Today's White House Update 3/18/2020 | WisCommunity

Today's White House Update 3/18/2020

March 18, 2020 - 10:43am

WATCH LIVE SOON: President Trump and the Coronavirus Task Force hold news conference

Live from the White House

Trump

FEMA has been activated under the Stafford Act. The country is now at level 1 and a command center has been set up.

The Red Cross Ships Mercy and Comfort are being set up on both coasts.

The President once again complains about the discomfort of the nasal swab test. Really? 

Says they are working on more tests and self-swab tests - but seems to say nothing about the ongoing issues of test and reagent supply. He will be holding another press conference with the FDA on developments, and a meeting with nurse groups.

HUD is providing immediate relief by suspending foreclosures and evictions until the end of April. 

Pence:

There are now cases in all 50 states. The President has been meeting with tourism groups and heads of companies.

The border with Canada is now closed other than essential services, by mutual agreement with Canada.

There will be a conference call today with state health officials and a FEMA conference with all governors.

Again he emphasizes that tests are ramping up, and that asymptomatic people should not be tested.

Health care professionals are being asked to delay all non-critical procedures.

HEALTH

There are disturbing reports coming from Europe about young people suffering serious lung injury. It is possible that since the emphasis was on the elderly, young people did not take care and perhaps there is a very large infection rate among the young so that even if these reactions are rare, so many are infected that some have serious problems.

Thermo Fisher is pushing out their tests, which should increase the availability of tests.

Department of Defense

The US Military remains ready and capable. DOD personnel and families are still under travel restrictions. They are taking 1 million masks and other health supplies like ventilators and making them available for intervention.

They have certified 16 military labs for testing. Field and expeditionary hospitals are being readied. 

CMS

The government is working on tele-health issues, and working on conserving personal protection equipment. Today CMS will release guidelines primarily by stopping non-essential procedures, including most dental procedures, protecting providers from unnecessary exposure.

VA

Have established 19 emergency facilities and have stopped most visitors to veterans, and have taken serious steps to protect seriously ill veterans. Most dental and all elective surgeries have stopped. 

Questions -

There has been speculation that unemployment may hit 25%. The President does not believe that will happen.

He was called out on his continual calling the virus the "Chinese virus". He says it is not racist since the virus comes from China. I will not speculate on how tone-deaf this is.

The President was asked about relief checks and what size they would be, but the President says it is premature to talk about it and emphasizes that this is a bi-partisan effort. "Everyone wants to go big". "It snuck up on us". He emphasizes that stopping border travel was the most important thing to do despite the fact that many professionals thought it was the wrong answer.

He was asked multiple times about the shortage of ventilators and why it took so long to have the government ramp up the production of them. 

There were questions about trade across the Canadian border (the president says it will not affect trade.) 

The President is not willing to speculate on the scale of economic support for businesses and individuals. 

He was asked why since the President keeps stating that there are enough tests, why are health departments having so much trouble obtaining them? The answer seems to be that the new high-speed platforms from the private sector will fix that - but this has been the answer for several days and it somehow feels like jam tomorrow but never jam today. One million tests will be rolled out this week. 

President was asked  if wealthy people are getting tested before others. He says this may be happening, "It's the story of life". The President blames the immense amount of testing required and that the system is obsolete, but being fixed.

The President was asked about suspending tariffs with other countries since it was asked for by US free trade groups. The President indicates this will not happen.

The President was asked about the Mexican border. He indicated that leisurely travel across the border has been stopped. 

Health was asked about the changing stories of passing the virus on, from a very cavalier attitude to asking people to shelter in place. The answer is that we did not have the research, and we are still working out how much transmission is human-to-human and how much is from surfaces, and we now have data from China and Europe. The guidelines are intended to mitigate both since we are not sure.

Treasury has suggested a size of relief for industry, but there is no detail of what industries get what.

The President is asked about his lowered approval ratings. He says essentially that they are asking the wrong people and he has a 95% approval rating with Republicans and cuts the reporter off. 

He was asked about the availability of SBA loans, and he says there will be more funding. 

Questions were raised about expanding the arsenal of drugs against the virus, and Health says everything is being looked into but it's hard to know. Asked again about the seasonality of the virus and she says we just have evidence from past viruses like SARS.  They are looking at the curves from different countries and trying to determine what actions are most effective. It's hard to know about seasonality because this virus started much later into the winter season than normal. 

VA says 44 vets have tested positive and one has died. 

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