White House Coronavirus Task Force Briefing

President Donald Trump

  • Today is Good Friday.  This Sunday, millions of Christians celebrate Easter and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. At this holy time, we pray that God will heal the sick and comfort the heartbroken and bless our heroes. 
  • As American families look forward to Easter, we’re reminded that our story ends not in despair, but in triumph and renewal. 
  • I’d like to provide Americans an update on our ongoing efforts in the war against the invisible enemy. Before I do that, I’ll have a couple of items. 
    • The United States, in discussions last night with Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Russia, and dealing with OPEC nations, we are trying to get Mexico, as the expression goes, “over the barrel.”  Mexico is committing to do 100,000 fewer barrels.
    • The President and I spoke last night. We have a great relationship, great friendship. They’re helping us very much at the border. They have 27,000 Mexican soldiers on our border right now, stopping people from coming into our country as our wall goes up. We’re up to about 168 miles of wall.
    • In speaking with the President, they have a limit. The OPEC nations have agreed to a different limit: a reduction of about 23 percent. What I thought I would do — and I don’t know that it’s going to be accepted— the United States will help Mexico along and they’ll reimburse us sometime at a later date when they’re prepared to do so.
    • As you know, they’re trying to get rid of the glut of oil.  There’s a tremendous glut of oil. We don’t want anything to hurt our incredible industry. We’re actually the largest producer in the world now, so we don’t want anything to hurt those great jobs in Texas and North Dakota, Oklahoma, and everywhere. We have a tremendous energy business. We want to keep those jobs.
  • Our experts are monitoring the data from every part of our country. In the midst of grief and pain, we’re seeing clear signs that our aggressive strategy is saving countless lives. Tremendous progress is being made. 
  • The numbers of beds being used are substantially reduced. That’s usually the sign that it’s heading in the downward curve. 
  • Nobody knows what the number is, but we had a number of 100,000 lives. As many as that is, it’s impossible to even think of it, and that was the low end with a tremendous amount of work. I think we’ll be substantially under that number.
  • Hard to believe that if you had 60,000 — you could never be happy, but that’s a lot fewer than we were originally told and thinking of 100,000 and 220,000 lives on the minimum side, up to 2.2 million lives if we didn’t do anything. It showed a just tremendous resolve by the people of this country.
  • We’ll see what it ends up being, but it looks like we’re headed to a number substantially below the 100,000. That would be the low mark. I hope that bears out.
  • The situation in Detroit and New Orleans appears to be stabilizing. Detroit has really started to go up, and now it is stabilizing. New Orleans is really stabilized. We built them a big hospital of 1,000 beds and now we’re in the midst of doing another 1,000. I don’t think they’re going to be using very many of them, and that’s a good thing.
  • Louisiana and the state of Michigan is doing, really, much better than we thought.
  • In Washington State, we’ve made enough progress that the Governor is now able to return an Army field hospital, so we’re going to take that hospital. If we need it, we can move it to a different location.
  • In New York, we’re seeing hospital admissions declining very substantially.
  • Nationwide, the number of new cases per day is flattening substantially, suggesting that we are near the peak and our comprehensive strategy is working.
  • Over time, our guidelines to slow the spread are decreasing the rate of new cases very substantially and will result in fewer hospital admissions. We’re seeing that; it’s incredible. I think, with no exceptions, it’s looking like it’s lower. That’s because of the people doing what they had to do. Great people. And working with elected representatives and — and the doctors, the nurses, and everybody — I mean, just everybody. Everybody has been so amazing.
  • I was told this morning, “Please mention all of those people working in the grocery stores.” It’s true. The checkouts and the clerks and a number of those people have become infected. We want to thank them and a shout-out to them.
  • With the tireless devotion of American doctors and nurses and all of the medical people, we’ve kept our fatality rate very, very low compared to other countries. 
  • My Administration is closely monitoring the data on the virus’s impact on our cherished African American communities because they’ve been hit hard. The Surgeon General will be sharing more of that information right after we’re finished here. He’ll be coming up and saying exactly what’s happening because it’s very troublesome.
  • I’d also like to provide clarity on the important point for many Americans on elective surgeries. While we’ve asked hospitals to cancel surgeries and procedures that do not take place at this time, just not to do them now — the choice to delay any treatment still remains between the patient and their doctor. We’re not advising Americans to postpone medical treatment that the doctor believes should occur now. 
  • Yesterday, I directed Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to expedite aid to American farmers.  Secretary Perdue will be using all of the tools at his disposal to develop a program — and very quickly — of at least $16 billion to provide relief for farmers, ranchers, and producers impacted by the coronavirus.
  • In this time of crisis, we must keep our supply chains moving from the beginning to end. We’re committed to supporting the amazing men and women who produce supply. I expect Secretary Perdue to use all of the funds and authorities at his disposal to make sure that our food supply is stable and safe, and our great farmers are prosperous and continue to be prosperous.
