James S. Brady Press Briefing Room Washington D.C. April 20 5:39 P.M. EDT
Thank you very much everyone. Thank you. Following the release of our reopening guidelines, governors across the country are looking forward to phase one and announcing plans for an economic resurgence; we're going to have a resurgence, too. At a time when millions of American workers and families are struggling with the financial consequences of the virus, it's critical to continue the medical war while reopening the economy in a safe and responsible fashion.
During this time, Americans must maintain strict vigilance and continue to practice careful hygiene, social distancing, and the other protective measures that we have outlined and that everybody has become very familiar with.
We continue to be encouraged that many of the areas hardest hit by the virus appear to have turned the corner. For example, recent deaths are down very, very substantially. You can compare that with their peak not so long ago, and you have numbers of 30 percent, 25 percent. In Detroit, as an example, it's down by over 50 percent. Congratulations. And, in New Orleans, where they've done a terrific job, they're down 65 percent.
Thirty states have just one case or less per 1,000 people - far fewer cases per capita, as an example, than Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Ireland, Switzerland, Singapore, Belgium, Spain, Norway, the Netherlands, Austria, Sweden.
My administration continues to press Congress to replenish the enormously successful Paycheck Protection Program, which has impacted 30 million American jobs. We hope to have an agreement very soon. And hopefully tomorrow, the Senate is going to be able to vote. A lot of progress has been made on that - tremendous progress. It's a great plan. It's a great plan. It's helped a lot of people. So we hope to have a vote maybe tomorrow in the Senate.
And based on the record-low price of oil that you've been seeing - it's at a level that's very interesting to a lot of people - we're filling up our National Petroleum Reserves. Strategic - you know, the Strategic Reserves. And we're looking to put as much as 75 million barrels into the reserves themselves. That would top it out. That would be first time in a long time it's been topped out. We'd get it for the right price.
We're also pushing for the deal to include an additional $75 billion - our deal; the deal we're talking about - $75 billion for hospitals and other healthcare providers. Many providers and their employees have taken a huge financial hit in recent weeks. And visits, elective procedures, surgeries, et cetera, et cetera, were canceled. We think that they can all get back online. They'll get it done. The hospitals have really been fantastic. The hospitals, they've - they've stepped up to the plate. They've really done a great job. We appreciate it so much.
For areas less affected by the virus, we've issued new recommendations about how to safely resume elective treatments. HHS has also distributed the first $30 billion in direct payments to a million healthcare providers across the country. We've also invested $1.4 billion in community health centers to ensure our most vulnerable communities, including many African American and Hispanic American communities, have access to the services and testing that they need.
Earlier today, Vice President Pence spoke with governors from all 50 states about our unified effort to defeat the virus. He had a great call. It was a great call - very positive in, I'd say, every way. Prior to the call, we provided each governor with a list of the names, addresses, and phone numbers of the labs where they can find additional testing capacity within their states - many, many labs. We're providing you with the list. We'll show it to you now if you need it. We'll give you the details. But hundreds and hundreds of labs are ready, willing, and able.
Some of the governors, like, as an example, the governor from Maryland didn't really understand the list. He didn't understand too much about what was going on. So now I think he'll be able to do that. It's pretty simple. But they have tremendous capacity and we hope to be able to help him out. We'll work with him and work with all of the governors.
Similar to the situation with ventilators, states need to assess their complete inventory of available capacity. Some states have far more capacity than they actually understand. And it is a complex subject, but some of the governors didn't understand it. The governor, as an example, Pritzker from Illinois did not understand his capacity. Not simply ask the federal government to provide unlimited support - I mean, you have to take the support where you have it, but we are there to stand with the governors and to help the governors, and that's what we're doing. And they have a tremendous capacity that we've already built up. And you'll be seeing that; we're going to be introducing a couple of the folks in a little while to talk about it.
I want to draw your attention to Governor Cuomo's remarks during his press conference today. He said: The President is right. The states' testing is up to the states to do, which will implement the test and logistically coordinate the tests. We have about 300 labs in New York and they do it. And they're great labs, actually. And it's my job to coordinate those 300 labs. I think the President is right when he says that the states should lead.
And the governor is really - they're really getting - they're getting it together in New York. A lot of good things are happening in New York. And I think the governor is going to come in to see us tomorrow. He's coming to the Oval Office tomorrow afternoon. Andrew is going to be coming in with some of his people. So we look forward to that.
The - some of the articles that just recently came about - if you remember, I put out a statement today. For a month, it was all "ventilator, ventilator, ventilator." That's all people could talk about was ventilators. And we did a great job with that. We built a lot of ventilators, to put it mildly. We have so many now that, at some point soon, we're going to be helping Mexico and Italy and other countries. We'll be sending them ventilators, which they desperately need. They were a position - they were not in a position to build them themselves.
But we have thousands being built. Every state has had - they have the ventilators. If they don't, we have almost 10,000 in our Federal Reserve - our "stockpile," as they call it. And we did a great job with the ventilators.
Unfortunately, the press doesn't cover it - other than the fair press. But - so then you say, "Gee, I - they need ventilators." We don't need ventilators. And that's - that's under pressure we did that.
Nobody that needed a ventilator in this country didn't get one. And a story that just came out: "How the Media Completely Blew the Trump Ventilator Story." I'm sure you love to see that. That's by Rich Lowry, a respected journalist and person. "How the Media Completely Blew the Trump Ventilator Story" - which, unfortunately, you did.
And here's another one that just came out. Kyle Smith. "The Ventilator Shortage That Wasn't." "The Ventilator Shortage That Wasn't" - because we got it fixed. And we're also going to help the states, by the way, stockpile ventilators. So if a thing like this should happen again, they've got them.
The stories on testing are all over the place - that we're actually in good shape. I'm going to have the Vice President and others speak to you about that, but we're in very good shape on testing and we're getting better all the time. You're going to see some interesting things.
I thought before I went any further though, I'd like to have General Semonite, who has done an incredible job, tell you where we are. You know we're still building beds and hospitals for people that need them. I guess the hospital business generally is getting pretty much closed out now, but we're - we're creating a lot of space for people, just in case. And in some cases, they probably will be using them.
But I thought the general - he's been so impressive and done such a great job. I thought, on behalf of the services and on behalf of the federal government, he'd say a few words about what we're doing right now.
Thank you very much. General.
LIEUTENANT GENERAL SEMONITE:
Well, thank you, Mr. President. I just want you to know that, on behalf of all of us in the Department of Defense, our thoughts and prayers go out to all of those patients and all those victims that have been affected by this terrible virus.
And the President of Vice President talk all the time about the heroes, but when I've been out there, I've seen the doctors, I've seen the nurses, and all those that have worked very, very hard, and we're just - we're just so proud to be part of this noble calling.
I - for my team, I really made it very, very simple. I said there's three legs of this stool, and they all have "S's": There are "sites" - in other words, hospitals; we've got to worry about "supplies"; and we've got to worry about "staff."
And so, right when Governor Cuomo called the President, about almost 30 days ago, he said, "I need some help" - worrying about what could be tens of thousands of hotel room - I mean, of hospital room shortages.
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