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Cabinet Room

4:41 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, thank you very much.  It’s great to be with the Governor of Colorado and the Governor of North Dakota, two governors that are working very hard — harder than they thought they’d have to work.  We also have two very distinguished senators that you know very much: Senator Gardner, who you know, and — John, say hello.  Say hello to the fake news.

SENATOR HOEVEN:  It’s great to be here.  Thank you, Mr. President.  We appreciate the invitation.  And, of course, appreciate all the support you’re giving us —


SENATOR HOEVEN:  — and the leadership of our governors.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  It’s been — and that’s what we’re doing.  That’s what we’re here for — to do that and to talk about it.  We just came out with a new listing on testing.  We just cracked 10 million tests, which is here.  I thought you’d like to show that to everybody.  Ten million.  We set an all-time record, by far.  If you look down here, these are other countries that have not done anywhere near what we’re doing.

We’re double.  If you add them up and double them, we’ve done more tests.  But I can’t get the press to print that, unfortunately.  They just don’t want to print it.

But I want to thank the governors for being here, very much.  We appreciate it.  We’re going to have some good, fruitful talks about going even to the next step.  And I know you’re trying to open up, and I know you’re opening up.  You’re sort of more than trying; you’re opening up.  And you’re both — you’re both doing an excellent job, and it’s an honor to have you at the White House very much.  And these two gentlemen have done a fantastic job.

And David you know from Interior, and David is very much involved with your states.  And how are they doing, David?  What do you think?


THE PRESIDENT:  I think so.  They’re doing a good job.  They really are.  They’re doing a good job.

We’re talking about, as you know, Space Force, and a lot of the states are interested in Space Force.  And we’re talking to some of them, and I know that Colorado is very interested in it, and so we’ll be talking to you about that too.  Okay?  We might mention that today a little bit during our meeting.

So thank you all very much.  Thank you.

Q    Mr. President, what’s your advice to administrators and school principals around the country in terms of their plans to reopen school and colleges in the fall?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I think they should open the schools, absolutely.  I think they should.  And it’s had very little impact on young people.  And I think that if you’re an instructor, if you’re a teacher, a professor, and you’re over a certain age — like, let’s say, 65 or maybe even, if you want to be conservative, 60 — perhaps you want to stay out for a little while longer.

But I think you should absolutely open the schools.  Our country has got to get back, and it’s got to get back as soon as possible.  And I don’t consider our country coming back if the schools are closed.  And it’s had very little — a very unusual situation.  It’s had very little impact on young people.  And I would strongly say they should open.  It’s up to the governors.   It’s the governors’ choice.  But their state is not open if the schools aren’t open.  So, again, it’s had very little impact on young people, and I think they should open their schools.

Q    Mr. President, Senator Graham is introducing a bill to sanction China.  Would you support it if it goes to the House and it comes to your desk?  Do you support that bill?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I respect Lindsey Graham, and I’ll certainly look at it.  The bill to sanction China — so I’ll certainly take a look at it.  I have not seen it yet.

Q    Do you want to comment on the release of those names related to Michael Flynn?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, the unmasking is a massive — it’s a massive thing.  It’s — I just got a list.  It’s — who can believe a thing like this?  And I watched Biden yesterday on “Good Morning America” being interviewed by one of your colleagues, George Stephanopoulos, and he said he knew nothing about anything.  He has no idea.  He knows nothing about anything.  Nothing at all.

And then it gets released today that he was a big unmasker.  So how do you know nothing if you’re one of the unmaskers?  It’s one of the very big stories, and I suspect you’ll have, if it’s possible, even bigger stories coming out.

Q    A follow-up on a separate subject, sir.  We’ve had a number of explosions in Afghanistan.  Are you concerned that that peace deal may be falling apart?

THE PRESIDENT:  Look, Afghanistan — we’ve been there for many years.  We’re like a police force.  We’re not fighting in Afghanistan; we’re a police force in Afghanistan.  And at some point, they’re going to have to be able to take care of their country, and they’re going to have to be able to police their country.

But we’re not meant to be a police force; we’re meant to be fighters.  And we’ve been there for a long time.  So, I don’t know, we’ll have to see.  I have not heard that, Steve.  We have had — in Kabul, we’ve had some, I understand, some pretty big blowups.

Q    Yes.

THE PRESIDENT:  But again, you count on the government to be able to police themselves, and they’re having a hard time, I suspect.

