Friday, August 7, 2020

1600 Daily The White House • August 5, 2020 President Trump meets with Governor of Arizona


1600 Daily
The White House • August 5, 2020

President Trump meets with Governor of Arizona

Five weeks ago, President Trump sent Vice President Pence to Arizona when the state’s Coronavirus cases began to rise. “We’re going to make sure you have what you need, when you need it, to meet this moment,” the Vice President said in Phoenix.
That same week, Arizona began modeling a path forward. President Trump soon visited the state, sent his top healthcare team—including Dr. Deborah Birx—to meet with local hospital leaders, and made sure personal protective equipment and therapeutic treatments were delivered quickly to the Arizonans who needed them.
🎬 Dr. Birx: How Arizona stayed open while saving lives
“The best path forward is an aggressive strategy focused on protecting Americans at highest risk,” President Trump said at a White House Coronavirus briefing this week.
By instituting the President’s strategy, Arizona began to flatten its curve. Most important, it did so without crippling its economy through mass lockdowns: Full retail is open, indoor dining is at 50 percent capacity, and places of worship remain open.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey met with President Trump in the Oval Office today, where he thanked the Administration for its efforts to help the state manage its outbreak.
“We sat down with Dr. Birx and the Coronavirus task force and talked about mitigation steps,” Gov. Ducey said. “Upon putting those steps out there, we've seen improvement every week, week-over-week, for four weeks.”
In addition to surging testing supplies, the Trump Administration has so far delivered more than 1.9 million N-95 masks, 12.1 million surgical masks, 5.8 million surgical gowns, and 380 million medical gloves to help the people of Arizona beat Coronavirus.
President Trump and his team are now taking “the Arizona model” throughout the south, and the Administration will continue this path forward across the Midwest.
The bottom line: With the right approach, your state can safely remain open while reducing COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.
🎬 President Trump: We have worked closely with Arizona
Get the factsAmerica built the best COVID testing system in the world

Video of the Day: President Trump signs historic conservation law! 

President Trump signed the Great American Outdoors Act into law yesterday, marking the most significant conservation achievement since the presidency of Teddy Roosevelt.
“The United States has among the cleanest air and water on Earth, and my administration is working every day to keep it that way,” President Trump said. “We are proving that we can protect our treasured environment without bludgeoning our workers and crushing our businesses.”   

Photo of the Day

President Trump meets with Arizona Governor Doug Ducey in the Oval Office | August 5, 2020



