Remarks by President Trump in Press Briefing
White House Press Release
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Please. Very importantly, I’d like to begin by saying that we’ve just reached agreement — the Secretary of Treasury, Steve Mnuchin, with the major airlines, all of our great airlines — to participate in a Payroll Support Program. This agreement will fully support airline industry workers, preserve the vital role airlines play in our economy, and protect taxpayers. Our airlines are now in good shape, and they will get over a very tough period of time that was not caused by them.
The United States is continuing to make substantial progress in our war against the virus. We grieve at every precious life that has been lost to the invisible enemy, but through the darkness, we can see the rays of light. We see that tunnel. And at the end of that tunnel, we see light. We’re starting to see it.
More than ever before, we’ve held our rate, the numbers — everything we’ve done. We’ve been very, very strong on it and very powerful on it. You look at what’s happening in other countries — Spain, Italy, United Kingdom. We’re working with them. We’re trying to help them, especially with ventilators. They’ve been calling a lot. They need ventilators so badly.
Fifteen percent of counties within the United States have zero cases, and many counties within the United States have a very small number of cases. Large sections of our country are really looking at other sections and saying, “Wow, that looks bad.” But they don’t have the problem.
I salute the American people for following our guidelines on social distancing — even you people. It’s so different looking out there when I look at you. Their devotion, your devotion is saving lives.
Today I’m instructing my administration to halt funding of the World Health Organization while a review is conducted to assess the World Health Organization’s role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus. Everybody knows what’s going on there.
American taxpayers provide between $400 million and $500 million per year to the WHO. In contrast, China contributes roughly $40 million a year and even less. As the organization’s leading sponsor, the United States has a duty to insist on full accountability.
One of the most dangerous and costly decisions from the WHO was its disastrous decision to oppose travel restrictions from China and other nations. They were very much opposed to what we did. Fortunately, I was not convinced and suspended travel from China, saving untold numbers of lives. Thousands and thousands of people would have died.
Had other nations likewise suspended travel from China, countless more lives would have been saved. Instead, look at the rest of the world. Look at parts of Europe. Other nations and regions, who followed WHO guidelines and kept their borders open to China, accelerated the pandemic all around the world. Many countries said, “We’re going to listen to the WHO,” and they have problems the likes of which they cannot believe. Nobody can believe.
The decision of other major countries to keep travel open was one of the great tragedies and missed opportunities from the early days. The WHO’s attack on travel restrictions put political correctness above lifesaving measures. Travel bans work for the same reason that quarantines work. Pandemics depend on human-to-human transmission. Border control is fundamental to virus control.
Since its establishment in 1948, the American people have generously supported the World Health Organization to provide better health outcomes for the world and, most importantly, to help prevent global health crises. With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have deep concerns whether America’s generosity has been put to the best use possible.
The reality is that the WHO failed to adequately obtain that and share information in a timely and transparent fashion.
The world depends on the WHO to work with countries to ensure that accurate information about international health threats is shared in a timely manner, and if it’s not, to independently to tell the world the truth about what is happening.
The WHO failed in this basic duty and must be held accountable. It’s time, after all of these decades. The WHO failed to investigate credible reports from sources in Wuhan that conflicted directly with the Chinese government’s official accounts. There was credible information to suspect human-to-human transmission in December 2019, which should have spurred the WHO to investigate, and investigate immediately.
Through the middle of January, it parroted and publicly endorsed the idea that there was not human-to-human transmission happening despite reports and clear evidence to the contrary. The delays the WHO experienced in declaring a public health emergency caused valuable time, tremendous amounts of time. More time was lost in the delay it took to get a team of international experts in to examine the outbreak, which we wanted to do, which they should have done. The inability of the WHO to obtain virus samples, to this date, has deprived the scientific community of essential data.
New data that emerges across the world on a daily basis points to the unreliability of the initial reports, and the world received all sorts of false information about transmission and mortality.
The silence of the WHO on the disappearance of scientific researchers and doctors and on new restrictions on the sharing of research into the origins of COVID-19 in the country of origin is deeply concerning, especially when we put up, by far, the largest amount of money. Not even close.
Had the WHO done its job to get medical experts into China to objectively assess the situation on the ground and to call out China’s lack of transparency, the outbreak could have been contained at its source, with very little death — very little death — and certainly very little death by comparison. This would have saved thousands of lives and avoided worldwide economic damage.
Instead, the WHO willingly took China’s assurances to face value, and they took it just at face value and defended the actions of the Chinese government, even praising China for its so-called transparency. I don’t think so. The WHO pushed China’s misinformation about the virus, saying it was not communicable and there was no need for travel bans. They told us, when we put on our travel ban — a very strong travel ban — there was no need to do it. “Don’t do it.” They actually fought us.
The WHO’s reliance on China’s disclosures likely caused a 20-fold increase in cases worldwide, and it may be much more than that.
The WHO has not addressed a single one of these concerns nor provided a serious explanation that acknowledges its own mistakes, of which there were many.
America and the world have chosen to rely on the WHO for accurate, timely, and independent information to make important public health recommendations and decisions. If we cannot trust that this is what we will receive from the WHO, our country will be forced to find other ways to work with other nations to achieve public health goals. We’ll have no choice but to do that.
Our countries are now experiencing — you look all over the world — tremendous death and economic devastation because those tasked with protecting us by being truthful and transparent failed to do so. It would have been so easy to be truthful. And so much death has been caused by their mistakes.
We will continue to engage with the WHO to see if it can make meaningful reforms. For the time being, we will redirect global health and directly work with others. All of the aid that we send will be discussed at very, very powerful lettel [sic] — letters and with very powerful and influential groups and smart groups — medically, politically, and every other way.
And we’ll be discussing it with other countries and global health partners: what do we do with all of that money that goes to WHO. And maybe WHO will reform, and maybe they won’t. But we’ll be able to see.
