4:18 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you very much, everybody. A lot of progress is being made, as you see. And we’re reopening our country, and it’s very exciting. And it should have never happened. This plague should never have happened. It could have been stopped, but people chose not to stop it. It’s a very sad thing for the world — 184 countries, at least.
But it’s a great honor to have you with us, friends of mine who have been truly great business leaders and are great business leaders. And you’re opening up your company again too, if you think about it, right? You’re, sort of, doing a reopening.
But they’re great companies, and they’ll do very well — hopefully better than ever before. And that’s what we’re seeing. We’re seeing tremendous pent-up demand. And it’s a beautiful thing to see.
So it’s wonderful to have American industry leaders — and that’s what you are: true leaders — to the White House. You’ve been here before, all of you, and we’ve talked about it in different times. We built the greatest economy in the history of the world, and nobody even disputes that. And one day, they walk in and they say, “Sir, we’re going to have to close it up until we get rid of this hidden enemy, this — this terrible scourge.” And that’s what we did. And we did the right thing. We did an incredible job. We worked with the governments. We worked with states all over the country.
We had no ventilators, or very few, from previous administrations. And we became the king of ventilators. We have thousands and thousands of ventilators. We’re now helping other countries with ventilators.
We had old-fashioned tests that didn’t work; they were really obsolete. They didn’t work. They were broken. And we end up — the testing has been incredible now and to a level that nobody has seen. I got a call from President Moon of South Korea. He said, “Congratulations. Your testing is just” — nobody has ever seen anything like we’re doing.
We’ve tested more than all countries put together, and millions of tests and the highest quality test. But it’s — it’s great to be with — with you. We’re joined by Matt Maddox of Wynn Resorts, Chris Reynolds of Toyota, Chris Nassetta of Hilton, Josh Bolten of the Business Roundtable, Walt Ehmer of Waffle House.
And thanks to Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary Steve Mnuchin, and Secretary Eugene Scalia. That Scalia has very good genes. Where is Scalia? He has very good genes, that guy, I’ll tell you. Scalia. He’s got the Scalia genes, right? We all know what that means.
We mourn — and I have to say this so strongly — we mourn every life tragically lost to the invisible enemy, and we’re heartened that the worst of the pain and suffering is going to be behind us. We think we really have crossed a big boundary, and much better days are ahead. And I often say I see the light at the end of the tunnel, very strongly. This demand is going to be incredible. I think next year is going to be an incredible year for our economy.
I think the fourth quarter is going to be really, really good, Kevin. We were talking about that before. You maybe will say something. And we’re going to be in a transition quarter next quarter, the third quarter. And I think we’ll do very, very nicely there, from an economic standpoint.
But thanks to the devotion of the American people, the number of new cases continues to decline. The United States has now conducted nearly 6 million tests, far more than any other nation, as I said. So many — so many tests and so much has been learned about what we’re fighting.
And if it does rear up a little bit in the fall or even a lot, we’ll be able to put it out. We’ll put out the embers or we’ll put out the flames.
Two weeks ago, we released guidelines to give states a real strong indication of what we want and how we want it done. We’ve really had a good relationship with the states. Mike Pence has worked very, very hard with the task force. He’s headed the task force, so importantly, with a great group of people.
And it’s been — it’s just been incredible what’s taken place over a very short period of time, including the gowns and all of the surgical equipment, and the safety equipment and masks. People don’t talk about masks anymore; that’s the other thing. They’re not talking about masks. They were talking about “where are the masks,” because we had a cupboard that was bare. We didn’t have a lot of — a lot of equipment or medical supplies in the cupboard that we inherited.
Now we’re taking in millions and millions of masks. I’ll give you a number that you won’t even believe. We have an order: 500 million masks coming in. And we’ve delivered millions and millions and tens of millions of masks all over. So you don’t hear about that anymore either. You don’t hear about ventilators; you don’t hear about masks. And you shouldn’t be hearing about testing, but that’s the last thing they can complain about, I guess.
You know, if we do — if we do 2 million tests, they said, “How come you didn’t do three?” Well, we do three and then they say, “How come you didn’t do four?” That’s like a — that’s like a dream for the media.
But we’ve done incredible with testing. And you’ll see over the next coming weeks — Mike, you maybe want to speak about that a little bit — but over the next coming weeks, you’ll see some — some astonishing numbers. I don’t know that all of that’s even necessary because you have some governors that love the test. You have others that like doing it a different way, an old-fashioned way, with some testing. But we’re going maximum testing.
We’ve encouraged the more than 30 states that have taken steps to resume economic activity already — we’ve given them tremendous encouragement and support. We’re backing them 100 percent. You know, many governors have called me, telling me their plans, laying them out: governor of Texas, Oklahoma, governor of Arkansas — many, many governors. I spoke with Governor Cuomo. We had a great talk today on a different subject, but he wants to get open. Everybody wants to get open. They want to get open, and they want to get back to business. And their constituents, the citizens of this country, want to get back. And that’s what’s happening.
So I just want to perhaps start off by introducing our Vice President, and then we’ll go around the table, and you’ll introduce yourself and say a few words to the media. You’re covered by a very serious media out here. The audience can’t see it, but these are the most wonderful human beings. Actually, this is a nice group. I can’t imagine. We actually have a nice group of people.
But, Mike, if you could say a few words, please, that would be great. And then we’ll go around the table. Thank you.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you, Mr. President. And I want to thank all the distinguished business leaders who are here and the — and the, literally, millions of Americans that are employed at the businesses represented around this table.
And it’s remarkable to think, Mr. President, that before the coronavirus epidemic came ashore, we had seen extraordinary growth in the American economy, not just the stock market setting records; millions of new jobs; more Americans working than ever before. But in January, when you stood up the White House Coronavirus Task Force, you said we had one mission, and that was to save lives and to make sure that the healthcare providers in America would be able to render the level of care to any American struggling with the coronavirus that we would want our own family members to have.
And thanks to your leadership, thanks to the partnership that we forged with states across the country, working with local health officials, Mr. President, as you said yesterday, we have light at the end of the tunnel. We really are encouraged by the progress. In even the hotspots around the country, cases are leveling off, and in some areas, going down. Hospitalizations are declining even in the Greater New York City area.
That’s a testament to the American people and to the way the American people, now nearly 45 days ago, embraced the guidelines to slow the spread. And as we come to the end of this mitigation period, states across the country have all embraced those same mitigation and social distancing efforts. The American people to put them into practice. We’ve saved lives. We’ve protected the vulnerable. We preserved our healthcare system. And we’re well on our way to healing our land.
As you mentioned, testing will be a part of how we move to the next stage. It was just on the 16th that you laid out a plan for opening up America again. And as we sit here today, I’m — I’m informed that 35 states have already released formal opening plans, many of which are consulting directly with our team here in the administration, and we’re going to continue to work with all of them.
Testing is a major part of it. And I can assure you, Mr. President, and the American people that we’ll continue to scale testing across the country. We’re doing more than a million tests a week now; 5.8 million tests total. We expect, by next month, very quickly to be at a capacity to do more than 2 million tests a week. We laid out our blueprint for testing.
And as I heard again today on a conference call with America’s governors in agricultural states, there’s great enthusiasm for the blueprint for testing that you unveiled earlier this week. And we’ll be surging supplies and resources and reagents into the states to support that increased testing.
