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

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The Vice President: Good afternoon.

We just completed today's lengthy meeting of the

White House Coronavirus Task Force and, at the

President's direction, have continued to

implement his whole-of-government

approach to bring the full resources of the federal

government to bear to confront the spread of the

coronavirus in the United States.

Let me begin, as always, by saying that according

to all the experts gathered here and on our

task force, the risks of the American public of

contracting the coronavirus remains low.

But that being said, we're continuing to lean into

this effort in full partnership with state and

local health authorities around the country to

ensure that we do everything to prevent the

spread of the disease, to mitigate its expansion,

and to provide necessary treatment to Americans

that have been impacted.

But first, let me turn my attention -- before we

speak about some of our broader efforts and hear

from some members of the task force -- to an issue

that I know is on the hearts and minds of people

across the country.

The Grand Princess cruise ship has been moored off

the coast of California since Wednesday night.

I want to commend the efforts of our Coast Guard

that heroically flew coronavirus tests to the


And we received those results.

Working in close consultation with Governor

Gavin Newsom and the state of California, we have

developed a process for addressing our findings

and resolving the circumstances facing

Americans and people from around the world and the

crew on the Grand Princess.

First the results: Among those tested, 46 persons

were swabbed, 21 of those on the ship tested

positive for the coronavirus, 24 tested

negative, 1 test was inconclusive.

Again, let me say: Twenty-one -- twenty-one

individuals on the Grand Princess tested positive.

Among those were 19 crewmembers and 2


And it's important -- The Press: Among the positive?

The Vice President: It's important to note -- The

Press: Sorry.

Among the positives?

The Vice President: Yes.

Among those positive for coronavirus were 19

crewmembers and 2 passengers.

It's important to note that the Grand Princess

actually was on its second tour and we know of

coronavirus infections from the first tour as

well with very, very difficult results.

In the wake of these findings today, we've been

working through the day with Governor Newsom and

his administration -- through their unified

command efforts in California, CDC, and HHS

-- and we have developed a plan which will be

implemented this weekend to bring the ship into a

noncommercial port.

All passengers and crew will be tested for the


Those that need to be quarantined will be


Those that require additional medical

attention will receive it.

Let me assure the American public, as we did so with

Americans returning from China and those returning

from the other cruise ship: We are taking all

measures necessary to see to the health of the

Americans and those involved on the Grand

Princess and, just as importantly, to protect

the health of the American public and prevent the

spread of the disease through communities in

this country.

It is -- we are instituting the strongest

testing protocols to ensure that not only those

on board receive the treatment that they need,

but that the American people can be confident

that there will be no erosion in our

preventative measures and efforts to keep the

coronavirus from spreading throughout our country.

I want to express our gratitude to Governor

Newsom and the state of California for their full


Not just in dealing with the Grand Princess, but

throughout the advent of the coronavirus,

California has been a strong partner.

And as I just told the governor a few moments

ago, we will continue to work very closely with his

administration and we will continue to put the health

and safety of America first.

With that, let me turn my attention to the issue of

testing, which has been much in the news of late,

and the President spoke about it just a few

moments ago at CDC.

It's very important to note that, because of

President Trump's decisive leadership, that the risk

to the American public of contracting the

coronavirus does remain low.

But nevertheless, in Washington State, where I

visited yesterday with members of our team, and

in California, we have seen, as Dr. Fauci often

describes, community transmission still less

than 200 cases across the country.

And the good news is most Americans who've

contracted this disease are being treated and

recovering and on the road to recovery.

Sadly, we all know of the loss of life and we grieve

that along with their families.

But the American people deserve to know that we

are ready and that, because of the President's

leadership and because of extraordinary efforts by

CDC and Health and Human Services and our partners

in state labs around the country, we have the

testing necessary to be able to provide tests to

all the states that have requested it.

As I said yesterday, we've been able to provide tests

to all the state jurisdictions and labs

that have requested it.

And I'm pleased to report that all state labs have

the test.

And now, because of the change that President

Trump implemented at the FDA a week ago, now state

labs can actually conduct coronavirus tests


Beyond that, between March 2nd and 5th, we

distributed more than 900,000 tests across the

country, including 200,000 that could allow 75

individual patients -- 75,000 individual patients

to be tested.

