by Sharon Rondeau

(Apr. 3, 2020) — At today’s White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing, President Trump introduced House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy as “the next Speaker of the House, I hope,” after which McCarthy announced that Bank of America took more than 10,000 applications within a two-hour period for small-business loans made available by the CARES Act passed last Friday.

Trump noted that the New York City-New Jersey region continues to see a rising number of cases and has extraordinary needs, one of which will be met by the conversion of the Jacob Javits Center into a coronavirus hospital by the Army Corps of Engineers.

As was expected, Trump issued a statement about the CDC’s new recommendation that Americans wear a cloth or other type of face mask in public, which he described as “voluntary.”  He said he has chosen not to do so but that it will “probably” help to stop the spread of coronavirus.

The Justice Department forcibly acquired thousands of units of personal protective equipment “that were being hoarded” in New York, Trump said.  Respirators and other equipment have been sent to New York City by the military, Trump reported, including 8.1 million masks.

Anthem Blue Cross will be waiving all copayments and deductibles for 60 days for its customers requiring treatment for the virus, Trump said, along with Humana and several others.

As for different experimental therapies currently being used to combat coronavirus, Trump said his administration will keep the public “fully informed.”  As he has in recent weeks, he again touted what he sees as promising indications that hydroxychloroquine will prove to be an effective medication.

Certain states, including California, Colorado, Washington and Florida, Trump said, are seeing results from the campaign of social distancing the administration implemented in mid-March and extended through the month of April as shown by a “flattening” of the increase in diagnosed cases.

“It’s a beautiful Friday in Washington, DC,” Trump said, the U.S. is a great place, and that “we’re healing, and we’re going to get it better fast.”

Vice President Mike Pence reported that the FDA has approved an “antibody” test to determine those who have already deveoped an immunity to the virus.

He said that over $1.5 billion in “Paycheck Protection” was distributed to small-business applicants Friday, the first day of the program.

Pence reiterated that the nation will “get through” the epidemic “together.”

Dr. Deborah Birx complimented the states Trump recognized for their diligence in efforts to reduce transmission of the coronavirus in the community.  She said “New Jersey and Connecticut” comprise an area experiencing high numbers of additional cases over a period of time.  Birx said Americans need to recognize the sacrifices made by health-care workers as well as the Americans who have lost their lives to the virus.

She said that equipment is being “moved around” the country to where it is needed most.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar thanked medical professionals, delivery people, housekeepers and other personnel currently working in hospitals.  The CARES Act contains money to pay for COVID-19 treatment for the uninsured, he said.

In response to a reporter’s question, Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams explained why the CDC altered its original recommendation that face masks were not necessarily a deterrent to the virus’s spread.  “CDC is always, always looking at the data, we’re evolving our recommendations, and new recommendations will come as the evidence dictates,” he said.

He said it is important not to “touch your face” while wearing a face covering and that it is “not a substitute for social distancing.”

In response to a reporter’s question as to whether or not all 50 governors should issue “stay-at-home” orders, Trump said he believes it should be left to the governors.  “The governors know what they’re doing,” he said, also invoking the U.S. Constitution as the basis for his view.

Regarding the current overabundance of oil, he said the market will “figure it out” while stressing that the oil industry is very important.

Trump said the disbursement of CARES Act checks to individuals and families is “way ahead” of schedule.  Qualifying individuals, including those receiving Social Security, will receive checks for $1,200; $2,400 for married couples, and $500 for each child as a result of the CARES Act.


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