Return to Transcripts main page

THE SITUATION ROOM

U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Tops 14,000; White House Holds Coronavirus Task Force Briefing. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired April 8, 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]

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Stand by for that. We will hear from the experts.

Meanwhile, more than 14,000 Americans have now died during the outbreak, and more than 400,000 here in the United States have tested positive for the virus.

But Dr. Anthony Fauci says earlier estimates the perhaps 100,000 Americans could die are not necessarily inevitable. A White House model now predicts 60,000 fatalities in the U.S., down from 80,000, 60,000 dead here in the United States by August. That's still a huge number.

Experts warn that social distancing must remain in place for the time being. And there's now a new concern about potential hot spots in Philadelphia, Baltimore, and right here in Washington, D.C.

Let's go to CNN's Erica Hill. She's joining us from New York right now.

Erica, give us the latest on all the late-breaking developments.

ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, of course, as we look at those potential new hot spots that you just mentioned, there is a focus on how this is rolling out in New York.

We can tell you, we learned from Governor Cuomo today, hospitalizations are down. But he was clear to say, while that is good news, there is still a long road ahead.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIAID DIRECTOR: Increase in new cases.

HILL (voice-over): A blunt assessment from the top.

FAUCI: It's going to be a bad week for deaths.

HILL: For the second day in a row, New York state announcing a new high for single-day deaths, 779 on Tuesday. With morgues overloaded, hard-hit communities are bringing in refrigerated trailers and more help. In New York City, hundreds of National Guard members and more than 50

active-duty mortuary military specialists are now assisting the medical examiner's office. As states and cities reporting a rising death toll, there is some hope, projected deaths nationwide now expected to be closer to 60,000 by August, revised down significantly, thanks to social distancing.

The message from officials: This is no time to let up.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK CITY: We're all looking to finally get out from under this. But it's not that time yet. The progress confirms the strategy is working.

HILL: Washington, D.C., one of several cities now on the radar as potential hot spots, according to the according to the White House task force coordinator, who also singled out Baltimore, Philadelphia and Houston.

New CNN polling reveals a majority of Americans feel the federal government has done a poor job preventing the spread; 80 percent feel the worst is yet to come.

DR. ASHISH JHA, DIRECTOR, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: More rural areas are starting to get hit. And I'm really worried, because hospitals in those areas don't have as many ICU beds, don't have the same capacity.

HILL: With each day, there is also mounting evidence that the virus is impacting African-Americans at a much higher rate, underserved communities also hit hard.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): Whatever the situation is, natural disaster, Hurricane Katrina, the people standing on those rooftops were not rich white people. Why? Why is it that the poorest people always pay the highest price? Let's learn from this moment and let's learn these lessons and let's do it now.

HILL: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the state will increase testing and research in minority communities starting today to better understand the disparity.

The Department of Health and Human Services announcing GM will produce 30,000 ventilators for the National Stockpile, costing nearly half-a- billion dollars. Those will be delivered by the end of August, as hot spots across the country face concerns about meeting the needs today.

Meantime, the conversation about how and when to reopen the country is starting, with a focus on antibody testing to learn who was infected, but asymptomatic.

DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: This makes a very big difference in really understanding who can go back to work and how they can go back to work.

HILL: Those tests could be available in the next 10 to 14 days, according to Dr. Birx, though, in reality, there is no clear end date for this pandemic.

Pennsylvania and New York following New Jersey's lead, lowering flags to half-staff in honor of the thousands lost to this virus.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HILL: And, Wolf, at the Javits Center behind me, where there are 2,500 beds for COVID-positive patients, there are 104 being treated right now.

And we just learned that at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center out in Flushing, Queens, where, of course, the U.S. open is played, that, at the Chase Center there, 470 additional beds that will be added.

Why so many empty beds and why are more being added? Governor Cuomo said today, basically, it's a good sign that these beds aren't needed right now, but, again, stressing it's important to be prepared and have them ready.

BLITZER: Very important, indeed.

All right, Erica Hill reporting for us, thank you.

Even though experts say social distancing needs to remain in place for now, President Trump is already looking ahead to a grand reopening.

[18:05:00]

Our Chief White House Correspondent, Jim Acosta, has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With administration officials sounding more optimistic about the battle against the coronavirus, President Trump is already talking about reopening the country all at once.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'd love to open with a big bang, one beautiful country just open.

ACOSTA: But top doctors on the government's Coronavirus Task Force are being much more cautious, warning, a return to normalcy won't happen like a light switch.

FAUCI: The real challenge is, if we do then try, which everybody's talking about now, to get back to some degree of normality, not turning a light switch on and off -- that's not going to happen -- but some degree of normality, we better make sure that we very aggressively and vigorously do not allow the resurgence of a case or two or three or 10 or 20.

ACOSTA: The president is all but declaring victory, tweeting, "Flattening of the curve," as a new model on the pandemic in the U.S. is forecasting thousands fewer deaths than what was predicted just days ago. With a new CNN poll finding only 41 percent of Americans think the federal government has done a good job preventing the spread of the coronavirus, and only 37 percent comfortable returning to normalcy if social distancing ends, the president has settled on a new scapegoat, pointing the finger at the World Health Organization.

TRUMP: They called it wrong. They call it wrong. They really -- they missed the call. They could have called it months earlier. They would have known, and they should have known.

ACOSTA: The WHO's director is pleading with the president to cut it out.

TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, DIRECTOR GENERAL, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: Please don't politicize this virus. If you don't want many more body bags, then you refrain from politicizing it. My short message is, please quarantine politicizing COVID.

