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The Situation Room
President Trump And White House Coronavirus Task Force Hold Press Briefing. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired April 05, 2020 - 19:00 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: It's been very short but perhaps decrease so we wish Governor Cuomo and all of the people in New York great. And New Jersey, your governor is doing a great job. He's doing a great job in New Jersey. They got hit very hard.
Just want to say that the full power of the American government and American enterprise is -- it really is -- this is an all-out military operation that we've waged. And especially over the last number of weeks.
Fifty states and territories have now been approved for major disaster decorations, which is very unusual. Thanks to the Army Corps of Engineers New York City's Javits Center is one of the largest hospitals in the United States. It's designated for treatment of the virus patients and staffed by hundreds of federal medical personnel deployed from two Army hospital units and they're doing a great job.
This was something that we didn't expect to do. But they needed help in New York and we sent federal troops. Not only troops, we also sent a lot of very talented doctors, nurses, first responders, people are now running Javits. Also, as you know, the USNS Comfort which is in New York. There's been a lot of publicity about that coming in and all. That was not supposed to be for the virus at all under any circumstances. But it looks like more and more we're going to be using it for that.
So we'll see. That was supposed to be for people having other medical problems but it's very interesting because they're virtually no cars on the road, no motorcycles on the road, no -- no anything on the road. Things that would normally be taken cared of we don't see anymore. So we haven't seen that in a long time. So perhaps a positive. But the ship is ready and if it has to, if we need it, if we need it for the virus, we will be using it for that.
They'd prefer not, for obvious reasons, but if for any reason they need it, it's ready. Willing and able. We have the best doctors, the best military leaders and the best logistics professionals anywhere in the world.
And we're orchestrating a massive federal response unlike anything our country has ever seen or done. We've never done anything like this. And more and more we're using our medical people because of the fact that jurisdictions, states, in particular New York, New Jersey, the Connecticut area. Long Island now has become a hotspot part of New York.
We're sending a lot of things, a lot of supplies, and now we're sending personnel where it's needed. Military personnel. As of Tuesday we'll have deployed over 3,000 military and public health professionals to New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and other parts of our country. Three thousand and that number is going up. And we hope we're seeing a leveling off in the hottest spots of them all. So we'll see. You'll be seeing that over the next few days and see what happens. But we're prepared.
In the last seven days, FEMA has airlifted critical supplies and protective equipment from every corner of earth. They're coming from all over the planet including from within the United States where the equipment is and as necessary. Since last Sunday cargo planes have delivered almost, listen to this, 300 million gloves, almost eight million masks, and three million gowns and many more fully loaded cargo planes are right now on the way. Three big ones landed today.
And these supplies are being distributed directly to the hospitals and healthcare providers all across the nation. So that massive amount of material that we're getting in is being delivered all over the country. Tomorrow we'll deliver an additional 600,000 N-95 masks to New York City to take care of the needs of the public hospital system. It was a request of Mayor de Blasio. We've been working great with Mayor de Blasio, getting him a lot of stuff. He's working very hard, I can tell you that.
And we're working really very hard with New York City and with New York state. And at the request of Congressman Lee Zeldin out of Long Island, we will also be delivering another 200,000 N-95 masks to Suffolk County where they need it very badly. So getting that out on an emergency basis. Should be there tomorrow.
We'll also be deploying millions of N-95 masks to other locations that Admiral Polowczyk will detail shortly. The admiral will be up in just a couple of minutes. Over the last 24 hours FEMA has delivered an additional 500 ventilators to New Jersey. Five hundred. And again the governor has been very thankful. We're working very hard with New Jersey including building hospitals.
We've also sent an additional 200 ventilators to Louisiana. Definite hotspot. Three hundred to Michigan. Working very well I think with the governor. Amazingly 600 will be going or have gone to Illinois. And I mean, there's a governor, I hear him complaining all the time. Pritzker. I hear him. He's always complaining and yet I just said give me a list of a couple of the things we've done in Illinois, and we're building a 2,500-bed hospital in McCormick Place. That's a big convention center in Chicago.
And we're helping to staff it and probably we'll end up staffing it because he's not able to do what you're supposed to be able to do as a governor. He has not performed well. And we're also sending a hundred ventilators to Massachusetts. So we have 600 to Illinois, we have 100 to Massachusetts, we have 300 to Michigan, we have 200 to Louisiana, we have 500 ventilators -- 500 -- going to New Jersey.
And this is being done by FEMA, being delivered by FEMA. And it's -- and some -- just think of that when you think about 500 ventilators. Ventilators are a big deal. We are also establishing a federal medical station in the Washington, D.C. area to help Washington, D.C., and working very closely with the mayor and everybody in Washington, D.C.
At the same time Governor Inslee, we appreciate this, of Washington state has returned 400 ventilators which can now be deployed elsewhere in our country. So the state of Washington have done very well. They won't be needing some of the ventilators that had been sent, about 400. That's a lot. And we appreciate that he's able to give them back. He feels confident that they are in good shape for the coming weeks until we can declare a final victory.
In the days ahead America will endure the peak of this terrible pandemic. Our warriors in this life-and-death battle are the incredible doctors and nurses and healthcare workers on the frontline of the fight. We pledge to them our eternal gratitude and everlasting support that make all of us very proud. Our country is very proud. We have people that love our country. The world loves our country, most of it. Probably all of it, they just don't say it.
