President Trump’s Remarks in White House Press Briefing on COVID-19

President Trump standing behind a podum during a press conference in the White House.

President Donald Trump

  • Start by providing information on our response to Tropical Storm Isaias. It’s a very interesting name. Last week, the storm hit Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, and I’ve issued emergency declarations to support a response in both of those areas.
  • This week, the storm passed just east of Florida. Got a little bit lucky. Didn’t hit Florida too hard. Working with the Governor, working with everybody. It did not hit directly as a lot of people thought it might.
  • It’s currently off the coast of South Carolina, heading northward to North Carolina. It’s expected to make landfall sometime this evening as a category 1 hurricane. Very serious. A lot of water. A lot of water coming from that storm. 
  • I’ve already issued emergency declarations for Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina. And FEMA’S personnel and they are great. They’re doing a job. They’re already on the ground in all areas. Every single area that we mentioned is covered.
  • Over the next several days, there’s expected to be heavy wind and rain in the coastal areas of North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey. We’re working with each of those states, and in particular, as it relates to FEMA, the military, law enforcement – all of the different groups that are involved. Storm surge and inland flooding are possible, and everyone needs to remain vigilant until it passes.
  • I encourage everyone to follow the guidelines of the state and local authorities. We’re working with them. I think the guidelines have been very accurate so far. So stay safe.
  • Next, let me provide an update on the path forward for our country as we continue our war to defeat the China virus. We’re beginning to see evidence of significant progress. Nationwide, the number of positive cases has declined by nearly 6 percent from the week before, and the positive test rate has also dropped from 8.7 to 8 percent over that same period of time, an encouraging sign that the virus is receding.
  • In hotspots across the South and West, we’ve seen slow improvements. From their recent weekly peaks, Arizona’s weekly case counts have dropped 37 percent. That’s a tremendous drop. The Governor and the State have done a fantastic job. Down 37 percent. Texas down 18.7 percent. I was there a couple of days ago. And Florida, 21.2 percent drop. That’s a tremendous job that they’re all doing.
  • We begin to contain the virus in these states, we must focus on new flare-ups in the states where the case numbers have risen, including Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Missouri. I think you’ll find that they’re soon going to be very much under control.
  • Meanwhile, 18 states continue to have very low case numbers and low positivity test rates. Under 5 percent: Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
  • Even in these states; however, where the virus is under control and at a very low number, Americans should continue to be vigilant, be careful, in order to prevent the new hotspots from opening up or any new hotspots from opening up in those states.
  • To that end, I urge all Americans to continue to socially distance; wash your hands, wear a mask when you cannot avoid crowded places; and to protect the elderly. It’s much different. Young children have very strong immune systems. We’ve learned how strong they are. But protect the elderly. The average age of those who succumb to the virus is 78 years old. That’s the average age.
  • It’s important for all Americans to recognize that a permanent lockdown is not a viable path toward producing the result that you want, or certainly not a viable path forward, and would ultimately inflict more harm than it would prevent.
  • We’re seeing in foreign countries around the world where cases are once again surging. You have many places where we thought they were under control and doing a great job, and they are doing a great job, but this is a very tough, invisible enemy, lockdowns do not prevent infection in the future. They just don’t. It comes back. Many times, it comes back. The purpose of a lockdown is to buy time to build capacity, especially as it respects to hospitals; learn more about the disease; and develop effective treatments, as we did in the United States. We’re doing very well with the vaccines and the therapeutics.
  • Countries where there have been very significant flare-ups over the last short period of time are Spain, Germany, France, Australia, Japan. And also, as you probably heard, in Hong Kong, they’ve had some very serious flare-ups. Japan has gone six-fold — they’ll get it under control.
  • In our current phase, we must focus on protecting those at highest risk while allowing younger and healthier Americans to resume work and school, with careful precautions. Ideally, we want to open those schools. We want to open them. 