But, again, we are the greatest fighting force in the world.  We’re not a police force that’s going to stay around, and police the streets, and check out the red lights and traffic.  It’s not what we’re supposed to be doing.  Been there a long time.

You know, our force is down quite a bit, as you know.  We’re way down.  And a lot of people have come back, brought them back.  But the government has to be able, at some point, to do something for themselves.


Q    Mr. President, Chairman Powell today said both that he wasn’t interested in bringing interest rates negative and that he saw a need for additional stimulus from Congress.  I know that you’ve said we could wait and see on the stimulus and that you want negative rates, so I was wondering your reaction to that.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I’m a believer in negative rates only if other countries that are competitors — look, Germany, they’re an ally, they’re friends of ours, but they’re still competitors on trade and other things.  So Germany, Japan, others have negative rates.  And I think if they do, we’re the most prime of the world.

You know, where it’s based — many countries based on the dollar.  The dollar is by far the strongest, most powerful currency in the world.  We’ve made it more powerful and we’ve made it stronger.  And certainly, if they’re going to have the advantage of negative rates, we should too.  I feel strongly we should have negative rates.  Negative rates is basically where they pay you interest if you borrow money.  This is a new one.  I’ve been looking for something like that all my life.  That’s a pretty good one.

But certainly if other countries are going to be paid for putting out money — I mean, they’re — think of it: They’re borrowing money, and instead of paying interest, they’re getting paid.  It’s the craziest thing.

But you know what?  Other countries are doing it.  Look at Germany, look at Japan, look at others, and we’re the most prime in the world right now.  And we have the — we have the currency and we have the power of the dollar.

So I know that the Chairman has — and he’s done a very
good job over the last couple of months, I have to tell you that, because I’ve been critical.  But in many ways, I call him my “MIP.”  Do you know what an “MIP” is?  “Most Improved Player.”  It’s called the “Most Improved Player Award.”  Did you ever get one of them when you were playing baseball, Cory?  A good baseball player?
SENATOR GARDNER:  Certainly not.  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  The Chairman, he’s my MIP right now, for the last few months.  I think he’s done a very good job.  I disagree with him on one thing now, and that’s negative rates.  And only because we’re paying zero.  Good news: With this money you’re talking about on the stimulus, we’re paying zero.  We’re down to zero interest.

That’s good, but some countries — countries and some states, rather, and some, also, countries you look at — but we are paying, right now, zero, and other countries are paying less than that, if you can believe it.  They’re receiving money, and I think we should be in the exact same situations.

And, by the way, states are getting tremendous deals on borrowing.  So a lot of the states that are coming to the federal government, they can go out and they can borrow, and they’re getting phenomenal rates.  Some of our states is what I’m talking about.  They’re getting phenomenal borrowing rates.

Q    But you agree that stimulus should move forward?  There’s been some Republicans who suggest that they should wait and see.

THE PRESIDENT:  I don’t know.  It depends.  Certainly not the package that I saw today.  Basically, if you look at that package, what they want more than anything else is — it’s a voting package.  They want to be able to make sure that Republicans can’t win an election by putting in all sorts of mail-in ballots.

Now, I don’t know if you knew because the press doesn’t report this too much, but we had two very big victories last night.  We won very big.  Tom Tiffany won very big in the great state of Wisconsin.  You saw that.  That was — last night it came in.  That was a big one.  You saw that, Doug.  And won by a very, very substantial margin.

And in California, of all places, we had a fantastic race.  And this was all mail-in ballots.  This was all mailed ballots.  And when they saw — because it was mailed, they saw they were losing three days ago, and they ended up putting polling booths in, into basically Democrat areas.  But despite that, it’s looking like Mike Garcia — I don’t know if they’ve called the race yet, but he was substantially ahead.  That’s the problem with mail-in ballots.  Are they going to dump a whole pile of ballots on your desk just before the election?

So the problem with the mail-in ballots: It’s subject to tremendous corruption.  Tremendous corruption, cheating.  And so I’m — I’m against it.  And if you look at the bill that Nancy Pelosi is putting in, it has a lot to do with elections.  And then we’re not going to — we’re not going to lose elections because of that.

Q    Was that bill a non-starter?  Or is there any —

THE PRESIDENT:  And I do think you should mention the fact that the Republicans won two major congressional seats last night.  I think it’s really worthy of mentioning.

Q    Is that House bill a non-starter?

