4/24/20 OFW Law Daily COVID-19 News Conference Summary

President Donald Trump and the Vice President held a less than 25-minute press conference beginning at 5:40 this evening. Neither the President nor the Vice President took any questions. They were joined by FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn.

Summary of the President’s remarks:

  1. The President said the aggressive strategy is still working. New cases in New York are down 50%, and fatalities are down 40%. The Los Angeles rate of positives has declined from 25 to 15% over the last week. There have been 18 states showing a decline of positive cases in the last 7 days.
  2. Half of Americans live in states that are taking steps to reopen. He asks Americans to follow distancing and hygiene guidelines.
  3. He said he signed the bill providing additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program and healthcare needs. The bill provides $75 billion for hospitals. He urged them to work with their state health authorities to resume elective surgeries.
  4. He talked about the payments sent to millions of Americans.
  5. We now have an overcapacity of ventilators. We will send some to Italy, France and Spain, and could add German if we receive a request.
  6. FDA has approved the first at home COVID-19 testing kit.

Summary of FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn’s remarks and questions:

  1. Commissioner Hahn said the team of 18,000 FDA employees is hard at work.
  2. The President has directed them to cut down as many barriers as FDA can, while paying attention to ensuring safety.
  3. The Commissioner expressed how far we have come in a few short months, working with academia and industry. What normally takes years has occurred in weeks.
  4. FDA has approved 63 emergency use authorizations.
  5. The LabCorp at home test has been authorized. It is mailed to the patient and mailed back under the guidance of a licensed physician.
  6. FDA is working with more than 400 test developers pursuing authorizations. At this time 220 laboratories have begun patient tests using their own validated tests.
  7. FDA is actively involved in finding therapies. There are 72 trials underway, and 211 more in planning stages.
  8. FDA is working vaccines, with 2 firms having announced that FDA has authorized their trials to go forward.
  9. Hahn was asked about a report from a House Oversight Subcommittee releasing findings that FDA does not have any review of the antibody tests currently in the market, and if there is any way to test the accuracy of these tests. Dr. Hahn said that in order to market the tests companies have to do self-validation, tell FDA that they have self-validated, and include information in the packaging noting that the test has not been validated by FDA. FDA has authorized 4 such tests, and is working with CDC and the National Cancer Institute to validate these tests.

Summary of Vice President Pence’s remarks:

  1. The Vice President said that this has been a whole-of-government effort, with full partnership across all levels of government. There was another call with governors today in which efforts taken by states were described.
  2. On today’s call along with FEMA Director Gaynor they reviewed the level of supplies provided to the states.
  3. At the President’s direction it has been one team – one mission. The partnership begins with mitigation. Testing is in the forefront of their minds.
  4. As of this morning 5.1 million Americans have been tested. As testing increases so will the number of positive cases. Americans should not be discouraged because we continue to see positive progress in reducing the number of new cases.
  5. The Vice President detailed some of the reports provided by governors on today’s call, highlighting reports from New York, Tennessee, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Iowa, Indiana, Maryland, Utah, New Jersey, Missouri, and Connecticut.
  6. At the President’s direction we are implementing a testing strategy supported at the federal level but deployed and managed at the state level.

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