or the drugstore. Is that what you meant to say? Or is that accurate?

DR. DEBORAH BIRX, CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: Out of respect for every single health care worker that's on the front line, whether they are a nurse, a doctor, a respiratory therapist, the phlebotomist, the persons who comes in the room to clean, out of respect for them, we as Americans should be doing everything possible.

And what I meant was if you can consolidate, if you can send one person, the entire family doesn't need to go out on these occasions. We really need -- this is a highly transmittable virus. We have been saying that we want every American to know that what they are doing is making a difference, but we need to have solidarity of commitment from everyone to really -- so maybe once every two weeks we can do a grocery store and pharmacy shop for the entire family.

So it was really about, we have to do everything we can. I know, I see on the TV stations the level of human suffering in the hospitals. Dr. Fauci and I and Admiral Giroir have spent our lives taking care of others. We need to take care of each other now as Americans and do everything that's in those guidelines.

And I know they are tough. I know incredibly how tough they are. My grandchild of 10 months got a fever of 105 this weekend. I'm a doctor, and I couldn't get there. So I am trying to explain to my daughter how to listen to her lungs, how to listen to her lungs and the baby's lungs.

TRUMP: You did not get there?

BIRX: I did not go there.

TRUMP: Good.

BIRX: Because of you two.

(LAUGHTER)

BIRX: You can't take that kind of risk with the leaders of the country.

TRUMP: Your grandson is OK?

BIRX: Daughter, but she's coming out of it.

TRUMP: That's a lot of temperature, 105.

BIRX: Yes. You know, we're all.

[18:50:02]

And that's just an illustration that I know that you all are making sacrifices. And I guess I want everyone to take this seriously. So that was really a call of seriousness of how important this is, and how we are starting to see the impact. But you can see what can happen when you come at this a little bit too late.

And that's why the message before you see it, before you have to see your hospitals and your emergency room overwhelmed, it is on us as a member of this community, of this country, to do everything possible to save one another. And so that was really what I was saying, and I will continue to say that, because I do believe it's making a difference. You can start to see it making a difference, but we have to do even more right now, because that will predict where we are two or three weeks from now.

TRUMP: And it is making a big difference. I saw where Governor Cuomo was a little bit upset today, over the weekend, a lot of people outside, and there were pretty big groups of people. I saw that, I noticed that, and he wasn't happy with that. And I could understand that. We have a short period of time, hopefully it's a short period of time to go, and let's get it done. Let's get it done.

Kristen (ph), did you have a question? You are so quiet.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I did. Thank you. Just got here. Apologize.

Quick follow to the question about legislation. I know there is discussion about a phase four, but are you looking seriously at a second round of direct payments? And are you putting discussions on a potential phase four on hold for now while you pursue that?

TRUMP: I was opposed to the way of distribution, money distribution through, as you know, unemployment and through the state offices, because they have very old, not all of them, but many of them have 40- year-old equipment, as I've said, and it makes it very difficult. But that's what they are looking at. That's what they want to do. That's the way it's mandated to do. I thought it would be better if we did a direct payment. But the Democrats really wanted it, and I think they had some help from a couple people that I would have, had I spoken to them I would've convince them otherwise, I really believe.

But it's getting out. And the federal government has done its job. All we can do is give this massive amount of money to the states. This states then are responsible to distribute it, a little bit like we are talking about here. But the money will be right on time from the federal government. Then the states have to do their job in getting it out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think there will be a second round of those payments?

TRUMP: We could very well do a second round of direct. I would do it direct.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is that under serious discussion?

TRUMP: It is absolutely under serious consideration.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And in terms of Chuck Schumer, he also said he spoke to your chief of staff about potentially appointing a czar to oversee the supply chain. Is that something that you would consider --

TRUMP: We have people that are so talented. I know the people he suggested. They are wonderful people. They worked here. They're wonderful people. He's just doing that because it's politics, because you know what, we have many. Depending on what, in terms of testing, this gentleman right here. In terms -- you know who the point person is, this gentleman right here. He's the one in charge of the task force. But Mike, you may want to tell them about it, because this is really a military operation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Vice President, in terms of the supply chain --

MIKE PENCE, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: Let me answer your first question, if I may, because it's a very good question. And I spoke to Senator Schumer the night before last about just that. When the president signed a declaration of national emergency, he stood up FEMA as the lead agency implementing his policy to marshal a whole of government response. And under FEMA, we provide federal support, the state manages the health care response, and health care providers and first responders implement that response on a local level.