  • We’re working very hard to make sure our food supply chain is sound and plentiful, but we all know that that begins with our farmers, cattlemen, ranchers, and producers. We’re going to be working with the small farmers, the big farmers, the cattlemen, the ranchers — all of the producers.   We’re going to take care of them. We’re working with them right now. We have a lot of money that was put there through our use of tariffs and other means, and we’re going to help out our farmers.
  • The FDA has issued 47 emergency use authorizations for advancements and testing new ventilator designs, innovations, and personal protective equipment, and experimental medicines. Dr. Hahn is going to talk about that. We’ve cut through the red tape to give doctors and patients unprecedented freedom to make their own healthcare decisions, granting access to potential therapies and drugs.
  • Since Monday, we’ve deployed two major shipments of hydroxychloroquine from our National Stockpile. It’s going to various cities.
  • We are also disposing and getting, as quickly as we can, portions of it to the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense. The Department of Defense is sending us 10 million N95 masks that they had. We’re in great shape in every way. We’re in great shape with ventilators. We’re in great shape with protective clothing. We have additional planeloads coming in.
  • We’re not getting any calls from Governors at this moment. We’re getting very few calls from Governors or anybody else needing anything. They’re in great shape for this surge that’s coming in certain areas in particular, and that’s a good job. You’ve done a great job on that, Mike.  Really, a great job. I appreciate it. The whole country appreciates it.
  • More than 2 million coronavirus tests have now been completed, and we’re conducting approximately 100,000 more every day. We’re also working to bring blood-based serology tests to the market as quickly as possible so that Americans can determine whether or not they have already had the virus and potentially have immunity.
  • They have immunity if they’ve had the virus. A lot of them don’t even know if they’ve had it.  Sometimes it’s brutal. 
  • The NIH, CDC, and FDA are currently validating these antibody tests to ensure that they are accurate, and they’re doing that at breakneck speed.  
  • When validated, we’re confident that the production will scale up to tens of millions of tests very quickly. We’re leading the world now in testing, by far, and we’re going to keep it that way. Other countries are coming to us, and they’re wanting to know about our tests, and can they buy the tests, and can they do whatever they have to do to get the tests. Very soon, we’ll be in a position to make that possible because it’s important for them to have it.
  • We’re going to have an announcement on the World Health Organization sometime next week. As you know, we give them approximately $500 million a year, and we’re going to be talking about that subject next week. We’ll have a lot to say about it. 
  • Every American should be proud of what our country has achieved in just a short period of time. The U.S. military has deployed thousands of personnel to build 23 temporary hospitals with more than 16,000 beds. We have the potential to build many more if we needed them. I don’t think we’re going to need them, which is great news.
  • We built those hospitals in 12 states and the District of Columbia using the Defense Production Act. We used it like a hammer. A lot of the media said: Oh, we weren’t using it.  We used it like a hammer to a point where all we had to do was say the words and everybody gave us max. They really have done a good job, with few exceptions.
  • We’ve harnessed the full power of American industry to produce ventilators and other essential supplies.  Right now, we’re making thousands of ventilators, many of which we won’t need, but we’ll use them in our stockpile. We’ll also help build up the stockpiles, which they should have had in the states. We’re working with Governors and also help other countries that are calling us for help. We’re going to be helping — at a not-too-distant point, we’re going to be helping quite a few of the countries
  • We’ve launched Project Airbridge to deliver nearly 300 million pieces of personal protective equipment from and around the globe. We’re also shipping out 60 sterilization systems to 10 different cities that can each sterilize up to 80,000 masks each day, and I’m even hearing it can go up to 120,000 masks a day — certain equipment with certain additions. A company in Ohio that makes it. It’s a great company. 
  • I asked that question: “How come we have to buy so many masks? Why can’t we sterilize the masks that are being used?” The answer was, “You can.”  In this case, they say, up to 20 times.  We can take certain types of masks — the N95s in particular — we can sterilize them, make them very clean, up to 20 times. That’s a great thing.
  • In addition, we passed the largest emergency economic relief package in American history to save the U.S. economy and protect the American worker. As you know, this past week, which was four active days on the stock market — Good Friday today is not included; the markets are closed. 
  • In four days, we had the biggest stock market increase that we’ve had in 50 years. That tells you that there’s a pent-up demand. That tells you they want to get back. There’s something good going to happen. I really believe that. There’s something very good going to happen. We have to get back.
  • In this horrible period, this horrible, dark period where this monster came and worked its horrible, horrible spell over the world — 184 countries as of this morning. 
  • We’ve done well, and I guess the market thinks we’ve done well, because we hit the biggest stock market increase without one day. We’re talking four days instead of five — that we’ve had in 50 years. Think of that. More than 50 years, actually.
  • The American people have launched the greatest mobilization of our society since World War Two, deploying every scientific, governmental, medical, and military resource to defeat the virus.