But we know that, ultimately, we’ve — we’ve got to find a way to help America get back to work. And having the opportunity to hear from these business leaders about best practices that businesses are considering, whether they be restaurants like Waffle House or major corporations and hotels, we welcome that. We look forward to partnering with you, as the President said.
America works when America is working. And we’re absolutely committed, as soon as it is safe and responsible to do so, to partner with governors across the country, partner with businesses across the country, and open up America again. So, thank you, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Mike. And I just — before we go around, Puritan Medical
Supplies [Products], a wonderful company, will produce 40 million additional swabs per month starting in May. They’ve opened up a very big process, and that was funding authorized by the Defense Production Act. So that’ll help the states. And again, we’re there to help the states. A lot of states can buy their own swabs. It’s not that big a deal. But we’re here to help them. We want them to be successful.
We had, as you know, the governor of Louisiana in today and we told that story, which has been a really great story. And we had the governor of Florida in yesterday. And that was a great story. These were — just incredible what’s been happening.
So maybe we’ll start with my left. And, Chris, do you want to take it —
MR. NASSETTA: Yeah.
THE PRESIDENT: — and tell him about — I know a lot about your company, but maybe a lot of people don’t. Tell them the story.
MR. NASSETTA: Indeed, you do. Thank you, first of all, for inviting me back to the White House. I was thinking, on the way down here today — I’m based in Washington, and I was here about six weeks ago. The world was a different place. We were —
THE PRESIDENT: Different.
MR. NASSETTA: We were not at the beginning, but we were in the thick of it, fighting this war. And we’ve come a long way. We’ve made tremendous progress, thanks to your leadership and the leadership of the administration that is represented around this table and otherwise. So, thank you for that.
We — you know, we are very supportive as an industry, and certainly as a company, on reopening America. We think it’s critical that that happen. The guidelines that you and the administration have outlined, we’re incredibly supportive of, of opening in a safe and healthy way, which — which you and Vice President Pence just described.
We have been trying at Hilton, and as an industry, to be part of the solution throughout. So in the middle of the crux of the crisis, when first responders were unable to get housing — even though our industry and our company has its share of problems — we provided, with American Express, one million rooms, free of charge, to first responders. Those rooms are still being provided to first responders as they fight the war.
But now, as we think about and I spend my time predominantly on the reopening of our business, what we realize is that people do want to get out. They want safety. They want to be doing it in a way that is safe. They want to feel good about it, but they want to get out. They want to visit their family, their friends, their loved ones. They ultimately want to get around the country and do business again. And in order to do that, they want to feel safe.
So all the work that you all are doing is obviously, as an administration and the states, is critical. What we’re trying to do in our part is develop the best health and hygiene standards that exist. So when they stay in our hotels, they feel safe.
So what we launched just this week was — in partnership with Lysol, one of the most respected brands with some of the best scientists on cleanliness and killing germs, and the Mayo Clinic, one of the most reputable health organizations in the world — we have developed and are working on the absolute best protocols so that when people come into our hotels, the rooms have been cleaned, they’ve been sealed, the public spaces have, and then they can feel safe and secure in that environment so they can get out and see the people they want to see and see this great country again, like they used to.
We’ve also been trying to work with the industry — and the industry, to their credit, is trying to mobilize to create a consistent set of standards so that this isn’t just Hilton. The whole industry, you know, would have a set of health and hygiene standards that would make — that would make people comfortable. We will be sharing it with the administration, we’re sharing it with governors already, to try and create a standard.
We stand ready, as Hilton, and we stand ready as an industry to help get America open and moving again.
THE PRESIDENT: That’s great. Thank you very much. Great company. And you’ll have it up and running again very soon. I know you very well and you’re going to do a great job reopening. We’re reopening Hilton, and we’re reopening our nation. A lot of companies are very excited right now.
Steve, do you want to say just a couple of words about where we are with the different things, please?
SECRETARY MNUCHIN: Well, I think — thank you, Mr. President, Mr. Vice President. It’s great to see these companies here today. It’s great to see the reopening. I think we’re making an enormous amount of progress. Yesterday, we met with small businesses that we saw the benefit of the programs. Today, we’re meeting with big businesses. I was particularly pleased to hear from Chris. He’s been able to access the capital markets.
Just the announcement of our facilities with the Federal Reserve created liquidity so that public companies could access the capital markets and not need to come to the government for support.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much.
Please. How are you doing?
MR. EHMER: I’m doing great. Thank you, Mr. President. I’m Walt Ehmer, with Waffle House, in Atlanta, Georgia. It is a — it’s an honor to be here today. Thank you for including me, a — probably a well-dressed cook and dishwasher. I don’t know about big companies, but — but we’re happy to be included. And thank you, too, Mr. Vice President, for — for all of your support.
I am here representing our industry, I believe, and, in large part, the independent restaurant companies of America that are out here that have helped create the fabric of our country with the restaurants that they’ve put in our communities and the connections they have with communities. And we, in a small way, feel like we are a part of that.
We did have — we did have the opportunity this week, in the state of Georgia, in the state of Tennessee, to open up some of our dining rooms to dine-in customers again. And it was very welcomed by our people; it was welcomed by our customers. Our customers are ready to see some sign of progress that we are beginning to move forward. We’ve done it in a safe way. We have followed all of the guidelines — your guidelines, the CDC guidelines, in how to make that happen.
But what we believe we’ve — when we started out in this journey, we said we really have several goals. And the first goal was we wanted it to be a safe environment for our customers and for our associates. And our second goal was to create financial safety for our workforce.
And I wanted to thank you personally for — on behalf of our workforce — for all of the stimulus funds that have gone directly to the workforce of America. It is making a difference. It has made a difference. It is keeping the economic engine turning ever so slowly right now, but it is helping keep people put food on the table and a roof over their head. So, on behalf of our workforce, I thank you for that.
As we got into this, we felt like we needed to make a lot of adjustments coming in. One of the great things about a restaurant and the entire restaurant community: The restaurants are the second largest private employer in the country. And there is a million restaurants out there. And probably no other industry has been hit as hard from a revenue standpoint, or a layoff and furlough standpoint. But restaurants, if you think about —
THE PRESIDENT: What’s number one?
MR. EHMER: What’s number one?
THE PRESIDENT: (Inaudible.)
MR. EHMER: Health — healthcare, is my understanding.
THE PRESIDENT: Really? Good.
MR. EHMER: Yeah. Private employers. I assume you guys are number one overall, but —
So, you know, restaurants have a unique opportunity to help lead us out of this. And the reason for that, in my opinion, is — is that we have been practicing safe food handling for years. The safety of our guests has always been paramount. So, what we have done is we’ve taken a workforce that is trained to do that and added more sanitation practices to it, more touchpoints, more social distancing, as you have prescribed and the CDC has prescribed.
And we have a — basically turned our restaurants into the ability, pretty much at half capacity, to seat guests in our restaurant. And it — it’s given us an opportunity to get the wheels of the economy, our economy, our engine turning a little bit, because the next thing we want to make sure is we protect the jobs for the people that work for us and the people in our industry.
