coronavirus cases surge TRANSCRIPT: 3/23/20, The Beat w/ Ari Melber
NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST: MSNBC breaking news coverage continues right
now with Ari Melber.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Hi, Nicolle. Thank you very much.
And thank you for staying with us at home.
As Nicolle just mentioned, it`s another serious day in this pandemic. Let
me tell you exactly what we`re going to do for you right now.
We`re keeping our eye on that White House Briefing Room. You can see the
live shot right here. This is a scheduled press conference that would have
happened within the last half-an-hour. We expect it, of course, to still
take place at some point in this hour, and we will bring that to you when
it begins, when it commences.
Meantime, we have our experts standing by, and we have the facts for you.
As we have been doing every night on THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER, we begin
with these latest facts on the coronavirus.
U.S. cases now topping 40,000. That is more than double since Friday night,
heading into the weekend. The markets are continuing to struggle. You can
see it here today, the Dow down another 3 percent. That`s despite, of
course, the new stimulus measures that are already on the way and schools
in 38 different states ordered closed.
Now, when you talk about the impact on Americans, this has continued to
shift, and we have the shape for it – of it for you. You can see here
roughly 100 million Americans now under orders, guidelines, or rules to
You may be one of them, all of this providing a backdrop for an escalating
clash in the Congress, which has now quickly passed, we should note, two
bipartisan bills which many people feel was a type of progress.
But on this big third bill, they are deadlocked over some big issues,
Republicans arguing that Democrats have now made the process partisan,
holding out for certain partisan goals that Republicans don`t view as
essential to this legislation.
Democrats are saying, no, this fight tonight is all about the substance of
the virus response and ensuring that working people are supported by the
Congress, not just big business.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): The American people need to know it. Democrats
won`t let us fund hospitals or save small businesses unless they get to
dust off the Green New Deal.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): The bill still includes something that most
Americans don`t want to see, large corporate bailouts with almost no
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Now, as Congress debates the big picture, we should note states and
cities continue to manage the daily grind of handling this pandemic.
New York City, home to roughly now 5 percent of all cases worldwide, with
guidance for doctors to test only those who need to be hospitalized.
Meanwhile, some governors on the front lines calling out the federal
response and the Trump administration.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. J.B. PRITZKER (D-IL): We`re competing for ventilators with FEMA and
the federal government, so Illinois is bidding for ventilators against the
In another case, we were bidding against foreign countries and other
We`re competing against each other on what should be a national crisis
where we should be coming together and the federal government should be
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Governors arguing the federal government has basically been failing
to lead on some of those key issues or leading in the wrong direction.
President Trump, for example, has already begun talking up the idea of
rushing people back to work, so the cure is not worse than the problem.
Of course, that idea, that approach, is not what the federal government`s
own medical experts advise.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. JEROME ADAMS, SURGEON GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES: Every single day
counts. Every single second counts. And right now, there are not enough
people out there who are taking this seriously.
Everyone needs to act as if they have the virus right now. So, test or no
test, we need you to understand you could be spreading it to someone else
or you could be getting it from someone else. Stay at home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Stay at home. There you have it.
I`m joined now by Dr. Zeke Emanuel, who served as a top health policy
adviser to President Obama. He`s also a national expert on medical ethics,
including how that applies to prioritizing treatment and resources during a
pandemic like this.
And we`re also joined by an expert on both the governing and the political
challenges here, as Congress clashes over what to do tonight, Michael
Steele served as lieutenant governor of Maryland. He was also chairman of
the Republican Party.
Thanks to both of you for being here.
As mentioned at the top – and I will remind viewers, we`re, of course,
waiting on this task force press conference. And we will bring that to
people when it happens.
No signs of activity at the lectern there, so we are more than a few
minutes away from it.
Dr. Emanuel, given what we just laid out, and the increase in the United
States, the seriousness of this, as well as some tension both in the
Congress and the president`s response, what do you think is most important
that viewers know right now tonight?
DR. EZEKIEL EMANUEL, FORMER WHITE HOUSE SPECIAL ADVISER: Well, the numbers
that you have put up, 455 deaths, 40,000 cases, suggests that in this
country we have something like 400,000 cases already, with the disease
doubling every three days or so.
And the picture, that 400,000 cases is what happened 15 days ago, so we`re
well beyond those numbers. We`re in the millions of people who have this
virus. And it is true that, you know, the death rate, it`s only 1 percent.
But if you have three million people who have the virus, you have about
30,000 people who will die from it.
And that is a very large number, and it`s going to grow, unless we actually
restrict the spread of this disease. I do not think we have taken seriously
those countries that have actually done well, China, Korea, Taiwan. They
have significantly restricted the spread of this disease by isolating
people and preventing them from going around.
If you let people go back to work, you actually go back to Florida last
weekend, where people are partying and going to bars because they`re young
and invincible, you are going to spread more of this disease and more
people are going to die, and you`re going to overwhelm the health care
And, you know, I don`t think – none of us want to tank the economy, but
you cannot get the economy going unless you solve the health care problem.
Who`s going to go to Disneyland if they think they might die when they go
to Disneyland? It is just not going to happen.
