James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
5:25 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Thank you, everybody.
We’ve had a tremendous week uniting the country in our fight against the China virus. I have reminded people of the importance of masks when you can’t socially distance, in particular. A strong message has been sent out to young people to stop going to crowded bars and other crowded places.
Yesterday, we made the amazing announcement for our plans to protect nursing home residents. We’re working very hard on that. We’re doing very well all over the country. And also about contracting with Pfizer — we made a big, big, beautiful contract with Pfizer. We think they’re very close — but we have a lot of companies that are very close — to produce a vaccine.
And I wanted to come out again today to share some additional news with you: This afternoon, my political team came to me and laid out our plans for the convention in Jacksonville, Florida. It’s a place I love. I love that state. The drawings look absolutely beautiful. I never thought we could have something look so good, so fast with everything going on. And everything was going well — a tremendous list of speakers; thousands of people wanting to be there — and I mean, in some cases, desperately be there. They wanted to attend. People making travel arrangements all over the country; they wanted to be there. The pageantry, the signs, the excitement were really, really top of the line.
But I looked at my team, and I said, “The timing for this event is not right. It’s just not right with what’s happened recently — the flare up in Florida — to have a big convention. It’s not the right time.”
It’s really something that, for me — I have to protect the American people. That’s what I’ve always done. That’s what I always will do. That’s what I’m about.
They said, “Sir, we can make this work very easily. We have great enthusiasm. Incredible enthusiasm. Even the polls say about the most enthusiasm they’ve seen. We can do this safely, and we can do it responsibly.”
And I said, “There’s nothing more important in our country than keeping our people safe, whether that’s from the China virus or the radical-left mob that you see in Portland” — where I want to thank Homeland Security and others in law enforcement for doing a fantastic job over the last few days. They went in, and people were out of control for 51 days — a long time. And Homeland Security and other law enforcement with us went in, and they’ve done a great job protecting our property — the federal courthouse and other property — and, most importantly, protecting our people. Or the senseless violence that you see in Chicago or New York or Detroit — a lot of other cities where so many people are shot, and so many people are killed. And people elected me to help and to protect.
So, I told my team, “It’s time to cancel the Jacksonville, Florida, component of the GOP Convention.” We’ll be starting in North Carolina for the Monday, as has always been planned. We were never taking that off. That’s remaining as it is. The delegates are going to get together. That’s where they do their nomination. So, the delegates are going to North Carolina, and they’ll be doing the nomination. And we’re going to do some other things with tele-rallies and online — the week that we’re discussing, which will be really good. I think we’re going to do it well. And I’ll still do a convention speech in a different form, but we won’t do a big, crowded convention per se. It’s just not the right time for that.
I care deeply about the people of Florida and everywhere else, frankly, in this country — and even in the world — who would be coming into the state, and I don’t want to do anything to upset it. They’ll be doing very well very shortly. We’re going to put some maps up of the country behind me, and you’ll see that the area that we’re talking about is a hotspot. You will also see a lot of the country is — has no problem whatsoever — most of the country, actually. So I’m always going to take care of you, so that that’s the way we’re going to do it.
I’ve spoken to Governor DeSantis and informed other political leaders. I want to thank the Jacksonville community, and its great mayor. He’s a great — great guy. Really great guy. They wanted it so badly. And all of the other political representatives in Jacksonville and in Florida. And just very special people — a very special group. And they were there for us, 100 percent.
Today, I want to provide an update on the actions we’re taking to support the safe reopening of America’s schools. Parents around the world who have had their children home for the last few months have a greater appreciation for the fact that teachers are essential workers, that they’re essential to our children’s future. Our goal is to protect our teachers and students from the China virus while ensuring that families with high-risk factors can continue to participate from home. Very important.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has released guidance recommending that schools reopen. It said, quote:
“Lengthy time away from school and associated interruption of supportive services often results in [a] social isolation, making it difficult for schools to identify and address important learning deficits as well as child and adolescent physical [and] sexual abuse, substance use, depression, and suicidal ideation. This, in turn, places children and adolescents at considerable risk of morbidity and, in some cases, mortality. Beyond the educational impact and social impact of school closures, there has been [a] substantial impact on food security and physical activity for children and [for] families.”