  • We’re placing an emphasis on continuing to drive down the mortality rate with improved care, treatment, and medical interventions, building a bridge to the introduction of a vaccine. The vaccines are coming along incredibly well.
  • Provide an update on the actions of my administration and the work that we’ve done. We’re really taking an increased interest, and we’re seeing numbers that nobody can even believe, in terms of percentage increase. It’s telehealth for American patients. The percentage increase is being worked on right now, but it’s very, very significant; numbers that you would not even think possible.
  • This has been a priority from the beginning of my administration when we launched an initiative to allow veterans to connect remotely with their VA healthcare team. And it worked out really well. We have a 91 percent approval rating in the VA in terms of the job we’re doing. It’s the highest ever recorded.
  • Now telehealth is a critical part of our path forward in the VA, and it’s becoming a critical path, especially with our senior citizens. You don’t have to go to the doctor’s office; you don’t have to go to hospitals. 
  • When the invisible enemy struck our shores, I took immediate action to eliminate regulatory barriers to telehealth, making it easier for patients to consult with doctors from safety and convenience. And really, they have great safety and great convenience right from their homes.
  • I’m taking action to ensure telehealth is here to stay. Moments ago, in the Oval Office, I signed an executive order to make many of our regulatory reforms permanent. We’ve done some regulatory reforms that have had a tremendous impact on what we’re doing on medicine and medical and what we’re doing. They can do things that you wouldn’t believe, that even a year ago, two years ago would not have been doable.
  • We’re enshrining the right of American patients to meet with their medical providers in a way that is best for them and very, very convenient. And very talented people on the other side of the line, I have to tell you.
  • The order builds upon a series of actions we’ve all taken to make telehealth available to all. We ensured that Medicare covers telehealth visits at no additional cost. That’s no additional cost. Co-payments can be waived for telehealth services.
    We are working very hard also on prescription drug prices. I will tell you that the favored nations clause that I’ve signed into existence. Nobody thought anybody would ever do that has a massive impact on prescription drug prices, in addition to the three other elements of reduction of drugs, in particular prescription drugs. 
  • The favored nations clause is massive. For instance, if Germany buys a pill for 10 cents a pill, as an example the United States pays 2 dollars for the same pill, we get the same privilege, the same right as they do. We never had that before. We paid all of the expenses, all of the research and development. The numbers are astronomical. And as you probably noticed, big ads are taken against me by big pharma. Very big ads. Very massive buy. 
  • In the meantime, they’re calling. They want to know if they can make a deal. And I say to people, “The only reason these ads are being taken is because prices are coming down for you.” They understand that. I think our people understand that. 
  • In particular, when you look at the matching — you could call it “matching” or you could call it “favored nations” It’s a tremendous. I’m talking about 50, 60 percent, 70 percent. That doesn’t mean it goes to 10 cents, as an example, but theirs comes up and ours goes down. You have many, many countries where their numbers are so low. I mean, so low. By that, I mean, much lower than the United States.
  • Another thing I’m doing is if a certain country, like Canada buys for very much less than the United States has bought. How they allowed this to happen representatives of our country standing at these podiums or in the Oval Office how they allowed this to happen is just, to me, incredible. 
  • We’ve been working on this for a long time. I’ve been talking about it with Kayleigh for a long time, right? So now a governor like Ron DeSantis of Florida who is doing a great job — or our great Governor of Ohio or a great Governor of any state can call up and buy the drugs directly from Canada at sometimes 50 percent less. We’ll be buying from Canada.
  • What the drug companies are going to do maybe they’ll raise them, maybe they’ll lower them, or maybe they’ll just give up and sell them to us directly much cheaper. A lot of things are happening.
  • The rebate, we have people that are very wealthy that nobody ever heard of them. Nobody knows who they are. I guess, in some cases, they can be pharmacies; in some cases, they’re individuals. We’re doing a rebate, and the rebate goes to the people. It lowers the price of drugs.