As you know, in other countries hit hard by the virus, hospitals have been tragically forced to ration medical care and the use of ventilators. But due to our early and aggressive action, the skill of our healthcare workers, and the resilience of our healthcare system, no hospital in America has been forced to deny any patient access to a ventilator — with all of the talk you’ve heard, where some states wanted 40,000 ventilators. I said, “That doesn’t work,” 40,000. And they ended up with seven or eight thousand, and they had no problem. Forty thousand ventilators for one state is ridiculous.
The scariest day of my life was about a month ago when, after a long day of meetings, my team told me that we were going to be needing 130,000 ventilators; that we were short hundreds of thousands of ventilators. This is the system we inherited. I had governors requesting unreasonable sums that the federal government just didn’t have.
And you look at the states. The states didn’t have — the states were not prepared. I knew that every person who needed a ventilator and didn’t get one would die. And that’s what we were told: They would die. I saw another country’s doctors having to make decisions on who got a ventilator and who didn’t. And I knew that this would be a defining challenge of the crisis. Those that didn’t get ventilators were said to be in a position only of one alternative — and that was death. Would we be able to prevent Americans from dying because we couldn’t get them ventilators and the ventilators that they needed and they needed immediately? I instructed my team to move Heaven and Earth to make sure that this didn’t happen.
We started to smartly ration and distribute the ventilators that we had and that others had. And I got daily updates on the supply we had from requests coming in and people wanting to have updates. We had a great group of people working on it.
I instructed my team to use the Defense Production Act. And the Defense Production Act was used very powerfully — more powerfully than anybody would know. In fact, so powerfully that, for the most part, we didn’t have to officially take it out — it was a hammer; it was a very powerful hammer — in order to manufacture as many ventilators as possible.
Last year, America manufactured, from a dead start, 30,000 ventilators. And this year, the number will be over 150,000 ventilators. It could be as high as 200,000 — far more than we’ll ever need. So we’ll be able to stockpile. We’ll be able to talk to states about stockpiling.
These are high-quality ventilators. We had a choice: We could do inexpensive, less productive ventilators or high-quality. We’ve done a high-quality ventilator.
So we should have anywhere from 150- to 200,000 ventilators. In addition to that, we have 10,000 ventilators right now in the federal stockpile ready to move should we need them — we might not — should we need them in New York or New Jersey or in Louisiana or in Illinois or any other state that may need them if we have a surge.
I’d like to ask Adam Boehler to come up and just say a few words. He’s done a fantastic job — a young man who worked 24 hours a day on handling this situation. And I’d just like to have — have Adam, wherever he may be, come up and say a few words.
Adam, please. Thank you very much.
MR. BOEHLER: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. President. At your direction, this country has worked hard over the past few weeks to ramp up ventilator production through all means possible. Thousands of ventilators are coming in now monthly, with over 100,000 by the end of June.
At the same time, there are over 60,000 ventilators in our hospitals right now that are not in use. Knowing this and at your direction, we reached out to the American Hospital Association to design a system that allows hospitals to lend ventilators to other hospitals right when they need it.
Within the past week alone, 20 top health systems have signed up for this Dynamic Ventilator Reserve, representing over 4,000 ventilators. Not only do we have top academic systems, like Cleveland Clinic and Mayo Clinic, but we also have top health systems from New York City, New Orleans, Washington State, and California. Over a week ago, these places would have needed help, but now they are here to help. There’s been no American that has needed a ventilator that has not received one.
This Dynamic Virtual [Ventilator] Reserve, combined with our strategic stockpile will ensure that this is always the case. I’d like to thank the President for his leadership and directive to focus on public-private partnerships like this one. I’d also like to thank Sam Hazen from HCA, Lloyd Dean from CommonSpirit for leading this effort with the AHA and the Federation of American Hospitals.
These have been difficult times. A few weeks ago, the Vice President came into my office and he reminded us of the power of the resilience of the American people and of private companies. We needed it that day, Mr. Vice President.
This partnership is another example of Americans helping Americans. Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Fantastic job.
MR. BOEHLER: Thank you, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: I’d shake his hand, but I’m not allowed to. Times have changed, haven’t they? Thank you very much. You did a fantastic job. We’re very proud of you — you and your whole team. Thank you.
Today, we are taking further action to maximize our oversupply and available ventilators. This afternoon, I met with the leaders — the top people of many of America’s big, powerful, beautiful, and, you know, very, very important hospitals and hospital associations who join us today. We had a great meeting, learned a lot. And they’ve been going through a lot and they’ve been doing a fantastic job, as everybody here will attest.
I’m pleased to announce that my administration is partnering with the hospitals across the country to create an innovative new system called the Dynamic Ventilator Reserve, so that we’re going to have tremendous numbers of ventilators that we’re able to help our states with at a later date if there’s ever a problem like this, which we hope to God will never happen again. It was 1917, 1918. That’s a long time ago. We hope it never happens again.
And I’d like to ask Rick Pollack, CEO of American Hospital Association; Sam Hazen, CEO of HCA Healthcare — that’s the largest in the United States; Warner Thomas, CEO of Ochsner Health. And if I could, Mihal- — you — are you here from Cleveland Clinic? Somebody? Good. Thank you. Come on up, folks. Please.
Thank you. Say a few words please.
MR. POLLACK: Thank you very much, Mr. President. We appreciate the opportunity to work with you and your team on the Dynamic Ventilator Reserve program. This will provide a really important mechanism for us in serving our patients and communities by ensuring that this vital equipment will be available to critical areas that are in need.
You know, as this battle against this disease has affected the country a little bit unevenly, the rates of infection, hospitalization, and ICU use varies from one region to another. In some places with lower infection rates, some ventilators may not be in use, while other areas are potentially stretched beyond their capacity. The database of available ventilators that we are creating will allow us to flex so that we can make sure that available equipment can be shared with those in need.
We appreciate the leadership of the health systems that are here today that has stepped forward. And Adam mentioned a few — I don’t know if he caught Dr. Fritz Francois from NYU Langone, and David Dill, the CEO of LifePoint, as well.