Office of the Press Secretary

Oval Office
3:16 P.M. EDT
     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, thank you very much.  It's an honor to be with the governor of a fabulous state, Arizona.  It's Doug Ducey, and we know him well.  And we've had a tremendous relationship.  He had a tremendous, big, very big election victory.  And he has done an incredible job on COVID, or COVID-19, or about 19 other names we can call it.  It’s got probably more names than anything else you can think of.  And he was hit very hard, and he's -- and he hit back even harder.
     And I'd like to have Doug explain it a little bit.  And you -- perhaps you both want to explain it, but you've done a fantastic job.  We're very proud of you.  We love the people of Arizona, and they are very proud of the job you've done also, Doug. 
     So maybe you can -- and this is some of the things that we’ve provided, which is a lot.  When Doug would call, I’d take his call, and he was always asking for a lot for Arizona, and that's the way a good governor should be. 
     So, Doug, please.
     GOVERNOR DUCEY:  Well, I want to say thank you, Mr. President.  This has really been a partnership between Arizona and your administration.  I want to thank Dr. Deborah Birx, who actually came to Arizona and sat with leaders.  The -- the COVID-19 crisis didn't hit Arizona until later.
     THE PRESIDENT:  Right.
     GOVERNOR DUCEY:  We had a very difficult June.  We've had a much better July.  We sat down with Dr. Birx and the Coronavirus Task Force and talked about mitigation steps -- things like wearing masks.  And we've got masks in over 90 percent of our states right now.  And then the simple things like physical distancing --
     THE PRESIDENT:  Right.
     GOVERNOR DUCEY:  -- washing your hands, staying home if you're sick. 
     And we did take some further steps.  We were in the unhappy but responsible position of dispersing large crowds.  So bars and nightclubs and gyms all closed temporarily.  But upon putting those steps out there, we've seen improvement every week, week over week, for four weeks. 
     We're going to keep our guard up.  We're going to stay vigilant, but there's a real path forward and a commonsense approach that we can apply in Arizona not only around saving lives, but also safely and successfully getting our kids back to school at the appropriate time.
     THE PRESIDENT:  And what are you down -- because the percentage down is incredible.  What -- how much did you go down, percentage-wise?
     GOVERNOR DUCEY:  Well, we saw our positivity get as high as 21. 
     THE PRESIDENT:  Right.
     GOVERNOR DUCEY:  Now, upon reopening -- and we were part of the White House “Slow the Spread” --
     THE PRESIDENT:  Right.
     GOVERNOR DUCEY:  -- for four weeks.  We extended it for two more weeks.  We had our positivity as low as 4 percent.  Just yesterday, it was 10 percent.  The week before, it was 11.  So it’s on a downward trajectory. 
     THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah.  Right.  Right.
     GOVERNOR DUCEY:  And I think with the steps that we’re having, the good decisions that Arizonans are making -- the face -- the face masks and physical distancing, and the fact that people are embracing it. 
     And I also want to say, our private sector folks have been terrific. 
     THE PRESIDENT:  That’s great.
     GOVERNOR DUCEY:  All of the businesses -- if you want to participate in any good or service in Arizona, you’re going to wear a mask before you go in there, and that’s been a positive. 
     THE PRESIDENT:  That’s really great.  Great job. 
     Deborah, you said something really great about Arizona before.  What would it be?
     DR. BIRX:  Yeah.  I said they just really did a great job putting these pieces together and really creating that path forward. 
     Arizona was the first state -- obviously, we’ve been writing your governors report for six weeks.  We went to Arizona.  We had a model that showed if you did these five commonsense things, you could drive what we call the “replication rate,” the R1, under one and really decrease cases, hospitalizations, and critically, mortality.
     Governor Ducey walked that with us, and we’ve demonstrated now that you can keep a state open and retail open if you do these five commonsense pieces.  And it’s created a safe -- saved the hospitals and saved a lot of Arizonans. 
     And we’ve taken that model, sir, all the way across the South and up into Tennessee and Kentucky and Ohio and Indiana.  And we’ll be going to six states in the Heartland next week because we think this is a way to really decrease cases, decrease hospitalizations, decrease mortality while still keeping things safe through this commonsense approach. 
     THE PRESIDENT:  So you’re proud of the governor, you said before. 
     DR. BIRX:  Very proud of the governor.  He was our -- he was willing to be the first example of how to move forward together.
     THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah.  No, you really did.
     GOVERNOR DUCEY:  Well, we listened to your team.  I mean, and Dr. Birx came and spent a lot of time -- drove to Arizona from Texas, through New Mexico; gave me a tutorial on the R0.  I’ve been talking about it in my press conferences.  We’ve been under 1 -- the day we talked about this, and you said this would be the equivalent of a stay-at-home order --
     DR. BIRX:  Yeah.
     GOVERNOR DUCEY:  -- if we were able to wear masks and shut down these large gatherings.  We were at 1.18 on the R0.  We got as low as any state in the country -- 0.9.  It stays --
     THE PRESIDENT:  Right.  It’s amazing. 
     GOVERNOR DUCEY:  -- under 1, to date. 
     So, like I said, no celebration, no victory lap.  We’re going to stay the course and stay vigilant and keep our guard up.  But we have a path forward in Arizona, and we’re going to keep pressing.
     THE PRESIDENT:  And you had a great representative over here, and you taught us a lot.  You really came up with some -- 
     GOVERNOR DUCEY:  I’ve got a great advisor here in Gretchen Conger.  She’s been with us since the first year of the administration, and she sits in on all these meetings.  And, yes, her, along with Dr. Cara Christ and General Mick McGuire have been top-tier, in terms of advising. 
     MS. CONGER:  Thank you, Governor. 
     THE PRESIDENT:  Would you like to say something in front of all of these wonderful people?
     MS. CONGER:  Sure.  Mr. President, I would just like to say that the partnership that we have with your administration is the best that we could ask for.  You always pick up the phone.  What we need, we've gotten -- the remdesivir treatments.  We can't say enough about how grateful we are for everything that you sent.
     THE PRESIDENT:  How is that working, the remdesivir?  How is it going?
     MS. CONGER:  It's working well, thankfully. 
     THE PRESIDENT:  That’s what I'm hearing.
     MS. CONGER:  Yeah.  With the Coronavirus Task Force, you guys have really been able to dig into where they're needed most with the daily reports that we send out.  And so we've been able to really target it to the folks who need it most.
     GOVERNOR DUCEY:  And in addition to the remdesivir, the resources for Navajo Nation and the tribal nations in excess of $1.1 billion, along with the surge testing sites that have happened in Maryvale and South Phoenix --
     THE PRESIDENT:  Right.
     GOVERNOR DUCEY:  -- some of our areas where many of the free- and reduced-lunch kids are, they needed this testing.  Five thousand tests, twelve days in a row with good turnaround time.
     THE PRESIDENT:  That’s fantastic.  Huh?  Wow.  Proud of you.  That's a great -- that's a great success.
     GOVERNOR DUCEY:  More to do, but thank you.
     THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah, more to do, but that’s a really --
     DR. BIRX:  Stay the course.
     GOVERNOR DUCEY:  Yeah, stay the course.
     DR. BIRX:  Keep those cases coming down.
     GOVERNOR DUCEY:  We like the trajectory, and we’re going to keep pressing, Doctor.
     THE PRESIDENT:  Fantas- -- really, a fantastic job in Arizona.  We appreciate it.
     Does anybody have any question for the governor?  And we're going to have a news conference at 5:30, so you can ask a little bit there. 
     Q    Mr. President, in your estimation, is mail-in voting safe in Arizona as it is, as you say, in Florida?
     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I haven’t discussed it with the Governor.  I can tell you: In Florida, they've done a very good job with it.  In Nevada, it would be a disaster.  In New York, it's been a disaster.  In many other places, it's been a total catastrophe. 
     You know what's going on in New York with the Carolyn Maloney.  I think they have to have a new election.  They've -- you have no idea.  That fraud, all sorts of many ballots.  Paterson, New Jersey, I guess it's 25 percent or 20 percent of the vote is tainted.
     You can't have that.  You can't have that.  So it's okay -- absentee voting: Great.  But this mail-in voting where they mail, indiscriminately, millions and millions of ballots to people, you're never going to know who won the election.  You can't have that.
     And Nevada is a big state.  It's an important state.  It's a very political state, and the governor happens to be a Democrat.  And I don't believe the Post Office can be set up.  They were given no notice.  I mean, you're talking about millions of votes.  No, it'll be a -- it's a catastrophe waiting to happen.
     Again, all you have to do is look at the vote that took place on a simple congressional district, in an area that should be able to do it very easily, in Manhattan.  It's a total -- it's a total -- what's happened, it's a nightmare.  Nobody has ever seen anything like it.
     Look at Paterson, New Jersey, and look at other locations.  We can't have that.  You'll never know who the winner is, but the winner is going to be me.
     So we'll see you at 5:30, and we can talk about it a little bit more. 
     I just want to finish by saying: We're very proud of the Governor and we are very proud of Arizona, because, in addition, the people had to help you, and they did.  They’re really great people.
     GOVERNOR DUCEY:  They did.
     Q    I have a question for Governor Ducey.  Governor Ducey, you vote mostly by mail in your state.  Are you proud of your mail-in system in the state?
     GOVERNOR DUCEY:  In Arizona, we're going to do it right.  It will be free and fair.  It will be difficult, if not impossible, to cheat.  And it will be easy to vote.  Seventy-eight percent of the citizens already vote by mail in Arizona.  But we've been doing this since 1992.  So over the course of decades, we've established a system that works and can be trusted.  We're 90 days before the election.
     In Arizona, early ballots are going to be mailed in 60 days.  This is no time to experiment.  This is a time to go with the tried and true, and in Arizona, our system works very well.
     Q    Are you sharing with the President what are some of the best practices in your state so that he can apply to -- he can look at it in terms of other states?
     GOVERNOR DUCEY:  Well, our state has been a model for this type of voting, for providing options and choice to our citizens.  We're not going to disenfranchise anyone.  We've actually allocated an additional $9 million to make certain that Election Day voters can go safely in proper sanitized places that are well staffed on Election Day.  We want to make sure that everyone that wants to vote can vote, and they will in Arizona.
     THE PRESIDENT:  And don't forget, if you look at what they're doing in Nevada: no signature.  You take a look at the signature, and there's no verification of signature allowed.  I don't know if you do that --
     GOVERNOR DUCEY:  We do.
     THE PRESIDENT:  -- but there's no verification of signatures.  So they don't even know who's going to sign this.  They have literally a clause that you don't have to verify the signatures -- that they don't have to do it. 
     So right there, it's no good; it's defective.  Two -- two votes in an envelope -- in a single envelope.  It -- this is a thing that will be a disaster like never before.  So we'll see what the court has to say about it. 
     Arizona has been doing this for a long time, and it's been refined.  Even if -- if Nevada wanted to do it well, they wouldn't have enough time.  I'm sure the Post Office doesn’t have enough time.  Millions of ballots, all of a sudden, coming out of nowhere.  You know, voting starts in a very short period of time.
     So, in Florida, they've done a good job.  In Arizona, they've done a good job, but they've been doing this thing and refining it for years.  This is something that's put in -- but think of this: no verification of the signature.  Well, who's going to sign it?  They don't even verify who's going to sign it. 
     So it's -- I'm sure the courts will treat it very fairly.  Let's see what happens.  Thank you all very much.  I’ll see you in a little while.
     Q    Mr. President, if governors delay school --
     THE PRESIDENT:  I’ll see you later.  I’ll be talking 5:30.  Thank you.  Thank you very much.
                              END            3:28 P.M. EDT



