White House Coronavirus Task Force Briefing

President Donald Trump

  • Start by saying that our love and prayers of every American continue to be with our fellow citizens who have lost a cherished friend or a family member to the virus.
  • Amidst our grief, we’re making tremendous strides against this invisible enemy.
  • Thanks to our aggressive campaign against the virus and the extraordinary talent of our medical professionals, our mortality rate remains roughly half of that of many other countries and one of the lowest of any country in the world.
  • Since we announced our “Guidelines on Opening Up America,” twenty states representing 40 percent of the U.S. population have announced that they are making plans and preparations to safely restart their economies in the very near future.
  • A short time ago, the Senate passed the Paycheck Protection Program and Healthcare Enhancement Act, with additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, hospitals, and testing. A lot of money for all of them, especially for our workers and our small businesses.
  • My Administration has worked aggressively with Congress to negotiate this critical $482 billion funding package. We reached a deal that includes $382 billion in crucial small-business support to keep workers on the payroll; $75 billion to aid hospitals, which really need the aid, and $25 billion to support coronavirus testing efforts.
  • I urge the House to pass the bill, and they’re going to be voting on it very soon.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin

  • President, thank you for all your work with us to get this passed.
  • Thank Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer and the entire Senate for passing this.
  • Thank Kevin McCarthy and Nancy Pelosi, who have been working with us around the clock as well, and our Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, who was also very instrumental in this.
  • We’ve had tremendous support for the PPP. This gives us another $310 billion for the PPP. We look forward to the House passing this tomorrow and being up and running quickly after that.
  • This also gives us $50 billion for disaster loans, EIDL loans which will allow SBA to make $300 billion in disaster loans for small businesses.
  • We have over a million companies that have received this funding who have less than 10 workers. There is very broad participation.
  • There have been some big businesses that have taken these loans. I was pleased to see that Shake Shack returned the money. We will be putting out some FAQs. There is a certification that people are making.
  • The intent of this money was not for big public companies that have access to capital.

President Donald Trump

  • And not for Harvard, you might say, Steve.
  • I’m going to request they return that money.
  • Harvard is going to pay back the money. They shouldn’t be taking it. There is a number of them. I’m not going to mention any other names. When I saw Harvard, with one of the largest endowments anywhere in the country, maybe in the world, they’re going to pay back that money.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin

  • Because certain people on the PPP may have not been clear in understanding the certification, so we will give people the benefit of the doubt.
  • We’re going to put an FAQ out, explain the certification. If you pay back the loan right away, you won’t have liability to the SBA and to Treasury.
  • There are severe consequences for people who don’t attest properly to this certification.
  • We want to make sure this money is available to small businesses that need it, people who have invested their entire life savings. We appreciate what’s going on, and they’re hiring people back.
  • We’re working with the banks. We’re extremely pleased that the small banks did great. Twenty percent of the loans were made by banks of a billion and less; sixty percent by 20 billion and less. The big banks too. We want everybody to participate. There’s now a lot of money back in the program, and we look forward to all these small businesses getting access to funds.
  • We’re pleased with the success of this program and how quickly this got up operationally. We’ve put out more money in these SBA loans than in the last 10 years of SBA. I want to thank all the banks that have worked really hard.
  • We knew that when we passed this originally, if there was full take-out, we wouldn’t have enough money. That’s why we’ve worked with Congress for more money. We’ve already impacted about 30 million workers. There’ll be a lot more. We look forward to this having a big impact on the economy.
  • There were actually much more onerous restrictions in the SBA program. There were people who had misdemeanors that weren’t allowed to access the program. It was much longer than five years.
  • Because of the criminal reform legislation that was passed and the work that’s been done in the White House by Jared and others, we specifically designed the program, and the five years was significantly shorter than what had been done before.
  • There were a lot of people that wouldn’t have access previously, and we changed those regulations.
  • As the President said, we would look forward to phase four; it would be infrastructure. The President has been talking about infrastructure since the campaign: roads, bridges, broadband to rural America is very important. We’ve talked about incentives for restaurants, sports, entertainment, because these businesses have been impacted. The President has talked multiple times about a payroll tax cut. We’ve heard from the governors and the fiscal issues of the states.
  • I think phase four will most likely be what we need. I think based upon what we’re seeing and the reopening of the economy and the amount of money we’re putting in, and working with the Federal Reserve, I think you’re going to see a lot of liquidity.
  • We look forward to business rebounding, especially later this summer.
  • We expect this is the last tranche for PPP, but obviously we can always reconsider that. But this is a lot of money going out.
  • Last week, on Treasury.gov there is full transparency on the money that had been sent out on the PPP across states, showing all the big lenders, how it was distributed. No one lender did more than 4 percent.
  • The President and I very much believe in full transparency. We’re spending a lot of money, and we want to make sure that it’s done effectively and fairly.