ACOSTA: But there are new indications the president and his team missed the warning signs themselves, as a report from ABC News finds, U.S. intelligence official we're sounding the alarm that the coronavirus was spreading in China as far back as November.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: But did the Pentagon receive an intelligence assessment on COVID in China last November from the National Center for Medical Intelligence at DIA.

MARK ESPER, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: I can't recall, George, but our -- we have many people that watch this closely.

ACOSTA: And the president insists he didn't see a memo from his own trade adviser that warned of a costly pandemic back in January.

TRUMP: I didn't see him. I didn't look for him either.

ACOSTA: Former President Barack Obama tweeted, the U.S. won't be able to shift away from social distancing until there's a robust system of testing and monitoring, something we have yet to put in place nationwide.

Task force Dr. Deborah Birx says part of the problem is that processing machines in U.S. labs aren't running the tests fast enough.

BIRX: Right now, about 80 percent of them are idle. There's over a million tests sitting, test kits sitting, ready to be run.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: All right, Jim Acosta reporting for us.

Let's discuss.

Sanjay Gupta is still with us. Kaitlan Collins is with us as well.

Sanjay, we're learning that, on a conference call with House Democrats earlier today, Dr. Deborah Birx warned that Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., are expected to become new hot spots for the coronavirus.

What do these cities need to be doing right now to brace for a potential surge?

We all hope, obviously, these cities aren't going to become another New York City.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. Well, right.

And I think especially, when it comes to the corridor, the Baltimore- D.C. corridor, I think that they -- when you look at some of the modeling, it does follow a trajectory, at least the early part of the curve, that's similar to where New York City was a couple of weeks ago.

And I think that's what prompted some of these concerns. I think, in D.C., for example, I was just looking at the model. Wolf, you may remember, the first case was actually diagnosed March 7, so just a month ago, and the first person who died was March 20.

So you get an idea of how quick things change in these areas, just the -- again, the first case just one month ago. What they're going to need to do, Wolf, is the same sorts of things that we have seen in Washington, D.C.

Luckily, I think the stay-at-home orders relative to the timing of the curve earlier in D.C. in that corridor, so, hopefully, that will be helpful. But, as you know, the hospital capacity has been redlining, as they describe it, in New York. Going to need to make sure that the hospital capacity in the several hospitals in that area are ready for what will likely be an influx of patients.

Keeping in mind again, Wolf, we have made this point many times, but we're looking at a lagged picture. So, by the time someone comes to the hospital, that's usually several days, maybe even a couple of weeks after the time they were exposed.

Most people won't need to come to the hospital, but, if they do, it's a couple of weeks after they were exposed. So, the picture right now is from two weeks ago. The picture two weeks from now is going to be from right now.

So -- I'm sorry -- the picture two weeks from now will be reflecting of right now. So, we have to see what's going on in the curve right now, Wolf.

[18:10:07]

BLITZER: Because the -- Sanjay, the identification of these new potential hot spots, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., comes as the president is touting what he describes as a flattening of the curve.

But these signs of progress he's pointing to are not necessarily uniform across the nation, are they. GUPTA: Right.

No, they're not. And we have to really look at several different waves or areas, hot spots, whatever you want to call them. New York's obviously got the most attention because it is such a significant area of these infections, these confirmed infections.

But you are seeing these other areas of concern. And the curves are either different, or they're -- you're earlier in the curve in some of these places. So we look at New York as a model and we are seeing some evidence.

Even though the daily death toll, sadly, has continued to go up, we are seeing some notes for optimism, because the hospitalization rate has gone down.

One thing I want to point out is that, when people do go to the hospital for coronavirus -- again, most won't need that. But when you do, you're typically in the hospital for quite some time as well.

So that's feeding into this. Hospitalization rates have gone down, but time in hospital is still pretty significant for patients who are there.

And we got to see if that sort of trend continues as well. But, Wolf, your point is right. We can't look at the United States really as a whole. You can see the numbers as a whole, but they reflect many different parts of the country.

BLITZER: It's a big country, indeed.

Kaitlan, the new CNN poll shows that the president's job approval rating when it comes to the economy has slid to 48 percent. Is the economy a central factor in the president's decision-making process right now?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it certainly is.

The president has been making that pretty clear in recent days. He made so clear last night, talking about how he wanted there to be a big economic upturn once the nation does move past these social distancing guidelines that they put in place.

But several people we've spoken with say the president is weighing both of these options here. He's not just looking at the economy. And the thing they point at -- point to when they talk about that is how insistent the president had been, despite no advice from his health experts, about that Easter date to reopen the country.

And that is something he quickly moved away from once he was shown models from the White House. And so the question really, Wolf, is, we don't know what the White House has planned for after these 30-day guidelines are up.

That is something that we're told by sources they are working on right now. We're told they had a pretty late meeting last night. And Dr. Fauci said on a call with Democratic lawmakers today they're

going to try to release some kind of guidance today, because they do want to work on getting Americans back to normal life, but also balancing it, a pretty careful balancing act, with what to do about these health guidelines, and how to make sure they don't erase any of the gains that they have gotten from these social distancing efforts you have seen over the last several weeks.

But the economy is definitely a key part on the president's mind. And we're told that, often in these meetings. The president is usually listening to the economic advisers, while Pence often turns to the health experts.

So it's really both sides making their arguments. And the question is, where do we go from here? Who wins that argument, and if they can come to something that we lead to in a few weeks, where they can reopen the economy to the president's desire, but also maintained by the guidelines that the health experts think they need to.

BLITZER: Very important, indeed.

All right, both of you, stand by. We have a lot more -- more developments emerging right now.

We will take a quick break. We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:16:01]

BLITZER: All right, the president is now answering reporters' questions.

Let's listen in. He was just asked about when he learned about the potential for a pandemic.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

TRUMP: But I'd like to see the information.