No one`s going to go to a conference. No school is going to have a bunch of
people, 20,000 students on their campus, if they think that 20 of them
might end up dying from coronavirus. I just don`t think that`s realistic
MELBER: Dr. Emanuel, when you lay out the numbers, that sounds pretty
For people listening to you, as someone who has devoted your life to this
kind of public health service, what you`re saying is, basically, the
numbers that are so shocking today, the grim milestone that we had today,
is actually still highly underreported and a low end of what the United
States is going to see in total cases and thus in total likely fatalities?
EMANUEL: So, I think it`s very important for your viewers to understand,
the numbers we have today, first of all, they`re underestimates.
So if you take the total number of positive confirmed cases, you multiply
it roughly by 10 to get the number of actual cases, or you take the number
of deaths and you multiply it by 800 to get the actual number of cases.
But that actually number of cases reflects what happened 15 days ago.
Someone who`s unfortunately died got infected 15 days ago, and then
deteriorated to die.
So, we`re two weeks out of date by whatever numbers we`re seeing. And
that`s why we really – it really reflects a much larger number of cases, a
much larger number of deaths that are going to happen here. And that is
what the fundamental problem is.
And people who say, well, we can`t take the economy – tank the economy to
save lives, I think they – you know, the economy is going to be hobbled
unless we get our hands around this public health emergency.
So, I think they have it backwards, which is, let`s save the economy, and
then we can deal with the public health emergency. It`s just the reverse.
Let`s deal with the public health emergency vigorously and quickly. But
every day that we delay, you know, physical distancing and actually making
it prevalent throughout all 50 states is a day that we delay actually
solving this public health emergency and being able to get the economy
MELBER: We`re listening to Dr. Zeke Emanuel here walk through some of the
And for viewers watching here, 6:08 p.m. on the East Coast, we`re seeing
some of the members both of the task force and the administration step out
to the lectern.
This briefing, again, just for folks to have an understanding, is running
about 40 minutes behind. They have been holding these briefings early in
the day. This is now going back to a what is for the Washington audience
more of an evening briefing.
Viewers will also notice Attorney General Barr is up by the White House
lectern. That`s an addition today. That was scheduled. We knew that was
coming. But we`re waiting on Vice President Pence and some of the other
folks who typically come out.
And we will bring the briefing live when we do.
One more question for the doctor, and then I`m going to bring in Michael
But, Doctor, what you`re saying, in plain English, is that you cannot
understand or make threat assessments here today without folding in the
two-week delay, which means some of what we`re seeing will statistically
get worse based on what we know.
MELBER: How does that square with what we heard from what I just showed
from the president? He seems to be speaking as if things are frozen in
time, and you can now pull back from the health precautions and get back
to, as he put it, helping the economy.
You`re saying that whole frame is basically wrong, because today is not
frozen in time with regard to the cases.
EMANUEL: That`s right. We are going to get much worse before we get better.
And one of the things we need to know from testing, which we can`t know,
given the kind of testing we have, is when the number of new cases is
actually going down and getting close to zero.
That will be the time when you can peel back some of these restrictions.
But you can`t peel it back while you`re still having a dramatic increase
day to day in cases.
You can only peel back those restrictions once they have gone to zero or,
as we people who are in the epidemiology field say, once the percent of the
population with coronavirus plateaus. And there`s no indication that`s
happening. We`re every day seeing it go up and up and up.
EMANUEL: So, we are definitely behind the eight-ball.
And one of the consequences you hear from New York, Seattle is, they`re
going to, you know, be overwhelmed. More and more patients are going to
come, even if it`s only a small percentage of the number of people
infected, and they won`t be able to handle them in the hospital. They won`t
have enough ventilators for them.
EMANUEL: They won`t have enough masks and other gear to actually treat them
EMANUEL: And that will mean people with other illnesses, whether it`s
cancer or heart disease, will be – not get the care they need.
MELBER: We have been listening to Dr. Zeke Emanuel, a nationally renowned
medical ethics expert, as we await the beginning of this press conference.
We see the president entering. Let`s listen in to this White House Task
Force on Coronavirus.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, thank you very much.
And I see we have fewer people because of the virus problem. And we
appreciate you being here. And this is getting to be more and more social
distancing. And that`s fine. So, it should be, and it`s too bad, we extend
our best wishes to the person affected. And we feel sure that he or she
will be better very soon.
And thank you for being here. America continues to mobilize every segment
of our society to turn the tide in the battle against the virus. I want
Americans to know that we will get through this challenge. The hardship
will end, it will end soon, normal life will return and our economy will
rebound very, very strongly. But right now, in the midst of this great
national trial, Americans must remain united in purpose and focused on
To every single American, please know that the sacrifices you`re making at
this time is saving lives, many, many lives. It`s very important that we
totally protect our Asian American community in the United States and all
around the world.
They`re amazing people, and spreading the virus is not their fault in any
way shape or form. They`re working closely with us to get rid of it. We
will prevail together. It`s very important.
From the beginning, we have been working closely with our nation`s best
scientists and medical professionals, and we will continue to do so until
we have defeated the virus.
Our public health experts who are terrific are studying the variation in
the disease across the country, and we will be using data to recommend new
protocols to allow local economies to cautiously resume their activity at
the appropriate time.
We also have a large team working on what the next steps will be once the
medical community gives a region the OK. Meaning, the OK to get going, to
get back, let`s go to work.