We appreciate the work of the administration in helping us find innovative solutions to ensure the best care for our patients. We’ll continue to work with hospitals and health systems across the country to add to this reserve further. Your team has provided us with important leadership, and we look forward to working with you in making this a success.
Thank you, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much.
MR. HAZEN: Thank you, Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, Adam, the team. I stand here before you, in front of our 285,000 colleagues who provide care to patients every day across the country.
One of the guiding principles we had when we went into this COVID-19 battle was to find partnerships — partnerships with other components of the industry, partnerships with other health systems, but partnerships with governments, both local and federal. And we’re proud to be a part of this private-public sector partnership, and I think it’s going to do great good for the community.
So thank you very much.
THE PRESIDENT: Great job. Thank you.
MR. THOMAS: Thank you, Mr. President. It’s great to have Ochsner Health be part of this program. We certainly have been a recipient, and the state of Louisiana has been a recipient of help getting ventilators to our state and Ochsner Health.
We’re currently taking care of about 60 percent of the COVID patients in New Orleans, and we did see a spike over the past few weeks. But we’re starting to get on the other side of that and heading in the right direction.
I also want to thank you personally for helping Ochsner Health a couple weeks ago. We were running short on surgical gowns, and you and your team were able to direct some to New Orleans, which was helpful to us, and other hospitals around the New Orleans area.
So we’re excited to be part of this Dynamic Ventilator Reserve, and we are proud to be part of that and help other communities around the country. Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much.
DR. MIHALJEVIC: Thank you, Mr. President, for the invitation here. On behalf of the Cleveland Clinic, I would just like to offer a slightly different story about a COVID pandemic.
In our home state of Ohio, with an early institution of social distancing, our ability to scale up the testing and ramping out capacity, we have actually seen a stable number of patients over the last 8 to 10 days. Only 160 patients have been hospitalized with COVID infection in Cleveland Clinic Health System.
We’re also very grateful for the support from our state government, as well from our federal government. This is a battle where we’re all in together. We coordinate our efforts, share our resources, and work together as one.
I’m firmly convinced that we can do a lot of good when we work together. Thank you very much for having us.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Great job.
DR. MIHALJEVIC: Thank you, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Great job.
That was a terrific meeting. And thank you all for being here. Thank you very much.
The United States has far more ICU beds per capita than any other nation. We have 34.7 ICU beds per 100,000 people, which is the best there is, compared with roughly 12.5 beds per 100,000 in Italy, 11.6 beds in France, 9.7 beds in Spain. Think of that — 34.7, we have — and 6.6 the UK. There are more than 60,000 ventilators at hospitals and other healthcare facilities that are not in use at this moment. They didn’t need them. We got a lot of them out, and they didn’t need them. And that’s a good thing that they didn’t need them.
But a lot of good brainpower was involved in making a lot of fantastic decisions. I want to thank our Vice President for the task force. And I want to thank all members of your task force on having done an incredible job. You really have done an incredible job. Thank you, Mike, very much.
Through this new partnership with the hospitals, unused ventilators will voluntarily lend them. Where they have unused ventilators, they will voluntary lend those ventilators to other hospitals and other areas of greater need.
Within the last several days, more than 20 of our nation’s largest health systems have already pledged more than 4,000 ventilators should we need them. And I’ve been told that if they need more, there are more there. We’re going to be helping very soon when the supply really starts pouring in, which is — which started, but will really start about less than a month.
We’re going to be helping other countries, and they need it very badly. They have no chance without these ventilators. They have to have ventilators.
As we continue our medical war against the virus, the FDA has now authorized the first test developed by researchers from Rutgers University that can use saliva from patients. It’s the first one. These tests can be self-administered by patients in healthcare settings, which will reduce exposure for medical workers and save personal protective equipment. Rutgers will begin processing 10,000 tests daily.
So, by using saliva — that’s a first — they’ll be able to do things, in terms of speed and ease, that we haven’t been able to do before. So, a lot of great innovation is taking place during this period of time. And that’s innovation. I call it “innovation under pressure.” There’s a big difference. “Innovation under pressure.” Right? Cleveland Clinic knows all about that.
As we prepare for the next phase of this great struggle, we must also do everything in our power to restore prosperity for the American worker. There’s tremendous interest and excitement surrounding the administration’s efforts to get the economy roaring once again, and I think it’s going to roar once it gets open. I think it’s going to go up tremendously.
You see what’s happening with the stock market already, because a lot of the very smart financial people — the great minds — they’re looking at the stock and they’re saying, “Wow.” Because they really — what they’re really seeing is how we’re doing. If we weren’t doing well, the market wouldn’t be at a level that it is today. They have a lot of confidence that we’re doing the right thing and that our country is going to be open soon and our country is going to be booming.
We’ve had requests to participate from the best in the world as we share their enthusiasm to get our country going. So I thank them for wanting to contribute. And we look forward to speaking with many industry leaders, seeking their input on how we can return to what was, until very recently, the greatest economy anywhere in the world — and I can say the greatest economy in the history of the world. There’s never been an economy like we had.
Just a little bit more than a month ago, we set every record you could set: more people working than we’ve ever had working before — almost 160 million; the best unemployment numbers we’ve ever had; and the best employment numbers we’ve ever had. Everybody was doing well. Stock market at a record — 142 days it hit a record. And I think we’re going to top those records, okay? And I think we’re going to top them soon, once we get rid of the invisible enemy, which will happen.
The plans to reopen the country are close to being finalized, and we will soon be sharing details and new guidelines with everybody. I will be speaking to all 50 governors very shortly. And I will then be authorizing each individual governor, of each individual state, to implement a reopening and a very powerful reopening plan of their state at a time and in a manner as most appropriate.