So we’re very appreciative. I did want to say that, ever since my daughter was young, she — every time she saw the “WH” on the TV screen, she thought that that stood for “Waffle House.” So I don’t know if you have the trademark for the “White House” or we do, but we could probably work something out. But I wore my “WH” tie for you today. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: This one was here first. I know that. (Laughter.) That’s great.
MR. EHMER: Well, we might have to talk then.
So — but thank you for including us. And on behalf of all the restaurant operators out there in the country, we appreciate this opportunity to begin the journey to move forward.
THE PRESIDENT: And thank you very much, Walt. We appreciate it.
Chris Reynolds? Chris, of Toyota.
MR. REYNOLDS: Yes, Mr. President. Thank you, first, for inviting us. Thank you, Mr. Vice President, in giving us an opportunity to share how Toyota is working within the American automotive industry to return to work safely, to reopen America safely.
We announced on March 18 that we were suspending production due to the awful scourge of the coronavirus. On March 19, we started to plan to reopen. We started right away. And just to give you some quick background on Toyota: We’ve been here in the U.S. for over 60 years; 1,500 dealers; 1.2 million doll- — 1.2 million units of cars and trucks manufactured last year; 475,000 people employed, including a great number in the state of Indiana from where our Vice President is from.
Going to the next slide, we — with that as background — really are trying to apply three fundamental principles to how we’re going to return to work. Principle number one is: We need to stay connected with our team members. So, every week, we conduct phone surveys with all 32,000 of our factory workers, asking them how are they feeling, what’s their health, what’s their family’s wellbeing, what’s their confidence level in returning to work.
And we also preview with them all of the new safety protocols and processes that we’re going to put in place. We share pictures of the reconfigured factory workplace so they can have confidence that we’re doing everything possible, Mr. President, to keep them healthy, safe, and productive.
The second principle that we follow is that we’ve prepared our plants and facilities for safe and healthy working. So, like many here, we’re engaging in marked-off areas that require social distancing, the provision of masks and face shields where appropriate, daily temperature screening, as well as a daily app-based questionnaire that, before you come into work, asks you, “How are you feeling today? Do you have any symptoms?” — so that we can try and manage and contain the virus.
And we’re using best practices not only from your own Centers for Disease Control, Mr. President, but also from around the world to try and increase the safety and health of our team members as they produce.
And then the third principle is we’re not date driven, we’re data driven. So our current plan is to open on May 11. It’ll be a slow, gradual opening of our plants around the country. But we’re flexible. Every plant will be different. We’ll have staggered shifts. We’ll do many other things to comply with the Centers for Disease Control guidelines. And our goal is to prioritize team member and health.
Mr. President, one final point: We all know that our team members live in communities. It’s not just the workforce that they’re in; they’re in communities. So what Toyota has done is it’s tried to support the communities in which our team members live, including manufacturing half a million face shields just since the start of this crisis —
THE PRESIDENT: Right.
MR. REYNOLDS: — to distribute to healthcare centers, nursing homes, first responders around the country, so that our team members can feel that we’re also part of the community.
And we’ve also put together — just released yesterday — a community service announcement aimed at those communities of color that have been particularly impacted by the lethal nature of this virus. This announcement includes celebrities encouraging everyone to engage in safe practices promoted by the Centers for Disease Control.
So we think it’s a holistic process. We think it’s also a process that requires commitment. And thank you for the commitment that your administration has demonstrated. We’re going to get through this as a family, Mr. President. Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: So, Chris, what’s Toyota doing in Japan? Are they open? Are they semi-open? What’s happening in Japan?
MR. REYNOLDS: Mr. President, in Japan, the situation varies prefecture by prefecture. It depends on the plant. Some facilities are operating, some are not. And that’s really a function of both the situation on the ground in a given prefecture, like our state, or it’s a function of demand. So it varies, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Great job. You’re going to have a great Olympics next year too, by the way.
MR. REYNOLDS: Thank you, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: A really great Olympics. Thank you very much.
Matt Maddox, please, of Wynn — Wynn Resorts. Hi, Matt.
MR. MADDOX: Yes. Thank you, Mr. President.
First, I’d like to echo what you’re saying about testing and testing capacity. We have seen a real expansion in testing capacity in Las Vegas, so much so that our university hospital is going from a couple hundred tests a day to 10,000 tests a day. They don’t have enough people to test. So I signed a deal with them to allow all Wynn employees to get tests anytime for free, and they’re going to set up on-site testing. So that’s moving forward.
We also, during this time, decided to pay all 15,000 of our employees, from housekeepers to head of sales.
THE PRESIDENT: Great.
MR. MADDOX: And we did that because I thought that could help accelerate the economy. So, as an example, we took our call center, and we’ve had our call center team up with the Health District to become contact tracers. We tripled the amount of contact tracing ability, on us, for our state to get that moving.
THE PRESIDENT: Great.
MR. MADDOX: And we published a 23-page plan for the whole world to see, 10 days ago, that lays out exactly what we think a Strip opening would look like. We have thermal cameras at our entrances. We have company-supplied PPE. We have just about every UV technology that you can think of for disinfectant. So we’re ready. And I’m encouraging our state that we need to begin a phased approach and get back to business.
THE PRESIDENT: So, Matt, when do you think the Las Vegas Strip will be open? Do you have any idea?
MR. MADDOX: So, the plan that I put forward to the state is: This week, let’s start phase one — golf course, tennis courts, small restaurants, small retails, nail salons, et cetera — with social distancing in place. Judge the benchmarks that we’ve prepared. We prepared three benchmarks based on disease growth, ICU capacity, and testing positivity rate. We’re going to have them out there public every day. If we’re inside those benchmarks in three weeks, then on Memorial Day, I would hope that we’re open.
THE PRESIDENT: And you have a lot of excess testing capacity. That’s great.
MR. MADDOX: We do.
THE PRESIDENT: Others have said that too.
MR. MADDOX: We do.
THE PRESIDENT: Ron DeSantis said it yesterday.
MR. MADDOX: So all 12,000 of our employees in Las Vegas can now go get a test.
THE PRESIDENT: That’s fantastic. Thank you very much. Great job.
MR. MADDOX: Sure.
THE PRESIDENT: Say hello to all of my friends.
MR. MADDOX: I will. I will, of course.
THE PRESIDENT: Josh Bolten, please. Josh? Business Roundtable.
MR. BOLTEN: Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: And does a great job at the Business Roundtable. Thank you, Josh.
MR. BOLTEN: Thank you, Mr. President. Thanks for this opportunity. I’m Josh Bolten. I’m CEO of the Business Roundtable, an organization of nearly 200 of America’s leading CEOs who collectively employ over 15 million people. Every sector of the economy is represented in our organization, so we have an opportunity to get a view of the big picture.
And, Mr. President, we don’t need to tell you that right now the big picture is very challenging. We — we’re facing the largest economic crisis in — certainly in our — in our lifetimes, and all of our members are keenly aware of that.
We think now is the moment that it’s critical that the country start getting back to business as rapidly as possible, not just for the health of the economy, but for the health and wellbeing of all of our citizens in our country. Successful reopening will depend, as the other panelists have said, on a lot of different elements. And if I may, I’d like to highlight three.