I can report today that the United States has now tested and given results, gotten results of 1.67 million people. That's far more than any other countries have been able to do. And you'll remember we inherited a broken system. So a lot of this has been developed. By Tuesday, 1,200 brand new Rapid Point of Care testing kits has been produced by Abbott laboratory. It's a great company. And they'll be distributed to all of our public health labs.
That's a 15-minute test, even less. As well as the Indian Health Service, the CDC and the Strategic National Stockpile. So we're going to have 1200 and on a weekly basis, we're making a lot more. They go very fast, they're very accurate tests. And other countries are wanting them. So at the right time we'll be able to do that but right now we're getting them to all of ours.
So we've done 1,670,000 tests. Think of that. 1,670,000 tests. And we have a great system now. We are working with the states and almost all instances, but we have a great system. And the other thing that we brought a tremendous amount of is the hydroxychloroquine, hydroxychloroquine, which I think, as you know, is a great malaria drug. It's worked unbelievably. It's a powerful drug on malaria. And there are signs that it works on this, some very strong signs.
And in the meantime, it's been around a long time. It also works very powerfully on lupus. Lupus. So there are some very strong, powerful signs that we'll have to see because, again, it's being tested now. This is a new thing that just happened to us, the invisible enemy we call it. And if you can, if you have a -- no signs of heart problems, the azithromycin, azithromycin, which will kill certain things that you don't want living within your body.
It is a powerful drug. If you don't have a problem, a heart problem, we would say let your doctor think about it. But as a combination, I think they're going to be -- I think there's two things that should be looked at very strongly.
Now we have purchased and we have stockpiled 29 million pills of the hydroxychloroquine. 29 million. A lot of drugstores have them by prescription and also -- and they're not expensive. Also we are sending them to various labs, our military, we're sending them to the hospitals, we're sending them all over.
I just think it's something -- you know, the expression, I've used it for certain reasons. What do you have to lose? What do you have to lose? And a lot of people are saying that when -- and are taking it, if you're a doctor, a nurse, a first responders, a medical person going into hospitals, they say taking it before the fact is good. But what do you have to lose? They say take it. I'm not looking at it one way or the other. But we want to get out at this.
So if it does work, it would be a shame if we didn't do it early. But we have some very good signs. So that's hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin. And again you have to go through your medical people, get the approval. But I have seen things that I sort of like so what do I know? I'm not a doctor. I'm not a doctor but I have commonsense.
The FDA feels good about it. They've -- as you know, they've approved it. They gave it a rapid approval. And the reason, because it's been out there for a long time, and they know the side effects and they also know the potential. So based on that, we have sent it throughout the country. We have it stockpiled about 29 million doses. 29 million doses. We have a lot of it. We hope it works.
Driven by the goal of the brightest minds in science, we have the brightest minds in science, but we're driven by the goal of getting rid of this plague, getting rid of this scourge, getting rid of this virus, these brilliant minds are working on the most effective antiviral therapies and vaccines. We are working very, very hard. I have met many of the doctors that are doing it. These are doctors that are working so hard on vanquishing the virus.
They're staying -- we strongly recommend staying at home, practicing vigorous hygiene and maintaining social distance so you're -- you're just not going to catch it. It's the most effective weapon in this war. And I will tell you, we are committing to the -- to year, we're committing to the people of our country like few administrations, few people, few professionals have ever committed before. They are -- they are working so hard. I see them. I see them before my eyes exhausted.
People that I'm dealing with every day, exhausted. They haven't left their offices. They haven't left their hospitals. We meet with them, we see them. And tremendous strides have been made. I think the vaccine, we'll have a report on that. But the vaccines -- working together with other countries. We're also working with other countries. Many other countries. And we all want everyone else to be first. We're very happy.
But we are very far down the line on vaccines. We'll see how that all works. Johnson & Johnson is doing great job, working very hard. A vaccine would be great. Therapy. A therapy and therapeutics would be great. We'll see what happens. In the meantime, you may listen to what I said about the two drugs mentioned.
My administration is rapidly implementing the largest emergency economic relief package in American history. We've seen what's been happening. Billions of dollars in small business loans have already been processed through paycheck protection program so we went out on Friday and literally it's become so popular. It's been worked with the banks. They get it to the small business. It's all about employment, it's all about jobs. I want you to keep your jobs.
Give small business funding to keep the workers on the payroll. And we're sending direct cash payments to millions of Americans and rushing aid to the hardest hit industries. We're saying industries. We will be -- you'll be seeing it. And if we do more, we're going to do more.
We're going to try and get directly to people that are hit so hard. But we're going to take care of our workers. We're going to take care of our citizens. We're going to take care of our small businesses. We're going to take care of our large businesses, the airplane industry, the airline industry, a lot of industries that we have that are in trouble because what took place over the last short period of times.
These are industries that were doing better, for the most part doing better than ever. The airlines are doing great. Oil was doing great, oil and gas, and the energy industry was doing phenomenally well and got hit like nobody has ever been hit before. Just about like no industry has ever been hit before. There's never been anything like this. But we see light at the end of the tunnel. Things are happening. Things are happening.
We're starting to see light at the end of the tunnel. And hopefully in the not-too-distant future we'll be very proud of the job we all did. Can never be happy when so many people are dying but we're going to be proud of the job we did to keep the death down to an absolute minimum, the least it could have happened with this terrible, terrible virus.
