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THE SITUATION ROOM
White House Holds Coronavirus Task Force Briefing. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired April 13, 2020 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Shut it down. We have one case.
Seven cases were on January 31. Now, on January 21, there was a case. Not one person had died.
You heard that, Steve, right? Not one person.
So, we have this massive country, the United States of America. We have the greatest economy in the world, bigger than China's by a lot, right, because of what we have done over the last three-and-a-half years, prior to the virus, but including the virus. So we have the biggest economy, the greatest economy we have ever had, the highest employment numbers, the best employment numbers, best unemployment numbers, also, the best of everything.
So, on January 31, think of it, not one person has died. Not one. Nobody died. Not one, Jon. You -- I don't think you will find any. This is reported by CDC, confirmed by the news, which doesn't mean anything to me, because they don't tell the truth.
But CDC reported. January 31, not one person has died. And I issued a travel restriction from China. Think of it. So, nobody died, and I issue it. You can't get earlier than that.
So we have nobody died. And I said, China, you can't come in, I'm sorry, because I saw what was going on. It wasn't so much what I was told. It was that I saw what was going on. And I didn't like it.
But I didn't speak to Tony about it. Didn't speak to very many people about it. I didn't like it.
So, what did I do? Ready? January 31, in the United States, not one person had died because of the -- again, the Wuhan virus. So, I issued travel restrictions on that date, even though nobody died, and I got brutalized over it by the press, because I was way too early. I shouldn't have done it. Brutalized by the press.
But sort of I have been brutalized for the last four years. I used to do well, before I decided to run for politics. But I guess I'm doing OK, because, to the best of my knowledge, I'm the president of the United States, despite the things that are said. So, then, first mandatory quarantine in more than 50 years, we did,
first mandatory in 50 years, the same restrictions that the Democrats and the media called xenophobic. Now, Joe Biden said, he's a racist. He called me a racist because I said we're shutting down entry from China. We're shutting it down. He called me xenophobic, and he called me a racist and other things.
Since then, on a Friday night two weeks ago, Joe Biden issued a statement -- it wasn't him. He didn't write it. I'm sure he doesn't even know that it was issued.
But the people from his campaign, who are smart -- people that write those little P.R. releases are pretty smart, reasonably good, not the best, but they're not bad.
But they issued a statement saying that Joe Biden agrees that the president -- that President Trump was right to close it down to China.
Now, he did that. Now, he issued on a Friday night. We have all heard about that, Jon, Friday nights, right? In fact, his later was Friday night than I ever released mine on Friday nights.
So, he did -- he did it pretty late, I mean, like at 11:00 in the evening or something. It's pretty late.
Anyway, so Joe Biden issued. And it's one of those things.
But, in February, Nancy Pelosi said we should come to Chinatown. This is late February. Come to Chinatown. We think it's very safe. Come here. Let's all have the big parade, Chinatown parade, probably referring to San Francisco. And that's it.
But I took this action early. And so the story in "The New York Times" was a total fake. It's a fake newspaper, and they write fake stories.
And, someday, hopefully in five years, when I'm not here, those papers are all going out of business, because nobody is going to want to read them. But now they like them, because they write about me.
Now, with that, I have a couple of interesting -- we have a few clips that we're just going to put up. We could turn the lights a little bit lower. I think you will find them interesting. And then we will answer some questions. I'll ask you some questions, because you're so guilty, but forget it.
But, most importantly, we're going to get back onto the reason we're here, which is the success we're having. OK?
Please, you could put it on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People should be more concerned right now with the flu in this country. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of people are concerned about the coronavirus because they're hearing a lot of news about it right now. But the reality is, comparing it to the flu, for example, it's not even close to being at that stage.
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: What if it is worse? Is this a moment where maybe countries put politics aside, a little bit of pride aside? And do we have U.S. officials? Should U.S. professionals such as yourself get involved?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How worried should Americans be about coronavirus?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Coronavirus is not going to cause a major issue in the United States.
TRUMP: Well, we have asked them to accelerate whatever they're doing in terms of a vaccine.
We will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days.
To unleash the full power of the federal government in this effort, today, I am officially declaring a national emergency.
Medicare patients can now visit any doctor by phone or videoconference at no additional cost.
MARK ESPER, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: The first one million masks will be available immediately.
MAGGIE HABERMAN, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": As there were more cases, and it was clear that it was spreading out of China, where it originated, the president took this move that he was widely criticized for by Democrats and even some Republicans at the time, which was, he halted a number of flights from China into the U.S.
The idea was to halt the spread of the disease, keep transmissions to a minimum. He was accused of xenophobia. He was accused of making a racist move. At the end of the day, it was probably effective, because it did actually take a pretty aggressive measure against the spread of the virus.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: All right, I want to quickly go to our Daniel Dale, as the -- this continues.
I wanted Daniel Dale, our fact-checker here at CNN, to give us some analysis of what we're seeing right now.
DANIEL DALE, CNN REPORTER: Sure. So, the president has continually attacked Joe Biden for his comments the day the travel restrictions on China were announced on January 31.
I think it's important to note that Biden never explicitly criticized those restrictions. What happened was, around the same time the restrictions were announced in the afternoon of January 31, Biden was giving a speech in Iowa in which he said he wanted the response to be led by science, rather than Trump's, what he said was a record of xenophobia.
Now, Biden's campaign says that he didn't even know at the time that Secretary of Health Alex Azar had announced just minutes prior that there would be those restrictions.
Now, I don't think the Trump inference is crazy, given the timing. But it's important to note, Biden did not flip-flop, as Trump suggested. He never made an explicit expression of support for the restrictions.
I think it's also important to note, Wolf, that when the president claims that he was fast, he acted early on the virus, he constantly cites these travel restrictions on China.
What his critics are pointing to is slowness in other important respects, a slowness in deploying critical tests that could have helped contain the spread of the virus, a slowness in acquiring ventilators and personal protective equipment.
So it's fair for the president to cite the China restrictions, but this is not all people are talking about, all that people say are important, when they talk about the federal response to the pandemic.
BLITZER: That's an important point.
Jim Acosta, clearly, the president is very, very sensitive to that article that appeared yesterday, a very long article over the weekend in "The New York Times" documenting what was going on--
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes.
BLITZER: -- and recommendations that were coming to the White House in sort of mid-February to go ahead and start taking some drastic steps.
But the president waited, what, three weeks or so to begin that process.