Top of the list is: safety first. Business Roundtable companies are all uniformly committed above all to protecting the lives and the wellbeing of their employees and their customers. And that means following sound public health guidance like the one — like the guidance that has issued here from the very capable people on your team.
At Business Roundtable, all of our members either already have in place or are formulating careful plans for responsibly transitioning back to work, like the plans we’ve — we’ve heard about just now this afternoon. They’re devising new measures around personal protective equipment, cleaning procedures, virus screening, ongoing social distancing in the workplace — all of the things that you know about, and they all seem to be excellent plans.
Which takes me to my second point, which is: consistent guidelines. No matter how good every company’s transition plan is, and we’ve heard a lot of good ones here this afternoon, public confidence will be undermined, and the speed of the reopening will be dramatically slowed, if we’re all doing different things. And that’s why the Business Roundtable has called for clear, science-based guidance from the federal and state governments on appropriate safety measures in multiple workplace and commercial settings at different stages in the progression of the disease.
The White House guidelines, Mr. President, that you highlighted in your first slide — the ones that came out two weeks ago — are an excellent start in identifying a common set of phases for dealing with reopening. And a number of states are off to a really good start in identifying recommended safety measures in each various different settings.
Now we think, since we are now on the cusp of many places being ready to reopen more fully, we think more specific guidance is needed.
And so, on Friday, we sent to the Vice President and to all the governors a set of recommendations on the kinds of consistent guidance our businesses feel is necessary for the safest and fastest reopening. And we’re grateful for the chance to engage with the Vice President’s team and all of your task force on those issues.
And I should say, Mr. Vice President, that everybody in your administration, despite the heavy burdens on them, has been very receptive to taking advice from the business community, and we’re very grateful for that.
Final point: ample testing and monitoring. The only thing worse than an unnecessarily slow recovery is a reversed recovery. So to avoid serious setbacks, as our businesses reopen, we need to stay vigilant, identifying rapidly, and — identifying rapidly and isolating new COVID cases, and carefully tracking the spread of the disease, as I know your team is working very hard on.
The robust testing and other forms of monitoring are the keys to the vigilance. And they’ll also teach us what’s working and what’s not working and allow us to make adjustments.
It’ll take a while for our economy to return to normal, but the traditional American virtues of vigilance, adaptation, and innovation, we are confident, will see us through and get to — get us to the other side of this crisis as safely and rapidly as possible.
Thank you, Mr. President, for this opportunity.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Josh. That was great.
The numbers — when you look at the stock market today, the enthusiasm is great. It’s up very substantially, as you know. And I think people are seeing a very big year coming up next year, and I think they’re seeing a very big fourth quarter.
Larry, would you like to say — Larry Kudlow — a few words, please?
MR. KUDLOW: Just a few words. Thanks to everybody, Mr. President and Mr. Vice President, and all the business folks, and my friend, Steve Mnuchin.
This is a tough one. I’ve been around a while. This is a tough one. And the contraction is going to go on for a bit, but I like what I hear around the table. And I agree with the President. We will see a growing, recovering economy by summertime and the back end of the year, and it’s going to extend into 2021. That’s what I think is going to happen. And I think the stock market is signaling some of that.
I wanted to buck it over to my dear friend and colleague, Kevin Hassett. He gave it to me over in the Oval yesterday. I want to send it over to him today. But I appreciate it, Mr. President. Thank you, sir.
MR. HASSETT: Thank you, Larry. And, Mr. President and Mr. Vice President, I think that when I first came back, back in early March, that it was clear that you had a first objective, with respect to the economy, of building a bridge to the next shore — the other shore when we could restart the economy.
And it was really massive fiscal action that made it so that a day like today could be possible — whereas, you look around, there all these businesses that have the wherewithal to start up. And it’s because they’ve stayed connected to their employees. The checks that we’ve mailed to citizens means that there’s going to be a demand for their products. And so that the big negative numbers that we’re going to be seeing over the next few months don’t necessarily mean what they would’ve meant absent all those policies.
So I think that we all have a great deal of optimism about how quickly the economy can come back. And it’s precisely because of what we see in the room today that people are — have come up with plans, based on the guidance that your task force, Mr. Vice President, have given that make it so that they can operate safely, and they’re gradually across the country opening up and getting back to work. And they’re able to do so because of the lifeline that you, Mr. President, threw them with all the first three phases of fiscal policy.
THE PRESIDENT: And it’s great to have you back too. Very talented guy. At least he made a lot of good predictions. Your predictions all turned out. Between you and Larry, that’s a — it’s a tremendous team. Thank you both very much.
Gene, Secretary of a very important thing called Labor. What’s more important than labor?
SECRETARY SCALIA: Well, it is so important. And, Mr. President, I was pleased to be able to tell you earlier today that, as of yesterday, all 50 states in the District of Columbia are now offering the additional $600 in unemployment insurance that was part of the CARES Act that you signed last month. This was an additional benefit on top of what the states were already making available in unemployment and one important part of your program to support workers during this difficult time.
As you know, the states have had some challenges with their computer systems. We’ve been working with them. This is not declaring victory in all aspects of delivering those unemployment benefits, but it is a milestone I wanted to note.
I have been very pleased to hear the discussion among this group about all the steps that companies are taking to keep their workers safe. I think we all appreciate that confidence in the part of workers that they will be safe in the workplace is going to be an important part of the reopening, as well as confidence in the part of business about what needs to be done, and that when those steps are taken, they will have satisfied their obligations.
We at the Labor Department have been working carefully, in conjunction with the CDC, to provide guidance for a variety of different workplaces so that employers and companies know what needs to be done and employees know as well. And we’ll continue to do that.
We’re also receiving complaints from workers who worry about safe work conditions or that they might have experienced some adverse action for raising safety concerns, and we’ll look into those. And we’ll — we have the tools that we need, from an enforcement perspective, if workers’ rights aren’t respected. But I’m so heartened to hear the steps that businesses want to take and are taking to support their workers.
Just a last observation, Mr. President: As you and the Vice President said, just weeks ago we were enjoying such an extraordinary economy. And there were reasons for that. There were policies that you put in place — lower taxes, deregulation — that were vital to what we enjoyed before. Right now, we’re in a period of very important government intervention, and we need that.
But as we look forward at the department, I think it will be important to remember as well the limits of government and that the single best thing for workers is a vibrant economy, and that often comes from allowing free markets and free people to go about their business. We’ll keep that in mind too.
THE PRESIDENT: Okay. Any questions for our panelists, please?
Q This could be a question for any of the business leaders. But there are polls that show that Americans say — the vast majority of Americans say that once they’re allowed to go back to restaurants, hotels, places like that, that they won’t because they don’t feel safe. So do you — are you worried that until there is a vaccine, people really won’t come back to some of these businesses?
MR. NASSETTA: I mean, of course we worry about it. And we see some of the same polling, and we’re talking to our customers by the tens of millions, hundreds of millions.
Last year, we served 180 million people, so we have a pretty — pretty big and extensive customer base. What — what we’re hearing from our customers is that they’re desperate to get back out and move around and see their country again and see their friends again. They obviously want to do it in a safe and healthy way.
And so I think they’re looking — our customers are saying they’re looking for the government, both state and federal government, to focus on testing so that they understand, you know, what real mortality rates are as work has been done with the Stanford test and the — you know, the data in Norway and other data points that are coming out.
