White House Coronavirus Task Force Briefing

President Donald Trump

  • Begin by saying that we’ve reached an agreement — the Secretary of Treasury, Steve Mnuchin, with the major airlines, all of our great airlines — to participate in a Payroll Support Program. This agreement will fully support airline industry workers, preserve the vital role airlines play in our economy, and protect taxpayers. Our airlines are now in good shape, and they will get over a very tough period of time that was not caused by them.
  • The United States is continuing to make substantial progress in our war against the virus. We grieve at every precious life that has been lost to the invisible enemy, but through the darkness, we can see the rays of light. At the end of that tunnel, we see light. We’re starting to see it.
  • Fifteen percent of counties within the United States have zero cases, and many counties within the United States have a very small number of cases. Large sections of our country are really looking at other sections and saying, “Wow, that looks bad.” But they don’t have the problem.
  • I salute the American people for following our guidelines on social distancing.
  • Today I’m instructing my Administration to halt funding of the World Health Organization while a review is conducted to assess the World Health Organization’s role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus.
  • American taxpayers provide between $400 million and $500 million per year to the WHO. In contrast, China contributes roughly $40 million a year and even less. As the organization’s leading sponsor, the United States has a duty to insist on full accountability.
  • One of the most dangerous and costly decisions from the WHO was its disastrous decision to oppose travel restrictions from China and other nations. They were very much opposed to what we did. Fortunately, I was not convinced and suspended travel from China, saving untold numbers of lives. Thousands and thousands of people would have died.
  • Had other nations likewise suspended travel from China, countless more lives would have been saved. Instead, look at the rest of the world. Look at parts of Europe. Other nations and regions, who followed WHO guidelines and kept their borders open to China, accelerated the pandemic all around the world. Many countries said, “We’re going to listen to the WHO,” and they have problems the likes of which they cannot believe. Nobody can believe.
  • The WHO’s attack on travel restrictions put political correctness above lifesaving measures. Travel bans work for the same reason that quarantines work. Pandemics depend on human-to-human transmission. Border control is fundamental to virus control.
  • Since its establishment in 1948, the American people have generously supported the World Health Organization to provide better health outcomes for the world and, most importantly, to help prevent global health crises. With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have deep concerns whether America’s generosity has been put to the best use possible. The reality is that the WHO failed to adequately obtain that and share information in a timely and transparent fashion.
  • The world depends on the WHO to work with countries to ensure that accurate information about international health threats is shared in a timely manner.
  • The WHO failed in this basic duty and must be held accountable. The WHO failed to investigate credible reports from sources in Wuhan that conflicted directly with the Chinese government’s official accounts. There was credible information to suspect human-to-human transmission in December 2019, which should have spurred the WHO to investigate, and investigate immediately.
  • Through the middle of January, it parroted and publicly endorsed the idea that there was not human-to-human transmission happening despite reports and clear evidence to the contrary. The delays the WHO experienced in declaring a public health emergency cost valuable time, tremendous amounts of time.
  • New data that emerges across the world on a daily basis points to the unreliability of the initial reports, and the world received all sorts of false information about transmission and mortality.
  • The silence of the WHO on the disappearance of scientific researchers and doctors and on new restrictions on the sharing of research into the origins of COVID-19 in the country of origin is deeply concerning, especially when we put up, by far, the largest amount of money.
  • If the WHO did its job to get medical experts into China to objectively assess the situation on the ground and call out China’s lack of transparency, the outbreak could have been contained at its source, with very little death. Saved lives.
  • Instead, the WHO willingly took China’s assurances and defended the actions of the Chinese government, even praising China for its so-called transparency. The WHO pushed China’s misinformation about the virus, saying it was not communicable and there was no need for travel bans. They cautioned us against our travel ban.
  • The WHO’s reliance on China’s disclosures likely caused a 20-fold increase in cases worldwide, and it may be much more than that.
  • The WHO has not addressed a single one of these concerns nor provided a serious explanation that acknowledges its own mistakes, of which there were many.
  • America and the world have chosen to rely on the WHO for accurate, timely, and independent information to make important public health recommendations and decisions. If we cannot trust the WHO, our country will be forced to find other ways to work with other nations to achieve public health goals.
  • Countries all over the world are now experiencing — you look all over the world — tremendous death and economic devastation because those tasked with protecting us by being truthful and transparent failed to do so. It would have been so easy to be truthful. And so much death has been caused by their mistakes.
  • We will continue to engage with the WHO to see if it can make meaningful reforms.
  • We’ll discuss with other countries and global health partners.
  • As you know, in other countries hit hard by the virus, hospitals have been tragically forced to ration medical care and the use of ventilators.
  • Due to our early and aggressive action, the skill of our healthcare workers, and the resilience of our healthcare system, no hospital in America has been forced to deny any patient access to a ventilator.
  • The scariest day of my life was about a month ago when, after a long day of meetings, my team told me that we were going to be needing 130,000 ventilators; that we were short hundreds of thousands of ventilators. This is the system we inherited. I had governors requesting unreasonable sums that the federal government just didn’t have.
  • The states were not prepared. I knew that every person who needed a ventilator and didn’t get one would die.
  • We started to smartly ration and distribute the ventilators that we had and that others had. I got daily updates on the supply we had from requests coming in and people wanting to have updates.
  • I instructed my team to use the Defense Production Act. It was a hammer; it was a very powerful hammer in order to manufacture as many ventilators as possible.
  • Last year, America manufactured 30,000 ventilators. This year, the number will be over 150,000 ventilators. It could be as high as 200,000 more than we’ll ever need. In addition, we have 10,000 ventilators right now in the federal stockpile ready to move should we need them.
  • Today, we are taking further action to maximize our oversupply and available ventilators. I’m pleased to announce that my administration is partnering with the hospitals across the country to create an innovative new system called the Dynamic Ventilator Reserve, so that we’re going to have tremendous numbers of ventilators that we’re able to help our states with at a later date if there’s ever a problem like this.