In closing, I also want to note today is Palm Sunday and the beginning of Holy Week for Christians and Americans all around the world. While we may be apart from one another, as you can see from our great churches, our great pastors and ministers are out there working very hard. But we may be apart, we can use this time to turn to reflection and prayer and our own personal relationship with God.
I would ask that all Americans pray for the heroic doctors and nurses, for the truck drivers and grocery store workers, and for everyone fighting this battle. I had mentioned yesterday where I see the nurses rushing into hospitals and they're putting on their outfits and they're putting on their masks and goggles in some cases. They're rushing into war. They're rushing into war. And I see people from apartment houses screaming and shouting and singing their praises. It's an incredible thing. They're warriors. These doctors and nurses,
they're running into buildings and they're literally putting it on as the doors are opening. They're putting all this stuff and running inside. And they're running inside to tremendous danger, tremendous danger.
But most of all I'd like to ask for your prayers for the families who have lost loved ones. Ask God to comfort them in their hour of grief. It's a great hour of grief for our nation, for the world. This morning, I was talking 151 -- for four days, I said 151 -- 151 countries, this morning it's 182 countries. It jumped up a lot. So as of this morning it's 182 countries are under attack from this monster.
With the faith of our families and the spirit of our people and the grace of our God, we will endure. We will overcome. We will prevail. We have learned so much. We will be stronger than ever. And I just want to thank everybody. I want to thank the incredible professionals on the task force also. We had a big meeting today. We had calls all day long with so many different people. And I think our package to get everyone working when we're ready is really turning out to be successful.
We may have to make it larger because it's been really successful. But all of that comes back to this country. We want to get them back, we want to get our people back to work. Everybody wants to be back. We want to open up our country as soon as possible. So with that, I'm going to ask Dr. Birx to say a few words and she's got some charts to show you. And thank you very much. Thank you.
DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: Thank you, Mr. President.
As you can see from the hopeful signs in Italy and Spain where we see finally new cases and deaths declining, it's giving us hope of what our future could be. We wanted to give you an update on where all of the states were. We're looking at this, states normalized for 100,000 citizens. It looks very similar to last week. We wanted to update you. We've been covering throughout the week the states that were moving on this map.
You can see very clearly where New York is. The state, although this is very much still centered in the New York metro area.
New Jersey is the orange line. The green line is Louisiana. That's followed by Massachusetts and then Connecticut and Michigan are together in those lines, towards the bottom, and then of course Washington, D.C. is now visible on this map, which was not visible before. The yellow line towards the bottom is Washington state. Next slide please. So this just summarized all the states we're tracking very closely at the county levels.
We're tracing and tracking not only the epidemic of the state level but understanding that's happening in county by county with new cases and of course also the death. We're also triangulating that with all of the laboratory data and just to tell you how we're kind of doing that, for New York which you can see at the top, their serology is now about 36 percent positive. They were in the 40s. So day over day their percent positive is finally starting to decline.
New Jersey's is increases however. They're now up to 42 percent of the specimen that come to the laboratories are positive. Louisiana 25 percent. Massachusetts, 20 percent. Connecticut and Michigan, 20 percent. District of Columbia, 15 percent. Washington, 8 percent, and then Illinois, Colorado are about 16 percent. Pennsylvania, which is also new to the graphic, is at about 12 percent.
Next slide please. So if we could back one -- I'm sorry, if you go back one slide -- one more. All of the states here, those are 38 of the states, 38 of our states have less than 50 cases per hundred of thousands. They are testing. Their laboratory results are consistent with that. Their zero positivity rate for their laboratories are less than 5 percent.
So this is how we're tracking and triangulating both case reporting, mortality or fatalities, and also triangulating that with the laboratory. The New York metro area, New Jersey, Louisiana and a series -- and Washington state have all tested at a rate greater than Italy and Spain. I know many of you are tracking that. Remember many of us, we pushed out a lot of those ACEIs at the beginning over the last two to three weeks.
And I want to just thank Admiral Giroir in HHS. He's been working very closely to make sure that the states that were having an outbreak had access to all of their ACEIs. Next slide please. And then next slide. So just to give you an idea of how we're looking at this, we look at cases every day. I want to just thank my data team. They spent all evening compiling data. I get it about 2:00 in the morning.
And it looks at all of these metro areas by their granular counties so we can see the counties that have new cases. It also helps us identify the hospitals and understand what hospitals will need ventilators or PPE. So this is the Detroit area. It's Oakland and Detroit. Wayne County. Next slide.
We also then also track mortality. It gives us insights into how many clients are in the ICU who need care. We want to make sure that we're meeting the needs both on cases and really appreciating the frontline healthcare workers that are really saving many people's lives.
Next slide. This just gives you an idea from In New Orleans. We are now also tracking St. John the Baptist Parish also. But this is the New Orleans and Jefferson County and really tracking those on a case by case basis to look for changes over time. And next slide is their mortality. And you can see it's starting to stabilize.
So this is how we've been tracking and tracing the epidemic as it moves through states and counties and communities. But as we started, we just wanted to note, again, we do see hopeful signs in Spain and Italy. They have completed nearly four weeks of mitigation with people really doing social distancing, staying at home, ensuring they are washing their hands. If they have to go out to the grocery store, they're extraordinarily careful. They send one person from the family.
