James S. Brady Press Briefing Room Washington D.C. March 23 6:11 P.M. EDT
Well, thank you very much. And I see we have fewer people because of the virus problem, and we appreciate you being here. And this is getting to be more and more social distancing, and that's fine. That's the way it should be, and it's too bad. We extend our best wishes to the person affected. And we feel sure that he or she will be better very soon.
And thank you for being here. America continues to mobilize every segment of our society to turn the tide in the battle against the virus. I want Americans to know that we will get through this challenge. The hardship will end; it will end soon. Normal life will return. And our economy will rebound very, very strongly. But, right now, in the midst of this great national trial, Americans must remain united in purpose and focused on victory.
To every single American, please know that the sacrifice you're making at this time is saving lives - many, many lives. It's very important that we totally protect our Asian American community in the United States and all around the world. They're amazing people, and the spreading of the virus is not their fault in any way, shape, or form. They're working closely with us to get rid of it. We will prevail together. It's very important.
From the beginning, we have been working closely with our nation's best scientists and medical professionals, and we will continue to do so until we have defeated the virus. Our public health experts, who are terrific, are studying the variation in the disease across the country, and we will be using data to recommend new protocols to allow local economies to cautiously resume their activity at the appropriate time.
We also have a large team working on what the next steps will be once the medical community gives a region the okay - meaning the okay to get going, to get back; let's go to work.
Our country wasn't built to be shut down. This is not a country that was built for this. It was not built to be shut down.
My administration continues to work with Democrats and Republicans to reach an agreement on an urgent relief bill for the millions of American workers and small businesses and large businesses that were badly affected by the medical difficulty that we've had.
If you had a viable business in January, we are committed to ensuring the same is true in the coming weeks. In fact, we want to make it even better than it was before, and we're doing things to help in that regard.
America will again, and soon, be open for business - very soon - a lot sooner than three or four months that somebody was suggesting. A lot sooner. We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself. We're not going to let the cure be worse than the problem.
At the end of the 15-day period, we'll make a decision as to which way we want to go, where we want to go, the timing. And essentially, we're referring to the timing of the opening - essentially, the opening of our country, because we have it pretty well shut down in order to get rid of this invisible enemy.
Two weeks ago, we moved at record speed to pass paid sick leave and paid family medical leave and approve $8 billion, including money for the development of treatments and vaccines. And we're doing tremendous work in both - on both fronts. The vaccines are coming along very quickly.
Now Congress must demonstrate the same bipartisanship again and join together to pass the Senate bill as written, and avoid playing any more partisan games. They have to get together and just stop with the partisan politics. And I think that's happening. I got a call a little while ago; I guess they're getting closer. It should go quickly and must go quickly. It's not really a choice. They don't have a choice. They have to make a deal. This should not be a time for political agendas but rather one for focusing solely and squarely on the needs of the American people.
We are going to save American workers, and we're going to save them quickly. And we're going to save our great American companies, both small and large. This was a medical problem. We are not going to let it turn into a long-lasting financial problem. It started out as a purely medical problem, and it's not going to go beyond that. We're just not going to allow that to happen.
Our country was at its strongest financial point. We've never had an economy like we had just a few weeks ago, and then it got hit with something that nobody could have ever thought possible. And we are fixing it. We're fixing it quickly. And I want to just thank the American people for what they've been through and what they're doing.
Our country will be stronger than ever before, and we fully anticipate that. And it won't be that long.
Let me provide you with an update on critical supplies: FEMA is distributing 8 million N95 respirator masks and 13.3 million surgical masks across the country right now, focusing on the areas with the greatest need. We have shipped 73 pallets of personal protective equipment to New York City and 36 pallets to the State of Washington.
In the past 96 hours, FEMA has also received donations of approximately 6.5 million masks. We're having millions and millions of masks made as we speak, and other personal protective equipment, which we will be distributing to medical hotspots. We're focused on some of the hotspots across the nation.
We're seeing an outpouring of creativity and innovative ideas widely shared between the federal health leaders, governors and mayors, the scientific community, and members of the private sector. Really working together. Everybody is working together.
I'm pleased to report that clinical trials in New York will begin existing for existing drugs that may prove effective against the virus. At my direction, the federal government is working to help obtain large quantities of chloroquine. And you can look from any standpoint tomorrow, in New York - we think tomorrow pretty early - the hydroxychloroquine and the Z-Pak, I think as a combination, probably, is looking very, very good. And it's going to be distributed.
We have 10,000 units going, and it'll be distributed tomorrow. It'll be available and is now; they already have it. They're going to distribute it tomorrow morning to a lot of people in New York City and New York. We're studying it very closely, watching it very closely.
You probably saw a couple of articles today came out where a gentleman - they thought he was not going to make it. He said goodbye to his family. They had given him the drug just a little while before, but he thought it was over. His family thought he was going to die. And a number of hours later, he woke up, felt good. Then he woke up again, and he felt really good. And he's in good shape. And he's very happy for this particular drug that we got approved in record-setting time. There's never been anything even close to it.
And I want to thank the FDA, which has been incredible, and Dr. Hahn - Stephen Hahn - a highly respected man. But they're doing everything possible to increase production and available supply of these drugs - not only this drug, but also others that are coming. Remdesivir is coming from Regeneron. A couple of others are also under study.
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