by Sharon Rondeau

(Apr. 14, 2020) — At Tuesday’s press conference on the coronavirus held in the Rose Garden, President Trump said he and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin discussed how best to assist the airlines in the wake of the economic shutdown.

He commended “the American people” for practicing social distancing to reduce the spread of the disease.

In a key announcement, he said he has instructed his administration to stop financial support to the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations entity which provided erroneous information on the coronavirus pandemic through early March.  He said the group’s “disastrous” opposition of his China travel ban cost many lives around the world.

“Many countries said, ‘We’re going to listen to the WHO,'” Trump said, resulting in conditions “nobody can believe.”

The pandemic has infected close to 2 million people worldwide as of Tuesday, Fox News reported.

Trump said the WHO’s “political correctness” came at the sacrifice of lives.

Since its founding in 1948, Trump said, the U.S. has “generously” supported the WHO in the interest of worldwide health.  “The reality is that the WHO failed to adequately obtain information and share it in a transparent fashion,” he said.

Last week, Trump had said that the WHO has exhibited “China-centric” policies.  The U.S. has provided $500 million to the WHO, he said.

It erroneously reported that coronavirus was spread by animal-to-human contact, Trump said, and demonstrated an “inability to obtain virus samples” for study by scientists.  “The world received all kinds of false information” about the transmission of the virus from the WHO, Trump said.

He said it was the WHO’s responsibility to have investigated the origin of the virus and worked to contain it.  Rather, Trump said, the organzation “praised China for its transparency” while supporting China’s false narrative.

Trump additionally called out the WHO for failing to acknowledge its mistakes.  “It would have been so easy to be truthful, and so much damage has been caused by their mistakes,” he said.

“Global health” will be “redirected,” he said, “and we’ll be discussing it with other countries and global health partners.”

He left open the possibility that the group might “reform.”

He said that because of the resilience of the U.S. health system, no one has been deprived of a ventilator if it was needed.  He said “some states” asked for an unreasonable number of ventilators. “Those that didn’t get ventilators were said to be in a position only of one alternative, and that was death,” he said.  “I instructed my team to move heaven and earth to make sure that didn’t happen.”

Trump contended that his invocation of the Defense Production Act (DPA) to prod companies to make medical equipment instead of their customary products was highly successful.  He said 10,000 ventilators now reside in the federal stockpile and will be available in the event of “a surge.”

There will be 100,000 ventilators in the stockpile as of June, an aide reported.

The administration is working with hospitals and health systems across the country to create a database of the nation’s ventilator supply, Trump announced, after which five hospital-association CEOs each gave brief remarks.

The U.S. has a better ratio of ICU rooms to its population than all other countries, Trump said.

Through the partnership with the hospitals, ventilators will be “voluntarily” loaned to other hospitals which need them.  “We’re going to be helping, very soon, when the supply really starts pouring in…we’re going to be helping other countries.  They need it; they have to have ventilators,” he said.

The FDA has authorized the first “saliva” coronavirus test, he announced, to be done in “healthcare settings,” and will be processed by Rutgers University.  “A lot of great innovation is taking place during this time,” Trump said.  “I call it ‘innovation under pressure.'”

On reopening the economy, he said he believes “it’s going to go up tremendously” as evidenced by rising stock-market levels in recent days. “They have a lot of confidence that we’re doing the right thing,” he said.

“Industry leaders” will be advising the administration on how to reopen the economy, Trump said.  “There’s never been an economy like we had just a little over a month ago,” he said, reciting the employment and stock-market statistics before the coronavirus pervaded the U.S.

“The plans to reopen the country are close to being finalized,” he said,” and “details and guidelines” will be made public. He said he will then speak with all governors separately and introducing a plan for each to reopen on an individual timetable.  “It’s going to be very, very close, maybe even before the date of May 1st” for some states, Trump said.

He said that “big producing companies can’t believe what we were able to do with ventilators.”

He will be speaking with the governors on Wednesday, he said, and will be discussing “a list of industries,” after which he named specific companies such as Citigroup, Wells Fargo, food-producers, North America Building Trades Union, Teamsters, Bechtel, National Association of Homebuilders, Associated General Contractors, AFL-CIO, Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman, Raytheon, General Dynamics, energy companies, restaurant chains, FedEx, UPS, United Airlines, JB Hunt, Crowley, Maritime, Liberty Media, Verizon, T-Mobile, Charter Communications, and Comcast, among others.

In the “healthcare” category, he enumerated Community Health Systems, New York Presbyterian, 3M, Procter & Gamble, Abbot Laboratories, Eli Lilly, Gilead Sciences, AbbieVie, Roche, Aetna, United Health Group, etc.

In technology, he identified Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, IBM, Intel, Cisco, Broadcom…

“There’s nobody even close to our tech companies; nobody can catch ’em,” he commented, “so they try to buy ’em.”

He said he is eager to see sports return to the American landscape, specifically golf, baseball, soccer, WWE, NASCAR, NHL, and various team owners.

He said that The Heritage Foundation, Condoleezza Rice, and faith leaders are involved in reopening the country.  “We’ll be talking about things that are very important to a lot of people, including me,” Trump said.

“The governors are going to be opening up their states,” he said, and expressed confidence that each governor will know when the time is right.  “They’re equipped to do testing,” he said.  “We have a system where other countries are coming to us,” he said.

He again thanked Abbott for devising a new coronavirus test.

“The governors are responsible; they have to take charge,” he said.  He suggested that they “check people” entering their states.  “They’re going to take charge at their borders,” he said.  “They’ll be able to do that very shortly…and frankly, it will be at a time that will be earlier than the deadline we imposed, at the end of April…”

“We’re counting on the governors to do a great job,” he said, adding that he believes “it will be a beautiful thing to watch.”  He stressed that “Washington” cannot make local decisions but left open the possibility that “we’ll have to do something that’s very serious” if coronavirus should spread within a state.

He said discussions with the governors will focus on “life and health” as well as the economy.  “We’ll be giving them what they need if they don’t have it themselves,” he said.  “They can rely on us very strongly…” he said, providing the example of the Army Corps of Engineers’ building of field hospitals which were used very lightly.

“We’re going to be announcing the political list tomorrow,” and a meeting by teleconference with governors will take place on Thursday, Trump said.

At 7:02 p.m., he opened up the presser for questions.

To the first question about WHO funding, Trump said an investigation into the organization will take place over the next 60-90 days.

To a second question, Trump predicted that the governors “will be fine” and respect the office of the presidency.  “If they’re not satisfied with their testing, they shouldn’t open,” he commented.

“So a lot of good things are happening,” he said, then made his exit at 7:22 p.m.



Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.