The day will be very close because certain states, as you know, are in much different condition and in a much different place than other states. It’s going to be very, very close. Maybe even before the date of May 1st. So that will be for some states. Actually, there are over 20 that are in extremely good shape. And we think we’re going to be able to get them open fairly quickly, and then others will follow.
The federal government will be watching them very closely, and we’ll be there to help. We’ll be there to help in many different ways, as we’ve been — where we built hospital beds at a number that nobody has ever seen before, where we did the ventilators that we just discussed at a level that nobody has ever seen before. Nobody can even believe.
Other foreign countries — even powerful countries — can’t believe what we were able to do with ventilators. Big, powerful countries. Big producing countries can’t believe what we were able to do. We will hold the governors accountable. But again, we’re going to be working with them to make sure it works really well.
Now, we have a list of people that I’ll be speaking to over the next very short period of time — in many cases, tomorrow. We’re going to have elected officials, and we’ll be submitting that list to you within the next 24 hours. But we have a list of different industries that I’ll be discussing by — meeting by telephone, because we don’t want people traveling right now: the American Farm Bureau Federation — Zippy Duvall, Cisco Systems, Tyson Foods, Perdue Farms, Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland Company, Corteva, Tractor Supply Company, Seaboard Corporation, Grimmway Farms, Mountaire Farms, and others in the agricultural business
In banking, it’s: Bank of America — Brian Moynihan has been great; JPMorgan Chase, Jamie Dimon; Goldman Sachs; Citigroup; Wells Fargo; U.S. Bancorp; Morgan Stanley, James Gorman; Grand Rapids State Bank; Southern Bancorp — all great institutions with lots to say and lots of good ideas.
And if you look at how Paycheck has been working out, the numbers are incredible. And I hope Congress is going to be able to supplement the amount of money going to our workers. I hope they’re able to get that done very quickly because it’s been an incredible success, and many are already spending that money, and the money has been distributed at numbers that nobody believed possible for this short period of time. It was only a week ago. But a lot of money has been distributed already. It’s going to keep our small businesses open.
The construction labor workforce: International Union of Operating Engineers, Jim Callahan; North America Building Trades Union, Sean McGarvey. These are a lot of friends of mine. The Laborers’ International Union of North America, Terry O’Sullivan; International Brotherhood of Teamsters, James Hoffa; National Electrical Contractors Association, David Long; Bechtel; Fluor; National Association of Homebuilders; Association of Builders and Contractors; Associated General Contractors; Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO; G.H. Palmer. So these are some of the unions — pretty much almost all of the ones that will be on the line.
In defense, we have: Lockheed Martin, Honeywell, Northrop Grumman. These are all the top of each company — CEOs, chairmans, presidents. Raytheon, General Dynamics.
Energy — we had a tremendous success recently with energy over the weekend. It finished with tremendous credit going to Russia and Saudi Arabia. And it could be as much as 20 million barrels a day are cut so that we can get rid of some of the tremendous excess oil that’s been produced because of the fact that the virus just knocked out almost 50 percent of the business. It’s been an amazing achievement. Some people say one of the biggest oil deals ever made. Maybe the biggest oil deal ever made, they’re saying. I didn’t know that.
But we were involved in getting that done, and it was very important. We’re going to save hundreds of thousands of jobs for our energy industry — Texas and North Dakota, Oklahoma, all of our different energy states. It’s great. So we’re very happy about it. I want to thank everybody. We had the — it’s called OPEC Plus. That’s OPEC Plus, meaning some nations outside of OPEC.
And I also want to thank the President of Mexico because he was — he was terrific. He showed great dexterity and flexibility in getting the deal done. I want to thank him very much.
On the energy front, we had: Exxon Mobil, Continental Resources, Chevron, Southern Company, Alabama Power, ConocoPhillips, Occidental Petroleum, Kinder Morgan; Hess Corporation, Pearl Group, and a few others. Big ones. Great ones.
Financial services, we have: Blackstone, Stephen Schwarzman; Paulson & Company, John Paulson; Citadel, Ken Griffin; Elliott Management, Paul Singer; Vista Equity Partners, Robert Smith; Fidelity Investments, Abigail Johnson; MasterCard; Visa; Chubb; Sequoia; Stephens, Warren Stevens — great; Charles Schwab, Chuck Schwab, who will be here by phone.
Food and beverage: National Restaurant Association; McDonald’s; Darden Restaurants; Coca-Cola; Pepsi Cola; Chick-fil-A; Subway; Bloomin’ Brands; Yum! Brands; Papa John’s; Wendy’s; Waffle House; Starbucks; Wolfgang Puck; Thomas Keller; Jean-Georges, my friend Jean-Georges; and Daniele. You know them.
From the transportation world: FedEx, Fred Smith; Allegiant; United Airlines, Oscar Munoz; UPS, David Abney; J.B. Hunt; YRC Worldwide; Crowley Maritime — incredible, big, powerful shippers and transportation companies.
In telecommunications, we have: the legendary John Malone of Liberty Media; Verizon; T-Mobile; Charter Communications; and Brian Roberts of Comcast. Thank you all very much.
Healthcare: New York Presbyterian, Jerry Speyer — a friend of mine; HCA Healthcare, Sam Hazen. Thank you, Sam. Just met with Sam. Ascension Health, CommonSpirit Health, Community Health Systems, Trinity Health, Cardinal Health, McKesson, 3M. Thank you, Mike Roman, for helping us with face masks. It worked out well for everybody. Procter and Gamble, Abbott Laboratories, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Pfizer, Eli Lilly, Thermo Fisher Scientific — they’ve been helping us incredibly with testing. Gilead Sciences, AbbVie, Regeneron, Biogen, Roche — and Roche has been fantastic on testing, the job they’ve done. I have to call them out. They have really — they have stepped up like very few. Anthem; United Health Group; Aetna; Cigna; and Humana — all the big ones.
