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Trump: Coronavirus Task Force Press Conference

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President Trump with the Coronavirus Task Force held a Press Conference in the Press Briefing Room at the White House.

Trump was Monday’s KVML “Newsmaker of the Day”. Here are his words:

“I want to provide an update to our people, to our citizens — to the world, frankly — on our action to address the coronavirus and those that have been hurt badly by it.

At this moment, we have 22 patients in the United States currently that have coronavirus. Unfortunately, one person passed away overnight. She was a wonderful woman — a medically high-risk patient in her late fifties. Four others are very ill. Thankfully, 15 are either recovered fully or they’re well on their way to recovery. And in all cases, they’ve been let go in their home.

Additional cases in the United States are likely, but healthy individuals should be able to fully recover. And we think that will be a statement that we can make with great surety now that we’ve gotten familiar with this problem. They should be able to recover should they contract the virus. So, healthy people, if you’re healthy, you will probably go through a process and you’ll be fine.

Since the early stages of the foreign outbreak, my administration has taken the most aggressive action in modern history to confront the spread of this disease. We moved very early. That was one of the decisions we made that really turned out to be a lifesaver, in a sense. A big lifesaver.

On January 31st, I imposed travel restrictions on foreign nations who had — and anybody that had been to China or people coming out of China. And I want to say that China seems to be making tremendous progress. Their numbers are way down. And if you read, Tim Cook of Apple said that they are now in full operation again in China. Their numbers are way down.

Experts now agree that the decision to move so quickly, despite a lot of opposition on that decision, was a wise one. It greatly slowed the spread of the virus to the United States, and it really gave us time to do some of the critical moves that we’ve done. And it allowed these great professionals to get together and figure it all out. And we think they’ve done that.

We’ve taken the most aggressive actions to confront the coronavirus. They are the most aggressive taken by any country. And we’re the number-one travel destination anywhere in the world, yet we have far fewer cases of the disease than even countries with much less travel or a much smaller population.

As an important part of our efforts, on Monday, I’ll be meeting with the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, actually. They’ll be coming to the White House, and we’re talking about a vaccine and developing, very quickly — and they’ve already started working on it — developing, very rapidly, a vaccine for the virus, to combat the virus. And we’re having very good initial feedback. But these companies will be coming to the White House on Monday.

Tremendous amounts of supplies are already on hand. We have 43 million masks, which is far more than anyone would have assumed we could have had so quickly, and a lot more are coming.

Today, the White House Coronavirus Task Force, led by Vice President Mike Pence, they met for two and a half hours. I spent a lot of that time with them also, and we came up with some ideas, recommendations, and, frankly, some pretty strict edicts that we’re going to be going by. And Mike is going to be discussing that.

But we are really having a group of people that is so talented and they’re working around the clock. And for that reason, I really would wish that we could really — that we could report exactly what’s happened: how well we’re doing under quite adverse circumstances.

But we’re doing really well. Very, very professionally handled. Our country is prepared for any circumstance. We hope it’s not going to be a major circumstance; it’ll be a smaller circumstance. But whatever the circumstance is, we’re prepared.

And I’d like to just ask and caution that the media — we would respectfully ask the media and politicians and everybody else involved not do anything to incite panic because there’s no reason to panic at all.

This is something that is being handled professionally. I also want to thank, by the way, governors and representatives of our various states — in some cases, some more than others — because they’ve really been working very hard in areas where we’ve seen indication of the virus. But I want to thank the governors and all of the representatives from all of our states. The rooms they’ve made available, the speed with which they’ve worked, has really been incredible.

So, again, thank you to everybody. I’m going to ask Mike Pence now to discuss a little bit about travel. And we have some restrictions on some travel from other countries that are having a hard time. And I want to thank everybody.

We’ll take some questions as soon as we’re finished. Thank you very much.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you, Mr. President. Let me begin, as the President did, by expressing our deepest condolences to the family of the woman in Washington State who’s lost her life to the coronavirus. I want to assure that family that they’re on the hearts of every American. And those that are continuing to struggle — in some cases, in ICU units — can be assured of the prayers of millions of Americans.