Office of the Press Secretary
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
6:07 P.M. EDT
     THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everybody.  Thank you very much.  Let me begin by sending America's deepest sympathies to the people of Lebanon, where reports indicate that many, many people were killed, hundreds more were very badly wounded in a large explosion in Beirut.  Our prayers go out to all the victims and their families.  The United States stands ready to assist Lebanon.  I have a very good relationship with the people of Lebanon, and we will be there to help.  It looks like a terrible attack.
     I also want to provide the latest on Tropical Storm Isaias.  Approximately 600,000 are without power along the East Coast, and utility companies are working around the clock to restore service as quickly as possible.  I spoke to Governor Cooper, I spoke to Governor DeSantis, and I spoke to all of the people at FEMA, and they're working very hard.
     Coastal areas in the storm's path can expect to see the storm surge and rip currents, while inland areas could see flooding and very, very high winds.  FEMA is responding to states that have requested the assistance.  We have a list of those states; we can give them to you in a little while.  And my administration is monitoring the situation very closely.
     We have the military on guard, but we have -- FEMA is there, in all cases.  The Corps of Engineers is ready if needed -- the Army Corps of Engineers.  Very talented people.  I urge everyone in the storm's path to remain alert and to follow the guidance of your state and local authorities.
     I now want to update you on the path forward, having to do with the China virus.  Before I do that, I want to give you some numbers, which are rather spectacular, that just came out.  The manufacturing index of the Institute for Supply Management -- that's “ISM”; most of you know it by “ISM” -- increased for the third month in a row, rising nearly 2 points in July to 54.2 -- that’s fantastic -- the highest reading since March of 2019. 
     This is remarkable, considering the survey was conducted throughout July and showed significant improvement despite the Southwest, in particular, virus hotspots.  The ISM measures -- and it's a very strong measure of new orders.  It rose 5 points in July, to 61.5, in its highest rating, that would be, since September of 2018.  That's a big number. 
     Since the April low, new orders are up over 34 points, which is the largest increase in the history of the ISM, dating back all the way to 1948.  So, 34 points -- that's the largest since 1948. 
     Similarly, the ISM’s measure of production is up 35 points from its April low to a reading of 62.1, which is the largest 3-month gain in over 70 years.  That’s some -- some number. 
These were somewhat surprising, but I've been saying we're doing well, and those numbers are really spectacular. 
     Automobile sales, likewise, are a key factor in the resurgence of manufacturing since the March low of 8.8 million units with sales and all of the numbers that are going up, stunningly.  It's a 65 percent increase since then, to 14.5 million units, which is a -- a massive number. 
     The great strength and great news is really for states like -- in particular, Michigan; and Ohio; South Carolina; Pennsylvania, very good; Florida, little bit.  These are great numbers.  Record-setting numbers. 
     The strength in new car sales is also evident in the used car market, where soaring demand -- literally, soaring demand -- is putting upward pressure on the used car prices.  This is a leading indicator of the motor vehicle industry.  The need to restock depleted shelves will further galvanize the factory sector -- and, we think, very substantially, based on the numbers.  We're very, very happy with these numbers.  And I think most people are anywhere from surprised to shocked by these numbers, in a very positive way.
     Economy-wide inventories crashed at a near $320 billion annualized rate last quarter.  A crash, in that case, means a good thing, not a bad thing.  That's the largest drop ever on record -- ever. 
     Homebuilder sentiment, likewise, is soaring, as our home sales sentiment is now higher than last year.  And new homes recently made a 13-year high.  So we have a 13-year high in new home -- new home construction. 
     New business applications are very strong.  That just came out.  The widely followed Atlanta Fed GDP -- and it's something that they have just come out with -- now forecasts the new data point and incorporates it into quarterly estimates.  It looks like it's showing a 20 percent annualized growth in the current quarter.  So 20 percent in the current quarter; we'll take that all day long.  I -- let's see if that's right.  That's a projection.  So we'll see if that's right.  The Atlanta Fed -- very respected. 
     The virus -- back to that -- we are continuing to monitor and monitor, in particular, hotspots across the South, Southwest, and the West.  And we’re seeing indications that our strong mitigation efforts are working very well, actually, especially to protect those who are most at risk, which has really been our primary focus for -- ever since we’ve gotten to understand this horrible, horrible plague that’s been unleashed on our country by China.
     As of yesterday, cases are declining in 70 percent of the jurisdictions, compared to 36 percent last Monday.  That’s a big, big number.  Eleven out of thirteen states with the positive rate above 10 percent have seen a decline in daily cases since mid-July.  In other states, the data suggests that the need for continuing vigilance always is strong, even though the numbers are getting very good -- states that have a test positivity rate between 5 and 10 percent.  And in the states with the lowest positivity rates, we also see slight increases in daily cases in a couple of them. 
     We must ensure that these states do not become new flare-ups, so we're watching them very, very closely.  Fortunately, thanks to substantial improvements in treatment and the knowledge we have gained about the disease itself, the recent rise in cases has not been accompanied by a significant increase in deaths.
     Fatalities nationwide are at roughly half the level of the April peak.  So the death -- the number of deaths or fatalities are at half the level.  One is too much -- one death -- because this should have never happened to us.  It should have been stopped at -- very easily, by China, in Wuhan.  
     Thanks to our major advances in treatment, we've seen vast improvements in recovery rates across all age groups.  Compared to April, mortality rates are 85 percent lower among individuals aged 18 to 69, and 70 percent lower among individuals over 70 years old.
     We've also made significant strides in sheltering those at highest risk, especially the elderly.  Approximately 85 percent of all current cases are individuals under the age of 65 -- just getting some very accurate numbers on this.  And these are people who are generally at a much lower risk of complications.
     Since the pandemic began, nearly half of all fatalities have been at nursing homes or assisted-living centers.  That’s an incredible statistic, when you hear that number.  This data, underscores that the best path forward is an aggressive strategy focused on protecting Americans at highest risk.
     As we race toward the development of a vaccine, we must continue to take extraordinary precautions to shield the elderly, and we're doing that.  We’re doing that at a level that we've never even dreamt possible, both with testing and with common sense.  And those with underlining [sic] conditions, especially the elderly with the underlining [sic] -- whether it's heart or diabetes -- they seem to be the two most predominant conditions that cause tremendous problems.  While allowing those at lowest risk to carefully return to work and to school.
     Where embers flare up, we must engage immediately, and that's what we're doing.  This is the science-based approach, and it's good with us.  Working very hard on that.  An extended lockdown would fail to target resources at the highest-risk populations, while inflicting massive economic pain, long-lasting damage on society and public health as a whole. 