The tech companies — we have the right ones: Apple, we have Tim Cook; Google, Sundar. Thank you, Sundar; Oracle, Larry Ellison and Safra Catz; Salesforce, Marc Benioff; SAP — SAP, Jen Morgan; Microsoft, Satya — great job he’s done. Thank you, Satya. Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg; IBM; Intel; Qualcomm; Cisco; Advanced Micro Devices; Broadcom. Incredible companies. Companies that no other country will catch, if they’re smart. They have to be smart.
But I’ve dealt with a lot of different countries and I will say that no — the respect for Silicon Valley and our tech companies — there’s nobody even close to our tech companies. They can’t catch them. So they try and buy them, but we sort of put an end to a lot of that.
In sports — we want to get our sports back, so importantly. These will be some separate calls. Some will be together, by the way — lists — and some will be separate. But we have to get our sports back. I’m tired of watching baseball games that are 14 years old. But I haven’t actually had too much time to watch. I would say maybe I watch one batter and then I get back to work.
The NBA — Adam Silver. The Major League Baseball — we miss our base- — well, this is baseball season right here. Rob Manfred, thank you very much. NFL — Roger Goodell. Thank you, Roger. UFC, Dana White. Great Dana White. PGA, Jay Monahan; LPGA, Michael Whan; USDA, Patrick Galbraith. Major League Soccer, Don Garber; WWE, the great Vince McMahon; NASCAR, Lesa Kennedy. Thank you, Lesa. NHL, Gary Bettman; from the New England Patriots, Bob Kraft; Dallas Cowboys, Jerry Jones; Dallas Mavericks, Mark Cuban.
And some of the thought leaders that we’re going to have — and there’s some others that we are having; we’re just waiting to hear. But everybody’s saying yes, I must say. John Allison; Heritage Foundation, Kay Coles James — great person. Hoover Institute, Condoleezza Rice — another great person. Art Laffer; Steve Moore; Steve Forbes; Larry Lindsey; Katherine Reynolds; Scott Gottlieb — just spoke with Scott; Jim DeMint — and Jim has been a terrific friend; Bill Haggerty; and Ray Washburne.
And religious leaders will be coming on Friday. We’ll be speaking to — and we’re going to have a separate list, but we have tremendous enthusiasm to meet by our great religious leaders. We have incredible people and they want to — they want to be a part. And we’ll be talking about churches and we’ll be talking about opening. And we’ll be talking about things that are very important to a lot of people, including me. We’re going to find out how we’re doing in that regard.
So those are the names that we have on our list. They’re the names that are, I think, the best and the smartest, the brightest. And they’re going to give us some ideas. But we’re all set, as I said. The governors are going to be opening up their states. They’re going to declare when — they’re going to know when. Some can open very, very shortly — if not almost immediately. We’ll give a date. But the date is going to be in the very near future.
So we’ll get it open. Individual states will — and the governors will be held accountable. If they need things, we’ll help them get those things, but we want them to do their testing. We want them — because they’re equipped to do testing. We’ve created incredible tests and we’ve done more testing than anybody has ever done in the world right now. And we — we had a broken system and now we have a great system. We have a system where other countries are coming to us and saying, “We want to get some of those tests.”
I want to thank Abbott, because Abbott came up with the first simpler tests. The first one was rough. If you were — I think it was more of an operation than a test. (Laughter.) The first one was — for anybody that took it, it was not easy. But now we have a very simple test with Abbott. Now we have saliva, we have lots of other things that are happening. But we have millions of tests.
The governors are responsible. They have to take charge. They have to do a great job. And we’re going to suggest that they check people, through tests or otherwise, coming into their states and they run their states very strong. Eventually, we won’t have to do that. Eventually, this will be gone. But, for a while, we’re going to do it. So they’re going to take charge — at their borders, they’re going to take charge of people coming in. And maybe, to an extent, depending on what they work out with their nearby state, it may be also people leaving. And they’ll be able to do that very shortly.
We’ll be announcing a date, but it’ll be very short. And, frankly, it’ll be at a time that will be earlier than the deadline that we imposed — the end of April. So we think that some of the governors will be in really good shape to open up even sooner than that. We’ll speak to them. But we’re all set and we’re counting on the governors to do a great job.
Others are going to have to take a longer period of time until they’re in a position to say, “We’re ready to go.” And that’s okay. We understand that. Some of the governors have a very tough situation. But in almost all cases, it’s all starting to come down. We’re very proud of the job everybody has done.
And if you look at the numbers — so the minimum, as you — as portrayed — Deborah is here. Dr. Birx has been fantastic. The minimum was 100,000 deaths. And I hope to be substantially under the minimum, meaning we all hope — Mike, right? — we all hope to be substantially under.
We did the right thing because, otherwise, it would have been — the projections are 2 million people. The actual projection was 2.2 million people. And if you cut it in half, that would be 1.1 million people. That’s many more. That’s double the Civil War. And if you cut that in half, you’re talking 5- or 600,000 people. That’s what we lost in the Civil War. And that’s cutting it, cutting it, cutting it. And we’re not going to — that would not be acceptable. It would not be acceptable. Nothing is — one life isn’t acceptable, but we weren’t given that option.
So I’m confident that these respected people that I just read from the list will give us some great ideas, in addition to what the governors have learned. The governors have learned a lot. I’ve spoken to governors that, at the beginning, it was a contentious relationship, and now it’s a very friendly relationship and a really great relationship. And I’m proud to say that some of them, I think, are friends. In some cases, they’re Democrats, but I think they like me, and I actually like them. I’ll tell you who they are someday.
But we’re all getting along and we all want to do the right thing. And I think they’re going to do a great job of leading their individual states. It’ll be a beautiful thing to watch. They’ll go and rely on their mayors and their local town officials. They bring it right down.
And Washington shouldn’t be doing that. We can’t be thinking about a Walmart parking lot that’s 2,000 miles away where we’re doing testing, but a governor of a state can, and a mayor can, and right down the line. So it’s going to be — I think it’s going to be a terrific system. And if we’re unhappy with the state, we’re going to let them know we’re unhappy. And if they’re not doing the job and they can’t get the job done, and, for some reason, things are happening that we’re not going to like — like the numbers are heading in a wrong direction — we’ll have to do something that’s very ser- — very serious. We’ll have to, maybe, close them up and start all over again. But I don’t think we’re going to have to do that.
