Coronavirus Task Force Briefing for Tuesday

Testing is vital to getting the country reopened.

President Trump met with reporters in the White House Briefing Room on Tuesday. He began with love and prayers of every American for every person who has lost a loved one due to this Invisible Enemy.  He thanked the medical professionals who continue working so hard.

Twenty states are making plans to reopen their areas safely and with tremendous passion—the country wants to get back to work.

The Senate passed the relief package that will help small businesses. This $482 billion funding package includes $382 for small business support, $75 billion to aid hospitals, and $25 billion to support coronavirus testing efforts. The House will be voting on it very soon.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin thanked the Senate leadership for passing the bill and also thanked those in the House leadership for working with them. There is tremendous support for the PPP (Paycheck Protection Program). These funds will go out soon. $50 billion is available for small business disaster loans. Unprecedented funds for testing have been voted through. Hospitals, doctors and nurses need every bit of the funds being allotted.

Over a million companies with less than ten workers have received these loans. Shake Shack returned the money they got. They are putting out a FAQ for small businesses. This will outline again the certification needed.  Small businesses are hiring their people back which is the object of this program.

Q&A:  Secreatry Mnuchin took questions from the reporters. He said he is pleased with the operation of the PPP program, how quickly the funding was accessed, and how more than 30 million workers have already been impacted. Phase Four for infrastructure including broad band to rural areas is in planning, and also funding for states with fiscal issues. Phase Four will probably cover what the nation needs. “We are working with the Federal Reserve on liquidity. We expect rebounding in the summer. We are working with Congress,“ said the secretary.

There is oversight with a committee in Congress, full transparency in, and a new inspector general named by President Trump. Secretary Mnuchin said he has been working around the clock for days with members of Congress. Mark Meadows, White House Chief of Staff, has also been a major participant in getting things done.  “We are working with the Energy Department about the oil and gas industry and what kind of help they may require. We want to maintain our energy independence and we are looking into all of our options,“ concluded the secretary.

The president said he is issuing a temporary suspension of immigration into the U.S. This will help Americans be first in line for jobs when the nation reopens. “We must first take care of the American worker,“ he said. The pause will be in effect for 60 days, after which any extension will be evaluated based on economic conditions at the time, and will only apply to those receiving green cards. It will not apply to those coming on a temporary basis. “We will work to continue to protect our American workers as we move forward,“ he assured. This will also help conserve vital medical services for our American citizens, protect the solvency of our healthcare systems.

Vice President Pence met with ventilator manufacturers today.

He said he had a productive meeting with New York Governor Cuomo about doubling testing in the next few weeks in New York State. They will continue to control their testing and managing their laboratories. The federal government will work along with them to help them secure additional tests, hoping this model will work with other states as well. Most states have exceptional laboratories.

He outlined the numbers of ventilators, hospital beds, masks and other equipment that have been delivered across the nation.

The vice president has asked Governor Cuomo if the USS Comfort could return to Virginia to be available for its next mission, and the New York governor has agreed. It had been converted to care for COVID-19 patients.

The FDA has approved a LabCorp home-testing kit. Four different antibody tests have been authorized. These will help in determining who can donate convalescent plasma.

Gain is being made against the unseen enemy. There is a “lot of light” at the end of the tunnel as the process begins to get back to work.

Dr. Deborah Birx related that there is improvement across all large metro areas. Detroit is doing well; New Orleans is nearly back to their baseline. Improvements in Chicago and Boston are reflected in the numbers flattening. They have been large concerns. She named other cities with flattening curves. The DC metro area is not yet declining, so keep social distancing.

“We need to protect the vulnerable all across the country. We are still seeing outbreaks in long-term care facilities. Social distancing is so important because of comorbidity,“ said Dr. Birx. “As individual Americans we need to continue all of their hygiene practices, and not bring the virus home to vulnerable individuals,” she continued. This continues through all three phases. An informed and knowledgeable community is a protected community, she said.

“We want to support states to test in the most vulnerable areas. We will continue to see mortality and deaths, so continue to unite and really support our healthcare providers who have been on the front line for weeks,“ she urged. They have not yet seen relief because of the delay in hospitalizations and deaths. She thanked them for giving us one of the lowest mortality rates in the world.

Dr. Stephen Hahn with the FDA said they have removed barriers from many tests. Antibody tests are being developed. They are one piece of the larger response to returning to our economy. This is an unprecedented pandemic in its nature all around the world. The various tests detect various parts of the disease.

He discussed laboratory validations and the FDA expects manufacturers and developers to validate their tests. “We have given laboratories and others helps. We are working with CDC and NCI on independent validations, and we will be getting more information this week on that. We also want to go after anyone who says the test is authorized but it isn’t,“ said Dr. Hahn. There are 140 companies that are pursuing certification but have not yet received it. Not all tests on the market have been validated and their information should say so.

Preliminary data, which is not definitive nor clinical-trial based, still offers help in determining the usefulness of certain medications. There are more than 40 clinical trials ongoing, and it will be early summer before the results are available.

As the Lord Leads, Pray with Us…

  • For the president as he works for the American citizens and economy.
  • For the Task Force as they support the states and governors in testing.
  • That pandemic numbers would continue to flatten and decrease.

Sources: Fox News, C-SPAN


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