ACOSTA: That's right, Wolf.
And one thing we should point out, Dr. Fauci, did go up there and clarify those comments that he made on "STATE OF THE UNION" saying that, yes, obviously, if social distancing had started sooner, perhaps we'd have fewer people who have -- who have died from the coronavirus.
And the president obviously does not like it when senior officials in the government disagree with him publicly or--
BLITZER: All right, hold on for a moment, Jim. ACOSTA: -- make comments that put him in a negative light.
BLITZER: I want to get back to you, but the president has stopped the videos.
I want to listen back to hear what he says.
TRUMP: I mean, if you had libel laws, they would have been out of business even before they will end up going out of business.
So it's too bad. But we could have given -- you saw the statements. We have hundreds of statements, hundreds of statements, including from Democrats and Democrat governors. And if you look, they were all saying, we need ventilators, we need -- you don't hear ventilators anymore.
They have all the ventilators they need, which we were right about. We said, you're asking for too many. You don't need that.
And, in all fairness, these two people right here, Dr. Birx, Dr. Fauci, they said, I don't think they need that many ventilators. I said, I agree.
At one point -- and I'm not knocking New York for this -- but they were asking, you remember, 40,000 ventilators. And that's more than they have all over the country. And we got them a lot of ventilators. And nobody's complained.
We got them, as you know, beautiful -- we built hospital rooms all over the country. The governor of Louisiana, John Bel Edwards, was very nice. He said, you know what, you don't have to build a second hospital, because good news is happening.
They're not able to fill the beds. They needed two hospitals. We built one. It was perfect. We're getting -- we were just starting the other. I called him up. I said, do you think we should build the second one? I don't think you're going to need it.
He said, let me get back. He got back. We didn't need it.
With Governor Cuomo, in all good spirit and faith, he wanted to have the Jacob Javits Center done. And we built 2,900 incredible beds, incredible. Then we make it -- we made it COVID and -- or, to be exactly accurate, COVID-19, and -- which was a lot of work.
We had to change the ductwork. We had to seal up certain areas. We had to put areas of rooftop things over the beds.
BLITZER: All right, let me take another quick break, as the president continues to strongly try to defend himself.
Jim Acosta, I interrupted you before.
Clearly, the president is so sensitive to the criticism he's been getting over these past few days. He's decided to go on the offensive, going after the news media, going after Democrats, going after the likely Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden.
It underscores how sensitive--
BLITZER: -- he is to all the criticism he's been receiving.
ACOSTA: That's right, Wolf.
And we have been we have been reporting all day the president has been fretting over Dr. Fauci's comments in the news media.
This is obviously, I think, a symptom of that. But what we just saw a few moments ago -- and it's a good thing we cut out of it -- is that the White House essentially tried to play a campaign-style video in the White House Briefing Room defending the president's handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Wolf, these briefings have been compared to rallies because of the way the president plays fast and loose with the facts. Well, that's another way you can compare these briefings or this briefing today to the president's rallies.
That is the kind of video you would expect to see at one of his rallies at any arena or venue like that across the country.
The other thing we should point out, Wolf, while we're getting into this, the president is obviously defending himself and putting Dr. Fauci out there to defend him over these comments that he made on "STATE OF THE UNION" when he said, well, obviously, if these social distancing measures had gone in place sooner, that we'd have a lower number of dead in this country.
But keep in mind, that is not the only factor in all of this. In addition to this question of whether or not social distancing measures should have gone into place, the president, over the last couple of months, repeatedly, time and again, almost on a daily basis, downplayed the severity of the coronavirus outbreak.
He was saying it was going to go away, that it was going to miraculously disappear, that, in April, when things got warmer, the virus would go away, that he had things under control, the administration had things under control.
All of those things ended up being false. And, obviously, there's another criticism there that can be leveled against the president. And that is, when he was making all those comments, the country wasn't -- parts of the country weren't taking this seriously enough, when they should have -- Wolf.
BLITZER: It's a very important point, Jim Acosta, that you're making.
This is the White House Briefing Room. It's not a campaign rally out in some city at some huge auditorium or stadium or anything like that. ACOSTA: That's right.
BLITZER: It's the White House. It's the government. And we're seeing these political statements, very, very partisan, very angry political statements, the attacks against various enemies that the president sees.
ACOSTA: It's stunning.
BLITZER: All right, I want to bring John King, our chief national correspondent, into this as well.
John, it's pretty extraordinary to see what's going on right now over these past few minutes over in the White House.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Extraordinary doesn't do it justice, Wolf.
The president has every right to defend himself. The president has a key -- a few key points he wants to make about his action on the China ban. He's absolutely correct.
However, I spent nine-and-a-half years in that building, close to 10 years in that building, including in that Briefing Room as a White House correspondent, many of them working with you back in the Clinton administration. Then I stayed on through the George W. Bush administration.
That was propaganda. That was not just a campaign video. That was propaganda aired at taxpayer expense in the White House Briefing Room. And it was selective, cherry-picking information.
Again, the president has every right to be proud of imposing the travel restrictions on China. He was criticized by other people at the time. And it turns out, every public health expert will now tell you that that helped, that helped.
That was the one thing the president did early on. Some of those other things that were announced in there were cherry-picked, and they ignore some things, like, on January 22, when the president was asked by CNBC, do you -- is there going to be a pandemic? No, not at all.
That was the president of the United States on January 22. The president in early February said, it looks like, in April, you know, in theory, gets a little warmer, it miraculously goes away.
The president said then, on February 26, at the White House, this is the flu, this is like the flu. He said in that same press conference, we're going to get very substantially 15 people; 15, within a couple of days, it's going to be down to zero.
I could go on and on and on, Wolf, with other things the president has said. Again, he has every right to defend himself. He has every right to push back. He has every right to challenge things that are factually not true. But to play a propaganda video, at taxpayer expense, in the White
House Briefing Room, is a new, you can insert your favorite word here, in this administration.
There are ways to do things, and then there's that. That's just plain- out propaganda--.
KING: -- in the James Brady Briefing Room of the White House.
BLITZER: Something I would expect from his reelection campaign, not from the sitting president of the United States in the Briefing Room, very, very awkward, to put it mildly.
Daniel Dale, I want to get back to you right now, because you're looking closely at this as far as the facts vs. the fiction.
DALE: Yes, Wolf, I think it's important to note that, when the president touts these travel restrictions on China, he perpetually makes them sound like they were a ban.