As the Secretary of HHS just described, by

tomorrow another 200,000 tests will be shipped.

And by the weekend, another million tests will

be shipped around the country, with the

expectation that at the end of next week, 4

million tests will be shipped.

We've been able to respond to the request of states

that have been impacted by the coronavirus.

But as I said yesterday, to meet future demand,

this week, the President brought together the

leading commercial labs in America and asked them to,

in effect, partner with the United States in

developing tests for the American people.

And I'm proud to say that, just in the last 24 hours,

LabCorp, Quest -- two of America's leading

commercial laboratories -- have announced the test

will be available by Monday of this week.

The reason that's important and the reason

that meets future demand is because the enormous

capacity of these commercial laboratories

and others in the country are precisely how we will

make coronavirus tests available for your local

doctor, available to your pharmacy, and broadly

available to the American public.

Tomorrow, Dr. Steve Hahn at the FDA will come to

this room and brief in specific our efforts with

regard to testing to assure the American public

that every effort is being made to provide testing

resources not just for state laboratories, not

just for universities, not just for hospitals in

affected areas, but with the announcement of these

major commercial labs, we trust, in a matter of

weeks, the coronavirus tests will be broadly

available to the public and available to any

American that is symptomatic and has a

concern about -- about the possibility of having

contracted the coronavirus.

We've made great progress, but there is much work to

be done.

Over the course of this weekend, I'll be traveling

to Florida to meet with cruise line executives.

We'll be discussing with them, in particular, what

additional measures our cruise lines could take to

ensure the health and safety of the American

public, and I look forward to those conversations


I want to introduce Dr. Fauci for comment, and

then I'll also introduce the Admiral and Bob Kadlec

about -- about our plans with regard to the cruise


But let me make -- let me make one last comment, if

I may, before we hear from other members of the task


I've said it twice, let me say it again: The general

risk to the American public remains low.

But if you are an individual with a serious

underlying health condition or -- and are

elderly, it's important to take precautions and use

common sense, particularly as it relates to travel.

We want to recognize, from the experience now of two

cruise ships, that cruise ships represent a unique

challenge for health officials, and so we would

ask elderly Americans to use common sense and

caution in planning any cruise ship vacation in

the future.

But they can be assured we're going to be working

closely with some great American companies in the

cruise line industry to enhance and strengthen the

screening procedures that take place as passengers

board and as they disembark.

With that, let me -- let me yield it for a few

moments to Dr. Fauci and then we'll hear from other

members of the task force about the Grand Princess,

as well as testing.

Dr. Fauci?

Dr. Fauci: Thank you very much, Mr. Vice President.

I just want to take the opportunity, very briefly

-- last time I was here at the podium, we were

talking about what the Vice President said about

the risk of getting infected and how we need

to distinguish that from if you are infected.

Like the unfortunate situation that we've seen

in Seattle and what we're seeing on cruise ships is

that, in that group of people who get infected,

the ones who are clearly the most vulnerable to

getting the complications of serious disease and

even death are people with underlying conditions,

particularly among the elderly with underlying

conditions, and those are heart disease, lung

disease, kidney disease, diabetes, et cetera.

So what I'd like to do today is sort of like

publicly answer a question that I get asked all the

time now -- is that if you are a person with an

underlying condition, the conditions that I just

mentioned -- particularly if you're an elderly

person with that -- as the Vice President said,

beyond even cruise ships, to just use the common

sense of trying to protect yourself because you're

the most vulnerable.

That is often referred to as "social distancing."

And what we mean by that is: If you're a person who

is in that category, think twice, even before you get

on a plane for a long trip or you want to travel or

you want to go to a place that's crowded where there

may be people who, in fact, have an infection of

any sort.

That doesn't necessarily have to be even

coronavirus; it could be influenza or anything like


So I want to publicly answer the question that I

keep getting asked in a private situation.

If you're in that category or if you're the family of

individuals in that category, take care to try

and take care of the most vulnerable among them.

And there are simple things that you can do --

practical, common sense -- about not putting yourself

in a situation, whatever that might be, that might

increase the risk, given your situation.

Thank you.

The Vice President: Thank you, Dr. Fauci.

With that, I'd like to introduce Vice Admiral

Abel, who -- again, the Coast Guard did heroic

work transporting tests to the Grand Princess and is

going to play a key role as we implement -- as we

implement the process of resolving the impasse on

the ship.


