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Key Model Shows Some States Need to Wait Until at Least Late June, Early July to Start Reopening; U.S. Coronavirus Cases Near 700,000; Deaths Top 36,000; Gov. Mike DeWine (R-OH) Discusses About The Excess Capacity Available for Phase One Reopening of States; Trump Appears to Support Stay-at-Home Protests, Tweets It's Time to "Liberate" Michigan, Minnesota & Virginia; Coverage of White House Coronavirus Task Force Briefing. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired April 17, 2020 - 19:00   ET



DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: The private sector who clearly has the capability of making and providing tests at the level that we will need them for any of the things that I've just spoken about.

So having said that, right now, I totally understand and I know I'm not alone, my colleagues understand that although we say there are X number of tests out there, and you're going to hear from Admiral Giroir about that. The fact is there have been and still are situations that are correctable and will be corrected and some of which have been corrected.

I know, I get on the phone a lot with my colleagues, because believe it or not, some long time ago, I was where they are in the hospitals, in the emergency room, looking at very sick individuals that you need to take care of. And I know what it means when someone tells you, hey, you have what you need and you look around and you say, well, maybe you think I have what I need, but I don't really have what I need.

So we have to figure out how do we close that gap and there are a lot of things that I think we've learned and that we are correcting and going to correct. Mainly, you have a situation where tests are needed and appropriate, and either people have found, there's no tests or there's no reagents. Well, there's no swabs or a person needed a test and we're told that there was a restriction, they couldn't get a test. These are all the things that I'm telling you already know because you've heard them.

So right now or there's a delay of five to seven days, and what does that mean if you want to get somebody at a circulation? We understand that that existed but upon careful examination, what you are going to hear that many of those have been already created and other of those will be corrected. Because what I think people don't appreciate through no fault of their own is that there are two issues, there's supply and demand.

And if you have a supply that can meet the demand, but the supply is not connected to the demand, then supply/demand falls apart. What do I mean by that? I mean, there is existing capacity that we have, that for one reason or another, maybe has not been fully communicated as to the availability of that existing capacity and you're going to hear about that now.

This production capacity that gets better and better and better and that's what we're talking about because for what we need now, we believe that with better communications, we'll be able to make that happen. So I know there's going to be a lot of questions about that, I don't want to go on too long.

But let me just finish by saying, given what I just said and what I believe what you're going to hear that for what we need in the first phase, if these things are done correctly, what I believe they can, we will have and there will be enough tests to allow us to take this country safely through phase one. Thank you.


DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: Thank you, Mr. Vice President. I want to make a few comments here. First, I want to talk a little bit about, CDC has developed multiple systems to monitor disease outbreaks. I think many of you are familiar, for example, how we monitor for foodborne illness or how we monitor for antibiotic resistance in hospitals.

But we've also developed a system to monitor for upper respiratory tract disease. If I can get the first slide there. This is an example because when we talk about what we know about this current pandemic, the reality is we know a lot because we've developed these monitoring systems.

Up on the slide is a system that we've developed initially for flu and what it does as you can see there's a multiple different flu seasons and they track them over the course of a year. I want you to look at the red line, and that happens to be this year's respiratory season.

And you see there's a peak there, up over the 50, 52 week and that peak was when we actually had a peak of Influenza B. This year was a little different because after that, viral syndrome came down and you can see it that actually we had another peak and that's when Influenza A was active through our country. And you can see Influence A started to drop, but then you saw a third peak.


That peak was you were looking at the Coronavirus 19. So we have systems all the way down to the county level that we can see where there's respiratory tract illness and so it's not just taking a test, it's monitoring these systems that have been developed over the last decades. And we have multiple ones, we have another one that is monitored in emergency rooms, looking at syndrome, diagnosis and they show the same thing.

So we're well equipped to monitor to see when respiratory tract viral disease will come and becomes a very good surrogate for when you can begin to understand that we need to start looking more ideologically about what's going on. You can see now in week 15, we're really coming down to the baseline background in terms of our flu surveillance system from the overall coronavirus situation right now.

The second thing I wanted to say is that CDC continues to enhance the state's public health capacity to accelerate their ability as Tony talked about and it's critical as we open America again to diagnose individuals that present with influenza-like illness or coronavirus- like illness to diagnose them, to be able to isolate them and to be able to contact trace around them and then diagnose the contacts and those that are coronavirus positive to go back and do their contacts.

This is to the traditional public health approach which was started in this outbreak in January, in February and was quite successful when as I mentioned before, through February 27th, this country only had 14 cases. We did that isolation and that contact tracing and it was very successful. But then when the virus more exploded, got beyond the public health capacity.

But right now CDC is enhancing that public health capacity. And if I can get to second slide, I want to show you that this is just showing, as we sit here today, that CDC has embedded in these health departments and all of these states across this country, more than 500 individuals. We also have an additional almost hundred individuals that are working on more than 20 coronavirus outbreaks that are going through all of these states.

And finally at the direction of the President, we've been asked to further enhance this deployment in each of the states as the vice president said, so that there's additional public health personnel to help accelerate the state's ability to basically move forward aggressively and we assist them so they can operationalize the President's guidelines to open up America again.

So I just wanted to make those points for you today.

PENCE: Great job. Thank you. Dr. Birx.

DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: Thank you, Mr. Vice President. And thank you, Dr. Fauci and Dr. Redfield, for all of that clarity. If we can have the next slide. I'm going to go back to what Dr. Fauci was talking about just to emphasize those points about the two types of tests and I'm going to talk about a third one.

So first, we all know about sampling in the front of your nose. To all of the labs out there and to the providers, you don't have to use the nasal pharyngeal swab anymore. You can do front of nose sampling. And again, as Dr. Fauci talked about is that is sampling for the virus itself that replicates in your nose and as we know throughout some of the respiratory tissues.