And they were not a ban. What Trump did was prohibit a certain number of people. So, he excluded U.S. citizens, permanent residents.
BLITZER: All right, hold on a second, Daniel.
BLITZER: I want to go back to the briefing right now.
TRUMP: We didn't -- they didn't have a problem. We got them tremendous numbers of -- thousands, but we got them tremendous number of ventilators.
You don't hear ventilators are a problem. Beds were going to be a problem. I mean, I'm happy about it. The Javits Center, which is incredible, is almost empty, because they don't need it. That's good news, not bad news.
I -- I'm not saying, gee, I wish more people were there. I don't want more people there. We brought in the boat. We brought in the Comfort. And the Comfort was originally not supposed to be for this at all, the coronavirus, not supposed to be for that at all.
They called. They said, could we have it? That was a number of weeks ago. We said, we don't think you need it. But if you need it, we will do it.
Then they said, could you get the medical personnel to run the Javits Center? Could you get the medical personnel to run the ship? We said, if it's necessary, we will. And we did. There were military personnel.
That's the ones that Mayor de Blasio was so great to in terms of his statements. I mean, I really appreciated his statements. He was so impressed with them. And I am too, the level of -- of genius and bravery. They're great people, the military people.
And we pieced that together. I would say it took less than two hours. It was done in-house.
QUESTION: But -- but, just to be clear, this was produced by government employees, by people here at the White House, this campaign-style video here?
TRUMP: I wouldn't use the word produced.
All they did was took some clips, and they just ran them for you. And the reason they did is to keep you honest.
Now, I don't think that's going to work. It's not going to have any impact. But just think of it. You heard the clips. You heard what I said. They said, I acted late on closing down the country? Some people wish we never closed it down.
Now, if we didn't, we would have lost hundreds of thousands of people.
You know, interestingly -- so, I'm -- I'm against that. We did the right thing. Everything we did was right.
If we would have closed down--
QUESTION: You don't think--
QUESTION: -- any mistakes along the way here? You think everything you did was right?
TRUMP: Well -- well, look, governors should have had ventilators. They chose not to have them. We were able to get them ventilators. You haven't heard -- other than -- you know, there was a lot of panic, a lot of screaming, we want ventilators.
They got the ventilators. You don't have that anymore. And the surge is supposed to be coming now. And if they do need ventilators, Jon, we have got almost 10,000 that are ready to rock. We have people standing with those ventilators right now.
If you needed 2,000 in New York, which you don't, but if you did, we can have them here in less than 24 hours. We're ready to rock.
TRUMP: This was a great -- this was a great military, and beyond that, operation.
Let's get back to the regular -- should we get back to the regular? We can talk about this. But all I'm doing is this. I could have given you -- like, those are four or five clips that we just played for you.
I could have given you hundreds of people. I mean, Gavin was on television two days ago with one of your competitors singing praise. He says, look -- you know, the question was asked in a negative way. He said, look, I know what you want to say, but -- want me to say, but he's been really good. It's hard for me to say that. In fact, it's impossible for me to say it, Gavin Newsom, the governor of California.
TRUMP: I have many clips from many -- I have some clips from Anthony that I didn't want to put up, which were really good.
I think Anthony would be the first one to say, when I closed the country to China, when I closed the -- the China ban, whatever you want to call it, Anthony said, I saved a lot of lives by doing that.
I mean, am I correct? Not -- I don't want to put words in Anthony's mouth, by the way. And I like him. Today, I walk in. I hear I'm going to fire him. I'm not firing -- I think he's a wonderful guy.
QUESTION: Why did you tweet something that said fire Fauci? Why did you--
QUESTION: You retweeted #FireFauci.
TRUMP: I retweeted somebody. I don't know.
They said fire -- it doesn't matter.
QUESTION: Did you notice that when you retweeted it?
TRUMP: Yes, I notice everything.
QUESTION: So, you retweeted it, even though it said time to fire Fauci?
TRUMP: No. No. That somebody's opinion. All that is, is an opinion.
QUESTION: But you read it, and you elevated it.
TRUMP: No, I was told about that.
I said, I'm not firing. In fact, if you ask your friends in the office, in the public relations office, I was immediately called upon that. And I said, no, I like him. I think he's terrific, because this was a person's view.
Not everybody's happy with Anthony. Not everybody's happy with everybody.
But I will tell you, we have done a job, the likes of which nobody's ever done, the mobilization, getting of equipment, all of the things we have done. Nobody's ever done a job like this. We have 50 governors and territories, by the way. People don't ever
mentioned that. We have territories. We have 50 governors and territories. And many of those governors are Democrats.
And they can't find anything to complain about. And, honestly, many of them didn't do their jobs. I will let you know someday. Let's see what happens. But I may let you know who's not doing their job. I can tell you the ones that are good, both Republican and Democrat, and the ones who are -- don't know what they're doing.
But we help some of the ones that don't know what they're doing. They should have had their own stockpiles. And now, if they want, we can build them stockpiles of ventilators.
The hardest thing is a ventilator, because it's expensive. It takes a while to get. We got them. And nobody believed we did.
Now, many of the governors were asking for far too many. And we said they were asking for far too many. We talked. And we said -- you said very strongly that they just don't need that many. You said they don't need that many beds, Deborah.
So that's it.
Steve, go ahead.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) you and Dr. Fauci are on the same page?
TRUMP: Yes. We have been from the beginning.
I don't know what it is exactly. But if I put somebody's opinion up, you know, I don't mind controversy. I think controversy is a good thing, not a bad thing. But I want it to be honest controversy.
Now, when I got a call -- I got a call, not very quickly. And nobody saw that as being any big deal. They said, how are you doing with Dr. Fauci? I said, I'm doing great.
And I didn't talk to Dr. Fauci even until we just got here. Dr. Fauci asked one of the people if he could get up and speak. And he did.
QUESTION: So, he said that the question--
TRUMP: And they totally misinterpreted him.
I saw what they did.
QUESTION: Can I ask you?
He said the question was hypothetical, but what he was just acknowledging is that lives would have been saved if the mitigation practices were put into place earlier. That seems obvious. Do you not agree with that?
TRUMP: Here's the thing.
No, no, what he really is saying, though, but how could you have done it?
Look, I just went over stats with you right here, right here. How do you close it up? You have no deaths and no cases on January 11. Doctor, would you recommend closing the United States of America? Oh, this must be terrible. How many cases do we have? None. How many deaths do we have? None.