As the administration and states do more and more testing, I think our customers — what I’m hearing from our customers is they’re starting to understand while every life is precious, that the reality of the ultimate mortality rates here is probably much, much lower than had been estimated. And if they are old and infirm, that they have great risk and those people should be protected, but if they’re not, they probably are at a very low risk.
They’re then looking for — which is why we launched, this week, CleanStay and why we’re working with our industry. They want to know that people are being responsible. Right? They want to know that we are doing the testing, the social distancing; that we are using protocols and PPE in protecting our employees so that they can protect customers; that we’re being very thoughtful and sensible that, when they do come and stay with us or they enter into a restaurant where we’ve always had good hygiene, as you heard earlier — we are — you know, our people are trained to have good ideas, but we up our game so that when they’re with us, they feel safe.
So I think it’s a combination of those things that are happening of broadly understanding the real risk that they have and then mitigating that risk even further by the specific actions that we all take in our places of work with our team members and thus, ultimately, with our customers.
THE PRESIDENT: And I haven’t seen that, because I will tell you, to me, I think there’s a tremendous pent-up demand for people. I see it in Texas where they have lines going into stores. And a couple of restaurants, I guess, opened, and they’re — they literally have — they have long lines. I think there’s a tremendous pent-up demand.
I’ve been at the White House now for many months, and I’d like to get out, as much as I love this. This is the most beautiful house in the world, in my opinion.
But I think there’s just a great demand to get out and, you know, get our country going again, and that includes going to restaurants and hotels. And I think you’re going to find, Chris, that you’re going to have — do a lot of business that you’re not even thinking about. I’m seeing it; I feel it. And I’ve felt a lot of things over the years, including, “Gee, I think I can win for President,” you know?
And, frankly, I really feel that next year is going to be a very good year, economically. We’re going to be back in business. So we’ll have to see. I mean, only time will tell, but there’s a lot of good feelings. And a lot of good decisions have been made by a lot of very talented people. So I’m feeling very much that it’s going to be very successful.
Q Just one question for you, Mr. President: Do you want the FDA to issue a emergency use authorization for remdesivir?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, it’s a big — it’s a big thing what happened just recently, where they came up with something that has a very substantial percentage. You know, it’s a building block. Tony said it today; I thought it was very well expressed. He said that’s a building block. That means it’s a very substantial chunk of a step. And that’s a building block to the ultimate step. That’s a big building block, when you hear, I guess, 31 percent. So, it was very good.
Yeah, I want them to go as quickly as they can. Stephen Hahn — Dr. Hahn has been incredible at the FDA. He’s getting things done in record time. There’s never been anything like it. And, yeah, we want it — we want everything to be safe. But we do — we would like to see very quick approvals, especially with things that work.
Q Mr. President, Mr. Bolten and others suggested that they’d like to see federal guidelines for some of these companies — explicit federal guidelines for some of these companies and factories opening back up. So far, you’ve given a lot of discretion to companies and states, but is that somewhere where you’d be willing to step in and do more?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we will step in if we see something wrong. We have given discretion to the governors. I’ve become very well acquainted with the governors. You have some very talented governors, frankly, and probably some that are a little bit less talented. That’s okay. But it’s a very talented group of people.
And they’re working with us. We’re helping them. Whether it’s ventilators or swabs that they can’t get, we’re there. And we’ve taken in billions and billions of dollars’ worth of equipment and distributed it to the states. And, you know, you — you’ve heard the calls and we have no problems. We’re doing really well, and we’re backing them up.
But we want the governors to call those shots. If we see something that we don’t like or that’s bad or that’s unsafe, we’ll stop it immediately. Okay?
Q What might the new normal look like in two, three years from now? Say restaurant workers, hotel workers — might they be required to wear masks? That sort of thing. What would the new normal look like?
THE PRESIDENT: No, I don’t see that. No, I don’t see that. I see the new normal being what it was three months ago. I think we want to go back to where it was. I mean, when I look at a baseball game, I want to see people right next to each other. I don’t want to see four seats in between every person so that the stadium becomes 25 percent of its original size. No. I want to see the NFL with a packed house. I don’t want to see NFL with three seats in between people.
No, I want to — I want to go back to where it was. That’s where we’re going to be.
Look, this thing will pass. And when it passes, that’ll be a great achievement. And we — we’ve done a very good job. It’s far too many people, needlessly, because it could have been stopped at the point of origin. And somehow we weren’t helped by — whether it’s World Health Organization or China, whoever, we weren’t — they didn’t do what should have been done. Very sad, actually, for the whole world. It’s a very sad thing. This is a very, very sad event. It’s a war against the invisible enemy. And we’re now on the other side, and we’re — I think what I want to see is I want to see where it was.
And I think we have a chance of an incredible year next year. Now, not if somebody is going to come in like our opponents and raise taxes all over the place. They want to raise taxes. That’s — that will kill something very fast. We have something that’s very special. We built the greatest economy in the world, and I want to get that back as soon as possible. I think we can start getting it back very, very quickly.
Look at the stock market today, when it has that kind of — Kevin and Larry — when it has that kind of — Josh — when it has that kind of a bounce today, as much as it went up. But I think it set some kind — almost a record over the last week, right? It’s almost a record. And this is in the midst of something.
Now, we’re not in the midst. They feel we’re on the other side of it, or you wouldn’t be seeing numbers like this. But — so we’re at 24,000. Maybe even a little above 24,000. And we were at 29,000. We never broke 30 on the Dow. So that’s tremendous.
But what it really does — you have a lot of very smart people. That means that they are looking to the future, number one. And I look at it as jobs. I also look at it as sort of guidance; it’s a guidance, in a sense. It’s — the stock market. Who would think you could have a stock market at 24,000 after we’ve gone through the worst pandemic since 1917? That’s over 100 years.
You know, this is the worst since 1917. So I think that’s a great indicator. There are a lot of very smart people that understand that world very well and they have a lot of confidence in it, and that’s some of the companies that were here — public companies.
But it means jobs. It also means not only guidance; it means some really — some people — and I know some great investors — people really have a lot of confidence in what’s going forward. And that’s what I see, and that’s where I want it to be. Okay?
Q Mr. President —
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, ma’am.
Q — are you open to making a deal with the Postal Service that would allow it to borrow from Treasury without raising its shipping rates, its package rates?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, you have to raise the rates on packages because they’re losing a fortune on packages. They’re losing anywhere from two dollars to three or four dollars a package every time they deliver. So, it’s not fair. And it’s not fair to the people that work at the Postal Service.
You have some of these companies — the Internet retail. You look at that, and they drop millions of packages on the post office. The post office delivers a package, and every time they deliver a package, they lose from two to five dollars a package. And what kind of a business is that?
And you could never replicate the post office. The post office is massive. But they’ve got places and little sections of our country that no company could ever go to. That took hundreds of years to build the post office. And when you look at the size of it and you compare it to companies, it’s much bigger than companies. I mean, much, much bigger. There’s no company that’s the size of that.
No, we want to stabilize the post office, and the way you do that is these companies are going to have to pay more, not the people. We’re not looking for the people to pay. But the companies are going to have to pay a percentage of that — that loss. You can’t do that. The government shouldn’t have to do it. I think the post office could — wouldn’t it be great if it could, after so many decades, break even?
