Coronavirus - Shaping the Narrative

ema updated 4/25/20 - The fact that COVID-19 has killed more than 50,000 Americans — one early report suggested it could kill over two million (>) — has not put a halt to partisan point scoring.  While the battle against the virus continues, there is another battle ongoing, being waged by leaders and political actors seeking to shape the narrative. 

As Americans confront the broad, deep and increasing ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic, ranging from job losses to shelter in place orders, to the rising death toll, federal, state and local governments have taken numerous, wide-ranging actions in the effort to limit the spread of the virus.  Governors and mayors arre on the frontlines, but the federal government has a central role in setting expectations for citizens, and in coordinating and marshalling resources.  President Trump's leadership during the crisis is going to be critical to his re-election prospects. 

Many, many questions were raised about Trump and his administration's early response.1  It must be noted that the United States has not seen anything like this since the 1918 pandemic (>), so any administration's response would have had shortcomings and problems.  The Trump team rejects charges that he downplayed the seriousness of the situation, pointing to myriad actions taken2 including the frequently cited fact that Trump did impose travel restrictions on China.  But, writing in The Atlantic, McKay Coppins describes how, "The president’s effort to play down the pandemic ...[was] amplified by a coalition of partisan media, digital propagandists, and White House officials."3  The New York Times summed up the administration's response thusly: "Infighting, turf wars and a president more concerned with the stock market and media coverage than policy have defined the Trump White House.  They have also defined how it has handled a pandemic."4   Trump allies praise his "resolute action" and accuse media and Democrats of ginning up "fear and hurt the country to take down Trump." 

                                                                                                         Screen grab of Mar. 21, 2020 briefing from C-SPAN

As the extent of crisis became obvious, President Trump resumed
White House briefings, after going just over a year without them, since Mar. 11, 2019.  Trump was, as National Journal noted, serving as his own press secretary." The briefings, dubbed by some as "The Trump Show," looked fairly effective.  Trump and other officials provided updates, conveying a lot of information and presenting the picture that action was being taken and the president was leading.  The briefings highlighted impressive activity taking place on all fronts, but also provided Trump a platform to air grievances, particularly with the media.6  Indeed several observers suggested the briefings effectively took place of the rallies which Trump was now unable to hold.5 

Unfortunately Trump was also spreading a fair amount of misinformation and false hope, to the extent that some networks debated whether to broadcast the briefings.  For example, despite a lack of have evidence, Trump repeatedly touted the possible benefits of anti-malaria drug hydroxychoroquine.  The limitations of Trump's "winging it" approach became all too apparent at his April 23 briefing where his musings on possibly using ultraviolet light and disinfectant internally left observers dumbstruck (>).  Trump cut off the next day's briefing after 22 minutes.  The White House, which already had concerns Trump was overexposed, signalled the briefings would be curtailed.

By April 24 the number of deaths in the U.S. passed 50,000, more than twice as many as the next most severely hit country Italy.  How did this happen?  The area of testing stands out as an early failing.  In South Korea, where the first case was reported on the same day as in the United States, widespread and convenient testing allowed officials to respond in an informed way.7  The results have been clear.  A New York Times graph showed as of March 30 the number of coronavirus deaths in the U.S. doubling every three days compared to every two weeks for South Korea.8  Without good information, the United States has had to resort to drastic measures such as statewide stay at home orders.  Shortages of ventilators, and of gloves, masks and other protective wear, putting doctors, nurses and other frontline responders at risk, have also been widely reported.  Trump has described himself as a "wartime president."  Critics suggested he should have invoked the Defense Production Act, which he was hesitant to do, to get ahead of the curve. There remains the possibility that a surge of cases will completely overwhelm the healthcare system.

Trump and Democrats have engaged in plenty of fingerpointing and a lot of partisan back and forth.  Early on there was much discussion of Trump's continual referral to the "Chinese virus;" he finally said he would stop using the term in a March 24 interview on Fox News.  Trump has repeatedly argued that his administration "inherited an obsolete, broken, old system that wasn’t meant for this."  The media continue to be a target.  For example on March 25 Trump tweeted that, "The LameStream Media is the dominant force in trying to get me to keep our Country closed as long as possible in the hope that it will be detrimental to my election success."  On Democratic side, some of the criticisms have become very repetitive, leading one to wonder if that energy could more constructively be directed elsewhere.  Biden (and Sanders when he was a candidate) provided regular critiquing of Trump's response, the DNC war room is keeping busy pointing out misinformation in Trump's pronouncements, and Democrat-aligned groups are running hard-hitting ads emphasizing that "Donald Trump failed to act."

Negotiations over economic relief have also become entangled in partisan contention.  In the latter part of March Republicans charged Democrats with using coronavirus "to advance their radical agenda." Democrats warned of corporate bailouts and profiteering.  Vice President Biden stated that," President Trump and Mitch McConnell are trying to put corporate bailouts ahead of families," and Sen. Bernie Sanders pointed to corporations "ripping off U.S. taxpayers and profiteering off of the pandemic."  Negotiators finally reached an agreement early on March 25 and Trump signed the bill into law on March 27.  Simlar partisan back and forth preceded the $484 million interim relief bill that Trump signed on April 24. 

Coronavirus poses possible the greatest challenge to the United States since War War II; one would like to see fewer partisan jibes and more working together to address the crisis.

1. Shane Harris, Greg Miller, Josh Dawsey and Ellen Nakashima.  "U.S. intelligence reports from January and February warned about a likely pandemic."  Washington Post, March 20, 2020.

2. Trump War Room.   "TIMELINE: The Trump Administration's Decisive Actions To Combat the Coronavirus."  Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.

3. McKay Coppins.  "Trump's Dangerously Effective Coronavirus Propaganda."  The Atlantic, March 11, 2020.

4. Maggie Haberman and Noah Weiland. "Inside the Coronavirus Response: A Case Study in the White House Under Trump."  New York Times, March 16, 2020.

5. Daniel Dale.  "Trump uses daily coronavirus briefings to replace campaign rallies."  CNN, March 24, 2020.  and  Windsor Mann.  What Trump's coronavirus briefings are really about."  The Week, March 26, 2020.

6. Transcript below.

7. Dennis Normile. 
"Coronavirus cases have dropped sharply in South Korea. What’s the secret to its success?"  Science, March 17, 2020.

8. "Coronavirus Deaths by U.S State and Country Over Time: Daily Tracking."  New York Times, accessed March 24, 2020.

Below are a few examples from March 19-25 of communications by Republicans and Democrats and allied groups



Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.
Trump War Room
March 19, 2020

TIMELINE: The Trump Administration's Decisive Actions To Combat the Coronavirus

The Trump Administration took critical action early on to combat the coronavirus and keep Americans safe.

From the very beginning, President Trump took decisive action to protect Americans and combat the Chinese coronavirus. While Democrats and the media were obsessed with impeachment, President Trump was focused on protecting Americans' health.

Check out the timeline:

December 31: China reports the discovery of the coronavirus to the World Health Organization.

January 6: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a travel notice for Wuhan, China due to the spreading coronavirus.

January 7: The CDC established a coronavirus incident management system to better share and respond to information about the virus.

January 11: The CDC issued a Level I travel health notice for Wuhan, China.

January 17: The CDC began implementing public health entry screening at the 3 U.S. airports that received the most travelers from Wuhan – San Francisco, New York JFK, and Los Angeles.

January 20: Dr. Fauci announces the National Institutes of Health is already working on the development of a vaccine for the coronavirus.

January 21: The CDC activated its emergency operations center to provide ongoing support to the coronavirus response.

January 23: The CDC sought a “special emergency authorization” from the FDA to allow states to use its newly developed coronavirus test.

January 27: The CDC issued a level III travel health notice urging Americans to avoid all nonessential travel to China due to the coronavirus.

January 29: The White House announced the formation of the Coronavirus Task Force to help monitor and contain the spread of the virus and provide updates to the President.

January 31: The Trump Administration:

  • Declared the coronavirus a public health emergency.
  • Announced Chinese travel restrictions.
  • Suspended entry into the United States for foreign nationals who pose a risk of transmitting the coronavirus.
January 31: The Department of Homeland Security took critical steps to funnel all flights from China into just 7 domestic U.S. airports.

February 3: The CDC had a team ready to travel to China to obtain critical information on the novel coronavirus, but were in the U.S. awaiting permission to enter by the Chinese government.

February 4: President Trump vowed in his State of the Union Address to “take all necessary steps” to protect Americans from the coronavirus.

February 6: The CDC began shipping CDC-Developed test kits for the 2019 Novel Coronavirus to U.S. and international labs.

February 9: The White House Coronavirus Task Force briefed governors from across the nation at the National Governors’ Association Meeting in Washington.

February 11: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) expanded a partnership with Janssen Research & Development to “expedite the development” of a coronavirus vaccine.

February 12: The U.S. shipped test kits for the 2019 novel coronavirus to approximately 30 countries who lacked the necessary reagents and other materials.

February 12: The CDC was prepared to travel to China but had yet to receive permission from the Chinese government.

February 14: The CDC began working with five labs to conduct “community-based influenza surveillance” to study and detect the spread of coronavirus.

February 18: HHS announced it would engage with Sanofi Pasteur in an effort to quickly develop a coronavirus vaccine and to develop treatment for coronavirus infections.

February 24: The Trump Administration sent a letter to Congress requesting at least $2.5 billion to help combat the spread of the coronavirus.

February 26: President Trump discussed coronavirus containment efforts with Indian PM Modi and updated the press on his Administration’s containment efforts in the U.S. during his state visit to India.

February 29: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allowed certified labs to develop and begin testing coronavirus testing kits while reviewing pending applications.

February 29: The Trump Administration:

  • Announced a level 4 travel advisory to areas of Italy and South Korea.
  • Barred all travel to Iran.
  • Barred the entry of foreign citizens who visited Iran in the last 14 days.
March 3: The CDC lifted federal restrictions on coronavirus testing to allow any American to be tested for coronavirus, “subject to doctor’s orders.”

March 3: The White House announced President Trump donated his fourth quarter salary to fight the coronavirus.

March 4: The Trump Administration announced the purchase of $500 million N95 respirators over the next 18 months to respond to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

March 4: Secretary Azar announced that HHS was transferring $35 million to the CDC to help state and local communities that have been impacted most by the coronavirus.

March 6: President Trump signed an $8.3 billion bill to fight the coronavirus outbreak.

The bill provides $7.76 billion to federal, state, & local agencies to combat the coronavirus and authorizes an additional $500 million in waivers for Medicare telehealth restrictions.

March 9: President Trump called on Congress to pass a payroll tax cut over coronavirus.

March 10: President Trump and VP Pence met with top health insurance companies and secured a commitment to waive co-pays for coronavirus testing.

March 11: President Trump:

  • Announced travel restrictions on foreigners who had visited Europe in the last 14 days.
  • Directed the Small Business Administration to issue low-interest loans to affected small businesses and called on congress to increase this fund by $50 billion.
  • Directed the Treasury Department to defer tax payments for affected individuals & businesses, & provide $200 billion in “additional liquidity.”
  • Met with American bankers at the White House to discuss coronavirus.
March 13: President Trump declared a national emergency in order to access $42 billion in existing funds to combat the coronavirus.

March 13: President Trump announced:

  • Public-private partnerships to open up drive-through testing collection sites.
  • A pause on interest payments on federal student loans.
  • An order to the Department of Energy to purchase oil for the strategic petroleum reserve.
March 13: The Food & Drug Administration:

  • Granted Roche AG an emergency approval for automated coronavirus testing kits.
  • Issued an emergency approval to Thermo Fisher for a coronavirus test within 24 hours of receiving the request.
March 13: HHS announced funding for the development of two new rapid diagnostic tests, which would be able to detect coronavirus in approximately 1 hour.

March 14: The Coronavirus Relief Bill passed the House of Representatives.

March 14: The Trump Administration announced the European travel ban will extend to the UK and Ireland.

March 15: President Trump held a phone call with over two dozen grocery store executives to discuss on-going demand for food and other supplies.

March 15: HHS announced it is projected to have 1.9 million COVID-19 tests available in 2,000 labs this week.

March 15: Google announced a partnership with the Trump Administration to develop a website dedicated to coronavirus education, prevention, & local resources.

March 15: All 50 states were contacted through FEMA to coordinate “federally-supported, state-led efforts” to end coronavirus.

March 16: President Trump:

  • Held a tele-conference with governors to discuss coronavirus preparedness and response.
  • Participated in a call with G7 leaders who committed to increasing coordination in response to the coronavirus and restoring global economic confidence.
  • Announced that the first potential vaccine for coronavirus has entered a phase one trial in a record amount of time.
  • Announced “15 days to slow the spread” coronavirus guidance.
March 16: The FDA announced it was empowering states to authorize tests developed and used by labs in their states.

March 16: Asst. Secretary for Health confirmed the availability of 1 million coronavirus tests, and projected 2 million tests available the next week and 5 million the following.

March 17: President Trump announced:

  • CMS will expand telehealth benefits for Medicare beneficiaries.
  • Relevant Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act penalties will not be enforced.
  • The Army Corps of Engineers is on ”standby” to assist federal & state governments.
March 17: President Trump spoke to fast food executives from Wendy’s, McDonald’s and Burger King to discuss drive-thru services recommended by CDC

March 17: President Trump met with tourism industry representatives along with industrial supply, retail, and wholesale representatives.

March 17: Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin met with lawmakers to discuss stimulus measures to relieve the economic burden of coronavirus on certain industries, businesses, and American workers.

March 17: Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced a partnership between USDA, Baylor University, McLane Global, and Pepsi Co. to provide one million meals per weak to rural children in response to widespread school closures.

March 17: The Treasury Department:

  • Contributed $10bil through the economic stabilization fund to the Federal Reserve’s commercial paper funding facility.
  • Deferred $300 billion in tax payments for 90 days without penalty, up to $1mil for individuals & $10mil for business.

March 17: The Department of Defense announced it will make available to HHS up to five million respirator masks and 2,000 ventilators.

March 18: President Trump announced:

  • Temporary closure of the U.S.-Canada border to non-essential traffic.
  • Plans to invoke the Defense Production Act in order to increase the number of necessary supplies needed to combat coronavirus.
  • FEMA has been activated in every region at its highest level of response.
  • The U.S. Navy will deploy USNS Comfort and USNS Mercy hospital ships.
  • All foreclosures and evictions will be suspended for a period of time.
  • March 18: Secretary of Defense Mark Esper confirmed:
  • 1 million masks are now immediately available.
  • The Army Corps of Engineers is in NY consulting on how to best assist state officials.
March 18: HHS temporarily suspended a regulation that prevents doctors from practicing across state lines.

March 18: President Trump spoke to:

  • Doctors, physicians, and nurses on the front lines containing the spread of coronavirus.
  • 130 CEOs of the Business Roundtable to discuss on-going public-private partnerships in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Republican National Committee
March 20, 2020
email from Steve Guest.  subject: resolute action

Today, President Trump showed the American people what “resolute action” to combat the coronavirus looks like.
He took “unprecedented actions” with Canada and Mexico to restrict non-essential travel across our northern and southern borders.
As Dr. Fauci explained, this move is “important” for the public health of America.
Furthermore, President Trump invoked the Defense Production Act and announced that he was waiving all interest on federal student loans, not enforcing standardized tests, and he was suspending student loan payments for 60 days.


NOTE: The American people have coalesced behind President Trump’s leadership: more than half of all Americans approve of the job that the President is doing in managing the coronavirus crisis.


But as today’s press conference showed, instead of prioritizing getting accurate information to the American people, some reporters used the opportunity to engage in self-indulgent gotcha questions, trying to pit members of the administration against each other.


And as Secretary Pompeo said, “All we ask is that you listen to what we say, and report it accurately.”

Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.
March 21, 2020

NBC's Peter Alexander is Dishonest. The Full Video Proves It.

Media triggered by the President's optimistic, hopeful message to Americans.
President Trump said NBC's Peter Alexander is a "terrible reporter." Alexander is proving Trump right by lying about what he did during yesterday's White House press briefing on the coronavirus response efforts.

After his exchange with President Trump, Alexander said on MSNBC, "I was trying to provide the president an opportunity to reassure the millions of Americans" who may be scared amid the coronavirus outbreak. "This was his opportunity to ... provide a sort of positive or uplifting message."

"Americans are looking for a sense of confidence in their leaders," Alexander added, claiming he gave President Trump "an opportunity to provide for Americans some reassurance" and "the President instead took it out on me."

This is pure, dishonest garbage. As the full video shows, President Trump was in the middle of delivering a positive, uplifting message to Americans who may be afraid, and Peter Alexander was triggered by it.

President Trump was expressing hope in the potential for a drug to treat the coronavirus to be a "gamechanger," and confidently reassuring Americans that "the FDA is working very hard to get it out."

"I am a man that comes from a very positive school," said President Trump.

Peter Alexander was having none of this uplifting message or optimism. "[T]here is no magic drug for coronavirus," Alexander argued, attempting to throw water on President Trump's positive message to Americans who may be afraid.

Alexander was clearly triggered by the President's reassuring message to the American people. How dare he try give the people hope?!

"Is it possible that your impulse to put a positive spin on things may be giving Americans a false sense of hope?" Alexander speculated, accusing the President of "misrepresenting" and implying scared Americans should have not take heart in the President's positive message.