January 17. Go back another week. On January 17 -- this is 10 days before I did the -- little bit less than 10 days before I did the ban. I did a ban on China. You think that was easy? I then did a ban on Europe.
And a lot of people said that was an incredible thing to do, because you look at Spain. And, by the way, we're doing very well, because , when you look at all of those flat graphs, and you add it all up, the United States is very low. And, per capita, we're very low. We're doing very well.
But how do you close up the United States of America? So, on January 6, no deaths. On January 11, no deaths, and no -- no cases on January 17, no cases -- no cases, no deaths.
I'm supposed to close up the United States of America, when I have no cases?
QUESTION: You didn't close it down until the middle of March. Should you have closed it down earlier? That's the question, not from January.
TRUMP: I closed down from China. Excuse me.
I closed it down from China. And, by the way, some people think I should have waited longer and maybe ridden it out. I disagree with them. OK? But it was thought of. I mean, that was an alternative.
There are a lot of people that would have said, let's ride it out.
Now, I will give you the -- the good news. If I would have done that, it would have been, I think, catastrophic, because their numbers are, Anthony, 1.6 to 2.2 million people would have died, if we tried to do that.
And I did this last time. Cut it in half. Don't say 2.2 million. Cut it in more than half. Say a million people died. Well, that's much more than the Civil War. Cut it in half. Take the million and cut it in half. That's 500,000 people would have died.
Now, that number, we would have reached, OK? That would have been easy to reach if we did nothing. So we did the right thing. And our timing was very good. But here's the one thing. And you have to say this. When you ask me,
why didn't you do this, how come, when I did the ban on China, and some very, very -- instituted some very tough things, how come Nancy Pelosi a month later is in Chinatown, saying, let's all march, this is not going to happen?
How come we have many of the experts from CNN and many other networks, if you call CNN a network -- I don't, personally -- but we have CNN, we have many other places, and they're all saying, he doesn't need to do it. He doesn't need to do it.
All I'm saying is this.
TRUMP: How do you close down the greatest economy in the history of the world when, on January 17, you have no cases and no death--
QUESTION: Mr. President--
TRUMP: -- when, on January 21, you have one case and no death, one case? Think of that.
Now, we're supposed to close down the country?
But here's what happened. When, on January 31, I instituted the ban, Joe Biden went crazy. He said, you don't need the ban. You're -- he didn't go crazy. Look, he -- he didn't even know what the hell the ban was.
But he -- so, he didn't go crazy. But he did say--
QUESTION: What did you do with that time?
TRUMP: He did call me xenophob -- wait a minute.
He called me xenophobic. He called me a racist, because -- he has since apologized. And he said I did the right thing.
So, when you say, why didn't you this, every Democrat thought I made a mistake when I did it. I saved tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of lives by--
QUESTION: What did you do with that time that you bought? The argument is that you bought yourself some time, and you didn't use it to prepare hospitals, you didn't use it to ramp up testing.
Right now, nearly 20 million people are unemployed. Tens of thousands of--
QUESTION: -- Americans are dead.
TRUMP: You're so -- you're so -- you're so disgraceful. It's so disgraceful, the way you said that.
Let me -- just--
QUESTION: How is this sizzle reel or this rant supposed to make people feel positive in an unprecedented crisis?
TRUMP: I just went over it.
Nobody thought we should do it. And when I did it--
QUESTION: But what did you do with the time that you bought the month of February?
TRUMP: You know what we did?
QUESTION: That video has gaps, the entire month of February.
TRUMP: You know what we did? What do you do -- what do you do when you have no case in the whole United States, when you--
QUESTION: You had cases in February.
TRUMP: Excuse me. You reported it. Zero cases, zero deaths on January 17.
QUESTION: January. February -- the entire month of February.
TRUMP: January -- I said in January.
QUESTION: Your video has a complete gap.
TRUMP: On January 30--
QUESTION: What did your administration do in February with the time that your travel ban bought you?
TRUMP: A lot.
TRUMP: A lot.
And, in fact, we will give you a list, what we did. In fact, part of it was up there. We did a lot.
QUESTION: -- had a gap.
TRUMP: Look, look -- you know, you're a fake. You know that. Your whole network, the way you cover it, is fake, and most of you -- and not all of you, but the people are wise to you.
That's why you have a lower -- a lower approval rating than you have ever had before times probably three.
TRUMP: And when you ask me that question--
QUESTION: Twenty million people are unemployed, tens of thousands of Americans dead.
TRUMP: Let me ask you this. Why didn't Biden -- why didn't -- why did Biden apologize? Why did he write a letter of apology?
QUESTION: -- cares about why Joe Biden didn't apologize to you--
TRUMP: No, that's very important.
Why did the Democrats think that I acted too quickly? You know why? Because they really thought that I acted too quickly. We have done a great job.
TRUMP: Now, I could have -- I could have kept it open.
And I could have done what some countries are doing. They're getting beat up pretty badly. I could have kept it open. I thought of keeping it open, because nobody's ever heard of closing down a country, let alone the United States of America.
But if I would have done that, we would have had hundreds of thousands of people that would right now be dead. We have done this right. And we really -- we really have done this right.
The problem is, the press doesn't cover it the way it should be.
Go ahead, one more question.
Steve, go ahead.
QUESTION: There's a debate over what authority you have to order the country reopened.
What authority do you have?
TRUMP: Well, I have the ultimate authority. But we're going to get into that in a minute. We're going to just finish this up. We're going to tell you about
other things that we have done right. But I will say this. Had we said, let's just keep going and let's not do a closing, whether it's 2.2 that they at one point predicted as an outside, or 1.6 at a lower number, you cut it all the way down to 600,000 or 700,000 or 800,000, take just a fraction of the number that could have happened, it literally would have been more than the Civil War.
It would have been a disaster. So, the minimum number was 100,000. And I think I feel pretty good that we're going to be substantially below, Anthony, the 100,000. And I hope we will.
All right, so, today, the Department of Health and Human Services announcing five new contracts to procure large numbers of additional ventilators, under the Defense Production Act, which we used a lot, by the way, which you didn't like to talk about, in addition to the 1,300 we received today.
We received today 1,300 additional ventilators. Now, we're probably not going to need them, but we can add that to our stockpile, which is very big. And we can move it around, should the surge take place and should it be a very substantial surge. We're ready to -- we're ready to rock.
