President Trump and Members of the Coronavirus Task Force Hold a News Conference


The President: Thank you
very much, everybody. Thank you very much. Before I begin, I’d like
to extend my deepest condolences to the victims
and families in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Earlier today, a wicked
murderer opened fire at a Molson Coors Brewing
Company plant, taking the lives of five people. A number of people were
wounded, some badly wounded. Our hearts break for them
and their loved ones. We send our condolences. We’ll be with them. And it’s a terrible thing. A terrible thing. So our hearts go out to
the people of Wisconsin and to the families. Thank you very much. I have just received
another briefing from a great group of talented
people on the virus that is going around to various
parts of the world. We have, through some very
good early decisions — decisions that were
actually ridiculed at the beginning — we closed up
our borders to flights coming in from certain
areas, areas that were hit by the coronavirus
and hit pretty hard. And we did it very early. A lot of people thought
we shouldn’t have done it that early, and we did,
and it turned out to be a very good thing. And the number one
priority from our standpoint is the health and
safety of the American people. And that’s the way I viewed
it when I made that decision. Because of all we’ve done,
the risk to the American people remains very low. We have the greatest
experts in the world — really, in the world,
right here — people that are called upon by other
countries when things like this happen. We — we’re ready to adapt
and we’re ready to do whatever we have to as the
disease spreads, if it spreads. As most of you know, the
— the level that we’ve had in our country is very
low, and those people are getting better, or we
think that in almost all cases they’re
better, or getting. We have a total of 15. We took in some from Japan
— you heard about that — because they’re American citizens, and they’re in quarantine. And they’re
getting better too. But we felt we had an
obligation to do that. It could have been
as many as 42. And we found that we
were — it was just an obligation we
felt that we had. We could have left them,
and that would have been very bad — very bad,
I think — of American people. And they’re recovering. Of the 15 people — the
“original 15,” as I call them — 8 of them have
returned to their homes, to stay in their homes
until fully recovered. One is in the hospital and
five have fully recovered. And one is, we think, in
pretty good shape and it’s in between hospital
and going home. So we have a total of —
but we have a total of 15 people, and they’re in a
process of recovering, with some already
having fully recovered. We started out by looking
at certain things. We’ve been working with
the Hill very, very carefully, very strongly. And I think we have very
good bipartisan spirit for money. We were asking for two and
a half billion, and we think that’s a lot, but
the Democrats, and, I guess, Senator Schumer
wants us to have much more than that. And normally, in life,
I’d say, “We’ll take it. We’ll take it.” If they
want to give more, we’ll do more. We’re going to spend
whatever is appropriate. Hopefully, we’re not going
to have to spend so much because we really think
we’ve done a great job in keeping it down
to a minimum. And again, we’ve had
tremendous success — tremendous success —
beyond what people would have thought. Now, at the same time, you
do have some outbreaks in some countries. Italy and various
countries are having some difficulty. China, you know about
it, where it started. I spoke with President Xi. We had a great talk. He’s working very
hard, I have to say. He’s working
very, very hard. And if you can count on
the reports coming out of China, that spread has
gone down quite a bit. The infection seems to
have gone down over the last two days. As opposed to getting
larger, it’s actually gotten smaller. In one instance where we
think we can be — it’s somewhat reliable, it
seems to have gotten quite a bit smaller. With respect to the money
that’s being negotiated, they can do
whatever they want. I mean, again, we’ll
do the two and a half. We’re requesting
two and a half. Some Republicans would
like us to get four, and some Democrats would like
us to get eight and a half. And we’ll be satisfied
whatever — whatever it is. We’re bringing in a
specialist — a very highly regarded specialist
— tomorrow, who works, actually, at the
State Department. Very, very tremendously
talented in doing this. I want you to understand
something that shocked me when I saw it that — and
I spoke with Dr. Fauci on this, and I was really
amazed, and I think most people are amazed to
hear it: The flu, in our country, kills from 25,000
people to 69,000 people a year. That was shocking to me. And, so far, if you look
at what we have with the 15 people and their
recovery, one is — one is pretty sick but hopefully
will recover, but the others are in great shape. But think of that:
25,000 to 69,000. Over the last 10 years,
we’ve lost 360,000. These are people that have
died from the flu — from what we call the flu. “Hey, did you get
your flu shot?” And that’s something. Now, what we’ve done is
we’ve stopped non-U.S. citizens from coming
into America from China. That was done
very early on. We’re screening people,
and we have been, at a very high level —
screening people coming into the country
from infected areas. We have in quarantine
those infected and those at risk. We have a lot of great
quarantine facilities. We’re rapidly developing
a vaccine, and they can speak to you — the
professionals can speak to you about that. The vaccine is
coming along well. And in speaking to the
doctors, we think this is something that we can
develop fairly rapidly, a vaccine for the future,
and coordinate with the support of our partners. We have great
relationships with all of the countries that
we’re talking about. Some fairly large
number of countries. Some it’s one person, and
many countries have no problem whatsoever. And we’ll see
what happens. But we’re very, very ready
for this, for anything — whether it’s going to
be a breakout of larger proportions or whether or
not we’re — you know, we’re at that very low
level, and we want to keep it that way. So we’re at the low level. As they get better, we
take them off the list, so that we’re going to be
pretty soon at only five people. And we could be at just
one or two people over the next short period of time. So we’ve had
very good luck. The Johns Hopkins, I guess
— is a highly respected, great place — they did a
study, comprehensive: “The Countries Best and Worst
Prepared for an Epidemic.” And the United States is
now — we’re rated number one. We’re rated number one
for being prepared. This is a list of
different countries. I don’t want to get in
your way, especially since you do such a good job. This is a list of the
different countries. The United States is rated
number one most prepared. United Kingdom,
Netherlands, Australia, Canada, Thailand, Sweden,
Denmark, South Korea, Finland. These — this is a list of
the best-rated countries in the world by
Johns Hopkins. We’re doing something else
that’s important to me, because he’s been terrific
in many ways, but he’s also very good
on healthcare. And we really followed him
very closely — a lot of states do — when Mike was
governor — Mike Pence — of Indiana. They’ve established
