by Sharon Rondeau

(Apr. 22, 2020) — President Trump launched Wednesday’s presser by stating that coronavirus cases in major urban areas continue to fall.

He immediately switched topics to say that CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield was “misquoted” in the press on remarks he made about a possible resurgence of the virus in the fall concurrent with the typical flu.

Trump specifically called out CNN, stating that the outlet was “asked to change” its story on Redfield’s statement but that it refused.  He then called upon Redfield to explain his intent.

Redfield said he meant that Americans should “embrace the flu vaccine with confidence…and thereby minimize the impact of flu to be the co-respiratory disease that we confront.”

When Trump retook the podium, he said that Redfield was emphasizing the importance of a flu shot to reduce overall illness in the fall.  A question from ABC’s Jonathan Karl asked Redfield to clarify his remarks made to The Washington Post.  “This spring that we just went through…we had the benefit of having the flu season ended, “Redfield said, so that coronavirus was easier to distinguish. “So the comment that I made — ‘it’s more difficult’ — was to say that it would be harder to determine whether an illness is flu or coronavirus,” he told Karl.

Therefore, it is important to obtain a flu shot, Redfield said.

Karl asked Redfield if he was properly quoted by The Post, to which Redfield answered in the affirmative and that he is “confident that the public health infrastructure” being built to detect the coronavirus will be effective in its “containment.”

Dr. Deborah Birx then took the podium, stating, “When we first interacted with this virus for the first time in the February and March time frame, we didn’t understand its transmissibility…but I think we also know the strength of the American people” in utilizing mitigation strategies.

She said the Task Force “is preparing” for the possibility that the coronavirus will “come back.”  “I think what Dr. Redfield clearly was asking for…” was “getting a flu shot,” she said.

“The great thing is we’ll be able to find it earlier,…so what Dr. Redfield said, we’ll be able to stay in containment phase,” she added.

Birx said that the CDC is looking to “prevent or decrease” incidences of flu.

“We have much better containment now,” Trump said upon regaining the podium and replying to a question from Reuters’s Jeff Mason.  “If we have embers of corona coupled with the flu, that’s not going to be pleasant…” Trump said.

Another reporter asked Trump why his administration is stockpiling “so many” ventilators if he believes the coronavirus will not return significantly, to which Trump said, “Because we’re going to need them.”

Trump said he “spoke with world leaders today” who need ventilators.  “They all said to me one thing:  ‘It was incredible that you solved the ventilator problem,'” he said.

“You people aren’t satisfied,” he told the press in general.  “You have a lot of bad reporting out there,” he said in regard to the issue of adequate testing.

He said the press has not been accurate in its reporting on “ventilators.”  Vice President Mike Pence then confirmed that several companies are making large numbers of ventilators, which Trump used to illustrate his administration’s success on that issue.

As for reopening the U.S. economy, Trump said, “We must maintain vigilance and continue practicing social distancing.”  “The governors are going to adhere, hopefully, or they’re going to do what they think is best,” he said. “We must guard against a dangerous rebound; the doctor doesn’t want a rebound; these people definitely don’t want a rebound.”

He said the “deaths” that have occurred were “unnecessary” and that the virus should have been confined to the “small area” in China where it began.

He repeated the strides made in developing multiple tests enumerated at Tuesday’s presser.

His administration is working with governors to reopen their states, he said, particularly New York and California.  “Some of the governors have done a fantastic job,” he remarked.

In a new development, Trump said he told Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp earlier that he “strongly disagrees” with his decision to allow the reopening of certain businesses this Friday.  He said he believes “beauty salons, spas, barber shops, tattoo parlors” “can wait a little bit longer, because safety has to predominate.”

“I told the governor, very simply, that I disagree with his decision, but he has to do what he thinks is right,” Trump said.

He announced that the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels will be “performing air shows” over America’s cities “to pay tribute to our frontline healthcare workers” due to the coronavirus, he said.  “They are equal warriors to those incredible pilots,” he said, and added that “we will win” the fight against the virus.

“I want to see those shows; I’ve seen them many times and I can’t get enough of them,” Trump said.  He announced that on July 4, the Blue Angels will be performing as they did last year.

He reiterated that the military medical professionals were said to be “just fantastic” by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

He again said that “the people who have passed away should never have been allowed to happen.”