The contracts are with General Electric, Hill-Rom, Medtronic, ResMed, and Vyaire, combined with the DPA contracts that we announced last week with General Motors and Philips, and two other contracts with Hamilton and ZOLL.
We're 6,190 ventilators to the Strategic National Stockpile, of which we have a lot already, thousands, close to 10,000. But this will be added by May 8, another 29,000 by the end of May. And more than 120,000 total, we will have by the end of the year.
Now, we're going to help other countries. We're going to help states if they need it. We may help some states stockpile.
They're supposed to buy their own stockpile. They have state stockpiles. They're supposed to be using that. And, unfortunately, most of the states weren't there. And a lot of people didn't want to talk about it, but they weren't there. We will talk about it at the right time, if you want to.
I -- I, at this point, I'm more focused on getting past this nightmare of the epidemic or a pandemic, anything you want to call it. We got to get past it.
No one who has needed a ventilator has not gotten a ventilator. Think of that. You know, you heard all about ventilators, ventilators, we need ventilators, because they didn't have them, because the states should have had them.
No one who has needed a ventilator has not gotten a ventilator. No one who has needed a hospital bed has been denied a hospital bed. That's not even really our responsibility. Now, if we can help, we're going to do it. But that's where the Army Corps of Engineers did such a great job. We built over 20,000 beds. In fact, we built thousands more than we've actually needed to be safe. We wanted to be safe and we really -- they rose to this incredible occasion.
I mean, we built more beds than we thought. We thought in Louisiana we were going heavy. And, again, when I called the governor, I said maybe we shouldn't build that second hospital because we don't want to build it if you don't need it. He called back, he said, I don't think we're going to need it. They had a thousand rooms, a thousand beds and they used a lot of them but they didn't need the other one so we stopped it because we don't want to waste.
But we're prepared to build thousands more should we need it. I don't think we're going to need it because it looks like we're plateauing and maybe even, in many cases, coming down.
In addition, we've a total 16 mobile decontamination systems. So the decontamination system from a deal (ph) in Ohio is an incredible thing because it takes the masks. And up to 20 times you can decontaminate a mask.
And I have been asking from the beginning, why can't we sterilize or sanitize these masks and it turned out we can. And there was a great company in Ohio, they sent us some great equipment and they are doing that now.
And now, we're going to have more than 33 million N95 masks per week will be cleaned, decontaminated and it will be great. It's something, frankly, I think people should have thought of a long time ago.
Five more flights landed today as part of the Project Airbridge, our massive airlift operation to bring personal protective equipment into the United States, which has now delivered nearly half a million N95 masks, 370 million gloves, 25 million surgical masks and 4.9 million gowns. So we have millions of gowns, gloves, masks, all surgical equipment coming in should the states need it.
Now, the states are supposed to be buying their own stuff. But should they need it, we are ready to give them, because we're building up our stockpile, likewise. And remember, I -- and you saw the stores I inherited, this administration, Mike, myself, the whole administration, we inherited a stockpile where the cupboards were bare.
There was nothing. And I say it, and I'll say it again, just like we didn't have ammunition, we didn't have medical supplies, we didn't have ventilators, we didn't have a lot of things that should have been had. And you can read your own stories because you know what happened, they didn't want to spend the money, but we did.
To date, we have facilitated the supply of more than 38 million N95 masks nationwide. This week, we'll be sending 2 million N95 masks to the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The vice president will go into more detail. He's got great detail on that. And I think it's a pretty amazing story. We have a lot of masks already in stock and we have more coming.
We are further expanding hospital surge capacity in key areas of the opening. And we have a portion of certain V.A. hospitals and non- veteran coronavirus patients, including at the East Orange New Jersey Medical Center, as well as facilities in Manhattan and Brooklyn. They are ready. They are able. They are beautiful. Hopefully, we won't need too many of them because, frankly, we built everything that the governors wanted, and in many cases, it's too much. We told them it was too much, but we wanted to err on the side of caution.
The United States has now conducted nearly 3 million tests for the virus, 3 million, the most of any nation. We are performing approximately 115,000 tests every single day and our rate of testing is especially high in areas hardest hit by the virus. If you look, and that's really -- and hit some areas the virus very, very hard.
For example, per capita testing in New York is higher than the rest of the world. The NIH, CDC and FDA are also currently validating several antibody tests that will allow us to determine whether someone has already had the virus and potentially become immune to infection. We are looking at that. The antibody tests are -- can be very interesting over the next short while. A lot of things are being developed, as we speak.
In the race to develop effective treatments, the drug company, Gilead, announced that its drug, remdesivir, has shown promising results, very promising, in compassionate use settings. In addition, the FDA has just granted emergency authorization for a device that removes certain proteins from the blood stream, possibly preventing a patient's immune system from overreacting to the virus and damaging vital organs, which is a big problem.
Furthermore, over the last seven days, my administration has deployed roughly 28 million doses of hydroxychloroquine from our national stockpile. We have millions of doses that we bought and many people are using it all over the country.
And just recently, a friend of mine told me he got better because of the use of that drug. So who knows? I mean, you combine it with Z-Pak, you combine it with zinc, depending on your doctor's recommendation and showed some very good results. I'll tell you.
So think of anybody recommend it other than me will be used all over the place, to be honest. I think the fact I recommended, and I probably said it back a lot, but a lot of good things are happening with it, a lot of good tests.
Scientists are also pursuing a blood therapy known convalescent plasma. This therapy uses antibodies from the blood of recovered patients to treat those who are sick. And this is something that actually is a very old procedure but it's done in a very modern way.
During this difficult time, we're also working to ensure that the 2020 census is completed safely and accurately. We may be asking for an extension because, obviously, they can't be doing very much now, they wouldn't be allowed to do it. So the census, we're going to be asking for a delay, a major delay. I think how can you possibly be knocking on doors for a long period of time now?
The Census Bureau recently made a decision to temporarily suspend its field operation, data collection activities to help stop spread. In addition, while millions of Americans continue to complete their questionnaire online, the Census Bureau has asked Congress for a 120 extension. I don't know that you'd even have to ask him. This is called an act of God. This is called a situation that hast to be -- they have to -- given, I think, 120 days isn't nearly enough.
My administration is also taking bold action to help American workers. On Friday, Americans began receiving the cash payments authorized by our historic $2 trillion relief bill. By the end of the week, nearly 80 million Americans will receive a total of $147 billion.
