(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ICU care in the time of COVID is a whole other story. It`s hectic. It`s noisy. There`s the intensity. There`s the focus. There`s the long hours of work. Doing our best to pull these patients through their infection.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you`re doing it patient after patient after patient, all day long, it`s mentally stressful, and it`s physically stressful. We don`t even have a vaccine for this thing and it`s going to be a lot more people caught.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So that definitely makes the day-to-day difficult as health care workers is not knowing, when is the end.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ultimately, it`s just you have to adjust, and we all have to adjust, it`s a new norm. And it`s not going to go away anytime soon.
KATY TUR, MSNBC HOST: The war against this virus continues on the front lines, and it is not stopping anytime soon. Welcome to Monday. It is MEET THE PRESS DAILY and I`m Katy Tur in for Chuck Todd.
We are awaiting another one of the president`s press conferences on the coronavirus. It was originally scheduled for 5:00 p.m., but it has just been pushed back to 5:30, and we should remind you, the White House has said that these appearances are due to their concern with poll numbers. It comes as the president is once again openly contradicting his own public health advisers.
Yesterday, Dr. Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the president`s coronavirus task force, warned that the outbreak we are experiencing right now is in some ways worse than what we saw in the spring because it is so widespread. The president today criticized her on Twitter.
And the president`s testing czar, another top adviser on the task force, told Chuck on MEET THE PRESS yesterday that it is time to move on from this idea being pushed by the president that hydroxychloroquine is an effective treatment. It is not. But this afternoon, the president again touted hydroxychloroquine will also again downplaying the severity of the outbreak.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Pretty recent map of the country. And it is a lot of people that in a lot of areas that have gotten very -- you know, better very fast. Hydroxy has tremendous support, but politically, it`s toxic because I supported it. If I would have said do not use hydroxychloroquine, under any circumstances, they would have come out and they would have said it`s a great thing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But Fauci says it doesn`t work. Giroir says it doesn`t work.
TRUMP: I don`t agree with Fauci on everything. I don`t agree with Fauci.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUR: And the president continues to misleadingly downplay the outbreak as the results of more testing which public health officials have said time and again is not just -- is just not true, not when so many people are getting sick and dying at a rate of more than 1,000 every day.
Additionally, as the virus continues to paralyze the country, there are still major disagreements on Capitol Hill over the size and scope of the government`s next financial rescue package. White House negotiators met with Schumer and Pelosi again today, but they do not appear to be any closer to an agreement.
Joining me now from the White House, where we await President Trump, is NBC`s Shannon Pettypiece, NBC`s Garrett Haake is down on Pennsylvania Avenue on Capitol Hill, and also with us is Robert Costa, national political reporter for the Washington Post and an MSNBC political analyst. Along with Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University.
Shannon, I do want to start with you. Today, the president said that he`s looking very strongly at an executive order to address some of the financial concerns that millions of Americans are facing as Congress is still stalled. I wonder if there`s any action behind the scenes on that or if it`s the same thing as him saying that he was going to have a health care plan two weeks ago in two weeks which is now and so far there is no health care plan.
SHANNON PETTYPIECE, NBC NEWS SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, right. No health care plan, a number of things that were supposed to come in two weeks that we do not have. On the front of some sort of executive action when it comes to extending this unemployment insurance, you know, that`s something that the White House is certainly posturing.
It`s very difficult to tell at this point whether that is sort of a negotiating tactic or if that is something they are actually considering and believe they could pull off legally, and even if they can`t pull it off legally, can they pull it off politically?
Because of course, there`s also this thinking that should they take some executive action, outside of the legal bounds of what the executive branch can do, like extending unemployment insurance, extending the moratorium on evictions, it could hurt the Democrats politically.
The thinking is should they try to challenge that, because then it looks like the Democrats are trying to block people from getting unemployment insurance. And it`s really interesting to see how the White House is sort of flip sides here.
A week or two ago, the White House was talking about how this added unemployment insurance was too much, this $600 a week benefit and they wanted to pull that back because it was a disincentive for people to go into work.
Now the White House is the one advocating, talking about going around Congress to keep the $600 a week benefit going. I know talks were going on the Hill a while ago. Doesn`t look like they picked up any ground there. So we`re pretty much at the same place we were yesterday when we picked this up.
TUR: Shannon, how much of this is just pure politics? Re-election politics? We know that he`s holding these briefings because Kellyanne Conway said that there were internal poll numbers that they wanted to address.
The president`s talking about hydroxychloroquine as a political issue, saying that politically, it`s toxic because the president likes it. You`re talking about negotiations on an executive order or talking about an executive order because maybe it would look -- make the Democrats look bad. Is all of the maneuvering right now with the White House in terms of this virus about re-election politics?
