by Sharon Rondeau

(Apr. 4, 2020) — At Saturday’s Task Force briefing, President Trump said that the federal government is “not only building hospitals, but also manning them” due to a shortage in medical personnel within the states.

He said that “between this week and next week” “will be the toughest week” in regard to the number of deaths the U.S. will experience from the coronavirus.

He complimented Gov. Phil Murphy (D) of New Jersey for “doing a great job,” as he has previously.

He said it is “critical that certain media outlets” stop “causing panic” among the populace without identifying them.  “It’s always the same ones,” he said.

Trump said that the administration is asking states with excess supplies to send them to states which means them.  “We want distributions to be on a fair basis,” he said.  “We’re a big country.”

He thanked the military for their efforts.  “Thousands of soldiers, medical workers, nurses, doctors” will be sent to work in the civilian sector, Trump said, in the near future, in a “battle” unlike one the have seen before.

“It looks like New York is going to be hit very hard.  Everyone’s doing a good job, but they’re going to be hit very hard,” he said.

He said that “fears of shortages have led to inflated requests” by some state officials.  As an example, he said one state requested “40,000 ventilators.”

“Everybody has proper intentions,” Trump said, and said the federal government is “backup.”  “When the brunt of it comes, which is coming quickly…we want to be ready to hit the area that needs it…” he said at 4:24 p.m.  “We will continue to use every power, every resource…we have to get back to work; we have to open our country again.  We don’t want to be doing this for months and months and months.  This country wasn’t meant for this,” he abruptly said.

He said he spoke with sports associations leaders such as Roger Goodell, Dana White, Vince McMahon, Steve Phelps, and Jay Monahan, Roger Penske, and Drew Fleming and “they want to get back..we’re going to have to get back. We want to get back very soon.”

Trump said that the Defense Production Act (DPA) is being used when necessary to step up the manufacturing of medical supplies and equipment.  He mentioned 3M Corporation, which reportedly sent masks to China when they were needed domestically.

If a governor wants 200 ventilators and I say, ‘No we’re going to send you 1,000’ and the media gets involved, Trump said, “politics” then enters the fray.  “That’s politics…because we can’t play that game.”  Of the states, he said, “Many of their cupboards were bare.”

He said that “some states have more ventilators than they need…This data is vitally necessary…every day this horrible, invisible enemy changes course.  If you were fighting the normal fight, you’d know what’s happening.”  The administration’s goal is to anticipate states’ needs several days in advance, he said.

Trump said that 10,000 ventilators are now “stockpiled,” some of which are going to New York State and City.  He said 1,000 military “support workers” such as nurses, doctors and respiratory therapists will be sent to New York and New Jersey.

Washington State’s situation is “stabilizing,” he said.

“New countermeasures” are being taken to “vanquish the virus as quickly as we can,” Trump said.

The FDA has established an “accelerated” program to develop coronavirus therapies, he said.  “HHS continues to speed the development of therapies” using blood serum or to shorten the length and severity of the virus, he said.

India is considering supplying the U.S. with hydroxychloroquine, a drug approved by the FDA for malaria which Trump has particularly emphasized in his press conferences.  “I’ll just speak for myself…it’s been out for a long time…there’s a study out that people with lupus aren’t catching this virus…you’re going to have to check it out…but there’s a lot of very positive things about it,” he said.

He said that Johnson & Johnson “seems to be leading in terms of the studies” to develop a vaccine.

Rendecevir is under an FDA-approved clinical study, he said.  Oracle has begun collecting “real-time data” from individuals recovering from the virus, he added.

Beginning Friday, “economic relief” is flowing to businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program, Trump said, stating, “It’s worked out incredibly well…It’s so far going way ahead of schedule.”

“Houses of worship” are eligible to apply for the loans and grants, Trump.  As he tweeted earlier, he said he will seek more funds if those allocated through the CARES Act run low.

Regarding the economic shutdown, Trump said at 4:39 p.m., “We did the right thing, but we have to open; we have to open our country.”

At 4:42, Trump brought to the podium FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn, who said that hydroxychloroquine has been “prioritized” as a therapy against the coronavirus.  On Friday, he said a “formal convalescent plasma program” was established which uses blood plasma from recovering coronavirus patients as an injection into suffering patients.

At 4:44, NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said that “We’re going to be seeing that there are going to be deaths that continue to go up.” However, he said “new cases, hospitalizations and deaths” will occur even as mitigation involving social distancing continues.

He said that countries and areas of the U.S. which have practiced strict social distancing have been able to affect the number of new cases.  “This is what we really have to do,” he said, referring to staying home, avoiding crowds, etc.  “We have to do it,” he added.  He said he was encouraged to see a Washington, DC restaurant serving takeout food on Friday evening made sure that patrons stood “at least six feet apart” when picking up their food.

In response to a question as to concentrations of coronavirus, Trump said that some areas have “big space” between people.  He said, however, that “Los Angeles is doing extremely well.”

“The cure cannot be worse than the problem itself; we gotta get our country open,” he said to another reporter’s question.  “I think it’s going to be sooner rather than later.”  He said that “fans” want to watch sports again and that he wants sports to resume in the near future.

Trump told another reporter that he believes the governors are making good judgments in issuing or not issuing “stay-at-home” orders, which the majority of them have.



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