So, that’s very important, and there’s a highway — it goes both ways.
The National Education Association recently stated, “Despite the momentous efforts of educators during the pandemic, online learning has never been an effective replacement for in-person learning and support.” Being at the school, being on the campus is very, very important.
One study estimates that, due to school closures last spring, the average student will begin the school year roughly 35 percent behind in reading compared to the typical year, and more than 50 percent behind in math. That’s a big statement.
According to McKinsey & Company, learning loss will probably be greatest among low-income black and Hispanic students. They’re the ones that are hit the hardest. We don’t want that happening.
Thirty million American students rely on schools for free and reduced meals. Over 70 percent of the students who receive mental health services do so through their schools. According to HHS, one in five reports allegedly, having to do with child abuse, they have neglect — and these are neglect and neglected cases are submitted by education personnel. So people in the education world, on the premises, will be the ones that report neglect and other problems when they see the children. They know if they’ve been neglected. They know if they’ve been hurt or harmed in any way, whether it’s at home or someplace else. But they see this at school. You don’t get to see that if you’re not going to school. It’s a big thing.
Fortunately, the data shows that children are lower risk from the China virus, very substantially. When children do contact the virus, they often have only very mild symptoms or none at all, and medical complications are exceedingly rare. Those that do face complications often have underlying medical conditions. Ninety-nine percent of all China virus hospitalizations are adults. And 99.96 percent of all fatalities are adults. That means that children are a tiny percentage — less than 1 percent, and even a small percentage of 1 percent.
In a typical year, the flu results in more deaths of those under 18 in the United States than have been lost thus far to the coronavirus. Many different names. Many, many different names.
The life of every child is sacred and must be protected. Our sole focus is the health and wellbeing of America’s children.
I have a very, very special person who loves children, who is — who is, I think, one of the greatest athletes of all time. A lot of people say “the greatest pitcher of all time.” Known as a “relief pitcher” who could have been whatever he wanted. Some people — he is the greatest reliever of all time, by far. Substantially more saves than anybody else. In fact, he got the Presidential Medal of Freedom recently.
And he — I’m reading off these stats. I knew he was the best. I knew he was great, but I didn’t know it was almost double anybody else. But he’s a man who loves children — has children, loves children, works hard with children. We’re going to go outside and be with some little leaguers. Mariano Rivera — you know, he’s the “Sandman,” right? My wife said, “Darling, why do they call him the ‘Sandman’?” I said, “You know, they play the song. He just puts the batters to sleep.” And that’s exactly what happened.
So, having Mariano here is a great honor. Thank you very much. He was talking about children in schools. And there’s nobody that’s done more than you have. Thank you very much, Mariano. Fantastic man.
Given these considerations, we believe many school districts can now reopen safely, provided they implement mitigation measures and health protocols to protect families, protect teachers, and to protect students. And we do have to protect the teachers and the families also; we have to remember that.
All families should be empowered to make the decision that is right for their own circumstance. This is especially important if a child has underlying health conditions or lives with a parent or grandparent who is at high risk.
In cities or states that are current hotspots — and you’ll see that in the map behind me — districts may need to delay reopening for a few weeks, and that’s possible. That’ll be up to governors. The decision should be made based on the data and the facts on the grounds in each community, but every district should be actively making preparations to open.
Again, the children obviously have a very strong immune system, maybe even as strong as yours. They seem to be able to fight it off and not have a problem. So, it’s pretty amazing actually. Great, great credit.
Our strategy to safely reopen schools mirrors our approach nationwide. As we race toward the completion of a vaccine and therapeutics, the responsible path is to shelter those at highest risk, while allowing those at lower risk — much lower, in the case of young children — to resume work and school and — as long as everyone practices vigilant hygiene and social distancing. We want that.