The second test is, of course, then your immune response to that infection that's in your nose and so that's the antibody test. And so those are the two tests we want to talk about. But I want to come back to something that both Dr. Fauci and Dr. Redfield said, and we covered yesterday. Testing is a part of the exquisite monitoring that needs to occur in

partnership with CDC and state and local governments utilizing the surveillance systems that are available, what we just talked about the flu surveillance system, because we no longer have flu, and the syndromic respiratory system that is across the United States. And you can see it's going back to baseline so that we'll be able to see at the community level, any deviation from that baseline.

In addition, what we talked about yesterday was adding that asymptomatic component, because I think you'll see as more and more articles come out for surveillance and monitoring that other states have done, higher and higher antibody in multiple individuals who don't remember having a sickness.


And that will give us an idea, that's our asymptomatic monitoring in these sentinel monitoring sites. And what we talked about yesterday, we talked about nursing homes, we talked about indigenous people and we talked about vulnerable people in the inner city, really ensuring that something that is so small that can't even be seen on the surveillance monitoring will be able to be seen in the asymptomatic.

And so those are the two tests that we have. One available now, two that have been approved or three by the FDA. I want to just leave you with my last concept on the antibody tests. Antibody tests have different specificity and sensitivities.

The FDA, we've made that FDA has been very cautious about the antibody tests because I know you see reports every day of countries that have ordered the antibody tests and found that they were 50 percent, 60 percent, 70 percent faulty. So we're taking that very seriously because you never want to tell someone that they have an antibody and potential immunity when they don't.

And so those tests perform better when there's a high prevalence or high incidence of disease. So we want to work with mayors around the United States as those antibody tests become available to really see what it is in first responders and healthcare workers in the highest prevalence states so that we can know about the quality and the real life, real field experience of those assays.

Because things can look very good in the lab and then when you take them into the field, sometimes they're not as good. I've learned this lesson repeatedly in working around the globe. The next slide.

So this is what we have asked commercial and diagnostic companies to be working on. Because when you talk about multi millions worth of tests, the way we do this in the United States today for strep, for influenza and for malaria is we test for the antigen. Now, we don't know right now is you shed antigen in the front of your nose and so that is the question that scientists and companies are working on right now.

Because that becomes a simpler test. Now, the flu test, I think many of you will look it up tonight, you will see that outside of the flu season because of the specificity of the test, it doesn't work so well. So these are tests we're working on today, that would be like a screening test.

Because of your positive on it, it's a good test. But it may miss that you actually have the flu. So then you would move into what we call the nucleic acid test. So we're trying to build an algorithm of tests that bring the full talent of the science of the United States into the reality of the clinic and so bench the clinic. And so this is what we're working on for the future. Next slide.

So as I promised both the senators and the governors, this is the United States' current platform capacity designated as high and low throughput. And what do I mean by that? We've talked about the high throughput platforms of Roche and Abbott and others and then we've talked about the gene expert and other machines that may be moderate to lower throughput.

I want you to see how its distributed through the United States. So these are the current testing platforms available today, throughout the United States for COVID-19. And as you heard from Dr. Fauci, everything has to be working from the swab to the transport media, to the laboratory to really get those two tests run and the results back to the client. The next slide.

So then we've looked at all of the testing capacity from those platforms and this gives you an idea of what that capacity is. The darkest red, you can see like in Texas and New York, those are states that have lots of different platforms as you saw on the prior slide. And the ability if you just add up the platforms and the potential for test of over a million tests per month.

And so this is what we're working with each of those states on locking that full potential and how are we doing that? Well, we're calling on the American Society of microbiologists. They work closely with 300 lab directors around the country. We talked with them this morning and the Walter Reed team who developed the entire HIV testing program for the military 35 years ago.

I've called them back into service and they're calling lab by lab to find out what are the technical difficulties to bring up all the platforms that exist in your lab.


Is it swabs? Is it transport media? Is it extraction?

And I just really want to thank them, they've already worked through over 70 plus of those laboratories to really understand and the American Society of Microbiologist and the academic societies of the laboratories are working together to ensure that all of this potential can be unlocked. Next slide, please.

We talked a little bit yesterday about New Orleans and we and the President talked about how many tests New Orleans has done. During its outbreak, which you can see now is waning. They've done throughout the last month 27 tests per a thousand New Orleans and Louisianans, so 27 per thousand.

So that is a good mark and that's what Italy has done about 20 per thousand. So in evaluating an outbreak and really to get control of this outbreak, they did about 27 tests per thousand. So using that as a measure, next slide, we then looked at across all of the states of the United States of America and looked for states that had 30 or more ability to do 30 or more tests per thousand of their inhabitants in each state.

And you can see that across the country, except for Oregon and Maine ...


BIRX: Montana. I worked overseas way too long. Thank you, all. So those are the three states are we're working on building capacity. And so this is just to give you a perspective of how seriously we're taking the testing issue as we've described, we've measured every single platform in every single state. We know exactly where they are by geography, by address, by zip code, what their capacity is, what their cumulative capacity is, what their roadblocks are on not ability to run all their full capacity.

And we're addressing those because each one of those is different and you have to address each of them one by one, with the governors, with the state and local labs and with all of the hospitals. I have not come across one laboratory or one laboratory director, or one society that doesn't want to contribute to solving this issue of testing and ensuring that this testing is available for everyone.

There is a strong, just as all the Americans have social distance in behind everyone. We don't often talk about the laboratories. We'll talk about the nurses and doctors on the front line, behind all of them are the laboratory technicians and laboratory directors are coming in every day and putting things together to ensure that every single person that needs to be diagnosed is diagnosed.