PETTYPIECE: Well, you know, it`s interesting that there is a belief also that the thing that could help the president`s re-election the most would be getting this virus under control and convincing people to wear masks, to socially distance, to avoid crowds, and there`s an effort inside the White House to promote that message that would try and get the virus under control.
Yet the president is out there talking about it and promoting a message that downplays the severity, which could have the opposite effect and continue to allow these outbreaks to continue, which would actually hurt his political chances according to the calculations of his advisers. So it`s not necessarily even the politically strategic move you`re seeing when the president is defending hydroxychloroquine or appearing without a mask.
TUR: What is this doing to the negotiations on Capitol Hill, Garrett Haake? The president talking about an executive action? Are any Republicans taking that seriously? Is it making them move faster? Where do we stand?
GARRET HAAKE, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, let me separate the two. The eviction moratorium is interesting because that`s something that the president has said time and time again as a priority of his. That appears nowhere in the Republican opening offer even for a bill. So that`s something that the president has some interest in, that his Republican colleagues at least on the Senate side didn`t find interesting enough to even put into their bill.
Perhaps the president could make an order on that, but the idea that the president could extend these federal unemployment bonuses unilaterally is kind of ridiculous. This is constitutional law 101. The president can`t appropriate money and just start handing it out to people. There`s no, you know, legislative or constitutional or legal basis behind that that anybody I have talked to can find. And so the negotiations are going on apace.
You know, today, we learned that the negotiators spent a lot of time talking about issues like schools, going through the GOP proposal line by line, to see where Democrats would like to add money to it. I mean, these are good things, but the negotiators, somebody asked Chuck Schumer as they were leaving this room where they got on unemployment insurance, and Chuck Schumer said they`re sticking to their position.
Right now, there isn`t a unified Republican position on unemployment insurance or we would be farther along in these negotiations than we are. So, that`s a very long way of saying this thing remains a muddle very much right now into the first week of August.
TUR: You know, I know Republicans and the president both want to blame Democrats, saying that they`re the ones that are unwilling to negotiate, but the Democrats had a plan, Garrett, since May. So what is the Republican response when the Democrats say we have been waiting for many months to negotiate with you, and you`re only now starting to talk?
HAAKE: Yeah, I mean, this is a good point. Not only did the Democrats have a plan, but they proved they had the votes to pass it. Right now, it`s really hard to see what Republicans could get to 50 votes on, and they would, of course, need to get Democrats on board with a bill at all. So those claims ring a little bit hollow when they come from Republicans right now just because their own position is so muddled.
The critique that they have of Democrats at this point and I`ll leave it to the viewer to judge how valuable it is in odd is that, you know, the heroes act, which the Democrats passed in May, Republicans view that as their Democratic starting position in negotiations. OK, great, fine. That`s what you believe. That`s your starting position.
Now let`s negotiate, come towards me in the middle. Republicans say Democrats are not doing that. You know, and these negotiations are fairly opaque, so we`ll know what they agreed to when we know what they have agreed to.
TUR: So the Republicans can`t get on the same page amongst themselves and it also seems, Robert Costa that, the president can`t get on the same page as his own administration. Take these three examples. On hydroxychloroquine, the administration, the FDA, says it`s not safe, not recommended as a treatment. The president says it has tremendous support. He repeated that again today.
On testing, the administration says that they are working to improve it. Admiral Giroir said that. Trump says, testing, we are the best in the world. On the state of the virus, the administration says the pandemic is extremely widespread. That`s Dr. Deborah Birx. And Donald Trump says we are doing amazing. Is this an administration that is at war with itself?
ROBERT COSTA, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER THE WASHINGTON POST: It`s an administration based on my reporting today that is very eager to be in control of the message, but is not in control of the virus. And that is in effect that is going across this administration in private conversations. There`s a real helplessness in some quarters of the Trump administration about how to deal with a White House that`s desperate politically as the president`s poll numbers slide.
And what they`re looking at, what the Food and Drug Administration you mentioned is a whole process, a code at the FDA of making sure drugs are safe and efficacious, going back to JFK and the Food and Drug Act in the 1960s, that has been the norm of how drugs are presented to the American public after clinical trials, and for the White House to not take the side of its experts at the FDA, leaves scientists on the task force in different posts and at the FDA at odds, and feeling very much on edge as this nation continues to be roiled by the pandemic.
