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State Dining Room

May 29, 2020
4:54 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  All right.  Thank you very much.  Appreciate it.  I want to express our nation’s deepest condolences and most heartfelt sympathies to the family of George Floyd.  A terrible event.  Terrible, terrible thing that happened.

I’ve asked that the Department of Justice expedite the federal investigation into his death and do it immediately, do it as quickly as absolutely possible.  It’s a local situation, but we’re also making it into a federal situation.  And it’s — it’s a terrible thing.  We all saw what we saw, and it’s very hard to even conceive of anything other than what we did see.  It should never happen.  It should never be allowed to happen, a thing like that.

But we’re determined that justice be served.  And I spoke to members of the family.  Terrific people.  And we’ll be reporting as time goes by.  We think that we also have to make the statement, and it’s very important that we have peaceful protesters and support the rights for peaceful protesters.  We can’t allow a situation like happened in Minneapolis to descend further into lawless anarchy and chaos.  And we understand that very well.

It’s very important, I believe, to the family, to everybody that the memory of George Floyd be a perfect memory.  Let it be a perfect memory.  The looters should not be allowed to drown out the voices of so many peaceful protesters they hurt so badly.  What is happening — and it’s so bad for the state and for that great city.

So we are working very closely with the Justice Department.  We’re working with local law enforcement.  We’re working with everybody.  And we’re speaking with the family, and hopefully everything can be fairly taken care of.  I understand the hurt.  I understand the pain.  People have really been through a lot.  The family of George is entitled to justice, and the people of Minnesota are entitled to live in safety.  Law and order will prevail.

The Americans will honor the memory of George and the Floyd family.  It’s very important to us.  It’s very important to me to see that everything is taken care of properly.  It’s a horrible, horrible situation.  And so we’ll be reporting back in due course and as quickly as possible.

I’m pleased to welcome American industry leaders to the White House as we continue to safely reopen America.  We’re glad to be joined by Geoff Ballotti of Wyndham Hotel and Resorts.  Wyndham Hotels have been really a terrific company over the years.  Brian Goldner of Hasbro; David Hoffmann of Dunkin’ Brands; Gary Kelly of Southwest Airlines.  Really good jobs they’ve done.  Rodney McMullen of Kroger.  Thanks, Rodney.  Oscar Munoz of United.  Thank you, Oscar.  United Airlines.  Brad Smith of Microsoft.  That stock has done very well, I will say.  Great job.  Great job.  Sonia Syngal of Gap.  And — thank you very much.

Also with us are Secretary of Treasury Steve Mnuchin and Secretary of Labor Gene Scalia.

Our nation continues to mourn for the lives claimed by the virus and grieve for the families who have lost loved ones.  We continue to battle the invisible enemy.  We’re directing the full resources and support of the federal government to safeguard high-risk populations, especially in nursing homes.  We’ve been a very powerful strategy on nursing homes for quite a while.  The best strategy for public health is to aggressively protect the most vulnerable while allowing younger and healthier Americans to work safely.

Nationwide hospitalizations, new cases, and deaths are all declining.  We’re tracking cases and hospitalizations daily, and states are demonstrating their ability to rapidly identify and contain new outbreaks.  Our testing is the best in the world.  We’ve now surpassed 15 million tests, which is much more than any other country by a factor of many times.  We’ve completed over 15 million, and that is — I think we can say that’s a record by a lot.

And we’re going to give you a big report on testing tomorrow.  We have new tests coming out that are above and beyond anything that anybody would have thought even possible just a couple of months ago.

In many places, we’ve had more tests available than people seeking them.  Florida and others have said that they have testing and they don’t have enough people to take the tests.  So we’ve come a long way.  We started with an empty cupboard.  We didn’t have a lot that we inherited.  And we are — I think, really, they’ve stepped up to the plate on ventilators, on tests, and on equipment and gowns and everything else, gloves.  If you look at masks, everybody has masks now.

To maintain the health and safety of our society, we must also maintain the health of our economy.  There’s a reason why our nation’s life expectancy is closely correlated with economic development.  A never-ending shutdown would increase, not reduce, the total loss of life in the United States, while failing to focus resources on the most vulnerable.

We’ve made a lot of progress in terms of the invisible enemy.  A lot of progress.  A lot of things have happened that have taught us a lot.  Nobody has ever seen anything like this, and there certainly hasn’t been anything like since over a hundred years — 1917.

I want to thank all of these great companies for being here and representing their company and themselves and our country so well.  We’re going to be having a discussion with the companies as to suggestions they have.  We think we’re going to have a very strong opening, which has just started, really.

We had the greatest economy in history of any country, not just ours.  The greatest in history.  We had the best employment numbers that we’ve ever had.  We’ve had the best numbers in every way, whether it’s the biggest tax cuts, the greatest regulation cuts of any president.  Nobody has even come close.

We’ve rebuilt our military.  We have the strongest military we’ve ever had.  New equipment coming in all the time; a lot of it already arrived.  And very importantly, all made in the USA.  And so many other things.

You look at what we’ve done for the vets with Choice and Accountability — the combination.  They weren’t able to get that done for over 40 years.  And we got them both approved.  Right to Try, got it approved.  We’ve done so much, and then we had to turn it all off in order to be in a position where we are right now.

Numbers were estimated to be two million deaths, one and a half million deaths, maybe one million, but it could have been over two million and maybe substantially over.  Unfortunately, one is too many.  It should’ve been stopped.  It could’ve been stopped in China.  It should’ve been stopped in China, but it didn’t stop.  And the world got infected, and it’s very sad — a very sad thing.  But we turned off the greatest economy ever, and we turned it off very quickly, very rapidly.  We banned people coming in from China early — very early.  In fact, most people said, “Don’t do it.”  Even a month later, they were saying, “You shouldn’t have done it.”  And we turned out to be right.