Yes, please, please.

QUESTION: Mr. President, a lot of Americans want to see businesses reopened to get back to....

TRUMP: Yes, so do I, more than anybody.

QUESTION: So, what specifically has to happen for you to feel that it is safe to reopen the country? And what is your plan to do that?

TRUMP: Well, I think we can say that we have to be on that downside of that slope and heading to a very strong direction this thing has gone.

We could do it in phases. We can go to some areas, which you know, some areas are much less affected than others. But it would be nice to be able to open with a big bang and open up our country, or certainly most of our country. And I think we're going to do that soon.

You look at what's happening. I would say we're ahead of schedule. Now, you hate to say it too loudly, because, all of a sudden, things don't happen.

But I think we will be sooner, rather than later. But we will be sitting down with the professionals. We will be sitting down with many different people and making a determination. And those meetings will start taking place fairly soon.

QUESTION: So, you wouldn't do that until the health experts tell you it's safe to do it?

TRUMP: Yes, I would rely very heavily on them, yes.

QUESTION: Do you think -- is there a system for monitoring and testing that you're looking at...

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Yes, we're putting in -- yes, we're putting in very heavy testing systems. We have the best testing systems.

And, again, don't forget, when we look at cases -- I'm looking at some -- I'm not going to insult anybody. I'm not going to insult any country. But I'm looking at countries that are showing less cases than us. That's testing. We're testing more than anybody.

And you saw exponentially more than anybody by far. And our testing has become -- I think it'll end up being a big strength. In fact, the other countries -- other countries that the media talked about are now calling us for, what are we doing and how are we doing it so quickly, and where are we getting these tests, because our tests are really good now.

They have been proven to be very accurate.

Yes, please.

QUESTION: Hi. Thank you, President Trump.

Two quick questions.

TRUMP: Yes, sure.

QUESTION: One on infrastructure.

Members of your administration and members of Congress have pointed out that the top aid federal employee, it's not the president. It's the head of the Tennessee Valley Authority. And he made $8 million last year. And some...

TRUMP: It's ridiculous, I agree. It's ridiculous.

I think it's the highest paid government -- long before I got here -- you said Tennessee Valley Authority, right? Has to be the highest paid man in any government. Makes approximately $8 or $9 million. I don't know the gentleman, but he's got a heck of a job.

He gets paid a lot of money. He's been there for a long while, hasn't he?

QUESTION: This one actually is new. He came in April, but the previous...

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Well, that's a separate -- yes, that is separate.

But I'm talking about the -- we just have some new people going on the board, I know. But, as you know, that's a quasi-public agency. And whoever the head of the agency is, that person makes a lot of money.

QUESTION: And if I could ask my second question...

TRUMP: Which is an amazing thing, right?

And when we want them to do something, they're not there for us. That's not good. That's not good.

QUESTION: The second question...

TRUMP: They have been there for a long time.

That's been a story for a long time.

QUESTION: And I assume that you would support reducing that salary as part of the infrastructure bill?

TRUMP: Yes, reducing it by a lot.

QUESTION: Thank you.

And my other question is...

TRUMP: Got to be the greatest job in the history of government, almost, certainly if you're into money.

Tennessee Valley Authority, that's right.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: So...

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: I have been waiting for somebody to ask me about that. It's been -- it's been bothering me for a long time too.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: So, it -- one of the biggest rating hits of the coronaviruses, aside from these briefings, has been a show on Netflix called "Tiger King." TRUMP: Yes.

QUESTION: And the man who's the star of this is a former zoo owner who's serving a 22-year prison sentence.

He's asking you for a pardon, saying he was unfairly convicted. Your son yesterday jokingly said that he was going to advocate for it. And I was wondering if you had seen the show and if you have any thoughts on pardoning Joe Exotic.

TRUMP: Which son? Must be Don.

QUESTION: It was.

TRUMP: I had a feeling it was Don. Is that what he said?

[18:20:01]

I don't know. I know nothing about it. He has 22 years for what? What did he do?

QUESTION: He allegedly hired someone to murder an animal rights activist. But he said that he didn't do that. And he was...

TRUMP: You think he didn't do it? Are you on his side?

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Are you -- are you recommending a pardon?

QUESTION: No, I'm not advocating...

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: As a reporter, you're not allowed to do that. You would be criticized by these -- would you recommend a pardon?

QUESTION: I'm not weighing in on "Tiger King."

(LAUGHTER)

TRUMP: I don't think you would. I don't think you would.

Go ahead. Do you have a question?

QUESTION: I do like Joe Exotic.

TRUMP: I will take a look. Is that Joe Exotic? That's Joe Exotic?

QUESTION: Let me get back to the coronavirus, if I can, Mr President.

TRUMP: Go ahead. Yes.

QUESTION: Last week, your top experts were saying that we should expect 100,000 to 240,000 deaths in this country. You have been talking about how it looks like maybe things are plateauing. Are these numbers now being revised downward? I know you don't want people to stop social distancing and that sort of thing, but what can you tell us about the numbers? Are they being revised...

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: I mean, my -- yes, my impression, Jim, is, those were the numbers that were set, and they were set at an expectation from quite a while ago.

I think we're just doing much better than those numbers. If either of you would like to talk about that, it's a fair question.

You want to come up?

Deborah?

BIRX: Yes.

So, I think all of you -- many of you have done the analysis of the same models that we utilized. And if you do the models of the models, you end up with that range.

At the same time, we carefully looked at Italy and Spain. And we are doing much better in many cases than several other countries. And we're trying to understand that. We believe that our health care delivery system in the United States is quite extraordinary.