And hopefully you can see it from these labs, I mean, these slides that really there is capacity out there. It is our job working with the states and having the state in the leadership role and the laboratory directors in the leadership role to provide support to ensure that all of the potential for testing in the United States is brought to bear.

I just want to end with, these are nucleic acid tests. There will never be the ability on a nucleic acid test to do 300 million tests a day or to test everybody before they go to work or to school. But there might be with the antigen test.

And so that's why there's a role for nucleic acid test, there's a role for antibody tests and there's a role for the future development of these other key tests to bring the full ability to the United States. And so when we finish this, we'll be talking to all Americans, because there's other tests that other Americans should have.

And I think this has really brought to light the importance of diagnosis and we'll talk to you further about hepatitis C and TB and other things that we can do to assure every American is healthy, because I think this has really raised the awareness among all Americans about how you do test for different kinds and different parts of your disease state and what is long lasting immunity and what may be long lasting immunity and what is a nucleic acid test and what an antigen test is.

And with that, Admiral Giroir.

PENCE: Great. And let me amplify one point ...

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: All right. And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

You've been watching members of the coronavirus task force giving the latest update on the pandemic. The administration, well, trying to explain away the issues with testing in the United States tonight, laying out plans to beef up testing which governors has said is needed before they can open up.

And it comes out as the President has lashed out at several governors, tweeting liberate Virginia, Michigan and Minnesota. Those attacks come as the number of deaths in the United States today now tops 36,000 people.


OUTFRONT now, the Republican Governor of Ohio, Mike DeWine.

And Governor, I know you were just listening to that. They were spending a lot of time talking about testing. I just want to get to this bottom line issue with you, the President of the United States a few moments ago said, "We have tremendous unused capability in the labs. The governors are responsible for testing. I hope they'll be able to use this tremendous amount of capacity."

Vice President Pence says you have everything you need for phase one reopening, is that true? Is there a tremendous amount of excess capacity that you see that you can use?

GOV. MIKE DEWINE (R-OH): Well, we appreciate any help and it sounds like good news from White House. We do have excess capacity, but that's a little long one. I'll explain what I mean by that.

We have six, seven major hospitals that can do significant testing. But one of the things that's really holding them back is they do not have enough reagent and so it's all almost like it comes in every week is rationed. So it's a supply chain production problem and that's really what's holding it back. If they had more reagent, they would be able to expand that. That's part of it.

The other problem has been out in the smaller hospitals and smaller areas, not enough swabs, not enough of the fluid to cure, not a lot of the tests, not enough of the tubes to carry it in. And actually Ohio State and our state health department have come together and they're really doing a bang up job of creating more of the swabs and more of the liquid. And so that that is moving forward. So we're doing better than we

were. But we certainly have ways to go.

BURNETT: Right. Well, I mean, I think it's important you explain that because, sure, you can get a test but if you don't have the reagent to interpret what the test is, I mean, to state the obvious, that test doesn't mean anything to somebody. So if we have tremendous capacity, we just don't right yet for whatever reason it is we're not there yet, which leads me to my question for you about you want to reopen or start reopening to be clear by May 1st.

So are you going to have the testing capacity that you need by that time even when it comes to testing people who may be pre symptomatic or asymptomatic?

DEWINE: Well, we think we're going to have more testing than we have today. We've been going up, so we're making progress. But let me tell you what we're talking about doing May 1. We've classified essential businesses and others. And there's some other businesses out there that are very similar to what we've classified as essential and allow them to start and very, very similar except for the product they produce is just different.

So that's the place that we're going to start. We're also going to start with our hospitals, moving back and letting them start pick up with some procedures.

BURNETT: So elective surgeries.

DEWINE: So those are the things we're going to start - elective surgery, but even before elective surgery. There's other things that don't use up too much of the personal protection equipment and so we're going to ease in on that, because personal protection equipment is still an issue certainly with our nursing homes and we're very concerned about that.

So we're going to slowly go into this, we're going to monitor it, we're going to watch it, but there are some businesses that - one of the things we've learned in the last three or four weeks that there are businesses, if they conduct it, with all the safeguards they're fairly safe and we can start moving back, but we're going to be very careful about it.

BURNETT: So when - is the word reopen then - I mean, I understand you want it in terms of the message that it sends, but is it a misnomer in terms of its implication? Because it sounds like what you're saying is a bit on the margins. I mean, what is it of your state that reopens, 5 percent, 10 percent from where you are now? I mean, it isn't the whole, OK, hey, guess what, you guys are open for business back tonight, it's not bad.

DEWINE: No. No, we've made that very clear. We made very clear yesterday, made it clear again today, we do a press conference every day at two o'clock and we said we're going to roll this out slowly. We're going to be careful. We're going to look to the business community to help us design the best protocol for each type of company and we think we can do that. We're going to be very careful about how we do it.

But one of the consequences of having a huge recession or a huge downturn in the economy, whatever you want to call it is that there are medical and health related problems for people. And so we've got to take that into consideration as well. We got to balance these things. Ohioans are chomping at the bit to come back to work.

We want to get some back to work, but we also understand that this, as I call it, this monster is still out there. It's going to be out there until we come up with the vaccination. And we're going to have to live with it and we're going to have to be very, very careful, particularly people who have health problems.



DEWINE: People who are older. So the messaging for me is we got to still be careful. We got to ease out on this, but everyone's got to make their own calculation in the sense of if you have these medical problems, you got to be really careful.

BURNETT: So, Governor, the Director of the CDC just spoke a couple moments ago at the briefing and he said we have 500 people embedded across the country. That's a good thing, but the numbers we keep hearing about the number of people who would be required to do the contract tracing, which is necessary to make sure that there aren't outbreaks is in the hundreds of thousands possibly.