And so we can really see that beginning to work. And we're very hopeful that over the next week, although we'll see rising numbers of cases of people who lose their lives to this illness, we are also hoping to be able to see a stabilization of cases across these large metro areas where the outbreak began several weeks ago. So thank you for your attention.
TRUMP: Thank you very much. Admiral, please.
REAR ADMIRAL JOHN POLOWCZYK, SUPPLY CHAIN LOGISTICS TASK FORCE: Thank you, sir. I thought what I would do is an update on the average first and then follow up on Dr. Birx and how we arrived geographically aligning the supply chain.
So the average, we had three additional flights come in today, bringing a million gowns, 2.8 million N-95 masks, 2.8 million surgical masks, 11.8 million gloves, 18,600 gowns on three flights. And that material will be pushed out across the nation, delivered to hospitals and nursing homes across the country.
Doctor Birx went through the geography and so over the last few days I have been aligning the supply chain to those areas and then reaching down into those areas and extracting data from those areas on PPE burn rates. So for example, I spent the weekend talking to chief operating officer at Detroit, Hakim Berry, for example, and talked to the leadership at Detroit Medical Center, Audrey Gregory.
I talked to the health officer at Oakland County, Michigan, and then also with the Chicago health officer, Dr. Allison Arwady, so reaching down to the level to understand their needs. So we're geographically aligning the supply chain. As you can see Dr. Birx went through these counties and we're getting down to the county level. And then aligning it by priorities of point of care. Public hospitals first, VA hospitals, private hospitals, nursing homes, first responders, acute care.
Over the coming days, we will be making a push to the geographic areas that Dr. Birx mentioned. Increasing the volume through the supply chain to those area to give them weeks not just days' worth of supply. Primarily using our industry partners that we are directing. Cardinal McKesson, Medline, Owen and Minor, Henry Shine, Concordance Healthcare. Directing them to put product to the hospital door, the nursing home door, the first responder, directly to them.
We're also in the -- working to push out millions of doses of --
POLOWCZYK: Hydroxychloroquine. Right. We are working the distribution there to push the same thing to the same impacted areas, working it to get into hospitals and to every pharmacy. And so my team is back there right now working the arrangements to make that to the hospitals' front door and primarily to the local pharmacies so doctor can write those prescriptions and you can get it prior to having to go to a --
TRUMP: Great job. Thank you.
ROBERT WILKIE, VETERANS AFFAIRS SECRETARY: Thank you, Mr. President, Mr. Vice President. My last appearance here, I mentioned that the president had given the Department of Veterans Affairs very specific instructions to be as aggressive as possible in response to the virus crisis, and not only to protect veterans but also to help the American people.
As many of you know we have three primary missions at the VA. One is support veterans' health, the other is to provide veterans with benefits and the third is memorial services. But we have a fourth mission. And that is to support the nation in times of national emergency both in war and in peace.
We provide a bridge from the federal government to the states and localities during these emergencies. As a result of that, I have ordered our veteran hospitals to begin preparing more than 1500 beds to make them available both at the ICU and the acute care level, to the states and localities across the country.
As a result of that, we have opened up approximately 100 beds in the metropolitan New York area in Brooklyn and Manhattan and East Orange, New Jersey. We will informing the governor of Louisiana, John Bel Edwards, tomorrow that we will give him access to our VA Medical Center in Shreveport, Louisiana, to come to the aid of the people of the Pelican State.
I've also given instructions to initiate the Fourth Mission in Michigan. We will be providing the people of Michigan access to hospital beds in both Ann Arbor and in Detroit.
We've also provided a pharmaceutical trailer to be used by the Governor of Michigan at Cobo Hall to support the citizens of Michigan who will be coming into that facility for medical care.
We have also informed the state of -- Commonwealth of Massachusetts that we will be helping them in their efforts to protect their most vulnerable citizens and two of their nursing homes.
So in accord with the President's instructions, the 400,000 men and women of the Department of Veterans Affairs are in this fight. We're in the fight not only for the nine and a half million veterans who are part of our service, but we are in the fight for the people of the United States.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you.
WILKIE: Thanks. Thank you.
TRUMP: All right.
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you, Mr. President. And you all have just heard from several members of the President's White House Coronavirus Taskforce and we are -- we are truly blessed to have the kind of leadership that we have, and whether it be Admiral Polowczyk, who is organizing the distribution of tens of millions of supplies, whether it be Dr. Birx and Dr. Fauci who are analyzing the data literally hour by hour, or whether it be that whole of government approach that you stood up, Mr. President, calling on every agency of government including the V.A., H.H.S., and every agency.
I hope the American people know, at this President's direction, we are -- we are sparing no expense. We're doing whatever it takes. We're marshalling the full resources of the Federal government to respond to the challenges facing communities impacted today by the coronavirus and making sure every community in America the support.
We've also, as the President said so many times, we forged a seamless partnership with states around the country. As the President just reflected by this Tuesday with another 840 military medical personnel arriving in New York City. There will be some 3,000 Department of Defense and H.H.S. personnel on the ground to supplement and to provide relief to healthcare workers, really at the epicenter of the coronavirus in the New York City area. And you just heard the V.A. is opening up -- opening up bed space.
In New Jersey, I spoke at the President's urging today with Governor Murphy and 500 ventilators announced today being built on the supplies that we have already provided. We were able to coordinate with him to extend all Federal coordination on testing in New Jersey through May the 30th if the need is there, and also opening up V.A. beds.