great healthcare. They have a great
system there. It’s a system that a lot
of — a lot of the other states have really looked
to and changed their systems. They wanted to base it
on the Indiana system. It’s very good. And I think — and he’s,
really, very expert at the field. And what I’ve done is I’m
going to be announcing, exactly right now, that
I’m going to be putting our Vice President,
Mike Pence, in charge. And Mike will be working
with the professionals, doctors, and everybody
else that’s working. The team is brilliant. I spent a lot of time with
the team over the last couple of weeks, but
they’re totally brilliant, and we’re doing
really well. And Mike is going to be
in charge, and Mike will report back to me. But he’s got a certain
talent for this. And I’m going to ask Mike
Pence to say a few words. Please. Thank you. Mike? THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank
you, Mr. President. President Trump has made
clear from the first days of this administration: We
have no higher priority than the safety, security,
health, and wellbeing of the American people. And from the first word
of a outbreak of the coronavirus, the President
took unprecedented steps to protect the American
people from the spread of this disease. He recounted those
briefly, but the establishment of travel
restrictions, aggressive quarantine effort of
Americans that are returning, the declaration
of a public health emergency, and
establishing the White House Corona[virus] Task
Force are all reflective of the urgency that the
President has brought to a whole-of-government
approach. As a former governor from
the state where the first MERS case emerged in 2014,
I know full well the importance of presidential
leadership, the importance of administration
leadership, and the vital role of partnerships
of state and local governments and health
authorities in responding to the potential threat
of dangerous infectious diseases. And I — I look forward,
Mr. President, to serving in this role. I’m bringing together all
the members of the Corona Task Force that you’ve
established: HHS, CDC, DHS, the Department of
Transportation, and State. This team has been,
at your direction, Mr. President, meeting
every day since it was established. My role will be to
continue to bring that team together; to bring
to the President the best options for action; to
see to the safety and wellbeing and health of
the American people. We’ll also be continuing
to reach out to governors, state and local officials. In fact, in recent days,
the White House met with over 40 state, county, and
city health officials from over 30 states and
territories to discuss how to respond to this — to
the potential threat of the coronavirus. We’ll be working with them
in renewed ways to make sure they have the
resources to be able to respond. And as the President said,
we’ll be adding additional personnel here at the
White House to support our efforts on the
President’s behalf. We’ll also be working with
members of Congress to ensure that the resources
are available for this whole-of-government
response, and we’ll be working very closely with
Secretary Azar and his team that have done
an outstanding job communicating to the
public to ensure the American people have the
best information on ways to protect themselves and
their families, and also that the public has the
most timely information on the potential threat to
the American people. Mr. President, as we’ve
been briefed, while the threat to the American
public remains low of a spread of the coronavirus,
you have directed this team to take all steps
necessary to continue to ensure the health and
wellbeing of the American people. And the people of this
country can be confident that, under your
leadership, we will continue to bring the full
resources of the federal government, in
coordination with our state and local partners,
to see to the health and wellbeing and to the
effective response to the coronavirus here in the
United States of America. With that, the President
has asked me to recognize the Secretary of Health
and Human Services, Alex Azar, and also the Deputy
Director of CDC, Dr. Anne Schuchat, for remarks. Mr. Secretary? Secretary Azar: Well,
thank you, Mr. Vice President, and thank
you, Mr. President, for gathering your public
health experts here today and for your strong
leadership in keeping America safe. And I just want to say
I could not be more delighted that you’ve
asked the Vice President, my old friend and
colleague, to lead this whole-of-government
approach with us under the Emergency Support
Function Number 8. As of today, we have 15
cases of COVID-19 that have been detected in the
United States, with only one new case detected
in the last two weeks. We also have three
cases among Americans repatriated from Wuhan and
42 cases among Americans repatriated who had been
stuck on the Diamond Princess in Japan. The President’s early
and decisive actions, including travel
restrictions, have succeeded in buying us
incredibly valuable time. This has helped us contain
the spread of the virus, handle the cases that we
have, and prepare for the possibility that we will
need to mitigate broader spread of infections
within the United States. The President’s actions
taken with the strong support of his scientific
advisors have proven to be appropriate, wise, and
well-calibrated to the situation. We’re grateful for the
hard work that healthcare workers, first responders,
communities, and state and local leaders have put
into the response so far. Because of this hard
work and the President’s leadership, the immediate
risk to the American public has been and
continues to be low. Our containment strategy
has been working. At the same time, what
every one of our experts and leaders have been
saying for more than a month now remains true:
The degree of risk has the potential to change
quickly, and we can expect to see more cases in
the United States. That is why we’ve been
reminding the American public and our state,
local, and private sector partners that they should
be aware of what a broader response would look like. CDC has recommended that
the American public, and especially state and local
governments, businesses, and other organizations
should refresh themselves on how they would respond
in the event that the situation worsens. We’re encouraging
Americans to learn what future steps might
be necessary to keep themselves and their
communities safe. Knowing these potential
steps now can help keep the risk to you and
your community low. Americans can find
useful information at CDC.gov/COVID19. And we’re working closely
with government and private sector partners
to educate them about preparedness. Finally, we’ve begun
working with Congress to secure the funding
that we need. There are five major
priorities in the White House request to Congress
that the White House made on Monday. These priorities are:
First, expanding our surveillance network. Second, support for state
and local governments’ work. Third and fourth,
development of therapeutics and vaccines. And fifth, manufacturing
and purchase of personal protective equipment
like gowns and masks. As chairman of the
President’s Coronavirus Task Force, I’m committed
to providing regular updates from our
coordinated interagency process. We’ve had our top public
health leaders, like those joining me here today,
speaking to the media many times per day to inform
the American public. The Trump administration