Are you confident at this point that you have the people that you need with the expertise that they need to make sure that if there's an outbreak, you catch it and you're able to do that contact tracing, isolate those people or are you not yet confident about that?

DEWINE: We're building up our capacity. We know we need to be doing that and I'll tell you what keeps me awake at night, what I worry about is the congregate living, our nursing homes particularly. That's where you get the flare ups. That's where we've seen a flair ups. We've seen flare ups in our prison as well, I mean, when you're putting people together.

Ohioans have done a great job in distancing. Great job at staying home. But when you get into these settings where people can't really do that, that's where we see the hotspots. That's where we see the real tragedy and that's what we're concerned about.

BURNETT: So, Governor, you have had people in your state protester stay at home orders, obviously, there are some who are frustrated. Today, President Trump appeared to urge people to protest in three other states over the same issue, wanting to reopen the states that he chose to pick up, did have Democratic governors. He tweeted Liberate Minnesota, Liberate Michigan, Liberate Virginia, all caps, each a separate tweet and save your great Second Amendment, it is under siege.

Obviously, he didn't do that do that to you. I'm sure your political party helped in that particular regard. But I want to ask you this, not innocent political context, but in this context, one of our reporters was on the ground for a protest in Michigan that was happening. He saw dozens and dozens of people that were not social distancing that were there to protest they were not distancing.

Do you think it's appropriate for the President to be encouraging people to protest against the states and possibly put themselves and others in danger right now?

DEWINE: Well, I'm not sure the President said all those things. I mean, I'm not sure he's telling people not to social distance. Look, let me tell you what I said about this (inaudible) ...

BURNETT: Well, he's telling them to protest, right?

DEWINE: Well, let me tell you what I've said - you have a right to protest. This is what I've said about protesters in Ohio who are protesting what I'm doing. I've said you have every right to do that. We believe in the First Amendment. We've excluded first amendment issues from our orders. Some churches have been open, not very many and so we believe in the First Amendment and so people want to protest in Ohio. I've said that that is fine. You have every right to do that.

I'm going to worry about the safety of the people in the State of Ohio and I'm going to stay focused on what I took an oath to do and that is protected people who stay a while.

BURNETT: All right. Gov. DeWine, I appreciate your time and I'm glad to have you back, sir. Thank you.

DEWINE: Thank you.

BURNETT: And Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins me now as we are awaiting questions and answers here to the President in the briefing. Sanjay so far what stood out is they were really spending an extensive amount of time trying to talk about testing both for the President to say there's this huge amount of unused capacity, which you just heard the Governor of Ohio say, well, yes, but no because we might have the capacity to do the test, but we don't have the capacity to interpret them yet, so they're still a long way to go.

But that was clearly a big aim of this from both the President as well as Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx. So what was the goal here and what is the truth?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think that the bottom line is that the idea that people anywhere in the country who need to be tested can get tested is still not case. Now, when people talk about testing, as you've mentioned, you have the test kits themselves, you have the labs, you have all these various things that are needed to actually go from someone needing to get a test and getting tested to actually getting a result.

I think the capacity as Ambassador Birx talked about has improved in many places around the country. Meaning that there are labs that may be available to interpret results. What seems to be the problem, the gap, as Dr. Fauci called it, is that everything from the swabs, to the reagents, to the transport medium, all of these things that are necessary to actually get a test, some of those aren't available. Some of those are not in the supply chain.

The supply chain is really mostly controlled by the federal government. Some of this stuff was coming from other countries, so that's the issue. States have said, OK, yes, we've set up our labs, maybe at the universities at public hospitals, whatever, but we don't have the stuff.

Erin, if I can for a second, I talked to Dr. Tom Frieden.


He used to run the CDC and I asked him specifically, look, is this a state issue or a federal issue, whose obligation is it?

Take a listen.


DR. TOM FRIEDEN, FORMER CDC DIRECTOR: It is absolutely the federal government's responsibility. Currently, we're doing in this country less than 150,000 tests a day. Earlier today, we released a report and we calculated quite simply if we were just testing the highest priority people and nobody else, we'd need about three times as many tests. And since we're also testing some lower priority people we'll need more than that. If we try to test really extensively, it would be 10 or 20 times that.


GUPTA: Erin, so 150,000 tests a day. He is saying we need to be doing 10 to 20 times that. It's the federal government's obligation to be able to provide all the components that go can into actually getting the test don't. I think that's a fundamentally important point.

BURNETT: Right. And, of course, the president, you know, you're saying it's the federal government's role. I just want to make it clear, his comment tonight, the states are responsible for testing and I hope they'll be able to use this tremendous capacity.

I mean, he is clearly trying to put the burden of the blame of any issues on the states. You're saying that that -- the ultimate blame does go to the federal government?

GUPTA: Everything is in the nuance here a little bit, right? I mean, you can say on one hand, yes, there's plenty of capacity. That's great. And maybe true. Maybe not true everywhere, but certainly improved.

But the bottom line is that if somebody wants to get test and get a result back and can they do it right now, the answer is, in a lot of places, the answer is still no. It might be that they don't have enough swabs because the supply chain is disrupted on swabs. They may not have enough reagents, because that reagent is made in

China. They many not enough of the transport medium, all these various components to the test.

I think the thing that struck me and part out this came out of the interview with Governor Kelly as well yesterday, was that I'm doing everything I can within the state to do this. I have my university hospital set-up. I have my public hospital set-up, but I don't have the swabs, I don't have a way of affecting that supply chain.

That is what is happening at the national level. How do I get in on that as a state right now that wants to be able to test adequately?

