James S. Brady Press Briefing Room Washington D.C. July 30 5:41 P.M. EDT
Thank you very much. Let me begin by expressing our sadness at the passing of a wonderful man and a dear friend of mine, Herman Cain. He was a very special person. I got to know him very well. And unfortunately, he passed away from the thing called the China virus. And we send our prayers to Herman's great wife, Gloria. Wonderful family.
And I have to say, America grieves for all of the 150,000 Americans who had their lives taken by this horrible, invisible enemy. We mourn their loss, as a nation; we mourn their loss, as people — as people that love one another. And we're working very hard to not only contain this horrible event, this horrible plague — it's what it is, is a plague — but also to come up with therapeutics and vaccines. And we're making a lot of strides.
All over the world, they're having tremendous problems. A resurgence has taken place in many countries that people thought were doing well. Despite a wide range of approaches to the pandemic between countries, this resurgence in cases is occurring throughout large portions of our planet — in Japan, China, Australia, Belgium, Spain, France, Germany, Hong Kong — places where they thought it was — they had really done great. It came back. And in a couple of cases, it came back very strongly.
The virus was said to be under control, but new cases have risen very significantly once again. So when you think somebody is doing well, sometimes you have to hold your decision on that; you have to hold your statement.
Since the beginning of June, daily new cases have increased by a factor of 14 times in Israel; 35 times — that's 35 times — in Japan; and nearly 30 times in Australia, just to name a few. These were countries that were doing incredibly well; leadership was being praised. Latin America now leads the world in confirmed infections. And with the scarcity of testing in Latin America, the true numbers — you have no idea what they might be. And I can say "scarcity of testing." Almost anywhere, except for our country.
This disease is highly contagious and presents unique challenges to our border states. Meanwhile, states like California, Washington State, Maryland, Virginia, Nevada, Illinois, Oregon, and many others — they were thought to be doing well, and they had a big resurgence and were hit very hard.
And governors that were extremely popular are not so popular anymore. They were held up as models to follow, and then they got hit and — now, I'm not even saying this is their fault. It's probably not their fault. It's just the way it is. That's the way it is. Highly infectious — one of the most infectious diseases that anybody has ever seen. Not since 1917, over 100 years ago, has anyone seen anything like what we're witnessing now.
But these states have also seen the virus substantially rebound. And, again, no one is immune. No one is immune. These facts illustrate the imposing determinant — and it is a determinant — that a blanket shutdown to achieve a temporary reduction in cases is certainly not a viable long-term strategy for any country. People are starting to understand the disease now. We certainly have understood a lot about the disease that we didn't have any idea. We didn't — nobody ever saw anything like this.
The primary purpose of a shutdown was to flatten the curve, ensure sufficient hospital capacity, and develop effective treatments and therapies to reduce mortality. And we've done that. But it can come rearing back when you least suspect it.
We did the right thing initially. We saved millions of lives, what we did. We did the right thing. But a permanent shutdown would no longer be the answer at all. A small shutdown of certain areas — but we don't want to do that — small shutdowns can be very helpful, but not for long periods of time.
We understand what we're dealing with now, but it's a very complex situation. And I can only say: Thank Heaven that we — that we are so advanced in what we're doing, in terms of vaccines and therapies.
We now know a great deal about the virus and how to treat it and who it targets. Almost half of the deaths come from less than 1 percent of our population. Think of it: Half of the deaths — really, a tremendous number — half of the deaths come from less than 1 percent of our population, those living in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. The average age of those who die from the illness is 78.
We've announced very strong measures to protect those who are most vulnerable. The scientific path forward is to protect those at highest risk, while allowing those at lower risk to carefully return to work and to school with appropriate precautions.
I'm once again urging the American people to protect their dear family and friends and anybody who's elderly — especially if somebody is elderly and they have heart problems, if they have certain illnesses. Diabetes is a very bad one, having to do with what we're discussing. But you want to protect the elderly and socially distance, wear a mask if you cannot socially distance, and practice vigorous hygiene.
Everyone, even healthy young people, should be taking extraordinary care to avoid infecting those at the highest risk from this terrible disease. The elderly and those with chronic health issues have to be protected.
In the current hotspots across the Sun Belt, the data is showing very encouraging signs. Arizona, in particular, has crossed an important threshold. For every person with the virus, we're now seeing an average of less than one additional person infected. And the numbers are coming down and coming down very substantially. They're starting to come down in Florida. Arizona is really leading the way.
I was in Texas yesterday, and they're starting to come down significantly, we believe, in Texas. Need another few days to figure that one out, but it looks like they're coming down very significantly.
Earlier today, I visited the Red Cross headquarters to discuss plasma therapy — which is a tremendous — a tremendous thing that they're looking at, and they have a lot of experience with it — potentially lifesaving treatments that infuse sick patients with powerful antibodies donated by those who have recovered successfully from this disease.
More than 2 million Americans have recovered from the virus, and today we're asking them to visit Coronavirus.gov — Coronavirus.gov — and volunteer to donate plasma. We need plasma. It's something that's been very effective, and we need plasma from those that were infected and successfully recovered, as most people do. Most people do.
Plasma is one of the many promising treatments my administration is accelerating. We've secured over 90 percent of the world's supply of remdesivir — which is terrific — an encouraging antiviral drug that can effectively block replication of the virus.
We've also approved the use of the widely-available steroid — which has been very successful — dexamethasone, which has shown success, even in patients at more advanced stages of the disease.
On July 17th, we announced a $450 million agreement with Regeneron to build manufacturing plants and hundreds of thousands of doses of its antibody treatment, which is currently in late-stage clinical trials — moving along very rapidly. That's Regeneron.
As a result of such significant strides in treatment, the mortality rate in those over the age of 18 is 85 percent lower than it was just in April. So in a very short period of time. Think of that: Just 18 — 85 percent lower than it was in April. It's a big statement.
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