But we’re making a lot of people rich and a lot of companies rich by subsidizing these companies. On top of that, they don’t pay the same taxes as a retail store. It’s very unfair to the retailers. You look at these stores; the retail stores are being just clobbered. And there are so many disadvantages.
But, no, when we deliver a package at the post office, every package it delivers, they lose a lot of money. And that’s not fair. Those companies should pay for it.
SECRETARY MNUCHIN: The President, over a year ago, asked us to chair a Postal Task Force to look at restructuring. A year ago, we didn’t have any Board of Governors. We now have a Board of Governors that’s overseeing it. They’re conducting a search. We look forward to hearing the results of the new postmaster. And we think this is a business, and the people at the post office will have a terrific opportunity.
THE PRESIDENT: And we’re protecting our post office, by the way, and we always will. But we want our post office to be successful. We don’t want it to be a laughingstock and a stupidly run organization, the way it’s been for so many decades now. It’s ridiculous. And then we make other people rich. We make other people rich because we’re willing to deliver packages at a fraction of the cost, so other people gain by it.
And, by the way, and you’re hurting a lot of other people because you’re hurting retailers. You look at stores where the stores are — they have to pay rent and taxes and all sorts of things that these companies don’t have to pay. So, it’s not a fair situation.
We want to take care of our taxpayers and we want to take care of — very, very importantly — the people that work at the post office.
Q Mr. President, if there is another round of aid for the states and communities, are you going to try to restrict that aid from going to sanctuary cities and states?
THE PRESIDENT: I don’t think you should have sanctuary cities if they get that kind of aid. You know, if you’re going to get aid to the cities and states for the kind of numbers you’re talking about — billions of dollars — I don’t think you should have sanctuary cities.
And, by the way, the people that have sanctuary cities, they don’t like it. I think politicians like it a lot more. I — I go to California. I go to lots of different places. And I have people with a very liberal bent saying they don’t like sanctuary cities. They don’t want criminals to be in sanctuary. They want — they want — they want security. They want safety.
Q But are you going to —
THE PRESIDENT: And, you know, they want borders too. They don’t want people pouring across into our country. And, you know, I was there a long time ago. The wall is — is up to 175 miles built down. And it’s — the numbers are incredibly good because all of that 175 miles, nobody comes through. Nobody even comes close to coming through. Unless you have a climber of Mount Everest, but even they don’t. It’s not even easy for them, Josh. So it’s — it’s been good.
But we let — very important for you — we want our farmers to be able to get their help. And we work it so it’s actually easier for them to get in. You know, they’ve been taking some people that they’ve had for years and years. They’d come with the crops and everything else and — that really have been great for the farmers. And we want that to continue and actually continue at an easier pace. We’re working it so it comes in — so that kind of help can come in even easier, which I think you have to tell your people.
Q Could I just follow up and ask —
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, please.
Q Explicitly, will you seek to prevent the next round of aid from going to sanctuary states and cities?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, number one, we shouldn’t have to pay anything anyway because all they do is make it very hard for law enforcement. So that’s number one.
But I think, in the bigger picture, I don’t see helping cities and states if they’re going to be sanctuary. Because all sanctuary means to me is it’s protecting a lot of criminals and — and others — many people. But they are — there are criminals. And, you know, you write about it all the time. I see stories every day where somebody is being totally protected. ICE can’t get to them. Law enforcement can’t get to them. You look at law enforcement; law enforcement hates sanctuary cities.
We want a safe country. We don’t want people that are criminals — and criminals from other countries, in many cases — protected and you can’t get to them. And then we’re supposed to make massive payments to those states to bail out what they’ve done wrong over a 25-year period.
So, we’ll see. That’ll be a subject that will be discussed, certainly. Sanctuary cities. I think maybe it was brought up yesterday, and I made the statement and people were surprised to hear it, but they shouldn’t be surprised.
Okay? Thank you.
Q Mr. President, when would you like the country to fully be reopened to the way it was before, as you mentioned?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we talked about it. And, very strongly, Josh mentioned safety. Have to have safety. But at the same time, people want this country open. The people here want it open. And there is a danger to too much being confined to a house or an apartment or wherever you live. You can’t — and this — we got to start moving along. And with all of the testing we’re doing, with all of the things we’re doing, you can do this now.
And governors are actually — a lot of pressure is being put on governors right now by the people in their states. They want to get it open. And that’s what you want. That’s what we all want. And with all of the procedures and safety —
We’ve learned a lot about this hidden enemy. We’ve learned a lot. And there’ll be pockets of fire, and we’ll put them out. We’ll put them out very, very quickly. But, you know, during this period of time, I think we’ve really learned a tremendous amount about how to handle it. Nothing easy, but we want safety.
So we want safety and we want economic — where people can go and make a great living and go back to living the way — I mean, you had people — we had wonderful people in yesterday, where their business was going to be lost, other than what we did, Steve, with the great programs that we set up. Their businesses were gone.
One man, he was a chef with five children, and his mother lived with him and his wife. And he got — he lost his job for the first time in his life. Some of you were there. And — and you had others that were equally. So it was pretty — pretty amazing. I thought it was a pretty amazing display of what we’ve done to help a lot of people. And you have millions of people like that. Millions that have been helped, where they wouldn’t have a job right now and where the business — the small business — would have closed.
Now these are big businesses, but the small businesses would have closed. And I think it’s great when — when Wynn, which is a terrific group of people — but when Matt says that, you know, we’re supporting all of the people. I know what that is. That’s a big — you have all of your — practically a full staff and you have no income. That’s a big thing. That’s a great thing. And I hope you’re rewarded for that.
MR. MADDOX: Thank you. Thank you very much.
THE PRESIDENT: No, it’s a tremendous thing.
Q Is there a target date?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, yeah. His target date is as soon as possible. Some states are already open. I mean, they’re opening up rapidly. We have a number of them opening up on Monday. We have a number of them opening up sooner than that, as you know, and — or at least partially opening. Some of them even very — even with a very strong bent toward opening, they’re opening up where they’ll open a certain amount here — restaurants at 25 percent, then going to 50 percent. Then, ultimately, we want to be back to where the — where we’re 100 percent.
We don’t want — we — I had one restaurant owner come up to me and say, “Sir, you know, I’m going to be opening up, but if I distance too much, I have 50 percent of the restaurant I had.” And I said, “And you’ll also have a worse atmosphere.” We want to be back where we can have — we want it to be the way it was, because the way it was is the right way. We can’t have somebody with a half a restaurant. You understand. He got 175 seats; now he’s got half. That’s not going to pay the rent or whatever.
Same thing with an owner. I was on the phone with the commissioners and some of the owners of sports — of big-time sports. And he was talking almost like he was going to have two or three seats in between everybody that was there. And I said, “You know, you’re not going to have to do that for that long. You know it’s — you’re going to be back.” And he said, “Really? I — oh, really?” He was like —
I don’t want people to get used to this because this virus is going to be gone. And when it’s gone, you want to get back to normal. You’re not going to have a stadium that’s 30 percent the size of what it was three months ago. If I watch Alabama play LSU, I don’t want to see 20,000 people instead of 120,000 people. We want it to be the way it was.
