Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Members of the Coronavirus Task Force Hold a Press Briefing

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The President: Beautiful day outside.

And I think we have some great things to talk about.

I'll start by discussing the Federal Reserve.

As you know, it just happened minutes ago, but, to me, it

makes me very happy.

And I want to congratulate the Federal Reserve.

For starters, they've lowered the Fed rate from

what it was, which was 1 to 1.25.

And it's been lowered down to zero, to 0.25 or .25.

So it's 0 to .25.

That's a big difference.

It's quite a bit.

It's about a point.

And, in addition, very importantly, the Federal

Reserve is the -- going to be purchasing $500 billion

of treasuries and $200 billion of mortgage-backed securities.

And that number can increase.

But they're going to start with that, and that's

really good news.

It's really great for our country.

It's something that we're very happy.

I have to say this: I'm very happy.

And they did it in one step; they didn't do it in

four steps over a long period of time.

They did it in one step.

And I think that people in the market should

be very thrilled.

And that brings us -- we're the strongest

country in the world, by far, financially and every

other way.

And that brings us in line with what other countries are.

They're actually -- they actually have negative rates.

But, look, we got it down to potentially zero.

So that's a big step, and I'm very happy they did it.

And you will not hear anything bad about me

unless it's about a month or two from now.

So I congratulate the Federal Reserve.

I think it's terrific.

It just came out, just as we spoke.

I wasn't going to mention Federal Reserve or anything

else, but this came out as we were walking up.

I want to thank the people at Google and Google Communications

because, as you know, they substantiated what

I said on Friday.

The head of Google, who's a great gentleman, said --

called us and he apologized.

I don't know where the press got their fake news,

but they got it someplace.

But as you know -- this is from Google -- they put

out a release.

And you guys can figure it out yourselves.

And how that got out -- and I'm sure you'll apologize.

But it would be great if we could really give the

news correctly.

It would be so, so wonderful.

I just had a phone call with very impressive

people -- the biggest in the world, in the world of

stores and groceries and all.

And I'll give you the names: Dave Clark, Whole Foods;

Mark Clouse, CEO of Campbell Soup Company; Brian Cornell,

CEO of Target; Randy Edeker, Chairman and CEO, President

of Hy-Vee; Jeff Harmening, CEO of General Mills -- a great

company; Kevin Hourican, President and CEO of Sysco;

Craig Jelinek, CEO of Costco ; Todd Jones, CEO of Publix Super

Markets; Donnie King, Tyson Foods; David MacLennan, Chairman

and CEO of Cargill; Rodney McMullan, CEO, Chairman of

Kroger -- a big company; Doug McMillon, CEO of Walmart

-- he's been fantastic.

Doug was here, as you know, on Friday, and he

watched the market go up 2,000 points.

On Friday, it went up 2,000 -- almost 2,000 points --

Todd Vasos, CEO of Dollar General Corporation; and Vivek

Sankaran, President and CEO of Albertsons.

So these are all phenomenal companies.

These are great companies.

We had a long conversation with them.

And they've -- they're going to work 24 hours

around the clock keeping their store stocked.

I would like to say that people shouldn't go out

and buy.

We're going to all be great.

We're going to be so good.

We're going to do -- what's happened with the

Fed is phenomenal news.

What's happening with all of these incredible

companies is phenomenal news.

But you don't have to buy so much.

Take it easy.

Just relax.

People are going in and they're buying more.

I remember -- I guess, during the conversation,

Doug of Walmart said that they're buying more than

they buy at Christmas.

Relax.

We're doing great.

It all will pass.

The folks that we spoke to, they've done a fantastic job.

They're going to meet the needs of the public.

They're going around the clock, if they have to.

And they're committed to the communities where

they're serving and which they serve so beautifully

and have for a long time.

And they're buying a lot of additional things to sell.

But again, they actually have asked me to say,

"Could you buy a little bit less, please?"

I think -- I thought I'd never hear that from a retailer.

All of them are working hand-in-hand with the

federal government, as well as the state and

local leaders, to ensure food and essentials are

constantly available.

And they'll do it.

There's no shortages.

We have no shortages -- other than people are

buying anywhere from three to five times what they

would normally buy.

It's going to be there for a long time.

We're doing numbers, and there's a pent-up demand

that's incredible.

When this passes, when this goes through, you're

going to see numbers -- I think, I predict; I guess

I'm allowed to predict just like Wall Street

people are allowed to predict, and they're

pretty much in agreement -- you're going to see

there's a pent-up demand like a lot of people,

including me, haven't seen before.

But this has to get through.

They know they're getting through the crisis and

will require an all-of-America approach,

and that's very important.

They're committed to remaining open during this crisis.

Totally open.

They have to stay open.

Those stores have to stay open.

They supply our country.

Our supply chains in America are the most

powerful in the world, and they're all working very hard.

They're working around the clock.

And the stores are stocking up at a level

that's beyond Christmastime.

And it's great.

It was very reassuring speaking to these people.

They have it totally in hand.

There's no need for anybody in the country to

hoard essential food supplies.

They said to me, "Could you please tell them just

go and buy, enjoy it."

Have a nice dinner.

Relax.

Because there's plenty.

But you don't have to the quantities because it's

hard to refill the stores on a basis as rapid as

they're refilling them.

And we're using the full power of the federal

government to defeat the coronavirus, and we will

do whatever it takes.

And we're doing, I think, really, really well.

A lot of good things are going to happen.

I want to thank all of the people standing behind me.

You know, these are phenomenal people, and we

have some of them right over here.

