White House Coronavirus Task Force Briefing

President Donald Trump

  • We just completed a meeting with the Secretary of Treasury Steve Mnuchin and Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao on proposals regarding the airlines and the airline business.
  • The airline business has been hit very hard, as everybody knows. We are going to be in a position to do a lot to help them so that they keep their employees and they save their businesses.
  • We may even have discussions with some of the airlines or all of the airlines over the weekend. And I think it’s going to be a very acceptable package. It’s a very big package and a very acceptable package. It’ll be good for our country, good for the airlines, good for a lot of people.
  • I spoke with the Russian President Vladimir Putin and the King of Saudi Arabia, King Salman about oil production and OPEC. The numbers are so low that there’ll be layoffs all over the world. There’ll be certainly layoffs in this country, and we don’t want that to happen.
  • Express my sincere gratitude to the American people. Millions of Americans are making profound and difficult sacrifices in their own lives because they know it will save the lives of countless others. Hopefully we’re going to be opening up very soon.
  • The American medical system continues to perform beyond our highest expectations, reminding us that the United States is blessed with the most advanced healthcare and the most skilled healthcare workers anywhere in the planet. Other countries are looking to what we’re doing. Our testing operation has now become far and away the most sophisticated and the best anywhere.
  • Thank all of the heroes on the frontlines as they fight to save American lives. We’re at the top of the hill.  Pretty sure we’re at the top of the hill, and now we’re going downward.  In some cases, we’ve already started that process.
  • Spoke with hundreds of mental health leaders and advocates from around the country to discuss the vital work and the vital work they’re doing. We had the top doctors in the country, some international doctors. Not only has the virus inflicted immense physical suffering on many people, but also mental and emotional suffering as well. 
  • We’re also seeing encouraging signs in our race to develop breakthrough treatments and therapies. Pfizer revealed today that it has found a promising new treatment that might prevent the virus from replicating. 
  • Through the FDA’s Coronavirus Treatment Acceleration Program, 19 therapies and treatments are now being tested and 26 more are in the active planning for clinical trial. 
  • Trials for Gilead’s antiviral drug, remdesivir, continue. The company has also expanded emergency use for new patients. The companies that manufacture hydroxychloroquine are massively ramping up production.
  • Reporting today that we passed 2 million tests completed in the United States. It’s a milestone for our country. 
  • At the same time, we’re making important progress on the economic front of this war. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia will explain new steps that we’re taking to ensure American workers swiftly receive unemployment and paid leave benefits.
  • To provide further economic relief, the Federal Reserve announced that it’ll provide up to $2.3 trillion in support to businesses, states, and local governments. 
    • $600 billion dollars in loans will be available for mid-sized businesses with up to 10,000 employees. 
    • $500 billion will be available for states, counties with over 2 million residents and cities with a population of over 1 million.
  • My Administration is also working with Congress to replenish the very successful Paycheck Protection Program, which is allowing hundreds of thousands of small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll, meaning it’ll keep those businesses open.
  • We need both Democrats and Republicans to come together to get legislation completed. 
  • Today, the Department of Education is announcing the availability of more than $6 billion in emergency grant funding to assist college students impacted by the cancellation of classes and the suspension of housing. Previously, we waived student loan payments for six months. 
  • Americans are moving forward with common purpose and shared resolve, determined to vanquish the virus and lift our nation to even greater heights. We are supremely confident in the magnificent future that awaits the American people.

President Trump was asked about his conversation with President Putin and King Salman. The President responded that it was very good conversation. OPEC is getting close to a deal, so we’ll see what happens. President Trump was asked how the Administration can discuss the possibility of reopening the country when the administration does not have an adequate nationwide testing system. The President responded we have a great testing system. When asked what you say to the 16 million Americans who have lost their jobs in the last three weeks, President Trump responded he thinks the economy is going to do very well. From an economic standpoint, we will end up being stronger than ever. 