Q    Mr. President, do you believe that the judge presiding over the Mike Flynn case, Emmet Sullivan —

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, let’s finish with your question.

Q    Is that bill a non-starter, or is there anything in there you could support?  Or —

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, it’s, as they say, “DOA.”  Right?

Q    Okay.


Q    Okay.

THE PRESIDENT:  Dead on arrival.  Of course, Nancy Pelosi knows that, you know, obviously.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  Do you believe that the judge presiding over the Michael Flynn case, Emmet Sullivan, ought to recuse himself or be disqualified for being biased against Mr. Flynn?

THE PRESIDENT:  I was just with General Milley and some other generals, and I asked them about General Flynn: “Do you know him?”  They said, “Yes, sir.  I’ve known him for 20 years.”  “What do you think?”  “He’s an incredible man, an incredible soldier.  He’s an incredible general.”  This is General Milley, head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, four star.  He’s done fantastically.  He thinks General Flynn is a great, great gentleman and a real fighter.

And when I see what is happening to him, it’s disgraceful.  And it was all a ruse.  And, by the way, the FBI said he didn’t lie.  The FBI said he did not lie.  So with all the stuff I’m hearing about lying, the FBI said he didn’t lie.  But the sleazebag said, “Well, we don’t care what he — what they say.  We’re saying he lied.”  Okay?  But the FBI, you remember, when they left, they said, “He didn’t lie.”  What they’ve done to that man and that family is a disgrace.  But I just tell you that because I just left General Milley, and he said, “A great man and a great soldier.”  Isn’t that a shame.

Q    Would you consider a pardon — a pardon for Mr. Flynn?

THE PRESIDENT:  I won’t talk about that, but he’s going to be okay.  He’ll be just fine.

Q    What about the judge?

THE PRESIDENT:  And I’m very, very saddened by what’s happening to General Flynn and others.  I want to tell you right now: and others.


Q    Dr. Fauci yesterday was a little cautious on reopening the economy too soon.  Do you share his concerns?

THE PRESIDENT:  About reopening what?

Q    Reopening the economy too soon, some states.

THE PRESIDENT:  Look, he wants to play all sides of the equation.  I think we’re going to have a tremendous fourth quarter, I think we’re going to have a transitional third quarter, and I think we’re going to have a phenomenal next year.  I feel that we are going to have a country that’s ready to absolutely have one of its best years.

Next year, with all of the stimulus and all of the fact that it’s a –- it’s a pent-up demand like I haven’t seen.  And you see it right now.  These two really professional, good governors that do such a — you know, work so hard, I know both of them very well.  One happens to be a Democrat, okay?  But we’ve worked together, and I think we’ve worked together very well.  And, one, you would expect me to say that, but it happens to be true, okay?  Really good job too.

But we’ve worked very, very well together.  They want to get their states open.  Some governors and some, perhaps, partisans, maybe for election reasons, don’t want to have their states opened.  And then some shouldn’t open them quite yet.  You know, they’re not ready.  They went through a lot, and they’re not quite ready.

But, no, we’re opening our country.  People want it open.  The schools are going to be open.  I was seeing the other day: Purdue, great school, great college, university — and Purdue is opening and others are opening, and they’re all announcing it.  These are young people.  These are students.  Young students.  They’re in great shape.  They’re in great shape.

Now, when you have an incident, one out of a million, one out of five hundred thou- — will something happen?  Perhaps.  But, you know, you can be driving to school and some bad things can happen too.  So, no, we’re going to open our country, and we want it open.

Q    Sir, when you say Dr. Fauci is playing both sides, are you suggesting that the advice he’s giving to you is different?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I was surprised — I was surprised by his answer, actually, because, you know, it’s just — to me, it’s not an acceptable answer, especially when it comes to schools.

The only thing that would be acceptable, as I said, is professors, teachers, et cetera, over a certain age.  I think they ought to take it easy for another few weeks — five weeks, four weeks, who knows.  Whatever it may be.  But I think they have to be careful because this is a disease that attacks age and it attacks health.  And if you have a heart problem, if you have diabetes, if you’re a certain age, it’s certainly much more dangerous.  But with the young children, I mean — and students, it’s really — it’s just — take a look at the statistics.  It’s pretty amazing.

Q    Mr. President, businesses are concerned about getting sued once they reopen.  Will you be insistent on some sort of shield from liability being in a phase four bill?

THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah.  If anything is done, I would do that.  And these are the new testing numbers, so you saw that.  But I was just showing this to a group of people outside.  We’re now over 10 million tests, or we will be very shortly, like within a couple of days.

Look at that test.  This is us.  This is the rest of the world.  Okay?  We have more tests and we have better tests, Jon.  We have more tests and we have better tests.  And we’re going to have your football team in, your championship football team.

SENATOR HOEVEN:  Go Bison.  (Laughter.)



THE PRESIDENT:  And we were — the Bison — and tell us a little about the team, first of all.  You know, they won the championship and we were all set to have them, and what happened is the plague came in.  And because of the plague — it came in from China — and because of the plague, we didn’t have those great people.

But we’ll do a raincheck.  Okay?  But seriously, even if it’s in a few months, we’ll do a raincheck.

Tell them about the team, because it was a tremendous season.

GOVERNOR BURGUM:  Well, I would just say that the team and Senator Hoeven was here, Senator Cramer was here, the whole (inaudible), but the First Lady was here.  She says, “Hi.”  But you —

THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah.  Good.

GOVERNOR BURGUM:  — hosted them last year because —


GOVERNOR BURGUM:  — they, again, won the national championship this year in January.  And this is the eighth out of ninth year in a row they’ve done that.  And they would love to get back here with a raincheck.

THE PRESIDENT:  So I watched the game on television, the championship game.  I didn’t know too much about it.  I don’t get to watch too much of the television — football games, right?  And I’m saying, “Man, that team is really good.”  They were really good.  And then I got a call from Doug, and I get a call from John and get a call from our other very friendly senator.  Right?  The three of them.  And they said, “Do you think we could possibly honor the team?”  Because we honor the national champion.  And my question was, “How would your team do against the national champions?”  They were pretty good — LSU — this year, right?   Not a bad quarterback, huh?


THE PRESIDENT:  How do you think?  I don’t know.  You think — you think “okay,” right?

SENATOR HOEVEN:  We open up against Oregon next year at Oregon.


SENATOR HOEVEN:  So then we’ll be able to answer your question.

THE PRESIDENT:  That’s pretty good.  I didn’t —

GOVERNOR BURGUM:  Yeah, that great LSU quarterback started his career playing flag football in elementary school in Fargo, North Dakota.  So that’s where he got his start.  (Laughter.)


SENATOR HOEVEN:  His dad coached — his dad coached him.

THE PRESIDENT:  He had a good start.

SENATOR HOEVEN:  Yeah, Burrow’s dad coached him.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, let the team know we’re going to do a raincheck.



SENATOR HOEVEN:  Fantastic.  Thank you.

Q    Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah, please.

Q    What will happen to the public companies that don’t return their PPP loans to the SBA by tomorrow’s deadline?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, we’ll go after them very seriously.  Yeah.  If there’s any companies that got loans that they weren’t entitled to, we’ll go after them very seriously.  They’ll have big problems.

Q    Mr. President, what’s your level of confidence that the Supreme Court will ultimately rule in your favor in a case involving your tax returns?

THE PRESIDENT:  I hope they will.  I mean, look, it’s — you have a situation where a President has to be able to focus on this.  And, you know, when you’re doing an audit, who would give — you know, in the old days, no President gave tax returns.  A while ago — I mean, no President gave tax returns.

But when you’re under audit, who would — who would want to give them?  It’s a very big thing, but it would also take time, it would take — and this — people are going to get — ultimately, people are going to be getting returns.  They’re going to see that.

But I think — you know, I think it went very well, yesterday.  I thought it was — I have great respect for the Supreme Court.  And I think the lawyers put out a very strong case.  And from what I’ve read, it was a very strong case.

Yeah, please.

Q    How long do you and the Vice President plan to stay apart?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, it’s an interesting question.  I haven’t seen Mike Pence, and I miss him.  But he was in the room with somebody that tested positive.  And he did not test positive; he tested the opposite.  He’s in good shape.  But I guess we said, for a little while we’ll stay apart, because you don’t know what happens with this very crazy and horrible disease.

But we speak a lot on the phone.  But I’m in the White House.  Mike is at his office, but he’s, you know, pretty much away from people.

And he’s doing a great job.  He’s done a great job, I think you’d say, on the task force.  He really has.  I think you’ve pretty much gotten everything you wanted.  And we try and get it to you quickly.