  • We have a series of four things that we signed. You will see, over a fairly short period drug prices are going to be tumbling down at numbers that nobody would have ever believed possible.
  • We have in 51 years; the only time prices came down was during this Administration. It was last year. Fifty-one years it went up. But that was just a small decline. This is a massive decline. This is a decline that nobody can believe. I was called by Senators; I was called by congressmen: “Please don’t do this.” Big pharma doesn’t mean anything to me other than we want them to do a great job. We want them to get their vaccines. We want them to do what has to be done. 
  • I think you’re going to see drug price reductions over the next four or five or six months. It’ll probably take a little while to kick in that are going to be at numbers that you wouldn’t believe. In the meantime, they want to meet and see if they do something else. They don’t like favored nations clauses. I understand that.
  • We vastly expanded coverage, allowing Medicare to cover more than 135 new services through telehealth, by the way including physical therapy, emergency department visits, home visits, mental health counseling, substance abuse treatment, which is a very big priority. We brought the substance abuse at least prior to the China plague, or whatever you want to call it. We brought it down very substantially. Pediatric critical care and much more. 
  • Thanks to our actions, an estimated $2 billion of additional funding will support Medicare patients receiving telehealth services. A very, very big priority on telehealth. As part of the CARES Act, we secured $200 million to help healthcare providers and hospitals expand their telehealth. And they’re all doing it. They’re doing it gladly.
  • Prior to the epidemic or the pandemic whatever you want to say and how you want to refer to it, but prior to the pandemic, the telehealth was fine, but it wasn’t anything raging. And I guess one of the only good things that we’ve gotten out of this whole horrible situation is telehealth has been incredible. Again, the increases are, you know, many hundreds of times greater than it was before. Do you have a number? It’s like 2,000 percent or something like that. It’s an incredible increase. You’ll get the number. I think they have it now finally, and it’s really an incredible.
  • We worked with the leaders of major health insurance companies to ensure coverage for the telehealth visits related to coronavirus. We cut red tape to allow many services to be conducted by phone, rather than video, which is much simpler, providing a much easier option for many seniors in particular. Thirty-five percent of the Medicare beneficiaries who received telehealth services, or over 3.6 million seniors, did so over the phone. You’re talking about 3.6 million seniors. That’s something. 10.1 million Medicare beneficiaries have accessed care through telehealth since the beginning of the pandemic. You’re talking there 10.1 million people.
  • In April, over 43 percent of all Medicare primary care visits were done via telehealth and compared to less than 0.1 percent in February. Those are part of the numbers that I think.
  • Think of that: compared to less than 0.1 percent. That’s an incredible number. Over 43 percent of all Medicare primary care visits were done via telehealth compared to, so you went from 0.1 percent to 43 percent. That’s an incredible number.
  • The Executive Order I signed today will also expand healthcare access in rural America. We take care of rural America. It directs agencies to deploy strategic investments in our rural communications infrastructure. We’re working very hard with all of the people in government that are involved with the communications infrastructure so that the telehealth gets very quick and easy access. 
  • Additionally, revenue for rural providers vary significantly from month to month, making it difficult for many to stay in business. Many, many are having a very difficult time. To help fix this problem, my order will create a voluntary Medicare payment system that will give rural hospitals flexibility — really, great flexibility — and a more consistent income stream to better serve their patients.
  • Furthermore, I’m directing the Department of Agriculture and Department of Health and Human Services and the Federal Communications Commission. We were just with the heads of each one in the Oval Office, just before I came up to the podium to form a task force that will break down barriers to expanding rural healthcare. This order continues my administration’s focus on rural healthcare. 
  • We allocated nearly $165 million through the CARES Act to support nearly 1,800 small rural hospitals who have done an incredible job, as well as $11.5 million to expand technical assistance for rural and underserved areas. We allocated another $10 billion to 2,000 rural hospitals, and more than 2,400 rural health clinics. We waived burdensome licensing certification and registration requirements, which took tremendous amounts of time, and these are people that had great reputations and great track records for practitioners that serve on the frontlines in rural areas, allowing more medical personnel to serve their wonderful patients.