VICE ADMIRAL ABEL: Thank you, Mr. Vice President.

First of all, we'd like to send our appreciation out

to the members of the 129th Air Rescue and

Recovery Wing California Air National Guard that

played a key role last night in getting the test

kits out to the ship, retrieving those test


It's great to have shipmates like that, that

stand by our side when the nation needs it.

The Coast Guard looks forward to

operationalizing the best risk mitigation plan

that's developed on medical science from the

state, local, and federal level, and we use our

captain of the port authorities to direct to

ship to execute that plan.

Thank you.

The Vice President: And Bob Kadlec is the

Assistant Secretary who's been -- Assistant

Secretary Kadlec: Thank you, sir.

The Vice President: -- coordinating the

preparedness and the response to the Grand


Assistant Secretary Kadlec: Thank you very

much, Mr. Vice President, and good evening everyone.

I just want to just say, first of all, thanks to

Governor Newsom and his staff at the state health

office and emergency management in California.

They've been extraordinary, great

partners not only during this event, as we're

developing a concept of operations and planning

to, if you will, disembark passengers from that ship

safely and effectively, ensuring that their safety

as well as the community that they will be coming

into will be protected, but I just want to say

that they've been great partners throughout this.

They've been critical in our repatriation efforts

from Wuhan, as well as from the Diamond Princess

ship in Japan.

And, again, the details are becoming more apparent

and we'll brief you as those become more firm.

But I just want to say: This is a whole government

of effort.

We're working with Department of Defense,

with the Coast Guard, Department of Homeland

Security, our colleagues at CDC, as well as the

state and local authorities in California

to ensure that we can bring those people home

safely, as well as and as quickly as possible.

Thank you.

The Vice President: Great.

Dr. Birx, did you want to speak to our plan with

regard to that?

Dr. Birx: Thank you.

Thank you, Mr. Vice President.

So this will be a comprehensive plan that,

like our other -- Diamond Princess -- was a

comprehensive approach to ensure the health and

welfare of all of our citizens.

As Dr. Fauci discussed, we know many of the people on

the cruise ship are in their 60s, 70s, and 80s,

and we want to make sure -- as we know that that's

a more vulnerable group -- that we pay special

attention to anybody who has any comorbidities or

other conditions.

And so we're working very hard with the people on

the ship and the medical team there to make sure

that their health and welfare is prioritized.

Thank you.

The Vice President: Good.

And Dr. Stephen Hahn, with the FDA, for the latest on

the availability of testing.

Dr. Hahn: Thank you, Mr. Vice President.

Just as a reminder about this test: This is a swab

test, not a point of care test.

We discussed that yesterday, but that's the

component of this test.

It is a test that's been developed by the CDC,

based upon their first obtaining the genetic

sequence of the virus.

That test is very high quality.

We have high confidence in that test.

That test is now available in all public health labs,

as described by the Vice President.

In response to the demand that we're seeing for the

test, we are increasing the supply of this test as

described by the Vice President.

And we believe that that will be available

significantly across the country, and I can provide

more details tomorrow just for specific numbers, if

you will.

As of yesterday, the CDC test was shipped out --

900,000 tests.

We have another 200,000, which we expect to be

shipped out tomorrow, and they've gone through the

quality assurance process.

Another 1 million tests will be quality assessed

this weekend and we expect those to go out early next


We expect further surge test capacity beyond that,

by the end of next week.

And again, I'm really happy to provide details.

The Press: How many have been tested so far?

Can you say that?

Dr. Hahn: So I think that's a question that

should probably be addressed to the CDC for

the most accurate number.

Thank you.

The Vice President: Thank you.


And state labs.


The Press: Where do you expect the -- where do

expect these people to be quarantined?

And why -- of 19 crew members, 2 passengers, why

so many crew were infected?

The Vice President: Well, we're going to get to the

bottom of it, but it's very likely that the crew

on the Grand Princess was exposed on two different

-- two different outings.

And we know the coronavirus manifested

among the previous passengers.

And so we'll -- we'll find that out.

But we will be testing everyone on the ship.

We will be quarantining as necessary.

But with regard to the 1,100-member crew, we

anticipate that they will be quarantined on the

ship, will not need to disembark.