GOVERNOR POLIS:  Yeah, we talk to the Vice President regularly.

THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah.  Yeah.  They’ve done a — we’ve worked very well together with — with Republican governors and with Democrat governors.

And when are you thinking of opening?  Explain what you’re going to do.

GOVERNOR POLIS:  Yeah, we’re —

THE PRESIDENT:  And then, Doug, I’m going to ask you.

GOVERNOR POLIS:  We’re — we’re most — most businesses are open in Colorado.  Pretty much everything except for those social businesses, like bars and nightclubs.  A few places have restaurants open.  We’re working on the rest soon.  But offices, manufacturing —


GOVERNOR POLIS:  — salons, pretty much all people are back at in a safer way.  Right?  It’s not the same way it was.  Like, if you go — I got my hair cut the other day.

THE PRESIDENT:  It looks good.

GOVERNOR POLIS:  Thank you.  (Laughter.)  You should have seen it before.  Like I was — it was crazy.  What little is left of it, it was crazy.  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Not bad.  Not bad.

GOVERNOR POLIS:  So, you know, they wore a mask.  I wore a mask.  So we — we’re doing it in a safe way.

All the stores are back.  And April 27th, we were one of the states where we wanted to do that in a safe way.  People are being responsible.  I mean, you know, and it’s that individual responsibility that’s going to make sure that we can stay on this trajectory.  And hopefully, restaurants in May — by the end of May.  I mean, they’re already open in a few places in our state.

THE PRESIDENT:  How about — because I go there, as you know.  And the ski slopes are fantastic, right?


THE PRESIDENT:  There are those that say the greatest anywhere.  How are you doing with the skiing?  And — you know, it’s a big business for you.

GOVERNOR POLIS:  You know, it’s a big business.  It’s also one of the reasons that we got a lot of the virus in our state because people come from all over the world.

THE PRESIDENT:  That’s very interesting.

GOVERNOR POLIS:  All over the world.

THE PRESIDENT:  I’ve heard that, yeah.

GOVERNOR POLIS:  And so that’s what led to the spread.  And so most of the ski season is ending, but we’re actually hopeful.  We have — a lot of people don’t know this, but in Colorado we have a few areas that they’re skiing through July 4th.  And we’re hoping that people will be able ski again.  David knows this — Secretary Bernhardt knows this: In Arapahoe Basin, Wolf Creek, maybe Breckenridge, Loveland in June, we’re hoping that people can actually ski again.

THE PRESIDENT:  And you also do a lot of summer business and springtime business.  And what are you doing with that?

GOVERNOR POLIS:  You know, it’s — we’re really respecting the communities in our state because they have a lot at stake.  Nobody has more at stake than — in fact, Jill Ryan, who is with us, from Eagle, she’s our secretary of health in Colorado.  She was a commissioner in Eagle County, which is where Vail is.

THE PRESIDENT:  Right.  Right.

GOVERNOR POLIS:  So they have the most at stake economically and from a health perspective.

So, you know, we’re really respecting what the different communities decide.  I think there’ll be some folks that are coming back, spending money in stores.  There’ll be other communities that say, “You know what?  We have to wait a little longer.”  And it’s been very traumatic for many of those communities.  Because Eagle County for a while had the highest infection rate in the country early on.

THE PRESIDENT:  I heard that.

GOVERNOR POLIS:  Yeah, early on.  And now they’ve —

THE PRESIDENT:  So now there’s people coming, because everyone goes — everyone coming in.


THE PRESIDENT:  How has that been?  How is the level of infection right now?

GOVERNOR POLIS:  Eagle County has done an amazing job, as has Summit County, Pitkin Country, Aspen.  You know, all of those areas.

THE PRESIDENT:  Right.  Sure.

GOVERNOR POLIS:  They’ve gotten it under control because they acted early.  They have great county health departments.  They look at the science.  They look at the data.  Their residents stayed home.  And, in fact, Eagle County was one of the first in our state, along with Mesa County, which Secretary Bernhardt knows well — Grand Junction area — to be able to open up a little bit ahead of some of the other areas in a safer way.  Right?  In a safer way.

So, like, in Grand Junction, the restaurants are at 25 percent capacity, so there’s space.  We’re looking at ways that people can dine outdoors, sidewalks, and even on a lane in the road because it’s safer to be in that environment.  So those are the kinds of things that we think about as we’re just trying to get back to as much normalcy as we can.