But the people behind me have been working around

the clock, and they're doing an incredible job.

We see what's happening.

We see what's going on in other countries.

We're looking at -- we're learning from watching

other countries, frankly.

This is a very contagious -- this is a very contagious virus.

It's incredible.

But it's something that we have tremendous control over.

I think, very important, the young people and

people of good health, and groups of people, just are

not strongly affected.

Elderly people that are not well, or not well in

certain respects, are, really, a very dangerous group.

We have to watch them.

We have to protect them very much.

We have to really watch over them and protect them

because they are very vulnerable.

And with that, if it's okay, I'm just going to go

and make some calls.

I'm talking about Federal Reserve.

I think it's a tremendous thing that took place just now.

I didn't know I'd be surprised on a Sunday.

I don't know if that's ever happened on a Sunday before.

But I would think there are a lot of people on

Wall Street that are very happy.

And I can tell you that I'm very happy.

I didn't expect this, and I like being surprised.

So our Vice President, who's doing an incredible

job, is going to take over.

And I will see you probably tomorrow.

Thank you very much.

The Vice President: Well thank you, Mr. President.

And good afternoon.

With more than 2,900 cases of coronavirus in 49

states across the country, I want to assure the

American people that this administration, all of our

partners at the state level, and local health

officials have no higher priority than the health

and safety of the American public.

And at the President's direction, we will

continue not only a whole-of-government

approach, but as we'll discuss today, we'll

continue to build on a whole-of-America approach

to confront the coronavirus across the country.

The health experts continue to confirm to us

that based on the latest information, for the

American people as a whole, the risk of serious

illness remains low.

But because the risk is heavily weighted to the

most vulnerable -- to people with immunodeficiencies and to

people who are elderly with serious underlying chronic

health conditions -- our administration and, I know,

state administrations will continue to focus on the

most vulnerable.

And we will continue to urge every American to be

vigilant in practicing good hygiene and taking

the advice of the CDC and local health experts to

keep those most vulnerable safe.

I know I speak on behalf of the President and our

entire team when I say how grateful we are for

governors all across the country and the seamless

partnership that we have forged with them and with

state health officials, with our federal team.

I spoke today to Governor Pritzker of Illinois, and

we are in continuous communication with

governors a phone call away.

They know that they can contact us and address

even the smallest need, because as a former

governor, I know firsthand that when it comes to

health challenges in America, our states are on

the ground in the lead, our local health

organizations.

And we've built a great partnership.

We also want to express great appreciation to the

American people.

Not surprisingly, it is inspiring to see the way

tens of millions of Americans are responding

with compassion, with common sense.

And we want to express particular gratitude to

communities of faith that participated in today's

National Day of Prayer.

We've seen places of worship implementing

policies to keep those most vulnerable safe.

And also, we're seeing communities of faith

already stepping forward to support and to

encourage those most vulnerable.

I heard tell of a church back in Indiana that's

actually no longer having services until April 10th,

but in the meantime they'll be offering

daycare to the children of healthcare workers in

Central Indiana.

And churches all across the country are taking the

opportunity to reach out and put feet on their

faith, and it's truly inspiring.

As the President mentioned today, he spoke today to

leaders in the grocery store industry and where

people buy our food.

And we heard, and we're reminded, that America has

the most efficient and effective supply chain in

the world, and it's working just fine.

As the President said, he received a commitment from

those grocery store executives that stores

will stay open throughout the days that lie ahead.

We were told that hours may be reduced to allow

for cleaning and to resupply, but American

families can be confident your local grocery store

is going to be open; it's going to be well supplied.

And they specifically asked us to encourage

Americans: Just buy your weekly needs and grocery,

because the grocery stores will remain open.

Also, very movingly, those same executives all

reiterated their commitment to continue to

support local food banks in the way that our

grocers continue to do around America.

Tomorrow, the President and I will be briefing all

the nation's governors from states and

territories, and the District of Columbia, to

be speaking about the progress that we're making.

And we'll be speaking to them specifically about

our widening partnership on expanding testing to

the American people.

So allow me to speak to that issue, and then I'm

going to recognize Admiral Brett Giroir, who will

describe for us the excellent work the Public

Health Service is doing.

Dr. Birx will describe the importance of the new

national public-private partnership for diagnostic

testing that is going to open the door to thousands

of more tests in real time for the American people in

the days ahead.

First, some fundamentals.

As the American people know, testing is now

available in all 50 states.

Either state labs are either conducting the

tests themselves, or the CDC is processing tests.

They're using the traditional manner of a

manual test that allows for 40 to 60 tests a day.

It is among the reasons why the President, several

weeks ago, tasked this group at the White House

to reach out to commercial labs around the country

and forge that public-private partnership

that would bring the high-speed -- or more

accurately, the high-throughput testing

for coronavirus available in real time.

And based on the unprecedented speed of the

FDA, which last week approved high-throughput

coronavirus testings for Roche and Thermo Fisher,

we will now have access in the days ahead to more

than 2,000 labs across the country that have the

equipment today to process coronavirus tests much

more rapidly and a much higher volume for the

American people.

In terms of delivering those services, more than

10 states -- in addition to CDC labs, public health

labs, and labs that states can now authorize in their

states -- more than 10 states have implemented

their own drive-through testing sites.

And we want to commend New York, Colorado, Delaware,

Washington State, Texas, and others that have

implemented these on-site places where people can

obtain tests.

Most are using the current CDC testing, the manual

testing, but we are working closely with our

governors, as you will hear momentarily, to make

sure that the new testing regimen is available for

their remote sites as well.