Our country wasn`t built to be shut down. This is not a country that was
built for this, it was not built to be shut down. My administration
continues to work with Democrats and Republicans to reach an agreement on
an urgent relief bill for the millions of American workers, and small
businesses, and large businesses that were badly affected by the medical
difficulty that we`ve had.
If you had a viable business in January, we are committed to ensuring the
same is true. In the coming weeks, in fact, we want to make it even better
than I was before, and we`re doing things to help in that regard America
well again and soon be open for business very soon.
And a lot sooner than three or four months that somebody was suggesting. A
lot sooner, we cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself. We`re
not going to let the cure be worse than the problem.
At the end of the 15-day period, we`ll make a decision as to which way we
want to go, where we want to go, the timing, and essentially, were
referring to the timing of the opening. Essentially the opening of our
country. Because we have it pretty well shut down in order to get rid of
this invisible enemy.
Two weeks ago, we moved at record speed to pass paid sick leave, and paid
family medical leave, and approve $8 billion including money for the
development of treatments and vaccines. And we`re doing tremendous work in
both – on both fronts, and the vaccines are coming along very quickly.
Now, Congress must demonstrate the same bipartisanship again, and joined
together to pass the Senate bill as written, and avoid playing any more
partisan games. They have to get-together and just up with the partisan
And, I think that`s happening, I got a call a little while ago, I guess
they getting closer, it should go quickly, and must go quickly. It`s not
really a choice, they don`t have a choice, they have to make a deal.
It should not be a time for political agendas but rather one for focusing
solely and squarely on the needs of the American people. We are going to
save American workers. And we`re going to save them quickly. And we`re
going to save our great American companies, both small and large.
This was a medical problem. We`re not going to let it turn into a long-
lasting financial problem. Started out as a purely medical problem and it`s
not going to go beyond that. We just not going to allow that to happen.
Our country was headed strongest financial point, we`ve never had an
economy like we had just a few weeks ago. And then, it got hit with
something that nobody could have ever thought possible.
And we are fixing it fixing, we`re fixing it quickly. And I want to just
thank the American people for what they`ve been through and what they`re
doing. Our country will be stronger than ever before. And we fully
anticipate that and it would be that long.
Let me provide you with an update on critical supplies. FEMA is
distributing 8 million N95 respirator masks and 13.3 million surgical masks
across the country right now. Focusing on the areas with the greatest need.
We have shipped 73 pallets of personal protective equipment to New York
City and 36 pallets to the State of Washington.
In the past 96 hours, FEMA has also received donations of approximately 6.5
million masks. We`re having millions and millions of masks made as we
speak. Another personal protective equipment, which we will be distributing
to medical hot spots. Were focused on some of the hot spots across the
We`re seeing an outpouring of creativity and innovative ideas widely shared
between the federal health leaders, governors, and mayors. The scientific
community and members of the private-sector really working together.
Everybody is working together.
I`m pleased to report that clinical trials in New York will begin existing
for existing drugs that may prove effective against the virus.
At my direction, the federal government is working to help obtain large
quantities of chloroquine. And you can look from any standpoint tomorrow in
New York. We think tomorrow pretty early, the hydroxychloroquine, and the Z
pack, I think is a combination probably is looking very, very good, and
it`s going to be distributed way of 10,000 units going. And, it will be
distributed tomorrow. It will be available.
And is now, they already have it, they going to distribute it tomorrow
morning to a lot of people in New York City and New York.
We`ll studying it very closely, watching in it very closely, you probably
saw a couple of articles today came out, where a gentleman they thought he
was not going to make it, he said good-bye to his family. That given him
the drug just a little while before. But he thought it was over. His family
thought he was going to die.
And a number of hours later, he woke up, felt good, and he woke up again,
and he felt really good, and he`s in good shape. Then, he`s very happy for
this particular drug that we got approved in record-setting time. There`s
never been anything even close to it.
And I want to thank the FDA, which is been incredible, and Doctor Hahn –
Stephen Hahn, highly respected man. But they`re doing everything possible
to increase production and available supply of these drugs. Not only this
drug but also others that are coming.
Remdisivir is coming from Regeneron. A couple of others are also under
study. But the one that I`m very excited about right now is the one we just
mentioned, and I think there`s a real chance.
I mean again, we don`t know but there`s a real chance that it could have a
tremendous impact. It would be a gift from God if that worked. That would
be a big game-changer. So, we`ll see. But distribution starts tomorrow
morning early in New York. And I think, a lot of people are going to be –
hopefully, they`ll going to be very happy with the result that we`re all
going to be watching closely.
It`s something we have to try. It`s been very successful malaria. Very,
very successful. And countries with malaria have had an interesting thing
happened. They take this particular drug, it`s a very powerful drug. And
there is very little semblance of the virus in those countries.
And there are those that say because this drug is very prevalent because of
the malaria. So, we`ll see what happens.
I`m also announcing that we`re postponing the deadline for compliance with
real I.D. requirements. At a time when we`re asking Americans to maintain
social distancing, we do want to require people to go with their local DMV.
We will be announcing the new deadline very soon. It`s going to be
announced in a very short moment.
Overnight, we successfully brought home 103 American citizens after they
had been stranded for 10 days in Brazil. Following a cruise, we want to
thank the Brazilian government and they`re great president.