THE PRESIDENT:  And, Cory, you’re working together very much, I know, with the Governor and everybody else?

SENATOR GARDNER:  We do.  We speak regularly.  The Governor has done a good job, and I appreciate that.  And we’re here to help as much as we can.

GOVERNOR POLIS:  One of the things we did that Cory introduced us to and worked on was importing some tests from South Korea.  So we have over — they’re already being used in our state.  We’re also partnering with the Vice President and you on some Thermo Fisher tests that we think are coming very soon.


GOVERNOR POLIS:  We’re getting, I think, 95,000 next week.

THE PRESIDENT:  I was told they’re here and you’re getting them very quickly.

GOVERNOR POLIS:  Good.  Good.  We’re excited — because we’re running through those tests from South Korea.  But that’s what’s so important, it’s the supplies, right?  It’s the — we have the ability to do it — the labs to do it.  You guys sent around the labs.  We have the capacity.  But it’s getting the tests in.

And so, you know, both with the Thermo Fisher test, the Abbott test, the SolGent test, we’re mixing and matching across.  We have 32 free community testing sites across our state.  Some of them you drive in, some of them you walk in, but those are free.  And that’s in addition to the hospitals and doctors’ offices.  Of course, you get tested there.


GOVERNOR POLIS:  But we have 32 free community testing sites in different parts of our state.

THE PRESIDENT:  And you have good healthcare in that state, right?

SENATOR GARDNER:  And, Mr. President, so I think the key that Jared is talking about — the governors talked about is that you have counties that have a plan, and they’re able to open up earlier than others because of the work that they’re doing.  So when the Governor is talking about Grand Junction, you have restaurants that aren’t just open, but you have dine-in in some of these restaurants —

GOVERNOR POLIS:  That’s right.

SENATOR GARDNER:  — which I think is maybe some of the first around the country to actually reopen to dine-in because of the good work that they have done together.

GOVERNOR POLIS:  And then we wanted to, you know, for — our restaurants were open throughout this whole period in our state.


GOVERNOR POLIS:  They just did delivery, they did take-out, they did curbside, and we even waived some of the laws so they could sell alcohol curbside and sell alcohol delivery, because that extra piece can make the difference between them staying in business or not.

THE PRESIDENT:  How did they do?  How did those restaurants do with the take-out?

GOVERNOR POLIS:  You know, you’ll hear from some that are doing okay with it.  It doesn’t work for every restaurant, and that’s why, you know, they need to be open for the in-restaurant dining.  But for many of them, it’s paid their bills and they’ve gotten through it and it’s helped them.

THE PRESIDENT:  Good.  Good.

GOVERNOR POLIS:  Not every restaurant, but I hear those stories that it’s helped them get through it that we’ve been able to make sure they’ve been able to stay in business the whole time.

SENATOR GARDNER:  And I think yesterday we talked as well about Colorado’s additional Thermo Fisher tests.


SENATOR GARDNER:  And that’ll be a very big help to get those.

THE PRESIDENT:  That’s a great test.  That’s a new and a great test.

So, Doug, how about North Dakota?  How are you doing?

GOVERNOR BURGUM:  Well, first, I want to just lead with gratitude and say thank you to you for your leadership and the Vice President, Dr. Birx, and the whole team.  It’s been a great partnership, federal to state to local, in North Dakota.

And secondly, I want to just say to the — thanks to all of the great people in North Dakota because, like Jared in Colorado, I mean, we relied a lot on individual responsibility, a light touch from government and had great results.  And here we sit today and we’re number two in the nation.  We passed New York this week, in terms of testing per capita.


GOVERNOR BURGUM:  So we’ve really driven in.  We’ve tested over 6 percent of the population.

THE PRESIDENT:  And you’re using different tests — all different?  And you’re in good shape with the testing.  What tests are you using?

GOVERNOR BURGUM:  Well, this has all been the PCR, the nucleic acid testing.


GOVERNOR BURGUM:  And it’s been across a number —


GOVERNOR BURGUM:  — of different platforms: Thermo Fisher, Abbott —


GOVERNOR BURGUM:  — Panther.  So we’ve got a variety of different platforms, but most of it driven through our state lab, which has had an order of magnitude increase.  So we’ve gone to three shifts today, and each shift is doing more than three times they did before.  So 10x increase going on in there on the testing site.

THE PRESIDENT:  That’s fantastic.