As I mentioned, as of Monday, we will have more

than 2,000 labs coming online with the high-speed

testing, and we are connecting states to those

testing methods.

We're also working with a number of retail partners

to add to the work that states are doing around

the country, working to set up parking lot testing

centers outside of stores.

And Admiral Brett Giroir will detail the progress

that we've made over the last 72 hours.

Following the President's declaration of emergency,

the Admiral and our Public Health Service have forged

a partnership now with FEMA, made possible by

that declaration.

And they've reached out to all 50 states to create a

process that will enable all Americans who need to

be tested to go to a community-based testing

site outside of usual healthcare facilities.

The focus of these tests, as Dr. Birx will describe

momentarily, will be on those most in need.

A priority will be placed on healthcare workers and

first responders who are out there coming alongside

people that are being impacted by the coronavirus.

We want to make sure they have access to the testing

as a priority.

And then, Americans 65 or over with a cough or a

fever or other symptoms will be prioritized over

other tests that are extended.

As I mentioned, Admiral Giroir will describe the

progress that we've made in just a few moments, but

we're going to continue to work very diligently --

hour by hour, day by day -- in the days ahead to

expand testing around the country and access to this

extraordinary and unprecedented national

public-private partnership for diagnostic testing.

With regard to testing: As we expand testing, we're

so pleased that Congress joined with our administration

to make sure that cost is never going to be a barrier to anyone

getting a coronavirus test.

As you recall, several weeks ago, the President

directed a change in our Medicare and Medicaid

programs to ensure the coronavirus testing

was included.

Health insurers were brought in; they all

agreed to waive co-pays.

But because of the good bipartisan work done in

the House of Representatives, now all coronavirus testing is

free, and it's free for every American, including

uninsured Americans.

And we continue to urge passage of the legislation

that will be considered by the Senate this week.

Let me say one final word about the testing issue,

and that is that we -- as the President often says,

we're all in this together.

And it's absolutely important that as we

expand testing resources across the country,

beginning by prioritizing the areas that CDC and our

state leadership tell us are most important, it's

important that the tests are available for people

that are most in need and for our healthcare workers

and first responders that are helping them and

supporting them.

As Dr. Birx will describe, the testing that is

available should only be done if for any reason you

think you may have the coronavirus.

We encourage people to consult their doctor.

And if you're symptom-free, we encourage

you to work with us to make sure that testing is

available for people that are experiencing symptoms.

It's extremely important that we have the

continuing cooperation of every American as we

expand testing and make it available during this

challenging time in the life of our nation.

With that, I'm going to ask Dr. Birx -- oh, excuse

me, I'm going to ask Admiral Brett Giroir of

the Public Health Service and leader of this great

Commissioned Corps behind me to come up and describe

the extraordinary work that they have done over

the last 72 hours and will be doing each and every

day, in conjunction with our states, to expand

testing to community-based testing across the country

for the American people using this new

public-private partnership diagnostic testing.

Admiral?

Admiral Brett Giroir: Thank you, Mr. Vice President.

And thank you for your personal interest in

support of our team over the last 72 hours as we

worked on this critically important project.

So as the Vice President said, over the past 72

hours, we have developed and are beginning to

implement now a process and a program of testing

that will enable Americans who are in need of

coronavirus testing to be tested effectively and

efficiently according to a few principles:

Number one, we want to assure that those most

vulnerable and those impacted are able to be prioritized.

Number two, we don't want to do testing that in any

way threatens the acute care system.

In other words, we don't want people going to

hospitals and acute care clinics where, number one,

they could infect other people or subject

themselves to infections.

And number three, we want to balance the needs

across the entire healthcare system among

diagnosis but also treatment.

In other words, we want to balance the stress on the

Strategic National Stockpile and all our

commodities so that everyone gets all the

materials they need.

So what do we do?

Because, as the Vice President said, last

week's historically fast approval of high-throughput

testing, we are now in a new phase of testing.

And you've heard Dr. Fauci talk about the new phase.

So we're going from somewhat manual,

relatively slow phases, to a testing regimen that we

can test many tens of thousands to hundreds of

thousands of individuals per week and maybe even more.

We will have 1.9 million of these high-throughput

tests available this week with numerous labs, up to

2,000, starting to turn the lights on beginning

this week and rolling out over the week.

That is really a game-changer for us

because the back-of-the-shop testing capability is there.

The front of the shop is what we've been really

working on.

In order to get a test there, you've got to be

able to swab individuals, get them into the system

without completely paralyzing the entire

healthcare system as we know.

So, with the emergency declaration, this was

very, very important to us because it really enabled

the historically effective processes of working and

empowering states -- federally supported,

state-led efforts -- through the normal FEMA mechanisms.

So for the last 72 hours, representatives of FEMA

from across the government and our Commissioned Corps

have been working on joining the unique and

unprecedented public health mission with the

historically successful mission of personal -- of

distribution centers, places for distribution --

the pod system of FEMA.

Our Public Health Service -- we've already deployed

over a thousand officers in support of the

coronavirus missions.

That includes to the Diamond Princess, to the

borders, to the quarantine stations, to the acute

care settings where we're caring for nursing home

residents in Seattle.

So we have a very experienced group, and we

brought these together.

So what we've really designed in how we're

working with the states: We have contacted all 50

states through the FEMA system -- every single

region, every single state -- to understand where they are.

As the Vice President said, some states are

rolling out some of their own community-based testing.

They need to be augmented.

We believe we've created a model, based on the Public

Health and the FEMA system, that is optimized,

that can be used for drive-through or

potentially walk-through.