Vice President Mike Pence

  • We have now cleared more than 2 million tests across the country. 
  • We’re testing more than 100,000 people a day now. 
  • At the present moment, there’s more than 450,000 Americans who have tested positive for the coronavirus, and sadly, more than 16,000 Americans have lost their lives. 
  • I want to assure you that all of us working at every level understand these are not numbers, these are lives. Our heartfelt condolences during this heartbreaking week go out to every American family that’s lost a loved one to the coronavirus.
  • Today, the White House Coronavirus Task Force met, but most of the team also met with Republicans and Democrats in two separate conference calls of the United States Senate.  Secretary Mnuchin, our health experts, Admiral Polowczyk, Dr. Hahn joined us as we discussed a broad range of issues.
  • With regard to direct payments to Americans, the Treasury Secretary assured Senators, and we assure every American, that we remain on the timetable where the first payments and direct deposits will go out by the end of next week.  For the average family of four, that’ll be $3,400 in direct financial support and will no doubt be welcome news.
  • Spoke with Governor Laura Kelly of Kansas, Governor Andy Beshear of Kentucky.  Also spoke to Governors of Texas and Rhode Island. I assured each one of them, as we continue to work through the process of making sure that we distribute the resources at the point of the need is to make sure that states have what they need when they need it.
  • FEMA reports the President has approved 54 major disaster declarations, and states around the country have stood up 29,000 National Guard, 11,000 of which are fully funded by the federal government under Title 32.
  • The Department of Defense informed the Task Force that 4,100 active-duty military medical personnel have been deployed in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Personnel that are working on the ground, at the Javits Center and the USNS Comfort ship.
  • We’re going to make sure those federal temporary hospital in Javits Center is fully staffed. We’ll make sure that USNS Comfort is staffed. But — but the physicians, those military personnel, are going to be — also be deployed across the city to bring much-needed relief to our healthcare workers and our system.
  • FEMA and the U.S. Public Health Service announced that we will give an option to states to transition from a federal testing site — dozens of which have been assembled around the country — to a state-managed site.  This is an option. We believe it gives states greater flexibility to manage sites in areas that they think are most important. 
  • We’re also bringing real innovation. The White House Coronavirus Task Force asked the FDA and CMS to review the feasibility of allowing hospital workers to use cloth gowns for performing procedures. It was observed that, 20 years ago, most physicians and most surgeons wore cloth gowns every day and laundered them, but it’s transitioned to disposable gowns. We’re working very rapidly in the next 24 hours to have guidance for hospitals and healthcare workers about the ability to recycle gowns and make sure that we have the supplies that we need.
  • Early on, the President expanded access to telemedicine. We’ve also issued guidance for using technology to remain connected to social support groups. We urge everyone who may be feeling an emotional burden or a vulnerability during this time to reach out to the many resources that are there and to know that you are not alone, that we’re with you, and we’ll get through this, and we’ll get through this together.

White House Coronavirus Task Force Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx

  • Cover not only what we’re seeing across the United States, but some of the testing data

About 118,000 to 120,000 per day are being tested, so we’re over the 750,000 per week, currently.

  • We’ve tested over 200,000 young people, up to age 25. They have about 11 percent positivity rate. Over half a million people between 25 and 45, they have a 17 percent positive rate. Remember, in order to get tested, you have to have symptoms, so this gives you an idea of the number of people who have symptoms that are not infected with coronavirus. 
  • Another nearly half a million people between 45 and 65, their positivity rate is 21 percent. 
  • Another nearly 200,000 between 65 and 85, 22 percent positive. 
  • A small group of about 30,000+ individuals over 85 have a 24 percent positivity rate. 
  • Of the male-female ratio, 56 percent of the people who are tested are female, 16 percent positive; 44 percent male, 23 percent positive. It gives you an idea about how men often don’t present in the healthcare delivery system until they have greater symptomatology. This is to all of our men out there, no matter what age group. If you have symptoms, you should be tested and make sure that you are tested. 
  • I had a series of great calls with about 17 states that are in our more rural areas, specifically around our indigenous people and tribal nations. 
  • Within the indigenous peoples and tribal nations, they’re seeing the same thing that we’re seeing across the nation: increased issues around those with co-morbidities and those of elderly, but also issues in nursing homes.
  • We’re are actively testing in nursing homes, both the residents and the workers, at all times. 
  • The other thing that I want to leave you with is we certainly know how desperate and difficult the situation has been in New York over the last few weeks.  We’ve been telling and talking about how this would be the week that would be most difficult because of the large proportion of cases that are coming from the New York metro area.
  • What’s been encouraging to us — those early states, outside of Washington and California, which still have extraordinarily low attack rates because of their level of mitigation, all of the new areas that are having new increase in cases —Washington and Baltimore, and the Philadelphia metro area that includes Camden, Wilmington, and the counties around Philadelphia — we’re seeing what we’ll get to as far as attack rates. 
  • All of this data is coming together. The testing rates, the seropositivity, the age groups, who really needs hospitalization, ICU, the innovative pieces— this is very encouraging to us. It really shows amazing progress, clinically, at each of these hospitals, and the real lessons we’re learning and sharing across hospitals. 
  • The data shows us that the original outbreaks were very large, but the newer ones that we talk about in Washington and Philadelphia and Baltimore, it looks like their attack rates and the attack rates in Denver and some of these other states that we have been talking about are much lower than New York and New Jersey.