TUR: Well, the president doesn`t seem to want to take any expert advice that he doesn`t like. And for instance, again, on hydroxychloroquine, he was asked about this. We played part of the sound bite, and he said he didn`t trust Dr. Fauci all the time, he doesn`t always agree with Dr. Fauci all the time, excuse me. Let me play a little bit more of that bite and then I want to get Dr. Schaffner, your opinion of it on the other end. So, let`s play that bite.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Hydroxy has tremendous support, but politically, it`s toxic because I supported it. If I would have said do not use hydroxychloroquine under any circumstances, they would have come out and they would have said it`s a great -- it`s a great thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUR: That was not the correct bite. I`m going to just read to you what he said. While I don`t agree with Fauci on everything. I don`t agree with Fauci. Look, Fauci didn`t want, and I like him, I get along with him actually great, but he didn`t want to ban people from China from coming into the country, and I overrode him and I did the right thing.
He was saying face masks are no good a short while ago, so it doesn`t mean he`s not a bad person because he`s not, he`s a good person, I like him, but we disagree on things. We disagree on things.
So, the president disagrees with Dr. Fauci and is trying to undermine his authority, Doctor by saying that he was wrong on this China ban and also that he was wrong on masks. Science evolves, especially on a pandemic that is new to everybody. How dangerous is it or do you think it`s dangerous for the president to undermine his top infectious disease expert because of two things that he evolved on over time? As we learn more about this disease.
DR. WILLIAM SCHAFFNER, INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPECIALIST, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: Well, Katy, I`m just baffled by a politician making recommendations that are against the medical and scientific evidence and the proclamations of the Food and Drug Administration, Tony Fauci, and virtually everybody in the infectious disease community here in the United States.
Hydroxychloroquine has, for all intents and purposes, been put back on the shelf. It`s very useful in the treatment of patients with lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, but not COVID-19.
So that`s off to the side. And for this kind of discussion to be going on is, as I say, baffling to me. It`s confusing to the average person out there. And I think its nonproductive. It`s not useful as we try to marshal our resources to fight this infection.
TUR: So it is August. We are many months into this. The virus is spreading, not even rural communities are safe from it, as Dr. Deborah Birx said. What would you like to see happen today or even tomorrow to start to change our grasp of this virus? Is there something that we can start doing right now as a country to make it a little bit better?
SCHAFFNER: Well, under ideal circumstances, certainly, Katy. It would be wonderful if our national leaders let our public health authorities get up in front and they could say, and they would not lose face, things have changed. We now have to do things differently. And we all have to wear our masks, and they need then to model that. They need to really talk seriously about social distancing and of course, avoiding large group events.
And if they did those sorts of things and then on a practical side, made sure that the production of testing and all of its materials would indeed expand and then also make sure that personal protective equipment manufacturing in this country would also expand.
So that we would have sufficient amounts, particularly when flu starts up again this fall, those would be the things that I would like to see. Put public health in front, and allow the politicians to stand behind them and affirm what it is our public health and clinical physicians are recommending.
TUR: Robert, is the president getting that message, or is he being told that everything that he`s doing right now is working?
COSTA: He`s restless, I`m told, by his confidantes and associated. And that comes down to this hydroxychloroquine push against the wishes of the FDA, the protocols of the FDA. Let`s remember, the FDA was established to make sure that no one could bring drugs to market or to the American people that were not safe and efficacious.
And now is the whole reason the entire institution was established, to protect the American people from the claims of those that may not be entirely proven when it comes to medical treatments.
And the president just a few months before his election feels like he wants hydroxychloroquine out there, and he`s being told by Peter Navarro and other advisers and others in the conservative media that this is somehow, some kind of miracle cure and that the FDA is wrong on this, and so he`s not trusting, as the doctor said, his own advisers on the medical side.
TUR: Not listening. Not listening to science in the middle of a pandemic. Garrett Haake, thank you so much for joining us. Shannon Pettypiece, Robert Costa, and Dr. William Schaffner, you`re all sticking around with us to help put the president`s briefing into context when he does appear.
Also, here`s a live look at the White House where we are awaiting the president. He`s set to speak in about 15 minutes. We`ll go there once he does. Also ahead, the very latest on the talks over the next coronavirus relief bill, and Joe Biden`s VP search. I`m going to talk with Jim Clyburn, one of the leading Democrats in the House.
TUR: Welcome back. As we told you at the top of the show, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows were back on Capitol Hill today meeting with top Democrats on the next round of coronavirus relief. After days of negotiations, the two sides remain far apart and a deal is far from imminent.
Negotiators have already missed the deadline to extend enhanced unemployment benefits and more than 100 CEOs are warning Congress of catastrophic fallout to the economy if small business relief is not passed soon.
Joining me now is one of the leaders of the Democratic side of the aisle in the House and the coronavirus crisis select subcommittee chair, South Carolina Congressman Jim Clyburn. Congressman, thank you very much for joining us. I just wanted to get a sense from you on where these negotiations stand.