Each of these pod-based units, we believe, can

screen 2,000 to 4,000 individuals a day for

testing, with all the appropriate personal

protective gear, all the appropriate backend and

linkage to the public health system, including testing.

We know that we have the logistics to do that.

We know we have the materials to do that.

And again, this is federally supported

state-led efforts.

Many states need the full meal deal.

They want dozens of Public Health Service officers to

work in protective gear to actually test.

They need supplies, like protective gear; they need

swabs; they need the logistical supports.

Other states only need a fraction of that.

They may have all the personnel, but they really

need the knowhow, the template, and some of the

gear that we provide.

We are going to start implementing this system,

this week, in a number of states, primarily those

that are the hardest hit right now or are on the

rise and the CDC advises us that that's when they

need the testing.

I want to emphasize, again, that we're focusing

on two very important groups -- and you'll hear

this said three or four different ways -- and the

groups that really can be the most impacted or

impactful in our outbreak.

Number one is healthcare workers and first responders.

This is very important for two reasons.

Number one, we have to take care of the

healthcare workers and responders, because when

America needs them, they need to be available and

healthy to provide the care that we all deserve.

But it's also important that if they feel they

have a risk of having contacted [sic] coronavirus,

that we test them so they cannot spread that,

for example, in long-term care facilities where

the elderly are.

And the second group would be the elderly.

And we are classifying that, according to risk,

is those 65 years of age or older who have a

respiratory symptom and a fever of 99.6.

That's a lower number than you've seen before because

those who are older do not spike high fevers, like

children do -- 104, 105.

So you set the bar just a little bit lower.

We do that because we know that they're at high risk

of bad consequences.

And if they test positive, they could engage with

their practitioner, telehealth provider, or

get in the system to make sure they have just an

outstanding outcome.

So that is really where we are.

We've made really unprecedented progress.

You will see these sites rolling out progressively

over the week.

This is not make-believe.

This is not fantasy.

We've developed the model.

We've talked to the states.

We're focusing in on specific locations now.

We will start shipping gear, stuff, tomorrow.

We will start deploying officers tomorrow and Tuesday.

And we'll begin seeing these sites, in addition to the ones

that are springing up now, implemented during this week.

We will have the capability of testing tens

of thousands of additional people through these sites

every week, in addition to all the capability that's

now going to be distributed in the 2,000

laboratories and the major central, core laboratories.

And I know you have a number of questions that

hopefully in the question-and-answer

session we'll be able to answer for you.

But I think this is just a great linkage.

I'm a pediatric ICU doctor.

I take care of sick people.

I know what happens when you get respiratory illness.

The Surgeon General is an anesthesiologist who takes

care of people who have respiratory difficulties

and manages that.

So we know how this -- we know how this works.

We've been there.

The most important thing we've worked on right now

is making testing accessible because of the

advances of the FDA and private industry to make

these high-throughput tests.

Now we can work on the front end.

With the emergency declaration, we have all

the tools, and all of government has really come

together with industry, not just government and states.

It's really been private industry, the

manufacturers, to bring the swabs, the personal

protective gear, the laboratory testing, the

shipping, the fronts with Walgreens and Walmarts

working as potential sites.

This has been something, in my mind, that has been

unprecedented, the entire society approach working

so intensely over the past -- certainly over the past

weeks, but incredibly on this project over the past 72 hours.

The Vice President: Thank you, Admiral.

And let me say we are moving out, now that we

have the public-private partnership with the major

commercial labs.

And now you have our Public Health team as well

as FEMA moving out, connecting to the states,

to deploy these point-of-distribution

community centers.

We'll also be working closely with members of

the media and individual jurisdictions, as well as

we're working with Google and other tech companies

to make sure that there's online resources where

people will be able to readily access a

questionnaire that will walk them through the

symptoms and whether or not a test might be indicated.

And also, in the days ahead, we look forward to

that same website being able to direct people to

the nearest community center or drive-through

center that's available.

But let me introduce Dr. Deborah Birx to speak

about that patient experience and about the

importance of the right people seeking the testing

in the days ahead.

Doctor?

Dr. Deborah Birx: Thank you.

Thank you, Mr. Vice President.

Let me just start by recognizing the men and

women of the military who are serving us every day.

They are my brothers and sisters.

I was privileged to serve alongside them for quite a

long time.

But, critically, I just want to recognize at this

moment the Public Health Commissioned Corps behind me.

The Vice President -- although he didn't speak

to this -- actually went to see them yesterday at

the place where they were working, so that we

wouldn't disturb them, because of their level of

dedication and work through the last, really,

48 hours non-stop.

So, thank you.

Thank you for your work, and thank you for the work

that you brought together.

And thank you, Admiral, for explaining it so quickly.

Let me just go back to the way laboratory work is

done in the United States.

I think all of you know, when you go to your

doctor, and you need a lab test, it is either done in

your doctor's office, or it's done in the lab that

they send you to.

When we started this emergency response to this

virus, we started with what we knew, and that was

the flu platform that we use for surveillance.

It wasn't set up in your doctor's office.

It wasn't set up in our hospital laboratories.

It was set up in state and local labs and at the CDC.

Over the last two weeks, we've been working with

the groups that have served you for decades --

the commercial laboratories that you don't see, but your

specimen goes to ensure they had the full capacity to meet the

needs of the American people.

Because it wasn't going to be 50 to 100 to 1,000

tests; it was going to be tens of thousands of tests

that would be needed to be done.