And from what the secretary of the treasury tells me, it is very much on time and going very nicely. He will be speaking in a moment. And these payments go directly into the banks and the bank accounts of these people. Millions of additional payments will follow. The typical family of four will receive $3,400. That's for a family of four. That's something.
Additionally, through our paycheck protection program, which is a tremendous success, and they should be extend it and increase it. This has been a tremendous success, so successful that the banks are taking a little bit longer to distribute the money, but it's going rapidly.
We have now processed over $200 billion in loans to help small businesses retain their workers. Now, we urgently need lawmakers to set aside the partisan agendas and to replenish this program with new funds because it's really something that has been an incredible success, and they need more money to keep it going to take care of these businesses and keep them open.
I want to thank the many governors, health professionals, scientists and business leaders for their incredible hard work and input over the past month and even long beyond a month, Mike, I would say. We have been working together with a lot of them for it seems like forever.
I have been having many discussions with my team and top experts and we are very close to completing a plan to open our country hopefully even ahead of schedule. And that's so important. We will soon finalize new and very important guidelines to give governors the information they need to start opening their states.
My administration's plan and corresponding guidelines will give the American people the confidence they need to begin returning to normal life. That's what we want. We want our country to be open. We want to return to normal life. Our country is going to be open and it's going to be successfully opened. And we'll be explaining over a very short number of days exactly what is going to be.
We have also, as you probably heard, developed a committee. We're actually calling it a number of committees with the most prominent people in the country, the most successful people in the various fields. And we'll be announcing them tomorrow.
This weekend, the United States also helped facilitate an unprecedented agreement among 23 nations of OPEC plus. That's OPEC plus additional energy-producing nations representing many of the world's largest oil-producing countries to stabilize all markets. And we have, in fact, and I think you've seen a big stabilization over the last couple of days.
Together, countries around the will cut oil production by approximately 20 million barrels. People are saying 10 million, but we think that the number that they'll actually hit is going to be closer to 20 million barrels a day, and that will help a lot with saving jobs all over Texas and Oklahoma and North Dakota many of other of our big energy states.
This historic action will help nearly 11 million American workers who are supported by the U.S. oil and gas industry. It's a very monumental agreement.
I want to thank Saudi Arabia, king of Saudi Arabia, crown prince of Saudi Arabia, both. I want to thank President Putin of Russia. And I want to thank a very good friend of mine, a man who has become a friend of mine. The president of Mexico showed great flexibility, President Lopez Obrador.
He showed great flexibility and tremendous intelligence, doing what he did. It was not that easy for him. And I want to thank Mexico and the president. This is a very historic deal, very historic. So we'll see how it all goes.
In this time and challenge, and we are certainly in a time probably like we haven't been in many, many decades, we are strengthened and sustained by the bonds of love and loyalty that unite all Americans. I am so proud of the American people.
Everywhere you look, you see the patriotism of our people shining through, and courage of our doctors and nurses on the frontlines, in the dedication of our food supply workers and in the commitment of every citizen to achieving victory over the virus. That's what's going to happen. It's going to happen sooner than people think.
And we're going to be smart about it, very, very smart about. We're going to be safe about it. We're going to be listening also to the great doctors and medical professionals.
Together, we are beating back the invisible enemy and we are paving the way for great resurgence, really, a great resurgence to American prosperity.
Our country wants to go back. They want to go back to work. They're going to go back safely, and that's what we want.
I'd like now to ask Vice President Pence to say a few words followed by Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx. I think before we do this, because I know there is an emergency where they want Steve to come. So what I will do is I'll ask Steve to come up, secretary of the treasury. You can talk a little bit and then maybe take a couple questions about what's happening, tell them the success we are having. Thank you very much.
STEVE MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: Thank you, Mr. President and Mr. Vice President.
As you announced, we are very pleased that we are ahead of schedule on delivering the economic impact payments. These were what was known as the checks in the mail that we want to deliver in direct deposit. This is ahead of schedule. We started processing those last Friday. We expect that over 80 million hard working Americans will get the direct deposit by this Wednesday. And we know how important that is to all of those hard working Americans, many of which are at home, not working at the moment.
If you do not receive them by Wednesday, on Wednesday, we will be launching at irs.gov, click on irs.gov, go to get your payment. If you filed a tax return in 2018 and '19 -- or '19, have that information available, you will be able to I.D. yourself, you will be able to put in your direct deposit information. And within several days, we will automatically deposit the money into your account. We want to do as much of this electronically as we can. It's very important in this day and age, it's more secure and you don't have to go to the bank.
If you are a social security beneficiary, you do not need to do anything. You will get a direct deposit. If you have not filed and did not need to file a 2018 or 2019 return, you can go to irs.gov now and enter your information and authenticate yourself. So, again, we are pleased that that is ahead of schedule.
I would also like to announce the progress we are making on the new SBA program, the PPP. Let me just remind everybody, this is a brand new program that is now one week old. We have distributed and confirmed $230 billion of loans to over 4,600 lenders participating. That is multiples and multiples of anything that the SBA has ever done and in one year.
And I especially want to thank the broad-based community banks that are participating, again, over 4,600 banks. If you haven't had your loan processed, you will get it processed this week. As the president said, we have gone back to Congress and asked them for more money to make sure that every business has access to this.
Let me also comment for the states. We are distributing out half of the money this week to the states. That's a week ahead of time. And we'll deliver the other half of the money to the states next week.
And then let me just finally comment, we have been working closely with the Federal Reserve.
Last week, we announced expanded facilities and new facilities that totaled $2.3 trillion of liquidity, and in particular, I just like to highlight a Main Street lending facility that will be for companies between one worker and 10,000 people, so midsize businesses and also a municipal facility for states and local governments to be able to access funds given the shortage they have.
So, with that, I'm happy to answer any questions.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Do you have any questions to Steve, please?
REPORTER: Secretary Mnuchin, thank you, sir.
Both Speaker Pelosi and Minority Leader Schumer have said that they are in negotiations with you right now on additional funding for these small business loans, that package. Leader McConnell, though, has said that nothing should be added to the package. That it should just be specific to small business loans.
What is the opinion of your administration? Should there be some sort of horse trading here? Or should it just be small business loans?
MNUCHIN: For the president's view and the vice president's in my view is, this was a bipartisan program. This SBA program, it wasn't a Republican program. It wasn't a Democrat program. It's a bipartisan program.