I know many of you are watching the Act Now model and the IHME model from -- and they have consistently decreased the number, the mortality, from over almost 90,000 or 86,000 down to 81,000 and now down to 61,000.

That is modeled on what America is doing. That is what's happening. And I think what has been so remarkable, I think, to those of us who have been in the science field for so long is how important behavioral change is, and how amazing Americans are in adapting to and following through on these behavioral changes.

And that's what's changing the rate of new cases, and that's what will change the mortality going forward, because now we're into the time period of full mitigation that should be reflected within the coming weeks of decreasing mortality.

I mean, that's what we really hope to see. We are impressed by the American people. And I think models are models. I have always worked on validating. I have spent my life validating models all over the world.

And that's why we do surveys and surveillance and we make sure that what we think is right is right. I think this will change how people look at respiratory diseases, because it will change what is possible when the globe, and particularly the American people, do this level of mitigation.

And I think, as I talked about yesterday, we are still -- we are still in awe, really, of the American people's strength in this and following through.

QUESTION: If I could just, Mr. President...

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Yes, I'm going to do that. I'm going ask Bob to come up just for a second.

Director.

I think that's it. We have a -- we have done -- they have done -- everybody has done, everybody, a great job. So those were original projections. And we don't want to say anything about beating it yet, but I think we will have a very good chance to beat them very substantially.

Bob, please?

DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: Thank you, Mr. President.

I just want to add what Ambassador Birx said. I mean, this is a consequence of the commitment of the American people.

You know, a lot of us have always had challenges changing behavior, whether if it's exercising regularly or different habits with smoking, when it -- when it affects us.

What's what's been remarkable to watch here is how the American public has changed their behavior when it protects the vulnerable. I think that's really what I'm so proud to see.

QUESTION: Mr. President, just a follow-up on something from yesterday, and a quick just yes-or-no question.

Yesterday, you said you had not seen Peter Navarro's memo on coronavirus back in January, February 23.

TRUMP: Yes.

QUESTION: Were you ever briefed on those memos? Did you ever discuss those memos with anybody...

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: I don't remember that. I have now seen the memo. I saw it. It was -- Peter sends a lot of memos. I didn't see the memo.

As you know, World Health was saying that was not correct, because, at the time, they called it wrong. but I didn't see the memo. But I acted as quickly as -- people were shocked that I acted so quickly.

And everybody thought I was wrong because I did act so quickly, as you know, with respect to closing the borders, with respect, not only to China, but, with Europe, I closed the borders. And I think that was very important. [18:25:00]

But, no, I didn't see the memo at the time. But have I seen it since.

Yes, please.

QUESTION: One other quick question.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Wait a minute, Jim. Let me do a couple of others. We will go back.

QUESTION: The head of the World Health Organization today warned against politicizing.

TRUMP: I agree with that.

QUESTION: And he said that the consequence of this politicization could actually create more body bags. It was a pretty vivid image.

What -- what do you believe the consequences of the U.S. pulling out its funding of the WHO...

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Well, I think, when you say more body bags, I think we would have done and he would have been much better serving the people that he's supposed to serve if they gave a correct analysis.

I mean, everything was, I said, China-centric. Everything was going to be fine, no human-to-human, keep the borders open. He wanted me to keep the borders open. I closed the borders despite him. And that was a hard decision to make at the time. We were all together. We made a decision against the World Health Organization.

So, when he says politicizing, he is politicizing. That shouldn't be.

But, look, we spend $450 billion, $452 billion, almost $500 billion last year, hundreds of billions in previous years. And they got to do better than that. They got to do better.

When you talk about politics, I can't believe he is talking about politics, when -- look at the relationship they have to China.

So, China spends $42 million. We spend $450 million, and everything seems to be China's way. That's not right. It's not fair to us. And, honestly, it's not fair to the world.

OK, question in the back? Yes.

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President.

There is breaking news today, in a couple of reports from a couple of different outlets, that Jared Kushner's team is seeking to create a national coronavirus database, a tracking system for patients who have been diagnosed.

Now, his spokesperson said that that's not true.

TRUMP: Yes, it's not. I have never heard about it. It doesn't sound like a bad idea, actually, but I have not heard about that.

QUESTION: You would be OK with it, if it were?

TRUMP: I don't know if I'd be OK. I have to see it.

But it sounds very scientific. And it sounds like it could be good, based on tracking, but it also has to do with rights and lots of different constitutional questions. I have not heard that at all.

QUESTION: OK. So some people are concerned it would be like the post- 9/11 Patriot Act, that it ultimately led to the FISA abuse.

Are there any -- are you concerned about that?

TRUMP: Yes, FISA abuse, of which I was the one abused, and a couple of other people, in all fairness.

No, I don't know anything about it. I haven't heard it. I mean, I will speak to him. I don't -- I don't think so. They would have told me. I would have known about it.

Please.

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President.

The Nevada delegation is unhappy because smaller casinos and businesses that make a profit...

TRUMP: In Nevada?

QUESTION: ... from gaming -- in Nevada -- found out they're not eligible for the CARES Act PPP money.

Is this -- and not -- I talked to one member who said, gaming...

TRUMP: You mean because of the number of employees?

QUESTION: Because of the number of employees...

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: And yet they're small businesses.

QUESTION: And they thought gaming would be -- would not be treated any differently than any other business with this.

Was this an oversight?

TRUMP: Well, I can look at that. I can look.

It's a great state, and I will take a look at that strongly. Are you talking only the smaller casinos?

QUESTION: That's...

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: I'll take a look at that. Fine. I don't mind that.

Please.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

TRUMP: Yes, we will take a look, yes. We haven't heard. Nobody has told me about it. But I'll look at it.

