President and Task Force Update for Friday

Food supply chain support and testing to reopen the country are priorities.

President Trump reviewed the reopening guidelines from the White House briefing room on Friday. More than 80 million Americans have received their stimulus checks in their bank accounts. If they have not been received, people should contact the IRS with ‘Get My Payment.’ Less than 1 percent of the sends had any problems and they were minor, correctable glitches.

The president announced that Secretary Perdue at Agriculture will be implementing a $19 billion program for America’s farmers and ranchers. The program will include direct payment as well as mass purchases in order to get food to the people in need. Another $14 billion will be available in July.

Secretary Perdue reported that the Administration has U.S. farmers’ backs. USDA has a food assistance program – one part is direct payment of $16 billion, the purchases of $3 billion in fresh produce, dairy and meat products to deliver to people in need, faith-based organizations, and food banks. It is troublesome to have produce plowed under when fellow Americans are in need. Our farmers continue to plant as they do every spring.

President Trump said that all out medical war against the virus continues.  3.78 million tests have been conducted so far; with the hardest hit areas like New York and Louisiana having a preponderance of the testing.

A new saliva test that can be self-administered is coming out.

Hospitals and academic institutions are also performing tests. There is a lot of unused capacity for governors to take advantage of. The governors are responsible for testing.  One million tests per week are available.

The FDA announced a new collaboration with a number of organizations for swabs including a new polyester-tipped swab, to help with the testing.

There is false and misleading information out there that demonstrates a complete failure about the level of testing that is occurring. The capability to test is far greater than has been reported.

The president assured, ”We will help New York and all other states get even better on the testing.” He added, ”We are continuing to produce ventilators, and at this time we will be providing ventilators to Mexico for them to confront the coronavirus.”

The president said he is hopeful ”we will have our country back in the not-too-distant future. We will be hearing a lot about reopening in the coming weeks as very dramatic but safe steps are taken. Safety is first.”  The death rate in the U.S. has been far under what the initial models indicated. President Trump stated, ”The people of this country have been incredible. We seem to be presently heading for around 60,000 deaths. One is too many. This is a horrible thing that has happened to our country and 184 other countries.”

The FDA has authorized two new antibody tests, bringing the total to four antibody tests, to help to assess the number of cases that have been asymptomatic. These will also help people get back to work.

The president noted, ”America’s scientific brilliance is beyond compare, and we are respected around the world.”

NIH is conducting clinical trials of a number of therapies. They announced today a public-private partnership with more than a dozen biotechnical companies. It will marshal and coordinate the vast resources across the nation to accelerate development of the most hopeful vaccines and therapies. Testing takes a long period of time, for vaccines well over a year unfortunately. But therapies are immediate.

”Our medical warriors on the front lines are being helped by Project Airbridge. We are rebuilding our strategic stockpile, even as we continue to supply the states with what they need,” said the president. Five hundred million masks are coming in soon.

”This is a vicious enemy, but each day we are getting closer to having the light at the end of the tunnel shine very brightly,” he assured.

He introduced Vice President Mike Pence to review testing capabilities.

The vice president began by saying, “We are making progress, America.” According to best data reporting this morning, cases and hospitalizations continue declining in New York, New Orleans, Detroit and elsewhere. This is a great tribute to those on the front lines and also to the American people. ”We hope every American is encouraged by the steady progress we are making,” he said.

A major disaster declaration was made today for American Samoa, so all 50 states and all territories are under disaster declarations, the first time ever for the United States.

He mentioned how military personnel are serving in hospitals in many hotspots across the country.

The vice president reviewed the guidelines for reopening America, the gatekeeping criteria, and the phases of the plan. Governors will decide the time and manner that their states will reopen and the administration will look to support them in this. ”We will continue to work with governors to assure that the have what they need to reopen safely and responsibly,” Vice President Pence stated.

They have been informed of the supplies delivered to their state from FEMA and through the various supply networks. As of April 16, millions of pieces of equipment have been delivered b y FEMA.

The vice president spoke about the testing process and resources. Labs and hospitals are now performing more than 120,000 tests a day. Additional testing capacity is being identified and states could probably double their test capacity. The administration will inform the states on Monday.

The new tests, the 16-minute tests, and the antibody tests, are providing information that states and the CDC need.  ”Our best scientists and experts assess that today the states have enough testing equipment to complete the criteria prior to Phase One if they decide to do so,” the vice president said.

”We continue to work every single day to make sure the states have what they need to reopen at the time of their choosing in a safe and responsible way,” Vice President Pence assured.

Dr. Fauci spoke answering the question of whether there are enough tests. He gave a broad overview. He reiterated that there are different tests and different subgroups. Tests for those who are not known to have had the virus vary from those who have recovered. while others may have been asymptomatic carriers. He reviewed the pluses and minuses of each, because they impact how the tests are used.

