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coronavirus cases surge TRANSCRIPT: 3/23/20, The Beat w/ Ari Melber

Guests: Ezekiel Emanuel

NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST: MSNBC breaking news coverage continues right  now with Ari Melber. 

Hi, Ari. 

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  stay home. 

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. 


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  strings attached. 


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. 


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  federal government. 

In another case, we were bidding against foreign countries and other  states. 

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  leading. 


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. 


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. 


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  system.

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  thinking. 

MELBER: Dr. Emanuel, when you lay out the numbers, that sounds pretty  bracing. 

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  moving again. 

MELBER: We`re listening to Dr. Zeke Emanuel here walk through some of the  numbers.

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  Steele.

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. 

EMANUEL: Correct. 

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. 

MELBER: Right. 

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. 

MELBER: Right. 

EMANUEL: They won`t have enough masks and other gear to actually treat them  effectively.

MELBER: Right. 

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  victory.

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  politics.

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  nation.

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  incredible.

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  people.

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  businesses.

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  American character.

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  Invisible scourge.

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  you.

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  prices.

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. 


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  preexisting conditions. 

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  test. 

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  of you. 

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 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  delegations. 

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  equipment. 

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  well. 

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  country. 

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  our land. 

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  past. 

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  problem. 

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...



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  have. 

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  Kansas.

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  too important? 

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  right now. 

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  mitigation pieces. 

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.