What a dumb question. What did Alexander think President Trump was going to say? "You're right, Peter. Americans should not be hopeful right now"?
Angered by the President's refusal to fearmonger, Alexander decided to give it a try by hyping the death toll:

"What do you say to Americans who are scared, though? Nearly 200 dead. 14,000 who are sick; millions, as you witness, who are scared right now. What do you say to Americans who are watching you right now who are scared?"
Perhaps if Alexander hadn't been so determined to undermine the President's message, he would have heard it.

The fact is that the media hates President Trump's optimistic, hopeful, and positive message to Americans. They hate his emphasis on "the American spirit" and getting through this tough time together. They hate that Americans are rallying behind President Trump's unifying message.

Need more evidence? Look at the spin CNN was pushing hours before they started falsely claiming President Trump had no message for scared Americans: Pay no attention to the President's message of hope!

NBC's Peter Alexander does not want Americans to have hope. CNN does not want Americans to have hope.

Why? Because they hate Donald Trump, and if they have to gin up more fear and hurt the country to take down Trump, they absolutely will.

ed. note: A transcript of one of President Trump's briefings.  This one lasted an hour an a half.  Trump's calling out of NBC's Peter Alexander caused considerable comment (see above).

The White House

Remarks by President Trump, Vice President Pence, and Members of the Coronavirus Task Force in Press Briefing

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

March 20, 2020

[C-SPAN video]

11:50 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  I had a very good telephone conversation — extremely good — with Senator Schumer a little while ago.  We’re working on various elements of the deal, and the Democrats are very much wanting something to happen, and the Republicans, likewise, are very much wanting something to happen.  And I think it will.

I spoke with — at length with Mitch McConnell.  And there’s tremendous spirit to get something done, so we’ll see what happens.  But my conversation was very good with Senator Schumer.
I thank you all for joining us, and I’d like to begin by providing an update on what we are doing to minimize the impact of the Chinese virus on our nation’s students.

With many schools closed due to the virus, the Department of Education will not enforce standardized testing requirements, very importantly, for students in elementary through high school for the current year.  They’ve been through a lot.  They’ve been going back and forth; schools open, schools not open.  It’s been all standardized testing.  And, you know, it’s — we’re not going to be enforcing that, so I think you can let people know.  I think probably a lot of the students will be extremely happy; some probably not.  The ones that work hard, maybe not.  But it’s one of those things.  Unfortunate — very unfortunate circumstance.

We’ve also temporarily waived all interest on federally held student loans.  They’ll be very happy to hear that.  And I’ve instructed them to take that action immediately.  And today, Secretary DeVos has directed federal lenders to allow borrowers to suspend their student loans and loan payments without penalty for at least the next 60 days.  And if we need more, we’ll extend that period of time.  Borrowers should contact their lenders, but we’ve given them very strong instructions.
So we’ve temporarily waived all interest on federally held student loans.  That’s a big thing.  That’s going to make a lot of students very happy.  And we have more to come on student loans — more good news for the students — but we’ll do that at a different time.

This morning, the Treasury Department also announced that we’re moving Tax Day from April 15 to July 15.  So we’re moving it out to July 15th so that people will have time and people will be able to — hopefully, by that time, we’ll have people getting back to their lives.  Families and businesses will have this extra time to file with no interest or penalties.  We’re getting rid of interest and penalties.

However, if you have refunds or credits you would like to claim, you may still file.  In other words, you can file early if you are owed money by the IRS.  Other than that, we’re moving it all the way out to July 15th — no interest, no penalties.  Your new date will be July 15.

Today, our team will also provide an update on our continuing effort to prevent the transmission of virus across America’s borders.  And I watched what’s been happening in California with Governor Newsom and, this morning, with Governor Cuomo, and I applaud them.  They’re taking very strong, bold steps, and I applaud them.  And we’re all working together.  We’re working very closely together, including those two governors.

But I would say, based on the call — the media was there — I think we can say that, with respect to virtually every governor on that call, I think every governor — we had almost all of them, if not all of them — and I would say that you could see for yourselves that the level of respect and esprit de corps working together was extraordinary.  There was nobody angry, nobody upset.  We’re able to help them, and that’s what we’re all about.  We want to help.

We’re doing things that a lot of people wouldn’t be able to do.  But the relationship with governors and states is, I think, very extraordinary, especially under the circumstances where this just came upon us.

We’re working with Canada and Mexico to prevent the spread of the virus across North America, very closely.  You heard what we did yesterday with Canada.  And Secretary of State Pompeo will be making a statement in a little while having to do with Mexico and the border.  And Chad likewise — Chad Wolf will likewise be making a statement.  This is a joint comprehensive effort in collaboration with our neighbors.

The measure and all of those measures that we’re putting in place will protect the health of all three nations and reduce the incentive for a mass global migration that would badly deplete the healthcare resources needed for our people.  And so we are working very closely with Mexico, very, very closely with Canada.  The relationship has never been better.  We’re all working for the same — toward the same goal.

Our nation’s top healthcare officials are extremely concerned about the grave public health consequences of mass uncontrolled cross-border movement.  And that would be mostly — and even beyond — but mostly during this global pandemic.

Every week, our border agents encounter thousands of unscreened, unvetted, and unauthorized entries from dozens of countries.  And we’ve had this problem for decades.  For decades.  You know the story.  But now it’s — with the national emergencies and all of the other things that we’ve declared, we can actually do something about it.  We’re taking a very strong hold of that.  And we have before, but this is now at a level that nobody has ever approached.

In normal times, these massive flows place a vast burden on our healthcare system, but during a global pandemic, they threaten to create a perfect storm that would spread the infection to our border agents, migrants, and to the public at large.  Left unchecked, this would cripple our immigration system, overwhelm our healthcare system, and severely damage our national security.  We’re not going to let that happen.

So we have a lot of information, and they’ll be discussing that in a moment.

To confront these public health degrees [dangers], the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has decided to exercise its authority under the Title 42 of the U.S. Code to give Customs and Border Protection the tools it needs to prevent the transmission of the virus coming through both the northern and the southern border.  So we’re treating the borders equally — the northern border and the southern border.  It’s being treated — they’re both being treated equally.  A lot of people say that they’re not treated equally.  Well, they are.

As we did with Canada, we’re also working with Mexico to implement new rules at our ports of entry to suspend non-essential travel.  These new rules and procedures will not impede lawful trade and commerce.  Furthermore, Mexico is taking action to secure our own southern border and suspend air travel from Europe.  So we’re coordinating very closely the air travel going to Mexico and then trying to come into the United States.

The actions we’re taking together with our North American partners will save countless lives.
At the conclusion of my remarks, Secretary Azar, Secretary Pompeo, Secretary Wolf — we’re going to be also taking some questions with Tony and Deborah, who you’ve gotten to know very well — but they’ll be discussing certain things, and I think you’ll find them of great interest.  We’re going to be providing tremendous amounts of detail over the coming days, but a lot of it will be provided right now if you’d like to find out about it.

This has been a week of resolute action, tremendous action.  Tremendous relationships have developed with people that, frankly, didn’t get along.  People that didn’t like each other, they’re now working together and maybe, even in some cases, learning about each other and liking each other.  It’s a nice thing.

I invoked the Defense Production Act, and last night, we put it into gear.  We moved the National Response Coordination Center to the highest level of activist [sic].  I mean, if you — if you take a look at what we did, the level of activation has been increased to a grade one level, which is the highest level.

We’re providing historic support to small businesses and to the states.  The states need support.  Normally they do this themselves, but because of the magnitude of it, the federal government has gotten very much involved in terms of getting the equipment they need.  So we’re helping them.  It’s — it’s a responsibility they have, but we are helping the states a lot.  That’s why the governors, I think in every case, have been impressed and very nice.

We enacted legislation guaranteeing paid sick leave for workers at no cost to employers.  And I think it’s very important.  So they get paid sick leave at no cost to employers.

We’re accelerating the use of new drug treatments.  We’re advancing legislation to give direct payments to hardworking families.  Throughout our country, Americans from all walks of life are rallying together to defeat the unseen enemy striking our nation.  In times of struggle, we see the true greatness of the American character, and we are seeing that.  A lot of people are talking about it.

We’re at 141 countries, from what they’re telling me, and some of those countries are really working in a unified manner.  And they’re working very unified with us, almost — I could say a good — a good number of them.

Doctors and nurses are working nonstop to heal the sick.  Citizens and churches are delivering meals to the needy.  Truckers are making the long haul to keep shelves stocked.  We’ve been dealing with the big stores and the big chains, Walmart — they’ve been fantastic — and others.  They’ve all been fantastic.  We’ve made it much easier for them to stock.  In terms of travel and travel restrictions, we’re lifting restrictions so they can get their trucks on time.

You’re seeing very few empty shelves, and yet the amount of volume that they are doing is unprecedented because people want to have what they have to have, what they feel they have to have.  And they’re also buying in slightly smaller quantities, which is good — because we’re not going anywhere.  We’re going to be here.  So I want to thank all of those very great companies for working so well.

Americans from every walk of life are coming together.  And thanks to the spirit of our people, we will win this war, and we are.  We’re winning and we’re going to win this war.  America will triumph and America will rise higher than ever before.  We’ll be stronger than ever before, and we’ve learned a lot. We’ve learned a lot.  We’ve learned a lot about relying on other countries, and I can say that I think in both a very good and a very bad way.  Some good things came out of it and some not so good things came out of it.

So I’d like to move now to invite our team to provide information on the new measures to prevent viral spread at our borders.  And I’ll start by asking Secretary of State Pompeo to speak.  He’s doing a fantastic job.  And like everyone else, he’s been working very, very long and very, very hard.  And he’s doing the other more normal jobs of a great Secretary of State, but he got — he got tied into this like everybody else, and he’s been really doing a fantastic job.
Mike, please.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Thank you, Mr.  President.  Before I address the efforts that we’ve been engaged in to push back against the Chinese virus, I want to assure the American people that, as President Trump just said, your State Department, your entire national security team is staying focused on the other diplomatic challenges around the world.  Those include reducing risk to America from Afghanistan, holding the Iranian regime accountable for its malign activity.  And our counterterrorism efforts against ISIS remain a priority for our team.

Our number one priority across those mission sets remains the protection of the American people.  The President and our team are very focused on it.

I’ll take this moment, too, to thank my team, the State Department team, who is working long hours all around the world to take care of Americans who are stuck at places around the world.  I’ll talk about that more in just a minute.  You’ve all seen Dr. Birx with me.  State Department officials are doing great work, but I want to — I want to give a shout-out to all of the State Department team, here in Washington and around the world, that are working overtime to help us push back against this pandemic.

Under the President’s leadership this week, we’ve taken two important steps.  First, as President Trump announced on Wednesday, the United States and Canada jointly agreed to restrict all non-essential traffic across our border.  This decision goes into effect tonight at midnight.  The restrictions will be reviewed after 30 days, and they exclude traffic and movement across the border for work or other essential reasons.  We’re grateful to have such an outstanding friend to the north who is committed, as we are, to defeating this virus.

I also want to announce today that the United States and Mexico have agreed to restrict non-essential travel across our shared border.  Both our countries know the importance of working together to limit the spread of the virus to ensure that commerce that supports our economy continues to keep flowing.  Here, too, the United States is glad to have a friend who is working side by side us in the fight.  Secretary Wolf will talk a little bit more about the details of how we’re working alongside our partner in Mexico to keep our southern border safe and secure as well.
On another note, yesterday the State Department issued a Level 4 global travel advisory.  This means that all international travel from U.S. citizens should be avoided.  In countries where commercial departure options remain available, U.S. citizens who reside in the United States should arrange for immediate return to the United States unless they’re prepared to remain abroad for an extended time.  If you choose to travel internationally, your travel plans may well be severely disrupted.

And finally, I want to talk about the disinformation that people are seeing both on Twitter and around the world — some of it coming from government, some of it coming from other individuals.  I just urge everyone, as they’re seeing information — information that at one time suggested somehow this virus emanated from the United States Army, this information about lockdowns that are taking place: Every American indeed, and people all around the world, should ensure that where they turn to for information is a reliable source and not a bad actor trying to create and flow information that they know is wrong.

This is a tough fight.  The American people are tougher.  Our diplomatic teams are working around the clock to help them keep safe both home and abroad.  And we’re showing, once again, the global leadership that America has always delivered.  It’s been great to see countries around the world rally behind what President Trump and our team are doing.
Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, Mike.  Thank you very much.  And we’ll take questions right after this.
Chad Wolf, please.

ACTING SECRETARY WOLF:  Well, let me start off by thanking the President and the Vice President for their continued leadership and commitment for protecting the American people during this crisis.

Early on, the President, again, took unprecedented actions to restrict travel from areas affected with the coronavirus.  And today, DHS has screened over 200,000 individuals coming back from those affected countries.  This has been an immense undertaking but one that the men and women of DHS have successfully accomplished.

Today’s announcement is yet another example of the extraordinary steps the administration is taking to ensure the safety of the American public.  Before I comment on the CDC order that I’m sure Secretary Azar will later elaborate on, let me first address the progress as Secretary Pompeo and others have made with our Canadian and Mexican partners regarding cross-border travel.

As we continue to evaluate common-sense measures that reduce risk and prevent further spread, it only makes sense that we have looked at the measures that our neighbors to the north and south are undertaking.  And so we’ve been working closely with those partners since the earliest days of this virus and the outbreak.  And again, as the President said earlier this week and Secretary Pompeo, we’ve reached an agreement — an agreement with both Canada and Mexico to limit non-essential travel across our land borders.

Let me be clear that neither of these agreements with Canada or Mexico applies to lawful trade or commerce.  Essential commercial activities will not be impacted.  We will continue to maintain a strong and secure economic supply chain across our borders.

A few examples of essential travel include but certainly are not limited to: individuals traveling for medical purposes, to attend educational institutions, for emergency response, public health services, and individuals engaged in lawful cross-border trade.  As the Secretary said, the agreements with both Canada and Mexico will go into effect on Saturday, March 21st.

Furthermore, we’re also working collaboratively with Canada and Mexico to take decisive joint action regarding individuals seeking entry between our ports of entry.  The CDC order directs the Department to suspend the introduction of all individuals seeking to enter the U.S. without proper travel documentation.  That’s for both the northern and southern border.

The CDC Director has determined that the introduction and spread of the coronavirus and the Department’s Border Patrol stations and detention facilities presents a serious danger to migrants, our frontline agents and officers, and the American people.

So it’s important to note that the Department currently apprehends foreign nationals from over 120 different countries around the world — the vast majority of those having coronavirus cases.  Many of these individuals arrive with little or no identity, travel, or medical documentation, making public health risk determinations all but impossible.

It’s also important to note that the outbreak on our southern border would likely increase the strain on health systems in our border communities, taking away important and lifesaving resources from American citizens.

Tonight — again, at midnight — we will execute the CDC order by immediately returning individuals arriving without documentation to Canada, Mexico, as well as a number of other countries without delay.  So, again, CBP is positioned to execute these measures as we continue to keep our borders secure and safe.

Before I conclude, let me just wrap up by thanking the brave men and women of DHS, specifically CBP, and across the government for the work that they do day in and day out to keep the American people safe from the coronavirus.  The Department has a number of frontline officers that have been — have tested positive, as well as the others who are self-quarantining.  And I am doing everything that I can to protect these patriots as they continue to defend our homeland during this crisis.

Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much, Chad.  Really good.  Thank you.  Please, Secretary?

SECRETARY AZAR:  Today’s announcement is just the latest in a long line of bold, decisive actions the President has taken to protect Americans from the coronavirus spreading across our borders.

In January, within two weeks of China’s notifying WHO about the virus and with only 45 cases in China, we began screening travelers from Wuhan.  Then, over time, as the outbreak evolved, the President restricted travel from China, Iran, and Europe.  Our health experts say that these measures have been truly effective at slowing the virus’s spread to our shores.

Just think about this: Italy and the United States both saw their first travel-related case of coronavirus around the exact same time, the last week of January.  And yet, we have had precious time to continue our work around vaccines, therapeutics, and other preparations, while Italy has tragically been overwhelmed with critical patients for several weeks now.

The President today is taking action to slow the spread of infectious disease via our border.  Under Section 362 of the Public Health Service Act, the CDC is suspending the entry of certain persons into the United States because of the public health threat that their entry into the United States represents.

This order applies to persons coming from Mexico and Canada who are seeking to enter the country illegally and who would normally be held in a congregate setting like a Customs and Border Protection station.  It does not apply to U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents.
During this pandemic, a number of health challenges arise when illegal immigrants arrive at our northern and southern borders and are taken into immigration custody.  We’re talking about significant numbers of illegal immigrants.  From this past October through February, DHS has processed more than 21,000 inadmissible aliens at the northern border and more than 151,000 inadmissible aliens at the southern border.

CBP facilities were never designed to hold large numbers of people and to protect agents and migrants from infection during a pandemic, nor to treat them for a novel virus if large numbers are infected.  When held at border facilities, these migrants risk spreading the virus to other migrants, to CBP agents and border healthcare workers, and even the United States population as a whole.  In such circumstances, the kind of social distancing measures the CDC and the President have recommended are simply not possible.