is going to continue to be aggressively transparent,
keeping the American people and the media
apprised of the situation and what everyone can do. With that, I’m going
to hand things over to Dr. Anne Schuchat. Dr. Schuchat is the senior
career official at the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention, the Principal Deputy
Director with an over 30-year career at the CDC
in public health, and is a member of the United
States Public Health Service
Commissioned Corps. So, Dr. Schuchat, I’ll
turn it over to you. DR. SCHUCHAT: Thanks so
much, Mr. Secretary. As you know, this has
been a difficult and challenging time, and
our hearts go out to the individuals who have been
directly affected by the virus, and to all those
who have been working tirelessly in
responding to it. Our aggressive containment
strategy here in the United States has been
working and is responsible for the low levels of
cases that we have so far. However, we do expect more
cases, and this is a good time to prepare. As you heard, it’s
the perfect time for businesses, healthcare
systems, universities, and schools to look at their
pandemic preparedness plans, dust them off, and
make sure that they’re ready. And we have lots more
information at the CDC’s website and in partnership
on how to do that. But it’s also a really
good time for the American public to prepare and for
you to know what this means for you. The coronavirus that
we’re talking about is a respiratory virus. It’s spread in a similar
way to the common cold or to influenza. It’s spread through
coughs and sneezes. And so those everyday
sensible measures that we tell people to do every
year with the flu are important here: covering
your cough, staying home when you’re sick, and
washing your hands. Tried and true, not very
exciting measures, but really important ways that
you can prevent the spread of respiratory viruses. So this — the trajectory
of what we’re looking at over the weeks and months
ahead is very uncertain. But many of the steps that
we have taken over the past 15 years to prepare
for pandemic influenza, and our experience going
through the 2009 H1N1 pandemic of influenza,
remind us of the kinds of steps that our healthcare
system, our businesses, our communities, and
schools may need to take. We’re in this together,
all of government, the public and the
private sector. And the CDC wants to make
sure you have the best information
available every day. Thank you. The President: Please. DR. FAUCI: I just want
to give you a very quick update on the — The
Press: Your name please? Could you tell us
who you are please? DR. FAUCI: My name
is Dr. Tony Fauci. I’m the Director of the
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious
Diseases at NIH. Just a very quick update
on the countermeasure development in the form of
vaccines and therapeutics. I had told this audience
at a recent press briefing that we have a number of
vaccine candidates and one prototype, to give you a
feel for the timeframe of a vaccine and what its
impact might be now and in subsequent years — is
that I told you we would have a vaccine that we
would be putting into trials, to see if it’s
safe and if it induces a response that you
would predict would be protective in
about three months. I think it’s going to be a
little bit less than that. It’s probably going to
be closer to two months. That would then take about
three months to determine if it’s safe and
immunogenic, which gives us six months. Then you graduate from a
trial — which is phase one — of 45 people, to
a trial that involves hundreds if not low
thousands of people to determine efficacy. At the earliest, an
efficacy trial would take an additional six
to eight months. So although this is the
fastest we have ever gone from a sequence of a virus
to a trial, it still would not be any applicable to
the epidemic unless we really wait about a year
to a year and a half. Now, that means
two things. One, the answer to
containing is public health measures. We can’t rely on a vaccine
over the next several months to a year. However, if this virus —
which we have every reason to believe it is quite
conceivable that it will happen — will go beyond
just a season and come back and recycle next year
— if that’s the case, we hope to have a vaccine. And then finally and
briefly: therapeutics. There are a number of
anti-viral drugs that are being tested. A few days ago, we
initiated a randomized controlled trial of a drug
called remdesivir, which has anti-viral activity in
vitro and in animal model. The good news about that
is that it’s a trial that’s randomized to
either placebo or standard of care, and drug and
standard of care, which means that we will know
reasonably soon whether it works. And if it does, we will
then have an effective therapy to distribute. Thank you. The President: Okay. Thank you. Go ahead, please. The Press: Thank you very
much, Mr. President. First of all, you have
just come from a long and busy trip from India. The President: It’s
a great country. A long trip. The Press: And as far
as this coronavirus is concerned, you have a
great scientific and medical team behind you
and with you — The President: It’s true. The Press: — and I’m sure
they will keep America safe. The President: They will. The Press: As far as
your trip to India, Mr. President, where do
we go from here as far as India-U.S. relations are concerned? And also, Mr. President,
you are very famous in India, and Prime Minister
Modi is very famous in America. What is the future? And the Indian American
community is with you, Mr. President. The President: Yeah, we
won’t talk too much about that other than
I just got back. A long flight. It’s a long flight. He’s a great gentleman,
a great leader. It’s an incredible
country. We were treated very,
very well, and we really enjoyed it. A lot of tremendous
progress was made in terms of relationship. Our relationship with
India is extraordinary right now. And we’re going to be
doing a lot of business with India. They’re sending billions
and billions of dollars now to the United States. But we’d rather talk
about this right now. The Press: Mr. President,
the CDC said yesterday that they believe it’s
inevitable that the virus will spread in the United
States, and it’s not a question of “if” but
“when.” Do you agree with that assessment? The President: Well,
I don’t think it’s inevitable. It probably will. It possibly will. It could be at a very
small level or it could be at a larger level. Whatever happens, we’re
totally prepared. We have the best
people in the world. You see that
from the study. We have the best prepared
people, the best people in the world. Congress is willing to
give us much more than we’re even asking for. That’s nice for a change. But we are totally ready,
willing, and able. It’s a term that we use. It’s “ready, willing, and
able.” And we have — we have — it’s going to be
very well under control. Now, it may get bigger, it
may get a little bigger. It may not get
bigger at all. We’ll see what happens. But regardless of what
happens, we are totally prepared. Please. The Press: You talked a
little earlier about the screening measures that
you put in place and the travel restrictions you’ve
put in place regarding China. At this point, as the
virus spreads in Italy and South Korea, are you
planning on adding those countries to the list? The President: Well, just
so you understand — you know, I’m the President