BURNETT: So, then the other government they seem to be making at the briefing and this is really important to get your sense of how to interpret this is, Dr. Fauci saying, look, you can't test people because I could test Sanjay today and he's negative, but I can't test him every day and he could become positive any day. So they were basically making the argument that testing is not the be all and end all.

However, we do know that in every other country what as this successfully been able to return to some sort of work, although nobody has returned to normal, they are doing a lot more testing randomly, A. B, people who have come into contact with people who have it who may be pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic and then able to take that and go out there and extend the testing.

And they didn't seem to address that issue at all in the briefing thus far.

GUPTA: I was a little surprised by that, Erin. I think that, you know, when you hear Dr. Tom Frieden -- again, he used to run the CDC -- saying we're doing 150,000 tests a day. We may need to do 10 to 20 times that. You get a sense of what is necessary in the country.

By the way, that doesn't mean it will it would be 1 million or 2 million people. There may be who get this testing more than once to your point, Erin. If you go into the position where you cannot physically distance yourselves from others, you're at risk of contracting the virus or spreading the virus yourself. You may need to get tested on a regular basis in order to do that job. That's the reality.

It was interesting at the end of the comments that Ambassador Birx made, she made this point. Again, it's a bit of nuance point, but there's a nucleic acid test which is testing for the genetic material, the more complicated molecular test, and there's the other test called the antigen test which is testing for the presence of the virus itself. That can be an easier test.

And she said at the end, she said, look, we're not doing to be able to do the nucleic acid test for everybody in the country but we may get to the point that the antigen testing is more common place thing, community centers, places of business, Erin, for you, if you're coming back to work and it's a crowded space, you may need to be tested on a regular basis in a way that's efficient, that's comfortable. That can give you a quick result back.

So you can determine am I going to work today or not? Think of it like a diabetic who is checking their blood sugar four times a day. This is not a blood borne thing, but may be diabetes would be a way of sort of putting it in people's heads like how get testing differently in this country.

BURNETT: That's an interesting analogy. Yes, absolutely. Then you raised the question, the costs need to come way, way down. Which you would presume the more you do, it would. But obviously, that's a huge issue at this point.

Sanjay, please stay with me.

As I said, everyone, we are awaiting a question and answer session at the briefing which may begin at any moment.


I want to bring in Jim Acosta and Dana Bash, though, in the meantime.

And, Dana, certainly what we with heard as Sanjay is talking about here was, a lot of explaining. Some nuanced -- I'm sorry. The questions and answers have just started.

BIRX: -- monitoring how much we have to use in phase one to really help inform phase two, because the really unknown in this, to be completely transparent, is asymptomatic and symptomatic spread.

And so, if we find that there's a lot of asymptomatic individuals that we find in this active monitoring in what we -- very much concerned about the most vulnerable, then we will have to have increased testing to cover all of those sites.

PENCE: And as we made clear to the governors and other health officials we'll continue to scale the testing. As the president's made clear, we want governors and states to manage the testing operations in their states. We've given -- we've given criteria, we have given guidance for how we think that would best operate, but we're looking for the states and we're looking for the governors to manage it.

But in the midst of this, all these great experts working with all these great facilities are going to continue to use that great American ingenuity to scale and increase the availability of testing for states to be able to implement as they move closer and closer to that day the president speaks of often where we reopen America and put all America back to work.

Mr. President?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They all did well, I think. I bet they did.

Please. Go ahead.

REPORTER: Mr. President, thank you. Earlier today, Jay Inslee said that your tweets encouraging --

TRUMP: Who said this?

REPORTER: Jay Inslee said your tweets encouraging liberation in Michigan, Minnesota and Virginia were fomenting rebellion. I'm wondering how that squares with the sobering, methodical guidance that you issued yesterday?

TRUMP: Well, I do think we have a sobering guidance but I think some things are too tough. If you look at the states you mentioned, it's too tough, not only relative to this but what they have done in Virginia with respect to the Second Amendment is just a horrible thing. They did a horrible thing, the governor. He's a governor under a cloud to start off with.

So when you see what he said about the Second Amendment, when you see what other states have done, you know, I think -- I feel very comfortable.

Go ahead.

REPORTER: Thank you. Just to be clear when you talk about the states, Michigan, Minnesota and Virginia, do you think they should lift their stay at home orders or can you talk sort of --

TRUMP: I think elements of what they have done is too much. I mean, it was just too much. You know the elements because I've already said, but certainly Second Amendment and Second Amendment having to do with the state of Virginia, what they've done in Virginia is just incredible.

OK. Please?

REPORTER: Sir, are you concerned though that people coming out in protest are going to spread COVID to other people? They're congregating in ways that health experts have said they should not.

TRUMP: No, these are people expressing their views. I see where they are and I see the way they're working. They seem to be very responsible people to me.

But it it's -- you know, they have been with treated a little bit rough.


REPORTER: Thanks, Mr. President.

I'm curious about some more of the dynamics we might see as the country begins reopening. Kind of like a puzzle.

So as you mentioned, we have states where we're already seeing the curves begin to flatten and then there are others like more rural parts of the country where they aren't projected to peak for weeks or months. So, can you talk a little bit about some of the difficulties that

those later peaking states might face, if they need to stay locked down for longer even as other places around them are starting to open back up?

TRUMP: Well, we're seeing great numbers in almost every state. We're seeing big drops. We are really seeing, in terms of beds, the numbers we have to look at are the beds, the beds being occupied. People going -- which is essentially people going in.

That means that you have fewer people that are sick. Fewer people that feel they have to go to the hospital, and those numbers are dropping really precipitously. So, I think that -- we're seeing a lot of good signs.

Now, a place like New York, New Jersey, and certain parts of Louisiana, Louisiana has been incredible lately when you look at that drop. That drop has really been great.

