As promised, here are my notes from today’s (3/24/2020) White House press conference. Today’s participants were Donald Trump, Mike Pence, Dr. Tony Fauci, Dr. Deborah Birx and Larry Kudlow. I know they are long, but I have broken them up into sections so that you can scroll to whoever you want to hear from most.
TRUMP: ROUND ONE
- Trump says everyone should continue following the White House’s 15 day challenge guidelines, as we continue our battle with the “invisible enemy”.
- According to Trump, he expects that we will be winning this war by Easter! “What a great timeline that would be.” he says, almost misty eyed as he pictures all the winning that I’m sure we’ll all be enjoying come April. You know, unless you live in Washington, New York or California. But, for those of you reading this in say, Wyoming? THERE WILL BE WINNING!
- Trump says they will continue to evaluate the data and work towards the best interests of our fantastic country.
- The virus is currently attacking 149 countries, but Trump says that everyone around the world is looking to us for… well, I guess they are looking to us for some hot tips and advice on WINNING. One can only assume.
- Trump says that he believes the light at the end of the tunnel is coming soon, although I think he might be getting some phrases about millions of Americans coming to the light a little bit confused here. Dark joke, I know.
- Here is an update on critical supplies: through FEMA, the federal government is distributing more than 8 million N95 respirators, 14 million surgical masks, with many more on order. We also now have 2.4 million face shields, 1.9 million surgical gowns, 13.5 million gloves, more than 4,000 ventilators.
- 4,000 ventilators are now coming to New York state, 2,000 of those will go to New York City.
- The Defense Production Act has been activated, but it has not yet been invoked because companies have already been helping to make supplies without being forced to do it. Ford, 3M, General Electric are all working on making supplies. They came together on their own, and have thus far have been cooperating fully.
- The Army corps of engineers and the National guard are building four hospitals in NYC and building out four separate temporary medical facilities across NY state, this number includes the Javits Center. We are also getting a Navy hospital ship “in the not too distant future”. The ship is currently under maintenance, although the maintenance has been “condensed” to make the process faster. I’m wondering what condesening maintenance actually means, but Trump assures us all that they are “Incredible ships”.
- One ship is already on its way to Los Angeles, and they are looking to develop field hospitals in LA as well.
- Secretary Mnuchin continues to work closely with members of congress to pass the boldest financial relief bill in history. Senators will hopefully soon vote on a two trillion dollar bill that will deliver cash payments to struggling Americans. They are working on job retention loans and extended unemployment benefits. They are also working on support for hard hit industries, such as the airline industry and the cruise ship industry. On a personal note, I am in a hard hit industry, and I support extending help to industries that we know will be particularly devastated by this. But, I do wonder if benefits will be extended to the hotel industry, and if Trump will directly benefit from those funds.
- Because Trump can never miss an opportunity to shift blame, he adds that he knows that “the democrats will do the right thing”.
- The Dow surged over 2,100 points today, which is the all time record of the exchange. Trump says this is very encouraging. He assumes that this happened because people are looking at what is close to being passed, and looking at how hard his team is working to get the country open again.
- Trump says he has a team of public health experts and financial people looking at when we can officially reopen the country. But honestly, from my point of view, it sounds like he is probably more so asking the financial people. He says his decision will be based on hard facts and data. But that he is really looking forward to “THAT BEAUTIFUL EASTER DAY”.
- Trump then says that this is a medical crisis, not a financial crisis. It’s a thing no one has seen in decades. We are marshalling strength.
- He’s had a call with governors, and spirits are great!
- He goes on to say that we should never be reliant on a foreign country for the means of our own survival, and that he thinks we have already learned a lot from this situation. He then somehow comes to the conclusion that this crisis has underlined how important it is to have “STRONG BORDERS” and manufacturing, and does some aimless bragging about how he has brought back a record number of jobs. Sure, jan.
- “Without borders, you don’t have a nation” he adds, just to really underline that last point.
- He says our goal for the future must be to have American medicine, American supplies, American xenophobia, etc for “our great american heroes”. Ok, I may have ad libbed some of that.
- He says we are “energy independent. I’d like a fact check on this.
- “Embrace commerce with all, be dependent on none” he continues.
