March 31 5:30 P.M. EDT
Thank you very much, everyone. Our country is in the midst of a great national trial, unlike any we have ever faced before. You all see it. You see it probably better than most.
We're at war with a deadly virus. Success in this fight will require the full, absolute measure of our collective strength, love, and devotion. Very important.
Each of us has the power, through our own choices and actions, to save American lives and rescue the most vulnerable among us.
That's why we really have to do what we all know is right. Every citizen is being called upon to make sacrifices. Every business is being asked to fulfill its patriotic duty. Every community is making fundamental changes to how we live, work, and interact each and every day.
And I wouldn't be surprised to see this going on long into the future, when this virus is gone and defeated. Some of the things we're doing now will be very good practice for the future, including for not getting the flu, which is very devastating also. So some of what we're learning now will live on into the future - I really believe that: shaking hands or not shaking hands; washing hands all the time; staying a little apart.
Fifteen days ago, we published our nationwide guidelines to slow the spread of the virus. On Sunday, I announced that this campaign will be extended until April 30th.
In a few moments, Dr. Birx will explain the data that formed the basis for our decision to extend the guidelines, and Dr. Fauci will explain why it's absolutely critical for the American people to follow the guidelines for the next 30 days. It's a matter of life and death, frankly. It's a matter of life and death.
I know our citizens will rise to the occasion, and they already have sacrificed a lot. We had the greatest economy in the history of our country. We had the greatest economy in the world. We had the best unemployment numbers and employment numbers that we've ever had, by far. And in one instant, we said we have no choice but to close it up. Just as Americans have always done, they will do a job like few have seen before. And they're proud to do it, and I see that. There's a great pride going on right now.
Before we hear from our experts, we have a few other announcements. Today, the Treasury Department and Small Business Administration announced further details on the Paycheck Protection Program, which was made possible by the 2-trillion-dollar relief bill I signed into law last week. Nearly $350 billion in loans will soon be available through lending partners to help small businesses meet payroll and other expenses for up to two months. These loans will be forgiven as long as businesses keep paying their workers. This includes sole proprietors and independent contractors. Applications will be accepted starting this Friday, April 3rd. So, on Friday, April 3rd, that's when it begins.
Earlier today, I spoke with leading Internet and phone providers who are doing a tremendous job of keeping our Internet and lines of communication flowing under very strongly increased strain. The business is more than anybody has seen before, because everyone is inside. They're all making calls.
Among the leaders I spoke to were Hans Vestberg of Verizon Communications, Randall Stephenson of AT&T, Mike Sievert of T-Mobile, Thomas Rutledge of Charter Communications, Brian Roberts of Comcast, John Malone of Liberty Media, Dexter Goei of Altice, Michel Combes of Sprint, and Aryeh Bourkoff of LionTree. Also, Pat Esser of Cox Communications and Jeffrey Storey of CenturyLink. They're doing an incredible job.
If you look at other continents - if you look at Europe, they went a different route than we did, and much different route. We were talking about that just a little while ago. And they're having tremendous problems. Other countries are having problems. Other continents are having problems.
But with business at a level that nobody has seen it before on the Internet, it's holding up incredibly well, and they expect that to continue no matter what happened and no matter how much more it gains, which, if it can gain more than it already is, I don't know, because they're setting records.
Let me also update you on the distribution of urgently needed resources and supplies. And we have a lot of numbers. I'm going to let Mike Pence speak to that in a little while. But we're giving massive amounts of medical equipment and supplies to the 50 states. We also are holding back quite a bit. We have almost 10,000 ventilators that we have ready to go. We have to hold them back because the surge is coming, and it's coming pretty strong. And we want to be able to immediately move it into place without going and taking it.
So, we're ready to go, and we've also distributed - I just spoke with the governor of Michigan. Had a great conversation. And we sent a large number of ventilators to Michigan. We're sending them to Louisiana. We sent additional ventilators to New York, additional ventilators to New Jersey.
And, I will say, in New York, FEMA is supplying 250 ambulances and 500 EMTs to help respond to the increasing caseload. That's a lot of ambulances.
In California, the Army Corps of Engineers is developing eight facilities to expand hospital capacity up to 50,000 beds. Fifty thousand. And had a great conversation last night with Gavin Newsom. He's doing - he's doing a really good job. We - we're in constant communications. The USNS Mercy hospital ship is operational. It's in Los Angeles and receiving patients.
And, in New York, as you know, the Comfort - everybody watched that - it's in place and will be, in a very short while, receiving large numbers of patients. Over a thousand rooms and 12 operating rooms.
FEMA has also provided 100 travel trailers to assist with housing needs. And we're ordering hundreds more.
In Michigan, FEMA will soon deliver, in addition to the ventilators, 250-bed field hospital, and Army Corps of Engineers is evaluating locations to build alternate care facilities. So we're doing a field hospital, in Michigan, of 250 beds. And we may be doubling it up soon, depending on the need. They're doing a good job with beds in Michigan, but they may need more than the 250. So, FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers are prepared to go there quickly and get it done.
In Louisiana, we're delivering two field hospitals to provide 500 new hospital beds. I've been talking with the governor, John Bel Edwards, and the Army Corps of Engineers has been really doing incredible work, establishing 3,000-bed alternate care site at the New Orleans Convention Center, which will be operational, believe it or not, this week. So we're doing a 3,000-bed alternate care site, and we're also doing a 500-bed new hospital. And that's in Louisiana, which really got hit. It started off very late, and it was looking good, and then all of a sudden, it just reared up; it came from nowhere.
In addition to the supplies we're delivering, we're also giving hospitals the flexibility to use new facilities, including surgical care centers, to care for hospital patients who are not infected. For example, I know that many expectant mothers are understandably concerned about exposing their newborn babies to the virus, and they should be. With our action yesterday, hospitals now have the authority to create special areas for mothers to deliver their babies in a very safe and healthy environment. Totally separate.
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