President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence held a 1 hour and 40-minute press conference beginning at 5:56 this evening. The President left the conference after about one hour. They were joined by newly-named National Defense Production Act Policy Coordinator Peter Navarro, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, Denton Global Denton CEO McLane, Panera CEO Niren Chaudhary, White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Deborah Birx, and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Summary of the President’s remarks and questions:
- The President said the Administration is taking action to provide medical resources. Millions and millions of pieces of equipment have been delivered. Governors have been appreciative, with a few exceptions. Hospitals are being built all over the country by FEMA and the Corps of Engineers.
- The Defense Production Act was invoked with General Motors this afternoon for the production of ventilators. The President said he will not hesitate to use the full authority of the federal government.
- The President introduced Peter Navarro as the newly named National Defense Production Act Policy Coordinator.
- He is marshalling the full power of the federal government, and working to sign contracts with multiple ventilator companies. FDA is waving regulations to allow this to happen.
- In the next 100 days we will make or get 100,000 units, which is 3 times the number of ventilators made in the US on an annual basis.
- The President spoke with the CEO of Boeing, which will produce thousands of face shields per week for medical personnel. The CEO offered the use of the Dreamlifter, the largest cargo plane, for the distribution of cargo. Boeing will dedicate up to 3 planes.
- The Departments of Defense and Homeland Security have been given the authority to activate the ready reserve.
- He signed the $2.2 trillion relief bill which can provide up to $6.2 trillion (including loan authority) based on need. He thanked both Republicans and Democrats for coming together for the whole of the country. He reviewed several of the provisions of the bill.
- He mentioned work on pharmaceuticals and therapeutics, and the new Apple App for COVID-19.
- Widespread surveillance testing is being done to continue work with states to identify new hotspots.
- New guidelines for states and local leaders will be published in the coming days. Each location is different.
- The United Kingdom, Spain, Germany and Italy all want ventilators, and we will help.
- The President was asked about the issues with GM negotiations, and if the issue was cost. The President said he is unhappy that FM plants were built elsewhere and that the Lordstown, Ohio plant was closed. The President thought there was a deal, and price had become an issue.
- The President was asked about governors issuing quarantine orders, saying the President had suggested them. The President said people should stay in quarantine and that he is against people traveling. He is not playing games.
- With respect to the Defense Production Act, the President was asked about a claim by GM and Veritec that there had been a deal to produce ventilators at an Indiana plant. The President said the Act wasn’t invoked after, but before. He was not looking to be ripped off on price.
- The President yesterday told Sean Hannity that there isn’t a need for 30,000-40,000 ventilators. So why order the production of that amount? The President said maybe we will not need them, but other countries will and we will help.
- The President was asked why he disagreed with Governor Cuomo’s estimates regarding needed ventilators. He said that he believed the estimates were high because thousands of ventilators were sent to New York and the Governor did not know they had gotten there. Thousands were also in Edison, New Jersey, and New York did not take them.
- The President was asked what more can the governors do. The President described Governor Inslee of Washington as a “failed presidential candidate”. He said the Governor of Michigan “has no idea what is going on.” Governor Cuomo has been thankful. The federal government has stepped up. He wants the governors to be thankful for what Vice President Pence, the Task Force, FEMA, and the Corps of Engineers have done. The governors should be building hospitals. A hospital ship is leaving Virginia for New York weeks ahead of schedule.
- The President was asked if it is necessary for him to go to Norfolk given the recommendations for older Americans to stay home. He said it is not necessary for him to go, but he is doing it for the spirit that a visit from a President can provide.
- The President was asked about blaming predecessors for failing to stockpile supplies. He had been President for 3 years. Why hadn’t he done it? The President said we did, many, many times. We are now saying that supplies should go directly to where they are needed.
- The President was asked about his call with President Xi last evening. President Trump described it as a great conversation that last for one hour. He said a lot has been learned from what happened in Wuhan and the information is coming here. There was also discussion of the trade agreement.
- Monday is the end of the 15-day period. Will it be extended or modified? The President said he will consult with Drs. Birx and Fauci to determine what to do next.
- He was asked again how long it might be extended. He said it depends. We want to flatten the curve. He went on to again talk about areas of the country that have not been affected, and what action might be taken to open up those areas.
- United Airlines has expressed concerns that they are worried that the relief bill may not provide enough assistance. The President said he is talking with people on Wall Street, the most brilliant financial minds. With their assistance we should be able to handle United and others. It is possible we could wind up “owning large chunks” of the companies.
- The President was asked about the tension between bringing back companies and bringing back jobs. The President said he wants to preserve jobs, but also wants to preserve the travel industry because it provides many jobs.