A permanent shutdown was never the strategy, which would ultimately lead to greater mortality and irreversible harms. We don’t want to do that.
At the same time, we have to get our economy going. We had tremendous numbers issued yesterday. Housing prices — pricing of housing up 21 percent. It’s the highest in history. It’s the highest number in history. Real estate housing went up 21 percent.
Today, the CDC will provide additional guidance for how schools can reopen safely. I hope that local leaders put the full health and wellbeing of their students first and make the right decision for children, parents, teachers, and not make political decisions. This isn’t about politics; it’s about something very, very important. This is not about politics. I even think it’s bad politics if you do the wrong decision. Very bad politics.
We’re asking Congress to provide $105 billion to schools as part of the next coronavirus relief bill. This funding will support mitigation measures, such as smaller class sizes, more teachers and teacher aides, repurposing spaces to practice social distancing, and crucially, mask-wearing. This money is in addition to the $30 billion we secured for schools and universities earlier this year. That money we have; some is distributed, and some is not distributed.
If schools do not reopen, the funding should go to parents to send their child to public, private, charter, religious, or homeschool of their choice. The key word being “choice.” If the school is closed, the money should follow the student so the parents and families are in control of their own decisions. So we’d like the money to go to the parents of the student. This way, they can make the decision that’s best for them.
We cannot indefinitely stop 50 million American children from going to school — harming their mental, physical, and emotional development. Reopening our schools is also critical to ensuring that parents can go to work and provide for their families.
The Council of Economic Advisers estimates that 5.6 million parents will be unable to return to work if schools do not reopen this year. That’s a tremendous problem. It’s a tremendous problem. Schools have to open safely, but they have to open.
More than a dozen European countries — as well as South Korea, Taiwan, and many others — have already reopened schools, and cases have not risen. We can achieve the same goal if we unite together, follow the best medical practices, and apply common sense.
We’ll continue to support states and cities in the current hotspots in the South, Southwest, and West. The governors — I know them all. They’re all very, very capable. They’re doing a very good job. They’re working so hard. You wouldn’t even believe it.
We have nearly 30,000 federal personnel deployed in the states that need assistance. We’re helping with doctors and nurses — medical personnel of all kinds. As a PPE update, we’re in close communication with governors and states.
We have supplies — everything they could possibly need. We’re very strong on supplies. Remember I used to say the cupboards were bare? Well, now the cupboards are the opposite.
Due to our historic efforts to increase both the National Stockpile and the state stockpiles, the vast majority of the states have 60 days’ worth of supplies on hand. And most importantly, they have ventilators — because the ventilators are very, very hard to come by, at least in the past. Now we’re making thousands of ventilators a month and supplying them, in many cases, to other countries.
For states that are making requests, we’re rapidly delivering. In the last 24 hours, FEMA has deployed more than 1.5 million masks upon request, 1.7 million gowns, and 600,000 — well, let me change that. We’ve created about 600,000 different supplies. We have 600 ventilators to Arizona, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Idaho, and Washington. I think the number is 600. We’ll go check that, and we’ll give it you in a little while. But we’ve — we’ve got a stockpile of thousands of ventilators. I think we’ve sent out about 600 just recently.
The United States has now conducted more than 51 million tests, which is more than any other country in the world, by far. Roughly half of the tests are either the rapid, point-of- care tests, which, frankly, solves a lot of problem in delay — 5 to 15 minutes, instead of waiting for service both ways, in both directions, and then at the lab. But roughly half of them now, which is a tremendous increase, are 5- to 15-minute tests or tests done in a hospital where you get the results back in less than a day — in some cases, immediately.
We’re continuing to surge testing to current ho- — hotspots, such as Miami and Phoenix, to detect those with the virus and take steps to stop from spreading it further.
