President Trump and the coronavirus task force give an update from Washington, DC.
President Trump tried to assure Americans on Monday that hospitals and health care facilities across the country will be stocked and supplied with the necessary equipment to handle the expected surge of causes related to the coronavirus over the next two weeks.
“Progress has been made before the surge,” Trump said during the White House coronavirus briefing on Monday. “The next week, week and half is when the big surge is going to come.”
The president rattled of a list of medical supplies – from ventilators to N95 respirator masks – that the government has acquired and plans to distribute through the Federal Emergency Management Agency to the states most in need.
Trump also thanked private companies like 3M, Apple and Salesforce who have vowed to produce and supplies masks, face shields and other medical supplies.
“Resources from national stockpile need to reach these warriors in the hospitals as soon as possible,” Trump said.
The president struck a much more optimistic tone during Monday’s press conference than he had in recent days – noting that while the surge of the contagion has not yet arrived, he is hopeful that the country is now well-prepared to meet it.
“We’re starting to see light at the end of the tunnel,” Trump said. “There is a light at the end of the tunnel.”
The president’s sanguinity, however, has been countered in recent days by grimmer assessments by public health officials and state governors.
Surgeon General Jerome Adams warned on Sunday that “This is going to be the hardest and the saddest week of most Americans’ lives, quite frankly.”
“This is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment, only it’s not going to be localized,” said Adams, the nation’s top doctor, told CNN. “It’s going to be happening all over the country. And I want America to understand that.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the toll in the coming week is “going to be shocking to some, but that’s what is going to happen before it turns around, so just buckle down.”
Fauci said the virus probably won’t be wiped out entirely this year, and that unless the world gets it under control, it will “assume a seasonal nature.”
“We need to be prepared that, since it unlikely will be completely eradicated from the planet, that as we get into next season, we may see the beginning of a resurgence,” Fauci said. “That’s the reason why we’re pushing so hard in getting our preparedness much better than it was.”
Trump deflected from recent criticism from Democrats and some governors regarding the slow pace of the federal government’s response to the pandemic, instead he spent his time of the dais praising his administration’s response over the last few weeks.
“They’re very happy on the phone,” Trump said of a conversation Vice President Mike Pence had with the country’s governors. “They’re very happy every one of them…States are very happy, if they’re not happy they can call me directly.”
The number of people infected in the U.S. has exceeded 362,000, with the death toll climbing past 10,000. More than 3,000 of those deaths are in New York City alone, but a glimmer of hope there came in the last two days when Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo said his state registered a small dip in new fatalities over a 48-hour period.
Another glimmer of hope coms from California, where Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday the state would lend 500 ventilators to the national stockpile for use by New York and other states experiencing a crush of coronavirus-related hospitalizations.
The loan comes after California’s hospitals added more than 3,000 ventilators to their supplies through refurbishing old or broken ones and buying some new. In total, California hospitals have more than 11,000 ventilators, a boost that Newsom said made the state comfortable to share its supply.
“We’re very proud to be able to extend a hand of support with those 500 ventilators and send them back east,” Newsom said during a news conference. But he said the state is “not naive” to its own needs.
“We need to continue to procure more ventilators,” he said.
Newsom’s decision follows Oregon and Washington committing to transfer ventilators to New York. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said the state will return more than 400 ventilators of the 500 it got from the federal government. Inslee, a Democrat, said his statewide stay-at-home order and weeks of social distancing led to slower rates of infections and deaths in Washington, which saw the first serious coronavirus outbreak in the country.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.