Most of those returned were senior citizens. My administration in
cooperation with Governor Greg Abbott of Texas. And the private-sector
coordinated their safe return to the United States. So, thank you to
Governor Abbott. Terrific governor, terrific man.
Earlier today, I signed an executive order invoking presidential authority
under Section 4512 of the Defense Production Act to prohibit the hoarding
vital medical equipment and supplies, such as hand sanitizers, face masks,
and personal protective equipment.
We have a lot of face masks, a lot of equipment just coming in, and we have
some people hoarding. And Attorney General Barr is going to be speaking
about that in a second. We want to prevent price gouging, and critical
health and medical resources are going to be protected in every form.
Under this directive, the secretary of Health and Human Services has
authorized to designate essential health and medical supplies as scarce.
So, we`ll designate certain supplies and medical elements as scares. And
that means it will be a crime to stockpile these items in excess of
quantities which is happening to a relatively small degree, we think. But
nevertheless, it`s happened, and we can`t let it happen. And we can`t let
them resell them at excessive prices, which some people are doing.
Very simply, we will not allow anyone to exploit the suffering of American
citizens for their own profit. So, we`re going to be watching that with our
great attorney general very closely.
The Department of Justice will be aggressively prosecuting fraudulent
schemes related to the pandemic. Yesterday, federal prosecutors took
action. In their first case, shutting down a web site selling a totally
fake vaccine, if you can believe that one.
As president, I will always fight to protect Americans from being
exploited. Thankfully, all throughout the country, we are witnessing
extraordinary acts of compassion, benevolence, and unity.
Construction companies are donating masks by the hundreds of thousands,
manufacturing workers had transforming their assembly lines, citizens are
volunteering to deliver food and medicine to the elderly.
Were truly seeing America at its best. We`re really seeing things that
people never thought even could happen. Frankly, we never know that this
could happen, but the way most Americans are working toward getting it
solved and just doing what they have to do to make this go away is been
It`s been incredible. I want to take a moment to thank the everyday heroes
who are making our best effort against the virus possible. And thank you to
the health care workers and the first responders. This are very brave
Thanks also to the hard-working men and women of Federal Express, UPS,
United States Postal Service, and the truckers who are maintaining our
supply change and supply lines. We thank you very much. Great job.
We also want to give our regards and thanks to everyone at our grocery
stores, work in the night-shift so that shelves can be re-stocked, and the
restaurant workers and delivery drivers keeping our families fed.
So many of these restaurants, it`s incredible. They`re doing a service
where people come and they pick it up delivery. I mean it`s been incredible
what they`ve been doing. Totally, different business than they were in
other than they cook food. Other than that it`s like a totally different
Most of all, I want to thank the American people for rising to the
challenge and showing incredible courage, determination, patients, grace,
and grit, from New York to Seattle, and everywhere in between. Your acts of
selflessness, and sacrifice, and ingenuity are a powerful testaments to the
It`s really being shown, it`s really showing up at a level that people are
really respecting, all over the world, they`re respecting. And the world
has problems where 148 countries now – 148 countries are affected by the
And all of the uplifting reflections of the American spirit are out there
for everyone to see. Together we will care for our fellow citizens and we
will win this war, and we`ll win it much sooner than people think.
And we`ll be back in business as a country pretty soon. You`ll be hearing
about that also pretty soon. Now, I`d like to ask Attorney General Bill
Barr to say a few words and we`ll take questions in a little while. Thank
WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES: Let me start by
thanking you, Mr. President, Mr. Vice President for your decisive
leadership in this unprecedented battle to save American lives.
At the Department of Justice, we`re working hard to protect the health and
safety of our personnel, while at the same time, keeping our enforcement
efforts at full throttle.
So, I`d like to thank all of my colleagues in law enforcement, not just
those at the federal level, but of all our state and local partners. The
police officers, the sheriff`s deputies, who are protecting and serving
their communities, often at great risk to themselves.
What I`d like to do here is start with a few remarks about the order that
the president mentioned to ensure the availability of critical medical and
health supplies from hoarding and price gouging.
On March 18th, the president issued Executive Order 13909 invoking the
Defense Production Act with respect to the health and medical resources
needed to respond to the spread of COVID-19, including PPE and ventilators.
We have started to see some evidence of potential hoarding and price
gouging. And so, earlier today, the president signed a second executive
order, providing the authority to address if it becomes necessary. Hoarding
that threatens the supply of those necessary health and medical resources.
Under Section 102 of the Defense Production Act, the President is
authorized to prohibit the hoarding of needed resources by designating
those materials as scarce or as materials who supply would be threatened by
person`s accumulating excessive amounts.
Once specific materials are so designated, persons are prohibited from
accumulating those items in excess of reasonable personal or business
needs, or for the purpose of selling them in excess of prevailing market
It is a crime to engage in prohibited activity. In today`s executive order,
the president is delegating to the secretary of HHS, this authority, to
protect against hoarding by designating these critical items.
Now, no items have been designated yet, and the Department of Justice is
going to be working with HHS to identify cases where hoarding may be
impeding the supply of health and medical resources needed to respond to
the COPVID-19 pandemic.
Today, we convened our first task force meeting a national task force that
will be working on these supply chain issues, and specifically, on the
problem of hoarding and price gouging. And we are designating in each of
the 93 United States attorney`s offices a lead prosecutor who will be
responsible in that district for pursuing these cases.
