President Donald Trump holds a press conference discussing COVID-19 in James S. Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House.
Transcript News Conference
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
5:25 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Thank you, everybody.
We’ve had a tremendous week uniting the country in our fight against the China virus. I have reminded people of the importance of masks when you can’t socially distance, in particular. A strong message has been sent out to young people to stop going to crowded bars and other crowded places.
Yesterday, we made the amazing announcement for our plans to protect nursing home residents. We’re working very hard on that. We’re doing very well all over the country. And also about contracting with Pfizer — we made a big, big, beautiful contract with Pfizer. We think they’re very close — but we have a lot of companies that are very close — to produce a vaccine.
And I wanted to come out again today to share some additional news with you: This afternoon, my political team came to me and laid out our plans for the convention in Jacksonville, Florida. It’s a place I love. I love that state. The drawings look absolutely beautiful. I never thought we could have something look so good, so fast with everything going on. And everything was going well — a tremendous list of speakers; thousands of people wanting to be there — and I mean, in some cases, desperately be there. They wanted to attend. People making travel arrangements all over the country; they wanted to be there. The pageantry, the signs, the excitement were really, really top of the line.
But I looked at my team, and I said, “The timing for this event is not right. It’s just not right with what’s happened recently — the flare up in Florida — to have a big convention. It’s not the right time.”
It’s really something that, for me — I have to protect the American people. That’s what I’ve always done. That’s what I always will do. That’s what I’m about.
They said, “Sir, we can make this work very easily. We have great enthusiasm. Incredible enthusiasm. Even the polls say about the most enthusiasm they’ve seen. We can do this safely, and we can do it responsibly.”
And I said, “There’s nothing more important in our country than keeping our people safe, whether that’s from the China virus or the radical-left mob that you see in Portland” — where I want to thank Homeland Security and others in law enforcement for doing a fantastic job over the last few days. They went in, and people were out of control for 51 days — a long time. And Homeland Security and other law enforcement with us went in, and they’ve done a great job protecting our property — the federal courthouse and other property — and, most importantly, protecting our people. Or the senseless violence that you see in Chicago or New York or Detroit — a lot of other cities where so many people are shot, and so many people are killed. And people elected me to help and to protect.
So, I told my team, “It’s time to cancel the Jacksonville, Florida, component of the GOP Convention.” We’ll be starting in North Carolina for the Monday, as has always been planned. We were never taking that off. That’s remaining as it is. The delegates are going to get together. That’s where they do their nomination. So, the delegates are going to North Carolina, and they’ll be doing the nomination. And we’re going to do some other things with tele-rallies and online — the week that we’re discussing, which will be really good. I think we’re going to do it well. And I’ll still do a convention speech in a different form, but we won’t do a big, crowded convention per se. It’s just not the right time for that.
I care deeply about the people of Florida and everywhere else, frankly, in this country — and even in the world — who would be coming into the state, and I don’t want to do anything to upset it. They’ll be doing very well very shortly. We’re going to put some maps up of the country behind me, and you’ll see that the area that we’re talking about is a hotspot. You will also see a lot of the country is — has no problem whatsoever — most of the country, actually. So I’m always going to take care of you, so that that’s the way we’re going to do it.
I’ve spoken to Governor DeSantis and informed other political leaders. I want to thank the Jacksonville community, and its great mayor. He’s a great — great guy. Really great guy. They wanted it so badly. And all of the other political representatives in Jacksonville and in Florida. And just very special people — a very special group. And they were there for us, 100 percent.
Today, I want to provide an update on the actions we’re taking to support the safe reopening of America’s schools. Parents around the world who have had their children home for the last few months have a greater appreciation for the fact that teachers are essential workers, that they’re essential to our children’s future. Our goal is to protect our teachers and students from the China virus while ensuring that families with high-risk factors can continue to participate from home. Very important.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has released guidance recommending that schools reopen. It said, quote:
“Lengthy time away from school and associated interruption of supportive services often results in [a] social isolation, making it difficult for schools to identify and address important learning deficits as well as child and adolescent physical [and] sexual abuse, substance use, depression, and suicidal ideation. This, in turn, places children and adolescents at considerable risk of morbidity and, in some cases, mortality. Beyond the educational impact and social impact of school closures, there has been [a] substantial impact on food security and physical activity for children and [for] families.”
So, that’s very important, and there’s a highway — it goes both ways.