But we have — we have now a long way to go, but we’re getting very good early numbers, as everyone knows.  The stock market has been doing very well because people have a lot of confidence.  We’re doing very well on therapeutics.  We’re doing very well on vaccines.  I think we’re going to have some very good answers soon.

And we’re set up, logistically, with our military.  Our military is set to move and to act so that when — I think I can say “when” — we have that vaccine — I think I can say it with pretty good surety, based on what we’re seeing — that rather than taking long periods of time and bringing it out slowly, we’re able to bring it out very, very quickly.

So we have a general in charge of logistics — that’s what he does, and he’s supposed to be the best — usually moving soldiers and moving various things for other reasons, but now he’s going to be moving vaccines or therapeutics, depending on what ultimately ends up.

But we’re doing very well on vaccines.  We’re doing very, very well on therapeutics.  And maybe I could use the word “cure,” as opposed to purely therapeutic.

So I want to thank everybody for being here.  We have a lot of positive things to report.  You see some of the numbers coming out with some of the states that have been — have been opened.  And some of the numbers have been really, really beyond expectation.  So we’re very happy.

And I think what we’ll do is we’ll go around the room quickly, and we’ll say a few things about any ideas you might have, your company — how well you’ve done with your companies.  And might as well give it a little build-up.  You have plenty of firepower back here.

So, please.  Maybe you’d start.  Thank you.

MS. SYNGAL:  Well, great.  Thank you, Mr. President.  I’m honored to be here today, representing Gap, Inc. and working with all of you to safely open our stores, which is very important for us right now.

I have the honor of running America’s largest clothing company.  Gap, Inc. had over $16 billion in revenue last year, and we house four-billion-dollar brands, between Old Navy, Athleta, Banana Republic, and our namesake Gap.  And Old Navy is the second-largest apparel brand in the U.S.

THE PRESIDENT:  Wow.  That’s great.

MS. SYNGAL:  So, you know, we have serviced American families for our 51 years, and we — these brands represent the best of American values.  And we’re anxious to get going and anxious to open up the economy.

We have 2,500 stores here in the U.S., and we’ve begun the opening process.  You know, prior to COVID, we had over a million American customers walking through our doors every day.


MS. SYNGAL:  And so when we shut in March, we lost 70 percent of our sales overnight.  And we reacted very quickly.  We had to make really big, unfortunate decisions to furlough employees and to retrench.

We did have a very strong and powerful ecommerce business, so we’re the second-largest ecom player for apparel, and that’s really kept us going, along with our fulfillment centers.  We have five big campuses across the U.S.  And so that’s been great.  We have, you know, over 100,000 employees that we’re anxious to really bring back to work.

We — you know, we’ve developed these safe shopping protocols with industry leaders in retail, and we feel really good about them.  We’re anxious to reopen our stores with these protocols and have been excited about what’s happening so far as we’ve opened.  Our employees feel safe, our customers feel safe, and they’re coming back to shop with us.

And so we are committed to opening at least 800 stores this month.


MS. SYNGAL:  And so we’re on track for that.  In fact, we’re a little ahead of that, but it feels good.  And as customers come in, you know, they’ll have new protocols, social distancing, masks, and cleaning, et cetera.


MS. SYNGAL:  So it’s going to, you know, create trust, and everyone is responding really well.  I visited our stores in Virginia last night, and I visited our stores in Texas and Arizona, California, over the last couple of weeks, and our customers are thrilled to be back, our employees are thrilled to be back.

In fact, one of our — our store managers came up to me and burst into tears, thanking — thanking me for giving her her job back.


MS. SYNGAL:  You know, it’s a really, very important thing.  And as much as the government has helped, our employees want to be back.  So, that feels great.

One in four Americans work in retail, as you know.  So this is now my time to ask what we need.  And during this closure process, half of retail stayed open and half of retail has been shut.  So we’ve really created this lack of level playing field — you know, the haves and have-nots.

You know, as we look forward and as we think about a possibility of a resurgence or something, we must stay committed to these safe retailing protocols, and really stay there and work through any future issues with that so we can have an equal playing field.

So I look forward to working with you.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, Sonia.

MS. SYNGAL:  And Secretary Mnuchin has been fantastic to work with, so —

THE PRESIDENT:  That’s good.  He’s done a great job.  Thank you, Sonia.  Appreciate it.


SECRETARY MNUCHIN:  Thank you, Mr. President.  I really want to thank everybody.  And, Sonia, thank you for all the work you’ve done, and everyone else.

I do want to just particularly thank Gary and Oscar.  As part of the CARES Act, we’ve worked with both of you and the rest of the airline industry.

I know many of the businesses here have been hit very hard, but the travel industry in particular, and we appreciate everything you’ve done with us.  Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.

Oscar, please.

MR. MUNOZ:  That’s a heck of a lead-in.  Thank you as well.  Thank you.  The CARES Act was great and everybody that was involved.  Larry, you were terrific, as well, in the waning moments.

You know our story, so I won’t belabor it.  I have two slides — really one — just to give you a sense of the things that we’re doing.

One of the most conversed con- — conversed discussions going: Are airplanes safe?  Is flying safe?  And I think that’s of paramount importance.  We’ve always been one of the, if not the safest industry in the world.  And so some of the things that we’re doing are on this chart.

And it’s simply everything you think: hydrostatic testing that disinfects; wiping everything down; the wearing of masks for everyone — we were one of the first to be able to do that.  You know, touchless aspects.  You know, our customers get a chance to sit — choose where they sit.