White House Coronavirus Task Force Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx

  • Thank you, Mr. President, for outlining how well we are doing in a series of metro areas. What also has been encouraging, for those of you who are watching epidemic curves every day— watching them in log phase, because that’s how epidemiologists like to look at their curves — you can see for the first time that, in the United States, we’re starting to level on the logarithmic phase, like Italy did about a week ago. This gives us great heart on that — not only in specific places, but we’re starting to see that change.
  • Obviously, a lot of that is driven by the improvement in New York City. For a long time, they were over 50 percent of our cases and 50 percent of our new cases. That has dramatically changed because of the impact of what the citizens of New York and New Jersey and across Connecticut, and now Rhode Island, are doing to really change the course of this pandemic and really change the trajectory of new cases.
  • We’re seeing that what many states and metro areas experienced as twofold and fourfold — fourfold increases that went to twofold — that now those are going to eight days between the doubling rate.  Watching this every day gives us hope across these metro areas, from New York and New Jersey and all through Denver, and of course, through New Orleans.
  • We still see cases occurring in the Boston area and in Chicago, but their rate of increase seems to be stabilizing. We really want to call out the work of the Mayors of Baltimore and the District and Philadelphia who have really brought all of their health experts together and, working with their communities, are starting to really change the curves in those areas.
  • What we’re seeing is we’re united in social distancing, and that’s been very encouraging to all of us. It should be encouraging to the healthcare providers that are on the frontline, many of which are serving our Americans with such dignity and respect and ensuring that everybody gets optimal care.
  • Our mortality in the United States is significantly less than many of the other countries when you correct them for our population. That is really solely the work of our frontline healthcare providers.
  • The theme today is that we are incredibly proud of our public health leaders at the city level, at the state level, at the federal level who are working together to really change the course of this pandemic, working with their citizens in their communities to make these changes, and the American public who has really taken all of this to heart and stayed home.
  • Last week, we really asked a lot of people in the Washington and Baltimore area to consolidate, not go out frequently to grocery stores or pharmacies. You can really see that that’s having a huge impact.
  • We’re seeing encouraging signs, but as encouraging as they are, we have not reached the peak. Every day, we need to continue to do what we did yesterday and the week before and the week before that, because that’s what, in the end, is going to take us up across the peak and down the other side.
  • We continue to really applaud the work of California and Washington State and Oregon. We’re learning from all three of those states, from their public health officials, about how they were able to keep the virus from ever becoming logarithmic. I think that’s an important lesson for all of us on how they did that, what the timing was, in case we ever have to face this issue in the future.