And so, the last two weeks has been spent on really

getting what you are used to: the full force of the

clinical laboratories and service.

At the same time, what you heard described here is

how do we serve the needs of the people in the

community where they reside; where we know when

we're talking about people with vulnerable

conditions, immunosuppression medical conditions, or the

elderly, that we don't want them having to sit for long times in

doctor's office and hospitals' waiting rooms.

And you see what state and local governors have done

to move past what we would normally do -- a referral

to your doctor's office and to your hospital --

but really providing community-led services to

provide this testing.

What the federal government is doing is

augmenting that -- augmenting the innovation

that existed in South Korea, brought here to the

shores of the United States and brought in our

own novel way, but utilizing our healthcare

delivery system, which is different than South

Korea, and adapting our work to our system

So, to the hospitals and to the laboratories: We

know that there will be pent-up demand for this.

Make sure every hospital and every laboratory --

I'm speaking to my -- the people who work in labs,

like I did myself.

Make sure you have enough pipette tips, pipettors,

and all of the equipment that you need to run this laboratory.

You know what you need.

Make sure you have that and have that available

for these tests -- because we know with this

increased sampling, this increased ability to have

community access, additional samples will be

going to these laboratories.

They can manage the high throughput, but they need

all of the supplies that they would normally need

to run these tests.

Think of it -- if you're doing HIV viral load, same

thing: just what you need.

You know what you need; make sure you have that.

That will be run.

And the most important thing, I know, for each and

every one of you is how am I going to get my results.

And so we're making sure also that the end of

reporting is also there; that the reporting is

available to you, to your doctors, and also to the

state and local governments and the

federal government, not with your personal

identifiers, but to really understand where there are

positives, where there are negatives, so we can

ensure that healthcare providers have what they

need to meet the demands of the American people and

their health needs when they're there.

Now, let me just say one bit about reporting.

So you will notice, as these tests roll out over

this next week, we will have a spike in our curve.

For those of you who watched China and China

reporting, remember when they changed their

definition and all of a sudden there was a blip in

their curve?

We are going to see that.

We are going to see a spike as more and more

people have access.

And I want to finish by, again, reminding people

how important it is.

I know everybody is going to want to go to these

drive-throughs.

But if we could prioritize, like we have asked you to

prioritize the care of every person with a preexisting

condition and immunosuppression, and the elderly with existing

conditions -- we've asked you to prioritize them and

we ask you to prioritize them in the lines, so that

our first responders and our healthcare providers

and everybody who has difficulty to get to

doctors' offices can utilize this system while

we bring all the other traditional systems that

you're used to and have availability for you

online over the next few days and weeks.

So, thank you.

Thank you for constantly reminding us how important.

It's a response of all of America for Americans.

All of America for Americans.

It's a privilege to be part of this solution and

be part of this team.

And again, I want to close by recognizing the

Commissioned Corps.

They have spent -- I'm not sure they had anything but

pizza to eat for the last two days, but we appreciate --

Admiral Brett Giroir: Donuts.

Surgeon General Jerome Adams: Apples and bananas.

Apples and bananas.

Admiral Brett Giroir: Donuts.

[laughter]

Dr. Deborah Birx: All right, don't follow their guidance.

[laughter]

The Vice President: Dr. Fauci?

Dr. Tony Fauci: Thank you, Mr. Vice President.

I'll be very brief.

I just want to say, listening to the

description of Admiral Giroir, I'm very pleased

to see how things have evolved.

I think we could describe this as entering into a

new phase in the testing space available here in

the United States.

You've heard me, on many of these briefings, talk

about the multifaceted armamentarium that we have

to address the crisis of what the world is seeing

and the challenge that we're seeing right here in

the United States.

I mean, obviously, the travel restrictions have

been, in my mind, a very, very positive way that we

have prevented more of the input from outside in that

would seat us and make our job more difficult.

And then we have, as I mentioned, the containment

and the mitigation from within.

You're going to be hearing more about advanced

guidelines about that, more precise instructions

of how we can implement this mitigation within the community.

But now that we have a situation that is going to

be rolled out -- and remember, I want to

emphasize what was just said: We're not going to

go from here to there overnight.

It's going to be a gradual ratcheting up that I

believe is going to happen quickly so that then we

can start talking about things and put behind us

the multiple understandable questions about testing and

move on to see how we can make this multifaceted approach

really work for us.

Because as I've said many times, and I'll repeat it:

The worst is, yes, ahead for us.

It is how we respond to that challenge that's

going to determine what the ultimate endpoint is

going to be.

We have a very, very critical point now.

If you look at the curves that I've described

multiple, multiple times, this window that we're in

is going to be very important for us to stay

ahead of this curve.

Thank you.

The Vice President: Thank you, Doc.

Stay close.

Questions?

The Press: Mr. Vice President, we've seen a

number of communities across the country.

They're starting to either close restaurants; some

are even doing curfews.

Do you envision this happening, kind of,

nationwide where you'll see some rules come to

effect saying, "You know, we don't want people out

at places that are not essentially a Walmart or a

grocery store or some kind of a testing center?"

And then also, I would be curious to see -- we've

also heard so many travelers from travelers today that were

coming back from these airports, people that were

flying back; they were so concerned.

I'm sure the Secretary will address it.

But these folks that are wondering, now, did they

catch it because they were stuck waiting in line for

hours and hours in customs -- your thoughts on that, sir?

The Vice President: Well we will have updated

guidelines tomorrow morning for you that are

being vetted now with CDC and all of our top

healthcare experts.