According to Politico, Nancy Pelosi said a deal is not likely this week, perhaps next week. But she conceded that there is no consensus at all, no meeting point even between Republicans and Democrats on state aid. There`s no consensus on elections and postal funding. There`s no consensus on SNAP. There`s no consensus on education. It sounds like there`s just not a consensus on anything. What more can you tell us about what we can expect?
REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): There`s no consensus on voting. No. There ain`t much going on. I don`t know why there`s this recalcitrance on the part of these negotiators. We know that people are out of work. We know that people are about to get kicked out of their homes.
Some of them, they`re rental units. We know these things are imminent. And why we will not sit down and be serious about this, I don`t know. Especially in light of the fact they came to the table asking for $2 billion to build a new FBI headquarters. Asking for money to give businesses launches a 100 percent tax deduction.
Come on. That`s not in a serious negotiating. That`s not anything serious about where this country is when we know that our economy is about to collapse. That communication coming from these CEOs, we`re quite familiar with it. The select subcommittee that I chair stay on top of these kinds of things, and we know that we are in serious and dire circumstances if we don`t get something done within the next several days.
TUR: Help us understand the process here. What is happening on Capitol Hill to try and come up with a compromise or to try to, if you`re the Democrats, convince Republicans to sign on to a version of the heroes act? What are the next steps?
CLYBURN: Well, I don`t know what the next steps are. You`re in a room, you`re around the table. I`m not in this room and around this table, but I have been in a few of them. And you try to make the case as to why this ought to be done. But, you know, you have bunch of people who seem to feel that greed ought to be the order of the day. They don`t deal with need at all.
And what we`re trying to do as Democrats is meeting the need of the American people. They won`t even discuss expanding food stamps for unemployed people. How do they think people are going to go to work? We have essentially workers who qualify for food stamps. We want them to go to work. We say we have to get kids back in school. We do know that they aren`t going to have social gatherings in school, let them have it at home.
The same thing for voting. We know that we`re going to have an election on November 3rd. Why are they trying to cripple the post office? Why are they refusing to put money in here so that we can have fair and unfettered elections? We don`t have to have everybody going to the polls on November 3rd. We can start people to go in to the polls October the 3rd. Or at least 30 days out.
And we can make it possible for people to socially distance, vote from home, and they may or may not use the post office to do so. I love the Colorado method, and I have been asking people to look at it. You don`t always mail your ballot in. You can drop them off at ballot boxes around town. There`s a way to do this. And do it very efficiently, effectively, and equitably. But this administration seems not to want to have elections.
TUR: Speaking of the elections, you said over the weekend that you think the president is trying to -- going to try to invoke some sort of emergency power to try and delay the election. Do you think that they`re trying to mess with the election by not funding elections right now? Are you looking at it that cynically?
CLYBURN: Well, I`m not calling it cynical. But I really believe I`m being realistic about this. You know what he has said. He`s already hinted that he wants to postpone the elections. He is trying to muddy up the waters talking about how unfair and crooked it`s going to be. The state of Washington has been voting by mail for as long as I have been in the Congress almost. The fact of the matter is they have done all the reviews. They can`t find any significant fraud.
You can find fraud if you hold elections in the police station. That`s not the issue here. The issue is whether or not we are going to allow the independence of this democracy go messed with. That is what`s going on here. This democracy is at a crossroads. And if we aren`t (inaudible), one who studied history almost daily, used to teach it, I have never seen this country challenged, its independence challenged, the way this president is challenging it.
He wishes to install himself as America`s first strongman. If we aren`t careful, this tenuous democracy that we have as the United States of America could very well find itself in serious and dire circumstances come November.
TUR: Let me ask you about Joe Biden. He`s extending the time he`s going to take reportedly to pick his vice presidential nominee. There`s also a lot of reporting that things are getting tense between the potential picks. What can you tell us about what kind of vice president Joe Biden needs for November and beyond?
CLYBURN: Well, I have said often that Joe Biden is a very compassionate man. I know him to be that. I have interacted with him a whole lot over the last couple of decades. So he needs to select somebody to complement him. He`s not as passionate in campaigning as we need his running mate to be.
So, I would hope that as he goes through this process, he will let the vetting take place, let the voting take place, have the focus groups, and then when these people are finished, then I think he ought to sit down with Jill along with whomever, and they ought to look at the candidates, rate them, and get the one that he feels, as he says, simpatico with. I call it getting somebody that who compliments the ticket.
He has said often he wants somebody who has strengths where his recognizable weaknesses are. He knows what they are. He is not as passionate about campaigning as many people are. And so I would hope that he`ll find somebody that will add value to the ticket.
TUR: Is that Kamala Harris?
CLYBURN: It could be. It could be any number of other people. You know, I`m not one of those who think it`s down to two or three. I still think there`s six or seven still out there, and I do believe that at least four of them are African-American women.