I spoke with Governor John Bel Edwards in Louisiana, and was encouraged to hear from him that, as you heard Dr. Birx say that new cases were down slightly. In fact, we're seeing a trend of some leveling among all the governors I spoke to today.
And I know what the Secretary of the V.A. just announced about opening up V.A. facilities has been a priority for Governor Edwards, but I assured him we're going to continue to send resources and supplies and personnel to support their healthcare.
In Michigan today, I spoke to both governor Gretchen Whitmer and Mayor Mike Duggan of the City of Detroit, Governor Whitmer and I spoke about a new program in Detroit that will make hydrochloroquine available for 3,000 patients through the Henry Ford Hospital. They'll be tracking in a formal study the results of that.
But at the President's urging, I assured her that we're more than prepared to make hydrochloroquine broadly available to pharmacies and doctors' offices across the Detroit area as they deem appropriate.
I also heard from Mayor Mike Duggan as I told you, Mr. President, and he was so grateful to the F.D.A., not only for approving the Henry Ford Hospital tests that will be exploring hydrochloroquine, but also for the rapid approval of the 15-minute test.
In fact, Mayor Duggan told me that he was able to use the 15-minute test this weekend to test 150 first responders who had been sidelined because they'd been exposed to the coronavirus. They all got the 15- minute tests, they're all back in the line of duty and the mayor couldn't have been more grateful.
In Illinois. I spoke with Governor J.B. Pritzker as well as Mayor Lori Lightfoot of Chicago. As you just heard, not only have we sent 600 ventilators to the State of Illinois, but I assured -- I assured the Governor, I assured the Mayor, that while the principal focus that we have in the next several days is on the rising cases in the Greater New York City area in Louisiana, that Michigan and Illinois are in the forefront of our thinking and at the President's direction, we're going to make sure the people of Illinois and people of Michigan have the resources, equipment and support that they need.
PENCE: The Governor did express great appreciation for the fact that our Army Corps of Engineers constructed 500 beds at McCormick Place and before the end of this week, would construct another 2,500 beds for an overflow healthcare facility in Chicago.
In fact, Mr. President, Mayor Lightfoot told me that the Army Corps was just outstanding in the job that they have been doing in constructing that extra bed space.
As I close, let me just -- let me just express as the President did our profound appreciation for Governor Kate Brown and Governor Jay Inslee, the State of Oregon and the State of Washington are leading by example.
Oregon sent 140 ventilators to New York City. They looked at their circumstances and concluded that they could spare those at the point of the need, and because of the low and steady numbers in Washington State and in California, Governor Inslee today announced that they were sending 400 ventilators back to the Strategic National Stockpile and those will be deployed at the point of the need.
You know, not only are California and Washington State low and steady, but frankly as I talked to governors and mayors today, I want to say to the American people that we are beginning to see the glimmers of progress.
The experts will tell me not to jump to any conclusions and I'm not, but like your President, I'm an optimistic person and I'm hopeful. And the truth is, we're starting to see cases and most importantly, losses and hospitalizations begin to stabilize.
But make no mistake about it, I want to say to the American people, if that holds, if that's happening, it's because of what all of you are doing.
It's because the American people are putting into practice, the Coronavirus Guidelines for America. You're listening to your state and local officials. You're practicing social distancing. You're using drive-thru instead of going into restaurants. And so on behalf of your President and all of us, who are working
really at every level. I just want to say thank you, America. Thank you for responding. Thank you for putting other people's lives in the forefront of your thinking, putting it again, over and above your own inconvenience and difficulty.
Because of your efforts there is, as the President just said, light at the end of the tunnel. I'm absolutely convinced with the continued cooperation, patience, persistence, and prayers of the American people will get through this and we will get through this a lot sooner than we first thought it would take. Thank you.
TRUMP: Thank you very much. Thank you.
QUESTION: Mr. President --
TRUMP: Go ahead, go ahead.
QUESTION: Mr. President, if we could start with the Admiral, if that's all right, please, sir. I wanted to ask you about the air gap flights, sir. There were the two flights that came through -- the three flights -- where did they come from, sir?
POLOWCZYK: They came from Asia.
QUESTION: Asia. Okay. And then you were mentioning all of these supplies being dropped off. The masks, the gowns, that hydrochloroquine. How are you guys making sure that there's not a run on these products? Yes, you drop them off at hospital A and then people start rushing and go grab every mask and gown. Then I have a question for you, sir, after.
POLOWCZYK: And so, it's going to the loading dock and there is an invoice. And so those people that are responsible for that loading dock and that invoice, they're going to make sure that there's not going to be run on any of that.
QUESTION: Yes, we are not going to run on any of these. Okay. Thank you, sir, appreciate it. Mr. President, first did you have a chance --
TRUMP: We do get orders for a lot more than sometimes we think an area needs. Generally speaking, we'd like to either negotiate that down or give it to them as they want.
So we've had a lot of orders that we think are high, but we generally like if we have it, if we have, for instance, with the medicines and with other things, we'd like to give it to them.
Every day we're building up and building it up very rapidly and deploying it. But we do get orders from some of the states where we don't think they need it. We try and get it for them what they want anyway. Okay, go ahead.