GOVERNOR BURGUM:  And then we’re the fifth-lowest positivity rate in the country.  So we’ve been — you know, Alaska and Hawaii are ahead of us, but we’ve been right at the bottom, in terms of that.  You take those two things together —

THE PRESIDENT:  So why do you attribute — what do you attribute that to?

GOVERNOR BURGUM:  Well, I would say, very early on —

THE PRESIDENT:  Being a good governor, right?

GOVERNOR BURGUM:  Well, it’s — you know, geography helps and the people of the state help — those two things.  But I’d say we took early action and tried to reduce transmissible moments.  So we kept 93 percent of the jobs in the state open, but the 7 percent we closed was bars and restaurant and personal care businesses.  Everybody else kept going.  All of construction, all of energy, all of ag, including all of elective surgery at hospitals — kept that going.

THE PRESIDENT:  Oh, wow.  That’s fantastic.

GOVERNOR BURGUM:  And we were able — because we never ran — we were well stocked.  We had a great —


GOVERNOR BURGUM:  — medical cache.

THE PRESIDENT:  That’s great.

GOVERNOR BURGUM:  And we never took more than 2 percent of our capacity in healthcare.  We have a lot of great healthcare providers in North Dakota.  Only 2 percent were going to COVID.

THE PRESIDENT:  That’s fantastic.

GOVERNOR BURGUM:  And so we — we were — we were able to then drive through that.  I mean, we handled the virus and really focused.  And we got Michelle Kommer here, who leads our commerce department.  We had — we have less to worry about opening up because we never really closed down.  But on that other 7 percent, we got bars, restaurants, personal care businesses open on May 1st.  And all that’s going very well under new operating procedures that everybody is using to stay — to stay safe.  And —

THE PRESIDENT:  And your oil prices are going up a little bit now.  I saw that you’re at $26, $27 a barrel, and pretty soon you’ll be up to the number that you have to be up to.  That’s —


THE PRESIDENT:  — a big difference.

GOVERNOR BURGUM:  Well, absolutely — because, I mean, what we do in North Dakota is we power the world and we feed the world.

THE PRESIDENT:  Right.  Right.

GOVERNOR BURGUM:  Number two oil producer — producing state in the nation.  And — and a lot of the unemployment that we saw early on wasn’t related to the virus.  It was related to the demand and destruction association —

THE PRESIDENT:  That’s right.

GOVERNOR BURGUM:  — with the oil price drop.

THE PRESIDENT:  That’s right.  Great job.

John, what do you have to say about the state and the job the Governor and everybody else has done?  I know it — I know it well.

SENATOR HOEVEN:  Yeah.  Listening to these two governors — and I was governor for a long time — tells me your approach is the right approach.  You’re working with the governors across this country and empowering them to open up as soon as they can, safely, based on the conditions in their state, and every state is different.  And that’s why that approach is so important.  And then you providing all that support, along with us in Congress with the CARES Act, you know, as well.

But you see that now with North Dakota, with Colorado, and across the country.  So that’s why it’s so important that you’re doing it the way that you’re doing it with these great governors —


SENATOR HOEVEN:  — that we have across this state.

THE PRESIDENT:  It’s worked out well.

SENATOR HOEVEN:  So thank you for that.  And the other thing I want to mention is, for our farmers — you know I work a lot on ag.


SENATOR HOEVEN:  But for our farmers and ranchers, you’ve been there for them, and hang in there with them.  They’re doing a whale of a job.  And they’re so important, and our energy industry too.

THE PRESIDENT:  And we’re sending them billions of dollars of money that we took in from a country that targeted them.  Last year, we gave them $16 billion.  The year before, we gave them $12 billion.  And no other President would’ve done that, I can tell you.

SENATOR HOEVEN:  And it’s really important and appreciated, and we need to hang in there with them.

And the only other thing I got to tell you is we have a great governor, as you know.  But he is so data driven that I was teasing Dr. Birx, “Who’s more data driven?”  These two are amaz- —


SENATOR HOEVEN:  They’re amazing together.  (Laughter.)  You ought to see — they’re just amazing when you put them together.

THE PRESIDENT:  That’s great.

Michelle, do you have anything to say?

MS. KOMMER:  Well, it’s been a privilege to work for Governor Burgum.  I think it’s through his wisdom that — you know, we’ve talked a lot about lowering the curve, but as Governor Burgum pointed out, we didn’t close the state.  So I feel like we —

THE PRESIDENT:  That’s so great.