The National Education Association recently stated, “Despite the momentous efforts of educators during the pandemic, online learning has never been an effective replacement for in-person learning and support.” Being at the school, being on the campus is very, very important.
One study estimates that, due to school closures last spring, the average student will begin the school year roughly 35 percent behind in reading compared to the typical year, and more than 50 percent behind in math. That’s a big statement.
According to McKinsey & Company, learning loss will probably be greatest among low-income black and Hispanic students. They’re the ones that are hit the hardest. We don’t want that happening.
Thirty million American students rely on schools for free and reduced meals. Over 70 percent of the students who receive mental health services do so through their schools. According to HHS, one in five reports allegedly, having to do with child abuse, they have neglect — and these are neglect and neglected cases are submitted by education personnel. So people in the education world, on the premises, will be the ones that report neglect and other problems when they see the children. They know if they’ve been neglected. They know if they’ve been hurt or harmed in any way, whether it’s at home or someplace else. But they see this at school. You don’t get to see that if you’re not going to school. It’s a big thing.
Fortunately, the data shows that children are lower risk from the China virus, very substantially. When children do contact the virus, they often have only very mild symptoms or none at all, and medical complications are exceedingly rare. Those that do face complications often have underlying medical conditions. Ninety-nine percent of all China virus hospitalizations are adults. And 99.96 percent of all fatalities are adults. That means that children are a tiny percentage — less than 1 percent, and even a small percentage of 1 percent.
In a typical year, the flu results in more deaths of those under 18 in the United States than have been lost thus far to the coronavirus. Many different names. Many, many different names.
The life of every child is sacred and must be protected. Our sole focus is the health and wellbeing of America’s children.
I have a very, very special person who loves children, who is — who is, I think, one of the greatest athletes of all time. A lot of people say “the greatest pitcher of all time.” Known as a “relief pitcher” who could have been whatever he wanted. Some people — he is the greatest reliever of all time, by far. Substantially more saves than anybody else. In fact, he got the Presidential Medal of Freedom recently.
And he — I’m reading off these stats. I knew he was the best. I knew he was great, but I didn’t know it was almost double anybody else. But he’s a man who loves children — has children, loves children, works hard with children. We’re going to go outside and be with some little leaguers. Mariano Rivera — you know, he’s the “Sandman,” right? My wife said, “Darling, why do they call him the ‘Sandman’?” I said, “You know, they play the song. He just puts the batters to sleep.” And that’s exactly what happened.
So, having Mariano here is a great honor. Thank you very much. He was talking about children in schools. And there’s nobody that’s done more than you have. Thank you very much, Mariano. Fantastic man.
Given these considerations, we believe many school districts can now reopen safely, provided they implement mitigation measures and health protocols to protect families, protect teachers, and to protect students. And we do have to protect the teachers and the families also; we have to remember that.
All families should be empowered to make the decision that is right for their own circumstance. This is especially important if a child has underlying health conditions or lives with a parent or grandparent who is at high risk.
In cities or states that are current hotspots — and you’ll see that in the map behind me — districts may need to delay reopening for a few weeks, and that’s possible. That’ll be up to governors. The decision should be made based on the data and the facts on the grounds in each community, but every district should be actively making preparations to open.
Again, the children obviously have a very strong immune system, maybe even as strong as yours. They seem to be able to fight it off and not have a problem. So, it’s pretty amazing actually. Great, great credit.
Our strategy to safely reopen schools mirrors our approach nationwide. As we race toward the completion of a vaccine and therapeutics, the responsible path is to shelter those at highest risk, while allowing those at lower risk — much lower, in the case of young children — to resume work and school and — as long as everyone practices vigilant hygiene and social distancing. We want that.
A permanent shutdown was never the strategy, which would ultimately lead to greater mortality and irreversible harms. We don’t want to do that.
At the same time, we have to get our economy going. We had tremendous numbers issued yesterday. Housing prices — pricing of housing up 21 percent. It’s the highest in history. It’s the highest number in history. Real estate housing went up 21 percent.
Today, the CDC will provide additional guidance for how schools can reopen safely. I hope that local leaders put the full health and wellbeing of their students first and make the right decision for children, parents, teachers, and not make political decisions. This isn’t about politics; it’s about something very, very important. This is not about politics. I even think it’s bad politics if you do the wrong decision. Very bad politics.
We’re asking Congress to provide $105 billion to schools as part of the next coronavirus relief bill. This funding will support mitigation measures, such as smaller class sizes, more teachers and teacher aides, repurposing spaces to practice social distancing, and crucially, mask-wearing. This money is in addition to the $30 billion we secured for schools and universities earlier this year. That money we have; some is distributed, and some is not distributed.