This is a copy of the map, and this is a — you have it right behind me. That’s really very much indicating where the problems are. You see from — from that, it’s in great shape — lots of it. The Northeast has become very clean. The country is in very good shape, other than if you look South and West — some problems. That will all work out.
On therapies: We’ve worked with Florida to ensure that over 40,000 vials of remdesivir are arriving this week. That’s a lot. That’s a really — that’s a lot. They’re working around the clock to make it. It’s had a tremendous impact. We’ve also shipped thousands of vials to Arizona, California, and Texas over the past two weeks. Arizona is doing very well; it’s heading down. The numbers are heading down, I think, very quickly. The governor has done a great job. They’ve all done a great job. They’ve all done a great job. Working hard.
We’ll continue to monitor the areas rising and — with respect to cases. And we ask all Americans to exercise vigilance, practice social distancing, wear a mask, do whatever is necessary so we get rid of this horrible situation — this horrible disease that was sent to us by China.
It should not have been sent. They should have stopped it. They could have stopped it. They didn’t. And the entire world has gotten infected, and a lot of countries are going through a lot right now.
This morning, I spoke with President Putin of Russia, and they’re going through a very hard time with this — in Moscow, in particular. I spoke to the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. They’re doing well, but they’re going through a lot. Everybody is going through a lot.
Yesterday, I spoke to the heads of four different countries. All four are going through a lot. They’re going through a hard time.
This could have been stopped. It could have been stopped quickly and easily. But for some reason, it wasn’t, and we’ll figure out what that reason was.
So, with that, if you have any questions — please.
Q On the convention, were you simply not convinced that you could keep people safe at the convention?
THE PRESIDENT: I just felt it was wrong, Steve, to have people going to what turned out to be a hotspot. You know, when we chose it, it was not at all hot; it was free. And all of a sudden, it happened quickly. It happens quickly. And it goes away, and it goes away quickly. The key is, we want it to go away without a lot of death, without a lot of problems.
And we’re learning so much about the disease. That’s why we’re — we’re very cognizant of nursing homes — we’re watching them very carefully — and people over a certain age, and especially people over a certain age with diabetes or — or heart disease, in particular — but with a problem.
So, we didn’t want to take any chances. So we had a lot of people. We have — the delegates want to be there. We’re going to do a fairly reasonably quick meeting in North Carolina. The nomination will be produced. And then we’ll announce what we’re doing, how we’re doing it, whether it’s something that’s done online; I guess you could call it “online.” So, there can nothing — there can be nothing like our last convention, unfortunately. That was a great convention and in a great place, as you know. We had a — we had a great time — a great time in Cleveland.
But it’s a different world, and it will be for a little while. We want to get the world back to what it was, and I think we’ll have that, including great job numbers, including so many things that are happening so positive.
I have to say, the stock market is close to records. For Nasdaq, it is a record. It’s already exceeded its highest numbers. But we want to get our country back to what it was.
Q And so would your acceptance speech be from the White House? Are you worried that —
THE PRESIDENT: We haven’t set that yet, Steve. We’ll have that — we’ll probably announce that over the next few days.
Q Are you worried this might dampen enthusiasm for you?
THE PRESIDENT: Look, we’ve done a great job. We built the greatest economy in the world. Nobody close — not China, not anybody. We had to close it, we saved millions of lives, then we opened it. But we had the best numbers in history for African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, every group you want to name — young people without a diploma; young people with a high school diploma, with a college diploma. Anything you want to name, we had the best numbers. Women doing incredibly. Never — never been a time like that.
And we had to turn it off because of what China did. We had to turn it off. And then, all of the sudden — now we turn it back on, and we’re doing very well. But it was very bad.
China — speaking about China, the trade deal means less to me now than it did when I made it. When I made it, it was a great deal. But they’re — they’re setting records. Yesterday was a record corn day. They purchased more corn than any order ever, and that went on for two or three days. And soy beans and all. But it just means much less to me. Can you understand that? It just means much less to me.
Please, go ahead.