President Donald Trump

  • The noble fight against the invisible enemy has inflicted a steep toll on the American workforce. 
  • As we all know, millions of Americans sacrificed their jobs in order to battle the virus and save the lives of our fellow citizens.
  • We have a solemn duty to ensure these unemployed Americans regain their jobs and their livelihoods.
  • In order to protect American workers, I will be issuing a temporary suspension of immigration into the United States. By pausing immigration, we’ll help put unemployed Americans first in line for jobs as America reopens. It would be wrong and unjust for Americans laid off by the virus to be replaced with new immigrant labor flown in from abroad. We must first take care of the American worker.
  • This pause will be in effect for 60 days, after which the need for any extension or modification will be evaluated by myself and a group of people, based on economic conditions at the time. This order will only apply to individuals seeking a permanent residency. In other words, those receiving green cards. It will not apply to those entering on a temporary basis.
  • We’ll examine what additional immigration-related measures should be put in place to protect U.S. workers. We want to protect our U.S. workers. As we move forward, we will become more and more protective of them.
  • This pause on new immigration will also help to conserve vital medical resources for American citizens. A short break from new immigration, depending on the time we’re talking about, will protect the solvency of our healthcare system and provide relief to jobless Americans.
  • The FDA has now authorized more than 50 diagnostic tests, including, as of late last night, the first test that a patient can take home. You can take it at home and it’s highly accurate. LabCorp intends to make the home collection kits available to consumers in most states with a doctor’s order in the coming weeks.
  • We also have four different antibody tests already authorized. Tests will help identify individuals who can donate convalescent plasma, thus providing potentially lifesaving antibodies to American patients.
  • We continue to gain ground in the war against the unseen enemy and I see light at the end of the tunnel. I actually see a lot of light at the end of the tunnel. We’re starting a very, very powerful, important process. You see that people are getting very anxious. They want to get going. They want to get back to their jobs. They want to make money. They want to take care of their families. So, the light is getting brighter and brighter every day.

White House Coronavirus Task Force Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx

  • Looking at all of the information across the United States, we do see improvement across all the large metros. I know you know that we’ve been talking about the New York metro area, New York City, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Long Island. We do start to see improvement there, and we see improvement, even now, in Rhode Island and Connecticut.
  • The Detroit metro is doing quite well with significant declines now. New Orleans is nearly back to their baseline of where they started for new infections. We also are seeing improvements in Chicago and Boston. They appear now to be flattening.
  • Philadelphia and Houston, Atlanta, Nashville, Baltimore, Indianapolis, and St. Louis also appear to be flattening. The D.C. metro area, we don’t see a decline yet, so hopefully all of you are still social distancing and doing everything that you can.
  • Reminder about two points: When we put out the guidelines for opening up America again, it was very clear to use data and to really work together to mitigate against any resurgence and also, critically, to protect the vulnerable.
  • What we’re seeing across rural America and in some of the smaller population states is we’re still seeing outbreaks in long-term care facilities. We asked everyone in phase one to make sure that they continued their social distancing in public, to ensure that the vulnerable with comorbidities and other conditions and among the elderly were staying at home and making sure we’re still providing service to them.
  • We made it very clear that individual Americans need to continue all of their hygiene pieces: ensuring social distancing, washing hands, not touching their face, and making sure that they’re not bringing the virus home to vulnerable individuals within the household. Those were to continue through all three phases.
  • We really want to call people’s attention again to the guidelines. We are continuing to see outbreaks in nursing homes and in confined spaces. And I think, as Americans, we want to stop that. We have the ability to do that by really paying attention to the guidelines that were to be in all three phases.
  • I’m calling on the states again to note that an informed community, a knowledgeable community is a protected community. Make sure all of your states have your cases visible to the communities so they can make decisions and understand where the virus is in their community and understand how to tackle it with their state and local governments. This will be absolutely critical.
  • There’s surveillance that we called for to find asymptomatics before people get sick. As an early warning signal, we asked for those to be in the federal clinics in our inner city, more vulnerable areas, among indigenous populations, and of course, in our long-term care facilities and prisons, we really want to support state and local governments to move forward on these critical monitoring to protect individuals that may be in the most critically vulnerable states.
  • We will continue to see mortality and deaths among our American citizens, particularly in the cities, as they begin to move past peak because deaths will lag. We really need to continue to unite and support our healthcare providers who are still on the frontlines. They have been on the frontlines now for weeks and weeks and weeks.
  • To our healthcare providers, to our respiratory therapists, and to everyone in the labs: Thank you for the work that you’re doing to protect Americans and give us one of the lowest mortality rates in the entire world.

FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn

  • Echo Dr. Birx. A few short months ago, I was one of those doctors on the frontlines. I know how terrific they’re working and how well they’re doing for the American people, and a shout-out to them for just the wonderful work they do every day.
  • President Trump asked the FDA to remove all unnecessary barriers that were in place to help with the development of both diagnostics and therapeutics, and we have done that.
  • I’m here to give you an update on FDA’s efforts around serologic tests, which, as you know, are antibody tests which detect, in the blood, the natural immunity that someone might develop in response to COVID-19.
  • These aren’t diagnostic tests, but these are tests that actually detect the antibody, so an indication that one has had the infection and has responded. It’s important for everyone to understand that the timing of the response of the antibody to the infection isn’t completely known, but we know that it takes some time to actually develop that.
  • There are two types of antibody responses that can be detected. The antibody tests are just one piece of the larger response that you’ve heard in the America returning to work plan that the President has, with the task force, has developed.
  • This pandemic is truly unprecedented in nature, and you’ll see reports around the world of different antibody tests that have been used. I think that’s a reflection of the fact that we’re just learning and beginning to understand what that response looks like. Many of these tests have different characteristics that allow to detect at different points in the infection.
  • One issue that we are laser focused on at FDA is an effort to provide laboratories and healthcare providers the early access to tests.
  • We issued a policy earlier in March that allowed test developers the opportunity to quickly get their test to market and address the needs of the nation as posed by the epidemic.
  • In March, we provided this regulatory flexibility to manufacturers, and here’s what we required of them: The manufacturers had to validate their tests; we call it self-validation, similar to what many test developers in the world have done. They had to notify FDA that they had performed that validation. Then they had to label their products appropriately in the package insert with information about the validation, as well as the fact that it’s not a diagnostic test, that it’s an antibody test.
  • The bottom line here is that FDA still expects manufacturers and test developers to validate their antibody tests, even under this revised policy.
  • Now, we’ve done a couple of things to actually help end users, to help laboratories, providers, states, in terms of their use of these antibody tests. One is that we’re working with CDC and NCI to actually validate some of the more than 90 manufacturers who have notified us that they brought their test to market to do an independent validation. We expect to hear more information this week about that, and we will provide that information in a transparent manner.
  • We also want to go after anyone who is saying that that test has been authorized or has been approved by the FDA but actually hasn’t. We’ve authorized for applications for antibody tests, and 140 test developers are pursuing applications for us as we speak. It’s not okay for someone to say that a test has been authorized or approved by FDA when it hasn’t. We are pursuing them both in direct contact with the manufacturers, but also at the border.
  • We have increased these interdiction efforts, and we will continue to outreach with the manufacturers to make sure that we provide the most up-to-date information to the end users of these products. We will continue to make all of our efforts, both in the diagnostics and the therapeutics, to help America open up again.

Full remarks and topics covered in the answer and question portion of the briefing can be found here: April 21 Briefing

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