The HEPA filters on our aircraft.  I think it’s important for the flying public to understand: These HEPA filters are hospital-grade filters that remove 99.7 percent of particles in the air.  The combination of the filter and the mask that we’re wearing should completely eliminate, to a great degree, the (inaudible) if we practice all the other things.

And so we’re working through all of that.  But, again, it feels like we’re always talking into the wind with regards to that, so we took it a step further and have partnered with different people — Clorox, in particular.  Right?  It’s a brand name that speaks of powerful disinfectant, and that branding aspect gives it a little bit of a sense.

And then we went a step further and used Mayo Clinic — or Cleveland Clinic — I apologize — to guide us and direct us.  Here are the things that we’re planning on doing.  Is that meaningful?  It’s like having Ambassador Birx at our side to sort of support those things.  So those are the things that we’re doing with regards to our safety.

On the next chart, your question is: How do we — how do we restart the economy?  So if I could get the next chart please.

The first one is obvious, and I think we’ve all been talking in the business community.  It isn’t just about airlines flying; people have to go someplace and fly somewhere, right?  The hotels of the world; you know, the hospi- — I mean, the restaurants; the theme parks — all of that has be collectively.

And I think everything we do as a business and as a government is to ensure that we take everybody into an account — into account and not forget the fact that the airlines are only part of it.  And so that’s an important part.

And then, again, from a health perspective, I don’t know that there’s another nation that has more powerful pull back to branding than the U.S.  And anything that comes out of the U.S. is going to be accepted.

So thank you for the efforts.  Ambassador, it was wonderful — those conversations.

And then, lastly, this is the big ask from our perspective: You know, we are global.  We fly over 60 countries.  And this isn’t a China question; this is just a general aspect of — when the world restarts to fly, it’s historically every government, every country will have its own regulatory scheme to start flying.  That is called patchwork.  That is not harmonization.

In order to get the economy going and flying, from a perspective of the entire planet, it’s important that we work with your teams to get that harmonization and avoid patchwork.


MR. MUNOZ:  So, thank you again for everything.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, Oscar.  I appreciate it.  You’ve been very much a factor in what we’ve done.  You’ve been really helpful.  We appreciate it.

Larry Kudlow, please.

MR. KUDLOW:  Thank you, sir.  Thanks to everybody who has come here and worked with us.  And I hope everything continues apace.

You know, I — we’d try to follow — Kevin Hassett and I try to follow these high-frequency economic indicators, and my little list is growing.  I’ll just rattle it off because things — as things open safely — I say that because Deb is here — truckloads, freight shipping, air travel, hotel bookings, TSA travelers all starting to shoot up.  They’re really green shoots.

You mentioned the stock market, sir, which has done very well.  Apple mobility, gasoline demand, tremendous housing demand, applications for mortgages, and so forth are actually now pre-pandemic levels again with low interest rates.

And we had a number today from the income report: The saving rates, sir, is 33 percent for the month of April — 33 percent — which is to say, we’ve given them a lot of income.  Government income has boosted things — liquidity, cash, and so forth.  Steven’s great efforts on Capitol Hill.  And, of course, the stores have been closed; they have nowhere to spend.  So they’re saving at a 33 percent rate.  That’s almost 10 times the norm.

So, that — my final point — as we open and as the stores open, we are going to see a boom in spending —

THE PRESIDENT:  I think so.

MR. KUDLOW:  — and at the stores.


MR. KUDLOW:  A boom.

THE PRESIDENT:  I think we’re starting to see it.

MR. KUDLOW:  Yes, sir.

THE PRESIDENT:  I think you’re going to be very — people going to be very surprised.  We’re going to have a great third quarter, a great fourth quarter.  I think next year is going to be one of our better years.  So, that’s really great.  Thank you very much, Larry.

MR. KUDLOW:  Yes, sir.

THE PRESIDENT:  So, Jay Clayton is the head of the SEC — Securities and Exchange Commission — and he’s done a fantastic job.  And I thought, maybe, I’d invite him up.  And you could say a few words, if you’d like, Jay.

CHAIRMAN CLAYTON:  Thank you, Mr. President.  What I’m going to say is I appreciate the information that your companies have given us today.  Investors want to understand the operational and financial challenges you’re facing.  The more they understand them, whether they’re good or bad — the more your plans are solid for overcoming them, the more confidence they have, and our markets work better.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank Secretary Mnuchin and our friends at the Fed for the way they have supported our markets through this uncertain time.  And I really want to thank the many companies who’ve been very candid with their disclosure about where they stand.  That’s what our investors expect, and I think you’ve done a terrific job giving our investors what they expect.  And I look forward to continuing to work with you.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much, Jay.  Thank you.

Southwest Airlines, what a great company.  Go ahead.

MR. KELLY:  Well, thanks, Mr. President.  It’s a pleasure to be here on behalf of all the Southwest people.  And my name is Gary Kelly.  And again, I want to thank you.  I want to thank Secretary Mnuchin.

The CARES Act was exactly what we needed.  The speed and the scope were just absolutely breathtaking.  Before the markets were closed and after that, the markets opened up — and we’ve been able to do a significant amount of financing.  So, thank you.  It was — it was just the right thing for our economy.

I’ll just mirror — echo what several have already said, in terms of the business.  We got down to about 2 percent of the normal traffic volumes, and are up well beyond that, thank goodness.  We’re not there, but I’ll take 15 percent, as opposed to two.  So, we’ve got a long way to go, but the trends are in the right direction.