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

  • Keeping on the theme that Dr. Birx had mentioned, this is the end of the week — that famous week that we spoke about last weekend — in which what actually was predicted to happen, happened. We’re starting to see the leveling off and the coming down that Dr. Birx had mentioned.
  • It’s important to remember that this is not the time to feel that since we have made such important advance in the sense of success of the mitigation, that we need to be pulling back at all. 
  • I was actually hearkened by the fact that we’ve been talking about the New York, New Jersey, New Orleans, and other areas where they have really big spikes, but there’s other parts of the country, in the middle parts of the country, where they’re concerned to make sure they don’t get those spikes.
  • Salute the Governors of states throughout the entire United States. I’ve had calls over the last several days from several of the Governors: Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, Utah, Arkansas and Wyoming who are really committed to make sure that they don’t get into the situation where they’re going to have spikes in their state. They’re doing the kinds of things that they don’t get recognized, because people don’t talk about them much.
  • We have a big country.  We have 50 states. It’s not only the big cities.  If we’re going to pull out of this, we’re going to pull out of it in the big cities and we’re going to pull out in those areas that aren’t as densely populated. They’re doing an extraordinary job. 
  • Reminder there are a lot of candidate interventions that are going into clinical trials. For those of you who are interested in it, I recommend you go to ClinicalTrials.gov, and you’ll see the design of a clinical trial. You’ll see that many of them are the randomized control trials that are the really gold standard of how you find out whether something really is safe and effective.  Sometime in the summer, we’ll start to see which are working, which are not. 

FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn 

  • The White House Task Force has been very focused on increasing the supply of personal protective equipment for our great providers.  I was one of those providers a few months ago and I can tell you nothing is more important than making sure they have what they need.
  • In order to increase the supply of N95 masks, FDA has worked with industry and has now authorized two companies who will supply machines to sterilize N95 masks.
  • Admiral Polowczyk and FEMA are purchasing 60 sterilization machines, as mentioned by the President. They will be positioned around the country to increase the amount of supply of N95 masks. Each machine will be able to sterilize 80,000 \\ N95 masks per day.  We hope to actually increase that further.
  • The Vice President and the White House Task Force challenged us yesterday, and we responded as a team.  FDA issued revised guidance regarding the laundering of gowns because gowns are another issue, in terms of supply, that we’re looking forward on. It’s on our website now at FDA. 
  • We’ve heard concerns that maybe hospitals might not want to do that because of regulations. CMS Administrator Verma and I have worked on this — certified providers and suppliers who follow FDA guidance, as posted on the website, will be compliant with Medicare and Medicaid requirements.
  • Last week FDA provided guidance to manufacturers on manufacturing specifications for cloth gowns. This is another attempt to increase the number of gowns.  Typically, it’s plastic or other types of materials. This guidance, if followed, can be used by manufacturers to actually make these gowns and no further regulatory red tape will be necessary. 