”The ‘are you infected test’ is not easy, and there are different kinds of them. It is sensitive specifically, so if it tests positive, then you are infected, and care can be provided. A negative test today does not necessarily mean a negative tomorrow. Repeated testing becomes an issue,” the doctor stated.  The key is avoiding risk behaviors.

The other test is an antibody test that tells someone that they have previously been infected. ”You will know what the penetrance of infection has been and make the assumption that you are immune from reinfection – but we don’t know for how long you are protected,” Dr. Fauci said.

The doctor continued, ”The difference between testing and monitoring what is out there is being able to identify, isolate, contact-trace, while pulling back on mitigation, is absolutely needed to be done. Don’t underestimate testing, it is part of a multifaceted way to control the spread of the virus.”

Dr. Fauci said that testing, monitoring and mitigation are all important. There have been situations that needed addressing and correcting from a testing standpoint. They are being resolved as they come up. The remains some gap between the doctor, hospital, and test providers. Supply and demand has also been an issue, with making sure the the supply is connected to the demand.

As production as met the needed demand, communication needs to improve. Dr. Fauci continued, ”Given all of that, for what we need in the first phase, if things are done correctly, we will have and there will be enough tests to take us safely through Phase One.”

Dr. Robert Redfield of CDC spoke about the multiple systems to monitor for various diseases, and they now have a system for tracing upper respiratory infections. He showed charts of Influenza B, A and then the coronavirus, where they can track illnesses. ”So we are well-equipped to monitor these diseases so we can follow the virus epidemiologically,” he assured.

CDC continues to enhance state public health capacity to accelerate their capacity. ”This is critical as we open America again,” Dr. Redfield said. Diagnosing, isolating, and contact tracing are followed by diagnosing the trace results.

CDC is imbedded in state and local health departments. Further deployment is being enhanced in each state to help accelerate the states’ ability to be able to move forward expediently to open up America again.

Dr. Deborah Birx reviewed again the types of tests. Front of nose sampling for the virus itself; and the second test is the immune response to the virus in one’s nose.

Surveillance will also need to include the asymptomatic monitoring. Nursing homes, indigenous people, inner city people, all need to be checked with the asymptomatic tests.

The antibody tests have different specificities and sensitivities. ”We are taking very seriously the quality of the tests. We want to work with mayors around the U.S. as those tests are available to see how they may appear among first responders and front-line workers,” said Dr. Birx. ”There is a big difference between the lab and the reality of what is out there,” she added.

They are trying to build an algorithm of tests for the future.

She showed a map of the locations of current testing platforms across the U.S.  Everything has to be working to get the tests run and back to the patient. Another map showed testing capacity. The task force is working with states to unlock their full potential. ”We have called upon teams from Walter Reed and microbiology groups to consider the problems. They are already working through 70-plus laboratories  to ensure that all potential can be unlocked,” she said.

They are addressing each lab across the country one-by-one to see where their roadblocks are. All want to contribute to solving the pandemic and assure that testing is available.  The task force is also involving the states with these labs to provide support so that testing is available for the needs they have.

Vice President Pence amplified the fact that governors across the country have been working closely with the task force, and they will continue to review with governors and state health officials, and the laboratories that are available to help. ”We believe today that we have the capacity in the U.S. to do a sufficient amount of testing for states to move into Phase One at a time and manner they feel appropriate,” he said.

Admiral Giroir, Assistant Secretary for Health, reviewed where the U.S. is now and where the nation has come from in such a short period of time. Over 1.2 million tests have been reported in just the last week. A year of testing might be 2 million for other diseases. ”What we are doing is remarkable,” said the admiral.

The point-of-care tests are not for everybody. Every one of the states at over 600 sites can do these point-of-care tests. It doesn’t matter where someone lives, within ten miles of the site of one of these, there is a lab to cover them.  The laboratories are caught up, ramped up their production, and results can generally be achieved in 48 hours.

He went through some of the particulars on swabs, the fluids in test tubes, and said there would be more than 5 million items available by the end of  April.

He discussed the surveillance of populations to find the ratios of infection to non-infection, and asymptomatic to immune, and the need to take care of the most vulnerable populations.  ”To safely test, we need to be in the range of 4.5 million tests for Phase One. Right now, we are doing 1 to 1.1 million per week and we will be pushing that further,” concluded Admiral Giroir.

As the Lord Leads, Pray with Us…

  • For the president and task force as they support the states and their governors in following the guidelines.
  • For the governors to have wisdom as they evaluate the criteria of their states and counties.

Sources: Fox News,


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