I also want to say that we have not waited for this order to be signed. As
we have received evidence recently, we have already initiated
investigations of activities that are disrupting the supply chain and
suggestive of hoarding.
I want to stress we are not talking about consumers or businesses
stockpiling supplies for their own operations. We are talking about people
hoarding these goods and materials on an industrial scale for the purpose
of manipulating the market, and, ultimately, driving windfall profits. If
you have a big supply of toilet paper in your house, this is not something
you have to worry about. But if you are sitting on a warehouse with masks,
surgical masks, you will be hearing a knock on your door.
So with that, Mr. President, I will turn it back over to you.
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you. Deborah,
DR. DEBORAH BIRX, CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: Thank you, thank you
Mr. Vice President. To start, I want to really thank all of the ministers
of health around the world who have been sending us their data despite the
fight that they are in themselves, particularly our European colleagues.
They continue to send us primarily their mortality data, which is really
very critical, because when you are in the midst of this level of fight
that many of the European countries are, following mortality data will give
you the best insight right now on how the epidemic is proceeding in those
countries, because they really can`t be testing at the level to really
understand the depth and breadth of their new cases.
In the mortality data that has been provided to us, there has been no child
under 15 that has succumbed to the virus in Europe. There was one 14-year-
old in China. So we still see that there is less severity in children. And
so that should be reassuring to the moms and dads out there.
To Generation Z and to my millennial colleagues who have been really at the
forefront of many of these responses, less than one percent of all the
mortality is less than 50. And so this is I think also a very important
point. That doesn`t mean that individuals won`t have severe disease. So
still 99 percent of all the mortality coming out of Europe in general is
over 50 and preexisting conditions. The preexisting condition piece still
holds in Italy with the majority of the mortality having three or more
I think this is reassuring to all of us, but it doesn`t change the need to
continue to protect the elderly, and in order to protect the elderly, we
all need to continue to do the president`s directives and guidance for the
next week of the 15-day challenge.
Finally, I wanted to really close by thanking the laboratory personnel that
have been at the front lines – 250,000 tests have been run in the last
seven days. This happened because these large, commercial laboratories are
doing round the clock runs. And remember, all of them are being exposed to
the virus in the same way from the swabs. Yet tirelessly, they have worked
on and off to get the results available.
They are still getting more tests than they can run per day. That is
because we were primarily expanded into what we call the Roche high
throughput TriCore machine. Those results have been getting to the clients,
and we have asked them to prioritize hospitalized patients. There was a
breakthrough today, and I think you will see this from the FDA. And for all
of those of you who are waiting for self-swabbing, options, those are going
to be available sometime this week, to be able to individuals do their own
That said, remember these platforms are keeping up with those who need to
be diagnosed in the hospitals, and all those who come to the emergency room
quite ill, so that will be critical that if you don`t need a test, if it
doesn`t change your clinical course, do not come in to be tested. And I
think that mortality data that I gave you that should be reassuring to all
Finally, to conclude, New York City. The New York Metro Area of New Jersey,
New York City, and parts of Long Island have an attack rate close to one in
1,000. This is five times what the other areas are seeing. Through the high
throughput lab investigations, we`re finding that 28 percent of the
submitted specimens are less than eight percent in the rest of the country.
So to all of my friends and colleagues in New York, this is the group that
needs to absolutely social distance and self-isolate at this time. Clearly,
the virus had been circulating there for a number of weeks to have this
level of penetrance into the general community.
TRUMP: Thank you very much, Deborah.
MIKE PENCE, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Mr. President.
The White House coronavirus taskforce met today, but we also convened at
the president`s direction a conference call with the nation`s governors,
and we focused on efforts at mitigation, at testing and supplies. We
discussed the president`s recent approval of disaster declarations for
Washington and California and New York, but we also assured governors who
have submitted major disaster declarations that we will be reviewing them
in an expeditious manner to ensure the full resources of the federal
government are brought to bear.
The president wanted us to make it clear that the federal government will
do whatever it takes to support an effort that is locally executed, state
managed, and federally supported. We have reiterated that to our governors
today, listened to them about their specific needs, and, frankly, made it
clear to them that while the president has published at Coronavirus.gov the
15 days to slow the spread for every American, and millions of Americans
are addressing these common sense guidelines to prevent the spread of the
coronavirus in the days ahead. We made it clear to the governors that this
president and this administration fully supports decisions the governors
are making in communities and states that are particularly impacted by the
spread of the coronavirus. And we are grateful for their efforts.
We also spoke to the governors about the importance of the legislation that
is currently being negotiated on Capitol Hill, and ask them to encourage
members of the House and the Senate to move very quickly. The bill that is
currently being negotiated, the president said that he believes will be
resolved soon. We are encouraged by it. We will speed direct payments to
families. The average family of four will receive $3,000 directly. There
will be payroll subsidies for small businesses around America to keep
people on the payroll while they may be required to stay home. Unemployed
insurance benefits, assistance to hospitals and major industries, and we
continue to urge the Congress to act and ask the governors to engage their
On the subject of testing, we reiterated our thanks to states across the
country that are rapidly expanding testing at drive-through sites and at
community sites. And as Dr. Birx just reflected, because of the
unprecedented public and private partnership that the president initiated
with our commercial labs, we stand here today with 313,000 tests having
been completed, with the test results delivered to Americans. And still
somewhat more than 41,000 have contracted coronavirus.