From the moment that this country learned of the spread of the coronavirus, President Donald Trump took decisive action and established the White House Coronavirus Task Force. And as the President just described, the President took unprecedented action to suspend all travel into the United States from China. It simply had never been done before by any previous administration. And it is among the reasons why the threat to Americans of coronavirus remains low, despite today’s tragic news from Washington State.

The task force met this morning and brought the President a range of options. And at his direction, we will be doing the following:

First, the President authorized action today to add additional travel restrictions on Iran. We will be using Section 212(f), banning travel from Iran. Iran is already under a travel ban, but we are expanding existing travel restrictions to include any foreign national who has visited Iran within the last 14 days.

In addition to moving Iran, we are going to increase to the highest level of advisory — which is level four — advising Americans do not travel to specific regions in Italy and South Korea.

Let me say again: The President today has authorized the State Department to increase the travel advisory for Americans to level four. We are urging Americans to not travel to the areas in Italy, and the areas in South Korea, that are most affected by the coronavirus.

The President has also directed the State Department to work with our allies in Italy and in South Korea to coordinate a screening — a medical screening in their countries of any individuals that are coming into the United States of America. And we look forward to working with them in a collaborative and a cooperative way.

Now, with regard to the task force, I’m just a few days into this job, but I can tell you, having spent time with these extraordinary professionals that the President just alluded to, having spoken directly to more than a dozen governors — including Governor Jay Inslee this morning in Washington State — I am — I think every American would be proud to know what I’ve heard about the work of HHS, the work of CDC, the work of all of our agencies.

At the President’s direction, this team has been working seamlessly with health officials at the state and local level. And I can assure the American public that we will continue to live out the President’s admonition a few days ago that we’re all in this together.

And as we work with members of Congress — I’ve had the opportunity to speak with Republican and Democrat leadership in the Congress — we’ll be working very closely on a supplemental funding bill to make sure that not only do all these agencies have the resources that they require, but we’ll also make sure that state and local health officials have the resources and the reimbursement to take such actions that are necessary to protect the health of the American people.

The President mentioned masks. This morning, we talked a great deal about additional medical supplies. Let me be very clear — and I’m sure the physicians who are up here will reflect this as well: The average American does not need to go out and buy a mask.

But this administration is going to always put first our patients, first. And second, we’re going to make sure and protect the health of our healthcare providers. As the President said, we have more than 40 million masks available today. We’ve contracted now with 3M. Thirty-five million more masks per month will be produced, and we’re also going to be working with other manufacturers.

In addition to that, the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response will be announcing today courses of action to increase the availability of masks, as well as prioritizing availability to high-risk healthcare workers, modifying guidance, and developing a whole-of-nations communications plan.

The President wants us to be certain that our healthcare providers have the support they need to do their job and to do their job safely.

So, with that, I’m going to yield the podium to the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and then we’ll hear from some of our medical experts. But let me assure every American: At President Trump’s direction, this is an all-hands-on-deck effort.

And while the risk to Americans remain low, the President’s actions today with regard to Iran, with regard to Italy and the South Korea, and with regard to making medical supplies more available, I hope gives evidence to the fact that, at his direction, we’re going to continue to lean into this effort and put the health and safety of the American people first.

Mr. Secretary?

SECRETARY AZAR: Thank you, Mr. Vice President. Let me begin by, on behalf of all of the officials at HHS and our whole teams, expressing our sadness for the loss of this patient in the state of Washington. Any single death for us is a real tragedy. And our sympathy to her family and our solidarity with all those who are and will suffer from the novel coronavirus.

From day one, this is what we predicted, this is what we expected. The risk to any average American is low, from the novel coronavirus. The risk remains low. Thanks to the unprecedented actions President Trump has taken and the actions he’s announcing today, that risk remains low.

But this can change rapidly. We have always said, from the first moment that we have spoken about this, that we would see more cases. We are seeing more cases. We will see more cases.

But it’s important to remember: For the vast majority of individuals who contract the novel coronavirus, they will experience mild to moderate symptoms, and their treatment will be to remain at home, treating their symptoms the way they would a severe cold or the flu.