of the United States. I’m not the President
of other countries. Other countries — some
on the list that are very respected in what they do
in terms of what we’re talking about. But I really want to be
responsible for this country, if it means
placing very strong — a very strong situation on
the border so people can’t come into our country
from a country that is infected. That’s — we’re doing
that, and we’ve already done it with
numerous countries. But we have to focus
on this country. I don’t think it’s right
to impose our self on others. But if others aren’t
taking care or we think they’re doing it
incorrectly — you know, we’re dealing with World
Health, and we have terrific people. And CDC does go around and
help other countries give them recommendations
as what to do. But they’re working on
their countries and we’re working on our countries. And, so far, from our
standpoint, it’s really worked out very well. The Press: Just to follow
up on Zeke’s question, can you clarify: Are you
considering restricting travel to and from South
Korea, Italy, and other countries that have
been affected by this? The President: At a right
time, we may do that. Right now, it’s
not the right time. But at a right time — and
we are checking people as they come through,
specifically for the problem, the problem
that we’re dealing with. So we’re checking a lot of
people if they’re coming from — South Korea has
been hit pretty hard; Italy has been
hit pretty hard. China — it’s obvious
what’s happened in China. But again, the numbers
seem to be leveling off and going down in China,
which is very good news. So we’ll see what happens. The Press: The White House
has spent the day denying that they are going to
appoint a czar to run point on the
coronavirus response. Today, the — Secretary
Azar testified that he didn’t think one was
necessary and they were going to run
it out of HHS. And you yourself have
been downplaying this. So why are you now
selecting the Vice President to run
point on this? The President: Well,
Mike is not a czar. He’s Vice President. He’s in the
administration. But I’m having everybody
report to Mike. Mike has been very
good, very adept. Anybody that knows
anything about healthcare, they look at the Indiana
model, and it’s been a very great success. It’s been a tremendous
model in terms of healthcare. And this is really
an offshoot of that. So this isn’t a czar. I don’t view
Mike as a czar. Mike is part of the
administration. But I’m having them
report to Mike. Mike will report to me. They’ll also be reporting,
in some cases, to both. I’ll be going to meetings
quite a bit depending on what they want to do and
what message we want to get out. But we’ve done, really,
an extraordinary job. When you look at a country
this size, with so many people pouring in — we’re
the number one in the world for people coming
into a country, by far. And we have a total of 15
cases, many of which, or most — within a day, I
will tell you most of whom are fully recovered. I think that’s, really, a
pretty impressive mark. Now, we did take in
40 people that were Americans, and they’re
also recovering. But we brought them in, so
I call that — I have a different group. But we felt we had an
obligation to American citizens outside of the
country that were trying to get back in. We thought it was
very important. The Press: Mr. President,
the stock market has taken a big hit over
the past few days. The President: Yeah. The Press: What can
you do about that? And if the CDC is right in
saying that the spread is inevitable, are you going
to be dealing with stock market issues and economy
issues for some time to come? The President: Well, I
really think the stock market — of something
I know a lot about — I think it took a hit
maybe for two reasons. I think they look at the
people that you watched debating last night and
they say, if there’s even a possibility that can
happen, I think it really takes a hit
because of that. And it certainly took a
hit because of this, and I understand that also,
because of supply chains and various other things
and people coming in. But I think the stock
market will recover. The economy is
very strong. The consumer is the
strongest it’s ever been. Our consumers
are incredible. They’re incredible. That’s why we’re doing
well and other countries have not, even
before the virus. We’re doing great. Other countries have
not been doing great. Our consumer is very, very
strong and very powerful economically. Yeah, please. The Press: Mr. President,
have you been any plans that would involve
quarantined cities, like we saw in China? And what would have to
happen for you to take a step like that? The President: We do have
plans of a much — on a much larger scale,
should we need that. We’re working with states,
we’re working with virtually every state. And we do have plans on a
larger scale if we need it. We don’t think we’re going
to need it, but, you know, you always have
to be prepared. And, again, Congress
is talking to us about funding, and we’re getting
far more than what we asked for. And, I guess, the best
thing to do is take it. We’ll take it. The Press: Mr. President,
how much are you willing to give? How much money are you
willing to give Congress if they’re going six
billion more than you’ve offered? The President: We’ll we’re
going to see, but we’ll take care of states
because states are working very hard. We have hospitals in
states that make rooms available, and they
— they’re building quarantine areas — areas
where you can keep people safely. We’re working really
well with states. It’s a very
big part of it. So, you know, my attitude:
If Congress wants to give us the money so easy — it
wasn’t very easy for the wall, but we got
that one done. If they want to give us
the money, we’ll take the money. We’ll just do a
good job with it. Yeah, please. The Press: Mr. President,
should Americans be going out getting protective
equipment such as masks and so forth? And if so, what
is the U.S. doing to boost
production of masks? The President: Well, we
can get a lot of it. In fact, we’ve ordered a
lot of it just in case we need it. We may not need it;
you understand that. But in case — we’re
looking at worst-case scenario. We’re going to be
set very quickly. But we — I don’t think
we’re going to ever be anywhere near that. I really don’t believe
that we’re going to be anywhere near that. Our borders are
very controlled. Our flights in from
certain areas that we’re talking about are
very controlled. I don’t think we’ll ever
be anywhere near that. Please, go ahead. The Press: Back to the
stock market for a second. Travel-related stocks have
especially been — The President: Yeah. The Press: — hammered
here — The President: Sure. The Press: — in the
last couple days. What would you say to
Americans out there who right now are looking
forward to the summer or the upcoming months and
saying to themselves, “Should I make
my summer plans? Should I go
travel abroad?” ? Well, hopefully, they’re
going to be able to do that. We think — we hope —
that it’s going to be in good shape by that time. But, you know, they’re
going to have to remain a little bit flexible. Yeah, I would say
travel-related company, certainly right now, that
would be — that would be — they would be hurt. At the same
time, this ends. This is going to end. Hopefully it’ll be sooner
rather than later. And I think the business
that they lost will be picked up at a later date. But, you know, right now,
