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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
And we've built a great partnership.
We also want to express great appreciation to the
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 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
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
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
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
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
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
And now you have our Public Health team as well
as FEMA moving out, connecting to the states,
to deploy these point-of-distribution
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
Dr. Deborah Birx: All right, don't follow their guidance.
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.
The Vice President: Thank you, Doc.
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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."
Dr. Tony Fauci: Like -- like -- like --
The Press: Like what Europe is doing?
No bars, no restaurants?
Dr. Tony Fauci: That could be.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
The Press: Mr. Vice President, you talked
briefly about trying to make information more
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
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,
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
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.