- The President was asked how can he stop people going from high risk areas to low risk areas. He said we will be watching and report back on further actions.
- The President was asked what he might say to the millions of kids who are at home, away from school. He said he would tell them they are citizens of the greatest country in the world. This attack is nothing like since what was experienced in 1917. The duty is to sit back, watch, behave, wash your hands, and learn from it. We are doing all of this for them. Young children are not affected as much by the virus.
- The President was asked when the level of risk will be acceptable to allow for returning to normal. The President said he will make a determination, but the media will have an impact.
- The President was asked about hospital capacity. The President said he is working to increase it in New York and California. The hospital ship is now in Los Angeles. The effort is just started. These efforts are usually done through local governments. We are now taking over buildings to make them hospital-functioning.
- The President was asked if he can guarantee that everyone who needs a ventilator will get one. He said he has done a great job distributing a great number. He hopes we will have left over ventilators. We had a bad testing and stockpile system that has now been made better.
- The President was asked about suggestions of a need for a Phase 4 bill. He said that it could be something where we have to help states. We have to do what we have to do.
- The WHO has said that any treatment should be shown to be scientifically proven. The President said hydroxychloroquine is being tested. We will see if it works with 10,000 units having been sent to New York. He has told FDA that cures are needed now.
Summary of the National Defense Production Act Policy Coordinator Peter Navarro’s remarks:
Navarro said he is engaged in the most significant production action since World War II.
- The President is fully engaged.
- There is a need for industrial mobilization to make ventilators. They are needed in multiple cities.
- He is working with FEMA, HHS, and 10 companies. They had a problem with General Motors and Veritec, and cannot afford to lose a single day.
Summary of the Vice President’s remarks:
- The Vice President reported on the President having signed the CARES Act, and 12 major disasters having been declared, now including Maryland and Missouri.
- Emory University is in a Phase I clinical trial of another vaccine.
- Testing is being done in all 50 states, with 685,000 tests having been done. American Hospital Association members will now be reporting their testing to CDC following the signing of the CARES Act.
- Medical supplies are being airlifted from around the world.
- Businesses are manufacturing masks and swabs.
- If there are shortages, hospital administrators should be telling emergency personnel. FEMA Administrator Gaynor will be on a call tonight with state emergency managers.
Summary of the Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’s remarks:
- President Trump and his Administration are taking action so that children can continue learning.
- They are in contact with governors and state education leaders. They have waived standardized testing requirements for 47 states so far.
- They are working for on-line learning with meaningful controls. Distance learning is happening.
- Looking to provide direct financial support to students and teachers with micro grants, proposing them to Congress,
- Learning can and does happen anywhere and everywhere.
- They have provided regulatory flexibility for higher education institutions to allow learning to go on-line.
- Student loan assistance has been provided, and extended by the CARES Act.
Summary of the Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue’s remarks:
- Secretary Perdue said many students are provided with breakfast and lunch. USDA has issued “waiver after waiver”, and they are doing it with rapid speed.
- The food supply chain is strong. USDA is working with producers and equipment suppliers, who are staying on the job.
- The Secretary introduced two private sector providers who are partnering to provide student meals:
- Denton McLane – CEO of McLane Global – Shelf stable meals that will last up to two weeks are being provided to students (noting rural areas) in partnership with Baylor University, UPS, USPS, and PepsiCo.
- Niren Chaudhary – CEO of Panera Breads – Panera is working with USDA and the Children’s Hunger Alliance in Ohio to begin meals, and expand to other areas at a later date.
Summary of the White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Deborah Birx’s remarks and questions:
- Birx said they are adjusting models. They know there are issues in Detroit, Dearborn, Cook County, and Illinois. This week and next will not reflect mitigation efforts.
- There is a need to adopt and adapt. Asking Americans to self-isolate reflects American preferences as opposed to practices in other countries.
- She clarified that they are not requiring a quarantine with respect to New York area residents when travelling, but instead urging them to volunteer to self-quarantine.
- Birx was asked when the website for data will be available. She said they are still working to get data, which should now be easier given the requirements included in the CARES Act.
- Birx was asked what testing standards will be used as the basis for recommendations on areas. She said that test results are good only for the day on which the test was taken. They are used as surveillance and diagnostic tools.
Summary of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci’s remarks and questions:
- Fauci said as a member of the Task Force he takes seriously the responsibility to get supplies to medical professionals. They are committed to doing everything they can.
- Fauci was asked how has the nation changed over the past month with this Sunday being one month since the first COVID-19 death was reported. He reviewed his experience with HIV/AIDS being a broader matter over time. Coronavirus is an unprecedented matter, at least in our generation. We are in unchartered waters.