But what I would just recommend to the American

people is to review those federal guidelines and

know that we'll also respect and defer to

decisions that are made by governors, by state health

departments about what's best for that community.

What my healthcare team -- some of the best people in

the world -- tell me very regularly is that it's

very important that you follow the data, you make

decisions based on the circumstances that are

taking place in that community.

And -- but we'll have more broad-based

recommendations for the American public tomorrow.

And let me say, I'm going to ask the Secretary to

come up and speak about the screening issue.

The President made a decision to suspend all

travel from Europe.

That is underway now, and as of midnight Monday

night, we will be suspending all travel from

the U.K. and Ireland as well.

But Americans may come home, but out of an abundance

of caution, we are engaging in healthcare screenings

at 13 different airports around the country.

We're working diligently in that regard to put the

safety of the American public first.

And we're asking returning Americans to

self-quarantine for 14 days if they've been in

those countries in Europe and, as of Monday, the U.K.

and Ireland that are being impacted by the coronavirus.

But as the Secretary and I spoke this morning --

I spoke with Governor Pritzker and Senator

Richard Durbin of Illinois this morning about some

challenges at O'Hare Airport, and I'm going to

let the Secretary speak to how we are addressing

those going forward.

Mr. Secretary?

Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: Thank you.

Well, yesterday, we began processing, again, the

travel restrictions from passengers from the

Schengen area, which totaled more than 40,000

passengers yesterday.

So to give you an idea, in one day, we processed over

half of the total number of individuals we have

processed -- medical screening -- since February 2nd.

So that is an enormous challenge that we have placed

on our officers and contract medical staff at airports.

And they are stepping up.

But to be clear, the lines, again, that we saw

overnight at a limited number of airports,

including Chicago, are unacceptable.

Acting Commissioner -- CBP Commissioner Morgan also

believes they're unacceptable and has

personally engaged leadership at all 13

funneling airports.

We did make the necessary adjustments at 12 of the

funneling airports; however, again, at

Chicago, those adjustments were not made quick

enough, but we have course corrected.

We've adjusted our processes, we continue to

surge personnel, and we are certainly glad to see

certain airports and certain airlines step up, partner

with us, and help address this unprecedented situation.

As I walked in here today -- so far, today, at all

of our funneling airports, to include Chicago, we

have an average wait time of 30 minutes.

So we addressed the problem -- we identified

the problem, addressed it, and we have fixed it.

And we look forward to, again, accommodating

passengers this evening as well.

Let me -- I understand the frustration that some

passengers who are returning to the U.S.

might have with some of these procedures.

But I would just say, and rest assured, that we are

continuing our strict protocols of looking at

individuals as they come into the country, make

sure that they are medically screened, make

sure that we are capturing the information for the

public health officials, the state and local officials.

And we'll continue to do that.

and we've done that specifically at the

President's request.

Thank you.

The Press: Mr. Secretary, has there been any talk,

sir, of any sort of shutdown of domestic air

travel at all?

Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: Well, we continue to

look at all options, and all options remain on the

table to address.

And we'll certainly adjust as the medical

professionals at CDC address the medical situation.

The Vice President: Very good.

Good job.

The Press: Mr. Vice President, Dr. Fauci this

morning said that the federal government should

do whatever it takes to increase Americans' social

distancing and encourage that practice.

He didn't rule out the possibility of a

national lockdown.

If Americans don't take those steps on their own,

is that something that the federal government is

prepared to do?

And secondly, I'd also like to know -- you know,

the President -- we just heard him say,

"Americans should relax."

Why aren't we hearing more from him about what

Americans can do as they are seeing this huge

impact on their daily lives, whether it's at airports,

or at restaurants, or other places around the country?

The Vice President: Well, everything that the White

House Coronavirus Task Force does is at the

direction of the President of the United States.

And all the efforts of all federal agencies, in

cooperation with state governments and local

health officials, is reflective of the decisive

leadership the President has brought this early on.

It's important to remember that the President, on

January 31st, suspended all travel from China.

I said to Dr. Fauci -- who I'll call up to address

your other question in a moment -- I said to

Dr. Fauci today, as we look at Europe now being

the epicenter of the coronavirus, that -- I

asked him, if we had not suspended all travel from

China, what our circumstance would be.

And he essentially said, "We'd be where Europe is today."

And the President also took the actions with

regard to Europe and recently expanded those.

So the American people can be confident that

President Trump is going to continue to act without

hesitation on the advice of our healthcare

professionals to put the health and safety of the

American people first.

But with regard to the statement that you made,

I'm going to let Dr. Fauci address that as well.

Dr. Tony Fauci: Yeah, I meant everything I said

this morning, on the shows: that, really, to

protect the American people, we'll consider

anything and everything on the table.

You're going to see some advanced and updated

guidelines tomorrow.

They're going to address some but not all of the

questions and concerns.

But on a day-by-day basis, we look at this and,

literally, we will do everything that we can to

make sure we safeguard the health and the wellbeing

of the American people.

And that means everything and anything we'll consider.

The Press: For Dr. Fauci, could you give us some examples?

You say "anything, everything."

Like what?

Dr. Tony Fauci: Like -- like -- like --

The Press: Like what Europe is doing?

No bars, no restaurants?

Dr. Tony Fauci: That could be.

Absolutely.

I mean, that could be.

The Press: But if new guidance is coming

tomorrow, can you give us a more concrete idea right now?

You must know what it is.

Dr. Tony Fauci: I don't want -- no, what I don't

want to do is I don't want to, you know, jump ahead

of the guidance.

I promise you: Let the guidance come out; we'll

be here every day.