On top of that, any resources that we are using to reduce the risk of infection among CBP agents, healthcare workers, and migrants in these facilities are drawing on American — an American healthcare system that is already fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

That’s why the President and his administration are taking these important steps to keep Americans and our immigration system safe from these health risks as part of our whole-of-government approach to combatting the coronavirus.

Thank you, Mr. President, for the work that you’ve been doing throughout this crisis to slow the spread of the coronavirus and to keep our country safe.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  Thank you.  If I could ask Tony or Deb, please.

DR. BIRX:  Thank you.  Thank you, Mr. President.  So we continue to review the data very carefully from around the globe, as I know many of you are.  We continue to see signs that, again, individuals under 20 — 19 and under — may have severe disease, but majority and all have recovered to date.  We still see that same trend.

And, frankly, from Italy, we’re seeing another concerning trend: that the mortality in males seems to be twice in every age group of females.  This should alert all of us to continue our vigilance to protect our Americans that are in nursing homes.

This requires all of the community.  And when you see the sacrifices that many Americans have made — the sacrifices that the service industry has made to close their restaurants, close their bars, and so that the spread is discontinued — and then you really understand how all of Americans must make the same sacrifice.

We continue to ask you to follow the presidential guidelines of no groups coming together of more than 10; that, if anyone in the household is sick, that everyone quarantines in the household together; and that we continue to focus on those who have the most vulnerability to this illness.
Now, to the moms and dads out there that have children with immunodeficiencies or other medical conditions: We don’t know the level of risk.  And I know you will also protect them in the same way.  There just is not enough numbers at this time to really tell them if they’re at additional risk or not in the same way that adults are.

I don’t have any new data.  I can see the look on your face as saying, “Is she seeing something new?”  I don’t have any new data, but I think it’s important for us to be as honest with the American people as we can.  And when we don’t have data, be very clear that we don’t know.

Finally, no one is immune.  I sometimes hear people on radio or others talking about, “I’m immune to the virus.”  We don’t know if the contagion levels are difference in age groups, but we know it’s highly contagious to everyone.

Do not interpret mild or moderate disease as lack of contagion, or that you’re immune.  You just happen to have a better immune system and the ability to fight the virus in a way that maybe older people or people with existing medical conditions can’t.

And that’s why it’s very important at this moment, that all of you carry that message about the sacrifices that many have made, particularly our service providers and our frontline healthcare workers.  They are making that sacrifice every day so that every American can move through this well.  But we need every American following the presidential guidelines.

Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  Tony, please.

DR. FAUCI:  Thank you very much, Mr. President.  I just want to underscore a couple of things that I’ve said a few times to this group.  You may recall that just a week ago or so I said the two pillars, the two elements of our capability to contain the infection and the surge of infections in this country rely on two things: keeping infections from coming from without in.  We’ve been very successful in doing that with China and with Europe.  Now we have the northern and southern border issues.  There’s a fundamental public health reason for doing that, because we cannot be preventing people from coming in from one area when they can actually go into the other.  So that’s an important reason.  Understand that there’s a public health reason for doing that.

The second thing — and I think it’s really important — is what happened in New York today, where Governor Cuomo mentioned about an hour ago some rather strong issues that have been addressed with his recommendations — not recommendations; essentially, orders.

Now, we have a group of recommendations and guidelines that are applicable to the entire country.  You know them; we’ve been over them.  Yet there are places, regions, states, cities in this country that are being stressed much, much more than the country as a whole.  Clearly, one of them was Washington; another one was California.  Governor Newsom made some very important, difficult decisions.  Today, Governor Cuomo did the same thing.  And I want to say I strongly support what he’s doing.

And one thing, as a New Yorker myself — for those of you who haven’t figured out from my accent that I’m from New York — as a New Yorker, I know what New Yorkers can do.  We’re tough.  I was in New York City on September 11, 2001, and I know what the New Yorkers can do.  So please cooperate with your governor, cooperate with your mayor.  It’s very important.

Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, Tony.  Mike?

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  That’s great.  Thank you, Mr. President.  The White House Coronavirus Task Force met this morning and we continue, at the President’s direction, to bring the full resources, not just of the federal government, but in full partnership with our state governments, businesses around America, and a partnership with the American people to respond to the threat of the coronavirus.

And I know I can speak on behalf of the President with confidence when I say how inspired we are by the way the American people and American businesses are coming together to help defeat this virus in our country.  Millions of Americans are putting into practice the President’s 15-day guidelines, and we encourage everyone, even those that are not in areas with significant outbreak, to review these guidelines over the next week and more, and put them into practice.  And you’ll continue to do your part.

Later today, we’ll be talking with manufacturers around the country.  And the President I continue to be inspired by the way American industry is stepping forward.  We have businesses around the country that are literally volunteering to retrofit plants to help us meet the needs of our healthcare workers and our healthcare system in confronting the coronavirus.

As the President mentioned yesterday, following his decision to put FEMA in the lead — the emergency declaration — we actually met with all the nation’s governors from the FEMA National Response Coordination Center.  The President and I, our entire team at the federal level, couldn’t be more grateful for the efforts of all of our governors in implementing the guidance that is being issued not only from our task force, but also in taking strong measures in their own communities to protect their citizens.

We want to urge every American to heed your local authorities.  Listen to their guidance.  And also do your part to slow the spread.

We reiterated to all of the governors that the President, by putting FEMA in the lead, will continue to implement a plan that is locally executed, state managed, and federally supported that puts the health of America first.

We have received a report today, as the President mentioned, on our legislative team on Capitol Hill.  We’re working with Republicans and Democrats at this very hour to pass an economic recovery package that the President described.  And we hope to see the Congress act on that early next week.

On the subject of supplies, we continue to make steady progress on testing.  Thanks to the President’s involvement of commercial labs, the public and private partnership, more and more Americans are being tested every single day.

And tomorrow, Admiral Giroir and FEMA will update the American public on the status of testing and our support of state-based testing efforts that are literally expanding by the hour.
On the subject of medical supplies, we continue, at the President’s direction, to pursue every means to expand the supply of personal protective equipment for the extraordinary and courageous healthcare workers that are ministering to the needs of people impacted by the coronavirus.  We have a policy of procuring, allocating, as well as conserving the resources that we have in our system.

And now that the President worked with the Congress to make industrial masks fully available for hospitals to be able to purchase, to be able to use as protective equipment, we’re more encouraged than ever about the availability of those important N95 masks to our healthcare facilities.

And over this weekend, we’ll be announcing a major procurement from the federal government of N95 masks, as well.

We’re also encouraged that we’re finding new alternatives to increase the supply of ventilators.  We’ve mentioned that we have a federal stockpile, some 20,000 ventilators on standby, but that doesn’t count the tens of thousands of ventilators that are in our healthcare system around the country.

But the President has challenged us to work to free up other ventilators from other sources around the country.  And there are two different ways that we’re doing that.  Number one, in our recent discussion with anesthesiologists, we’ve literally identified tens of thousands of existing ventilators that can be retrofitted and converted to be ventilators for people struggling with the coronavirus.

But also, on the President’s behalf and on behalf of all of our task force, we want to continue to urge every American and every American hospital and healthcare facility to postpone any elective medical procedures.  This will free up bed space, free up hospital capacity for people that are struggling with the coronavirus, and it will also free up equipment that our healthcare workers need.
It is inspiring that we continue to receive reports that businesses around America are donating N95 masks to their local hospitals.  Businesses large and small are donating hundreds, in some cases millions, of N95 masks.  And I know — I know how grateful the President is and we all are.

And let me close by saying, as all of our experts have said many times, while the threat of serious illness to the average American from the coronavirus remains low, every American can do your part to reduce the burden on your health, on your family, the burden on our healthcare system and especially the threat to the most vulnerable among us by putting into practice the President’s “15 Days to Slow the Spread.”

And as the President said at the outset of his remarks, I know that millions of Americans are doing that just now.  And the greatness of the American character is shining forth.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, Mike.  Thank you very much.

Okay, thank you.  Go ahead.  Kaitlan.

Q    You had a call with Senator Schumer.  He says you’ve now agreed to invoke the Defense Production Act to actually make those medical supplies that hospitals say are in severe shortage.  So two questions: Is that what you’re doing now?

THE PRESIDENT:  It is.  I did it yesterday.  We invoked it, I think, the day before we signed it — the evening of the day before — and invoked it yesterday.  We have a lot of people working very hard to do ventilators and various other things.  Yes.

Q    So you’re using it now to tell businesses they —

THE PRESIDENT:  We are using it.

Q    — need to make ventilators, masks, respirators?

THE PRESIDENT:  We are.  We are.  For certain things that we need, including — including some of the very important emergency — I would say ventilators, probably more masks, to a large extent.  We have millions of masks, which are coming and which will be distributed to the states.  The states are having a hard time getting them.  So we’re using the act.  The act is very good for things like this.  We have millions of masks that we’ve ordered.  They will be here soon.  We’re having them shipped directly to states.

Q    So you said you had only — you were signing this but not invoking it — this is what you said yesterday — and that you would only do so in a worst-case scenario.

THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah.  Last —

Q    So are we now at a worst-case scenario?

THE PRESIDENT:  We — we need — no, it’s no different, other than we need certain equipment that the states are unable to get by themselves.  So we’re invoking it to use the powers of the federal government to help the states get things that they need, like the masks, like the ventilators.
Yeah, Steve.

Q    Given what Governor Cuomo has done in New York, is there any more consideration to a national lockdown to keep people in their homes?

THE PRESIDENT:  I don’t think so.  Essentially, you’ve done that in California, you’ve done that in New York.  Those are really two hotbeds.  Those are probably the two hottest of them all, in terms of hotspots.  I don’t think so, because you go out to the Midwest, you go out to other locations and they’re watching it on television but they don’t have the same problems.  They don’t have, by any means, the same problem.

New York, California, Miami — the governor is doing an excellent job.  Governor DeSantis in Florida.  We have some pretty hot spots in Florida too.  But we’re generally — and the State of Washington, of course, but that was largely — if you look at it, it was one nursing home that had problems like you wouldn’t believe.

So, no, we’re working with the governors and I don’t think you’ll — I don’t think we’ll ever find that necessary.

Q    So we’re about a week into your 15-day guidelines.  Are you happy with the progress?  Would you like to see the 15 days extended?

THE PRESIDENT:  I am happy.  I am happy with it.  We’ll have to see what the results are at the end of 14 days, let’s say.  We’ll know by the 15th day to see what we do.  But I’m certainly honored by the way the American people are working — because it’s work.  It’s work not to work.  This is the first this has ever happened.  And we’re working out a tremendous financial package for them so they don’t work.  Whoever heard of this?  Usually, you work out a financial package to get people working.  We’re asking people not to work.  Social distancing — a new terms that’s become probably the hottest term there is.

So, no, I’m very honored by the way the American people are taking this, I mean, so seriously.
Yes, John.

Q    Mr. President, a question for you and a question for Dr. Fauci, if I could.  There’s been some concern among Democrats on Capitol Hill that the phase three fiscal stimulus is weighted too much in favor of corporations and not enough in terms of individuals.  What did your conversations with Senator Schumer yield on that front?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I think that really all of that is being discussed right now.  And we talked about, as an example, buyback — stock buybacks.  I don’t want to have stock buybacks.  I don’t want people spending — I don’t want some executives saying, “We’re going to buy 200,000 shares of stock.”  I want that money to be used for the workers, and also for the company — to keep the company going.  But not for buybacks.  I would — I mean, I haven’t spoken to a lot of the Republicans or Democrats on it.  We discussed it.  And I — I don’t like buybacks.  I didn’t like them the first time.

Q    Are you and Senator Schumer —

THE PRESIDENT:  So we’re discussing — we’re discussing that and we’re discussing many things.

Q    Are you on the same page with Senator Schumer?

THE PRESIDENT:  We’re not so far away, I’ll tell you.  We’re not very — we’re not very far away.

Q    And to Dr. Fauci, if I could.  Dr. Fauci — this was explained yesterday — there has been some promise with hydroxychloroquine as potential therapy for people who are infected with coronavirus.  Is there any evidence to suggest that, as with malaria, it might be used as a prophylaxis against COVID-19?

DR. FAUCI:  No.  The answer is no.  And the evidence that you’re talking about, John, is anecdotal evidence.  So as the Commissioner of FDA and the President mentioned yesterday, we’re trying to strike a balance between making something with a potential of an effect to the American people available, at the same time that we do it under the auspices of a protocol that would give us information to determine if it’s truly safe and truly effective.

But the information that you’re referring to specifically is anecdotal; it was not done in a controlled clinical trial.  So you really can’t make any definitive statement about it.

THE PRESIDENT:  I think, without saying too much, I’m probably more of a fan of that than — maybe than anybody.  But I’m a big fan, and we’ll see what happens.  And we all understand what the doctor said is 100 percent correct.  It’s early.  But we’ve — you know, I’ve seen things that are impressive.  And we’ll see.  We’re going to know soon.  We’re going to know soon — including safety.

But, you know, when you get to safety, this has been prescribed for many years for people to combat malaria, which was a big problem.  And it’s very effective.  It’s a strong — it’s a strong drug.  So we’ll see.

Q    It was also fairly effective against SARS.

THE PRESIDENT:  It was a very — it was, as I understand that.  Is that a correct statement — it was fairly effective on SARS?

DR. FAUCI:  John, you’ve got to be careful when you say “fairly effective.”  It was never done in a clinical trial.  They compared it to anything.  It was given to individuals and felt that maybe it worked.  So —

Q    But was there anything to compare it to?

DR. FAUCI:  Well, that’s the point.  Whenever you do a clinical trial, you do standard of care versus “standard of care plus the agent you’re evaluating.  That’s the reason why we showed, back in Ebola, why particular interventions worked.

Q    Mr. President, about the possible therapies yesterday, Mr. President, you said that they were for, quote, “immediate delivery.”  Immediate.  We heard it from doc- —

THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah, well, we were ordering — yes, we have millions of units ordered.  Bayer is one of the companies, as you know.  A big company.  A very big, very great company.  Millions of units are ordered, and we’re going to see what happens.  We’re going to be talking to the governors about it, and the FDA is working on it right now.

The advantage is that it has been prescribed for a totally different problem, but it has been described [sic] for many years, and everybody knows the levels of — the negatives and the positives.  But I will say that I am a man that comes from a very positive school when it comes to, in particular, one of these drugs.  And we’ll see how it works out, Peter.

I’m not — I’m not saying it will, but I think that people may be surprised.  By the way, that would be a game changer.  But we’re going to know very soon.  But — but we have ordered millions of units.  It’s being ordered from Bayer, and there is another couple of companies also that do it.

Q    For clarity, Dr. Fauci said there is no magic drug for coronavirus right now, which you would agree.  I guess, on this issue then —

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, you know, I think we only disagree a little bit.

Q    — so let me just ask, though: Is it possible that — sorry.

THE PRESIDENT:  I disagree.  Maybe and maybe not.  Maybe there is, maybe there isn’t.  We have to see.  We’re going to know.  We’re going to know soon.

Q    Is it possible — it possible that your impulse to put a positive spin on things may be giving Americans a false sense of —

THE PRESIDENT:  No, I don’t think so.
Q    — hope, and misrepresenting the preparedness right now?

THE PRESIDENT:  No.  No, I don’t think so.  I think that — I think it’s gotten —

Q    The ship is not yet ready to sail.  The not-yet-approved drug

THE PRESIDENT:  Such a lovely question.  Look, it may work and it may not work.  And I agree with the doctor, what he said: It may work, it may not work.

I feel good about it.  That’s all it is.  Just a feeling.  You know, I’m a smart guy.  I feel good about it.  And we’re going to see.  You’re going to see soon enough.  And we have certainly some very big samples of people, if you look at the people.  You have a lot of people that are in big trouble.  And this is not a drug that —obviously, I think I can speak for a lot of — from a lot of experience, because it’s been out there for over 20 years.  So it’s not a drug that you have a huge amount of danger with.  It’s not like a brand-new drug that’s been just created that may have an unbelievable monumental effect, like kill you.

We’re going know very soon.  And I can tell you the FDA is working very hard to get it out.  Right now, in terms of malaria, if you wanted, you can have a prescription.  You get a prescription.  And by the way — and it’s very effective.  It works.

I have a feeling you may — and I’m not being overly optimistic or pessimistic.  I sure as hell think we ought to give it a try.  I mean, there’s been some interesting things happened and some good — very good things.  Let’s see what happens.  We have nothing to lose.  You know the expression: What the hell do you have to lose?  Okay?

Q    So what to do you say to — the units that were ordered — the units that were ordered.

THE PRESIDENT:  Jon, go ahead.

Q    I’ll just follow up.  Nearly 200 dead.  What do you say to Americans who are scared, though?  I guess, nearly 200 dead; 14,000 who are sick; millions, as you witness, who are scared right now.  What do you say to Americans who are watching you right now who are scared?

THE PRESIDENT:  I say that you’re a terrible reporter.  That’s what I say.

Go ahead.

Q    Mr. President, the units that were just declared —

THE PRESIDENT:  I think it’s a very nasty question, and I think it’s a very bad signal that you’re putting out to the American people.  The American people are looking for answers and they’re looking for hope.  And you’re doing sensationalism, and the same with NBC and “Con-cast.”  I don’t call it — I don’t call it “Comcast,” I call it “Con-cast.”