They -- they -- it's a great state. They do a great job. So I'm going to look at it very strongly. I understand what they mean.

Please.

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President.

In terms of the economy, what if you urge Americans to go back to work, and they don't listen to you? Would you leave that up to the governors, to businesses, to citizens to decide when it's safe to stop social distancing?

TRUMP: Well, when you say they don't listen, I think they're going to listen. They want to go back. Everybody wants -- they're going stir crazy.

They have been in those houses and those apartments and their buildings. I mean, they have really been -- they have done a great job.

Again, when you look -- the question was just asked about -- you know, about how we're doing compared to projections. Those were just original projections, the big projection being 2.2 million people would die if we did nothing. That was another decision we made, close it up.

That was a big decision that we made. Two very smart people walked into my office, and they said, listen, these are your alternatives. And that was a projection of, I guess, 1.5 to 2.2 million people would die if we didn't close it up.

That's a lot of people. So, if we do a number that's tremendously smaller than that -- now, if we did close it up, the numbers got to 100 to 220 million people.

So, if we can stay substantially under the 100, which was the original projection, I think we all did a very good job, even though it's a lot of people.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Say it? QUESTION: You think we will be on track for that by May 1?

TRUMP: Well, right now, we're -- I mean, we're doing well in terms of the numbers.

I can't tell you in terms of the date. You know, we don't want to -- we don't want to go down, and then we can start going up, if we're not careful. So, we have to be careful.

[18:30:03]

As far as distancing, social distancing and other things, certainly for a while, you know, at some point, that's going away. We'll be able to sit next to each other, like we have all our lives. This is a very unique thing. This has not happened, anything like this of this magnitude since 1917-1918, the great pandemic. That was something. But, yes, no, people want to sit next to each other at restaurants. They want to sit next to each other like normal at a football game, baseball game, basketball game, hockey game. No, we want to go back to life.

Now, first period of time, maybe we'll go a little bit slower and maybe we'll be talking about distancing, but at some point we expect to be back like it was before. And hopefully it will never happen. Hopefully, if it does happen, it's going to be in a hundred years from now. The last one, 1917, that's something. That's a long time ago, and that was a horrible thing.

Jim, go ahead.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I wanted to get back to what you were saying yesterday about people going to Wisconsin and voting in the middle of this pandemic, really putting their lives on the line. And you said, well, if they do that, vote by mail perhaps we'll have voter fraud in this country.

I wanted to ask you voters in five states, and you talk about why Washington and Oregon vote by mail. Can you or the White House staff or your campaign provide any evidence to back up your reporting claim that mail-in voting is rife with fraud, like the example you gave with people working in rooms, filling out false ballots? You've been talking about voter fraud since the beginning of this administration. And where is the evidence of it?

TRUMP: I think there's a lot of evidence, but we'll provide you with some, okay? And there's evidence that's being compiled, just like it's being compiled in the State of California, where they settled with judicial law saying that a million people should not have been voting.

And you saw that -- excuse me, well, I'm just telling you. I'm telling you in California, in the great State of California, they settled, and we could have gone a lot further. Judicial watch settled where they agreed that a million people should not have voted where they were 115 years old and lots of things and people were voting in their place.

What I see and, you know, every one of those states that you mentioned is a state that happens to be won by the Democrats. And if you have a position like me where it's registered, you're here and you're voting someplace where I'm not, I haven't left the White House in I guess months other than to ask a ship to wave it good-bye to New York, which by the way is now going, as you know, being used for the purpose that we're talking about, which a lot of people wanted. Wait a minute.

ACOSTA: -- voting doesn't work out well for the Republicans. So is it your concern, really, was political --

TRUMP: It certainly hasn't. But if you're a senior citizen and if you're somebody that needs it, I'm all for it. But they have to be careful because you know the things with bundling and all of the things that are happening with votes by mail where thousands of votes are gathered, and I'm not going to say which party does it, but thousands of votes are gathered and they come in are dumped in a location and then all of a sudden you lose elections if you think you're going to win. I won't stand for it. Well, we're going to find out about the proof because you're going to see what's going on. And I'm not going to stand for it.

Our voting system, first of all, we should have voter I.D. When you vote, you should have voter I.D. And when you send something in, you should be sure, as a state and as a country, you should be sure that that vote is meaningful and it's not just made fraudulently, because there's a lot of fraudulent voting going on in this country. This country should have voter I.D.

Okay, let's do another one. Go on, please.

REPORTER: Mr. President, the only way to contract these millions of doses of hydroxychloroquine that are being distributed across the country is through the eHealth data system. How systematically is your task force watching this --

TRUMP: Well, I think it's very systematic, yes. We're distributing the hydroxy all through the country. It's being distributed in large amounts. We have it coming in now. We're up to 29 million doses and then we went to 30 million doses, but we have it coming in all throughout the country. And much of it is being distributed. In fact, it will start going down what we have in our stockpile.

And, again, it's had -- I hope it works. Again, I'm not a doctor, as you possibly have found out. I'm not a doctor but I'm a person with common sense. And we've had some very good results over the course, including a woman who just reported it two days ago.

Yes?

REPORTER: Through the eHealth data system, are they --

TRUMP: I didn't know. We're looking to provide it in many different ways.

[18:35:00]

In many ways, we're in certain instances we have been asked -- in the case of Michigan, we have been asked who the governor of Michigan would like to, I think she has become a big fan of it, as a medication, as something that's going to help with this horrible virus. And we are delivering it to the governments of various states when they ask. So certain states are asking, certain governments are asking and we are delivering it directly to the government.

Yes, please, go ahead.

REPORTER: Thank you very much, Mr. President. We know many people around the world are paying close attention this press conference. So on behalf of --

TRUMP: Where are you from?