I think what is important is to make sure that our employees and our customers know that it is safe.  And that is our number one priority: to make sure that we have a healthy and safe environment.  Again, I’ll echo a lot of what Oscar has already covered.  But we published the Southwest Promise in early May, and it addresses cleaning of the airport, deep cleaning of the airplane.  We require a mask of our customer-facing employees, as well as our customers.  We are not booking the airplanes full, so that the middle seats are open to allow for physical distancing.  And it’s a layered approach.

The one thing that we would like to see, and I know that the administration is looking very carefully at this, is to add a health screening at the TSA checkpoint.  I think a temperature check like we had today coming into the White House would be very sensible —


MR. KELLY: — along with a health declaration.  And we’re working closely with the TSA on that point.

I think — beyond that, I think ongoing tax burden reduction would be very helpful in terms of ticket taxes.  I know we’ve got a ticket tax holiday for 2020.  As sales begin to pick up and airlines begin to get back on their feet, that could be something worth looking at.

And I think for all of us, some sensible form of liability protection, which I know is also a topic that would make great sense.

But we applaud all that the administration is doing.  I think the key, indeed, is to get treatments for when people are sick, number one, so that they’re confident that they will quickly get back on their feet.  And then, number two, ultimately getting a vaccine.  When that happens, I think that things will absolutely take off.

Lastly, again, I wanted to thank you all for the support with a Payroll Support Program.  We’ve never had a furlough or a layoff or a pay cut in our history at Southwest, and we sure don’t want to have that now.  So, thank you, again, and we’re going to fight the good fight here.

THE PRESIDENT:  And thank you, Gary.  Great job you do, for a long time.  Thank you very much.

Deborah, please.

DR. BIRX:  Thank you, Mr. President.  We’ve made amazing progress together with the American people and with you all.  As you heard, the President described new hospitalizations are down month over month by 50 percent.  Mortality — the fatalities that we all grieve are down significantly, week over week.

We’re excitingly really finding governors and mayors being able to respond to the epidemic in a new way: proactive testing, finding new cases, contact tracing, and stopping outbreaks.  We’re seeing that over and over again, county by county, metro by metro.

I think we’re working with all of the healthcare providers, because just as we want to open up America safely, we want to make sure every American has access to healthcare.  We want to see our babies immunized.  We want to see them at their well-baby checkups.  We want to see pregnant women cared for in their appointments.  And we want to see the hospitals back, caring for people, and doing elective surgery, and ensuring people are getting their cancer screenings.

So as we open up the economy, we also want to assure the Americans are not only COVID-free, but have all their healthcare taken care of.

THE PRESIDENT:  So you’re seeing much improved numbers?

DR. BIRX:  Much improved numbers.  And I think this proactive testing — having enough tests available not only for diagnosing at the hospitals and clinic, but having an abundance of testing available to really be able to do what we talk about is proactive surveillance.  Going into nursing homes and then testing 100 percent of the residents, 100 percent of the workers; working in food processing plants to test everyone that is there and really stopping outbreaks before they start.

This asymptomatic piece is a — is unique among diseases.  And we have that in HIV; we have it in this — in this particular respiratory disease.  And so you have to test proactively to find the asymptomatic.

No one intends to infect others; they just don’t know they’re infected themselves.  And so, working with states and governors and mayors to really set up those testing sites has really been extraordinary.  And having a testing available at that level — I think we’re about 350-, 400,000 tests today.  We’re up to having tested 5 percent of every American in less than two months.

THE PRESIDENT:  That’s fantastic.  That’s great.  I wish the press would report it.  But someday they will.  Someday they’re going to do that.  Thank you very much, Deborah.  I appreciate it.  A lot of progress has been made.  Great job you’re doing.  Thank you.


MR. GOLDNER:  Hi, Mr. President.  I’m Brian Goldner with Hasbro.  And thank you for your leadership and for working closely with the private sector to reopen the American economy.  You may know that Hasbro is a nearly 100-year-old, Rhode Island-based play and entertainment company with brands like Monopoly, Transformers, Play-Doh, Peppa Pig, and Nerf.  And it’s really an honor to be here today.

It’s also an incredible honor to see how our brands are resonating with consumers.  More people getting together and connecting and playing with games and brands like Play-Doh as they spend time together.  We were talking as we were coming together today just how people are making new connections.  And we’re very excited about that.  And then the reopening of the economy.

And I also have to thank you for the partnership that we’ve had over time with Director Kudlow, and it’s great to get the support that we’ve seen from Secretary Mnuchin as well.

You know, from health screenings, to interactive handbooks, safe return to the office, safe social distancing, staggering shifts in our warehouses and factory floors, we are safely reopening U.S. businesses.

If we could go to the next slide.

We’ve worked closely with governors in our region — the Rhode Island governor, Raimondo, and the Massachusetts governor Baker — to design safe reopening guidelines.  I’m especially proud of our Hasbro safety folks and operations.  We’ve set a standard in our factories and warehouse operations across the country for consumer goods manufacturers.  In fact, we’re training other consumer goods manufacturers to help them open safely in the U.S., from Massachusetts to Texas.

So, again, I’m very pleased to be here. I’m very proud of our employees.  They’re all very excited about getting back to work.  And we’ve been working all along.  And as our factories closed down during certain times over the last few months, our teams came together to make face shields in our factories — 50,000 a week — to give —

THE PRESIDENT:  That’s right.

MR. GOLDNER:  — to healthcare workers.  And we’ve made good use of those factories.  And we’re now happy to see them back up and running.  And so thank you again.  And thank you for your leadership.

THE PRESIDENT:  Great job, Brian.  That’s really great.

MR. GOLDNER:  Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT:  We appreciate that too.  Thank you very much.