I think they’re not going to be — probably not
going to be going to China; they’re not going
to be going to certain countries where the
problem is far greater than it is in the
United States. What it’s going to do is
keep people home, and they’re going to travel
to places that we have. We have the greatest —
it’s the greatest tourism country in the world. So instead of leaving
our country, leaving our shores, they’ll stay here. And again, when you have
15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is
going to be down to close to zero, that’s a pretty
good job we’ve done. The Press: What is your
response to Speaker Pelosi who said earlier today,
“You don’t know what you’re talking about,”
about the coronavirus? I’m also wondering if you
want to address critics who say you can’t be
trusted about what your administration is saying? The President: Yeah, sure. Sure. I think Speaker
Pelosi is incompetent. She lost the
Congress once. I think she’s going
to lose it again. She lifted my poll
numbers up 10 points. I never thought that I
would see that so quickly and so easily. I’m leading everybody. We’re doing great. I don’t want to
do it that way. It’s almost unfair if
you think about it. But I think she’s
incompetent, and I think she’s not thinking
about the country. And instead of making a
statement like that, where I’ve been beating her
routinely at everything — instead of making a
statement like that, she should be saying we have
to work together, because we have a big
problem, potentially. And maybe it’s going to
be a very little problem. I hope that it’s going to
be a very little problem. But we have to
work together. Instead, she wants to do
that — same thing with Cryin’ Chuck Schumer. He goes out and he says,
“The President only asked for two and a half
billion dollars. He should have eight and a
half.” This is the first time I’ve ever been told
that we should take more. Usually, it’s we
have to take less. And we should be
working together. He shouldn’t be making
statements like that, because it’s so bad
for the country. And Nancy Pelosi — I
mean, she should go back to her district and clean
it up, because it’s the number one — if you look
at percentage down, that was one of the finest in
the world, and now you look at what’s happening. And I’m just saying, we
should all be working together. She’s trying to create
a panic, and there’s no reason to panic because
we have done so good. These professionals behind
me and over here, and over there, and back here, and
in some conference rooms — I just left a group of
45 people that are the most talented
people in the world. Parts of the world are
asking us, in a very nice way, can they partake
and help them. So Nancy Pelosi shouldn’t
— and she knows it’s not true. She knows — all — all
they’re trying to do is get a political advantage. This isn’t about
political advantage. We’re all trying to
do the right thing. They shouldn’t be saying,
“This is terrible. President Trump isn’t
asking for enough money.” How stupid a thing to say. If they want to give us
more money, that’s okay; we’ll take more money. Some Republicans think we
should have more money too. That’s okay. We’ll take more money. But they shouldn’t demean
the people that are on the stage, who are the
finest in the world. They’re not demeaning me. They’re demeaning the
greatest healthcare professionals in the world
and people that do exactly what we’re talking about. The Press: Your campaign
today sued the New York Times for an
opinion piece. The President: Yeah. The Press: Is it your
opinion or is it your contention that if people
have an opinion contrary to yours, that they
should be sued? The President: Well, when
they get the opinion totally wrong, as the New
York Times did — and, frankly, they’ve got a lot
wrong over the last number of years. So we’ll see how that —
let that work its way through the courts. The Press: But that’s
an opinion, right? The President: No, no. If you read it, you’ll see
it’s beyond an opinion. That’s not an opinion. That’s something much
more than an opinion. They did a bad thing. And there’ll
be more coming. There’ll be more coming. The Press: Mr. President,
Tokyo will host Summer Olympic Games this July. Do you expect
Tokyo will be? The President: I hope so,
because Shinzo Abe is a very good friend of mine. I love the
people of Japan. And I hope it’s going
to be in good shape. As you know, you have a
number of people in Japan who have been infected. I hear they’re doing a
very professional job, which doesn’t surprise me
at all, with Shinzo and with all of the
people you have. I know Japan very well. I think they’re going
to handle it very well. It’s a little
tight, you know. It’s a little tight. They spent billions of
dollars building one of the most beautiful venues
I’ve ever seen, and your Prime Minister is
very proud of it. I hope it’s
going to be fine. We hope it will. The Press: Thank you very
much, Mr. President. The doctor at CDC just
talked about dusting off preparedness plans. But coming from you,
it has more weight. Do you feel like U.S. schools should be
preparing for a coronavirus spreading? The President: I
would think so, yes. I mean, I haven’t spoken
specifically about that with the various doctors,
but I would think so, yes. I think every aspect of
our society should be prepared. I don’t think it’s
going to come to that, especially with the fact
that we’re going down, not up. We’re going very
substantially down, not up. But, yeah, I think schools
should be preparing and, you know, get
ready just in case. The words are “just in
case.” We don’t think we’re going to be there. We don’t think we’re going
to be anywhere close. And again, if you look at
some countries, they are coming down. It’s starting to go in
the other direction. This will end. This will end. You look at flu season. I said 26,000 people? I’ve never heard of
a number like that. Twenty-six thousand people
going up to sixty-nine thousand people, Doctor
— you told me before. Sixty-nine thousand people
die every year — from 26 [thousand] to 69
[thousand] — every year from the flu. Now, think of that. It’s incredible. So far, the results of all
of this that everybody is reading about — and part
of the thing is you want to keep it the way it is. You don’t want to see
panic because there’s no reason to be
panicked about it. But when I mentioned the
flu, I said — actually, I asked the various doctors. I said, “Is this
just like flu?” Because people
die from the flu. And this is very unusual. And it is a little bit
different, but in some ways it’s easier and in
some ways it’s a little bit tougher. But we have it so
well under control. I mean, we really have
done a very good job. Go ahead. The Press: Thank
you, Mr. President. Thank you, Mr. President. You mentioned the
stock market earlier. To go back to that: To
be clear, the Dow Jones dropped more than 2,000
points this week. Are you suggesting that
that was overblown? Are financial markets
overreacting here? The President: I think the
financial markets are very upset when they look at
the Democrat candidates standing on that stage
making fools out of themselves. And they say, “If we ever
have a President like this…” — and there’s
always a possibility. It’s an election. You know, who knows
what happens, right? I think we’re
going to win. I think we’re going
to win by a lot. But when they look at the
statements made by the people standing —