REPORTER: I am from Taiwan.

TRUMP: Good.

REPORTER: Yes. On behalf of the foreign media group, I would like to ask you two questions. First question is that the French president, Macron, called the Iranian President Rouhani and say that Europe has started to shift the medical goods to Iran. Will you consider that --

TRUMP: Medical goods?

REPORTER: Yes.

TRUMP: That doesn't bother me.

REPORTER: Yes. So will you --

TRUMP: If they are sending medical goods to Iran, that doesn't bother me. No. Okay?

REPORTER: Yes. So the other question is that that we are also paying attention to the U.S. election. So we are also -- we know that Bernie Sanders has dropped out.

TRUMP: Well, I did see that today. But he didn't really drop out. He did not really do -- what about his delegates? I mean, he said he is going to keep his delegates, and which is sort of interesting. He is going to keep his delegates, and he'd like to get more.

Now, is he dropping out or not? That's not dropping out. When you keep your delegates and then you want more delegates before you get to the convention, that is a weird deal going on there. I don't know what's happening. And I do not know why President Obama has not supported Joe Biden a long time ago. There is something he feels is wrong. Why isn't he had come out. I am sure he is going to come out at some point because he certainly doesn't want to see me for four more years. We are not -- we think a little bit differently.

You know what, I will tell you it does amaze me President Obama hasn't supported sleepy Joe. It just had not happened. When is it going to happen? When is going to happen? Why isn't -- he knows something that you don't know, that I think I know, but you do not know. So it will be interesting.

But with Bernie, I saw his standard fair today, I watched. And I hope that a lot of Bernie Sanders people, just like they did last time, we got a tremendous percentage of Bernie people, and I think they have voted for me largely because of trade, because Bernie and I agree on trade. We agree that the United States has been ripped off by virtually every country they do business with.

The difference is, I have done a lot about it, and I am doing more about it. And we have made incredible trade deals, including USMCA, the deal with China, and then all of a sudden that gets disturbed by this virus situation. But China has to spend almost $250 billion on purchasing our products, $40 to $50 billion with our farmers. And the Bernie Sanders people are big believers on what I am saying on trade, and I got a lot of them in the last election that surprised people but did not surprise me.

Now, those are great people. They are great people. But I just -- look, I am looking at Bernie Sanders. I watched this morning and I said what is all that about? Like you said the delegates, the delegates. He is not giving up his delegates. He is keeping them, and he said he wants to get more of them. And I think he is doing it to negotiate, I assume, but I do not know, that is a hard thing to do.

Yes. Jeff, go ahead.

REPORTER: Mr. President, OPEC is meeting with Russia tomorrow and some other countries to discuss oil prices. Oil prices are at $23 --

TRUMP: Oh, that is good. Finally, somebody knows something when they ask a question.

REPORTER: What is your message to them ahead of their meeting tomorrow? Will the U.S. consider a coordinated cut of production here?

TRUMP: I don't think -- look, we already cut -- you know, we are like very market oriented. If you look at Texas and if you look North Dakota and if you look at some of our states that do this very well, they have already cut way back. You know, they have cut back automatically.

But in the case of Russia, in the case of Saudi Arabia, they increased production at a time when you did not need it, and then they got hit by the virus which knocked out 40 percent of the market, and now they are flooded with oil.

Look, I just say this. You have two countries that are getting hurt very badly. Russia is getting hurt, that is their primary source, and Saudi Arabia, that's definitely their primary source, and it does not make sense that they flooded the market for whatever reason. They did that for themselves. It is an argument that they had. And I think they will straighten it out. A lot of progress has been made over the last week. And it will be interesting to see what comes out of OPEC tomorrow.

But OPEC obviously -- for many years, I used to think OPEC was very unfair. I hated OPEC. You want another truth, I hated it, because it was a fix.

[18:40:02]

But somewhere along the line that broke down and it went the opposite way. And we have a tremendously powerful energy industry in this country now, number one in the world and I do not want those jobs being lost. Okay.

REPORTER: What will you do if they do not end up cutting tomorrow.

TRUMP: We will see. And I have a lot of options. Please, a lot of good option, Jeff, beauties. I might like it even more. Now, you want to watch, let's see what happens. Hopefully, they can make a deal. Let's go.

REPORTER: Thank you, Mr. President. Clearly, Americans are getting very anxious to go back to work --

TRUMP: Yes, they do, including me.

REPORTER: -- something optimistic, still very big. Now that the IMAG (ph) model specifically has been adjusted down to 61,000, when are we going to open back up? Can you give us a better date? Is it going to be April 30th, May 1st?

TRUMP: You said adjusted back down to 61,000. What was adjusted back down?

REPORTER: The IMAG model, the one that originally predicted like between 100,000 and 200,000.

TRUMP: That was still a big number, right? 61, right? That's a big number. Go ahead.

REPORTER: But can you give us some more specific date? Will it be April 30th or May 1st?

TRUMP: Look, I had a date and I thought it was a very aspirational date. It's turning out to be very interesting because a lot of good things are happening by Easter. But I had a very aspirational date. I didn't think you could make it. I did not say we would do it by Easter. But I said, well, would not be great to shoot for Easter. That will be a great day, a beautiful day, a very important day to a lot of people like me and like some of you in the room. Maybe all of you in the room, frankly. But Easter is a very important day.

So I had -- aspirationally, I said, let us see if we can do it at Easter, you know, but I said it would be very tough. And I was criticized for that, so I don't like giving dates. And that was not a date. That was just an aspiration. That would have been incredible.

But I don't think we were going to be very far behind. And some of these models are looking like Easter is going to be an important date anyway because of the curve. It is hitting the top and then it is starting to come down. And one person said Easter is looking like a good time, so a good time for that, for heading down. So we will see what happens.