QUESTION: You mentioned that Prime Minister off of the top, did you have a chance to speak to him today, sir? TRUMP: I didn't speak to him, no. I did get a call from the
Ambassador. And hey, it's a big move going to the hospital. That's a big thing. He's a great gentleman. So I -- you know, I just hope he's okay.
QUESTION: And then also, you mentioned the nurses, the doctors, the people who are going to celebrate -- sorry, people that are gearing up and getting ready, the people that are flying and celebrate him. Has there been any talk on any level whatsoever of some sort of either compensation fund or protection for nurses, doctors, because there's been a lot of fear. There's been some people that said, I can't risk my family's livelihood. I can't go back to the ER. Has there been any discussion?
TRUMP: No, we're talking about it and we're talking about doing something for them. But we're really looking at the conclusion we want to just -- we don't want to focus on that now. They're incredible. They're not saying we're not doing it. They go in with good equipment, with great equipment, and with stuff that's not so good.
And sometimes they catch it. We have the best stuff you can buy, brand new, the best stuff. This is a very tough enemy. But these are amazing people. No, we are talking about something, but we're really thinking about let's get it finished first before we do that, please.
QUESTION: The Surgeon General this morning was talking about the coming week being among the hardest and saddest weeks of our lives. He was talking about this being our Pearl Harbor, our 9-11 moment. You all are talking about glimmers of hope and stabilization.
How are the American people supposed to bridge those different descriptions that they're getting from this administration?
TRUMP: I think they are so different. I think we all know that we have to reach a certain point, and that point is going to be a horrific point in terms of death, but it's also pointed which things are going to start changing.
We're getting very close to that level right now. And the next week and a half, two weeks are going to be -- I think they're going to be very difficult.
At the same time, we understand what they represent and what that time represents. And hopefully we can get this over with because this is a very horrible thing for the world.
And look, we're one country out of 182 now that have it. A hundred eighty two countries. I have a friend of mine, he didn't know we had so many countries in the world -- 182 countries are now affected by this. So we want to get it over with. Okay. Please?
QUESTION: Based on those numbers, sir, can I just ask my thoughts on those numbers that you were talking about earlier? How does that change the projections that you were making earlier this week of 100,000 to 200,000.
TRUMP: We hope we can stay under those numbers. Those are numbers of death, and we hope we can stay under those numbers. That would be terrific and as far under those numbers as possible.
Now, we did nothing, you know that number, too, but the American people really stepped up, so did the professionals, they just really stepped up. So we're hoping to stay under those numbers and that means the minimum and the maximum, but we're hoping to stay under the minimum number. You know what that number was?
QUESTION: Right, but do the numbers that you were talking about today, have they changed those protections?
TRUMP: I would say the answer is yes. But I would also say that we're not going to know really in terms of a final toll until we get out to the end, and we're probably possibly not so far away. We're getting closer.
But it's our goal to stay as far under that minimum number, the minimum number as possible. Okay. That's what we want to do. Go ahead.
QUESTION: Mr. President, as President of the United States, your words carry enormous weight in this country and around the world, and while you acknowledge you're not a physician, you do promote these medicines extensively here.
How do you not go so far as to be giving medical advice? And you said yesterday, you might take some of these medicines even though you don't have symptoms. Are you still planning to do that? And how do you calibrate being enthusiastic and not playing doctor?
TRUMP: Yes. Because I want people to live and I'm seeing people dying. And I've seen people that are going to die without it. And you know, the expression when that's happening, they should do it. What really do we have to lose?
We also have this medicine that has been tested for many years for malaria and for lupus, so it's been out there. So it's a very strong, powerful medicine, but it doesn't kill people.
We have some very good results and some very good tests, you've seen the same test that I have. In France, they had a very good test, they're continuing.
But we don't have time to go and say, gee, let's take a couple of years and test it out. And let's go and test with the test tubes and the laboratories. We don't have time. I'd love to do that.
But we have people dying today as we speak, there are people dying. If it works, that would be great. If it doesn't work, we know for many years, malaria, it's incredible what it's done for malaria. It's incredible what it's done for lupus, but it doesn't kill people.
That's one of the things with a vaccine. When we have a vaccine, we have to do tests because when you inject that vaccine, when they take whatever it is they have to take, we have to make sure it doesn't have a horrible impact, destroy somebody -- good. So we have to test it for a long period of time.
TRUMP: This one, not so much because it's been out there now. I'm not acting as a doctor, I'm saying, Do what you want. But there's some good signs. You've read the signs, I've read the signs.
With the other one, there's some very good signs also -- different -- going together works very well. But there may be an indication that if you have a problem with your heart, you shouldn't take what we call the Z-Pak. You shouldn't take it and that's okay.
But I would love to go to a laboratory and spend a couple of years testing something. We don't have time. We don't have two hours, because there are people dying right now. If it does help, great. If it doesn't help, we gave it a shot. We gave it a shot. That's the way I feel.
You know, we pass something -- yes, I would -- I would be super serious about taking it -- would pass something I'm very proud of. It is called Right to Try.
For 45 to 50 years, they've been trying, it makes so much sense. We have the greatest doctors and labs and lab technicians, greatest medicines, the greatest minds in the world, everybody admits that.
And when we're close to having something or when we have something that tests incredibly well, you couldn't use it for years because they would take years and years to test.