He repeated his call for Harvard University to return the money it received under the CARES Act given its very large endowment.  Harvard agreed not to accept the money, Trump reported, as did Stanford University under similar circumstances.

“There’s a certain amount of money we are not sending,” Trump said, and thanked both universities for their respective decisions.

The new funds to emanate from the bill passed by the Senate on Tuesday will provide funds for “distressed communities” as well as extend the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses, Trump said.  “It was a unanimous vote; how often do you see that?” he asked rhetorically.

The House has yet to vote on the measure but reached an agreement with the White House on Tuesday.

Trump said that nothing of “this magnitude” has been experienced in the U.S. “since 1918,” a reference to the Spanish flu pandemic which killed an estimated 100 million worldwide.

He said testing will be expanded and that “nobody’s done it like we’ve done it.”

Pence continues to make “one-on-one phone calls” with the governors, Trump said.  He has asked HUD Secretary to concentrate on assisting urban areas’ economies to be restored, he said.

He is “determined” to see that all sectors of American society prosper as the economy reopens, he said, and recounted the positive employment numbers throughout the various sectors prior to the coronavirus.  “I really believe that we’re going to lift those numbers higher than ever before…” he said.

As announced on Twitter Monday evening to soon take place, Trump reported that he signed an executive order Wednesday suspending most immigration during the current crisis to prioritize “our great American workers.”

He said that national parks will begin to reopen with “reasonable precautions” put into practice.

He is looking forward to the development of “multiple promising new drugs” and antibody testing, which allows the donation of “convalescent plasma.”  He urged anyone recovered to consider donating plasma.

Trump said he intends to “build a country” which will be strong and prosperous.

At 6:48 p.m., Pence took the podium and reported that more than 47,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus.

“We are continuing to see declines” in many metro areas, Pence said.  “We also are seeing the ‘positive’ rate going down, which is actually as encouraging as the declining cases,” he added.

He said the reductions are “a tribute to the American people” who have practiced social distancing and the other White House guidelines announced weeks ago.  “We just want to urge all of the American people to continue onward. We all want to reopen America…the fastest way to reopen America is to continue to do what you’ve been doing,” he said.

Pence commended GE in Madison, WI, which he visited on Tuesday, for its manufacturing of ventilators.  He said he spent time speaking with unionized workers there.

There are “more than 5, 500 active-duty personnel” “working in 17 states in 17 hospitals around the country,” he said.

Coronavirus cases in VA facilities are not increasing, Pence said, and military medical personnel based in those facilities have been deployed to nursing homes where their services are needed.

“Nearly 11,000 ventilators” are now in the national stockpile, Pence reported, repeating that “no American who has required a ventilator” has gone without one.

“Walmart is producing 8.4 million gowns” to be distributed around the country “by the end of June,” Pence said.  He said many American companies have joined the effort to fight the pandemic by producing personal protective equipment.  “We can see the day that we can reopen and put America back to work,” he said, if the guidelines continue to be invoked.

Pence called upon NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci to expand on the progress made over the last several weeks.

Fauci recalled the “bad week” prediction several weeks ago encompassing rising cases and deaths.  He said the “formula” utilized to mitigate the spread has resulted in a plan which is “well-delineated and described for opening up America again.”

“The program is not one that is going to be ‘turn the lights on in America; we’re finished’; we’re not,” Fauci said. “We have to proceed in a very careful and measured way.”

“We live in a big country, and we’re heterogeneous,” he continued. He asked Americans to reconsider the impulse to “get back to normal” and “leapfrog over things.”  “Don’t do that,” he said, cautioning that “a rebound” will become a major setback.

He said “containment and mitigation” determine how widespread an “outbreak” will be.

“In the fall, we will be much, much better-prepared to do the kind of containment” necessary and which was not possible with the arrival of the virus, he said.  “Nobody can predict what is going to happen with an outbreak, but you can predict how you’re going to respond to it.”

“There will be coronavirus in the fall,” he continued, and said, “If we don’t do anything about it, it will take off.”  He added, however, that “we are going to respond to it” and thereby mitigate its spread.  Fauci indicated that he, too, “would advise” Kemp to proceed cautiously in reopening his economy.




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