If schools do not reopen, the funding should go to parents to send their child to public, private, charter, religious, or homeschool of their choice. The key word being “choice.” If the school is closed, the money should follow the student so the parents and families are in control of their own decisions. So we’d like the money to go to the parents of the student. This way, they can make the decision that’s best for them.
We cannot indefinitely stop 50 million American children from going to school — harming their mental, physical, and emotional development. Reopening our schools is also critical to ensuring that parents can go to work and provide for their families.
The Council of Economic Advisers estimates that 5.6 million parents will be unable to return to work if schools do not reopen this year. That’s a tremendous problem. It’s a tremendous problem. Schools have to open safely, but they have to open.
More than a dozen European countries — as well as South Korea, Taiwan, and many others — have already reopened schools, and cases have not risen. We can achieve the same goal if we unite together, follow the best medical practices, and apply common sense.
We’ll continue to support states and cities in the current hotspots in the South, Southwest, and West. The governors — I know them all. They’re all very, very capable. They’re doing a very good job. They’re working so hard. You wouldn’t even believe it.
We have nearly 30,000 federal personnel deployed in the states that need assistance. We’re helping with doctors and nurses — medical personnel of all kinds. As a PPE update, we’re in close communication with governors and states.
We have supplies — everything they could possibly need. We’re very strong on supplies. Remember I used to say the cupboards were bare? Well, now the cupboards are the opposite.
Due to our historic efforts to increase both the National Stockpile and the state stockpiles, the vast majority of the states have 60 days’ worth of supplies on hand. And most importantly, they have ventilators — because the ventilators are very, very hard to come by, at least in the past. Now we’re making thousands of ventilators a month and supplying them, in many cases, to other countries.
For states that are making requests, we’re rapidly delivering. In the last 24 hours, FEMA has deployed more than 1.5 million masks upon request, 1.7 million gowns, and 600,000 — well, let me change that. We’ve created about 600,000 different supplies. We have 600 ventilators to Arizona, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Idaho, and Washington. I think the number is 600. We’ll go check that, and we’ll give it you in a little while. But we’ve — we’ve got a stockpile of thousands of ventilators. I think we’ve sent out about 600 just recently.
The United States has now conducted more than 51 million tests, which is more than any other country in the world, by far. Roughly half of the tests are either the rapid, point-of- care tests, which, frankly, solves a lot of problem in delay — 5 to 15 minutes, instead of waiting for service both ways, in both directions, and then at the lab. But roughly half of them now, which is a tremendous increase, are 5- to 15-minute tests or tests done in a hospital where you get the results back in less than a day — in some cases, immediately.
We’re continuing to surge testing to current ho- — hotspots, such as Miami and Phoenix, to detect those with the virus and take steps to stop from spreading it further.
This is a copy of the map, and this is a — you have it right behind me. That’s really very much indicating where the problems are. You see from — from that, it’s in great shape — lots of it. The Northeast has become very clean. The country is in very good shape, other than if you look South and West — some problems. That will all work out.
On therapies: We’ve worked with Florida to ensure that over 40,000 vials of remdesivir are arriving this week. That’s a lot. That’s a really — that’s a lot. They’re working around the clock to make it. It’s had a tremendous impact. We’ve also shipped thousands of vials to Arizona, California, and Texas over the past two weeks. Arizona is doing very well; it’s heading down. The numbers are heading down, I think, very quickly. The governor has done a great job. They’ve all done a great job. They’ve all done a great job. Working hard.
We’ll continue to monitor the areas rising and — with respect to cases. And we ask all Americans to exercise vigilance, practice social distancing, wear a mask, do whatever is necessary so we get rid of this horrible situation — this horrible disease that was sent to us by China.
It should not have been sent. They should have stopped it. They could have stopped it. They didn’t. And the entire world has gotten infected, and a lot of countries are going through a lot right now.
This morning, I spoke with President Putin of Russia, and they’re going through a very hard time with this — in Moscow, in particular. I spoke to the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. They’re doing well, but they’re going through a lot. Everybody is going through a lot.
Yesterday, I spoke to the heads of four different countries. All four are going through a lot. They’re going through a hard time.
This could have been stopped. It could have been stopped quickly and easily. But for some reason, it wasn’t, and we’ll figure out what that reason was.