TUR: Congressman Jim Clyburn, thanks so much for joining us today. We appreciate all of your time, sir.
CLYBURN: Thanks for having me.
TUR: And we`ve got more Biden veepstakes and President Trump`s new campaign ad stoking fears about America under Biden. Also, we`re waiting on the president to begin speaking at the White House. It`s supposed to start at 5:30, once he takes that podium right there on the briefing room, we will take you there live.
First up, though, an update on two natural disasters hitting the country. On the West Coast, a wildfire is ravaging parts of Southern California. Nearly 8,000 people have been forced to leave their homes in Riverside County that is 75 miles east of Los Angeles. The fire has already engulfed more than 26,000 acres. Leaving your home in the middle of a pandemic for fire is extremely complicated.
Also for this, tropical storm Isaias is lashing parts of the East Coast at this hour. The storm is expected to make landfall as a Category 1 hurricane in the Carolinas this evening. Isaias pounded Florida with heavy rain and flooding even though it stayed offshore. The storm is set to move north through Tuesday night.
We`ll be right back.
TUR: Welcome back. Three months until Election Day and the Trump campaign is back on the airwaves, releasing two new TV ads with one message: You will not be safe with Joe Biden in the White House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): The radical left has taken over Joe Biden and the Democratic Party. Don`t let them take over America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUR: These are the first new Trump ads since the campaign went dark last week to re-evaluate its advertising strategy under new campaign manager Bill Stepien. The campaign appears to be following the president`s lead, who claimed last week that there would be bloodshed if Biden is elected.
The Biden campaign responded by accusing the Trump campaign of being locked in a sad and pathetic cycle of bimonthly shambolic message resets.
For more on the Biden campaign, I`m joined by our own Mike Memoli. Also with us is our own Monica Alba, who is covering the president`s campaign.
So Monica, the president and his team, his campaign team, are saying that the country is going to be in terrible shape and super dangerous if Joe Biden is president. The country`s economy is in bad shape. There are dangerous protests happening. The images they use of a dangerous America are the ones under President Trump.
MONICA ALBA, NBC NEWS NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Exactly, Katy. And just look at the content of those new ads that were released today, nothing to do with the coronavirus pandemic. No mention of the economy or the reality under the current president as he tries to seek a second term.
But even more notable is where these ads are airing. If you look at the map, the Trump campaign is now looking to North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, and Arizona for these spots. Not on that list, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. And that tells you a lot about their strategy now, less than 100 days to go, about three months until the election.
And even more striking, the fact that they were off the air entirely all of last week as they re-evaluated the message. And it seems that in the past, all of the attacks they`ve tried today make on the former vice president, on Joe Biden, weren`t working as well. This is something we have reported over the last course of the several last weeks and months, that they had a tough time --
TUR: Monica, I`m so sorry to interrupt you, but the president is taking the podium in the briefing room.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We`ll start by providing information on our response to tropical storm Isaias. TRUMP: Very interesting name. Last week the storm hit Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
And I have issued emergency declarations to support our response in both of those areas. So that`s Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. This week the storm passed just east of Florida, got a little bit lucky, didn`t hit Florida too hard. Working with the governor, working with everybody but it did not hit directly, as a lot of people thought it might.
It`s currently off the coast of South Carolina heading northward to North Carolina. It`s expected to make landfall some time this evening as a Category 1 hurricane. Very serious. A lot of water. A lot of water coming from that storm.
I have already issued emergency declarations for Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina. And FEMA`s personnel, and they are great, they are doing a job. They are already on the ground in all areas, every single area that we mentioned is covered.
Over the next several days there is expected to be heavy wind and rain in the coastal areas of North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey. We are working with each of those states, and in particular as it relates to FEMA, the military, law enforcement, all of the different groups that are involved. Storm surge and inland flooding are possible and everyone needs to remain vigilant until it passes.
I encourage everyone to follow the guidelines of the state and local authorities. We are working with them. And I think the guidelines have been very accurate so far. So stay safe.
Next, let me provide an update on the path forward for our country as we continue our war to defeat the China virus. We are beginning to see evidence of significant progress. Nationwide the number of positive cases has declined by nearly 6 percent from the week before and the positive test rate has also dropped from 8.7 to 8 percent over that same period of time. An encouraging sign. Very encouraging, I have to add that. That the virus is receding.
In hot spots across the South and West, we`ve seen slow improvements from their recent weekly peaks. Arizona`s weekly case counts have dropped 37 percent. That`s a tremendous drop. And the governor and the state have done a fantastic job, down 37 percent. Texas down 18.7 percent. I was there a couple of days ago ago. And Florida, 21.2 percent drop. So that`s a tremendous job that they are all doing.
