President Donald Trump declared that America will be “back very quickly” after dealing with the coronavirus crisis, speaking to reporters on the outbreak at a White House press briefing.
As lawmakers on Capitol Hill work out the details of a trillion-dollar stimulus package on Saturday in response to the economic impact of the pandemic, the president said the bipartisan effort would result in “something very special” as he spent time fielding questions with members of the Coronavirus Task Force.
Following Trump’s departure from the briefing, Vice President Mike Pence was asked by a nasty-toned reporter if Trump’s seventy-four and a half million Twitter followers should be taking medical advice from him.
Pence did not take the bait and responded politely with information on what the experts who have been assembled have been telling the president.
Pence announced that both he and his wife would be tested for the coronavirus following news that one of his staffers has tested positive for the illness on Friday.
During earlier questioning, the president said he supported the independent measures states have been taking to deal with the fallout from the outbreak within their own borders and shot down suggestions to launch a national response.
He also discussed the use of a malaria-treating drug to combat the coronavirus.
Several questions focused on when medical professionals would receive medical masks but there were no firm answers, though Pence said the government had ordered “hundreds of millions” of N-95 masks for health care facilities.
“Sooner than weeks, it’s going to be days, I would hope. We’re going to try to make it days to the best possible way that we can,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said.
ADM Brett Giroir, Assistant Secretary for Health, stepped in to “try to persuade you to stop asking about a specific number,” saying there are now over 10 million tests available on the commercial market.
“We have put over 10 MILLION laboratory tests into the U.S. commercial market.”
“By March 28th, we expect that to be well over 27 million in the market.”
– Admiral Brett Giroir on the Chinese Virus tests
— Kayleigh McEnany (@kayleighmcenany) March 21, 2020
But NBC News correspondent Kelly O’Donnell pushed back on the admonition, saying reporters were just trying to follow up on whether the things the administration keeps announcing are actually happening. The president stepped in to address her remarks.
“You understand exactly what he’s saying,” he told her.
(Source: Fox News)
Reporters appeared to be continuing to try to affix blame and questioned the timeline of events, as Trump reiterated that he first knew about the virus around late January when he ordered border closures.
“When I learned I started doing the closings so probably around that time. We didn’t learn much,” Trump says. In fact, some in administration were urging him to act and he feared rattling the markets.
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) March 21, 2020
He reminded reporters that he had acted quickly, and been attacked in the press for closing the borders. Trump also took a shot at CNN and the dishonest reporting on his actions.
Answering another question, the president called out a “very inaccurate story” from The Washington Post.
Trump stressed that he was disappointed in China’s inaction and lack of transparency in initially dealing with the outbreak but emphatically defended his friendship with Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
“I wish they could’ve told us earlier because we could’ve come up with a solution,” he said.
“China was very secretive,” Trump said, adding that he has “great respect” for the leader who is “a friend of mine” and saying the country has worked very hard and they “have gone through hell.”
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