James S. Brady Press Briefing Room Washington D.C. March 16 3:21 P.M. EDT
Thank you very much. Thank you. So, I'm glad to see that you're practicing social distancing. That looks very nice. It's very good.
I want to thank everybody for being here today. This morning I spoke with the leaders of the G7 - G7 nations - and they really had a good meeting. I think it was a very, very productive meeting. I also spoke with our nation's governors.
This afternoon, we're announcing new guidelines for every American to follow over the next 15 days as we combat the virus. Each and every one of us has a critical role to play in stopping the spread and transmission of the virus. We did this today, and this was done by a lot of very talented people, some of whom are standing with me. And that's available. And Dr. Birx will be speaking about that in just a few minutes.
It's important for the young and healthy people to understand that while they may experience milder symptoms, they can easily spread this virus, and they will spread it indeed, putting countless others in harm's way. We especially worry about our senior citizens.
The White House Task Force meets every day and continually updates guidelines based on the fast-evolving situation that this has become all over the world. It's all over the world. It's incredible what's happened in such a short period of time.
On the guidelines of the task force, the new modeling conducted by Dr. Birx, and our consultation with governors, we've made the decision to further toughen the guidelines and blunt the infection now. We'd much rather be ahead of the curve than behind it, and that's what we are. Therefore, my administration is recommending that all Americans, including the young and healthy, work to engage in schooling from home when possible. Avoid gathering in groups of more than 10 people. Avoid discretionary travel. And avoid eating and drinking at bars, restaurants, and public food courts.
If everyone makes this change or these critical changes and sacrifices now, we will rally together as one nation and we will defeat the virus. And we're going to have a big celebration all together.
With several weeks of focused action, we can turn the corner and turn it quickly. A lot of progress has been made. I'm also pleased to report today that a vaccine candidate has begun the phase one clinical trial. This is one of the fastest vaccine development launches in history. Not even close. We're also racing to develop antiviral therapies and other treatments. And we've had some promising results - early results, but promising - to reduce the severity and the duration of the synd- - of the symptoms.
And I have to say that our government is prepared to do whatever it takes. Whatever it takes, we're doing. We're doing it in every way.
And with that, I'd like to just introduce Dr. Birx, who's going to discuss some of the things that we strongly recommend.
Thank you, Mr. President. I think you know, over the last months, we've taken very bold action to stop the virus from coming to our shores. And because of that, we gained time to really get together and understand the progress across the globe of what has worked and what hasn't worked.
We now need to appeal to every single American so that they can have their role in stopping the spread of this virus. We've talked about things before, about washing your hands, but we really want to focus on: If you are sick, no matter who you are, please stay home. If someone in your household is diagnosed with this virus, the entire household should quarantine in the house to prevent spread of the virus to others.
The reason we're taking these strong and bold steps is because we know there is virus spread before you develop symptoms, and then we know that there's a large group - we don't know the precise percent yet - that actually is asymptomatic or has such mild cases that they continue to spread the virus. If your children are sick, please keep them home.
Now, to our older population or those with preexisting medical conditions, everyone in the household needs to focus on protecting them. Everyone in the household.
I want to speak particularly to our largest generation now: our millennials. I have - I'm the mom of two wonderful millennial young women who are bright and hardworking, and I will tell you what I told to them: They are the core group that will stop this virus. They're the group that communicates successfully, independent of picking up a phone. They intuitively know how to contact each others without being in large social gatherings.
We're asking all of them to hold their gatherings to under 10 people, not just in bars and restaurants, but in homes. We really want people to be separated at this time, to be able to address this virus comprehensively that we cannot see, for which we don't have a vaccine or a therapeutic. The only thing we have right now is the amazing ingenuity and compassion of the American people.
We're appealing to all Americans to take these steps to protect each other and to ensure that the virus doesn't spread. These guidelines are very specific. They're very detailed. They will only work if every American takes this together to heart and responds as one nation and one people to stop the spread of this virus.
Thank you very much, Dr. Birx. So just to connect with what I mentioned to you in previous discussions in this room - and Dr. Birx said it very well - that in order to be able to contain and curtail this epidemic to not reach its maximum capability, we have a two-pillar approach, one of which I believe has been very effective in preventing the substantial seeding, and namely the travel restrictions that we've discussed many times in this room.
The other, equally, if not more important, is when you have infection in your own country, which we do. And you know I could read the numbers, but they're really, essentially, what we've seen yesterday: incremental increases, both globally as well as in the United States, with the curve doing that. So therefore, the kinds of things that we do are containment and mitigation.
This - what we're mentioning now - the guidelines, when you look at them carefully, I believe if the people in the United States take them seriously, because they were based on some rather serious consideration back and forth, some may look at them and say they're going to be really inconvenient for people. Some will look and say, well, maybe we've gone a little bit too far. They were well thought out.
And the thing that I want to reemphasize, and I'll say it over and over again: When you're dealing with an emerging infectious diseases outbreak, you are always behind where you think you are if you think that today reflects where you really are. That's not word speak. It means: If you think you're here, you're really here because you're only getting the results; therefore, it will always seem that the best way to address it were to be doing something that looks like it might be an overreaction. It isn't an overreaction. It's a reaction that we feel is commensurate, which is actually going on in reality.
So take a look at the guidelines. Read them carefully. And we hope that the people of the United States will take them very seriously, because they will fail if people don't adhere to them. We have to have, as a whole country, cooperate and collaborate to make sure these get done.
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