So with the help of also Democrats, I got it bipartisan, but they've been trying to get this passed for decades, you know that. It's got a Right to Try. So a person would be diagnosed terminally ill from something. And in the old days, meaning before a year ago, they would say do you think I could try this pill, this whatever, this medicine that's testing so well? No, you can't do that. You can't do that under no circumstances.
They would leave for Asia. They would for Europe. They would leave for -- if they had money. If they had no money that go home and die with no hope. We've got a thing called Right to Try.
If somebody is very ill, terminally ill, they're going to die. They -- and it was very complex. It wasn't as easy as it sounds, because there was a huge liability and problems. The drug companies didn't want to do it because they didn't want it on test results, because these are very sick people. So they didn't want to bring down their test results.
The insurance companies had tremendous problems. I got everybody in the room and I said, look, we'll sign a waiver. The person taking it will say we're not going to sue. The family is not going to sue the drug company. They are not going to sue the insurance company. They are not going to sue the state, the city or the Federal government. Okay. It's called exculpation and we get it done. It's a very simple
agreement. I don't know why nobody ever thought of it, but they never thought of it. I did and we got it done. Now, we have right to try, which is actually, in my opinion, much more difficult than what we're talking about here.
But if there's a medicine or something, a possible cure or something that's looking good and somebody has something that's gone -- they're going to die or they're very sick. They take it.
And you know, we've had some unbelievable results, unbelievable results. And it also gives the people hope. Yes, please.
QUESTION: Mr. President, the doctors who are treating coronavirus patients, they have the medical expertise to determine whether or not they should prescribe hydroxychloroquine --
TRUMP: And many of them do.
QUESTION: And there are already clinical trials in place, looking at hydroxychloroquine. So --
TRUMP: Which won't finish in about a year.
QUESTION: Why not just let the science speak for itself? Why are you promoting this drug?
TRUMP: I am not. I am not. I'm just simply -- I'm not at all. I am not. Look, you know what I'm trying to do.
QUESTION: You come out here every day, right, sir, talking about the benefits.
TRUMP: I want them to try it, and it may work and it may not work. But if it doesn't work, it's nothing lost by doing it. Nothing.
QUESTION: But you --
TRUMP: Because we know long term what I want, I want to save lives. And I don't want to be in a lab for the next year and a half as people are dying all over the place.
QUESTION: It's already out there. Doctors are already able to prescribe it, I believe, right?
TRUMP: That's right. All I am doing is saying --
QUESTION: So what do you accomplish?
TRUMP: Well, I'll tell you what I accomplished. We bought massive amounts of it, 29 million doses of it. We have it coming from all of the labs. We're actually now doing it here.
Because in case it does work, we want to have it. And we've given it to drugstores. We're sending it all over. F.E.M.A. is doing it. F.E.M.A. is doing it. We're doing it through different channels, many different channels, including the companies that make it.
It's a very special thing. Now, it may not work, in which case, hey, it didn't work. And it may work, in which case it's going to save a lot of lives. Now a lot of people say if the people walking in prior to getting it, if they take it, it has a profound effect. Well, maybe it does and maybe it doesn't.
TRUMP: I don't want to wait a year and a half to find out and only CNN would ask that question. Fake news. Go ahead.
QUESTION: Sir. I want put you on focus, but first, I was hoping to ask Dr. Birx a question. The President just said that, based on the most recent data that you've seen some change in the projection.
I'm wondering if you could -- you obviously have a week's more worth of data since the sort of 100,000 to 240,000 potential death figures that you gave us last week. So I'm wondering, with all the caveats that this is sort of based on continuing social distancing that we might see, you know, if one city pops things could change dramatically.
What are the sort of range that you're now looking at in terms of total death impact?
BIRX: I think the most important thing right now is when we were talking about why we are hopeful, well, hopeful because last time I was here, I wasn't able to really tell you that Italy and Spain were coming across their apex and coming down the other side.
And I think to me, that's extraordinarily hopeful. They just completed four weeks of really strong mitigation, and I think that's our word to the American people is we can look like that.
Two other countries look like that now. Two other countries with a very similar experience to our experience with higher case numbers and higher mortality. And so that's what the promise is. The promise is if we do this, we could potentially be better.
Now, Dr. Fauci and I today got another update from another independent modeler and the numbers came in close to that 100,000 again, but we believe Dr. Fauci and I that if every American follows the guidelines, six feet, washing Hands, not social gathering -- that will have an even greater impact.
And the other side of the equation certainly is our remarkable healthcare providers, our respiratory therapists, our laboratory technicians, our nurses and doctors. They're saving lives every day. And so that changes the number, too.
TRUMP: I also think that Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx are very impressed with the American people. And I'm not going to put words in anybody's mouth. I would never do that. But I am and I will say that they are doing maybe a better job than we all thought even possible.
When you look at streets of New York where there's nobody in the street. No cars, no nothing. I see it. You know, I've seen those streets for a long time and they're packed all the time. And now you see that nobody.
You look at other places. You look at what's going on in California where they're doing a fantastic job. They really are. The Governor is doing great. I am proud of him. I am proud of a lot of people, proud of a lot of people in the other side, you know, a lot of people.
Really -- I am really delighted to work with people that frankly on other issues, I didn't get along so well. We disagree on this or that. We have to go into that now. But we're getting along with a lot of people, and they're happy with us. We're happy with them.