Michigan's had a hard time but it's starting to do well. So I just think -- Illinois is another one. Look at some of the numbers.

But everyone is dropping and they're dropping rather quickly. We don't have any hot spot that's developed where, all of a sudden, you say, well, other than we did have a meat packing plant or two where incredibly we had some -- you saw the number was rather incredible.

Took place in the plant. People could ask that.


I wonder who owned that country.

There's a weird situation, but generally speaking, it's been very good. The numbers have been really improving greatly.

Please, in the back.

REPORTER: Thank you, Mr. President.

U.S. intelligence is saying this week that the coronavirus likely came in a level four lab in Wuhan. There's also another report that the NIH under the Obama administration in 2015 gave that lab $3.7 million in a grant.

Why would the U.S. give a grant like that to the China?

TRUMP: The Obama administration gave them a grant of $3.7 million, I've been hearing about that, and we have instructed that if any grants are going to that area, we're looking at literally about an hour ago, and also early in the morning, we will end that grant very quickly.

But it was granted quite a while ago. They were granted a substantial amount of money, we're going to look at it and take a look. But I understand it was a number of years ago, right? REPORTER: So, you are --

TRUMP: What did you hear -- when did you hear the grant was made?


TRUMP: 2015. Who was president then I wonder? OK, it wasn't yesterday (ph).

REPORTER: And, Mr. President, we know negotiations are under way for the next round of funding for small businesses.


REPORTER: If tens of millions of dollars went in a matter of days, so will this next relief package be enough?

TRUMP: Well, I think it will certainly -- it will get us to the point that's going to be rather beautiful. We think that will be the point and it could be they want more, but maybe at a certain point, we're going to stop.

It's been a tremendous success. It's been executed flawlessly. SBA has done a very good job, but the banks have done a great job, whether it was Bank of America, Wells Fargo.

The community banks have been incredible. I think we had over 4,000 community banks. A lot of people didn't know you had that many banks, but 4,000 banks that gave the money out. It's so organized. And it's been such a great program.

And so, essentially, we're waiting for $250 billion, the Democrats are refusing to -- look, this is money that essentially is going to the workers, it's going to keep these companies whole, the restaurants and a lot of great companies. And it's a small amount of money relative to what it represents because it represents small businesses. It represents them staying in business.

And you know when you look at it, people don't know, small businesses represent approximately 50 percent of the power of our business enterprises. Not all the big monster businesses that you read about every day, it's all of the small businesses when added.

It's something that should be approved by the Democrats. The Republicans want it badly. And to be people want it very badly.

REPORTER: Can I follow up on that?

TRUMP: Sure.

REPORTER: Nearly 10 percent of the loans that were given were for $5 million. But some small business owners, they couldn't get a loan for $100,000. Is that acceptable?

TRUMP: Well, they would -- no, they would get that, but they have to approve it -- nobody knew it was going to be this successful. Don't forget, when you say the money is gone, it's been a tremendous success as a program.

People are -- they really want it. And some people won't be able to get -- keep their businesses open unless they get that money. It's been a tremendous success. It's been executed flawlessly. It's been -- I mean, with few exceptions, it's really been good.

And I think the Democrats are going to do it. Look, Nancy Pelosi, she's away on vacation or something, and she should come back. She could come back and get this done.

I don't know why she's not coming back. The fact is she's not doing her job and there's nothing unusual about that for her.

Go ahead.


REPORTER: They're now considering also adding more funding for hospitals included --

TRUMP: So, they're thinking of hospitals and hospitals -- well, hospitals are a good thing. Hospitals have been decimated by this. You know, they have given up their business which is good, because they did the right thing, in order to take care of the COVID-19.

And, no, hospitals -- I'm with that all the way. If they want to add hospitals, we could also add it into phase four if we do a phase four. Phase four would be hopefully infrastructure.

A lot of people are talking about the best thing we could do for this country would be the payroll tax cut that I have been suggesting, a lot of Democrats like it, believe it or not. The payroll tax cut.

And Art Laffer, who's tremendous -- he's a tremendous -- in fact, he recently got the Presidential Medal of Freedom, economist. He was with Ronald Reagan. And he's been -- he looks like he's 25 years old, but I think he might be a little bit older than that he looks so great.

But Art Laffer said the single best thing you can do is the payroll tax cut and I would just about agree with that. And I'd like to see that.

I'm not sure that we're going to get that. But I think that's something that could be done. It's simple. It's really good for both the company that employees these people and for the people that are employed.

So, we're going to see whether that happens or not. The payroll -- I put it out there. The payroll tax cut would be a tremendous incentive for this country.


REPORTER: China now says its coronavirus death toll in Wuhan is 50 percent higher. They're up about 4,000.


Does that sound like a credible number to you?

TRUMP: Well, you know, when I listen to the press every night saying we have the most -- we don't have the most in the world deaths. The most in the world has to be China. It's a massive country. It's gone through a tremendous problem with this, a tremendous problem. And they must have the most.

So, today, I saw they announced that essentially they're doubling up on the numbers. And that's only in Wuhan. They're not talking about outside of Wuhan.

So, it is what it is, Steve. It is what it is. What a sad -- what a sad state of affairs.

REPORTER: The investigation into whether the virus escaped from this lab in Wuhan, how active is that --

TRUMP: Well, we're looking at it. A lot of people are looking at it. It seems to make sense. They talk about a certain kind of bat but that bat wasn't in that area. If you can believe this, that's what they're down to now, bats.

But that bat is not in that area. That bat wasn't sold at the wet zone, it wasn't sold there. That bat is 40 miles away.

So, a lot of strange things are happening but there's a lot of investigation going on. And we're going to find out.