     So there won't be lockdowns, but we watch specific areas.  We're very careful and we're putting out embers.  We're putting out flames.  When you look at what's happening with Miami, and it's going -- the numbers are going down.  But Florida is going down very significantly.  Texas and California are going down rather significantly.
     On telemedicine, as we discussed the last time, as -- and as I said numerous times during this day, it's an incredible thing that's happening.  A central part of our effort to protect the elderly is to greatly expand access to telehealth, so seniors can be treated from the safety of their homes.  And that's what's happening.  The number of Medicare beneficiaries using telehealth increased from roughly 14,000 a week to nearly 1.7 million -- so from 14,000 to 1.7 million per week.  In total, 10 million Medicare beneficiaries have accessed telehealth services since the pandemic began.  That's a tremendous thing that's happened with telehealth.
     As we shelter those at high risk, we are also pouring every resource at our disposal into the development of therapies and vaccines.  Two vaccine candidates are currently in the final stage of clinical trials, with several more vaccine candidates entering phase three in the coming weeks.  And you've read and seen what's happened today.  Today's news was very exciting. 
     Through Operation Warp Speed, we're also mass producing all of the most promising vaccine candidates, and we're determined to have a vaccine very quickly.  We think we're going to have something very soon. 
     We have great companies.  These are the -- among the greatest companies in the world.  But right now, they don't like me so much because I'm forcing them to drop drug prices -- prescription drug prices -- very massively.  Some of these companies are involved in that; some of them aren’t.  We're having a tremendous -- you'll see a tremendous drop in price.  We're using favored nations -- we're using the rebates.  We're using everything. 
     For so long, I've heard about how wealthy the middlemen are.  They call them “the middlemen.”  And they are very wealthy.  Nobody even knows who they are, but they're very wealthy people. 
     And we’re doing the rebates.  We’re doing purchases from other countries -- like Canada, which buys drugs for much less money than the United States is allowed to, under a very bad system.  I don't call it “archaic”; I call it “bad” because it's meant, really, for drug companies to get higher prices.
     But under -- under the system of matching that we have, if Germany has a pill for 10 cents and ours is $2, we're allowed to say we want favored nations, and we want the pill for the same -- the same as the lowest country in the world.  If they sell to one country lower than anybody else, that’s the price we’re going to get.  Drug companies aren't too happy about that -- big pharma.
     We've also dramatically accelerated the availability of plasma therapies, steroid treatments, antivirals, and other therapies to treat the illness.  Today, the NIH -- we're -- very exciting -- announced that they’re beginning the trial of two new antibody treatments, which will take place in 40 cities across the country.  We're going to move -- move very quickly.  Results look very good already.  Incredible results. 
     More than 230 clinical trials for potential treatments are underway, and we've secured 500,000 courses of treatment for remdesivir -- of remdesivir.  We’re really doing a job with it, and it's helping a lot of people.  That's why you see the fatalities and mortality numbers looking very good -- relatively speaking, that is.  But that's for American hospitals through the month of September.  So we have remdesivir at a very high level for hospitals through the month of September.  That's big news.
     The United States also has far and away the most robust testing capacity in the world.  Testing has been incredible, what we've been able to do.  Nobody is even close.  Since March 12th, we've increased daily testing by 32,000 percent.  How's that?  Thirty-two thousand percent.  Somebody would say, “That must be a typo.”  It's not a typo.  Thirty-two thousand percent. 
     We now have conducted over 61 million tests nationwide, averaging over 820,000 tests per day and nearly 5 million tests per week.  And now that we're understanding the virus, we're understanding very much what we're doing with respect to who it affects, who it's destroying, and who gets away with it -- like young people, very young people.  We’ll be having some interesting statements having to do a testing and focus testing.  I call it “focus testing.”
     By comparison, Mexico -- so we're doing numbers that are incredible.  But by comparison, Mexico -- as you know, the President was here; he’s a great guy -- but their -- their numbers are much different.  They do about 1 million tests.  France has done 2.9 million tests.  Canada is around the 4 million mark.  Australia is around the 4 million mark.  The United States is testing more people in a single week than, in many cases, large segments or large, well-known countries all put together.  It's been an amazing achievement: the testing and the quality of the testing also.  And now we're doing testing where you can have results in 5 minutes, in 7 minutes, and 15 minutes, as opposed to waiting to come back from labs -- for it to come back from labs.
     Over the last several weeks, HHS has opened surging testing sites in Baton Rouge; New Orleans; Phoenix; Miami; Jacksonville, Florida; McAllen, Texas; Bakersfield, California.  And this week, we're opening new surge sites in Houston, Texas; Atlanta.  To date, more than 130,000 tests have been conducted at these sites. 
     Last week, the FDA also authorized the first two tests that display an estimated quantity of antibodies present in the individual's blood, which is a big deal, allowing us to learn more about the immune response. 
     FEMA and HHS has worked with the private sector to deliver more than -- we have new numbers -- more than 200 million N95 masks, 855 million surgical masks, 36 million goggles and face shields, 364 million gowns and coveralls, and 21 billion gloves -- billion.  Can you believe that?  Billion gloves.
     And we distribute that to the governors, different states.  And when we get on the phone with them, they're very happy, that I can tell you.  No -- no complaints from any of them.  They're very, very happy.  What they say to you separately maybe will change for political reasons, but they are very happy with the job we've done.
     In our National Stockpile, we've tripled the number of N95 masks on hand to more than 40 million; tripled the number of gowns to 15 million; and quadrupled the number of ventilators to nearly 70,000.  These numbers are growing every day, and we're now making thousands of ventilators -- many thousands of ventilators a month.  And we're getting them to other countries who are desperately in need of ventilators.  They're very hard to produce.  They’re very complicated machines.  So we're -- we're fully stocked here, and we've made sure that every state is fully stocked, but we're getting them to a lot of countries that need help.
     We'll continue to work with the governors and local authorities to help them ensure significant hospital capacity, protective equipment, supplies, and medicine.  I'm more confident than ever that we will get a vaccine very soon and we will defeat the virus. 
     And I want to thank you all for being here.  We'll take a few questions.
     Yeah, please.
     Q    Mr. President, I wanted to ask you about Kodak.  You had a big announcement the other day about getting Kodak into the pharmaceutical business, but the SEC is now investigating what happened.  Can you say a word or two whether you think that there might have been some kind of a problem in terms of how those arrangements were made?  Is there any grounds for concern, from your perspective?
