Press Briefing Room Washington D.C. February 26 6:37 P.M. EST
Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you very much.
Before I begin, I'd like to extend my deepest condolences to the victims and families in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Earlier today, a wicked murderer opened fire at a Molson Coors Brewing Company plant, taking the lives of five people. A number of people were wounded, some badly wounded.
Our hearts break for them and their loved ones. We send our condolences. We'll be with them. And it's a terrible thing. A terrible thing. So our hearts go out to the people of Wisconsin and to the families. Thank you very much.
I have just received another briefing from a great group of talented people on the virus that is going around to various parts of the world. We have, through some very good early decisions - decisions that were actually ridiculed at the beginning - we closed up our borders to flights coming in from certain areas, areas that were hit by the coronavirus and hit pretty hard. And we did it very early. A lot of people thought we shouldn't have done it that early, and we did, and it turned out to be a very good thing.
And the number one priority from our standpoint is the health and safety of the American people. And that's the way I viewed it when I made that decision. Because of all we've done, the risk to the American people remains very low. We have the greatest experts in the world - really, in the world, right here - people that are called upon by other countries when things like this happen.
We - we're ready to adapt and we're ready to do whatever we have to as the disease spreads, if it spreads. As most of you know, the - the level that we've had in our country is very low, and those people are getting better, or we think that in almost all cases they're better, or getting. We have a total of 15. We took in some from Japan - you heard about that - because they're American citizens, and they're in quarantine. And they're getting better too.
But we felt we had an obligation to do that. It could have been as many as 42. And we found that we were - it was just an obligation we felt that we had. We could have left them, and that would have been very bad - very bad, I think - of American people. And they're recovering.
Of the 15 people - the "original 15," as I call them - 8 of them have returned to their homes, to stay in their homes until fully recovered. One is in the hospital and five have fully recovered. And one is, we think, in pretty good shape and it's in between hospital and going home.
So we have a total of - but we have a total of 15 people, and they're in a process of recovering, with some already having fully recovered.
We started out by looking at certain things. We've been working with the Hill very, very carefully, very strongly. And I think we have very good bipartisan spirit for money. We were asking for two and a half billion, and we think that's a lot, but the Democrats, and, I guess, Senator Schumer wants us to have much more than that. And normally, in life, I'd say, "We'll take it. We'll take it."
If they want to give more, we'll do more. We're going to spend whatever is appropriate. Hopefully, we're not going to have to spend so much because we really think we've done a great job in keeping it down to a minimum. And again, we've had tremendous success - tremendous success - beyond what people would have thought.
Now, at the same time, you do have some outbreaks in some countries. Italy and various countries are having some difficulty. China, you know about it, where it started.
I spoke with President Xi. We had a great talk. He's working very hard, I have to say. He's working very, very hard. And if you can count on the reports coming out of China, that spread has gone down quite a bit. The infection seems to have gone down over the last two days. As opposed to getting larger, it's actually gotten smaller. In one instance where we think we can be - it's somewhat reliable, it seems to have gotten quite a bit smaller.
With respect to the money that's being negotiated, they can do whatever they want. I mean, again, we'll do the two and a half. We're requesting two and a half. Some Republicans would like us to get four, and some Democrats would like us to get eight and a half. And we'll be satisfied whatever - whatever it is.
We're bringing in a specialist - a very highly regarded specialist - tomorrow, who works, actually, at the State Department. Very, very tremendously talented in doing this.
I want you to understand something that shocked me when I saw it that - and I spoke with Dr. Fauci on this, and I was really amazed, and I think most people are amazed to hear it: The flu, in our country, kills from 25,000 people to 69,000 people a year. That was shocking to me.
And, so far, if you look at what we have with the 15 people and their recovery, one is - one is pretty sick but hopefully will recover, but the others are in great shape. But think of that: 25,000 to 69,000.
Over the last 10 years, we've lost 360,000. These are people that have died from the flu - from what we call the flu. "Hey, did you get your flu shot?" And that's something.
Now, what we've done is we've stopped non-U.S. citizens from coming into America from China. That was done very early on. We're screening people, and we have been, at a very high level - screening people coming into the country from infected areas.
We have in quarantine those infected and those at risk. We have a lot of great quarantine facilities. We're rapidly developing a vaccine, and they can speak to you - the professionals can speak to you about that. The vaccine is coming along well. And in speaking to the doctors, we think this is something that we can develop fairly rapidly, a vaccine for the future, and coordinate with the support of our partners. We have great relationships with all of the countries that we're talking about. Some fairly large number of countries. Some it's one person, and many countries have no problem whatsoever. And we'll see what happens.
But we're very, very ready for this, for anything - whether it's going to be a breakout of larger proportions or whether or not we're - you know, we're at that very low level, and we want to keep it that way.
So we're at the low level. As they get better, we take them off the list, so that we're going to be pretty soon at only five people. And we could be at just one or two people over the next short period of time. So we've had very good luck.
The Johns Hopkins, I guess - is a highly respected, great place - they did a study, comprehensive: "The Countries Best and Worst Prepared for an Epidemic." And the United States is now - we're rated number one. We're rated number one for being prepared. This is a list of different countries.
I don't want to get in your way, especially since you do such a good job.
This is a list of the different countries. The United States is rated number one most prepared. United Kingdom, Netherlands, Australia, Canada, Thailand, Sweden, Denmark, South Korea, Finland. These - this is a list of the best-rated countries in the world by Johns Hopkins.
We're doing something else that's important to me, because he's been terrific in many ways, but he's also very good on healthcare. And we really followed him very closely - a lot of states do - when Mike was governor - Mike Pence - of Indiana. They've established great healthcare. They have a great system there. It's a system that a lot of - a lot of the other states have really looked to and changed their systems. They wanted to base it on the Indiana system. It's very good. And I think - and he's, really, very expert at the field.
And what I've done is I'm going to be announcing, exactly right now, that I'm going to be putting our Vice President, Mike Pence, in charge. And Mike will be working with the professionals, doctors, and everybody else that's working. The team is brilliant. I spent a lot of time with the team over the last couple of weeks, but they're totally brilliant, and we're doing really well. And Mike is going to be in charge, and Mike will report back to me. But he's got a certain talent for this.
And I'm going to ask Mike Pence to say a few words. Please. Thank you. Mike?
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