But let me -- let me refer to Secretary Kadlec to


We're working, literally, hour by hour with the

Department of Defense and with the state of

California to identify the military bases where we'll

do the testing of the remaining passengers.

Assistant Secretary Kadlec: Yes, sir.

Thank you.

And it is truly evolving right now.

Obviously, there've been bases that've been

identified before -- Travis, Lackland.

And we're working with the Department of Defense to

identify the appropriate settings -- again,

realizing that we're trying to ensure both the

safety of the passengers and the safety of

communities that are around them.

So, happy to answer any more questions.

Thank you.

The Press: Vice President, AIPAC, in just the last

little while, send out a notification to people who

attended the conference to say two people from New

York who attended the conference have tested

positive for coronavirus.

Are you concerned that the virus is now here in

Washington, D.C.? And as a lot of members of Congress

attend AIPAC, are you concerned that some

members of Congress may have contracted the virus?

The Vice President: Well, let me say that's the

first I've heard of it, in the midst of a busy day.

And we will be engaged, I'm confident, in the same

contract -- contact tracing that we are for

any case.

But maybe -- maybe Dr. Fauci could speak to

the concern about the nation's capital that you


Dr. Fauci: Yeah.

You know, again, when you have lack of information,

it's tough to make anything definitive.

But, obviously, if you have someone who is here,

I mean, the risk of there being a major outbreak,

obviously -- which everybody thinks about.

But what will happen is that those individuals

that were infected will have contact tracing.

And that's the public health "weapon," if you

want to call it, that we have -- namely, to get

those people isolated and to do the contact tracing.

We don't have enough information now because

this is the first that I've actually heard about

it also, with a busy day.

So, as soon as we get further information, we'll

be happy to share that with you.

The Press: Mr. Vice President, the President,

just a short while ago, said that anybody that

needs a test can have a test; they're all set.

Can we drill down on that?

When exactly will a person who feels like they may

have coronavirus, can they go into their doctor's

office and get a test?

In addition to that, Mr. Vice President, just a

short while ago, the President described

Governor Inslee of Washington State, who you

just met with yesterday, as a "snake."

He also described the coronavirus test --

compared it to the phone call that he had with the

leader of Ukraine.

Is the President addressing the situation

with the seriousness it requires?

The Vice President: Well, I promise you, President

Trump has no higher priority than the health

and safety of the American people.

And he's assembled an extraordinary group of

Americans and agencies.

I'm a little more than a week into leading the

White House coronavirus effort, and I couldn't be

more proud and more impressed with the team

that the President assembled.

But I think your first question is a very

important one, Jim, and I appreciate it.

The President is exactly right that, for the state

laboratories, for the communities that have been

impacted that have concerns about the

coronavirus, we have been able to respond to

requests for tests.

And, literally, you can hear that the tests that's

been made available since the first of this month

literally amounts in the hundreds of thousands and

millions of tests.

But for the American public to have access to

the coronavirus test, it's the reason why President

Trump brought in, this week, all of the CEOs of

the top commercial laboratories in the


They're the ones that we believed could spin up a

new test very rapidly.

They have enormous logistics and

manufacturing capabilities.

And we said to them, "We want you to work

together," because while all state labs can now

conduct their own tests -- and as I've described and

as Dr. Hahn described, we've distributed hundreds

of thousands; in fact, over a million tests

around the country -- to get it all across the

American people to your local doctor, to your

pharmacy, to what when my kids were little, we used

to call the MedCheck.

It's going to require these commercial labs.

And the good news is -- it didn't get too widely

reported -- but both LabCorp and Quest, two of

the largest commercial labs in the country, just

announced that, by Monday, they will have tests

available for distribution and sale across the


The Press: And if I could just follow up.

Mr. Vice President, if somebody is feeling ill

this weekend and they go to the doctor on Monday,

can the doctor request a coronavirus test -- any

American in the country?

Or are we not at that point?

I just want to make sure that it's crystal clear in

terms of what the expectations are.

The Vice President: Well, I think for any American

that is symptomatic, speaking to your doctor if

you have reason to believe that you have been exposed

to the coronavirus.

I have every confidence that your physician would

contact state health officials and have access

to the state lab.

We've made those tests available to the state


I've spoken to Governor Roy Cooper of North

Carolina today.