     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I don't know.  I wasn't involved in the deal.  The concept of the deal is good, but I'll let you know.  We'll -- we'll do a little study on that, and we'll find out.
     Q    Okay.  And --
     THE PRESIDENT:  If there's -- if there is any problem, we'll let you know about it very quickly, but I wasn’t involved in it. 
     It's a big deal.  It's a way of bringing back a great area, too, in addition to the pharmaceuticals.  Kodak has been a great name, but obviously pretty much in a different business. And so we'll see what that's all about, but we'll -- we'll let you know very quickly. 
     Yeah, please.
     Q    I just wanted to follow up, before I ask a coronavirus question, on Lebanon.  You called this an “attack.”  Are you confident that this was an attack and not an accident?
     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, it would seem like it, based on the explosion.  I've met with some of our great generals, and they just seem to feel that it was.  This was not a -- some kind of a manufacturing explosion type of event.  This was a -- seems to be, according to them -- they would know better than I would, but they seem to think it was a attack.  It was a bomb of some kind.  Yes.
     Q    Interesting.  And, on coronavirus, you've talked a lot about -- when you talk about the mortality rate, the deaths as a proportion of cases, which -- I understand that is significant when you look at how deadly the virus is or how good a country does at keeping people alive --
     THE PRESIDENT:  Right.
     Q    -- who get infected.  But when you're talking about the scope of this virus, when you look at the percentage of the population that's died, there's only three countries that have more deaths than the U.S.  So how do you explain that: that -- why the percentage of the population who has died is so much higher in the U.S.?
     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I think, actually, the numbers are lower than others.  I'll get back to you on that.  But we, proportionately, are lower than almost all countries.  We're at the bottom of the list. 
     And we're -- relative to cases, also, we're at the bottom of the list, which is a good thing, being at the bottom of the list.  But I can get back to you.  We have about four or five different lists on that.  And we're, generally speaking, at the very bottom of the list.  So, I'll get back to you.
     Q    Because when I -- when I look at the Johns Hopkins, you know, Coronavirus Resource Center on their website, it says the most affected countries, when you look at deaths per 100,000 people of the population -- so how many people in the population have died -- you have the UK, Peru, Chile, and then the U.S.
     You know, Canada has 8,000, 9,000 deaths.  Obviously, they're smaller than us, but that's only 6 percent of the population.  You know, that's 6 percent of our total cases.  So why are the deaths so much higher in the U.S.?
     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, a lot of our numbers were based on the -- New York had a very tough time, as you know.  New York, New Jersey -- that area.  And when you take them out -- just as an example, take a look at Florida, relative to New York. 
     That's not to say anything wrong with New York.  It was just a very tough place.  People are close together.  It's crowded.  It's -- it's not easy. 
     But when you take that out, our numbers are among the lowest.  And even with it in -- I will get back to you, but we have among the lowest numbers.  They've done a fantastic job on it.
     Yeah, please.  Go ahead.
     Q    Yes, Mr. President.  I would like to ask a question about the election, but one thing on unemployment first.  Are you considering taking executive action to extend or, rather, reinstate the unemployment benefits that expired last week, if Congress can't get a deal by the end of the week?
     Q    And, as a general point, what rate, then, would you want in there -- a percentage or a flat rate?
     THE PRESIDENT:  We are looking at it.  We're also looking at various other things that I'm allowed to do under the system, and -- such as the payroll tax suspension.  And so we're allowed to do things.
     We're talking with the Democrats.  They seem to be much more interested in solving the problems of some of the Democrat-run states and cities that have suffered greatly through bad management.  I mean, really bad management.  So, that seems to be where they -- they're looking for a trillion dollars to help out with cities that are run by Democrats -- in some cases, radical-left Democrats that have not done a good job.
     I appreciate -- today, the Wall Street Journal said very good things -- that we did a great job in Portland by having our people go in.  Homeland Security, Chad Wolf, and the folks -- we went into Portland, and we've done a great job.  And they had that in an editorial, that we -- that we really won that situation. 
     But we want the whole -- we did save the courthouse.  The courthouse was going to be burned down or knocked down.  It was in tremendous danger.  We went in.  We took care of it.  And we appreciated what the Wall Street Journal said.
     As far as the various things that I may or may not sign: I may not have to sign.  I mean, progress is being made, as you know very well, on the Hill.  We'll see what happens.  But I have the right -- including the payroll tax suspension.  We may do some things. 
     We want to take care of the eviction problem. People are being evicted very unfairly.  It's not their fault.  It's China's fault; it's not their fault.  And people are being evicted, and we can do that with an executive order.  So if we don't get -- and we want to do it relatively quickly.
     I mean, even from the standpoint of COVID, people get evicted, and then they go into shelters, and there are thousands of people in the shelters.  And this is not a time -- you never want to be in a shelter, but this is not a time to be in a shelter with the COVID.  They catch it, they get it, and it's no good.
     So, I may have to do something on evictions, too, because the Democrats, amazingly, don't want to do it.  We offered them short-term deals, and we offered them lots of alternatives.  But so far, the only thing they really want to do is bail out states that have been poorly managed by Democrats. 
     Okay.  Please, go ahead.
     Q    And if I could, on the election, sir -- can I --
     Q    President Trump, on the sale of TikTok, you're basically arguing that the U.S. government is going to collect a cut from a -- of a transaction including two companies, in which it doesn’t hold a stake in. 
     That’s unprecedented.  That's never happened in U.S. history before, and the administration has offered very little explanation about how that’s going to work.  Can you back your statement up and provide specifics about how that would work?
     THE PRESIDENT:  Did you say, "That’s impressive"?  Did you actually use that term?
     Q    I said it's "unprecedented."
     THE PRESIDENT:  Oh, unpre- -- well, it's almost the same thing.  Not quite.  I like “im-“ -- (laughter) -- I like “impressive.”  I like “impressive” much better.  Not quite, but close.
     So, TikTok -- TikTok is very successful.  It does tremendous business in the United States.  People are riveted by it.  I mean, I have many friends -- when they saw that announcement, they're calling.  And I think their kids love it; they don't.  Because they don't get to see their kids anymore, but they are -- it's an amazing thing, whatever it may be. 
     And I told Microsoft -- and, frankly, others -- if they want to do it, if they make a deal for TikTok -- whether it's the 30 percent in the United States or the whole company, I say, "It's okay.  But if you do that, we're really making it possible because we're letting you operate here.”
     So the United States Treasury would have to benefit also, not just the -- not just the sellers.  And I said, “Inform…” --
     Q    (Inaudible) through a tax, or how?