MR. HOFFMANN:  Hi.  Thank you, Mr. President.  And great to be here.  Thank you to the team — your leadership team as well.  And look, I’m here representing our great franchisees for both brands, Dunkin’ and Baskin.  I don’t think a lot of people realize that we’re 100 percent franchised, and so big brand names powered by small, independent business owners.

And we’ve got a — we’ve got a saying in the company that we think we’ve been “getting America running” for nearly 70 years.  And when this crisis hit, it was about keeping the communities running, but it was also about getting America working again.

And so we’ve been guided by one simple principle — on the next slide — that we’ve been talking about is, it’s been about doing the right thing in the communities we serve.  And 90 percent of our restaurants have remained open during the crisis.  We’ve rallied around that mantra of “people over profits,” and doing the right thing there.  And look, we’re very proud that we didn’t have to furlough or do layoffs during all of that.

And look, our great franchisees, I’m really proud of the work that they’ve been doing in the communities they serve.  They live in these communities.  They’re proud to be there.  They serve probably coffee, doughnuts, ice cream to over 300 hospitals; they continue to do that.  They raised $1.5 million for food banks, including the Capitol Food Bank here in our backyard here in D.C. as well.

And so, as somebody said, we’re starting to see a lot of hope and optimism in our business today.  We’re seeing really good signs of encouraging green shoots right now.  We’re working with the franchisees, again, to get America working again, looking at a really aggressive hiring campaign over the summer.

But I’d say it’s three areas that we focused on that was really a good north star for us.  And the first was, we got in early on a lot of the safety measures, making investments in safety measures as brand standards across both brands.

But for us and brands like Dunkin’ and Baskin, our mission is to give the consumer as many ways to access your brand on their terms.  We know there’s a lot of consumers out there that have varying levels of comfort in terms of what’s going on right now.  So whether it’s drive-through, curbside, pickup windows, delivery — you’ll hear a lot about digital today as well — giving the consumer as many options, as many choices to access your brand is important.

And I think the last thing — I’ll repeat what a few other people have said — thank you to you and your administration and the federal government for the PPP program.  That has really allowed us to keep our franchisees standing up, allowed them to continue to serve the communities and keep America working.

And my ask in all of this would be, the second round — second version of this that sailed through the House, the flexibility plan on PPP, I’m just hoping that, you know, it’s — it sails through cleanly and gets to your desk to be signed because that’s another great example of helping small, independent business owners, like our franchisees, keep America working right now.

So thank you for your consideration.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, David, very much.

MR. HOFFMANN:  Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT:  Appreciate it.

MR. MCMULLEN:  Thank you, President Trump.  And I really appreciate the invitation to talk about reopening businesses in America.  My name is Rodney McMullan.  I’m the chairman and CEO of Kroger.  I represent over 500,000 associates, and we’ve hired over 100,000 people over the last two months.  And, you know, our job is to keep our supply chain operating — fresh, affordable food and essentials.  And we operate 2,800 stores, 35 manufacturing plants, 44 distribution facilities.

If you look at our associates, we’ve invested over $800 million in safety procedures and rewards for our associates over the last eight, nine weeks.  Obviously, we all do everything we can to make sure we keep our employees safe and — on a daily basis.

If you look at our customers, we have 11 million people a day that come into our stores.  So, the things that we’re doing to protect our employees, we’re also doing the same thing to protect our customers.

We use every available way of trying to remind customers on social distancing: limiting the number of people in the stores;  we have an in-store radio network that, every 15 minutes, we remind people of, you know, social distancing.  But everything that we can do, we’re trying to remind people to stay safe and do things.

We also are supporting our business and continuing to make sure that we have a viable, strong business over time and supporting the communities that we operate in.

Over the last year, working with local food banks, we’ve been able to provide, over — over the last three years, over a billion meals with local food banks.  And it’s something that — you know, in the United States, no one should have to go to bed tonight hungry.  We have so many resources as a country, and together we can eliminate food waste.  And when we eliminate food waste, we can make sure that no one goes to bed hungry.

Obviously, it was one of the things that we thought it would be helpful to pay forward.  As a company that’s operated throughout the pandemic, we’ve learned a lot.  And one of the things you’ll learn is: Be agile and move quickly, and if you think you should do something, you probably should do it.

With that, we developed a 59-page blueprint that we made public, and we’ve shared it.  And I know — the other day, I was on the “Today Show,” and they asked me like four times, “Why would you do that?”  And one of the things that was incredibly helpful for us is other retailers across the world that were in front of us, from the pandemic standpoint — was nice enough to share their learnings with us.  And we thought it was only fair and appropriate for us to share our learnings with others.

We’ve had over 100,000 site visits on that.  We’ve had over 26,000 individuals and companies download that.  We get a ton of notes from small companies, in terms of their appreciation.

You know, if you look at all the companies in this room, we have a lot of resources.  But if you think about somebody with 50 employees or 100 employees or 200 employees, the resources they have is just not the same as us.  So sharing that across is been something that’s been important and it’s a real pleasure to represent all the Kroger associates and being able to help America get started again.

So, thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, Rodney, very much.  And thank you for all the help too.  You’ve been right from the beginning.  Appreciate it.

MR. MCMULLEN:  I’m happy to.  Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.

Kevin, please.

MR. HASSETT:  Thank you, sir.  Sir, I think that you can sense the optimism around the room that businesses — really, a cross-section of American businesses collected here are getting back to work.  And I think this cross-section is extraordinarily representative of what we’re seeing all around America.

And, as Larry mentioned, as you know — and as you require us, we watch every little detail of the economy every day.  And there are now 27 states — 27 states where more than 75 percent of the businesses are open.  That was almost none a few weeks ago.