Surgeon General Jerome Adams

  • I started off the week talking about the challenges that lie ahead, and I want to finish the week just by reiterating what you’ve heard. 
  • Mitigation works. It definitively and quantitatively is working. 
  • Thank you, America, for your efforts to help flatten the curve and to save lives.
  • Yesterday, I met with 2,000 Hispanic leaders from their communities. Today, the Vice President led a phone call that I was on with hundreds of African American leaders, including the Reverend Jesse Jackson, Derrick Johnson of the NAACP, National Medical Association and the Black Nurses Association, to talk about some of the alarming trends we’re observing regarding the impact of COVID-19 on communities of color.
  • You’ve heard the stats in New York City: Hispanics represent the majority of deaths. In Milwaukee County, blacks are 25 percent of the population but almost 50 percent of the cases and 75 percent of the deaths. What’s going on? It’s alarming but it’s not surprising that people of color have a greater burden of chronic health conditions.
  • African Americans and Native Americans develop high blood pressure at much younger ages, and it’s less likely to be under control, and does greater harm to their organs. 
  • Puerto Ricans have higher rates of asthma and black boys are three times as likely to die of asthma as their white counterparts. 
  • I’ve been carrying around an inhaler in my pocket for 40 years out of fear of having a fatal asthma attack. I hope that showing you this inhaler shows little kids with asthma all across the country that they can grow up to be Surgeon General one day. I also share it so that everyone knows it doesn’t matter if you look fit, if you look young. You are still at risk for getting and spreading and dying from coronavirus.
  • The chronic burden of medical ills is likely to make people of color especially less resilient to the ravages of COVID-19. 
  • Social distancing and teleworking are critical, and you’ve heard Dr. Birx and Dr. Fauci talk about how they prevent the spread of coronavirus. 
  • Yet only one in five African Americans and one in six Hispanics has a job that lets them work from home. People of color are more likely to live in densely packed areas and in multi-generational housing, situations which create higher risk for spread of a highly contagious disease like COVID-19.
  • We tell people to wash their hands, but as studies showed, 30 percent of the homes on Navajo Nation don’t have running water. So how are they going to do that?
  • People of color experience both more likely exposure to COVID-19 and increased complications from it.  Let me be crystal clear: We do not think people of color are biologically or genetically predisposed to get COVID-19. There is nothing inherently wrong with you. They are socially predisposed to coronavirus exposure and to have a higher incidence of the very diseases that puts you at risk for severe complications of coronavirus.
  • This history — and I want you to hear me say this — it does not have to be our nation’s future. We’re taking steps now, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, to reach, protect, and strengthen all communities impacted by this disease, and especially our communities of color.
  • More details will be forthcoming. We are actively working, as the Vice President and the CDC director laid out today, on data collection; targeted outreach to communities of color; and increasing financial employment, education, housing, social and health supports, so that everybody has an equal chance to be healthy.
  • While your state and local health departments and those of us in public service are working day and night to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and to protect you regardless of your color, your creed, or your geography, I need you to know: You are not helpless. It’s even more important that, in communities of color, we adhere to the task force guidelines to slow the spread.
  • Stay at home, if possible. If you must go out, maintain six feet of distance between you and everyone else, and wear a mask if you’re going to be within six feet of others. 
  • Wash your hands more often than you ever dreamed possible. Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and drugs.  Call your friends and family.  Check in on your mother; she wants to hear from you right now. We need you to do this, if not for yourself, then for your abuela.  Do it for your granddaddy. Do it for your Big Mama. Do it for your Pop-Pop. We need you to understand especially in communities of color, we need you to step up and help stop the spread so that we can protect those who are most vulnerable.
  • This epidemic is a tragedy, but it will be all the more tragic if we fail to recognize and address the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 and an array of other diseases and risk factors on communities of color. 
  • The Task Force and this Administration are determined not to let that happen. The President, the Vice President have said we will not let that happen.
  • We can’t fix these issues overnight, but I promise you we will work with your communities to quickly and meaningfully move the needle in the right direction.  Nothing less than the fate of our families and friends, my family and friends depends on it.

