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In briefing, Trump expresses eagerness to return economy to normal

On Monday evening, the White House held another briefing to update the country on national measures to fight the coronavirus pandemic. Once again, President Trump was flanked by members of the team leading the effort, including Vice President Mike Pence. Yamiche Alcindor joins Judy Woodruff to discuss what Trump said.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, late this afternoon, into the evening, there was another briefing at the White House, President Trump again flanked by those leading the government's fight against COVID-19.

    Our Yamiche Alcindor is at the White House. She joins me now.

    So, Yamiche, bring us up to date. What have you been hearing?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Well, the president has really been stressing that he is doing all that he can to fight off the coronavirus and its spread in the United States.

    And he said that he had a message for Americans, which is that the government is doing everything possible to get medical supplies to health care systems. He also said that he is really making sure that people have what they need when it comes to essentials, like hand sanitizer and other things.

    But the president also stressed that he is eager to get the economy back on track. And all day, Judy, White House sources have been telling me that the president is looking at possibly trying to see whether or not he is going to adjust the White House guidelines that expire a week from today.

    Here is what he said specifically about the economy:

  • President Donald Trump:

    America will again and soon be open for business very soon, a lot sooner than three or four months that somebody was suggesting, a lot sooner.

    We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself. We are not going to let the cure be worse than the problem.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Now, the president then is saying that the economy is going to be starting up sooner than people say, sooner than people are recommending.

    But the president also said that the coronavirus outbreak could last in the United States all the way until August. And health care officials have said and have stressed that social distancing is going to be key to fighting the virus.

    The other thing that the president said that was a little bit misleading and a little bit different from what the experts are saying is that he said that the virus has spread to 148 countries, Judy. It's actually 162, according to his administration, the CDC.

    The other thing to note, the president did say and had a message for Asian Americans. He didn't use Chinese virus, that term that he has been getting a lot of pushback for. Instead, he's stressed the fact that Asian Americans shouldn't be attacked or targeted.

    He said they are special people in this country and they are helping fighting the virus, along with all other Americans here.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, Yamiche, in addition to that, we know there's been some signaling from the White House, maybe from the president himself, that there may be a change in those guidelines from the White House for the next — for the 15-day period?

    What are you hearing about that?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    That's right.

    For a long time, states were saying that they wanted federal guidance to figure out whether or not bars should close, whether or not restaurants should close, whether or not people should be gathering in crowds of 10 or more. The White House came out with guidelines saying, yes, people should stay at home when they can.

    They also said that workers, if you can work from home, you should. But the president stressed that that was a 15-day guidance and that he would reassess it. Now White House sources are telling me that the guidelines are set to expire on Monday, that they might actually either be ended or changed.

    Also, Vice President Pence said that the CDC was going to be coming out with new guidelines, which would — which would make it available for workers who have been exposed to the virus to go back to work using some sort of mask, he said.

    Now, we're not quite clear what workers would be cleared to go back to work or what the guidelines would say specifically, but it is pretty remarkable that this administration could tell workers that they can go back to work, when we have masks that are in dire shortage of — hospitals.

    And this administration has said that any masks or any gowns or any sort of medical equipment, that that should really be used for health care officials that are treating coronavirus immigrants — I mean, sorry — excuse me — coronavirus patients.

    So what we have here is this idea that the Trump administration might be allowing people to go back to work with supplies that hospitals and health care workers need.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, Yamiche, very quickly, anti-malaria medicine the president's been recommending, just what do we know about that in a few seconds?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Yes, the president's been saying that there's a sort of medicine that's used to treat malaria, that it might be something that's effective for the coronavirus.

    I have been talking to FDA officials who have been stressing all day that none of that has been cleared. No medication at all has been approved by the FDA to treat the coronavirus.

    And, frankly, Judy, there's a man who, unfortunately, died self-medicating on some of the medications that the president has been recommending. So health officials are really sounding the alarm and saying, hold on, let's wait. We're going to have trials in New York and other states before anything is approved.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Yamiche Alcindor, thank you very much.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Thanks so much.

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