We've committed to small businesses. We should top up that program now. I know the Democrats want to talk about more money for hospitals and states. Right now, we're just sending that money out to the hospitals and states. They haven't come close to using that money.
And I know the president and vice president have said, once we get the SBA done, we can go to another funding bill. The president has talked about potentially adding infrastructure and other things. We think there's a likelihood we will need more money and we will -- we will sit down and try to get a bipartisan bill.
But this is important we deliver on small businesses, 50 percent of the people work for small businesses.
REPORTER: Thanks, sir.
REPORTER: What's the emergency that the president said you had to go for? The president said you had an emergency --
REPORTER: Over this bill?
MNUCHIN: Yes. Well, we're -- because we don't want to run out of money, we've used about $220 billion of the $350 billion. We don't want to run out of that money. We don't want to create panics that people won't get it. So, that's why we want to -- we want to top that up and we've asked for another $250 billion for that program.
And again, let me just remind you, every dollar we spend on this program, we save a dollar of unemployment insurance. So, even though we're asking for $250 billion, it really won't cost that much.
REPORTER: Do you have concerns about lifting the guidelines too soon? And what's the economic impact? I understand the economic argument for getting people back to work, obviously. But what's the economic risk of lifting them too early and seeing a -- there'd have been a spike in cases again?
MNUCHIN: Well, first, there's economic risk in both directions we reviewed with the president today. A very broad list of over 100 business people that are going to help advise the president on what needs to be done to reopen the economy. We want to make sure and again, the combination of economic impact payments, small business payments, enhanced unemployment insurance, the president made very clear we want to be sure that hardworking Americans have liquidity while we wait to reopen the government.
REPORTER: So, do you believe the government should be reopen or the country -- excuse me, should be reopened on May 1?
MNUCHIN: Well, I've had discussions with the president. I know he's considering it and I believe he's going to make a decision later in the week.
TRUMP: Everything has to be safe.
REPORTER: What is your advice to the president?
MNUCHIN: My advice is as soon as it's ready to open and based upon the medical professionals. And again, we're working very closely with the president and outside business leaders to develop a plan.
REPORTER: Mr. President, what you think -- could you sketch for us what you think the economy looks like? Do you think it's going to be everything opened? Or do you think --
TRUMP: We'll all be doing that over the next few days, because we'll probably be making a statement about that and exactly what it looks like. I know what that looks like, but I also want to get the advice, in a sense.
We have some of the biggest from every business on this council -- we're actually setting up a number of different councils or committees I guess you could call them. And we have a lot of smart people.
I think that they will also give us good advice. But no, we want to be very, very safe. At the same time, we've got to get our country open.
REPORTER: Mr. President, do you think there is a possibility that what you do is open it incrementally? Do you think people will go back to restaurants, concerts, the cinema?
TRUMP: I do think so. Eventually, they will, yes.
REPORTER: Let me ask one -- (CROSSTALK)
TRUMP: I think eventually they will do that and I think we are going to boom. I think we're going to -- I think it's going to go quickly.
Our people want to get back to work and I think there's a pent-up demand like there hasn't been in a long time.
TRUMP: That's why -- and that's why you see the stock market -- I mean, to think that the stock market is at the level it is right now, with all that this world and this country has gone. And look at the European Union, how badly decimated they've been.
Look at other countries. Look at China, by the way. I have seen the numbers. Look at China.
Look at how these countries have been just decimated by this. And to think that the stock market is at this tremendously high number -- not that much. You know, it was a looking a little bit bleak for a while, but it hit a certain point and then started going up.
I think that's a tribute to the fact that there's a demand.
REPORTER: Mr. President, thank you, sir.
All right. It regards to some of your quotes earlier today, I think it was Steve's question, my question to you is what provision in the Constitution gives the president the power to open or close the economy? And then --
TRUMP: Numerous provisions, we'll give you a legal brief if you want.
REPORTER: And we'll be looking forward to that, sir.
But following up, what happens if you say, for instance, we want the states to reopen but California or New York do not open? What would you then?
TRUMP: Well, I think everyone wants to open. I mean, I guess, you know, that could happen, but I don't think that would happen.
REPORTER: States that have closed -- ordered schools closed has been states that have ordered businesses like restaurants and bars --
TRUMP: That's because I let that happen, because I would prefer (ph) that, I let that happen. But if I wanted to, I could have closed it up. But I let that happen, and I like the way they've done it.
And the seven that remain really in sort of a semi-lockdown, if you look at those states, they've really done a very good job. They're very much different from a New York or from other places where they've been hit very hard.
REPORTER: -- I order to open your schools, I order you to force again (INAUDIBLE)?
TRUMP: Go ahead, please?
REPORTER: Yes, Mr. President, following up on that, there are two consortiums of states, California, Oregon, Washington, on the West Coast, Northeastern States, totally representing about 100 million people who said they're going to cooperate and decide when to reopen --
TRUMP: Well, they can decide, but --
REPORTER: Does that undermine what you're trying to do?
TRUMP: Well, not at all. Let me just say, very simply, I will put it very simply -- the president of the United States has the authority to do what the president has the authority to do which is very powerful. The president of the United States calls the shots.
If we weren't here for the states, you would have had a problem in this country like you've seen before. We were here to back them up and we backed them -- more than backed them up. We did a job that nobody ever thought was possible.
It's a decision for the president of the United States. Now with that being said, we're going to work with the states because it's very important. You have local governments, they're pinpointed, it's really -- you talk about, it's like a microchip. They're pinpointed.
We have local government that hopefully will do a good job. And if they don't do a good job, I'd step in so fast. But no, they can't do anything without the approval of the president of the United States.
Go ahead, please.
REPORTER: So, if some states refuse to reopen, you order them to, the Tenth Amendment of Constitution says all powers that don't reside in the president and Congress reside in the states. How do you --
TRUMP: Well, if some states don't refuse to open, I would be -- I would like to see that person run for election. They're going to open. They're all going to all open.
REPORTER: That's the ballot box --
TRUMP: I think that's something that's not going to happen. They want to open. They have to open. They have to get open.
Every one of those states, people want to go and they want to -- now, some will be are in a different situation. You have -- I won't name states now, but I will over the next two or three days, I'm going to be very specific, but you have some states where this is not kind of a problem that it is in New York or Louisiana or Michigan or other places that got hit very hard. Illinois got hit very hard.