  • We’re also, in terms of PPE, ensuring that the state and local areas have the supplies they need. We’ve been supplying hospitals and cities and states, governors — helping governors at a number that nobody has ever heard of before. Fifteen thousand four hundred and forty nursing homes have received a second shipment of personal protective equipment. They’re very much stocked up; they’re in great shape. They all have the ventilators they need. They have, actually, more than they need. Their equipment medical equipment is in very, very good shape. They’re full.
  • My Administration has worked with the private sector to deliver over 100 million N95 respirators, 85 million gloves, and nearly 250 million face coverings nationwide. We continue to make the extraordinary progress that we’ve been talking about together on vaccines and treatments. 
  • Under Operation Warp Speed, which is very exciting last week, we distributed 2,979 cases of remdesivir, which is proving to be extremely powerful and good, enough to treat more than 19,000 patients. Had great results. This includes 500 cases for Florida, 500 for Texas, 300 for California, 200 for Ohio, and 150 for Arizona and Georgia. Those numbers will be going up rapidly as we move along.
  • Hospitals are reporting an adequate supply of steroids, such as dexamethasone, that are used successfully in late-stage illness. They’ve been very good. We’re also very encouraged about the prospects for plasma therapies, and that, we’re working on. And that’s a brilliant art. It’s really an art. We launched a national plasma drive last week. I was at the Red Cross building with the American Red Cross and 13 other healthcare organizations.
  • I urge everyone who has recovered from the virus to go to Coronavirus.gov and donate plasma today. We would really appreciate it. This really makes people better. We need that beautiful ingredient that you, that got better, seem to have in your veins. You have to go to Coronavirus.gov and donate plasma today. It’ll be tremendous. We really appreciate it if you do it, because we’re low. We’re low. We could help a lot more people, and it would be a terrific thing. It’ll take an hour, maybe a little bit more than an hour, but everybody will be very appreciative. Makes people better. And, you know, you had something very special. You had something that knocked it out. We want to be able to use it. Whatever you can Coronavirus.gov.
  • As a result of improvements we’ve made in treatment, for Americans over the age of 18, the mortality rate has declined 85 percent from its April peak. Eighty-five percent decline. 
  • On vaccines, last week, we announced a $2.1 billion partnership with Sanofi and GSK to purchase and produce 100 million doses of their coronavirus vaccine. One hundred million doses. This is the sixth vaccine candidate we are proactively supporting. We’re supporting numerous companies that are doing very well, who are having wonderful results, and they’re in final stages of testing. 
  • There are now two vaccines in the final stage of clinical trials in America, with a third vaccine likely to begin phase three almost immediately. And we have additional clinical trials scheduled over the next few weeks for a couple of the other companies. These are great companies. These are companies that are not only well known, they’re well respected, most importantly.
  • We’re balancing speed and safety, and we’re on pace to have a vaccine available this year, maybe far in advance of the end of the year. We’re mass producing the most promising candidates in advance so that we’re ready immediately upon approval. We have our military lined up. It’s logistics; it’s all about logistics. They deliver a lot of things, including soldiers. Now they’ll be doing vaccine. Our general is all ready to go and he’s very excited. And once we have the vaccine approved, fully approved, he’ll start the process. They will start the process, and they’ll get it out very, very quickly all over the country, and maybe beyond, if it works as we think it probably will.
  • Unleashing America’s technical and scientific brilliance, we will end this pandemic and we will hopefully end it very quickly. The therapeutics are very exciting to me, where you can go into a hospital, and whether it’s through a shot or a transfusion, you take care of somebody and they get better. That’s something, to me, that’s very important. We’re doing really well on therapeutics and really well on vaccines. 
  • Thank you all very much for being here.

Topics covered in the answer and question portion of the briefing can be found here: August 3 Briefing

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