Now, we going to wait until it’s gone. And it will be gone. And we’ve done a lot to get rid of it. But we — we want to open our country. The people want this country open.
Q So this 100 percent scenario that you’re laying out, if it’s going back to the way it was —
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah.
Q — is that before a vaccine or after the vaccine?
THE PRESIDENT: So, a lot of progress is being made on a vaccine. But you never know, right? You never know. You know, with SARS, they didn’t come up with a vaccine. And sometimes they don’t, and sometimes they do. I will say this: I don’t think there was the same effort because a lot of people don’t know what SARS is and some people do. But — but they do come up with vaccines.
I mean, you look at what’s happened, as an example, with Ebola, with AIDS, with others that have been so incredibly successfully — if not eradicated, certainly it’s been incredible what some of — you know, with — with what these people that I’m dealing with right now — like Gilead today — with, you know, what they came up with, as an example. That’s far ahead of schedule.
So we’re looking for vaccines. We’re looking for therapeutics also. I mean, I think therapeutics, right now — I’d rather — if you gave me both, I’d rather have the therap- — because that, you know, makes people better right now. Whether it’s helping them along or makes them better almost instantly, we have to see. But there’s tremendous work on therapeutics going on, and I think we’re having some good results. One of them was — was Gilead today.
Q So 100 percent — the full restaurants, the stadiums — theoretically, could come before the vaccine?
THE PRESIDENT: Oh, I think — yeah. I — no, I think we’re — no, I’m not relying on that. I hope that’s going to happen. Johnson & Johnson, Oxford — you know, you hear a lot of very good stories. I’m hearing them really firsthand. Good stories. Very promising. But they have to test it. You know, maybe it’s not safe. Maybe it eradicates it, but it’s not safe. And, you know, they have to do testing with vaccines. Whereas the therapeutics, it’s — it goes a lot quicker, in terms of the process.
No, if you don’t have a vaccine, if the virus is gone, we’re like we were before. But having a vaccine would be a great thing. And I think we’re going to get there in this case, just based on what I know, but we’ll see what happens.
Look, the Gilead research has been — I mean, that’s gone so fast. That’s gone at a level of speed that nobody has ever seen before. And that’s a stepping stone. So, I think they’re doing very well.
But, no, I want to get — I want to get back with or without. But I want — you know, obviously, we have to wait until it’s gone. It will be gone. And we want to be back to where we were.
Q Without a vaccine, sir, why do you think the virus will just be gone?
THE PRESIDENT: It’s going to go. It’s going to leave. It’s going to be gone. It’s going to be eradicated. And it might take longer. It might be in smaller sections. It’ll be — it won’t be what we had. And we also learned a lot.
Again, if you have a flare up in a certain area, if you have a — I call them “burning embers” — boom, we put it out. We know how to put it out now. But we put it out. And now we’re equipped. Now we have more ventilators than anyone thought was possible. I mean, we’re doing a tremendous service for the world right now. We’re giving ventilators.
You know, we have — we’re making hundreds of thousands of ventilators in, I believe, nine different plants that made other products. In some cases, cars. In some places, other things. These companies — General Motors; and — and Ford, in another way; and GE; so many companies; Honeywell — they’ve stepped up. 3M has been terrific. They’ve stepped up like nobody has ever seen before, and the job they’re doing is great.
And I’ll tell you, I think the job that they’re doing on vaccines and on therapeutics has been great too. We’ll see. I mean, we’ll let you know about that in a little while.
Please. Anybody else?
Q Yeah, Mr. President. Oil is up today, partially on reports that the Treasury Secretary and others may have —
THE PRESIDENT: What is it up to?
Q It depends which, but it’s about $25. (Laughter.) But on the suggestion that the Treasury Secretary and others may have presented you with a plan for government assistance to the oil companies?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we’re not going to let our oil companies go and get in trouble. It’s not their fault that they got hit by 50 percent less volume in one day. You know, one — one instant, all of a sudden, these very great companies that are employing all these people.
So I’m talking to Steve and, you know, we’re — we just saved the airlines. The airlines were having the best year they’ve ever had. And then all of a sudden, they’re like out of business? We can’t let that happen. So we saved the airlines. That’s done. We’re saving other companies and industries.
And I would say — Steve, maybe you can talk to it — but I think the oil industry is one of the top on the list.
SECRETARY MNUCHIN: So, we’re looking at a lot of different strategies. We have a dedicated team, combined of people at Treasury and people the Department of Energy. As I’ve said before, this is not going to be a bailout of shareholders, but this is going to be supporting the national security issue.
I would just comment: The Secretary of Energy has done an extraordinary job of taking in oil in the Strategic Reserve and being paid for the storage capacity in oil. We’re also exploring potentially having the ability to store another several hundred million barrels.
So we’re looking at lots of different options. We’re in touch with lots of people around the world. And the President is determined that we protect the national security interest and the jobs.
Q Do you expect an announcement this week about it?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we had a very interesting thing, because we had a lot of capacity — meaning you can fill it up in the National Strategic Reserves. And, you know, it wasn’t full. And we made a great deal.
If you would have told us that we could have had that filled up or it’s on the way to being filled up at the kind of pricing that we’re talking about, I would have said you have to be kidding. We’re talking about 19 — I’m not sure Chris is going to be happy about this, because it doesn’t pertain to the hotel business — don’t get scared. But, you know, we’re talking about like 1952 pricing. It’s — it’s unbelievable. It’s — prices that are so low.
And, in some cases, we’re storing oil and getting paid for storage because we have a tremendous capacity for it. So, what’s happened with the Strategic Reserves is incredible.
Q And the additional aid might be announced this week? Or do you have the timeline for that?
THE PRESIDENT: Say it?
Q Additional aid might be announced this week or do you have the timeline for it?
THE PRESIDENT: On — on that?
Q For oil — for oil companies.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, it’s — you mean a plan to help them out?
THE PRESIDENT: I would say shortly. I mean, right now, we’re dealing with some of the big ones, but we’re — the big ones are very strong. They’ve been very strong over the years. I think that they’re not going to have the problem.
But we have a lot of great people and a lot of great jobs in Texas and Oklahoma and North Dakota and other states that are great. It’s energy. It’s not — I don’t even call it oil; I call it energy. This is — this is the backbone of — of the world, really.
You know, you can talk all of the green — I’m all for green. But the green can’t power these massive factories that are being built in this country. It just can’t. The windmills aren’t going to be able to do it, and solar is not going to be able to do it. And I love solar, but it’s not going to be able to do it.
And, you know, we’re getting it for the right price, but we’re not going to let our — we’re energy independent. We’re not going to let our energy industry down. We’re not going to let them — and it’s not our fault. It’s not their fault. But we’re not going to let anything happen to them. So we’re working on that very hard.
I think protecting energy and energy independence — to me, that’s a very big part of what happened. You know, we — energy has really helped me turn this country into the economic power that it’s been, and we’re not going to let that go.
And, sure, it’s going to have a couple of bad years. We have a tremendous oversupply. The reason we have the oversupply though — number one, it was a very efficient business. And — but the reason we have it is because the demand got cut in half one day by this — by this plague. One day, all of a sudden — take a look at the roads, it goes from packed highways, everybody traveling, going all over, to no cars on the road. I mean, that was 25, 30 percent right there. But then there’s other things — factories that aren’t working right now because of this.