Q Thank you. What was the one thing — if there was one thing — that changed your mind about the convention? And did Florida officials ask you to cancel it?
THE PRESIDENT: No, they didn’t. We’re dealing with them, but they didn’t. I would just say safety. Just safety. I just — you know, I could see the media saying, “Oh this is very unsafe. This is…” I don’t want to be in that position. It’s safety — not because of the media, but that’s what they would say.
And we’ll have a very nice something; we’ll figure it out. It’ll be — it’ll be online, in some form. Maybe it’ll be something even a little bit different. We have time. You know, we’re talking about the end of August. But I think it’ll be something that will be exciting, but there can be nothing like having 25,000 people.
We had a tremendous thing planned in — and a tremendous convention planned in North Carolina. And it would have been very good, but a much smaller version in Florida. But then, we saw what was happening. Pretty quickly, we saw that — that the virus was coming up that coast.
Q Do you think it’s an acknowledgment of the severity of the situation in Florida?
THE PRESIDENT: No, I think it’s going to come and go. It will. I mean, you take a look at — some of these locations were heavily infected. I mean, to a point where — Deborah and I were talking that — you know, when you look at what happened in New York and what happened in New Jersey and other places. And now you’re looking, and it’s gone. I hope it stays gone. I think we — I think it will. But we had to be — we had to be — we have to be vigilant. We have to be careful.
And we also have to set an example. I think setting the example is very important. It’s hard for us to say we’re going to have a lot of people packed in a room, and then other people shouldn’t do it.
Don’t forget, we’re talking about schools. And we want them to be vigilant. And we’re saying, “Open.” And then we’re saying — here you have a big room. But I also — if you notice, I said, “Where bars are crowded, where other things are crowded…” Well, there’s nothing more crowded than a convention. A convention — I mean, you’ve seen them. And even though you try and keep people away from each other, it’s just not that kind of a thing. They probably can’t do that. It just doesn’t work for them. So it’s a very hard — so I think we’re setting an example by doing it. It’s very important.
Q Mr. President, if I can come back to school openings. You talked about money that Congress was looking at to help schools who want to reopen. If a school wants to reopen, but is concerned about testing, would you consider directing some of that money toward testing for either —
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah.
Q — a school district or even individual schools if that’s what it took to open the schools?
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah, I think so. I mean, I — a lot of people feel differently about testing. We talk about it a lot. When we have 50 million tests-plus, and — you know, we bra- — we broke the 50 million-test mark.
Second in the world is India, which has 1.4 billion people, and they had 12 million tests. And other countries that are very big had 2 million tests. And some countries essentially only test if you’re sick and walk into a hospital or walk into a doctor’s office or you’re literally really sick. They essentially don’t do tests unless you’re sick, and I understand that, too.
So, yeah, if they feel that that’s what they want, it’s — that would be fine.
Q You would — you would tell Congress — you would encourage Congress to pay for testing for school districts?
THE PRESIDENT: I would if they want. Again, we’ve done 50 million tests. There’s nobody even close in the whole world. You look at our mortality rate. You look at our death rate. You look at different statistics. We’re doing very well. But one death is too many. This should never have happened. This should never have been allowed to happen from China.
Q Also — also, Mitch McConnell’s office just put out a statement, a moment ago, about the phase four relief package, CARES II, saying, quote, it’s “tailored precisely for this phase of the crisis.” Yet, it does not include your payroll tax cut. So do you believe it’s perfectly tailored?
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah, I’d like to see a payroll tax cut. I think it’s great for the workers. The Democrats would never have gone for it. They don’t want it. They’re not big into the workers, I guess. And based on that, I told them last night — I told the Republicans, who have been working very hard on this, I’ll tell you — and they want what’s right for the country, and hopefully the Democrats ultimately will.
But I said, “I think a payroll tax will be good, but you’re not going to get it from the Democrats.” We need their votes, as you know. It’s not like — you know, we have a majority, but it’s not enough that we — that’s why I guess we have an election coming up. So you still need Democrat votes, and we’re not going to get the Democratic votes on that.