Rick Pollack, CEO of American Hospital Association; Sam Hazen, CEO of HCA Healthcare; Warner Thomas, CEO of Ochsner Health; and DR. MIHALJEVIC of the Cleveland Clinic made very brief remarks.

President Trump continued…

  • The United States has far more ICU beds per capita than any other nation. We have 34.7 ICU beds per 100,000 people, which is the best there is, compared with roughly 12.5 beds per 100,000 in Italy, 11.6 beds in France, 9.7 beds in Spain.
  • There are more than 60,000 ventilators at hospitals and other healthcare facilities that are not in use at this moment. 
  • Through this new partnership with the hospitals, unused ventilators will be voluntarily lent to other hospitals and other areas of greater need.
  • Within the last several days, more than 20 of our nation’s largest health systems have already pledged more than 4,000 ventilators should we need them.
  • As we continue our medical war against the virus, the FDA has now authorized the first test developed by researchers from Rutgers University that can use saliva from patients. These tests can be self-administered by patients in healthcare settings, which will reduce exposure for medical workers and save personal protective equipment. Rutgers will begin processing 10,000 tests daily.
  • As we prepare for the next phase of this great struggle, we must also do everything in our power to restore prosperity for the American worker.
  • There’s tremendous interest and excitement surrounding the administration’s efforts to get the economy roaring once again.
  • You see what’s happening with the stock market already, because a lot of the very smart financial people are seeing how we’re doing. If we weren’t doing well, the market wouldn’t be at a level that it is today.
  • A little bit more than a month ago, we set every record you could set: more people working than we’ve ever had working before — almost 160 million; the best unemployment numbers we’ve ever had; and the best employment numbers we’ve ever had. Everybody was doing well. Stock market record of 142 days.
  • The plans to reopen the country are close to being finalized, and we will soon be sharing details and new guidelines with everybody.
  • I will be speaking to all 50 Governors. I will authorize each Governor to implement a reopening plan for their state at a time and in a manner as most appropriate.
  • The day will be very close because certain states, as you know, are in much different condition and in a much different place than other states. Maybe even before the date of May 1st.
  • We have a list of people that I’ll be speaking to – the best and brightest with ideas for reopening:
    • American Farm Bureau Federation, Zippy Duvall, Cisco Systems, Tyson Foods, Perdue Farms, Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland Company, Corteva, Tractor Supply Company, Seaboard Corporation, Grimmway Farms, Mountaire Farms, and others in the agricultural business.
    • Banking: Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Wells Fargo; U.S. Bancorp, Morgan Stanley, Grand Rapids State Bank, and Southern Bancorp.
    • Construction labor workforce: International Union of Operating Engineers, North America Building Trades Union, The Laborers’ International Union of North America, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, National Electrical Contractors Association, Bechtel, Fluor; National Association of Homebuilders; Association of Builders and Contractors, Associated General Contractors, AFL-CIO, G.H. Palmer. 
    • Defense: Lockheed Martin, Honeywell, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, General Dynamics.
    • Energy: Exxon Mobil, Continental Resources, Chevron, Southern Company, Alabama Power, ConocoPhillips, Occidental Petroleum, Kinder Morgan, Hess Corporation, Pearl Group.
    • Financial Services: Blackstone, Paulson & Company, Citadel, Elliott Management, Vista Equity Partners, Fidelity Investments, MasterCard, Visa, Sequoia, Stephens, Charles Schwab.
    • Food and beverage: National Restaurant Association, McDonald’s, Darden Restaurants, Coca-Cola, Pepsi Cola, Chick-fil-A, Subway, Bloomin’ Brands; Yum! Brands, Papa John’s, Wendy’s, Waffle House, Starbucks, Wolfgang Puck, Thomas Keller.
    • Transportation: FedEx, Allegiant, United Airlines, UPS, J.B. Hunt, YRC Worldwide; Crowley Maritime.
    • Telecommunications: Liberty Media, Verizon, T-Mobile, Charter Communications, Comcast.
    • Healthcare: New York Presbyterian, HCA Healthcare, Ascension Health, Common Spirit Health, Community Health Systems, Trinity Health, Cardinal Health, McKesson, 3M, Procter and Gamble, Abbott Laboratories, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Pfizer, Eli Lilly, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Gilead Sciences, AbbVie, Regeneron, Biogen, Anthem, United Health Group, Aetna, Cigna, Humana.
    • Tech: Apple, Google, Oracle, Safra Catz, Salesforce, SAP, Microsoft, Facebook, IBM, Intel, Qualcomm; Cisco; Advanced Micro Devices; Broadcom.
    • Sports NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL, UFC, PGA, LPGA, Major League Soccer, WWE, NASCAR, NHL, New England Patriots, Dallas Cowboys, Dallas Mavericks.
    • Thought leaders: Heritage Foundation, Hoover Institute, Condoleezza Rice, Art Laffer, Steve Moore, Steve Forbes, Larry Lindsey, Katherine Reynolds, Scott Gottlieb, Jim DeMint, Bill Haggerty, Ray Washburne.
    • Religious leaders will be coming on Friday.
  • We’ll reopen. Individual states and governors will be held accountable. If they need things, we’ll help them get those things, but we want them to do their testing. The Governors are responsible. They have to take charge. They have to do a great job.

Full remarks and topics covered in the answer and question portion of the briefing can be found here: April 14 Briefing

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