As we begin to contain the virus in these states, we must focus on new flareups in the states where the case numbers have risen, including Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Missouri. And I think you`ll find that they are soon going to be very much under control.
Meanwhile, 18 states continue to have very low case numbers and low test positivity rates, under 5 percent. Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming. It`s under 5.
Even in these states, however, where the virus is under control and at a very low number, Americans should continue to be vigilant, be careful, in order to prevent new hot spots from opening up or any new hot spots from opening up in those states.
To that end, I urge all Americans to continue to socially distance, wash your hands, wear a mask when you cannot avoid crowded places, and to protect the elderly, very, very important. Protect the elderly. It`s much different. Young children have very strong immune systems. We`ve learned how strong they are. But protect the elderly. The average age of those who have succumbed to the virus is 78 years old. That`s the average age.
It`s important for all Americans to recognize that a permanent lockdown is not a viable path toward producing the result that you want or certainly not a viable path forward and would ultimately inflict more harm than it would prevent. As we are seeing in foreign countries around the world where cases are once again surging, you have many places where we thought they were under control and doing a great job, and they are doing a great job, but this is a very tough, invisible enemy enemy.
Lockdowns do not prevent infection in the future. They just don`t. It comes back, many times it comes back. The purpose of a lockdown is to buy time to build capacity, especially as it respects to -- with respect to hospitals. Learn more about the disease and develop effective treatments as we did in the United States. We are doing very well with the vaccines and the therapeutics.
Countries where there have been very significant flareups over the last short period of time are Spain, Germany, France, Australia, Japan, and also as you probably heard in Hong Kong they`ve had some very serious flareups. Japan has gone, yes, a lot, sixfold, sixfold flareup. That`s a lot. But they will get it under control.
In our current phase, we must focus on protecting those at highest risk while allowing younger and healthier Americans to resume work and school with careful precautions. Ideally we want to open those schools. We want to open them. At the same time, we are placing an emphasize on continuing to drive down the mortality rate with improved care, treatment, and medical interventions, building a bridge to the introduction of a vaccine. The vaccines are coming along incredibly well.
Today I`d like to also provide an update on the actions of my administration and the work that we have done. We are taking -- really taking an increased interest and we are seeing numbers that nobody can believe in terms of percentage increase. It`s telehealth. For American patients, the percentage increase is being worked on right now but it`s very, very significant, numbers that you would not even think possible.
This has been a priority from the beginning of my administration when we launched an initiative to allow veterans to connect remotely with their V.A. health care team, and it worked out really well. We have a 91 percent approval rating in the V.A. in terms of the job we`re doing. That is the first -- it`s the highest ever recorded.
Now telehealth is a critical part of our path forward in the V.A. And it`s becoming a critical path, especially with our senior citizens. You don`t have to go to the doctor`s office. You don`t have to go to hospitals.
When the invisible enemy struck our shores, I took immediate action to eliminate regulatory barriers to telehealth, making it easier for patients to consult with doctors from safety and convenience, and really they have great safety and great convenience, right from their homes.
Today I`m taking action to ensure telehealth is here to stay. Moments ago in the Oval Office I signed an executive order to make many of our regulatory reforms permanent. We have done some regulatory reforms that have had a tremendous impact on what we`re doing. On medicine and medical and what we`re doing. They can do things that you wouldn`t believe that even a year ago, two years ago would not have been doable.
We are enshrining their right of American patients to meet with their medical providers in a way that is best for them and very, very convenient. And very talented people on the other side of the line, I have to tell you. The order builds upon a series of actions we`ve all taken to make telehealth available to all.
We ensured that Medicare covers telehealth visits at no additional cost. That`s no additional cost. And co-payments can be waived for telehealth services. We are working very hard also on prescription drug prices and I will tell you that the favored nations clause that I`ve signed into existence; nobody thought anybody would ever do that. Has a massive impact on prescription drug prices. In addition to the three other elements of reduction of drugs, particular prescription drugs, but the favored nations clause is massive. For instance, if Germany buys a pill, for 10 cents a pill as an example, just as an example, and United States pays two dollars for the same pill, we get the same privilege, the same right as they do. We`ve never had that before.
We paid all of the expenses, all of the research and development. So the numbers are astronomical and as you probably noticed, big ads are taken against me by big pharma. Very big ads, very massive buy. But in the meantime they`re calling; they want to know if they can make a deal. And I say to people, the only reason these ads are being taken is because prices are coming down for you. And they understand that; I think our people understand that.
But in particular, when you look at the matching, you could call it matching or could call it favored nations, call it whatever you like; it`s a tremendous, it`s going to have a tremendous and I`m talking about 50, 60 percent, 70 percent. That doesn`t mean it goes to 10 cents, as an example, but theirs comes up and ours goes down. And you have many, many countries where their numbers, the numbers are so low, I mean so low and by that I mean much lower than the United States.