standing behind those podiums, I think that
has a huge effect, yeah. The Press: You don’t think
the sell-off had to do with the coronavirus
(inaudible)? The President: Oh,
I think it did. I think it did. But I think you can add
quite a bit of sell-off to what they’re seeing. Because they’re
seeing the potential. You know, again, I think
we’re going to win. I feel very
confident of it. We’ve done everything, and
much more than I said we were going to do. You look at
what we’ve done. What we’ve done is
incredible, with the tax cuts and regulation
cuts and rebuilding our military, taking care of
vets and getting them Choice and Accountability. All of the things we’ve
done — protecting our Second Amendment. I mean, they view that —
the Second Amendment, they — they’re going to
destroy the Second Amendment. When people look at that,
they say, “This is not good.” So you add that in. I really believe
that’s a factor. But, no, this is — what
we’re talking about is — is the virus. That’s what we’re
talking about. But I do believe that’s —
I do believe — in terms of CNBC and in terms of
Fox Business, I do believe that that’s a factor. Yeah. And I think after I win
the election, I think the stock market is going
to boom like it’s never boomed before — just like
it did, by the way, after I won the last election. The stock market, the day
after, went up like a rocket ship. The Press: At what point
would you be considering loosen the travel
restrictions regarding China? The President: When we’re
at a point where we don’t have a problem. You know, we’re not going
to loosen the travel restrictions. That’s what saved us. Had I not made — Mike
alluded to it — had I not made a decision very early
on not to take people from a certain area, we
wouldn’t be talking this way. We’d be talking about many
more people would’ve been infected. I took a lot of heat. I mean, some people called
me racist because I made a decision so early. And we had never done that
as a country before, let alone early. So it was a, you
know, bold decision. It turned out to
be a good decision. But I was criticized
by the Democrats. They called me a racist
because I made that decision, if you can
believe that one. We have to all
work together. We can’t say bad things,
and especially when we have the best team
anywhere in the world. And we really gave
it an early start. We gave it a
very early start. The Press: Your budgets
have consistently called for enormous cuts to the
CDC, the NIH, and the WHO. You’ve talked a lot
today about how these professionals are
excellent, have been critical and necessary. Does this experience at
all give you pause about those consistent cuts? The President: No, because
we — we can get money and we can increase staff. We know all the people. We know all the
good people. It’s a question I asked
the doctors before. Some of the people we cut,
they haven’t been used for many, many years. And if — if we have a
need, we can get them very quickly. And rather than spending
the money — and I’m a business person — I don’t
like having thousands of people around when
you don’t need them. When we need them, we
can get them back very quickly. For instance, we’re
bringing some people in tomorrow that are already
in this, you know, great government that we have,
and very specifically for this. We can build up
very, very quickly. And we’ve already
done that. I mean, we really
have built up. We have a great staff. And using Mike, I’m doing
that because he’s in the administration and he’s
very good at doing what he does, and doing as
it relates to this. Yeah. Go ahead, please. Go ahead, please. The Press: Thank
you, Mr. President. The President:
Yeah, go ahead. The Press: So far — so
far, your administration — The President: I picked
him, but you’re fine. The Press: So far, your
administration is only testing less
than 500 people. And health officials are
questioning whether that’s enough, comparing to other
countries who have tested more than tens of
thousands of people. Are you planning to
test more people? The President: Well, we’re
testing everybody that we need to test. And we’re finding
very little problem. Very little problem. Now, you treat
this like a flu. We were — in fact, I
might ask one of the doctors to come
up and explain it. You want to wash
your hands a lot. You want to stay — if
you’re not feeling well, if you feel you have a
flu, stay inside, sort of quarantine yourself. Don’t go outside. But there are certain
steps that you can take that won’t even
be necessary. You know, in many cases,
when you catch this, it’s very light; you don’t even
know there’s a problem. Sometimes they just get
the sniffles, sometimes they just get something
where they’re not feeling quite right. And sometimes they
feel really bad. But that’s a little
bit like the flu. It’s a little like the
regular flu that we have flu shots for. And we’ll essentially have
a flu shot for this in a fairly quick manner. Yeah, go ahead. The Press: Two weeks ago,
Mr. President, your Acting OMB Director was in this
room and was talking about what he expects to be GDP
growth for this coming year. He said it was 3 percent. And we’ve talked about the
effects of the coronavirus on the supply chain, the
declines in the financial markets. Are you still confident
that you’ll see that kind of economic
growth this year? The President: No, we’re
going to have tremendously low unemployment. We’re setting
records on that one. In fact, the
administration has the — as you know, the lowest
average unemployment of any administration
in history. Our numbers are very low,
very good — 3.5, 3.6. But you can’t really see
what this does in terms of GDP. It could affect it, but
that’s irrelevant compared to what we’re
talking about. We want to make
sure it’s safe. Safety, number one. But this would have, you
know, an impact on GDP. But we’re still very, very
— we’re doing great. But this will — just like
— I’ll tell you what has a big impact: Boeing
has a big impact. How did that happen? A year ago, all of a
sudden, that happened. I think that took away a
half a point to a point, even. You know, it’s a
massive company. I think Boeing — we had
the General Motors strike; that was a big
impact on GDP. And, of course, we’re
paying interest rates. I disagree with the
head of the Fed. I’m not — I’m not happy
with what that is because he’s kept interest rates. President Obama didn’t
have near the numbers. And yet, if you look at
what happened, he was paying zero. We’re paying interest. Now, it’s more
conservative. And, frankly, people that
put their money away are now getting a return on
their money as opposed to not getting anything. But I think, you know,
we’re the — we’re the greatest of them all. We should be paying the
lowest interest rates. And when Germany and other
countries are paying negative rates — meaning,
they’re literally getting paid when they
put out money. I mean, they — they
borrow money and they get paid when it
gets paid back. Who ever heard
of this before? It’s a first. But we don’t do that. So I totally disagree
with our Fed. I think our Fed has made a
terrible mistake, and it would’ve made a big
difference, as good as we’ve done, even without
the 2,000 points. And we started off at
16,000, and we’ll be at 28,000 without. We were going
to crack 30,000. We have had increases like
nobody has seen before. But we’re doing well. But we have to watch —
we’re doing well, anyway, in other words, even