Our lead on this issue in implementing it is Administrator Pete Gaynor. But the man managing all of the supplies, and you heard a presentation this weekend about our air bridge, what we also call the control tower. We literally with Admiral John Polowczyk at the helm of our logistics effort, we have visibility now on all the supplies that are moving across this country and into this country from around the world.

It really is extraordinary. When the president tapped FEMA to lead this effort, we essentially wanted to say we want to organize this in the military fashion, and we tapped really someone who is widely regarded as the number one supplies and logistics military officer to do just that.

He really is an extraordinary individual. Admiral Giroir has known him for a long time. And to working with Admiral Polowczyk, we speak every morning. Our team reviews the data.

[18:55:02]

We go over that with Administrator Gaynor and Admiral Polowczyk. We talk about an extensive team that is identifying supplies around the country and around the world.

And then as we were explaining to governors today, we work with the requests that are coming from states with the priority on the areas that are dealing with widespread outbreak, like the greater New York City area and New Jersey, Louisiana, focus on Detroit, focus on Chicago and Illinois. And then what Pete Gaynor and Admiral Polowczyk are doing is directing those commercial distributors to send the resources directly to the front lines of the battle against the coronavirus.

It is an extraordinary system. And as I explained to the governors today, as I've explained to congressional leaders who have made what I think is a good faith recommendation that we have, that we organize this in a manner of military logistics, it's exactly what President Trump has done, and it's what we are doing every single day to make sure that health care workers, to make sure that the states that are dealing with a widespread outbreak of coronavirus can be confident that we are going to spare no expense, leave no stone unturned, and use this extraordinary apparatus centered in FEMA to get the people of our country what they need when they need it to battle the coronavirus.

TRUMP: And Kristen (ph), when Schumer makes a statement like that, he's only doing it for politics. He knows we have the best generals, the best admirals, we have the best people. These are incredible leaders. These are vibrant people. They have done such a good job. And again, you'll get a tape of the conversation, because I'm sure some of the governors probably had their favorite reporter listening to the conversation, even though they weren't supposed to, but that's happened before. Just so you understand, we had a call today that was a beautiful call, everybody friendly, everybody happy. They also know in some cases we'll get them a little bit more, and if they need it we'll give them a lot more depending on where this monster is going.

But when Schumer does that -- take a look, take a look at the past.

(INAUDIBLE)

TRUMP: You're going to have to tell me who. Some Democrats because they view this as a campaign issue. They want to make Trump look as bad as they can because they want to try and win an election that they shouldn't be allowed to win based on the fact that we have done a great job. We built the greatest economy of the world. I'll do it a second time. We got artificially stopped by a virus that nobody ever thought possible. And we have handled it, and we've built a team and we've built an apparatus that's been unbelievable.

Take a look at the swine flu, right. That's H1N1. Take a look at that. And it's not the other way around by the way. It's H1N1. Take a look, you know what I mean by that. Take a look at the swine flu. It was a disaster, 17,000 people died. The other administration, they didn't even know -- it was like they didn't even know it was here. And that was peanuts compared to what we have in terms of the power, the magnitude of what we are going through. This is attacking 182 countries simultaneously.

So Schumer is all about politics. I have known him almost all of my adult life. And he's a disgrace. In many ways he's a disgrace. And he knows it -- he just wants to do that, but he knows the job we are doing. Everybody is amazed at the job we're doing. And the public is starting to find out. One of the reasons I do these news conferences, because if I didn't, they would believe fake news. And we can't with them believe fake news. They see us up here. She see us with admirals, they see us with this talent, they see the job that Mike Pence has done, which has been an unbelievable job, an unbelievable job. I put him there. I thought he would do well. He did great as the governor of Indiana and I thought Mike would do well. He's done much better than well. And he gets along with people, I think, much better than I do, because I like people being 100 -- Mike can put up with things that sometimes I say it's amazing that he can put up with it. But he's done an incredible job, and so has the entire team.

This is the military operation. And again, we built 2,900 beds in Javits Center. We build medical centers in New York. In Chicago we built 1,000 beds, much more now in McCormick Place, that's their big convention hall, the equivalent of Javits Convention Hall, big McCormick Place, fantastic place. By the way, the mayor of Chicago, at least on the phone, is extremely happy with what we are doing, thanking us, has a great relationship with Mike, thanking us. And I just wish the politicians would say to you what they say to us. Really. And it's a good question.

Do you have one? Yes, please.