President Donald Trump press conference that was slightly longer than one hour beginning at about 6:14 this evening. He was the only one speaking and taking questions tonight.
Summary of the President’s remarks and questions:
- The President announced that he is halting the funding of the World Health Organization (WHO) while a review is conducted of WHO’s role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus. He repeated that the US provides $400-$500 million each year while China provides only about $40 million. He said it was a disastrous decision for the WHO to oppose China travel restrictions. If other nations had followed restrictions countless lives would have been saved. The WHO put political correctness over life saving measures. The US has supported the WHO since 1948. He has deep concerns that America’s generosity has not been put to best use. The WHO failed to investigate creditable reports from Wuhan that conflicted with Chinese reports. The silence on the disappearance of scientific researchers and doctors in the country of origin is disturbing. The outbreak could have been contained at its source. WHO’s reliance on Chinese disclosures likely caused a 20-fold increase in cases worldwide, and may be much more than that.
- We will engage with the WHO to see if it can make meaningful reforms. We will be discussing the situation with other countries and other global health partners
- The President spoke about the provision of ventilators and the current supply. He invited Adam Boehler, the Chief Executive Officer of the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, who spoke about the President’s direction to reach out to the American Hospital Association to design a system to loan ventilators to other hospitals. At this point 20 healthcare systems have signed up to provide 4000 ventilators in what is being called the Dynamic Ventilator Reserve.
- The President described a meeting he had with various hospital and association leaders to create this reserve and invited Rick Pollack (President, American Hospital Association), Sam Hazen, (CEO, HCA Healthcare), Warner Thomas (President and CEO, Ochsner Health), and Tom Mihaljevic (CEO and President, Cleveland Clinic), who each spoke about their support for the Dynamic Ventilator Reserve and the opportunity to flex machines to areas where needed.
- He said the FDA is certifying the first test for Rutgers using saliva. He said 10,000 tests could be done daily.
- He said the plans to reopen the country are close to being finalized. He will speak with all 50 governors and will be authorizing them to reopen their states at a time and manner that is appropriate. He said some might open before May 1. He will be working with governors to be sure it works really well.
- He is speaking to individuals who will be asked to serve on the reopening task force, and identified the following sectors including some individuals and companies within each sector that will be included: agriculture, banking, construction (including labor unions), defense, energy, financial services, food and beverage, transportation, telecommunication, healthcare, tech companies, and sports leagues and teams. He also explicitly called out former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb.
- He said he will depend upon governors to make decisions about reopening, saying if we are happy we will let them do it; if not, we have to let them know. We may close them down and open up again. We will be rejuvenating the economy, but health is the number one concern.
- The President was asked if this is the correct time to deal with the WHO. The President read off a long list of problems with the WHO, and said he is looking at a 60 to 90-day review period. This review should have been done by previous administrations. The evaluation period will include a hold on all funds.
- The President was asked what he might do if governors will not listen to reopening efforts. He said they will listen. They need the federal government. From a managerial standpoint, let the governors run individual states and the federal government can provide assistance if states need help.
- The President was asked if the testing capability to allow states to reopen, pointing out that Dr. Fauci has questioned this capability. The President said individual governors have testing capability, and will use what is necessary. If they are not satisfied they should not reopen.
- He was asked what might be done if there are spikes after reopening. The President said we may have spikes, and we may not have them. He is not putting pressure on any governor to reopen.
- He was asked what he can do to get additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program. He said they are talking about it, but the Democrats want to add all kinds of things to the package. He believes these other items should be considered later given the current need for Paycheck Protection funds. We need to refill the program for workers.
- He was asked about a UN economist saying that the food supply could be interrupted. The President said our farmers are incredible, and we are doing very well. He has not heard this concern.
- He was asked about the potential for death projections going up from the current levels if we ease up on the restrictions. The President said he does not expect that to be the case because the states likely to open up are ones that do not have virus problems.