I'll answer the question after the guidance, I promise you.

The Press: Mr. Vice President, what is your

plan to build more hospital beds so tens of

thousands of Americans don't die?

And how many more ventilators are you

looking at ordering so people don't suffocate?

The Vice President: Well let me let the Secretary

step up.

I know that there's long-term planning that

takes place at HHS for those circumstances.

And when I traveled to HHS yesterday, we reviewed all

the numbers about stockpiles, everything

from masks to ventilators to gowns.

Mr. Secretary, you might just speak about capacity issues.

And let me say it's a very good question on your part.

Right now, our focus, as the White House

Coronavirus Task Force, is to have widespread testing

across the country, using this new partnership with

our commercial labs that the President has forged,

and work with states to make those tests available.

We're also going to continue to work every

single day to promote best practices for mitigation,

working closely with and supporting state

governments for decisions that they're making on

mitigation to prevent the spread.

But the whole issue of personal protective

equipment and supplies and the capacity of our

healthcare system is in the forefront of what

we're talking about every day, and the Secretary can

address it.

Secretary Alex Azar: Than you very much.

First, being here at the podium, I just want to

especially talk about the people in blue behind me.

These are the leaders of the United States Public

Health Service Commissioned Corps that I am incredibly

privileged to lead -- over 3,000 of them.

America's public health warriors.

Whether it's going into the Eastern Congo or

Western Africa to fight Ebola, or if it's staffing

the nursing home in Kirkland, being on the

World Health Organization team in China, or helping

to facilitate community-based testing,

these are America's public health heroes.

And I just -- they rarely -- in fact, I doubt that

there has ever been a time in American history where

the leadership of the Public Health Service

Commissioned Corps has had the privilege of standing

here on this stage behind the President and Vice

President of the United States.

I just wanted to commend that.

In terms of our capacities in our healthcare system,

any pandemic like this runs the risk of exceeding

our healthcare system capacity, and we must

acknowledge that.

That is precisely why the President and Vice

President's strategy is as Dr. Fauci has repeatedly

spoke: to delay and flatten the curve.

The point of this is, instead of a spike of the

curve, to delay and flatten that curve with

the hope that you can keep the utilization of

resources to be within the healthcare system's capacities.

In addition to that, the entire point of our

pandemic planning, over the last 15 years, has

been to put extra flex into our healthcare system.

That's why we have hospital preparedness

grants that we fund every year through our

preparedness program.

That's why we have in our Strategic National

Stockpile ventilators, field hospital units --

like MASH units, if you'll remember those -- that

have capacity for hundreds of individuals.

In terms of supplies, obviously this is an

unprecedented challenge.

Unprecedented.

And so we will work to increase the supplies of

personal protective equipment, of ventilators,

of field medical unit hospitals that we can deploy.

We have tremendous supplies, but we want to acquire more.

And that's thanks to the bipartisan work of

Congress funding the emergency supplemental that gives us

the money to scale up production here and abroad.

And we're doing that.

We don't disclose concrete numbers on particular

items for national security purposes, but we

have many ventilators -- thousands and thousands of

ventilators in our system.

We have received, so far, only, I think, one request

for just several ventilators.

One of the things in terms of hospital capacity

that's going to be really important -- it's a really

good learning from China that we got from the World

Health Organization team that went there -- is if

we have communities where we have enough capacity

where we can put people who are positive with

COVID-19 and have them be exclusively reserved for

individuals who are positive for COVID-19,

this reduces our need to try to protect our

patients from other patients, because they're

all positive already.

We need to protect our healthcare workers and our

service workers in those facilities.

This gives us reduced burden on personal

protective equipment, but it also can give us

greater capacity as we put field medical shelters up,

as we consolidate into single facilities, as we

don't need individual rooms, negative airflow,

isolation, et cetera.

A vastly more efficient utilization of our

healthcare system.

This is all part of the planning work that we've done

and are promulgating throughout our healthcare system.

So that's our strategy.

We're going to keep building that capacity, though.

The Vice President: Very good.

Thank you, Mr. Secretary.

Go ahead.

The Press: Mr. Vice President, you talked

briefly about trying to make information more

accessible online.

So can you give us a timetable for when you

think a website will be available based on your

conversations with Google?

And secondly -- and this might be to the broader

team -- can you also talk specifically about how

many of these tests have been sent out to states

and how many you still have to send out?

The Vice President: Well let me say that we're

working with Google, but we're working with many

other tech companies.

And we're truly grateful for the efforts of tech

companies in disseminating best practices and

guidance for citizens online, all over the country.

And today, those resources are available and it --

we've literally heard not only from Google, but from

Facebook and Amazon.

And the public spiritedness that's been

reflected there is a credit to those great

companies and a credit to all the dedicated

Americans who work there.

Our best estimate -- and, literally, the team has

been working around the clock since Friday -- is

that at some point, early in the week, that we will

have a website that goes up, the purpose of which

will be for people to go and first fill out a

questionnaire so that they can identify whether they

fall in the category that Dr. Birx described would

indicate the need to have a test.

And then, once they go through that questionnaire,

then our objective is: As more and more of these sites come

online -- run by state governments, working in

cooperation with our team, our Public Health Service team,

and FEMA, and also working in cooperation with local

businesses and retailers -- that people will know how to not only

find it, but also the objective would be for

them to literally be given a time that they can go

and report for the test.

But let me let the Admiral speak to the timing on the

testing and unpack that for you.

Admiral Brett Giroir: So in our design, I just want

to emphasize, we talk about testing and we talk

about so many things, but we're really talking about people.