Another thing I`m doing is if a certain country like Canada, Canada buys for very much less than the United States has bought; how they allowed this to happen, representatives of our country, standing at these podiums or in the Oval Office, how they allowed this to happen is just to me incredible. We`ve been working on this for a long time.
I`ve been talking about it with Kayleigh for a long time. Right? So now a governor like Ron DeSantis of Florida is doing a great job, our great governor of Ohio or our great governor of any state can call up and buy the drugs directly from Canada at sometimes 50 percent less.
So we`ll be buying from Canada. Now what the drug companies are going to do, maybe they`ll raise them, maybe they`ll lower them. Or maybe they`ll just give up and sell them to us directly much cheaper.
So a lot of things are happening, also the rebate; we have people that are very wealthy that nobody ever heard of them, nobody knows who they are. I guess in some cases they could be pharmacies, in some cases they`re individuals; we`re doing a rebate and the rebate goes to the people that lowers the price of drugs. So we have a series of four things that we signed and you will see over a period of, fairly short period, drug prices are going to be tumbling down at numbers that nobody would have ever believed possible.
We have in 51 years the only time prices came down was during this administration. It was last year; 51 years it went up, but that was just a small decline. This is a massive decline. This is a decline that nobody can believe. I was called by senators; I was called by congressmen; please don`t do this.
But Big Pharma doesn`t mean anything to me other than we want them to do a great job. We want them to get their vaccines. We want them to do what has to be done. So I think you`re going to see drug price reductions over the next four or five or six months. Probably take a little while to kick in, that are going to be at numbers that you wouldn`t believe.
But in the meantime they called on Friday afternoon; they want to meet, see if they do something else. They don`t like favored nations clauses; I understand that. We`ve vastly expanded coverage allowing Medicare to cover more than 135 new services, through telehealth by the way, including physical therapy, emergency department visit, home visits, mental health counseling, substance abuse treatment, which is a very big priority. We brought the substance abuse, at least prior to the China plague, whatever you want to call it, we brought it down very substantially.
Pediatric critical care and much more, thanks to our actions an estimated two billion dollars of additional funding will support Medicare patients receiving telehealth services. So a very, very big priority on telehealth. As part of the CARES Act, we secured $200 million to help healthcare providers and hospitals expand their telehealth and they`re all doing it, they`re doing it gladly.
Prior to the epidemic, or the pandemic, whatever you want to say and how you want to refer to it, but prior to the pandemic, the telehealth was fine but it wasn`t anything raging. And I guess one of the only good things that we`ve gotten out of this whole horrible situation is telehealth has been incredible and again, the increases are you know many hundreds of times greater than it was before.
Do you have a number? It`s like 2000 percent or something like that; it`s an incredible, it`s an incredible increase. You`ll get the number, but it`s, I think they have it now finally and it`s really an incredible, thank you, Kayleigh.
We work with the leaders of major health insurance companies to ensure coverage for the telehealth visits related to Coronavirus. We`ve cut red tape to allow many services to be conducted by phone rather than video, which is much simpler, providing a much easier option for many seniors, in particular; 35 percent of the Medicare beneficiaries who`ve received telehealth services or over 3.6 million seniors did so over the phone. So you`re talking about 3.6 million seniors, that`s something; 10.1 Medicare beneficiaries have accessed care through telehealth since the beginning of the pandemic, so you`re talking there 10.1 million people.
In April over 43 percent of all Medicare primary care visits were done via telehealth and compared to less than .01 percent in February; those are part of the numbers that I think I`ll have you get them. So this part you don`t have to, you`ll get the other, the other section, thank you.
So think of that. Compared to less than .01 percent, .01 percent. That`s an incredible number. So over 43 percent of all Medicare and primary care visits were done via telehealth compared to -- so you went from .01 percent to 43 percent; that`s an incredible, that`s an incredible number.
The Executive Order I signed today will also expand healthcare access in rural America. We take care of rural America. It directs agencies to deploy strategic investments in our rural communications` infrastructure and we`re working very hard with all of the people in government that are involved with the communications infrastructure so that the telehealth gets very quick and easy access.
Additionally, revenue for rural providers vary significantly from month-to- month, making it difficult for many to stay in business. Many, many are having a very difficult time. To help fix this problem my order will create a voluntary Medicare payment system that will give rural hospitals flexibility, really great flexibility, and a more consistent income stream to better serve their patients.
Furthermore I am directing the Department of Agriculture, Department of Health and Human Services and the Federal Communications Commission; we were just with the heads of each one in the Oval Office, just before I came up to the podium, to form a task force that will break down barriers to expanding rural healthcare.