THE PRESIDENT:  That’s great.  That’s great.

MR. HASSETT:  And there are 28 states where 80 percent of the workforce is back to work.

And so the question then becomes — and it’s last thing I’ll say — that the people in this room are saying, “Yes, but will we have demand for our product?”

And what we learned today in the personal income report that Larry said is, because you required historic policy action, we got money to people who needed it while they were laid off.  Because of big unemployment insurance checks and because of the $1,200 checks that we mailed people, they have the income — now that the economies are starting again — to go out and demand product.  And so we’re very, very bullish on what’s going on with the restart, sir.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much, Kevin.  Appreciate it.

MR. BALLOTTI:  Mr. President, thank you, on behalf of 7,000 small-business owners.  Wyndham Hotels & Resorts is the world’s largest franchiser — great state of New Jersey.

And we have — if I could have the first slide up — remarkably remained open throughout this crisis.  Much like Dave and Dunkin’, our hotels here in the United States really never closed.  We were — we were serving frontline workers.  We were serving the National Guard emergency workers.

And — and a large part of that had to do — if I could have the next slide — to the support that — and we really have to — the industry has to call out Secretary Mnuchin.  And he — you’ve been there for us all along.  You’ve listened to us.  The PPP act has been monumental.  Ninety-five percent of our franchisees have applied for either a PPP or an EIDL loan.  And we estimate, from the surveys that we’re hearing back, that 80 percent of them have received one of those.  And they view it as — as an absolute lifeline.

So, as what Dave said is most important — this is going to be a long recovery, even though we’ve remained open — the most important thing for our franchisees is — is seeing this — this amendment to the 75/25 rule, which — which is in the bill.  Seeing the expansion of that loan term from two years to five years.  I mean, that’s — that’s critical for our small-business owners.

And extending, as the Secretary and I were talking earlier, our ability to — to rehire those employees that we have had to furlough, to be able to bring them back, not have it expire on June 30, but have that continue till the end of the year is — is critical for us.

We also think the idea of a temporary travel tax to spur leisure travel is important, and we know the administration is in — in favor of that.  And bringing back the full deductibility of necessary business expenses to spur business travel would be very, very helpful to opening — opening our — our country up again.

Because as — as Oscar said, as Gary said, just as planes are safe, hotels are safe.  They’re safe because we’ve been safe throughout this crisis with — with, again, 90 percent of our hotels operating at low occupancy.  Demand is coming back, but we need — we need those consumers to feel safe.

And we just thank you for everything that you and the Secretary and Congress is doing on — on this industry’s behalf because it’s going to be a tough road back.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, it’s going away, but I think we’ll have vaccines, and I think we’re going to have therapeutics, and maybe even beyond that.  Maybe a cure.  And it won’t be in the long distance.  So I — I really think that’s going to be helpful.  And regardless, it’s going away, but that would certainly speed up the process.  So we appreciate it, Geoff.  Thank you very much.


SECRETARY SCALIA:  Thank you.  Thank you, Mr. President.  Thank you for bringing together so many great companies — different companies, different sectors of the economy that have — some that have been affected really very different ways during the pandemic: some able to stay open, some really having great difficulty doing it.

But one thing we’ve heard today, and we had conversations earlier before the meeting got underway: I think all of them are very, very focused on safety — safety of their customers, safety of their employees.  I don’t think there’s been a time when American businesses have been as focused on safety as — as they are right now.  And that’s a great thing for bringing customers back, bringing workers back.

It’s — it’s been a focus of ours at the Labor Department, actually, since January.  We’ve tried to help American workers through this crisis in so many different ways.  But as early as January, we were helping providing guidance, guidelines to businesses.  We’ve now put out guidelines to 16 different specific industries on how they can reopen safely.

We’ll continue to do that so that companies understand what’s expected of them, can have confidence in what they need to do, and — and same for workers.  And — and we’re mindful that not every company is going to focus the right way on these things.  So we’ll continue to respond to employee concerns, complaints as they come in.

As Larry and Kevin said, Mr. President, we — we’ve turned a corner.  We put out unemployment numbers yesterday showing that, for the first time since February, the number of people on unemployment dropped.  And — and that’s — that’s great that the number filing is still much higher than we want.

THE PRESIDENT: That’s a — that’s a good sign.  That’s a good sign, isn’t it?

SECRETARY SCALIA:  We — we’ve turned the corner, Mr. President.


SECRETARY SCALIA:  And — and we’ll get back there to that extraordinary economy that you built so recently, and we’re going to do it safely.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, Gene, very much.

A man who’s done a very good job — Microsoft.  That’s a good job they’ve done, Deborah, right?  Thank you very much.

MR. SMITH:  Well, thank you, Mr. President.  And, you know, I just think this is a fascinating conversation because it really shows how each industry is unique.  And as an economy, we need to meet the needs of every industry and put the economy together.

You know, not surprisingly, when you’re in a business, and you’re in a sector that creates the tools that people can use to work from home, it’s not difficult to have your own employees work from home.  And that’s what we’ve been doing.

But I think our mission in this first phase has really been much broader than that.  It’s been twofold:

One is to provide the data resources and the technology to support the public health needs of the country, from public health agencies, to hospitals, to the researchers, as you mentioned, who are on the quest for a vaccine and therapeutics and the like.

And I think more broadly, it is better to work with, frankly, many of these companies around this table to sustain the economy these past few months so that employees could work from home, so students could study from home, so that the government could operate from home when that was needed.