Vice President Mike Pence

  • Today, the White House Coronavirus Task Force met and heard from the President the gratitude then he and I and I know all the American people feel for all the dedicated workers at FEMA, HHS, U.S. Public Health Service, FDA, and all those that are literally working on your behalf around the clock to partner with states, to partner with local health officials.  Allow me to add my — my thanks and admiration to all of the entire team here at the federal level.
  • On this Good Friday, we remember those who’ve lost their lives to the coronavirus. We remember their families, our dedicated healthcare workers, and our first responders. We do well, on this special day for Christians across this country, to remember them in our prayers.
  • It’s also a good day to remember that Good Friday is always followed by Easter Sunday. There is hope.  There is hope in this moment that, thanks to what the American people are doing every day adhering to the President’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America. Thanks to the fact that Americans are listening to state and local leaders and putting the health of their family members and neighbors first. We’re getting there, America.  We’re making progress. It’s imperative that we all continue to implement all of the guidance in the “30 Days to Slow the Spread.”
  • As the Surgeon General just attested, we engaged more than 400 leaders in the African American community today. Allow me to express my appreciation for their leadership and their efforts in communicating to African Americans and other minority populations some of the unique challenges that those communities face in the midst of this epidemic.
  • The CDC, as the Surgeon General said, is working on not only studying the issue, but very rapidly issuing new guidance.  We’ll be communicating that new guidance to all of those great leaders.
  • More than 2.1 million tests have been performed and we continue to work very, very closely with FDA and suppliers around the country to expand the ability of testing.  You just heard Dr. Hahn reflect on the fact that very soon we will have an antibody test that Americans will be able to take to determine whether they ever had the coronavirus.
  • Spoke today to the Governor of Colorado, Jared Polis and Senator Cory Gardner about an outbreak at a particular meatpacking facility in the Colorado area.  Our team is working with the Governor and Senator to ensure that we flow testing resources.  At this point, there are some 14 people hospitalized, maybe 200 to 300 of the workforce have been impacted.  Emphasize that all the people that are working in food supply — from farmers, to meatpackers, to distributors, to truckers, to grocers — continue to have our gratitude, as President Trump said just a few moments ago.
  • On supplies: More than 5 billion have been obligated to the states, 29,600 National Guard have been activated, and, at the President’s direction, more than 4,700 active duty medical military personnel have been deployed in nine states, focusing on the areas of the most significant epidemic.
  • Project Airbridge, 26 flights have been completed.  Four flights are scheduled to arrive today, bringing a quarter million gowns, 25 million pairs of gloves.  Fifty-four more flights are scheduled, literally bringing in supplies from around the world.
  • As we go into this very special weekend, into Easter services, I speak on behalf of the President when I say how grateful we are to all of the churches that have been there — and their ministries have been working under great difficulty — to continue to provide for the needs of your members.  There have been food drives, there have been phone calls, and ministry has continued.  We are grateful for the role, on this Holy Week, that our churches, our synagogues, and all of our houses of worship have played.
  • On their behalf, allow me to remind you that even if you’re not in the pew this Easter Sunday, if you are able, it’s still a good idea to give, because those ministries continue to go forward.  We encourage you to continue to support them.
  • We also want to say very respectfully to all of the church communities around this country and all the places of worship to continue to heed the guidelines issued in the President’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America.  We know it’s difficult in this time of year, particularly, Mr. President, to avoid gatherings of more than 10.  We’re grateful that so many churches, synagogues, and places of worship have done just that, and we urge you to continue to do it.
  • To my Christian brothers and sisters across the country, let me encourage you with the words we should all remember that Jesus said, “Wherever two or more are gathered, there He is also.”  You can worship, you can celebrate Easter, and know that you’ll be blessed in so doing.  You’ll be serving the nation.

Given the length of today’s briefing and the lengthy question and answer session, I will forego summarizing the Q&A section of the briefing.  

Full remarks and the answer and question portion of the briefing can be found here: April 10 Briefing

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