President Donald Trump and the Vice President held a 1-hour press conference beginning at 5:40 this evening. They were joined White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Deborah Birx, and Assistant Secretary for Health Admiral Brett Giroir, M.D.
Summary of the President’s remarks and questions:
- The President said the number of new cases continues to decline with all areas of the country getting better.
- He said they are doing everything to gradually reopen our nation. It is clear that the aggressive strategy to slow the spread has been working.
- He again reviewed the number of additional hospital beds and Personal Protective Equipment that has been provided. Every governor has more ventilators than they know what to do with.
- More than 5.4 million tests have been done – more than twice as much as any other country.
- The President spoke about private pharmaceutical companies and retailers having stepped up to provide essential assistance in providing equipment and increasing testing and testing capacity. He invited several executives to briefly describe what their individual companies have been doing, including Stephen Rusckowski (Quest Diagnostics), Adam Schechter (LabCorp), Marc Casper (Thomas Fischer Scientific), John Nims (US Cotton), Richard Ashworth (Walgreens), Rodney McMullen (Kroger), Doug McMillon (Walmart), and Heyward Donigan (Rite Aid).
- The use of unused testing capacity has resulted in a major increase in completed tests, and this capacity continues to be expanded.
- The Administration is releasing additional guidelines on testing, expanding the number of testing platforms.
- The President was asked for his advice to states on reopening. He said he wants states to reopen as quickly and safely as possible, but it is up to them. He suggested that some states may be willing to reopen schools.
- He was asked following reopening what data will be reviewed in the future to see if restrictions should be reimposed. The President said he will be looking at local data and will be reliant on the individual governors.
- He was asked about Dr. Fauci saying testing needs to be doubled. The President said we will have much more than “doubling” soon.
- The President was asked if he agrees with projections that we may see a decline of 20-30% in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the 2nd quarter, the greatest decline since the Great Depression. The President said he did not know, but he expects phenomenal 3rd and 4th quarters, as well as a very strong next year.
Summary of White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Deborah Birx’s remarks:
- Birx reviewed the core elements of the testing plan, including robust diagnostic testing plans, timely monitoring systems, and rapid response programs.
Summary of Assistant Secretary for Health Admiral Brett Giroir, M.D.’s remarks questions:
- Giroir reviewed the 8-part plan for testing, including Stage 1 – Launch, Stage 2 – Scale, and State 3 – Support Opening Up Again.
- He reviewed the volume of supplies being provided to every state, saying that the minimum provided to each state for one month is approximately double what the Republic of Korea has done in total in 4 months.
- The Vice President called on Admiral Giroir to supplement the Vice President’s answer on testing capability in response to the question to the President about Dr. Fauci saying testing needs to be doubled. Admiral Giroir said the number of tests needed depends on individual state levels. Assuming Dr. Fauci was talking about the need for 4 million tests per month, that level will easily be doubled next month. Testing is being matched to machine capabilities. And this future assessment does not include the tests conducted by LabCorp, Quest, or Abbott.
Summary of Vice President Pence’s questions:
- When the President was asked about Dr. Fauci saying testing needs to be doubled, the Vice President said that less than 2 months ago we have less than 10,000 tests. The President brought together a private and public partnership which has resulted in 5.4 million tests having been done. We now can do more than 200,000 tests in a single day. We have sufficient testing today for every state to enter Phase 1.
- When the President was asked about what he has learned about what went wrong with past testing predictions, the Vice President said there was a misunderstanding on the part of the reporter. There was a difference between the ability to have tests and the ability to process tests. There was no disconnect regarding the number of test kits that were available. They needed to bring on new systems as the President did with bringing in private companies. They now could be doing 200,000 tests per week by next week.