MS. KOMMER:  — we raised the bottom.  And we’ve had the good fortune of working very, very closely with our business community.  And it’s through that process and the open dialogue and the collaboration and the hyper-connectedness in our state that we were able to build our — what we call “North Dakota Smart Restart” protocols with our business community, over the span of about eight days.  And so we were closed for 40 days and 40 nights.  And we are opening in a safe way and —

THE PRESIDENT:  That’s fantastic.

MS. KOMMER:  — we’re really proud of the work that’s happened there.

THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah.  You’ve done a great job.  Thank you very much.

MS. KOMMER:  Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT:  And just to finish off, go ahead.

MS. RYAN:  Well, hi.  Thank you, Mr. President.  I want to thank the federal government for its partnership on our COVID-19 response, and particularly the supplies you’ve given us, the tests, and I look forward to that continuing.

And, you know, the more people we can test and then we can force multiply that with contact tracing so we can quarantine people that haven’t even had a test yet, that’s really, you know, the way that we’re going to contain the virus in Colorado.  We’ve got a local public health department that covers every county, and they’re ready to do testing and contact tracing.  And so that’s our plan.  It’s going to be —

THE PRESIDENT:  That’s great.

MS. RYAN:  — a state-wide effort.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, thank you very much.  Terrific job too.

MS. RYAN:  Thank you.

GOVERNOR BURGUM:  And while we’re here, I want to also say: Secretary Bernhardt, you’re doing a fantastic job — because we had a chance to interact with him on national parks.  We had great things going on in Theodore Roosevelt National Park as we move ahead with the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library.

THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah.  That’s right.

GOVERNOR BURGUM:  And we’ve got the U.S. Fish and Wildlife BLM that we’ve been great partners, working with the five tribal nations that are headquartered in North Dakota with whom we share geography.  And we’ve done great collaboration with those tribal leaders on testing through COVID.  But I just want to thank Secretary —

THE PRESIDENT:  They’ve had a lot of difficulty in the different tribes, haven’t they?


THE PRESIDENT:  A lot of difficulty.  Tremendous difficulty.

GOVERNOR BURGUM:  And I want to thank the Secretary and BIA, and for all their support as well through all this.

THE PRESIDENT:  David, you’ve done a great job.  Do you feel comfortable with all those cameras right behind your head?

SECRETARY BERNHARDT:  So, you know, you gave me clear direction to work with governors to open things up.  We’ve worked with local communities, our parks.  My goal is that we’re right — right on the shoulder of the governor.  We’ve worked with Larimer County Health Department and Estes Park to bring that online.  And we’ve opened up Theodore Roosevelt.

And we’re — we just announced today that the timing of the opening for Yellowstone.  So, we’re moving forward.

THE PRESIDENT:  So you’re getting those parks open, yet?


THE PRESIDENT:  So I hope everybody is listening.  The parks are opening — and rapidly, actually.

SECRETARY BERNHARDT:  With — with those governors.

THE PRESIDENT:  Right.  And with those governors.  You want the help from the governors.

GOVERNOR POLIS:  Yeah, even with the counties, more than —


GOVERNOR POLIS:  — even within the state.  And, you know, we’re all excited because recreating outdoors is safe and healthy.


GOVERNOR POLIS:  The flipside is we’re not yet ready to have all the people from other states and other countries coming in.  So that’s the balance, you know.

SECRETARY BERNHARDT:  And that’s why we’re collaborating with those local communities, to ramp up —

THE PRESIDENT:  So, in all cases, you’re working with governors and opening the big parks.

SECRETARY BERNHARDT:  And local counties.  Absolutely.

THE PRESIDENT:  That’s great.  That’s great.  Great job.  Thank you.

Thank you very much, everybody.

Q    Mr. President, one final question.  How do you increase the confidence in the American public to go travel on America’s airlines right now?

THE PRESIDENT:  They have great confidence.  And they have great confidence in us, and they have great confidence in the airlines.  We’ve saved the airlines with $25 billion and another $25 billion.  And we have airlines that are now in good shape.  I mean, they — obviously, they’re going to pick up with the fares and with the seats.

But the airline industry is in good shape.  We’ve been able to save the airline industry which is — would’ve been devastating if that happened.  So they’re in good shape.

Thank you very much.


5:13 P.M. EDT