But the state-run effort is continuing to receive the full support of our
team at FEMA. And at the U.S. public health service, we`re deploying
personnel, we`re deploying resources, and testing is literally expanding
around the country by the hour.
As Dr. Birx also mentioned, the FDA has been in the process of reviewing
less invasive methods of testing. The president and I both reflected on the
fact that we have been tested, and we have been working with the FDA to
make it possible for self-collected nasal swabs where individuals could at
the end of their nasal passage collect a sample. And I`m pleased to report
that self-collected swabs can now be collected in clinics and at drive-
through testing sites. This will expedite the testing process, of course,
but it will also reduce the risk to health care providers for exposure to
the coronavirus, and it will minimize the drain on personal protective
With the current tests that goes pretty significantly up the nasal passage,
people have to wear gear and then change out the gear. In this new self-
administered test will actually not require the drain on personal
protective equipment. And it`s all a part of our effort as Admiral
Polowczyk will discuss in a few moments. To meet the supply needs that we
have across the country, but to meet them with efforts at conservation as
On the subject of testing, it`s important to remember, as the old book
says, it is not that healthy who need a doctor but the sick. And so if you
don`t have symptoms, you don`t need to get a coronavirus test. We encourage
every American to adhere to that so testing resources are available for
people that are symptomatic.
We also will be issuing today from Health and Human Services new guidance
to direct all commercial labs to prioritize testing for hospitalized
patients, and that guidance is going out tonight. We also reminded the
governors today that all state laboratories, all hospital laboratories are
now required by law to report the results of coronavirus tests to the CDC.
On the subject of supplies, in our meeting today at FEMA, we received a
report of the new supply chain stabilization task force. Rear Admiral John
Polowczyk is leading that up at FEMA, and the task force is working to
identify medical supplies that exist in the marketplace today to evaluate
the national stockpile, and also working with industries around the country
to produce even more of the critical, medical supplies.
And as the president said, businesses across America are stepping up, maybe
as never before in our history – 3M, in fact, has diverted 500,000 N95
masks from commercial customers, and they are being delivered today to New
York and Seattle. Facebook, we would acknowledge, has donated their
emergency reserve of over 700,000 N95 masks to health care workers, and
these are just a few examples of the generosity of businesses.
We are also seeing companies step forward to repurpose their manufacturing
facilities to create ventilators, to create equipment, and I know I speak
for the president when I say how grateful and proud we are for that.
We also discussed with the governors a real breakthrough on the
availability of ventilators. We called on the governors to survey all
outpatient surgical centers and hospital operating rooms because surgical
ventilators that anesthesiologists use, because of an FDA decision have
rendered this last weekend, those can be easily converted now to
ventilators that can be used for people struggling with severe illness from
the coronavirus. And so we called on our governors in conversations with
state leaders to survey all of the surgical centers and hospital operating
rooms to identify equipment, and with the new FDA guidelines, they will be
able to convert those to help meet the needs of ventilators across the
We are now eight days into the president`s 15 days to slow the spread. The
American people are rising to the challenge. We are doing this. But in the
days that remain between now and the end of the 15 days, we`re going to
need every American to take this seriously. Listen to your state and local
health authorities where there may be additional and stronger guidance in
areas where the coronavirus spread has been more severe. But for every
American, know that the part that you do, that your family does, that you
do in your community to put into practice these principles of social
distancing, using a drive-through at the local restaurant will make an
enormous difference in lowering the trajectory the coronavirus spreading
across our country.
It is going to take all of us, but with the ongoing cooperation of the
American people, with compassion, with the ingenuity of American industry,
with dedicated leadership at the state and federal level, I know that we
can slow the spread, we can protect our most vulnerable, and we will heal
TRUMP: Thank you, Mike.
REAR ADM. JOHN POLOWCZYK, VICE DIRECTOR OF LOGISTICS J4 JOINT STAFF: Thank
you, Mr. Vice President. I`m Admiral John Polowczyk. I`m the supply chain
taskforce lead at FEMA. My task is to increase the supply of critical
medical supplies, which include personal protective –
MELBER: We have been listening to the White House Task Force on Coronavirus
give one of the evening briefings that have become a grim and daily reality
during this pandemic.
This is Ari Melber anchoring MSNBC`s special coverage.
And let me tell you what we`re going to do here, as we have done in times
We have been listening to a good chunk of the press conference, the
president making his remarks, reiterating statements he had made about not
wanting the response to this crisis to be greater than the underlying
We heard for the first time at one of these press conferences from Attorney
General Barr, who briefed on efforts the Justice Department is taking to
prevent price-gouging and other types of activities that may be illegal
during a health crisis.
And when they go back to questions and answers, which is a time when we
have seen other news develop, we will go back into that press conference in
a few moments.
Now, for reaction, I want to bring in Michael Steele. At the top of our
broadcast here on THE BEAT, he was with me, patiently, while we got a lot
of medical updates from Dr. Emanuel.
I hope you will agree with me, Michael, this is a time where we always go
to the doctors first. And he gave us a lot of great context, but we have
been waiting to turn to you, as a…
MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: As we should.