All I can say is wherever it came from, it came from China, in whatever form, 184 countries now are suffering because of it. And it's too bad, isn't it? And it could have been solved very easily, when it was just starting. It could have been solved really very easily.


REPORTER: Thank you, sir.

So, about the 80 million payments that have gone out that you mentioned you said that less than 1 percent have had snafus, but that could be 800,000 snafus so --

TRUMP: I'm just saying it's less than 1 percent and the snafus are very minor.


REPORTER: -- people who perceived --

TRUMP: No, they were -- they were 80 million payments went out over a period of a few days. And they caught certain mistakes that they made. But this is a tiny amount of mistakes.

I can tell you, mistakes were made in government where wrong countries were signed, OK? Eighty million -- this had been a tremendous success and any mistake that was made they have been caught and it's less than 1 percent. That's a good percentage, I can tell you, for government.

I mean, how about -- how about the Obama website? The Obamacare website where they spent $5 billion on building a website that you could have built for peanuts.


REPORTER: If money went out to deceased people, is the government going to get that back?

TRUMP: Yes, anything -- anything that was sent out, it's like sometimes you send a check to somebody wrong. Sometimes people are listed -- they die and they get a check. That can happen.

You're about talking -- I guess the number is 80 million people. Yes, sure. We'll get that back. Everything we're going to get back.

But it's a tiny amount. They have done a fantastic job. This was done in a matter of a few days.


REPORTER: Your campaign said today that they are planning on resuming rallies before the election. Is there a timeline you're looking at? Would it be restricted to certain states? Have you thought about how that would work?

TRUMP: Well, I hope we can do rallies. It's great for the country. It's a great spirit. It's great for a lot of things. To me, it's a tremendous way of getting the word out.

If you look at our success rate, we have had tremendous success. We win where we have rallies, including endorsements of candidates. Our success rate is I think unparalleled. There's nothing like it.

So, I certainly hope we can have rallies we'll find out. I don't like the rallies where we're sitting like you're sitting. I mean, you have many reporters outside trying to get into this room.

And I come in and I'm looking at this room, and I see all -- it loses a lot of flavor. It loses to me a lot of flavor. But I hope we're going to have rallies. I think they'll be bigger than ever.

I will say this. The rallies that we're having until we had to stop with regard to the problem that we had here, the rallies were bigger than they were I think even substantially bigger. We're going to the biggest arena and we turn away 20,000, 30,000 people sometimes.

In one case, I think they said in New Jersey, we had 175,000 people show up for an arena that holds 9,000 people. And they showed up. And the reporters even reported that. It was almost shocking to me.

But I hope we can resume rallies because I think they're an important part of politics actually.

REPORTER: Mr. President, under your reopening plans, some workers can go back to work in phase one, but schools cannot reopen until phase two. Many parents don't have an option to work from home.

So, how can you get businesses back up and running as long as schools are closed?

TRUMP: Well, I think the businesses are going to, and I think now, we have given the businesses a real jolt, a real positive jolt. They're able to keep their employees.

You know, without the employees, if the employees leave that area, if they leave, you know, who knows where they're going? Or if they get another job maybe some place else, you're not going to have the same business.

So we gave them money to hold their employees. They're going to do that. We hope we can do $250 billion more.


It's absolutely so inexpensive compared to what it represents. And we hope that's going to happen.

But I think -- I really think, look, you see it with the market stock market. The market was up 700 or 800 points today.

And if you would have told me that we would have a virus the likes of which this world has not seen since 1917, which was the Spanish flu, where anywhere from 75 million to 100 million people were killed, and we'd have a stock market not far below it's all-time high -- and it's starting to get a little low, then 1,000 point and a 1,200 point increase.

So, now we have a stock market that's at a point which is not very far away from where it was. And we've gone through at closed, literally at closed country.

Remember this also, I mean, we have had closed economy. We have the best economy in the world, by far. We have the best economy we've ever had.

And remember this, the dollar is very strong. And dollars -- strong dollars are overall very good, but it does cause problems, it's harder to sell outside the country, et cetera, et cetera. It's a little hard for manufacturers, sometimes it's a lot harder.

Everybody wants to invest in our country and everyone wants -- and, you know, we're paying almost zero in interest, like in some cases, zero. We've never had that before. People want the safety of our country.

But if you would have told me that market where it is today and today, we had almost more than 700 point increase and we're at point which is, you know, that's not what it was, but it's not that far off, I would have told you that's got to be an impossibility.

The reason that is because there's a great pent-up demand. This country is going to come back and it's going to come back strong. We have to get rid of the virus, we got to open up our country, we're going to open it up in quadrants.

We're going to open in states. Some of the states should get together and they should work on their own borders and everything, because you don't want people pouring through the border of state that isn't infected and you have people coming from perhaps outside -- that's one of the reasons, I was asking Tony two days ago about masks.

Well, why in Wyoming or Montana do they have to wear masks, numbers are very good, reason is if somebody comes from the outside, you know, which is very severe, but it's again -- it's going to be up to them, a recommendation. But we'll see.

But if you would have told me how well we're doing after we went through the worst event of its kind since 1917, it's pretty amazing.

Question, please?

REPORTER: Mr. President, about child care though, millions of Americans aren't sure how they can go back to work if schools are closed. Where -- how can they have their kids being prepared --

TRUMP: Schools will go open very soon.

REPORTER: Is your government considering something in addition to helping employees stay employed to help them take care of their kids?

TRUMP: Yes, it's a good question. I think the schools are going to be open soon. I think a lot of governors are already talking about schools being open, and we do have to take care of our seniors because we've learned a lot about this disease. We've called it a disease, we've learned a lot about this plague, and we have to take care of our seniors. We're going to take care of a lot of people.