I think the governors are going to come out at a time that — and these will be individual dates. And the governors are going to come out at a time when they’re ready. Some can come out very, very shortly. And we look forward to watching that process. So I think it’s going to be a very beautiful process.
Our discussions will focus with the people that we’re dealing with on rejuvenating the economy, and always health. Always health. Health and life. Living is number one. But the rejuvenated economy — and I think it’s going to go quickly.
We’ll be utilizing our robust testing capacity for the governors. We’ll be giving them what they need, if they don’t have it themselves. We hope, by now, they’ll be able to have it themselves. We were hoping they would have had it themselves early on, but they weren’t. But such great advances have been made. So we’ll be dealing with them on that.
And we — they can rely on us very strongly. They’re going to be relying on us, I think, for some help. And we’re there — whether it’s building hospital beds, which I don’t think they’re going to need. You look at Javits Center — a great, great job that the Army Corps of Engineers did; FEMA got involved. We actually ended up sending our medical people. That was not a COVID-19 center, and they asked, “Could you do that?”
And then even after we did that, it was not used very much, meaning they didn’t have to use it nearly to the extent that they thought when they conceived it. It wasn’t that they made a mistake; nobody made a mistake. We built it — I’d rather have too much than too little. Err on the side of caution. And it’s really incredible what they did, including the two ships — the two great ships.
And I just want to thank a lot of really great people, a lot of great politicians. And, again, we’re going to be announcing the political list tomorrow. And on there, we’re going to have a lot of senators.
And we’re going to be having a meeting with the governors probably on Thursday — a meeting by teleconference. And a lot of things will be discussed and some of the details will be discussed. But we want them to do an incredible job of running their states. I think they’ll do an incredible job too. After having gotten to know so many of them, I think each one of them will do an incredible job.
And, again, the federal government is there. We have ventilators if they need them. We have beds if they need them. We have hospitals if they need them. We have a testing capacity that’s now second to none. We’re — again, other countries are calling us. Countries that you thought were doing well are calling us for help on testing. So we’re there to help.
And, with that, if you have a few questions, we’ll take them. And if not, that would be okay too.
Yeah, go ahead please. Jeff?
Q Mr. President, two questions. First, on your announcement about the WHO, I understand your grievances with them.
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah.
Q But can you address why it is the correct time to do this now in the middle of a pandemic?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we’re going to be dealing with countries and we’re going to be dealing with leaders of different parts of the world. We spend $500 million a year. We have for many years — more, far more, than anybody else, including China.
And, I mean, look, I read off a long list of problems that we have. And we’ve had problems with them for years. It doesn’t ma- — we’re looking at a term of 60 to 90 days. We’re doing a very thorough investigation right now as we speak. But this should have been done by previous administrations a long time ago. And when you look at the mistakes that were made — all of the mistakes that were made — it’s just something we have to look at.
And it is very China-centric. I told that to President Xi. I said, “The World Health Organization is very China-centric.” Meaning, whatever it is, China was always right. You can’t do that. You can’t do that. Not right. And we spend — and again, it’s not a question of money. But when we’re spending $500 million and China is spending $38 million, $34 million, $40 million — $42 million, in a case. It’s — again, not money, but it’s not right.
So we’ll see. This is an evaluation period. But in the meantime, we’re putting a hold on all funds going to World Health. We will be able to take that money and channel it to the areas that most need it. And that’s another way of doing it, but we have not been treated properly.
Q Mr. President?
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah, please.
Q Mr. President, you mentioned that you’re going to be speaking with the — all the governors tomorrow —
THE PRESIDENT: Yes.
Q — make recommendations —
THE PRESIDENT: On probably Thursday.
Q On Thursday. What if they don’t listen to you or take your advice or obey you?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, listen —
Q Will you —
THE PRESIDENT: All right.
Q Will you consider taking away their federal funding?
THE PRESIDENT: I don’t want to say that. They’ll listen. They’ll be fine. I think we’re going to have a good relationship. They need the federal government not only for funding — and I’m not saying take it away — but they need it for advice. They’ll need, maybe, equipment that we have. We have a tremendous stockpile that we’re in the process of completing. We’re in a very good position.
Again, the cupboard was bare when I got here. Nobody ever thought a thing — in all fairness to previous administrations, nobody ever thought anything like this was going to happen, but it did happen.
No, the governors will be very, very respectful of the presidency. Again, this isn’t me; this is the presidency. The presidency has such a great importance, in terms of what we’re doing. And you can talk about Constitution, you can talk about federalism, you can talk about whatever you want, but the best way — I’m talking now from a managerial standpoint — is to let individual governors run individual states and come to us if they have difficulty and we will help them.
Q Mr. President, you talked about having testing and tracing equipment, and the facility for that in place to open up the government. Dr. Fauci said this morning that that critical testing and tracing ability does not currently exist.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I don’t know — look, I don’t know.
Q Will — will — will it —
THE PRESIDENT: Hey, John, I don’t know what he said.
Q My question is: Will it —
THE PRESIDENT: Nobody knows.
Q My question is: Will it exist by May 1st?
THE PRESIDENT: The individual governors have testing. The individual governors — we have many forms of testing and new testing is being developed.
Our country has to get open, and it will get open, and it’ll get open safely and hopefully quickly — some areas quicker than other areas. But there is tremendous testing and the governors will use whatever testing is necessary. And if they’re not satisfied with their testing, they shouldn’t open. But they’ll use whatever is testing — whatever testing is necessary.