I spoke to Governor Brian Kemp of Georgia last


And we've been working hard to make sure that

where we have suspected cases, that we've been

making tests available.

But you make a very fair point about -- the wider

availability to doctors and physicians and clinics

will happen, we believe, because of the

collaboration that President Trump forged

with our commercial labs.

And the great news is, as they announced yesterday,

by Monday, two of the largest commercial labs in

America announced they will have tests and begin

to take them to market.

The Press: Thank you, Mr. Vice President.

Two questions if I could: one on workers and one on


The first one on workers.

There are a lot of Americans who are worried

about losing wages if they're forced to stay

home because they're not on a regular salary.

Is the White House preparing any sort of

economic mitigation effort for workers who suffer

wage losses here?

And the second one is on family, which is: You're

telling people to stay home if they feel sick.

The Vice President: Right.

The Press: What's your advice to parents of

children who might have a lot of vulnerable people

in their households?

Should they be quarantining themselves

with their children in the house, or do they need to

be quarantining themselves somewhere else, away from

their own families and children?

The Vice President: Well, with regard to your first

question, I will tell you that I've been very

inspired at the response of businesses around this

country and their sensitivity and

decision-making about Americans who are

potentially impacted by the coronavirus.

But I will tell you, in the days ahead, when I was

on Capitol Hill this week meeting with Republicans

and Democrats in the House and the Senate, we talked

about should this become much more a -- much more

widespread in the country.

There were recommendations from Congress, which I

know we would carefully consider.

But let me -- your second question, I think, might

be the most important one asked, and that is: For

families, what are the best practices at home?

And I'd like to ask Dr. Birx to address that.

Dr. Birx: That's an excellent question.

I come from a multi-generational


I have nine-month-old, two-year -old


My parents live in the same household -- they're

91 and 96 -- and my daughter and husband are


And I think this is a very critical question and it's

why, over the last week, we've really been focused

on who is the most vulnerable and who needs

to be protected, and ensuring that every family

understands that.

And I think your question is critical because it

comes back to what Dr. Fauci said.

If they follow good handwashing techniques; if

they ensure that everything is washed, that

is used with the grandparents; if they

ensure that the children, if ill, are kept away from

the grandparents and somewhat separated in the

household with strong cleaning and other

handwashing and hand-touching pieces, this

is what social distancing can occur in the


And that's really the focus that we have: that

every household has the capacity in order to

ensure the health and welfare of their elderly

and others with medical conditions.

And I don't want to -- I want to make sure we've

also emphasized that, because anyone that has an

immunodeficiency, independent of age, is

someone else that we have to be very careful with in

ensuring that we're protecting them.

The Press: Should they be sending those family

members who are not infected to stay somewhere


So if you've got a couple of kids, one who's

infected and the other ones are not, should you

send the ones who are still healthy somewhere

else, or do you need to quarantine everybody in

the family in the same house at the same time?

Because that sounds a little scary.

Dr. Birx: I'm looking at Dr. Fauci, and I think

that's a great question.

And we're going to -- we're going to talk about

that, and I don't want to give you -- (laughs) --

Dr. Fauci: I don't -- I don't think there really

is a decisive answer about that.

It depends upon the feasibility of do you have

some place to put the child.

I think that if you're in a situation where you

really cannot do it, then you just sort of say,

well, I'm going to keep them both together,

realizing that with children -- and this gets

back to what I just said a little while ago -- the

risk of there being a problem of infection with

the children is really very low, if you look at

all of the reports from every place -- from China,

from Italy, from Korea.

It's the same.

The Press: Mr. Vice President, following on an

earlier question: If, today, any American who

wants to test cannot currently get a test, when

do you -- when is that target date?

When do we expect any American who wants a test

to, same day, be able to get it?

The Vice President: Let me ask Dr. Hahn to respond to


But when we met with the major commercial labs, in

addition to -- I want to emphasize that again:

Because of the -- because of the changes that the

FDA made, now all state labs can perform a

coronavirus test.

And I spoke to one governor about that today,

and we clarified that with them.

We've distributed these kits -- hundreds of

thousands, and over a million tests and more to


But to get the test widely distributed across the

country, I couldn't be more grateful that our

commercial labs have already announced -- two

of the leading commercial labs in America -- that

they'll create a product.