Let me just — for who you work — let me just tell you something: That’s really bad reporting, and you ought to get back to reporting instead of sensationalism.

Let’s see if it works.  It might and it might not.  I happen to feel good about it, but who knows.  I’ve been right a lot.  Let’s see what happens.


Q    Can I get back to science and the logistics here?

THE PRESIDENT:  You ought to be ashamed of yourself.

Q    The units that were ordered, are they for clinical trials or are they for distribution to the general patient population?

THE PRESIDENT:  We are going to — as I understand it, we are going to be taking samples in New York.  Governor Cuomo very much is interested in this drug.  And they are going to work on it also, after they get a certain approval.  We’re waiting for one final approval from the FDA.  We’ll see what happens.

But we’ll use it on people that are not doing great, or even at the beginning of not feeling well.

Q    So this would sort of fall under the modified auspice —

THE PRESIDENT:  And, John, what do we have to lose?

Q    So this would sort of —

THE PRESIDENT:  Wait, John — it’s been out there for so long.  We hear good things.  Let’s see.  Maybe it works and maybe it doesn’t.

Q    I understand all of that.  I’m just thinking the application here.  So that would be under, sort of, a modified compassionate access?

THE PRESIDENT:  We’re doing that, I guess.  And that’s –that’s what it’s called.

Q    I would like Dr. Fauci, if you don’t mind, to follow up on what the President is saying.  Should Americans have hope in this drug right now?  And, sir, I would like to follow up on Peter’s question here.  Could you please issue — address Americans in this country who are scared right now?  This is a very valid concern that people have.

DR. FAUCI:  No, there really isn’t that much of a difference in many respects with what we’re saying.  The President feels optimistic about something — his feeling about it.
What I’m saying is that it might — it might be effective. I’m not saying that it isn’t.  It might be effective.  But as a scientist, as we’re getting it out there, we need to do it in a way as — while we are making it available for people who might want the hope that it might work, you’re also collecting data that will ultimately show that it is truly effective and safe under the conditions of COVID-19.  So there really isn’t difference.  It’s just a question of how one feels about it.

Q    Is there any reason to believe it’s not safe?

DR. FAUCI:  Well, certainly as a drug — any drug, John, has some toxicities.  The decades of experience that we have with this drug indicate that the toxicities are rare and they are, in many respects, reversible.  What we don’t know is when you put it in the context of another disease, whether it is safe.

Fundamentally, I think it probably is going to be safe, but I like to prove things first.  So it really is a question of not a lot of difference.  It’s the hope that it will work versus proving that it will work.  So I don’t see big differences here.

THE PRESIDENT:  I agree.  I agree.

Q    Sir, your message to Americans who are working at home, who have their children in their homes right now, who are homeschooling —

THE PRESIDENT:  Okay.  Here we go.  Go ahead.  Let’s go.

Q    — doctors who say they don’t have the masks they need to do their jobs.  Your message to them?

THE PRESIDENT:  My message to the American people is that there is a very low incidence of death.  You understand that.  And we’re going to come through this stronger than ever before.
If you get it, if you happen to get it, it is highly unlikely.  It’s looking like it’s getting to a number that’s much smaller than people originally thought, in terms of the ultimate — the ultimate problem, which would be death.

My message to the American people is, number one, you’ve done an incredible job.  Incredible.  What you’ve gone through — it’s been incredible.  It wasn’t their fault.  It wasn’t their fault.  It wasn’t the fault of 140 other countries where this has happened.  And there is tremendous hope.  And I think we’re going to come out stronger, better, bigger, in every way.  I think we’re going to be a better country than we were before.  And we learned a lot.  We learned on reliance — who to rely on, who not to rely on.

But our country — our country has been incredible, the way they pulled together — including the fact that I just spoke to Senator Schumer.  We had a wonderful conversation.  We both want to get to a good solution.  But it’s been, really, for me — watching and seeing people, that weren’t speaking, getting along well because we all have one common aim, and that’s to get rid of this invisible enemy, get rid of it fast, and then go back to the kind of economy that we had, and maybe even better.

Yeah, please, in the back.  No, in the back, please.

Q    Mr. President, I have two questions if you’ll indulge me.  The first question is: Many small businesses are concerned that they have weeks, not months, and are worried about how long it’ll take assistance to get to them.

THE PRESIDENT:  We’re going to be helping them a lot.  We’re going to be focused — a big focus on — including my conversation with both Mitch and with Chuck — a big focus of that conversation with small businesses, because they are really the engine behind our country, more so than the big ones.  They are the engine behind our country.

Q    The second, if I may, sir: Are you concerned about members of Congress that may have used information they learned on updates to sell stocks and profit off of this?

THE PRESIDENT:  I’m not aware of it.  I saw some names.  I’m not — I know all of them.  I know everyone mentioned — Dianne Feinstein, I guess, and a couple of others.  I don’t know too much about what it’s about.  But I find them to all be very honorable people.  That’s all I know.  And they — and they said they did nothing wrong.  I find them — the whole group — very honorable people.
Yeah, please.

Q    Can I follow-up, Mr. President?  So the whole group would include Richard Burr, the head of the Intelligence Committee, and it also would include Kelly Loeffler.  And so the question is whether or not they should be investigated for that behavior.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, it also includes Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat.  You didn’t mention her name.  Why didn’t you mention her name?  And I think she’s a very honorable person, by the way, so I’m not saying — but, you know, it’s interesting that —

Q    So, any senator.  Any senator —

THE PRESIDENT:  — you mentioned two people but you don’t mention one that happens to be a Democrat.

Q    Any senator.  Any senator, should they be investigated for this behavior?

THE PRESIDENT:  I don’t know, because I’d have to look at it.  Possibly.  But I find them to be honorable people.

Q    You said the other day you compare yourself — you see yourself as a wartime President right now, leading the country through this pandemic that we’re experiencing.  Do you really think, you know, going off on Peter or going off on a network is appropriate when the country is going through something like this?

THE PRESIDENT:  I do, because I think Peter is — you know, I’ve dealt with Peter for a long time.  And I think Peter is not a good journalist when it comes to fairness.

Q    But he’s asking for your message to the country, and then you went off on Peter.

THE PRESIDENT:  Oh, I think it’s a good message because I think the country has to understand that there is indeed, whether we like it or not — and some of the people in this room won’t like it — there’s a lot of really great news and great journalism, and there’s a lot of fake news out there.
And I hear it all and I see it all, and I understand it all because I’m in the midst of it.  So when somebody writes a story or does a story on television and I know it’s false, I know it’s fake, and when they say they have, “15 sources have said” and I know there’s no sources.  There’s no sources; they’re just making it up.  I know that and I call Peter — I call Peter out but I call other people out too.

And, you know, this is a time to come together, but coming together is much harder when we have dishonest journalists.  It’s a very important profession that you’re in.  It’s a profession that I think is incredible.  I cherish it.  But when people are dishonest, they truly do hurt our country.
Yeah, in the back.  Please, go ahead.

Q    Mr. President, China has been in communication with the United States and also WHO about coronavirus —

THE PRESIDENT:  Right.  That’s true.

Q    — since January.

THE PRESIDENT:  That’s true.

Q    And the U.S. shuttered its border to travelers from China on February the 2nd.  Also, Wuhan has been in lockdown since January the 24th, and this all happened almost two months ago.  Why did you say if you could have known earlier?  And also, you have been calling coronavirus —

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I have to say this: We have — and I can speak for myself, but I have a very good relationship with China and with President Xi.  I have great respect for President Xi.  I consider him to be a friend of mine.  It’s unfortunate that this got out of control.  It came from China.  It got out of control.  Some people are upset.  I know — I know President Xi.  He loves China.  He respects the United States.  And I have to say, I respect China greatly and I respect President Xi.  Okay?

Q    Can I ask more about the stock buybacks?  Many of the airlines and Boeing did stock buybacks.  Is this a deal-breaker for you in this (inaudible)?

THE PRESIDENT:  No, but I never liked stock buybacks from their standpoint.  When we did a big tax cut, and when they took the money and did buybacks, that’s not building a hangar, that’s not buying aircraft, that’s not doing the kind of things that I want them to do.

And we’re now talking about buybacks.  We didn’t think we would have had to restrict it because we thought they would have known better.  But they didn’t know better, in some cases — not in all cases, obviously; some people did an incredible job.  They built plants all over the country.

I mean, you see what’s happened.  I mean, we were doing — until this invisible enemy appeared, we were — I mean, we never had an economy like this.  But there were some companies that used that money to buy back stock, driving up the price of the stock artificially, in many cases.  I don’t like that.  I don’t like it.

And as far as whether or not we’ll have that, allow them — when we give them money — because we have to keep these great companies in business because of the workers; frankly, for the most part, because of the workers.  The workers are my number one concern.  But the way we take care of the workers is we have to keep the companies going.

I am fine with restricting buybacks.  In fact, I would — I would demand that there be no stock buybacks.  I don’t want them taking hundreds of millions of dollars and buying back their stock, because that does nothing.

Yeah.  Please.

Q    Thank you very much.  One for Dr. Fauci and then hopefully one for you.

THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah.  Sure.

And one thing: Secretary of State Pompeo is extremely busy, so if you have any question for him right now, could you do that?  Because — you know what I’d like to do?  I’d like him to go back to the State Department or, as they call it, the “Deep State Department.”  If you don’t mind, I’d like to have him go back and do his job.  So does anybody have any question?


Q    Mr. Secretary —
SECRETARY POMPEO:  Go ahead.  Do you want to call on somebody?

THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah.  How about you.  Only — only for the Secretary.

Q    The exemptions on work travel — can you define that?  Is all work travel — anyone with a work visa can still cross the border?  Can you define the measures that you’re taking?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  It’s a great question.  We’re working — we have real concern about H-2A visas, particularly agriculture workers that need to get across.  We’re going to make sure that we do everything we can to keep that part of our economic lifeblood working between our two countries.  DHS and the State Department will work together.  We want to make sure and keep commerce between Canada, the United States, and Mexico alive, functional, and prepared for the day that this economy bounces back like we expect that it will.

Q    Mr. Secretary —
Q    Mr. Secretary —

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Right back there, and then —

Q    Mr. Secretary, the Mexican government has not announced any travel ban on Europe.  Have you been in touch with them as to when they’re going to do this and what it is that they’re telling you?

And then a second question: They also are telling us — said in a press conference this morning that they will not take back any non-Mexican citizen.  Any other third parties will have to — we don’t know what will happen to them.  So can you address what will happen to those third-country immigrants that you are saying they will not be allowed to enter the U.S., and Mexico is saying that they will not be allowed to stay in Mexico either, or sent back from the U.S.?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  I’ll take the first one, and then, Chad, I’ll give you the second one.  With respect to travel into Mexico from outside, I spoke with Foreign Minister Ebrard a couple of times about this.  I’m very confident we’re going to get to a really good place that protects the Mexican people and the American people from those who might be traveling into places where we’ve got designations — the Schengen Zone, from China — so that they’re not coming into Mexico and then coming into the United States.  I’m very confident we’ll do that, and we’ll make that announcement shortly, together.

Q    Mr. Secretary —

THE PRESIDENT:  Chad.  (Inaudible.)

ACTING SECRETARY WOLF:  Again, as we implement the CDC’s order, again, we’re going to take a number of individuals that cross the border illegally and repatriate them or remove them quickly back to Mexico, back to the Northern Triangle, and back to any other country.  So we’re going to do that in a rapid fashion.

We’ll continue to work with Mexico to make sure that Mexican nationals go back as well as other populations.

Q    But are you sending Guatemalans back to Guatemala or Cubans back to Cuba?  What would you do —


Q    — with those third countries that are non-Mexicans?

ACTING SECRETARY WOLF:  So, we’re doing all of the above.  We’re going to be sending, again, individuals back to Mexico, individuals back to Northern Triangle countries, Cuba, Haiti, all of the — again, 122 different nations that we see nationalities that come across that border, we’ll be sending them back individually to their countries, but also working with Mexico to send additional populations back there as well.

THE PRESIDENT:  And just to put it, you know, when you said — before, you said the non-Mexicans going to Mexico.  We’re not sending them to Mexico; we’re sending them back to their own countries, not to Mexico.  Why would Mexico take people that aren’t from Mexico?  We’re sending them back.

In the case of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, a lot of other countries, they go back to the country from where they came.  Okay?

And, Mike, please.

Q    For the Secretary of Defense —


Q    Secretary Pompeo, on the issue of disinformation, is there any particular locus for this disinformation, or is it diffused?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  It’s pretty diffused, unfortunately.  But we’ve certainly seen it come from places like China and Russia and Iran, where there are coordinated efforts to disparage what America is doing in our activity to do all the things that President Trump has set in motion here.

Q    Other than what you’re doing this morning, what you are doing to fight back?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Lots of things.  Lots of work.  One of the things we want to make sure is the American people go to trusted sources for their information.  But we’ve made clear, we’ve spoken to these countries directly that we don’t — that they need to knock it off, that we don’t approve of it.  And then there are a handful of other things we’re engaged in to make sure that the right information is out there and accurate information is given.

This idea of transparency and accurate information is very important.  It’s how we protect American people from something like this ever happening again.

Q    Mr. Secretary, the Peace Corps volunteers?

Q    You’re saying you want the American people to be coming to trusted sources of information.  Does it undermine you at all when the President stands up here and he attacks news outlets, calling us untrustworthy?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Does somebody else have a question?

Q    Mr. Secretary, the Peace Corps volunteers have all —

Q    Is that not a legitimate question?

Q    Sir, the Peace Corps volunteers —

THE PRESIDENT:  Please.  You’re another one.

Q    In terms of Americans who find themselves stranded in places where there are no longer flights to get back to the United States, what efforts are being made to help them?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  I appreciate that question.  So, we’re doing lots of things.  We’ve had a couple places in particular: Peru and Morocco.  I think we’ve had the first two, maybe three now, flights out of Morocco.  We’re going to work to get people back.  We’re urging individuals, when they can get back on their own — they traveled there on their own — when they can get back there on their own, they ought to try to do that.  But we are — we have a team stood up at the State Department, the repatriation task force that is working each of these instances.
So we’ve heard from individuals, members of Congress.  We’re trying to get Americans back from these places where air travel has been disrupted.  And we’ll get that done over time.  We’ll get it done successfully.

Q    Do you have sense of how big that problem is?

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes, Steve.  Go ahead, please.

Q    How long —

Q    Is there any sense of just how that problem is, how many people —

SECRETARY POMPEO:  We don’t know the — we don’t know the full scale of it yet, but we think we have the largest number identified, and we’re working.  If there are — those who are watching that are someplace, you can go on the State Department website, you can log into, I think,, and go to STEP and log in, and we’ll track and we’ll try to get everybody back just as fast as we can.


Q    Mr. Secretary, how long are these border restrictions likely to last along the south and north borders?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  They’ll last as long as we need to do it to protect the American people from the virus.  I couldn’t tell you how long it’s going to last.

Q    And since we have you, have you determined whether Iran is responsible for that rocket attack last week?


THE PRESIDENT:  Maybe we shouldn’t say that.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  So let me just — let me just get back to you on the answer to that.  And what we can —

Q    Sounds like a “yes.”

THE PRESIDENT:  We know plenty.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  What we can say — what we can say with certainty is this: We’ve made clear all along that the Iraqi Shia militias are funded, trained, equipped by the Iranians.  And we’ve urged the Iranians not to do that.  We’ve told the Iranians that they will be held responsible for those attacks when they threaten American lives.

Q    About the Peace Corps volunteers?  For the Peace Corps volunteers that are in 60-plus countries, have they all been returned?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  You know, I don’t know if they’re all back or not yet.  I know that they were directed to come back.  I know that most of them are back.  I couldn’t tell you if we have all of them back yet.  I don’t know.

Q    And then Secretary — Secretary Esper is not here, but to get tests to the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are you able to give us a progress report on the status of that, if they’re all able to get tests?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  I don’t know the answer to that.  I know we have State Department officials, too, who are concerned and want to make sure we get them tests, our team as well.  And we’re working on that.  We’ve had significant success on that to date.  There are a few places we’ve not been able to get them, but we will.  We’ll get them.

Q    Secretary Pompeo, how exactly are you going to get those Americans back?  And do you have any plans to get the military involved in that?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  We’re going to use all the tools we can.  These first efforts are combined commercial/private flights that will fly in, bring them back — bring them back to a destination here in the United States.  So we’ll do that.

There are some that will travel back other ways as well.  And we have worked with the Department of Defense to say, where there is space available, we’ll be able to bring them back on those flights, as well.  It’s a whole-of-government effort to make sure we get them back.
Q    So DOD will be involved?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Again, they’re going to help us every place they can.  Secretary Esper and I have talked about a couple times.

Q    Thank you, Secretary.  Question on Iran again.  Is there any consideration to relaxing sanctions on Iran during the coronavirus crisis since they’ve been particularly hard hit?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  That’s an important question.  The whole world should know that humanitarian assistance into Iran is wide open.  It’s not sanctioned.  We’ve offered to provide assistance to the Iranians as well.  I talked with Dr. Ted Rose from the World Health Organization about this.  We’re doing everything we can to facilitate both the humanitarian assistance moving in, and to make sure that financial transactions connected to that can take place as well.
There is no sanction on medicines going to Iran.  There’s no sanctions on humanitarian assistance going into that country.  They’ve got a terrible problem there, and we want that humanitarian medical healthcare assistance to get to the people of Iran.