Look, there is no reason to do that. We have a lot of good things happening. When I spoke to the governor of Louisiana today, he said, Tony, they need far less beds. And I said, well, good, because we are building 1,000 room additional. We have built them a 1,000 beds, and now we are building another 1,000. And I said, listen, is there a way that we do not build -- I do not want to build them if they do not need them.

In New York, the Javits isn't too heavily used. It is ready to go, 2,900 beds, plus, we now have the ship set for COVID, if they want to use it. And we are using it for Governor Murphy in New Jersey, so we will see what happens. But, you know, the numbers are coming way down. The ventilators, we are all set. We have a lot to go if we want, but we are not getting -- I am not getting calls when they need ventilators anymore, so we were right on those ventilators.

I would love to have additional ventilators for some of the countries that are our allies and our friends. And even if they are not our allies and friends, you are saving human lives. But I would love to see if we had some -- and we are making a lot of ventilators right now. We have -- and they take a while to make, and they are very expensive, and they are very complex to make. But I would love to be able to help other countries once we are taken care of.

But I just sent 100 ventilators to Colorado. And that was great. A Senator there who is a terrific senator, Cory, Cory Gardner, and he called me last night. He said, could you get 100 ventilators for Colorado, and we just sent them out. And they will be there very shortly. So -- but it looks like we are in great shape from the bed standpoint. It looks like we are in great shape from the ventilator standpoint.

And you just heard, I ordered 500 million masks, 500 N95s and others and surgical. But we ordered 500 million masks, 300 and 200, and they are going to be here very shortly. So we are really in great shape. And we started off with an empty cupboard.

So I am going to leave the Vice President and his group to handle it, and I will see you probably tomorrow. Okay? Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you.

MIKE PENCE, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: You will come up if you want -- okay.

Well, good evening, everyone. And to our fellow Americans out west, good afternoon.

We find ourselves in the midst of a very tough week for Americans in areas most impacted by coronavirus, the New York City area, New Jersey, Louisiana.

[18:45:10]

We continue to focus resources and attention on those areas. And I know that the hearts and prayers of the American people are with all of those communities. But in the wake of more than 1.9 million tests, we see more than

400,000 Americans have tested positive for the coronavirus, and sadly, we have lost more than 14,000. We grieve, but as the Good Book says, we do not grieve like those who have no hope. In this very special week, I know that the faith of millions of Americans is of comfort to them. The president and I spoke to more than 10,000 faith leaders, and we were able to express to them our gratitude for the way that they're strengthening the communities that they serve.

But we also find hope in the numbers that Dr. Birx will continue to reflect on today. For as Dr. Fauci explained yesterday and in the days before, the losses, as grievous as they are, that we are seeing today are a reflection of people that contracted the coronavirus in many cases before strong mitigation steps were taken, before the guidelines for America fully took hold. The cases, however, and the new cases and the hospitalizations are, in fact, a reflection of the results of what the American people are doing.

And I want to echo the president's and Dr. Birx's statements today about the extraordinary work the American people are doing, because we continue to see a great progress, low and steady numbers in the states of California and Washington. And in the New York Metropolitan Area, New Jersey, New Orleans Metro Area, Detroit, Chicago, and Boston, we continue to see evidence of stabilization that should be an encouragement every American, an encouragement of that we may, may be reaching the point where the impact of the coronavirus is beginning to level off.

But it also should be an encouragement to every American to keep doing what we are all doing. Heed the guidance of your state and local authorities, and for every American, continue to put the White House coronavirus guidelines for America into effect.

An area of particular concern we were briefed on this morning is the city of Philadelphia. I spoke today to Governor Tom Wolf, and as we begin to see early trendlines in Philadelphia, I assured him that we are going to continue to flow resources and support to that community. But our message to the people of the Philadelphia area is, now more than ever, practice the social distancing so that Philadelphia and to some extent even Pittsburgh do not have to endure what other communities before them have had to endure.

Also today at the president's direction, we hosted a conference call with every Republican member of the House of Representatives and every Democrat member of the House of Representatives, and we express our appreciation to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Leader Kevin McCarthy for convening these forums.

We brought together key members of our task force team. The Secretary of the Treasury discussed the progress that we've made on paycheck protection. He reported to members of Congress that so far we are working with more than 3,600 lenders across the country, and we have disbursed more than $98 billion in forgivable loans. These are loans that if small businesses have accept this money and use it to keep people on their payroll over the next two months, they will be completely forgiven. The Treasury tonight will be issuing a new FAQ, frequently asked questions, document that will also make it clear that lenders may use their own closing documents for completing loan applications, and that information is available at Treasury.gov and SBA.gov as well.

Dr. Birx and Dr. Fauci briefed the members of Congress today on the latest data. They'll both reflect on that in a moment. We also had Admiral John Polowczyk talk about our control tower system and the extraordinary flow of supplies to critical areas across the country.

[18:50:07]

We also briefed on the disbursement of resources to local hospitals with Seema Verma, and gave them an update on what the secretary of state spoke about today.

It's remarkable to think more than 50,000 Americans brought back home through nearly 500 flights, and we thank the members of Congress who have worked with the State Department to identify family members and groups that found themselves stranded overseas, and we are grateful for that.

In addition to our interaction with members of Congress today, we spoke with the president of the Henry Ford Hospital, Bob Riney. It is the Henry Ford Hospital that is conducting a clinical trial for hydroxychloroquine. He expressed great enthusiasm for the work that they had done. They had a rather overwhelming response to the initial trial, which is beginning this week with 3,000 people taking the hydroxychloroquine or a placebo so they can match it. But what the president of the Henry Ford Hospital told me is they would like to expand the test. I put him in touch with Steve Hahn and the FDA, and we'll be adding several more clinical trial paths to look at impacts on particular demographic groups, including seniors and minority populations. And more on that in just a moment.