MELBER: As we should – as a lieutenant governor who has been involved in
these kind of health decisions running a state, and as a former party
chairman with your eye on the Congress and that battle, I`m curious, first,
your response to anything you heard here in this press conference?
STEELE: Well, it`s not so much what I heard. It`s what I saw.
And what I saw was the absence of Dr. Fauci. And Dr. Fauci has become the
face of the solution to many of the concerns and questions that Americans
He expressed some opinions that were different from the administration over
this weekend, particularly relating to this idea that, after 15 days,
which, by the way, happens to be next week, I believe Monday or Tuesday,
that, you know, we`re going to move back into a different operation pretty
much sort of reopening, as the president said, the economy.
Medical professionals have a real problem with that, and they don`t want to
put out on the street this false sense that, come next week, everything`s
going to be back to normal, you know, we`re no longer in Oz, we`re back in
And the reality is, we`re still going to be in a space that`s unfamiliar.
And so, his absence today, to me, stood out, not so much what the president
said, but the fact that the lack of his presence there, I think, said a lot
more, and I think it`s something that we need to watch.
MELBER: It`s important context, which is why we go back and forth from some
of the government briefings to our experts.
We are seeing the president take questions.
So, Michael, stay with me. Let`s listen back in.
TRUMP: The numbers are pretty amazing. And it started with the fact that we
stopped people from coming in from a highly affected area and – infected
area. And that was a good thing to do.
So yes, it`s bad, and it`s going to – obviously, the numbers are going to
increase with time, and then they`re going to start to decrease, and we`re
going to be opening our country up for business because our country was
meant to be open and working with others, but especially for our workers.
And the engine for that whole system is we have to have companies, and
these companies are loved by our workers because they are paying big
salaries and big dollars to our workers. And we`re going to get it all
going very soon. Hopefully very, very soon. Please?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, I`m just trying to reconcile the two things that
you just said. One that things are going to be very, very bad, and two,
that you want to get the country up and back as quickly as possible. So I
guess my question is, if in a week Dr. Birx or Dr. Fauci are telling you,
we need to continue these measures for the health of the vulnerable
population of the country, are you going to say, I`m sorry, the economy is
TRUMP: You`ll see what happens. I understand the question very well. It is
a great question, but we can do two things at one time. I will say this –
our country has learned a lot. We`ve learned about social distancing. We`ve
learned about the hands. We`ve learned about staying away, at least during
the time that this is even a little bit around, this disease or whatever
you want to call it. Many different names. You can call it many different
names. But the virus, while it is around.
And we can start thinking about, as an example, parts of our country are
very lightly affected. Very small numbers, and you look at a state, great
governor Pete Ricketts in Nebraska, you look at the kind of numbers they
have out there. They have one of the great hospitals there, too, relative
to what we`re talking about.
But you look at Nebraska, you look at Idaho, you look at many I can name
are handling it very, very well and that are not affected to the same
extent or, frankly, not even nearly to the extent of New York, which is
really – I`m dealing with Governor Cuomo, and we`re dealing very well
together. We`ll be sending that ship up, by the way, as you know. We have a
ship going to Los Angeles. We`ll also be – the ship is coming out of a
very large repair, so ready to go and very soon will be. And over the next
three or four weeks, it will be coming up to New York, will go to the New
York Harbor, and it will be fully supplied. So they are working on that
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me ask you this, do you share the president`s
optimism that in a week we might have a situation where we can say, there`s
a few hot spots, but –
TRUMP: I didn`t say a week, but I said soon. It`s going to be soon. It`s
not going to be three or four months, as some people were saying, and a lot
of people thought originally, but I would certainly –
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And are you worried that some of these cities and
states that haven`t had the effects are lagging indicators and we`re going
to start seeing cases?
BIRX: So you raised two important issues. One, I think you all know a lot
of our tests have had to go to hospitals at this time so that we can
diagnose people who are at risk to give them options to get these new
therapeutic options. None of these therapeutic options are available if you
don`t know your diagnosis. So we have been very much focused on that.
With adding Abbott, Thermo Fisher, Pelagic, and now Sepiad (ph) platforms -
- Sepiad (ph) is that new platform that is point of care but slower. So you
have to match the throughput, the need to what kind of equipment you have.
Now that we have all of those platforms moving simultaneously, we can go
back to doing case finding and surveillance in the areas that have the most
lower numbers, as well as doing mitigation more aggressively in the places
that have higher numbers.
We went out with a very blunt force. We have to all be honest, we had to do
that because we weren`t sure where the virus was and where it is going. I
think over this week, we are concentrated on figuring out exactly where the
viruses in making projections about where it`s going and the impact of our
We learned this in tackling epidemics around the world. You have to focus
the resources and the intervention and the structural prevention
interventions in the areas where the virus is circulating. Otherwise,
people never understand why you are doing this, and they don`t have any
virus. So it has to be very tailored geographically. And it may have to
also be very tailored by age group, really understanding who is at the
greatest risk and understanding how to protect them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: – in three months, as the president said, we won`t
need to follow these broad guidelines.
BIRX: The only data that we all have, and I think you all know what it is,
the two areas that have moved through their curve is China and South Korea.
So those are the two countries that we are learning from. Those were eight
to 10 weeks curves.