     THE PRESIDENT:  Very simple.  I mean we have -- we have all the cards because, without us, you can't come into the United States.  It's like if you're a landlord, and you have a tenant.  The tenant’s business needs a rent; it needs a lease.  And so what I said to them is, “Whatever the price is, a very big proportion of that price would have to go to the Treasury of the United States.” 
     And they understood that.  And actually, they agreed with me.  I mean, I think they agreed with me very much.
     Yeah, please.  In the back. 
     Q    Thank -- thank you, sir.
     THE PRESIDENT:  So that deal may or may not happen.  We've give- -- given them until September 15th or so, and we'll see. 
     If we can have it and there can be great security -- meaning, the obvious security -- Microsoft would be a company that would be good in that respect.  They’re approved in that respect at many levels, including working with the Department of Defense.  And, you know, they're very high-level approvals.  So it would be good, but there are other companies also.
     Yes, please.
     Q    Thank you, sir.  Have you or the -- anyone in the administration reached out to other companies, aside from Microsoft, to see if they're interested in --
     THE PRESIDENT:  No, we've had other companies call us, and Microsoft called me directly.  And we've had other companies call.  I don't know where they are.  It sounds like Microsoft is along the way of doing something.  I don't blame them.  It'd be -- you know, it’s great company.  It's really a great company.
     But we cannot take the security risks of any of those companies -- including Huawei, which as you know, we put a halt to.  But we can't take the security risk. 
     I think our attitude on China has changed greatly since the China virus hit us.  I think it changed greatly.  It hit the world, and it shouldn't have.  They should have been able to stop it.  So, we feel differently.  I just don't know.  When you lose --
     Q    Can you say what other companies?
     THE PRESIDENT:  -- when you lose so many thousands of people, and -- you know, ultimately, it'll be millions of people around the world.  It’s a terrible thing that happened to the United States and Europe and the entire world.  Really a terrible thing.
     Yes, please. Go ahead.
     Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  I have two quick questions: one on the virus and one on policing.  On the virus, you said recently that there can be “too much testing.”  Can you explain what the downside would be from testing too many Americans for the virus, and why you haven't provided a date by which all Americans might have the same kind of testing that we have here at the White House?
     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, we do more testing than anybody in the world, as I explained -- and I don't mean just a little bit.  If you look at India, they're at about 11 million, and we're at 61 million.  And there comes a point when you just -- you want to focus your testing in a different way.  And we'll be announcing some -- what we've done is incredible with the testing.  Not only the testing --
     Q    Is there a downside though?
     THE PRESIDENT:  -- not only the number of tests, but also, very importantly, the quality of the test and the machinery itself to do the testing. 
     Nobody thought it would be possible to get a 5-minute and a 15-minute result that's a very accurate result, and we do, with Abbott.  Abbott Laboratories has done a great job.  Many of these companies have done an incredible job. 
     So we're looking at that very strongly.  And we're looking at doing something that if we do -- if we do it -- look, right now, what the testing is doing is helpful, but we're spending massive amounts of money, and we want to have it -- we want to have it channeled very accurately.  We want to be able to help the most people we can. 
     But we are testing at a level that no country in the world -- and I've spoken to the leaders of the world, and they'll ask me about it -- no country in the world thought it would be -- it's even believable that we're able to test so much.  Sixty-one million versus -- you know, most countries don't even test.  You know when they test?  When somebody is feeling badly.  If somebody is feeling badly, they're symptomatic, that's when they test.  And that's a big difference. 
     With us, we go around and -- looking, because if we find -- we find spots.  We find hotspots.  One problem is, from the standpoint of the media, we end up with far more cases than we would normally show.  So it's -- you know, as I called it the other day in a statement, I said it’s called “media gold.”  You know, for the media, it’s gold.
     But the truth is, it's -- we've done an incredible job on testing.  Nobody in the world has done the job.  Other leaders have told me the same thing, they can't believe we're able to do it. 
     Q    (Inaudible.)
     THE PRESIDENT:  And -- and we will continue, but we want to really be able to test, very specifically, the people that are in most danger, most in need.
     All right.  Please, go ahead.
     Q    And, on policing, sir --
     Q    Thank you.  Thank you, Mr. President.  I wanted to ask you first about what you tweeted out earlier today, in regards to Florida, and your comfortableness, as it relates to mail-in ballots --
     THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah.
     Q    -- for Florida.  What --
     THE PRESIDENT:  Okay, I’m glad you’re asking. 
     Q    Why does that apply to Florida and it doesn't apply to mail-in balloting across the country?
     THE PRESIDENT:  So Florida has got a great Republican governor, and it had a great Republican governor.  It’s got Ron DeSantis, Rick Scott -- two great governors.  And over a long period of time, they've been able to get the absentee ballots done extremely professionally.  Florida is different from other states. 
     I mean, in Nevada, where you have a governor -- he said, “Let's just send out millions of ballots,” and the Post Office cannot be prepared; I haven't spoken to the Post Office about it, but I don't know how they could possibly be prepared. 
     Florida has been working on this for years.  And they have a very good system of mail-in -- and that would be absentee or even beyond absentee.  So, in the case of Florida, there aren't too many people that would qualify. 
     They're so well-run.  Florida is a very well-run state: low taxes, low everything.  They've done a great job, really a great job.  And the two governors, between the both of them, they've really got a great system of absentee ballots and even the -- even in the case of mail-in ballots, the postal services have built up their -- you know, it takes a long time. 
     When you look at the Carolyn Maloney election, I think they -- and I’ll give you the story: I think you have to do that election over.  That election is no good.  You have to take a look. 
     In New York, they have thousands of ballots.  They don’t know what happened to them.  Is there fraud?  Is there -- it's a disaster.  And that’s only for a relatively small number of ballots.  But I think they have to do the election in New York over. 
     The Times wrote a big story about it yesterday.  Front page story.  It's a disaster.  It's a mess.  And they have to do that -- I think they have to do that election over.  Nobody can know what the election result is. 
     So, in the case of Florida, they've done a great job and they've had tremendous success with it.  But they've been doing this over many years, and they've made it really terrific. 
     So, for Florida, you can mail in your ballots.  You don’t have to go.  In maybe a couple of other states, they've worked out a system, but this took years to do.  This doesn’t take weeks or months. 
     In the case of Nevada, they're going to be voting in a matter of weeks.  And you can't do that.  I can't imagine the Post Office could do it.  All of sudden, they're supposed to be dealing in millions of ballots? 
     But Florida has done a great job, and we have total confidence that if you mail in your ballot in Florida, it's going to matter.
     Thank you all very much.  Thank you.  Thank you very much.
                        END                6:40 P.M EDT