In the category of supplies and support, the president as of today has signed 52 major disaster declarations. Vermont was the latest approved. And states have stood up some 27,000 National Guard that are aiding in coronavirus response.

On the critical subject of ventilators, we do have currently more than 8,000 ventilators in our Strategic National Stockpile, and distributed more to the Navajo Nation in Colorado today. But also today, we received the good news that the first delivery of newly manufactured ventilators from General Electric and Hamilton arrived at the Strategic National Stockpile, and as the president said, we'll be adding newly manufactured ventilators to our resources to be available as the coronavirus epidemic reaches critical communities around the country.

On the subject of the air bridge, four flights scheduled to arrive today primarily focused on gloves for our incredible health care workers. One flight alone had nearly 19 million gloves, another 8 million, another 15 million, and the like. And the American people, I think, would be very proud of to see this vast array of now well more than 50 flights that are bringing in supplies from all over the world. And again, working through FEMA, we are directing those resources with the guidance of our scientific experts to the communities most in need.

As we announced yesterday, the White House coronavirus task force has requested that the CDC and our team have assemble data on the unique impact that we are seeing reported on African-Americans from the coronavirus. Dr. Fauci spoke about it yesterday, and we'll reflect on his perspective on that as well.

Tomorrow with the surgeon general and others on the White House team, we'll be speaking with leaders in the African-American community. And as Dr. Fauci will reflect, there have been historic challenges in the health care of the African-American communities, particularly in our inner cities. And now more than ever, I'll just say for my heart to all of our African-American family members, now more than ever, practice the guidelines. Look after those most vulnerable, people that have underlying serious health conditions. It's more important than ever that we all put those principles into practice.

Finally today, I'm going to have -- after we hear from Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx, I'm going to ask Dr. Redfield to step up, because today the CDC will be publishing new guidance on essential critical workers who have been exposed to COVID-19 but don't have any symptoms, don't have any temperature, and don't have any reason to believe that they have the coronavirus.

At the present moment, the guidance is that if you have been in proximity to someone who did test positive for the coronavirus, that the guidance of CDC is that even with essential critical workers in industries from health care to food supply, that we ask people to stay home for 14 days.

{18:55:07]

The new guidance tonight will, hopefully, make it clear that there would be an opportunity for those people playing such an incredible role in our nation's response to be able to return to work and to do so safely.

And finally, let me just say again how inspired we are at the response of the American people to the coronavirus epidemic. Each and every day, as we see the beginnings of encouraging news, the low and steady numbers in California and Washington state, and now beginning to see numbers of hospitalizations going down and new cases leveling, and in some cases going down. We all hope it is the beginning of a trend, but we also hope it's an encouragement to every American to keep doing what you're doing, not just for your own health and the health of your loved ones, but because we want to make sure that all of us are doing our part to make sure that the fewest number of Americans possible are exposed to the coronavirus.

Given the fact that this, I remind you, is three times more contagious than the flu, each of us has a role to play in slowing the spread. That's what the 30 days to slow the spread is all about. It's about protecting your health. It's about making sure that our health care workers and our health care system is not overwhelmed by the coronavirus. And ultimately it is about saving lives. We talk about the numbers, and I'm going to ask Dr. Birx to come up

and reflect on them, but I think all of us know this is one American at a time. It's one heartbreak at a time. And having lost loved ones in my life, just like everyone here and everyone looking on, we want to work every day to make that number of losses the lowest possible, and it will take all of us to do it and to keep doing exactly what we are doing through today.

Dr. Birx?

DR. DEBORAH BIRX, CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: Thank you, Mr. Vice president.

I just want to start where the vice president left off. I come out of the services, Army. We always talk about honoring the fallen, and I think for every American, what we can do now to honor the fallen that have fallen and given really their deaths to this horrible disease, to the health care workers that are on the front lines trying to save every single one, to honor them, and to honor our elders and the individuals that we know are at the greatest risk for bad outcomes, we all need to continue to do our work.

Yes, the number of cases has stabilized or is stabilizing, but I do want to go through those numbers with you, because we talk about these as micro-epidemics in metro areas and in rural areas. So in the New York Metro Area, which includes obviously northern New Jersey, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, there are still 11,000 new cases per day, and their positivity rate on their testing is still in the 40 percent plus range. So there is still a significant amount of disease there, and everyone needs to continue to follow the guidelines.

New Orleans Metro Area, 800 new cases per day, but a zero positivity rate on their testing of 28 percent. Detroit Metro Area, 1,400 cases per day, 26 percent positivity. Chicago, 1,200 cases per day and 18 percent. Boston, 18 percent positivity, 1,100 cases per day. Denver has fallen to 180 cases per day, but still has 15 percent zero positivity in their testing. California and Washington have stayed stable at about, Seattle, 350 cases per day, the L.A. Metro Area, 800 cases per day. But they test positive rates are remaining in the nine percent range.

And so this really gives us some idea of what it takes. They have been continuously mitigating. Imagine what we are talking about, New York going from 40-plusplus percent zero positivity and 11,000 cases a day down to the L.A. Metro Area of 800 cases per day and nine percent.

So this is what when the president talks about reaching the top and coming down, those other kinds of things we need to see. And the only way we will see them is if every American continues to follow the guidance.

Now, in the Philadelphia Metro Area, where I come from, it is 1,400 cases per day. This of course includes Camden, the counties around the Philadelphia Metro and Wilmington.