Now it’s all about phase two.  And I think you put it well: It’s all about both protecting public health and reopening the economy.  And here we see, in some ways, something that may look more like a dial than a switch as we go through a series of phases.  We think we’ll likely continue to see different industries with different needs.

We do see technology playing some new and important roles.  And on this slide, which you have to stand within three feet of to read, you’ll see the nine different areas where we see different public health needs.  But there’s three I want to call out because I think they’re especially important for the private sector.

The first is the ability to use technology to work with people to detect the disease.  I thought the reference to a health declaration was a really good one.  It makes sense at an airport.  Many employers are going to want that on some kind of self-attestation basis for their employees.  It doesn’t make sense to do it on a piece of paper.


MR. SMITH:  We were developing an app for our employees.  We realized, “Well, everybody’s employees need this.”  So we’re now partnering with United Health Group so it can be made available to everybody.

The second layer that I think is really important for the private sector is that — is the tracing capability.  And, you know, we’re seeing both companies like Microsoft and others work to create tracing technology that can be used by individuals, that can be deployed by employers, or by public health agencies.

And then the last is notification — exposure notification that can be done by individuals with public health officers.

I think the key to all of this is captured in the next slide.  We want people to be comfortable using this technology.  We need to protect people’s privacy so that they know that they’re not putting their personal information at risk when they use technology in this new way.  So we’re very committed to doing that.

In closing, I would say, when you step back from this, this is also the right time to close the broadband gap, which you’re addressing through stimulus efforts —

THE PRESIDENT:  Right.  We are.

MR. SMITH:  — and I think there are more.  It’s the right time to invest in more skilling, because we are going to see more jobs demand more digital skills than we did six months ago.  And it’s the right time to maintain the focus, as you have said, on testing.

You noted the progress.  We’ve noticed the progress.  We appreciate the progress.  But I think even more than the progress is, frankly, the high ambition level the administration has set to sustain that progress.  Because, I think, by fall, if we want students to return to college campuses, if we want more employees to feel safe in the workplace, we’re going to see more private sector institutions wanting the ability to test people even when they’re asymptomatic.

And so that progress, I think, will be another one of the fundamental ingredients that we’ll need.  So, thank you.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, thank you very much.  And your first picture was so beautiful — the picture of the White House.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen one more beautiful than that.  (Laughter.)  I don’t know.  You must have something very special over at Microsoft.  But wasn’t that was the beautiful?  We appreciate it.  Thank you very much, Brad.

Thank you very much.  Do you have any questions, please? Any for the great executives?

Q    Mr. President?


Q    It’s obviously been a long day for a lot of Americans.  But I’d like to give you an opportunity to address some of your tweets from this morning.  You tweeted, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.”  How would you know that phrase and not know its racially charged history?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I’ve heard that phrase for a long time.  I don’t know where it came from or where it originated.  I view that phrase as —

Q    In 1967, the Miami Police Chief used it —

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I don’t know.  I’ve also heard from many other places.  But I’ve heard it for a long time, as most people have.  And frankly, it means when there’s looting, people get shot and they die.  And if you look at what happened last night, and the night before, you see that.  It’s very common.  And that’s the way that was meant, and that’s the way I think it was supposed to be meant.  But I don’t know where it came from.  I don’t know where it originated.  I wouldn’t know a thing like that.

But I will say it’s very accurate in the sense that when you do have looting, like you had last night, people often get shot and they die.  And that’s not good.  And we don’t want that to happen.

Yeah, please.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  In the past, you’ve criticized NFL players for their protests against police brutality.  Given what we’ve seen with George Floyd and what we saw with the delays in the case of Ahmaud Arbery, does that change your views around those NFL protests?

And also, given that you had a message for those in the streets in Minneapolis, do you have a statement to make about the police that are involved in such police brutality incidents?

THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah, I didn’t like what I saw at all.  I thought it was a terrible thing, a terrible picture.  I think that it’s — it’s sad in so many ways, from the standpoint of the family.  When you look at George Floyd and his family, and you see what that’s done to them, just — just a terrible thing.  It’s — he was in tremendous pain, obviously, and couldn’t breathe.  It was very obvious to anybody that watched it.  It was a very, very sad thing for me to see that.

We also know that most policemen — you see the great job they do; they do a fantastic job — but this was a terrible insult to police and to policemen.  And I know the Justice Department will — as you know, it’s a local — local case.  But I know the Justice Department is also looking at it very strongly.

Q    And does that change your views around, like, the NFL protests?

THE PRESIDENT:  Say it again?  I can’t —

Q    Does that change your views around the NFL protests on this issue?  They were peaceful protests.  Does that change your mind — your stance on that at all?

THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah, it should be a peaceful protest.  I think, really, the — in memory of George Floyd, I think it should be peaceful.  It’s — it’s terrible.

They — I spoke with his family today.  Terrific people.  I think it’s so bad for the memory when you see a thing like that going on.  And hopefully that won’t happen tonight.

And, as you know, the National Guard has arrived, and they’re there.  But hopefully everything will be very different tonight.  Last night was very sad on many different levels.

Yeah, please.  Yeah, please.

Q    Referencing your Rose Garden event, we see tensions with China over the virus, now over Hong Kong.  Are we witnessing the start of a cold war between the United States and China?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, we’re certainly not happy with what happened with respect to China.  They have a virus that started, and when it got out of control, perhaps — I assume that’s what happened; it got out of control, whichever way — and they stopped it from going to China, but they didn’t stop it from going to the rest of the world.  So, nobody likes that.  That was not good.  They did not do a good job.