We did a great thing last night, using the powers that we have to make sure that the processes and — and all of the delivery of our food chain, that it was protected and safe. And those people — we were on the phone with, all of them, this morning — pretty much all of them, as you probably know. They were cheering — literally cheering over the phone.
We did some good moves. Not moves — not money moves, so much as — as commonsense moves. Because they were being — you know, they were being hurt by stupidity. And we have them really back online.
So I think that we put out — that’s called “burning embers,” too. We put out a fire. So there’ll be plenty of meat and pork and everything that you want. Yeah.
Q And — and, Mr. President, you said you were anxious to get out the White House. Might we see some travel in the next week or so?
THE PRESIDENT: I think so. I think I’m going to Arizona next week. And we look forward to that. And I’m going to, I hope, Ohio very soon. And we’re going to start to move around. And hopefully, in the not-too-distant future, we’ll have some massive rallies and people will be sitting next to each other. I can’t imagine a rally where you have every fourth seat full. Every — every six seats are empty for every one that you have full. That wouldn’t look too good.
No, I — look, I hope that we’re going to be able to do some good, old-fashioned, 25,000-person rallies, where everyone is going wild because they love our country. Okay?
Q When you do expect that to happen?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I’m going to Arizona and that’s a little bit different. That’s having to do with industry, because it’s too soon for — you know, for the big — for the big — everybody get together and stand next to each other crowds. But that’ll be next week. I don’t know, it — it’ll depend.
It also depends on states. You know, you have different states. Some states are really in great shape now, and some states will be in great shape.
But a lot of progress has been made. A lot of progress has been made. It’s pretty incredible. Even — if you look in New York, I spoke with Governor Cuomo at length today and, you know, they were on that other side of the curve. A lot less. It’s been hit very hard. You know, it’s — it’s New York and you probably would expect that, but they’re on the other side of that curve. The — the bed usage and the people coming to hospitals is way down — much lower than it was.
So a lot of very positive signs are happening. Okay?
Q So you expect to be able to hold rallies before the election? Do you think that —
THE PRESIDENT: I hope so. I hope so. Look, we have a tremendous pent-up demand. They love what we’re doing. They don’t want to have taxes raised. They don’t want to have stupid things happening. They like the trade deals. We’ve made great trade deals — I mean, the greatest trade deals ever made in this country. And that’s what they want.
And we have a lot of them that were lined up and ready to be done. Right, Kevin? We have deals that were lined up with countries ready to be done that were so good for our country, so good for our workers. And then this scourge came along and — you know, that’s the last thing people are thinking about right now. It’s — you know, we put them on hold for a little while.
But — but, no, I hope to have — I hope to see football games and baseball games and basketball. Now, ba- — for basketball, you’re going to have to have a little bit of time. I don’t know what they’re going to do. Maybe they’ll be able to play sort of toward the finals or the playoffs or whatever they’re doing.
I saw baseball is doing something very unusual. I don’t know — I don’t know if I agree with it. I’d like to see the Yankees play at Yankee Stadium. I see they have some ideas for baseball that are very different. I guess I’m a traditionalist. But I think they’d be able to play at Yankee Stadium with obviously smaller crowds, and then the crowds would start to build as things get to be a little bit better.
But, no, I — I think you’re going to see some — some big things happening. And, again, this is going away. This is going away. You know, I think we’re going to come up with vaccines and all, but this is going away. And when it’s gone, we’re going to be doing a lot of things.
And again, you have to look. Other areas — there are areas — you know, we all look at New York and we see New York and New Jersey and some of these very high-density places where they’re doing a very good job. It’s just — you know, it’s not easy. But you have areas that are really at a very low point and — and really heading — I would say, heading south quickly, and that’s what we want. So we’ll see how it all works out. I think it’s working very good.
How about one more. Anybody else?
Q Just on that point of this going away: Not to belabor the point, but isn’t it going away because people are staying in their homes and people are not traveling, and once they come back out —
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah, maybe. Maybe.
Q — there’s no evidence that it would go away.
THE PRESIDENT: And maybe that’s it. And I — I cannot tell you how dedicated the people of this country have been, in terms of that. Yeah. You know one thing: If you stay in your home, you’re not catching it. If you stay in your place and you don’t go out — you know, which is what people were doing. But they want to go out now. They want to get back. And they want to do what they have to do.
And some of the facts are coming out, and we did all the right moves. I’ll tell you, we did — we wouldn’t do — we were talking to Mike before. If we didn’t do what we did, you would’ve had a million people die, maybe more. Maybe 2 million people die. And if you think that we’d be at 65 or 70 or 60 or whatever the final number will be — one is too many. I always say it: One is far too many. This should’ve never been allowed to happen. It should’ve been stopped a long time ago, before it ever got here or to other countries.
But if you really think about it, you could’ve had — I take a look at Elmhurst Hospital. I take a look at some of these places that I know, growing up in Queens, and I know them. Elmhurst Hospital. I know these places very well, like the back of my hand. And you see body bags lying all over the hallways and outside and going into refrigerated trucks. Multiply that number by 10 or 20 if we didn’t do what we did. It wouldn’t be acceptable. It wouldn’t be sustainable. Nobody would’ve accepted that. It would’ve been a terrible thing.
We — we’ve just — we’ve done it right. I — I can’t — I can’t believe how incredible the American people have been, because they went out and they really did this, Chris. You know, when you think they went out and — and they did what they had to do.
You know, there’re — every once in a while, a country like Sweden will be thrown out or Brazil. Now, Brazil is having a hard time because they — you know, they’re have a hard time. But Sweden — the people in Sweden, they’re not running around and shaking hands and hugging and kissing each other. You know, they’re — the bars are closed and the — the people are staying in the house.
The Prime Minister doesn’t have to — doesn’t have to say in Sweden, “Stay in your house.” The people stay there automatically. And, you know, they’re using that as an example, but they’ve been hit hard. They’ve been hit hard. But again, their prac- — you call it automatic. I mean, it’s automatic distancing. It’s automatic protection. But places were closed, the bars were closed. You can’t stand at the bars. You can’t do certain things.
You know — now, what we did was — what we did is a great tribute to this country. But if we lost — so if we lose 65,000 people — it’s so crazy to say it. It’s just so horrible. But if we lose 65,000 people, and instead of that going the other route, we would have lost a million or a million and a half or 2 million. It’s possible. It’s possible that you lost more. But could you imagine? Look how horrible it is to lose 65 and then multiply that times many, many times. That would not be sustainable.
So, I think with all of that, I want to just thank everybody. And I want to thank — these business folks are — are just tremendously talented people. People have no idea how talented they are, the job they do.
And we’re getting our way back. And we’re getting our way back, I think, much faster than people think, and I think it’s going to be a much more — a much more successful launch than anybody would have thought. I really think next year is going to be a tremendous year. And I think the fourth quarter is going to be — Larry, I think the fourth quarter is going to be fantastic. I can feel it.
MR. KUDLOW: Thank you. I feel great. Thank you, Mr. President. I can feel it very much.
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah. Yeah. I can feel the demand. It’s — it’s going to be really fantastic.
Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you.
END 5:30 P.M. EDT