despite the 2,000 points. It sounds like a
lot, and it’s a lot. But it’s noth- — it’s
very little compared to what we’ve gone up. But we’ll be watching
it very closely. But we have been hurt
by General Motors. We’ve been hurt by Boeing. And we’ve been hurt by —
we’ve been hurt, in my opinion, very badly, by
our own Federal Reserve, who has also created
a very strong dollar. That’s something nice
about a strong dollar, but it makes it much harder
to do business outside of this country. The Press: Thank you, sir. A number of your
supporters online have embraced these theories
reported — these theories that the CDC may be
exaggerating the threat of coronavirus to hurt
you politically. Rush Limbaugh the other
day said this has been advanced to weaponize
the virus against you. The President: You don’t
mean my supporters. You mean my — my people
that are not supporters? The Press: Right. Your opponents. The President: Yeah,
I agree with that. I do. The Press: Have you
seen evidence of that? The President: I
think they are. I think — and I’d
like it to stop. I think people know that
when Chuck Schumer gets upset — I mean, he did
the same thing with a couple of trade deals that
are phenomenal deals now — everybody has
acknowledged they’re phenomenal deals — before
he ever saw the deal. He didn’t even know we
were going to make a deal. They said, “What do you
think of the deal with China?” “I don’t like it. I don’t like it.” He
talked about tariffs. I left the tariffs on: 25
percent on $250 billion. He said, “He took the
tariffs off.” He didn’t even know the deal. And he was out there
knocking it because that’s a natural thing to say. But when you’re talking
about especially something like this, we have to
be on the same team. This is too important. We have to be on
the same team. The Press: Have you seen
evidence that the CDC is trying to hurt you? That there are career
officials — The President: No, I don’t
think the CDC is at all. No, they’ve been —
they’ve been working really well together. No, they really are. They’re professional. I think they’re
beyond that. They want this to go away. They want to do it with
as little disruption, and they don’t want
to lose life. I see the way
they’re working. This gen- — these people
behind me and others that are in the other room,
they’re incredible people. No, I don’t see
that at all. The Press: First off, I
would like to thank you for doing a briefing. The Press: Thank
you, Mr. President. I just — The President:
Thank you very much. I appreciate that. I don’t know who said
that, but I appreciate it. The Press: That was me. The Press: Thank
you, Mr. President. Tonight, you’re minimizing
the risk of danger of the virus. Are you telling the
Americans, except for the ones who are sick, not
to change any of their behaviors? The President: No, I think
you have to always — look, I do it a lot
anyway, as you’ve probably heard. Wash your hands,
stay clean. (laughter) You don’t have
to necessarily grab every handrail unless
you have to. You know, you do certain
things that you do when you have the flu. I mean, view this
the same as the flu. When somebody sneezes — I
mean, I try and bail out as much as possible
when they’re sneezing. I had a man come up
to me a week ago. I hadn’t seen him in a
long time, and I said, “How you doing?” He said, “Fine. Fine.” And he —
he hugs me, kiss. I said, “Are you well?” He says, “No.” (laughter)
He said, “I have the worst fever and the worst flu.”
And he’s hugging and kissing me. So I said, “Excuse me.” I
went and I started washing my hands. (laughter) So you
have to do that. You know, this is — I
really think, Doctor, you ought to treat this like
you treat the flu, right? And, you know, it’s going
to be — it’s going to be (inaudible). The Press: Mr. President,
on — The President: Wait. I want to have — I loved
— that was so nice of you to say “thank you very
much.” The Press: Well, thank you, Mr. President. The President: Go ahead. Give me a nice
question then. Don’t ruin it. Don’t ruin it with
a bad question. Go ahead. The Press: It’s really
nice to talk to you without the helicopter. I got to say that. But also, I want to
talk to you about 2014. During the Ebola crisis,
you said you wanted a “full travel ban.” You
said Obama was a “stubborn dope” not for doing it. You said, “Just stop
the flights dummies!” You also said it was a
“total joke” to appoint someone to lead the Ebola
response with, quote, “zero experience in the
medical field.” Now you’ve appointed Mike Pence. The President: They
listened to a lot of what I had to say. And they — The
Press: I did. So how does that square
with what you’re doing right now? The President: They
listened to a lot. Well, because this is a
much different problem than Ebola. Ebola, you disintegrated,
especially at the beginning. They’ve made a lot of
progress now on Ebola. But with Ebola — we were
talking about it before — you disintegrated. If you got Ebola,
that was it. This one is different. Much different. This is a flu. This is like a flu. And this is a much
different situation than Ebola. But — and we’re working
on Ebola right now, by the way. We’re working on certain
areas of the Congo. The Congo has Ebola and
caused largely by the fact that they have war and
people can’t get there. We can now treat Ebola. In that — at that time,
it was infectious and you couldn’t treat it. Nobody knew
anything about it. Nobody had ever heard
of anything like this. So it’s a much
different situation. The Press: Mr. President,
the rate of mortality — The Press: I think
it was to me. Thank you. Mr. President, let me ask
you this — The President: Yeah, go ahead. The Press: In just the
course of the last couple of minutes, you have
disputed some of what the officials that are working
in your administration behind you have said about
the risk of coronavirus and its spread. Do you trust your health
officials to give you good information? The President: Oh, sure. The Press: Or do you trust
your own instincts more? The President: I
don’t think I have. They’ve said it could be
worse, and I’ve said it could be worse too. The Press: You said
you don’t believe it’s inevitable. That contradicts what the
CDC — The President: I also think — Secretary
Azar: They said it will be worse. The President: No, I don’t
think it’s inevitable. I don’t think
it’s inevitable. I think that we’re doing a
really good job in terms of maintaining borders and
turning — in terms of letting people in, in
terms of checking people. And also, that’s one of
the reasons I’m here today: getting the word
out so people can — they’ll know. They’re going to know. No, I don’t think it’s
— I don’t think it’s inevitable. I think that there’s a
chance that it could get worse. There’s a chance it could
get fairly substantially worse. But nothing is inevitable. The Press: Mr. President,
Brazil has its first case. The President:
That’s right. Brazil. The Press: Right, Brazil. The President: Yeah. The Press: And you have
many Americans now in Brazil for Carnival. What are your concerns? And what are the
procedures and practices that you plan to implement
as those Americans are trying to come back home? The President: Yes, we’ve
gotten very strong on people coming
in from Brazil. Now, it only has one case. It’s a big country, but
it only has one case. But still, it’s a case. We deal with
Brazil very well. The President is a very
good friend of mine. In fact, he ran on exactly
— it’s called “Make Brazil Great Again.”