Office of the Press Secretary
Oval Office
4:37 P.M. EDT
     THE PRESIDENT:  So thank you very much everybody.  This is very special.  Charles Q. -- I like that -- Q. Brown, Jr.  And you family is very proud of you.  Your wife is very proud, your sons are very proud, and I’m very proud.  And I’m proud to have you in the Oval Office.  This was going to be in a different location, and there’s only one Oval Office.  I said, “This is the big leagues, and we have to have you and your family over to celebrate.”  This is an incredible occasion.
     There’s only one thing I worry about: Charles was confirmed 98 to nothing.  That makes me a little bit concerned, right?  Ninety-eight -- (laughter).  I’ve never heard -- I’ve never heard that before.  You understand what that means: 98 to nothing.  So that’s an achievement.
     But you have had an incredible career, and this is a capper, and I just want to congratulate you.  And it’s an honor to have you in this very fabled office and to have you in the White House.  And thank you very much for being here, and congratulations to you and your family on a job well done.
     GENERAL BROWN:  Thank you, Mr. President.  My pleasure.
     THE PRESIDENT:  Fantastic job.  Thank you.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)
     First of all, would you like to say something, Charles?
     GENERAL BROWN:  Well, first of all, I appreciate the honor to be back in the Oval Office.  It was back on January 15th -- I remember it well --
     THE PRESIDENT:  Right.  Right.
     GENERAL BROWN:  -- when I came here for my interview.  And I appreciate the trust and confidence from you, the Vice President, Secretary Esper, and Secretary Barrett, General Goldfein, and the rest of the Air Force leadership.
     It is a distinct honor for me to have this opportunity.  And so I feel very honored and blessed.  And I enjoy serving.  So I really thank my family because they get a vote --
     THE PRESIDENT:  It’s a great family.
     GENERAL BROWN:  -- on this, and my parents and my sister, in-laws, brother-in-law, and those that aren’t here today for all they’ve done to help me be who I am.
     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, you know, this is your last chance to get out of it, okay?  (Laughter.)  Because in another minute, that won’t happen, right?  This is it.  Okay.
     Well, you’re a great gentleman, a great man, and congratulations.  And to you family: It’s an amazing achievement.  Amazing achievement.  Thank you very much.
     Please, Mike.
     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  I’ll administer the Oath of Office.  General, place your left hand on the Bible, raise your right hand, and repeat after me.
     (The Vice President administers the oath.)
     Congratulations, General.  (Applause.)
     THE PRESIDENT:  Fantastic.  Thank you very much.
     Secretary of Defense, maybe you’d like to say something, please?  You know each other very well. 
     SECRETARY ESPER:  Yes, sir.  I -- Mr. President, this is a -- a historic day.  I'm so pleased to have General Brown selected for Chief of Staff of the Air Force.  Thank you, Mr. President.  A great choice.  And I know he's going to lead our Air Force well into the -- into the next century and beyond. 
     And so we’re very excited for him and his family.  It’s a long road to get -- to get to four stars, and he's done exceptionally well.  And I know we’re all excited about him coming upon. 
     He's pick- -- picking up the torch from another great leader, General Goldfein -- there you are.  Thank you, sir.  You give up the helm here in two days, and you’ve done a great job yourself.  And we -- we wish you and your family (inaudible). (Applause.)
     THE PRESIDENT:  (Inaudible.)
     GENERAL GOLDFEIN:  Well, sir, today is a little bit of a bookend for us -- 
     GENERAL GOLDFEIN:  -- because we started this journey with my best friend and my high school sweetheart, and I get to hand over the service to one of my other best friends, C.Q. Brown.
     THE PRESIDENT:  Isn’t that great.  Beautiful.  That’s very nice.  Thank you.  And you have done a fantastic job.  Thank you very much.
     GENERAL GOLDFEIN:  Thank you, sir.
     THE PRESIDENT:   Appreciate it.  (Applause.)
     Good luck.  Go out there, and do it.  Greatest country in the world.  And you have all those brand-new F-35s; you have all that.  (Laughter.)  And you have equipment like you didn’t have two or three years ago, I can tell you. 
     MS. BROWN:  Thank you.
     GENERAL BROWN:  Thank you, Mr. President.
     THE PRESIDENT: Congratulations, everybody.  (Applause.)
END                 4:43 P.M. EDT