For some individuals, a smaller percentage, especially those who may be medically fragile, they will require medical attention, including possibly hospitalization.

Our basic message in terms of the containment of this disease and the measures that we have and are — taken and are today announcing is: We want to lower the amount of travel to and from the most impacted areas. This is a basic containment strategy. That is the philosophy behind the moves that we have taken, the moves we’re announcing today, and any moves that we will consider in the future.

With that said, let me turn things over to Dr. Tony Fauci, the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease at NIH. Thank you very much.

Dr. Fauci?

DR. FAUCI: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary. I want to first, again, as the entire team feels, to extend our sympathies to the family of the individual who expired as a result of this particular virus and this particular disease.

But I also want to underscore and emphasize the points that the Secretary made about what is evolving here. You’ve heard of the terminology, “community spread.” Well, community spread is when you have infection in the community in which you don’t have a direct link to a known index case. That really challenges us with something that we need to do and that we do very well. The state and local health authorities, in collaboration with the CDC, would need to identify, isolate, and contact trace. And that’s what’s going on right here in the country.

With regard to the particular area that’s involved now in Washington, the country as a whole — because we get asked that all the time — still remains at low risk. But when we say that, we want to underscore that this is an evolving situation. And in real time, we will keep you appraised of what is going on just the same way as though we are doing it today.

So how do you address this new challenge? There’s what we do from within and what we do from without. I hearken back to the original decision that was made by the President of making sure that we knew the scenario that was going on in China. We prevented travel from China to the United States. If we had not done that, we would have had many, many more cases right here that we would have to be dealing with.

So in that spirit, the approach is going to be as we address this challenge, which is going to evolve by the day and by the week, to do what was just mentioned: to try and keep our citizens from going to places that are active infection, and to prevent places where there are active infection to necessarily easily get here. That’s the getting it from without to within.

From within, we will very aggressively do the kind of public health measures that would hopefully contain this. But as we say this, we need to prepare for further challenges. And we will have them. You will hear about additional cases that will be coming on. You should not be surprised by that, but to realize that that is something that is anticipated when you get community spread.

So when you have cases throughout the world, the way we’re seeing now — South Korea, Italy, Iran, and places like that — the United States cannot be completely immune to that. The challenge is how we deal with it. And I can assure you all the resources that are necessary are going to be put into dealing with what we see evolving right now.

Again, we’d be happy to answer any questions later. But, Bob, do you want to say a few words?

DR. REDFIELD: I also want to add my prayers and sympathies for those that are sick and obviously our citizen that unfortunately died last night.

Currently, as said, there’s 22 cases in the United States. And these initial cases were really linked to travel to China and their contacts. Recently, as was stated, we’ve confirmed new cases with no link to travel history or contacts.

And the health departments, under the leadership of the states, and local health departments supported by CDC, are aggressively evaluating these cases in California, Oregon, and Washington.

As was said, we should anticipate to see additional cases and clusters in the days ahead, and we will continue to aggressively evaluate them by the state and local and territorial and tribal health departments, in conjunction with CDC, by embracing early case recognition, isolation, contact tracing, and begin to do that to limit the further spread.

I want to also add my emphasis to what was said: That as we stand here today, the risk of the American public remains low. As was said, we should anticipate more cases, but again, the current risk to the American public remains low.”

THE PRESIDENT: So, ladies and gentlemen, we’ll be doing this quite often. We’re going to keep you abreast of all of the facts.

And again, I want to thank the professionals. They are great professionals. I’ve gotten to really know them and see them under very interesting and tough and trying conditions. We have the finest in the world.

I will say this: Other countries call us and they ask, would it be possible for them to speak to Anthony and Bob and the people that you’re talking to on a daily basis now. So we’re going to be very transparent. We’ll be meeting you probably tomorrow or the next day. We’ll keep you abreast. Thank you very much.

The “Newsmaker of the Day” is heard every weekday morning at 6:45, 7:45 and 8:45 on AM 1450 and FM 102.7 KVML.

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