That’s what he ran on. We get along very well. I know you’re so
thrilled to hear that. We get along very, very
well, and we’re working with Brazil. But we have much worse
instances than Brazil. You know, you have Italy
and you have other countries where they have
much more than one person. They have one
person right now. As of now — as of just a
little while ago — one person in Brazil. But Italy is, you
know, a deeper problem. And we’re checking people
coming in very, very strongly from those. And at some point,
we may cut that off. You know, at some point,
depending on what happens, we may cut certain
additional countries off, like we’ve had
to do with China. And we hope we can open
it up to China as soon as possible. And we — and we hope the
numbers we’ve been getting — we hope the numbers
that we’ve been getting are true on China, where
it really has leveled off and started to go down,
because eventually, sometime, that’s
going to happen. Go ahead. The Press: Mr. President,
thank you very much. You’ve said repeatedly
that you think the federal government is very
prepared, that you’re ready for this. The President: Yep. The Press: But if you
think that Secretary Azar is doing such a great job,
why did you feel the need to make a change and put
Vice President Mike Pence in charge of the federal
response to this virus? The President: Because —
and I think — I think Secretary Azar is doing a
fantastic job but he also has many other things. I mean, we’re working
on many, many things together. If you look at his
schedule of what he’s doing, including drug
prices and — I think it’s perhaps the most
complicated job that we have in government. And I want him to be
able to focus on that. And Mike is
really good at it. They’re going to
work together. They’re going to work
very closely together. And they’re both in
the administration. I see them all the time,
so it really works. This isn’t a czar. This isn’t going out and
getting somebody that’s never been in the
administration. I have two people that
are very talented. And it’s something
I feel good about. I don’t want to — I don’t
want to spare the horses. I have very
talented people. I want to use them on this
because I want it to stay low or as low as possible. The Press: Mr. President. Thank you, Mr. President. I want to get to China. At the beginning of this
outbreak, the Chinese Communist Party
covered it up. That has been — that has
been the general consensus of everyone. How can you now
legitimately trust
1454
00:57:47,463 –>00:57:46,095
President Xi and the
Chinese — The President: Xi. The Press: —
Communist regime? President Xi. And the Chinese Communist
regime — The President: Took me awhile to
figure that one out. The Press: — to be
forthcoming and forthright with this pandemic? The President: Well, I can
tell you this: I speak to him; I had a talk
with him recently. And he is working so
hard on this problem. He is working so hard. And they’re very
tough and very smart. And it’s a significant —
it’s a significant group of very talented people
that are working. And they’re calling
up Dr. Fauci. They’re calling
up our people. We’re dealing with them. We’re giving them
certain advice. We actually have —
through World Health, we have them over there also. And we have a lot of our
people making up that group that went
over there. No, he’s working
very hard. It would be very easy for
me to say, you know — it doesn’t matter
what I say, really. I can tell you, he is
working — I had a long talk with him
the other night. He is working
really, really hard. He wants it to go away
from China and go away fast, and he wants to get
back to business as usual. The Press: Mr. President,
you talked about the flu and then in comparison
to the coronavirus. The flu has a fatality
ratio of about 0.1 percent. The President: Correct. The Press: This has a
fatality ratio somewhere between 2 and 3 percent. Given that and the fact — The President: Well, we think. We think. We don’t know
exactly what it is. The Press: Based on the
numbers so far — The President: And the flu
is higher than that. The flu is much
higher than that. The Press: There’s more
people who get the flu, but this is spreading —
or is going to spread, maybe, within communities. That’s the expectation. The President: It may. It may. The Press: Does that —
does that worry you? Because — The
President: No. The Press: — that seems
to be what worries the American people. The President: No, because
we’re ready for it. It is what it is. We’re ready for it. We’re really prepared. We have — as I said,
we’ve had — we have the greatest people
in the world. We’re very ready for it. We hope it doesn’t spread. There’s a chance that it
won’t spread too, and there’s a chance that it
will, and then it’s a question of at what level. So far, we’ve
done a great job. When you have 15 people,
with this whole world coming into the United
States, and the 15 people are either better or close
to being better, that’s pretty good. All right, we’ll do
— we’ll do one more. Go ahead. The Press: Mr. President,
there have been many cases of price gouging on
the sales of medical equipment,
masks, and so on. Should the government
be investigating that? The President: Yeah, I
think they — The Press: Looking into it? Do you have a
message on that? The President: If you tell
me that’s happening, we will definitely
investigate. We don’t want that. All right, one more. Go ahead. Go ahead. The Press: Mr.
President, thank you. The Press: Mr. President,
just one — The President: Go ahead. No. Yes. Go ahead. The Press: Are you working
with China right now? The President: Yes. The Press: And
specifically, in what areas? Also, do you worry about
the — The President: We’re working with China. We just did the biggest
trade deal in history. We did two of them. Between USMCA and the
China deal, it’s the biggest in history. The relationship with
China is a very good one. And I can tell you that,
again, President Xi is working really hard. He wants this
problem solved. As hard as you can work. Thank you all. Thank you all. I’m going to leave you
behind and you can answer a few more questions. So you can ask
them a few, okay? The Press: Mr. President,
are you going to do this more often? The President: Yeah. The Press: You are? The President:
Yeah, we’ll do it. If you like it,
we’ll do it. The Press: Yes. The Press: Yes, we would. The Press: Yes. We would like it. The Press: Thank you. The President:
We’ll do it. We’ll do it more often. The Press: Mr. President,
sir, do you still have — The President: Wish him —
The Press: — confidence in Secretary Azar? The President:
Wish him good luck. In who? The Press: Secretary Azar,
given the Pence move. The President: Absolutely. The Press: Do you think
the Vice President — The President: Oh, no, I have
great confidence in him. Great confidence. Secretary Azar: I think —
if I could just clarify, I think you’re not getting
the point here of this. I’m still chairman
of the task force. Mick Mulvaney has been
serving, actually, an invaluable role for me as
acting Chief of Staff, helping to coordinate
across the government with my colleagues and the
whole-of-government approach. Having the Vice President
gives me the biggest stick one could have in the
government on this whole-of-government
approach. So — The Press: So you
don’t feel like you’re being replaced? Secretary Azar:
Not in the least. I’m — I — The
President: He’s not. He’s not being. Secretary Azar: When the
— when this was mentioned to me, I said I was
delighted that I get to have the Vice
President helping me. Delighted. Absolutely. The Press: Will you answer
a few more questions, Mr. Secretary, then? Secretary Azar:
Not tonight. I testified for eight
hours today in three hearings. So maybe tomorrow, okay?

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