So I don’t know if it was incompetence or it was done for some other reason.  But I know that I didn’t see anything in Beijing and I didn’t see anything in other Chinese cities, but I did see them in New York, in London, in Paris.  We saw them in Spain and we saw them in Italy.  We saw that the enemy — the invisible enemy — come out.  And all over the world — 186 countries, and probably more than that now.  And they stopped it in China, but they didn’t stop it going to Europe and the United States and the rest of the world.  So what’s that all about?  And we have to do a very strong study and figure that out.

Q    If I could follow up: Are you going to eliminate the special status for Hong Kong?  I know you announced the measures (inaudible).

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, we’re talking about doing a lot of things.  And we’re not — we’re very, very saddened by what happened to our relationship with China.

They should have never allowed this to happen.  They could have stopped it at the source.  We asked them to come in and help them and they didn’t want help from anybody.  Even the World Health Organization, they wanted to go in and they were delayed.  But we asked to go in, very specifically, and they didn’t want any help.  They didn’t need any help.  And then it got out of control in some form.  But it didn’t seem to get out of control when it came to going to other parts of China, because it didn’t go very far.  But it did come to the United States.  It did come to Europe.  It went all over the world.

Q    Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah, please.

Q    Your conversation with the Floyd family after the Rose Garden event, what was the thing you were trying to impress upon them?  And did they have a message for you?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I just expressed my sorrow.  That was a horrible thing to witness.  And I — I’ve seen bad things.  I’ve seen many bad things.  And that was just a — just a horrible thing to witness and to watch.  And it would certainly look like there was no excuse for it, frankly.

Q    Did they have a message for you at all?  Did they communicate (inaudible)?

THE PRESIDENT:  They were grieving very much.  Look, it was their brother, and they were grieving.  And I could see very much that they loved their brother.  Okay?

Q    Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah, in the back.  Please.  Go ahead.  Please.

Q    Thank you so much, Mr. President.  The United States and Brazil right now have more cases than — of COVID-19 than any other country.  Can you understand me?  I want —

THE PRESIDENT:  “Brazil” you said?

Q    Yes.  I — my question is: There are many comparisons between the way you and the Brazilian President handled the pandemic.  Do you think it’s a fair comparison?  And how long do you think the travel ban will be in place?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, the Brazilian President is a friend of mine, and he’s working very hard, and they do have a big, big outbreak.  And I can tell you, he’s a — he’s a very good man, and he loves his country incredibly well.  They’ve had a hard time.  There’s no question about it.  They went a different route than we did.

Q    He is against —

THE PRESIDENT:  We did a shutdown.  They decided to do it a different way.  They’re having a very hard time.

Q    He is against social distancing at the moment where the Brazil is —

THE PRESIDENT:  Could you take that — just for a second?

Q    Sure.

THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah, it’s —

Q    He’s against social distancing and lockdown at the moment where the numbers in Brazil are skyrocketing.  What do you think about that?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, he went a different way.  Brazil went a different way, and certainly they’re having a hard time.  I don’t want to be critical of anybody because I have great respect for him and he’s doing a very good job with the country.  Then he got hit.

He got hit like everybody else.  They went about it differently than us.  I closed down from China, I closed down from Europe, and we did a lot of close-downs.  We had to close down from Brazil.  You’re asking about Brazil; we closed down, as you know, the other night from Brazil.

But he’s — it’s a tough time they’re having in Brazil.  It’s a great country, great place, great people, but they’re having a very tough time.

Q    How long do you think the ban will be in place for Brazil?

THE PRESIDENT:  I hope we can —

Q    And are you also thinking Russia and — and India?

THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah.  I’d like to take the ban off as soon as we can.  Okay?

Q    Yeah.  Mr. —

THE PRESIDENT:  Soon as we can.  Yes, please.

Q    Yeah, Mr. President, do you believe that there’s a problem with police brutality in America?  And if you do, what — what would you do about it?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I think that police brutality certainly is something that we’ve been hearing about, reading about, studying — I have — for many years.  And we all have to say, and I think most people would admit, that most of the policemen and women that I’ve seen have been outstanding.

When you have something like this happen, you really — you look at it, and you just say, “How does a thing like that happen?”  Because it just seems so bad to watch.

But our police have been very outstanding.  Our crime rates are way down right now in this country.  And — way down.  The police have done a great job.  Something like this happens and you really say, “That’s so — that’s so bad in so many different ways and — and so unfortunate.”

Q    You see the — the rate —

THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah, please.  Go ahead.

Q    Yes, Mr. President, it certainly seems like you’re sympathetic to some of the frustration expressed by the protesters last night.  I want to ask you: First off, do you think there were good people out protesting in Minneapolis last night?  And also —

THE PRESIDENT:  Did you say were they — say it.  Were there good people?

Q    Were — were there good people among the protesters?

And then also, more broadly, what is your message to black Americans and others who just are really frustrated and saddened to see another video of a black man being killed in police custody?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, certainly there were a lot of different people, and they were good people too.  And they were protesting, and they were protesting for the right reason.  They were protesting in honor of a man, George Floyd, where something happened that shouldn’t have happened.

My opinion, from what I’ve seen: Certainly something happened that shouldn’t have happened.  And, yeah, you had a lot of people out there that were protesting out of sorrow.

And then you had people that got out of control — some people.  And they did a very — I think they did a great disservice to their state and to their city and to — to, really, our country, what they did last night.

And we brought in the National Guard today and they’re there, and that won’t happen again.  It can’t happen again.  We can never let that happen again.  That was run by the mayor of a city, and it got — in all fairness to him, he was in a tough position, but I don’t think they were very well prepared.  But we brought in the National Guard.  They’ll be very prepared tonight.

Thank you all very much.  Thank you, please.  Thank you.


5:49 P.M. EDT