Q    But the sanctions themselves, no — no movement?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  We are — we are working to do all the things we’ve had in place for the first three years here to deliver security for the American people.

THE PRESIDENT:  They know the answer.  Ira- — they know the answer — Iran.  The leaders.  They know the answer to your question.

Q    Mr. Secretary, was it appropriate for the President to call your department the “Deep State Department” at a time when thousands of diplomats are working very hard around the world to combat this pandemic?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  I’ve worked for the President for three years now.  I know how much he values the people that work on my team.  I know, when I was the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, how much he valued the work we did.  I know that he watches our team — Dr. Birx — all of the team that’s working to push back against this virus to keep America safe.  I know how much he values them.

THE PRESIDENT:  What a good answer.

Yes, go ahead.

Q    Mr. President, can I —


THE PRESIDENT:  It’s very true too.

Go ahead.

Q    Mr. President —

THE PRESIDENT:  No, behind you.

Q    I apologize.

THE PRESIDENT:  Please, go ahead.

Q    I have two questions.  The first is to Secretary Pompeo.  NewsHour has learned that the CDC picked up that there was some sort of virus happening in Wuhan — the coronavirus happening in Wuhan as early as December.  When did the CDC start letting other agencies know that there was something in China happening — that this coronavirus was happening?  And then when did the whole-of-government approach start to happen?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  So I’ll let the CDC — or, Dr. Fauci, do you want to talk to that?

Q    (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Yeah, Secretary Azar, please.  Yeah.

SECRETARY AZAR:  So we were alerted by some discussions that Dr. Redfield, the Director of the CDC, had with Chinese colleagues on January 3rd.  It’s since been known that there may have been cases in December, not that we were alerted in December.

Q    Then, Mr. President, the other question I had for you. When —

THE PRESIDENT:  Excuse me — we’ll do it in a second.  Let Mike — he has to get back — he has to get back to work.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  May I just say — may I just say one more thing?  There’s been some discussion about China and what they knew and when they knew it.  And I’ve been very critical.  We need to know immediately.  The world is entitled to know.  The Chinese government was the first to know of this risk to the world.  And that puts a special obligation to make sure that data — that data gets to our scientists, our professionals.  This is not about retribution.  This matters going forward.  We’re in a — we’re in a live exercise here —

THE PRESIDENT:  Should have —

SECRETARY POMPEO:  — to get this right.

THE PRESIDENT:  Should have let us know.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  We need to make sure that even today, the datasets that are available to every country, including datasets that are available to the Chinese Communist Party, are made available to the whole world.  It’s an imperative to keep people safe.

We talk about the absence of datasets, not being able to make judgments about what to do.  This is absolutely critical.  This transparency, this real-time information sharing isn’t about political games or retribution.  It’s about keeping people safe.

And so when you see a delay in information flowing from the Chinese Communist Party to the technical people who we wanted to get into China immediately to assist in this, every moment of delay connected to being able to identify this risk vec- — the risk vectors, creates risk to people all around the world.

And so this is why it’s not about blaming someone for this, this is about moving forward to make sure that we continue to have the information we need to do our jobs.

Q    And staying with you, Mr. Secretary, what message do you think it sends to other countries when you have the President of the United States lashing out at reporters?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  I’ve had my frustration with reporters too.  All I ask when I talk to the media is that you listen to what we say and report it accurately.  And it’s frustrating.  It’s frustrating when you —

Q    But what message does it send to other countries though?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  — when you say that that doesn’t happen, it’s enormously frustrating.
We have a responsibility to tell the American people the truth.  And those who are reporting on what it is we’re doing and saying have an equal responsibility to report accurately.

Q    But what message does it send to countries when you’re lashing out at reporters?

Q    Do you have any evidence (inaudible) when it’s not accurately being reported?  That the news media is not accurately reporting?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  I’ve seen — I’ve seen many things at the State Department being reported wildly and inaccurately on —

Q    Anything specific you can cite?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  — on multiple occasions.  And I have spoken to those reporters about it each and every time, and I’ll continue to do so.

Q    Mr. President, Senator Johnson is suggesting —

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I’d rather have — if you could finish up with the Secretary of State.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  I think I’ve worn them out, Mr. President.

Q    Let me ask you both —

THE PRESIDENT:  Is everybody finished — Secretary of State?

Q    Let me ask you both if that’s all right.  Mr. Secretary, Senator Johnson has suggested that you and the administration may be overreacting.  He said, “We don’t shut down our economy because tens of thousands of people die on the highways.  We don’t shut down our economy because tens of thousands of people die from the common flu.  At worst, 3.4 percent of Americans will die from this virus,” he said.  What do you say to people that have that view?  That’s 11 million people he’s talking about.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I can just say the entire world is agreeing with us because they’re all — they all have their choice, and everybody is doing the exact same thing.  We want to shut it out, and we can do that.  And we’ll see what happens in two weeks, in three weeks.  But if we can save thousands of lives, and even millions of lives, potentially — you don’t know where it goes.  But you could be talking about millions of lives.

So if you look at the world — I mean, you have some very smart people in the world.  You have some smart leaders in the world.  And everybody is doing it the way we’re doing it.  I think we’re doing a better job than hopefully most, if not all.  We’re doing a very effective job.  But we’ll — we’ll know better in 14 or 15 days.

But, you know, you’re talking about hundreds of thousands — and maybe more than that — numbers of people.  And, you know, we can bring our finances back very quickly.  We can’t bring the people back.

Q    Mr. President, to follow up on that, there are millions of people out there that share that view that say, “I don’t really need to shut things down.  I don’t really need to stay away from the stores.  I don’t — I can go to the beach.”  And those people making multiple actions exponentially, it’s the difference between life and death, isn’t it?

THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah, I agree with that.  But I think I’d like to have Anthony answer that, because to be honest, that’s what he does.  And he — we have a lot of — a lot of very talented people telling us what they think we should do.

DR. FAUCI:  Thank you, Mr. President.  Well, first of all, I think that’s a false equivalency to compare traffic accidents with — I mean, that’s totally way out.  That’s really a false equivalency.
When you have something that is new and is emerging and you really can’t predict totally the impact it’s going to have — and you take a look at what’s gone on in China, and you see what’s going on right now — right now, in Italy, and what’s happening in New York City — I don’t think with any moral conscience you could say, “Why don’t we just let it rip and happen, and let X percent of the people die?”  I don’t understand that reasoning at all.

THE PRESIDENT:  Okay, so, Secretary of State will be leaving.  Any other question for him?  Go ahead.  In the back.  Please.  In the back for Mike.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President —

THE PRESIDENT:  Excuse me, I didn’t call on you.  Go ahead.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  Two things.  In New York, where cases are doubling every day, they fear that supplies are going to run out in a matter of weeks.  Yesterday, Mayor Bill de Blasio called on you to mobilize the military to deliver urgent supplies.  Yesterday, he said, quote, “The fate of New York City rests in the hands of one man.  He is a New Yorker and right now he is betraying the city he comes from.”  I’ve personally spoken to emergency department nurses who say that they’re being told not to wear N95 masks because supplies are so low.  So how do you respond to those remarks by Mayor de Blasio?  And there’s nurses and doctors —

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I just think this: I’m not dealing —

Q    — looking to you.  When will those supplies arrive?

THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah, I’m not dealing with him.  I’m dealing with the governor.  And the governor agrees with me, and I agree with him.  So far, we’ve been very much in sync.  I guess they’re not agreeing with each other, necessarily.

But the relationship with New York — I love New York.  I grew up in New York, as you probably have heard, and the relationship has been very good.  And I think government and the governor have been getting along incredibly well with the federal government.



Q    A question for Secretary Wolf, if I could.  Just on illegal entries of people who are OTM, how will the turn-back process work?  Will they be taken to a common area and then put on the plane and sent back to Northern Triangle countries or others?  I mean, how would that process work?

ACTING SECRETARY WOLF:  Again it’s a — it’s a public health crisis, so what we’re trying to do is limit the amount of contact that we have with these individuals, not putting them in Border Patrol facilities, ICE detention facilities, and the like.

So it’s going to be very rapid.  We’re going to obviously take them into custody and then — and then send them back to a port of entry or other means.  So it’ll be very quickly.  It won’t be the 6 or 7 or 10 days that we currently have.  It’ll be much more rapid.

Q    But if they are OTM, will you — will they be taken to an airfield nearby or —

ACTING SECRETARY WOLF:  That’s correct.  That’s correct.

Q    And sent back (inaudible)?


THE PRESIDENT:  Any — anybody?

Q    Mr. President, can we ask about the checks, sir?

THE PRESIDENT:  About the what?

Q    The checks to Americans.  The bill that is proposed creates sort of tiers of checks for incomes.

THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah.  It will be.

Q    Do you believe, philosophically, that makes sense?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, we’re working on it.  Well, I believe in a lot of things.  I want to get workers money.  And whichever way the best way to get it — and I want to keep the businesses open too, because without the businesses, they’re not going to be getting money for very long.
But we’re going to be — we’re going to be talking.

Q    But in that bill, as it’s written, is there enough money or do you want to see it juiced up?

THE PRESIDENT:  If there’s not, we’ll do something later, I am sure.  I am sure we’ll do something.

Q    Mr. President, the Wall Street analysts are predicting that unemployment numbers could skyrocket next week by — some analysts say as many as 3 million people applying for unemployment, which would be a historic number in a one-week spread.  So is a thousand-dollar check going to cut it?  Is that going to be enough?

THE PRESIDENT:  We’re not talking about a thousand-dollar check.  We’re talking about much more than that.  We’re also talking about doing phases.  If this doesn’t work, we’re going to keep doing until we get it going.  And, frankly, once we get the economy back and once this enemy is defeated — the invisible enemy, as I call it — once it’s defeated, we get the economy back, it’s going to all come back to us very quickly.  It comes back very quickly.

We have a tremendous economy.  We do numbers like no other country has ever done before.  Number one in the world, if you go back two weeks — and still, obviously.  But if you go back two weeks, number one in the world, by far.  That money comes back to us very rapidly.  We want to keep it — we want to have it so that when we — not “if,” but when we win the war with the invisible enemy — when we win it, these companies can immediately start — not that they have to start rebuilding, which takes a long time.


Q    Are you confident that those are —

THE PRESIDENT:  Steve.  Please.  Please.

Q    — jobs that will come back if someone applies for unemployment next week?

THE PRESIDENT:  I’m — I’m confident.  I am confident.

Q    What projections for job losses in March and April are you hearing?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, we’re looking at different numbers.  We have a best case and not best case, but the big thing is to defeat the virus.  Once that virus is defeated, Steve, I think everything else falls in place very rapidly.  I think you’re going to have a tremendous upswing.

A lot of people agree with me.  A lot of — if you look at your stock market geniuses — some of whom are not geniuses, but they think they are — a lot of people think that I’m right about that, that once we defeat the virus, I think you’re going to have a very steep — like a rocket ship.  It’s going to go up and everything will be back, and I really believe we’re going to be stronger than ever before.

Yeah, go ahead.

Q    On the issue of supplies, you’ve told governors to try to find whatever supplies they can on their own.

THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah.  Absolutely.

Q    But some of them are now saying when they go to try to buy them, they’re being outbid by the federal government.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, you heard my news conference yesterday. So, you know, that’s not —

Q    So what — so what do you expect those governors to do?

THE PRESIDENT:  I mean, that was — that was sort of yesterday’s news.  No.  That does happen because they want to buy supplies.  We want to buy as a backup to them, in case they can — and sometimes that will happen.

But regardless of who gets them, when they need them, we’re getting them to them.  Now, we’re doing the Production Act.  We’re doing it very much.  And we have a lot of things cooking right now at a high level.

Remember this: Nothing like this has ever happened before.  Over 140 countries.  And you have supply chains that are broken down for two reasons: because they can’t supply that much and because people are sick.  They can’t be on the chain.  So you have a lot of interesting things all over the world.   You have supply chains that broke down because of the illness and also because of the fact — the quantity.

But we’re getting it ordered.  We’re getting it done.  And the — if you just have to — look, some of you were at the call yesterday where I spoke with the governors — almost all of the governors — and every one of them was very impressed with what we’ve done.
Go ahead.  In the middle, please.

Q    Mr. President, there are reports that the Labor Department has told states not to disclose their unemployment numbers.  Do you agree with that decision?

THE PRESIDENT:  I’d have to talk to him.  I would have to talk to Secretary Scalia.

Q    And just one more clarifying question, if I could, on the DPA.  I just want to be clear: Are you saying that the administration is requiring these industries to create these products or just asking?

THE PRESIDENT:  You know, so far, we haven’t had to. It’s an amazing thing that happened.  We’re getting calls from automobile companies.  We’re getting calls from other companies, saying they have plant capacity, they want to make ventilators, they want to make other things.  We are literally being besieged, in a beautiful way, by companies that want to do the work.  They want to do the job.  They want to help us.  They want to help our country.  So we haven’t had a problem with that at all.

Q    Mr. President, how do you help out states and localities that are trying to bid on things like ventilators and other items but are being outbid by the federal government?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, when they call us, they let us know.  If there’s a conflict, they will call us and we will drop our bid because we want them to go first because they’re point — they’re point of sale.  So we’ve had four or five instances where literally that was happening because you know we’re both trying to get stock.  And if we’re going against, they will call us — the smart ones, frankly, will call us, and we will immediately — we want them to buy it because it gets to them quicker if they buy it.  Okay?  We’re really —

Q    Do they know that they’re able to do this?

THE PRESIDENT:  They know that.  And it’s happening more and more, where they’re calling and they’re saying we’re bidding against each other.  They want to get it.  They’ll get it much quicker that way.
Go ahead, please.

Q    Mr. President, I have a question for Secretary Azar.  There are labs across the country that don’t have the testing supplies they need.  What specific actions is the administration —

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, it’s going very well, I tell you what.

Q    What specific actions are being taken?

THE PRESIDENT:  We inherited an obsolete deal and we’ve made a good thing out of it.  I haven’t heard that question in a while, but go ahead.

SECRETARY AZAR:  Yeah.  So, first, we’re making tremendous progress, in terms of lab testing.  Tens of thousands of tests are being done every single day, both through the CDC and the public health labs, as well as now through the private sector commercial labs.  They’re getting to scale.  They have supplies.  They have high throughput.

We do hear anecdotally, occasionally, of, say, a public health lab or another one that has a concern about this supply or that supply.

Through FEMA, we actually are standing up a laboratory task force to answer those questions.  Usually, it’s that the lab people do not understand that there are actually alternative supplies in the marketplace that they are perfectly free to use.  We’ve actually had to put out some common myths and truths about that.

For instance, the other day, we were getting calls from governors, saying, “We don’t have swabs.  There are no swabs.  There are no swabs.”  Our supply people went in the open marketplace and bought 200,000 swabs in the open market, and I just sent a letter to every governor, sending them swabs.

So some of it is just they aren’t listening or checking with us about all the freedom, all the capacities out there.  It’s a complex system, with 330 million Americans and all of these labs, so sometimes there’s a lab that doesn’t understand how much flexibility they have and how much supply there is out there.  And we’re working through the new FEMA Integration Center to help correct that for folks.

THE PRESIDENT:  Do you want to say about the tests?  Tell them how that’s working.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Well, as I said, more and more tests are being performed every day.  And as we learn about the results that are being reported around the country of coronavirus tests, our experts continue to look at the numbers and see that some 90 percent of Americans that are tested do not test positive for the coronavirus and so it can give you a sense of the magnitude of testing that’s going on.  We have the number of cases that we’ve reported today, but it’s — it’s, in some cases, near to 10 times that that have been tested.

But let me also emphasize how important it was, in answering these questions for governors and local officials, that the President stood up FEMA and the National Response Center where we briefed governors yesterday.  Now every governor and their state department — state health departments have the ability to reach out with — to our regional FEMA administrators.  And that’s how, as the President said, we’re sorting out those potential conflicts between very significant federal purchases and procurements and — and as hospitals and state governments are purchasing as well.

I think the new, streamlined system — operating now in all 50 states in our territories, of governors and states, going through their regional administrator for FEMA — is going to make it more possible for us to ensure that our hospitals, our healthcare providers have access to what’s available on the open market and elsewhere.

Q    Mr. Vice President, you’re the head of the task force.  You’ve seen the numbers.  You’ve spoken to average Americans.  You’re a former governor.  What do you say to Americans right now who are watching and who are scared?

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  I would say: Do not be afraid; be vigilant.  All the experts tell us that the risk of serious illness to the average American for the coronavirus is low.  But we need every American to put into practice the President’s coronavirus guidelines, “15 Days to Slow the Spread.”  Because the coronavirus is about three times more contagious than the flu, according to our best estimate.  And you can contract the coronavirus; have very mild symptoms, if any; not even be aware that you have it; and expose someone who is vulnerable to a very serious health outcome.