1600 Daily The White House • August 4, 2020 ‘From Yellowstone to Yosemite, National Parks to Get Long-Awaited Overhaul’


1600 Daily
The White House • August 4, 2020

‘From Yellowstone to Yosemite, National Parks to Get Long-Awaited Overhaul’

President Trump signed the Great American Outdoors Act this morning—a historic, bipartisan law that marks the largest-ever investment into America’s national parks and public lands. It will also create more than 100,000 infrastructure-related jobs.
🎬 President Trump: We are preserving America’s natural heritage
Americans who have visited our national parks during the Coronavirus pandemic have found them in need of investment. Estimates place the national deferred maintenance backlog across all public lands at approximately $20 billion.
The President’s action today will bring this much-needed maintenance to our public lands, many of which play an important role in our economy. Last year, over 327 million people visited America’s majestic national parks. All told, America’s outdoor recreation economy accounted for more than 2 percent of our GDP—and 5.2 million jobs—in 2017.
The Great American Outdoors Act won the support of more than 850 conservation groups, along with 43 sportsmen and sportswomen groups. It is the single greatest American conservation achievement since the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt.
📖 The Wall Street Journal: National Parks Get Long-Awaited Overhaul
To preserve our parks, the law will provide $900 million each year in permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and will allocate $9.5 billion over 5 years to restore facilities and infrastructure in our national parks and public lands.
“Last night, I added it up: 5 presidents, 9 secretaries of the interior, and 10 secretaries of agriculture have worked on legislation to accomplish fully funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund, or enhancing our nation’s parks by addressing in the backlog,” Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said at the White House today.
“Only one president has gotten that done.”
🎬 WATCH: “Conserving the grandeur and splendor of God’s creation.”
LEARN MORE: Restoring the majesty of America’s public lands

Press Secretary: ‘President Trump is working hard to save your healthcare’

President Trump signed an executive order last night expanding access to telehealth services for millions of Americans—especially those living in rural communities.
“The Trump Administration has cut red tape allowing telehealth services for seniors and for other Americans,” Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said at today’s briefing. “Thirty-five percent of Medicare beneficiaries took advantage of the President’s reform.”
🎬 President Trump: “I’m taking action to ensure telehealth is here to stay”
Last night’s executive order also calls for more investments into Rural America’s communications infrastructure to better support telehealth. As a result, more Americans would have access to the kind of affordable, personalized care that puts the patient in control rather than the federal government.
“Democrats seek to deny Americans their healthcare freedom, but President Trump is working hard to save your healthcare,” McEnany said.
These telehealth expansions build on the work the Trump Administration has done during the pandemic to more than double the number of allowable telehealth services.
“We worked with the leaders of major health insurance companies to ensure coverage for the telehealth visits related to Coronavirus. We cut red tape to allow many services to be conducted by phone, rather than video, which is much simpler, providing a much easier option for many seniors in particular,” President Trump said.
“We allocated nearly $165 million through the CARES Act to support nearly 1,800 small rural hospitals who have done an incredible job, as well as $11.5 million to expand technical assistance for rural and underserved areas.”
WATCH: More than 135 new services available through telehealth
🎬 Secretary Sonny PerdueRural America needs telehealth

Photo of the Day

President Trump holds the signed Great American Outdoors Act | August 4, 2020