But I think the schools are going to be open sooner rather than later. And I understand -- and I've spoken -- some governors who are already talking about -- thinking about getting the schools open.

I have a young boy who goes to school. I'd like to see him go to school. As good as home is, it's very nice, but would like him to go to school.


REPORTER: Thank you, Mr. President, I agree with that point.

I would like to know, that some of the areas that you like to open up, some of these quadrants, you singled out, Virginia, Michigan, they don't have a decline in case yet, yet you tweeted out today you would like to liberate them.

TRUMP: Well, they're going to have soon, they're very, very -- very -- what they've done is very powerful in terms of -- I think, you know, you can get the same result with doing a little bit less. What they've done to some people is very unfair.

In Virginia, I'm going beyond what we've talked about with this horrible plague. They want to take their guns away, OK? They want to take their guns away. That's a Second Amendment, that's Virginia.

You have a governor who really -- I guess he should be under siege. He seems not to be. If he were a Republican, he would be under siege, but seems to have escaped something that was pretty bad, including what he said about birth, including what he said about many different things.

But he wants to take -- if you take a look what's going on in Virginia, they want to take away Second Amendment rights, and that's what they want to do. So, when you talk about liberate or if you talk about liberation, you could certainly look at Virginia as one.

Go ahead, anybody else?

REPORTER: Mr. President --

REPORTER: Which states are ready to reopen in your mind and how soon?

TRUMP: Well, I don't want to go, I want to leave -- the governors make that decision. We're watching very closely, if we see something happening bad, that we think is wrong, and we're going to come down very strong on that, very, very strong.


The federal government has a lot to say. We have -- we have a lot to say beyond what anyone understands. And we think and I've gotten to know many of the governors, many Democrats too. It's the Republicans and -- I knew the Republicans, I knew some of the Democrats, but I got to know a lot of them.

I think it's going to be in the hands of a lot of good people. I think a lot of good people are looking at this and they want to do what's right.


REPORTER: The vice president is traveling soon I think tomorrow to Colorado. When are you going to be in position to travel again?

TRUMP: Well, they'd rather not have me travel. I think I've been in the White House, I don't know, for months, I don't know what it is, but it's for months, other than I did leave to say goodbye to our beautiful ship, right, the Comfort, the -- as it left Virginia, got out of dry dock, gout of maintenance very early.

It was supposed to be there a four weeks. It was there for a few days. Literally, we got it up to New York.

I mean, they didn't need like a -- well, I wouldn't say we hope, I'm glad they didn't need it. They didn't need it. That was good thing.

They didn't need the convention center, 2,500 beds or defending on your definition, 2,900. We ultimately converted to COVID. The Army Corps of Engineers and FEMA, the job they did was incredible.

But that's a sign they're making progress in New York. If you look at -- you know, we built it, it was ready, it's there now. It's ready. We converted it to COVID, wasn't supposed to be for that, at the request of frankly our side, and then ultimately we converted it.

But there's much less demand. That's such a good thing. I mean, I'm not complaining about that. I think it's a great -- that means New York is making progress.

REPORTER: Do you know where the vice president is going tomorrow?

TRUMP: Is he going to Colorado? I think he's going to the Air Force to make commencement, right?


TRUMP: Oh, I think it's great. I think it's great.

If he's going to make the commencement -- I hear they're going to have a very spread out crowd.

PENCE: Yes, sir.

TRUMP: They're going to be -- I will say, they're going to be socially very good. They're going to be very far apart. That will be very interesting. I think I'm going to watch that one.

No, they're going to be -- they're going to have a good spread, a good distance apart. I spoke to Mike about it.

No, making the commencement speech, I'm doing it at West Point which I'm looking forward to, I did it last year at Air Force, I did at Annapolis, I did it at the Coast Guard Academy, and I'm doing it at West Point.

I assume they're -- they've got it, I understand they'll have distancing, they'll have some big distance, and so, it will be very different than it ever looked. Do I like the look? No, I don't.

And eventually, next year, they'll have a commencement which will be like it's been like -- when people like this, our great admiral has done a great job when he graduated from where he graduated, me too, we're nice and tight.

And that's going to happen again. I don't want people to think that this is going to be like this forever, but for a period of time, we're going to have to keep it that way. That includes baseball games and football games and other things.

But eventually, as this virus goes away, it's going to be better and better, Director, it's going to be better and better, and we're going to get our lives back to the way they were.

You know, one thing that bothers me, couple of restaurateurs called, and they said, I mean, sir, I barely made a living with 150 seats, now if I do what they want me to do, I'll be down to 25 seats, and I can't. I said, yes, but you're not going to be there forever. And he didn't really know that. He thought that they were going to take 150 seats, move it down to 25 to 50 seats, depending on the way he laid it out.

I said, don't worry about it. Eventually, you're going to be back to the scene that you used to have, which was -- look I could tell you about -- and I'm not going to do it because I didn't want to bring it up. But I could tell you about events that took place, and I said things like, you will never do that again, or you'll never do this again. Or I don't even want to mention the events are what you are supposed to be doing, because -- and, you know, one of them was so horrible.

I said the certain industry will be out of business. Never happen again. Two weeks later, it was like nothing ever happened.

Hopefully, we get rid of this, we have this tremendous talent up here and all over, including governors, including local governments, state governments. I look forward to the time to when we can really normalize. But normalizing is being back to where we were.

Yes, please go ahead.

REPORTER: Mr. President, some of your allies are calling for China to be stripped as host of the 2022 Olympics. Wondering what you make of that? Is that something you would consider or --

TRUMP: So I just made a deal with China where they're going to put in $250 billion of product. They're going to be -- they're going to be buying $250 billion from $40 billion to $50 billion in farm. I want to see what's happening with China. I want to see how they're doing on it.