Go ahead. Please.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. Back to the WHO, will you support the organization again, if Tedros is immediately replaced? Or do you want to see him step down as a possible reform?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we’re doing an investigation. I — I don’t know the gentleman, but I know there have been problems. And it’s been very unfair to the United States — just like the World Trade Organization has been very, very unfair, and now they’re coming into line. When they consider China a developing nation, and because China is a developing nation, they take massive advantage of the United States? Why didn’t other Presidents stop this? I’ve been talking about it from the day I got in, and we’re looking at that very, very strongly. World Trade — W- — so I have a problem with World Health and World Trade, both of them. I’m not sure which is worse, if you want to know the truth, but we’ll figure it out. Okay?
Q Mr. President?
THE PRESIDENT: Go ahead, please.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. You were just criticizing the WHO for praising China as transparent, but you were saying many of the same things about China just a couple of months ago. So, I mean, how do you square, your decision to revoke funding (inaudible)?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I did a trade deal with China, where China is supposed to be spending $250 billion in our country. We’re going to be watching very much to see. Now, it got a little bit waylaid by the virus.
But, look, I’d love to have a good relationship with China. But if you look — and we made a phenomenal deal. China has paid — because of me, China has paid us tens of billions of dollars over the course of a very short period of time. Billions of — some of that money has been spent to farmers, where they were targeted by China. We cannot let that happen. We can’t let that happen.
So we ended up signing a very good trade deal. Now, I want to see if China lives up to it. I know President Xi; I think he will live up to it. If he doesn’t live up to it, that will be okay too because we have very, very good alternatives.
Q I was talking about the (inaudible).
THE PRESIDENT: Go ahead.
Q Yeah, thank you. Today: 600,000 cases, 25,000 deaths. I know you want to bring — blame the WHO, but I’ve spoken to hundreds of people across the country in the last few weeks who say they still can’t get tested and that they aren’t social distancing because they saw —
THE PRESIDENT: So the governors —
Q Wait — wait a minute. Let me finish.
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
Q So they aren’t —
THE PRESIDENT: Excuse me. Excuse me. I know — I know your question. You ready?
Q Well, no, you don’t. No —
THE PRESIDENT: The governors — the governors are supposed to do testing. It’s up to
Go ahead please.
Q That’s not the question. Wait a minute, Mr. President. That’s not the question.
THE PRESIDENT: Go ahead please.
Q Mr. President, if we could just — if we could just get back —
Q The question —
THE PRESIDENT: Quiet.
Q The question was —
THE PRESIDENT: Quiet.
Q The question, Mr. President —
THE PRESIDENT: Quiet.
Q The question is —
Q If we could just get back to May 1. Mr. President, how many —
Q — they say that they are not — that they are following your lead, that they are not social
THE PRESIDENT: The governors are doing the testing. It’s now not up — and it hasn’t been up — to the federal government.
Q That’s not what I’m asking. The question is about social distancing, sir.
Q Mr. President, I have a quick follow on the WHO, but if May 1 —
Q The question is if —
THE PRESIDENT: I told them when they put this guy here, it’s nothing but trouble. He’s a showboat.
Q I’m just trying to ask you a question.
THE PRESIDENT: If you keep talking, I’ll leave —
Q I’m just trying to ask a question.
THE PRESIDENT: — and you can have it out with the rest of these people.
Q I’m just trying to ask a question. I’m just —
THE PRESIDENT: If you keep talking, I’m going to leave and you can have it out with them.
Q It’s a simple question.
THE PRESIDENT: Just a loudmouth.
Q If you — if you could kind of clarify: Are you basically lifting your “Slow the Spread” before the —
THE PRESIDENT: No.
Q — May 1 deadline?
THE PRESIDENT: No.
Q And then —
THE PRESIDENT: I’m not at all. No.
Q And then — and then how many states —
THE PRESIDENT: The governors are going to be running their individual states. Some of them will say, “No, I can’t open now.” And some of them may last longer than we even would think. Others will say, “I can.”
You can go — I don’t want to mention states, but there are numerous states that are in great shape right now. They’re viewing the rest of the country like we don’t even believe this is happening. We have a lot of those states. They’re set to open, practically, now. I mean, they would be open now. We’re going to let them open sooner than the date. We’re going to pick a date. We’re going to get a date that’s good. But it’s going to be very, very soon — sooner than the end of the month.
But there are many states out there that are looking at this and they’re reviewing it and they’re saying, “We shouldn’t be even included in this.” You know, there are some that want to open up almost now.
Now, if we disagree with it, we’re not going to let them open. We’re not going to let them open. If some governor said — you know, has a lot of problems, a lot of cases, a lot of death, and they want to open early, we’re not going to let it happen. So we’re there to watch. We’re there to help. But we’re also there to be critics.
And on testing — very important — we’ve always wanted the states to do the testing. We’re now providing great testing, but the state has to provide the great testing. The state has to provide the ventilators, but they didn’t do that. So we ended up going into the ventilator business, essentially, and we made tens of thousands of ventilators and we solved a big problem for the states. But we want them to do the testing, and we are there to help.
Q I have two questions. Or I have a question on the governors —
THE PRESIDENT: One question. Just one.
Q Well, I have a question on the governors. But first, can I follow up Jordan’s —
THE PRESIDENT: One question. Go ahead.
Q Can I follow-up on Jordan’s question?
THE PRESIDENT: Go ahead.
Q Do you want to walk back where you did praise China in January for being transparent about the coronavirus?
THE PRESIDENT: I’m always respectful of China.
Q But —
THE PRESIDENT: I’m respectful of other countries. Why wouldn’t I be respectful of China? In the meantime, China has paid us nothing in your last administration, nothing in any previous administration.
They paid us tens of billions of dollars because of what we’ve done. And the trade deal we have, they have to give us $250 billion in purchases. Let’s see if they do that. And they’re also paying us 25 percent on $250 billion in tariffs. So we’re taking in — wait a minute. We’re taking in billions of dollars for China — from China. They never paid us 10 cents. That’s a great thing.