Each state and each hot spot in the United States is going to be its own
curve because the seeds came in at different times. So Washington state is
on their curve. They are about two weeks ahead of New York. And so, each of
these have to be done in a very granular way to really understand where we
are. And it`s the charges that the president has given us is to use all of
our data analytics, and all of our data input to really define those issues
about where the virus is, where is it going, and what predictions we can
make about when and where we are in that bell-shaped curve.
TRUMP: I think that is a great definition, and I will say we are going to
be watching our senior citizens very closely. We`re going to be watching
certain hot spots like New York. And within New York, you have areas which
are troubling, and we will be working with the governor and the mayor and
everybody else on those spots.
But at the same time, at a certain point, we have to get open and we have
to get moving. We don`t want to lose these companies. We don`t want to lose
these workers. We want to take care of our workers. So we`ll be doing
something I think relatively quickly, but we`ve learned a lot during this
period. This was a very necessary period. Tremendous information was
gained. But we can do two things at one time.
And again, I say, we have a very active flu season, more active than most.
It`s looking like it`s heading to 50,000 or more deaths, deaths, not cases,
50,000 deaths, which is – that`s a lot. And you look at automobile
accidents, which are far greater than any numbers we are talking about.
That doesn`t mean we will tell everybody no more driving of cars. So we
have to do things to get our country open. But this has been an incredible
period of learning, and we`ll have announcements over the next fairly short
period as to the timing. John, please?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, I want to ask about these guidelines on
testing. Obviously, Senator Rand Paul has tested positive for coronavirus.
But he was not in contact with anybody who was a known positive, and he
didn`t have any major symptoms. Under your guidelines, and the guidelines
that have been outlined here, he would not have gotten a test. He got one
anyway. So what do you say to him? He has pointed out that if hadn`t gone
basically in defiance of these guidelines and got tested, he might still be
showing up to the Senate right now infecting the whole U.S. Senate.
BIRX: So that is why this was important. That`s why this recommendation to
the American people was important, because we have been saying that there
is a level of asymptomatic or mild spread. And that is why each person has
to be responsible. Each person has to be responsible in the way that they
decrease their interaction with others, the six feet. And you are all very
social distanced, so thank you. But also assuming that everyone you are
interacting with could be positive. And that goes into the hand-washing
piece, and that gets into the other piece we talked about is surfaces.
I think until we really figure out the respiratory transmission versus the
surface transmission, and this hard surface transmission, not fabric, will
be really critical, because that is a way the virus could spread on subways
or metros where people would be holding on to things that other people had
recently held onto. So that is the real question.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But if we can just keep the example of Rand Paul, and
obviously there are many other people that would be in a similar situation,
just keep with this one example. If he had not gotten that test, he would
still be showing up to the Senate every day at his place of work. You
wouldn`t want that, would you?
BIRX: If had he been following these guidelines, he wouldn`t have been
infecting others because of social distancing, washing your hands, doing
everything that we`ve talked about. So we talked about also how people make
choices because of their jobs that they have to come in. You will notice I
was not here over the weekend. I think this is the part that we really need
to take responsibility for.
Saturday, I had a low-grade fever. So, actually, probably a G.I. thing, but
I`m meticulous. I`m a physician. I looked it up. I ended up piggybank from
Walter Reed, so I got a test late Saturday night, and I`m negative. I
stayed home another day just to –
TRUMP: Thank you for saying that.
BIRX: Yes, just to make sure, that is how we protect one another. So,
unless everybody is taking their temperature every day, we can`t say that
he had no symptoms. These are the kinds of things that we have to do for
one another. This is the personal responsibility that I`m talking about
that we all have to practice.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, Mr. President, when you say you don`t want the
cure to be worse than the problem itself, so are you saying that if we kept
these measures that we are doing now in place for a couple of months –
TRUMP: Well, they will be in place. At some point we`re going to open up
our country, and it is going to be fairly soon.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Weeks or months?
TRUMP: I`m not looking at months, I can tell you right now. We`re going to
opening up our country. And we`re going to be watching certain areas. And
we`re going to be practicing everything that Deborah is referring to right
here. We`re going to be watching this very closely. But can`t keep it
closed for the next – for years. OK? This is going away. We`re going to
win the battle.
But we also have tremendous responsibility. We have jobs. We have people
that get tremendous anxiety and depression. And you have suicides over
things like this when you have terrible economies. You have death.
Probably, definitely would be in far greater numbers than the numbers we
are talking about with regard to the virus. So we have an obligation, we
have a double obligation. We have a great country. There is no country like
in the world, and there was no economy like this in the world. We were just
blazing. We were coming out with numbers that – some numbers weren`t even
reported because already this had happened. They were meaningless. I got
numbers about myself that were meaningless because by the time the numbers
came in, it`s a whole different world with this.
But I will tell you that we can do both things, John. We can do them both
at the same time. That`s OK. What we have gone through is a tremendous
learning process. And we have also solved a lot of problems, but we have
gone through a tremendous learning problem situation now. We are building
hospitals in New York. We are building hospitals in California. We are
building hospitals in the state of Washington.
We have been in touch with the governors.
Today, I spoke with a man that I happen to like. I spoke with Phil in New
Jersey. And we`re – we`re going to be doing something very meaningful in
New Jersey. We`re doing something.
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