President Donald Trump and Vice President Pence held a nearly 1-hour and 30-minute press conference beginning at about 6:27 this evening. They were joined by Administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Seema Verma, and FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn.
Summary of the President’s remarks and questions:
- The President said they are continuing to negotiate with Democrats regarding the next bill, and could have an answer tomorrow. They are looking at funding for hospitals, particularly rural hospitals.
- There have now been 4.18 million tests conducted. This is more than twice as many as France, the United Kingdom, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, India, Austria. Sweden, Australia, and Canada combined.
- The Vice President will have a call tomorrow with governors regarding what more can be done about testing.
- Many governors still rely on state laboratories for testing as opposed to all that may be available to them.
- We continue to procure millions of swabs.
- We are close to finalizing a second partnership with a US manufacturer to produce 10 million swabs per month. We will use the Defense Production Act to increase swab production in one US facility to 20 million swabs per month.
- Working with Oakridge, Tennessee, to produce 10 million collection tubes per week.
- The President said some people believe very strongly in testing, while others do not believe as much. He believes we should give it to states, since testing is local.
- He has heard that New York Governor Cuomo is giving excess ventilators to Massachusetts.
- There has been a 50% decline in hospital admissions over 9 days in New York City. There are declines in other cities, proving that the strategy is working.
- CMS is finalizing guidelines regarding the restoration of elective surgeries.
- He thanked the governors of New York, Louisiana, and Michigan for working with them, as well as Florida and California. There is a good ventilator supply, and we will fill up the reserves of states and other countries.
- There have been 64 flights through Project Air Bridge. An additional 50 flights are scheduled.
- FEMA is working to commit funds for more gowns. He identified Haynes and Standard Textiles as committing to provide 5 million gowns by the end of the month. Honeywell is hiring workers so that they can produce 20 million masks per month.
- We are working to bring the supply chain back home.
- We have a COVID treatment acceleration program.
- The President was asked about protestors. The President said they are keeping 6 feet apart. Some states have gone too far. In the end it does not matter since we are reopening our country. It has to be safe. In some instances, we will reopen portions of states.
- The President was asked if there will be another stimulus check next month. He said they are looking at it.
Summary of the Vice President’s remarks:
- The Vice President said there have been 746,000 positive tests, with 68,000 recovered and 41,000 who have died.
- Large metro areas continue to stabilize and have progress. New York metro area and Detroit are past their peaks. Denver has stabilized. New Orleans has stabilized. Chicago, Boston, and Philadelphia continue to be watched carefully.
- As of today, 5,528 medical personnel have been deployed to 24 hospitals.
- Ventilators are being added to the national stockpile.
- Details will be provided to governors and state health officials tomorrow regarding testing capabilities.
- We will continue to scale testing and work with governors to move testing forward.
- He believes we have testing and capacity to allow states to move into Phase 1.
Summary of Administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Seema Verma’s remarks:
- Administrator Verma said $90 billion in accelerated Medicaid payments have been provided, with $30 billion in grants.
- Hospitals are reporting unused capacity. CMS will be issuing guidelines regarding the reopening of the healthcare system.
- Nursing homes are an extraordinarily difficult situation. FEMA is working on a plan to be sure nursing homes have the supplies they need. They are working on a plan to go out and collect samples. They want to require nursing homes to report to patients and families if there are patients with COVID-19. They want to require reports directly to CDC when they have COVID cases.
Summary of FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn’s questions:
- Hahn was asked why might the virus be different in the future. He said that if we follow the criteria we can introduce efforts to avoid any flare-ups. The key is CDC surveillance.