That’s the reason why we’re encouraging people to avoid groups of more than 10; to not eat in restaurants, but to use drive-throughs; to wash their hands on a regular basis.  And particularly, we’re going to continue, as the President has directed us, to focus on the most vulnerable population, which are seniors with serious underlying health conditions or anyone with an underlying immunodeficiency.  It’s those people we need to care for, but it’s going to take all of us working together to make sure they’re safe.

Q    But I just wanted to get a clarification because you just said that you haven’t had to require companies to up their production of medical supplies, but you’ve said last night you invoked the DPA.

THE PRESIDENT:  But I didn’t say that.  No.

Q    I’m confu- — are you requiring them or —

THE PRESIDENT:  When we need something — when we need something — because of the act, when we need something, we order something.

And, as you know, two days ago, I invoked the act, which was a big step.  I’m not sure that it had been done before, certainly not very much.  And when we need something, we will use the act.
What has happened is, before we even go out, many, many companies — great companies — companies in a totally different business are willing to do things and make things.  Because that’s what they do; they make product.  They’re willing to make product for us — medical product — that we need very badly for the states that the states can’t get — they haven’t been able to get.
And, you know, most of the states, in no way did they do anything wrong.  They were stocked up.  They were all equipped.  Unfortunately, they’ve never had a thing like this.  So they need help from the federal government.

Q    But you haven’t actually directed any —


Q    This is important.  You haven’t actually directed any companies to start making more ventilators or masks, right?

THE PRESIDENT:  I have.  I have.  Yes.  I have.

Q    How many companies?

THE PRESIDENT:  A lot.  A lot.

Q    So you are requiring them.

THE PRESIDENT:  And they’re making a lot of ventilators and they’re making a lot of masks.
Go ahead, please.

Q    Which ones?  What companies?

THE PRESIDENT:  Go ahead.  Please.

Q    Mr. President, partially following up on that, are there automakers right now who are retooling their production facilities to make ventilators or to make masks?

THE PRESIDENT:  I can’t say they are, but they will be very shortly because we’re working with one in particular — the ones to make ventilators.  They called us yesterday and they’re already — we’re working on a transaction.  They’re going to make ventilators.  They say they’ve done it before, which surprised me.  But they can do it very easily.

Q    Secretary Azar, sir —


Q    This is partially for you, partially for Secretary Azar.  You said yesterday that you had spoken to Carnival Corporation’s chairman.

THE PRESIDENT:  Carnival.  Yeah.

Q    Yes.  And he said that he could donate some ships —

THE PRESIDENT:  No, not donate.  That’s not the word — “donate.”

Q    Or not “donate.”  Okay.  “Lend.”  Lend.

THE PRESIDENT:  He didn’t — he’s not giving them.  He’s going to let you use them.

Q    Okay.

THE PRESIDENT:  I spoke with Micky Arison, who is the President — chairman, CEO, and owner.  I think he’s got every title you can have.

Q    Okay.  And he could lend some ships to potentially be hospitals.

THE PRESIDENT:  He said to me that he was willing to, if we need ships — if we need ships for helping people, that Carnival would be absolutely willing to help us in Los Angeles, in New York, wherever they may be — in Miami, where they’re very big.  If we needed something, they would be willing to.

So far, we haven’t needed to.  And we’re bringing the big hospital ships up in California.  We haven’t.  We’re working with the Governor of California, as you know — with Gavin — and we haven’t made a determination.  We’re also talking — the folks would like it in Seattle.  So we’re discussing where it can be most useful.

We’ve spoken with Governor Cuomo and we’re bringing the big hospital ship up in two weeks, and we’re going to have it in New York Harbor or someplace in New York Harbor.

Q    Okay.  So my question is, one, it sounds like you haven’t taken them up on it yet, but that you could.

THE PRESIDENT:  No, I have taken them up.  I said, “If we need it, I’ll let you know.”  That’s called taking them up.

Q    And secondly —

THE PRESIDENT:  Right now, we don’t need it.

Q    The cruise ships have a lot of frequently contacted surfaces.  And so this is where you come in, Secretary Azar, potentially Dr. Fauci.  Do you have concerns about the cruise ships being used as hospitals?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I can tell you they’re very clean and also those surfaces, the germ, as you know, the virus disappears over a period of time.  And these ships are very clean.  They’ve been kept very clean.  They’ve been gone over.  But the virus, as you know, if it is on a surface for a certain — they have, actually, charts.  Different kinds of surfaces, it disappears over a period of time.

Q    Why not just use hotels?

THE PRESIDENT:  I mean, I — what are you trying to get at?  Go ahead.

Q    Well, that’s what I’m asking.  Why not just use hotels?

THE PRESIDENT:  It disappears.  The virus disappears when it’s on surface after a certain number of days or, in some cases, hours, depending on the surface it’s on.
Go ahead.  Please.

Q    Thank you.  A quick follow-up.  So, can you say — can you name any of the companies that you’ve asked to start making these ventilators or facemasks?

THE PRESIDENT:  I will be, but first I want to get the approval from the company because I don’t want to be doing that.

Q    Okay.  Well —

THE PRESIDENT:  I assume they’d like it, but I’ll let you know.

Q    Okay.  Well, thank you.  And this is for Dr. Fauci —

THE PRESIDENT:  We have one company that has openly stated, and it is General Motors.
Q    So that’s one of the — did you — did the government ask General Motors?

THE PRESIDENT:  It’s one of the companies,  But I didn’t speak to them about announcing it, but I’ll announce it.  I’m sure they wouldn’t be — but we have others also.

Q    Okay, thank you.  And so, for Dr. Fauci, there is new research out from — that the CDC has released, that many of the people that have — or that 13 percent of the people with the coronavirus got it from someone that was asymptomatic.  So my question is: Does that change the way — the approach that should be taken?  And do you think that’s the case?  Or, I mean, do you think that — or do you not agree with that research?

DR. FAUCI:  Yeah.  The recommendations that are here applies to whether you’re in physical contact with someone who could be infected with symptoms versus asymptomatic.  I don’t really think it changes anything.

Certainly, there is some degree of asymptomatic transmissibility.  It is still not quite clear exactly what that is.  But when people focus on that, I think they take their eye off the real ball, which is: The things you do will mitigate against getting infected, no matter whether you’re near someone who is asymptomatic or not.  It’s the same thing.  Physical separation and the care that’s outlined here is going to take care of both of those things.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  I have a question about testing.  When will every American who needs a test get a test and be able to get a test?  And why not have medical equipment being shipped right now to hospitals who need it, to —

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, you’re hearing very positive things about testing.  And just so you understand, we don’t want every American to go out and get a test.

Q    We’re talking about the people who need a test.

THE PRESIDENT:  Three hundred and fifty million people — we don’t want that.  We want people that are sys- — that have a problem, that have a problem with — they’re sneezing, they’re sniffling, they don’t feel good, they have a temperature.  There are a lot of different things.  You know them — you know them better than I do.  So, ready?  We don’t need that.

But what we are having is we’re having — these private labs have come and they’ve been really fantastic.  And we also have a great system for the future.  Because, as I said, we inherited — “we,” meaning this administration — an obsolete, broken system that wasn’t meant for anything like this.

Now we have a system that you can see because — look, we’re well into this and nobody is even talking about it, except for you —

Q    There are Americans —

THE PRESIDENT:  — which doesn’t surprise me.  Which doesn’t surprise me.

Q    There are Americans though who say that they have symptoms and they can’t get tests.

THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah.  Well, okay —

Q    What do you say to the Americans who are scared that they have symptoms and can’t get a test?

THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah.  Well, okay.  I’m not — I’m not hearing it.   But we don’t want everybody to go out and get a test because there is no reason for it.

Q    What about some Americans who have symptoms who can’t get a test?

Q    Mr. President, I want to ask —

THE PRESIDENT:  We’ll do one more after this.

Q    So I wanted to ask Dr. Fauci, because Kevin Hassett is one of the people who is now suggesting that the real way to get to the end of this — for life to return to normal — is for every single person living in this country to be tested.  That way, you could see who is contagious and you could then have people who don’t have it go back to work.
Is there any possibility that this country could ever get to a point where every single person could be tested, and how long would that take?

DR. FAUCI:  Thank you for the question.  I’ve heard that before.  I don’t see — I don’t connect the dots there.  I don’t see how testing everybody in the country is going to help you to implement this.  This should be implemented universally, at least at this level, for everyone.
The things we spoke about a while ago, that you want to really ratchet it up — like Governor Newsom is doing California, like Governor Cuomo is doing in New York — are how you put an end to this outbreak.  Testing is important.  It would be nice to know and there are certain things you could do, but let’s not conflate testing with the action that we have to take.  Whether or not you test, do this.

I’m not — I’m not putting down testing as an important issue, but people seem to link them so much: that if you don’t have universal testing, you can’t respond to the outbreak.  You really can.

THE PRESIDENT:  But I do think — and that’s after listening to Tony and everybody else that is an expert, I do think it’s important that not everybody be tested.  If you feel great and if you have no symptoms whatsoever, it’s a — it’s just not a good thing to be doing.
All right.  Steve, please.

Q    A question for Dr. Fauci.  Yesterday you mentioned the possibility of aerosol transmission of the virus.  How likely is that to happen?

DR. FAUCI:  The possibility of aerosol transmission always comes up when you have situations like that.  It comes up with influenza.  It came up with SARS, in which there was a documented, you know, one-off episode of some aerosol transmission.  Aerosol means that it could stay in the air for a period of time because it’s in a droplet that’s very small and doesn’t go down.
Is it possible that there is aerosol transmission?  Yeah, it certainly is.  But clearly, what we have seen in the situations where people have gotten infected from the areas that we have experienced — China, South Korea, now Europe — most of it is in a situation where people are close enough to each other that a symptomatic person will have a real droplet transmission.  So I’m not ruling out the possibility that it’s aerosol.  But again, it’s not going to substantially change doing this.

Q    Dr. Fauci, a quick follow-up, if I could, just on the testing issue.  Let me just ask this in a very simple way: What is the demand pressure on testing in this country and are we meeting it?

DR. FAUCI:  I get the same calls that many of you get.  That someone goes into a place who has a symptom and wants to get a test.  And for one reason or other — multiple logistic, technical, what have you — they can’t get it.  That is a reality that is happening now.  Is it the same as it was a few weeks ago?  Absolutely not.  Because as the Secretary and others have said, right now that we have the private sector involved, the availability, not only just availability, but the implementation of the availability is getting better and better and better.
Having said that, I understand and empathize with the people who rightfully are saying, “I’m trying to get a test and I can’t.”

Q    So is that a way of saying we are not yet at a point where we are meeting the demand pressure?

DR. FAUCI:  Well, the answer is, yes, John.  We are not there yet because otherwise people would be never calling up, saying they can’t get a test.

Q    Mr. President —

THE PRESIDENT:  Do you want to finish that, Mike?  Go ahead.  You might want to respond to that.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Well, I just can’t emphasize enough about the incredible progress that we have made on testing — all of your reporting and media outlets around the country are as well — that many, many more tests are being performed every day. Literally, by the tens of thousands.  And this has only been made possible because, several weeks ago, the President brought in the commercial labs, these enormous companies — Quest and LabCorp, working with companies like Roche and Abbott Laboratories and Thermo Fisher — and said we have this existing system of state laboratories and the CDC processing tests for certain infections.

But given the magnitude of this outbreak, the President apprehended early on that it wouldn’t be enough to meet the need.  And I just want every American to know that, literally hour by hour, in partnership with these extraordinary commercial labs, we are making more and more tests available every day. We’ll detail the way that we’re working with states to distribute those tests.
We’ve obviously focused on states that have been dealing with the most serious outbreaks of coronavirus — Washington State, California, New York, and others.  We’ve been making sure the tests are in those areas, working closely with those governors.  But I think the American people should be encouraged that — the progress that we are making.  Tomorrow, we’ll take some time to detail that progress for you.

But I would say to any American who might be concerned that they have symptoms, as the President said so well: We don’t want every healthy American to get a test.  But if people feel that they have symptoms that they identify with the coronavirus, call your doctor.  Their doctor can call their state health authorities that can work very closely with our entire team, through HHS and FEMA, and work to identify the more and more tests that are available every day.

Q    Mr. Vice President —

THE PRESIDENT:  Just so you know — just for the probably hundredth time:  I, this administration, inherited an obsolete, broken, old system that wasn’t meant for this.  We discarded that system.  And we now have a new system that can do millions of people, as you need them.
But we had to get rid of a broken, old system that didn’t work.  It worked only in a very limited basis.  And we’re very proud of what we’ve done.  It’s incredible what we’ve done.  And this system will now serve for the future — for future problems.  Hopefully, you don’t have a problem like this, but something will come up.  We have now a great system and it’s almost fully in gear, but it’s able to test millions of people.

But we inherited a broken, old — frankly, a terrible system.  We fixed it and we’ve done a great job.  And we haven’t been given the credit that we deserve — that, I can tell you.  But the one that really deserves the credit are the American people because they are doing things that nobody thought they would do.  What they’re doing is incredible.  And we’re making a lot of progress.  And we’ll see you folks tomorrow.

Thank you very much.  Thank you.

1:24 P.M. EDT

Americans for Limited Government
March 24, 2020

Why is the corporate media taking China’s side on the origins of the virus and silencing President Trump?

The establishment corporate media, the “narrative readers” and so-called “journalists” have been engaged in an active campaign to distort and hide the efforts of the administration to stem the tide of the Chinese virus and the devastating impact on the economy and the livelihoods of millions of American families. From start to today, the corporate establishment legacy media has taken the side of China.  They do assure us all that the massive cash investments made by Chinese front companies into their corporate masters have nothing to do with it.  And they are a touch indignant that it is pointed out that they can’t seem to be anywhere close to consistent with their politically correct nonsense.  When President Trump imposed a travel ban from China — the single most crucial step to slow the spread of the virus in the United States — in January, these provocateurs condemned him.  Joe Biden was given a script to attack the travel restrictions as, of course, xenophobic.   Likewise, for much of February all mainstream media mouthpieces used the terms “Wuhan Virus” or “Chinese Virus” — right until the Communist Party in China denounced it and demanded it be called by its clinical name.  Then, as if a light switch had been flicked, the corporate media denounced anyone — most obviously President Trump — who dared call the virus by its name.  It was suddenly “racist” to say China Virus. Still, the latest ploy shows beyond any question their real motivations.  Toward the end of last week, the call went out from the vapid Queen of Leftist Cable — Rachel Maddow — to block President Trump from speaking to the American people.


ed. note: Former Vice President Biden started doing briefings from a studio constructed in the basement of his home...

Biden for President
March 23, 2020

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by Vice President Joe Biden on Combating Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Good morning. 
I hope you and your family are doing well in these difficult, anxious, and confusing times. 
Like all families, the Biden family is adjusting to new ways: less time together, more worrying about friends and relatives, concern about those isolated – or suffering – due to the coronavirus. 
As Americans, we may be physically apart, but we are truly all in this together.
And let me say something right up front: When we have stood as one, this nation has never been defeated. And we are not going to be defeated now.
The pandemic of 1918. The Great Depression. Two World Wars. 9/11.
We overcame them all.
And out of each crisis – we emerged stronger.
And we will again.
This new enemy may be unseen – but we have the tools, the expertise, and, most important, the will and the spirit to defeat it.
But we need to move – and we need to move fast.
It matters for the public health. And it matters for our economy.
Later today, you will hear from the President in his daily briefing.
These briefings are an important opportunity to inform and reassure the American people
They’re not a place for political attacks. Or to lash out at the press.
They’re about the American people.
So I hope today and in the days ahead, the president will give us the unvarnished truth. That’s what the American people need and deserve.
I hope he lets medical experts and FEMA leaders and others carrying out the work take center stage so we can hear directly from them.
And I hope we hear less talk and see more evidence of fast action.
My principal focus today – and every day – will be on what we should do to get this response fixed, to save lives, and to provide economic assistance to the tens of millions of Americans who need it now – and who will need it in the weeks and months ahead.
It starts with adopting a mindset of real urgency.
For too long, the warning signs were ignored.
For too long the Administration said the threat was “under control," “contained," like a “flu.” The president says no one saw this coming. That’s just not true.
Our own intelligence officials were warning of the coronavirus threat in January.
Just based on public information, I warned that this threat would get worse way back on January 27, and urged the need to put science first, draw on emergency funds to get the response started, and think about invoking disaster powers to respond.
Many of us talked about the need to get U.S. scientists on the ground in China to see first-hand what was happening, rather than relying solely on China.
My point is not simply that the president was wrong.
My point is that the mindset that was slow to recognize the problem and treat it with the seriousness it deserves, is still too much a part of how the president is addressing the problem.
South Korea detected their first case of coronavirus on the same day that we did. 
But they had tests and a sophisticated tracing program to stop the spread of the virus,
so they didn’t have to put the country on lockdown. 
We had none of that. 
So we are left with only the extreme social distancing measures currently in place. 
That’s a failure of planning and preparation by this White House.
Today, months later, Americans who need to be tested still have no access to tests
in many parts of the country. And in many places, our health care system teeters on the brink of collapse. 
Hospital beds are filling. Doctors and nurses are already running out of critical equipment.
The federal government needs to coordinate getting medical supplies out to every corner of our country so we don’t have governors competing against one another.  
As late as yesterday, we are being told that the president still has not activated his authority under the Defense Production Act to direct American manufacturers to make essential supplies.
Trump keeps saying he’s a wartime president— well, then, he should act like one.
To paraphrase a frustrated President Lincoln writing to an inactive General McLellan during the Civil War: “If you don’t want to use the army, may I borrow it?”
We need to get in motion today what should have been set in motion weeks ago.
Any public health expert will tell you that in a crisis like this you can’t move too fast – you can only move too slow.
Let me be clear: Donald Trump is not to blame for the coronavirus. But he does bear responsibility for our response.
And I, along with every American, hope he steps up and starts to get this right.
This isn’t about politics.
There is simply too much at stake – too many lives, too many livelihoods, too many homes and families and businesses and communities at risk.
I’ve laid out a very detailed, in-depth plan for what we should do. You can read it all on 
We need immediate action –on testing, on research for treatments and vaccines, on leading a global response to beat the virus everywhere.  
But today, I want to focus on just four key areas for action.
First, the President must take immediate steps to increase the capacity of our health care system to treat the sickest coronavirus patients, safely. 
I’m glad the president has finally activated the National Guard.