- He says the best thing for the world would be to see the US make a “very powerful victory over the virus”.
- He says citizens in New York are using 3D printers to make hundreds of face shields, and to that I say… WE ARE??? And I ask, would that be because we were totally unprepared for a pandemic? Hmmm… things that make you think.
- People are uniting to collect supplies, our spirit can never be broken, etc, etc.
- Trump finishes this portion by saying “Let’s bring up someone who is maybe one of the great experts”. MAYBE.
- Dr. Birx says that we are accelerating testing at a record rate. So far, 370,000 tests have been done. The majority (over 220,000) were done in the last 8 days. She adds that what South Korea did in 8 weeks, we did in 8 days. This was made possible by the HHS team all working together, and by the FDA and CDC just basically doing their jobs. She says that we still have a lot more to do.
- They are working on the ability for people to take their own sample. That does not mean it would be a home test. That means you would be able to do it yourself with the guidance of a doctor at a testing site. The advantage of this is that it will limit the need for PPE at testing sites, and allow more PPE to go to the hospitals where they are needed most.
- “Encouraging results have been coming out of Italy.”
- She says that new cases will continue to surge because of our testing backlog, but we are close to catching up to the backlog. When we do catch up with the backlog, it will allow more realistic real time numbers for new cases each day.
- She says that they remain deeply concerned about NYC and the metro area. About 56% of all cases in the United States are coming out of this area, which represents 60% of all new cases. 31% of the people dying from the disease are in NYC.
- She reminds us that we must follow the CDC guidelines in order to get through this.
- She says that, because of the sheer number of cases we are seeing in NYC, everyone who has left New York City recently may have been exposed. Thus, anyone who has been in NYC in the last two weeks should be quarantining for the full 14 days whether you are sick or not, no matter where you went subsequently. This is especially true if you fled NYC to go to the Hamptons, where they are not prepared for a mass outbreak.
- First, he talks about testing. He says we need to know what the penetrance of infection is for this virus in areas that are not hotspots yet, in order to get a better idea of how to handle things in each state. States that are not hotspots still have hope to identify new cases and contain them. But, although this was not said out loud, what I’m getting out of this is that if you live in Washington, California or New York you’re pretty much fucked. However, the nonfucked states will be hearing a lot more about testing in the coming days.
- Second, he talks about New York. He says that people are “understandably” trying to flee the city. But so far, we believe that 1 in 1,000 people in New York City are infected. He’s not saying this out loud, but people with the means to travel are actually MORE likely to be infected than the poor. So, it’s even worse than it sounds. These people are selfishly carrying their germs with them all over the country. We are 8 to 10 times more likely to be infected than people in the rest of the country. It’s important to self isolate. We do not want New York seeding this illness to the rest of the country.
- Lastly, Dr. Fauci talks about how Donald Trump said a lot of words about the malaria drug yesterday. Please ignore them. He says we are testing lots of drugs right now. Don’t forget that. He also says that there is no clinical evidence yet that the malaria drug works. There is anecdotal evidence, but it will need to be tested and studied more before it can be recommended as a treatment. He says that they are getting many things together for clinical trials, and the subtext here is for the love of god, don’t take fish tank cleaner pills.
- He says that we are making great progress on the relief bill. We are getting closer to a deal, and he expects another vote to happen ASAP.
- Key points: Legislation is urgently needed to stabilize the economy and get us through a difficult period, and to better position us for what he thinks will be a huge economic crisis. This will be the single largest main street assistance program in the United States. Phase two of the relief package will deliver sick leave to all the hourly workers. Phase three will be a package for small businesses. He says they want to help maintain payrolls. They are currently looking at giving out direct deposit checks of roughly $3,000 for a family of four to help bridge the gaps, plus enhanced unemployment. He didn’t talk about self employment, but I’m guessing if you’re self employed you will also be helping yourself.
- The hope here is that the companies that were doing well before this will continue to do well. And if you were doing poorly? I guess we’re not going to talk about that.