But all states want to open and they want to open as soon as possible but they want to open safely and so do I.
REPORTER: Thank you, Mr. President.
Today, the French President Emmanuel Macron said he will keep the shutdown in France until the middle of May. Does that mean the U.S. will keep the ban from --
TRUMP: No, France got hit very hard. France got hit very hard. And again, he has to do what he has to do. He's a friend of mine.
But France -- Spain, has just been decimated. You look at what's happened in Italy. It's a very well-known fact what happened in Italy. No, they were hit very hard.
REPORTER: Question for Secretary Mnuchin. Has everybody that you would like to have the 100 business people on the -- all been invited already? Have they agreed?
MNUCHIN: We haven't been invited yet. We just reviewed the names with the president today.
REPORTER: And are they from all second sectors?
MNUCHIN: Yes, so basically there's vertical. So, every single area of economy, we want to be represented.
REPORTER: Great. One other thing -- is there anything need to work on industry -- oil industry jobs, to save oil industry jobs after the deal this past weekend?-
MNUCHIN: Well, I think there's always things. So, we're working with Larry Kudlow. I mean, we have --
REPORTER: Specifically with (INAUDIBLE) --
MNUCHIN: We have economic plans for every single part of the economy. Obviously, in the case of the oil industry, they've been hit especially hard, because you've had both the supply issue and you've had the demand issue.
REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) bail out money for the airlines with the allocations for the airlines?
MNUCHIN: So, I'm pleased to say we've worked very hard. I think as you probably have seen, we put out a press release that we have now had discussions with almost all the airlines. I personally had discussions with all the major airline CEOs.
We specifically created an exception for small airlines that we could process very quickly.
And I think you will see very quickly, decisions coming out. I'm very pleased with the discussions we've had.
TRUMP: We had very good --
REPORTER: Mr. Secretary, do you see a need for phase four stimulus --
TRUMP: Steve, I just want to say we have had discussion -- excuse me one second. We've had very good discussions with the airlines. Very good discussions.
REPORTER: Is it possible to reopen the economy on May the 1st?
TRUMP: I don't want to say that. You'll be hearing over the next few days.
MUNCHIN: Let me just comment, I'm going to answer your question.
REPORTER: -- this push in lieu of another stimulus.
MNUCHIN: So, again, let me just comment.
I mean, Congress on a bipartisan basis approved an unprecedented amount of money to help American workers and American business because it was no fault of their own that business was closed down. We have been very diligently executing on that. You know, everybody said it was going to take months to get people money. We are executing very quickly. We created a new whole new SBA program in a week.
Our job right now is to execute the $2.3 billion which we can add several trillion dollars with the Fed.
The one area we are particularly concerned about is the small business program. Quite frankly, it's even more incredibly popular and successful than we anticipated. So, the president wants to be very clear we have money for that.
And once we get done with that, we'll review with the president. If there's more money that needs to be to support this economy, to support hard-working Americans, we will work with Congress to get that.
TRUMP: And, Steve, you want to talk about phase four?
MNUCHIN: So, phase four -- the president has talked about infrastructure for a long period of time. We talked about to the extent that the hospitals need more money because of the medical issues, we'll monitor that. We want to make sure there are incentives for restaurants, entertainment, people to get back to those types of things.
So, we'll be looking very specifically provisions to stimulate parts of the economy. Some of them may be money issues. Some of them may be regulatory issues.
REPORTER: Mr. President, just to clarify your understanding of your authority vis-a-vis governors, just to be very specific. For instance, if a governor issued a stay-at-home order --
TRUMP: You say my authority. The president's authority, not mine, because it's not me.
This is -- when somebody is the president of the United States, the authority is total. And that's the way it's got to be.
REPORTER: The authority is total.
TRUMP: It's total. The governors know that. The governors know that.
Now you have a couple of bands, excuse me, excuse me, you have a --
REPORTER: Could you rescind that order?
TRUMP: You have a couple of bands of Democrat governors but they will agree to it. They will agree to it.
TRUMP: The authority of the president of the United States having to do with the subject we're talking about is total.
Yes, please, go ahead.
REPORTER: President's authority is total? TRUMP: Go ahead, please?
REPORTER: One of the things you spoke -- we saw in the video, travel ban from Europe. It's part of reopening America. Do you want to reopen the borders so that people from Europe, from the U.K. --
TRUMP: At the right time. Very good question, actually.
Well, I'm going to have to take a look. I wouldn't say Italy is doing great right now. I wouldn't say Spain is doing great right now. And we just heard France is extending stay inside order, right? They've extended it, I have just seen that, and I think for a short period of time.
But no, when they're back, we want to do it very quickly, but we want to make sure everything is good. No, right now, we have a very -- right now, we have a very strong ban. We're going to keep it that way until they heal.
REPORTER: Weeks? Months?
TRUMP: I can't tell you that. I have to see. How are they doing?
I mean, France just went for another two days -- for another two weeks. We have to see.
REPORTER: So, Dr. Fauci said that you took his advice on question of mitigation. He made the recommendation, you accepted it, you put into place. As you make this next decision which --
TRUMP: Well, I'm not sure who -- Jon, I'm not sure who really gave me advice on the ban. I think I took -- I think I took my own advice on the ban. I don't know.
REPORTER: The social distancing I'm talking about, the shutting down.
REPORTER: Not of travel but for the activity (ph).
So my question is, do you make this next decision which you have said may be the most difficult or important decision of your presidency, will you assure the American people you will again take the advice of the doctors, of Dr. Fauci of Dr. Birx? Will you take the advice of the health experts before you do that?
TRUMP: I will, and many other people also. But I will absolutely take their advice.
REPORTER: Would you go against them? Would you go against their recommendation, if they say you need another 15 or 30 days?
TRUMP: I don't think it would be likely because I think we're not very far from being on the same page.
REPORTER: Yes. Mr. President, one thing that Governor Cuomo said today, is that states do not have a capacity to do mass COVID-19 testing ahead of reopening.
TRUMP: Well, they have to do it. Look, they're supposed to be doing it.
REPORTER: -- purchase the diagnostic test or equipment, he needs federal help.
REPORTER: Will they get it?
TRUMP: They may need help, but they're there. They're on ground. They've got local mayors, local representatives, they have people that do it.
And what we did last time is unprecedented. We literally rebuilt test, we rebuilt the whole industry because we inherited nothing.