Now we need the Armed Forces and the National Guard to help with hospital capacity, supplies, and logistics. 

We need to activate a reserve corps of doctors and nurses to beef up the number of responders dealing with this crush of cases, and allow doctors and nurses trained abroad, not currently at work in the U.S., to temporarily work alongside our overburdened health care providers.
Second, the President must use the Defense Production Act to radically increase the supply of critical goods needed to treat patients and protect our health care workers and first responders, including protective gear like face masks, and critical equipment like ventilators so desperately needed in our hospitals. 
It means working with our allies and partners to get supplies from overseas when available, and dispatching U.S. military assets to retrieve them quickly. 
It means federal coordination of the supply chain to accelerate deliveries and get them to the right places. And much more.
We are the nation that built the arsenal of democracy in the 1940s. We can make personal protective equipment for health care workers in 2020.
Third, the President needs to end the infighting and bickering in his own administration, listen to the scientists, and provide clear guidance. 
The American people are not getting clear leadership, clear action, or clear accountability.
Management matters in a crisis. I've been there in the Situation Room. There are thousands of steps that need to be taken, all at once. 
You need to be planning not just for today and tomorrow, but for the day after.  
Is this White House actively planning for what it will take for America to begin to return to something resembling normal life?  
Just waiting and seeing isn’t going to cut it.
What are the conditions required? What capacities should be in place? What protections and protocols do we need to ensure the virus doesn't simply start spreading again?  
They need to start planning now, so the current measures stay in place for as long as they are needed, but not longer.  
And fourth, the President needs to set the right priorities for our economic response. 
Our guiding principle must be to keep everyone paid through this crisis.
We should be doing everything in our power to keep workers on payrolls,
make small businesses healthy, and help the economy come out the other side strong.

The Federal Government should provide the resources to make that happen, while still protecting the American taxpayer.
Unfortunately, as of last night, President Trump and Mitch McConnell were offering a plan that let big corporations off the hook. They proposed a $500 billion slush fund for corporations, with almost no conditions.

Under their plan, the Trump Administration could even allow companies to use taxpayers’ money for stock buybacks and executive pay packages.
They wouldn’t have to make commitments to keep workers employed.
They wouldn’t even have to tell Americans where the money goes for months. 
Today, there are active efforts to fix this bill so it focuses on workers and families
and small businesses rather than no-strings corporate bailouts.
Here’s my bottom line: Millions of small businesses, like the family-run restaurant
that is trying to stay open and pay its workers – they should get the funds they need.
Big companies will need help, too — but no blank checks.
If corporations take money from taxpayers, they have to make a commitment that they will keep workers on payroll.
The worker who is seeing their wages slashed — they need to be made whole. 
Those who do lose jobs – they need strong, sustained, unemployment benefits, whether they are a gig worker or a full-time employee. 
The family that will go hungry tonight – they need food on the table. 
Social Security checks need to be boosted.
Student debt should be forgiven. 
Cash relief needs to go out fast to all of the people who need it the most. 
We can act quickly and together. 
We can put the politics aside to meet this moment, like Governors all across the nation.
Mike Dewine in Ohio, Larry Hogan in Maryland, Charlie Baker in Massachusetts.
Gavin Newsom in California, Jay Inslee in Washington, Gretchen Witmer in Michigan.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s briefings are a lesson in leadership.
Republicans and Democrats — all are rising to the moment, putting aside politics to do what needs to be done. 
But they all are looking to the federal government for more help.
Finally, it’s worth noting that today is the 10th anniversary of the signing of the Affordable Care Act. I'm proud of the role I played, alongside President Obama, in bringing Obamacare into law. And I'm proud of its record of achievement. 
But also today, in the middle of one of the biggest public health emergencies in generations, the White House and Republican attorneys general are actively pursuing a lawsuit to invalidate the ACA in court. 
They are working to strip millions of Americans of their health care and tens of millions of their protections for pre-existing conditions.  
I sent them a letter this morning, with a simple request: Withdraw this lawsuit. End this effort to take away people’s health care. 

This is not the moment to add additional uncertainty and fear in this nation or to let politics trump doing what is right. Give Americans peace of mind.
In a crisis, character is revealed — and each day we are seeing the courage and heart of Americans shine through.  
Our military, our first responders, our doctors, nurses and health care workers, of course. 
But also those who we don’t think about as much: the grocery store workers; the mail and package carriers; the workers manufacturing the gear we need, keeping delivery trucks on the road, cooking meals to deliver, and tending our elderly loved ones; the journalists who keep us up to date and hold leaders accountable; the government officials working on this problem, and so many more.
They are putting it all on the line for us. We need to give them all the help they need now. And we need to be sure we never forget what they’ve done.
Let me close with this thought: Deep in the heart of every American, there burns a flame. It’s an inheritance from every generation of Americans that has come before us. It’s why we have overcome every crisis we have ever faced before. It’s what makes this nation special and why we stand apart.
That flame is not going to be extinguished in this moment.
If our leadership does its part, the American people will do their part.
Because here’s the simple truth: The American people have never, ever let this country down.
So, we need to get moving, and moving fast. 

This is the United States of America, and there’s not a single thing we can’t do — if we do it together. Thank you.

Bernie 2020
March 21, 2020

NEWS: Sanders Statement on Trump’s Refusal to Use Defense Production Act

BURLINGTON, Vt. – Sen. Bernie Sanders on Saturday issued the following statement on President Donald Trump’s refusal to use the Defense Production Act:

“Unbelievably, in the United States right now, doctors and nurses are unnecessarily putting their lives on the line treating people suffering from the coronavirus because they lack personal protective equipment like masks, gloves, and surgical gowns. That is unacceptable.
“The president must immediately and forcefully use the Defense Production Act to direct manufacturers to produce all of the personnel protective equipment, ventilators and other medical supplies that we need to get through this crisis. Trump’s inaction is literally sacrificing the lives of medical professionals and patients throughout this country.

“Trump must act now: not only are the lives of the heroes and heroines providing medical care on the line, the lives of millions across the rest of the country are on the line as well. If our medical front line goes down, the whole country is at risk.”

Biden for President
March 21, 2020

Trump Continues To Mislead Americans About Ignored Warnings and Lack of Preparedness on Coronavirus Response

Trump Fails to Address Reports of Ignored Warnings

On the heels of yesterday’s bombshell report in the Washington Post that President Trump and his top aides disregarded repeated warnings from the intelligence community about the coronavirus as it spread globally, Trump used today’s press conference to again try to evade responsibility for his negligent, late, disjointed and ineffective response to the coronavirus.
This time, Trump complained, “I wish [China] could have told us earlier about it because we could have come up with a solution.” He also said, “if we had a two or three-month difference in time it would have been much better” — even though Trump wasted critical time ignoring U.S. government medical and intelligence experts and downplaying the risk of the coronavirus.
Yet again, Trump tried to hide the crucial fact that, as his own officials, ranging from scientists to spy agencies, spent months sounding the alarm about this rapidly-growing threat to the health of the American people, he regularly made false statements about public safety and minimized the danger of this global pandemic.
But that’s not all: Trump continuously lauded President Xi and the Chinese government’s response, even singling out their transparency for praise. Now, with criticism of his response mounting, Trump is returning to his well-worn playbook by attempting to shirk responsibility. By contrast, Joe Biden publicly warned Trump not to be gullible about President Xi’s promise about the virus being contained. Trump ignored that, too. Biden also insisted that CDC should have been given access.
Today marks yet another unacceptable example of Donald Trump trying to rewrite history and mislead Americans about his response to this crisis.
“In a moment of crisis like this, Americans need strong, steadfast leadership, and a President whoevels with the American people about the challenges we face and the path forward,” said Kate Bedingfield, Deputy Campaign Manager and Communications Director, Biden for President. “But instead of taking charge and taking responsibility, Trump has passed the buck and failed to lead, making us more vulnerable at a precarious moment when we most need a President who will be honest with the American people and focus on actual results.”
[Jan. 24, 2020 tweet]

Trump Offered Thanks To Xi Jinping For “Transparency” In The Coronavirus Outbreak. TRUMP: “China has been working very hard to contain the Coronavirus. The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency. It will all work out well. In particular, on behalf of the American People, I want to thank President Xi!” [@realDonaldTrump, Twitter, 1/24/20]
Trump Said He Had No Concerns About China’s Transparency Regarding The Coronavirus: “I Think China Is Very, You Know, Professionally Run, In The Sense That They Have Everything Under Control.” REGAN: “What's your sense of their transparency right now, whether they're being more accommodating in terms of telling us what's going on, and how it affects our economy?” TRUMP: “Well, I think China is very, you know, professionally run, in the sense that they have everything under control. I really believe they are going to have it under control fairly soon.” [Trish Regan Primetime, Fox Business, 2/10/20]
Trump Said Xi Jinping Had Handled The Coronavirus “Really Well.” TRUMP: “Now we have a deal with China. I just spoke to President Xi last night, and, you know, we’re working on the — the problem, the virus. It’s a — it’s a very tough situation. But I think he’s going to handle it. I think he’s handled it really well. We’re helping wherever we can.” [Trump Remarks At The North Carolina Opportunity Now Summit, Charlotte NC, 2/7/20]
Trump Praised Xi Jinping’s Handling Of The Coronavirus: “He Is Strong, Sharp And Powerfully Focused On Leading The Counterattack On The Coronavirus. He Feels They Are Doing Very Well, Even Building Hospitals In A Matter Of Only Days. Nothing Is Easy, But He Will Be Successful.” TRUMP: “Just had a long and very good conversation by phone with President Xi of China. He is strong, sharp and powerfully focused on leading the counterattack on the Coronavirus. He feels they are doing very well, even building hospitals in a matter of only days. Nothing is easy, but he will be successful, especially as the weather starts to warm & the virus hopefully becomes weaker, and then gone. Great discipline is taking place in China, as President Xi strongly leads what will be a very successful operation. We are working closely with China to help!” [@realDonaldTrump, Twitter, 2/7/20; Part OnePart Two]
Trump Said The U.S. Was Working Very Closely With China And Other Countries” On The Coronavirus. TRUMP: “And we are in great shape. China is not in great shape right now, unfortunately. But they're working very hard. We'll see what happens. But we're working very closely with China and other countries.” [Fox News At Night, Fox News, 1/30/20]
Trump Said Xi Jinping Was “Very Capable” In His Handling Of The Coronavirus And Asserted “They’ll Get To It.” TRUMP: “And I spoke with President Xi of China, and he's working very hard on this. It’s a tremendous problem. But they're very capable and they'll — they'll get to it. There's a theory that, in April, when it gets warm — historically, that has been able to kill the virus. So we don't know yet; we're not sure yet. But that's around the corner, so that'll be a great thing in China and other places.” [Trump Remarks To National Border Patrol Council Members, Washington DC, 2/14/20]
Trump Said He Thought Xi Jinping Was “Working Very Hard” On The Coronavirus And “He’s Doing It Very Professionally.” TRUMP: “I think President Xi is working very hard. As you know, I spoke with him recently. He’s working really hard. It’s a tough problem. I think he’s going to do — look, I’ve seen them build hospitals in a short period of time. I really believe he wants to get that done, and he wants to get it done fast. Yes, I think he’s doing it very professionally. We’re also working with him and helping him, as of the last few days, as you know.” [Trump Remarks Before Air Force One Departure, Joint Base Andrews MD, 2/18/20]
Trump Said Xi Jinping Should Not Change His Approach To Combating The Coronavirus: “He’s Working Very Hard. I Think He’s Doing A Very Good Job.” QUESTION: “Do you think President Xi should be doing something different?” TRUMP: “No, I think President Xi is working very, very hard. I spoke to him. He’s working very hard. I think he’s doing a very good job. It’s a big problem. But President Xi loves his country. He’s working very hard to solve the problem and he will solve the problem. Okay?” [Trump Remarks Before Marine One Departure, Washington DC, 2/23/20]
2/25/20: Trump Said He Thought Xi Jinping Was “Working Very Hard” On Coronavirus And “It Looks Like They’re Getting It Under Control More And More.” TRUMP: “China is working very, very hard. I have spoken to President Xi, and they’re working very hard. And if you know anything about him, I think he’ll be in pretty good shape. They’re — they’ve had a rough patch, and I think right now they have it — it looks like they’re getting it under control more and more. They’re getting it more and more under control.” [Trump Remarks At A Business Roundtable, New Delhi IN, 2/25/20]
Trump Said Xi Jinping Was “Working Very Hard” On Combatting The Coronavirus. TRUMP: “Now at the same time, you do have some outbreaks in some countries, Italy and various countries are having some difficulty China you know about where it started. I spoke with President Xi; we had a great talk; he is working very hard. I have to say he is working very, very hard, and if you can count on the reports coming out of China, that spread has gone down quite a bit. The infection seems to have gone down over the last two days. As opposed to getting larger, it has actually gotten smaller in one instance where we think it is somewhat reliable; it seems to have gotten quite a bit smaller.” [Trump Remarks At A News Conference, Washington DC, 2/26/20]

  • Trump: “I Can Tell You He Is Working I Had A Long Talk With Him The Other Night. He Is Working Really, Really Hard. He Wants It To Go Away From China And Go Away Fast. And He Wants To Get Back To Business As Usual.” [Trump Remarks At A News Conference, Washington DC, 2/26/20]

On Mar. 21 Biden tweeted this 4:25 video featuring Biden advisor Ron Klain, who served as the Obama-Biden Ebola response coordinator.

Democratic National Committee
DNC War Room
March 20, 2020

In Focus: Trump’s Disastrous Coronavirus Response, Volume #2

The coronavirus pandemic in the United States is getting worse because of President Trump. Full stop. The seeds of this public health disaster were planted on President Trump’s first day in office. 

Decimating Pandemic Response

The Trump administration's sabotage of health care does not stop at increasing costs and reducing coverage. It also includes failing to adequately protect Americans from infectious disease outbreaks. From proposed budget cuts to leaving key positions unfilled to making it harder for people to access health care, President Trump has worked the last three years to undermine and dismantle our pandemic response apparatus, leaving Americans more vulnerable to the coronavirus

In 2018, President Trump dismantled the entire global health security unit at the National Security Council, reassigning Rear Admiral Timothy Ziemer, a long-time public health official who led the unit, and forcing out homeland security adviser Tom Bossert, another key official for coordinating infectious disease preparedness.

In addition, Trump did nothing to replenish funds for the global health section of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2017, the Washington Post reported that Trump had “failed to fill crucial public health positions across the government, leaving the nation ill-prepared” for a global pandemic. 

If all this isn’t bad enough, President Trump’s current budget proposal, submitted to Congress after this outbreak began in China, once again seeks cuts to key programs for global disease response and domestic preparedness. In his 2021 budget, Trump proposed steep cuts to the two agencies in charge of the coronavirus response, seeking to reduce NIH funding by $3.7 billion and CDC funding by $1.29 billion. He previously proposed cutting global health funding in his 2020 budget from more than $11 billion to less than $8 billion, its lowest level since 2008. Per Foreign Policy, other Trump-backed efforts included a proposal for “reducing $15 billion in national health spending and cutting the global disease-fighting operational budgets of the CDC, NSC, DHS, and HHS.”  

And what do all these cuts and proposed cuts to pandemic response and preparedness and health care, including over $1 trillion in proposed cuts to Medicare and Medicaid coincide with? Trump’s obscene tax cuts for billionaires, Wall Street, and corporate America. In Trump’s presidency, the health of millions of Americans has taken a back seat to tax cuts for the richest Americans.

Democratic National Committee
DNC War Room
March 20, 2020

Trump Snaps, Creates Confusion & Contradicts Experts In Latest Briefing

In his latest press briefing, Trump once again proved that he is not fit to lead during times of crisis. When asked about his message to scared Americans, Trump snapped and attacked a reporter. He also continued to spread misinformation about testing, overstate progress on treatments, and create confusion about the supply shortage. 


Trump was corrected by a top health official after he downplayed the reality that Americans with symptoms are unable to get tested.

Washington Post’s Matt Viser: “President Trump, asked about Americans with symptoms unable to get a test: ‘I’m not hearing it.’