But I really believe that the American people are doing a better job than anybody would have thought even possible, and that's one of the reasons we can even be talking about the kind of number that we hopefully will be talking about, which is, at the minimum level instead of the maximum or beyond. It's not even the maximum -- it's much beyond a maximum level, which would be horrific. Yes, please.
QUESTION: Oh go ahead.
QUESTION: Mr. President, Secretary Esper mentioned the Department of Defense might be moving in the direction of using face coverings by former Vice President Biden had mentioned that he was going to be using a mask whenever he goes out now.
Are we getting to a point where we might see members of the Coronavirus Taskforce also wear face coverings?
TRUMP: Well, it was voluntary as I saw it yesterday. And certainly if they'd want to I would -- I would encourage it. I would have absolutely no problem with that if they wanted.
We had a long meeting today. There's good separation. But the Taskforce meets and I would certainly have absolutely no problem if they wanted to. I think, frankly, it's something at least for a period of time where it might be advisable and you know, it's advisory. And we'll see what happens. Yes, please.
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President on Project Air Bridge, we've seen reports that Chinese shipments, testing kits and PPE have turned out to be faulty to some capacity. We obviously don't have overstock.
TRUMP: Not here. No, not here.
QUESTION: No, but to Spain in particular.
TRUMP: We've seen in Spain and you've see in the different -- they are not sending faulty things to us.
QUESTION: So we are not concerned of that.
TRUMP: No, you can test it. You go look at it. You go check it out. Please?
POLOWCZYK: One of the things we are doing to prevent that is using those six companies that are the ones in the major supply chain. We're actually going to facilities, looking at product, inspecting it, and clearing it before it comes here. So we've heard those things that's why we're doing it. Thank you.
QUESTION: A follow up for the doctors if --
TRUMP: And we're also sending it from other location, right? And when it comes to the ventilators which are very complex, we are now building -- we have now under construction, literally thousands of ventilators. So -- but so far, I think our projections on ventilators have been right. They've been correct. Did you have something for who?
QUESTION: Well for yourself and for Dr. Birx and Dr. Fauci if they want to take a crack at it. Some of the models that you guys were using, the I.H.M.E. model in particular, has been very accurate when it comes to projecting deaths of the last couple of days.
But there's a couple of other metrics that they seem to be pretty far off on specifically hospital beds. Are you guys, you know, happy with the models you're currently using? Is there any need to adjust those?
TRUMP: Well, it's turning out that we need less hospital beds.
TRUMP: That's what you're talking about. And that's -- well, we may have models, but we've been sort of saying that. In New York, we were saying we think you're going to need less. Now, let's hope that continues. But right now, I heard Governor Cuomo this morning, and he was saying less hospital beds, also less death. That was a very big thing.
First time, less death today than yesterday, right? That's a big thing. But also less hospital beds. That means less patients because basically it's less patients. And we were saying that and it also means less ventilators. So there's a lot of not a very positive things happening. Okay. Please?
QUESTION: With Prime Minister Johnson hospitalized.
QUESTION: I noticed a few minutes ago you were standing right next to Vice President Pence. Are you considering staying away from each other just to make sure we have continuity of government in the Executive Branch?
TRUMP: We have this tiny platform and I'd love it to be wider. You're staying away from each other. Mike, you were tested?
PENCE: Yes, sir. TRUMP: Okay. Like recently, so was I a couple of days ago.
TRUMP: We are. We are. We are. You know, we are on this platform. But I get next to him, I don't breathe. I'm only kidding. We are -- we are sometimes forced into positions that I'd rather -- I'd rather be away but it's -- you know, you're all looking for questions.
Mike is a very big part of this. I am. It's very difficult, maintaining like this distance on this little area.
QUESTION: I just wanted to ask really quickly, under what circumstances you would consider leveling of imports -- tariffs on imports of oil to the United States.
TRUMP: Well, if the oil price stays the way it is because of people that really want to see it go up. When I say get -- we want to save a great industry and we built a great industry in this country. If they don't get along, I would do that. Yes, I would do tariffs, very substantial tariffs. Because we're independent now. We have our own oil.
And if I did the tariffs, we essentially would be saying we don't want foreign oil. We don't want any foreign oil. We're just going to use our oil. And that would help to save an industry and you know, it has become a tremendous job producer, and it's great to be independent.
We are independent. Our energy is now independent. We produce more oil -- oil and gas than anybody else than any other country and that all took place over the very recent time.
Now in the meantime, I'm seeing 91 cents a gallon out on the road. Okay. A lot of people are happy. I see very inexpensive jet fuel. We're trying to save the airline industry.
But I want to save our great energy industry and that's what we're doing. Yes. So I would -- I would absolutely do that. And what we'll do, the price will still be very low, but what we'll do is we'll save and very importantly, we will save tens of thousands of jobs.
One of the other things we're doing is having oil shipped to our strategic oil reserves. Okay. And, you know, we're buying it for the right price and we're shipping it, in some cases, we're storing it for nothing. They are there. We're filling up our reserves with this very inexpensive oil. Nobody thought they'd ever see a price -- it's like from the 1950s where they had big dollars, okay.
So, no, I would use tariffs if I had to. I don't think I'm going to have to because Russia doesn't benefit by having this and Saudi Arabia doesn't benefit by having it. They -- you know, oil and gas are their major sources of income. So it's obviously very bad for them.
But we have to -- we have an industry that's a very important industry and it is really formed beautifully.