But let me talk to -- let me let you talk to

Dr. Hahn because the FDA is in the process of

working with those companies, and see if

Dr. Hahn has a sense.

But I remember that they told us, given their

enormous production capability, that in a

matter of weeks, not months, that we could be

seeing a coronavirus broadly distributed around

the country and then growing literally by the


Dr. Hahn, is that about right?

Dr. Hahn: That's correct.

Thank you, Mr. Vice President.

The Press: And also, if might I add to that, do

you have some idea of how many test kits we are

going to need total?

Dr. Hahn: So I'm going to use the term "tests," not

"kits" so that we can be clear about, you know,

sort of the lexicon that we're using.

So, as I mentioned, as of tomorrow, we expect 1.1

million tests to have been shipped to laboratories,

and those would have gone to mostly non-public

health laboratories.

In answer to your question -- because I'm thinking

like a doctor here -- if I were with a patient who

came in and I wanted to test, what I would

recommend to that provider is to contact, as the Vice

President said, their local public health group,

because they're going to be able to know about

availability in that state.

But as the Vice President says, with these large

commercial labs having the ability to now scale up

those tests, this is a critical part of this.

In addition to the millions of test kits --

tests -- tests that we'll be sending out this

upcoming week as well as what we've already done,

we expect that to surge substantially.

The Press: And how many do we need?

Are we talking we need a test available potentially

for every American?

What is our target?

Dr. Hahn: So we'll talk a little bit about this tomorrow.

It's a complicated answer to your question, and I

don't want to mislead the American public.

But one test doesn't necessarily equal one


And so that equation, I think, is worth discussing

in more detail.

The Vice President: Well, let me maybe follow on

that with two things.

Number one, the President has directed a

whole-of-government approach.

We're leaning into this effort, and we're going to

work with our commercial partners, we're going to

work with the CDC, and we're going to meet that

need for the American public.

And I'm confident of that, particularly as I see the

way -- frankly, see the way state governments,

state health departments, public laboratories, and

our commercial laboratories have stepped


Let me also say, as I said yesterday when we were in

Washington State: One of the things that CDC has

done is, in the midst of these numbers that can get

a little blurry at the time, we'll make sure you

have all of them in detail.

And Dr. Hahn will detail it tomorrow.

We have prioritized areas of the country where we

have community transmission.

And the recommendation of our experts is we've been

focusing tests in California and in

Washington State, and I've had those conversations

with both of those governors, and we'll

continue to do that even as we work to build a

wider availability.

The Press: Thank you, Mr. Vice President.

You have encouraged caution and social

distancing for elderly Americans and people who

have preexisting conditions.

Just looking at the government statistics,

people who are over 65, that's 50 million

Americans; people who have preexisting conditions,

that's another 50 million to 100 million Americans.

Are you essentially saying that a third of the

country, maybe up to half of the country, should

have caution before traveling?

And if that's the case, should major events, major

conferences, political rallies just be canceled

at this point because they would include a large

percentage of elderly Americans and people with

preexisting conditions?

The Vice President: Well, let me try it again.

A lot of facts and a lot of information, so let me

be as clear as I can.

What I want to say today is -- in consultation with

these experts -- is that as we look at the data,

initial data in this country and data coming in

from around the world, that elderly with serious

underlying health conditions are the most

vulnerable to the coronavirus.

Let me say that again: That elderly individuals

with underlying health conditions are the most

vulnerable to serious results from the


And so, today, we say with great respect that it is a

good time for any American who is elderly, by however

they define it, and has a serious underlying health

condition, to think carefully about travel.

And I think Dr. Fauci was clear on that and I'd like

him to have the last word.

Dr. Fauci: So, the numbers and the statistics you

said are correct, but there's really a

difference between an underlying condition and a

serious underlying condition that would

actually compromise you.

So let me explain.

By the numbers that you said, someone who has high

blood pressure, is on a blood pressure medication

and has got it down pretty well, has an underlying


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease that

might require intermittent oxygen is a serious

underlying condition.

There's a big difference between somebody with

controlled hypertension and somebody with

congestive heart failure and chronic pulmonary disease.

So although your numbers are correct, it isn't

really one third of the American population.

The Description of Vice President Pence and Members of the Coronavirus Task Force Hold a Press Briefing