Dr. Anthony Fauci, minutes later: ‘I understand with and empathize with people who say 'I want to get a test, and I cannot.’ He adds, ‘That is a reality that is happening now.’”

Trump falsely claimed that he inherited a broken system to try to deflect blame for his own failed response.

TRUMP: "We inherited, we, meaning this administration, an obsolete broken system that wasn't meant for anything like this."

CBS News’s Kathryn Watson: “Trump keeps reiterating he inherited a ‘broken, old, frankly terrible’ system. But he did have three years to fix it before now.”

New York Times: “Government exercises, including one last year, made clear that the U.S. was not ready for a pandemic like the coronavirus. But little was done.”

Trump was once again repeatedly contradicted after claiming a drug had been approved by the FDA to be prescribed as a COVID-19 treatment and that it was an effective therapy.

NBC News’ Garrett Haake: “Fauci calls evidence of an anti-malarial treatment ‘anecdotal’ at best. Jumps in TWICE to pour cold water on happy talk about the drug’s alleged efficacy. Trump says it’s ‘just a feeling’ that the drug will work.”

Wall Street Journals’ Rebecca Ballhaus: “Dr. Tony Fauci says there is ‘no magic drug’ out there to treat coronavirus. Trump, asked whether he thinks there is a magic drug: ‘Maybe there is, maybe there isn’t.’”

ProPublica’s Charles Ornstein: “Trump says he's a big fan of an unproven treatment for #COVID19. ‘We're going to know soon,’ he says. Fauci says, ‘It was never done in a clinical trial.’”


As governors and health officials continue to sound the alarm about the shortage of supplies, Trump only created more confusion about whether or not he instituted the Defense Authorization Act and was using the full power of the federal government to order supplies production.

New York Times’ Maggie Haberman: “The president has given at least three conflicting answers to this question about the DPA and how it's been invoked or whether it has been”

Politico’s Meridith McGraw: “Maybe it's me but this is confusing -- Trump said he invoked the Defense Production Act & ‘last night we put it into gear.’ Then said ‘We invoked it the day before we signed it, the evening before. And invoked it yesterday.’ Schumer's spox said he was urged to use it this AM.”

NBC News’ Heidi Pryzbyla: “Trump says he's activated the Defense Production Act, authorizing him to direct production. Pence says companies are ‘volunteering’ Which one is it: Are companies being *directed" to produce the supplies needed or is this still a ‘volunteer’ effort?”

American Bridge PAC
March 20, 2020

New Digital Campaign Slams Trump For Failing Coronavirus Response

American Bridge Launches New Digital Ads in MI, PA, WI
American Bridge is launching an aggressive new digital campaign slamming Donald Trump for his dangerously incompetent coronavirus response, which has put millions of lives at risk. The ads begin running today in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin and will be targeted toward potential Trump defectors, as well as a larger universe of swing voters in key parts of each state. 

Failed to Act: 30 sec
Failed to Act: 60 sec
“Donald Trump’s disastrous policies and failure to heed the coronavirus warning signs has put millions of Americans at risk, and what’s worse, he is actively lying to the public to cover his tracks. We are holding him accountable for failing to act with American lives on the line,” said American Bridge President Bradley Beychok. “Testing remains scarce, health care professionals still don't have the equipment they need, and the economy is crumbling - all as a direct result of Trump's lies and incompetence. He's yet again proven that he can't be trusted to tell the truth and protect our country, and that's a message we will continue to drive home for voters from now until Election Day.”
Priorities USA Action
:30 Ad: Exponential Threat (>)
March 23, 2020

Trump Clips:
The coronavirus...

This is their new hoax...

We have it totally under control.

It's one person coming in from China.

One day, it's like a miracle, it will disappear.

When you have 15 people and within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero.

We really think we've done a great job in keeping it down to a minimum.

I like this stuff.  I really get it.  People are surprised that I understand it.

No, I don't take responsibility at all.


Male Announcer
: Priorities USA Action is responsibility for the content of this ad.


Priorities USA Action
March 23, 2020

Priorities USA Action Launches Initial $6 Million TV & Digital Ad Buy Holding Trump Accountable for Failing Coronavirus Response

Priorities USA Action is releasing several new TV and digital ads highlighting Donald Trump’s disastrous response to the rapidly worsening coronavirus pandemic. The ads also contrast Trump’s chaotic, unstable behavior with the honest, steady leadership that Vice President Joe Biden would bring to the job.

Trump’s response to the crisis has been nothing short of a failure. Not only did he waste months and squander numerous opportunities to mitigate the risk to the American people, he continues to lie constantly and fail to act in the best interest of the country. It is imperative that voters know the truth about Trump’s failures so they can continue to hold their government accountable in this time of crisis.

The first TV ad, “Exponential Threat,” is inspired by an ad created by the group Fellow Americans, and highlights Trump’s repeated comments downplaying the virus and shirking responsibility as the number of infections in America increased exponentially. Trump knew early on the extreme danger posed by the coronavirus to the American people, but he intentionally lied about it in order to serve his own short-term political goals.

“Exponential Threat” will begin running in Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin on Tuesday and is part of a $6 million TV and digital buy across the four states. The buy may expand to more states at a later date.

Priorities is also releasing a second TV ad, “Better Prepared,” which highlights how Joe Biden’s wealth of experience and good judgment position him as a more effective, trustworthy leader for our country in moments of crisis. While Trump lies constantly and refuses to heed the advice of his advisors, Biden will lead with science, listen to experts and always tell the American people the truth — even when it’s hard.

Additionally, Priorities is releasing two digital ads that will begin running on Tuesday across a variety of online platforms like Facebook and streaming TV. These ads — “Map” and “Steady Leadership” — feature similar themes as their longer TV counterparts, emphasizing Trump’s refusal to adequately prepare the country for the coming crisis and how Biden’s steady hand would provide a significant departure from the chaos currently enveloping our government, respectively. Since last week, Priorities has also been promoting news content to voters in critical battleground states to keep them informed about Trump’s failure to respond effectively to the mounting crisis.

“From the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, Donald Trump has repeatedly misled the American people and exposed us to unnecessary danger. His failure to lead continues to have real life and death consequences as hospitals, local and state governments, small businesses, and millions of Americans are left without the tools and information they need,” said Priorities USA Chairman Guy Cecil. “Tens of thousands of people are sick, hundreds have already died, and millions are losing their jobs. We simply cannot allow Donald Trump to continue to lie and spread misinformation unchecked. The American people deserve the truth about their president.”


Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.
March 25, 2020

Trump campaign demands stations pull false Priorities USA ad

Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. today delivered cease and desist letters to local television stations currently airing a false, negative attack ad paid for by Priorities USA Action Fund (PUSA), a Super PAC formed by Barack Obama loyalists. The ad contains the false assertion that President Trump called the coronavirus a “hoax,” when in fact he was referring to Democrat criticisms and politicization of the federal response to the public health crisis. The Trump campaign demanded that stations stop running the ad or face litigation. 

“Multiple independent fact checkers have debunked the exact same false claim made in a Biden campaign ad,” states a letter signed by Trump campaign special counsel Alex W. Cannon. “Because PUSA’s ad’s central point is deliberately false and misleading, your station has an obligation to cease and desist from airing it immediately to comply with FCC licensing requirements, to serve the public interest, and to avoid costly and time-consuming litigation.” 

The letter points out that the erroneous “hoax” claim has been labeled as false by multiple independent and media fact checkers and that PUSA cites no source supporting their false claim. The letter further notes that unlike candidate committees, “PUSA does not have a ‘right to command the use of broadcast facilities.’” 

The Trump campaign sent the cease and desist letter to television stations running the ad in Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. 

At Least 5 Independent Fact Checkers Have Debunked This Claim 

The Washington Post Fact Checker: “The Full Quote Shows Trump Is Criticizing Democratic Talking Points And The Media’s Coverage Of His Administration’s Response To Coronavirus. He Never Says That The Virus Itself Is A Hoax.” (Meg Kelly, “Biden Ad Manipulates Video To Slam Trump,” The Washington Post, 3/13/20) 

  • The Washington Post Fact Checker Gave Joe Biden’s Campaign Four Pinocchios For Manipulating Video To Claim That President Trump Called The Coronavirus A “Hoax.” “Ultimately, the seriousness of the coronavirus outbreak, the fact that Trump had clarified his comments on the matter before the ad was released, and the blatant way the Biden camp isolated his remarks about the American Dream pushed us to Four Pinocchios. Campaigns must be willing to make their case without resorting to video manipulation.” (Meg Kelly, “Biden Ad Manipulates Video To Slam Trump,” The Washington Post, 3/13/20) 

FactCheck.Org: Democrats “Wrongly Accuse[d] Trump Of Describing The Coronavirus As A Hoax.” “But the following day, after the death of the first American from coronavirus in Washington state, Trump said that when he used the word ‘hoax,’ he was referring to Democrats finding fault with his administration’s response to coronavirus, not the virus itself. Even after Trump explained his remarks, some Democrats — including former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg — continued to wrongly accuse Trump of describing the coronavirus as a ‘hoax.’” (Rem Rieder, “Trump And The ‘New Hoax,’” FactCheck.Org, 3/3/20) 

Check Your Fact: President Trump “Did Not Refer To The Coronavirus Itself As A Hoax.” “Verdict: False. Trump referred to the alleged ‘politicizing’ of the coronavirus by Democrats as ‘their new hoax.’ He did not refer to the coronavirus itself as a hoax. the speech, Trump reiterates his administration is taking the threat of the coronavirus seriously.” (Brad Sylvester, “Fact Check: Did Trump Call The Coronavirus A ‘Hoax’ At His South Carolina Rally?,” Check Your Fact, 2/29/20) 

Snopes: “Trump Did Not Call The Coronavirus Itself A Hoax.” “What's False: Despite creating some confusion with his remarks, Trump did not call the coronavirus itself a hoax . . . In context, Trump did not say in the passage above that the virus itself was a hoax. He instead said that Democrats’ criticism of his administration’s response to it was a hoax.” (Bethania Palma, “Did President Trump Refer To The Coronavirus as a ‘Hoax’?,” Snopes, 3/2/20) 

PolitiFact: Trump Did Not Call “The Disease Itself A Hoax,” And Video That Is Edited To Make It Appear So Is “Misleading.” “The video makes it seem like Trump is calling the disease itself a hoax, which he hasn’t done. The words are Trump’s, but the editing is Biden’s. During the North Charleston rally, there was nearly a minute between when Trump said ‘coronavirus’ and ‘hoax.’ … But the Biden campaign’s ad is misleading. It’s an example of what the Washington Post calls ‘splicing,’ or ‘editing together disparate videos’ that ‘fundamentally alters the story that is being told.’” (Daniel Funke, “Ad Watch: Biden Video Twists Trump’s Words On Coronavirus,” PolitiFact, 3/15/20) 

Reporters And Commentators Have Reiterated This Point 

CBS News’ Scott Pelley Pointed Out That President Trump Said The Media & Democrat Hysteria About The Government Coronavirus Response Was A Hoax, Not The Virus. MIKE BLOOMBERG: “I find it incomprehensible that the president would do something as inane as calling it a hoax, which he did last night in South Carolina.” SCOTT PELLEY: “He said the democrats making so much of it is a democratic hoax, not that the virus was a hoax.” (CBS’s Face The Nation, 3/1/20)

Slate’s Will Saletan Explained That President Trump Was Saying “The Hoax Is That He’s Handled It Badly. Not The Virus Itself.” “Trump's use of "hoax" tonight (7:45 in this video) referred to what he said a minute earlier: ‘The Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus. ... We did one of the great jobs.’He was saying the hoax is that he's handled it badly. Not the virus itself.” (Will Saletan, Twitter, 2/28/20)

The President’s Remarks Make Clear He Was Talking About The Politicization Of The Coronavirus Outbreak, Not The Virus

During President Trump’s February 28th Rally In Charleston, South Carolina, The President Said Democrats Are “Politicizing The Coronavirus.” PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: “Now the Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus. You know that, right? Coronavirus. They’re politicizing it. We did one of the great jobs, you say, ‘How’s President Trump doing?’, ‘Oh, nothing, nothing.’ They have no clue, they don’t have any clue.” (President Donald J. Trump, Remarks At A Campaign Rally, Charleston, SC, 2/28/20)

Further In His Remarks, President Trump Called The Democrats’ And Media’s Response To His Administration’s Actions On The Coronavirus A Hoax, Not The Disease Or Virus Itself. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: “One of my people came up to me and said, ‘Mr. President, they tried to beat you on Russia, Russia, Russia.’ That didn’t work out too well. They couldn’t do it. They tried the impeachment hoax. That was on a perfect conversation. They tried anything, they tried it over and over, they’ve been doing it since he got in. It’s all turning, they lost. It’s all turning, think of it, think of it. And this is their new hoax. But you know we did something that’s been pretty amazing. We have 15 people in this massive country and because of the fact that we went early, we went early, we could have had a lot more than that.” (President Donald J. Trump, Remarks At A Campaign Rally, Charleston, SC, 2/28/20) 

The Next Day, President Trump Addressed The Hoax Claim During A News Conference, Where He Reiterated He Was Referring To The Actions Of The Democrats To Try And Pin The Virus On Somebody. “Moreover, at a news conference Feb. 29, the day after the rally and three days before Biden’s ad was released, Trump was asked about the ‘hoax’ comment. He clarified, ‘‘Hoax’ referring to the action that [Democrats] take to try and pin this on somebody, because we’ve done such a good job. The hoax is on them, not -- I’m not talking about what’s happening here [the virus]; I’m talking what they’re doing. That’s the hoax. … But the way they refer to it -- because these people have done such an incredible job, and I don’t like it when they are criticizing these people. And that’s the hoax. That’s what I’m talking about.’” (Meg Kelly, “Biden Ad Manipulates Video To Slam Trump,” The Washington Post, 3/13/20)

Unite The Country
:30 Ad: Crisis Comes (>)
March 25, 2020

Male Announcer: Crisis comes to every presidency.

We don't blame them for that.

What matters is how they handle it.

Donald Trump didn't create the coronavirus, but he is the one who called hoax.

Trump: "Hoax."

Male Announcer: ...Who eliminated the pandemic response team, and who let the virus spread unchecked across America.

Crisis comes to every president.  This one failed.

Unite the Country is responsible for the content of this advertising.


Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.
March 25, 2020

Independent Fact Checkers Already Debunked False Claims in Biden Super PAC Ad

PLUS: Biden's own advisor debunks Biden super PAC's claim.
Joe Biden said that if he embraced a super PAC, he did not deserve to be trusted by the American people.

He was right.

Biden's misnamed super PAC "Unite the Country" just released a TV ad that relies on three false claims already debunked by independent fact checkers or Biden’s own coronavirus advisor, Ron Klain.

1. FALSE CLAIM: “Donald Trump didn’t create the coronavirus. But he is the one who called ‘hoax.’” [Words on screen: “Trump calls coronavirus Democrats’ ‘new hoax.’”]
  • The claim that Trump called the virus a hoax has been fact-checked as false by The Washington PostFactCheck.orgPolitiFactCheck Your Fact, and Snopes.
  • The ad is carefully worded to give the impression that Trump said the virus is something Democrats made up. That is not what Trump said. Trump argued that Democrats politicizing the virus by claiming he did “nothing” is a false attack, because his administration is doing a good job:
“Now the Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus. You know that, right? Coronavirus. They’re politicizing it. We did one of the great jobs, you say, ‘How’s President Trump doing?’, ‘Oh, nothing, nothing.’ They have no clue, they don’t have any clue. ...

… And this is their new hoax. But you know we did something that’s been pretty amazing.”
2. FALSE CLAIM: Trump “eliminated the pandemic response team.”
  • The Washington Post Fact Checker concluded that “the [NSC] staff slots did not disappear and at least initially the key mission of team remained a priority. So one can also claim nothing changed and thus Biden’s criticism is overstated.”
  • concluded “some team members were shifted to other groups, and others took over some of Ziemer’s duties,” adding, “that doesn’t mean the entire ‘team’ was ‘fired’ … or that all of the functions of the office were eliminated.”
  • National Security Council official Tim Morrison called Biden's claim “specious.”
  • The Obama-Biden Administration scrapped the White House Health and Security Office in 2009, the same year the H1N1 swine flu pandemic swept across the United States. There was no standalone anti-pandemic team at the NSC until President Obama created one right before leaving office in 2016.
3. FALSE CLAIM: Trump “let the virus spread unchecked across America.”
  • Statements from Ron Klain, Biden’s top coronavirus advisor who the campaign has put front and center, show this is false.
  • On February 11, Klain stated, “obviously the administration can’t do nothing. Indeed, they are far from doing nothing.”
  • Politico reported January 30 that “Ron Klain, who helped lead President Barack Obama’s response to the 2014-2015 Ebola outbreak, has repeatedly praised [Trump Health Secretary Alex] Azar for taking ‘wise steps.’”
  • President Trump's Administration took immediate action to combat the coronavirus. Early on, President Trump instituted restrictions on travel from China that experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci say saved lives. Joe Biden opposed those measures, demonstrating that his deficient capacity to lead and his dangerously poor judgement would have resulted in more Americans contracting the virus faster if he had been in charge.

Thankfully, he never will be.

Preview YouTube video Connie: "I want someone who's honest