And we're trying to make this a very person-centric

experience to easily access the system, to give

clear guidance about how to go, when to go --

information that, even if you're not really

indicated for testing, information you need to

help protect yourself and your family.

And then on the back end, very customized reporting,

and we're talking, literally, about having

telephonic services to call individuals who've

been tested, let them know "yes," "no," and what the

next steps are.

So we've tried to really envision this through a

patient experience.

Now, let me talk about the testing.

Progressively over this week, there will be

rollout to different laboratories of

approximately 1.9 million tests.

There are many centralized laboratories, the behind

the curtain that you never see after you give your blood.

And you saw some of the CEOs in the Rose Garden

last week, like Quest and LabCorp, that are fully

able, ready to run -- they have been testing already

-- but fully able, ready to run, within the first

part of this week, the very high-throughput testing.

The 2,000 laboratories that are around the

country that have a different platform, one

that's amenable to so many labs -- not the big,

hugest, highest output, but very high-throughput

laboratories -- are progressing.

They have to adapt the test slightly to their --

to the machines and get used to this.

They will start lighting up Monday, Tuesday,

Wednesday, Thursday.

I can't give you the precise timeline, except

it has been an absolute priority of the laboratory

associations, of Thermo Fisher, the company that

made this test.

You heard the President predict that it might be

approved within 24 hours, on Friday.

I think it was five hours after that, in the middle

of the night, that the FDA approved that.

And that's the one that's going to be widely

disseminated -- a high throughput that's going to

be available.

So I know you want a specific time when.

These will light up progressively over the week.

When that happens, there will be a centralized

opportunity, like in the Quest and the LabCorp.

There will also be distributed opportunities,

like in all the major hospital systems and labs

that are in your area.

And then that number of 1.9 million goes up

dramatically in the weeks coming forward.

I'm not going to say that the lab testing issue is

over because it's not.

It's entering the next phase.

But the much higher priority now is now that

we have the testing available, how do we get

people into the system to be tested in the

appropriate prioritized way.

And that's what we've really been focused on:

information; website; points-of-distribution

model that are tried and true; enabling the state,

providing them with equipment, supplies,

know-how and Commissioned Corps officers as needed

to help man these or staff these as we move forward.

So you'll see this rapidly developing over the week.

The Press: Mr. Vice President, market futures

are down despite the dramatic move from the Fed

that the President applauded, which suggests

that there's still concern about -- that we haven't

done enough to respond to the economic impact of

this deal -- or of the coronavirus.

I'm wondering when specifically we're going

to hear from the White House about how you're

going to impact -- or help impacted industries, from

the airlines to the cruise ships.

And then, secondly, I wanted to talk about the

legislation that came out.

The White House fought to exclude workers at larger

corporations from paid sick leave.

And so I'm wondering what you say to, you know,

somebody who flips burgers at McDonald's or works at

one of these large chains that's worried about

staying home and potentially missing a paycheck.

The Vice President: Well first, let me say we

strongly support the house legislation, which while

it gives some flexibility to small businesses --

which will be reflected in the regulations going

forward -- no American workers should worry about

missing a paycheck if they're feeling ill.

And if we can't say often enough to our fellow

Americans: If you're sick with a respiratory

ailment, stay home.

And as you've heard here today, over the course of

this next week we're going to see testing become much

more widely available, beginning in the areas the

CDC will focus us as the highest priority.

But working with members of Congress, we've made

sure that not only is testing free, but we have

every confidence that the extension of paid and

family leave to Americans will be extended in a way

that it'll -- it should give every American that confidence.

And let me say with regard to the economy as a whole:

I think the Treasury Secretary has been working

very diligently on the President's behalf.

We had the supplemental -- $8.3 billion bill.

The House has now acted on important legislation that

we fully support, and we hope the Senate takes it

up this week.

But whether it be the airline industry or the

cruise line industry or the hotel industry, as the

Secretary said recently, we are in just the first

few innings of this effort.

And the President has directed us to bring the

full weight of the federal government to bear to

confront this crisis, first and foremost, on

behalf of the health and safety of the American public.

But strengthening our economy, ensuring that

those vital industries will be able to find their

way through and grow strongly once this

coronavirus has passed will be a priority.

And we're already in discussions with members

of Congress in both parties about that next

phase of the support.

But let me say, as I close, we will be back in

the morning tomorrow for a briefing.

And also, we'll have a health briefing in the afternoon.

But again, I know I speak on behalf of the President

when I say how grateful we are for all the governors

in the country, for all the local health officials

-- everyone that's coming alongside Americans.

We encourage every American to continue to

use best practices and common sense.

Even if you're not in a high-risk category, as the

vast majority of Americans are, remember those people

around you who may well be.

Remember those seniors with underlying health conditions.

That's the reason why you need to keep washing your

hands, you need to keep practicing good hygiene,

cleaning those counters and surfaces to make sure

that we don't convey the coronavirus to them.

And finally, let me also just -- let me add to all

the wonderful accolades of the Public Health Service

personnel behind me.

These are all heroes.

And I have to tell you, having been over at HHS

yesterday, having seen the way these people drop

everything and are rolling into this effort to expand

testing across the country, it'll be these

people in these blue uniforms that you see at

an awful lot of these points of distribution,

these community centers around the country.

And for all they're doing today and for all each one

of them have done throughout their career,

I know they have the thanks of this President, his

Vice President, and the American people. 1297 00:59:18,655 Thank you.

The Description of Members of the Coronavirus Task Force Hold a Press Briefing