This order continues my administration`s focus on rural healthcare. We allocated nearly $165 million through the CARES Act to support nearly 1,800 small rural hospitals who have done an incredible job, as well as $11.5 million to expand technical assistance for rural and underserved areas.
We allocated another $10 billion to 2000 rural hospitals and more than 2,400 rural health clinics. We waived burdens of licensing certification and registration requirements which took tremendous amounts of time and these are people that had great reputations and great track records for practitioners that serve on the frontlines in rural areas, allowing more medical personnel to serve their wonderful patients.
We`re also, in terms of PPE, ensuring that the state and local areas have the supplies they need. We`ve been supplying hospitals and cities and states, governors helping governors as a number that nobody`s ever heard of before; 50,440 nursing homes have received a second shipment of personal protective equipment.
They`re very much stocked up; they`re in great shape. They all have the ventilators, all the ventilators they need, they have actually more than they need. And their equipment, medical equipment is in very, very good shape; they`re full.
My administration has worked with the private sector to deliver over 100 million N-95 respirators, 85 million gloves and nearly 250 million face coverings nationwide. We continue to make the extraordinary progress that we`ve been talking about together on vaccines and treatments under Operation Warp Speed, which is very exciting, most exciting.
Last week we distributed 2,979 cases of Remdesivir, which is proving to be extremely powerful and good; enough to treat more than 19,000 patients had great results. This includes 500 cases for Florida, 500 for Texas, 300 for California, 200 for Ohio and 150 for Arizona and Georgia and those numbers will be going up rapidly as we move along. Hospitals are reporting an adequate supply of steroids such as Dexamethasone, that are used successfully in late stage illness. They`ve been very good.
We`re also very encouraged about the prospects for Plasma therapies and that we`re working on and that`s a brilliant art; it`s really an art. And we launched a national plasma drive last week; I was at the Red Cross building with the American Red Cross and 13 other healthcare organizations. I urge everyone who has recovered from the virus to go to Coronavirus.gov, Coronavirus.gov and donate plasma today.
We would really appreciate it. This really makes people better. But we need, what we need is we need that beautiful ingredient that you that got better seem to have in your veins; you have to go to Coronavirus.gov and donate plasma today. It would be tremendous. We really appreciate it if you do it, because we`re low, we`re low.
We could help a lot more people and it would be a terrific thing. It`ll take an hour, maybe a little bit more than an hour. But everybody will be very appreciative. Makes people better. And you know you have something very special. You had something that knocked it out. So we want to be able to use it so whatever you can do, Coronavirus.gov.
As a result of improvements we`ve made in treatment for Americans over the age of 18, the mortality rate has declined 85 percent from its April peak, 85 percent decline. On vaccines last week we announced a $2.1 billion partnership with Sanofi and GSX (ph) to purchase and produce 100 million doses of their Coronavirus vaccine; 100 million doses. This is the sixth vaccine candidate. We are proactively supporting, we`re supporting numerous companies that are doing very well, having wonderful results and they`re in final stages of testing.
There are now two vaccines in that final stage of clinical trials in America with a third vaccine likely to begin phase three almost immediately. And we have additional clinical trials scheduled over the next few weeks for a couple of the other companies. These are great companies.
These are companies that are not only well known, they`re well respected, most importantly. We`re balancing speed and safety and we`re on pace to have a vaccine available this year, maybe far in advance of the end of the year and we`re mass producing the most promising candidates in advance so that we`re ready immediately upon approval.
We have our military lined up. It`s logistics. It`s all about logistics. They deliver a lot of things including soldiers. But now they`ll be doing vaccine. Our General is already to go and he`s very excited and once we have the vaccine approved, fully approved, he`ll start the process, they will start the process. And they`ll get it out very, very quickly all over the country and maybe beyond if it works as we think it probably will.
By unleashing America`s technical and scientific brilliance, we will end this pandemic and we will hopefully end it very quickly. The therapeutics are very exciting to me, where you can go into a hospital and whether it`s through a shot or a transfusion, you take care of somebody and they get better and that`s something to me that`s very important. And we`re doing really well on therapeutics on very well on vaccines. So thank you all very much for being here. We`ll take a couple of questions and (inaudible) --
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. (inaudible) You`re response to, I didn`t ask a COVID question. First, have you been briefed on the incident off the coast of California where the Marines and the Navy corpsmen, hospital (inaudible) in Turkey died in a training accident a couple of days (inaudible) --
TRUMP: They`re actually briefing me in a little while. We had it scheduled for a little while from (inaudible) --
QUESTION: And you hope to speak to the families?
TRUMP: But now it`s terrible and we`ll be in contact with their families. A thing like that is terrible.
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