- Income tax deferrals are happening. There will be no interest on student loan deferrals. The federal reserve is open to help stabilize the economy. In order to do this, we have to replenish the treasury’s emergency fund. That fun will be overseen by an oversight board. It will be totally transparent, and have an inspector general. The total package here comes to roughly six trillion dollars, two trillion in direct assistance and four trillion in federal reserve lending power.
- He says we are headed for a rough period, but it’ll only be “weeks.. Or months” but definitely not years “that’s for sure”.
TRUMP: ROUND TWO
- “Great voice, great man, Larry Kudlow” he says wistfully
- He says we’ll be “even better than we were a month ago”. WINNING! BOEING! He talks about Boeing A LOT at these conferences.
- He says money will come back in a “STRONG FORM”.
- Pence says the Coronavirus task force met again today.
- Thanks America. Here’s my 1 sheet again.
- He says that we are all making a difference. So if people can all just stay inside, that would be great.
- He says the purpose of their task force is to slow the spread, but they are also looking to identify supplies, focus on testing, and give support to our healthcare workers.
- He says that they have made great progress, repeats Dr. Birx for any of the men out there who can’t speak woman.
- If you don’t have symptoms, don’t get a test.
- He is continuing to urge all labs across the country to report their results to the CDC so we can have accurate tracking information.
- They are continuing to follow test results, but are particularly focused on New York. The reality is that New York is pretty screwed.
- If you’re in New York, please stay the fuck home. If you have left New York, don’t be a selfish bastard and isolate yourself.
- Because of the spread in NYC, we will continue to surge resources to the city. The USS Comfort is on the way.
- He gave some numbers for hospitals and supplies that contradicted what Trump said earlier.
- They have been having team meetings at FEMA. FEMA has informed them that they are shipping… just a lot of stuff.
- Last word, let’s praise businesses again.
- You guys, McDonalds is now offering curbside pickup for food for truckers! God bless America!
- Heal our land!
- *Waves the 1 sheet one more time*
TRUMP: ROUND THREE, THE QUESTIONS
(to be clear here, I am paraphrasing the questions)
- QUESTION: Mr. President, you said that you would like to see the country open by Easter and see churches packed on that day? What the fuck? Have and of the doctors signed off on that?
- TRUMP: No, totally arbitrary. I thought it sounded beautiful.
- You guys, here is the actual quote: “I think we’re looking at a timeline. We were discussing it at a very good meeting today. You know, if you add it all up, that’s probably nine days, plus another two and a half weeks. That’s a period of time that’s longer than the original two weeks. So, uh, we’re gonna look at it. We’re gonna do it if it’s good, and maybe we do sections of the country. We do large sections of the country. That could be it too. But, no we’re very much in touch with Tony and with Deborah. Whatever they would do.”
- He continues: “I just thought it was a beautiful time. A beautiful timeline. It’s a great day.”
- And again: “We were thinking sooner, but I just think it would be beautiful.”
- QUESTION: Mr. President, the numbers are going up and we are clearly fucked. What states do you think will open? What the fuck?
- TRUMP: “Well, we are working with all of them. There are large sections of our country you didn’t talk about, and we are working with all of them unbelievably well. They have small numbers. It’s very possible that they won’t be ever be faced with what’s happening in New York. And uh… we’re doing an incredible job in New York.”
- QUESTION: Mr. President, let’s talk about easter again. What the fuck?
- TRUMP: “We’ll be looking at lots of things. I’ll be guided by Dr. Fauci and DEBORAH,”
- QUESTION: Dr. Fauci, please tell us… what the fuck?
- DR. FAUCI: This is flexible. We will be evaluating this on a day to day basis. Obviously no one wants to tone down what’s happening in New York City. But we need to know more about what’s happening in the rest of the country. It’s a big country. Some areas might be less affected than others. What we don’t have right now is enough data to know what will be needed.
- QUESTION: Is New York the epicenter?
- TRUMP: It’s what you might call HOT.
- And then he starts bragging about our test numbers again.
- QUESTION: When you talk about what areas to open up… we need to cover this again, what the fuck? Where?!?
- TRUMP: “Farms… Texas. Parts of Texas.”
- REPORTERS YELLING QUESTIONS: did you give New York a heads up about all this isolation stuff? Do you think it’s wise to pack churches on easter?
- Trump walks off stage and leaves.
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