National Institute of Health Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci

  • As I mentioned yesterday and the day before, in the sense of deaths, it is a bad week. In fact, every day there seems to be a record of number of deaths compared to the day before. In fact, New York, today, had again another record about 820-plus deaths.
  • What we were predicting — with the increase and the real adherence to the physical separation, the guidelines that the Vice President talks about, the physical separation — at the same time as we’re seeing the increase in deaths, we’re seeing rather dramatic decrease in the need for hospitalizations. I think yesterday, it was something like 200 new hospitalizations and it’s been as high as 1,400 at any given time. So that is going in the right direction.
  • I always remind myself when I say that means that what we are doing is working, and therefore we need to continue to do it. I know I sound like a broken record. That’s good. I want to sound like a broken record.  Let’s just keep doing it.
  • Birx and I get questions about these numbers, the projections from 100,000, 200,000, now down to 60,000. When you take the data, you have and you reinsert it into the model, the model modifies. Data is real; model is hypothesis. 
  • Some just broad, general, good news from the standpoint of a scientific standpoint. There are a lot of candidate, potential therapeutics that are going into clinical trials now that we’re sponsoring at the NIH.  The kinds of clinical trials that will give us the answer: Are they safe? Are they effective? And just what is the — the capability of using them under what circumstance — as prophylaxis, as treatment in early disease, in late disease?
  • As we have the public health measures to try and contain this, we’re doing an awful lot from a scientific standpoint so that when we do get to next year, next fall, next winter, hopefully we’ll have something that we can offer in addition to the very important public health measures.

Department of Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia

  • The important public health measures that have been discussed so much in these briefings in this room have had a large impact in American workplaces. 
  • We saw that again today as the Labor Department released figures showing that 6.6 million new unemployment claims were filed last week.  We’re all mindful that the American people are making difficult sacrifices. That has included being furloughed, laid off, or having a small-business struggle.
  • American workers can be encouraged by how swiftly and comprehensively the President and Congress have responded. Three weeks ago, the U.S. had never had a law requiring paid sick leave at U.S. companies. Three weeks ago, the President signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which did provide paid sick leave, as well as expanded family and medical leave for employees at small businesses, with those small businesses being reimbursed dollar for dollar for having provided that leave.
  • Last week, the Labor Department issued rules to implement these leave requirements of the Families First Act, and we’ve been in near constant contact with employers and employees to help them understand the law, and, in a number of cases already, to help workers get the leave that they were entitled to.
  • Another unprecedented benefit for workers was provided in the CARES Act less than two weeks ago. That law, as you know, includes a $600-a-week plus-up to unemployment benefits that are provided by the states. We have millions of unemployed Americans who are making a sacrifice for our national wellbeing.  These bonus payments are unprecedented. The government has never provided a plus-up unemployment payment like this. These payments are intended to make those workers whole, as near we can. This temporary benefit is available not just to employees, but also to the self-employed and gig-economy workers. Before the President signed the CARES Act, gig workers, independent contractors were not available for unemployment compensation. Today, they are.
  • At the Department, our team has worked day and night to enable states to make this benefit available. I’m pleased that a number of states are now making those $600 additional weekly payments. More states will follow in the coming days. How long it takes will vary by states. 
  • We have already dispersed half a billion dollars to states to help them with their systems and making these payments. We have another half a billion dollars that we’re ready to release.
  • For workers who don’t get this benefit when it’s first due them, states will be able to catch them up later when their computer systems are able to make these payments.
  • We’re also mindful that many Americans remain in the workplace, including on the frontlines in our hospitals, as well as our emergency responders.
  • My Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has been providing guidance to employers and employees on coronavirus since the early days of this health emergency. We are fielding and responding to calls from workers worried about their health, and sometimes from workers who believe they’ve been illegally disciplined by their employer for expressing health concerns. We will not tolerate retaliation.  OSHA will continue to work with workers and employers to keep workplaces safe, using all the tools available to us, including enforcement if needed.
  • I want to finish by commenting on the Paycheck Protection Program run by the Small Business Administration. This is loans to small businesses to enable them to meet certain costs, including utilities, rent, and, most important from my perspective, payroll.
  • Here’s why that program is so important, from my perspective: We’re seeing unemployment filings right now of a like that we’ve never seen before. These numbers aren’t the result of an underlying weakness to our economy. Our economy has been vibrant — incredibly strong just weeks ago. If as we’ve heard again today, if we are disciplined now and adhere carefully to the guidance being provided by health authorities, we’ll get that economy back.
  • The President spoke at the State of the Union of the blue-collar boom we are experiencing. We want to lay the groundwork now for a blue-collar bounce back. We’ll get there in part by helping companies hold onto their workers, which is what the Paycheck Protection Program does. 
  • We will continue — at the Department and, I know, here at the White House — to be laser focused on American workers and jobs until this is done.

A second question and answer session followed the remarks.  

Full remarks and additional topics covered in the answer and question portion of the briefing can be found here: April 9 Briefing

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