Now, if they don’t produce or if we find out bad things, we’re not going to be happy. But right now — and — and we’re doing that. That’s what we’re doing.
Look, we have an investigation underway. We’re paying almost $500 million. We have an investigation underway on the World Health Organization. We will find out exactly what went on. And we may be satisfied that it can be remedied and we may be sata- — satisfied that it’s so bad that it can’t be remedied. And if it can’t, we’re going to go a different route.
Q But that’s not my question. You’re criticizing the WHO for praising China for being transparent, but you also praised China for being transparent in January.
THE PRESIDENT: I don’t talk about China’s transparency.
Q In January, there was a tweet.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, you know, if I’m so good to China, how come I was the only person — the only leader of a country that closed our borders tightly against China?
Q I’m talking about how you said they were transparent.
THE PRESIDENT: And, by the way, when I closed our border, that was long ahead of what anybody — you can ask anybody that was in the room. Twenty-one people. I was the one person that wanted to do it. Deborah can tell you that better than anybody. I was the one person that wanted to do it. You know why? Because I don’t believe everything I hear, and I closed. And if we didn’t close our border early — very early, long before the kind of dates you’re talking about — we would have had thousands and probably hundreds of thousands more death.
Q I’m talking about how you said —
Q Mr. President —
THE PRESIDENT: Please. That’s enough. Thank you.
Q — they were transparent.
Q Mr. President, last week, you said that you would have data in the coming days about the coronavirus’s disproportionate impact on black Americans.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes. That’s being worked on very strongly.
Q When will we have that?
THE PRESIDENT: I would say within two weeks. And it’s being worked on. Deborah, we’re working on that very strongly.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: The CDC (inaudible) —
THE PRESIDENT: Okay, CDC is working, but we’re getting reports on that.
Yeah, please, go ahead.
Q Hi, Mr. President, two —
Q Mr. President —
THE PRESIDENT: No, in the back. Yeah.
Q Mr. President, you’re talking about reopening parts of the country by the end of the month. And if you do that, and as a result, you see a spike in cases in those areas, do you have —
THE PRESIDENT: We may not — but we may not.
Q Do you have any (inaudible) —
THE PRESIDENT: You know, some countries have and some countries haven’t. I’m watching other countries. I’m studying other countries as they open. I mean, I don’t want to go into names because, for some, it would be a little bit embarrassing. But I’m studying other countries as we go along.
So, on that, we have looked at every country that’s opened — some successfully, some okay. No total disaster, but some okay. And some have to go back to the hotspot and fix the hotspot. We think we’re going to do it very successfully.
Again, we have one country, but we have lots of different pieces. It’s a puzzle. We have beautiful pieces, beautiful states with capable governors. They know when it’s time to open.
And we don’t want to put pressure on anybody. I’m not going to put any pressure on any governor to open. I’m not going to say to Governor Cuomo, “You got to open within seven days.” I want him to take his time, do it right, and then open New York. I’m not putting any pressure on the governors. Some of them don’t need pressure or not pressure. I mean, they’re ready to — they’re ready to go. And that’s a good thing.
So we’ll open it up in beautiful, little pieces as it comes along.
Please, go ahead. Behind you.
Q Yes. Just a quick question. You spoke about Governor Cuomo. Just wondering if you have any thoughts on some of his remarks from earlier today, where he basically said that were New York to be pressured to be open, it would be a const- — it would cause a constitutional crisis.
And he basically said that you declared yourself “King Trump.” So I’m wondering if you heard those thoughts and —
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah, I mean, I’ve declared myself as king. You know, I heard he said that. But I didn’t — I didn’t see the remarks. But he understands how we helped him.
He needed help. We gave him 2,900 hospital beds; he didn’t use them. We gave him a ship; he didn’t use them. And I’m not saying — but I’m saying that’s good, because you know what? That means he didn’t need them. But we said it was too much, but we wanted to err — we said, “Err on the side of caution,” as I said. We said, “Look, we don’t think you need it, but if you do, we’re going to have them built.”
And the Army Corps of Engineers did a fantastic job. And the U.S. Navy did a fantastic job, when we moved a ship that was not meant for COVID and we had it redesigned for COVID. But they still didn’t have very many people going in.
No, we are — we’ll get along just fine. He understands. We’ll get along just fine.
Q Mr. President —
Q Mr. President, how do you assure — how do you assure workers in states that may reopen that are fearful about going back to work for fear of getting sick? What’s your —
THE PRESIDENT: Talk up, please. Louder.
Q What’s your assurance to workers who are asked to go back to work but are fearful of doing so?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, that’s going to be up to the governors. The governors are going to want to make sure everything is safe. Now, I think that companies can do testing on a, maybe, weekly basis; you don’t have to do it every day with the same worker, but they can do testing. They can do temperature gauges. They can do a lot of different things.
And, you know, we’re only talking about for a period of time. You know, eventually, we want to get back to where we were. We want people actually sitting next to each other in ballgames, eventually. You know, we’re not going to rip out every — every other seat in baseball stadiums and football stadiums. We want to go back to where we were.
I want people to understand that. We’re not going to be like the way you are. We have 300 reporters in the back that want to sit. Look at the — look at this, the way this looks. I don’t even like the way it looks, although I have a lot fewer reporters; that’s okay with me.
But look at the way this looks. I’ve never seen anything — John, I’ve never seen anything quite like it. But there are a lot of people — we don’t want this. I don’t want this. I don’t want this.
Eventually, we’re going back, where restaurants that had 150 seats are going to have 150 seats — not 50 seats, because they can’t make it at 50 seats. But, more importantly, the atmosphere is even better. We have to get used to it. We have to get used to. I don’t know that people are going to be shaking hands as readily. Some will.
I said to some of the hospital people today, “So will people be shaking hands again?” And I must say, I was a little surprised most of them said, “Probably,” because there is some kind of a thing to it. I was never a big hand shaker, but when I ran for politics, I said, “I think I better start shaking people’s hands.”
Go ahead, John.