So I’d like to see it. I think it would be very good for the workers. But if we’re not going to get their votes, I guess we have to go on to the next thing. A payroll tax cut would have been very good. And maybe — maybe something happens.
Q You talk about setting an example on Jacksonville. But I — I just wonder: Some people are going to take away from this the lesson that you’re pushing too far, too fast. It seemed, for a while, the numbers were going up in Jacksonville, and you were going to have a problem there. This comes up at a time you’re pushing for schools to reopen, have the opening of the Major League Baseball season. Isn’t — isn’t the example of Jacksonville that we’re — we’re pushing too fast?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, baseball, as an example — we were discussing it a little while ago — you’re going to be at an empty stadium. I’ve agreed — Randy Levine is a great friend of mine from the Yankees, and he asked me to throw out the first pitch, and I think I’m doing that on August 15th at Yankee Stadium. And I say, “How’s the crowd going to be?” And, you know, it’s like you don’t have a crowd; there is no such thing.
It’s going to be interesting, Mariano. He’s not used to that. I’ve been at many games. He walks in; the place goes crazy. I think it’d be just as good without the crowd. You were just born with it, you know. Some people are born with it.
I don’t know if — this is only for the baseball players, but I’ve never seen a pitcher throw a ball where so many bats were broken as Mariano. He’s got the all-time record. I said, “How do you do that?” He said, “Parents.” Great parents, when you get right down to it. Right? “How do you do that?” It’s called parents.
Q (Inaudible) baseball, but the question —
THE PRESIDENT: But — but —
Q — the question really is —
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah, I just — just to finish, I think — I think that we have to all set examples. I think Major League Baseball is setting the example by, you know, playing to empty stadiums, and so are other sports. You see that. Now, then they’ll allow a certain number in. I see golf is now — soon will be allowing people to come in, in percentages. And all of a sudden, we want to get back to normal.
The key is to get back to normal, because nobody wants to see this. But I think it’s really good that baseball is opening. It looks like football is opening. It looks like sports are opening. We — we have — it’s a tremendous thing, psychologically, for our country.
And we’re all — we’re all, whether we’re se- — we’re going to see right now some beautiful, young Little Leaguers outside with a great future ahead of them. They’re already practicing on the front lawn of the White House, and we’re going to go out and say hello to them, and it’ll be really great.
Okay, how about one more? Yeah, please. Go ahead.
Q President Trump, the Washington Post, earlier today, reported that one thing holding up the GOP coronavirus bill is the White House asking that it include language regarding the FBI building in downtown Washington, D.C. Is that true?
THE PRESIDENT: I don’t know that they’re putting it in this bill, but I know they want to have a new FBI building. This one is very old, and it’s really — it was never built to a very high standard, as you probably have heard. And it’s got a lot of danger involved and panels falling off the outside and pieces of concrete falling off the building.
And they want to build it at the site that they have it. They had options very far away from Washington. And I said to him, “Frankly, you have to be near the Justice Department.” There’s nothing better than the site. The site they have now is better. But they were looking in sites in Maryland and Virginia, in different places, but they would’ve been too far away.
So I am — I’ve been encouraging them to build it. And if you’re going to — you have a choice: You can renovate the existing building — but it’s not a good building — or you could take it down and build a great building for the FBI for 100 years and have it be incredible. Even with tracks on top, they’re talking about — you know, we have — because FBI people like to work out a lot. And you could have, literally, quarter-mile tracks on top. It’s a very big site, a very wide site.
So I think the idea — the best idea would be to build a new building. And that way, you have it for a long time. Renovation can never be as good as a new building, in that case. I know they’re talking about it, whether or not they put it in this bill or someplace else. But the FBI needs a new building, and we’ll get it done.
Thank you all very much. Thank you. Thank you very much.
5:56 P.M. EDT