Breakdown: Coronavirus Task Force Briefing April 8, 2020
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Breakdown: Coronavirus Task Force Briefing April 8, 2020

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President Trump and members of his Coronavirus Task Force held a press briefing on the coronavirus at the White House Wednesday evening.

  • President Trump began the daily White House briefing by noting this week is “Holy Week” with the observing of Passover beginning this evening, Good Friday, followed by Easter this Sunday and that Americans should use this time “to pray, to reflect, and to focus on our personal relationship with God.” He added that Americans are “going to have many Easters together in churches in the future.”
  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the State Department has repatriated over 50,000 citizens from more than 90 countries since January 29 amid the coronavirus pandemic. He added that there are still several thousand US citizens in “difficult places” across the world and will continue to work on getting them back to the states “as long as we have resources to do it and there is a need.”
  • Pompeo said that now is “not the time for retribution” against China for withholding critical information on the coronavirus and stressed that every country, including China needs to be transparent and share their data with the world.
  • On World Health Organization funding effort funding for coronavirus resources, Pompeo said the United States will be “reevaluating” funding the organization because it “hasn’t accomplished what it was intended to deliver.”
  • Trump criticized the World Health Organization’s response to coronavirus pandemic, saying the WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is the one politicizing the coronavirus and said he believes the organization favors China. He added that his administration will be doing a “study, an investigation and we’re going to make a determination.”
  • Trump said his administration is working with Philips to “double their production of ventilators by May, and ultimately quadruple production by later this year.”
  • Trump announced that the United States in May will receiving almost 300 million new face masks and might order extra 200 million for the stockpile. He added that 750,000 new protective gowns came in today.
  • Trump said the National Stockpile is now equipped with nearly 30 million hydroxychloroquine pills thanks to India Prime Minister Modi and will be distributing them by the millions. 
  • Trump said Phase Four Stimulus “will be later” after Congress pass additional funding for PPP (Paycheck Protection Program). He urged Congress to provide an additional $250 billion to expand the PPP this week without any “partisan games” and “obstruction or totally unrelated agendas” from the Democrats. 
  • Trump said it will be safe to reopen the country once the U.S. is “on that downside of that slope,” that might be done in phases and he would like the country to be able to “open with a big bang.” He added that he will be holding meeting “fairly soon” with professionals and will “rely very heavily” on his health experts to make the determination.
  • A reporter asked Trump if he ever seen the Netflix show “Tiger King” and if would pardon the star who served a 22-year prison sentence after Donald Trump Jr. jokingly said he would advocate for the pardon. Trump said he would “take a look” and would get back to the reporter with that answer.
  • Birx praised “Americans people’s strength” for sticking to the social distancing measures noting that the widespread behavioral change has resulted in a far lower death forecast that models initially suggested. She said the U.S is doing “much better in many cases than several other countries,” due to Americans “adapting to and following through” on these behavioral changes.
  • Vice President Mike Pence said he was briefed Wednesday that Philadelphia is “an area of particular concern” for the coronavirus outbreak. Dr. Birx added that the Philadelphia metropolitan area is seeing 1,400 cases per day and the Baltimore/Washington, DC, area is seeing a 15% positivity rate with 500 cases per day in DC and 200 cases per day in Baltimore.
  • The President, as of today, has signed 52 major disaster declarations with the state of Vermont being the latest approved.  
  • Fauci says “it is very painful to see” health disparities in the African American community. He called the virus a “double whammy” that preys on people with underlying conditions and it is disproportionately affecting communities of color.
  • Pence announced the White House task force will be meeting Thursday “with leaders in the African-American community” after the CDC released limited data confirming racial disparities in COVID-19 deaths on a national scale.
  • CDC issues new guidelines for essential workers who have been exposed to the coronavirus. Under certain circumstances, essential workers can return back to work if they are asymptomatic, take their temperature before they go to work, wear a face mask at all times, and practice social distancing when they’re at work.
  • Both Fauci and Birx pushed back on conspiracy theories suggesting that coronavirus deaths in the US are being inflated, especially among those dying with existing underlying conditions. Birx said “having an underlying condition and getting this virus is particularly damaging to those individuals,” while Fauci said these conspiracy theories “are nothing but distractions.”
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Mona Salama